All posts for the month July, 2013


Looking for par’Mach in All the Wrong Places: an episode where Dr.Bashir suddenly needs brain-bleach.


“Please do.”

Deep Space 9, Season 5 – Episode 13: “For the Uniform

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What I found really interesting about the episode was that it was the Ferengi who made the first contact with the major power in the Gamma Quadrant. It was the Ferengi who discovered the Dominion, which I think is wonderful. For all of Starfleet’s intelligence and technology, it was trading and merchandising that made the Dominion apparent to everyone!



This scene pretty much summarizes why DS9 is, IMHO, the best Trek series. It took Roddenberry’s dream and flipped it on its head—which you may or may not like—but I adored it.

TNG presented a world where humanity had surpassed its ills. The Federation’s values made humans the good guys, compared to species like the Romulans and the Cardassians. Principles and ethics, are what set us apart. As Picard said, “The first duty of every Starfleet officer is to the truth… It is the guiding principle on which Starfleet is based. And if you can’t find it within yourself to stand up and tell the truth…you don’t deserve to wear that uniform!” It’s all very idealistic.

Honesty and ethics are what Starfleet is based on, yet Starfleet gives Sisko authorization to forge evidence in order to trick Romulus into joining the war. Because of our principles, humans always thought we were above our enemies — who had the Obsidian Order/Tal Shiar — only to find out we have our own version, Section 31. As Admiral Ross put it, “Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges.” In other words, we can stay clean as long as things are going our way. If not, we’ll think nothing of getting our hands dirty.

The underlying message of DS9 was, although we like to think—maybe even deceive ourselves into thinking that we’ve evolved, when the chips are down, we are just as ruthless as the cultures we purport to have progressed beyond. And, if you stop and look at our own culture, you will see how absolutely true that is.

We all like to think of ourselves as good, moral people. That’s the easy part. DS9 challenged us to question how good we really are.

And yet it showed that people can be good anyway. TNG (TOS didn’t really get into what Starfleet ~meant~ all that often, not as often as TNG) presented a situation where being good was pretty easy. Occasionally there would be moral dilemmas, but they were usually solved by the end of the episode and it was usually implied or even explicitly stated that whatever choice had been made was the best possible choice in that situation. 

DS9 had the line “It’s easy to be a saint in paradise,“ and it explored the implications of that line so hard you could write multiple academic papers on it. Earth might have solved its own problems, but once it starts interacting with other species on a long-term basis, not just meeting them for a few days, things obviously start to get complicated. 

DS9 put the characters in a place very far away from paradise, both literally and thematically, and used that to great effect. The characters made the wrong decisions sometimes- and sometimes it was a mistake, but sometimes they went into it eyes open and accepted they were doing something morally wrong for what they hoped was a greater good. Even when the main characters disagreed with the decisions of others, straightforward value judgments were hard to make; the “saint in paradise” line was delivered in half-defense of officer-turned-Maquis-leader, ending the episode on the note that while the terrorist tactics of the Maquis were wrong, it was easy to see how they had gotten that way, living under constant threat as they did and wanting to remain in their homes.

But these failings and this setting made the moments where characters were truly good shine all that much brighter. Because it was hard to be good in these difficult and often morally grey situations, the people who strove to be good anyway, as best they could, were all the more impressive. And DS9 also extended this to the alien species, who sometimes had an even more difficult time of it. Odo had to defy his whole species to do what he felt was right. Rom (and occasionally Quark) had to defy their culture- though it was largely shown as an acceptably different way to live (save the women thing which they progressively changed). When they did the right thing it was not always about overwriting the alien thing in favor of becoming more ‘human’ but rather of finding the meeting place between the two cultures that suited them best. Damar didn’t do the ‘right thing’ until it was the right thing for Cardassia, too. Many Cardassians and Bajorans dealt with their mutual past in a way that had nothing to do with humans at all, but still did things we recognize as good (or evil get out Dukat)

DS9 proved that while humans were still capable of terrible things once they get out of an easy, idealized situation, we are also capable of wonderful things. TNG gave us a future to hope for, but DS9 gave us something we could relate to now- and yet still gain hope from.


And the worst part of it is my only hope for salvation is the Federation.

Seriously, one of my favorite scenes from DS9.