Thursday, April 24, 2014

I have a friend who is just now watching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, 15 years after it left the air.

On DSN, there's a big change at the top of Bajoran culture when Kai Opaka (played by Camile Saviola) was replaced with Kai Winn (played by Louise Fletcher).

The Kai is like the pope in Bajoran religion, which otherwise resembles Buddhism (with its various schools, monks, nuns, habits, and so on). Kai Opaka saw the Bajoran people through a decades-long occupation and genocide. In the first-season episode "Battle Lines", Opaka is killed on a dwarf planet in the Gamma Quadrant. She's resurrected by nanobots placed on the planet by the Changeling race -- but cannot leave the planet, or she'll die. She stays behind to help the warring races of the planet find peace.

Her abdication (she's reported dead) leads Vedic Winn and Vedic Bareil to vie for the kai-ship. Winn is elected. She's insecure, vindictive, jealous, power-hungry, and desperate for contact with her gods, the Prophets (who are really other-dimensional wormhole aliens). Deeply patriotic, she loathes the Federation because it comes to dominate her planet's trade, politics, etc. In time, her vindictiveness leads her to commit a vile heresy as well as treason with Bajor's most hated genocide (the Cardassian general, Gul Dukat).

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