Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Starship Down"

3 stars

Air date: 11/13/1995
Written by David Mack & John J. Ordover
Directed by Alexander Singer

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"The Captain has gotten us out of tougher spots than this. Last year, when the Romulans tried to invade the Founders' homeworld, we went up against a dozen Jem'Hadar ships."
"I know, Chief. You've told me this story."
"Well, unless you want to hear it again, you'd better get down to the torpedo bay and start working on those probes."

— O'Brien and Engineer Stevens

Nutshell: The story is a collision of about four disaster movies, but the flawless plot assembly and impressive technical credits will make you forget the shortcomings.

Sisko and crew take the Defiant through the wormhole to meet the Karemma, the financial experts of the Gamma Quadrant. The Dominion disapproves of the meeting between their cash runners and the Federation, and sends the Jem'Hadar to "punish" the Karemma for their disobedience. In an attempt to protect the Karemma, the Defiant ends up in a battle with the Jem'Hadar inside the violent atmosphere of a nearby planet.

From a storytelling standpoint, this is probably the weakest episode so far this season (except for "Little Green Men," but that was a comedy). Fortunately the episode transcends its basic storytelling with some good suspense scenes and lustrous showmanship.

On a technical level, "Starship Down" is an outstanding episode. The several battle scenes inside the windy, cloudy atmosphere boast some absolutely superb special effects with feature film quality. And if you like to see sets explode, you're in for a treat, because just about every Defiant location becomes the victim of pyrotechnic rigging.

The plot is a collection of elements that were seemingly inspired by a disaster movie, if not four disaster movies. With the ship severely damaged, key members of the crew become isolated from each other, and the episode becomes a number of sub-stories, including (A) Worf taking control of the ship from engineering so he can elude the Jem'Hadar; (B) Kira trying to keep an injured Sisko from falling unconscious and dying by telling him a story; (C) Quark and the Karemma trader Hanok (James Cromwell) discussing the ethics of trade while disarming a torpedo which has punched through the hull; and (D) Bashir and Dax locked in an isolated corridor of the ship with no life support. It sounds ridiculous, but by some extraordinary feat of plot engineering, these sub-stories all come together and work as well as they possibly could have.

This type of crosscutting and scene changing makes writing an economical synopses fairly nightmarish. I guess the best way to do this would be to look at each sub-story individually. Bear with me here...

(A) Worf taking control of engineering shows how much he has to learn about command. In a crunch, Worf wants results within seconds after he barks an order. He isn't wrong-headed—he just doesn't understand that under the circumstances his crew is only capable of so much; and he is not very tolerant when his demands can't immediately be met to the letter. This leads Chief O'Brien, speaking from experience, to tell Worf that engineers need to be given problems to solve, not concrete orders to obey. I like the fact that Worf makes mistakes—that he isn't the perfect commanding officer. It makes his situations more realistic and the character more interesting. Worf, being reasonable of course, heeds O'Brien's lesson. As a result, the ending—in which Worf hands the engineers a problem to solve, allowing the Defiant to cleverly trick and destroy the Jem'Hadar ship—displays cool-headed style and finesse.

(B) As Kira tries to keep Sisko from slipping into a coma, we again see Kira torn between seeing her superior officer as just a co-worker she respects or a religious icon for her people. This is an element of the series that is always welcome, and it's nice to see that the show remembers and cares about its history and wants us to as well. Unfortunately, things get a little bit repetitive, and this idea was already done in the far-superior "Destiny" last season. The only new element here is Kira telling Sisko that she regrets they have never spent any real off-duty time together as close friends. Unfortunately—and this is the biggest missed opportunity of the episode—the show's closing scene on the station between Sisko and Kira is far too cheery and hokey to really be poignant; it consequently undermines most of what this tries to accomplish.

There's also the question of the chain of command aboard the Defiant. It seems Worf takes command of the ship before Kira. I don't quite understand why this is since the episode doesn't take time to explain it, but at least it gives Worf something to do in addition to being the genesis for the Sisko/Kira scenes.

(C) Hanok, meanwhile, is angry at Quark for cheating him in the Karemma/Federation negotiations. To ease tensions, Quark chummily introduces Hanok to the excitements of gambling and financial risk and gain. This plotline is played mostly for laughs, and works surprisingly well. Even more surprising is how much suspense director Alexander Singer is able to milk out of the scene where they must disarm the torpedo, yet how hilarious Quark's solution to the problem proves to be. Not bad at all.

(D) Dax and Bashir trapped alone is just an excuse for gratuitous cuteness. This bit falls flat. Anyone who watches the series regularly knows the "just good friends" relationship these two have. The subplot isn't necessary beyond the need for filler to give the two characters a purpose in the latter acts of the show. However, the way the two get into the situation in the first place is nice. I like Dax's heroics of trying to repair damage when she's aware her section of the ship is about to be sealed off. Also, Bashir's actions to come to her rescue gives him a chance to show initiative.

All in all, "Starship Down" manages to work somehow. It's the best case scenario of the sum of its parts. It doesn't mean a whole lot (in particular, exchanging fire with the Jem'Hadar will apparently have no direct political consequences). Yet the episode is a decent adventure outing that looks great. Good execution and, although not all the characterization is on target, everything holds together.

Previous episode: Little Green Men
Next episode: The Sword of Kahless

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66 comments on this review

AeC
Sat, May 17, 2008, 8:22pm (UTC -5)
Not much to add except Cromwell's delivery of the line, "Perhaps I should give them a refund," is nothing short of masterful, one of the biggest laugh lines in the entire series.
Dimitris Kiminas
Tue, May 5, 2009, 1:38am (UTC -5)
Regarding the chain of command aboard the Defiant, I suppose since it is a Federation vessel, the next Starship officer should take command and Kira is not a Starfleet officer.
Jake Taylor
Mon, Dec 27, 2010, 1:26am (UTC -5)
Yes I thought it was nice to see Worf have a flaw and accept advice. Overall this story is nice, Kira amd Sisko what do we talk about work. Is very nice also.
Jay
Sun, Feb 6, 2011, 11:34am (UTC -5)
This was another disaster episode, like Civil Defense the season before. I thought the latter was better in almost every way.
Nic
Thu, Mar 31, 2011, 10:46am (UTC -5)
This is completely irrelevant, but didn't "Starship Down" air before "Little Green Men"? Every other source I've checked seems to indicate that this is the case.
Josh
Sun, Apr 3, 2011, 1:17pm (UTC -5)
Kira is the first officer of DS9. Worf commands the Defiant. That Chain is established in later episodes.
F.
Thu, May 3, 2012, 7:07pm (UTC -5)
Nothing we haven't seen before but I loved Worf in this. Pretty mediocre otherwise.
MadBaggins
Sat, Jun 16, 2012, 7:46am (UTC -5)
How can this get a higher rating than the TNG episode it ripped off: Disaster?
mike
Sat, Jun 23, 2012, 10:03am (UTC -5)
a rip off from tng disaster and pretty mediocre
John
Tue, Aug 7, 2012, 9:21am (UTC -5)
I'd probably go 2-2.5 for this one.

Too cheesy, predictable and inconsequential. A bit of corny fun is all.
Cail Corishev
Mon, Sep 17, 2012, 4:29pm (UTC -5)
My only jarring thought was: won't the Dominion just be that much more cheesed off after this, and go break Hanok's planet into tiny pieces? If he thought they might kill his whole crew just for negotiating with the Federation, what's the punishment for standing by while two Dominion ships get toasted? Seems like this would be the start of Hanok's problems, not the end.
PeteTongLaw
Mon, Nov 19, 2012, 4:49pm (UTC -5)
It's hard to get over the lack of explosive decompression in the corridor when the forcefield gives way. Everyone should have been sucked into space.
Matt
Fri, Feb 1, 2013, 6:50pm (UTC -5)
Regarding the previous poster's comment, there was no decompression into space because the ship was in an atmosphere (positive pressure on ship exterior).

The major "physical" problem shouldn't be people getting sucked out into space, but rather the instant compression of atmosphere (and people!) resulting from the sudden equilibration with the increased hydrostatic forces when the ship breeches. Movies and shows rarely get this right (see the airspace inside the sinking ship of "A Perfect Storm" for example). The writers are apparently far removed from their high school chemistry and physics courses (or have never tried scuba diving).
Michael
Thu, Aug 8, 2013, 10:18pm (UTC -5)
RE: Matt

Yeah, that bothered me too, especially since they explicitly mention how terrifyingly high the pressure is outside the ship. The instant the force field failed the atmosphere should have rushed in and crushed everyone who wasn't completely sealed behind a bulkhead into goo. I think the reason that it played out that way was because they wanted to trap Julian and Dax together and they couldn't figure out know how else to do it. Just a guess though.
eastwest101
Sat, Sep 7, 2013, 11:02pm (UTC -5)
Should not have worked as well as it actually did when viewed, the A, C & D stories all worked OK but the B story fell back into over acted maudalin dross/filler.
Kotas
Wed, Oct 23, 2013, 12:51pm (UTC -5)
It kept me entertained.

6/10
Jan
Sat, Jan 25, 2014, 8:49pm (UTC -5)
Defiant the submarine... with its own echo-locator and torpedoes... it worked well as it is an unusual inspiration.

The lack of casualties from the gas pressure seemed bit odd.
Dusty
Wed, Feb 12, 2014, 9:25pm (UTC -5)
I enjoyed every second of this one. While I can't say it's any greater than the sum of its four parts, I did find all of those parts interesting. Sisko's injury made the danger seem much more real in this episode. A good old-fashioned adventure drama. I wondered if Hanok was played by Rene Auberjonois because he looked and sounded a bit like Odo, but it was James Cromwell in another good performance.
Vylora
Sun, Feb 23, 2014, 3:43am (UTC -5)
Very enjoyable episode overall with only a couple minor flaws in my opinion. One of them is the commented on scene where Bashir and Dax get trapped. With the amount of atmospheric pressure on the ship, it would make sense for anyone alive in that corridor to be nearly instantaneously crushed when the force field failed. The other one is that the scenes with Kira and the wounded Sisko didn't resonate with me as well as I think they could have. I really can't put my finger on it. I did not dislike these moments, though, and the final interaction on the station, while on the verge of cloying, did make me grin.

I also do not see this as a "rip off" of TNG's "Disaster". In that ep the Enterprise ran into an undetected quantum filament. In this one the Defiant is damaged trying to rescue another ship. Guess what happens when a ship is heavily damaged? Sometimes people get separated. Telling that story relies on execution and character interaction rather than being an original premise. In this case the execution and interactions were done well on top of being a neat take on submarine action in space.

Another good bottle episode despite its lack of potential ramifications. In the scheme of things, though, I don't think it would've (or should've) affected much to begin with.

3 stars.
Quarky
Fri, Jun 27, 2014, 3:46am (UTC -5)
I can't stand the wormhole aliens being worshipped as Gods and I don't care for the emissary storyline at all but I did like the last scene with Kira and Sisko where Sisko invited her to hang out and watch a baseball game. She sees him as a religious figure so it must mean a lot to get close to him and I think Sisko was disturbed to hear she feel uncomfortable around him. So I dislike the whole emissary prophet nonsense but since it's there I did like the Kira Sisko moments. I kinda wish there would have been a moment in the series finale where Sisko said goodbye to Kira
Yanks
Tue, Aug 5, 2014, 6:45pm (UTC -5)
I'll agree with 3 stars on this one.

Loved Kira here again. So real.

I also got a kick out of Quark and Hanok.

Their "substandard merchandise" exchange in the presence of the torpedo was classic.
Domi
Fri, Oct 3, 2014, 10:00am (UTC -5)
Something wasn't quite right in this episode. The whole thing just seemed a bit off. The characters seemed so nonchalant about the fact the ship was about to be destroyed. The actors seemed bored. The pacing was very slow. The direction, lighting, and music seemed very phoned-in and bland. The ”character growth" subtext (e.g., Worf) was very ham-fisted. Not every episode needs to be about characters finding themselves.
NCC-1701-Z
Mon, May 11, 2015, 5:14pm (UTC -5)
This is definitely somewhere in my top 10 DS9 episode list. Much like TOS's "Obsession", I consider this to be one of DS9's unsung gems, and both episodes are essentially stripped down to a straightforward action scenario and are incredibly entertaining for it. The ep definitely owes its basic premise to TNG's "Disaster", which I also enjoyed.

The character development in this episode ranged from decent to pretty good, which was also a major plus. I don't mind the lack of long-term consequences stemming from two Dominion ships shooting at a Starfleet ship, just because all the other elements of the story worked so well. Loved the submarine battle feel (slightly reminiscent of TOS "Balance of Terror"), as well as the exchange between Quark and the Karemma minister when the torpedo slammed into the mess hall. Classic.
Dukat
Thu, Jun 11, 2015, 1:33pm (UTC -5)
Who is in charge of the space station while the main characters are playing Next Generation on the Defiant?
Steve
Wed, Jul 22, 2015, 5:16pm (UTC -5)
The original idea was for the Defiant to sink in an ocean. But they didn't have the budget to flood the corridors with water. So they made it a gas giant instead.
Roger
Fri, Oct 2, 2015, 2:45am (UTC -5)
Too contrived. Crew breaks up neatly into pairs. And because four of them are created, there's not nearly enough time to really do something with them. We end up with ham-fisted dialogs.

Quark-Karemma is painful, Quark ripped off the Karemma and now paints it as some sort of big game and the Karemma just accepts it and basically goes 180 on his personality. Shouldn't it be Quark, the regular cast member, who get some character development out of situations like this? Maybe something along the lines of "if the Ferengi are just comically greedy all the time, nobody will do business with them and I use personal credibility and situations become more tense than they ought to be".

Kira-Sisko is painfully dull and not credible, as Kira hasn't really seemed too spiritual before and I never got the vibe that Sisko is the Emissary to her. They've tried to paint her more religious in recent episodes, so maybe this is akin to Siskos dad cheating death retroactively.

Bashir-Dax really just boils down to Julian telling her his crush story, which wasn't a secret to either Jadzia or the audience. Waste of time.

Worf-engineers is way too transparently set up as a learning-a-lesson bit. And I think I remember Worf having those "don't be a bone-headed judgemental hard-ass all the time" lessons before. With Alexander on the Enterprise, with Odo just a couple of episodes ago and I'm sure there were a couple more somewhere.

And then there's the whole contrived setup. How is the Karemma dealing with the Federation through the Ferengi any kind of cover? I'm fairly sure the Dominion forbade all Alpha Quadrant activity on their side of the wormhole. Not that they do anything proactively about it, such as, um, guarding the wormhole...

Then, as usual, a Federation vessel lets the enemy take the first shot. You can say it's in character, but it's plain stupid. There's a zero percent chance that the Jem Hadar are going to negotiate, but sure, let's hail them first.

And yeah, in every encounter before this, the Defiant has just ripped through Jem Hadar vessels like nothing - literally nothing, as no other Alpha Quadrant vessel has this kind of firepower. But here, they don't seem to get off one shot. The Jem Hadar go after the Karemma unimpeded. And while they were able to just annihilate state-of-the-art Cardassian and Romulan warships with single shots, the Karemma FREIGHTER takes a beating like Rocky. Just so they can decent into the hostile atmosphere of the planet and set up this episode.

1.5/4 for me.
Robert
Fri, Oct 2, 2015, 6:27am (UTC -5)
@Roger - Kira has always been religious. She agreed with Vedek Winn against Keiko in S1. She disagreed with Bariel's sermons. Kira is a very compartmentalized character, which they touch on in "Battle Lines" where you find that she was starting to fail to keep her past and her religion separate because she'd become afraid that the prophets wouldn't forgive her violence.

She was pretty religious in S1/2 though, it was there to see. And Sisko/Kira never seemed that close. So if the writers decided to provide a reason (that she was compartmentalizing her work from her life) and to change it I think that's ok. The ending he invites her to a baseball game never fails to elicit a smile from me.

The rest are weaker (IMHO). I get what they are trying to do with Worf (OUR Worf it's in command and he's a fish out of water in command) but I can't believe that watching Riker/Picard for 8 years would leave him to be THIS dense. The story needed more subtlety.

I think Dax/Bashir was a last hurrah for the pairing before Worf. It was cute as a D plot. It wouldn't have been better than that.

I thought Quark getting his business associate hooked on gambling was funny, but I'm not sure I'd miss it if it were replaced with something else.
William B
Mon, Oct 26, 2015, 2:18pm (UTC -5)
I feel about this about how it seems Jammer feels about "Disaster" and "Civil Defense," neither of which I'm a huge fan of, but both of which I do kind of end up liking more than this one. I guess this episode is a little more "serious"; "Disaster" wasn't afraid to get goofy (Worf's delivery, Data's head, frere Jacques), and "Civil Defense's" best scenes played up the comedy in the tense situation before it became a boring procedural. This episode features a particularly plausible threat, stripped to its simplest form (there are Jem'Hadar enemy ships) and runs with it, or, should I say, gingerly strolls with it.

Even on those terms, I do have some plot issues here, foremost among them that the whole story takes place because the Dominion interrupts the Defiant's meeting with the Karemma and Sisko decides to protect the Karemma...and then at the end, the Karemma are just going to be taken back to the GQ after some fun dabo times, the end. First, if the Karemma are going to use the Ferengi as a neutral intermediary because they are afraid of the Dominion, shouldn't Sisko go talk to the Karemma on a neutral ship (Ferengi, some other freighter) rather than on the Federation's most heavily-armed warship to continue this illusion? More importantly, if the Dominion is going to destroy Karemma ships for talking with the Federation, are they not going to still destroy Karemma for talking to the Federation a few days later? Is the Dominion suddenly requiring a lot of due process -- "we need proof they are talking to each other! we can only punish our serfs when we actually catch them!" does not sound like their style. Maybe we're meant to understand that the Jem'Hadar ships did not communicate with the Dominion at large, but that does not make any sense to me. And someone needs to bring the Karemma back, so, uh...I guess that a neutral ship can do that. This all even assumes the basic premise that the Dominion really would consider any Alpha Quadrant species "neutral" at all, which I tend to doubt.

As a submarine warfare story, the episode is sort of okay, but I have to point out that it is a little hard to take it seriously when the episode's climax comes about when Worf says something like "I have a plan...we will need one phaser burst...my plan only requires one single burst," and the plan turns out to be...shooting a ship with a phaser continuously until it explodes. I can see why Worf is on the fast-track to command now.

Anyway this is somewhat an excuse for the two-person character vignettes, so, here we go:

Bashir & Dax: Sorry, how much fluorine is Dax supposed to have inhaled again? How did either survive the complete depressurization? Oh well, whatever. Their talk is...fine, and it mostly makes explicit what we have mostly been able to observe ourselves: that Julian has eased up on his crush on Jadzia, and that as a result she is more comfortable with him. I do wish she had said "two" or "three" years ago she would have taken his actions as being an attempt to be a hero, because I'm not all that convinced that Dax was writing off Bashir's actions in "Equilibrium" as posing for ego reasons. It is not that much of a scene though.

Worf & O'Brien: I think the idea here is to show that Worf has not adapted to command, and it's not completely implausible, though as others have pointed out Worf was on the Enterprise for years and saw how his superiors acted. Moreover, the way he dealt with Sito in "Lower Decks" (and to some extent his attitude about Astor in "The Bonding") suggests to me that he actually is capable of doling out praise and recognizing good work rather than just expecting it. In fact, even in "Disaster," there was that hilarious moment where he said "You bore that well" as reassurance to the guy whose broken limb he set. So I dunno. What I do like is the introduction of Muniz, and also that other guy, who have the right mixture of gentle dorky and harried to seem plausible as engineering grunts who, as O'Brien suggest, just want to do a job.

Quark & Hanok: It's pretty unnecessary, yes, but this is my favourite of the four. Shimerman and Cromwell really get into it here and give the episode a dose of energy that is somewhat lacking in the other scenes, many of which are just people sitting around with one person half-unconscious. Yes, it is weird how quickly Hanok seems to forget the operative problem was that Quark cheated him, not that Quark likes gambling, which is a pretty different issue. Still, the suggestion that Hanok does not like being cheated but his biggest objection to working with Quark again is not that he can't trust Quark to be honest with him but that he can't trust Quark to be a *competent businessman* is pretty fun. This is a good place to see Quark's articulation of the Ferengi code; often the show places Quark's values up against Federation ones in ways that are a little strawman-y, but this is a new character and so Quark's articulation of the value of risk gets almost Kirkesque, except that this is shown through the lens of *personal* profit rather than societal gain. Quark pointing out that you always assume everyone is out to screw you furthers the general idea of Ferengi culture -- that in spite of their conniving behaviour, they do have a kind of meritocratic structure, where people are given almost unlimited freedom to play the game the best they can...and then take pleasure in the game itself. Quark really likes the feeling of getting latinum even more than latinum, I think. This also, by the way, makes me happy that we have "Body Parts" coming up, because the idea that a whole society is built around people *assuming* everyone is being somewhat dishonest would naturally require certain uncrossable lines (games have to have rules). Anyway, not that substantial but pretty fun.

I will say, this must be a weird episode for anyone who is or knows someone with a gambling addiction to watch.

Sisko & Kira: I think at this point I'm going to have to accept that the writers have done a kind of retcon on both the Emissary's role in Bajoran religious life and on Kira's particular relationship to him. "Destiny" tried to paper over the fact that Kira never acted like she revered Sisko as a religious figure by having her say that she guesses she's always known and didn't want to admit it to herself, etc., which was pretty lazy but at least was some sort of attempt. Here, we get the impression that there has been an annual Emissary celebration! for the past three years (I assume starting a year after "Emissary" took place) which is awesome and everyone loves but Sisko stays away from. Look, besides Opaka (who treated Sisko as a kind of mentor who will go on to great things), and Winn expressly for political gain, Bajorans did not treat Sisko with that much reverence in season one or two, and it's unclear when exactly this society-wide change happened, or if we are meant to assume that Bajorans always treated Sisko the way Kira talks about him now. My best guess that makes sense of the story is that, for Kira especially (and to some extent most Bajorans) at first were so flabbergasted by the appearance of the wormhole that they had no idea what to make of it, and only eventually started to realize that Sisko was The Emissary, though by then habits had already formed. But...I dunno, it is hard for me to make sense of it, for some of the same reason that having Kira be portrayed as more and more intensely religious when we barely even saw her reaction to the discovery that the Prophets actually lived in the wormhole and Sisko talked to them back in s1.

Kira suggesting that maybe Sisko keeps her at arm's length because religion, similarly, made me roll my eyes a bit. For season one, Kira was openly, constantly antagonistic to him, so much so that they had an entire episode based around a metaphor of their conflict blowing up to include the whole station ("Dramatis Personae"). Kira's extreme YOU CAN'T DIE reaction to Sisko's impending death felt false to me -- though I admit that I can't think of any occasions in which Sisko's life was in enough jeopardy for Kira to be freaking out about it this much, though I feel like I should be able to think of some examples. (Maybe "The Search, Part II" where the Defiant may have been blown up?) I'm also not all that positive that Sisko keeps her at a greater distance than he does with O'Brien, with whom Sisko also mostly talks about work, and *occasionally* about his son...because his son works with O'Brien. However, if Kira wants to be better friends with Sisko but is usually embarrassed to talk about it, this seems like a good time, and NV's smile when she puts on the baseball cap at the end is cute.

Spoiler note: It is funny that Kira's extremely lame-sounding fable about three brothers who find a giant kava root and then argue what to do with the money and (zzzzz...) is basically the plot of "The Sword of Kahless," next up!

So overall I don't like this episode that much; I find most of the character work kind of obvious and a little weak, and the plot is thin. That said, I don't have that much *against* the episode, nor do I think it makes any terrible missteps, so much as reveal some systemic flaws of the show at this point (esp. with the Kira/Sisko scenes). And James Cromwell is always a delight. So I think I'll give this a middle-of-the-road 2 stars.
Diamond Dave
Sat, Dec 19, 2015, 12:01pm (UTC -5)
DS9 does Das Boot, after a fashion. We've done the disaster movie before and while the action sequences are good enough, the little cameos we break down into are pretty disappointing. While it's good to see some interesting themes - resolving the Bashir/Dax story, dealing outright with Kira's faith, showing Worf adjusting to the issues of command - they are just not told in a particularly engaging way.

If there is one great moment though, it's when the camera pans across from Quark's expression to the torpedo stuck through the bulkhead. 2 stars.
Quarkissnyder
Wed, Dec 23, 2015, 1:45pm (UTC -5)
There were odd extraneous characters here. I kept thinking they should put on red shirts.
Luke
Wed, Mar 30, 2016, 7:38am (UTC -5)
If "Rejoined" was "Deep Space Nine's" answer to TNG: "The Outcast", then "Starship Down" is its answer to TNG: "Disaster". And just like with "Rejoined", it's only a slightly better version of the story. Instead of five separate C-plots, "Starship Down" makes the wise choice to only have four competing story-lines. But, just like "Disaster", some of them are unnecessary.

A) Sisko/Kira - This is the best of the four. It's nice to see these two characters interacting on a non-work basis, something which the episode itself admits is something they almost never do. And a return to Sisko as the Bajoran Emissary is indeed always a welcome addition to the show. The ending scene, with the two of them going off to a holosuite baseball game, it rather nicely played, in my opinion, and shows that they're doing their best to set their relationship right. I liked it a lot.

B) Worf/O'Brien - I also really liked this one. Worf has been shown to be rather unprepared for his new Command duties (as opposed to his Security duties aboard the Enterprise) and this is a nice way to highlight that and still give him an opportunity for character development. His decision to "ease up on the reigns" does feel a little rushed and could have benefited from more screen time (maybe if one of the other plots had been jettisoned) but it works just fine.

C) Quark/Hanok - rather unnecessary. It provides a few laughs toward the end with Quark's method of disarming the dud torpedo, but other than that I could have done without this one. It's also lamentable that its basic use is to say that all capitalists, in one way or another, pawn off substandard merchandise onto their unsuspecting customers and/or fleece them with hidden fees and taxes - therefore capitalists can't really be trusted. I'll try to remember that whenever I buy any Star Trek merchandise in the future. Damn capitalists! Kidding aside though, it's not as offensively anti-capitalistic as several other Trek episodes (yeah, I'm looking right at you "The Last Outpost"), so I'll give it a pass this time. Especially since it does do a fairly good job setting up a tense atmosphere with the torpedo.

D) Bashir/Dax - this one REALLY needed to be cut. It adds virtually nothing to the story (just like the LaForge/Crusher C-plot in "Disaster") and is apparently there just for the sake of "cuteness". In that, it fails. It's nothing more than the standard cliche of "man stuck with a woman he's attracted to" - something even the episode itself calls out. The time spent here could have been much better utilized by having Worf work out how best to handle his command decisions or by giving us more dialogue about how Kira views Sisko as a religious icon. I would steer more toward giving the time to the Sisko/Kira plot, as Sisko as Emissary hasn't really been explored all that much by the show by this point. Why does Sisko feel so uncomfortable about his role? How exactly does Kira square his religious status with the fact that he's also her commanding officer/friend? Instead we get a few scenes of Bashir and Dax hugging for warmth. *groan*

All in all, the two weak plots are fairly well balanced out by the two good ones. Therefore, "Starship Down" is a fairly average episode - not particularly good but not particularly bad. But, Jammer is right that it does have really good special effects and some engaging actions sequences, so I'll be generous....

6/10
Robert
Wed, Mar 30, 2016, 9:08am (UTC -5)
@Luke - "I'll try to remember that whenever I buy any Star Trek merchandise in the future. "

My shotglass from Quark's Bar shattered the first time my wife dropped it. Substandard indeed :-(

That said, while I DO feel Ferengi are stand-ins for capitalism in general, Quark is also a crook and a cheat while Hanok is an honorable businessman. I actually felt this episode was rather fair towards Capitalists and the only indication that Hanok even remotely agrees with Quark is when he jokes about giving the Jem'Hadar a refund, which is more gallows humor than anything else.

I felt like story was more about being willing to take risks as being good as opposed to being willing to cheat people as good. In the end Hanok warmed to the idea that even though doing business with Ferengi is risky (because they are greedy little bastards), it might be profitable. I don't feel like he's going to change his world view on his own honor and start to cheat people.

The story wasn't strictly necessary, but it was better than at least 2 of the TNG Disaster stories. And I personally didn't mind the Dax/Bashir story (it was definitely better than Crusher/LaForge) but I could definitely see your point that the time could be better spent on the Worf story.

That said, this was originally supposed to be a submarine disaster story about the Defiant actually crashing in WATER and so instead of Bashir/Dax being in a corridor while gas was leaking in they could have actually been in a corridor where water was gushing in... and that could have been a cool way to show how much trouble the ship was in had it been implemented that way.
Chrome
Wed, Mar 30, 2016, 10:21am (UTC -5)
@Robert @Luke

I don't think the scene was supposed to a barb against capitalism. In general, the idea in business is trying to get a good deal which means the other party is getting the downside of the deal. But that's not a bad thing, either.

To illustrate, let's say I was moving to a new city and I had to sell my old TV because it was too big to travel with. Now my friend offers me $250 for the TV. I'm in a hurry to move, so I don't think too hard and accept the offer. My friend then turns around and sells my old TV for $500, it's actual value. He got the better deal, and I lost out. But, he also did me a service since I didn't have time to get the best deal. I was stuck with giving away the new TV or sell it at a discount.

Businessmen are good at finding opportunities like these. There aren't necessarily winners or losers, but there's a chance to get the best deal. That's how Quark's words should be interpreted here. He was putting himself out to negotiate for Starfleet, but obviously Starfleet didn't have time to write up a deal for themselves. So Quark was in a position to mark up the price. And Starfleet can't necessarily cry about it because they couldn't be bothered to negotiate the deal in the first place.

On a side note, I think that's cool about the water disaster scene. It would have been awesome to see Odo ooze out of the broken bulkhead. At least using a gas giant was still pretty creative and perhaps a little more Star Trek.
Robert
Wed, Mar 30, 2016, 10:54am (UTC -5)
"At least using a gas giant was still pretty creative and perhaps a little more Star Trek."

It was a compromise because the water thing was going to blow the season budget :P
Chrome
Wed, Mar 30, 2016, 11:35am (UTC -5)
@Robert

I read that, too. I wonder if it wasn't the water itself that was the budget problem, but the Odo saves the day scene that was problematic. Apparently Odo's shapeshifting wreaks havoc on DS9's budget which is why doesn't do it often after Season 1.
Luke
Thu, Mar 31, 2016, 8:08am (UTC -5)
@Robert - "My shotglass from Quark's Bar shattered the first time my wife dropped it. Substandard indeed :-("

I'm not saying it doesn't happen. I mean, I once paid over $100 for each season of Star Trek and you know what those bastards did? They included every episode of TNG Season One. Talk about "substandard"! :-P
Skywalker
Sat, Jun 4, 2016, 4:13pm (UTC -5)
Is anyone else dying to know the rest of Kira's stories?

What happens with the three brothers and the kava root?!

And what's the downside of the 4-shift rotation?

Forever unanswered...
Skywalker
Sat, Jun 4, 2016, 4:28pm (UTC -5)
I wrote too soon; Kira does give away the ending of the kava root story.

But another random observation: in the last scene when Sisko gives Kira a ball cap, he puts on a cap with a wagon train and a big letter 'P' — the Pike City Pioneers! Kasidy's brother's team. What a nice continuity detail.
Del_Duio
Sat, Aug 20, 2016, 11:16am (UTC -5)
This should be one of the first episodes to show anybody who tries to knock Nana Visitor's acting, she's great here.

Just watched this again randomly last night and Beyond takes the setup from this episode almost to the letter:

Something terrible happens to the ship, crew gets divided and has to work together to get things running again. This setup was also used in TNG's "Disaster" as well.

I like how repugnant they make Quark in this too lol.

3 stars easy.
RandomThoughts
Mon, Nov 28, 2016, 10:48pm (UTC -5)
Heya Everyone!

Most of my thoughts were already covered above, but one thing I liked was them reacting in a 3D way in the atmosphere of the gas giant. Something was above, something was below, similar to the Enterprise in Wrath of Khan, in the nebula. For some reason, in space, the writers regard everything as 2D/on the same plane in their writing.

Oh, one more thing, I also figured they'd be crushed by the atmosphere when the containment field crashed. Since I've learned this was supposed to be set in water, perhaps in that case they might have a few seconds to get into the lift and close the door. Seems like they forgot to re-write the script here, getting them into the tube before the field let go. Just my random thought though...

Great day to everyone... RT
NCC-1701-Z
Sat, Feb 25, 2017, 1:02am (UTC -5)
Given that this whole episode was indirectly Quark's fault, shouldn't Sisko have given him a talking to at the very least once they got back to the station?
Rahul
Thu, Jul 20, 2017, 4:25pm (UTC -5)
An OK episode but that's about it -- the various sub-plots are all a bit cliche and definitely need each other to make for a 1 hour episode that gets slow-paced after the first bit of starship battle is over.

Unlike Jammer, I didn't think the battle scenes were anything special or that hasn't already been seen in DS9 prior episodes. Been plenty of battles with the Jem'Hadar already and here's another one in the atmosphere of a planet. Tried to be a bit like Wrath of Khan I think but nowhere near as good since the Jem'Hadar are faceless enemies here.

Probably the best of the 4 subplots (Bashir/Dax get close, Kira telling stories to Sisko, Worf taking charge, and Quark/Karemma trader diffuse a torpedo) is the Worf one. But even it isn't that great -- so Worf starts out as overbearing but ultimately takes O'Brien's advice and gets the best out of the engineers. Ultimately it seems quite fortunate that they are able to destroy the 2nd Jem'Hadar ship. The Bashir/Dax subplot was the worst of the 4.

The episode suffers from Odo not being a part of it but I did like Visitor's acting as Kira taking care of Sisko -- just that it's cliche and didn't generate any emotional response.

"Starship Down" sounds like it should be a much better episode but I can only give it 2.5 stars -- an exercise in seeing how different "teams" of crew members interact in a desperate situation. Overall, a letdown considering how good prior DS9 S4 episodes have been.
Startrekwatcher
Fri, Jul 28, 2017, 6:22pm (UTC -5)
2 stars. I much prefer TNG Disaster episode over this. This was dull
Jasper
Thu, Jan 4, 2018, 4:59pm (UTC -5)
How can you rate this episode three stars when you already mention that two of the four subplots fall short and one is comic relief. Two stars at most.
Peet
Fri, May 4, 2018, 1:34am (UTC -5)
As I'm happy others have already noticed, the first half is a nice use of the infrequently used "submarine warfare" motif in Trek. Balance of Terror was the first example of this via the introduction of the cloaking device (just a metaphor for submerging, and so on and so on). TWOK also used it to some extent with the Mutara Nebula battle. The second half of this DS9 episode reminded me of Disaster, only much better. TBH I think I'd love a "Poseidon Adventure" style Star Trek feature film... though I guess First Contact was kind of like that.
Iceman
Sun, Aug 19, 2018, 6:13pm (UTC -5)
I don't know what it is about this episode, but it doesn't really click with me. Maybe it's the fact that, for a submarine battle episode, it's surprisingly lacking in excitement. Maybe it's the fact that 4 sub plots is too many for one episode, and so the episode can't really do justice to any of them. Or maybe it's because those subplots aren't that great on their own merits. "Starship Down" isn't bad, but it is very far from greatness.

2.5 stars, barely.
Iceman
Thu, Nov 8, 2018, 7:35pm (UTC -5)
You know, 2 stars. I gave it 2.5 stars because I thought most of the subplots worked decently, but the only one that really works is Quark's.
Elliott
Tue, Nov 13, 2018, 8:23pm (UTC -5)
Doing this one next. Very curious how this and “Little Green Men” got mixed around in Jammer's Reviews. Even the air-dates are reversed.

Teaser : *.5, 5%

So, Sisko has taken the Defiant into the GQ to deal with some of the fall out from the Dominion Cold War. I feel like I missed something here. The Ferengi have been trading Tullaberry wine with the Dominion via the Karemma for years now. The Federation tried to exploit that relationship to establish *contact* with the Dominion in “The Search.” But when and WHY IN THE FUCK would the Federation get itself involved in secret trade agreements in the heart of Shapeshifter space? Oh right, contrived conflict. Great. James Cromwell is back as the Keremma representative, Hammok or whatever, and complaining to Sisko that all these extra taxes and fees have made trade economically prohibitive. Of course, these aren't actually taxes or tariffs, but Quark's personal amendments to the trade contract that just happen to line his pockets.

Meanwhile, we learn that every time you stick Worf in the Captain's chair, he turns into an insufferable ass (c.f. “Conundrum”). What else?...Kira is fasting for made-up Bajoran ritual #247. It turns out there's a *holiday* that's been added to the calendar to celebrate the anniversary of Sisko's arrival. Glad the Bajoran bureaucracy has its priorities in order.

--Madame First Minister, many people are starving after the Cardassians destroyed our land and pillaged our resources.
--Ah, so the people are hungry? Hmm. What if—and hear me out—we told them that being hungry will make God happy?
--I'll get started on those re-elect the Space Pope flyers, ma'am! “There are no choices. Hope is a lie. God thanks you for misery.”

But seriously, do the DS9 writers know ANYTHING about religion that they didn't pick up from reading comic books or watching daytime TV? Religious people don't *fast* in order to celebrate. From Buddhists to Methodists, some religions encourage or require fasting in order to create a sense of introspection, either metaphorically (Catholics fasting during Lent to recall Jesus' 40-day sojourn in the dessert) or psycho-actively (Vajrayanas fast because starving can cause mild hallucinations and altered mental states, critical to intensive meditations). But in Ira's world, Bajorans are religious, so we better have them to a religious-y thing lest we forget. Also, try to ignore the fact that this reverence for the Emissary is being grafted onto the show. Jarro certainly didn't seem to give a fuck that Sisko was sent by the Prophets when he tried to have him killed. Whatever. We can just say that Kira's lack of nutritional intake is causing her to say very stupid things. She's disappointed that Sisko skipped the “festival of lights” on Bajor the previous evening, but Dax says he just doesn't like to be the centre of attention, proving that she's a very practised and brazen liar.

This idiocy is cut short by the arrival two Jem'Hadar ships entering the area. Naturally, the Defiant hasn't been cloaked for these little talks because...yeah.

Act 1 : **, 17%

Hammock offers to turn himself in to save the Federation's butt, but Sisko isn't ready to concede this fight. I mean, we've seen the Defiant cut through Dominion ships like butter...and we've seen the Dominion overpower the Defiant without seeming to try at all. So who knows what the rules of engagement are this week? Well, the Karemma ship tries to run away, which makes things more complicated; the ship enters the dangerous atmosphere of a gas giant, hoping the Jem'Hadar won't pursue them there. But, waddaya know, they do. So, Sisko takes the Defiant in right after them. The quantum bullshit naturally makes sensors all but useless, meaning now shit is low tech and badass. Yeah! Manual targeting! Up para-scope! Phones with cords on them, damn it! Actually, they're going to use a form of echolocation to try and track the other ships. Hammock returns to the mess hall to confront Quark over his deception. He assured Quark that his business ventures in the GQ are over after this, which is probably a good thing for everyone.

Well, Dax' and Kira's echogram plan backfires, and the Definat finds itself under siege by the Jem'Hadar ships. Their systems are damaged, people are hurt and the ship is sinking into the atmosphere, causing the hull to buckle. Naturally, with his entire crew in mortal jeopardy, Sisko's first priority is figuring out how to blow shit up, so he has O'Brien rig some probes with torpedo warheads. And waddaya know, there's a hull breach. Dax, Muniz and the sickbay are cut off by the breach, so now Sisko has to choose between letting all the people on Deck 2 die and letting the Defiant explode. Leadership!

Act 2 : **, 17%

Welp, eventually Jadzia gets trapped behind a bulkhead with crazy quantum atmosphere flooding the room, because obviously, humanoid flesh is much more reliant to gas pressure and techno-insanity than a force field. Julian heroically seals himself in with Jadzia and pulls her into a room with a door, which protects them from the atmosphere...hmm. Maybe you guys should have installed an extra door in the corridor instead of relying on those flimsy force fields? Communication is down—but just to Deck 2, I guess—so Bashir can't let Sisko know that he hasn't gotten his best friend killed for stupid reasons just yet. Ah, but the chief has gotten those torpedo-probes armed, so Sisko can go back to his submarine plot.

We pick up with Quark and Hammock in the mess hall. Quark apologises in a Ferengi way for cheating the Karemma—specifically, he congratulates Hammock for having “the lobes” to see through his schemes, something the Federation has apparently failed to do. Yeah, that sounds right. If you can fault Odo on anything it's a lack of thoroughness, right? I'm sure stuff just slipped by. We might recall that the Karemma are essentially the GQ version of the Ferengi (c.f. “The Search, I”), when the derpy representative tried haggling over Kira's earring while the Defiant searched for the Founders. Quark tries to play up this kinship but Hammock just metaphorically spits in his face.

They detect one of the Jem'Hadar ships, and Sisko gets on with the submarine contrivances. They shut down non-essential systems and arm the prob-pedos to target the nearest metallic signature, because Sisko too “has the lobes” and suspects the other ship is very close by. Well, he was right this time, for all the good it does. The other ship emerges from a cloud and shoots the living shit out of the Defiant (again), causing many casualties, including a head injury to Captain Foresight. Good.

Act 3 : **.5, 17%

After this devastating attack, Commander Worf, displaying keen Starfleet tactical insight says:

WORF: Computer, lights!

...yes, the ship decided to turn the lights off. That's definitely the problem, dumbass. Anyway, a couple of red shirts are dead and Sisko is badly hurt. Worf decides he will need to reach the engine room, but normally in these situations, a severed head is required. Well, Kira isn't ready to let Worf take Sisko's head with him just yet, and with the Defiant crew decidedly non-pregnant, Worf has a fairly simple mission ahead of him for once.

We then get to the point of the episode, 22 minutes into the runtime. Dax and Bashir know each other better than a year ago, thanks for that. Kira needs to keep Sisko awake, so she's saddled with corny dialogue. Ferengi and Hammock continue their whole Adam Smith v. Ayn Rand schtick. Worf takes command over the grease-monkeys in Engineering. My format is not particularly condusive to the rapid switching between subplots, but I'll do my best.

Bridge: Kira finds herself ill-equipped to engage Sisko in conversation to keep him conscious. They realise the two of them don't have much of a relationship outside of work, and in her opinion, the lack of personal relationship comes down to his place in her religion. Even if we accept the ret-con going on here, this is absurd on its face. It shouldn't be that much easier for Kira to have a working relationship with the Emissary than a personal one, really. Kira was in a serious relationship with a man who nearly became the Kai, and the current Kai is the recipient of Kira's unbridled scorn. Moreover, as others have pointed out (and I want Dramatis Personae to matter more, too William B, but I'm pretty sure the writers have mostly forgotten it), Kira has been very friendly with Sisko at times, and openly hostile at others. Sisko just asks to hear a story and be done with this awkwardness.

Engineering: They manage to avoid being hit by Jem'Hadar torpedoes—well almost. One of them becomes lodged in the hull of the mess hall.

Act 4 : **.5, 17%

Mess Hall: Quark wants to defuse the bomb because, you know, he's a gambler. And as we all know, people who play poker and bet on horses also regularly play Russian Roulette, because that's just logic.

Engineering: Worf orders people around, because he's in charge God damn it. O'Brien explains the obvious, that Worf is ordering engineers around like they're officers. So, Worf is basically in the plot of “Learning Curve,” and O'Brien gets to be Neelix. Lucky them. So, he thinks it over and applies Miles' advice, giving the boys “a task.” They get technobabble boners together and figure out a way to give Worf a weapon. O'Brien gets *this close* to giving Worf an approving sit-com nod for this momentous character growth.

Deck 2: They hug. They joke about Bashir's juvenile fantasies. Essentially, Dax is the writers' voice, commenting on how insufferable early Bashir was, with his skirt-chasing and arrogant condescension.

Bridge: Kira is still telling her story, but then she becomes overwhelmed be her emotions (please contain your shock). She says there's “still so much for [the Emissary] to do.” So, she gives him a stimulant to try and keep him alive, and then starts praying. Sisko has become vaguely religious since “Destiny,” damn it, so it's hard to say how the dying man feels about her decision to pray, loudly, in his face. I hate to keep bringing this up—really—but, the Prophets have TWO methods of communicating directly with corporeal beings, and prayer is not one of them. So why do Bajorans pray, instead of just visiting the orbs or, now, flying through the wormhole? Because they're religious, and in Ira's world, that means they pray, lest we forget they're religious.

Act 5 : **, 17%

Mess Hall: Quark and Hammock manage to jail-break the torpedo. It turns out Hammock is a liar, having happily sold torpedoes to the Dominion, including this one. While the “we're happy capitalists” bs is tiresome, Shimmerman and Cromwell have excellent timing together and Hammock's bit about offering the Jem'Hadar a refund is rather amusing. This comic moment works about a hundred times better than the sandspike scene from “Indiscretion.” So, Quark gets Hammock to pull the trigger on their game of roulette, and he manages to get lucky for once, disarming the device. He leverages this success to convince Hammock to continue business with him, proving that Late Stage Capitalism is real and we're all going to die.

Bridge: Kira's useless chanting is interrupted by the miracle of modern medicine, as the stimulant seems to have roused Sisko back to life. He asks Kira to finish her inane story, if only to stop the thoughts and prayers.

Engineering: Worf gets to wrap up Sisko's submarine plot using the engineers' nifty techno-stuff, so the day is saved.

There's a voice-over log from Worf, showing how all the plots have worked out followed by an epilogue at Quark's Bar. Hammock proves to be a better gambler than Quark, giving Odo a laugh. Worf gives the engineers latitude in doing their jobs, and Miles pulls on the reins because...moderation or something? Something about darts... We finish out with Sisko inviting Kira to a ballgame, complete with cheeseball “Thanks Mean Joe!” throwing of hats and corny clarinets playing. Fuck it. It's over.

Episode as Functionary : **, 10%

It's always Ira. It's always Ira Steven Behr. He just cannot help himself from taking a big dump on Gene Roddenberry's grave, even when the plot has nothing to do with it. His superficial understanding of religion leads to awkward and unnecessary character moments for Kira (although Sisko's opinion is left unstated). The more I think about this particular subplot, the more it bothers me. Kira says she regrets not having a closer relationship with Sisko, which, fine. And in the course of her Florence Nightingale plot, she broaches the topic of faith with him. And he, the Emissary, has NOTHING to say about it. Why would two people trying to forge a closer relationship talk about God? Nah. Let's just watch baseball. That's fucking intimate.

Slightly less bad is the Worf plot. Mostly, this is just tired and clichéd, but Worf seems very out of character for all of this to work. Worf may be new to long-term thinking and wartime strategy (which is of course why he's IN CHARGE of that department on DS9...), but managing personnel? He's been good at that since at least S3 of TNG (c.f. “The Bonding”), and we saw examples of this throughout the rest of that series. This feels quite forced.

The Quark plot benefits from being pretty amusing, thanks to the actors' delivery. What the message is supposed to be is anyone's guess. I guess since Hammock gets the better of Quark in the end, we should conclude that gambling is a vicious cycle of loss and heartbreak. Which it is.

The “best” plot is probably the Dax/Bashir bit. There's not much to it, but the idea that Bashir has grown as evidenced by Jadzia's comfortable friendship with the reformed lecher works for me.

The biggest problem is that we take WAY too long to get to any of these sub-plots, making their development very shallow and fast. Each gets essentially 3 brief scenes: 1. There's a impasse, with the emergency forcing character issues to the surface. 2. There's a moment of heightened conflict as the protagonist(s) must confront their problem. 3. Resolution and epilogue.

Compared to the very similar “Disaster,” I found this episode very unsatisfying, even if the former is hardly compelling either. However, the character elements are probably the best elements of the story. The framing device of this submarine trade plot thingy is rather silly and eats up valuable screentime. This is the first real stumble of the season for me.

Final Score : **
Peter G.
Tue, Nov 13, 2018, 9:44pm (UTC -5)
"It's always Ira. It's always Ira Steven Behr."

I'll say the following good and bad things about Behr as I see it:

-The show quality improved noticeably when he became show runner as Pillar left to work on Voyager.
-The episodes he personally pens aren't the best.
-From what I've read he had a great management role as leader of the writing team, who in turn form a much more cohesive unit than ultimately developed on TNG or Voyager.
-He seems to have been very thoughtful about where the series was headed.

I don't know if all of his decisions were the best, and some were no doubt out of his hands to an extent. Both he and Pillar lamented that TNG couldn't have had more extended plotlines, but the network wouldn't have it. They finally got the green light to an extent for DS9, and they went for it as much as they could. But we should note that TNG *would have had this* if the writers and showrunners had been allowed. This doesn't mean serialized arcs, but it does mean extended character arcs at least, which was the biggest concern.

Overall my view of him is that he was an amazing show manager and even better writing staff manager who should probably have stuck to management and being an 'idea man' without actually penning scripts. Sometimes you need a really good 'fixer' in the arts, rather than an author; someone to vet and give suggestions to improve the work of others. In this capacity I suspect that he was a godsend. Here's what Berman had to say about him, from Memory Alpha:

"In 1995, Rick Berman praised Behr's work on the fourth season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, saying "I cannot begin to relate the importance of the work that Ira Behr has put into all of this. The quality of the shows is a tribute to Ira. He is truly pushing his writers to produce above and beyond their already high quality work. He is getting a certain creative element out of his writers. He has become a real inspiration to them and they are all writing beautiful stuff. He's doing a great job" "
William B
Tue, Nov 13, 2018, 10:04pm (UTC -5)
"The “best” plot is probably the Dax/Bashir bit. There's not much to it, but the idea that Bashir has grown as evidenced by Jadzia's comfortable friendship with the reformed lecher works for me. "

Yeah, it's sort of an in-universe acknowledgment of character development/course correction. I don't really think it's "necessary" for the audience, but it is helpful that the characters are in a good place. It's a little too tell-not-show but whatever, it's mostly doing a bit of light threading on a character story that's largely working.

SPOILER

I think some of the purpose of this being here is maybe some deck-clearing for an eventual Worf/Jadzia pairing -- to have Bashir openly let go of Jadzia as a romantic prospect, not just to himself (Distant Voices) but to her avoids having to sit through any kind of rivalry story or even the potential of it. And, I dunno, it doesn't seem that necessary to me -- I think that the naturalness of their dynamic in Rejoined says a lot more than this dialogue does -- but it's probably good to know that the characters are on the same page as the audience about Bashir's feelings for Jadzia.
William B
Tue, Nov 13, 2018, 10:18pm (UTC -5)
"The Quark plot benefits from being pretty amusing, thanks to the actors' delivery. What the message is supposed to be is anyone's guess. I guess since Hammock gets the better of Quark in the end, we should conclude that gambling is a vicious cycle of loss and heartbreak. Which it is."

It's possible there is no message, but I think you're on the right track with your Ayn Rand vs. Adam Smith thing -- Quark throws some Objectivist personal greed/whatever shade on Hammock who seems to buy into a kind of classically self-organizing exchange of goods and services through honest exchange of information, and Quark eventually finds out that's BS and he's also a greedy bastard. I guess the point is maybe that shady small-time businessmen and "upstanding" businessmen are both crooks, so upstanding businessmen shouldn't look down on small-time schemers. (Neither has any intention of not being crooked.) It's weird because this story would make more sense in other contexts where the social status of self-described honest businessmen is considerably higher than that of petty crooks, but even in DS9 which is much less critical of capitalism than TNG there is not this big "honest businessman" contingent that needs to be taken down, so there's not much reason to get invested in Quark proving that he's no worse than this other businessman who is not crooked. Still, at least the performances help sell it.
William B
Tue, Nov 13, 2018, 10:30pm (UTC -5)
Actually, maybe this is worth dwelling on a bit more. One thing Quark does often is break down how someone else's high ideals are often just self-interest or worse in fancy dress -- it works very well in The House of Quark with Klingon honour, arguably less well in The Jem'Hadar with hew-mons -- and here he takes on the idea of a nobler version capitalism. There is no nobler version, it turns out; anyone pretending that they're a capitalist with better morals than Quark are BS-ing. Quark usually remains sympathetic because he is pretty upfront about who he is, and also has all kinds of nobler impulses which he frequently doesn't recognize or downplays. DS9 seems to have respect for Quark's pursuit of his self-interest as preferable to outright hypocrisy like Kozak in The House of Quark, and so doesn't eliminate a self-starting business ethic entirely, but maybe in this one it actually shows that Quark really is the best you can hope for in anyone whose ultimate goal is profit, even if they dress themselves up better. This is maybe the only time the Quark-exposes-hypocrisy thing gets turned onto another capitalist -- I mean, I guess maybe it happens in the Ferengi eps, but those are so confused for the most part. (The Nagus the episode has Quark bewildered throughout and he mostly gets schooled in his own unpreparedness for the full-on cutthroat corporate world -- Zek comes out of the episode, if not morally admirable, certainly much smarter than anyone else.) I guess if Quark is going to be used to take down or question various other worldviews (human morality, Klingon honour, Prophet large-scale insight, Vulcan logic, Odo's justice thing, Cardassian/Dominion obsession with domination) I guess eventually actually turning it to "respectable businessman" is a natural move.
Peter G.
Tue, Nov 13, 2018, 10:35pm (UTC -5)
@ William B,

" I guess the point is maybe that shady small-time businessmen and "upstanding" businessmen are both crooks, so upstanding businessmen shouldn't look down on small-time schemers."

I would suggest that there really is a message here, and it's nearby to what you're saying here. I think Quark's point is that "honest and upstanding" is often a fig leaf for "won't let yourself be seen as having negative traits", and that it's more honest to just all admit that we sometimes have unsavory motivations. This is actually a very Trek message, although it's one I would associate more with TOS than with TNG or DS9. In TOS we're often told that humanity has its dark side and that it needs to keep in touch with this side and to be aware of how to combat it. "The Enemy Within" is a good example of this. In fact that episode especially shows that harnessing 'bad traits' like greed can actually turn them into virtues if they're channeled correctly. I would see this as a riposte to the notion sometimes associated with Trek but which I honestly don't think is a real Trek message, which is that our bad traits need to be excised and left behind in the annals of history.

Quark's scene shows us that we can just pretend to be something other than we are, and I would suggest that in his own impish way his attitude is that you need to own what you really are if you're going to get anywhere. I would agree with that, and add to it what Quark wouldn't, which is that after owning the truth you can trying to work with it to improve yourself; but an important first step is to stop trying to all fool ourselves and each other. From this standpoint him coming to terms with Hammock really is a big step in my opinion, because acknowledging real common ground is the beginning of the Trek ideal (although not its end).
Peter G.
Tue, Nov 13, 2018, 10:38pm (UTC -5)
Sorry, one bad type: "Quark's scenes show us that we *can't* just pretend to be something other than what we are..."
Peter G.
Tue, Nov 13, 2018, 10:39pm (UTC -5)
Did I just misspell typo...oh god Jammer save me...
William B
Tue, Nov 13, 2018, 11:13pm (UTC -5)
@Peter, that makes sense to me. Quark's strength is that he's honest about his "worse" traits, and his weakness is that for all his fire in pursuing his interests, he tends to lack an interest in nurturing some of his best qualities (his generosity, bravery) and at times to actively disdain it as useless or counterproductive to his firmly entrenched Ferengi Code.

I reread what I wrote about this earlier, and I compared Quark's treatise on the value of gambling to Kirk's "Risk is our business" speech, and I think there is something kind of TOS in the way Quark seems to marshal his thrill-of-the-deal self to do an amazingly brave but necessary thing in trying to defuse the bomb. By casting it in terms of personal glory and gain and other id-driven elements he's able to overcome the also natural terror, in a way that a rational argument about the necessity of doing it might be less likely to work for him (and many others).
Peter G.
Wed, Nov 14, 2018, 10:03am (UTC -5)
I had another thought about what Quark represents in this context. If he's on the side of "let's own up to what we really want and not pretend" then I would argue that he's actually the necessary first step in becoming better. You don't improve unless you first go through the painful step of admitting all the crap you really crave and desires you secretly harbor, even if they're things that are really bad. This is a hugely important step, and without it I don't think a Trek ethos is possible. You can't just be a Picard without first being a Quark; the saint must emerge from a sinner, to use a Christian parlance. If you try to manufacture a perfect person like a Picard from the word go you'll just end up with a brainwashed robot indoctrinated to follow moral commands. But what Trek really calls for is someone thoughtful, who chooses to be like that because *they know* what they'd be like otherwise. Picard says that Starfleet isn't looking for people who blindly follow orders, and I think it's likewise for moral people; we'd want people who choose to be moral, and for that they need to know what was (and is) immoral in their thoughts and desires so they can overcome them. Picard's own history suggests that you need to be able to look back ruefully at who you were to realize who you need to be.

So from this standpoint I'm actually seeing Quark more clearly than before. He's the first step...the baby step of becoming a Picard. He knows enough to be honest with himself and be proud of that honesty, but he's not emotionally ready to take the next step and admit that he wants to be better. Sometimes he hints at it but then there are repeated big pushbacks against that, even though he sometimes nods even as his pushbacks with a sort of wink and knows he may be headed somewhere other than where he expected. I see this as a marvellous Trek icon that we wouldn't have thought to celebrate, as only looking at the final product (Kirk, or Picard) doesn't help an ordinary person to get there. You need to look at the starting point as well.
William B
Wed, Nov 14, 2018, 10:28am (UTC -5)
That also makes me think about how much effort and care is put into the Odo/Quark relationship. Some SPOILERS: At the beginning of the series, Odo thinks of himself as -- and is often seen as -- a kind of Ultimate Arbitrator of Justice. A bit harsh, perhaps, but unimpeachable, whereas Quark rejects the idea of service or the law or whatever. But the show does, to a great extent, show Quark -- at his early-series state -- as actually more admirable than Odo, as he really is at the series' start. They do that by contrasting how they actually behaved in the occupation, with hints in Crossover and some more explicit parallels in Far Beyond the Stars: Odo did do a lot of good, but he was deeply entrenched in his own concept of justice which was actually order, and was so convinced of his innate moral superiority that he never considered that he had baser motivations. Because Quark is so id-driven in terms of who he is and what he sells -- food, alcohol, excitement, the possibility of gain and sex -- Odo could really look down on him as what's wrong with humanoids. I mean, he doesn't eat or drink or have sex, and Quark's commodification of those seem to be really awful vices. But eventually we see the Founders, and see Odo in them, and -- yeah. Odo was a proto-fascist, at times a Puritan, who was unwilling to extend sympathy to people who were suffering. It actually takes Odo's identity being pretty dramatically and even viciously reconstructed, and for him to fail really dramatically and for people to see his failures, for him to genuinely embrace caring about other humanoids and a real, deeper kind of justice, and then to be able to bring that back to the Founders. And his acceptance of Quark is huge in that -- a recognition of his personal debt to him, that he is willing to embrace his own Quark, so to speak. Odo at the end of the series isn't exactly arrived, but he is much closer to being a Kirk or Picard (or a Spock, who is maybe the closer comparison, especially with Spock ending up on Romulus trying to bring the best of Vulcan to them) than at the beginning of the series. The Quark/Odo arc sort of shows in practice how one has to pass through Quark to a degree to get to something better.

Emphasis, by the way, on "to a degree." Quark's dedication to greed arguably goes beyond an honesty about what he wants and into a pathology. Quark resists being dragged to higher moral considerations rather too much. But I also agree that he makes a good "first step" type of character, and I think his flaws are more about his frequent resistance to the siren call to something higher than for having these baser desires at all.
Iceman
Wed, Nov 14, 2018, 11:39am (UTC -5)
"It's always Ira. It's always Ira Steven Behr. He just cannot help himself from taking a big dump on Gene Roddenberry's grave, even when the plot has nothing to do with it. His superficial understanding of religion leads to awkward and unnecessary character moments for Kira (although Sisko's opinion is left unstated). The more I think about this particular subplot, the more it bothers me. Kira says she regrets not having a closer relationship with Sisko, which, fine. And in the course of her Florence Nightingale plot, she broaches the topic of faith with him. And he, the Emissary, has NOTHING to say about it. Why would two people trying to forge a closer relationship talk about God? Nah. Let's just watch baseball. That's fucking intimate."

You're right of course about DS9's treatment of religion here (except for the Gene Roddenberry thing-you are so, so wrong about that-but we've debated that enough and gotten nowhere), but you'd be surprised about the baseball thing. Apparently Piller and Behr went to baseball games all the time together. He pitched and got Behr on board with DS9 at baseball games. It's not surprising that took on a surprising significance in DS9.

I agree with @Peter G about Behr-in my opinion, Behr was a fantastic show-runner who pushed the show in the right direction, even if he didn't always write the best episodes. I'm still a big fan of a lot of his episodes though: "The Way of the Warrior", "Call to Arms", "A Time to Stand", "Sacrifice of Angels", "In Purgatory's Shadow", etc. He was great at the Dominion stuff, but Echeverria was better at character work and Moore was probably the all-around best writer on the staff.
Chrome
Wed, Nov 14, 2018, 1:12pm (UTC -5)
Interesting discussion guys, I really like the Quark material in this episode too. By all rights Quark seems to be the character who matures into a great person because of his honesty and ability to compromise. (spoiler) If Rom weren’t such a Gary Stu, Quark would’ve been a fitting Grand Nagus by the end of the show.
Iceman
Wed, Nov 14, 2018, 6:15pm (UTC -5)
@Chrome-

If you haven't done so already, please check the "Hippocratic Oath" comments again. I apologized for my aggressive comments and hope we can continue interacting as normal.

I think your idea would have been a far more satisfying wrap-up of Quark's journey throughout the series than what we got in "The Dogs of War". For one thing, Quark would almost certainly make a far better Nagus than Rom. An engineering genius he might be (which I kind of call bs on-"Necessary Evil" depicted him as a Ferengi with below average intelligence), a genius politician/business leader he isn't. For another, we're shown time and time again that Quark does have a moral center even while he's a Ferengi traditionalist. I can see the precedent in his character ("Bar Association") for him lamenting the death of Ferenginar as he knows it, I can also see him recognizing the financial and ethical benefits of the reforms.
Jammer
Sun, Nov 18, 2018, 2:13pm (UTC -5)
@Elliott: "Very curious how this and 'Little Green Men' got mixed around in Jammer's Reviews. Even the air-dates are reversed."

I was very curious about this as well. So I looked into it. And guess what? Against what you may expect (and indeed, what I expected), the error is not mine. It's literally everyone else.

I first checked the obvious sources -- Wikipedia, IMDb, and even the printed cover of my copies of DVDs for DS9 season 4. They all say that "Little Green Men" aired *after* "Starship Down," which is the reverse of what I have. I wondered, how could it be that I reversed these and even had the air dates flipped? Possibly something just got flipped around on my web pages? Given my workflow, it seemed unlikely that I would have the air dates wrong in addition to the index ordering and not have caught the error.

So I went back to my original Word doc from 1995-1996, where all the reviews for season 4 were written in a single continuous document from the beginning of the season to the end. In that doc I would simply add each new episode to the end of it as the season continued. Well, that document also matches what I have on my site, which is that "Little Green Men" aired first. This also contradicts the "official" record. Still very curious.

So there was one authoritative source from the time that I knew of that could either confirm I was right or wrong based on the truth of how these episodes actually aired in real time: Tim Lynch's reviews. If you don't know, Tim Lynch was a well-known reviewer in the 1990s who reviewed TNG, DS9, and limited stints for VOY/ENT in real time as they aired and posted the reviews online in a public FTP directory. (If you haven't read his reviews, I highly recommend them.) At some point, Lynch's reviews were archived by someone here. Specifically, you can see the DS9 season 4 reviews here.

You might think this also proves me wrong -- because this episode listing also has "Starship Down" listed before "Little Green Men." But look a little bit closer. At the bottom of each review, Lynch included a "next week" blurb that was written based on the trailer for the next episode. If you look at the "next week" blurb of both of these episode reviews, you will see that his reviews agree with my record of the air date order, in which "Little Green Men" aired first, followed by "Starship Down," and then "The Sword of Kahless." Whoever compiled these reviews into this site likely went off the "official" record for the episode listing, but the text of Lynch's reviews themselves contradict this official ordering, as mine do.

My listing reflects the *actual* air date order. Tim Lynch's reviews, which like mine were written as the episodes actually aired, agree with my witnessing of the order.

So why does the official listing go against this? I'm not sure, but my guess is that the *intended* air dates or production order were perhaps what made it into the official record upon which everyone bases their lists -- whether that be Netflix or IMDb or even the DVD box set. But that is NOT the order in which they actually aired at the time.

Therefore, I will be leaving my listing in the order you see it. It is my firm belief that everyone else, quite simply, is based on an inaccurate record.

Interesting indeed.
Iceman
Sun, Nov 18, 2018, 3:28pm (UTC -5)
@Jammer-

Mind blown.
Elliott
Sun, Nov 18, 2018, 7:11pm (UTC -5)
@Jammer

That is so odd! Considering all the instances where the producers screwed up the air-date of certain episodes, I think this might be the one example where it really doesn't matter at all which order these two episodes air, so of course it's this one that has been retconned into the intended order.
methane
Mon, Nov 19, 2018, 11:49am (UTC -5)
You know, I remember the order being different on Netflix, but didn't think anything of it.

I looked at wikipedia's list of episodes, and they have "Starship Down" airing first, with the earlier production code, but they give "Little Green Men" the earlier Stardate.

"Memory Alpha" also lists "Starship Down" with the earlier air date.

However, I noticed that the wikipedia page of "Little Green Men" had a link to a page showing ratings of DS9 episodes for season 4:

http://users.telenet.be/WebTrek/Ds9/Ratings/ratings4.html

And yes, they show "Little Green Men" was first!

So I think we're in one of those episodes where somebody changed history and for some technobabble reason nobody else knows it's been altered.

(As an aside, those ratings look ridiculously big compared to what shows get today...the weakest episode of the season got a 5.1, and most shows got at least a 6!).
Springy
Sun, Dec 30, 2018, 11:01pm (UTC -5)
Watching and commenting:

--Not a promising start: Ferenghi and Bajoran Emissary mumbo jumbo. These are a few of my least favorite things. But let's see how it goes.

--Eh, nothing special, nothing terrible . . . Not much to say on this one.

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