|Sisko and Gul Dukat, caught in the|
middle of some sabre-rattling.
A Cardassian ship leaving Deep Space 9 is destroyed - and this was no accident. O'Brien and Dax find evidence of an implosive device, one using technology unique to the Federation. Sisko braces for Cardassian reprisals against the Bajorans, but then he receives an unexpected visitor: Gul Dukat (Marc Alaimo).
Dukat tells Sisko that he knows who is responsible - Federation colonists, who are attempting to destabilize the treaty between the Federation and the Cardassians. He has evidence, too. The man who planted the bomb aboard the Cardassian ship confessed while in Cardassian custody - though he then conveniently "took his own life." But even as he presents this evidence to Sisko, Dukat finds that his own colonists are ignoring him.
Now Sisko finds himself in the middle of a brewing war between Cardassian and Federation colonists. As hostilities rise, Sisko needs to find a way to get the situation back under control. If he even should...
Commander Sisko: "You are the most joyless human I've ever met, and the least vulnerable," Dukat tells him, probably meaning it as a compliment. Sisko has some sympathy for the Maquis, particularly when he discovers that their claims about the Cardassians are true. He recognizes how ludicrous the Federation's viewpoint is, and erupts that in a situation such as this, "there are no saints! Just people... who are going to do whatever it takes to survive, whether it meets with Federation approval or not!
Major Kira: Her sympathies lie very much with the Federation colonists. Her experiences during the Occupation continue to be her touchstone in dealings with Cardassians, and she echoes Hudson's words about the colonists having "the right to defend themselves." She tells Sisko that whatever the truth may be, the Cardassians are the enemy, and that if he doesn't realize that, then he's "even more naive than (she) thought."
Odo: The events of this episode prompt an outburst from him, as he complains that the Starfleet rules about security tie his hands. "Let me be in charge of security," he demands, adding that at least under the Cardassian police state, the station had been safer.
Quark: Gives a Vulcan a lesson in logic. And he's right. His "Rules of Acquisition" show more logic than the Vulcan member of the Maquis does, and he is able to explain to her exactly why peace at this point is a more logical course than an escalation of violence would be. "Right now, the price of peace is at an all-time low," Quark tells her, whereas if the violence escalates, peace will be much more expensive.
Gul Dukat: Continues to emerge as an interesting adversary. Here, we see Dukat and Sisko interacting to a degree that has never been seen before. In this 2-parter, they emerge as having a lot in common - a realization which doubtless disturbs Sisko as much as it amuses Dukat. As the situation develops, Dukat also comes to realize that his own influence in the Cardassian government has waned, perhaps as a result of his having been seen to be too "soft" on the Bajorans. "There are those who believe I should have killed every Bajoran when I had the chance," Dukat tells Sisko, seeming to be ruminating on whether he actually should have done that even as he says the words. Marc Alaimo's performance gets better and better, and after this episode I find myself wanting to see Dukat and Garak sharing some real screen time together - The results would just about have to be fun to watch.
The first multi-part story since the 3-part season premiere, The Maquis is one of those key stories that shifts the series dynamic. Maybe just a little at first, but I cannot imagine that the events of this episode will not play a big part in the series' future development. I already know that this story lays down a lot of the foundation for Voyager, which began broadcasting the following year.
It is also a very good episode. This series, with its increasingly strong cast of both regular and recurring characters, is at its best in episodes that see those characters dealing with complex situations. Dukat is a central figure in this episode, and this time he's not the villain. Indeed, he and Sisko are made allies here, and work surprisingly well together... at least, up to the point at which Dukat sees that there are certain lines Sisko refuses to cross.
The episode also indicates that the Cardassian government is fragmented, apparently in the wake of the treaty with the Federation. We have already seen Cardassian dissidents. We have also seen Dukat involved in a conspiracy against one influential member of the government. Now Dukat finds himself on the other end of that, as he is excluded from some of the government's workings. It's hard to tell whether he's more upset about what occurs in this story, or simply at being excluded from the decision.
All of the story's multiple strands are brought together effectively. Most of the strands work quite well. Unfortunately, Sisko being forced to deal with an old friend who has joined the Maquis (hardly a spoiler, as most viewers will see the "twist" coming from Hudson's first scene) does not have the dramatic punch it might have had. There are two problems: Some cliched dialogue, particularly in the teaser to Part 2 ("It's not justice you're after, but revenge"), and am extremely wooden performance by Bernie Casey, who is easily outshone by Avery Brooks in every scene the two actors share.
Despite this, The Maquis is a series' highlight, and an episode that will doubtless pave the way for future developments. It's suspenseful, with some good twists and turns in the plot and an exciting climax. It's also a thoughtful piece, with a wonderfully melancholy ending as Sisko is left to contemplate whether he's avoided a war or merely "delayed the inevitable."
Overall Rating: 8/10.
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