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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – For the Cause (Review)

This February and March (and a little bit of April), we’re taking a look at the 1995 to 1996 season of Star Trek, including Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. Check back daily for the latest review.

For the Cause essentially refocuses the fourth season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, rallying the season’s strength as the finalé approaches.

After a bunch of lackluster episodes, from Rules of Engagement through to Shattered Mirror and The Muse, the show finds its voice once again. For the Cause is not just a great episode of television, it is an episode uniquely tailored to this particular show. For the Cause would not work on any of the other for Star Trek shows, so precisely is it calibrated to what makes Deep Space Nine unique. It is a story about trust and betrayal, but also one that chips away at the romance of Starfleet and the Federation.

Pinning his colours to the mast...

Pinning his colours to the mast…

What is particularly interesting about the stretch of episodes running from here through to Broken Link is the sense that Deep Space Nine is getting back to basics. The fourth season is somewhat overshadowed by the addition of Worf to the cast and the emphasis placed on the Klingons in The Way of the Warrior. Although the production team do a great job working within the studio mandate, this shift in focus has meant that many more traditional elements of Deep Space Nine have been shunted into the background.

The final stretch of the fourth season finds the show returning to ideas that were threaded through earlier seasons and were shifted slightly out of focus with the return of the Klingons. For the Cause brings the Maquis back to the fore. To the Death, The Quickening and Broken Link focus on the Dominion threat. Body Parts returns to Ferengi politics. To be fair, the Maquis were the only element that totally faded from view over the fourth season, so it makes sense to return to them first.

A stunning betrayal...

A stunning betrayal…

It is important not to overstate how heavily the Klingon arc in the fourth season derailed the plans of the production team. Improvisation and elaboration were always among the strengths of the writing staff, and there is a sense that the fourth season of Deep Space Nine still managed to accomplish a lot of what the writers really wanted to do while providing the story beats that the studio had requested. There was some compromise required, but Ira Steven Behr navigated the situation quite skilfully.

The story that was to become Homefront and Paradise Lost was simply shifted from bridging the third and fourth seasons to appearing half-way through the fourth season instead. The introduction of the Klingons in The Way of the Warrior was structured in such a way that the Dominion remained a potent threat lurking in the background, something that the production team would confirm with Apocalypse Rising. Even allowing for that, the production team keep the Dominion threat current, using the Jem’Hadar in Hippocratic Oath, the third episode of the year.

So happy together...

So happy together…

What is particularly engaging about the middle seasons of Deep Space Nine is the way that the writing staff are able to build around external demands and constraints in order to tell the story that they want to tell in an organic and engaging fashion. This is probably why the show’s best loved seasons stretch from the middle of the run to the penultimate season, allowing fans to appreciate the free-form jazz-like improvisation without worrying about the more particular demands of wrapping it all up.

For the Cause is very much the kind of story that Deep Space Nine loved to tell. There are certainly traces of it to be found in earlier episodes. The idea of a fellow officer betraying Sisko to the Maquis harks back to Cal Hudson’s betrayal in the original Maquis story, The Maquis, Part I. Eddington’s mid-life crisis is rooted in his small character-building conversation with Sisko in The Adversary. His criticisms of Starfleet and the Federation simply expand upon the anxieties the show has already articulated, most clearly in Homefront and Paradise Lost.

Point-scoring!

Point-scoring!

However, even in telling this uniquely Deep Space Nine story, the writers acknowledge and work within the constraints of the studio-mandated Klingon plotline. Rather than trying to fight the incorporation of the Klingons into their long-term plans, they embrace the opportunities presented. This is quite clear in Broken Link, which solidifies the ties between the Klingon conflict and the Dominion threat that were hinted at in The Way of the Warrior, but it is also the case with For the Cause.

The plot of For the Cause finds the Maquis hijacking a shipment of industrial replicators destined for Cardassia. The show is quite careful to tie this to the political status quo as it exists at this point in the run of the show. “It seems that during their recent invasion of Cardassia, the Klingons inflicted far more damage than we’ve been led to believe,” Eddington reports early in the episode. As such, the plot from For the Cause is threaded through the consequences of The Way of the Warrior.

"This is where we planned this arc to be at this point..."

“This is where we planned this arc to be at this point…”

For the Cause goes a little further than that. It suggests that the show’s existing plot elements do not vanish just because there are more immediate concerns. (Bajor’s admittance to the Federation being the exception that proves the rule.) During that early briefing, Sisko observes, “The Cardassian military has been so busy fending off the Klingons, they’ve basically given a free hand to the Maquis in the Demilitarised zone.” It helps to create the sense of a breathing universe built on cause and effect, where characters do not disappear when off-screen.

These are subtle pieces of continuity, but it is an example of continuity that builds across the fourth season of Deep Space Nine. Much like the third season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the fourth season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine finds the show discovering (and developing) its own identity. This is the point at which Deep Space Nine really crystalises into its final form. Sure, the truly massive shift in the status quo occurs over the final stretch of the fifth season, but the fourth season sees the show embracing its own sensibilities.

"I need to think very carefully. This could become a recurring plot thread."

“I need to think very carefully. This could become a recurring plot thread.”

Part of that evolution is a willingness to engage in long-form storytelling and world-building. In many respects, the Dominion War is the obvious example of Deep Space Nine‘s tendencies towards serialisation. After all the second half of the fifth season builds relentlessly (and inevitably) towards it, while the sixth season opens with an extended arc that firmly up-ends the show’s status quo. Even allowing for the fact that the Dominion War is more of a status quo than a story arc, it is still bookended by what were (at the time) the longest television story arcs the show had attempted.

However, the fourth season witnesses the production team taking clear baby steps in the direction of that more ambitious serialised storytelling. Little character beats and plot threads carry across episodes. The Klingon situation is not resolved at the end of The Way of the Warrior; even though the main plots do not address the matter, there are briefings on the Klingon situation in episodes like Hippocratic Oath and For the Cause to keep the thread alive across different episodes.

The freight stuff...

The freight stuff…

Character continuity is maintained more tightly than it had been before. This reverberates in details both larger and small. Jake Sisko’s novel Anselm is referenced in both The Visitor and The Muse. Dax and Worf have an extended discussion about the relative merits of Klingon weaponry in Sons of Mogh and Bar Association. The holodeck adventures of Miles O’Brien and Julian Bashir take on a thematic consistency with references to the Battle of Britain in Homefront and the Battle of Clontarf in Bar Association.

To be fair, all of this continuity is just further developing and expanding upon a style that had begun to manifest towards the end of The Next Generation, most obviously in the efforts to build a romance between Worf and Troi between episodes like Eye of the Beholder and Parallels. In some respects, the tendency to treat Deep Space Nine as radical and experimental often leads fandom and critics to treat The Next Generation as overly conservative or staid. In many ways, Deep Space Nine had the luxury of pushing an envelop handed to them by The Next Generation.

Writing wrongs...

Writing wrongs…

Still, there is a conscious sense that Deep Space Nine is improving and elaborating upon this details-orientated approach to long-form storytelling. The blossoming romance between Dax and Worf certainly feels more organic than the attempts to create a romance between Troi and Worf, whatever long-term issues might develop over the course of that relationship. The fourth season is very much an example of Deep Space Nine ramping up stylistic sensibilities that will pay off seasons later.

This should be contrasted with the attempts to build an arc across the second season of Star Trek: Voyager. Rather than trying to “ease” into serialisation through recurring character beats or deepening relationships, the second season of Voyager went “all in” on a long-form story that cobbled together the very worst aspects of the show: Tom Paris as a rebel; the Kazon as a credible threat; Neelix as an important character. The fourth season of Deep Space Nine makes a convincing case for slowly ramping up to serialisation, rather than jumping in with both feet.

Pillow talk...

Pillow talk…

For the Cause demonstrates the appeal of such an approach. The episode pivots on two central character dynamics; the relationship between Benjamin Sisko and Kasidy Yates, along with Michael Eddington’s betrayal of his uniform. These are stories that simply would not work with one-shot guest characters. Certainly, Eddington’s betrayal in For the Cause stings in a way that Hudson’s defection in The Maquis, Part II did not. Sisko might have had a long-standing relationship with Hudson, but audiences have come to take Eddington for granted.

Similarly, the relationship between Sisko and Yates has been slowly and steadily developed since Jake first alluded to her in Explorers and the two went on their first date in Family Business. Little touches like their relaxed dinner together in The Way of the Warrior and the debate over her moving to the station in Indiscretion have helped to ground the arc without ever pushing it into the spotlight. However, as a result of that, her betrayal in For the Cause carries a lot of weight.

Benjamin Sisko is happy. This cannot last.

Benjamin Sisko is happy.
This cannot last.

As ever, there is a sense that For the Cause was a story that developed through improvisation rather than meticulous planning. Deep Space Nine is not a show where the writers had too many detailed long-term plans, instead preferring to seize storytelling opportunities as they presented themselves rather than mapping out the journey years in advance. Neither Eddington nor Yates were originally introduced as Maquis plants waiting to be revealed, but the writers saw an opportunity and grabbed it.

Indeed, storytelling logic would suggest that Eddington or Yates are more likely to be revealed as Changelings. After all, Sisko had gone out on a limb to protect Yates from a screening in The Way of the Warrior, which would make any subsequent revelation particularly ironic. Eddington was a character who was largely redundant and who had been introduced in The Search, Part I, the same episode that introduced the Changelings. It is not too difficult to imagine him filling a role similar to changeling!Bashir in another version of In Purgatory’s Shadow.

"We go through Shattered Mirror and The Muse together. I'm not giving up now."

“We go through Shattered Mirror and The Muse together. I’m not giving up now.”

At the same time, while neither of these revelations were planned, they both make a certain amount of sense. Speaking to Cinefantastique, actor Kenneth Marshall acknowledged that it was a logical direction based on previous developments with the character:

“It actually all makes good sense in a way. To get to the level where he’s gotten in Starfleet, the sophistication and life in the Federation has developed to such a level that I think it becomes easy to lose touch with what’s real and organic in life. You see this happen all the time. People have these little epiphanies. They wake up and they realize this isn’t really what life should be all about. Maybe it should be about something else. It should be about more personal, caring things. I think he was ripe to attach himself to this cause because of that.” Eddington was first seen in The Search when he was brought in to help look for the Founders and to replace Odo as head of security. Noted Marshall, “That very first episode they started the friction, tension, between Odo and me, but they but they went a different direction from that.

Eddington was largely a redundant character. After all, he was a replacement for Primmin, a redundant character from The Passenger and Move Along Home way back in the first season. And his dialogue in The Adversary seemed to hint at a revelation like this.

Tailor-made for this role...

Tailor-made for this role…

Eddington had originally been created to comfortably slot into scripts when Colm Meaney was unavailable. However, he never really fulfilled that particular role. Instead, he featured as something of a named extra in episodes like Rejoined and Our Man Bashir, a source of exposition and technobabble rather than a functioning character in his own right. The events of For the Cause serve to flesh out the character and turn him into a much more significant part of the mythos, allowing a bit player to be elevated to a featured guest star.

Deep Space Nine was consistently very good at this, much better than any of the other Star Trek shows. Eddington is only one of several examples, from Rom through to Weyoun. Damar is perhaps the best example, elevated from a named background character in Return to Grace to a fully fledged revolutionary in What You Leave Behind. The other Star Trek shows struggled with that. Carey, Hogan and Vorik were all interchangeable engineers on Voyager. In contrast, Shran was consciously introduced as a pretty big deal on Star Trek: Enterprise.

What's up, dock?

What’s up, dock?

Eddington’s unlikely (and unpredictable) character arc highlights some of the strengths of the series. Robert Hewitt Wolfe argued as much in an interview with Cinefantastique:

[He and Sisko] have a really cool chemistry together. They have a believable conflict between them. I really like Eddington. He’s a uniquely Deep Space Nine character, in that he’s a guy who we got to know as a secondary character who turned out to be a lot more important, and grew through the course of the series.

It is certainly an element that serves to distinguish Deep Space Nine from its sibling series. There are no other recurring Star Trek characters who quite match the development (and expansion) afforded Eddington and Damar, climbing from background players to featured guest stars.

Continuity spilling over...

Continuity spilling over…

Even outside of the character continuity and the attention paid to the background details of the show, For the Cause fits quite comfortable with the broader themes of the fourth season. Eddington’s criticisms of the Federation in his final scene might be rooted in his own mid-life crisis, but they touch on ideas that Deep Space Nine has broached before. Deep Space Nine is a show that is largely skeptical of authority and power structures, wary of concentrated political power and how that impacts upon the individual.

Deep Space Nine has been cynical about the Federation and Starfleet since at least The Maquis, Part I, suggesting that the organisation was disconnected from the real lives of its citizens. The fourth season reiterated these ideas in Homefront and Paradise Lost, suggesting that Starfleet was perhaps too militaristic to provide a viable response to the threats facing it. In his final address to Sisko in For the Cause, Eddington ties together these uncertainties and discomforts into a single cohesive argument.

A Kas before dying...

A Kas before dying…

Eddington makes a very valid criticism of the Federation as an institution that is subtly imperialist; an institution dedicated to its own expansion through more subtle means than warfare. “Everyone should want to be in the Federation,” Eddington argues. “You know, in some ways you’re 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.” Indeed, Eddington’s argument reflects many criticisms of Star Trek as a franchise.

There is certainly a valid argument to be made that Star Trek has at times reflected an overly jingoistic interpretation of American exceptionalism and interventionism. Gene Roddenberry’s scripts for the original show were particularly prone to such indulgences, with A Private Little War and The Omega Glory serving as perfect examples of Eddington’s philosophy. Early Next Generation episodes like The Last Outpost and Lonely Among Us also come to mind, reveling in the perceived superiority of the crew’s Federation values.

Heated discussion...

Heated discussion…

These criticisms are fairly stock at this point. Compare Eddington’s in-universe criticism of Federation foreign policy to Ericka Hoagland and Reema Sarwal’s meditation of the Prime Directive in their introduction to Science Fiction, Imperialism and the Third World:

Acting like an intergalactic disclaimer, the directive is less about protecting the aliens Starfleet encounters than it is about protecting Federation interests and reputation, a reputation perceived in idealistic ways – cooperative, tolerant, humane, noble – in a future likewise presented idealistically, where humanity has overcome the problems and prejudices Leggat alludes to above. In this sense the prime directive serves as a counternarrative to the violent imperialist encounters of the past, but is no less marked by imperialist desire than the African land grab of the nineteenth century. Imperialist desire in the prime directive is coded through terms like “aid” and “protect”, the larger goal being to encourage planets to willingly join the Federation, and thus be drawn into the empire by choice, rather than force.

The content of Eddington’s criticism is not particularly shocking, but it is striking that he is allowed to articulate it within the context of the franchise. Deep Space Nine had criticised the franchise’s values before (with Crossover critiquing Mirror, Mirror), but For the Cause is brazen in how it frames them.

"I promised myself I wouldn't cry."

“I promised myself I wouldn’t cry.”

At the same time, For the Cause avoids romanticising Eddington. His critique of the self-serving nature of Federation altruism is perfectly valid, and there is more than a grain of truth to his observation about why the Federation (and Sisko) fixate upon the Maquis so much. However, Eddington is never presented as a hero. Coupled with The Adversary, his portrayal here suggests that joining the Maquis is a mid-life crisis, a selfish indulgence that allows him to dress up his own existential ennui in self-righteousness.

It is a theme developed in Eddington’s subsequent appearances in For the Uniform and Blaze of Glory, suggesting that Eddington is simply a lonely man who jumped at the opportunity to play at being a space pirate because he could find no greater meaning in his life. The Adversary suggested that his Starfleet career was a dead-end, and there is never any indication of a personal connection to the cause. Eddington is simply acting out a higher-stakes version of O’Brien and Bashir’s holodeck adventures.

All sewn up...

All sewn up…

After all, what does Eddington actually do? He uses Kasidy Yates as bait to draw Sisko away from the station, to ensure he meets no material resistance. Despite the fact that Yates was supplying medical aid to the Maquis, she is scapegoated so Eddington can stage his big coup. Having manipulated Sisko off the station, he simply shoots Major Kira while she is unarmed and uses his rank and privilege to place the replicators on a freighter and then abscond with that freighter. Despite what he might protest in For the Uniform, he is hardly Jean Valjean.

This is quite consistent with Deep Space Nine‘s portrayal of the Maquis as very middle-class terrorists, particularly focusing on Starfleet officers who cope with existential crises by joining a terrorist organisation; and proving rather ineffective at it. Cal Hudson’s defection in The Maquis, Part I pointedly happened after the death of his wife, suggesting an effort to define himself. Thomas Riker’s hijacking of the Defiant in Defiant was an attempt to distinguish himself from his transporter clone.

"We'll be Brief(ing)..."

“We’ll be Brief(ing)…”

This contrasts with the more romantic portrayals of the Maquis in The Next Generation and Voyager, whether as the oppressed Native American colonists in Journey’s End or in the moral certainty represented by Chakotay. In fact, Voyager even suggested that Tom Paris was too much of a dysfunctional rogue for the Maquis, despite the fact he ends up as a happily married husband and father by the end of the show’s run. While Eddington’s comparisons to Valjean are presented as disingenuous, Chakotay sincerely names his ship the Valjean.

The portrayal of terrorism in the fourth season of Deep Space Nine was undoubtedly influenced by the Oklahoma Bombing that had taken place over the summer leading into the season. The decision to have the Changelings bomb a state function in Homefront evokes Timothy McVeigh’s attack upon the government buildings in Oklahoma City in April 1995. In The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, Mark Gehred-O’Connell admits that his original pitch of For the Cause was influenced by the attack. However, it is also surprisingly prescient.

A dream couple...

A dream couple…

The Maquis are not really comparable to al-Qaeda or ISIS in terms of methodology or radicalisation. The Star Trek franchise is too broadly sympathetic to the Maquis to allow them to execute Cardassians or Starfleet officers. The most deplorable act committed by the Maquis was the bombing of a freighter at the start of The Maquis, Part I, but that marks the limit case. Deep Space Nine was aware of this, with Dukat and Kira both chiding the earnest decency of the Maquis in The Maquis, Part II and Defiant respectively. The Maquis are not really terrorists, in broad terms.

However, there is something that rings true about the portrayal of the Maquis in Deep Space Nine. The show repeatedly and consistently portrays the Maquis as well-educated individuals who have had solid opportunities in life, but who are motivated to defect to the Maquis out of a sense of listlessness or boredom. It seems to reflect the findings of various studies into organisations like al-Qaeda and Islamic State, that the most committed members are “ex-cons and converts.”

Starry-eyed...

Starry-eyed…

In contemporary media, there is a tendency to treat the stock terrorist as a character who is down on the luck, somebody justifiably angry at the system for the opportunities that they have been denied and with no recourse to any other mode of expression. However, the evidence about the people who travel to places like Syria suggests a different picture:

The usual clichés about jihadis – that they are poor, uneducated, badly integrated – are rarely true. A survey of British jihadis by researchers at London’s Queen Mary College found no link to “social inequalities or poor education”; most were highly educated young people from comfortable families who spoke English at home. According to Le Monde, a quarter of French jihadis in Syria are from non-Muslim backgrounds.

Of course, this only really applies to those foreign fighters who travel to join terrorist organisations. Operations like the Islamic State recruit locally as well as internationally. Nevertheless, the profile of the average wanderer who enlists from overseas suggests a higher education and social class than many would expect. The cliché image of the downtrodden terrorist is not as accurate as it might seem.

Eddington really decides to pylon the betrayal, eh?

Eddington really decides to pylon the betrayal, eh?

Anecdotal evidence can be used to support just about any position, but coverage of the people who do travel to places like Iraq and Syria points to something of a trend. Consider the Oxford-educated “Jihadi Jack” Letts, who denies any involvement with ISIS while travelling abroad and voicing support. Abdelhamid Abaaoud masterminded the Paris attacks, but came from an area of Brussels with a larger middle class and a gentrifying “hipster” influence. The infamous executioner “Jihadi John” Mohammad Emwazi came from a “well-to-do” family in London.

As such, the portrayal of defectors like Cal Hudson, Thomas Riker and Michael Eddington feels very much in line with subsequent development. Of course, all three characters are much older than many of the modern converts and recruits, but Deep Space Nine is surprisingly astute in its portrayal of recruitment and defection. Deep Space Nine might be cynical about the use of power by large organisations, but it is also cynical about the motivations and realities of those people who throw themselves behind radical causes.

"You know, they should really play music in these things."

“You know, they should really play music in these things.”

To be fair, there are also other little touches that seem particularly pointed with the benefit of hindsight. When Eddington and Odo voice their suspicions about Yates to Sisko, they suggest immediate and intrusive surveillance. “Odo, she’s a Federation citizen,” Sisko responds. “You can’t just invade her privacy based on your suspicions. You’ll have to show me some real evidence before I authorise what you’re proposing.” Eddington replies, “If she’s really a Maquis, then she’s no longer a Federation citizen.”

It is a short exchange that hints at all sorts of ideas, from the expansion of the surveillance state to the suspension of various civil liberties for suspected terrorists. In some ways, Deep Space Nine feels like a very twenty-first century show. However, while these would become part of the conversation after the events of 9/11 and during the War on Terror, it is important to note that there a much larger cultural context. For example, many of the measures that would be introduced after 9/11 were originally proposed in response to Waco or Oklahoma.

Love on the rocks...

Love on the rocks…

Of course, For the Cause plays into the larger theme of recurring history that reverberates through Deep Space Nine and is particularly concentrated during this fourth season. Once again, Sisko is betrayed to the Maquis. Just as he was in The Maquis, Part I, Sisko is betrayed by a trusted confidante and a loyal Starfleet officer; it just so happens that this time the two roles are played by different people. Just as Cal Hudson betrayed his oath and his friend, Sisko finds himself betrayed by Eddington and Yates.

It is interesting to focus on why Sisko takes Eddington’s betrayal so personally. After all, he does eventually forgive Yates for lying to him. Indeed, he even makes two separate attempts to offer Yates an easy “out”; he offers to run away with her to Risa before she makes that final trip, and he leaves her to her own devices after catching her in the act. The implication even within For the Cause seems to be that Sisko can forgive. While he would have been hurt if she didn’t surrender herself, it seems unlikely he would pursue her with the same force he pursues Eddington.

A Saurian-brandy socialist?

A Saurian-brandy socialist?

If Sisko can forgive Yates, if he can excuse her most personal betrayal, then why does Eddington’s betrayal matter so much? It never seemed like the two characters were particularly close, leaving aside their conversation in The Adversary. It seems like Eddington is right when he talks about the Federation’s unwillingness to simply leave the Maquis alone, except his logic applies as much to Sisko as to the larger institution. Sisko cannot abide the betrayal of the Starfleet uniform; he cannot stand the idea that somebody would just abandon it.

However, there is an inherent contradiction here. More than any other Star Trek lead, Sisko has cause to question his uniform. In the closing moments of The Maquis, Part II, he acknowledges that the Maquis have a valid point. In Homefront and Paradise Lost, Sisko finds himself caught in the middle of a Starfleet coup, turning against his commanding officer. In Far Beyond the Stars, Sisko will come closer to giving up his position and his uniform than any other Star Trek captain. Given all of that, one might expect Sisko to be more sympathetic to Eddington.

A commanding performance...

A commanding performance…

Again, the beauty of characterisation on Deep Space Nine shines through. While characterisation on the other Star Trek shows tended to be more direct and unambiguous, Deep Space Nine is more intricate and ambiguous in establishing motivation and character development. In particularly, there is a recurring sense that characters are actively projecting their own anxieties and flaws on to their opponents. This plays very much into the show’s fascination with conflict, to the point where even character development is found in conflict.

In Hippocratic Oath, it seems like O’Brien’s discomfort with the Jem’Hadar might be grounded in his own anxieties about his military record; if O’Brien feared that war had turned him into a killing machine, then it made sense to project those fears on to the Jem’Hadar. In Our Man Bashir, Garak’s big speech about pragmatism and cowardice comes at a point where Garak is wary of embracing Federation values and cultural norms, whether growing a conscience about his torture of Odo in The Die is Cast or talking about root beer in The Way of the Warrior.

Xhosa it must be...

Xhosa it must be…

As such, it seems like Sisko is so enraged by Eddington reflects his own issues. Eddington gives voice to all the doubts and uncertainties that Sisko feels about the uniform. In The Way of the Warrior, Sisko talked to Worf about how he had considered giving up his career before the events of Emissary. Over the course of the show, Sisko is forced to come to terms with the idea that Starfleet is not paradise. That is something that fundamentally challenges his world view and his self-image. In Eddington, Sisko sees a man who let that same creeping doubt poison him.

While Sisko hates and pursues Eddington, it is also worth noting that he does forgive Yates. This is an important detail, with Yates promising to return and Sisko promising to wait. While Deep Space Nine suggests that history moves in arcs and circles, it suggests that the only way forward is to break out of those circles. Perhaps, in breaking a cycle, things might improve. In Return to Grace, Dukat fails to learn that lesson, yearning to repeat his old mistakes. In the final moments of For the Cause, Sisko seems to find a better way. Sometimes, there is forgiveness.

Disrupting a pleasant evenint...

Disrupting a pleasant evening…

That is mirrored in the episode’s subplot, which finds Garak trying to navigate a relationship with Tora Ziyal. Of course, this is not the same Tora Ziyal from Indiscretion and Return to Grace. The role was recast with Tracy Middendorf given the role. Ronald D. Moore explained the recasting to Cinefantastique:

“We felt we wanted to try something different with Ziyal,” said Moore. “We wanted to add some more colours to the performance, more depth to the character, and felt Tracy would give us that. Tracy came in to read for the part of Jake’s girlfriend, the Bajoran dabo girl, in last year’s show. I really liked her and remembered her and when we were recasting this role I thought to bring her in for this.”

Middendorf certainly presents a more extroverted and confident version of Ziyal than Cyia Batten. In particular, Middendorf manages to hold her ground reasonably well with Andrew Robinson, which is no small feat. However, Middendorf would not get the chance to develop the role further.

For the moment, though, he's only killing time.

For the moment, though, he’s only killing time.

As Garak points out, Ziyal has every reason to want to hurt him. “I’ve had visions of Ziyal presenting my head to her father as a birthday gift,” he confesses to Quark. Later, Ziyal lists the charges against her companion. “Kira and my father both told me that you used to be an agent of the Obsidian Order,” she states. “That you had my grandfather tortured and killed, and that you could easily kill me without a second thought.” Garak concedes that both statements are true.

However, in the end, Ziyal is able to forgive him. As Ziyal points out, they are the only two Cardassians on the station. It would seem pointless for them to hold on to old grudges. Once again, Deep Space Nine feels like a home to exiles and refugees. “I can’t go back and neither can you,” Ziyal summates. “So we can either share some time together or we can ignore each other.” There is something inherently optimistic in their ability to leave the past behind them, just as there is in the final promise between Sisko and Yates.

Feeling hemmed in...

Feeling hemmed in…

This optimism and humanism is threaded through Deep Space Nine, and is one of the reasons that the show is never as dark or glum as many fans would claim. Deep Space Nine might be wary of power structures and governments, but it remains confident in people. If characters are willing to work hard, and embrace possibility, then peaceful coexistence is possible. Deep Space Nine seems to suggest that conflict is a natural part of life, but it is possible to rise above it if people can find the strength; whether in themselves or with somebody else.

For the Cause is directed by James L. Conway, who remains one of the franchise’s best directors. Conway had done stellar work on The Way of the Warrior, and his strengths lean towards action and suspense. This works very well in the episode’s primary plot line, but it also reverberates through the subplot. In particular, Conway elevates a delightful sequence of Bashir and Garak bantering while watching some Bajoran racquetball. It is a very stock scene, with both characters literally scoring points, but it flows beautifully.

Kasidy immediately regretted suggesting Ben should be more spontaneous.

Kasidy immediately regretted suggesting Ben should be more spontaneous.

For the Cause is a stellar episode of Deep Space Nine and a fantastic piece of television.

You might be interested in our reviews of the fourth season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:

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12 Responses

  1. I like your idea of Sisko seeing Edington as a mirror of himself. Especially when one considers he later say to the effect: “was he a changling? No. He was a man just like me.” It does raise the question though why he always seemed more willing to forgive Cal Hudson than Eddington. After all, Hudson is arguably even more of a dark mirror to Sisko.

    • Interesting. I think Sisko was definitely more sympathetic to Hudson, certainly. But I’m not sure he ever forgave him. Eddington scores that point in Blaze of Glory, when he references the character’s ultimate fate. He died without reconciliation, Sisko still harbouring some resentment and betrayal. That said, I think Sisko is probably a lot more cynical about Starfleet no than he was back in the second season.

      It is probably worth noting that the episode that introduces Eddington (The Search) features a dream in which Sisko imagines Starfleet completely selling out its ideals and Bajor to the point where he goes rogue. Even though that was just a hallucination, I think it suggests that S3-S7 Sisko might have been more wary of Starfleet on some level, and so more liable to project his own anxieties on to Eddington. (Or, more liable to be angry at Eddington for knowing that – on some level – he is right in a way Sisko cannot seem to bring himself to admit.)

      • It could be possible that Hudson was a close friend of Sisko while Eddington was kind of a nobody that he brely knew, which made it easier to project his anxieties onto him.

      • That’s a fair point.

  2. While I like your idea of the Maquis as ‘middle class terrorists’ I think an analogy with Western Islamists might be going a little far – as educated and assimilated as many of their families are there is still a definite element of visible or self felt/self identified ‘otherness’ in most cases. As I said before Worf, with his near worshipful regard of a Klingon heritage he barely has a real connection to feels closer to that kind of mentality, albeit much more positively.

    If anything the Maquis strike me as frustrated conservatives, of which the Federation has many examples from the New Essentialists (‘Let He Who Is Without Sin…) to the followers of Alixus (‘Paradise’) to unsuccessful Starfleet hawks like Admiral Layton (‘Homefront/Paradise Lost’). Less the radical left and more the angry and frightened right looking to reclaim an influence that they believed they had lost – the Tea Party or UKIP of space.

    (You could even run with the idea that in-universe the events of the The Undiscovered Country was the political turning point in the Federation. I remember one worried admiral asking if peace with the Klingons meant mothballing Starfleet!)

    • “the Tea Party or UKIP of space”

      You’re really reaching. UKIP *always* felt displaced by foreigners, they’re just seizing on frustrations with political realities (we don’t go to war with Saudi princes, period) to portray the left as appeasing and weak.

      The Maquis always seemed above that kind of intrigue. Moreover, they HAD legitimate grievances. They’ve been forced off their land by the Federation (in one incarnation or another) for 700 freaking years, first by Javier Maribona Picard and now by Starfleet.

      Although yours does sound like a neat idea. (Babylon Five came close with the “Earth First” movement, but that ultimately was an expression of penis envy by a psychotic President. “The Circle” and “Terra Prime” are such a damp squib that I won’t bother to mention them.)

    • That’s a fair point, I suppose. But in most cases, even within the community, these departures and conversations often seem to take people by surprise. Parents are shocked when their children sneak off to Syria, insisting there were no warning signs, for example. (I think Eddington and Hudson definitely have shades of that self-felt “not belonging”, even if I’d not go so far as to call it “otherness”; Eddington’s admission that he will never make captain, Hudson’s lack of purpose after his wife’s death.)

      But you make a very valid point about how Deep Space Nine touches on these reactionary right-wing movements within the Federation and Starfleet. I think it speaks to the show’s politics – Deep Space Nine is the most anarchistic Star Trek show, by some distance. And I like that in-universe logic as well. It makes perfect sense, when you frame it like that.

      While there are definite right-wing elements to the Maquis (they are essentially land rights protesters), I think the shows have traditionally couched them in liberal terms. Whether the New-Age-y-ness of the DMZ colonists in Journey’s End and of Chakotay on Voyager, or in the “they’re too soft for this” criticisms of The Maquis, Part I and Defiant that are sorts of rhetoric employed by conservatives to criticise the political left. (Plus, if anything, the Maquis are advocating for more state power rather than less. They don’t want to be independent, they want the Federation to undertake to protect them.) But you’re right, there’s a definite argument one way or the other.

      • “children sneak off to Syria, insisting there were no warning signs, for example.”

        There you have a point. From what I understand, many muslums who convert to Wahhabist Islam are, to put it bluntly, failures; they couldn’t advance in a dog-eat-dog, western capitalist society. This could mirror Eddington when he talked about how a goldshirt can only rise to a certain ceiling.

        It’s hard to separate the politics of the Maquis, such as they are, with their real goal: to blow up sacred cows.

  3. “Garak concedes that both statements are true.”

    This is why Cardassians are the best. When they’re don well, they are the most layered and believable aliens in Star Trek. I love how they have zero illusions about their own nature. Little kids are brought into interrogation chambers and Ziyal mediates over all the different reasons why she should kill her daddy’s nemesis. These children aren’t shielded from ANYTHING, which makes them pretty sh*tty people but also the first guy/girl you would want in a crisis.

    Boy, I missed the little badass Ziyal. She was a worthy match for Garak. The new one just sucked, all lovey-dovey with everybody and passing out finger paintings.

    • The Cardassians are probably the franchise’s most intriguing and well-developed species, even if they were never as popular as the Borg or the Klingons.

  4. This is the first time Eddington really gets to take centre stage. The way James L. Conway frames Eddington on the screen in Sisko’s office in a gradual closeup is the first time Kenneth Marshall has really been allowed to dominate a scene rather then be window-dressing. And he did commit sabotage in The Die Is Cast, which suggests that Eddington always had anti-Federation leanings bubbling away somewhere. Another early plot development that would pay off further down the road.

    Tracey Middendorf was the only actress to play Ziyal once but I really enjoyed her final scene with Andrew Robinson. It’s so rare to hear Garak confirm anything about his past, much less two things. Middendorf pulled off something rare in this scene that it’s surprising she was recast with Melanie Smith.

    That picture of Kira and Garak; hmmm. She looks like she’s saying “wouldn’t you rather take my measurements instead of Sisko’s?” And then in the picture of Garak and Quark, Garak looks like he’s saying “I know we had an appointment but I’ve just agreed to do Kira(s).”

    Is it just me or do the display screens on the Xosia look very TOS?

    • Conway is one of the franchise’s best directors, and massively underrated.

      And it is very much a shame that Tracey Middendorf couldn’t come back. I think she might be my favourite Ziyal, if only because I think she plays the best with Robinson. As you point out.

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