Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Civil Defense"

2 stars

Air date: 11/7/1994
Written by Mike Krohn
Directed by Reza Badiyi

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"I see. The auto-destruct program has begun. Well, well, well ... you are in trouble." — Dukat

An old Cardassian anti-takeover program runs amok on DS9 and locks down the entire station. As the crew attempts to regain control, they make matters worse, leading the program to attack civilians and eventually arm the auto-destruct sequence.

Although a general Trek rule of thumb states that any plot involving a self-destruct sequence is asking for trouble, the real problem with this episode lies within its uneven story structure and clichéd jeopardy premise of a countdown to disaster. "Civil Defense" is a watchable but weak entry into the season.

During a routine analysis of the file system, O'Brien inadvertently sets off a programmed defense routine put together by Gul Dukat during the Occupation. Further complicating matters is the fact the program has so many fail-safe devices. Every time the crew attempts to regain control, a new subroutine takes over, with worse intent than the last. This eventually leads to a two-hour countdown to self-destruct.

This is yet another Trek example of "computer goes berserk." The premise of an old program surfacing from nowhere is hard to swallow because any computer-literate person knows that you completely wipe all old software from a used storage device before putting your own software on. Are we supposed to believe that such a hazardous program went totally undetected by Starfleet when they took control of the station?

Granting the story this detail only improves things slightly. The jeopardy premise is really worn out (although this is the first time an auto-destruct has been armed on DS9—I suppose it had to happen sometime). And structuring the story into three separate threads doesn't work. Kira, Bashir, Garak and Dax try to regain control of Ops while Sisko, O'Brien and Jake try to escape a room they're trapped in by using MacGyver-esque resourcefulness.

The A- and B-stories alone may have worked okay with a little better pacing, but the writers also introduce a C-story with Odo and Quark trapped together in Odo's security office. Their role in the narrative has no dramatic purpose nor does it contribute to the advancement of the plot. The duo is used only as gratuitous comic relief and, unfortunately, scene after scene between them falls flat. Put simply, the three plots pull each other down because each interrupts the flow of the other (and, really, the C-story should have been scrapped altogether).

Gul Dukat boards the station to gloat and strike an unreasonable deal in exchange for deactivating the self-destruct device. Mentionable is how exaggerated Alaimo's performance is. It's not up to par as was his commendable outing in "The Maquis." This time around, Alaimo spends so much time constructing his sentences and speaking so distinctly that it's distracting and almost hokey.

Fortunately, Dukat gets some worthy moments. A great touch is when he flips Sisko's baseball off the prefect's desk with his forefinger. And in the episode's best moment, he becomes a victim of wry irony when yet another fail-safe device locks him on the ticking time bomb with everyone else.

The most interesting part of "Civil Defense" is the bad blood between Garak and Dukat, who exchange insults and blather of the past through most of their scenes together. But just as with all Garak backstory, there is no backstory. It's just a lot of unexplained, half-hashed dialogue that may or may not be developed in the future.

The conclusion boasts one of those down-to-the-wire endings in which Sisko rewires the reactor core so it won't destroy the station. But there's nothing fresh about an ending where the hero saves the day with only five seconds left. It's been done too many times. Nevertheless, even this tired scene could've received an energy boost from an exciting score. Instead, we get the usual form of linear monotony.

This episode also lacks an effective coda. The biggest mistake is that the writers don't work Dukat into the ending, making his role in the episode feel disturbingly unfinished. Instead, we get a wrap-up of the Odo/Quark plotline—bordering on pointlessness.

Previous episode: The Abandoned
Next episode: Meridian

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101 comments on this post

Wed, Aug 13, 2008, 6:08pm (UTC -5)
The real problem with this episode is the set-up. Like you, I just can't buy into the fact that this program wasn't discovered and/or deleted/overwritten by Starfleet protocols already. This is really a S1 story - when we are new to the station - that has come after this boat should have already sailed.
Jakob M. Mokoru
Sun, Jan 11, 2009, 12:29pm (UTC -5)
Although I can agree to most of your complaints about this episode, I've always really enjoyed it so personally, I would give it 2 1/2 to 3 stars.

But it's your website.. ;o)
Sun, Jun 28, 2009, 7:23pm (UTC -5)
I loved this ep. Sometimes Trek needs a nice mindless action romp, but the appearance of Dukat on the station (and how the replicator-phaser keeps shooting around him!) really amped up the action to another level. I'm a big fan- I'd have given it three stars.
Wed, Jul 29, 2009, 10:19am (UTC -5)
I completely disagree with this review. This episode rocks in just about every way. First of all, the program itself is kind of like the rake gag in The Simpsons, where it goes from slightly funny to deadly serious and then all the way back to funny again. The program turning on Dukat is completely hilarious and unexpected. Alaimo chews the set with obvious and contagious relish, especially in the program's video messages - "Attention, Bajoran workers" has proven surprisingly durable as a quote meaning things have just gotten considerably worse. The resolution is lame, but that's a pretty minor flaw in my book. This is actually one of my favorite DS9 comedies - notably, DS9 is the only Trek show that could really pull comedy off.

3 1/2 stars from me.
Sun, Aug 16, 2009, 2:40pm (UTC -5)
I liked this episode a was DS9's answer to TNG's Disaster, and I liked this one as well as that one, if not more.

As in Disaster, checking in on various parts of the ship/station is necerssary, and I wouldn't elevate it to A_story, B-story, C-story status, because the disaster is really one story that affects everyone.
Fri, Nov 20, 2009, 9:18pm (UTC -5)
"DS9 is the only Trek show that could really pull comedy off."

Does that mean you never saw "The Trouble With Tribbles" or "Deja Q"?
Tue, Dec 22, 2009, 1:29am (UTC -5)
I loved this ep and so did hubbie. We are total geeks and are pretty hard on bad sci-fi. But we thought, as a stand-alone ep, this was a worthy entry into DS9 lore. We laughed so much and really enjoyed the ratcheting of tension each time the crew tried to help matters. They simply could not win, no matter how many workable solutions they devised. I am willing to buy that the rebel defense containment program was missed somehow, just to get a fun, exciting outing like this. And I buy that the Cardies would take the time to plan this out and make their little condescending videos, with relish. It's just SO Cardassian.

When Dukat realized he was outmaneuvered by the Central Command...well, DH and I thought that was worth latinum to watch.

Yes, the "last second" saving of the station was a tired plotline and beyond old, but we enjoyed the ep so much we could ignore that. We were reminded also of the wonderful TNG ep "Disaster" ...and thought the bromance segments with Quark and Odo were charming.
Tue, Dec 22, 2009, 10:49am (UTC -5)
A lot of people like this episode. In past years when I went back and watched this episode again, I thought maybe I would enjoy it more. But for some reason, it just never works for me. Something about the execution is off. I always think about the scene where Dukat comes on the station and gloats. It should be great. But it's not. It feels off. There's something about the execution that doesn't work.

It didn't work for me the first time I saw it, and it didn't work the last time I saw it. It just doesn't work for me, even if I try to enjoy it for what it is.
Sat, May 8, 2010, 1:46am (UTC -5)
Don't worry Jammer I agree with you, in fact I would only give it 1 star. The idea that the Cardassians have all these programs and recordings specifically automated to stop all these possible scenarios is ridiculous, why wouldn't they just deal with it at the time like normal people. Especially the one where the higher-up Cardassian has left a recording and program IN CASE Dukat tried to escape during a self destruct. Ludicrous. That's my complaints on top of what you already outlined in your review.

Very uninspired writing all round.
Tue, Feb 15, 2011, 9:41pm (UTC -5)
This episode DOES make me laugh, but the problem is that the characters aren't in on the joke. The episode seems to be meant to be taken seriously, even though the idea of such a complex automated program (that hasn't been discovered until know) is so proposterous in itself that you can't take it seriously.

I agree with Rob - this would have been a good Season 1 episode (say, in lieu of "Babel"). So this is two seasons two late. The only thing that saves this episode from being a loser is the great dialogue between Dukat and Garak. 2.5 stars from me.
Tue, Feb 22, 2011, 10:52am (UTC -5)
This is one that has some great areas, but also some rather draggy bits. It helps if you skip those. And anytime Dukat and Garek are together gets an automatic one star boost from me anyway....
I'd like to Voyage her
Sat, Mar 5, 2011, 11:30pm (UTC -5)
I don't see what the problem is regarding the program remaining undiscovered, but it seems like many of you are having suspension of disbelief issues.

To me it seems reasonable that the Cardassians would have such a program, complete with pre-recorded messages. They are nothing if not obsessively anal and organized.

It also doesn't surprise me that this program remained undetected for over two years. It wasn't in the main data core, or in OPS, or the security office. The file was specifically located in the Ore Processing Control room computer/server/data center whatever. And that was an area of the station not previously used before now, and understandably on the low-priority list for one-man-repair-crew O'Brian to get around to with so much else always going wrong.

In sum, the Federation didn't find it until they started really analyzing the system it was on, and they didn't need to do that until they had time to address the ore processing facility. Makes sense. It was an unnamed file, buried deep within a system that hadn't been used in 2 years. Why and how could they be expected to find it before then?

And as to the person who said that everyone knows you wipe someone else's programs/files before you load up your own, well, that's exactly why Jake and O'Brian were down there in the first place. Jake was trying to delete the old Cardassian files in preparation for installing Federation ones. O'Brian even asked him 'did you try re-formatting the data core' or some such.

I think those who nit pick on the suspension of disbelief in this episode are just looking for problems. I agree that this episode suffered from countdown to armageddon cliches, and a slow/irrelevant Odo/Quark subplot, but the program being there in the first place just wasn't an issue for me. 4 Stars from this Trekkie.
Thu, May 19, 2011, 9:18pm (UTC -5)
Apart from Odo's costume, Kira's hairdo, and Bashir's line about the station finally feeling like home after so many years, this easily *could* be a Season 1 episode.

But that doesn't make it better. I liked this episode when it first aired, especially how everything they try just makes the situation worse. Watching it again last night for the first time in years, I was bored by the reams of technobabble. Dax and O'Brien, as usual, had little else to say.

In fact, the scene where Quark confesses to Odo that his life didn't turn out the way he planned... that was the richest scene in the episode. Almost made the rest worthwhile.
Lt. Fitz
Mon, Jun 25, 2012, 2:01am (UTC -5)
The whole premise of the automated lock down of the station, pour in gas, set up the autodestruct, and the SURPRISE! trap the Cardassian leader of the station for his inability to get his automated security program to work was completely absurd. Secret automation top of secret automation! Totally incredible. And, as another commenter mentioned, this should have been a very early episode - like episode 3. It was impossible for me to believe that such programs would still exist anywhere on the station.
Mon, Jun 25, 2012, 4:14pm (UTC -5)
Jammer's criticisms are fair, but I still enjoyed this one desite its flaws. The bit when Dukat is informed that he is trapped as well because he was attempting to abandon his post is priceless.
Thu, Sep 13, 2012, 6:05pm (UTC -5)
Sometimes, a ship/station in peril is in order. I liked Next Gen's "Disaster," and I like this. Three stars from me.
Wed, Jan 2, 2013, 4:11am (UTC -5)
I do love this episode. However this whole thing could have been averted if Dax went to the Defiant and beamed Sisko, O'brian and Jake up. The whole station wasn't locked down until Dax messed with the computers. They could have made it to the runabouts and Defiant and beamed the commander up. I do not think Shields were raised at that time.
Mon, Feb 4, 2013, 3:16pm (UTC -5)
What? No one has mentioned the hilarious moment when Garak pointed out that Dukat was flirting with Kira? "And you a married man!" Alaimo's reaction was priceless.

I laughed out loud more than once. S1's pointless episodes were boring. This pointless episode was not. Thumbs up.
Sun, Mar 24, 2013, 7:07pm (UTC -5)
I always loved this episode even if there are problems with the plot as you pointed out.

It's a reminder as to the fact that they are not on a Starfleet star base.

In my opinion, the story developed pretty well.
For instance, when they escape from Ore Processing, a new deeper level of security would rise up from the program. This happened time and time again, action --> reaction.
Thu, Jul 4, 2013, 3:50pm (UTC -5)
I'm also a fan of this...

I think the nit-picking about whether or not they would have found the programme before is irrelevant... It's a hidden Cardassian programme in a Cardassian station, there's no reason for it to be found beforehand.

The Dukat recordings are hilarious too.

I think it's well done, well thought out, amusing.
Tue, Jul 30, 2013, 1:31pm (UTC -5)
I just have to echo other commenters - I enjoyed this one too - Sorry you didn't Jammer. I enjoy TNG's Disaster as well. Even if it stretches believability, it was funny to see Dukat trapped by his own program that had been altered without his knowledge.

It's good, but not perfect so 3 stars from me as well.
Sun, Aug 11, 2013, 10:30pm (UTC -5)
Jammer (and others), if you've ever tried to code or automate a complex piece of hardware, you'll know that you only replace control elements for those things that *need* replacing. To me, that premise of this episode is not only reasonable, but makes the entire premise of the show that much more grounded. This isn't a Starfleet station that has been repurposed to serve as a wormhole fortress, it's got automatic life support systems, forcefields, power, waste reclamation, etc. and you don't want to "install" Federation code over Cardassian hardware because it'll work about as well as installing Win7 on Mac hardware... Starfleet has Miles O'Brien there to be the "Parallels" that allows the two to work together.
Tue, Oct 22, 2013, 6:40pm (UTC -5)
Quite a silly plot, but I liked it.

Fri, Jan 31, 2014, 3:25pm (UTC -5)
Couldn't Kira have just turned off life support from a switch, rather than phasering the entire station? Now they'll have 12 hours minus the time it takes to repair all that damage to get life support back on.
Fri, Jan 31, 2014, 3:35pm (UTC -5)
Plus the bit about Garak and Dukat's father, thrown out here and then never addressed again. Dukat says the "time to address it is coming", but it never does.
Fri, Jan 31, 2014, 3:41pm (UTC -5)
Dax wonders how to deactivate all the forcefields on the station at the same time, but they did precisely that in "Whispers" when they were chasing faux-Brien around.
Tue, Feb 4, 2014, 10:39pm (UTC -5)
I actually love this episode. Well, one storyline of it. The Quark/Odo part was fine, but the Sisko/OBrien/Jake part was really, really boring. This was the episode where I noticed that the writers seem to be doing everything they can to keep Sisko from doing "Captainy" things, such as deal with Dukat or solve problems as the leader of his crew.

The rest of the crews' plotline, however, was marvelous, and a whole lot of fun. Dukat was a pleasure, and having both him and Garak working their character magic is the pinky off the teacup.
Thu, Feb 20, 2014, 6:58pm (UTC -5)
I agree with Jammer on that the execution of this episode feels a bit off. I also found the Sisko/Jake/O'brien parts to be mostly pedestrian. However I actually quite enjoyed the Quark/Odo interactions and some of the dialogue here was refreshingly different than the norm if that makes sense.

The idea of the takeover program in this instance doesn't seem that far-fetched to me either. Seeing as it's a rogue program set to initiate from a semi-seperate computer system that was not really dealt with til now. The fact that it started overrides on a still Cardassian basic OS if you will is plausible, especially with knowing how meticulous Cardassians can be.

Neither here nor there, the way this story was told just should've been different somehow. 2 stars seem right...almost want to say 2 and a half.
Andrew Taylor
Mon, Mar 3, 2014, 5:54pm (UTC -5)
I think an average 2.5 score is fair. It's pretty much brainless fun, as thinking about things for too long will raise more questions. I agree with the notion of this being a season one episode.

I think TNG did it better with Disaster, and the fish-out-of-water problems the crew had to face. In fact, it was the kind of story that would have fit in better on TNG, as the Tech Mystery was more prevalent there.
Fri, May 16, 2014, 4:45pm (UTC -5)
It has its moments (Dukat's recordings, his sparring with Garak), but I have to agree with Jammer, it all feels a bit off. It tries for drama at times, but would have played best as full-on farce. 2.5 from me.
Thu, Jul 17, 2014, 7:30am (UTC -5)
I like this episode if for nothing less that we find out that even the Obsidian Order doesn't like/trust Dukat and sees him for what he is. The program turning on him was a very satisfying moment, especially when Garak rubs it in.

"GARAK: Even your own computer programme turns against you. I always knew your shortsightedness would be your downfall." ... lol

It was a fun ride, and while not important to this unimportant story, I enjoyed the Odo/Quark exchanges.

"QUARK: It's a small moon, but it's enough to live on." ... lol

3 stars from me just because Dukat's ego is slapped around quite a bit.
Thu, Aug 14, 2014, 11:49am (UTC -5)
I don't see what the problem is regarding the program remaining undiscovered, but it seems like many of you are having suspension of disbelief issues.

Not really. We just understand when writing is lazy, and how the real world operates. You have to shut your brain off for this episode to make sense. It's entertaining but ridiculously unrealistic.
Tue, Sep 2, 2014, 11:05pm (UTC -5)
I agree with the 2-star rating, but not the actual review. I like the very beginning with O'Brien, Sisko, and Jake, and I also like the Odo/Quark scenes. The rest was either cliche ridden, cartoonish, or too much like TNG's Disaster.
Sun, Oct 5, 2014, 12:08pm (UTC -5)
I loved this episode. As I watched, I kept thinking of how dispensable the Bajorans were to the Cardassians, and the forced labor and gassing made me think of concentration camps and gas chambers. Kira's silent looks of outrage and grim determination underscored this. (I think this was the source of Dukat's attraction to Kira - her willingness to sacrifice the lives on the station before acceding to his 'deal' for there to be a Cardassian presence on the station.) This episode more effectively conveyed what it was like for Bajor to be occupied by the Cardassians than any other I've watched so far. And despite how awful the Cardassians were, don't we like Dukat and Garak? They're two of my favorite characters. I value this episode, in part, because of the dissonance I felt by being entertained.
Wed, Feb 4, 2015, 5:22pm (UTC -5)
I think that Jammer must have been really grumpy when he watched this episode. His criticisms are all valid but there is a lot which is great about 'Civil Defence' which he didn't mention. My personal favourite moment was when Gul Dukat ordered tea from the replicator and the turret disappeared and then re-appeared after he took the tea.

This was one of the episodes which I was most looking forward to rewatching during my second viewing of the series. I am surprised that it is a season 3 episode, to be honest. I was expecting it early in season 2. I also was unhappy this time around that the plotline in Ops ended so abruptly with no real resolution to Dukat's part in the story.
Sat, Feb 21, 2015, 11:19pm (UTC -5)
I really liked this episode too. Was rather surprised that Jammer disliked the Odo/Quark plotline so much, it was one of the highlights of the episode for me - along with the scene where the computer turns on Dukat, and Garak gloats over him.

But seriously, every Odo/Quark exchange was gold. Quark's "It's because they knew you were an honorable man. The kind of person who would do the right thing regardless of the circumstances. And now your integrity... is going to get us both killed. I hope you're happy" had me laughing for a good five minutes.
Wed, Mar 18, 2015, 1:10pm (UTC -5)
I remember at the time saying while the premise is a bit absurd (this should have happened early in season 1 (third ep tops), not in season 3, as this "civil defense" would have LONG been deleted or overwritten by that point) its nevertheless a great bottle ep. One of my favorite episodes, in fact.
Thu, Apr 30, 2015, 7:02pm (UTC -5)
For I'd Like to Voyager Her: I agree with everything you said back in 2011. I really enjoyed this episode, I laughed a lot at the Irony.
Nathan B.
Wed, Jul 29, 2015, 5:00pm (UTC -5)
Who can forget Dukat bellowing, Bajoran workers!" I loved this episode's take on TNG's very enjoyable equivalent. It was by turns dark and funny, and nearly always quite clever.
S. Kennedy
Sat, Aug 29, 2015, 10:31am (UTC -5)
I thought it was an alright episode. Bit too heavy handed on lazy techno babble resolutions. What I did like about it was, it shows how paranoid a state the Cardassians are, as each attempt uncovers another protected layer, finally snaring Dukat. It was quite clever.
William B
Wed, Sep 9, 2015, 11:16am (UTC -5)
"Civil Defense" is about half a good episode. Defining the A-plot as the station-in-jeopardy plot which begins with O'Brien and the Siskos and which eventually switches focus to Ops, the B-plot as the further movement on the Siskos-and-O'Brien plot once the station-wide plot has moved elsewhere, and the C-plot as the Odo-Quark thread, the A-story is both funny and suspenseful until about the 2/3 mark of the episode -- culminating in the delicious twist of Dukat being snared by the Cardassian system. The story up until then is an escalating disaster scenario, punctuated by the increasingly dire warnings from recording-Dukat which are eventually replaced by actual-Dukat's smug, sneering presence. It tickles me that Cardassian preparation ("attention to detail," as Garak insisted in "Cardassians") involves Dukat recording dozens of video messages to BAJORAN WORKERS for various stages of disaster and with various hardwired countermeasures included, and I love the specific nature of some of the countermeasures -- the replicated disruptor device which targets only non-Cardassians being a particular absurd/inventive highlight. The idea of a complex, sophisticated machinery designed for "security" getting badly out of hand is very Dr. Strangelove, and while the episode certainly does not reach those lofty heights I think that the first several acts do manage to get the humour of the absurdly logical just right. Dukat's arrival, and his uncontained glee and laughter at the fate of his former station, the casualness with which he replicates himself some tea and then the disruptor device goes back on, is so much fun to watch, and his opportunism in taking advantage of the deadly situation to force a Cardassian presence back on the station is suitably chilling -- with the perfect comeuppance once his leaving the station triggers the next level of it. It's a delight, and also restores to the show something that has been lacking for a while, that the home that Our Heroes have is *itself* dangerous, built by paranoid killers and only recently repurposed. In addition to the military-industrial satire, it also works as a statement of some of the show's big themes -- the aftermath of trauma (personal and national) leading to a never-ending string of booby traps and triggers in the ground underneath oneself.

And then I checked the time on the DVD, and, wow, there's another 15 minutes left? The new scenario where Dukat works with the Ops crew and Garak to save the station has a few moments, certainly: I like that Dukat, immediately after attempting to bargain with Kira on the possibility of station destruction, starts flirting with her and Garak calls him on it; I also like that Dukat stands in the centre of the frame at the head of the Ops console, automatically "taking charge." I do like that the Garak/Dukat conflict continues, though it gets repetitive after a while. The real problem here is that while tech solutions to a tech problem makes sense, after the initial acts demonstrating how all countermeasures lead to a new, worse development, it's actually pretty dull to find out that, oh, THESE tech solutions actually resolve the problem, and that's it. I'm not really sure what the episode *could have* done; certainly, the idea of the combined ingenuity of the Ops crew and the two Cardassians plus O'Brien and the Siskos elsewhere on the station is enough to solve the problem sounds reasonable enough. It may be that this type of Dr. Strangelove tech-run-amok thriller-comedy can only "logically" end one way -- in destruction. Actually, though, it occurs to me that the episode may have been stronger if it maintained the comedy-thriller element as well as the way its characters are in way over their heads by having the scenario end more or less out of Our Heroes' control. There's an early "M*A*S*H" episode, "The Army-Navy Game," where (spoiler) an escalating scenario involving an unexploded bomb in camp ends when the bomb finally goes off -- and it turns out to be a bomb containing US propaganda messages telling the North Koreans to surrender. Since what I enjoyed so much about the first few acts is the long-term results of military-computer "logic" being released on the crew, with their every logical impulse being countered and backfiring, I might have enjoyed it had the station's own automatic functions saved the day, reinforcing our crew's relative helplessness while letting them live another day.

As for the other strains of the episode, "Disaster" is not really a Great TNG episode, but part of what made it enjoyable is the unusual character pairings, the kookiness of some of the concepts (Data's head being removed, Worf having to deliver Keiko's baby), and the placing of people into genuinely uncomfortable situations for them (Picard with kids, Troi in command). Odo/Quark is not an unusual pairing at all, and while it's fun to see them interacting it holds bit more punch when they have something to *do*. And of course the Siskos and O'Brien interact frequently. The O'Brien-and-Siskos stuff pretty much bores me throughout after the initial triggering of the scenario, though. When Jake is crawling through the vents and there is only about a minute to live, none of the three seems all that worried, and while I can certainly understand Sisko not wanting to worry his son, you would think that Brooks or Meaney could convey barely restrained concern with their faces. Much of the material for them consists of slamming things, breaking things off, and so forth. I think it's possible we are meant to see some development of Ben and Jke here, particularly with Jake coming to O'Brien's defense at the end and demonstrating heroism his father wouldn't have wanted him to, furthering the "Jake is growing up" thread. Still, there's very little material for this screentime, and not much urgency throughout.

Overall, I find the first 2/3 or so enjoyable enough in the esclating disaster scenario to give this 2.5 stars.
Wed, Sep 9, 2015, 11:25pm (UTC -5)
"Further complicating matters is the fact the program has so many fail-safe devices."

More like fail-dangerous, eh Jammer?

Too bad about that redshirt who gets vaporized in Ops. All his hopes and dreams... but enough about him. Will Dax's dainty fingers ever recover???

Credit the writer for figuring out a way to include a climactic explosion without destroying the station. The whole "redirect the overload to the shields" babble lets our heroes save the day without the disappointment of a countdown to nothing.

And the way Sisko snaps his fingers at the end... an inspired acting choice that makes up for the hokey suspense.
Diamond Dave
Mon, Nov 23, 2015, 7:39am (UTC -5)
DS9 does MacGuyver. Basically an action adventure with more than a helping of fun. The hyper-paranoia of the Cardassians is almost comedic in itself as the computer program ramps up the response in the wake of the non-existing crisis. That Dukat gets caught out by his own program is a delicious moment. Lots of good character interaction too.

The only problem is that it does run out of puff towards the end, and the act of saving the say is perhaps the least satisfying in the episode. 3 stars.
Jason R.
Mon, Dec 14, 2015, 11:48am (UTC -5)
I'm baffled by Jammer's reaction to this episode. Having Dukat and Garak in the same scene playing off one another is a rare treat, worth 2 stars in of itself. I thought the various videos of Dukat reacting to each development was so perfectly Cardassian. When Dukat got hoisted by his own petard it was one of the funniest moments in Trek. I give this episode 3.5 stars.
Sun, Feb 14, 2016, 10:05pm (UTC -5)
Apparently the "main fusion reactor" isn't all that important, based on the fact that the station seemed to be operating just fine without it seconds after it was destroyed.

And the life support system is so poorly designed that simply blowing up its control panel in ops destroys the entire stations life support system? Not a bad way to take over the station if you need to...
Peter G.
Thu, Mar 3, 2016, 10:27am (UTC -5)
Dukat ordering a coffee amidst disruptor fire is pure gold, as are most of the scenes. The only drawback are the less interesting scenes with Sisko, Jake and the Chief in ore precessing, and so my rating is 3.5 stars. Not too many episodes are crammed this full of fun, and for that I can easily overlook a less-than-stellar sub-plot.
Sat, Mar 12, 2016, 1:51pm (UTC -5)
Well, it looks like Jammer knows how I felt about TNG: "Disaster". :-P

"Civil Defense" is indeed very much DS9's version of "Disaster", but done better. For instance, here we only have three plot-lines (with one that was unnecessary), whereas "Disaster" had five of them (two which were unnecessary and another two which weren't used properly). Just like "Disaster" there's practically no substance to the episode other than an attempt to have an enjoyable action-oriented story. The difference is that here they actually had time to flesh two of the stories out instead of ending up with five separate half-baked C-plots. The Odo/Quark sub-plot could indeed have been jettisoned completely, but the other two work perfectly well for what they are.

Of course the two big draws are Dukat and Garak. They steal every scene they're in, especially any they share together. The highlight is the scene between Dukat and Kira in Sisko's office. When Dukat asks if Kira is really willing to destroy the station we get a wonderful glimpse into his character. It's clear that he almost says "would you allow two thousand people aboard this station to die simply because you don't like me?" But, he catches himself just in the nick of time and quickly changes "me" to "us" because, deep down, he knows that Kira will say yes. He really doesn't want to face that hard truth because he's deluding himself into thinking he's a good person. It's a really nice touch which could be easily overlooked.

It's also nice that every techno-babble solution they come up with only worsens the problem. Now, I've say it before, but I really don't mind techno-babble (unless an episode REALLY REALLY goes overboard with it). But, it is nice that techno-babble doesn't ultimately save the day this time. What saves the day is a simple reprogramming of the reactor. I'll grant that it's not a very exciting end of this action-heavy episode, but it was a nice touch. Were the writers trying to subtly point out how DS9 is different from TNG? I don't know, but the sub-text is there, I think.

So, yeah, it's fluff. But it's got some good character moments. And it's enjoyable fluff.

Fri, Jun 10, 2016, 12:08am (UTC -5)
Actually, not entirely wiping the computer makes good sense. They establish on the show repeatedly that the computers are a hodge-podge of federation, bajoran, and cardassian tech. Again, it's like saying why don't I wipe my office Mac and put Windows 10 on it. Different systems behave differently. Why not just replace all the doors with starship doors while they are at it? The point is that they and we are always at risk because of the constraints of technology. Totally believable in hindsight!
William H
Thu, Aug 25, 2016, 9:44am (UTC -5)
I like this episode a lot.

The big thing I didn't like was the redshirt getting zapped. It doesn't fit the fun tone of the episode, was totally unnecessary and indeed totally ignored.
Rick C
Tue, Oct 18, 2016, 8:47pm (UTC -5)
I felt bad for the nameless red shirt that got vaporized by the replicator phaser thingy.
Sun, Dec 25, 2016, 2:15pm (UTC -5)
It was nice of this episode to vaporize a hapless redshirt just to tell us that the beam in question can vaporize people (but apparently *just* people, since it strikes all kinds of other surfaces and just makes sparks).
Wed, Jan 11, 2017, 6:37pm (UTC -5)
Jammer (and others), if you've ever tried to code or automate a complex piece of hardware, you'll know that you only replace control elements for those things that *need* replacing

I am a computer programmer, and I can tell you unequivocally that you wrong. Jammer and others are correct; this episode is grossly unrealistic and silly—especially from a programming point of view.

Think of it another way - if the Cardassians had wanted to, they could have destroyed everyone on-board with a hidden booby-trap. There is no way this would be allowed to happen. All the software would have been checked or replaced entirely - and any hardware would have been thoroughly checked also. Please stop it with the desperate defence.

On the other side, I do find this episode entertaining. Like much of Trek, it's not clever or believable - but it can still be fun. 6/10. It's the characters' interactions that make this episode worth watching. Not much else.
Wed, Jan 11, 2017, 6:48pm (UTC -5)
Furthermore, to the person who mentioned that the system was a mish-mash of different alien technologies. The problem here is that this simply isn't workable in the real world. Even modern PCs have issues with device drivers becoming outdated on a newer OS - so imagine how hard it would be to make 3 totally unique pieces of hardware and software types interact? It's not remotely possible. It's only believable if you know nothing about computing.
Thu, Jan 12, 2017, 5:27am (UTC -5)
Not to defend this episode, but it's a real stretch extrapolating from anything in current computing to Trek. This is supposed to be *three hundred and fifty years* in the future, which is to say *five times* farther from us than we are from ENIAC, which had to be physically rearranged to run each individual task. I assume Trek computers to work on completely different principles than ours, having undergone multiple revolutions to overcome the kind of kludgy inflexibilities mentioned.
Sun, Jan 15, 2017, 8:53pm (UTC -5)
No. Just no. The basics of computing do not change with time. You still deal with binary information that is interpreted however the programmer decided. Again, I am telling you as a programmer that you are wrong. There is no way that alien systems can be made to work together. Zero chance. You can argue with that all you want - you are still wrong. You can argue with a plumber that a pipe with a huge hole in it can still be an effective conveyor of water - and you'll still be wrong.

The more you know about computing, the more ridiculous this episode is.
Sun, Jan 15, 2017, 9:01pm (UTC -5)
What you are suggesting is "magic wand" technology. Life doesn't work like this. And "In the future, computers have a magic ability" (which is exactly what you are saying; you just don't realize it) isn't an argument. It's desperate straw clutching.

If the most simple earth systems cannot be made compatible - even from one OS to another on the same CPU, why on Titan do you think future more complicated technologies from alien systems can be made to interact? Do you think the Cardassians got round the table smoking a cigar with Earthlings swapping notes on how to make all their tech universal across all hardware? Because even that wouldn't be enough.

The universal translator is also a completely impossible device. 100% impossible. We KNOW that. When Trek (and most) writers want to be lazy, they simply wave a magic wand. Sometimes they are simpy naive to how absurd the idea they are peddling is. There is no other explanation.
Sun, Jan 15, 2017, 9:20pm (UTC -5)

Yes, yes, and in the Star Trek world we should be entrenched in WW3 by now. It's a fictional universe with fictional rules. That's the show. We get it.
Mon, Jan 16, 2017, 1:19am (UTC -5)
I'm not talking about magic, at all. I'm talking about the progressive, innovative potential of the future, something Star Trek fans generally look to with bold aspiration.

In the very short history of computing to date, people have already explored a variety of approaches to analog, non-binary, and non-deterministic processes, and the most interesting neural-net ideas going forward (some now running in simple, simulated forms) are in these realms. And that's just what *this coming* century might yield, never mind the next few after that.

It is just painfully parochial to think that the conventions of our current mass-market machines will define the most advanced systems in perpetuity. It's like... confidently stating, perhaps around the 1890s, that the basics of aviation do not change with time, you still deal with lighter-than-air gases...
Peter G.
Mon, Jan 16, 2017, 8:21am (UTC -5)

"The basics of computing do not change with time. You still deal with binary information that is interpreted however the programmer decided. Again, I am telling you as a programmer that you are wrong. "

Being a programmer, you should recognize that this makes you an authority on computer engineering about as much as driving my car to work makes me an expert on automobile construction. And even computer engineers typically aren't involved in the study of advanced computing methods.

One day maybe you'll look back on your comment here and laugh. Probably not, but let's be optimistic and say you will. Are you aware that you may well see quantum computers within your lifetime? Are you also aware that this is a non-binary computing technology?

Announcing triumphantly what the limits on technology will be like in 300 years must be the very height of folly in a Star Trek review page.
Mon, Jan 16, 2017, 11:31pm (UTC -5)
When 3 alien computer systems are interfacing on a space station, pigs will sprout wings and do the air tango.

It ain't happening. It's not even theoretically possible. You'd have better hope trying to do what Tom Paris did and break the light barrier. HAHAHAHAHA!
Mon, Jan 16, 2017, 11:34pm (UTC -5)
Chrome, really? Well can you tell your buddy that? He seems to believe that there are no theoretical limits to anything and so all predictions on the future are off.

I am willing to bet my life that alien systems won't interface on a space station (in fact, we won't even meet another alien race ever), and that we won't break the speed of light. Know why? Cause that's impossible.

I also know that in 300 years, carbon lifeforms will still die. And they'll still be susceptible to fire damage. But --- ohhh noooo... I can't possible know this, can I?

Peter G.
Tue, Jan 17, 2017, 12:19am (UTC -5)
I should have known what I was getting into replying to that. At least mephyve was concise...
Tue, Jan 17, 2017, 8:48am (UTC -5)
Some of us recognize that this episode is based on imaginary assumptions, yet still enjoy it. I could imagine the Cardassians being insidious enough to plant a booby trap in their systems that isn't easily recognizable to Non-Cardassian engineers. It may have happened a little too late in the series, but this one's enjoyable enough that I can roll with it.

My favorite part was when Dukat appeared in person and flicked the baseball off Sisko's desk. :)
Sun, Feb 5, 2017, 6:04pm (UTC -5)
One of my favorite DS9 episodes. I laughed throughout, and unlike Jammer (whose reviews I always enjoy reading), I did not see the A, B, C story distinctions. I saw them as part of the effort to solve the problem with comic relief coming into play. In fact, again unlike Jammer, I thought the Odo-Quark exchanges were the best parts of the episode.

On the other hand, I do agree with the "hero-saving-the-day" criticism.

In any case, thanks Jammer for another insightful review, whether I agree or not.
Mon, Feb 6, 2017, 12:59am (UTC -5)
Hello Everyone

I think I'll just stick to Dukat for now.

I thought the reason he spoke very specifically and distinctly was because he was not just Arrogant Dukat, he was Imperious Dukat, believing he had the upper hand. He was in control again, and there wasn't anything anyone could do about it. So he strutted and pontificated, delighted that this Cardassian program was giving them so much trouble, rubbing it in their faces by getting a drink, then letting the weapon re-appear. Yep, he was pretty pleased with himself.

Then it all blew up in his face. :)

They way it was acted worked for me, and I find it a very enjoyable episode. Thumbs up.

Sun, Mar 12, 2017, 4:10am (UTC -5)

You really are an arrogant and obnoxious bellend.
Sun, Mar 12, 2017, 3:07pm (UTC -5)
DLPB: "I am willing to bet my life that alien systems won't interface on a space station (in fact, we won't even meet another alien race ever), and that we won't break the speed of light. Know why? Cause that's impossible."

Am I the only one who thinks it odd that DLPB has this viewpoint and 19 pages of comments on a Star Trek website?

What’s even more odd, I don’t know that I disagree with DLPB. Perhaps there aren’t any space aliens. And for all the technology that Star Trek seems to have foreseen and predicted, I still wonder about some of the stuff that they routinely do: ie: the transporter—is it really possible to dismantle and then reassemble elsewhere a living being? And faithfully recreate the physical, mental and spiritual essence of that individual?

Isn’t it ridiculous how many times the ST writers have whatever crew stumble upon unknown alien technology and almost immediately master the system, without ever having to input a password or know the native language?

Technobabble can be overdone, yes, but it isn’t interesting and worthwhile and fun to consider and brainstorm and expand our mind with all kinds of possibilities?
Mon, Mar 13, 2017, 10:26am (UTC -5)
I think it depends on what DLPB means by "we". "We" humans here on Earth now will never meet aliens more likely than not. But if we survive long enough to leave this planet the idea that our species will NEVER meet aliens is kind of crazy to me. We can't possibly be that unique given the size of the universe.
Mon, Mar 13, 2017, 7:00pm (UTC -5)
I am willing to bet that there ARE aliens comparable or greater in intelligence than us somewhere in the universe (although, that is by no means certain), but we, as a species, will never see one, as it is nearly impossible. In fact, I said impossible before, because it basically is. Breaking light speed in the manner Trek does is totally impossible. Not even in question, really. It will never happen for a variety of reasons— Mathematical and practical.


You really are an arrogant and obnoxious bellend.

I have a feeling you weren't going for irony with that post, so I have to assume you are as thick as shit :P
Mon, Mar 13, 2017, 7:11pm (UTC -5)
NASA and other organizations like you to keep ponying up the dough. They know very well that the distances involved and the logistics of us ever getting far enough into space are not realistic. We can barely even reach the bottom of our own ocean. Sci-fi is fun - but, it's just that: fiction.

There is nothing obnoxious or ignorant in pointing out that inertia dampers are impossible - that warp travel is virtually impossible - that time dilation is real - that oxygen supply, food supply, fuel, life expectancy, and other problems are real. These problems are basically dooming us to an eternity in this solar system. It doesn't matter whether you agree with me or not - Those are the facts. Even communicating with another intelligent race is ridiculously limited due to the light-speed barrier.

I know people are going to argue over this for a long time, but assuming that humans are still around in 1000 years, I have a feeling that their optimism will be far lower than it is today.
Sun, Jul 30, 2017, 10:10pm (UTC -5)
3 stars. Very entertaining episode with genuine tension and well crafted situations of jeopardy

The jake, Ben and obeien team up was great

I liked seeing more of the station with the ore processing sets. It also makes a great deal of sense Dukat would create such a program and not let the Federation know of it. And the sequence of reactions by the program made a great deal of sense from initially giving the rebels an opportunity to surrender then when they don't to release the poison gas then when insurrection spreads beyond oee processing Ops being secured then when the cardassians lose control of the station activating a self destruct sequence. And Dukat's superiors adding to Dukat's program further to keep him onboard Terok Nor

Liked Garak in the mix whether using his Cardassisn codes to move about the ship or trying to forge Dukat's codes or calling Dukat out when Dukat was trying to impress Kira

I liked Dukat showing up and thinking he was in a position of power only to have the worm turn and finding himself trapped on the station and in the same. Boat as everybody else

The Odo quark interaction were good and just the sort of things you'd expect each character would bring up and react the way they did
Wed, Oct 25, 2017, 4:39pm (UTC -5)
Such long comments on this episode and even positive ones. Unbelievable. It stinks. Zero stars. Only watched it because I am watching all of the episodes but this episode should have been self-destructed. Sucked from the first second and a pure waste of time.
Sun, Nov 26, 2017, 6:43am (UTC -5)
Am I missing something here? All this talk about whether or not they would have left part of Cardassian OS running but surely, if they did, as part of the treaty there would be some sort of long term support agreement with the Cardassians to help if any bugs cropped up? Why the hell did they not simply contact the Federation and/or Cardassian command about this issue as soon as it arose and get someone to given them the override codes they needed?

I couldn't find any indication during the episode that the security protocols had cut-off external contact. If they had, it would of helped maintain my suspension of disbelief. As it was, it seems like they made a mountain out of a mole hill on this one.
Sun, Nov 26, 2017, 11:24am (UTC -5)
At this point in time the Federation & the Cardassians have a treaty, but the Cardassians and the Bajorans do not. And the station is Bajoran property, managed by the Federation.

Remember the pilot episode: the Cardassians had smashed and looted much of the station before they left. They may have had some sort of withdrawal agreement with the Bajorans (perhaps the Bajorans agreed to cease hostilities for a certain period of time while the Cardassians left & the Cardassians agreed to not destroy the station), but I doubt they have any agreement for tech support.
Mon, Nov 27, 2017, 11:59am (UTC -5)
@ Chris
Sun, Nov 26, 2017, 6:43am (UTC -6)
"Am I missing something here? All this talk about whether or not they would have left part of Cardassian OS running but surely, if they did, as part of the treaty there would be some sort of long term support agreement with the Cardassians to help if any bugs cropped up? Why the hell did they not simply contact the Federation and/or Cardassian command about this issue as soon as it arose and get someone to given them the override codes they needed?

I couldn't find any indication during the episode that the security protocols had cut-off external contact. If they had, it would of helped maintain my suspension of disbelief. As it was, it seems like they made a mountain out of a mole hill on this one."

External contact wouldn't have helped. This was Dukat's program.
Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 7:14pm (UTC -5)
Mildly entertaining but shallow episode -- was it sloppiness that the Dukat self-defense program wasn't disarmed when DS9 was handed over to the Federation/Bajor or that it couldn't be? Anyhow, the progressively worsening situation with Dukat's pre-recorded commentary was fun to watch. It seemed idiotic to me how Kira kept phasering computers to disarm the life-support system and force-fields -- Dukat's program certainly worked against her Bajoran thinking.

I guess one point worth mentioning is the thoroughness of Dukat the Cardassian in creating an elaborate system of self-defense against a Bajoran uprising. If there's one trait of Cardassians, it's their meticulous and calculating nature.

Sisko saving the day at the end reminded me of Data in "The Naked Now" putting all the chips back into place -- so seeing Sisko doing this was a bit hard to believe. The whole ending scene with Jake pulling O'Brien out of the fiery passage was also hard to believe -- and somewhat cliche trying to be really heroic/grandiose.

Even Dukat's appearance on the station -- wasn't one of his better performances although it was funny to see him get his comeuppance for his gloating. Definitely some interesting back-and-forth with Garak. But his scene with Kira in Sisko's office didn't work -- at least those 2 are continuing their head-to-head battle of wills which will continue during the series.

The countdown to self-destruction should have brought out more memorable feelings between characters -- logical to place Odo/Quark together, but their dialog was entirely forgettable, mainly because Quark is too annoying.

Not sure if the episode suffered from the technobabble solutions because that has to be part of the equation in this type of plot, but it didn't seem logical to me -- whatever Sisko/O'Brien came up with regarding DS9's shields and the ending blast - I'm not exactly sure what was supposed to have taken place.

2 stars for "Civil Defense" -- some potential wasted here. An interesting (albeit maybe a tad far-fetched premise) and I don't think we got many good character moments -- mostly action-based but with some good barbs traded at times. DS9 took a lot of destruction but I assume it will be back to normal in time for the next episode -- of course it wasn't going to blow up, but how it was spared was not realistic.
Sat, Jun 9, 2018, 8:13pm (UTC -5)
I thought I was very clever in figuring out what was wrong (and right) with this episode, but reading the comments shows me that others know, too. Oh well--I'll tell it in my own way.

What the hell is wrong with the DS9 writers? If you are going to do a disaster story, follow the rules! Like TNG and Voyager did, you choose unlikely groupings to give previously lesser-acquainted characters a chance to get to know each other and figure out their strengths and weaknesses.

O'Brien has already done this once when he got to work with Troi and Ro--this time he gets Jake and Sisko? We've seen his before! Put him with Quark, or Garak, or Dax!

And Odo and Quark? Yawn. Put Quark with Dax and Odo with 20 terrified school children because Keiko is trapped in the bathroom.

They really dropped the ball overall. However, I laughed out loud when Dukat got stuck on the station with them. THAT is what a disaster show is supposed to be about! And he turns out to be funny, and the rest of the Ops segments were fun.

Sisko really sucks. "Stay here, son." "No Dad, I don't want to." "Okay."

Are there no parents on the writing staff? If you have to do something to save everyone's lives, you either want your kid with you for as long as possible, or you want your kid to stay away so you can focus on the task that MUST be accomplished. Pick one. Don't keep changing your mind.

This episode makes me sad because it could have been so much better--and so easily.
Fri, Aug 10, 2018, 10:00am (UTC -5)
This episode is an immense amount of fun for what it is. The Dukat scenes, are, as usual, pure gold. However, the premise would be a lot more believable had this episode been made in Season 1. It would have been a lot more tense as well.

3 stars.
Thu, Sep 20, 2018, 6:18pm (UTC -5)
Teaser : ***.5, 5%

Jakes is still apprenticing O'Brien, even though we have established that Jake has a talent for writing and no desire to go to the Academy and no material needs nor any need to learn how to hold down a job in order to support himself. So why is he here? Exposition! The pair are reviewing and purging old files in the Cardassian computer, specifically those related to the operation of those horrible mines in which the Bajoran workers (and Mirror Universe humans) used to toil. It's interesting to ponder. There are lingering controversies around the German railways which took part in the transport of Jews to concentration camps. I'd be curious to know what the Bajoran perspective on re-purposing the Cardassian technology which sentenced so many of them to death only a couple of years prior is.

Jake runs into a tricky file which doesn't seem to want to be deleted. When O'Brien attempts to isolate the file for later analysis, an alarm is triggered. An access code is requested by the computer and when O'Brien enters his, he Jake and Sisko are trapped within the old ore-processing centre. Throughout the station the computer warns of a “worker revolt in progress.” And the cherry on top of this shit sundae is the appearance of Dukat's smug face on the monitors. He warns the “revolters” to relinquish control to their Cardassian, erm, “supervisors.” Ick.

Act 1 : **.5, 17%

In Ops, Kira and co. are learning that this security programme is rather—erm, thorough. They can't beam the trapped crew out of the mine. Odo is attempting to override the system from his office. Quark, amusingly, has a higher access level than Odo (which I'm sure he purchased in a fair bribe). But neither's is sufficient to clear away the programme.

Dukat's next warning briefly appears, threatening to end the lives of the “workers” if they don't surrender. So, Sisko surrenders. Dukat's choose-your-own-adventure reply assures them they won't be harmed by Cardassian security. Yeah, sure. At least they bought some time. So, the trio look for alternatives. They'll send Jake through a tube into the ductwork or whatever to try and open a hatch. A disappointed Dukat avatar re-appears to warn them that their failure to surrender IRL will cause the system to release nerve gas into the mine. I have to say that, the first appearances of Dukat's pre-recorded videos were amusing. The idea that he would bother putting all of these contingency messages in his own voice is just the right flavourful mixture of absurd paranoia and ego that defines the character. But already, it's becoming a bit irritating. What do his warnings, separated by in some cases mere seconds of down-time add that the computer's voice wouldn't? It already feels gratuitous. These should have been saved for the major, personal announcements (“you're all going to die”). Further dragging things down is the odd mix of mood. Dukat's blathering and Jake hitting his head like a cartoon character are over-the-top slapstick humour, but the music underpins the fact that the trio are minutes away from an excruciating death. Jake manages to open the hatch just as the gas is released (and conveniently heavier than the atmosphere, allowing the trio to escape).

This escape, of course, leads to a station-wide upping in security and Dukat's face informs them that *all* the Bajorans will be killed if the revolt isn't stopped.

Act 2 : ***, 17%

Sisko and co. climb their way into a filthy loading bay only to discover that their communicators have been disrupted, a problem that persists throughout the station, including Ops and Odo's office (trapping him with Quark). Jadzia attempts to bypass the security fields while Bashir laments the irony that he had started viewing DS9 as home, a sentiment which echoes the clunky character material from “The Search I.”

Sisko is being typically subtle, trying to ram a hatch open with a mining cart. He figures they may have more luck with an old-fashioned Starfleet McGuyvering, so he set O'Brien to work. This must anger the Technobabble Gods, however, as Jadzia has her hands fried when trying to compete her bypass. Honestly, her description leads me to think that the sudden appearance of a force field would probably have just chopped them off her arms (eek). Jadzia's attempt ups the security even further. Dukat's face warns that the next step will be in murdering all the inhabitants of the habitat ring (hundreds of people). Garak appears dramatically in Ops, his old access code (heh?) granting him mobility around the station. He can't really do much else, however. He does suggest they destroy the life-support system to buy some time. Astonishingly—and terrifyingly—this can be accomplished by Kira shooting a single control panel in Ops. Wow. Well, rather than making the life-support system remotely safe or backed up, those cooky Cardassians programmed in a third level of counterinsurgency to respond to this action. Dukat's face informs them all that the self-destruct sequence has left them only a couple of hours to live. Dun dun dun.

Act 3 : **.5, 17%

QUARK: I should've listened to my father. He always warned me this was going to happen.
ODO: What? That you'd spend your final hours in jail? I could've told you that.

Hilarious. Things get a little depressing as Quark laments his lack of financial success. Odo, oddly, compliments Quark in Ferengi terms, heaping praise on Quark for being especially devious.

In Ops, Garak is able to determine that only Dukat could end the programme. Dax suggests trying to fool the computer into thinking that Garak himself *is* Dukat. Bashir takes the opportunity to tease Garak about the incredible technical skills possessed by the tailor. It seems Dukat has left a bunch of security questions—like the kind that let you retrieve the password to your bank account—in his access codes. Unfortunately, Garak isn't quite sure what his first Dukat's first college roommate's pet was called, so the computer ups security again, which is as goofy as it is impractical, replicating a small phaser cannon and shooting at them (vaporising a red shirt). But then....

Dukat beams into Ops. It seems he was hailed by himself (part of the counterinsurgency programme). He is deeply amused by these events (it's fun to gloat when you're immune to the phaser's targeting sensors). He can end the threat, but decides he's going to leverage first.

Garak (who is also immune to the sensors) takes the opportunity to admonish Dukat for his (and his father's) short-sightedness, hinting again at their backstory from “Cardassians.” He shuts off the phaser and invites Kira to his old office to discuss the situation. He makes himself comfortable, knocks Sisko's baseball off his desk and demands that a Cardassian garrison be stationed aboard DS9 in exchange for solving their problem. Sigh...Kira points out the obvious, that even if she were to agree, neither Bajor nor the Federation would honour such an agreement. Good. Now, can someone explain to me what the hell Dukat is hoping to accomplish with this nonsense? The threat created by this programme is enough, why are we introducing this flimsy contrived BS? So we know Dukat is a bad guy? I think his threats to murder the entire population of the station have already cemented the idea. So, he tries to beam away to give Kira time to think over his proposal (are we really supposed to believe that if she acquiesces, the Cardassians will be permanently stationed here? Seriously?). turns out that the programme has a *further* failsafe which punishes Dukat for attempting to escape the insurgency, aligning with the attitude of many other Cardassians we've seen about Dukat's particular character flaws.

Act 4 : **.5, 17%

Now that Dukat is in as much danger as the rest, he willingly helps lead Jadzia to a technobabble solution to the self-destruct. Dukat hasn't lost any of his bravado, nor has Garak lost any of his insight into Dukat's smarmy attempts at seducing Kira, but at least Jadzia manages to discover how to overload the power grid. Together, they succeed, knocking out several of the station's systems, including the force fields and dampening field.

Meanwhile, O'Brien has completed his task and sets off a very convenient little explosion, freeing the trio from the loading bay. The plots collide as Kira is able to re-establish contact with Sisko. The trio are sent to try and stop the doom while Kira begins evacuating the station. Again.

Act 5 : *.5, 17%

It turns out the security in Odo's office is still active, having kept the power their on a separate grid. This opens up the opportunity for Quark to return Odo's backhanded compliment, “They knew you were an honourable man. The kind of person who would do the right thing regardless of the circumstances. And now your integrity is going to get us both killed. I hope you're happy.”

Sisko and co. run into a few more arbitrary obstacles which they overcome, including some blown out debris and a plasma fire. O'Brien is injured, jake is left behind away from the immediate danger. Sisko makes it to the fusion reactor, Jake braves the flames and rescues O'Brien, and Sisko saves the day with seconds to spare. Quark and Odo finally escape to reprise their banter, and the station looks completely fine even though they blew out all their power systems a few seconds ago. Dukat isn't heard from again and um...happy ending?

Episode as Functionary : **, 10%

The plot, such as it is, is very thin and, despite the Rube Goldberg-level of back-up security measures depicted, rather simplistic. Why, for example, didn't the DNA-scanners work on Sisko and co.? Surely, such a contingency-ridden failsafe system would account for the possibility of Cardassain “supervisors” needing to escape at some point! Overall, the mortal peril aspect to the story is stretched way to thin for the amount of screentime dedicated to it, making several scenes, especially toward the end feel pretty bland.

The most successful parts of the episode is the character interplay between Dukat and Garak, and between Quark and Odo. The banter is all pretty funny and well-performed (which we can expect at this point from these actors). Most of the action bits are very perfunctory and I really don't care for the forced, absurd and (forgotten?) threat Dukat makes to Kira.

When the danger-plot created a backdrop for interesting character material, I was mostly onboard, but at some point, when this story ceased to be a bottle episode and became about fancy special effects and Serious Danger™, it lost me. About 30-40% of the episode is solid entertainment, and the rest is a waste of time.

Final Score : **.5
Thu, Sep 20, 2018, 6:49pm (UTC -5)
I like this one more than most, though perhaps it’s a guilty action movie pleasure like TNG’s “Starship Mine”. Like Elliott pointed out there are some great moments between Garak and Dukat, and I even think some of the Quark material (cousin Gaila is introduced here!) is pretty funny.


“Now, can someone explain to me what the hell Dukat is hoping to accomplish with this nonsense?”

I’m not sure Dukat seriously thinks he can establish a permanent Cardassian presence, yet I think it’s consistent with his character that he’d try every angle to assert his dominance over the Bajorans and thumb his nose at Sisko. Kira agreeing to Dukat’s demands might only be a temporary and fleeting success for Dukat, but it’s still a symbolic victory, nonetheless.
Thu, Sep 20, 2018, 7:02pm (UTC -5)
I’ll quickly add that Dukat’s aggression is also a good setup allowing the turn of events for him to go from antagonist to comrade. It once again shows DS9’s strength which is making diverse people who don’t usually work well together get past their differences and overcome mutual adversity.
Peter G.
Thu, Sep 20, 2018, 10:46pm (UTC -5)
I always just assumed that Dukat's posturing, and then subsequent demands, are just more posturing. He wanted to impress them with his "audacity" since obviously his demand were ridiculous. No doubt it amused him to no end to say that stuff while sipping his coffee. I never really took it at face value that he truly intended to leverage anything out of this other than looking awesome and in charge. I believe he always intended to save them anyhow and just wanted to be dramatic.
Fri, Sep 21, 2018, 3:52pm (UTC -5)
@Chrome & Peter G

Yeah, I agree it is within character for Dukat to poster and wave his dick around, but he also isn't stupid. His bravado in previous episodes was always tied to some tangible and logical strategy. Not so in this story.
Fri, Sep 21, 2018, 3:53pm (UTC -5)
*posture. Geeze.
Tue, Dec 11, 2018, 5:32pm (UTC -5)
Watching and commenting:

--Ackk! I do not like this beginning. Brooks . . . maybe there's a reason he looks like he's simmering with anger when all he's doing is reminding Jake and O'Brien that it's lunch time?? But now, Jake and O'Brien are trapped with Commander Angry Grouchy Pants.

--Somebody call Garak. Doesn't Sisko have Dukat on speed dial?

--I hate it when the former owners leave a mess.

---Surrendering. Giving up, and not giving up.

--Garak!! There's hope, now. He buys them two whole hours.

--Quark and Odo are funny together. "I should've listened to my father. He always warned me this would happen!" "What? That you'd spend your final hours in jail? I could've told you that."

--Lots and lots and lots of phaser fire.

--OMG, shut up Dukat, and stop the program!!

--I don't understand why Dukat wants Kira's permission to have his men board the station. Why doesn't he just do it? Bring his men aboard, stop the program, and insist his men stay, they're as darn hard to get rid of as he says they'll be. This part, with Dukat bothering to negotiate with Kira, makes zero sense.

Yuh-oh, a moot point. Dukat's screwed, hoisted by his own petard. A nice twist.

--"And now, your integrity is going to get us both killed!" Quark, with the Ferenghi take on the importance of honor.

--Lots o' technobabble, babble, babble, babble. Obstacles, obstacles, obstacles. Overcoming, overcoming, overcoming.

--Your basic "you're about to die!" Trek adventure. Flames, computer counting down . . . will our hero manage to beat the clock?

--Lots of father references. Something about . . . what gets programmed into you?

Rocky start (literally), but I liked it overall.
Tue, Mar 12, 2019, 11:48am (UTC -5)
I enjoyed this episode! I love Quark, he gets some funny lines. “Your integrity is going to get us killed. I hope you’re happy.” Lol, classic Quark.

Incredible bravery by Sisko and O’Brien to go into the burning Jefferies tube, and then by Jake to rescue O’Brien.

Enjoyable and fun!
bobbington mcbob
Mon, Jun 10, 2019, 1:09pm (UTC -5)
They've had starfleet engineers crawling all over that station for 2 years. I can almost understand the program getting missed if it was buried in some separate sub processor, but how has no one ever noticed the canisters of nerve gas secreted all about the place? They never got picked up by the ultra sensitive tricorders or weapons detection system? Its all a bit silly really.

Dukat is also officially nuts. There was no way stationing a garrison was going to last more than 5 minutes before he was court martialled and an emergency session of the assembly convened to prevent war with the Federation, resulting in an execution order by that cardassian Judge lady with the fetching grey lipstick.

Still, I had fun I think.
Jason R.
Tue, Jun 11, 2019, 5:33am (UTC -5)
"I can almost understand the program getting missed if it was buried in some separate sub processor, but how has no one ever noticed the canisters of nerve gas secreted all about the place? They never got picked up by the ultra sensitive tricorders or weapons detection system? Its all a bit silly really."

We can assume that the station's life support system is, in essence, a replicator capable of producing any compound on demand. Nothing less would make sense given the technology they have. So there were no canisters of nerve gas. The computer simply conjured the gas on demand.

To me this episode makes perfect sense. It was a file hidden on a separate database for an obsolete system that the Federation staff had not even gotten around to inspecting. It was still a Cardassian computer running Cardassian software so it's understandable that some leftover military grade computer virus could wreak havoc once unleashed.

The funny thing about Trek is that so much of it severely underestimates the capabilities of the tech we take for granted. Loved the replicated gun turret - actually surprising we never saw something like that before!
Mon, Oct 14, 2019, 7:24am (UTC -5)
A lot of comments to wade through here so sorry if anyone else mentioned this, but given the jeopardy at the end of the episode - why the hell aren't Sisko, O'Brien and Jake absolutely legging it down to level 34, rather than ambling merrily along?

Apart from that silliness, I'm in two minds on this episode - it's always been one of my favourites, I love the constant ramping up of tension, and it's great that everybody (even the hugely underused Jake) gets something to do.

But... watching it last night for the first time in maybe 10 years, I agree with the posters who've said this one feels off somehow. I don't particularly mind Dukat's overacting, but the normally reliable Garak seems to be chewing the scenery, and a lot of the dialogue feels stilted. I love the idea of the Garak-Dukat sparring, and it should be great to have them together, but the expected wittiness just isn't there.

Maybe I was in a bad mood last night, but I was disappointed really, since I remembered this one as being great, and it just ... isn't.
Mon, Oct 14, 2019, 9:44am (UTC -5)
I always saw this one more in the ok category. 2 stars seems like a good rating.
The only thing that I kind of liked in the episode was Dukat's stupid face when the program turned against him. As you mentioned the Dukat Garak bickering was pretty annoying.

One scene in particular really bugged me about that episode and I know that it may sound stupid but here it goes. When they use rocks to blow up the door, they just make a pile and then puff door open. Either the door is made out of paper or this scene makes no sense. If we assume that the door is relatively tough then the trio should be jelly on the other side of the room. The explosion will not just decide: "Oh boy where to focus my energy. Yeah let's open the door."
No, the explosion should have pushed the minecart back and smushed the guys.
Fri, Oct 18, 2019, 5:36am (UTC -5)

Yep, fair point, Dukat's face (and the way he twiddles his thumbs anxiously) when the programme turns against him too is brilliant!

And yeah, the blowing up the door is a bit silly. I like the way it produces an almost perfect circle for them to crawl through...
Fri, Oct 18, 2019, 5:37am (UTC -5)
PS. Yes, agreed that 2 stars is fair. But prior to rewatching it, I'd have pegged it as a 3 or 3.5.
Fri, Oct 18, 2019, 6:13am (UTC -5)
I'm the same, I loved this episode the first time I saw it but it's never really worked for me since. It's great upon first viewing because it's basically a "ride" episode - plenty of surprises and you never know what's gonna happen next, as the stakes keep being amped up. But on subsequent viewings I never found it that compelling - and yeah, the Garak/Dukat material just feels off. Dukat's conduct is certainly in character but Garak feels too on the nose. I'd still give it 2.5 though.
Tue, May 26, 2020, 10:29am (UTC -5)
“Attention Bajoran Workers” has become a meme. Which means this episode has stood up over the years as one of the more entertaining “hokey” efforts. I love how everything they do just trips another, worse, outcome. And I love scenery chewing if it’s done right and Alaimo and Robinson strike all the right comedic beats.
SS Elim
Sun, Aug 30, 2020, 9:43pm (UTC -5)
"There I was, patrolling the Demilitarized zone, when I received a distress signal... from me!"

I definitely rate this one higher than you. I love this episode. The absurd escalation of the counter-insurgency measures is a wild ride. And you can't beat Dukat getting locked out of his own program.
Fri, Sep 4, 2020, 10:36am (UTC -5)
Love this episode! Come back to it again and again for the many wonderful comedic moments. My favorite is when Garak notices Julian grinning at him, asks what is so funny, Julian replies how many tailors would know their way around a computer system, and Garak replies I hardly know and that reminds me your pants are ready. Have no problem with there being a hidden Cardassian computer program, and really like the solution to direct the energy into the station's force fields and the fireworks display at the end. 4 stars
Sat, Sep 19, 2020, 9:23pm (UTC -5)
I liked this episode and found it entertaining, but my biggest issue was that it's just so insanely unrealistic. Having a pre-recorded message for every single variable just seems very unlikely, but even so having it automatically destroy the entire station without someone needing to authorize that is just impossible to believe.
Tue, Oct 20, 2020, 8:37pm (UTC -5)
I like Jake’s character development in this episode. The episode before this one tried to show how he is growing up by having him date a Dabo girl (who did no look 20 years old at all) but in my opinion this one does a better job of showing his coming-of-age.

As for the evil cardassian computer plot, I’m not sure if I like this one or Dreadnought better. Probably the latter because the “adaptive programming” is more believable than the pre-recorded programming.

I think that one thing that would have really made this episode shine is if there were more shots of the civilians and how the general public reacted to the threats that were broadcast on monitors, the PA, etc.
Wed, Feb 10, 2021, 12:19pm (UTC -5)
Reading Jamer's review , I'm not sure this episode merits 2 starts but maybe 3. Aside from the fail safe that I thought was at the time humorous and preposterous , it's a fun ''escape room'' episode.

Anyhow, this is Saw Trek ....just replace Dukat by Jig Saw
Thu, Mar 25, 2021, 4:33am (UTC -5)
Completely disagree with this review (which is rare). I loved this episode when i first watched it and just loved it just as much when i finished watching it an hour ago. The constant roadblocks for escape are hilarious, the escalations due to none compliance are keep it moving along and the constant reassuring voice of past-Dukat are great. Perfect bottle episode.
Sat, Jul 24, 2021, 1:03pm (UTC -5)
I enjoyed this episode a lot and had fun watching it (which is all I ask most of the time).

But as someone else mentioned, it bugged me when Sisko, O'Brien, and Jake are just casually walking towards the doohickey control panel when the self-destruct timer keeps counting down the minutes. Double time, men!

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