Retro Review: For the Cause

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Eddington gives Sisko evidence that Kasidy Yates is a Maquis agent, forcing Sisko to investigate his lover.

Plot Summary: Just after the Federation decides to send replicators to Cardassia to help with rebuilding after Klingon attacks, Eddington and Odo warn Sisko that they have circumstantial evidence that Kasidy Yates may be a Maquis smuggler – a grave concern for Starfleet, which fears that the Maquis may seize the shipment of replicators. Though happy in his relationship with Yates and disbelieving the accusations, Sisko tells Odo to proceed with an investigation. When Yates appeals to Sisko, telling him that a health inspection would make her freighter late for a rendezvous with another ship, Sisko lets her leave without the inspection but orders Worf and the Defiant to follow her. Worf observes the freighter entering the Badlands and encountering another ship, forcing Sisko to acknowledge that Yates is likely working for the Maquis. After trying to persuade her to go to Risa with him instead of making her next delivery, Sisko decides to follow her ship to its next rendezvous on the Defiant, putting Eddington in charge of the replicator transfer. While Yates waits in the Badlands, presumably for another Maquis ship, with the Defiant observing under cloak, Eddington stuns Kira with a phaser and tells his security detail that he is under orders to take temporary control of Deep Space Nine. When Odo begins to wonder whether Yates really planned to lure Sisko away from the station, Sisko beams aboard her ship, where she says she was told only to wait for a Maquis ship. Before Sisko can return to the station, Eddington and the replicators disappear aboard a Vulcan freighter working for the Maquis. Sisko promises to court-martial Eddington, and though he tells Yates that he will wait for her, he turns her over to Starfleet custody to be tried and imprisoned when she returns to the station to accept responsibility for her actions. Meanwhile, Ziyal tries to begin a relationship with Garak, who at first suspects her motives, then accepts that as Cardassian exiles, they have much in common.

Analysis: Though “For the Cause” isn’t one of my favorite episodes, I remember being rather shocked when it first aired that after spending so long setting up Yates as a love interest for Sisko, and finally showing viewers that the two had become intimate, the writers decided to destroy that relationship for the foreseeable future in a way that neither left Sisko free to date as widely as Kirk nor to mourn Yates and move on. In retrospect – knowing that these characters are going to get married and conceive a child – it’s fascinating to watch this huge crisis in their relationship, a crisis from which I did not really expect them to recover, and it’s not entirely clear whether they expect it either no matter what promises they make to one another. This is because the source of their conflict, the Maquis, is never properly discussed between them, neither here nor later. By the time Eddington is done playing Jean Valjean to Sisko’s Javert in “For the Uniform,” we know most of his grievances against the Federation and the reasons for his sympathies with the rebels who feel that Starfleet abandoned them after trying to take their homes away for a peace treaty with Cardassia. And really, at this point, they make more and more sense. Cardassia is on paper at least an ally of Bajor and less an issue for the Federation than the Klingons with whom they’re at war. Couldn’t Starfleet at least mention if not make a priority of stopping the persecution of the settlers in Cardassian space before sending all those replicators to help Cardassia rebuild its empire? Even Kira only gets one sulky “Bajor didn’t get so many replicators” before being sidelined and shot. The fact that Kasidy is more concerned with telling Ben she loves him than explaining why she is working for the Maquis is at the core of what’s wrong with this episode.

Because she’s apologetic and comes back to face trial, all will be forgiven by Sisko later on, and it’s supposed to be forgiven by the audience even now. But that makes Yates seem either frivolous or gullible – either she accepted the Maquis runs because she didn’t care about breaking the law or she accepted them because she’d been talked into feeling sorry for the Maquis without their cause truly being her own. During the long dragging scenes where Sisko and Odo wait to see whether her freighter will meet with a Maquis ship, there’s plenty of time for a scene with Yates that will explain her actions – whether she took the job for money or because she lost someone close to her in a Cardassian attack or out of the same resentment that Eddington expresses toward the Federation and its hypocrisy. But the script is determined to try to drag out the suspense, even though by then it’s obvious she’s either guilty as hell or not really who she seems to be (the first time through, I was half-expecting to learn that she was really a Changeling testing Sisko). The chemistry between Yates and Sisko takes a long time to develop, which might be because they’re both adults wary of diving headfirst into romance, but for a moment it seems like that might be because she’s always had a secret agenda and he might always have suspected as much. I will confess that I wanted her to be more like Eddington – a spy, a power player, someone with passionate feelings about the politics of the region in which she lives and works, someone who might teach Sisko something just as Cal Hudson did when Sisko lost his best friend to the Maquis. He may not like them, but Sisko can’t pretend not to understand them, especially not when he has a first officer who feels a certain kinship with them.

There are so many opportunities squandered in the last minutes, apparently because the writers hadn’t yet made up their minds about whether they wanted to keep Kasidy as a love interest for Ben or write her off entirely. Imagine if he discovered that he was the sort of man who could fall for a woman’s wiles so that she could use his station as a base to help her cause. Imagine if she confessed her love yet added that the safety of the colonists mattered to her even more. Imagine if he asked her why and she refused to answer, leaving him to wonder whether she, like Eddington, was hiding her true personality and feelings behind a bland, pleasant veneer. To this day I’m not sure what Yates believes in beyond the importance of family, which never comes into play in “For the Cause.” If Sisko doesn’t look quite as stupid as he might for failing to notice that the woman who shares his bed is also sharing supplies with terrorists, it’s largely because Odo looks more foolish; he has the opportunity to transform into a box and hide on Yates’ ship, but he doesn’t, choosing instead to obey Sisko’s orders to the letter for a change and let her go unobserved. He fails to notice that Eddington is acting suspiciously and takes hours to guess that maybe diverting Sisko is the only reason Yates has been sent on yet another supply run to the Badlands. Okay, maybe Odo doesn’t notice that Eddington is acting suspiciously because no one has really taken the time to get to know Eddington, who once seemed like an ambitious Starfleet officer – as with Yates, it’s hard to figure out whether he passionately wants to help the Maquis or just passionately wants to be in charge of things, easier to do as an outlaw than in a rank structure. The episode focuses on Sisko’s courtly dilemma, love versus duty, at the expense of the far more interesting dilemmas of these closet Maquis living among Starfleet officers, unable to argue the causes closest to their hearts to protect their undercover agenda.

What works best about the Sisko/Yates/Eddington storyline is that it’s not Ziyal/Garak. The only believable moment of that entire subplot for me is when Bashir sees Garak paying attention to Ziyal and gets jealous, excuse me, concerned. I know that there’s a contingent of readers here who like to claim that this is my own personal perversion, so let me add that when I interviewed Andrew Robinson in 2000, I asked him whether the relationship between Garak and Ziyal was an attempt to heterosexualize Garak, and he said that while he had never specifically asked the writers, there was “never really any investment on their part” in developing the relationship, while he had always played Garak as having crushes on both men and women (“I thought, this is an alien! Who knows what alien sexuality is, if indeed there is strict heterosexuality or homosexuality, those delineations…that was more interesting to me in the playing of Garak”). Even though Ziyal is now being played by an older actress, the character seems much too young for Garak and the two have too little in common besides being the only Cardassians on the station – yes, they’re both in exile, but Ziyal is the beloved daughter of Dukat while Garak is his bitter enemy. There’s no chemistry, there’s little conversation – in fact the most exciting moment of the courtship is when Kira tells Garak what she’ll do to him if he hurts Ziyal – and, as we know after the fact, there are no consequences, for not even the death of one of the principals will have much emotional impact upon the other during the Dominion War to come. I like to assume that the spy Garak simply can’t resist the opportunity to find out whether Ziyal is plotting to kill him or recruit him as an ally, and then, finding a simple offer of pleasure with no strings attached, he can think of no reason not to occupy himself while Bashir plays toy soldiers with O’Brien.

What do you think? Chat with other fans in the Star Trek: Deep Space nine forum at The Trek BBS.

Michelle Erica Green

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Michelle Erica Green

Writer, mother, reader, traveler, teacher, partner, photographer, activist, friend, fangirl, student, critic, citizen, environmentalist, feminist, vegetarian, enthusiast. TrekToday staffer for many years, former news reporter, current retro reviewer.

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