The Great Star Trek DS9 Rewatch: Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges

When Dr Bashir is invited to a medical conference on Romulus, Sloan of the mysterious Section 31 makes good on his promise to get in touch. Sloan wants Bashir’s help in gathering intelligence on one of the high-ranking Romulans in attendance, but when Bashir comes to suspect that this is all a prelude to an assassination attempt, he becomes uncertain as to who he can trust.

It’s the last episode before the big nine-part finale, and before we get stuck into that, we take a detour to Romulus for the return of Sloan and Section 31. I feel like I should love this kind of spy stuff – this episode is supposedly inspired by The Spy Who Came in From the Cold – but somehow I just can’t get into this one. Maybe it’s because I still have a problem with believing that Starfleet Intelligence has so few trained agents that they need to rely on DS9’s senior crew. Maybe it’s just because I didn’t really feel much for any of the characters – Koval, Ross and even Sloan are pretty bland, and the recast Cretak lacks the edge she had when interacting with Kira in the season opener. Oh look, intrigue and espionage amongst the Romulans – big deal.

Points of note

  • Praetor Neral was previously a proconsul way back in TNG’s Unification. As with Cretak, he is played by a different actor in this episode.
  • Bashir gives a lecture on the Blight he researched way back in The Quickening.
  • The Bellerophon is an Intrepid-class ship so that visuals and sets from Voyager can be used.
  • The white dress uniforms from Insurrection are introduced to DS9 in this episode.
  • Romulan ale is said to be no longer illegal in this episode, due to the embargo being lifted – Romulan ale being the Federation equivalent of Cuban cigars, it seems. However, by the end of the Dominion War, it will be illegal again, as seen in Star Trek Nemesis.
  • Does Ross’s compromised morality make him one of Starfleet’s many Bad Admirals? I’m not sure – I was quite disappointed by his actions in this episode as I thought he was a rare good and morally upstanding admiral. I can understand that pragmatism is needed in a hostile galaxy, but at the same time I love the naivete of Starfleet and the Federation on a ‘hopeful future’ level.
  • Bashir’s genetically engineered brain is also magically immune to Romulan mind control devices.

Summary – Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges: Giving your episode a Latin title doesn’t make it a clever episode.

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