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NOTE: I'd wholeheartedly recommend that you completely disregard this review. It is a review written for ***, not ***½. See, I was in a really nitpicking mood that day, and once I had decided on the rating, I wrote the review to justify the almost-great-but-not-quite designation. There are currently two reasons for the upgrade from *** to ***½, seeing the less cynical and more mature Jammer's Review, and the Orb of the Emissary story is just AWESOME!!

Shadows and Symbols - DS9-7
RATING: ***½
AIRDATE: October 7th, 1998 (ASN)
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
Directed by Allan Kroeker

CAPSULE: Sisko, Ezri, Sisko's Pop, and Jake go on a search for the "Orb of the Emissary". Meanwhile, Kira handles an incident between the Bajorans and the Romulans. Plus, Worf, O'Brien, Bashir, and even Quark go on a mission to destroy a Dominion shipyard so they can get Jadzia into Sto-vo-kor.

QUARK: "That hurt!"
MILES EDWARD O' BRIEN: "It's supposed to hurt!"
            - Quark, upon the mandatory Klingon ceremonial blood-letting.

QUARK: "She's so much shorter..."
            - Quark, upon his first glimpse of Ezri Dax.

            Anyone who missed "Image in the Sand" (like I did), missed A LOT. Thankfully, the introduction made a valiant effort to bring people up to speed on the current Deep Space Nine issues. Let's recap:

            "Tears of the Prophets" [DS9-6]: The Federation/Klingon/Romulan Alliance successfully invades the Zhintacka system within Cardassian space, a major victory. But Sisko was advised by the Prophets not to go, and while he's gone Dukat lets a Paghwraith inside him that gets into an Orb onboard DS9, also killing Jadzia in the process. The Wraith causes the Wormhole to close (causing Weyoon to have a hissy fit), cutting off the Prophets from Bajor. Sisko is deeply disturbed, and he heads back to Earth to contemplate things.

            "Image in the Sand" [DS9-7]: While on Earth, Sisko has a vision from the Prophets involving a face buried in the sand on Tyree. Sisko also finds out that his mom was really a woman named Sarah. Meanwhile, Martok warms Worf up to the idea of undertaking a mission to destroy a Dominion shipyard in the Monack system to get Jadzia into Sto-vo-kor, and the new *Colonel* Kira (now running Deep Space Nine) tries to deal with Romulans placing weapon systems on the Bajoran moon Durna. Just before the episode ends, Ezri Dax walks in and says 'hi'.

And now the conclusion...

"Shadows and Symbols" was a pretty good show overall, but there were some weak bits in the subplots. The main plot was quite good, however, making up for any other problems the show exhibited. We really see some good storytelling. But the episode has so many things to think about at once, it is difficult to summarize how I feel about it in a few paragraphs. Plus, this is my very first review. Not the first review this year, my first review.

The first thing the episode does (after the brief recap) is introduce Ezri Dax. She appears incredibly confused at first, explaining that she never wanted to be joined with the Dax Symbiont. Dax just took a turn for the worse en route to Trill on the USS Destiny, and so it had to be planted right away and as luck would have it, she was the only Trill on board. She was so disoriented afterwards that she took a leave of absence and went to visit the Siskos. But she can't stay for long, as they are all planning to leave for Tyree to hunt down the Orb of the Emissary. Having little else to do, she goes along too.

Meanwhile, on board the Rotarrin, Worf, Bashir and O' Brien prepare to go to Monack to blow up the aforementioned shipyard. At the last second, Quark runs in and professes that he loves Dax just like the rest of them and joins in on the mission, much to Worf's dismay. In other words, he is jealous.

This is a perfect example of a good way to ruin a great episode. This subplot was necessary, but handled wrong. Why couldn't the Rotarrin just rejoin the main battle group and knock out a bunch of Dominion warships? Isn't Martok the leader of the Klingon segment of that battle group? How could they possibly tackle a shipyard ALONE? No matter!

The story then switches over to Sisko & Co. on board a runabout. They are well on their way to Tyree, but Ezri got space sick. That's not the Dax we know. She goes to the back commenting "Aren't you glad I came along?". Jake tells her in private that he is glad she came along, his father seems more chipper now. She mentions that she used to be a level-headed therapist and a promising young officer, then takes a sip of her Rocktagino (a Klingon coffee Curzon and Jadzia enjoyed) and, get this, she doesn't like it! That really isn't the Dax we know. On a related topic, I wouldn't be suprised to see Jake develop a crush on Ezri. Just a thought.

We then flip back to Deep Space Nine again (and this is where we who haven't seen "Image in the Sand" *really* get thrown off...) and see *Colonel* Kira (with a sexy new haircut) discuss Durna with Admiral Ross (this is the guy who gave Sisko the PADD-pushing job at the beginning of season six, remember?). It seems that Durna is a moon someplace within Bajoran space, and the Romulans put weaponry on the surface of it for tactical reasons. Ross can't do anything about it because doing so would jeopardize the Alliance. But Kira can, and she plans to install a blockade around the space side of Durna to keep the Romulans from delivering a crucial final part to the weapons systems.

Back to Sisko now. A voice in his head is saying "Dr. Whickock? Please report to Isolation Ward Four immediately.". What could that mean? No, no one else heard it. I'm intrigued...

Quark soon complains about not being thanked for going along on the mission. The reason is simple, Worf is just jealous. He believes that he is the only one worthy of Dax's favor and acts accordingly. Wow, even Worf doesn't usually act that one-dimensional. I'll say it again, they ruined this subplot.

For the first and only time in this episode, we see Damar and Weyoon. Weyoon tells Damar that they need to increase production at the Monack shipyards so they can send a fleet out to retake the Zhintacka sector (the Alliance successfully invaded it in "Tears of the Prophets"). What they aren't counting on is an outcast, a doctor, an engineer, and a bartender going in aboard an out-moded Bird of Prey and blowing it up. So much for foresight on their part.

We return to Kira. We see that she is now much more intimate with Odo (that's nice) and that the Bajoran Provisional Government can only send out 12 archaic ships to defend Durna (Due to the immense distances in space, even within a star system, I refuse to accept the fact that they are impulse only ships). Kira says that she'll have to bluff.

Sisko and the gang are now hiking across Tyree. Sisko pauses for a moment someplace, wondering where to dig for the Orb. Ezri grabs his baseball and tosses it ahead. Sisko now knows where to dig. How about that.

Meanwhile, Kira has a fairly tense discussion with a Romulan over the subspace transceiver about her little blockade. She says in no uncertain terms that any Romulan ship that gets within transporter range of the blockade will be fired upon. After the conversation is over, it is revealed that the Romulan knows full well that Kira is bluffing.

Sisko is now frantically digging for the orb, continuing to hear the "Dr. Whickock" message over and over in his head. Ezri reflects that he is acting quite strange.

Back on the Rotarrin, Worf has a change of heart about having Bashir, O' Brien, and Quark along on the mission. Worf tells them he is pleased to have them along. Quark just stands by and remarks on everything he says in his smart-alek way.

I think Quark is a little too annoying in this episode. It seems to me that the only point in having him tag along was just for that reason. My stepmother doesn't watch Deep Space Nine because she says she never liked Ferengi. They're not my favorite Trek species, but their presence in the series suffers due to some outrageously bad writing (remember "Profit and Lace" [DS9-6]?).

Martok shows everyone the shipyards on the viewscreen, and boy, are they ever huge! Then he shows 'our target'. It is the star Monack itself. Their goal is now clear, they want to cause a solar-plasma ejection from Monack to destroy the shipyards, which are conveniently close to the star.

Now if a couple of guys could think up the strategy of blowing up the shipyards with a solar yazza yazza yazza in a matter of days, why the heck would those Dominion scientists (engineered to be incredibly smart in the first place!) not think of it and locate their shipyards right next to a star?!

Back to Sisko; he is about to open up the Orb, but he is suddenly absorbed into an intense vision. He is in an empty room with writing all over the walls, holding a pencil in his hand. Dr. Whickock is telling him to put down the pencil. "Mr. Russell" was writing about Captain Sisko, and was just about to write in the part where he opens up the Orb of the Prophets. It's a continuation of "Far Beyond the Stars" [DS9-6], one of my favorite episodes.

Mr. Russell was a 1950's SF writer. He wrote a story about "Deep Space Nine" for the magazine he worked for, and the magazine didn't like the idea of a black captain. He stood up for his story, but he eventually took a nervous breakdown and was taken to a hospital. Now is seems he was committed to an institution.

He's not supposed to write on the walls, but no one will give him any paper or a typewriter or anything. He only wants to create, which most of us believe is our right. He is being denied that right. The doctor says his stories are dangerous.

Wow. Being a budding writer myself, I can imagine how painful it would be if someone took away my right to create. (For some examples of my creativity, check out A View from the Solarium, where CPA means Charles Pillsbury Allen High School) It would be unimaginably painful. Whenever something you see on TV strikes close to home, you tend have a better appreciation of the situation the TV character is in, and that's exactly what happens here.

The doctor hands Mr. Miller a paint roller and tells him to paint over his story, then he can walk away a free man. He says the stories are only words, they are meaningless. They're not real. Miller protests, but to no avail. He is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Sisko takes hold of the paint roller, but hesitates...

Outside the vision, Ezri watches Sisko try to bury the Orb. Obviously the vision and real-life are heavily intertwined.

Meanwhile, a small fleet of warbirds approach the blockade. The Rotarrin fails an attempt to cause a solar-plasma ejection.

Sisko raises his shovel, he is going to destroy the Orb. Ezri stops him, telling him that the Prophets brought him there for a reason. Back in the vision, Mr. Miller knocks out the doctors and finishes his sentence "opens it...". Sisko opens the Orb. A great blue streak emerges from it, and it begins to travel through space, opening up the wormhole, and casting out the Paghwraith.

The Rotarrin finally succeeds in causing the ejection. Now this is a part where I get hung up. Stars are huge. The Monack star looks quite like our star Sol, (about 100 times the size of Earth) and a Bird of Prey has like a dozen crew. This type of ship was small enough to maneuver through gorges on the way to Mount Seylya in Star Trek III! And it can cause a huge reaction in this huge star? Give me a break. I'd expect to see no less then a Galaxy-class starship tackle this solar yazza yazza. Rick Berman needs to hire a scientific advisor, pronto! But the shipyards were destroyed, that's the important thing. Jadzia will get into Sto-vo-kor.

Suddenly, the Romulans break off and depart Durna. Ross told the Romulan that if she didn't remove the weapons, he would do it for her. Kira inspired him. Who says the Prophets didn't influence those events somehow?

Sisko is drawn into an Orb Experience. The Prophet assumes the form of Sarah, his biological mother. She tells him that the whole "Mr. Miller" thing was a false vision from the Paghwraith to get him to destroy the Orb. She also tells him that she took over Sarah's body, and made sure she married Joseph Sisko, making sure Ben was born. Then she left Sarah to her own devices, and she promptly left Joseph because she (Sarah) didn't choose him. Sisko takes this rather well, but he asks 'why'? She says that only 'The Sisko' would do to be the Emissary.

That got me thinking. The Prophets had been running things for longer than Sisko thought! And this entire episode as a whole really showed me how important the Prophets really were.

Everyone is overjoyed to see Sisko return. In a way, he brought the Prophets back to the Bajoran people.

Overall, I really liked this episode. But it is hard to comment on it as part of a continuing story as I missed the previous episode. I particularly enjoyed the bit with Mr. Miller. But it could have been so much better if they had left out the subplots. They just don't fit somehow, and I can't quite work out why.

NOTE: At some future point when "Image in the Sand" airs again and I see it, I'll rewrite the review for this episode.

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