Sacrifice of the Angels Ending A Deus Ex Machina?

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

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Was the ending Deus Ex Machina?

  1. Yes

    24 vote(s)
    37.5%
  2. No

    40 vote(s)
    62.5%
  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That's grossly untrue. The Bajorans interpreted them as mystical, but the Starfleet characters routinely characterized them as wormhole aliens. Several episodes explicitly revolved around the different characters' different perceptions of what the wormhole's inhabitants really were. This passage from "The Reckoning" sums it up pretty well:
    The show always took care to leave it ambiguous whether the Prophets were genuinely spiritual or simply advanced aliens ("sufficiently advanced" in a Clarke's Third Law sense) whose seeming prophetic powers were scientifically explicable by their existence in a different time continuum. Indeed, I'm pretty sure they were required by the studio to leave in that ambiguity, because overt religious elements make advertisers nervous. So there were always two possible interpretations: the scientific one favored by the Federation (with everything explicable within the fairly loose scientific laws of the Trek universe) and the more spiritual one favored by the Bajorans. And ultimately it didn't matter which one was objectively true, because what mattered was how the various characters' interpretations influenced their choices and actions.


    Yes, but my point is that just having divine intervention doesn't automatically make something a deus ex machina in the literary-trope sense. We're not talking about the literal usage coined over 2000 years ago; that would be pointlessly archaic. We're talking about its definition as a term of criticism, which refers to the arbitrary introduction of a random new element into a story that conveniently solves a crisis that the characters were unable to solve on their own. A deus ex machina doesn't have to involve divine intervention; for instance, if a killer is chasing our hero through an open field, and a piece of wing falls off a conveniently passing jet and hits the killer on the head, that's a deus ex machina, because it comes out of nowhere and solves the problem without the hero having to do anything. But conversely, divine action isn't necessarily a DEM; if a story is about gods in the first place, such as, say, Clash of the Titans or Thor, then their actions to resolve a situation are not DEM because they're actual characters in the story and their presence is set up well in advance.

    So don't take the name of the trope so dang literally. That's missing the whole point. The issue isn't about divinity. It's about whether a writer cheats to solve a problem rather than finding a legitimate solution within the story.


    You can't pick and choose parts of the definition -- nor is that Google definition particularly good. It's not just unexpected, it's something that's arbitrarily introduced without prior justification. It's when the writer can't think of a way out of the problem and just makes up some random thing out of the blue that conveniently fixes everything without the heroes having to do anything. That's not the case here. The wormhole aliens had been an established part of DS9's world since the beginning. We already knew they were there and had the power to do this. And it was the actions of the hero -- Sisko persuading the Prophets to act -- that led to the resolution. So no, it absolutely was not a deus ex machina. You were right to realize you needed to look up the definition, but you need to choose your sources more carefully.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2012
  2. CmndrSela318

    CmndrSela318 Doctor Who Fan 318 [Commander] Premium Member

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    ^^That's^^ my definition of a plot device and plot device is part of the GOOGLE definition for Dues Ex Machina. So I am therefore sticking to my original post. :p :cool:
     
  3. Jerikka Dawn

    Jerikka Dawn Commander Red Shirt

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    I voted no, it's not a DEM, for all of the reasons already mentioned.

    As far as "writing themselves into a corner" -- this assertion makes no sense since pencils have erasers on them. They could have just as easily, as has been previously mentioned, had Rom disable the weapons one second earlier.

    Sisko's encounter with the prophets in this episode was an unexpected surprise, but that alone does not make it a Deus Ex Machina. It wasn't an unnatural evolution of the story, it didn't really come out of nowhere, and the wormhole aliens were firmly established. I don't think I can explain my reason it's not a DEM better than the others have.

    The reason the Klingons didn't head straight to DS9 is because in the episode in question, space suddenly turned into a two dimensional plane which resembled ground combat with "lines" that needed to be "broken through" and all of a sudden you can't go around things. But hey, that's space combat on TV .. no way "around that" either :D
     
  4. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    So you're picking a definition for a different element, then picking only part of the definition to arrive at the conclusion you want. If you don't like the episode, just say so. Twisting and cherry-picking definitions to justify your personal preferences is dishonest.
     
  5. Spock/Uhura Fan

    Spock/Uhura Fan Captain Captain

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    I don't think it was. When I saw them intervene, I didn't feel like "Where the heck did that come from???"
     
  6. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Google is a fantastic search engine but a crappy primary source.
     
  7. Knight Templar

    Knight Templar Commodore

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    Not really.

    Look at "What You Leave Behind". The series finale originally featured a massive battle over Cardassia (it was late enough in the production process that this battle was included in the novelization) yet this battle was completeliy omitted in the aired version, reportedly for budget reasons.
     
  8. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    Which would seem to be a resaonable reason. It's not like TV shows/films have an unlimted budget.
     
  9. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    If Rom had disabled the station's weapons sooner then there wouldn't have been a battle at DS9 because the station wouldn't have had any weapons. The Defiant arrives and attacks the station, the station can't fire back, 200 Federation ships break through the Dominion's fleet, the Dominion are forced to evacuate the station. This ending would have been cheaper than the actual ending because they wouldn't have needed VFX shots of the minefield blowing up nor the Dominon fleet in the wormhole.

    Considering the fact that there is no evidence that there was supposed to be a battle at the station in Sacrifice of Angels, considering the fact that such a battle would have been superfluous considering we had just witnessed the mother of all space battles already in the episode, considering the fact that it would have been very easy to write an alternative ending to the dilemma, and considering the fact that the writers have made it clear that the Prophets' intervention was the direction they had intended to take the story, your claim that they had written themselves into a corner is incredibly weak.
     
  10. Tom Riker

    Tom Riker Lieutenant

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    At least they had to be talked into it. I don’t think Sisko had any intention of talking to the prophets when he went into the wormhole, I really think he was just going to cause as much damage as he could. I think a better way of doing this would have been setting the auto-destruct and trying to take out the Jem’hadar and the wormhole putting the prophets in danger and making them act in self-preservation.
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    But that wouldn't have been better because it wouldn't have had the same impact on Sisko's character arc as he related to the Prophets. Again, character should always be a higher priority than plot. Plot exists to create opportunities to explore and develop characters. Sisko just using brute force to scare the Prophets into saving themselves is superficial. Instead what we got was something more personal, more about the relationship between Sisko and the Prophets -- they wanted him to bow to their intentions for him, but he refused to be so passive and instead forced them to confront their own hypocrisy and change the way they did things. Not because he was going to kill them, but because he argued them into it, because he confronted them on a more personal level. That's better storytelling, because story is about character.
     
  12. G2309

    G2309 Captain Captain

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    No it wasn't. Its a miunderstaning of a deux ex machina. there was nothing unexoected about the prophets who had been established in the pilot emssary to have a lot of power in the wormhole. I like to think Sisko planned to ask them but waited for them to contact him.
     
  13. Tosk

    Tosk Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    What is the point of only reading certain words in the definition?
     
  14. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    ^So that it suppports your viewpoint. Would be my guess
     
  15. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    This is the Google definition for television, I've underlined what I feel are the important parts of the definition:

     
  16. Knight Templar

    Knight Templar Commodore

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    Deux Ex Machina or not. It was very poorly conceived and written.
     
  17. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    in a figment of a mediocre mind's imagination


    Yep. Having your protagonists bailed out by a miracle from "the Gods" is pretty much "how NOT to write drama 101." A lousy end to the arc.


    (again, this is not the same situation as in "Q Who." In that case, Q was the initiator of those events and the episode really revolved around his challenge to Picard. The Dominion War and occupation arc was not caused by the wormhole aliens.)
     
  18. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    Technobabble is just Trek's usual version of a deus ex machina.

    "If we discombobulate the tetryon resequencer, we can overload the forehead aliens' bioeliminator matrix and that will allow us to escape!" "Hooray! You saved the day, just when we were going to all die!"

    At least "Sacrifice of Angels" had some character development related to it's ending.
     
  19. toughlittleship

    toughlittleship Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Each to his own I guess. I liked Sisko's appeal to the Prophets. "What about Bajor? You can't tell me that Bajor doesn't concern you. You've sent the Bajorans orbs and Emissaries -- you've encouraged them to create an entire religion around you. You even told me once that you were 'of Bajor'. So don't tell me you're not 'concerned' with corporeal matters".
     
  20. Knight Templar

    Knight Templar Commodore

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    One thing that gets me and why the "appeal to the prophets" doesn't work is that Sisko IIRC flat out lied to the prophets.

    IIRC, he said that Bajor would be destroyed if they did not act.

    By whom?

    The Dominion had control of the Bajoran system for months and did little to the planet. Odo himself remarked that it was a relatively mild occupation.

    So obviously the Dominion had no plans to destroy Bajor.

    Does anyone really believe the Federation was going to destroy it?
     

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