You Talking Season 5 DS9 to Me? – “Blaze of Glory”

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Season 5, Episode 23

Two characters who can’t stand one another having to team up is a classic formula that Star Trek has used on a number of occasions. “Blaze of Glory” isn’t an amazing episode, but it is a solidly entertaining one that relies on this tried-and-true story type to put to bed a recurring antagonist and one of Deep Space Nine’s long-running plotlines.

I mostly felt the need to cover this once since I already did “For the Uniform,” which depicted the macho battle of wills between Benjamin Sisko and Michael Eddington. That episode clearly illustrated the blinding rage Sisko had where his former comrade-turned-traitor was concerned. I criticized it for not examining any of the horrible repercussions Sisko’s actions suggested, and for morally absolving him of his war crimes with a shrug. “Blaze of Glory” isn’t nearly as problematic in that regard, but there is a disappointing lack of follow through as far as character work goes.

With every episode that deals with the Maquis I complain about how potentially interesting but underbaked in execution they were as a storyline. I won’t bother doing that again here since they’re finally put out to pasture in the world of Deep Space Nine. But where the episode falters is in giving us any significant window into Sisko’s feelings about the Maquis or examining the repercussions of his conflict with them.

Through Eddington’s various rants in his appearances, the show cast a surprising (but refreshing) critical eye on the Federation and gave some credence to why someone would want to leave it to be a freedom fighter. And at one point during a heated argument in this episode, Eddington accuses Sisko of hating the Maquis because they represented a blemish on his record. There’s no evidence this is true and it could very well be projection on Eddington’s part. Although Sisko did hate being taken off of his Eddington assignment – did any of that anger transfer over to the Maquis as a whole? I think the show dropped the ball on not confirming this or running with it as a character arc for Sisko.

I think one of the reasons why the Maquis were kind of dramatically lifeless was because of the lack of emotional resonance with any of the characters after their introduction, especially Sisko. There was a lot of drama that could have been mined from it, because it’s essentially a civil war scenario – Federation vs. ex-Federation. Sisko expresses general regret and sadness over the situation, but that’s about as far as it goes. There’s the acknowledgment that they betrayed their oath, but even then there’s something limp about it. At least with Eddington there were feelings brought up in Sisko (even if it was over-the-top destructive fury).

I just think it would have been interesting if Eddington was right about Sisko having animosity towards the Maquis, if that initial sympathy eventually gave way to annoyance and even a little hatred over this constant thorn in his side. Instead we don’t really get anything of substance from Sisko about his feelings towards the Maquis (except at the end, and it’s weird). And if there was one episode that needed it, it was this one.

“We intercepted one of the Maquis’ Xeets. I was as surprised as you that they’re still using that broke-ass site.”

Anyway. While having dinner with Jake and Nog, Benjamin is interrupted by Martok who has intercepted a transmission from the Maquis while doing patrol in his ship. It’s a cryptic message from a woman to someone named Michael about some missiles heading for Cardassia. Martok reveals that at one point the Klingon Empire gave cloaking devices to the Maquis to assist in their war against Cardassia. It’s a really fascinating idea that I wish the show could have dedicated more time to; there’s definitely a cool story there of shifting alliances, and displays the complex world Deep Space Nine created.

We also learn in an offhand way that the Maquis have basically been wiped out following Cardassia’s absorption into the Dominion. There’s something sad about that, these brave freedom fighters getting totally steamrolled by the Dominion war machine in a matter of days. It emphasizes how powerful and dangerous they are, not just because of their weapons and troops they yield, but because of the zero fucks they give about anything.

Martok theorizes that the Maquis missiles could have been armed with Klingon cloaking devices and would be undetectable until they reached Cardassia. And if Cardassia/the Dominion are attacked by human renegades, they could very well strike back at the Federation and kick off an intergalactic war.

Worf commands the Defiant to search the Badlands for any sign of the missiles, but they don’t find anything and are chased away by Jem’Hadar patrols. Sisko realizes a smaller ship is needed that won’t be detected as easily, as well as someone who knows what they’re looking for.

Enter Eddington, who’s bitterly lying in a Starfleet prison cell. After denying any knowledge of the Maquis plot to Sisko, he then implies otherwise and reveals that the missiles are programmed to change course at random and can only be deactivated from the launch site with a special code. He seems resigned to dying when the unavoidable intergalactic war starts and refuses to help.

Cut to Sisko calling Kira to inform her that he will be searching the Badlands in a runabout, and revealing that he’s taken Eddington with him against his will. Fun!

“Yeah, so I really got into the organic soy diet of the Maquis. Also, our ships are made of cruelty-free hemp and solar powered. No big deal. We really want to protect the environment while we’re murdering Cardassians.”

The scenes of Sisko and Eddington on the runabout are the center of the episode and the most entertaining parts. It’s interesting how the emotional tenor of their interplay has changed since their last meeting. Sisko has certainly calmed down a lot, but Eddington is maximally smarmy and angry about basically everything. It all makes sense, seeing as how Sisko is satisfied and at peace with his victory over Eddington (although he really shouldn’t be…), and Eddington is frustrated about being removed from leadership, imprisoned, and forced to read reports about all of his friends recently getting killed by the Dominion.

Eddington complains about replicated food and wistfully speaks about growing his own in the Maquis. His sanctimonious attitude is annoying as always, but it does give an interesting window into his life after leaving Starfleet, and apparently the organic, all-natural lifestyle of the Maquis? Sounds kind of crunchy, but then there was always something earthy and “angry hippie-ish” about the Maquis. Again, these are interesting details that we’re getting after they’re already gone!

“Repeat that transmission, jabroni. I double-dog dare ya.”

As mentioned, Eddington accuses Sisko of making his fight with the Maquis personal, and brings up Sisko’s old friend Cal Hudson. Hudson was a good character and his relationship with Ben helped personalize the conflict between the Federation and the Maquis. The fact that he disappeared after that seems like a missed opportunity – the show created Eddington as a Maquis nemesis for Sisko to struggle against when it already had one it could have used instead. And as quickly as Cal’s name is dropped, Eddington reveals that he died in a skirmish with the Cardassians. Brooks’ reaction is wonderfully acted, and you can see how gutted he is at learning this.

I guess it’s as good a way of dealing with Hudson as any at this point. But there’s something so anti-climactic about it, especially given the heightened emotions between the two during the Maquis two-parter in Season 2. He wasn’t just a friend to Sisko, but a close friend that went way back; their wives were friends too, and they were all almost family. It’s a decent dramatic punch to have him die off screen but feels like such a letdown all the same.

Eddington uses Hudson’s forgiveness and grace towards Sisko as a cudgel to beat him with in their argument. Sisko fires back with some personal attacks against Eddington, and accuses him of wanting to throw away his Starfleet uniform to play hero. Which seems pretty accurate, and I spoke previously about how being the leader of the Maquis seemed like a power fantasy for this mild-mannered nerd. And really, what was Eddington’s emotional connection to the Maquis outside of that? Sympathy for their plight is one thing, but betraying your uniform and defecting to them to help kill Cardassians is so many steps farther. I’ll repeat myself yet again and say that there’s an interesting story there that I wish we got. We previously saw Tom Riker similarly going all-out in his Maquis misadventure and Kira calling him out on his less-than-pure motivations for doing so (which he neither confirmed or denied). Eddington definitely has heroic fantasies, but overall it seems like he walks the walk and believed in the Maquis.

So Sisko’s accusations are clouded by his own dislike of Eddington, just as Eddington’s opinions on Sisko are jaded by his bitterness. The reality of these men is somewhere more in the middle, but there’s too much bad blood for them to see one another objectively. It’s nice and realistic character work, as it reflects how we can be too blinded by our animosity towards others to see them clearly.

Sisko is single-mindedly determined to stop the missiles, and despite their arguments he keeps coming back to the massive death toll as a way of convincing Eddington to help him. It’s a far cry from how insane Sisko acted last time they butted heads, but then I suppose the stakes are much higher this time and he’s had some time to clear his head. Good for him.

“Speaking of things you thought you lost… this sudoku’s really kicking your ass isn’t, Mike?”

Later on after they reach the Badlands, Sisko calmly informs Eddington that a couple of Jem’Hadar ships are approaching. He then unlocks Eddington’s handcuffs and excuses himself to get some coffee to goad Eddington into taking the helm. Eddington is incredulous, and Sisko bets that his supposed death wish isn’t as real as he wants him to believe. It’s a fun battle of wills, and Eddington finally relents and uses his knowledge of the Badlands to evade the Jem’Hadar ships. He agrees to help Sisko find and disarm the missiles, but promises that the two of them will have it out afterwards. Sisko almost enthusiastically agrees to throw down, but Eddington wants to kill him, not fight him. God, just fuck and get it over with, you two.

But as it turns out, they didn’t lose the Jem’Hadar ships and face destruction once again. Eddington comes up with a crazy plan to dissipate their trail and critically damage the ships. He’s piloting the ship, so he sends Sisko into the back to realign the engines while they’re still running. It’s a fun reversal of Sisko’s earlier bluff and the two of them make a great frenemy team. It works, and Sisko gets knocked around a bit by the shaking ship. I love how pissed he is when he comes back with a nasty scratch on his head; there’s something very human about his reaction to getting hit in the head and dealing with Eddington’s crap. Like in “For the Uniform,” Sisko’s emotions are on full display and there’s a rawness that’s a little unusual for Star Trek but endears us to his character all the same.

“My skull! My beautiful, smooth skull!”

The runabout approaches the launch site of the missiles, a dreary and foggy desolate planet. Sisko and Eddington are dismayed to find Jem’Hadar troops patrolling on the surface, who promptly start shooting at them. There is some more in-the-trenches hijinks between Sisko and Eddington that is fun and furthers the “mismatched buddy cop” adventure vibe of the story. The two of them overcome their attackers and dump the bodies only to discover piles of dead Maquis around the corner.

Eddington drops to his knees and is horrified at the cruel reversal of fate the Maquis have suffered. Up until recently, they were winning their war against the Cardassians and apparently were going to declare themselves an independent nation. And now they’re all dead.

“This wasn’t supposed to happen! We had the Cardassians’ social media site NeckBook on the run! We were going to go public with Maquitter as an IPO next month!”

Sisko is sympathetic, but determined to stop the missiles since these bodies will just be the beginning. He admits that maybe everyone failed in this situation, which seems very gracious if not a little nonsensical. Eddington points his weapon at Sisko and bitterly wishes that killing him would make him feel better.

They finally reach their destination, and a room opens to reveal a small group of ragged Maquis survivors, including a woman named Rebecca (from the message they intercepted) that Eddington introduces as his wife. Sisko demands to know what’s going on, and Eddington comes clean that there weren’t any missiles. Rebecca confirms that it was just a means of letting Eddington know that the last Maquis reached their fallback position on this planet. It’s consistent with Eddington’s pattern of misdirection and hiding things out in the open. He smarmily tells Sisko that he should be happy, since the missiles (and the threat of massive casualties) don’t exist. Sisko agrees and gives a toothy smile before decking Eddington right on his ass, saying that he still doesn’t like being lied to. LOL.

“Suuuuup, hubster. I was just telling the gang about ya. It’s Bill, right?”
“Eddington, you lying mischievous scamp, you fooled me once again! I could kiss you for your inevitable betrayal! Please, let me kiss you. With my fist.”

Eddington is eager to get to that beat down, but his wife stops him and reminds him that they need to escape. Oof. Finally meeting back up with your wife for the first time in months and getting your ass handed to you by your greatest enemy right in front of her and all your friends. That’s rough! You weren’t gonna win anyway.

They all get a move on back to the runabout, but more Jem’Hadar troops show up and start shooting. Sisko says he didn’t know Eddington was married, and he replies that it happened not long before he was arrested. The enemy closes in on them and Eddington gets hit. He tells Sisko to get Rebecca and the others back to the ship while he holds them off. Sisko chides him for his stubbornness but obeys the order.

Delirious with pain, Eddington calls out to his nonexistent comrades and tries to think of a song to sing for his final moments. It’s some gallows humor but does further illustrate the kind of guy he is. He revels in the romanticism of war and fighting, and yearns to create some epic meaning to it all. Popping out of his hiding spot, he promptly gets blasted about 20 times by the Jem’Hadar and manages to say “Rebecca” before dying. Again, he’s a total romantic nerd, taking the “dying with your love’s name on your lips” seriously. It’s dorky, but charming. RIP, you bald bastard.

“I have… but one scalp to give.” *gives*

Sisko catches up to Rebecca and the others and she’s like “hey, where’s my husband?” And Sisko is all, “ya, he’s ded girl” and she goes, “but… ok.” Hey, it happens. #hotwidowsclub

“Goodbye, my love. It was Ted something, right? Teddington Flaxawax maybe?

Oh, the subplot! It’s another wacky “deadly serious A-story / wacky sitcom B-story” mix that Star Trek loves. Except this one is actually charming and probably my favorite Nog-related story. As part of his field studies, Nog is working security and complains to Captain Sisko about having to deal with the Klingons. He says that they don’t listen to him and even look over his head and pretend he’s not there. There’s real pain when he recounts it. Sisko suggests that he handle it like a Klingon would – call them out on it.

You do NOT want to exceed 70 dB in the vicinity of this short nagus.

Nog focuses his ire on General Martok, apparently taking the old prison advice of going after the biggest guy in the cafeteria on your first day. After an embarrassing tumble in Quark’s, Nog sees the General hanging out in him and Jake’s old spot on the Promenade. Jake is tagging along and not really doing much, but it’s fun to see their adventures as adults.

Nog approaches Martok to usher him along, who barks back that he’ll move when he feels like it. Nog turns up the volume and quotes station regulations at him. The whole exchange is great, and Martok breaks first with that grumbly laugh of his (nothing warms my heart more than the sound of Martok’s wheezy pirate cackle). “Courage comes in all sizes,” he notes to his crew. “But don’t tempt fate,” he warns, and then scurries off. As I always say, the awesomeness of Martok cannot be overstated, and it’s great to see Nog earn his respect. He goes on to perform his duties with a newfound sense of self-respect and confidence.

“Cadet, you magnificent Ferengi!”

Back on the station, Sisko commiserates with Dax about Eddington. It’s an odd and somewhat awkward scene because of the weird shift in tone compared to everything that’s come before it, vis a vis Sisko and Eddington. Sisko proclaims that although he thought Eddington was a traitor, his dedication to the Maquis made him perhaps the most loyal man he ever met.

Wait, what?! You hated this guy so much you destroyed an entire planet to catch him, and now he’s literally your favorite person ever? Mr. “YOU BETRAYED YOUR UNIFORM!!!” Look, I understand the point of this scene is for Sisko to reach some sort of peace about Eddington (and for the series to give a final parting thought to one of its least favorite storylines), but they’re really overdoing it here. Dax wonders if there are any Maquis left (eh, one or two), and Sisko seems almost hopeful of the possibility that there are still some out there, plotting and planning.

Huh, planning what? The death of more Cardassians? Another, actual revenge/doomsday plot like the one you thought you were stopping? Seriously, they’re not planning parties. They’re freedom fighters, terrorists even. It’s such a bizarre swerve for Sisko and Dax to be wistfully singing the praises of these romantic figures. That’s the same trap Sisko accused Eddington (and Kira accused Tom Riker) of falling into. There’s nothing romantic or heroic about being a Maquis, it’s a life or death struggle that’s morally questionable at best. Sisko waxes poetic about the romanticism of a lost cause. Ha ha, yeah totally. How romantic was it when you used biological weapons to destroy the ecosystem of one of their widdle planets. What the fuck are we even doing right now, Deep Space Nine? Don’t shower deadly chemicals on my colony and try to tell me it’s rain.

“You know, in a way I think I loved Eddington more than my dead wife. And not figuratively, either. It’s weird I’m just now realizing this.”

Dax gets up to leave, and as if this scene wasn’t as stilted and tacked-on enough already, helpfully points out that “DAH, MAYBE YOU HAD MORE IN COMMON WITH EDDINGTON THAN YOU THINK.” Cool, Dax. Thanks. Yeah, he’s a mirror for me as well. Two sides of the same loony coin. Different cheeks in the same butt, with turds all the same.

This will be the series’ definitive conclusion to the Maquis storyline, and it’s just as well. I appreciated the drama and potential intrigue it introduced into the show’s world, but it was quickly overshadowed by the threat of the Dominion in the very same season. So it’s really appropriate in a meta way that they’re all literally killed off by the Dominion here. The Maquis seem like a quaint throwback to the smaller scale that Deep Space Nine initially had, but couldn’t really hold a candle to the bigger stuff that Seasons 3 and 4 would kick off. Its purpose was to set up Star Trek: Voyager, but that show seemed keen to sweep that whole component under the rug as quickly as possible and devote minimal attention to it.

Given the much larger and epic storylines Deep Space Nine introduced, it’s not surprising that its creators never seemed that interested in exploring or fleshing out the Maquis. The lack of interest was clear, and the end result of their appearances suffered because of it. In yet another meta twist, the idea of revolutionaries was a lot more interesting than the reality. Still, Eddington was an inspired addition in putting a face on the Maquis, and his storyline with Sisko provided some at times shocking but overall entertaining material. True to the complex and at times disappointing nature of life, the Maquis don’t get their final blaze of glory. But Eddington does at least, and although he wasn’t as virtuous as Trek’s typical players, he goes out as a hero just the same.

Stray Observations:

  • For some reason, Sisko reads the Jem’Hadar ship distances in astronomical units (AU’s) instead of the standard kilometers Star Trek always uses. The last time we had heard AU’s in Trek was in describing the enormous size of V’Ger’s cloud.
  • I’m probably the only person who thinks this, but I thought it would have been cool to do a longer-form story about the Maquis utilizing all the personalities that were established. It could have been a 3 or 4 parter that examined their point of view more (as it did so well in TNG’s “Preemptive Strike”). Deep Space Nine excelled in this type of serial storytelling, and it could have been a cool lead-up to Voyager. Using Ro Laren, Tom Riker, Cal Hudson, Torres, and even Chakotay in some sort of epic storyline with Starfleet and the Cardassians as villains.
  • Oh my god, the part where Sisko goes full auto and blasts two cloaked Jem’Hadar. Three of the most badass seconds of Trek ever.
  • Jake does that sitcom thing where he loves a food until someone tells him what it really is. Is that really a thing? Anyway, I love that Ben mixes some Ferengi ingredients (tube grubs) into an Earth dish.
  • The show has been name-dropping raktajino’s for a while, but I think this was the first instance that confirmed it’s Klingon coffee.
  • So Sisko brings like 10 of these Maquis onto his ship, and they don’t just kill him, or at least tie him up and steal the damn ship from him? They just patiently kick back as he delivers them to prison or wherever? It would seem like a tense situation!
  • More kudos for the Badlands VFX, they’re awesome.
Badfire, badfire, bad-fiyaaaaaaaa!!!