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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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