First of all, this has nothing to do with the episode, but I feel like Sisko would approve: NAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATS
This one was solid! Not particularly memorable, for me, really, but solid. It definitely had an Original Series vibe to it.
Gail Strickland, who plays Alixus, did a really interesting job, I thought — she gave the character a certain charisma that made her believable as a cult leader. I loved, for instance, Alixus’s insistence that oh, no, the people in the village aren’t her followers, they’re all here of their own free will, because they think this is a better way of life; it felt very true to cults/abuse situations, that insistence that since a person is technically, physically, capable of leaving, there clearly can’t actually be anything wrong here. And the shot from the end, of the unhappy-looking children, who of course had no say in whether the community remained or not, was an interesting note to close on, rather than wrapping everything up neatly.
I have several concerns right from the beginning
So, Sisko and O’Brien are kind of a weird choice for a survey team, right? Like. Shouldn’t Dax be at least one of the people on this team? You know, the science officer? And come on, you saw that there was a field that interfered with technology, so you…both decided to beam down together, leaving no one on the ship to try and boost communication or transporter signals or whatever? SERIOUSLY, PEOPLE.
Also, to be honest, I feel like their first sign that they should be suspicious of this little separatist community was that their ship was named the Santa Maria.
I like that we get the first hints, here, of the later conflict for the Siskos around Ben’s assumption that Jake will be going into Starfleet. Well, I use “conflict” in more of the literary sense than the interpersonal one — one of the things I like about it is that it’s actually resolved within a few episodes, and in a pretty healthy, realistic way: Sisko is somewhat surprised, and perhaps a little disappointed, that Jake doesn’t want to go into Starfleet after all, but he also recognizes that whatever disappointment he might be feeling is on himself for simply assuming that his son would want to follow the same path he did. All these little interactions and smaller-scale conflicts make the Siskos’ relationship feel emotionally real and grounded in a way that one might not immediately expect from a space opera.
(…which makes it all the more jarring that the “brothers” Sisko mentions are almost never mentioned again, that I recall. Of course, the implication from his remarks to Odo in “The Alternate” seemed to be that his father was dead, too, and Joseph Sisko appears in the show later, so maybe they hadn’t finalized all the details on Sisko’s backstory yet.)
There’s actually a surprising amount of horniness in this one, upon consideration. Like, the way Sisko and O’Brien are immediately greeted with “two more strong, healthy men”? Horny. Dax talking about how she learned rope tricks? Horny. The fact that there are apparently shorts under the Starfleet uniform? Strikes me as weirdly horny TBH. Me when Sisko calmly hands over his gardening implements to Alixus and she’s clearly starting to worry that he’s not gonna break? Horny.