Sacrifice of the Angels Ending A Deus Ex Machina?

Discussion in 'Deep Space Nine' started by M.A.C.O., Oct 27, 2012.

?

Was the ending Deus Ex Machina?

  1. Yes

    24 vote(s)
    37.5%
  2. No

    40 vote(s)
    62.5%
  1. M.A.C.O.

    M.A.C.O. Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2011
    The ending of DS9 Season 6 episode 6 Sacrifice of the Angels where Sisko begs the Prophets to intervene on his behalf and stop the Dominion Fleet of 2,800 ships that is entering the wormhole. Was that Deus Ex Machina or genuine writing device since the opposition against the Federation had been stacked so high?

    Ira Steven Behr and SFDebris have defended the ending stating it's not Deus Ex Machina, but divine intervention is a hard charge to defend against when it's so blatantly used. Doesn't help that Sisko is a religious figure for the wormhole aliens and is half Prophet due to his conception.
     
  2. Tosk

    Tosk Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2001
    Location:
    On the run.
    Even though "god did it", the Prophets are not a newly introduced story facet, so can it really be a deus ex machina?

    If divine intervention is automatically associated with bad writing, why is the bible so popular? ;)
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    The literary term "deus ex machina" doesn't refer to divine intervention per se, not these days anyway. It generally means a resolution that comes out of the blue, that doesn't arise logically out of anything previously established in the story and thus feels random and arbitrary.

    I don't think that really applies here, since the Prophets and their great power had been well established over the course of the series. It was just a question of convincing them to get involved. If they'd just chosen arbitrarily to change their policies and intervene, if they'd just swooped down out of nowhere without any setup or justification, that would be a deus ex machina. But they only got involved because Sisko, the star of the series, stood up to them and convinced them to get involved. So it was the hero's actions that were ultimately responsible for resolving the crisis. That's what keeps it from being a deus ex machina ending.
     
  4. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2001
    Location:
    Great Britain
    No it's not, it was clearly shown as early as the pilot episode that the wormhole aliens had influence of ships traversing the wormhole. So as they were using a device previoulsy used it can't be a deus ex machina.

    I note some of the people who have voted yes, have not said why it is.
     
  5. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2006
    Location:
    Regina, SK, Canada
    Technically not a Deus Ex Machina.

    Still disappointing.
     
  6. Utopianvista

    Utopianvista Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2001
    It was a cop out but not a Deus Ex Machina.

    DS9 went off the rockers with the wormhole/religious junk. Making Sisko part prophet was another poor move I thought.
     
  7. DS9forever

    DS9forever Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2007
    Previous episodes ("Prophet Motive", "Accession") had established that stopping in the wormhole brought about contact with the Prophets. Sisko also attempts to help the Prophets in "The Reckoning" for their actions in stopping the Dominion fleet.

    Memory Alpha quotes Ira Steven Behr from the DS9 Companion:

    "I felt it was the perfect next step in the evolution of the relationship between Sisko and the Prophets that began in the pilot. Hearing people refer to it as some dopey deus ex machina is really annoying because I would think they'd give us more credit for being on the ball. We didn't have to end it like that, we chose to end it like that. Because we wanted to say that there was something going on here. And ultimately, that would lead to our finding out that Sisko is part-Prophet. They wouldn't have done this for just anyone. This was the man going out into the wilderness and demanding God to interfere, to do something for crying out loud. The corporeal characters had done so much in the episode; surely they'd earned the help of the gods."
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    I'm surprised Behr himself called Sisko "part-Prophet," because that's not really the case. His birth mother was only possessed by a Prophet; biologically she was still human, and that means Sisko is still 100 percent human. The Prophets needed him to exist and thus made sure it happened, but that doesn't make him one of them.
     
  9. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2007
    Location:
    in a figment of a mediocre mind's imagination
    it is in the literal sense, but not in the way the term is commonly understood or used, since the Prophets were an established part of the story, and their intervention wasn't out of the blue.


    However, deus ex machina or not, it was a dramatically poor way of ending the arc. Having the protagonists beg the "Gods" to save the day for them is just not very effective storytelling.

    I never liked the "turning the wormhole aliens into literal Prophets" storyline, and this episode's resolution is one of the reasons why.
     
  10. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2001
    Location:
    Great Britain
    What are defining a Deus ex Machina as?

    Is it a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly solved with the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability, or object.

    If we take that as the definition. So sure it could be said to be contrived and unexpected, but there is no new event, character or ability at play. So it fails that definition. Perhaps some people believe it to be a deus ex machnia bec ause it was a contrived ending
     
  11. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2001
    Location:
    Hotel Transylvania
    Nope.

    It was as much a Deus Ex Machina ending as Q's actions at the end of "Q Who" were. That also had another abrupt ending, but it was something that everyone could see coming.
     
  12. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2007
    Location:
    in a figment of a mediocre mind's imagination

    different scenario. Q CREATED the crisis in "Q Who," he was just fixing his own mess.

    The Prophets didn't start the Dominion War, nor did they cause the occupation of DS9. They were fixing the Federation's mess there.
     
  13. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2001
    The Prophets always claimed to be "of Bajor", but didn't do anything to actively help Bajor until Sisko challenged them to save Bajor. Not the Federation. Bajor.
     
  14. Jimi_James

    Jimi_James Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2007
    Location:
    Gettin' Lucky in Kentucky
    I don't think so, simply because it wasn't just something that happened out of the blue and was never mentioned again. As others have pointed out, they specifically showed on numerous occasions that the Prohpets could interfere with corporeal matters and had been doing so for some time.

    It's also worth considering I think, that Sisko didn't simply ask and get what he wanted. It came with a price, which the Prophets came looking for when the time was right. He had to pay for their help and in doing so, was separated from his family and friends.

    So it's not like the Prophets stepping in to save the day, was completely out of the blue and had no lasting effect. For me, if the prophets had never been mentioned or never gotten involved in anything before then, and the moment of facing all those ships was the point of their discovery and Sisko was able to convince them to get involved, and then they never returned to do anything ever again....that would have made it a Deus Ex Machina.

    That's not how it played out though and as such, to me at least, it felt natural....at least as natural as non-linear wormhole aliens suddenly making 2800 Dominion ships vanish into nothingness, possibly can be.
     
  15. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2001
    Location:
    Great Britain
    So my question is to those that voted yes, how are you defining the term "Deus ex Machina"?
     
  16. iguana_tonante

    iguana_tonante Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    Italy, EU
    Yep. This pretty much covers it.

    So a pistolium Chekhovi. ;)
     
  17. Vanyel

    Vanyel The Imperious Leader Premium Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2001
    Location:
    San Antonio, Texas
    That's the problem with the Prophets. They see all time as one. They now understand that corporeal beings see the past present and future, but that doesn't change how they see things.

    They should have known the Dominion fleet was going to come through the wormhole and that the only way to save their Emissary was to destroy the Dominion fleet.

    From our prospective it looks like they came to their decision at that moment, but if they truly see all time as one, their decision was made long before.

    They talked about Sisko following a new path. More strange talk from a set of entities that see all time as one. Their was no new path, it was the one they knew he was going to take. They were f**king around with him, telling him his Pagh will follow a new path. They knew they were going to destroy the Dominion fleet. They knew they were going to bar the Dominion passage through the Wormhole. Yes it was never actually said but it was implied as no other Dominion fleets or ships tried to come through.

    Sisko made no argument they hadn't already heard. They interfered because they were going to. Everything they did they did because they were going to.

    They allowed the Dominion fleet into the wormhole because they were going to destroy it. They knew the path Sisko would take, they never changed it. They knew they could not stop the Pah Wraiths from taking over the Wormhole, so they sent one of their own out to not come back until needed.

    They were written as all knowing, yet caught by surprise?

    So since they knew what was happening, what was going to happen, that they would interfere does make it a Deus EX Machina. They were going to stop the fleet, no matter what because they saw it already.
     
  18. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2001
    Location:
    Hotel Transylvania
    The only reason the Dominon are in the Alpha Quadrant is because the wormhole exists. No wormhole, no Dominon threat. The Prophets were also cleaning up their own mess.
     
  19. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2001
    I don't know - were the Prophets really all-seeing? They weren't familiar with linear time, they seemed dimly aware of Bajor, but other than that they seemed pretty oblivious to what was happening at our simple corporeal level. Hardly omniscient. Seemed like Sisko was simply bringing the problem of the Dominion fleet to their attention.
     
  20. Vanyel

    Vanyel The Imperious Leader Premium Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2001
    Location:
    San Antonio, Texas
    Paraphrasing, they said there is no difference between what was, what is and what will come. That would indicate all seeing.
     

Share This Page