(written from a Production point of view)
Sisko and O'Brien are trapped on a world with no advanced technology, and the Human colonists living there are determined to keep it that way.
- "Station log, stardate 47573.1. To respond to questions about setting up colonies near the wormhole, Chief O'Brien and I have set out to survey nearby star systems."
Sisko and O'Brien are aboard the USS Rio Grande and in the middle of a discussion about the possibility of Jake Sisko apprenticing with the Chief to help prepare him for Starfleet Academy. When Sisko mentions that Jake placed in the lower third of his age group on a mechanical aptitude test, O'Brien reveals that the same was true of him at the boy's age. He says his experiences on the front lines during the Federation-Cardassian War were what taught him the most and relates a story about repairing a field transporter on Setlik III before he and others became prisoners of war, which was the reason he became an engineer. As they talk, they come upon an M-class planet which would be a perfect place to build a colony. However, there is already an uncharted Human colony on the planet. The colony does not respond to hails, likely due to a low-level duonetic field that O'Brien suspects is interfering with the hailing signal. They decide to beam down and say hello the 'old-fashioned way'.
The moment Sisko and O'Brien materialize on the planet's surface, their tricorders cease functioning – not even the diagnostics subroutine will work. Sisko attempts to contact their runabout, the Rio Grande, but his combadge, as well as their phasers, appear to be nonfunctional as well. O'Brien suspects the suppression of their devices' electromagnetic (EM) activity may have something to do with the duonetic field, although he is not sure what. Before they can investigate further, a voice from behind orders them not to move and to put their hands up.
A pair of Humans stand behind O'Brien and Sisko, the younger one armed with a bow. The older man, Joseph, recognizes their Starfleet uniforms after a second and has the younger one lower his weapon. He introduces himself and his companion Vinod and explains that they are part of a group of colonists who were destined for Gemulon V over ten years ago. When their ship developed life support problems, they landed on the planet and like the tricorder, all of their electronic devices stopped working.
As Joseph and Vinod lead them to the colonists' village, Sisko recognizes a crashed Erewon-class transport. It was originally named the SS Santa Maria, but now the colonists refer to it simply as "the cabin." Alixus, apparently the community leader, is delighted when she sees O'Brien and Sisko. The entire village comes out to see the newcomers and they answer several questions from the colonists about the outside world and how it has developed in the past ten years. Joseph was an engineer aboard the Santa Maria but is unfamiliar with runabouts, which O'Brien explains are multipurpose vessels a quarter of the Santa Maria's size.
Apparently, the villagers gave up any hope of escape years ago, in part because the marshes surrounding the village are filled with astatine deposits. Like the runabout, their ship detected the duonetic field, but they have been unable to bypass whatever is inhibiting EM activity. Alixus seems especially proud of how well the colonists have performed under the circumstances, boasting about the quality of life they enjoy despite the lack of comforts such as replicators. She claims that, despite many hardships and the deaths of several colonists, they have "rediscovered what man is capable of without technology."
Sisko reassures the colonists that even if they are unable to contact the runabout, someone from Deep Space 9 will eventually find it in orbit. However, when the topic of leaving comes up, Alixus says each person will have to make his or her mind up for themselves and declares her intention to stay on the planet. What they have, she says, means too much to her. However, Alixus welcomes O'Brien and Sisko to everything the village has to offer, the only condition being that they contribute. She adds that supper tastes sweeter when one works for it. As Joseph leads O'Brien and Sisko off to find a place where they can stay, Alixus tells Vinod that two more strong, healthy men could mean a lot to their community.
Back on DS9, the crew are unaware of O'Brien and Sisko's predicament. In Ops, Kira and Dax make small talk as Kira wonders why someone named Admiral Mitsuya has made arrangements to divert the USS Crockett to the station for a discussion about Cardassian foreign policy. Dax laughs and tells her it is an excuse to play poker with Sisko, as Mitsuya wiped him out a year ago. She remarks about how Sisko has never had a poker face in Dax's two lifetimes of knowing him. While Dax talks, Kira notes that the Rio Grande is not responding to her hails.
Meanwhile, Sisko has discovered that Alixus authored numerous books prior to becoming stranded. A philosopher, she wrote about a variety of topics, including economics, politics, and literature. Of particular note is that Alixus was a harsh critic of Humanity's heavy reliance on technology, claiming that it had made people "fat and lazy and dull." O'Brien casually jokes that it took a crash-landing for Alixus to find her paradise.
O'Brien is unable to find anything among the wreckage of the Santa Maria to use in his efforts to contact the runabout. However, Joseph informs him that the colonists discarded all such materials long ago. In part, this was because they were unable to use it, but Sisko detects the hand of Alixus at work. Joseph admits she told the colonists that removing the advanced technology was necessary to make the transition to their new lifestyle easier. As an engineer, he describes himself as the last "convert," but he believes Alixus helped the colonists discover a new philosophy of life and that they are better for it. Cassandra interrupts the conversation to inform Joseph that the condition of a young girl named Meg has deteriorated.
Meg has a bite from one of the native insects, which the colonists are trying to heal using various combinations of indigenous plants. It is not working and Alixus tells Sisko three colonists have already died from similar bites. Fearing Meg will die before a rescue team arrives and lacking faith in the colonists' ability to find a cure, he and O'Brien discuss ways by which to contact the runabout, which likely has a cure in its medkit. Alixus tells them to search for a root or fungus in the forest, and when Sisko argues with her, she asks to talk to him outside.
Alone with Sisko, Alixus warns him that talk of contacting the runabout is "not constructive." She insists that he is wasting precious time and must not plant such ideas in the colonists' heads. Sisko pushes the point but Alixus claims they are doing all they can for Meg. When he contradicts this, she forbids any further discussion of a Starfleet rescue party. "Before they come, if they come, you'll have to do things our way," she tells him. Before leaving, Alixus adds that the planet is hot in the afternoon and suggests he take his uniform off.
Deep Space 9 receives a report from Starfleet Command that the Romulan vessel Gasko reported seeing an abandoned runabout in Sector 401. The markings match those of the Rio Grande, and the report says the runabout was traveling at warp two. Kira and Dax immediately start an investigation, leaving Ops and heading to landing pad C.
Vinod compliments Sisko on his skill as the two prepare the field for planting. Sisko tells Vinod his father was a chef who grew his own food and he and his brothers used to work the garden every day. Unlike the other colonists, Vinod has never eaten replicated food because Alixus never allowed it. The other colonists had grown up on replicated food, he says, so the flavor of food from hand-grown gardens came as quite a surprise at first. O'Brien tells of how, while his wife Keiko is a botanist, he is known as the "black thumb." He thinks she would like the planet, and when Joseph suggests that Keiko visit some day, O'Brien jokingly suggests she would not want to leave if she did so. The men's attention is taken away from the field when two colonists open a nearby box with a young man inside.
The man's name is Stephan and as they learn, he was placed in the box the day before for stealing a candle. While O'Brien and Sisko find such a punishment system outrageous, Alixus claims that all of the colonists approved it and they all live by it. As Stephan recovers from his time in the box, he apologizes to Alixus for letting the community down. She tells Stephan the matter is closed and sends him away. Once he is gone, Alixus points out to Sisko that neither Stephan nor anyone who saw him will ever steal again, calling the punishment box a simple and effective way to maintain law and order. As Alixus leaves, O'Brien suspects she does not plan on him or Sisko leaving any time soon.
That night, Cassandra comes to Sisko's room to ask if he needs anything. When he says no, she enters anyway carrying a bowl of oil, extracted from a xupta tree. She apologizes for the fact that there are no doors, a policy Alixus implemented, and tells him he eventually will grow accustomed to the tradition with time. Alixus has told the colonists to be patient with Sisko until he is accustomed to their way of life, although he has no intention to stay any longer than necessary. She offers to massage Sisko with the oil, insisting it will make him feel better. When Sisko asks if Alixus sent Cassandra to make love to him, she looks frightened. Sisko visits Alixus's room immediately.
Surprised to see Sisko, Alixus says she is writing about him and O'Brien and mentions she has heard he is quite a chef. He angrily slams her book shut and she seems pleased, claiming it is the first "core behavior" she has seen in him. "Does that chapter come before or after sexual procurement?" he demands angrily. Alixus admits to sending Cassandra to his room and Sisko calls her contemptible. In Alixus's view, however, Cassandra wanted to make Sisko feel welcome and Alixus suggested she might make things easier for him; the choice was Cassandra's. Sisko mentions the "interesting" coincidence that Alixus became stranded on a planet that fit her philosophy so well and she agrees, bringing up another book she is writing. Seeing that Sisko still rejects her way of life, Alixus assigns Sisko to guard duty for the rest of the night.
The next day at breakfast, Alixus asks if a tired Sisko will be able to work his normal shift in the field, infuriating O'Brien. She innocently tells Sisko she will understand if he cannot work, but he tells her he can work his shift just fine. Alixus notes with enthusiasm that Joseph is optimistic about a new combination of herbs with which he hopes to cure Meg. Once more, she suggests that Sisko change into "some more comfortable clothes."
Following the runaway Rio Grande in the Orinoco, Kira and Dax work on a way to catch it. Kira plots an intercept course and plans to beam over, but Dax looks for a better idea. She begins configuring the runabout's controls and claims she can use "an old rope trick" she once learned from a Hopi. Theoretically, Dax can use a tractor beam to "rope" the Rio Grande and bring it back to impulse, although Kira points out that there is also a chance the resulting strain will tear the hulls of both runabouts apart. However, it is the best chance they have and Kira reluctantly agrees. After a couple of tries, Dax manages to catch the Rio Grande with the tractor beam, and as the Orinoco brakes sharply, it forces the other runabout to come to a stop, allowing them to beam aboard.
Back on the planet, Alixus informs the village that Meg has died and notes that no one was prouder of what the village has accomplished than Meg was, calling her an inspiration. Alixus uses Meg's death as a segue, claiming someone has committed an act that by its very nature defiles Meg's memory. As Vinod brings O'Brien out of the building behind Alixus, she claims that he and Sisko have continually disrespected the village's way of life and that O'Brien has committed the worst offense possible: selfishly wasting time that could have been put to productive use.
The "offense" is that O'Brien was found attempting to contact his and Sisko's runabout, and as Joseph points out, it was probably an effort to retrieve medical supplies with which to help Meg. Alixus thanks Joseph for bringing that point up, as it demonstrates the true danger that O'Brien and Sisko represent. Had the villagers spent their time trying to escape from the planet over the course of the past ten years, Alixus claims they would all be dead. As he realizes where Alixus is going with the topic, Sisko asks if Alixus plans to put O'Brien in the punishment box. "No, Ben," she answers. "As his commanding officer, I'm putting you in there." An angry O'Brien attempts to intervene but is restrained by Vinod and another villager; without a word, Sisko places himself in the box and two villagers seal him in.
Kira and Dax find no signs of struggle or weapons fired aboard the Rio Grande and are perplexed by the fact that it was flying aimlessly through space. Further investigation reveals that it has been exposed to intense gamma radiation resulting from a close proximity to Orellius Minor, a nearby star. Dax hypothesizes that someone tried to destroy the Rio Grande by flying it into the star, for if the trajectory were slightly off, the gravity of the star could have deflected the ship and sent it off in a new direction. They tow the Orinoco back to the Orellius system in the hope of tracing the runabout's original warp signature.
The next morning, Sisko is brought into Alixus's office, visibly weak and unable to talk. She tries to comfort him by claiming that watching him suffer is painful for her – she wants to help him, to give him food and water, but she needs him to help her as well. Alixus offers Sisko water if he will change into different clothes, leaving them on the table as she exits. Seconds later, he staggers out of the building still in his Starfleet uniform, motioning for O'Brien to stay away. He slowly places himself back in the punishment box and closes the door.
When Joseph finds O'Brien in a nearby cave, O'Brien solicits Joseph's help in disabling the duonetic field. Although Joseph repeats Alixus's claim that nearby astatine deposits have caused the field, he and O'Brien both know that were that the case they could have contacted the runabout long ago. O'Brien thinks he has discovered a way to find the source of the field, but he knows that if Joseph simply looks the other way Alixus will put Joseph in the punishment box. He asks Joseph to look at a hematite deposit he has discovered, and Joseph, knowing what O'Brien plans to do, reluctantly complies. Knocking Joseph out gently, O'Brien whispers, "I owe you one, my friend."
An improvised compass leads O'Brien as he wanders through the woods until he finds a clearing where there is a very faint but very strange humming. Confused, he wipes away some nearby dirt to reveal a power generator. He slowly realizes what the generator means when an arrow hits a nearby tree, just barely missing him. Vinod prepares to fire another and O'Brien runs. After a brief chase through the forest, Vinod shoots what he thinks is O'Brien in a bush, but he discovers it is only O'Brien's uniform. O'Brien tackles the confused Vinod from a nearby tree and subdues him, noting with amusement that Alixus finally got one of the Starfleet officers out of his uniform.
O'Brien enters the village with Vinod restrained and demands to see Alixus. He opens the punishment box with his now-functional phaser and reveals to the colonists that the duonetic field was artificially created. However, when Sisko attempts to contact their runabout, he finds it missing. Alixus emerges and admits that she destroyed the runabout and even helped invent the device that created the duonetic field in the first place. She even planned the crash on the isolated planet. The colonists are outraged, but Alixus defends her actions by pointing out how much better each of them is thanks to the "accident." Sisko asks about Meg and the others who died. She replies that even if her son had been one of the sick colonists who ultimately perished, she would have let him die "for the sake of the community." She says she is prepared to leave and answer for what she has done.
Kira contacts Sisko and he tells her to stand by for multiple transports. O'Brien says the colonists should pack up whatever they want to take with them, but Joseph stops him. They do not want to leave, he says. However unethical Alixus's methods were, the planet is the colonists' home now and nothing will change that. As Joseph and apparently the rest of the colonists see it, she may have taken ten years of their lives, but she gave them the gift of their community in exchange. He says he doesn't know if they'll leave the damping device on or off, but they have a community they value, and they want to stay.
"It's time for those of us who don't belong here to leave," Alixus tells Sisko, and he, O'Brien, Alixus, and Vinod beam off the planet's surface. The colonists go about their business, leaving two young children staring at the punishment box.
"You got a better idea… ?"
"I'm a science officer. It's my job to have a better idea."
- - Kira and Dax
"But perhaps a lie can lead to a more important truth. Would any of you have learned who you truly are, at the core, if you hadn't come here? Joseph, you would have been a repairman all of your life. Cassandra, you would have been a technical clerk in some closed-in room. And Stephan. My friend, you probably would have been in prison by now. Look at yourselves! Look at what you've become! What you've achieved here has redefined your potential — the potential of man. Just as I knew it would. You are the living proof."
- - Alixus
"Sounds like it took a crash landing for her to find her paradise."
- - O'Brien, on Alixus
"What if it were your son who had been sick? Would you let him die too?"
"Yes. For the sake of the community. I did it all for the community."
- - Sisko and Alixus
"Two more strong, healthy men, Vinod. That could mean an awful lot to this community."
- - Alixus to her son when Sisko and O'Brien arrive
"That's the first core behavior I've seen from you since you arrived."
"Core behavior? Does that chapter come before or after sexual procurement?"
- - Alixus and Sisko
"Well, I hope you find a few more of those talents you never knew you had because if you don't, we're gonna have a hard time getting off this…"
"Don't move and put your hands up!"
- - Benjamin Sisko to O'Brien, and Vinod to both of them
"Miles, this is our home. Whatever Alixus may be guilty of, she did give us our community. I'm not sure if we'll leave the device on or off now that we know it's there. And we'll have to decide if we want to establish contact with the outside world. But Alixus is right: We have found something here that none of us is willing to give up."
- - Joseph
Story and script
- Michael Piller commented "We hadn't done a Sisko episode since "Second Sight" and I wanted to do another show that gave Sisko the opportunity to show courage and force of personality". (The Deep Space Log Book: A Second Season Companion, p 35)
- The idea of a cult was chosen as Michael Piller was interested in the idea. Piller commented "Cultism is an issue that I'm very interested in because I've got a family member who was involved in a cult, so I had to study the issues quite a bit". (The Deep Space Log Book: A Second Season Companion, p 36)
- Jim Trombetta based his original idea for the episode on the primitivist anti-technology philosophy of the Khmer Rouge of Southeast Asia. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. ?))
- In a deleted or unfilmed part of the scene where Sisko and O'Brien confront Alixus with their evidence, Alixus mentions that she met a quantum physicist at the Delta Six station who had been investigating the effect of radiation on electromagnetic flow, giving her the idea of the duonetic field. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion - A Series Guide and Script Library)
- The term Zydrolian is used for the second time in a script, with the first being in "Armageddon Game". (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion - A Series Guide and Script Library)
- "Paradise" was filmed in Griffith Park in Los Angeles. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. ?))
- The village and the Santa Maria were designed by Jim Martin. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. ?))
- David Livingston commented "It was a tough show, because we had to create an exterior environment on Stage 18. The way that Corey and Martin shot it with long lenses and stuff was successful in selling that world. It was fun to build part of a ship on the surface so you really got the sense of size. We wanted it to be bigger, but we just didn't have the money, so the grand designs that we had for the set were severely truncated". (The Deep Space Log Book: A Second Season Companion, p 35)
- Dennis McCarthy composed the music for the episode. McCarthy commented: "There's an eight-minute sequence at the end where Alixus is trying to get everybody to stay and as I watched it, I thought, What would Martin Luther have put in here? So I played it from a very Protestant viewpoint, using all the old church harmonies. It's subtle, but if I shortened the music and made it slightly more melodic, it could be used in a hymnal". (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. ?))
- Ira Steven Behr asked Hans Beimler and Richard Manning to join the writing staff of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine during the filming of this episode, but each declined. Beimler joined the crew a year later as a producer and writer. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. ?))
- Both producer Ira Steven Behr and director Corey Allen were disappointed with the final form of this episode. Behr felt that the show wavers unevenly between depicting the colony both in a good and a bad light, but never really settles for either view; "In terms of what those people were doing, the message of the show always seemed a little unclear. It was a show that worked well, but I don't know if we ever found it. We went back and forth over whether what these people were doing was a positive thing or a negative thing. Star Trek is such a tech show, and making these people antitechnology, it was almost like doing a negative show on Greenpeace." Allen felt that Alixus comes across as harsher than she should, although he doesn't fault actress Gail Strickland for this. On the contrary, he praises her for giving the character any Humanity at all; "Gail and I worked very hard to make that character reasonable, because her motives were right-thinking. She had created a paradise, and she needed to preserve it through discipline. We set out to let her be the reasonable and caring Human being that she and I agreed she was, but we were swimming upstream. It didn't come out that way. But I think that it's to Gail's credit that in making the effort the character came out with more Human traits." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. ?))
- Mark A. Altman commented that "Paradise" is "a far more intriguing look at the dynamics of cult leadership than the relatively ponderous TNG entry "Descent II"". (The Deep Space Log Book: A Second Season Companion, p 35)
- The colonists say that they have not seen a Starfleet uniform in ten years. The style would have been the kind seen in Seasons 1 and 2 of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- Sisko begins his station log while aboard the Rio Grande.
- This episode sets up Jake's ongoing apprenticeship to O'Brien which would become official in the next episode.
- Four actors – Rene Auberjonois (Odo), Siddig El Fadil (Dr. Julian Bashir), Armin Shimerman (Quark), and Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko) – do not appear in this episode. This is the first episode of the series in which Rene Auberjonois and Siddig El Fadil do not appear.
- A script for this episode was sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay. 
- It may seem contradictory that O'Brien says his actions during the Cardassian wars "earned him the gold suit" while his first appearance in TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint" he is seen wearing the red style outfit, but this is because he was made a division chief through those actions, but was not a chief on the Enterprise.
- This episode establishes that Sisko had at least two brothers. When Vinod comments that he has a talent for gardening, he says that his father was a chef who grew his own vegetables and sent Sisko and his brothers out to work in the gardens each day.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 18, 25 July 1994.
- As part of the DS9 Season 2 DVD collection.
Links and references
- Rene Auberjonois as Odo
- Siddig El Fadil as Doctor Bashir
- Terry Farrell as Lieutenant Dax
- Cirroc Lofton as Jake Sisko
- Colm Meaney as Chief O'Brien
- Armin Shimerman as Quark
- Nana Visitor as Major Kira
- Julia Nickson as Cassandra
- Steve Vinovich as Joseph
- Michael Buchman Silver as Vinod
- Erick Weiss as Stephan
2360; 2366; 2368; abeam; actinide; age group; arboretum; astatine; author; baffle plate; Bajoran; Bajoran wormhole; BDR; bioimplant; bluff; bow and arrow; box; Cardassians; centimeter; class M; clerk; commissioning; conversion; core behavior; Crockett, USS; curve ball; duonetic field; Earth; elbow; EM; EM system; Enterprise-D, USS; Erewon-class; F-type star; fashion; Federation-Cardassian War; Ferengi; fever; field; field transporter; foreign policy; gamma radiation; garden; Gasko; Gemulon V; Golanga; gold; heart; hematite; herb; Hopi; hull; Japan; Jake-o; kilometer; "make love"; mechanical aptitude; millimeter; Mitsuya; mold; Native American; O'Brien, Keiko; Old West; Orellius; Orellius diseases; Orellius Minor; Orellius pear; Orellius system; Orinoco, USS; poker player; power generator; prisoner of war; punishment box; ranking officer; repairman; Rio Grande, USS; Romulan; rope; runabout; Rutledge, USS; Santa Maria, SS (aka "The Cabin"); science officer; Sector 401; sexual procurement; Setlik III; Sisko, Jake; Sisko, Joseph; Sisko's brothers; sleeger fungus; soccer; Starfleet; synchronous orbit; technical clerk; temperature; thank you note; thorium; thorium grease; tractor beam;tricorder; warp tow; winter; Xupta tree
- "Paradise" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Paradise" at Wikipedia
- "Paradise" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Paradise" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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