Star Trek 370: Paradise Lost

370. Paradise Lost

FORMULA: Homefront + The First Duty + Conspiracy

WHY WE LIKE IT: Sisko bluffing his way through conversations.

WHY WE DON'T: Do the Founders have to be such jerks?

REVIEW: You can't keep your conspiracy a secret for long when Odo is on the case. Paradise Lost is a great showcase for both our favorite changeling and Captain Sisko, the latter getting all the information he needs by throwing his weight around, either bluffing his way through conversations with conspirators, or in the case of Nog, just making his orders quite plain. Great scenes that don't lose their bite even when you already know the answers.

Layton's plan is an ingenious manipulation of public opinion (again, sounds familiar, these shows turned out to be prophetic), and even libertarian Gandpa Sisko falls for it (and makes the best of it). Of course, the Star Trek ethos has to win the day, and no amount of security can be worth losing personal liberties. That may be fine for Cardassians or Romulans, but in the Federation must strive to be a utopia. I'm not complaining. The show is about what is "right", not what is practical. Earth will pay for its decisions, don't worry, but even though DS9 is a grayer show, it's still in the Roddenberryverse.

Speaking of gray, Layton is a lot more ambiguous than I remembered. Like other corrupt admirals before him, most notably Riker's mentor Pressman, he puts loyalty to the man before loyalty to the state/oath, and that's where he and Sisko part ways. He's trying to turn the Federation into a police state for its own protection, and he goes to great lengths to do so (treason, framing Sisko, etc.), but he also seems visibly ashamed by some of those measures. It hurts him that Sisko isn't on board. Robert Foxworth gives a more textured performance than I had given him credit for.

Other guest characters don't fare as well. Benteen remains sympathetic, though the battle between the Defiant and Lakota merely supplies a little action and not that much to do for the rest of the cast. Colm Meany goes a bit over the top with his Founder, but it's a chilling thought that so few changelings are needed to totally destabilize a planet. Cadet Shepard needs a slap upside the head, but I guess that's the point. Cocky little sonuva.

LESSON: Don't screw around with Sisko when his face gets all twitchy like that.

REWATCHABILITY - High: Homefront's high quality is retained with plenty of tension and great roles for Sisko and Odo.


Anonymous said...

These bunch of episodes are really a good run in the DS9 set. Probably the best rest of episodes in the Trek franchise frankly.

Yes there are individual episodes that shine in ST:TOS and ST:TNG but often interspersed with far worse episodes.

I'm not slavishly devoted to arc stories, but it can help tremendously in focusing the writers even in the non-arc stories.

- mwb

Siskoid said...

It's not as involved as, say, Babylon 5, or today's hot shows (Heroes, Lost, etc.) but everyone has a definite arc. I find that even the small character scenes in DS9 are far better and more relevant than in TNG.

LiamKav said...

Interesting you mention Babylon 5, since Foxworth slightly threw that story off by not appearing to complete his character arc when the (no doubt better paying) DS9 job came up instead.


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