Episode 1.12 - Rhapsody in Blue
Synopsis (No Spoilers)
Moya and crew are tricked into flying to a remote planet in the Uncharted Territories populated by a splinter sect of Delvian priests seeking to attain the higher levels of the spiritual Seek. The crew is given false memories to keep them in orbit so that the sect can use Zhaan's knowledge to further their own goals. In a dangerous attempt to learn how Zhaan was able to resist madness, Tahleen (the leader of this sect) asked Zhaan to share unity with her. But instead of just looking for the knowledge, Tahleen took Zhaan's ability to quiet her rage, plunging Zhaan into the madness that all Delvian priests must master. With the crew bewildered and useless by the false memories and Zhaan plunging into unrecoverable madness, can the crew of Moya learn the secret in time to save themselves and Zhaan?
DS9ers Review (Spoilers)
On a barely hospitable planet in the Uncharted Territories, a separatist group of Delvian priests hides in seclusion to continue their quest for the higher levels of the Delvian religion. Their ship, which buried itself upon landing on the planet, holds many wonders including a vast and replenishable supply of food. John and Aeryn are given the task of replenishing Moya's food stocks. It's during this exchange between Aeryn and John, that we get to see John's true wonder of the universe, especially this part of the universe. "Look at this, Aeryn, this is a ship. It's amazing, and it's a bit creepy." Everything he sees is new to him, and he's not ashamed to show his wonder at it all. Aeryn remains distant, but there is a glimmer of wonder in her eyes as well. Even though she has never seen a ship like the Delvians', it is still common place to her. John allows her to cast aside her cynicism and see the ship and by extension, anything that is new, for the wonder that it is.
Quickly though, the situation disintegrates into chaos. Aeryn is asked to leave the temple, which also means leaving the planet's surface, and Zhaan is being asked to make a sacrifice that may cost her her sanity. She turns to John to help her keep her center throughout unity, the sharing of one's soul and knowledge with another, with the other Delvians. The irony of the situation is that John is the least prepared mentally to help anyone in the Uncharted Territories, but he becomes Zhaan's only hope. The rest of the crew realizes quite quickly what is happening on the surface: Zhaan's seemingly rash, and presumabley dangerous, decision to share Unity to help the other Delvians control their inner rage. But before they can act and rescue John and Zhaan from the planet's surface, the Delvians alter their memories to distract the crew.
Zhaan is initially reluctant to help out the Delvians, but she is eventually convinced that what Tahleen is asking for could help free the Delvian people from the tyranny of the PeaceKeepers. The process is not without risk. Zhaan consults the original leader of this sect, Pa'u Tuzak, Tahleen's father, to seek guidance in the matter. He originally decided to take this sect renegade so that they could eventually free their people. Even though he is long past redemption from the insanity that was brought on by his accelerated religious quest, and which threatens the sanity of the other Pa'us following his teachings, he still understands what Tahleen's objectives are. Tahleen's objectives -- once to free her people -- now seem to revolve around gaining more power through the Delvian seek, something that the seek is not meant for, and which ultimately will lead to madness. Tuzak does warn Zhaan that even though Tahleen seeks to free her people, she will most certainly use the new power she gains to hurt others. Zhaan must come to terms with the Machiavelian paradox of giving Tahleen the ability to both help and hurt people, and through which she would gain the knowledge too quickly and without the discipline to use it.
After consulting Tuzak, Zhaan decides to help Tahleen achieve her goals. However, during unity, Zhaan realizes Tahleen's goal isn't to just understand how to control her rage, but to take Zhaan's abilities for her own, thus rendering Zhaan incapable of controlling her own rage. This renegade sect isn't attaining these levels through the time-consuming and rigorous study. Instead they attempt to gain the knowledge by sharing unity (similar to a mind-meld where two bodies inhabit one soul), and taking the knowledge by force without the wisdom to control that new knowledge.
Ultimately Zhaan must rely on John's innocent wonder of his new surroundings to bring her back from madness and rage -- an irony that is not lost on either one of them. Zhaan gets to see the universe as if she'd never seen it before, and John sees glimpses of the rage that Zhaan must control. Both now have a deeper understanding of the other, something that would take years to gain though casual conversation and contact. However, John's wonder at the universe isn't dimmed through his experience. But his experience with the Delvians opens his eyes to the cruelty that seems to abound wherever he travels. His perceptions of Zhaan change as well. She is no longer the pious priestess that he saw her as, but as someone capable of great cruelty and malice. Ultimately Zhaan's character is rounded out more. She is no longer a peace-loving priest, but is capable of, and seems willing to, commit great atrocities in the name of freedom.
This episode sets up Zhaan's character for us so that we can understand her struggle between religious serenity and the desire to inflict pain which is played out in future episodes. In order to bring Zhaan back from the brink of insanity, John shares Unity with Zhaan. The joining of their souls also links them telepathically, to some degree, even after Unity is over. This gift is also utilized in future episodes.
In the end Zhaan decides to give up the Delvian seek because she feels unworthy. I find this troubling because she has attained the next higher level in the Seek, but decides to cast it away for what seems like arbitrary reasons to me. Zhaan says, "It feels like a shroud I'm no longer worthy." What makes this troubling is that Zhaan realized her mistake, and was able to mitigate the effects of it. She is redeemed through Unity with John. But ultimately, it was her discipline and ability to control her rage that saved her from madness. John merely gave her the strength she needed to regain control. Even more confusing is that the results of Tahleen's "rape" of Zhaan's abilities provided Tahleen with none of the knowledge or abilities she needed, and starkly revealed her pernicious path to "spiritual enlightenment". Her followers became acutely aware that what she was doing was wrong, and before they too were driven to madness, they abandoned her teachings.
Rating: 7/10 This episode does show us some of Zhaan's background, and why she was imprisoned by the PeaceKeepers. Although it doesn't advance the action much, it does set up many future relationships and motivations for future exploration. Zhaan's decision to abandon her spiritual quest is a bit troubling given all that has happened.
John: "It's so perfect my teeth hurt."
Synopsis & Review by : DS9ers
Aeryn: "Yeah, it's from all the sincerity."
Aeryn: "It's amazing how people mistake theosophy for superiority."
John: "I dub thee, Trigapod." "N-No!! Nuh. No, no, no, reaction from you! No Aeryn, it's unique. It's a squid/calamari/cucumber. And it's unique. It is incredible!"
John: "OK, almost everything we see, almost everyday, is brand new to both of us. It's worthy of response. Then again, it is a little creepy."
Tuzak: "I am insane."
John: "Yeah, that woulda been my next guess."
John: "You killed the guy you were having sex with, Zhaan!!!???"
Zhaan: "I need you, John. I need you."
John: "For what?? Target practice???!!!"
Tahleen: "Preoccupy them all, as you would children. Attack them with their hopes and fears."
Hasko: "Is that how you would treat your children, Lorana?"
John: "Is that what happened to Grampah Looney Toons?"
John: "Well burn down the temple, sister, 'cause you're a bastard sect in any religion!"
Edited by : DS9ers
Put on-line by : Bluey