WARNING: You have your duty, and I have mine. Mine is to write a review of DS9's "For the Cause"; yours is to avoid spoilers for the show if you so desire.
In brief: Nice work. A few rough spots, but some hard choices and nice feints.
Brief summary: As new Maquis activity threatens to affect a shipment coming through the station, Sisko is given evidence that his companion Kasidy Yates may be a Maquis smuggler.
I've always liked the Maquis.
Oh, I'm not sure I agree with everyone they do or think -- but dramatically, they're far more interesting to me than the Klingons, the Borg, or (by far) the Dominion. They're not villains you have to outwit; they're people that have to be out-justified. They're a challenge to Sisko and company's ideals and beliefs, not to their weaponry. That is the sort of thing I watch DS9 for, not technical challenges. That makes a show like "For the Cause" an interesting show to examine -- despite the fact that much of it doesn't fit the scenario I just described.
Most of the show, in fact, dealt with a far more personal issue: the collision between Sisko's private life and his public duty. While that sort of show's isn't uncommon, it's rarely been used for Sisko -- and it's also rare to have the person under suspicion be a reasonably long-term character. I remember having some suspicions about Kasidy Yates as far back as the start of this season -- but most of them were more glum suspicions that she'd turn out to be a Changeling, or something else more prosaic. I would have been bored by that; it's a more obvious tactic, and it implies an undue interest in Sisko on the part of the Dominion. Having Kasidy turn out to be a Maquis agent (and a low-level one at that) is far more fitting; independent ship captains and traders strike me as the sort of people who would be likely to sympathize with the Maquis's views about their homes, and she didn't seem to be targeting Sisko in any particular way. (Her superiors did ... but that's a story for later on.)
I think Sisko's early reactions were a bit overplayed -- not necessarily his easily-understood outburst to Odo and Eddington, but more his "curiosity" about the routes Kasidy used to go on her "rounds". I don't always act like the most subtle person in the world (as virtually anyone who knows me can attest), but heavens, I could have done better than that. Given Sisko's emotional state at the time, I can certainly accept that he'd be a bit on the clumsy side -- but that clumsy strikes me as overkill. (This may also be part of a growing sense I've had for half a season that Avery Brooks has moved from underplaying Sisko a bit to overplaying him quite a bit. Maybe not.) It certainly didn't mar the episode to any significant degree, especially since Kasidy did eventually catch on that Sisko probably knew something -- but it was one of the few notes to ring a little false.
Everything else, to paraphrase Sisko, continued building on itself extremely well until the pieces were all in place. The "health inspection" ploy and the way Sisko managed to get Kasidy out while still keeping tabs worked well, right down to Sisko's "do you have something to say?" to Eddington right before explaining himself. Sisko's snapping at Jake was entirely natural and understandable under the circumstances -- a combination of Sisko's worry and Jake's unwise hey-let's-joke-with-the-old-man-about-his-sex-life conversation. (If I ever have a kid and he/she does that, remind me to kill him/her at once. :-) ) And Eddington's semi-awkward request to be left behind on the station felt right for Eddington, or for almost anyone else; I know I wouldn't want to be the one stuck with the risk of accidentally killing my commander's girlfriend. Everything
was set up quite nicely, both emotionally and strategically.
That brings me to the big turnaround of the show: the theft of the replicators. I liked the way this was done an awful lot -- partly because it didn't turn out that Kasidy was squeaky-clean, but mostly because I was totally fooled as well. Eddington was a beautiful choice for a Maquis agent: his straight-ahead by-the-book manner in
previous episodes has lent him a certain air of being above the fray, his role in Starfleet security makes him an obvious choice for recruitment, and his lack of serious opinion about anything other than his job made even his "I have no opinions about the Maquis" plea have a certain ring of plausibility to it, when it should have been sending up warning flares. I did wonder about that statement just for a second, but only for a second -- I felt as though I knew Eddington well enough that it wasn't a sensible suspicion. This is the benefit of having a long-term character play a role like this -- unlike "Star Trek VI", when Valeris's very existence pointed a very large neon finger at her as the spy. I was suckered, and I haven't enjoyed being suckered that much in a very long time. (My thought when Sisko was wondering what was going on was that the Maquis simply wanted Sisko, not caring about the station one way or the other. The way they filmed worked better.) Eddington strikes me, quite frankly, as probably the best Trek "betrayer" character I've come across.
The aftermath of Eddington's betrayal was interesting -- and given the statements I made at the start of the review, you can probably guess that I enjoyed Eddington's closing speech a lo*. His sneering insistence that the Maquis is targeted because "nobody leaves Paradise" and gets away with it isn't a viewpoint I entirely agree with -- but given some of the people we've seen high up in Starfleet, I can't totally discount it, either. It was a challenge of a very different type from "how can we defeat the shapeshifter" -- it's an idea that must be
refuted, not suppressed. That gave me a new insight into the Maquis, and does a nice job of setting up future Maquis stories if they are to occur (yes, yes, yes, yes, yes -- please, sirs, I want some more) -- I couldn't ask for more than that. (Sisko's retaliatory threat wasn't bad, either.)
The personal aftermath of Sisko's decision didn't hit me as hard as the Sisko/Eddington exchange did, but it was necessary for closure. What would have really made things work here was one extra scene -- showing not Sisko's reaction, but Jake's. Jake's the one who set his father up with Kasidy in the first place, after all -- and he's been pushing for the two of them to get together for about a year. Between his experience in "Shattered Mirror" and here, he should have some really interesting reactions to mother-figures; I wish we'd gotten to see
That just leaves the "B" story, that of Garak and Ziyal. This felt a bit like filler to me, if interesting filler. It'll certainly make things more interesting when and if Dukat ever returns, but the main thing it had to distinguish itself was a lot of sparkling dialogue. (The elevator scene was great.) Apart from that, and Quark doing a nice job making Garak paranoid, this was more of a distraction than anything else.
Some short takes, then:
-- It was a pity to see Jake asking writing questions so quickly. After the events of "The Muse", I figured he'd wait a while.
-- Sisko's "I am a Starfleet officer, a paragon of virtue" was cute in itself in the teaser, but took on a whole new meaning later in light of Eddington's rant.
-- I also liked Kira's annoyance at Cardassia getting more replicators than Bajor got. The reason given for why was certainly valid, but it's just the sort of thing that ought to bug her.
-- I also liked the "come away with me to Risa" scene a great deal. Lots of subtext, and everyone there knew it.
That about covers it. "For the Cause" wasn't quite top-flight, but it was pretty close; almost at the level of "The Visitor" or "Hard Time", and certainly up with other Maquis-heavy shows like "The Maquis". Here's hoping there are more to come.
So, to close:
Writing: Hard choices, great dialogue, and nice twists. Can't argue with that.
Acting: Neither Penny Johnson (Kasidy Yates) nor Tracy Middendorf (Ziyal) were stellar, but both were good. Kenneth Marshall (Eddington) and Andrew Robinson were terrific, as were the regulars.
OVERALL: 9. Quite nice.
A battle with the Jem'Hadar.
Tim Lynch (Harvard-Westlake School, Science Dept.)
"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."