Friday, December 20, 2013

Deep Space Nine, Season 4: For the Cause
Deep Space Nine, Season 4
"For the Cause"
Airdate: May 6, 1996
92 of 173 produced
92 of 173 aired


The station is going to be shepherding a series of industrial replicators to Cardassia to help them rebuild after their war with the Klingons. Expecting the Maquis to attempt to interfere, the station is on high alert. More problematic, though, is the person Odo and Eddington single out as a suspected Maquis: Kasidy Yates.

In the future, all sports are inscrutably embellished and have ridiculous headgear. It's a thing.


Kevin: I don't have a big problem with spoilers, and actually get kind of annoyed with people who do, especially for long released material. A week or two after an episode of a show airs and I know it's on your DVR? Sure, you should be protected from spoilers. I have no obligation, however, to make sure that a normal conversation that ends up discussing a movie that's been out for ten years and that you had no actual plans on seeing doesn't reveal a spoiler. I feel this way for two reasons. One, it's a ton of work, especially if I know I won't see it for a while, to avoid the spoiler that long. Second, as articulated in a pretty good piece in The Onion A.V. Club, if all a show has going for it is the surprise, it's probably not that good. This is a roundabout way introducing my chief complaint about this episode. The only thing it has going for it is its alleged surprises, that Kasidy and Eddington are working for the Maquis. Once you know that, the episode has no interest, and even though the episode is not "bad" by any stretch, I normally skip this on rewatch. It's not that I don't rewatch other episodes with twists or reveals. It's that in those episodes, seeing the groundwork being laid or understanding why the twist is happening holds my interest. It really feels like they picked two names out of a hat. With Kasidy, it makes a little more sense, since pitting his feelings for her versus his duty is dramatically interesting, and it has the potential to be a fun look at the civilian politics of the Maquis. Eddington was done because they weren't dumping a main cast member. Maybe they could have laid the groundwork in earlier episodes. Maybe his statement that he is content, or at least accepts, that he will never be a captain was a lie. But as it stands, the subspace conversation at the end is not enough to give the betrayal teeth. And by the way, invoking the Borg has to be the Godwin's law of the 24th century. I can understand if the somewhat homogenized and high-tech culture of the Federation may put people off, but the Borg? Come on. Especially aimed at Sisko, it felt like a cheap shot, just designed to hurt. That could actually be what it was, but without some basis for wanting to make a personal attack on Sisko, it doesn't come off.

Matthew: Yeah, I think there were two interesting things that could have been done with this story. One would have been to show WHY Eddington fell away from an article of faith that he had been invested enough in to follow it through years of Starfleet Academy and two promotions. His venomous speech at the end was just weird, because it had received no development prior. The second interesting story here is how Sisko will react to someone he's involved with being on the wrong side of his orders. That one was developed pretty well. The third story? You know, the one about Garak and Ziyal? Nope. Sorry. Not interesting.

Kevin: As for the Kasidy and Sisko story, I think it just pulled a punch. If nothing else, once Eddington presents evidence that Kasidy is involved, wouldn't Sisko have a duty to distance himself from the investigation to prevent exactly what happened? Also, having her run supplies but nothing else neuters the conflict. At worst, she is aiding isolated civilians. I would have liked a more direct confrontation between the two, both as romantic partners and especially as she is a captain of her own ship. Sisko has certainly bent the rules to help people in need, and if that was really all she's doing, it seems a bit hypocritical to come down so hard. Also, shouldn't there be consequences for Sisko? He did let her go in the beginning because she asked and he did let her crew get away. I will say, I did like the final scene in the cargo hold as part of their relationship, if not the broader political picture. Showing that she struggled to balance what she wanted with her feelings for Sisko makes her more interesting too.

Matthew: I would have liked a more full-throated defense of her actions. She should say that she is not beholden to Starfleet's policies, and that the galaxy is a much bigger place than just the Federation. She has the right to transact business and make a living (you know, in a world with unlimited everything, but whatever...). Something. Instead, she just says she's sorry, which tacitly validates Sisko's position. She also doesn't acknowledge her lying throughout the episode. They could have made her character a bit darker that they did here. Either way, I like that they injected some conflict into their heretofore boring relationship.

Kevin: I liked that they followed up on the thread of the Maquis after the issues we've seen for Cardassia, but again I would have liked the opportunity to develop some complexity in the Maquis story. Given the current state of Cardassian affairs, the continued militarization of the Maquis starts to ring a little hollow. Shouldn't they have stopped, having essentially won, if their real goal was peaceful existence? What are their interactions with the Klingons? Would there be a schism between various factions?

Matthew: Frankly, at this point, the Maquis plot has been obviated by events earlier in the season. It's just not terribly interesting any more. I like your suggestions for angles to punch it up. None of them are here in this episode.

Kevin: The Tora Ziyal plot is a bit unrelated, but not unenjoyably so. They aged the character to open more plots, like the eventual romance with Garak. I am not the biggest fan of that thread, but it doesn't sadden/anger me like some other choices. Maybe they could have kept her the same age and given her a relationship with Jake. As it stands, it was fun watching Garak be paranoid, and I liked the idea that sentient reptiles would recreationally recline on heat rocks. The scene in the tailor shop with Garak, Kira, and Quark, and the wheels within wheels analysis was pretty funny, too.

Matthew: Does Ziyal want to do it with Garak? Because that's all I could think when this C story was on screen. This plot failed to develop in an interesting Rom-Com sort of way (no, not Quark's brother Rom...). I didn't find Garak's worry over Ziyal's murderous intentions convincing. Why? BECAUSE HE'S A FREAKING SECRET AGENT WHO'S KILLED GOD KNOWS HOW MANY. How could she present any threat to him? If he had thought she was spying, that would be one thing. But the physical threat is just ludicrous.


Kevin: I think Avery Brooks played every thing well this time. He does simmer much better than boil, and especially in the first conversations in his quarters and over subspace, then the final conversation in the cargo hold, I really thought he played the internal conflict well. I remember reading in a TV Guide or something that Penny Johnson was not coming back as Kasidy Yates in Season 5, and that made me sad. They didn't really give a reason for why she was doing what she was doing, but I think Johnson infuses the character with such life that I usually go along with whatever she is doing. I found her half of the final scene to be particularly well done.

Matthew: Definitely agreed on Avery Brooks. He's so much better at Inner Conflict than at Shouty Sisko. Penny Johnson was good, but was held back by an anemic script.

Kevin: Of the three actresses to play Ziyal, Tracy Middendorf was my least favorite. I think Cyia Batten did a great job, and I will also like Melanie Smith a lot, but here, I just don't think she got through the makeup or into the universe. It wasn't bad acting, it just wasn't good enough acting to really engage me, especially sitting opposite the always delightful Andrew Robinson. As for Kenneth Marshall, I think he did a good job, and I enjoyed watching him be all shifty, but honestly like Penny Johnson, there wasn't really enough in the script for him to go off of.

Matthew: Sigh. What a waste of Andrew Robinson. Middendorf was a non-entity. I think Kenneth Marshall played it really well until his final speech. The vitriol just rang hollow. I would have preferred it if he had been more cool, as he had been to that point in the show.

Production Values

Kevin: The bridge of the Xhosa bothered the hell out of me. It's just a console in an empty room. There's isn't even a Captain's chair. Seriously. I get re-purposing, but don't be so cheap. The badlands effects are what they always are. The other new set was the Cardassian sauna holosuite program, which is obviously, generic cave. It was a good cave, but I think it should have been an outdoor set. The image of them basking in a bright desert would have been more appropriate.

Matthew: I actually kind of liked the Xhosa bridge. I figure they've all read the ergonomic research on standing desks. Anyway, the Xhosa exterior was an interesting and pretty well done CGI model. The Vulcan freighter looked neat, too. The conversation with Eddignton was one of the longest interactions between an actor and an on-set screen in franchise history. It struck me as a bit odd.


Kevin: Like I said, the reveal doesn't have enough teeth to be really gripping, but this still isn't a bad episode. Everyone does the best they can with what's on the page, and the B-plot while unrelated led to a few fun moments, so in the balance, this is a tepid 3 from me. I would argue it's probably below average overall, but by not bad enough to merit a 2.

Matthew: I agree with the 3 for a total of 6. There were plenty of nagging issues, but the overall execution of the show as competent enough to squeak into average territory. A lot of stuff happens, and it's all pretty well represented on screen. The various story whiffs are balanced by a nice (and overdue) injection of drama into the Yates-Sisko relationship.


  1. I have to agree. I had not seen this episode before but was already aware of certain of the plot elements having seen future episodes. And I agree once you know the pay off the tension in this episode is just not the same and hence not really rewatchable.

  2. I agree with all your guys' interpretation but I must say love this episode because "it works". I liked how the Kassidy story was treated, her reaction to being caught, that she had integrity enough to return, Sisko's reaction to her; how she was finally discovered, how Odo and Eddington had a suspicion that she may be involved. How it all unraveled. That was cool and entertaining.

    I also liked that Eddington turned out to be the Maquis. I dont know why. They had given the actor some extra lines earlier and he had presence and to see him then turn out to be the Maquis traitor was interesting.

    What I did not like is how he portrayed the Maquis. Or how the writers did.

    Maybe it is my bias for Voyager and the fact that half of the main characters in that show, some of whom are my favorite Voyager characters, were Maquis,

    Maybe it is knowing that these people, these Maquis who just happened to find themselves some 70,000 light years across the galaxy due to an accident but who could very well be on that very ship with Eddington, WERENT the garbage terrorists DS9 made them out to be.

    Maybe because in VOY, the Maquis were fleshed out as real three dimensional characters with their own stories and trajectories and causes etc., but I just did not like how they were treated in DS9. How the entire maquis acr was treated and then abruptly ended to make room for the Dominion.

    In the end when Eddington was giving Sisko his ridiculous, vague speech. "Oh, what have we done to you, why are you mean to us? Whine, whine, whine, I was really disappointed, because he didnt do shit for the Maquis cause. It had no substance. He did not explain anything at all, such as why he was doing it, what they were fighting for, what the issue was, what the CAUSE was - which is the TITLE of the episode!!

    He just sounded like some disgruntled member of a rogue faction needing to break free because they wanna live in anarchy and defy "Paradise" to assert their independence blah blah yawn - instead of being portrayed as a passionate counter-insurgent, an activist and fighter doing this for a specific reason, a specific cause: namely to defend those the Federation has seemingly abandoned to maintain some ridiculous treaty with the duplicitous, genocidal Cardassians (a species I especially love to hate and nothing made me happier than to see their entire world in shambles at the end of the show, but that's another discussion. I digress).

    Anyway, the result of this half-assed, luke-warm treatment of the Maquis was that the writers failed to sell us their fight, their cause in order to gain our sympathy.

    The Maquis seemed to be more about ego than cause and Sisko's "I am going to chase you to the end of the world" line was sooo dramatic and obviously also about ego - his ego - and as we later find out, half the reason he is chasing Eddington is because Eddington defied him and bruised his ego. In other words, the conversation with Eddington and Sisko, in the end, was more like a penis measuring contest and i was totally expecting one of them to take out the measuring tape.

    And that, for me, is the flaw of this episode. I felt the Maquis were just not as positively portrayed in DS9 as in VOY and that disconnect has always bothered me.

    1. Cogent analysis. This story lives or dies by how much we identify with the Maquis. If they're just villains, they're not interesting. We needed to have things made more ambiguous by their having a valid point. As you say, Voyager made that point better than DS9.