Star Trek: Deep Space Nine


3.5 stars

Air date: 11/21/1994
Written by Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Cliff Bole

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"This ship was built to fight. I think it's time she got her chance." — Riker

DS9 again returns to the political intrigue territory it knows so well when William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) visits the station and steals the Defiant, then begins charging through Cardassian space with the deadly weapon and not exactly diplomatic intentions.

Not actually Will Riker, but Thomas Riker, a duplicate of the Enterprise first officer created in a transporter mishap nine years ago and discovered two years ago in TNG's episode "Second Chances." Thomas impersonates his doppelganger to gain Kira's trust and a tour of the Defiant. After stunning her with a phaser, he beams a skeleton Maquis crew aboard the warship then promptly warps away from DS9.

Having Frakes cross over to DS9 is, of course, fun, but what makes this episode work in the long run is its compellingly intricate plot and another pairing up of Sisko and Dukat.

Sisko travels to Cardassia Prime to help Dukat hunt down the renegade Defiant and prevent an interstellar incident. Meanwhile, Riker reveals his intentions to the helpless Kira: To check out whether a group of renegade Cardassians is building a secret fleet in the Orious System.

Again, the enigmatic Obsidian Order (well-utilized in "Second Skin") comes into play, this time in the form of Korinas (Tricia O'Neil), who observes the tracking process with Sisko and Dukat. Korinas has the closest thing to an evil grin that DS9 has yet dare use, and O'Neil's performance is chillingly effective. As the search draws nearer to the Orious System, she becomes uneasy, quickly stating that no ship may enter the Orious System or the Obsidian Order will destroy it—including a ship of the Central Command.

There are a number of intriguing scenes at the tracking facility as the uninformed Dukat slowly begins to suspect the Obsidian Order may be plotting behind the back of the Central Command. Like in "The Maquis," Sisko and Dukat find themselves working together, albeit under different agendas. The real payoff in "Defiant" is how the sequence of events brings both to realize where the real threat lies—not with Riker in the Defiant, but with the Order's suspected use of forbidden power, who has apparently been building illegal military equipment.

This leads Dukat to strike a deal: In exchange for the sensor logs the Defiant has obtained on the mysterious Orious System, the Cardassians will release the Defiant and its crew, less Riker who must be sentenced to death. Sisko works with Dukat to reduce the sentence to life imprisonment.

This is a fine script by Ron Moore, with the most interesting plot manipulations so far this season. Cliff Bole's direction is also nicely paced, balancing a number of character scenes between Dukat and Sisko with the suspenseful Hunt-for-Red-October-inspired plot. While both Sisko and Dukat stay perfectly in character, there's a personal respect for each other that these two begin to discover—something that surfaced in "Maquis" which also works well here. The writers also manage to work in a tad of the inner-character conflict of the duplicate Riker—a little bit of identity crisis that wasn't sufficiently addressed in "Second Chances." And best of all, this whole Obsidian Order thing just screams of future development, possibly a Cardassian revolution or worse.

Indeed, political intrigue is what DS9 knows best.

Previous episode: Meridian
Next episode: Fascination

◄ Season Index

49 comments on this review

Sat, Dec 27, 2008, 10:57pm (UTC -5)
I like the short scene involving O'Brien and Riker. Riker knows that O'Brien would figure him out and give him away so he just defuses it before O'Brien would even have a chance. I always wondered what Miles was thinking in that scene.
Sat, Aug 22, 2009, 4:54pm (UTC -5)
Poor Kira...she gets duped and phasered by "Riker" here, and then again a year later by Eddington in "For The Cause".
Mon, Mar 8, 2010, 3:54pm (UTC -5)

Truly the one serious flaw in this episode is the lack of Eddington. Granted the writers may not have planned this far advance that he would be Maquis. But he still should have been in the episode.

Eddington was placed in charge of Starfleet-related station security back in The Search part I. Certainly that must include Defiant security?!? Then it was his fault that Tom Riker was able to steal the Tough Little Ship (even if we accept the DNA excuse), and he should certainly have been there (with Odo) for the debriefing with Dukat.
Jeff O'Connor
Fri, Oct 1, 2010, 7:06pm (UTC -5)
I just watched this episode last night. I write reviews for the series, myself, but for some reason I felt compelled to post something here -- I agree that this is a terrific outing and the political intrigue is marvelous. I also feel that almost every scene is above-par. What I don't like one bit is the Kira/Riker nonsense; her attraction to the man is purely physical and never addressed in any real, likeable light, and at the end of the episode when Riker kisses her before leaving, it's so hackneyed and incredulous I winced.
Tue, Feb 15, 2011, 9:50pm (UTC -5)
This episode is just about perfect. I love how character interaction is mingled with important plot developments (truly DS9's biggest strength). I love Korinas' evil grin and the softening of Dukat. And I actually don't mind the kiss at the end... If I was about to spend my life in prison, I probably wouldn't care about hurting someone else's feelings anymore, I'd just go for it.
I'd Enter her Prize
Sun, Mar 6, 2011, 2:21am (UTC -5)
A fun suspenseful episode all around. We get a space battle, some TNG love, and shifty creepy ominous Obsidian Order involvement presaging events to come.

The only thing stopping me from giving this 5 stars is the fact we didn't get to see the Defiant actually blow anything up.

And I agree with Nic, I don't think the kiss at the end wasn't the climax of a kira/Riker romance build up, it was Riker realizing he'd be in a Cardassian labor camp for the next 30 years, and wanted a pleasant memory to take with him. You know the 'real' Riker would have done the same thing, too.

4 stars
Sat, May 21, 2011, 4:16pm (UTC -5)
A soothing antidote to my disappointing revisit of "Civil Defense" recently. Benefited from less (TECH) dialogue, though there was still some nonsense about neutrino leaks and modulating the shield frequency to make the cloak immune to antiproton beams.

Having seen his style in more pure form in BSG, Ron Moore's storytelling approach on Trek becomes more evident in retrospect. He clearly preferred to dispense with (TECH) as hastily as possible, the better to get at juicy scenes like Kira explaining how terrorists don't get to be heroes.

As far as Long Term Plot Patrol goes, the Obsidian Order's fleet did finally appear, yes, but Dukat's knowledge of the fleet amounted to nothing. Maybe Defiant's sensor scans were worthless.
Commander Porkins
Tue, Mar 27, 2012, 12:27am (UTC -5)
You mentioned a Hunt-For-Red-October-esque vibe, but the echoes I was strongly hearing were from Dr. Strangelove. Korinas almost literally protested Sisko seeing the Big Board, and I was actually disappointed nobody on the Defiant mentioned the CRM-114 unit.
Duge Butler Jr.
Sun, Apr 1, 2012, 5:55pm (UTC -5)
Excellent episode and good follow up on TNG's "Second Chances" with Tom Riker. Looking back, I loved how it laid the groundwork for "The Die is Cast" as well. I still can't figure out what Riker was referring to in regards to his brief encounter with O'Brien- though it's entirely possible that it was simply intended to throw O'Brien off guard to prevent his cover from being blown (though if I were O'Brien, I'd be instantly suspicious about his behavior and might have said something). It was disappointing that Riker had to be imprisoned at the end as it could've opened up some more doors in terms of stories with him but it makes sense that the Cardassians could simply not allow him to walk off scot-free after what he had done. It's too bad that there was no follow up on Kira's pledge to find him and rescue him later in the series though that certainly does not, in any way, diminish the stellar quality of this episode.
Lt. Fitz
Mon, Jun 25, 2012, 5:26am (UTC -5)
I don't know. This episode didn't make any sense to me. Why couldn't the Cardassians just cripple the Defiant, take it and the logs, and punish all the Maqui aboard? Even with the revelation of hidden Cardassian ships in that sector, wouldn't they work together to deal with the Defiant? Then, I would think, that the Cardassian council or whatever would be all over the Obsidians and the hidden base. It just seemed weird that the way to deal with it would be for them to try to find out what’s going on there by reading logs off an invading ship. I mean the Cardassians are badasses. As soon as that Maqui ship was out of the way, the military should have sent all available ships to find out what the Obsidians were up to regardless of whatever would result. It just seemed weird. “Oh! We can figure out what’s going on there by examining the maqui logs!” Silly. Also, why would the rest of the Maqui crew just go along with Riker's decision to wimp out on the mission? I mean, I assume they all figured they were going to die during this mission. It's hard to imagine how they wouldn't, even of they hadn't been pursued. Then, suddenly, Riker hands the ship over to Kira and they all just go along? "OK. Let's all go back and be dealt with by Federation justice." Bull. At least some of them would still want to die destroying Cardassians, just like Kira describes good terrorists ought to do. This was another example of a sadly too typically easy and bloodless Trek solution to what could have been a glorious and complicated conflict with lots of splosions. Oh well.
Roshard Davis
Mon, Jul 23, 2012, 12:23am (UTC -5)
This is one of my favorite episodes of the third season of Star Trek DS9. It does have it's minor flaws (I agree with Grumpy about Dukat trying to get the sensor logs here may have been a waste of time since we do not hear or see from him about using those logs to stop the obsidian order in the "Improbably Cause/The Die is Cast" story line). However, most of the story line was awesome. From Thomas Riker pretending to be his twin Will Riker to steal the Defiant, from the space battles, from the interactions between Sisko and Dukat, and the female cardassian Korinas who represents the Obsidian Order. One of my favorite episodes indeed.
Sun, Jul 29, 2012, 1:42am (UTC -5)
It is the Orias sector by the way...
Pity the never followed up on whatever happened to this Riker...
Patrick Dodds
Sun, Jul 29, 2012, 4:30pm (UTC -5)
This episode is for DS9 what "Conspiracy" was to TNG: an interesting idea for a follow-up story that never came to pass.

I always wanted to think that Tom Riker was rescued by a Maquis team led by Ro Laren with he and Ro becoming lovers the way that was never possible between her and Will Riker.
Cail Corishev
Sat, Sep 15, 2012, 9:18am (UTC -5)
I loved watching Frakes get to play with the "Riker" character. He was so serious most of the time on TNG, and so whipped by Deanna that nothing romantic could happen unless it was an out-of-nowhere one-episode thing with an alien guest star. It was always implied that he was a ladies man, but rarely shown. It took amnesia to get him to make a play for the incredibly hot Ro.

So it was fun to see him show up here with a bit more of a strut and have Kira be smitten with him. (The same thing happened on Voyager, when Q brought him to the ship and Janeway practically wet herself. Chakotay, take notes; that's how it's done.) Too bad he only got one episode. Imagine how much better the earlier Maquis two-parter would have been with him as the other captain, or if he had been the foil in Eddington's place. (I like the Eddington character, but he's no Tom Riker.)

As for why the Cardies didn't blast in and grab the secrets: there's an uneasy alliance between the government and the Obsidian Order. The Order ostensibly works for the government, but everyone knows that's not always strictly true, but no one wants to challenge them on where the line is. The military wouldn't necessarily be confident that they could just shut down the Order's secret base; maybe it would precipitate a civil war. Individual generals might also fear (or know) that the Order has dirt on them. They may also have ambitions to use the Order in some way, which it couldn't do if exposed or destroyed.

Look at today: the majority of US Congressmen think the CIA lied about WMDs in Iraq to start a war. But did they charge into CIA offices and confiscate their files and computers to get to the bottom of it? No, because that would make it useless for future needs, and/or other things might come to light that they might prefer were kept in the dark. The whole point of an organization like the Order is its considerable independence; without that it's not very useful. (I'm not making a judgment here; just saying that's how it tends to work.)
Fri, Oct 26, 2012, 10:17am (UTC -5)
I think the kiss between Kira and Tom Riker at the end was very out of character for Kira. Especially since the guy just phasered and kidnapped her!
Tue, Jan 22, 2013, 10:57am (UTC -5)
At 9 years old, I always remembered how cool "Defiant" was for its action scenes involving Thomas Riker's sinister schemes with stealing the ship to invade Cardassian space. However, I was too young to fully understand the political tension between the Cardassian Central Command, the Obsidian Order, the Maquis and the Federation.

Now that I'm 27, I have grown to fully appreciate this episode for more than just its action scenes. It makes me very excited to continue my rewatch of the entire DS9 series, but here are some thoughts about "Defiant."

- The chemistry between Marc Alaimo (Gul Dukat) and Avery Brooks (Sisko) is always superb. The scene in the briefing room aboard DS9 where they come face-to-face, man-to-man, gave me chills. A+ writing, A+ acting.

- My jaw dropped during the interchange between Korinas and Dukat, where she questioned Dukat's competency as a military strategist. Later, we find out that the Obsidian Order has been hiding secret projects from the Cardassian military in the Orious System. It effectively builds on the strong hints of political division in Cardassia, as seen in "Second Skin" and other past episodes.

- I didn't make the connection until reading Memory-Alpha, but it was neat seeing "Kalitas" again (she was one of the Maquis featured in TNG's "Preemptive Strike"). It was a subtle, but neat element that added to the TV show crossover element.

Unlike my perspectives at 9 years old, I actually found the Thomas Riker plot to be the "weakest" element of the episode. That's a very relative use of the term, only because the aforementioned political tension is SO WELL DONE that it somewhat clouds the drama behind Thomas Riker. As Jammer mentioned, the real threat is actually the Obsidian Order (and not necessarily the Maquis and stolen Defiant). Here are a few additional thoughts:

- I was also surprised to see Thomas Riker surrender almost too easily towards the end. I appreciate his stance on finally realizing it was a no-win, suicidal scenario. However, the Maquis would prefer dying in the name of their cause rather than facing permanent imprisonment.

- Kira killing Riker would have served as a more satisfying ending, especially since he duped her. Echoing Tim's earlier comment, the kiss at the end seemed very out of character.

- It's strange to think that the DS9 writers never bothered to revisit the Thomas Riker plot. I enjoyed seeing the Cardassian judicial system in "Tribunal," and more of that with Thomas Riker flair thrown in would have been great. Jonathan Frakes even WANTED to do a follow-up episode. This was absolutely a missed opportunity, in my opinion.

- This isn't a nitpick, but it would have been neat to hear Dukat accusing Major Kira of also defecting to the Maquis (only to have Sisko defend her in the name of trust). After all, she may have "played along" with Thomas Riker about the warp core breach. Her hatred for Cardassians is no secret, and it would have been interesting to question her trust, even if momentarily.

I want to point out the importance of this episode from a TV production perspective. Having Riker aboard for an episode was a cool crossover idea that helped to further legitimize Deep Space Nine as being in the same universe as The Next Generation - a needed element to attract new fans who wanted more Trek after TNG ended. As "Generations" premiered three days prior to this episode, I'm sure the extra publicity was welcomed with open arms. I, for one, didn't really start getting super hooked into DS9 until late Season 2/early Season 3, and episodes like "Defiant" certainly helped to win me over.

All of that said, I respectfully disagree with Jammer's 3.5 out of 4 star rating. Perhaps it was the Riker/Kira ending that warranted a .5 star reduction. Nevertheless, I think this is equally as good as "Necessary Evil," "Whispers," and "Crossover" - the last 3 episodes to have received a 4 star rating.

My rating: 4 out of 4 stars
Wed, Jun 12, 2013, 2:53pm (UTC -5)
Good episode. I thought it was weird though at the end when the Cardassian cruiser Riker surrendered to did not escort the Defiant to the border. You'd think they would be a bit uneasy with letting a Federation warship mostly crewed my Maquis head back to Fed space on their own, lol.
Tue, Oct 22, 2013, 6:44pm (UTC -5)

A cool episode that develops the Cardassian storyline.

Thu, Jul 17, 2014, 9:55am (UTC -5)
I love episodes that reveal incompetency’s in Dukat. He's nothing more than a hack that's came to power via political back-stabbing. What a punk.

Loved it when this happened:

"KORINAS: Commander Sisko, you should be commended. I only wish we had someone with such keen tactical instincts who could have prevented this invasion of our territory."

Best part of the episode.

Now, a agree that the kiss at the end was not good writing for Kira, but it WAS for Tom. Kira was just overwhelmed by Tom's "Rikerness" - as most women were on TNG.

Another question I had. What is "Riker's" beef with Obrien? It's been years since I watched TNG. Jammer made no mention of it.

Also, I think it was smart to leave Eddington out of this episode. Why risk blowing his cover when his services were not needed?

I'm also tiring listening to Dukat S-L-O-W-L-Y pronounce his words and struggle to get sentences out. Makes me want to take an ice-pick to my eye at times. He also walks like he has a broom up his ass.

But overall I enjoyed this episode. Frakes was awesome.

3 stars for me.
Thu, Jul 17, 2014, 11:56am (UTC -5)
@Yanks "What is "Riker's" beef with Obrien? It's been years since I watched TNG. Jammer made no mention of it."

I think that was just Tom Riker's act in order to get O'Brien off the Defiant so he could hijack it.
William B
Thu, Jul 17, 2014, 12:02pm (UTC -5)
Further, Tom Riker never met Miles -- since "Second Chances" comes after his transfer to DS9. Pretending there was some beef with Miles was a good way to get him away from him. Like most people, Miles responded to the news that they had a feud he had hitherto been unaware of with shock, confusion, and a desire to get out of that situation to try to remember what it is he'd forgotten. Much less risky for Tom than faking a years-long friendship/acquaintanceship.
Thu, Jul 17, 2014, 12:16pm (UTC -5)
@ NCC-1701-Z & William B

Thanks, that makes sense.
Wed, Feb 11, 2015, 7:29am (UTC -5)
I liked Tom Riker a lot better than Will Riker. Loved this episode.
Tue, Sep 15, 2015, 6:33pm (UTC -5)
Only two explanations I can think of for the trite "I order you to take a day off" business on the teaser. One, that it was pinned to the idea board in the writers' room but nobody could make a whole episode, or even a b-plot, out of it. Two, to lower Kira's defenses so she doesn't seem quite the chump when hoodwinked.

However, there are no explanations for why, in the opening scene, the station's science officer and chief handyman are responsible for cargo logistics and conference scheduling. Could Moore think of no better job-related dialog to put in their mouths?
Tue, Sep 15, 2015, 9:55pm (UTC -5)
(The third explanation for a teaser plot that is dropped for the rest of the episode is, of course, that it's an excuse to let Bashir and Quark earn their weekly paycheck.)
William B
Fri, Sep 25, 2015, 2:39pm (UTC -5)
Playing catch-up from earlier in the season....

"Defiant": the title refers both to the ship and to some of our central characters. The episode, primarily split into two sets of two major characters (Kira and Riker, Sisko and Dukat), has several worldbuilding functions for the DS9 mythos while also making weird use of Frakes and the leftover story idea of a second Riker probably living out there under Will's shadow. The worldbuilding: the idea of the Defiant being taken over by a rogue agent is an effective way to demonstrate the ship's power and danger; the episode furthers the background recognition of the increasing threat of the Maquis to the Cardassians and the way their presence may reignite a Federation/Cardassian war; and the episode continues to set up the split among several factions within the Cardassians, culminating in the reveal that the Obsidian Order has ships they are not allowed to have -- which is sufficient set up for the "Improbable Cause"/"The Die is Cast" diptych later in the season. The episode furthers some of those threads while also giving Sisko and Dukat more reason to start to rely on each other, building on "The Maquis" and sort of "Civil Defense," while Kira's moments with Tom to me read as prt of her gradual self-reevaluation, moving from terrorist to officer.

Kira & Riker: To start with, I just want to pause for a second so that we all appreciate how *weird* this episode is. Kira meets up with Will Riker -- TNG's Jonathan Frakes! -- who is guest starring, and at first he hangs about, flirts with her, and generally is treated like a visiting celebrity because he's that guy from the Enterprise. I would have loved it had Sisko told Riker how thankful he is that Riker stopped the Borg! And then it turns out Riker is actually Tom Riker from TNG's "Second Chances," who has stolen the ship because he's part of the Maquis -- but while half the episode focuses on the Hunt for Red October Federation/Maquis/Central Command/Obsidian Order mess, the other half zeroes in on Tom Riker's motivations, which Kira guesses about based on only having just met him. Tom Riker wants to be a hero, we learn -- essentially, he wants to prove he can be the hero, like Will Riker gets to be some of the time. We are invested in this guy we actually barely know because we also know that he's like that other Riker we do know -- and the script, it turns out, pulls the same trick that Tom pulls! We get interested in this guy because we know and (for many of us TNG fans) like Will Riker, and so he pretends to be Will Riker out looking for sexy fun until he is not!Will Riker out to be a hero while displaying his Riker-esque tactical knowledge. And all this still goes on while the real Riker never once has appeared on this show. Tom Riker really does drive the plot, very unusual for a guest star, and it's justified that Tom can hijack the show and even kiss Kira (who has a boyfriend!) because he is a transporter duplicate of a main character on another series.

If this makes it sound like I don't like the Riker/Kira plot, I want to dispel that impression. I like Tom Riker and I like Tom's interactions with Kira, both before and after he rips off the sideburns (a delightfully silly idea that I'm glad stayed in the final cut). There is something always a little bit ridiculous about (either) Riker which is part of his smarmy charm, and I think it's that there is an underlying sense that Riker always has something to prove to someone. Now that TNG the series is finished, we also know a bit of how this rebellious attitude may have begun: Will Riker exorcised his demons from the mutiny on the Pegasus in season seven, but Tom has not had that kind of closure. The psychological scars of being abandoned for eight years to find that his life has carried on without him, to a man who has everything Tom wants, have to run pretty deep, and Tom additionally has unresolved authority issues, without having the great career and great mentor (Picard) that Will has. Will has something to prove, but it's all airy and abstract, with no particular person to compare himself to (especially after he gets over his father as stumbling-block), but Tom has Will specifically. I like the idea that his plan relies on him being able to charm the first officer of DS9/the Defiant into gaining him access, and then involves his using his tactical skills to penetrate into Cardassian space, as if proving that Will's reputation with women and tactics are Tom's as well -- though of course, Tom has to do this by imitating Will, at least at the beginning. Tom's actions sort of build up about what we know about Will's personality and motivations, as well as the recognition that he is *not* Will. That Tom claims that he's a terrorist but actually is not all that interested in making gains for the Maquis but really just wants to expose the massive Cardassian cover-up of weapons links him to Maxwell in "The Wounded" (still a major pattern-setter for all futuer Cardassian stories). That Tom is maybe going to start a war is the kind of thing that really badly harms his case, but I also think that Tom's justification is a little more thought-out in terms of the big-scale consequences than the Maquis' defense of their homes: he is risking a war, yes, but because the Cardassians are lying about their weapons stores and indeed seem to be mobilizing for a major "Improbable Cause" of an assault. At the moment, it seems plausible that those weapons could be used to make a major strike against the DMZ and the Federation; the actual cause, well, we find out in a while. And not only that, but it certainly would have been better for the Alpha Quadrant had the "Improbable Cause"/"The Die is Cast" fleet been *stopped* before that particular disaster, so one could argue that Riker was onto something, though perhaps not for the reasons he imagined. All this said, a lot of what I am writing here is speculative; we don't actually get enough of Riker's perspective to know how all this came to pass.

Anyway, the initial romantic tone to the Riker/Kira interactions sets up the connection/comparison between the two. Kira seems to get tht Riker is thinking like an officer, and not a terrorist, partly because -- as the teaser established! -- Kira is much more officer than terrorist now. Grumpy asked above what the point of the teaser was; it occurs to me that some of it may well be a reminder of how stressful Kira finds the officer job, and in some ways maybe how she still feels a little ill-suited to it, given that she went from terrorist to officer. Riker has moved in the opposite direction, and she can tell because she recognizes the signs in hersef from the difficult breaking-in period she had of switching between these distinct identities. However, Kira is not pointing out that Riker is not a terrorist becuase she wants him to be a terrorist, though it might seem like that at moments; I think that throughout she is trying to communicate to him that he is thinking like an officer (a Starfleet officer, in particular) to remind him that those are the values he really believes does Kira, now. Things have changed; however ill-fitting and stressful the job is for Kira t times these days, she identifies more with the upright, peaceful, thoughtful set of codes of behaviour that make up a first officer to the hurt-any-way-you-can violent terrorist ethos. As with the Riker material, this character work is a little subtle, and by subtle I mean I'm not sure if the story completely argues this point or just sketches it in very lightly.

Sisko & Dukat: Despite Dukat's assholeism in "Civil Defense," Sisko returns the favour (?) from "The Maquis" in telling Dukat about the situation that they are in with Riker having stolen the Defiant, before it gets out of hand. The alliance between Sisko and Dukat is developed here and it continues to have fascinating tensions. For perhaps the first time, the two take pretty much ofr granted that they are on the same side -- there is less of the unease which characterized their interactions in "The Maquis," but there is still a chilly distance between the two. Sisko's surprise that Dukat has children, and, more to the point, that Dukat *cares* for them is a nice touch, as well as Sisko's using his experience as a father to attempt to comfort Dukat. Dukat's response, that his son will always remember this day as the day some Federation citizen kept his father away on his birthday, "and that's sad," personalizes the consequence of Tom's reckless actions, but (and I think this is interesting) also to me calls to mind the abandonment that Tom himself suffered on that station waiting eight years to be rescued, and will again at the episode's end.

The recognition that Sisko and Dukat have shared enemies, that the Maquis (despite not being Federation citizens) and the Obsidian Order have both gone rogue and that Sisko and Dukat need to hunker down together to figure out how to maintain what little stability they have, is well done. Sisko's bargaining for the Maquis' release and Tom's life in exchange for the data found on the Obsidian Order is in this case a noble and caring action, Sisko using his connections and his recognition of what Dukat wants and needs to save the life of a Federation citizen, as well as allowing Riker's exposure of the massive fleet of Obsidian Order ships to go *somewhere*. The easy negotiation between Sisko and Dukat, where both are forthright about what they want and what they recognize the other would value, is again a pleasure. I do think that Sisko develops a kind of rapport with Dukat in spite of himself, because circumstances have thrown them into the position of being allies, despite the huge gulf in their value systems and that Dukat was an evil dictator and would take the opportunity to do so again.

I think that the Riker/Kira material, while entertaining and with some resonance, is too lightly sketched in for me to champion this episode too much, but I think it's an effective show. "Tough little ship," as Riker said. 3 stars.
Fri, Sep 25, 2015, 7:04pm (UTC -5)
Definitely one of the great episodes. I remember when I was watching this as a kid, how excited I was that Riker appeared (though he was never a favorite of mine on TNG) and how my jaw dropped when he "turned evil".

They should have dropped all of the teaser. Those were some precious minutes they stole and I found the ending to be a bit abrupt and kind of implausible. Riker accepts death in a Cardassian labor camp too easily, and what about the Maquis crew - they didn't put up any fight and just turned themselves in. Why?

I also disliked everything about Kira in this episode. Starting with that teaser, to her being schemingly, predictably swooned by Riker although she's supposedly in a monogamous relationship with Bareill, to her being taken on the trip. Riker doesn't seem to be a bad guy, he's going on a suicide mission, yet he doesn't have the decency to beam Kira off the Defiant before they go to warp?
Sure, she's a stand-in for the audience to figure out Riker's plan, but I could think of one or two way to do that without her. And without her asinine speech. If the Bajoran's really had no strategic approach to their resistance and just attacked the first target in sight, that would explain why the occupation was so smooth for the Cardassians.

I really liked the plot around Riker seeking his place in this world. It could - should! - have been explored more. And I definitely agree that there should have been (at least) one follow-up to this. Gladly more. Frakes is a trekkie, I can't imagine he wouldn't have been up for a few episodes.

My favorite moment of the episode was Riker vs O'Brien. I remember being totally thrown off by it. "What the hell was he talking about". I was sure I'd seen every TNG episode more than once and I couldn't remember any beef between the two.
Genius move, really. And so convincingly played by O'Brien, who reflected my level of bewilderment perfectly.

Another thing I *didn't* like was Sisko's line "I was in charge of the shipyard that built the defiant, I helped design her."
Sure, Benjamin, sure.
Between Dax, Bashir, O'Brien and Sisko we seem to have four of the greatest minds of the Federation. Why did they all end up at godforsaken DS9?!? When they were assigned, the wormhole hadn't been discovered and the first episode gives off a vibe that assignment to DS9 may be considered punishment.
Fri, Sep 25, 2015, 10:38pm (UTC -5)
rennstag: "what about the Maquis crew - they didn't put up any fight and just turned themselves in."

They were deep in Cardassian territory and had no way to escape at that point. They decided to take imprisonment over some suicide run.

"Another thing I *didn't* like was Sisko's line 'I was in charge of the shipyard that built the defiant, I helped design her.' "

Back in the pilot it was established Siso was at the shipyards on Mars immediately before he came to DS9.

"Between Dax, Bashir, O'Brien and Sisko we seem to have four of the greatest minds of the Federation. Why did they all end up at godforsaken DS9?!?"

Well, it's a conceit of Star Trek (and most scifi, really) that the crew in the show is always the best at everything. But, specifically, Bashir chose DS9, and Sisko's career advancement had slowed after his wife's death.
Diamond Dave
Tue, Nov 24, 2015, 7:31am (UTC -5)
DS9 does The Hunt For Red October. And does it well too.

The Tom Riker twist is a good one and gives Frakes the opportunity to have some fun with the Riker character. But in the end he's just too honourable to be a good terrorist, as Kira memorably points out.

We also get to see the fascinating depth of Cardassian intrigue as the Obsidian Order and Central Command duke it out. The Dukat and Sisko scenes are a highlight, particularly as Dukat comes to realise they might have common cause. 3.5 stars.
Mon, Feb 15, 2016, 8:29am (UTC -5)
I had a hard time buying that the Defiants sensor logs were valuable given that the Cardassian military has ships with sensors too, in the same system, for the same amount of time as the Defiant.
Mon, Feb 15, 2016, 9:06am (UTC -5)

I think the idea was that one branch of the government was keeping secrets from the other, and the only safe way for Dukat to get in on the secret was to have the sensor data before the more powerful Obsidian Order confiscated it.

I mean thanks to Google Maps you can see just about anywhere in the U.S., but those maps don't necessarily reveal with accuracy what's located on federal military lands.
Mon, Mar 14, 2016, 12:02am (UTC -5)
There's a lot I really like about "Defiant" and one thing that kind of rubs me the wrong way.

First, the thing that kind of grates on my nerves is how everyone treats "Will" Riker at the beginning of the episode. Why are these people acting like he's some kind of super-star? Okay, being the First Officer of the flagship would give him a certain amount of prestige, but why does Sisko invite him into his office and act like they're buddies all of the sudden? Why do Kira and Dax act all star-struck by him? It feels like TNG worship on the part of the writers.

But that's a minor nitpick. The good of "Defiant" easily outweighs the bad. There is some more world-building with the opposition between the Obsidian Order and the Central Command. The character dynamics between Sisko and Dukat are wonderful. The scene dealing with Dukat's son's birthday is a stand-out - Sisko tries to open an avenue of understanding like Starfleet has trained him to do but Dukat doesn't care about that at all because he secretly hates Sisko's guts and only wants his respect. Bringing back Tom Riker and making him a member of the Maquis was a brilliant move. And having him be in the same Maquis cell as Ro was an nice little Easter egg. It's a shame they never followed up on Kira's promise to get him out of that Cardassian labor camp. And the foreshadowing for the upcoming "Improbable Cause"/"The Die is Cast" was a nice bit of plot arc work.

The biggest draw, however, is that we finally get to see the Defiant being the badass ship that it's supposed to be. For all the talk about how awesome it is we haven't actually seen that much proof yet. In "The Search, Part I" the Jem'Hadar beat the hell out of it. In "Equilibrium" is was reduced to little more than an interstellar taxi. In "Second Skin" is was just to sneak into Cardassian territory instead of fighting its way in. In "Meridian".... well, in "Meridian" is was encased in the shitstorm that was "Meridian". Here we finally get to see it kicking some ass. At one point, Riker is facing three top-of-the-line Cardassian warships is just like "meh, no worries, I can take them." That's more like it!

Mon, Mar 14, 2016, 11:18am (UTC -5)
"First, the thing that kind of grates on my nerves is how everyone treats "Will" Riker at the beginning of the episode. Why are these people acting like he's some kind of super-star?"

In-universe? Well he had visited DS9 before and he can be likable when he wants to be (see Risa). I suppose we're supposed to buy that Will made quite an impression on the DS9 crew.

I agree he's a little too cozy there, but I think it's a matter of the actors paying their respects to the actor for playing ST characters like them with great success (Frakes was at the height of his ST directing career at this point).
William B
Mon, Mar 14, 2016, 12:39pm (UTC -5)
I think Riker actually can be very charming, *both* in a smarmy type of way and in a genuine, "I really care what you have to say" type of way, and in a way that somehow glides between them seamlessly. Also Riker saved the Federation from the Borg, which has got to earn the Federation officers' respect. And, I dunno. I can see Kira being swept away by him when the alternative is her actual boyfriend, *BAREIL*. I kid, mostly (certainly, Kira would rather *actually date* someone with whom she has more in common, like her faith), but I can see why Riker is refreshing to her.

Within the episode, I think it's cool that they establish that Will Riker is something of a minor celebrity in order to set up for the Tom reveal and also for Kira to identify competition with his double as one of the motivators for Tom's actions. I'm mixed on how well this comes across as a major element of the story, but it's good set-up and pretty poignant that Tom gets as far as he does only by pretending to be his double who is virtually identical to him but had the luck to *not* be stuck on an isolated outpost for eight years. (Of course, we could list all the times Will Riker was mentally or physically tortured or violated on TNG and say that Tom is not necessarily actually the unluckiest of the two, though on the balance Will gets to have friends and purpose.)
Fri, May 13, 2016, 10:12pm (UTC -5)
As a military officer, I'm pretty bothered by the lack of rank consciousness in certain episodes of Trek, a lot of them in DS9. Bashir is the usual culprit. The doctor insists that Chief O'Brien call him by his first name. That's super weird. O'Brien is an E-7 or E-8 (enlisted levels are E-1 through E-9 in the U.S. military) while Bashir is an O-2 (O-1 through O-10 takes us through Starfleet ensign to full admiral ranks). O'Brien is right to resist that sort of fraternization. What I *do* like about this is the similarity to our military: doctors and other uniformed medical personnel often consider themselves not entirely military (which is false) since they are not trained as much in soldiering as they are in healing, and feel separate from the rest of the soldiers/airmen/marines/sailors; they will occassionally engage in this kind of familiarity.

I myself recently came very close to a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (that gravely punishes fraternization between officers and enlisted of a romantic nature) when a private first class (E-3) working at a military hospital knowingly went on a date with me when she *knew* I was a commissioned officer! I had no idea where she worked or that she was even in the military, much less enlisted, until I realized something was up and I insisted she tell me, and then promptly and politely ended our conversation once I understood the truth. (In cases of violations, the officers are held roughly 95-100% responsible since we hold the power to command an enlisted soldier by oath and by law, thus the need to avoid unprofessional relationships, so I was at far more risk to my carreer than she, hence her dodginess.)

A military doctor will certainly commission as more than an O-1 (Starfleet rank of ensign), so it's a nice touch that Julian arrives at DS9 straight from the Academy or Starfleet Medical or whatever tandem commissioning/training program it was wearing the rank of lieutenant junior grade (O-2) — in fact, most U.S. military doctors commission straight into the grade of O-3 (and I'm actually surprised that Julian isn't a full lieutenant already after two years, but ah well).

So in "Defiant" when Bashir shouts at Kira to get some rest he comes off as a total jerk to his superior officer. He is an O-2, and she is an O-4. Although the chief medical officer can evidently outrank everyone in matters of medical exigency, he still seems way too familiar with her (and was even worse when he brazenly hit on her in that one episode in the runabout). That she is from a foreign military is irrelevant since she is an allied partner, and also the second in command of the station. Another reason this bothers me, perhaps in a good way, is that naval officers consider O-1 to O-4 to be junior officers, and O-5 and O-6 senior officers. Notice how all the officers on Trek who are lieutenant commander and below are called "Mister Data/Spock," etc., which is the exact same U.S. naval tradition. While the Army used to have the same division in WWII, today we divide O-1 to O-3 as company grade officers (who can intermingle and fraternize, as long as it does not compromise the chain of command) and O-4 to O-6 as field grade officers. Kira, a major (O-4), is of that upper echelon, so she rightly takes a lot of offense to Doctor Bashir's command. He still seems out of line to me though.

There is of course zero reason that Starfleet need conform to contemporary U.S. military standards. But when they do, it makes it way more relatable for those who know something about being a soldier. This is why Battlestar Galactica was so pleasing for us military folk to watch; never before has sci-fi gotten those details to right!

Oh look! Riker is here. That's good, because he was the serial offender of these ideas on the Enterprise! Actually it's appropriate for him (an O-5) to fraternize with Kira (an O-4). But on the Enterprise, he was routinely sleeping with other officers on the ship?! That's way out of line (merely by contemporary U.S. military standards, I acknowledge). Aboard the Enterprise, Riker is at the top of the chain of command with Captain Picard, and both would risk the potential for favoritism or reprisals whether there were regulations guiding their actions or not, and this harms good order and discipline (La Forge and Data were for example not so constrained as long as their girlfriends did not work under them). I admire Picard's restraint, since although Starfleet apparently doesn't care that this actually is a big deal for the chain of command, he recognises even in "Liaisons" that he is taking a big risk.

I like the old/new uniform contrast with Riker beside Sisko. Apparently starship personnel are resolutely against the new uniform, which I think is funny since that's a lot like real life in the military. The Army just had another uniform change (UCP vs. OCP camouflage patterns), and both are permitted until the wear-out date of 2019. Some commanders (which is a title in the Army equivalent to "commanding officer," not a rank like in the Navy/Starfleet) prefer the older style (and his soldiers conform to him for the appearance of unity) which we have seen for two years on the Enterprise D and the Odyssey in "The Jem'Hadar," while other commanders are quick to adapt the new uniform and encourage everyone to adopt it, like Sisko and Janeway. And then there is the mixing, which is exactly what I see every day at work, beautifully pictured in Star Trek: Generations, where Picard goes from the old style to the new, symbolic of the changing of the guard from TNG to DS9 and VOY (also symbolized in the destruction of the Enterprise D).
Fri, May 13, 2016, 11:13pm (UTC -5)

"First, the thing that kind of grates on my nerves is how everyone treats "Will" Riker at the beginning of the episode. Why are these people acting like he's some kind of super-star? Okay, being the First Officer of the flagship would give him a certain amount of prestige, but why does Sisko invite him into his office and act like they're buddies all of the sudden? Why do Kira and Dax act all star-struck by him? It feels like TNG worship on the part of the writers."

The commanding officer of DS9 is an O-5 (rank of commander), as is Riker, so Sisko inviting him to Ops makes perfect sense. I literally see this sort of thing every day at the command post where I work. High ranking officers of the same rank who have never met in person will meet each other cordially, and rapidly treat each other as friends because of their similar experiences due to sharing the same rank. So that's a really nice touch.

Dax knows Riker from the last time he was there in Quark's. And Kira's attraction to him right away makes perfect sense: she's an O-4 and the only man around who is the same or higher than that is Sisko (except for Bashir when he feels like pulling rank on her, hah). As women tend to be attracted to status, O-5 Riker is instantly an interesting option. (U.S. military women tend to hate dating men who are lower ranking.) I think it's an awesome detail, Luke.

Holy cow, Star Trek actors are super tall! Dax is 6 foot and so is Bashir, Sisko more, Riker is way up there; I always thought Picard was kind of short, but only because his fellow cast members are so tall! He's actually 5'11. Go figure.
Paul Allen
Tue, Aug 2, 2016, 5:01pm (UTC -5)
Flawless episode, brilliant script. :)
Sun, Jan 8, 2017, 2:41am (UTC -5)
Sisko: "I'd like you to arrange a sentence other than death."
Dukat: [sighs wearily] "I'll have to clear that with the Ministry of Justice."

For some reason, I always find that to be a funny line.

It's kind of interesting to view this from a 2017 perspective when serialization and hidden long-term plot threads are the norm rather than the exception, regarding the Orias system mystery. In this ep, they had to throw it right in front of the viewers saying "BIG MYSTERY HERE, WE'LL COME BACK TO THIS LATER!!!" whereas now I feel we expect it so much this sort of thing wouldn't be nearly as in-your-face as it was in this ep.

Although DS9 was ahead of its time when it came to story arcs - when the Orias fleet was explained in "Improbable Cause", no one made a remark for the viewers' benefit along the lines of "Ohhh, that's what those ships were doing in the Orias system the day Tom Riker stole the Defiant! [wink, nudge]" - the viewer was left to connect the dots for themselves, and it was structured as more of a nice-to-have reward for those on the train since the beginning, rather than something where you absolutely had to have watched "Defiant" before "Improbable Cause" or you'd be completely lost. They still had to accommodate irregular viewers to a large degree.

Try jumping into "Breaking Bad" for the first time at the "Ozymandias" episode today. Yeah.
Tue, Mar 21, 2017, 2:53pm (UTC -5)
This is a damn good episode. It was fun, intriguing, excellently acted. This is a Five star episode. The best mashing of TNG and DS9 to date. I liked the Kiss at the end the writers remind us again that Riker will act like Riker.
Thu, Jun 8, 2017, 4:23pm (UTC -5)
Great episode - love the tactics/strategies between the Defiant/Cardassian ships/Obsidian ships. Definitely a fun hour of Trek.
Enjoyed the Sisko/Dukat working together and hammering out a solution and Korinas added another dimension of intrigue / danger to the battle scenes.
A more aggressive Riker is nice to see - one operating without the umbrella of Picard - brings an added bonus to the show. When we know a solid character in Trek and he's introduced in another show, it's usually a good idea and works well.
The show also works well into DS9's political themes.
Ultimately Tom Riker's plan fails miserably as the Obsidian Order ships help overwhelm him - and he's forced to accept life imprisonment. I do wonder what the Defiant logs contain - how much scanning they could have accomplished - but willing to assume this is very valuable to Dukat.
Thought the kiss between Tom Riker/Kira was strange - didn't feel right in the episode. We know Kira hat the hots for Riker but it wasn't clear that he sort of felt anything for Kira.
For me, "Defiant" just barely makes it to 3.5 stars out of 4. Lots of strong character performances and some good battle scenes.
Daniel B
Sat, Jul 8, 2017, 2:43am (UTC -5)
The Federation really effed this version of William Riker over and neither Second Chances nor Defiant does nearly enough to acknowledge it.
Fri, Sep 1, 2017, 7:19pm (UTC -5)
It was really neat of the writers to bring Tom back. After Second Chances surprised me by having no reset switch, the writers surprised me again by bringing him back in DS9 to further his story. It was a very good choice. The downside is how they ended him here, I guess. I would much more have preferred they used him for something with a longer arc and with a fitting end. I didn't like that they just captured him and... handed him over - to be tortured and executed.

It's a decent episode.

Fri, Sep 1, 2017, 7:42pm (UTC -5)
My apologies... no death sentence for Tom. But it would be worse. He's not going to a holiday camp. Somehow the writers completely ignored that.
Sun, Sep 10, 2017, 10:58am (UTC -5)
The overstated familiarity between Sisko and Riker int he opening scenes seemed forced...and it showed because it was unearned. Their conversation was very awkward with nervous, courtesy laughter on Sisko's part to Riker's chatter. And the standing invitation to dinner with him and Jake...why?
Sun, Sep 10, 2017, 11:06am (UTC -5)
Unlike Will, who had settled in on the Enterprise, Tom seemed very eager to resume the fast track on his career. It's hard to believe he'd abandon it for the Maquis just a year later. Some background on why would have been nice. We see that Tom's partner in swiping the defiant is teh same woman that was skeptical with Ro in Preemptive Strike, where Ro really had to prove herself by raiding the Enterprise-D for supplies (which the Ent-D permitted). Tom would have to be a Maquis "in good standing", and without covert help from Starfleet, reducing the timeframe even more. Maybe Ro took over that cell after Maquees died.
Sun, Sep 10, 2017, 11:22am (UTC -5)
"The overstated familiarity between Sisko and Riker int he opening scenes seemed forced...and it showed because it was unearned. Their conversation was very awkward with nervous, courtesy laughter on Sisko's part to Riker's chatter. And the standing invitation to dinner with him and Jake...why?"

They only seemed forced if you viewed this episode without knowing Riker or TNG. That fact is, this episode was written partially to cater to TNG fans, and DS9 - with continuity nods abound - generally isn't intended to be viewed in isolation.
Tue, Apr 10, 2018, 2:03pm (UTC -5)
Riker's interaction with O'Brien was very smartly written. Miles was the biggest threat of realizing Tom wasn't Will Riker and this little bit of dialog pretty much neutralized Miles. "I have nothing to say to you, O'Brien. I think you know why."

A lesser writer would have had Tom sedate Miles and hide him in a locker somewhere, or something like that.
Dan Bolger
Tue, May 29, 2018, 4:19pm (UTC -5)
Absolutely superb episode. That's all.
Sun, Jun 10, 2018, 3:34pm (UTC -5)
I liked this very much, especially the politics. I really like Dukat's style, unlike some others, and think he adds to any episode he's in.

The one thing that kept bothering me--in "Second Chances," I could always tell Will from Thomas, but not in this one. He kept seeming like Will to me. I would have liked a bit more to establish that he actually was Thomas.

But overall a terrific outing!

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