Fri
Jun 13 2014 2:00pm

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “For the Uniform”

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: For the Uniform“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
Stardate: 50485.2

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.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: For the Uniform

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...)

 

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: For the Uniform

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.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: For the Uniform

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.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: For the Uniform

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.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: For the Uniform

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”....)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: For the Uniform

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.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: For the Uniform

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.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: For the Uniform

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.

116 comments
DougL
1. DougL
This is why I think Sisko is evil. So, there you have it. I also think Janeway is evil, it's all part of trying to make people grey I suppose, but as Stannis rightly points out in Game of Thrones, doing good does not wipe out the bad you have done. Grey isn't a colour of people, you have good and evil and many people have done both. This episode almost made me puke, and I like to pretend it never happened.
DougL
2. Brian_E
I'm a little ... bemused? (I'm not sure of the correct word to use) at the impression that the Marquis should have given up after losing their homes rather than fighting back, even using "terrorist tactics". Sometimes they win doing that. Case in point would be the Bajorans.
DougL
3. DougL
@2 Brian_E

It's all part of the hypocrisy of the Federation. They allow Admirals to run wild and do whatever they want (half of the movies), and embrace the Bajorans and vilify the Maquis. When even your own troops are switching sides maybe it should be time to think, but they don't.
DougL
4. lvsxy808
"doing good does not wipe out the bad you have done."
If you believe that, why don't you accept its opposite: that doing evil does not negate all the good you've done? Why use this one example to label Sisko as 'evil' as if it outweighs all the decades of compassionate parenthood, the relationship with Bajor, the leading a just war to save his people, the being a respected and loved commanding officer? Your argument is inconsistent with itself.
DougL
5. Crusaader75
Again, an episode where the main character does something that should be hugely controversial at minimum, with very little consequences. Sisko resorted to chemical warfare on a planetary scale without any approval from Starfleet Command. Yes, the Maquis started it first, but that does not give Sisko authority to escalate on his own. I think Kira is not so much disturbed by the tactics themselves than by Sisko using them on Federation people with whom she had expressed some sympathy to their cause in the past. Secondly, I find the existance of two chemical weapons that humans are immune to the effects of one and Cardassiasns to the effects of the other awfully contrived. There's just too much here for my ability to suspend disbelief to handle.
DougL
6. Rancho Unicorno
I never liked LM, but my understanding was that Valjean was never a Robin Hood, but a man who spent his life both atoning for a the barest of crimes and thanking a priest who showed the value of human kindness. I get the analogy to Javert and the obessed inspector (which I don't totally get, since the "victim" asserted there had been no crime), but Eddington to Valjean to Robin Hood feels like a reach.
Pirmin Schanne
7. Torvald Nom
Ye gods, this discussion about the Maquis's justification is getting really old - you guys keep forgetting that the Maquis worlds were seceded to Cardassian rule by the Maquis settlers' rightful government (the Federation) in order to end a war.

Keith, I'm actually more surprised that Worf followed those orders at all - from what I understand, Sisko was committing war crimes here (the Maquis colonies included civilian population, not just active fighters).
Kira is giving him bemused looks because, unlike her, he's not going in for his own people, but either to protect Cardassians (which she doesn't care about), or to sate his own personal vendetta.
Matt Hamilton
8. MattHamilton
The argument over the Maquis' justification for anything they do persists because it is a good argument, and a fun one to have and is kind of the point of a lot of fiction, especially Science-Fiction, to have meaningful discussions on the themes employed in the telling of the tale.

I disagree wholeheartedly with the chemical bombing of the planet being justified from Siskos' POV as well as Kira and Worf being out of character. Kira, yes, she may have done similar things in the past, but that doesn't mean she likes them or doesn't disaprove of her own doings during the occupation. And Worf, especially Worf, he is the idealized Klingon. Other Klingons may not have a problem with a chemical attack upon an entire population, but Worf, being an outsider most of his life, has an idealized concept of what makes a Klingon and what makes one honorable and chemically attacking a civilian population, to Worf at least, is surely less than honorable. Plus, he's hesitated carrying out orders with looks before on the Enterprise, and will flat out defy orders later in DS9. I just don't see how either of them were acting out of character. Sisko was acting out of character, not Worf and Kira.
DougL
10. C rusader75
@7 The rightful government's solution was what satisfied the wants of the distant bureaucrats on Earth and Cardassia Prime, rather than the needs of the actual political situation on the border. Then when push came to shove the Federation had a lack of nerve by making those people relocate when the treaty was implemented. The Federation government wanted its cake and ate it as well and got a low grade war for its troubles. They are largely responisible for the fiasco this became.
Jack Flynn
11. JackofMidworld
I just went with the idea that Kira harbored enough ill will for the Cardassians that she just automatically sided with anybody that was giving them hell.
James Goetsch
12. Jedikalos
It was this this episode that convinced me that DS9 was not a "Star Trek" show (in line with how Rodenberry viewed it, anyway). DS9 seems to me now like the first of all those dark and gritty turns that were to swamp us down the road (Batman and Superman, I am looking at you and Nolan). But then, I guess I was imprinted by TOS, since I saw the first episode when I was ten years old :)
David Levinson
13. DemetriosX
I'm not terribly fond of this episode. It's very well acted, but I feel that Sisko just goes horribly out of character. Even taking into account the way Eddington used Yates to betray Sisko, his obsession just goes too far. It never felt natural to me and bringing about conditions that will kill everyone on a planet is going way, way too far.

I also agree with those who say that Worf's hesitation is not out of character. On top of the arguments already made, I would add that he is thoroughly steeped in the values and rules of the Federation. This action is so far outside those values that he is taken aback. On a Klingon ship under a Klingon commander, he might not have hesitated, but this is Starfleet and Starfleet doesn't engage in wholesale slaughter.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
14. Lisamarie
I wasn't a big fan of the episode (or specifically, Sisko's actions) either. First of all, I really enjoyed both Les Miserables and Hunchback of Notre Dame (suck it, Dax, Hugo rocks!) and agree with 6 that the analogy does fall a bit short.

I also have rather conflicted feelings about the Maquis (although I ultimately do tend to side with the pragmatic view that while what happened to them was very unfair, they need to move on, and certainly not target others and attempt to draw out a war. Although I do think they should have been better protected from the Cardassian mistreatment) and I also feel that Sisko's actions here are a bit beyond the pale. Was the planet he attacked solely a Maquis miltary base, or were their civilians there too? Or was the idea that everybody there would have been aligned with the Maquis?

At any rate, I found his 'I'll have to be the villain' justification a little shallow, although I can't say I have a better idea of what he should have done to stop an organization that was willing to do such things either.
DougL
15. Jeff R.
The Maquis were and always have been more in the right than anyone else involved, Federation esepcially included. Because the Cardassians were, especially at the time of the Federation-Cardassian wars but really all the way up to pretty much the DS9 finale, space Nazis. And the thing about fighting Nazis, space or otherwise, is that once you start you do not get to stop, full stop. Their unconditional surrender or your last man, woman, and child are the only two morally acceptable terms of peace in that situation, and any other deal makes you fully complicit to all of their crimes past, present, and future. A citizen of a government that accepts such a despicable peace settlement has a postive moral obligation to reject it and join or found a resistance movement or literally die trying.
DougL
16. ad
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.
Not sure about that. In “The Darkness and the Light” we are told that she helped kill Gul Pirak, after he had killed a bunch of Bajoran farmers. His family were blown up too, but they look to have been collateral damage. Sisko isn't doing that. He is explicitly attacking civilians in order to force his enemy into a response. A bit like the WW1 German Navy, which bombarded coastal towns in the UK in the hopes of forcing the British Navy to defend them.

Although Eddington was a lot more easily manipulated than Admiral Jellicoe...
DougL
17. MikeOfThePalace
I don't want to overly politicize things here, I can't help but wonder if the writers had the Palestinian refugee camps in mind with regards to the colonists in the caves.
DougL
18. PatrickM
I take it from the author's comment that "absolutely no good reason whatsoever" reflects a nativity on his part. One's homeland is a sacred concept, not to be bartered away at the whims of outsiders - be they in real life or the oh so perfect Federation. The later's morality seems to have gone the same way of expediencity when it becomes a road-block to military circumstances. So for that thought-providing iconclastic sentiment, I'd rate this episode among the best.
Beccy Higman
19. Jazzlet
@ 5. Crusaader75 - I don't find the idea of two chemical weapons each lethal to one species and not to the other to be at all unlikely as you would expect different species to be susceptible to different things. Looking at species here on earth humans generally love chocolate and eat it with no problem except the risk of obesity if eaten to excess while dogs can be killed by eating relatively small quantities of good quality chocolate. One of the nice touches in Babylon 5 was the lethality of alcohol to Minbari, whereas in the Trekverse the most frequent problem with other species food seems to be disgust, which seems to me to be the least of the likely problems.
DougL
20. Eduardo Jencarelli
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

Did you forget Star Trek: First Contact, which opened a month before this episode? Worf openly challenged Picard's decision to stay aboard and fight the Borg, preferring instead to evacuate and set the auto-destruct sequence.

Worf may be honorable, but he's by no means above questioning a senior officer.

And for a massive manhunt that’s supposedly gone on for eight months, it’s been completely in the background.

Now, that I agree. DS9 was trying to break the mold, but Star Trek was still in essence episodic at that point. Inserting story threads from different episodes into a stand-alone hour was a challenge, and none of the DS9 writers had any prior experience writing for serialized shows. This was their first time trying to break past the episodic format.

And I still don't agree with your Maquis stance at all. As PatrickM put it, there are people who view the concept of homeland as a sacred right, even if Eddington pushed the fight too far and past moral barriers.
DougL
21. James2
This is my favorite installment of the Eddington Trilogy.

If only VOY had tried doing stuff like this, imagine how much better if could have been.
DougL
22. McKay B
@19: Exactly. With the amount of advancement that biochemistry has made in Star Trek, it would be very strange if they COULDN'T locate, among the hundreds of known chemical weapons, one that affects Cardassians but not humans, and vice versa.

That segues into my other big problem with this episode: the problems with the Defiant are ridiculous, and imply an absolutely INSANE level of cross-wiring between the ship's systems. Considering how good OUR technology is at communicating between different rooms of a ship, it should have taken O'Brien five minutes to put up a substitute comm, even if the main comm was indeed taken down by a computer virus. I mean, I appreciate the reminder that the Ferengi have unique talents, and the lampshading of how dependent Star Trek people are on technology that usually gets taken for granted. (Similar to the reminder about universal translators in Little Green Men.) But this time it just wasn't believable to me.

I was actually totally ok with Worf's reaction to Sisko's orders. If he had fired without showing any hesitation at all, it would have bothered me a lot -- that's not an order that any Starfleet officer should obey without a raised eyebrow. Most other Trek main characters, I would have expected to challenge their captain verbally before (maybe) being convinced to fire. But Worf fires with only a quizzical look and a moment of hesitation BECAUSE he's a Klingon, with a warrior mindset and a strong belief in chain of command.

I think Sisko's actions here were justifiable, but probably should have been followed up with a little more self-reflection afterwards. More like In The Pale Moonlight, a bit. "Hmmm, how much was my anger a ploy to take advantage of Eddington's psychoses, and how much was I really holding too much of a grudge?"

But those who are saying that it was completely unjustifiable ... IMO, you have bought way too much into Eddington's propoganda about the Maquis not really being violent, or at fault in any way, or having any other choice. Which is a load of bull -- while the Maquis' situation from the start was unfortunate, they quickly resorted to tactics that disqualified them from their normal rights. That ship sunk long ago. I mean, certainly if Sisko had actually wiped out the planet, that would have been going too far (even though he arguably saved many other lives that way). But he "merely" gave them a very harsh deadline for their evacuation.
Christopher Bennett
23. ChristopherLBennett
I have to disagree about this episode adding depth to Eddington. I felt it made him something of a caricature. The whole Valjean fixation out of nowhere was very contrived.

The holocommunicator was awkwardly executed, but I liked the fact that it allowed Brooks and Marshall to play off each other directly rather than just reciting lines to a blank screen. I've long thought it was a failing of The Wrath of Khan that Shatner and Montalban never played a scene together, just filmed separate parts that were cut together after the fact. There can be more chemistry and energy when the actors get to interact in person. And I think the holocommunicator was debuted in this episode precisely because it allowed that. It's one of the episode's strengths, even though I wasn't crazy about the story and characterizations as a whole.

@13: Sisko didn't create "conditions that will kill everyone on a planet." As #22 said, he created conditions that would force them to evacuate the planet. As far as we know, nobody died as a result of it. So yeah, not the most ethical act, but hardly mass murder.
William Frank
24. scifantasy
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.

I always wondered how that scene was done...never remembered to ask when I could though.
DougL
25. Lsana
I think in many ways, I've been following the re-watch mostly to see what everyone had to say about this episode. It's one that's stuck with me, and one I definitely had strong opinions on.

For me, I think that the main question is are we supposed to take this Les Miserables comparison as merely Eddington's view of the situation or as some sort of fundamental truth? I absolutely believe that it's how Eddington sees himself--as the righteous hero, unjustly persecuted for a minor crime because of the obsession of a policeman (we'll ignore for a moment how that misreads Les Mis). It re-enforces my belief that Eddington just wanted to be the hero of the story, never mind which story, and sacrifice himself for The Cause--any cause.

If it's supposed to be insightful, however, then the writers are full of it. First of all, Eddington's no Valjean: he's assulted Starfleet and Bajoran personnel, hijacked official shipments, and betrayed one of his commrads. Hardly the theft of a loaf of bread. And that pales next to the bigger problem that Sisko is no Javert. Since we last saw Eddington, Sisko has been concerned with the hostility of the Klingons, the coming war with the Dominion, Changling infiltration in the top Alpha Quadrent governments, his own role as the Emissary, Jake growing up, personal crises among his crew, etc. Eddington didn't even make the top ten. His name might have been mentioned once. When Eddington accused Sisko of "making it personal," I expected Sisko to laugh in his face. Instead, the episode seemed to be seriously considering that Eddington might be right. No. You can't have someone completely ignore something then decide that he's obsessed.
DougL
26. Crusader75
@19 - What bugged me about it was the implication that both chemicals were so lethal to the respective species that they warranted immediate evacuation but harmless to whatever biospheres that were on those planets. Plus I think they retconned what trilitrhium resin's toxicity was.
Christopher Bennett
27. ChristopherLBennett
@25: You've pinpointed one of the problems with the episode, which is that it tries to paint Sisko's hunt for Eddington as something he's been fixated on for months, even though we've never had a hint of that before now and even though Sisko has had plenty of higher priorities in the meanwhile. It's an awkward characterization retcon for the sake of the story, and it doesn't really work.
Keith DeCandido
28. krad
Christopher: I never said it added depth to Eddington, I just said that Maquis Eddington was more interesting than Starfleet Eddington. And I stand by that. Starfleet Eddington was kinda bland....

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
DougL
29. Eduardo Jencarelli
Sometimes, it's really the actor and his performance that counts (that's why it took 6 seasons for Ira to find the right person to play Admiral Ross). Even before he ended up a Maquis, Eddington was more watchable than the average Starfleet redshirt, and certainly more interesting than the first security guy who had to keep an eye on Odo.

And there were moments he could stand out, such as sabotating the Defiant's cloak back in season 3, out of respect for Starfleet orders.
Charles Olney
30. CharlesO
I understand the ideas they're trying to communicate with the Maquis, but I really really think the actual Maquis they put on the screen just don't work. At all.

Yes, one's homeland is important and there are real ties. But surely there is something different going on in the ST universe. I mean, they have no currency. All basic needs are effectively guaranteed. Resources are not really finite. Which means: it's not like losing your homeland means becoming refugees, stateless, excluded. The Federation would happily resettle them on an equally nice planet.

In those circumstances, it's just so much harder for me to take their righteous anger seriously. They chose to remain in Cardassian territory. They didn't have to. In fact, at bascially any point if they had just said 'please get us out of here' they would probably have been given amnesty and taken away.


I'm not saying there's no possible story where they represent the just side of things. And I'm not saying that they 'deserve' what they get. I'm just saying: for the story to work it needs to acknowledge these conditions. If it doesn't, and still asks me to treat their anger as legitimate, it's not going to get me on board.

The Eddington character, in particular, drives me up the wall. He exists to rattle Sisko, to irritate him, to exposition up the yin-yang stuff that they haven't actually depicted.

If I force myself to forget about this stuff, I can certainly appreciate the artistry that goes into these episodes. But the basic missing stuff in the whole arc just makes it really difficult for me to empathize with them.
DougL
31. Eduardo Jencarelli
Resources are not really finite.

@30

Infinite resources? I don't think it works that way. Infinite would only apply if the Federation had no borders and freedom to occupy any remote rock.

Earth is the only habitable planet in our Solar System. I don't know how big the Demilitarized Zone is supposed to be, but I assume the ratio of habitable worlds ought be similar, and they have to share half that number of worlds with the Cardassians.

Given what the Cardassians did to Bajor in only 60 years, you can bet there are shortages in these worlds.
Shelly wb
32. shellywb
idk, if the US gave my state away to China without the residents' permission and said move or accept it, a lot of us would be pretty pissed and opt for a third option of resistance and revolution. The US has no right, not without our agreement. It seems to me the Federation would be set up the same way, that they could evict a planet, but could not cede it to another empire. Planets in the series have been shown to have too much autonomy- the Federation does not own them, they are members that can leave at any time.
Jordan DeLange
33. killtacular
@30

Actually, the relative non-scarcity-based Federation economy makes it *more* likely, not less, that the Maqui would be really, really attached to their homeland, it seems. If your material comforts are basically assured no matter what, then what does become scarce and truly valuable? Well, your homeland and your community, for one. They are, after all, unique-for-you.

Not saying that makes it totally reasonable, but then, we don't know (do we?) what proportion of the original federation citizens refuse to relocate and evolve into the maqui. Seems likely that *some* fraction of the populace would be really, really committed to holding on to their homes.
Mike R
34. Redlander
I guess it depends on the person, their living situation and their attachment to the land, but if I was living in the world of Star Trek I would move once a year! There's something like a hundred and fifty member worlds in the cushy Federation alone. Lots of different cultures and climates to explore.

With that viewpoint, to me it doesn't make much sense for Federation citizens wanting to live so close to the Cardassians. You know, the war criminal, slave master Cardassians... What, they didn't have any apartments available near Romulan space...?
Pirmin Schanne
35. Torvald Nom
@32: To go with your image, what if the only way to keep that state was to continue a war with China that had been going on for a few years, and that the rest of the population was sick and tired of?

PS: That's why I dislike warfare comparisons involving the USA - it's been too long that they needed to fight on their own ground, against opponents of equal strength, to get into the appropriate mindset.
Jordan DeLange
36. killtacular
@34: Yeah, I meant to say "more likely for some people". If one of the few scarce things around is your home and community, that might lead to it being even more valuable to you, on top of all the other reasons. But the abundance of everything else might well make it that much less valuable to you as well.

Which is kinda why I brought up the question of what proportion of the people went maqui, and what proportion just went somewhere else (or just decided to live under the cardassians).
Christopher Bennett
37. ChristopherLBennett
@31: First off, we now know that our planetary system isn't the typical one we used to assume. It may be that lots of star systems have multiple habitable worlds. Second, resources are pretty much unlimited to any civilization with replicators and access to asteroids for raw materials and stars for energy. And terraforming seems relatively easy for the Federation, even granting that they seem to have little interest in building space habitats.
DougL
38. Random22
@32 Actually the government does have the right to seize and dispose of private land as it sees fit. Its called eminent domain (although I prefer Terry Pratchett's interpretation of "Naked Theft by Government" as a more honest title).

Now whether or not the government has the capability to do it is another question, but the Federation apparently has both the right and the ability to do so. The only constraint is that there has to be compensation to the individuals equitable to what the land seized is worth. In the Federation, without real currency, that is met by giving them a new colony (presumably on the other side of the Federation, because even for the Federation, it would be silly to leave them too close to temptation) and new housing, which they appear to have done. I bet if the Maquis said "screw this living in caves for a lark" the Federation would be more than happy to fly them over to that new planet completely free gratis and for nothing.

The Maquis's problem is that the Federation does not, essentially want them-or at least does not want the planets, and they are trying very hard to get the Federation to start a war with the Cardassians in order that the Federation can re-conquer them (for want of a better term) and re-absorb the Maquis planets by right of conquest. Their other option is to declare unilateral independence from Cardassia and set up an independent state, but they don't want that option. Presumably because they'd lose to the Cardassian military, and also because they don't want to be an independent nation. They are actively trying to draw the Federation into a conflict with Cardassia again. For the benefit of a few hundred (at best a few thousand) Maquis members, all of whom are free to leave and go to another colony or even full member world, they want the Federation and Cardassians to put millions of lives at risk.
DougL
39. ad
@32. At least so far as international law is concerned, the US government has every right to cede territory. Just as Britain ceded Oregon to the US and Hong Kong to China. Just as Germany ceded its eastern provinces to Poland after WW2.
DougL
40. Random22
@39 I think the trouble a lot of people have is that, historically at least, America has only been the benificiary of nations ceding ground (in fact The United States would not exist without other nations giving up territory, do you think the Russian citizens who were present in Alaska were totally happy in 1867 were totally happy suddenly being in American territory, for example?) and just do not understand that for the majority of history purchasing and ceding territory was just part and parcel of the normal business of statehood. It takes no stretch of the imagination to extend that into outer-space where thefringes of great nations are more dispersed. The maquis were on colony worlds as well, so it wasn't like the Federation was giving up member planets either. It wasn't giving up homeworlds, no one had built up a culture or civilization on the Maquis worlds, they had just moved onto previously unoccupied (and apprently contested) ground.

The scenario is more like China had let some of its citizens move onto some unoccupied islands in the Hawaiian archipelago (or one of the other uninhabited bits of the pacific America maintains a claim to). Wouldn't the US be understandably wanting them to go and stop trying to claim the islands were Chinese? Then when China agreed to give up a claim and remove its citizens, the Chinese islanders said they'd stay, but agree to adopt US customs and laws, then they turned around and started saying they wanted to do things the Chinese way and attempting to provoke a conflict to get China to re-invade and seize the islands back.

There is your Maquis, terrorists trying to start a war and get China to invade and sieze American land.
alastair chadwin
41. a-j
Sisko's argument that the suffering of the refugees is due to the activities of the Maquis would appear to the same as Occupation-era Odo's argument in favour of executing Bajorans in the episode 'Things Past'. Just sayin' is all.
Christopher Bennett
42. ChristopherLBennett
@41: I think you're confusing the people who have legitimate grievances with the terrorists who use those grievances as an excuse for their violence. Terrorists often start out fighting for legitimate reasons, but often they end up making things worse for the people they claim to be defending, because they just perpetuate the conflict and suffering. That doesn't mean the state their fighting against is blameless -- it just means it's wrong to assume that every conflict has a clear-cut good guy and bad guy.
Charles Olney
43. CharlesO
Like I said, I would be very happy with an arc that actually explored some of the complexities of the Maquis situation, which treated their plight in context, which went through some of the ways that a homeland might feel different in a different circumstance, which admitted that (as @38 says), their real strategy is to force the Federation to resume fighting with the Cardassians, which treated them as a diffuse group motivated by different interests, etc.

But they don't do any of that. There's no complexity or shades of grey. We're just supposed to accept that they are sympathetic figures, who Sisko has a hard time understanding because he's so obsessed with the rules. As if the major objection to what they're doing is formal rather than substantive.

It's a major lost opportunity, and really makes me want to skip the episodes about them.
Christopher Bennett
44. ChristopherLBennett
@43: "We're just supposed to accept that they are sympathetic figures, who Sisko has a hard time understanding because he's so obsessed with the rules."

We are? That may be what Eddington believed, but I don't think the episode intended us to identify with him.
Charles Olney
45. CharlesO
"We are? That may be what Eddington believed, but I don't think the episode intended us to identify with him."

I'll admit that I skipped this one in my rewatch so it's been quite a few years since I've seen it. And maybe it's less pushy on the 'sympathize with the Maquis' narrative. But that's certainly the general trend of these episodes.

I don't mean that we're supposed to identify with them precisely. But we're supposed to think that they are legitimately aggrieved people doing the best that they can. Sympathy doesn't mean necessarily affirming their actions, but the long Maquis arc is very much about trying to get us to take their concerns seriously. We're supposed to feel bad for them and not simply say (with Sisko): "you brought it on yourself you stupid people." But they don't really invest in demonstrating that they deserve such sympathy; they just treat it as obvious.
DougL
46. FelixScout
@40 You're pretty much right especially in regards to the reality that the US possesses quite a bit of territory that was ceded to us by Russia, France, Mexico, England, Spain, and a host of Native peoples and their governmental entities. In some cases it was coercive in other ceases it was diplomatic exchanges and in other cases it was outright purchases. However we do forget that the US has ceeded territory as well: Be it the Philippines which was a colony/occupied terriotry that was then given independence, the 1818 territory transfers with Britain that stablized the Canadian border, and Wrangle Island which has been ceeded by the US to Russia in the early 1990's.

The last is seen by some as a "betrayal" since this was given up with no effort to hold them and has not been formally and specifically adressed by treaty.

So not only do we forget we have ceeded territory we also seem to take some offence even when uninhabited portions are given away.
DougL
47. James2
I think a key part of the problem with the Maquis is that they weren't really a DS9 creation like the Dominion.

They got foisted on the production team by virute of having to crossover with TNG in order to set up VOY.

So, the Maquis didn't really get the complex development and thought that went into creation the pyramidal makeup of the Dominion. The concept is fascinating, but it was never well executed.

The prime weakness, again, is that the Maquis' own cause is underminded by the fact that they chose to stay in hostile space. They chose to knowingly stay in a region ruled by a xenophobic, imperialistic alien power.

They made the choice, not the UFP. Yes, SFC screwed up by ceding worlds to the Cardassians. Yes, they let the Central Command get away with violating the Treaty countless times.

But the Maquis chose to stay and lash out at both parties -- even with SF had the evidence to prove the weapons smuggling. And their actions only ended up helping to push Cardassia into the direction they'll go in 2 episodes.
Christopher Bennett
48. ChristopherLBennett
@45: I really don't get where your interpretation of Sisko comes from. If he feels hostility toward the Maquis, it's not because he's some hidebound, rule-obsessed paper pusher who can't see their point of view, it's because he feels personally betrayed by Cal Hudson and Eddington.
DougL
49. James2
@48, You reminded me of this statement from Ron Moore:

...Eddington's statement that the real problem is that the Maquis have left the Federation and that no one leaves the Federation, has more than a kernel of truth in it. There's a sense of betrayal associated with the Maquis in the minds of the people in the Federation, regardless of whether that's an irrational feeling or not. Add to that sense of betrayal the fact that the Maquis have harassed and attacked several Federation targets over the years and you begin to see why the Feds refuse to turn a blind eye to this group."

I agree that the betrayals of Hudson, Eddington, and Kasidy only furthered that sense of betrayal in Sisko -- something which will get pointed out in "Blaze of Glory".
Beccy Higman
50. Jazzlet
"26. Crusader75 @19 - What bugged me about it was the implication that both chemicals were so lethal to the respective species that they warranted immediate evacuation but harmless to whatever biospheres that were on those planets."

Again I don't find this that unlikely. You could relatively easily kill all the dogs on this planet and it would have some effect on the biosphere, but not that much because dogs aren't wild creatures even though they are native to this planet. Neither humans nor cardassians were native to the planets concerned so it's perfectly possible that the native biospheres would be unaffected, yes there might be an effect on any imported species, but there is no reason why the independantly evolved local biospere would be affected by something specific enough to kill either cardassians or humans.
Brendan Guy
51. bguy
@38: Eddington actually says in his next appearance that the Maquis colonies were planning on establishing themselves as an independent nation.

Also, where are you getting that the Maquis wanted to draw the Federation into their fight? From everything we've seen of them so far, they seem content to take on the Cardassians by themselves.
Dante Hopkins
52. DanteHopkins
The comparisons to the US fall flat when you point out that resettling somewhere here on earth is far more problematic with resettling somewhere in vast vast open space, which literally has countless worlds. There was absolutely no good reason for refugees to be living in caves, hoping the Maquis will somehow, some way, win their fight with the Cardassians (and now after their actions in this episode, the Federation) and someday just be able to go home and live happily ever after. Its bs, as Sisko points out. The Maquis were selling these people fairy tales, when they should be resettling and getting on with their lives.

Sisko's actions, though appalling, were justifiable. The Maquis upped the stakes, starting the very moment Eddington opened fire on the Defiant to demonstrate he had the ability to destroy the Defiant if he wanted to. From there, the Maquis poisoned a Cardassian colony, and attacked a second Federation starship, the Malinche. As said earlier, all acts of war. The Maquis went from outlaws to enemy combatants. Sisko had to stop the Maquis, and deal with Eddington, on those terms.
adam miller
53. adamjmil
That still of Brooks playing Sisko playing the villian is awesome.
DougL
54. James2
@53, You betrayed your uniform!
Mike R
55. Redlander
I'd love to see Avery Brooks in another TV series---as the villain!
alastair chadwin
56. a-j
@42
And I think that you are getting dangerously close to the argument that what the good guys do is good because it is the good guys that are doing it.

The real problem, as @47 points out, is that the Maquis were a poorly thought out idea which became redundant once the Founders became established as the real threat to the Federation and its values.
DougL
57. Eduardo Jencarelli
@42
And I think that you are getting dangerously close to the argument that what the good guys do is good because it is the good guys that are doing it.

I don't think he means that. Everyone knows this isn't a clear cut good vs. evil conflict.

An issue everyone seems to be overlooking is how exactly hunting down the Maquis benefits the Federation. The colonists support, so the only reason the Feds have for hunting them is to appease the Cardassians.

We know the Federation is far from blameless in this whole situation. Not only they're making decisions from cozy Earth, a paradise, but there are corrupt Starfleet Admirals out there who are more than happy to hang out colonists and refugees to dry if it'll buy them political points by preserving Cardassian relations. Remember Ensign Ro's Admiral.
Christopher Bennett
58. ChristopherLBennett
@56: "And I think that you are getting dangerously close to the argument that what the good guys do is good because it is the good guys that are doing it."

That is not even in the same ballpark as my argument and I have no idea how you could possibly have interpreted my statement in such a non sequitur way. If anything, you seemed to be the one trying to say that the Maquis were justified and Sisko was as wrong to condemn them as Odo was to condemn the Bajorans in "Things Past." I was saying that the Maquis are merely one faction of the persecuted colonists, that it's careless to reduce that entire population to a single monolithic group, and that the Maquis's actions are not justified simply because the people they purport to fight for have legitimate grievances. The Maquis may call themselves the "good guys," but that doesn't mean they are.

On second thought, perhaps you assumed I was trying to defend Sisko's actions as "good," but that would be incorrect. Reality is not as black-and-white and morally binary as we Westerners find it comfortable to pretend. Criticizing the morality of one side is therefore NOT the same as endorsing the actions of the other side. On the contrary, the world is full of conflicts where both sides are in the wrong, because wrongs tend to beget wrongs in response. So I wasn't talking about Sisko's actions at all. I was simply disputing the premise that the Maquis were the "good guys" and it was therefore unjust persecution to try to stop them.
DougL
59. The Usual Suspect
On the subject of "Why don't the colonists just leave because the Federation will happily resettle them someplace else?":

One thing that got largely overlooked on DS9 was the original episode in TNG that set up the Maquis arc. There we are presented with a colony of Native Americans who, if I remember right, had been hunting for a couple of generations for a world that would match some set of cultural or spiritual requirements. They felt they were being asked to leave a place they had searched for and which could not be simply replaced by any random colonizable planet. True, we did see what appeared to be a representative of this group in the first DS9 Maquis episode, but no mention was made of their reasons for wanting to remain. Likewise, we did not get any real reasons why any of the other groups shown to be part of the Maquis wanted to stay on these particular world as opposed to moving elsewhere in the Federation.

As a sidenote, the Native American group represents one of the few attempts in Star Trek to present a group within the Federation which is genuinely different from mainstream 20th century American culture. While mention is often made of the diversity of the groups within the Federation, with the possible exception of the Vulcans, we see little on the screen that makes them appear much different from the contemporary audience of the show.
DougL
60. Random22
The problem with the Native American thing was, that while it synched up pretty well with Picard's very specific family guilt, anyone else would look on it as being 100% Equine Fertilizer Product. That arguement might play with a group on Earth re-claiming their ascestral lands, but out in space they are just a different flavor of colonials seeking a new place to plant their distant culture on. There was no way they could claim any real spiritual connection with the planet they'd chosen, they didn't even have a goofy group of aliens masquerading as gods to endorse them.

Voyager retroactively made this worse (because of course it did, Voyager made everything it touched worse), as Chakotay was such a generic native American that the supposed culture turned out to be a hodge-podge cherry picked from every Native American tribe from Alska all the way down to Tierra Del Fuego that there was no real continuity with pre-existing tribes and made them look more like those new age hippies who blend Norse myths with Oceanic oral history and call it modern mysticism.
Peter Erwin
61. PeterErwin
This gets my vote for pretty much the most appalling DS9 episode ever.

There are elements which, by themselves, would merely make the episode awkward and ham-fisted: the hokey "holocommunicator" (clearly nothing other than an attempt to make inter-ship communications scenes more "dramatic", without any in-world justification); the dubious shipwide communications failure and the ridiculous "solution" (it's painfully obvious someone had been watching too many submarine movies and though the whole call-and-response form of ordering would be really cool, dude, regardless of how little sense it made.(*)); etc.

But the whole "Sisko becomes a war criminal, and no one on the command staff is able to stand up to him about it, and then they just joke about it at the end" takes things down into a whole new level of moral idiocy. Sisko commits serious crimes against civilians, and it's treated as something forgettable -- even laughable.

(I'm baffled -- and slightly disturbed -- by the whole "the Maquis did it, so it's justified for Sisko to do it, too" argument that some people have been making, including the OP. It's "justifiable" if you subscribe to an Old-Testament, "eye for and eye, tooth for a tooth" code of morals, but both we and the Federation are supposed to be more than a little above that.)

(*) Really, if all you have are two working communicators, give one to Engineering and the other one to the captain. You could, you know, attach it to his shirt or something...
Peter Erwin
62. PeterErwin
What's tantalizing about this episode is that (if you ignore the goofy communications stuff, etc.) it almost has the makings of a morally complex and interesting story about the downfall of Benjamin Sisko: how an admired and effective officer could, though the combination of frustration, rage, and embarrassment at betrayal (and the taunts of his enemy), lose his ethical and moral compass and become a war criminal. Kind of a missed opportunity, though the realities of 1990s TV shows -- and Star Trek in particular -- meant that they could never have gone that way, even if the writers and producers had actually thought along those lines. Not the least because most of the command staff is guilty as well.(*)

(*) To quote one J.-L. Picard, "... the claim 'I was only following orders' has been used to justify too many tragedies in our history. Starfleet doesn't want officers who will blindly follow orders without analyzing the situation." (From "Redemption II")
Christopher Bennett
63. ChristopherLBennett
@61: Umm, how is there no in-world justification for the holocommunicator when they've had holodecks since the very first episode of TNG? If anything, there's no justification for not using holocommunicators.

And using Nog as the relay to engineering was so that he could convey the requests and instructions of everyone on the bridge, not just the captain.

As for Sisko's actions, were they really against civilians? The population he forced to evacuate was explicitly defined as a "Maquis colony." Not a colony of people from the DMZ in general, but a colony of Maquis members in particular, which is not the same thing. And the Maquis committed acts of war against the Federation by firing on the Defiant and disabling the Malinche. Thus, it would seem that Sisko's action was taken against an enemy base, not a civilian community.

Just for the sake of discussion, I'm curious: Using chemical weapons to kill people is a war crime, but is it a war crime to use chemical weapons merely to force a group to evacuate a place without loss of life? Isn't that more like, say, the police using tear gas to force criminals out of a building? (Okay, tear gas isn't fatal per se, but I doubt it's healthy to stay in place and continue to breathe it indefinitely.)
Charles Olney
64. CharlesO
Yeah, for all my other complaints about the episode and Maquis plotline in general, I really like the conclusion. It's an appropriately awful act from Sisko to really get us thinking about his state of mind, what he's willing to do, whether it's really justified, etc. without being a clear and unambiguous Wrong.
DougL
65. The Usual Suspect
@ 60 Well, I didn't say that it was a particularly good attempt -- just that it was an attempt at presenting a non-western culture. I don't think we should easily dismiss their reasons for not accepting just any colony world as nonsensical, however. At this point in history, we really have no idea how religions will reinterpret doctrines, beliefs and practices if we discover inhabitable planets elsewhere and what sort of implications those reinterpretations will have for religious persons who might seek to colonize other planets.
DougL
66. Eduardo Jencarelli
Both this and In the Pale Moonlight were written by Peter Allan Fields. It seems to me that this was his intention: to show how far he's willing to compromise in order to achieve his goals. Moonlight achieves it better than this one.
Peter Erwin
67. PeterErwin
@63:
As for Sisko's actions, were they really against civilians? The population he forced to evacuate was explicitly defined as a "Maquis colony."

It's called a colony, not a military base, so it's clearly a civilian settlement. (The point is that Sisko is replicating what Eddington & Co. have done against Cardassian civilian settlements.) The fact that the members of this colony supposedly support the Maquis (every single one of them? including the children?) does not turn them into legitimate military targets, let alone targets for chemical warfare. Even by the standards of 20th Century warfare, it's a war crime; we're supposed to believe -- and much of the original series and TNG have supported this -- that the Federation is somewhat more morally advanced than that.

(There's an intrinsic cheat in the storytelling in that the Maquis conveniently have enough ships nearby to evacuate the entire colony before anyone dies -- assuming that no one is injured or dies because of the hasty evacuation, and that there aren't any malfunctions or accidents, and that the Maquis ships' life support can handle all the extra passengers -- all things which Sisko and Co. clearly aren't very concerned about.)

Isn't that more like, say, the police using tear gas to force criminals out of a building?

No, it would be like the police trying to get a criminal to surrender by threatening to kill members of his or her family or community, perhaps by setting fire to their homes and not doing anything to rescue them. (Remember, Sisko hasn't been ordered by anyone to evacuate this or any other Maquis colonies; he's just trying to capture Eddington.)
Peter Erwin
68. PeterErwin
As I recall, this episode originally aired only two or three months after Star Trek: First Contact came out, which made for an odd contrast: both stories have someone comparing a Starfleet captain to an obsessed, possibly villainous character from a 19th Century novel -- but the reactions of the captains in the two stories are rather different.

In First Contact, Alfre Woodard's character accuses Picard of losing his perspective and behaving like Captain Ahab; when she starts explaining who that is, Picard angrily replies that of course he's read Moby Dick, and rejects the comparison... but later realizes that she's right, and tells her so. (And changes his behavior to be less Ahab-like.)

In the DS9 episode, Eddington accuses Sisko of losing his perspective and behaving like Javert; Sisko doesn't get the reference because he's never read the novel in question, and never admits the comparison has any merit... except that he then decides, "Hey, I should be more like that villain!"
David Levinson
69. DemetriosX
it's painfully obvious someone had been watching too many submarine movies and though the whole call-and-response form of ordering would be really cool, dude, regardless of how little sense it made.
Voice of Computer: Enemy is matching velocity.
Gwen DeMarco: The enemy is matching velocity.
Sir Alexander Dane: We heard it the first time.
Gwen DeMarco: Gosh, I'm doing it. I'm repeating the darn computer.

@63
I don't think you can compare trilithium resin to tear gas. The stuff is described as "highly toxic", not merely an irritant. If there any problems with the evacuation -- insufficient transportation or problems/delays in evacuation due to poor communications, panic, breakdowns, etc. -- people are going to die. There's just no way around that and Sisko undoubtedly should have been courtmartialed for his actions here.
DougL
70. Lemaitre
"Mr. Worf, erase the planet!""Yes, mein Führer ... I meant Captain Sisko."
I love DS9 as much as the next man, but for tcreating his episode all participants should serve a few days in jail and be forced to refklect what exactly they were trying to say here. I'm totally apalled to see Sisko giving such an order and even more so that the whole bridge crew executes this order. I'm currently doing a major study of Third Reich films and this episode would comfortably fit among the most problematic films with its "the goal justifies the means" and "follow blindly the orders of your superior" morale.
I assume that originally the intention was to create a gritty conflict and deepen Sisko's character plus playing the beloved literary allusion game. And I suppose the writers were so pleased that they could (very vaguely) connect Hugo's novel with the script's ending so that it all looks very profound that they didn't realize what this episode is about.
I admit Chris Bennett points out the Sci-Fi twists of this special weapon, but the episode clearly wants us to feel that what Sisko is doing is very extreme and far beyond a Starfleet officer's usual procedure. This clearly prefigures some dubious measures taken by the US government after 9/11 and their justification in TV programs like 24.
It was correctly pointed out that the whole grittiness is often a pretty dubious twist to give ordinary action trash some extra prestige it wouldn't have otherwise though most often the creators are very badly equipped to really deal with the problems they create. Similarily Star Trek should carefully consider to which degree it can be a dark, gritty series. I appreciate added complexities and DS9 was often quite successful this way, but war and terrorism are pretty big and serious topics and there are certain constraints in weekly TV which undermine the possibilities for successfully dealing with these topics. So unless you're willing to kill of a few regulars doing big war stories is a rather debatable choice.
Together with some Prime Directive episodes which go as horribly wrong as possible "For the Uniform" is a nadir in Star Trek history.
Peter Erwin
71. PeterErwin
@69:
Oh, that's perfect. I should have remembered the Galaxy Quest bit.

(There is, of course, a classic example of how to do submarine-movies-in-space right: the Original Series episode "Balance of Terror".)
Christopher Bennett
72. ChristopherLBennett
@67: "It's called a colony, not a military base, so it's clearly a civilian settlement."

Except the Maquis are not civilians. The term "Maquis colony" is itself an oxymoron, which is part of the problem. The term "Maquis" does not refer to non-combatants -- it is the title adopted by the organization that assembled to fight the Cardassians, and eventually to fight Starfleet as well. The Maquis are a militant faction, akin to something like the Irish Republican Army, for example.

So unfortunately the episode itself confuses the issue by using that contradictory phrase, by blurring the essential distinction between the Maquis combatants themselves and the civilian settlers/refugees on whose behalf they claim to be fighting. So it's ambiguous. But on looking over the exact dialogue, problematical though it is, I think the intent was to convey that the Solossos III "colony" was populated only by Maquis, or at most by Maquis and their sympathizers/camp followers. I don't believe the writers intended to paint Sisko as a war criminal attacking civilians, because the era of portraying TV protagonists as capable of such extreme actions, the era of Dexter and Walter White, was still in the future. The producers were willing to show Sisko bending his morality, but I don't accept that they intended to take him so dark that he bombed a civilian colony. I think that their intent was that it was a military target, but that they conveyed that poorly through their sloppy use of the word "colony."

After all, we're still a year or so away from "In the Pale Moonlight," and there Sisko's torn up about being complicit in Garak's murder of a single individual. Which wouldn't make sense if he'd already been directly responsible for killing a bunch of civilians here. Therefore I have to reject the interpretation that he did so. The writers' intent was that this act, though morally questionable, was less so than the actions he took in ItPM. And thus the only conclusion I can see is that his actions here killed no sentient beings.

After all, a planet is a very big place. Sisko could've detonated the torpedo on the other side of the planet, far enough that it would take hours or days for the winds to spread the toxins as far as the colony. The colonists began evacuating immediately, yes, but that could've been out of fear, or out of recognizing how long it would take to complete the process. It's not "setting fire to their homes" -- more like starting a forest fire a few hundred miles upwind from their homes, with full knowledge that they had the means to evacuate in time. Let's not fall into the common sci-fi mistake of treating an entire planet as a single tiny neighborhood.

@69: Realistically, perhaps, people could die in such a situation. But this isn't reality. What happens in fiction is what the writers want to happen. If they'd wanted Sisko's actions to cause death, they would've said so. But they didn't. What they wanted, since this was a 1990s commercial TV series and they could only compromise the protagonist so far, was to show him doing something shocking and extreme but not going so far as to cost sentient lives. He wiped out a bunch of plants and animals, which is certainly an awful thing to do, but no people died if the writers didn't want them to die.
Phil Parsons
73. Yakko
@68 "... Eddington accuses Sisko of losing his perspective and behaving like Javert; Sisko doesn't get the reference because he's never read the novel in question, and never admits the comparison has any merit... except that he then decides, "Hey, I should be more like that villain!"

Umm... no.... not even close. Eddington asks if he's read Les Miserables and Sisko says that he has. Eddington suggest that if he hasn't read it recently then he should and pay close attention to the character of Javert. Which is exactly what Sisko does. He doesn't just reject the analogy out of hand - he tries to understand why Eddington believes it. His ensuing discussion with Dax leads him to the conclusion that Eddington sees himself as a heroic figure and needs a villain to fight. You make it sound like Sisko's decision was abrupt and capricious when it fact he only comes to it after research, consideration and discussion with his oldest confidante.
DougL
74. Lemaitre
@72 But if Sisko didn't do anything villaineous how could he convince Eddington that he is a raving lunatic villain?
Either Sisko's order wasn't that bad then there's no reason for Kira/Worf to look concerned and for Eddington to be horrified or Sisko's actions were so evil they convinced Eddington that Sisko is hunting him with all available means.
Maybe the writers recognized this fundamental problem and tried to squeeze in an action which is somehow in between, but this doesn't work at all

@71 Balance of Terror has lots of similar problems. Showing us for the first time a fire control rooom as if the phasers were torpedos which had to be loaded manually as in a sub. Having the characters whisper as if we were under water in a submarine. Having a plasma weapon which dissipates and which you could easily avoid by turning left or right instead of backwards.
Interestingly - being based on Enemy Below - Balance of Terror also reproduces the cliche of "honourable warrior for dishonorable cause". The 50s movie was a kind of "welcome back to the fold" for German viewers because a German army was needed now against the Soviets and therefore the film presented a theory prevalent also in Germany at the same time that the military was honourable, just the Nazis were evil. Thus we have a Romulan commander who exterminates undefended outposts but is basically a nice guy. Couldn't help it, you know.
Which is exactly my point about this episode, too. Doing stories on war isn't easy. War isn't just something to make your TV series grittier.
Peter Erwin
75. PeterErwin
Yakko @ 73:

You're right -- I took another look at the episode, and Sisko does indeed say, rather dismissively, "I've read it." (And there's the scene of him re-reading it in Dax's presence.)

But my larger point still stands: the difference between how Picard and Sisko handle the accusation -- that they're behaving like Ahab or Javert -- is this: Picard looks at his own behavior and sees the accuracy in the claim -- he is acting too obsessively and not doing the smart thing -- and resolves to amend his own behavior. Sisko, on the other hand, does not; instead, he treats the idea as an opportunity to advance his hunt against Eddington. (Not: "Huh -- could he be right about my behavior?" But: "Huh -- how can use that idea against him?")
DougL
76. Surok
The thing that always made me so uncomfortable with this episode is that basically:

- Sisko comitted a war crime/ecological crime against a civilian target

- He should have been court martialed and imprisoned

- He wasn't; violating every principle of Starfleet that we know
DougL
77. Garth of Izar
The thing is, it's been made clear that a Starship is an unimaginable tool of distruction, capable of leveling a planet, and should NEVER be abused in any way - pretty much the highest crime of the Federation is the abuse of a Starship - it's implicit in the Prime Directive, and the responsibilites of a Starfleet captain.

Yet Sisko basically uses one to commit a war crime - and as one commenter pointed out above, it's why you could argue that Deep Space Nine is not Star Trek in the traditional sense - it abandons ethics and humanism in this episode.

The start of the awful 'dark and gritty' trend in entertainment that is not actually very 'mature' at all - just pessemistic, uninspirational and cynical, limiting the collective imagination of the human race by saying that fearful behavior is the sum total of human experience.
Peter Erwin
78. PeterErwin
@72:
Except the Maquis are not civilians. The term "Maquis colony" is itself an oxymoron ...

I think it's rather clear that "Maquis" is being used for both the actual fighters and, some of the time, the "hell no, we won't go" civilian population most of them are drawn from. Otherwise, you end up implying that every single person who decided to stay in the DMZ is an active combatant (including the children), regardless of whether they've ever picked up a weapon. And therefore it's OK for Sisko to threaten them with annihilation. Which is, yes, the sort of totalizing rhetoric that's been used in some wars and counterinsurgencies ("Every single is a fanatical enemy dedicated to our destruction! Every child is a future soldier, every woman the mother of future soldiers!" etc.), but it's more the sort of logic one would expect of, say, the Cardassians.

In the opening of the episode, Sisko actually calls the refugees in the cave -- who are refusing Federation resettlement -- "victims" of Eddington and other Maquis leaders' propaganda. At the end of the episode, there's this exchange:
Sisko: ... I'm going to eliminate every Maquis colony in the DMZ.
Eddington: You're talking about turning hundreds of thousands of people into homeless refugees!
Sisko: That's right. When you attacked the Malinche, you proved one thing, that the Maquis have become an intolerable a threat to the security of the Federation, and I'm going to eliminate that threat.
Eddington: But think about those people you saw in the cave, huddled and starving -- they didn't attack the Malinche!
Sisko: You should have thought of that before you attacked a Federation starship.

Sisko is very clearly articulating an ethos of collective punishment: if you attack a Federation starship, we will burn your villages -- all of them, until you give up.


After all, we're still a year or so away from "In the Pale Moonlight," and there Sisko's torn up about being complicit in Garak's murder of a single individual. Which wouldn't make sense if he'd already been directly responsible for killing a bunch of civilians here.

The argument isn't that Sisko actually killed a bunch of civilians -- it's that he callously endangered their lives by attempting to do so, trusting that Eddington & Co would and could successfully rescue them. And then threatened to do the same to other groups of civilians, over and over, until he got what he wanted.

At the bare minimum, it's a kind of gross criminal negligence; more reasonably, it's attempted mass murder, and a form of attempted ethnic cleansing to boot.

I do agree with you that it's inconsistent with "In the Pale Moonlight", and if there was evidence that DS9 was more carefully and coherently plotted from one episode to the next -- the way we tend to expect current TV series to be -- then I'd consider that more seriously. But DS9 was still operating partly in the pre-2000s episodic mode, where most things reset at the end of each episode. (Remember that in one episode of the previous season, Worf impulsively joined a terrorist group and helped them sabotage the weather controls system on Risa -- and this had no repercussions at all!) I think, unfortunately, that it was a failure on the writer's part (and possibly the producers, if they had a hand) in not comprehending how monstrous Sisko's actions actually are.
Christopher Bennett
79. ChristopherLBennett
@74: "But if Sisko didn't do anything villaineous how could he convince Eddington that he is a raving lunatic villain?"

I never said "Sisko didn't do anything villainous." The point is that it's a matter of degree -- that the writers wanted Sisko to compromise himself enough to be startling to the audience and to Eddington, but not enough to cross a line that a '90s TV hero couldn't come back from.

After all, there are degrees of villainy. There have been plenty of fictional villains who have forcibly evicted people from their homes, or destroyed people's homes, without actually killing those people. So Sisko's act can be perceived as "villainous" without actually being murderous. That's the point.

@78: "I think it's rather clear that "Maquis" is being used for both the actual fighters and, some of the time, the "hell no, we won't go" civilian population most of them are drawn from."

If that was the case, then it makes everything unclear, because it's a bad and confusing usage. What I'm saying is that the writers themselves used the terms so sloppily that it isn't always clear what they did intend. What I'm saying is that it makes no sense to assume that the writers of a 1990s commercial TV series intended to portray Sisko as a "war criminal" guilty of targeting civilians. Their intent must have been to portray him taking an action that didn't cross such a line. So if the dialogue they used implied something different to the audience, then they used the dialogue poorly.

"Otherwise, you end up implying that every single person who decided to stay in the DMZ is an active combatant (including the children), regardless of whether they've ever picked up a weapon."

I have no idea where you're getting that from. I'm not implying a thing -- I'm saying outright that it was a mistake for the show to use "Maquis" sloppily enough to suggest that it encompassed the civilians of the DMZ as well. It should be limited in use only to the active combatants, and if the writers had remembered that, then there'd be no danger of viewers drawing the inference you suggest.

"And therefore it's OK for Sisko to threaten them with annihilation."

Now that's an exaggeration. Even Eddington never accused Sisko of threatening "annihilation" -- his exact line, which you yourself quoted, was, "You're talking about turning hundreds of thousands of people into homeless refugees."

Which, as others have said, makes no sense. The galaxy is a huge place and the Federation is a moneyless economy with effectively limitless resources, so it would be easy to find new homes for anyone. The refugees would only be "homeless" by their own choice, if they refused to be resettled by the Federation. So Eddington's charge is something of a straw man itself. Sisko may have forced them to leave their (adopted) homes, but that was nothing they couldn't have recovered from.

Also, you seem to have the mistaken impression that Sisko was sincere in the position he was expressing. The whole point was that he was playacting -- he was pretending to be "the villain" in order to trick Eddington into surrendering. He had absolutely no intention of actually repeating the same attack on those other colonies -- he just had to make Eddington believe he did. He had to do it once in order to sell the deception, but of course he did it in a way that minimized the damage and allowed all the "colonists" time to escape.
DougL
80. Random22
It isn't that Sisko targeted civilians, it is that the Maquis terrorists attempted to use their own families as human shields. Sisko chose a weapon that would minimize collateral damage in fighting the terrorists, but the terrorists shouldn't have hidden behind their own families to start with.
DougL
81. TBGH
@79 Totally agree.
One thing I think hasn't been mentioned is that even granting there are civilians on the planet, (there are certainly civiliants present in and around our military bases), a location providing logistical support to the enemy is a valid target in a time of war.

War is an abhorrent thing and the inevitable collateral damage is tragic, but the Allies didn't spare German factories because civilians and women might be working there. And they were right not to do so. The commanders' moral obligation was first to preserve the lives and victory on their own side. This "Maquis Colony" was certainly supporting the efforts of their war against the Cardassians and attacks on the Federation. Eliminating that ability to support the war effort while actually limiting civilian casualties is certainly an acceptable tactic in the rules of war (such as they are).

Whether the Federation is actually at war with the Maquis and what Sisko's level of authority as the on-site commder is, is never really dealt with. And exceeding his authority is really the only charge that could be brought against him.
DougL
82. DougL
@4. lvsxy808

Wow, you just said the same thing in different order. Oh ya, if someone does one evil thing, to me they are evil. I mean, I have managed to avoid it, it can't be that hard. Also, being a good parent isn't "good" in the moralistic sense, it's your duty as parent, you don't deserve an award for it.
Beccy Higman
83. Jazzlet
82. DougL

That's it? No possiblity to learn from ones mistakes? And how do you define 'evil' in this context where the cost of failing to convince Eddington would have been the actual loss of lives rather than the risk of loss of lives?
DougL
84. Garth of Izar
The Marquis renounced Federation citizenship. They renounced Starfleet protection. They were a collection of self-governing civilians and militia, at least. A colony full of refugees were fired upon by a Starfleet captain using a chemical weapon. A planet was rendered uninhabitable for years. Did they constitute a separate civilization? A separate state? A nation? A new culture? Is Starfleet the sole representative of a certain set of races?
Christopher Bennett
85. ChristopherLBennett
@84: You left out one critical thing: The Maquis attacked Starfleet first, and repeatedly. They had just disabled an Excelsior-class starship. They weren't a neutral population, they were actively hostile to Starfleet -- as well as to Cardassia, which was a Federation ally at this point.
Dante Hopkins
86. DanteHopkins
The Maquis declared war on the Federation when they attacked the Defiant and then the Malinche. They were enemy combatants, and in war there are steps that can be justified. As CLB pointed out, Sisko didn't attack the surface of the Maquis planet and kill anyone, he poisoned the atmosphere, and allowed time for evacuation. You can argue that maybe some people couldn't evactuate, but the episode didn't say that there were casualties, so there were none. Its fiction, and the writers could have written that, but they didn't, so it didn't happen.
Keith DeCandido
87. krad
I just want to say that I really am enjoying the conversation here, and I'd like to thank everyone for participating (and also in keeping it civil, which is not always the case in Internet conversation....). I do have a response to some of it, but I'm still formulating it, and may do it as a separate blog post rather than a comment here. We'll see....

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
DougL
88. Lemaitre
I think we all agree that the Maquis is an actively hostile enemy of the Federation. And we know for sure that Sisko made the planet inhabitable.

We are not sure if
a) the Maquis colony consists only of combattants or also of civilians and
b) if Sisko's actions resulted in any deaths.

If such crucial questions aren't clearly answered the writer's are at great fault.
First I can hardly imagine that such a full scale evacuation under time pressure would work perfectly for all people. Isn't somebody bound to be overlooked and left behind?
But I find it most worrying that so many posters here think that large scale planet poisoning is somehow an acceptable way of waging war. Imagine the Romulans would to the same on Earth and force a full scale evacuation. Does that really sound like an acceptable war action?
Sisko's action finds rather a parallel in the terror large scale city bombings by Germans and Allies in the Second World War than just being about aiming at military targets.
DougL
89. Jose Tyler
As a huge fan of Trek technology, this episode was always one of my favorites for the launch of the Defiant. The relayed orders, the step-by-step how to undock a ship, the music and some excellent editing in that scene are great. The look of pride on Sisko's face once Nog announces they have warp speed is worth the price of admission...
Christopher Bennett
90. ChristopherLBennett
@88: We don't know how large the colony was; implicitly, it was small enough to have ships available for everyone. If it was a "Maquis colony," i.e. founded by the Maquis and consisting only of their members and maybe some civilians they'd resettled, then it could not possibly have been more than two and a half years old, because that's how much time has elapsed since "The Maquis." And since the Maquis are a small band of renegades rather than an organized government, it's likely that any resettlement efforts they've led are piecemeal. So we're probably not talking about a very large habitation. A "full-scale evacuation" would be more like evacuating a moderate-sized town than a whole country.

Okay, maybe a lot of those people were dispersed across the territory, going off to found farms or explore the woods or whatever. But this is an advanced spacefaring society. They have communicators; they have powerful biosensors; they have transporters. It's unlikely that anyone on the planet would be untraceable, unless they were spelunking in a very deep cave and hadn't told anyone where they'd be. In which case they were risking death anyway.

And no, of course we're not saying that what Sisko did was "acceptable." That would be as great a misreading of the episode as the assumption that he murdered the colonists. The whole narrative point of Sisko's action is that it is an extreme, shocking, "villainous" act, serious enough to convince Eddington that Sisko would stop at nothing and Eddington's only option is surrender. The point, as I've been saying all along, is that it's a matter of degree. It was a bad thing, but it wasn't as bad as some people are assuming.

And good grief, nothing in war is acceptable. War itself is an atrocity. But people who find themselves in wars are forced to make compromises and do bad things in response to the bad things the enemy is doing to them. It's just a question of how far they take it, how much of their morality they can hold onto.

And no, Sisko's actions are not comparable to the city bombings of WWII, because, again, planets are huge. He did not attack the colony directly, because a planet is not a tiny little thing that only has one place on it. He contaminated the biosphere in a way that was designed to give the colonists adequate time to evacuate safely before the contamination spread to their settlement.
Peter Erwin
91. PeterErwin
For those who are arguing that what Sisko does is a legitimate and even justified policy for dealing with the Maquis problem (e.g., "The Allies did this in WW2!", "in war there are steps that can be justified", and so forth):

Even leaving aside the moral issues, there's another problem: that isn't Sisko's motivation for what he does. If it was, he'd carry on attacking Maquis planets instead of stopping after getting Eddington to surrender. (It's never suggested that, for example, the whole Maquis effort would collapse if Eddington were captured; Eddington is clearly correct when he claims that this is fundamentally a personal vendetta against him on the part of Sisko.)

And if terror-bombing the Maquis population and turning them into refugees as part of a general Maquis-fighting strategy really was Sisko's plan, then he'd be operating way, way outside his jurisdiction and authority. He's not the military governor of the DMZ, and in any case a policy of poisoning entire planets -- or even threatening to do so -- is something which should be decided at the highest levels of Starfleet and the Federation.

And in fact it's a really terrible policy: Sisko has just shown that the Federation will arbitrarily and with almost zero warning poison entire planets. This is not exactly going to make the general Maquis populace think positively about relocating to the Federation, is it? It's more like a policy designed to radicalize the Maquis and turn a lot of them into dedicated, even fanatical, opponents of the Federation.

Even aside from all the arguments that what's he's done is a war crime, he ought to be court-martialed for grossly exceeding his authority in a manner which potentially endangers the Federation.
alastair chadwin
92. a-j
@90
And no, Sisko's actions are not comparable to the city bombings of WWII, because, again, planets are huge.
Well, compared to a village, a city is huge. But the German destruction of the village of Lidice in Czechoslovakia as collective punishment for the assaswsination of Heydrich does not justify the bombing of the city of Dresden.
Admiral Matthew Dougherty: Jean-Luc, we're only moving 600 people.
Captain Picard: How many people does it take, Admiral, before it becomes wrong? Hmm? A thousand, fifty thousand, a million? How many people does it take, Admiral?
Christopher Bennett
93. ChristopherLBennett
@92: That is a completely invalid analogy, because of the obvious difference: The WWII bombings were designed to kill people, while Sisko's act was consciously designed to allow them to evacuate with no loss of life. That makes any WWII-bombing analogies fundamentally dishonest in this context.

Yes, a city is large compared to a village, but the point is that it's populated. We're talking about a single, probably small colony on an entire, otherwise uninhabited planet. We're talking about Sisko clearly and unambiguously aiming the weapon far enough away from the settlement that the population has plenty of time to get to the ships and leave.

Let's talk about just how big a planet is. Earth has over 7 billion human beings on it living in tens of thousands of distinct cities, towns, and villages -- but permanent human settlements make up only about one percent of the Earth's entire surface area, land and sea included. That means that if a small asteroid or a satellite falls randomly from space, the odds of its landing in a populated area are only one in a hundred. That's why things like the Chelyabinsk bolide explosion are so rarely seen even though bolides explode in the atmosphere literally every day. Even most of Earth is unpopulated. Here, we're talking about a planet with evidently only one settlement (they used "colony" in the singular) that's no more than a couple of years old and had no more than a few hundred or a few thousand people. So the ratio of unpopulated parts of the planet to populated ones would be on the order of a million to one, if not better. Sisko was spoiled for choice for targets that would not have immediately endangered the colony. So to assume he fired directly at the colony not only contradicts the evidence in the episode but shows a fundamental misunderstanding of scale.
DougL
94. Eoin8472
@63

Ho ho Chris
If we are now going to go down the path of saying that firing upon Federation ships is now an act of an enemy and that Chemical weapons (even if the end result is non-lethal as the populance has time to flee) used against said enemy are now ok...remind me again why you are opposed to mining the wormhole to stop the Dominion? Since the Jem'Hadar are now at war with the Federation by that firing on ships and committing terrorism logic (Oh how they have committed terrorism!). Sisko is/was obsessed with the wrong enemy.

Tick-Tock, 800 million dead people just coming over that hill.
DougL
95. Eoin8472
Oh and as regards the inital post, I almost fell out of my chair in shock at the concept that Worf would have no qualms about Sisko's actions. Has someone just..slept through years of Tng/Ds9? Really?
At least the episode got Worf right.
DougL
96. Random22
@ 91: Peter Erwin. Sisko doing this just to take out Eddington is totally justified. This episode shows us why. Most Maquis members are low level cannon fodder for the Maquis leadership (that is always the case with terrorist causes). They have the poor deluded fools living in caves ffs. Eddington is at very least an upper-mid level (if not an actual key part of the maquis leadership) rabble-rouser/Maquis strategist. He's a senior AQ man to put it in modern terms. What Sisko does is essentially demolish a terrorist camp to get Eddington to surrender. He does it in such a way that the low level hangers on can get out of the way, and he does not go on a rampage after he has captured the key target.

There is no need for The Sisko to go around knocking over other Maquis planets, because that won't defeat the Maquis. What will is systematically depriving them of key leadership figures and strategic assets.

As well as capturing Eddington, he has also deprived the Maquis of a central plank of their current campaign. They can no longer just go around tainting the atmosphere of Cardassian planets, to drive Cardassians out, because if they do then they now believe that will be responded to by the deprivation of one of their own planets. Remember Sisko's actions are in response to (proportionate with) the Maquis's own escalation.

Let me remind everyone. The Maquis have already deployed Bio-Weapons here. Under current rules of engagement, if Sisko were a US officer, it would be fully justified in using complete and overwhelming force (scorched earth) to remove members of the Maquis leadership. Sisko is still being restrained just by going tit-for-tat. As it stands, however, the Maquis leadership is now seriously weakened by loss of a key figure and is deprived of a campaign strategy.
Peter Erwin
97. PeterErwin
"Maquis" for fighters vs "Maquis" for general civilian population:

The reality is that the word is clearly being used in both senses, and this isn't just sloppiness on the part of the writers; it's a perfectly ordinary language use. One can say "the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor!" and "the Japanese are hard-working"; context makes it clear that in the first case, it's a reference to Japanese naval forces, and in the second case to the population in general. During the American Civil War, people in the North used "Rebels" for actual Confederate soldiers and for the general secessionist (white) population of the South. Sure, it can be ambiguous and confusing, but language often is; the actual meaning depends on the context.

Note that, in the final confrontation of the episode, Sisko agrees with Eddington that the population of the planet he's just poisoned -- and all the others he threatens to poison -- will become "homeless refugees", like the ones they both saw sheltering in caves at the beginning of the episode. That's a clear indication that most of the population of the "Maquis colonies" are civilians, not fighters. (No one refers to active soldiers as "refugees", even if their peacetime homes happen to have been destroyed.)
DougL
98. Random22
Let me add to my last. After checking Memory Alpha, the Maquis have deployed bio-weapons against the Cardassians TWICE(!). It is clear that the Maquis strategy was to poison every planet in the DMZ. Now there is no way that can be ignored, so something had to be done (quickly) to stop that. Sisko had a ticking clock to both remove the key figure behind that campaign (Eddington) and do something that would prevent anyone else picking up where he left off. If Eddington wasn't in custody quickly then going full and overwhelming wouldn't just be justified, it would be essential. Even if there were collateral losses as a result of Sisko's action, he probably still saved lives.
Christopher Bennett
99. ChristopherLBennett
@94: I'm not even going to dignify that incompetent analogy with a response. Except to say that I've already stated over and over that it's not about Sisko's actions being "okay," it's about them being bad but stopping short of being murderous. So you're just throwing out straw men here and I'm not going to waste my time with them.

@97: I don't think the "Japanese" analogy works here, because it's a term that basically means the entire population, and it's shorthand to use it for "the Japanese Imperial forces" in particular. This is the opposite: "Maquis" is not the name of a population, it's the title adopted by a guerrilla organization. Originally it was the name used by the French resistance during WWII. Referring to everyone in the DMZ as "Maquis" would be akin to referring to the entire population of France as "Maquis." So your second analogy to "Rebels" works better here. But I still think, weighing all the other evidence and the fact that the writers obviously didn't want Sisko to be a mass murderer, that the intent of "Maquis colony" was to suggest a relatively small settlement consisting primarily of guerrillas.

As for Sisko agreeing with Eddington, let's remember, again, that Sisko was conning Eddington. Eddington had this romanticized view of himself as a heroic figure, and Sisko played into that neurosis by adopting the role of "villain," acting according to Eddington's script in order to maneuver him into playing the self-sacrificing hero. So agreeing with Eddington's line about the refugees was just part of the con game, part of Sisko's pretense of being the villain. So you can't take it as a truthful indication of what Sisko believed. What mattered was that Eddington believed it long enough to be convinced to surrender.
DougL
100. Eoin8472
"Even if there were collateral losses as a result of Sisko's actions, he probably still saved lives"

Ok...so we are all agreed? Sisko should mine the wormhole right now! No more pussy-footing around, we are almost out of time here. The Founders have already instigated two wars in the AQ, which have killed a lot more people then the Maquis killed in their 2 bio-weapons occurances. And wiped out the the New Bajor colony and the Odyssey and attacked Earth and almost got the Fedartion into war with the Tzinkathi (spelling).

Actually this rewatch has finally joined the dots for me.
When you think about it Sisko was blinkered. Eddington WAS bigger in his mind then the Dominion and this epsiode gives us the reason why. Holy shit...thats staggeringly short-sighted. I take it back, this episode did get Sisko dead on. All that time he should have been worrying about the Dominion's plans for the Alpha Quadrant, he was obsessing over the Maquis and their personal betrayals of him. First Cal Hudson and then Eddington. Its all come together for me on Sisko's character. We didn't see Picard obsess over Ro's betrayal of him did we? Picard was the better man and just got over it. He had the Borg to fight. (Its unfair I know, but how else to explain Sisko's colossol and monstrous inactions)
DougL
101. Random22
@99 CLB: Exactly, all the talk of homeless refugees is just the con because the episode's conclusion is the Cardassians who were displaced by the Maquis (the two colonies worth that the Maquis bio-bombed) taking over the former Maquis world and any Maquis sympethizers being allowed to settle on the former Cardassian colonies. You do have to wonder, how many Cardassian children were not able to evac in time from the Cardassian worlds? They would be in even less position to mobilize than the already highly mobile Maquis and families?
DougL
102. Random22
@100 Eoin8472: Dude, firstly the Dominion while being a large potentional threat was not a threat in progress. Eyes on the ball in play here, not the next game on the program. Now I agree there should have been plans to mine (or even destroy the wormhole), it was not clear at that point whether a diplomatic solution was beyond reach (since Eddington was actively engaged in bio-bombing, he was the more immediate threat even if he wasn't necessarily the greater long-term one - again eyes on the ball currently in play), in addition the Wormhole was still a potential tactical and strategic asset to the Alpha Quadrant and the pro's of denying the GQ powers access AT THAT POINT whas to be balanced against the potential losses of also denying it to the Alpha Quadrant forces. Its all got to be prioritized and weighed in terms of gains and losses, not everything is equal.
DougL
103. Eoin8472
@99
I based my comment on your comment in @63 which seems to be insinuinating that the Maquis on that planet are are not civilians and that Maquis are now in a state of war with the Federation. It is odd to use Chemical weapons against an enemy but not to expect any casualties. (I am very very skeptical as to whether no Maquis died in Sisko's biogenic attack.)

But I don't see how mining the wormhole to prevent terrorism/wars and placing warning buoys all over both ends of the wormhole is any morally different. You seem to think my scenario involves just killing as many innocent people who come through on ships as the crew possibly can, which is a distortion of my long-going argument. If you support Sisko's heavy handed actions in this episode, I just cannot see the moral difference to mining the wormhole, WITH WARNING SIGNS. ( I can see economic and religious reasons sure, but not moral ones)
DougL
104. Eoin8472
@102

I am sympathetic to your point, but in my opinion those plans were not prioritised enough. The Dominion was a threat in progress. Their infiltrations caused the Klingon-Cardassian war and the Klingon-Federation war. I would hazrd thats a lot more devestation then what the Maquis have done. The Federation seems to have all their hopes pinned on next episodes last-minute gambit and doesn't even think about mines until after the horse has bolted. To use your analogy, I think there were many balls in play and while Eddingtons was the "brighter" at the moment of the epsiode and would have to be prioritiesed at that moment in time, it was not the largest overall. But the impression I know have is that Sisko, though maybe not the entire Federation, was obsessing over the Eddington "ball" for a long time, even before the bio-weapon attacks. Which is not good fire-fighting I would think. He is only human and Eddington hurt him in a very human way. But Sisko is front-line against the main enemy.
Peter Erwin
105. PeterErwin
Random22 @ 96:
Under current rules of engagement, if Sisko were a US officer, it would be fully justified in using complete and overwhelming force (scorched earth) to remove members of the Maquis leadership.

I really don't think that's true, otherwise a large fraction of the villages and towns in Afghanistan and northwest Pakistan would be smoking ruins. Current US rules of engagement clearly call for restraint when it comes to endangering civilian lives. (That's one of the justifications for "smart bombs" and low-yield missiles: that they can be directed against the actual bad guys in their vehicle or house, rather than needing to smash up an entire village or city just to get a couple of leaders.)

Your argument might be valid if Sisko had used overwhelming force against Eddington's ship. But that't not at all what happened.

(And again: one of the whole points of Star Trek is that the Federation is supposed to be better, more ethically advanced, less willing to make ends-justify-the-means arguments, than late-20th/early-21st-C Earth.)


Sisko is still being restrained just by going tit-for-tat.

Ah... did we watch the same episode?

Sisko justifies his actions on the grounds that Eddington attacked a Federation starship.

So if Sisko had attacked a Maquis raider -- and in fact goes after several and actually blows one up during the episode -- that would be tit-for-tat.

As for the use of "Bio-Weapons": Eddington used chemical weapons ("biogenic" is pretty clearly pointless ST technobabble in this case) against a Cardassian colony, not against a Federation colony. So if the Cardassians had then poisoned a Maquis colony, it would actually be an example of tit-for-tat.

So... is Sisko actually authorized to carry out Cardassian revenge attacks? Without bothering to consult the Cardassians first (let alone his Starfleet superiors)? Maybe Sisko is actually a Cardassian agent; that might explain some things...
(Yes, that's pretty silly. But so is claiming that what Sisko does is "proportionate" "tit-for-tat", unless Sisko actually is a Cardassian officer.)
DougL
106. TheFrog
After reading the comments, I was wondering why no one mentioned the environmental crime that was committed by poisoning the planet making it uninhabitable for humans. In the US, environmental crimes are investigated by the EPA and are serious. I can’t imagine the consequences of say a criminal hiding in a village on a neutral island in the pacific, and a US naval captain rendering it uninhabitable with chemical weapons to capture the criminal.
Christopher Bennett
107. ChristopherLBennett
@105: Sisko did use restraint. He made sure the colonists had enough time to evacuate. He didn't drop a bomb directly on their colony -- he contaminated the planet's atmosphere, a contamination that would've taken days to spread planetwide. He didn't blitzkrieg the colonists -- he just created a situation that required their departure.

@106: "I was wondering why no one mentioned the environmental crime that was committed by poisoning the planet making it uninhabitable for humans."

Why should humans be the standard? They weren't native to that planet. And there are plenty of planets that are uninhabitable for humans. The standard for calling it an environmental crime should be based on its impact on the indigenous biosphere, not on colonists from another biosphere altogether.

Although judging from the appearance of Solosos III, I'm not convinced it has much of an indigenous biosphere. It looks like a lifeless hunk of rock. Presumably it had an oxygen atmosphere that the colonists breathed openly, otherwise Sisko's dispersal of trilithium resin into the atmosphere wouldn't have been much of a threat; so there must have been enough plant life to create breathable levels of oxygen. But unless the local vegetation is brown, it doesn't look like it had much life outside the oceans, or much in the way of oceans. It might've been a borderline-habitable world for humans to begin with. And the episode says nothing about an indigenous biosphere or whether the resin would have any effect on it.
Keith DeCandido
108. krad
Yowza -- this is only the third of my Trek rewatches to go three figures in the comments. The other two are "Darmok" and "Emissary." Well done, y'all....

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Peter Erwin
109. PeterErwin
@99:
... the intent of "Maquis colony" was to suggest a relatively small settlement consisting primarily of guerrillas.

I think that's a strained interpretation, based primarily on a desire to make it seem like Sisko is just going after military targets. (With chemical weapons.) Remember that when Sisko threatens to do this to all the Maquis colonies, Eddington objects that this will create "hundreds of thousands of homeless refugees". No one ever contradicts this, then or later. (How many recalcitrant Federation colonies in the DMZ now under Cardassian jurisdiction are there? Ten? Twenty? That implies an average population of at least ten thousand per planet.)


Sisko was conning Eddington.

He's not conning Eddington at all. He's behaving in a way designed to appeal to Eddington's romantic illusions, yes, but it's not a con. (You can imagine a version which would be more of a con, where the torpedoes were loaded with something harmless but designed to fool Maquis sensors into thinking, at least initially, that it was trilithim resin, for example.)

There's no scene beforehand where Sisko and the bridge crew work out the play they're going to put on for Eddington's benefit, and there's no scene afterwards where Sisko admits that he wasn't serious about going after the other colonies if Eddington didn't surrender. Sisko really did poison Solosos III, and really was intent on going after more planets if necessary.

It's true that Sisko is doing this as a cold-blooded ploy in order to manipulate Eddington -- Sisko isn't genuinely committed to the idea of poisoning Maquis colonies for the rest of his life -- but that's not really any different from a criminal who takes your family hostage and threatens to start killing them unless you do what the they want. (Or, if you object to the "death threat" metaphor, then someone who demonstrates they can financially ruin your family and make them homeless, and threatens to do so unless you do what they want.)
Christopher Bennett
110. ChristopherLBennett
@109: Yes, it was a con. It didn't need to be spelled out explicitly because it was clear enough from context. Audiences are expected to be perceptive enough to fill in the gaps and understand what's going on without needing every last detail spoon-fed to them.

Again, you're forgetting that this was not made in the era of Dexter and Walter White. It's absurd to think that the writers intended Sisko to be as monstrous as you're assuming. He was the hero. Any moral compromise he made was going to be a very limited one, because that's all that audiences or executives at the time would have been willing to allow. Once you understand that, it's obvious he was bluffing, because he's the good guy. It's implicit that there are lines he won't cross, so it doesn't need to be spelled out in dialogue. Your premise is impossible on the face of it.
alastair chadwin
111. a-j
@110
It's absurd to think that the writers intended Sisko to be as monstrous as you're assuming. He was the hero.
Actually, with respect, you may be wrong. According to Memory Prime, the original thinking behind the episode 'In Purgatory's Shadow' was to have Eddington stage a Great Escape style break-out from a Federation prison with Star Fleet as the villain, so it is obvious that Sisko/Star Fleet in this episode was intended to be morally compromised, if not actually monstrous. It's a theme that the writer will return to, this time successfully, in next season's 'In the Pale Moonlight'.
Christopher Bennett
112. ChristopherLBennett
@111: Yes, but as I've been saying over and over and over again, it's a matter of how far his "villainy" is taken. He crossed a line by contaminating the biosphere, but he didn't cross the much worse line of attempting mass murder and didn't actually plan to go through with the cartoon-villain scheme he convinced Eddington he intended to undertake.

And yes, they had the idea of showing that Starfleet could be seen as the villain from certain perspectives, but it would only have been up to a point. There are degrees of villainy. There's a difference between a villain like, oh, a Scooby-Doo bad guy who just wants to scare people off from a hidden mine and a villain like, say, Jason Voorhees or Hannibal Lecter, whose goal is to kill lots of people in horrible ways. What I've been trying to get across for days now is that "morally compromised" does not automatically mean "willing to murder thousands." I'm absolutely not saying that Sisko did nothing wrong, and I wish people would understand that so that I didn't have to keep repeating myself. I'm saying he didn't go to the extremes that some people are assuming.
alastair chadwin
113. a-j
The writers, producers et al may not have intended to portray Sisko as a villain, but owing to a series of startling misjudgements, that is precisely what they do. Sisko poisons an entire planet. This is the kind of thing that in earlier series would have had Kirk beating him up in a badly choreographed fight scene or Picard giving him such a lecture that he would have ended up crying in the dark for days. In terms of script fail, it's up there with that TNG episode where they're happy for an entire planet's population to die because of a strict interpretation of the prime directive.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
114. Lisamarie
But maybe not quite as bad as the infamous Cersei/Jaime "consensual" sex scene ;)
Christopher Bennett
115. ChristopherLBennett
@113: Yes, he "poisons an entire planet," but again, look at the picture of the planet. It's a brown, barren hunk of rock. We don't even know if it had an indigenous biosphere beyond the algae-equivalents necessary to create an oxygen atmosphere. It looks like it was only borderline-habitable for humans to begin with. And we don't know whether the "poison" would've been toxic to the indigenous life. All we know is that it rendered it uninhabitable to human life for a few generations, and since the human colonists had come there from somewhere else only a couple of years earlier at most, it's not like they had nowhere else to go.

And the difference between this and the execrable "Homeward" is that "Homeward" portrayed the crew's actions in leaving the natives to die as an entirely correct and moral act. This episode acknowledged that Sisko committed a deliberate wrong in order to achieve a greater good. Although I agree with you that it was sloppily executed -- which is why it's so easy for people to misread the severity of Sisko's act.
DougL
116. Jaden
Sikso commits genocide on a planetary scale over a personal vendetta and in direct violation of his orders, and all is forgiven. This episode was terribly out of character for an otherwise stellar captain.
Christopher Bennett
117. ChristopherLBennett
@116: I think you missed my previous post (#115). Please read it, as it already addresses your concern.

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