What’s it about: Kira has been ripped from her post on the station and gets closer to Bariel, the situation on Bajor is falling apart, Sisko is forced to evacuate the station…
Single Father: Sisko tells Jaro that Kira has his complete respect and she has been invaluable in establishing this command post. The level of esteem between the two characters is palpable and made all the more powerful after the troubled beginnings we experienced between them last year. When Sisko tells Kira he will get her back no matter what it takes I got chills, it's very satisfying characterisation. The scene between Sisko and Krim is vital because he doesn’t try and trade his information for Kira and the General judges him to be an honourable man, which comes in very important in the next episode when the General is exposed as the military force behind the Circle. Proving that he is the finest Starfleet Officer to come out the Federation Sisko is told that this is an internal fight to Bajor and the Prime Directive applies and our Benjamin sticks two fingers up at authority and is determined to stay behind anyway. I literally punched the air with delight. He doesn't just think outside the box, he dismantles it so he doesn't ever have to think within it again.
Tasty Terrorist: Kira has been breaking rules for years but she feels that perhaps she has broken one too many now. After some leave she has earned a post at the foreign affairs office, which sounds as exciting as attending a week long symposium about sewage works. Sweetly Kira tells Bariel that the army of people that have invaded her quarters are her friends and it’s a lovely affirmation of her feelings toward them. Before she leaves there is a moment where Kira walks longingly around Ops and you realise how much she has become attached to this Cardassian monstrosity of a station. Kira tries her damndest to create a row of stones over a pond at the monastery but when she fails continuously she declares that the stones are straight and she’s the one that’s crooked. Very perceptive, and sometimes she even likes being that way. With subtle touches and looks, Kira and Bariel exude sexual chemistry that is satisfied during the sensual and erotic orb experience. She’s useless at the monastery and she needs to feel useful but Bariel insists that she explores uselessness for a time. Look at Nana Visitor’s face as Kira looks up to see an Orb, there’s such a complex myriad of emotions I don’t know how to begin to describe it. Shock, unworthiness, satisfaction, fear… After her Orb experience she doesn’t want to talk about her lustrous encounter with Bariel. It's bashful looks and awkward pauses all the way.
Unknown Sample: Odo is deeply upset to see Kira so readily accepting her reassignment but cannot just tell her that so he lectures her on her ‘personal code’ instead. He wants her to fight to stay because its what she does best. Or perhaps he wants her to stay for a very different reason...
Community Leader: When it comes to departures Quark was thinking that he and Kira could have an intimate farewell drink, offer a sympathetic smile and a shoulder to cry on. Always thinking with his trousers. Quark’s black market contacts once again come in handy when he is told that the Circle has enough weapons to support an army.
Sparkling Dialogue: ‘Well you did fairly well at it once I smoothed your rough edges’ ‘Huh!’ ‘What’s so funny?’ ‘I thought you did fairly well…once I smoothed your rough edges.’
‘I came to give you my best’ ‘Well that’s rather dull’ ‘I beg your pardon?’ ‘Dull is a polite word for it!’
‘We gotta leave! Or I do anyway…you can just turn into a couch!’
‘Government…they can’t even agree that it is a government so they call it provisional. It's just another word for powerless.’
The Good: Frank Langella continues to impress and it is such a shame that they couldn’t get him back to do more after this three parter – go and listen to the way he says ‘I’m sorry?’ to Sisko in the first scene. He makes it sound like ‘if you don’t tell me what you mean I will leap over this desk and strangle you.’ Brrr… If you ever needed a specific scene that exemplifies that the DS9 cast is the strongest and has the best chemistry go and watch the awesome screwball comedy scene in Kira’s quarters where all and sundry come to say goodbye and everybody winds up misunderstanding everybody. It’s hilariously funny, beautifully timed and injected to the brim with character. Try hard as I might but I cannot see the crew of either TNG or VOY pulling this off with this level of skill. That's not to denigrate the chemistry that the sister shows exude, just to point out that there is something very special here. It gets more energetic and funny as it continues and then Bariel turns up and it’s like putting a pin into a balloon. Two episodes in a row with location work? They’ll be paying for that later in the season for sure. The scenes at the monastery are beautifully filmed in a way that only Trek location work can be with waterfalls, ponds and lots of gorgeous green foliage. It's a place radiates peace. Kira’s Orb experience mixes the surreal with the sensual to create a memorable sequence with plot details of the next episode bleeding into this one. How can having a character as deliciously conniving as Winn back be anything but a pleasure? Her rapturous appraisal of Kira (by insulting her with a smile, naturally) was beautifully played by Louise Fletcher as ever. I don’t think it is any great surprise that Jaro is behind the Circle and in fact I would have been disappointed had it been anybody else but this most intimidating of Bajorans. His speech about not being victims and bringing art and architecture to so many worlds really strikes a chord – he isn’t just a one-note villain but a thoughtful man who refuses to be cowed any longer. He wants to rebuild his world with an iron fist because 50 years of terror have taught the Bajorans that that is how things get done. Winn and Jaro coming together is played like two Greek Gods joining forces, it’s a terrifying prospect and the shot of the two of them looking out over sunny Bajor is one of my favourite ever Trek scenes, marvellously doom laden and visually stunning.
The Bad: There is so much going on in this episode poor old Li Nalas is rather sidelined.
Moment to Watch Out For: As usual the scenes between Odo and Quark are gorgeous and this one especially so as Quark laughs his head off as Odo makes him a deputy! ‘You and me? A team? Ahahahahaha! Goodbye.’
Only DS9: The bare chested erotica between Kira and Bariel is about as far as I have seen Trek go in suggesting sex visually and it is beautifully done. Kira’s face is really cut up and bloody – it’s an astonishing moment of brutality from the Bajorans that have picked up a few tips from the Cardassians. The fact that the plot ties in with DS9’s running plot with the Cardassians providing the weapons for the Circle to drive the Federation away so they can invade Bajor again is brilliant. This episode is working on so many levels.
Foreboding: Two assault vessels are on their way to Bajor to kick the Federation’s butt. The Cardassians plan to retake Bajor and nab the wormhole for themselves! Sisko gives the finger to the Prime Directive! I want to watch the next episode now!
Result: The Circle has everything I want from DS9 and more. It is dramatic, funny, beautifully acted, superbly written and is brought to life with expense and evocative imagery. The show continues to ride high on the dizzying mix of political intrigue and religious plotting and when you add the wealth of incredible character scenes the show feels sophisticated without ever being too complicated or lecturing. We’re only two seasons into this show but for me Kira Neyrs has already become my favourite Trek character because of her strong character growth and this is another cracking spotlight on her character. Nana Visitor must have been thrilled with each script that was delivered. The way this three parter continues to unflower through its willingness to take risks is immensely satisfying and before this episode is out we have experienced farce, erotica, action and drama. This is Trek for grown ups: 10/10