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.
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