Saturday, November 19, 2011

Primer For Star Trek Voyager, Part I: "The Maquis"

The Good: Character development, Good pacing, Most acting
The Bad: "Shocking" ending is easily predictable, Forced conflict
The Basics: "The Maquis" is part of the essential Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as a tight story about rebelling colonists who drag Cardassia and the Federation to the brink of war.

As Star Trek The Next Generation wound down, it meets with a conflict and an apparent solution in the episode "Journey's End" (reviewed here!). Along the Cardassian/Federation border, there are colonies that have been surrendered to the Cardassians and some Cardassian territory is ceded to the Federation. It would have been nice if someone bothered to tell the colonists. In "Journey's End," a demilitarized zone is established, basically a territory devoid of weapons where colonists have their colonies and - for the most part - try to keep out of each others' way and coexist peacefully. That's how things work on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

This, however, is Star Trek Deep Space Nine. Things never remain so simple or unexplored.

The episode is "The Maquis, Part I" and it opens with the destruction of the Cardassian freighter Bok'Nor. Early into the investigation of what destroyed the vessel, it becomes clear that it was destroyed as an act of sabotage and, unfortunately for our crew as they try to maintain order and peace, it appears it was done with a Federation device. Enter Cal Hudson, an old friend of Sisko's and a colonist in the demilitarized zone. Cal is bitter about the treaty and its clear that he's disenchanted with the Federation and the presence of Cardassians on planets formerly held by hard working colonists such as himself.

When Gul Dukat arrives, the situation is agitated, as Dukat has managed to find the person responsible for destroying the Bok'Nor. It was a human, a colonist in the DMZ and it appears a war is breaking out in the zone that is supposed to be free of weapons. It doesn't help that the colonist responsible dies in Cardassian custody. Tensions are high in the demilitarized zone and Cal works desperately to prove that the Cardassian Central Command is responsible for getting weapons to the Cardassian colonists. When Gul Dukat is kidnaped by the renegades, it appears Cardassia and the Federation might be dragged into a full-scale war that neither truly wants.

What doesn't work is the ending; it's supposed to come as a surprise and instead, it makes perfect sense. This is a two-parter, so they want us to tune in next week. It works fine, but if you can't call it in the first few minutes, well . . .

The other area that doesn't work is between Kira and Sisko. I've often said that "The Maquis" would have been an excellent first season episode, but they waited too long to use it here in the second season. Why? Kira and Sisko are yelling at each other about their impressions on the Federation. This worked wonderfully in the first season. Here is seems forced. It seems like a step back in their character developments. It's unfortunate, because the other characters work out so well.

In fact, "The Maquis, Part 1" gives us some good background on Sisko as we see him relating to Cal Hudson. Sisko plays well off both Hudson and Gul Dukat. The episode is also a fairly effective use of the ensemble cast. Quark plays a role (quite humorous, in fact) in the establishment of the Maquis, Odo works to foil Quark and investigate the destruction of the freighter with O'Brien and Dax. The characters feel (outside the Kira and Sisko thing) quite natural.

And most of the acting shows that. The actors are at the tops of their game here. Well, all of our regulars anyway. Bernie Casey seems a bit stiff as Cal Hudson, but otherwise the acting is excellent. The episode is accessible to people who aren't fans of Star Trek as a story about rebellion: individual rights VS. government mandates.

More than a setup for the second part, "The Maquis Part 1" is part of the essential Star Trek Voyager, illustrating the origins of the Maquis and their conflict with the Cardassians and the Federation. This is followed by "The Maquis, Part 2," which is reviewed here! Part of the essential Star Trek Deep Space Nine.

[Knowing that VHS is essentially a dead medium, it's worth looking into Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Complete Second Season on DVD, which is also a better economical choice than buying the VHS. Read my review of the sophomore season by clicking here!


For other Star Trek episode, movie and DVD set reviews, please visit my index page on the subject with links to the appropriate episodes here!

© 2011, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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