When a Cardassian freighter explodes whilst leaving DS9, it turns out to be the work of the Maquis – a resistance group formed by the Federation colonists who found themselves in Cardassian territory after a recent peace treaty. Sisko must track down the culprits and prevent all-out war – but will that mean siding with the Cardassians against Federation citizens?
In retrospect, it has been vastly overshadowed by the Dominion War, but back in the day, the Maquis storyline was an important thread in DS9. This episode establishes what happened between Journey’s End and Pre-Emptive Strike, as the colonists who were left to fend for themselves have been forced to mobilise into a military force capable of defending themselves against Cardassian raids – and perhaps even going on the attack. It also sets the tone for the rest of DS9 with Sisko’s speech:
“On Earth there is no poverty, no crime, no war. You look out the window of Starfleet headquarters and you see paradise. Well, it’s easy to be a saint in paradise, but the Maquis do not live in paradise. Out there in the Demilitarised zone, all the problems haven’t been solved yet. Out there, there are no saints, just people. Angry, scared, determined people who are going to do whatever it takes to survive whether it meets with Federation approval or not.”
This impassioned piece was a very deliberate ploy by the writers and showrunners to set DS9 apart from what had come before, to preserve Gene Roddenberry’s ideal of an enlightened 24th century humanity whilst allowing for places and situations where human conflict could occur. It’s also an episode that hammers home the difference between the Enterprise and DS9 – Sisko cannot fly away from this. At the end of Journey’s End, Picard warped away to a new mission and didn’t have to think about the Maquis until Ro defected. Sisko has to keep dealing with this issue, and making difficult decisions that stray into grey areas rarely touched by the black-and-white morality of Enterprise captains.
We also get to see some classic early Dukat here; by the end of DS9 he’s little more than a comic book supervillain, but back in the early seasons he’s definitely more nuanced. If it suits his agenda, he’s perfectly willing to work with you, but never once assume that he isn’t looking out for anything other than Cardassian interests.
- After doing so well in Blood Oath, Part I totally fails the Bechdel test by having Dax and Kira’s opening conversation being about their relative dating standards.
- On rewatch, I didn’t really feel the relationship between Sisko and Hudson. Maybe it’s because Hudson is one of those long-time best friends who are so important that they went unmentioned up to this point.
- Apparently it is now difficult to get jumbo Romulan molluscs on Vulcan. Given that the Romulans split off from the Vulcans so long ago that for a long time no one was even certain of their common origin, I can’t imagine that they were ever easy to obtain.
- Sisko and Hudson were stationed together on the moon colony of New Berlin, where Sisko met Jennifer. Since they met on a beach, the moon must be a very different place in the 24th century.
- Cardassians, or at least Cardassian military, undergo mental training that enables them to resist mind melds. They are also famous for having photographic memories.
- In Cardassian trials, the verdict is always guilty. The trial is just for show.
- Quark has a more pragmatic and logical view about negotiating for peace than Sekonna, who, as a Vulcan, should be supremely logical. In fact, it’s amazing that a logical, pacifist Vulcan would even want to join the Maquis. Surely the most logical thing to do would be to abandon the area and return to the heartlands of the Federation?
- Why does Quark expect Sekonna to know the fifth Rule of Acquisition, when at their first dinner, he had to explain what the rules even were? He knew she didn’t know them in any detail, and yet he still asks – and she doesn’t even say “no, I don’t know it, as well you know”.
- There’s a Klingon among the Maquis – presumably a warrior present for the glory of battle rather than a Federation colonist.
Summary – The Maquis: DS9 heads down a darker road than its predecessors.