|Story by:||Jim Trombetta and James Crocker|
|Teleplay by:||Jeff King and Richard Manning & Hans Beimler|
|Directed by:||Corey Allen|
|O'Brien and Sisko at bowpoint|
Sisko and O'Brien are trapped on a world with primitive technology, and the human colonists living there are determined to keep them from leaving.
- 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 in the middle of a discussion about the possibility of Jake Sisko apprenticing the Chief. 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 along the Cardassian border during the Federation-Cardassian War were what taught him the most and relates a story about Setlik III, 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 comm badge, 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 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 acid. 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 Nine 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 smalltalk 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. 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 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 points out her bald-faced lie, 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 Nine receives a report from Starfleet Command that the Romulan vessel Gasko reported seeing an abandoned runabout in the Gamma Quadrant. 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.
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 Stephen and as they learn, he was placed in the box yesterday 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 Stephen recovers from his time in the box, he apologizes to Alixus for letting the community down. She tells Stephen the matter is closed and sends him away. Once he is gone, Alixus points out to Sisko that neither Stephen not 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. She apologizes for the fact that there are no doors, a policy Alixus implemented, and tells him he 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. Asked if Alixus sent her to make love to Sisko, Cassandra looks fightened. He visits Alixus' 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 procuring?" he demands angrily. Alixus admits to sending Cassandra to his room and Sisko calls her contemptible. In Alixus' 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 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 just fine. Alixus notes with enthusiasm that Joseph is optimistic about a new combination of roots 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 tha 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 retrained by Vinod and another villager; without a word, Sisko places himself in the box and two villagers seal him in.
Kira an Dax find no signs of struggle 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 in a new direction. They tow the Oronoko back to the Orellius system in the hope of tracing the runabout's original warp signature.
The next morning, Sisko is brought into Alixus' 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 uniform, motioning for O'Brien to stay away. He slowly places himself back in the punishment box.
When Joseph finds O'Brien in a nearby cave, O'Brien solicits Joseph's help in disabling the duonetic field. Although Joseph repeats Alixus' 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 fiend."
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, 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. The colonists are outraged, but Alixus defends her actions by pointing out how much better each of them is thanks to the "accident." Furthermore, even if Vinod had been one of the sick colonists who ultimately perished, Alixus claims she would have let him die "for the good of the community."
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' methods were, the planet is the colonists' home now and nothing will change that. As Joseph and apparently the rest of the colonsits see it, she may have taken ten years of their lives, but she gave them the gift of their community in exchange.
"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 to stare at the punishment box in wonder.
"But perhaps a lie can lead to a more important truth. Would any of you learned who you truly are, at the core, if you hadn't come here? Joseph, you would have been a repairman all your life. Cassandra, you would have been a technical clerk in some closed-in room. And Stephen. 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
"What if it had been your son who was sick? Would you let him die too?"
"Yes. For the sake of the community. I did it all for the community."
- - Sisko and Alixus
"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
- Rene Auberjonois (Odo), Siddig El Fadil (Dr. Julian Bashir), Armin Shimerman (Quark) and Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko) do not appear in this episode.
- 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 both declined. Beimler joined the crew a year later as a producer.
- The brothers to whom Sisko refers in this episode does not seem to exist in later episodes.
- Sisko begins his station log while aboard a runabout.
- Although the concept of technology as a detriment to society is not new, "Paradise" attempts to portray it in such a way that the viewer is forced to decide for him- or herself. For example, Alixus is extremely jaded and is willing to sacrifice several people's lives for her beliefs, yet the colonists ultimately choose her way of life over that of the Federation.
- Sisko's uniform symbolizes his resistance to Alixus' control, as evinced by her repeated attempts to get him out of it. O'Brien and Joseph come from similar backgrounds as engineers, yet one cannot imagine life on the planet, while the other can no longer imagine anything else.
- The colonists' ship was named for the largest of Columbus' ships on his voyage to the "New World," the Santa Maria.
- The Orellius system was probably named for Marcus Aurelius, a Roman emperor who like Alixus was known as a philosopher.
- Majel Barrett as Computer Voice
- Michael Buchman Silver as Vinod
- Julia Nickson-Soul as Cassandra
- Gail Strickland as Alixus
- Steve Vinovich as Joseph
- Erick Weiss as Stephen
astatine; duonetic field; Erewon-class; F type star; gamma radiation; Gasko; Gemulon V; hematite; Hopi; Meg; Orellius Minor; Orellius system; Orinoco, USS; Rio Grande, USS; runabout; Rutledge, USS Santa Maria, SS; tractor beam.
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