Section 31. While we have gotten to know a bit more about the secretive organization within the Federation through recent episodes of Star Trek Discovery, it was Deep Space Nine that the subversive organization first appeared. In what marks their second appearance, originally airing on March 3, 1999, this is Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges.
Station Log Stardate Undetermined: Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges
Section 31 returns and Julian Bashir finds himself ensnared in their latest schemes as they attempt to ensure the Romulan’s remain partnered with The Federation in the upcoming war with the Dominion.
After a rather heated meeting between the Klingons and the Romulans, Kira wishes the Romulan Senator Cretak a safe trip to the medical conference. Preparing to go to the same conference, Julian discusses his planned speech with Garak on the promenade. That night, however, Julian is shocked when he is visited by a man from his past, one Luther Sloan.
Despite Julian’s shock, Sloan informs Julian that the Doctor is now a member of Section 31 and that he has a job to do. Using Julian’s attendance at the Romulan Medical conference, Sloan informs Julian that he is to gather information on the Romulan Leadership. It is clear that Sloan is already preparing for the aftermath of the upcoming war with the Dominion. With his instructions in place, Sloan leaves giving Julian something to consider.
The next day, Julian informs Sisko about his meeting with Sloan to which the Captain instructs the Doctor to perform his Section 31 assignment as asked. It seems that both Sisko and Admiral Ross agree that this is an opportunity to figure out just who Section 31 is.
Toasting to the alliance with the Romulans with a ‘legal’ glass of Romulan Ale, Ross, Cretak and Julian come face to face with an undercover Sloan going by the name of Wendell Greer. Pulling the Doctor aside, Sloan informs Julian of his mission and, afterward, Julian briefs Admiral Ross of Sloan’s deception. Ross agrees that Sloan’s presence is concerning and encourages Julian to play along. Soon Julian discovers that he is being tasked to diagnose if Senator Koval, the chairman of the Tal Shiar is ill or not.
At the reception, Julian is confronted by Koval concerning a certain virus known as The Quickening. Later, during his presentation concerning The Quickening, Koval is front and center and, afterwards, Sloan questions Julian about Koval’s illness. It is clear that Sloan is interested in killing Koval using his possible illness. Afterwards, Julian briefs Admiral Ross about his discussion and it becomes apparent that Sloan has an operative in the Romulan Empire. Julian is concerned when Ross makes it clear that the Doctor is to do nothing with this knowledge. The next day Julian is shocked to learn that Admiral Ross has been incapacitated having had an aneurysm that very morning.
Julian, realizing that he is now alone, approaches Cretak about his findings. Cretak is reluctant to assist but finally agrees to help the Doctor even though it is dangerous for her to do so. Julian calls Sloan and informs him that he is not sure that Koval has Tuvan Syndrome. Sloan is concerned and asks the Doctor to get a sample from Koval to verify if the Romulan is ill or not.
Back at the conference, Julian arranges to get his sample but is sidelined when Koval escorts the Doctor to another room. Soon it is clear that Doctor Bashir is in the hands of the Tal Shiar and they begin their rather invasive interrogation. After his interrogation, Bashir is brought before the Romulan Continuing Committee and the Doctor informs them of his information on Sloan. Soon, however, he discovers that the Committee does not believe him and has information on Sloan that negates the Doctor’s story. Much to Julian’s surprise, Sloan is brought in before the Committee where it is revealed that he is a member of Star Fleet intelligence. They believe that Sloan is there for revenge for the death of Admiral Fugisake. With the information at hand, Senator Kretak is relieved of duty and, Just as it looks as if Sloan is going to be taken into custody, Sloan lashes out and is soon killed by the Romulan guards.
Back on the USS Bellerophon, Julian confronts Admiral Ross about Sloan and soon Ross removes his badge taking the questions off the record. Ross admits that he was indeed working along side Sloan and arranged to beam Sloan off planet just as Sloan was to be killed. It seems that it was in fact Koval who was the mole and their real target was to remove Cretak from her position of power as she would have pushed for Romulus to make peace with the Dominion. Bashir is disgusted in the matter and gets no comfort from Admiral Ross.
Back on DS9, Julian is visited by Sloan who shows appreciation for Julian’s participation in the mission. Sloan likes the Doctor and will certainly be visiting him again in the future.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
With the advent of Section 31 we get the realization that, even though the Federation is somewhat of a utopia, it has not remained the exclusive utopia it is on it’s own. In fact there are shadowy parts that do all they can to keep it that way. I say Exclusive Utopia on purpose. If you notice, as the series progresses, even with the Federation’s inclusivity of other species, it always seems more interested in preserving specific rights of the charter members than any others. Sure, the Federation accepts new members in a regular basis but, as time has moved on, the founding members seem to have had the larger benefit, specifically the Humans and Vulcans. With that in mind you begin to see the workings of the nefarious Section 31 who are always working to maintain the paradise set forth by the original alliance between Vulcans, Humans, Andorians and Tellarites, even though the last two are rarely even mentioned in the larger scheme of things.
For Bashir, this is really only the beginning of his journey with Section 31. While he was ‘recruited’ earlier in the series, it seems he had all but forgotten about Sloan and his nefarious ways. While we get to see a great performance from Alexander Siddig in his dealings with Sloan and the shadow it is through Sloan that we really get a sense of who this organization is. They are the MI-6, the Shadow Government, the Puppet Masters behind the ‘real’ government. This is the organization that, as per Star Fleet Charter are ‘allowed for extraordinary measures to be taken in times of extreme threat’. Interestingly, to them, The Federation is under extreme threat at all times. William Sadler in the role does an incredible job portraying not only the character of Sloan but also the ideals of Section 31. He is a man that will stop at nothing to succeed and he makes that abundantly clear. This is not the last we see of Sloan either…
All in all, This episode really does a wonderful job not only showcasing Julian Bashir but also firmly establishing Section 31 as a definitive part of the Star Trek continuity. That being said, unfortunately we only get to see Section 31 one last time in this series as the shadow organization was introduced a little too late in the story to really have any long lasting story arcs. While their actions are quite vital to the Dominion War itself, we don’t really find out more about them until the advent of both Star Trek Enterprise and Discovery. Interestingly, rumors of a Section 31 series are still floating about so maybe we will get to see more? The question is…do we really want to through? Sometimes it’s best to let a mystery be mysterious. Only time will tell.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- I found it interesting that Tuvan syndrome primarily affected Vulcans, Romulans and Rigelians implying that Rigelians may have a common ancestry with the other two.
- We get to see a deeper and darker side of Admiral Ross implying, once again, that most Admirals in Star Fleet can easily be corrupted for the ‘right’ reasons.
- The USS Bellerophon is the same class ship (Intrepid Class) as the USS Voyager.
- We get a direct reference to the season four episode The Quickening with Bashir presenting his study of the disease by the same name.
- We find out that Romulan Ale is officially legal in the Federation, despite many of our past ship’s Captains finding a way to serve it anyhow…
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Late To The Game 3/11/2020
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