(written from a Production point of view)
A three-hundred-year-old Bajoran ship comes through the wormhole, and its passenger claims that he is the Emissary of the Prophets.
As Chief O'Brien and Doctor Bashir enter the cluttered O'Briens' quarters, having just won the Battle of Britain in the holosuite, they lament that O'Brien must return the quarters to normal in preparation for Keiko's return (after her six-month absence on Bajor).
In Ops, Major Kira welcomes Vedek Porta, escorting a young Bajoran couple who are hopeful that Captain Sisko, as the Emissary of the Prophets, will bless their recent marriage. Sisko invites them into his office, and recites a brief prayer in the Bajoran language. Kira, watching, is very moved, and the couple positively glow, thanking Sisko profusely before they leave. Before following them out, Porta compliments Sisko on his improved pronunciation. After they are gone, Sisko sighs and confides to Dax how exhausting it is to be a religious icon to an entire planet, on top of all his Starfleet duties. Then Kira alerts them that something is coming through the wormhole: a Bajoran lightship, which appears to be three hundred years old. The passenger, a lone man, is beamed to the infirmary. When Sisko and Kira get there, the man introduces himself as "the Emissary."
The mysterious man is Akorem Laan, a famous Bajoran poet from the 22nd century whose unfinished poem, The Call of the Prophets, has become legendary. He explains that, while traveling in his lightship, he was injured and thought he would die. Then he discovered the wormhole by mistake and was healed by the Prophets, who have delivered him to DS9. He knows nothing of the Cardassian occupation or other hardships his people have been through, but he believes the Prophets have chosen him as their Emissary.
Sisko tells Dax that he is all too happy to step aside in favor of Akorem; aside from having the burden of the position removed, he adds that Starfleet Command has always been uncomfortable with one of their officers occupying a central role in the Bajoran religion. Porta has already endorsed Akorem, and Sisko accepts that the Bajorans will be much better off recognizing one of their own as the Emissary.
As Chief O'Brien walks home from work, Bashir arrives to offer his congratulations on the baby and convinces him to have a celebratory drink in Quark's. There, the two raise a pint of beer to the upcoming arrival, as Bashir notes that the second baby is usually easier than the first for parents as they know what to expect. When they tell Quark the news, the Ferengi muses back to when Nog was a baby and read 'See Brak Acquire'. Worf then arrives for a drink, and stiffens up when he hears Keiko is having a baby. O'Brien explains to Bashir that Worf delivered Molly since the Enterprise had been damaged and he was the only person available when Keiko went into labour. As Bashir jokes that he'll call on Worf if he needs any help, Worf decides to schedule some leave for when the baby is due.
Kira and Odo watch from the upper gallery as Akorem gives a speech on the Promenade. Odo gently asks whether she sees the inherent contradiction in Akorem's accession: before he appeared, Kira was entirely convinced that Sisko was the Emissary, but now it's as if he never was. Kira says that her faith allows her to reconcile the contradiction.
But then Akorem drops a bombshell by announcing his belief that the Bajorans have "lost their way" by abolishing the d'jarras, a stratified caste system based on family names. Reviving the d'jarras, he believes, is the best way to heal Bajor's wounds after the Occupation. There is some scattered applause from the crowd, but several, including Kira, look deeply troubled, as does Sisko, who is watching the speech in his office on his desktop monitor.
In conference with Akorem and Vedek Porta, Sisko says that adopting a caste-based discrimination system will make Bajor ineligible for Federation membership. Akorem sees it as an acceptable sacrifice, as does – not surprisingly – Kai Winn. Akorem assures Sisko that he does not expect Bajor to make the change overnight; for instance, First Minister Shakaar, whose d'jarra marks him as a farmer, will not be expected to resign immediately; instead, Akorem is confident that, by the time of the next election cycle, few will vote for him.
In the Replimat, Kira is looking for a place to sit with her mug of raktajino, but the place is full. Just as she is about to move on, a Bajoran woman interrupts her meal and surrenders her seat, saying that Kira's d'jarra outranks hers. Sisko, sitting nearby, says similar things have been happening all over the station. Both of them are troubled, but Kira says it is not her place to question the Emissary. Sisko is still disbelieving about how readily Bajor is making such drastic changes on Akorem's word, and Kira tells him that Sisko never fully grasped just how devoted the Bajorans are to the Emissary - Sisko could have said the word, and they would have done anything.
Unable to sleep, Sisko wanders about the Promenade at night, where he has visions of Kai Opaka. She asks who he is and claims he does not know himself. When Sisko asks Bashir about the vision, he describes it as an orb shadow, which the Bajorans believe occur when a person is not following the will of the Prophets as shown in the orbs. Religious explanations aside, it was caused by an over-abundance of neuropeptides, and Sisko readily accepts treatment to make the visions stop.
Kira attempts to follow her d'jarra, which dictates that she resign her commission in the Bajoran Militia and become an artist. Unfortunately, despite her best attempts, she ends sculpting a "flock of flightless birds" in her quarters. Kira seems to have little confidence in her own artistic ability. Even so, Vedek Porta is nonetheless stern in his belief that d'jarras are correct and that the Prophets have chosen for Kira to be an artist.
Meanwhile, O'Brien and Bashir meet by chance in Quark's and realize they no longer have time for one another now that Keiko and Molly are back on the station. O'Brien attempts to play darts with Molly in their quarters, and Bashir tries to teach Morn how to play in the bar, but it is not the same for either of them. When Quark archly informs them that they are late for their weekly holosuite reservation, they realize that is something else they have had to give up.
Meanwhile things are going from bad to worse for Sisko. His failure in his mission to ensure Bajor's entry into the Federation, a goal Sisko has been working toward for several years now, does not please Starfleet Command. Although there is no direct statement of it, he can tell they are unhappy, which he finds ironic considering they never wanted him to be the Emissary in the first place. As he and Kira go over the duty roster, he cannot shake the feeling that he has failed in his duties. And it gets worse: Kira has to resign in order to follow her d'jarra. As soon as Sisko can find someone to take her post, she'll leave. Sisko tells her that her position may be filled by someone else, but he considers her irreplaceable. There is an extremely sad moment between them as reality sets in.
Sisko gets a call from Odo to come to the Promenade immediately, where a vedek has just been killed. The man, Vedek Imutta, fell from the second level, and as Odo prepares to start an investigation, Vedek Porta calmly announces that he pushed the man simply because he had an "unclean" d'jarra and was unwilling to resign as vedek to follow his d'jarra.
Sisko decides that enough is enough and he must take back his role as emissary from Akorem. However, as Akorem is unwilling to give up the post and both men know there will be chaos if they force the Bajoran people to choose between them, they enter the wormhole to ask the Prophets to choose.
Inside the wormhole, Akorem remains convinced that he is the emissary, but as usual, the Prophets appear largely unconcerned. They claim Sisko and Akorem's linear nature limits their comprehension. They agree that the d'jarras are a part of the past, which "the Sisko" has taught them means, it is no more and it can never be again. Akorem is confused, and asked why, then, did they send him into the future? They reply, "for the Sisko" - to remind him of the responsibilities he bears. Akorem, realizing that he is not the Emissary, says there is no point in his remaining in the 24th century. The Prophets consider returning him to where they found him (injured and about to die), but at Sisko's request, the Prophets return Akorem to Bajor in his own time with no memory of his trip to the future, and allow him to reunite with his wife and family. Before Sisko is returned to the runabout, the Prophets remind him that he is "of Bajor," as are the Prophets.
Back on the station, on the pretext of getting her husband treatment for his depression, Keiko arranges for Miles and Bashir to spend time together again.
In Quark's, Kira ironically presents Sisko with the gift of one of her "sculptures" and tells him that his earlier speech, in which he explained what happened to Akorem and that the Prophets do not wish the Bajorans to return to the d'jarras, went over very well. Sisko is reading The Call of the Prophets, which Kira is surprised to learn has now been finished. Kira fails to understand how she can still remember Akorem's work as unfinished, when the Prophets have changed the past and in the new timeline, his work had been finished all along.
They are interrupted when a Bajoran man and his daughter approach the officers to ask Sisko if he can bestow a blessing on the girl at her upcoming birthday/coming-of-age celebration. Sisko happily agrees to the request, having now fully accepted his role as the Emissary.
Memorable quotes Edit
"I thought you said you'd started straightening this place up!"
"You should've seen it before."
"Look, Keiko's shuttle'll be here before we know it. We should've left the holosuite hours ago.
"What? And let the Jerries cross the Channel? Never!"
- - Bashir and O'Brien, upon entering O'Brien's messy quarters
"No more ceremonies to attend, no more blessings to give. No more prophecies to fulfill. I'm just a Starfleet officer again; all I have to worry about are the Klingons, the Dominion and the Maquis. I feel like I'm on vacation."
- - Sisko
- - Keiko O'Brien, announcing to Miles she is pregnant
"Quark! Did you hear? Chief O'Brien is having a baby."
"I thought your females carried your young."
"My wife. My wife is having a baby."
- - Bashir, Quark, and O'Brien
"It's just hard getting used to being a religious icon."
- - Sisko
"Congratulations! I remember when my nephew Nog was a baby. Cutest thing you ever saw. Heh. You know babies. Every little thing they pick up goes straight into their ears. Ohhh, I used to love reading to him. You know, 'See Brak acquire. Acquire, Brak, acquire!"
"Did you hear? Keiko's gonna have another baby."
- - Quark and Worf, remembering the last time Keiko had a baby
"Well, I'll be sure and call you when she's ready to deliver; you can lend a hand."
"Seven months? Unfortunately, I will be away from the station at that time. Far away. Visiting my parents. On Earth. Excuse me."
"Forgive me, Major, I don't mean to be difficult, but your faith seems to have led you to something of a contradiction."
"I don't see it as a contradiction."
"I don't understand."
"That's the thing about faith. If you don't have it, you can't understand it. And if you do, no explanation is necessary."
- - Odo and Kira
"What about you Doctor? The Battle of Britain awaits and you know my policy on cancellations, NO refunds." "Go ahead! Maybe Morn's better in the cockpit of a Spitfire than he is at darts."
"Ah, it wouldn't be the same"
"Hm, you're right, Morn probably doesn't even know where England is!"
- - Quark, O'Brien and Bashir
"If you don't hit it off with Major Jatarn, I can think of a few other people, shouldn't be that hard to find someone to replace me."
"I don't doubt that I can find someone to fill your post. But to replace you..."
- - Kira and Sisko
"You killed him because of his d'jarra?"
"I had to. If a vedek can't do what the Emissary has asked of us, how can we expect anyone else to?"
- - Sisko and Vedek Porta
"If the d'jarras belong in the past, why did you send me into the future?"
"For the Sisko."
- - Akorem and the Prophets
"I'd like you to have this. It's an original Kira Nerys. It might be worth a lot someday."
"I hear she didn't make many."
- - Kira, presenting one of her "sculptures," and Sisko
Background information Edit
Story and scriptEdit
- The working title of this episode was "The Other Emissary". (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion - A Series Guide and Script Library)
- The producers had to fight to get this episode made because the studio had told them not to do any shows about Bajoran religion. Episodes such as "In the Hands of the Prophets" from the first season and "The Collaborator" from the second had proved to be somewhat unpopular with viewers, and Paramount felt that shows dealing with religion in general, and Bajoran religion in particular, were not ratings winners. According to Hans Beimler, "Shows about religion, alien religion and the Prophets, are extraordinarily difficult. Not because they're hard to produce, but because they're not proven ratings winners. As a result, the studio tends to be happier when DS9 is doing action stories." Similarly, René Echevarria explains, "The studio doesn't like Bajor stories. And Bajor's religion is one aspect of Bajor to which they really don't respond." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- The ship flown by Akorem Laan is the same model used in the episode "Explorers". (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- The closing credits of this episode feature a number of changes from previous episodes; Ron Wilkinson is replaced by Fritz Zimmerman as set designer and Herman Zimmerman is changed from production designer to visual consultant, and his position in the credits is switched with art director Randy McIlvain. The reason for this was due to a number of Deep Space Nine crew helping out on the production of Star Trek: First Contact. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- David Warner was approached for the role of Akorem. Ira Steven Behr commented "Personally, I wanted David Warner as Akorem. He wanted to do it, but his wife talked him out of it because he was on vacation and she didn't want him to work. To this day I still wish David Warner was in it. I think it's a really interesting script and idea, and it leaves us with a nice, interesting mystery. It's a good show, and Avery was great, but I wanted him to have a better opponent''". (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages)
- Actor Colm Meaney was unhappy with the decision to have O'Brien's quarters in disarray due to Keiko's absence. Meaney states that, "It was expedient to have some sort of what's considered humor in the script, but I object to saying this man is incapable of keeping his apartment tidy when his wife's away. That's a cliché." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Jane Espenson commented: "The whole Trek experience, at TNG and DS9, was incredibly positive. Thank you, Star Trek!" 
- This episode is considered to be Part II of the "Emissary Trilogy", with Part I being "Destiny" and Part III being "Rapture", and as with "Destiny", Sisko is initially very clear in this episode about how uncomfortable he is in his role as Emissary of the Prophets. However, this episode represents an important turning point in his attitude to his position. It is the second time the phrase "The Sisko" has been used (it was first used in the episode "Prophet Motive") and it is the first time we hear the phrase "You are of Bajor". Both of these phrases would come to have great importance in the future. As well as that, this episode marks the point at which Sisko finally begins to accept his role as Emissary (in "Destiny", he accepted that there may be more to the Prophecies than he has allowed for, but he didn't change his opinion about his own status in Bajoran religion). Throughout the fifth, sixth, and seventh seasons he becomes more and more accepting of his position, something which can be seen most clearly in the fifth season episode "Rapture" (where he not only accepts his role, but embraces it and allows it to guide him), and in his interactions with the prophets in episodes like "Sacrifice of Angels", "Image in the Sand", "Shadows and Symbols", and, most importantly of all, the series finale "What You Leave Behind".
- This episode marks the final appearance of Camille Saviola (Opaka) on the series, with Opaka appearing first to Sisko in an orb shadow and then later as the form assumed by a Prophet.
- Bashir and O'Brien tease Worf about when he delivered Molly in 2368 in TNG: "Disaster". Worf is so uncomfortable about this that he schedules leave so he will not be present when she is due, just to make sure it does not happen again.
- In the scene in Quark's where Bashir and O'Brien talk about playing darts without each other, a laboratory squeeze bottle can be seen under the bar, redressed as some kind of alien drinking glass.
- Kira's line "That's the thing about faith. If you don't have it, you can't understand it. And if you do, no explanation is necessary" is a paraphrase of a quotation from St. Thomas Aquinas, which reads "To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible."
- Bashir and O'Brien order several pints of ale during this episode and never finish any of them. In one case, O'Brien leaves after having no more than a single mouthful.
- Quark's statement about everything babies handle "goes straight into their ears" is one of the few times that a Ferengi says "ears" instead of "lobes."
- Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko) does not appear in this episode.
- Kira's lack of artistic skill was mentioned once before, in the season two episode "The Circle". In that episode, Kira states that she has no artistic ability whatsoever.
Video and DVD releases Edit
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 4.9, 9 September 1996
- As part of the DS9 Season 4 DVD collection
Links and references Edit
Also starring Edit
- Rene Auberjonois as Odo
- Michael Dorn as Lt. Commander Worf
- Terry Farrell as Lt. Commander Dax
- Cirroc Lofton as Jake Sisko
- Colm Meaney as Chief O'Brien
- Armin Shimerman as Quark
- Alexander Siddig as Doctor Bashir
- Nana Visitor as Major Kira
Guest stars Edit
- Rosalind Chao as Keiko O'Brien
- Robert Symonds as Porta
- Camille Saviola as Opaka
- Hana Hatae as Molly O'Brien
Special guest star Edit
Uncredited co-stars Edit
- Tammy Rodriguez as the yellow-skinned dabo girl
- Mark Allen Shepherd as Morn
- Unknown performer as reptilian alien
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Deleted scenes references Edit
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"Rules of Engagement"