Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Homefront

"I was hoping that this would never happen. But it finally has. The changelings have reached Earth."

When terrorists attack a Federation meeting, and watchers identify a changeling on the site, Sisko is summoned to Earth to help the planet survive. He and his father and son, however, quickly become enmeshed in a web of intrigue.

Which do you like better, freedom or security?

The Federation and the Romulan Empire hold a joint diplomatic conference on Earth which is attacked. Twenty-seven people die. They know a changeling is responsible; someone caught the criminal shimmering away on video. But they're struggling to come up with a way to deal with this on Earth... because people in the future don't want anything to interfere with their hard-won freedoms and submit to blood checks and other types of screenings.

Sound familiar? So much of Deep Space Nine can be political metaphor. We live in a time where people prizing their freedoms too strongly can sometimes put others at risk... and sometimes save them. In this episode, the solution is to call in the expert – and one of the people who can best advise the Federation about Changelings is Benjamin Sisko, and another is a Changeling themselves – Constable Odo. Sisko's Dad is on Earth, and is a great cook. This works out nicely for everyone.

Jaresh-Inyo, the President of the United Federation of Planets, has no desire to be the President who destroys Paradise. He's slowly being convinced, though, that it's a necessary act to protect people from THE EVIL SHAPESHIFTERS. Sisko really comes through, emphasizing how bad it is, and manages to get the President to increase security at least on Federation and Starfleet institutions.

While Starfleet and the Federation are slowly burying personal freedoms under the weight of security, Sisko's father rebels, to the point of getting arrested. He doesn't want to have his blood tested, he doesn't want to have to prove his identity, and he rejects the notion that either of these things can provide security. All he sees is an increasingly more slippery slope. And the price of security is constantly needing more. Sisko's father comes up with ways shapeshifters could get around the "security proceedings." All it takes, he says, is intelligence.

But who's right? Sisko or his father? By the end of the episode terrorists – possibly shapeshifters – have blown up power stations around Earth, rendering the entire planet vulnerable to attack. So who is right, who is wrong, and how do we know? Every time Trek does a story about the Federation or about Starfleet, and the dissension that sometimes occurs in its ranks, I give a little grunt of satisfaction. It has always troubled me, you see, that the government in the show is like a political Mary Sue, never doing anything wrong. It has been my experience that when illusions like this are in place, that's exactly when things go wrong. It's more normal to see a government like what we saw in this episode, with actors each pulling in their own direction. Let's face it, though, after Terminator 2, it's tough to see changelings as anything but scary. I'm with Sisko: seeing shapeshifters everywhere.

Bits and Pieces

I absolutely love the eldest Sisko in this episode. Brock Peters is a true American actor and artifact; we're talking someone who was a backup singer for Harry Belafonte and had a role in To Kill a Mockingbird. He brings his acting chops to Trek in this role but also in Star Trek IV and VI as Fleet Admiral Cartwright. There's still something in me that goes googly by the very theatrical background of the many actors who appear on Deep Space Nine.

The episode opens with the wormhole opening and closing mysteriously seven times. If the Dominion have the power to control the wormhole like this... gulp.

Quotables

Benteen: Odo. That was really something. I've never seen you imitate a lifeform before.
Odo: Well, I was just taking a little aerial tour of San Francisco. It's quite nice. Not as ancient as the cities on Bajor but almost as impressive.
Benteen: It makes me wonder how many other changelings might be flying around up there.
Odo: If all they're doing is flying around imitating seagulls, we don't have much to worry about.
Leyton: I doubt that other changelings are wasting their time imitating birds. They don't all share Odo's lack of skill when it comes to mimicking humans.
Odo: That's right, they don't. I'm glad you're keeping that in mind.
Benteen: Well, if you ask me, that was a pretty convincing seagull.

Joseph: What's that look supposed to mean?
Jake: You sat down.
Joseph: You're damn right I sat down. I feel terrible.
Jake: You should be in bed.
Joseph: Jake, the only time you should be in bed is if you're sleeping, dying, or making love to a beautiful woman. I'm not tired, I'm not dying, and the truth is I'm too old for beautiful women, so I might as well be here.

Overall

This is a great set up that leaves you gasping. Five out of five tasty gumboes.

1 comment:

magritte said...

I love this episode and the following one. Going back and watching the whole series recently has made me really appreciate how ahead of its time it was. While TNG often feels stuck in the eighties, and TOS in the sixties, it actually amazes me that DS9 came out before 9/11 when it often feels so topical.