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In the Hands of the Prophets (episode)

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"In the Hands of the Prophets"
DS9, Episode 1x20
Production number: 40511-420
First aired: 20 June 1993
19th of 173 produced in DS9
19th of 173 released in DS9
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 0 released in DS9 Remastered  
277th of 728 released in all
Winn and Neela
Written By
Robert Hewitt Wolfe

Directed By
David Livingston
Unknown (2369)
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Orthodox Bajorans object to secular teachings about the wormhole in the station's school, causing tensions between fundamentalists and the Starfleet crew. (Season Finale)

Summary Edit

TeaserEdit

It is a regular morning aboard Deep Space 9 with Keiko O'Brien heading to school as Chief O'Brien heads to work. The two discuss the sweet taste of a Jumja stick and Miles's Bajoran assistant Neela. Later, Keiko begins teaching the children about the Bajoran wormhole. As the lesson begins, a Bajoran religious leader by the name of Vedek Winn suddenly enters the classroom and asks Keiko to continue. Keiko continues to talk about the wormhole in a scientific way, however Winn argues against the lesson telling Keiko the wormhole is actually the Celestial Temple and the entities living there are the Prophets. Keiko explains that while she appreciates the Bajorans believe these things, she is teaching the children science and not spiritual beliefs. Winn tells Keiko that what she is doing is teaching blasphemy, and warns that she will not allow her to continue.

Act OneEdit

Winn immediately starts to gain support among the Bajoran civilians who live on the station, while Keiko goes to meet with Commander Sisko. Sisko admits that he felt this situation was going to crop up eventually, and admits he sometimes wonders if they can find the common ground needed to help Bajor's admission into the Federation. He asks Kira to join the meeting, and asks her about Winn. Kira explains that Winn is a member of an orthodox Bajoran religious order who is currently in the running to take-up the vacant post of Kai, although she isn't expected to succeed. Kira then reports that she supports both Winn's candidacy as well as her viewpoint regarding teachings about the wormhole and asks Keiko if she would be willing to revise the school curriculum or consider having a separate school for Bajoran children, but Keiko outright rejects both ideas. Sisko suggests that Keiko teach the spiritual beliefs surrounding the wormhole in addition to her current lesson plan, but Kira reminds him that there's two completely different philosophies at the center of the debate. Keiko argues that she isn't trying to teach any philosophy, but Kira states that choosing to talk about the wormhole from a purely scientific point of view is a philosophy in itself.

Ensign Aquino, an Engineer, fails to report for duty at the same time that an EJ-7 interlock is found to be missing from Chief O'Brien's toolbox. A blob of sludge is found in a power conduit on Level 12, Section 8, and analysis by Dr. Bashir reveals that it is the remains of both Ensign Aquino and the EJ-7 interlock. They had apparently been incinerated by a power surge while Aquino worked on the power conduit at 4 AM that morning.

Commander Sisko decides to visit Vedek Winn while she is at the Bajoran Shrine, however he is made uncomfortable when she addresses him as the Emissary of the Prophets. He asks her not to call him that, but she tells him he has taken up a deeply important role in the Bajoran faith, and how she was punished by Kai Opaka when she questioned why a non-believer was the one to find the Prophets when she (Winn) would have done anything to meet them. Wishing to get to the heart of the matter, Sisko asks Winn if she is willing to discuss her issues with the school, but Winn tells Sisko that she is acting on behalf of the Prophets and that there will be serious consequences if Keiko does not back down from her position.

As O'Brien is walking Keiko to school, he stops at a stand for his usual morning jumja stick, but the Bajoran vendor refuses to sell him one. Moving on to the schoolhouse, they meet Vedek Winn outside the school, where she has gathered a group of Bajoran parents and children. Vedek Winn attempts to negotiate: she will not object to Keiko teaching a non-spiritual viewpoint of the Wormhole, if Keiko simply does not teach about the Wormhole at all. Keiko replies that it is her job to open children's minds to knowledge, not to hide it from them. Keiko asks if Vedek Winn will also object to teaching of evolution, and of the origin of the universe. Winn leaves with the Bajoran contingent, officially boycotting the school.

Act TwoEdit

Keiko teaches her remaining five students about Galileo, and how he was tried by the Inquisition for his belief that Earth revolved around the Sun. Jake Sisko makes the connection between the story of Galileo and current events on the station. He tells his father that the current controversy is stupid, and asks where the Bajorans get such ideas. Commander Sisko, however, points out that the Bajoran religion is quite reasonable in light of the Wormhole and the nature of the Prophets, and counsels Jake to be tolerant of the beliefs of other cultures.

Sisko, attempting to heal the rift between Starfleet and the Bajorans on Deep Space Nine, travels to the planet to meet with Vedek Bareil, the favored candidate to replace Opaka as Kai. Unlike Winn, Bareil is forward-thinking and personable however he is unwilling to arrange an audience for Sisko with the Vedek Assembly since being seen to ally himself with the Federation will certainly harm his chances of being elected. Bareil promises that if he is elected Kai, he will be able to show friendship then but right now can do nothing to help.

Upon returning to the station, Sisko is angry to find that three Bajoran crewmembers have refused to report for duty. He asks Kira for her opinion, and she tells him that as far as she's concerned the only reason the Bajoran government haven't asked the Federation to leave is because if they do the Cardassians will certainly return to retake Bajor and claim the wormhole. Sisko, angered that all his apparent efforts to bridge the gulf with the Bajorans over the past several months have fallen short, orders Kira to get the Bajorans back to work immediately.

Further analysis of Ensign Aquino's remains by Dr. Bashir reveals that Aquino was not killed by the discharge in the power conduit. Instead, Aquino had already been killed by phaser fire.

Act ThreeEdit

Odo and Quark observe the Promenade as a deputation of Orthodox vedeks arrives on the station, summoned by Winn to support her boycott of the station's school. Odo asks if Quark knows anything about Aquino's murder. Quark says he does not, but agrees to "keep [his] ears open." O'Brien approaches Odo and says he has found evidence of tampering at Runabout Pad A, but is confused because Pad C, where Aquino's body was found, was clean. Odo says it makes sense: Aquino surprised his murderer in the act of tampering with Pad C, and after killing him, the murderer switched his plan to Pad A. The tampering seemed intended to allow the murderer to steal a runabout, but none are missing. Odo is confused: "he goes through a lot of trouble to defeat the security net, and then doesn't go through with his plans."

Before he can pursue this line of thought further, a bomb goes off in the schoolhouse. O'Brien runs in panic towards the school in fear that Keiko was inside, which is blazing, but thankfully, school was not in session and no one was hurt.

Act FourEdit

Sisko and several station personnel go to the school, where they are met by Vedek Winn who asks after Keiko. Sisko, knowing that Winn was likely connected to if not directly responsible for the bombing, tells her that he's holding her responsible for the recent act of terrorism and informs her of his belief that, since her order is rarely listened to on Bajor she has instead began the school issue to gain more support. Winn in response accuses Sisko (and, by extension, the Federation) of wishing to destroy the Bajoran way of life. Sisko denies the accusation, and makes an impassioned speech where he speaks of how the Federation and Bajoran people have worked hard together over the last several months, and regardless of if they're having a discussion or an argument they still come away with a better understanding of each other. He finishes by telling Winn that her attempts to cause trouble won't succeed, and the Bajorans will eventually bring their children back to school.

O'Brien discovers a secret file lodged in Deep Space Nine's systems. With Dax's help, O'Brien decrypts the file (named "ANA"), and discovers that it contains the instructions to disable a series of force fields and create an escape route from the Promenade to one of the runabouts. He immediately locks down all the runabout pads to prevent anyone from using them to escape. Meanwhile Sisko is contacted by Vedek Bareil, who has heard of the bombing and decided to instead publicly offer Sisko his support. having heard of the bombing, decides to go there and broker peace with Vedek Winn.

In the Bajoran Shrine, Neela secretly meets with Vedek Winn and tells her that her plan to escape via runabout has been stopped and she now has no way to escape arrest and possible execution. Winn is uncaring, and orders Neela to proceed with their plan anyway citing the will of the Prophets

O'Brien discovers that a security console in Odo's office has been tampered with. Suspicion falls on Neela who had repaired the security console several days earlier, and O'Brien realizes that she tampered with the security systems so that a weapon could be smuggled onto the Promenade.

O'Brien contacts Sisko, and informs Sisko of his suspicions. Scanning the crowd in front of the school listening to Bareil's speech, Sisko sees Neela drawing a phaser from her toolbox and aiming at Bareil. He charges through the crowd, which jostles Neela and spoils her first shot. Before she can fire a second, Sisko tackles her to the ground, saving Bareil's life. Odo drags Neela away, as she yells only that "The Prophets spoke" and she "answered their call".

Kira rounds on Winn, accusing her of orchestrating the entire school controversy just to lure Bareil to the station and have him killed, to stop him from being elected Kai. Winn turns away without responding.

Later, in Ops, Sisko finds Kira in a melancholy mood at her station. He confirms that Neela has refused to incriminate Winn, and Kira says she never will, leaving them with no proof of Winn's involvement. Kira admits that she supported Winn because Kira wanted her own faith to be as strong as Winn's was. She also says that she listened to Sisko's speech on the Promenade when he faced off with Winn, and agrees that she has begun to trust him and the Federation. Sisko smiles, saying Starfleet and the Bajorans have made some progress after all.

Memorable Quotes Edit

"It is my philosophy that on this station there is room for all philosophies."

- Benjamin Sisko


"We're all very good at conjuring up enough fear to justify whatever we want to do."

- Bareil, apologizing to Sisko


"I'm a teacher. My responsibility is to expose my students to knowledge - NOT hide it from them!"

- Keiko


"The Prophets teach us patience."
"It appears they also teach you politics."

- Bareil Antos and Benjamin Sisko


"What was he doing in a runabout at 4 in the morning?"
"Apparently, he was getting murdered."

- O'Brien and Odo


"Be careful who you share your jumja with."

- Keiko


"No, I don't teach Bajoran spiritual beliefs. That's your job. Mine is to open the children's minds to... history, to literature, to mathematics, to science."
"You are opening the children's minds--to blasphemy. And I cannot permit it to continue."

- Keiko and Vedek Winn


"Did you remember to re-initialize the isolinear co-processor?"
"I did it exactly like you showed me. Should I test it?"
"Eh, let me. You know us old folks, we like to feel useful."

- Miles O'Brien and Neela


"I'm not teaching any philosophy. What I'm trying to teach is pure science."
"Some might say pure science, taught without a spiritual context, is a philosophy, Mrs. O'Brien."

- Keiko and Kira


"I can't tell you how much I've looked forward to this moment."

- Vedek Winn (with her back turned), upon meeting Benjamin Sisko


"Not for sale, huh? How would you like a jumja stick up--"

- Miles O'Brien


"Seek the Prophets!"
"Seek them yourself."

- Jumja salesman and Odo


"You tell our sick Bajoran crewmen they'd better get well immediately, or they'll recover on their way to their next assignment."

- Benjamin Sisko


"You were looking for me? Don't tell me; there's a Bajoran convention on the station I didn't know about? Thanks Odo! I need to call in more Dabo girls."
"It's not a convention. They're from an orthodox spiritual order coming to support Vedek Winn's efforts to keep the Bajoran children out of school."
"Orthodox? In that case, I'll need twice as many Dabo girls. These spiritual types love those Dabo girls."

- Quark and Odo


"What do you know about the death of Ensign Aquino?"
"You wound me. All these years, I thought you knew me. Odo, I am not a killer!"
"No, but most of your friends are."
"True, and I would gladly sell one of them to you if I could."

- Odo and Quark


"Is the Emissary of the Prophets blaming me for this act of terrorism?"
"The commander of this station is."

- Vedek Winn and Sisko


"Now I see that you want nothing less than to destroy us... You live without a soul, Commander. You and your federation exist in a universe of darkness, and you would drag us in there with you, but we will not go."

- Vedek Winn


"The Bajorans who have lived with us on the station, who have worked with us for months, who helped us move this station to protect the wormhole, who joined us to explore the Gamma Quadrant, who have begun to build the future of Bajor with us, these people know that we are neither the enemy nor the devil. We don't always agree. We have some damned good fights in fact, but we always come away from them with a little better understanding and appreciation of each other."

- Sisko


"It was all to get him here, wasn't it? The school, the protest, the bombing. You knew that would get him out of the monastery. You did it all to kill him--to stop him from becoming kai."

- Kira, seeing the truth about Winn


"Are you OK?"
"OK? I've forgotten OK, I haven't seen OK in what seems like years."

- Sisko to Kira after the attempted assassination


"I don't think that you're the devil."
"Maybe we have made some progress after all."

- Kira and Sisko

Background Information Edit

Story and scriptEdit

Shooting In the Hands of the Prophets

Shooting "In the Hands of the Prophets"

  • An early idea for the first season finale was to be a crossover with Star Trek: The Next Generation and have Sisko, Picard and their crews work together to fight against an invasion. Rick Berman chose not to go down that route and Michael Piller decided to bookend the season with a script relating to "Emissary". (The Deep Space Log Book: A First Season Companion, p 43)
  • This is the first episode of Deep Space Nine to deal with the Bajoran religio-political system, something which would become increasingly important as the series progressed. Writer Robert Hewitt Wolfe based this system on fifteenth and sixteenth century Catholicism, when the Pope was much more of a political figure than he is today, and different 'orders' all vied to have their candidate installed as Pope. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion) This system can perhaps be most clearly seen in action in the second season episode "The Collaborator".
  • In relation to the overriding theme of this episode, Robert Hewitt Wolfe has said, "I have a serious objection to people trying to impose their values on other people. And that's what this episode is about. No one has the right to force anyone to believe the things that they believe. That's one of the beautiful things about Gene Roddenberry's vision of IDIC (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations), and that was one of the things that we really wanted to hammer home here. Sisko does everything not to impose his values on the Bajorans, but Vedek Winn is determined to impose her values on everyone." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • Wolfe also commented "Although I was raised Catholic and educated in Catholic schools, that was a choice my parents and I made. I did get a religious education, but I think that's where it belongs: in a religious school. It doesn't belong in all schools". ("Robert Hewitt Wolfe - writer/story editor", The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine Vol. 5, p. 10)

Production Edit

Bajoran monastery garden

Ferndale as it appears in the episode

ReceptionEdit

  • Colm Meaney considers "In the Hands of the Prophets" to be with "Captive Pursuit" as his other favorite episode from the first season. Meaney commented "The great thing about Star Trek is that it takes on serious issues and deals with them. That episode dealt with religious fundamentalism and that continues on in our first three shows ("The Homecoming", "The Circle" & "The Siege") [second season]. With all sorts of fundamentalism going on today, that's a very interesting topic. People are getting into very rigid ideas about how other people should behave. Star Trek is at its best when it's dealing with something that has a contemporary echo and I'm very glad to see that we're carrying on that tradition". ("Colm Meaney - Miles O'Brien", The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine Vol. 5, p. 10)
  • Robert Hewitt Wolfe commented that "In the Hands of the Prophets" was "a neat mystery with a lot of fun character stuff. It turned out to be a really good episode. I'm proud of it". ("Robert Hewitt Wolfe - writer/story editor", The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine Vol. 5, p. 10)
  • Wolfe was particularly impressed by the acting of Avery Brooks, Colm Meaney and Louise Fletcher in the episode. Wolfe commented "Avery Brooks did a good job with the crowd scenes. He had a great presence when he addressed the crowd. There's also a really nice scene between Sisko and Jake, in which Avery did some nice work. Louise Fletcher was great. She's an Oscar-winner. What more can I say? Colm was excellent. He conveyed the pain of realizing that Neela, whom he thought was promising, bright young woman, wasn't quite the person he thought she was. He also experiences some conflicting emotions, those of a happily married man who finds himself briefly attracted to another woman. Colm did all of that as a subtext to his scenes". ("Robert Hewitt Wolfe - Writer/story editor", The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine Vol. 5, p. 10)
  • Michael Piller commented, "The last two episodes of the season are very thought provoking." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages)

Continuity Edit

  • This episode marks the first appearances of Louise Fletcher as Winn Adami and Philip Anglim as Bareil Antos.
  • No stardate is given in this episode, however as noted by Sisko, this episode takes place seven months after the events of "Emissary". Opaka's absence is also mentioned, who has been stranded on a penal moon, therefore this episode takes place after "Battle Lines".
  • Winn paraphrases a line spoken by Opaka to Sisko in a deleted scene from "Emissary" when she says "I once asked Kai Opaka why a disbeliever was destined to seek the Prophets. She told me one should never look into the eyes of one's own gods."
  • In this episode, Vedek Winn claims to have spoken with the Prophets, but in both "The Reckoning" and "'Til Death Do Us Part", she reveals that she had never spoken with them. Based on her personality, she was probably lying in this episode.
  • Referenced Rules of Acquisition: #7 ("Keep your ears open")

TriviaEdit

  • This was the only Deep Space Nine season finale not to be written or co-written by Ira Steven Behr.
  • The computer graphic of the ANA program's sequential deactivating of force fields was reused from "Dramatis Personae".
  • This episode relates to the debate in American schools about the teaching of Evolution and Creationism in science classes. Specifically, the plot has parallels with the Scopes Trial.

Video and DVD releases Edit

Links and references Edit

Starring Edit

Also Starring Edit

Guest Stars Edit

Special Guest Star Edit

Co-Star Edit

Uncredited Co-Stars Edit

Stunt doubles Edit

References Edit

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Library Computer References Edit

External links Edit


Previous episode:
"Duet"
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season 1
Next episode:
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