Episode 2.15: Paradise

The ambiguity surrounding the ending of this episode is a great strength.  The philosophy of Alixus is portrayed as dangerous to the well-being of the colonists, which is clearly demonstrated by the death of community members over the years.  Yet the colonists desire to keep what they have built once the façade of their lifestyle is revealed.  The struggle they have endured has forged in them a resolute identity.  Had they not been stranded on that planet, many of them would likely have lived the fat, dull, lazy life Alixus abhors.  Perhaps they would have abhorred it as well.  Whatever Alixus’s crimes, their reactions to being stranded are something they can be proud of.  Ripped from their familiar life, they survived and thrived.  But Alixus stole from them the choice they could have had.  Alixus needed to act to bring down the ship.  Her philosophy is a community philosophy.  Without the community deprived of technology, she couldn’t live how she wanted to.  No one person could live the philosophy she espouses.

Perhaps this an odd comparison, but I find Alixus’s philosophy both in opposition to and similar to some themes found in Atlas Shrugged.  Alixus’s focus on community and the lowering of the self is contrary to Rand’s advocacy of ethical egoism.  Alixus demands each member of the community live for the community first, and their own needs second.  Yet, I find similarity because Alixus’s philosophy is equally extreme and lacks room for anyone with a moderate opinion.  Alixus’s philosophy requires the complete elimination of technology; to her, the gain of any technology leads to the loss of one’s humanity.  There can be no other way to “rediscover what man is capable of.”

With Alixus’s philosophy comes The Box.  Her philosophy is only tenable if everyone is working under that same paradigm.  Anyone working outside her philosophy (such as two Starfleet officers) work against the structure of the community and undermine the philosophy itself.  It is this latter danger that The Box truly protects against; the former is simply a red herring reason for going into The Box.  Notice that punishment with The Box is not used to punish any real crime.  Stephen went in because he stole a candle; Sisko went in because O’Brien sought to disrupt the duonetic field in his free time.  The Box punishes those who work against the philosophy.  Alixus is a fanatic; her punishment far outweighs the content of the actual crimes.  Her conflict with Sisko over the uniform is in a similar vein.  She needs him to ascribe to the philosophy, and leaving the uniform means he’s left his past behind.  Sisko understood this, and returned to The Box when he rejected her philosophy by staying in uniform.  Even one person with hope that rescue will come would disrupt the paradise Alixus has built.  Hope was a disease, one that would rot the community and destroy the communal philosophy Alixus had built.

Random Thoughts:  1) This kind of story is made possible by the station being in one place and the crew going out in the runabouts in small groups.  Had they beamed down from a starship in orbit, this would have been a nonstory.  A lot of these early episodes have that quality to them.  2) We see the start of Sisko’s drive to push Jake into Starfleet.  This will be more a learning experience for Sisko than for Jake.  3) O’Brien’s background on Setlik III is expanded from his backstory in TNG.  4) Sisko is the feisty, hot-tempered captain.  He remarks heatedly, “While we are debating [a philosophy], a woman is dying.”  His ire is further stoked when he realizes Cassandra was sent by Alixus as a comfort woman.  He throws anger around a lot faster than Picard.  5) Rio Grande’s NCC number is stated: 72452.

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~ by Joshua Black on June 22, 2016.

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