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Battle Lines (episode)

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Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)
For the unrelated novel, please see Battle Lines.

A runabout carrying Kai Opaka crashes on a planet of eternal war, where it is impossible for the combatants to die.

Summary Edit

Teaser Edit

Jadzia Dax and Miles O'Brien tell Benjamin Sisko about finding the personnel files kept by the previous DS9 prefect. O'Brien tells Sisko he should probably warn Kira Nerys about her file before she can see it. Kira walks in at that moment and asks what should she be warned about; Sisko tells Kira she might find her file disappointing, and Kira assures him she can handle it, and begins to review her file. Moments later, Kira storms out of the room, angry and insulted at how little emphasis she got as a member of the Bajoran resistance. In the meantime, Julian Bashir tells Sisko that Kai Opaka, who has never left Bajor before, is aboard for an unannounced visit and wishes to have the tour of the station that previously Sisko offered her. As they show her around the station, Opaka seems unusually distracted, which is noticed by Bashir. Sisko then notices Opaka standing by the viewport where the wormhole can be best seen and, since there's nothing scheduled to go through that day, decides to take her through it himself on a Runabout accompanied by Kira and Bashir. Before departing, she gives O'Brien a necklace and asks him to give it to his daughter for her.

Act One Edit

Sisko takes the USS Yangtzee Kiang through the wormhole, and Opaka is amazed by the spectacle of the inside. Sisko remarks that she'll see in a few years just what it is worth to Bajor, and is ready to head back. Opaka, who is seemingly waiting for something, is disappointed until they pick up a narrow band subspace signal and insists they investigate it before leaving the Gamma Quadrant. Following the arrival at an inhabitable moon, Sisko, Kira, Bashir, and Opaka are then shot down by an automatic orbital defense system orbiting the moon.

On the planet's surface, Sisko, Bashir, and Kira leave the runabout, carrying out the body of the Kai. Bashir pronounces the Kai dead, and Kira mourns. As they stand by the runabout, they realize they are not alone.

Act Two Edit

The crew is approached by the Ennis, a humanoid species. The Ennis explain that they live along with their enemies the Nol-Ennis on the moon, which serves as a penal colony to which both groups were banished after their homeworld's mediators were unable to negotiate peace between the two factions. The Nol-Ennis suddenly attack the caves where the Starfleet officers and the Ennis are located. Several soldiers are killed from each faction before Kira puts an end to the skirmish by bringing down part of the cave ceiling.

Just then, the silhouette of the Kai unexpectedly appears in the cave entrance.

Act Three Edit

Bashir examines the Kai, who appears normal and remembers nothing since the crash, and finds an inexplicable biomechanical presence. The other fallen soldiers similarly begin to revive. When Kira questions Shel-la about the Ennis' lack of defenses, he responds that since both sides have realized that they cannot die, their tactics have changed. Sisko suggests that a Starfleet rescue team might be able to transport both of the factions to different planets, where they could live separately instead of continuing their endless fight. Bashir returns to the runabout, protected by the Ennis, to repair the computers so that he can investigate the artificial microbes further.

Act Four Edit

In the meantime, O'Brien and Dax arrive in the Gamma Quadrant in a second runabout and begin a searching for Sisko and the others. Through the use of probes, O'Brien manages to devise a method to scan for the Yangtzee Kiang's hull signature in the nearby systems.

The Ennis and the Nol-Ennis agree to meet at a neutral site near the Runabout. Kira stays behind with Opaka, who helps her overcome her feelings of guilt for her actions during the occupations. Sisko begins negotiations between the factions, and Sisko proposes to transport both parties to separate planets for resettlement. Unfortunately, neither side takes the negotiations seriously and the fighting breaks out again. Bashir pushes Sisko out of the way of a weapon that was coming towards him, claiming that they can't afford to die here, not even once.

Act Five Edit

Bashir explains to Sisko that the biomechanical devices that bring the Ennis and the Nol-Ennis back to life cannot survive in any other environment besides that of the moon, which also means Kai Opaka can never leave again. The Kai herself seems preoccupied and tells Kira that ever since she entered the wormhole, she sensed that she would not return. Even before she is told that she cannot leave, Opaka knows that she is going to stay believing that she has found the answers to her own prophecies. She asks Kira to tell the others that she has answered the call of the Prophets, and that she was brought there because it is time for the people on the planet to begin their healing process, just as Kira was brought there to begin hers.

The second runabout arrives in orbit around the satellite-moon and attempts to find a way to transport the survivors off of the planet. O'Brien manages to find a way to beam the marooned crew away by distracting one of the satellites with a probe thereby creating a hole in the defense grid established by the satellites. Before leaving, Bashir suggests finding a way to reprogram the microbes so that they would stop functioning after death, allowing the inhabitants to die for good and end their torture. However, when Shel-la expresses his intent to use it in order to defeat the Nol-Ennis for good, Bashir disappointedly abandons the idea. Sisko begins to tell the Kai that if they ever find a way to bring her back, they'll be back for her. Opaka interrupts him and tells him that her work is now on the moon, but that her and Sisko's pagh will cross again. The crew gladly returns with Dax and O'Brien leaving the warring Ennis and Nol-Ennis behind, and the Kai with a lot of work to do.

Memorable quotes Edit

"You might want to warn Kira before she sees her file."
(Walking in) "Warn me? About what?"
"Oh, uh, Dax and Mr. O'Brien discovered some of the last Prefect's personal files. There's a file on you, but you may find it disappointing."
"I'm a big girl, Commander."
(Later, storming out) " 'A minor operative whose activities are limited to running errands for the terrorist leaders' ?!"
"Major, when you're through feeling under-appreciated, perhaps you'd join me in welcoming the Kai aboard."

- O'Brien, Kira, and Sisko

"The magnetic deflection of a runabout's hull is extremely weak. The probes will never be able to detect it."
"They will if I outfit them with a differential magnetometer."
"A differential magnetometer?"
"I've never heard of a differential magnetometer. How does it work?"
"I'll let you know as soon as I finish making one."

- Dax and O'Brien

"I've discovered we can't afford to die here. Not even once."

- Bashir

"Nice work, Julian."

- Bashir to himself after fixing one of the runabout's computer

"When you cease to fear death the rules of war change."

- Golin Shel-la

"Opaka, if we can ever find a way... "
"My work is here now, Commander. But your pagh and mine will cross again."

- Sisko bidding Opaka farewell

Background information Edit

Story and script Edit

  • Evan Carlos Somers commented: "I started work on 'Battle Lines' before ["Emissary"] aired and I saw the pilot and it confirmed some notions I had. I did a little rewriting and it was an elucidating experience. We were forming a new show and I was asked to come in and rewrite an episode that was an incredibly strong story that was dealing with characters I was unfamiliar with. It was in interesting experience". (The Deep Space Log Book: A First Season Companion, p. 76)
  • The original concept involved a group of Humans and Cardassians, although this was changed to the Ennis and the Nol-Ennis so it would not look like the main characters had chosen sides. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • The writers had also considered creating a new character to be killed and resurrected (see redshirt) but this was changed to Kai Opaka as she was considered to be the most expendable recurring character. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • The original series episode "Day of the Dove" was one source of inspiration for this episode for the late Hilary J. Bader, although mainly due to it showing the futility of war, not as a new concept. Indeed, the primary focus of Bader's pitch was to expose war as utterly pointless. This is emphasized in the fact that the Ennis and the Nol-Ennis don't even remember why they are fighting. According to Bader, "there must have been a more meaningful cause for this battle, but it's so long ago that it's not the issue anymore; it's not what they're fighting about. They're fighting about "You're this and I'm not!"...the point was that it didn't really matter why they fought. The act itself is more important than the issue that started it." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • Bader also commented that "there are certain themes that reoccur in Star Trek, and the fact that war is pointless is one of them." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)

Production Edit

  • Paramount Stage 18 was used for the planetary exteriors and caves. (The Deep Space Log Book: A First Season Companion, p. 27)
  • "Battle Lines" was one of the stunt performer crew's favorite Star Trek episodes, especially for Dennis Madalone, who directed two days of first unit stunt work. Madalone commented: "That's the only one that ever let me take over the whole set. The director said, 'This is fights all day with the actors. Can you just direct it?' So I directed two days of First Unit of all those battles. I was in the fights too, but I made sure I put myself in the back of the battle so I could cover myself separately and still direct all the action stuff. I kept going up to the director and saying, 'Do you like it?' and he would say, 'Yeah, just print it'. He was reading a magazine the whole time. It was crazy, but a lot of fun! ("The Stunt Performers' Favorite Series", Star Trek Magazine, issue 127)
  • Tom Morga designed the weapons in this episode. He did so by taping together a cardboard blade, a ball and an old tool handle. ("The Stunt Performers' Favorite Series", Star Trek Magazine, issue 127)
  • In an outtake from the first scene on the runabout, Avery Brooks delivered a line "We'll be entering the wormhole in about an hour" instead of the scripted time of a minute. Brooks smiles and Camille Saviola says "Well, I ain't got that long, I've got about fifteen minutes!". (Ultimate Trek: Star Trek's Greatest Moments)


  • Michael Piller was pleased with the concept and the story of the episode. "I think this is one of the best premises of the season. For all those people who have written in and said we want more alien violence and sex, this is the episode. Hilary Bader is another one of those people who just keeps coming up with one good fresh idea after another. This was a great idea about a planet where you can never die. It's a great premise for a science fiction show and we put Kai Opaka on there and she becomes a fundamental part of the tale. It's about rebirth and resurrection and spiritual mystical things. One of the things I felt about this season is that I'm finding people react every positively to the mystical component of the pilot of Deep Space Nine. I didn't do a lot more of them on DS9 after we set it up on the pilot, but ["Battle Lines"] is one of them. My feeling is we should be finding more of those kinds of things. I think they're more interesting than ships breaking down". (The Deep Space Log Book: A First Season Companion, pp. 75-76) Piller was ultimately disappointed with the broadcast version of the episode. "We had a show in the first season that I thought was a terrific script and was not a terrific show and it was "Battle Lines". I thought it was terrific concept, but the nature of the direction and the performances in that show made it feel operatic". (The Deep Space Log Book: A Second Season Companion, p 7)
  • "Battle Lines" was the final Star Trek episode to be directed by Paul Lynch, who greatly enjoyed directing it, particularly with working with Camille Saviola. Lynch commented: "It was a wonderful set and combination of standing sets and of adding pieces to the standing set. We had a wonderful spaceship that had crashed into it and the Kai is fabulous. She's a wonderful actress and like a lot of these actors like Avery and Armin and Rene, she is a theater actress too. She gives a performance where part of it is the walking dead. She was such a marvelous woman and a Human being that it was a joy to work with her". (The Deep Space Log Book: A First Season Companion, p. 27)
  • Paul Lynch also thought that Avery Brooks' performance was excellent in the episode. Lynch commented: "I was there at the beginning and he was sensational, but in 'Battle Lines' he just soared. He's a wonderful actor, but he was just slowly feeling the character". (The Deep Space Log Book: A First Season Companion, p. 99)
  • Rick Berman was impressed by the performance of Jonathan Banks. Berman commented: "Jonathan Banks did a nice job and there's some wonderful action in it. We deal with the death of the Kai and the rebirth of the Kai. I thought the concept of a punishment that is based on a microbe that allows these warring factions to never die was fascinating, and the idea that you have to constantly be recreating these battles and fighting one another. There was a lot of technobabble in it that got quite complex, but I thought by and large that it was quite nice". (The Deep Space Log Book: A First Season Companion, p. 76)
  • David Livingston commented: "I worked with Jonathan Banks on Otherworld at Universal. That's where I knew him originally. Then I knew his work with Beverly Hills Cop, and then of course on Wiseguy. He is a very odd and unusual actor, and he wears this wonderful makeup and did a terrific jobs. There are wonderful fight sequences with a lot of action. It's a very strong episode visually. The crew was exhausted after that episode having to work on Stage 18 in the dirt and in those caves and cramped quarters. It's very trying". (The Deep Space Log Book: A First Season Companion, p. 76)
  • Ira Steven Behr was also pleased with "Battle Lines", commenting that it was "a good show. We say goodbye to the Kai and we have some action. While it's not The Wild Bunch it'll do . We have some vicious little fighting going on, hand to hand. People getting their throats cut and wounded and bleeding. It's an interesting show and I like it". (The Deep Space Log Book: A First Season Companion, p. 75)


Apocrypha Edit

Video and DVD releases Edit

The video sleeve appears to render this episode's title as "Battlelines", although the small case font makes it difficult to tell for certain.

Links and references Edit

Starring Edit

Also starring Edit

Guest stars Edit


Co-star Edit

Uncredited co-stars Edit

Stunt doubles Edit

References Edit

airlock; Alpha Quadrant; antimatter pod; artificial microbe; artificial satellite; asteroid belt; attitude control; Bajor; Bajoran; Bajoran death chant; Bajoran prophecy; Bajoran transport; Bajoran wormhole; binary star system; bio-pattern; Cardassian; cease fire; cell; Celsius; Class 2 probe; crash landing; damping field; Danube-class; day; Deep Space 9; defense net; delta radiation; differential magnetometer; directed-energy weapon; ecosystem; encryption system; Ennis; Ennis and Nol-Ennis homeworld; Ennis and Nol-Ennis weapons; Federation; field triage; flight stabilization; forward thrusters; fuel cell; Gamma Quadrant; gesture; hour; hull; hull temperature; hysteresis curve; Idran; Idran system; impulse; impulse generator; induction field; jailbreak; Kai; knife; Kohn-Ma; lifeform; light year; long range scanner; magnet; magnetic field; magnetic resonance pattern; M class; mediator; medical tricorder; medkit; megawatt; meson; metal; Milky Way Galaxy; minute; moon; mutual induction field; nanite; narrow band; necklace; needle in a haystack; neuromuscular scan; nightmare; Nol-Ennis; O'Brien, Molly; ops protocol; orbit; pagh; palm beacon; penal colony; pendant; phaser; photon torpedo; power reactor; prefect; Prime Directive; probe; Probe A; Probe B; Probe C; Prophet; pulmonary collapse; punishment; rescue team; Rio Grande, USS; runabout; runabout pad C; second; secondary booster; sector; sensor; shields; shoulder; space station; square kilometer; starship; straw; subspace; subspace signal; Tahna Los; ternary star; terrorist; thoracic vertebrae; thrusters; tomahawk; torture; transponder; unnamed asteroid belt; unnamed moon; unnamed sector; unnamed star system; Vayan horn fly; war; warp; warp eddy; week; Yangtzee Kiang, USS; year

External links Edit

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

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