Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Deep Space Nine, Season 5: For the Uniform
Deep Space Nine, Season 5
"For the Uniform"
Airdate: February 3, 1997
109 of 173 produced
109 of 173 aired


Captain Sisko risks everything in pursuit of Michael Eddington, his former security chief, who betrayed Starfleet to the Maquis.

 The nefarious Michael Eddington intimidates Captain Sisko with the latest Sega Genesis hardware.


Kevin: There are many things I like about this episode and many things that I do not. Let's start with the positives. I like that they follow up on the Eddington story. It would have been an obvious whiff to never pick this thread up again. I like a lot of that first conversation in the teaser. I like that the politics of the Maquis situation are presented as grayer than they have been in the past. I really liked Sisko's accusation that the Maquis are selling the refugees an unobtainable dream. It's an interesting layer to the discussion. Given that the bellicose nature of the Cardassians is taken as a given, I never thought the Maquis position was that thought out. Either they get the worlds by the treaty,  or go back to war over them. That's not to say I think the whole Maquis plot is pointless; more than one political movement in history has been built on shaky intellectual or rhetorical footing.

Matthew: I like that the Eddington story gets a follow-up. But I have to say, the operative word for me while watching it is "incredulity." How and when did the Eddington become the "Maquis Leader?" Sisko explicitly calls him this in the teaser. The story does nothing to back this notion up, and he is basically the only Maquis member to appear on screen. How and when did Eddington, whose training is in security, become the kind of computer expert who could plant several completely undetectable viruses on both Cardassian and Federation computers, that could disable everything? Not to mention becoming the level of biochemist to design a bio-weapon that could target one and only one form of humanoid life, while remaining completely harmless to all other forms of life, plant and animal? Why in the hell did Eddington install a holo-communicator on his little raider ship, except to use it to taunt Sisko in keeping with this script? And, even if you can buy Eddington having pre-emptively (by years) sabotaged the DS9 crew's equipment, how did he get a drop on the USS Malinche? Why hasn't the Maquis completely taken over the universe by this point?

Kevin: I also like most of the emotional story of Sisko and Eddington. I liked, for example, Sisko's scene in the holosuite. The frustration felt real for the character, and seeing Dax know how much to push versus how much to go along with Sisko was interesting, and I enjoyed seeing her throw Curzon's recklessness back in his face. Whatever else my opinion of the plot, it was a nice friendship moment for the two. I am torn on the issue of Sisko taking a half-strength Defiant out on the mission. On the one hand, they explicitly discuss why it's a bad idea, so I at least can't criticize it for being lazy writing, but given how completely they established how disabled the ship was, it does start to impugn Sisko's fitness to command. He has a guy repeating orders out loud just to carry out simple orders like not crashing into the docking pylon. I get what they were going for, but I think they pressed it to hard. Maybe if Sisko chased him on his own in a runabout, it could be a reckless, but not as reckless a decision.

Matthew: The half-strength Defiant thing was just plain stupid. Even if I could get behind a Starfleet Captain defying orders to pursue a personal vendetta (Sisko's first court-martial offense in this episode), I just cannot get behind every single person on the station crew blithely going along with it. What are their motives? O'Brien has a baby at home, and he is willing to risk his life on a hare-brained pursuit, against orders, of someone who is threatening Cardassians with a minor illness? Nog is going to derail his Starfleet career and die in the act? The communicator thing was stupid, too - since Nog was using a device to communicate anyway, there was no reason Sisko couldn't be relaying instructions to O'Brien directly (and couldn't they have given Nog a freaking headset?). Sisko's basic motivation for having Eddington as his white whale was pretty good. I was not a fan of Sisko's boxing scene for various reasons (some of which are acting ones), but I do agree that the idea of "Curzon" counseling Sisko is a good one.

Kevin: My problems with this episode are manifold, however. First, sending Sisko personally seems an insane risk, and a bit of the James Bond problem. A lot of the Maquis are Bajoran. Wouldn't they recognize their Emissary walking around the camp? Also, the Les Mis plot was sooooo heavy handed. Sisko made a valid point back in the teaser. Eddington didn't simply leave Starfleet to join the Maquis, like say Chakotay, he actively betrayed Starfleet. This isn't a loaf of bread is what I'm saying. It makes the metaphor hamfisted. That being said, I do think the attempt to portray Eddington as living out a romantic fantasy was an interesting choice. It provides at least some explanation for what he did, and it's interesting that it's not actually as noble as he thinks it is.

Matthew:  Yeah, Eddington's comparison of himself to Jean Valjean is so inapt as to call into question his intelligence. I liked the idea of him as a glory-hound with delusions of grandeur, but this idea conflicted with the notion that the Maquis would take him seriously as a leader, let alone their primary leader. Using the Breen rhyme was dumber than dumb, too. Is Eddington also The Riddler now? Does he want to be caught?

Kevin: Also, I am not a big fan of Sisko's solution. Far from reestablishing the balance in the DMZ, wouldn't Starfleet attacking a Maquis colony just make the Federation more of a target, not less? In the long history of violence on this planet, it rarely (read: never) deters further violence, in fact, quite the opposite. Also, I am annoyed at the sense of a "Maquis colony" somehow being read as a uniformly legitimate target. Recent geopolitical events have brought this issue in particular focus, but I think it remains a legitimate question that even if a civilian population has endorsed their most extreme faction as leader, does that make all civilians legitimate military targets? That's actually a question the episode should have really engaged in. If the only way to destabilize the Maquis was to directly target their civilian supporters, does that make them acceptable losses? And the less said about the leaden dialogue in the denouement, the better.

Matthew: Sisko's actions at the conclusion of this episode have me seriously considering a 1.  The notion that a Starfleet Captain would intentionally destroy a biosphere with a bio-weapon, and then retain his command with no consequences, is so frankly ludicrous that I am experiencing Abrams-level outrage (my highest Trek insult). If he had been bluffing, it might have just been silly. But to have seriously executed this plan (and for his crew to have aided and abetted him, and for Dax to laugh it out with Sisko to the credits) calls into question key ideological aspects of the franchise.

Kevin: Let me add this. One scene I absolutely LOVED was Odo's well-deserved "I told you so." That made me laugh out loud when I first saw it.


Kevin: Here, I have no complaints. Normally, we have found EXTREME SISKO to be a bit overdone, but, since it was largely confined to the scene at the end and the scene in the holosuite, it doesn't feel like too much, and the scene in the holosuite itself felt like a physical and emotional catharsis, so it didn't read as hammy. My plot issues aside, I think Brooks did a good job.

Matthew: The teaser was good for Brooks. The boxing was awful.  His latter confrontations with Eddington were mixed. As far as the boxing went, in addition to the line deliveries veering into ham-tastic territory, one of my main beefs with the scene was how bad Brooks was at boxing. So many of his blows seemed to completely miss the bag, or dissipate into nothingness. This is the guy who can cold-cock a Jem'hadar with a Trek-Fu backhand?

Kevin: I kind of wish this episode had had a more intimate approach, like say "Waltz" with Dukat, where the episode could have focused more on Eddington and his motivations. If nothing else, Marshall is a good actor, and it would have been interesting to see more than him acting in a ring on the bridge. The same goes for frequent guest star Eric Pierpont. I'll get to this in a second, but that holocommunicator was just weird, and it really hamstrung the actor.

Matthew: Everything I liked in Kenneth Marshall as the put-upon everyman in prior shows indicates why I don't like him in this role. He doesnt have the gravitas to be a convincing leader, or a convincing villain.

Production Values

Kevin: The holocommunicator makes its first and only appearance, thank the Prophets. I understand both Moore and Behr were in favor of something to break the mold of the viewscreen conversation, and I get that, but this was a not a great solution. It's too weird to actually use. It's kind of like in modern communication, absent a Skype conversation, video phones still haven't really caught on. It's too much work for too little benefit. Does Sanders really want to have to get out of his chair every time to have a conversation? Sisko having his back to his command crew in a crisis seems odd, too. Done well, with a competent actor on the other side (think Tomalak) the viewscreen exchanges drip with drama and also provide at least a background wall to look at, too.

Matthew: Indeed, why not have the actor in front of Sisko's chair?  It could be an interesting staging device to have the communicated character strolling around the bridge, talking to the captain like an angel or devil on his shoulder. I agree with the question of why they were all standing (and apparently have to physically press a button) while Sisko gets to sit. This was a solution looking for a problem. Also...

Kevin: The sequence of the Defiant departing DS9 was well done, plot issues aside. The viewscreen shot of the pylon and the Defiant flipping past it looked really cool. Also, the shot of the damaged USS Malinche looked really good as well. I have a set quibble though. Why would Sisko go to a holosuite for a punching bag? That seems like a waste of time and energy. Redressing a cargo bay to be the actual gymnasium was really the way to go there.

Matthew: The Badlands effects looked great - better than they ever have.


Kevin: I have decided that good acting and a few interesting effects shots are enough to salvage a three. The plot of a more extreme Maquis and a more extreme Starfleet response are thought provoking, even if the resolution is decidedly lacking. I remain sufficiently entertained to make this an average episode. If nothing else, I can't criticize the episode for lack of balls, just not enough brains to match.

Matthew: Had this episode ended with a mutiny of the crew, unwilling to carry out Sisko's wholly unethical and frankly insane orders, we might be having an entirely different discussion. Alternatively, a cout-martial would have sufficed. Either would have been a good story - a series-hero captain going too far and being checked on it by his crew or by his chain of command. As it stands, though, this story is a piece of garbage. I was considering a 2 because of decent production values, but then I recall the dingleberry holo-thing and the awful boxing, not to mention the paper-thin villain or how many incredulous things we need to believe about him even before Sisko's going off the deep end. Dax's laugh to the credits seals the deal. This is a 1 in my book. It is just as inconsistent with the franchise on an ethical level as "Threshold" is on a science level, or the new movies are on a story logic level. That makes our total a 4.


  1. I really dont like the way the Maquis have been portrayed in DS9. They just seem like a bunch of deluded and misguided idealists at best and a bunch of lawless, disgruntled terrorists at worst and Eddington's portrayal is superficial. If I had to base my opinion of the Maquis on how DS9 has portrayed them ,I would think they suck too.

    Their conflict, their raison de'etre, the reason they are in this, is not really fleshed out at all or mostly half assed in service of clichees delivered by Eddington and and this episode feels more like Sisko carrying out a personal vendetta and not so much about showing how and why the Federation, and Starfleet with it, are so hard set on destroying the Maquis or why the Maquis are seen as such a threat. They just did not sell them well to the audience.

    Contrast that with Ro Laren who in TNG was portrayed as a person who forever was carrying with herself the trauma and scar of the occupation and who, at a young age, watched her father be tortured and beaten to death in front of her eyes by Cardassians and who then eventually joined the Maquis for that reason. She wasnt just some asshole traitor out to betray the Federation, she was there for a cause. Same with the Voyager Maquis who were portrayed as essentially decent human beings who are fighting for something they believe in. I always skip this episode because frankly it just pisses me off :) And as you guys say, on the one hand Sisko et al are all about sticking by the rules etc and then they all risk their lives and disobey orders to settle a personal score.

    1. It's pretty sad that the best portrayal of the Maquis we got wasn't even of the Maquis - it was of the Native Americans in "Journey's End." As you say, the raison d'etre was much more apparent with them. I just can't get behind these morons who are so attached to a colony (giving us no indication of how long they've been there) that they will willingly be poor refugees amid the splendor and plenty of the Federation.

      Voyager at least had the benefit of not having the Maquis fight actual Maquis battles - they were just sort of generic "non-Starfleet" types, which, when it was actually dramatized, was a good conflict.