Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"The Jem'Hadar"


Air date: 6/13/1994
Written by Ira Steven Behr
Directed by Kim Friedman

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Hoping to spend some quality time with his son, Sisko takes Jake on a survey of a Gamma Quadrant planet. Quark and Nog come along—Nog as a friend and partner in Jake's science project, Quark to suck up to Sisko in a poor attempt to convince the commander to let him sell merchandise on the station monitors. The pairing of Sisko and Quark is at the very least lively, and some of the Federation/Ferengi polemics that arise are actually relevant.

While on this planet, Sisko and Quark encounter and are promptly imprisoned by the Jem'Hadar—the menacing foot soldiers of the nefarious Gamma Quadrant organization called the Dominion. Apparently, the Dominion considers ships coming through the wormhole as violation of their territory.

"The Jem'Hadar" is "comic book DS9" in many ways. This isn't nearly as substantive as most of second season DS9. The Dominion is large and foreboding, and the plot consists of mostly action scenes and a prison-break premise. But this is good comic book DS9. It's fun, but it's also pretty intense at times, especially when a Jem'Hadar soldier visits the station and supplies Kira with a list of ships the Dominion has destroyed—along with news that they have decimated the New Bajor colony in the Gamma Quadrant. (Nana Visitor's performance sells the scene more than anything else.)

Meanwhile, Jake and Nog attempt to pilot the Runabout back to the station themselves, with little success. The idea of "teenagers flying the ship" is utilized for some great comic payoffs—Jake and Nog have always been fun to watch when they get in over their heads. The episode ends with the best battle scene the series has attempted to date. A Jem'Hadar kamikaze that destroys the Galaxy-class USS Odyssey is quite visceral. The episode is mostly high adventure and comedy, and it works well. (And stuff gets blowed up real good, too.) With the introduction of the Dominion, the series adds yet another element to its canvas which will fuel many stories to come.

Previous episode: Tribunal
Next episode: The Search, Part I

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36 comments on this review

Chris - Sat, Mar 8, 2008 - 6:24am (USA Central)
I recently watched this series, and it's probably one of my favourites. "Homecoming", "Whispers" and "The Maquis" two-parter are up there with my favourite DS9 episodes. I prefer seasons 2 and 3 to the later, darker seasons - there's an extremely good mix of action, adventure, interesting characters and interesting politics. That's not to take anything away from the incredible changes to the landscape (the Klingons and Romulans taking a stand in "By Inferno's Light" and characters (Sisko in "Rapture" and "In the Pale Moonlight") in those seasons.

The suicide run by the Jem'Hadar ship on the Odyssey blew me away when I first saw it. I remember reading about the fan reaction in Sci-Fi magazines, and people were already putting the Dominion on the level of the Borg. At the time, they had no idea that the Dominion storyline would become such a huge part of the show.
Jayson - Thu, Jun 12, 2008 - 8:06pm (USA Central)
Chris, I think sesaon 2 was fairly good but nothing compared to later seasons but that should been expected, this show only got better as time went on.

But I do agree that when I saw the Jem'Hadar ship destroy the Odyssey as a kid, it did leave me feeling a little ill as I thought it could have been the Enterprise. But that episode and that scene was a really good way to introduce a genuine threat to our characters.
Jerry - Mon, Nov 2, 2009 - 10:45am (USA Central)
Has anyone ever read the DS9 Nitpicker's Guide. It only covers the 1st 4 seasons of the show but the author, in the section on "The Jem'Hadar," basically says that all the subsequent Dominion stories from Season 3 onwards are (for all intents & purposes) nits because the Federation simply didn't stay out of the Gamma Quadrant as Third Talak'Talon wanted them to do.
But I guess the series just wouldn't have been as exciting if our heroes were babysitting a wormhole they couldn't use.
Jayson - Mon, Nov 2, 2009 - 1:34pm (USA Central)
Jerry, I think it was more like the Federation wasn't going to be bullied around. Either that or the Federation knew they couldn't stop everyone from going into the Gamma Quadrant and weather it was the Federation or someone else, confrontation would have been inevitable anyway. I think the reasoning was that the Dominion was going to come eventually so they had to be prepared.
charlie - Mon, Nov 2, 2009 - 2:34pm (USA Central)
I remember reading that. Not that I agree with it, but Phil (the author) seemed to say that the Dominion War could've been prevented if the Federation simply stayed on their side of the wormhole.
I, for one, am surprised that the Federation just didn't collapse the wormhole after the events of "The Jem'Hadar" to keep the peace.
Elliot Wilson - Wed, Feb 10, 2010 - 5:17pm (USA Central)
charlie - The Dominion would have invaded anyway. All they wanted to do was control -- the Founders just as much admitted, "What you control can't hurt you" and that they wanted to bring "order" to the galaxy. Though I do agree about the wormhole comment -- they tried to close it in The Search Part II but when they found out about the Founders it was like they forgot! What the hell! Granted, no Dominion means no storyline, but practically speaking the Federation (no matter how "peace-loving" they are) should have REALIZED the Dominion was a serious threat on a massive level the AQ hadn't seen before, sealed up the wormhole despite the Bajorans' protests, and prepared for the inevitable confrontation: Building fleets of starships, training troops, equipping armies essentially. Pacifist idiots.
Nic - Wed, Jul 21, 2010 - 1:19pm (USA Central)
The last scene of "The Jem'Hadar" is what sold me on the show. I'm not referring to the Odyssey destruction scene (though that was also goood), but to the scene in Ops where it is revelaed that Eris is a spy and that the Dominion wanted them to escape. The writers basically took a long-established Trek cliche of Easy Escape due to Overconfident Enemy [TM] and turned it on its head.
Jay - Tue, Dec 27, 2011 - 11:30am (USA Central)
That biological energy weapon that the Vorta had fire from their chest was quite ridiculous...I can see why they scrapped it in S3 and beyond.

Weyoun would have been ridiculous with it.
Latex Zebra - Thu, Mar 29, 2012 - 2:57am (USA Central)
The point Phil Farrand misses in his nitpick is that they also destroyed the colony... New Bajor was it. Probably others. You just slink back to the Alpha quadrant and close off the wormhole after innocent people have been wiped out.

Not on my watch!
Latex Zebra - Thu, Mar 29, 2012 - 3:01am (USA Central)
That could have been mentioned in another episode though.

Gosh wont I look silly then.
Jake - Wed, May 2, 2012 - 5:08am (USA Central)
Capt. Keogh: Starfleet's orders are simple. No traffic through the wormhole until we investigate the Jem'Hadar threat.

Then he & his ship get blown to bits and, next season....we see traffic going through the wormhole again.

Am I the only one who finds this odd?
Jake - Thu, May 3, 2012 - 11:25am (USA Central)
Latex Zebra:
"The point Phil Farrand misses in his nitpick is that they also destroyed the colony... New Bajor was it. Probably others. You just slink back to the Alpha quadrant and close off the wormhole after innocent people have been wiped out.

Not on my watch!"

So, you wouldn't close the wormhole, thus ensuring that the Dominion couldn't wipe out any more people on your side?!?
You MUST be one of those gung-ho types.
Nick P. - Thu, Jun 28, 2012 - 8:24am (USA Central)
There is nothing cowardly about knowing when you are outmatched.
"He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious." -Sun TZu

Yes, the federation took a ridiculous chance by not closing the stupid wormhole. I know this is entertainment, but for every Braveheart, there are thousands of over-matched underdogs who LOST.

Latex Zebra - Wed, Jul 4, 2012 - 3:43pm (USA Central)

lol no. I'm pretty placid. It was supposed to be a light hearted comment.

Common sense says collapse the wormhole.
The Federation are often inconsistent with thier common sense though.

David - Fri, Sep 28, 2012 - 6:04am (USA Central)
I just rewatched this episode and that struck me too. Bajor (and by extension the Federation) unknowingly set up a colony in occupied space and when the occupiers say "stop entering our space" the answer appeared to be..."too bad"? On the other hand the Dominion did capture officers and detroy the colony in retaliation, I suppose the escalation happened more as a result of that than anything. Had they said "hey please remove your colony" things might have been different.
Paul - Wed, Oct 24, 2012 - 11:17am (USA Central)
The Federation's approach after this episode was strange. The Nitpicker's Guide essentially called the Federation out for violating sovereign borders after this episode, prompting a war.

There should have been one line of dialog, either in this episode or in one of the next several involving the Dominion, that said that the Federation agreed to stay out of Dominion territory but not the Gamma Quadrant as a whole. That would have been a reasonable Federation stance -- which the Dominion might not have accepted, leading to the war.

As for collapsing the entrance to the wormhole, Sisko et. al did show willingness to do it in "The Search", but only in the fake scenario created by the Dominion's experiment. When the characters woke up and returned to the station, they probably figured they still had time to devise another solution, because the Dominion was still in the Gamma Quadrant.

Over the next couple season, Sisko became more engaged with the Prophets, to the point where killing them by destroying the wormhole was probably not an option. It's worth noting that Kira is not in the Dominion's fantasy scenario in "The Search", so no one of Bajoran faith was around to object to collapsing the wormhole.

By season 5, when Sisko et. al opt to seal the wormhole, not destroy it, in anticipating of a Dominion invasion. Kira objects, but is overruled. When the Dominion sabotages Sisko's attempt to seal the wormhole, it occurred in a way that made sealing the entrance impossible (hence mining the entrance in "Call to Arms").
Comp625 - Mon, Jan 14, 2013 - 11:03am (USA Central)
"The Jem'Hadar" was a good episode and a fun way to end Season 2. That said, The Search I would have been an *awesome* season ender (much like BOBW I), but I don't know if the writers planned that far ahead.

Also, I suppose the writers needed a way to explain why Sisko went back to Earth for 3 months (coinciding with the 3 month summer intersession between Season 2 and Season 3) in his attempt to obtain the Defiant.

I loved the character interaction between Sisko/Jake, Sisko/Quark and Jake/Nog in the jungle. The Jake/Nog scenes with piloting the shuttlecraft were funny, but I think it seemed slightly inappropriate and took away from the seriousness of the episode.

Lastly, the visuals of this episode were fantastic. Seeing a Galaxy-Class starship that looks identical to the beloved Enterprise D destroyed is a crazy feeling. Also, it was great to see an atypical Star Wars-like battle between the runabouts and the Jem Hadar warships.

My rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars
ProgHead777 - Mon, Jul 15, 2013 - 1:45am (USA Central)
The decision to show the Jem'Hadar annihilating a Galaxy-class starship was a smart one. It was a impactful scene that demonstrated quite effectively that the Dominion was a very serious threat to the Federation, perhaps even more so than the Borg.

I liked the scene where Quark points out to Sisko the dark chapters of Human history for which the Ferengi have no analog. Sisko's startled reaction to the word "slavery" was particularly noteworthy. EXCELLENT performances from both actors.
Grumpy - Mon, Jul 15, 2013 - 12:21pm (USA Central)
re: Odyssey

Recall that this episode aired 3 weeks after the TNG finale. If it looked & felt like Enterprise blowing up, as Comp625 (and Jayson, years ago) said, well... the symbolism wasn't lost on me. (Nor on Phil Farrand, who points it out in his Nitpicker's Guide.)

re: nitpicking

The conflict is not so much with this episode, given that the Federation could (and evidently did) choose not to recognize the Dominion's territorial claim. (Farrand's main nitpick is that this is inexcusably arrogant and provocative.) No, the conflict is with the following episode, which so effectively portrayed how dangerous the Gamma Quadrant had become. For two years, we had strolled through the woods, la-di-da, and then we learned that a bear lived there. "The Search part 1" re-entered those woods with a well-placed sense of dread. But as the months and years went by, it's as though we forgot about the bear.

In season 3, they still have the good sense to bring their warship in "Meridian" and "Destiny." But by season 4's "Hippocratic Oath," they're comfortable in a runabout.
Paul - Tue, Jul 16, 2013 - 10:54am (USA Central)
@Grumpy: Farrand's point is kind of intriguing, but I felt it was heavy-handed. I always felt this was a writing problem, not a concept problem.

At issue is whether the Federation respects sovereign borders (it does) or crazy claims about sovereign borders. As established in later episodes, the Dominion does not control the entire Gamma Quadrant. I wish a DS9 character in this episode or early in season 3 had made that distinction.

If that had happened, everything that followed in seasons 3-7 could have been basically the same. One of the key points about the Dominion was that the Founders felt their duty was to bring order to a chaotic universe. An interesting dramatic point could have revolved around the Federation staying out of Dominion territory but the Founders still deciding they needed to bring order to chaos. It could have showed how uncompromising the Dominion could be.
W. Scott Richardson - Sun, Aug 11, 2013 - 7:55am (USA Central)
"Like Earth in the early Devonian period." That would be the period when ancient humans 'whipped it... whipped it good!'
Kotas - Tue, Oct 22, 2013 - 5:04pm (USA Central)

An exciting story episode. Great way to end the season.

Jack - Wed, Jan 29, 2014 - 11:02pm (USA Central)
Quite the copout at the end, when Eris beamed away...they wonder where she beamed to, but then Kira saved them from having to deal with it by saying "she'll be back".

Where did she go? Did she beam all the way back to the Gamma Quadrant? An absurd notion, but if so, shouldn't the wormhole have opened? Otherwise, how could she have?

"She'll be back" is insufficient explanation.
Paul - Thu, Jan 30, 2014 - 10:26am (USA Central)
@Jack: It's established later that Dominion transporters can cover a few light years. So, Eris probably beamed to a ship out of DS9's main sensor range.
Jack - Thu, Feb 20, 2014 - 12:42pm (USA Central)
@ Paul

A Dominion ship in the Alpha Quadrant?

I don't think any ever had come across by this point. And even if one had, DS9 would have been the first to know, because, again, the wormhole would have opened.
Paul - Thu, Feb 20, 2014 - 4:38pm (USA Central)
@Jack: It wouldn't have had to be a Dominion ship.

Remember, that the Jem Hadar third in this episode seems to have a lot of information about the Alpha Quadrant. So, it's likely that some Dominion spies stowed away or otherwise got passage to the Alpha Quadrant.

Then, finding a shuttle or somewhere that Eris could have beamed to -- we later learn that Dominion transporters have an operating distance of like 3 light years -- wouldn't have been THAT hard.
Moonie - Wed, Apr 30, 2014 - 1:15pm (USA Central)
For me the best part of this episode was Quark's speech to Sisko. I realized Quark was right! When I started watching DS9 after TNG, I thought I would have to at best "tolerate" the Quark-episodes... but now I find I'm looking forward to them and I like that he's such a major character in the show. I saw him and Rene Auberjonois at a convention recently and they have wonderful chemistry between them.
Nissa - Tue, Jun 24, 2014 - 8:50pm (USA Central)
I was actually pretty disappointed with this episode set. For one thing, why doesn't Sisko have enough spine to tell Quark and Nog that it's a father-son trip? But that's minor compared to the fact that an entire starship got destroyed in the effort to save only four people (five if you count the traitor).

Also, the Vorta woman wasn't handled well by Sisko. So Quark takes him aside and tells him that she's a traitor. What does Sisko do? He immediately confronts her, despite the fact that she doesn't know he's found her out. He could have milked the deception further and got more information, but instead just pulls out his phaser and watches her leave. Not the best way to handle that, Sisko.
Yanks - Mon, Jul 7, 2014 - 1:07pm (USA Central)
I good introduction to the Dominion.

Couple interesting takeaways for me.

#1 as Nissa states above, I agree. Sisko botched this one. What better way would there be to get insight on the Dominion? What better way to misinform the Founders?

#2. I thought the Sisko/Quark growth part of this episode was great. I also liked how committed Jake is to helping his friend succeed.

#3. It was interesting that the Jem'Hadar soldier that was present on DS9 didn't recognize Odo as a founder (neither did the Vorta). I know they couldn't give it away then, but you'd think the brainwashed Vorta would have at least noticed.

Good closer to season 3. A sign of good things to come on DS9.

3 of 4 stars for me.
LongKahn - Mon, Jul 28, 2014 - 9:20pm (USA Central)
I wonder why no other vorta used that energy bolt from the chest. That was kinda cool. I guess most vorta we meet have a group of jem'Hadar soldiers to protect them but I can think of a few instances where they could have used that.
Jack - Sat, Aug 16, 2014 - 8:46pm (USA Central)
Paul said:

"Then, finding a shuttle or somewhere that Eris could have beamed to -- we later learn that Dominion transporters have an operating distance of like 3 light years -- wouldn't have been THAT hard."

In that case, I would think the crew would be VERY interested in figuring out just where that shuttle might be, rather than just a "She'll be back"

weiss - Sat, Aug 16, 2014 - 11:55pm (USA Central)
It is disappointing that we only saw the vorta energy weapon once. But given the vorta are clever from this episode, she was essentially the brains of the group, later seasons it makes sense that they showed them to be diplomats and strategists. And their intelligence conniving nature was so much more worth it.
I read in memory alpha that the dominion already knew of the federation and odo was part of the plan, b4 the wormhole was found out. The wormhole changed the first contact invasion dynamic. FederTion would never be contant with staying in their own galaxy, they need to push their ideas on others...
NCC-1701-Z - Sun, Aug 17, 2014 - 1:07am (USA Central)
My personal theory on the energy bolt was that it was an act of some sort, to facilitate Eris' gaining Sisko's trust and planting herself in the Starfleet camp as a spy by giving her a way to "break the force field" and creating a ruse that would make all of them work together to escape which would then strengthen their trust of her. Sort of like the prison cell in the TNG ep "Allegiance". Probably a holographic technobabble thingy of some sort.
Grumpy - Sun, Aug 17, 2014 - 1:03pm (USA Central)
You win a No Prize, Z. Your theory changes the twist, though. No longer "The dampener was fake so she could've escaped at any time" but "The dampener was fake because she had no powers to dampen." For that matter, the invisible-and-instantly-lethal force field (that the guards fail to warn their prisoners not to touch) might've been just lights on the floor.
Brian S - Mon, Jan 12, 2015 - 7:19pm (USA Central)
A few points:

-In addition to the Odyssey being a Galaxy-class starship like the Enterprise, it was not lost on me that Captain Keogh looked an awful lot like Captain Picard.....just to add to the visceral reaction of seeing the ship kamikazed in the end.

-Trying to arrest and detain the female Vorta the moment Sisko learned something was up was the prudent thing to do. Sisko is a Starfleet officer, which means he probably thinks more like a security or military officer than a spy. He was more eager to eliminate the threat than to try to draw it out to see what could come from it, especially since it seemed pretty evident that both Sisko and Starfleet had no real idea yet of the depth of the threat the Dominion posed. Besides, in Sisko's view, arresting her and then interrogating her WOULD have given them a decent amount of information.

-Where did the Vorta beam to? True, they never answered that question. But after all the episodes of all the years where Starfleet personnel escaped by transporting onto some ship that was hidden in some sensor blind spot, or using planetary interference to sheild from sensors, or what have you, it's probably fair to assume something similar.

-To answer why you'd send a starship after 4 people, the answer is simply it was a rescue mission. How many times was the Enterprise (TOS or TNG) put in peril in an attempt to rescue just one or a handful of the bridge officers?

-It's possible only a few of the Vorta were genetically engineered with that telekinetic ability.

-Sisko wasn't spineless in telling Quark/Nog it was a father-son trip, he was spineless (so to speak) in telling that to Jake. Ben wanted a father-son trip, Jake wanted to bring his friend along. Dad protested, Jake begged, Dad gave in. It's a fairly classic parenting dilemma. Father wants to spend time with son, growing son prefers the company of his friend over his dad. Throw in the bit about a school science project, and Dad felt guilty about both putting his own desire for time with his son ahead of his son's wishes to spend time with his friend and possibly interfering with a school project. He doesn't give into Nog, he gives into his own son's preference for independence and what he feels is right as far as facilitating learning for the both. He objects to Quark, but once he allows Nog on board, he knows better than to forbid Nog's guardian to go along.
methane - Wed, Jul 22, 2015 - 10:38pm (USA Central)
This episode certainly did it's job: creating interest & excitement about the next season.

That said, I don't hold it up as highly as most people here seem to. The comedy mostly failed to make me laugh, and the acting didn't seem very strong.

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