Hello everyone! I missed Monday, so the goods are coming to you Thursday instead!
Last week, I introduced a series I’m going to be doing for the next little bit, analyzing episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I’ll get right to the point, today’s episode is a great one! It takes place at the end of season 7, when things are really getting interesting. The United Federation of Planets is knee deep in a cross-quadrant war, and the politics are incredibly dense. This isn’t a great episode to start with (might I suggest Season 1, Episode 1 😉 ) but it does give a good flavour of things to come. In order to properly discuss this episode, I have to be able to provide context- so there will be spoilers. You have been warned!
This episode is particularly good because we get to see drama develop and play out between characters in very interesting ways. It also deals with the political culture of multiple species included but not limited to the Klingons, Cardassians, Founders, and Bajorans! Oh my!
We start off seeing Major Kira (Bajoran) and Legate Damar (Cardassian) returning from a sabotage mission. This is already a major demonstration of character development, as a mere season ago Damar wouldn’t have been caught alive cooperating with a Bajoran officer (because, you know, racism, war and all that good stuff). As it turns out, Damar is a much deeper character than one would’ve expected, a character who goes from following the word of his superiors blindly to questioning and then leading a full-blown rebellion!
Odo is also suffering deeply, since he has been affected with a virus which makes it difficult for him to hold form. This is very unfortunate, and although Odo hides his state well, but Garak (everyone’s favorite Cardassian
spy tailor!) has a keen eye and notices. This means we get to see them interact, and I feel they play well off each other. Odo and Garak are both skeptics who are defined by having been separated from their people for a great deal of time. However, while Odo is very straightforward in his manner, Garak is devious and lies almost all the time. Including in his promise to keep Odo’s condition a secret.
Meanwhile, on the station (not in a secret bunker) Doctor Bashir is trying to figure how to cure Odo’s disease. Here, we get to see how Bashir has gone from being an annoyance to Miles O’Brien to Chief O’Brien’s best buddy! How fun! Well, unfortunately, Bashir is making little headway, so they decide to try to lure an operative from Section 31. Section 31 is the Super Secret Spy™ section of Starfleet, and Bashir has correctly deduced that they are responsible for creating the disease that is infecting Odo, and also the rest of his people (yay genocide!)
Anyway, all the previous parts are cool, but in the interest of comparing Star Trek to real world stuff, we need to look at Ezri Dax’s (Trill) and Worf’s (Klingon) discussion of the Klingon Empire.
“I tend to look at the Empire with a little more skepticism than Curzon or Jadzia did. I see a society that is in deep denial about itself. We’re talking about a warrior culture that prides itself on maintaining centuries-old traditions of honor and integrity. But in reality, it’s willing to accept corruption at the highest levels… Who was the last leader of the High Council that you respected? Has there even been one? And how many times have you had to cover up the crimes of Klingon leaders because you were told that it was for the good of the Empire? I… I know this sounds harsh, but the truth is, you have been willing to accept a government that you know is corrupt. Gowron is just the latest example. Worf, you are the most honorable and decent man that I’ve ever met. And if you’re willing to tolerate men like Gowron, then what hope is there for the Empire?…I think that the situation with Gowron is a symptom of a bigger problem. The Klingon Empire is dying; and I think it deserves to die.”
This is a point with profound implications. Klingons are a species that we have seen since the very first Star Trek series, as they have evolved from an enemy to a crucial ally of the Federation. Their defining features include agression and yes, a strict moral code of honor and integrity. But as Ezri points out, this honor is perhaps more talk than reality. On the previous Star Trek series, The Next Generation, Captain Picard was forced to mediate the choice of the new Leader of the High Council, and when Gowron was chosen, the viewer was led to believe that he was a choice that would bring the dawn of a new era for the Klingon Empire. Fast forward to the end of Deep Space Nine, and Gowron seems to have been corrupted by his position. Ezri’s observations on the Klingon Empire are interesting especially in relation to real world leaders. The United States, like the Klingon Empire, appears to have central moral beliefs, such as freedom and equality. Yet upon further inspection these don’t seem to be all that telling of how the country actually functions and our leaders, like in the Klingon empire, are often corrupt. So why are we just sitting by and allowing this corruption? I guess that’s my little nugget to think about this week! Have a good one, and see you next time, when we get our Christmas Cheer on!