“The line between courage and cowardice is a lot thinner than most people believe.”
-- Jake Sisko
What is courage? Ask most people, and you’re likely to get the same answer, whether they’re five years old or fifty. It will have something to do with not being afraid in the face of danger. Sounds right, but it’s not. Courage is about facing one’s fears, whatever those might be, and doing what needs to be done anyway. Without fear, there is nothing to overcome, and thus courage could not exist. Unless one feels fear, or understands danger, they will never truly be brave.
“I am a fool.”
“You’re in love. Which I suppose is the same thing.”
-- Worf and Dax
The introduction of Worf was also intended as an introduction for a bunch of new viewers that Paramount’s brass thought would follow their favorite Klingon to our favorite space station. As such, DS9 can be approached through the Worf lens, starting your viewing experience with season four’s premiere, and skipping over the sometimes very rocky first three years when the show was still finding its voice. While this does miss out on some truly classic episodes, it would be a fun way to come to this particular hour.
“We will both keep the predators away.”
-- Lt. Commander Worf
Let’s get the review part out of the way right up front: This is an excellent hour of television. It came as something of a shock to me that the creators of the show weren’t as big fans as I was. They saw the potential for a perfect ten, and when the episode turned out to be an eight, or an eight and a half, they were disappointed. They wanted the claustrophobia heightened, the emotions deeper. It’s nearly impossible to view your own work subjectively. Like Behr, I tend to see only the flaws in my own stuff. While it’s true there are things that could have been done better, each of them would have been difficult, if not impossible, in the era of television in which DS9 existed.
“So, let me get this straight: Al we have to do is get past an enemy fleet, avoid a tachyon detection grid, beam into the middle of Klingon headquarters, and avoid the Brotherhood of the Sword long enough to set these things up and activate them in front of Gowron?”
-- Chief Miles O’Brien
Let’s get something out of the way right up front. Starfleet makes no sense as a military organization. I know, this isn’t exactly a revelation. I’m not talking about the mayfly-level lifespan of the red shirts, or their insistence at beaming down to new planets without first checking for breathable atmosphere. I’m talking about the trope that exists in nearly every show which insists the main characters do everything.
“I’ve spent most of my life bringing people to justice. Now that it’s my turn, how can I run away?”
-- Constable Odo
When viewed as a whole, season four is a definite oddball in the tapestry of DS9. The reason for this is as simple as it is dreaded: executive meddling. Stressed over poor ratings and their flagship program going off the air, the brass at Paramount made some demands of the DS9 writing staff. While Behr and company wanted to bridge seasons three and four with the story of the Dominion coming to Earth (what became the two-parter nestled in the middle of season four's “Homefront” and “Paradise Lost”), executives didn’t want a cliffhanger. They also wanted something big to “shake things up.”
“That’s who I am. That’s what I do. I’m a businessman, and more than that, I’m a Fer,engi businessman. Do you know what that means? It means that I’m not exploiting people at random. I’m doing it to a specific set of rules -- the Rules of Acquisition. And I won’t disregard them when I find them inconvenient.”
It’s difficult to know what our relationship with our bodies is going to be like in the future. As technology advances, even what we consider to be our bodies has changed. Medical implants, from simple prosthetics to replacement organs, are already considered part of us. What will change as the items go into the more fantastical? When I finally get my chainsaw shark-cannon arms, will they truly be considered me?
“I canceled my death for you. I was really looking forward to it.”
The more experienced I become in my chosen vocation, the more I appreciate the slow rehabilitation of Dr. Julian Bashir. Other than a misstep next season which the actor hated, the character has steadily progressed from an arrogant, sexually aggressive naif to arguably one of the most heroic characters in science fiction. It was a pretty steep climb, too, when you remember just how obnoxious he was in the early going, and how unbearably creepily he treated Dax. This episode, nestled here at the end of the fourth season and serving to remind us just how monstrous the Dominion can be, is arguably the most important Bashir episode, harnessing his foibles and virtues into a compelling portrait of a flawed hero.
“I am First Omet'iklan, and I am dead. As of this moment, we are all dead. We go into battle to reclaim our lives. This we do gladly, for we are Jem'Hadar. Remember: victory is life.”
-- First Omet’iklan
Great villains are inevitably living on borrowed time. I’m not talking about the oncoming train in the form of our hero, either heroically chopping off a hand, revoking diplomatic immunity, or covering himself in mud. I’m talking about the urge for the author to humanize them.
“Why is the Federation so obsessed with the Maquis? We've never harmed you. And yet, we're constantly arrested and charged with terrorism. Starships chase us through the Badlands, and our supporters are harassed and ridiculed. Why? Because we've left the Federation, and that's the one thing you can't accept. Nobody leaves paradise. Everyone should want to be in the Federation! Hell, you even want the Cardassians to join. You're only sending them replicators, because, one day, they can take their rightful place on the Federation Council. You know, in some ways, you're even 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.”
-- Lt. Commander Michael Eddington
Eddington was practically a Chekhov’s Gun in human form. When he was introduced in the beginning of Season 3, he was sort of a do-over for the late, entirely unlamented Lt. Primmin, addressing the very valid concern of would Starfleet really allow the security of an important outpost be entirely run by an official of a foreign government? The answer, of course, is no and having another foil for a character as prickly as Odo is bound to bear some fruit.
“Someone once said, ‘Life is a search to find the peace that you once had when you were safe inside your mother.’”
-- Lwaxana Troi
“Write what you know” is the most common piece of advice writers get. It’s also terrible advice, since it would completely eliminate a ton of genres a lot of people really like. It’s also part of the reason so many fictional characters are professional writers. Writers might not know what it’s like to be a cop in inner-city Detroit, or an architect in Zurich, or a masked vigilante in Hong Kong, but we have a pretty good idea of how a writer conducts their day-to-day. When I started, I promised myself I wouldn’t write about writers, but as my career as progressed, I’ve found it almost unavoidable.