Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine



Air date: 2/14/1994
Teleplay by Jeff King and Richard Manning & Hans Beimler
Story by Jim Trombetta and James Crocker
Directed by Corey Allen

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

When Sisko and O'Brien beam down to a planet, they find a human colony that has been stranded 10 years with no means of escape. The colonists have been forced to abandon all forms of technology, none of which work due to bizarre interference in the atmosphere. In what turns out to be more than a coincidence, the colony leader, Alixus (Gail Strickland), is a naturalist extremist who has always resented the effects technology has had on mankind ("We have become fat and lazy," she notes tellingly). She considers her technology-free community a shining achievement—never mind that many of her followers have died as a result of living in such an extreme environment without modern medicine or supplies.

"Paradise's" intent seems to be allegory—making a statement about cult leadership and how strong opinions and followings can oppose the general consensus. But the social commentary is heavy-handed and only marginally effective; some of Alixus' long-winded speeches—particularly the one at the finale—ring false because they feel completely scripted. And considering how unlikable Alixus ultimately comes off, it's hard to see her as much more than a villain, albeit with a sincere motive.

Still, on that level, "Paradise" works quite well. Alixus and Sisko almost instantly fall into conflict. She's set on absorbing Sisko and O'Brien into her community, adamant on quickly and completely forcing them into her way of life. Her methodology of torture in the face of any threat to the community's well-being—the simple and appropriate "hot box"—prove she will do anything for her ideals. Like it or not, Alixus is a villain, although a three dimensional one surrounded by some intelligent issues. Sisko's adamant opposition and strength in the face of such a situation is commendable, and both Brooks and Meaney deliver solid performances. I have some problems with the colonists' over-simplified reactions to finding out Alixus planned both their marooning and the deletion of technology, but the grey-area polemics make the Sisko/Alixus hero/villain conflict that much more interesting.

Previous episode: Whispers
Next episode: Shadowplay

Season Index

59 comments on this review

Tue, Apr 10, 2012, 10:24pm (UTC -6)
I am in the process of re-watching all of DS9. I had never seen this one before.

It was awful. Just ludicrous. Worst kind of bottle show. 24th century Federation citizens playing Lord of the Flies. The colonists come off as dolts, no regard for consequences, willful torture of Starfleet officers by Federation citizens, I can go on and on.

Best forgotten, this one. I am strongly resisting the urge to go on and on about it.
Tue, May 29, 2012, 10:22am (UTC -6)
Why couldn't she have just found followers that wanted to live out her tech free experiment? The lack of free will is her great crime and yet the episode seems happy to pretty much ignore that and in the process make the followers seem even more dumb than they already do.
Paul York
Wed, Jun 6, 2012, 8:32am (UTC -6)
This is an episode that raised some good questions, but it is true that the woman's speeches were a bit overdone. She had a good point regarding the negative effects of technology and the benefits of a simpler way of life, but the means she utilized to achieve her utopian goals were unethical (torture, kidnapping, causing negligent death). This character should have been better written, to make it even more grey -- such as a colony that wilfully went with her, not one that was coerced and lied to. ST has exhibited a tension in many of the episode between the hi-tech sets (one kind of utopia) and the low-tech village rural village life surrounded by greenery (another utopian ideal). Too infrequently do we see the dystopian future in ST, except in the case of the Borg or those characters that ship radiation around or hi-tech weapons of mass destruction. But the Federation seems mercifully exempt from all this ... which is somewhat of a dream, compared to the real results of faith in technology. So ST raised a good issue, but oversimplified it, by making the leader of the group a criminal Luddite and cult leader, rather than showing a thoughtful community voluntarily eschewing technology -- both its detrimental and beneficial elements, for the sake of another way of life on a new planet. In Children of Time we see a better approximation of this kind of community.
Sun, Sep 30, 2012, 5:35pm (UTC -6)
What is particularly bad about this episode is the fact they had some Starfleet engineers with them onboard. Even if they discover they can't operate electronic devices, they sure should at least have a steam machine, small forge, some optical instruments and many other devices functional by the time Sisko and O'Brien arrived.
Thu, Feb 14, 2013, 9:12pm (UTC -6)
I would have liked it and found it more believable were the colonists had flayed Alixus and her son alive at the end
Fri, Feb 22, 2013, 2:42pm (UTC -6)
On reflection I hated this episode's ending almost as much as the end of 'The Village' (made 10 years later but the DS9 version in 'Paradise' was better).
Tue, Jul 16, 2013, 2:16pm (UTC -6)
This episode essentially plays with a common presumption of humanity - that "simpler times" and the past are more preferable to the present. In essence, what people are referring to as a poor execution of the supposed premise is probably a lot closer to the truth (albeit with the community being largely idiots from this viewpoint). Our past is filled with moral obscenities (torture, suppression of free will and thought), and it is the opinion of many present day scholars that - despite the human inclination to long for "simpler times" - we were more often than not a lot worse off as we look back to previous states of our society. In a sense, you could take it that Sisko and O'Brien represent what we have discovered of the reality of this common delusion, and the community are a manifestation of it - reverting to the "simpler time" they long for with all of the suffering intact. And what's worse, being thankful for it, in a twisted Stockholm syndrome type of dynamic.

That's the only way I can possibly relate to this episode without thinking of it as being an utter failure - since that's all any other premise seems to give.
Tue, Oct 22, 2013, 4:43pm (UTC -6)

A poor episode all around. The female leader of the tribe is extremely annoying and the premise is not that believable.

Thu, Nov 28, 2013, 5:38am (UTC -6)
I really hate this kind of puritanical garbage. I know the story showed the leader in an unsympathetic light, and I know other people on here have said how heavy handed the storytelling is, but even if both of those things had been remedied I still don't think I could put up with this insistence that there is some kind of 18th century idyllic life to which we should ultimately aspire to.

Life back then was extremely tough, even for those with relative wealth, so the idea that 400 years in the future there are still sections of humanity that would willfully place themselves in such a life style is incredulous to me. I thought we had evolved to be beyond such ridiculousness.
Sat, Dec 28, 2013, 4:31pm (UTC -6)
This is one of those colonies where you cheer for the Jem'Hadar as they obliterate it.
Thu, Jan 9, 2014, 1:55pm (UTC -6)
It was an OK episode, but the ending weakened it. Star Trek, for all it's futurism, unjustifiably glorifies the low-tech past. Subsistence farming is a struggle to stay alive, and people starved in winter, when the rain didn't come, when the hail storms ruined the crop, when locusts ate the crop, etc. Today, the problem is more too much food than starvation.

This episode is slightly refreshing in that it shows the downside of a low-tech lifestyle: for one, people died of things that would be easily treatable today. Brutal repression is a legacy of the past - the stocks are not just a cute gimmick at renaissance festivals. It's still has too glowing a view of a low-tech lifestyle.

It's the end that undermines it. I have no problem with the colonists wishing to stay, it's been their home for a decade. But to even THINK about turning that machine back on is wrong. Turning that machine back on meant sentencing people to die unnecessarily. It was not plausible that one person could speak for the whole group and say they are staying. Some might want to stay, others would want to leave. Star Trek too often tries to cover both sides, even when there isn't two sides. Their leader was wrong to hijack them to this planet, and wrong to use this device to deny them the freedom to use technology. To turn the device back on is to do the same wrong that their leader was guilty of.

By all means, stay on the colony, but accept Federation aid, and allow people the freedom to decide if they want to use technology or not.
Thu, Jan 30, 2014, 4:16pm (UTC -6)
I liked the slow understanding you get that the leader isn't innocent. But that's about it.

From that very moment on everything falls apart because it makes no sense anymore. The leader isn't likeable enough to be a real cult leader. The fact NO ONE decides to leave at the end is unbelievable. And it didn't seem that heavy-handed to me actually the contrary - the episode never knows what it wants to say: It tries to be a glorification of naturalists (as hypocritical as that movement is since apparently pottery and clothing aren't considered technology...) but it's of course ludicrous inside a show that's about 24th century spacefaring civilisations... So it ends up being nothing at all.
Wed, Feb 5, 2014, 10:33pm (UTC -6)
I have to say that this is my first time through DS9, and some episodes keep me more interested then others. I always enjoy a back to basics episode, which is what caught my attention with Paradise.

That being said, I have to agree with many of the statements above. It was an okay episode until the end. Sure, cult leaders forcing their morals on humanity is a common source for material, but some things just don't add up once you get to the root of it all.

After finding out that the leader basically marooned them and forced them to live in an existence, which has been admitted was not outrightly accepted to begin with, i find it very hard to believe that a) one man would be allowed to speak for the group and b) that no one would jump right up and be like "take me with you". Realistically, we are talking ten years here, it is not a completely different generation. These people lived in the futuristic society, grew up in the futuristic society, had stakes in it as well. No one has family they want to get back in touch with, no lovers, husbands, children? The ending was just wrapped up way t neatly with a little bow on it to seem plausible, even in a Star Trek universe.

Not to droll on, but one thing about this episode struck me. The very end when everyone walks away and the two children stand a stare at one of two things. Either the box, which is interesting, or the place that they just transported from. Interesting, but I wonder what is running through those children's mind. The children who out of everyone, have known no other existence.
Sun, Feb 9, 2014, 8:42pm (UTC -6)
This episode always makes me mad because it should have fallen apart so much earlier than it did. Why didn't Sisko and O'Brien just refuse to stay in the community so they would not have to abide by the rules. Why didn't they say Cassandra's writing was a waste of time as much as their search for a way home. There were many ways they could have seen through the plot in the village much earlier, but that would have ruined the episode.
Sat, Mar 1, 2014, 9:54pm (UTC -6)
I liked this episode until the very last scene, where Joseph decided to stay on the planet and no one disagreed with him. Basically, that gave the villain, even though she was brought to a Federation court, a moral victory, which provides this episode with an oddly strange message for a Science-Fiction show...

Furthermore, I don't think that's a believable ending. Most of the colonists aren't that young that they would have forgotten their past lives, with families and friends. Granted, being on a colonization ship they couldn't expect to meet them once a week, however using Star Trek technology, it would very well be possible to communicate with them, even over these large distances (had Alixus not wrecked their ship). It seems highly unlikely to me that no one at all wants to get in touch with their former acquaintances.

So, basically a good episode which was ruined by its ending.
Mon, Apr 7, 2014, 4:03am (UTC -6)
And yet another episode wherein Star Trek glorifies the simple life.

I can't find the words to express how much I hate those kind of episodes. I really wish this stupid idea, that primitive simple life is in some way superior, could finally be erased from human consciousness. Oh how I wish I could send all those delusional idiots back in time to the 1600s or 1700s or even just the 1920s...

At least it wasn't as bad as Insurrection or This side of Paradise.

Thu, May 1, 2014, 7:17am (UTC -6)
The writers must have had One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest in their minds - Alixus is a Nurse Ratched-scale villain practically from the outset, lording it over a ridiculously docile bunch of Starfleet personnel. Her unmasking at the end was badly staged and written, the lack of emotional response from the other colonists laughable, and the prospect of turning the device on again to preserve their "idyllic" tough life ludicrous.
Sat, May 17, 2014, 5:18pm (UTC -6)
Pretty good episode but the ending was weak. I just don't buy that the colonists would have stayed "for the community". A better ending would have had most of the colonists turn against Alixus and leave, while Sisko leaves Alixus and a few of her fanatics on the planet. The ending was too sympathetic to Alixus for my liking.

Perhaps technology has corrupted us in some ways (just look at how many people make fools of themselves on social media, and the obesity rate, among other examples), but it has freed us to do more worthwhile things and make incredible discoveries. In the end, who's better off, the person who spends all day plowing the field by hand, or the person who uses a tractor with time to spare, in turn freeing himself/herself and others to use their talents in other areas (writing books, searching for disease cures, etc) to the benefit of all humanity?

Side note: If it had been Kirk instead of Sisko, I imagine he would have phasered that device outright, rather than leaving it so it could be reactivated. (Then followed up with some over-the-top speech about freedom to choose and whatnot.)
Dave in NC
Tue, May 27, 2014, 9:41pm (UTC -6)
Watching this for the first time as I type this.

Sisko and O'Brien are meeting the community for the first time and I have a few questions:

1) All of these people speak in a stilted manner. They've been out of touch with Starfleet for ten years. Their language can't have morphed that quickly.

2) The female colonist asking about fashions back home was cringe-worthy. The actress's delivery of that was absolutely horrible, but it was so badly written I don't know if any actress (even a good one) could have sold that line.
Dave in NC
Tue, May 27, 2014, 9:44pm (UTC -6)
The second scene with Alixus and it's already obvious where this episode is going. Someone should have slipped a Xanax in her tea before they started shooting . . . talk about scenery chewing!
Dave in NC
Tue, May 27, 2014, 10:15pm (UTC -6)
About halfway through and I'm noticing a Trek trend. What is it with the numerous forgotten human colonies and their bizarre philosophies? Every Trek series seems to do at least one of these episodes per season.


All right, so Alixis turned out to be a (overacted) maniacal zealot who was willing to have children die just so she could have her little pet Utopia. Denying water to people, playing who's-got-the-bigger-wang with Sisko, giving grandiose speeches, b;lowing up ships . . . the parallels with organized religion and Communism are obvious. It seemed like the episode was on a trajectory toward critiquing the cult mindset, the seductive promise of idyllic perfection through societal control.

The final scene, however, is completely ludicrous and undoes everything the episode worked toward. None of these people want to go back to Starfleet? No one has family or friends to meet? No one has a career they want to revive? No one's pissed that they were lied to for a decade by a psychopath? No one wants the machines back on after the big reveal?!?! Whatever.

I can't imagine thirty people would just stand there while she revealed she basically murdered their friends and family. (Also, how bitchy of her to say that one dude would probably be in prison).

I hate to say it, but the message seems to be that Alixis got what she wanted by manipulating these people and making the choices for them. Religion itself is not at fault if the preacher leads the flock astray? If that's the message they were shooting for, it is a total cop out.

It's too bad this is probably the last DS9 I haven't seen. Sad to "go out" on a low note.

Wed, May 28, 2014, 9:57am (UTC -6)
@Dave - It wasn't a stellar episode, but I thought the ending worked. I think the point was that she had made a really cult. I always find the ending creepy.

It's a rare episode where the villain wins!
Dave in NC
Wed, May 28, 2014, 11:51am (UTC -6)
@ Robert.

You've got a point there. I hated that smug, superior "victory smile" on Alixis's face when she beamed up and I was surprised that episode ended on that note.

But still, it's not too much to ask for some believability in the way these kind of shows are written.

The person who wrote this obviously was trying to make some kind of moral point. However, the plot requires too many coincidences intended to keep the viewers in the dark, and it is these creaky expositions and artificial-drama reveals that sink this so low I'm still puzzled about what this was all supposed to mean.

My hope for the next Trek is that it makes the characters a little more like real people, more of a documentary style and less of that "staged" feel. I'm not Betazoid, but sometimes I can sense the craft services table just off screen.

If this had been written from that kind of a perspective it definitely would have been a better episode: for the actors, for the writers and for the viewers.
Dave in NC
Wed, May 28, 2014, 12:01pm (UTC -6)
I'm laughing at myself because I thought I was done and another gaping plot hole occurred to me:

If Alixis is going to be "tried for her crimes", then isn't it possible Starfleet would want some witnesses at her trial?
Wed, May 28, 2014, 2:13pm (UTC -6)
She did try to destroy a runabout. Go to a US base and try to blow up a tank, lock an officer in a box and fire a bow and arrow at another officer. I think she's looking at life in prison purely based off her crimes in this one episode :)

I DO agree with you that there were too many coincidences and the guest actors weren't that convincing on the whole.

But I really think you were meant to believe that these people spent 10 years drinking the cool-aid, having Stockholm Syndrome, cult induction, etc. I SERIOUSLY hope the Federation sends an entire ship full of counselors to talk to these people before letting them decide to stay there forever making babies with the weird anti-tech box turned on.
Paul M.
Wed, May 28, 2014, 6:15pm (UTC -6)
Dave in NC said:
"The female colonist asking about fashions back home was cringe-worthy."

Time for some trivia! That actress also played the young ensign in need of some reassurance, courtesy of Geordi, in TNG's Arsenal of Freedom in Season 1.
Dave in NC
Thu, May 29, 2014, 2:55pm (UTC -6)
@ Paul M.

Haha, I never knew that! It makes sense, though, because she wasn't very good in that episode either.
Tue, Jul 1, 2014, 12:25pm (UTC -6)
What a piece of crap this one was.

This woman is a kidnapper, , thief, power hungry, egotistical, self-centered BITCH!! I can't believe that someone didn't jump her when they found out they'd been misled. Obrien should have failed to protect her and she should have died at the hands of the colonists.

All for HER philosophy? (slaps head)

Someone earlier suggested that this episode should have depicted a colony where they volunteered to go. Then you don't need the secrecy? ... or I guess they WANT the secrecy and keep Sisko and Obrien so they won't reveal the colonies location etc. Probably a better way to get the point across in this episode, you know, about that bad technology and all.... that technology that ENABLED queeny to conduct her grand experiment.

The WORST part about this episode is how Alixus (Gail Strickland) speaks. Her throaty voice inflections drove me nuts! God... I only watched this episode this time through DS9 because I'm writing these reviews. Always a skipper for me.

1 of 4 stars...
Ian G
Wed, Jul 23, 2014, 8:47am (UTC -6)
I liked how this episode explores the dark side of leadership based on rigid political ideology. However the whole thing derails in the final scenes when the colonists aren't mad at Alixus and consider staying/turning the machine back on. It's ridiculous, she stripped them of their free will and condemned many of them to death. Her speech at the end is some ham fisted effort by the writers to try to show her as multifaceted, when the entire episode had built her up to be a pure villain.
Sun, Aug 10, 2014, 7:05pm (UTC -6)
I certainly agree that it seemed unrealistic that none of the colonists decided to leave in the end. But... while Alixus is certainly the "leader" of her community, I don't think we should take from that that she rules alone.

I do find Gail Strickland's presence here unintentionally funny, since I cannot separate her from her Seinfeld character as the publishing exec who implied that Elaine had "no grace".
Sat, Aug 16, 2014, 7:23pm (UTC -6)
I was waiting for Sisko to shout at Alixus something about there being four lights.
Sun, Aug 31, 2014, 6:22pm (UTC -6)
It had a "Cool Hand Luke" feel when Sisko was in the box.
Thu, Sep 18, 2014, 5:16am (UTC -6)
Two main flaws with this episode:

No one considers that this "duonetic" field could lose its effect after a certain distance. You can't tell us that her little box buried in the woods affects the entire planet. Either one of the colonists or Sisko/O'Brian would have simply walked as far as it took to get out of the affected area. It simply would have been a better outcome if O'Brian had escaped, walked a few days, gotten aboard the runabout and then used it to locate her field generator.

And the ending...I mean really? These colonists may have wanted to call that place "home", but you're telling me that after 10 years isolated in that crappy village, they don't even want to visit the Federation again? If not only to see friends, family, get additional supplies, etc?... Completely unbelievable.
Mon, Sep 22, 2014, 5:04am (UTC -6)
The ending is such a stretch. You don't think some people maybe WANTED to be engineers and not farmers? Why is being a farmer and having a community better than exploring the stars? It over-simplifies this issue way to much and almost implies people would rather work really hard and go back to their roots instead of trying to make actual progress and enjoy the comforts their society has earned.

The idea that no one there was infuriated over the cut-off from their, what I can imagine to at least be a few, families is completely a joke. Plus the lack of justice for an obnoxious character, other than a few lines of dialogue explaining that she will be punished, is so unrewarding, and leaves me just wanting this episode to turn into an orbital bombardment of that village. I would just love to see O'Brian vaporize a few villagers, beam out, followed with a volley of torpedoes. Just get the kids out first, not their fault the parents are impossibly dense.
Mon, Oct 6, 2014, 3:44pm (UTC -6)
This episode is mediocre at BEST. I'm not really going to comment on it past that, except that it has retroactive value for being a campy parody of the Battlestar Galactica finale. The BSG team probably should have given this one a once-over before writing the ending for their show, especially considering half of them worked on DS9. You know you've got a problem when a clumsy Star Trek episode from 15 years prior has already torpedoed your high-minded grand finale.
Thu, Oct 16, 2014, 4:48pm (UTC -6)
Long time fan but watching this episode for the first time. What I didn't get was - the wormhole was discovered about 2 years before this episode (2369) and prior to that the bajoran sector was subjugated by the cardassian union for 60 years. So how did this ship end up in the gamma quadrant in 2360? In emmissary dax and sisko have a discussion about edron being 67 years from bajor at maximum warp.
Thu, Oct 16, 2014, 4:59pm (UTC -6)
Point of information, XS: Orellius Minor is in the Alpha Quadrant. However, it still seems sketchy that 1) there could be a lost human colony so close to Bajor, 2) that Sisko & O'Brien would be scouting for colony sites so close to Bajor, 3) that *Sisko and O'Brien* would be scouting for colony sites at all, rather than DS9's designated colony-scouting team or, I dunno, a flippin' starship, and 4) that any inhabitable planets near Bajor weren't colonized already.
Thu, Nov 6, 2014, 8:24am (UTC -6)
This is interesting at first, but it all falls apart at the end. Alixus is basically a villainous cult leader, even though her intentions are good. All the difficulties Sisko and O'Brien encounter are her doing, and she marooned all of her colleagues 10 years ago so that they would live out her experiment.

And yet the writers of this episode are so attached to her heavy-handed message that they don't hold this character morally responsible for her actions. All of her followers forgive her immediately. And even though their entire way of life has been revealed as a lie, not one of them chooses to leave. It's a totally unconvincing ending, and preachy to boot.

If there's anything good to take away from this episode, it is Sisko's dogged refusal to give in to her and what she stands for.
Thu, Jan 8, 2015, 4:56pm (UTC -6)
Hate Alixus voice. She sounds like she's having a shortness of breath but I guess she's one of those people who improperly use the H. Either she sticks it where it doesn't belong and she sound like she's choking, of for instance, she pronounces "Herbs" as "Erbs".

Hate the stupid idea roping the shuttle out of warp at the risk of both ships exploding instead of just disabling the shuttle's engines with phasers or something..
Mon, Feb 23, 2015, 1:38am (UTC -6)
This is a pretty good episode. I liked the story, especially the way Sisko/Alixus were easily at odds from the beginning. The woman was another Jim Jones without the massacres. As someone mentioned above how she would revert to extreme cruelty when someone opposed her views. She even had a son with a stupid look on his face with a false sense of power carrying that bow and arrow around. The colonist should have reacted more when they found out Alixus lied and schemed to get them there. I wonder how many of them had other family members they they never saw again. This a good episode.
Fri, Jun 12, 2015, 6:23am (UTC -6)
This episode achieves a rare feat: it's so bad it makes me angry!

First off, as may have mentioned above, the rest of this "community" come off as dolts. Not ONE of them has a problem with having the choice of being where they are taken from them by Alexis? Really? what a bunch of rubes!

Secondly, to be able to send the runabout to it's demise, Alexis clearly had to have some sort of technology available to her to pull that off, making her a hypocrite on top of all the other horrible things she's done to these people.

And thirdly, that former engineer, whatever the heck his name is, must not have been very good at what he did. It took O'Brien, what, two days to figure out what the hell was truly causing the field. That guy had 10 YEARS!!! Worst. Engineer. Ever.

The only pleasure i get out of this episode is to think that what's going through those kids minds at the very end is, "PLEASE TAKE US WITH YOU!"
Wed, Jun 17, 2015, 5:38pm (UTC -6)
I liked this episode - mostly. I think the problem is how this crazy woman is just let off the hook for what she did. She's basically a lying, deceitful bigot who tortures people she considers rogue. She's beyond contempt and I didn't buy the ending.
Wed, Jun 17, 2015, 6:40pm (UTC -6)

Didn't Sisko and Obrien take her off for trial at the end of the episode?
Thu, Jun 18, 2015, 4:38am (UTC -6)
I watched it again last night but I don't recall that. What was annoying is that the people she deceived stayed behind regardless and she was not given any kind of reprimand for what she'd done. "Look at what we've accomplished here, isn't it fun breaking your back and not seeing your families again all because I don't like technology?"

Kinda reminds me of the BSG finale.
Thu, Jun 18, 2015, 4:39am (UTC -6)
you're* sigh.
Thu, Jun 18, 2015, 4:40am (UTC -6)
Oh, I was right after all. Haha. Sorry about that Jammer, you may delete these two messages :P
Thu, Jun 18, 2015, 6:53am (UTC -6)
I'm 99% sure she was taken away for trial. That said, I agree with everything else you said. The fact that the people don't reprimand her is ludicrous. In real life she'd probably have been killed by the angry mob on the spot. They can't ALL have Stockholm Syndrome...
Wed, Jul 8, 2015, 10:50pm (UTC -6)
I thought it was a good episode. After 10 years, the people had been cowed into submission and become accustomed to someone else doing their thinking for them; they've had the same message repeated to them daily for 10 years. Unsurprising that they still repeat the same message even after their leader has been deposed.

I don't think the episode is endorsing the leader or her philosophy, as many of you are suggesting. It's about the power of the cult.

The colonists need a lot of counseling.

(And the leader & her son were being taken off for a trial at the end)
William B
Wed, Aug 5, 2015, 10:48am (UTC -6)
Yeah, agreed: Alixus is a villain. Now, either the colonists' total blank-stares (when being told that Alixus kidnapped them, let people die of diseases, sent their hope of escape into the sun, and generally has been lying to them and manipulating them for years) is because they are a fully brainwashed, Stockholm Syndrome cult, or because there really is something special about The Community and The Core Selves they found. Now, those two aren't mutually exclusive, and I think the episode is maybe meant to play the ambiguity, because simply having a whole group of people remain a brainwashed cult all episode is not the most dramatically satisfying of developments -- and, further, because if they really are *just* a brainwashed cult, then the specifics of Alixus' belief are totally irrelevant. So I do think that we are meant to at least partly believe that the colonists have found *something* good in their society. And on here, well, I think the onus is on this episode to demonstrate some good qualities of their society. Yes, it seems like it's nice to care about each other and be in touch with nature, and Joseph in particular seems a friendly, easygoing chap, but I find very little material in this episode to demonstrate what superior qualities people experience in themselves and in their relationship with others. Alixus' endless speeches regurgitating the same points are not sufficient; we have to have some evidence of the colonists' happiness at their society which is not instilled in them top-down from their cult leader.

And so without that counterbalance that there seems to be actual evidence that some good came out of this (besides the moderate good that would come out of *any* colonization, which would also presumably involve farming, small communities helping each other, and the like, just with padds and medicine), the episode mainly has the arc of starting with Alixus initially seeming like a pretentious windbag and developing into a full-blown psychopath. But really, not *that* slowly. Alixus is not even able to convey any of the pain she claims to have over her prehistoric punishments. As if we Didn't Get It, Alixus' villainy is paraded in front of us. My favourite detail is the way Stephen is put in solitary heat torture for stealing a candle, and then we later see Alixus sitting with *FOUR* candles at her nightstand while she writes the fiftieth volume of what is sure to become her autobiography and/or the required Bible; I wouldn't be surprised if Stephen stole a candle so that he can cram studying one of Alixus' textbooks for the upcoming exam on the evils of civilization not run by Alixus. This detail, along with the ridiculous attempt to buy Sisko with sexual favours, make her end speech incredibly funny -- Cassandra would be some technical clerk somewhere, instead of a part-time farm hand/part-time sex slave, and Stephen would be in prison, because a person who steals a candle has the criminal temperament, as opposed to the kidnapper who steals Runabouts. (I'm also reminded of a great line from The Simpsons after Bart is caught shoplifting: "Oh, sure, now he's just a little boy stealing little toys. But someday, he'll be a grown man stealing stadiums and - and quarries.") I gotta say, I also like how, despite us *not once* seeing any animals on the planet, Alixus' son wanders around with a bow and arrow and shoots O'Brien's uniform with (presumably) a killing blow.

With Alixus clearly crazy very early on, there is actually not that much to watch for in the rest of the episode, especially since Sisko's resistance to Alixus' philosophy does not seem to inspire *anyone* and only serves to demonstrate how badass Sisko is, which is, to be fair, rather badass. The O'Brien investigation works better, especially his moment with Joseph where he asks Joseph to turn around and promises him he can make it not hurt -- a pretty good payoff to the developing friendship between those two. But these plotting elements can't really sustain an episode alone, and the colonists, with the arguable exception of Joseph, remain completely static throughout.

I do like the idea presented in the comments here that the episode is partly about how a pre-industrial civilization would actually not be fun, and that the "simple life" many long for would actually be back-breaking, filled with uncurable diseases, and would probably have to be enforced with the total rejection of individual rights. And that sort of works. AND YET I don't really think that the colony actually bears much resemblance to ancient farming communities or medieval villages, but is primarily...you know, cults.

It is weird how Jake is not once mentioned as a reason that Sisko should damn well be allowed to leave the planet, though Keiko is mentioned (not Molly).

I do think the final shot is quite funny. After Joseph SPEAKS FOR THE COMMUNITY, no one else getting a say, the children stare dumbly at the torture-box where the nice men just left. TAKE US WITH YOU! It seems odd, since the children have actually not gotten any focus all episode, which one could take as evidence of how their voices have been silenced, etc., but I dunno.

Anyway, the battle of wills does have its moments but Alixus' villainy is too obvious and the colonists' idiocy too pronounced for this episode to hold my interest for more than about ten minutes, and so the rest of it is a difficult slog. Probably 1.5 stars.
William B
Wed, Aug 5, 2015, 10:51am (UTC -6)
To clarify further: I also do think that the total non-reaction of the colonists at the end really does beggar belief. Even if they are brainwashed, they would surely have *some* more reaction than none; and Joseph, willing to be knocked unconscious so that O'Brien can investigate, seems to have enough spark of selfhood to be able to identify that maybe some other colonists should get to say whether they want to leave or not and not be cowed into submission by his SPEAKING FOR THEM ALL. It's not that brainwashing is ineffective, but I don't think it is *this* effective.
Wed, Aug 26, 2015, 1:04pm (UTC -6)
She was a cult leader point blank, she was evil to the core. There's no difference between her or any other Trek villian. She's a cold hearted murderer.

It's reasonable that some of the colonists did nothing, they're still under the control of Alixus. However, some of them wouldn't be angered to the point of killing her.
Fri, Aug 28, 2015, 12:26am (UTC -6)
Sisko should have pimp handed her like he did to Garak. I would have.
Thu, Oct 8, 2015, 9:59pm (UTC -6)
I'd have liked to see how Bones handled her. I can imagine is anger.
Wed, Oct 21, 2015, 9:59am (UTC -6)
I think it sort of undermines Sisko and O'Brien that Alexis failed in destroying the Runabout. If Sisko had saved himself, rather than being saved by Dax and Kira, it would done more to establish him as being a worthy successor to Kirk and Picard. As it stands, he's just lucky.

The bigger problem is in the script writing. The episode is written like it's supposed to be illustrating shades of grey, but the nearly universal reaction is disgust. When Sisko reveals the truth behind the colony, he is saying something that should shake the very foundation of their society. Yet, not even one minute of screen time is devoted to a serious discussion of the issues. It reminds me of the episode Cardassians, in which the key decision of the story is made off-screen and without any explanation. I can't help but think this episode could have been improved by cutting some of the fluff and giving at least 7 minutes or so for both sides to air their arguments and giving the colonists some time (whom should not be unanimous in opinion) to struggle with their decision.

It's odd too, since I think the early seasons of DS9 has benefited from good pacing and structure even during its weaker episodes, unlike TNG which seemed to struggle with it so much early on.
Sat, Oct 24, 2015, 8:26pm (UTC -6)
I hated the ending to this episode, more than any other ending of any show I can think of. Because that smug psycho lunatic b***h got away with her plan. Sure she was taken into custody but she doesn't care, the idiot colonists all decided to stay so she gets to smile and revel in her victory.

The idea that the colonists would all stay is ludicrous; after they learn they were kidnapped and held prisoner there, after seeing so many of their friends and family members die needlessly, they still want to remain there because "it's their home". Give me a break!
Thu, Oct 29, 2015, 2:13pm (UTC -6)
I have recently started watching DS9 and so far this episode and Sanctuary have really pissed me off for roughly similar reasons. They are both just vessels for the writers to get preachy with us! (On a side note, I read the review for that one aswell. So far we have agreed on both episodes!)

I really enjoyed the battle between Sisko and Alexis. His determination is really powerful when he gets back into the box. Yet, the ending just falls flat on it's face (much like Sanctuary did!).

I really hope DS9 starts cutting this out from now on because, IIRC, these two episodes have pissed me off more than all of the bad episodes of TNG put together (Not including the movies, this episode is still better than insurrection).

1/4 stars

@Dave from NC: Your point about the witnesses made me laugh as well, I really wish someone made one of those how it really ends videos and shows how everyone has to leave anyway... Or Sisko just launches an orbital strike at Alexi's face... That works too.
Diamond Dave
Sat, Nov 14, 2015, 6:24am (UTC -6)
Very much a TNG-type episode, and also more reminiscent of a WWII prison camp drama than anything else. Probably the highlight is the battle of wills between Alixus and Sisko, two figures used to being in authority butting heads and neither willing to back down.

Of course it speeds things to a conclusion that Alixus is just a bit unhinged, but I have no real problems with the ending as Joseph accepts that there might be changes. 3 stars.
Mon, Dec 28, 2015, 6:42am (UTC -6)
I liked the episode. I thought the actress who played Alixus was a convincing cult leader/dictator being both persuasive and creepy at the same time.

I agree that she was let off way too easy by the colonists. She kidnapped them and was directly responsible for the deaths of many of their friends and loved ones. She was guilty murder through depraved indifference to human life. I could see some of the colonists/cult members remaining loyal, but many would have wanted to tear her and her son to shreds.

I enjoyed Sisko's defiance of her tyranny, especially when he got back into the box.

I do think it was unrealistic that she would need to go to the lengths she did to establish her low tech lifestyle. Why didn't she recruit like minded people?

Also, lots of people in the Trek universe ate unreplicated food, including Sisko and his family. The Bajorans were farmers and Picard's brother still grew grapes at the family vineyard.

It seemed clear that a low or lower tech existence was possible within the Federation.

Wed, Feb 10, 2016, 9:27pm (UTC -6)
Lessons learned:

1. It's totally OK to perform your own mass social experiments without asking anyone involved if they want to be a part of it, as long as you eventually get them to drink the Kool Aid.

2. O'Brien can do things with a rock in water that folks living with no technology for 10 years couldn't even possibly dream of.

Thanks, writers.

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