(written from a Production point of view)
A group of refugees come through the wormhole in search of Kentanna, their fabled homeworld.
Kira Nerys underwent a day of frustrations the previous day with Minister Rozahn fighting bureaucratic excuses concerning the logistics for irrigating the Trilar Peninsula on Bajor. Kira has a sense of urgency, and feels Bajor is really in dire trouble. Unfortunately, she put off gathering next month's duty roster for Commander Sisko, and so Sisko calls her in his office to remind her. He knows what kept her busy, as her frustrated voice carried in Ops. She promises to drop it and get the roster done.
Chief O'Brien then relays a message from Quark, and so Kira goes down to the bar. She finds several Bajorans enjoying a sonata by Varani, but Quark sees customers not ordering any food or drink. Despite agreeing to have Varani play for a month, he would like to see something more upbeat so more people come in and spend latinum. She relays the request to Varani, but wishes there could be a more appropriate venue for him. Varani is passionate about bringing back the Bajorans' artistic heritage. Particularly, he wants to rebuild the Jalanda Forum, and had asked Kira to talk to Minister Bolka about it, but she says Bolka is very busy these days.
All this activity is interrupted by a new ship appearing through the wormhole. The ship is damaged, and four Skrreeans are beamed aboard while their ship is tractored in. Sisko introduces himself, but they are frightened.
As they attempt to communicate, Sisko and the others realize that the Skrreeans don't appear to understand what they are saying, nor can the crew understand the Skrreeans. They resolve to keep the Skrreeans talking until the universal translator can make sense of the Skrreean language, and decide to bring the group of them, Haneek, Tumak, Gai, and Cowl, down to the infirmary to tend to the wounds of one. This trip, unusually adventurous for a walk to the infirmary, reveals that the single female Skrreean, Haneek, appears to be the leader of the group. She also appears to only trust Kira, the only female so far that has dealt with the Skrreeans.
After Dr. Bashir treats Tumak's hand wound with a dermal regenerator, the Skrreeans arrive at quarters prepared for them, and Sisko gets them some maaza stalks to show them what to do. After some further attempts at communication, the computer begins sporadically, but soon adequately, to translate the Skrreean language. It is revealed that some three million Skrreean refugees are in trouble in the Gamma Quadrant and need the crew's help to inform their people of the wormhole and travel through it.
Haneek is now communicating well, and waits with the senior staff for Sisko in Ops. She explains her present and current nervousness is due to the presence of many males, as theirs is a female-dominated society, though she herself is "little more than a farmer." She then goes into their situation: their people have been seeking the Eye of the Universe, as legend says it is the gateway to their new homeworld, Kentanna. They heard about the wormhole and believed it to be the Eye. Sisko, Dax, and Kira resolve to welcome as many Skrreeans on to the station as is possible, and quickly search for a suitable planet for the Skrreeans to colonize. Ominously, Haneek also explains that their race was freed from servitude to the T-Rogorans when that race was in turn conquered by a Dominion member.
Haneek, back in her quarters, receives Kira who wants to have her greet the first group of Skrreeans when they arrive. She is nervous about this, as she's not a leader at all, but it would help to make sure the newcomers know it's safe.
Meanwhile, Jake and Nog talk on the upper level of the Promenade about the dabo girl Jake saw earlier, Mardah, but not quite on a date, as he helped with her homework on entomology. Nog is impressed, and says he couldn't use the excuse of helping someone with their homework to see a girl. They also observe a Skrreean (Tumak) eating leftover food, unaware he can order from the replicators. They wave hello to him, and he runs away.
The arrival of the first large group of Skrreeans is an awesome sight, as many of them fill the Promenade and experience their first taste of freedom.
As Skrreeans begin arriving on the station, there is some cultural tension. Haneek earlier had mentioned that the Skrreeans are matriarchal, as they find males too emotional and adversarial to make significant decisions. Nog finds this to be true, as he is pursued and eventually assaulted by several young Skrreeans including Tumak over a practical joke. Odo stops the children, and takes Nog to his office to have him talk to his father Rom. Quark arrives instead and makes Nog apologize. When Nog leaves, Quark looks down on the Skrreeans for loitering "without buying anything," and for the skin flakes they leave around his bar. Later, Nog meets back up with Jake, but runs into the Skrreeans again. Jake has Nog apologise, but the Skrreeans are unimpressed and try to attack Nog, leading all the boys to start brawling in the middle of the Promenade. Quark breaks it up, but makes it clear to the Skrreeans that they have worn out their welcome.
Meanwhile, the Skrreean matriarchs meet and agree that Haneek, as the first to find the wormhole, should lead the Skrreeans to Kentanna. She is nervous, but says she'll do the best she can. Kira encourages her afterward, saying she's not alone. Furthermore, Varani introduces himself, and presents a gift, saying his people know what it's like to be a displaced people. She happily accepts it and returns to her room. The gift inspires her to research Bajor, and finds that it fits the relevant description for the new Skrreean homeworld; it is "a planet of sorrow," and just outside the wormhole.
Dax and Sisko research possible worlds, they settle on Draylon II, a planet with a temperate climate, good soil, and a long growing season. It should be very suitable for them, and they go to meet them with the news. But before they can make the suggestion, Haneek announces they have already found it – Bajor.
Haneek insists that the Bajoran Provisional Government be petitioned to let the Skrreeans immigrate there. After a debate to consider the Skrreeans' request, the government in the end denies them, for fear that Bajor's problems will both worsen due to and spread to the Skrreeans. Minister Rozahn and Vedek Sorad travel to DS9 to give the response in person. Varani catches up with Kira beforehand, presuming to know the response, and asks Kira to relay his regret at the eventual denial to Haneek.
In Sisko's office, Rozahn diplomatically explains that, despite Haneek's assurance that they don't need the Bajorans' help, and that their projections on their future growth could be wrong, the government states the risk is too high. Should the Skrreeans need help, the Bajorans cannot deny them, and they simply don't have the resources to do so. Furthermore, the land is not guaranteed to be able to be farmed. Haneek is disheartened, and turns to Kira for support, but Kira states she agrees with the government.
Meanwhile, Jake finds Tumak at the Replimat and tries to be friendly, suggesting icoberry torte. Tumak insults Nog, but Jake shakes it off. Tumak is curt with him, disappointed in the decision to go to Draylon II and his overall experiences on the station.
Haneek considers the situation in her quarters when Kira arrives to talk. Haneek feels betrayed by a supposed friend, but Kira believes it is the right decision. Just then, Sisko calls in to inform Kira that Tumak has taken a Skrreean ship for Bajor, attempting to immigrate by force.
Kira and Haneek arrive in Ops to get more information and communicate with Tumak. He, unfortunately, is unaware that his ship is suffering from a plasma leak, and he also resists communication. While Sisko and Haneek are attempting to warn him, a pair of Bajoran interceptors move in to keep him off Bajor. The Bajorans are under direct orders from General Hazar not to let them land, so they contact him directly to stand them down. He does so, but both parties have already exchanged enough fire for Tumak's ship to explode all by itself from the damage of the phaser fire igniting the radiation leak.
In the end, the rejected Skrreeans reluctantly leave for Draylon II. Kira meets up with Haneek at the airlock to wish her luck, and that she still thinks Draylon is the best choice for them and Bajor. Haneek responds she believes it's a terrible mistake the Bajorans are making, insisting that the two races could have helped each other through their troubles. She pities the Bajorans for the suspicion and mistrust gained from the Occupation, and leaves without any parting words save for one last cutting remark: "You were right [Kira]: Bajor is not Kentanna."
"It's hard to keep a secret in Ops, especially when you've been shouting at a monitor for the past two days."
"Thought I kept it down to an angry whisper."
"Let's just say your voice carries."
- - Benjamin Sisko and Kira Nerys
"Ahh, Major! Get everything settled with Quark?"
"That little toad is this far from doing a 360 out an airlock!"
"I'm glad to hear everything went OK."
- - Benjamin Sisko and Kira Nerys
"Heh, there's no doubt who the boss is."
- - Odo, after observing Haneek giving orders to the three men with her
"This will be your quarters while you're here at the station. I'm sure you wanna rest and clean up and you don't understand anything I'm saying, do you?"
- - Kira Nerys to the Skrreeans
"What's that smell?"
"Me? You're the one who stinks!"
- - Jake Sisko, Tumak and Nog
"Are all your leaders women?"
"All of them?
"You heard her, Julian."
"Men are far too emotional to be leaders. They're constantly fighting amongst themselves. It's their favorite thing to do." [off looks from O'Brien, Odo and Bashir] "I'm sorry, I hope I haven't offended anyone."
- - Jadzia Dax, Haneek, and Julian Bashir
"Mardah's studying entomology. She asked me to help her out."
"A dabo girl who studies entomology! Hah! Sure."
"Yeah! What is entomology?"
"The study of bugs."
"Oh, you mean she wants to be a chef!"
- - Jake and Nog
"It's going to get awfully crowded around here, Commander."
"I know, Constable, but it's worth it. Just look at them. They're experiencing their first taste of freedom."
- - Odo and Benjamin Sisko
"This isn't over yet, Big Ears!"
- - Tumak
"I think you've made a terrible mistake. All of you. Maybe we could have helped you. Maybe we could have helped each other. The Skreeans are farmers, Kira. You have a famine on your planet. Perhaps we could have made that peninsula bloom again. We'll never know, will we? Fifty years of Cardassian rule have made you all frightened and suspicious. I feel sorry for you. You were right. Bajor is not Kentanna."
- - Haneek, to Kira Nerys
"Nog, have you been causing mischief again?"
"No uncle, it's all a misunderstanding."
"He sprayed several Skrreean boys with a foul smelling vapor."
[Smiles] "Did he?"
[Turns to Nog] "What do you have to say for yourself?"
"See the boy is beside himself with guilt!"
- - Quark, Nog, and Odo
Story and script
- Frederick Rappaport selected a story that was pitched by Gabe Essoe and Kelley Miles that had not been used by the writing staff. Rappaport commented that "the idea for "Sanctuary" was pretty basic: alien boat people are rescued by Deep Space Nine, and millions more are coming behind them. That's basically what they had, and it wasn't working''. Rappaport created the characters of Haneek and Tumak and plotted an ending in which the Skrreea were allowed to settle on Bajor due to their botanical skills. (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 8)
- Michael Piller decided to plot a down-beat ending to this episode and invert the happy ending of Frederick Rappaport's original teleplay. Piller felt that the episode would carry more resonance if things didn't turn out okay for everyone. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Frederick Rappaport appreciated the change of the ending, commenting "I worked hard to come up with a twist for the story, but the happy ending just wasn't as strong as what we ultimately came up with. Michael Piller pointed out that, in reality, when a foreign group of people come en masse to someone else's homeland, the natives seldom greet them with open arms and allow them to stay. Michael felt that the Bajorans should do the same thing, and I was pleased that he saw it that way. It was a brilliant stroke, and I admired his guts". (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 8)
- The writers had difficulty in finding a uniqueness to the Skrreea, before deciding that their skin would flake. Ira Steven Behr commented "There's something just disgusting and intrusive about an alien race that come and leaves bits of themselves on your table and on your glasses". (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p 67)
- The Skrreean makeup is one of make-up supervisor Michael Westmore's favorite make-ups due to its simplicity and effectiveness. The "bumpy skin" makeup was created by combining little bags of pumice, found in a hobby train shop, with liquid latex, which was then applied to the actors' faces and dried. (Michael Westmore's Aliens: Season Two, DS9 Season 2 DVD special features)
- The main Skrreean ship seen docked at Deep Space 9 was a reuse of the Promellian battle cruiser model from TNG: "Booby Trap". Glenn Neufeld and David Takemura created some of the background Skrreea ships out of parts from model planes, cars and tanks. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- William Schallert (who had previously played Nilz Baris in the I AM ERROR episode "The Trouble with Tribbles") guest starred as Varani in the episode. Schallert commented: "…I'd never watched the show, so I was at a bit of a loss. The only person I knew on that was Armin Shimerman. I knew him from our both being involved in the Screen Actors Guild. And I knew his wife as well, Kitty Swink. I'm one of the trustees of our pension and health plan, and she's been very big on that. I like her a lot. She's a really intelligent person. I had a scene with Nana Visitor. I had to play a musical instrument. It happens that I'm a trained musician and I've played the piano all my life. I'd been a folk singer at one time, so I could play guitar. But I'd never played wind instruments. This thing they gave me had nothing on it to suggest where your fingers were supposed to go, and they were playing a specific tune. So I had to sort of imagine in my mind that these various fingers were associated with various notes. I tried my best to duplicate what the tune of the song was. I kind of got close, but I didn’t get it exact. That was actually the most difficult thing I had to do on the show. The acting part of it was fairly simple." 
- Kitty Swink, who portrays the character of Minister Rozahn, is Armin Shimerman's wife. Shimerman commented: "I was very proud of her. There was a sort of stigma about hiring a spouse and I'm glad she broke it". ("Giving Free Advice", Star Trek: The Official Fan Club of the UK Magazine issue 8)
- Ira Steven Behr liked the dark conclusion to this episode, especially Kira's involvement in it; "It was a bold episode. It really walked the line with Kira, and pushed her into a very unattractive place." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Behr also commented that the ending: "had the impact of a physical blow. It was really well done. I liked doing the stuff with the language and the weird stuff with the two husbands who serviced her. It was a great show". (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p 67)
- The music Varani is playing in Quark's in the beginning of the episode is a variant of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine theme song.
- This episode marks the second reference to the Dominion. The first reference was in "Rules of Acquisition". The unidentified Dominion-member race that Haneek mentioned as having conquered the T-Rogorans were presumably the Jem'Hadar.
- Guest star Andrew Koenig, who plays Tumak, was Walter Koenig's son.
- This episode is the first of four Star Trek appearances by Leland Orser.
- Next to the horrible dress Haneek sees in the clothes shop on the Promenade, the outfits worn by Yareena in "Code of Honor" and Jenice Manheim in "We'll Always Have Paris" can be seen. The horrible dress itself was worn by Sandra Wild in the I AM ERROR episode "Deja Q" and altered. It was also sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay. 
- This episode takes place on exactly the same Stardate as TNG's Season 7 episode "Parallels", which was broadcast the next day.
- After Varani's performance, the Bajorans in the bar (including Kira) clap as Humans do. In earlier and later episodes, they clap with their palm to the back of their hand.
- Varani is one of the few Bajorans not to wear an earring.
- Haneek – the lead Skrreea woman – occasionally wears the same purple tie-dye dress that Picard's, or rather Kamin's wife, Eline wears in "The Inner Light". She wears the dress over a long-sleeved shirt.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 15, 6 June 1994
- As part of the DS9 Season 2 DVD collection
Links and references
- Rene Auberjonois as Constable Odo
- Siddig El Fadil as Doctor Julian Bashir
- Terry Farrell as Lieutenant Jadzia Dax
- Cirroc Lofton as Jake Sisko
- Colm Meaney as Chief Miles O'Brien
- Armin Shimerman as Quark
- Nana Visitor as Major Kira Nerys
- William Schallert as Varani
- Andrew Koenig as Tumak
- Aron Eisenberg as Nog
- Michael Durrell as Hazar
- Betty McGuire as Vayna
- Robert Curtis-Brown as Sorad
- Kitty Swink as Rozahn
- Sam Alejan as Starfleet sciences officer
- Ivor Bartels as Starfleet operations officer
- Kevin Grevioux as Starfleet operations officer
- Norman Large as Neral (display graphic)
- David B. Levinson as Broik
- Mary Mascari as Bajoran woman
- Mark Allen Shepherd as Morn
- Ian Spelling as Bajoran officer
- Unknown performers as
Alpha Quadrant; Bajor; Bajoran interceptor; Bajoran Provisional Government; Bajoran sector; Bajoran system; Bajoran wormhole; Bolka; Cardassians; Chamber of Ministers; class M; comb; constable; crop failure; dabo; dabo girl; dabo wheel; dermal regenerator; Dominion; Draylon II; duty roster; entomology; evasive action; exhibition hall; Eye of the Universe; Federation; Gamma Quadrant; general; grammar; gross profit; growing season; heart; hour; icoberry torte; immigration; indicator; Interceptor One; inventory; Jalanda Forum; jeetaka; Jem'Hadar; Kentanna; laborer; latinum; maaza stalks; Mardah; minister; music hall; northwest peninsula; Occupation of Bajor; phaser; plasma burn; plasma leak; profit; projection; Promenade; Quark's; Reegrunions; refugee; replicator; Rom; runabout; Sefalla Prime; self-worth; Skrreeans; Skrreean language; Skrreean ships; sonata; strip; T-Rogorans; Tixiplik, Plix; tivara; toad; Trilar Peninsula; troll; universal translator; Vedek; Vedek Assembly; winter
- "Sanctuary" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Sanctuary" at Wikipedia
- "Sanctuary" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Sanctuary" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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