• Jeff Akin

DS9: For the Cause - Transcript

Updated: Apr 6

In a single moment, we see one of the most incredible leadership examples in all of Trek.

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Episode Transcript

Welcome, everyone! Thanks for joining me today. I’m not going to lie, I’m excited for this episode. Deep Space 9 has quite a few multi-episode arcs sprinkled through it and this really dives into one of my favorites. The 22nd episode of the 4th season of DS9; For The Cause.


Ok, let’s start with a little table setting here. This episode is going to focus on the Maquis. Now we’ve talked a little bit about the Maquis in our Voyager episodes on Caretaker and The Cloud, but they haven’t played a significant role for us on this podcast yet. This episode takes place in the year 2372. For decades prior to this, starting in the late 2340’s, the Federation and Cardassians were at war, mostly over border disputes. The war lasted until the late-2360’s when an armistice was signed. While that ended the fighting, it didn’t answer the questions around the border.

Prior to the war, both the Cardassians and the Federation aggressively colonized planets in close proximity to each other on the edges of their borders. Land disputes grew into border disputes which grew into battles which led to war.

The questions around the border, and, ultimately, who had rights to which color, were answered in 2370 when the Federation-Cardassian Treaty was signed and ratified. That treaty was then upheld in the Jankata Accord of 2371.

Sounds good, right? Disagreements escalate into violence, but cooler heads prevail and they land on peace. Well…not quite. You see, the Federation ended up giving up quite a few worlds to the Cardassians meaning the colonists had to leave their homes. Some did, of course, but others stood up. They took on the Cardassians and tried to win their homes back. The Cardassians considered them terrorists and held the Federation responsible for many of their actions. The Federation officially called them traitors and sought them out - that was Janeway’s mission in Caretaker, if you remember. But, there were many in the Federation and even Starfleet that sympathized with the Maquis. This leads to some incredible storytelling across TNG and DS9, and even a little bit into Voyager, although I consider the way they handled the Maquis a missed opportunity. More on that at another time, though.

I wanted to set that context for all of you because this episode catches us in the middle of the Maquis activity right from go, and if you didn’t have at least some of this background, you could have been a little lost.

Ok, to the episode!

Kasidy Yates wakes up - oh yeah! Awhile ago, Sisko’s son, Jake, connected him and Kasidy and they’ve been seriously dating for about a year at this point. So, Kasidy wakes up and tries to get out of bed but Sisko pulls her back. She’s a freighter captain and has to get ready for a run. Sisko tries to convince her to stay, stating he is a <Paragon of Virtue>. She resists his wiles and heads out.

The senior staff are meeting for a briefing by Lt. Commander Michael Eddington. Oh yeah! Here’s another one! At the beginning of season 3, Eddington became the Chief of Starfleet Security on Deep Space 9. He appeared sporadically up to this point. He’s a very “by the book” kind of officer whose loyalties with Starfleet and not necessarily Sisko, if that makes sense.

I’m sure we’ve all worked with that person, and, if we were smart, ultimately appreciated working with them. The person that resists out-of-the-box thinking; who can’t imagine not following protocol, and, most importantly, will be the first to report you when you don’t follow protocol. Now, don’t hear this as the person being a tattle-tale, per se. They just toe the company line, chapter and verse, all the time.

Sometimes, this person can be frustrating, but they serve a critical purpose. While there are absolutely times that we, as leaders, need push the boundaries, stretch the rules, we still need to play within the rules, policies, vision and values of our organization. The Eddingtons of the world help us stay there. They’re almost like Jiminy Cricket, just not as cute and a lot more annoying. But like he says, you should let your conscience be your guide! So, thank you to the Eddington Crickets of the world!

He starts this briefing by stating this is highly classified information. The Klingon Invasion of Cardassia awhile ago caused more damage than has been shared. So the Cardassians made an urgent request to the Federation for 12, industrial replicators. The Federation granted the request. Starfleet Intelligence, though, believes the Maquis will try to intercept the replicators. With the focus on defending against the Klingons, the Cardassians have turned a blind eye to Maquis activity giving them a chance to solidify their presence in the DMZ and the nearby area known as the Badlands - we saw those in Voyager Caretaker - so they are a real threat. The replicators will be transferred through Deep Space 9 so Sisko orders security to ramp up.

After the briefing, Odo and Eddington hold Sisko back. They have intelligence that there is a Maquis smuggler on the base. And they believe it’s Kasidy Yates. Odo explains there are discrepancies in her logs leave gaps in times that allow for rendezvous that align with Maquis activities. Sisko isn’t hearing it and is getting upset. Odo clarifies that these are just suspicions, nothing more. Sisko plays a powerful leader card here. He listens and agrees!! <that’s right, you did say that.> He then, reluctantly agrees they can watch her more closely and possibly inspect her ship.

Like many great leadership moments in Star Trek, this one happens in the blink of an eye. Sisko is understandably upset and worked up here. His significant other is under suspicion of basically being a terrorist, or at least an aid to them. But he doesn’t stop listening to his team. As he is escalating, Odo very calmly resets reality for him; taking him from believing they are going to arrest and charge her back to them simply updating him that they have suspicions. He hears this, calms down, and makes an unbiased decision to allow them to their do jobs.


On top of this, Sisko demonstrates a harsh reality for us, not just as leaders but as human beings. Our own worst enemy is ourselves. “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” Sisko’s self-talk starts to spin him out of control, weaving a story of worst case scenarios that aren’t really grounded in reality. Now he demonstrated the maturity to hear his team mate and to de-escalate. But that doesn’t always happen. Let’s dive into this in the Command Codes section. First, what our own self talk can do to us, and what we as leaders often do to encourage that negative self talk in others.

Bashir and Garak are catching a spring ball game that Kira is playing in. Garak is a Cardassian that owns a tailor shop on the Promenade. He’s one of my favorite characters in all of Star Trek. He’s complicated, deep, and very well acted by Andrew Robinson. At this point in the series, we know that there is much more to Garak than being a plain, simple tailor. He was a former operative for the intelligence arm of Cardassia, the Obsidian Order. He is, essentially, a spy through and through. He’s on the outs with the Cardassian government and is all but exiled to Deep Space 9. He has developed a close relationship with Doctor Bashir over the years; well, as close as someone like Garak can get.

In this scene, they are showing why they are the most dynamic married couple in sitcom history - awesome back and forth between the two of them. Garak and Ziyal keep looking back and forth at each other.

They just keep on coming, don’t they? This deep into DS9 they’ve introduced a lot of new characters and storylines. And there are more to come! Tora Ziyal is the half-Bajoran, half-Cardassian daughter of Gul Dukat. If you remember from Emissary, Dukat is kind of the arch-villain from Cardassia that commanded Deep Space 9 when it was under Cardassian control and was the prefect of Bajor while it was occupied. Well, he had an affair with a Bajoran woman and they conceived Ziyal. She ended up on DS9 - that’s a whole other episode - and isn’t welcome on Cardassia - much like Garak.

So, they’re both at this spring ball game, making eyes at each other while Bashir just wants to watch the game. Garak wants to talk with her after the game and Bashir is trying to discourage him. Dukat despises Garak and Bashir sees nothing but trouble.

Sisko, in the meantime, is cooking in his quarters. He’s old school and enjoys cooking his own food instead of just replicating it. Kasidy and Jake come in and they’re talking about some of her trade routes; casual conversation about what she sees when she’s out. Sisko keeps sniffing down the path, though. He’s trying to figure out if she’s making these Maquis runs or not. She plays it super cool. After this scene, both Sisko and the viewer, well, me, at least, are fairly convinced she’s innocent. I say fairly, because there is still the hint of doubt on Sisko’s face as we transition to the next scene.

In an overcrowded turbo lift, Garak finds himself traveling with Ziyal. After a few stops, they’re the only two left. We get some of that excellent, wooden Star Trek acting here. They bridge the relationship gap a bit as Garak gets off on the Promenade.

Odo’s sticking to his word. He’s forcing an inspection of Kasidy’s cargo before they can depart. He says they’re looking for signs of the Temecklian Virus and that the inspection will take about 6 hours. Yates pulls the Sisko card and calls him up. Luckily Odo ran the concept by him as he initially backs up the virus inspection. She persists, though, and he eventually caves. He justifies his way around it despite objections from Eddington. He lets her head out. However, he orders Worf and the Defiant, along with Eddington, to cloak and follow Yates’ ship to observe.

Part way into her flight plan, she alters course into the Badlands and the Defiant stays with her. O’Brien praises the intelligence of the Maquis for choosing the Badlands as their hideout while Worf says they’re just terrorists. This prompts a conversation on the bridge of everyone’s feelings on the Maquis. Worf thinks they are nothing more than criminals. O’Brien says they’re just standing up for something they believe in and sympathizes with their situation. He even goes as far as to compare their plight with the Bajorans when they were fighting the Cardassian Occupation. Eddington says he doesn’t have an opinion; he just does his job - whatever Starfleet says to do, that’s what he’ll do. Anything else is an indulgence.

And then it happens. A Maquis raider rendezvous with the Xhosa and Yates beams over cargo. They’ve caught her red-handed but leave it for now and continue their observations.

Back on the station, Ziyal drops into Garak’s shop. They continue their tense conversation. She says he has a holosuite program of a Cardassian sauna and invites Garak to join her in it. As the only Cardassians on the station, they’re the only one that could enjoy the hot temperatures. He agrees and they make it a date!

Jake orders a raktajino for breakfast; that’s klingon coffee. He says Kasidy turned him on to it. Deep Space 9 has a lot of great father/son moments in it, and this is one of them (sharing companionship). For Sisko, it adds to is tension; she has bonded with Jake; with his family. And now he knows she’s aiding an enemy of the Federation. He affirms his relationship with Jake (things change, but not this) and heads to his office.

The senior staff are debriefing the cargo exchange. O’Brien says transporter signals suggest it was food and medicine she transported. Dax tries to talk with Sisko but he’s not having it.

I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again. Leadership is often a lonely place. It’s so counterintuitive - you’re surrounded by teams but are often alone. That’s the weight of decision making. Sisko knows what decision he is going to have to make when Kasidy returns to the station, but it is breaking his heart.

As leaders, we find ourselves in these situations as well. Maybe not as exciting as smuggling cargo to a named terrorist organization, but still, because we work with people, we will have to make heartbreaking calls. In the United States, we have the Family Medical Leave Act, or FMLA. This is limited, protected - and usually unpaid - time that employees can take for serious health conditions. It amount to 480 hours, or 3 months of this time. But there are serious health conditions that last longer than that. You know what keeps me up at night? Knowing that tomorrow I’ll have to tell someone that is seriously ill, or is struggling to recover form surgery, or is caring for a loved one that, after that time, they’re going to have to either come back to work, or quit their job. It just feels inhumane.

To help support myself through those decisions, I lean on colleagues and friends; the people I trust and that I know I can depend on. In this scene, Dax knows the score; she knows that, best case, Sisko is going to have to arrest his partner. And she knows it’s killing him. She pauses here to offer her friendship and her support but Sisko refuses it. More on this later.

Kasidy returns and goes straight to Sisko’s quarters. She is playing it off as if everything was normal. He’s uncomfortable and keeps asking about her routes. Jake comes in and invites them to a baseball game in the holosuite, but Sisko has to get back to work (duty calls).

He tells Eddington and Odo that she’s going out again tonight. They say they will go after her again and he agrees. Eddington asks to meet with him in private. He asks to personally supervise the transfer of the replicators in the morning. He agrees and Sisko says he will take command of the Defiant as it tails the Xhosa.

He meets Kasidy before she takes off. He says they should drop everything and go straight to Risa to spend time together (I have a great crew). He wants, so badly, to stop her from making this run. But, but she’s not hearing it. She says she’ll meet him on Risa after the run, so he says it was just a crazy idea and wishes her a good trip. He stares at her with a palpable feeling of loss as she boards the ship.

In the Badlands, they end up in the same place they were before. They sit in a holding pattern for quite some time. Waiting.

In his shop, Kira drops in and threatens him. she says Ziyal is there under her protection and that she will not allow her to be hurt by Garak or anyone. It’s ironic, as he’s still terrified that Ziyal is the threat to him! Ah, young love in the time of espionage and assassinations…

The Xhosa is still waiting, for 5 hours now. Odo is freaking out, expecting the worst (you are the cargo). Sisko agrees with his paranoia and they beam over. He says he knows she’s a smuggler and asks what her mission is. She says she was just here to deliver medical supplies and wouldn’t imagine an attack on the Defiant or Deep Space 9. That’s when Sisko does the math. He realizes it’s not an attack, but the Replicators transferring on the station are the target. So they head back, maximum warp and find DS9 is on communications blackout. Odo is still furious; they left the Xhosa and Yates where they were; Sisko didn’t make any arrests (we’ll never see the Xhosa again).

On the station, Eddington is briefing the Starfleet Security team. As they leave, he asks Kira to join him. (I need to take command of the station) and he blasts her with a phaser! He heads to the Vulcan freighter that’s transporting the replicators. He puts Lt. Reese in charge as he removes his combadge and boards the freighter.

We get a quick glimpse of the freighter docked at the station and IDIC symbol in the airlock verifying its a vulcan vessel. We haven’t had an opportunity to discuss the IDIC symbol yet, so we will in a little bit. It really symbolizes so much of what Star Trek represents.

The Defiant returns to Deep Space 9 and Eddington, along with replicators are gone. Eddington hails Sisko, though, and he takes it in his office. This is such a pivotal moment in all of Star Trek. Eddington is Maquis and asks Starfleet to just leave them alone (why is the federation so obsessed). And then he says it - no one leaves Paradise, no one leaves the Federation. (play the speech). Sisko responds by saying he will spend his career hunting him down (play some of his response). Wow!

Ziyal and Garak have their date. They find they have much more in common than they thought. As the only Cardassians on the stations, and being all but exiled from their home, they bond and find comfort in their shared culture…and situation.

Yates returns to Deep Space 9, alone. She left her crew at a Maquis base so she would be the only one to face punishment. This shows so much courage and integrity. Not only is she taking accountability for what she did, but she is protecting her crew! Fantastic!

They embrace, and then Sisko calls Security to arrest her. He says he will be here, waiting for her to return. And the episode ends with Sisko, alone, as Kasidy is led out by Security.

<<Red Alert>>

I love this episode! I think I’ve said before that, as part of my process, I watch each episode twice - once just to defamiliarize myself with it, and a second time to take notes. Well, I watched this one three times!

The Garak and Ziyal story was, well, not super great, but it made sense. DS9 runs some complex story arcs through it, many over multiple seasons. Not only is the Ziyal/Garak arc one of those, but Garak as a whole certainly is too. We often see the Cardassians portrayed as cold, calculating and always seeming to have it together. Here we get to see some of the fear and the doubts that drive them. We also see the need for community. As the only Cardassians on the station, even when they are surrounded by people, they likely still feel alone. They have no one to share in their culture; in their rites and rituals that are important to them. I mean, here, they bonded and found comfort just hanging out in a room that was hotter than most people on the station would like it!

And this brings up the opportunity to talk about IDIC - Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. This embodies Vulcan philosophy and calls out the endless variables across the universe. As a Star Trek fan, it reminds us that people are people, and they are all amazing - in infinite ways and combinations.

Deep Space 9 absolutely excels at relationships. Of all the series, in my opinion, it tells its stories on the backs of often complex and interwoven relationships. Sisko’s family is one of those. We saw in Emissary the tragic loss he and Jake suffered when his wife, Jennifer, died. We’ve seen Jake grow into near-adulthood at the side of his Dad. And, we will see, and saw some of it here, the addition of Kasidy Yates and how well she compliments them as individuals and the family as a whole. The scene where Jake was giving Sisko a hard time, and Sisko’s reaction, was fantastic. It really reminded me of my household growing up and how it was safe for us to poke a little friendly fun at each other - just like Jake does here. The great job the show has done with this family really adds to the punch of the moment he has Kasidy arrested. Powerful stuff.

And speaking of powerful stuff, Wow. Star Trek talking trash about itself. This is powerful stuff and really steers so many of the themes of Deep Space 9 from here forward. It’s not normal for me to include a full-length clip on the podcast like I did with Eddington’s monologue, but I really felt I needed to. He said it all. Maybe the Federation isn’t paradise. Gene Roddenberry pictured the future as an idyllic utopia. A lot has been written on the concept of a utopia and its analog, a dystopia. You can range from Plato to Ayn Rand and so many in between. In this declaration that Eddington makes, Deep Space 9 will start to weigh the difference in utopia and dystopia.

I think Gene Roddenberry’s vision is commendable and amazing. I also think, with our societal and organizational maturity, we can’t quite embrace that vision yet; especially on the medium of television that exists almost exclusively to tell stories of conflict. In my opinion, with this declaration, Deep Space 9 is saying that the Federation is great! Hey, it might even be the best thing going! But it is absolutely not the end-game; it is far from perfect.

And we see this in modern Star Trek. As I record this episode, we’ve seen the first season of Picard and are eagerly awaiting news on the second season. But the Federation we see there is one that has certainly veered from paradise.

Now, I want to be clear, this is not a bad thing. In fact, it is a very real thing. This is reality. And we, as a society, have the opportunity to learn from this fictional representation of what was intended to be a utopia. And maybe, just maybe, we can move closer to a point where we can envision paradise, and embrace utopian ideals. Maybe.

<<Command Codes>>

First, what our own self talk can do to us, and what we as leaders often do to encourage that negative self talk in others. In the absence of information, we fill in our own blanks and tell a made up story.

There are real life lessons to be learned from Garak and Ziyal too. When you are not like everyone else around you, it can feel lonely. Star Trek makes it very apparent, right? Cardassian surrounded by humans and Bajorans. In our lives though, it may not be as apparent. Race, religion, gender, and more define the multiple dimensions of diversity that we all identify with. And there is power and comfort in finding those that are like you.

Support of friends and colleagues. Dax offer support to Sisko but he refuses it. When you are faced with a decision like this and a trusted person offers you support, don’t be a Sisko! Accept the support.

Yates saving her crew from being punished.

<<Hailing Frequencies>>

I’m on all the social media @jefftakin Jeff, t as in Traitor, a k i n. And, I’d like to ask a favor. If you have enjoyed the Starfleet Leadership Academy, please tell a friend or colleague about it.

Now let’s see what we’re going to watch next time….

Back to the Original Series and an absolute classic episode of Star Trek. From the first season, the 26th episode, The Devil in the Dark. Some great themes in this one that I really look forward to analyzing.

Until then, Ex Astris Scientia!


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