Episode 2.20: The Maquis Part 1

DS9 is about to go through a shift in tone.  Seasons 1 and 2 had, broadly speaking, settings and conflicts that demonstrated the difficulty of maintaining Roddenberry’s paradise on the frontier.  The crew struggled to prepare Bajor and the surrounding space for better times after the Occupation.  They fought and were succeeding.  Now, that breaks down.  In Seasons 3-5, themes surrounding the Maquis and the rise of the Dominion show the gradual breakdown of the paradise into a hidden war (the Maquis) or a cold war (the Dominion).  Seasons 6-7 are the total destruction of and the future hope for the paradise.

The Maquis resolutely reject the notion the paradise on Earth could be their paradise.  They are abandoned and nearly ignored by the Federation and Starfleet.  Without support and protection, the Maquis resort to aggressive, violent, and autonomous action to protect themselves from a superior foe, the Cardassian colonists (which, we end up learning, are supplied by the Central Command).  This leads them to reject a central pillar of the Federation, namely diplomacy over war.  It’s interesting that the Maquis never entertain the notion that Cardassians could be reasoned with.  Sisko has a profound naiveté about several events: the colonists’ resentment, the Cardassian deception, and the futility of diplomacy.  And truly, how can Starfleet expect the colonists to act like they are part of the Federation when the Federation has withdrawn protection and guidance?

Starfleet, including Sisko, is utterly oblivious to the needs of these colonists.  Both Dukat and Kira attack Sisko for Starfleet’s blindness.  In Part 1, Dukat firmly and consistently holds the moral high ground over Sisko.  Sisko blithely defends the colonists not knowing their guilt in the Bok’nor incident, and Sisko lashes out unjustly against Dukat, accusing him of harming Jake.  The moral superiority the Federation holds is a hypocrisy.  Throughout Part 1 (even while captured in Part 2), Dukat is firmly in control, as he sees the dirty side of the Federation, where the powerful in Starfleet ignore the suffering of their people in some attempt to control “the big picture”.  This is Kira’s attack on Sisko.  When she challenges him, he responds immediately with the big picture: “I’ve got people killing people”; he has a war to prevent.  But by doing so, Sisko ignores the suffering of the colonists.  Kira knows the horrors of Cardassian rule, and she is shocked that Sisko doesn’t see that Bajor’s past will become the colonists’ future.  The enemy is clear to Kira: the Cardassians.  But as the episode closes, Sisko realizes who his enemy will become: Federation citizens.

Random thoughts:  1) The Maquis are named for two historical Maquis.  The French resistance group during WWII and the Spanish resistance group following the Spanish Civil War.  2) Dukat is a family man; he has 7 children.  He absolutely would never harm Jake as Sisko implies; his taken offense is real.  3) Dukat uses a diplomatic backchannel to coordinate with Sisko.  Cardassia cannot act officially because non-action results in Cardassia be embarrassed by not eliminating the colonist threat or beimg thrust into another war with the Federation if they do act.  4) We learn Kira’s age: 26 years of the Occupation plus 2 years since DS9 started gives us aged 28 at the end of Season 2.  Emissary (Ep. 1.1) was set a few months (at most) since the end of the Occupation.  5) Both Sisko and Starfleet offer the weak argument that the colonists “chose to live there.”  This is blind to the connection the colonists have to the land.  The similarities of this attitude to modern Native Americans are built on more fully in the TNG parallel episodes.  6) Kira uses the acronym SID at the beginning of the episode.  This means Ship In Distress.  7) The clock Sisko built in Dramatis Personae (Ep. 1.18) is seen as decoration in his office.  8) Quark trying to woo a Vulcan is awesome.  Even better is that he succeeds!  He would have gotten further if he had the time.  9) Dukat’s fury at the Cardassians not responding to him is real.  He doesn’t know Central Command is supplying them yet.  Dukat stays playful at the situation until things happen outside his control.  Then he turns hard.  10) Rule of Acquisition #214!  Quark also explains the purpose of the rules are to govern Ferengi business practice.  If the viewer didn’t know who the Ferengi were yet, the comparison of the Rules of Acquisition to a Bill of Rights should be enough.  11) Odo gets a good reminder that security should not be sought at all costs.  Terak Nor was safe…if one wasn’t a Bajoran.  12) Very nice touch at the end.  When the three officers beam down, Bashir very awkwardly holds the phaser.  As the good doctor is quite unfamiliar with weapons still.

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~ by Joshua Black on October 15, 2016.

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