Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"The Search, Part I"


Air date: 9/26/1994
Teleplay by Ronald D. Moore
Story by Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by Kim Friedman

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Ever since we've come into the Gamma Quadrant I've had this feeling of being drawn somewhere — pulled by some instinct to a specific place..." — Odo

Deep Space Nine kicks off its third season with a sensational cliffhanger installment. Possibly a turning point for the series, "The Search" brings about some notable changes to the show and may be as significant to DS9 as "The Best of Both Worlds" was to TNG. In any case, it's the best Trek cliffhanger, season ender or not, since the aforementioned two-part Borg outing.

A continuation of "The Jem'Hadar," this one takes place three months after the Dominion's introduction into the Trek encyclopedia of villains. Sisko returns from debriefing on Earth with a new mission and a secret weapon.

The mission: To search for the Founders of the Dominion and open diplomatic talks in hopes of working out a compromise for peace. The weapon: A small, stealth-like Federation warship appropriately named the USS Defiant. Originally designed to fight the Borg, the prototype Defiant is small and maneuverable, and the Romulans have even equipped it with a cloaking device for the mission. (Trivial aside: The Defiant bears the registry NX-74205.)

It's definitely one of the most gripping hours of DS9 to fall into the adventure category so far (packed full with action and suspense elements) yet remains true to emphasizing the characters with some meaty dialogue and interaction.

The titular search is set against the subplot of Odo coping with Starfleet Command's decision to replace him as DS9 security chief involving Starfleet affairs. Apparently, they've had enough of his disrespect for the chain of command. Consequently, Odo's mood becomes atypically angry and on-edge, demonstrated by his scene with Quark that doesn't end with the usual laugh but rather an unsettling display of Odo's fury. Furthermore, he takes on a bizarre interest in a mysterious nebula while in the Gamma Quadrant.

Meanwhile, Kira's energy makes for a great scene where she confronts Sisko regarding Starfleet's unjust decision. "Can I speak freely?" she asks. "What the hell is wrong with Starfleet? How can they do this to him?" There's also a good Kira/Odo scene where she tries to find out why he's acting so strangely, further stressing the trusting bond shared by these two characters.

The addition of T'Rul (Martha Hackett) as a Romulan consultant for the Defiant's cloaking device gives the episode a fresh feeling of diversity, while Starfleet security chief Eddington (Kenneth Marshall) will definitely be the source of future conflict for Odo, provided he remains aboard as a regular guest star.

"Search I" appears to be aiming for large audience pleasing, displayed by its emphasis on danger and adventure settings. Most of the story takes place in the Gamma Quadrant on board the Defiant, something Executive Producers Berman and Piller have stated in interviews is part of their season three campaign to draw in larger audiences.

The technical aspects are absolutely top-notch. The episode culminates with a tremendous battle (on the "exploding set" level, it's one of the series' best yet) in which Jem'Hadar ships attack the Defiant and then board it, getting into some mega-fisticuffs with the DS9 crew. Here, Jay Chattaway's musical score displays some atypically exciting energy. His score also adds suspense and provides a fascinating cinematic feel to an earlier scene where the Jem'Hadar look for the cloaked, dead-playing Defiant. Why in the world don't we get music like this more often?

Lastly, "Search I" ends with a tantalizing cliffhanger and a major character development, where Odo and Kira escape the Defiant (whose fate, along with Sisko and the others, remains a mystery until part two) and land on a mysterious planet inhabited by morphing liquid creatures that resemble Odo. One walks up to him and says, "Welcome home." Admittedly, that's where this episode shocked me. As I mentioned in my review of last season's "The Alternate," I thought the DS9 writers would refuse to commit backstory about Odo's origin, just as the TNG writers would never give Data emotions. Well, they proved me wrong. Season three for DS9 may be an explorative season of taking risks...

Previous episode: The Jem'Hadar
Next episode: The Search, Part II

Season Index

19 comments on this review

Chris - Mon, Dec 24, 2007 - 7:05am (USA Central)
The Search Part 1 contains one of my favourite battle scenes from any Trek series. The fight on the bridge is really intense and visceral. On a broader note, I do find it amusing that Starfleet Academy seemingly trains every officer to use a double-axe handle in self-defence.

It became even more hilarious when other aliens started doing it too, such as Garak taking out the Romulan guard in "The Die is Cast". It's refreshing to see Sisko in this episode just belt someone in the face. It's his ship and he isn't going down without a fight.
Connor - Fri, Aug 7, 2009 - 10:30am (USA Central)
I have to agree, that brawl on the bridge was awesome.
Nic - Sun, Oct 25, 2009 - 9:15pm (USA Central)
Strange, I just watched the episode and the end fight scene I find really disappointing. It's so dark and the camera keeps shaking you can hardly see what is going on (I have seen it three times and still haven't noticed the double-axe). The only cool part was that it goes black, and when it fades back in Kira is still in the same position.
Will - Thu, Feb 25, 2010 - 8:54am (USA Central)
I think this episode is one of DS9's best, if not it's best. It may not measure up to shows like In the Pale Moonlight, but this is where the series really came of age and ventured into whole new territory, and they actually got a proper ship instead of a few runabouts. The second part was a bit of a letdown, but this is also a big episode for Odo when he discovers his people. A real turning point for the series.
Nick M - Mon, Dec 13, 2010 - 9:40am (USA Central)
I am rewatching DS9 from first credit to last, first time I have watched it in five years. I forgot how early the Romulans were assisting the Federation, and it really liked that. I also liked the Romulans fighting side-by-side on the bridge with the Federation.

It is amazing to look at S1 and S2 of TNG, and then look at S1 and S2 of DS9 and see how much more compelling and better written the DS9 seasons were, and how much more character growth there was in DS9.

I know many Trek fans felt DS9 too dark, but that darkness allowed way more detailed storytelling and development than the alien of the week storytelling.

DS9 will always be my favorite Trek, and Andrew Robinson and Mark Alaimo really stole so many scenes. But am I the only one who, even though I love Sisko as a character, thought Brooks was just too wooden at times? (Except his scenes with Jake. Sisko was one of the best parents on any TV show, and I love that Brooks was adamant about that relationship.)
Nic - Mon, Jan 10, 2011 - 9:02am (USA Central)
Aside from a few deeply emotional moments, Sisko was pretty wooden during the first few seasons, but I think that was part of his character and Brooks played it very well. Season 3 is when Sisko's character really takes off, though I'm still occasionally put of by his somtimes inappropriate over-acting ("Rules of Engagement" comes to mind).
Van Patten - Tue, May 31, 2011 - 6:29pm (USA Central)
Agree with the review bar the grading - for me this was 3 stars, even taking into account Part 2. One of the highlights was the Kira/Sisko interaction at the start, as well as the Kira/Odo scenes (which would be one of the lone bright spots of Part 2) - the revelation of the changelings and the line 'welcome home' were genuinely surprising when watching this for the first time.

I'd have to echo the comments of chris and Connor, what really elevated this above the relatively pedestrian was the battle scene whereby the crew get boarded and grapple with the seemingly unstoppable Jem'Hadar - excellent scenes and a significant departure from what had preceded this on , for example, 'the Maquis' or 'Armageddon Game'. However, it still feels realtively slow-paced and given some of the 3.5 star ratings given to some subsequent episodes, I'd say 3 abouts covers it. I know you're now a married man (as am I) but any chance you could at some point in the next decade revisit these episodes with some small updates. Without wishing to sound absurdly fawning, being unable to watch the episodes until I purchased the VHS in the UK, often several months after their original airdates, your reviews were a true lifesaver back in the mid nineties. Glad to see you're still doing them.
Kotas - Tue, Oct 22, 2013 - 6:30pm (USA Central)

This episode picks up running where season 2 left off. Strong episode.
kmfrob - Wed, Dec 4, 2013 - 3:56am (USA Central)
This was definitely my favourite episode of DS9 so far. I don't know if it's maybe that I just enjoy these action-centric episodes more, but for met his episode was really intense and I enjoyed it a lot.

Honestly I don't think the writing in any of the Star Treks is sufficient enough for it to be able to stand alone as a drama, so for me these kind of episodes are necessary.

On another note, I really like Quark and the Ferengi. I think Quark has become my favourite character on the show thus far. I especially liekd his speech in the previous episode about humans not liking them because they reminded us of what we once were, albeit worse! I found it actually quite poignant.
Jack - Thu, Jan 30, 2014 - 4:30pm (USA Central)
They declare the Founder homeworld to be a rogue planet, but then when they panned to Odo and Kira walking on the surface, there was a pretty bright, purplish star in the sky.
NCC-1701-Z - Mon, Apr 7, 2014 - 2:09pm (USA Central)
So let me get this straight - DS9 is able to detect the Defiant in the opening scene before it decloaks and no one thinks to fix whatever made her detectable? My first thought was "If DS9 was able to detect her relatively easily, then so can the Dominion" - spoiled what was otherwise a good scene. And on her first mission, the Defiant is boarded and captured? That's a fail in my book. So much for giving the Dominion a little surprise.

Still a good episode. 3/4
Yanks - Thu, Jul 10, 2014 - 8:48am (USA Central)
This episode has awesomeness written all over it.

Sisko arrives with the Defiant (DS9 now has a real ship!!), we're going looking for the founders, we get some Martha Hackett (love her), the Odo/Kira bond grows stronger, etc...

We are also introduced to the Founders' leader played beautifully by Salome Jens.

Great continuation from last seasons’ closer and a great start to season 3.

The Jem'Hadar prove again they aren't to be taken lightly. The boarding on the Defiant was awesome but I'll agree with posters above that it wasn't lit well enough and the shaky cam stuff made me think of ST09.

It also is telling just how strong this attraction to the nebula is in Odo. He could have cared less about the attack on the Defiant. Wow, that was alarming!

I loved this exchange and Rene' once again delivers a wonderful performance.

"KIRA: Where are we?
ODO: Approaching the Omarion Nebula.
KIRA: You should have taken us back to the wormhole.
ODO: You didn't object at the time."

lol... did anyone else notice that Kira just gets hotter each season and Jadzia seems to have more and more hair? :-)

This is probably the 5th or 6th time I've seen this episode and it's still exciting.

Easy 4 star episode for me.
Jack - Thu, Oct 30, 2014 - 3:04pm (USA Central)
I may have missed something, but is Eddington's debut "real" or part of the fantasy?
MsV - Mon, Feb 16, 2015 - 8:33pm (USA Central)
I had a hard time with Odo in this story. I know he was having trouble with having to share his security details with Eddington, but throwing a fit and quitting is ridiculous. Most of the problem Starfleet had with Odo, Odo brought on himself.

He boards the ship as a passenger and starts acting real strange. Even Kira told him this was not the time to go on a quest. Then instead of a least checking to see if he could help the others, he puts Kira on a shuttle and leaves with her.

He did redeem himself in the end.
methane - Thu, Jul 23, 2015 - 10:33pm (USA Central)
A strong opener.

spoiler for the next episode (if you're watching DS9 for the first time):

I'm replying to a 9-month old comment, but Jack, everything in this episode is "real". This episode ends with everyone but Odo & Kira captured. So the Dominion takes them and hooks them up to the machine in time for the next episode.
William B - Wed, Aug 26, 2015 - 1:34pm (USA Central)
Here we start season three. This is Ron Moore's first script and the first appearance of the Defiant, and of course it ends with the first we see of Odo's people (Salome Jens). The grand scheme changes to the show's focus is, as Jammer said in his review, a somewhat more action/adventure-oriented story, with more battles and explosions. The idea here of tracking down the Founders seems reasonable-ish, though I do somewhat wish that they could discuss more openly whether this is actually a good idea, given that the Founders certainly want to be kept a secret based on their behaviour. Is there any other way that the Federation, Romulans et al. could try to negotiate with the Dominion? Anyway, the biggest indicator of the new stakes are the way Sisko does acceede to T'Rul's
William B - Wed, Aug 26, 2015 - 1:34pm (USA Central)
That wasn't supposed to post. Odd. OK, continuing...
William B - Wed, Aug 26, 2015 - 2:08pm (USA Central)
...T'Rul's point that they must leave Dax and O'Brien behind -- which for me is more shocking than the Defiant being attacked and boarded, for one thing because the Defiant was *just introduced* and so we have little idea of what it being taken over means. A good way to demonstrate that the Dominion really is the priority here.

Is sending a ship that is so overpowered it almost is tearing itself apart the best way to communicate to the Dominion that they have peaceful intentions, though? I get that they want to communicate two things -- "we are peaceful, but don't mess with us," though.

The two big character threads in this episode are Sisko's and Odo's. For Sisko, we are told a few times (by Dax and by Jake, as well as by Sisko himself) that the Dominion situation and Sisko's visit to Starfleet Headquarters have made him come to realize how passionate he has become about protecting Bajor and how much he now values DS9 as his home. As a development overall, this makes sense, and the symbolic actions of 1) unpacking his Earth-storage stuff and 2) preferring to be out in the field rather than back at HQ do seem to be meaningful; but rather than let us discover how this all affects Sisko, we have Jake and Dax spell it out for us, in rather a lot of words.

For Odo, the episode's two main elements are his anger at Eddington being brought onto the station and his being drawn to his people. Odo's interpreting Eddington's appointment as being a racial thing (don't trust the shapeshifter!) is part of the setup for his obsession about the nebula where he eventually finds his people. I should say here that while Odo being annoyed at having an officer posted to head up Starfleet security is logical, his reaction is way overblown, particularly since they already went through this in this show with the Odo/Primmin thing in season one (which was quickly dropped). There and here, I think Odo's prickly, angry reaction to any threat to his position and authority is partly the result of his insecurity, and here his assuming that it's a racial decision seems to indicate that Odo still has very little trust that anyone sees him as anything other than The Shapeshifter. Sisko's not wrong in telling Kira that Odo brings this type of thing on himself, though, since Odo's regular attempts to distance himself from humanoids and his continual desire to skirt basic freedoms in the pursuit of justice do just as much to alienate him from others as humanoids' isolation of him. Still, while Odo's fit in this episode has some precedent, it does seem overblown and inconsistent with Odo's ability to -- after a bit of reassurance from Sisko -- take the Primmin thing in stride, to say nothing of his bizarre outburst of threatening Quark. I'm not sure why Odo's reaction in this episode is as extreme as it is, beyond that it's necessary to re-emphasize how little Odo feels he fits in in order to bring us to the end revelations.

On the other hand, Odo's feeling the pull to the Nebula, to the point where he abandons the Defiant to its possible destruction, fits in with his character, and what the series generally presents -- which is that Odo's instinctual pull toward his own people is stronger than most of the ties that he forms in his everyday life. Odo rescuing Kira but dragging her along to the trip is a lovely encapsulation of their dynamic, with Kira as both Odo's greatest champion and as his sometimes reluctant tether to the humanoid world; Odo brings her along unconscious because he cares so about her, even though he leaves the rest of the Defiant to be destroyed, but his instinctual pull is strong enough that he *only* thinks about Kira enough to save her and (selfishly?) keeping her with him. Odo's insistence that Starfleet doesn't trust the shapeshifter maybe is for good reason; Odo may recognize on some level, even if he doesn't want to admit it, that his loyalties to the humanoids he lives with is somewhat provisional on his having none of his own people.

Given that I thought Quark's complaints in The Jem'Hadar were a little much given that he wasn't that badly treated there by Sisko, it's worth noting that he is treated *horribly* in this episode by Sisko and Odo. Odo at least we are meant to see is unstable. But what is up with that Sisko scene where he brings in the Nagus' sceptre? Even if we presume that Sisko is in the right to make appeals to Quark the private citizen's head of state for him to risk his life, Sisko making Quark kiss the Nagus' sceptre while Sisko holds it and has a maniacal gleam in his eye makes him seem like a psychopathic supervillain. I don't know what they were thinking. The later scene of Sisko and Quark wishing each other luck is nicely done, for what it's worth.

So the character work is mixed, and it's hard to evaluate the plot halfway through (and spoilers, the plot in part 2 is not great), so I'd say a high 2.5 stars.
William B - Fri, Aug 28, 2015 - 9:38am (USA Central)
Also, while it seems plausible that Sisko would feel much more for Bajor than he did a while back, it is a development that has mostly occurred offscreen over the past year -- since The Siege, Sisko has either had minor functionary roles in episodes that involved Bajoran issues (Cardassians mostly, Sanctuary) or has stayed out altogether (The Collaborator -- except for Winn's appeal, which would hardly endear him to the planet). It's a development that's largely occurred off screen over s2, despite it being an important one.

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