Star Trek: Deep Space Nine


3 stars

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

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

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

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

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

Previous episode: Whispers
Next episode: Shadowplay

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194 comments on this post

Tue, Apr 10, 2012, 10:24pm (UTC -5)
I am in the process of re-watching all of DS9. I had never seen this one before.

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

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

That's the only way I can possibly relate to this episode without thinking of it as being an utter failure - since that's all any other premise seems to give.
Tue, Oct 22, 2013, 4:43pm (UTC -5)
A poor episode all around. The female leader of the tribe is extremely annoying and the premise is not that believable.

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

Life back then was extremely tough, even for those with relative wealth, so the idea that 400 years in the future there are still sections of humanity that would willfully place themselves in such a life style is incredulous to me. I thought we had evolved to be beyond such ridiculousness.
Sat, Dec 28, 2013, 4:31pm (UTC -5)
This is one of those colonies where you cheer for the Jem'Hadar as they obliterate it.
Thu, Jan 9, 2014, 1:55pm (UTC -5)
It was an OK episode, but the ending weakened it. Star Trek, for all it's futurism, unjustifiably glorifies the low-tech past. Subsistence farming is a struggle to stay alive, and people starved in winter, when the rain didn't come, when the hail storms ruined the crop, when locusts ate the crop, etc. Today, the problem is more too much food than starvation.

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

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

By all means, stay on the colony, but accept Federation aid, and allow people the freedom to decide if they want to use technology or not.
Thu, Jan 30, 2014, 4:16pm (UTC -5)
I liked the slow understanding you get that the leader isn't innocent. But that's about it.

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

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

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

Not to droll on, but one thing about this episode struck me. The very end when everyone walks away and the two children stand a stare at one of two things. Either the box, which is interesting, or the place that they just transported from. Interesting, but I wonder what is running through those children's mind. The children who out of everyone, have known no other existence.
Sun, Feb 9, 2014, 8:42pm (UTC -5)
This episode always makes me mad because it should have fallen apart so much earlier than it did. Why didn't Sisko and O'Brien just refuse to stay in the community so they would not have to abide by the rules. Why didn't they say Cassandra's writing was a waste of time as much as their search for a way home. There were many ways they could have seen through the plot in the village much earlier, but that would have ruined the episode.
Sat, Mar 1, 2014, 9:54pm (UTC -5)
I liked this episode until the very last scene, where Joseph decided to stay on the planet and no one disagreed with him. Basically, that gave the villain, even though she was brought to a Federation court, a moral victory, which provides this episode with an oddly strange message for a Science-Fiction show...

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

So, basically a good episode which was ruined by its ending.
Mon, Apr 7, 2014, 4:03am (UTC -5)
And yet another episode wherein Star Trek glorifies the simple life.

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

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

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

Side note: If it had been Kirk instead of Sisko, I imagine he would have phasered that device outright, rather than leaving it so it could be reactivated. (Then followed up with some over-the-top speech about freedom to choose and whatnot.)
Dave in NC
Tue, May 27, 2014, 9:41pm (UTC -5)
Watching this for the first time as I type this.

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

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

2) The female colonist asking about fashions back home was cringe-worthy. The actress's delivery of that was absolutely horrible, but it was so badly written I don't know if any actress (even a good one) could have sold that line.
Dave in NC
Tue, May 27, 2014, 9:44pm (UTC -5)
The second scene with Alixus and it's already obvious where this episode is going. Someone should have slipped a Xanax in her tea before they started shooting . . . talk about scenery chewing!
Dave in NC
Tue, May 27, 2014, 10:15pm (UTC -5)
About halfway through and I'm noticing a Trek trend. What is it with the numerous forgotten human colonies and their bizarre philosophies? Every Trek series seems to do at least one of these episodes per season.


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

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

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

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

It's too bad this is probably the last DS9 I haven't seen. Sad to "go out" on a low note.
Wed, May 28, 2014, 9:57am (UTC -5)
@Dave - It wasn't a stellar episode, but I thought the ending worked. I think the point was that she had made a really cult. I always find the ending creepy.

It's a rare episode where the villain wins!
Dave in NC
Wed, May 28, 2014, 11:51am (UTC -5)
@ Robert.

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

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

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

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

If this had been written from that kind of a perspective it definitely would have been a better episode: for the actors, for the writers and for the viewers.
Dave in NC
Wed, May 28, 2014, 12:01pm (UTC -5)
I'm laughing at myself because I thought I was done and another gaping plot hole occurred to me:

If Alixis is going to be "tried for her crimes", then isn't it possible Starfleet would want some witnesses at her trial?
Wed, May 28, 2014, 2:13pm (UTC -5)
She did try to destroy a runabout. Go to a US base and try to blow up a tank, lock an officer in a box and fire a bow and arrow at another officer. I think she's looking at life in prison purely based off her crimes in this one episode :)

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

But I really think you were meant to believe that these people spent 10 years drinking the cool-aid, having Stockholm Syndrome, cult induction, etc. I SERIOUSLY hope the Federation sends an entire ship full of counselors to talk to these people before letting them decide to stay there forever making babies with the weird anti-tech box turned on.
Paul M.
Wed, May 28, 2014, 6:15pm (UTC -5)
Dave in NC said:
"The female colonist asking about fashions back home was cringe-worthy."

Time for some trivia! That actress also played the young ensign in need of some reassurance, courtesy of Geordi, in TNG's Arsenal of Freedom in Season 1.
Dave in NC
Thu, May 29, 2014, 2:55pm (UTC -5)
@ Paul M.

Haha, I never knew that! It makes sense, though, because she wasn't very good in that episode either.
Tue, Jul 1, 2014, 12:25pm (UTC -5)
What a piece of crap this one was.

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

All for HER philosophy? (slaps head)

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

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

1 of 4 stars...
Ian G
Wed, Jul 23, 2014, 8:47am (UTC -5)
I liked how this episode explores the dark side of leadership based on rigid political ideology. However the whole thing derails in the final scenes when the colonists aren't mad at Alixus and consider staying/turning the machine back on. It's ridiculous, she stripped them of their free will and condemned many of them to death. Her speech at the end is some ham fisted effort by the writers to try to show her as multifaceted, when the entire episode had built her up to be a pure villain.
Sun, Aug 10, 2014, 7:05pm (UTC -5)
I certainly agree that it seemed unrealistic that none of the colonists decided to leave in the end. But... while Alixus is certainly the "leader" of her community, I don't think we should take from that that she rules alone.

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

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

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

The idea that no one there was infuriated over the cut-off from their, what I can imagine to at least be a few, families is completely a joke. Plus the lack of justice for an obnoxious character, other than a few lines of dialogue explaining that she will be punished, is so unrewarding, and leaves me just wanting this episode to turn into an orbital bombardment of that village. I would just love to see O'Brian vaporize a few villagers, beam out, followed with a volley of torpedoes. Just get the kids out first, not their fault the parents are impossibly dense.
Mon, Oct 6, 2014, 3:44pm (UTC -5)
This episode is mediocre at BEST. I'm not really going to comment on it past that, except that it has retroactive value for being a campy parody of the Battlestar Galactica finale. The BSG team probably should have given this one a once-over before writing the ending for their show, especially considering half of them worked on DS9. You know you've got a problem when a clumsy Star Trek episode from 15 years prior has already torpedoed your high-minded grand finale.
Thu, Oct 16, 2014, 4:48pm (UTC -5)
Long time fan but watching this episode for the first time. What I didn't get was - the wormhole was discovered about 2 years before this episode (2369) and prior to that the bajoran sector was subjugated by the cardassian union for 60 years. So how did this ship end up in the gamma quadrant in 2360? In emmissary dax and sisko have a discussion about edron being 67 years from bajor at maximum warp.
Thu, Oct 16, 2014, 4:59pm (UTC -5)
Point of information, XS: Orellius Minor is in the Alpha Quadrant. However, it still seems sketchy that 1) there could be a lost human colony so close to Bajor, 2) that Sisko & O'Brien would be scouting for colony sites so close to Bajor, 3) that *Sisko and O'Brien* would be scouting for colony sites at all, rather than DS9's designated colony-scouting team or, I dunno, a flippin' starship, and 4) that any inhabitable planets near Bajor weren't colonized already.
Thu, Nov 6, 2014, 8:24am (UTC -5)
This is interesting at first, but it all falls apart at the end. Alixus is basically a villainous cult leader, even though her intentions are good. All the difficulties Sisko and O'Brien encounter are her doing, and she marooned all of her colleagues 10 years ago so that they would live out her experiment.

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

If there's anything good to take away from this episode, it is Sisko's dogged refusal to give in to her and what she stands for.
Thu, Jan 8, 2015, 4:56pm (UTC -5)
Hate Alixus voice. She sounds like she's having a shortness of breath but I guess she's one of those people who improperly use the H. Either she sticks it where it doesn't belong and she sound like she's choking, of for instance, she pronounces "Herbs" as "Erbs".

Hate the stupid idea roping the shuttle out of warp at the risk of both ships exploding instead of just disabling the shuttle's engines with phasers or something..
Mon, Feb 23, 2015, 1:38am (UTC -5)
This is a pretty good episode. I liked the story, especially the way Sisko/Alixus were easily at odds from the beginning. The woman was another Jim Jones without the massacres. As someone mentioned above how she would revert to extreme cruelty when someone opposed her views. She even had a son with a stupid look on his face with a false sense of power carrying that bow and arrow around. The colonist should have reacted more when they found out Alixus lied and schemed to get them there. I wonder how many of them had other family members they they never saw again. This a good episode.
Fri, Jun 12, 2015, 6:23am (UTC -5)
This episode achieves a rare feat: it's so bad it makes me angry!

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

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

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

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

Didn't Sisko and Obrien take her off for trial at the end of the episode?
Thu, Jun 18, 2015, 4:38am (UTC -5)
I watched it again last night but I don't recall that. What was annoying is that the people she deceived stayed behind regardless and she was not given any kind of reprimand for what she'd done. "Look at what we've accomplished here, isn't it fun breaking your back and not seeing your families again all because I don't like technology?"

Kinda reminds me of the BSG finale.
Thu, Jun 18, 2015, 4:39am (UTC -5)
you're* sigh.
Thu, Jun 18, 2015, 4:40am (UTC -5)
Oh, I was right after all. Haha. Sorry about that Jammer, you may delete these two messages :P
Thu, Jun 18, 2015, 6:53am (UTC -5)
I'm 99% sure she was taken away for trial. That said, I agree with everything else you said. The fact that the people don't reprimand her is ludicrous. In real life she'd probably have been killed by the angry mob on the spot. They can't ALL have Stockholm Syndrome...
Wed, Jul 8, 2015, 10:50pm (UTC -5)
I thought it was a good episode. After 10 years, the people had been cowed into submission and become accustomed to someone else doing their thinking for them; they've had the same message repeated to them daily for 10 years. Unsurprising that they still repeat the same message even after their leader has been deposed.

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

The colonists need a lot of counseling.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It's reasonable that some of the colonists did nothing, they're still under the control of Alixus. However, some of them wouldn't be angered to the point of killing her.
Fri, Aug 28, 2015, 12:26am (UTC -5)
Sisko should have pimp handed her like he did to Garak. I would have.
Thu, Oct 8, 2015, 9:59pm (UTC -5)
I'd have liked to see how Bones handled her. I can imagine is anger.
Wed, Oct 21, 2015, 9:59am (UTC -5)
I think it sort of undermines Sisko and O'Brien that Alexis failed in destroying the Runabout. If Sisko had saved himself, rather than being saved by Dax and Kira, it would done more to establish him as being a worthy successor to Kirk and Picard. As it stands, he's just lucky.

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

It's odd too, since I think the early seasons of DS9 has benefited from good pacing and structure even during its weaker episodes, unlike TNG which seemed to struggle with it so much early on.
Sat, Oct 24, 2015, 8:26pm (UTC -5)
I hated the ending to this episode, more than any other ending of any show I can think of. Because that smug psycho lunatic b***h got away with her plan. Sure she was taken into custody but she doesn't care, the idiot colonists all decided to stay so she gets to smile and revel in her victory.

The idea that the colonists would all stay is ludicrous; after they learn they were kidnapped and held prisoner there, after seeing so many of their friends and family members die needlessly, they still want to remain there because "it's their home". Give me a break!
Thu, Oct 29, 2015, 2:13pm (UTC -5)
I have recently started watching DS9 and so far this episode and Sanctuary have really pissed me off for roughly similar reasons. They are both just vessels for the writers to get preachy with us! (On a side note, I read the review for that one aswell. So far we have agreed on both episodes!)

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

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

1/4 stars

@Dave from NC: Your point about the witnesses made me laugh as well, I really wish someone made one of those how it really ends videos and shows how everyone has to leave anyway... Or Sisko just launches an orbital strike at Alexi's face... That works too.
Diamond Dave
Sat, Nov 14, 2015, 6:24am (UTC -5)
Very much a TNG-type episode, and also more reminiscent of a WWII prison camp drama than anything else. Probably the highlight is the battle of wills between Alixus and Sisko, two figures used to being in authority butting heads and neither willing to back down.

Of course it speeds things to a conclusion that Alixus is just a bit unhinged, but I have no real problems with the ending as Joseph accepts that there might be changes. 3 stars.
Mon, Dec 28, 2015, 6:42am (UTC -5)
I liked the episode. I thought the actress who played Alixus was a convincing cult leader/dictator being both persuasive and creepy at the same time.

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

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

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

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

It seemed clear that a low or lower tech existence was possible within the Federation.
Wed, Feb 10, 2016, 9:27pm (UTC -5)
Lessons learned:

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

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

Thanks, writers.
Joe K
Wed, Feb 17, 2016, 7:42pm (UTC -5)
Reminds me of a Twilight Zone episode, "On Thursday We Leave for Home" Season 4 Ep. 118 where Captain Benteen leads a stranded ragtag group of survivors of a crashed starship on a barren planet. He exhibits symptoms of megalomania, very similar to the Alixus character. Similarly to DS9, help arrives to finally take the colonists home, but Benteen resists, since he will no longer be the groups leader and savior. In the Twilight Zone version, Benteen is left stranded on the planet after throwing a temper tantrum; however, in DS9 Paradise, the colonists passively decide to remain on their planet, despite being duped by Alixus. There actually is a precedent to support why these people would resist change in real life and the authors touched a nerve on this one. It's called "cognitive dissonance." It is the anxiety a person feels given two opposing thoughts. (See Leon Festinger's work with cults). It is much easier to continue to remain in the present lifestyle that to leave, because leaving would actually be giving in to the humiliation that they had been duped all these years. As Spock would say, " Fascinating."
Fri, Feb 26, 2016, 1:51am (UTC -5)
I just finished watching the Experimenter (movie). Then watched this episode (it was next). Anyway, the movie was on my mind as I watched this. The mentality of the people, submissive to the leader, seems plausable. Yet Ben and Miles behaviour is strange. They try to show Ben defying Alexis but that's not actually what happens. First he just decides to stay with these people even though Alexis is clearly off. Both Ben and Miles have survived and been resourceful in other episodes even without tech. Just walk away. Then after witnessing the hot box the barely say a word. Just going along with her word. Hello! Where is the star trek high moral phyisophical high ground. Seriously we get a moral speech in a lot of trek and in this..pff. Then Ben shows meaning less bravado by staying up for night watch to prove what..he's defiant to Alexis by doing exactly what she wants. I'm guessing it was meant to be a subtle display of rebellion..I will do what you want so you don't think I'm weak. Again..walk away. Why stick around once you realize this woman is nuts? Just go do what you need to do..are these people so fearsome that you can't leave. Then Ben goes in the box. Really! F that. Once he is taken out and the water is on the table..take it, drink it in front of everyone..and for Goodness sake say something. A girl died, nut ladies fault. They were clearly tying to show his spirit wasn't broken..but he didn't actually do anything to stop the crazy. I agree with previous poster "there are 4 lights". Anyway, didn't like this one much. Just so unrealistic. I do think it would have worked if the whole community were volenteering to live that way. The "threat" would have been more real, the show of defiance more meaningful and the idea more compelling. The end sucks.
I like deep space nine it has tons of compelling stories in the series this one just fell flat.
Sat, Feb 27, 2016, 3:19pm (UTC -5)
What the actual fuck? Three stars? For this hunk of shit?! I said it many times in my TNG reviews and I'll say it again, to each their own, but I seriously must be missing something here. "Paradise" is easily the worst DS9 has offered to date!

I used to think that the episode was a rather strong one that was absolutely torpedoed by the downright offensive ending. But, having rewatched it now, I can't even say that anymore. Aside from the scene where Sisko crawls back into the sweat-box, there is nothing - nothing! - redeeming about this turd. I couldn't possibly hope to express my disgust at this episode any better than SFDebris did in his review. Therefore, I'm just going to transcribe it here, because I agree with everything he says. If you aren't currently watching Chuck's reviews, please do yourself a favor and start. Fair warning - this is going to be long.


"Paradise" opens with the kind of silliness we're prone to seeing in Trek, people doing stuff that by all rights should be done by somebody else purely as an excuse to get to the plot. In this case, Sisko and O'Brien are scouting planets for colonization, rather than running the station and making sure said station is still running, respectively. Well, as expected, this is brushed over so we can get them to this planet which has Human life signs but isn't a colony that is on the record, and they aren't answering hails either.

O'BRIEN: "I'm picking up some kind of low level duonetic field down there. It may be blocking communications."

Hmm, if it blocks communications, we could have trouble beaming back up again, right? Should one of us remain behind to make sure that it's safe? HAHA! I'm only kidding. Caution to the wind! Yeap, their now stuck here. Their com signals are blocked and none of their technology works down here. And that's when the Human settlers find them. But after a brief scare, they're brought back to the village where they are free of technology and, of course, everybody is happy because of that.

In "Paradise's" defense, I believe this is the first time that the "rural simplicity" horseshit has crept into Star Trek, so I'm not going to hold things like the damn Ba'ku Elves against this. But I'm already irritated with this episode for claiming rejection of technology. I see clothes. I see a bow and arrow. I see farming tools. We'll see paper, writing utensils, candles. THAT'S TECHNOLOGY! As usual, it's not a complete rejection, it's an arbitrary "this far and no further!". Take off your clothes and climb into the trees? That's a stupidity I can at least respect. Nah, I'm just kidding. Whatever you feel is your level of technology, live that way. As long as you're not bothering other people, who really cares? Fine. Once you force others to live differently, however, that's when you've crossed the line.

ALIXUS: "But we've done pretty well without our tricorders and EM converters and com-links haven't we? After all, the human body is a powerful tool. We can plow the crops, harvest the fields, construct the walls that we need for protection against the wilderness, weave clothes that we need to stay warm. In a way, we've rediscovered what man is capable of without technology."

Again, as a personal philosophy there is nothing wrong with that, as long as this is how you wish to live that's your own business and nobody else's. But, you know, it's high time that we address this issue. We've kicked it around a little bit here; let's get down to brass tacks. Is it really that great to have technology or are we worse off because of it? Let's avoid knee-jerk reactions and actually think about it - be honest with ourselves about it. Does technology make the world better? Yes. Does technology make the world worse? Yes. Both of those points are obvious with just a few moments' thought. Technology brings solutions and it creates problems. For instance, it gives us the means to reduce starvation around the world but it also promotes over-consumption on a cultural level. But, in a cost-benefit analysis, is it worth having more of our people obese if it means fewer of us would be dying? If one values human life and human condition, absolutely. But, let's not forget that there is a negative - something that we should address, not just pretend that it doesn't exist. Additionally, there are legitimate fears of exploitation of Third World nations because of the high-yield crops that are being employed and that shifting over to that from subsistence can have a strong ecological impact. This does need to be addressed. But over-reacting, saying technology is obviously the problem and must be removed? That's a fool's solution. It is sweeping and dismissive - throws out so much good for so little bad. The flip side, obviously, is that the lack of education, deliberate misinformation and willful blindness might cause us to ignore those side effects. But that's not the fault of technology. That's a flaw with human beings. Taking away our technology isn't the solution. I mean, by that reasoning, we should get rid of sex. I mean, after all, sure it provides pleasure and perpetuates the species. But it spreads disease, encourages gender conflict, can provide distractions and is the leading cause of rape, molestation, teenage pregnancy and abortions. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm not sure your going to see the Nintendo seal-of-quality on a game that might give you AIDS.

Technology has brought us nuclear, biological, chemical and radiological weaponry that can bring about death on a massive scale. It has also brought us medical technology that ensures that fewer mothers and children die in childbirth, that fatal and crippling diseases are now manageable, that we can live longer and richer lives than preceding generations. This life we enjoy comes at a price. Many of us in the Western world try not to think about the slave labor used to manufacture some of this technology or of people earning a pittance doing grueling work because they're afraid of being deported. But this, some of the more deplorable aspects of our technology, is at a historic low and only a source of shame because we know that we as a species we can do better. The alternatives, after all, have been massive underclasses working in unhealthy and dangerous conditions for low income if not just outright slave labor, which has been a constant element throughout history regardless of the level of technology. And, it is technology that has helped bridge the gulf there and make this exploitation the shameful thing that it is. The idea that we can maintain and promote the positive things that technology has brought us even after that technology has been abandoned is a non-sequitur. You are just as likely in a generation or two to have civilization slide back into the darker elements of our nature. Part of this is that technology gives us the ability to preserve knowledge better and better than ever in multiple forms to ensure its survival for future generations so they don't have to relearn harsh lessons the hard way. After all, those books that Alixus is writing, one fire and all that knowledge is lost forever. I'm not trying to create a bunch of straw-men here. I just don't have the time to debate every argument everyone has advanced for or against technology. In brief, does technology create new problems? Definitely. But create more problems than it solves? Only if one places less value on Humans than on nature or on some subjective ideal. And the problems that it does create are ones we can correct with time, with more understanding. And some may require us as a culture to change. Some technology we need to mature more in order to handle properly. I certainly don't deny that. But to believe that we must throw it all away because of that is ridiculous. Getting rid of all the benefits of technology because of some negatives is like tossing away your heart medication because it gives you gas.

So, Sisko is reading one of those books of Alixus' that I mentioned that she left in his quarters about how technology makes us all suck. And Joseph, the engineer on their ship before it crashed here, agrees that they're better off because of how it's brought them all together. Everyone is doing great with this sense of community. Oh, except for the chick whose dying of course. That's really harshing their mellow here. None of their attempts to use herbs and spices have helped to cure her of an insect bite that a standard med-kit could take care of in seconds. But trying to reach the run-about, the best chance to save her? That's dismissed by Alixus as a waste of time. When O'Brien comes up with a strategy that might work, she starts getting really pissy and tells him that if they want to do something useful, well, go fuck around in the woods and hope to stumble across a cure by accident in the next few hours. Or, hey, maybe we'll find a magical leprechaun who will cure her in return for a bowl of cider!

Cures for ailments can exist in nature, yes. But it is baseless to believe that the world is a video game where every disease has a natural cure in a form that requires just slapping it on and all within walking distance of your village. The odds of O'Brien succeeding in his task are a hell of a lot better than what is essentially a game of roulette with this woman's life. Yet Alixus is trying to obstruct the attempt because of her own stupid ax to grind. Like, I don't much care for this philosophy, as I've made clear, but I'm a live and let live kind of guy. But it's not very well live and let live if your obstructing the best chance for her to live! Now you've crossed the line from annoying zealot to dangerous zealot.

ALIXUS: "We've conquered seventeen illnesses with the most powerful resource man has. His ingenuity. "

*exasperated sigh* The application of human ingenuity is called TECHNOLOGY, you stupid cunt... ree doctor! Well, Sisko is not going to cow to her like all the others do so she's going to get all Alpha Dog on him despite her previous remarks that she's not in charge. Yeah, it's a thinly veiled lie. She doesn't give orders so long as everyone does exactly what she wants them to. If they don't, well, then suddenly she's in charge even though her way of life has caused numerous deaths due to cold and disease. Everyone has come to follow her because... well, we'll soon see. Yeah, Stephan has been locked in a hot-box, as in the torture device employed in some places such as some southern prisons in the U.S. in the last century, unfortunately. The heat of the sun turns it into an oven, basically. Stephan stole a candle. Hence the need for TORTURE!

ALIXUS: "The first thing this community accepted was the need to establish rules of conduct. All of us, including Stephan, approved this form of punishment as necessary and fair."

Then you are all utter dickheads and your community should be burned to the ground! I'm sorry that my list of pet-peeves are crazed zealots, the pointless loss of Human life and institutionalized torture! Hopefully Alixus will at least wait until she gets back to her room before she starts masturbating while thinking about all the power she wields. To further demonstrate this, she sends a woman to Sisko's room to seduce him so that that he'll be more inclined to bend. And when he confronts Alixus over it she orders him to stand watch and then work his morning shift. The coup de grâce is when O'Brien is dragged before the village for - ha - trying to contact the run-about.

ALIXUS: "This man has committed the worst offense that can be committed against this community. He has selfishly wasted precious time that could have been put to productive use."

Oh, give it a fucking rest! Is writing your stupid-ass books or expecting anybody to read them any more productive? No, it's only because you decide want is and isn't! Let me be clear about one thing here about Alixus. She is not anti-technology specifically. Anti-technology is merely the hook for her real agenda which is authoritarianism. I'll let you in on this early, the anti-technology field, that's artificial. It's being used by Alixus to keep these people here and to get aboard the run-about so she can get rid of it. So, yeah, Alixus is perfectly happy using technology so long as it furthers her own ends - to set up the field, to keep people from escaping. She has decided what level of technology they are allowed to reach until their HUMAN INGENUITY is no longer permitted to continue. The technology that she denies them is the means she uses to exert control. In her supposed hatred of technology she manifests the worst aspects of it's misuse - to treat the lives of those without it as cheap, because she will use technology to further her agenda but not use it to save lives. Ergo, the lives of these people are less important to her than her cause. And that makes her nothing more than a tyrant and a murderer! No matter what anyone feels about her philosophy, this is unmistakable! She represents anti-technology the same way that all fanatics in a group do. And it's very important not to judge the argument based upon the messenger. I don't agree with the argument, as you obviously see, but that is because I feel it is a flawed sentiment. It's just a coincidence that Alixus is completely, absolutely, to the core... EVIL!!!!

You may think that's a harsh sentiment . Well, here's why I think it. Not just because of all she's done, but want she demonstrates now. You see, her actions have not been about getting Sisko to embrace their way of life. It's about his stubborn resistance to her authority. This is all about breaking his will. So she sticks Sisko into the box since O'Brien is his responsibility. And when he comes out, she says he can have water so long as he changes out of his uniform - a sign that he is submitting to her will. In the only strong moment of this episode, Sisko stumbles back and crawls into the hot-box. Now, there's some confusion over this. Some people think that this might be to convince the villagers want they're doing is wrong. And, yeah, if Sisko does die, she'll probably just spin this as a way to strengthen her own power. But that's not what this is about. This is the counterbalance to that. She is doing this to exert control over him. Sisko's actions are showing that he will not be controlled. He will not acquiesce before her. He is deliberately choosing torture and death over living under Alixus' despotism. It is one man making a personal choice. And that's what makes the scene effective.

During all of this, Dax and Kira have been trying to figure out what's gone wrong, eventually finding the run-about after Alixus had wiped the memory and shot it toward the sun and missed so it flew off into nowhere. They backtrack it to the planet to save Sisko and O'Brien but right now O'Brien is working on sorting out the mystery. The explanation for the field doesn't add up. So he gets Joseph to deliberately put himself into a position where O'Brien can knock him out, otherwise Alixus would stick Joseph in the box. And he finds the device that's causing this. So, Alixus' son tries to kill him over this. But, O'Brien gets the drop on him, turns it off and frees Sisko. On being found out, Alixus is naturally out here playing spin-doctor.

ALIXUS: "You'd be surprised how many scientists are sympathetic to my philosophies."

Yeah, if the cost is standing you on a planet where I'd never see or hear from you again, I'd be all for that too. She actually has the nerve to turn this mass kidnapping, torture, murder scenario into something to boast about! Proud of all that's happened as she's ruined all these lives with her dictatorial creeds. This place is like "Gilligan's Island" if the Professor was replaced with Dr. Doom. But still, she's trying to call some of them out on this individually, to act like they're all better off because of what she's done.

ALIXUS: "Stephan, my friend, you probably would have been in prison by now."

He has no freedom of movement, no freedom of choice. The only difference between this and a prison is that in prisons they have modern medicine and aren't allowed to torture people anymore!!

ALIXUS: "Cassandra, you would have been a technical clerk in some closed-in room."

Even if I bought that, this came at the cost of HUMAN LIVES!! Hey, if numerous people I knew died to improve my existence, I sure as hell would hope to go from more than an office worker to subsistence farmer! I would need to live in a mansion and be a professional reviewer of supermodel blowjobs, and even then I'd probably still feel serious twinges of guilt over it.

SISKO: "What of the dead? What of Meg and the others?"
ALIXUS: "Only my son knows how I have suffered."

*exasperated sigh* If... I... had... a... gun... I would shoot you! Non-fatally, of course, like in the hand or something. Stupid belief in the preservation of life!

Well, Alixus and her son are being taken into custody and with Dax and Kira here it's time for the rescue. Of course, some or all of you settlers will probably want to leave now. You guys were talking about doing just that when Sisko and O'Brien first arrived. So....

JOSEPH: "This is our home. Whatever Alixus may be guilty of, she did give us our community."

GIVE ME A FUCKING BREAK!!!!! That's it?! That's what you end the episode on?! None of our Starfleet heroes talk about the fact that these people probably have some form of Stockholm Syndrome after ten years of false imprisonment, forced labor and torture?! And should have counselors come out here to make sure they're alright?! The self-righteous mass-murderer villain gets to stand there smugly enjoying victory?! All the villains you've had that have been interesting over the years if they could have won - this is the one you pick?!! Why don't you just have the viewer pick red, green or blue for the ending if you're going to make it fucking infuriating?! But, no, nobody (not one person!) is overcome by shock that they've been through all this based on a lie. They're instant reaction is - this is our home now. Rather than any emotions of betrayal or outrage?! Wanting to kill her for the loved ones that have died?! Not one person is that way?!! Not one person takes her books out here and burns them in front of her to show contempt for what she's done?! No one points out the obvious fact that a community and technology are not mutually exclusive?! You can still be a community without dying because you were bitten by a mosquito, you know! I don't think you're community spirit is going to break down if you replaced your latrine with a flushing toilet or weren't so short on lighting that a guy would risk torture just to have a god-damn candle!! You know what, fine, stay isolated here. The gene pool is probably better off without you!

If you're going to give the victory to the villain, at least have it make some fucking sense!


Seriously, what else could I add to describe the stupidity of this episode. I was sorely tempted to give "Paradise" one point for the scene of Sisko returning the the sweat-box, because it is indeed a great scene. But I just can't do it. I gave "Move Along Home" one point for the scene of Quark grovelling. I even gave "Second Sight" one point for Richard Kiley. But I can't give it to "Paradise", no matter how good that one scene was - it's just surrounded by too much dreck. So, Deep Space Nine gets it's first zero star rating.

Tue, Mar 8, 2016, 11:27am (UTC -5)

I'll give you a 10 for effort and content!!

I must ask though, what is Sisko trying to prove by going back into the box?
Tue, Mar 8, 2016, 3:56pm (UTC -5)
Alixus is basically giving Sisko only two options - submit to her authority or undergo more torture. Now, if I were in Sisko's place, the moment O'Brien and I stumbled on this village and heard their anti-technology nonsense I would have said "okay, so long" and walked away in the hopes of seeing if the anti-technology field ended somewhere. But, at this point, Sisko doesn't have that option. If he tries to just leave the village with O'Brien now, Alixus will most likely just have someone (probably her accomplice son) stop him. So, it's an either/or choice for Sisko. Either he submits himself to her will or he willfully undergoes more torture. By crawling back into the sweat-box he's basically saying - "Screw you, bitch. You're not breaking my will. I'd rather be tortured than acknowledge your authority over me." The only thing he's trying to prove is that she can't break him.
Wed, Mar 9, 2016, 8:32am (UTC -5)
@Luke - That scene alone is why I was surprised that you gave it a 0. I really found it effective (and better than anything in Second Sight).
Wed, Mar 9, 2016, 9:30am (UTC -5)
Thanks Luke. ... and I'd have to agree with Robert. :-)
Wed, Mar 9, 2016, 9:43am (UTC -5)
It is a very good scene. But all of the surrounding material is just so abysmally bad that I can't bring myself to give it anything but a zero. "Second Sight" is also horrible, but the bad material there isn't as actively aggregating to me as the stuff here in "Paradise", if that makes any sense. "Second Sight's" bad material is mostly just boring. "Paradise's" is grating.

For example, here's something I was going to add to my comments but forgot to include. Early on, this is said - "'Paradise' opens with the kind of silliness we're prone to seeing in Trek, people doing stuff that by all rights should be done by somebody else purely as an excuse to get to the plot. In this case, Sisko and O'Brien are scouting planets for colonization, rather than running the station and making sure said station is still running, respectively." Add to that the fact that it's Kira and Dax who go looking for them. So, we have the station commander, the first officer, the second officer (which I think it's been established that Dax is) and the Chief Engineer doing want should be done by nameless red-shirts. Who the hell is commanding the station at this point?! Bashir? That's the kind of thing that just grates on my nerves.

And the whole "anti-technology" philosophy is something I vehemently disagree with. Given that the ending (aside from it's other problems) seems to want us to agree that it's the preferable way of life, that REALLY grates on me.
Sat, Apr 23, 2016, 5:14pm (UTC -5)
I actually think this episode is rather brilliant. A lot of people don't know this, but the Nationalist Socialism of Germany in the 1930s grew out of the 19th century "Völkish" back-to-nature movement of Germany. This ideology has its origins in the application of Darwin's theories to human society, the fallacy that there are superior and inferior human races and only the fit should survive, along with the Malthusian fallacy that there are limited resources on our planet (this has been proven false again and again since Malthus predicted in 1798 that world starvation was inevitable by 1900 due to the population boom — in reality, innovations and technology, like new farming techniques, come from human ingenuity, especially in a free society, so the more people, the more food). These two ideas together demanded that the fittest people for survival (the Aryan race) protect Mother Earth from the lesser races which were stealing all its resources and overpopulating it. This is the original eugenics movement, the Khan supermen version of which Star Trek has rightly and repeatedly condemned for its antihumanism.

Naziism took this one step further and opined that constant war was the only way to rid the world of the weaker infestations of humanity, and then once dominant would get rid of all technology and force all people to live again tribally in communion with nature. Obviously they had no qualms utilizing advanced war machines and other technology to initiate WWII to obtain their ends, but evil knows no hypocrisy.

Elements of this antihumanist madness are evident in "Paradise," with totalitarian rule being necessary to enforce unreasonable limits on society, and with the preference to let people die (so much the better! let the genetically weak die, as Eugenic Darwinism would have it) rather than even attempt to gain access to the technology that might save. I couldn't help feeling chills when Alixus made Sisko get into the box, echoing the horrors of American slavery where again the "fittest" race felt justified in dominating another. Sisko's resistance and actions are breathtakingly heroic, especially as he nods to O'Brien so that the Chief can find a way out.

I also think some here have misinterpreted the ending as being pro-Naturalism. It most certainly is not. Alixus's speech and her people's positive reaction to it demonstrate the extent to which she has successfully conned them into believing they are actually happier to have had less of a life, limited opportunities, children and brothers and sisters and husbands and wives dead of disease and famine, isolation from the rest of the galaxy where resources, opportunities, and happiness abound. And all the joys of which they were deprived are possible because of the plucky ingenuity and andventuresome spirit of humanity that opened all those doors. Joseph, now the de facto leader, says "this is our home," this is now our way of life, demonstrating the tragic extent of the madness. If I may invoke Nazi Germany once again (although parallels are evident in equally malign Communist and socialist horrors of the 20th century), the German people too were taken hostage by fanatics — but they became fanatics themselves, and while there were good people who did what they could to resist and prevent the Holocaust, they were in the minority.

In the last shot, after Joseph the new de facto leader condemns them to their fate, there are two children, a boy and a girl, who do not walk away with the rest of the converted true-believers. They stand behind the box, and look with empty eyes into the vapor where once stood their potential Starfleet saviors. I found myself wondering, "which one will make it to adulthood?" They may have been wondering the same.

Thus, rather than a heavy-handed apologia for Naturalism, this episode is clearly a *subtle* yet unwavering advocation for the technology that humans can create to improve the lives of all mankind, and for the liberty that can flourish as our standard of living increases. I'd give it 3.5 stars.
Sat, Apr 23, 2016, 5:42pm (UTC -5)
I just finished reading your initial post, Luke (hey! that's my name too! I guess Lukes tend to be long-winded wise souls, haha). I am in complete agreement with you.

And I think so were the writers. The intent was never for us to buy into Alixus's naturalism-by-tyranny, but to be *horrified* by the ending! And look how horrified *you* were! It's a complete tragedy. The writers succeeded; I am convinced this was their intent.

Rather than the material being "abysmally bad," if taken under the condition that the writers *do* believe in the anti-authoritarian, humanist, technological paradise message of Star Trek — as you and I do — would you rate the episode well?

Read my post above and you might see the connexions between Naturalism and Naziism are terrifyingly apparent in this episode.
William B
Sat, Apr 23, 2016, 6:24pm (UTC -5)
@Skywalker, you've done a fair bit to convince me that the intent of the episode was tragedy, and that it was thus effective. It was clear to me watching that Alixus is portrayed as a villain, and I did not think there was much ambiguity on this point -- Sisko's absolute opposition to her, her inability to handle the slightest dissent, her use of torture, and her being hauled away to jail at the episode's end were big signifiers that the writers found her as horrible as the audience. Still, the episode seemed to me something of a muddle -- I didn't quite get why have Joseph et al. so placid at the end. Certainly ending the episode on the shot of the two children seemed to underline the people who will be damaged by Joseph et al.'s choice, but I could not tell if this was really the fundamental "last word" or a moment of the director and the writers at odds with each other (that beat is not in the script, e.g.). It seemed to me, and I still suspect, that the ending was being played for "ambiguity," but in a somewhat shallow way -- Alixus is a villain because of her methods, but maybe she was right about her ideals -- a way to avoid seeming didactic while ending up sacrificing characterization and coherence. In that sense the episode seemed to be about how maybe naturalism was good or maybe not (???) but it was wrong to kidnap and torture people, which meant it didn't quite seem to me that it was about anything.

But the connection to Nazism brings the relationship between her so-called ideals and her methods into greater focus. That Alixus' fundamental position is that "we have become fat and lazy" and that humans need to suffer in order to learn has social Darwinian aspects. Her use of technology to abolish technology makes sense in terms of the war machine to impose tribalism. And the box itself -- a metal box -- evokes the horrors of slavery, tanks, and gas chambers as well.

I am still not quite sure what to make of the ending, though, because I cannot get past the idea that we are meant to at least somewhat take Joseph's statement that they have found their true selves, or some such, at face value. Joseph is depicted as open-minded and kind, and he also states that they will decide whether or not to leave the anti-tech generator on or off. Now, if the idea here is that moderates and kind souls can still be afflicted with the ideological contagion, then that works...but if Joseph et al. do turn off the anti-tech generator, then are they still in Alixus' thrall? Is Joseph simply deluded in thinking that they have found some "true selves" and if so, what made him believe that? I guess Alixus' con. Certainly, that the group seems to have some sort of one-mind groupthink and the children are left to stare at the spot where their salvation just beamed away is very dangerous, but I still almost feel as if Joseph is written with too many...signifiers of being a reasonable man, who might be able to reform Alixus' false paradise and build a "real" "paradise" out of it...for me to be totally convinced that the ending is meant to be tragic rather than...I don't know, ambivalent. I guess since I think that it's a problem that no one on the planet seems to be even bothering to send messages back to their families off-planet, we know that it's not a truly good ending, and so that Joseph is less inclined to extremism than Alixus should not give us much hope that their will lives be more than a bit better.
Sat, Apr 23, 2016, 8:27pm (UTC -5)
@Skywalker - quit stealing my name! :-P

I really like your allusions to National Socialism and the Malthusian Fallacy, as they are both very evident in Alixus' character. However, I don't agree with your take on the ending of the episode. William B is kind of on to something when he says that maybe it was intended to be ambiguous. But, I'm not willing to even give the episode that much. It doesn't seem ambiguous at all to me. I honestly think we're supposed to take Joseph's belief about "finding their true selves" at face value. The complete absence of any counter-argument to his statement and decision from our Starfleet heroes effectively signals that, for me. And given that the final beat with the kids looking into the sky isn't in the script (I'm taking William B's word for that, as I haven't read the script), it only solidifies my take on the matter and makes me think it was, in fact, a moment of the director and actors being at odds. If this was intended to be a murky ending there should have been some kind of statement from Sisko or O'Brien about Joseph and the others suffering some kind of Stockholm Syndrome effects. Or the writers could have brought up the connections to how National Socialism and Communism did the same thing to people (much as you have). The message seems pretty clear - Alixus is a villain (which I do agree that the episode is very firm on), but only because of her methods - the underlying message is sound.

Let me just be frank - I have no love for this underlying message of "rural/rustic simplicity." Personally, I think it's horseshit. Now, if someone wants to live that way, I say more power to them. But it's a way of life I will never embrace and it really grinds my gears when a piece of fiction presents it so glowingly - that's one of the main reasons why I despise "Star Trek: Insurrection" (among many others).

When I was a teenager, I was a Boy Scout. Every summer I had to go off to Summer Camp with my troop. It was always a miserable experience because it was a week without technology. One summer, in addition to Summer Camp, the troop went out to the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. More than any other experience in my life, that convinced me that this whole "back to basics" or "communing with nature" philosophy is nonsense. We spent two whole weeks out in the northern New Mexico foothills with literally no technology - we were in the exact same position as the colonists in this episode. The only technology in sight was that each base camp had a land-line telephone (for use in case of medical emergencies) which only the Ranch staff could use. Each camp also had a working vehicle in case they needed to get someone out of there in a hurry (again, in case of a medical emergency). That was it. As bad as the annual Summer Camps were, they were only around five days long. This was a full fourteen days (twenty when adding in time getting to and from New Mexico) without the conveniences of modern technology. When it was all said and done, and I was back at home, all I wanted to do was stand in a scalding hot shower for five straight hours, sit in my magnificently air-conditioned living room, play video games and (probably not surprisingly here) watch a shitload of Star Trek re-runs. What I learned from my close to three weeks of communing with nature was that Mother Nature is not a kind, old soul. She's a real bitch! If given the choice between saving the planet but living without technology or not while having those creature comforts, I'll pick the comforts every time! Nature - it's a nice place to visit from time to time, but not a nice place to live.

"Paradise", and "Insurrection", however, really want to push the idea that the opposite is true - that living without technology is the preferable way to go. Well, I learned the hard way that it isn't fun and it sure as hell isn't ennobling. So, long story short - no, I'm not willing to give the episode a higher score. I don't see it showcasing the terrifying connections between National Socialism and Naturalism. If they had showcased those connections, directly by having Sisko or O'Brien openly state them, I would be willing to rise the score. In fact, I would probably be willing to rise it quite a bit. But, without that, I have to give a zero.
Sun, Apr 24, 2016, 12:00am (UTC -5)
@William B and @Luke, thanks for your quick responses! Actually, how did you get notified there was a response in this thread? I only noticed because I reloaded the page.

We three agree that the Star Trek's philosophy of technological futurism is probably a good path for real society, and that this was at least partially intended by "Paradise" — but I will come over to your side to concur that this story could have been executed better by making possible analogies to Naziism and Völkism, among others, more clear for a wider audience, and the ending more crystal (watching it once again, I think the *music* is the most confusing part of the ending since it's too happy). It is possible there were conflicts of expression and interpretation between the script writers, the story writers, the director, and the actors, and ambiguity resulted.

And even if "Paradise" *was* meant by all parties to express to the interpretation I favor, I can agree that its subtlety makes the message too blurry to see for a more general audience. (Although the subtlety was a plus for me.) I tend to like those sorts of plays that end with a bit of ambiguity that takes a few minutes after final curtain to tease out the best meaning, like Glengary Glen Ross, Death of a Salesman, or Fences, but that doesn't mean it's good Star Trek.

So, with my particularly sharp awareness of the story of antihumanism (I just read Merchants of Despair by Robert Zubrin), I will say this is an excellent episode for *me* as the audience, and stand by my affection for it — without expecting a broader appreciation.
William B
Sun, Apr 24, 2016, 7:56am (UTC -5)
@Skywalker, check out the Comment Browser feature on Jammer's site, which lists the most recent comments. That's how I saw your recent post (and I presume Luke as well).

For what it's worth, I do like ambiguity in art and I like Glengarry Glen Ross and Death of a Salesman for that reason (haven't seen Fences). There are episodes that I think get ambiguity right. Here -- I find it comes across as a bit of a muddle of meaning rather than portraying a situation too complicated to put in a single message. I'm not sure what the difference is in my reaction. However, I don't think my reaction is necessarily proof that the episode failed, and I really like your take on it.
Greg Q
Sun, May 1, 2016, 3:40am (UTC -5)
Horrible. I want to see the trial once they get back. This episode was one of the worst ever in all of television, even black and white and color television shows. Horrendous.
Mon, May 2, 2016, 1:30am (UTC -5)
@Alvin, I think you're a little confused as to the definition of a bottle episode...
Sun, May 8, 2016, 2:09pm (UTC -5)
What I don't understand is that if she wanted to create a community that wants to live without technology, find other people who want to live without modern technology! Are there no Amish people or naturalist left on earth? did world war III kill them all?

I did love the ending shot of the children staring at the spot Sisko and O'brien were transported from. and there look of confusion and interest at the technology their stupid parents have decided to keep them from ever learning about. Sort of gives me hope that the children eventually left that world or at least got into contact with starfleet so they would stop dying from disease and treatable injuries.

Sisko and O'brien's defiance of these lunatics instead of joining them earns this episode 3.5 stars from me.
Thu, May 26, 2016, 1:46am (UTC -5)
Interesting ideas but, oy, that ending...

I watched this one ep at random after watching a lot of TOS. On one hand, it's refreshing to see a Trek that's more nuanced. Kirk would have overturned this society and punished the leader, no problem, simple and predictable.

On the other hand, this ep goes beyond nuanced to completely passive. Sisko doesn't fight, he gets in the box. The lying, abusive cult leader gets no comeuppance. Not a single villager wants to leave. Neither Sisko nor OBrien even try to explain to these people the extent to which they've been psychologically abused.

I get that defeating the "baddie" wasn't the point of the episode, but the viewer is expected to play as dead as Sisko and as dumb as the villagers. All DS9 had to do to sell it was have at least one villager ready to leave (believable) and have one protagonist at least decry Alexus as a tortuous cult leader before beaming away (satisfying). But no, she makes a huge speech, and our heroes don't even rebut. At that point, even I'm like "At least Kirk would have told someone off!" Hell, Picard would have.
Sun, Jul 3, 2016, 10:13am (UTC -5)
Much has already been said that puts this episode into good context. And sci fi storytelling has come a long way since this episode first aired in 1994, over twenty years ago. While the aforementioned "tragedy" perspective makes sense, I get the feeling that this is not the message the producers (et al) were going for with this episode. But instead, we are to take at face value the noble naturalism and humanism that enamored Southern California culture - in a preponderence of this "commune moon" trope seen in so many other series and stories.

Offhand, let's see, in no particular order, there was the Masterpiece Society, the Bringloidi, the Ba'Ku, the Ventu, the Va'al tribe, Children of Time, Marauders, The Nox (and a whole slew of SG1/Atlantis societies), some in Farscape as I recall, and of course plenty from Andromeda, Hercules and Xena. The future is primordial or medieval, apparently, and even we hyper-tech types all sit around stomping grapes and listening to 19th century classical music and buttoning up our Victorian waistcoats and lacing up our corsets.

Ok, so this one - Paradise - is as much about cultism as anything else. We see it in Alixa's Cult of Personality, that manages to rationalize all manner of immoral behaviors in the guise of ideology, which is just a tool of Autoritarianism and underlying Narcissism.

Other than pointing out weaknesses in the story structure - and there are plenty - I will attempt to mention things that may have improved this story for me personally, with which some may disagree.

Sisko's immediate acquiescence to the local power structure - we see him and O'Brien working in a field before even attempting their own solutions. With a child on her deathbed. Right away, this episode asks us to compromise our own experience with the main characters. You can't explain or justify their surrender? They are not one day crash landed and now they are expected to get jobs? And no one bats an eye or says a word in contradiction?

Now we send in a temptress to ply Sisko's favor and - hey, let's keep it as puritarian as possible - we wouldn't want the audience to have any temptation, would we. Could that scene be any less sensual? I know, remove a few candles so we can disconnect even more from any sensual context? That scene was about as tempting as Keiko feeding Molly and talking about her schedule.

The theft of the runabout - and its chance "bouncing off the star's magnetic flux" leaving a trail for Dax and Kira to track back to the Orellian system? And having found the runabout, their best option - is not to engage its remote systems, as we have already seen in The Armageddon Game not TWO EPISODES AGO - but to use brute force on THEIR OWN SHIP to drag it to a stop against warp forces that threaten to disintegrate both ships? And when they do it - the ships go from slow to stop, and we are supposed to feel relief? Well if you want viewers to feel relief, you have to thrill them first. Watching a tractor emitter - ain't it.

Well, there are a few other choice moments I would rip straight out of the typewriter cradle:

"Perhaps one day you'll even feel the hand of God on your shoulder. "
Um, and you won't, Emissary?

"Here, bend down and let me knock you out."
"Duh, OK." When, in the history of the human race, has one person ever bent down to let another person knock them out? I have an idea, how about YOU FIRST. What do I look like, a Ferengi?

"Take off your uniform for the twentieth time."
Say, are you worried that this reminder might foster a little dissent? Well where is that issue you are so eager to snuff out in its germination? But no, not ONE villager dogs our heroes to ask "Um, hey, can you like, tell us if you have had any new alien invasions we might want to know about?"

That the village exists at all ANYWHERE in the vicinity of a rapacious Cardassian Empire, desperate for planetary resources - makes NO sense to me. Like the Ba'ku, I want Bajoran refugees to start squatting in their little idyllic world and start ripping them to shreds with their "Cardassian labor camp" shtick.

"Get in the box."
"Okey Dokey. I'm not a colonist but whatever, herp derp."

"He stole a candle."
What a douchebag! You know what, get in the box for having such lame-ass ambitions!

"Take off your uniform again."
"I still don't want to exploit this obvious threat to your sense of control with a public question. Just let me get back in my box, okey dokey. I'm not a colonist, but whatever, herp derp."

Villagers: "No dissent here, no gossip, nothing special going on here." Really? Then what was Alixa so threatened by? She obviously already knew they weren't going to pay SAG rates for speaking roles from the extras.

And more. But finally, my biggest beef with this episode is the lack of satisfying payoff of any kind. Sure, they hit the reset button, but the story felt as though it had ended in the first act. There was no change, no explanation, no denouement, only a still life followed by an anticlimactic beamout. And then, as if to send a cautionary chill up our spines, two children left staring at the escape denied to them and the box that awaited them.

As I say, if I thought this was scripted as a tragedy I could accept this ending's intention (but not its execution). But I think the intended message was more like - "we have vaguely unlocked out restrictions but a naturalistic community is a special human bond you couch potatoes have lost touch with. And all the hope we'll give you is this vague childish dichotomy of torture vs technology." Nice. Never mind the other confusing question that - their bondage was actually the result of technology. Now that is a messed up question that the episode hadn't even begun to address.

And not ONE villager speaking up to say - hey, um, I don't mind being lied to for my own role in someone else's house of cards "utopia". Here's the episode's true crime - it is IMPLAUSIBLE. When the duonetic field was lifted, the OBVIOUS conflict arising from that situation was "is it moral to abandon half the villagers who want to stay, and can they retain their identity - or even survive - with half the village PACKED AND READY TO LEAVE IMMEDIATELY." This question was explored more fully, and far more satisfyingly, in Voyager's "The 37's."

But no, "Paradise" instead peters out with an inevitable deus ex machina rescue and NOT ONE WORD OF DISPLEASURE FROM ANYONE. Not even a log entry.

But most notable about this episode is the comparison it raises to Roddenberry's Star Trek utopian vision itself. The Orellian (Orwellian?) village is an egalitarian society without currency, repressed under an unassailable, "perfect" ideological doctrine in which each member has his or her individual power stripped of them, forced to cooperate and told they are free; while gradually regressing toward superstition, brutishness, and despotism. The dictator's plans included a spiritual aspect, as well, which would have cast her in a sham demigod-like state similar to the Un regime in North Korea. Evangelists from hell cloaking their ambitions in terms of unreachable ideological perfectionism. Thus giving them a perpetual license to punish for falling short - while of course escaping any account for themselves. We've seen these themes already in the Circle trilogy (Winn and Jaro), and we'll see them later in Dukat.

Contrasted to the Federation, which - may tolerate all manner of cultural relativistic injustices, but at least lets you leave. But what of other distinctions? Certainly the Federation has had its share of despots, predatory societies, torture, luddism, cultism, and institutionalized hypocrisy. (I'll leave it to readers to think of examples for each case). It's an interesting juxtaposition to understand what gives the Federation its appeal can also be bait for an Orellian bait-and-switch trap. All so prevalent even today.

I think it's a strong premise worth exploring, and that the episode had all the elements for a great story. However it failed raise the right questions, it failed to depict what normal humans would do, and it provided more than needed exposition at the cost of any satisfying resolution.

Even allowing that the community had not been fractured by its recent loss of identity, the loss of three people, its ideologue, cohesion, its common sense - simply leaving them alone to fend for themselves without so much as arranging a subspace communicator or way off the planet - is just plain asking viewers to stop caring for any of these people's outcomes. Oh and how about those hot boxes? Everything hunky dory there? Federation? Um, in case you cared, the Prime Directive doesn't actually apply here, and you could, um, actually apply your criminal justice system here, if it matters....

Hey, just think, mother of the girl who died - one day sooner and she would have lived. Anything to say? No? Nothing? Just gonna go macrame something?

At least Picard would have give us a great line or two to remember this episode by.

Now I want to suggest one more thing - What Would SG1 Do?
Carter: Find the duonetic field inside of 5 minutes (buried under an inch of dirt for 10 years? really)??
Jackson: Rouse the rabble and teach us a thing or two.
O'Neill: NOT GET DISARMED BY AN ENERGY FIELD. And he would get the girl offworld medical help, too. He would call the villagers brainwashed idiots to their faces. And then describe the Cardassian threat to their little worker's paradise in scathing detail. And set up an open gate to Earth for any and all villagers whether their leaders liked it or not. Especially those two forlorn kids at the end. He would have had them given physicals and enrolled in school.

But I will give this episode a pass on its premise alone. The issues hold up.
Sun, Jul 3, 2016, 12:10pm (UTC -5)
What really pissed me off about the ending was that not one of the Villagers wanted to leave and I think they even said they would turn the dampener back on! And worst of all is that Bitch gets to give Sisko a smug See they love it here look.
If I were one of the colonist I would have tried to smash in her damn skull for stealing 10 years of my life from me. alright some of you have kids and best friends fine but how many of you lost friends and kids because you couldn't access the technology on the ship? it should have had at least one character angry at her

In an episode of Psych when they went to a commune sort of like this and it was revealed the leader was evil we got to see the people get angry and two even attack the guy.

Here they just go hmmm maybe she was right after all. screw replicators and air conditioned homes I want to do back breaking labor and live in a straw hut! and condemn my children and theirs to tough short lives as farmers with no idea of what life is like on their parents home world. Again this episode is only good because this is the only trek episode where our hero's encounter a planet of people who live like people from before industrialization and don't say oh your way of life is noble and maybe ours sucks nope Sisko and O'Brien have none of that. At least in children of time they made use of the Defiant's technology.
Sun, Jul 3, 2016, 12:30pm (UTC -5)
The thing I couldn't stand was Alixis' voice. It had this super wavery quality to it like the actress was so nervous during her performance that she kept nearly choking on her lines. Her inflections and way of speaking were so off.

Frankly I'm half convinced the villagers stayed because they weighed the choices of never hearing her give another speech immediately or never hearing her speak but having to spend weeks in a ship with her, no doubt trying to rally them to mutiny. She shoulda stuck to being a writer.
Andrew Taylor-Cairns
Thu, Jul 7, 2016, 5:17am (UTC -5)
What a mediocre episode. I'd forgotten it existed until I watched it again, wish I never bothered!
Take my Warf please.
Mon, Jul 11, 2016, 8:56pm (UTC -5)
At the end she literally talks smack to each member of the community. "You'd just be a repair man without me! and you'd be in JAIL!".

How could she possibly know where they'd actually end up in 10 years?
Then everyone just takes it on the chin, like "ah yeah, she's right. We'd better stay."

What the fffff
Sun, Aug 14, 2016, 2:12pm (UTC -5)
A lot of the episodes in Deep Space Nine - especially season two - probably seemed good on paper, and Paradise is no different. It got to the point where I enjoyed the Quark stories a lot more than anything to do with Sisko and the others. I don't know the actress who played the protagonist, but she was hard to watch. Whether you agreed with her philosophy or not, I wanted to shoot her with a handy phaser on heavy stun.
Thu, Aug 18, 2016, 12:16pm (UTC -5)
Hello Everyone!

I think there would be some sort of rule where, if someone transports down from a shuttle or runabout, the party would have to contact the ship and tell it they are down and all is fine. The ship would keep a transporter lock on them, and if they didn't contact the ship within one minute (or 30 seconds), the ship would automatically beam them back up. That would soooooo help with soooooo many situations they end up in over the years. Also, not only keeping a transporter lock on them, but a constant scan for their vital signs. If someone had their vitals spike upwards, or fall, the computer would automatically beam them back. Sure, the crew could shut this off, but the default setting would be 'on'.

If it was me stranded for ten years, without the technology I figured I'd have, and then found out it was all a lie, I'd probably stand in stunned silence for a while, grasping the gravity of the situation, then I'd figure out what to do.

I was sorry some of the colonists didn't break down and cry, with at least one or two getting angry and grabbing a (low tech) club to attempt to beat Alixus to death.

I asked myself a few times, Why don't they just say NO and risk a fight? Sisko could have incapacitated Alixus on many occasions, but he treats her like she is the proper ruler of the village, and if he takes her down it would be a rebellion or coup or something. She was just a bully that no one had removed yet, for a group so small you could hardly call them colonists. More like refugees.

Starfleet wouldn't just leave them there with no contact forever. They'd come back with a doctor and whatnot, then ask if anyone would like to leave. I don't believe for one moment them beaming out was the end of it.

Enjoy the day everyone... RT
Wed, Aug 31, 2016, 12:37am (UTC -5)

If they took your advice on auto beamouts half of the Trek episodes would be gone. What would the writers do then? :)
Tue, Sep 13, 2016, 10:39pm (UTC -5)
One thing if many things I don't get, why would the female leader let people die? To keep a society like that going, it needs people, for reproduction. You'd think she'd want every life saved?
Wed, Sep 21, 2016, 9:43am (UTC -5)
Aside from this ep's other replete weaknesses : If Sisko and O'Brien (or any other visitors capable of leaving) had never come, how was she supposed to spread her Hakuna Matata across the stars? Books sitting on a space Gilligan's Island aren't hooked to wi-fi--especially there.

Rule Of Trek and Walking Dead - if someone too quickly and unsolicited starts telling you their comprehensive philosophy about Life and The World--shoot them now!
Sat, Sep 24, 2016, 7:59pm (UTC -5)
The response of the colonists was unbelievable. There, in front of them, stood a megalomaniac fanatic who had even been contemplating justifying her ideas with religion for her extremist luddite beliefs, and stole 10 years of the lives of people who didnt agree to her insanity and didnt know of it. 10 years of lies, punishment, manipulation, and neglect that led to death of who knows how many people. Who conspired months before the expedition set out just to make herself leader of a community that fit her fantasy?

And they werent trying the lynch the egotistical maniac and her brainwashed son, who happened to be the only effectively armed(with a bow) colonist, when they found out?!

And Sisko just decided to punish her the soft way despite her petty attempt at breaking his will on top of everything she did?
David Pirtle
Tue, Oct 4, 2016, 11:53am (UTC -5)
The guest star's overacting, the dialog is overwritten, and the direction is over-the-top. I actually laughed out loud at the last shot of the episode, when the colony crowd dispersed, leaving two children to stare at the viewer as if to say, "This was some really poignant stuff, wasn't it?" Three stars? It'd only get two from me for Meany's and Brooks' performances.
Wed, Dec 14, 2016, 5:46pm (UTC -5)
These comments are unbelievable. Anyone who doesn't understand why the colonists acted the way they did has never seen a cult at work. These people have been brainwashed by their leader for 10 years, and brutally punished for crimes of individuality or opposition (see the scene after Sisko's first stay in the box). When the truth is revealed to them, of course they choose to ignore what it means. It breaks the worldview that's been hammered into them every day for a decade. The only ones capable of rational, objective thought are the ones who have yet to be fully indoctrinated: the two children we see solemnly staring at the cage at the end of the final scene.
Peter G.
Wed, Dec 14, 2016, 6:47pm (UTC -5)
@ Justin,

"Anyone who doesn't understand why the colonists acted the way they did has never seen a cult at work. These people have been brainwashed by their leader for 10 years, and brutally punished for crimes of individuality or opposition"

This is an entirely rational interpretation of the episode, but to be fair I'm 99% sure this wasn't what the writers intended the ending to mean. I'm fairly certain they intended to show that the colonists were actually mostly in agreement with Alixus in terms of what the 'good life' is despite the despicable tactics she used to force them to realize it. While she's a 'villain' in the sense of being corrupt, duplicitous, even murderous, her theories about how humans would enjoy living should not entirely be sidelined by the fact that it was a person like her saying them, even having done what she did. I believe the colonists earnestly recognized that even though she needed to be punished that they still preferred to live in that fashion than to go back. It does them a disservice in a sense to assume they were merely brainwashed, because to be frank I, too, envy some of the kind of life they had. Not all of it, but some. This ends up being echoed in what people like Eddington say later on, and we get a large dose of how good this kind of life could be in "Children of Time", even though in that case it was a communal life but with some technology.

I think what this episode accomplishes is suggesting that perhaps something is lost to humans living in a technological paradise. The fact that someone like Alixus felt compelled to do what she did may mean that people are so addicted to that lifestyle that nothing short of kidnapping them would get them to put down their iPhones, so to speak. I can sort of sympathize with the desire to rip the Padds out of their hands and get them to wake up, even though obviously it's wholly criminal to do so. Trek doesn't get into how enslaved men can be to technology, partially because Gene envisioned a utopia rather than a dystopia, but DS9 decided to go the route of at least *hinting* that there were potential pitfalls in Federation society.

That being said, although Trek never explored this possibility I do think it more likely that there would be entire colonies dedicated to living with nature rather than with technology. I would predict that many people would feel as Alixus does and go find ways to make communes like that, without having to resort to crashing a ship on a booby-trapped planet.
Thu, Dec 22, 2016, 6:02pm (UTC -5)
Dave in NC: "What is it with the numerous forgotten human colonies and their bizarre philosophies? Every Trek series seems to do at least one of these episodes per season."

This aspect (of the franchise) is very credible. It's a big galaxy, habitable planets seem to be abundant. Why shouldn't every little band with their own ideas stake out a spot?

BTW, on the production--we see new sets here, a bunch of extras, some effects scenes; despite the first comment in the thread, this is not at all a "bottle show."
Thu, Dec 22, 2016, 6:54pm (UTC -5)
Or, I should say, guest actors plus extras.
Fri, Dec 30, 2016, 4:59pm (UTC -5)
I wanted to see Alixus thrown in the box at the end and was disappointed to see she gets off easy... and then the hostages choose to stay? How awful
Fri, Feb 24, 2017, 1:26am (UTC -5)
One thing I say for this episode : it makes you want to kill that woman and halve that colony 5 minutes in the serie, and leaves you unsatisfied just that didn't happen.

-for starters, from moment 1 they should have resisted this, those colonists by law are still federation citycens as they never legally requisted settlement here, and as such are obligated to follow starfleets orders, as such sisko should command THEM arround and strongly remember them about that.

-he might be fuck you I gonna look for a solution, you may keep your crappy crap, we just go our seperate way.

-even if they stayed, the moment they discovered the box, a big picard-style speach and a destroying of that cage would be in order... if not downright killing that bitch than and there (I challenge you for leadership fight till the death) than at the very least have them leave the colony than and there, so no food and water fine, we leave..

-and even if they remained after that... abiding there time there would be NO WAY he would have climbed in that cage if he acted on character... give back my d&&m device, stay out of OUR buisnuiss, we are NOT your crappy colonists, and maybe our way leads to death but at least we are free to go OUR way, and not live under your dictatorship.

-if we suspence disbelief way beyond reason and sit the whole episode out...
at the very least have the villagers attack alixus and kill her, her son or both and rage in anger... (lets say kill her son, as he defends his mother against the angry mob)

and as the mob wants to kill alixus... sisko steps in... the mob protests penal colony is to mild for her....
than sisko gets smart and evil.. takes away all the colonists... destroys the colony from orbit and places a satilite in orbit that causes tech not to work on the planets surface....
he than should beam alixus back to the planet... to live our the remainder of her days there alone... .. she wanted to find her core.. now she can ALONE..

so how this episode in fact was written is an insult to human freedom spirit, human justice, human emphathy, and WAY out of character for sisko...
bad episode 0.5/5 stars for evoking such strong WTF emotions..
Fri, Mar 24, 2017, 3:01pm (UTC -5)
This is a tremendous episode - a nuanced, sophisticated look at cult dynamics unlike anything else in Trek - and the issues with the ending, as discussed exhaustively above (I agree with William B regarding the ending), shouldn't be allowed to overshadow the whole thing. The episode does not vindicate Alixus or pull an "Alixus was right" twist at the final hour, though it does come dangerously close. It also doesn't let her off the hook in terms of answering for her crimes.

Alixus is the worst kind of narcissistic, manipulative holier-than-thou abuser, as the smart script and strong performance make evidently clear - an adept brainwasher who's prepared to abduct and kill in the name of the "common good" and the "community", but really it's all just about her power, like Winn but worse; what they share is that they never use direct aggression to achieve their aims, instead passive-aggression, control and manipulation, all beneath a beneficient layer of plausible deniability. This is pretty close to how the most evil cult leaders, groomers and abusers operate in reality. She's a true sociopath and psychopath; everyone else's wellbeing is totally collateral to her, she's only interested in other people insofar as they prop up her power and serve her delusion. In a really great piece of writing, the only way she even seems able to experience or conceptualize others' suffering is in narcissistic ways that put the focus back on herself (when Sisko says "What of the dead?", she replies "Only my son knows how I have suffered" - it's the "this will hurt me more than it will hurt you" school of thinking; everything is about psychological control). Abusers in group situations requires an enabler, and here Joseph fulfills that function, though I agree his characterisation is inconsistent - but the Joseph shown at the end is subservient to her and unwilling to stand up to her even once the truth has been revealed; worse, he repeats her dogma and speaks for the entire group in her place when she is removed at the end to take responsibility for her crimes, segueing into the leadership role in a way that, yes, isn't entirely believable or well-executed (the same applies to the total lack of the reaction from the group).

The battle of wills between Alixus and Sisko is riveting, and Avery Brooks's performance is outstanding, full of dignity, unbroken spirit and burning passion - the fact that it's a black man and an Irishman whom she's abducted, tortured and made work in the fields isn't lost on present-day audiences. The uniform becomes a symbolic issue of control and the object of their power game (a little like Sisko's baseball would between him and Dukat) precisely because of its representative value and the message Alixus knows it would send to the rest of the group; she knows the Starfleet presence is a threat to her rule and stands for the possibility of an outside world and an alternative authority and way of doing things. Crushing Sisko's will and assimilating him into the group would crush any lingering thoughts of freedom among the others. The wordless scene where Ben chooses to return to the box rather than live in her community is incredibly powerful. O'Brien following this by taking decisive action to shatter the status quo and get himself, Sisko and hopefully everyone else out of there is also rousing. While I agree there are issues with the over-swift ending and the lack of outrage from the group, I totally echo Justin's comment above: "Anyone who doesn't understand why the colonists acted the way they did has never seen a cult at work. These people have been brainwashed by their leader for 10 years, and brutally punished for crimes of individuality or opposition [...]. When the truth is revealed to them, of course they choose to ignore what it means. It breaks the worldview that's been hammered into them every day for a decade. The only ones capable of rational, objective thought are the ones who have yet to be fully indoctrinated: the two children we see solemnly staring at the cage at the end of the final scene."

Works for me. It's not necessarily implied the colony will continue, but that they're now free to decide their future. I suspect a lot of them will leave.

Jadzia and Kira's rescue mission may seem less dramatically compelling by comparison, but it works as a strong contrast - here are two independent women who do have real power but who use it responsibly by working together to help others, out of a true selfless sense of community. The maneuver Jadzia performs to pull the Rio Grande out of warp risks both her and Kira's lives, and they're both prepared to do this because they trust and respect each other and because of their responsibility to Sisko and O'Brien, important members of their community. This true selflessness and collegial communal spirit stands in total contrast to Alixus's entirely self-serving and hollow instrumentalisation of "community" as a tool of power; she's prepared to sacrifice anyone, even her son, to her ideals, but never herself.

For the record, I'm highly critical of anti-tech episodes like the BSG finale and to some extent Children Of Time. This isn't one - it veers too close to being one at the end, but ultimately it isn't. It's a thoughtful script with no easy endings that doesn't endorse Alixus and condemns her pretty strongly throughout.

Peter Swinkels
Sun, Apr 16, 2017, 2:31pm (UTC -5)
Decent episode. Alixus came across as stilted and while I partially agree with her views about the negative effects of technology, I personally probably would never want to revert to her kind of lifestyle. At least not fully. Nice review btw.
Peter Swinkels
Sun, Apr 16, 2017, 3:09pm (UTC -5)
And I would like to add something to my previous comment:

Alixus to me seems to have fallen into a trap that probably gets a lot of people, namely narrowmindedness and failing to accept that your view on how things should be isn't the only one. (While one person can't live by two opposing views, that doesn't mean that there can be multiple not entirely mutual views on things.)

Alright, I'm going to try stop rambling now. :-)
Tue, May 2, 2017, 9:13pm (UTC -5)
Question: Did I miss something in the episode? They beam down, and the shuttle is later found at flying warp speed. The shuttle logs indicate some deletions, and someone pointed it towards a star, but missed. I assume Alixus is behind this, but how was it accomplished?
Tue, Jun 6, 2017, 5:30pm (UTC -5)
Wow, the ending was just sad. Although Alixus' deceitfulness was revealed, they all decided to stay on the planet.

Only a naive person would say "That's because they found happiness there!". It's more like they have been brainwashed for ten years and are still under the influence of that brainwashing, so they can't break with it. Just sad.

But it effectively shows how much humans can be molded to function as members of a sect that has terrible moral codes. And how they can be made to believe that these moral codes hold a greater truth, and therefore accept them.
Thu, Jun 15, 2017, 6:26pm (UTC -5)
I find the Sisko hot box scenes disturbing. That used to be a way slaves were punished and he's the only person with dark skin in this episode.
Thu, Jul 20, 2017, 4:48pm (UTC -5)
In answer to Roy, 2 years later: Pronouncing "herbs" as "erbs" is American. Not a mispronunciation, at all.
I was rather dismayed that none of the colonists wanted to be rescued, and wondered about the scene with the two children and what we a being told, there.
Fri, Jul 28, 2017, 7:39am (UTC -5)
I am a bit dismayed at all the folks above who are mocking a low-technology lifestyle and point out how a bow and arrow is "technology," so "HAHAHA they are stupid and inconsistent." I have a semi-Luddite preference in my life, and it's not the strawman y'all are presenting. What most people like me find upsetting are the kinds of technologies that pollute or cause harm. Have you ever lived in a town with a paper mill? Have you ever met some coal miners who've had to breath that stuff? I used to have to commute past a shipyard, and I'd be coughing for ten minutes.

The Star Trek universe seems to have solved some of these problems, but we've seen with the Malons that all that great technology does have harmful waste products. Someone like me would then take a hard look at it and decide if that technology was worth the impact. Do we need that much power if it is going to create that kind of waste? I'd say no--find another way.

There are lots of types of technology that we simply want but don't need--and they all come at a cost to our health and the planet. Some things that we make are unable to biodegrade for millennia; other things are "use once and throw them away." I find that problematic and try to minimize it. For example, I don't have a smartphone--I am typing this on a ten-year-old computer that is perfectly suitable for my needs. I do own a car, but that's even older and gets 35 mpg. I buy all my clothes except underwear at a thrift store. I try to "repair, don't replace" as much as I can. I know how to sew and fix my own stuff.

When this episode first started, it looked like a paradise to me for sure (when it seemed the people were there voluntarily). But because their leader was a fanatic devoted to a particular ideal, they burned wood and had candles--very inefficient and polluting sources of light and heat. You'd think they'd be doing wind and solar and water power if they wanted to truly have a low-impact lifestyle in terms of pollution.

So my request is simply that y'all recognize that not everyone who has troubles with some of our technologies is some sort of crazy idealistic freak. Some of us are just trying to minimize the impact we have on this planet. Unlike the folks in Star Trek, it's the only one we have.
Peter G.
Fri, Jul 28, 2017, 10:03am (UTC -5)
Good post, Grumpy, but for the purpose of the Trek analysis I think you should assume that the environmental problems with tech have been solved and that the *entire* issue is about lifestyle. The survivalist ethic, for instance, isn't so much about pollution or even the job market, but about man becoming incapable and dependent, and that deep down knowing this makes people unhappy. It is even true today with the amount of things we rely on that we have no idea how they're done or even who doe them.
Fri, Jul 28, 2017, 12:10pm (UTC -5)

See, that's the thing, the "simple" life can appeal to be at different levels. I may use a smartphone regularly and enjoy the hell out of it, but I also like to grow my own vegetables and cook my own food. Admittedly, I live know where near Amish communities like in Ohio, but I've never met anyone who doesn't enjoy technology to one level, but disdain it to an other.

Alixus's vision is wrong, though. She welcomes only technologies that keep her in power and shuns others as evil sorcery. I imagine there's a laundry list of evil dictators who work on the same philosophy, so I like the way this episode works to expose the weakness, even if the conclusion is a little sad.
Fri, Jul 28, 2017, 12:11pm (UTC -5)
Sorry, "appeal to people".
Peter G.
Fri, Jul 28, 2017, 12:36pm (UTC -5)
@ Chrome,

I think there are people more vexed by technology than just love/hate. But we could go further, and suggest that some people are squarely in the hate camp even though if asked they would say they're in the love camp. It all depends on whether love/hate correlates to what's good/bad for you, or just based on desire. An addict may 'love' getting his fix, but may on some level (even if unconscious) recognize it's bad for him and that there is no good thing about it.

Have you read the Dune series, by any chance? In it Herbert describes how technology can finally enslave man - or allow them to enslave each other, most likely under conditions where the people are vying for it. Observe people addicted to their smart phones and tell me if that is making them 'happy'. Oh, they may say it's awesome, but it that a case of them being happy with technology or just with them being blind as to what is best for them? Maybe it's a bit of both. I think Alixus is probably more right than we'd like to admit considering how despicably she acts. The problem with her theory isn't the theory, it's her. Any despotic cult leader with a good theory is still a despotic cult leader. But the explanation of why the colonists stay doesn't have to be written off as them being brainwashed. Their leader can be as nasty as she wants, if the colonists agree in the end with her theories then there may be good reason to stay.
Thu, Aug 10, 2017, 11:24pm (UTC -5)
If nothing else, this episode at least inspires passionate and intelligent discussion years after it aired - both about whether Alixus' philosophy had merit and whether she was simply misguided or a flat-out cult leader. I watched it again recently and I think the biggest mistake they made was in the ending: portraying Alixus sympathetically when her character (both as performed and as written) had done absolutely nothing to engender that sympathy. It was unsatisfying.

My explanation of why ALL the colonists instantly forgive Alixus and choose to stay? Poor writing. I can't think of a reason that would actually work within the plot of the episode.
Fri, Sep 15, 2017, 3:03am (UTC -5)
3 stars. I enjoyed this and has held up since it aired originally

I liked the story. Alixus may have had a point about technology and simpler lives but the fact she denied these people the choice and lied to them was as Sisko put it

Not only that she was a dictator and that box was torture.

And unlike the search in Battle Lines, this was pretty decent
Wed, Sep 27, 2017, 1:37pm (UTC -5)
Am I glad for the comments on this episode, because how in your right mind can you give this episode three stars? Poor acting, really far fetched, you can see it coming for miles and miles away and the woman is so annoying. Also the passive aggressiveness of Sisko doesn't work for me. At least give a speech to divide the community. The psychological war between Sisko and her could have worked, but fell short as well. Worst episode of this season so far. 1,5 stars at most.
Peter G.
Wed, Sep 27, 2017, 2:13pm (UTC -5)
@ Jasper,

When you say passive-aggressive, are you referring to Sisko going voluntarily into the punishment box rather than making a fuss? That is a direct allusion to The Bridge on the River Kwai in a very famous cinematic scene.
Neely Fan Forever
Sun, Oct 8, 2017, 9:43pm (UTC -5)
So, they reveal she has been lying to them and they just say, "Fine whatever...!"?? If I had been one of the colonists I would have beaten the hell out of her and her dipwit son Vinood! And what does she mean, the candle guy would be in prison? The only difference between where he is and a prison, is they have proper lights and aren't allowed to torture people anymore!! He is already in a prison - of your making, you silly woman. I liked this episode, but the end is, I agree, a bit lame. The only time I loathed it was the bit where Alexi said that everone approved the hotbox. My thought then was, "Then you are all a bunch of evil toe-rags!"
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 9:02am (UTC -5)
What a bitch!

The ending would have made sense if the colonists had stayed for multiple generations, but it's only been 10 years. How would you forego the opportunity to visit your loved ones?

And who the hell are they to deny civilization to their children. It's obscene that no one in that group of numb-nuts thought of this or even brought it up.

Again, it would be so satisfactory to see the consequences. What happens next to the two criminals?
Sat, Dec 23, 2017, 10:55pm (UTC -5)
So many have complained about the ending of this episode, but the beginning ruined it for me.

O'Brien detects a duonetic field that "may be blocking communications" and they immediately decide to beam down and leave the runabout unmanned. It still hurts my brain all these years later.
Fri, May 11, 2018, 10:06pm (UTC -5)
Ahh yes, the psychotic cult leader enslaving a small population with obsessive, misguided philosophies and deception trying to enslave our heroes. An interesting take on a familiar Trek theme reminding me of "The Return of the Archons" or "The Apple" with an all-powerful computer substituted for the human megalomaniac. This one has some interesting philosophies of renouncing technology taken to the extreme but that is all undermined by the lies of Alixus. Definitely some compelling scenes but the ending leaves a lot to be desired -- do Alixus and her son willingly submit to StarFleet discipline? And the colonists don't rebel openly/violently against Alixus? Perhaps they've been emotionally destroyed.

I don't get why Sisko and O'Brien agree to stay with Alixus and her community -- do we assume that they are not allowed any freedom after being apprehended? I suppose so -- whether it's a return to the roots or whatever, this is collectivism / communism which only serves the interests of the treacherous leadership while everybody else is fooled into believing they are living in a utopia. It's complete even with deaths (those who die from the infections etc.) I really developed a strong dislike for Alixus -- as in Star Trek, the villain is quite heavy-handed in administering her philosophies and has the military's backing (protected by her son and his bow/arrow).

Sisko's performance here also reminds me of how a black man might have dealt with slavery -- willing to die for his cause. What if O'Brien doesn't shut off the dampening field in time and let him out of the box phaser-style?

2.5 stars for "Paradise" -- good premise for an episode, shedding light on a failed ideology. Would have liked to see Alixus punished severely. That the other colonists stay on the planet perhaps interprets as being dumbed down by collectivism that they no longer know any better -- matter of time before one of them takes leadership and then hopefully finds better solutions. But it's only been 10 years, not like generations -- so I'm surprised they'd stay. Some worthy stuff here but also a mixed bag.
Peter G.
Fri, May 11, 2018, 10:25pm (UTC -5)
@ Rahul,

"good premise for an episode, shedding light on a failed ideology."

I don't think it's clear that that's the premise of the episode. It almost seems to me like the preconceptions of the viewer tend to color their takeaway from this one because some people clearly see it as a cult where the colonists are dupes, to others where it's a legitimate life philosophy but that shouldn't have been forced on them. It seems inescapable that Alixus is wrong - but wrong about what?
William B
Sat, May 12, 2018, 1:19pm (UTC -5)
If anything I'd say the writer seems to believe Alixus was correct that at least for these specific people an exit from the Federation futurism was what was needed, though Joseph suggests they might allow tech again as long as they're together -- so maybe Alixus was wrong about the absolute tech ban, but was correct about the general "true self" stuff and the role of getting rid of most tech to do so. Joseph is presented throughout as a reasonable man and I don't detect much indication in the scripting that we're supposed to view him as a brainwashed cultist. The director ending the episode with a shot of the two children looking longingly and, IMO (IIRC) unhappy at where Sisko and O'Brien beamed out suggests a different take, that the children are basically voiceless, possibly prisoners of a cult that will continue after its leader disappeared. This tension between different creative forces is interesting, but I'm not sure if it quite "works"; I feel a bit like the ep is more "incoherent," with different creative forces acting against each other, than "complex/ambivalent," with a kind of complementary discussion going on. But it's hard to say.
William B
Sat, May 12, 2018, 1:25pm (UTC -5)
I'll add: in either interpretation Alixus is obviously depicted as wrong to be a torture-happy manipulative authoritarian, and that's definitely bad. The open question is, as Peter says, whether her prescription about how people should live is accurate. And also open is whether a society where people give up readily available tech without being kidnapped and tortured could even be sustained -- if Joseph did decide to leave the tech-suppressor off, would he have to throw someone in the hot box to prevent them from turning it on to call for help next time someone fell ill?
Sat, May 12, 2018, 3:57pm (UTC -5)
@ Peter G., William B

Once the viewer realizes Alixus is a cult leader that will certainly sour their perception of her -- and quite rightly too. I believe one thing the episode does hint at is that a cult just a microcosm of communism. Not sure if this was intentional by the writers but when Sisko is reading Alixus' logs, never once did he come across some kind of reverence for the divine. And then there's Alixus' son -- the military enforcer -- and the deaths, the torture chamber, individual rights/freedom removed. Alixus is using technology to force technology to not work (remove threats to her authority) -- so it is duplicitous behavior as cult / communist leaders have proven to show -- artificially creating a circumstance.

"It seems inescapable that Alixus is wrong - but wrong about what?"

The better question is: Is Alixus right or justified in anything she does? I think you could almost argue that the philosophy of living without technology is practically a MacGuffin -- Alixus wants control of people and her way, pure and simple.

The separate issue of living without technology was only partially explored in this episode, for me. Can a society today live how it did 200 years ago? I say no as eventually people would be dying and then they'd seek out modern medicine. What about the boredom of the people and other sociological issues? There must have been a coup or 2 suppressed in the 10 years the colony was set up.
Peter G.
Sat, May 12, 2018, 7:35pm (UTC -5)
@ Rahul,

Like I said, it seems that what you take into the episode with you is affecting the interpretation different people have of the episode. I'm 99.99% certain the writers didn't intend what you're saying, and especially not anything to do with communism or the lack of a deity to be some kind of 20th century totalitarianism reference. That said I can certainly see how the colony could be seen as cult-like...from a certain point of view. If you assume a priori that the way they're living is stupid and impossible then of course you'll conclude that the only way they could be brought to live like that is by being duped. Likewise, when Joseph claims to have actually gotten value out of that way of life, you can read it as him being a brainwashed idiot and that nothing he says is of value in itself. can take Joseph at his word and read the situation as more complex than that. Obviously if you already believe that his position is stupid then you're left to conclude that either he is stupid or he's been tricked. But I see no textual evidence to suggest the writers intended him to be stupid or not to be taken seriously. Likewise I suppose you could also argue that *SPOILER* Eddington ever says later in the series about the Maquis way of life is also B.S. and that no one could honestly believe that or prefer growing food to replicators. And yet we see it *again* in Children of Time, where different ways of living are given good value by the writers and it's not always about technology. So I guess it's up to you whether you want to believe that in each of these cases the people are dumb and their life philosophies are garbage. But I guarantee you that many real world people feel the same way.
Sat, May 12, 2018, 8:36pm (UTC -5)
@ Peter G.,

"I can certainly see how the colony could be seen as cult-like...from a certain point of view."

How can the colony *not* be seen as anything but a cult?? And can you seriously think any of Alixus' actions are justified? While the writers may not have been thinking of similarities between cults and communism, I'm just saying that the 2 are linked with the former being a microcosm of the latter.

Like I hinted, I believe the whole living without technology (MacGuffin) is secondary to Alixus' desire for power/control as the crux of the episode. If it wasn't, why would she have used torture and strict discipline on all the other colonists while she goes off and uses technology to try to destroy the runabout, maintain the dampening field etc. -- creating the circumstances for her to perpetuate her authority.

I didn't approach the episode with any pre-conceived notions against living without technology -- although, like I said I don't think that was the primary idea behind the episode. It wouldn't be much of an episode if the colonists living without technology were a democratic society. (Perhaps then we'd focus on living without technology -- which, I think you'd have to admit, would be pretty difficult to pull off i.e. living like you did 500 hundred years ago. And therein lies my scepticism but not outright disapproval).

The Joseph case is an interesting one -- he's clearly not a brainwashed idiot, but the children are. Joseph has simply been subjugated so is making the best of the situation.
William B
Sat, May 12, 2018, 9:22pm (UTC -5)
I agree with Peter that there being no mention of the divine in Alixus' philosophy is no smoking gun that this is about the evils of communism; the Federation/Starfleet seems to be secular and most people don't mention the divine very frequently. Nor do I think that this need be about communism specifically.

I also agree with Peter that there are some signals during the series that The Simple Life is missing in the techno-"utopia" of the Federation, and Joseph's statements at the episode's end gesture to that. I don't think it's ridiculous to want to try living with less technology (though that's not what I'm doing) or that there can be something alienating about modernity.

OTOH, I think Rahul is correct that the episode suggests a cult, even without any preconceived notions on the part of the audience. If it is desirable to have a collectivist low-tech agrarian life and such life can be done WITHOUT deeply repressive measures, this episode doesn't show that until *maybe* the very end, where *maybe* it's possible Joseph et al. will be able to build a better society with no Alixus. But this is a society where Alixus hoards all the candles to write her philosophy down and throws Stephen in a hotbox for stealing one; where everyone stands by as Alixus uses more and more repressive means to convince just-arrived strangers to bow to her will; where a member willingly agrees to go seduce Sisko into their, uh, family. It seems as if Alixus at least believed not just that duplicity was necessary to *start* the new society, but that torture was necessary to continue it, and none of the colonists object to her use of torture -- either because they are afraid of her, or because they agree with her. Joseph even seems to agree that O'Brien shouldn't have to bow to Alixus' will, but has to get himself knocked out in order to "allow" it. That doesn't speak highly for this particular group as a positive model; and I don't think this is an incidental considering how central the battle of wills between Sisko and Alixus is to the episode (and how brutal the hotbox is). The silence of the whole community on the use of the hotbox really makes it hard to believe we're meant to see this as a functional society -- especially once it gets used against Sisko, for O'Brien's ostensible crime. Sisko and O'Brien, essentially, didn't ask to be drafted into this society and are obviously being forced into it against their will; even if "the community" agreed on the torture box, Sisko and O'Brien didn't.
Mon, May 21, 2018, 9:23pm (UTC -5)
Pretty awful episode. Must have seemed better on paper than what actually occurred in front of the cameras. TNG’s Descent was a much better allegory for cult-like group think than this snoozer. Gail’s performance was way over the top, and too damn obvious.
Wed, Jul 4, 2018, 12:48pm (UTC -5)
Teaser : **, 5%

Chief of Operations O'Brien and Commander Sisko are on a survey mission, alone in a runabout. Because, of course they are. Remember all those times Kirk and Scotty decided to do routine bitch work alone in a shuttle? Totally. Not. Contrived. Anyway, Sisko introduces the concept of Jake joining Starfleet into the fabric of the show. This is familiar Wesley Crusher territory, but what irks me is that part of what has defined Sisko's character, for better or worse, is a contempt for Starfleet. The only reason he has remained at his post on DS9 after what transpired in “Emissary” is the relationships he has forged with the Bajorans, nuDax and his new crew. Since assuming command, he has frequently shown disregard for Starfleet ideals and protocols. The idea that, after losing Jennifer, he would willingly put his son in the line of fire by joining Starfleet demands an explanation. Anyway, O'Brien exposits that he learned everything he knows about technobabble during the Cardassian War.

Lewis and Clark discover a heretofore unknown colony of humans, and already I'm having PTSD to TNG's “Up the Long Ladder.” Miles says that there's an energy field interfering with their sensors on the planet. So Sisko, because he is a genius, decides that both of them will beam down to the surface where their technology doesn't seem to work. Totally. Not. Contrived. Anyway, surprise of surprises, their communicators, phasers and tricorders don't work down here. Duh. Anyway, within seconds of beaming down to the planet, they are ambushed by a couple of the humans, wielding bows and arrows. Because, of course they are.

Act 1 : **.5, 17%

The older human, Joseph, recognises their uniforms as Starfleet and has his distractingly attractive companion lower his bow. Apparently, a decade prior, a ship crash-landed here and, because of that field, found that they were permanently stuck on this planet. The pair seem friendly and bring Lewis and Clark to their village where they are greeted by Alixus, their leader. The villagers are curious and cordial, Alixus is warm and inviting. Nothing ominous here.

With the exposition out of the way, Alixus decides it's time for her to leave her mark and wander about the set delivering unto us her...philosophy. With electronics non-functional, the humans have had to learn to live as a pre-industrial society. Okay. Alixus says, “In a way, we have learned what man is capable of without technology.” Right. Because weaving clothing, tilling fields and making paper isn't technology! Ugh...... Lewis and Clark give her a goofy smile during this diatribe that I think is supposed to show that Alixus' views are mere eccentricities. We learn in the midst of this that 1. people have died from external conditions during the last ten years and 2. Alixus does not believe that many if any of her people will choose to leave when Lewis and Clark are rescued. She assigns them some bunks and comments to her distractingly hot son that “two more strong and healthy men....could mean a lot for this community.” Obviously, she doesn't think they're leaving anytime soon. The sophistry at the heart of Alixus' argument is clearly the backbone of this story, and the poor way in which it has thus far been thought out makes this whole outing feel quite tenuous. But, so far, the performances have been adequate.

Act 2 : **.5, 17%

Back on DS9, Samantha and Carrie—I mean Jadzia and Kira are discussing something or other. Kira name drops the U.S.S. Crocket, which is probably the least subtle ship-name allusion in the series. Dax is still doing her odd duck-walk from season 1, with both hands behind her back so that if she slips going down the stairs she'll eat it. Kira says she can't raise the runabout on subspace.

Meanwhile, Sisko has been reading Alixus' books, which are left like nightstand-bibles in Lewis' and Clark's...okay I'll stop that...quarters. We learn that she—try not to be surprised—is rather opinionated. She identifies, essentially, as an anthropologist. What we discover is that she's actually a two-bit philosopher. She claims that man's social evolution is a lie, that humanity has become fat and lazy, and lost its core identity. Like most dogmatic nonsense, this could mean anything, but in remaining vague, Alixus gets to moralise at her leisure.

O'Brien reveals that the humans have gotten rid of all the electronic technology on their ship. Of course, since none of it worked at all, I suppose having it around would be like a blind man stocking up on contact solution. In conversing with Joseph, we discover that the circumstances of their isolation, which nullify electronics, has conveniently created a situation in which Alixus' philosophical prescription perfectly suits the needs of the moment. Joseph sings Alixus' praises because, again under this unique circumstance, her philosophy provided the means for their survival. He goes further, claiming that there are other intangible benefits to her philosophy. They are...again extremely vague notions of community and commitment. Of course, he offers no specifics, or examples of how, before being shipwrecked, they lacked any of these qualities.

Then we learn that a woman, Meg, is terminally ill—from an insect bite. Sisko and Miles naturally want even more urgently to find a way to contact the runabout and retrieve the medkit. Alixus is indignant that they would rather try to technobabble their way to a solution that would save Meg's life than wander around the forest looking for the Deus ex herb or fungus that will magically cure the illness without any medical technology to speak of. She takes Sisko outside and states that none of these people follow her, that she is not their leader, they simply have chosen to adopt her entire way of thinking of their own volitions. In a moment I never expected to experience, Sisko is direct with Alixus—they are not doing what is necessary to save Meg's life. He doesn't let her off the hook or wring his hands in moral vacillation. She, being a zealot, cannot counter his simple reasoning, and falls back on the conservative's cultural argument, that Sisko's unorthodoxy is causing community upheaval. Then she insists—even though, you know, she's definitely not their leader—that he will have to “do things [their] way” until—if—Starfleet rescues them. She also advises him to abandon his uniform. Yeah, over Jake's dead body, lady!

Act 3 : **.5, 17%

Back on Sex and the Station, Dax learns that the Runabout is travelling around at warp with no passengers or crew. Kira decides that the two of them will go after it.

Meanwhile, Ben and Miles—still in uniform—are picking crops or something with Space Amish. Distracting Hotty remarks that fresh food is tastier than replicated, a wonderful discovery afforded them by their circumstance. It is a view reminiscent of Robert Picard's in many ways. That is with one *tiny* difference—I don't think even that bourru would let a young woman die of an insect bite instead of taking her to the nearest hôpital. Speaking of TNG season 4, Miles is amused at the idea of Keiko seeing him work the fields like this, ill-suited as he is to agriculture and horticulture.

Suddenly, some of the Amish open up a plastic crate and reveal that an emaciated young man is inside. Joseph and the others help him out and to the shade, kindly it should be added. Stephen, the young man, had stolen a candle, and somebody—not Alixus of course, because they have no leader—decided his punishment for this crime would be a full day in the hot box. Ah, and speak of the devil, she strolls over to Joseph and piously defends their absurd medieval torture-punishment to an incensed Sisko. Stephen, for his part, apologises to her directly. But, she's definitely not their leader.

We should pause to consider that there is no Prime Directive issue here. These are human beings—they may be lost, but they are still Federation citizens. These Federation citizens have chosen to introduce torture into their makeshift jurisprudence. This makes them all culpable in criminal activity. File that away.

Anyway, in the face of this, Sisko orders Miles to find a way to contact the Runabout somehow. Later that night, a young woman lets herself into Sisko's quarters. “I'm sorry, Alixus doesn't believe in doors.” Oh, but she's not their leader, you see. She makes a pass at him, offering a massage. Sisko quickly discerns that Alixus sent this poor mediocre actress to his quarters to fuck him. So, this ideal community is also dealing in coerced, transactional prostitution. He confronts Dear Not-leader, calls her contemptible. An admittedly nice touch is that Alixus is spending her evening hours writing to the illumination of several large candles. Good thing she seems to get whatever she wants so she doesn't have to steal from others, right?

Sisko points out the incredible convenience of Alixus finding this planet. She deflects by claiming that their crash-landing may have been divinely ordained by fate. Well, since Sisko has made himself an apologist for similar views from the Bajorans, he naturally...makes a sarcastic remark to her. Uh-huh. Not-leader orders that Sisko will be standing watch that night. I'm not entirely sure what or whom he's standing watching against, but endless gruelling labour is its own reward, right?

Act 4 : *.5, 17%

The next morning, Miles expresses doubts to a weary Sisko that the energy field suppressing their electronics is being generated naturally. Alixus isn't far behind offering up a hearty breakfast of fruit and condescension, playing a petty game of wills to get him to work his shift even after his sleepless night. Oh, and maybe he should take his uniform off, too.

Kira and Dax come across the runabout and get into this histrionic technobabble manufactured drama nonsense that's equal parts insipid, tedious and pointless.

Back on Planet Amish, poor Meg has died. Alixus spin-doctors her death into an act of martyrdom in order to make a dramatic reveal. Distracting Hotty brings in Miles who has “selfishly wasted precious time” trying to work around the energy field as Sisko had ordered. It is at this point that Alixus' villainy becomes entirely overwrought. She couldn't make it two sentences into her eulogy for the woman whose death she failed to prevent before using the platform as a pulpit. Continuing her twisted fuckery, Alixus frames the arrival (and alleged meddling) of Sisko and Miles as a test (presumably from whatever deity crashed their ship) of their communal convictions. She is now a deranged zealot with not a hint of sympathy. Dear Not-leader decides that Sisko, as the commanding officer, will be hot-boxed for this unforgivable crime. Of course, everyone in this little Stockholm goes along with the edicts of this psychopath. Totally. Not. Contrived. Well, at least now Sisko will get a nap, right?

Act 5 : .5 stars, 17%

The Derp Ladies give us exposition we don't need, seeing as we know what has happened already, and don't really care. It's revealed that their runabout was set, on autopilot, to fly directly into Planet Amish's sun, because how else could it be destroyed? Some sort of automatic system of destruction? So now, Dax and Kira know where to look for Sisko and Miles. Totally. Not. Contrived.

Sisko is released from the box and stumbles his way into Alixus' throne room. She hoards a glass of water in front of him and offers to exchange it for his conformity. He can have water and rest if he takes off the uniform. Sisko's response—a pretty powerful moment—is to crawl his way before the whole community back into his box, but still in uniform. He has made a public statement. Freedom is worth a sacrifice. Good.

Miles asks Joseph to “look the other way” while he tracks down the actual source of the energy field, knocking him out—consentually—to avoid Dear Not-leader's wrath. We are treated to a tedious scene of Miles tracking down the source—reminiscent of a similar scene in last week's “Whispers,” the low point of that episode. Finally, he discovers some sort of VCR buried in the ground, flashing lights, so it's functioning! An arrow misses his head because Distracting Hotty is a terrible shot. Miles manages to trick him by hanging his uniform and using it as bait, meaning Distracting is also culpable of attempted murder. Miles gets the drop on the pretty idiot and drags him back to the village, where Miles reveals that his phaser is fully functioning. He releases Sisko and explains to the community that the energy field was indeed created artificially. Her highness emerges and confirms the obvious to us—that she planned the crash all along, invented the energy interference, etc. The writing in this little speech is pretty awful. Alixus even pauses at one point, a little teary, calling their village an “Ideal Community,” registered trademark. Joseph and would-be prostitute lady are upset at having been lied to. What follows is pretty exasperating—Alixus defends her actions by claiming to know (she is a deity after all, right?) that the three named villagers would have had unhappy lives if not for their crash (tedious jobs and prison respectively). Okay, even if she, somehow, could actually know that, HOW IS ENDLESSLY TILLING FIELDS NOT TEDIOUS WORK? HOW IS BEING TORTURED TO EXAUSTION AND DEHYDRATION AN IMPROVEMENT OVER FEDERATION PENALTIES FOR THEFT? Sisko pointedly asks about what role the dead people played in Alixus' “rediscovery of man's potential.” Of course, she has no answer, she just plays the conservative martyr again. Playing over this garbage is a totally inappropriate score which is trying desperately to make Alixus seem sympathetic to us, making the whole scene even more arduous to sit through, given how unjustifiably evil she is. Anyway, exasperation turns to rage when her pitiful “I did it all for the community,” leads to credulous nods from said community of brainwashed idiots. (Oh, and of course, right at that moment, Kira contacts Sisko. Good timing, Major. Totally. Not. Contrived.) Joseph speaks for the morons saying that whatever else—torture, death, loss of contact with their loved ones—they have found “something” which compels them to stay behind on the planet instead of escaping with Sisko. What that something is isn't revealed because this is two-bit, fortune-cookie nonsense. More to the point, remember that these people have been complicit in criminal activity—torture, prostitution, denial of due-process—whether they want to or not, they should at least be tried for these activities. Not to mention offered some therapy. Ugh. Alixus, Hotty, Miles and Sisko beam up and we're left with the image of two badly-blocked children staring at the hot box. Yeah, way too late for this writers.


Episode as Functionary : *, 10%

Unlike some of the Bajoran episodes from season 1, the frustration with this episode builds gradually. Alixus begins as a somewhat underwritten but potentially-interesting villain. But she so quickly and forcedly becomes this murdering, pontificating cartoon that the complicity of her followers is absolutely maddening. A few things could have salvaged the episode somewhat:

1. Expunge the rescue plot. This is wasted time, poorly utilised and unnecessary. If Alixus had not tried to destroy the runabout (why does she need to do this, and in so silly a manner?), the ending would have been exactly the same but without Kira's all-too timely arrival. This time could have been used for...

2. ...Developing Alixus more gradually and subtly. The annoyingly vague “something” that the villagers claim justifies their absurd behaviour needed to be defined in a compelling way. As explained earlier, Alixus didn't shun “technology,” she believed that a pre-industrial level of technology, combined with Puritanical laws and customs was the ideal state of being for man. Now, that's fucking stupid, but at least it's a clear and defensible philosophy to base your antagonist on.

3. Change the ending. Giving Alixus the moral victory doesn't read as complex antiheroism, it makes the villagers seem even dumber than before. Moreover, the strong moment of Sisko making a public display becomes totally pointless. If NO ONE was going to react to this move, especially after learning that Dear Not-leader had been lying to them for a decade, what was the point? Yeah, I know, DS9 wants to be the anti-Trek Star Trek, but so far, it only seems to accomplish this dubious end by giving incredible leniency to credulous fools.

The frustrating cherry on top is Sisko. For once, I found the Commander's demeanour, philosophy and behaviour pretty admirable. I can even look past him doing nothing at the very end since the man had been sitting in the hot box for a day. This was out of character for Sisko, but whatever, I'll take the good where I can get it. So why give the antagonist the victory over him when he's finally acting like a hero? Arrgghhh.

Final Score : **
Wed, Jul 4, 2018, 6:09pm (UTC -5)
Why did the Village Elders in M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Village” keep the true nature of the village a secret? For the same reason Alixus imposed her will on her colony : power. People like getting it, and once they have it, they don’t like giving it up. Power can provide the greatest sense of personal security one can ever hope to feel, even more so than money; people will go to extraordinary lengths to justify the negative, even sometimes tragic, consequences of wielding it. And as Lyndon Johnson used to say, power is where power goes, which is why the powerful are always surrounded by lackeys and court jesters jockeying for favor.
William B
Wed, Jul 4, 2018, 9:35pm (UTC -5)
@Elliott, I love that touch with the candles. You know, I wondered for a while whether there's a creative difference between the writer and director for this episode, and I checked the original script (st-minutiae), and sure enough, here's all it says about Alixus' cabin:

" A cubicle no more luxurious than Sisko's. Alixus, still
fully clothed, is at her table, writing. Sisko ENTERS,
dressed in his uniform again."

No mention of a huge number of candles, and the stage direction seems to suggest the opposite interpretation -- that Alixus is the Real Deal, that she *does* hold herself to the same standards as everyone else, etc. Similarly, the poignant final shot of the episode with the two children looking on is not mentioned in the script. It makes me think that there was a bit of creative friction, maybe, with some of the direction (and possibly other people along the line, after the script itself was written) rebelling a little and pushing toward more open criticism of Alixus.
Latex Zebra
Thu, Jul 5, 2018, 9:19am (UTC -5)
Elliot... So good to see you on here again.

I for one cannot wait to see you vent your spleen against Star Trek Discovery.
Thu, Jul 5, 2018, 11:33am (UTC -5)
"Change the ending. Giving Alixus the moral victory doesn't read as complex antiheroism, it makes the villagers seem even dumber than before. Moreover, the strong moment of Sisko making a public display becomes totally pointless. If NO ONE was going to react to this move, especially after learning that Dear Not-leader had been lying to them for a decade, what was the point? Yeah, I know, DS9 wants to be the anti-Trek Star Trek, but so far, it only seems to accomplish this dubious end by giving incredible leniency to credulous fools."

I'm not a fan of the ending from a personal politics standpoint, but I think it's to the benefit of this episode's message that the villagers would continue living their Neo-Amish lifestyle. I think the reaction of any sane person to this ending would be "are they seriously going to keep acting the way Alixus championed after it's revealed that she betrayed them all?" which is good and what the writers want. Their have been cults historically that continue even after their leaders have been exposed as frauds, so there's a bit of historical reflection here.

That said, I do agree that Sisko's message should've benefited someone on the planet more than this episode shows. In the end, the gesture is more for the audience's benefit. Sisko is a hero to us because of his actions, but he's not really a hero to this village, at least, not from their point of view.
Peter G.
Thu, Jul 5, 2018, 11:51am (UTC -5)
@ Chrome et al.

"That said, I do agree that Sisko's message should've benefited someone on the planet more than this episode shows. In the end, the gesture is more for the audience's benefit. Sisko is a hero to us because of his actions, but he's not really a hero to this village, at least, not from their point of view."

I still think this general interpretation hinges on the premise that it was a cult, which by our usage implies "baaaaad!" But I'm 99.9% sure what the writers intended was to show that Alixus was correct in her philosophy even though she was personally corrupt and a megalomaniac. I think the takeaway isn't that the colonist were brainwashed or stupid, because then Jacob's statements become meaningless - and that's not how the acting and directing portrayed the ending scene. Rather, the takeaway is supposed to be that it's quite true that something of primal living has been lost in the Federation's sterile and cushy life, *but* that it also isn't reasonably possible to get it back. And it may even be implied that the trade-off is worth it (but this point is perhaps more controversial and should have been addressed more in the episode). Alixus' mistake was in *insisting* on getting back the more primal way of life despite the fact that in a technological future it's very hard to find a way to implement that in practice. Who would sit idly by a let a child die when a comm unit could summon a medical ship? Probably very few would want to do that, and yet that doesn't mean Alixus is wrong that on an every-day basis the life the colonist were leading wasn't better than what they had before. I believe they're being quite honest when they say they prefer the simple life on this planet. I don't see the need to cynically reject this element of the episode and over-focus on Alixus' faults. Yes, she was bad, but that doesn't mean that her intellectual observations are therefore bogus.

The ending isn't supposed to be about Sisko saving anyone from living a horrible life, and so the lack of anyone being "saved" isn't a flaw. The point is that Sisko helped them to remove a tyrant who was controlling them. The benefit to them is obvious, and I'm sure they're grateful for his help. That doesn't mean they have to give up everything they believe in to prove it.
Jason R.
Thu, Jul 5, 2018, 1:41pm (UTC -5)
This debate reminds me of the one currently taking place with automation. Robots and computers have been eliminating our jobs since the industrial revolution, and will continue to do so at an accelerated rate. Even knowledge jobs are threatened due to AI.

As I purchase a candy bar in the pharmacy in my office building from a computer terminal (while a hapless employee stands by to assist, essentially training customers to render her job useless) I ask myself: is this a better world? Does buying from a computer improve my life or even the pharmacy's bottom line in a manner that's sufficient to justify the human cost of rendering half the population unemployable?

The answer seems to be obviously no. Objectively, it makes our lives worse. I frankly doubt that even the pharmacy is more profitable today than it was 5 years ago before they brought in computer terminals. "Progress" sometimes seems like a losing proposition.

Yet what is the solution? Do we ban automated computer kiosks? Okay, but why just them? Why not ban online shopping too? We laugh at the notion of buggy whip makers rioting in protest of the automobile, calling them luddites, yet how is that any different? Do the Amish have the right idea to freeze time at some arbitrary period?

As Peter G. suggests, technological progress may worsen our lot, yet to attemp to freeze ourselves or artificially constrain that progress seems wrong too, like cutting our nose to spite our face. The point is there is no going back, not without sacrificing our freedom.

Perhaps the point about the Alixus character was that her domination of the colonists and her desire for power weren't just incidental factors. Perhaps they were integral to the entire enterprise of artificially constraining human progress.
Thu, Jul 5, 2018, 2:14pm (UTC -5)
@William B

That's really interesting! That would suggest to me that the director actually salvaged this script somewhat. The preachy tone Alixus adopts is mitigated by the fact that her hypocrisy is on full display. Without that, the contrivance of giving her this moral victory--when, as written, her philosophy is so totally vacuous--would have been utterly enraging and sent this episode to the bottom of the barrel for me. Corey Allen (Journey's End not withstanding) should be commended.
Peter G.
Thu, Jul 5, 2018, 2:39pm (UTC -5)
@ William B,

"No mention of a huge number of candles, and the stage direction seems to suggest the opposite interpretation -- that Alixus is the Real Deal, that she *does* hold herself to the same standards as everyone else, etc."

It's an interesting observation but when creating a show design you'll rarely stick to what's literally on the printed page. Unless the director is already the writer, or in some cases where the writing is *extremely* meticulous and precise (like a David Mamet script), it's the director's job to realize the script and covert it from an idea into a reality. Adding something not in the script is ideally a means of enhancing what's there, although you're right that in principle directing with a poor script could involve going against the writer's intentions.

In this case, however, I find it essentially inconceivable that the writer intended for Alixus to be the 'real deal' and legitimately respectable within the confines of her own philosophy. She whored out one of her own people to Sisko, engaged in torture, and lied to everyone about the reason for them being there. It doesn't showing she's'more equal than others' (to quote Orwell) to show that she's a villain. I don't disagree that it's a nice directoral touch, however I scarcely think that she would magically come out looking good if she was seen to be working to the light of one meagre candle. Being willing to make things crappy for yourself doesn't somehow smooth over treating others like slaves. In terms of simplicity, though,I frankly don't think it was necessary for her to be portrayed as Napolean from Animal Farm to demonstrate how morally bankrupt she was.
Peter G.
Thu, Jul 5, 2018, 2:40pm (UTC -5)
Sorry, mid-2nd paragraph should read "It doesn't require showing she's 'more equal than others'..."
William B
Thu, Jul 5, 2018, 3:33pm (UTC -5)
@Peter, fair enough (and I was thinking of Animal Farm's Napoleon), though I still detect a bit of a difference between the visual depiction of her surrounded by candles and the script stage direction that emphasizes the equality of her living space. It's not that I think the script and screen are that different, because as you say, she's using torture and so on as part of her power base, but the focus seems to be slightly different. I feel similarly about the episode giving the last shot to the children watching Sisko and O'Brien beaming away when (IIRC) no dialogue is given to them throughout the episode; it seems like a deliberate choice to enhance one aspect of the story that is less emphasized in the script. However, it's more a matter of differing in degrees.
Peter G.
Thu, Jul 5, 2018, 3:47pm (UTC -5)
One thing the candle issue has brought to my attention is Joseph's punishment for stealing a single candle. Not only does it seem like Alixus has allocated resources unequally and deliberately keeps down 'the poor' with punishment, but there's more: his punishment is extremely harsh, and I always took it for granted that the colony simply used draconian punishment for crime of any magnitude. But what if he stole the candle *from Alixus* specifically? And - reaching a little bit - what if he stole it from her out of spite rather than need, as a form of rebellion? It could be interpreted as showing that some of them had a problem with her even before Sisko showed up. The severity of the punishment would be a bit more understandable if seen as being her revenge against someone who stood up to her in some form.
Fri, Jul 27, 2018, 2:51pm (UTC -5)
"Paradise" could have been a really good episode, but it mainly fails because how it fails to create a true dilemma where the audience can understand both viewpoints. There is no dilemma. Alixus is a villain, pure and simple. The cult commentary was also done much better in "Covenant".

1.5 stars.
Tue, Aug 7, 2018, 9:47pm (UTC -5)
"Plow the crops and harvest the fields"?
Mon, Nov 19, 2018, 1:04pm (UTC -5)
I appear to be in the minority in that I quite like this episode. I never saw it on first broadcast, and only came across it once I had the DVDs. I always assumed that Alixis had recruited like-minded people to form her colony, so when the ship "crashed" and they had to survive, they were already more than willing to apply her philosophy. And over time the whole thing took on the characteristics of a cult, where rules are followed even when it means harsh punishment or death, and the leader always gets what she wants, even no doors.

I quite like seeing Sisko and O'Brien thrown into this nightmare scenario and try to survive until rescue arrives. Sisko shows he will not be broken by all of Alixis's various tricks, and O'Brien's friendship with a fellow engineer and his ability to improvise save the day. A solid episode all around.
Tue, Dec 4, 2018, 12:10am (UTC -5)

It started out ok, but was ruined for me when we get the clear and blatantly preachy message that Allexus isn't so bad, and actually has a point besides the one at the top of her head. Ah, yes, she is so bad, and nah, she doesn't have a point.

There's no gray area here besides the artificial and pompous one constructed by the writers, with all the subtly of sledgehammer.

But I don't buy it. It's not gray. It's black and white: Allexus is criminally insane.

I don't buy the gentle reaction of the deceived populous, either. No anger? Not a one who wants to leave? Who will call her out on her BS speech at the end?

Below average.
Thu, Dec 13, 2018, 4:00am (UTC -5)
I like this episode. It isn't perfect, but it's good. Three stars seems about right.

First thing is that these colonists aren't Starfleet officers or kidnapping victims. They're colonists who set out to create a new colony. They just got a little bit of a different colony than they planned. So it's plausible that they'd adapt to this lifestyle, and that they wouldn't feel an urgent need to get back to the Federation. They were leaving it behind anyway.

I think most of the key stuff about Alixus has been hit already, but my position is that yes, she's absolutely a villain, not sympathetic or intended to be, and a sociopath/narcissist. So it's good that people want to punch her. She's awful.

But she's awful in exactly the right way. We know there are anti-technology colonists out there (e.g. the Bringloidi) and the Federation is generally willing to let this happen as they have plenty of planets. But Alixus recruits exactly the colonists she needs for her experiment - colonists that she can force to accept her philosophy.

That Alixus is a cult leader is clear - it's not even allegory, she's just a cult leader outright. She bans bedroom doors, which doesn't have anything to do with technology, it's just a power play.

When Sisko and O'Brien land, she's ready for the next challenge. She's already broken a few colonists, now it's time to hunt bigger game: Starfleet officers with things at stake back home. That's why it's so important to her that Sisko stop wearing his uniform. If she had just wanted to preserve her little colony she could have easily just told them about the damping field, let them go and that would be that. But that's not enough for her. She's got to prove that her philosophy is right by converting Sisko.

The scene where she offers Sisko water if only he will take off his uniform is good, and reminiscent of TNG's famous four lights. But more powerful is the hot box. Alixus forces Sisko to work in the fields, and then she punishes him unfairly by putting him in the box - a means of punishment that was used on slaves. The episode isn't about slavery, but all the imagery is here in the scene. But Sisko ends up winning this battle when he not only doesn't break in the hot box, but rejects the water, keeps his uniform and gets back in just to show Alixus that her worst punishment isn't enough. This is a four star scene even if some parts of the episode don't quite live up to it.

One of those parts is the plot surrounding the runabout. The damping field should have just blocked the transporter so the runabout would have to land, and then not be able to take off again. This would make O'Brien solving the mystery of the damping field meaningful, because in the end it doesn't help them escape. They still just need to wait for Dax and Kira to show up. All it does is give them a reason to take Alixus away at the end of the episode (and explain things to any viewers who didn't figure it out after two minutes). And while I can believe that Alixus can build the damping field, it's harder to accept that she can somehow transport up to the runabout, erase the logs, try (but barely fail) to crash it and get back all without anyone noticing or the technology waking up. So this really should have been a shuttle crash episode.

Meanwhile, Dax gets her usual dose of technobabble, which doesn't really work on its own merits. Matching warp speed for transport is a standard thing that happens regularly. Of course, using a tractor beam to slow down another ship isn't really unusual either. None of these scenes do anything except waste time, which could have been spent on a small B-plot or better character moments for the colonists (fashion prostitute girl could have maybe had a line that wasn't totally insipid).

The ending worked pretty well for me. It's nice to see a villain actually have to face justice for a change instead of somehow finding a way to get killed or being miraculously forgiven because no main characters died. The colonists deciding to stay put seemed fine. They have lived there for ten years and built a home there, after all, and that is pretty much what they set out to do in the first place. But now that they know the truth, they can decide whether to accept advanced technology or not with a full understanding of the consequences. It's the right choice by the writers not to answer this question, because it is a choice the colonists should be able to make. Some people can't put down their phones, and some people are Amish. Neither are wrong, and it would be a mistake for the episode to say that one of them is.
Big Top
Thu, Dec 13, 2018, 7:35am (UTC -5)
I wonder what kind of justice Alixus will face. Presumably none of her colonists will be testifying against her. Just for what she did to O'Brien and Sisko, I guess?
Thu, Dec 13, 2018, 5:03pm (UTC -5)
Kidnapping Sisko and O'Brien, locking Sisko in the box, and trying to destroy the runabout.

Just to add on, I really think the writers specifically intended to not take a position on which lifestyle is "better." Alixus is strong willed and won't accept technology, the regular characters are strong willed and won't accept subsistence farming, but most people just go along with whatever they're doing at the moment.

If the writers had really wanted to take a position that the colony lifestyle was better, they could have brought along a redshirt who decides to stay behind, like in "Space Seed." And O'Brien might have had a few lines about how of course they can't stay, but wouldn't it maybe be nice to be able to? But they didn't. The closest thing is Alixus saying she has unspecified support from unspecified scientists, a weird statement to be sure (why scientists specifically?) but she's also not a reliable source.
Sat, Dec 22, 2018, 5:34pm (UTC -5)
Holy hells what episode did most everyone in the comments watch? This episode in no way glorifies Alixus or her followers or that old fashioned lifestyle, the last shot of the episode should give anyone with a brain clear indication of exactly how the writers feel about that community
Sat, Dec 22, 2018, 8:19pm (UTC -5)
It’s interesting that Joseph installed himself as the new cult leader before Alixus even left. He told us he was the 2nd strongest personality on the planet (as the last one to resist) and it was easy to misunderstand him as being fundamentally different to Alixus but he wasn’t. Or perhaps he had been but she’d beaten it out of him.

I don’t understand the ending - the woman in red was furious, the tortured man was happy to help Sisko before being allowed to - why didn’t they want to leave? And would the federation really act like cult victims had a free choice? And if they do have a free choice so they can be asked if they want to stay, they should all be in prison for aiding and abetting torture and possibly murder (I’m convinced Alixus killed the ill girl to be on time with catching O’Brien and torturing Sisko). It’s one or the other, but this has a weak ending like most DS9 episodes so far unfortunately.
Sat, Mar 2, 2019, 3:39pm (UTC -5)
The "astatine deposits" have got to be an in-joke. Astatine is one of the most unstable elements (the name actually derives from the Greek word for "unstable") and any quantity of it, however large, would decay to nothing within days. (Yeah, they weren't real, but still...)
Bobbington Mc Bob
Wed, Jun 5, 2019, 11:46am (UTC -5)
A frustrating watch for sure, and the first of season 2 that I really disliked.

I kept waiting for the Picard style morality speech, something to interrupt Alixis god-awful speech impediment fuelled rants (did she have some respiratory infection that her 'erbs were incapable of treating that made every sentence falter mid way through?) but all Sisko could muster was climbing in a box, an act that had no consequence or effect at all.

That the show then gave so much airtime and rousing music to Alixis final oratory just made me extremely angry and made everyone else seem brainwashed. The only ones who had any sense of right and wrong were the kids who stared at the hot box, a tool we don't know will never be used again under this new leadership.

Alixis philosophy was an awful ends-justify-the-means cult of personality in which people were given no choice. Just because they learned how to make wheat grow and operate a grindstone, no matter how appealing it may be to those of us stuck in a dreary 9 to 5, does not in any way make the ideas of the episode a "grey area". Its disappointing that the writers expected us to see them as one.
Bobbington Mc Bob
Wed, Jun 5, 2019, 12:03pm (UTC -5)
Just to add to why I believe the show felt sympathetic to Alixis, it all comes down to the treatment of key scenes and particularly score. If you want your audience to feel scared in a scene, you add scary music. If you want them to feel happy, you add happy music. If you add rousing music to someone's speech, you are sending a clear signal that says "you are meant to feel this speech is rousing". The lack of any challenge by the main characters underscores this, here with Sisko reduced to a bare "you will answer for what you have done", but a body language that states an absence of alternate strong opinion. "He'd been in the box for ages though" - it doesn't matter. To make a speech despite torture is a staple of good drama that no writer would have given up (see Chain of Command), unless they intended to. We were meant to feel conflicted over Alixis' philosophy, I feel that is quite clear.
Thu, Oct 3, 2019, 1:01am (UTC -5)
Started DS9 from the beginning on Hulu recently. I watched TNG back in the 90s and just didn't get into DS9 then. I had been watching each episode without skipping any...until this one. Stopped this episode halfway through and started to skip around more selectively after taking a break for a few days. The Alixis character just ruined it with the overbearing overacted cult-leader nonsense. IMO worst episode of the series up to that point.
Thu, Oct 3, 2019, 10:52am (UTC -5)
Well played Tom, well played.
Fri, Oct 25, 2019, 10:19pm (UTC -5)
This episode was rough. Alixus was a textbook abuser, the way she frames things as “I’m doing these bad things because you deserve them, and you won’t ever stop deserving them unless you change as directed. It was truly hard to see the bothsides-ism in the episode’s tone. All that worked in tandem with Gail Strickland’s voice, always on the verge of tears, to make this one a real stinker.
Thu, Apr 23, 2020, 2:36pm (UTC -5)
Just watching this episode now, a reminder how easy it is for a strong personality to deceive people and encourage them to do destructive things with their eyes wide open. It reminds me how these days people are decieved by some of our forceful politicians. Yes I can easily see how these villagers follow Alixus blindly, because real life people do this at the ballot box.
Considering how few in number the colonists were, the lack of genetic diversiy will be their doom anyway.
I hope the Federation sends Alixus and her son to Rure Penthe
Ari Paul
Mon, Jul 13, 2020, 12:53am (UTC -5)
What the $#@! is wrong with this &*^%$'s voice? She sounds like she was kicked in the throat and every so often the pitch vacillates up randomly, like she's a robot stuck in opera theater mode! Somebody muzzle it!!!!!
Dave in MN
Mon, Jul 13, 2020, 5:10am (UTC -5)
The voice (and song style) of the actress is indeed very annoying.

However, in her defense, I must point out that In America (at least in the Midwest and Northeast where I've lived), the "H" in herbs is silent.
Dave in MN
Mon, Jul 13, 2020, 5:12am (UTC -5)
*acting style

This is what I get for posting before Ive had coffee.
Sun, Aug 9, 2020, 5:22pm (UTC -5)
Okay what the hell? There was no ending? Why did that psycho chick and her son beam up and leave when they were the only ones that wanted to stay there? This was by far the worst episode out of all of them I've seen since episode 1. That was such a waste of time watching that to have no ending.
Anonymous Texan
Mon, Aug 10, 2020, 11:57am (UTC -5)
Surprised at how many people outright hate this episode. Definitely has flaws in execution, but I think the concept is very good.

The SETUP IS INANE. There's no reason why two senior staff members of DS9 have to do scouting missions like this one. Their procedures during the mission are nonsensical. Further, the Kira/Dax plot is facepalm-inducing: "We lost two senior staff members, so let's send another two galloping to their rescue!" And the 'roping' dialogue - urgh.

Regardless, I'm WILLING TO IGNORE these stupid plot points on the grounds that many Star Trek episodes, even the good ones, have questionable setups or finishes.

People here appear to have TWO LINES OF CRITICISM for this episode (with variations): (1) There's no way that the colonists would so easily get on board, and even if they did, there's absolutely no way they would all choose to stay at the end, and (2) Alixus' anti-technology stance is stupid, unconvincing, hypocritical, and yet another example of Star Trek inexplicably promoting primitivism.

WE SHOULD RETHINK (1). Keep in mind, these people are colonists - therefore they were prepared to be away from family (if they even had any), friends, career, etc. for an extended period of time. Yes, they may have embarked with the idea that they could go back at some point, but I think colonists probably self-select as generally unattached people (or even social outsiders, like the pilgrims). In fact, colonists, by their very nature, seek a sense of purpose, of building something of their own. What better demographic for Alixus to seduce to her extremist philosophy?

We also don't know what has happened for the past 10 years. There's no indication that Alixus immediately took over; the Starfleet engineer guy even admits he was 'the last conquest.' There may have been a power struggle, but we don't know because the episode is purposely giving us the perspective of Sisko and O'Brien. So, from the inside, the community had a history that perhaps justified how people thought in the present, but Sisko and O'Brien had the right sort of outside perspective to realize that everyone was a bit loony.

Many have pointed to Alixus' speeches as dull, repetitive, and unconvincing, but she won the argument long ago and the speeches are perhaps an almost RITUALISTIC REAFFIRMATION of belief for the community, a phenomenon easily observable in cults, mainstream religions (think of Christian litanies), or fanatical political movements. These speeches don't ring true only to the uninitiated (us!).

I agree that it's both UNLIKELY AND INTELLECTUALLY INSULTING that one man could 'speak for the community' at the end, and would have liked to have seen a more agonizing decision. I also agree that the acting, beyond Brooks and Meaney, was lackluster.

As for Alixus' philosophy (2), I find it HIGHLY BELIEVABLE. But just because it's fleshed out in a 3-D form does NOT automatically make the script an ENDORSEMENT for this philosophy, as some seem to be taking it.

One of the great things about DS9 was its DESIRE TO POKE HOLES in the TNG narrative and flesh out 24th century humans. TNG showed the best of humanity using its best technology to explore new worlds, all while moralizing about how humanity has 'evolved.' DS9, by contrast, thrust us to the margins of the Federation, politically UNSTABLE and morally AMBIGUOUS. We meet species who don't like the Federation; we see exploitation, corruption, militarism; and best of all, we see how these 'evolved' humans react to these pressures.

This episode is in that DS9 tradition. Here we have MARGINAL figures (colonists who perhaps were such outsiders that no one ever checked in with them) taken over by a marginal thinker. We see that the best and brightest of TNG are NOT representative of everyone. In fact, some question how 'evolved' humanity really is. Some feel RUDDERLESS AND SOFT in a society where EVERYTHING IS PROVIDED for them (Alixus!). Aren't these echoes of the very criticisms we hear of the Federation from Cardassians, Ferengi, Klingons, etc.? That they are 'soft,' morally 'arrogant,' and 'insidious.'

OF COURSE primitivism is utter fantasy - the writers point this out: people die needlessly, Alixus hypocritically uses technology, institutionalized violence has taken hold (the spears, the 'hot box'). The idea of this story is that TECHNOLOGY ALONE DOES NOT IMPROVE HUMANITY. Alixus is an EXTREMIST who sees technological society as IRREDEEMABLE.

THE POINT is that having better technology does not make us better humans - humans have to WORK to be virtuous, by PRACTICING MORALITY. This is the crux of the episode, and why focusing on Sisko and O'Brien's perspective is BRILLIANT. Alixus sees material comfort as preventing the sort of tests that improve humans. But the answer to Alixus is STARFLEET ITSELF, an organization that puts 'evolved' humans TO THE TEST every day, and has proven itself to be an overall MORAL INSTITUTION. Sisko and O'Brien, even with their technology, are just as tough and virtuous as the community members, because they pursue challenging careers that put their morals on the line (I hear echoes of 'Encounter at Farpoint').

Indeed, what more powerful demonstration can there be of true 'evolved' humanity than Sisko's non-violent protest of Alixus' brutal methods? Or O'Brien's real ingenuity in discovering the truth and outwitting the colonists? Whereas the colonists, with Alixus' guidance, hide the truth from themselves (I think this is part of why they hadn't discovered the field dampener) and make hollow paeans to 'ingenuity' and 'toughness,' those very qualities are what Sisko and O'Brien use to defeat Alixus.

Alixu is unlikable. Her moral equivocating is repugnant. But the fact that she exists, and that she could win people over to her side under the right circumstances, complicates the Federation for us. The people not in Starfleet, the people with boring desk jobs or uninspiring careers, at some level sense that they are NOT REACHING THEIR POTENTIAL in a world of MATERIAL ABUNDANCE (notice the Starfleet guy was the last one won over).

This internal sense of failure matters to our understanding of Star Trek, and it matters to us today. In the 21st century technology and material conditions in the US are better than ever, and yet many feel an INTANGIBLE SENSE OF DESPAIR and frustration (which we see every day in politics and online discussions). Think historically too, of UTOPIAN SOCIALISTS in the 1800s or MODERNISTS at the turn of the century. This dissatisfaction is a VERY REAL PHENOMENON. And still the episode has a positive message, implicitly rebutting Alixus with Starfleet itself, an organization that synthesizes technological progress with the improvement of humanity. The episode even acknowledges that some (the colonists) feel the need to find purpose elsewhere.

In short, thought-provoking and believable concept hampered by flaws in execution.

Sorry for the long comment. I actually haven't posted here before and usually roll my eyes at the longer comments, but now I understand why people post them.
Peter G.
Mon, Aug 10, 2020, 12:12pm (UTC -5)
@ Anonymous Texan,

Nice write-up, this encapsulates some thoughts I've had before. The one aspect of it that didn't occur to me, that Starfleet itself is the marriage between Alixus' ideals and the technological age, probably didn't because it's not really part of the episode's narrative. I agree that we can *find it* between the lines, but the writers definitely did not go there. The fact that you noticed the Starfleet guy was the last to give in is quite interesting, and if it's pointedly deliberate by the writers to say what you think they're saying, then I have to just wonder at why they were so inept as to not take even one moment to show just how much strength Starfleet can provide to people who need challenge in an age of luxury. That would be a huge Trek message to put out there, and probably hasn't been stated clearly in that way since TOS.

I've spent most of my time in the threat arguing against the plot being silly and so forth, but if I'm being honest about an objective appraisal I think that the sub-plot with Kira and Dax was pure wasted screen time that could have fleshed out the philosophical problem more. Alixus is definitely supposed to be objecting to something *real*, something that really does bother most people and that for some is intolerable. But the important issue she observes gets lost beneath her character, which when assassinated kills the point she's making too. The writers needed to have more separation between her and her belief; or better yet, wait a bit to start to make us worried about her. It would have been cool if we were actually quite supportive of her at first.
Mon, Aug 10, 2020, 12:13pm (UTC -5)
This is a tremendous episode - a nuanced, sophisticated look at cult dynamics unlike anything else in Trek - and the issues with the ending, as discussed exhaustively above (I agree with William B regarding the ending), shouldn't be allowed to overshadow the whole thing. The episode does not vindicate Alixus or pull an "Alixus was right" twist at the final hour, though it does come dangerously close. It also doesn't let her off the hook in terms of answering for her crimes.

Alixus is the worst kind of narcissistic, manipulative holier-than-thou abuser, as the smart script and strong performance make evidently clear - an adept brainwasher who's prepared to abduct and kill in the name of the "common good" and the "community", but really it's all just about her power, like Winn but worse; what they share is that they never use direct aggression to achieve their aims, instead passive-aggression, control and manipulation, all beneath a beneficient layer of plausible deniability. This is pretty close to how the most evil cult leaders, groomers and abusers operate in reality. She's a true sociopath and psychopath; everyone else's wellbeing is totally collateral to her, she's only interested in other people insofar as they prop up her power and serve her delusion. In a really great piece of writing, the only way she even seems able to experience or conceptualize others' suffering is in narcissistic ways that put the focus back on herself (when Sisko says "What of the dead?", she replies "Only my son knows how I have suffered" - it's the "this will hurt me more than it will hurt you" school of thinking; everything is about psychological control). Abusers in group situations requires an enabler, and here Joseph fulfills that function, though I agree his characterisation is inconsistent - but the Joseph shown at the end is subservient to her and unwilling to stand up to her even once the truth has been revealed; worse, he repeats her dogma and speaks for the entire group in her place when she is removed at the end to take responsibility for her crimes, segueing into the leadership role in a way that, yes, isn't entirely believable or well-executed (the same applies to the total lack of the reaction from the group).

The battle of wills between Alixus and Sisko is riveting, and Avery Brooks's performance is outstanding, full of dignity, unbroken spirit and burning passion - the fact that it's a black man and an Irishman whom she's abducted, tortured and made work in the fields isn't lost on present-day audiences. The uniform becomes a symbolic issue of control and the object of their power game (a little like Sisko's baseball would between him and Dukat) precisely because of its representative value and the message Alixus knows it would send to the rest of the group; she knows the Starfleet presence is a threat to her rule and stands for the possibility of an outside world and an alternative authority and way of doing things. Crushing Sisko's will and assimilating him into the group would crush any lingering thoughts of freedom among the others. The wordless scene where Ben chooses to return to the box rather than live in her community is incredibly powerful. O'Brien following this by taking decisive action to shatter the status quo and get himself, Sisko and hopefully everyone else out of there is also rousing. While I agree there are issues with the over-swift ending and the lack of outrage from the group, I totally echo Justin's comment above: "Anyone who doesn't understand why the colonists acted the way they did has never seen a cult at work. These people have been brainwashed by their leader for 10 years, and brutally punished for crimes of individuality or opposition [...]. When the truth is revealed to them, of course they choose to ignore what it means. It breaks the worldview that's been hammered into them every day for a decade. The only ones capable of rational, objective thought are the ones who have yet to be fully indoctrinated: the two children we see solemnly staring at the cage at the end of the final scene."

Works for me. It's not necessarily implied the colony will continue, but that they're now free to decide their future. I suspect a lot of them will leave.

Jadzia and Kira's rescue mission may seem less dramatically compelling by comparison, but it works as a strong contrast - here are two independent women who do have real power but who use it responsibly by working together to help others, out of a true selfless sense of community. The maneuver Jadzia performs to pull the Rio Grande out of warp risks both her and Kira's lives, and they're both prepared to do this because they trust and respect each other and because of their responsibility to Sisko and O'Brien, important members of their community. This true selflessness and collegial communal spirit stands in total contrast to Alixus's entirely self-serving and hollow instrumentalisation of "community" as a tool of power; she's prepared to sacrifice anyone, even her son, to her ideals, but never herself.

For the record, I'm highly critical of anti-tech episodes like the BSG finale and to some extent Children Of Time. This isn't one - it veers too close to being one at the end, but ultimately it isn't. It's a thoughtful script with no easy endings that doesn't endorse Alixus and condemns her pretty strongly throughout.


(I took Anonymous Texan's superb comment on this episode today as an opportunity to repost my own comment from March 2017 originally posted under my old username "N".)
Mon, Aug 10, 2020, 2:11pm (UTC -5)
Personally I can't stand this episode because Alixus' voice is like nails on a chalkboard to me. It's got this really strong wavering/warble-y aspect to it that makes me actually cringe - and not in that meaningless meme way either.

She sounds like she's constantly on the verge of tears, ready to give in to anxiety like a child in the process of being scolded, yet her character is an unopposed (by her community) strong-willed and confident leader of people, who has convinced people to follow her into hardship - yet her voice doesn't carry ANY of that. So in one aspect I don't buy what the episode tells me about her because of her vocal performance, but on a far more viseral level I don't like this episode because her voice makes me want to rip my ears off. Haha.
Anonymous Texan
Mon, Aug 10, 2020, 2:26pm (UTC -5)
Thanks for re-posting. I somehow missed this comment earlier; it's very thoughtful and on point. I hadn't thought about the psychological aspects of this episode enough, and your analysis of Alixus' character, her control of the colonists, and her dynamic with Sisko really highlight some strengths of the episode I hadn't considered.

I also hadn't noticed the subtle racial dynamic between Alixus, Sisko, and O'Brien. Interesting that Star Trek, which displays a post-racial society, can wordlessly address racial issues through powerful images.

@Peter G.,
Thank you for the kind response.

You make a very good point about the failings of Alixus' characterization. The writers went for the villain mold right off the bat, maybe to set up the interesting Sisko/Alixus dynamic for tension or just because of lazy writing. I did like her overall personality because I think it makes a small point on how extremist positions tend to find a voice in extreme, inflexible personalities. I think the qualities (of which @wolfstar has given a spot-on analysis) ought to have been revealed more slowly, as you suggested, or maybe needed to coexist with more virtuous qualities to complicate her character.

On further thought, I agree with you that my response is perhaps reading between the lines too much and giving the writers too much benefit of the doubt. There really is only implicit evidence throughout for my final conclusion - I would add the interesting bit about Starfleet uniforms, Alixus' desire to remove them, and how O'Brien only commits an act of violence when he is physically out of his uniform, perhaps a commentary on what the uniform embodies (again, probably reading between lines too much). I will also blatantly plagiarize @wolfstar's great comment and point out the ingenuity displayed in the Dax/Kira plot, in spite of the poor dialogue and silly plot, serving as an example of the daily challenges faced by Starfleet officers. And lastly the virtuous characters of Sisko and O'Brien, contrasted with the cowed colonists and psychotic cult leader, really speak to those characters' strengths, if only implicitly Starfleet's (and also to the failings of Alixus' so-called strong community).

Like you said, I think this episode needed more time to work through the problems it presented. It feels like it should have run somewhere between the length of a full episode and a two-parter. Ultimately, I think there was a lot of missed opportunity to flesh out issues of technology, power, cult psychology, violence, 'the uniform,' the good life, etc. Perhaps a high-concept idea was marred by the need for a 45-minute, tension-oriented format.
Mon, Aug 10, 2020, 10:25pm (UTC -5)
This episode is basically a show on Stockholm Syndrome.

The end falls flat because of it.

Wed, Sep 16, 2020, 6:06pm (UTC -5)
Almost everyone above dislikes this episode, but I don't care. I enjoyed it, and think it's fun a second or third time round too.

Yes, this was rather "One planet, one single culture" ... like almost every other episode of Star Trek. Yes, thingy was an abhorrent person - which was kind of the point. Yes, her followers didn't all give up ten years of beliefs the minute she was exposed - which was kind of the point.

Good drama done well.
Wed, Nov 4, 2020, 2:42pm (UTC -5)
A couple of related works:

-This excellent blog post about how disturbing it is to see a black man in the position of being forced to submit by a white woman:

-The Twilight Zone has plenty of episodes about the dangers of groupthink and charismatic leaders, but "On Thursday We Leave for Home" has some direct correlations. It's interesting to compare them:
Fri, Nov 13, 2020, 12:32am (UTC -5)
Jesus Christ, this episode pissed me off. Yes, she’s a psychopathic totalitarian murderous bitch. No punishment could possibly be too severe for her, and no amount of sympathy for her Luddite views could remotely justify anything she did. Some of the things that really annoyed me: Why the hell were O’Brien and Sisko so damn passive when der Fuhrer started issuing her totalitarian punishments? I would have told her to go fuck herself, instead of doing the Gandhi bit. The only enforcer type shown was her brainwashed mama’s boy son. Take him out, for crying out loud (as O’Brien FINALLY decided to do)! As others have said, it’s very difficult to believe that at least some of the “followers” wouldn’t have been totally pissed off about being lied to and made to suffer deprivation, torture and death at the hands of this despot.
I find it irksome that some are somewhat sympathetic to her cause. Pontificating about how “bad” technology is on AN INTERNET WEB PAGE? Really? I saw this sort of thing when Avatar came out: people going on and on about how they would love to wear nothing more than a loin cloth and swing in the trees. Hey, I have news for you: You can do that RIGHT NOW. What’s that you say? You don’t want to? How surprising. I laugh at armchair “naturists” whose idea of being “anti-technology” is driving to the Whole Foods market in their Prius while railing against tech on their smartphones. God, I wanted to punch that smug bitch in the face.
Picard Maneuver
Wed, Dec 2, 2020, 5:16am (UTC -5)
I remembered the outcome about 10 minutes in when they were reading about mankind being soft in the the crazy lady's diary, though I probably figured it out at that point the first time, too. Her character made it difficult to invest in the episode because it was too obvious that she was insane and formed a primitivist cult out of the rest of the colony. At least Cisco figured it out quickly enough. It'd have been a real drag if it took him until the last five minutes of the episode to realize he was dealing with a psychopath.

While traditional/alternative medicine has some merit, what merit it has is based on centuries of (anecdotal) observation. It's just wacko to suggest the most reliable way to cure unknown illnesses is to go into the woods and gather random leaves, and it's difficult to believe 24th century scientists would go along with such a thing, even with a domineering bully involved.

I mean, I wanted to punch her, Sisco wanted to, also, and O'Brien almost did. And he also probably thought about shooting her, too; he had a "just give me an excuse" aura about him at the end. The rest of these people are like, sure, I'll get into the box, your wish is my command. You can't force everybody into willing submission. Some of them are going to pretend and stab you in the back the moment it's safe to do so. Though I wouldn't be surprised if some of the more disagreeable colonists had unfortunate accidents over the years. Meg was feeling a lot better before her sudden demise, just saying.

In the scene where Cisco confronts the leader about trying to win him over with sexual favors, it'd have been funny if he stole one of the candles as he left.

Why is stopping the unmanned runabout so complicated? Can't they just use the prefix code to remote control it? We had remote control in the mid-90s, you know. I'm sure at least one person on the staff used pcAnywhere. And it was a major plot point in Wrath of Khan and the 25th Anniversary video game. It came up in a few TNG episodes, too. I guess that's less exciting than forgetting this stuff exists and hyping up the lasso method, which was really more like arresting gear, like on an aircraft carrier.
Wed, Jan 20, 2021, 12:46am (UTC -5)
Alixus was right. It's a shame Star Trek is incapable of portraying anything illiberal for it's values, so it has to make its 'villains' cartoonish psychopaths.
The River Temarc
Wed, Feb 3, 2021, 11:44pm (UTC -5)
I just rewatched this episode, and I'm surprised at all the reviews panning it. I thought it was superb.

"Paradise" was an examination of charismatic leadership and its abuse. It was an examination of the allure of cults. These themes ought to resonate in the age of Trump and Q-Anon. Stockholm Syndrome is a thing; and of course some communities, such as the Amish (bizarre as though it might be to the rest of us) do live a luddite lifestyle.

I have no doubt that Starfleet sent a horde of counselors to this colony a couple of weeks later to deprogram them. That's not the point of the final scene. The point is that the cult can outlast its leader.

To those who say that the episode glorified luddite thought, I ask: what were you watching? Someone died from an easily-cured disease; two people were tortured, including a gallant Starfleet captain. The last shot of the two children made it clear where the episode's sympathies lie, as did Dax's line about an old Hopi adapting to the modern world by teaching a Trill rope tricks.
Thu, Feb 25, 2021, 7:31am (UTC -5)
Sisko's defiant, silent return to the punishment box is one of Avery Brooks' best performances in the show. That scene alone nearly makes up for the rest of the episode's shortcomings.
Fri, Apr 23, 2021, 12:55am (UTC -5)
For those complaining about Alixus’s (Gail Strickland’s) voice, this might help to explain it. (I picked up on this because I know someone who has the same condition.)


“In 2009 Strickland's acting career in films and television ended when she was diagnosed with a voice disorder called Spasmodic Dysphonia.”

From Wikipedia:

“Spasmodic dysphonia, also known as laryngeal dystonia, is a disorder in which the muscles that generate a person's voice go into periods of spasm. This results in breaks or interruptions in the voice, often every few sentences, which can make a person difficult to understand. The person's voice may also sound strained or they may be nearly unable to speak. Onset is often gradual and the condition is lifelong.”

While this episode was filmed 15 years prior to that diagnosis, it isn’t surprising that her voice may have already started to show early signs of the disease.

I, too, find that quality in her voice mildly annoying, but I also (unlike many previous commenters) think that it actually works for the character. It’s disarmingly soft, emotional, and compassionate, which delays the realization that she’s actually the scheming villain in the story and makes her status as the powerful cult-leader even more powerful once you do realize it, because you (the viewer) fall victim to misjudging her at first just as the colonists did.

I’m actually with The River Temarc above in that I think this episode, while far from perfectly executed, is actually quite poignant and makes some heavy points to consider about each of our susceptibility to cult thinking. I’d give it a 6/10, not bad for an early-season episode before the series really found its voice.
Mon, Apr 26, 2021, 11:34am (UTC -5)
I've been rewatching DS9 from the beginning and it's been so long since I last saw it, and forgotten so much, it's like watching it for the first time in many regards. I had forgotten entirely about this episode.
I loved it. But then, I have found my standards remarkably different than before. I love almost everything now, the only episode that I didn't like so far is the one with the refugees from the Gamma Quadrant who wanted to live on Bajor.

Much has been said about this episode, but I found myself thinking about the Unabomber through much of it, and how similar Alixus's philosophy was to his. And this episode came out well before he was generally known to the public. I wonder if these sentiments were more common than I recall in the early to mid 90's.
Thu, Jul 1, 2021, 11:38pm (UTC -5)
Sisko's defiance is inspiring. The ending is bad. The episode seems to be at odds with itself. It's not until the final hour that it starts to defend Alixus's point of view. Only after we've observed the horrible outcomes of that philosophy. Maybe it was played differently. The music and the acting just doesn't add up. Am I really expected to sympathize with Alixus, even in the slightest?

Then, the tone shift completely, again, with that final shot with those two kids. They're staring at the box, almost like they are contemplating the future of torture and suffering that they are expected to endure.

I didn't realize until reading from someone else on here that they would also be stunned by the observation of teleportation technology for the first time. The contrast is staggering. On one hand you have miraculous technology. On the other, a subsistence society that is based on torture and social control.

I'm convinced that the writing wasn't intended to come off as naturalist as it seems in the end.
Fri, Jul 2, 2021, 3:07am (UTC -5)
I saw Alixius more like a Robbespierre type figure. She has some good ideas but goes way overboard with the implementation. Having a sense of community, working towards a common goal. These are all things that give many people meaning. BUT stranding people on purpose, emotionally breaking people to preserve the community or letting people die needlessly is pretty horrific. I think that was the point(s), moderation not fanaticism and for a lot of meaningful things technology isn't necessary.
Mon, Jul 12, 2021, 5:45pm (UTC -5)
One star big pile steaming of who cares?

Cliche premise and dull execution. The solid acting is the saving grace.
Wed, Jul 21, 2021, 1:24am (UTC -5)
Liked the story, hated the ending. A bunch of kidnappend and brainwashed people say they’re are happy to stay - someone needs to send a shrink down there. Where was the outrage about the needless deaths? Especially the recent one. Did that girl have no loved ones? Ugh… I hoped everyone would leave and the mother/son creep duo is left behind, with the last shot being of a huge native insect swarm approaching the encampment.
Thu, Aug 5, 2021, 9:32pm (UTC -5)
Another annoyance of the end is the mother is so prozacy in attitude. "Ah well, I knew I'd have to go to jail someone" and she and her son happily go with Sisko.
Sun, Sep 12, 2021, 2:33pm (UTC -5)
Amazing idea behind this episode, with lots of themes that sound relevant today. The pretense of simpler times which hide, under a cloak of rethorics and charisma, harsher and darker truths. Challenges presented by nature one the one hand, and power-hungry sectarianism on the other hand.

But the ending ruined it completely. When the engineer protected that wanna-be prophet dictator I was like "what?!". And NOBODY leaves! I mean, what?!

The episode should have ended with the locals raging against her and her son and trying to put her in one of the cages out of revenge, only to be blocked by Sisko telling them that they were still federation citizens, and that humans moved from that kind of "justice" long ago. Then and only then he should have beamed away with her and her son.

Miles should have stayed to organize the exodus from the planet. Of course some of the people would have still stayed, because it is very troubling to leave sects even when one starts to wake up.
Mon, Sep 13, 2021, 4:07pm (UTC -5)
Oh bullshit. These were all educated people, members of Star Fleet, the idea that they would go along with that insane psychopath, torturing people and not trying to leave is ridiculous. That they would choose to stay there after learning she basically kidnapped all of them, just no. The ending of this episode made me so angry, and that smug look on her face as they beamed up. They should throw her out an airlock on the way back to the station.
David Staum
Sun, Sep 19, 2021, 7:56am (UTC -5)
Not my favorite episode, but remarkably topical.

Crazy Governor Alexis: We believe in the concept of freedom. Mask mandates? Vaccines? Not on our planet! If some people have to die of COVID to preserve our way of life, so be it.
Fri, Nov 26, 2021, 12:18am (UTC -5)
Man, as people have mentioned, the slavery imagery in this is pretty intense. The attempt at cultural erasure, cages, forced labor (including sleep dep, something American slaves commonly suffered given starting work at dawn and continuing into the night sometimes), breeding. Pretty gross.
The Queen
Mon, Dec 6, 2021, 4:44pm (UTC -5)
Time for me to add my two cents. After seeing the comment about the script with the helpful link to it, I read the damn thing, and it was very interesting. First, to Squiggy, these were not Starfleet people but ordinary Federation citizens. So the implication that they were special in some way isn't supported.

Second, they were colonists from the beginning. This probably goes a long way toward explaining why they didn't especially want to leave the planet. I do think they should have been a lot more angry at Alixus, but they now have a nice planet without her, and the option of keeping the anti-tech box turned off. The script doesn't say that they turn it back on. I can't remember whether the episode does, but even if it does, it's the Tree of Knowledge in Paradise, how long are they going to resist it?

When I first saw the eppy, I admired Sisko for his "defiant, silent return to the punishment box" just like everyone else here. But after a while it occurred to me: Alixus gets the cup of water, tells him he can't have it unless he rejects his uniform, AND THEN LEAVES. What prevents him from drinking the damn water and still refusing to change clothes? Is it because he knows the whole community will still be denied water? But they still will be as long as he doesn't knuckle under to her, so why not help himself? Or is he just not able to think outside the box because he's so exhausted?
Michael Miller
Sat, Dec 25, 2021, 11:00am (UTC -5)
I'd be lying if I said I completely understood the plot of this episode, but I'm getting sick of the this starfleet crap of willingly letting themselves get tortured over principles. And the irony of a huge field preventing them from developing technology, is technology in itself! What a hypocrite she was! Another society worthy of a few rounds of torpedos!
Michael Miller
Wed, Dec 29, 2021, 10:01pm (UTC -5)
I watched it again, and agree with all these comments roasting it. Reading these comments restores my faith in humanity. Yes, it was extremely hypocritical of that psycho to use advanced technology as a means of disabling other technology, to try to show how bad technology is! How any half sane human being could come up with that logic is beyond me. And the ending was total BS. Not one person would have agreed with her after realizing what she had done. There's no way they would have casually beamed out leaving innocent kids and brainwashed, victimized, deluded people there to fend for themselves. Not only was this episode infuriating, but it makes me wonder what the mentality is of the people who wrote it. Does he/she/they AGREE with Alexus's sadistic sentiment? What point are star trek authors trying to prove here. Is this an exaggerated form of sarcasm, or is the writer(s) just a total maniac. For a science fiction show that contains some of the most complex technobabble you could concoct, the writers sure HATE technology! Not to mention anything artificial created by humans is by definition technology. This is why I can't stand the "natural healing" zealots. When you take chemicals from the Earth and mix, heat, filter them..etc are they NOT "natural" anymore? These stupid distinctions between vitamins, "drugs", "food", "chemicals are the most idiotic logical fallacies people have came up with it. Our bodies are essentially machines, more complex than artificial computers you can argue, are they not "natural". This phone took maybe a month to construct, our bodies, 4 billion years. The bows and arrows, candles, huts, ladders, and that evil torture box were human invented technology, so how on earth does she have a shred of validity in her "arguments"? Oh and yeah being a sex slave girl or nomadic spear hunter is totally better and more nostalgic than exploring the stars or taking part in something actually meaningful like becoming a 24th century doctor and using your MED KITS to save people and not praying to plants! Maybe all those plants on the planet were psychoactive and screwed with their heads, because no rational star fleet officer after 10 years of being deceived, kidnapped, tortured, neglected, killed, would even think of staying there or not killing Alexus on the spot. Picard whined about "all this not meaning something" when he was in a shuttlecraft with Wesley Crusher, as if all their experiences, accomplishments, time travel..etc DON'T mean anything, sounds like he just had major depression. The meaning of life is to give life meaning, and to not waste time worrying about this stupid question, to be blunt. Quality of life trumps life itself, and it trumps these outrageous, evangelical zealot principles that were being shown in this episode. The prime directive is bad enough, but this episode flips the ideology into psychosis. Wish I could give this Negative 10 stars. At least Threshold wasn't infuriating, stupid, clueless, contradictory, and totally unrealistic and outrageous as THIS!!! Fire the torpedos.
Sun, Apr 17, 2022, 9:09pm (UTC -5)
I think the ending worked very well, particularly because it's uncomfortable. She had successfully created a cult. Even with all the evidence in front of them, the 10 years of brainwashing was too extreme....they just couldn't bring themselves to give it up.
Jeffrey Jakucyk
Wed, Apr 20, 2022, 3:05pm (UTC -5)
"Even with all the evidence in front of them, the 10 years of brainwashing was too extreme....they just couldn't bring themselves to give it up."

Makes you wonder how things would play out over time, assuming a team of Starfleet psychologists don't set up a permanent office there. It seems like most cults are built around their leader, and despite Alixus authoring some books, she doesn't have the reach and staying power of someone like L. Ron Hubbard for example. So I see these folks gradually coming out of their stupor and growing more and more bitter about the situation they were forced into. Some may stay and enjoy The Simple Life™ but I bet many just drift out of it, unless someone else takes over the figurehead role.
Tue, Jul 26, 2022, 1:56pm (UTC -5)
A "we're not leaving our home! no how! no way!" episode. Very novel. Never been done before. Revolutionary. Zzzzzzzzzzz.

That's what I was thinking in the first 10-15 minutes. Turned out to have quite an interesting twist or two, even if pretty predictable.

Alexis (all I could think of was Mr. Pitt's secretary from Seinfeld!) is way too annoying a human being to amass any kind of a following. What's with the constant wheezing, making her sound like she'll hyperventilate herself into sanctimonious sobbing!?!? Geez, relax, lady, huh!

It's funny how many comments here, professing to understand the deeper message behind the episode, studiously miss the fact that THEY may, in fact, be part of a "cult." I especially love the guy who draws parallels between Alexis' group and the anti-vax/anti-face-diaper crowd... - hilarious! WHOOSH! There are none so blind as those who will not see. It was true two thousand years ago; it remains true today.

It was an okay ep. It should've ended with Alexis being given a shot of whisky, gun, and two bullets, and told to go to her quarters and do the honorable thing.
Tue, Jul 26, 2022, 7:38pm (UTC -5)
There is a difference between the intention of a script writer and what the script actually ends up conveying.

I agree with many posters here who think that the intention may have been to create a moralizing story on the harms of technology. But I think story conveys the harms of cult programming (have you seen how end of the world cults don't reject their views even after the predictions turned out to be wrong?). The cult members had bought into her philosophy by the end. However this is not clear cut and the message is a mixture of the two perhaps contradictory ideas.

Anyhow perhaps we can try to assume that as they went back to their daily lives and the conversations on wanting to leave would have begun. The kids would have played their part in that. Star Fleet would have returned to make further investigations and many of those people would have decided to leave. In psychology there is the bystander effect and the conformity effect and conformity effects. Maybe these people were just being silent ... for now.

This could have been an excellent episode if the ending was better. It ruined a very well written episode.
Thu, Oct 27, 2022, 9:28am (UTC -5)
Wow. The comments section of this episode is really something.

- “This episode is terrible because no one, especially me, would be stupid enough to follow what the writers hamhandedly portraits as a villainous crazy psychopath. Who by the way is also a WOMAN who ANNOYS me with her voice, and also they should have CHOPPED HER UP INTO LITTLE PIECES AT THE END ”


-“This episode is terrible because the writers OBVIOUSLY portray the leader and her worldview sympathetically, and I Im ENRAGED by their sympathy with her Luddite philosophy”

They can’t both be true guys, right?

I’m with @wolfstar/M and a few others. I thought this episode was subtle and superb. I was impressed by the acting of the lead antagonist. And for anyone who has actually interacted with sociopathic narcissists, the portrayal - and in particular how she handled resistance and the reveal of her lies - was super on point. Great episode.
Wed, Nov 2, 2022, 1:50am (UTC -5)
i forgot how bad this episode was. If it was TNG I probably would have skipped it, but It's been a while since I rewatched DS9.

One that I want to say. Why did Dax need a "rope trick" to catch the runaway runabout? We just saw from the previous episode that the runabouts can be piloted by remote control. Couldn't just take control and shut down the warp drive?
Wed, Dec 7, 2022, 9:22am (UTC -5)
This story was based on the Khmer Rouge. They went insane pursuing goals of collectivism and anti-technology (some were even prohibited from wearing glasses).

While this isn't an upbeat episode and is a cliche "simple times" episode, it is well done with a good message. Multiple writers worked on this with disagreements over how positive/negative the leader should be.

Many in these comments are upset with the ending where even with the leader being arrested, nobody from the tribe leaves the planet. I actually like this message. Too often we like to blame a leader like Pol Pot or Hitler...and often it is their enablers/followers who are the real problem.

A contemporary analogue of this is the Amish. They too have their grey areas, but they are fairly authoritarian/dogmatic, they use child labor, and abuse their animals. Yet many amish when given an opportunity to leave (rumspringa) don't because they are so brainwashed.
Thu, Jan 19, 2023, 12:43am (UTC -5)
rewatched this recently - honestly thought it was shockingly moving, and i don't really get all the confusion and discourse around this episode. feels to me that this is a straightforward allegory for the nature of cult leaders and how they pull people into abusive communities. of course the people don't want to leave - they've already been mentally broken, and it would take years to deprogram them. the lead woman is a genuinely scary villain.
Thu, Jan 19, 2023, 2:10am (UTC -5)
"of course the people don't want to leave - they've already been mentally broken, and it would take years to deprogram them"
I think that makes it too easy. Cults or really any tight knit group function the way they do because they provide the members with meaning, purpose and a sense of belonging. It taps into something almost all Humans want. I wouldn't call them staying at least for now as them being mentally broken. This community has gone through intense hardships together which makes giving up on the community fairly difficult.
Thu, Jan 19, 2023, 11:40am (UTC -5)

"the lead woman is a genuinely scary villain."

Even if this is just 1 standalone DS9 adventure episode - I think if I were to make some kind of list ranking the worst (or best?) Trek villains, Alixus would be near the top of the list. The idea of a cult leader, megalomaniac, acting like they know and have the right to impose what's best for an entire community (or extend this to an entire country) is truly evil.

"they've already been mentally broken"

Indeed -- that is what a cult leader aims to do. Those poor folks under Alixus' dominion do not realize it and their perspective on how humans should have the freedom to live has been absolutely destroyed. So now they feel like they don't want to leave b/c they wouldn't know how to live independently outside the colony -- that would be terrifying for them.
Sat, Apr 22, 2023, 6:50am (UTC -5)
Three stars seems right. This one was a bit ponderous, and my heart always sinks when I see ST "rustics" wearing potato sacks and Hollywood 1995 hair. But it was an excellent portrait of the banality of evil, with a splendidly cast guest actress, and the ending was fantastic -- people who had lost through free will through an autocrat's domination meekly slinking back to their trapped existence, even though they had been freed. But their minds had not.

A good thought piece.
Thu, Jun 15, 2023, 6:20am (UTC -5)
@Michael wrote: "What's with the constant wheezing, making her sound like she'll hyperventilate herself into sanctimonious sobbing!?!? Geez, relax, lady, huh!"

The actress has a voice disorder called spasmodic dysphonia that makes her talk that way. It's why she left acting.

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