I noted in the previous Deep Space Nine write-up that the big surprise that Cal Hudson, that friend of Sisko’s that we never even heard about before but was sympathetic to the Maquis and was played by recognizable actor Bernie Casey, was somehow one of the big leaders in the Maquis wasn’t exactly a surprise. But that was Part 1, and the people responsible for the series felt that for a reoccurring problem like the Maquis, it would be a good idea to expand the story out to two parts.
Besides, I think I liked this one better.
Now, much of what does play out here is, again, not overly surprising. Sisko keeps trying to talk Cal down, asking him to put his Starfleet uniform on because that uniform stands for something, and Cal keeps refusing up until he finally vaporizes his uniform with a hand phaser to Sisko’s disappointment. Sisko may not be the most Starfleet of Starfleet guys around–he has to be a lot more flexible in everything he does due to where he’s stationed–but as we’ve seen before, he’s not someone who believes in taking his uniform off for anything, no matter how much he’s told it might be helpful. Being in Starfleet is very much a part of Sisko’s core identity. He found a purpose there, and it isn’t that surprising that Jake was so reluctant to tell his dad he didn’t want to go to the Academy himself.
Cal clearly disagrees, and it’s not because he no longer really holds onto his ideals. No, it’s the opposite of that, and Cal’s own ideals mean he has to help the Maquis under the suspicion that the Cardassian Central Command has been quietly slipping weapons into the demilitarized zone to get some fighting going on against Federation colonists.
Small problem there: the Maquis are right about the weapons smuggling.
Most of what follows as far as Cal and Sisko are concerned is Sisko and Cal each trying to convince the other to join their own respective sides and nothing much happening. The episode even ends with a dogfight in space where neither Cal nor Sisko can put a killshot in on the other and Cal escapes to presumably cause more problems in the future, a situation that leaves Sisko to wonder if he prevented a war or just postponed the inevitable.
So, what made this episode better? In short, it was the smaller, character-based scenes. The Maquis are holding Gul Dukat somewhere, and he’s mentally strong enough to resist a Vulcan mindmeld. By that point, Sisko has heard from his own Starfleet superiors that they believe the Marquis are just a bunch of malcontents that can be talked down. Likewise, Dukat’s own government is looking to scapegoat him for the weapons smuggling. Odo discovered Quark was sort of selling weapons to the Maquis, and Quark does fess up to keep out of trouble. That all leads to the character moments, most involving Sisko, and the majority of them involving Dukat.
So, we see Sisko saying the real problem with Starfleet is its headquarters is on Earth where there’s no poverty or hardship, so they don’t know what it’s really like for the Maquis, and Sisko is clearly angry about all that. We get Quark talking to the captured Vulcan and pointing out that he, the Ferengi, understands how illogical the whole situation is far better than the Vulcan woman. We get Dukat explaining how Cardassian justice works, how essentially anyone who goes on trial is guilty as far as Central Command is concerned. And we get Dukat and Sisko agreeing to work together to stop a war, where Dukat will help Sisko stop the weapons smuggling and Sisko will help Dukat stop the Maquis.
And, as noted before, there are benefits to having Dukat along for the ride to confront people since he’s a hell of a lot scarier than Sisko could ever hope to be. No wonder the guy had some many fans when this show was still on the air. He’s not quite an enemy here, but I wouldn’t begin to say he and Sisko are even close to friends.
So, while the Maquis are still out there somewhere, it does seem as if the real treasures to be had here are the character beats. DS9 was very much a different kind of show, so it makes some sense that issues like this will come back to haunt Sisko and other Federation types for some time to come.
And the Maquis isn’t even the real enemy for this series…