Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"The Jem'Hadar"

3.5 stars

Air date: 6/13/1994
Written by Ira Steven Behr
Directed by Kim Friedman

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Hoping to spend some quality time with his son, Sisko takes Jake on a survey of a Gamma Quadrant planet. Quark and Nog come along—Nog as a friend and partner in Jake's science project, Quark to suck up to Sisko in a poor attempt to convince the commander to let him sell merchandise on the station monitors. The pairing of Sisko and Quark is at the very least lively, and some of the Federation/Ferengi polemics that arise are actually relevant.

While on this planet, Sisko and Quark encounter and are promptly imprisoned by the Jem'Hadar—the menacing foot soldiers of the nefarious Gamma Quadrant organization called the Dominion. Apparently, the Dominion considers ships coming through the wormhole as violation of their territory.

"The Jem'Hadar" is "comic book DS9" in many ways. This isn't nearly as substantive as most of second season DS9. The Dominion is large and foreboding, and the plot consists of mostly action scenes and a prison-break premise. But this is good comic book DS9. It's fun, but it's also pretty intense at times, especially when a Jem'Hadar soldier visits the station and supplies Kira with a list of ships the Dominion has destroyed—along with news that they have decimated the New Bajor colony in the Gamma Quadrant. (Nana Visitor's performance sells the scene more than anything else.)

Meanwhile, Jake and Nog attempt to pilot the Runabout back to the station themselves, with little success. The idea of "teenagers flying the ship" is utilized for some great comic payoffs—Jake and Nog have always been fun to watch when they get in over their heads. The episode ends with the best battle scene the series has attempted to date. A Jem'Hadar kamikaze that destroys the Galaxy-class USS Odyssey is quite visceral. The episode is mostly high adventure and comedy, and it works well. (And stuff gets blowed up real good, too.) With the introduction of the Dominion, the series adds yet another element to its canvas which will fuel many stories to come.

Previous episode: Tribunal
Next episode: The Search, Part I

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142 comments on this post

Sat, Mar 8, 2008, 6:24am (UTC -5)
I recently watched this series, and it's probably one of my favourites. "Homecoming", "Whispers" and "The Maquis" two-parter are up there with my favourite DS9 episodes. I prefer seasons 2 and 3 to the later, darker seasons - there's an extremely good mix of action, adventure, interesting characters and interesting politics. That's not to take anything away from the incredible changes to the landscape (the Klingons and Romulans taking a stand in "By Inferno's Light" and characters (Sisko in "Rapture" and "In the Pale Moonlight") in those seasons.

The suicide run by the Jem'Hadar ship on the Odyssey blew me away when I first saw it. I remember reading about the fan reaction in Sci-Fi magazines, and people were already putting the Dominion on the level of the Borg. At the time, they had no idea that the Dominion storyline would become such a huge part of the show.
Thu, Jun 12, 2008, 8:06pm (UTC -5)
Chris, I think sesaon 2 was fairly good but nothing compared to later seasons but that should been expected, this show only got better as time went on.

But I do agree that when I saw the Jem'Hadar ship destroy the Odyssey as a kid, it did leave me feeling a little ill as I thought it could have been the Enterprise. But that episode and that scene was a really good way to introduce a genuine threat to our characters.
Mon, Nov 2, 2009, 10:45am (UTC -5)
Has anyone ever read the DS9 Nitpicker's Guide. It only covers the 1st 4 seasons of the show but the author, in the section on "The Jem'Hadar," basically says that all the subsequent Dominion stories from Season 3 onwards are (for all intents & purposes) nits because the Federation simply didn't stay out of the Gamma Quadrant as Third Talak'Talon wanted them to do.
But I guess the series just wouldn't have been as exciting if our heroes were babysitting a wormhole they couldn't use.
Mon, Nov 2, 2009, 1:34pm (UTC -5)
Jerry, I think it was more like the Federation wasn't going to be bullied around. Either that or the Federation knew they couldn't stop everyone from going into the Gamma Quadrant and weather it was the Federation or someone else, confrontation would have been inevitable anyway. I think the reasoning was that the Dominion was going to come eventually so they had to be prepared.
Mon, Nov 2, 2009, 2:34pm (UTC -5)
I remember reading that. Not that I agree with it, but Phil (the author) seemed to say that the Dominion War could've been prevented if the Federation simply stayed on their side of the wormhole.
I, for one, am surprised that the Federation just didn't collapse the wormhole after the events of "The Jem'Hadar" to keep the peace.
Elliot Wilson
Wed, Feb 10, 2010, 5:17pm (UTC -5)
charlie - The Dominion would have invaded anyway. All they wanted to do was control -- the Founders just as much admitted, "What you control can't hurt you" and that they wanted to bring "order" to the galaxy. Though I do agree about the wormhole comment -- they tried to close it in The Search Part II but when they found out about the Founders it was like they forgot! What the hell! Granted, no Dominion means no storyline, but practically speaking the Federation (no matter how "peace-loving" they are) should have REALIZED the Dominion was a serious threat on a massive level the AQ hadn't seen before, sealed up the wormhole despite the Bajorans' protests, and prepared for the inevitable confrontation: Building fleets of starships, training troops, equipping armies essentially. Pacifist idiots.
Wed, Jul 21, 2010, 1:19pm (UTC -5)
The last scene of "The Jem'Hadar" is what sold me on the show. I'm not referring to the Odyssey destruction scene (though that was also goood), but to the scene in Ops where it is revelaed that Eris is a spy and that the Dominion wanted them to escape. The writers basically took a long-established Trek cliche of Easy Escape due to Overconfident Enemy [TM] and turned it on its head.
Tue, Dec 27, 2011, 11:30am (UTC -5)
That biological energy weapon that the Vorta had fire from their chest was quite ridiculous...I can see why they scrapped it in S3 and beyond.

Weyoun would have been ridiculous with it.
Latex Zebra
Thu, Mar 29, 2012, 2:57am (UTC -5)
The point Phil Farrand misses in his nitpick is that they also destroyed the colony... New Bajor was it. Probably others. You just slink back to the Alpha quadrant and close off the wormhole after innocent people have been wiped out.

Not on my watch!
Latex Zebra
Thu, Mar 29, 2012, 3:01am (UTC -5)
That could have been mentioned in another episode though.

Gosh wont I look silly then.
Wed, May 2, 2012, 5:08am (UTC -5)
Capt. Keogh: Starfleet's orders are simple. No traffic through the wormhole until we investigate the Jem'Hadar threat.

Then he & his ship get blown to bits and, next season....we see traffic going through the wormhole again.

Am I the only one who finds this odd?
Thu, May 3, 2012, 11:25am (UTC -5)
Latex Zebra:
"The point Phil Farrand misses in his nitpick is that they also destroyed the colony... New Bajor was it. Probably others. You just slink back to the Alpha quadrant and close off the wormhole after innocent people have been wiped out.

Not on my watch!"

So, you wouldn't close the wormhole, thus ensuring that the Dominion couldn't wipe out any more people on your side?!?
You MUST be one of those gung-ho types.
Nick P.
Thu, Jun 28, 2012, 8:24am (UTC -5)
There is nothing cowardly about knowing when you are outmatched.
"He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious." -Sun TZu

Yes, the federation took a ridiculous chance by not closing the stupid wormhole. I know this is entertainment, but for every Braveheart, there are thousands of over-matched underdogs who LOST.
Latex Zebra
Wed, Jul 4, 2012, 3:43pm (UTC -5)

lol no. I'm pretty placid. It was supposed to be a light hearted comment.

Common sense says collapse the wormhole.
The Federation are often inconsistent with thier common sense though.
Fri, Sep 28, 2012, 6:04am (UTC -5)
I just rewatched this episode and that struck me too. Bajor (and by extension the Federation) unknowingly set up a colony in occupied space and when the occupiers say "stop entering our space" the answer appeared to be..."too bad"? On the other hand the Dominion did capture officers and detroy the colony in retaliation, I suppose the escalation happened more as a result of that than anything. Had they said "hey please remove your colony" things might have been different.
Wed, Oct 24, 2012, 11:17am (UTC -5)
The Federation's approach after this episode was strange. The Nitpicker's Guide essentially called the Federation out for violating sovereign borders after this episode, prompting a war.

There should have been one line of dialog, either in this episode or in one of the next several involving the Dominion, that said that the Federation agreed to stay out of Dominion territory but not the Gamma Quadrant as a whole. That would have been a reasonable Federation stance -- which the Dominion might not have accepted, leading to the war.

As for collapsing the entrance to the wormhole, Sisko et. al did show willingness to do it in "The Search", but only in the fake scenario created by the Dominion's experiment. When the characters woke up and returned to the station, they probably figured they still had time to devise another solution, because the Dominion was still in the Gamma Quadrant.

Over the next couple season, Sisko became more engaged with the Prophets, to the point where killing them by destroying the wormhole was probably not an option. It's worth noting that Kira is not in the Dominion's fantasy scenario in "The Search", so no one of Bajoran faith was around to object to collapsing the wormhole.

By season 5, when Sisko et. al opt to seal the wormhole, not destroy it, in anticipating of a Dominion invasion. Kira objects, but is overruled. When the Dominion sabotages Sisko's attempt to seal the wormhole, it occurred in a way that made sealing the entrance impossible (hence mining the entrance in "Call to Arms").
Mon, Jan 14, 2013, 11:03am (UTC -5)
"The Jem'Hadar" was a good episode and a fun way to end Season 2. That said, The Search I would have been an *awesome* season ender (much like BOBW I), but I don't know if the writers planned that far ahead.

Also, I suppose the writers needed a way to explain why Sisko went back to Earth for 3 months (coinciding with the 3 month summer intersession between Season 2 and Season 3) in his attempt to obtain the Defiant.

I loved the character interaction between Sisko/Jake, Sisko/Quark and Jake/Nog in the jungle. The Jake/Nog scenes with piloting the shuttlecraft were funny, but I think it seemed slightly inappropriate and took away from the seriousness of the episode.

Lastly, the visuals of this episode were fantastic. Seeing a Galaxy-Class starship that looks identical to the beloved Enterprise D destroyed is a crazy feeling. Also, it was great to see an atypical Star Wars-like battle between the runabouts and the Jem Hadar warships.

My rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars
Mon, Jul 15, 2013, 1:45am (UTC -5)
The decision to show the Jem'Hadar annihilating a Galaxy-class starship was a smart one. It was a impactful scene that demonstrated quite effectively that the Dominion was a very serious threat to the Federation, perhaps even more so than the Borg.

I liked the scene where Quark points out to Sisko the dark chapters of Human history for which the Ferengi have no analog. Sisko's startled reaction to the word "slavery" was particularly noteworthy. EXCELLENT performances from both actors.
Mon, Jul 15, 2013, 12:21pm (UTC -5)
re: Odyssey

Recall that this episode aired 3 weeks after the TNG finale. If it looked & felt like Enterprise blowing up, as Comp625 (and Jayson, years ago) said, well... the symbolism wasn't lost on me. (Nor on Phil Farrand, who points it out in his Nitpicker's Guide.)

re: nitpicking

The conflict is not so much with this episode, given that the Federation could (and evidently did) choose not to recognize the Dominion's territorial claim. (Farrand's main nitpick is that this is inexcusably arrogant and provocative.) No, the conflict is with the following episode, which so effectively portrayed how dangerous the Gamma Quadrant had become. For two years, we had strolled through the woods, la-di-da, and then we learned that a bear lived there. "The Search part 1" re-entered those woods with a well-placed sense of dread. But as the months and years went by, it's as though we forgot about the bear.

In season 3, they still have the good sense to bring their warship in "Meridian" and "Destiny." But by season 4's "Hippocratic Oath," they're comfortable in a runabout.
Tue, Jul 16, 2013, 10:54am (UTC -5)
@Grumpy: Farrand's point is kind of intriguing, but I felt it was heavy-handed. I always felt this was a writing problem, not a concept problem.

At issue is whether the Federation respects sovereign borders (it does) or crazy claims about sovereign borders. As established in later episodes, the Dominion does not control the entire Gamma Quadrant. I wish a DS9 character in this episode or early in season 3 had made that distinction.

If that had happened, everything that followed in seasons 3-7 could have been basically the same. One of the key points about the Dominion was that the Founders felt their duty was to bring order to a chaotic universe. An interesting dramatic point could have revolved around the Federation staying out of Dominion territory but the Founders still deciding they needed to bring order to chaos. It could have showed how uncompromising the Dominion could be.
W. Scott Richardson
Sun, Aug 11, 2013, 7:55am (UTC -5)
"Like Earth in the early Devonian period." That would be the period when ancient humans 'whipped it... whipped it good!'
Tue, Oct 22, 2013, 5:04pm (UTC -5)
An exciting story episode. Great way to end the season.

Wed, Jan 29, 2014, 11:02pm (UTC -5)
Quite the copout at the end, when Eris beamed away...they wonder where she beamed to, but then Kira saved them from having to deal with it by saying "she'll be back".

Where did she go? Did she beam all the way back to the Gamma Quadrant? An absurd notion, but if so, shouldn't the wormhole have opened? Otherwise, how could she have?

"She'll be back" is insufficient explanation.
Thu, Jan 30, 2014, 10:26am (UTC -5)
@Jack: It's established later that Dominion transporters can cover a few light years. So, Eris probably beamed to a ship out of DS9's main sensor range.
Thu, Feb 20, 2014, 12:42pm (UTC -5)
@ Paul

A Dominion ship in the Alpha Quadrant?

I don't think any ever had come across by this point. And even if one had, DS9 would have been the first to know, because, again, the wormhole would have opened.
Thu, Feb 20, 2014, 4:38pm (UTC -5)
@Jack: It wouldn't have had to be a Dominion ship.

Remember, that the Jem Hadar third in this episode seems to have a lot of information about the Alpha Quadrant. So, it's likely that some Dominion spies stowed away or otherwise got passage to the Alpha Quadrant.

Then, finding a shuttle or somewhere that Eris could have beamed to -- we later learn that Dominion transporters have an operating distance of like 3 light years -- wouldn't have been THAT hard.
Wed, Apr 30, 2014, 1:15pm (UTC -5)
For me the best part of this episode was Quark's speech to Sisko. I realized Quark was right! When I started watching DS9 after TNG, I thought I would have to at best "tolerate" the Quark-episodes... but now I find I'm looking forward to them and I like that he's such a major character in the show. I saw him and Rene Auberjonois at a convention recently and they have wonderful chemistry between them.
Tue, Jun 24, 2014, 8:50pm (UTC -5)
I was actually pretty disappointed with this episode set. For one thing, why doesn't Sisko have enough spine to tell Quark and Nog that it's a father-son trip? But that's minor compared to the fact that an entire starship got destroyed in the effort to save only four people (five if you count the traitor).

Also, the Vorta woman wasn't handled well by Sisko. So Quark takes him aside and tells him that she's a traitor. What does Sisko do? He immediately confronts her, despite the fact that she doesn't know he's found her out. He could have milked the deception further and got more information, but instead just pulls out his phaser and watches her leave. Not the best way to handle that, Sisko.
Mon, Jul 7, 2014, 1:07pm (UTC -5)
I good introduction to the Dominion.

Couple interesting takeaways for me.

#1 as Nissa states above, I agree. Sisko botched this one. What better way would there be to get insight on the Dominion? What better way to misinform the Founders?

#2. I thought the Sisko/Quark growth part of this episode was great. I also liked how committed Jake is to helping his friend succeed.

#3. It was interesting that the Jem'Hadar soldier that was present on DS9 didn't recognize Odo as a founder (neither did the Vorta). I know they couldn't give it away then, but you'd think the brainwashed Vorta would have at least noticed.

Good closer to season 3. A sign of good things to come on DS9.

3 of 4 stars for me.
Mon, Jul 28, 2014, 9:20pm (UTC -5)
I wonder why no other vorta used that energy bolt from the chest. That was kinda cool. I guess most vorta we meet have a group of jem'Hadar soldiers to protect them but I can think of a few instances where they could have used that.
Sat, Aug 16, 2014, 8:46pm (UTC -5)
Paul said:

"Then, finding a shuttle or somewhere that Eris could have beamed to -- we later learn that Dominion transporters have an operating distance of like 3 light years -- wouldn't have been THAT hard."

In that case, I would think the crew would be VERY interested in figuring out just where that shuttle might be, rather than just a "She'll be back"
Sat, Aug 16, 2014, 11:55pm (UTC -5)
It is disappointing that we only saw the vorta energy weapon once. But given the vorta are clever from this episode, she was essentially the brains of the group, later seasons it makes sense that they showed them to be diplomats and strategists. And their intelligence conniving nature was so much more worth it.
I read in memory alpha that the dominion already knew of the federation and odo was part of the plan, b4 the wormhole was found out. The wormhole changed the first contact invasion dynamic. FederTion would never be contant with staying in their own galaxy, they need to push their ideas on others...
Sun, Aug 17, 2014, 1:07am (UTC -5)
My personal theory on the energy bolt was that it was an act of some sort, to facilitate Eris' gaining Sisko's trust and planting herself in the Starfleet camp as a spy by giving her a way to "break the force field" and creating a ruse that would make all of them work together to escape which would then strengthen their trust of her. Sort of like the prison cell in the TNG ep "Allegiance". Probably a holographic technobabble thingy of some sort.
Sun, Aug 17, 2014, 1:03pm (UTC -5)
You win a No Prize, Z. Your theory changes the twist, though. No longer "The dampener was fake so she could've escaped at any time" but "The dampener was fake because she had no powers to dampen." For that matter, the invisible-and-instantly-lethal force field (that the guards fail to warn their prisoners not to touch) might've been just lights on the floor.
Brian S
Mon, Jan 12, 2015, 7:19pm (UTC -5)
A few points:

-In addition to the Odyssey being a Galaxy-class starship like the Enterprise, it was not lost on me that Captain Keogh looked an awful lot like Captain Picard.....just to add to the visceral reaction of seeing the ship kamikazed in the end.

-Trying to arrest and detain the female Vorta the moment Sisko learned something was up was the prudent thing to do. Sisko is a Starfleet officer, which means he probably thinks more like a security or military officer than a spy. He was more eager to eliminate the threat than to try to draw it out to see what could come from it, especially since it seemed pretty evident that both Sisko and Starfleet had no real idea yet of the depth of the threat the Dominion posed. Besides, in Sisko's view, arresting her and then interrogating her WOULD have given them a decent amount of information.

-Where did the Vorta beam to? True, they never answered that question. But after all the episodes of all the years where Starfleet personnel escaped by transporting onto some ship that was hidden in some sensor blind spot, or using planetary interference to sheild from sensors, or what have you, it's probably fair to assume something similar.

-To answer why you'd send a starship after 4 people, the answer is simply it was a rescue mission. How many times was the Enterprise (TOS or TNG) put in peril in an attempt to rescue just one or a handful of the bridge officers?

-It's possible only a few of the Vorta were genetically engineered with that telekinetic ability.

-Sisko wasn't spineless in telling Quark/Nog it was a father-son trip, he was spineless (so to speak) in telling that to Jake. Ben wanted a father-son trip, Jake wanted to bring his friend along. Dad protested, Jake begged, Dad gave in. It's a fairly classic parenting dilemma. Father wants to spend time with son, growing son prefers the company of his friend over his dad. Throw in the bit about a school science project, and Dad felt guilty about both putting his own desire for time with his son ahead of his son's wishes to spend time with his friend and possibly interfering with a school project. He doesn't give into Nog, he gives into his own son's preference for independence and what he feels is right as far as facilitating learning for the both. He objects to Quark, but once he allows Nog on board, he knows better than to forbid Nog's guardian to go along.
Wed, Jul 22, 2015, 10:38pm (UTC -5)
This episode certainly did it's job: creating interest & excitement about the next season.

That said, I don't hold it up as highly as most people here seem to. The comedy mostly failed to make me laugh, and the acting didn't seem very strong.
William B
Tue, Aug 25, 2015, 8:50am (UTC -5)
So here ends season two, which coincides with the end of The Next Generation. Voyager and Generations are coming, but for a short time DS9 is the only Trek around (in early s3), and with Ira Steven Behr writing this episode, this represents the end of an era and something of a changing of the guard from Piller to Behr as showrunner. The episode's focus on the Ferengi and the introduction of the Dominion signals some of Behr's projects which will come to have meaning as the show goes on. In that sense, I find myself having mixed feelings about this episode. I don't know if DS9 was really thumbing its nose at TNG much of the time, as Elliott suspects, but given Behr's somewhat public dissatisfaction with TNG, it is a bit hard not to see some of his fingerprints on this episode, which marks something of a break of DS9 from TNG roots:

1. Sisko brings Jake and Nog -- children! -- to the dangerous Gamma Quadrant on a Science Project, seemingly content that scientific exploration is its own reward, and is repaid with nearly dying;

2. The initial portrayal of Quark as deeply annoying to Sisko comes to a turnaround point where Quark offers not one but two speeches about Ferengi superiority to humans, which Sisko does not reply to -- repudiating the Ferengi's initial antagonistic role in TNG, of course, as well as to some extent TNG's conception of evolved humanity;

3. Keogh, captain of the Odyssey, a Galaxy-class ship which, of course, looks just like the Enterprise, is regarded by Dax as arrogant, an accusation sometimes leveled at Picard;

4. The Jem'Hadar blow up the Odyssey, while the scrappy Runabouts get back to safety, confirming symbolically that what is needed to defeat the Dominion will not be TNG style ships but our Little Guy DS9 heroes.

Now, the connection to TNG in the first two points is arguable. I do think that the Odyssey definitely is meant to evoke the Enterprise, but one could also say that the destruction of an Enterprise analogue is meant not to posit DS9 as the only game in town, but to demonstrate the Dominion's power by way of drawing out a big emotional response because of the audience's connections with the Galaxy-class ship. Still, I think this episode does represent something of a thesis statement for Behr's idea of what this show should be, and how this makes a break from what came before. And that's okay, in and of itself, so long as it's presented well and is consistent with the universe that we've seen.

And it sort of is. Mostly. Taking the two major elements of the episode as the Sisko/Quark material and the introduction of the Dominion:

1. Sisko and Quark:

I generally enjoyed the Sisko/Quark/Jake/Nog material through the episode, and especially the way Jake and Nog's easy friendship and teamwork contrasted to the more difficult adaptation of the adults to each other. Jake and Nog argue, particularly when things look hopeless, but they fundamentally know that they are on the same team. Quark and Sisko are in greater opposition; Quark complains about everything, can't deal with the lack of creature comforts, and is rude and embarrassing to his nephew, while Sisko gets increasingly annoyed and superior over Quark's inability to adapt to nature, in the early segments. It's a believable dynamic, and for Quark to point out that Sisko's unwillingness to tolerate Quark is unfair does have some merit. Quark, after all, was forced to stay on the station for Nog's sake, back in the day; and Quark's discomfort on the planet seems pretty genuine. It's not really Quark's "fault" that he doesn't have the same kind of built-in positive reaction to trees that humans do (Nog doesn't either, but is willing to go along with it), and Sisko's disgust that Quark would level a forest for profit is a little bit annoying -- what does he think led to the development of technology and starships? And it seems to me that Quark getting annoyed with being treated badly for not buying into the exploration-for-exploration's-sake stuff that Sisko believes in is in character. The Ferengi are treated as fools when they can be quite canny, Quark treated as a criminal often without proof, and so on. And this leads to some pointed speeches -- first about the limits of Federation tolerance, second about the fact that Ferengi "have no equivalent" in their past to human slavery and concentration camps.

The problem I have, ultimately, is that Sisko does not shoot back at all -- which leaves Quark with the last word. The first time, Sisko says that he does not have to stand there and defend himself, and the second he says nothing. Now, fine -- Sisko doesn't argue back with Quark because this isn't the time. But the out-of-universe effect of this is to give Quark the last word *twice*, with no real counterargument being presented. The main counterargument the episode *does* present is that Quark really *is* annoying, whiny, and cowardly, and that is definitely something. And if it were just a matter of Quark being more self-interested than Sisko would like and more whiny than is useful, maybe Quark's point would be appropriate to let stand. But that's not the whole issue. I felt like I needed someone to point out to Quark that he is distrusted because he *is* a criminal, who tried to act as middleman to run guns to Sakonna, who took advantage of a storm and mass evacuation to let people onto the station who nearly killed Jadzia, his closest non-Ferengi friend, whose casual disregard for procedure led to the unleashing of the virus in "Babel" on the station, and so on. Quark's claim that Ferengi have nothing like slavery in their history would hold more value if it weren't that women in Ferengi society have almost no rights, to the point where they are not allowed to have *clothes*, and that is in the present, not in the past. It is not that Quark has no point, but there are obvious, glaring reasons to distrust Quark and to disrespect Ferengi culture, which need to be brought up if the limits of human/Federation tolerance are to be discussed in any real way.

Besides, Quark's big speech comes after Sisko lets Quark invites himself on a trip no one (not even his nephew) wants him on in the first place, to ask for special favours to use station resources for his own profit, tried to keep mum when Quark's boorishness was driving his own nephew away in embarrassment. Further, Sisko is already basically arguing that Quark's actions can be helpful to Eris when she doesn't believe them. Quark's big speech about human slavery etc. comes at a time when Sisko has already largely been good to Quark for a while.

I still like the way the two form a pretty effective team, though. The episode does make clear that while Quark's understanding of locking mechanisms and his self-interest (in wanting to replicate the telepathic suppressor) are useful, Sisko's ability to empathize and his courage help him get through to Eris to lead to their escape, and Sisko refuses to leave Quark behind. And it does help that the underlying reason for Quark's big speech to Sisko is at least partially, I think, because Quark respects Sisko's courage and goodness and actually wants Sisko's approval, which he gets once it becomes clear they work better in concert with each other.

2. The Dominion:

I think the most pressing comparison is to "Q Who," which introduced the villain that came to redefine TNG (and was used appropriately sparingly there). The episode gets some of the same things right about that episode, by revealing that there is a frightening, powerful enemy out there that is beyond what the series has shown so far. I've got to say, though, while the hints about the Founders are interesting, the Jem'Hadar themselves are boring at this stage. There are some episodes which use the Jem'Hadar to great dramatic effect -- I'm thinking "Rocks and Shoals" most of all, but also "Hippocratic Oath" -- but the qualities that make them interesting, such as the question of how much free will they have when programmed by the Founders and kept in line with drugs, are absent in their intro. We don't actually see their physical prowess, even, so we mostly have Eris' word for how scary they are, until they ram into the Odyssey at the episode's end. They are mostly a near-faceless threat at this point.

I do think that the Jem'Hadar blowing up the Odyssey is meant to show how they are too powerful for the Enterprise to handle, if it were here, and to establish that defending against them will require something particular to the DS9 characters. That in itself is mostly good -- it is good to differentiate this series from TNG and to tell stories particular to this show. That said, I do still think there is a bit of a sour vibe to the way it was all executed. Keogh talks about how no one besides Kira and O'Brien has combat experience, which is true, and Dax looks annoyed; and then the Runabouts leave okay and Keogh's ship gets destroyed with all hands -- who is the one with the proper combat training NOW, huh? And that the Odyssey gets destroyed in about two minutes whereas two teenagers are able to survive (in the Jake-Nog plot) similarly seems to put the scrappy-outsider over the titanic, powerful ship. Except, of course, that the reasons the Runabouts survived is that the Jem'Hadar left them alone; it is hard to say what tactical error Keogh made, besides going there in the first place, or besides waiting for five minutes for the rescue of Sisko to take place. I suppose here I could just say that I'm probably reading too much into it here and so not get annoyed, and I will mostly do that -- but still, bringing on a big ship to demonstrate how scary the Jem'Hadar are, while they pose no threat to the regular cast because they don't bother to fight them, feels a bit cheap dramatically.

We don't know much more about them at this point, but my girlfriend, who is new to this series, immediately said "They've got a point" when a Jem'Hadar said that they disapproved of Federation entry into their territory. It is surely awful for them to destroy a Bajoran colony unilaterally, ad their plan to plant Eris as a spy on the station does not speak well of their intentions. Still...what *are* the territory rules for the Dominion? While the Dominion seems scary, and has displaced several people (like the Skreeans), most of the stuff we know about how scary it is comes from Eris' reports in this episode, which we can ignore, and the Jem'Hadar's extreme aggression toward Alpha Quadrant colonies, which *could* be a very extreme defensive posture rather than an expansionistic one. I don't quite recall how it all develops, but I do think that as of this moment it is not clear that the Dominion is any worse, morally, than the Klingons in the 23rd century, say, which means that it does at least in principle seem possible to achieve some sort of peace by withdrawing from what they declare to be their territory -- which, well, we'll see how it's all dealt with. I want to note that it's not necessarily true that the Dominion's claim to territory has any merit, but there is not much information either way at this point.

I think the episode is entertaining enough, but pretty thin -- and the episode's meat, such as it is, has some problems, so I'm going to go with a high 2.5 stars.
William B
Tue, Aug 25, 2015, 10:20am (UTC -5)
To elaborate a bit more: I do think that the conflict between Sisko and Quark is pretty interesting and could in general work; Quark and Sisko are appealing opposites, because Sisko has nobility and a desire to work for a common good but also holds grudges, stays angry over long time, and takes betrayal very personally, whereas Quark is primarily self-interested but his anger dissipates quickly and he does not really hold other people in disregard. And they also have a lot in common, both people who care about their family and are willing to bend/break rules and manipulate for their ends. In general, Quark as a complex figure who demonstrates that self-interest is dangerous but has some benefits even beyond the self is one of the show's best characters, even if he is sometimes not used very well. I'm just a bit annoyed with how this episode had the conflict develop, and wasn't wowed by the rest of the episode, hence the rating of average, though maybe I could be convinced to go up to 3 stars. I admit that my streaming was frequently interrupted when I watched it, so it may be a better episode in terms of tension and effectiveness than I gave it credit for, and I don't know how to gauge that aspect of things without rewatching (with better streaming), which I may do at some point, so consider this rating (as all ratings are, really, from me at least) approximate and provisional.

Another particularly annoying moment is Odo saying he will go to look out for Quark, and Kira saying "I thought you hated him!" or whatever. Seriously, it's been two seasons, everyone knows they are frienemies, you don't have to keep having characters express surprise at the idea!

Season wrap-up:

Episode ratings, where they differ from Jammer's:

The Homecoming: 2.5 (-1)
The Siege: 2 (-1)
Invasive Procedures: 2 (-1)
Melora: 1 (-1)
Rules of Acquisition: 3 (+1)
Second Sight: 1.5 (-1)
Sanctuary: 1 (-1)
Rivals: 2 (-.5)
The Alternate: 3 (+.5)
Armageddon Game: 2.5 (-.5)
Paradise: 1.5 (-1.5)
Playing God: 1.5 (-1)
The Maquis: 3 for both parts (-.5 for both)
The Wire: 4 (+.5)
Crossover: 3 (-1) [not sure about this rating]
Tribunal: 2 (-1)
The Jem'Hadar: 2.5 (-1)

Best episodes: Necessary Evil, The Wire; runners-up: Whispers, Blood Oath, Cardassians.
Worst episodes: Melora, Sanctuary; runners-up: Second Sight, Paradise, Playing God.

So overall, I like the season a fair bit less than Jammer did when he reviewed it, as it seems, though there are a few episodes (The Wire, The Alternate and Rules of Acquisition) I prefer and quite a few I like about the same. I think it is a step up from season one, and overall a pretty good year, particularly with a good run from Blood Oath to The Collaborator which buoys the overall impression of the season quite a bit. I think The Jem'Hadar is average-to-good, but it is a season finale that helps suggest some excitement for the coming year. I don't like Tribunal, but otherwise the last third of the season is good stuff that suggests some of the interesting material that the show will have -- continuing to develop Garak and Dukat interestingly, introducing the inter-Federation/ex-Federation conflict of the Maquis, further examining cultural differences in Blood Oath and The Jem'Hadar and the Sisko/Dukat and Bashir/Garak threads, and still keeping the Bajoran political theatre alive with The Collaborator. Crossover heralds a bunch of MU stories in the future, which I am not sure if I'm looking forward to, but also suggests the precariousness of the *current* large-scale political situation and fates by positing a (presumably) plausible alternative, which furthers the themes of The Maquis and The Wire, about what it is that people are capable of in extreme situations. It's a pretty effective run of shows that show the series bringing its disparate elements together, and it also has good and sometimes great material for most of its cast.

Before that, though, the season was pretty rough and uneven. Necessary Evil, Whispers and Cardassians were standout episodes, and I also quite liked The Circle, Rules of Acquisition and The Alternate. That's not a great success rate though (one in three), and looking over the remaining episodes I find that few of them seem all that important, in addition to not being that good.

By character. I will also include a star rating out of 4, though this is pretty arbitrary (how do you evaluate how well developed a character is, measured against what they tried to accomplish?):

Sisko: I still struggle with getting a full handle on him. The biggest Sisko stories of the year were probably the opening trilogy, Second Sight, Paradise, The Maquis and The Jem'Hadar. Most of what worked about the opening trilogy did not have to do with Sisko, though Sisko's encouragement of Li to take on the mantle of responsibility even if he did not particularly believe he deserved it was somewhat analogous to Sisko's position as Emissary, which was mostly irrelevant this year (besides Winn trying to exploit it in The Collaborator). Sisko's loyalty to Cal was a major focus of The Maquis, but was hard to see in the moment; his adversarial relationship with Dukat, however, was really strongly delineated. Sisko's very strong connection to the past -- to his loyalty to Cal and to Dax, his continuing to pine for Jennifer to some degree -- seems to be a recurring trait, and something that keeps him, perhaps, somewhat stable but makes it difficult for him to adapt to changing circumstances, as happens with Hudson. For Sisko, things are largely personal. The dynamic with Jake is pretty enjoyable overall and his friendship with Dax largely rings true. Success: **1/2

Odo: He was the lead and had a key role in the season's two best outings (Nec. Evil, The Wire) -- and overall the year did a lot to solidify this character and his strengths and flaws. In particular, I like how Necessary Evil was followed by episodes which did seem to start a kind of opening up of Odo to re-living his past -- childhood by proxy in Shadowplay, his relationship with his father -- and the end of the season suggests the opening of his feelings for Kira, which may/may not be a good thing for the series going forward but is an interesting wrinkle, particularly as the series is setting him up for divided loyalties starting in early season three. Probably the most successful character material this season. Success: ***1/2

Bashir: The biggest draw for Bashir this season was the two big Bashir/Garak stories -- Cardassians, in which Bashir & Garak took up about half the show, and The Wire, in which they dominated the whole story, Bashir in particular. And, well, I haven't written up The Wire yet, but I think that episode is the best depiction of Bashir the series has yet done. Mostly, what works about it (and the Bashir/Garak dynamic, from Bashir's side) is that it puts Julian in a situation where his desire for adventure and the unknown and his desire to help others are both useful and necessary, while also showing the double edge of his naivete -- his willingness to help Garak in spite of what he may/may not have done both renders him somewhat hurt and unprepared for the depths of what Garak may be capable of, and allows him to go forward and help someone when others cannot. This is somewhat applicable to Melora as well, though that episode was obviously much less successful. The Bashir/O'Brien material in Rivals and particularly Armageddon Game is decent and the relationship between the two progresses nicely and believably, but I am not fully invested in the pairing yet and I am not sure how much it fully reveals about the two at this point. So, pretty well handled overall. Success: ***

Dax: The character was rebooted somewhat successfully, and Jadzia is a fairly likeable and enjoyable presence for the most part. Playing God to me was a failure overall, but much of it was about solidifying this take on the character, which started a bit in season one and came to greater fruition in The Siege. Whether her partying and joie de vivre adds much depth to her character is harder to say. I think that her supporting role in Rules of Acquisition -- both as contrast and confidante for Pel -- was a good use of the character that would have been difficult in season one. Blood Oath is maybe the best episode about Dax so far, but still a lot of what works about it are the Klingons and the abstract question of where Jadzia Dax's loyalties should be, rather than the internal conflict in Dax herself (which was mostly underplayed -- a pretty effective choice overall). Jadzia is largely left out of Invasive Procedures entirely. Blood Oath finds a way to tie in Dax's long history with the long history of the franchise, which continues to show the potential of the character, which is pretty infrequently realized. Success: **

Jake: Not much to say; him deciding not to join Starfleet is reasonable. The Runabout material in The Jem'Hadar is fairly amusing, and I like that he looks out for Nog. There's very little to say though, since he is a member of the cast that is particularly rarely used. Success: **1/2

O'Brien: The main "development" for the character is in his relationship with Bashir, which is not thrilling at the moment but is developing well. There is some continuing undercurrent of what his feelings about Cardassians are supposed to be, but there is a sense of him being reset every time a new Cardassian story comes up, which has a bit of a treadmill effect. Tribunal was a pretty dull story which reveals little about O'Brien. Still, O'Brien's resourceful, small-scale, family man and underdog status leads to a number of stories for which he is the perfect vehicle, including Whispers (of course) as well as the MU version in Crossover and the tech investigator in Paradise (the best part of that episode). I do think that indications that the O'Briens' marriage is a happy one are drying up, and that may or may not be a deliberate development and may just be that it's hard for this creative team to depict a content couple; I'm not quite sure. Meaney is definitely one of the strongest in the cast. Success: ***

Quark: Shimerman is another of the strongest in the cast, but he's gotten somewhat weaker material this year. I liked Rules of Acquisition more than most, and Quark was a highlight in some otherwise disappointing stories (like Rivals), but Profit and Loss was something of a disappointing bust and the subplot in Melora was awful. The best uses of Quark tend to be in episodes not about him -- I liked his material with Sakonna in The Maquis quite a bit, for example, and his function as a neutral agent in stories about the Occupation and its aftermath (The Homecoming, Necessary Evil, The Wire) is a delight. On the downside, some episodes do a lot of damage to Quark's dignity without offering much compensation -- the dumbness of his seat-selling scheme in The Siege and his dragging around latinum, for example, and worst of all the whole thing in Invasive Procedures. I have mixed feelings about his big moments in The Jem'Hadar. So I am not all that happy with Quark's development this season overall...but I also still like Shimerman's performance so much that he's still generally better to have on screen than not. Success: low ***

Kira: While no episodes explode the character the way Duet did, I think that the season overall is better to her than season one was -- less yelling, more comfort in the role. I do wish that she was given more to do in the opening trilogy, which gives her something of a spiritual crisis and then leaves it unresolved, except maybe insofar as the answer to her spiritual crisis is to get a priest for a boyfriend. Sanctuary tried to provide Kira with another situation where, as in Progress, she was on the other side, but overall the episode largely failed. What did work is the continuing of shading Kira's and other Bajorans' roles in the Occupation, with two of the key episodes -- Necessary Evil and The Collaborator -- being, respectively, about Kira's moral position being undermined to her friend, and Kira's view of one of her heroes being rendered more complex. Crossover, meanwhile, puts Kira in the position of The Villain while allowing Our Kira the ability to start a resistance movement against who she could have been. On the minus side, I still find her romance with Bareil to be pretty anemic. Success: ***

Garak: Only four episodes here -- Cardassians, Profit and Loss, The Wire, and Crossover -- the last of which doesn't tell us much about Our Garak, which is fine. Of the remaining three, one is a classic, one is very good and one is a disappointment in which Garak is the primary saving grace -- though I admit that Garak's actions in Profit and Loss are hard for me to understand fully, somewhat weakening his character story this season. Still...and I should talk about this more when/if I write up The Wire, Garak is one of the most complex and fully-realized characters in Trek, and this is true in spite of his limited screentime. The Wire is his breakout episode, and it is wonderful. Success: ****

Dukat: I think Dukat's breakout episode is The Maquis two-parter, which reveals him as a man with some sort of code of honour and professional conduct and loyalty to his people, which coexists with his ruthless disregard for the lives of anyone he deems unimportant. This is after good work in Cardassians and a great presence in Necessary Evil. Not much material this season, but, like Garak, what he has is rich, and Dukat is shaping up to be one of the best villains (he is still largely a villain, though a complex one, at this point) in Trek. Success: ****

Rom: Rom the Idiot is starting to develop here, particularly in Rules of Acquisition, and Rom the Idiot Savant more or less comes to fruition in Necessary Evil. I have mixed feelings about this, but at the moment Rom is not particularly annoying. Success: **1/2

Nog: Not much material this year, though his friendship with Jake continues, especially in the finale. I don't have much else to say. Success: **1/2

Keiko: They have largely dropped any scenes in the school, so that Keiko's main role is that of the worried or nagging wife, which I think is not really all that great a role, especially since the show regularly undermines her even/especially when it seems that her closeness with Miles is real and meaningful (e.g. Armageddon Game). Success: **

Bareil: Zzzzzz. *1/2

Winn: Another effective villain, though her perspective is not as fleshed out as Dukat's so far (and won't be for some time). Success: ***
William B
Tue, Aug 25, 2015, 9:33pm (UTC -5)
Y'know, I think the episode largely does succeed in its goal of stoking interest for the next season, and going from field trip and interpersonal squabble to mass destruction drives the change in scale at this point home. My annoyance at aspects of the Sisko/Quark story doesn't erase the parts of that story I liked, too. The episode is funny and exciting. And I think the Eris reveal maybe works if we assume that she is more or less accurately relating a cover story -- that her claim about Kurill Prime was a true story, only it did not happen to her; this preserves the Dominion-boogeyman element while also demonstrating the Dominion's using fear as a tool. So I am upping to 3 stars -- which also has the effect that the run from Blood Oath onward only has one episode below 3, which is indeed an impressive run.
Tue, Sep 15, 2015, 8:44pm (UTC -5)
Something I found extremely interesting about this episode, moreso than any of the Dominion stuff, was Quark's point that the Ferengi have no history for committing atrocities. Which I feel does a lot more than it seems to on the surface. First off it establishes that the Ferengi do have a degree of morality that many other species do not. While it's easy to remember that while the Klingon's may be bloodthirsty barbarians in many respects, they have a strict code of honor. It's harder to keep that in mind with a species as classibly underhanded as the Ferengi. We tend to see them as having no scruples but this points out that they do in fact have many scruples, they have a listed set of rules that Quark has pretty much memorized. They're just different from ours.

This also helps explain a lot of the behaviour the Ferengi exhibit. Their seemingly contradictory willingness to push for deals with extremely dangerous parties and their tendency to drop down groveling for mercy at the first sign of violence makes a lot more sense when you realize that in their culture there would be almost no chance of that kind of violent reaction ever happening so of course they push beyond what other people would consider reasonable as they have little framework of repercussions and are unaccustomed to those levels of violence so it makes sense that they freak out the second it shows up. It also shows how they can be so savvy and so stupid at the same time. Quark lets the guys on the ship who want to kill Dax because the idea that they might screw HIM on this deal is always in his head, but an elaborate MURDER plot? How would that be profitable? Like he says "you wouldn't come all this way to NOT buy the merchandise". Same with gun running. Sure Quark'll sell the Maquis weapons. To him weapons are just a product that yes, he's AWARE are used for murder and war but people in wars are soldiers who signed up for that shit. The idea that they would be used for gross violence against civilian targets isn't' something he really considers They're prone to naivete in many respects until the barrel of the gun is actually staring them down. And besides, if Quark doesn't get them those weapons, he assumes someone else will so if there's profit to be had why shouldn't it be his?

One thing we often miss as humans is that the Federation initially treats everyone else like they're going to react in the way humans would and we think that's fine but we don't consider that other species will do the same thing and it should therefore also be fine. Ferengi are out to screw everyone else out of their cash because they assume everyone else is out to screw them out of theirs. Using those underhanded tricks is totally fine to them because they've codified those tricks into a series of rules that everyone is supposed to know in their culture. Lying is not a sin in their ethos. it's a tactic they are always watching out for, the same way "little white lies" aren't sins in our culture because we value compassion the way they value entrepreneurial spirit.

Humans are like low level Vulcans. We're so innately violent and duplicitous that they need firm levels of compassion and self control to keep our society stable. The Vulcans have to keep their emotions completely in check at all times to keep themselves from descending into utter warfare and they've become noble for it because they HAVE TO BE. But Ferengi don't have that problem. They don't descend to those levels of depravity so instead of saying "everyone needs to act at this high standard of behaviour to make sure everyone plays fair and society works" they can instead say "OK. We've all agreed we're going to spell out all the ways we know to be shitty to one another and agree we're all going to be ok with them so that everyone knows exactly what they're getting in every interaction and nobody is going to be shocked by it and that way we'll make sure that everyone is playing fair no matter what and society works." and that's honestly one of the most interesting takes on the way alien ethics work that I think I've ever seen in Sci Fi.

They're still awful misogynists though.
William B
Tue, Sep 15, 2015, 9:25pm (UTC -5)
@Easter, I agree. I think in particular, Quark's willingness to grovel immediately and to let bygones be bygones quickly reveal a lack of egotism in certain respects that seems to be a general Ferengi trait -- because they have assets, they don't have quite the same drive to protect their image. That makes Quark a great contrast to Sisko, who is braver and will self-sacrifice more easily, but can also become obsessively vindictive; in this respect Sisko is closer to the Founders than Quark is.

The misogyny is a problem when Quark starts trying to claim there is no slavery in Ferengi history.
Ben Franklin
Wed, Sep 16, 2015, 1:35pm (UTC -5)
I, too, liked this episode a great deal especially when I first saw it. It was a great introduction to the Dominion and Jem'Hadar. However, there are several gripes I had upon seeing the episode after watching the rest of the DS9 series (where the Dominion's abilities aren't so blown out of proportion).

Upon subsequent viewings, I found myself disappointed in the over-exaggeration of the Jem'Hadar's abilities. The Dominion clearly have much bigger and more powerful ships (as displayed many times in future episodes), however, a Galaxy class starship isn't even able to do damage to a couple of scout-class Jem'Hadar ships before being completely destroyed. Additionally, a Jem'Hadar was able to walk through a containment field after beaming through Federation shields. Both of these acts were performed without even blinking an eye. In other words, the Dominion is basically impossible to stop given current Federation technology and abilities. If this kind of overpowering technology were applied equally across subsequent seasons, there would never have been a long drawn out war... there would have been a short-lived slaughter.

I would rather have seen the Galaxy class ship horribly damaged than fully destroyed or at least able to damage ONE of the Jem'Hadar scout-class ships. Perhaps if a larger Dominion ship were involved in the battle, the complete destruction of the Galaxy-class ship without dealing any damage wouldn't have seemed so ridiculous. Yeah, yeah, it was really emotive watching a ship that looks like the Enterprise being destroyed so easily. But I'm not a fan of contriving emotional response while violating the continuity of the universe the story is set in.

But, once again, beyond those hyper-fan nitpicks, the episode is a great intro to the Dominion/Jem'Hadar.

First viewing 3.5/4 stars
Subsequent viewing 3/4 stars
Thu, Sep 17, 2015, 1:04pm (UTC -5)
@William B

Quark's implication that the way they treat women doesn't count as slavery may or may not be incorrect but when we think of slavery and women's rights we generally think of them as two separate issues, the former of which being more extreme despite the fact that our own culture basically treated women exactly the same way as Ferengi society besides the clothes thing so we're generally just as guilty as they are of not conflating the two ideas. I mean, even today in western culture we clearly still have gender roles which, while less extreme than the ones from pre-suffrage are insidious and oppressive in their own quiet ways. And these also exist in the federation. While the job situation seems to be dealt with more or less, women in Starfleet do their hair and makeup while men do not. Implying women are still held to standards of beauty and presentation that men aren't. There are conversations between characters in DS9 and TNG that show that the characters still have a very 90s idea of gender and sexuality. So Human's are one again not actually as noble as their high horses might suggest. I have no actual evidence for this next statement (and the show may go on to prove me wrong. Jem Hadar is as far as I've gotten in star trek. I'm watching DS9 for the first time now and don't know who the founders are though I've generally pieced together from people's comments in these threads that they're Odo's species. But I suspect it will neither confirm or deny this headcannon of mine) but I would suspect that Ferengi are less likely to beat, kill and otherwise violently abuse their wives because they're just not that violent or murderous until you reach stakes like becoming the Grand Nagus of the entire species. Which means Ferengi females have less of a NEED for a revolution (if just as much right to one) than human females did. They are kept, to some degree, in a gilded cage (and Ferengi are all about gold) so returning to my general thesis of "in star trek species progress morally only as much as they NEED to" with Vulcans being the most noble because they're innately the most barbaric and Ferengi being the opposite. Their women are the more oppressed because they lack the do or die pressure to rise up that the women of more violent species would have when reduced to the status of objects and second class citizens. None of this is meant to JUSTIFY anything the Ferengi do. I just think it's a fascinating take on the historical and sociological reasoning that led these three cultures (Human, Vulcan, Ferengi) to be where they currently are as a result of where they started from and what they had to do to advance.
William B
Thu, Sep 17, 2015, 2:35pm (UTC -5)
@Easter: Oh, I agree. I was writing very briefly (and I talked about this episode earlier) and unclearly. Quark's claim that they have nothing of the kind of barbarism of slavery strikes me as a statement to which there was an obvious response which was left unsaid -- that the conditions of Ferengi women can be described as a form of slavery. However, I genuinely agree that the Ferengi seem less likely to be violent, and that as a result the need for revolution for Ferengi women is less pressing that the need for revolt against slave states in human history. The Ferengi have low standards relative to what most humans I know consider good and ethical behaviour, but for the most part they have high standards for their *unethical* behaviour. Their default setting is raging self-interest with not all that much compassion, but without much violence or malice, either.

I'm reminded of the line from TNG's "The Battle" in season one: DaiMon Bok was removed from command because there is no profit in revenge. So much of human (and Vulcan) behaviour depends on behaviour which is to hurt for its own sake -- or perhaps even to hurt someone out of a (usually misplaced) sense of justice.
Thu, Sep 17, 2015, 9:02pm (UTC -5)
Nice analysis, Easter. I like that train of thought and can see the logic behind it. I'm sure that wasn't the intention of the writers for that line, but who cares? It's a better rationale for Ferengi antics rather than the usual desire to use them as charicatures.

Unfortunately, it still isn't perfect regarding their treatment of women, as William pointed out, but that's not your fault. The problem is that their treatment of women simply makes no sense, period. I know the "They clothe their females?" line is too specific to retcon away like practically the rest of The Last Outpost, but the whole women with zero rights thing simply doesn't fit with Ferengi culture.

You made a point of comparing Ferengi treatment of women to past treatment of women on Earth. That analogy doesn't work, however, because women were still valuable in other societies. Women still were required to raise children, cook food, mend clothing, work on the farms, etc. Compare that to the Ferengi culture, in which women seemingly do nothing (well, still raise children, but in a society with long life expectancies and small families that's not enough).

We know the Ferengi got to space before humans. So they've had at least 500 years since their industrial revolution, maybe more. Now, imagine there's a struggling entrepreneur on Ferenginar. For whatever reason, he has a labor shortage at the moment. He needs one or two unskilled workers to keep his business afloat and to make his profit. But there simply is no labor. What does he do? He consults the Rules of Aquisition. He reads that he should exploit his family. Well, he's already exploiting his brother and his son and his father. But wait, there's his wife or daughter or mother or sister sitting there. Why shouldn't he exploit her too? Get her to work?

Don't tell me that cultural norms would prevent it. Making a profit is the highest good for a Ferengi, it's what their religion is based off of. There are countless examples on Earth of people breaking laws, breaking cultural norms for their religion and accepting the consequences of their actions. It's undoubtedly so for Ferengi too.

So he puts her to work. There's two options here: she could demand (and receive) a wage or not. The second option isn't possible: not only would it contradict Quark's statement regarding slavery, but it would also represent a market efficiency. Since women are used to being treated as property by their families, there would be no need for security to prevent slaves from escaping, meaning labor costs drop dramatically compared to competitors that aren't using female slave labor. So that would soon become the norm among Ferengi. Which obviously isn't the case.

So he pays her. She now has spending money. Ferengi can market products towards women now, because they have money. They can invest and build their own trade. And with it comes an increase in overall Ferengi profits. And so they gradually end up having significant rights as well.

Or to put it as succinctly as possible, why the bleep would a race of people obsessed with capitalism leave a valuable resource, consisting of half their population, unutilized???

Answer: because Holywood writers don't know a thing about capitalism.

Frankly, the only way this would work is if Ferengi women were not a potential resource. And the only way that could happen is if there's some significant sexual dimorphism in the Ferengi species. As in, Ferengi women are literally all barely sentient morons. But that would be way too un-PC to write, so instead we got some vomitously awful episodes on pro-PC Ferengi feminism (sorry for spoiling things for you Easter; although now that you know it's coming you can hopefully save yourself and skip the atrocities up ahead!)
Diamond Dave
Tue, Nov 17, 2015, 1:54pm (UTC -5)
My first reaction is that there's a lot of filler in this episode - the first quarter and most of the kids in peril stuff is amusing at best but fairly lightweight.

But when this gets into gear, it really gets into gear. Key is obviously the final revelation of the Dominion and the introduction of the Jem'Hadar, whose smooth delivery and obviously deep knowledge of events in the Alpha Quadrant offer an immediately chilling prospect. We then have some great shock moments - the Jem'Hadar walking through the containment field on DS9, the destruction of the Odyssey, and the final revelation of Eris as a spy. Sets up the next series nicely... 3.5 stars.
Mon, Mar 7, 2016, 10:12am (UTC -5)
SISKO: It's a shame I'll have to miss your reunion with Captain Keogh.
DAX: Don't you find him just a little arrogant?
SISKO: Funny, he said the same thing about you.
DAX: Did he?

I like this Keogh guy! It's a shame he had to die. :-P

ERIS: You have no idea what's begun here.

I doubt anyone watching "The Jem'Hadar" when it first aired had any idea; I know I certainly didn't. To be honest, I doubt that even the writers knew either. The Dominion ends up causing interstellar war between five different Alpha Quadrant powers (the Federation, the Klingons, the Romulans, the Cardassians, the Breen), they almost pull another power into it (the Tzenkethi), they bring about a near-genocide of one of those powers, old alliances fall and new ones are forged, important Federation worlds are conquered, Earth itself comes under attack and the principles the Federation holds so dear come to be re-examined. Star Trek had introduced new villains in the past, successfully so with the Borg and jaw-dropping incompetently with the Ferengi. But the Dominion is in a class all by itself. The Borg may have become more famous in the public eye, but the Dominion managed to provide much more long-term adversary. The Borg were great as curb-stomp style villains you simply did not want to mess with. The Dominion were great as a sustained threat.

So, how well does this episode work as the Dominion's proper introduction? I really like it! I like that what starts out as a fairly low-key, run-of-the-mill episode involving a family camping trip and Quark shenanigans ends up turning into one of this age's biggest events. I think it's fair to call this DS9's version of "Q Who?". Just like in that episode, we're given just enough information about the new villain to whet our appetite while further details will be provided down the road. And the threat that the Dominion represents is very nicely conveyed in two stand-out scenes. First, the one where the Jem'Hadar visits the station and threatens everyone. The sense of dread and foreboding is palpable (thanks indeed in no small part to Nana Visitor's reaction to the news of the destruction of New Bajor). Second, the destruction of the USS Odyssey. The message is crystal clear - even if this had been the Enterprise under Picard's command, they would also all be dead. Even the absolute best that the Federation can throw at the Dominion isn't nearly good enough. Starfleet is going to have to really step their game up to deal with this threat. And the final shot of Sisko talking about the coming Dominion threat is very well played and lays the groundwork for all future DS9 season finales.

The mixture of comedy (with Jake and Nog attempting to fly a run-about) and serious matters works surprisingly well. And the use of the Quark/Sisko dynamic is possibly the best aspect of the episode. What starts out as yet another feeble attempt to make the Ferengi look absurd (seriously, why doesn't Sisko want Quark selling merchandise on the station's monitors?) (it seems like a reasonable enough request to me) turns into something kind of profound when Quark is actually allowed to defend Ferengi society as "better" than Human society. And he makes some good points! The Ferengi may be greedy, but they've never had things like concentration camps and aggressive wars. Slavery? Well, you sure seem to be sugarcoating your culture there, Quark. Just ask Ferengi females what they think about that! Still, I very much appreciate the fact that the writers were willing to point out that the Ferengi aren't just caricatures. They have their flaws, but so do Humans.

If there is anything holding the episode back it's the rather obvious continuity errors with later Dominion episodes. Eris' telekinetic abilities are the most glaring example. The fact that Vortas never have anything remotely like this power again is a major omission and could have been easily resolved with a line of dialogue at some point saying that Eris was specifically genetically engineered for this mission. The fact that Eris does absolutely nothing to acknowledge Odo as a Founder is another glaring problem. These points show that, while the writers and producers were indeed planning for future installments, they clearly didn't have all the details pinned down yet.

WTF HAIR - 16 (+1)

Mon, Mar 7, 2016, 10:18am (UTC -5)
My theory is that Captain Keogh is a Picard proxy, as if to emphasize the point that The Dominion is bigger and scarier than what the Enterprise could handle. Keogh even tries to talk like Picard, it's kind of funny.
Shawn Davis
Wed, Apr 20, 2016, 1:24pm (UTC -5)
I agree with everything that Jammer says about this episode. It is a great introduction to the Jem'hadar and the dominion. I like some of the scenes with Jake, Nog, Sisko, Quark and the Vorta Eris as well.

I'll ignore the minor problem with the fact that the Eris and the Jem'hadar do not notice or acknowledges Odo as a changling and founder of the Dominion as some people here have pointed out. Even though it is a bit of a mistake, I don't mind it as it would have probably made the 2 part "The Search" 3rd season opener weak if writes have done this. I've also didn't mind that they removed the Vorta's telekinetic powers after this episode or at least never have the Vorta do that again as it may be too much of a deux-ex machina for the alien species and it makes the Vorta look stupid if you as me.

The action scences of this episode as Jammer said was comic book like, but a good comic book like stuff and not cheesy in anyway. Of course the best part of the episode is the Jem'hadar ship doing a suicide run in the Odyssey which is probably the best action scene in star trek history. That right is what make alien species like the Jem'Hadar so unique and the best enemy in the history of star trek.

I also agree with Easter and William B about the arguments that Quark made to Sisko while they were in Jem'Hadar prison about the ferengi not being as violent as human beings. Although this part of the story probably should of had it's own episode so that we can explore this concept more if is written correctly.
Mon, Aug 15, 2016, 2:51pm (UTC -5)
how come the Vorta doesn't freak out/ show reverence when Odo addresses her? She does not appear to recognize him as a Founder.
Otherwise great season finale.
Tue, Aug 16, 2016, 6:20am (UTC -5)

I mentioned that in my post as well. But thinking back, I believe the only Vorta that we saw showing intense reverence/worship was Weyoun... could that just be Combs chewing the scenery?
Tue, Aug 16, 2016, 7:39am (UTC -5)
@Yanks - Also let's not forget that Weyoun both poisoned Odo (in "To The Death") and had him fired on (in "Treachery, Faith And The Great River"). One might infer that it's not just Combs chewing the scenery, it's literally Weyoun hamming it up for Odo and that a great deal of the reverence was fake.

I mean he obviously loved the Founders, but I think he could take or leave Odo really.
Tue, Aug 16, 2016, 8:40am (UTC -5)

Don't agree here. Weyoun was just as "chewy" toward the lead founder. Didn't he "poison" him and fire upon him and the lead founders request? I seem to remember it tore him apart.
Tue, Aug 16, 2016, 9:16am (UTC -5)
Weyoun actually lies to the Founder about shooting at Odo. The poison I'll give you.
Tue, Aug 16, 2016, 10:08am (UTC -5)

I think Weyoun does have reverence for Odo, though. In the same episode where Weyoun orders Odo to be shot on, he also calls off the Jem'Hadar once his clone is dead, chancing any information leaked to go back to the Federation. In other things, Weyoun was willing to give Odo his Bajoran security force during Occupation 2.0. As for the poison thing in "To The Death", that's in the script but never spoken, so the directors effectively cut the scene from the show. Thus, it's really left up to the viewers' imagination how Odo got poisoned, and I can't imagine any casual viewer remembering some random handshake from 3 years earlier.

As for Eris's behavior, I would chalk that up to Early Installation Weirdness. I mean, she also shoots some sort of energy burst at a force field using her special magic powers. This ability is never shown by the Vorta in the series afterward.
Tue, Aug 16, 2016, 10:36am (UTC -5)
Sorry, it looks like I confused Odo's molecular disintegration "poisoning" with the Starfleet poisoning (boy, people are always messing with Odo's body chemistry). I still don't consider Odo's being poisoned by Weyoun the canon explanation, only because it's never mentioned in the show. It should've been referenced in "Broken Link", but they probably didn't want to confuse non-regular viewers who were tuning in for the finale.
Peter G.
Tue, Aug 16, 2016, 10:36am (UTC -5)
I think the loyalty of the Vorta in general is exaggerated, just as Weyoun says at one point about the Jem'hadar. In the case of Weyoun, though, I think it's legit, even if his manner of expressing it may be exaggerated in order to make himself appear harmless. The female Changeling at the very end calls him "Loyal Weyoun", which to me means he is special in that regard above the other Vorta, which would also explain why he's the one entrusted with being her #1. Just look at Kivan's behavior to see why *he* wasn't working at the top level.

Don't forget, though, that Weyoun's entire demeaner, or even personality, is a shadow play of weak/strong; vulnerable/deadly. He shows reverence in an almost pitiful manner, and is commanding in the next moment. He seems to feel something close to compassion at times, and then is utterly merciless in the next scene. That's just the way he's put together, and so purely based on how he acts around Changelings I don't think it's fair to compare how other Vorta feel about them since their behavior is nothing like his in outward show.
Tue, Aug 16, 2016, 11:06am (UTC -5)
Canonically, the poisoning doesn't really say much about Weyoun though, as Yanks pointed out. The handshake was an order given by the other Founders to punish Odo for KILLING a Founder. Reverence aside, I don't think it says anything about Weyoun's feelings that he's willing to do so.
Tue, Aug 16, 2016, 12:55pm (UTC -5)
"....reverence in an almost pitiful manner, and is commanding in the next moment. He seems to feel something close to compassion at times, and then is utterly merciless in the next scene. That's just the way he's put together, and so purely based on how he acts around Changelings ...."

Man, doesn't this speak to how good Jeffrey Combs is?

Same thing when he played Shran in Enterprise.

Nailed it.
Sat, Aug 20, 2016, 2:45pm (UTC -5)
The thing I found most difficult to believe in this episode was Quark's assertion that there is no slavery in Ferengi history. Aside from the status of females in Ferengi society, everything we've been shown about the Ferengi demonstrates they will nearly always put profit ahead of ethics. Are we seriously supposed to believe they've never seen the profit in slave trading? I don't buy it.
Tue, Aug 23, 2016, 4:45am (UTC -5)
Heya Heya

While I've mentioned before that I don't like to comment on things that have not happened yet, I am going to suspend that here for just a moment. We eventually learn that the Vorta we see are clones, and there are a few different types. Perhaps each type has its own personality. Weyoun-type Vorta is loyal, to a fault. Perhaps the other types are better at other things, and they use them as needed for each situation, all the way to a type that can shoot energy out of themselves...

Just musing on things...

Have a great day... RT
Wed, Feb 22, 2017, 11:36pm (UTC -5)
In regards to the comments towards Sisko's somewhat hotheaded decision to pull a phaser and confront the Vorta, rather than hatching an ingenious plan to feed the spy false information - I think it's worth bearing in mind that he had just watched the Odyssey blow up right in his face, and he knew that that ship and its entire crew had basically given their lives to rescue him, a mission which he'd just found out was basically unnecessary as he had meant to be set free all along. He was furious and obviously very upset, as was the entire rescue team who watched the suicide run, so his first reaction was probably to just go in, all guns blazing. In Spock's words, he was 'emotionally compromised' so didn't have the leisure of forming intricate plans to ensnare the spy. I thought Kira delivered an amazing performance in the scene where she and Julian watch the Odyssey explode, you can see the raw horror in her face and her eyes brimming with shocked tears.

That being said, it was pretty gut wrenching having to watch a Galaxy-class starship being destroyed just like that. Point taken, but lawd that was painful. Also I have to agree with some of the former comments here - I liked Keogh too, wish he hadn't died. It would have been nice to see some more of him.

All told this is an episode I enjoy rewatching, but mainly for the denouement scene and the destruction of the doomed Odyssey. The irony of the ship's name is not lost on me..
Thu, Feb 23, 2017, 3:27am (UTC -5)
Seeing the Odyssey get blown up must have been really terrifying to watch when this ep first aired back in the day, basically making the statement "If that had been Picard instead of Keogh, and the Enterprise-D instead of Odyssey, the ship still would have been lost with all hands" and establishing the Jem'Hadar as a credible threat without having to explicitly say much. Showing, not telling.

Yeah, that was definitely a well-done starship destruction scene. If it had to be done, do it like that. Star Trek Discovery, take note.
Thu, May 25, 2017, 3:38pm (UTC -5)
A fun episode and good way to end a season given the impending threat from the Dominion to be dealt with in Season 3.
Overall the episode had a good mix of humor and serious action scenes with a couple of unexpected twists at the end with the Odyssey getting blown up by the suicide tactic from the Jem'Hadar ship and the subterfuge from the alien female (forgetting her name now) who may or may not be one of the Dominion founders.
I will always LOL when the Ferengi are scared - hilarious when Quark sets himself on fire and Nog's fear when ships are approaching. But overall I found it a bit too much Nog silliness or exuberance. Also the beginning of the episode with Sisko and his kid doing the science project and then Nog/Quark coming along dragged on a bit too long for my liking.
Some quality dialog between Quark and Sisko about the history of their 2 races - for once Quark wasn't an annoyance in an episode (for me).
Certainly interested to see where DS9 goes with the Dominion.
For me 3 stars out of 4 - a decent battle scene between starships was nice to see as well.
Tue, Aug 22, 2017, 7:39pm (UTC -5)
I enjoyed that from beginning to end--aside from Quark's scenes. Man, I really can't get past my hatred of acquisitiveness.

I noted one thing that would support the idea that Eris had no actual powers and the force field (that supposedly would kill you) was really just a light show--THEY ALL SAT SO CLOSE TO IT! If I were being confined by a force field that would kill me, I'd sit in the middle. Wouldn't you?
Wed, Sep 27, 2017, 7:01pm (UTC -5)
3 stars

I was used to season finale cliffhangers and episodes being Events. This started out to me feeling like a regular old episode of the week with early portion focused on father/son bonding which was fair but after an entire season of whispers about the mysterious Dominion I was ready to get something on them so a lot of the pedestrian jake/sisko/quark/nog stuff was frustrating. Years later these scenes are more interesting

But things picked up immediately when the Vorta and Jem'Hadar show up.

The episode did effectively in making a Dominion seem like a major threat the way the Borg had once been--from the ruthless suicide run on the Odyssey, the ability to penetrate Federation shields with impunity, being able to step out of a containment field so casually, the horrific message they sent by listing the ships they destroyed on a pads they kept from their massacre of the New Bajor colony, the chilling " they fought well for a spiritual people", the shocking amount of information they knew of the Alpha Quadrant, the transporting of Eris with no idea where she could have disappeared to, her ominous warning that "you have no idea what's begun here", Sisko's " if the Dominion come through the wormhole, the first battle will be fought here and I intend to be ready for them"

The jake nog stuff on the runabout drug on too long. I did like though the fact that a character not in the main cast ie captain keogh takes charge. Felt realistic to me
Mon, Jan 1, 2018, 1:14am (UTC -5)
A number of people above ask why neither Eris nor the Jem Hadar appear to recognise Odo as a founder.

But they show no special ability to realise someone is a changeling in any other episodes. Even Odo can't seem to tell who other founders are just to look at them and talk to them.

The humanoid appearance the female changeling and others take on does look like him, but the Search Part II says that is then matching up to him. Other episodes establish that his look is the best job he can do of looking like a humanoid, not some kind of fault look for his species. So why didn't they acknowledge him as a founder in any way? Because no founder they had ever encountered looked like that.
Mon, Jan 1, 2018, 1:15am (UTC -5)
Fault look above should read "default look".
Tue, Mar 6, 2018, 12:11am (UTC -5)
I'm rewatching this for what must be the 20th time and the whole battle leading up to the suicide run has always come off as crap. Even when I saw it first run, every ship constantly shaking even when seemingly not being attacked, the Odyssey's phasers having zero effect on the Jem'Hadar ship.

All this stuff about laying down covering fire, Dax asking the Captain if he altered shield harmonics (surely he knew this?) seemed really dumb and overplayed to 13 year old Trekkie me and has me rolling my eyes when I watch it again.

The suicide run and Eris' escape did bring it back around for me and I COULD NOT wait for the next season to see how this played out.

Obviously the more I watch the episodes, the more the seams show and the more tropes grate. The Treknobabble was off the scale and would make for a fantastic, possibly deadly, drinking game. Shots everytime someone brings up subroutines would push the limits of the toughest drinker :) Double shots if they have to microscan a data cluster or just push a button to break the unbreakable encryption protocol.

It's still my favorite Trek series by far because so many plotlines played out over time. Very few resets, status quo return not guaranteed, etc. made for a compelling show that I couldn't miss.
Fri, Jul 27, 2018, 9:50pm (UTC -5)
"The Jem'Hadar" starts off slowly and innocently, but eventually becomes an action packed extravaganza that's pivotal to the series. Sisko, Jake, Nog, and Quark's trip to the Gamma Quadrant was fun enough, but the real standout of that part of the episode was Quark, who made some genuinely good points about the Federation. Then the titular Jem'Hadar show up, and the pace picks up and never really slows. An incredibly exciting and effective setup for Season 3.

3.5 stars.
Wed, Sep 5, 2018, 4:42pm (UTC -5)
Teaser : **.5, 5%

The writers are kind enough to write Cirroc Lofton back into the show in which he allegedly is part of the principle cast. Isn't that nice of them? Jake is messing around with a gadget for the science fair in their quarters when Sisko comes in. Sisko offers Jake the opportunity to do something a little more exciting than observing Bajoran vegetables grow, how about observing an entire planet? In the Gamma Quadrant no less!

In Sisko's office, Kira is outlining the details of a new Bajoran colony on the other side of the wormhole. This is a bit of a head-scratcher as in “Sanctuary,” Bajor was still struggling with resources. But they can afford to do expeditions and colonise new worlds? Also, Bajoran culture is way older than human, and would possibly have been far more advanced than the Federation if not for a. their backwards beliefs and b. the effects of the Occupation. But this is their FIRST colony?

Sisko is fondling the baseball given to him by those unimaginative aliens in “If Wishes Were Horses” and describes how much he's looking forward to some alone time with his son. He's also looking forward to not having to meet with the captain of the Odyssey, whom he finds arrogant. This seems like a throwaway line, but it's not. Jake interrupts the meeting to inform his father that he's invited Nog along on their trip. Sisko's unhappy about it, but we get a subtle callback to “The Nagus”; this time, instead of teaching Nog to read, he's trying to keep Nog in school by partnering with him on this science project. Sisko relents in the face of his son's generosity.

Meanwhile, Quark is asking Odo about his request to sell merchandise on the station's monitors. Odo relays Sisko's very firm “no” to Quark's chagrin. Now, Sisko was the one who blackmailed Quark into keeping his bar open to keep the Promenade's economy running (to save Nog from prison, no less), but Quark has nearly gotten Dax killed in pursuit of greater profits already. Meh. I'll just take it as a omen to hate them both. Nog informs his uncle that he's going with the Siskos to the GQ, and this, strangely lifts Quark's spirits. While I don't hate this teaser, it feels very much like we're right back in the middle of season 1, and not just because of the callbacks. The character interaction is extremely pedestrian and shallow, and the only plot we have to look forward to is a family road trip.

Act 1 : *.5, 17%

Somebody please tell Mr Lofton that humans don't talk this much with their hands unless they are Italian and holding pieces of bread. Jake is trying to placate Sisko about their extra passenger. After the events of “Tribunal,” I can buy that Sisko would be eager for some alone time with his family, but the character play is flirting with annoying because of the direction and performances, which are saccharine and clichéd. Right on sitcomesque cue, Quark enters the runabout having inviting himself along on this trip.

QUARK: Some of my best friends are humans. But my brother Rom isn't as liberal as I am. Let's face it, he's never been comfortable about Nog's friendship with your son.
SISKO: You can tell Rom not to worry. I'll take good care of the boy. And I promise I won't try to corrupt him with my human values.
*ME: I'm sorry, Sisko, which values are those again? Learning how to read and not drop out of school? Those horrendous values? What about not being locked up in jail? Oh, I know, it must be the free room and board the humans provide to the Quark Clan on DS9. Obviously, Rom has insisted on paying Sisko from his paltry salary in the name of Ferengi values! No? Oh, so maybe you can tell Quark to get the hell of your ship like you would in any other scenario except when Ira Behr wants to make a subversive point.
QUARK: I know that, but Rom is convinced all humans look down on Ferengi, and by allowing me to come on this trip you can help prove him wrong. He is wrong, isn't he?

Goofy and problematic as it was, “The Last Outpost” defined the relationship between the Federation and the Ferengi. “Looking down” on the Ferengi misses the point. Does the Federation “look down” on the Romulans for being duplicitous? On the Klingons for being violent? On the Borg for being without ethics? As Riker said, in the Ferengi, humanity sees itself, its flaws and potential. The Ferengi still practise capitalism, rampant misogyny, corruption, theft, etc. Human values no longer align with this behaviour, but we peacefully co-exist.

What Sisko should have said to Quark is, “You know, Jake is a fine young man, and I have faith in his upbringing and his values. Nog and Jake have learnt a lot from each other. I have nothing to prove to you, to Rom or to anybody.” Of course, Sisko gives no response, being interrupted by Jake, and we are left with the impression that maybe Sisko *does* have something to prove.

When they arrive on the planet in the GQ, Sisko and Quark pretty much immediately start arguing about their different value systems. Sisko sees through Quark's little stratagem and pre-emptively doubles down on his refusal to allow Quark to advertise on DS9. Sisko isn't really interesting in debating—he's more interested in bonding with Jake...and he's nice to Nog to. We get a glimpse of how this trip would have gone without their Ferengi stowaways, a bit of reminiscing about family camping trips with Jennifer. Armin Shimmerman decides what this touching little scene requires is a reprisal on the hysterical Ferengi antics from “The Last Outpost,” by setting himself on fire, and generally being hilarious.

QUARK: You Federation types are all alike. You talk about tolerance and understanding but you only practise it toward people who remind you of yourselves. Because you disapprove of Ferengi values, you scorn us, distrust us, insult us every chance you get.

Actually, as we have established, enlightened humans recognise that Ferengi *do* remind them of themselves, of qualities they have left behind. And yes, humans see greed and exploitation as scornful. But notice that Quark never enumerates what he means by “values” in these one-sided little speeches. The closest we got was Sisko accusing Quark of wanting to strip-mine the planet.
Look, in this moment, when all he wants to do is enjoy time with Jake, I understand why Sisko isn't interested in getting into a debate about values which—remember—is only happening because Quark was hoping to manipulate Sisko into giving him something he wants, but the episode needs to have SOMEBODY offer a counterargument here. In “The Last Outpost,” the Ferengi have their say. They explain why they steal, they explain why they exploit, they explain why they subjugate their women. Their arguments hold parallels with real-world arguments today. Spend a little time on 4chan and you'll hear every half-baked Objectivist theory on the wonders of casino capitalism, and the kind anti-woman fury that would make 12th century fundamentalists blush. Quark says that human tolerance has its limits—as well it should. But he doesn't even make that case. If humans didn't tolerate Ferengi, why are Quark and Nog on this trip? Why is Quark allowed to operate his bar even after two seasons worth of illegal and immoral activity? Because of the Bajorans? Ha! If Kira had her way, Quark would probably be airlocked for collaborating with the Cardassians. Sisko, despite being pretty bitter and cruel for a 24th century human, has been remarkably tolerant of Quark and his culture.

But like I said, from a character perspective, I get why he doesn't want to have a row about it. But surely we could have a parallel conversation with the boys? Something like:

NOG: Jake, I'm sorry about my uncle...Rule of Acquisition No. 6 “Never let family stand in the way of opportunity.” I shouldn't have let him come along on this trip. I should have known he'd ruin it.
JAKE: My dad knew what he was getting into. And I think he likes you!
NOG: I don't even understand why I'm bothering with this project. Mrs O'Brien knows I don't have the lobes for science...this was a mistake.
JAKE: You aren't enjoying the survey?
NOG: I didn't say that. I just...what if I do get a passing grade? What then? And you, too? I thought you didn't even want to go to the Academy! Why do you even care about getting good grades?
JAKE: [shrugs] I feel good about myself. Starfleet isn't the only way to better yourself, you know.
NOG: Why does that matter?
JAKE: I mean that's kind of the point, isn't it? My dad feels good about helping the Bajorans and running the station. I feel good about myself when I get good grades...when I help my friends.
NOG: Is that why you invited me here?
JAKE: Is there a Rule of Acquisition about helping you friends?
NOG: No. [pause] Maybe humAns should write some of their rules down.
JAKE: [laughs] Yeah, maybe.

In the actual episode, Quark is inviting Sisko to deliver one of his signature punches when a David Bowie-looking humanoid female runs into their campsite and hits Sisko instead by sneezing a glowing ball of energy at him. She name-drops her pursuers, the Jem'Hadar, right before they surround the trio.

Act 2 : ***, 17%

Quark, Sisko and Davida Bowie are trapped in a security ring of death. Sisko concludes that the alien woman has been traumatised. She is incredulous about Sisko's ignorance regarding the Jem'Hadar and discloses her name to be Eris. If Sisko had paid more attention in school himself, he would remember his Homer and be wary of errant golden apples around this lady. We learn that the Jem'Hadar are the military force for the Domion, whom we've heard about a few times this season. Her description tracks with what we've seen—the Old Fart and his holograms in “Shadowplay,” for example. They are an expansionist and ruthless empire. Eris has been fitted with a locked telekinetic suppression collar. Without it, should could summon her magical sneeze and free them from the ring of death.

Meanwhile, the boys have tracked Sisko and Quark to a cave being heavily guarded by the Jem'Hadar.

Act 3 : ***, 17%

Quark manages to summon a Jem'Hadar soldier to their party with his whining. Sisko questions him and we learn that his bosses are called “The Founders.” Eris claims the Founders (of the Dominion) are just a myth. The solider seems to know a lot about the Alpha Quadrant, recognising Sisko's and Quark's species and talking about the Klingons, the Cardassian Treaty, etc. Considering his orders were not to answer questions, he's really loose-lipped with the information he divulges to Sisko, but we, I guess, are to be grateful for the info-dump. The Dominion is apparently unhappy with Alpha Quadrant incursions into their territory.

Jake and Nog beam themselves up to the Runabout. They are able to locate Sisko and Quark, but can't beam them up through the force field. They're able to see a Dominion vessel leave the planet's surface and go to warp, but can't disengage the autopilot. Nog insists on being annoying comical, but this scene is mercifully brief.

Back on DS9, we learn that the Odyssey (dammit, Eris, look what you did!) is eight hours away. The Dominion ship comes through the wormhole and Kira raises shields. This does nothing to prevent another Jem'Hadar from beaming into Ops where he informs Kira that Sisko has been captured for quesitoning. Dax, having lifetimes of experience and having her most recent host be a diplomat to a race of quasi-savage warriors for decades, sabre-rattles and informs him that they won't be intimidated out of exploring the Gamma Quadrant, ALL of which the Jem'Hadar claims to be the dominion of...the Dominion. He also has a Bajoran data-pad which he acquired from the now destroyed Bajoran colony in the GQ. The demonstration is effective. These people have much more advanced technology, at least in areas of combat. Shields, transporters and tractor beams do not seem to affect the Jem'Hadar or their ships at all.

Act 4 : **.5, 17%

Sisko is still trying to free Eris from her collar. He offers to take her back to DS9 when and if they escape. When he asks Quark to help him out with the lock, Quark gets snippy:

“You know, Commander, I think I've figured out why humans don't like Ferengis...The way I see it, humans used to be a lot like Ferengi. Greedy, acquisitive, interested only in profit. We're a constant reminder of a part of your past you'd like to forget...But you're overlooking something. Humans used to be a lot worse than the Ferengi. Slavery, concentration camps, interstellar wars. We have nothing in our past that approaches that kind of barbarism.”

Okay. What's your point, Ira? I mean, Quark. Humans don't do THAT stuff anymore either, well except the war thing, but that's an unfair example. There's are big differences between, say the War of the Roses, World War II and the Vietnam War. Sometimes war is justified, but this is getting a little off topic. I don't understand what big smack-down Quark is supposed to be making here. Is he contending that, only by *not* evolving beyond greed, acquisitiveness, and profit-seeking, have the Ferengi avoided concentration camps? I'm pretty sure greed had something to do with the practice of fucking slavery.

Jake is trying to apply what he's learnt from O'Brien in order to hack the runabout. He's achieving something resembling success.

Meanwhile, the Enterprise—no wait it's the Galaxy Class USS Odyssey—has arrived at DS9. Captian Picard, I mean Keogh will allow DS9 to send their runabouts along with the Odyssey, but not before subjecting them to some over-written and eye-roll-inducing examples of his arrogance. We GET it, Ira. TNG people are super smug because they know things.

We get an inexplicable scene between Kira and Odo where he decides he's coming along on this mission in order to save Quark. Yeah, sure. Okay.

All other things aside, seeing a Galaxy class on the screen is riveting on this series, where we've often felt rather confined. TNG has been off the air only a couple of weeks at this point, so it's a comforting touch of the familiar. The Federation fleet find Jake and Nog's runabout and O'Brien beams over to bail them out of trouble.

Act 5 : ***.5, 17%

Quark finally manages to free Eris, and she returns the favour. Quark pockets the locking mechanism (there's might be a market for it), they kill the guards and make their escape.

Several Dominion ships emerge from warp and inflict severe damage to the Odyssey. In the face off this curb-stomp, Keogh decides to give O'Brien all of five minutes to rescue Sisko before they will retreat.

When Quark is winded and finds it difficult to keep up with their escape, he tells Eris that Quark won't be left behind, because human values dictate they don't abando—oh, no. It's because Quark picked the lock. So he's valuable. So he deserves not to be left behind. Because Sisko's a capitalist. Great.

Whatever. It's moot since O'Brien finds and beams them all up. The runabouts and Odyssey are getting their asses kicked. They begin their retreat, but one of the Dominion ships Kamikazes the Odyssey and destroys it. The message is very clear: TNG sucks and so does your mom. No, the message is: if humans used currency-based economics again, they'd be able to afford better spaceships. No, no. The message is: the Federation isn't prepared to deal with the power and commitment of the Dominion military, much as they weren't (and still aren't) with the Borg. Want to rethink your little boast, Jadzia?

In the wake of the action, Quark leads Sisko to the conclusion that Eris has been misleading them—she's actually a Dominion spy, since the suppressor was actually just a lock this whole time. There's a promise made that DS9 will be the first place where battles with the Dominion will be fought. Well that's great. They've got magical technology, kamikaze pilots, death fields, cloaked super soldiers and telekinetic spies, but we've got...Quark. I guess he'll be getting that ad space now.

Episode as Functionary : **.5, 10%

Let's begin with what I liked: there is a sense that this finale genuinely does sum up the threads of the season. The hints about the Dominion pay off, and the threat they create will make DS9 a more important hub of activity so long as the wormhole stays open. Using the Enterprise knockoffs is upsetting—but that's not all bad. One aspect that's upsetting is that we love the Enterprise and seeing its doppelgänger destroyed hits us where it hurts. This is overall effective in establishing the stakes of the threats to come. Much of the character interplay between the Siskos was nice, too, if a tad banal.

As I think I've made clear, the stuff with Quark is mostly smug, condescending trolling of the Star Trek ethos. The arguments against human arrogance are paper thin, and, like in “In the Hands of the Prophets,” no one is allowed to give a counterargument, which is really cheap. I'll echo William B's sentiments as well, in pointing out that the stuff with the pseudo-Enterprise is also a kind of trolling that I find upsetting, but not in a good way. What purpose did Keogh's arrogance serve the story? Why did Kira and co. insist on bringing along the runabouts? If Sisko and Eris had been rescued by the Odyssey instead, would they still have destroyed it? I can feel Ira Behr's resentment towards TNG oozing off the screen and it does not complement the series at all.

What I will grant the episode is this much; the Ferengi were originally supposed to be the Federation's great enemy in TNG, and that never played out. In the face of this new threat, the cultural differences between Ferengi and human seem rather small in comparison. Just like Sisko and Quark, the Alpha Quadrant powers are going to have to learn to work together if they're going to defeat this new adversary.

Final Score : **.5
Wed, Sep 5, 2018, 6:56pm (UTC -5)
Yes, I always considered Keogh and the Odyssey as strawmen proxies for the Enterprise. Which I guess is supposed to give us the impression that if Picard were there in GQ he would’ve been destroyed too. And yet - I agree here that there isn’t really a point in framing Keogh as an arrogant know-it-all. Are the writers trying to say that Picard is also an arrogant know-it-all and it would’ve gotten him killed?

If anything, Picard and co. would’ve been more thoughtful and worked out a solution before charging into the GQ. So I guess what I’m getting at is, is the Odyssey an intentionally false metaphor for TNG? Not sure the writers have an answer - which holds this one back a star for me. (I have it at 3*, for the record.)
Peter G.
Wed, Sep 5, 2018, 9:07pm (UTC -5)
I also always saw the Odyssey as a stand-in for the Enterprise, but never for a moment considered the Captain a Picard stand-in. Here's what I believe they were going for with the know-it-all Captain: The DS9 crew, although starting this one off on the rocks, finally get word out and initiate a rally to route the aliens of the week. They bring in no less than the equivalent of the flagship to do it, which until now we've considered to be not only the prize of the Federation but also a heroic figure in its own right. Don't forget that one of the most important characters on TNG is the Enterprise, a fact seemingly forgotten by DISC. What we are seeing here is basically The Enterprise swooping in to save the day, like a future version of Achilles. Except what happens is that our 'hero' (the ship) is vastly outclassed by the new opponent; this would be like watching the might Achilles take on a new Trojan upstart only for the reader to be told that Achilles is felled by some random Trojan foot soldier; not even close to the best of what they have to offer. *That* is the impact we're meant to feel when the Odyssey goes down; that the bright star of the Federation is vulnerable even to the least of the Jem'hadar forces.

Regarding why the Captain comes off as a self-assured know-it-all, I think he is meant to be a proxy for the complete assurance we, the viewers, and the DS9 crew have that the bullies are about to get a taste of comeuppance for their gall in assaulting Federation people and thinking they can get away with whatever they like. That Captain is us, because don't tell me when viewing this for the first time ever you thought the Odyssey had better stay away and mind its own business. No, I wouldn't believe you for an instant if you said that. I remember distinctly when I watched this as it first aired and I confidently felt the smug assurance that the Odyssey would take out the trash and show this new empire that they won't have it as easy as they thought. The writers knew we would feel this way *exactly because* no one gets the better of the Enterprise. It's easy to be fooled by hindsight and the knowledge of ST: Generations and so forth and to forget what we all thought about the Enterprise back then. This assurance is represented in the Captain, and his attitude only accentuates the horror of how wrong all of our assumptions were. He is us, and his fall is our fall. I've seen this one probably 10-20 times and it still takes the breath out of me to watch the ending, and I try my best not to anticipate it and to let it have the intended effect on me. Too much cynicism and "intelligence" will destroy any writer's intention, and I'm quite sure the intention here was to upset all of our preconceptions about how much body weight the Federation really has to throw around with the Dominion. It's a complete change of perspective, and that one action scene communicates is better than any number of threatening acting scenes could have. It's one of the first times a Trek battle scene is actually a critical world-building story point in addition to a piece of action. Brilliant.

That being said, for however spectacular a season finale it is, there's no getting around the drag that some of the Ferengi scenes are, so this one certainly cannot be worth 4 stars. 3 seems reasonable, although I want to give it an extra half because of how it ends. In music we sometimes say that they always remember the last note even if you made a mistake in the middle, and I think that really applies here.
Wed, Sep 5, 2018, 9:23pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G

What’s your field? I’m an opera composer.
Wed, Sep 5, 2018, 10:20pm (UTC -5)
For what it’s worth, I think Quark acting like a fool half the episode largely undercuts his own points. It’s kind of hard to take a character seriously when he esposes the mannerisms of a used car salesman who’s followed a customer home. Quark’s often the whipping boy of the writers, so I doubt they want us to side with him. Rather, they’re adding layers to contrast his overtly crass nature.

But the crass nature is still overwhelmingly how we feel about the Ferengi at this point in series. This is I don’t think Sisko rebuts his remarks; it’s like Quark’s not even worth the effort and Sisko knows it.
Peter G.
Wed, Sep 5, 2018, 11:01pm (UTC -5)
@ Elliott,

At this point in my life I work in an office during the day, but I've been running a theatre company on nights and weekends where I direct and sometimes act in plays. My background involves acting, classical training in voice, and directing. Small world I guess, that you're an opera composer; I directed an opera earlier this year and am in the midst of a very long-term project composing an opera myself.
Thu, Sep 6, 2018, 9:37am (UTC -5)
@Peter G.

“Regarding why the Captain comes off as a self-assured know-it-all, I think he is meant to be a proxy for the complete assurance we, the viewers, and the DS9 crew have that the bullies are about to get a taste of comeuppance for their gall in assaulting Federation people and thinking they can get away with whatever they like. That Captain is us, ”

Really? I don’t think it’s a coincidence they casted an older white gentleman with a pompous way of speaking as the captain of a galaxy class ship. I thought we were supposed to associate more with the little guys of the episode, the DS9 crew. I mean if the protagonist of the show, Sisko, dismisses Keogh as arrogant, why we want to stand with the arrogant guy? I was standing with the DS9 crew myself, although it seems like the reason they were saved wasn’t because of anything they did specifically but more because of their plot armor.
Peter G.
Thu, Sep 6, 2018, 10:09am (UTC -5)
@ Chrome,

I agree that he's probably meant to invoke some air of TNG-ness in terms of his confident air, and Sisko not caring for him is probably meant as a fairly direct way of showing us that Sisko doesn't share that offhand confidence we've come to expect about how perfect the Federation is and how everyone in the Federation is so superior. So I think this is working on a few levels. But I don't think Keogh seems like Picard in much of any way to me, even as a satire or criticism, because Picard is really just not like that. Dramatically, as I mentioned, I think his arrogance is meant to set up the audience for a fall; but in terms of character study I would say that it seems to mostly be about Sisko rather than about some broad statement about TNG or Picard. That his characterization is meant to reflect on how unlike other Starfleet officers Sisko is ties in with the less-than-stellar scenes earlier in the episode where the writers seemed to be pointing towards the fact that accepting others and respecting them isn't just as easy as saying "we're in a utupia, so everything's easy!" Actually accepting people who are not only different from us but actually offensive to us is such a hard thing that it will take struggle and perseverance to achieve. Sisko's arc seems so far to be about how important things don't come easy, which includes personal healing, reaching out to the Bajorans, and even becoming a better Starfleet officer. These things take struggle! And that is the one criticism I'd levy any day against TNG, which is that it seems to tacitly claim that in the future it's easy to be enlightened and superior, and I reject that, and I think the DS9 writers did too.

In lieu of that I do find *some* value in the annoying Quark scenes, which is that he had to be maximally offensive to Sisko in order to hammer in that it's only as easy to like and respect someone as they are similar to you (as Quark points out). Once they become either very different, or actively annoying or offensive and suddenly you just want them to shut and stop preaching their idiotic ways. Or that's your instinct, at least. Check out how things are today on both sides of the political spectrum in America and you'll see how *not easy* it is to embrace people who believe starkly different things than you do. Heck, we can see it plainly right here on this site sometimes. This ep outlines how diversity isn't just accepting people who look different but agree with you about everything; it also requires accepting people who don't agree with you about anything, and who may not even be pleasant to be around. To round out my comment, Keogh represents that whole cavalier attitude towards winning, having your cake and eating it too, and everything being a breeze. Sisko is the outsider from that perspective, and this episode seems to try hard to shake us out of being subtly in Keogh's camp and to alert us to not expect victories to be easy - either military or moral ones.
Jason R.
Thu, Sep 6, 2018, 10:30am (UTC -5)
Peter / Chrome,

My memory may be faulty, but Sisko never meets Keogh in the episode. It's Jadzia who comments on his arrogance, not Sisko. She also ribs him about not evacuating the civilians from the Odyssey before going into battle.
Thu, Sep 6, 2018, 10:56am (UTC -5)
@Jason R

Yes, that’s right. The evacuating of non-essential crew line is a fair (self?)criticism of TNG. Though I guess in Roddenberry’s vision of that era Starfleet would be so overwhelmingly strong there would be no need to consider evacuating most of the time.
Peter G.
Thu, Sep 6, 2018, 11:15am (UTC -5)
@ Jason R.,

I think you're right. I still think the contrast to Sisko is intended, but it's true that Sisko doesn't have a chance to comment directly on him. My point was less that Sisko has a problem with him and more that by contrasting with Sisko I think we're being told that Sisko is the kind of guy the Federation needs now.
Thu, Sep 6, 2018, 12:16pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G.

“I think we're being told that Sisko is the kind of guy the Federation needs now.”

This in of itself is fine, and I think other episodes of DS9 illustrate this point fairly well (“Sacrifice of Angels” or “In the Pale Moonlight” come to mind). Though, I think this episode itself is just a thesis statement without an argument of why Sisko’s methods are better in the GQ than those of Keogh. Though, it’s interesting that Dax has to school Keogh on preparation for entering a dangerous situation. Or maybe Keogh’s too dumb to live, the jury is out.
Jason R.
Thu, Sep 6, 2018, 12:42pm (UTC -5)
To be fair to Keogh, there is zero reason to believe anyone else in Starfleet, including Sisko (or Picard) would have fared better. Indeed there isn't even evidence of his "arrogance". What was he supposed to do? Call in an armada to rescue one man? And how was he supposed to know that the Jem'Hadar could ignore Federation shields and resort to kamikazi tactics?

Not to say that you're wrong about the overarching theme of the episode, but in terms of Captain Keogh, let's face it: he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Mon, Oct 22, 2018, 1:50pm (UTC -5)
When Quark lectures Sisko about all of the barbarism in Earth's history compared to that of the Ferengi, he conveniently leaves out the fact that Ferengi men still forbid women from wearing clothes or earning profit.

So yeah...the Ferengi: Not all perfect!
Sat, Dec 8, 2018, 9:55pm (UTC -5)
Watching and commenting

--Jake and Dad. Dad wants to bond with his son in the Gamma Quadrant, but yuh-oh, Nog's coming. Bummer.

--What's with Morn? We're starting off with lots of talk about friendship and who likes you and doesn't like you. Love Quark and Odo.

--"You won't even know Nog's along!" LOL. And Quark's coming, too! Yay!!!

--More talk about friendship as Quark tries to develop a friendship with Sisko (to exploit it). And we here mention of a past relationship between Keogh and Dax.

--Yeee. Who are these Jem' Hadar??? They don't seem like anyone's friends. Yikes.

--The barrier will kill you. Yes, I suppose barriers can do that. Ben extends the hand of friendship to Eris.

--"I don't know who they are, but they don't look friendly." Nog stating the obvious about the Jem' Hadar, as we hear a form of the word "friend" for the umpteenth time in the ep. "Now that we're all friends, I feel so much better," says Nog.

We're getting beaten over the head here, but the writers aren't quite getting through to me yet.

--Yikes!! The Jem' Hadar is damn scary. We see Eris suggesting a tired Quark be left behind, but Sisko, who knows him, isn't going to do that.

--Oh, dear God, the Odyssey!! Wow. Wow.

--And wow. Alliances, friendships (love, faith, trust, teamwork, loyalty, willingness to take calculated risks together, strong bonds) - that's what their strengths are and that's what they're going to need, to beat back the Dominion.

OK, writers, you got the message through my thick skull.

Very good, marred only by Brook's still sometimes winceworthy acting - but that is truly a minor complaint in an ep this nicely put together.

Yowza. I'm hooked!
Mon, Mar 18, 2019, 8:08am (UTC -5)
Finally, after an opening two seasons that were way more boring and repetitive than I remembered (I gave up when season 1 was originally shown and didn't start re-watching for years, but watching it again now is even more tiresome), DS9 gets on track. In fact I was starting to worry that overall, DS9 was not going to live up to my rose-tinted memories.

I've said before in other comments that there is too much money in American TV shows. Way, way too many episodes per season leads to a number of duds; way too many characters results in the same stories being repeated as they jostle for screen time (we get it, Quark owns a bar, Dax had past lives, Kira was oppressed). Arcs get interrupted by trivial stories. Well, for better or for worse, the Dominion is here, the Defiant is coming, things are about to get grimdark.

Bring it on.
Sat, Apr 6, 2019, 8:22pm (UTC -5)
I always thought the dominion were just pissed that the Federation left an ever-expanding proto-universe in their territory.
Mon, Apr 8, 2019, 3:39pm (UTC -5)
Not to diminish an episode that has moments I genuinely love -- the destruction of the Odyssey is one of the true "gut punch" moments in Trek, on par with the graveyard scene in BoBW -- but am I the only one that thinks the Federation is completely out of character here?

From the Federation's perspective this is essentially a first contact scenario. We have very little information about The Dominion but what we do know is bad; they're extremely xenophobic and appear to outclass us technologically. I don't know how you respond to Sisko's abduction and the destruction of New Bajor if you're Starfleet Command but wouldn't the prudent course of action have been to attempt to gather more intelligence about this new threat? The Federation has turned the other cheek in prior episodes over the destruction of minor/newly established colonies. It has always been stipulated that no one officer is worth a starship. Yet here they risk open warfare with an advanced race we know next to nothing about. A ship with a crew of over a thousand is sent into a hostile situation with no actionable intelligence about enemy capabilities, to attempt a rescue of one man, a man who may well already have been moved or executed for all our heroes know. It makes no sense, not in the real world, and not in the Star Trek Universe. It's a means to an end, the Dominion is coming, they're scary, and we need the audience to know this.

Perhaps not the best analogy, but in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 it took the United States the better part of a month to respond militarily, against a ragtag force that could not possibly hope to stand up to the US and her Allies. In this episode the Federation commits a Galaxy Class Starship -- the equivalent of an American Supercarrier in terms of national prestige and economic/military power -- to the rescue of one man, against an adversary of as yet undetermined power, with scant debate, and seemingly zero consideration of the long term consequences.
Mon, Apr 8, 2019, 7:53pm (UTC -5)
No, Tim, you're not alone. Nothing the Federation does after season 2, makes sense to me either. This a galactic superpower with countless experts on hand. Experts in science, xenobiology, psychology, war tactics, diplomacy etc etc, and yet in DS9 they increasingly act like World War 2 era humans at their most pig-headed.

If a military power (the Dominion) tells you not enter their space, you don't enter with a flag ship, then repeatedly with a cloaked war ship, then give Romulans intel on how to genocide their home-world when they haven't even declared war or crossed your borders. And if tensions do arise, you don't dither around; you plant a bunch of superweapons around the wormhole and secure your chunk of space.

The Federation shows a remarkable lack of tact and respect toward the Dominion, then out of nowhere, a remarkable level of murderous hatred, then, out of nowhere, a remarkable level of tactical/strategic ineptitude.

If Picard was Sisko, the Dominion war - which the Federation starts (either by violating Dominion space with the Defiant or by tacitly endorsing the Romulan genocide) - would never have happened. He'd have teams pscyho-analysing the shapeshifters, he'd talk to their colonies, go undercover and infiltrate their planets and try to learn stuff, he'd try to figure out why they're so racist and fearful and set his experts on figuring out how to get under their skin. And if things did break down, he'd use actual 24th century military tactics. Transport a genesis device above their home world and force a stalemate, beam love-nannites into their great link, go back in time and stop whatever made them fearful of solids. The options are endless. But the show's locked into a WW2 narrative, and so more enlightened Federation values/tactics - an enlightenment which intimately understands the kind of fascism the Dominion represents (they're a caricature of every Western villain, from kamikaze Japanese, to Arab warriors, to shape-changing terrorists and communists, to genocidal, expansionist Nazis etc etc) - have to be forgotten. And for such an Us vs Them (besieged cowboys vs hordes of Indians) tale to be sold, the Dominion as believable entities has to be destroyed as well: they never rise above the level of one-dimensional space racists who hate solids. Picard wouldn't accept that caricature at all.

From TNG season 2, Emissary:

K'EHLEYR: No, not a chance. Talking will be a waste of time. Klingons of that era were raised to despise humans. We'll try diplomacy. But I promise you it won't work. And then you'll have to destroy them.


K'EHLEYR: Captain, Klingons are killers. You'll have no choice.

PICARD: We shall find another choice.

And from From Season 5, I Borg:

PICARD: I think I deliberately avoided speaking with the Borg because I didn't want anything to get in the way of our plan. But to use him in this manner, we'd be no better than the enemy. So, I want other options.

In DS9 we don't ever explore other options. The Federation has countless civilizations worth of science, technology, intel, expertise, experience and knowledge at its fingertips. Never do we see this employed logically to address the Dominion. Everything the series does would be made more palatable if, like Picard says, other options are explored or pursued or even discussed, but the show's fearful of this. Once Piller leaves and Ira takes over, it becomes very locked into its WW2 narrative.
Mon, Apr 8, 2019, 8:21pm (UTC -5)
I forgot to mention that the Federation released the morphogenic virus (into Odo to infect the Great Link) before the war even started. So the Feds embark upon committing genocide upon a group who has not even declared or waged war upon them. They conform precisely to the caricature shapeshifters have of solids.
Mon, Apr 8, 2019, 9:33pm (UTC -5)

I’m glad I’m not the only one on these threads who sees things this way.
Tim C
Tue, Apr 9, 2019, 12:23am (UTC -5)
I think you can interpret the Federation's actions after season 2, where they still continue to conduct exploration, scientific, and trade missions in the Gamma Quadrant, as the equivalent of the freedom-of-navigation exercises that are conducted in today's times in the South China Sea (amongst other places).

Such missions accomplish two tasks:

* They let the opposing power know that you don't recognise an over-reaching claim on what is recognised to be international waters. In this case, the Dominion appear to be unilaterally asserting ownership of the entire GQ, and the Federation would be unwise to let that stand.

* They demonstrate to your allies that you haven't abandoned them, and you won't. Recall that by the time "The Jem'Hadar" happens, trade and diplomatic relations have already been established with the GQ by a number of AQ species. If the Federation were to just roll over and cancel these alliances on the basis of the Dominion's threats, then what message does that send to your own members, not to mention the other belligerent powers in the AQ?

Section 31's covert effort to infect the Link is obviously unsanctioned, at least as far as the Federation's civilian leadership is concerned. How many Starfleet higher-ups (like Admiral Ross) knew about it ahead of time is another matter, but given that the virus was the final trigger for a Dominion surrender, was it really the wrong call? (Personally I'd fall on the side of "yes" - pre-emptive strikes are rarely justified - but I don't think it's a black-and-white argument.)
Tue, Apr 9, 2019, 1:59am (UTC -5)

It’s not even a good WW2 narrative; it’s a weak Hollywood take on WW2, which was plastered on top of Star Trek because that’s what came to mind when the writers asked themselves what war looks like.

What’s sad is the “pig-headed” humans of the World War II era would’ve been smarter than the Federation is shown to be here. Imagine if FDR responded to the Panay Incident by sailing an unescorted aircraft carrier into Tokyo Bay. That’s essentially what the Federation does in this episode.

It’s even more stupid than that, because at least FDR has a decent idea of the military, economic, and technological strength of the Japanese; the Federation knows virtually nothing about the Dominion by this point in the story.
Jason R.
Tue, Apr 9, 2019, 2:29am (UTC -5)
"I forgot to mention that the Federation released the morphogenic virus (into Odo to infect the Great Link) before the war even started. So the Feds embark upon committing genocide upon a group who has not even declared or waged war upon them. They conform precisely to the caricature shapeshifters have of solids"

I understood (correct me if I'm wrong) that the virus was transmitted to Odo during the events of Home Soil at which time 1. Changelings had already infiltrated earth 2. Changelings had attempted to start a war between the Federation and the Zenkathi (The Adversary) and between the Federation and the Klingons (Way of the Warrior with changeling Martok).

The changelings had already explicitly declared their intentions following the events of The Die is Cast where they orchestrated an attack on their own home world as a trap for the Tal'Shiar and the Obsidian Order and then told the Feds "you're next".

It is ludicrous to suggest that they had not all but declared war by this point, especially given the events of The Adversary.

As for the claim that the Federation invaded Dominion space, Peter and others already mentioned earlier on this thread that this was a nonsense claim. The Federation had been exploring the Gamma Quadrant for months leading up to the events of Jem'Hadar even establishing colonies and the Dominion was nothing more than rumour by this point.

Then later it takes the Dominion months to get ships to the wormhole when they send convoys to Cardassia. It is reasonable to infer that the Dominion does NOT control the immediate territory around thd wormhole. They essentially claim ownership over everything in their field if vision (to quote Worf) and eventually even claim the Alpha quadrant as their own.

In your WW2 example it would be less like America sending a carrier into Tokyo harbour and more like America having ships anywhere in the Pacific ocean being considered a violation of Japanese territory.

I happen to think that taking the changelings at face value there was no real prospect for peace at the outset. It was only a combination of the virus, Odo returning to the link, and the Dominion being driven out of the Alpha quadrant that made peace possible.
Peter G.
Tue, Apr 9, 2019, 10:49am (UTC -5)
I've reflected more on the annoying Quark scenes and come to a decision about them: they're really useful for the episode's theme, even though that usefulness is never clarified in the teleplay. Quark's point was that the differences between Ferengi and humans/Federation make it nearly impossible for them to get along and be friends. It may be possible, but it would be very hard. Sisko is actively aggravated by Quark, and as far as Ferengi go he's an affable sort who's easier to like than most. And I would be aggravated by Quark too. The point here is clear: if it's that hard for a Starfleet human and a Ferengi to be able to get along, how much harder would it be for a human and a species so distant from them that they can scarcely find anything in common? I am almost certain that the intent here was to show that it is actually impossible - not merely difficult - for the Federation to be able to get along with the Founders. And this, I think, is the crux of the disagreement here.

The whole question of whether the Federation should have done X or Y, or tried harder for diplomacy, or etc etc, really hinges on whether these actions would have plausibly worked. When assuming that the Odyssey's expedition was an aggressive one, consider how foolish it would have been to send smaller ships on diplomatic missions with no ability at all to defend themselves, against a foe already clearly hostile. If we worry about whether Picard would have been able to negotiate a treaty when Sisko was more willing to fight, we get into Neville Chamberlaine territory (the meme version, not the real version of him) where appeasement is the best strategy against an intractable enemy hell-bent on conquest. This point seems to be lost: we know with 100% certainty that the Founders were intractable and would never have abided by a fair treaty, with the Federation being considered an equal. The question then becomes what the best move is against a foe that is guaranteed to attack you sooner or later. Any issues regarding exploring in someone else's territory or lack of diplomacy miss the point within this context. Where we can have a real debate, though, is regarding Section 31's actions and whether under the circumstances they were warranted or acceptable. That, I think, is the real moral problem raised in the series (along with issues seen in ITPM).
Tue, Apr 9, 2019, 11:04am (UTC -5)
"The changelings had already explicitly declared their intentions following the events of The Die is Cast where they orchestrated an attack on their own home world as a trap for the Tal'Shiar and the Obsidian Order and then told the Feds "you're next". "

The dialogue in that episode specifically states that the plan was originated by Tain:

ODO: Of course. This whole plan was the Founders' idea in the first place. You wanted the Tal Shiar and the Obsidian Order to combine forces and come into the Gamma Quadrant so you could wipe them out.

LOVOK: Not exactly. Tain originated the plan, and when we learned of it we did everything we could to carry it forward. The Tal Shiar and the Obsidian Order are both ruthless, efficient organizations. A definite threat to us.

This is a legitimate act of self-defense on the part of the Founders, in response to an existential threat, i.e., genocide, a plan the Federation learns about and quietly hopes will be successful. Again, completely out of character for the Federation, as well as our on screen heroes, who took it upon themselves to warn the Cardassians about the Klingons in "The Way of the Warrior."

Side note: As much as I love that two-parter, it personifies DS9's tendency to put action ahead of common sense. You can delete the Defiant's rescue mission and the episode loses nothing while remaining true to DS9's story, e.g., "No Changeling has ever harmed another." That subplot served no purpose other than to show the Defiant kicking ass.

"I happen to think that taking the changelings at face value there was no real prospect for peace at the outset."

That's the way it was written, zero prospect for peace, but that doesn't justify the way the Federation behaves in the "Cold War" part of the story. It would have made for a more compelling story if our heroes had actually attempted to find some common ground and failed rather than assuming the Dominion are Space Nazis from the outset because that's what was dictated by the invisible hand of the plot.

Another side note: If the writers wanted to shamelessly rip off WW2, well, here's an idea: The Federation remains neutral/isolationist while The Dominion picks off neighboring powers one by one. Make the Klingons the British and the Romulans the Soviets. There's a compelling geopolitical story that eventually gets you to the end goal, while making the Federation in-character dicks (reference Picard's dialogue in "Ensign Ro," where he essentially says, "Sucks to be you" to a Bajorian refugee) rather than out-of-character dicks who attempt to commit genocide.
William B
Tue, Apr 9, 2019, 11:06am (UTC -5)
@Peter, that's an interesting point. And I agree, to a point. I think where I also agree with Tim/Trent is that I think there's a certain missing amount of due diligence of showing the Federation genuinely attempting to confirm the suspicion that the Founders genuinely are impossible to reason with. I think to a degree Peter is right that what we're seeing is a situation where genuinely there *was* no way to deal with the Founders, and so even if the Federation's behaviour is "wrong" by some measure, any changes to the story to bring the Federation more in line with enlightened values would still just demonstrate the same core argument in a different way, and lead to the same place, so that it's not a big deal.


The thing that does eventually allow them to communicate with the Founders is basically Odo -- Odo eventually is able to communicate via the Link what he's learned about the solids in the meantime. I think on that level, it's actually incorrect that the Founders are impossible to reach, it's just that they didn't know what tools they could use to reach them, and in fact their ability to reach them *also* relied on Odo becoming a different person than he was in The Search, which itself was something that couldn't be forced.

It might be the cockeyed optimist in me, but I guess I do wish that there were more examples of the Federation really *trying* to reach the Dominion, to confirm that they were so intractable. I know that many people believe that there was enough evidence of the Federation trying and there doesn't need to be more, and I am not saying that's impossible. It's kind of hard for me to evaluate, but there is something fragmented about the way the Dominion story is told (partly, I know, because of the realities of 90's television!) that makes it hard for me to track the Federation at various points. Anyway, the advantage of showing the Federation trying harder, or presenting their efforts in a clearer (to me) way, would include:

1. It would convey the impossibility of peace with the Dominion stronger and more dramatically, and would further support the later ITPM/Section 31 stories by really making clear that there were no other options besides those choices or surrender/die. This point is actually pretty similar, I think, to what many believe the show actually successfully did, and I think that this was close to the intent of what happened, anyway. I'm mixed on how strongly it did, but I think showing more overtures failing mostly couldn't have hurt.

2. Perhaps more importantly, it could tie in with Odo's story more. Odo comes to respect and love solids -- especially Kira, but not only Kira, and in fact, just as in this episode, Quark is very central to that. But I think it would have been better to show more clearly Odo watching as the solids did everything they could to resolve the Dominion threat *without* the war, culminating in Bashir and O'Brien's risking their lives to save him and to oppose Section 31's actions. Make clear that Odo gets why the solids finally did fight back against the Dominion, and why they were cornered into it, rather than it being generic fear of the other. May have Odo go through a period of sympathizing with his people because of how alienated he always felt by the solids -- and how they feared him -- and then coming to realize how the solids' acceptance of him, and attempt to find another way with the Founders, is more meaningful than their (both rational and irrational) fears.

I think some of (2) is still implied -- Odo has that "I'm well aware of the solids' flaws" or whatever line, and he seems to be in a place where he sees the solids as being flawed but doing their best -- but I think it still mostly ties Odo's story more to Kira and Quark, who are further from the war story (well, Kira is more involved in the final arc).
Tue, Apr 9, 2019, 11:23am (UTC -5)
@ Peter G:

"The whole question of whether the Federation should have done X or Y, or tried harder for diplomacy, or etc etc, really hinges on whether these actions would have plausibly worked. When assuming that the Odyssey's expedition was an aggressive one, consider how foolish it would have been to send smaller ships on diplomatic missions with no ability at all to defend themselves, against a foe already clearly hostile. If we worry about whether Picard would have been able to negotiate a treaty when Sisko was more willing to fight, we get into Neville Chamberlaine territory (the meme version, not the real version of him) where appeasement is the best strategy against an intractable enemy hell-bent on conquest."

The point I'm making is that the Federation had no way of knowing they were dealing with an intractable enemy hell-bent on conquest during the events of this episode. What "actionable intelligence" does Keogh take with him on his mission? Next to none. He knows nothing about Dominion technology, biology, politics, or objectives, yet he and our heroes behave as you describe, as though they know they're dealing with an intractable enemy. It makes no sense, not by Star Trek rules, nor by real world ones.

"The point here is clear: if it's that hard for a Starfleet human and a Ferengi to be able to get along, how much harder would it be for a human and a species so distant from them that they can scarcely find anything in common? I am almost certain that the intent here was to show that it is actually impossible - not merely difficult - for the Federation to be able to get along with the Founders."

I think you're giving the writers too much credit. The Dominion was originally written as a sort of anti-Federation, but eventually it devolved into just three races, the Founders, the Vorta, and the Jem'Hadar. I doubt very much that Quark's dialogue had any (intended) meaning vis-à-vis the Federation and Dominion; it seemed more like a statement of his own ethics and values, in line with his exchanges with Garak in "The Way of the Warrior" and Nog in "The Siege of AR-558."
Tue, Apr 9, 2019, 11:31am (UTC -5)
@ William:

Two simple ideas that would have been effective:

1. Have Sisko & Co. try to warn the Founders about the impeding genocide attempt in "The Die is Cast," as they did in "The Way of the Warrior," only to be fired upon/attacked for their troubles. Make it clear that the Founders don't actually see a difference between the Federation and Romulans/Cardassians, a solid is a solid in their eyes.

2. Have Sisko actually try and TALK to the O'Brien Changeling in "Paradise Lost" rather than posture and thump his chest. To his credit, he tries to talk to the Jem'Hadar in this episode, as a Starfleet Officer should; I would have liked to have seen something like that in "Paradise Lost."
Peter G.
Tue, Apr 9, 2019, 11:58am (UTC -5)
@ Tim,

"The point I'm making is that the Federation had no way of knowing they were dealing with an intractable enemy hell-bent on conquest during the events of this episode. What "actionable intelligence" does Keogh take with him on his mission? "

Keogh had little to no information at that point, which is why a Galaxy class ship was sent to (a) talk to the Dominion, and (b) get Sisko back. Although the first encounter with the Dominion by the Odyssey immediately erupts into a fight, it's not clear to me that their mission to was to go and fight the Dominion. Picard and the Enterprise went to the neutral zone many times with intentions other than to battle the Romulans. But the important thing to note (made clear in several TNG episodes) is that the Romulans had ever pulled the trigger and crossed the line Picard would have attacked immediately. There was never a pretense in those episodes that Picard was going to avoid battle at all costs. Sure, he tried to avoid it, but was never going to hesitate if the Rolumans blinked. Likewise here, battle erupted mainly because the Dominion wanted to teach them a lesson, not because the Odyssey was being overly aggressive. And IMO from the momet the Dominion decided to blow up a fleeing Odyssey suicide-style just to make a point, the point should be taken by the viewer as well: there will be no bargaining with them, no discussion, and no chance for using the threat of force to make a treaty.

You can make the argument that the series never should have introduced an intractable enemy in the first place. Fair enough. But I don't really think it's in contention whether the Dominion was intractable or not.
Tue, Apr 9, 2019, 1:02pm (UTC -5)
"it's not clear to me that their mission to was to go and fight the Dominion"

KEOGH: Starfleet's orders are simple. Traffic through the wormhole will be suspended until the Odyssey can investigate the Jem'Hadar's threat.
DAX: What about Benjamin and the others?
KEOGH: Don't worry, Lieutenant. Commander Sisko's return is a top priority.
DAX: If you're going to try to rescue them, then we're coming with you.
KEOGH: Are you sure that's wise? With the exception of Major Kira and Mister O'Brien, none of you have had much combat experience.
BASHIR: We fought the Maquis.
KEOGH: All the Maquis had were a pair of lightly armed shuttlecraft. I expect the Dominion to have sharper teeth.
KIRA: Well then you're going to need all the help you can get.
KEOGH: Mister O'Brien, can you equip the two remaining runabouts with extra banks of photon torpedoes?

It's presented as a combat mission from the very get-go.

The analogy with Picard and the Romulans doesn't work in my mind, because the Romulans are known to us; it was never a first contact scenario when he was dealing with them.

At the time of this episode, it's within the realm of possibility that the Dominion outclasses the Federation as badly as the Minbari outclassed the Earth Alliance in Babylon 5. How well did that first contact work out for humanity? The point here is that the Federation just doesn't know what they're dealing with and you don't commit a major capital ship with a crew of one thousand -- risking all out war in the process -- to the rescue of one man when you don't even know what you're up against. It flies in the face of established Star Trek continuity and basic common sense.

In the real world nation-states don't risk war with less powerful nation-states over a single man. They certainly don't risk war with their peers or superiors over one man.
Peter G.
Tue, Apr 9, 2019, 2:10pm (UTC -5)
@ Tim,

It's funny, because reading (and watching) that scene, I don't at all come away from it thinking "these guys are looking for a fight". They are going in from a position of strength, which is the only reasonable thing to do in order to establish that you're to be taken seriously. Even in the real world there has never been any misconception that in dealing with another empire you're dealing with 'nice guys' who will respect your puny ship and ambassadors, etc. The respect comes from a show of force that you can't be trifled with. If you *can* be trifled with then you will get messed pretty bad no matter how you make first contact.

I like your Minbari reference, actually, because the main feature of first contact with them was (a) the humans firing first, and (b) the strange Minbari refusal to ever learn anything about humans despite having the chance. So the fault lay on both sides to an extent; more so on the Minbari because they should have known better than to frighten a younger race with a show of open gunports. But in terms of the humans, we are also led to know there that Earthforce at that time was becoming aggressively expansionist, and that their own pride was the cause of their ultimate fall. They knew nothing, and thought they could do anything.

Not so for the Odyssey, who generally had a fairly decent idea of the relative strength of other spacefaring races, and who also knew they were potentially going into a warzone depending on the disposition of the Dominion. And if you carefully parse the dialogue above, Dax refers to a rescue operation, which doesn't at all have to mean an attack, and in fact likely wouldn't mean that ideally. Keogh in turns mentions combat experience, which is of course relevant since combat might result, but also doesn't mean it's a combat mission. The one thing selling the idea that it might be a combative sort of mission is Keogh's cavalier attitude, but honestly (as I mentioned earlier in the thread) I think this is mostly meant to illustrate the Federation's assumption that they can deal with any threat out there, which to date has been (more or less) accurate. But if there's a flaw to be found here it's in the lack of awareness that any new race could be another Borg, and so Q's warning is perhaps not taken as seriously as it should be by Starfleet as a whole. And I would wholeheartedly agree that this mission was a mistake, and that the Federation was in over its head thinking it had the matter well in hand. I think that's basically the point of the episode, actually. What they're wrong about is in having too much confidence that they'll be taken seriously. But about it being too much of an aggressive mission in its very nature - that I don't really buy. If it had been a Federation Captain captured in the Romulan neutral zone this would have been a perfectly reasonable response to it.
Tue, Apr 9, 2019, 2:34pm (UTC -5)
"I like your Minbari reference, actually, because the main feature of first contact with them was (a) the humans firing first, and (b) the strange Minbari refusal to ever learn anything about humans despite having the chance. So the fault lay on both sides to an extent"

The point that I was trying to make wasn't to assign blame (in Babylon 5 it's on both sides; in this particular DS9 episode 90+% of it lies with the Dominion) but rather to consider the consequences of trying to stage a "Show of Force" against an adversary of as yet undetermined power.

In the case of Babylon 5, well, Jankowski is clearly and unequivocally in the wrong. It doesn't matter that the Minbari screwed up. You don't get to fire first in a first contact scenario. Not when the potential consequence of that action is the extermination of the human race. Jankowski, his ship, the whole task force, they should be regarded as expendable if that's what's required to avoid war.

There are numerous episodes of TOS and TNG where our heroes state that they themselves are expendable in such a scenario, if their death is required to avoid war and/or preserve the Prime Directive. There are examples of the Federation turning the other cheek to inferior powers (e.g., the Talarians) they could easily curb stomp rather than risk all out war. This makes sense in a universe where a single ship is said to be capable of laying waste to an entire planet. Modern day weaponry is significantly less powerful and yet we've still achieved a level of mutually assured destruction that makes open warfare between great powers too terrible to contemplate.

Sinclair: "When I looked at those ships, I didn't just see my death, I saw the death of the human race."

That's potentially what's at stake in a first contact scenario gone wrong. This is a first contact scenario. Sisko's life is small potatoes; if he was Commander Nobody instead of Main Cast I doubt we'd even be having this discussion.
Peter G.
Tue, Apr 9, 2019, 2:44pm (UTC -5)
@ Tim,

Fair points. Consider, though, the comparison between what you're saying and Chain of Command. We're supposed to be siding with Riker (although in large part I don't) when he's outraged that nothing will be done for Captain Picard. When we see him being tortured, we no doubt nurture the fantasy of the Enterprise coming in and kicking these guys' butts and getting our hero out of there. In fact, Jellico takes the approach that you espouse, which is that Picard isn't worth an all-out confrontation and that nothing can be done for him at that point. And I know that when we hear this we're supposed to be very upset at it. Well in this episode we get the response the fans would want: go in and save our hero, because some bullies aren't going to get away with acting like barbarians. In the case of Chain of Command, Jellico does in fact do something for Picard, that does require a show of force first, but also involves his tactic of circling the enemy like a wolf for a while first, looking for weakness. In this episode there isn't a detente that can be used to buy time, and so if at all a rescue mission would have to be more hasty. Granted, that's tactically worse, but in practice not much different.

You may also note that the moment they have Sisko and the others they turn tail to leave, not stopping to even calculate whether the battle can be won. This is a bit of a slippy point, because in fact we know the battle couldn't have been won. However my belief is that the Odyssey would have left either way once Sisko was rescued, and abolutely would not have stuck around fighting enemy ships just for the pleasure of 'defeating them' in a battle. I'm pretty sure the tone and teleplay suggest it was a rescue mission and never anything else, using a powerful starship to command respect and if at all possible to avoid conflict. But it's true they were not going to back down and risk Sisco without at least trying to go in after him. Isn't that honorable? It was a mission of mercy, in contrast to the B5 example, where the attack by the humans was purely a result of trying to show some aliens who's boss. That by sending the Odyssey the Federation also showed teeth is only common sense as far as I'm concerned.
Tue, Apr 9, 2019, 3:15pm (UTC -5)
"We're supposed to be siding with Riker (although in large part I don't) when he's outraged that nothing will be done for Captain Picard."

Jellico is an asshat, undeserving of the following he has on a lot of forums (Riker's takedown of him after they "drop ranks" is spot on, in my opinion) but in this respect he was 100% correct.

Jellico: I know you were close to him, Will, but we don't even know if he's still alive. Under the circumstances, a rescue mission would be foolhardy.

The same applies here, with the added caveat that we literally know almost nothing about Dominion capabilities, motivations, and objectives. At least Riker wanted to charge in against an enemy whose capabilities are known to us, an enemy the Federation enjoyed at least some level of superiority over (reference the dialogue in "The Wounded" and the ease with which the Enterprise and Phoenix dispatched Cardassian warships, hell, the Phoenix did it without shields.....)

"That by sending the Odyssey the Federation also showed teeth is only common sense as far as I'm concerned."

The Odyssey is the equivalent of a super-carrier in modern times, or at least she was at this point in time, before the huge CGI fleets of later seasons, a topic I've discussed elsewhere. You don't risk a priceless asset like that with zero intelligence of enemy capabilities for the sake of one man. You don't risk war with a potentially superior force for one man.

"I'm pretty sure the tone and teleplay suggest it was a rescue mission and never anything else, using a powerful starship to command respect and if at all possible to avoid conflict."

I'll concede this point; it's not as though the Odyssey went in to kick ass and take names, it was ostensibly a rescue/intelligence gathering mission, but it still makes zero sense to risk a Galaxy Class Starship on a mission like this with the information available to our heroes.

It just comes across like lazy action movie writing to me. It works if you turn your brain off and absorb the emotional gut punch of a GCS being defeated with apparent ease by these newcomers but it falls apart if you think critically about it, as does so much of the Dominion Arc in DS9.

I like many of the character focused episodes they set in the war -- Rocks and Shoals, Inquisition, Treachery Faith and the Great River, etc. -- but the episodes about the lead up to the war, the fleet engagements, and the politics, they haven't aged well in my mind. I can find redeeming moments in these episodes (the destruction of the Odyssey works well on an emotional level, "The Die is Cast" is a Top Notch Garak episode) but as an exploration of geopolitics and the reality of war they come up short. Battlestar Galactica and Babylon 5 did it better, IMHO.
Den Lewis
Tue, Apr 28, 2020, 7:03am (UTC -5)
I recall watching this back in the 90's and beoing open mouthed that the Odyssey was blown up and definitely did not see the twist at the end coming. I am rewatching the Star Trek franchise in in universe order since 2018 and a now am at the DS 9 time period. This episode is on the T.V right now as I type, I give it 3.5 stars, it wold get four stars if i did not ignoe the gfamping plot hole of sending a startship for a rescue missiopn rather than the Starfleet verison of Macos to resuce the commander who is an important offcerin being in charge of the wormhole via the Bajoran state. The teen actors are great in this, well written and well acted.
As for the Dominion's 'we claim the whole Gamma quadrant' attitude, I disagree with their claim and UFP was right not to recognise it, however the UFP does have a habit of sticking its flag in areas before checking that is ok with the neighbours hence their issues with the Cardessians. A reflection of real life Western European colonial attitiude perhaps? Space is vast and in the Star Trek universe, homeworlds live almost rescource excess lifes so why would you want to lay your bed right next to Klingon, Romulan or Dominion territory? Madness!
Sun, Sep 6, 2020, 8:32am (UTC -5)
@Yanks "#3. It was interesting that the Jem'Hadar soldier that was present on DS9 didn't recognize Odo as a founder (neither did the Vorta). I know they couldn't give it away then, but you'd think the brainwashed Vorta would have at least noticed."

Ever heard of writing spoiler alert for those of us that are just watching this for the first time now? Total brain-dead idiot.
Sun, Sep 6, 2020, 9:18am (UTC -5)
The show aired almost 30 years ago. Not expecting spoilers in the comment section of a review side is not a sign of, as philosopher King Trump likes to say, a very smart brain.
Sun, Sep 6, 2020, 8:11pm (UTC -5)
@ Lism

"Ever heard of writing spoiler alert for those of us that are just watching this for the first time now? Total brain-dead idiot."

Holy shit. So, you skipped right over Jammer's episode review, you know on Jammer's episode review web-site, where he reviews EVERY SINGLE STAR TREK EPISODE - read my comment and said "damn Yanks!!" ... We've found a new kind of idiot here...
Sun, Dec 13, 2020, 8:40pm (UTC -5)
I thought of posting in In The Pale Moonlight, consisting Vreenak flat out accuses Sisko of starting the war with the Dominion. (Though of course, the Romulans hardly have a leg to stand on.)

But the Dominion calls out the Alpha Quadrant powers of invading its space. The Federation/Starfleet don’t seem to even entertain the idea that the Dominion’s claims has some validity.

It’s really quite remarkable. It just reeks of colonialism (not remotely an American only attitude). The attitude is basically “we’ll do whatever we want.” Eddington’s later indictment of the Federation is actually more relevant to its Gamma Quadrant actions than to its Maquis.

What truly makes it remarkable, is that, as near as I can recall, there’s never any discussion of this in the show. They just freely go with a European Age of Discovery type mindset.

Although, the Roman Empire might be the most apt comparison.
Peter G.
Mon, Dec 14, 2020, 10:01am (UTC -5)
@ Silly,

I think what they had in mind was the equivalent of one power claiming ownership of a territory so vast that it's preposterous. Like, 300 years ago if Spain had simply announced that it owned the entire Atlantic and Pacific oceans, there would not really have been much of a reaction other than people going about their business, and if Spain decides to start making attacks then there would be retaliation.

True, there could have been an episode consisting of negotiations, and I would have enjoyed this. But I think they were trying to do a shorthand of telling us that the Dominion's demands for territory are unreasonable to the point where no's no discussion to be had. I also sort of think that the wormhole exit is nowhere near what was previously Dominion space, so I suspect we're also meant to get the gist that they are not only claiming the *entire* Gamma quadrant as their territory (which is absurd) but also that they are claiming ownership of the use of the wormhole. Basically any resource they can see, they will say is theirs. I don't personally see it as colonial to ignore such demands.
Mon, Dec 14, 2020, 10:07am (UTC -5)
Spain kind of did 500 years ago.
Peter G.
Mon, Dec 14, 2020, 11:44am (UTC -5)
@ Booming,

"Spain kind of did 500 years ago."

Why am I not surprised. But making an agreement with another major power is not quite the same as claiming the entire world as your territory. It's not like the Spanish mentioned offhand to England that they were never to cross the channel again...

Incidentally, here's an excerpt from the Wiki article you linked:

"Despite considerable ignorance regarding the geography of the so-called New World, Portugal and Spain largely respected the treaty. The other European powers however did not sign the treaty and generally ignored it, particularly those that became Protestant after the Reformation. Similarly, the Indigenous nations did not acknowledge the treaty"

Naturally, the parties that did not agree to this treaty simply ignored it.
Mon, Dec 14, 2020, 12:00pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G
True they ignored it but the Spanish often didn't ignore that they ignored it. There is a reason why British colonization didn't really start until the early 17th century, same goes for France and the Netherlands. That it started eventually has a lot to do with the destruction of the Spanish Armada, overextension because of the 80 years war and the campaigns in Italy and the financial collapse of the Spanish Empire. It is save to say that Phillip II was not Karl V (or Karl I depending what you count) Besides Pirates or what the British officially probably called acts of rogue individuals like Francis Drake there was no presence in the New World apart from Portugal and Spain. But yeah I wasn't really making a deeper point I just wanted to history brag. :D
Mon, Dec 14, 2020, 12:32pm (UTC -5)

There's also the Monroe Doctrine, which encompasses a huge area -- North and South America -- and has more or less been respected by world powers for 200 years. As you alluded, if a people have military might, they can makes all kinds of enforceable territorial restrictions. There's no reason to think The Dominion could not effectively restrict colonization in the Gamma Quadrant.
Mon, Dec 14, 2020, 12:53pm (UTC -5)
Absolutely, the Monroe Doctrine is another good example. Even though far less invasive and far more limited in scope.
Peter G.
Mon, Dec 14, 2020, 1:03pm (UTC -5)
@ Q,

"As you alluded, if a people have military might, they can makes all kinds of enforceable territorial restrictions. There's no reason to think The Dominion could not effectively restrict colonization in the Gamma Quadrant."

I think this is roughly on the order of what DS9's team was trying to show anyhow. The point is that the Dominion believes that through sheer might they can simply name any terms they like and no one will have any choice but to obey. This early in the series the Federation is well within reason to ignore or reject such claims until such a time as they recognize this superior power and have to bow to it. In fact that type of rationale is exactly *why* the Dominion behaves as they do toward the Odyssey, to get the message across that they do have this superior power. Of course the message is not quite received as intended.


As it happens it was probably empty bluster because otherwise why didn't the Dominion just send their entire armada through the wormhole at the start of S3? Cause the series needed to ramp up, hah. But seriously, it's because they probably couldn't. They were nowhere near the wormhole, or needed new shipyards or closer bases; or maybe they were in the middle of some other war. Who knows.

But if the argument is going to be that claiming territory on the grounds of superior force, which in reality does happen, this is a totally separate sort of claim than the one Silly and others have made, that by not respecting the Dominion's wishes they were being "colonial" like they are the aggressors. It is perfectly normal not to respect outlandish territory claims not arrived at through treaty, and not good at all to just bow to any bully who thinks they own anything they see. That the Dominion might be able to force the issue doesn't somehow translate into the Federation being a colonialism-era transgressor.
Mon, Jan 25, 2021, 7:28am (UTC -5)
I won't go on a long rant that Keong is Picard light, but it's clearly illustrated by the writers through the destruction of the Odyssey , that the Dominion will not be appeased through TNG style diplomatic channels, or in any case DS9 will be the happy-go-lucky space exploration and analysis of the human condition that we have been so accustomed to in TNG , I think there is a reason they decided to have this finale right after All Good Things.

That being said, I think season 2 of DS9 is very underrated, it hits the drums slowly at the start with some generic sci-fi episodes, once the maquis come along it gets into this moral political sci fi drama, and the steaks in DS9 just go up a notch, add to that the introduction of the Dominion and the concept that the '' Final Frontier'' can push back .
Bob (a different one)
Wed, Feb 17, 2021, 4:02pm (UTC -5)
The only thing that would have made this episode better is if Alan Oppenheimer had broken into his Skeletor voice and berated his crew before the Odyssey exploded.
Sun, Nov 7, 2021, 12:10pm (UTC -5)
Forgive me if this point has been made already. I can't really be bothered to read through ALL the comments XD

One thing that bothers me about this episode is that this is where the Federation makes it's first big misstep regarding the wormhole and as a result they are partially responsible for the coming war with the Dominion.

Now I'm not going to say the Dominion isn't the major instigator of the war. But the Federation shares some blame because of one simple fact. That is their failure to acknowledge the Dominion's legitimate claim to the gamma quadrant.

Regardless of how morally questionable the Dominion is, it is the largest governing body native to the gamma quadrant. In this episode the Dominion made it very clear that they claimed their side of the wormhole as their territory and didn't want outsiders violating it. Generally speaking, they have a right to protect their borders. The Federation really should have respected their wishes.

And no, the fact that the Dominion a hostile organization who conquer all the worlds in the gamma quadrant doesn't change things. From the Federation's perspective it's still the Dominion's territory. At the very least they have more of a right to it than the Federation would ever be able to claim. And any territory disputes between the Dominion and those they conquer is not anything the Federation would normally involve themselves in.

So why does Sisko (and by extension the Federation) completely shrug off the Dominion's clear demands that they stay out of the gamma quadrant? Surely he (and the Starfleet Admirals giving him orders) must realize that that's exactly what's going to escalate the conflict and potentially lead to a war. Which it did. Surprise surprise.

And I don't think the writers realized how uncharacteristically reckless Starfleet was being here. Because I don't really remember it ever being brought up in a later episode.
Sun, Nov 7, 2021, 12:41pm (UTC -5)
After actually taking some time to read some of the comments, I see that some people have already made the same point I did, comparing Sisko (and the Federation's) attitude to European colonialism.

That really sums it up well.
Peter G.
Sun, Nov 7, 2021, 1:01pm (UTC -5)
What makes the Dominion's claim to the entire Gamma quadrant a legitimate claim?
Sun, Nov 7, 2021, 1:13pm (UTC -5)
Their ability to conquer and defend it.
Top Hat
Sun, Nov 7, 2021, 2:57pm (UTC -5)
Technically, they don't actually claim the entire Gamma Quadrant: they state, "Unless you wish to continue to offend the Dominion, I suggest you stay on your side of the galaxy." It seems to be an empty threat, though: surely the Dominion could collapse or otherwise block travel through the wormhole if they were really serious about it.
Peter G.
Sun, Nov 7, 2021, 6:17pm (UTC -5)
"Stay out of X" means they are claiming X. If X is the gamme quadrant then they're claiming the entire quadrant. This is even more clear from the fact (as we learn now and later) that they have no real presence anywhere near the wormhole. So they are essentially claiming everything in sight.

As to whether they would collapse the wormhole to prevent the Federation trespassing, I personally doubt they cared about that per se. The wormhole was needed so they could conquer a new part of the galaxy, and the Federation needed to stay away so they could muster the necessary fleet to move to the AQ in force. My take on it, at least, is that there was a 100% chance of them invading sooner or later, and - SPOILER

it was pushed slightly sooner as a result of the minefield being installed. But not much sooner.
Top Hat
Sun, Nov 7, 2021, 8:46pm (UTC -5)
That's what I mean, that Third Talak'talan's ultimatum is just posturing. In reality, the Dominion is probably happy for Alpha Quadrant ships to keep entering, so they can learn more about AQ cultures and suss out their weaknesses (and Founders can get free rides). But obviously they can't just say this, so a little geopolitical dick-swinging is the order of the day.

But yeah, Sisko and the Federation seem to forget all this right away. At no time does anyone seem to think "gee, maybe we shouldn't just go on some exploratory mission of the Gamma Quadrant" (as in "Meridian," just for one example) "while we've been explicitly told by a local power not to do so."

To make things even more confusing, later seasons start to treat the Dominion as not just an organization but as a PLACE, with clear borders. Take this line in "Broken Link":

SISKO: Once we enter the Gamma Quadrant, we'll begin transmitting a subspace signal explaining the purpose of our mission. Then we'll enter Dominion space and try to locate the Founders' new homeworld.

The wording strongly applies that the wormhole is not understood to be within Dominion space proper. In "The Ship," Kilana refers to this as "a mission outside the Dominion," even though it's still in the Gamma Quadrant.
Mon, Nov 8, 2021, 1:54am (UTC -5)
The theories of international relations can be applied here. This is realism (the theory) at work. The moment one great power encounters another and says, this is the line, if you cross it there will be trouble then the other great power has to decide if it is worth it. In this case that means starting off an escalation spiral. The Federation makes one mistake after another. First, they continue their incursions, knowing that their fairly unimportant scientific missions will provoke a state of considerable power and determination. Second, the Federation does not fortify the wormhole itself, just the station and not enough obviously. The core concept of realism is that states can never be sure what intentions the other state has, therefore both have to plan for the worst and because there is no higher authority to negotiate a settlement conflict will either lead to war or to one power retreating. Why do people think that the US has between 2 and 3 carrier fleets in striking distance to China plus the numerous major bases in Korea, Japan and the Philippines. China builds airfields on those small artificial islands, has started to build it's own aircraft carriers and updated it's coastal missile defense. Though the US really has to decide it's stance on Taiwan. Ambiguity is not good policy in such a situation. That would be like the Dominion saying:"Ok, you should not use the wormhole but if you do we may or may not attack you for it. Or you know whatever." So the Dominion, while certainly being excessive in it's first response, (destroying colonies and everything aka HINT) made perfectly clear their political stance and planned for a breakdown, while the Federation did continue it's provocation and did not really prepare for a major confrontation.
Top Hat
Mon, Nov 8, 2021, 6:34am (UTC -5)
I think the writers were just not quite willing to commit. On one hand, they want the Dominion as this looming, existential threat on the other side of the wormhole. On the other, they want to continue doing TNG-style planet of the week plotlines from time to time.

If they really wanted to show the Federation flouting the Dominion's instructions, maybe they should have gone the other way: fortifying the far side of the wormhole, trying to ally with different GQ powers against the Dominion, etc.
Mon, Nov 8, 2021, 6:48am (UTC -5)
Yeah, I agree. You have to ignore quite a few things. Would have worked better if the Dominion wasn't portrayed as mega evil from the very start.
Top Hat
Mon, Nov 8, 2021, 7:39am (UTC -5)
I wish they had drawn out the initial notion of the Dominion as a sort of mafia-like protection racket, just one on an interstellar scale.

I also wonder how Bajor factors into the political equation. Technically the wormhole isn't in Federation space at all. though Bajor is certainly under the Federation's security umbrella. If the writers don't want to Federation to rush headlong into fortifying the wormhole, it would have been natural to establish that this is because the Bajorans (and maybe Kai Winn specifically) are stonewalling. So many relatively small plot points would have clarified things so much!
Peter G.
Mon, Nov 8, 2021, 8:25am (UTC -5)
The writers were constrained by the execs; I don't think they lacked the will to make the story more long-form.
Jeffrey Jakucyk
Mon, Nov 8, 2021, 2:32pm (UTC -5)
I never saw the Dominion having any legitimate claim on space near the wormhole. They can say that's theirs all they want, but it doesn't make it so. Much like if China suddenly declared the whole Pacific Ocean to be theirs. The Dominion's "ability" to conquer and defend that part of space is irrelevant unless they actually "do" conquer and defend it. I look at the Dominion's posturing about the wormhole more along the lines of "stay out of my neighborhood" rather than "get off my property."
Mon, Nov 8, 2021, 3:11pm (UTC -5)
"never saw the Dominion having any legitimate claim on space near the wormhole. They can say that's theirs all they want, but it doesn't make it so. Much like if China suddenly declared the whole Pacific Ocean to be theirs."
Well, they destroy a big ship and several colonies near the wormhole. They also park a gigantic fleet there. That seems like they are fairly determined.
There is also a difference between a nation claiming an entire ocean, including several sovereign nations and a galactic super power noticing a so far unimportant and maybe even unclaimed region of space as central to it's defense (or expansion plans) and needing some time to redirect it's resources.
One could also mention that the planet with the quickening seems not so far from the wormhole and they were hit by the Dominion in the mid 22th century, more than 200 years ago.
Mon, Jan 17, 2022, 4:02pm (UTC -5)
Lots of great Nog screeches in this one. EEEUUUUREEEEEUUGGH
Thu, Jan 27, 2022, 8:58pm (UTC -5)
Good episode and it's pretty obvious the destruction of the Galaxy class ship with a very Picard evoking Captain was intended to create shock and it did that quite effectively.

Nitpicking though, how in the world did the Odyssey show up so fast? The kidnapping seemed to have lasted only hours. Must have been quite nearby.

Also, does its Captain not have a chair on its bridge? Seems like he's just standing there.

The Galaxy class sure was prone to warp core breaches. The Constitution class could take endless pounding and I don't recall there ever being a risk of them exploding. Though at least here they did directly attack the vulnerability.
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 11:34pm (UTC -5)
This is a great review and a great episode. A few parts kinda bug me....such as....what's with the bizarre telekinetic "Vorta casts Magic Missile" thing that is never mentioned again lol. Wouldn't you think ol Keevan from "magnificent ferengi" would've just done that to escape? It's odd.
One thing I LOVE tho is that scene with Jen Hadar on the station when he just casually steps right thru the containment forcefield like a badass
Wed, Jun 15, 2022, 1:32am (UTC -5)
If we concede that this is the first appearance of the Vorta and Jem Hadar, and forgive continuity issues like the Vorta ignoring Odo and having telekenetic powers (which I'm willing to do), this is a pretty good setup and action episode. Nothing earth-shattering, but nothing really disappointing either.

The one objection is have is to the final battle. It's implausible and there's no reason it needed to be.

The Odyssey notes that the Jem Hadar weapons are penetrating their shields. The Port nacelle is immediately damaged. Yet, Captain Keogh gives O'Brien 5 minutes to find Sisko.

Sorry, what? We've see ships with no shields be destroy in an instant - and you're giving them five minutes to keep shooting through your shields?

Miraculously, the Galaxy Class ship survives those five minutes - but could someone explain to me how the tiny Runabouts are not immediately destroyed by the shield-penetrating weapons? And the Galaxy Class ship is having no effect on the Jem Hadar ships - Then what chance do Runabouts have? Why are they even participating?

I mean, the conclusion may well imply that the Jem Hadar intentionally permitted the Runabouts to leave unharmed - but surely the DS9 crew are smart enough to wonder why the hell they wouldn't just shoot them dead with one phaser blast.

I get that they wanted the threat to seem extra imposing, but all they really needed to do was come up with some alternate dialogue about the weapons that would give a plausible reason that they will put the Odyssey at risk in 5 minutes, not immediately. Alas, they did not do so.
Jason R.
Wed, Jun 15, 2022, 7:14am (UTC -5)
@TH I would say the battle makes sense on its own terms in that a Galaxy Class ship should be able to absorb a great deal of punishment from small fighters even without its shields. We never get a proper sense of this but I would speculate that Jem Hadar fighters are only a few levels above runabouts themselves and basically rely on superior numbers and sheer aggression to win battles. I would suggest that even a Klingon Bird of Prey has far greater firepower.

But you are correct that this kind of thing has been treated inconsistently in past shows.

For me the battle makes visual and narrative sense. I accept the action as it is presented.
Beard of Sisko
Wed, Jul 6, 2022, 3:00pm (UTC -5)
One thing that's always puzzled me about the climactic battle is that neither the Odyssey nor the runabouts appear to inflict any damage at all on the Jem'Hadar ships.

There's one stretch of the battle where one of the attack ships takes a phasee shot to it's nacelle from the Odyssey, which is quickly followed by repeated phaser fire from two runabouts. At no point does the Jem'Hadar ship seem the least bit affected.

I suppose it's possible that Federation weaponry was useless against Dominion shields, but unlike the ineffectiveness of their shields to the polaron beam this is never established in dialogue
Tue, Aug 9, 2022, 11:10am (UTC -5)
An excellent episode, very enjoyable. I'll touch on just a couple, broader, points.

Namely Quark.

His pontification about the intolerance of the nominally tolerant really struck a chord, particularly given the state of America and the West today. We witness daily that those who vocally and trenchantly SIGNAL such VIRTUES as "equity," "equality," "diversity," "inclusion," etc. are almost as a rule the most belligerent, violent, prejudiced-ass bigots around. They will classify you as an immaculate victim or a vile oppressor based solely on your innate demographics, they will screech at you if you try to speak, they will get you fired and evicted, they will assault you, and, if they could (and someday they will), they would gladly torture you and kill you. Oh sure, they have their explanations, excuses, justifications... So did Hitler, so did Stalin, so did Mao, so did Pol Pot, so, for that matter, did Robert Mugabe, Joe McCarthy, and Jim Crowsters. A utopian society--even if it did or could ever exist--is not built on a mountain of skeletons, that's for damn sure.

If you're truly tolerant, you subscribe to the "live and let live" ethos, while also accepting that the unfortunate reality that individual jerks will always exist. Go beyond that, and the idealist soon becomes the ideologue. Which is precisely what we're seeing unfold before our eyes today.

So, good old Quark hit the nail square on the head that time.

His second tirade, however, was senseless. Humanity's history is "marred" by slavery, concentration camps, etc. I'm really sick to my tits (as the Brits, I believe, would say) of hearing about f**king slavery already. GET. OVER. IT. Every single civilization--yes, even the "cuddly" ones like American Indians or Mayas or African tribes--practiced it. Being an occasional Jew, "my people" were both slaves and slaveowners at various times. BFD. *I* was neither, nor--not that it does or should matter--were either of my parents or any of my grandparents. What one, many or more Jews or Americans or whoever did 200 or 2,000 years ago does not define me in any way, shape or form, so just... - eff off.

Likewise, SURELY the humanity of the DS9 era is to be judged by who and what it is then, not what it had once been. Now, I think Star Trek's vision of the future human race is not just laughably absurd and unrealistic but also undesirable; however, the notion that Cisco or humans may dislike the Ferengi because the latter remind them of their past is too imbecilic for words. Being reminded of who "you" were is only a problem if you're not happy and confident in who you are today. If you are, then the past is the past; you are neither proud of it nor ashamed of it.

Other than the above, as Borat would say: Very niiiiiiiiiyce, high fiiiiyve! Looking forward to more of the Dominion coming up!
Tue, Dec 6, 2022, 4:10pm (UTC -5)
What is the Dominion's actual plan in this episode? Clearly, to send a message - the list of destroyed ships, the attack on the New Bajor colony, the destruction of the Odyssey. But what is their plan as far as Sisko and Eris are concerned?

The denouement of the episode posits that the entire thing was a ruse to get Sisko to bring Eris back to the Alpha Quadrant so she could spy for the Dominion. It's Sisko who says this (and Eris replies "Well done, Commander") but it's also what the episode seems to want us to believe; his dialog here is partly expository. However, it can't be the case.

1) Sisko, Quark and Eris were only able to escape due to Quark being able to pick the lock. But no-one knew Quark was coming on the trip apart from Quark himself - he was a last-minute addition. Even if the Dominion had known that Sisko was coming to the Gamma Quadrant and arranged this Eris ruse in advance, there's no way Sisko would have been able to break them out as he doesn't have Quark's advanced lock-picking skills. Even by Quark's standard the locking mechanism is "complicated" and it takes him "hours" to crack.
2) The Dominion already has a massive amount of intel on the Alpha Quadrant, as shown by Talak'Talan's dialog about the Klingons and the Federation-Cardassian treaty. This has presumably been gained by Founders who have already secretly entered the Alpha Quadrant over the past two years since the discovery of the wormhole. So having Eris in the Alpha Quadrant would offer no additional benefit. We know Eris isn't a Founder because she spends what seems longer than 16 hours with Sisko, Quark and the others, and her essentially coming to the Alpha Quadrant as a refugee who would foreseeably be debriefed for intelligence on the Dominion also requires her to spend periods of longer than 16 hours without any privacy.

So what was the Dominion's actual plan? I think it was indeed to detain Sisko "indefinitely", as Talak'Talan says, both for tactical reasons and as a way to lure Starfleet ships through the wormhole that could then be ambushed to send a loud message. They would have probably put Sisko in interment camp 371. Sisko only escaped with Eris due to an unplanned and unforeseeable factor (Quark coming along), so this can't have been the original plan. It's highly feasible that the actual plan was to heavily debrief Sisko for intel (gaining his trust via Eris over a much longer period of the two of them being in captivity together - it's no accident she's female) then replace him with a changeling, something no-one in the Alpha Quadrant would even suspect at this point. So I posit that while the Dominion's plan in this episode succeeded on some fronts (the shock-and-awe destruction of the ships and colony), it failed on others that we didn't even realize.
Peter G.
Tue, Dec 6, 2022, 5:00pm (UTC -5)
@ wolfstar,


That's an interesting analysis, but I think it requires too much knowledge we get later, applied retroactively. For one thing the logic of "she can't be a founder because of regeneration needs" presupposes that the Founders are Changelings, which isn't supposed to be part of this particular story. In fact I don't even know that the writers had yet decided who the Founders were at this point in time. Another thing is about detaining Sisko: why would they need to do that, really? The prison plot would really be a waste of time if that was the case, since they could just abduct him outright. No, I think they did actually intend for him to escape, although it's hard to say how that would have times with the Federation task force sent to find him. Was the idea that they would allow one Runabout to save Sisko while destroying any heavier starships? If that's the case they did need him to escape, so I would have to surmise that the original plan was for Eris to have even more surprise talents, and it would be she who would break them out, or perhaps provide Sisko with a trick to break them out. Quark being there just made it so she didn't need to bother.

In terms of intel, I could see them sending a Vorta to the AQ not just because she could be a spy (which we don't yet know the Founders can do better), but also because she could gain Sisko's trust, maybe long-term. It would also give the Vorta access to Sisko on a 1-st person basis rather than through intel channels or evesdropping. That's valuable information they couldn't obtain otherwise. I think the stated plan was probably the plan, and Quark only altered it just a bit.

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