“For the Uniform”
Written by Peter Allan Fields
Directed by Victor Lobl
Season 5, Episode 13
Production episode 40510-511
Original air date: February 3, 1997
Station log: Sisko goes to Marva IV, a Maquis colony, to meet with a contact who has information about Eddington’s whereabouts. Instead, he’s confronted by Eddington. The Maquis learned of the informant and trapped him on a planet in the Badlands for his trouble. Eddington shows Sisko the refugees from a Federation colony ceded to the Cardassians. Sisko points out that they were offered resettlement, but Eddington says they don’t want that, they want to go home. Sisko points out that that dream of going back home is pretty much dead, and these people are living in caves because they believe the Maquis party line.
Eddington says his quarrel is with the Cardassians, not the Federation, and to leave them alone. He beams away to a raider, and Sisko beams back to the Defiant and follows him, asking for assistance from the U.S.S. Malinche, nearby patrolling the DMZ.
However, Eddington comes about and pursues the Defiant—and as soon as Sisko arms weapons, a cascade virus completely wipes the ship’s computer. All systems are down aside from life support and communications. Eddington is disappointed that Sisko has made it personal, and while he does fire on the Defiant enough to damage it, he does not destroy the vessel.
The Malinche tows the Defiant back to DS9, and O’Brien starts on repairs. Odo has found two more cascade viruses in the station computer, and he can’t guarantee that there aren’t more. Worf reports that a Bolian freighter containing seemingly mediocre cargo has gone missing near the Badlands. Dax is analyzing the cargo to see why the Maquis might want it. Captain Sanders of the Malinche then informs Sisko that Starfleet has taken the pursuit of Eddington away from Sisko and given it to the Malinche. Part of it is Sisko’s lack of results over the eight months since “For the Cause,” part of it is that Eddington knows Sisko—he doesn’t know Sanders.
Sisko takes out his frustrations on a punching bag. Eddington fooled him while serving under him for a year and a half, and it pisses him off. (He doesn’t mention that Eddington got away because he set up Sisko’s girlfriend…)
They find out what the Maquis stole the cargo on the Bolian freighter for: it can be converted into a nerve gas that is deadly to Cardassians (though not to most other life forms). Eddington uses it on a Cardassian colony that the Maquis intend to take back. They stole enough material to wipe out every Cardassian world in the DMZ. The Malinche can’t handle the search alone, so Sisko takes the Defiant out.
The problem is that the Defiant’s nowhere near ready. Comms are down—except for the spiffy new holocommunicator, which O’Brien installed after Eddington left—and half the ship doesn’t work properly. O’Brien assigns Nog to serve as a verbal relay between the bridge and engineering, thanks to his mighty lobes of doom.
The Defiant heads off, and most of the stuff they do that’s automated has to be done manually. They head to the Badlands and find a Maquis raider and sure enough, it’s Eddington, who contacts them on the holocommunicator. He sends Sisko an eBook of Les Misérables—but it turns out he was never there. What they thought was a ship was a disguised probe/relay used to lure the Defiant to the Badlands while they ambushed the Malinche. The latter ship is dead in space, after being fooled by a brilliantly faked distress call from a Cardassian freighter that was really an ambush.
The Malinche did intercept a coded message from Eddington’s ship, which is sent along to Odo back on DS9 for decoding. Meanwhile, the Defiant continues the search. Odo determines that the message may have been for a rendezvous at Portis V, a Breen settlement near the DMZ. Intelligence drones nearby confirm that the Maquis have been active near that planet. Of the closest Cardassian worlds to Portis, Dax, Worf, and Kira narrow it down to two worlds, and Sisko chooses the less likely one, as Eddington likes to be unpredictable.
Unfortunately, they arrive too late—the Cardassian world is already being bombarded with the nerve gas. Sisko is able to stop one of the raiders that’s still in the system, but the other raider—the one Eddington’s in—damages a Cardassian evacuation ship, forcing the Defiant to help them rather than go after Eddington.
While they help the Cardassians, Sisko reads the copy of Les Misérables that Eddington sent. Eddington, he realizes, is the hero of his story—he’s Valjean, he’s Robin Hood, he’s fighting the good fight against impossible odds.
So Sisko decides that he needs to be the villain. He has Worf retrofit a couple of torpedoes with a cargo pod containing trilithium resin. Sisko then broadcasts a message to the Maquis: in one hour he will detonate the two torpedoes on a Maquis colony. He suggests they evacuate.
After fifty-nine minutes, the torpedoes are ready, but there’s no sign that any of the Maquis have even started an evac procedure. Eddington calls again, insisting that Sisko is bluffing.
Sisko orders Worf to fire the torpedoes.
Now, as the trilithium resin spreads and the Maquis start scrambling to get the hell off the planet, Eddington is horrified. He thinks that Sisko has betrayed the uniform even more than Eddington himself did. Sisko—playing the full-on melodramatic villain role, screaming and shouting—orders the Defiant to head to another colony and Worf to arm two more torpedoes. Eddington offers to hand over all the biogenic weapons, but Sisko shouts that that’s not good enough, and Eddington realizes that Sisko wants him. So Eddington turns himself in.
Can’t we just reverse the polarity? The Defiant (and, as we’ll learn in a few episodes, the station) now has a holographic communications system that enables the person communicating to appear as if they’re standing right in front of you (which makes the actors’ interactions more direct than they are over a viewscreen). It winds up being the only thing that works right on the Defiant…
The Sisko is of Bajor: Sisko is particularly frustrated by Eddington because he was so completely fooled. He even put Eddington in for a promotion before he buggered off to be a full-time Maquis. What frustrates him, as he puts it while beating the crap out of a punching bag, is that he isn’t a changeling, a wormhole alien, or even a being with seven lifetimes of experience—he was just an ordinary human, and he beat Sisko.
Don’t ask my opinion next time: Kira’s horror at Sisko’s orders to poison a Maquis planet is a bit at odds with her past, given that it’s a pretty standard terrorist tactic. So standard, in fact, that the terrorists they were chasing had just used it.
There is no honor in being pummeled: Worf’s hesitation to carry out Sisko’s orders is wildly out of character, as well. Worf is generally the last person to resist the chain of command in any form—and, as with Kira, he of all people would view Sisko’s tactics as sound.
The slug in your belly: Dax pointedly does not give Sisko the speech about how he’s jeopardizing his career over a vendetta, instead telling him that he’s more like Curzon every day, and also reminds him to remember this day the next time she goes off on a crazy adventure. (Like, say, in “Blood Oath”….)
Preservation of mass and energy is for wimps: At one point, Odo asks if Sisko has ever reminded Starfleet Command that they assigned Eddington to the station because they didn’t entirely trust Odo. Sisko says he hasn’t, and Odo tartly says, “Please do.”
Rules of Acquisition: Nog’s role is crucial, as his superior hearing enables communication between the bridge and engineering to go smoothly. I particularly love how he repeats everything word for word, even Kira and Sisko being sharp-tongued.
For Cardassia! Cardassians are vulnerable to a particular nerve gas that’s difficult to produce and has to be stored at low temperatures, which explains why the Bajoran resistance never used it. However, they’re apparently immune to the effects of trilithium resin.
Tough little ship: The Defiant has to be handled carefully, with commands relayed verbally, Dax manually flying the ship at impulse, and generally making the place sound like a modern-day submarine. It’s actually kinda cool, a nice reminder of how incredibly difficult and complex operating a ship in space would have to be.
Keep your ears open: “Sometimes I like it when the bad guy wins.”
Dax, enjoying how the episode ended.
Welcome aboard: Kenneth Marshall is back for his penultimate appearance as Eddington; he’ll be back in “Blaze of Glory.” Eric Pierpoint—probably best known in genre circles in his superb role as George Francisco in the Alien Nation TV series and follow-up movies—plays his second of five roles on Trek, having played Voval in TNG’s “Liaisons”; He’ll return on Voyager’s “Barge of the Dead” as Kortar, and on Enterprise both as Shiraht in “Rogue Planet” and in the recurring role of Harris in the show’s fourth season. And Aron Eisenberg is back as Nog.
Trivial matters: This episode serves as a sequel to “For the Cause.”
Sanders was originally intended to be a recurring character, but that plan never quite materialized. However, Sanders and the Malinche have been seen in multiple tie-in novels, including The Buried Age by regular commenter Christopher L. Bennett, The Badlands Book 2 by Susan Wright, and several works by your humble rewatcher: the Starfleet Corps of Engineers novella Here There Be Monsters, and the novels Articles of the Federation and A Singular Destiny. The latter novel established that the Malinche was destroyed with all hands by the Borg during the events of David Mack’s Destiny trilogy.
The Malinche was named after La Malinche, the Nahua woman who was Cortez’s lover and aided in his conquest of Mexico. The name was chosen by Hans Beimler, who did an uncredited polish on the script, and who was born in Mexico City.
There are literary and filmic references up the kazoo in this episode: Dax analogizes Eddington to the hero of James Thurber’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” Nog’s relaying commands between engineering and the bridge is an homage to the Robert Wise film Run Silent, Run Deep, Eddington showing Maquis refugees to Sisko is very much like a similar scene in The Adventures of Robin Hood when Robin takes Marian to see the starving peasants (and Sisko later likens Eddington to Robin Hood), and, of course, Eddington spends the entire episode likening Sisko’s chase of him to Javert’s pursuit of Valjean in Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables.
The holocommunicator will only be used once more, in “Dr. Bashir, I Presume?” It was viewed as not being particularly visually successful and discontinued. It was originally put in at the instigation of Ronald D. Moore, who felt that 24th-century technology should allow for talking on something more sophisticated than a glorified TV screen. However, the holocomm would still be used here and there in tie-in fiction, most impressively in the Gateways crossover, in which there was a massive holographic “conference call” including Admiral Ross and a huge contingent of captains, among them Scotty, Picard, Kira, and Calhoun (from New Frontier). That “conference call” scene appeared from three different POVs, in Robert Greenberger’s Doors Into Chaos, in Peter David’s Cold Wars, and your humble rewatcher’s Demons of Air and Darkness. (That scene was brainstormed in a fun plotting session among myself, Bob, and Peter at the Farpoint convention in the fall of 2000. Bob then drafted the scene from the TNG perspective, with each of us adding our bits and pieces and adjustments, and then I did the final continuity polish to make sure all three final versions were consistent with each other.)
Trilithium resin was first established as an explosive in TNG’s “Starship Mine.”
Walk with the Prophets: “All right, Javert, I’ll give you what you want.” This episode first aired in 1997 the same week as Voyager’s “Blood Fever,” and from that week forward, I always cited these two as indicative of the primary difference between DS9 and Voyager.
“Blood Fever” had Vorik, a Vulcan engineer, undergoing pon farr, which he then telepathically transfers to Torres. In the end, there’s a big fight, but after all that, after an entire episode focused on a biologically induced mating ritual, no one ever actually mates. (That’s also true of “Amok Time,” which introduced pon farr, of course.)
And that’s DS9 and Voyager in a nutshell. Because on Voyager, Janeway would never have done what Sisko did to the Maquis colony in this episode, and on DS9, goddammit, somebody would’ve gotten laid…
Anyhow, this episode continues the excellent work done in Eddington’s final scene in “For the Cause” of taking the incredibly bland character of Michael Eddington and making him interesting. Sisko’s incredible frustration with his having the wool pulled over his eyes is palpable, made most manifest in the punch-the-bag litany, magnificently delivered by Avery Brooks, as he punctuates his angry recitation with the pounding of the bag.
Sisko’s actions here are pretty appalling, but they’re also a fairly justifiable next step for a Starfleet officer to take, given what the Maquis are doing. They’ve attacked two starships, and poisoned a Cardassian world. That’s three acts of war right there, and it’s pretty much past the point where Starfleet should respond in kind. It’s still a very extreme response, and Eddington’s surprise that Sisko would go through with it is shared by the audience. (Using, oddly, Kira and Worf as their proxy by having them give Sisko funny looks, even though if there’s anyone in Sisko’s crew who would understand Sisko’s tactics, it’s those two.) But Eddington himself took that toothpaste out of the tube when he bombarded the Cardassian world. Live by the sword, die by the sword, and the Maquis have long since crossed the line from civilian agitators to military targets.
Plus Sisko has proven himself to be the type who gets his hands dirty, particularly when you’ve pissed him off. The episode really only talks about how angry he is that Eddington fooled him, but there’s another issue that the script maddeningly doesn’t bring up: Eddington used Yates against him, sacrificing her in more ways than one to facilitate his getaway. We’ve seen in “The Way of the Warrior” that you do not mess with Sisko’s girlfriend without consequences, and I really wish it had been brought up here (mainly because it was a particularly skeevy thing for Eddington to do, not least because it cost the Maquis an actual useful and sympathetic asset).
Also whatever sympathy one might have for the Maquis is pretty much out the window here. The refugees are living miserably on Marva IV for absolutely no good reason whatsoever. Look, there’s an argument to be made that it’s better to live on your world than some other world you’ve been relocated to even if your world is run from Cardassia now, but for these refugees, that choice has already been made out of their favor. They’re not even on the worlds they built (or their ancestors built, whatever), but living in squalor in a cave. The Federation, saps that they are, would totally relocate them to an actual world with technology and stuff on it in a heartbeat if they just asked, but they’ve chosen not to. At this point they’ve crossed the line from noble suffering to stupidity.
Eddington’s insistence that the Maquis aren’t killers is laughable, especially since he justifies it by saying that they didn’t kill the informant, they just stranded him on an inhospitable world. It’ll be the planet that kills him, not the Maquis, their hands are clean!
Sisko, to his credit, cuts through the crap in both these instances. And he beautifully overplays his shouting act during the climax, aggressively hamming up the melodramatic villain role to play to Eddington’s psychosis.
The episode isn’t quite perfect. I mean, between the Klingons and the recent Borg attack, Starfleet’s probably short-handed, but only two ships? As mentioned before, Kira and Worf’s vague disapproval is pretty much the opposite of what their contribution should be. And for a massive manhunt that’s supposedly gone on for eight months, it’s been completely in the background. This makes Sisko’s obsession pretty unconvincing given that it hasn’t come up at all in the past sixteen episodes.
Having said that, the episode also has some great moments, from Odo’s snarkily reminding Sisko just who the trustworthy security chief was on the station to Nog’s apprehension over O’Brien’s mention of things exploding, plus it’s always a pleasure to see Eric Pierpont.
Warp factor rating: 8
Keith R.A. DeCandido has a bunch of things coming out in the forthcoming months, including a Sleepy Hollow novel (based on the FOX TV series) Children of the Revolution; “Merciless,” a module for the Firefly: Echoes of War role-playing game; short stories in the anthologies Stargate: Far Horizons, Out of Tune, With Great Power, and V-Wars Volume 3; an essay in New Worlds and New Civilizations: Exploring Star Trek Comics; a short story collection entitled Without a License: The Fantastic Worlds of Keith R.A. DeCandido; and Mermaid Precinct, the next book in his series of fantasy police procedurals. Also check out his latest Star Trek book The Klingon Art of War (ordering links on his web site), which he talks about on several podcasts: The Chronic Rift, The G & T Show, “Literary Treks” onTrekFM, TrekRadio, The Sci-Fi Diner, Two Geeks Talking, and Keith’s own Dead Kitchen Radio.