The Great Star Trek DS9 Rewatch: Paradise

Whilst surveying planets for possible colonisation, Sisko and O’Brien discover an unexpected human colony on a planet where technology doesn’t work. Whilst the two Starfleet officers are desperate to get their communicators working and return to the runabout, the colonists have embraced a life without technology, and are keen that Sisko and O’Brien do the same.

This is yet another plot that could have easily come from TNG – indeed, visiting human colonies is a Star Trek staple, especially when the colonists are difficult in some way. It does, however, have a uniquely DS9 flavour in that it allows us to establish something important – Sisko’s strength of character. Here’s a man who will need to lead the Federation efforts against the Dominion, whose personal strength will be key to the course of the series in seasons to come. And here we catch a glimpse of that, as he refuses to bend to Alixus’ will no matter how much she provokes him. The sight of the locked box with Sisko inside is a powerful image, and certainly one of the most memorable moments from the entirety of DS9.

Science!

  • Most of the colonists believed that the duonetic field suppressing EM activity was caused by astatine deposits. Unlike most elements that appear in Star Trek, astatine is real, and there are small amounts of it in the Earth’s crust. It is, however, highly radioactive and has a short half-life, so not only are large deposits of it unlikely to occur, but if they did, the colonists would be at risk of radiation poisoning. It seems unlikely that it could cause duonetic fields.
  • If there are already people in the Federation who agree with Alixus’ philosophy of returning to a simpler life, why didn’t those people get together and found such a colony? It seems a little unfair that Alixus inflicted her views on this particular set of colonists, although ultimately they did go along with her. Perhaps her point was that everybody should be living this simpler life, and would be better for it – even if they didn’t agree.
  • Whilst the tractor beam trick made for a brief moment of dramatic tension (not that Dax and Kira would ever be at risk), why don’t the DS9 senior officers have override codes that let them remotely take control of a runabout?

Other bits and pieces

  • Runabouts are described as having been introduced a couple of years previously, i.e. at the start of DS9. Indeed, we even saw one in TNG that one time.
  • Sisko is still referring to his father in the past tense – “my father was a chef”. This sentence might even apply if his father had retired, but as we’ll see later on, Joseph Sisko is still alive, well and running his restaurant. Maybe the past tense applies because his restaurant now has a different head chef, and he’s actually the proprietor and occasional cook.
  • O’Brien gives us some insight into his past on the Cardassian front; apparently he had no mechanical or engineering skills before an incident in which he had to fix a field transporter within ten minutes or face capture by the Cardassians. O’Brien managed to fix it, and was then promoted to tactical officer on the Rutledge. As I already said way back when reviewing The Wounded, O’Brien isn’t even an officer, and this story makes little sense. Why would one mechanical success get him promoted to tactical officer? Being tactical officer has nothing to do with field engineering prowess. We should really just pretend the whole tactical officer thing never happened, instead of inventing a bullshit explanation for it.
  • Sisko seems to be expecting Jake to apply for Starfleet Academy, even though a couple of episodes ago he was open to all sorts of possibilities for his son’s future – including ones which involved Klingon opera.
  • The colonists seem interested in developments in the worlds of soccer and fashion, split down stereotypical gender lines. We do now know that soccer, like tennis, has survived as a professional sport into the 24th century.

Summary – Paradise: Sisko faces The Box.

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