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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)



Vedek Winn Adami, a Bajoran religious leader, visits Deep Space 9. She finds Keiko O'Brien's school, and denounces her for teaching about the Wormhole in a scientific way, instead of teaching the Bajoran religious view that the Wormhole is the Celestial Temple and the home of the Prophets. She calls Keiko's teaching blasphemy, and drives a rift between the Bajorans on the station and Starfleet.

Act One

Tension continues to mount between the Starfleet and Bajoran personnel about the station. Kira, who supports Winn's candidacy to become Bajor's next Kai, supports teaching traditional Bajoran beliefs to Bajoran children, and suggests creating two schools, one for Starfleet children and one for Bajorans. Sisko and Keiko reject the idea.

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.

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 knowledge 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 Two

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. Bareil says he supports Sisko's efforts, but is not ready to announce his support until his election.

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 Three

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, which is blazing, but thankfully, school was not in session and no one was hurt.

Act Four

Sisko and several station personnel go to the school, where they are met and challenged by Vedek Winn. Impassioned speeches ensue.

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 shuttles.

Vedek Bareil, having heard of the bombing, decides to go there and broker peace with Vedek Winn.

O'Brien discovers that a security console in Odo's office has been tampered with. Suspicion falls on Neela, a Bajoran engineer that has been working closely with O'Brien. Neela 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

"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


- Benjamin Sisko, running for Neela

"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 asking Kira after the attempted assasination

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

- Kira and Sisko

Background Information

Story and script

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)


Bajoran monastery garden

Ferndale as it appears in the episode



  • 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")


  • This was the only Deep Space Nine season finale not to be written or co-written by Ira Steven Behr.
  • 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

Links and references


Also Starring

Guest Stars

Special Guest Star


Uncredited Co-Stars

Stunt doubles


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Library Computer References

External links

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