Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Paradise Lost"

***

Air date: 1/8/1996
Teleplay by Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Story by Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Reza Badiyi

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"We do not fear you the way you fear us. In the end, it's your fear that will destroy you." — Changeling

Nutshell: A good tale of Starfleet paranoia, although it can't really live up to "Homefront."

Four days after the massive power outage which had Earth holding its breath for a Dominion invasion, all is still clear. Power has been restored, and there have been no indications of an attack. Things are far from normal, however. There are armed Starfleet officers on, seemingly, every street corner. Admiral Leyton has declared martial law and holds Earth in his hands.

Something isn't right. Sisko finds an inconsistency in an obscure record, and through a plot twist involving Starfleet Academy (and Nog, if you can believe it) Sisko learns what's really going on: Admiral Leyton—not Dominion infiltrators—caused Earth's power outage so he could convince the President to turn over control of Earth to him. This way, Leyton can put troops on the streets and execute the security measures he deems necessary.

"Paradise Lost" is exactly what I expected it to be. It's a good episode, but hardly an event of astounding magnitude that would, in retrospect, make "Homefront's" setup seem as truly frightening as it appears to want to be. I mean, let's face it. If the Dominion actually attacked during the blackout, the repercussions would be so unfathomable that I can't even begin to imagine such an episode. The writers will not begin to take such risks with the series, because if there's one constant in the Star Trek universe, it's that there will always be peace on Earth, and the Federation will remain intact.

It's kind of like "The Best of Both Worlds." It had one hell of a setup, yet the outcome was inevitable. It posed the question: Are the Borg really going to assimilate Earth? Well, of course not. Things that bad by definition can't happen on Star Trek, even if the story would be more realistic, disturbing, and/or dramatic if they did happen.

Consider last season's two-part "Past Tense," where Sisko and the others got stuck in Earth's past. Part one ends with Sisko deciding to take the place of the martyr Gabriel Bell. In dramatic terms, the best way to have ended part two would have been to have Sisko give his life in Bell's place to preserve the time line. Instead, there's a very convenient but necessary contrivance that allows Sisko to live, but have the same effect on history. Why? Simply because writers can't make big changes in history or kill off the leading character of the series. It's as simple as that.

My point? In essence, the writers' hands are tied. They need a resolution, but it probably can't be something that's going to have a profound effect on the Star Trek universe.

"Paradise Lost" also has this quality. Obviously, the Dominion is not going to destroy Earth. And unless the creators had decided to do some kind of war episode in which the Dominion are defeated (which, on the other hand they could have done, and probably should do eventually down the line) there is also no real way to actually have a Dominion attack like part one wants to suggest.

So, what instead? The episode is about Leyton's power play to declare martial law—a story that does indeed work, despite some foregone conclusions. On a character level, this is about Sisko's choice of having to confront a friend and former-mentor who is undermining the best interests of Earth and the Federation. (And I'll have to admit, though it's satisfactory, this can't compare to part one's story of living a life amid confusion and paranoia.)

Still, Sisko carrying a story about duty and loyalty is a good idea. When Sisko tells Leyton that he isn't going to support the initiative to take Earth under military rule, Leyton orders Sisko back to DS9, which, naturally, Sisko refuses. He instead begins gathering evidence against Leyton to present to the President. Subsequently, Leyton fakes Sisko's blood test and tells the President that Sisko is a shapeshifter. They throw Sisko into a cell.

Noteworthy is the scene where Leyton visits Sisko in his cell. He reveals a subtle guilt for doing what he did to his friend. He seems to genuinely care about Sisko's welfare ("If you need anything—food, something to read—just tell the guard"). It's nice to see that the writers don't throw characterization out the window just to make Leyton less sympathetic. At the same time, I wonder if Leyton would really go so far as to open fire on another Federation ship for what he considers the best interests of the Federation.

The show basically rides on this conclusion, in which Odo breaks Sisko out of jail and the honorable Starfleet captain goes to Leyton's office to try to talk some sense into him. Sisko has a speech or two—delivered with perhaps too much passion, as Avery Brooks tends to overact here, whereas Robert Foxworth's lower-key style might have been better suited to both characters rather than just Leyton's.

With the Defiant on its way to Earth to prove that the mysterious wormhole activity was indeed not a cloaked Dominion fleet, but a ruse orchestrated by Leyton's informant on DS9, Leyton sends his right hand officer, Captain Benteen of the USS Lakota (Susan Gibney, who portrayed Dr. Leah Brahms on TNG) to intercept the Defiant which is "not to reach Earth under any circumstances!" under the pretense that everyone on board has been replaced by shapeshifters. With the situation out of his hands, all Sisko can do is wait, while the Defiant and the Lakota face off.

This brings up a rather unique situation—two Starfleet ships shooting at each other. After a brief phaser battle, Worf and Benteen realize they have to ignore their superiors and make some field choices. Benteen abandons Leyton's increasingly outlandish procedures. With no one to back him up, Leyton realizes that he's lost his initiative. His approach is wrong, he's ruined, he decides to resign, etc., etc. This is all basically by-the-numbers, but the presentation is what makes the show work. Reza Badiyi's direction, while not particularly gripping, keeps the momentum up to a satisfactory pace.

So what does this two part episode mean? It's best summed up in one fascinating, stand-out scene between Sisko and a Changeling spy who assumes O'Brien's form. The Changeling informs Sisko that there are only four shapeshifters on the entire planet. "And look at the havoc, we've wrought," he says. He's right. Paranoia running amok is exactly what allows Leyton's power play to take place in the first place. The Dominion's biggest advantage over the Federation is how they can plant fear and suspicion.

Previous episode: Homefront
Next episode: Crossfire

◄ Season Index

102 comments on this review

robgnow
Thu, Aug 21, 2008, 8:46pm (UTC -5)
Ah, the "evil admiral" cliche'....

Actually Leyton reminded me a lot of Admiral Norah Satie in 'The Drumhead'... the same "only I can save the Federation from itself" attitude when faced with a possible invasion.
Anonymous
Mon, Nov 10, 2008, 1:19am (UTC -5)
I really do wonder about the portrayals of Admirals in Starfleet. They are always shown to have limited judgment, be otherwise incompetent, or be very open to treason. Even the Federation President is depicted as a bumbling fool. Are we really to believe the highest authority of the entire Federation is that incompetent, and that every Admiral is less capable than a Captain in command (as it seems). Some realism is lacking.
Destructor
Sun, Jul 19, 2009, 7:34pm (UTC -5)
I think having thr Dominion attack in this episode would ahve seriously undermined the theme, which was all about the power of fear. It's not exactly preposterous to think that the military might help to exaggerate an existing threat in order to get the populace to accept less freedoms- on the contrary, it was remarkably prescient.
Jay
Fri, Sep 4, 2009, 11:51pm (UTC -5)
I agree about the Admirals. They never seem to be particularly qualified. The one in Rapture comes to mind. Necheyev wasn't bad, but still a bit lacking. They finally found a credible one with Admiral Ross.
Nic
Tue, Dec 8, 2009, 7:11pm (UTC -5)
Your point of view is interesting (as it basically amounts from reviewing both parts separately rather than as a whole), though I would like to note that the writers never INTENDED to have the Dominion attack in part two. They didn't "tie their hands." Part I was purposefully used as a misdirection as to what the theme of the episode was... and only in Part II do you realize that the episode's real message - a very powerful and relevant one - is that fear of an enemy can be MORE dangerous than the enemy itself.
Anthony2816
Fri, Feb 5, 2010, 5:32pm (UTC -5)
Star Trek admirals: Let's just say that the majority of them are great officers.

The ones that aren't, well, they're the ones whose actions are interesting enough to become storylines.
robgnow
Sat, Feb 6, 2010, 2:16am (UTC -5)
Good point, Anthony. I'm sure that following around an Admiral who did his job competently and caused no problems for our main characters at all would be... let's just call it 'anti-climatic'.

Not to mention 'purposeless' to the main character's plot arc.
Jeff O'Connor
Sat, Oct 9, 2010, 11:04pm (UTC -5)
I must admit, I get a real kick out of going back in time and reading some of Jammer's wants and predictions. Here, he says the writers should probably tackle 'some kind of war episode' in which the Dominion are defeated, at some point down the line.

And then we got seasons six and seven.
Jay
Sun, Dec 26, 2010, 12:12am (UTC -5)
So we follow around the bad admirals, but the good captains?
Polt
Tue, Jan 25, 2011, 5:13pm (UTC -5)
Anonymous said, " Even the Federation President is depicted as a bumbling fool. Are we really to believe the highest authority of the entire Federation is that incompetent,"

I think 8 years of W proved how realistic those statements are.
GregHenley
Mon, Aug 1, 2011, 3:19pm (UTC -5)
So this surprises me. No one mentioned that Odo suddenly appears to know the Vulcan neck pinch! This IS what he used on that security guard isn't it? Was she a security guard? She had no phaser.

-Greg
tec
Tue, Nov 15, 2011, 3:48am (UTC -5)
She was blood screening and Odo is head of securaty im sure he knows all kinds of disarming techniqs
HammerSlammer
Wed, Jun 13, 2012, 1:13pm (UTC -5)
For me Leyton was the next Garth of Izar, only without that funny paper crown.
Peremensoe
Wed, Aug 1, 2012, 1:19am (UTC -5)
"Was she a security guard? She had no phaser."

I believe she did; that's where Sisko gets one to go confront the admiral.
Londonboy73
Fri, Aug 10, 2012, 12:09pm (UTC -5)
Unbelievable! I didn’t think it was possible – but Avery Brooks’ acting has actually got WORSE!!
How on earth did this guy ever get to star in what would otherwise be an excellent series. Have you ever seen a worse actor leading a show? I am amazed that this is not mentioned, here especially. In this episode he cannot deliver a line without sounding....out...every...word... Who talks like this in real life?

As for the scene where he is interrogating the cadet from red Squad - watch it again and try and argue this is not the worst acting you have ever seen – it would be criticised in a school play let alone here! It’s such poor acting that I am amazed he kept his job for 7 years!

Those who love DS9 wonder why with the best plots and great story arcs this is considered by those who dip in and out of Trek as the weakest of the incarnations. Look no further than this episode...Avery Brooks take a bow!!
Nathaniel
Fri, Aug 10, 2012, 9:00pm (UTC -5)
And amazingly enough, some people like Avery Brooks acting.
Elliott
Sat, Aug 11, 2012, 1:54pm (UTC -5)
Amazing, yes, but not quite so amazing as the people who like this series.
Nathaniel
Sat, Aug 11, 2012, 10:39pm (UTC -5)
I agree. We are quite amazing people. Its good of you to recognize that.
Londonboy73
Sun, Aug 12, 2012, 9:37am (UTC -5)
Nathaniel - I can believe that people may tolerate his acting because they love the series but think it is good??

If you take DS9 as a series out of equation and simply look at the guy’s acting – can anyone hand on heart actually say it is of a high standard.

Or simply compare his acting to ANY of the other main cast members.

As I say, in the UK at least, this is why the series never took off like TNG or Voyager.
MIster P
Sun, Aug 26, 2012, 3:19pm (UTC -5)
Brooks isn't good with the big dramatic speeches that we see in Trek all the time, I'll give you that. But the quieter scenes with Jake or his father come across as incredibly genuine. I like him a lot.
Sintek
Sun, Sep 9, 2012, 1:03am (UTC -5)
There is more to acting than line delivery. Who are we to say that's not how a real Benjamin Sisko would speak? I've seen and heard people in real life who would be considered terrible actors in film or television, but it's their natural inflection and pattern of speech.
William
Mon, Oct 15, 2012, 7:57pm (UTC -5)
So what does this two part episode mean? It's best summed up in one fascinating, stand-out scene between Sisko and a Changeling spy who assumes O'Brien's form. The Changeling informs Sisko that there are only four shapeshifters on the entire planet. "And look at the havoc, we've wrought," he says. He's right. Paranoia running amok is exactly what allows Leyton's power play to take place in the first place. The Dominion's biggest advantage over the Federation is how they can plant fear and suspicion.


That pretty well tells the power of this episode, and why I still give it four stars.
DG
Sat, Dec 1, 2012, 6:49am (UTC -5)
The conversation between "O'Brien" and Sisko got me thinking about how ethics work with this.

Firstly, assume two things:
--
1. Most sentient 'species' in Star Trek's universe are actually breeds of the same species, akin to dogs.(Half-Betazed, Half-Klingon, Half-Vulcan, etc, from TNG The Chase).

2. For sake of this argument assume Changelings are not part of that system. The important part is that they are NOT the same species as everyone else.
--

If ethics is based on a species' sentience or language capabilities, then yes, the Changelings are unethical. The Humanoid ST species is (obviously!)capable of language and sentience!

But what if it's based on Species?

Consider the ethics of humans vs. ants or mice. 4 humans could easily take out a few anthills or some individual mice. We also have dogs as beloved pets, breed farm animals, etc.

Imagine a world where No Human Ever Hurt Another.

We'd still eat meat, (aka, no PETA rant) we wouldn't give our buildings over to ants/termites/mice, we still have our dogs (Vorta ^ ^), we'd run animal experimentation, etc.

No wars. No murder. No rape. No beatings.

About our only flaw would be a strong penchant for
making feral children! (Odo...)

Compared to us, the Changelings are *amazing*.
Josh
Wed, May 22, 2013, 11:24am (UTC -5)
This episode certainly did the battle for the Federation's soul story a lot better than Star Trek: Into Darkness.

I'm thinking of Pine doing the final confrontation between Sisko and Leyton. It will probably be in a much noisier environment than a television set of an office. But it could have been quite awesome.
Sean
Sun, Jul 21, 2013, 2:37am (UTC -5)
I quite enjoy Brooks's acting, actually. Not because I love DS9 so much, which I absolutely do. But because I actually think he's rather good, albeit with a slight tendency to overact at more dramatic moments. Like the climax of Far Beyond the Stars. But I hardly notice it, usually, because he is so good at conveying the drama of the moment and showing us the gravity of the situation. And Brooks definitely has the quieter moments down. His deep voice helps, certainly. Though I will say that most of the rest of the cast is better, that doesn't make Brooks any worse by comparison. He holds his own quite well.
Paul
Mon, Jul 22, 2013, 9:20am (UTC -5)
@Sean: Usually Brooks holds his own. The problem is that he often has his worst moments -- like in 'Far Beyond the Stars' -- in his biggest episodes.
Kotas
Wed, Oct 23, 2013, 12:57pm (UTC -5)

Same quality level as the first part.

7/10
Patrick D
Thu, Feb 13, 2014, 10:17pm (UTC -5)
This episode is so prophetic, it's eerie. It annihilates Star Trek Into Darkness in terms of commentary on post-9/11 America (and this episode aired 6 years before that fateful day).

It's also strange watching Sisko browbeat the admiral for trying to trick people into war, when just two years and a half years later...
Dusty
Sat, Feb 15, 2014, 11:20am (UTC -5)
Leyton was not evil. Not at all. He was a smart, capable officer who taught Sisko everything he knows about leadership. But 'Paradise Lost' reveals that Sisko has since learned things on DS9 that are lost on Leyton back on Earth--things about personal honor and looking at the big picture. Leyton was so obsessed with the immediate threat the Dominion seems to present on Earth that he was blinded by paranoia and lost his way. He'll commit sabotage, treason, and a coup to physically protect the planet at a staggering psychological cost. And only Sisko, Odo, and Benteen stopped him. Meanwhile, the Changelings have only bombed one building. As the fake O'Brien pointed out, all they really had to do was make their presence known and watch Earth wreak havoc on itself, and that nearly happened.

What a plot arc that was. I suppose it makes even more sense to us now than it did when it aired. And I have no problem with Avery Brooks' acting at all.
DLPB
Sat, Feb 22, 2014, 7:34pm (UTC -5)
The major flaw with this episode is that it relegates the very real threat posed by Shape-shifters (of which one had already entered Starfleet grounds) to a story about paranoia, and a bunch of people who want to cause war.

Rather than tackle the very real issue of a Changling being a massive, massive threat to security, it instead uses the episode for leftist propaganda. And that's a shame.

A full arc with Starfleet dealing with the changlings would have been great. Those guys can be ANYTHING (if we ignore the fact that this is scientifically impossible). It would have made for some fun episodes.

Instead, it isn't the changelings who are to be feared.. no.. it's ourselves. Give me a fucking break.
Corey
Sun, Feb 23, 2014, 7:29am (UTC -5)
"Instead, it isn't the changelings who are to be feared.. no.. it's ourselves."

Well, if you think of the changelings as being similar to the US fears of "communist infiltrations", you will see that DS9's stance was correct. Most of the "commie" threats in US history were faked. Meanwhile, it was the CIA doing exactly what it accused the Soviet's of, in most Latin America, Asian, Caribbean and middle Eastern nations (also "friendly" nations like Greece and Australia), namely, infiltrating, assassinating and installing despots.

Here's historian J Coatsworth: “it is not seriously in question that from 1960 to the Soviet collapse in 1990, the numbers of political prisoners, torture victims, and executions of nonviolent political dissenters in Latin America vastly exceeded those in the Soviet Union and its East European satellites, mass slaughters consistently supported or initiated by Washington.”

So the resolution to the Homefront and Paradise two-parter was in keeping with Trek progressivism. It's only later that the treatment of the Dominion becomes dubious and a bit simplistic.
Vylora
Mon, Feb 24, 2014, 1:03am (UTC -5)
Well there was definitely a lot said about this two-parter and especially a lot of interesting reading in the comments for "Homefront". Which in turn made me want to say a lot myself. But then I decided I'm going to instead concentrate on these episodes. Not that I have a lot to add really. :p

Jammers reviews were spot on though I've always felt both parts were equally classic in my opinion.

4 stars each.
Eric
Wed, May 7, 2014, 1:16am (UTC -5)
Great Episode. Its funny seeing how TV series have evolved since then. Back then, you had to have a "reset button" at the end of any episode. Nowadays, you have more stories with lasting consequences. I actually wanted the defiant to destroy the other ship in self-defense, and to see the fallout from that play out in the next episode, and the one after that, etc..

Nonya
Wed, Jun 25, 2014, 12:17am (UTC -5)
*Yawn* Even more tedium, and much more self-righteous pandering. Thing is, we were never really all that familiar with Earth before the threat, so we don't know the depths it "plummets" with this two parter. Given how all of this stuff has been in motion for a while, paradise must have been lost a long time ago. Besides, how stupid was Sisko not to even alert anyone about the changeling he met?

That, and this episode has no affect on anything later on.
Yanks
Wed, Aug 6, 2014, 10:13am (UTC -5)
Earth "before the threat" is aptly explained here. Listen to Sisko's Dad if you don't understand.

Best line?

"JOSEPH: Worried? I'm scared to death. But I'll be damned if I'm going to let them change the way I live my life.

SISKO: If the changelings want to destroy what we've built here, they're going to have to do it themselves. We will not do it for them."

As for those that feel Avery isn't a very good actor. I'm one of them, but we trekkers are very welcoming/forgiving when it comes to substandard acting, aren't we? He's still my Captain.

"Eerily Prescient" aye.

Hopefully our over zealous "security details with phasers" can someday be "beamed out" of here too.

4 stars for me.
Jack
Sun, Aug 10, 2014, 7:26pm (UTC -5)
It was odd that the O'Brien changeling claimed that the changelings don't fear humans, since it was already stated previously by the female shapeshifter that the changelings' fear of "solids" was pretty much their raison d'être for creatign the Dominion.
Zuriel Seven
Tue, Aug 19, 2014, 4:13pm (UTC -5)
Another odd thing within this episode is Leyton's suggesting that if Ben needs anything (quoted above as "food, something to read") that he may ask Security at the desk and they will get it for him.

One of two things is happening: 1) Starfleet no longer requires officers who will be guarding changelings to read up on them (the most imminent threat to the security of the planet), or 2) changelings have started eating real food...
Ospero
Wed, Sep 3, 2014, 12:29am (UTC -5)
@Jack: You have to take the fear quote in its entirety - "we do not fear you the way you fear us". The changelings' fear of solids lacks the element of paranoia that serves as this two-parter's undercurrent. They fear the outsider that wants to destroy what it perceives as a threat, not the infiltrator who can put on a familiar face and never drop it until it's too late.
Peremensoe
Wed, Sep 17, 2014, 6:55pm (UTC -5)
I just watched both parts again. I too feel they are of equal quality--or, more precisely, form a coherent whole story of quality. This is *not* like the cliffhanger two-parters for which the second halves were written separately.

"Homefront" definitely contains clues to Leyton's real plan; for example, he says he's had weapons stockpiled... for *just such* an unprecedented security deployment.

Also, Sisko does tell people about his changeling encounter, at some point off screen. He declines to tell Dad at first, not wanting to scare him and not sure yet how he himself is going to proceed. But by the end both Dad and Odo clearly know that there are changelings, plural, on Earth.

Not that there's really much useful intelligence there. The claim of "four" may or may not be true, and in any event Starfleet already knew there was one, and if the Dominion can land one they obviously could have landed a bunch.

Changelings can 'eat' if they want to.

Finally, a note on direction. Remember the (great) scene where the Red Squad cadet proudly explains the sabotage operation--and thus Sisko learns the full, awful dimensions of Leyton's plot? The crushing fact of treason by his own CO, who he had learned from and respected? And then the *next* scene is so dark--literally dark, as he and Odo grapple with the betrayal. The light of "paradise," so bright in the early, sunlit outdoor scenes, has fallen into shadows.

Four stars.
Spindles
Thu, Oct 9, 2014, 3:06am (UTC -5)
In Homefront, the time index that Worf recalled during the playback of the initial explosion at the conference was 5-911. In this episode, one of the names Sisko mentioned in Admiral Leyton's confidential list was Snowden. Some interesting synchronicity in an episode about a false flag attack that would necessitate broad and sweeping new powers of the military ... and that is essentially what Starfleet is, the military, despite the fuzzy rhetoric.
Shayne O
Sun, Nov 9, 2014, 9:58am (UTC -5)
The point about incompetent Admirals however is perhaps apt. One thing working in the public service has taught me is that people seriously overestimate the competence of senior staff. It was not lost on me, for instance that the department head was the CIOs son, and that at 25 with no qualifications there was nothing that made him more suitable than his underlings, some with PhDs and decades of experience. But the right connections and perhaps the right social skills get you to the top. And this is the same for almost any organization, public or private. Humans preferance a compelling smile over a compelling set of qualifications. And we're poorer for it.
Filip
Wed, Nov 19, 2014, 7:06pm (UTC -5)
In my opinion, a brilliant two-parter. Everything led up to the scenes between Sisko and Leyton, and the Defiant and the Lakota, which I could watch over and over again.

I just have to add, because of some previous comments, that I am one of those people who enjoy Mr. Brooks' acting.

Both parts - 5/5.
MsV
Thu, Feb 12, 2015, 6:30am (UTC -5)
Filip, I agree. I love his acting and no one can say "Engage" quite like Brooks. That deep powerful voice.
Jack
Sun, May 17, 2015, 10:00am (UTC -5)
This episode really cheats, and it even lampshaded it with dialogue.

"Are you going to tell me how you faked the blood test"

"Does it matter?"

But...boy does it matter. How did Leyton acquire a sample of changeling material? This is vital to know. We already know that changeling material reduced to the gelatinous state the instant it leaves a changeling entity, so the ruse we witnesses seems quite literally impossible, but the episode seems not to care because it needed a climax. Can't give this episode more than a star and a half.
Robert
Sun, May 17, 2015, 7:03pm (UTC -5)
Jack, you rate the episode that low because of one minor quibble?
Robert
Mon, May 18, 2015, 7:25am (UTC -5)
Didn't they spend the previous episode testing Odo. It could literally just be a tiny fraction of Odo goo, right? I haven't seen the episode in awhile.

::blinks at other Robert while stroking goatee::
Batchick30
Thu, Jul 23, 2015, 2:53pm (UTC -5)
I am enjoying watching this series on Netflix from the beginning. I only ever saw it from season 3 to the end of 6 when it was 1st on. As dated as Jammer's critiques are I am in agreement with quite a few and the followup commentary of fellow fans broadens the view of many episodes. I am amused about the derogatory comments regarding the acting chops of Avery Brooks. Not everyone in the world (or in this case...the universes) carries themselves or speaks in the same way. He is a bit bombastic in language and physicality but I don't think this means he is a poor actor. Do all these fans bicker about William Shatner? Because let's be honest, he comes across very similarly. And his career has not suffered for it by my estimation. If anything he has been very successful because if it. If you find the acting in a show so deplorable then don't watch it and let the people who do appreciate it enjoy it as the entertainment it was meant to be.
Captain I/0
Mon, Nov 9, 2015, 12:55am (UTC -5)
Spindles: i've just been doing a rewatch of the series formthe first time in a few years and I too caught the Snowden reference and came here to post about it. Its a very ironic coincidence.
Jim P
Tue, Dec 15, 2015, 10:15pm (UTC -5)
How timely it is, watching this episode now, some 20 years after it first came out. The themes are so relevant to what is going on in the US and other parts of the world right now. The shapeshifters only had to plant the seeds, the star fleet leadership then took the ball and ran with it, nearly destroying paradise from within, all based on paranoia. I wish everyone would watch this episode now, including those running for office on a platform of fear, and listen to papa Sisko's words: "I'm scared to death. But I'll be damned if I'm gonna let them change the way I live my life." And then Sisko's follow up "if they want to destroy things here they're going to have to do it themselves. We are not going to do it for them."
Diamond Dave
Wed, Dec 23, 2015, 1:52pm (UTC -5)
I actually enjoyed this one more than the first one. The coup plot seems a lot more grounded than the paranoid fantasy of the first part, and, as the changeling reveals, the limited numbers they have on earth is already causing enough fear to serve their purposes. As an examination of what fear can drive good people to do, it works quite well.

That said, there are some things in here that don't make a lot of sense - the Sisko is a changeling set up for a start - so it's not without its problems. 3 stars.
JC
Fri, Feb 19, 2016, 2:41am (UTC -5)
The writers still could've take an acceptable risk by letting Leyton succeed in a limited fashion. For example, Benteen doesn't destroy they Defiant still but the witness officer is a casualty. Leyton destroys remaining evidence, feigns surprise at fake blood test, pins it as a changeling plot. Sisko gets sent packing without evidence. Leyton still tried for treason because of the Defiant thing perhaps, taking him out of the picture. Then president stays in power (so still acceptable in Trek) but for the moment troops remain on the streets and residents live in fear.

Or whatever. But the DS9 writers are gutless. The only reason this season ended up somewhat watchable is most of the episodes were mashups of TNG plots.
Strejda
Sat, Feb 27, 2016, 3:56pm (UTC -5)
"But the DS9 writers are gutless. "

You know, there are lots of things to critisize DS9 for and everybody is entitled to their opinion but this statement genuinely baffels me. That's like picking on TOS for not being colorful enough.
Quarkissnyder
Wed, Mar 9, 2016, 8:59am (UTC -5)
I thought this was a good episode but my immediate reaction to it was laughter. I'm married to a 9-11 truther. 'Nuff said.

The one part of the episode I really disliked was the conversation with the changeling/O'Brien. I thought it really detracted from the episode. First, it made no sense. Why would a changeling seek out Sisko to tell him there are only four of them? Did they want Sisko to succeed in unraveling the plot? Why? More importantly, it would have been a stronger episode if Sisko had unraveled the plot but there are still an unknown number of changelings on earth. (For the same reason, I would have left out the part about the admiral's minion causing the wormhole to open.)
Yanks
Wed, Mar 9, 2016, 9:27am (UTC -5)
Quarkissnyder,

Don't agree.

The changeling sought out and told Sisko that to scare the shit out of him. No details were given as to the location etc.

Quarkissnyder
Thu, Mar 24, 2016, 6:21am (UTC -5)
Yanks,
The emphasis in the conversation was that there are "only" four of them. Meaning, you've got martial law on the whole planet, affecting millions of people and your entire way of life -- you're overreacting. It is fear of the changelings that is causing this, not the changelings themselves.
Yanks
Thu, Mar 24, 2016, 8:00am (UTC -5)
Quarkissnyder,

...and I stated differently?
Luke
Mon, Apr 4, 2016, 1:36am (UTC -5)
"Paradise Lost" is indeed something of a let-down after the magnificent "Homefront". However, it is still a damn good episode and, with the first part, makes one of the best stories the show has produced thus far. The story of a man caught up in his attempt to safeguard that which he loves and is so blinded by his desire for security that he can't see what he's doing (and what he's destroying) is very well told. It really helps that Leyton is not portrayed as some demented, frothing-at-the-mouth lunatic. He comes off as a fairly reasonable man who has only come to the wrong conclusions. Jammer is absolutely right that the scene between Leyton and Sisko in the jail shows this perfectly - this is not an evil man, just a supremely misguided one. You don't even get the sense that he's attempting to seize control of the government for his own aggrandizement. He's not doing this out of ego, but because he honestly thinks it's the necessary and right thing to do. Very well done!

Two things really harm the episode, however. First, the action is just not up to the standard necessary to convey the importance of these events. This is a pivotal moment in Federation history. They came within a hair's breadth of open civil war. The significance of that simply cannot be overstated! And yet the only scene that comes close to portraying that momentous course of events is the one where the Definat and Lakota trade shots. The scene does a fine job with what it's given, but the episode really needed more intensity in order to sell the situation. Compare this to "The Die is Cast", when the Romulan/Cardassian fleet attacks the Founder's homeworld and the subsequent battle with the Jem'Hadar and you'll see what I mean. Of course, this is probably due to the fact that this story was originally meant to be a season finale. The plan was for security measures and paranoia on Earth to reach such a ridiculous extreme that Vulcan officially secedes from the Federation in protest. The episode would have ended with Starfleet firing on a Vulcan ship in Earth orbit. I just have to say - that would have been AMAZING! And I would have loved to see how their pulled off a story of planets seceding from the U.F.P. since there are so many idiots out there, like Rachel Maddow, who think that secession automatically means racism. But this plan was scuttled when the studio forced the producers to shake things up with "The Way of the Warrior" and most of the effects budget probably went to that episode instead. The idea of a Federation Civil War was then re-purposed into this two-parter. As such, it really hurts "Paradise Lost" because we really needed to see more than just one scene of Federation ships briefly firing on one another.

The second problem is the character of Federation President Jaresh-Inyo. This guy is not a very good president. In one way, Leyton was absolutely right in "Homefront" - when he said that Inyo would be a good president in peacetime but was a bad wartime leader. He is indeed a bad wartime leader and that somewhat subverts the intention for the audience to side against Leyton. Jaresh-Inyo is a bad wartime president because he is, quite simply, oh so easily manipulated and mislead. Good war-leaders have to be bold and in control of the situation. Not only does this massive conspiracy to overthrow his government take place right under his very nose without him having the faintest hint of it (and Garak thought that Shakespeare's Julius Caesar was a bad leader - I can only imagine what he would think of Jaresh-Inyo!), but Sisko manages to convince him to completely reverse his course of action no less than three times (twice in "Homefront" and once here)! Then, even though he's now suspicious of Leyton and his intentions, he completely falls for the faked blood test "proving" that Sisko is a Changeling. For a guy who has supposedly been in politics for seventy years and attained the highest office in the land, he sure is easily controlled! I'm not saying he should just refuse to look at new evidence and doggedly hold to his stance no matter what, but these constant manipulations do make him seem pretty foolish.

8/10
Andrew
Mon, Jun 13, 2016, 10:08am (UTC -5)
To me "Homefront" felt a little too ham-handed; Sisko and Leyton were well-portrayed but Joseph Sisko seemed a little too anachronistically extreme (referring to blood-testers as vampires and seeming to not consider the changelings or Dominion a serious threat at all).
"Paradise Lost" had some big contrivances (most particularly the O'Brien Changeling gloatingly explaining their plans and Leyton somehow being able to fake Changeling blood) but was just more entertaining.
Skywalker
Sun, Jun 19, 2016, 7:25pm (UTC -5)
@Luke, no way! Vulcan secede from the Federation?! Awesome! Go RDM! Where did you read that?

I really liked the interaction between the O'Brien changeling and Sisko. It was classic RDM; BSG would have plenty of those moments (like with Six and Baltar, and with Cavil and Tyrol).
David Pirtle
Sun, Oct 30, 2016, 10:17pm (UTC -5)
Instead of responding to a terrorist attack by 19 individuals by manufacturing evidence of a larger Middle-eastern threat in order to launch a war, here we have Starfleet officers responding to a terrorist attack by 4 changelings by manufacturing evidence of a larger invasion in order to take install military rule. Eerily prophetic.
NCC-1701-Z
Tue, Nov 15, 2016, 12:25pm (UTC -5)
Seriously, is there something in the water at Starfleet Command?!
Kiffer
Fri, Dec 30, 2016, 8:20am (UTC -5)
Polt......and 8 years of Obummer has certainly been a joy..........NOT
Downsouth
Tue, Mar 7, 2017, 7:22am (UTC -5)
Coming to this one some many years later. I keep seeing huge objections to Avery Brook's acting and a fellow trekkie I know IRL also says this. I disagree. For the most part, avoiding the pips and squeaks, he comes across as very down to earth and believable as a person in space as opposed to an idea about a person in space.

For me DS9 does hold its own against the other shows and certainly takes things in a completely different direction than went before. With its preoccupation with civil rights and totalitarianism, it is a 90s show that is, if nothing else, prescient.
Robert
Tue, Mar 7, 2017, 10:29am (UTC -5)
As a Sisko lover I will say that Avery may or may not be a good actor. I really don't know. I will say that Picard/Sisko were both "wrong" out of the gate and that in the end when they let Stewart and Brooks pour some of themselves into these characters I really liked the results. Brooks may be a terrible actor (I've never seen him in anything else) and he's just one of those people that is really good at playing himself. But I will say that sometime around S3 he became very compelling to watch as Sisko and I've always been a really, really huge fan. Acting or not be damned, he was entertaining.
Chrome
Tue, Mar 7, 2017, 1:16pm (UTC -5)
I think Brooks is a great actor, and works well in his part for this show. He can be very polite and persuasive, as well as assertive and bossy which makes for a good commander.

I don't think he has the range to be a villain though. Like in "Our Man Bashir" when Brooks plays Dr. Noah, he sounds exactly like his Joran Dax in "Facets". When Brooks chews the scenery, his scenery falls apart.
DLPB
Mon, Mar 13, 2017, 7:32pm (UTC -5)
Weasley response. It's like saying Hitler is a great man and well suited for the role of German leader, because he has great oratory skills and was polite to his dog, Blondie.

It doesn't change the fact he left Germany in rubble. And Brooks is a crap actor, despite the cherry picking.
Chrome
Tue, Mar 14, 2017, 11:01am (UTC -5)
I actually liked Brooks' acting in American History X; that may be his best work. I wouldn't call any of this cherry-picking though, Brooks simply hasn't been in many films/shows for us to judge him by. Certainly not as many as Patrick Stewart or Kate Mulgrew.
Del_Duio
Tue, Mar 14, 2017, 11:12am (UTC -5)
I'm still surprised by how many people hate Brooks' acting, I never had an issue with it then and still don't.

Is he Patrick Stewart caliber? No, but not many are. Dude is awesome and is only seconded by Picard as my favorite Trek captain.

Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd scene!
Peter S.
Sat, Jun 3, 2017, 5:38am (UTC -5)
Interestingly I found the episode to be fascinating, gripping and paranoid even if the outcome was obvious (nice to see a happy ending any way :-)). To me the focus appeared to be more about paranoia ruining the peaceful paradise on earth rather than whether or not the Dominion would invade. Any way, while the review appears to focus more on that than me I still enjoy reading them. ... So, the bombing in the first episode was in Antwerp???
Rahul
Thu, Jul 27, 2017, 7:00pm (UTC -5)
Actually enjoyed "Paradise Lost" a bit more than "Homefront" for a few reasons. It's good to get loose ends tied up like why Nog was talking about Red Squad, the changeling appearing as O'Brien, and getting a better idea of what was driving Leyton.

As for Brooks' acting, he does overact when it comes time to give a lecture on principles etc. His best acting are the dad moments with Jake. But overall, I'm not particularly impressed - comes across generally as pretty stiff.

The changeling appearing as O'Brien was the best part of both episodes for me. Just to convey the chaos they've caused with just 4 of them. That was well done -- nothing violent, just pushing Sisko's buttons in a condescending way.

As for Leyton getting carried away - I think it would have been good to see other StarFleet admirals around as well as other high-ranking politicians alongside the President. The episodes make it seem like its just 2 guys: Leyton and the President who are running the show for each organization.

Further on Leyton getting carried away, clearly he goes way over the edge to assert his power, putting Sisko in the brig is just the tip of the iceberg with the false blood test. He has lost it but really makes it seem like he hasn't. We've had a number of episodes with high-ranking StarFleet officers "losing it" (over the various Trek series) but with Leyton, I thought it was done quite well in that he gets very far and it seems reasonable...until he wants the Lakota to destroy the Defiant. Then it unravels for him. Not sure exactly what he was planning with the President (who is portrayed as purely an ineffective figurehead).

"Paradise Lost" gets 3.5 stars, nicely puts the finishing touches on a complicated but riveting story. Some good battle scene shots between the 2 StarFleet ships though if I recall the Lakota (being much larger and apparently more powerful) seemed to take worse damage. A good episode for Ben Sisko's character on the family side and professional side. The Dominion threat does get a more realistic feeling showing what is happening on Earth/StarFleet HQ.
Startrekwatcher
Tue, Aug 8, 2017, 8:22pm (UTC -5)
2 stars

Pretty underwhelming

I did NOT care for the twist that Starfleet--and not Dominion--was actually behind the power outage.

Red Squad big MEH to that

The defiant on Lakota ship battle felt tacked on and fell flat as far as action goes

The episode also really didn't focus or deal with the acceptable precautions for Dominion infiltration or invasion following the end of standoff with Admiral Leyton--it just got swept under rug--very unsatisfying

And this has nothing to do with this episode or reflects upon it but the changeling plot as infiltrators never mentioned again

The whole hour felt routine with a bad admiral and mechanical formulaic plotting and payoff

DS9 could do exciting riveting entertaining Dominion intrigue and plotting but these two episodes were not examples of such writing. No urgency no dread no foreboding no epic stakes no shakeup in the status quo. Meh!!!!
Peter G.
Wed, Aug 9, 2017, 10:04am (UTC -5)
"No urgency no dread no foreboding no epic stakes no shakeup in the status quo."

Lol, dude, you're barking up the wrong tree with this one! You picked the wrong series, bub.
Startrekwatcher
Thu, Aug 10, 2017, 8:40pm (UTC -5)
I was only referring to this specific episode.
Peter G.
Fri, Aug 11, 2017, 11:06am (UTC -5)
Ok, except even then I think you're way off. This episode has distinct consequences, some direct and some indirect. I'll say more if you want and if you've already seen the whole series.
DLPB
Fri, Aug 11, 2017, 6:23pm (UTC -5)
Oh, except "lol", YOU are way off. I've seen the whole series and Startrekwatcher is bang on the money. It is a FACT that this episode has little to no influence on future events. A FACT. At no point on do we hear of a changeling taking the place of - much less trying to take the place of - a high ranking Starfleet officer. This whole silly episode was simply peddling a nasty, deluded left wing piece of propaganda that "the only people we have to fear is our own ignorance and fear" - which is patently ABSURD given that the changelings can and did impersonate top ranking officials.

Lazy writing. Lazy propaganda. Whether you like or not "lol". See my other posts above.
Peter G.
Fri, Aug 11, 2017, 9:19pm (UTC -5)
@ DLPB,

I applaud you! I much appreciate you contributing to avoid giving spoilers to what comes next by pretending they don't happen! Good effort to help Startrekwatcher enjoy the series more and be surprised ;)
Chrome
Sun, Aug 13, 2017, 8:02pm (UTC -5)
For the sake of this argument, do we consider Bashir a high-ranked officer? I'd say no, at least as far as lieutenants are treated in Star Trek.
Peter G.
Sun, Aug 13, 2017, 11:21pm (UTC -5)
*SPOILER for Startrekwatcher*

@ Chrome,

I don't see why "high ranking" should be a relevant factor. The Changeling in the S3 finale said "we're everywhere", not "we're only impersonating high ranking people." What they do is mimic who they need to do their job, which may or may not always be high ranking people. Bashir is a perfect choice, being someone who's rarely in OPS and therefore wouldn't be caught doing things that aren't normal for him. He hangs out in his own facility running the place, and probably doesn't report directly to any superiors that he might not know how to answer properly. In other words, he has access without having arduous duties that could expose him, the only logical choice, really.

More to the point, after the situation in The Adversary, then The Die Is Cast, then Gowron, and now fake-Leyton, we've been given enough evidence that Changelings pick high-ranking targets, which throws the audience off from thinking it will be a lower-ranking officer next time. It if wasn't for the outrageous escape from the prison camp the plan would have worked flawlessly, so why pick someone higher ranking than Bashir? Picking a lower-ranking officer is the long con.

Chrome
Mon, Aug 14, 2017, 12:09pm (UTC -5)
@Peter

I think the issue people are having is that *Starfleet Headquarters*, the place where Presidents and admirals give major decisions, is being infiltrated. That's the big grab for the two-parter. From that setup, the logical consequence is not a random lieutenant a year later. Which leads me to believe that this episode was written without Bashir's replacement in mind. In that sense, DLPB is right, the message about this episode is more focused on letting fear and paranoia do more damage to the Federation than any actual infiltration.

Whether this ties in later in S5's "By Inferno's Light" is certainly something you could interpret into the story on a second viewing of the series. But the fact remains no direct link or reference is made by the writers. I.e., this episode isn't really a clear setup Season 5's two-parter.
Chrome
Mon, Aug 14, 2017, 12:14pm (UTC -5)
I do want to add that I think Peter is right in saying that "The Adversary" is really the big setup for general changeling infiltration in the Alpha Quadrant, which is directly referenced later in "Apocalypse Rising" and "By Inferno's Light", as "The Adversary" setup the the recurrence of changeling infiltrators.
Peter G.
Mon, Aug 14, 2017, 12:34pm (UTC -5)
@ Chrome,

Well, this does beg the question of what the Changelings were *actually doing* on Earth here. If we take it at face value that Leyton was unilaterally behind everything, including the false flag attack at the beginning, then does that mean that when fake-O'Brien was teasing Sisko he was just pulling his leg and the Changelings really weren't doing anything destructive at that time? Or did the Changelings somehow trick Leyton into thinking he had to do all this?

Or was the explosion at the beginning legitimately a Changeling attack, and just served as a timely window in which Leyton could enact his plan? It just seems that if he'd been planning for a coup d'etat for a long time already that even if the explosion was an attack it's almost irrelevant to the issue that Leyton was going to do this either way.

I guess if I had to complain about one thing here it would be that it's not clear at all to what extent the Founders were behind the near-coup on Earth. Since they were also responsible for the coup on Cardassia it does seem logical to suppose that somehow they put Leyton up to it, even by tricking him or playing on his fears. But we don't really get that connection here, and the episode is smooth enough to actually make us forget to ask. It seems wrapped up by the end when it's really not, because that Changeling is clearly still on Earth up to no good even if Leyton's been taken out of the picture. But perhaps the takeaway we're meant to have (which also isn't clear) is that the sort of plan that worked with Cardassian could never work on Earth anyhow. Not only did the Leyton plan fail, but it never could have succeeded regardless, because too many Starfleet officers are principled enough to reject a dictator; Starfleet couldn't be run from the top-down by a few Leyton loyalists like perhaps could happen on Cardassia with its authoritarian structure. So maybe after seeing that even loyal participants of the coup rejected it the Founders gave up on subverting Earth itself and decided to focus on DS9 in particular.
Jason R.
Mon, Aug 14, 2017, 12:58pm (UTC -5)
Peter, I am content to conclude that the Founders likely had little or nothing to do with the planned coup or the events leading up to it. In a way it's not unlike the 1950s when real Soviet agents were almost certainly present, but McCarthy's purge was mostly just skapegoating sympathizers rather than rooting out real spies and probably had little to do with their activities.

Indeed, That's actually changeling O'Brien's point, although Sisko probably didn't fully understand it at the time: we don't need to do anything much to cause havoc - our being here is enough! What Sisko didn't realize is that the Changeling was literally saying that they could do *nothing* and still provoke the Federation into destroying itself.

Incidentally, where did you get the idea that the overthrow of Central Command was due to changeling influence? This may have been Gow'Ron's pretext for invasion (no doubt spurred by fake Martok) but we know the D'Tappa council members were not changelings and as is even mentioned in the episode with the Obsidian Order wiped out, it was reasonable to assume that the power vaccum would destabilize Carsassin society opening the door to a coup.
Peter G.
Mon, Aug 14, 2017, 1:40pm (UTC -5)
Jason R,

"McCarthy's purge was mostly just skapegoating sympathizers rather than rooting out real spies and probably had little to do with their activities. "

I know this is a common assumption made, but it's actually a topic I'd like to read up on at some point because I'm skeptical that this was entirely the case. Back then it wasn't just a few isolated radicals making everyone scared, I think there was a legitimate communist movement in the U.S. going back to the 20's that was giving real support to Russia, and that's not even getting into the issue of spies (which we know that historically really were all over the place). I agree with you that it's a compelling story anyhow to suppose that the Founders were willing to let fear alone do the job, but for all that I have a sort of sympathy for Leyton's position, if not for his methods. I'd like to think that he wasn't merely a fascistic idiot but had real concerns that were justified by things he knew but couldn't say. The issue for me in the episode is the decision to compromise freedom for security, a topic that would hit the U.S. right in the kisser scarcely 5 years after this prophetic episode aired. It's one of the reasons I like it so much. So while you're right that fake-O'Brien did hint that they were really doing nothing, all the same I like to give Leyton a little bit of credit and assume they were actually doing nasty things that needed stopping. After all, based on fake-O'Brien's tone it feels like he was more interested in gloating than in letting Sisko in on a secret, which to me means he was probably playing down how much they really needed to do to get Earth to that point. Never show your work if you want the result to look effortless.

"Incidentally, where did you get the idea that the overthrow of Central Command was due to changeling influence?"

For what it's worth I tend to side with Gowron on this one. It's too pat that they have a Martok Changeling, and magically right after learning "we're everywhere" from The Adversary the Cardassian government falls? Yeah right. I doubt very much the Martok Changeling thought to himself "Well isn't that lucky, I can push for an invasion!" I give the Founders more credit than that, so yes, it's a bit of an assumption that they caused the coup. But then again they straight-up tell Garak later this season that his people are going to be decimated for what the Obsidian Order did, and I have full faith that this plan involved undermining the Cardassian government to make it weak, causing the Klingons to bring them to their knees, and while at their weakest the Dominion coming to the rescue with Dukat in tow. I've always seen the plan in this way, and the whole thing makes far less sense if we consider the coup to be coincidental. How did the Founders thing they'd (a) take power, and (b) punish the Cardassians otherwise? They pretty much knew they had no future allying with the Klingons (impossible to command) or Federation (impossible to corrupt), and the Romulans were too untrustworthy. The Cardassians were always their target, probably from as far back as The Search.
Jason R.
Tue, Aug 15, 2017, 7:21am (UTC -5)
Well Peter I don't doubt that there were Soviet spies running around in the 50s up to no good. The question I have is whether McCarthy's purges were very good at rooting them out or if it was just political theatre and virtue signalling.

If I believed witches were real and truly possessed dark magic I'd be equally skeptical that too many were actually killed in Salem.

I just don't think "witch hunts" are likely very good at catching witches. Maybe I'm wrong. But the changelings didn't seem all that worried about it.
DLPB
Wed, Aug 16, 2017, 9:53pm (UTC -5)
There are times that humans do themselves harm with paranoia and over-reactions. I see it all the time in sport, where a player is found guilty of doping and then a forum erupts with accusations aimed at other players on the most ridiculous "evidence" available "Oh, look at his muscles *snicker*". Classic witch hunt mentality.

But this episode is demented. Or, rather, the writers are. They are giving you a mortal threat—something that could easily be a war winner. A game changer. A race capable of—and SUCCEEDING at—impersonating the top brass. The top levels of command. Now, that on its own needs a massive response and some well written material in order to neutralize the threat to a believable conclusion. But, instead, they use this very real and deadly threat to say that there really isn't anything to worry about, and that the fear is all in people's heads. They are like a man with his brain hemispheres separated from one another - arguing with himself. Can you at least see how this is poor poor writing. Lazy? Silly? At least silly!?

If they wanted to show paranoia, then why the hell did they create a real and deadly threat in order to illustrate it? Paranoia and making matters worse through blind fear is only really relevant when... it really is paranoia and blind fear. Or, to put it an easier way: If someone tells you that a bunch of Vikings are going around torching buildings in the neighbourhood, and then you get evidence it's happening, and people start to panic, you don't say to them "This fear is tearing us apart. We must not give in to this fear.", and then leave it at that! You can be damn sure you would do something about it.

It doesn't make any goddamn sense!
Peter G.
Wed, Aug 16, 2017, 10:38pm (UTC -5)
DPLB,

It doesn't have to be an either-or. The threat of the Changelings isn't just that they *can* impersonate people to do damage, but that (as Jason R. pointed out) they *don't even have to do anything* to do damage. The threat comes from both sides. Consider how insane security would have to become to truly neutralize that threat - is it even possible with Federation technology? If not, what do you do, surrender? Panic? That is one question the episode deals with, and Joseph Sisko says it himself. If you literally cannot take sufficient precautions to prevent the threat then the worst thing you can do is to is to freak out about it and neutralize your own effectiveness even more. You're right, it could have been an interesting sci-fi premise to figure out how exactly they could feasibly defend against this type of menace. But as DS9 doesn't tend to be tech-centric I'm more than happy they looked at the morale and psychological stability side of it.

For a good analogy about paranoia and poor security, I could ask if you've seen The Thing (not the latest remake). That story is basically the ultimate in never knows if anyone is real or if the creature is even there. The entire atmosphere is tense, frightened, and desperate regardless of what's happening or who may have the upper hand. They can never rest or allow themselves to think everything's ok. DS9 isn't that dark and so they weren't going to go there, but they hinted at that scenario here, and the conclusion is that the Federation has to be better than that, EVEN in the face of such a threat. Otherwise might as well close up shop and open up a knock-off of the Romulan system.
DLPB
Wed, Aug 16, 2017, 11:02pm (UTC -5)
I can't make what I said any more simple for you.
Chrome
Thu, Aug 17, 2017, 11:35am (UTC -5)
It's that the actual threat of Changelings wasn't addressed in the episode even though the threat was real. This isn't Scooby-Doo where they pull the mask off a Changeling's head and it's really Admiral Leyton scaring everyone the whole time.

The Changelings did set off a bomb, didn't they? The episode never addresses how Starfleet will try to prevent that from happening again. According to the writers, it's not worth losing any personal freedom for security, even if it puts millions of lives at risk.
Peter G.
Thu, Aug 17, 2017, 12:01pm (UTC -5)
The actual threat isn't address at length, no, because it would devolve into an hour of strategic countermeasures, and if you ask me it would end up like a session of D&D it comes down to number crunching and who wins the security fight. I'd rather watch an episode of role-playing than dice-rolling, if you catch my drift, so I'm happy that they didn't turn it into a technical exercise in Starfleet Security 101.

And I do believe the threat was taken seriously in the episode; so seriously, in fact, that we're basically told what the writers believe about what the real options are. Basically it's not possible to stop the threat by simply increasing security. Arguably it's not possible at all. I personally can barely think of a way Starfleet could tighten up Earth security enough to "stop" Changeling attacks. Maybe lower the odds, but that's it.

But the idea that "we refuse to lose any freedom to increase security" is a strawman reading of the episode. What it actually says - not directly through words but through the plot - is that there are only two options here: Leyton and Sisko; total fascism and just hoping for the best. There is no middle ground that will achieve anything to stop Changelings that are skilled. Increasing security by 20%, or adding a few measures like blood screenings - useless. They achieve *nothing*. It's not a middle ground, it's the same as doing literally nothing. The only action that could even potentially nail the place down would be to turn the Earth in a totalitarian police state where every possible avenue of movement is tracked, locked down, and secured. I personally think the episode did a good job of *showing us* (rather than telling us) that nothing short of that kind of dictatorship would do anything to speak of. Leyton understood this and decided that security was more important. Maybe some people would sympathize with him if they saw it that way; I certainly understand his position even though I don't agree with it. So that's what it boils down to, and Sisko chooses to side with freedom over fascism, and it's really as simple as that. It may potentially be the losing strategy, but that's Federation values for you. The only thing the series failed to do as a followup to this was to give us reports in later episodes of Changeling terrorism on Earth as a result of this decision, much as later happens on Cardassia in S7. But they obviously didn't want to bog the show down with that and wanted to focus on the greater war, and on station life and politics. You can't do everything.
Chrome
Thu, Aug 17, 2017, 12:42pm (UTC -5)
"the idea that 'we refuse to lose any freedom to increase security' is a strawman reading of the episode...Sisko chooses to side with freedom over fascism."

Since we're mentioning strawmen, it's important to note that "fascism" is the strawman the episode itself it presenting. There's always a middle ground, and a one-liner at the end like "the Federation has created a new task force to investigate the Dominion bombings using the data we found on our trip" could've lent a little more credibility to what is otherwise a good episode.
DLPB
Thu, Aug 17, 2017, 1:31pm (UTC -5)
The Changelings did set off a bomb, didn't they? The episode never addresses how Starfleet will try to prevent that from happening again.
--------

Precisely. But I think we have another trekkie fanboy unable to accept the writing here has issues.
Peter G.
Thu, Aug 17, 2017, 2:05pm (UTC -5)
Chrome,

"There's always a middle ground, and a one-liner at the end like "the Federation has created a new task force to investigate the Dominion bombings using the data we found on our trip" could've lent a little more credibility to what is otherwise a good episode."

Why do you assume there's always a middle ground? That's an assumption based on current-day technology and methods. The Changelings are something new. I feel that this episode is specifically saying that Starfleet security actually may not be up to dealing with this kind of threat. We see in later episodes that they really aren't up to it at all with what happens in "By Inferno's Light." I agree with you that the wrap-up at the end could have used a line like you describe, but overall it seems to be the thesis (however controversial) that there isn't actually a middle ground in this case. You can disagree with the writers on that, I guess, but that seems to be their intent.

DPLB,

"The Changelings did set off a bomb, didn't they? The episode never addresses how Starfleet will try to prevent that from happening again.
--------

Precisely. But I think we have another trekkie fanboy unable to accept the writing here has issues."

It would be easier to reply to you if it seemed you like were being responsive to my actual comments rather than just repeating yourself. The best I can tell you is that I think the episode indirectly says that they simply *can't* prevent it from happening again. I don't know if that conclusion is correct or not - but really evaluating that is senseless because the writers have invented the scenario and the problem, so if they say it's not solvable by Federation security without devolving to fascism then that's sort of just a fact given to us. Maybe if you wrote your own show you could assert different sorts of facts, but arguing with the writers on this point is sort of like disputing warp theory. Sure, you could do that, but it's a premise we're being told so there's really not much to argue with in context of the show.
Robert
Thu, Aug 17, 2017, 2:11pm (UTC -5)
My 2 cents.

First, I took it to mean they a) are working on countermeasures (they study Odo a lot) and b) that they MIGHT be able to prevent further attacks, but they shouldn't.

Sisko is like the guy that decides we should all take our shoes off in the airport and his crotchety old Dad disagrees. Then when his Dad gets the piss scared out of him and complies readily with having a little less freedom Sisko realizes how disturbingly easy it is to get people to trade freedom for security. That one scene, for me, where Sisko feels unsettled by his father's compliance tells me what the episode is actually about.

"The episode never addresses how Starfleet will try to prevent that from happening again."

They will work on it, continue to study the results from testing Odo and continue to live their lives in a way that doesn't let the terrorists win. I thought all this was obvious and didn't need to be spelled out.

One could argue if it is satisfying or not, but I believe it is the intent.
Peter G.
Thu, Aug 17, 2017, 2:34pm (UTC -5)
Robert,

I agree with your characterization, but the only thing I'd add to it is that the episode gives me the feeling that the optimism of "we're looking for solutions" carries with it the implication that "and that's because we don't have any real solutions at present." So there may well be a strange mix of both optimism and pessimism being expressed at the same time; we hope we can eventually stop them, but right now we can't so we're working on it.
Chrome
Thu, Aug 17, 2017, 3:25pm (UTC -5)
@Robert

"They will work on it, continue to study the results from testing Odo and continue to live their lives in a way that doesn't let the terrorists win. I thought all this was obvious and didn't need to be spelled out."

That's a good interpretation that you added to the story, but it's anything but obvious. The final scene where Odo protests that nothing was really done to prevent his people from hurting Starfleet was only answered by Sisko saying like "well they need to hit us first, because we won't do their work for them." That sounds a little too laid back coming from a naval officer.

I think Peter's right in the sense that the episode is black-and-white about national security. "No restriction of freedom is tolerable, even for security" was the message of the show. A surprisingly one-sided way to end a DS9 episode, at least.
Peter G.
Thu, Aug 17, 2017, 4:35pm (UTC -5)
@ Chrome,

I'd add a caveat that while the episode is surely a commentary on real life and losing freedoms for security, I don't think we should take it totally literally and infer from it that it's saying that we, in the here and now, should tolerate zero loss of freedom to increase security. I think the episode should be viewed in context of the Founders specifically, which is a different scenario from what we face today. The episode is about the Federation, not about us, even though there is an allegory there for us.

I guess if we want to trace that allegory it *could* be suggesting that homegrown terrorists can look just like you and me and you never know who's a mad bomber just waiting to strike. If taken in that way then the episode is surely correct, that there's basically no way to prevent lone acts of terrorism of this sort. The FBI certainly has a track record of basically have zero capability of stopping such things even when they have a head's up, which often they don't. That said I'd be just as content to view this as being an in-universe message rather than a declarative black-and-white statement about modern times. If it was the latter I would tend to agree with you and DPLB that this would be a very narrow message.
Chrome
Thu, Aug 17, 2017, 4:53pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G.

I think you got things a little mixed up there. There weren't homegrown terrorists in this episode, but *foreign terrorists* (the shapeshifters). The other allegory is a military authority using wartime authority to seize too much power (eg. Truman, McCarthy, the NSA).

The former threat isn't the focus in this episode, but the latter is.
Peter G.
Fri, Aug 18, 2017, 9:51am (UTC -5)
@ Chrome,

"I think you got things a little mixed up there. There weren't homegrown terrorists in this episode, but *foreign terrorists* (the shapeshifters)."

Lol, I'm not mixed up. The point I was making, which incidentally I think was deliberately being made by the writers, is that there are terrorists on Earth that you *can't locate* and *can't identify* because they can look just like everyone else. They are not identifiable and seemingly appear out of nowhere. This is exactly the scenario with homegrown or radicalized terrorists. Yes, in the show it's a foreign threat so on a literal level it isn't identical, but in terms of how the threat presents itself that is the analogy. It's not the same as an 'attack from outside' because the ones doing it are already dwelling there.

And yes, you're definitely right about the other allegory about authoritarian power grabs. But I think both are the focus, not either one over the other. Part of the problem with domestic (or imported) terrorism is that it makes everyone paranoid that an attack could come at any time, and causes organizations like the FBI to engage is massive, sweeping procedures to catch terrorists and which mostly just succeed in curtailing rights and harassing innocent people. The aspect of the episode is about a people devolving into persecuting themselves in the process of effectively chasing ghosts. Oh, sure, the ghosts may actually be there, but they're untrackable like phantoms and for the most part the cracking down only harms everyone else.
Chrome
Fri, Aug 18, 2017, 1:23pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G.

"I think was deliberately being made by the writers, is that there are terrorists on Earth that you *can't locate* and *can't identify* because they can look just like everyone else. This is exactly the scenario with homegrown or radicalized terrorists."

Foreign terrorists can look like regular people too. Besides, homegrown literally means they were born in the country where they do terrorist acts. The shapeshifters may appear to look like Starfleet Officers, but none of their *homes* are in the Federation nor were they *grown* up in the Federation. I urge you read up more on what homegrown terror groups actually do, because you don't seem to understand the development, which is a little concerning.

"But I think both are the focus, not either one over the other."

In that case, they didn't really do a good job focusing on terrorists, because it took up only like the first three minutes of a two hour show. Everything else was about terror prevention and the futility of prevention (according to the writers).

Peter G.
Fri, Aug 18, 2017, 1:39pm (UTC -5)
@ Chrome,

"Foreign terrorists can look like regular people too. Besides, homegrown literally means they were born in the country where they do terrorist acts."

You seem to be quibbling over minutiae that are irrelevant to my point. At the time this episode was made homegrown terror was a concern in the U.S., foreign terrorists trying to sneak in wasn't as much. But yes, you can attribute the episode as alluding to either if you like. The World Trade Center bombing had happened fairly recently so it's possible they were specifically channeling that.

"I urge you read up more on what homegrown terror groups actually do, because you don't seem to understand the development, which is a little concerning."

Just because we're not agreeing doesn't mean I "don't seem to understand" something. And by the way, most homegrown terror in the U.S. isn't a result of 'groups' but of lone individuals doing crazy stuff. That's the exact sort of thing the episode is dealing with - a few crazies on the loose with no identifiable organization or group to go after. That is why security precautions for this kind of thing are invariably defensive rather than offensive, because you can't go after the unknown individual who hasn't done anything yet. And defensive measures are far harder, if not impossible, to make foolproof, whereas offensive tactics can often result in 'complete victory' if done right.

Chrome
Fri, Aug 18, 2017, 1:45pm (UTC -5)
"Just because we're not agreeing doesn't mean I "don't seem to understand" something."

You used the term improperly. It led you off on a tangent. It's not worth getting upset about.
Matt
Mon, Aug 21, 2017, 5:39am (UTC -5)
Why did the Changeling/Obrien seek out and talk to Sisko?

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