Sacrifice of Angels , Ex Deus Machina?

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine' started by WesleysDisciple, Mar 23, 2013.

  1. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Location:
    "Who are you?"
    First of all, it's important to point out that deus ex machina is not necessarily a bad thing. The germs defeating the Martians in The War of the Worlds is an example where it works, and the usage there is really part of the point of the story.

    In discussing Errand of Mercy, it should probably be made clear that it, too, is arguably only a de facto example of deus ex machina, since there were clues dropped all along that things were not as they seemed with the Organians. These included their immediate knowledge that Klingons were in orbit and beaming down, the unlikely stagnant culture, and their bizarre lack of concern.

    Also, although it doesn't look like you claimed it was, just to be clear, Arena doesn't really qualify as an example of deus ex machina on any level. The revelation of the Metrons is still part of the extended set-up for the main drama, in the eponymous arena. Without the contest on the asteroid, the episode has no real story at all. Also, anyone familiar with the story by Frederic Brown indicated in the credits would be aware of the similar device in it.

    However, the outcome of Arena was not the Metrons imposing peace. All they did was stop the two ships fighting in their space, and pit their captains against each other in the arena. They would have destroyed the ship of the loser, if the victor had wished it. Overall peace between the Gorn and the Federation was left to be worked out on its own terms.

    I agree there are similarities between Errand of Mercy and Sacrifice of Angels. But there are important differences. For one thing, Errand of Mercy is a one-off. Despite a namedrop or two, the Organians basically never figured into the story of any episode ever again.

    On the other hand, Sacrifice of Angels stood at the climax of drama that had been building for seasons. There was a great deal of investment in all of the nuances leading up to all out war between the Federation and the Dominion. DS9 had set itself out to be Star Trek's edgier cousin, and spent a lot of time trying to make the case that that's what it was. Also, because DS9 set itself up as being about story arcs, Sacrifice of Angels can't be separated from all the seasons of buildup and anticipation that had preceded it.

    Then, as the great battle is about to begin, the show has this epiphany. After all those seasons, it's suddenly time to finally get back to its roots. Assuming we can cope with the whiplash of that, what do we get afterwards, in the remaining time the show runs? Total silliness, such as that involving the Pah-wraiths.

    The problem wasn't that the theme turned out to be that war isn't such a good idea after all. That is consistent with the ideals generally associated with Star Trek.

    By way of clarification, the problem was twofold. First, what little dramatic payoff we got was all out of proportion to the buildup. That's it being "poorly executed". Second, and moreover, it was all downhill from there, and yet the show meandered on for almost two more seasons. This, what I called jumping the shark, was the actual nature of my criticism.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2013
  2. 14thDoctor

    14thDoctor Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2005
    Location:
    Edmonton, Canada
    The impression I got was that Sisko would have been born without the prophets interference anyway, but that they were so worried about it that they made absolutely sure it would happen by possessing Sarah.
     
  3. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2011
    Points noted.

    You raise some very good points about Arena and are correct about EoM.

    While you raise a valid point, the fact is the Prophets have been part of DS9 since the beginning and never really left. It's not like the Temporal Cold War or the Kazons, where they dropped off the face of the Earth after a certain time period. The Wormhole that introduced the Dominion is the home, as well as direct conduit, to the Prophets. Indeed, the whole "we need to destroy the wormhole" plot which kept cropping up seemed horrific to me as this is the home of a peaceful race of aliens.

    For me, the Dominion War was going to be a big epic darker and edgier story but it was never going to drop the Prophets arc. Those who wanted to keep the mysticism of the Prophets from their hard science war I felt were bound to be disappointed because that was as much a part of Deep Space Nine as anything else.

    Since they needed to have the Dominion come through the wormhole, I pretty much wondered why it wasn't obvious from the beginning. "Can you [The Prophets] prevent this bunch of guys from coming through?" It seems an obvious question.

    Oddly, my biggest problem with SOA wasn't that the Prophets COULD do this, it was the way they DID.

    My problem with SOA wasn't that Sisko appealed to the Prophets, which is just fine, and then the Prophets straight up murdered (say, 1000 Jem'hadar on every ship), 3 million guys. That's a little disconcerting for Star Trek.

    (And reversed by the video game)

    I mean, it'd be more Star Trek if they'd just CLOSED the wormhole.
     
  4. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2012
    Location:
    Shangri-La
    Personally I loved the concept of the good guys failing. It just showed yet again DS9 was willing to think outside of the box. Strictly speaking, as has been pointed out, the Prophets interfering is not an Ex Deus Machina simply because they -are- an existing story element. An Ex Deus Machina would've been if there never were any aliens in the wormhole for the whole series, then suddenly we have the Bajoran Gods appear out of no where and win the day.

    My main disappointment with the episode was virtually the lack of followup. The Prophets bailed him out, but menacingly declared there would be a price to pay. I guess you could vaguely interpret that to be his little spirit quests in season 7, but it really doesn't pan out and really fizzles away slowly.
     
  5. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2011
    I took the price to be Sisko will never come back to his family but everyone seems to think he'll be back ASAP at the end so what do I know
     
  6. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Location:
    "Who are you?"
    Right, I agree.

    One of my favorite moments of intervention by the Prophets was at the end of Accession, when they read a finished version of The Call of the Prophets, while at the same time realizing that the timeline had been changed. I thought Accession was a pretty good episode (the subplot of Miles not being able to keep his quarters clean notwithstanding).

    I just thought the Pah-wraiths took it too far.

    Knowing little about DS9 production history, I found this interesting. From http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Accession_(episode)#Story_and_script:

    This looks like it explains the deemphasis of the Prophets, and accordingly could explain some of the perception of there being a deus ex machina in Sacrifice of Angels.

    That's a very good point, too. And doing it that way would have been more like Errand of Mercy, in particular, for that matter.
     
  7. M.A.C.O.

    M.A.C.O. Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2011
    My issue with SOA is in retrospect of the event after the series finishes. At the time (season 6) I was ok with it. But after the season 7 vision quest, the orb of the emissary, Sisko's reveal of being conceived by will of the prophets and as Ira Steven Behr stated makes Sisko "part prophet. Is where it hurts the act in SOA. It dumbs Sisko's poetic and powerful appeal to gods for their intervention, down to Sisko unknowingly asking his extended supernatural family for a favor. Which the prophets grant.
     
  8. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2011
    It also is just weird because it's obvious during their "first" meeting, they have no idea what the hell Sisko is or is talking about yet can somehow manipulate his very linear birth?

    As for the Pah Wraiths, my main problem is they sort of come out of nowhere and are just there to be supernaturally bad.

    There's not even a reason for them to be bad. Why are they? What do they believe?

    The Prophets saying, "These are the dudes who **** with Linear Beings. Don't trust em." would have been nice.
     
  9. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2001
    Location:
    Great Britain
    The problem with that is they couldn't, the Dominion had sabotaged the Federation's attempt to collapse the entrance to the wormhole, so that they could no longer close the entrance.
     
  10. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2011
    I meant the Prophets.
     
  11. Trek Survivor

    Trek Survivor Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2009
    Location:
    UK
    It was a terrible moment, and after such a stellar season 4-5, really marked the gradual decline of DS9 for me. The less said about Sisko-as-part-prophet the better. Ugh.
     
  12. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2011
    Seriously, though, I'd love for people who hated it to give an alternative and WHY they had a problem with it.