Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Homefront"

****

Air date: 1/1/1996
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by David Livingston

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"This business has got you so twisted around you can't think straight. You're seeing shapeshifters everywhere." — Joseph Sisko to son Benjamin

Nutshell: Excellent. A gripping tale of paranoia making the best use of the Dominion yet.

Now I'm impressed. Not only has Deep Space Nine managed to get through the first leg of the season without a loser episode, it continues to show more promise with its arc development. "Homefront" is both a strong character story and a plausible intrigue outing. It's the best episode since "The Visitor," and considering how good the season has been, that is saying quite a bit.

A Changeling spy bombs a conference on Earth, killing 27 people—an act of murder of such magnitude which the planet hasn't experienced in over a century. As a result, Admiral Leyton of Starfleet Command (Robert Foxworth), Sisko's mentor and commanding officer from his days serving on the USS Okinawa, calls Sisko to Earth and appoints him Acting Head of Earth Security so he can oversee the implementation of security procedures which have proven effective in detecting Changelings on DS9. Odo comes along as the expert on shapeshifters. Hoping for some family time while on Earth, Sisko brings along Jake, and the two stay with Ben's father, Joseph Sisko (Brock Peters).

Sisko's security procedures are a start, but do not prove entirely effective against the craftier of shapeshifters; within days of the new system coming on line, a Changeling spy is still able to trespass on Starfleet Headquarters grounds, masquerade as Admiral Leyton, and easily escape. The new security measures are still not sound, however, President of the Federation Jaresh-Inyo (Herschel Sparber) will only allow so much in terms of security. He cannot justify anything more extreme. Earth is paradise, and he does not want to jeopardize paradise by turning it into a military organization where civilians are forced to submit to blood screenings.

There's a very effective scene where Sisko convinces the President how serious the Dominion threat really is by walking into his office with a briefcase for a meeting. The briefcase is really Odo, who morphs into his humanoid form much to the President's surprise. I'm amazed I didn't identify the briefcase as Odo right away, but the scene does such a good job of sidetracking us that it's as much of a surprise to us as to the President.

"Homefront," however, is not just another Dominion intrigue story like "The Adversary." This episode is about people, and how being in constant fear of an invisible invasion affects their lives. Earth is supposed to be paradise, but it never feels like it in this episode. Everybody is scared and paranoid. Tensions haven't been as high on the planet since the Borg incident. Present here, which wasn't in "Adversary," is a very strong character undercurrent. The episode's best scenes are those between Ben and his father. Early scenes do a wonderful job of establishing Joseph and his famous New Orleans' restaurant. The restaurant is a convincing set with pleasing details that go a long way in establishing a welcome, homey tone in spite of Earth's present crisis. Brock Peters turns in an impressive portrayal of the stubborn, elderly Sisko, whose health problems have both his son and grandson getting on his case to take better care of himself. The writers are very accurate in their portrayal of Joseph being old and inflexible. When Ben asks him why he never visits Deep Space Nine, Joseph replies "Who would run the restaurant?" Anyone with elderly relatives has heard this line before. At the same time, Peters seems perfectly cast as Ben's father; there's an aura of natural charisma between him and Avery Brooks.

Later in the episode, the tone becomes dramatically charged when Starfleet security officers try to take blood samples from Joseph, under Ben's own new security condition requiring relatives of all high ranking officers to be blood-screened for Changeling infiltration. Joseph adamantly refuses on principle, telling Ben that he never took an oath to Starfleet, and despite Earth's current paranoia, he'll be damned if he's going to adhere to ridiculous security measures and live his life in fear. Ben just wishes his father would cooperate for once, instead of being so obstinate. This is a powerful scene—well acted by both Brooks and Peters—and it feels genuinely accurate because the crisis situation fits together in a plausible manner with relevant day-to-day human issues. Distracted by the argument, Joseph cuts himself while chopping vegetables, and suddenly Ben finds himself uncontrollably staring at the blood, almost expecting it to reveal Changeling properties. It does not, and Joseph is appalled—his own son thought he was a shapeshifter.

This highlights the episode's theme, which at the moment is probably the most relevant theme in the series. To quote Odo's very precise words, "That's why my people came here; to undermine the trust and mutual understanding the Federation is built on." The funny thing about this whole scene is that I was actually half-expecting Joseph's blood to morph into Changeling liquid. "Homefront" allows us to truly understand Ben's fear and paranoia, because it has a way of making the threat seem extremely real. This is very, very well done. I haven't felt this engrossed in a Star Trek threat since TNG's "Best of Both Worlds."

The last two acts step away from this theme somewhat in order to continue developing a plot to leave us hanging until part two. Suddenly, there's a massive power outage (the entire planet, if you can swallow that), knocking out the entire planetary defense network and leaving Earth defenseless. Suspecting this sabotage is the first step of a Dominion strike, Sisko and Leyton ask the President to declare a state of emergency—something that, aside from the Borg emergency, hasn't happened in over 100 years. This way they can put armed officers on the streets to resist a possible Jem'Hadar invasion force.

President Jaresh-Inyo is reluctant to do this—he doesn't want to be remembered as the president who put arms on every street of Planet Paradise—but he ultimately agrees. There is no other option. If the Dominion attack without encountering some sort of resistance, Paradise will be more than lost—it will be destroyed.

Previous episode: Our Man Bashir
Next episode: Paradise Lost

Season Index

94 comments on this review

Wendel - Sun, Oct 26, 2008 - 1:42am (USA Central)
You might want to add a commentary upon this review about the post-9/11 world. It is interesting that Trek was still so prescient even during the DS9 era. TOS and TNG were great technological and progressive mediums for the 20th century. DS9 was viewed negatively by traditional trek fans back in the 1990's, but today I can bet you most traditional trek fans have changed their tune.

The dark allegories and the drive of war with its intrigue and double-edged morality makes this Trek, the vision of the 21st century. DS9 is the series for today, but it came far too early to have its impact on us.

Terrorism, paranoia, religious conflicts, factional divisions, wars, and political intrigue belong to the 21st century.

Homefront is a delicate story that makes you feel like a 9/11 size event occured in the deferation. An enemy that we know has been out for years has finally struck us. The reactions are both subtle and overt. Large changes in the structure of military and civilian command structures. It feels like it was written and done for our current audiences.

DS9 and Battlestar pushed the envelope of human endurance and human capacity. Episodes like Homefront and In the Pale moonlight of the later season 6 are the greatest epitaphs to this amazing series.
Brendan - Sun, Jan 11, 2009 - 2:07am (USA Central)
Yes, I caught a re-run of this on TV the other day and while I remember the plot more or less, it certainly took on a new light all these years later.
Damien - Wed, Jun 17, 2009 - 9:52am (USA Central)
Excellent episode, very well done. However one thing just didn't make sense – the blood tests. What happens after you have been tested (to be human)? Why can't a changeling assume someone's identity at a point after they were tested? The only way a blood test would work is if all people tested are monitored continuously thereafter, and there's no way that can be done unless you confine everyone.
Jayson - Sun, Jun 28, 2009 - 9:06pm (USA Central)
Damien, not only that but Joe Sisko said something that Ben just ignores. Basically that a shapeshifter could absorb some blood and let it out on cue. The only way to get around that little trick is to check the DNA its self. Also, he made the point that there has never been a test that a clever man couldn't get around. However I suppose its all Starfleet has to go with.
Brian - Mon, Jul 6, 2009 - 7:51pm (USA Central)
It's interesting that someone would chose to run a restaurant in a money-free society. For fun? Has trek's federation society ever been explained in such a way that would answer this. I'm a trek fan but not an obsessive so I don't know the a to z. I just remember several references to not using money anymore.
Damien - Wed, Jul 22, 2009 - 9:58am (USA Central)
Brian, no it doesn't make any sense. There is no way a modern economy/society can function without some kind of a monetary system, no matter what the year. It's just another Roddenberrian Utopian vision, like the elevation of the human race to almost saintly status.
Jay - Fri, Sep 4, 2009 - 11:47pm (USA Central)
Yeah...the moneyless society (even though somehow Starfleet personnel could fund their frequent trips to Quark's bar and holosuites) ...the nonexistence of interpersonal conflict (even though the half-deity Sisko was bothered to distraction about a Vulcan usurping his favorite sport)...Gene was a certifiable nut, to be sure.
Nic - Sun, Dec 6, 2009 - 9:51pm (USA Central)
A lot of people think gene's vision was that technology would solve everything. But that is simply not the case. In Star Trek, technology is exploited where it needs to e exploited, but the relationship ends there. In Gene's future (which I sincerely believe will happen, if not in 400 years, then maybe 1000) there is no need for money because people can find pleasure simply in helping others and in improving themselves. There are probably a few who sit at home all day and play videogames, but most would find something that they are really passionate for (like cooking) and find a way to use it to make people's lives a little bit better. It's not that hard to imagine. Even in the 21st century, huamns are not as self-centered as one might think. Look at all the charity and volunteer work that is being done all around the world, it was unheard of 400 years ago. Thanks to modern forms of communications, we can no more and more about what is happening all over the planet, and feel compassion for those who are suffering as well. It will take time, but we will manage to create a paradise when we realize that it IS possible.
Mal - Sat, Mar 20, 2010 - 12:08am (USA Central)
@ Brian & Damien

It's interesting that someone would chose to run a website with trek reviews for free. For fun?

And even if some nut-case did set up such a site, there is no way anyone else would add to it for free. For fun? So no point having a comments option at all...
Brian - Sat, Mar 20, 2010 - 9:19am (USA Central)
Well that clinches it. Obviously the fact that people make websites and post comments for free means that in the future people will offer goods and services for free all for passion.

And in the future people won't dare ask what is the background to a future world portrayed in a tv show because they'll just get sarcastic posts for free in response.
Damien - Sat, Mar 20, 2010 - 6:40pm (USA Central)
Nic says: "In Gene's future (which I sincerely believe will happen, if not in 400 years, then maybe 1000) there is no need for money because people can find pleasure simply in helping others and in improving themselves. "

Yes, that is the touchy-feely Utopia spouted by Roddenberry, which simply makes no sense. How will all the toys be paid for? Who makes them? Who develops them and improves them and why? Why would anyone invent a tri-corder and give it away? By what method can you acquire things? Can anyone choose to live in hilltop mansions, drive expensive vehicles and acquire anything they wish? If not, why not?

Economic activity requires growth and trade (ie, some kind of a monetary system). In lieu of that, what you're left with is extreme socialism (look how well that worked) or plain old slavery were growth is achieved through forced labour of a subclass. That's why Roddenberry's ideas are an unachievable Utopia, both now and in hundreds of years.

Also, human nature hasn't really changed much in tens of thousands of years and I see no evidence that it will in the next few hundred years. There will always be conflicts, either between nations, societies or individuals. People will always want to get away with as much as they can (that doesn't mean that everyone secretly wants to rob a bank or kill someone they don't like).

Conversely, even tens of thousands of years ago, some people behaved altruistically, for their families or close clan members, for example. They co-operated with the next tribe for mutual benefit or fought them to maximize their own benefits through reduced competition.

Bottom line is, a society comprising a large set of individuals will need a monetary/trading system to sustain it, will have individuals will greater or lesser power, will have freeloaders, conflicts and co-operation and sets of laws which must be obeyed for the benefit of society as a whole.
Xionous - Thu, Apr 1, 2010 - 2:55am (USA Central)
It's interesting to try to comment on a universe where there is little need to worry over food, water and medical needs as all can be replicated. Where all Entertainment can be downloaded or travelled to easily as desired.

In such a world people could follow their curiosities. The sciences would thrive as people with common interests get together to explore the world around them, knowledge would be freely shared leading to rapid advancement. People will invent and create through nessesity in order to find a better way to do something. Exploration of the arts would also be common, with people sharing their creations in an effort to simply perfect what they like doing.

People who are good at what they do would rise to the top of their fields through recognition. Others will pick and change what they do until they settle on something they like or do nothing.

In such a world where everything you desire is free morals will change and crime would be limited. Crimes of passion would still exist and things will need to be maintained and managed.

A central orgnaisation of volunteers could organise the maintinance of law, security and infrastrucure (Yellow shirt). Managing conflicts and resource distribution to those who need them (Red shirt). Also organisation of the sciences could also be maintained centrally (Blue shirts). Not everyone would be up to the task so test people for ability as they enter, train them, place them where needed and promote those who excel.

It's not hard to imagine Roddenbery's Earth coming to life with the right technology being shared and some co-operation.
Nic - Tue, Apr 27, 2010 - 3:30pm (USA Central)
Damien, don't worry, I, like you, know Star Trek is a simple Ark allegory and that a world with no hunger, no poverty, no greed and no selfishness will probable never exist.. And to quote Corey Hunt, "I also know that Barack Obama is unlikely to be a Noah who's taking us all to a Roddenberry-flavored utopia. But damn if they both don't inspire people–and for much of the right reasons. Because the muchness of the power they have, comes from the grassroots optimism regular folks gain from their example."

In other words, if Star Trek's positive view of the future encourages people TODAY to help make the world a better place, than I for one need no further justification to continue to strive towards that positive future.
KingofMadCows - Tue, Dec 21, 2010 - 1:41am (USA Central)
They never actually expanded on the no money concept. For all we know, it could just mean that there's no government backed money.

The Federation government provides the basic needs for people like food, water, and shelter, but if you want something more, like your own shuttle craft or holosuite, you'd have to work for a privately owned business.
Stubb - Thu, Jul 7, 2011 - 2:30pm (USA Central)
OK, let me be the grinch to rain on Homefront's parade. The wooden overacting and strained "family" dialogue between the three Siskos just about sinks this episode. I cringed watching the banter between Joseph and Benjamin. And this is not just the script's fault. Both of them were over-emoting ridiculously, especially in the first half hour.
Second, the post-9/11 comparisons. Yes, DS9 was prescient here. But the issue is handled SO ham-handedly as to negate its impact. The sledgehammer treatment of difficult issues does nothing to challenge thought. Is this simply because we've all lived through these tough questions since 9/11? I can't say.
Third, the 'no money' question. Not to get all Ayn Randian here, but would you really work and invest precious time for nothing? I mean really? Doctors are great, but would you spend decades in school and residency (grade 1 on up) for nothing? Lifesaving drugs are great, but if it costs 10 billion dollars to create 10 new drugs, 9 of which fail, what company would do that with no payoff? Human nature does not change.

Actually, it seems to me that one of the few places this fantasy might function is (drumroll) on a starship. Space exploration is so thrilling and rewarding that, yes, people might just train for years to explore space for free.
Captain Tripps - Sat, Sep 17, 2011 - 4:00pm (USA Central)
"Human nature never changes"

That would be sad, if it were true. Thankfully, it's not. What does human nature even mean? Societies have existed in the past, and some still do TODAY, without the need for money. It may be hard to conceptualize for us, because we are very much dependent on the structure of our current economy, but most of the is dependent on the limited availability of basic resources. Heck, people from 100 years ago would be appalled at our system of fiat currency, as opposed to their usage of gold and silver standards, which tied the value of money to a rare, obtainable unit. We might as well be calling it credits and making everything digital, money is a completely constructed and artificial concept, when not tied to actual physical assets, and even then the value is usually based on whim and fancy, gold isn't worth what it is because it's a good conductor.

I mean in Trek, you can create diamonds in the replicator. It's a post scarcity society. Capitalism would be useless under those circumstances, since it's predicated on some people having what other people need.

The Elder Sisko doesn't cook to make ends meet. he does it because it brings him joy, as does, obviously, mingling with his customers. People join Starfleet for the opportunity to explore the galaxy, and to serve humanity. Even today, do you want the doctor who loves practicing medicine, or the one who's in it for the biggest paycheck? Do your kids talk about their future careers in terms of how much they'll make, or what they think they'd enjoy doing with their lives. Now imagine being able to maintain that into adulthood, imagine THAT as reality.

Gene's conceit is not so much that we wouldn't need money, because we don't need money, the system we have now does; His vision was that, if and when we were able to solve the basic problem of limited resources, humanity would change enough to take full advantage of the new opportunities that leap, that singularity, would offer our species.

Also, loved this episode, love this show (my favorite Trek series), liking the reviews and discussion.
Weyoun - Wed, Oct 19, 2011 - 4:14pm (USA Central)
@Tripps:

One slight problem with your proposed Trekkian post-scarcity society: if you take that proposition to its logical conclusion, it is scientifically impossible, by virtue of mass-energy conservation.

You can create diamonds in the replicator, but presumably what is happening is that the replicator is pulling molecules from some source (recycled waste, outer space, etc.), expend energy, and it into your desired product. Well, that's all fine and good, but at some point, you are going to be running out of readily accessible usable raw material unless you impose a limit on the size of the population (but that will probably result in significant rights violations, judging by how well it's been implemented in China, something Trek would very strongly oppose).

And even if you manage to limit your consumption of raw material, eventually you are going to run out of usable energy as per the second law of thermodynamics - what will you do then?

My point is not that the Trek ethos is not something we should be working towards, but rather that we need to be a bit realistic about how far we can push the vision. I'd imagine that some form of limited capitalism would still have to be around, but that it will be sufficiently limited that greed (unfortunately, an inescapable part of human nature, in my opinion) will not have too much of an negative impact on society.
Stubb - Sat, Oct 22, 2011 - 11:38am (USA Central)
Tripps, your points are well-taken. Of course I wish it were so. But like Weyoun, I fear any optimism about human beings doing things "for the love of it" breaks down when taken to its logical conclusion.

Let's return to the drug company example. The issue is not that I don't want lifesaving drugs created; we all do. But I can't create any. You know why? Not only because I don't have the expertise, but because I don't have ten billion dollars -- nine of which will probably be wasted just to create a single viable drug. That money pays for the time, the effort, the knowledge, and the materials necessary to create these miracle medicines. This ten billion dollars (aka 'investment') comes from stockholders and R&D funds (i.e. previous earnings), and was put up in hopes of a financial reward at the end of the whole process. In other words, literally tens of thousands of people have contributed their time, investment, and expertise to create that single drug over the course of many years. One person who 'loves what he does' could never accomplish this -- chances are he has neither the knowledge nor the 10 billion dollars. It's therefore my contention that if we take away the promise of reward, that $10B worth of time and expertise coordinated among tens of thousands of people never gets applied, and we have no miracle drugs.

Where your optimism falters is in branding "money" as its own separate entity, and therefore superfluous to this process. Money is not 'one' thing in this equation -- it represents ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. The time, the investment, the knowledge, the effort, but most importantly the *motivation* for 10000 people to get together in our diverse society and create that life-saving drug. Take that away, and we might all still be living in caves, rubbing sticks together.

Oh, and one more point -- guess where some of the profit our drug company makes off its massive investment goes? Into creating the next miracle drug. And on we go.
Stubb - Sat, Oct 22, 2011 - 11:51am (USA Central)
Sorry, two more things.

Tripps, you assume that money won't be necessary in a 'post-scarcity' society, because nobody will ever need anything from anyone else. This overlooks the valuable commodities known as knowledge and expertise -- aka, SERVICES. Unless each of us knows everything, lawyers and doctors and plumbers will still have to work for each other, performing these services. Whether we'd be willing to do all this work for free remains to be seen.

And finally...Since a million years of human history and societal evolution have left us with capitalism as our best alternative, I find it hard to believe a couple of hundred years will be enough time to completely replace it with something 'better'. Sorry to say this, but given our entrenched 'human nature', maybe capitalism is the best we can do.
Dexter - Fri, Oct 28, 2011 - 6:25am (USA Central)
"And finally...Since a million years of human history and societal evolution have left us with capitalism as our best alternative"

Very poor logic. 200 years ago, you could have said "And finally...Since a million years of human history and societal evolution have left us with mercantilism and slavery as our best alternative"
Jay - Sat, Nov 12, 2011 - 12:40pm (USA Central)
How can Nog "have the grades to qualify" for Red Squad after only a month?
Aliem - Sun, Nov 27, 2011 - 12:45pm (USA Central)
"And finally...Since a million years of human history and societal evolution have left us with capitalism as our best alternative"

A million years of biological evolution, certainly. Recorded history is a handful of millenia long, while behavioral modernity dates back to the Great Leap Forward about fifty millenia ago. Given the accelerating pace of change - compare the last ten centuries of technological and cultural change - it's not so unrealistic to see some utopian ideal as possible.

The only barrier here is a lack of vision and political will. Unfortunately, cynicism is a powerful force and *that* is what probably rules out utopia: our belief that it's impossible, which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Stubb - Sun, Feb 19, 2012 - 10:39am (USA Central)
"200 years ago, you could have said -- And finally...Since a million years of human history and societal evolution have left us with mercantilism and slavery as our best alternative"

On most topics I'd agree with you. As I said, "maybe" capitalism is the best we can do. (Insert "Omega Glory" Constitution joke here.) But above all else in a civilization, things need to get done. This whole thread was based on the question of whether a Trek-style approach could actually get people to do things, whether it's exploring space or washing dishes. I wish it were so. But I still contend that the only consistent way to get people to do things (especially big things) is the promise of reward, AKA greed. Call it capitalism, call it money-grubbing, call it whatever you want. But in order for a Trek-style 'utopia' to have a prayer of working, human nature would have to change. And I don't believe it ever will.
Just a fan - Fri, Sep 14, 2012 - 10:01pm (USA Central)
I actually like this episode and found it very provocative even in the 1990's.

To comment the above point about Trek realism:

If you want a future with money and war, but still has hope for humanity, watch Babylon 5.

If you want a future without money and only the occasional Intergalactic war, watch DS9.

For realism basis, I think JMS was more prescient in Babylon 5 about the issues of a potential future for mankind based on our base issues of greed and desire for self-improvement. His two questions: Who are you? and What do you want? are immortal for that purpose.

For Altruism, I'd prefer Gene Roddenberry's vision of humanity being able to rise above our humble problems and become explorer. Roddenberry whole idea is "to seek out new life and new Civilization. To bodly go where no one has gone before." Those are principles far beyond simple human issue and prejudices.
James K. - Sat, Sep 29, 2012 - 9:20pm (USA Central)
@Stubb

The one thing you fail to recognize is that money is a means of dividing up limited resources.

In a universe where biological waste (anything, including feces, grass clippings, fallen leaves, etc) and anything else like dirt and water can be converted into nearly anything, commodities become infinte. There is no need for money to purchase these items.

Also, we're talking nigh-infinite energy. From fusion to anti-matter reactors to whatever else is used, renewable energy is not an issue.

Transportation is another thing that, at least on a planetary scale, would not be burdensome.

On to health care: I'm sure if you asked a doctor, "if school was free, you lived for free, and the only thing left was your passion to help people, would you need to be paid?", most would say no and still be a doctor.

As far as the grunt work, most of it would be taken care of by the military (a la Starfleet). I reality, infrastructure would probably be maintained by a conscription peace corps that would be the 'cost' of a full education.

By time you get down to it all, money is needed today to get you a share of the finite resources in the world. In a world where energy as well as commodities are infinite, money is no longer needed. Want a boat? Go to an industrial replicator. To keep people from going completely crazy with that type of stuff, of course, you could setup a credit type system for the industrial replicators, but whatever. That's more to manage people not going crazy and buying things for the sake of buying them, not because of finite resources.

However, in a society where you can get whatever you want, you don't have to starve, and you won't go cold, crime becomes almost non existant (except for maybe crimes of passion).

I dunno. Sounds like a good deal to me.
William - Mon, Oct 15, 2012 - 7:51pm (USA Central)
Getting back to the episode, I loved it. It was great before 9/11, and afterward, even more so.

The whole thing fit in so well with the entire Dominion story arc.
trent - Wed, May 8, 2013 - 9:57pm (USA Central)
Money and interest are scams - Edison and Einstein even said so - so will be abolished as soon as the populace wakes up and does some research. Star Trek's quasi communist future isn't only possible, abolishing money is vital if we hope to progress as a species. Capitalism requires a constantly expanding GDP and the planet wont be able to take it much longer.
Paul - Wed, Aug 21, 2013 - 7:42pm (USA Central)
The actual world depicted in Star Trek is misleading - they still use humans in most jobs. The reality of the future will most likely be a world where machines do virtually every job and humans don't have to do anything.

Imagine a world populated with only very few humans and millions of Lt. Commander Datas (or even better the replicants from Blade Runner that are virtually indistinguishable from human). They are our robotic slaves and can do anything we ask them. What would be the point of capitalism then? What job could a human possibly have when you have androids that are better than human in every way?
Corey - Tue, Oct 8, 2013 - 8:42pm (USA Central)
How is Homefront ahead of its time? It's your typical right-wing paranoia episode that DS9 loved to milk. So here we have evil terrorists infiltrating the perfect West and threatening to run amok. DS9, thankfully, remembers Drumhead and paints the Federation as the bad guys and overly paranoid, but the series as a whole eventually sides against the boogeyman enemy of the shapeshifters. It's the equivalent of a 9/11 movie blaming instead of siding with "terrorists" and "Middle Easterners". TNG sides with the East, DS9 paints them as Breen, Shapeshifters and one-dimensional enemies. History is littered with those in power demonizing the Other. Star Trek is supposed to have moved beyond that, but DS9 presents the old false dichotomies and false binaries. Picard would have used his brain to think his way out of a Dominion War.



Corey - Tue, Oct 8, 2013 - 9:13pm (USA Central)
To those above: socialism "didnt fail". Propaganda has taught most people that "evil countries" were "dictatorial socialists". That couldnt be further from the truth. Indeed, it is capitalist nations that have waged war with, killed and destabalized every democratically elected left wing government and put psychos in its place (Hitler was initially supported by the West precisely because he was killing Marxist/left-wing jewish movements!- the kings in Russia and England, who were related to the aristocracy in Germany, couldnt be happier). Communism cuts into corporate profits so those in power destroy it. They couped Haiti 4 times in the past 10 years and nobody cared. This has happened in virtually every country over the past century.
Kotas - Wed, Oct 23, 2013 - 12:56pm (USA Central)

Good start to a solid 2-parter.

7/10
DLPB - Sat, Feb 8, 2014 - 7:57pm (USA Central)
This is yet another episode by left wing socialists, who try to convince their audience that real life threats are a lie. If we removed all our security from airports, would you trust going on a plane? Of course not. The reason terrorists choose other targets is precisely BECAUSE the security is more tight at airports now.

In Star Trek Leftie world, there is no threat. If Changelings really existed, they would have easily swept aside the Earth portrayed in Trek, because its entire system is like a five year old made it. The Changelings would have run amok.

Thankfully, in the real world, we have people who think logically making a lot of the decisions- not left wing retards who don't live in the real world.
Paul M. - Sat, Feb 8, 2014 - 9:13pm (USA Central)
Corey said: "It's your typical right-wing paranoia episode"

DLPB said: "This is yet another episode by left wing socialists"

Gotta love these comments! :)
Elliott - Sat, Feb 8, 2014 - 9:31pm (USA Central)
Aw, Paul you beat me to it!

I was going to say I found DLPB's comment ironic given the fact that DS9 is infamous for being the most right-wing of the Treks. In fairness though, I think "Paradise Lost" back tracks significantly from this ideology. Of course if "Homefront" was, to you, a celebration of fascist apologia, PL is a salve to that sickening philosophy. If, however, HF was, to you, a reality check against the progressive ideology of Trek, PD must read as a frightened retreat. Don't worry, DLPB, DS9 gets (for the most part) more and more right wing with ensuing seasons.
Paul M. - Mon, Feb 10, 2014 - 2:14pm (USA Central)
@Elliott

I generally dislike labeling stuff as left- or right-wing; too much baggage attached for my tastes. If I had to try... all Trek series have fundamentally leftist tendencies: they espouse liberal and humanistic values, common good, and all those pretty catch words that make me tingle in them nice places ;)

I wouldn't say DS9 is anything close to right-wing (just watch 24), but it does ask its characters unpleasant questions. I generally agree with Sisko's great line "it's easy to be a saint in paradise". In TNG, our crew was (almost?) never faced with a conundrum that can't be solved with some goodwill and strong morals. DS9 doesn't deny that those values have a place, but it confronts them with situations that can't be resolved with high-minded principles. Sisko doesn't lie and cheat in ITPM, Feds lose the war. Simple as that. I'm not saying he did the right thing (who is the arbiter of that, anyway), but there it is. He sacrificed a piece of his soul to avoid what he considered "game over".

That's why I hold immense respect for both TNG and DS9. In my eyes, those shows aren't about Roddenberry, or right and wrong. They are first and foremost about a group of principled and moral people trying their best to do right by themselves, their values, and the people who depend on them. Sisko and Co were simply dealt harsher (one could say unfair) cards with greater stakes involved.

I remember you on several occasions expressing disgust with the Maquis. While you have the right to your opinion, of course, I couldn't help but notice how one-sided and unsympathetic your viewpoints seemed (I don't intend to sound belittling). Were the Maquis misguided? Knowing how they ended up, you could say so. They alienated both sides in the conflict which was bound to end up badly for them. But that's not the issue. You might say DS9 agrees with you as the show made the pay for their folly in the end. The Maquis were never intended to be seen as the "good guys". Or the "bad guys", for that matter. They were the desperate people who had two choices: leave their homes or stay under an oppressive regime. They chose the third way. It was ill-fated, it turned out to be a disaster, but they were imperfect people presented with a multitude of bad choices and they just... chose badly. Sisko was then forced to pick up the pieces the best he could.

It's easy to stick labels to things we don't agree with. It'd be better if we were to try and understand them first.
Elliott - Mon, Feb 10, 2014 - 4:01pm (USA Central)
@Paul M.

I (hope I) do see the point you're making here..."left" and "right" are not particularly useful except in particular contexts. For example, I would say that Admiral Satie is "right" wing character in the Federation, but her views track very left from, say contemporary America.

Regarding the Maquis and virtually every other proxy by which DS9 supposedly "asked difficult questions," I found the arguments specious. The Maquis (following from the introduction of the ubiquitous Indians in "Journey's End") were unwilling to give up their homes for the good of the peace treaty with Cardassia. Now, if that compromise were to mean a serious sacrifice on the part of the colonists, the arguments that surfaced over the years could make some sense and actually make the Federation deal with an unsustainable problem. But the Federation is VAST and material needs are universally met. That is an essential prerequisite to the Star Trek Universe. So, that means the Maquis are endangering Federation citizens, threatening peace, thieving and betraying Starfleet...and all because they want to live on THIS planet and not THAT one, because of some tenuous emotional attachment. That's ridiculously childish, petty and downright despicable. Anyway, the point is that the "conflict" regarding the Maquis is totally false and contrived. The same is true of the Bajoran Prophets and the religion(s) which surround them, and the Ferengi capitalist joke, and the Section 31 scenario and, as here, the Changeling paranoia.

If you read my comments on the ITPML page, you'll see that I don't fault the episode its political dilemma, but the idea that, at that point in the series, Sisko would feel so torn up about what he did is simply ludicrous. He had previously demonstrated (from the pilot episode onward in fact) that he was perfectly happy to both kill people and violate Federation principles.

Philosophically, it's not so difficult to understand the difference between conservatism and progressivism: conservatives idealise the past, progressives idealise the future; conservatives prefer the status quo, progressives always seek change. The built-in irony of course is that, as time passes, that which was once a progressive point of view becomes the norm (at which point, the conservative perspective because moot and the progressive becomes the status quo). Thus that for which the progressive advocated becomes that which the conservative defends. The point is, the progressive ideology is always next step forward and the conservative ideology is doomed to be forgot.
DLPB - Mon, Feb 10, 2014 - 5:59pm (USA Central)
Don't worry, DLPB, DS9 gets (for the most part) more and more right wing with ensuing seasons.
======

No, it doesn't. It's thiny veiled socialism all the way through (I've watched them all), albeit not as blatant as TNG. I don't mind left wing or right wing episodes as long as there is a balance during the show. As long as the show is clever and well written. For the most part, DS9 can't hold a candle to Babylon 5 (which it plagiarized).

I like Star Trek for a bit of mild entertainment, but it simply isn't to B5s quality. The writing is too childish and illogical. The episode I watched today was To the Death, and in it, the Federations mortal enemy, the Jem'Hadar, actually TEAM UP. That's beyond idiotic. I wouldn't mind so much, but these types of illogical goings on happen at a frightening rate across all of Trek.

So as I said... mild entertainment. Trek is interesting, mildly entertaining, but also grossly overrated.
Elliott - Mon, Feb 10, 2014 - 6:42pm (USA Central)
Well, there's more to a leftist philosophy than "thinly veiled socialism". DS9 obviously still had to occasionally concede that humans aren't supposed to have money, but frequently and quite purposefully contradicted this point. Many Ferengi episodes and the awful "In the Cards" come to mind, but it's all over the place.

Economics aside, progressive attitudes towards war, diplomacy, medicine, revolution, militarism, espionage, sexuality (with the notable and wonderful exception of "Chimera") and race are all (poorly) taken to task over the years. I've never seen B5 and can't comment on the comparison, but Trek, for all it's fun bits, achieves the stratum of great speculative fiction for its ability to tap into innate mythology so well. There are a number of episodes across the series that rival anything put on television since the medium has existed. I am sorry that it doesn't appeal to you on that deeper level, however, since your political bias appears to point rightward, I can see how what for many of us is riveting commentary comes across as naïve speculation.
Corey - Tue, Feb 11, 2014 - 6:44pm (USA Central)
"DS9 doesn't deny that those values have a place, but it confronts them with situations that can't be resolved with high-minded principles."

By setting up strawmen, ticking-clock scenarios and boogeymen villains who pose an existential threat to human values.

In other words, the usual right-wing con job.

Kiplin called this The White Man's Burden; the idea that you have to get a little dirty and slaughter a couple Indians to preserve order. It's a false dichotomy. The other Treks knew this.
Paul M. - Tue, Feb 11, 2014 - 8:59pm (USA Central)
@Corey: By setting up strawmen, ticking-clock scenarios and boogeymen villains who pose an existential threat to human values."

I don't know what this has to do with anything. Is BSG right-wing or left-wing? Does Tigh's willingness to blow people up mean the show celebrates suicide bombers? Do you think Ron Moore stands by that ideology? Or does it, perhaps, mean that the writers are interested to see how the characters react when put in impossible situations? The writers, on BSG as well as on DS9, want to see what makes these people tick and to what lengths they are willing to go to fight for what they believe in. It seems so naive, self-congratulating even, to think in these petty terms of "promoting an agenda".

As for Kipling, you completely lost me. What kind of hyperbole is that? Who's the white man in DS9? Who's Indians? What are you talking about?
Paul M. - Tue, Feb 11, 2014 - 9:18pm (USA Central)
@Elliott: "The Maquis (...) were unwilling to give up their homes for the good of the peace treaty with Cardassia. (...) But the Federation is VAST and material needs are universally met. (...) So, that means the Maquis are endangering Federation citizens, threatening peace, thieving and betraying Starfleet...and all because they want to live on THIS planet and not THAT one, because of some tenuous emotional attachment. That's ridiculously childish, petty and downright despicable."

And here exactly lies my problem with your views. You don't think in terms of specific, living and breathing human beings, you seem to operate in blanket terms of right and wrong. "Their universal need are met, therefore any emotional attachement to their home is tenuous and petty and indirectly leads to war." What kind of disturbing logic is this? The idea that people should just up and leave their homes just because some politicians said so is... just wrong. And then to be called despicable for daring to oppose those who terrorised and killed them... I don't know what to say but to hope you never have to go through that kind of ordeal. It smacks so hard of high-minded self-righteousness I'm left speechless.

And even if you were right, and the Maquis were simply morons that didn't deserve any sympathy - what of the civilians, kids, old people? Should Sisko, should we as viewers simply laugh in their faces because they are "unevolved" humans in the supposedly evolved 24th century?

Self-righteousness and theoretical chest-thumping are among the greatest pitfalls of modern politically-minded people. And I'm afraid you're often right there in that pit.
Josh - Tue, Feb 11, 2014 - 11:47pm (USA Central)
@Corey: "By setting up strawmen, ticking-clock scenarios and boogeymen villains who pose an existential threat to human values."

Care to cite some examples? Because in the very next episode "Paradise Lost" we see Leyton's attempted coup fail because his ally Captain Benteen refuses to continue to fight the Defiant. Even the Bajoran militia members in "Shakaar" eventually refuse to follow Winn's orders to capture - or kill - Shakaar and Kira.

What we have are intelligently written scenarios that portray political conflict in a thoughtful and interesting way.

@Paul: I won't belabour your points, but I couldn't have replied to Elliott's bizarre moralizing any better myself.
Elliott - Wed, Feb 12, 2014 - 12:43am (USA Central)
In terms of living, breathing and specific human beings, I would beg you keep in mind that the price for the Maquis' homes wasn't some sort of trade treaty or even humanitarian aide, but a cessation of war. I don't think it's theoretical chest-bumping to suggest that the suffering the Maquis endured is worth at least the loss of life which peace prevented. In fact, the opportunity existed for the writers to give at least some credence to the Maquis perspective when the Dominion War began, seeing as how what the Federation gave up in its treaty ended up being worth only about 5 years of "peace". It even would have stuck to the theme of DS9 making the Federation stick its foot in its mouth while making some sense, but, no, they didn't do that. Much better pretend we're Victor Hugo.

I don't laugh at the Maquis. I don't think it's funny. It is enormously ironic that you would accuse *me* of being self-righteous when the topic is the Maquis. They're just about the most self-righteous assholes portrayed in this franchise.

Look, what happened to the border colonies is unfortunate and the Federation absolutely had an obligation to do what it could to ease the settlers' grief, but if you're suggesting the life-saving peace treaty should not have been signed because one small faction opposed it, I think it's you who is suffering from the twisted logic.
Elliott - Wed, Feb 12, 2014 - 2:09am (USA Central)
@Josh :

Examples of Strawmen in DS9 :

Emissary : Sisko irrationally, but understandably blames Picard for the death of his wife. Rather than address the issue that, under this misconception, Sisko is blatantly disrespectful of authority, preachy and self-righteous, or, more importantly that he is simply wrong about the nature of the Borg and how they affected his life, the show chooses to deflect the argument by making the emotional core about Sisko moving on with his life via Orb Experience.

In the Hands of the Prophets : Vedek Winn accuses Keiko and the Federation of being "godless" for teaching facts about the wormhole aliens. Kira defends Winn's position by claiming that failing to provide "a spiritual context is a philosophy." Rather than dealing with this relevant divide, the show deflects by implicating Winn in a bomb-plot. So she's a bad guy, but her argument is never properly argued, defended or refuted. BUT her perspective is the last to be heard before the action plot takes over and leaves us with the impression that, because no character offered a reasonable response to her accusations, none exists.

The Maquis : I've gone on at length about what I think is a relevant but never raised essential issue in the argument, but it is again deflected by Cal Hudson's loyalty to the Federation. Sisko doesn't really argue with him about the merits or flaws in his reasoning, but about his allegiance to Starfleet.

Destiny : Kira is proved right ... ish in her choice to follow mystical Bajoran nonsense when a prophecy about the wormhole comes true and only comes true because the ubiquitous way in which the Prophets communicate prophecies (somehow) to Bajorans allows for ambiguous interpretations of something which is fairly straightforward. Again, where the argument seems to be whether or not faith is a worthwhile perspective, it allows everyone to be "right" kind of. In this case, both positions of faith and non-faith are misrepresented with poor substitutes for what they really are. So there are two strawmen here. Everyone loses.

Rapture : Admiral Whatley tells Sisko that his rôle as emissary is in conflict with his duties as a Starfleet captain assigned to Bajor. Even though this is demonstrably true (whether or not it matters given Prophet magic), the issue is ignored and instead the choice becomes about Jake's wanting his father more than he can respect his father's new-found "faith" (note : it's not faith if it's actually happening, which, as Bashir confirms, it is).

In the Cards : Nog (by proxy in Jake) calls the Federation stance on economics foolish since Jake can't get the thing he wants without money. Rather than either uphold the socialist angle by suggesting that the fact Jake wanted to cheer up his father matters more than some baseball card OR upholding the capitalist perspective by having Jake get an actual job to earn money for the damned card (or borrow from Nog and pay him back), the episode celebrates cronyism in having Jake and Nog lie to everyone they encounter in order to get what they want. Is communism bad? The episode is unwilling to answer the question but happy to IMPLY that it is bad by making Jake look like a sap.

Tears of the Prophets : Sisko claims (and the episode confirms) that he failed in his duties as an officer by letting Jadzia die. This argument is nonsensical for a number of reasons; 1. he couldn't have saved her if he HAD heeded the prophets seeing as how she went to the temple to pray alone 2. Jadzia was not the first person to die under Sisko's command and he never considered himself a failure and 3. his actualy Starfleet mission, to invade Cardassia, was successful, thanks to his deceitful actions in ITPML. Is any of this addressed? NOPE! Instead, the opinion is offered (and left unchallenged) that "going against the prophets" is automatically bad because, shut up.

AR-558/It's Only a Paper Moon : The proposition is offered that the war has been so severe that normal Starfleet personnel changes can't be carried out. Times are desperate and humans are left with the barest bones of what they once had in the glory days of TNG. And then, Nog loses his leg. When he returns to DS9, we find out that a field-instated ensign with psychological issues can be afforded the most elaborate of treatments and ample time to recover from his mental trauma, when, presumably, those young troops at AR-588 continue to die for a communications array. So, the Federation's ideals are simultaneously made to look inadequate and tenuous while also supplying the very means to tell Nog's story. Totally two-faced and opportunistic.

Those are just a few chosen at random; Boogeymen can be found in Homefront, Inter Arma Silent Leges, Covenant, ITPML, Let He Who is Without Sin and others. It's getting too late for me to go into it much further, but in fairness, the "ticking-clock" is not a unique DS9 feature. ALL the series overused this device to make plots fit into 40-minute blocks.
Paul M. - Wed, Feb 12, 2014 - 4:52am (USA Central)
@Elliott: "Look, what happened to the border colonies is unfortunate and the Federation absolutely had an obligation to do what it could to ease the settlers' grief, but if you're suggesting the life-saving peace treaty should not have been signed because one small faction opposed it, I think it's you who is suffering from the twisted logic."

Of course I'm not suggesting that. Peace is one of the most important values there is. I am saying that in the real world, things are rarely black and white the way you portray them with a "correct" course of action and a "bad" course of action. People aren't simple logical machines that only have to compute positive and negative sides of any proposed course and act accordingly. Human beings are also emotional, often illogical, the product of thousands of smaller and bigger actions and reactions that lead us to where we are and what we are.

From my point of view, Federation had every right to sign a treaty with the Cardassians, but they made a mistake you yourself make time and again on these boards: they are self-righteous and automatically assume what they do is in the best interest of everyone. Well, tough luck, people in the Colonies didn't want to leave their homes, and there's nothing childish and petty about that. I agree that the Maquis made the situation even worse; I don't know why you think I disagree with you on that point. But that's the whole damn point. All the interested parties, for one reason or the other, made horrific errors in judgement that "paved the way to hell with good intentions", if I may borrow a quote from another episode.

I come from a region with a tumultuous history. I know just how important compromises are, believe me. I understand what the weight of history does to political elites and to common people alike, how prejudging and drawing parallels based on expected behaviour can serve to perpetuate the circle of violence. I know, Elliott, what you're trying to say.

But I'd be a hypocrite if I said I didn't understand and sympathise with feelings and sentiments that lead to such, let's say, undesireable, outcomes. People want to be heard, they want their grievances acknowledged, they want to feel and know that someone out there is listening to what they have to say. Human beings, on both the individual scale of one person and on a larger sociological scale, need to be accounted for. They aren't statistics Elliott or Paul M. can run through their pretty little analytical machines to reach the (only) solution. Failing to grasp that has been the cause of countless conflicts that rage across our planet every day, because there's always someone, somewhere who thinks he just know better.

So no, the Maquis aren't right. They aren't wrong. And even if they were, DS9's isn't on a viewer-proselytising mission of showing the audience the folly of their ways and how "evolved" humans can get past their grievance if "only we acted rationally". The camera is there to show how a lot of small errors borne out of good intentions lead to disastrous consequences. And in my book, that is a hell of a lot more sincere, honest, and true than adopting a sanctimonious intellectually-superior way of judging everyone who fall short of our own self-imposed grandiose standards.
Paul M. - Wed, Feb 12, 2014 - 5:27am (USA Central)
Elliott, I don't think you know what a straw man is. What any of those examples you cited have with straw man fallacy is beyond me.

One needs go no further than your first example with Sisko in "Emissary". Sisko does exactly what you accuse him of not doing: he *does* recognise he was in the wrong there, as it wasn't Picard's (or anyone's really) fault that Sisko was unable to get on with his life. The guy was stuck in the past to a much greater degree than your average perfect specimen of 24th century evolved homo sapiens, I guess. He needed a new sense of purpose and, yes, Prophets help him in that regard. So what? Do you mean to imply that was a betrayal of his futuristic human-ness? That no self-respecting human being should stoop so low as to embrace a "spiritual" side. I couldn't care less if the Prophets are demonstrably real or not and what that means to evolved humanity. If I were given a second chance like that (and I don't care if it's philosophically and dogmatically correct for a homo sapiens to act and think that way), I'd jump at the opportunity. As would many other people, I suspect.

Anyway, the notion that the Orb Experience is a straw man used to deflect the real question is incorrect to say the least. I might even go so far that the entire list of your grievances with DS9 is in itself a straw man as you time and again refute the points that the show never made in the first place.
DavidK - Wed, Feb 12, 2014 - 5:54am (USA Central)
Also you only see strawmen if you go in presuming there's a debate going on.

In The Cards: I don't think the writers of DS9 were arguing anything in that episode. It was 43 minutes of fluff. Nog was in the scene, Nog is a Ferengi, so they gave him the dialogue that I would certainly expect him to say in that scenario. And then they proceeded to not uphold either angle, because they weren't "upholding" anything, he was spouting the same crap Ferengi always spout and whether it holds up for us or not is irrelevant, because no one is trying to convince us the Ferengi are right, they just are what they are. It was character dialogue, not a soapbox agenda.

AR-558, I don't think the Federation's "ideals are simultaneously made to look inadequate and tenuous", I think the Federation was fighting a long war and resources were becoming thin. Any power on the show would have faced the same issues. It was not a comment on Federation philosophy or effectiveness.

Tears of the Prophets: "Instead, the opinion is offered (and left unchallenged) that 'going against the prophets' is automatically bad because, shut up."
If there was a political message in this episode, which I doubt, it was if aliens who can see future timelines give you advice, you should probably consider that advice really carefully.

Anyway, the point is I don't think DS9 was attacking anything, as you say, I think you decided it was attacking and view everything through that lens. At best, they were striving to push Trek into some uncomfortable places, but most of the time it was just being a sci-fi show.

The religion angle is really fascinating actually, because not only is Ronald D. Moore agnostic and, based on his BSG podcasts, deeply suspicious of religion, but ironically some of your posts "defending" Trek actually start to sound like people defending their religion.

My feeling about the Bajorans and their very presence on the show is that RDM was neither holding them up as a shining example nor casting them down, they were just there. The Federation might have moved beyond religion but it will always have to interface with religious people - and when there's stable wormholes involved that you want to borrow, you should probably stay on their good side, defend them from attackers to keep it in good hands, and in general not be douchey to them. It's the same thing with the Ferengi, the Federation might maintain a moneyless society but it still needs some form of latinum reserves to trade with the the Ferengi for all those "unreplicatable" medicines the Enterprise was ferrying around.

The point to all those parts, to me, isn't to get on a soapbox and denounce them, it's to put them in there because the galactic community, if there were one, would probably have them. It's kind of like conservatives complaining that any TV show with a gay character is "pro-gay" by default. Regardless of your stance on them, editing them out of existence is a bit disingenuous. So yeah, good or bad, the Bajorans are there, the Ferengi are there.

It's the same theme with the Maquis. You said "they're just about the most self-righteous assholes portrayed in this franchise". Yeah they are, sure. Self-righteous assholes do exist. I don't think the show went out of its way to demand that we switch sides and despise the Federation along with them. They were antagonists. It was a shitty situation, but also not a very surprising one. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few at all that, sure, they should have packed up their homes in exchange for the lives saved via the treaty. But do you really think you could get a whole colony of people to follow through on that? I doubt it. So yeah they were selfish, but understandably so, and they went down in flames because of it in the end.

Eh, I'm way off track now. Just saying that maybe Ronald D Moore didn't hate the rest of Trek as much as you think. What I think he did do was take the focus to the edges of the Federation and take a peek at the rest of the galactic community and see what they were doing and thinking and feeling. And some of them spoke out against the Federation because they're just as nationalistic as humans are. The Federation is their "other", so of course they would. I don't need the writers to present arguments for and against because it's not a debate they're putting forward, it's just the way that universe is and those non-Federation citizens think, and I'm perfectly capable of making my own assessments. I don't need Jake to defend Federation economics, I can already see it.
Latex Zebra - Wed, Feb 12, 2014 - 6:14am (USA Central)
Human nature is part of who we are. We may become more morally involved but to suggest that Trek presents a view that people have moved on from this is nonsense. I did say this in another episode discussion in response to Elliot and am copying and psting it here as it seems more relevant.


"If you look at mankind now compared to 400 years ago we've evolved massively in how we treat each others... Well some of us have. Some places/people are still massively backwards.
You jump forward a few hundred years and yes people, we hope, will have evolved even further but basic human emotions still remain.
I like the fact that O'Brien carries mental scars from a brutal war with Cardassia. That, though I've not fought in any wars, gives me something I can relate too. I like the fact that Riker had Dad issues and like Riker I've sorted that out.
Whilst I appreciate from a moral perspective we want to see the future as a bright and hopeful place. It can't be so disconnected that it is alien to us. The beauty of Trek is that is able to do both. Present the kind of problems that we face in a futuristic slant and show, mostly, positive solutions.
I also like that Kirk is a womaniser, Picard is hellbent on revenge, Sisko is willing to cross the line in the hope of saving the alpha quadrant and that Janeway bends/breaks the the rules when it suits her to get her crew home.
These people are real and we can relate to them and that is why I love Star Trek. All of it, even the massively flawed Enterprise."


Corey - Wed, Feb 12, 2014 - 10:23am (USA Central)

The whole Dominion is a strawman. It's Dick Cheney the series. It's the cliched unstoppable evil Empire who want to destoy US and infiltrate US and impose their order on US. The only way to stop them is WAR, our GODS destoying their GODS, we killing those crazy savages with a virus until they agree to our peace and our terms and our bodily appearance. And because they are VERY VERY BAD, our fascism is NECESSARY, a White Man's Burden which we Starfleet folk will undertake in the shadows to prevent you from getting your own hands dirty. We do the bad stuff to keep you free. Hoo rah!

All other Treks debunk and skewer this kind of thinking. The only thing seperating DS9 from the world's Dirty Harrys, 24s and Dark Knights is Gene Roddenberry. The series can't go full fascist, so it dips its toes and pretends to be deep.

The whole idea of the Federation going to war with the Dominion is rediculous anyway. Why are these super civilizations re-enacting a kid's view of WW2? Picard wouldn't have tolerated this stuff. He would found other solutions, liberated the Jem Hadar and Vorta, wondered why the Dominion were adhereing to the Evil Empire cliche - the lie powers conjure up to sell their own injustices - or even sided with them. Afterall, what exactly happened to the shapeshifters to make them so uppity. But DS9 doesn't care about anything. The Dominion are always just a big ole existential threat which we hold off with big ole armadas. Roddenberry then makes a brief apperance at the end, the "humanism" of Odo magically converting the shapeshifters. From here on, everyone magically gets along, a cop-out ending which is wholly unearned.

DS9 was actually deep in S1 and S2, when it portrayed the Federation trying to mend the relationship between Bajor and Cardassia. This was complex culture, philosophy, history and politics, but the fans hated it. From here on: instant war porn!
Corey - Wed, Feb 12, 2014 - 10:38am (USA Central)
The DS9 moral is as old, and as conservative, as Hobbes. It says we can live with lawlessness and war, or drop our values and suckle up to some old fashioned authoritarian, police state justice. All that matters is that no other
options present themselves. This is a false binary, and historically, those who resort to this logic are using it cover up their own good ole fashioned Imperialism.

Compare this to Picard, who is literally shown bowing to at least two genocidal races (the Avatar, the Borg).
Jammer - Wed, Feb 12, 2014 - 11:53am (USA Central)
Corey, I think you are finding what you bring with you more than what is actually there. Just because DS9 has elements of "good versus evil" (and it isn't really even necessarily that simplistic) doesn't make it a right-wing political parable. It just makes it a traditional example of every other story of epic struggle told in simplified terms, with some topical references to boot. Your reading of it is one of the more ... extreme ones I have seen. I suppose Star Wars is also an argument for a police state. It warns of an evil Empire, for crissakes! If only the Jedi could use waterboarding we would all be safe!

Put me with DavidK -- great post.
Elliott - Wed, Feb 12, 2014 - 5:14pm (USA Central)
@Paul M : "Federation had every right to sign a treaty with the Cardassians...[but] All the interested parties, for one reason or the other, made horrific errors in judgement that 'paved the way to hell with good intentions'"

Am I the only one who sees the contradiction here? If there was no other option than to sign a peace treaty, what should the Federation have done? I'm not saying the Maquis don't have a right to be upset, just that their actions aren't justified (terrorism rarely is).

Just because you (or I) sympathise with the Maquis does not make them "neither right nor wrong." Their feelings may be justified, may be "right", but their actions are not.

@DavidK (& Jammer) : Star Trek has always been a fiction with a point to make right? With an argument and perspective, a soapbox even (as I recall, that's why so many find TOS and early TNG annoying and "preachy"). As a writer for this franchise, whether you want to or not, you are entering the debate. If you design situations and contrivances which call into question previously established philosophy, you are making an argument against that philosophy. But more to the point, EVERY drama is an argument. That's what a premise is for (A leads to B), to be proved or disproved. If one tries to write a story without an argument, he has not written anything.

Please realise that the AR-588 problem can really only be seen in context with its sister episode "Paper Moon," where the lack of the very thing which drove the drama in the first, provides the context for the solution in the second. That's manipulative and false.

"if aliens who can see future timelines give you advice, you should probably consider that advice really carefully."

As idiotic and pointless as that would be on its own, we KNOW this can't be the point because the show has insisted that the Prophets' wisdom is divine, not phenomenal. We are meant to take Sisko's journey with them in religious terms.

"It's kind of like conservatives complaining that any TV show with a gay character is "pro-gay" by default. Regardless of your stance on them, editing them out of existence is a bit disingenuous. So yeah, good or bad, the Bajorans are there, the Ferengi are there."

One cannot include an element in his story and not take a stance on it. Including a gay character in a show, cast in a normal context is promoting the idea that homosexuality is normal (which, of course it is). There's nothing wrong with promoting that because it's an honest opinion, but it's also not a neutral component. Every action has motivation, in life as in drama.

@Latex Zebra : I believe you are suffering from the Jetsons Paradigm. Similar to the Flintstones Paradigm, one assumes that human beings in different historical and cultural periods emote and reason more or less the same way as oneself, that one's nature or the nature of one's fellow man in a particular moment is intrinsic and unchanging (or non-evolving). I would beg you to look up the work of Carter Phipps, Ken Wilbur, Barbara Hubbard & Andrew Cohen, to name a few, whose work specialises in debunking this historical misconception.

@Jammer : as someone who has publicly posted so many opinions on Trek, I find the comment "you are finding what you bring with you more than what is actually there" to be somewhat hypocritical. I seem to recall reviews on "Who Watches the Watchers," "Darmok," "What You Leave Behind," "Latent Image," "Muse" and "Nightingale" all being influenced by an extra-narrative perspective, like that humans being non-religious is silly or Harry Kim can't be redeemed.

Star Wars is a Universe with different rules. It casually mentions monarchy and destiny and flirts with Wagnerian myth-pilfering. In other words, in spite of being IN SPACE, it's not really Science Fiction, it's Greek Mythology in Space. Which is great, but its priorities are different and its characterisations fall under different criteria from Star Trek. DS9 doesn't have that excuse.
Paul M. - Wed, Feb 12, 2014 - 6:15pm (USA Central)
@Elliott: "Am I the only one who sees the contradiction here? If there was no other option than to sign a peace treaty, what should the Federation have done?"

Well, that's the thing, isn't it? That there isn't a single overarching interest everyone adheres to. For the Federation at large a treaty was probably the best option. But that doesn't mean it's the best option for people left with two choices: "leave your homes or good luck under these great guys". Anyway, Federation is a democracy, right? The idea that the people who this political decision directly affects have no say in it is ludicrous and deeply undemocratic. Star Trek doesn't really delve into the nitty-gritty of political governance, but it was said in an episode (don't remember which one) that the Maquis decided to leave the Federation, implying there was some kind of process to that effect.

Anyway, I feel we're getting off topic. All of this is essentially irrelevant. The notion that a "24th century evolved homo sapiens" (though I haven't heard a single piece of evidence that evolution works on such a short timescale) couldn't possibly act the way the Maquis act, and therefore have no place in an elightened Star Trek future, isn't supported by anything we've ever seen or heard in any Star Trek.

"If you design situations and contrivances which call into question previously established philosophy, you are making an argument against that philosophy."

Just as TNG made arguments against TOS philosophy? Unless you're somehow stating that TNG is the original Trek, I don't understand the merits of your position.

Any anyway, what does this have to do with anything? Today we have astronauts orbiting the Earth, people drinking coffee in Venice, a husband murdering his wife in some metropolis, young girls being sold into slavery in half a dozen countries, and me enjoying a great episode of Sherlock. I wouldn't say that one excludes the other. It's a complex world, full of all kinds of wonder and horror we can imagine. Why in hell should I adopt such a banal worldview to think that the 24th century Earth and humans amount only to what TNG showed me, and moreover, that any and all steps to depict different situations somehow run contrary to this dogma?

Josh - Wed, Feb 12, 2014 - 6:39pm (USA Central)
@Elliott:

"Am I the only one who sees the contradiction here? If there was no other option than to sign a peace treaty, what should the Federation have done? I'm not saying the Maquis don't have a right to be upset, just that their actions aren't justified (terrorism rarely is).

"Just because you (or I) sympathise with the Maquis does not make them "neither right nor wrong." Their feelings may be justified, may be "right", but their actions are not."

In other words, you agree with SIsko on the Maquis. We can well imagine that many in the Federation would. Others - Cal Hudson, Thomas Riker, Michael Eddington - took a different view. Is that political conflict a "strawman"?

I quite agree with PaulM, and as was once said to one of Wallace Shawn's characters, you should stop using that word. I don't think you know what it means.
Latex Zebra - Thu, Feb 13, 2014 - 3:33am (USA Central)
Thanks Elliot. I believe you are suffering from something too. I'm not qualified to say what but it is something.

Elliott - Thu, Feb 13, 2014 - 12:18pm (USA Central)
Oh, come on Latex Zebra, it's always like this isn't it? Can't let a conversation go on too long without heaping on the snark. If "suffering from" is too incendiary, then let's say "operating under."
Elliott - Thu, Feb 13, 2014 - 12:22pm (USA Central)
@Josh : Sisko's problem with Hudson & Eddington was with their betrayals to Starfleet, not the flimsiness of their argument, which is my problem. THAT is a Strawman. I never heard anyone on any series at any time mention the point of view that Maquis were being childish for the reasons I've stated. When one purposefully ignores an obvious counterargument to one's premise, but still engages in "debate" around the subject, that's a Strawman.
Paul M. - Thu, Feb 13, 2014 - 12:52pm (USA Central)
So? Sisko is the guy who's big on loyalty, to friends, fellow officers, and the uniform. Those are the things that matter most to him. He's not really a philosopher and an intellectual. Not to say he doesn't give a damn about larger principles, but he's simply the type of person who doesn't spend that much time on finer points of a discussion. Frankly, I don't see anything wrong with Sisko's psychological make-up or with the way the show portrays it.

That doesn't have anything to do with straw man. Elliott, you seem to want DS9 to serve as your value-validation vehicle and get agitated when fictional characters manifest traits and lines of reasoning you personally disagree with. I must admit I find such logic highly peculiar.
Elliott - Thu, Feb 13, 2014 - 12:59pm (USA Central)
@Paul M.

"We have eliminated hunger, want, the need for things. We have grown out of our infancy...that kind of control is an illusion."

That's a quote from Picard.
Elliott - Thu, Feb 13, 2014 - 1:03pm (USA Central)
Is Eddington a philosopher? I don't think so. But, the writers had no problem letting him give long speeches about how false Federation ideals and values are.

I don't mind if DS9 questions or poses skepticism towards the Roddenberrian ideal, but to do so giving one side of the argument either no voice or a deflected strawman voice is not fair.
Patrick D - Thu, Feb 13, 2014 - 1:15pm (USA Central)
"I don't mind if DS9 questions or poses skepticism towards the Roddenberrian ideal, but to do so giving one side of the argument either no voice or a deflected strawman voice is not fair."

THANK YOU. I'm glad I'm not the only one who's ever noticed this on trend in DS9. The only character who ever shot back was Bashir in "Inter Arma Enem Silent Leges".

BTW, what episode did you get that Picard quote from?
Elliott - Thu, Feb 13, 2014 - 1:20pm (USA Central)
It's from "The Neutral Zone." If you've not seen it before, be warned: there is quite a bit of annoying filler material in this episode (like so many in Season 1). But the last act is quite compelling.
Paul M. - Thu, Feb 13, 2014 - 1:38pm (USA Central)
And Picard is infallible? The thing you quoted is Picard's opinion. Is there any reason I should particularly believe in that opinion over a bunch of evidence to the contrary?

And I still don't quite understand what you mean by "giving Roddenberrian ideals no voice". Star Trek itself is a voice to that effect. What more would you need? Should every single damn scene amount to a pretty little didactic lesson where the show makes sure the audience gets the message? One thing I've read time and again that I think needs to be noted: soldiers don't fight for their country or for the ideals, they fight for one another. Yeah, I know, Starfleet isn't a strictly military organisation, but there are enough similarities that I feel the same principles ought to apply. Eddington betrayed Sisko and that's something he can never get over. What can I say? Maybe it's a bit lowbrow for your garden-variety 24th century homo sapiens ascendens divinatis, but there you have it. I always suspected Sisko doesn't give a flying frak about some high-minded rationalisations for Maquis behaviour; the guy's got a job to do, and he's gonna do it. Pontificating isn't in his job desctiption.

After having read dozens of your posts, I must admit I still have no clue what your problem with DS9 is. I'm not exaggerating or playing dumb. I honestly don't know. Are the Maquis behaving the way it's unfathomable for human beings to act? Is Sisko's reaction to them inhuman and unbelievable? Is such a political situation as depicted in the show impossible to envision in a hypothetical future? No, no, and no.

Phew. Rant over. ;)

And yes, Eddington is definitely something of a warrior-poet. That guy has a philosophical bent for sure.

Latex Zebra - Thu, Feb 13, 2014 - 2:30pm (USA Central)
@Elliot

"And I will make them pay for what they have done!"

That is also a quote from Picard.

Moving on from snarks for a moment... Happy to come back to that later. Trek is one of the most inconsistent series out there. Characters do things from show to show that make you scratch your head.
Wilst I'd agree Picard is probably the morally superior of them all he is still prone to very backwards thinking, like revenge.
Elliott - Thu, Feb 13, 2014 - 2:39pm (USA Central)
Of course Picard is not infallible, but he's not a liar either. While the "out of our infancy" bit is, I suppose a poetic bit of license on his part, hunger, want and need are rather quantifiable. Those facts make the Maquis' reasoning sophomoric at best.

Many, many episodes of DS9 amount to "didactic lessons" where the punch comes in the form of taking shots at the Roddenberry vision. To call itself Star Trek was, well, disingenuous. Star Trek is one of the very few mainstream television shows that advocates for atheism, communism and science, along with tolerance and equality. DS9 is regarded as the "realistic Trek" because it basically laughs in the face of those ideals. If the show were actually a constructed argument against said ideals, I would perhaps still not agree, but I could respect the effort. Instead, the writers assume the audience is already looking at quotes like the one above and shaking their heads with smug disapproval and doesn't bother to actually argue against them. Hence the strawman debate. That, in a nutshell, is my problem with DS9. It "argued" for a credulity-accepting, capitalist-friendly, military-sympathetic worldview by simply being "brave" and being different from its predecessors (and successors, until Abrams' reboot).

DS9 has things to recommend it. I appreciated the long-term story telling and would have preferred that Voyager, for example, adopt a similar strategy. There are also some standout episodes like "The Wire," "Far Beyond the Stars," "Duet" and "Chimera," as well as some great characters like Odo, Garak and Dukat sans season 7. But this fundamental arrogance which pervaded the writing of nearly every episode is so offensive and trite that I can't abide the praise which continuously gets heaped on the show, and the derision the other Treks receive when compared to it.
Elliott - Thu, Feb 13, 2014 - 2:43pm (USA Central)
@Latex Zebra :

No one ever said humans evolved out of having emotions like vengeance. In First Contact, Picard wrestled with this feeling and overcame it. He demonstrated by his action that his thinking could overcome his feelings. He did not become Ahab. That's evolution.
Latex Zebra - Thu, Feb 13, 2014 - 3:00pm (USA Central)
@Elliot :

It is interesting that it was someone from the pre federation age that made him see what he was becoming. It was not self discovery or realisation, he was called on it by someone less evolved by 250 odd years. THEN he made the right choice. He didn't pay any attention to his evolved colleagues.

Elliott - Thu, Feb 13, 2014 - 3:21pm (USA Central)
That's one of the most beautiful parts of the movie--Lily was on the threshold of beginning humanity's new phase of evolution and Picard was inspired by her to re-embrace his future, which she was about to start building. It's a great way to close the character actually, which is why it's a shame Star Treks IX and X were made.
Latex Zebra - Thu, Feb 13, 2014 - 3:23pm (USA Central)
One of the joyous things about the Federation is how accepting it is. How people can do what they want, with respect obviously. You have Picard's brother Robert who shuns technology and says they should remember the old ways, that life is too comfortable. Fine, no conflict there... Until he winds up Picard enough so they have a fight... Because that is what he needs. A fight bonds people. Seriously, this is the 24th century, surely people are a little more evolved than that.
The Maquis have a large portion of Native Americans among their number and their formation was teased in Journey's End (What are your thoughts on that episode by the way Elliot?). Given the A race that were bullied off their land years and years ago it stands to reason they would not take lightly to this kind of behaviour again and given they've stuck to their traditions and not evolved, despite everything evolving around them, I wouldn't put terrorism beyond them. The fact that Starfleet officers would sympathise with them is thoroughly understandable. Several, and it is probably said in an episode, agree that the price of peace with the Cardassian's is too much and lets be fair. This is a race whose arse Starfleet could have really kicked if they wanted to. They could have beaten them to submission, gave up nothing.
That wouldn't have given us DS9 though and the edgier Trek that some people wanted.

Latex Zebra - Thu, Feb 13, 2014 - 3:27pm (USA Central)
@Elliot :

Alfre Woodard's Lily is possibly the finest thing in First Contact. I mean it is an amazing movie that is full of hope and ambition and I totally agree with what you say about her being almost a lynchpin of humanity's future behaviour.
That still doesn't change that evolved sensiblities are still inconsitent in the future.

Patrick D - Thu, Feb 13, 2014 - 3:29pm (USA Central)
^^
Elliott, you are my freaking hero! That beautifully sums up what I've been trying to say for a decade and a half, but nowhere near as concise.

For me DS9 was the smart alec student in the back of the room always taking pot shots at the teacher and "the establishment" to hide the fact that he doesn't have any better ideas of his own.

A lot of writers for DS9 were transplanted from TNG. And so many of those writers chaffed at "Roddenberry's box" (but, were more than happy to accept the money and the fame), made a TV series where they could vent their frustrations. And DS9 was just as "preachy" as all the other Trek shows, but in a different way.
Paul M. - Thu, Feb 13, 2014 - 4:25pm (USA Central)
"For me DS9 was the smart alec student in the back of the room always taking pot shots at the teacher and "the establishment" to hide the fact that he doesn't have any better ideas of his own."

I chuckled.

If we're going down that road, then Voyager is a clueless nerd sitting in the front row, always ready to take the question and knowing every single word in the textbook without understanding a single thing he's read ;)

I'm being (half)-facetious here. No intention to start (yet another) edition war.
Paul (a different one) - Thu, Feb 13, 2014 - 5:08pm (USA Central)
Oooh! Can I play?

TOS: The first child who broke all the rules and was much older than the other siblings.

TNG: The middle child who got the best grades, went the furthest but has the worst sense of humor.

DS9: The kid who went through a goth phase and played around with drugs but was endearing and intelligent and turned out OK in the end.

VOY: The clueless nerd who sucks up but has no real depth or texture to his personality.

ENT: The youngest child who's allowed to do anything and is therefore erratic and frustrating.

TAS: The weird cousin that was around for a while but seemingly was forgotten as the years went by.
Paul M. - Thu, Feb 13, 2014 - 5:32pm (USA Central)
@Elliott: "Star Trek is one of the very few mainstream television shows that advocates for atheism, communism and science, along with tolerance and equality. DS9 is regarded as the "realistic Trek" because it basically laughs in the face of those ideals. (...) the writers assume the audience is already looking at quotes like the one above and shaking their heads with smug disapproval"

I won't comment on your communism remark, because this is neither time nor place. I also suspect you're not really acquainted with what communism means. The blanket approach you're partial to is quite revealing.

I must again stress how much you misrepresent DS9 proponents' (by extension, mine as well) relationship to TNG and to Trek. I, for one, and I suspect many Niners, have utmost respect for NextGen and for the ideals it embodies. Picard is easily the best character Trek has ever put to screen, in no small part thanks to wonderful Patrick Stewart.

However, I can't support your reductivist interpretation of Trekverse where anything that runs contrary to the established ethos is automatically "reactionary" and "laughs in the face of Roddenberry ideals". The difference is one in focus. Let's say that 24th century Earth has only 100 homicides a year. And then, let's suppose a new Trek show follows the investigations of an elite planetwide Homicide squad that brings perpetrators to justice. An extreme example, I know, and one I wouldn't be all that eager to watch, but that doesn't change the probability that such events would be (and hypothetically are) present in Trek universe. DS9 is the show that explores that side of Trek.

Where "evolved" humans in TNG don't really commit rape (well, of course they occasionally do, but TNG chooses not to show it), DS9 asks the question "well, what if a sane human being does commit rape?". Where in TNG everyone goes perfectly along (possible, a very cool crew indeed), DS9 asks the question "what if this crew isn't that perfect? What if some of these people don't jive all that well for whatever reason?" You get my meaning.

Your arguments against DS9 are akin to an alien observation team, whose only exposure to humans has been through watching "Friends", being utterly dismayed and SHOCKED!!!111!!! when they stumble upon "The Wire" or, God forbid, "Halloween".

TNG was focused on the life of a crew of USS Enterprise, the Federation flagship representing the very best humans have to offer (and incidentally, warping away after 45 minutes so that they never have to face repercussions of their actions). DS9 is a far-away space station in the middle of a war-torn region populated by a bunch of people with differing agendas.

Is it so mindbogglingly difficult to accept that such a setup might, just might, exist somewhere in the illustrious future full of Homo sapiens ascendans divinati?

And if not, imagine it's a mirror universe and be done with it.
Elliott - Thu, Feb 13, 2014 - 6:12pm (USA Central)
So, Voyager was the Hermione Granger to DS9's Draco Malfoy? I can live with that. I suppose that makes TNG the Harry Potter and TOS the Snape? ENT the Neville?
Corey - Thu, Feb 13, 2014 - 6:21pm (USA Central)
Paul M said: "One thing I've read time and again that I think needs to be noted: soldiers don't fight for their country or for the ideals, they fight for one another"

"Because the political has become untenable, the Law discredited, the soldier fights for but the man at his side. [...] On the battlefield, his deference to brotherhood becomes a disavowal; an admittance of absence." - philosopher Jacques Ellul (notes on propaganda)


Elliot said: "That, in a nutshell, is my problem with DS9. It "argued" for a credulity-accepting, capitalist-friendly, military-sympathetic worldview by simply being "brave" and being different from its predecessors (and successors, until Abrams' reboot)."

Yes, DS9 is basically the post-Iraq, neoliberal, Dark Knight version of Star Trek. And it uses very sneaky tactics to get you to accept its warped logic. As someone above rightly pointed out, the only character who challenges DS9's way of things, Bashir, is told to shut up, and the last word is given to Sloan.

According to DS9, there are big ole evil Empires who want to destroy your values, and when they do, you respond with genocidal viruses, massive fleets, subterfuge, murder, law breaking, espionage and fascism. When they're beaten, you force them into your Federation. Heck, DS9 would have been braver if it would have genuinely portrayed the Fed as the bad guys. The only thing making DS9 insideous is that the crew are portrayed as good.
Josh - Thu, Feb 13, 2014 - 6:35pm (USA Central)
I don't have much to add to Paul's well-constructed replies to Elliott's selective and warped (no pun intended) reading of DS9. This is a show, after all, that made "Past Tense" one of its main events of season 3, a two-parter that is well written but in our present context is unabashedly in favour of social welfare, and advocates positions that places the writers squarely on the social democrat side of things.

As for Trek's supposed advocacy of "atheism" and "communism", I invite you to demonstrate through actual textual evidence that either ideologies are consistently present in the Federation. Certainly none of the exploits of Kirk in the 23rd Century qualify. As a captain who actually invokes "god" in one form of another on several occasions, and whose ideals seem mostly inspired by American Liberalism, you'd have a hard time showing that he is either an atheist much less a communist. Who were the villains, after all, in "The Omega Glory"?

Now, it's true enough that Picard disparages the "dark ages of superstition, ignorance, and fear" inherent to belief in a supreme being in "Who Watches the Watchers", but that is probably the only instance I can think of that a "principled" argument is made against religion in Trek. Of course, Jake disparages the Bajoran religion in "In the Hands of the Prophets", for which Sisko chastises him.

As for Picard's comments in "The Neutral Zone", I can think of few worse examples of 24th century Federation smugness and self-satisfaction. It's not a bad episode, really, but the crew's haughty dismissiveness toward their 20th century forebears is ludicrously obnoxious, positing themselves as simply superior and "evolved" beyond them, as if they'd be any different living 350 years earlier (see, for example, Voyager's Captain Braxton in "Future's End"). Even so, I don't much in Picard's comments that endorse "communism" per se, but rather that technology has allowed for a post-scarcity society where material needs are met with trivial effort. (There is not much evidence for the universality of this economy, however, and TNG in particular never delves very deeply into what 24th century civilian life is like.) Interestingly, the episode was co-written by Hans Beimler, later DS9's co-executive producer and I suppose one "those writers (who) chaffed at "Roddenberry's box"... but, were more than happy to accept the money and the fame". (As if TV writers in the 90s could ever be called "famous".)

On DS9, I would say that the supposed "pro-capitalist" bent is utterly unsupportable by any actual evidence, and contradicted in every single Ferengi-centric episode where misogynistic, anti-labour, or, generally, "capitalistic" practices are satirized. In the end, the Ferengi adopt universal suffrage and progressive income taxation!

Anyway, the idea that anyone who loves DS9 continually "heaps derision" on the other series is laughable. I grew up with TNG and I watched Voyager concurrently with DS9 and after it ended. And, unlike Patrick D., I know TNG especially well enough that I hardly needed to ask where that quote was from. Now, I'll happily deride Voyager as lazy and underdeveloped, primarily because it is. That doesn't mean it lacks for standout episodes, but when one of the main characters is subjected to episodes like "The Disease" or "Favourite Son" and changes little in seven years, you can tell that things were much more static than they should have been. And Harry Kim was only part of the problem.

Enterprise had by far the worst cast of any of the series, and continued Voyager's Seven of Nine tradition with a sexpot character in a catsuit. As good as Seven's character was, she was undermined by the ridiculous attire. Edward Jellico would never allowed something like that.
Paul M. - Thu, Feb 13, 2014 - 6:42pm (USA Central)
I guess we'll never agree.

When one subset of fans insists on watching and critiquing what's on the TV screen as a series with its own internal verisimilitude, while another subset seeks fictional validation of their real-world values as if a TV series is an educational programme, it only shows that the two sides operate under completely different paradigms.

Corey, that Ellul's quote is fantastic.
Corey - Thu, Feb 13, 2014 - 6:46pm (USA Central)
"I won't comment on your communism remark, because this is neither time nor place. I also suspect you're not really acquainted with what communism means. The blanket approach you're partial to is quite revealing."

It's usually the ultra capitalists who have no idea what capitalism means, or how post neoclassical economists (Tim Jackson, Peter Victor, Herman Daly etc), and thermo-physicists (Frederic Soddy, Georgescu-Roegen etc) annihilate any moral basis for capitalism. I mean, just this year you have the reknowned Adrian Dragulescu proving that money obeys thermodynamic laws (you have 1 dollar, someone else is 1 dollar in debt). If you have time, I also invite you to read a colleague of mine's paper on capitalism and energy curves (google "galactic scale energy").

Cutting edge physics and post neoclassical economics is communism, they just can't use the name for fear of stigmatization.

"However, I can't support your reductivist interpretation of Trekverse where anything that runs contrary to the established ethos is automatically "reactionary" and "laughs in the face of Roddenberry ideals"."

Well, DS9 is reactionary. Plotting to take down politicians you disagree with is "reactionary", killing Romulans to trick them into entering a war is "reactionary", the portrayal of the Dominion is inherently "reactionary" etc etc.

"DS9 asks the question "what if this crew isn't that perfect? What if some of these people don't jive all that well for whatever reason?"

You're misunderstanding the point people are making. DS9 doesnt ask or understand why people don't jive. It presents boogeymen. I mean, not once is an attempt made to explore or understand The Dominion. They're left at the level of integalactic Yellow Menances. Yellow Menances who legitimize you using ANY MEANS NECESSARY.


"and incidentally, warping away after 45 minutes so that they never have to face repercussions of their actions"

DS9 invented the Dominion war to get AWAY from the complex issues now facing Cardassia and Bajor. The whole Dominion boogeyman arc is akin to Picard warping away.


Corey - Thu, Feb 13, 2014 - 6:59pm (USA Central)
"well written but in our present context is unabashedly in favour of social welfare, and advocates positions that places the writers squarely on the social democrat side of things."

Just a brief comment: "Social welfare" is not a "democrat" thing. Remember, capitalism cannot provide full employment. Anything below 8 to 10 percent unemployment causes inflation, higher prices and the weakening of your dollar. With unemployment a systemic necessity, you have to figure out how to keep people from getting uppity. The whole modern American welfare system steam-rolled in the 30s as a means of keep people from rioting and overthrowing things. Unsurprisingly, it was supported in the 1930s by huge banks, corporations, and financial and insurance companies (Chase National Bank, Procter and Gamble, Grace National Bank, Leeds and Northrup, Goldman Sachs etc). Historian Barton J. Bernstein would outright say such reforms "did not transform the American system, but served to conserve and protected American corporate capitalism, occasionally by absorbing parts of threatening programs." In short, Republicans are uber welfare junkies. Late capitalism depends on wellfare wholesale.

Paul M. - Thu, Feb 13, 2014 - 7:00pm (USA Central)
Josh, a great post.

"As good as Seven's character was, she was undermined by the ridiculous attire. Edward Jellico would never allowed something like that."

All too true :)

Interestingly enough, Ron Moore helped write that episode and I'm almost certain Jellico's chewing out Troi was his idea. I remember him later critisising Seven's costume along similar lines.
Josh - Thu, Feb 13, 2014 - 8:21pm (USA Central)
@Corey: While I'm sure the monetarists would agree about the "natural rate of unemployment", the post-war consensus at Bretton-Woods was most certainly centred around full employment and monetary stability.

Anyway, I suggest you go re-take Macro 101 before continuing along this line of argument.
Niall - Fri, Feb 14, 2014 - 12:02pm (USA Central)
As a non-American reader of this site since the 90s, I find it fascinating how - now that the comment function has been added - certain American political and cultural schisms spill over into the comments sections of various episodes (ones which act as cultural flashpoints) on a regular basis. What I find fascinating is that the angles and viewpoints from which issues are debated (on threads like "Repentence", "Far Beyond The Stars", "Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang" and this one) are often soooo American, full of baffling subjective readings and outlandish viewpoints you wouldn't find in any other first- or second-world country. It comes through in the bizarre mental filters through which some people seem to watch the episodes, the emotive/histrionic tone of a fair proportion of the comments, how paranoid and ill-informed some of the comments are, the polarised conclusions they leap to due to their highly subjective viewing, and of course, the brain-deactivating invocation of "socialism", "communism", "fascism", "capitalism" etc. as boogeymen. DS9 is a story, it wasn't written as right- or left-wing, and it was written in the 90s long before 9/11 etc. Of course fiction has political context, but you know what? Not every single piece of drama or every episode of Star Trek has to be either unequivocally right- or left-wing, pro- or against a certain standpoint. The show wasn't written to be binary and divisive. In this thread, we have one person writing off this (excellent) episode as "yet another episode by left wing socialists" (1: as opposed to right-wing socialists? 2: no, it isn't) and another dismissing it as "your typical right-wing paranoia episode that DS9 loved to milk" (no, it isn't that either). I dunno, maybe just approach what you watch with an open mind, leave your baggage at the door, and enjoy the storytelling? I completely agree with Paul M's stellar comments throughout this thread (MARRY ME).

Governments around the world have regularly used the invocation of a terrifying external threat to maintain and sharpen their control and curtail domestic freedoms. Egypt was in an officially-declared "state of emergency" from 1967 to 2012, and the entire survival of the North Korean regime hinges on its constant propaganda that the country can be attacked by "American imperialists and their South Korean puppet forces" at any moment. Citizens are drilled to be in a constant state of readiness for war.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_of_emergency#Egypt
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_of_emergency#Abuse
Paul M. - Fri, Feb 14, 2014 - 4:01pm (USA Central)
Niall, thanks for your kind words.

Personally, I was always of the opinion that a person can best understand his or her own value system when faced with unpleasant questions with no easy answers.

Speaking for myself, being born in early eighties, I grew up with TNG and DS9; they were probably the first TV series I religiously followed. And I found that those shows spoke very clearly and very loudly to different yet complementary parts of my teen self. TNG was always the optimistic one, a celebration of human ingenuity and fundamental decency, a promise of a endless possibilities that await us if only we can get our shit together and stop with the petty nonsense. And I admit, that is a worthy message to tell, especially if you are 12.

Deep Space Nine is, if I may be a bit presumptuous, a meditation on the price of paradise. It looks under the hood, puts some pressure to see where the weak points are, and generally presents a hypothetical situation where it asks of both the crew and the audience to pay attention to the nuts and bolts of the system itself instead of just taking it for granted. And sure, presented with such challenges, the crew sometimes morally faltered -- Sisko most definitely lost a part of his soul in ItPM, for example. The Maquis ended up on the wrong side of history; one could even say they were fundamentally unworthy of being representatives of 24th century humanity.

However, these issues, these very imperfections of DS9's setting are the things that make me think that much more. As a kid, I accepted and marveled at the future TNG presented, but it was DS9 that helped me understand just what a monumental effort it will be to achieve that future. By focusing on both sides of the argument and by presenting less flattering (even downright scary) sides of the supposed utopia, it made me appreciate the fundamental optimism of Trek all the more.

Dusty - Sat, Feb 15, 2014 - 11:01am (USA Central)
Okay, so about the episode...it was great. An entertaining, compelling hour of television.

Starfleet almost overthrowing the Federation and imposing a military dictatorship on Earth is not something we would have seen in the previous series. Of course, we don't know that's happening yet. 'Homefront' obscures that issue, and only in 'Paradise Lost' do we learn that the threat from within is currently greater than the threat from outside--a lesson that many nations have failed to learn in other situations, and they will continue to fail. I am no doomsayer, but nor do I share Roddenberry's optimism for the future.
Corey - Sat, Feb 15, 2014 - 6:07pm (USA Central)
"And sure, presented with such challenges, the crew sometimes morally faltered -- Sisko most definitely lost a part of his soul in ItPM, for example."

No he didnt. The issue never becomes important in the subsequent arcs.

"By focusing on both sides of the argument"

Both sides? Existential threat attacks = solve problem with huge fleets, black ops and threats of genocide. Actions = correct because enemy is Everywhere and Bad.

Patrick D - Sat, Feb 15, 2014 - 8:42pm (USA Central)
If the "Homefront"/"Paradise Lost" two-parter proves, if nothing else: TNG is like The Wizard of Oz and DS9 is Terry Gilliam's Brazil. The world of Picard and Co. is that futuristic 'somewhere over the rainbow'. But with Sisko and Co. we are only strapped down in a torture chair humming the tune in some interrogation room in a dystopian future.
Paul M. - Sun, Feb 16, 2014 - 6:28am (USA Central)
@Corey: "Both sides? Existential threat attacks = solve problem with huge fleets, black ops and threats of genocide. Actions = correct because enemy is Everywhere and Bad."

Yes, both. Bajoran political landscape of the early seasons highlighted by both the uneasy Sisko-Kira relationship and Winn-Bareil-Kira-Sisko as well as generally great stuff in "Progress" and "Duet", the Maquis situation that was one giant political mess without easy binary solutions, the perennial tug-of-war between security and freedom (as exemplified in this very two-parter), past mistakes, secrets, or obligations haunting the present (Blood Oath, Necessary Evil, The Wire among others), not to mention various political episodes of later seasons, chief among them ItPM.

I can appreciate that you haven't been able to find stuff more to your liking, but from where I stand, DS9 was pretty good in tackling moral complexities. Not perfect, mind you (for example, I'm not as forgiving to the last as Jammer; I think that S7 was somewhat of a simplistic letdown), but very good.
Corey - Sun, Feb 16, 2014 - 9:22am (USA Central)
I agree with that. I loved the politics of the first 2 seasons, the Bajor/Cardassia relationship and even most of the politics up to season 5. To me it's the Dominon war, Fed actions, Dominion portrayal and war resolution that is trite.
Paul M. - Sun, Feb 16, 2014 - 12:44pm (USA Central)
@Corey: "I agree with that. I loved the politics of the first 2 seasons"

First two seasons, and especially the second, are in my opinion among the most underrated seasons of Trek. Almost everywhere I look, people lump them together in the "pre-Dominion weak stuff". I don't know if that's because fans seem to like the more overt action of S3 and beyond, or is it due to some strange sentiment carried over from TNG that the first two seasons are always the weakest.
Trekker - Sat, Apr 5, 2014 - 9:44pm (USA Central)
When it comes to war, both internal and external Babylon 5 was better TV series. In terms of the role of Civilians and military issues, Babylon 5 did better than any other, because they were unafraid to take on the hard issue.

Also, in terms of Science Fiction/Fantasy, Babylon 5 held more story lines that reflected Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein; the shadow war was also a homage to Tolkien's War of the Ring. With all that going on, you can't help, but love it for being so Sci-Fi.

However, when it comes to human values and human identity, Star Trek is better and DS9 is the pinnacle of our introspection. Ds9 dealt well with terrorism and covert intelligence issues.

Episode like "Duet", "Necessary Evil", and "Homefront" are among the most impressive expressions on human reflection on genocidal guilt and terrorism.

Star Trek DS9 also had a few genuine sci-fi gems, like "The Visitor", but that was no longer Star Trek best.
Eric - Wed, May 7, 2014 - 12:53am (USA Central)
I have a hard time accepting Trek's world as "post-scarcity"; if you pay attention to the dialogue, they're often talking about managing scarcity in some way (especially on Voyager). My main problem with it is that without scarcity there's no conflict (there's plenty of conflict in Trek, and it seems to be based on scarcity: fighting over worlds, etc..). Sounds like a great world to live in, just not one to base a show on.

I think that the people in this comments section have put way more thought into the consequences of a moneyless society than Roddenberry ever did. The writers have actually often contradicted this, what with Beverly charging something to her account in the 1st episode of TNG, with starfleet officers buying things, etc.. If the writers can't take it seriously, then neither can I.
UnknownSample - Thu, Jun 12, 2014 - 10:13pm (USA Central)
How many times does Odo say "My People" in this two parter. he supposedly rejected his people. I just find it odd that he would continually call the dominion his people when they are hostile to the alpha quadrant and earth. I just noticed that he says that more in these two episodes than he does in the rest of the series. Most of the time he refers to them as shapeshifters or even changelings. I wonder what the writers wanted to us to get from that.
Nonya - Wed, Jun 25, 2014 - 12:14am (USA Central)
This episode was a real yawner. I just didn't care about anything that was happening. The acting was pretty stilted here, and only Sisko, his dad, and Odo weren't completely terrible. I guessed the bad guy before the end.

I don't know why there are so many comments on this episode. Pure tedium.

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