Friday, June 2, 2023

Star Trek: Sanctuary

Episode: "Sanctuary"
Series: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season 2, Episode 10
Original Air Date: November 28, 1993

via Memory Alpha

Refugees come through the wormhole.  The universal translator takes a while to sort out their language but eventually, we learn they are known as the Skrreeans.  They are on the run from danger (The Dominion - first time mentioned by name) in the Gamma Quadrant.  They hope to settle on Bajor.  Their leader, Haneek, trusts Kira most so the major becomes the go-between.  The relationship becomes strained once the Bajorans hand down their decision as to whether or not to allow the settlement.

The topical relevance is obvious and "Sanctuary" boasts several interesting narrative elements.  The process of sorting out the language gap is interesting, and importantly different from the issues in "Darmok."  The Skreeans are a matriarchal society and not an offensive one as in "Angel One."  The attitudes on both the station and Bajor regarding the refugees are true to life.  The personal betrayal element definitely works.  Yet somehow, the messaging feels heavy-handed to me.  

Maybe I'm supposed to feel uncomfortable.  The writers and especially the makeup team did a great job of making the Skrreeans... unappealing.  They have bumpy, flaky skin, leading Quark to complain that they're leaving little bits of themselves all over his bar.  That is, admittedly, pretty gross.  It's a tangible representation of the sort of heebie-jeebies people in our time often feel towards "other people."

Casting Notes

William Schallert played the role of Varani, a professional Bajoran musician whom Kira invites to the station.  In the original series, Schallert played Nilz Baris in the masterful episode, "The Trouble with Tribbles."  Schallert passed away in 2016.

Andrew Koenig was Tumak, one of Haneek's sons.  The actor is the son of Walter Koenig, TOS's Chekov.  Andrew Koenig committed suicide in 2010.

Kitty Swink was Rozahn, the Bajoran official who breaks the bad news to the Skrreeans.  Swink was and still is married to Armin Shimerman (Quark).

Acting Notes

via Memory Alpha

Deborah May (Haneek) was born in Remington, Indiana.  She was Miss Indiana in 1970.  

She had a recurring role in St. Elsewhere and also made appearances in The Golden Girls, Seinfeld and ER.  Films include The Kid, Nurse Betty and The Woman in Red.  In 1981, she directed a documentary about black women in apartheid South Africa: You Have Struck a Rock.  "Sanctuary" was her first of two Trek appearances in two different series.  


  1. I have yet to watch Deep Space but this sounds like a good episode because it deals with people that most would not like to know or touch. It makes us uncomfortable which is a good strategy.

    1. I've likely said it before: in my opinion, DS9 is Star Trek at its best. I hope you'll check it out sometime.

  2. Sounds like an interesting episode.