Friday, October 7, 2022

Star Trek: Battle Lines

Episode: "Battle Lines"
Series: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season 1, Episode 13
Original Air Date: April 25, 1993

Kai Opaka arrives for a visit.  It's not only her first time on the station but her first time leaving Bajor.  She is eager to see the wormhole and, of course, the Gamma Quadrant on the other side.  Sisko arranges for an expedition though not all goes according to plan.  The adventurers crash land on a moon where the inhabitants have been condemned to fight an endless war, not even allowed to die.

While there are a couple later appearances for the character, Opaka essentially leaves the DS9 narrative in this episode.  She doesn't die - at least not permanently.  Instead, she decides to stay on the moon, feeling a spiritual calling to help the eternal combatants.  It's a curious choice for a series still finding its footing.  The spiritual elements of DS9 set it apart from previous Star Trek stories and as such, the removal of the Bajoran spiritual leader feels awkward, especially since the decision was made only because Opaka was seen as the most expendable recurring character.  On the other hand, her choice to stay opens up new directions for the spiritual arc, too, both for Kira individually and for the crew overall as they adjust to Opaka's very different successor.

Acting Notes

Jonathan Banks played the role of Shel-La, the leader of one of the warring factions.  Banks was born January 31, 1947 in Washington, DC.  He went to Indiana University, where he was a classmate of Kevin Kline.  After graduation, he worked as a stage manager for a touring company of Hair.  

Banks found roles in some high-profile films: Airplane!, 48 Hrs. and Beverley Hills Cop, among others.  His career really took off when he landed the part of Frank McPhie in the CBS series Wiseguy.  The Breaking Bad franchise has been especially good for him with 73 episodes as Mike Ehrmantraut between the original series and the Better Call Saul spinoff.  Overall, Banks has six Emmy nominations.  He is the only actor to be nominated for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series as a main cast member for three different shows.

Banks has been married twice and has three children.