Friday, February 24, 2012

Eddington Revisited For The Last Time In “Blaze Of Glory”

The Good: Overall good character development, Plot, Acting
The Bad: Sisko's view in the conclusion
The Basics: When Michael Eddington and Captain Sisko go on a mission together to save the Alpha Quadrant, their differences may put everyone in jeopardy.

When Sisko captured Maquis rebel Michael Eddington earlier in the fifth season ("For the Uniform," reviewed here!), many of the fans figured he was gone for good, locked away in a Federation prison to rot for the rest of the series. The other half of the fans of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, thought he deserved better. I was one of the latter fans and "Blaze Of Glory" was the payoff to that wish for something better.

When General Martok intercepts a Maquis transmission alluding to the launch of cloaked missiles headed for Cardassia, Captain Sisko realizes that if they reach their target, the uneasy peace in the Alpha Quadrant will erupt into full-blown war. Eager to prevent that at all costs, Sisko journeys to the Federation prison where Michael Eddington, his Maquis nemesis, is incarcerated. Eddington is resistant to help his former Captain and he rejects Sisko's logic and calls for compassion. Sisko, therefore, takes Eddington out of prison against his will and impresses him for the mission; together, they will get to the launch site in the Badlands and disarm the missiles. As they near their objective, however, they find the Badlands swarming with Jem'Hadar and their ability to reach the site severely compromised.

The only real problem with "Blaze Of Glory" is the very end. Without revealing any important plot details, I will say that the piece ends with Sisko contemplating the Maquis with admiration. This is completely contrary to all previous character work with Sisko regarding the Maquis. Sisko was betrayed by Cal Hudson (whose name is finally recalled here) and Michael Eddington and that angered him to the point that he wiped out a planet's atmosphere to catch Eddington. It would seem the time for romanticizing the underdog is way, way past. Moreover, the vehemence with which Sisko blames Eddington for the casualties in the Maquis (we learn early on that as soon as Cardassia joined the Dominion, the Demilitarized Zone was cleansed of Maquis terrorists), reads a very real and quite sensible. The about-face at the conclusion of the episode cheapens it.

And this is an episode that should not have any forced character cheapening. It already has plenty in the b-plot. As Sisko and Eddington hunt for the missiles, Nog nags General Martok for some basic respect. By the end of the episode, Nog has earned the Klingon's grudging admiration and the whole situation seems somewhat contrived. Fortunately, there is not a great deal of time spent on the subplot.

Instead, this episode truly is the "Blaze Of Glory" for the Maquis. The missile launch becomes a turning point for the fledgling terrorists and the journey Eddington and Sisko take is an intriguing one. Part of what makes it so well done is that Eddington seems so rational. Despite his betrayal of Captain Sisko back in "For The Cause" (reviewed here!), Eddington does not seem unreasonable or even unlikable in "Blaze Of Glory." If anything, he seems like a man standing for a cause for all of the right reasons. Sisko's dogged determination to apprehend him seems like overkill and his continued harassment here does nothing more than establish Sisko as a devil's advocate.

What drives the characters here are two wonderful actors. Avery Brooks does an excellent job as Captain Sisko. He plays the captain with a great deal of passion and Brooks' own fire comes through clearly in the role in a way that is quite befitting. Sisko modulates between the humanity of wanting to save lives and the rage of being betrayed and Brooks makes the transitions seem effortless and reasonable.

It is Kenneth Marshall as Eddington that steals the show, though. Marshall plays off Brooks' passion with a stone-faced logic that seems designed to frustrate Sisko's sensibilities. Marshall, very rightly, does not overemphasize the forced vengeance of Eddington toward Sisko, instead maintaining his character's humanity and desire for freedom. In the end, Marshall makes Eddington a likable character that comes across as less monolithic than he previously had.

"Blaze Of Glory" is part of the essential Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as the resolution to the Maquis subplot begun back in season two. As a result, the episode is fairly inaccessible to those who are not fans of the series. However, the Maquis episodes tend to be high in action and "Blaze Of Glory" is no exception. If one were to watch simply those episodes of the series, they would be likely to come away feeling very satisfied when they reach "Blaze Of Glory."

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


Check out how this episode rates against others in the Star Trek franchise and read other Star Trek reviews by visiting the specialized index page here!

© 2012, 2007, 2003 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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