Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"One Little Ship"


Air date: 2/16/1998
Written by David Weddle & Bradley Thompson
Directed by Allan Kroeker

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"I don't feel any smaller." — O'Brien

Nutshell: Totally absurd, but very amusing ... and surprisingly engaging.

"One Little Ship"—also known as "Honey, I Shrunk the Runabout"—is probably the most absurd episode of DS9 you'll see this season, maybe ever. This lightweight, zippy outing feels like a show that belongs in Voyager's fourth season. It's fairly inconsequential but well made. Just when you think it seems likely to spin out of control into an utterly laughable disaster (that is, from the point of seeing the trailers the week before), this show becomes strangely infectious and entertaining.

This is what they call "high concept." Or a better term might be "low concept." How an episode sold on the unfathomably ridiculous idea of "a Runabout is shrunk to about five inches long" can survive a writers staff meeting at DS9 is beyond me, but somehow it did. And how it is this idea actually works also eludes me—but somehow it does.

The question wasn't whether this plot would prove ludicrous, the question was whether it would be workable in a 1990s sci-fi realm. It strikes me as one of the goofiest things in recent memory. The premise seems more like it belongs in the 1950s, and the presentation seems more akin to the cinematic attitudes of Xena: Warrior Princess. But the funny thing is it works for most of the same reasons Xena does: it takes itself just seriously enough to be engaging, yet constantly keeps its tongue lodged firmly in cheek where it belongs.

Do you even want to know more about the plot? What more needs to be said? Well, I'll try anyway. You see, the Defiant and the Runabout Rubicon—with Dax, O'Brien, and Bashir on board—are trying this new scientific experiment involving some bizarre gravitational whatcha-ma-whozit. As the Runabout goes near the anomaly, it shrinks smaller and smaller. The plan is that the Defiant will tractor it back away from the anomaly after the experiment is over, returning the Runabout to its normal size. Well, things of course don't go as planned. The Defiant is attacked by the Jem'Hadar, who board the Defiant and take the crew prisoner before the episode's teaser is even over. The tractor beam connection is lost and the Runabout flies out of control through the anomaly. Since it doesn't exit the anomaly the same way it entered, it doesn't return to its normal size.

The rest of the episode is about how the Rubicon gets inside the Defiant and becomes instrumental in retaking the ship, unbeknownst to everybody on the Defiant for a very long stretch of the plot. With the Defiant's warp drive damaged, Sisko has time to devise a plan to retake the ship or, if all else fails, rig an auto-destruct so that it doesn't fall into Dominion hands. But since the Jem'Hadar have barred all the key officers from the bridge—forcing them instead to repair the engines—the problem is that Sisko has no command access. So he, Worf, Kira, and Nog must try to gain access to the computer while pretending to repair the battle damage, all unbeknownst to the Jem'Hadar soldiers watching over them.

This is where the mini-Runabout comes into play. Since Sisko & Co. are locked down, this leaves it to Dax & Co. in the Runabout to get to the bridge and disable the security lockout to the computer system.

A lot of "One Little Ship" is sold on its special effects. This episode is a visual delight. Watching the Rubicon fly around like a toy ship is great fun. I don't know exactly why, but it is. It's neat. And funny. And strangely infectious. The dash through the plasma conduit was an engaging mix of convincing visuals and understated suspense. The Runabout spying on the engine room was amusing as it peeked mischievously from behind objects. And the Runabout's dash to the bridge was droll, especially when the ship pushes a button on a control panel to open a door to the bridge.

One set piece involves Bashir and O'Brien beaming onto a circuit relay to manually override the commands Sisko needs disabled. Seeing the two officers standing in the middle of a huge mass of cables and computer chips was a fresh spin on the established idea of O'Brien Fixing Something [TM]. Meanwhile, Bashir and O'Brien's subtle banter was amiable as always.

Despite the fluffy aspects of the episode, not everything in "One Little Ship" is inconsequential. For example, I did find the uneasy cracks in loyalty between the "Alpha" and "Gamma" Jem'Hadar soldiers quite interesting, if maybe a little forced and overstated. The new "Alpha" Jem'Hadar (referred to as such because they were engineered and born in the Alpha Quadrant to replace the mass numbers wiped out in "Sacrifice of Angels") seem a little less hard-core in their loyalties to the Dominion, and seemingly less controllable. Their loyalty seems to be to other "Alphas" first and to the Dominion second. And they don't really have much respect for the "Gammas."

This is an idea that could have some possibilities down the road. As evidenced here, the friction between Second Ixtana'Rax (Fritz Sperberg), a Gamma, and First Kudak'Etan (Scott Thompson Baker), an Alpha who was recently promoted over Ixtana'Rax as the squadron commander, ultimately serves to undermine the Jem'Hadar effort to seize the Defiant. This seems indicative of a larger problem that the Dominion may have on their hands, and I get a strong feeling that we'll be seeing this again. (But then again, I also had a strong feeling that the cracks in Dukat and Weyoun's alliance would play out in some manner, which it ultimately didn't.)

The pivotal action turning point rides on the fact that the Jem'Hadar soldiers are worse shots than the average storm trooper—and hopelessly unobservant as well. I must admit that these Jem'Hadar are a major step down after the riveting performances in "Rocks and Shoals," but that's okay, because they serve their purpose. This episode is a comic book outing, after all, and even though the villains came off as rather bungling in the action finale, I did think that Our Heroes still came off looking surprisingly good. I'd also say the stunt coordination in the final fight was above average for Trek, and introducing a five-inch Runabout with tiny photon torpedoes into the fight was a good move, though hammy as hell. Allan Kroeker's direction made some good camera choices in this final showdown, as well as throughout the episode.

But ultimately, this show lives on its own carefully chosen tone. Through all the convincing special effects, bright ideas, and goal-oriented action, the truth of the matter is inescapable: This is absurd, even for Trek. Weddle & Thompson's screenplay knows that, and knows just when to insert a joke and when to avert seriousness. Such moments as the Bashir/O'Brien discussion on being "this tall" and Sisko announcing to Worf "Your wife is here" make all the difference, and the performances shine through the silliness to make it work better than one might have dreamed possible. Add this to a closing that features Worf reciting part of a poem (?) and then smiling (!) and Odo playing a cruel joke, and you've got a show that inspires to be an amiable and slight action comedy—and succeeds.

I was laughing quite a bit through this show. But I wasn't laughing because the show was laughable (although I admit that the premise certainly was). I was laughing because I was having fun. That's what this episode is: good fun. With "Far Beyond the Stars" last week, DS9 showed the serious, important side of Trek that makes us question ourselves. "One Little Ship" is the type of goofy entertainment that exemplifies Trek's other side.

Next week: O'Brien becomes a thief.

Previous episode: Far Beyond the Stars
Next episode: Honor Among Thieves

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48 comments on this review

Jim S
Sun, Oct 21, 2007, 6:53pm (UTC -5)
Cant agree more with Jammer. This episode was pure fun. In fact all the last episodes are really enjoyable, each for a different reason. Quality after six seasons is not something everybody can manage. DS 9 stands up to its fame as the best Trek series
Tue, Nov 4, 2008, 3:57pm (UTC -5)
Sorry, but this episode didnt`t work for me at all - seeing the tiny Runabout flying through all these rooms made me cringe.
Jakob M. Mokoru
Sun, Feb 8, 2009, 1:50am (UTC -5)
I really enjoyed this episode! It was pure fun and showed also very, very good visual effects!

Tue, Mar 24, 2009, 9:39pm (UTC -5)
Trek is not serious sci-fi and never has been. It should recognize that and stop shoving technobabble down our throats to compensate for its complete lack of plausibility. This episode does just that, focusing on entertainment through an absurd premise, and just like the Magnificent Ferengi, it succeeds. You need real emotional drama and depth of characters to sustain a series, but episodes like this are a really good way to break up the tension.
Fri, Aug 28, 2009, 9:31am (UTC -5)
Man, this one rubbed me wrong. I just couldn't get behind this particular level of absurdity - it's like the DS9 version of Threshold.
Sun, Sep 6, 2009, 3:38pm (UTC -5)
So the surviving Jem'Hadar were taken prisoner at a Federation POW camp. Do they stock ketracel white there?
Aldo Johnson
Tue, Nov 24, 2009, 8:40am (UTC -5)
What would've made it better is if none of the Jem'Hadar dies. Also, when they are shot, or phasered, or proton torpedoed, they would fall while clutching their shoulders.
Mon, Jun 21, 2010, 9:51pm (UTC -5)
This is one of the few episodes I saw when it originally aired (in fact at that point it may have been the only episode I had seen from beginning to end), and to be honest I was not at all impressed. It's certainly not a bad episode, but it's not a good episode to be 'introduced' to Trek because it was really goofy and a little behind its time. There's nothing wrong with that, once or twice a season, but I'm glad my first impressions of the series turned out to be wrong.
Wed, Mar 2, 2011, 11:54pm (UTC -5)
Let me get this straight. You give this episode(a very entertaining one) 3 stars, but you wouldn't give the Magnificent Ferengi ep the same.(???)

"I was laughing quite a bit through this show. But I wasn't laughing because the show was laughable (although I admit that the premise certainly was). I was laughing because I was having fun. That's what this episode is: good fun."

"One Little Ship" is the type of goofy entertainment that exemplifies Trek's other side."

These statements can be used to describe both this episode and the past 2 Quark focused episodes yet you rate them differently. I always thought you showed bias against the Ferengi focused eps. And now I see I was right.
Thu, Apr 19, 2012, 1:57am (UTC -5)
By this point in the series I think DS9 had already done one too many goofball episodes. I mean we've already had "Who Mourns For Morn," and "The Magnificent Ferengi," representing the Silly Party; "You Are Cordially Invited," "Statistical Probabilities," and "Resurrection" weighing in from the Slightly Silly Party; and now we get "One Little Ship," which in my mind represents the Very Silly Party. Need I remind my fellow rewatchers that "Profit And Lace" isn't far behind this one?

OK, so "One Little Ship" was mildly entertaining, I'll admit, but I just think that DS9 fell too much in love with its silly side in season six especially. And this episode was shamelessly contrived. "Honey, I Shrunk The Runabout" indeed. Why? So we could see tiny torpedoes and actual model sized model ships flying about?

"Yes," you say?

OK, fine, but to quote the mustachioed Federation President from ST:VI - "Just because we can do a thing does not mean that we must do that thing."
Sat, May 19, 2012, 9:07am (UTC -5)
A fun and light-hearted episode I can watch over and over again. It's not as brilliant as Trials and Tribble-ations or as funny as Looking for Par'Mach ... but it's worth of 3.5 stars in my opinion.
Thu, Jun 21, 2012, 10:22am (UTC -5)
People who are angry at reviewers for being biased against Ferengi are hilarious. I can live with that kind of bias; it's like being biased against bad jokes and slapstick comedy. It's the kind of discrimination otherwise known as 'having good taste'.
Thu, Jul 12, 2012, 11:21pm (UTC -5)
Absurd, and silly...but...
...they should have explored the "Alpha vs Gamma," Jem'Hadar conflict again...but...
...Alpha vs Gamma? Why do ALL the aliens in the show use Hewmon terms?
Specifically Greek Hewmon terms?
Jeffrey Jakucyk
Sat, Jul 21, 2012, 4:39pm (UTC -5)
Am I the only one who noticed some striking similarities in the music score to TNG's episode "Booby Trap"? There's something about it that actually seems quite appropriate too.
Mon, Aug 6, 2012, 11:35am (UTC -5)
I found this episode really unappealing. The tiny ship storyline was essentially stolen from Innerspace, a late-80s movie. (Which, incidentally, features music from Jerry Goldsmith and shows Robert Picardo in a supporting role.) That was a cute and silly little movie, where one could suspend their disbelief. This is Star Trek. There are just WAY too many physics and biology issues here for a hardcore sci-fi audience to ignore. It's insulting.

And the Alpha vs. Gamma conflict just pops up suddenly, seems to be based on absolutely nothing (unless the Alphas were bred to specifically be superior assholes) and is just unnecessary. I mean, are the Vortas and Founders really just trying to sabotage their own fighting force? Are they that stupid?

This episode just pisses me off. Jammer's suggestion that it belongs in Voyager's 4th season is right on the money. And that's no compliment.
Sat, Sep 8, 2012, 9:38am (UTC -5)
I watched this with my 10 year old daughter and we laughed and joked the entire time. It was all in fun and should not have been taken so seriously by some. I suggest watching it again with a lighter heart and laugh away!

Things my daughter and I said:
"Where is the remote control?"
"Tiny ship!"
"I want one!"
"Look at it go!"
"Swat it!"

Even the end was hilarious where Odo showed his sense of humor with Bashir and O'Brien.
Sun, Nov 18, 2012, 7:05pm (UTC -5)
Well, another episode where one of the potential dilemmas, this time the crew having to stay shrunken, can just as easily be solved by using their most recent pattern from the transporter to restore them, had the technobabble solution not worked.
Wed, Nov 28, 2012, 4:10am (UTC -5)
I agree with Phil, at least the Magnificent Ferengi tapped into comedy without looking back and, the "clins d'oeil" to old westerns were really good. Now this one is halfway between serious issues that should have had bigger depth and some goofy moments.

Some say DS9 pay attention to details. When the Defiant is attacked, Sisko sits cross-legged. There's an explosion, 2 crewmen go down and the captain is still sitting casually cross-legged on his chair. Second explosion, Kira goes down and hop, it gets Sisko's attention, he runs to Kira without a glance to the others... What does that say about Sisko ? ;-)
Mon, Dec 31, 2012, 1:47pm (UTC -5)
This was just good ol' sci-fi fun. The tag team of Odo and Quark on the joke at the end was worth the whole thing.

And it was perfect fun coming on the heels of "Far Beyond the Stars."

And I also liked the Gamma vs. Alpha soldiers.
Thu, Jan 17, 2013, 3:08am (UTC -5)
This episode sounds terrible on paper, but I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. I never noticed until now that Bashir, O'Brien and Dax have a nice comedic synergy between them, I wish they'd made them a trio more often. And technically, the effects are impressive. You do have to let yourself go along with the ride a little, but the way it's all put together makes that not so difficult.

I'm surprised the whole Alphas v Gammas things never came back (despite Jammer's prediction!), would have been good to see that play out.
Fri, Mar 8, 2013, 4:15pm (UTC -5)
Enjoyed the episode, and I like the idea of a Gamma vs. Alpha conflict, but there was absolutely no subtlety to the execution. They really bashed us over the head with it.
Sun, Aug 4, 2013, 9:27pm (UTC -5)
I'm glad Jammer lightened up on these fluff episodes. I guess once DS9 proved it had some teeth, the occasional silly episode didn't seem so threatening. I always have to remind myself that Jammer wrote these reviews as the series aired in first run whereas many of the people reading and commenting on them now a decade and a half later have seen the series in its entirety before, some of us multiple times.
Wed, Aug 28, 2013, 1:40pm (UTC -5)

Action-adventure comedy - I love it!

I don't think the premise of a shrunken ship and crew is any more far-fetched than much of the other stuff we usually just igbnore to enjoy our 45 minutes of Trek - it certainly didn't bother me!

This episode gave me the same "vibe" that I got from watching old adventure movies from the 60'ies or 70'ies. A thrill and a half, just a good romp.

I do feel, however, that we didn't see the "bigguns" through the windows of the runabout enough. We got a shot of Giant Worf at the very end, and that was more or less it - kind of disappointing.

The only thing that annoyed me as I watched the episode was that the ship was clearly large enough for a normal person to definately notice - yet, it flew around a room full of Jem'Hadar and no one saw it. What where they, drunk?

But nevermind - a fun adventure starring our beloved heroes! This is what sci-fi can ALSO do very well if only we let it.
Sun, Oct 20, 2013, 9:54pm (UTC -5)
In that massive firefight in the last act, it's hard to believe that no one hit the warp core...
Wed, Oct 30, 2013, 10:22pm (UTC -5)

A silly ep with a premise that doesn't quite work.

Thu, Dec 12, 2013, 11:45pm (UTC -5)
I don't know why some people find this episode's premise either absurd or silly, while they love time-trevel or parallel-universe plots.

And I don't mean it only because those other plots are just precisely as fictional for nowadays science as "One little ship"'s plot. I mean it because if time-space distortion, time-space stretch, time-space manipulation, are the basis of many of the fictional stuff we see (and frequently love) in Trek universe, messing with the "space"dimension seems to me as an only natural extension of playing around so often with the "time" dimension.

And the funnier is that this was never on my mind before this episode started. Once I realized what it was going to be about, I was just blown up.
Fri, Dec 13, 2013, 12:22am (UTC -5)
Oh yes, not that the episode didn't have, in fact, its share of awkwardness, its dose of silliness and absurdity. The tiny ship crew realizing so fast the meaning of each movement of the "big" crew, the tiny ship hitting the panel to open a door, the small oxygen bubble, and some other, were in fact embarrassing.

But as Jammer and other people have said, most were just the comedy part (it has to be, it is not possible that anyone in the DS9 production team though of those ideas as serious ones)
Sun, Mar 30, 2014, 7:41am (UTC -5)
Pretty poor effort that misses the mark for its intended fun and novelty factor entirely, predictable and risable script and a very derivative concept.
Wed, May 7, 2014, 11:25pm (UTC -5)
Intriguing premise that made for an entertainingly unique spin on what otherwise would have been a fairly derivative plot. Nothing about it seemed any more far-fetched to me than, say, transporters. Also, the idea of Alpha quadrant bred Jem'Hadar versus Gamma quadrant ones made a lot of sense with what we know of the Dominion. It is unfortunate nothing more was done with it but that is not the fault of this episode.

All in all, good job. Very entertaining episode that is only held back by the 'been-there done-that' nature of the ship takeover scenario itself.

3 stars.
Thu, Jun 26, 2014, 1:08am (UTC -5)
I can't "meh" enough. There's nothing interesting about this. The premise is both cartoonish and overdone, the Jem'Hadar were about as convincing as high schoolers on stage, and nothing about this episode means anything.

Sure, this is a fluff episode, but nothing remotely funny happens. It's sort of like a leftover TNG script that someone tried and failed to make into comedy.
Tue, Aug 19, 2014, 7:13am (UTC -5)
All good fun. Although I'm starting to get concerned about the sheer amount of episodes that aren't forwarding the "story". It seems to me that maybe there isn't enough "story" left?

Why are the 'Alpha's' different from the 'Gamma's'? What possible reason would the Founders alter the appearance of the Jem'Hadar?

I enjoyed the 'butting of heads' between the two though.

2.5 stars for me.

Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 12:41am (UTC -5)
This is a surprisingly *not* terrible episode, even for a wet blanket for me. There's just enough charm to it to keep it amusing and the pacing is pretty well done. None of the situations, wacky though they may be, ever really outstay their welcome. There's a nice sense that the crew is working together and that the runabout squad really is being ingenious (opening doors, sneaking around, beaming people INSIDE computers). I could have done without the poor marksmanship of the Jem'Hadar at the end, buuuuuut it's probably for the benefit of the episode that it doesn't go full-on AR-558.

2-1/2 stars for me. Not essential, but enjoyable for what it is.

Just a comment on season 6 thus far: Someone above stated that the comedy episodes seem to be bunched up a bit. While it's not quite like season 5 having "par'Mach," "Tribbles," and "Let He..." within a four episode stretch, the last eight episodes have alternated between heavy and light. It makes it a little difficult to just hit play and enjoy the flow when the show's tone is jumping from "The Magnificent Ferengi" to "Waltz" to "Who Mourns for Morn?" to "Far Beyond the Stars" to "One Little Ship".
Thu, Nov 13, 2014, 3:57pm (UTC -5)
Oxygen is at an absolute premium in the circuit housing, so let's send two guys in there instead of one!
Thu, Apr 2, 2015, 5:45am (UTC -5)
A gorgeous, cheeky and fun episode.Brooks shows he can act when he wants to, and Siddig is glorious as usual, but how under-utilized he is overall! Microscopic Jadzia grinning and waving before Worf's giant face is an irresistible touch. The Alpha and Gamma Jem'Hadar are reminiscent of Aldous Huxley's genetically engineered social order in his classic novel Brave New World. The "shrinking" premise pays homage to the classic Oscar winning 1966 sci-fi movie Fantastic Voyage. Classic ST here, referencing canon of western English-speaking culture, something ST excels at. A low key, unassuming but brilliant episode with an impeccable sci-fi and cinematic pedigree. 7 stars out of 4.
Tue, Jun 9, 2015, 4:23pm (UTC -5)
I don't know why some people find this episode's premise either absurd or silly, while they love time-trevel or parallel-universe plots.


Because time travel and parallel universes have not been completely shunned by the scientific community and you can suspend your disbelief to them. Micro people, on the other hand is scientifically impossible and absolutely absurd. It's even more absurd watching the crew you have been following in a supposedly serious sci-fi navigating computer systems in a Honey I Shrunk The Crew episode. It fails because it completely removes people from the fiction.
John G
Mon, Jul 20, 2015, 8:18pm (UTC -5)
This was a fun episode. I don't really see how shrinking people down to a centimeter is that much more far fetched than beaming their molecules through space and reassembling them.

As for some of the other complaints.

a) Two tiny men use up twice the tiny oxygen molecules, but they can also work twice as fast. I don't see why Dax couldn't just beam more air to them though.

b) The Jem'Haddar used the Hewman conventions of Alpha and Gamma because of the universal translator convention that exists in all Star Trek and most other sci fi and even in movies that take place in foreign countries.

While Star Trek occasionally mentions the universal translators that allow different species to understand each other, it is also an age old dramatic device that allows us to understand two Klingons, Mexicans or Germans who would really be talking in their native languages. It might not be realistic but it beats constantly reading subtitles.

c) As for episodes that "don't move the story", I think we forget that DS9 had more story than TOS and TNG combined and a more than STV ( aka Gilligan's Island in Space) as well.

I think we can get a little spoiled with the continuous story line of DS9. When I watched it when it originally aired, I enjoyed the way the lighter episodes allowed us to slow down and enjoy the great characters.

Finally, I loved the joke that Odo played on Miles and Julian and how Quark joined in. I also loved how the woman who was so impressed with their story looked at them funny when she realized they might be suffering from "shrinkage".
Tue, Jul 21, 2015, 7:03am (UTC -5)
@John G - Television is in the middle of a large evolution right now, and it's still working out the growing pains. Your comment about how some episodes perhaps should not further the story is a good one.

I'm starting to think that, especially when you look at shows like Heroes that try to have an entire full season of continuous plot, that it's a bad idea. It works for HBO shows because they put out 10 a year. I think it's really questionable as to if a full 20+ season of American TV should try to put out 20+ continuous stories per year without standalone episodes that "allow us to slow down and enjoy the great characters."

I think perhaps by now there are more cautionary tales than not (I'm looking at you Lost).
Sat, Sep 5, 2015, 12:17pm (UTC -5)
This is a totally unique episode of Trek. The scene with O'Brien and Bashir in the "optronic forest" was pure 1960s sci fi brilliance, highly memorable. And with Dax in command of the Runabout, this is one of the rare instances of a female Trek character saving everyone's arses, deftly done with Dax's customary understated, sarcastic and determined flair. I think she might actually be my favourite character, after Bashir of course. Loved this episode, expected it to be crap and there were numerous moments where a Runabout managed to fly around a cramped and crowded engine room without being spotted somehow, but nothing could take the smile off my face for the entire 40+ minutes.
Sat, Nov 28, 2015, 5:46pm (UTC -5)
I didn't have high hopes after seeing the title and the premise, but this one really surprised me. It's a very solid episode of action/comedy with some convincing visual effects and good production values; the giant circuit relay O'Brien and Bashir beamed onto was a great set. It's funny, but the stakes are serious, and fans who watch purely for the ongoing storyline will enjoy the growing tension between Alpha and Gamma Jem'Hadar.

The finale was far more thrilling than I expected, with a very well done fight scene. I enjoyed every minute. I'm with Jammer: 3 stars.
Tom Dietrich
Sun, Jan 24, 2016, 9:58am (UTC -5)
DS9 baffles me sometimes. I'm sitting down for start of the episode and Sisko's captain's log tells me the crew is taking a much welcome break from months of battle duty.

What? The last 5 episodes have been about 1. Kira's love affair with Bareil's mirror double; 2. A group of Ferengis going to rescue Quark's mother; 3. Morn's faked death and Quark trying to profit from it; 4. Worf and Jadzia's wedding and 5. Sisko's adventures in 20th century earth.

If there's been a war going on, then I certainly haven't seen it.
William B
Mon, Jan 25, 2016, 11:26pm (UTC -5)
This episode is okay, but I find myself wishing it went further. Most of the Runabout material is actually just the tiny Runabout flying around parts of the ship interacting with made-up space equipment that we don't know much about, and so we get a long scene of Bashir coaching O'Brien on how to remember where the [tech] is located compared to the [tech] while they struggle with made-up circuit elements while being tiny. I thought entering the plasma vent was cute and the chase away from plasma worked okay, too. Also cute: the Runabout hitting the panel beside the door to the bridge! But mostly, it felt to me like the miniaturized Runabout was a little underutilized, mostly just zipping around, up until the battle with the Jem'Hadar at the end, which has the pretty funny image of the Jem'Hadar being hit with photon torpedoes which, um, I guess don't pack much momentum when small? The crew can't leave the Runabout because, ahem, the oxygen molecules are too big for them! is an amusing notion, but is pretty obviously a rationalization for not trying to have any scenes of the little crew members interacting in some way with the ordinary-sized. (I refuse to believe that "but air would be too big for them to breathe!" is the exact point where Thompson & Weddle et al. decided to worry about plausibility.) And I get, I do, the reluctance to do something so crazy as (say) to have a tiny Dax running along a panel pressing buttons while Bashir fires a tiny phaser rifle from the ground, knocking the Jem'Hadar whenever they try to stand up, and while O'Brien flies the Runabout around their heads to dizzy and confuse them, because it could so easily look as silly as it sounds, but I feel like if one is going to make this as an actual episode one might as well go for broke. I will have to rewatch The Animated Series' "The Terratin Incident," but there's this part in that episode where the crew use grappling hooks to pull down the sliders on the transporter in order to beam themselves down to the planet, and just describing that makes me feel giddier than "One Little Ship" did. But okay, okay, I get it -- they wanted to do the "tiny Runabout" material but in a "restrained" way, and to some extent I think that they managed that delicate balance. Still, and this is a personal preference, but I wished they had just gone all in, if they were going to do this at all.

(This is mostly "Fantastic Voyage," I know, but I also would really, REALLY have loved to see an "Incredible Shrinking Man"-style confrontation between tiny O'Brien and, say, a Cardassian vole who had somehow escaped detection and got onto the Defiant, and was out for revenge....)

Having this mostly dropped into a fairly dry takeover/take-back-the-ship plot made the episode feel a bit wonky. The Alpha/Gamma conflict is a bit of a neat idea but in practice very dull, especially the "" death scene for the Gamma, as well as having the Jem'Hadar appear pretty consistently incompetent (in failing to monitor Sisko et al.'s constant planning, in failing to notice the Runabout whooshing around, etc.). Maybe it's best to interpret the Alpha/Gamma conflict as a joke -- after all, there is something very funny about the Gamma/Alpha conflict being a generational conflict, with an annoyed grandfather grumbling about "kids today" when the new generation is eight episodes old. And, I guess, the point we are meant to gather, in the end, is that the Alpha Jem'Hadar have a tendency to overlook, ahem, the little things.

Definite points for the wave between Jadzia and Worf, and then Worf's poem and Odo and Quark's joke at the end. The episode is sometimes enjoyable but very thin. 2-2.5 stars...probably 2.
Diamond Dave
Thu, Feb 4, 2016, 1:48pm (UTC -5)
DS9 does Fantastic Voyage. And it does have a bit of 60s retro charm and the technical achievement is noteworthy. But really when you boil this down you mostly have a tiny runabout flying around, the crew not fixing the warp drive, and Jem'Hadar arguing with each other and not a whole heck of a lot else.

The Alpha/Gamma Jem'Hadar conflict is actually quite an interesting theme - it's just a shame that the Alphas appear to be the least competent Dominion warriors we've yet seen. 2 stars.
Sat, Mar 12, 2016, 11:49am (UTC -5)
Too bad the Alpha vs. Gamma friction fizzled out completely, never to be mentioned again, in true DS9 style.

I read on memory alpha that they had planned on expanding on this but shelved it. The writers seem to have a consistent pattern of running away from interesting challenging storylines.
William B
Sat, Mar 12, 2016, 12:18pm (UTC -5)
*Is it* too bad that the Alpha vs. Gamma Jem'Hadar storyline was dropped? Don't get me wrong -- there are plenty of dropped plots in DS9, some of them dire, and it makes "One Little Ship" less interesting that it spends time on a subject never to be followed up on, but I'm also not so sure that it is a story that obviously has legs.

I do think it would have been a good idea to have some sort of Jem'Hadar storyline that had some real impact on the show -- maybe having "Hippocratic Oath" come up again and have the possibility of Jem'Hadar freed from the White, who then have the possibility (eventually) of making their own choices.
Sat, Mar 12, 2016, 5:34pm (UTC -5)
@William Perhaps. There are all sorts of places our imagination could go. Personally I would have liked to have seen e.g. Gamma Jem'Hadar and Klingons reach a mutual respect, honorable warrior style (a la By Infernos Light), while the Alpha Jem'Hadar become more and more ruthless, with both loyally serving the Founders for the most part but with some critical conflict during the heat of the war between the Gammas values and morals and the Alphas loose cannon ways. If that makes sense. That was a lot to pack in one sentence.
Sat, Mar 12, 2016, 5:38pm (UTC -5)
(Even conflicts like the Alphas being extraordinarily sadistic but risking victory, with the Gammas questioning their motives and placing victory above all else. Sort of like the Klingons view on cowardice vs honor. There's a zillion possible directions to take it.)
William B
Sun, Mar 13, 2016, 4:06pm (UTC -5)
@JC, good points. There are definitely lots of places the story could go, I just wasn't sure this was that obviously a missed opportunity.

What does strike me is that this is the last time (I think) that Jem'Hadar are actually dealt with. Are there any other major Jem'Hadar characters/moments any later times in the series than this? Which (spoiler) unfortunately is a disappointment with the Vorta too -- we get to know Weyoun, and "Treachery, Faith and the Great River" gives us an alternate Weyoun where we could see how things might have gone, but then Weyoun is mostly a patsy for the rest of the series, only to be killed off by Garak ignominiously. The set-up of the Jem'Hadar & Vorta -- peoples genetically engineered to be loyal to the Founders, but with enough "errors" in the code that they can at times rebel, or to have internal dissent and friction -- was a cool idea that never really came to fruition. I don't know that the Alpha vs. Gamma is the best instance of that, but it could have been interesting, just as the idea of a defector Weyoun could have been interesting, or Jem'Hadar who get off the white, or rogue Jem'Hadar, etc.
Sat, May 28, 2016, 11:40pm (UTC -5)
"One Little Ship" is an episode that should not work. The basic premise - shrinking three of the main cast members and a runabout down to the size of Lilliputians - would be the most absurd idea in the franchise if it wasn't for the fact that VOY once transformed two characters into sex-crazed salamanders. The Jem'Hadar First is a complete blithering idiot who can't see the blindingly obvious even when his own second-in-command is screaming it in his face. The animosity between Alpha and Gamma Jem'Hadar is unnecessary, only offering a potential distraction from the mistrust between Dominion and Cardassian forces (thankfully this was immediately dropped, aside from a new make-up design for the Jem'Hadar). And the idea of the tiny runabout flying through the ship seems like an idea that a ten-year-old would come up with. But, surprisingly, despite all these shortcomings, it manages to be fairly engaging and genuinely entertaining.

The tone of the episode is kept exactly where it needs to be kept - whimsical silliness with tongue planted firmly in cheek. The jokes work, for the most part. There is a legitimate sense of suspense in scenes where it is needed. And the special effects really hold up well after all of these years. The scenes of the Rubicon flying through the Defiant are worth the price of admission alone - they are remarkably well done F/X shots.

A lot of people like to say that the difference between "Deep Space Nine" and VOY is either one of serialization or moral ambiguity. I disagree, to a point. It's episodes like this that clearly show the differences. On VOY, they tried many forms of "high concept" science fiction. Most of them didn't work? Because VOY often made its episodes entirely about the high concept being played with - the problem had everything to do with the concept itself so the solution had to be at least as silly as the problem. On "Deep Space Nine", however, the high concept episodes are about people facing strange problems, not the problems themselves. In this episode, the problem isn't the fact that Dax, O'Brien and Bashir are small. The problem is the Jem'hadar seizing control of the Defiant. All of the things done with their size limitations aren't ultimately the point. And returning them to normal size isn't the resolution of the crisis. We don't even see the process of making them tall again, because it doesn't matter. We care about the Jem'hadar on the Defiant. TNG also understood this; it's why "Rascals" works so well - we have the ridiculous idea of people turning into twelve-year-olds but the problem is ultimately the fact that the Ferengi have seized control of the ship. On VOY, however, the ultimate problem that needed to be solved was fixing the malfunctioning holodeck or escaping the random anomaly of the week. See the difference?

A fluff piece, to be sure, but a very well executed fluff piece.


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