(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 in his office about finding the personnel files kept by Dukat, the previous prefect of Deep Space 9. 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. It's obvious she would like to see the wormhole, but doesn't say it. Since there's nothing scheduled to go through that day, Sisko decides to take her himself on a runabout accompanied by Kira and Bashir. O'Brien prepares the USS Yangtzee Kiang, though, interestingly, as they board Opaka pauses to give O'Brien a necklace she was wearing and asks him to give it to his daughter for her. He sees them off, a bit puzzled.
Sisko takes the Yangtzee Kiang through the wormhole, and Opaka is amazed and emotionally moved by the spectacle of the interior. 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. They identify the source as a planet orbited by artificial satellites, one malfunctioning. Bashir identifies a habitable moon with possible lifeforms when suddenly one of the satellites comes near the runabout and fires. The runabout loses control and they crash land.
On the planet's surface, Sisko, Bashir, and Kira leave the runabout, carrying out the unconscious Kai. Unfortunately, Bashir soon pronounces her dead, and Kira mourns. As they stand by the runabout, they realize they are not alone.
Meanwhile, on DS9, the Yangtzee Kiang is now three and a half hours overdue. O'Brien and Dax prepare the USS Rio Grande to find the missing crew. Odo must handle the frequent messages from Bajor on the Kai's status, as they were informed she went into the wormhole. He can only tell them they have a lead on where they are at the moment. Dax asks Odo to have the Bajorans have a vessel on the Gamma Quadrant side of the wormhole to relay messages via subspace.
On the planet, the crew is taken by the Ennis, a humanoid species, and they escort them into the caves with weapons in hand. They are obviously cautious of them. The apparent leader, Golin Shel-la, is suspicious, but Sisko is able to convince him they are not hostile. He permits Bashir to help Kira with her wounds. He explains 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. Now that the Starfleet crew is with them, they will be considered their allies and in danger, even though a rescue team is probably on the way.
The Nol-Ennis suddenly attack the area and the prisoners immediately start the firefight. Several soldiers are killed from each faction before Kira puts an end to the skirmish by bringing down part of the cave ceiling with a Starfleet phaser, despite Sisko's desire not to get involved. Just then, the silhouette of the Kai unexpectedly appears in the cave entrance. She is alive.
Bashir examines the Kai, who appears normal and healthy. She says she only remembers the crash, but then nothing. She gets up and walks to see the area. Bashir further says her physiology is radically different, with an inexplicable biomechanical presence in her cells. He needs to do a full analysis to see what's going on. Interestingly, the other fallen soldiers similarly begin to revive.
Fortunately, O'Brien and Dax are able to trace the Yangtzee Kiang's warp eddy current to the system, and head there, though it is uncharted. O'Brien is confused that they aren't even picking up the ship's transponder signal, which will make the search difficult.
Bashir sees that the same phenomenon in Opaka is the same in these prisoners. Somehow, the transformation has kept them from dying. Shel-la admits that he has "died" many times before. Bashir wants to get the runabout's computer working to figure this out, but Sisko says it's too dangerous. Shel-la wants the answer himself, so he guarantees his protection and Bashir leaves with two of his men. Opaka questions Shel-la on why the war started, but it's clear they don't care, they still want vengeance. It appears that they were sent to the moon as an example for the rest of the population on what happens when two sides can't come to a peace. The whole moon was designed to prolong their suffering. Kira, needing a defensible area, 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. He challenges him to talk to the other leader to get a truce in the meantime.
In the meantime, O'Brien and Dax find that they can't trust their sensors due to delta radiation. They'll need to search one planet at a time, but O'Brien comes up with a design for a differential magnetometer which, fitted onto a probe, should detect the particular magnetic resonance traces in the Yangtzee Kiang's hull. This should speed up the search, though Dax is skeptical. Eventually, it works and they are headed to the moon.
The Ennis and the Nol-Ennis agree to meet at a neutral site near the runabout. Sisko leaves with them, but Kira stays behind with Opaka. When they leave, she starts a conversation with Kira about her possibly seeing herself in these hardened people, having fought for so long and delivered so much violence. Kira initially doesn't see the parallels, but Opaka detects the guilt Kira feels for the violence she committed during the Occupation of Bajor. She says Kira must accept the violence within her in order to overcome the guilt, and comforts her. Kira admits she is afraid the Prophets won't forgive her for what she has done, but Opaka says they are simply waiting for her to forgive herself.
Bashir returns to the runabout, protected by the Ennis, to repair the computers so that he can investigate the artificial microbes, or nanites, further. He is successful and starts the computer to analyze the data. Soon, Sisko and the Ennis arrive. The Nol-Ennis leader, Zlangco, steps up to them and Sisko explains the deal. Unfortunately, neither side takes the negotiations seriously and the fighting breaks out again, with the Starfleet crew caught in the middle of it. Bashir pushes Sisko out of the way of a weapon that was coming towards him, saying that they can't afford to die on the moon, not even once.
Dax finds Human life signs on the moon, but O'Brien, upon seeing the satellite system, realizes that it must be using a dampening field to block the Yangtzee Kiang's transponder signal, the reason he wasn't detecting it before. They retreat to a safe distance and he works on getting a communication through.
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. Furthermore, once a person has died with them, the body becomes dependent on them, meaning none of the Ennis or Nol-Ennis, nor Kai Opaka, can ever leave again. O'Brien then cuts in to signal Sisko, and lets him know he's working on a plan for transport. The satellites are going to make it difficult.
Sisko goes to inform Opaka of her fate, however, before he gets to it, Opaka declares she is staying. With a moment of clarity, she believes that she has found the answers to her own prophecies. She says that, even as they came through the wormhole, she sensed that she would not return. 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.
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. Informing Sisko, they start on it. Meanwhile, 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 disappointingly abandons the idea. Fighting erupts outside and Shel-la is reluctantly drawn away. Sisko begins to tell the Kai that if they ever find a way to get her off the planet without killing her then they'll return, but Opaka interrupts him and tells him that her work is now on the moon. However, her and Sisko's pagh will cross again. The crew are beamed up, leaving the warring Ennis and Nol-Ennis behind, and the Kai with a lot of work to do.
"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
"Please, commander. I don't get out often."
- - Opaka, urging Sisko to investigate the mysterious signal
"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
Story and script
- Ira Steven Behr asked Evan Carlos Somers to work on this episode one week after Somers had unsuccessfully pitched to the series. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, pp. 31-32) "[Ira Behr] calls me up and offers me a rewrite job on 'Battle Lines'," Somers recalled. "Apparently he had really gone out on a limb for me. They had hired a writer to work on it and were disappointed with his initial drafts. It was coming up on the Christmas holiday, and the staff of three was tied up with other rewrites. Ira went on a limb and told Michael [Piller] I could do a good job on it. I'm sure inside he was praying I could." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 32) Somers further 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 of this episode 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." Bader also commented, "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 smiled and Camille Saviola pretended to look at her watch and said, "Well, I ain't got that long, I've got about fifteen minutes!" (Ultimate Trek: Star Trek's Greatest Moments)
- The making of this episode was extremely costly. It was produced amongst a few other installments that were also expensive to produce. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 33)
- Evan Somers received news that the DS9 writing staffers were pleased with this episode. "They told me they were extremely happy with it," reminisced Somers, who went on to join the show's writing staff himself. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 32)
- 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," he commented. "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 USS Yangtzee Kiang was later replaced by the USS 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.
- Remastered footage from the episode is featured in the documentary What We Left Behind.
- 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.
- The Star Trek Online expansion Victory Is Life includes the mission "Armistice", where Opaka has succeeded in forging a peace between the Ennis and Nol-Ennis and converting them to the Bajoran religion. The player character is charged with evacuating the Ennis moon in the face of a Hur'q attack, and Opaka resumes the Kaiship after returning to Bajor (taking over from Kira Nerys, who accepts a Starfleet commission and commands the USS Defiant for the remainder of the storyline).
Video and DVD releases
- 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
- 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
- Tracee Lee Cocco as Antican
- George Colucci as a Nol-Ennis warrior
- Christopher Doyle as an Ennis warrior
- Jeannie Dreams as a Human 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 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
- Alan Oliney as stunt double for Avery Brooks
- Spiro Razatos as stunt double for Jonathan Banks
- Unknown stunt performers as
airlock; Alpha Quadrant; analysis; antimatter pod; artificial microbe; artificial satellite (satellite); artificial satellite network (low level satellite system); asteroid belt (unnamed asteroid belt); attitude control; Bajor; Bajoran; Bajoran death chant; Bajoran prophecy; Bajoran transport; Bajoran wormhole; bearing; binary star system; bio-pattern; "bloody"; body; Cardassian; cease fire; cell; cellular function; Celsius; class 2 probe; computer; crash landing; damnation; damping field; Danube-class; data; day; death; Deep Space 9; defense network (defense net); defense system; delta radiation; differential magnetometer; directed-energy weapon; ecosystem; encryption system; Ennis; Ennis and Nol-Ennis homeworld; Ennis and Nol-Ennis weapons; fear of death; Federation; field triage; flight stabilization; forward thrusters; fuel cell; Gamma Quadrant; generation; gesture; hour; hull; hull temperature; hysteresis curve; Idran; Idran system; impulse; impulse generator; induction field; jailbreak; Kai; knife; Kohn-Ma; leader; lifeform; light year; long range scanner; magnet; magnetic field; magnetic resonance pattern; M class; mediator; medical personnel; medical tricorder; medkit; megawatt; meson; metal; Milky Way Galaxy; minute; moon; "more or less"; mutual induction field; nanite; narrow band; necklace; needle in a haystack; neuromuscular scan; nightmare; Nol-Ennis; O'Brien, Molly; operative; ops protocol; orbit; pagh; palm beacon; penal colony (penal moon, penal moon star system, penal moon sector); 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; rules of war; runabout; runabout pad C; scan analysis; second; secondary booster; sector; sensor; shields; shoulder; soul; space station; square kilometer; starship; straw; subspace; subspace signal; Tahna Los; temperature; ternary star; terrorist; thoracic vertebrae; thrusters; tomahawk; torture; transponder; Vayan horn fly; war; warp; warp eddy; week; Yangtzee Kiang, USS; year
- "Battle Lines" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Battle Lines" at Wikipedia
- "Battle Lines" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Battle Lines" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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