(written from a Production point of view)
A Bajoran terrorist tests Kira's loyalties to the Federation when he attempts to rid Bajor of the Federation for good.
Garak, a Cardassian tailor on Deep Space 9, unexpectedly stops by Doctor Julian Bashir's lunch table at the Replimat to introduce himself. With little tact, Bashir suggests that Garak is a Cardassian spy. Garak asks Bashir to stop by his shop if he desires new apparel or wishes, as he does, for an interesting conversation. After Garak tells Bashir he is happy to have met "such an interesting new friend today," Bashir rushes to Ops to report the encounter, but Commander Benjamin Sisko is busy trying to head off a Cardassian attack on a Bajoran scout ship. With the ship breaking apart, the sole occupant is beamed to DS9. He identifies himself as Tahna Los and requests political asylum. He recognizes Major Kira Nerys and is taken to the infirmary.
Gul Danar, commanding the Aldara, demands he be released to them immediately as a Kohn-Ma criminal terrorist; Sisko pledges to investigate the matter before proceeding and invites him aboard the station, asking O'Brien and Jadzia Dax to stall him with docking regulations. Kira goes with Sisko to the infirmary, along the way in the turbolift explaining she and Tahna worked together in the Bajoran Resistance, and she sympathizes with his cause. Sisko warns her he can't have a divided loyalty under him, and she indignantly declares a loyalty to Bajor. She also points out that splinter groups, like the Kohn-Ma, will need to be repatriated if the government is going to be rebuilt. When Sisko questions Tahna, it's clear Kira is on his side and Sisko dismisses her. Alone, Tahna admits to carrying out brutal acts against Cardassians, even after the end of the occupation of Bajor but hints that his days of violence are a thing of the past. He's obviously been subjected to Cardassian torture.
Meanwhile, Kira goes over Sisko's head, asking Starfleet Admiral Rollman to intervene; but the Admiral immediately reports Kira's actions back to Sisko, noting that he has a problem on his hands with her insubordination. Soon, Danar arrives in his office, angry at the docking delays, and demands the fugitive; Sisko politely denies him, saying he would have a problem with Bajor if he gave him up. He grants asylum to Tahna Los and Danar says nothing and leaves.
Kira shows Tahna to quarters, and they soon debate Bajoran politics; Tahna wants a completely free and independent Bajor, whereas Kira sees the need for the Federation's involvement, at least for the time being, until they can fully exploit the wormhole commercially. Tahna is skeptical, and Kira understands with all their people have been through. She wants Tahna to take a leadership position to bring more people together, but he doesn't see the government as valid and sees her as having adapted to a misguided role. Kira promises her help and support in getting amnesty for him and any who follow him on Bajor, as long as he is no longer with the Kohn-Ma, which he assures her is true.
Elsewhere, the Klingon sisters Lursa and B'Etor of the House of Duras arrive on DS9. Unwilling at first to relinquish their weapons on the Promenade, they relent when Odo gives them Hobson's choice; do so or leave. He promptly notifies Sisko of their presence, currently just sitting around at Quark's. However, unknown to him, Garak, and soon Bashir, are observing their "outfits" closely, merely for tailoring purposes, he tells Bashir. They observe Tahna arriving, and immediately the sisters leave with him to meet in a private location, demanding payment for a deal they had made. Odo, disguised as a rat, observes the entire illicit exchange.
Kira has arranged an amnesty hearing in the Ministers' Court on Bajor for Tahna. She informs Sisko, and also tells him of two other former Kohn-Ma agents who are also seeking asylum. Sisko promises to protect them as well, and Kira, surprised and relieved, tells him his help is greatly appreciated. Sisko thanks her, then bluntly warns her to never go over his head again to the admiralty. When Sisko hears from Odo, however, about the dealings between Tahna and the scheming Klingon sisters, he reserves judgment and keeps this information from her for the moment.
Meanwhile, Garak receives the Duras sisters in his shop. After he gives a few lines about fashion, the sisters immediately get to the point of selling Tahna to the Cardassians, believing he still represents their interests. Garak eventually negotiates with them.
Kira happily informs Tahna that she has the necessary votes in the Ministry for his amnesty; Tahna is not interested, though. He reveals the fact that he knew Kira was on the station before he got there, and announces his pride at still being a Kohn-Ma. He promises her that he wasn't lying when he said he has renounced the use of violence, but he needs a small ship with warp speed to carry out his latest plan, which he can't tell her. Kira asks how he can know she won't go straight to Sisko. Tahna just smirks and says that will only confirm what she so adamantly denied before: that she has turned her back on her friends and her own people, and become a willing puppet of the Federation.
Garak finds Doctor Bashir on the Promenade, but dispenses with pleasantries. He notes the two recently arrived Kohn-Ma terrorists, which immediately worries Bashir. Garak, however, convinces him to come to his shop that evening at exactly 20:55 hours to "buy a suit." Bashir eventually understands and leaves. Unsure of what to do, Bashir asks Sisko for advice. Sisko recommends that he keep his appointment, as he understands it is a means for unofficial communication. They may be signaling a common enemy.
Sisko also asks Kira about the two terrorists, but Kira doesn't reveal what she's learned. Unsure of whom to support, she asks for Odo's advice. In his office, Odo senses that she is torn between loyalties, but also that she knows what she wants to do and is afraid to do it. He gets her cleverly to say it out loud, including that, even if she refuses to help Tahna, he will still find a way to complete his plan. He convinces her to divulge everything to Sisko by simply calling him down to security since "someone" wants to talk to him.
Bashir, arriving two minutes late to Garak's, is quickly herded into a changing room, where he is allowed to overhear the Klingon sisters agreeing to sell a small cylinder of bilitrium to Tahna in the Bajor system in four hours. Once they have departed, Bashir asks what bilitrium is, and Garak informs Bashir that it is a rare crystalline element, the atoms of which can release a tremendous amount of power. Garak also happens to know that Tahna was fleeing from the Cardassians for the theft of an antimatter converter. Combined together, Tahna would have the ingredients for a bomb of "significant destructive capability."
Kira, under orders from Sisko, provides Tahna with the runabout USS Yangtzee Kiang and accompanies them to the rendezvous; Sisko and O'Brien are nearby in the USS Ganges, lurking behind Bajor VIII's moon, reconnoitering the rendezvous area for the illegal weapons deal. After the bilitrium is exchanged for 13 kilograms of gold-pressed latinum, Sisko gives chase to Tahna and Kira.
Tahna finally sees through Kira's act; he strikes her to the floor, and then combines the bilitrium he just purchased with an antimatter converter, activating the weapon. They go to warp and head toward DS9. With the Ganges and the Aldara closing fast, Kira learns that DS9 is not the target of the weapon; the target is the wormhole. By collapsing the entrance to the wormhole, and shutting it forever, Tahna seeks to remove Bajor from prominence in the Alpha Quadrant, so that Bajor will be left alone by both the Federation and the Cardassians.
At the last second, however, Kira steers the Yangtzee Kiang straight into the wormhole, just as they drop to impulse power and release the weapon. But the weapon is deployed in the Gamma Quadrant, on the other side of the wormhole, where it explodes harmlessly. Following them through the wormhole, Sisko confronts Tahna via the communications system. Tahna angrily says he still has Kira as a hostage, but Sisko informs Tahna that his choices have been reduced to two: surrender now, or be returned to the Cardassians. Quaking visibly, Tahna chooses the former.
Tahna is taken back aboard DS9 and incarcerated by Odo. Although Kira has lost Tahna's friendship and been labeled a traitor by him, she has begun a new one with Commander Sisko.
"You're very kind, Mister Garak."
"Oh, it's just Garak. Plain, simple Garak."
- - Bashir and Garak
"Go over my head again, and I'll have yours on a platter."
- - Sisko to Kira, regarding her conversation with Admiral Rollman
"That damned Cardassian's firing on a Bajoran scout ship in Bajoran space!"
- - Kira
"You won't believe who sat down next to me in the replimat!"
- - Bashir, regarding meeting Garak for the first time
"Commander, the Cardassians are hailing us."
"Now they want to talk!"
"They're hopping mad."
- - O'Brien and Kira
"Why don't I... lock them up and call the Klingons to come get them?"
- - Odo and Sisko, discussing the Duras sisters
"We're talking about terrorists and you want me to buy a new suit?"
- - Bashir, to Garak
"You've never fought Cardassians, have you?"
"Well, you wouldn't wanna turn a man... any man... over to their tender care, sir. You just wouldn't."
- - O'Brien and Sisko
"They went straight to Quark's, but not for the gambling... and certainly not for the food."
- - Odo, on Lursa and B'Etor's whereabouts
"You know, Cardassian rule may have been oppressive but at least it was... simple."
- - Odo
"We have specific regulations. You can leave the weapons, or leave the station. Your choice. Please make it now."
"Who are you?"
"I'm the one giving you the choice."
(The Duras sisters surrender their weapons.)
"Welcome to DS9."
- - Odo and B'Etor
"Well, what do you want me to do?"
"I think, Doctor... you could definitely use a new suit."
- - Bashir and Sisko
"Ah, an open mind. The essence of intellect."
- - Garak, to Bashir
Story and script
- In Katharyn Powers' original conception of this episode, Kira and Tahna were to be former lovers, but Michael Piller decided that this was a television cliché. Powers' version also had Kira persuade Tahna to turn his back on terrorism and attempt to forge peace with the Cardassians, before being killed by his own people. Despite the changes, Powers remarked, "As filmed, the story was structurally very close to my original conception." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 41)
- While Katharyn Powers is the solely credited writer on this episode, the teleplay credits her only for the story, with Producer Peter Allan Fields being credited as the teleplay writer.  According to Michael Piller, Fields didn't work alone on the episode. "We were still searching for a style. Peter worked on that story and I worked on it a little bit with him," Piller attested. "We struggled early on to find Kira's voice in those scenes." (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 3, p. 11) Fields added both the character of Garak and a scene between Odo and Kira to the plot. "It was terribly important to put in a scene between Odo and Kira that establishes trust between them," he said, "and the idea that she would turn to him when she didn't know where else to turn or what to do." Regarding the addition of Garak to the storyline, Fields commented, "We needed a character whom Lursa and B'Etor would come to as a kind of go-between." The writers didn't want the character to act like an out-and-out spy nor like a typical Cardassian. "I finally put him in a tailor shop, and nobody hit me, so we kept him there," Fields recalled, with a chuckle. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 22)
- The Duras sisters, Lursa and B'Etor, were included in this episode's plot at Michael Piller's suggestion. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 22) It was part of an attempt to tie Deep Space Nine into existing Star Trek continuity. "Essentially, we had a story," recalled Piller, "and, in the case of Lursa and B'Etor, we said, 'Hey, we've got a real kind of Casablanca spy story and we need someone to really be doing double dealings and bringing money and doing gun exchanges; why don't we use the Klingons – and use those characters that we love so much?'" While doing so, however, the writing staff was careful to nonetheless maintain the episode's focus on one of the series' principal characters. "In 'Past Prologue', there's a moral dilemma for Major Kira where she has to confront her loyalty to her past life and what her new life is going to be," Ira Steven Behr pointed out. "It's really about her. It's illuminating our new characters." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 42)
Cast and characters
- Elim Garak actor Andrew Robinson was highly impressed with the writing of this episode, so much so that he believed Garak practically created himself, as the writing gave Robinson a very strong impression of how to play the role. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 22) Furthermore, Robinson revealed that, during their getting to know each other in this episode, Garak's interest in Bashir clearly was purely sexual. (What We Left Behind) When interviewed by Amazon.com, the performer stated, "Originally, in that very first episode, I loved the man's absolute fearlessness about presenting himself to an attractive Human being. The fact that the attractive Human being is a man (Bashir) doesn't make any difference to him."
- Barbara March and Gwynyth Walsh found their participation in this episode was minor. March commented, "We were only in the episode briefly, and we didn't have much to do. I was hoping they'd give us an action-packed episode, where we could fight and use our weapons and kick a little more butt! Also, we didn't really get to work with the show's main cast – we were either alone or with one character." Walsh commented, "I think they brought us back because it was time. It was fine. It was lovely to work with Rene [Auberjonois], but we mostly worked just by ourselves in that one. We didn't have that much interaction with anyone else." ("Double Trouble", Star Trek Monthly issue 36)
- Admiral Rollman was played by Leonard Nimoy's wife Susan Bay. According to Bay herself, her casting in the role wasn't due to her being married to Nimoy but was because she had a long-standing relationship with Executive Producer Rick Berman and had a previous working relationship with Casting Director Junie Lowry-Johnson. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 22)
- The change which takes place in Kira's hairstyle from the pilot episode, "Emissary", was at the request of Nana Visitor herself; "I just didn't feel that Major Kira would style her hair every day. She wouldn't care! I wanted a hairstyle that looked like she just woke up in the morning looking like that." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 21)
- Although this episode was the first to air after the show's pilot "Emissary", it was actually produced after "A Man Alone" (which was, in production order, the only episode between the pilot and this installment).
- This is the first episode of the series to be directed by Winrich Kolbe.
- Although Barbara March and Gwynyth Walsh found that most of their work on this episode was alone, working with the production crew was highly enjoyable for them. March remarked, "Winrich Kolbe, the director, was really wonderful." Walsh added, "It was largely the same crew – a lot of the crew had left ST:TNG for ST:DS9 – so it was nice to see some old buddies." ("Double Trouble", Star Trek Monthly issue 36)
- Filming the scene in Quark's Bar where the Duras sisters, seated on the first floor of the bar, are spied on by Garak (who is joined by Bashir) from the ground floor was somewhat difficult. This was because it included a couple of shots from the first floor looking down to the ground floor. Winrich Kolbe was extremely fond of this point-of-view, although it would usually be very time-consuming to set up. "We actually made it on that particular day. We were lucky, I guess," he commented. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 15)
- Michael Piller was generally proud of this episode, commenting, "I liked that one quite a bit [….] I think the scenes with Kira and Odo turned out to be some of the best from the first half-season. There was a lot going on, a lot of interaction. Some of the performances were a little broad, still looking for our style, but it was a solid, exciting episode." (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 3, p. 11) On the subject of his performance-related complaint about the installment, Piller elaborated, ""One of the things about 'Past Prologue' that bothered me was that Bashir's performance was in a very broad range." However, Piller, talking at the end of the first season, chalked this up to the show's "newness." He went on to say, "The first [regular] episode hurt the character of Bashir because he was so broad in those scenes with Andy Robinson that he looked like the greenest recruit in the history of Starfleet. That hurt him for two or three episodes. If we were shooting it today, his performance would be much more credible. He wouldn't get the same reaction from the audience that he has now." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 24, No. 3/4, pp. 102 & 103) Piller was, though, happy with how the episode included the Duras sisters. "It's interesting how we used them [….] It works out just fine to use those guys because then there's a connection and an identification," he stated. "There's a backstory, there's a history, and all of these things make for a much richer series." Comparing this installment with "A Man Alone", Piller commented, "We decided that 'Past Prologue' would be more appropriate to follow the two-hour since it had a better action quotient and was a real opportunity for us to continue the themes that had been set up in the pilot and to see what happens when a terrorist comes on board." In addition, he opined that the post-production addition of music and visual effects "really didn't help 'Past Prologue much," whereas they seemed to improve "A Man Alone", in his opinion. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, pp. 42 & 43)
- Although he mistakenly cited the incident as being in "Emissary", Winrich Kolbe was impressed by the confrontation between Sisko and Kira in which he warns her that, if she ever goes over his head again, he'll serve hers on a silver platter. "I love that. That, to me, is more human, it is more contemporary [….] It intrigued me because I felt that, yes, we are changing, but we are not necessarily becoming more advanced. There's nationalism two thousand years from now, and it will always be there, because it's something genetically inside us. Like racism, which is something that's always coming out. We only seemingly live in a better social society if we are able to combat it, but the moment we let our guard down, bingo, there's the conflict." (The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years, pp. 448-449) Kolbe also approved of Andrew Robinson's performance in this episode, commenting, "[He] turned out to be terrific." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 24, No. 3/4, p. 91)
- Ira Steven Behr liked the moment when O'Brien ignores Bashir excitedly revealing, in Ops, that he has been talking with Garak. "O'Brien just gives Bashir a look, that's like 'Get the hell away from me, kid.' It's funny, it's good, and it's character," said Behr. (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 336)
- In Cinefantastique (Vol. 24, No. 3/4, p. 91), Mark A. Altman rated this episode two-and-a-half out of four stars and critiqued the installment as a "routine first one-hour episode that failed to live up to the promise of the pilot. Indicative of the new Star Trek's more passionate approach to character interaction is a terrific scene between Odo and Kira and Sisko's actions with a Starfleet admiral. The real standout here is the relationship between a Cardassian spy, Garak, played by an effete Andy Robinson and Siddig El Fadil as Bashir, who brings a manic enthusiasm to his role. It instills the episode with a vibrancy that's lacking in the espionage story. Klingon refugees Lursa and Bator [sic] from The Next Generation (and their wonderful Bob Blackman-designed costumes) are welcome additions."
- In their book Beyond the Final Frontier (p. 183), writers Mark Jones and Lance Parkin critiqued this episode as "a solid start to the regular series with more colour added to the Bajoran political situation. The trust between Odo and Kira is neatly established, plus we have the first appearance of fan favourite Garak. The major problem is Tahna's ploy – if the bomb is powerful enough to irradiate the system, won't Bajor be affected also?"
- This was the first appearance of Andrew Robinson as Elim Garak in the series. Garak eventually became a recurring character, making his final appearance in the series finale "What You Leave Behind".
- The sentiments Tahna Los expresses toward the Federation, as well as his phrase "Bajor for Bajorans" come back in the beginning of the second season, with a three-part story arc involving an extremist faction known as Alliance for Global Unity. (DS9: "The Homecoming", "The Circle", "The Siege")
- The Cardassian method of torture, via a pain-inducing implant under the skin that leaves an unpleasant scar as seen in TNG: "Chain of Command, Part II" is referred to in this episode, as Julian Bashir notes scarring on Tahna Los during a medical exam.
- This is the first time that Klingons appear on Deep Space Nine.
- This episode marks the only appearances of Lursa (Barbara March) and B'Etor (Gwynyth Walsh), the Duras sisters, on the series. However, their mirror universe counterparts, Lursa and B'Etor, were later mentioned in "Crossover" and their nephew Toral appears in "The Sword of Kahless".
- After being introduced in this episode, Admiral Rollman made a second appearance in "Whispers".
- The friendship between Kira and Odo is first established in this episode, and we see for the first time the great level of trust she has in him. The idea for establishing this friendship was Peter Allan Fields', who went on to explore its origins in the second season episode "Necessary Evil".
- Among the clothes seen in Garak's shop is the costume worn by Steven Miller in TNG: "Haven", the Risa outfit worn by Sovak in TNG: "Captain's Holiday", and one of Kamala's dresses from TNG: "The Perfect Mate".
- Sisko mentions the Klingon Civil War, which took place in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes "Redemption" and "Redemption II". This episode reveals the House of Duras is attempting to rebuild its forces by making profit.
- This is the first episode of Star Trek in which no ship named "Enterprise" appears. In TAS: "The Slaver Weapon", the USS Enterprise only appears in the episode's opening sequence and credits.
- Armin Shimerman (Quark) and Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko) do not appear in this episode.
- This was Vaughn Armstrong's first appearance on DS9 and his second in Star Trek after TNG: "Heart of Glory". His next appearance on the show, in the episode "When It Rains...", again had him playing a Cardassian, Seskal. All in all, he has played an unequaled twelve roles in various Star Trek series.
- This episode is the first to introduce gold-pressed latinum. In this episode, the value of latinum is defined by its weight, but later episodes establish the usage of divisions such as slips, strips, bars and bricks. Both B'Etor and Odo once refer to it simply as "gold".
- This episode features five characters who had also appeared or went on to appear in TNG: Chief O'Brien, Doctor Bashir, Lursa, B'Etor, and Morn.
- The episode name alludes to the quote "what's past is prologue" from The Tempest, Act 2, Scene 1, by William Shakespeare.
- In "The Ascent", Jake writes a story called "Past Prologue".
- Remastered scenes from the episode are featured in the documentary What We Left Behind.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release: 2 August 1993
- As part of the US VHS release Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Collector's Edition: 1996
- US VHS release: 3 September 1996
- US LaserDisc release: 24 September 1996
- As part of the LaserDisc release Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - First Season Vol. 1: 2 August 1997 (Japan)
- As part of the DS9 Season 1 DVD release: 25 February 2003 (Region 1), 24 March 2003 (Region 2)
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
- Jeffrey Nordling as Tahna Los
- Andrew Robinson as Elim Garak
- Gwynyth Walsh as B'Etor
- Barbara March as Lursa
- Susan Bay as Admiral Rollman
- Vaughn Armstrong as Gul Danar
- Scott Barry as a Bajoran officer
- Robert Coffee as a Bajoran officer
- Brian Demonbreun as a Starfleet science officer
- Jeannie Dreams as Human operations division ensign
- Holiday Freeman as a Human DS9 resident
- Kevin Grevioux as a Human operations division ensign
- Mark Lentry as a command division lieutenant
- David B. Levinson as Broik
- Robin Morselli as Bajoran officer
- Tyana Parr as a Human DS9 resident
- Mark Allen Shepherd as Morn
- Michael Zurich as a Bajoran security deputy
- Unknown performers as
Aldara; Alpha Quadrant; amnesty; antimatter converter; assassination; Bajor VIII; Bajoran Intelligence; Bajoran Intelligence net; Bajoran Provisional Government; Bajoran scout ship; Bajoran system; Bajoran underground; Bajoran wormhole; bed; bilitrium; bomb; Cardassian; Cardassian war vessel; clothier; clothing shop; concussion; conspiracy; crime; cylinder; crystalline; dance instructor; death sentence; docking regulation; drowning; Duras sisters; Duras sisters' Bird-of-Prey; element; evasive maneuvers (aka evasive action); explosive device; Federation; fire; First Minister; food; Galor-class; gambling; Gamma Quadrant; Ganges, USS; glinn; gold-pressed latinum; Gul; Haru outposts; have one's head on a platter; heart; House of Duras; humanoid; impulse; isolinear rod; Joranian ostrich; kilogram; Klingons; Klingon Bird-of-Prey; Klingon Civil War; Klingon High Council; Kohn-Ma; Kraus IV; laceration; liaison officer; lingerie; merchant; minister; Ministers' Court; monitoring device; moon; murder; nightmare; nose; Occupation of Bajor; officer; photon torpedo; political asylum; politician; prefect; Promenade; Quark's; radiation; rat; renegade; repatriation; replimat; runabout; scar; second-degree burn; short-sightedness; silk; space station; splinter group; spy; Starfleet; storage cell; structural integrity field; suit; subspace transmission; surrender; Tahna's scout ship; Tarkalean tea; terrorist; tongue; tractor beam; traitor; transporter; wanted criminal; warp engines; water; Yangtzee Kiang, USS
- Bajoran Intelligence net: Barkano; Cardassian Central Command; Cazanjian; Delgado; Manak City; Matiovsky IV; Ozolu City; Rush Asteroid Belt; Sector 52043
- "Past Prologue" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Past Prologue" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Past Prologue" at Wikipedia
- "Past Prologue" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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"A Man Alone"