Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Captive Pursuit"


Air date: 2/1/1993
Teleplay by Jill Sherman Donner and Michael Piller
Story by Jill Sherman Donner
Directed by Corey Allen

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

When the first visitor from the Gamma Quadrant comes through the wormhole, O'Brien befriends the mysterious alien (Scott MacDonald), known only as Tosk. Some of the crew suspects Tosk's unclear motives, especially when Odo catches him trying to access the weapons locker. But when another ship comes looking for Tosk, it's revealed that he is the prey in a highly honored cultural hunt—much to the ire of Commander Sisko, but presented as an issue that's treated fairly by the script.

While the episode has its origins in the action-adventure genre, much of what makes it a winner is the infectious friendship evident in the scenes between Tosk and O'Brien. MacDonald's portrayal of Tosk, while not the best in line delivery, exhibits body language that conveys his sense of wonder at the Alpha Quadrant. Colm Meaney turns in an amiable performance in his first vehicle on DS9. The alien hunters, unfortunately, aren't very compelling (and their costumes are quite hokey), but Tosk is a success because of the good makeup design and, more important, his appropriate interaction with his situation. O'Brien's decision to ignore Sisko and the Prime Directive in order to "change the rules" of the hunt and help Tosk escape is a noble act that rings true. Sisko's way of letting O'Brien help Tosk—and then calling O'Brien in for a chew-out as the job demands after the fact—is also quite gratifying. Overall, it's not an inspired concept, but it's nicely conveyed and characterized.

Previous episode: Babel
Next episode: Q-Less

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15 comments on this review

Jay - Sun, Nov 6, 2011 - 11:23am (USA Central)
Okay...the hunter aliens in "Captive Pursuit" seem pretty powerful, their technology making short order of the DS9 crew. Were they Dominion members? If so, you'd think we'd see them again. If not, you;d think the Federation would have sought alliance with them against the Dominion.

That's the trouble with these stories...powerful aliens are introduced and then ignored.
Paul York - Mon, Jun 4, 2012 - 9:40pm (USA Central)
I like the allusion to the moral evolution of humanity beyond hunting "lower animals" for sport, and also the obvious moral disgust that Sisko has for this apparent act of slavery -- given that his ancestors were probably slaves a thousand years previous. The moral dilemmas that come up when different species inter-mix is the best part of ST, I think. Sisko's and O'Brien's sidestepping of the prime directive was good; the PM is stupid and wrong and should be ignored. It is not a "very correct philosophy" as Picard says at one point; it is a very wrong-headed philosophy.
Paul York - Mon, Jun 4, 2012 - 10:53pm (USA Central)
The Hirogen and the Tosk should meet -- they were made for one another: hunger and prey. Another comparison: the Tosk, like the Jem Hadar seem to be engineered for combat -- apparently a 24th century thing.

Someone should write a show with a "magnificent 7" lineup of a hirogen, a Klingon, a Tosk, a Jem Hadar, a Nossican, and human soldier, and a Ferengi for comic relief.
William - Tue, Jul 24, 2012 - 10:49pm (USA Central)
I'm making my way through DS9 from the start and really enjoy it -- and your reviews.

This episode always stuck with me. It's not great, but pretty good. I'm sorry Tosk or some other Tosk didn't come back.

You always were left to wonder how these first Gamma Quadrant aliens fit in with the Dominion. There must have been regions of the Gamma Q not under their influence.
Van_Patten - Sun, Aug 5, 2012 - 7:58am (USA Central)
Another classic concept -'Aliens arrive and aren't what they appear to be, and then a crew member befriends one of them and goes against his creates to save them' - been a staple of drama and SF in particular for years.- Again the startling difference between TNG season 1 and this is once more execution. Scott Macdonald had appeared in TNG ( 'Face of the Enemy') and would go on to appear in Voyager and Enterprise also. He's good here as the Alien whose interesting ability (self-camouflage) hides his true nature, effectively a beast bred to be hunted. There's great rapport between him and the excellent (again) Colm Meaney who follows up his hitherto strong performances in the Pilot and 'Babel' with another competent display here.

What lets the episode down, for me, is the villains of the piece (ostensibly), The Hunters - Gerrit Graham's an underrated actor, but their dialogue makes them one-dimensional - also, given Sisko's flagrant defiance of them, there seems no repercussions in later episodes (although I grant that's most likely due to the fact this is designed as a standalone premise)

That said, this is another commendable effort - The sisko/O'Brien scene at the end is powerful, and the concept,although not exactly earth -shattering plays out well. Another good effort, meriting 3 stars....
Shawn Davis - Mon, Aug 20, 2012 - 11:48pm (USA Central)
I know I'm responding to someone's post that is about a year old, but in response to Jay's post, from what I read on the memory alpha website, the writers originally tried to set up a story where the Hunter aliens use to be breed for the dominion but the dominion discarded them and breed the Jem'hadar instead, but they abandoned the idea. Read more on it on the memory alpha star trek site.
Cail Corishev - Tue, Sep 11, 2012 - 8:48pm (USA Central)
This one feels like a TNG episode to me: an Alien of the Week from a one-dimensional society with some weird, unsustainable custom. Chief makes it better than typical, with some help from Tosk.

I'm not sure there is a bad Chief-centric episode, now that I think about it.
grumpy_otter - Sun, Apr 7, 2013 - 9:11pm (USA Central)
It's a simple premise, but I was captivated throughout. Like O'Brien, I liked Tosk and as his nature was revealed I was rooting for him. I wonder if old Tosk ever get to retire? But maybe that wouldn't be satisfying for them.

But what is bothering me after five episodes is how blase everyone is about the wormhole. That's the GAMMA quadrant! This is the first new species to come through! I cannot believe everyone on the station wasn't lining up to meet Tosk. I was fascinated by him and I know it's fiction--if it were real, wouldn't people be a bit more awe-struck?

I also find it surprising that people aren't just itching to jump on ships and get out there. I understand that transports have gone through apparently, but it didn't sound that important. Shouldn't a major exploration fleet be going?

Still loving it, but I am afraid I may have to skip reading others' comments for now--too many spoilers about future events. I've heard of the Dominion, but I don't want to know more yet!

T'Paul - Sat, Jun 29, 2013 - 5:24pm (USA Central)
O'Brien should be the official Federation first contact guy! No patronising, no sermons, only trying to understand Tosk on his own terms and on whatever common ground they have.
azcats - Thu, Sep 5, 2013 - 3:17pm (USA Central)
O'brien is definitely the best character on DS9. i am not sure there is a bad o'brien character show.

t'paul...you are right

and grumpy otter...good point. the wormhole shoudl still be fascinating.. there should be hoards of ships from all the major species looking for resources and other contacts!
Snitch - Fri, Oct 4, 2013 - 7:23pm (USA Central)
I liked the episode, it is O'Brien centric, which usually works.

The Tosk was interesting, but the sergeant neon sign guys were a bit tacky and overpowered.

O'Brien's humanity makes it very Trekky.

3 Stars from me.
Kotas - Tue, Oct 22, 2013 - 1:40pm (USA Central)

Interesting episode. Reminiscent of TNG.

Nissa - Wed, Jan 22, 2014 - 11:24pm (USA Central)
Um, I actually found this episode really boring. There was nothing particularly interesting about it. Just some Trek cliches here and there. Colm Meaney is amazing though.
Latex Zebra - Thu, Jan 23, 2014 - 7:14am (USA Central)
Such a great exhange at the end with Sisko and O'Brien. I still crack up as this now...

SISKO: Just what did happen at that security checkpoint, Chief...

O'BRIEN: The weapons' sensors must have overloaded on all his various gear, sir.

SISKO: "Must have"?

O'BRIEN: Yessir. They must have... since... I increased their output by about two hundred percent...

Always loved this episode. Nice that they reference back to this subtely when the Jem'Haddar are introduced. 3.5/4 from me.
Yanks - Wed, Jun 18, 2014 - 1:50pm (USA Central)
Don't forget this part Latex Zebra!!

SISKO: Save it. You ignored your duty to Starfleet. You took off your comm. badge so you could ignore me. You even ignored the Prime Directive by interfering with their damned hunt. Another stunt like this and your wife won't have to complain about the conditions here anymore. Do I make myself clear?
O'BRIEN: I understand. I was surprised by one thing, sir.
SISKO: What's that?
O'BRIEN: I knew I couldn't override all the security seals on the station, and I figured once you and the Constable located us, well, it'd be over. We'd find ourselves locked behind some forcefield somewhere.
SISKO: I guess that one got by us.
O'BRIEN: Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.
SISKO: Dismissed.

One thing I liked about Sisko... he's break the rules and did it in such a way that no one got in trouble.

I thought it was great when Sisko told Odo "Constable. There's no hurry"... and Odo took his good ole time getting to the turbo lift ... lol

I really enjoyed this episode. Love the "Tron like" hunters, love Tosk and thought Obrien and everyone else was fantastic.

Die with honour!!

4 stars for me.

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