(written from a Production point of view)
A runabout carrying Kai Opaka crashes on a planet of eternal war, where it is impossible for the combatants to die.
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)
- 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)
- This episode marks the first time Hilary J. Bader and Richard Danus worked on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Bader later worked on the episodes "Rules of Acquisition", "Meridian" and "Explorers" while Danus wrote the story of "The Sword of Kahless".
- Kai Opaka leaves the Alpha Quadrant in this episode, making her final 'real' appearance in the series. She does appear later in "The Collaborator" and "Accession" in orb experiences and orb shadows.
- This episode marks the first time a DS9 runabout is destroyed. The Yangtzee Kiang was later replaced by the Orinoco. The production design team reused an existing Type 6 shuttlecraft nacelle prop in place of constructing an accurate Danube-class nacelle for the crashed runabout Yangtzee Kiang.
- This episode was one of the first to state exactly what the United Federation of Planets is. Commander Sisko's response to Zlangco's question was that it "is made up of over a hundred planets who have allied themselves for mutual scientific, cultural and defensive benefits. The mission that my people and I are on is to explore the galaxy". Jean-Luc Picard later says something similar to Lily Sloane in Star Trek: First Contact.
- Although it was not specified in the episode, the Prefect to whom Sisko refers is Gul Dukat.
- Armin Shimerman (Quark) and Cirroc Lofton (Jake) do not appear in this episode.
- Opaka returns to Bajor in the non-canon DS9 relaunch novels, after being encountered by Jake Sisko.
- S.D. Perry's novel Rising Son is a sequel of sorts to this episode. It reveals the changes that have happened among the Ennis and the Nol-Ennis by 2376. Both Shel-la and Zlangco appear in the novel.
- The necklace that Opaka gives O'Brien for Molly was not seen or mentioned in the series again, although O'Brien tells Joseph and Judith Sisko about it in Robert Simpson's novel Lesser Evil.
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.
- As part of the DS9 Season 1 DVD collection
Links and references Edit
Also starring Edit
- Rene Auberjonois as Constable Odo
- Siddig El Fadil as Doctor Julian Bashir
- Terry Farrell as Lieutenant Jadzia Dax
- Colm Meaney as Chief Miles O'Brien
- Nana Visitor as Major Kira Nerys
Guest stars Edit
Uncredited co-stars Edit
- Tracee Lee Cocco as Antican
- George Colucci as a Nol-Ennis warrior
- Christopher Doyle as an Ennis warrior
- Jeannie Dreams as an operations division ensign
- Michael Haney as a Nol-Ennis warrior
- Randy James as Lieutenant Jones
- Ken Lesco as a Nol-Ennis warrior
- Dennis Madalone as an Ennis warrior
- Tom Morga as a Nol-Ennis warrior
- Robin Morselli as a Bajoran officer
- Joe Murphy as a Nol-Ennis warrior
- Jeff Pruitt as a Nol-Ennis warrior
- Mark Allen Shepherd as Morn
- Patricia Tallman as Nima
- Michael Zurich as a Bajoran security deputy
- Unknown performers as
Stunt doubles Edit
- Alan Oliney as stunt double for Avery Brooks
- Spiro Razatos as stunt double for Jonathan Banks
- Unknown stunt performers as
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