Episode 2.21: The Maquis Part 2

Part 2 really drives home how impotent the Federation is to these colonists.  This isn’t just an issue of being on the frontier and having few resources.  The Federation values on the central worlds (primarily Earth) simply don’t work or are not held in regard on the frontier.  The rise of the Maquis is a natural consequence of the Federation’s limited presence on there.  I’m not saying these episodes are portraying this theme, but I’m reminded of the rift between urban and rural lifestyles in the US.  I live in Denver, CO, and this state grapples constantly with a vibrant, urban central corridor that is at odds with the rural, agricultural plains and the small town, isolated mountains (which each are distinct from each other as well as the urban centers).

Sisko’s actions during Part 2 almost seem a farce.  He is ordered by the Admiral to “establish a dialogue” with the Maquis.  Repeatedly and consistently, these efforts are utterly useless.  All of Sisko’s attempts at diplomacy are a failure.  He cannot negotiate with Hudson; his rescue of Dukat degenerates into a firefight; and his attempt to get the Xepolite trader to yield to inspection is resolved by Dukat, not Sisko.  Dukat is Sisko’s foil; both desire resolution to the DMZ conflict, but have different methods.  Where Sisko attempts diplomacy, Dukat demands action.  Where Sisko fails, Dukat succeeds.  Without Dukat’s forceful and threatening actions, the Maquis would not have been stopped.  I liked particularly how smug Dukat was after the encounter with the Xepolites.  Well deserved, and Kira knows what he did was needed, given how she looked away shamefully when Dukat caught her eye.  Sisko’s impotence culminates with the fight outside the depot.  Dukat is flabbergasted when Sisko, in the midst of combat, continues to engage in diplomacy.  Even in the crucial moment when Sisko can severely cripple the genesis of the Maquis by killing Hudson (Hudson’s engines were up and weapons down…Sisko’s runabout was vice versa), Sisko took one last chance to talk.  He, yet again, fails with his diplomacy, and a Maquis leader is allowed to escape.  How many future encounters with the Maquis did Sisko allow by letting Hudson go?  How many Federation tactics were used against Starfleet?  How many recruits did the Maquis get through a charismatic leader?  Sisko knows this; he wonders if he only delayed the inevitable.

My favorite line in these two episodes is: “It’s easy to be a saint in paradise.”  I use the word paradise a lot to describe Roddenberry’s vision.  This is when Sisko first names it, and where I get the terminology.  As naïve as Sisko is, he has learned that high virtues of the Federation are difficult to practice on the frontier.  Basic needs, like protection and freedom, interfere with the practice of “higher” pursuits like nonviolence.  Fear of Cardassian raids pushes the colonists into arming themselves.  Attaining these high virtues before basic needs are met are possible, but incredibly difficult.  We have heroes in modern history, such as Ghandi, who demonstrate this.  I’m not saying that the correct response is to swing toward aggression and fighting for what we need.  I applaud Sisko’s commitment to words over weapons; I too believe in diplomacy to the last resort, even in the midst of combat.  But Starfleet’s order to “establish a dialogue” is too simplistic.  Perhaps re-establishing some protections for the colonists?  Or holding talks at strategic locations to increase the price of Cardassian aggression?  Starfleet is not present with the colonists to understand their needs and fears.  Hudson is there with them, and he abandon’s his commitment to Starfleet.  That is telling about the colonists’ plight.

Speaking of price, Quark needs a paragraph.  It is moments like his with Sarkonna in the holding cell that reminds me how intelligent and compassionate Quark is…in his own way.  His likening of the Rules of Acquisition to a Bill of Rights actually now seems a bit more plausible (see The Maquis Part 1 (Ep. 2.20), which at the time induced a bit of an eye-roll).  Using the 3rd Rule, he advocates for peace and convinces a Vulcan of the logic of helping Sisko.  Without an advantage, peace is cheap and the more lucrative path.  Escalation only makes peace more expensive.  It really is exceptional logic, so much so even a Vulcan would understand!  I think this is why Quark is able to get out of jail without consequences for negotiating a weapons deal.  Without his advocacy, Sarkonna would never have assisted Sisko.  As a character, Quark is deepening beyond his “snitch” trope.  He provides an alternative (ie Ferengi…which is literarily modern human) perspective to situations on the station that get the viewer to be a bit introspective.  It’s not always right (eg Ferengi views on women…), but it is usually thoughtful to the viewer.  After this episode, I like to think Sarkonna spends time in jail learning the Rules, seeing the logic in (some of) them.

Random Thoughts:  1) In the beginning of the episode, Hudson acts before he has proof of wrongdoing by the Cardassians.  Sisko would rarely betray his honor in any case and certainly not without proof.  2) Admiral Nechayev first questions Odo’s competency here and foreshadows the introduction of Edison.  Nice literary connection that this is when the Maquis first appear as well.  3) “Vulcans are a species who appreciate good ears.”  Ha!  I really think Quark would have gotten somewhere with Sarkonna had he more time.  4) The rift between Dukat and Central Command is widened.  Dukat also expands on how unhappy Central Command was with his withdrawl from Bajor.  5) Dukat can resist a mind meld!  6) Sisko doesn’t see any similarities to Dukat, but the foil aspect to their relationship is prominent.  Same position, both family men, same goals within their respective species.  7) The Tribunal (Ep. 2.25) is foreshadowed by Dukat claiming Cardassian courts always know the verdict ahead of time.  8) 3rd Rule of Acquisition, as above.  9) All three current runabouts are used and named: Rio Grande, Orinoco, Mekong.  None destroyed, sadly.

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~ by Joshua Black on October 17, 2016.

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