Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Valiant"

***

Air date: 5/4/1998
Written by Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Michael Vejar

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"You're here to write the story—to tell people of the Valiant and her crew. Don't interfere with this story, Jake. Don't become a part of it. Just let it unfold around you. Observe, listen, and then write it down." — Captain Tim Watters

Nutshell: Pretty strong. A little stilted at times, but a nice story with some interesting opposing arguments.

"Valiant" is an effective episode about the virtues and values of the Starfleet officer, and what happens when those values are misapplied. It works through many subtle and well-conceived moments, and capitalizes on some of the current aspects of war.

The story brings Jake and Nog into a situation that they've been in many times before—that is, the "in over their heads" paradigm. But this is a more serious side of the Jake/Nog pairing, which puts them into a truly dangerous setting under motivations very unlike the comic antics of something like "In the Cards."

En route to Ferenginar in a Runabout, the two encounter a wing of Dominion fighters. Their Runabout is chased into Dominion territory and attacked, but the two are rescued in the nick of time when beamed aboard the USS Valiant, a Defiant-class starship that has been trapped behind enemy lines for the past eight months.

The crew of the Valiant isn't your typical crew. It's a crew of Starfleet cadets—more specifically, the elite group known as Red Squad. Ah, yes—Red Squad. We've heard about this group before, back in fourth season's "Homefront"/"Paradise Lost" two-parter. Nog had always wanted to be a member of this special squad. Now he gets that chance.

The Valiant crew is something of an unintended experiment. They were supposed to run the starship under the supervision of commissioned Starfleet officers, but during a Dominion attack, the captain and the other officers were killed. Just before the captain had died, he gave command of the ship to Tim Watters (Paul Popowich), a 22-year-old cadet—presumably the most capable leader of Red Squad. Now Watters intends to finish the job that his captain had started months ago: to locate and gather intelligence information about a new, powerful Dominion battleship, which Watters knows to be in the area. Unfortunately, they haven't been able to approach near the battleship, because their speed has been limited due to technical problems. Within minutes, Watters gives Nog the role of chief engineer, giving him a field promotion to lieutenant commander and the assignment of repairing the warp engines.

Meanwhile, Jake finds himself out of his element, surrounded by people his own age, but people who hold very different opinions. In essence, the Valiant crew is a pack of very young soldiers, who are very aware of the war around them. Being trapped behind enemy lines, these cadets have been forced to improvise, learning how to perform for real, long before anyone would've expected them. Jake, always the observant type, looks around him to see a crew that is probably a little cockier and fearless than it has any right to be—and probably feels much more invincible than it truly is.

Captain Watters, as performed by Popowich, is mature, and he knows how to deal with people. As he tells Nog, the officers of the Valiant must "rise to occasion" in order to overcome difficult obstacles, as Watters himself as obviously done. The way Watters handles Jake—who obviously doesn't agree with most of Watters' outlooks—is an interesting display of leadership. He's calm and clear in his intentions, but very respectful, diplomatic, and reserved. (His chat with Jake, telling him to "tell the story of the Valiant and her crew" was particularly well written.) At the same time, however, Watters also shows that he is inexperienced, and that he puts too much faith in his own ability to overcome limits. The fact that he has been popping pills to stay awake for hours on end serves as a good foreshadow of his self-destructive potential.

The thing I liked most about this episode was its ability to balance the two extreme, opposing attitudes—namely, Jake's and everyone else's. From the very beginning, Jake is utterly skeptical of the Valiant's crew and their perspective of the situation. I can certainly see where he's coming from; Watters is in way over his head and should know it, but consistently refuses to call it quits. And even though Jake has the prudence to realize that Watters and his crew have a tendency to go too far—refusing to accept the grim reality of a hopeless situation—does that mean the crew of the Valiant is truly a group of "delusional fanatics looking for martyrdom," as Jake labels them in his argument with Nog? I think that's an overstatement.

Nog's retort, as he speaks on behalf of the Valiant crew, as well as anyone else who "wears the uniform," is well put, taking offense at Jake's extreme view. Given how Nog has always bought into the idea of "Starfleet duty," his lines here are very believable. But at the same time, Nog's own view is biased. He believes in the idea of something "bigger than himself," allowing that belief to cloud his own judgment.

Meanwhile, Jake represents the polar opposite, going so far as to admit that he only cares about "Jake Sisko," and whether or not he's going to be killed by these "delusional fanatics." Both Jake's views and Watters' actions are examples of extremes that carry merit somewhere within the ideas behind them. Reality, I think, is somewhere in between.

The episode doesn't clearly side with either view. Jake passes some black-and-white judgments upon the situation, many of which can be validly argued against. Simply put, Jake's view is only one side of the story, and a great merit of "Valiant" is the way the story doesn't automatically accept Jake's interpretations of the events. It refuses to dismiss the other side, and using Nog as the voice to argue that other side is extremely sensible, and allows the story to unfold in a way which the viewer can decide (which is even spoken in dialog in the episode's intriguing closing scene).

Of course, the fact that Watters decides that, having once located this Dominion battleship, the Valiant crew should go so far as to attempt destroying it all by themselves goes a long way to showing how blind faith in a leader can be a very bad idea, leading, as in this case, to the demise of the whole. The audacious technical plan hatched by Watters and Farris is ambitious and exciting, and it's this excitement and the vie for greatness, combined with the crew's lack of experience, that leads them to follow Watters (as Nog later admits) right over a cliff.

About the only thing that didn't quite work for me in "Valiant" was some of the execution. Michael Vejar's direction, while usually quite good, couldn't come close to touching his effort earlier this season with "Rocks and Shoals." A few scenes in particular didn't fully resonate, although they were reasonable in the grand scheme of the story. I wasn't all that impressed by the "preparing for battle" montage. It was a little on the obvious and cheesy side, and it struck me as filler more than anything else. I don't think it was intended as filler, as this story certainly had enough substance to carry itself for an entire hour, but something about it seemed a little off-kilter.

Of course, there were a few other stilted moments, like the surprisingly obvious scene where the crew of cadets start chanting "Red Squad, Red Squad." It seemed a bit excessive considering the subtlety in much of the rest of the story, but I think it works in context nevertheless, especially when juxtaposing Jake's reaction during the event, as he stands amongst the crew with an expression that borders on disgust.

Performance-wise, Lofton, Eisenberg, and Popowich were all effective, but Courtney Peldon's turn as Commander Farris was surprisingly one-note and wooden. I can see that she was obviously intended as a character who was supposed to be skeptical of Jake and Nog from the outset, but most of her scenes were not very impressive.

On the other hand, I was impressed by Ashley Brianne McDonogh as Chief Dorian Collins, a probable example of the typical Valiant crew member. She's young, inexperienced, and like most of the crew has managed to rise to the occasion—but there's still the simple fact that she is not totally ready for the realities of war. The scene early in the episode where Jake and Dorian discuss home was nicely performed, showing where the true vulnerability of the Valiant lies: in its crew's uncertain ability to cope.

Of course, I must also mention the obligatory scene on the station that opens the episode—which struck me as a complete waste of time, intended for no other real purpose than to make sure all the starring cast members appeared in a scene. As for the dramatic intent of this scene—to show that Quark still has some sort of buried feelings for Dax—I don't buy it. It's a notion that strikes me as completely unnecessary at this stage in the series. Besides, we've been there, and done that.

On the technical side, pretty much everything was exemplary, particularly the painfully convincing destruction of the Valiant. Seeing the Valiant getting shellacked—bombarded by torpedo after torpedo—had me wincing, and did a fair job early on of making it obvious the ship would not survive. (And the shots of the Dominion destroying unarmed escape pods were particularly fierce.) My only technical complaint is in regard to Paul Baillargeon's score during the battle scene—music which was understated and severely lacking in punch.

But all in all, "Valiant" is a solid and engaging episode with some interesting things to say. It doesn't pull too many punches, seeing that the entire youthful crew of the ship, save three people, are killed in its destruction. As an episode within the Dominion War storyline, it works, and holds some fresh perspectives.

Next week: Moogie, Zek, Quark in drag, and a title with the word "profit" in it. I feel sick already...

Previous episode: The Reckoning
Next episode: Profit and Lace

Season Index

77 comments on this review

Ospero - Sat, Nov 3, 2007 - 10:30pm (USA Central)
Okay, right off the bat: I consider this the worst piece of junk in the history of the franchise (and I sincerely hope it will keep that status, because I shudder to think how this waste of film material could ever be beaten in terms of sheer badness). If the Federation actually drills its cadets into doing such massively misguided, downright stupid things, congratulations - you've built yourselves a military education system that any totalitarian regime could be proud of. Some of the episode was halfway watchable (like, say, everything with the only thinking person on board, Jake Sisko), but in total, this (known among me and my fellow Star Trek aficionados as "the episode that must not be named"...call the ship the USS Voldemort if you like) made the wrong impression on me. I believe I am not supposed to yell "Yes! Go for it!" when I see a Starfleet ship destroyed, nor should I shout "You overlooked an escape pod!", but that is exactly the effect that the ship's destruction scene had on me. And the bone-headedness of the final scene with the transporter chief (I think it was) just left me speechless. Is it required to hand in your brain when you join Red Squad?

Utterly, utterly misguided and the series' lowpoint, this episode pushes all the wrong buttons with me (and as mentioned, I am not alone in this opinion). I am German, and seeing a group of people shout something in unison is linked with things in my mind that I do NOT want to be reminded of in the context of a Star Trek episode - especially not when the link is caused by the behaviour of the episode's supposed heroes.

Thanks, but no thanks. This episode is to me what "Profit and Lace" seems to be to everyone else - the worst of DS9 ever. And of Trek in general.

Loved that Dominion Warship, though...
Jakob M. Mokoru - Thu, Nov 22, 2007 - 3:27am (USA Central)
Well, I kind of support the opinion published by Ospero. I don't think of this episode as the worst of Star Trek - but I certainly do not regard it as a good one.

Besides from the far too obvious "soldier on-brain off - Switch", everybody seems to have activated on the ship (USS Voldemort - hehe!), I find the story completely unbelievable. Ok, Red Squad is an elite unit at Starfleet Academy (the elite of the elite...) but why oh why oh why should starfleet send them on a mission on one of the rare Defiant-class starships in such dangerous times?

I would like to add that I also was repelled by the "Red Squad, Red Squad"-scene - Maybe this IS a subject, most europeans are more...sensitive to? (I am from Austria).
Simon - Fri, Feb 1, 2008 - 6:35pm (USA Central)
I have to agree with the above posts, not a good showing. In fact, I found it very painful to watch.

On the topic of them all standing shouting 'red squad', while it may give some of us Europeans (I'm British) a slight reminder of a dark past, it just seemed very American to me, and reminded me of chants of 'USA! USA!'
Mauddib - Sat, Feb 16, 2008 - 6:36pm (USA Central)
I also have to agree with the above posts. I would have given this episode 1/2 star and no more. Let's look at the absolute absurdities in it..

1. Even assuming a Captain were to give command of a starship to a cadet because all the true officers were killed, the Captain WOULD NOT give the cadet a field promotion to Captain. And he also wouldn't say "continue the mission". Instead, he'd say "get your butt back home!".

2. Is it really a believable that a bunch of cadets could successfully maintain and operate a starship for 8 months? That would be like turning over a Navy Destroyer to a bunch of 3rd-year midshipmen in the middle of a war and expecting them to survive. I was in the Navy -- trust me, it ain't gonna happen.

3. I found it hard to believe a bunch of cadets would come up with such a serious design flag in the Dominion battleship. Kind of makes the real Starfleet engineers and scientists look like a bunch of dolts.

4. Even given an egomaniac Academy Senior who aspired to messianic tendencies, does anyone really thing the rest of the crew would blindly follow? Are we to assume that the cadets are a bunch of lemmings?

5. There was a vulcan in the cadet group. I though vulcans were logical. Isn't fanaticism an emotional trait?

6. Isn't it convenient that the ONLY escape pod to make it away from the ship in one piece was the one with Jake/Nog & Company aboard. How convenient.

Sorry, I think I'll go back and watch "Let He Who Is Without Sin" again. At least it was more believable.

smeos - Thu, Apr 3, 2008 - 10:33pm (USA Central)
I didn't mind it, and mostly agree with Jammer. My only complaint is that as a commissioned officer, Nog should have had the authority to assume command. I wonder why he didn't.
andersonh1 - Sun, Apr 13, 2008 - 3:00pm (USA Central)
I think the utter mindlessness of the crew was one of the points the story was making. I too found some of the behavior of the cadet crew "fascist" such as the captain's coming down hard on Jake for asking an innocent question, then spying on him as he talks to Nog. But these cadets are no different than others we've seen in the past... all young officers in Star Trek seem to be arrogant jerks, all the way back to TNG. These particular arrogant jerks just happened to get control of a starship.

Jhoh - Sat, Apr 19, 2008 - 4:02pm (USA Central)
I thought this was a good episode, even with Red Squad being fascisty. I figured that was the point of the story though. I mean, ever since Red Squad was introduced, it seems the only thing they ever do in Star Trek stories is screw up. First episode, it's Tom Paris as not Tom Paris, in Red Squad, who was responsible for someone's death because he was showing off.

I actually thought the entire story of this was heavily biased against Red Squad, right from the beginning, until it's actually a little absurd. Jake is immediately looked down on and deemed untrustworthy because "he doesn't wear THE UNIFORM," as if uniforms all by themselves make people able to be trusted. All it would take is one Jemhadar guy in a Starfleet uniform to completely undermine the ship, because they'd all do whatever he says.

The captain, who is busy turning into House with all his pill popping, spies on Jake until he finds justification for putting him in the brig, just for privately disagreeing with him. Every time Jake talks to anyone else in the crew they just give him a bunch of snark. And I don't think it's just this crew, isolated, that is the problem. The problem is Red Squad, and these "elite" kids who get all cocky and think they're better than everyone else, which just leads to disaster.

The real tragedy was that it almost seemed that the rest of the crew wanted to go back to Earth. They have Dorian crying, clearly homesick, just thinking of the moon. When the captain says their surveillance mission is complete and "we could all go home now," the crew looks happy. Then they get all stern when he tells them that they're all going to risk their lives because they're Red Squad and think they can do anything. Even though they're basically all kids, they can't question the captain's orders, because they're Red Squad. It's like being in Red Squad answers all of their questions for them already.

Anyway, that's why I think this is a good episode. This is one of the reviews or yours I found off though, I don't think they presented any balance in the story. The stuff with Section 31, that definitely seems more gray and justifiable to me, even if it's almost the same thing. Red Squad doesn't even get a fair treatment, and it probably doesn't deserve it.
Occuprice - Fri, Jun 20, 2008 - 9:24pm (USA Central)
I think this was a very good episode and I agree with Jammer's analysis.

Something interesting to think about, however, is "what if this concept had been TOS or TNG?" I think that the idea of a "ship of youngsters" could have gone very poorly with those two shows, which have demonstrated a desire to take such concepts too far as to be unbelievable. I think it's a testament to both DS9 and Ron Moore that this premise became such a successful episode.

And I think that that quality DS9 has (well, most of the time) of "keeping it real" as I like to say is what makes it the best Star Trek series.
Viper - Wed, Sep 17, 2008 - 4:58am (USA Central)
Arrogance, mindless obedience, cults of personality, fascism: a show can portray characters succumbing to such things without endorsing either the characters or the values. That is the art of tragedy.
Nick - Wed, Oct 29, 2008 - 12:10pm (USA Central)
Europeans more sensitive to it? Bah.

Let's recall the last time we met Red Squad- in Paradise Lost we discovered that they sabotaged Earth's power grid- plunging the entire world into darkness- and their representative seemed proud of it. This episode echoes Admiral Layton's attempts to subvert Starfleet and the Federation to Fascist rule and he used Red Squad's fanaticism to do so. They weren't the "elite of the elite" in the way we think of it- they were chosen based upon their loyalty to the ideas of a few higher ups in Starfleet who wanted extra influence over these "rising stars."

If a military organization trains some of its people in this way it can only indicate that part of it doesn't know what the other part is doing as evidenced by Layton's attempted coup or later episodes dealing with Section 31.

I don't think it's a particularly good episode but neither do I find it completely unbelievable. Fanaticism is nothing new given what we've seen some Starfleet officers do and Jake's escape pod being the only one that survives doesn't strain credibility more than plenty of similar situations in other episodes (ie none of the major characters being seriously injured/killed when the Defiant was boarded/destroyed or the Station attacked by the Klingons.)
Straha - Fri, Nov 28, 2008 - 11:17am (USA Central)
Reading all the comments, I came to the conclusion that this actually IS a great episode, and the main reason for this is that it spawns some decent controversy - which, all in all, is rather rare. I would rate it 3 1/2 stars. Regarding my own stance on the content: I think that Jhoh & Viper basically got it right (even though I think Mauddib succeeds in pointing out some weaknesses).
BB - Tue, Dec 2, 2008 - 11:10am (USA Central)
Although I've disagreed with some of Jammer's other reviews, I've never felt compelled to actually say anything about it until now. In my opinion, giving this episode even a single star would be overly generous.

The premise is absolutely absurd, on every level: a state-of-the-art warship which is desperately needed on the front lines is instead being used to train cadets. Then, starfleet gives this ship a mission instead and doesn't replace the cadets with a real crew capable of completing the mission. Then when the ship's captain dies, he gives a completely inexperienced cadet a field promotion to captain. Then instead of returning home (as they know starfleet would want them to to), the cadets attempt to complete the mission on their own. Then when they do complete it, they decide on their own, without starfleet, to go on another mission (which just happens to be a suicide mission).

Having actually attended a military academy I can tell you that although cadets do tend to be somewhat arrogant and prideful (not to mention a bit brainwashed), they are nowhere near so bone-headed as to think that they can actually do the job of real, commisioned officers or that they could reasonably take command of *anything*.

Equally absurd was the treatment of Jake by the crew of the Valiant. Do you really think that any reasonable person is going to chastise Jake for simply chatting with Dorian? It isn't as if he did anything to deliberately upset her and both the Captain and First Officer know it. I do not understand how Jammer can say that Watters was respectful, dimplomatic and reserved with Jake in this scene. It seemed more to me like he was being excessively rude, patronizing, unreasonable and arrogant.

The scene in which the cadets shout "Red Squad!", as others have pointed out, seems to paint the members of Red Squad as unthinking fanatics. Indeed, many cadets are overly patriotic, prideful and arrogant, but not anywhere near to this extent. This scene is extremely unrealistic and, as others have pointed out, disconcerting.

So, unless Starfleet Academy is somehow far worse than the military academies of today, I find it very hard to believe that a group of cadets could be so deluded as to think they can run a starship, so arrogant that they think they can take on a dominion battleship and so brainwashed that they ignore common sense and simply chant "Red Squad!" when faced with a reasonable argument. The only thing this episode got right was Jake and his reactions to this absolutely absurd situation.
EP - Sat, Mar 7, 2009 - 3:45am (USA Central)
I think the episode's "noble intention" was to demonstrate the ills of fascism, groupthink, and the hubris of youth. Laudable goals, to be sure.

Unfortunately, for all the reasons outlined above, the logical execution of the plot is preposterous beyond belief. I'll submit that this kind of faux pas, The Gaping Plot Hole, offends Trekkies like myself more than any other kind of dramatic production gaffe. I'll add that for the Valiant to have survived for eight months BEHIND ENEMY LINES, maintaining radio silence and not having re-supplied once, while we regularly see Galaxy-class ships captained by experienced officers getting 'blow'd up' after a few shots from a Jem'Hadar fighter, is beyond even the realm of suspension of disbelief.

That former Valiant CO Ramirez didn't order Watters to set a course for the nearest starbase right before he died is also as dumb as rocks. I was almost glad when the Valiant got the living ^%$^%# kicked out of it in the end.

There's also the little matter of those Vulcan cadets who just stand around and nod. I would have figured one of them would have said, "This is illogical," at least once.

At least the actor who played Watters had a sort of nice, easygoing, Nick Locarno-ish rogue charm about him. A natural leader, able to convince young people around him to do what he wanted, simply on the strength of his charisma alone.

So, do we give the episode a pass because it had noble and good intentions? I'm reminded that "No good deed goes unpunished."

I have to say no.
Packa - Mon, Apr 13, 2009 - 8:34pm (USA Central)
It was all fine up to the point where they took on the suicide fight. This ship is too important to throw away. And surprise surprise the one pod that survives happens to be jake and Nogs.
Ravicai - Tue, Jul 14, 2009 - 2:39am (USA Central)
Initially I found myself wanting to type a long winded comment about why this episode was so terrible, but after reading all the comments I'll just summarize;

This episode SUCKED!!!!!!
Masamune - Thu, Aug 6, 2009 - 10:38pm (USA Central)
I dunno if them having cadets out on the field is that unlikely. It's been mentioned in previous episodes that they're seriously undermanned. They even had an episode where Martok's ship was only able to receive a third of the reinforcements he had requested. Given that logic, it doesn't strain plausibility that they'd crew a ship with their 'best and brightest' with supervision of competent officers.

After all, Nog himself should still only be a cadet, but he was promoted because it was wartime (and obviously to keep him on the show). I think the funny thing is, though, is how much this episode reminds me of the new Star Trek film. I guess Waters wasn't quite Kirk...
Jay - Fri, Sep 4, 2009 - 11:14pm (USA Central)
I'm with Ravicai...this episode just did not work.

If Captain Ramirez really did promote this imbecile on his deathbed, his dead corpse should be court-martialed.
neil - Sat, Oct 31, 2009 - 3:54pm (USA Central)
Yeah, this show was garbage, for all the reasons listed in previous comments.

One thing that afflicted the entire trek universe, from TOS through to Enterprise, was the problem with Starfleet.

Far too often they have used starfleet as the source of some evil-doer who creates whatever disaster the show is focusing on this week. While every single regular cast member is the epitome of a heroic starfleet officer, it's ridiculous that every other member of starfleet is corrupt, evil, stupid, arrogant, ambitious, paranoid, and inept.

YOu can get away with this a couple of times in the life of a series, but Star Trek has gone back to the well twice a season for every one of the 27-odd seasons that make up the franchise across all series.

It's far beyond the point of just being lazy writing, it's criminally lazy writing and makes about 20% of all stories completely predictable.

While I'm complaining, I'll add that Jake Sisko is a terrible character. Are we supposed to be sympathetic to him? He is always whining, making terrible decisions that put other's lives in peril while trying to make himself feel like an adult investigative journalist. Perhaps the writers are doing this deliberately but by this point in the DS9 series I despise him more than any of the 'bad' guys.

I haven't enjoyed a single episode when Jake is the primary character.

This may not be the writers' fault. Cirroc Lofton is as bad an actor as Jake is a character, so perhaps he's not bringing the writers' vision of jake to life. His emotional scenes are flat as a pancake and he has no physical presense at all.

I know Jammer likes both Jake and Cirroc so perhaps I'm digging my own grave, but the DS9 story would have been a lot better off if Jake had never existed.
J - Fri, Nov 6, 2009 - 8:48pm (USA Central)
I think a lot of these criticisms are unfounded.

"The premise is absolutely absurd, on every level: a state-of-the-art warship which is desperately needed on the front lines is instead being used to train cadets."

Front lines? They weren't at war at the time the mission started.

"Then, starfleet gives this ship a mission instead and doesn't replace the cadets with a real crew capable of completing the mission."

The ship was trapped behind enemy lines! And remember the scene when Watters made it clear Starfleet didn't know that cadets were the only crew left?

"Then when the ship's captain dies, he gives a completely inexperienced cadet a field promotion to captain."

He was the head cadet from the group who were actually supposed to be operating the ship for three months; I don't see that he had any better alternative as far as who to put in charge.

"Then instead of returning home (as they know starfleet would want them to to), the cadets attempt to complete the mission on their own."

Remember the part about how they were limited to low warp? I don't think it was as simple as setting a course for home; at low warp they would not have much of a chance of safely passing the oft-mentioned border patrols. But they *were* intercepting communications that showed the battleship was in the area...
Wilbur - Sun, Nov 15, 2009 - 7:09am (USA Central)
1. During the "Red Squad, Red Squad" chanting scene, you'll notice that the Vulcan cadet in the back is NOT chanting. We can speculate what the Vulcan cadet was thinking: "These humans are talented, but emotional, which is exactly what I would have expected. I am concerned that their emotionalism might get us killed, but I've known that to be a risk ever since I joined Starfleet. I might question the humans' command decisions if I thought that I was prepared to lead this mission, but I am not. Therefore, the only logical course of action is to observe the situation while performing my duties as best I can."

2. Captain Watters had undeniable charisma, but that doesn't mean we should believe everything he says. (Why should we be as gullible as the cadets?) Watters claims that Captain Ramirez told him to "continue the mission." Were there any witnesses to this conversation? We know that Watters was much too proud to go slinking back to earth in a broken ship with a dead Captain and a failed mission. There was nothing he could do about the dead Captain, but he sure as hell wasn't going back to HQ without completing his first ever mission. He had ambitions of being an admiral someday, and admirals don't begin their careers by failing their first missions! I don't think Ramirez told Watters anything when he died--he was too busy dying!
Aldo Johnson - Fri, Nov 27, 2009 - 10:24am (USA Central)
J & Wilbur - I'm with you on this one.

I think, Ospero & Jacob, that your concern is exactly the point of the episode. Though they may have been laying it a bit too thickly during the "Red Squad" scene.

They were just a bunch of cadets, yet they managed to survive for 8 whole months behind enemy lines... limited to only warp 3!! I think that's why the crew got cocky. Also why they think Captain Watters is God's next door neighbor and are ready, willing, and able to follow him to hell and back.

Yet they're just cadets. I think their lack of experience is why they underestimated the battleship's strength. Of course it failed, real engineers wouldn't allow that kind of obvious weakness in a ship. But the cadets lack the experience to know that. They're just too full of their own confidence in their abilities.
Ken Egervari - Sun, Dec 27, 2009 - 7:23am (USA Central)
This show is a little hard to take in at times. I'm not sure how the Valient can take 30 to 40 torpedo hits. That's a little unbelieavable.

I know it is a common convention in Star Trek that whenever they need to escape, the cast has "just enough" time to do whatever they need to do to avoid getting killed. It just seems that whenever the cast fires at an enemy ship though, it only takes 1 phaser... or 1 torpedo.

Voyager was more known for this, but even on TNG this was the case.

I think in this episode, it goes to extreme levels. I don't think the ship should have been able to take that much torpedo fire, and that ruins the believability of the climax.

The new red squadron actors were a little stiff as well. Just something fake about them, especially when compared to the regulars.

Otherwise, enjoyed the show.
gion - Tue, Mar 30, 2010 - 4:01pm (USA Central)
It's an impressive battle sequence, but it's annoying how hard it is to destroy a starship when it's convenient. So in a previous episode a Klingon Bird of Prey destroys a Jem'Hadar fighter with a few disruptor shots, but the Valiant can take hit after hit from a huge Jem'Hadar battleship until it's finally destroyed. Yet Jem'Hadar can put up quite a fight against a Defiant-class ship. What's that supposed to tell us about the relative strength of Klingon and Federation ships?
Bad Horse - Mon, May 24, 2010 - 3:27pm (USA Central)
Interesting how this episode is kind of a mirror image of Star Trek 2009. You have the overconfident rookie captain taking on a near-impossible mission after the more experienced commander is incapacitated.
Nic - Wed, Jul 28, 2010 - 8:18am (USA Central)
I've never liked Red Squad. The existence of an "elite of the elite" organization WITHIN Starfleet bothers me more than Section 31. When Nog first mentioned it in "Homefront", I was convinced that his classmates were just teasing him and that Red Squad did not actually exist. Alas.

I also think Jake was painted as the only intelligent person aboard the ship right from the beginning and all the other characters were arrogant dolts. That made it easy to see where the story was heading.

During the battle scene with the new Jem'Hadar battleship, I couldn't help but imagine the Jem'Hadar inside going "Well, this not enough of a challenge for us, so let's let them do their thing before we destroy them."
Wharf - Fri, Dec 3, 2010 - 4:40am (USA Central)
It seems a lot of comments here take issue with Jammer's review, so I won't add too much of my own. I cannot see "both sides" given a fair shake here, frankly: it was pretty obvious that Dead Squad were the antagonists--when have they not been? In a way this was a story about being careful what you wish for, with Nog "in" Red Squad.

What this episode reminded me most of was Lord of the Flies, and so I was very disappointed that none of the cadets got a dressing-down from real Starfleet officers after their crazy actions. I'd love to have seen Sisko instruct Watters on what real command meant....

Loved the FX of the Valiant blowing up, though....
Polt - Sat, Feb 5, 2011 - 6:06pm (USA Central)
Clearly wasn't the best epsidoe, but I enjoyed it. As for how Watters got in charge & the mission, I agree with Wilbur, that's what I thought happened. And as for the mindless following of orders stuff, how can you say that's unbelievable? Just look at 8years under Bush or the currently sheeple that blindly follow and repeat the Faux news crap. If it's happening now, why is it unbeleive that it would happen then? And with young, somewhat brainwashed, military cadets out on their first real 'mission'?
Travis - Fri, Feb 18, 2011 - 12:06pm (USA Central)
I didn't mind the episode per se, but there were two elements that drive me nuts: Red Squad and Jake Sisko. The whole concept of Red Squad defies logic. An elite group of cadets? They're young, inexperienced, and in training. The term "elite cadet" seems like a contradiction. Also, their identities are supposed to be secret. What's the point of being the "noble elite" if nobody else knows about it? What happens when they become officers? Do they all go to Special Operations or does "red squad" appear on their resume?

My other problem is just not liking what they did with Jake Sisko. Basically he grew up to be an a**hole. He calls himself a reporter, but acts more like he works for the National Enquirer (that's a gossip magazine for you non-Americans). He tried to throw his best friend under the bus by lying to him about wanting an interview with the Grand Nagus. Here he had genuine concerns with the fanaticism of Red Squad. When it came time for him to make a speech that could potentially save all their lives, the only words that came out of his mouth were "my dad wouldn't do it so you shouldn't either." Really? You've made a name for yourself on this ship as a punk civilian and that's your argument? No wonder they charged with Watters right off the edge.
Stubb - Mon, May 16, 2011 - 2:52pm (USA Central)
TAPS in space, except that TAPS was a fun movie. When Dorian started crying, I thought of the little kid in TAPS who jumps up screaming, drops his rifle, and gets shot by Ronny Cox's national guardsmen. Except she didn't get shot. She also didn't jump off the ship, I guess.
Elliott - Fri, Aug 26, 2011 - 5:06am (USA Central)
The anger sizzling from the comments boxes on this episode are emblematic of the general feelings I get watching this series, but in many ways, this one takes the cake for asinine cowboy theatre.

That Jammer can muster up the word "subtle" for a description of any facet of this episode is beyond me...others have said what needs to be said, but it should be noted that the outrage of this episode is contextually not so horrid--it is the natural outgrowth of what this series put forth. The same must be said of the crappy finale.
Aaron B. - Tue, Sep 6, 2011 - 8:47pm (USA Central)
I didn't see anything even-handed here either. The message seemed to be that military people, especially elite academy types, are arrogant fascists who think the ends justify the means and are only too ready to stomp over anyone who gets in the way of their quest for glory; while media types like journalists are the voice of reason (even when it's Jake's whiny voice). I didn't think there was a single scene where we were supposed to believe in Red Squad's attitude or actions. The 'captain' was clearly the bad guy from the moment he came on screen.
Ricky B - Mon, Sep 12, 2011 - 1:28am (USA Central)
I disagree with those comments that contend the episode was meant to be one-sided against Red Squad. I agree the execution was clumsy, and most Red Squad members were indeed presented as being too smug, arrogant, and rude to truly be likeable. But knowing that Ron Moore had himself intended to join the Navy (he was Navy ROTC), I suspect he actually intended to provide a somewhat sympathetic portrait of Red Squad as a young crew that is perhaps misguided, probably foolish, and clearly cocky, but still honorable and brave in their way. I don't think he quite pulled off the balancing act of allowing the viewers to, in Nog's words, "decide for themselves", but I figure that probably was the intent.
Weiss - Wed, Sep 14, 2011 - 1:48pm (USA Central)
i think Nic was right earlier, these people are not normal starfleet (although what exactly is normal starfleet, and who doesn't violate prime directives).

these ppl were selected because they were amoral, loyal, and smart, not the most honest and broad minded. Admiral Leyton would not have selected them otherwise.

my disappointment stems from having never seen htat dominoin ship again. (did we?)
Greyfeld - Tue, Oct 4, 2011 - 4:20am (USA Central)
I understand what the writers were TRYING to do with this episode, but unfortunately it falls flat when they end up delivering their allegory with all the finesse of severe blunt trauma.
Krysek - Wed, Nov 2, 2011 - 5:15pm (USA Central)
I'm not sure what is such a big deal here, it's Lord of the Flies in space. The only thing annoying is that in all Trek, youth always pay the price for having ideas that seem more clearheaded than most of what the adults come up with. We don't know what went wrong or what we are being told by the fact that the plan, although well-executed, doesn't work. Girls don't know metallurgy? They are too cocky? What does that have to do with factual information?
The silliness to me, is lack of the plan not working with no explaination and everyone dying within 10 seconds of each other and yes, the extended escape scene and even them staying alive in the escape pods.
FlyingSquirrel - Thu, Nov 3, 2011 - 12:53pm (USA Central)
Just a quick note on this comment - "I mean, ever since Red Squad was introduced, it seems the only thing they ever do in Star Trek stories is screw up. First episode, it's Tom Paris as not Tom Paris, in Red Squad, who was responsible for someone's death because he was showing off."

If you're referring to Wesley's friend in "The First Duty," I don't think he had anything to do with Red Squad, but some other elite group (I believe they were called "Nova Team").
Some Dude - Fri, Nov 4, 2011 - 8:35pm (USA Central)
Wow. I remember I had some issues with this back in the day when it first aired. But after watching it again all I can say is... this is the dumbest, most unbelievable ST episode of all time. I'm appalled.

I normally completely agree with Jammer's observations. Definitely not this time though. This is a strong contender for worst Star Trek ever.

I do like Jake Sisko though.
Trekkie89 - Thu, Jan 12, 2012 - 8:04pm (USA Central)
As a journalism major in college, I found myself wishing I was in Jake's shoes throughout this entire episode, itching to start writing my story about how Starfleet Academy is training its cadets to be a bunch of foolhardy nazi's willing to follow the commands of anyone who happens to have 4 buttons pinned onto their neck.

I felt much more anger and disgust toward this episode than I did dismay, as the actions portrayed by the child crew of this otherwise very nice warship reminds me very much of how kids and young adults today are treated when they are considered "special" or "elite". I fond myself putting together a very Hunter S. Thompson gonzo-esque newspaper story in my head during most of the action, just ready to rip these kids and Starfleet Academy a new one.
Nebula Nox - Mon, Apr 2, 2012 - 9:13am (USA Central)
At first it seemed to me that it was a condemnation of Red Squad - and actually the episode was.

But I just watched "Saving Private Ryan" and saw how many soldiers were killed in the first wave, and how often kids were called upon to perform in extraordinary circumstances. I only wish the deaths had not been so complete, that there had been more survivors.

Nog was the one who had the most insight at the end.

What a character arc they gave to that little Ferengi.
Cappo - Wed, Apr 25, 2012 - 8:49pm (USA Central)
While it's not one of my favorites, I don't think it's as bad an episode as many others seem to think. As someone else pointed out it may well be that Red Squad was picked for blind loyalty over prudence, then built up as the elite of Starfleet Academy, arrogance was bound to be the result.

When we last saw (or heard of) Red Squad, they pulled a false flag attack on Earth itself so that Admiral Leyton, could take control of Earth. Is it a really a huge stretch to see them acting this way when left to their own devices? Especially in a situation they were never meant to be on their own. Their coping mechanism was to further enmesh themselves into the Red-Squad-is-better-than-everyone-ism that had been trained into them.

And now... something probably no one reading this page will understand: "When Did Stephen Ratliff become a scriptwriter for DS9?"
Justin - Fri, Apr 27, 2012 - 1:16am (USA Central)
A clarification on Red Squad vs. Nova Squad(from "The First Duty"): They're very different.

Nova Squad was not a secret club of elite cadets, it was a team comprised of 5 top pilots. It's like any other kind of team you'd find at a school or academy, and if you made the team it was because you were an ace pilot.

Red Squad was made up of "the best of the best" cadets, whatever that means. They were given preferential treatment and special treatment in just about every way possible at the Academy.

They were also a group of cadets that were manipulated by Admiral Leyton during his coup attempt in "Paradise Lost." In fact, the security chief of the Valiant, Cadet Shepherd (who pointed a phaser at Jake and put him in the brig) was the same punk who proudly told Captain Sisko about how Red Squad secretly sabotaged Earth's power grid - an act of treason.

My point is this. Nova Squad tried an extremely risky maneuver, lost one of its teammates, and then tried to cover up the truth. Wesley Crusher eventually came clean and everyone in Nova Squadron suffered severe, well deserved consequences. End of story. Red Squad participates in a coup attempt and...what? Gets rewarded by being posted to the Valiant???

This makes NO sense whatsoever. Once the conspiracy was uncovered Red Squad should have been disbanded. End of Story. Sure, they were green cadets and unwitting pawns, but they still participated in shocking and treasonous activities. They "were just following orders," so maybe I could accept that their individual records would not be affected, but Red Squadron itself should have ceased to exist after the events of "Paradise Lost."

One other very bothersome thing - Watters' pill popping. Sure, we've seen plenty of drinking on Star Trek, but we've never seen an alcoholic or any other kind of addict. Certainly not in Starfleet. Yet "Captain" Cadet Watters is apparently addicted to some form of speed in this episode. What's worse, is that it's never even addressed. He's tired and he's been taking too many pills and the crew is a little concerned and...nothing. That, I think, IS a bridge too far for Star Trek. Especially it being a cadet. Sheesh. Section 31 in "Inquisition" and the events of "In The Pale Moonlight" were controversial, but they well thought out and well executed stories.

"Valiant" is not a horrendous episode, but it's not good either. I would have preferred to see Jake talk Nog into taking command and Nog being forced to actually do it because a) he's a commissioned officer and should have AUTOMATICALLY been able to take command, and b) Watters is unfit for command due to serious errors in judgement and, oh yeah, drug addiction.
Ilya - Mon, May 7, 2012 - 1:12am (USA Central)
Hmm
When I was watching “Valiant”, all I could think of was that the writers were creating a Star Trek parody and a dig at the ST fanfiction.
Think about it – a starship piloted by young adults (17-22). Star Trek has fans in all age groups, what is so special about these? Well, younger kids fantasize about serving on Enterprise, but they see themselves as adults there, having finished the Academy and with years of service behind them. Adults don’t really have such fantasies, and they are familiar with how a military is structured and operates, and have had experience making hard decisions. Now, the young adults, watching Star Trek, or playing ST videogames think: “If only I knew how to operate this technology, I could totally do this!” With an obedient crew, a good ship, some gamma torpedoes, and a clear shot, they would go against a Dominion flagship in a heartbeat.
Think of the pre-battle sequence, we have (as I remember) the only montage in DS9, all the cadets ready their weapons, pressing buttons, wearing game faces. Then, captain gives a speech that every film High School football captain gives to their team: “This is important. Nothing will ever be as important as this”. (The speech that is false).
Well, the writers tell us, fantasizers, what would happen – we’d all get killed. Horribly. Pointless.
You see, Starfleet personnel are adults. Not SciFi nerds. Sisco WORKS in Starfleet; he knows what he is doing – just like any other professional. So, please don’t think that you are so great, you can just take command and be the most awesome captain ever (“The greatest story of the Dominion War”).

Now, I didn’t draw parallels to the latest Star Trek film before I read the comments above. But, apparently, writers of that film had different ideas on how the cadets-running-the-spaceship situation will turn out. And I loved that film too! Watched in twice. You know why? Because I am a young adult as well.
shteve - Tue, May 29, 2012 - 3:18pm (USA Central)
Star Trek is supposed to make you think. About life, the human condition, the viewer's sociopolitical views, etc.
So it's a pretty bad sign when the only thing I was thinking throughout most of this episode was "Man, I really hope that commander girl gets killed."
Lt. Fitz - Sun, Jul 1, 2012 - 7:34pm (USA Central)
I'm getting pretty fed up with how battle damage works in Star Trek. I am sick of the searing sound effects whenever a bunch of sparks explode from the computer panels. I am sick of people dying simply because they were forced form their seat onto the floor. I am sick of ships taking any damage at all until the shields are completely gone. At least a couple of times an exploding panel has killed people before the shields were down. I know. They need people to die without a hull breach sucking everyone else out of the room, but it's just getting so unbelievable. And, as others have said, it makes me crazy that starships are so hard to destroy when the story needs them to be hard to destroy. Also, if torpedoes have homing mechanisms and phasers are always used with locking, why is there ever a miss? I understand that guidance and locking systems can go down, but several times in DS9 battles, the enemy ships miss when they haven't yet taken any damage.

The Jem Hadar ship was damned impressive, though. I think that it could have taken out the valiant with about 12-15 well-placed quantum torpedoes. I should go back to see how many times the Valiant was hit before it exploded.
Yakko - Sun, Sep 16, 2012 - 4:42pm (USA Central)
Ladies and gentlemen, we're all posting comments to a review of an episode of "Star Trek". It's safe to say we're all nerds and that nerds should hold themselves to a more exacting standard of minituae recall.

In "The First Duty" Wesley Crusher was not a member of Red Squad or Nova Team or Nova Squad. It was Nova Squadron.

Sheesh.
John (the younger) - Thu, Oct 11, 2012 - 11:16pm (USA Central)
Your post is a fine example of meticulous exactitude, Yakko. Well done.

PS. This episode sucked.
John Wielgosz - Wed, Dec 19, 2012 - 9:50pm (USA Central)
Reading some of the comments here, and the irony is overwhelming. I point at 'Valiant' as an example of what happens when hubris and arrogance overrides reason.

Also, A fresh out of the academy cadet gets a battlefield commission and goes head to head with a vast warship...

In reality, it's 'Valiant'

In goofy whiz-bang adventure, it's 'Abrams Trek'
Benny26 - Tue, Dec 25, 2012 - 4:35pm (USA Central)
While watching i was begging for an ending where Sisko beams onto the Valiant after a failed but not deadly attack on the warship and gives every "Bridge officer" a slapping for being arrogant Idiots.

In my opinion this episode would have been far better if it had been about Nog questioning whether they had the right to be able to command a ship like that as cadets with no real officers, and whether they are right to keep on the 'mission' regardless of whether the previous Captain said they should or not. Then i think some sort of resulting "mutiny" by Nog and a few other cadets to avert a suicide mission would have been good...(and some cadet slapping by Sisko at the very end of course)

But yeah, It just doesn't work in it's current form or me.
William - Tue, Jan 8, 2013 - 6:11pm (USA Central)
I'm in a middle ground between those of you who hated this and those of you who thought it was pretty/really good. ... I liked the idea of the episode, but the execution and plot points were flawed.

I can kind of get over the whole idea of taking cadets out for a training cruise in a Defiant-class ship. Kind of. But it would have been better if they had a different type of ship. I guess they got a Defiant-style ship for budget reasons.

I think it would have been better if they had been behind enemy lines for less time and in a more dire situation.

Finally, the guest actors left me rather flat. They weren't awful, but they didn't light up the screen either.

I've seen worse though -- like the entire third season of "Enterprise," for instance. This was flawed, not up to Season 6 standards and especially not up the story arc at the start of Season 6 or "In the Pale Moonlight," but hardly a candidate for my personal Hall of Shame for Trek episodes. Not even close. For me, it was a decent, nonmemorable DS9.
DavidK - Sat, Jan 26, 2013 - 6:43am (USA Central)
I agree with everyone's sentiments about how awful this episode is, so I'll leave them alone. But once you accept the premise, there was a part of the execution that bugged me too.

The episode seems to want to leave us thinking "did they go down in a blaze of glory or were they just stupid"? That is, at least based on the conversation at the end, where Nog says to put that in Jake's story too and let the audience make up their own mind.

But everyone's reaction here to Watters is universally negative because he *fails*. I think if they had destroyed the warship but taken heavy, heavy casualties, it would have left you with more interesting questions. Of course, the terribleness of the premise makes all that a bit moot.

One other thing, why do Starfleet cadets always look 15? Red Squad is described as "as young as 17". If that's the minimum, say 21 is the maximum. Those actors might actually be 17 to 21 or even older but they always cast with an overly "youthful" look. They should look a bit more like the BSG Viper pilots sitting around playing cards, and less like 15 year olds hanging out at the mall.

What I'm getting at here is I think the casting undermines the concept. I think talented, mature 17 to 21 year olds could rise to an occasion like this in theory, but the way they're presented makes it hard to swallow.
Clark - Tue, Jan 29, 2013 - 7:35pm (USA Central)
I have to agree with Benny26. I thought this episode would end with some kind of mutiny, where the level-headed cadets take over the ship from the delusional fanatics with a death wish. I was kind of surprised when the episode ended by basically killing everyone on the ship except Jake, Nog, and Dorian.
Herman - Tue, Feb 12, 2013 - 4:52pm (USA Central)
I noticed that all the human male Reds had pointy-shaped sideburns. I think this is typical Starfleet fashion in all the ST series, but it's still a telling detail that shows how heterogenous the organisation is. A bit like the closely trimmed soldiers and Marines of our time.

By the way, Cirroc Lofton (Jake) must be the worst actor of the show. He can't act his way out of a wet paper bag! Only Molly manages to make me cringe more, but at least she's a child.
Jack - Fri, Mar 1, 2013 - 3:04am (USA Central)
A commissioned officer (Nog) being outranked by cadets, calling them Sir? Ridiculous and totally unbelievable. Suppose it wasn't Nog who was beamed aboard, but Worf, he had to listen to the cadets "outranking" him?

And a lot of the cadets looked like children, not like the young man and women that you would suspect.

One of the worst Trek episodes ever.
David Ryan - Wed, Mar 6, 2013 - 11:35am (USA Central)
A lot of comments on here are claiming this to be one of the worst episodes in the history of Trek. Personally, I don't buy into that at all, and further I'd add that if so it ranks some way behind any episode involving Lwaxana Troi, Ferenginar or some implausible "Wesley Crusher saves the day" moment. The only crime this episode seems to commit (aside from some really dislikeable characters and the absurd Quark-Dax moment which made me cringe) is in its premise of having a crew of cadets on a Defiant-class behind enemy lines for eight months, which seems to have REALLY gotten on people's nerves. I would make the following points:
1) Cadet cruises happen in real life, as do battlefield commissions and promotions.
2) The Valiant was one of many, many Defiant-class ships in commission by that point. Allocating one of the older ones to Red Squad would not cripple a fleet full of Galaxy-class starships and the like.
3) The Valiant was on a circumnavigation of the entire Federation. It's fair to say it would have been pretty stocked up with supplies, and in any event had a skeleton crew so could eke out what resources it had via the replicators.
4) As for why it stayed behind enemy lines, it's limited to Warp 3.2 at the start of the episode. The Jem'Hadar would have blown it apart before it got close to DS9. Staying below the radar is what a lot of soldiers did in the Second World War until an opportunity to reach neutral territory presented itself.

Also, the most recent point about Nog being outranked: battlefield commissions take full effect unless subsequently rescinded. See the Maquis in Voyager for example. It may bring about absurd results at times, but it's not "totally unbelievable". No more than Kirk being promoted such in ST '09, at any rate.

I wouldn't say this is one of Trek's finest hours by any stretch of the imagination, but I don't think it's quite deserving of the vitriol directed towards it here. Especially considering the episode which came after it...
David Ryan - Wed, Mar 6, 2013 - 12:45pm (USA Central)
I would just add, though, that the "Red Squad" chanting scene made me cringe as much as the Quark-Dax one...
Desirewu - Sat, Sep 21, 2013 - 11:11pm (USA Central)
After reading the many negative comments, I think there is some misunderstanding regarding the plot. The crew of the Valiant was under strict orders to maintain radio silence, hence Starfleet Command didn't know about the Valiant being under command of cadets. Some posts mentioned that it is a plot hole for Starfleet to let cadets maintain commmand. That is simply not true. Starfleet simply didn't know.
Desirewu - Sat, Sep 21, 2013 - 11:14pm (USA Central)
Also, I believe that any TV episode that can spark so much controversy and discussion, cannot be a bad episode.
Elliott - Sun, Sep 22, 2013 - 12:29am (USA Central)
Desirewu:

Yes, you are correct that the cadet-control was not an oversight by the writers.

No, you are not correct that an episode which sparks "controversy" is inherently good (or at even "not bad")--see this franchise's "Threshold" for a nearby example.

This episode is bottom-of-the-barrel for Trek. Bad ideas, bad characters, bad acting, bad messages. Just bad.
Kotas - Sat, Nov 2, 2013 - 2:38pm (USA Central)

I had to skip through parts of this it was so bad.

0/10
Ric - Thu, Dec 19, 2013 - 12:45am (USA Central)
Boring, boring, amazingly boring. Only not more boring because of its atrociousness: the plot is about "best of the class" teenagers being arrogant. Oh wait, the plot is about teenagers having absurdly run a top-notch starship for 8 months, with no one knowing - and being arrogant.

Did I mention that putting the Red Squad in the arrogant position is just predictable as it can be? Oh yes, and what about screaming "Red Squad" in chorus when someone gives one very single (stupid, that's true, but whatever) contradictory speech?

I can't even believe I just wrote that. "Red Squad", "Red Squad", "Red Squad". It's not only one of the worst episodes in the whole Trek ever, but it is a new step in the recent strong moves of DS9 to dis-construct what all Trek medias have defined before as being the Federation and Starfleet.

In the end, it may be chocking that Jammer has used a "Pretty strong" to summarize his feelings about this one. But well, it turns out that it makes sense: for me, very strong this episode really is, only that I mean very strong punch in the inner of my head.
Filip - Mon, Dec 23, 2013 - 8:58pm (USA Central)
This episode was such a piece of garbage that I was compeled to write a review, especially when I've seen that you'd given it three stars!
This has nothing to do with humanity of Star Trek that has outgrown its petty need for proving something to others and the sheer arogance manifested by most of the crew. Maybe they were intented to be shown as noble people with a difficult task on their hands, but I the only impression I got was that they were a bunch of monkeys too drunk on their power and the importance of the Red Squad membership.
Also I find it interesting that Jake, who was not even a starfleet officer, was the only voice of reason onboard. When he said what his father would've done in their shoes only made me realize even more how stupid they were (not that I needed any help).
Once captain Ramirez had died, "captain" Waters should've taken the Valiant back home. I don't buy all the "we're helping milions of people by ultimately getting ourselves killed" crap for a second. So the only reason why that did it was to show how great they were because they happened to be given a ship they shouldn't have gotten in the first place.
And weren't there Vulcans onboard? If the rest was that dumb, one would say that they would've said something to that idiotic plan. You don't have to tell me that it's not a nice to want to see a Federation starship destroyed but it was the highlight of the show for me when I saw the Valiant crumbling into pieces.

Oh and one more thing, what the hell was wrong with that "first-officer-super-bitch"? It was like the writers had to make a character which would be made of everything what was wrong with the crew. It was more like a spoiled-I-gotta-have-everything girl that spends her time hanging around malls gossiping than a starfleet officer of the 24th century. I think that if Gene could see this episode, he'd turn in his grave.

Maybe my review is a little harsh, but in my opinion, this can't be Star Trek due to the qualities (or lack of) of the people who should be one of the best that humanity has to offer.
Jake Sisko - Sat, Dec 28, 2013 - 3:33pm (USA Central)
I don't understand why this episode has so many haters. Ok, the premise was far fetched and unrealistic, but DS9 has continually chosen to prioritize the exploration of humanistic response in extreme situations over plot logic or continuity. This episode does that in spades, asking the question how far can a charismatic, obsessed leader go and how far will his crew follow. It's DS9s adaptation of Moby Dick.
K'Elvis - Mon, Jan 6, 2014 - 4:05pm (USA Central)
The implausibilities were difficult to swallow. A battlefield commission to ensign is one thing, a battlefield commission to captain, that doesn't happen. I found it hard to believe at best that the leader of the cadets was tasked with continuing the mission. Most likely there were no such orders and when the captain died, Watters inferred that he should continue the mission. The most logical thing to do would be to return to Federation space if possible, and failing that, simply survive. In any case, they aren't a real crew, the pips on their collars aren't valid.

It's perfectly plausible to have a crew of cadets, just not on a state of the art warship. Starfleet needed all the ships it could get for the war, but there were still other missions that needed to be done. Starfleet would likely have activated the mothball fleet, outdated ships that that had been decommissioned but could be brought back into service if needed. Activating these ships would free other ships for the front lines, and the ships doing "milk runs" could be crewed by cadets.

Were they brave or foolish? They were both. They let their sense of elitism override good sense. The "captain" seemed like a tin-plated dictator with delusions of godhood. Threatening Jake for simply speaking to one the crew about home is not the act of a leader, but of someone desperately in over his head. When you think you're that elite, it must be grating to have to wait to have your greatness acknowledged. And suddenly the opportunity to be in charge presents itself. Return home, and the ship gets taken away, I can see it being very tempting to use any excuse to stay out there.

The last time we saw Red Squad, they were engaged in treasonous acts. I imagine they were duped into it. We don't know how they were told, what manipulation was involved. Red Squad is the sort of thing you get when accountability, oversight and chain of command are thrown out the window. It's not something that happens at real academies, but it could exist if you didn't have oversight. When people outside of the academy can break the chain of command to give clandestine orders to a squad in the academy, it's open to abuse.

I think the ending might have been better if the ship had been rescued and they had to eat some crow, and take off the pips. It's a decent episode, I find the episode itself plausible, while I don't find the excuses the "captain" used to be plausible. That is, I find it perfectly plausible that the captain used implausible excuses.
Trent - Fri, Jan 17, 2014 - 1:05pm (USA Central)
It's almost comical how poorly behaved Red Squad is within the Trek franchise. That said, the SFX in this episode were better than usual, with some good CGI work. The acting by the young cast was also quite good.
DMG - Mon, Jan 20, 2014 - 3:46pm (USA Central)
I very often enjoy reading Jammer's analyses after watching an episode, since I find it helps me reflect better. It has happened that I changed my opinion after discovering that I missed some points. It has happened that I disagreed with parts of his analyses, or his overall conclusion.

But, damn it, never quite so badly!

I absolutely cannot see how Jammer could've possibly come to his appraisal, considering that he is usually rather critical, looking at the big picture, trying to understand characters and the way they are depicted on screen. Arguments which have been pointed out repeatedly in so many comments. Eludes me!
Paul - Tue, Feb 25, 2014 - 11:12am (USA Central)
This is a very odd episode because it has some really interesting ideas and some good scenes along with some really faulty logic and poor characterization.

It's pretty hard to swallow that the Dominion wouldn't have found the Valiant in eight months and destroyed it. This episode might have worked better earlier in the season/war, but eight months? So much for the Jem Hadar being an effective killing force.

Beyond that, why is a Jem Hadar warship, apparently under construction, just hanging in space relatively close to the Federation border? Shouldn't the ship be in a more secure location?

This episode is a good use of Jake and Nog -- and I liked Watters for most of the episode. But his line that "We're Red Squad! We can do anything!" just went way over the line and kills the believability that he was up to getting the Valiant crew through eight months behind enemy lines.
Toraya - Fri, Mar 28, 2014 - 4:27am (USA Central)
The Cheese Factor was the biggest problem for me - the acting and dialog were simply atrocious, especially from the first officer but also from, well, pretty much everyone besides Moon Girl and Nog. And because I was primed for cheese, the "Red Squad Red Squad!" scene struck me as a cheesily scripted "Go team!" moment and not as the fascism which perhaps the writers intended.

My more important complaint is with the ep's essential dishonesty. I felt I was being led by the hand to side with Jake and agree that the young captain was clearly a nut because he was risking his crew on a dangerous mission with a slim chance of success. (Even Nog endorses this view in the end.). But that is sheer manipulation. Fact: week after week on DS9 (and every other action series, in every war movie, etc). , this exact trope is played heroically. The guys who are willing to give their lives to destroy an enemy -- who volunteer for a daring suicide raid -- are shown as Big Damn Heroes. Even if they fail, even if they die, we still esteem them for risking all and making the big sacrifice. And why? Because they are the main characters. Here, they are not. That's the only difference I see.

This would have been a much better show had it actually been even-handed. The Lord of the Flies elements could have been toned down, and the ending could have Jake and Nog still disagreeing about whether the captain's choice was right or wrong. Nog could have made a reasoned argument in his defense. He could have talked about all the adult-run ships that have thrown themselves against the Dominion and been decimated, how war involves risk and sometimes gambles fail and soldiers are trained to accept this. Jake could have disagreed. We could have pondered and made up our own minds. That would have been an honest story.

Bravestarr - Fri, Apr 4, 2014 - 12:29pm (USA Central)
Ah yes, Nog. DS9's version of Wesley Crusher. Does anyone else get irked by how much the producers focus on this little fucker? I swear anytime there is anything happening of great importance, there's Nog in the back yuking it up with the senior officers. Like seriously, wasn't he still a "cadet" just a few episodes ago? Anyone ever remeber the episode "Lower Decks" from TNG? That episode showed just how tough it can be to make rank and to even get the chance to interact with the senior staff.

Then comes Nog who's on the bridge in almost any Defiant related episode, right there in thick of the action and getting all kinds of bullets on his resume. I call grade A bullshit on that. Nog needs to go back to the academy where he belongs and work his way up the ranks just like everyone else.
eastwest101 - Thu, Apr 24, 2014 - 5:54pm (USA Central)
Not the worst episode but certainly not very good. The whole thing came off as a bit manipulative and certainly very very clumsy. I am never really one to nitpick myself but the holes in the plot and leaps of logic were just too much for me in this episode, and then throw in some poor scripting, lazy writing and stilted acting and it plays out almost like an abandoned pilot episode for a failed to launch "Young Star Trek: Valiant" spin-off series....
Vylora - Thu, May 8, 2014 - 6:38pm (USA Central)
Saying an episode is good purely on the basis of its ability to spark controversy is like saying a random sandwich must be good because of its ability to contain cheese. Be careful eating that sandwich; it may contain bullshit.

I understand what this episode is trying to convey as far as blind patriotism, hive-mind mentality, and inexperience coupled with faulty arrogance. But a good message doesn't make a good episode. What we know of how Starfleet operates doesn't fit with the plot shown here. Not only that, but it is a completely illogical turn of events on many levels. Most of which has already been posted in previous comments.

Only good parts are a few lines of actually nicely written dialogue and the episodes technical payoff.

This episode doesn't simply falter; it trips and falls against the concrete...hard. It then wakes up in the hospital wishing it all a nightmare, while being handed a mysterious sandwich...

First major stumble of the season.

1 star.
ShastOne - Sat, May 10, 2014 - 9:30pm (USA Central)
This episode, well, I didn't like very much at all. It was hard to care for such a demented and condescending crew like the Valiant's. What I did like, for continuity sake, was that Red Squad and Nog's past aspiration of joining their elite ranks was given a climactic episode. I also liked how it showed that no group, however prestigious, is invincible, and they're human just like you (well, so to speak, Nog). I didn't very much enjoy this episode, but it's nice to see Jake be in the right.
ShastOne - Sat, May 10, 2014 - 9:36pm (USA Central)
I will say this in the defense of the Valiant's crew, though: no, Red Squad's behavior onboard the Valiant was not characteristic of Starfleet. But, given that they were prideful teenagers to begin with, who were then sent out on a months-long mission into isolation where they had to fend for themselves, it was clearly too stressful and too big an order for them, so that fault was on Starfleet for sending them out there in the first place.
Phillip - Sat, Jun 14, 2014 - 2:42am (USA Central)
Nog is an idiot. He comes off as gullible and condescending to jake. At the end of this ep I wanted him to tell jake he was sorry and jake was right. In the early seasons nog said he and rom were both idiots when it came to earning profit. Apparently he is an idiot when it comes to starfleet as well. And can I just point out that a few seasons ago JAKE WAS TEACHING NOG TO READ. So he went from learning how to read to doing complex operations on the bridge of a starship. I can't believe he has learned to do anything in a starship that doesn't include cleaning up the kitchen.
Sean - Sat, Jul 26, 2014 - 11:44pm (USA Central)
No. Starfleet does not train its cadets to be brainwashed fascists, as what happened in the episode. The entire point was that we were seeing this group of kids as young as seventeen under major pressure to keep the ship running and maintain a mission. They were really feeling that pressure and it was getting to them. The "captain" cadet was popping pills and the engineer cadet was homesick.

We've already seen Red Squad as this very elite group that's extremely loyal to each other. The label of "Red Squad" was a big deal. It's like someone's loyalty to a sports team. Or the school they went to. Only much stronger. They feel like they belong to something and have a massive amount of respect for each other. Red Squad has that loyalty, but much much stronger since they all believed that they were the best of the best and having that label of "Red Squad" meant they were somebody.

When you combine those two aspects together: being out in the battlefield for so long, feeling the pressure and the massive in-group loyalty, you can see why this sort of system existed.
Yanks - Wed, Aug 20, 2014 - 1:20pm (USA Central)
Hey, was Nog an Ensign yet? If so, he should have relieved Captain Nemo and took the Valiant back to DS9.

I don't for a second believe the dying Captain told or even hinted to Watters to complete the mission. His order would have been "get out of here, go to..."

I don't for a second believe that even if the dying Captain only told Watters to take command, that the crew would have blindly just followed him on this stupid quest. Especially for 8 MONTHS!!

I don't for a second believe that a ship limited to wap 3.X with no cloak survives for 8 months.

I don't for a second believe Watter's little talk with Jake was meant as anything but a method to his madness. He needed Jake to shut up.

I don't believe for a second that a group of anyone would support going after this monstrosity of a battleship.

Nog, while in character here (not correct, but in character), was fine I thought up until he supported attacking the battleship. Not even Nog is that naive.

"NOG: He may have been a hero. He may even have been a great man. But in the end he was a bad captain."

I don't think he was any of the above Nog. I think you and the cadets were stupid and enabled Watters and I think you owe a big apology to Jake.

Watters might have been sincere, or he might have been nuts, but someone’s clearer head should have prevailed. Officers don't blindly follow orders, they are there to question as well. How many times has Sisko be respectfully questioned by his officers? All the time.

.5 stars because the XO was cute.
Baron Samedi - Wed, Aug 27, 2014 - 3:16pm (USA Central)
For the life of me, I've never understood why people hate this episode so much, though I respect everyone's perspective. I thought it was pretty good - DS9's done better but it was a strong story that had a lot to say. Most of the plot holes people keep pointing out were actually addressed in the episode. I suspect, as a few commentors have hinted, that American viewers would find the chanting and groupthink a little less frightening than European viewers. Maybe that's part of the issue, I dunno.
Adrian - Fri, Sep 19, 2014 - 11:23pm (USA Central)
The sheer ridiculousness of this episode is personified by Farris, the ship's first officer. She's written and performed like an 8-year-old child instead of the elite Starfleet cadet she's supposed to be.

"What's going on, Mister Sisko, *in case you haven't noticed*, is that *we* are in the middle of a *war*," she says, delivering the line with the gravitas of an elementary-school know-it-all. "I don't remember anyone inviting *you* to the bridge," she tells Jake in another scene as if speaking to her annoying little brother. Ridiculous!

The people on that ship are mostly caricatures of young and eager cadets. A terrible episode, although certainly not the worst.

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