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"Paradise" Plot Summary:
Sisko and O'Brien land on a Gamma Quadrant planet where no computer technology works. There they encounter a society of settlers from their own quadrant, run by a fanatical environmentalist. Her join-us-or-die attitude very nearly kills Sisko, who is imprisoned in a small metal box, before O'Brien discovers complex computers suppressing all other technology, and arranges for help to arrive.
People have been discussing this episode as though it's primarily about radical environmentalism and the values of agrarian societies, but I think it's more concerned with charismatic leaders and their cult-like followings. Alexis clearly adored her personal power as much as her colony's independence from technology, and Sisko clearly resented her position as well as the life she tried to force upon him.
The scene where the box was first introduced - Alexis playing good mother/ bad mother, Sisko preparing to throw the Prime Directive to the winds - was the first-rate in its ambivalence, as was the scene with Sisko and Cassandra, the woman who tried to seduce him in order to keep him on the planet. I found Sisko's decision to return to the box misguided; he could have fought Alexis better by being visible.
Though Alexis was on some ways a very negative image of a woman with power, she was also very strong - the equivalent of any male cult leader I've ever heard of. Her speech at the end didn't adequately explain why it's so much nobler to be a farmer (and a slut) than a secretary. I found it disturbing that Starfleet just left the colonists alone to regroup; without their den mother and without any guidance, what are they going to believe now?
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