Category Archives: 2372

“Homefront” and “Paradise Lost”

The Defiant takes on the Enterprise-B. I mean, the Defiant takes on the Lakota. Definitely, the Lakota.

Part one: A bombing indicates the Changelings have reached Earth (thunderclap) and Sisko and Odo — with Jake in tow to visit Grandpa Sisko (Brock Peters) — head there to help Starfleet. Admiral Leyton (Robert Foxworth), Sisko’s former CO, appoints our buddy Benny to head Starfleet security on Earth. Then, power goes out across the planet, and everybody assumes it’s a Changeling plot. Leyton gets a previously hesitant Federation Council President Jaresh-Inyo (Herschel Sparber) to allow Starfleet to send troops across the planet as the Changeling paranoia reaches a fever pitch.

Part two: Sisko and Odo learn the power outage was actually caused by Starfleet cadets, on orders from Leyton, who wants more authority to defend Earth from the Changeling threat. Sisko calls the station and has Kira and Worf bring the Defiant to Earth, armed with evidence that some unexplained wormhole openings were faked by Leyton. Meanwhile, Sisko meets a Changeling impersonating O’Brien — further evidence that infiltrators are on the planet. Before the Defiant can arrive, Leyton has Sisko arrested, accusing him of being a Changeling. Leyton sends a Starfleet ship to stop the Defiant from arriving, and the two engage in a short battle. By this point, Sisko has escaped with Odo’s help and has a phaser on Leyton in the admiral’s office. With things about to go from barely lethal to really freaking lethal in the battle, Leyton orders his ship to stand down and is arrested. But he tells Sisko that he hopes they both don’t regret Sisko’s successful efforts to stop him. Sisko’s dad, representing the people of Earth or something, admits he’s terrified, but that life will go on. Sisko and company head back to DS9.

“Lord, am I glad I didn’t have to be in ‘Move Along Home’.”

Why it’s important

This episode further escalates the “Changelings are everywhere” theme from “The Adversary”. It’s an interesting approach, in that the Changeling’s don’t actually cause the problems. But the fact that they’re around causes paranoia among the good guys that leads to some classic DS9 shades of gray. It’s a nice two-parter, even if it’s sort of a cheat. Had the Dominion really caused the power outage, you figure a fleet of Jem’Hadar ships would have arrived shortly thereafter to take advantage.

We also get a glimpse of the Founders’ thoughts on Odo’s actions in “The Adversary” when the Changeling impersonating Leyton in part one shows clear animosity toward Odo. There’s also the idea that Sisko is becoming a more important player in Starfleet and Federation matters.

Oh, and for as much crap as I’ve given Sisko for being insubordinate, he’s totally in the right on this one, whereas he’s been arguably in the right in the past.

Admiral Cartwright, behind bars. Or, Joseph Sisko being overly dramatic. Your choice!

What doesn’t hold up

The biggest bit of goofiness happens in part two, when the Defiant arrives in time to actually make a difference. At most, a few days pass between the time Sisko contacts Kira and the showdown between the Defiant and the Lakota. It’s never explicitly stated where the showdown takes place, so it might have been a ways from Earth. But it was close enough where the Lakota could respond and where Leighton viewed it as a threat.

We get a glimpse in “The Search” that DS9 is maybe a week or so away from Earth — given a line from Jake — and that doesn’t quite fit the “edge of the frontier” billing and the idea that the Federation is quite large. But a few days from DS9 to Earth makes even less sense. We’ll continue to catalog the “It’s a Small Galaxy” problem DS9 will show us over the next few years. Voyager was guilty of that, too (along with so many other things).

Also, what exactly happened with the Changelings on Earth? We know there was at least one of them, and there were likely more, especially if the Changeling impersonating O’Brien was telling even a bit of the truth. Now, there is the matter of the disease, which we learn later was affecting the Changelings around this time. But wouldn’t the Founders on Earth — who likely weren’t linking with other Changelings, who weren’t infected en masse for at least a few months — have taken the opportunity to wreak some havoc?

The reason they didn’t, of course, is that doing so would have been too tumultuous, even for DS9. We’ll see a lot of this over the next few years, but “Homefront”/”Paradise Lost” is DS9’s biggest example of where rationalizing or retconning the buildup versus the end result doesn’t work at all.

Also, I’m again amazed — maybe even appalled — at the lack of preparation Starfleet and the DS9 crew, in particular have engaged in despite clear warnings of Changeling infiltrators. On Earth, Starfleet tests on Odo what level phaser setting would incapacitate a Changeling. This is a great idea, but one that should have been done WELL BEFORE this episode. Keep in mind that the looming threat of Changeling infiltrators predates even “The Die is Cast”, which happened about a year before this episode! This is another example of a scene used for exposition — it shows that the Changelings are really big threats to anyone who might have missed previous episodes — which makes Starfleet and Sisko look really dumb.

Last thing. These episodes do some big-time character retconning. Sisko, back in “Emissary”, was an officer whose career had apparently taken a downward turn. He was basically damaged goods (with reason) after his wife’s death at the Battle of Wolf 359. Essentially, his time on DS9 reinvigorates his career and gets him promoted, and that all made at least some sense.

But here, it sounds like he was always an officer on the way up. Leyton thinks very highly of him and he’s held in awe by Starfleet cadets. Keep in mind that this episode takes place after maybe three major incidents with the Dominion (in “The Jem’Hadar”“The Search” and “Starship Down”) only one of which was particularly successful. Granted, Sisko led the defense of the station against the Klingons, but that doesn’t seem like something that would impress the Dominion-crazy cadets or Leyton’s group enough to make Sisko almost James Kirk like in the eyes of Starfleet. At least, not based on what Sisko was less than two years earlier.

Final thoughts

What this episode probably does best is establish in tone the idea that the Dominion stuff is really messing with Starfleet and the Federation, putting the Roddenberry, early-TNG utopian stuff aside to deal with a particularly nasty foe. Some Trekkers hate DS9 because it took Trek in this direction, but I think it was probably inevitable. Keep in mind that some of the darker elements of DS9 — the Maquis, the Cardassian war — were actually part of TNG in the final few seasons. In other words, there’s only so much you can do with franchise centered around a conflict-free civilization.

We also see some great battle scenes in “Paradise Lost” between the Defiant and the Lakota, and we understand Worf’s role on the station. Essentially, he’s second in command of the Defiant and third in command of DS9. Which makes sense, but is very interesting

Coming later this week …

Gul Dukat goes rogue … with Kira’s help?

“The Way of the Warrior”

Damn, Gina.

A fleet of Klingon ships appears at DS9, motives unclear. Sisko’s not sure what to do, so he asks Starfleet to let him borrow our old buddy Worf to figure out what the Sto-Vo-Kor is up. Worf has been on extended leave since Will Riker got the Enterprise-D destroyed and is now considering leaving Starfleet. On the station, he learns that the Klingons are planning to invade Cardassia because they think the civilian leaders who have taken over Cardassia — after the fall of the Obsidian Order — are actually Changelings. Starfleet won’t back the invasion, so Chancellor Gowron (Robert O’Reilly) ends the alliance between the two powers and asks Worf to join him. Worf refuses — setting himself up to be a pariah again — and Sisko works with Gul Dukat to save the Cardassian leaders. Sisko gets the Cardassians to DS9, but a large Klingon fleet attacks, only to be met with upgraded station weapons Starfleet set up in anticipation of a Dominion attack. A crazy battle ensues, but Sisko and Worf eventually convince Gowron to back off. Unfortunately, the Klingons were able to seize several Cardassian colonies, making them bigger players in the region. Worf, without a ship or empire to return to, decides to stay on the station, as the new strategic operations officer. Oh, and DS9 isn’t going anywhere, or something.

“Hmmm. Well, this certainly beats ‘Voyager’.”

Why it’s important

Well, let’s see. A few things happened in this episode, didn’t they?

1) The Klingons start a war with the Cardassians and become entrenched in the area. The war further destabilizes a faltering Cardassia.

2) The Federation-Klingon alliance — which was in place for more than two decades, possibly more — ends. And it sets up conflict between the two powers.

3) The Dominion threat is further shown, especially in the way the threat of Changeling infiltrators has caused paranoia in the Alpha Quadrant. While the Cardassian leaders are found to be the genuine articles — at least, as far as the blood test thing goes — we learn later that one of the key Klingon leaders behind the invasion is actually a Changeling.

4) We see that DS9 is no longer just a key strategic outpost. It’s a FORTIFIED battle station able to defend itself against dozens of ships. Given the crumbling station the Federation inherited back in “Emissary”, the evolution is significant. It’s also somewhat hard to swallow given some comments we heard in “The Search” about the difficulty in defending the station, given its power supply and stationary nature. But, it’s nice to know that Sisko has more to repel an attack than the Defiant and three runabouts.

5)  And, of course, there’s the addition of Worf. Worf’s presence on DS9 in this episode is important, but his actions there in the seventh season change the fate of the entire empire and really, the Alpha Quadrant and maybe more. We’ll discuss that in later reviews.

"I don't agree, old man. I think this knife did a great job on my haircut."
“I don’t agree, old man. I think this knife did a great job on my haircut.”

What doesn’t hold up

The battle at the end of the episode was one of DS9’s high points, but it also is kind of odd. The station’s torpedoes were capable of destroying entire Birds of Prey with one shot! That runs counter to everything we’ve seen in previous Trek, when ships could usually take a hit or two before the shields went down.

Also, where the hell is Starfleet security chief Michael Eddington in this episode? I’m guessing the guest budget was at its limit, but not having Eddington around (or even hearing his name, which would have been pretty easy to work in during the battle) when the Klingons board the station doesn’t make a ton of sense. And we see Eddington in later episodes, so we know he hasn’t been transferred.

This episode is a good example — though not the first — of something we see a lot of in latter DS9: It seems like getting to DS9 from just about anywhere in the Alpha Quadrant doesn’t take much time. And that really doesn’t make sense given the idea that the station was set one of Starfleet’s most remote posts. The initial marketing for DS9 was that the station was “on the edge of the final frontier”! Check that clip, people. It’s hilarious. Apparently, O’Brien and Quark were the intended stars of DS9 … ?

Frankly, it’s hard to believe that Worf could have made it to the station in time to help Sisko. Before his arrival, he was at a Klingon monastery. So, either that monastery was really close to Bajor (which seems unlikely) or the Klingon fleet took forever to gather at DS9.

Which begs another question: Why did the Klingons gather at DS9 in the first place? They didn’t formally ask the Federation for help, so why not simply gather (under cloak) in some place they wouldn’t be spotted on their way to Cardassia? The only explanation is the Changeling in the Klingon upper ranks stopped at DS9 purposefully to try to pull the Federation and the Empire apart. But even that doesn’t make a ton of sense.

Final thoughts

This was probably the biggest “event” in DS9’s history. Even the final episodes weren’t promoted in the way the addition of Worf and the renewed tensions with the Klingons, as seen here, were. Also, this episode really set the standard for space battles — topping even “The Die is Cast”. It’s a remarkable episode as it weaves in so many characters (Dukat, Garak, Gowron) and threads from DS9’s past (or Trek’s past, in the case of Worf). Worf’s addition to the cast, as we’ll see, really worked pretty well, even if it marginalized Kira some in the fourth and fifth seasons.

Coming next week …

We learn that Admiral Cartwright from “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” is actually Sisko’s father and Leah Brahms from TNG is now a Starfleet commander. Weird, wild stuff, folks.