Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Deep Space Nine 4x22 "For the Cause"

rating: ***

the story: Kasidy is suspected of being a member of the Maquis.

what it's all about: For whatever reason, Star Trek became hugely interested in double-crosses around this time.  The Maquis, members of Starfleet and the Federation who decided to declare war on the Cardassians, were ripe for this kind of character, whether the most famous example of Ro Laren (Next Generation's "Preemptive Strike") or the triple-agent Seska in Voyager.  Yet the most surprising betrayal came from the character no one saw coming: Michael Eddington.

Eddington had been a minor recurring character since the start of the third season.  I always liked him; he'd managed to be a security officer assigned to the station who was perfectly comfortable working alongside Odo, the Bajoran-affiliated constable who had previously chafed at any such Starfleet maneuvering.  The series had even had another double-cross in the first season, with a character who made a few appearances before revealing her true alliances, but her name and impact are minimal, and represent the nascent relative failures of what would later characterize the series. 

The thing that makes Eddington's turn so genius is that it exploits one of the weaker elements of the fourth season, attempting to introduce drama in the relationship between Sisko and Kasidy Yates, another character who debuted in the third season.  Kasidy was unique from the start, an independent freighter captain, a human at that, who not only managed to stick around, but establish the first Star Trek romance with a lead character that actually went not only more than one episode, but all the way to the end of the series.  But their chemistry was so instantly winning that it was a terrible idea to try and introduce friction into it.  This episode redeemed the idea, however, in not only exploiting Kasidy's unique status, but revealing that any mistrust cast her way was in fact a deliberate and calculated play on Eddington's part, who by this point knew the station as well as anyone.

But this isn't really Eddington's spotlight.  This is a necessary link in a greater story (like "The Muse" before it), with a dynamo payoff next season in "For the Uniform" (and to a lesser extent, "Blaze of Glory," which is kind of a rehash of the unrelated "Defiant," which was a Deep Space Nine Maquis story the series didn't technically have to do after having previously used the rebels to help set up Voyager, thereby proving that they really did have storytelling legs).  There's a b-story about Garak's pursuit of Dukat's daughter Ziyal (a permanent actor still had yet to be found to portray her, and so once again she won't be listed in the "notable guest-stars" section), which likewise diminishes the immediate impact of the episode, dulling it to look more routine than it really is.

"For the Cause" is no "Preemptive Strike" (much less "State of the Flux," the Voyager episode where Seska reveals her true loyalties), but that's in part because Eddington's story is really only just beginning.  Until this point he hadn't seemed like he had much of a point at all, just a pleasant familiar face who showed up every now and again, more akin to how recurring characters appeared in the original series than how Deep Space Nine radically changed the concept.  In a lot of ways, that made him the perfect character to revisit an aborted concept from the franchise's past: the Vulcan conspirator Valeris in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country had originally intended to be Saavik, a character Gene Roddenberry had decided couldn't be handled in such a way, as to his mind she'd reached "beloved" status in her several movies appearances.  Valeria made a huge impact in her single appearance; retaining the lack of expectation, Eddington allows fans to see the whole process, which makes the betrayal ten times worse...

The idea would be revisited again in the series with Martok, but handled totally differently, with far wider-reaching results.

criteria analysis:
  • franchise - The Maquis (although by no means the sole proprietors of this) claim another double-cross.
  • series - A brilliant repackaging of a recurring character.
  • character - It seems to be about one character, but turns out to be the defining moment, to that point, for Eddington instead.
  • essential - The weakness of the episode, actually, is that it seemed to think it was necessary to double-up on the swerve. 
notable guest-stars:
Ken Marshall (Eddington)
Penny Johnson (Kasidy)
Andrew Robinson (Garak)

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