Friday, November 3, 2023

Star Trek: The Maquis, Part II

Episode: "The Maquis, Part II"
Series: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season 2, Episode 21
Original Air Date: May 1, 1994

Last week's story concludes.  Our heroes need to rescue Gul Dukat and prevent a war between the Cardassians and the Maquis, a group of Federation settlers in the demilitarized zone.  All in a day's work.  

Fortunately, Part II is better than Part I.  Dukat development continues to be a highlight and there are great moments for both Quark and Commander Sisko.  Quark excels in his prison cell exchange with Sakonna, the Vulcan gun runner he is evidently still trying to seduce.  His cost-benefit analysis argument for the Maquis making peace with the Cardassians instead of attacking them is absolutely brilliant.  A Ferengi trumping a Vulcan with logical reasoning?  That's good Trek.  

Sisko's soliloquy runs deeper.  After a dispiriting conversation with Admiral Nechayev about his Starfleet responsibilities in the matter - basically, preserve the treaty between the Federation and Cardassians at all cost, the Maquis be damned - Benjamin rants to Kira:

"On Earth, there is no poverty, no crime, no war. You look out the window of Starfleet Headquarters and you see paradise. Well, it's easy to be a saint in paradise, but the Maquis do not live in paradise. Out there in the Demilitarized Zone, all the problems haven't been solved yet. Out there, there are no saints — just people. Angry, scared, determined people who are going to do whatever it takes to survive, whether it meets with Federation approval or not!"

This is a big deal, not just for this story but for the entire Star Trek concept.  From the beginning in 1966, we, the faithful viewers, have been sold on a premise: the Earth of Star Trek's time had solved all of the problems plaguing the real world of the 1960s.  Prejudice and pointless war were relics of the past.  We, the Earthlings, had evolved beyond such pettiness and were thus worthy of exploring the cosmos.  Furthermore, having achieved this higher morality, we were entitled to stand in judgment of those who had not.  

So much of what makes Deep Space Nine awesome is its challenge to the accepted premises of the franchise.  The Next Generation has had many stories about bad seeds within Starfleet but this is different.  Here, the entire idea of moral superiority is being questioned.  Just as The Clone Wars did for Star Wars, DS9 broadened the philosophical playing field for Star Trek.  It's good to test the assumptions.  It makes for rich stories.  It allows the concept to grow.

Evidently, there was much debate among the creative staff about whether or not to kill off Calvin Hudson, the leader of the Maquis, at the end of the episode.  In the end, they decided against, presumably hoping to bring him back.  Unfortunately, the Maquis never gained much of a purchase over the long run.  There are a few more stories but both the group and their arc are eventually overwhelmed by the Dominion.  Even on Voyager, the Maquis identity of some of the characters doesn't hold much relevance beyond the initial stages.

Acting Notes

Tony Plana played the role of Amaros, another Maquis leader.  He was born José Antonio Plana in Havana, Cuba, April 19, 1952.  His family moved to Miami in 1960.  He graduated from Loyola Marymount, then trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.

Plana has made guest appearances on 24, Desperate Housewives and Body of Proof among other series.  He won a Satellite Award for his portrayal of Ignacio Suarez on Ugly Betty.  Films include An Officer and a Gentlemen, Three Amigos and Goal!  He teaches acting at both Cal State - Dominguez Hills and Rio Hondo College.  

Plana is an active volunteer for civil rights and immigration reform.


  1. I've never seen this because I never got into 9 but I like the speech. Think about the world now.... sad to see fear and prejudice have taken hold.

    1. I think the speech is an important message for those of us who observe the madness of the Middle East from the safety of our North American homes. Is there tension here, too? Of course. But the powder keg waiting to explode that is everyday Israel/Palestine is unfathomable from where we sit.

  2. Interesting. I remember Plana from DH.

    1. I've never watched Desperate Housewives. Is it good?