Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Season 7 Episode 16

Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges

Aired Weekdays 11:00 AM Mar 03, 1999 on Syndicado
out of 10
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151 votes

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Episode Summary

Stardate: Unknown Dr. Bashir is about to leave for a convention on Romulus, when Sloan, his contact in Section 31, asks him to gather intelligence on the Romulan Government. After consulting with Captain Sisko and Admiral Ross, he reluctantly agrees. However, things are far more complicated than they seem.moreless

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  • Nice Spy Story

    With a title that's Latin for, "In the presence of arms, the laws grow silent", this Bashir spy episode is a sequel of sorts to season six's "Inquisition", bringing back special guest star William Sadler as Sloan. In a way, it's vintage Ron Moore, with a storyline that's meticulously laid out and sci fi that's made understandable and relatable. In another way, it feels like Chris Carter's X Files, insinuating a lot going on offstage and playing up the paranoia. Either way, it feels like we're in the hands of a good storyteller who knows what's he's doing.

    Like Thompson and Weddle's "Inquisition", Moore is sure to give Sadler a meaty part, finding a way for Sloan to accompany Bashir on the mission. He also uses Barry Jenner well as Admiral Ross, giving him his first one on one scenes with Alexander Fadil. Meanwhile, Adrienne Barbeau replaces Megan Cole as Romulan Senator Cretak, redefining the part in a more sympathetic light. With new characters introduced (most notably, Romulan Senator Koval, generically played by John Fleck) and much of the episode taking place on Romulus, there's always a sense of tension in the air, with the multitude of characters scheming behind the scenes leaving Bashir unsure whom to trust. As the plot spirals out of control and gets really crazy, it's tempting to believe it's all another elaborate mindgame by Section 31, but to the episode's credit, it doesn't take this easy way out and delivers a satisfying conclusion instead.

    Supervising Producer David Livingston, directing his last of seventeen DS9 episodes, does a great job of fleshing it all out, even borrowing Voyager's sets as a stand-in for her sister ship, the Bellerophon, showing off the advantage to having a sister show.

    As with "Inquisition", the end result proves entertaining enough to warrant a sequel. And sure enough, William Sadler returns to reprise Sloan for the final time in "Extreme Measures" later in the seventh season. Truth be told, however, "Inter Arma" is probably his best episode.

  • Dark and Gloomy, Deep Space Nine at it's best

    I was very impressed by this episode. For a long while, The Next Generation was my favorite Star Trek series, but at some point I realized that Deep Space Nine had surpassed it. Episodes like this one are the reason why.

    Dr. Bashir is recruited by a man named Sloan, a member of a group known as Section 31 that operates outside of Federation Law to advance the Federation's agenda, on a mission to obtain information about their Romulan Allies. Bashir, one of our heroes, is reluctant to help such a man but ends up playing along after some persuasion. Bashir discovers that Sloan is planning to assaninate a high-ranking Romulan and does everything in his power to prevent it. In the end, he comes to realize that he was being manipulated all along.

    This episode was very well written, and revealed some harsh truths about Starfleet. Generally, starfleet is portrayed as being very righteous and the audience roots for them all the way. An episode like this shows Starfleet to have a dark side, something some members of the audience may have trouble accepting. But shades of gray are often more interesting than good guys vs. pure evil. This episode makes us question everything we've come to believe about the Federation. To that I can only say: bravo.

    This episode is also a nice precurser to some of the darker science fiction series that would follow DS9 (Firefly comes to mind). This new, darker Federation would have been an interesting thing for Star Trek to pursue in a future series, but unfortunately, they opted to do a prequel instead. Maybe someday DS9 will get a proper follow-up.

  • Dr. Bashir deals with problems in the Romulan Senate.

    Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges is definitely my all-time favorite episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I love this episode for many reasons. The two main reasons being that this episode focuses on Dr. Bashir who is my all-time favorite character from both Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and the Star Tre franchise as a whole. The other reason that I consider this episode to be my all-time favorite Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode is that it focuses on the Romulans, and they're my favorite species of aliens from Star Trek. The plot of this episode itself is extremely interesting. All in all, this is a really great episode, and it has remained to be my all-time favorite Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode even after years of first having seen it.moreless
  • When Bashir heads for Romulus for a conference, Sloan of Section 31 contacts him with with a mission.

    In my eyes, this episode has a lot going for it. For one, it features the Romulans (yay!). Between the Cardassians, Bajorans, Ferengi, Dominion, and Klingons, the Romulans got the short straw in development on Deep Space Nine, so getting an episode set on Romulus, learning about the Tal'Shiar again and getting some inside POV on their government is not a bad thing. This one also has the return of Sloan and Section 31. William Sadler always brings something good to that character in his handful of appearances on the show and the concept of Section 31 in the apparent utopic Star Trek universe is an enthralling concept. As in "Inquisition" and "In the Pale Moonlight" from last season and "Past Tense" long before that, viewers are left to question when the ends do justify the means, whether a group like Section 31 should be supported or opposed. Unfortunately, this question is better addressed in the aforementioned episodes. While this hour does introduce several interesting elements, overall the episode is rather average. At times the story seems slow, at the end it gets a little rushed, and when it's all said and done I had the feeling that not all that much happened in the episode. The twists at the end, however, with the fate of (recast) Senator Creetak, the truth about Ross, and Sloan are all pretty good leaving an interesting, if only above average, episode.moreless
  • A revealing episode of DS9 and one which assails some of the critical aspects of Roddenberry's original perception as unrealistic. While this episode makes no reference to "In The Pale Moonlight", it is certainly a followthrough of it.moreless

    "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges" is classic Latin for "In the face of Arms, The Law is silent." (The translation quoted in the episode is less effective) -- In other words, The Law is powerless by itself. It needs someone and some way to be enforced, and this leads to humans -- and another classic Latin quote, "Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?" ("Who will watch The Guardians?").

    In reality, any society requires occasional "black ops", something inherently anathema to the ideal of the Federation, but still required, occasionally, for survival. They can even sometimes be justified in terms of the tradeoffs -- as in "In the Pale Moonlight", if the death or betrayal of one individual can save thousands, is it not the appropriate choice? Ideally, no -- but what about the real world?

    This is true even of The Federation. It is not a pure ideal, but a real society, and thus is dependent, entirely, upon the quality of those who supervise it... and they are constrained, inevitably, by their surroundings. Sometimes they must do things they might abhor and revile, but which are needful to survive or even produce a substantially better outcome.

    In this episode, we see another case of a Federation Black Op, this one aimed at weakening the Romulans as their primary rival after the Dominion War is over (and, apparently, the Federation now feels confident this will happen in the Alpha Quadrant's favor).

    In the end, like Dr. Brashir, you are left with an uneasy recognition that the above is true -- that some people must be allowed, though not encouraged, to act outside the law, so that most can exist inside the law with safety and security.

    That the society depends on the overall good ones and not the occasional bad ones... but that it does still need the bad ones, too. As the Oriental symbol goes, a spot of bad in the good.

    And, finally, that the ones doing bad may not be evil in themselves, as we begin to see is true of Sloan just as it was of Sisko in "In the Pale Moonlight".

    You don't have to like Section 31, but it is needful that something like it exist, even in the Federation mileau.moreless
Michael Dorn

Michael Dorn

Lt. Commander Worf (Season 4-7)

Rene Auberjonois

Rene Auberjonois

Constable Odo

Nana Visitor

Nana Visitor

Major/Colonel/Commander Kira Nerys

Avery Brooks

Avery Brooks

Commander/Captain Benjamin Sisko

Alexander Siddig

Alexander Siddig

Dr. Julian Bashir

Colm Meaney

Colm Meaney

Chief Miles O'Brien

Adrienne Barbeau

Adrienne Barbeau


Guest Star

John Fleck

John Fleck


Guest Star

Hal Landon Jr.

Hal Landon Jr.


Guest Star

Andrew Robinson

Andrew Robinson


Recurring Role

Barry Jenner

Barry Jenner

Admiral Ross

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • The mess hall of the Bellerophon has a buffet and a galley instead of a wall of replicators and a captain's private mess. These were modifications made by Neelix to Voyager and should not appear on an Intrepid class vessel in the Alpha Quadrant.

    • At the end of season 6's "Inquisition", when Bashir explains Section 31 to Captain Sisko, Sisko instructs Bashir that next time he encounters Sloan, he should accept his proposition of joining Section 31. However, in this episode, Bashir is reluctant at best to assist Sloan, and even Sisko doesn't seem as determined that Bashir should join Section 31, having to ask Admiral Ross' opinion. Did they forget about their earlier conversation?

  • QUOTES (7)

    • Sloan: 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.

    • (to Bashir)
      Sloan: You're a man who loves secrets. Medical. Personal. Fictional. I am a man of secrets.

    • Sloan: I say that because when the war's over, the following will happen in short order: the Dominion will be forced back to the Gamma Quadrant. The Cardassian Empire will be occupied. The Klingon Empire will spend the next ten years recovering from the war and won't pose a major threat to anyone. That leaves two powers to vie for control of the quadrant - the Federation and the Romulans.
      Bashir: This war isn't even over and you're already planning for the next one.
      Sloan: Well put. I hope your report is equally succinct.

    • Bashir: You're taking quite a risk. I could have a security team here
      in thirty seconds.
      Sloan: I suspect you'd be unable to communicate with anyone outside this room.
      Bashir: I could scream.

    • Garak: I must tell you it's a bit disappointing to hear you mouthing the usual platitudes about peace and friendship regarding an implacable foe like the Romulans. But, I live in hope that someday you'll see the universe as it truly is, rather than as you wish it to be.
      Bashir: I shall endeavor to become more cynical with each passing day. To look gift horses in the mouth and find clouds in every silver lining.
      Garak: If only you meant it.

    • Garak: Ah, Romulus. How well I remember it. You will find the predominant color to be gray. The buildings. The clothes. The people. Did you know that the Romulan heart itself is gray? It's true. And entirely appropriate for such an unimaginative race.

    • Bashir: You don't see anything wrong with what happened, do you?
      Ross: I don't like it, but I've spent the last year and a half of my life ordering young men and women to die. I like that even less!
      Bashir: That's a glib answer, and a cheap way, to avoid the fact that you've tramped on the very thing that those young men and women are out there trying to protect. Does that not mean anything to you?!!
      Ross: Inter Arma, Enim Silent Leges.
      Bashir: In times of war the law falls silent. Cicero. So is that what we have become? A 24th century Rome, driven by nothing other than the certainty that Caesar can do no wrong?!
      Ross: As far as I'm concerned, this conversation never happened. You're dismissed.

  • NOTES (7)


    • M*A*S*H
      Sloan bears a striking resemblance to Colonel Flagg in M*A*S*H. They are both with Intelligence, causing a lot of grief to the regular cast, and able to disappear without a trace.

    • Bellerophon
      The conference Doctor Bashir attends is held on the starship USS Bellerophon. Bellerophon was also the name of the colony ship whose disappearance provided the backstory for the 1956 film Forbidden Planet. The name comes from ancient Greek religion - it means "dart-bearer". He was the hero who slew the Chimera, thus making this an obscure reference to episode bearing the same name, which aired two weeks before this one.

    • Roman

      This episode ends with the Admiral and Bashir talking about Rome. Romulus was the mythical founder of the city of Rome, so it is fitting that this episode takes place on Romulus.

      Romulus' architecture in the matte painting is also very Roman in style: the pillars, the large Colosseum like building.

    • Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges

      The title of this episode in Latin literally translates as "When confronted with arms, the law becomes mute".

      This is a quote by Cicero, the philosopher and political theorist of the late Roman Republic. He was also active in attempting to be a go-between for the triumvirs Pompey, Crassus, and Caesar. When the Civil War between Pompey and Caesar began in 49 BC, Cicero reluctantly sided with the Republican Pompey, but soon chose to go into exile rather than fight a losing battle against Caesar. He was pardoned by Caesar after his victory, and Cicero later tried to make Caesar's heir Octavian his protege in his conflict with Mark Antony. The philosopher died in 43 BC when Octavian allowed Antony to kill him in exchange for the death of one of his own enemies in Antony's camp.