Star Trek Deep Space Nine: For the Cause

Eddington: "I do my job, Chief. Starfleet says to find the Maquis, I'll find the Maquis. They tell me to help them, I'll help them. My opinion is irrelevant. What matters to me is doing my job like a Starfleet officer. Anything else is an indulgence."

By nature I love brevity: A very good episode with a major impact on the series at large.

One of the things that Deep Space Nine is often praised for is its moral grayness. Especially when compared with the other Trek series, the characters in this show are far more flawed and far less black-and-white. Often considered among the grayest areas in the show is the Maquis. They represent a group of people who have been wronged by the Federation, and are going about solving that problem using violence because they see no other option. The fascinating thing about this issue is that every time it comes up the characters tend to go both ways over it.

Consider one of the scenes in this episode aboard the Defiant, in which Worf and O'Brien discuss the Maquis. Worf's Klingon perspective is that the Maquis are terrorists, and terrorism is dishonorable. O'Brien, as a family man, sees a group of people defending their homes. O'Brien's point that Major Kira, too, was a terrorist, puts it into sharp perspective for us. Why are we willing to condone Kira's actions against the oppressive rule of the Cardassians, but not the Maquis'? In fact, are we willing to condone Kira, or to condemn the Maquis? These are not easy issues, and there are not simple solutions or answers. Each person will have a different perspective, leading them to a different place.

But there's no better way to humanize a group than by making people we care about part of that group. That's the primary purpose of this episode, and it goes about it without pulling any punches. Not one, but two characters from the supporting/recurring cast are caught involved with the Maquis in this episode. It's interesting that the audience is expected to feel differently about these two characters, further diverging the two sides of the Maquis debate. This can be seen by Sisko's reaction, which is generally expected to shape that of the audience. Sisko continues to love and believe in Kasidy, despite her actions, but he reserves no such special consideration for Eddington. This is also what we're intended to see here.

So let's compare. The first and probably most important of the comparisons between Eddington and Kasidy is that Eddington is an active member, while Kasidy merely supplies them. Another important thing to note is that Kasidy only ever ran medical supplies, food, and replicators to the Maquis. Eddington's massive deception to steal replicators intended to provide relief to Cardassia is far more involved. One similarity that Kasidy and Eddington share is their belief in what they are doing. But while Eddington is ready to fight and die for the Maquis cause, Kasidy does what she does because she sees people who need help, and a way she can help them. Is what she does justified? Maybe not, but it cannot be denied that it was done out of a good heart. The last thing, and likely the thing that makes up Sisko's mind, is that Kasidy is a civilian and Eddington has sworn an oath to Starfleet. Eddington has stopped believing in the cause of Starfleet and has been convinced by the Maquis of their point of view. He now believes that Starfleet and the Federation are in the wrong, giving perhaps one of the most scathing assessments of the Fed ever seen on Trek, and so he feels no compunction at rejecting his uniform and his duty to join the Maquis.

This is the difference between Eddington and O'Brien, who also seems sympathetic to the Maquis cause. O'Brien would never betray his oath and duty, no matter what. If he could no longer support the Federation, he would resign his commission and leave quietly, because he's a man of honor and duty. Eddington can't do that. He believes so strongly in the cause that he has to do something big and go out with a bang in order to show it.

There's a B-story here, which barely even warrants a mention because it is currently so insignificant. I really wish they could've fit this one into a different episode where it made more sense. There's practically no link between Garak's budding relationship with Ziyal and the Maquis plot. I like Garak, though, so these scenes were not unpleasant. They just distracted from the story I was really interested in.

Strange New Worlds:

Though the Defiant did visit the Badlands twice, there are no planetfalls in this one.

New Life and New Civilizations:

We learned about Cardassians' great love of and great tolerance for heat in this episode, even visiting a Cardassian sauna in the holosuite.

Pensees:

-This episode benefits from a second viewing, as Eddington's skillful manipulation of Sisko is really interesting when you already know what's happening.

-I loved the little bit with Sisko and Jake halfway through the episode, where Sisko just holds onto his son as the only thing that he's sure of in his world that's currently shifting and turning upside down.

-The idea that Eddington is Maquis goes pretty far back. In 'The Adversary,' Eddington and Sisko discuss rank, a conversation that's very different because Eddington knows he will never wear the red command uniform because of what he's doing. Internet rumors of the time believed he was a changeling infiltrator, so the writers decided never to do that with the character, but instead to do something nobody would expect.

-Sisko describes himself as 'a Starfleet officer, a paragon of virtue.' This is the same phrase used to describe Kirk in 'Mudd's Women.' It also alludes to Sisko's ideal of who a Starfleet officer should be, which Eddington later fails to meet.

-Tora Ziyal is played here for the first and only time by Tracy Middendorf. The role was played by Cyia Batten in her previous appearances, and when she next shows up, it will be someone else.

Quotes:

Bashir: "What happened?"
Garak: "A brilliant move on the part of the Major. You should have been paying attention."

Kasidy: "Don't your neighbors ever complain?"
Sisko: "Sometimes, but usually, it's only an excuse to get a taste of my cooking."
Kasidy: "Oh, how sneaky of them."
Sisko: "Yes, they are a duplicitous bunch."

Jake: "What?"
Sisko: "This is important. You and I. Things change, but not this."

Kasidy: "I don't think I can do that, Ben. I have a commitment to fulfill. But if you want to take a runabout and wait for me on Risa, I'll meet you there."
Sisko: "Forget about it. It was just a crazy idea. Have a good trip."
Kasidy: "Thanks. It was a tempting idea, Ben. I wish I could take you up on it."
Sisko: "So do I."

Eddington: "We've left the Federation, and that's the one thing you can't accept. Nobody leaves paradise. Everybody should want to be in the Federation. Hell, you even want the Cardassians to join. You're only sending them replicators because one day, they'll take their rightful place on the Federation council. You know, in some ways, you're even worse than the Borg. At least they tell you about their plans for assimilation. You're more insidious. You assimilate people, and they don't even know it."

Kasidy: "I'll be back."
Sisko: "I'll be here."

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