Voyager, on a mission to a random planet for food supplies, runs into the Kazon Nistrim, a rival sect to the bad guys from “Caretaker”. After leaving the planet, Voyager finds a crippled Kazon ship with a mostly dead crew — the result of an accident after trying to install a replicator from Voyager. Janeway, Chakotay and Tuvok eventually figure out that Ensign Seska (Martha Hackett) a former Maquis crew member and Bajoran who had a thing with Chakotay back in the day has been working with the Kazon. Turns out Seska’s really a Cardassian agent who was on Chakotay’s ship as a spy and objects to Janeway’s initial decision to strand the ship. After she’s discovered, Seska beams to a Kazon vessel led by Maje Cullah (Anthony De Longis) and escapes.
Why it’s important
This episode, even more so than the pilot, sets up the Kazon to be Voyager’s main bad guys for season two, which we’ll discuss in later reviews. Seska’s defection and assistance to the Kazon Nistrim is a huge domino. We also learn just how nasty the Kazon can be, especially when Culluh has the sole survivor from the crippled ship killed so he can’t provide any information to Janeway. And it shows the Kazon’s near obsession with stealing Voyager’s advanced technology, another major theme in the coming season.
Finally, while it’s not the first episode to explore this angle, “State of Flux” shows how Voyager’s mission is so very different than what we’ve seen before on Star Trek. That a starship crew would beam to a planet and pick berries (among other things) is at least a nod toward the show’s unique premise.
What doesn’t hold up
I really like this episode, so I won’t trash it’s somewhat sketchy premise too much, but Seska’s ability to get around Voyager’s security systems, steal a replicator, etc., is pretty amazing. It either means Tuvok’s not very good at his job or that Seska’s a freaking genius. Keep in mind that Seska 1) was able to contact the Nistrim without anyone noticing 2) got a replicator to them without anyone noticing and 3) had an emergency beam-out program that knows to send her to the exact coordinates of Cullah’s ship. The first two points would be extremely difficult and the third would be all but impossible.
After a lot of episodes in season one that could have just as easily been done on TNG, “State of Flux” does a nice job utilizing Voyager’s premise. Even if Seska’s abilities and methods are unbelievable, it’s totally believable that a member of the Maquis crew — especially, a Cardassian operative within it — would object to Janeway’s initial decision to maroon Voyager and take action against her. And while Seska wouldn’t be considered among Trek’s top villains, Martha Hackett does a nice job playing the role and is effective when her true identity is discovered.
This is also a nice episode for Robert Beltran and the Chakotay character, who would go on to become the most neglected character in the cast in Voyager’s later years. The Chakotay/Tuvok relationship was always one of the show’s most interesting, and seeing the two of them work together to find out who was in contact with the Kazon was great. Chakotay asking Tuvok if he was easy to fool was a nice moment to end this episode.
Coming later this week …
More fun with the Kazon, and a guest appearance by a DS9 regular.
A Maquis ship, after a short battle with a Cardassian vessel, is overtaken by a weird energy wave. Shortly thereafter, the Intrepid-class U.S.S. Voyager, under the command of Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) leaves DS9 to find the ship — as her chief of security Tuvok (Tim Russ) was onboard the Maquis ship, undercover — and is overtaken by the same wave and then sent 70,000 light years into the Delta Quadrant, by an alien-looking array. The responsible party runs tests on the Voyager crew — having already done so on the Maquis crew — and sends them all back to their ships, except for Voyager’s Ensign Harry Kim (Garrett Wang) and the Maquis B’Elaana Torres (Roxann Dawson). Janeway forms a temporary alliance with the Maquis commander, Chakotay (Robert Beltran). With tensions high, the ships encounter a junk dealer named Neelix (Ethan Phillips) who suggests that Kim and Torres were likely sent to a nearby planet by the Caretaker (who runs the array) in the care of a race called the Ocampa. Neelix agrees to help Janeway and heads for the planet — where he starts a brief and nasty encounter with the Kazon-Ogla to rescue his lover, Kes (Jennifer Lien) an Ocampa captured by the Kazon. Neelix wants to leave immediately, but Kes agrees to help Janeway. Using the transporter, they make it into the Ocampa’s underground civilization (below the Kazon, who don’t have transporters), powered by the Caretaker, and eventually rescue Kim and Torres. As Voyager heads back to the array to try to get home, the Kazon decide it’s time to take over the array. The Maquis ship is lost in the ensuing battle — but all of Chakotay’s crew get onboard Voyager — and Janeway decides to destroy the array to keep it from falling into Kazon hands (in which they’d likely use it to destroy the Ocampa). Stranded in the Delta Quadrant and with a divided crew the episode ends with Janeway setting a course … for home.
Why it’s important
All pilot episodes are pretty significant. “Caretaker” sets the stage for the next seven years of Voyager — why the ship is in the Delta Quadrant, who runs it (under Janeway’s command), who are the near-term bad guys (the Kazon) and who will be Voyager’s guide (Neelix).
Voyager, of course, is a funny series in that many of the aliens we meet along the way are never (or rarely) seen again — as they’re so far away from the rest of the Federation. And the storylines often don’t pick up threads from previous series. This is a note to readers who wonder why we’ll review fewer Voyager episodes — especially in the early seasons — than DS9 or TNG.
What doesn’t hold up
Well, first of all, why would the Caretaker — while searching the entire galaxy for a way to procreate — select the same spot twice? After grabbing Chakotay’s ship, shouldn’t he move on? We learn later he grabbed other ships from the Badlands. Maybe the Caretaker can only grab ships from plasma fields?
Secondly, there’s the whole matter of water being at a premium with Neelix and the Kazon, as Neelix asks for water in exchange for helping Janeway. Neelix can apparently leave the system in his own ship, so are we to believe that a wide swath of space only has arid planets? Keep in mind that Neelix seems completely unaccustomed to water — and doesn’t simply say that there’s no water nearby. We learn later that he and the Kazon cover a wide area of space. So, can’t they find some planets with water?
There’s also the matter of just how long the Maquis existed prior to the events here. Keep in mind that we first learned of the rebel group in “The Maquis” in DS9’s second season — which was less than a year before “Caretaker”. This will come up again and again through Voyager, but dialog about how long the Maquis members fought together, developed loyalties, etc., hinges on, well, how long the Maquis could have actually existed. Now, I suppose it’s possible the rebellion was around for a brief period before the Federation discovered it in the previously mentioned DS9 episode. But the treaty that pissed the Maquis off was finalized maybe a year prior to the first mention of the group (in “Chain of Command”). In other words, even if the rebellion started RIGHT after that, they would have had like 18 months to forge any sort of bonds. There’s a line from Chakotay later in the series that he resigned from Starfleet in protest in 2368, which would have been TNG’s fifth season. That seems odd, but even if he joined the Maquis the next day (unlikely, as it’s never stated that Chakotay was one of the group’s founders) there’s no evidence that a rebellion existed earlier than two-plus years prior to “Caretaker”.
More on the Maquis. We see four people who were on the Maquis ship in this episode — Chakotay, Torres, Tuvok and the guy we learn later is Ayala (who, to the creators credit, sticks around as a background credit for much if not all of the series). Beyond that, the ship they’re in looks like one of the standard Maquis raiders from TNG/DS9. In other words, it’s about the size of a shuttle/runabout. But, later, we see that between 20-30 Maquis were onboard. Were the crew members we didn’t see in this episode just clustered in the back?
Oh, and, after Torres and Kim are rescued by Voyager, we see them both in Voyager’s sickbay. Somehow, Torres is wearing the exact same clothes she had on before she was captured by the Caretaker and put into weird surgical clothes that she and Kim wear while in the Ocampa civilization. So, did she have the clothes exactly replicated for some reason? Note that this makes sense for Kim, who would have replicated another standard uniform.
And while it’s not a gaffe, the farmhouse “waiting room” that the Caretaker sends the Voyager crew to before testing them has always annoyed me. It’s boring and trite — and it almost feels like filler.
Last point. The relative size of the galaxy that popped up as an issue in DS9 rears its head here. Assuming Janeway and Voyager left Earth AFTER or even around the time Chakotay’s ship was taken to the Delta Quadrant — when Starfleet lost contact with Tuvok — we can assume the Maquis crew was being tested by the Caretaker for like a week, which seems off — considering that the Caretaker tested the Voyager crew for only three days. That is, unless it takes less than a week to get from Earth to DS9.
One of the complaints about Voyager going forward is that it will keep encountering the same bad guys despite the fact that it should be moving quickly toward home. I know Janeway makes a big point here about how the ship will continue to explore during its journey. But there will be a lot of instances where even that doesn’t cover the problems.
Other than the goofy thing with the water — and the Kazon establishing themselves as hard-headed idiots — this is a really good episode. In fact, I’ll go ahead and say it: It’s Trek’s best pilot. “Emissary” has its moments, but some over-the-top acting puts it slightly below “Caretaker”.
Some of the most interesting things shown here revolve around the rough edges from the Maquis characters, notably Chakotay, who seems like a straight-up outlaw in parts of this episode but becomes a company man fairly quickly. The tension shown here with him and Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeil) and Tuvok (for the most part) is ignored the rest of the way. One of Voyager’s biggest failings was that it mostly shrugged off the potential conflict between the Maquis and the Starfleet crew after the first few episodes (with some exceptions). As a result, Voyager quickly entrenched itself as “TNG in the Delta Quadrant.”
Beyond that, a lot of the potential regarding an isolated starship with limited resources was pissed away after “Caretaker”, as we’ll discuss. More to come there, dear readers.
Sisko gets some intel that the last remnants of the Maquis — most of whom were wiped out when Cardassia joined the Dominion — plan to launch some missiles with cloaking devices (acquired from the Klingons) at Cardassian targets that would likely start a war. Sisko enlists the help of our old buddy Eddington (Kenneth Marshall) who’s been imprisoned since Sisko caught him a few months back. Eddington blames Sisko for what happened to the Maquis, but reluctantly takes him to a planet in the Badlands. Turns out the Jem’Hadar beat them there and have the last of the Maquis, including Eddington’s wife Rebecca (Gretchen German) imprisoned there ready to transport back to Cardassia. There never actually were any missiles, as it was a plan put into place by Eddington before he was arrested. Sisko gets the Maquis members out while Eddington stays behind and dies to save them.
Why it’s important
This episode was right on the bubble, but we reviewed it for two reasons. It essentially ended the Maquis, despite the Chakotay-led group on Voyager that’s unaware of the Dominion and all other goings-on in the Alpha Quadrant. And it also is very emblematic of the very strong run up to the end of the fifth season, in which the threat of a war with the Dominion is more real than ever before.
The back and forth between Eddington and Sisko on the runabout — in which its explained that the instability brought on by the Maquis was partly why the Cardassians turned to the Dominion — put this episode over the edge and made it tapestry worthy.
What doesn’t hold up
Eddington’s plan is, shall we say, ridiculous. Apparently, before he was captured, Eddington told the Maquis that, at some point, they should send a message directed at his first name (Michael) that they plan to fire missiles at Cardassia. The idea being that doing so would prompt someone to get Eddington out of jail and take him to the alleged “missile site” where he could save the remaining Maquis. And it turned out to be enough for Sisko, who knew Eddington well, to take the bait.
But what if Sisko had been otherwise occupied — or what if the Klingons hadn’t decided to share the message they intercepted and shared the knowledge that they provided the Maquis with cloaking devices? Remember that when Eddington was imprisoned, the Federation and the Klingons weren’t allies. Or, hell, what if Sisko had decided he couldn’t trust Eddington enough to enlist his help?
Logical goofiness aside, this episode is a favorite of mine. The banter between Eddington and Sisko is strong, better than the uneven showing in “For the Uniform”, the episode in which Eddington was captured. Part of that is the stronger showing here by Avery Brooks but also the angrier Eddington we see.
Not that it’s a flaw, but it is too bad that we never see Rebecca or the handful of Maquis again or even learn what happened to them. My guess is they were imprisoned, but that’s not made clear. There’s a line in Voyager about the former Alpha Quadrant Maquis being in prison, FWIW.
Coming next week …
War! Huh! Good god, y’all. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.
The Federation is sending a bunch of heavy-duty replicators to Cardassia to help rebuild the battered empire following the Klingon invasion. Eddington is leading the efforts and he and Odo tell Sisko that they suspect that his new main squeeze, Kasidy Yates (Penny Johnson) is smuggling goods to the Maquis on her freighter — something they confirm by following her ship to the Badlands in a cloaked Defiant. They plan to arrest her and the Maquis on their next trip — a big part of the episode is Sisko not wanting to arrest her — but the Defiant lies in wait as Kasidy’s ship waits for hours for a rendezvous. It turns out the whole thing with Kasidy was a ploy by the Maquis, specifically Eddington, who has defected(!),to get Sisko and most of the senior staff off the station to steal the replicators. Sisko leaves Kasidy’s ship behind to try to catch Eddington, but he’s too late. Eddington contacts Sisko and gives him a blistering speech about his reasoning, and Sisko vows to hunt down Eddington, even if it takes the rest of his career. Kasidy returns to the station to face the music and tells Sisko she’ll return to him after some time in prison.
Why it’s important
This is another example of the creators showing Cardassia in really bad shape following the Klingon invasion. That’s important considering where the Cardies turn for help in season five.
It also shows the expanding grasp of the Maquis, who had largely been forgotten about in season four (probably because the Klingons were taking so much focus). Eddington’s defection isn’t a galaxy-shaking domino, though we learn later that the Maquis scored their biggest victories under his leadership (at least, that’s what he says).
In a bigger picture way, this is a good example of why DS9 was a compelling show. On TNG or Voyager, it’s very likely we never would have heard of Eddington again. But we see two more episodes involving him, one of which is a personal favorite of mine — and both are pretty significant moments in the DS9 tapestry.
What doesn’t hold up
I’ve always wondered where the hell Dax was at the end of this episode. It’s true that Sisko, O’Brien, Worf and Odo are on the Defiant while Eddington does his thing — and, of course, he stuns Kira. But Dax was fourth in command and must have been in the holosuite or eating steamed azna while Eddington stole the replicators.
Speaking of Eddington’s plan, it all comes together a little too well, doesn’t it? That he was able to so cunningly get Sisko, Odo, Worf and O’Brien off the station — and stun Kira — was pretty incredible. And, really, it’s disappointing to think that the junior officers would be dumb enough (and that Eddington would know they would be dumb enough) to go along with everything he did.
Beyond that, how did Sisko — yet again — justify using the Defiant’s cloaking device in the Alpha Quadrant? This was expressly forbidden from what we learned in “The Search”, but Sisko pretty much ignores that rule whenever he thinks it’s appropriate. Hmmm.
While Kasidy Yates vacillates between being an important character (like in this episode) to being not important (like when she only appears once in the sixth season) to being important again (like when she shows up for most of the last leg of the final season). We haven’t had a real chance to dive into the character, though she did show up in “The Way of the Warrior”.
Oh, and I suppose you COULD argue that Garak’s new relationship with Ziyal — a rather weak subplot — is somewhat significant given later events. Still, Ziyal’s later importance has more to do with her father Gul Dukat than with Garak. Also, it’s odd that another actor plays Ziyal here, and that another one will play her when we see her again. This was DS9’s weirdest casting issue, BTW.
This episode is probably best remembered for Eddington’s f-you speech to Sisko. It’s well-acted and well-written — and the idea that the Federation is “insidious” is a good theme of DS9. But why did Eddington get to this place with his assessment of the Federation? We never see any motivation for it, as he’s always been a fairly by-the-book dude. It’s too bad the creators didn’t try to sew up on of their goofiest misfires of season four and give Eddington some motivation at the same time. Put on your fan-fiction glasses for a second …
Hilariously, Eddington (Starfleet head of security on DS9) is nowhere to be seen when the Klingons attack. Hell, he’s not even mentioned! The creators should have used this as an opportunity to explain where Eddington was at that point. With just a few lines of dialog, they could have established that he was on a mission and witnessed the Maquis hit in the crossfire during the Klingon invasion of Cardassia. Remember, Sisko did everything he could to save the heads of the Cardassian government, but didn’t (apparently) let the Maquis know the Klingons were coming. That could have easily enraged Eddington into defecting.
The destruction of a Cardassian freighter near DS9 is learned to have been caused by Federation citizens turned terrorists, calling themselves the Maquis. The citizens opted to stay on planets given to the Cardassians in a treaty with the Federation — and they’re taking up arms in response to subsequent treatment by the Cardassians. Sisko fears that tensions stoked by the terrorists will cause another war with Cardassia, so he teams up with Gul Dukat (Marc Alaimo) to stop the Maquis. But he learns that his old friend and fellow Starfleet officer Calvin Hudson (Bernie Casey) is one of the terrorists and plans to attack a weapons depot the Cardassians have placed on one of their colonies. Sisko takes DS9’s three runabouts and stops Hudson from attacking the depot, and allows Hudson to escape. Sisko is commended for his actions in preventing a war — but wonders if he simply delayed the inevitable.
Why it’s important
If anyone questions’s DS9’s importance in Trek lore, they should watch this two-parter. It’s the first time we see DS9 as a sort of crossroads in galactic politics. It’s the nearest Federation outpost to the Cardassian border, so Sisko and Co. are drawn in — even though it’s unlikely their roles could have been anticipated by anyone when Starfleet set up shop at DS9 a little more than a year earlier.
The Maquis are a huge Trek domino, of course. The events here are set in motion by TNG’s “Journey’s End” and are furthered by TNG’s “Preemptive Strike”. The second season of DS9 and seventh season of TNG are interesting as they’re the most coordinated concurrent seasons in Trek history. With Voyager taking place out of the Alpha Quadrant, this kind of cross-cutting between series never happened again. But, of course, Voyager’s very premise — a Starfleet crew and and a Maquis crew forced to work together on the other side of the galaxy — was set in motion by the events of this DS9 two-parter and the two related TNG episodes.
Beyond that, the Maquis are a major force in DS9. They helped destabilize the Cardassian Empire, which becomes part of the Dominion three years later BECAUSE of its instability. And the guy who forged the Cardassian/Dominion alliance was Gul Dukat … who really comes into his own as a major DS9 player in these episodes. His scenes with Sisko really were incredibly well acted and well written.
Prior to “The Maquis”, Dukat was really a recurring character/Cardassian. His personality wasn’t fleshed out — he was just the former Cardassian prefect of Bajor who appeared on view screens here and there. But this episode established him as a major foil for Sisko and the DS9 crew. One, who for a couple seasons, was an ally. This, of course, was one of DS9’s strengths. No other Trek series was so good at embracing shades of grey. We’ll discuss another one of those shades, Garak, in our next review.
What doesn’t hold up
Bernie Casey isn’t great in this episode, but that’s largely forgivable. The biggest problem after that is the issue of scope — something DS9 struggled with early on.
Sisko and Co. must take on the Maquis with the station’s three runabouts. While they are successful in doing so, it’s a really close call — and only works because the Maquis have limited resources. It’s kind of goofy to think that Starfleet wouldn’t have sent a starship to deal with the Maquis. Had that happened, the ship would have pretty easily handled a couple of (well-armed) shuttles — but, then, Sisko and company would have likely been left on the sidelines.
This, of course, is addressed in season three when Sisko brings the Defiant to DS9 to address the Dominion situation. But it’s hard to swallow that Starfleet couldn’t have devoted more resources to diffuse matters with Hudson here. We know there are Federation starships in the general area (as the Enterprise spends much of the seventh season dealing with Cardassian matters).
I’ve had friends ask me when they should start watching DS9, and I usually tell them that these two episodes represent the turning point. There are definitely some good episodes in the first season-plus — notably, the Bajoran political stuff from the end of season one into season two. But I understand why those episodes don’t have the mass appeal that we got starting in this two-parter.
This is also a great example of the DS9 characters getting their footing. The crew was never going to be as conflict-free as the TNG gang, nor did it need to be (nor was it designed to be). But the over-the-top writing/acting from season one is gone here. The scene in part one where the senior staff is clearly at odds — I love when O’Brien calls Odo out for security breaches — is great. No other Trek series did this kind of thing as well.
Sisko’s growing importance is shown here. He’s not just some bureaucrat tasked with getting Bajor ready for Federation membership. He’s a guy who must deal with terrorist groups and Cardassian reactions (in addition to Bajor). Later, of course, he becomes the guy to deal with the Dominion threat.
Last point. You’ll notice that many of the next several episodes make the tapestry, as DS9 enters a stretch of really consequential stories. You could argue that DS9 becoming more consequential was the key to its improved performance.
Coming later this week …
We finally learn what’s up with Garak. Sort of. Maybe.
What if a site focused on the really important Star Trek episodes, explained how they were important and how they tied together — while tossing in a healthy dose of snark?