Star Trek: Deep Space 9, Season Five, Episode #125 Rapture is to my mind among the best all the Star Trek series have to offer, and in the best tradition of all science fiction.
Teleplay is by Hans Beimler. Story by L. J. Strom. And directed by Jonathan West.
Before the credits, we watch Benjamin Sisko entering the image of a thousands of years old painting of the holy city of B’hala into the holosuite computer. As he’s
doing this, there is an accidental discharge of energy. All that occurs in this episode is the effect or consequence of that single, defining moment.
When we return, Dr. Bashir explains the effect of this energy discharge upon Sisko’s neurological apparatus. For a few days, he says, things will be a little brighter, a littler more vivid--”Enjoy the show,” he says. As if this were to be Sisko’s own, private lightshow.
Rapidly, we see this is more than just a diversion. In the holosuite, Sisko has replicated the obelisk from the painting. In a scene reminiscent of Samual Taylor
Coleridge’s composition of Kubla Khan, Kira Nerys plays the part of the man from Porlock, awakening Sisko form his vision of B’hala--she calls it a potemfar (no, I don’t really know how to spell Bajoran words), a holy vision.
Sisko’s chiding of Kira is a classic description of the man from Porlock, "I was standing in front of the obelisk. And as I looked up, for one moment, I understood it all. B'hala. The Orbs. The Occupation. The discovery of the Wormhole. The coming war with the Dominion. I nearly had it all--until someone woke me up!”
For 10,000 years Bajoran archeologists had been searching for the 20,000 year old holy city of B’hala. Sisko finds it in days! Soon, he is walking down the Promenade, already an object of awe, giving prophecies to strangers he meets--and not only strangers: he tells the Starfleet Admiral Whatley that Whatley’s son no longer hates
As finding the holy city, we are given to understand that all the miraculous happenings are true, not a dream or fantasy. But not without a
Rapt in these visions, Sisko does not tell those closest to him, Cassedy Yates (his wife to be), and his son Jake, of the toll they demand of him. After a number of seizures, Dr. Bashir explains the reason. The rapture is altering Sisko’s neurology--its killing him. But there is a--possible--cure, though it will end the rapture! For Sisko, it is not a disease--he seeks no cure.
What had been an experience of wonder, now becomes an experience of terror for all but Sisko. There is a standard scene with the Starfleet Admiral, who orders Sisko to
undergo the cure.
There is a touching scene with Jake and Cassedy Yates. Sisko describes holding Jake, as a baby, in his arms, and seeing Jake’s whole life in that baby's unformed face. Sisko uses that as a metaphor for the vision unfolding before him in his rapture. Jake and Cassedy can only stare at him in dispair and incomprehension.
There is the curious scene in “Ops.” The rationalists--Miles O’Brien the Engineer, and Jadzia Dax the Scientist--are utterly uncomprehending before Sisko’s
determination. "Since when did you believe in the Prophets?" Dax asks Worf. "What I believe in," he answers, "is faith." "That's not much to bet his life on," Dax says. "You're wrong. It's everything," Kira responds with certainty. The true believers--Worf the Warrior, and Kira the Resistance fighter--understand, because it is the very fabric of their being.
Another side effect (everything in this episode is a side effect of Sisko’s rapture) is a telling response of Kai Winn to Major Kira. A complex character, the Vedec and then Kai, is portrayed as a cunning and conniving seeker of power. But then, there are scenes such as this, where another side is portrayed. "Before Captain Sisko found
B'hala, my path was clear. I knew who my enemies were. But now, nothing is certain." Now she must accept at least the possibility that Sisko is indeed the Emissary of the
But the ostensible reason for the episode, and the actual reason for the visit of the Starfleet Admiral, is to accept Bajor into the Federation. At the official ceremony, all the dignitaries of Bajor and the federation wait for Sisko--who is enduring (and that is the word for the weakened Sisko) an experience with the Orb of Prophecy, attempting to tie all his visions together.
Hours late, he bursts into the meeting crying “Locusts! Locusts! It is too soon for Bajor to join the federation!” All stare in wonder. The Starfleet dignitaries stare at their Captain, the architect of this day. The Bajorans stare at a Saint of their religion.
"B'hala had been rebuilt. The people were in the streets celebrating. But then a shadow covered the sun. We looked up and saw a cloud filling the sky. It was a swarm of
locusts. Billions of them. They hovered above the city. The noise was deafening. But just as quickly as they came they were gone. Now I know where they were going - Cardassia."
(Sisko, of course)
Sisko collaspses, and is taken to the Infirmary to Dr. Bashir’s care. Despite the order of Admiral Whately and the pleading of Cassedy Yates, Bashir can do nothing; Sisko has
specifically told him he does not want his visions to stop.
It takes the express wish of Sisko’s next of kin, his son Jake, to permit Bashir to operate.
The saddness in Sisko’s eyes when he wakes is palpable.