Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Air date: 2/1/1993
Teleplay by Jill Sherman Donner and Michael Piller
Story by Jill Sherman Donner
Directed by Corey Allen
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
When the first visitor from the Gamma Quadrant comes through the wormhole, O'Brien befriends the mysterious alien (Scott MacDonald), known only as Tosk. Some of the crew suspects Tosk's unclear motives, especially when Odo catches him trying to access the weapons locker. But when another ship comes looking for Tosk, it's revealed that he is the prey in a highly honored cultural hunt—much to the ire of Commander Sisko, but presented as an issue that's treated fairly by the script.
While the episode has its origins in the action-adventure genre, much of what makes it a winner is the infectious friendship evident in the scenes between Tosk and O'Brien. MacDonald's portrayal of Tosk, while not the best in line delivery, exhibits body language that conveys his sense of wonder at the Alpha Quadrant. Colm Meaney turns in an amiable performance in his first vehicle on DS9. The alien hunters, unfortunately, aren't very compelling (and their costumes are quite hokey), but Tosk is a success because of the good makeup design and, more important, his appropriate interaction with his situation. O'Brien's decision to ignore Sisko and the Prime Directive in order to "change the rules" of the hunt and help Tosk escape is a noble act that rings true. Sisko's way of letting O'Brien help Tosk—and then calling O'Brien in for a chew-out as the job demands after the fact—is also quite gratifying. Overall, it's not an inspired concept, but it's nicely conveyed and characterized.
Previous episode: Babel
Next episode: Q-Less
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76 comments on this post
Sun, Nov 6, 2011, 11:23am (UTC -5)
That's the trouble with these stories...powerful aliens are introduced and then ignored.
Mon, Jun 4, 2012, 9:40pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jun 4, 2012, 10:53pm (UTC -5)
Someone should write a show with a "magnificent 7" lineup of a hirogen, a Klingon, a Tosk, a Jem Hadar, a Nossican, and human soldier, and a Ferengi for comic relief.
Tue, Jul 24, 2012, 10:49pm (UTC -5)
This episode always stuck with me. It's not great, but pretty good. I'm sorry Tosk or some other Tosk didn't come back.
You always were left to wonder how these first Gamma Quadrant aliens fit in with the Dominion. There must have been regions of the Gamma Q not under their influence.
Sun, Aug 5, 2012, 7:58am (UTC -5)
What lets the episode down, for me, is the villains of the piece (ostensibly), The Hunters - Gerrit Graham's an underrated actor, but their dialogue makes them one-dimensional - also, given Sisko's flagrant defiance of them, there seems no repercussions in later episodes (although I grant that's most likely due to the fact this is designed as a standalone premise)
That said, this is another commendable effort - The sisko/O'Brien scene at the end is powerful, and the concept,although not exactly earth -shattering plays out well. Another good effort, meriting 3 stars....
Mon, Aug 20, 2012, 11:48pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Sep 11, 2012, 8:48pm (UTC -5)
I'm not sure there is a bad Chief-centric episode, now that I think about it.
Sun, Apr 7, 2013, 9:11pm (UTC -5)
But what is bothering me after five episodes is how blase everyone is about the wormhole. That's the GAMMA quadrant! This is the first new species to come through! I cannot believe everyone on the station wasn't lining up to meet Tosk. I was fascinated by him and I know it's fiction--if it were real, wouldn't people be a bit more awe-struck?
I also find it surprising that people aren't just itching to jump on ships and get out there. I understand that transports have gone through apparently, but it didn't sound that important. Shouldn't a major exploration fleet be going?
Still loving it, but I am afraid I may have to skip reading others' comments for now--too many spoilers about future events. I've heard of the Dominion, but I don't want to know more yet!
Sat, Jun 29, 2013, 5:24pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Sep 5, 2013, 3:17pm (UTC -5)
t'paul...you are right
and grumpy otter...good point. the wormhole shoudl still be fascinating.. there should be hoards of ships from all the major species looking for resources and other contacts!
Fri, Oct 4, 2013, 7:23pm (UTC -5)
The Tosk was interesting, but the sergeant neon sign guys were a bit tacky and overpowered.
O'Brien's humanity makes it very Trekky.
3 Stars from me.
Tue, Oct 22, 2013, 1:40pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jan 22, 2014, 11:24pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jan 23, 2014, 7:14am (UTC -5)
SISKO: Just what did happen at that security checkpoint, Chief...
O'BRIEN: The weapons' sensors must have overloaded on all his various gear, sir.
SISKO: "Must have"?
O'BRIEN: Yessir. They must have... since... I increased their output by about two hundred percent...
Always loved this episode. Nice that they reference back to this subtely when the Jem'Haddar are introduced. 3.5/4 from me.
Wed, Jun 18, 2014, 1:50pm (UTC -5)
SISKO: Save it. You ignored your duty to Starfleet. You took off your comm. badge so you could ignore me. You even ignored the Prime Directive by interfering with their damned hunt. Another stunt like this and your wife won't have to complain about the conditions here anymore. Do I make myself clear?
O'BRIEN: I understand. I was surprised by one thing, sir.
SISKO: What's that?
O'BRIEN: I knew I couldn't override all the security seals on the station, and I figured once you and the Constable located us, well, it'd be over. We'd find ourselves locked behind some forcefield somewhere.
SISKO: I guess that one got by us.
O'BRIEN: Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.
One thing I liked about Sisko... he's break the rules and did it in such a way that no one got in trouble.
I thought it was great when Sisko told Odo "Constable. There's no hurry"... and Odo took his good ole time getting to the turbo lift ... lol
I really enjoyed this episode. Love the "Tron like" hunters, love Tosk and thought Obrien and everyone else was fantastic.
Die with honour!!
4 stars for me.
Fri, Jul 25, 2014, 4:05pm (UTC -5)
Something's coming through the wormhole! Finally!
Dax : "It doesn't match anything in Starfleet files." Really? How odd that a vessel from 70K lightyears away would not be in your files. The NSA must have stolen them. The score's a little better than usual during this scene, it helps add to the feeling of discovery and urgency, two desperately needed feelings on the series so far. I realise that Sisko thinks O'Brien would be less intimidating to Tosk than a formal greeting party, but what if he were dangerous? No security for poor Miles? So far, this is the best teaser since the pilot.
Act 1 : ***.5, 17%
Seems like Meaney gets all the scenes where he's talking to thin air. Hooray for good actors! There's a classic sci-fi trick of nominal ambiguity in Tosk's self-designation. It's an interesting little insight into his psychology. The majority of this act is just O'Brien and Tosk chatting. Thankfully they're both portrayed amiably and with an understated thoughtfulness. No forced smiles, not awkward laughs, no wasted steps. It feels more natural and artful than nearly any other dialogue we've seen on the series. Unfortunately, it seems like Tosk is up to no good, however, as he searches the station's plans for weapons storage, thus making the ominous music cue justified for once.
Act 2 : *** , 17%
Things continue to be paced better and more naturally, but I am curious if Sisko has even advised Starfleet that they just met a new race. I mean, first contact is a big deal isn't it? It brings up the question as to whether anyone on DS9 or in Starfleet is trying to contact the Wormhole Aliens. We could have had a DS9-Cmdr Maddox whose curiosity about these new creatures led to a conflict with Sisko. Are they really just like, "okay, so our only means of accessing this remote part of space requires travelling through the territory of non-linear beings who can enter our thoughts and physically control the wormhole. I'm sure that doesn't need a followup."?
DS9's setting requires a lot of extras doing group-acting ("Dabbo!"). For budgetary reasons, this often leads to distracting little bits in the background. Ostensibly, all these extra people are supposed to differentiate DS9 from a starship, with its function-centric corridors and clean rooms, but the fact that so many of these extras perform so poorly ends up making the environment feel *more* artificial sometimes. Just a note. The same thing happened in Ten Forward.
Next good choice, adding Quark into the mix. Horray for good actors! I do think drinking beer out of coffee mugs is kind of idiotic, however. Was this a censor issue? Next good choice, cutting Bashir off mid-sentence!
One gripe is that Sisko still hasn't bothered to introduce himself to this new alien species. I realise he was trying to earn Tosk's trust by letting O'Brien deal with him, but doesn't Sisko have an obligation as a Federation commander to make a legitimate first contact? And now it seems he'd be willing to let Tosk leave without even meeting him!
Tosk is caught meddling with Station security and taken to Odo's office for questioning. Here's another good choice; O'Brien earlier remarked that he found Tosk's naïveté charming and disarming, and here we see that in action (this is in contrast to just telling us he's naïve, or worse, showing us and THEN telling us he's naïve).
Act 3 : **.5, 17%
Well, good job putting off meeting this guy, Sisko, because now first contact is happening in prison. And now you want to "hold him till someone shows up looking for him"? You should get a promotion!
"Allow me to die with honour." Oh no, he's a Klingon in disguise!
Unfortunately, the plot starts to take a dive here. The other Gamma Quadrant ship emerges and starts shooting the station. The results are identical to what goes on on Starships, things shake, no one fires weapons, shields down, "I've never seen this before." It's a gigantic space station against a tiny vessel. Anyone who claims DS9 didn't pull Trek clichés is delusional.
Act 4 : ****, 17%
So, we get this goofy little fire fight (also, why would hitting a Changeling injure him?) between the crew and Tron. And it turns out Tosk is designated prey in a "noble and honourable hunt." It's a little predictable, but a worthwhile bit of Trekkiness. It reminds me of a cross between TNG's "Suddenly Human" and "The Perfect Mate"; Tosk is bound by his conditioning (conditioning which, by any human standards is nothing less than barbaric), but to deny him the fulfilment of his conditioned purpose would be to rob him of everything he has ever cared about.
We get a moving little scene where Tosk refuses to request asylum from the Federation. Whatever injustice was done to Tosk is impossible to rectify. He's already bound to his fate. Either he dies unjustly with his socially-conditioned honour in tact, or not. Those are his only options. He cannot be saved. O'Brien doesn't plead with him, but silently walks away.
Act 5 : *.5, 17%
....So O'Brien tricks Odo by playing on his Starfleet resentment. Okay, good. Then Odo just leaves Tosk, his hunter and O'Brien alone with no other security monitoring. Wow. So O'Brien breaks Tosk free (violating orders and getting at least one of the aliens killed).
And here we go off the rails...we were doing so well, too. SIsko tells Odo not to hurry, other SF officers watch O'Brien go by and say nothing. No security alert. I realise that Sisko doesn't approve of the Hunt (nor should he), but you can't have it both ways. Either you're sticking to your oath or your principals. True, there are times when regulations need to be broken (see "The Drumhead"), but you don't get to hide behind a presumed morality like the Q. So what is Sisko's report to Starfleet going to say? "I tried to stop him, really." That's just a lie. He's a liar.
The fact is, the hunters are as socially-conditioned as Tosk himself. They may not deserve as much sympathy as the prey, but they aren't "bad guys," they're following their conditioning. They deserve pity just like Tosk.
So Sisko throws the riot act at O'Brien because of course he realised he fucked up royally in his Starfleet duty. Then has the audacity to smile, pleased with himself for helping O'Brien along. But I guess these guys just know that they're right. No moral ambiguity. Helping Tosk escape, violating their own laws and potentially igniting contact with a new species--all okay. But I'm sure there will be consequences...
Episode as Functionary : **.5, 10%
It's a good character piece for O'Brien. I'm not against his having a personal ethical code which overrides his duty, but there should be consequences to this behaviour right? Sisko dubious moral code is further flushed out. When Kirk, Picard or Janeway violated the letter of the law, they OWNED it. They decided to face the music and live with their choices because they thought they were right. Sisko plays this little game where he pretends to try and stop O'Brien so he can falsify his report to Starfleet. What a coward. And talk about a reset button! In spite of these issues, it's a more engaging watch than any of the previous episodes. Credit to better pacing, acting and dialogue along with a score that's at least an interesting shade of wallpaper instead of the usual beige.
Final Score : ***
Tue, Jul 29, 2014, 9:00am (UTC -5)
Regardless of if you agree with it or not, one of the themes of DS9 was that they were on the Frontier. It was dirtier, messier and Starfleet wouldn't always understand what was going on there. The whole "saint in paradise" bit.
Sisko isn't being a coward. What was the alternative? Have the report say "Well we had a security breach but I decided to ignore it?"
On TNG Worf and Riker assaulted J'naii guards and all they get from Picard is
"PICARD: I didn't know when to tell them we will be there. Is our business with the J'naii finished?
RIKER: Finished, sir."
And this is after giving Worf a reprimand for murdering one of the Chancellor candidates in Reunion. Yet they remain the first officer and security chief. I actually liked Sisko in this episode, I thought that telling Odo to take his time was something was a nice touch. It wasn't Sisko condoning O'Brien's actions.... but if O'Brien had already disobeyed orders and was heading for a reprimand anyway... might as well let him finish the job.
Tue, Jul 29, 2014, 6:44pm (UTC -5)
Yes. Own your choices, commander. Explain why you thought it was the better choice. Starfleet (at least until Necheyev was introduced) is not hard-headed and unreasonable.
Your example from TNG is actually a good point--I dislike the way that episode ended more than the way it botches the message it was trying to deliver. It is, however, not the way Picard normally acted; your example from "Reunion" is more typical.
Wed, Jul 30, 2014, 9:17am (UTC -5)
Wed, Jul 30, 2014, 11:45am (UTC -5)
I agree with a lot of what you post but I don't agree at all WRT your take on "First Contact procedures" here.
"DAX: I think we might want to skip formal first contact procedures for now.
SISKO: Agreed. Why don't you meet him by yourself at the airlock, Mister O'Brien. He might find that a little less intimidating.
O'BRIEN: Aye, sir.
SISKO: And, if you can, find out what he's so nervous about.
O'BRIEN: Aye, sir."
Sisko made a judgement call based on his observations. He had no idea a group of soldiers was hunting him. Letting him stay with Obrien was reasonable. It's not like Obrien was all alone. Odo & company were just a chest tap away.
Did Picard go through "First Contact procedures" with Data's pen pal? No.
Thu, Jul 31, 2014, 2:42am (UTC -5)
Of course not. Her civilisation was pre-warp and her memory was wiped anyway.
Regarding Sisko, I don't begrudge him having Miles greet him at the door without a full colours band contingent, but he could have at least introduced himself in the days Tosk was on board the station before the Tron arrived. It's actually quite a minor point, but it makes Sisko look ridiculous meeting a race for the first time behind bars when the alien had been on his station for quite a while.
Thu, Jul 31, 2014, 2:46am (UTC -5)
Thu, Jul 31, 2014, 7:05am (UTC -5)
It didn't make Sisko look ridiculous at all. It showed outstanding leadership.
See here's what you don't understand. He 'had' to tell Odo to "try" and catch him because to tell Odo not to is like telling a fireman he couldn't respond to a fire. Telling him to take his time was a Commanding Officer showing outstanding leadership and recognizing the bigger picture.
If you think about it, Sisko followed the prime directive here. Who is he to stop something that both parties of another race/society condone. Can he put a stop to it on the station? Sure. So he was smart enough to realize the only way to do the right thing was to "let" Tosk escape.
He handled the situation perfectly. No Odo can say "I tried", Obrien can say "sorry" and Sisko can truthfully report that he made an effort to capture an escaped prisoner. All while ensuring the right thing was done.
Fri, Aug 1, 2014, 8:23am (UTC -5)
Lets say that my wife and I disagree about a party my kid wants to go to. But my wife really doesn't want her to go, so we stand together as a team. Later I discover that my kid snuck out. My wife is sleeping. It's 10:00 and the house is a half hour away, and the party ends at 11:00.
a) Show up at the house at 10:30 and rip my kid out the door?
b) Show up at 11:00, wait in the car and wave them over when they come out.
They'll be busted/grounded either way, but at least in scenario b) they get to finish enjoying the thing they broke the rules for.
I see it like this. You don't have to agree obviously. Sisko thought O'Brien was right, but he wasn't about to go against Federation rules/laws for that belief. But once O'Brien broke those rules and was going to get busted/reprimanded anyway... so you might as well let him finish. Sisko does NOT condone what O'Brien did (breaking the rules), even if he appreciated the end result. That's why he handled it in the way he did.
Fri, Aug 1, 2014, 12:29pm (UTC -5)
Your analogy is flawed in a couple of key ways:
1) You didn't discover your daughter had broken the rules until after it was too late.
2) You and your wife presumably made a decision together, she's not your boss. If you choose to bend the agreement you made together, the implications for your relationship are very different.
The way the episode presents this scenario, the analogy would go like this :
1) You and your wife have a standing agreement that your daughter must not go to parties, even though you maybe think sometimes she should.
2) Your daughter decides to sneak out and accidentally wakes you up in the process. Seeing her out your bedroom window, you decide to let her go, but then follow her in your car to retrieve her later.
3) You tell your wife that she snuck out and you went after her immediately, but the damage was done.
O'Brien expected Sisko to stop him and Sisko COULD have stopped him. That's the point. Compare this to Janeway and Paris from "30 Days"; Janeway most definitely agreed with Paris' position, but went so far as to nearly destroy his vessel in order to protect the Moneans. Now, Janeway was perfectly happy to violate the PD or other regulations when she decided it was right, but she never went in half-assed, giving lip-service to playing by the rules but actually circumventing them to save face.
If Sisko were going to let O'Brien get away with his plan, then fine, LET HIM! Tell Odo to stay put, and submit both O'Brien and himself for punishment to Starfleet afterwards. That would be honourable. Or, have Odo earnestly try and prevent Tosk from escaping, in spite of his personal feelings (à la Janeway). That too would be honourable.
Fri, Aug 1, 2014, 1:56pm (UTC -5)
Simply not true. This implies I caught her before she could implement her plan. Granted, it's been awhile since I've seen the episode but I'm pretty sure O'Brien overloaded the scanners or whatever, assaulting the Hunters and freeing Tosk before Sisko figured it out. Sisko could have re-captured Tosk, but O'Brien's plan was already pretty much over. Yes, Sisko could have caught O'Brien 75% of the way into it, but the damage was already done. He already freed the prisoner and assaulted a first contact.....
Fri, Aug 1, 2014, 1:58pm (UTC -5)
I'm pretty sure Naomi managed to steal a shuttle off screen at some point before she was 1....
Fri, Aug 1, 2014, 2:33pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Aug 1, 2014, 2:52pm (UTC -5)
Totally agree! I guess I just mean that he didn't have a chance to undo all damage that O'Brien caused, whereas Janeway did manage to stop Tom entirely.
I can see why you think it was cowardly... and perhaps it was. But I guess I felt that because the hunt had already resumed that to re-capture Tosk Sisko would be intervening again. Doing what he did was the easy way out, but I don't think it shades him so poorly. But I can see how you might take that away from it.
Sun, Nov 23, 2014, 11:06am (UTC -5)
(Switching things up a bit, summation first and then pros and cons.)
Now, this one, I like. We see DS9 reverse the typical Trek motto of going where no man has gone before; now, Deep Space 9 is where no Tosk has gone before. This episode features extremely strong work from Colm Meaney, and though the plot is nothing new, almost everything worked. Very watchable.
- Aha! Finally some information about the state of wormhole travelers.
- Nice to see Sisko playing diplomat at the beginning. In fact, I liked him throughout the episode – his anger at Tosk being hunted was righteous. Brooks is definitely improving, and I thought the character’s response to O’Brien’s transgression was very telling.
- Quark is not a barkeep.
- Really, the friendship between O’Brien and Tosk was well done. Miles is a fantastic everyman. We’ve all seen characters like Tosk before, but there’s something very affecting about the way he says “O-Brien.” And our chief becomes Tosk for a day!
- I think the negotiations about what to do with Tosk make sense. Hunting one of your fellows seems utterly barbaric – but that’s only by *our* standards, and the episode is very clear to not disparage the villainous hunters entirely. I’m glad Sisko doesn’t try to impose cultural hegemony on beings from the gamma quadrant. I’m also glad that we hear about people at Starfleet Command that are watching the station and any new life-forms it might encounter with interest.
- The hunters, unfortunately, were rather silly, and the phaser battle was even worse.
Trying to cut back on some of the fluff in these little reviews and just share my most salient thoughts.
Sun, Nov 23, 2014, 12:56pm (UTC -5)
It also seemed odd for Odo to agree to take his time, right before that it seemed that he felt Tosk should be returned and would be especially unsympathetic to O'Brien's view after having been tricked.
Tue, Feb 17, 2015, 10:50pm (UTC -5)
I totally agree with you. I have a question, what makes you or any of you think that Miles got a reprimand? Sisko balled him out and the case was closed. That's how I interpreted the smile. As a matter of record, Sisko had to say something about it, case closed.
Mon, Feb 23, 2015, 12:07pm (UTC -5)
Verbal reprimand (I quoted above). I don't think anything derogatory went in his record.
Tue, Jun 23, 2015, 2:46pm (UTC -5)
The O'Brien/Tosk friendship was believably and movingly developed. The key turn in the episode is not that Tosk is a hunted being, but that he absolutely sees himself in those terms; Tosk is Tosk, and for him to stop seeing himself as slave-prey to be hunted for sport would require Tosk to completely change everything about himself -- which, even if it were possible, would be a kind of death. O'Brien, entrenched in human values, doesn't want to believe this initially (i.e. when he makes the plea for Tosk to ask for asylum), but he eventually comes to see Tosk's personal preference as worth risking everything for. Okay, O'Brien cannot save Tosk from the slavery of his conditioning, but he can give Tosk the chance to be true Tosk again, and he does so, giving his friend a gift, which may or may not be "right" in the broader sense but which at least gives Tosk what he wants and satisfies the bonds of friendship.
The big problem with this episode is that, for O'Brien's choice to have weight, there has to be *someone* voicing the opposition, for real -- not "you shouldn't break rules!" (though there is that), but that O'Brien, by releasing Tosk, actually caused the death of some of the hunters. That is a big detail which somehow is not mentioned at all. And this goes down to a general systemic problem of the episode. O'Brien is not the natural choice to make first contact with Tosk, because he has no formal training in diplomacy or exobiology (or, again, if he does, it's only to the extent that all Starfleet do, including people like Miles who didn't go to the academy). Sisko sends him to meet Tosk because Tosk responded to O'Brien on the comm -- fine. But then no one is the least bit curious about this new Delta Quadrant species, EXCEPT by having O'Brien report on him. It gets particularly funny in a later scene when essentially people start berating Miles for his contradictory reports about Tosk, with a big implication that he is failing to properly manage the situation, but except for Bashir's quickly (and amusingly) dismissed suggestion that he talk to Tosk because people confide in doctors and Odo's observing Tosk as security guard, no one makes any effort to talk to him; not Sisko, commander of the station and representative of Starfleet, not Dax, scientist, exobiologist (as I think is established) and seeker of the unknown, not Kira, representative of Bajor. O'Brien is left to handle Tosk alone because...why? No one else can be bothered? If O'Brien made mistakes in handling Tosk -- more on that in a sec -- it is hard to argue that it's all O'Brien's fault when it's crazy to put a noncomm with no diplomatic training as the sole point of contact with a new species from 90 thousand light years away.
Anyway, the big turn at the end is that Sisko agrees to send Tosk back with the hunters, because noninterference blah blah blah, and O'Brien releases him, at which point Sisko tells Odo to "take his time" and then chews O'Brien out at the end, then smiles. Now, remember: a bunch of hunters died. Now the implication here is that Sisko knew that O'Brien was "right" in his personal commitment to Tosk, but Sisko had to act, ostensibly on his Starfleet/Prime Directive duty which superseded it. Now, Elliott talks at length above on why this is annoying in and of itself -- that Sisko lets O'Brien get away with his plan, while officially denying any responsibility, as an act of moral cowardice. I mostly agree. But even if we say that it's reasonable for Sisko to maintain the outward requirements of his duty while letting what he believes is the best moral option happen, the episode doesn't question either of these:
1) Is it Sisko's duty to release Tosk to the hunters, like that?
2) Is it the right thing for Tosk to escape?
On point 1, the Prime Directive is by no means clear. The whole point of the hunting game is that the hunters chase Tosk, and Tosk tries to get away. Seemingly, the Federation are more powerful than Tosk's ship *OR* the hunters' ship. Odo arrests Tosk for doing what Tosk does; Tosk broke rules he was unaware of and then thrown in the brig, which neither Tosk nor the hunters seem to have any particular ability to break through. In other words, the Federation/Bajorans already interfered in a significant way in the hunt; they repaired Tosk's ship AND locked him up. Maybe it reflects badly on Tosk that he was "captured" by another species, but had DS9 not been there Tosk wouldn't have gone gently into that good night; his ship might have torn itself apart, but he wouldn't have been captured alive in shame. The interference of the Federation both helped and hurt Tosk, and overall one could say it is a wash, and Sisko could legitimately argue the point to the hunters that by their own game rules, DS9 is outside their jurisdiction and so what Sisko chooses to do next -- up to, i.e., send Tosk shuttling away by himself to continue being chased -- is out of the hunters' hands, provided Sisko does not permanently interrupt the game and only did so temporarily. Further, it is not at all clear that the hunters' wishes automatically supersede Tosk's; even without amnesty, Tosk clearly wishes to be allowed to escape to fight another day. At the end of the episode, O'Brien argues that it's in everyone's best interests for Tosk to escape, since the hunters were none too happy about the game ending so soon. Sisko shouts O'Brien down, which makes some sense since I do think O'Brien was providing a rationalization, after the fact, covering (not too well) his real reason -- his commitment to his friend. But that is still a legitimately good point which Sisko could have thought of beforehand; the hunters, indeed, are ecstatic at the idea that the hunt continues, and so had Sisko simply said, "Hey, we'll let you all go back through the wormhole; deal with it there," it may well have satisfied everyone. Or, even, "It is not fair that Tosk was arrested by us. We interfered with your game, so it's only fair for Tosk to get a chance to escape."
As far as the latter, I do think it mostly makes sense to everyone for Tosk to escape -- the hunters mostly seem to want it, Tosk certainly wants it, O'Brien does. But there *is* the matter of the fact that at least one of the hunters suffered what looked like a fatal wound in Tosk's escape. Maybe they "deserved" it for being slavers, but that itself is not really something for the crew to decide; and, more to the point, because they died because of (again) outside interference by O'Brien, the death becomes his responsibility in a way that, say, them dying by Tosk by a scenario not directly created by O'Brien (and abetted by Sisko's DELIBERATE NEGLIGENCE) wouldn't. That's a heck of a thing not even to be addressed. And, yes, had Sisko managed to play out, say, "We are not getting involved; we are letting you both go back through the wormhole and you can continue there," there may not have been those deaths. Anyway, this is speculative; the point is not so much that things definitely would have been better in this alternate scenario I mention, but that it hurts the episode that no alternate scenarios seem to be considered; Sisko and O'Brien both seem to accept as given that O'Brien's actions are the "right" thing and Sisko's the "responsible" thing, when it is not clear to me that this is the case, and when the first aliens from the Gamma Quadrant you encounter die on your station, you might want to consider your foreign policy.
The O'Brien/Tosk bond really does work well, and gives this episode a big bump, making it probably the most effective so far; I just feel like the rest of the cast (especially Sisko) got the short shrift as a result. 3 stars.
Tue, Oct 20, 2015, 2:41pm (UTC -5)
What's up with the dabo girl at the beginning though? That kind of suggests Quark is considerably more sinister than the lovable rogue he is portrayed as... 2.5 stars.
Wed, Oct 21, 2015, 6:45am (UTC -5)
Going back to the old discussion on here I didn't think any less of Sisko for the way he acted. If anything it made me grow to like a character who I was struggling to like up to this point.
I found Sisko in The Emmisary as annoying and whiney as Wesley. Watching him really command in an episode like this provied he was a leader.
Tue, Jan 12, 2016, 11:34am (UTC -5)
And speaking of which, the Tosk makeup / mask has to be one of the very best the show's ever done. Maybe in all of Trek.
O'Brien is excellent, as always. Colm Meaney is such an integral cog that makes DS9 work, really.
I'm surprised these guys aren't related to the Jem' Hadar in some way, I mean they're close enough I guess plus they come from the Gamma Quadrant too.
Tue, Jan 12, 2016, 11:39am (UTC -5)
Well, it's probably because the writers didn't think about it however you COULD say that the reason for that's right in the beginning when Sisko tells O'Brien to go meet him at his ship alone so he'll trust him. Or something like that. Maybe everyone on board was also told to keep their distance so some degree.
Tue, Jan 12, 2016, 12:03pm (UTC -5)
The writers wanted to. Each cog in the Dominion was to have a different purpose (Vorta - Diplomat, Jem'Hadar - Soldier, etc.) Whatever cog the Hunters here were supposed to serve the Tosk was genetically engineered by the Dominion to train them.
I remember specifically hearing that they were to appear on the bridge of the Defiant in "Broken Link" but it was dropped because they didn't think the average viewer would remember them and it'd lead to more questions than answers.
I have a feeling they'd be more like a Dominion special ops team. Especially since they all have the Jem'Hadar's cloaking ability.
Sun, Jan 31, 2016, 9:30pm (UTC -5)
First off, I just want to mention - so, Quark puts into his contracts that his employees have to sexually service him? Okay, he's a scumbag for doing that. But, that really doesn't change the fact that the Dabo Girl in question is a fucking moron for signing a contract partly written in a foreign language without even bothering to read the damn thing.
For our first encounter with a species from the Gamma Quadrant, "Captive Pursuit" is rather bland. The only truly memorable aspects of the aliens are the make-up design on Tosk and the hunters' transporter effect (which is AWESOME!). Other than that, nothing really stands out about either Tosk or his pursuers. The concept of a blood sport involving sapient beings is interesting and could have been developed more, but is instead basically just brushed aside with a disapproving but stupidly tolerant scene from Sisko.
The only true gem from this outing is that O'Brien is straight-up willing to ignore and/or violate the Prime Directive because it's obviously morally right to do so (which it so often is). And as O'Brien first starring vehicle for the series, it works well enough.
Wed, Aug 17, 2016, 2:22pm (UTC -5)
This episode was particularly enjoyable and I agree with the rating.
It's being compared quite a lot to TNG episodes, but I found it far more entertaining than similar TNG episodes.
For every bit of 'action' you get on TNG, you have to sit through double or triple that of mind-numbing techno-babble or some kind of deep meaningful discussion.
Don't get me wrong, I like the way Star Trek in general gets you thinking about various issues, but what I don't like about TNG is how obvious they have to make it. They have to take the issue, present it to you, dissect it over and over again from all angles and then wrap it all up with a (usually cheesy) 'win win' conclusion.
Deep Space Nine is just generally easier to watch, IMO, although I do miss Picard.
So far, my least favourite character is Major Kira - perhaps why I enjoyed this episode so much, because she doesn't feature too often. To put it in the least eloquent way possible, she is essentially a rubbish Ro Laren!
Wed, Aug 17, 2016, 3:09pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Mar 19, 2017, 12:22pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 2:52pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Nov 14, 2017, 4:46pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 1, 2018, 3:23pm (UTC -5)
O'Brien's a really friendly, easy going dude and there's not much to like about Tosk -- takes a great deal of patience, which O'Brien displays, to understand him. So it seemed a bit farfetched to me that the chief should go to such a life-risking adventure to set the Tosk free. Maybe the script should have made the Tosk a bit more likeable or cute or something. And what of the hunters? Are they happy they get to hunt the Tosk again? We don't know.
On a tangential issue: Does DS9 just repair damaged ships from whatever alien race that comes through the Wormhole without some kind of payment? Or is payment just getting to know the new species?
Barely 2.5 stars for "Captive Pursuit" -- didn't like how this episode was written or acted although the story winds up being better than mediocre, but unsatisfying. First contact with a GQ species (the hunters) is left up in the air. All we get is this ritualistic hunt and some 1-dimensional characters. Maybe what's most important is Sisko/O'Brien feeling they can do whatever they want, being so far away from Federation HQ.
Thu, Feb 1, 2018, 6:34pm (UTC -5)
You raise some good points. How is DS9/Starfleet compensated for the work done on the ship Tosk arrived? Chief O'Brien has various duties to perform on the station and repairing any damage ship that arrives his time away from those duties.
I generally like "Captive Pursuit" and I remember this being first DS9 episode that came alive for me when the series first aired. We finally had someone come in from the wormhole. The premise of the series was that the action and mystery would come to the station and here it finally did.
I also thought Tosk was likeable enough. Simple maybe but he was something different and O'Brien sensed no ill-well from him and that he was in trouble.
Thu, Feb 1, 2018, 8:53pm (UTC -5)
I think it's kind of disappointing that the first aliens to come through the Wormhole to DS9 are rather forgettable. Makes it seem like we'll never hear from these hunters or the Tosk ever again.
As for Sisko's team apparently doing charitable work in repairing alien vessels -- would be good if the writers threw in the occasional line referring to some form of payment or verifying ability to pay or that it's understood that they're there to help as part of their mission.
I agree that Tosk was not threatening as an alien but he didn't spend all that much time with O'Brien so when Miles decides to risk his life and potentially get in trouble with Sisko for helping the Tosk -- bit of a stretch for me.
Fri, Mar 16, 2018, 6:03pm (UTC -5)
PS. But I guess you know that by now.
Thu, May 24, 2018, 10:05pm (UTC -5)
Fri, May 25, 2018, 10:19am (UTC -5)
Mon, Jul 9, 2018, 6:49pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jul 24, 2018, 4:20pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Nov 19, 2018, 9:59pm (UTC -5)
Poor dabo girl. Sisko can read Ferenghi?
It seems like I recognize this Gamma-alien actor, but I can't figure it out through the makeup.
Tosk definitely has personal space issues.
So O'Brien suspects the guy can make himself invisible? And he's lying . . . but they leave info about where the weapons are stored open to him.
Lots of talk about reputation. More (like every ep this season) about how the past follows you around, impacts the present and all that.
Yikes, those are Captain Proton type alien uniforms right there. This phaser fight needs to be in black and white.
Hunters who make sure their prey is smart enough to provide a challenging hunt. And to think I was hoping never to see the Hirogen again.
Since they're willing to restart the hunt, I'm just not sure I understand why the hunters just didn't let hunt recommence when they found Tosk. But maybe I'm missing something.
Kept my interest, fairly basic fare, but enjoyable.
I am Springy.
Tue, Dec 18, 2018, 10:38pm (UTC -5)
Not bad but not exactly totally involving either. The hunt plot has been used a lot in Trek. And the mechanics of the whole thing were quite ordinary The best part involved the friendship between risk and O’Brien but it was still pretty standard fare.
Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 11:03am (UTC -5)
Wed, Mar 13, 2019, 8:54pm (UTC -5)
The problem with arguing that moral systems can't be rationally compared or evaluated is that it boils down to 'might makes right' even faster than the moral universalism you deride. As the British general and uber-colonialist Charles Napier put it:
"This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs."
Fri, Mar 22, 2019, 3:38am (UTC -5)
In some you say that you’re black, in others you say that you are Jewish, in some you say you’re a lawyer, others you say that you’re in finances regardless you always say terribly racist, bigoted garbage, like right here. To be honest I think that you belong in jail.
Sat, Mar 23, 2019, 6:24pm (UTC -5)
What a world we live in.
Tue, Apr 23, 2019, 9:17pm (UTC -5)
Thu, May 2, 2019, 12:09pm (UTC -5)
Yes Luke, I do think that you belong in jail, or better yet you and your progeny should be put in the service of the coloured people who you think yourself superior to. That is the real future, Luke my boy, not this racist Star Trek nonsense. Whites are dying out and losing more power everyday, the rest of the world no longer has any reason to hide our hatred of you, and there is already talk of dispossession and punishment for your lot which will only get stronger as the years go on. It will be delicious irony when your grandchildren are made to work for the benefit of black and brown people, that is if your children are even allowed to breed :)
Thu, May 2, 2019, 1:11pm (UTC -5)
Thu, May 2, 2019, 4:08pm (UTC -5)
Thu, May 23, 2019, 7:36pm (UTC -5)
Well, anyway, other than it bringing back memories of those boring Hirogen episodes of Voyager, which of course were years away, I enjoyed this ep, as I have all the DS9 eps so far. Season 1 may not be up to the high standard the show would achieve later, but with the minor exception of Rom, the show hit the ground running.
Sun, May 26, 2019, 10:16pm (UTC -5)
I was genuinely moved by the farewell expression “die with honor” as well as the station’s complicit collaboration with O’Brien’s unorthodox solution. Odo was nothing short of graceful as he slowly, slowly hastened to his urgent duty. We laughed aloud here.
Also, the trumpet in the opening music! Someone play that at my funeral, please.
Sun, Jul 28, 2019, 4:07pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Nov 14, 2019, 3:35pm (UTC -5)
Let's start at the beginning.
The first ever new species comes through the wormhole. A potentially significant diplomatic event, not to mention the wealth of technological, biological and general information available just from the ship itself.
Equally, the alien in question is aboard a damaged ship and somewhat antagonistic. So there's a definite risk - both diplomatic and physical - involved in boarding the ship and interacting with the occupant.
Cisco's response? Let's send in a single engineer, with not even a single security guard, high ranking diplomat or even any form of monitoring.
It's a highly contrived setup, specifically designed to bring O'Brien and Tosk together and set things up for the moral dilemma which follows.
So sad to say, I very quickly lost interest...
Mon, Nov 9, 2020, 11:10am (UTC -5)
Mon, Aug 16, 2021, 6:06am (UTC -5)
It's in the bottom rung of episodes this season for me.
The hunters were lame lol, and Tosk was characterised in a way that felt somewhat artificial for me. Didn't hold me attention this one for some reason.
Wed, Aug 25, 2021, 2:11am (UTC -5)
Thu, Dec 16, 2021, 2:14am (UTC -5)
An interesting concept, that of the hunt, and creatures bred specifically for it. Which raises the ethical question that has its parallel in fox hunting - saboteurs who aim to set beagles free are countered by the hunters’ argument that the beagles wouldn’t exist without the hunt.
A reasonably well-executed episode, but one of those which are slightly encumbered by having to accommodate the storylines of series regulars; it’s a high-concept story that would have made a better one-off sci-fi drama, e.g. Black Mirror.
Not sure if it’s 3 or 2.5 stars.
Thu, Jan 6, 2022, 2:30pm (UTC -5)
QUARK: Don't call me barkeep. I'm not a barkeep. I'm your host, the proprietor. A sympathetic ear to the wretched souls who pass through these portals.
O'BRIEN: And a man who will exploit any vice you may have. Two synthales, barkeep.
TOSK: I am sorry. I have no vices for you to exploit.
QUARK: A challenge.
Fri, Jan 7, 2022, 4:30pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Jan 7, 2022, 5:24pm (UTC -5)
Agree with you.
Just watched both. O'Brien's especially good in Captive Pursuit. He has a quiet way about him, trying to understand this strange being. Let's face it....Tosk is weird. The Tosk actor really gets the "non" in "non-human" across. I think that my dog would be like this if she could speak....if she could fly space ships.
Thu, Jan 20, 2022, 4:25pm (UTC -5)
Ha! Nice image.
For me, 'Captive Pursuit' is just a wonderful wee episode. It isn't ground-breaking by any means, but for me it just works in so many ways.
Another thing is that its pacing is absolutely perfect.
Sun, Jun 26, 2022, 8:04pm (UTC -5)
All these people complaining about how the episode doesn't have consequences and how this is an alien of the week episode are missing the point. It makes us reflect upon on own nature. What if we are like Tosk?
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