Tonight I continued my screening of multipart episodes of Star Trek DS9 by viewing Homefront and Paradise Lost (Season 4, 1996). In this 2 part episode Sisko and Odo are posted to paradise, also known as Earth, in 2372. Their task was to assist Starfleet in saving paradise from the changeling threat (the founders of the Dominion). However, they instead thwart a coup attempt disguised as a security precaution after the power grid is sabotaged.
What made the changeling threat so frightening on Earth was that Changelings can “shapeshift”. This could be as a VIP or even a bird. Earth became a suspicious place with mandatory blood tests and martial law. It led to Sisko to quip that “Paradise never looked so well armed”. Sisko was even suspicious of his own father. It took Sisko sometime to get over the fear and xenophobia that was happening on Earth. Even his boss believed the Federation president who wasn’t human, should go back home.
It’s only after Siskos father refuses to co-operate, yet is proven not to be a changeling, that Sisko starts compiling evidence against the coup plotters. As an Autistic person I have often found alot of my social understanding stems from the moral lessons of Star Trek. Living in the UK I feel like the changling threat here is refugees and people that don’t work. Many people are viewed with deep suspicion of dishonesty and fraud.
As someone that doesn’t work and not always able to fit in socially it can sometimes feel like I am not welcome. I try to view it as the fear created in this episode but at the same time I have learnt to survive much like a changeling does through masking my behaviours. Masking can involve suppressing my behaviours or not talking about my interests. It can mean mimicking the behaviour of those around me, such as copying behaviours and developing social rules to get by in situations (See my app).
Much like Odo, a good changeling in this story, I need alone time where I can return to my natural form. Odo much like myself spends time learning to balance his need to be a changeling with fitting in socially. Odo wins few friends as many humans fear his difference but at the same time is estranged from his own people because he believes in compromise and peace. I myself feel a similar predicament where I can only be honest to appear sincere yet be judged harshly in either way I present.
Overall this episode captures well what fear can do to societies, families and individuals. Fear is itself our biggest challenge and much less due to the content. I hope one day we can all be less fearful of each other and be more trustworthy. Star Trek shows it only takes fear to disrupt paradise.