WARNING: The below article contains spoilers for DS9's
"Homefront". Stay alert.
In brief: Once the show gets to Earth, it never looks back. Let's hope
part two can be as gripping.
Written by: Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by: David Livingston
Brief summary: Evidence of Changeling infiltration sends Sisko and
Odo to Earth, where he must balance planetary security against
Now *this* strikes me as a particularly interesting use of the
Dominion and of the Founders. I could care less about whether the
Dominion actually has an all-out attack planned; what's interesting
here is how Sisko and the rest of Starfleet is dealing with the
possibility. The question of exactly how much freedom Earth can, or
*should*, give up for the sake of defending their home is a very
powerful one when looked at under the right circumstances, and I
found it pretty compelling in "Homefront".
I wasn't nearly as impressed with the early part of the episode, before
Sisko and Odo leave for Earth. While the actual briefing was nicely
moody and many of the *ideas* were workable, the execution felt off.
In particular, O'Brien's and Bashir's "Battle of Britain" aftermath with
Quark felt totally wrong -- partly because I still expected some
aftermath to "Hippocratic Oath" and never got it, but primarily because
the scene was back in the "Quark makes everyone cringe, especially
the viewer" style that we've seen way too often. The Dax/Odo
"furniture movers" concept was a mixed case; I like the idea of Dax as
a practical joker, particularly on a level so subtle that no one but the
target will get it, but the dialogue surrounding it just didn't work for
me. The only isolated exchanges on the station that *did* work
completely for me were both involving the wormhole -- first, there
was the question of whether the Prophets would recognize Sisko with
the beard, and then especially the Kira/Worf discussion of gods.
Worf's "our gods are dead [...] they were more trouble than they were
worth" ranks among the best speeches he's had since joining DS9, I
Once the preliminaries were taken care of, however (and everyone but
Brooks, Lofton, and Auberjonois got their token scenes :-) ), the
show really took off. The abruptness of Sisko's promotion to head of
Starfleet Security not only was an intelligent move on Starfleet's part
(which seems rare for the top brass these days), but also served to put
us in Sisko's shoes for a while, as he was as surprised by it as we
were. That move, combined with Commander Benteen's hastily
added "that you know of" to Leyton's remark that Odo was the first
Changeling he'd ever met, served to give us a feeling that for once,
Starfleet had matters well in hand.
The rest of the episode served to undermine that feeling at every turn.
Sisko manages to convince President Jaresh-Inyo to tighten security
(using, as Jaresh-Inyo understatedly put it, a "very effective entrance"
by Odo)? Well, only within certain limits -- which clearly are not
good enough. Sisko gets everything put in place at Starfleet
Headquarters? In strolls a Changeling masquerading as Admiral
Leyton, caught only by Odo's keen sense of hostility. Sisko
introduces blood screenings for Starfleet officers and their families?
His own father objects strenuously, putting the program at risk, and
also suggests a way that a "really smart" shape-shifter could beat the
very test Sisko was relying on. The middle section of the show had to
get across the feeling that no matter what Sisko and Starfleet did, it
wouldn't matter -- and that sense of futility became very powerful
Sisko's father Joseph, in addition to serving as either a voice of
reason or of frustration (depending on who has your sympathies),
was also just a treat to watch. He has a slightly overly dramatic sense
of delivery -- but having seen Brock Peters elsewhere, I think that's a
trait of the character and not of the actor. (It certainly fits well with
Sisko; listening to the two of them was very much a "dueling pregnant
pauses" at times. :-) ) Joseph Sisko seems very much like any
number of people I know who've had a very full life and have no
intention of stopping now, regardless of what anyone thinks (despite
his claim that he is "too old to work two jobs!") -- and his argument
with his son when security arrives to take a blood screening
encapsulized the entire question of the show: is safety worth losing
certain freedoms -- and if so, how many and which ones? Ben
Franklin's old adage (at least, I think it is) that "those who would
sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither" was very much in mind
for the latter part of "Homefront", and the use of Joseph Sisko
personalized that conflict extremely well.
The only interruptions in the last forty minutes or so of the show came
from Nog, and I've fairly mixed feelings about them. On the one
hand, it certainly makes sense for us to see Nog given that they're on
Earth, and many of his problems and attempted solutions are also
credible. On the other hand ... well, it's Nog, and he's just out of
place in a show trying to get as affecting and as "deep" as this one
tried to. This particular subplot might be salvageable if "Paradise
Lost" does something neat with it -- in particular, it would be worth
pointing out that Sisko, despite having "the weight of the world on his
shoulders", is still taking the time to consider individuals, as that bears
on the main point of the show -- but I fear it's just going to be fluff.
Much of "Homefront", then, was basically setup -- but as a setup, it
raised a lot of extremely interesting questions, and I hope "Paradise
Lost" does as good a job of resolving them as "Homefront" did of
introducing them. During Sisko's speech in "The Maquis, Part II"
two years ago about "it's easy to be a saint in Paradise", I never
dreamed we'd face the issues of Earth as Paradise this head-on, and
it's nice to see.
So, some smaller points:
-- The uncomfortable feeling of the episode was somewhat stronger
for those who watch both DS9 and "Babylon 5", I think. Robert
Foxworth, who played Admiral Leyton here (quite well), is playing a
recurring role on B5 (General Hague) that also deals with defending
Earth -- and one that also puts him at odds with the President. As
such, I kept hearing General Hague's lines in my head while Leyton
was speaking, which was a decidedly eerie feeling.
-- Also from the "hey, she looks familiar!" file was Susan Gibney,
who played Leyton's aide. Sharp-eyed TNG watchers will probably
remember her as Dr. Leah Brahms, co-designer of the Enterprise and
occasional holodeck fantasy of Geordi's.
-- Despite the fact that I wasn't enchanted with the "Battle of Britain"
scene of Bashir and O'Brien in Quark's, I have to say that both actors
had a great deal of fun with it, Colm Meaney in particular.
-- The question of time: I found the statement that there hasn't been a
state of planetary emergency declared in a century (aside from the
Borg) an interesting one. Assuming that Jaresh-Inyo was speaking
loosely, I'd imagine he meant the incident with the Probe in "Star Trek
IV" -- given that there was a distress signal sent out, there must have
been a planetary emergency declared at the time. That's close to a
century ago. (If ST4 wasn't one, then the next best option would be
V'Ger's attack in the first film, which would be even closer to a
-- I'm still not entirely certain how every power system on the planet
got knocked out simultaneously; given how many areas must be on
independent power, that strikes me as next to impossible to manage.
Given that it's mostly a means to an end dramatically, I'm not
particularly concerned ... but I *am* puzzled.
-- "Give us the authority we need, Mr. President, and we will take
care of the rest." Warning bells are going off here...
That should about cover it. "Homefront" had a few too many little
problems for me to feel comfortable giving it a 10, but it was quite
good overall, and well worth a look. I hope "Paradise Lost" doesn't
drop the ball here; we'll know soon enough.
So, wrapping up:
Writing: The Nog stuff felt a bit forced, but the main ideas of the
episode were set up and delivered quite well indeed.
Directing: From the slight unreal feel of the faux-Leyton's
conversation with Odo, to the tight close-ups on both Siskos
during their primary argument ... this one's a keeper.
Acting: No complaints. Brooks, Lofton and Auberjonois were all
quite good, and every guest star down the line was effective.
OVERALL: A 9, I think. Nice piece of work.
"Paradise Lost" -- 'nuff said.
Tim Lynch (Harvard-Westlake School, Science Dept.)
"Benjamin Lafayette Sisko -- what the hell has gotten into your head?"
-- Joseph Sisko
Copyright 1995, Timothy W. Lynch. All rights reserved, but feel free to ask...
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