Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Civil Defense"

2 stars

Air date: 11/7/1994
Written by Mike Krohn
Directed by Reza Badiyi

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"I see. The auto-destruct program has begun. Well, well, well ... you are in trouble." — Dukat

An old Cardassian anti-takeover program runs amok on DS9 and locks down the entire station. As the crew attempts to regain control, they make matters worse, leading the program to attack civilians and eventually arm the auto-destruct sequence.

Although a general Trek rule of thumb states that any plot involving a self-destruct sequence is asking for trouble, the real problem with this episode lies within its uneven story structure and cliched jeopardy premise of a countdown to disaster. "Civil Defense" is a watchable but weak entry into the season.

During a routine analysis of the file system, O'Brien inadvertently sets off a programmed defense routine put together by Gul Dukat during the Occupation. Further complicating matters is the fact the program has so many fail-safe devices. Every time the crew attempts to regain control, a new subroutine takes over, with worse intent than the last. This eventually leads to a two-hour countdown to self-destruct.

This is yet another Trek example of "computer goes berserk." The premise of an old program surfacing from nowhere is hard to swallow because any computer-literate person knows that you completely wipe all old software from a used storage device before putting your own software on. Are we supposed to believe that such a hazardous program went totally undetected by Starfleet when they took control of the station?

Granting the story this detail only improves things slightly. The jeopardy premise is really worn out (although this is the first time an auto-destruct has been armed on DS9—I suppose it had to happen sometime). And structuring the story into three separate threads doesn't work. Kira, Bashir, Garak and Dax try to regain control of Ops while Sisko, O'Brien and Jake try to escape a room they're trapped in by using MacGyver-esque resourcefulness.

The A- and B-stories alone may have worked okay with a little better pacing, but the writers also introduce a C-story with Odo and Quark trapped together in Odo's security office. Their role in the narrative has no dramatic purpose nor does it contribute to the advancement of the plot. The duo is used only as gratuitous comic relief and, unfortunately, scene after scene between them falls flat. Put simply, the three plots pull each other down because each interrupts the flow of the other (and, really, the C-story should have been scrapped altogether).

Gul Dukat boards the station to gloat and strike an unreasonable deal in exchange for deactivating the self-destruct device. Mentionable is how exaggerated Alaimo's performance is. It's not up to par as was his commendable outing in "The Maquis." This time around, Alaimo spends so much time constructing his sentences and speaking so distinctly that it's distracting and almost hokey.

Fortunately, Dukat gets some worthy moments. A great touch is when he flips Sisko's baseball off the prefect's desk with his forefinger. And in the episode's best moment, he becomes a victim of wry irony when yet another fail-safe device locks him on the ticking time bomb with everyone else.

The most interesting part of "Civil Defense" is the bad blood between Garak and Dukat, who exchange insults and blather of the past through most of their scenes together. But just as with all Garak backstory, there is no backstory. It's just a lot of unexplained, half-hashed dialogue that may or may not be developed in the future.

The conclusion boasts one of those down-to-the-wire endings in which Sisko rewires the reactor core so it won't destroy the station. But there's nothing fresh about an ending where the hero saves the day with only five seconds left. It's been done too many times. Nevertheless, even this tired scene could've received an energy boost from an exciting score. Instead, we get the usual form of linear monotony.

This episode also lacks an effective coda. The biggest mistake is that the writers don't work Dukat into the ending, making his role in the episode feel disturbingly unfinished. Instead, we get a wrap-up of the Odo/Quark plotline—bordering on pointlessness.

Previous episode: The Abandoned
Next episode: Meridian

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72 comments on this review

robgnow
Wed, Aug 13, 2008, 6:08pm (UTC -6)
The real problem with this episode is the set-up. Like you, I just can't buy into the fact that this program wasn't discovered and/or deleted/overwritten by Starfleet protocols already. This is really a S1 story - when we are new to the station - that has come after this boat should have already sailed.
Jakob M. Mokoru
Sun, Jan 11, 2009, 12:29pm (UTC -6)
Although I can agree to most of your complaints about this episode, I've always really enjoyed it so personally, I would give it 2 1/2 to 3 stars.

But it's your website.. ;o)
Destructor
Sun, Jun 28, 2009, 7:23pm (UTC -6)
I loved this ep. Sometimes Trek needs a nice mindless action romp, but the appearance of Dukat on the station (and how the replicator-phaser keeps shooting around him!) really amped up the action to another level. I'm a big fan- I'd have given it three stars.
PM
Wed, Jul 29, 2009, 10:19am (UTC -6)
I completely disagree with this review. This episode rocks in just about every way. First of all, the program itself is kind of like the rake gag in The Simpsons, where it goes from slightly funny to deadly serious and then all the way back to funny again. The program turning on Dukat is completely hilarious and unexpected. Alaimo chews the set with obvious and contagious relish, especially in the program's video messages - "Attention, Bajoran workers" has proven surprisingly durable as a quote meaning things have just gotten considerably worse. The resolution is lame, but that's a pretty minor flaw in my book. This is actually one of my favorite DS9 comedies - notably, DS9 is the only Trek show that could really pull comedy off.

3 1/2 stars from me.
Jay
Sun, Aug 16, 2009, 2:40pm (UTC -6)
I liked this episode a lot...it was DS9's answer to TNG's Disaster, and I liked this one as well as that one, if not more.

As in Disaster, checking in on various parts of the ship/station is necerssary, and I wouldn't elevate it to A_story, B-story, C-story status, because the disaster is really one story that affects everyone.
Jake
Fri, Nov 20, 2009, 9:18pm (UTC -6)
"DS9 is the only Trek show that could really pull comedy off."

Does that mean you never saw "The Trouble With Tribbles" or "Deja Q"?
jilly
Tue, Dec 22, 2009, 1:29am (UTC -6)
I loved this ep and so did hubbie. We are total geeks and are pretty hard on bad sci-fi. But we thought, as a stand-alone ep, this was a worthy entry into DS9 lore. We laughed so much and really enjoyed the ratcheting of tension each time the crew tried to help matters. They simply could not win, no matter how many workable solutions they devised. I am willing to buy that the rebel defense containment program was missed somehow, just to get a fun, exciting outing like this. And I buy that the Cardies would take the time to plan this out and make their little condescending videos, with relish. It's just SO Cardassian.

When Dukat realized he was outmaneuvered by the Central Command...well, DH and I thought that was worth latinum to watch.

Yes, the "last second" saving of the station was a tired plotline and beyond old, but we enjoyed the ep so much we could ignore that. We were reminded also of the wonderful TNG ep "Disaster" ...and thought the bromance segments with Quark and Odo were charming.
Jammer
Tue, Dec 22, 2009, 10:49am (UTC -6)
A lot of people like this episode. In past years when I went back and watched this episode again, I thought maybe I would enjoy it more. But for some reason, it just never works for me. Something about the execution is off. I always think about the scene where Dukat comes on the station and gloats. It should be great. But it's not. It feels off. There's something about the execution that doesn't work.

It didn't work for me the first time I saw it, and it didn't work the last time I saw it. It just doesn't work for me, even if I try to enjoy it for what it is.
Lenny
Sat, May 8, 2010, 1:46am (UTC -6)
Don't worry Jammer I agree with you, in fact I would only give it 1 star. The idea that the Cardassians have all these programs and recordings specifically automated to stop all these possible scenarios is ridiculous, why wouldn't they just deal with it at the time like normal people. Especially the one where the higher-up Cardassian has left a recording and program IN CASE Dukat tried to escape during a self destruct. Ludicrous. That's my complaints on top of what you already outlined in your review.

Very uninspired writing all round.
Nic
Tue, Feb 15, 2011, 9:41pm (UTC -6)
This episode DOES make me laugh, but the problem is that the characters aren't in on the joke. The episode seems to be meant to be taken seriously, even though the idea of such a complex automated program (that hasn't been discovered until know) is so proposterous in itself that you can't take it seriously.

I agree with Rob - this would have been a good Season 1 episode (say, in lieu of "Babel"). So this is two seasons two late. The only thing that saves this episode from being a loser is the great dialogue between Dukat and Garak. 2.5 stars from me.
Overthinker
Tue, Feb 22, 2011, 10:52am (UTC -6)
This is one that has some great areas, but also some rather draggy bits. It helps if you skip those. And anytime Dukat and Garek are together gets an automatic one star boost from me anyway....
I'd like to Voyage her
Sat, Mar 5, 2011, 11:30pm (UTC -6)
I don't see what the problem is regarding the program remaining undiscovered, but it seems like many of you are having suspension of disbelief issues.

To me it seems reasonable that the Cardassians would have such a program, complete with pre-recorded messages. They are nothing if not obsessively anal and organized.

It also doesn't surprise me that this program remained undetected for over two years. It wasn't in the main data core, or in OPS, or the security office. The file was specifically located in the Ore Processing Control room computer/server/data center whatever. And that was an area of the station not previously used before now, and understandably on the low-priority list for one-man-repair-crew O'Brian to get around to with so much else always going wrong.

In sum, the Federation didn't find it until they started really analyzing the system it was on, and they didn't need to do that until they had time to address the ore processing facility. Makes sense. It was an unnamed file, buried deep within a system that hadn't been used in 2 years. Why and how could they be expected to find it before then?

And as to the person who said that everyone knows you wipe someone else's programs/files before you load up your own, well, that's exactly why Jake and O'Brian were down there in the first place. Jake was trying to delete the old Cardassian files in preparation for installing Federation ones. O'Brian even asked him 'did you try re-formatting the data core' or some such.

I think those who nit pick on the suspension of disbelief in this episode are just looking for problems. I agree that this episode suffered from countdown to armageddon cliches, and a slow/irrelevant Odo/Quark subplot, but the program being there in the first place just wasn't an issue for me. 4 Stars from this Trekkie.

Grumpy
Thu, May 19, 2011, 9:18pm (UTC -6)
Apart from Odo's costume, Kira's hairdo, and Bashir's line about the station finally feeling like home after so many years, this easily *could* be a Season 1 episode.

But that doesn't make it better. I liked this episode when it first aired, especially how everything they try just makes the situation worse. Watching it again last night for the first time in years, I was bored by the reams of technobabble. Dax and O'Brien, as usual, had little else to say.

In fact, the scene where Quark confesses to Odo that his life didn't turn out the way he planned... that was the richest scene in the episode. Almost made the rest worthwhile.
Lt. Fitz
Mon, Jun 25, 2012, 2:01am (UTC -6)
The whole premise of the automated lock down of the station, pour in gas, set up the autodestruct, and the SURPRISE! trap the Cardassian leader of the station for his inability to get his automated security program to work was completely absurd. Secret automation top of secret automation! Totally incredible. And, as another commenter mentioned, this should have been a very early episode - like episode 3. It was impossible for me to believe that such programs would still exist anywhere on the station.
Chino
Mon, Jun 25, 2012, 4:14pm (UTC -6)
Jammer's criticisms are fair, but I still enjoyed this one desite its flaws. The bit when Dukat is informed that he is trapped as well because he was attempting to abandon his post is priceless.
William
Thu, Sep 13, 2012, 6:05pm (UTC -6)
Sometimes, a ship/station in peril is in order. I liked Next Gen's "Disaster," and I like this. Three stars from me.
Theonethatwas
Wed, Jan 2, 2013, 4:11am (UTC -6)
I do love this episode. However this whole thing could have been averted if Dax went to the Defiant and beamed Sisko, O'brian and Jake up. The whole station wasn't locked down until Dax messed with the computers. They could have made it to the runabouts and Defiant and beamed the commander up. I do not think Shields were raised at that time.
Aaron
Mon, Feb 4, 2013, 3:16pm (UTC -6)
What? No one has mentioned the hilarious moment when Garak pointed out that Dukat was flirting with Kira? "And you a married man!" Alaimo's reaction was priceless.

I laughed out loud more than once. S1's pointless episodes were boring. This pointless episode was not. Thumbs up.
Bob
Sun, Mar 24, 2013, 7:07pm (UTC -6)
I always loved this episode even if there are problems with the plot as you pointed out.

It's a reminder as to the fact that they are not on a Starfleet star base.

In my opinion, the story developed pretty well.
For instance, when they escape from Ore Processing, a new deeper level of security would rise up from the program. This happened time and time again, action --> reaction.
T'Paul
Thu, Jul 4, 2013, 3:50pm (UTC -6)
I'm also a fan of this...

I think the nit-picking about whether or not they would have found the programme before is irrelevant... It's a hidden Cardassian programme in a Cardassian station, there's no reason for it to be found beforehand.

The Dukat recordings are hilarious too.

I think it's well done, well thought out, amusing.
Corey
Tue, Jul 30, 2013, 1:31pm (UTC -6)
I just have to echo other commenters - I enjoyed this one too - Sorry you didn't Jammer. I enjoy TNG's Disaster as well. Even if it stretches believability, it was funny to see Dukat trapped by his own program that had been altered without his knowledge.

It's good, but not perfect so 3 stars from me as well.
ZurielSeven
Sun, Aug 11, 2013, 10:30pm (UTC -6)
Jammer (and others), if you've ever tried to code or automate a complex piece of hardware, you'll know that you only replace control elements for those things that *need* replacing. To me, that premise of this episode is not only reasonable, but makes the entire premise of the show that much more grounded. This isn't a Starfleet station that has been repurposed to serve as a wormhole fortress, it's got automatic life support systems, forcefields, power, waste reclamation, etc. and you don't want to "install" Federation code over Cardassian hardware because it'll work about as well as installing Win7 on Mac hardware... Starfleet has Miles O'Brien there to be the "Parallels" that allows the two to work together.
Kotas
Tue, Oct 22, 2013, 6:40pm (UTC -6)

Quite a silly plot, but I liked it.

6/10
Jack
Fri, Jan 31, 2014, 3:25pm (UTC -6)
Couldn't Kira have just turned off life support from a switch, rather than phasering the entire station? Now they'll have 12 hours minus the time it takes to repair all that damage to get life support back on.
Jack
Fri, Jan 31, 2014, 3:35pm (UTC -6)
Plus the bit about Garak and Dukat's father, thrown out here and then never addressed again. Dukat says the "time to address it is coming", but it never does.
Jack
Fri, Jan 31, 2014, 3:41pm (UTC -6)
Dax wonders how to deactivate all the forcefields on the station at the same time, but they did precisely that in "Whispers" when they were chasing faux-Brien around.
Nissa
Tue, Feb 4, 2014, 10:39pm (UTC -6)
I actually love this episode. Well, one storyline of it. The Quark/Odo part was fine, but the Sisko/OBrien/Jake part was really, really boring. This was the episode where I noticed that the writers seem to be doing everything they can to keep Sisko from doing "Captainy" things, such as deal with Dukat or solve problems as the leader of his crew.

The rest of the crews' plotline, however, was marvelous, and a whole lot of fun. Dukat was a pleasure, and having both him and Garak working their character magic is the pinky off the teacup.
Vylora
Thu, Feb 20, 2014, 6:58pm (UTC -6)
I agree with Jammer on that the execution of this episode feels a bit off. I also found the Sisko/Jake/O'brien parts to be mostly pedestrian. However I actually quite enjoyed the Quark/Odo interactions and some of the dialogue here was refreshingly different than the norm if that makes sense.

The idea of the takeover program in this instance doesn't seem that far-fetched to me either. Seeing as it's a rogue program set to initiate from a semi-seperate computer system that was not really dealt with til now. The fact that it started overrides on a still Cardassian basic OS if you will is plausible, especially with knowing how meticulous Cardassians can be.

Neither here nor there, the way this story was told just should've been different somehow. 2 stars seem right...almost want to say 2 and a half.
Andrew Taylor
Mon, Mar 3, 2014, 5:54pm (UTC -6)
I think an average 2.5 score is fair. It's pretty much brainless fun, as thinking about things for too long will raise more questions. I agree with the notion of this being a season one episode.

I think TNG did it better with Disaster, and the fish-out-of-water problems the crew had to face. In fact, it was the kind of story that would have fit in better on TNG, as the Tech Mystery was more prevalent there.
gata4
Fri, May 16, 2014, 4:45pm (UTC -6)
It has its moments (Dukat's recordings, his sparring with Garak), but I have to agree with Jammer, it all feels a bit off. It tries for drama at times, but would have played best as full-on farce. 2.5 from me.
Yanks
Thu, Jul 17, 2014, 7:30am (UTC -6)
I like this episode if for nothing less that we find out that even the Obsidian Order doesn't like/trust Dukat and sees him for what he is. The program turning on him was a very satisfying moment, especially when Garak rubs it in.

"GARAK: Even your own computer programme turns against you. I always knew your shortsightedness would be your downfall." ... lol

It was a fun ride, and while not important to this unimportant story, I enjoyed the Odo/Quark exchanges.

"QUARK: It's a small moon, but it's enough to live on." ... lol

3 stars from me just because Dukat's ego is slapped around quite a bit.
DLPB
Thu, Aug 14, 2014, 11:49am (UTC -6)
I don't see what the problem is regarding the program remaining undiscovered, but it seems like many of you are having suspension of disbelief issues.
=========

Not really. We just understand when writing is lazy, and how the real world operates. You have to shut your brain off for this episode to make sense. It's entertaining but ridiculously unrealistic.
Domi
Tue, Sep 2, 2014, 11:05pm (UTC -6)
I agree with the 2-star rating, but not the actual review. I like the very beginning with O'Brien, Sisko, and Jake, and I also like the Odo/Quark scenes. The rest was either cliche ridden, cartoonish, or too much like TNG's Disaster.
Sonya
Sun, Oct 5, 2014, 12:08pm (UTC -6)
I loved this episode. As I watched, I kept thinking of how dispensable the Bajorans were to the Cardassians, and the forced labor and gassing made me think of concentration camps and gas chambers. Kira's silent looks of outrage and grim determination underscored this. (I think this was the source of Dukat's attraction to Kira - her willingness to sacrifice the lives on the station before acceding to his 'deal' for there to be a Cardassian presence on the station.) This episode more effectively conveyed what it was like for Bajor to be occupied by the Cardassians than any other I've watched so far. And despite how awful the Cardassians were, don't we like Dukat and Garak? They're two of my favorite characters. I value this episode, in part, because of the dissonance I felt by being entertained.
Carl
Wed, Feb 4, 2015, 5:22pm (UTC -6)
I think that Jammer must have been really grumpy when he watched this episode. His criticisms are all valid but there is a lot which is great about 'Civil Defence' which he didn't mention. My personal favourite moment was when Gul Dukat ordered tea from the replicator and the turret disappeared and then re-appeared after he took the tea.

This was one of the episodes which I was most looking forward to rewatching during my second viewing of the series. I am surprised that it is a season 3 episode, to be honest. I was expecting it early in season 2. I also was unhappy this time around that the plotline in Ops ended so abruptly with no real resolution to Dukat's part in the story.
Vii
Sat, Feb 21, 2015, 11:19pm (UTC -6)
I really liked this episode too. Was rather surprised that Jammer disliked the Odo/Quark plotline so much, it was one of the highlights of the episode for me - along with the scene where the computer turns on Dukat, and Garak gloats over him.

But seriously, every Odo/Quark exchange was gold. Quark's "It's because they knew you were an honorable man. The kind of person who would do the right thing regardless of the circumstances. And now your integrity... is going to get us both killed. I hope you're happy" had me laughing for a good five minutes.

DVMX
Wed, Mar 18, 2015, 1:10pm (UTC -6)
I remember at the time saying while the premise is a bit absurd (this should have happened early in season 1 (third ep tops), not in season 3, as this "civil defense" would have LONG been deleted or overwritten by that point) its nevertheless a great bottle ep. One of my favorite episodes, in fact.
MsV
Thu, Apr 30, 2015, 7:02pm (UTC -6)
For I'd Like to Voyager Her: I agree with everything you said back in 2011. I really enjoyed this episode, I laughed a lot at the Irony.
Nathan B.
Wed, Jul 29, 2015, 5:00pm (UTC -6)
Who can forget Dukat bellowing, Bajoran workers!" I loved this episode's take on TNG's very enjoyable equivalent. It was by turns dark and funny, and nearly always quite clever.
S. Kennedy
Sat, Aug 29, 2015, 10:31am (UTC -6)
I thought it was an alright episode. Bit too heavy handed on lazy techno babble resolutions. What I did like about it was, it shows how paranoid a state the Cardassians are, as each attempt uncovers another protected layer, finally snaring Dukat. It was quite clever.
William B
Wed, Sep 9, 2015, 11:16am (UTC -6)
"Civil Defense" is about half a good episode. Defining the A-plot as the station-in-jeopardy plot which begins with O'Brien and the Siskos and which eventually switches focus to Ops, the B-plot as the further movement on the Siskos-and-O'Brien plot once the station-wide plot has moved elsewhere, and the C-plot as the Odo-Quark thread, the A-story is both funny and suspenseful until about the 2/3 mark of the episode -- culminating in the delicious twist of Dukat being snared by the Cardassian system. The story up until then is an escalating disaster scenario, punctuated by the increasingly dire warnings from recording-Dukat which are eventually replaced by actual-Dukat's smug, sneering presence. It tickles me that Cardassian preparation ("attention to detail," as Garak insisted in "Cardassians") involves Dukat recording dozens of video messages to BAJORAN WORKERS for various stages of disaster and with various hardwired countermeasures included, and I love the specific nature of some of the countermeasures -- the replicated disruptor device which targets only non-Cardassians being a particular absurd/inventive highlight. The idea of a complex, sophisticated machinery designed for "security" getting badly out of hand is very Dr. Strangelove, and while the episode certainly does not reach those lofty heights I think that the first several acts do manage to get the humour of the absurdly logical just right. Dukat's arrival, and his uncontained glee and laughter at the fate of his former station, the casualness with which he replicates himself some tea and then the disruptor device goes back on, is so much fun to watch, and his opportunism in taking advantage of the deadly situation to force a Cardassian presence back on the station is suitably chilling -- with the perfect comeuppance once his leaving the station triggers the next level of it. It's a delight, and also restores to the show something that has been lacking for a while, that the home that Our Heroes have is *itself* dangerous, built by paranoid killers and only recently repurposed. In addition to the military-industrial satire, it also works as a statement of some of the show's big themes -- the aftermath of trauma (personal and national) leading to a never-ending string of booby traps and triggers in the ground underneath oneself.

And then I checked the time on the DVD, and, wow, there's another 15 minutes left? The new scenario where Dukat works with the Ops crew and Garak to save the station has a few moments, certainly: I like that Dukat, immediately after attempting to bargain with Kira on the possibility of station destruction, starts flirting with her and Garak calls him on it; I also like that Dukat stands in the centre of the frame at the head of the Ops console, automatically "taking charge." I do like that the Garak/Dukat conflict continues, though it gets repetitive after a while. The real problem here is that while tech solutions to a tech problem makes sense, after the initial acts demonstrating how all countermeasures lead to a new, worse development, it's actually pretty dull to find out that, oh, THESE tech solutions actually resolve the problem, and that's it. I'm not really sure what the episode *could have* done; certainly, the idea of the combined ingenuity of the Ops crew and the two Cardassians plus O'Brien and the Siskos elsewhere on the station is enough to solve the problem sounds reasonable enough. It may be that this type of Dr. Strangelove tech-run-amok thriller-comedy can only "logically" end one way -- in destruction. Actually, though, it occurs to me that the episode may have been stronger if it maintained the comedy-thriller element as well as the way its characters are in way over their heads by having the scenario end more or less out of Our Heroes' control. There's an early "M*A*S*H" episode, "The Army-Navy Game," where (spoiler) an escalating scenario involving an unexploded bomb in camp ends when the bomb finally goes off -- and it turns out to be a bomb containing US propaganda messages telling the North Koreans to surrender. Since what I enjoyed so much about the first few acts is the long-term results of military-computer "logic" being released on the crew, with their every logical impulse being countered and backfiring, I might have enjoyed it had the station's own automatic functions saved the day, reinforcing our crew's relative helplessness while letting them live another day.

As for the other strains of the episode, "Disaster" is not really a Great TNG episode, but part of what made it enjoyable is the unusual character pairings, the kookiness of some of the concepts (Data's head being removed, Worf having to deliver Keiko's baby), and the placing of people into genuinely uncomfortable situations for them (Picard with kids, Troi in command). Odo/Quark is not an unusual pairing at all, and while it's fun to see them interacting it holds bit more punch when they have something to *do*. And of course the Siskos and O'Brien interact frequently. The O'Brien-and-Siskos stuff pretty much bores me throughout after the initial triggering of the scenario, though. When Jake is crawling through the vents and there is only about a minute to live, none of the three seems all that worried, and while I can certainly understand Sisko not wanting to worry his son, you would think that Brooks or Meaney could convey barely restrained concern with their faces. Much of the material for them consists of slamming things, breaking things off, and so forth. I think it's possible we are meant to see some development of Ben and Jke here, particularly with Jake coming to O'Brien's defense at the end and demonstrating heroism his father wouldn't have wanted him to, furthering the "Jake is growing up" thread. Still, there's very little material for this screentime, and not much urgency throughout.

Overall, I find the first 2/3 or so enjoyable enough in the esclating disaster scenario to give this 2.5 stars.
Grumpy
Wed, Sep 9, 2015, 11:25pm (UTC -6)
"Further complicating matters is the fact the program has so many fail-safe devices."

More like fail-dangerous, eh Jammer?

Too bad about that redshirt who gets vaporized in Ops. All his hopes and dreams... but enough about him. Will Dax's dainty fingers ever recover???

Credit the writer for figuring out a way to include a climactic explosion without destroying the station. The whole "redirect the overload to the shields" babble lets our heroes save the day without the disappointment of a countdown to nothing.

And the way Sisko snaps his fingers at the end... an inspired acting choice that makes up for the hokey suspense.
Diamond Dave
Mon, Nov 23, 2015, 7:39am (UTC -6)
DS9 does MacGuyver. Basically an action adventure with more than a helping of fun. The hyper-paranoia of the Cardassians is almost comedic in itself as the computer program ramps up the response in the wake of the non-existing crisis. That Dukat gets caught out by his own program is a delicious moment. Lots of good character interaction too.

The only problem is that it does run out of puff towards the end, and the act of saving the say is perhaps the least satisfying in the episode. 3 stars.
Jason R.
Mon, Dec 14, 2015, 11:48am (UTC -6)
I'm baffled by Jammer's reaction to this episode. Having Dukat and Garak in the same scene playing off one another is a rare treat, worth 2 stars in of itself. I thought the various videos of Dukat reacting to each development was so perfectly Cardassian. When Dukat got hoisted by his own petard it was one of the funniest moments in Trek. I give this episode 3.5 stars.
JC
Sun, Feb 14, 2016, 10:05pm (UTC -6)
Apparently the "main fusion reactor" isn't all that important, based on the fact that the station seemed to be operating just fine without it seconds after it was destroyed.

And the life support system is so poorly designed that simply blowing up its control panel in ops destroys the entire stations life support system? Not a bad way to take over the station if you need to...
Peter G.
Thu, Mar 3, 2016, 10:27am (UTC -6)
Dukat ordering a coffee amidst disruptor fire is pure gold, as are most of the scenes. The only drawback are the less interesting scenes with Sisko, Jake and the Chief in ore precessing, and so my rating is 3.5 stars. Not too many episodes are crammed this full of fun, and for that I can easily overlook a less-than-stellar sub-plot.
Luke
Sat, Mar 12, 2016, 1:51pm (UTC -6)
Well, it looks like Jammer knows how I felt about TNG: "Disaster". :-P

"Civil Defense" is indeed very much DS9's version of "Disaster", but done better. For instance, here we only have three plot-lines (with one that was unnecessary), whereas "Disaster" had five of them (two which were unnecessary and another two which weren't used properly). Just like "Disaster" there's practically no substance to the episode other than an attempt to have an enjoyable action-oriented story. The difference is that here they actually had time to flesh two of the stories out instead of ending up with five separate half-baked C-plots. The Odo/Quark sub-plot could indeed have been jettisoned completely, but the other two work perfectly well for what they are.

Of course the two big draws are Dukat and Garak. They steal every scene they're in, especially any they share together. The highlight is the scene between Dukat and Kira in Sisko's office. When Dukat asks if Kira is really willing to destroy the station we get a wonderful glimpse into his character. It's clear that he almost says "would you allow two thousand people aboard this station to die simply because you don't like me?" But, he catches himself just in the nick of time and quickly changes "me" to "us" because, deep down, he knows that Kira will say yes. He really doesn't want to face that hard truth because he's deluding himself into thinking he's a good person. It's a really nice touch which could be easily overlooked.

It's also nice that every techno-babble solution they come up with only worsens the problem. Now, I've say it before, but I really don't mind techno-babble (unless an episode REALLY REALLY goes overboard with it). But, it is nice that techno-babble doesn't ultimately save the day this time. What saves the day is a simple reprogramming of the reactor. I'll grant that it's not a very exciting end of this action-heavy episode, but it was a nice touch. Were the writers trying to subtly point out how DS9 is different from TNG? I don't know, but the sub-text is there, I think.

So, yeah, it's fluff. But it's got some good character moments. And it's enjoyable fluff.

7/10
Samuel
Fri, Jun 10, 2016, 12:08am (UTC -6)
Actually, not entirely wiping the computer makes good sense. They establish on the show repeatedly that the computers are a hodge-podge of federation, bajoran, and cardassian tech. Again, it's like saying why don't I wipe my office Mac and put Windows 10 on it. Different systems behave differently. Why not just replace all the doors with starship doors while they are at it? The point is that they and we are always at risk because of the constraints of technology. Totally believable in hindsight!
William H
Thu, Aug 25, 2016, 9:44am (UTC -6)
I like this episode a lot.

The big thing I didn't like was the redshirt getting zapped. It doesn't fit the fun tone of the episode, was totally unnecessary and indeed totally ignored.
Rick C
Tue, Oct 18, 2016, 8:47pm (UTC -6)
I felt bad for the nameless red shirt that got vaporized by the replicator phaser thingy.
Dave
Sun, Dec 25, 2016, 2:15pm (UTC -6)
It was nice of this episode to vaporize a hapless redshirt just to tell us that the beam in question can vaporize people (but apparently *just* people, since it strikes all kinds of other surfaces and just makes sparks).
DLPB
Wed, Jan 11, 2017, 6:37pm (UTC -6)
Jammer (and others), if you've ever tried to code or automate a complex piece of hardware, you'll know that you only replace control elements for those things that *need* replacing
--------------

I am a computer programmer, and I can tell you unequivocally that you wrong. Jammer and others are correct; this episode is grossly unrealistic and silly—especially from a programming point of view.

Think of it another way - if the Cardassians had wanted to, they could have destroyed everyone on-board with a hidden booby-trap. There is no way this would be allowed to happen. All the software would have been checked or replaced entirely - and any hardware would have been thoroughly checked also. Please stop it with the desperate defence.

On the other side, I do find this episode entertaining. Like much of Trek, it's not clever or believable - but it can still be fun. 6/10. It's the characters' interactions that make this episode worth watching. Not much else.
DLPB
Wed, Jan 11, 2017, 6:48pm (UTC -6)
Furthermore, to the person who mentioned that the system was a mish-mash of different alien technologies. The problem here is that this simply isn't workable in the real world. Even modern PCs have issues with device drivers becoming outdated on a newer OS - so imagine how hard it would be to make 3 totally unique pieces of hardware and software types interact? It's not remotely possible. It's only believable if you know nothing about computing.

Peremensoe
Thu, Jan 12, 2017, 5:27am (UTC -6)
Not to defend this episode, but it's a real stretch extrapolating from anything in current computing to Trek. This is supposed to be *three hundred and fifty years* in the future, which is to say *five times* farther from us than we are from ENIAC, which had to be physically rearranged to run each individual task. I assume Trek computers to work on completely different principles than ours, having undergone multiple revolutions to overcome the kind of kludgy inflexibilities mentioned.
DLPB
Sun, Jan 15, 2017, 8:53pm (UTC -6)
No. Just no. The basics of computing do not change with time. You still deal with binary information that is interpreted however the programmer decided. Again, I am telling you as a programmer that you are wrong. There is no way that alien systems can be made to work together. Zero chance. You can argue with that all you want - you are still wrong. You can argue with a plumber that a pipe with a huge hole in it can still be an effective conveyor of water - and you'll still be wrong.

The more you know about computing, the more ridiculous this episode is.
DLPB
Sun, Jan 15, 2017, 9:01pm (UTC -6)
What you are suggesting is "magic wand" technology. Life doesn't work like this. And "In the future, computers have a magic ability" (which is exactly what you are saying; you just don't realize it) isn't an argument. It's desperate straw clutching.

If the most simple earth systems cannot be made compatible - even from one OS to another on the same CPU, why on Titan do you think future more complicated technologies from alien systems can be made to interact? Do you think the Cardassians got round the table smoking a cigar with Earthlings swapping notes on how to make all their tech universal across all hardware? Because even that wouldn't be enough.

The universal translator is also a completely impossible device. 100% impossible. We KNOW that. When Trek (and most) writers want to be lazy, they simply wave a magic wand. Sometimes they are simpy naive to how absurd the idea they are peddling is. There is no other explanation.
Chrome
Sun, Jan 15, 2017, 9:20pm (UTC -6)
@DLPB

Yes, yes, and in the Star Trek world we should be entrenched in WW3 by now. It's a fictional universe with fictional rules. That's the show. We get it.
Peremensoe
Mon, Jan 16, 2017, 1:19am (UTC -6)
I'm not talking about magic, at all. I'm talking about the progressive, innovative potential of the future, something Star Trek fans generally look to with bold aspiration.

In the very short history of computing to date, people have already explored a variety of approaches to analog, non-binary, and non-deterministic processes, and the most interesting neural-net ideas going forward (some now running in simple, simulated forms) are in these realms. And that's just what *this coming* century might yield, never mind the next few after that.

It is just painfully parochial to think that the conventions of our current mass-market machines will define the most advanced systems in perpetuity. It's like... confidently stating, perhaps around the 1890s, that the basics of aviation do not change with time, you still deal with lighter-than-air gases...
Peter G.
Mon, Jan 16, 2017, 8:21am (UTC -6)
@ DLPB,

"The basics of computing do not change with time. You still deal with binary information that is interpreted however the programmer decided. Again, I am telling you as a programmer that you are wrong. "

Being a programmer, you should recognize that this makes you an authority on computer engineering about as much as driving my car to work makes me an expert on automobile construction. And even computer engineers typically aren't involved in the study of advanced computing methods.

One day maybe you'll look back on your comment here and laugh. Probably not, but let's be optimistic and say you will. Are you aware that you may well see quantum computers within your lifetime? Are you also aware that this is a non-binary computing technology?

Announcing triumphantly what the limits on technology will be like in 300 years must be the very height of folly in a Star Trek review page.
DLPB
Mon, Jan 16, 2017, 11:31pm (UTC -6)
When 3 alien computer systems are interfacing on a space station, pigs will sprout wings and do the air tango.

It ain't happening. It's not even theoretically possible. You'd have better hope trying to do what Tom Paris did and break the light barrier. HAHAHAHAHA!
DLPB
Mon, Jan 16, 2017, 11:34pm (UTC -6)
Chrome, really? Well can you tell your buddy that? He seems to believe that there are no theoretical limits to anything and so all predictions on the future are off.

I am willing to bet my life that alien systems won't interface on a space station (in fact, we won't even meet another alien race ever), and that we won't break the speed of light. Know why? Cause that's impossible.

I also know that in 300 years, carbon lifeforms will still die. And they'll still be susceptible to fire damage. But --- ohhh noooo... I can't possible know this, can I?

lol.
Peter G.
Tue, Jan 17, 2017, 12:19am (UTC -6)
I should have known what I was getting into replying to that. At least mephyve was concise...
Chrome
Tue, Jan 17, 2017, 8:48am (UTC -6)
Some of us recognize that this episode is based on imaginary assumptions, yet still enjoy it. I could imagine the Cardassians being insidious enough to plant a booby trap in their systems that isn't easily recognizable to Non-Cardassian engineers. It may have happened a little too late in the series, but this one's enjoyable enough that I can roll with it.

My favorite part was when Dukat appeared in person and flicked the baseball off Sisko's desk. :)
Mertov
Sun, Feb 5, 2017, 6:04pm (UTC -6)
One of my favorite DS9 episodes. I laughed throughout, and unlike Jammer (whose reviews I always enjoy reading), I did not see the A, B, C story distinctions. I saw them as part of the effort to solve the problem with comic relief coming into play. In fact, again unlike Jammer, I thought the Odo-Quark exchanges were the best parts of the episode.

On the other hand, I do agree with the "hero-saving-the-day" criticism.

In any case, thanks Jammer for another insightful review, whether I agree or not.
RandomThoughts
Mon, Feb 6, 2017, 12:59am (UTC -6)
Hello Everyone

I think I'll just stick to Dukat for now.

I thought the reason he spoke very specifically and distinctly was because he was not just Arrogant Dukat, he was Imperious Dukat, believing he had the upper hand. He was in control again, and there wasn't anything anyone could do about it. So he strutted and pontificated, delighted that this Cardassian program was giving them so much trouble, rubbing it in their faces by getting a drink, then letting the weapon re-appear. Yep, he was pretty pleased with himself.

Then it all blew up in his face. :)

They way it was acted worked for me, and I find it a very enjoyable episode. Thumbs up.

RT
Odo
Sun, Mar 12, 2017, 4:10am (UTC -6)
@DLPB

You really are an arrogant and obnoxious bellend.
Linda
Sun, Mar 12, 2017, 3:07pm (UTC -6)
DLPB: "I am willing to bet my life that alien systems won't interface on a space station (in fact, we won't even meet another alien race ever), and that we won't break the speed of light. Know why? Cause that's impossible."

Am I the only one who thinks it odd that DLPB has this viewpoint and 19 pages of comments on a Star Trek website?

What’s even more odd, I don’t know that I disagree with DLPB. Perhaps there aren’t any space aliens. And for all the technology that Star Trek seems to have foreseen and predicted, I still wonder about some of the stuff that they routinely do: ie: the transporter—is it really possible to dismantle and then reassemble elsewhere a living being? And faithfully recreate the physical, mental and spiritual essence of that individual?

Isn’t it ridiculous how many times the ST writers have whatever crew stumble upon unknown alien technology and almost immediately master the system, without ever having to input a password or know the native language?

Technobabble can be overdone, yes, but it isn’t interesting and worthwhile and fun to consider and brainstorm and expand our mind with all kinds of possibilities?
Robert
Mon, Mar 13, 2017, 10:26am (UTC -6)
I think it depends on what DLPB means by "we". "We" humans here on Earth now will never meet aliens more likely than not. But if we survive long enough to leave this planet the idea that our species will NEVER meet aliens is kind of crazy to me. We can't possibly be that unique given the size of the universe.
DLPB
Mon, Mar 13, 2017, 7:00pm (UTC -6)
I am willing to bet that there ARE aliens comparable or greater in intelligence than us somewhere in the universe (although, that is by no means certain), but we, as a species, will never see one, as it is nearly impossible. In fact, I said impossible before, because it basically is. Breaking light speed in the manner Trek does is totally impossible. Not even in question, really. It will never happen for a variety of reasons— Mathematical and practical.

===============
@DLPB

You really are an arrogant and obnoxious bellend.
=========

I have a feeling you weren't going for irony with that post, so I have to assume you are as thick as shit :P
DLPB
Mon, Mar 13, 2017, 7:11pm (UTC -6)
NASA and other organizations like you to keep ponying up the dough. They know very well that the distances involved and the logistics of us ever getting far enough into space are not realistic. We can barely even reach the bottom of our own ocean. Sci-fi is fun - but, it's just that: fiction.

There is nothing obnoxious or ignorant in pointing out that inertia dampers are impossible - that warp travel is virtually impossible - that time dilation is real - that oxygen supply, food supply, fuel, life expectancy, and other problems are real. These problems are basically dooming us to an eternity in this solar system. It doesn't matter whether you agree with me or not - Those are the facts. Even communicating with another intelligent race is ridiculously limited due to the light-speed barrier.

I know people are going to argue over this for a long time, but assuming that humans are still around in 1000 years, I have a feeling that their optimism will be far lower than it is today.
Startrekwatcher
Sun, Jul 30, 2017, 10:10pm (UTC -6)
3 stars. Very entertaining episode with genuine tension and well crafted situations of jeopardy

The jake, Ben and obeien team up was great

I liked seeing more of the station with the ore processing sets. It also makes a great deal of sense Dukat would create such a program and not let the Federation know of it. And the sequence of reactions by the program made a great deal of sense from initially giving the rebels an opportunity to surrender then when they don't to release the poison gas then when insurrection spreads beyond oee processing Ops being secured then when the cardassians lose control of the station activating a self destruct sequence. And Dukat's superiors adding to Dukat's program further to keep him onboard Terok Nor

Liked Garak in the mix whether using his Cardassisn codes to move about the ship or trying to forge Dukat's codes or calling Dukat out when Dukat was trying to impress Kira

I liked Dukat showing up and thinking he was in a position of power only to have the worm turn and finding himself trapped on the station and in the same. Boat as everybody else

The Odo quark interaction were good and just the sort of things you'd expect each character would bring up and react the way they did
Kingjay
Wed, Oct 25, 2017, 4:39pm (UTC -6)
Such long comments on this episode and even positive ones. Unbelievable. It stinks. Zero stars. Only watched it because I am watching all of the episodes but this episode should have been self-destructed. Sucked from the first second and a pure waste of time.

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