Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Homefront"

4 stars

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

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Previous episode: Our Man Bashir
Next episode: Paradise Lost

◄ Season Index

160 comments on this review

Wendel
Sun, Oct 26, 2008, 1:42am (UTC -6)
You might want to add a commentary upon this review about the post-9/11 world. It is interesting that Trek was still so prescient even during the DS9 era. TOS and TNG were great technological and progressive mediums for the 20th century. DS9 was viewed negatively by traditional trek fans back in the 1990's, but today I can bet you most traditional trek fans have changed their tune.

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

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

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

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

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

And even if some nut-case did set up such a site, there is no way anyone else would add to it for free. For fun? So no point having a comments option at all...
Brian
Sat, Mar 20, 2010, 9:19am (UTC -6)
Well that clinches it. Obviously the fact that people make websites and post comments for free means that in the future people will offer goods and services for free all for passion.

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom line is, a society comprising a large set of individuals will need a monetary/trading system to sustain it, will have individuals will greater or lesser power, will have freeloaders, conflicts and co-operation and sets of laws which must be obeyed for the benefit of society as a whole.
Xionous
Thu, Apr 1, 2010, 2:55am (UTC -6)
It's interesting to try to comment on a universe where there is little need to worry over food, water and medical needs as all can be replicated. Where all Entertainment can be downloaded or travelled to easily as desired.

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

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

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

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

It's not hard to imagine Roddenbery's Earth coming to life with the right technology being shared and some co-operation.
Nic
Tue, Apr 27, 2010, 3:30pm (UTC -6)
Damien, don't worry, I, like you, know Star Trek is a simple Ark allegory and that a world with no hunger, no poverty, no greed and no selfishness will probable never exist.. And to quote Corey Hunt, "I also know that Barack Obama is unlikely to be a Noah who's taking us all to a Roddenberry-flavored utopia. But damn if they both don't inspire people–and for much of the right reasons. Because the muchness of the power they have, comes from the grassroots optimism regular folks gain from their example."

In other words, if Star Trek's positive view of the future encourages people TODAY to help make the world a better place, than I for one need no further justification to continue to strive towards that positive future.
KingofMadCows
Tue, Dec 21, 2010, 1:41am (UTC -6)
They never actually expanded on the no money concept. For all we know, it could just mean that there's no government backed money.

The Federation government provides the basic needs for people like food, water, and shelter, but if you want something more, like your own shuttle craft or holosuite, you'd have to work for a privately owned business.
Stubb
Thu, Jul 7, 2011, 2:30pm (UTC -6)
OK, let me be the grinch to rain on Homefront's parade. The wooden overacting and strained "family" dialogue between the three Siskos just about sinks this episode. I cringed watching the banter between Joseph and Benjamin. And this is not just the script's fault. Both of them were over-emoting ridiculously, especially in the first half hour.
Second, the post-9/11 comparisons. Yes, DS9 was prescient here. But the issue is handled SO ham-handedly as to negate its impact. The sledgehammer treatment of difficult issues does nothing to challenge thought. Is this simply because we've all lived through these tough questions since 9/11? I can't say.
Third, the 'no money' question. Not to get all Ayn Randian here, but would you really work and invest precious time for nothing? I mean really? Doctors are great, but would you spend decades in school and residency (grade 1 on up) for nothing? Lifesaving drugs are great, but if it costs 10 billion dollars to create 10 new drugs, 9 of which fail, what company would do that with no payoff? Human nature does not change.

Actually, it seems to me that one of the few places this fantasy might function is (drumroll) on a starship. Space exploration is so thrilling and rewarding that, yes, people might just train for years to explore space for free.
Captain Tripps
Sat, Sep 17, 2011, 4:00pm (UTC -6)
"Human nature never changes"

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

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

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

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

Also, loved this episode, love this show (my favorite Trek series), liking the reviews and discussion.
Weyoun
Wed, Oct 19, 2011, 4:14pm (UTC -6)
@Tripps:

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

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

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

My point is not that the Trek ethos is not something we should be working towards, but rather that we need to be a bit realistic about how far we can push the vision. I'd imagine that some form of limited capitalism would still have to be around, but that it will be sufficiently limited that greed (unfortunately, an inescapable part of human nature, in my opinion) will not have too much of an negative impact on society.
Stubb
Sat, Oct 22, 2011, 11:38am (UTC -6)
Tripps, your points are well-taken. Of course I wish it were so. But like Weyoun, I fear any optimism about human beings doing things "for the love of it" breaks down when taken to its logical conclusion.

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

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

Oh, and one more point -- guess where some of the profit our drug company makes off its massive investment goes? Into creating the next miracle drug. And on we go.
Stubb
Sat, Oct 22, 2011, 11:51am (UTC -6)
Sorry, two more things.

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

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

Very poor logic. 200 years ago, you could have said "And finally...Since a million years of human history and societal evolution have left us with mercantilism and slavery as our best alternative"
Jay
Sat, Nov 12, 2011, 12:40pm (UTC -6)
How can Nog "have the grades to qualify" for Red Squad after only a month?
Aliem
Sun, Nov 27, 2011, 12:45pm (UTC -6)
"And finally...Since a million years of human history and societal evolution have left us with capitalism as our best alternative"

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

The only barrier here is a lack of vision and political will. Unfortunately, cynicism is a powerful force and *that* is what probably rules out utopia: our belief that it's impossible, which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Stubb
Sun, Feb 19, 2012, 10:39am (UTC -6)
"200 years ago, you could have said -- And finally...Since a million years of human history and societal evolution have left us with mercantilism and slavery as our best alternative"

On most topics I'd agree with you. As I said, "maybe" capitalism is the best we can do. (Insert "Omega Glory" Constitution joke here.) But above all else in a civilization, things need to get done. This whole thread was based on the question of whether a Trek-style approach could actually get people to do things, whether it's exploring space or washing dishes. I wish it were so. But I still contend that the only consistent way to get people to do things (especially big things) is the promise of reward, AKA greed. Call it capitalism, call it money-grubbing, call it whatever you want. But in order for a Trek-style 'utopia' to have a prayer of working, human nature would have to change. And I don't believe it ever will.
Just a fan
Fri, Sep 14, 2012, 10:01pm (UTC -6)
I actually like this episode and found it very provocative even in the 1990's.

To comment the above point about Trek realism:

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

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

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

For Altruism, I'd prefer Gene Roddenberry's vision of humanity being able to rise above our humble problems and become explorer. Roddenberry whole idea is "to seek out new life and new Civilization. To bodly go where no one has gone before." Those are principles far beyond simple human issue and prejudices.
James K.
Sat, Sep 29, 2012, 9:20pm (UTC -6)
@Stubb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I dunno. Sounds like a good deal to me.
William
Mon, Oct 15, 2012, 7:51pm (UTC -6)
Getting back to the episode, I loved it. It was great before 9/11, and afterward, even more so.

The whole thing fit in so well with the entire Dominion story arc.
trent
Wed, May 8, 2013, 9:57pm (UTC -6)
Money and interest are scams - Edison and Einstein even said so - so will be abolished as soon as the populace wakes up and does some research. Star Trek's quasi communist future isn't only possible, abolishing money is vital if we hope to progress as a species. Capitalism requires a constantly expanding GDP and the planet wont be able to take it much longer.
Paul
Wed, Aug 21, 2013, 7:42pm (UTC -6)
The actual world depicted in Star Trek is misleading - they still use humans in most jobs. The reality of the future will most likely be a world where machines do virtually every job and humans don't have to do anything.

Imagine a world populated with only very few humans and millions of Lt. Commander Datas (or even better the replicants from Blade Runner that are virtually indistinguishable from human). They are our robotic slaves and can do anything we ask them. What would be the point of capitalism then? What job could a human possibly have when you have androids that are better than human in every way?
Corey
Tue, Oct 8, 2013, 8:42pm (UTC -6)
How is Homefront ahead of its time? It's your typical right-wing paranoia episode that DS9 loved to milk. So here we have evil terrorists infiltrating the perfect West and threatening to run amok. DS9, thankfully, remembers Drumhead and paints the Federation as the bad guys and overly paranoid, but the series as a whole eventually sides against the boogeyman enemy of the shapeshifters. It's the equivalent of a 9/11 movie blaming instead of siding with "terrorists" and "Middle Easterners". TNG sides with the East, DS9 paints them as Breen, Shapeshifters and one-dimensional enemies. History is littered with those in power demonizing the Other. Star Trek is supposed to have moved beyond that, but DS9 presents the old false dichotomies and false binaries. Picard would have used his brain to think his way out of a Dominion War.



Corey
Tue, Oct 8, 2013, 9:13pm (UTC -6)
To those above: socialism "didnt fail". Propaganda has taught most people that "evil countries" were "dictatorial socialists". That couldnt be further from the truth. Indeed, it is capitalist nations that have waged war with, killed and destabalized every democratically elected left wing government and put psychos in its place (Hitler was initially supported by the West precisely because he was killing Marxist/left-wing jewish movements!- the kings in Russia and England, who were related to the aristocracy in Germany, couldnt be happier). Communism cuts into corporate profits so those in power destroy it. They couped Haiti 4 times in the past 10 years and nobody cared. This has happened in virtually every country over the past century.
Kotas
Wed, Oct 23, 2013, 12:56pm (UTC -6)

Good start to a solid 2-parter.

7/10
DLPB
Sat, Feb 8, 2014, 7:57pm (UTC -6)
This is yet another episode by left wing socialists, who try to convince their audience that real life threats are a lie. If we removed all our security from airports, would you trust going on a plane? Of course not. The reason terrorists choose other targets is precisely BECAUSE the security is more tight at airports now.

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

Thankfully, in the real world, we have people who think logically making a lot of the decisions- not left wing retards who don't live in the real world.
Paul M.
Sat, Feb 8, 2014, 9:13pm (UTC -6)
Corey said: "It's your typical right-wing paranoia episode"

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

Gotta love these comments! :)
Elliott
Sat, Feb 8, 2014, 9:31pm (UTC -6)
Aw, Paul you beat me to it!

I was going to say I found DLPB's comment ironic given the fact that DS9 is infamous for being the most right-wing of the Treks. In fairness though, I think "Paradise Lost" back tracks significantly from this ideology. Of course if "Homefront" was, to you, a celebration of fascist apologia, PL is a salve to that sickening philosophy. If, however, HF was, to you, a reality check against the progressive ideology of Trek, PD must read as a frightened retreat. Don't worry, DLPB, DS9 gets (for the most part) more and more right wing with ensuing seasons.
Paul M.
Mon, Feb 10, 2014, 2:14pm (UTC -6)
@Elliott

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

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

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

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

It's easy to stick labels to things we don't agree with. It'd be better if we were to try and understand them first.
Elliott
Mon, Feb 10, 2014, 4:01pm (UTC -6)
@Paul M.

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

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

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

Philosophically, it's not so difficult to understand the difference between conservatism and progressivism: conservatives idealise the past, progressives idealise the future; conservatives prefer the status quo, progressives always seek change. The built-in irony of course is that, as time passes, that which was once a progressive point of view becomes the norm (at which point, the conservative perspective because moot and the progressive becomes the status quo). Thus that for which the progressive advocated becomes that which the conservative defends. The point is, the progressive ideology is always next step forward and the conservative ideology is doomed to be forgot.
DLPB
Mon, Feb 10, 2014, 5:59pm (UTC -6)
Don't worry, DLPB, DS9 gets (for the most part) more and more right wing with ensuing seasons.
======

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kiplin called this The White Man's Burden; the idea that you have to get a little dirty and slaughter a couple Indians to preserve order. It's a false dichotomy. The other Treks knew this.
Paul M.
Tue, Feb 11, 2014, 8:59pm (UTC -6)
@Corey: By setting up strawmen, ticking-clock scenarios and boogeymen villains who pose an existential threat to human values."

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

As for Kipling, you completely lost me. What kind of hyperbole is that? Who's the white man in DS9? Who's Indians? What are you talking about?
Paul M.
Tue, Feb 11, 2014, 9:18pm (UTC -6)
@Elliott: "The Maquis (...) were unwilling to give up their homes for the good of the peace treaty with Cardassia. (...) But the Federation is VAST and material needs are universally met. (...) So, that means the Maquis are endangering Federation citizens, threatening peace, thieving and betraying Starfleet...and all because they want to live on THIS planet and not THAT one, because of some tenuous emotional attachment. That's ridiculously childish, petty and downright despicable."

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

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

Self-righteousness and theoretical chest-thumping are among the greatest pitfalls of modern politically-minded people. And I'm afraid you're often right there in that pit.
Josh
Tue, Feb 11, 2014, 11:47pm (UTC -6)
@Corey: "By setting up strawmen, ticking-clock scenarios and boogeymen villains who pose an existential threat to human values."

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

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

@Paul: I won't belabour your points, but I couldn't have replied to Elliott's bizarre moralizing any better myself.
Elliott
Wed, Feb 12, 2014, 12:43am (UTC -6)
In terms of living, breathing and specific human beings, I would beg you keep in mind that the price for the Maquis' homes wasn't some sort of trade treaty or even humanitarian aide, but a cessation of war. I don't think it's theoretical chest-bumping to suggest that the suffering the Maquis endured is worth at least the loss of life which peace prevented. In fact, the opportunity existed for the writers to give at least some credence to the Maquis perspective when the Dominion War began, seeing as how what the Federation gave up in its treaty ended up being worth only about 5 years of "peace". It even would have stuck to the theme of DS9 making the Federation stick its foot in its mouth while making some sense, but, no, they didn't do that. Much better pretend we're Victor Hugo.

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

Look, what happened to the border colonies is unfortunate and the Federation absolutely had an obligation to do what it could to ease the settlers' grief, but if you're suggesting the life-saving peace treaty should not have been signed because one small faction opposed it, I think it's you who is suffering from the twisted logic.
Elliott
Wed, Feb 12, 2014, 2:09am (UTC -6)
@Josh :

Examples of Strawmen in DS9 :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Those are just a few chosen at random; Boogeymen can be found in Homefront, Inter Arma Silent Leges, Covenant, ITPML, Let He Who is Without Sin and others. It's getting too late for me to go into it much further, but in fairness, the "ticking-clock" is not a unique DS9 feature. ALL the series overused this device to make plots fit into 40-minute blocks.
Paul M.
Wed, Feb 12, 2014, 4:52am (UTC -6)
@Elliott: "Look, what happened to the border colonies is unfortunate and the Federation absolutely had an obligation to do what it could to ease the settlers' grief, but if you're suggesting the life-saving peace treaty should not have been signed because one small faction opposed it, I think it's you who is suffering from the twisted logic."

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

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

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

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

So no, the Maquis aren't right. They aren't wrong. And even if they were, DS9's isn't on a viewer-proselytising mission of showing the audience the folly of their ways and how "evolved" humans can get past their grievance if "only we acted rationally". The camera is there to show how a lot of small errors borne out of good intentions lead to disastrous consequences. And in my book, that is a hell of a lot more sincere, honest, and true than adopting a sanctimonious intellectually-superior way of judging everyone who fall short of our own self-imposed grandiose standards.
Paul M.
Wed, Feb 12, 2014, 5:27am (UTC -6)
Elliott, I don't think you know what a straw man is. What any of those examples you cited have with straw man fallacy is beyond me.

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

Anyway, the notion that the Orb Experience is a straw man used to deflect the real question is incorrect to say the least. I might even go so far that the entire list of your grievances with DS9 is in itself a straw man as you time and again refute the points that the show never made in the first place.
DavidK
Wed, Feb 12, 2014, 5:54am (UTC -6)
Also you only see strawmen if you go in presuming there's a debate going on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Corey
Wed, Feb 12, 2014, 10:23am (UTC -6)

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

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

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

DS9 was actually deep in S1 and S2, when it portrayed the Federation trying to mend the relationship between Bajor and Cardassia. This was complex culture, philosophy, history and politics, but the fans hated it. From here on: instant war porn!
Corey
Wed, Feb 12, 2014, 10:38am (UTC -6)
The DS9 moral is as old, and as conservative, as Hobbes. It says we can live with lawlessness and war, or drop our values and suckle up to some old fashioned authoritarian, police state justice. All that matters is that no other
options present themselves. This is a false binary, and historically, those who resort to this logic are using it cover up their own good ole fashioned Imperialism.

Compare this to Picard, who is literally shown bowing to at least two genocidal races (the Avatar, the Borg).
Jammer
Wed, Feb 12, 2014, 11:53am (UTC -6)
Corey, I think you are finding what you bring with you more than what is actually there. Just because DS9 has elements of "good versus evil" (and it isn't really even necessarily that simplistic) doesn't make it a right-wing political parable. It just makes it a traditional example of every other story of epic struggle told in simplified terms, with some topical references to boot. Your reading of it is one of the more ... extreme ones I have seen. I suppose Star Wars is also an argument for a police state. It warns of an evil Empire, for crissakes! If only the Jedi could use waterboarding we would all be safe!

Put me with DavidK -- great post.
Elliott
Wed, Feb 12, 2014, 5:14pm (UTC -6)
@Paul M : "Federation had every right to sign a treaty with the Cardassians...[but] All the interested parties, for one reason or the other, made horrific errors in judgement that 'paved the way to hell with good intentions'"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I quite agree with PaulM, and as was once said to one of Wallace Shawn's characters, you should stop using that word. I don't think you know what it means.
Latex Zebra
Thu, Feb 13, 2014, 3:33am (UTC -6)
Thanks Elliot. I believe you are suffering from something too. I'm not qualified to say what but it is something.

Elliott
Thu, Feb 13, 2014, 12:18pm (UTC -6)
Oh, come on Latex Zebra, it's always like this isn't it? Can't let a conversation go on too long without heaping on the snark. If "suffering from" is too incendiary, then let's say "operating under."
Elliott
Thu, Feb 13, 2014, 12:22pm (UTC -6)
@Josh : Sisko's problem with Hudson & Eddington was with their betrayals to Starfleet, not the flimsiness of their argument, which is my problem. THAT is a Strawman. I never heard anyone on any series at any time mention the point of view that Maquis were being childish for the reasons I've stated. When one purposefully ignores an obvious counterargument to one's premise, but still engages in "debate" around the subject, that's a Strawman.
Paul M.
Thu, Feb 13, 2014, 12:52pm (UTC -6)
So? Sisko is the guy who's big on loyalty, to friends, fellow officers, and the uniform. Those are the things that matter most to him. He's not really a philosopher and an intellectual. Not to say he doesn't give a damn about larger principles, but he's simply the type of person who doesn't spend that much time on finer points of a discussion. Frankly, I don't see anything wrong with Sisko's psychological make-up or with the way the show portrays it.

That doesn't have anything to do with straw man. Elliott, you seem to want DS9 to serve as your value-validation vehicle and get agitated when fictional characters manifest traits and lines of reasoning you personally disagree with. I must admit I find such logic highly peculiar.
Elliott
Thu, Feb 13, 2014, 12:59pm (UTC -6)
@Paul M.

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

That's a quote from Picard.
Elliott
Thu, Feb 13, 2014, 1:03pm (UTC -6)
Is Eddington a philosopher? I don't think so. But, the writers had no problem letting him give long speeches about how false Federation ideals and values are.

I don't mind if DS9 questions or poses skepticism towards the Roddenberrian ideal, but to do so giving one side of the argument either no voice or a deflected strawman voice is not fair.
Patrick D
Thu, Feb 13, 2014, 1:15pm (UTC -6)
"I don't mind if DS9 questions or poses skepticism towards the Roddenberrian ideal, but to do so giving one side of the argument either no voice or a deflected strawman voice is not fair."

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

BTW, what episode did you get that Picard quote from?
Elliott
Thu, Feb 13, 2014, 1:20pm (UTC -6)
It's from "The Neutral Zone." If you've not seen it before, be warned: there is quite a bit of annoying filler material in this episode (like so many in Season 1). But the last act is quite compelling.
Paul M.
Thu, Feb 13, 2014, 1:38pm (UTC -6)
And Picard is infallible? The thing you quoted is Picard's opinion. Is there any reason I should particularly believe in that opinion over a bunch of evidence to the contrary?

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

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

Phew. Rant over. ;)

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

Latex Zebra
Thu, Feb 13, 2014, 2:30pm (UTC -6)
@Elliot

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

That is also a quote from Picard.

Moving on from snarks for a moment... Happy to come back to that later. Trek is one of the most inconsistent series out there. Characters do things from show to show that make you scratch your head.
Wilst I'd agree Picard is probably the morally superior of them all he is still prone to very backwards thinking, like revenge.
Elliott
Thu, Feb 13, 2014, 2:39pm (UTC -6)
Of course Picard is not infallible, but he's not a liar either. While the "out of our infancy" bit is, I suppose a poetic bit of license on his part, hunger, want and need are rather quantifiable. Those facts make the Maquis' reasoning sophomoric at best.

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

DS9 has things to recommend it. I appreciated the long-term story telling and would have preferred that Voyager, for example, adopt a similar strategy. There are also some standout episodes like "The Wire," "Far Beyond the Stars," "Duet" and "Chimera," as well as some great characters like Odo, Garak and Dukat sans season 7. But this fundamental arrogance which pervaded the writing of nearly every episode is so offensive and trite that I can't abide the praise which continuously gets heaped on the show, and the derision the other Treks receive when compared to it.
Elliott
Thu, Feb 13, 2014, 2:43pm (UTC -6)
@Latex Zebra :

No one ever said humans evolved out of having emotions like vengeance. In First Contact, Picard wrestled with this feeling and overcame it. He demonstrated by his action that his thinking could overcome his feelings. He did not become Ahab. That's evolution.
Latex Zebra
Thu, Feb 13, 2014, 3:00pm (UTC -6)
@Elliot :

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

Elliott
Thu, Feb 13, 2014, 3:21pm (UTC -6)
That's one of the most beautiful parts of the movie--Lily was on the threshold of beginning humanity's new phase of evolution and Picard was inspired by her to re-embrace his future, which she was about to start building. It's a great way to close the character actually, which is why it's a shame Star Treks IX and X were made.
Latex Zebra
Thu, Feb 13, 2014, 3:23pm (UTC -6)
One of the joyous things about the Federation is how accepting it is. How people can do what they want, with respect obviously. You have Picard's brother Robert who shuns technology and says they should remember the old ways, that life is too comfortable. Fine, no conflict there... Until he winds up Picard enough so they have a fight... Because that is what he needs. A fight bonds people. Seriously, this is the 24th century, surely people are a little more evolved than that.
The Maquis have a large portion of Native Americans among their number and their formation was teased in Journey's End (What are your thoughts on that episode by the way Elliot?). Given the A race that were bullied off their land years and years ago it stands to reason they would not take lightly to this kind of behaviour again and given they've stuck to their traditions and not evolved, despite everything evolving around them, I wouldn't put terrorism beyond them. The fact that Starfleet officers would sympathise with them is thoroughly understandable. Several, and it is probably said in an episode, agree that the price of peace with the Cardassian's is too much and lets be fair. This is a race whose arse Starfleet could have really kicked if they wanted to. They could have beaten them to submission, gave up nothing.
That wouldn't have given us DS9 though and the edgier Trek that some people wanted.

Latex Zebra
Thu, Feb 13, 2014, 3:27pm (UTC -6)
@Elliot :

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

Patrick D
Thu, Feb 13, 2014, 3:29pm (UTC -6)
^^
Elliott, you are my freaking hero! That beautifully sums up what I've been trying to say for a decade and a half, but nowhere near as concise.

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

A lot of writers for DS9 were transplanted from TNG. And so many of those writers chaffed at "Roddenberry's box" (but, were more than happy to accept the money and the fame), made a TV series where they could vent their frustrations. And DS9 was just as "preachy" as all the other Trek shows, but in a different way.
Paul M.
Thu, Feb 13, 2014, 4:25pm (UTC -6)
"For me DS9 was the smart alec student in the back of the room always taking pot shots at the teacher and "the establishment" to hide the fact that he doesn't have any better ideas of his own."

I chuckled.

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

I'm being (half)-facetious here. No intention to start (yet another) edition war.
Paul (a different one)
Thu, Feb 13, 2014, 5:08pm (UTC -6)
Oooh! Can I play?

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

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

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

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

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

TAS: The weird cousin that was around for a while but seemingly was forgotten as the years went by.
Paul M.
Thu, Feb 13, 2014, 5:32pm (UTC -6)
@Elliott: "Star Trek is one of the very few mainstream television shows that advocates for atheism, communism and science, along with tolerance and equality. DS9 is regarded as the "realistic Trek" because it basically laughs in the face of those ideals. (...) the writers assume the audience is already looking at quotes like the one above and shaking their heads with smug disapproval"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

Paul M.
Thu, Feb 13, 2014, 7:00pm (UTC -6)
Josh, a great post.

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

All too true :)

Interestingly enough, Ron Moore helped write that episode and I'm almost certain Jellico's chewing out Troi was his idea. I remember him later critisising Seven's costume along similar lines.
Josh
Thu, Feb 13, 2014, 8:21pm (UTC -6)
@Corey: While I'm sure the monetarists would agree about the "natural rate of unemployment", the post-war consensus at Bretton-Woods was most certainly centred around full employment and monetary stability.

Anyway, I suggest you go re-take Macro 101 before continuing along this line of argument.
Niall
Fri, Feb 14, 2014, 12:02pm (UTC -6)
As a non-American reader of this site since the 90s, I find it fascinating how - now that the comment function has been added - certain American political and cultural schisms spill over into the comments sections of various episodes (ones which act as cultural flashpoints) on a regular basis. What I find fascinating is that the angles and viewpoints from which issues are debated (on threads like "Repentence", "Far Beyond The Stars", "Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang" and this one) are often soooo American, full of baffling subjective readings and outlandish viewpoints you wouldn't find in any other first- or second-world country. It comes through in the bizarre mental filters through which some people seem to watch the episodes, the emotive/histrionic tone of a fair proportion of the comments, how paranoid and ill-informed some of the comments are, the polarised conclusions they leap to due to their highly subjective viewing, and of course, the brain-deactivating invocation of "socialism", "communism", "fascism", "capitalism" etc. as boogeymen. DS9 is a story, it wasn't written as right- or left-wing, and it was written in the 90s long before 9/11 etc. Of course fiction has political context, but you know what? Not every single piece of drama or every episode of Star Trek has to be either unequivocally right- or left-wing, pro- or against a certain standpoint. The show wasn't written to be binary and divisive. In this thread, we have one person writing off this (excellent) episode as "yet another episode by left wing socialists" (1: as opposed to right-wing socialists? 2: no, it isn't) and another dismissing it as "your typical right-wing paranoia episode that DS9 loved to milk" (no, it isn't that either). I dunno, maybe just approach what you watch with an open mind, leave your baggage at the door, and enjoy the storytelling? I completely agree with Paul M's stellar comments throughout this thread (MARRY ME).

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

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_of_emergency#Egypt
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_of_emergency#Abuse
Paul M.
Fri, Feb 14, 2014, 4:01pm (UTC -6)
Niall, thanks for your kind words.

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

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

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

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

Dusty
Sat, Feb 15, 2014, 11:01am (UTC -6)
Okay, so about the episode...it was great. An entertaining, compelling hour of television.

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

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

"By focusing on both sides of the argument"

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

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

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

I can appreciate that you haven't been able to find stuff more to your liking, but from where I stand, DS9 was pretty good in tackling moral complexities. Not perfect, mind you (for example, I'm not as forgiving to the last as Jammer; I think that S7 was somewhat of a simplistic letdown), but very good.
Corey
Sun, Feb 16, 2014, 9:22am (UTC -6)
I agree with that. I loved the politics of the first 2 seasons, the Bajor/Cardassia relationship and even most of the politics up to season 5. To me it's the Dominon war, Fed actions, Dominion portrayal and war resolution that is trite.
Paul M.
Sun, Feb 16, 2014, 12:44pm (UTC -6)
@Corey: "I agree with that. I loved the politics of the first 2 seasons"

First two seasons, and especially the second, are in my opinion among the most underrated seasons of Trek. Almost everywhere I look, people lump them together in the "pre-Dominion weak stuff". I don't know if that's because fans seem to like the more overt action of S3 and beyond, or is it due to some strange sentiment carried over from TNG that the first two seasons are always the weakest.
Trekker
Sat, Apr 5, 2014, 9:44pm (UTC -6)
When it comes to war, both internal and external Babylon 5 was better TV series. In terms of the role of Civilians and military issues, Babylon 5 did better than any other, because they were unafraid to take on the hard issue.

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

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

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

Star Trek DS9 also had a few genuine sci-fi gems, like "The Visitor", but that was no longer Star Trek best.
Eric
Wed, May 7, 2014, 12:53am (UTC -6)
I have a hard time accepting Trek's world as "post-scarcity"; if you pay attention to the dialogue, they're often talking about managing scarcity in some way (especially on Voyager). My main problem with it is that without scarcity there's no conflict (there's plenty of conflict in Trek, and it seems to be based on scarcity: fighting over worlds, etc..). Sounds like a great world to live in, just not one to base a show on.

I think that the people in this comments section have put way more thought into the consequences of a moneyless society than Roddenberry ever did. The writers have actually often contradicted this, what with Beverly charging something to her account in the 1st episode of TNG, with starfleet officers buying things, etc.. If the writers can't take it seriously, then neither can I.
UnknownSample
Thu, Jun 12, 2014, 10:13pm (UTC -6)
How many times does Odo say "My People" in this two parter. he supposedly rejected his people. I just find it odd that he would continually call the dominion his people when they are hostile to the alpha quadrant and earth. I just noticed that he says that more in these two episodes than he does in the rest of the series. Most of the time he refers to them as shapeshifters or even changelings. I wonder what the writers wanted to us to get from that.
Nonya
Wed, Jun 25, 2014, 12:14am (UTC -6)
This episode was a real yawner. I just didn't care about anything that was happening. The acting was pretty stilted here, and only Sisko, his dad, and Odo weren't completely terrible. I guessed the bad guy before the end.

I don't know why there are so many comments on this episode. Pure tedium.
Yanks
Wed, Aug 6, 2014, 9:32am (UTC -6)
Wow, lots of TNG v DS9, left v right, etc in these comments.

This episode predicted EXACTLY our reaction to 9/11 (or any other mega crisis) would be.

See: The Department of Homeland Security, the TSA and the Patriot Act.

Both are governmental knee-jerk reactions to a crisis, allowed by "the people" because the politicians 'have' to do something to save the children, baby milk factories and "our way of life".

Our military budget has ballooned by 300 Billion dollars with no end in sight and NO ONE able to make the cuts that need to be made to regain fiscal responsibility.

Constitutionally guaranteed Personal liberties/privacies have been broached all in the name of "security". Never to return.

This is a VERY realistic episode that depicts what the best intentioned people do under pressure... and what these situations allow the not-so-well intentioned people can get away with.

I agree with Jammer. 4 stars for this one.
DLPB
Sun, Aug 17, 2014, 6:05pm (UTC -6)
This episode predicted EXACTLY our reaction to 9/11 (or any other mega crisis) would be.
-------

No it didn't. In this episode, and the next one, the threat of changelings (who could infiltrate the highest ranking officers of Earth) was ignored. In fact, one changeling alone DID infiltrate the Klingon Empire. 9/11 was a bunch of Islamic nutcases who hijacked some planes. It was not a threat on the magnitude presented here, and then ignored.

We did not ignore 9/11. We stepped up security. had we not done, there would have been many more terror attacks on buildings involving planes. This is something people like you miss every time. "Oh, there wasn't another 9/11. That means all the precautions we took were just for nothing". GET A CLUE.

The issue in this series is... DS9 created a god-like race able to wreak unparalleled destruction. And then it turned around and said "Yeah, you know they could infiltrate your main grounds, assimilate your highest ranked officers, but never mind... it's all paranoia. Yeah, they can really do all this... but let's just do nothing."

Now, use some brain cells and work out why 9/11 and this are very different situations. If the Changelings were real, the Earth portrayed in Trek would have been DOOMED. How hard would it have been for a group of them to end up impersonating enough people to launch doomsday weapons? According to these episodes, it would be a walk in the park. And you'd congratulate yourself as the ashes piled up, because you "Didn't get paranoid". LOL.
Robert
Mon, Aug 18, 2014, 8:31am (UTC -6)
I'm going to have to agree with Yanks here. Obviously this isn't an allegory for something that hadn't happened yet and there is no real life parallel to changelings... but the eerie part is that it's a little tip of the hat as to what happens when the people serving our security start looking at the people they are serving and seeing the enemy. Women pouring out breast milk at the TSA's demand, virtual (and non virtual) strip searches, we all have to take our shoes off, etc.

I'm not telling you that some measures aren't useful and that there aren't some flaws in the comparison (again, Changelings are kind of uber), but if you can't see a parallel in the US gov looking at EVERY CITIZEN and worrying about them being a radical religious extremist and Starfleet looking at EVERY CITIZEN and wondering if they are a changeling I wonder if you understand the "mirror factor" of sci-fi at all. And it's a little disingenuous to assume that just because DS9 was mostly episodic that they completely stopped looking for changelings entirely in the next episode, just because it wasn't about changelings anymore.
Yanks
Mon, Aug 18, 2014, 1:41pm (UTC -6)
"I'm going to have to agree with Yanks here."

***Yanks does the 'sit-in-chair-dance'***

:-)
MsV
Thu, Feb 12, 2015, 6:23am (UTC -6)
@Josh: As good as Seven's character was, she was undermined by the ridiculous attire. Edward Jellico would never allowed something like that.

Maybe not but she would have assimilate him.

T'Pol was not attractive in her cat suit. She did not have the figure for it. I was a little jealous of Seven. lol
dlpb
Tue, Aug 18, 2015, 11:04am (UTC -6)
It's also very telling to me that this episode was made before 9/11. The writers of this episode are the very kinds of people who left thousands murdered in the worst attack on the US. The Clinton administration was repeatedly warned that planes were too easy to board and security too lax. They ignored it, largely for the crap reasons give on the show. So, in a way, I am actually pleased we have this episode, because it's a piece of history showing you the final result of what happens when you believe the idealistic nonsense the liberal writers were spouting.

Burying one's head in the sand and doing nothing about a threat leads to big trouble. Learn that.
Robert
Tue, Aug 18, 2015, 1:03pm (UTC -6)
A mark of an excellent episode when two people can look at it and come to the exact opposite conclusions.

Also, as somebody that walks past the STILL not finished former hole in my skyline and was consoling family members in the aftermath I still think the cure is worse than the disease.

I think the best part of the episode is the Sisko/Sisko switch. Ben thinks Joseph is an idiot (or a "terrorist") for not wanting a blood sample ("taking his shoes off"). An attack happens and suddenly the elder Sisko is ready for the blood test and the younger sees how messed up it is that somebody is willing to give up liberty for security. The moment when Ben realizes that he's the bad guy is easily in my top 10 for the entire franchise.
Yanks
Tue, Aug 18, 2015, 5:02pm (UTC -6)
"T'Pol was not attractive in her cat suit. She did not have the figure for it. I was a little jealous of Seven. lol"

THAT my friend is a matter of opinion.
Kira Nerys
Tue, Sep 22, 2015, 4:24pm (UTC -6)
I wonder whatever happened to Sisko's (step-)sister, not to mention those personal force fields that they referred to...those sure would have come in handy on AR-what'sthenumber!

Also, being able to cut power to THE ENTIRE PLANET just like that - wtf??? All of Earth dependent on one single power source, with no backup?

I must be one of the few who didn't find this ep too impressive...the whole Sisko family affair drags it down too much for me. I find Sisko's father to be the most insufferable character in the entire series, his stubbornness is neither interesting nor endearing...just lame. I wish more time had been spend on showing the situation on Earth, and what it looks like when trouble strikes paradise...or, actually, anything other than endless concern about whether good old Joe is gonna drop dead or not.

Three stars, barely, from me - the concept is intriguing, but the execution could have been so much better.
Robert
Wed, Sep 23, 2015, 7:05am (UTC -6)
Sure, we have one episode that doesn't take place in the Bajoran system and Kira's on here complaining. Typical.
William B
Mon, Nov 2, 2015, 10:27pm (UTC -6)
Will have to wait for "Paradise Lost" (which I'll be watching in a few days) for the full write-up, but I thought I'd make a few quick notes:

- It's been so long since I saw this episode that I had completely forgotten that Sisko has that moment where he realizes he had been thinking that Joseph was maybe a changeling, so that Sisko touching the blood seemed very jarring to me. I obviously did remember that Joseph was not a changeling. So it was only at that point that I realized that the ongoing "Joseph refuses to go see a doctor!" thread which takes up an inordinate amount of time in the episode was partly setting up the mislead -- of course, if Joseph were a changeling, he would do everything he can to avoid a full medical exam. And of course this all culminates in his refusal to give blood. However, it's funny, again until the moment Sisko touched the blood, it hadn't even crossed my mind that we were supposed to suspect Joseph of being a changeling. Part of me thinks that there should have been a bit more of a tell in the episode to suggest that *Sisko*, at least, was starting to suspect it, but it may just be that the fault lies with me for failing to put myself in the first-time-viewer headspace enough; knowing that Joseph was not a changeling maybe made me miss the story's set-up for the mislead.

- Knowing how "PL" will pay off many of the elements here means I cannot quite view the episode's various subplots with fresh eyes. Still, I wonder how Nog's desire to join Red Squad played; it seems hard to imagine anyone getting too excited about whether people we don't see let Nog into their group or not. And within the episode, it looks like Sisko can barely stay awake long enough to listen to Nog's request. It's morbidly funny that both Jake and Nog jumped to anti-Ferengi racism as the probable reason why Red Squad wouldn't want to hang out with him.

- Most of the station material is pretty filler-y. I like the idea of Bashir and O'Brien running through Battle of Britain as a way of coping with the threat to their homeworld -- retreating to a particular time when a part of Earth culture was suffering an existential threat and living through the heroic actions that saved it. It's also set-up for the way in which there is a gap between the actual losses on Earth and the perception of those losses -- 27 deaths is tragic but is notably *not* the same as Britain under siege in WWII (though whether the Dominion could represent that threat is a different story). I do think that Quark talking about a great economic recession on Ferenginar is meant to be a haha-those-Ferengi joke but plays a little differently when economic downturns are more clearly linked to suffering and death, which should not have been so hard to recognize (and really, the Great Depression was only a few years before the Battle of Britain, guys). There is that little station-based scene where Kira mentions that she wishes this *were* a message from the Prophets, and Worf says he prefers Klingon gods, and talks about how Klingons killed them. Kira and O'Brien then share an out-loud laugh about how no one understands Klingons, while Worf looks kind of pissed. I don't really blame him.
Easter
Tue, Nov 10, 2015, 2:23pm (UTC -6)
@William B
As a pair of fresh eyes: I found the Nog subplot interesting enough. It was clearly going to tie into something bigger and I wanted to see what that was and also I just found it an interesting little check in on how Nog is doing.

I suspected Joseph might be a changeling, but less for any sort of overt thing he did and more because well, it made sense narratively, similar to why i assumed Yates was one. He had to be serving some narrative purpose and this was, at this point in the two parter, still a story about secret changelings being routed out. The question in my mind was always "who is the changeling"? And I was just as paranoid and suspicious as the Starfleet Brass. I found it was set up put me in the right mindset very well and make the development of the twist coming up work great.
Diamond Dave
Wed, Dec 23, 2015, 12:36pm (UTC -6)
I think my main problem with this episode is that it feels so big but is played so small, with just a handful of key characters, and it also seems far too accelerated, in that Sisko is recommending the imposition of martial law for the whole planet far too quickly.

Thematically this goes to an interesting place, and there are some strong performances - particularly Joseph, and the reaction he engenders in Sisko - but it all feels a little manufactured and artificial.

The line about the Klingons killing their gods because they were more trouble than they were worth is something of a classic though. 2.5 stars.
Morn
Fri, Jan 1, 2016, 8:24am (UTC -6)
The only problem I have with this episode is how ubiquitous Starfleet is. Why is the Federation in control of everything. Doesn't Earth have its own military and its own form of civilian government? This is something that Star Trek doesn't delve into deeply enough. Sure, we've come so far as to formed alliances with other races and formed a Federation out of that. It makes sense to have an alien as head of the UFP but giving the Federation full control over Earth's defences, its military, is a step too far. The final scene with yellow-shirts beaming in on to the streets is quite absurd. It would be a bit like NATO sending in its forces to take control of the US in an emergency.

You have to wonder, what power does Starfleet and the Federation lack on Earth? I don't think that question was even considered by the writers here, because we are so used to Starfleet being the center of Star Trek. Watching it today it just comes across as insular and divorced from the realism that DS9 tried to bring to us.
Quarkissnyder
Mon, Mar 7, 2016, 10:10am (UTC -6)
I enjoyed this episode. The paranoia aspect was well done.

With respect to comments about post-money society: I don't think that the ST Universe has been consistent about lack of money. Certainly mention is made of "credits" occasionally. On Voyager replicator food is rationed, and those rations are traded, thereby serving as currency.

I agree that it makes no sense that the president of the federation would be responsible for the domestic governance of earth. It would be like the secretary of the general of the UN also being mayor on New York.

What was going on with Dax and Odo at the beginning? Just boring filler? Or will it have some significance at some point?
Luke
Mon, Mar 7, 2016, 10:26am (UTC -6)
"I agree that it makes no sense that the president of the federation would be responsible for the domestic governance of earth. It would be like the secretary of the general of the UN also being mayor on New York."

But the U.N.'s Secretary General isn't an actual head-of-state. It would be more akin to the President of the United States also being the Governor of Maryland.
Quarkissnyder
Wed, Mar 9, 2016, 9:03am (UTC -6)
Luke,
I guess that raises the question of how much power the Federation has over individual planets. Is it actually a government? Or more of a coordinating body?
Luke
Wed, Mar 9, 2016, 9:51am (UTC -6)
I think it's clearly a government, but one based on the federal system of the United States, where there are competing centers of authority. Given that the writers were Americans writing for a mostly American audience, that wouldn't surprise me.

My guess is that what happens when the Federation President signs over Earth's defenses to Leyton and Sisko he's basically doing what the U.S. President can do in times of emergency - federalize a given state's national guard. Earth has it's own government, much like each U.S. state has it's own government, but there's also the "federal" part of the government - the Federation government. Each individual planet, or member world, in the Federation would therefore be similar to a U.S. state. The Federation government has certain authorities over each member world, but those worlds also have their own local governments with authority that can't be interfered with by the Federation government (except in times of extreme emergency).

Sadly, like most things like this in Trek, all this confusion could have been solved with a few lines of extra dialogue. When the President signs the orders handing over Earth's defenses, instead of silently signing them, have him say something like - "Earth's minister won't like this, but let me worry about the political fallout. Earth is in your hands, gentlemen."
Luke
Sun, Apr 3, 2016, 9:41am (UTC -6)
"Homefront" is easily the best episode of "Deep Space Nine" thus far. The paranoid atmosphere, the real sense of threat and danger from the Changelings, the introduction of Sisko's father (who is wonderfully portrayed by Brock Peters - I adore this character!), the use of Earth as the setting (fixing my main objection to "The Best of Both Worlds" - showing how the public is responding to the crisis) and the focus on the Federation government (Trek always seems to have a real problem showing heads-of-state - other than Gowron, I suppose - and I'm always happy when we actually do meet one) all add together to make this one a real winner.

I'm actually very intimidated about tackling the issues presented here and in "Paradise Lost". So, I'm not going to. I doubt I could add anything that hasn't already been said, and probably much more eloquently, to how this episode works and works so well. Instead, I just want to focus on one aspect that really stood out for me - the acting. Two scenes in particular absolutely sold the atmosphere and sense of danger poised by the Dominion. First, there's the scene where Sisko confronts his father about not getting blood-screened. Ignoring the wonderful political implications that both men address, it does a fantastic job of getting the audience paranoid about whether Joseph is a Changeling or not. In fact, the groundwork is laid almost from the moment Joseph appears on screen. When Sisko and Jake first get to New Orleans and have a conversation with him over a restaurant table, Joseph makes a rather pointed refusal to eat. Wonderful foreshadowing there. Is he not eating because he's not a Human? When he finally cuts himself and Sisko sees the blood on the knife you honestly get a sense of relief that he isn't, in fact, a shape-shifter. I can't sing this scene's praises enough. Second - the scene in the President's office when Sisko and Leyton convince Jaresh-Inyo to declare martial law. Getting into the politics of the episode, briefly - I am not one who easily favors martial law, to put it mildly. It would take a truly serious and extreme situation for me to ever even entertain the idea. But, the episode manages to get me fully committed to it, because this scene is absolutely riveting! When Sisko makes his speech about how a Jem'Hadar army would ravage Earth and how Starfleet absolutely needs to respond, I'm fully with him. I remember when I first watched the episode when it originally aired back in 1996 - my thoughts at this point where something like "Yes, curtail any civil liberties you have to! Armageddon is upon you!" Given that that is exactly the state of mind the writers wanted to evoke, I'd say they did their job splendidly. To make a guy like me, a pretty strong civil libertarian, to think so, that's some brilliant writing and acting.

One last thing I'll mention is something I think possibly holds the episode back. It certainly doesn't harm it, but it's something that could have made the episode even better. While I love that we spend so much time focused on the Federation President (and it's really nice that he's an alien we've never seen before), this was a golden opportunity that was rather wasted to show us more of the inner workings of the UFP government and the upper echelons of Starfleet (two things Trek has always been notoriously sloppy about). How is Earth's local government responding to this crisis? When Jaresh-Inyo declares martial law and hands the planet over to Starfleet, wouldn't Earth's leader and native legislature have something to say about it? This is akin to a story where the U.S. President declares marital law and hands over control of Virginia to the military and yet the governor and Virginia legislature are never even mentioned. Are they angered about being left out of the loop and decision making process? Or, looking forward to the events of "Paradise Lost", are they complicit with Leyton's goals? We could have some spent a little time on these rather important matters instead of, oh say, having two scenes about Dax pranking Odo (which only makes Dax look really childish - breaking into his quarters while he's essentially sleeping and messing with his furniture, really?!). In fact, I would absolutely love it if we ever got a Trek series that was akin to "The West Wing" - a series where the Federation President was the main character and it focused on his dealings with high ranking members of Starfleet and various Alpha Quadrant heads-of-state. Of course, that will never happen since so many fans are so fundamentally wedded to the ideas that Trek simply MUST be about exploration and MUST focus on a single Starfleet crew. So, it's sad that the writers didn't take this opportunity to do a little of that kind of storytelling.

HOLODECK TOYS - 5 (+1)

10/10
Shinzon
Thu, May 5, 2016, 11:24am (UTC -6)
I know your supposed to have the whole "suspension of disbelief" thing when watching TV but theres always been one thing that bugs me about this two-parter. Where exactly were all the other admirals when Leyton was using starfleet to seize control of earth?
Ben
Fri, May 6, 2016, 11:26am (UTC -6)
@Shinzon
Sisko contacts another two star admiral who obviously knows about the coup. Others are probably involved, too.
Skywalker
Sun, Jun 19, 2016, 7:16pm (UTC -6)
@Luke, I definitely see your point and agree rather fully with your analysis. Regarding the U.S. president hypothetically delcaring martial law over Virginia — maybe it's more akin to declaring martial law over the District of Columbia.

D.C. is already severely limited in its representation; U.S. Congress acts as their local legislators! Yet the people have no say in the matter, no city council, just a mayor.

Perhaps Earth in the UFP is a similarly unique place, and as the capital world of the Federation it really doesn't have any local government approaching the power of other planets', so an even more severe version of the D.C. analogy.

You're right that a few lines of dialogue could have satisfied these curiosities.
Tanner
Mon, Dec 12, 2016, 5:35am (UTC -6)
No way Starfleet could have enough security officers to cover every city and town on Earth. Aren't there local security forces on each planet? Again, what is the deal with the two uniforms? Seems aside from DS9 and Voyager crews all other Starfleet personnel wear the TNG uniforms.
Tommy
Fri, Mar 3, 2017, 5:41pm (UTC -6)
So I guess they decided Sisko's dad was alive afterall.
Peter
Fri, Jun 2, 2017, 4:55pm (UTC -6)
Nice episode and review. A few notes, the lack of security or the idea of refusing to identify yourself are unthinkable in the real world. Ben's father would be driven insane had he have to live in the 21st century. I also find it hard to believe that the power could be so completely disrupted. Mostly? Yes. Fully? Doubtful.
Rahul
Thu, Jul 27, 2017, 4:10pm (UTC -6)
Some pretty powerful allegories in "Homefront" about what fear can do to a family, an organization, a city, a planet.

I thought the best scene was with Ben Sisko and his dad refusing to take the blood test. I can understand the old man's reluctance, but just to set Ben's mind at ease -- take the damn test! Anyhow, for Ben to actually think his dad could be a shapeshifter shows what the fear has come to -- but he very well could be a shapeshifter given what Sisko has seen before.

I guess I take issue with the President of the Federation -- seems like somebody totally inappropriate for the job. And I think he admitted it himself. The episode spent too much time (for me) with Sisko trying to convince the President to defend the planet better.

"Homefront" is a good 1st part to an episode about the prelude to a Dominion invasion of Earth. I'd rate it 3 stars -- its pretty good but not exceptional. Taking on the subject of disrupting Earth's peaceful society to prepare for invasion / martial law is a worthy subject for DS9 to explore both from an operational standpoint and from a personal one. It's pretty well done here although a bit scattered at times like when Nog bugs Sisko to talk about this "Red Squad" (which gets fleshed out more in the 2nd part).
Chrome
Thu, Jul 27, 2017, 5:43pm (UTC -6)
"It's pretty well done here although a bit scattered at times like when Nog bugs Sisko to talk about this "Red Squad" (which gets fleshed out more in the 2nd part). "

I don't see how this makes the episode scattered. The writers clearly wanted you to watch both parts 1 and 2 so naturally there's setups in part 1 which leads to payoffs in part 2. I would think of it more like a 1.5 hour movie, with a clear moment where you can stop and take a break.
Rib
Mon, Aug 7, 2017, 7:31pm (UTC -6)
The only problem was that with a limited series budget to work with, you could never feel that Earth was at stake, since all you saw was San Francisco and a handful of cast extras. Sometimes it felt like Sisko, that admiral and that President were the only ones on the planet.
Startrekwatcher
Mon, Aug 7, 2017, 11:45pm (UTC -6)
3 stars

I think this episode is overrated. It's alright but nowhere near a classic or excellent episode

First you have a lot of padding. Dax acting like an immature nuisance moving Odo's furniture. Is she 300 years old or 12?

Then you have obrien bashir dressed up that scebe of them coming out holo suite and acting like they were still in character was cringeworthy

It was nice seeing Nog but Hevwas mostly around to introduce Red Squad which evokes not the best impression--Star Trek and you g cadets don't mix well in my opinion

I like Joseph Sisko but a lot of those scenes were fair if pretty ordinary

Things picked up in last 15 minutes and finally possessed the kind of urgency and terror they rest of the episode needed.

This episode could have been excellent with some more work but as is it's just decent
Patrick
Sat, Nov 25, 2017, 12:47am (UTC -6)
At 3:05 in the episode Warf mentions the time-code of the bombing as 5-9-11. This makes my head hurt.

Anyone else pickup on this?
Neil
Mon, Dec 25, 2017, 5:34am (UTC -6)
I can't read all this shit (but will) but it doesn't seem as though anyone has mentioned the best part of this episode: When Joseph Sisko catches Ben staring at his bloody knife and calls him by his middle name and proposes a scenario where a changeling would attack a human, store human blood, and use this blood to fool any test they could create, something Star Fleet Medical should have considered in the FIRST PLACE! when developing a test for changelings. It takes a man with the knowledge of the roux and its development from generations of mixing and mimicking to know there is no defense.

Man, if someone wanted to write and direct a real, classic, transformative Star Trek movie, all they would need to do is read every Jammer review and ALL of the comments for each. Within the comments sections you have plot dissection, you have questioning of character motivation within larger character arcs which are also called into question. You have critiques of writing and story, and rebukes of deviation from cannon, as well as allowance of and tolerance of . . . and DESIRE FOR . . . this deviation from cannon. You see jealousy, you see hatred. You find loyalty for one captain or another, writers or showrunners, one producer or another. The most rabid and exacting of fans can't stifle true creativity. The entire Trek universe is available for your story. A writer merely has to pay attention and then make a decision which way he's going to go. That path is laid out in front of you. A river of gold pressed . . .

Dirk Kirby
Fri, May 25, 2018, 5:25pm (UTC -6)
I guess I'm in the minority again, I found this episode to be a big snore. I kept wondering what Dr. Leah Brahms was doing impersonating a member of Starfleet intelligence? That really distracted me from the narrative and kind of broke the episode for me. Also, I don't see any family resemblance between the Sisko's, most especially Grandpa Sisko and Benjamin. I find their lack of of any resemblance to be weird and just poor attention to detail.
I'm really happy that this site is still active, and much appreciation and gratitude for the reviews, and the comments.
Rahul
Thu, Jun 7, 2018, 7:06pm (UTC -6)
Some additional thoughts after a re-watch:

The episode really picks up about half-way through. A fair bit of scattered padding before that which weighs the overall episode down from a 3.5- or 4-star rating for me (Nog/Red Squad, O'Brien/Bashir holodeck fun, Dax messing with Odo's furniture).

Also have to wonder how Earth would ever accept an alien as UFP president -- but who knows how attitudes are supposed to change in the next 300 years. Here, the president is woefully inadequate for the role, needs to be reminded by Odo/Sisko/Leyton about the need to provide re-assurance, that this is an emergency situation etc. Why does it take so much convincing FFS?? I suppose it is to provide the non-military high-level representative view of the general population.

Best acting performance here comes from Peters as Sisko's dad. Really has a relationship with Ben and Jake that comes across very naturally and plays a stubborn old man very well dealing with health issues, the desire to keep working.
Peter G.
Thu, Jun 7, 2018, 7:15pm (UTC -6)
"Also have to wonder how Earth would ever accept an alien as UFP president"

?????
Iceman
Sun, Aug 19, 2018, 6:26pm (UTC -6)
"Homefront" is a gripping episode. Not only does the paranoia hanging over Earth in this episode feel real and palpable, it also feels strangely prescient, displaying issues that would only multiply in the years following the end of DS9's run.

4 stars.
Garth of Izar
Thu, Sep 13, 2018, 6:14pm (UTC -6)
Fascinating to read this long thread years later - much praise to Paul M for his measured comments, boos to Elliott for viewing any deviation from the scripture of TNG Seasons 1-2 as heretical.

As for the supposed "reactionary" nature of DS9, Sisko treads as firmly principled a line in PL as any Starfleet captain could have done, and neither Worf nor Benteen is prepared to kill each other's crew to achieve victory, despite the extremely high stakes on both sides.
Elliott
Tue, Dec 11, 2018, 2:54pm (UTC -6)
Oh man, ELATED to get back onto this thread...

Teaser : ***.5, 5%

Dax and Sisko observe the wormhole behaving strangely, opening and closing, seemingly at random. There's some of your typical overly-proud-of-itself DS9 dialogue which clumsily exposits superficial changes to the characters. Sisko has a beard now, in case you didn't notice. And it's been a while since he had a chat with the Prophets. Why is this here? Well, this was supposed to be the S3 cliffhanger episode and as such, feels the need to be insufferable in the writers' attempts to prove how conscientious they are about continuity. Odo arrives on the promenade, Quark tells Morn a dick joke and Sisko is summoned to Ops over a message from Starfleet.

For his part, Odo is furious with Quark. Please contain your surprise. Actually, his grievance is of a personal nature this time—Dax has been playing pranks on Odo, messing with the shit in his quarters just to be annoying. Apparently, “Rejoined” left the character far too sympathetic, so we need to give the audience reasons to loathe her. I think the intention with this scene is to remind us of that genetic sense of order Odo inherited from his people. Loveable Odo here is just in a tizzy, but the Founders, they will fucking kill you if you introduce disorder into their domain. The problem is, well, Dax and Quark are being childish assholes, so unless you find the people who inflict their personalities on others charming, this doesn't quite work.

Speaking of the Founders and fucking killing people, that communiqué indicates that 23 people were just 9/11ed on Earth. Yikes. Worf reports to the senior staff that the evidence shows a Changeling detonated a bomb at some sort of conference between the Federation and Romulus.

Act 1 : ***, 17%

Odo forces Dax to set his room back in order, giving the pair the opportunity to engage in more exposition. He and Sisko have been called to return to Earth to try and offer some more counsel about the Changelings. They'll be travelling there aboard the Lakota. What, no pan flute music? Meanwhile, Sisko is informing Admiral Cartwright, I mean his dad who's totally alive and everything, that he and Jake are looking forward to cooking with the old man at his restaurant in New Orleans. Sisko asks after his health, prompting your typical crochety old person reaction. He recently had his aorta replaced. A little bit of DBI with Sisko and his own son...somebody stab me please.

Bashir and O'Brien emerge from the holosuite, Miles putting on a lower-class English accent and the two sporting bomber jackets. Obviously, they've been playing Red Dead Redemption. The pair don't quite have the spirit for another game as they're worried about the fate of their homeworld. Quark likens their grief to his own after some financial disaster on Ferenginar. Naturally, this reads like some nightmarish Wallstreet Journal OpEd.

We are treated to one more unessential scene in which Kira laments the idea that the wormhole's odd activity doesn't seem to have been a sign from the Prophets. Isn't religion great? I mean, if the Prophets *were* trying to send a message, then this would all be a giant diatribe on how belief is good (c.f. “Destiny”), but because that's not the plot this week, whatever, no call for scepticism. Instead we get Worf repeating the lore from “Firstborn” about how in Klingon mythology, the ancient warriors slew their gods. And of course, such an act of rebellion ensured their people a millennium of conservative imperial monarchy. You're welcome. Also, the Klingon gods were alive and walking around in the 1300s AD? You know there's this thing called archaeology. Whatever, I suppose all ostensibly noble species should be as credulous as the Bajorans.

Finally, we find ourselves in San Francisco, where Sisko and Odo are greeted by one Admiral Leighton and one of his former XOs (Sisko was another). Leighton is optimistic that their presence will reward them with more successful countermeasures against the Founders. So confident is he that Sisko is immediately re-assigned to acting head of Earth security. This seems...dubious. Shouldn't someone in charge of security for a planet have experience other than building warships and commanding religious zealots? Maybe a gold shirt? Eddington?

Act 2 : **.5, 17%

We pick up at Sisko's Restaurant where Ben and Jake make their entrance. The shit-shooting is mercifully brief as the conversation turns towards the mood of the population. Odo has chosen not to interact with the public at large because, given his experience with the kind of small-minded bigots who frequent DS9, he expects humans to regard him with suspicion. Papa Sisko agrees because Ira Behr is an asshole.

Alright, let's address this head-on. In “The Best of Both Worlds,” a devastating attack on the Federation gave us a complex and riveting story of human crisis. In the end, humanity won a pyrrhic victory over the Borg, managing to end the invasion, but losing most of the Starfleet, hundreds of thousands of lives, and costing men like Picard and Sisko parts of their souls. When the Enterprise encountered a Borg drone again in “I Borg,” the two who treat Hugh with the most prejudice are Picard and Guinan, both having suffered quite directly under Borg tyranny.

I'm not going to beat around the George W Bush about this; yes, part of what allowed the US to further the evisceration of civic liberty during the aftermaths of 9/11 was the public mood, which was decidedly, scared shitless. But that mood wasn't just a natural fear in the face of scary shit, which obviously the attack was, but also the way in which the political and media infrastructure which grew up during the Cold War allowed the public to be manipulated into that frame of mind. Every screen was emblazoned with the phrase 'WAR ON TERROR,' every dipshit splitscreen “analysis” was (and is) populated by a host of weapons merchants and military generals while the anti-war left had/has essentially no mainstream media presence. Rampant nationalism was celebrated as a “non-partisan” issue, which made it feel like something which transcended philosophy or ethics. In the post-Reagan, post-Clinton Neoliberal wasteland of American society that was (is?) the early 2000s, this is hardly surprising. But the Federation is not that place. Numerous references are going to be made to the Earth being a “paradise,” but how exactly is that label being justified? Surely a paradise is not a place in which people are easily duped by corrupt military industrial complexes! I'm going to get further into this topic but suffice it to say for now that this two-parter suffers the same fundamental problem as the last one, “Past Tense,” in that it fails to address the *systemic* issues which drive the kind of social problems being tackled, attributing everything to regrettable human foibles instead of systems purposefully designed to manipulate the human condition.

Speaking of human foibles, it seems that Pa Sisko has lost weight since his surgery and isn't eating with his son and grandson. Jake is concerned over the obvious, but something like suspicion flashes across Ben's face. He tries to brush it aside by commenting on the gumbo, but we are left feeling very disquieted. Clearing the air is Nog, who shows up for his “usual” dinner of live tube grubs. Nog reports that he's “doing okay” with his studies. Sure.

After dinner, the boys continue their chat. Nog is a bit disillusioned by his treatment by the upper classmen. Apparently, they've stuck to the “Tapestry”/”First Duty” model of depicting cadets as, well what's the theme of this episode? oh yeah ASSHOLES. There's some sort of elite group that is especially dismissive of Nog called “Red Squad.” I find this whole notion completely preposterous, but please remember that Red Squad was created well before the Changeling attack. There's already going to be a lot to talk about this episode, so I'll save my disappointment in turning Wesley from Mozart into the roguish ace pilot with a spiritual side for another day.

Sisko and Leighton meet with the president the next morning.

LEIGHTON: Captain Sisko has several suggestions on how to combat Dominion infiltration. I think you'll find them very interesting.
JARESH-INYO: Hmm. I understand the need for increased security, but blood screenings? Phaser sweeps?
SISKO: They've proven very effective on Deep Space Nine.

Huh? Since when? The last time we saw phaser sweeps (“Way of the Warrior”), everybody failed to figure out that Odo was hiding as a control panel. Before that, the only thing which prevented a war between The Federation and the Hummus people was Odo's willingness to violate his people's sacred law and murder the saboteur. Oh, and SPOILER, but Changeling-Martok bypassed the blood test right in front of Sisko. Even without that knowledge, I think Sisko's being presumptuous here. Here again, we see how the writing fails to address the underlying issues of terrorism and civil liberties:

JARESH-INYO: Precautions may be advisable, but I will not disrupt the lives of the population. Despite what happened at Antwerp, I believe the changeling threat to be somewhat less serious than Starfleet does.

Wait a minute, wait a minute. These two sentences have almost nothing to do with each other. Being unwilling to disrupt people's lives is a value judgement, a statement of principle, whereas President Jared's incredulity is a tactical judgement. The two are not interchangeable! But just like with the Prophet stuff, the writers pull a fast one and swap out one idea for another (à la the Prophets are non-linear so their prophecies grant them divine status). So, what began as a statement of values “I am unwilling to blah blah blah” instead becomes a conversation about just how serious the Changeling threat is, which is IRRELEVANT to the topic at hand. But anyway, Jared is obviously not aware that shapeshifters can, you know, shapeshift, as he's caught off guard by Odo who appears, having been disguised as a briefcase. Let me be clear; Sisko's demonstration *is* effective in proving how dangerous the Founders are (in case the bomb in Antwerp wasn't enough), but this argument has NOTHING TO DO with Jared's, and by proxy, Star Trek's attitudes regarding civil liberties. Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, how is it that the president is able to unilaterally approve of Sisko's security upgrades? Starfleet should be able to increase security around its own installations (AND SHOULD HAVE ALREADY DONE SO) without approval from the civilian government anyway. The only spillage comes from that “and their families” tag that Sisko throws in surreptitiously. How exactly is that supposed to help? Someone like Quark has a lot more access to Captain Sisko than his father does. This is some serious plot-lubricating.

Act 3 : **.5, 17%

Sisko and Commander Bactine or whatever her name is test the phaser sweepers on Odo. This is a lot more effective in its subtlety. Like in “The Adversary,” Odo is willing do endure, to suffer in order to explicitly undermine his own people and assist the Federation. Sisko is put through his own ordeal as he's treated to more of Nog's bitching about his lousy Academy experience. He thinks that if Sisko helps him join Red Squad, it will improve his standing amongst his peers. The good news is that Sisko has never heard of Red Squad and finds it dubious that such an “elite group” would even exist at the Academy. Good. Thank you, Ira. Was that so hard?

We return to New Orleans (and we know it's New Orleans because there is a horse-drawn carriage on the street, QED). This leads to a somewhat tedious conversation between Ben and Pa regarding who visits whom, blah blah blah. You know, the usual DBI. What's important here is that it turns out Pa hasn't been to see his doctor, endangering his health.

JOSEPH: Ben, at my age, staying healthy is a full time job, and I am too old to work two jobs.

The attempt in the script here is to draw a parallel between Pa's behaviour in response to his health and the Federation's in response to the Changeling threat. I'm reminded of a wonderful line from Rick and Morty: “I have no doubt that you would be bored senseless by therapy, the same way I'm bored when I brush my teeth and wipe my ass. Because the thing about repairing, maintaining, and cleaning is, it's not an adventure. There's no way to do it so wrong you might die. It's just work. And the bottom line is, some people are okay going to work, and some people... Well some people would rather die. Each of us gets to choose.” Ignoring one's health completely is impractical, but there comes a point at which the maintenance of a life *becomes* that life. It's too much. Is that the paradise Sisko is trying to save?

The problem once again is that the story is not bothering to delve into the systemic causes of terrorism. I'll save the real-world parallels for the next episode, but even in-Universe, Sisko is focused entirely upon the effects of terrorism and how to prevent it. That's why it seems that no one is considering closing the damned wormhole. After all, we have tullaberries to trade and Bajoran colonies to erect in vain. In other words, the powers that be have economic incentives to keep the passage to the GQ wide open and those concerns override the danger posed by the Founders. So, fuck it. Let's deprive our own citizens of their civic liberties to keep them “safe” so that we don't have to be bothered to rethink our economy. Is that paradise?

Anyway, Odo is passing the time imitating a seagull at Starfleet HQ. Bactine and Leighton say hello. Leighton is weirdly hostile, pointing out that the other Changelings can imitate human beings and are probably doing so at this very moment. You don't say? Well, master investigator Odo picks up on this extremely obvious behaviour and exposes this Leighton as another Founder, who promptly flies off. Glad to know that in all their security preparations, no one thought of erecting a fucking force field around HQ. No, better just to steal people's blood. Later, the real Leighton, Odo, Bactine and Sisko discuss the implications of this reveal. Sisko is tasked with another clumsy bit of LOOK CONTINUITY dialogue to remind us that Odo killed that ambassador Changeling in “The Adversary.” Well, the real Leighton concludes that this hippy-dippy president isn't going to acknowledge the fact that we are at war, god damn it. Once again, the script is just dripping with self-satisfaction and eye-roll-inducing dialogue:

LEIGHTON: We have a war on our hands. He doesn't seem to understand that. All he cares about is not upsetting people. But humans are tougher than he thinks. We've created a paradise here and we're willing to fight to protect it.

Jesus. He even gets a little racist, suggesting that Jared can't really understand what's at stake because he isn't a human, thus giving credence to Quark's remark from earlier “HumOns. All you care about is yourselves.” So, he's clearly a bad-miral, but Sisko is too dense to realise it yet. Before things can continue, Jake calls to inform Ben that Pa has been arrested.

Act 4 : ****, 17%

Well, it turns out Jake was exaggerating. A lot. There is a very young and nervous security officer holding Joseph at bay in his own kitchen with...a hypospray. He tries to explain about the blood tests being required from family (thank you, plot-lube) and Pa Sisko is incensed that his son would condone such a policy. You and me both, buddy.

SISKO: This isn't about you. We've got civilian families living on starships and Starfleet installations all over the Federation. The only way we can secure those facilities is to test everyone there, whether they wear a uniform or not.
JOSEPH: I'm not living on a Starfleet installation.
SISKO: Dad, if we're going to test the family members of one Starfleet officer, we must to test them all.

Um. Why? Ignoring the ethics for the moment, why couldn't the policy be to test people who live and work on Starfleet installations instead of everyone who happens to share blood factors with officers? Are they making Molly O'Brien take blood tests, but none of the Ferengi working in Quark's bar?

I actually really like the way this scene is set up—Ben and Joseph have a very believable dynamic that lets us deal with father-son issues without involving Cirroc Lofton too much (thank you). I especially like Sisko ordering the security officers to sit down and order some lunch, trying to show respect for his father's domain while not backing down from the argument. In the midst of their fight, Pa Sisko accidentally cuts his hand with his chef's knife. Sisko's eye lingers on the blood stain, apparently waiting for it to revert to Changeling goo. Well, this sets Joseph off.

JOSEPH: Don't you see? There isn't a test that's been created a smart man can't find his way around. You aren't going to catch shape-shifters using some gadget.

Despite some over-acting on the part of Avery Brooks, this scene is quite effective, building very quickly to an emotional climax that actually causes poor Pa Sisko to suffer a stroke.

He's going to be okay, we learn in the following scene in Sisko's new office. Sisko wrestles with fact that he couldn't trust his own father not to be an enemy spy. Odo says that this is why his people are doing what they're doing, in order to undermine Federation principles. Uhuh...when did Odo become a Federation cheerleader? What ever happened to the Odo who was ready to quit his job because Starfleet didn't trust *him* to do things the right way?

Later that night, the entire planet suffers a power loss, suggesting a serious breach in security and Dominion sabotage.

Act 5 : ***.5, 17%

Leighton and Sisko utilise the Lakota's systems to beam to President Jared's office and propose a radical solution: they want to institute martial law. Leighton is so excited by the prospect of mobilising the Starfleet into a personal defence force, he just about pops a boner the size of the Eiffel Tower looming in the background.

SISKO: Sir, the thought of filling the streets with armed troops is as disturbing to me as it is to you, but not as disturbing as the thought of a Jem'Hadar army landing on Earth without opposition. The Jem'Hadar are the most brutal and efficient soldiers I've ever encountered. They don't care about the conventions of war or protecting civilians. They will not limit themselves to military targets. They'll be waging the kind of war that Earth hasn't seen since the founding of the Federation.

Sisko and co.'s argument is essentially: we must not succumb to fear, so let us do whatever we want or our worst fears will be realised! Someone get this guy a job on CNN. Well, Jared decides to hand the planet over to Leighton, the consequences seen by Jake and Joseph as Starfleet officers start materialising outside the restaurant.

Episode as Functionary : ***, 10%

The last line of Jammer's review for this episode states: “President Jaresh-Inyo is reluctant to do this—he doesn't want to be remembered as the president who put arms on every street of Planet Paradise—but he ultimately agrees. There is no other option. If the Dominion attack without encountering some sort of resistance, Paradise will be more than lost—it will be destroyed.” I don't know why I have to ask this question, but what is the difference between something being lost and being destroyed? If it is lost it can be found again, I suppose. But if it is destroyed, it can be rebuilt.

Paradise Lost, the poem, is essentially a critique of idolatry. Man manifests his corruption akin to Adam by building temples and creating symbols which mask the essence of God. He is banished from the Garden because he loses his essential connection to the divine, that which makes “paradise” possible. His abstractions (knowledge) destroy his ability to comprehend the perfect. So “Paradise” is defined by its lack of abstraction. Things exist in their essential forms. We see no shadows, but Platonic reality. How does this translate to Roddenberry's Earth? Well, if Earth is a paradise, it's because humanity has evolved to the point where it no longer disguises its negative qualities behind convenient euphemisms. Like the Vulcans from whom they have learnt so much, humans live their lives according to philosophical principles. Things are as they are, not as so-called pragmatism might dictate. And thanks to advances in technology, an absence of scarcity enables mankind to live peacefully and prosperously without any economic competition whatsoever.

But we have to remember that this episode was penned by the same writers that gave us “Paradise” in S2. Their notion is that societies built in such a fashion are fabrications. Alixus had high-minded (and erroneous) ideals, but had to lie and manipulate her followers into adopting her methods. It's no secret that the Federation as described in TNG is viewed not so dissimilarly by these creators.

So the idea here is that extenuating circumstances will force people to abandon their principles. And that's not necessarily incorrect, but it doesn't PROVE anything other than that the circumstances are, well, extenuating. The situation is extreme and so is the fallout. If we don't want people to abandon their ideals, we should make efforts to prevent such conditions. This brings us back to my essential critique of this episode which I repeat: no effort is made to understand or explore the root causes of terrorism, merely the effects.

As a story, I think the parallel threads between the mounting security threats and Joseph Sisko's health is quite effective and we make much better use of the setting than in, say, “Non Sequitur.” Despite the shoestring budget, there is a sense of scale that helps punch up the understated drama very well. Brock Peters is an especially welcome guest star, imbuing this character who has become off-screen important with humour, depth and pathos, finding just the right balance to make his preaching feel natural instead of soap-boxy. The other actors do fine, but I do find the President character to be just as much a gummified strawman as Augris in “Resistance.” The plot is chuck full of contrivances, but there's enough humanity that things don't get bogged down. An intriguing setup.

Final Score : 9/11 stars...I mean ***
Chrome
Tue, Dec 11, 2018, 4:11pm (UTC -6)
Wow, even before the review, this thread has an interesting history of Elliott's discussions. :-)

"This brings us back to my essential critique of this episode which I repeat: no effort is made to understand or explore the root causes of terrorism, merely the effects."

I wonder what you mean by this critique. The root cause of terrorism in this episode is the Changeling infiltrators. I think the episode, along with the sequel, goes pretty far in depth discussing the ability of Changelings to cause trouble on Earth. Are you perhaps saying that the episode doesn't explore what causes terrorism in the real world generally - I suppose the root cause of terrorism is some sort of perceived power imbalance by a fringe group that's became dangerously militant. But that real world cause of terrorism isn't really what's happening in this episode, as the terrorism here is mostly artificial. The Changelings aren't really trying to send a message about Federation values or anything, they're just trying to sow discontent so they'll be disorganized and easier to conquer.

P.S. - I think the badmiral's name is Leyton, I wasn't sure if your spelling was intentional or not.
Chrome
Tue, Dec 11, 2018, 5:51pm (UTC -6)
It's also kind of funny that so many comments here think that DS9's writers were "prescient" and predicted 9/11 or something. This episode was based on a 1960s film "Seven Days in May" which depicted a right-wing general using the Red Scare to attempt a coup on the presidency. So I think at the most we can say is that history repeats itself and often the same lessons need to be relearned.
Iceman
Tue, Dec 11, 2018, 6:29pm (UTC -6)
@Chrome-

Yeah you're not wrong about that. TNG did it 5 years before this episode! Bouts of hysteria (sadly) happen very often throughout history. The DS9 writers didn't have to possess a crystal ball to predict that paranoia would shake the U.S. once again relatively soon. Still, the timing still makes DS9 a lot more interesting. And I think we can say that by addressing broader topics such as this one, DS9 ensured that it appeared somewhat timeless as opposed to the other Treks, which very clearly appear to me as shows of their time. I think that's one of the things that makes DS9 great. It's obsessed with 90s, X-Files-esque paranoia in "Whispers", mid-twentieth century pop culture in "Little Green Men", "Far Beyond the Stars", and "His Way", and broader issues that would soon become extremely relevant once again in this episode and "The Way of the Warrior".
Iceman
Tue, Dec 11, 2018, 6:46pm (UTC -6)
Oh, and Elliott, I'm also going to echo Chrome's point about terrorism. Your critique is that the episode doesn't properly explore the motivations behind terrorism. My response is that this episode simply isn't interested in that. The writers consciously chose to write a story about how fear drives people to give up liberty in the name of security. The terrorist act the changeling commits is the catalyst for the exploration of those themes, which I thought this episode did an exemplary job exploring. You can't fault the episode (well, you can and did, but you shouldn't have) criticized something for not being what you want it to-you have to judge it on its own merits, which I don't think that you did here. This is why so many of your critiques of DS9 fall flat to me, despite your eloquence and high word count.
Chrome
Tue, Dec 11, 2018, 7:05pm (UTC -6)
@Iceman

Are you referring to "Conspiracy"? Lol. Well, I suppose it's in the same vein of conspiracies and fear resulting in a coup on government. But that TNG episode is really more of an action thriller foregoing a thoughtful discussion on terrorism in exchange for some chilling and high-octane scenes of alien infiltration and resistance (it wasn't futile in that case).

Back to DS9, I see what you mean about the timing and I'll give credit to the writers for picking up on a repeating historical trend and depicting it very well (this one's four stars for me, incidentally, because it does a great job of showing both why national security is necessary *and* how sometimes it goes too far - in the second part).
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Dec 11, 2018, 7:21pm (UTC -6)
"It's also kind of funny that so many comments here think that DS9's writers were 'prescient' and predicted 9/11 or something."

Interesting curio:

When Worf first plays the footage of the explosion, he says "begin replay at time index five *nine eleven* ".

Obviously it's just a coincidence, but it's still kinda spooky.

And while DS9 didn't really "predict" anything, I still think it took big balls to write a story like this in the social climate of the 1990's. People where optimistic to the point of delusion in those days. This episode and the one about the Sanctuary Districts ("Past Tense") are two major examples of DS9 being a timeless piece of science fiction rather than a product of the '90s. It's just frightening, how these episodes aged so well.
Elliott
Tue, Dec 11, 2018, 7:45pm (UTC -6)
@Iceman & Chrome

Thanks for the comments. I am going to elaborate more on what I mean in PL--maybe I should have waited 'til I finished and posted them together. These reviews take time! But to be clear, it's not that I'm upset that this episode isn't what I want it to be about, it's that it cheats to make its point. Terrorism doesn't happen in a vacuum. It is a byproduct of complex socioeconomic issues. And although this story (obviously) isn't allegorising 9/11, it *is* allegorising terrorism in general. So, just like in "Past Tense," the writers arrive at a kind of half-hearted analysis of a potent issue.

To be clear, I think PL cleans this up a bit, in exposing the perceived invasion as an internal conspiracy, but I'm following Jammer's format and reviewing the episodes separately. With the information present in this story alone, I find the premise contrived. This goes back to the discussion from years ago on this thread; we are meant to believe that humans would accept the idea that the Dominion (choose any number of terrorist organisations for allegory) just "hate their freedom." They should be asking "why is this happening?" The West has a lot of culpability in creating the socioeconomic conditions that breed terrorism against itself and I think the writers had a responsibility to contend with that in their writing.

PS. I think Iceman was referring to "The Drumhead."
Chrome
Tue, Dec 11, 2018, 7:45pm (UTC -6)
“And while DS9 didn't really "predict" anything, I still think it took big balls to write a story like this in the social climate of the 1990's. People where optimistic to the point of delusion in those days.“

Well yes, and no. Like I mentioned, this episode was based on a 1960s film that was literally politically controversial for its time. Generals under Kennedy then were against the film being made, but Kennedy not only liked the idea of the film, but offered to allow shots to be filmed at the White House. So yeah, the DS9 writers borrowed from audience-accepted controversies and added their own spin.
Iceman
Tue, Dec 11, 2018, 8:03pm (UTC -6)
@Chrome-I was referring to "The Drumhead". It's not the same thing exactly, but it's pretty similar in terms of subject matter, I think.

@Omicron-

Agreed. Another example is the way Jimmy dies in "Far Beyond the Stars".
Iceman
Tue, Dec 11, 2018, 8:17pm (UTC -6)
@Elliott-

"The West has a lot of culpability in creating the socioeconomic conditions that breed terrorism against itself and I think the writers had a responsibility to contend with that in their writing. "

This is a highly contentious point that I'm not going to comment on. Just the wrong place for it. But I will say that there are plenty of terrorists that have nothing to do with Western foreign policy. So I don't think they need to portray how the Federation is responsible for the Dominion's terrorist attack, necessarily. But for the record, they do portray how the Federation doesn't really respect the Dominion's request to stay out of the Gamma Quadrant. So you could say it's a response to the expansionism of the Federation. But I'm not going to say that, because the truth is the Founders' terrorist attack was fueled by their paranoid fascism and need (or desire I suppose) to impose 'order' on the galaxy. Plus they take the old Roman adage of 'offense is the best defense' to a nightmarish extreme. And unlike the Romulans and Cardassians, who probably wouldn't hesitate to destabilize the Federation, they actually have the ability. So I don't think they need to ask 'why is this happening?', and I don't think it cheats. I think it's possible to build stories about the effects, not the causes. Focusing on the motivations behind terrorism might make for an interesting DS9 episode ("For the Cause", hello there!), but it's not the one the writers were aiming for with this episode imo.
Iceman
Tue, Dec 11, 2018, 8:31pm (UTC -6)
Also, Elliott, DS9 is NOT the most right wing Trek. Not by a long shot. It's the only Trek to embrace multiculturalism. It relentlessly stresses that war is a tragedy for all involved. It may be skeptical that a large scale institution like the Federation could keep its hands clean, but individuals like Julian Bashir most certainly can. That's not incompatible with leftism, unless you're an authoritarian leftist. The most right wing Star Trek show would be Voyager, a show dedicated to moving backwards, and terrified of changing the status quo. The Original Series wasn't that left-wing either. It was more influenced by Kennedy-era liberalism. Early TNG was quite left-wing on the surface, but it was widely derided because the Federation's morally superior world was built on technology we don't have yet. It didn't make a coherent leftist argument for how our society could change for the better today-it was basically just pointing and laughing without much of a purpose.
Elliott
Tue, Dec 11, 2018, 8:36pm (UTC -6)
@Iceman

"This is a highly contentious point that I'm not going to comment on. Just the wrong place for it. But I will say that there are plenty of terrorists that have nothing to do with Western foreign policy. So I don't think they need to portray how the Federation is responsible for the Dominion's terrorist attack, necessarily."

The writers have been very good about trying to be honest and accurate in their depiction of the Cardassians as analogues for nazis. They create a nuanced picture of a society that faces economic troubles coupled with racism, arrogance and a penchant for wanton cruelty. Not every Cardassian episode is "about" every one of these traits, but they inform each (good) story nonetheless. I am not saying that the writers need to show that the Federation is responsible for the Dominion attacks--I don't believe they are. I still think they should have closed the damned wormhole already, but that's another matter. What I'm saying is that the kind of events which in the real world would trigger terrorism *of the type* that could cause such massive social upheaval, in the vein of 9/11, only occur as a result of the post-imperialist mess that the Cold War wrought upon the world. I think school shootings qualify as terrorism, generally, but such events don't seem to trigger people into handing over their liberties, while attacks from foreign bodies which seem to represent *existential* threats often do.

The eventual direction this story takes in PL reveals that this stuff does hold together in the end. And as Chrome points out, the inspiration for this story is based events which have little to do with actual terrorism. But if the Changelings *had* caused the power outage and *had* upped their attacks, seeing Earth submit to martial law so easily would reveal that the Federation's principles don't amount to much in the face of fear. And that image is the lynchpin of the cliffhanger.
Elliott
Tue, Dec 11, 2018, 8:38pm (UTC -6)
@Iceman:

The only thing I'll agree with in that last post is that DS9 isn't the most right wing Trek, it's the second most right wing. Enterprise is the worst.
Iceman
Tue, Dec 11, 2018, 10:46pm (UTC -6)
@Eliiott

Seems like we can all agree on that one.
Iceman
Tue, Dec 11, 2018, 10:53pm (UTC -6)
@Elliott-

"What I'm saying is that the kind of events which in the real world would trigger terrorism *of the type* that could cause such massive social upheaval, in the vein of 9/11, only occur as a result of the post-imperialist mess that the Cold War wrought upon the world."

Gotcha. Thanks for clarifying. I still don't agree that they should have focused on it, and I think the changelings do qualify as an existential threat that people would be scared enough to hand over civil liberties for, but I understand your perspective better now.


"But if the Changelings *had* caused the power outage and *had* upped their attacks, seeing Earth submit to martial law so easily would reveal that the Federation's principles don't amount to much in the face of fear."

This is just basic human nature though. Fear can drain all logic and rational thinking from a society. I have no problem with DS9 portraying human nature like this. I guess that's where we differ.
DLPB
Thu, Dec 13, 2018, 8:44am (UTC -6)
None of the Treks are right wing. Theya re all leftist and written by leftist people. I think what Elliott means is that there are a few stories or situations that are actually realistic - or deviate from Bernie Sanders' bum.
DLPB
Thu, Dec 13, 2018, 8:46am (UTC -6)
Also, always makes me laugh that the left harp on about tolerance and love... until someone or something disagrees with their world view. Liberalism isn't in you. You aren't true liberals at all - just nasty, intolerant, "progressive" bigots.
Gary
Fri, Dec 28, 2018, 10:24pm (UTC -6)
I'm reading these comments about the future and all I can say is people's prospect for the future is both naive and undesirable. Star Trek is a fun fantasy, but it's utopianism leaves nuch to be desired.

People need reward, incentives, and self-improvement. Dismissing these foundations of captialism as mere human greed is just ignorance.

Joe Sisko owns capital. Just because his restaurant doesn't have cash flow doesn't change that. His work, his real-estate, and his time have real value because they are scarce in a way no replicator can remedy. Just because he can't liquidate it doesn't mean he's no capitalist.

Access to scarce resources motivate rational people, and that's the basis for modern society; but even idealized people motivated by altruism won't be reliable in a utopian system because of burnout, changes in work environment, and shifting personal interests.

I say all this to say, maybe one day people will not require incentives to act, but that change would be detrimental to life as we know it because nothing motivates a person more than the threat of starvation.
A world where professionalism is driven the whims of a spoiled population and not necessity guarantees a society of dilettantes and hobbyists at the most optimistic outlook and chronically bored troublemakers and lay abouts at the most pessimistic outlook.

Wanting to do something out of the goodness of your heart and passion doesn't change the fact that good intentions grow dull, and passions fade. And judging that Starfleet endlessly seeks novelty in space, that aspect of humanity has not been evolved.
Peter G.
Sat, Dec 29, 2018, 11:44am (UTC -6)
@ Gary,

"People need reward, incentives, and self-improvement. Dismissing these foundations of captialism as mere human greed is just ignorance."

Have you watched all of TOS and TNG, prior to DS9? I ask because this point is amply answered between those two shows. Trek's "utopianism" as you call it freely acknowledges that humans need challenges, and definitively states that there are better ways to satisfy this need than by collecting things and fighting over land. It is literally the thesis of the entire franchise that we will learn better ways to live in the future, where we can be both challenges and harmonious with each other. Naturally you can reject that premise, but I would suggest that if you do you're rejecting Trek's ethos wholesale. If there is nothing beyond competing for resources and trying to put others out of business (an unsavory occupation if ever there was one) then the prospects for the future are bleak indeed. Let's hope for better.
Gary V.
Sun, Dec 30, 2018, 4:54pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G.,

I've watched all of TNG, some of TOS, and all of DS9. I'm rewatching DS9 at the moment.

Anyway, I get the premise, and even enjoy it for worldbuilding's sake, but I just don't buy the philosophy. I don't see the realism in a world where people's work ethic is based off of fickle and often irrational personal desires, rather than rational, environmentally driven behavior. And I certainly don't believe such a world would create good people, if we could manage it.

Firstly, I think characterizing owning capital as competing for resources and trying to put others out of business is unfair. Markets are the rational answer to scarcity, and the ability to negotiate for resources is a virtue that's one step below pure altruism in a system where scarcity is unavoidable. Greed, theft, and violence need not be features of a market.

From a pure economic standpoint, giving something away that isn't scarce is not altruistic because there is no meaningful transfer of value. Infinite supply renders the value of the object to 0. And this is a big reason why I don't buy the premise. The people we see in Star Trek would not exist in a post scarce world because they wouldn't be capable of transcending themselves in such an environment. Everything we value would be valueless: food, water. Suffering would become an academic curiosity and not something most people experience at one time or another. Most people in regular life would know what sacrifice is only in theory. Artist, entertainers, writers, certain service providers, and skilled-laborers will be elevated to god-like status because their work will be the only thing that is truly scarce.

People that are not any of these things will be alien, hedonistic, and completely helpless outside of their false habitat. If they do pursue a profession, they'd probably only do so for a little while before moving on to the next, resulting in the best professionals being imported from outside the post-scarce culture or needing to be indoctrinated from an early age to shield them from these characteristics. This will inevitably create stratification in society. In one culture, you have skilled people hardened by real life experience, and in the other you'd have useless people with no real value(Not even an economic one). If this is sustained, the former will diverge from the latter and will rightfully see themselves as superior.

And this isn't because of faulty human nature. These will be emergent traits derived from conservation of energy and diversification.

I just don't believe a world where everything is free and no real work needs to be done will create good people or an environment in which I wish to live. The only reason it works in Star Trek is because we project scarcity derived modern virtues into these alien environments, virtues that will be bred out quite quickly.
Peter G.
Sun, Dec 30, 2018, 5:28pm (UTC -6)
@ Gary V.,

Thanks for your detailed reply. Lots to work with there :)

I'll start with this, with I think is a great jumping-off point:

" I just don't buy the philosophy. I don't see the realism in a world where people's work ethic is based off of fickle and often irrational personal desires"

This is a great point to bring up: we might well ask this of Picard when he suggests that people seek their own perfection rather than material goals. What does he mean by this? Or rather, what do the writers think they mean by it? Before you call them fickle (suggesting they're easily changeable - do you have evidence for this?) and irrational (requiring a full account of what it is to call it this) do you have a clear sense of exactly what Picard means to be able to so cleanly call it these things? I must admit that I think they left it open what these values and perfections might actually be; the premise seems to be that we'll figure it out but we're not there yet. But if you find them irrational I'd be curious to hear what you actually think they are in the first place, and how you think they defy reason.

"rather than rational, environmentally driven behavior."

This gives me a clue as to your thinking: rational is to be defined as that which is necessitated by the environment. However wouldn't this definition be true of all animals? They, too, go about entirely environmentally driven behavior. We do it with more understanding, but fundamentally I wouldn't see much of a difference as you put it. But the question is: are humans capable of more than simply being clever animals? Is there no trait, goal, or virtue we can have or develop that puts us above the animals?

"Firstly, I think characterizing owning capital as competing for resources and trying to put others out of business is unfair."

The entire 'efficiency' of capitalism is literally competing to own a share of the market. It's rational, sure, in the sense that it functions such as it is. But without trying to edge others out of the market there would be no bankruptcy, and therefore no efficiency. The system literally stands or falls based on the idea of better producers edging out the worse ones; i.e., the constant attempt to outdo others and cease the less efficient producers having a part in business. This is actually the stated credo of pro-capitalist and anti-socialist economists; specifically, that innovation and motivated behavior require (a) incentive, and (b) getting the inefficient players off the field.

" and the ability to negotiate for resources is a virtue that's one step below pure altruism in a system where scarcity is unavoidable."

Here's where I think the heart of the matter lies. Negotiation is by definition self-interested in capitalism. That self-interest *can* involve serving your interest through altruism, but somehow we manage to find that in 99.9% of cases it means finding ways to enrich oneself. But even more to the point: Trek literally states that there is no scarcity in the essentials on Earth. It doesn't mean there's infinite land, but it might well mean there's virtually unlimited dwelling places, food, transportation, and materials for clothes and so forth. This isn't an assumption but is actually the basis for the Federation as stated as early as TOS. You can reject this, but in so doing you must also reject warp drive, replicators, starships, and alien races; they are all sci-fi premises of the series.

"From a pure economic standpoint, giving something away that isn't scarce is not altruistic because there is no meaningful transfer of value."

Alruism isn't, and never has been, defined as *transferring* value. It means doing something *of value* for someone, and it needn't cost you anything. Although certainly altruism can come in the form of sacrifice, it can also come in the form of simply allowing someone else the dignity of being themselves, which costs you nothing. Altruism is an intent, not a transaction. And good things never cease to have value, even if they eventually lose a *dollar value*. Food is important, no matter how unlimited in supply. Giving food to someone who needs it, even if it means you lose nothing by it, is *still* a good action. Being kind, even when it costs you nothing, is still decent. Viewing altruism as a transaction is one of the strange notions of our time that at any rate has no basis in history. Perhaps you could make a case for it: but if you did it would be a novel case to make, as there is no such definition 'on the books', as it were.

"I just don't believe a world where everything is free and no real work needs to be done will create good people or an environment in which I wish to live."

This is a hotly debated point and I agree that this topic is of huge importance. Will luxury and infinite supply cause humanity to devolve into lazy pigs? Or will it give us the opportunity to evolve into something better? This is the million dollar question, and power to you for putting time into thinking about it. The important thing to consider is *how* society will really work, because the devil is in the details. It's too easy to just say "well, we'll have nothing to do so we'll watch TV all day and be useless"; that might be true, out of context, and without knowing the progress society makes in the time in-between. What if civic virtue becomes such a powerful currency (a word that should resonate) that people will be highly motivated to work for it? What if honor becomes as precious as gold is now? What if the ways in which altruism can be *non-transactional* are so appealing that they become a desired goal for their own sake? Things to ponder. I don't have all the answers, and I would suggest that there's a danger into thinking we possibly could at this time. That's the good thing about TNG's keeping it vague: not to speak too soon and narrow down what is a very unknown territory in our future.





methane
Sun, Dec 30, 2018, 10:42pm (UTC -6)
Outside of the occasional speeches that Rodenberry wanted to include, I don't think it's particularly evident that the Star Trek world is truly socialist. There's gambling (and in TOS, at least, it seemed to be real wages they were wagering), ownership of works of art (even if it's often one character giving another character character something they created), ownership of antiques (such as Kirk's reading glasses in TWOK), ownership of contrabrand (Romulan ale...while you could argue that's shouldn't count since it's illegal anyway, they probably traded something for it...which means they either stole from the Federation or gave their own private property in a financial transaction). There's also land that seems to be inherited in the Picard family.

Now, it doesn't seem to be an economy driven by consumerism (the idea you have to have lots & lots of "stuff"), but consumerism is not identical to capitalism (and many socialists are consumerists, promising they'll get their people more stuff). In a post-scarcity world, where you can replicate anything and then return it to nothingness when you're bored with it, it's hard to think of consumerism being a strong force. Sure, some people might want to collect a bunch of historical artifacts or works of art, but many people would be happy with replicas (for stuff that's not currently under their version of copywrite). The lack of consumerism is not evidence for a lack of capitalism.

"But without trying to edge others out of the market there would be no bankruptcy, and therefore no efficiency. The system literally stands or falls based on the idea of better producers edging out the worse ones; i.e., the constant attempt to outdo others and cease the less efficient producers having a part in business. "

Well, going out of business doesn't have to mean bankruptcy (and in most cases probably doesn't, although I'm not going to try and find a statistic for that). If your business starts to consistently make less than it's components could make elsewhere, it's generally better to sell it off (unless the owner gets more benefits that aren't strictly measured in the bottom line). But then the owner & workers can go work for someone else, or start a new business doing something else. Capitalism doesn't throw people away, but it shifts them around much more than they do in socialist systems. Socialism is the system that keeps large numbers of people unemployed.
Gary V.
Tue, Jan 1, 2019, 11:58am (UTC -6)
"This is a great point to bring up: we might well ask this of Picard when he suggests that people seek their own perfection rather than material goals. What does he mean by..."

My evidence is in the way people behave now. In the past, people either stuck with their trade or died. Today, motivation, procrastination, wavering commitment, are all big sticking points in self improvement programs, and we are more wealthy now than we have ever been. If general wealth (and the federation has relative infinite wealth) can be detrimental to focus at the present, why should that magical change in the future?

"...goal, or virtue we can have or develop that puts us above the animals?"

I agree we have and can develop beyond the traits of animals, but I don't think this is always a good thing. Building an empire based on an ideal is something only we humans can do. That doesn't mean we should. In addition to that, animal part of our brain is often what keeps us grounded, keeps us from flying off the handle, believe it or not. Empathy is a kind of instinct, after all.

"The entire 'efficiency' of capitalism is literally competing to own a share of the market..."

Maybe that's part of capitalism, but the other part is fairness. Trading something of value for another thing of value is miles better than theft and more sustainable than just giving things away all the time. Competing over market share is as simple as allowing people to choose between you and a competitor because no one is entitled to anyone else's personal value. The only way to eliminate this is to eliminate agency of the engaged parties. Without this tyranny, most rational people try to create greater value and/or less cost. This is the nature of what you call competition.

"Here's where I think the heart of the matter lies. Negotiation is by definition self-interested..."

What's wrong with self-interest? The power of self-interest is two fold: It's far more reliable than your mood when it comes to innovation, but even more importantly, you can't truly be selfless without it. If Self-interest was bred out of people, doing "selfless" acts would have no weight. And I get the point that no scarcity exists in ST. That's kind of my issue with it. I can't believe people who never experience scarcity will be able to appreciate a kind act the way we do. Why? How often do you give clean water to people in your neighborhood as an act of kindness? I doubt you do because I imagine if you did, people would look at you like you were crazy. If everything you can possibly give away is worthless, then what worth is giving anything away?

"Altruism isn't, and never has been, defined as *transferring* value..."

I'm afraid my point was lost here but before I address it, I must disagree about your definition of altruism. Altruism is very much transfer of value. When you give something away, you are transferring something to someone else at no cost to them, just like when you steal, you're transferring something to yourself at no cost to you. Sure, altruism is also in intent, but the main point of altruism is that the altruistic person provides value to other persons without consideration of his own expense. Otherwise, it'd just be charity. And there is where my point was lost. Everything has value, even concepts. We value altruism because it's scarce. ST is filled with altruism not because it naturally evolves from the premise but because we in the present value the trait and put those traits in our fantasies. But how valuable could such a trait be in that environment if the average person cannot appreciate its importance? Can we honestly appreciate water in the way a Bedouin can? You're right, helping people at no cost to you is "good," but how "good" could it be for a person who will probably go their entire life without ever encountering a person truly in need? Viewing altruism as a transaction is the only way you can appreciate why its so important.

"This is a hotly debated point and I agree that this topic is of huge importance. Will luxury and infinite supply cause humanity to devolve into lazy pigs..."

I believe that hardship gives us character, and people who need for nothing will have no need to develop character. I focused on altruism here, but I think it's true for most things. Having unlimited access to everything can and has (historically) created psychological deficits that will eventually become human nature as long as that environment endures. Interpersonal conflict, however, can lead us to self-reflection, the threat of pain can teach us compassion, limitations lead to innovation, and scarcity adds value to charity and hard work. We mustn't confuse wealth with the potential for virtue. But that's just my opinion on the subject.

Springy
Wed, Jan 2, 2019, 3:51pm (UTC -6)
Love Brock Peters in most anything, and he puts in a great performance here. Watching him, I feel he's who Brooks may have modeled himself after, only he hasn't quite nailed it.

Well done overall, in creating suspense for what happens next. I don't understand if Sisko had been reassigned or what, but I assume it's just for "the crisis."

I also didn't understand why a changeling would take the form of the Admiral without killing or at least kidnapping him.

The Nog stuff was interesting. Red Squad? Something is up, there.
Iceman
Wed, Jan 2, 2019, 5:16pm (UTC -6)
@Gary V.-

I think you'll enjoy "In the Cards".

I don't know if I've discussed the economics of Star Trek on here before, but it's certainly an interesting topic. No one really has a clue how it works (unless there's a manual to explain it, in which case I stand corrected), not even the DS9 writers. Hence why they poke fun at it. I think it's just one of those aspects where you have to suspend your disbelief.
Gary V.
Thu, Jan 3, 2019, 11:55am (UTC -6)
@Iceman

It's funny you bring up "In the Cards." That's the next episode of my DS9 binge at the time of this post. I was already looking forward to watching it before. Doubly so now.

Pure economic theory in sci-fi/fantasy is one of the most fascinating aspects of worldbuilding. Shame sometimes it gets ignored or tied up with personal politics in its conception. If done correctly, economics could provide a lot of natural motivation, conflict, detail, and cultural information. Just look what it does for Dune.

I guess that's why I dislike Ferengi episodes so much. You have here the foundations for an interesting species, the only one that's positioned to deal with commerce in a serious way, but they are there just to provide a weird amalgamation of slapstick and satire, serving only as strawmen.
Cody B
Thu, Jan 3, 2019, 11:55pm (UTC -6)
Few observations. Sisko’s middle name being Lafayette is a step too much with the “Louisiana man” schtick. We got it. He’s from Louisiana. Next they are going to have him in those Popeye’s commercials “mmmm honey try my new Cajun spicy wings!”, or playing a saxophone in a Zaterain’s commercial. Anyway, my other observation, and I can’t decide if I like it or not, is Sisko is getting pissy. Now this adds something to the character and helps with the “bad acting” talk but it makes him a touch less likeable. I suppose it’s because he is stressed and paranoid about the shape shifters but he is noticeably short and rude with underlings, his father and Nog. When they are taking blood Sisko is quite rude and dismissive of the Starfleet underlings. Nog was the worst though. He rolls his eyes when Nog comes into the restaurant, makes a face and stops eating whenNog orders those worms, and is very short and rude whenNog asks him if he can sponsor him. Nog is the first ferengi in starfleet and is struggling but trying very hard. He said his grades are good enough to be in the elite red squad, he just needs Sisko to sign a paper or make a call. Nog can’t go to his supportive but bumbling father who knows nothing of earth and starfleet. He has no one. He’s being very brave and trying hard on a strange planet and Sisko is just so ANNOYED to sign a paper. Come on captain.
Iceman
Sat, Jan 5, 2019, 3:26pm (UTC -6)
@Gary V.-

-Yes, economic theory can be interesting, but it was pretty much a mess in Star Trek by the time DS9 came around. There wasn't much to be done. I'm pretty sure Ron Moore said at some point the idea of a money-less society was ludicrous, hence why they added gold-pressed latinum to the Trek universe, and why they poked fun at it in "In the Cards".

-I believe the Ferengi were intentioned to be a serious critique, but they were such a failure it seemed like it was the other way around-almost as if they were invented by people who disagreed with Roddenberry in order to create an anti-capitalist straw-man. Ira Steven Behr was determined to make them workable, which is why they were brought back for DS9. He succeded to a degree in my opinion, but not without some catastrophic failures (If I never see "Profit and Lace" again, it'll be too soon).
Lee Jones
Sun, Jan 13, 2019, 8:26pm (UTC -6)
I never liked this two-part episode. I don't mind when the Trek franchise tries to be gritty. Personally, I think it needs to be more gritty than it usually does. The older I get, the more I dislike Roddenberry's idealized portrait of Earth and humanity. Calling Earth "paradise" is just a bit too much.

The problem with this two-parter is that it seemed like a weak-rip off of the Earth Civil War arc from "Babylon 5".

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