Mark Watches ‘Deep Space Nine’: S02E20 – The Maquis, Part I

In the twentieth episode of the second season of Deep Space Nine, EVERYTHING IS SUPER MESSED UP. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.

Trigger Warning: For discussion of terrorism, colonization.

I certainly did not expect “Journey’s End” to set up the following episode of Deep Space Nine, BUT WELCOME TO THIS WONDERFUL WORLD. It’s impossible for me to not compare the two episodes since they both directly address the treaty between the Federation and the Cardassians. Where “Journey’s End” aims to be a study of the complications of the new demilitarized zone, I feel like “The Maquis, Part I” ACTUALLY ACCOMPLISHES THIS. It’s a much more detailed look at the detrimental affects of the treaty, and it’s definitely not weighted down by the horribly offensive treatment given to the Native population.

This is a complicated story, so let me start off by saying that I’m thankful that it’s not going to be contained to a single episode. There are a number of concerns at work here, and as far as I can tell, the writers are giving equal screen time to all parties involved. The colonists are the focus alongside the Cardassians, as well as Federation interests. That balance makes this situation all the more complex, sure. But I think that’s a good thing. I believe that the moral and political complexity of “The Maquis” makes for a more interesting story. Right from the beginning, we’re challenged by the narrative. How can a man dressed in a Starfleet uniform be responsible for setting a bomb that destroyed a Cardassian ship? We know for certain he was behind it, yet it’s still shocking to think of.

To this episode’s credit, that’s an integral part of the tension. The lines between good and bad, aggressor and oppressed, colonizer and indigenous, are very often well-defined within the Star Trek universe. That hasn’t always been the case, of course, and there have been interesting episodes that toyed with this. (Both intentionally and, unfortunately, entirely unintentionally.) But “The Maquis” asks us to consider what would happen if there were terrorists within the Federation. And would they even be considered “terrorists” if they were merely defending themselves from the encroaching threat of the Cardassian occupation? I don’t think I have the answer yet, but this is the start of a very difficult conversation.

Which is why this is so much better than “Journey’s End,” y’all! The newly minted Cardassian-Federation treaty has real, demonstrable implications for those in the demilitarized zone or the colonies who now suddenly find themselves ruled by a new force. As Commander Hudson describes it, all of the colonies who are now part of the Cardassian empire have every right to believe that the Cardassians won’t allow them to stay. Indeed, if what he says is true, then it sounds like the Cardassians are already repeating themselves, treating these new colonies as they did the Bajorans. What of the colonies now under Federation control? Well, they’ll be heavily protected and allowed to exist as they always have, so they have no real reason to oppose the treaty. So who is left to bear the burden of this act done for the “greater good”?

All of those previously a part of the Federation who have now been given to the Cardassians, many who probably had no real representation during the process.

Now, “The Maquis, Part I” is still ambiguous about a lot of things. Are the Cardassians really antagonizing these new colonies? I wouldn’t be surprised if they were; their track record certainly suggests they’re capable of it. But we don’t know for certain. Do we know whether or not the Bok’nor was transporting weapons into the demilitarized zone in order to arm the Cardassians illegally? No, not yet, but again, entirely possible. And what if none of that actually happened? Does that mean that William Samuels bombed that ship for no justifiable reason at all? I don’t know! That’s a scary thought, but at this point, the first half of the story doesn’t give us enough confirmation of anything to make it easier to categorize what’s happening here.

And then there’s Quark. In his pursuit of business, it’s now obvious that he may have helped arm a terrorist group. I wasn’t surprised by Sakonna being a part of the Maquis, but I’m curious what Quark’s role will be in the second half of the episode. Will he be held responsible for what he’s done? Hell, at the very least, Gul Dukat is probably going to want his head. But thus far, Quark has gotten away with his business transactions, so I don’t know that he’ll be accountable for what he’s done. However, I might be underestimating Sisko’s anger here. Maybe Sisko will be the one to WIPE THE FLOOR WITH QUARK’S CORPSE. Oh, Sisko, you are a force of BEAUTY in this episode. I think I’m so used to the lack of conflict between the crew on The Next Generation that I feel exhilarated when, for example, Kira and Sisko shout at one another for an extended length of time. On top of that, Sisko’s conversations with Commander Hudson are brilliantly tense because there’s such an open contempt for Starfleet from Hudson. (HOW DID I NOT SEE THIS FORESHADOWING.) I never get the sense that Sisko is a Starfleet devotee, either, and since we’ve seen how willing he is to bend the rules, it makes me wonder how he’s going to react to all of this. I mean… he’s rescuing Gul Dukat!!! HE DOESN’T EVEN LIKE GUL DUKAT.

What an ending, y’all. After chasing the Maquis down, we find out that CAL HUDSON IS PART OF THEM. You realize that means he finally gave up on Starfleet, right? And that his initial meeting with Sisko was probably an attempt to recruit him, right??? Oh my god, I cannot wait for the next episode. THIS IS GOING TO BE SO EXCITING!

The video for “The Maquis, Part I” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– I will be at numerous conventions in 2016! Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be Death Note and Neon Genesis Evangelion. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
- Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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