Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"The Siege of AR-558"

****

Air date: 11/16/1998
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
Directed by Winrich Kolbe

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Children."
"Not for long."

— Reese and Sisko on front-line troop replacements

Nutshell: A gritty, engrossing, simple, and powerful tale of combat.

Through the war that's been raging between the Federation and the Dominion for a year-plus now, the one thing we rarely get a taste of is the pure intensity of how impending death and daily violence actually feels. Sure, Our Heroes have had their dose of life-threatening confrontations, whether it was all-out space battles in "Sacrifice of Angels" or the man-to-man combat of "Rocks and Shoals," but they've never been neck-deep in death for a prolonged period the way the front lines of the war are likely to be.

"The Siege of AR-558"—essentially a DS9 war movie—is exactly about being neck-deep in the ugliness and impending doom of the front lines.

The plot brings the Defiant on a supply delivery run to an outpost with a Dominion communications array that has been seized by the Federation. (Long-term plot patrol asks: Will we ever hear of this array again, or will its relevance vanish like many other "important" victories attained in episodes dealing with the war?) Stationed on the outpost are Starfleet officers who have been trapped on this front line for five months. They were supposed to be rotated out after three, but Starfleet has been spread too thin in the area to get around to it.

In the meantime, these soldiers have been repelling wave after wave of Jem'Hadar assault to reclaim the array. Two-thirds of the Starfleet battalion has been killed. Then a portion of Sisko's crew finds itself trapped—unable to beam up when a Jem'Hadar ship enters the game and the Defiant is forced to break orbit to locate reinforcements.

The plot is a perfect exercise in simplicity. There's Us, and there's Them. Us is the war-torn Starfleet battalion, of which Sisko takes command. Them is a large squadron of Jem'Hadar soldiers who have beamed down to the planet surface and intend to retake AR-558. The confrontation is inevitable. Lots of people at AR-558 will die. Sisko's order: To hold off the enemy—period.

One thing I really like about "The Siege of AR-558" is that it utilizes the strengths of DS9's current themes. This is the sort of Trek story that could only be told on DS9. I honestly couldn't imagine it on any of the other Trek series; it would be utterly foreign. The tone is unlike any typical installment. Like "In the Pale Moonlight," it reveals the dark side of human reaction—how extreme situations can bring out the part of a moral person that he or she would never have hoped existed.

What's even more frightening is that this dark side must surface, because it's required for survival. It truly is Us or Them—kill as efficiently as possible, or be killed.

I was quite interested in the guest characters, who have been stuck on this rock for months with no end to their hell in sight. Behr and Beimler's story presents us a group who have been worn down by attack after attack. The emotional and psychological scars are more than a little evident. These soldiers have become hardened, short-tempered, even nasty. They're all business.

The presentation of these characters works exceptionally well; from step one we can see that this isn't, as Quark so aptly puts it to Nog, "the Starfleet you know." The emotional instability of Vargas (Raymond Cruz) paints a compellingly bleak picture. He's full of bitterness and resentment for being essentially abandoned by Starfleet—left to die on this planet. And the moment with Bashir when Vargas tells his story of the bandage and his slain comrade ("I couldn't stand the guy") shows him in a state of mental unease that borders on a nervous breakdown.

There's also Reese (Patrick Kilpatrick), who seems to be handling the stress better, though he's certainly become combat-hardened. The notion of his wearing Jem'Hadar ketricel white vials around his neck as a way of "keeping score" of his kills provides a nice touch. The implications are unsettling given the Federation moral scheme, but it's a plausibly gritty idea.

The leader of the battalion prior to Sisko taking command is Larkin (Annette Helde), who also shows an edge of impatience. Probably the only of the guest characters who feels like a conventional Starfleet officer rather than a hardened soldier is the engineer, Kellin (Bill Mumy). Kellin and Dax form a good chemistry in working to solve a strategic technical problem; they come to reveal the other side of the situation—the side that can still think about life rather than impending death. Their discussion on Ezri's search for identity continues to build on the character's central struggle, and works surprisingly well in context. (I'm beginning, however, to wonder if making Ezri a counselor was such a good idea; I couldn't help but wonder why she was even on this mission.)

The plot of course documents the battles, injuries, deaths, and the final assault. But the way it all unfolds is engrossing. There's an interesting polemical theme centering around, of all people, Quark, who ends up stuck on the front lines along with the battalion. The circumstances surrounding Quark's presence on this mission strain credulity, but I don't really care; the use of Quark turns out to be one of the story's assets. What Quark has to say is interesting—as he follows his Starfleet nephew around offering his unsolicited point of view.

And contrary to what it initially seems, this is more than a matter of Quark simply being cowardly or petty. The story strongly suggests that Quark is opposed to this war raging on and on ("The Ferengi would've hammered out an agreement"), and objects to the soldier mentality that he sees all around him. I was particularly interested in his view on human vulnerability, where he tells Nog how a human subjected to long-term violence and deprived of food, sleep, and comfort can become as nasty and violent "as the most bloodthirsty Klingon." It seems Quark believes Ferengi wouldn't turn vicious even under such extreme circumstances. Whether that's the truth is debatable, but the point is still interesting, and I like it as a statement that questions the moral basis of the war. Is the human resistance to the Dominion worth all the death it leaves in its wake? The human answer may be obvious, but Quark's Ferengi view brings forth an interesting way to reanalyze it.

I also thought the use of Nog was particularly adept. Nog has that youthful naivete, and here it's manifested through a sense of respectable courage and duty. He doesn't want to hear his uncle's interpretation of things, which only further irritates Quark. He's a Starfleet officer, and he intends to carry out his orders even if it means dying in the process. At the same time, he has a youthful desire to please and earn the respect of Sisko and the other soldiers—a notion that rings true.

In the middle of everything is Captain Sisko, who serves as a bona fide leader for his soldiers. He fights alongside them, he cares about every one of them, he considers the mission's problems and attempts to help solve them ... and, of course, he orders his officers into situations that could get them killed. Because that's also part of it.

Quark's objection to Sisko sending Nog on a scouting mission with Larkin and Reese also seemed like an understandable "civilian" objection; the fact Sisko could so "casually" send Nog—Jake's best friend, no less—to his own death is something that I could see might be hard to understand. Interestingly, when Nog is shot by the Jem'Hadar on this hike and Bashir must amputate his leg (!), Nog was more bothered by the fact he "failed" Sisko than that he was almost killed. Sisko's subsequent scenes with Nog work well, striking some poignant notes.

A great deal of the success of "AR-558" deserves to go to Winrich Kolbe, whose direction is nothing short of virtuoso. The episode is a triumph of mood and atmosphere, which is as crucial to the story as any other element. This was a deeply textured episode that drew me in and captured me on a visceral level. A big part of the experience is in feeling the events unfold as they happen on the screen.

The little details make a huge difference, whether it's Reese's knife, which Nog subtly observes as not being "standard Starfleet issue," to the anticipation and building adrenaline conveyed through the simple gesture of Kellin nervously flipping his phaser sight up and down—which conveys human realism through its simplicity.

Other powerful details: A recording of Vic Fontaine singing "I'll Be Seeing You" plays from the infirmary as the soldiers wait for the rapidly approaching assault. Bashir reloads his phaser, and Vargas notices that he has obviously "done that before." The mine trap Sisko's unit had set for the Jem'Hadar alerts us of the imminent approach, as a series of bombs explode just over the rocks. The Jem'Hadar screams gradually become audible as they charge in for the kill. All of it borders on the surreal, with consequences that are all too real.

When the attack finally arrives, lots of people die, but for once, the deaths feel more like people than statistics. We can see elements of sacrifice, heroism, futility, and desperation. And the simple fact that there are so many Jem'Hadar ensures the chances are exactly zero that we'll kill all of Them before they can kill plenty of Us.

With the subtle but striking visual and spoken nuances, I could understand and feel how this group faced an intense situation. The message voiced by Sisko in the show's closing scene is that those who die are more than just names—a fact that shouldn't be forgotten. That may be a fairly obvious statement, but an episode like "The Siege of AR-558" helps get us in better touch with the feelings behind the words, rather than leaving us in the position to take the words at face value.

Next week: Kira confronts a Bajoran cult affiliated with her worst enemy.

Previous episode: Once More Unto the Breach
Next episode: Covenant

Season Index

83 comments on this review

Stefan - Fri, Mar 28, 2008 - 2:36pm (USA Central)
This was one of the few DS9 episodes that really brought home the Hell that it would have been to be a soldier in the Dominion War. You almost forget that you're watching a sci-fi show.
Juergen - Sat, Jun 21, 2008 - 11:22pm (USA Central)
I also enjoyed Paul Baillargeon's music for the battle scenes.
AeC - Sun, Jun 29, 2008 - 6:46pm (USA Central)
Given everything we've heard over the last five years about troops being sent and re-sent to Iraq when their tours of duty should have been up long ago, that aspect of this episode in particular really made me wince. Frighteningly prescient.
Observer - Mon, Nov 17, 2008 - 11:25pm (USA Central)
I agree that the series as whole was prescient to our current time and problems.
Jakob M. Mokoru - Wed, Feb 11, 2009 - 1:20pm (USA Central)
Oh PLEASE! While I agree that the episode as a whole was a very good outing to show the bad side of war (-as if there was such a thing as the good side of it!), the guest "soldiers" really annoyed me.

I'm certainly not breaking this down to an argument about Roddenberry-ism, but NEEDED we to see this bunch of action figure caricatures to see, that war isn't good for mental health. Ok, war is dirty, war is terrible, but I mean, come on - the soldier sharpening his knife? The soldier almost shooting a Doctor for trying to change his bandage?

Don't get me wrong - there were a LOT of things in this episode that I liked (or rather: that moved me). I was particularly moved by the musical score - really terrific (although a tad on the melodramatic side, but I like that!)!
But it might be that my role is similar to that of Quarks - I'm simply not militaristic enough to emphasize with some of the attitudes shown. Bloody civilian, eh?
Destructor - Sun, Dec 20, 2009 - 6:39pm (USA Central)
I liked this one a lot- and I liked Quark's role particularly. I must agree with Jakob above that I sympathized far more with his position than Sisko's. His statement 'this is not the Starfleet you know' was a telling wink to how far the war had pushed the show out of the Trek umbrella. However even if I didn't agree with the position, I could sympathize with it, and thought this a great ep.
John Pate - Mon, Jan 11, 2010 - 11:06am (USA Central)
Although the character inter-play was nice, the basically non-sensical nature of the plot weakened the story fatally.

If the comms array was so crucial, why didn't the Dominion simply nuke it from orbit? Why don't they have any Armoured Fighting Vehicles? Artillery? Why didn't the holograms have phasers? Where was all the body armour? The ubiquitous force fields and dampening fields? And so on. The ray guns were always going to make it hokey but it was made even worse by the Treknobabble anti-personel mines that should have killed everyone long ago. It really needed to have been visualised very differently to make it work.
James - Thu, Mar 4, 2010 - 12:28am (USA Central)
@John Pate:

1 - It's generally not a very smart idea to destroy something you value greatly.
2 - In ST, the vast majority of warfare is conducted via space combat. Hence there isn't much focus on the land-based stuff anymore.
3 - See #2.
4 - Why WOULD they have phasers? It's not like they could have done any damage with them.
5 - See #2.
6 - yet again, see #2.
7 - "Ray guns"? I take it by being 'hokey', you mean being Star Trek, right?
8 - Um, why? (The mines thing, that is)

Wow, DS9 really does bring out the inner nerd in me...
Carbetarian - Mon, Aug 16, 2010 - 1:03am (USA Central)
This and paper moon are two of my favorite episodes of this show. Nog really became one of my favorite characters. He moved me to tears on three ocassions. This one, paper moon and during the speech he gave Sisko about why he wanted to be in Starfleet back when no one believed he was serious about it (sorry, the name of that episode is escaping me at the moment). Nog as a character was wonderfully written and acted.

I love trek in general, but I really do think DS9 was leaps and bounds ahead of all the other incarnations in terms of over all quality.
Cloudane - Fri, Dec 3, 2010 - 6:31pm (USA Central)
It's certainly got more of a feel of quality to it than Voyager at this point in the trek time continuum! Actually that's not entirely fair, this runs in parallel with series 5 which was a huge improvement over 4.

To be honest I usually read Lynch's reviews of DS9 (difficult as they are to find these days). I loved this episode though and so after his usual whining and nitpicking I needed a more optimistic review to justify enjoying it ;)

It does seem prescient to the never-ending battles *still* raging on in the middle east today (2 years after the point was made here). Sadly history does repeat itself and in 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years I bet the same will be said for whatever is going on then.. if people are still going back watching this stuff.

This episode reminded me that Rodenberry was probably spinning in his grave through much of DS9 with its conflicts, non-perfection and the point about humans still basically becoming animals under the pressures of war. But it was the correct decision as DS9 was a joy to watch, compared to the "new TOS" style of Voyager (which is still good, just not great).

There was, as mentioned, a very slight melodrama to the music that in part made me think "oh please, we're really milking the war movie clone now" but in the end I appreciated it.

I haven't seen the rest of DS9 yet... Ezri needs a personality beyond "being a useless counsellor and recalling previous hosts as if it's news" real soon now before it's too late, and I really hope Nog's leg loss is remembered or else it will seem like a wasted point. I'll be disappointed if he turns up in the next episode running around with a replacement that, gee, is exactly like the real thing!

Anyway, all in all, great stuff. On a 10-scale I'd give it about a 9.5
Nick M - Tue, Jan 11, 2011 - 9:27am (USA Central)
Ok, trying to compare the war in Iraq to DS9 works on some levels, but not all. In full disclosure I have served four touors there, and am getting ready for a fifth.
I have been in some very isolated places (like AR-558) and maybe it's me, but these people were....soft. Quark was right. Supposed to be out in 90 days? Crying about it? Boo hoo. I did two years straight in Iraq...24 months...and saw people in places that were there for 15 months, and lost a LOT of friends...they did their job and kept morale up. To me the angst was obviously written by someone who had no idea what it was like to serve.

Having said all that, I love this episode. It is in other ways very real. These people are DIRTY...Trek doesn't like to show their people dirty. I liked that. I gasped when the mines were revealed, I liked that moment a lot. I will say, carrying the white around the neck...yawn. Cliche. AND there is NO WAY a Soldier with his experience would wear them on a patrol where silence is key. Anything nonessential goes, especially if it can make noise.

I agree with Carbetarian, Nog is one of my favorite characters, and the three episodes cited are a huge reason. Nog was fun, serious, dedicated and three dimensional.

Just my randome thoughts, worth not even a cup of coffee.
Cloudane - Tue, Jan 11, 2011 - 12:08pm (USA Central)
I disagree with that last point - it's one of the most insightful comments I've seen on the site.

You're right, like probably a lot of war dramatization it'll have likely been written by someone who lacks that actual experience. Whether it's the best they could have done without experience I wouldn't know... perhaps being there is the only way to truly understand.

Judging from Trek's history with some of its science accuracy it does seem pretty likely it was put together with enough thought and research to keep most people happy, yet lacks enough that it grates on those very close to the subject matter. The other big Trek reviewer was a biologist I believe and the Fun With DNA always knocked several points off the episodes he reviewed.

Best of luck with your next tour.
Elliott - Thu, Jan 13, 2011 - 8:18am (USA Central)
This episode I think hammers home just how insidious this series is. Again, if we take it in 20th-century terms, it works. It's a war movie as you say, Jammer; war sucks; it tends to bring out the worst in us if not drive us completely insane; and it seems necessary to our survival. On those terms, this episode is a genre of film and TV that has been done to death and far better in dealing with real wars and battles, can i count the ways? Need I?

The assertion here seems to be that the survival of humanity's evolved sensibilities have depended for a century on un-challenged creature comforts (as Quark calls them). Uh huh. So never mind that to be in Starfleet in the first place, one must be some sort of scientist (even if one is a tactical officer, keen interest in scientific inquiry is a must). Somehow, Bruce-Willis-man had a career as a scientist before sharpening his blade, or collecting bottles of White (vomit-inducing cliché). I think the idea of showing people, star trek people, under the extreme stresses of front-line war is, yes, prescient and potentially moving, but there's no need to throw the pessimism blanket over the whole thing. It just becomes one big sad, depressing exercise.

it seems the writers are pushing for controversy for its own sake. The Ferengi are the voice of Roddenberrian humanism (even though their society's values directly contradict them, so this is a deception) and the humans have reverted to the 1970s.

Execution-wise it's okay. It pushes beyond the point of melodrama too often for my tastes, but the grittiness is certainly a welcome veneer. Ezri is damned annoying; I hate that they sabotaged the welcomed death of Jadzia by bringing her back in an even more irritating form. I guess Kira was not enough woman to meet the casting quota. Sisko is always so damned irritating when he's under emotional stress. It's like watching a trainwreck and not in a good way.

I wish someone would remind someone else that Starfleet officers are not soldiers, they fight when they absolutely must but it's the last thing they desire. Those are values that needn't disappear in wartime. Neither the Soviets nor the Chinese nor the European crusaders nor the capitalist american soldiers of our wars lost their respective societies' values under the stress of combat; why should the federation be any different? Ah yes, because the writers like to use childish pessimistic arrogance to sell their product.
InAUGral - Sat, Apr 30, 2011 - 3:23am (USA Central)
I liked this episode it was a good break from space warfare and showed how the ground battles played out whilst they focus on ds9.
Mart - Fri, Aug 19, 2011 - 3:55pm (USA Central)
Elliot states: Neither the Soviets nor the Chinese nor the European crusaders nor the capitalist american soldiers of our wars lost their respective societies' values under the stress of combat;

Sorry Elliott, but you're provably wrong. The Allied soldiers in Normandy had the bad habit of shooting surrendering Germans. And even if they had a reason to do so, there is still black pages in the US Army's history like My Lai.

History tells us that people do horrible things in the stress of combat, regardless of how justified it might have appeared to them at the time. AR-558 is spot on in its portrayal of this process.

And Nick, you could have looked up who directed this episode before you made your cheap shot about not knowing what it is to serve.

Mart
Elliott - Sat, Aug 20, 2011 - 3:00am (USA Central)
I didn't say people should lose the capacity to do horrible things under direst--that's not the point. What I said was those people, in spite of being in war zones did not lose the core values of their respective societies--communists were, to whatever extent they ever were, still communists whether or not they were in combat, etc.

I say the same should apply to the Federation; show people in difficult and painful and life-changing situations if you wish, but don't abandon the things which make them unique in the literary universe; let them still be Starfleet humans of the 24th century who believe in a certain ideal. The characters in the episode were indistinguishable from modern American humans and even in that context were a group of clichés. Yet, the episode has the audacity to include the Quark commentary as if to lay claim to some sort of moral backhand at the values which the episode (and this show) are so eager to dismiss and disprove.
gtr - Fri, Sep 16, 2011 - 7:06pm (USA Central)
"...a portion of Sisko's crew finds itself trapped--unable to beam up..."

Wrong. They had the chance to leave and Sisko decided they would stay and help defend the outpost, even though they weren't obliged to. That's a pretty important plot detail IMHO.
Nemesis4909 - Wed, Nov 9, 2011 - 6:59am (USA Central)
Just a quick thought about Quark's role in the episode.

Did anyone else feel that he was in some way representing the Roddenberryesque Federation and consequently its values?

All that talk about finding ways around fighting and hammering out an agreement brought that to my mind.

What do others think?

Also I agree, stellar episode of DS9, particularly harsh and poignant.
Wayne Ma - Fri, Dec 30, 2011 - 8:33am (USA Central)
Just rewatechedsthis episode on Netflix. It's a travesty that episodes like these and the Dominion War story arch of DS9 never made in into main-stream popularity. It's such a great show and storyline.
Justin - Wed, May 2, 2012 - 12:52am (USA Central)
Quark's presence was rather contrived and his role as the non-human observer of human nature was a bit pat, but it was effective nonethelesss. His fierce determination to protect his nephew was one of Quark's finest character moments of the series. It's a shame we didn't get to see more of this side of Quark.
Nick - Thu, May 3, 2012 - 2:26am (USA Central)
Jammer, your long term plot patrol is a bit off, you wondered if we'd ever hear about the communications array ever again or would it be forgotten like so many other "important victories"...well this episode takes place in the Chin'toka System, the system the Federation took from the Dominion in the previous season finale "Tears of the Prophets", so already the writers haven't forgotten about the other victories, so this would be a bad example to use. Later this season in "The Changing Face of Evil" the Federation loses this system to the Dominion with the help of the Breen.
Latex Zebra - Thu, May 10, 2012 - 5:17pm (USA Central)
Quark was a little annoying at times but a few of his little speeches where great. Like the line about taking humans away from paradise and them turning into Klingons was great. Rang true when they turned the mines against the Jem'Hader.
Certainly concur with Nemesis4909 as to how Quark was played in this episode.

Some of the characters were a bit too obvious but, as Jammer says, it tells a simple story effectively. Very good.

Brendan - Mon, May 28, 2012 - 6:12pm (USA Central)
One of the most moving episodes of DS9 (strangely enough, I watched this the day after Memorial Day). Definitely up there with the best of the series.
Patrick Dodds - Tue, Aug 7, 2012 - 4:45pm (USA Central)
This episode galvanizes my love/hate relationship with Deep Space Nine. My love of the program is in its overall quality of writing, directing, production values and acting. With those I've had no problem with this series. My issue has always been with its undercutting tone towards Gene Roddenberry's vision of the future. In the Original Star Trek, Kirk would admit that his species has had a savage past and still had the capacity for savagery--but they also had the capacity for improvement. On TNG, Picard said they've moved past our bloody past and are working to better themselves still. (And for the record: he nor anybody from the Enterprise-D claimed humanity was "perfect")

Now we come to DS9 and this episode in particular: Quark's speech to Nog about human nature being benevolent as long as their technologies and social structure are intact now reminds me now of Heath Ledger's Joker in "The Dark Knight". Specifically, I'm reminded of Joker in the interrogation room with Batman and him saying: "When the chips are down, these so-called, civilized people will eat each other. You'll see."

But while "The Dark Knight" had the scene with the two ferries not blowing each other up and proving The Joker wrong; Deep Space Nine never offered any similar counterpoint to Quark's claim. Sadly, there was ultimately only one point of view on Deep Space Nine that they ran with for 7 seasons: the whoredom of the human soul is adamantine and they'll never be improvement--ever.

This show was great drama, but its philosophy was pathetic.
Nathaniel - Wed, Aug 8, 2012 - 4:19pm (USA Central)
If that's your reaction, then please don't ever read something like Orwell or Kafka. You just might kill yourself.
Patrick Dodds - Wed, Aug 8, 2012 - 7:29pm (USA Central)
Please.

I've read many authors that have a dim view of humanity, like Aldous Huxley (and George Orwell). I'm not saying that Gene Roddenberry's views are necessarily true to life, but they formed the nerve center of what Star Trek was: a Kennedy-esque new frontier humanistic space opera filled with optimism that was infectious and at times inspiring. It was the nucleus of thoughtful escapist entertainment.

Then came Deep Space Nine's post-modern take on Trek. It was basically: "Hey, Santa Claus isn't real! Give me my Emmy!" Well that never happened--and fans and other viewers left by the droves. I don't think it was the dark, grittiness that hurt the show's popularity ultimately. It was it's iconoclasm with nothing to replace the fallen icon. Ever wonder why Joss Whedon's 13-episode series "Firefly" got it's own theatrical motion picture and DS9 (which ran 7 YEARS) didn't?

As I said, Deep Space Nine was a fine show, but I have yet to hear anyone say how it inspired them in real life the way TOS and TNG has for many people. Many, people like myself simply were put off with Ira Steven Behr pissing in Gene Roddenberry's pool, so to speak.
Nathaniel - Thu, Aug 9, 2012 - 1:00pm (USA Central)
Hey, remember the first two seasons of TNG? I do. They were when Rodenberry was in control. They sucked. Not entirely due to him. But a lot due to him. And even later in the TNG his rules about no in crew conflict and the supposed enlightenment of humans meaning they didn't care about such stuff as death of their close ones and such stuff strangled effective tv drama in its crib many a time.

Deep Space Nine isn't shitting in anyone's pool. It suggests that sometimes with Utopia comes hidden compromises when Utopia is threatened. And not so hidden compromises.

And people didn't leave because of DS9s different take. They left because there was way more competition. When TNG launched, there was nothing like it on television. Such a high profile sci-fi show hadn't been seen since the 60s. By the time DS9 and especially Voyager came out there were tons of imitators and new sci-fi to follow.

And Joss Whedon's "Firefly" got a movie because it was cancelled. Its story had not been completely told. Hell, its story had barely been told. Deep Space Nine had a complete beginning, middle and end. More than can be said for a lot of tv shows, even the vaunted TNG.

I guess the difference between you and me is I don't care if a TV show is an icon. I just care if its a good story. And DS9 meets that mark.
Mister P - Sat, Sep 22, 2012 - 8:52pm (USA Central)
Here's my big problem with this and other similar episodes across the Trek incarnations - the script may be excellent but it's filled with new characters I don't care about and will never see again. I enjoy a good guest character as much as the next guy, but when they bring in an entire team of them to carry most of the emotional weight of the episode, it just doesn't work.
Petrichor - Sat, Dec 1, 2012 - 11:55am (USA Central)
"(I'm beginning, however, to wonder if making Ezri a counselor was such a good idea; I couldn't help but wonder why she was even on this mission.)"

"The emotional instability of Vargas (Raymond Cruz) paints a compellingly bleak picture. He's full of bitterness and resentment for being essentially abandoned by Starfleet—left to die on this planet. And the moment with Bashir when Vargas tells his story of the bandage and his slain comrade ("I couldn't stand the guy") shows him in a state of mental unease that borders on a nervous breakdown."

Maybe it's just me, but it sounds like a good place for a counselor... perhaps one tasked with a psychiatric evaluation of the garrison... although perhaps an Ezri/Vargas scene might've justified that better than I can.
Sam - Sat, Dec 22, 2012 - 4:07am (USA Central)
The best scene of this episode is when Sisko decides to stay behind and assume command of these desperate officers. The expression of relief when the lieutenant says, "You heard the captain. Sir, what are your orders?" was very realistic. I agree with Rick Berman who said that the real life military consultants for the show said that Captain Sisko was the most realistic portrayal of a captain from all the Star Trek Captains.
William - Tue, Jan 15, 2013 - 10:32pm (USA Central)
I think this is one of DS9's very best. I liked the use of Quark and his observations.

Very compelling.
Grumpy - Tue, Jan 29, 2013 - 10:44pm (USA Central)
Ironic that Cloudane would compare this episode with the quality of contemporaneous Voyager. The same week this aired, Jammer doled out another 4 stars for "Timeless."

A big turnaround from six months earlier, when Trekkers endured "Profit and Lace" and "Demon" in the same week.
RStretton - Thu, May 30, 2013 - 10:51pm (USA Central)
This episode is way overhyped on here. It is pretty average. I agree with John Pate above, the logic of the entire situation is nonsensical. If the array was as important as suggested and the Feds breaking into it so bad the Dominion would have destroyed it from orbit. Whilst the lack of any heavy weapons is silly. Plus the episode was a bit hokey and unconvincing I thought. The guest actors were all stereotypes and obviously none of the major characters would be hurt (Nog doesn't count). The whole thing just ends up being rather redundant. not bad by any means, just solid for me - 6/10.
Josh - Fri, May 31, 2013 - 12:31pm (USA Central)
Well, I'm willing to forgive the lack of scale for an episode like this since it is, after all, a TV show without the kind of budget that would be needed for more expansive production.

Having said that, why exactly does Nog not count? A major recurring character who's been on the show from the beginning, and who suffers an injury with repercussions in later episodes?

How is that redundant?
RStretton - Wed, Jun 5, 2013 - 9:51pm (USA Central)
Ok perhaps saying Nog doesn't count is a bit harsh but he has no real impact on the show's events. I would say that his injury has almost no repercussions - it gets some treatment in one episode and physically he's probably better off with the artificial leg. So basically after that episode he's reset to where he was.

Regarding the budget - other shows of around the same time like Space: Above & Beyond had far more believable external battles. B5 also typically felt fresh whilst Trek constantly reused variants of the 'planet hell' set ad infinitum. Obviously today series like BSG and Game of Thrones completely leave Trek for dust but given tech advancement they're not really a fair comparison.

Regarding the basic workings of the situation however I think they could have engineered the plot to make more sense if they'd have tried - and it isn't hard to synthesize incoming artillery rounds. The existence of those houdini mines themselves shows how technology would have maed the kind of point blank hand to hand combat shown in the episode irrelevent. In fact in Trel they effectively fight using WW1 tactics except without even machine guns! Let's face it 20th century weaponry is more effective than the hand phasers they use in terms of fire-rate and ease of use/accuracy.
T'Paul - Wed, Aug 7, 2013 - 10:44am (USA Central)
I agree that in war it would be difficult to maintain the ideals of Roddenberry, and one would hope that once relieved of duty they would return to that oft-vaunted enlightened human state.

Still, I've said it before, even in the height of Roddenberry there were still some nasty humans and nasty human behaviour about... I think that even Roddenberry himself was not so fundamentalist about this issue as some commenters.

As for this episode itself, I did find some of the "grunts" a bit exaggerated, but of course I'm not a war veteran.

I did think it was necessary though to show that it's not all bloodless space battles in war, and that space geopolitics do have their real life consequences.
Grumpy - Wed, Aug 7, 2013 - 12:16pm (USA Central)
When we talk about "the ideals of Roddenberry," let's not forget that his vision of the future included space pimp Harry Mudd and Starfleet war criminal Capt. Tracey. Later, he decided that "humanism" meant children would not grieve for dead parents and that Riker smiling would be unprofessional.
Kotas - Thu, Nov 7, 2013 - 7:36pm (USA Central)

A questionable decision by Sisko not to beam out and the hero aura on main crew members was pretty strong, but I've always enjoyed a good old fashioned hold out. The last 10 mins have some of the best non-ship battles of the series.

8/10
V_Is_For_Voyager - Thu, Nov 21, 2013 - 8:08am (USA Central)
I agree this episode is overrated: it's not bad, but it is terribly clichéd. They didn't do a lot that hasn't been done much better in countless films and books. Quark's presence there was particularly contrived. The tactical and strategic plausibility of the whole situation was laughable.

On the plus side: the Quark scenes were strong, Ezri and her scenes with that engineer were moving (he was a nicely-developed character and seemed much more believably Starfleet than Rambo-man), and I thought the battle scene at the end was executed much better than the usual phaser battles (I wish Eddington's final fight was more like this!)

I thought "Nor the Battle To the Strong" was a much better look at this same general theme. Although I did appreciate some of the subtle homages to "Zulu" in this episode, while "Nor the Battle" is more "Red Badge of Courage."
Andy's Friend - Sun, Jan 12, 2014 - 6:26am (USA Central)
I have to agree completely with Patrick Dodds above:

“As I said, Deep Space Nine was a fine show, but I have yet to hear anyone say how it inspired them in real life the way TOS and TNG has for many people.”

This is one of the most depressing hours of Star Trek ever. And no, I don’t think it’s needed. Unlike many episodes of TOS and TNG, we can watch this same story a hundred other places. We already know this.

Once upon a time in TOS, there was an episode called “Errand of Mercy” that told an incredible tale, especially for that era, of pacifism and non-belligerence. An episode that made you think, made you wonder, and made you consider other possibilities.

Fast forward thirty years, and we now have this.

Gone is the idealism. Enter the cynicism.

Oh boy...
Andy's Friend - Sun, Jan 12, 2014 - 6:42am (USA Central)
An afterthought:

When DS9 is true to the origins, it can produce outstanding stuff. “Far Beyond The Stars” is undoubtedly one of the finest hours of Star Trek. Perhaps even the most inspiring episode of the franchise.

And there it is: when you watch “Far Beyond The Stars”, you feel inspired. You feel like changing the world ― and for the better.

What do you feel when you watch “The Siege Of AR-558”?
Cloudane - Tue, Jan 21, 2014 - 6:47pm (USA Central)
Thinking about "Roddenberrism", I do love that aspect of Trek and it's pretty rare in... anything (nowadays it seems to take dipping into shows for little girls to find a bit of well-written positivity and optimism, and even then it doesn't involve humans!) and thoroughly value TNG for how well it presented it. It's also what I wanted to see Voyager and Enterprise return to.

DS9 was just different. It was without a doubt very "un-Roddenberry" but I think I just switched my brain into a different mode. I do still like realism and grittiness sometimes, especially when it's told well, and most of the time in DS9 I felt it was told brilliantly.

Ideally it should've been something completely separate and not Star Trek, but then it wouldn't have the benefit of all its history setting a foundation for "this is why you should care about these people" (this is a part of where I'm struggling with B5).

=====

Grumpy: "Ironic that Cloudane would compare this episode with the quality of contemporaneous Voyager. The same week this aired, Jammer doled out another 4 stars for "Timeless.""

Heh.... well, both series have their high points and their stinkers. I did feel that DS9 had better storytelling in the long run, though.
Elliott - Tue, Jan 21, 2014 - 10:46pm (USA Central)
@Cloudane; well, that's the point isn't it? DS9 happily gobbled up the Trek legacy's goodwill and nostalgia without the slightest reverence for what that legacy meant. It is a corruption of Roddenberry's fictional world.

Now, one may certainly believe that Roddenberry's vision was flawed, naïve, misguided or Utopian to begin with, and thus regard a corruption as an improvement, but it is unfair to have it both ways, idolising both the original and the mutated version.
Ric - Sun, Feb 23, 2014 - 10:55pm (USA Central)
Elliott, although I usually agree with you in your criticism against the complete departure of DS9 from the Trek canon, I do not fully understand how should the officers have fought this battle in a way that would please you.

Unless you are mentioning specifically the one-lines written for the additional soldiers featured on screen, once they in fact have talked like current soldiers having proud for destroying the enemy. If this is the point you criticize as being 20th century extrapolated to 24th, then I agree once more.
Elliott - Wed, Feb 26, 2014 - 7:23pm (USA Central)
@Ric :

Well frankly, they shouldn't be very good at it. Starfleet is portrayed as intelligent, witty, curious, open-minded and maybe a tad over-confident. I would not mind if DS9 chose to exploit those qualities in a dark way, making the Federation look weak and unable to defend itself against an intractable foe (though, as others have pointed out, the Dominion is so over-written as to meet fantasy-level super-powered superiority). Instead, the writers decide that Starfleet is something else, a real military made up of hardened soldiers who relish bloodsport on the battlefield. I think it would have been more honest to show the Starfleet officers totally broken by their plight--scared, hopeless and ineffectual, surviving in this place by the flimsiest of technical explanations (like those magical mines). THAT would have been tragic and a demonstrated the potential that a real "dark" Trek could have been. It would have offered a fresh perspective on the idealism of TNG-era Trek without corrupting and mocking that philosophy.

As for the battle sequence itself, the only way to portray it properly and still have the Federation win would involve some sort of Deus es Machina--those mines or a cave-in (like in the similar "Nor the Battle to the Strong." That episode had its own problems, but at least the way Jake behaved was believable.
Ric - Sun, Mar 2, 2014 - 2:29am (USA Central)
@Elliott I don't see why Starfleet having "a real military made up of hardened soldiers (...)" departures from the original Starfleet portrayed before. Or corrupts or mock the original philosophy. I think this is a bit too much. From where did you concluded that it did not have a real military? It doesn't make sense with all the wars its has fought in previous Trek. It is not because hardened soldiers were not in explorer missions such as the Enterprise's, that they did not exist, since Federation and Starfleet have been facing wars for a long time at this point. Having hardened soldiers is not being far from the original Trek per se.

However, I totally agree with the continuation of your sentence: "(...) who relish bloodsport on the battlefield". This is what I meant before: the part that is too much for me as well is the portrayal of the soldiers as brute, blood-thirsty, 20th century mariners. This was totally off and, once again, annoying. It seemed like Starfleet teaches one type of philosophy for superior officers and another 20th century-ish to the battlefield soldiers. And this corrupts and mocks the original philosophy.

Said that, I also agree that the magical mines were a poor choice, actually pathetic. And I totally think that Dominion over-written as having silly supwer-powers. Besides, it is also written in a poor one-dimensional way (the Borg were as well in the first appearances of TNG, but it was more reasonable as they were following a one-dimension one-line of program: to assimilate. Even though, they later gained more dimensions as well).
ES - Sun, Mar 2, 2014 - 1:37pm (USA Central)
The point is that human nature is human nature. That is kind of what Quark was saying. It doesn't matter hwta philosophy is taught in the academy. In real life situation and especially in their prolonged combat without reserves or break, human nature will assert itself.
Elliott - Sun, Mar 2, 2014 - 3:05pm (USA Central)
@ES:

That assertion is itself a philosophy, a cynical philosophy and one to which Trek diametrically opposed itself. As I said, rather than doing the responsible and respectful thing within the franchise and disagreeing with the philosophy on its own merits and faults, DS9 either ignored, parodied or circumvented the argument.

Cynicism was popular in the 90s and continues to be so today, though thankfully idealism seems to be resurfacing.
ES - Sun, Mar 2, 2014 - 3:34pm (USA Central)
It isn't a philosophy. It is human nature and the way we have always and will always be at our base self. Again, that is the point of the episode. Take away our creature comforts and we revert.
Elliott - Sun, Mar 2, 2014 - 3:39pm (USA Central)
Of course it's a philosophy! It isn't automatically true because you or anyone else says it is. It is one perspective on the human condition.
Ric - Mon, Mar 3, 2014 - 12:56am (USA Central)
@ES & Elliott:

Although I still don't see why having hard soldiers disrespects the francise, I do see how they being blood-thirsty does. And sorry, this is not in everybody's definition of human nature.

Besides, for god sake. Despite ES realizing it or not, his/her interpretation of human nature is precisely one of the most debated philosophies in the modern political thinking (i.e 17h to 19th centuries). One that pretty much didn't exist before the so called contractualists and one that have been criticized since then. Please, let's not try to naturalize what is one point of viewing - and certainly not the one Trek ever had before or after this episode.
Ric - Mon, Mar 3, 2014 - 1:43am (USA Central)
Btw it reminds me of one of the greatest debates between the contractualists. After Hobbes brought to light the most famous and powerful instalment of ES's viewing about the human nature, the also contractualist Rousseau (who had not exactly a super idealistic interpretation of human nature himself, contrarily to what people usually think) gave him back this: he suggested that Hobbes' idea of human nature was simply naturalizing what was the English reality of his century. That was the reception of the idea of human nature that ES thinks as natural, universal and not a philosophy. Rousseau is right. We keep naturalizing our mistakes sort of to justify as species all the sort of horrible things we still do. And in the end, mine criticismo (and also Elliott's as far as I've read) is similar: that DS9 is just extrapolating 20th reality to the future as Hobbes did with his state of nature. But sorry, I digress.
Andy's Friend - Mon, Mar 3, 2014 - 7:54am (USA Central)
@Elliott, ES, and Ric:

Interesting debate you’re having. If I’m allowed to make a few comments, it seems to me that what Elliott is saying is that the interesting take on ”The Siege of AR-558” would have been to have shown a number of Federation Gandhis, so to speak, having to fight a war they absolutely did not want to have to fight.

I agree that such an approach, not just in this episode, but on DS9 as a whole, would have been far more interesting than what we were given by the producers and the writers. But there is much more to it:

@Ric: ”From where did you conclude that [Starfleet] did not have a real military? It doesn't make sense with all the wars it has fought in previous Trek.”

There can be no doubt that the ”Enterprise”, as the Federation flagship, is consistently described in TNG as a vessel of exploration. ”Starfleet” is another word for NASA/ESA, and ”officers” is another word for astronauts, i.e., scientists. Rather tellingly, not only the ”Enterprise”, but also other vessels of other classes carry the scientists’ families aboard. And while some vessels are more specialized research vessels and others perform also diplomatic duties, nobody will ever convince me that the vessels we see in TNG are military vessels.

Federation vessels pack phasers and torpedoes because there are always asteroids and comets that need to be diverted or blown to pieces out there; there’s always a world you can help by drilling magma vents (or whatever) in their planet’s crust, or by altering the decaying orbit of one of their moons, and so on; and finally ― note that: finally ― because there are indeed a few space pirates out there. But I would argue that the Federation ships having phasers and torpedoes in TNG is as much for civilian uses than it is for self-defense: it does not make them military vessels. Nor does the military rank system Starfleet uses.

We shouldn’t forget that TOS' end product was, in many ways, also a product of its day. Kirk’s crew doesn’t behave the way any real crew would actually behave today – whether aboard an aircraft carrier or the NASA space shuttle ―, not to mention in the future. They act like a 1960s television crew would.

So TNG inherited some things from TOS it couldn’t easily have ignored. But in TNG we finally see a fully developed Federation/Starfleet credo of humanism and pacifism, non-interventionism, etc. It was already very much present in TOS, but in TNG, we finally see crews also behaving in a mostly convincing attempt at future behaviour and psychology patterns:

@ES: ” The point is that human nature is human nature…”
@Ric: ”...interpretation of human nature is precisely one of the most debated philosophies…”

Forget about philosophy for a moment, and just look at history: look at where we were in behavourial terms in 1314, 1664, and where we are today in 2014 ― and try to extrapolate to 2364.

As I’ve written elsewhere, look at how we treated criminals 350 years ago. Look at what were common sights in Europe: burning people alive, dragging them after a horse in the city streets until the horse was just pulling a bloody lump of flesh; impaling them alive; pulling them apart with horses while still alive, or breaking them up after they were executed, and then exposing their body parts in major city crossroads ― bridges, city gates, etc. Yes, there was a time ― until the mid 18th century ― when a child would have passed decaying corpses in the streets of Europe and seen barbaric executions as a matter of fact.

Much the same way, look at what was the reality in Charles’ Dickens day ― and look at how far we’ve come in little over a hundred years. Look at the changes in society regarding the way we treat the poor, the sick, the orphaned ― or issues such as race, gender, religion or sexuality. No one can deny that we have witnessed huge changes in mentality the past 350 years ― or even in the last century.

Can human nature be changed as well, after enough change to the mentality? That is to say, can human nature be subjugated, much like... the Vulcans control their nature? (What are the Vulcans in Star Trek, if not a symbol?)

In the late 24th century, if the evolution we’ve witnessed these last three hundred and fifty years continues, we’ll all be hugging trees and playing with teddy bears and little ponies. That’s the whole point of Star Trek, and especially TNG; Roddenberry’s TNG-Federation is, in a way, John Lennon’s ”Imagine” come true. Rather tellingly, our present-day astronauts are basically already hugging the proverbial cosmic trees and playing with cosmic teddy bears and little ponies: they’re increasingly nerdy scientists, and less and less military men. All the seeds to Roddenberry’s Federation are actually here, on the Earth, today.

Today we more and more often see people giving up perfectly good ― and well-paid ― ”respectable” jobs to embark on quests of ”self-realization”, usually involving some sort of artistic expression or spiritual journey. Money, for an ever-increasing part of the population in the most advanced countries in the world, isn’t really important anymore. Improving oneself is. The seeds of TNG are already here: it’s already happening.

If the trend continues, in the 24th century, astronauts will be nerdy scientists with some very big ships, and some very powerful sources of energy available, perhaps as weapons also ― but still they will be essentially men of science, not military men. And their society will probably be as as far from ours in terms of ethical behaviour as we are from people who lived three hundred and fifty years ago.

That’s the main point of TOS and TNG, and should have been the main point of all Star Trek since. In that respect, TOS and TNG were by far the most realistic sci-fi series ever: they were futuristic in that they attempted to depict a somewhat foreseeable future, not solely in terms of kewl gadgets, but also in terms of mentality changes.

In a real war situation, I doubt that the Federation in the TNG/DS9/VOY era would ever even land troops on a hostile planet: everything would be taken care of from orbit, by those magnificent scientists in their flying machines. In a way, we are also already seeing this today: look at the growing reluctance the Western militaries show in deploying ground combat troops anywhere in the world. What we "civilized" people want is satellite and electronic warfare, drones and remotely controlled machines. We are already witnessing all this today. We don’t want blood on our hands ― not literally, anyway.

I don’t believe the Federation of Picard’s and Sisko’s day would use anything other than robotic troops on the ground on hostile worlds. As such, ”The Siege of AR-558” is an epic fail: it’s a monumental failure to understand the social mechanics and the very underlying mentality that pervades the Federation and its citizens in the 2360s and 2370s as told in TNG.

But the ethical battles of men like Picard in a devastating war of survival would still have made good television, if the producers of DS9 insisted on the Dominion War. It would be interesting, as Elliott has pointed out, to see how these Federation humanists ― those magnificent scientists in their flying machines ― would fight a war they would abhorr having to fight. How would a highly ethical Picard-like character face the realities of the Dominion War? Unfortunately, I don’t know: that story was never told.

And how would primitive grunts fight ”The Siege of AR-558”? I honestly don’t care: it would never happen. Leave that to the robots. ”But we don’t know that the Federation has a droid army”, you say? My point exactly: the Federation has no army. And they would never send a bunch of 24th century humanists to the slaughter.

But if Starfleet could have built around a hundred starships between Wolf 359 in 2367 [39 vessels destroyed] and the battle of the Tyra system in 2374 [112 ships present], I'm betting they could have built many hundreds if not thousands of battle droids, thus avoiding having to put grunts in situations like this one. This episode is, really, nothing but a bad dream.
ES - Mon, Mar 3, 2014 - 12:28pm (USA Central)
"I do see how they being blood-thirsty does."

I never saw this.

I don't see it as philosophical. Look at how the US reacted to 9/11. All they wanted was blood and vengeance. Any improvement humanity thought it made within itself went right out the window. This happens on a regular enough basis that it is no longer philosophy.
Andy's Friend - Mon, Mar 3, 2014 - 1:42pm (USA Central)
^^^^
Sorry, ES, but that's not good enough. Human nature is only human nature to a certain point; we can control our instincs, and that's exactly why we have Vulcans in Star Trek. And in the case at hand, the debate is moot, and only possible due to extremely lazy writing. The Federation after 2371 would have built some robotic troops to deploy on places like AR-558, and this discussion would never arise. Only idiot admirals and idiot writers would dream of deploying human grunts against the Jem'Hadar. This is just lazy writing. As I said above, the whole episode's a bad dream.
Corey - Tue, Mar 4, 2014 - 9:44am (USA Central)
"Look at how the US reacted to 9/11."

The Federation isn't the US. The US has never stopped being a violent, Colonialist nation, which has covertly or overtly invaded/couped almost a hundred countries in the last hundred years, with a 5 billion dollar designed coup going on right now in Ukraine and Honduras.

The Federation's pushed past this, otherwise it wouldnt be the Federation.
ES - Tue, Mar 4, 2014 - 1:01pm (USA Central)
I guess we will have to agree to disagree. Humans will always be human.

Ric - Tue, Mar 4, 2014 - 1:55pm (USA Central)
@ES your position is "I don't think my own philosophic view about the human nature is only a philosophic view, is the ontological truth!". Or "humans will always be humans - in the way I think they will - and this is not a philosophy, it is the truth!". So be it. I will not keep debating like this. It is pointless, you will keep just repeating that humans will always be humans, as if this says something.

@Andy's Friend
There is no good reason to assert that Starfleet didn't have any ground soldiers for emergency defense in the past. It is not because we have been watching an explorer ship like Enterprise that having any small number of soldiers would a corruption of the Federation philosophy. This is bad logic: not seeing soldiers in na explorer ship is the obvious right? I mean, even in a scientific ship today you will usually not find military soldiers. Likewise, the fact that the mission of Starfleet is mostly one of exploration and science would not mean per se that the Federation wouldn't need soldiers for defense.

On the contrary, it is quite reasonable that after fighting so many wars, begining with the one against the Klingons in the past, Federation or Starflleet had some soldiers for defense. Example: what if a Federation planet is invaded? I know, you will reply that robots would make more sense. I will come back this in a minute. Anyway, not having the robots as we know they didn't, in your interpretation every battle in their wars were fought by astronauts, to stick to your comparison with the current NASA? It does not make sense. Do not get me wrong, I am not saying that Starfleet has any major military objectives, nor that it would be normal to have normal warfare within their philosophy (the first warship was the Defiant, btw). I am just stating that having a few soldiers for defense pourpose is not inherently absurd with their philosophy.

A quick pause: btw, you have mentioned Ghandi. Despite how much I admire Ghandi, and I do, I really think that at this point, people should have knwon better about political movements they think were pacific like Ghandi's and Mandela's, but they were not. That said, I totally agree that the canonical philosophy of Federation was pacifist, idealistic, for scientific exploration. Not this genocide-friendly portrayed in the last seasons of DS9.

Lastly, the robots you have mentioned. It is really amusing how you think having soldiers is nonsense for a Starfleet in war for centuries, but you don't think having robots is absurd in a Starfleet where no robot has ever been seen. Think about it. Do you see any robots in Trek's Starfleet or Federation, besides Data who was the first cyborg? I mean, not only soldier-robots, do you see any? But much more important than that, do you really think that having robots in the future battlefields (or drones today) would really solve the "blood-thirsty" moral issue Elliott and I were talking about? Of course it would not. It would only shift its location. It does not matter if they were human soldiers or robot soldiers in the ground this episode, but the fact that they were employed in a ground battle and, for me, how they were portrayed. It could have been robots beeing commanded in a brute way and the same problem would arise. As in current real life, it does not matter, morally speaking, whether we invade Iraq with human soldiers or drones, but the invasions itself and, after taht, what the human soldiers or the drones will do there.

@Corey You brought a fair logical point. The Federation is defined as being different from what ES believes is the only way possible for humanity to be, no matter if we even believe it is possible to.
ES - Tue, Mar 4, 2014 - 10:27pm (USA Central)
"The Federation is defined as being different from what ES believes is the only way possible for humanity to be, no matter if we even believe it is possible to."

The Federation in peace time, perhaps. Again, as Quark said, take away their creature comforts...
Elliott - Wed, Mar 5, 2014 - 9:37am (USA Central)
You know, it's quite frustrating that so many Trek fans (rightfully) criticise episodes like "Genesis" and "Threshold" for totally botching biological evolution and making it seem silly, but are essentially Creationists when it comes to psychological evolution, maintaining that the human species is a fixed, unchanging and created form, and that suggesting otherwise is somehow blasphemous.

Look, Star Trek is a period piece. If a film-maker depicted the Battle of Hastings or 1812 or the siege of Pompeii with characters which were clearly lifted from the film-maker's contemporary life, should we not criticise the historical inaccuracy? Would we not find his casting and characterisation lazy and uncreative? Would not the illusion be broken by attitudes and speech which clearly didn't belong the the time period being depicted? The same is true for speculative fiction as for historical fiction; these characters and settings are nearly 400 years in the future and the conventions by which we judge our contemporary morality, military policy and general disposition as a species don't suit this future, especially when it had already been established precisely how (speculatively of course) those things had changed.
Andy's Friend - Wed, Mar 5, 2014 - 11:43am (USA Central)
@Ric: Thank you very much for your reply. Your comments deserve further comments, I think. So here we go:

1 ―― You mention the Federation “fighting so many wars, begining with the one against the Klingons in the past”:

You’re right, of course. But I think it’s important to differentiate between what we see in TOS, and what we see in TNG a hundred years later. What exactly do we learn in the early seasons of TNG has happened in the 24th century? The Klingons and the Federation have maintained an uneasy peace since the Khitomer Accords of 2293; the Romulans haven’t been heard from since the Tomed Incident and the Treaty of Algeron of 2311; only with the Cardassians have there been recent conflicts. But the clashes with the Cardassians are portrayed as minor: the number of known incidents are very few, as is the number of ships involved. Tellingly, the ships involved appear to have mostly operated alone (Maxwell’s “Rutledge”, and Picard’s “Stargazer”), not in combined fleets. All in all, the Cardassian War was little more than a series of border skirmishes and attacks on isolated outposts. This was not a major war in any way.

The conclusion is that very little fighting actually took place in the 24th century before the Dominion War. Starfleet numbers were rather modest throughout TNG. Compare Wolf 359 to the grand fleets we see in DS9… This leads us to:


2 ―― You mention several times “ground soldiers for emergency defense” / ”having any small number of soldiers” / “soldiers for defense” / ”some soldiers for defense. Example: what if a Federation planet is invaded?”

I think you’re right to mention ”ground soldiers for emergency defence”, and I’m pretty sure that many (most?) Federation worlds would have some sort of small Home Defence Army ― exactly what you write: “any small number of soldiers” “for emergency defence”, in case for example “a Federation planet is invaded”, or any catastrophic emergency. But what do your own words suggest? That the Federation Home Defence Armies probably amount more to the Kansas and Arkansas National Guards than to the US Marine Corps. They would be, in all probability, home defence forces; not expeditionary corps.

But AR-558 cannot be considered ”emergency defence”. AR-558 was taken by the Federation because of the Dominion communications array there. Those men in this episode were sent there, to hold it and defend it against vastly superior ground troops ― the Jem’Hadar.

Now, if you want to take and secure a very specific, heavily defended enemy position, you don’t send in the National Guard. You send in special operations forces. And all I’m saying is that the special forces of the 24th century would be robotic. What we see in this episode is not consistent with Federation philosophy or technology. Why? Let’s see my next comments:


3 ―― ”It is really amusing how you think having soldiers is nonsense for a Starfleet in war for centuries…”

As we have seen, during the 24th century prior to the Dominion War Starfleet has only briefly been at war with the Cardassians. Nevertheless, I don’t think having soldiers is nonsense for the Federation ― as the emergency defence forces you suggested. But I don’t believe for a minute that the Geordi La Forge soldiers and the Julian Bashir infantrymen of the 2360s and 2370s would volunteer to be sent to a place like AR-558 to be butchered by Jem’Hadar. And I firmly believe that Starfleet would avoid sending humans to a place like that in the first place, exactly to avoid making monsters of them.

I believe that the Federation by the late 24th century quite simply respects its citizens too much to put them in this kind of situation. No one is expendable. And similarly, I believe that the Federation citizens by the late 24th century quite simply wouldn’t want to participate in warfare other than necessary emergency defence. Any serious, offensive ground warfare would, by the late 24th century, involve remotely operated devices, drones, and robotic forces for sure. Unless it couldn’t be avoided, as in say, a huge invasion of Earth, Starfleet would never, I believe, send human beings off to some far away Stalingrad ― or AR-558. That reason alone is enough for me to call this episode lazy writing. Let’s look at little closer at this:


4 ―― ”…but you don't think having robots is absurd in a Starfleet where no robot has ever been seen”.

I think I know what you mean, and unfortunately, that is Star Trek’s fault. What is absurd is sending human troops against a vastly superior foe. We in the West wouldn’t do it today. We certainly wouldn’t be doing it 350 years from now, in a society as ethically and technologically advanced as the one we saw in TNG.

We must remember that TOS was a TV series with a limited budget. That is one of the things I meant with the problems that TNG inherited from TOS. TNG was able to slightly correct some of those limitations, much the same way The Motion Picture altered the way the Klingons look, for example. But Star Trek never had the kind of money necessary for showing non-sentient robots in the series. Coming up with alien props was demanding enough; imagine robots that could actually move. So…


5 ―― …continuing, you also ask: “Do you see any robots in Trek's Starfleet or Federation...?”

No, I don’t. Because as I just said, TOS and TNG didn’t have the money, and (perhaps for that reason) essentially chose to focus on humans: telling stories about the human condition. There are a few episodes of TOS that contemplate the artificial intelligence question, but robots are basically never seen. Do we believe, however, that in Picard’s day there are no robots in the Federation? I don’t. I believe that we just don’t see them, because the stories are about other issues ― us (and the series didn’t have the Star Wars budget needed for droids, anyway).

Now, would it make sense to see some robots in action in a war? Yes, it would; TNG just (wisely) never showed an actual war on the ground, thus fundamentally avoiding the whole issue.

And would it make sense, even if the Federation never had used droids in their previous conflicts, to design some battle droids of sorts against the superior Jem’Hadar? Yes, it would. It would have been the right thing to do from a military perspective. And it would also have been the right thing to do from an ethical perspective. And it could have led to much more interesting philosophical and ethical questions. The failure of DS9 to write such other stories, instead of giving us this WWII cliché, is exactly that: a failure.

Now, I’m not saying that we should rewrite all Star Trek backstory in order to field a Star Wars-like droid army. Not at all. Also, I understand what the writers of this episode were trying to say with this particular story. But the problem is exactly that: as Quark so aptly says, ”But take away their creature comforts...”

This is at the core of the issue here. What Quark says is true of a great many people today. Not all people: there are actually a few Organians living and walking among us. But it is probably true of most people today; look at what happened in Yugoslavia, for example.

The writers in this episode are trying to tell us that it will also be so in the late 24th century. ES in this thread formulates it slightly differently: ”Humans will always be humans”. I don’t agree with ES' particular statement, but I understand Quark’s argument.

The point is, *if* Quark is right about us, *if* Quark knows it to be true, we must assume that everybody must know this. Quark cannot possibly be the only one with this insight into human nature.

And my complaints against this episode are all related to this. As I stated above, the Federation respects its citizens. Starfleet does not want to make monsters of men. And Federation citizens respect themselves. The men themselves do not want to make monsters of themselves. We all know today of the mental injuries suffered by soldiers in war. Quark knows it in this episode in the 24th century. Doesn’t Starfleet Command know, and care? They seemed to do in TNG. They don’t in DS9.

That is the major problem. Admittedly, the Dominion War is on a wholly different order of magnitude altogether than the Cardassian Wars. But this only makes it even more absurd to put humans in this situation, and makes this episode even more grotesquely implausible. We are already doing everything we can today to avoid putting our soldiers in harm’s way; in fact, we’re doing everything we can to avoid having to send in ground troops at all, preferring anything from satellite and aircraft reconnaissance to air strikes, guided missiles, cruise missiles, drones, and what not. This is what we already see today. And now the writers of this episode are trying me make me believe that 350 years from now we would send ground troops against vastly superior alien forces. This is totally absurd.

I normally accept whatever Star Trek serves us as canonical ― the big exception being VOY’s “Threshold”, which was clearly someone’s bad dream. But the whole way DS9 chose to depict a major war is absurd. This isn’t a 24th century Federation conflict: it’s WWII. Yes, we would probably see some kind of “naval” battles again in the 24th century, with huge ships attacking each other as in Midway. But no, we would not land troops on Omaha Beach again.

Maybe Quark is right. Just maybe. Maybe 350 years isn’t enough to make perfect Organians of all of us. Maybe *some* of us would revert to some primitive, “blood-thirsty” condition in situations like on AR-558. Maybe; I don’t know. But that is part of the point: by not sending human ground troops, the Federation would eliminate the problem altogether. The message of this episode should thus have been told in a different way altogether, not by putting 24th century Federation troops in an unrealistic WWII scenario. That is just absurd. That is why I call this lazy writing.

Please note that I believe also that any other species/civilization that had undergone a technological and ethical development such as ours as seen in TNG would also fight their wars in absentia, so to speak: with surrogate armies, with non-sentient machines in lieu of sentient, living beings. Only civilizations with a conspicuous warrior ethos ― such as the Klingons ― would have any reason to still put their citizens in situations of chaos, mayhem, destruction and despair.

I understand that TNG had neither the money nor the inclination to involve the Federation in a major war, and wisely avoided doing so. Unfortunately, DS9 had the inclination to show the Federation engaged in major warfare, but didn’t have the money to do it realistically, according to the technology and philosophy of the Federation: with robotic armies. So instead, we get episodes like this, with WWII warfare and WWII moral lessons. And that’s just… lazy writing.


6 ―― Finally, as you very well ask: ”But much more important than that, do you really think that having robots in the future battlefields (or drones today) would really solve the "blood-thirsty" moral issue Elliott and I were talking about?”

No, not the ”blood-thirsty” issue. Not if the robots were, as you suggest, ”commanded in a brute way”. But by removing the human grunts from this absurd battlefield, it would force the writers to be somewhat more imaginative in their attempt to tell us this message, and deal with the moral issues you and Elliott were talking about. And that would possibly make a much better, more thought-provoking story. Or at least a less absurd one.

Please note therefore that I am not advocating a droid army episode. I just want a story that is coherent with the values of the Federation and the technologies of the 24th century, even if on a limited TV budget. I am normally very aware of, and very forgiving, when it comes to budgetary considerations, because I know Star Trek is of course limited by the value of budgets almost as much as by the talent of the writers. I choose to see Star Trek as parables and allegories ― Elliott’s ”myths” ― and cannot understand the criticisms of some commenters that are wholly budget-related. In this case, featuring a George Lucas-style droid army was of course out of the question. Deploying human grunts, however, is absurd bordering on insulting. If you can’t afford some robots, don’t try to sell us a ridiculous story involving human troops; use your head, be imaginative, figure out another way of telling the story. In TNG we had ”The Wounded”, and “The Pegasus”, for instance. In VOY we had ”Equinox”. In BSG we had another “Pegasus”, and a fantastic one at that. There are many ways of telling similar stories.

That did not happen. Instead, we got this very banal episode, which a few people might mistake for ”deep” and “thoughtful”, but is really nothing that hasn’t been told dozens of times before, and much more convincingly, because those have been more realistic, 20th century stories with 20th century people in 20th century conflicts. As I said, this is just lazy writing.

Anyway, thanks for your reply; I hope this now has clarified my views :)
Corey - Thu, Mar 6, 2014 - 9:31am (USA Central)
"I guess we will have to agree to disagree. Humans will always be human."

Yeah, that's why I still rape kids and own slaves. Because it was normal and socially acceptable long ago.

Andy's Friend - Thu, Mar 6, 2014 - 10:10am (USA Central)
@Corey: ""I guess we will have to agree to disagree. Humans will always be human."

Yeah, that's why I still rape kids and own slaves. Because it was normal and socially acceptable long ago."

-- I promise you this, Corey: if you steal any of my slaves, I'll personally flog and then hang you, and I'll let your body hang for all to see. That is and always will be the only way to treat a criminal who steals other men's rightful property. [What are you saying, woman?!] Sorry, have to go now, my woman is whining about something, have to go and smack her and make her shut up.
ES - Thu, Mar 6, 2014 - 12:52pm (USA Central)
Corey, if you think that that was a well thought out comparison, then we really don't have much to discuss.
Andy's Friend - Thu, Mar 6, 2014 - 1:06pm (USA Central)
@ES: "Corey, if you think that that was a well thought out comparison, then we really don't have much to discuss."

I'm not Corey, but whether his analogy is 100% accurate or not isn't the point. The point is that mentalities change, and given enough time, even our most basic reactions and instincts also change. Take away our creature comforts, and we won't behave like we did 5,000 years ago. Take away our creature comforts, and many of us won't behave like we did 500 years ago. If the present evolution continues, take away our creature comforts 500 years from now...
Corey - Thu, Mar 6, 2014 - 8:17pm (USA Central)
"Corey, if you think that that was a well thought out comparison, then we really don't have much to discuss."

I think the comparison is valid.

"Take away our creature comforts, and many of us won't behave like we did 500 years ago."

Exactly. There's a reason the US military loses about 30 soldiers to suicide a day, and that tens of thousands of troops commited suicide after Vietnam. We even know that most soldiers in war time purposefully dont shoot the enemy (they deliberately miss) and that most killings during wars are done by a small majority. Often, it is simply ideology and superstition (religious, political, economic or otherwise) which sanctions things like mass killings, witch burnings, xenophobia and so forth, though of course not always.
Ric - Thu, Mar 6, 2014 - 10:33pm (USA Central)
@Andy's Friend I am the one who thank you for the detailed response. This has been a nice debate. You understood my point: I think Federation or Starfleet having only small defense teams of ground soldiers is not exactly a corruption of their philosophy. For localized defense. What I would only add is that I also think it was not exactly too absurd to see some of these guys sent to defend an important facility conquered from the enemy during time of emergency. Like a factory of clones or something.

Again, although I dislike the concept, I just don't think it is atrocious to previous Federation. In fact, think of it: you yourself seem to agree that the Federation and Starfleet have to fight ground battles, have to send someone to take important strategic points in the ground during war. I.e. have to fight specific battles for defense purposes. Your only disagreement is that they have sent humans. I mean, differently from Elliott, for instance, your main problem is not the Federation fighting the war on ground, but fighting with humans. Is more a matter of scientific plausibility than a moral dillema.

Btw, regarding the robots, I should say two things. First, I understood your argument abount budget constrains and I find it to be valid. Even though, one could easily especulate that there may be also moral dilemas in using robots for whatever task wone thinks. In fact, they already exist even today. So I do not know if not having robots in Star Trek is merely a budget issue or a deeper decision as well. That is an interesting question for future debate and one we should search for when we have time. However, in any case, I still think that since you agree that they should need special ground forces for some very special and rare ocasions, the robots would only displace the problem. The moral dilema for me would remain the same. How to fight emergency ground battles, with which behavior.

But now, I totally agree that it would have been a great episode if they had robots or something and discussed what we do with these robots. I mean, it would have been a much cleverer episode. The issue is that it seems that we are asking writers in the 1990s to debate issues from our current time :)
Who knows in a future Star Trek show... I would love to see this drone debate addressed.
In any case, if they at least have discusse in the episode what we are discussing here, i.e. if they have showed de moral dillema faced by the soldiers on the ground to have to do this job that does not fit their philosphy very easily, instead of showing the brute 20th century US mariners....

@ES and @Corey & @Andy's Friend Hahaha actually Corey brought an amusing provocative comparison. And the ironic examples that followed were really fun. But in a serious tone, the really juicy one was Corey's last reply with the war examples. On average, humans behave differently today even in wars. Yes, certainly we see a lot of crap being done in a lot of wars. American soldiers have been doing horrible unthinkable things throughout the world. But even though, the fact that some people can still do the same things humanity used to 1000 years ago does not mean that on average we still do the same from 1000 years ago.

There is a huge difference between the average, or the majority, and individual or minority cases. I mean, if, say, 10% of humanity behave like 1000 years ago, we cannot claim that the whole species is still the same in general, in a whole or as a tendency.

Lastly, well, if taking away confort and stuff makes people (and institutions, what is a diferente matter, but let it be) behave like in the Hobbesian philosophy (which we've learned here that is not a philosophy but the ontological truth...), why the hell the Federation and Starfleet themselves did not change during all the many wars and military crises they have faced before and after DS9? My guess: in reality they were not humans.
NCC-1701-Z - Sat, Mar 15, 2014 - 11:11am (USA Central)
I do have some quibbles from a plot standpoint so I'll get those out of the way first:

-Has no one in the Federation heard of artillery? Or tanks? Or bazookas/mortars/heavy weaponry? Or at least 50-caliber machine gun emplacements (well, their phaser equivalent but you get the point)? Or air support? As pointed out in above comments, robotic soldiers/drones or at least robotic assistants would have come in real handy here. They could have at least said 'All our heavy weaponry was destroyed in battle, we're down to small arms' or something like that.
-Speaking of weapons, what happened to the spread setting on phasers that has been around since TOS days? Not using the 'disintegrate' setting can at least be explained by them wanting to conserve power, but given the ground situation I would have ordered the troops to use the spread setting at longer ranges, just to mow down as many Jem'Hadar as possible before resorting to hand-to-hand combat, and switch to regular beam at close range.
-Speaking of Jem'Hadar, I'd like to know how they pose such a huge threat to the Federation based on their tactics here, which essentially boil down to 'charge right towards armed soldiers and get shot'. Maybe they just had a huge number advantage but it still seems like such a waste to me.
-Couldn't the Dominion just bomb the Feds from orbit? Granted they'd want to preserve their comm array but it still bothers me.
-Bashir playing 'I'll Be Seeing You' was effective from an atmospheric standpoint, but downright stupid from a tactical standpoint. As a soldier, you want to be able to hear anything that might indicate how close the enemy is and how many there are.


Don't get me wrong, I still loved this episode and this is one of my all time favorite DS9 eps. Granted, this isn't exactly Roddenberry-ideal territory, but it's still done very well. The atmosphere was very effective throughout, and the characters feel much more substantial than your average redshirt. Quark and Nog's discussion on the human condition was very provoking (maybe because it's unlike anything we've heard in any of the other Trek series), and it was quite a shock to see Nog lose his leg afterward since Trek almost always goes to such lengths to keep the status quo intact. Not so much DS9, though.

The battle was very effective from a purely visceral standpoint despite the plot holes outlined above, and I'm inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt. It's brutal to see the somewhat nice guys Vargas and Kellin get killed while the more-than-slightly unstable Reese lives but that only more effectively demonstrates the mindless brutality of war.

Note: Some people might ask why Sisko didn't bring down someone with more combat experience like Kira or Worf. On Memory Alpha, it says "The writers specifically chose Nog, Ezri, Quark, and Bashir as the central characters for this episode because they had the least fighting experience. Characters like Kira, Worf, and O'Brien were purposely left out of the fighting, as they all had combat experience and knew how to handle themselves in such a situation. The writers, however, were more keen on seeing the reactions of people who didn't know how to handle themselves."
In that sense, I guess it was effective, but I would have liked to see Worf or Kira join the party to be sort of a mentor to the others. It would have been a nice move IMO.
Bravestarr - Mon, Apr 21, 2014 - 11:17am (USA Central)
Anyone notice how brainwashed Nog is? This kid eats, breathes, and shits Starfleet. He's the kind of guy who'd think a fun night of relaxing involves going over the latest Starfleet regulations. As Vic Fontaine would put it, he's a square. I was literally whooping for joy when he got shot. Take that you little bastard!!

Seriously though, his uncle comes up on the bridge to see him and what does he do? Blow him off and then apologize to the captain for his uncle. I'd be ashamed of a family member for treating me like that, even if you were on duty.

Nog doesn't deserve to be anywhere near the bridge and frankly, he doesn't deserve to be on the show.
eastwest101 - Wed, May 28, 2014 - 6:16pm (USA Central)
A gruelling and effective episode, well directed, does not try to do too much and only veers into cliches occasionally, seems to be DS9s version of Platoon, but it all worked well enough for me, albeit has been done better in other places. Again - the musical score really helped.
Phillip - Sat, Jun 14, 2014 - 2:28am (USA Central)
BRAVESTARR, I completely agree with you. I hate nog. Quark was obviously scared and nog treats him like crap. Someone should tell him that being loyal to your family is also important in life. At one point he says ferengi just run and hide. On tng the ferengi have a military and don't run and hide. Nog seems to know nothing about his people except when the writers want him to be good at finding things. He treats Jake the same way in a few episodes. Like that episode where nog is fooled into joining a crew of kids and jake points out that the captain is crazy. Nog goes off about how jake could never understand what it means go be a soldier and of course jake is proven correct. I don't understand the nog love from ds9 fans. He's an ass
Nonya - Thu, Jun 26, 2014 - 11:12am (USA Central)
This episode was boring, melodramatic, and not well executed. It speaks to the ability of pretentious emotion to somehow trick people into thinking that something like this is entertaining.

The music was too much, the side actors were meh, Nog is unlikable as always, and I just don't care.
Robert - Thu, Jun 26, 2014 - 2:26pm (USA Central)
@Nonya - Are you trolling. Do you like any of DS9? And if not, why are you watching (have watched) 7 years of it??
Latex Zebra - Mon, Jul 7, 2014 - 6:12pm (USA Central)
Responding to an old comment but it bugs me a little. Elliot stating the Federation shouldn't be very good soldiers.
They've had their share of wars to deal with and knowing that you don't send starships out into the unknown with people who don't know one end of a phaser from another.
Picard and many others love a bit of target practise with their phasers. The whole federation seems trained in some kick arse mixed martial arts that utilises the double hand blow to the extreme. War games, battle simulations, pugil stick battles etc, etc, etc. This is the behaviour of a people that come in peace but will kick your arse if you get all up in their grill.
Elliott - Mon, Jul 7, 2014 - 6:48pm (USA Central)
@Latex Zebra :

Trek-fu aside, I think Riker's line sums it up :

"combat skills [are] a minor province in the makeup of a Starfleet officer."

To possess the skills of fighting well for a few minutes is not the same as having the psychological wherewithal to endure prolonged combat.
Latex Zebra - Wed, Jul 9, 2014 - 2:30pm (USA Central)
Minor yes but none the less important enough for Picard to agree to the excerise to 'hone their skills' in light of the Borg threat.

These starfleets officers have been honing their skills for months in appalling conditions. Whilst I agree, as said previously, some of the characters are a little ott or chilched, I don't think it is unreasonable for the groups skills to develop over time or that they would have a decent skillset to begin with. If they were crap they'd be long dead.
Every space battle would have been over in seconds and the Federation would have long been overun by hostile forces. They'd never even got as far as the Dominion, the Klingon's would have eaten them years before.

A peace keeping organisation still needs to know how to defend itself. So yes it is a minor province of the make up of Starfleet officer. That doesn't mean it isn't something they don't give their best too. As displayed with Riker's performance in that episode.
Elliott - Wed, Jul 9, 2014 - 5:09pm (USA Central)
@Latex Zebra :

Hmm, I see your point. But, I don't object to the officers developing skills (they are the best of the best after all), more to the psychological endurance they exhibit. Soldiers nowadays go through intensive psychological training and preparation and STILL develop PTSD after tours as short as only a few months. Starfleet officers, whose military training, no matter how expert, is only a fraction of their overall skill-sets, should be traumatised to the point of utter dysfunction. It isn't a question of possessing tactics, weaponry or combat expertise, it's having the *mind* of a hardened soldier which I object to. If the writers really wanted to comment on Roddenberry's prediction of human evolution, this would have been a great place to show how humanity essentially traded in its wartime survivalism (for better AND worse, in this case) for a more evolved sensibility. If could have shown that there is indeed a price to pay for this evolution, but instead, again, we have 20th-century humans with phasers and warp drive.
Sean - Wed, Jul 30, 2014 - 1:18am (USA Central)
Elliott, not all Starfleet officers are scientists. There are engineers, doctors, tactical officers, and yes, security officers whose sole job is to keep people safe with military training. The Starfleet officers in this battle are mostly of those later variety, security officers. That is why they joined Starfleet, what they are trained to do. To fight and defend. However, we do see other officers: engineers who are scared and ineffectual at fighting. They aren't trained as well in combat and so aren't prepared for it when it happens. As you say they should be.

Starfleet is a sort of NASA/Military hybrid. It is primarily a scientific exploration organization, but it also functions as a military. Notice that this is not the first time Starfleet has fought a war. And this is not the last. They've fought Romulans in the 22nd century, Klingons on and off for hundreds of years, and the Borg several times including the infamous Wolf 359. Starfleet is not ineffectual in its military duties. Yes, it is more of a science organization, but that doesn't mean it's a slouch on military.
Elliott - Thu, Jul 31, 2014 - 2:50am (USA Central)
@Sean: as I said before, the issue I take is with the psychological endurance in this extreme circumstance. We have every indication that the Dominion War is more of a drain on Starfleet's resources than either the Klingon or Cardassian Wars. The whole premise of this episode relies on the idea that Starfleet is at unprecedented levels of desperation (thus why replacement personnel had not arrived in so long).
Sean - Fri, Aug 15, 2014 - 5:44am (USA Central)
Humans are no slouches when it comes to psychological endurance. Especially if they're trained to fight. Soldiers in extreme circumstances are quite capable when they need to be. And, of course, non-humans as well. Although most of the people in this episode are human. They could have done with a Vulcan in this episode, that's for sure.
Yanks - Thu, Aug 21, 2014 - 7:26pm (USA Central)
Wow, I'll review this tomorrow.

I still say Gene would have approved of DS9.

We didn't start the "war" with the Borg, but we fought it. The ever proper Picard lost it in the battle process as well. If it weren't for Lilly, he might have just lost the battle in FC. Hell, Picard was going to infect Hugh and commit genocide until he heard him say "I".

We didn't start the war in DS9 either. Does anyone for a moment think the Founders could have been talked out of imposing order on the Alpha Quadrant?

DS9 showed us how humans react to war in the 24th century. And the simple fact is, we all will do anything to protect what is ours, and our families. So episodes like ITPM are realistic. All Star Trek incarnations did this. Kirk attacked a Romulan war bird to protect our posts and prevent a war. Picard attacked the Borg, Janeway battled the Borg and Archer Battled the Xindi. The difference is DS9 actually had to deal with a war.

This episode, in the universe that has Jem'Hadar and Klingons as ground soldiers required the Federation to respond in kind. I personally do not think ground soldiers would ever be necessary in the 24th century where star ships are commonplace, but that's not the setting we were given. So this episode is pertinent and situations like this could happen.

While Star Trek is not dystopian, it's not utopian either aside from Earth.

See you guys tomorrow, my Steelers are on.
Yanks - Fri, Aug 22, 2014 - 11:51am (USA Central)
"QUARK: Maybe, but I still don't want you anywhere near them. Let me tell you something about humans, nephew. They're a wonderful, friendly people as long as their bellies are full and their holosuites are working. But take away their creature comforts, deprive them of food, sleep, sonic showers, put their lives in jeopardy over an extended period of time, and those same friendly, intelligent, wonderful people will become as nasty and as violent as the most bloodthirsty Klingon. You don't believe me? Look at those faces. Look in their eyes. You know I'm right, don't you? Well? Aren't you going to say something?"

So, why do we get Quark in this episode and why do we get him saying stuff like this? I think he brings some more realism to this episode. It's not only a statement to Nog to make him maybe open his eyes to what it REALLY means to be a soldier and what by default you may be transformed, but it's a statement to us to bring the soldier/ground troops segment of the war front and center.

This episode aptly depicts war/battle worn/hardened soldiers that have been "on the lines" too long. This makes me think of WWII and the Battle of the Bulge. US soldiers served in the front lines without relief for longer than 5 months to include horrid winter conditions.

It's not so much about the battle as it is about the people in those situations and the decisions they are forced to make. The landscape provides the stage for the impending battle. You can say that’s convenient, but think about it. If it had been any different the Jem’Hadar would have retaken the comm array long ago. They always win the numbers game. It probably makes sense that the comm array is located where it is. It’s an easier position to defend.

There were a couple “tough choices” in this one. First, Sisko’s choice to remain was a huge one. That took some serious guts and was the right choice. They needed numbers. Plain and simple. Even adding inexperienced Star Fleet personnel (not ground troops) was better than leaving these soldiers with an unwinnable task. The presence of “Houdini’s” posed the other. The "Houdini’s" were immoral when they were used by the Jem'Hadar, but once they were figured out they had no choice but to use them to survive. Obviously it had to be done, but it was still a revealing choice to make. War isn’t about the easy choices, it’s about the hard ones. I commend Sisko for making both of these hard decisions.

Nog ends up losing a leg and despite Quark’s constant input, what does he do? He apologizes to his Captain for not getting the job done and takes responsibility for the death of Larkin. Say what you want about Nog, but don’t you dare pigeonhole him as soft, undedicated or unmotivated. I’m very impressed with him. The only thing he lacks is experience. The kid has heart.

I’ll nit-pic this one issue: The Jem’Hadar sending in holograms doesn’t seem realistic. The terrain already forced the conflict to a small area. I don’t think this stunt would have revealed anything anyone with half a brain couldn’t have deduced.

“Hold” is the order. Not like any battle our heroes have sustained or fought before in the series. No chance to fight then retreat, no chance to just outsmart your opponent, no chance to out maneuver them. No shades of grey. Hold, or die.

So the battle ensues…. First the Houdini’s do their part (which was pretty damned eerie) then they fight them off from a distance, then in close hand to hand combat. Of course, we lose SF personnel we just met and our heroes win the day. But this wasn’t just a bunch of ships plowing through other ships, these were people fighting and dying. PEOPLE. I’ve always wondered what the Jem’Hadar loss numbers were. Cannon fodder comes to mind. Even Quark has to gun one Jem’Hadar down.

This episode does everything it needs to do. I got the feeling what I was watching was real. It meant something. That doesn’t happen too often in any series, not just Trek or DS9.

“Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men. It is the spirit of men who follow and of the man who leads that gains the victory.” George S. Patton

(replacements arrive)
Reese refers t to them as childrenn.

“Not for long.” Benjamin Lafayette Sisko

4 Stars.
WCrusher - Tue, Aug 26, 2014 - 5:33pm (USA Central)
This is where ST really started to tank...
The same pro-military, anti-trek issues dogging this ep as did on much of ENT.
Nog has been completely brainwashed by military dogma. And everyone is ok with it? (Except Quark to some extension)
Did he have his mind completely wiped by some wicked starfleet computer system? He doesn't even act like a ferengi anymore at all, more the opposite. The character is so changed now the ferengi makeup has become an annoyance. Parrallel to the real world as of now, Starfleet has made Nog the perfect suicidebomber/kamikazepilot/nazi soldier. But hey, in the new Trek, military brainwashing is fine!

1 star

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