Star Trek 428: Inquisition

428. Inquisition

FORMULA: Future Imperfect + The Mind's Eye + The Drumhead

WHY WE LIKE IT: Sloan and his whole plan.

WHY WE DON'T: No real reason... How about Kukalaka as a plot point?

REVIEW: Inquisition introduces a couple of important, paradigm-shifting concepts, the biggest of which is Section 31. The revelation that an ultra-secret branch of Starfleet, reassuringly dressed like fascists, has been working behind the scenes all along may be very "DS9", but it puts into doubt many past stories (some of which the novels have tried to expose). The Undiscovered Country conspiracy, the Pegasus, the Omega molecule experiments, the events of Insurrection, of Homefront? Any mission with deniability issues, like The Enterprise Incident, can suddenly be put under the microscope.

But of course, so is Bashir's life here. The other concept of note is the idea that he might be able to compartmentalize his mutant brain to subconsciously help the Dominion, and be able to switch from one to the other. Certainly Director Sloan points asks some hard continuity questions, reviewing past episodes not unlike Admiral Satie in The Drumhead, but Bashir is innocent. However, the compartment idea is a sound rationale for any episode where he doesn't seem to be quite as smart as he should, restraining his abilities with self-imposed mental blocks.

Now, the entire episode is a big fake, but on first viewing, you're right there with Bashir - wondering if he HAS been compromised, then thinking it's a Dominion plot, etc. It doesn't stop being fun once you know the twist, because repeat viewings have you marvel at Section 31's powers. The faux-cast acts exactly like it should (until the crucial mistake), and events manipulate Bashir perfectly. Sloan is an interesting character who manages to be sympathetic à la Columbo and sinister as well.

I'm not sure what to make of Section 31 being exposed to Sisko and crew at the end of the episode, though of course, that's what Bashir would do. Starfleet knows about S31, so it's not the best kept of secrets, though it's possibly very hard to prove they exist. Are we willing to sacrifice our principles in order to survive? That's the question and Sisko doesn't have an answer.

But he will.

LESSON: Paradise is paved with bad intentions.

REWATCHABILITY - High: An important episode which will have its sequels and prequels (in Enterprise). Aside from its introduction of key concepts, it's a fun reality-bender with good performances and a magnetic guest-star in William Sadler.

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