Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges   Rewatch 
November 24, 2016 5:41 AM - Season 7, Episode 16 - Subscribe

Bashir attends a medical conference…on Romulus. Naturally, the conference turns out to be more than it seems…but, with Section 31 involved, it turns out to be more than it seems that it seems. …Or is it?

Notitia ex Memoria Alpha:

- The title eventually used for the episode, "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges", is a Latin proverb literally meaning "In the presence of arms, the laws grow silent" (although in the episode, Bashir translates the phrase as "In times of war, the law falls silent"). It is a variant of the phrase "Silent enim leges inter arma," originally from the Roman orator Marcus Tullius Cicero's speech "Pro Milone" ("For Milo").

- Ira Steven Behr joked; "I think Ron [D. Moore] was trying to get even with Hans [Beimler] and me for 'Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night'. Or maybe he was looking to top everyone else so he thought, 'Latin!'"

- In actuality, writer Ronald D. Moore arrived at the title of the episode when browsing at a book store, at a point when he was already working on the episode but hadn't yet titled it. He found a copy of a book by William Rehnquist dealing with the prerogative writ of habeas corpus, and its suspension during the American Civil War. On the book jacket, Moore discovered a blurb in which Abraham Lincoln's suspension of the writ of habeas corpus is described as "a classic case of the old Roman dictum Inter arma silent leges." He felt the phrase would be perfect as this episode's title, as it synchronized well with the installment's theme.

- This episode was shot prior to "Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang", but aired following. It was thus the last stand-alone episode of the series to be shown before the nine-part finale.

- All the scenes aboard the Bellerophon were filmed on Star Trek: Voyager sets, specifically, Voyager's mess hall, lower-ranking crewmen's quarters, and conference room (with the bridge seen past the doors). Ronald D. Moore was the one who put forward the idea to use Voyager's sets rather than simply using the Defiant; "When we started structuring the show, I called Rick Berman and [Voyager Executive Producer] Brannon Braga and [Voyager Supervising Producer] Merri Howard and said, 'I'd really like to use the Voyager sets on this.' We could have reused the Defiant sets once again, saying the Bellerophon was a Defiant-class ship, but I didn't want to. I thought that using a bigger starship with a different look would make the mission seem bigger and more important. And we could save a lot of money if we went over and used their existing stuff, rather than building a new ship." The DS9 scenes were scheduled on a day when the Voyager crew was working on a different soundstage.

- This is the only appearance, outside Star Trek: Voyager, of an Intrepid-class starship. However, an image of an Intrepid-class starship appears in "Future Tense".

- This is the first of only four times that Romulus is seen from orbit. The planet is not seen again until Star Trek Nemesis and later again in Star Trek: Enterprise's fourth season.

- This is the first time in Star Trek that a Federation starship (the Bellerophon) is shown to visit Romulus.

- Ira Steven Behr was a little disappointed with how this episode ultimately turned out; "It's an excellent show, but it doesn't have all the levels it should have. We thought we'd do a show about the compromising of Bashir. Unfortunately, it doesn't do that. At the end, Bashir winds up making this angry, pointed speech to Ross, which is a lot less interesting than the situation at the end of 'In the Pale Moonlight'. There a man is trying to deal with his own culpability. And this is a show that demanded, I felt, Bashir's culpability. And he gets to walk away clean, with him being the one pointing the finger. It takes the show down a notch, and keeps it from reaching the level we wanted."


"Did you know that the Romulan heart itself is gray? It's true."

- Elim Garak


"This war isn't over and you're already planning for the next."
"Well put. I hope your report is equally succinct."

- Julian Bashir and Luther Sloan


"You are a man who loves secrets. Medical. Personal. Fictional. I am a man of secrets. You want to know what I know and the only way to do that is to accept the assignment."

- Luther Sloan, to Julian Bashir


"Need a medical team, sir?"
(weakly) "No, thank you..."
"Don't tell me this is your first glass of Romulan ale..."
"Well, it was... (coughing) illegal..."
"That never stopped most of your colleagues!"

- Julian Bashir, William Ross, and Kimara Cretak, as the admiral discovers the potency of the drink


"I don't believe we've been introduced."
"Koval."
"Well, it's a pleasure to meet you."
(dryly) "Why?"
"Eh, you've got me there."

- Julian Bashir and Koval


"The Federation needs men like you, doctor. Men of conscience, men of principle... men who can sleep at night. You're also the reason Section 31 exists. Someone has to protect men like you from a universe that doesn't share your sense of right and wrong."

- Luther Sloan, to Julian Bashir
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (24 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I would disagree strongly with Behr about this episode; "the compromising of Bashir" would have weakened it, because they really didn't need to do a repeat of "In the Pale Moonlight". That episode was fine for what it was, and ditto for this one, because Bashir's unwillingness to compromise his ethics was precisely the thing that Sloan used to make his scheme work. That's how a serious player plays the game. And you had the out-of-left-field revelation that William Ross--one of the very few admirals in the franchise who isn't evil, corrupt, fanatical, or just kind of a jerk--was willing to go along with Section 31. I think that Siddig completely sold his speech to Ross, and for just an instant at the end of it, I wondered if Bashir really wanted to put his badge back on.

The minor disappointments for me--and they are minor--is that you had a token appearance by Garak, when I would have loved to see him engage with Section 31 somehow; he obviously wants to get back into the game (and will get his chance in the final arc, and have some really great scenes as a result), and although his presence would have complicated things immensely, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Also, I wish that they hadn't recast Cretak and Neral; they ended up seeming like different characters, which is unfortunate, as they both had their own past episodes of skulduggery, Cretak at the beginning of this season and Neral in the TNG two-parter "Unification." Nice to see the Voyager sets outside that show, though.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:04 AM on November 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


Not being a fan of the introduction of Section 31 in the first place makes me not fond of this episode either. I mean, I think it's a well-written/acted episode, but since the idea of a super-competent extra-legal secret organization is especially skin-crawling in light of current events, I must once again say bah humbug to idea.

Hey, so, the remaining episodes are a 9-parter to the finale, right? I may try to marathon through them today/tomorrow for my first watch so I can enjoy this last month of threads as an actual re-watcher.
posted by oh yeah! at 9:07 AM on November 25, 2016


Yep, we'll start that recap with "Penumbra" this Monday.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:17 AM on November 25, 2016


All of the Romulan political intrigue of the later DS9 seasons is kinda defanged knowing that Romulus is wiped out by a supernova a few years later (see: JJ Abrams' Star Trek). The last canonical thing we know about the 24th century is that Romulus was destroyed. What a downer. So many storylines that had been percolating will never pay off.
posted by Servo5678 at 6:05 PM on November 25, 2016


Not being a fan of the introduction of Section 31 in the first place makes me not fond of this episode either. I mean, I think it's a well-written/acted episode, but since the idea of a super-competent extra-legal secret organization is especially skin-crawling in light of current events, I must once again say bah humbug to idea.

I had the opposite reaction. Extralegal black-ops guys are really prevalent in media: Agents of SHIELD is a fun show, but they polish those jackboots. Jack Bauer and 24 have had a real impact on the treatment of human beings. Even Batman - and I don't want to diss the bat - is a vigilante who engages in unsanctioned violence and 'enhanced interrogation.' Holding a guy off a ledge is torture, full stop.

In most cases, this is presented as heroic. These people are depicted as good guys who are going beyond a corrupt system that can't handle the problems facing society. They're sexy, mysterious and their actions are warranted. I think that's dangerous. At the very least, it's dangerous when it's the only narrative people are telling.

The thing I like about Section 31 is that they are totally the bad guys. Sisko and the gang are repelled by what they do and represent, and they do everything in their power to avoid signing up or resorting to similar activities. (The one time Sisko *does* behave that way - In the Pale Moonlight - we're shown that it's a terrible compromise, not something we should be cheering or wanting more of.)

I like that, especially lately.
posted by mordax at 6:24 PM on November 25, 2016 [7 favorites]


The thing I like about Section 31 is that they are totally the bad guys. Sisko and the gang are repelled by what they do and represent, and they do everything in their power to avoid signing up or resorting to similar activities.

Agreed, Mordax, and had there been a DS9 Season 8, I would've liked to have seen Sloan and his agency get their true comeuppance—maybe be forced to confront the toxic effects that their methods have had, like your comment about 24. (Instead we got "Extreme Measures," but that can wait.)

All of the Romulan political intrigue of the later DS9 seasons is kinda defanged knowing that Romulus is wiped out by a supernova a few years later (see: JJ Abrams' Star Trek). The last canonical thing we know about the 24th century is that Romulus was destroyed. What a downer. So many storylines that had been percolating will never pay off.

Why, I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. JJ Abrams did a Star Trek?
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 5:30 AM on November 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's the super-competence of Section 31 that irks me -- yes, they're being shown as the bad guy, but there's also that air of "look at what bad-ass bad guys they are". It reminds me of how the made-up evil fascists of sf shows end up with a fandom, like the people who shipped Ward/Skye in Agents of Shield despite Hydra being actual Nazis.

From recent/current history, actual secret organizations have infighting and incompetence, and while they can get away with doing terrible things, their secrets don't stay secret forever. So, I just find the trope of the shadow-government creepy.
posted by oh yeah! at 6:00 AM on November 26, 2016


It's the super-competence of Section 31 that irks me

That makes sense, and your feelings on the topic are valid too.

I'm willing to give them that one because Star Trek is totally competence porn in general, with Starfleet taking the cake. (See incidents like Worf creating a comm badge powered personal force screen on the fly, or Captain Picard being tasked with a secret spy mission despite him being a diplomat, captain and archaeologist by training.)

Section 31 is shown to be *much* more capable than rival intelligence organizations like the Tal Shiar or Obsidian Order, but only to the extent that Starfleet is depicted as more capable than competing military organizations, IMO. Making them more capable than the good guys is unrealistic, but a narrative necessity: if they don't have the upper hand initially, then they can't stick around long enough to use in multiple storylines.

(I also feel like Starfleet being rotten at the core is supported by the text simply because the admirals are all evil. Section 31 provides a handy explanation for why an organization with so many do-gooders is overseen by actual literal on-screen villains.)

But again, your feelings on the topic make sense and I totally see where you're coming from.

From recent/current history, actual secret organizations have infighting and incompetence, and while they can get away with doing terrible things, their secrets don't stay secret forever.

I do wish they'd gotten their comeuppance on screen, yes. Given how packed S7 was, I think Cheeses of Brazil basically has it with, 'we needed an S8 for this.'

It reminds me of how the made-up evil fascists of sf shows end up with a fandom, like the people who shipped Ward/Skye in Agents of Shield despite Hydra being actual Nazis

Yeah. I mean, I see your point because it irritates me everywhere else. Like I pointed out above, I regard SHIELD itself as essentially a bad guy organization presented in a sympathetic light, right down to your issues about infighting and questionable competence... but it's their show, and our plucky heroes are plucky.

I do think making them the bad guys is an important step in delegitimizing them, though. The classic example of misaimed fandom in my head is Rorschach: he's supposed to be a creep. He eats sugar cubes and cold beans, he doesn't shower, he's nutty as a fruitcake. He wasn't *supposed* to be the popular one, but he's definitely a hero in the text, and so people tend to overlook that and only focus on the cool stuff he did. If he'd been a villain, I suspect his fandom would've been more in line with what Alan Moore expected.

Aside:
JJ Abrams did a Star Trek?

As someone who saw the first couple of those? No, he most certainly did not.
posted by mordax at 10:24 AM on November 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


Also: I know I've only been a fair weather participant in these threads, but man, I'm going to miss overthinking Star Trek with all of you.
posted by mordax at 10:28 AM on November 26, 2016


In terms of misaimed fandom, a closer-to-home example is Dukat. At one point, even the DS9 showrunners were looking at some of the things that fans were writing on the internet and going, "Ugh, no, guys, really?"
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:46 PM on November 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


In terms of misaimed fandom, a closer-to-home example is Dukat.

*full body shiver*
Ewww. But good point.
posted by mordax at 3:51 PM on November 26, 2016


Mrs. CoB brings up a point that relates to this Section 31 discussion. If the question is, "Did DS9 glamorize 31 in at all the same fashion as Jack Bauer/Batman/et al. were glamorized," one data point in the "no" column is the fact that it was portrayed as pretty bureaucratic. (Kind of looking ahead a bit to "Extreme Measures," but still.) OTOH, they had those sexy black leather uniforms.

Also: I know I've only been a fair weather participant in these threads, but man, I'm going to miss overthinking Star Trek with all of you.

There was some discussion of doing the films after DS9 is done. It beats the usual thing I do when DS9 is done, which is watch Voyager out of desperation, then regret it about four episodes in.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 5:11 PM on November 26, 2016 [5 favorites]


There was some discussion of doing the films after DS9 is done. It beats the usual thing I do when DS9 is done, which is watch Voyager out of desperation, then regret it about four episodes in.

We could do a 'good parts' watching of Voyager. I can spare... what, maybe six to ten hours? ;)

(For all their various crimes against narration, I still love Timeless and Living Witness, for instance.)

But yeah, maybe movies first or instead.
posted by mordax at 6:21 PM on November 26, 2016


There's still TNG too.
posted by oh yeah! at 6:49 PM on November 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


Well, I'm down for whatever, but as people who have been reading these rewatch threads know, I'm fond of speculating about what could have been done to make a particular episode better, and in that aspect, Voyager is a very deep and rich mine. (Although episodes such as "Threshold", aka The One Where Paris Gets Turned Into A Salamander And Likewise Turns Janeway Into A Salamander And They Have Salamander Babies And No One On The Show Ever Speaks Of It Again, could defeat even the most determined sow's-ear-into-silk-purse efforts. And, yes, I just spoiled the episode for anyone who hasn't seen it. You're welcome.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:40 PM on November 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


Given how packed S7 was, I think Cheeses of Brazil basically has it with, 'we needed an S8 for this.'

twitter has that!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:43 PM on November 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


DS9S8 may be derivative, but this: "O'Brien discovers a use for self-sealing stembolts that shocks the quadrant. Vic Fontaine is introduced to New Jack Swing."
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:51 PM on November 26, 2016


Even better: "An abnormally rowdy cruise liner docked at the station turns out to be full of Weyoun clones from a facility the Founders forgot all about."
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:53 PM on November 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


There's still TNG too.

Hm. Point. Strangely, I'm actually likelier to take a Voyager one seriously despite not liking it much - part of why I didn't rewatch more than a couple DS9 episodes is that I've seen all of them so many times.

Well, I'm down for whatever, but as people who have been reading these rewatch threads know, I'm fond of speculating about what could have been done to make a particular episode better, and in that aspect, Voyager is a very deep and rich mine.

Good point. That's a good part of why it disappointed me so much: it squandered *so much* potential. It could've been awesome with very little fixing.

(Although episodes such as "Threshold", aka The One Where Paris Gets Turned Into A Salamander And Likewise Turns Janeway Into A Salamander And They Have Salamander Babies And No One On The Show Ever Speaks Of It Again, could defeat even the most determined sow's-ear-into-silk-purse efforts. And, yes, I just spoiled the episode for anyone who hasn't seen it. You're welcome.)

(1) Nobody could spoil Threshold. It is legend.
(2) Threshold is only the second worst episode to air in any Star Trek franchise, tops. No way is it worse than Sub Rosa. No matter what else we do, that one needs a thread.

twitter has that!

I believe you win the thread.
posted by mordax at 5:27 PM on November 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


All of the Romulan political intrigue of the later DS9 seasons is kinda defanged knowing that Romulus is wiped out by a supernova a few years later (see: JJ Abrams' Star Trek). The last canonical thing we know about the 24th century is that Romulus was destroyed. What a downer. So many storylines that had been percolating will never pay off.

For all its faults—old game engine, formulaic play, game mechanics akin to space-magic—I adore Star Trek Online for its license to play in the original universe. It's set post-supernova, so Romulus is still dead, but they've cleverly placed it decades in the future, and both alpha and beta quadrants are scarred by it. Spock vanished, a new Enterprise is actually captained by a non-human (Andorian), and alliances have shifted, as you'd expect with a major superpower destroyed in an instant.

The Romulan Empire is gutted, but a remnant lives on (headed by Tasha Yar's daughter because Star Trek), but there is also a nascent Romulan Republic attempting to shed their past skulduggery which allows for players to actually play as a Romulan, and either ally with the Federation or the Klingon Empire.

Plus, the Bellerophon variant of the Intrepid class is a real thing with its own unique skin, playable by players. They've also managed to rope in a ton of the original actors to reprise voice roles, which is always fun to hear. The storylines are kinda goofy, but at least they've 50-odd years to pull on, so there's depth.

But who am I kidding, I really just play because I get to fly around in Trek ships and blow shit up. Never. Gets. Old.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 6:00 PM on November 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


Oh, and I'll forgive STO many, many things for this: they posit a believable (by Trek mechanics) way for the supernova to cover light-years in mere moments. When that was revealed through the completion of in-game missions, my inner-nerd was deeply grateful, for that had bugged me to no end from the day I saw the NuTrek movie.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 6:05 PM on November 27, 2016


But who am I kidding, I really just play because I get to fly around in Trek ships and blow shit up. Never. Gets. Old.

I miss STO hard, and feel like it was a far better successor to TV Trek than AbramsTrek. (I stopped playing around the Delta Quadrant stuff - the rubber band lag totally killed me.)
posted by mordax at 9:43 PM on November 27, 2016


episodes such as "Threshold", aka The One Where Paris Gets Turned Into A Salamander And Likewise Turns Janeway Into A Salamander And They Have Salamander Babies And No One On The Show Ever Speaks Of It Again

And I Saw One Of The Salamander Babies And The Salamander Baby Looked At Me.

I miss STO hard, and feel like it was a far better successor to TV Trek than AbramsTrek.

No question there. I also liked the fact that STO felt less like an MMO than any other MMO I ever played. Like, I could solo the majority of it, or what felt like the majority anyway. Too bad I lost my login credentials 9_9

There's still TNG too.

Sounds like we'll need a FanFare Talk thread to hash all this out after the DS9 finale.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 3:37 AM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I always thought Section 31 came off as more successful, but not more competent, than the Tal Shiar or the Obsidian Order, because hanging out in a blind spot was less constraining than operating in the shadows. The average Romulan or Cardassian off the street knew these groups existed and that their veils of secrecy concealed things they'd probably rather not know. Section 31 exploited the average Federation citizen's (and Starfleet officer's, if Sisko and Bashir's reactions to Sloan's first appearance are any indication) conviction that such an organization simply isn't possible.

I do wish they'd gotten their comeuppance on screen, yes. Given how packed S7 was, I think Cheeses of Brazil basically has it with, 'we needed an S8 for this.'

When the rumors started that Section 31 was going to feature in Star Trek Into Darkness, I got super excited because I thought Cumberbatch's character would turn out to be an operative who turned whistleblower after Section 31 tried to send him on a particularly heinous mission. In my headcanon his whole Sinister Plan is to out Section 31 and their nefarious dealings, forcing Starfleet and Federation citizenry to confront Serious Questions about the basis of their society and their conception of themselves as enlightened utopian people.
posted by Fish, fish, are you doing your duty? at 11:55 AM on December 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


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