- Kira Nerys, unlike her predecessors Riker and Spock, was not affiliated with Starfleet but still proved to be an excellent Number One to Commander Sisko.
- Kira’s past as a Bajoran Resistance fighter and her loyalty to Bajor make her a central figure in exploring the aftermath of the Cardassian Occupation, providing a unique perspective to Sisko.
- Kira’s dark past, including her involvement with a terrorist organization and committing acts of violence, shaped her into a better officer and allowed her to help Bajor move on from its dark history.
Major Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor) broke tradition in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, making her an excellent Number One who matches up to the examples set by Commander William T. Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Lieutenant Commander Spock (Leonard Nimoy). Unlike Riker and Spock, Kira was not affiliated with Starfleet, and was instead a member of the Bajoran Militia assigned to DS9 as Federation Liaison. Commander Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) specifically requested a Bajoran as his second-in-command because of the sensitive nature of his mission to prepare Bajor for Federation membership.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine really benefited from having both a Starfleet and Bajoran perspective, making Kira the perfect Star Trek Number One for Sisko. DS9 season 1, episode 2, “Past Prologue” is about Kira’s struggle to reconcile her new responsibilities as Federation liaison and her past as a Bajoran Resistance fighter. The return of notorious Bajoran terrorist Tahna Los (Jeffrey Nordling) gives DS9 the opportunity to explore how Kira differs from her predecessors like Spock and Riker, while demonstrating why she’s an excellent Number One.
Kira Didn’t Need Starfleet To Be A Great Number One To Sisko
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s Ro Laren plan would have robbed the show of the central conflict between Sisko and Kira. If Sisko had a Starfleet officer as his second-in-command DS9 wouldn’t have been able to explore the deeply complicated past of the Cardassian Occupation of Bajor. That long period of oppression was vital to the overarching story of Deep Space Nine and Kira was the show’s central figure in exploring its aftermath. “Past Prologue” is the first episode to properly expand upon her past, and her loyalty to Bajor and to a terrorist like Tahna Los puts her in direct conflict with Sisko.
This is key to the Sisko and Kira relationship, as she effectively becomes his guide to Bajoran society and history. Her history in the resistance, and her desire to see a free Bajor are just as perfect a counter to Sisko’s Starfleet duties as Spock’s logic was to Kirk’s impulsiveness. In return, Sisko helps Kira to understand the benefits of Bajor embracing a more open and less insular future. It’s that positive vision that she tries and fails to sell to Tahna Los in “Past Prologue” and Kira’s ongoing reconciliation with her past will eventually prove vital to bringing an end to Dominion rule over Cardassia Prime at the end of the Dominion War.
Kira’s Dark Past Makes Her A Very Different Star Trek Number One
Riker and Spock had darkness in their past, but nothing on the level of Kira’s role in resisting the Cardassian Occupation of Bajor. In “Past Prologue”, Kira and Tahna Los knew each from their time fighting the Cardassians. It’s never fully confirmed in Star Trek canon, but there is an implication later in the episode “Battle Lines” that Kira had an affiliation with the Kohn-Ma terrorist organization. Regardless, her actions in the Shakaar resistance cell are enough to give an audience pause. In “The Darkness and the Light” from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season 5, it’s revealed that Kira killed the family of Gul Pirak in an attack on his home.
Riker’s experiences on the USS Pegasus and the USS Hood paled in comparison Kira’s backstory in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. However, just as Riker’s involvement with the controversial cloaking device formed him into a better officer, so too did Kira’s crimes during the Cardassian Occupation. Kira did bad things for good reasons, but she was always honest about those experiences. The resistance informed her role as Sisko’s Number One allowing her to help ensure that Bajor could positively move on from the darkness in its past.