Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Armageddon Game"

3 stars

Air date: 1/31/1994. Writen by Morgan Gendel
Directed by Winrich Kolbe

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

O'Brien and Bashir assist a non-Federation world, the T'Lani, in destroying several reams of their terrible and now-unwanted biological weapons, the harvesters. But the two Starfleet officers find themselves on the run once the last harvester is destroyed, when an attacking group of T'Lani attempts to kill anyone with knowledge of the all-too-deadly harvesters.

"Armageddon Game" is a good episode with an action premise that quickly turns into an interesting (if unexpected) character show. The action early in the episode is reasonably executed, and the irony that the T'Lani would need to make sure anyone with knowledge of the harvesters needs to be eliminated—even those who helped destroy such knowledge—is a telling sign of the severity of such weapons.

Meanwhile, the T'Lani provide Sisko with misinformation, claiming the two officers died in an accident and providing a forged video recording of the alleged incident. The resulting scenes on DS9 are hit-and-miss, featuring some absorbing realistic reactions (Sisko's acknowledgement that "the next few days are going to be hard, but we all have jobs to do" and Quark's toast to the deceased "good customers" ring particularly true), and some less effective moments (namely, most of Keiko's scenes, which lack the emotional punch one would expect).

The O'Brien/Bashir interaction is great, redefining the two characters as the most verbally interesting pair on the series—or maybe a close second behind Garak/Bashir. Bashir's backstory comes off particularly believable this time around, supplying the character with a depth beyond what has been explored to date. O'Brien's dialog about family life is also adeptly written. Basically, this show works because it puts two actors in a room, gives them some believable things to say, and the performances deliver. Keiko's investigation that leads her to suspect the forgery is somewhat hokey and a little hard to swallow, but no matter; the surprisingly clever and understated action finale wraps things up nicely.

Previous episode: The Alternate
Next episode: Whispers

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48 comments on this post

Sat, Sep 20, 2008, 10:53am (UTC -5)
In "Armageddon Game," I don't see why so much effort was put into neutralizing the stacks of biological weapons. Why couldn't both sides just load everything onto a shuttle and then fly it into the sun or something?
Sun, Sep 21, 2008, 2:16pm (UTC -5)
Well Victor, if they had done that then there would have be no episode. But I suppose they could have done a story where Bashire & Obrien were trapped on the ship with the WMD's headed toward the sun.
Paul York
Wed, Jun 6, 2012, 8:57am (UTC -5)
Being able to wipe memory engrams seems a common procedure in the 24th century; it makes much more sense for Bashir and OBrien to agree to do that afterwards than risk bad relations with the Federation, if found out for committing murder. But politicians who order cover-ups probably lack imagination or compassion to begin with. The evil cover-up was plausible. As Jammer notes above, the main element is the characterization. The dynamic between the two characters is a good one that plays well throughout during all the DS9s. Nothing like adversity to bring two people together.
Fri, Jun 29, 2012, 11:11am (UTC -5)
Good point Victor.

It's also a bit silly that they come in and shoot at everyone while the harvesters are still being neutralized, rather than kill everyone in a more clean and clinical fashion, like, say, how the forged video footage later portrays it.

But yeah, I know, it's all about the characters and the lengths to which the warring parties will go in order to establish peace.
Thu, Aug 9, 2012, 6:58pm (UTC -5)
I guess we're trying to avoid spoilers so all I'll say is Keiko's last line was one of the funniest in the series for me.
Tue, Feb 12, 2013, 10:38pm (UTC -5)
"Why not just toss the whole lot into a sun or black hole" is a large plot hole. The other thing that got me about this was it took Julian just a moment to cure O'Brien back at DS9. If the Harvesters were so easily cured, why was it such a threat that the warring races wanted all people who knew anything about it killed.

Yes the point is the development of Julian and Miles friendship and characters. It was still fun to watch, just wish that they had come up with answers for the loose threads.
Tue, Oct 22, 2013, 3:47pm (UTC -5)
Solid episode with some important character development for Bashir and O'Brien.

Mon, Jul 14, 2014, 11:13am (UTC -5)
Slightly above average episode.

I think it would have been a much more powerful episode had they not shown the gun fight and left their escape an unknown for as long as possible.

3 stars for me. Nice character development for Bashir and Obrien.
Shawn Davis
Sun, Jul 27, 2014, 8:19pm (UTC -5)
I agree with Jammer's review. I also want to point out that it's a shame that the Defiant wasn't introduced until the beginning of season 3. Sisko and company looked ridiculous trying to battle the T'Lani ship, which is much more larger and powerful, with the small runabouts at the end of the episode (even though they were actually playing a trick on the T'Lani to escape them, but still......). With the Defiant they could had put the T'Lani in their place within minutes.
Sat, Aug 16, 2014, 12:52pm (UTC -5)
The way they found out the video was fake was... stupid. Real stupid. Also, I don't like all these "hidden security feature" storylines. Miles O'Brien was also supposedly operating a totally alien system.

But it was a decent watch overall.
Thu, Oct 30, 2014, 8:16pm (UTC -5)
Very worthwhile for the O'Brien and Bashir stuff, but I just never bought the motivations of the T'Lani and the Kellerens and the last act felt rushed and kind of silly. Nonetheless, the character stuff is really good, and that last little revelation about the coffee... pretty amusing.
Tue, Apr 7, 2015, 2:55am (UTC -5)
What I didn't like was, the T'lani and the Kellerans seemed to get away with attacking a Federation vessel and attempting to murder Miles and Bashir. Something should have be done about this or at least mentioned at the end. Oh well!!
Wed, Apr 15, 2015, 2:24pm (UTC -5)
I liked the episode a lot, but... it took Bashir less than an hour to neutralize the terrible weapon that had to be destroyed and all the people who knew about it with it. :--/
Wed, Jun 24, 2015, 7:19pm (UTC -5)
hairstylists must be rich in both societies. I know they are aliens but even aliens should have better fashion sense.

The quark scene was funny. Keiko didn't seem too affected by the Chiefs death. The writers have known since tng that the fans didn't like Keiko and yet they didn't make her seem to care that much about his death. I wanna blame the writers and not the actress but I haven't seen her in anything else so who knows. Obrien and Bashir eventually become great friends but I always thought obrien treated Bashir badly the first few seasons for no reason. Eventually Bashir stands up to him but it takes all the way to the third episode from the last in season 7.
Nathan B.
Sun, Jul 12, 2015, 3:20pm (UTC -5)
Great review by Jammer of a really good episode! As for Keiko, I thought her reaction to the bad news very believable and understated. People don't all react to death with outward hysterics, and she never really believed it anyway. By the way, I love Keiko's scenes--they're true to life.
Mon, Jul 13, 2015, 2:51pm (UTC -5)
You mean a battle-axe, overbearing wife who seeks to take away all your passion and love for the world? I agree. Luckily, I'll never fall for that life.
William B
Fri, Jul 31, 2015, 10:35pm (UTC -5)
In spite of the title, "Armageddon Game" is not in any particular way "about" the weapons of mass destruction, which are only the MacGuffin to start the plot going. We know this because the one interesting idea -- that having found peace, these peoples must kill anyone who knows about these weapons, including the people who disposed of them! -- is never examined or discussed; it is repeated by the villains a few times, and there's a minor wrinkle in that it initially seems to be one group planning this murder and then it turns out it's both. No one offers any counterargument, nor even particularly expresses outrage that these guys asked for Federation assistance and then planned to kill them. The end section, in which the T'Lani tells Sisko that she has no quarrel with him or the Federation but must kill Bashir & O'Brien, comes across as ridiculous -- if the T'Lani had planned to keep their murdering the heroic scientists who ended the terror of the harvesters a secret, as implied by their hastily blaming O'Brien for activating a subroutine that obliterated them, they surely couldn't just let Sisko go. The escape sequence at the end has weird, heavy-handed over-explanation ("We saw them die!" "Did we though?"), and in general the entire investigation is plodding. Bashir and O'Brien, besides not dying in the initial attack, only accomplish one thing -- to attract the T'Lani to them! -- which is a decent twist, but also means that, since they get rescued at the last minute through no action of their own, their struggle is not all that inspiring. Would Sisko not have been able to find them if they hadn't contacted the T'Lani? No explanation is actually given how the Runabout crew could identify Bashir and O'Brien immediately when the planet couldn't -- I guess superior technology, though if they were found because Sisko could find the T'Lani having beamed down that might give some sense that the endless jiggering with that comm device actually had plot importance.

This is maybe a harsh assessment of an episode that is mostly about Bashir and O'Brien talking. But I do think that survival stories have a greater kick when there is some sense that what the characters do to survive actually matters. To compare for other Trek examples, "The Next Phase," "The Enemy," "Shuttlepod One," "The Ascent" and "The Galileo Seven" all had plots that ultimately did hinge on our trapped characters accomplishing something, often which reflected some major character growth, and an episode like "The Most Toys" has a kind of tragic air because Data's rescue saved him from the long-term external consequences of killing Fajo, but not from the implications of readying himself to. In this case, besides having O'Brien not die nothing Bashir and O'Brien do matters much to the eventual plot resolution, which means that anything they do besides talk is a waste of time.

Given that one of the subjects of their talk is marriage, it seemed like a neat tie-in that it is Keiko's deep, close knowledge of Miles that ends up saving him. In execution, it seemed terribly unconvincing that Miles drinking coffee in the afternoon while on some alien ship, in space, working on a major project with risky, deadly WMDs, would be the smoking gun required to let Sisko investigate it, not to mention the plot contortions required to justify this already-silly idea (my favourite is the idea that, to justify that it's coffee, the hastily-edited video recording designed to fake deaths has a *spectrographic analysis* precise enough to be able to tell the chemical composition of what's in O'Brien's cup). But accepting this on a "what they are going for" level, that Keiko could identify a small, specific detail which demonstrated the falsenes of the cover story while Jadzia could only bemoan that she never got around to reading Julian's soul-baring journals absolutely reinforces Miles' argument that marriage and intimacy are worth the headaches that come with it. And then the episode undermines it for a not-funny joke at the end -- Keiko actually has no clue about Miles drinking coffee! My girlfriend and I laughed out loud at that point, not so much because of the joke itself (not really funny) as the way the series regularly seems to undermine anything positive in the O'Briens' marriage, as well as the way the episode undercuts its own thematic point. I am not opposed to this kind of undermining, but the episode is thin enough and the coffee idea was already sketched in enough and the O'Briens' marriage already so inattentively rendered that I felt kind of sad. Nevertheless, we still can take from this the idea that Keiko made up an artificial reason to save Miles, and her refusal to give up on him did lead to his being saved, so, that is something.

I do tend to find the scenes on the station overall not quite effective, and I am not sure why. Some of it is that there hasn't been that much development of relationships between Julian and Miles and the rest of the main cast, Jadzia (and each other) excepted, and Garak does not make an appearance. Still, the crew's moderately sad reaction to their death, while realistic, doesn't quite give me much sense of them as individuals. The big scene regarding Julian's death is the Kira/Dax conversation in Quark's, which overall works pretty well; I don't quite find Farrell convincing here, but putting that aside I think that there is something of the right way of conveying the mixture of grief, loss and guilt of someone who knows that a person with an unrequited thing for them has died. There is something both sweet and pathetic about Julian giving Jadzia his medical journals, consisting of his "innermost thoughts," much of which were about his struggle to be the best in his class and his fear of failure, as a way for her to "understand him," like any other young nerdy male desperately giving out his livejournal account in the hopes that only THEN will she see how truly deep he is; and, well, it's a kind of sweet and pathetic I can relate to, while also sympathizing with the mixed feelings that this inspires in Jadzia. Capped by Quark's "good customers" line, it's a melancholy thought that reminds us exactly how lonely and alone this guy is, and Jadzia, by realizing that she probably *is* the most important person in Julian's life right now, gets some sense of what that means for him. The scene of Sisko telling Keiko I did feel was ineffective; I don't think that Keiko reacting with something like shock and not having any emotional outbursts is believable, but there's a certain something missing from the performance or the direction to give a real sense of what she's feeling underneath, at least for me.

As for the Bashir/O'Brien scenes, in a weird way they serve a similar purpose to Jadzia talking about Julian's medical journals. Bashir already likes O'Brien and wants his trust, so even though it's Miles who is closer to death the story is much more focused on O'Brien coming to see Bashir as his own person and coming to care about him than the reverse. As the older and more experienced man, O'Brien's gradually slipping away into disease, and just missing death, with Bashir slowly taking more and more charge of the situation, has a bit of a Circle of Life vibe, a short version of the inevitable fate of people to watch the next generation come into prominence as they themselves go into decline. The age difference isn't so great, but it seems artificially greater because O'Brien has "lived" more than Bashir in many respects, having fought in a war and served multiple Starfleet jobs and having a wife and child. I like how Bashir's backstory, involving a ballerina who is the daughter of a doctor, ties together the interests in medicine and physical fitness that we have seen from him recently. O'Brien's impassioned defense of marriage, while weakened both by the show's need to undermine Miles/Keiko regularly and by the lack of specificity in the details ("oh yeah we fight, she doesn't want to be on the station, but it is worth it! for... reasons"), is touching, and is the most important lesson that he imparts onto Bashir; and when O'Brien imparts this wisdom, there is the sense in which he now recognizes that Bashir's skirt-chasing and immaturity is the sign of his youth, inexperience, and insecurity rather than just a personality type Miles can't really stand.

Overall, the plot of this episode is very weak and the character material is...good but not great, making this a prime example for what Jammer termed the Split Personality Syndrome of the season. 2.5 stars from me.
Tue, Sep 15, 2015, 4:40am (UTC -5)
Again William B a very good commentary. You mentioned how Miles realized Bashir's skirt-chasing and immaturity is the sign of his youth and it was one of the reasons I didn't like him in the beginning. I have often wondered how Bashir could not understand why Jadzia never took him seriously. She wasn;t going to let him treat her like he treated all of his bimbos. One night stands, dinner and a holosuite was not her style. After season 2 Julian became a favorite.
Fri, Sep 18, 2015, 8:12am (UTC -5)
The episode suffers from several contrived plot items:

It's not believable that two advanced races need outside help to just destroy some bioweapons. It's even less believable that Bashir and O'Brien are sent. An organization like the Federation has special people for that, they don't just sent stationed personnel from some station.
As civilization progresses, people need to specialize further and further, yet O'Brien is both a software and hardware genius, while Bashir seems to be an accomplished researcher in addition to being DS9's only real physician.

The deadliness of the virus seems implausible. It took a couple of days to kill O'Brien, it took more than one day to actually incapacitate him. And Bashir could cure it within hours. Clearly, the 24th century has more advanced and deadly weapons than this, so why try to kill anybody with knowledge of it.
It's like us killing anybody with knowledge of how to create Sarin.
Also, there is no way to be sure that no copies of such knowledge exist anywhere. Networked computers, physical backups. It's basically IMPOSSIBLE to put the genie back into the bottle.

The assumption that if the aliens interfere with the runabout's communication, it must interfere with their short range sensors. They would probably have, just for backup and such in a situation like this, optical sensors.
And if the runabout's short range sensor's are useless, how do they beam to the other runabout? Clearly you must be able to direct the transporter beam somewhere.

The forged surveillance video has an Earth-like timecode, a.k.a. 15:38 was afternoon. And it has a spectral analysis attached. Sure.
But I really like the gag at the end, the sort of lamp-shading of the ridiculousness of the "Miles doesn't drink coffee late in the day" - "Okay then, let's go!"


Still, despite all it's flaws, I like the episode.
It's just that it would have been able to execute without all this nonsense.

There's a number of dilemmas induced by the setup:
- the impossible purging of dangerous knowledge
- the burden of creating doomsday devices and then having to get rid of them
- the destruction said devices bring upon a civilization - was completely ignored
- the risking of interplanetary warfare by killing outsiders for internal reasons

Not of them were explored.
The episode is basically just Bashir and O'Brien bonding in a dangerous situation.

My suspicion is that the writers had the idea for a grant, true Sci-Fi story about the dilemmas I mentioned, but couldn't make an episode about. So they decided to just recycle the idea as a cheap setup for a Locked In A Room kind of episode.
Sat, Oct 17, 2015, 5:09pm (UTC -5)
Teaser : **, 5%

Bashir and O'Brien (last seen not resolving their racquetball issues) are helping the Maries (I'm beginning to feel that much of Trek's alien designs lately are from the “There's Something About Mary” School of Hairgel) dismantle some bio-weapons. Presumably, there are no other Federation doctors or engineers close enough by for Sisko to risk sending his only doctor away on a potentially suicidal mission. For a week now. Yeah. Bashir babbles some technos and manages to accomplish whatever it is they intended to do. And there was much rejoicing. There's an overload of saccharine back-patting and jerking off complete with the swelling brass music of triumph. This felt like a setup for a bait and switch, but all we get is an ominous of ominous cue on the remaining “disruptors” they need to neutralise. Okay...

Act 1 : ***, 17%

Over subspace, O'Brien is unusually congratulatory of Bashir and his accomplishment, although there's the hint that maybe the Chief is just trying to get his mission-accomplished ticket home.

Right before they neutralise the last cylinder, a raiding party emerges in the lab and starts killing the Maries. In the ensuing fight, O'Brien is infected by the cylinder goop. This perfectly watchable act is extremely short, giving us a brief and competent action scene.

Act 2 : **.5, 17%

On DS9, Sisko's brunch is interrupted by the arrival of the Hairgel ambassadors, who report that Bashir and O'Brien were killed in an “accident.” The lead Mary gives a good performance (although her counterpart, whose people shall be the Elizabethans, is painfully wooden) but that fucking hairdo is laughably distracting and really takes the pathos out of the scene.

Meanwhile, amid a typical wallpaper of boring score, O'Brien and Bashir hunt for supplies and find some military rations. The Chief is homesick, serious and cautious. The doctor is optimistic, calculating and naïve. As luck would have it, one of the first things they stumble across is a communications array. It begins to become clear that O'Brien saved up just enough tolerance for Julian's antics to last a week in the Hairgels' lab. Under duress, hungry and for god knows how long is another matter.

Meanwhile, Sisko and co. review a doctored video recording of the “accident.” In the welcomely understated scene which follows, the remaining staff prepare to deal with their loss, make funeral and personnel changes, etc. It's pretty good, but it can't hold a candle to similar scenes in “The Most Toys” or “Coda.” The reason is because of which characters we're dealing with here. Sisko, Kira and Odo have no particular connection to O'Brien or Bashir. They get along okay, sure, but there's no lingering regret from Kira on how she barely tolerated him. There's no sense of loyalty from Sisko for having so often used Miles as a cover for his questionable command decisions. The only relationship with some emotional investment is that between Dax and Bashir.

Speaking of romance, Bashir and O'Brien... are talking about women. It both scores and loses points with me. The positives are 1. reaffirming O'Brien's commitment to Keiko and Molly, which is always appreciated, and 2. adding to the O'Brien/Bashir conflict the differences in their career paths, Julian an officer and O'Brien an enlisted man. The biggest negative is the unapologetic sexism on display. The two speak as though the life of a Starfleet officer is too dangerous for one to risk leaving the “wife and kids” alone. In addition to being annoyingly sexist on its own terms, it also commits the sin of conflating the modern military with Starfleet (although the sexism would make it more the pre-modern military). Starfleet officers are explorers. Also, what about the Crushers? What I'm saying is that the conversation is more or less effective, but it totally abandons many of the unique features of the Star Trek universe in order to be so. Bashir and O'Brien could be members of any given military in any century it seems. Anyway, surprise, surprise Bashir manages to piss O'Brien off with his remarks and the Chief starts to show signs of illness. His infection by the harvesters is discovered.

Act 3 : ***.5, 17%

I have to disagree vehemently with Jammer's assessment of Rosalind Chao's performance which I think are the most effective of the episode. The look on her face when Sisko enters her quarters to deliver the news speaks volumes. One can see clearly the number of times she's worried about and confronted the feeling of losing her husband in the line of duty. The hurt is deep, but its a wound that has been rankled by fear and worry many times already. On the other hand, Brooks really lets us down here. He's somber and sober sure, but there's no sense of the personal behind his performance. Come on, man! You lost your wife and blamed, to an extent, Starfleet for that loss. Surely you can do better than “He was a fine man. I'll miss him.”

The Chief in the meanwhile is probably wishing he were dead. On top of his plague symptoms (side note: is the plague only effective against those it physically touches? Is such a dangerous weapon really not contagious to Bashir?), Julian is bossing him around.

Dax and Kira discuss Bashir with the camera way to close to their faces for some reason. Dax admits that she never got around to reading his diaries which he lent her, and she admits that she cared about Bashir. Quark even joins in the pathos by offering a toast to his fallen customers.

Then we get that scene. I concur with William B. that the goofy spectrograph thing notwithstanding, I felt the idea of Keiko's intimate knowledge of her husband being the clue to the deception to be spot on. They really could have cut the whole spectrograph thing entirely and had Keiko trust her instinct that she knew how he drank his coffee and could just tell by watching him what he was doing and that something was fishy about the video. Sisko would certainly have investigated the possibility of tampering if only to appease the grieving widow even he had his doubts.

O'Brien continues to deteriorate and starts to give Bashir the business. I got a big laugh out of Meaney's mocking English accent “Not quite close.” Bashir talks about some French ballet dancer he once fell in love with, but I'm calling BS. No ballerina has “beautiful feet,” trust me. They are war-weary, bruised and deformed in sacrifice to the art. The idea that Bashir would fall for a quintessential Dionysiac like a dancer is, however, perfectly in keeping with his established character, and what we eventually learn in “Dr Bashir, I Presume.” He is conditioned to be hyper-analytical, skeptical, logical, grounded. A dancer is, archetypically, a vessel for ecstatic emotional excess. This might explain his attraction to Jadzia who, it seems, is as brilliant as they come, but relishes her freedom and celebrates to excess.

With O'Brien's guidance, Bashir manages to get the comm panel working. Unfortunately, his condition has worsened to the point where he can no longer walk.

Act 4 : **.5, 17%

Sisko and co. arrive at Planet Hairgel and begin to investigate. Meanwhile, Bashir is still fiddling with the comm panel and manages to get a distress signal activated. O'Brien has all but resigned to his fate. In his resignation, he talks about marriage as the adventure of his life. Meaney gives a powerful little performance expressing his fulfilment in the knowledge that “at the end of the day, we always love each other. And that's all that matters.”

I again have to credit the actress playing he Mary ambassador who manages to give a solid performance which barely spares the scene from that ridiculous hairdo. Sisko expresses his suspicion. Dax discovers evidence of tampering on the Ganges and they discover that Bashir and O'Brien had been alive after the supposed accident.

While Miles starts knocking on death's doorstep, the Hairgel ambassadors discover them. We learn the devious plot: Bashir and O'Brien have to die because they know have knowledge of the harvesters function and that knowledge can't be allowed to exist. Man, if only it were possible to erase memories in the future! That sure would be handy right about now. Oh, wait...nah, let's just kill them.

Act 5 : *.5, 17%

While the executioners, stand around waiting for the camera to pan over them, Bashir pulls O'Brien to his feet so he can die with honour and offer a kind word to his companion. This little reprieve of course buys them just enough time for Sisko and Dax to beam them to relative safety. Using some Starfleet cleverness, Sisko manages to trick the Maries and Elizabethans into destroying the empty runabout. Cute. So even though they realise they failed to accomplish their insane mission of killing anyone with knowledge of the harvesters which has driven them to murder in cold blood, I guess they no longer give a shit anymore since we never hear from them again. Oh, and in the coda, we discover Bashir is able to cure O'Brien without a hitch, meaning all the Hairgel people would have to do to protect themselves from a future threat is ask for that medical knowledge which Bashir had up is butt this whole time. I'm sure there will be consequences.

Episode as Functionary : **, 10%

The plot involving the Hairgel people is downright stupid. The motivations are dubious, the execution and makeup is laughable and allegory falls rather flat as the ambassadors' extremism only seems to come into play when the plot needs it to. On the other hand, the character dynamics between Bashir and O'Brien and the O'Briens are good, buoyed by strong performances from Siddig, Meaney and Chao. I didn't really enjoy the episode, but it was a necessary piece to resolve the dangling threads from “Rivals,” so it gets a pass.

Final Score : **.5
Diamond Dave
Fri, Nov 13, 2015, 2:59pm (UTC -5)
Some good character development in this one, obviously highlighted by the emerging Bashir/O'Brien relationship. But some nice extra beats too - Quark's toast, Dax's revelation she never read the diaries Bashir gave her - add something for other characters too. The very last line is also an instant classic and totally subverts expectations of what came before.

That said, the rest of it falls a little flat on a fairly implausible premise and while the action is handled nicely, it's not what you call particularly exciting. 2.5 stars.
Wed, Feb 10, 2016, 1:16pm (UTC -5)
Plot summary: DS9's inept crew tried to dispose of biological weapons without launching them into the sun or just dematerializing them with a transporter. Contrived hijinx ensue.
Fri, Feb 26, 2016, 6:19am (UTC -5)
Why is this episode called "Armageddon Game"? Because it involves supposed weapons of mass destruction? Given that they are nothing more than a MacGuffin used to get the plot going, that's not really satisfying. It probably should have been titled "Two Men Talking".

This is a pretty bad one. There are a couple of points I have to strongly disagree with Jammer on. First, "the irony that the T'Lani would need to make sure anyone with knowledge of the harvesters needs to be eliminated—even those who helped destroy such knowledge—is a telling sign of the severity of such weapons." Let's examine that. If these weapons of mass destruction are so terrible, why in the name of God do they have people fumbling about with them trying to destroy them with radiation?! As the very first comment in this thread says - JUST FIRE THEM INTO THE SUN! I don't care how horrible your WMD is, it's not going to survive being hurled into a giant, boiling mass of extremely super-heated gases undergoing nuclear fusion. Also, if they are so terrible that they can decimate an entire planet's population and get these two races absolutely shitting their pants, why can Bashir cure the effects of them in a blink of an eye back on the station. Apparently, in order to ensure that they're never used again, these morons only have to request medical information that the Federation has freely available.

Second, "some less effective moments (namely, most of Keiko's scenes, which lack the emotional punch one would expect)." Sorry, but Keiko is one of the few highlights of this episode. Sure, she doesn't break down into tears, but she's clearly upset. And the fact that she's so determined to save O'Brien really highlights the strength of their marriage.

The only really effective part of the episode are the Bashir/O'Brien scenes. They've finally given Bashir some much needed development away from "annoying, young skirt-chaser" and began his movement into the much more enjoyable character he'll become. We even get a reason for his skirt-chasing - his almost marriage to a ballerina and his desperate search for someone else. This is also the first true step toward the Bashir/O'Brien bromance, always a welcome change, especially since Siddig and Meaney have such great chemistry together.

Then there's the "action" in the episode, which only consists of a shoot-out early on that is completely undermined by the stupidity surrounding the reasons for it and a chase sequence that's undermined by its ending. If the aliens are so determined to kill Bashir and O'Brien, why don't we ever hear from them again. You would think they would be sending assassins after them for the rest of their lives!

Aside from Keiko and the bromance scenes, everything else in "Armageddon Game" should have been dropped into the sun along with the Harvesters.

WTF HAIR - 13 (+2)

Tue, Apr 12, 2016, 4:52pm (UTC -5)
I've always enjoyed this ep despite the ridiculously paper-thin plot, which feels like it follows all the usual Trek cliches to a T. The main thing that makes this ep memorable is the Bashir/OBrien interactions on the planet, which are a cut above average even for DS9 - I'm willing to forgive plot contrivances/plot holes if they get us great character interactions later in the episode (see "Waltz" in season 6), and one of DS9's strengths was characterization and dialogue (especially if said dialogue involves Garak).

All in all, Bashir and O'Brien were one of the best character pairings on DS9 and this episode shows us why.
Tue, Jun 27, 2017, 4:09pm (UTC -5)
Not a very scary weapon... It takes days to kill and it can be easily cured apparently.
Tue, Jul 4, 2017, 6:34pm (UTC -5)
I just started watching this episode and I LOVE these alien hairstyles! The ones that flare back especially, to accentuate the shape of the ears. Very cool.

OMG THIS FIRST ACT IS SO EXCITING! Nice saving Dr. Bashir, Chief! And I am really sad about the male T'Lani doctor--he seemed so nice.

I note that this is one time when Sisko's constant air of gravitas is appropriate--when he thinks some of his crew have died.

Quark's tribute to good customers actually made me tear up a bit--kind of sweet!

I liked this one a lot--Miles and Julian's bonding scenes were great, and the funny bit about the coffee at the end was clever. Solid 3 for me.
Daniel B
Mon, Aug 28, 2017, 1:39am (UTC -5)
{ As for Keiko, I thought her reaction to the bad news very believable and understated. People don't all react to death with outward hysterics, and she never really believed it anyway }

I agree. I don't typically think very highly of her acting, but it made sense in this episode. She's not so much sad as in denial (except that it turns out she's actually correct).
Sat, Sep 23, 2017, 6:01pm (UTC -5)
Bit of meh episode for me. Two stars. Fuck that coffee plot, hated it. Especially the cheap ass comedy punch line. Dumb.
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 6:59am (UTC -5)
I was actually waiting for the repercussions of attacking a Federation vessel. What happens when their cover-up gets exposed? I wanted some sweet justice.

Apart from that, the interactions between O'Brien and Bashir was great. Keiko's 'investigation' was ridiculous, but it did lead to that hilarious ending.

Solid episode, 3/4
Sun, Jan 14, 2018, 6:30pm (UTC -5)
My favorite part of this episode is when Sisko walks in to tell Keiko of O'briens apparent death. He walks in looking like he is about open up a can of butt whooping on her. His acting is enjoyable at times, and this is one of those times.
Thu, May 10, 2018, 8:36pm (UTC -5)
Pretty good episode mainly because of the developing Bashir/O'Brien interaction although what sets it up is a tad questionable, but whatever. In any case, it's all about the relationship between Julian and Miles and their contrasting lives / philosophy on life and women. Some revealing conversations can develop when an imminent death (or 2 imminent deaths) is involved. Of course, that is a tried and true premise on Trek.

But what bugs me is that the 2 alien races, as advanced as they are, need to kill both Bashir and O'Brien because they had knowledge of the disease -- and they'll go to any lengths to do so. Too bad Sisko & co. couldn't mete out some kind of punishment on them.

What also bugs me is the aliens get some of their own scientists and deceive the Federation in sending Miles/Julian to destroy the disease knowing full well they'll be killing them after the work is done. And then they send in goons to just gun them down. But we'll never hear from these 2 races again. Not the first or last time the Federation will get severely taken advantage of. But I think a better reason for needing to kill Bashir/O'Brien would have been if there was a small faction of aliens that wanted to keep the war going or something like that (another tried & true Trek plot).

But the best part is Julian and Miles talking about ex-girlfriends / marriage. This came across as genuine and realistic. Never been a fan of Keiko and this episode is one reason why -- shouldn't she show more emotion when she's told Miles is gone? And she doesn't even realize that Miles does drink coffee in the afternoon. It's nice that DS9 actually has a married couple on the station but these 2 couldn't be more inappropriate for each other and annoying together.

Good enough for 3 stars for "Armageddon Game" -- good performances by Meaney and Siddig made this worth watching, but I still find it hard to come to grips with the aliens needing to kill Bashir/O'Brien -- and of course, they take their time in doing so such that the 2 DS9 crewmembers get transported in the nick of time. Also think a bigger deal could have been made about the reaction to the deaths on DS9 but the series has definitely established a solid partnership in Bashir/O'Brien, while fleshing out their characters in this one.
Sat, Jul 14, 2018, 7:05pm (UTC -5)
I don't really understand all of the complaints I see here about Bashir 'easily' being able to cure the effects of the Harvesters. The guy literally spent nearly 400 attempts to neutralize the weapon and succeeded. I don't really see how it's impossible that, in knowing how to neutralize them from the experiments, he could cure it as easily as a flu. It's like knowing exactly how to cure a disease, and the Harvesters are chalked up as another one.
Thu, Jul 26, 2018, 12:29pm (UTC -5)
The best part about "Armageddon Game" is the character development of O'Brien and Bashir. Their friendship is one of the highlights of the Star Trek universe. The plot of this episode is unfortunately extremely weak.
Fri, Jul 27, 2018, 3:10pm (UTC -5)
Adding on to my previous post, I'd go 2.5 stars for this episode-characterization matters more to me than plot in tv shows.
Mon, Dec 3, 2018, 12:08pm (UTC -5)
Watching and commenting:

--An OK start, though I sure hope we move off this setting and back to the station.

--O'Brien: "I suppose another day won't kill me." Yuh oh. Famous last words.

--Ummm, what gives here? Why the lies to Sisko from the aliens?

--I like the Julian/O'Brien interchanges.

--Oh, no! Don't make me watch this "Keiko being informed" part. Brooks does well, and it's well done. Just hard to watch.

--Even Quark comes through.

--I love that Keiko is the one who notices possible tampering because she "knows her husband.
" Go, go Keiko!

--The last minute save! Hokey but effective.

--Clever escape, though why wouldn't the Kellerun, et al, continue pursuing this? Find out if they're still alive? Send assassins?

--Ah!! Love the ending where Keiko finds out Miles DOES drunk coffee in the afternoon!

I think this ep is about the knowledge we carry, and how it can inform us and save us and mislead us and even kill us.

I liked it very well.
Mon, Dec 3, 2018, 12:44pm (UTC -5)
Some thoughts after reading comments and review:

--The ending, with O'Brien's comment about coffee, is certainly meant to surprise us and make us laugh, but it isn't just a joke or an attempt to undermine what came before, IMO. It speaks directly to the ep's theme about the nature and value of knowledge, and what informs our choices.

--The "Keiko being informed" scene . . . realistic and well done. Not everyone becomes hysterical. Something in Keiko doesn't really believe what she's hearing. Is that about good instincts, or about denial, a very common reaction? Maybe a bit of both.

--You can bet she's watching that recording looking for how Miles might still be alive, rather than how he died.

--This isn't a request for an explanation, but: I keep reading negative comments about Keiko, and it makes me wonder what might be ahead, because throughout TNG and so far on DS9, she's been just fine. Some every-day type of bickering, but both husband and wife seem to clearly be committed to each other and Molly.
William B
Mon, Dec 3, 2018, 2:48pm (UTC -5)

I like Keiko and don't really feel down on her the way others do.

It's a good point about Keiko & the coffee reveal at the end being on theme. I guess I sort of still felt it was a bit -- I don't know. A bit jokey at the expense of the kind of sweet idea that Keiko *did* know something specific about Miles that saved his life. I guess we can still say that Keiko knew she had to try everything to save Miles and so seized on something that was not actually true, even if the spirit underlying it (her love of, and knowledge about, Miles) was true.
Mon, Dec 3, 2018, 3:14pm (UTC -5)
I thought DS9 missed a big opportunity for a character arc around Keiko. Especially considering her heritage is Japanese, her constant complaints, worries and judgements through the series could have been used for some kind of marital conflict and force her to embrace her history and bring about a more zen-like attitude more appropriate to 24th century ideals. It can't be healthy for a child to be raised in such an environment, after all. My mother wasn't nearly as bad as Keiko and believe me, it rubs off on the child.
Mon, Dec 31, 2018, 11:24pm (UTC -5)
3 stars

A decent enough episode

Bashir can be annoying. As a result one of my least favorite characters

The episode had an effective sense of jeopardy and tension. First with the bloodbath on the ship lab with the duo barely escaping. Then on the planet with O’Brien sick and the realization that the odds of someone finding them in time were slim to none

Not as interesting but still alright were the scenes back on the station. Pretty much standard fare with the exception of the nice scene with Dax and Kira latee joined by Quark.

I may have expected a bit more resistance by Sisko to keiko’s basis for thinking g the data clip was altered but things from there fell into place nicely

The twist that the slaughter of their scientists was out of fear of harvesters ever being produced again was fairly inventive
Sun, Mar 24, 2019, 12:41pm (UTC -5)
A new version of "Armageddon Game" below.

Not many recent comments so I may be a little late to the game. I am a long time TNG fan who could never bring myself to embrace DS9. I have now decided to force myself to get through the first couple of "growing pain" seasons as the characters, actors and writers try and find their groove (just as TNG had to in the early days). My frustration with the early episodes of DS9 isn't the sub par acting and 2 dimensional characters, that can be forgiven and I have faith that DS9 will come into it's own. My frustration is with the main character of any trek series and that is the Science, I would have expected that in this regard DS9 would be taking the reigns from TNG and learn from their mistakes and build on their successes. On the contrary, DS9 seems to be starting from scratch and putting little thought into plausible technical explanations, instead using lazy writing to create any contrived situation they want no matter how ridiculous.

"Armageddon Game" is a perfect example of this laziness. With just a little thought the writers and director have an excellent episode on their hands. The character building between O'Brien and Bashir is well done and most of the action elements of the plot can work with just slight revisions.

So let's fix this episode!

First, as has been pointed out by most of the commenters on the site, the premise around the difficulty of destroying this biological weapon does not ring true as well as the virility and toxicity of the biological agent does not make sense. What's frustrating is the writers have a perfect analogy in our present soceity to build the story especially a story called "The Armageddon Game". The 2 sides have been maintaining a Cold War style peace due to the theory of Mutually Assured Destruction. Each side has the Harvesters and the planet's population have lived under the constant threat of extinction for decades. Now Scientists from one side or both have reached out to the Federation in a hope of finding a cure or vaccine that would eliminate the biological threat. This is where the writers would invent a reason why Dr. Bashir would have been chosen to assist, maybe he has studied and done research in vaccine creation and has researched this planet's biological weapon. An interesting element to this 24th century HazMat lab is an emergency button (big and red behind a break glass style cover), it is explained to Bashir and O'Brien that in the case of a terrorist or enemy attack as a last defensive measure, the button will build up a radiation pulse that will eliminate everything in the lab, Harvesters and people alike. Also, because they are dealing with one of the worst biological weapons ever developed Bashir and Obrien are in full HazMat suits.

Ta Da! Dr. Bashir is successful (with the help of Chief O'Brien) and just like the episode they are celebrating the creation of a vaccine/treatment that will render the Harvesters obsolete. Everyone lives happily ever after except...

Rogue elements of the governments have come together on both sides to protect the status quo, in fear that without the pending threat of the Harvesters, the two sides will be doomed to a long and bloody war. The action can proceed as it did in the episode (but it will make more sense since in the episode they attacked before the last Harvesters were completely destroyed, in this version they only care about destroying the vaccine and the scientists who created it). In the fight that ensues, O'Brien's HazMat suit is torn (Oh NO) and only seeing one way out of this O'Biren quickly enters some transporter codes and hides the records of where they transported to (as is always easy to do in Star Trek and he is O'Brien the King of transporter tech) and he yells to Bashir to hit the emergency button. Bashir grabs his iPad with the research and hits the Fail Safe and the 2 transport to the planet as a pulse wipes out all living matter in the lab.

Bashir and O'Brien get to the planet, and Bashir take off their HatMat suits. The episode can continue for the Bashir and O'Brien as was written with a couple of changes. When O'Brien starts to get sick, Bashir gets an intense look and grabs O'Brien suit and finds the tear. O'Brien "I'm infected?" Bashir "We both are. We have to get this cure to the T'Lain". Another good scene that would exist is as O'Brien is slipping deeper into the sickness and Bashir is trying to fix the com. link, we see Bashir shiver and realize that both our hero's are on borrowed time (Da Da Daaaa). It has been mentioned multiple times that the biological agent isn't that scary because people don't get sick right away. This is actually what makes an effective biological agent (watch Outbreak), if an agent acts to quickly it is easily isolated and its spread controlled. Now, a slow activating agent gets spread quickly through a community and is much harder to control. The problem with this episode is the writers didn't seem to have made the agent contagious at all (or at least not airborne), I have remedied that and the agent is still slow to activate but spreads like wildfire.

Back on DS9, things can continue as they were, it's unfortunate that there has been so little character development between the main cast that there is little emotion or story to draw out of them. The best that could be done is from Dax (hopefully DS9 will invest the time to create some greater bonds between these characters). A great opportunity is missed and what should have been a homerun of a scene (assuming Avery Brooks could pull it off). When Sisco tells Keiko her husband has died is the opportunity to Sisco to delve into his own experience losing his wife and it wouldn't have been a bad idea to end the scene with Molly coming in and showing Keiko's realization that she has to tell her daughter she has lost her father.

The government officials story to Sisco is different now, the lab was attacked by terrorists, the cure was lost and in act of heroism Dr. Bashir sacrificed the scientists in order to keep the weapon out of terrorist hands. The video is still doctored but just the portion showing them transporting off the lab. This will allow us to get rid of the stupid "he doesn't drink coffee in the afternoon" and "I looked at the spectoanalyis". What would be better in my mind is someone like Dax recognizing that O'Brien is inputting something right before the Fail Safe is triggered. Personally, I would like Dax to take the video to the HoloSuite (TNG style) and recreate the scene, from this detective work Dax would conclude that they may have transported to the planet and that someone had doctored the video. Sisco and Dax head off to confront the T'Lani.

Okay, maybe there are more than slight revisions. Back on the planet, Bashir and O'Brien are now very sick, they have had their deep conversations about marriage, love and loss. Bashir has fixed the com. link and has called the T'Lani. The T'Lani and the Kellerens burst in with guns drawn, remove the long drawn out scene where they explain things and painfully draw out their execution. As soon as they burst in, Bashir and O'Brien are beamed up to the Run About even as laser blasts are filling the room.

The stand off at the end is also changed for the better because Sisco has an Ace up his sleeve. The T'Lani and Kelleren hit squad from the planet have beamed up to their own ship and are now demanding Bashir, O'Brien and the research be handed over. Sisco to the ambassadors "How are you feeling? I have two very sick men over here, it seems that they have been infected and from what I know about the Harvesters, you may want to rest a bit." Ambassadors "Send us the research or we will destroy your ship"
Sisco "It's over, the cure has been sent to your scientists, the Harvesters are no more. It will be up to your people whether or not you are the last victims of that terrible weapon. I suggest you give them a call."

Now Bashir, O'Brien as well as Sisco and Dax can be treated at DS9 rather easily as Bashir has the cure. Last but not least, let's get rid of the end coffee line which I half expected the Seinfeld end credit and music to start playing. Instead, I suggest ending on the O'Brien and Bashir relationship, so much was done during the episode that it would be nice to have some building of their character arcs. Bashir "How you feeling Chief?" O'Brien "Much better Doc, thanks to you." Bashir "I'll leave you two alone." O'Brien "Oh doc, I have something for you, it's not much but I thought.. well open it when you get back to your room." Bashir, opens a piece of paper (or the Star Trek equivalent of paper), smiles, contemplates, looks at his monitor and types. A woman comes on screen. Bashir "Hi.... (whatever the Ballerina's name was" fade to credits. A nice way to end that elevates the Bashir/O'Brien friendship and also shows Bashir maturing and thinking about the possibility of long term romantic relationship.

Well, as I said earlier, I'm not sure if anyone is still reading these comments and who would ever get this far down the comment chain but if you do and you took the time to read my version, would love to hear your thoughts, edits and reviews.
Mon, Apr 22, 2019, 9:20am (UTC -5)
Just a couple of things:

1) Bashir’s ability to provide a cure for the bioweapon hasthe potential to nullify the danger it presents but is never expolred as an alternative to the complete extermination of all knowledge of the biological toxin.

2) Keiko saved both Bashir and her husband. All Bashir’s efforts would have been in vain without her investigation of the vidoefile. Also, if she had been able to say to O’Brien in an arch way that she didn’t know Miles drank coffee in the afternoon it would have suggested that, in her despair, she had simply clutched at any believable marital knowledge that Sisco might swallow to hold on to her husband a little longer. This would have helped develop Keiko’s character and would not necessarily gone aniss amongst a welter of flimsy plot points.
Mon, Oct 14, 2019, 5:50pm (UTC -5)
Hated the way the ending just had to undermine Keiko. She was believable for me in this episode and I wish they'd left it at 'she really does know her husband'.

@Michael I like the revisions!

I did wonder if it was easily curable and less contagious because they were human, and the aliens' physiology was different. I don't think the writers had that in mind though, otherwise they should have mentioned it and not left it to look like a plot hole.

Also, I could be wrong but wasn't altering memory engrams still risky in the 24th C? It's been a while since watching any other Trek though so I may have forgotten or be confused with something else.
Jamie Mann
Sun, Nov 24, 2019, 1:11pm (UTC -5)
Another weak episode with some nice character interactions.

As other people have noted, there were numerous ways to get rid of the biological weapons from basic chemistry to firing them into the sun or even just using a teleporter beam to convert them to energy and scatter the energy into nothingness.

And then, the decision to kill everyone associated with the weapon - including the Starfleet staff tasked with aiding in their destruction. Which is akin to killing a mechanic who's dismantled a carnival despite the fact that the mechanic would have no way to build the car from scratch.

The icing on the cake is that this cunning plot is averted by a wife's intimate knowledge of her husband - which is revealed at the end to be completely wrong!

There's other issues as well, such as the way in which this "deadly" bio weapon is both incredibly slow working, non-contagious and surprisingly easy to cure. But fundamentally, it's all a setup to give Bashir and O'Brien some "quality" time together.

And even that falls a bit flat: there's a bit of heart-to-heart conversation between them, but there's no real change in their relationship come the end of the episode.

In the end, it's another fairly weak episode in a fairly weak season.
Tue, Jan 14, 2020, 9:44pm (UTC -5)
Lesson to be learned - when undertaking a covert activity, don't add any extras that don't absolutely need to be there (e.g. Miles drinking coffee). Rusty said it well to Linus in Ocean's Eleven, "Don't use seven words when four will do."
Sat, Aug 8, 2020, 7:48pm (UTC -5)
I liked this episode and found it entertaining. My main issues were why do all alien races dress exactly the same? I find it hard to believe that every person on a planet all wears the same brown outfits. My other issue with Keiko as she was super unrealistic. No one would ever react that way to finding out their husband just died.
Picard Maneuver
Sun, Nov 29, 2020, 3:14am (UTC -5)
I like how Starfleet sends one random 20-something year old junior doctor who is basically a general practitioner rather than a staff of epidemiologists and virologists to solve the harvester virus problem. Well, at least that makes more sense than sending the recently promoted transporter chief as well.

I have fond memories of the bunker scenes. It's good that they work so well because I forgot literally everything else about this episode, and for good reason, apparently.

On the topic of the Defiant, it's a little unrealistic that they didn't get a real ship the moment the wormhole was discovered, either through their direct use or through a permanent attaché. There probably should be at least one starship in visible range at all times and another half dozen or so a Space 911 call away.

I always got the impression that Miles loved Keiko while she mostly tolerated his presence.

Regarding the clumsy manner in which they tried to destroy knowledge of the virus, I guess they've found a solution for the Streisand Effect as well in the 24th century.
Paul M.
Sat, Dec 19, 2020, 1:59pm (UTC -5)
Ah, I've always liked this one a great deal and it mostly comes down to The Bromance. The story itself is nothing we haven't seen on Trek: some silly-looking aliens (those hairstyles really *are* hideous) want to kill our jolly heroes. Shame on them! But character work is extremely solid and it elevates the entire episode. It certainly stuck with me over the decades!

All the O'Brien / Bashir scenes are good, but the one where they talk about marriage being the ultimate adventure because you are on it together is particularly memorable. Bashir reminisces about his great ballerina love back on Earth that he hasn't heard from since graduating and how career officers are so often forced to put their duty ahead of marriage and family. Their conversations are understated and natural... and the more O'Brien expresses his annoyance with Bashir, the more it's clear there's real respect behind the gruff exterior. When O'Brien says "it's been an honor serving with you", you can feel he's sincere. He started liking the good Doctor and it's a sweet moment. Of course, he can never admit as much to himself, so when Keiko asks him how it was to spend all that time alone with Bashir, he responds with "it was hell!". I love these two!

Stationside scenes were perhaps a bit too pat which does bring episode down a notch. Keiko doesn't have much of a reaction, but that is probably a matter of Rosalind Chao's limitations as an actress as much as a matter of direction. I did find Quark's toast a very good example of how to use Quark properly, always a Ferengi yet with much more to him than meets the eye. Also, that Bashir gave his journals to Dax so she can understand him better and the fact that she never got around to reading them is such a nice way to remind the audience of the fun connection these two have.

Armageddon Game is an episode that had no right to work nearly as well as it does. But when a show takes time to flesh all these characters, as DS9 has done over the past year and a half, we shouldn't really be surprised with the results.

* * *
7.5 out of 10.
Wed, Jan 20, 2021, 9:51pm (UTC -5)
This is pretty much exactly a TNG episode, and a decent one. It’s of particular interest for anyone who’s seen the entire series and are interested in the evolution of the Bashir/O’Brien friendship.

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