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Old August 22 2011, 03:13 AM   #1
TheLobes
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Anyone else dislike Section 31?

I liked the original appearance of Section 31 as a way to look at Bashir from a different angle, but when it became a plot point independent of that it started to annoy me. DS9, towards the end, really went to pieces as far as Im concerned. Literally. There were so many little plot points during the last season, all jostling for room so nothing could really be focused on.

Lots of people seem to think this, but Ive never seen anyone say anything bad about Section 31. I just found the whole thing kind of ridiculous, we only ever really see Sloan, but apparently it controls the entire federation?! As with so much in later DS9, it just seems crammed into the storyline, maybe because the fans liked it for being 'dark', or something.

Its like if years of DS9 had been devoted to this story about a dark and secret part of the federation which DS9 discovers and tries to bring down, then in the last two seasons theres a couple of episodes about a huge, HUGE war that Bashir and O'Brien somehow go off and win together.

Yes: exaggeration. But did anyone else feel like this?
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Old August 22 2011, 04:10 AM   #2
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Re: Anyone else dislike Section 31?

TheLobes wrote: View Post
...did anyone else feel like this?
... naahhh....
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Old August 22 2011, 07:08 PM   #3
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Re: Anyone else dislike Section 31?

TheLobes wrote: View Post
I liked the original appearance of Section 31 as a way to look at Bashir from a different angle, but when it became a plot point independent of that it started to annoy me. DS9, towards the end, really went to pieces as far as Im concerned. Literally. There were so many little plot points during the last season, all jostling for room so nothing could really be focused on.

Lots of people seem to think this, but Ive never seen anyone say anything bad about Section 31. I just found the whole thing kind of ridiculous, we only ever really see Sloan, but apparently it controls the entire federation?! As with so much in later DS9, it just seems crammed into the storyline, maybe because the fans liked it for being 'dark', or something.

Its like if years of DS9 had been devoted to this story about a dark and secret part of the federation which DS9 discovers and tries to bring down, then in the last two seasons theres a couple of episodes about a huge, HUGE war that Bashir and O'Brien somehow go off and win together.

Yes: exaggeration. But did anyone else feel like this?
I loved the idea of section 31...

When the sh!t hits the fan, its good to know there's an organization that got my back...

Section 31 are not evil, they are just realists...

DS9 (IMO) was the greatest...
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Old August 22 2011, 08:08 PM   #4
Temis the Vorta
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Re: Anyone else dislike Section 31?

S31 was a good concept, but a tricky one, since it skirts the edge of what Star Trek should be.

More care should have been taken in portraying them. The Changeling virus, for instance, was a very dangerous stratagem. Given Founder psychology, it would have stood a very good chance of backfiring.

The way to do it is to deliver a knockout blow - kill them all at once - but if that's the plan, why create a cure? Negotiating with the Founders to give them the cure requires revealing who created the virus in the first place, and then if the Founders are true to form, they will react with homicidal vengeance.

I liked S31 better in ENT. The concept of S31 seems to fit better into an era where the Federation was only just beginning and it was the Wild West in terms of how it would turn out (or at least, from the character's perspective at the time, if not the audience's).
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Old August 23 2011, 07:52 AM   #5
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Re: Anyone else dislike Section 31?

TheLobes wrote: View Post
Lots of people seem to think this, but Ive never seen anyone say anything bad about Section 31.
You haven't spent enough time on this board, apparently


Anyway, I get the feeling that Section 31 was purposely created to be unlikable. After all, the viewer is supposed to side with Bashir, who in each and every episode *hates* doing Section 31's dirty work, and even summons his friends for help (so odds are, your favorite main character is going to lend Bashir a hand). You don't approve of them? Great, that's one more thing that connects you the viewer to Bashir.


As a concept though, it might have been a tad extreme if DS9 was to question -- and then ultimately answer -- how the Federation got to be so utopic. Every nation has their skeletons in the closet. But you're not supposed to like those secrets either, that's why they're tucked away. They're a kind of villain/anti-hero that lives in the gray and forces the viewer to have discussions like this very thread.
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Old August 23 2011, 09:49 AM   #6
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Re: Anyone else dislike Section 31?

I dislike the principal of having the need for Section31 to help make the Federation what it is today. If it couldn't exist as a utopian society based on it's own values then it doesn't really deserve to exist at all.

However, the idea of Section31 is a realistic one and also from a storytelling point of view an excellent one. I love to hate Section31
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Old August 23 2011, 10:27 PM   #7
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Re: Anyone else dislike Section 31?

I liked Section 31 as a concept. I don't think the execution went well most of the time. It seemed like they had S31 coming across as dupes just as much as manipulators. The organization's finest hour was in Inter Arma Silent Leges. The other episodes featuring them weren't that good in depicting them as a real threat, IMO. Though I did like Sloan and Harris.
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Old August 23 2011, 11:50 PM   #8
TheLobes
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Re: Anyone else dislike Section 31?

Cyke101 wrote: View Post
Anyway, I get the feeling that Section 31 was purposely created to be unlikable. After all, the viewer is supposed to side with Bashir, who in each and every episode *hates* doing Section 31's dirty work, and even summons his friends for help (so odds are, your favorite main character is going to lend Bashir a hand). You don't approve of them? Great, that's one more thing that connects you the viewer to Bashir.

I get that they were supposed to be unlikeable, but wasnt there enough that was unlikeable at that point?

I also get how its nice to look at the darker side of the federation, but how much darker can it get. The negative aspects of the federation had been a huge theme throughout the series, with many episodes devoted to the idea.

Dark looks darkest against a white background, and by the time Section 31 showed up the federations flag was already plenty stained. If anything it just made me take the federation less seriously as a real entity.
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Old August 24 2011, 12:32 AM   #9
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Re: Anyone else dislike Section 31?

TheLobes wrote: View Post
Cyke101 wrote: View Post
Anyway, I get the feeling that Section 31 was purposely created to be unlikable. After all, the viewer is supposed to side with Bashir, who in each and every episode *hates* doing Section 31's dirty work, and even summons his friends for help (so odds are, your favorite main character is going to lend Bashir a hand). You don't approve of them? Great, that's one more thing that connects you the viewer to Bashir.
I get that they were supposed to be unlikeable, but wasnt there enough that was unlikeable at that point?
Hey, I'm not saying they were handled properly or with plenty of balance. As Temis pointed out, perhaps more care and deliberation could have been taken in trying to make them seem more ambiguous, rather than just a spy agency inserted into the Trekverse.

I appreciate that the DS9 writers took the risk in creating Section 31, and I'm glad Enterprise took the ball and ran with it in their own way. But even removing the debate about their place or function, and in my honest opinion several of the Section 31 episodes were rather average. If they were better episodes or more philosophical (TOS would've been a great vehicle for them), then I imagine they'd be better received.

I also get how its nice to look at the darker side of the federation, but how much darker can it get. The negative aspects of the federation had been a huge theme throughout the series, with many episodes devoted to the idea.
Well, a show like DS9 would have to have many episodes devoted to the idea since it was one of their major themes and motifs. But I believe a good chunk of the show questioning the Federation was from a distance. Few episodes like Paradise Lost involved the core of the Federation, and even then superior and more idealistic figures like the President prevailed (really, Sisko saved the day by sticking to his Starfleet principles). Section 31 arguably got us deeper in the core than Admiral Leyton ever did, and even then our heroes prevailed once more. O'Brien not abandoning Bashir is one of the show's best examples of the power of Starfleet loyalty, and together they overcame Sloan. In that sense, Section 31 helped reaffirm the positivity of Federation culture and Starfleet principles. Sometimes the old ways work best.

Dark looks darkest against a white background, and by the time Section 31 showed up the federations flag was already plenty stained. If anything it just made me take the federation less seriously as a real entity.
And I suppose that could be one intent: in another thread, a poster likened the Federation's reputation in the shows as akin to American Exceptionalism (ie, the Federation will win because it was destined to). So I would think that whenever the show asks us to question the Federation, it's to temper the hero worship just a bit, while still ultimately siding with them in the end. Indeed, by the end of the series, the show achieved something no other Trek show did in terms of story: uniting the big 3 opposite powers of TOS under one cause; the Federation, the Klingons, and the Romulans. The ones who kept it together before and during the war were the Federation all along -- so again there's that exceptionalism with the bright flag -- but there was a lot of pain and suffering involved to get to that point, and that's not counting Section 31.
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Old August 24 2011, 02:03 AM   #10
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Re: Anyone else dislike Section 31?

Section 31 was completely redundant in my opinion. Story-wise, there was nothing S31 did that couldn't have been done by Starfleet Intelligence and rogue admirals.
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Old August 24 2011, 03:03 AM   #11
TheLobes
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Re: Anyone else dislike Section 31?

Cyke101 wrote: View Post
Hey, I'm not saying they were handled properly or with plenty of balance. As Temis pointed out, perhaps more care and deliberation could have been taken in trying to make them seem more ambiguous, rather than just a spy agency inserted into the Trekverse.

I appreciate that the DS9 writers took the risk in creating Section 31, and I'm glad Enterprise took the ball and ran with it in their own way. But even removing the debate about their place or function, and in my honest opinion several of the Section 31 episodes were rather average. If they were better episodes or more philosophical (TOS would've been a great vehicle for them), then I imagine they'd be better received.
I think this is where you and I differ. As far as Im concerned, no calibre of writing could have saved Section 31; it was just another something that weighed down the series. Ezri Dax, Pah'raiths, changeling virus, Vic Fontaine, Breen, Section 31. There was so much going on and nothing was focused on, and nothing worked, the series pretty well fell apart. The general qaulity of writing was the same, but all this crap just made it impossible to tell one good story.


Indeed, by the end of the series, the show achieved something no other Trek show did in terms of story: uniting the big 3 opposite powers of TOS under one cause; the Federation, the Klingons, and the Romulans. .
But the other series nver really courted that kind of ending, and Im never sure whether its worth viewing DS9 as such a huge accomplishment, in the long run. Dont get me wrong, I really enjoyed the show, and I appreciate the new direction it took trek, but I felt it could have been a little more conservative with the war. Big battles with Romulans and Klingons getting blown to smithereens every five seconds? Those battlescenes were really no more impressive than the visual masturbation you'll see in a movie like 'Conan'. There was lots of explosions, but I never really felt the union of those three powers.

I watched Redlettermedia's review of Abrams trek, and he made a point about the Dominion war just giving the audience everything too quickly, whereas TOS and TNG had only ever hinted at war. I cant help thinking he was right.
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Old August 24 2011, 03:14 AM   #12
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Re: Anyone else dislike Section 31?

Section 31 was needed in Trek it answered my callings. Good concept, was kind of poorly done (if you create a virus to kill the enemy why even make a cure?). Really made me hate Bashir and how damn naive he is. You have to break the rules to survive in a galaxy with so many hostilities. Its a miracle the Federation isn't extinct by now.
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Old August 25 2011, 04:11 AM   #13
Cyke101
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Re: Anyone else dislike Section 31?

TheLobes wrote: View Post
I think this is where you and I differ. As far as Im concerned, no calibre of writing could have saved Section 31; it was just another something that weighed down the series. Ezri Dax, Pah'raiths, changeling virus, Vic Fontaine, Breen, Section 31. There was so much going on and nothing was focused on, and nothing worked, the series pretty well fell apart. The general qaulity of writing was the same, but all this crap just made it impossible to tell one good story.
The literary/TV critic in me says anything can be executed well as long as the writing's intact But we can differ on this point. To be fair though, the list that you put down aren't really all that concentric, ie Vic Fontaine has nothing to do with the Pah Wraiths or Section 31. I think it's especially clear in today's serial-heavy world that that several arcs and subplots can co-exist as long as there's a clean separation for the most part between them.

Also, the literary/TV critic in me says the quality of writing wasn't the same. Fairly consistent but with some stinkers here and there during the Dominion arc. But again, that's me.

But the other series nver really courted that kind of ending, and Im never sure whether its worth viewing DS9 as such a huge accomplishment, in the long run. Dont get me wrong, I really enjoyed the show, and I appreciate the new direction it took trek, but I felt it could have been a little more conservative with the war. Big battles with Romulans and Klingons getting blown to smithereens every five seconds? Those battlescenes were really no more impressive than the visual masturbation you'll see in a movie like 'Conan'. There was lots of explosions, but I never really felt the union of those three powers.
Well, the real world reason for having those battles was simply to put seats in front of the screen -- it's kind of unfair to call any sort of Trek special effect as visual masturbation since every show has tried to push the limits of of special effects, from TOS' giant amoeba to TNG's warp to the edge of existence to DS9's giant battles.

Now, whether there's rhyme and reason to explain those special effects is something else entirely, and if you don't think they help cement the union between the Feds/Klingons/Romulans, that's okay. I'd even agree with you in a sense that that's not what the battle scenes were intended for as well. But DS9 had those battles primarily to show that they *could* do it. As it was, even then they only showed fractions of those battles (we never really saw all 600 Starfleet ships vs. 1200 enemy vessels, for one thing). Thus, I wouldn't use the battles as the best evidence of the three powers coming together -- we get more than enough of that from dialogue and reports from offscreen battles (but it would be odd to not show their ships together at least a couple times). And even if DS9 didn't have the tech to show those big battles, I'm willing to bet they'd still have the war because of the show's trajectory. The majority of the war, in terms of what we saw on screen, was still fought in the usual TOS/TNG sense, in that battles were either fought offscreen, or between only a couple ships in dogfight, or merely hinted at, esp. when it came to one side suffering considerable losses.
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Old August 25 2011, 04:34 AM   #14
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Re: Anyone else dislike Section 31?

Rojixus wrote: View Post
Section 31 was completely redundant in my opinion. Story-wise, there was nothing S31 did that couldn't have been done by Starfleet Intelligence and rogue admirals.
Section 31 isn't a matter of what can be done, it's a matter of what's willing to be done. I doubt the official Starfleet Intelligence, and even rogue admirals, would commit genocide on the scale that S31 did.

I'll agree with what others have said, I like the Idea of S31, but thought it could have been executed better. They say you can't appreciate the light without acknowledging the darkness. And the brighter the light, the darker the shadow. S31 is supposed to be that shadow I think.
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Old August 26 2011, 03:53 AM   #15
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Re: Anyone else dislike Section 31?

Kaziarl wrote: View Post
Rojixus wrote: View Post
Section 31 was completely redundant in my opinion. Story-wise, there was nothing S31 did that couldn't have been done by Starfleet Intelligence and rogue admirals.
Section 31 isn't a matter of what can be done, it's a matter of what's willing to be done. I doubt the official Starfleet Intelligence, and even rogue admirals, would commit genocide on the scale that S31 did.

I'll agree with what others have said, I like the Idea of S31, but thought it could have been executed better. They say you can't appreciate the light without acknowledging the darkness. And the brighter the light, the darker the shadow. S31 is supposed to be that shadow I think.
I was speaking plot-wise. For the sake of the plot, anything Section 31 did could have been done by Starfleet Intelligence or some rogue admirals. We didn't need some super-duper-secret cabal that's not even accountable to the Federation government. Section 31 is nothing more than a conspiratorial cabal filled with deluded extremists who willingly break the Federation's laws for their own selfish purposes. They may claim to have the Federation's best interests in mind, but they are just extremist vigilantes because they're not part of the Federation government.
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