Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Nor the Battle to the Strong"

4 stars

Air date: 10/21/1996
Teleplay by Rene Echevarria
Story by Brice R. Parker
Directed by Kim Friedman

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Who cares about anomalies? People want stories about things they can relate to." — Jake, making a good point about storytelling

Nutshell: Excellent. Gripping, moving, and real. War themes unlike anything seen on Trek.

Last week's "Looking for Par'mach..." may have been a fun comedy episode, but "Nor the Battle to the Strong" is why I watch DS9—a real story, with real people, real problems, and real reactions.

This episode is what "The Ship" should've been. "Nor the Battle" is another analysis of the effects of war but it works just about everywhere that "Ship" did not. "The Ship" happened a situation upon its characters and then played it out. There were attempted negotiations and ultimately the episode's tragic consequences resulted from a mutual lack of trust and understanding. The idea was an intelligent one, but the presentation of the idea, unfortunately, was less than ideal and fell flat on an emotional level.

"Nor the Battle," on the other hand, captured my feelings much more effectively. Almost too effectively, in fact—this is one of the few episodes of Trek I can remember where I felt the barrier separating the people in the audience and the characters on the screen beginning to dissolve.

And that's a good thing. It's one of the primary goals in cinema—to capture the audience and draw them into the situation as if they were there.

Whereas the situation set up in "Ship" was random, the situation in "Battle" is not. When Bashir receives a distress call from a Federation colony requiring additional medical assistance because they're under attack by the Klingons, Jake wants to go. Bashir doesn't want to drag Jake into a potentially disastrous situation, but Jake prods him further, and both are soon on their way to what becomes, well, the front line of some ground combat warfare.

The danger here feels real. Very real. One of the reasons the show proves so involving is because it's shrouded in such a sense of impending doom. For the duration of the episode, the Klingons always seem close, within striking distance of the medical compound Jake and Doctor Bashir are assisting.

What's remarkable here is the way the sense of danger is conveyed. We hardly see any actual Klingons in this episode, yet their presence is evident in every scene. The anxiety and foreboding subtly surfaces through the characters' dialog and the way they talk and perform under pressure. Most characters handle the pressure well, as if it's just another day at the office. But a few characters—Jake in particular—find the situation quite overwhelming.

Much credit deserves to go to Kim Friedman, whose direction over this episode is complex and multifaceted; she builds a stunningly effective sense of danger through Jake's dialog and narration, but more than that—she also knows the guest characters and provides them with confidently drawn attributes other than the obvious sense of fear.

There's quite a bit to digest in this installment—themes that accompany the topic of war. Courage, loyalty, guilt, panic, trust. This is the most intelligent and multi-dimensioned war episode ever done on Trek. It's something that definitely needed to be attempted considering how little we've seen in terms of the fallout from the Klingon/Federation treaty disintegration. As a follow-up to the abrupt cease-fire negotiated in "Apocalypse Rising," this episode shows that despite the war being over, the problems are not; the Klingons and Federation have a long way to go before their trust of each other can be repaired.

Another very effective element of this story is its fresh perspective. The events unfold completely from Jake's point of view. As the episode opens and Jake displays a sort of superficial journalist's interest in the battle unfolding, we know that war is something he has never truly faced and something he has no real understanding of. But as the bodies start rolling into the medical compound and the death and suffering begins to sink into reality, Jake realizes that he is not prepared to face war's very real horrors. He assists Bashir and the rest of the medical staff as an elected orderly, and although he's willing to help and performs adequately, he's very stressed inside. As his narration indicates, the danger here seems much more "real" than on the station.

This leads up to the central event of the episode, when Jake and Bashir head back to the Runabout (which is sitting outside the compound a kilometer away) in order to retrieve a much-needed portable generator. The Klingons begin shelling the nearby area, and Jake and Bashir find themselves very close to some explosions. Jake panics and runs, abandoning Bashir, who quite possibly could've died.

Jake runs. And runs. Aimlessly. Lost. Through a field of dead Klingons. He falls and rolls down a hill. Eventually, he happens upon a wounded soldier (Danny Goldring). The soldier knows he's going to die, but he wants to die "looking at the sky," not with his face in the dirt, and he orders Jake to make sure that happens. But the soldier also wants to know why this kid is out on the battlefield in the first place. Jake explains how he ran from the explosions, abandoning the doctor. He doesn't know how to control his fear, and he's obviously looking for answers. The soldier, however, has no answers to give him. In fact, he all but condemns Jake for abandoning Bashir. Jake tries to make sense of it; he tries to convince himself that he ran for a "reason"—to find this soldier and carry him back for medical treatment. But the soldier's last words, as he dies a rather graphic death: "Sorry, kid. Life doesn't work like that." Indeed; there are no easy answers to be found here. It's a credit to Friedman and scripter Rene Echevarria how well they flesh out this soldier character (as well as the statements of the entire sequence) considering he had merely five minutes of screen time. Excellent work on this scene all around.

The remainder of the show focuses on Jake's attempts to cope with his guilt for abandoning Bashir. Miraculously, Bashir survived and was able to bring the generator back to the compound himself. But while this relieves Jake to an extent, it sure doesn't help him feel better about himself. He's convinced that he's a coward. He bottles it up inside, wishing he could reveal to everyone what he did, but he can't bring himself to disappoint Bashir and the others.

The great thing about the way the episode progresses is that every scene has a significant point that helps Jake learn. Take, for example, the soldier who is brought into the compound with a badly injured foot. He had been hit by phaser fire. But guilt causes him to confess: he shot himself in the foot to avoid more combat. He'll probably face a court-martial as a result. It's funny, he muses, how well he did in those battle simulations back in the academy days. Yet when the real explosions were going off around him, all he could think about was getting away. Jake can relate, whereas the rest of the medical staff looks at him with an angry eye.

And then there's scene where the other medical staff discusses how close the Klingons are getting to the compound—and they joke about the best way to die. Jake is not amused. He blows off some steam, voicing his thoughts of how pointless war is and how, ten years from now, no one will remember anything that happened in this little skirmish. While he may have some valid points, there's a simpler reason why war makes no sense to him: because he's completely inexperienced when it comes to it.

The beauty of Jake's character is that it's the one most people in the audience will identify with. I'm willing to presume that a majority of the people watching Deep Space Nine are not combat veterans, and I think that most people will understand Jake's problem and could see themselves acting similarly if they were in his shoes. The entire arc for Jake is wonderfully realized, exploring courage, duty, loyalty, and guilt. Lofton's performance, while not always perfect, is good enough to get the job done very nicely, and considering the depth of the material I'm sure he had his work cut out for him. This is easily the heaviest show he's had to carry.

There's also a B-story here, exploring Sisko's parental distress that his son is in danger. He decides to take the Defiant to assist the colony. This subplot isn't really fresh like the main plot is, but it is a necessary part of the story and it works just the same. It's also very true-to-life. Just because Jake is 18 doesn't mean his father is going to stop worrying about him. It's every parent's duty to worry about their children, and every one of Sisko's actions in this episode is to be expected.

The episode's climax, in which the Klingons do indeed reach and storm the medical compound—opening fire on Jake and the medical personnel—is quite riveting. The reason it's so riveting, though, is because we've become so connected to Jake. When the character we've been following and exploring for an hour is suddenly right there in the line of fire, we wince. Why? Because we fear for his safety, perhaps that we fear for our own safety (at which point the aforementioned "barrier" comes crashing down). This is all accomplished by building the story and making it real (a big reason last season's "Homefront" was also so effective), and that is quite an awesome feat.

"Nor the Battle" has a good ending, too. It does exactly what it's supposed to—it refuses to cheat. Jake's fear is not miraculously rectified by the end of the show. When he picks up a phaser to defend himself from the Klingons, he does so because he has to. He's not trying to be a hero, he's just trying to stay alive. This is a big part of the show's point—the basic survival response of "fight or flight" and how it gets the best of Jake. Jake isn't really a coward (which is demonstrated by his willingness to share his tale with his father and Bashir after the rescue); he's simply naive to the horrors of war, and, hopefully, this experience has given him some insights.

"Nor the Battle to the Strong" is a fine episode. It provides a meaty role for a typically underutilized regular character. The presentation is genuine in nearly every aspect. Some nice montages and shots make a difference, too. (I really liked, for example, the brief, subtle shot of Bashir reading Jake's story and reflecting upon it.) The show has a variety of interesting and intelligently realized themes, plus a general statement that war is hell. Here lies an episode among DS9's best installments.

Previous episode: Looking for Par'mach in All the Wrong Places
Next episode: The Assignment

Like this site? Support it by buying Jammer a coffee.

◄ Season Index

127 comments on this post

Fri, Apr 17, 2009, 11:43am (UTC -5)
I couldn't agree with you more about this episode. It sucked me in so much that I felt genuinely anxious for Jake by the end. This episode probably had the strongest emotional impact on me of any DS9 episode.
Sun, Aug 16, 2009, 7:29pm (UTC -5)
When I saw this on the first broadcast I didn't like it at all, thought it was oddly constructed and not affecting, but I watched it on DVD last night and it was really very good.
Jason Keon
Fri, Nov 20, 2009, 2:02pm (UTC -5)
After I read Jammer's review of this episode, I was prepared for a great episode. After watching it though, I was greatly disappointed. It was pure garbage! For starters, the acting was extremely poor (and that's being kind!) The plot was not affecting at all. It was so bad, that I kept thinking to myself during the episode: "This is rubbish". I had to force myself to watch it, hoping it would get better. It didn't. It's the biggest try hard episode ever! Sisko and Dax talking on the Defiant. What was that scene trying to convey? It ended up looking silly. And that guy who kept saying: "The Klingons are comming, the Klingon's are going to attack the compound". If it was trying to create a sense of urgency and dread, it failed miserably. One of the worst Star Trek episodes I have ever seen. Worse than "Fascination", worse than "Threshold". I cannot at all comprehend why Jammer would give this **** stars. Deep Space Nine is by far the worst Trek incarnation ever!
Sun, Feb 21, 2010, 9:57pm (UTC -5)
I think the acting did leave a little to be desired in places, but otherwise I was very impressed. I couldn't help but think how Bashir would have reacted in this situation if it hadn't been for the lessons he leared in "The Quickening". I think that was the episode where Bashir really grew up, and that is why he is able to handle the medical crisis rationally in this episode. Kudos!
Jeff O'Connor
Sun, Oct 17, 2010, 1:39pm (UTC -5)
Deep Space Nine, 'by far the worst Trek incarnation ever'? That's... pretty hard to swallow. I can see where someone wouldn't like it, but finding its overall quality significantly lower than Voyager or Enterprise? Really?
Sun, Dec 26, 2010, 5:30pm (UTC -5)
I'm not sure if it's worse than Enterprise, I'm not familiar enough with that series, but DS9 sucks something fierce and season 5 is really where it got to be its worst. What the hell kind of human being is that soldier? What happened to the human beings from TNG? This is rubbish. These humans are transplants from the 20th century (and not the best and brightest mind you) given phasers and tricorders. Ugh! Sisko's emotional ranting is starting to become intolerable. Jake was barely tolerable as an annoying kid, as this MTV-generation teenage-writer-wannabe, he's downright infuriating. The implication that great writing can only stem from first-hand experience and petty human emotionalism is insulting. Star Trek is mythological; it is more powerful than sitcoms or dramas or war movies because of the legendary archtypalism of its worlds and characters. The DS9 characters are petty, selfish and small so it's clear that any idealism they spout is superficial. Of course then the cracks of war reveal this inner ugliness; but this is an examination of humans as they are NOW--something which has been done, and better in other venues.

Jason Keon is right, it doesn't help that most of the acting in every episode is atrocious. A handful of regulars are the only saving grace, and they don't appear in this episode (Garak, Odo, Quark, Dukat). 1.5 stars.
Thu, Jan 27, 2011, 6:57pm (UTC -5)
I dunno Elliot a scared one trapped in a horrible situation

Well you know what you say write about what you know look at Andy McNab writes SAS novels why because he was in the SAS and Roddenberry started his writing career working on shows like Dragnet because he used to be a police officer you know Elliot Wesley Crusher Roddenberry's mary sue at least Jake wasn't saving the station
Sat, Jan 29, 2011, 10:01pm (UTC -5)
I don't think DS9 is the worst trek incarncation, but otherwise, I agree with a lot of what Jason said. The acting was horrible, and was anyone surprised that Jake and Bashir were the two to go, and then get seperated? I think this episode had the best of intentions, and the theme (war is hell) go conveyed just fine. But the episdoe as a whole is lacking.
Some Dude
Sun, Apr 10, 2011, 8:09pm (UTC -5)
DS9 is very different in tone to TNG. Everybody knows that. Roddenberry's utopian vision is not central to DS9 at all. You have to look at it in a very different light. But if you do, you will realize that it has its own unique qualities that none of the other Star Trek shows have.

As for this episode, I wouldn't give it 4 stars but it is in fact an important character piece for Jake and as such, I found it enjoyable.
Some Dude
Sun, Apr 10, 2011, 8:20pm (UTC -5)
Oh, and I guess it's true that Lofton's acting wasn't particularly convincing. But try putting Wheaton in that role. Erm... no.
Wed, Sep 28, 2011, 2:45am (UTC -5)
I've always felt Lofton's acting was a little stiff, but the episode overall was enthralling.

For those who are pissing about DS9, keep in mind that the Enterprise is comprised of the "best of the best" from Starfleet. They're on the front lines, discovering new races and worlds, where having the absolute cream of the proverbial crop is necessary to facilitate relations.

On the other hand, you have Deep Space 9, which is a public hub of travel and trade within the quadrant. It's a completely different situation, requiring completely different methods.

And anybody who wants to preach about TNG's adherence to "the utopia" can stuff it. I love TNG, but the discovery of corrupt officials in the Federation government was a common plot hook in the series.
Jason Keon
Sat, Jan 14, 2012, 5:26am (UTC -5)
I just read my own review of this episode after 2 years. I must admit I was wrong. This is a good episode, and DS9 is NOT the worst Star Trek series (that distinction goes to Enterprise). In terms of continutity, entertainment and plotting, it is the best series.
Thu, Jan 26, 2012, 5:32am (UTC -5)
While i nearly always somewhat agree with the star ratings for DS9, I do not in this episode.

It was poor, the story of how war is terrible and all that was already done, and would be done again, but better in all other cases.
The doctor and jake was not only badly acted but they never went on from this to share any real screen time again.....thankfully
Thu, Mar 22, 2012, 9:13pm (UTC -5)
Jake was definitely an underutilized character, however he is the main character in two of DS9's finest episodes - this one and "The Visitor," and he figures prominently in perhaps its finest hour in "Far Beyond The Stars." Jake is truly the best of all the kid characters throughout Trek's history.
Tue, Apr 3, 2012, 10:01pm (UTC -5)
I agree with the rating on this one, especially since Lofton got to do some credible acting. Most of all I like the parallels to Red Badge of Courage. Best war story ever.
Tue, May 1, 2012, 4:40am (UTC -5)
I hated this episode, Jake comes across as a sheltered kid that is a coward. The whole war is hell episode felt fake to me, people do not talk about death on the battlefield.

1 Star from me
Wed, Jun 6, 2012, 5:15pm (UTC -5)
Have to say that this episode is ok but not great. Jake is an annoying character and does come across like a spoilt child here while the suggestion that experience is required to write is silly. Meanwhile Jake's cowardice is so brazen that he looks appalling. Basically he lost it for little reason. It wasn't convincing because I never felt his life was in real danger. He makes the guy who shot himself look like a hero.

What bothers me more though is that you never really feel the danger. It just doesn't feel like war ought to - and there is no real believability to it. Plus as usual the plot makes no sense so the writers can tell the story they want to tell rather than a plausible one. For example:

a) why would the Klingons leave no ships in orbit - ah so the Runabout could land without any problems
b) hell why did the Klingons land at all? They could destroy the settlements from orbit.
c) why send your most important personnel (doctor) to retrieve a generator on a dangerous mission which they aren't suited for at the best of times - ah it has to be the doctor because it needs to be a primary character.
d) why send the doctor without an escort?
e) I know what also send with him a civilian who's the son of the doctors boss!
f) Why are Klingons using mortars in the 23rd century and why is their explosive force so small?

Having said that I applaud the idea of the story and the seen with Jake and the fatally wounded officer in the foxhole is effective. I'd give this one a 3 out of 5 myself (can't abide four star ratings :) )
Mon, Jun 18, 2012, 5:09am (UTC -5)

a) Well, I suppose they decided the best way to get all their troops onto the battlefield was to land. They might also not have disabled the ground to space defenses at that point.

b) Even when assuming that was an option (the planet clearly has a tunnel system), where's the honor in that?

c) Because he knew where to go.

e) Because he also knew where to go. In fact, they sent the two people who would be able to find the runabout individually. Besides, this is war, you aren't gonna get much of a special treatment because your father is important. Especially not if you volunteer for a task.

d) Because they did not have any troops to form an escort with!

f) They are not mortars. Right, they might be similar to mortars, but still. And then, you don't know enough to give a single reason why they shouldn't use weapons like this. You don't know what the Klingons are attempting to achieve with them, you don't know what the means the Klingons have at their disposal are, you don't know what federation defense systems their attacks have to penetrate, etc.
Daniel Haughton
Thu, Jul 5, 2012, 5:36am (UTC -5)
Jasper fielded most of your questions just fine, RichardS, but I think I can add a bit to your last one. Mortars in the 24th (not 23rd) century makes sense because they can do something beam weapons can't, namely, fire over cover. It's called "indirect fire" for a reason. And since you mentioned the 23rd century, I'll point out that Kirk himself broke out a mortar to defend Cestus III against the Gorn attack in the episode Arena. If they found use for them in the 23rd century when they had basically all the same weapons they're still using a century later, why would they have abandoned that specific technology?
Cail Corishev
Tue, Sep 18, 2012, 11:00am (UTC -5)
Jake is a sheltered kid. People think kids are soft nowadays, with their video game systems and cell phones -- imagine what they'll be like when they can ask the replicator for anything under the sun! We have to assume Jake's never wanted for anything, and with the exception of his mother's death, his life has been smooth sailing. That's made evident by the way he says "I'm 18!" as his claim for why he can handle dropping into a battlefield. He really has no idea.

This did bat around some anti-war tropes, but ultimately it didn't focus on those. I thought it did a good job of showing how everyone reacts differently to extreme situations, and how you really can't know how you'll react until it happens. And that courage is a virtue that you learn, not something you're born with (that would be called recklessness), so running away the first time doesn't mean you're forever a coward and can't be a hero the next time.
Sat, Dec 22, 2012, 6:06am (UTC -5)
As a huge fan growing up watching this show, I recently bought the DVDs and have been doing a rewatch. I always knew there were three or four episodes I had never seen...I can't believe, 15 or so years later, I got to see not only a fresh episode of DS9, but one this good. I'd missed seeing this all this time!

I saw it as an analysis of "cowardice" and how we define it. We push down people we see as not heroic so we can in turn push up our heroes, but really who wouldn't react like Jake did, as a civilian? I'm sure plenty of untrained people would rise to the occasion, and great for them, but you can't criticise people for spending their lives in bed, at work, at the bar, then drop them into a warzone and question why they don't rise to the occasion. Combat is a skill that most of us have no need for in our daily lives...I would perform as poorly as a soldier turning up to my work and trying to do my job out of the blue.

I'm open to the fact that Jake could be criticised for putting himself in that situation (in the same way I'm more understanding of criticism of the soldier who shot himself in the foot, since he did at least sign up for it), but beyond someone above said negatively, Jake comes across as a "sheltered kid who is a coward", but really why wouldn't he be? And that's okay, because he's not a soldier. Combat is not the only thing you can do to contribute, (indeed it's becoming less and less useful) we need writers too. They may not save lives or protect people, but they do give us shows like DS9.

Also Cirroc Lofton gets a lot of criticism for his acting...some of it is fair, he's very stilted at times and the way he "jokes around" is seriously awkward. But I do think there are certain things he does well, one of those is being upset. The way he cries in The Visitor, both in the medical bay when Sisko disappears and in the docking ring with Kira, really get to me. And in this episode when he crumples into a corner and cries when he's alone looks really authentic. So yes, that's probably not "enough", but credit where credit is due =) (Interestingly Avery Brooks is the same, he has some awful affectations but he does do "fatherly" and "angry" pretty effectively)
Sat, Jan 5, 2013, 11:31am (UTC -5)
What undid this episode was the direction, I think. It was in the little details. Jake bumping into this IV-thing with his crotch, him tripping and falling on a Klingon corpse... By the way, what doesn't help is that Cirroc seems to have grown like 2 feet in a few months and doesn't know what to do with his long limbs. I mean, what the heck?

There were good parts too, sometimes it really felt like a war zone, with all its raw emotions. But Cirroc doesn't seem to be able yet to carry an episode when the direction leaves much to be desired.
Sun, Jan 20, 2013, 7:18pm (UTC -5)
Remembering this episode, and then seeing a 4 star review gave me high hopes going into this one. Then those hopes were dashed. This episode is contrived, and clunky, and watchable only for snark-factor. (This is coming as a huge DS9 fan, too.)
I think what did it for me was the voice over narration; it can be done well and effectively, here it was neither, and ripped me out of the story every time I heard it.
The subplot with the ensign who shot himself was a particularly egregious example of the plot machine working overtime: during his and Jake's second encounter (after Jake ran and came back) all I could think was 'wow, how curiously pertinent to the themes of the episode!'
One thing I'll give this wasted hour was that it didn't cheat at the end, nor did it hit the reset button. One is given a sense that this is a single thread in the larger tapestry of DS9, and I've always appreciated that about this series.
The worst episode of DS9 (and this is far from the worst) is still light years ahead of Voyager and Enterprise.
Blake W
Fri, Apr 19, 2013, 6:55am (UTC -5)
I'm very surprised to see how many people have a problem with this episode. For instance, Jake being a sheltered kid is totally irrelevant to the fact that it's his first time in a war, and adults in that position would act the exact same way as Jake. I remember with the Aurora shooting in CO, a grown man with a family was interviewed, and by his account, he acted the same way as Jake, which is why this episode is so phenomenal: it conveys the truth and horror of war.

People who've never been in battle have no clue what war is... And then they watch this episode and they have a much better idea. I'm not saying they totally understand, I'm saying in our society, the vast majority of ppl are deluded when it comes to war and therefore, comprehending war is a VERY serious issue. Often times, the vast majority of ppl pushing for war have no idea what war is. And because this episode actually informs & educates ppl, it automatically gets a high rating. After watching the episode, I totally agree with the 4 star rating.
Nick P.
Thu, May 9, 2013, 11:55pm (UTC -5)
I don't hate this episode as some that have commented, but to give this one 4 stars is a little presumptuous, imo. First off the acting truly is terrible, I completely agree with the haters on that point. If you only compare acting in this one compared to the "the visitor", the latter would win hands down. The good doctor does pretty well, however. But one point no one has mentioned that always bothers me about this episode is how there is this feeling of laughing off cowardice and failure with the "he's just a kid line". It really bothered me here. I am not claiming I would act different, but I don't like "excusing it" the way a lot of left-leaning entertainment does. Plus, Jake is 18, that isn't that young. "It's OK you almost killed Bashir, likely did kill a couple people, and embarrased starfleet Jake, you are a kid writer!!!!" I didn't like that message at all.

Yeah, not a terrible episode, but I am not getting the love either.
Fri, May 10, 2013, 8:35am (UTC -5)
@Nick P: I haven't watched this episode in a while, but I think you're making an assumption. Does everybody just shrug off Jake's actions?

I don't think they do -- but there's also not anything they can do about them. He's not in Starfleet, so they can't court martial him or anything. His civilian status probably excuses his actions in the minds of Sisko, Bashir, et. al more than anything else.

Now, I will say that it's odd that we never hear much about this episode in future episodes. Later this season, Bashir and Jake have a scene in the infirmary (before the Dominion fleet approaches the station in "Call to Arms") and nothing's mentioned. I don't suppose it's necessary, but it is one of the few scenes the two characters have together for the rest of the series. ("I'm guessing you feel more ready for this after our encounter with the Klingons a few months ago, Jake.")

I agree that this isn't a great episode, mainly because of the cliched -- and strangely out of step, by Starfleet standard -- grizzled soldier that Jake encounters. When Star Trek does shows like this that are sort of out of the norm, the guest characters are often about as subtle as a heart attack. That applies here.

Still, I like this episode because it's one of DS9's best examples of a non-Starfleet take on things that doesn't involve Odo or Kira. Jake is the resident non-Starfleet human, and he's put to good use in that role three times in the series (here, "The Visitor" and "In the Cards"). But four stars? Eh, that's probably a bit much.
Fri, Jun 28, 2013, 8:59pm (UTC -5)
I certainly don't think anyone "excuses" Jake or "laughs off" his actions. But what are they supposed to do? Court martial him for not behaving like a Starfleet officer? How would you act in that situation? Can anyone say?

Otherwise, I really liked the way the medical team characters were written and performed. As a resident myself, I thought their casual cynical humour pretty realistic and I really identified with how they went about their work.
Frank Wallace
Tue, Jul 9, 2013, 2:32pm (UTC -5)
Why would anyone need to excuse him? The reason the episode works is because the lead in this episode ISN'T as heroic and calm under pressure as the normal TV star is. Sisko sails through this kind of situation, like any action man captain would. The whole idea that cowardice and courage are seperated by a fine line is an interesting one, and we rarely see this side of it.
Elizabeth Palladino
Sat, Jul 20, 2013, 9:51pm (UTC -5)
I agree with Josh. I'm in healthcare, too, and the staff in crisis mode was very realistic. The gallows humor may have bothered Jake, but healthcare workers do use that kind of joking to defuse tension. We wouldn't do it in front of the patients or family, of course. In terms of the rating, I'm watching DS9 in order, season by season--I've never seen it before--and I would also give this episode four stars.
Take it easy
Mon, Jul 22, 2013, 12:53am (UTC -5)
"why I watch DS9—a real story, with real people, real problems, and real reactions."

It was hilarious, I didn't know Odo, Jadxia, Worf, Quark, etc are real people (I misunderstood they were scifi characters). And problems like shape shifting race trying to attack federation using genetically engineered race are very real, aren't they?

This episode can very well be any human drama series about war and doesn't need star trek for that. If you are watching star trek for these kind of stories, I don't know what to watch for scifi stories? CSI: Miami?
Take it easy
Mon, Jul 22, 2013, 12:55am (UTC -5)
@Nick P: "It's OK you almost killed Bashir, likely did kill a couple people, and embarrased starfleet Jake, you are a kid writer!!!!"

How did he almost kill Bashir? How did he (likely) kill a couple people? How did he embarass starfleet?
Fri, Jul 26, 2013, 4:54pm (UTC -5)
I always find it funny whenever I see people in the comments of these reviews trying to tear apart beloved episodes by nitpicking it into oblivion. If you nitpick the entire thing you'll miss the point.

Also, DS9 the weakest Trek? Seriously? You'd be pretty hard pressed to be weaker than ENT, VOY, and TOS. TNG is strong as well, but DS9 has the strongest overall story and setting and characters. I think people are jealous of how good DS9 actually is. Either that or they don't like the darker tone and themes and realism of the show.
Fri, Jul 26, 2013, 5:31pm (UTC -5)
You see, this is exactly what I'm always talking about...

"DS9 was so dark and cool! You're all just jealous!"

Cry me a river. Dark /= Good.
Fri, Jul 26, 2013, 7:54pm (UTC -5)
"Dark /= Good."

True, but in this case it does. DS9 is like the refreshing blast of air into the stale and predictable Star Trek universe.
Sun, Aug 4, 2013, 6:00am (UTC -5)
Wow, so many people seem to be missing the point of the episode.

DS9 isn't good because it's darker or grittier, it's good because it's mature and nuanced.

The problem with TNG, especially the early seasons, is that it treated future humans like they're just biologically better than people today, like they have some kind of morality gene or an extra lobe in their brain that makes them more ethical and moral.

DS9 on the other hand, puts forth the crazy notion that people in the future are better because society and culture have become better. People are raised to be more moral and ethical and they've learned to be better.

That's a major point of this episode. Jake acknowledges the fact that he has flaws and vulnerabilities, that recognition allows him to learn to become a better person.
Wed, Aug 14, 2013, 1:40pm (UTC -5)
Watched this again last night. It's a strong episode. But there's something that's always bugged me about the way Star Trek handles the issue of ground troops.

Why, exactly, would the Klingons use ground troops here? The only reason would be to a) take prisoners or b) capture facilities. The only facility we see on the planet is the hospital, and I can't imagine the Klingons would care about that. So, were they trying to take prisoners? Sure doesn't seem like they were.

Now, in some cases, ground troops would be necessary -- like in the seventh-season episode with the Dominion communication array. Starfleet wanted to unlock its secrets and the Dominion wanted to recapture it.

But here, wouldn't the Klingons have been better served by simply attacking the Federation colony from orbit and destroying it? If they really were set on capturing the planet, I'm sure they could have built new facilities elsewhere (i.e. not where the destroyed Federation settlement would have been).

I know Klingons like fighting hand to hand and all that and I could see someone making the argument about an orbital bombardment being dishonorable. But they're attacking civilians here, so I'm not sure there's that much of a difference. And even if Klingons are traditional, they don't seem particularly stupid about how they use their resources.

Again, I see why ground troops would be necessary in some ways in the Star Trek universe. But not in this episode.
Fri, Sep 20, 2013, 6:05am (UTC -5)
For all its strengths, elements of this episode are too dramatically dishonest. Firstly, the show takes the easy way out by having Jake ultimately be the hero of the hour and save everyone by staying behind and inadvertently causing the cave-in by blindly firing his phaser over his shoulder. Why didn't anyone else think of blocking the entrance in some way? It should have been obvious. Given Jake's established propensity to run, there's no dramatic reason for him to stay behind cowering under a desk when he should have been escaping with the others, and on the basis of his earlier behavior would have been.

Secondly, far too many cliches are employed during Jake's abandonment of Bashir. The runabout was less than a kilometre from the settlement - in other words, within sight - so there should have been no way for him to get lost, which he only does for dramatic reasons. Him stumbling over an embankment and landing directly on top of a dead Klingon in a rather stagy manner was the first cliche, about as subtle as a sledgehammer, but relatively forgiveable in isolation. Then Jake stumbles over another embankment and just happens to find an embittered Federation soldier in the process of melodramatically dying while spouting war movie cliches. That scene didn't ring true for me at all.

It's a shame, because all of the rest of the episode - Jake's narration, the events in the settlement, his interactions with the guy who shot his own leg, his unease at the medical humour, his understanding of the pointlessness of the conflict and his writing-up of the story and showing it to his father - work very well. If dramatically contrived elements of the plot like the cave-in and the dying soldier had been avoided or handled differently, it'd have really worked in the episode's favour.
Thu, Oct 24, 2013, 9:15pm (UTC -5)
I agree with the poster above. This was a decent episode but I wasn't feeling the acting and the events were not very believable.

Fri, Jan 17, 2014, 5:01pm (UTC -5)
Jammer writes :

"The beauty of Jake's character is that it's the one most people in the audience will identify with."

I think this sentiment says something very true about this series, Star Trek and television in general. Many are fond of calling classic Trek "preachy" and aloof. People are made uncomfortable by the idea of humans more evolved than ourselves populating the screen, telling us that we could be better than we are. At the same time, many are comforted by the presence of a "relatable" character like Jake whose psychology, intelligence and emotionalism are indistinguishable from most of our own, that our faults are excusable because they are common.

In spite of this being another bullet point on the laundry list that is the insult catalogue DS9 became to the Star Trek franchise, the general ideas of this episode were okay; unlike "The Siege of ARR90201...whatever", the hospital situation is more or less a reasonable use of the war scenario with the Klingons. Conversely, the payoff of 2 Klingons stupidly being crushed to death by foam boulders pales in visual execution next to the aforementioned episode's cinematography. I would consider the fact that Jake did actually kill two people to be at least a little relevant to the issue of his dealing with war and death. I mean, seeing people mutilated causes him to vomit, but killing people doesn't get a line of dialogue? Not an horrendous oversight, but shouldn't something like this warrant a less-than-perfect score here? As usual, I find Lofton's acting to be sub-par, but at least I'm used to it now.
Wed, Jan 29, 2014, 5:49pm (UTC -5)
Would someone be offended if I said the episode was really, really boring? The themes were too obvious, and the acting was just meh. I will say, however, that the medical staff were pretty excellent in how they handled their situation.
Tue, Feb 4, 2014, 12:09am (UTC -5)
I love how judging by the comments here you'd think everyone's a veterant soldier. "Omg hes like totally a coward!!" - I almost feel like I'm on world net daily...

I liked that episode, even if the themes were a bit obvious, the execution was great. In particular: the fact Jake didn't pick up a gun to kill Klingons but just shot in the dark, out of despair - that felt real (and took courage for the writers, since lots of viewers prefer to identify with manly action men and heroes). I like also how you get a better appreciation for other ST characters: by seeing it all from Jake's point of view, we do finally see others like Bashir and Sisko as adults... And as soldiers. They're not civilians, they face these situations all the time, and Jake realises that it's not like being a civilian on a ship or station.

Anyway, an effective episode. Sorry the world net daily commenters feel it's too anti-war: apparently watching a show that promotes peace is ok as long as it doesn't say why.
Wed, Feb 5, 2014, 8:19pm (UTC -5)
@Jons, spot on. World Net Daily.

It is insanely baffling that anyone would be offended by "anti-war" sentiment.

DS9 is by far the most coherent and nuanced Trek. I love TNG, and like the others, but none are remotely as ambitious in its risk taking. As far as the soldier not being Starfleet material, what you see on those ships are likely the best of the best. Here we are shown that the dirty work still has to be done in times of war by somebody. Is a front line soldier that is dying after fighting a vicious enemy supposed to be altruistic and philosophical in his last minutes. Give me a break. Just silly.
Wed, Feb 26, 2014, 12:54am (UTC -5)
Their was nothing to indicate that Jake knew he killed those two Klingons. Sure he knew they were there. But at the end he was firing wildly and inadvertently caused a cave-in. Seems reasonable to assume that to his knowledge the Klingons escaped back the way they came. In that case, I don't see that particular point worth bringing up in the episode. However, I do agree it would have been an interesting idea to delve into though had the scene been tweaked a bit. Hypothetically it could have brought up some great plotting.

This is one of those episodes, for me anyway, that, while great, seemed a little off execution-wise. Perhaps this is one of those that could have been better suited as a two-parter with many of the aspects given more time and a chance to breathe.

There's a wonderful story here, though. War is hell and it affects people differently based on their own lives. It's great to see this within the context of the Star Trek universe, especially. At least, if nothing else, for the fact that it can change you deeply. No matter how far you've come as a person. No matter your circumstances. Whether Federation civilian, Starfleet officer, wounded and dying captain, or a fresh faced soldier. This shit sucks.

I read a comment above regarding Star Trek doing a war story as akin to CSI doing a sci-fi story. That no one watches Star Trek for that. Star Trek and many other sci-fi stories like it include various aspects of life whether it be exploration, legal issues, religion, politics, sex, discrimination, war, romance, etc etc. CSI is specific unto itself as an investigative police procedural. The analogy is incorrect, though I think I see where you're coming from.

I'm assuming here the issue stems from this particular story being told is not one that's wanted within the context of Star Trek. I don't find fault in that whatsoever. As a fellow fan I, of course, would hope that you would like it. But if it's a turn-off then its a turn-off and not everyone likes the same thing.

I'm happy there's a huge playground to play in in the ST universe. All of it ties in together. Some want the more outside-looking-in aspects of the other series and some want the more internal aspects of this one. I happen to enjoy them all. I found a lot of great stories in every ST series. DS9 happens to be a personal favorite because of what I have found to be an overall better consistency in quality of episodes.

This particular ep though is a stand-out albeit a shaky one execution-wise. Just barely enough so to make it miss being a classic in my mind.

3.5 stars
Sat, Mar 29, 2014, 8:00pm (UTC -5)
Great ep. 4 Stars all the way. But I just wanted to mention 2 moments that seemed to be forgotten.

The scene where Dax is telling Sisko about one of her past host children being ill was very affecting. Great acting job by Terry.

The scene where Quark tells Kira and Dax that pregnancy is considered a rental back on his homeworld has to be one of the most random LOL moments I've ever seen on any show.
Mon, Mar 31, 2014, 1:05am (UTC -5)
It's essentially Corporal Fife's story from James Jones' "The Thin Red Line." Not a bad take at all, other than the somewhat wooden script and action for the background characters. You can't improve on great material, you can just hope to do it justice.
Mon, Jul 7, 2014, 12:52am (UTC -5)
Alex I like that you mentioned the Quark comment about pregnancy being a rental. Lol

The problem with this episode is Jake. Now I know why they didn't send him to starfleet. The kid can't act and he comes off as such a coward in this episode. He thinks everything is a story and then is surprised when things get real. I absolutely love Bashir's expression at the end when he is reading jakes story. You would think the writers would make him react like Sisko did all proud of jake. But Bashir looks up from the pad, thinks about it and realizes jake left him there to die and his expression says WTF?? Lol. Watch that last scene again if you don't know what I'm talking about
Mon, Jul 21, 2014, 7:23pm (UTC -5)
What bothered me was that he hid under a table instead of helping evacuate. I was not expecting him to fight, only help everybody else carry the wounded, something he had shown he was capable of earlier. instead he hid under a table while waiting for the Klingons to arrive. While I can't vouch at all for a combat experience, I know that when I am nervous or scared, actively doing something helps relieve those feelings.
Thu, Aug 7, 2014, 2:31pm (UTC -5)
@ Snitch

"Jake comes across as a sheltered kid that is a coward"

Well... he's sure as hell sheltered and this episode pretty much proved he is a coward.

If the shoe fits...

I didn't think the acting from Bashir and Jake was all that god-awful in this one. It was the happy-go-lucky "other" that don't seem to react to the war going on around them. Ensign 'shoot myself in the foot' was annoying and Burke was a little over the top. Jake does a pretty good "scared shitless" :-)

"JAKE: You put yourself into dangerous situations all the time.
BASHIR: Maybe, but that's not the same as putting you into one."

**** The End **** (or it should have been)

I can't believe Sisko didn't string Bashir up for this one. This was a choice to put his son in harms way. Then Sisko himself runs after him? 2 wrongs make a right?

Kira: ADM (whoever), Captain Sisko was killed today sir.
ADM: What? How?
Kira: He was killed by the Klingons on Ajilon Prime.
ADM: I didn't send him there, what the hell...
Kira: He went after his son Jake sir.
ADM: What the hell was Jake doing in a war zone?
Kira: LT Bashir took him there sir...
ADM: Why the frak was HE .... That genetically.... (grumble) ... never mind...

I viewed this episode as a justification episode for Jake not wanting to enter Star Fleet.

Not as bad as some grade here, but not a 4 star episode by any stretch.

2.5 stars (average episode)
Wed, Feb 4, 2015, 7:23am (UTC -5)
Saw this on DVD yesterday. What I found disappointing is that Jake never opened up and spewed out what he was feeling. There was an opportunity there for some really emotional and powerful dialogue (well, at least to whatever extent Cirroc Lofton could take it), but instead he blows off Bashir completely and the only indication that he expressed his thoughts to his father was the line that Sisko had read what Jake wrote. The voiceovers were a joke -- cliches from the First-Year Creative Writing Student's Handbook delivered as though they were being read off a cue card. I wonder whether it's that the writer's couldn't come up with adequate dialogue, just didn't want to go there, or thought it would be wasted with Lofton's delivery, but it was an opportunity lost.
Fri, Mar 13, 2015, 6:06pm (UTC -5)
Seems most of the critics on this thread were never teenagers scared to death of growing up. That's what happens here Jake gets to grow up. It's a great nuanced and gritty episode, not the sanitised sterile TNG all's well BS. Sometimes I feel DS9 is wasted on literal minded Trekkies.
Mon, Mar 16, 2015, 5:28am (UTC -5)
People who criticize Jake for running and being scared have never been even close to a war-zone, let alone a firefight. The idea that YOU would never have run, then felt ashamed about it after is ridiculous. It takes prolonged, intensive training to prepare anybody for that sort of situation, to install discipline
(soldiers, medics and the like).
Thu, Apr 23, 2015, 5:26am (UTC -5)
Sorry, but it was too manipulative for my taste. If Bashir had died Jake's self-disgust would have carried more weight. Or if he had known about Jake's actions (and naturally forgiven him), it would have given their scene an interesting edge. As it was Lofton's meltdown in front of the nurses seemed closer to a teenage strop than PTSD. The trite benediction at the end, and Lofton's cheesy smile, just seemed to chrystalise my dislike. Ahh poor Jake, now everything will be fine. Not in the same league as Duet and the Wire. There I really sense emotional depth.
Wed, Oct 7, 2015, 4:47pm (UTC -5)
Jeez, are these comments made by 15-year-olds?

YES, Jake is a spoiled child. YES, he's a coward. That is the FUCKING POINT of this episode. And one it's not that subtly bringing across. Jake wanted to experience drama because in his spoiled little mind he thought that's what would make him a writer. He is naive. And he got what he wished for.

If you can't handle a protagonist not acting the way you (think/dream/wish) you would act, you have some growing up to do.
Good stories aren't about Mary Sues, they are about real people acting in a real way. And human behavior has quite a spectrum to it. Just because Jake's dad is Mr. Fantastic - diplomat, war strategist, ship combat tactician, spec ops, Bajoran lightship builder, tinkerer of the Defiant's systems - doesn't mean Jake has to be all that.
Even in the 24th century and even in Gene Roddenberry's "vision" humans must be sub-fantastic sometimes.
Sun, Nov 8, 2015, 9:02pm (UTC -5)
I don't think it's fair to penalize DS9 for daring to be more than just a copy of TNG. It's a different show with a different tone, and it does stand on its own.

That said, I have no problems with this episode thematically, but the acting simply didn't carry the script. I found myself relating to Jake when he was gripped by fear and attempting to run away. I did end up laughing at the Klingon's overacting when being hit by the rocks it looked so ridiculous (Ie. it was bad to the point I felt jolted out of the story). Also, that final shot of Jake smiling was just plain awkward.
Thu, Dec 17, 2015, 7:46pm (UTC -5)
When I first saw this episode I thought it took courage for the writers to show one of their regular characters falling short of the superhuman ideal. Many of the comments here show that the writers were indeed brave; many of you over-estimate the courage you would show in such a situation.

I think I'd give the episode 3 stars, maybe 3.5. The regular actors did very well, but some of the guest actors gave large, theatrical performances when the show required more intimate, naturalistic acting choices. I also think the dialogue could have been tightened or re-worked in some places.

Still, a strong episode. DS9 was the Star Trek that had the most war, but it does a good job of showing many of the negative consequences of war. It's interesting that DS9 the series starts off showing us the problems that follow a war (rebuilding a society, war-orphans, etc.) before getting around to showing problems that occur while a war is being fought.
William B
Sat, Jan 2, 2016, 4:48pm (UTC -5)
Jake Sisko, a young untested writing talent, is given the chance to write a profile on one of the foremost doctors of his generation, the youngest Carrington nominee of all time. However, he quickly runs into the problem that he finds science, medicine, and Bashir personally totally boring. People don't care about those things -- they care about life and death! Things they can relate to, like fighting in a war zone is something that Jake can relate to. Like many young aspiring journalists and novelists, Jake sees the opportunity to become Hemingway: he can live through the gritty reality and make beautiful art that will touch people's lives. Underpinning his initial position here are a number of assumptions, which the episode does knock down one by one:

1. He assumes that because he finds Bashir's prattling boring, that there is nothing interesting for him to write about. One of the key problems with popular science writing is failing to recognize that it actually takes work to translate very interesting ideas, to de-jargonize them while maintaining the essential. We are sympathetic here, because Bashir can be obnoxious and dull, but we also know that Bashir has some stories of real drama to tell ("The Quickening," if nothing else). I think the issue here is that Jake is unwilling to try to be interested in the subject, but wants the story to grab him.
2. You can only write about things that are "real," and that "really happen" to you, as if fiction or mythology or imagination have no role. The only way to engage the reader is to experience horrific events and then transcribe them.
3. Because it is exciting to read about difficult, life-and-death situations, and because those are immediately engaging and relatable to read about, Jake believes that actually being in a difficult, life-or-death situation will be exciting (in the positive senses only), engaging and, indeed, as easy to deal with emotionally on the battlefield as it is as a reader.
4. Because he plans to write a story about his experiences in the battle, he assumes that he will naturally discover narrative order in the events themselves. This is the big one -- throughout the episode, Jake narrates on what is happening right now, and presents it in a way that makes the war in general and his actions in particular comprehensible as an emotionally engaging series of events, with a "point." 1-3 are in some ways all part of the problem, but this one is I think the big lesson: Jake imagines that because he is a storyteller, the world is a story, and if he can only find his "in" to the narrative he will be able to make sense of the situation he is in, and ultimately his own cowardice.

Lest it seems like I'm being harsh on Jake, these are pretty common issues for teenagers to have. The biblical allusion in the episode's title, in this case, is another attack on the idea that there is a fundamental order to the universe, wherein virtue, and only virtue, is rewarded: "I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all." (Ecc. 9:11, KJV.) To some extent, I feel like Jake should have had some recognition of the precariousness of his life, some idea of his mortality, more than most teenagers; he makes reference in the episode to feeling like his father was always there to protect him, which does make some sense, but, you know, his mother died, when Jake was not all *that* young. Anyway. I don't think that Lofton is all that great in this episode, but I think that the somewhat flat, often funny and usually off-putting voice-overs are both a weakness and a strength. Jake's constantly existing at a step removed from the action comes across in Lofton's not-that-convincing delivery, which ends up reinforcing the idea that Jake is not just in over his head in a generic way, but in over his head in attempting to find the storytelling narrative of his experiences, and failing because not only is war hell but it's also filled with events that are senseless. That is part of why I also don't mind the basic idea that Jake "saves the day" accidentally, and thus is in some senses let off the hook. What Jake really wanted was the opportunity to prove himself heroic as a direct consequence of his running away, as if he was "meant to" find Burke. Jake actually is given an out, then -- he has a perfect opportunity to spin the narrative as being a series of events leading to his saving the day, but he chooses to be honest with himself instead, which (hopefully) finds a greater virtue. Jake is a coward in battle, but he can be brave enough to be an honest storyteller.

The execution of the cave-in with the Klingons is extremely silly, as are a number of other events in the episode. The way Jake just stumbles onto a bunch of one-scene characters before getting back to Bashir feels very staged. Many of the one-episode players also seem like phony types out of central casting -- Burke the hardened ARGHGGH soldier, the ensign who shot his own foot who immediately broke into confessions with Jake. The M*A*S*H-style medics were okay, but I didn't love them, either. All of which is to say that I was kicked out of the episode on the basis of execution at a few points, though I generally thought the ideas were fine. As an episode about Jake's coming of age, I think it's not actually exceptional, but is decent and touching. A solid 3 stars from me.
Diamond Dave
Sun, Jan 17, 2016, 3:11pm (UTC -5)
The bleakest outlook of any Trek episode yet? When the medics indulge in the blackest of black humour in discussing whether it's better to be killed by a Klingon disruptor ("like being burned alive") or decapitated ("the last thing you see is your headless corpse") you know this isn't standard fare.

What this does well is toss aside the normal stories of duty, courage and self sacrifice that we see all the characters exhibiting every week and expose the underbelly of fear that at least one character is feeling. I've always felt that this was a ballsy move, and yet totally in keeping with Jake's character development.

What it does less well is in throwing open again the Big Book of War Cliches in reaching these conclusions. And the ending comes perilously close to throwing away all the good work earlier by making Jake a (albeit accidental) hero. At least the script recognises that he was just doing what he needed to survive. But one wonders if that element was needed to rehabilitate Jake just a bit in the eyes of the audience. 3 stars.
Sat, Mar 12, 2016, 7:41pm (UTC -5)
War is hell, there is no way to make it nice and "peaceful".

DS9 did its best rendition of Apocalypse Now, and in my view this is one of the best Star Trek episodes ever made. Some may think of it as manipulative or hate how cowardly Jake was, but it gave us realistic expectations of war without apology or moralizing on which side is better. This was Star Trek's War Movie moment before the Dominion War.

4 Stars is not enough for a classic
Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 1:51am (UTC -5)
Wow! I remember thinking that this episode was strong, but not this strong. "...Nor the Battle to the Strong" is indeed one of "Deep Space Nine's" finest hours. As a show focused on the theme of "war is hell", it is (I'm just going to say it) much better than the much beloved "The Siege of AR-558" from Season Seven. While both episodes rely heavily on "war is hell" cliches (notably the stereotypical "ARRRGGG" solider Jake stumbles upon and the M*A*S*H style medics), this episode downplays them much more than the later one.

I suppose I could write paragraph after paragraph on what is so good about the episode, but I'll stick with just the top two things that stand out for me. 1.) Combat is not glorified in any way, shape or form. Star Trek has always focused on the "heroes" doing rather heroic things. Whenever they get into combat it's not exactly glorified but it's not exactly shown as the barbaric act it truly is. Violence on Trek is always fairly stylized. There's nothing wrong with stylized violence in media per se - I love a good late-80s/early-90s stylized action movie as much as the next guy. But when trying to show combat in a more realistic way, Trek often falls short. Not so here! Here we get the absolutely crucial message that war and direct combat is not some fun little pursuit, it's not some proving ground for heroes, it's not something that can and should be used to separate the weak from the strong. It's brutal, it's unforgiving, it's messy and it's simply downright terrible (for everyone involved). There may be "necessary" wars. But there are never any "good" ones. The episode also takes two people (Jake and the solider who shot his own foot) who aren't traditionally "heroic" and presents them as deserving of compassion, sympathy and understanding. Nicely done! 2.) "...Nor the Battle to the Strong" takes the one main cast member who has been given the least amount of development and actually uses him in an extremely effective way that is fully in keeping with his character. Compare the use of Jake "as a writer" here to how that concept was utilized in "The Muse" and the differences are stark. By putting Jake is an Ernest Hemingway style war story it not only allows him to have some magnificent character growth but takes his occupation as a journalist/writer seriously (instead of having an absurd space vampire suck out his writing abilities).

If I wanted to nitpick the episode I suppose I could bring the score down somewhat. Things like the Klingons breaking the ceasefire seemingly for no reason only to then suddenly reinstate it also for no apparent reason, the cliched guest characters and the silliness of Jake somehow surviving a cave he causes himself are all weaknesses. But, the good vastly outweighs the bad. Jammer said it best - this episode is "a real story, with real people, real problems, and real reactions." And real consequences - it would have been so easy to just hit the reset button hard once Sisko and Bashir find Jake alive in the rubble, but the episode refuses to do that and instead has the wonderful coda of Bashir and Sisko learning the truth about what Jake did. Bravo!

Tue, Jul 12, 2016, 4:47pm (UTC -5)
As the episode began I had serious concerns. It seemed like a really poor episode of M*A*S*H. But as it continued there was a tremendously logical coherence to the story itself that is rare in DS9.

Unlike others, though, I did dislike the ending and I thought it did cheat -- maybe because of Cirroc Lofton's inability to act. His grin because his daddy liked his story was completely wrong. A more realistic ending would have been that Sisko read his story, liked it, told Jake he was brave for writing it -- and then the camera pans to Jake's face and you see that he feels that Sisko has missed the point of the story, which is that he is NOT brave and that the courage to write honestly about himself does not undo his cowardice in leaving Bashir behind to die. To say otherwise misses the point and is insulting to him as a writer.
Tue, Jul 12, 2016, 9:21pm (UTC -5)
@Quark - I kind of took his smile differently. Relief that his father wasn't disgusted with him.
Peter G.
Tue, Jul 12, 2016, 10:24pm (UTC -5)
Yeah. I think the moral is that bravery =/= valor. You can be scared, and even cowardly, and yet own up to that and be who you are without being ashamed.

DS9 seems to me a repeated effort in showing imperfect characters who come to grips with their imperfection and are ok with it. They realize they don't need to pretend to be perfect to still be worthy. We see it with pretty much the entire cast, sooner or later, and the 'villains' of the series are the ones who cannot own up to their imperfections. It's not that they have them, but that they are self-deluded about them. I think most of the audience would have been willing to forgive even Kai Winn, for instance, in her scene of contrition with Kira, if she had the guts to stick with what she admitted.

Sisko is at the forefront of this, being someone who has terrible anger, and difficulty with forgiveness (Picard in Emissary, Eddington), and a penchant for obsession, would be the one to understand when Jake comes to him with an admission of being a flawed person. Welcome to the club, would be the thought. This is one reason, among others, I don't see him as a messianic figure at all but rather as someone down in the muck with everyone else, struggling.
David Pirte
Sat, Nov 19, 2016, 1:36pm (UTC -5)
Christ this was grim. Saving Private Ryan meets The Red Badge of Courage.

But it was darn good TV.
Fri, Dec 9, 2016, 2:36pm (UTC -5)
I don't care for Jake-centric episodes much anyway, but the ending here felt all wrong, with the "all is well, see you next week for more fun and hi-jinks" moment of Daddy hugging Jake who has that simpleminded smile on his face. As Robro noted above, that was absolutely the wrong tone for an episode that tried to explore the internal struggle between fear and duty. I've never been on a battlefield. I've never been in a situation where I had a choice between following my conscience or knowing I might lose my life. And I wonder what I would do in those circumstances. So while I liked the premise of the story, the execution was leaden and the ending was all wrong.
Paul Allen
Mon, Dec 26, 2016, 9:50am (UTC -5)
Tedious episode, Jake was woeful. Such an uninteresting character, especially here. Was set up for a four star episode! One from me.
Tue, Dec 27, 2016, 6:06pm (UTC -5)
It's a little unsubtle, stagy and didactic at times (which has more to do with the guest casting than the script), and season 7's AR-558/Paper Moon are a superior take on a similar theme, but this episode deserves at least 3.5 for its ambition, tone, unique point of view, and the fact it's a great Jake episode.
Trek fan
Mon, Jan 9, 2017, 11:11pm (UTC -5)
Fresh? Four stars? No way! Maybe having a "war episode" is fresh to Star Trek at this point in the franchise, but this slow and talky exposition of war movie cliches is hardly fresh to anyone who has seen classic war films like "Patton" or read "The Red Badge of Courage." And throw in a little bit of "MASH." Unfortunately, from what I can tell, the "interminably dull war episode with Really Self-Important Themes" is one of the worst recurring story themes on DS9 from this point forward. Gag. I'll give this episode 2 stars because it's well-done in its plodding way, but I think it's average at best, and likely to put casual viewers to sleep.
Lt. Yarko
Fri, Mar 31, 2017, 5:54pm (UTC -5)
Yes. Jake's acting wasn't stellar but also wasn't terrible. Julian's acting was a bit awkward but again not terrible. The biggest problem with this episode was that it was overwritten. One of the commenters above said that the episode tried too hard, and that pretty much nails it. I just felt like the writers are constantly beating me over the head with what they were trying to convey at every turn. If they could have toned down the writing a bit this would have been a great war episode. I give it three stars because I was impressed with Mr. Lofton's acting, which, over time, has definitely Improved.
Mon, Apr 10, 2017, 9:38am (UTC -5)
Though DS9 is one of the less likable series of trek to me (only TOS ranks lower)

I agree this is a good episode, in the sense it does invoke an emotional reaction in the audience.

However as I tend to project myself upon a character, I find myself not able to relate to jake.
-When I was bullied I did ran away, that tells me I do not LIKE fights when sober.
*but when I was responsible to protect somebody (I could run away but not a friend with x legs I was with and they would have been a serious treath to him) I made a stand and some sort of bloodlust takes hold of me in such situations.. I have been known to break bones, and cause other serious harm in such situation.
*and I ALWAYS kept a clear head.. I am not fearless I know what it is to lose your musclepower to fear, but even in such situation my mind kept calm, and I often CHOOSE to stand or run, calmly and analitical.
*I was affraid to dive as a kid, one cannot dive when paniced, I had to be able to swim 200m underwater for my swimming lessons.. somehow I overcame that fear (about a full minute of air, when calm headed gives plenty of time to get to safely when underwater) it extended my normal calm headedness even further.. to the point after a while I stopt running alltogether, and never let anybody walk over me again.
*sure I may have been hit, hurt but sure the bullies did not get away with it without scars either.. I may have lost most those fights.. because I could beat the main bully, but once he started loosing the 1 on 1 honourable fight, against their expectations, the entire gang of about 20 kids often 5-10 years older than me would join in.. and nobody can beat 20 kids.. no matter how strong and willfull you are. It did not matter, for even when loosing that fight the bullies would stop.

From that I learned that I am not fearless, but have a very strong will, always have, and by training can become more battleharded, I am alien to losing control.
As such I would NEVER have ran away like jake did.. that would make the chance you get hit only greater... and you had a friend relying on you, both things would have made me push on.

In the cave, yes I would have picked up that rifle... but I would have stood up and fight.. sure I might have lost.. but heh logic dictates 2 trained veteran warriors, 1 18yo unskilled boy.. you're dead anyway.. in such situations racial superiority feelings take over.. and a kind of bloodlust that would not missttand a klingon.. though void of any honour... at such a point I not care for my life or anything.. only to take as many of the badguys with me as I can..

So if I were in this store.. I would not have run, we would have gotten that generator together... and I would go out in a blaze shouting homo superior, Terran Prime, forever and alike things... taking probably both klingons out with me..
-it is like they say.. brave man do not survive a conflict, cowards do.

All that aside I would have liked jake to at least OVERCOME his fear, having fear is one thing.. but bravery is not not having fear, it is standing your ground regardsless of it, to not succomb to it, but stand your ground by willpower alone.
Sun, May 7, 2017, 9:14pm (UTC -5)
Great episode for DS9. The story is a bit cliche'd, but it worked for me. Cirroc Lofton did a solid job.

No Keiko. No Worf. Minimum Sisko over-acting. Coincidence?
Thu, Jun 15, 2017, 5:06pm (UTC -5)
Having read the review, I've to say I mostly agree with it. For good or bad it was an intense and provocative episode. Having read some of the comments where Jake is being described as annoying, a coward, etc. I have to say that while imho he didn't exactly make the best choices those are a bit harsh. Isn't calling some one who can't be expected to behave like a trained and experienced soldier would a coward a bit cowardly in itself? Not, that I think that Jake deserved too much praise either. Excessive praise isn't good either. Fortunately I myself haven't been in a situation as serious as Jake. Would I be as honest or stick with the initial lie of having been knocked out? Okay, enough rambling... :-)
Thu, Jul 13, 2017, 4:01pm (UTC -5)
Three years ago, this was one of the first episodes I watched when I finally woke up and decided to give Deep Space Nine a chance. (to be fair, I was only 10 years old when it premiered, and I was much more loyal to the space-traveling exploits of TNG and then Voyager) Man, what a way to start!

There are better episodes of DS9 from a writing sense, but I think this one remains my favorite. Never before had an episode of Star Trek exposed me to situations in which I would've reacted the same way the main character reacts. As terrific as the Trek universe is depicted, it also shows far too much of people putting their lives on the line without giving it a second thought. "Nor the Battle..." turns that aspect on its head. Jake is exactly what many of us would be in that situation - completely overwhelmed by the reality of warfare and running as fast as we could from our own mortality. I personally can relate to Jake on two levels here as well since like him, I'm a writer.

Apart from Jake, I realized during the cross-faded scenes of wounded being carried into the hospital that I suddenly had to remind myself that I was watching Star Trek. This episode effectively ventures away from the status quo of Trek and even DS9 in so many ways.

When I was a kid, I fantasized about working aboard a Federation starship, but as adult, I respond much better to content to which I can relate. "Nor the Battle..." does that better that any other Star Trek series episode.
Sun, Jul 16, 2017, 1:56am (UTC -5)
Hello Everyone!


Well said. I think many of us would like to believe we'd keep a clear head when everything is hitting the fan, but the reality is many of us would run from the shelling. I mean, how is that bad? Get out of there! There was no real cover, and I think the choices were to find a hole, get moving, or die.

Back when I first saw this, I also thought along the same lines as Jake, that he'd run so he could find someone and save them. To have that soldier tell him things don't work out that way in real life, while puking up his guts, made it more poignant for me. I could not remember that happening before in ST, anywhere.

Quite an episode...

Regards... RT

P.S.: I've wondered before why the folks don't sweep their beam weapons back and forth when it gets bad. They shoot the phasers as if they need to hit a practice target, or as if it is a pulse weapon. I realized this on another page that the only time I've seen a phaser sweep back-and-forth was when Jake was firing blindly and hitting the ceiling. They use them as if they were single-shot, instead of using them as a machine gun...
Thu, Aug 10, 2017, 11:36pm (UTC -5)
I found this to be quite boring. It employed all the usual war cliches and I've seen them employed in far more realistic and gripping ways than in this episode. And the non-jake stuff was pure filler. Must every scene with Kira be about some mundane quirk about her pregnancy be it sneezing or in this instance finding her a caffeine substitute. 2 stars
Thu, Aug 31, 2017, 3:22pm (UTC -5)
Excellent episode. I think Lofton does a great job portraying Jake having no experience in war and being caught in basically a MASH under attack. He's a very underrated actor -- he made "The Visitor" the poignantly wonderful episode that it is and here he becomes somebody that is easy to identify with. Great portrayal of fear, guilt, anger.

The guest actors here were so-so and there were the usual war cliches like the guy shooting himself in the foot -- the real coward -- then there's Bashir's heroic act of surviving the shelling and getting the generator, and Jake meeting the dying soldier who offers him a nugget of wisdom about courage/cowardice that eats away at him. It's all part of Jake's "education" and even if they are the usual cliches, they work well here. Nobody's going to do a totally original war episode anymore.

As for the ending with Jake sealing off the entrance by pure luck, that's just what it is. And then the Defiant arrives and miraculously there's a ceasefire -- it wraps up pretty quickly, but I imagine there must be ramifications in upcoming episodes. I just thought that it was a bit inconsistent with the way the episode had been building. Maybe something like the Defiant beaming Jake out of there while being shot at by the Klingons... I would have liked to have more background on why the Klingon attack happened in the first place.

3.5 stars for "Nor the Battle to the Strong" -- really effective war episode seen through Jake's eyes. Lofton delivers a very strong performance nearly at the level of "The Visitor". There were some decent scenes with Ben Sisko and his concern for Jake as well, but the episode really did make me think of MASH, which is such a great show.
Tue, Sep 5, 2017, 7:35am (UTC -5)
In spite of the acting, this story hat a good theme. Jake once decided not to go in is fathers footsteps. Here is the explanation why. I also believe that this is a consequence of the Roddenbery universe. War is not good. Even if i liked the The Siege of AR-558 because of it's heroism I liked this episode beaus Jake shows that there are other qualities of mankind then being a good soldier. Among them empathy, which he shows in the scene with the self injured soldier.
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 4:48pm (UTC -5)
4 stars? Madness. I'm watching it now, but it's so boring, so poorly acted, so cliched that I literally can't watch it. The voice-over with Jake doesn't work, the responses to the attack are all too calculated. The scenes in the compound are overdone and theatrical. It just stinks. Not even one star. Next!
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 5:00pm (UTC -5)
Thank God this pile of shit is over. I was starting to get annoyed with Elliot but I'm with him on this one. It's just not SF. These are all themes of the 21st century. And poorly executed at that. I was hopeful when i started watching DS9 but where the other shows got better (TNG and Voyager) this one just gets worse and worse. Season 4 had a few episodes, but most of it sucked. Season 5 seems to continue that line. Even an episode with Janeway and Da Vinci is better than this heap of garbage.
Tue, Jun 12, 2018, 10:36pm (UTC -5)
I wouldn't be too harsh on this episode. It was well-written, well-directed, and told a Trek war story from a unique POV. Its one downside is the acting of Lofton, but I'm not going to let that detract from a good story, which is what Star Trek has always been about. Jake was never meant to be a main character carrying a story, however Lofton did an okay job in this episode (certainly better than Wheaton would have). Strong story, strong directing, mediocre acting from one character (the supporting roles were good)... I would give it 3.5 stars.
Sun, Jul 1, 2018, 8:01pm (UTC -5)
Okay, first, if anyone should have been court martialed, Bashir deserved it. Bashir reminds me of a real doctor more all the time, and I've known plenty.

I almost didn't rewatch this one, as I just rewatched Shattered Mirror and was bored to death. This makes up for it. All I wanted to do as a teenager was be a writer and I relate to Jake on that level.

The relationship between Jake and his father is a good illustration of the difference having your father involved in your upbringing (especially in teaching a boy to be a man), versus say, Wesley Crusher who never seems to rise above the status of boy-man and is widely despised.

I couldn't figure out where Worf, Kira and O'Brien were on this in this episode. I guess the Major and Miles running the station and Worf was just hanging out somewhere - away from Klingons.

We've all had our battles and we can all identify with Jake. Retreating in fear is part of the human experience, and that universality is an excellent theme for a science fiction story. I particularly liked the scene with Jake alone with the dying soldier. I never forget that scene. "I want to go out looking at the sky."
Mon, Aug 20, 2018, 12:29pm (UTC -5)
"Nor the Battle to the Strong" is an improvement over "The Ship", and a really good episode overall. Though it's a clichéd episode (Jake is Ernest Hemmingway, we get it), it's effective overall due to how relatable it is. Jake isn't a noble hero. Unlike Sisko, O'Brien, or Worf, he isn't used to battle. It's a nice way of adding realism to an unrealistic universe.

3.5 stars.
Fri, Aug 24, 2018, 6:07pm (UTC -5)
On second thought, I'd downgrade "Nor the Battle to the Strong" to 3 stars, and upgrade "The Ship" to 3 stars. They fall into the same camp for me-they're good, but the war clichés seriously hold them back. "The Siege of AR-558" suffered from that too, but to a lesser extent and was a better executed episode. For anyone looking for good stories about the futility and cost of war-there are plenty. Ernest Hemmingway's "A Farewell to Arms", Stephen Crane's "The Red Badge of Courage" are great books. "Gallipoli", "Paths of Glory", "All Quiet on the Western Front", and "Apocalypse Now" are my favorite anti-war films.
Sun, Dec 9, 2018, 8:11am (UTC -5)
Not a good episode. A story needs change of direction...unpredictability...twists... This had none...this was a basic fight/flight/survival episode that remains the same from the beginning to the end. 10 minutes of substance stretched over 45 didn't work.
Tue, Jan 15, 2019, 7:36pm (UTC -5)
I don’t think anyone has mentioned the reference to The Ship that had all our brave strong battle hardened starfleet officers shitting themselves to the point of forgetting themselves and embarrassing themselves when shelled for a prolonged period of time. There’s a reason it used to be called shell shock. I don’t think that young untrained untested Jake succumbing to it is anything to be ashamed of or surprised about. I don’t see how anyone can’t understand that when both this episode and that recent one explain it to us.

I like Jons’ point that often Bashir is in Jake’s position as the young arrogant guy with no experience but that that’s only in comparison to experienced starfleet officers - but this episode shows that he is really one of them too. He can do things like retrieve the generator off screen and it makes sense to Jake who hasn’t seen him the way we have, but obviously it makes sense to us too really.
Wed, Jan 16, 2019, 8:58am (UTC -5)
An OK ep.

Some coming-of-age stuff for Jake. Some suggestion that age is about a number, but not JUST about a number.

And of course, the discussion of what real strength and courage is.

Not a bad topic, but pedestrian presentation.
Wed, Jan 16, 2019, 9:26am (UTC -5)
Wow! Really surprised by the 4 stars and contentious comments. For me, It's no Inner Light. It's no Necessary Evil. It's no Living Witness.

It's no Threshold or Meridian or Move Along Home, either.

To me, it was a fairly standard presentation of a "sheltered kid dramatically finds out how the other half lives" story.

He gets freaked out, he learns some lessons. A sadder and a wiser Jake he wakes the morrow morn.

It had flaws: some sub standard acting, mega-cliches. It had plusses: Timeless theme thoughtfully presented, good character development.

As average as you can get. I expected a ho hum review and commentary, but surprises are fun.
Wed, Jan 16, 2019, 9:39am (UTC -5)
Sorry. I'm "S." Not sure how I managed not noticing I only typed the first letter of my screen name.

Nothing to see here. Everyone move along home.
Wed, Jan 16, 2019, 10:42am (UTC -5)

I tend to agree with you. This is one of those "writer's episodes" where everything cool and interesting happens to the writer character so the writers can glorify their own profession. If you're not familiar with war movies I can see the allure, but there's so many films that handle this kind of story better. Full Metal Jacket, for example.
Peter G.
Wed, Jan 16, 2019, 11:35am (UTC -5)
This was always just ok to me, and not that much fun to watch. And I don't mean fun in the sense of fluff, but in the sense that I don't feel that it has very much in the story department.

I never gave any thought to its title, so now that I've found that it's a biblical quote, I see that the quote means something like "Things in life aren't apportioned fairly, or according to desert, nor does everything that happens occur for a reason we can see; fate and chance seem to govern many things."

So in an episode whose title says "not everything is the way it should be in the world" why are we given this episode? It is about how the unworth win wars? Or about how the cowardly can be victorious over the courageous? Or what? And why is this title assigned to Jake's story, about how he's no hero and we need to learn that real people mostly aren't heros?

I guess my best shot at an explanation is that the episode is trying to say that most people in wars *aren't* heros, and that Jake isn't just some exceptionally cowardly guy. He's basically normal. I think the guy who shot himself in the foot is supposed to be representative of something more common that we'd think. Except is that really true in Trek? Is it the case that these soldiers are just 'normal people' as we think of them, who are more afraid for their lives than they are determined to serve the Federation? I would have liked to have seen an exploration of *this exact point*, more so than a vague statement that people generally aren't as heroic as we assume they are in war.

For that matter, the title's source suggests that battles can be settled by chance more so than tactics; but in modern times is that really true? It may have been true 2,500 years ago, when weather events may have decided a battle (with unexpected mud on the battlefield, or darkness in the sky), but nowadays I think wars tend to be won based on superior intelligence efforts, better coordination and logistics, and superior positioning. In other words, the battles really do go to the strong if we want to think of "the battle" as being literal. I guess the whole formulation changes if we consider the statement metaphorically, and think of "the battle" as being a moral battle or something; but in that case it wouldn't make sense to ascribe chance to setting the winners of that. In the moral game you win if you're moral, not if you overcome anyone; so at the moment I'm tempted to interpret it literally.

In short, is the message of this episode really appropriate to a Star Trek episode? It seems like something we might use to describe modern times, about how military people are perhaps not as heroic as kids think they are, and perhaps about how military victory doesn't necessarily imply that the winners are better people. But again, how does this apply to the Trek universe? Is this some kind of statement about the Klingons, how they're "worse people" than the Federation even if they can fight well? But if so this would be the first occasion when we see a major race being morally condemned wholesale by the writers.

So in short I don't really know what the writers thought they were saying, if anything. I don't know what there is to learn about war here, or about the Federation, and I can glean only just a little bit about Jake, which is that he's a normal guy and not a hero like his dad. But so what? Why do I need to know that? And why invoke a title that suggests unfairness in life?
William B
Wed, Jan 16, 2019, 12:09pm (UTC -5)
The title "nor the battle to the strong" makes me think of Jake causing the cave in and then becoming a hero. I wonder how much this was *the* animating idea of the episode -- that Jake actually did "win," but he won due to chance rather than because of his virtue. The actual heroism Jake shows in the episode is to renounce the heroism that is thrust upon them and set people straight that he didn't win because he was a hero, but because he was lucky.

However -- that's actually pretty thin. It's thin for a whole episode to lead up to those two events. The series has already addressed the Accidental Heroism thing before -- offhand, I think of Li Nalas shooting the Cardassian in his underwear -- and there they emphasized that a whole mythology had sprung up around Li, and the possibility of that mythology to be used for good or ill. Here, Jake is praised for like two seconds in story time before he comes clean. It's good that he comes clean, but we don't really see any evidence that his getting inappropriately credited was having a big impact. Nor is there much evidence that he is accessing a deep vein of truth that is consistent with the way we see the Starfleet officers behave regularly, as Peter points out.

Not only that, but I feel on some level like the lesson itself that Jake is afraid shouldn't...actually...surprise him that much? I mean, Jake decided not to go into Starfleet already. This journalist thing is, as far as I can tell, a new gig added onto his writing career thing, and the idea that as a reporter he would expect to be fearless feels like a kind of a weird thought to add to Jake, who up to this point in the series has been, IMO, pretty well aware of his limitations. I don't want to speak too strongly about this. I can understand that Jake would know he didn't want to do Starfleet, but could still think he could be an Observer in combat without cowering in a corner or whatever. But I feel like Jake is actually one of the most likely characters to not have to learn a lesson that combat is scary, and to not have to be disillusioned of feelings of invulnerability.

To some extent, I think it's also meant to show that Jake has sympathy for the soldier who self-injures or whatever, because he realizes that lots of "heroes" are not that brave. But I don't know. I don't think it is that well set-up either, for two reasons. One is that Jake doesn't seem all that down on the guy earlier in the episode. The other is that the series basically *does* show that the majority of the characters do tend to win battles because they're strong (physically and/or tactically, sometimes even morally). Accidental heroism is not that big a theme in the series, and the episode basically shows that Jake is less heroic than Bashir, but while Bashir has flaws and all, he really is basically brave and a good officer in this episode.

I guess it feels a bit like the event of Jake accidentally saving the day seems random and unlikely enough, particularly within the Trekverse, that it doesn't feel like he actually accessed a deep insight about those around him. I feel like Jake learned that he, personally, was afraid, and maybe he could extend that to mean that other people were also afraid, but basically I think that despite having many flaws, most of the Starfleet/Bajoran militia/etc. main and supporting cast really are real deal brave in combat. Maybe this is not the way combat really works in the real world, but it is basically how combat works in Trek, as Peter says.

What could work, though, is for Jake to realize that a lot of what's good about his life has been the result of luck. His mother died, of course. He's not lucky in all respects. But he basically has had a lot of opportunities to figure out what he wants to do with his life, rather than being forced to fight in war or to work multiple jobs or to scavenge for resources. In that sense it's good for him to have some humility -- that he has "won" the battle, of being alive and being happy and potentially becoming a good writer -- is partly the result of what he's had in his life. But I feel like this (again) is something that is actually something Jake already knows. Jake has lots of flaws but I don't think that thinking he's intrinsically super awesome is really one of them. This is the guy who taught his illiterate friend to read, who primarily dates people from a formerly ravaged and occupied country. I just am not sure if this was really the right story to tell about Jake.

All that said, I don't think it's a bad ep. It's not so much that I think it's *wrong* to tell it about Jake as that it doesn't feel particularly *right* to tell about him.
William B
Wed, Jan 16, 2019, 12:12pm (UTC -5)
SPOILERS for next season:

I did read once about an idea that Jake would, in a journalist way, uncover some of what his father did in In the Pale Moonlight. I still think that would have been a good story -- I mean, I get how undermining the results of that could be bad for plot, but for Jake to discover *something* could be good -- and I think having Jake realize that even his *father*'s ability to succeed was based partly not on moral worth but on chance and underhanded means would be a way to tie back to the "nor the battle to the strong" idea, and gives this episode retroactively even more purpose. Jake does seem to idealize Ben and I do feel like that would have been a good way to use Jake, who flounders around without much happening in the last two seasons.
William B
Wed, Jan 16, 2019, 12:19pm (UTC -5)
@Peter, "I don't know what there is to learn about war here, or about the Federation, and I can glean only just a little bit about Jake, which is that he's a normal guy and not a hero like his dad. But so what? Why do I need to know that? "

I already said this a bit above, but I just want to reiterate that it feels weird to do this story at this point in the series because, like, I feel like we already knew that Jake wasn't a hero like Ben, and more importantly Jake already knew that. I know I can sometimes be down on Ben and what he chooses to prioritize, but I do think that he's got a lot of bravery, willingness to self-sacrifice, etc. Jake not only seems to know that he isn't his dad, but seems fine with it.

Maybe a way they could have done this is to reveal that Jake sort of secretly believed all along that he *could* be a hero if he wanted to, and just that he didn't want to because he cared about Art more. Or something. I can see it being interesting, actually, a person believing that their choices were purely about what they cared about the most, and then discovering that they were letting fear guide them without knowing it. That could be interesting. But I don't know -- I feel like "I don't want to be a hero because I don't want to" is sufficient and learning that he also would suck at it because he's afraid isn't a whopping revelation.

This is really more of a Nog, or early Bashir, or Harry Kim, or even a Wesley Crusher or maybe Chekov story than a Jake one.
William B
Wed, Jan 16, 2019, 12:23pm (UTC -5)
One last point --

Someone above mentioned that there are lots of people who assume, without having been in that situation, that they would be braver than Jake, and thus that the episode is useful for that purpose. And I do think that it's helpful to show that lots of people are not as brave in combat as they'd assume they were, and to try to normalize "cowardice" (self-preservation) in extreme situations. And that's fair. I don't judge Jake for being afraid, and I think the episode might be helpful for someone who would be tempted to. That's part of why I think it does work okay as an ep. But I think if you already expect that people -- especially people without training -- will be really afraid if their life is threatened in war, and not act very heroically, then it doesn't seem like that deep a message, and not *that* revealing about character. The disillusionment arc is not that strong because, again, Jake's belief that he'd have What It Takes seems like a development cooked up just for this story, which is plausible but not fully organic IMO.
Peter G.
Wed, Jan 16, 2019, 1:04pm (UTC -5)
I had an idea of what the original intent might have been. Memory Alpha says that the scene with the Starfleet guy and Jake in the ditch was originally supposed to be a blinded Klingon, and that the scene was meant to create a sort of respect between them - only to be yanked away when the Klingon realized Jake was a coward and told him to go away. Ira Behr insisted it be changed into a Federation soldier, but either way the effect is the same: someone Jake is supposed to really respect finally denouncing him when he discovers what Jake did. I actually think this is meant to be the core of the episode, but boy did they miss the mark if they wanted this to be as prominent as I now think it was meant to be.

The fear we're supposed to understand in Jake is this: not that he's a coward, which isn't a surprise, but that when all the people he admires - his dad, Kira, Bashir, and the others - discover that he's a coward and isn't fit to even be in their presence, they'll hate him. So he spends his life lying low to make sure they never learn it. I think the idea is supposed to be that he's hiding a secret that, if they learn it, will make them despise him just as the guy in the ditch does. Heroes despise cowards, after all, right?

Then the ending would have some power: the most important image of heroism of all, his dad, hears the worst of his cowardice, and tell him "no, it's ok, we're all afraid." Or maybe "your worth doesn't come from bravery, but from caring". Or some other such message. Or even just "we love you regardless of what you're like." Now *THAT* would be a powerful message embodying the heart of Trek: the worth of a human being doesn't come from being powerful, or courageous, or anything else, but is something inherent, and in the future Federation people know this. You don't just get rewarded in the future for "success", to honor your virtues: you're honored regardless because all people deserve to be treated kindly and with respect.

If this is what they intended then it practically gets a 0.5/4 for showing that. It's still a decent episode, pretty well shot and dramatic, but I still only feel that it's ok and not much better, and certainly doesn't rise to be the 4-star episode I now feel it really should have been.
William B
Wed, Jan 16, 2019, 6:41pm (UTC -5)
@Peter, that's very interesting. I agree that having Jake insecure specifically about his cowardice and how others would react to him would be great, both in terms of giving the episode (and character) a charge that is somewhat lacking at this stage, and also for playing off some of the insecurities that we're seeing in general and especially this season with other characters. Odo afraid of what the others will think of him if they realize the depths of his longing for the Link? Bashir afraid of his Doctor Bashir, I Presume? secret? Even one-offs like O'Brien dealing with Keiko in The Assignment, where SPOILER the possibility is that he or Keiko or both will be punished or, in her case, maybe killed if he doesn't maintain his secrets well. It really gets to the point that even if a person has a rock-solid moral worldview in which that person is in the clear, that they still have to contend with possible massive rejection if they are "found out": if Jake basically thinks he can still be a good person without being brave, he still has to live among others who might not think that way.
Wed, Feb 20, 2019, 9:32pm (UTC -5)
It’s an ambitious episode, which I appreciate. But issues of war and its effect on the human psyche are very hard to get right and this episode falls well short. The word “hackneyed” is perfect for this episode. Every cliche was used and every bit of stilted pretentious dialog was spoken. M.A.S.H. did it much better and was funny too.
Sharon M
Mon, Mar 4, 2019, 5:10am (UTC -5)
I wonder if how old you were when this came out affects your judgement. The first time I saw this episode, I was teenager, just a couple of years younger than Jake's character, and it floored me. When I watched it about 20 years later, yes it felt fairly contrived, overacted and cliche. Maybe as a sixteen year old kid, I needed to be hit over the head with this kind of episode.
Sat, Mar 30, 2019, 11:47pm (UTC -5)
I don't like this episode. It attempts to shock you while trying to make you feel back for Jake. It works a little bit, It's just not entertaining.
Sun, Mar 31, 2019, 2:18am (UTC -5)
Hello Everyone!

@Sharon M

I think I understand what you are getting at, but in a different way/reversed.

Red Dawn came out when I was in High School, and I think I can speak for all of my friends when I say we thought we'd be able to start a resistance, forgetting about the deprivations of war and whatnot (and huge bombs that can wipe out an entire group). Even when this episode aired, I was probably still in the same category.

But after seeing this one back in the day, I realized I probably would have been scared shirtless, just like Jake.

In a way, it hit me over the head to remind me of the realities of war, and sometimes we aren't as brave in reality as we think we might be.

Regards... RT
Bobbington Mc Bob
Thu, Jul 11, 2019, 4:15pm (UTC -5)
I only wished someone would have just said to Jake "you're a civilian. You cannot be expected to respond like a soldier when under fire". Training takes one regular human being and gives them just enough controlled exposure to terror so they can at least function. Jake did exactly what I would expect anyone to do when missiles capable of ripping arms and legs off are landing around you.

All that said I really liked the episode. DS9 is very much the dark sibling of trek and I like how it handles the issues in this one. I thought the acting was just fine.
Bobbington Mc Bob
Thu, Jul 11, 2019, 4:24pm (UTC -5)
Oh and here is the quote from the bible to which the title refers:

"I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all"
Sat, Oct 12, 2019, 5:49pm (UTC -5)
I enjoyed this episode. I like Jake and I like Cirroc Lofton (guess I’m in the minority judging by other reviews).
I was waiting for Jake to save Bashir’s life at the end, go from coward to hero all in one episode, but I like how the writers didn’t take that route. Instead Jake saves everybody pretty much by accident, he confessed it all to Sisko at the end. I really like the bond between Sisko and Jake.
Mon, Jan 13, 2020, 9:48pm (UTC -5)
I wouldn't personally 4 star this, maybe a 3 or a 2.5 -- it absorbed me in the moment, but it hasn't really left a lasting impact on me. It's not one that'll haunt me all night.

One particular aspect that I liked is how it uses Jake as a writer. He said it himself, he usually writes fiction -- with character motivations, narratives, things making *sense*. So naturally, that's the approach he comes to take to journalism. Right from the teaser, he's thinking of ways he can encapsulate things nicely and neatly in a snappy title. That's what appeals to the human brain. Tying things together and explaining them, finding a greater meaning in them.

Then you face the poor kid with senseless slaughter: people dying meaningless deaths. But he's still fumbling for ways to make this "work" as a "plot":

JAKE: But I have to [save you]. That way this'll all make sense. Maybe I ran for a reason, so I could find you and save your life.

X happens for Y reason. Everything flows into each other in a structured narrative. Everything has meaning assigned to it, making it inherently worth something greater than simply what it is. Right?

Then the guy dies. Sorry, kid.

Even back at the settlement, Jake's still trying to interpret what everything "means", but with a far less positive bent. If he ran, that must "mean" he's a coward. But then he has to go and empathise that ensign deserter, and he sure can't find it in his heart to call that guy a coward.

By the end, he's moved on to this:

"All I could think about was doing whatever it took to stay alive. Once it meant running away, and once it meant picking up a phaser."

Less "noble actions for noble reasons", more "whatever needs to happen in the moment".
Jamie Mann
Sun, Jan 19, 2020, 3:34pm (UTC -5)
For once, this is a DS9 episode I don't feel overly critical about.

In some ways, it's a throwback to the military-hospital stories from MASH, with the conceit of an journalist to witness things from an "innocent" perspective.

And for me, it all ties together pretty well, including the way that Jake first flees from danger and then finds himself forced to fight.

One other point this episode highlights is how Starfleet deals with military situations. And for once, they're actually shown in a pretty positive light; the tough (if dying) soldier and the gallows humour from the medics shows a society whose members are willing to work hard to defend their freedoms, even if some individuals find themselves breaking under pressure.

It's a bit of a shame that this implicit message was then thrown away by one of the more infamous episodes of DS9...
Thu, Mar 5, 2020, 1:02pm (UTC -5)
Teaser : **.5, 5%

Aboard a runabout, Bashir is in peak smarm-mode as he prattles on about his own genius. For his part, Jake is sporting what might be the most unattractive outfit I've seen on a regular cast member in the franchise's history. It looks like he slew a Wookie, dyed its pelt mauve, and stuffed it with spare shoulder pads from “Working Girl.” Jake is apparently on this trip to interview Bashir for some medical whatever at a recent conference from which they're returning. I didn't realise the Federation news service was hard-up for teenaged reporters, but there it is. Lucky him. We are treated to Jake's inner monologue, in which we learn that he is completely at a loss with Bashir's jargon. What this really boils down to is an unsubtle swipe at one of Trek's stereotyped aspects:

JAKE [OC]: Who cares about anomalies? People want stories about things they can relate to. Life and death, good and evil. An outbreak of Cartalian fever would be just the thing. The brave doctor battles the deadly virus. Listen to me, I'm actually rooting for a plague.

There are two levels on which I take umbrage with this. First, it continues the weird notion last seen in “The Visitor” that artists can only write about things they personally experience. I suppose I should credit the consistency here, but I don't like it. It represents a very false portrait of artistry. Second, the metatextual idea that science fiction audiences are bored by science is...annoying. Trek has rarely been hard science fiction anyway, but the technobabbly plots, especially on TNG, were always about something metaphorical or allegorical. It would be nice if the DS9 writers at least acknowledged this.

Anyway, because it's the law that shuttlecraft on their way to or from a conference must be diverted or crash or have their crew kidnapped and replaced with spies or whatever, Bashir picks up a distress call from the front lines of the still-hot Klingon-Federation War. Jake is excited by the possibility of witnessing something more exciting, but Bashir is cautious about putting the Emissary's son in mortal danger. Between Jake's insistence and the very real need for Bashir's assistance at the distressed hospital, the chatty doctor decides to set course for excitement.

Act 1 : **.5, 17%

The entire rest of the cast is gathered in Ops to engage in DBI. Quark apparently can't decaffeinate Klingon coffee without making it taste like targ manure. This leads to a *battle of the sexes* and a completely tired scene about how men and women handle pregnancy. Blegh. Sisko emerges to inform them about the actual plot and fail to conceal his concern over Jake's well-being. He and Bashir will have to hold out for a couple of days until the Farragut can relieve them.

Bashir and Jake determine that they are going to have to land the runabout and Bashir takes a few moments to try and prepare the teen for what he's likely to encounter. “They've got a lot of wounded,” he warns. Jump cut and Jake finds himself in a darkworlds episode of M.A.S.H. One officer enters, having had his foot shot by a disruptor. While Bashir examines him, he says the Klingons are coming soon and that they need to get out ASAP. But Bashir quickly discovers that the man shot himself with his own phaser. He's a deserter. He confesses to Jake that he hoped to be taken out of combat after seeing another officer (I assume) taken away by medics when he was shot.


Here I must take a quick departure as DS9 is frustratingly committing its gravest sin once again. Who exactly are these people being treated? Does Starfleet have an *infantry*? Or are these security officers (I see some gold piping)? See, we haven't seen any evidence that Starfleet is desperately throwing anyone who can hold a phaser into combat à la “Yesterday's Enterprise.” The war, such as it is, isn't at such a desperate pitch that we're at that point. Whoever is fighting the Klingons would have to specialise in combat. The milieu of this story is very World War I—and as we well know in 2020, that's a rich source of military drama—but in that war, much of what made the stories of the individual soldiers harrowing is the fact that they were drafted. These were ordinary men thrown into a desperate combat zone and expected to win a war. That's why it would be entirely expected, in that context, for a young man to shoot himself in the foot rather than continue on the front lines. That's a symptom of the tragedy of war at that scale.

But there is no discernible context for any of that sort of thing to happen here. The most generous explanation is that Starfleet has redeployed a number of officers and non-coms to the line, but these would have to be people with combat experience or at the very least, extensive training (I'm thinking Ro Laren).

So the sin here is transposing incompatible contemporary human beings and tropes into the Star Trek future timeline. This is such a disservice to the franchise because it whitewashes the most essential social commentary that gives Trek its special status in science fiction. Without getting too far ahead of myself, it's this sort of thing which paved the way for the current story in “Picard,” which is similarly purged of those Trekkian contours. I can and will judge this story on its own merits. But this needs to be said.


Jake attempts to write his article, the inner monologue returning for a moment, but he's interrupted as one of the triage doctors asks for his help. Jake is told to watch over a badly-injured patient while the doctor retrieves some plasma. The patient is a wounded blue-shirt. Again...was he a botanist or or seismologist, or what? He grabs jake by the scruff of his unflattering outfit and leaves a bloody stain.

Act 2 : ***, 19% (long)

Jake is enlisted in nurse duties via montage while we take a moment for a scene on DS9. Odo limps into Sisko's office, lamenting the fact that he momentarily forgot he's a solid and leaping off a balcony in pursuit of a criminal. The following dialogue is an example of clumsy writing. It's on the verge of being brilliant but fails the edit test.

SISKO: It's an understandable mistake. You've been a changeling longer than you've been a solid.
ODO: “Solid.” I wonder why my people use that term. Humanoid bodies are so fragile.
SISKO: Yes, they are. And there are a lot of ways you can get hurt.
ODO: You're worried about Jake. I'm sure that Doctor Bashir is looking after him.
SISKO: It seems just yesterday he was five years old, clinging to me because he'd just scraped his knee and I was the only one in the world who could make it better...

A stronger scene would have cut out the obvious part:

SISKO: It's an understandable mistake. You've been a changeling longer than you've been a solid.
ODO: “Solid.” I wonder why my people use that term. Humanoid bodies are so fragile.
SISKO: It seems just yesterday Jake was five years old, clinging to me because he'd just scraped his knee and I was the only one in the world who could make it better...

The writers don't allow us to catch the character beats and let the actors fill in the blanks, they spell out the obvious connection between Odo's predicament and the thematic elements of Jake's story. It doesn't ruin the episode or erase the functionality of the scene, but it is artistically weaker than it easily could have been.

On the other hand,

SISKO: I'd think to myself that no matter what, I wasn't going to let anything bad happen to this child.

begs the question of whether Sisko is making efforts to correct the unhealthy aspects of his relationship to his son that drove the drama in “The Visitor.” Something to keep an eye on. Dax enters his office and reports that the Farragut has been destroyed by Klingons, and Sisko needs all of .4 seconds to launch the Defiant.

Jake and the medical team are about to sit down to a meal when Bashir's predictably socially-inept commentary about performing dissective surgery on his chicken sends Jake retching towards the nearest toilet. Are 24th century toilets powered by soundwaves, or is there indoor plumbing in this alien cave set?

As the two of them discuss the deserting ensign who shot himself, another example of clunky writing follows:

JAKE: But they're Starfleet. They've passed psych-tests. They've spent hundreds of hours in battle simulations.
BASHIR: Simulations can't prepare you for the real thing. Nothing can.
JAKE: Some people say that you don't know what you're really made of until you've been in battle.

What people say that, Jake? See, this is an example of a sentence that the writer(s) would put into their outline for the script, a guiding thesis. It is NOT an example of natural dialogue. Adding, “Some people say that” to the head of the statement is an obvious tell. Anyway, I still think they shouldn't be putting botanists on the battlefield at this juncture.

One of the young doctors—let's call him Charles in Charge—lets an appetite-recovering Jake know about the loss of the Farragut and the impending Klingon assault on the settlement. The fear in Jake's heart is pretty palpable.

JAKE: At least we don't have to worry about them in here.
KIRBY: Don't be so sure. Medical personnel are fair game as far as Klingons are concerned. They'll even kill wounded right in their beds. They think they're giving them an honourable death.

As usual with the Klingons, honour means whatever the hell is the most convenient route to satisfy bloodlust.

We get another brief voice-over conveying the obvious to us about Jake's mounting fears that transitions to the bunk, when an off-screen explosion heralds the impending of the Klingon forces. The immediate problem is that the Klingons have destroyed their power supply, and many of the critical patients will die without functioning equipment. The solution, Bashir realises, is to collect a generator from their runabout which is conveniently parked a kilometre away. With transportation ruled out, he and Jake will have to retrieve the thing on foot.

They step outside and are almost immediately brought to the ground by disruptor fire. Bashir tries to keep Jake close, low and safe as they attempt to complete their mission. Bashir is hit and Jake runs away in a panic.

Act 3 : ***.5, 16% (short)

Eventually, Jake trips over a dead Klingon in what turns out to be a small graveyard. He stumbles over a severely-wounded human in a foxhole. This human we shall call Clichéd Anachronism for his completely un-Starfleet Hollywood soldier machismo. He stayed behind to lay down cover so his...platoon could escape the Klingons. While the mans guts are spilling out onto his shoes (his words, not mine), Jake is preoccupied with his own guilt.

JAKE: But I have to. That way this'll all make sense. Maybe I ran for a reason, so I could find you and save your life…It was a mistake.
BURKE: That's what you call it.
JAKE: I didn't mean for it to happen.
BURKE: And now you think bringing me back is going to make everything all right. Sorry, kid. Life doesn't work like that.

Burke dies and Jake takes off running again.

Act 4 : ***.5, 17%

On the Defiant, Sisko is performing unnecessary repairs to distract himself from his worry. Dax is her best self in this scene, recalling a memory from one of her past host's interactions with a sick child.

DAX: It was hundreds of years ago. I still remember how helpless I felt. I read her all seventeen volumes of Caster's Down the River Light, even though I knew she couldn't hear me. It made me feel like I was doing something, that we were still connected. It wasn't until much after that that I realised that I was doing it as much for me as I was doing it for her.

At the settlement, Jake manages to make his way back unscathed...physically. He's incredibly relieved to learn that Bashir made it back alive as well. He even dragged the generator back by himself. Hmmm.... Charles in Charge sends Jake in to see Bashir, who's in ICU. Bashir is overjoyed to see his boss' son alive. The irony of course is it's Bashir who feels guilty about having brought Jake to this place at all. In his voice-over, Jake confesses to being a coward.

Later on, he's tasked with delivering food to Ensign Deserter.

ENSIGN: Yeah. That's pretty much it. You know something? You're first person I've talked to since I got here who hasn't made me feel like I'm taking up valuable bed space. The way everyone looks at me. I can't stand it. After the court martial, I'm definitely signing up for the next mining expedition to the Gamma Quadrant.
JAKE: Maybe there won't be a court martial.
ENSIGN: You're right. None of us may get out of here alive.
JAKE: No, I mean Starfleet could decide to send you to counselling instead.
ENSIGN: I won't go. I don't deserve to be in Starfleet. Therapy won't change what I did. Nothing will. I just wish I'd aimed that phaser a little higher.

Again...maybe we should stop sending botanists into battle. Just spit-balling here.

While Jake listens in, Charles in Charge and the other doctors banter about their imminent deaths. This drives Jake to some histrionics and Bashir escorts him out of the room for a talk. But Jake doesn't want to talk. He collapses into a heap and weeps openly.

Act 5 : ***, 16% (short)

The Klingons have finally crossed the...single kilometre to start attacking the settlement directly. The medics have been tasked with evacuating the patients and equipment as quickly as possible. Jake fins himself in some crossfire, grabs hold of a phaser rifle and starts shooting randomly into the air. He manages to cause a cave-in.

When he awakens, Sisko and Bashir are there, informing him that the cease-fire is reinstated and that his accidental heroics saved the day.

BASHIR: We never would have got these patients out alive if you hadn't done it. You're a hero.
JAKE [OC]: More than anything, I wanted to believe what he was saying.

Jake publishes his story, warts and all and Sisko congratulates him for his courage in admitting to uncomfortable, humbling, but compromising feelings that he says anyone in battle has shared. The two share a hug.

Episode as Functionary : ***, 10%

The ending to this tale isn't *bad*, but it is a bit of a let-down. As William B notes, there's no assessment made of Jake's mortality or his artistic integrity or his relationships. True, it's good that he didn't discover the soldier hidden inside himself or some other hackneyed thing, finding courage in honesty rather than military valour, but it's still very pat.

The weakest aspect of this story for me is the laziness that went into the production. Other than the fact that the guns shoot special effects instead of bullets, this is a twentieth century tale through and through. Now I say “lazy” not because I find it unconvincing per sae, but because there's little effort involved in making this story an episode of *Star Trek* instead of something else. Think about an episode like “The Most Toys”--a tale about a sociopathic collector and his intractable acquisition. That story was dark and pretty cynical, but it was about the human question *as understood in a 24th century context.* This story comforts itself with its (unfortunately all-too-typical) smug dismissal of normal Trek stories, but to me it reads as an unwillingness or inability to write within the genre. Add to that the often clunky dialogue and a couple of pointless scenes with with the guest characters and it never fully takes off for me.

All of that said, the message is deftly woven into the structure of the story without being hackneyed and the focus upon Jake as a character works as well as any Jake story has in this series. Lofton is *better* than normal and pulls off this more complex role, despite some tepid delivery in the voice-over bits. Supporting moments from Sisko, Dax and especially Bashir are quite good and the directing is on point.

There is a way to tell this story that doesn't flounder about with the Trek genre that would have worked much better for me. Instead of the filler scenes with the doctor talking about her husband or that god-awful bit in Ops, have the guest characters talk a bit about their back-stories. How did we get from botanists and barbers to this M.A.S.H. setting? Why is Starfleet deploying blue shirts and ensigns with no combat experience into this war zone?

Final Score : ***
Peter G.
Thu, Mar 5, 2020, 2:27pm (UTC -5)
For once I'm going to agree with Elliott basically without reservation. I've never liked this episode all that much, and although from an execution standpoint I agree with his 3-star rating it's never been more than a 2-star in terms of me enjoying it. And yes, the setting is just a MASH copy-paste in ways that I don't really care for. I like that Jake is featured, I like that it tells hard truths, and I like that in the future we will respect honesty and truth more than pure valor; that is the kind of heroism story the 24th century needs. So the concept is outstanding, and the title itself (as I think I discussed in an earlier comment) is quite revealing about what their goals were. But in the end the actual teleplay feels more like an anti-war story, or if not quite that at least a "you don't know what war is really like" story, which is completely off-point when the actual theme at hand is supposed to be "there are heroics other than physical bravery". It's almost as if Jake grew up believing that valor in battle is everything, and is only now realizing for the first time that truth is a higher value, and to his surprise gets his dad's approval. But this really should have been his standard understanding for his whole life already; the idea that valor in battle should even be that important is a frankly bizarre worldview for him to need shattering. Maybe he got it from his dad? Except I don't really think so, because although Sisko has a temper and is sort of pugilistic, his at-home attitude is very much about love and family, not about being a tough guy. Sisko lets a bit more loose around Dax with his temper, but not that much around Jake from what we've seen.

So yeah, this copy-pasta of a plot doesn't work for me, and the things we see feel like things we've seen before. This is more like a postmodern reference to an episode of some other show, and trying to shoehorn Jake into it to fit that theme in between the cracks. But it really doesn't fit in well enough to resonate, which is honestly why I think I had to wrestle so hard to figure out what in the world they were trying to tell with this one, and especially why they picked that title,
Kevin B
Fri, Apr 3, 2020, 2:15pm (UTC -5)
Didn't like this episode of star trek deep space nine. I think the show has much better episodes which are much more relatable then this one. I think the problem this episode suffers from is what much of the series suffers from nowadays when watching it...the war scenes particularly the battle scenes just don't look believable. This show was made before 9/11 happened and the world got used to violent wars and their effects which can now be seen with the click of a button. What star trek deep space nine presents us with as battle scenes almost look like costume theatre by comparison.

Having said all that from a character development point of view DS9 is still the best trek series out there and much better then discovery.
Fri, May 29, 2020, 1:30pm (UTC -5)
I thought Gowron reinstated the Khitomer Accords at the end of Apocolypse Rising.

Why is the Klingon still attacking the Federation...did I miss something?
Top Hat
Fri, May 29, 2020, 2:46pm (UTC -5)
It's later, in "By Inferno's Light," that Gowron reinstates the Khitomer Accords. "Apocalypse Rising" ends with a bit of milder detente, but the conflict is still on.
Tue, Jun 9, 2020, 9:41pm (UTC -5)
There was a ceasefire though at the end of AR...and at the end of *this* episode, it is stated that the ceasefire is "back on".
Thu, Jul 30, 2020, 6:15pm (UTC -5)
I think DS9 was very successful in having a realistic teenage character. Jake is awkward, naive and sheltered to a degree. After Wesley (Roddenberry's creation if I recall) I know that DS9 creators did not want an insufferable brat like Wesley. DS9 is so much more realistic about a lot of things, and I appreciate that. Captain Sisko is such a conscientious and committed father, and it's one of his better traits. I seems like television doesn't want to portray men as competent parents, and I'm always grateful to see it on DS9.
Sat, Sep 26, 2020, 7:11am (UTC -5)
Surprised Jammer gave this one 4 stars.

I like the core idea of this episode. I like the idea of Jake as a Norman Mailer/Hemmingway/James Jones type, immersing himself in combat for a story, and coming out irrevocably changed.

I like the low-key exaltation of Bashir and the other medics, who put themselves at risk and through hell to save lives.

I liked the last scene, where Jake exposes himself and so his cowardice through his writing, and receives praise from his father; good art, and emotional honesty, are their own kind of bravery.

There's also a great scene with Bashir, who immediately takes control of the situation when he sees an unhinged Jake snapping at some joking doctors. Once he takes Jake aside, Bashir then immediately softens, and attempts to help the troubled kid.

(I feel the episode missed a trick by not having a little scene between Bashir and Sisko. It would be interesting to see how Sisko reacts to Bashir appologising for endangering his son.)

But while this episode might play well on paper, or as a radio play, and while it has some really powerful scenes, I think the direction and production design let it down tremendously.

The underground sets look hokey, almost all of the secondary cast act poorly (a few nurses aside), and the director's attempts at "gritty medical turmoil" feel like a cheap knock-off of a 1990s ER episode. The attempts at combat are similarly hokey, with exploding puffs of smoke/powder, Jake and Bashir's comical falling, dopey falling rocks, and clownish Klingons.

There's also an odd WW1 or WW2 vibe to the episode, characters not quite behaving like far-future medics and soldiers. And most of the episode's scenes are the kind of generic fare war movie buffs know inside out.

This material can look better - the famous director Sam Fuller specialized in making low budget war films and morality plays like this, all effective on a shoestring budget, largely thanks to tough, spare scripts - and should have been tightened up.

The danger, though, is that in dressing episodes like this up, you lose a very special aspect of Trek. You want the theatricality of an episode like this, the stageyness, the stiltedness, the heightened power that a certain abstractness engenders in the audience. But this abstractness is add odds with realistic, gritty, literal portrayals of combat. The styles don't mesh. So how should you film a script like this?

Kurtzman Trek would gloss an episode like this up with bombastic music, camera work, slicks effects and action, and IMO this would lead to something much worse.

I think a better approach would have been to strip this script down further. Don't let anyone go outside the caves. Don't show any outside combat. Set everything underground, black the lights out in the caves and tunnels and have the action unfold in the feeble pockets of light afforded by little candles and lamps. Have injured folk constantly beaming into the underground outpost - a never-ending march of the dead and dying, which troubles Jake - and film the medical action in silence, with more Jake voice-overs.

For excitement, have the Klingon's constantly advancing through the tunnels and being met with technobabble armored doors. The Feds hold a door, fail, and fall back to hold another, the Klingons slowly closing on the last door and so the medical outpost.

Unless you're a Sam Fuller or a Kubrick (think Paths of Glory), you ain't gonna shoot impressive ground combat on a shoe-string TV budget. So why try? To this episode's credit, it knows this, and wisely to focus on psychology, and the effects of combat, but it needs to be tighter. And you can't constantly be breaking up the narrative momentum with scenes on DS9 of guys talking about decaffeinated coffee.
Adam E
Sat, Oct 10, 2020, 2:25am (UTC -5)
When I started watching the episode, the narration seemed a bit jarring. It's quite unusual in an episode to have a character directly voice his internal feelings.

The episode progresses, and the main conflict of the story is revealed: Jake thinks he's a coward. He thinks he's done wrong my Bashir. He's praised for being a hero at the end, but he acted only out of panic.

But then he writes a story out of it. The narration we've been listening to for the whole episode IS that story. The moments he's been telling us about his cowardice, are also him telling Bashir, Sisko, and the world about it—a courageous act.

It's a brilliant episode. It says so much about what courage is, and can be. There is profound courage in admitting one's failings, revealing one's vulnerabilities even when one doesn't have to.
Thu, Aug 12, 2021, 10:02am (UTC -5)
I don't get how so many of you didn't like this episode..

I thought it was very compelling. It has a fresh perspective by using a non-solider/starfleet character and putting them on the battlefront. One of the most memorable episodes of DS9, imo.
Gorn with the Wind
Thu, Aug 12, 2021, 9:14pm (UTC -5)
This episode is worth the price of admission alone for the scene with Jake and the grizzled, gutshot soldier in the foxhole.
Another Coward
Mon, Nov 22, 2021, 11:09pm (UTC -5)
Embarrassing story time. When I was in high school I was visiting some relatives one weekend, one of whom apparently didn't like me very much for some reason. A few of us went out to eat and said relative was drunk by the time we got back. When I walked in he just glared, pointed at me and said "YOU, get the F*** out!". I turned around and left so quickly that by the time I got down the stairs and outside I realized I had left my shoes behind, I was standing out there in my socks. I couldn't even go back for them and had to ask someone to go back in and get them for me. Now this was not a life or death battle with explosions going off all around me but I still felt like the biggest coward that had ever lived and it was such a horrible feeling. I was so embarrassed and ashamed that I had to ask and couldn't even go back to get them myself. Feeling like a coward sucks.
Mon, Dec 27, 2021, 3:53pm (UTC -5)
The acting of the soldier who shot himself was great, but the episode was disappointing.

Over all score: 2/10
Tue, Mar 8, 2022, 10:38am (UTC -5)
I liked this episode, especially the part where Jake just wildly fires the phaser rifle in a panic. Somehow it felt like a real reaction to a non-soldier who was barely an adult and had probably never even fired a phaser before. Really shows how "cushy" the civilians in the Federation are.

The one part I kind of groaned at was the idea that the Runabout was parked over a kilometer away from the compound. Possible, I guess, given the terrain, but it seemed a bit farfetched and a plot contrivance.
Sat, Mar 12, 2022, 8:09pm (UTC -5)
To watch this episode for the first time during the invasion of Ukraine from Russia. There are so many parallels. The part where Jake snaps and insists that this is all pointless is so poignant. That is exactly how I feel about what is happening in Ukraine: an old greedy man who wants to stay in power and is willing to do whatever he can to accomplish it, killing civilians and attacking a maternity ward. This even parallels Gowron's statement during the season premiere when it was revealed that a changeling provoked the war; he couldn't just end the war now that it was started: a testament to the power of egos. So many more countless deaths just because Klingon pride is more important than a misguided war.
Paul M.
Sun, Mar 13, 2022, 10:06am (UTC -5)
I dare say that wars in general and the one in Ukraine in particular are a bit more complicated in how they came about. Simplifying causes and historical context to "egomaniacs kill civilians coz POWER" will not get us far. Especially if we want to ensure something similar never happens again.
Wed, Mar 30, 2022, 3:17pm (UTC -5)
I very much liked the concept of she story. Jake is a real anti hero. I think it was a very good idea to try to show an emergenc situation from the non hero perspecive. And it worked quite well.

There are definetly some similarities with "The Siege of AR-558" but it quite far from that level. This was not 4 star IMO but I can understand the some people like it very much.

Realistily I am also aware of tha it probably not suits a majority.
Sun, Jun 12, 2022, 7:24pm (UTC -5)
One of the finest DS9 episodes. Absolutely stunning.
Tue, Sep 6, 2022, 11:34am (UTC -5)
Not a four-star ep. Not even close.

Some things didn't make sense while others were just a matter of going through the motions. It was all drawn out and forgettable. Even two would be pushing it.

Firstly, Jake, without Nog, is a pretty boring character. He's a good, wholesome kid--absolutely--but he's a cardboard cutout. His personal problems simply don't connect with me. I generally have no time for factitious characters' feelings, etc., and that amplifies exponentially when said characters don't inspire me.

Secondly, Jake, as he himself mentioned a few times, is no stranger to conflict and suffering. He was on D.S.9 a few of the times it got pummeled, so he saw destruction, injury, and death. Okay, maybe nobody died right before his very eyes, practically in his hands, but it's not like he'd had a cossetted childhood and was never exposed to severe adversity and stress. His reactions were therefore just a little bit O.T.T.

Now, see, I've experienced shelling and being under fire. Not great. Messes *with* your head and messes *up* your head. I also have experience doing things I'm very proud of but also experience punking out of uncomfortable situations like a yellow-bellied coward. In both types of case, I deal with my demons myself. I don't lash out. I don't have an identity crisis. (And yes, some of those incidents happened when I was 18, and many were even earlier.) I definitely understand anger, frustration, impotent rage--including with oneself--, but, I don't know... - I just didn't find Jake's theatrics believable.

The Klingon "battle" skit (and it really was a skit) was super silly. Didn't they say the Klingies throw away their weapons and resort to hand-to-hand combat (read: massacre) in close quarters? Why, then, were they firing like imbeciles at the hidden Jake instead of storming the little table he was hiding in back of, even if it meant dying "gloriously in battle," "with honor"?!?

Whatever. Next!

(Oh no, the next ep. is a Keiko-forward episode. Kill me now.)
Wed, Nov 9, 2022, 1:00pm (UTC -5)
Yeah, no. Strong disagree with the score here. Since the first scene, this episode TELLS me how i should feel. No, thanks.
Thu, Jan 26, 2023, 11:30am (UTC -5)
I just saw this last night for the first time. A powerful episode which has given me newfound respect (and affection) for Deep Space Nine, for the character of Jake, for Cirroc Lofton and even for Bashir. It basically asks you to look at all the 'derring do' of Star Trek from the point of a non-combatant. I wish more of the episodes of DS9 had been like this and fewer like the previous week's episode which was just plain silly and unrealistic.
Sat, Mar 11, 2023, 6:07pm (UTC -5)
This episode really dragged. What really annoys me about it is the lack of continuity with the ongoing political drama of the Klingons. DS9 is usually so good about continuity. The lack of integration made me much less invested in the plot.

Hearing that the episode is a homage to MASH must be why the guest characters felt so off to me, since I haven't seen it. The doctor with the husband on a starship was the only one who felt Starfleet. I agree with others that this was a 20th century plot badly transposed into the 24th. Jake's civilian status wasn't properly dealt with either because the episode was acting as if everyone here was drafted into a war and making the best of it.
Mon, Mar 13, 2023, 1:23am (UTC -5)
Gee, I had no idea so many of you are “experts” in 24th century politics and “proper” human characterization! So crazy that a 20th century show written and performed by 20th century people would focus on 20th century concepts and issues relevant to their time! I mean, why can’t these lazy writers just give us “true” depictions of society and people who won’t exist for another 300 years?!? Oh yeah I forgot, it’s supposed to be “King Roddenberry’s” Star Trek where there are only ever allowed to be perfect humans with impeachable morals who are just so much more evolved and enlightened than us primitive 20th century dolts! Just add more communism to make the “Elliott’s” of the fandom happy!

Submit a comment

I agree to the terms of use

◄ Season Index

▲Top of Page | Menu | Copyright © 1994-2023 Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication or distribution of any content is prohibited. This site is an independent publication and is not affiliated with or authorized by any entity or company referenced herein. Terms of use.