I’ve no wish to boast, but I’ve been watching television fiction of all natures for fifty years, I’m fairly intelligent and analytical by nature, and not much surprises me. I’m good at reading where a story is going to go, and at sensing the intended developments. So, when an episode springs on me a surprise that I don’t see coming, I enjoy it all the more, and ‘For The Cause’ got a good one over on me today.
That we’re in for a serious affair was made immediately obvious from the open: a top level secret briefing for the senior staff from Federation Security Officer, Lt. Commander Eddington. Things are going ill for the Cardassians in their war with the Klingon Empire, and the Federation has agreed to provide them with no less than twelve Industrial Replicators, coming through DS9 shortly.
But Eddingtom and Odo have another problem that they want to broach with Sisko in private. They believe a freighter captain is smuggling goods to the Maquis and, though they have no concrete evidence, their suspicions point towards none other than Kasidy Yates.
Sisko, slightly atypically, behaves more like an affronted lover than a Starfleet Captain, rejecting the idea on sight, but his professionalism requires him to allow investigation to proceed. And the evidence does harden that suspicion into fact, as Kasidy is trailed by a cloaked Defiant and observed beaming goods onto a Maquis ship.
A second run is to be made, and the Defiant now has instructions to intervene if a drop is made. Eddington, understandably uneasy about taking the decision to fire upon the Captain’s bird, asked to remain on the station to supervise the transfer of the Replicators: Sisko himself will command the raid.
And yes, Kasidy admits to smuggling, medical supplies and other humanitarian material, not guns, nor is she ashamed of it in the least, but the Zhosa and the Defiant have been circling for hours in the Badlands, and the Maquis aren’t turning up, because the whole thing is a carefully manipulated plot to get Sisko off the station. Because Eddington, the loyal Starfleet Officer with no personal opinions, the deliberately colourless man who’s been appearing in DS9 since season 3 episode 1, has gone over to the Maquis. He seizes temporary control of the station, has the Replicators transferred to a Vulcan freighter, and flees with them to openly join the fight.
It’s a crushing defeat for the Federation, and a complete shock that, despite only having the most minimal of foreshadowing – Eddington’s wish to be relieved of responsibility for potentially killing Kasidy is the only hint we get and it’s magnificently in character – is utterly believable, and Kenneth Marshall seizes the chance to rotate his character 180 degrees in a closing scene where, by communicator, he glorifies in his new loyalty, demanding the Federation leave the Maquis alone as their only quarrel is with the Cardassians. His sudden overt strength is splendidly buttressed by his excoriating the Federation over their persecuting the Maquis only because they want to live outside the Federation. The Federation wants to absorb everybody it meets, no differently than the Borg, except that they are open about their intentions and the Federation are insidious.
What’s so good about this is that it’s true, and it took courage in a Star Trek Universe to write a scene that so openly exposing the underside of the Federation, that holy empire. A powerful episode indeed.
Unfortunately, it came with a B-story of stunningly slight proportions. Garak and Ziyal (played one time by Tracy Middendorf, who was not really up to the role) are aware of each other as the only Cardassians on the station and slowly gravitate towards one another. Since he is her father’s mortal enemy, Garak fears an assassination attempt, and since he is Garak, Kira fears he’s going to fuck her (up), but all it turns out to be is a wish for companionship in exile. Unworthy of being included alongside a far bigger, better and more game-changing story.