|Sisko finds himself in conflict with Admiral Leyton.|
It's been four days since the power outage that led to the President's declaration of martial law, and Sisko finds himself increasingly troubled. The events surrounding the outage don't add up. If the Dominion was responsible, why was there no invasion? The power is back up, and Earth is now more fortified than ever - Hardly a set of circumstances that favors the enemy.
When Odo discovers a log of Red Squad, an elite group of Starfleet Academy cadets, beaming back on the night of the outage, Sisko becomes suspicious that another agenda was at work. When he interrogates the leader of Red Squad, his suspicions are confirmed. The Dominion didn't sabotage the power grid - someone at Starfleet did. Someone Sisko knows and respects...
Capt. Sisko: Spends the first part of the episode debating what to do with the information he has gathered. It doesn't take long for him to realize what Admiral Leyton (Robert Foxworth) has done, but he still respects the admiral and doesn't want to act against him. He does know his duty, however, and when he realizes that Leyton's plans go further than the enhanced security that's already in effect, he puts together a plan to expose his old friend. Avery Brooks is in fine form, showing both regret at being in opposition to Leyton and a righteous fury at Leyton's betrayal of his Starfleet oath.
Odo: Less prominent than in Part One, though he still gets some good material. Most notable is his loyalty to Sisko, which doesn't waver even though he shares Leyton's concerns about the Changeling threat. Amusingly, when he extracts evidence from Starfleet's security systems, he gives credit to Quark for being able to hack in so adeptly.
Pompous Earth Bureaucrat of the Week: Part Two thrusts Admiral Leyton into a full villain's role, though he remains sincere in his belief that he is doing good. He genuinely believes that Starfleet needs stronger leadership than that provided by President Jaresh-Inyo (and he might have a point there). He is likely sincere when he tells Sisko that he only intends for military control to be temporary... though Sisko knows as well as we do that such arrangements usually end up being permanent, at least until the next coup. Robert Foxworth continues to play the role straight-up, as a sincere man who believes he is acting honorably, and the scenes between Foxworth and Brooks are uniformly excellent.
Homefront built up a general atmosphere of fear. It was clear that Changelings were creating havoc on Earth, and it seemed equally clear that Leyton's reaction to this was likely to lead to further problems. By the end of the episode, the Federation President has granted Leyton his full goal and instituted martial law on Earth.
Paradise Lost picks up with that, and builds on the theme of fear and how people react to it. We are told that the population of Earth overwhelmingly supports Leyton's security measures. We even see Sisko's father cooperating with them, despite his stubbornness in Part One. The power outage caused enough fear for people to crave safety, even at the expense of some liberty. Exactly according to Leyton's plans.
Still, this episode mostly lacks the atmosphere of fear that pervaded the first part, and that's one reason why it's not quite as good. Part One built up the sense of paranoia, so that when Sisko's father cut himself with the knife, we were looking for him to be a Changeling right along with Ben. This episode mostly is about explaining the full plot. It moves quickly and is never dull, but there's little time for atmosphere.
There is one wonderfully atmospheric scene, though. Right at about the midpoint, after the first of the three excellent Sisko/Leyton scenes, Sisko goes for a night walk. He is greeted by a friendly face: O'Brien. Who can't possibly be on Earth. This is, of course, a Changeling. Sisko thinks of calling for help - but as Changeling O'Brien points out, he'll be long gone before anyone arrives. So Sisko grants his request for a little chat, in which the Changeling talks pleasantly about how much damage just a handful of their number have caused on Earth.
"We're smarter than solids. we're better than you. And most importantly, we don't fear you the way you fear us. In the end, it's your fear that will destroy you."
A nice, creepy reminder of the genuine Changeling threat in an episode otherwise focused on the internal threat of Leyton's coup.
And yes, as we discover, Leyton's plot is to stage a coup against the democratically-elected President. It's Deep Space 9's version of Seven Days in May, with the final scene between Sisko and Leyton a direct reflection of the final scene between Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas in that film. Right down to Sisko telling Leyton that he used to consider him a man of honor.
A good episode, and a well-scripted finale to a very fine two-parter. It isn't quite up there with Part One, but that shouldn't be held against it.
Episode Rating: 8/10.
Overall Rating for Homefront/Paradise Lost: 9/10.
Previous Episode: Homefront
Next Episode: Crossfire
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