Earth in danger and trust at a premium. Things get tense on the episode that originally aired on January 6,1996. This is Paradise Lost.
Station Log Stardate 49364: Paradise Lost
With the Federation in danger and the Earth threatened by shapeshifters, Sisko uncovers a plot that may be even more insidious than a shape-shifting invasion.
Sisko is unsure that the changelings were responsible for the shutdown of Earths power. Upon investigating, Odo discovers that Red Squad was beamed back minutes after the power outage. It seems that Red Squad was used for a clandestine mission and Sisko wants to know why. Contacting one of the Admirals in charge, Sisko is instructed to erase the record of Red Squads action before the blackout. He soon learns that Layton had instructed the cadets to complete a mission that was supposed to be top secret.
Back in New Orleans, Joseph and Jake Sisko begin working on reopening the restaurant with the intent to feed the armed Federation troops that have been assigned to protect the streets. Soon the restaurant is back open and Joseph soon finds that his son is bothered by something going on. Nog soon visits the Captain where Sisko learns that Red Squad looks to Captain Sisko as a hero and the Captain requests a visit. Demanding Nog introduce him to a member of the Squad, Sisko arranges a meeting with Cadet Riley Shepard. Upon talking to the Cadet, Sisko learns that Red Squad was responsible for the power outage, not the shapeshifters as Admiral Layton claimed. It seems that Layton has an ulterior motive.
Using the information they have learned, Sisko and Odo take their evidence to the Federation President Jaresh- Inyo who is shocked at the news. Soon it becomes clear that Layton has committed treason against the Federation and admits to the Captain that he has used Sisko’s position to spur on the perceived threat of the Changelings on Earth. Layton, knowing that Sisko will not stand by and let this happen, orders the Captain back to DS9. Needing some time to think, Sisko takes a walk and runs into Chief O’Brien only the chief is still on DS9. Revealing himself to be a shapeshifter, Not-O’Brien reveals that there are only four Dominion shapeshifters on earth and that is more than enough to destabilize the Federation. The Shapeshifter leaves, promising that they have only just begun their attack on the Alpha Quadrant.
Captain Sisko, knowing his back is against the wall, talks to his father and decides to contact DS9 on a Bajoran frequency. Giving Kira some instructions, Odo and Sisko break into Starfleet files only to discover that Layton has reassigned dozens of officers to key positions within Starfleet. It appears that Layton is planning a coup of his own. He soon encounters Commander Benteen who,shocked to see Sisko still on Earth, informs Sisko that she has been given command of the USS Lakota. Soon Sisko takes his information to the President where they forge a test to prove that Sisko is indeed a shapeshifter.
Arrested, Sisko is visited by Admiral Layton who makes it clear that he has plans to take over Starfleet, removing the President from power. Layton intends to lock down Earth and the Federation until the Changeling Threat is over. After Layton leaves, Odo stages a rescue of his Captain informing Sisko that Kira is on her way with the Defiant. It appears that the strange behavior of the wormhole was due to the Admiral as well and now Sisko plans to put an end to the charade. Sisko informs Layton that he is aware of the Admirals plans but Layton informs Sisko that he has sent the USS Lakota to intercept the Defiant with the implication that the ship is under the command of Shapeshifters.
With the Defiant under fire by the USS Lakota, Sisko and Layton discuss the Admiral’s treachery against the Federation. Sisko is distraught at the fact that his former commander has fallen so far even telling Captain Benteen to destroy another Federation ship. Sisko tells the Captain to stand down, telling her that she knows that the Defiant has not been taken over by Shapeshifters. Having suffered over twenty casualties between the two ships, the USS Lakota stands down and allows the Defiant to proceed with their mission. Sisko calmly informs Layton that his plans have fallen apart and that the Admiral is fighting the wrong war. It is clear Layton has lost and he begrudgingly relinquishes his rank and command to Ben Sisko.
With the threat over, Ben, Jake and the rest of the crew return to Deep Space Nine knowing that, while the shapeshifters are still there, the integrity of the Federation remains intact.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
Wow, The Dominion didn’t even have to lift a finger in order to nearly destabilize the Federation. Using the natural distrust all solids seem to have, the changeling saw this as an opportunity to weaken the very enemy that they are now facing and it worked like a charm and, with Admiral Layton they didn’t have to wait long. I think the O’Brien shapeshifter summed it up best, ‘In the end, It’s Your fear that will destroy you’.
As I said in the review of the last episode, this is just the beginning of a long and carefully orchestrated war between the Federation and the Dominion. Re-watching the series, I am impressed with how slow and methodical the writers have been setting up the events to come. Even subtle things like the idea that even your favorite character could be a changeling is placed in your head with these episodes, changing your perspective episode by episode. This accompanied by the fantastic cast makes me continue my stance that Deep Space Nine is one of, if not THE, best representation of Star Trek as a series so far. Not only does it cover the sociopolitical commentary that the franchise is best known for, but it also deals with deeper issues such as trust, love and of course the repercussions of every day actions.
One action that we are starting to see the repercussions of is a certain murder of a shapeshifter at the hands of Odo. It has been well established that a Changeling has never harmed another Changeling and when Odo encountered the Changeling in Homefront, the animosity was clear. What do the other Changelings have in store for our beloved Shape-shifting Constable? Well, you will just have to wait and see.
What was really fascinating was how simple it was to nearly destabilize Star Fleet and the Federation. You would think that after the infiltration of Star Fleet by the bug aliens from the episode Conspiracy, that they would have a much better security, but I guess with Picard having foiled that plan, they figure that some random Captain will always be around to save the day. Luckily, they have been right so far…
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- What is it with Admirals in Star Fleet becoming corrupt? I swear it seems that once they get that frame around their pips all of their morals and sense of duty goes out the window and they become nothing but mindless bureaucrats. Maybe this is a commentary on Executive leadership or Starfleet needs a serious shakeup.
- It appears that the Excelsior class ship is still in use even after over 50 years. This must have been one really good ship!
- We meet Cadet Riley Shepard in this episode, he will be back.
- We never see Admiral Layton again, even though he seemed to have been setup to be a major character.
- We never see nor hear from Commander Benteen again. I hope she managed to survive the wars to come.
- Colm Meany gets a chance to stretch his legs a little with a tremendous performance as a Shape Shifter, there is a moment where you actually forget that he is the same actor that plays O’Brien.
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: Crossfire
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Late To The Game 8/22/2021 (Originally published 9/2/2019)
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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