Starfleet Principles and Maquis Way
"Blaze of Glory" Plot Summary:
Starfleet intercepts a message reporting that the ravaged Maquis have launched cloaked missiles toward Cardassia. Sisko believes the only hope of preventing war with the Cardassians is to recruit Eddington to deactivate the missiles en route. They enter the Badlands and find the launch site, but a Jem'Hadar squadron has gotten there first. As Sisko soon learns, there never were any missiles. Eddington needed Sisko's help to evacuate the surviving Maquis from the planet. As Sisko and the refugees escape, Eddington dies trying to keep them safe.
I have a confession to make. I don't like the Maquis.
It's not that I don't like Eddington, or Ro Laren, or Tom Riker, or Chakotay. I like them very much. It's not even that I don't agree with Maquis supporters who believe the Federation leaders acted irresponsibly when they abandoned the citizens in the Demilitarized Zone. I have mixed feelings, yet I'm certainly sympathetic to the Maquis position. But I don't like what the Maquis has become for Star Trek.
The original idea was to challenge Starfleet and its highfalutin' principles. It's all well and good to sign treaties and declare that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, but quite a different matter when the minority is trampled by those dictates. Most of the Maquis we saw on TNG were former Starfleet officers who had serious ideological conflicts with the Federation: they believed that the terms of the peace with Cardassia violated the rights of Federation citizens.
This could have made for fascinating tension on Deep Space Nine and Voyager. One might expect a majority of Bajorans to sympathize with the Maquis struggle against Cardassia, as Kira once suggested they did. It would not have surprised me to learn that Eddington was working with Bajoran supporters all along.
I'm not sure where Kasidy Yates is supposed to be from, but it makes sense to me that someone with so many Bajoran contacts has Maquis sympathies herself. And aboard Voyager, I expected a lot more frustration from Maquis crewmembers when Captain Janeway started invoking the almighty Prime Directive, insisting that a Federation vessel can't interfere in local conflicts.
The Maquis from TNG and early DS9, like Cal Hudson and Ro Laren, seemed to take seriously their moral duty to prevent atrocities. But we rarely see those deeply committed Maquis any longer. Instead, they're looking increasingly like rebels without a cause.
Misfits and cutthroats should not be typical, especially in a group commanded by former Starfleet officers like Eddington and Chakotay, but they're what we see, more often than not. As Voyager's Doctor said in "Meld," most of the Maquis suffer from excess adrenaline. It's not clear why Eddington joined, but a martyr complex - the desire to be Les Miserables character Jean Valjean - definitely played a big role.
Tom Riker and B'Elanna Torres joined because they were fed up with Starfleet restrictions. Tom Paris joined, by his own admission, to fight and to drink. Ken Dalby joined to bash Cardassian skulls over an incident on Bajor. Lon Suder joined to kill - as he said, he never particularly cared whether he was killing Cardassians, Starfleet officers, or fellow Maquis.
I can't say I was happy with the Doctor's assessment that the Maquis are genetically and hormonally predisposed to aggression and anger regardless of cause, but it sure had a ring of truth.
What are we to make of the revelation that Eddington's ancestry is Canadian? Are Canadians going to become such an oppressed minority on this planet that life on a new planet will become preferable to them to life on Earth? We've never received an ideological explanation of Eddington's hatred for Starfleet and his commitment to defending the homes of others.
One might say the same thing about Chakotay. When he joined Voyager's crew, he was a spiritual man with deep convictions who joined the Maquis to defend his people. But recently, we learned that he only began to value his heritage when his father was killed, and that he has an independent streak willing to toss aside principles for heroics. He's looking more like his Maquis peers every day, and I'm not a bit impressed.
When I hear Chakotay tell Janeway to start thinking like a Maquis, to compromise her values for a short-term fix, I get really annoyed. If thinking like a Maquis means what it has meant so far on Voyager - being opportunistic, protecting one's own best interests at the expense of others - then it opposes everything Trek has always stood for. This isn't infinite diversity in infinite combinations, it's letting the lowest common denominator have its way. No wonder Janeway didn't want to listen to Chakotay in "Alliances" or "Scorpion Part I."
As for the Maquis on DS9, what few of them are left...what did Sisko do with the group he rescued in "Blaze of Glory"? No one ever told us whether he sent them to jail, or let them sneak off the runabout to return to their people, since it seems the Maquis in the Alpha Quadrant are no more. I'm surprised more of them didn't want to go out battling the Jem'Hadar, who are now Cardassia's allies. Why, after refusing to accept Federation amnesty, would the Maquis turn to Starfleet now?
Eddington returned the human face of the Maquis to Star Trek. He said all the right things about how the Federation had failed the Maquis, but I don't know what they could have done differently - started a war with Cardassia that would have cost the lives of millions? That was what Picard was trying to avoid in the first place, with the treaty that created settlements in the Demilitarized Zone. Given the war brewing with Cardassia right now, I can't say it's an attractive alternative to sacrificing the homes of a few thousand citizens.
Trek needs the Maquis as a counterbalance to the stodgy ways of the elders, as an integral part of the Starfleet mission - not as the brats of the family. If the Maquis are around only to appeal to rebels who want to bash authority, if they don't have ideals and intelligence, they'll remain dull as characters and useless as catalysts on the show.
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