Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"The Ship"

2.5 stars

Air date: 10/7/1996
Teleplay by Hans Beimler
Story by Pam Wigginton & Rick Cason
Directed by Kim Friedman

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Now I know it's hot, we're filthy, tired, and we've got ten isotons of explosives going off outside; but we will never get out of this if we don't pull it together and start to act like professionals!" — Sisko in the face of dissension

Nutshell: An interesting setup premise, but the ending, despite having some depth, is underwhelming and quite overwrought.

While Sisko and his crew scout the surface of a Gamma Quadrant planet for resources, a Jem'Hadar warship unexpectedly falls into orbit and crashes. Sisko decides to investigate. Upon entering the ship and finding the entire Jem'Hadar crew dead, Sisko claims the ship for Starfleet and sends for the Defiant to assist in the excavation of a great strategic find.

Before the Defiant can arrive, however, another Jem'Hadar crew arrives, led by a Vorta official named Kilana (Kaitlin Hopkins). They promptly blow the orbiting Runabout out of the sky, killing four of Sisko's officers, and then they demand Sisko return their ship. Sisko has no intention of simply giving it back to them. He and his crew hole up inside the downed vessel and prepare for an attack. The Jem'Hadar do not attack, however; for some reason, they cannot risk destroying what is on board the ship.

"The Ship" is a mixed bag if I've ever seen one. It has an intriguing premise and it features our heroes in a tough position where they are going to get dirty before it's all over. It even goes so far as to have dissension among Sisko's officers—something rarely seen on Star Trek. But countering the freshness of the gritty elements is a host of standard plot machinations and an overwrought ending with only marginal effectiveness.

The nature of "The Ship's" plot is conducive for repetitive scenes. For example, early in the episode, Ensign Muniz (F.J. Rio) is injured by a Jem'Hadar weapon blast. As the show progresses, there are a number of scenes between Chief O'Brien (who has sort of taken the kid under his wing) and young Muniz. There's a lot of sarcastic camaraderie here—and most of it works. But there are so many derivations of the same sequence that it begins to feel like the show runs out of things to say about its situation.

Still, another way of looking at the repetitive nature of the story is that it allows us to feel what these characters are feeling; after being trapped in this ship for so long with Jem'Hadar explosions going off outside, it's easy to see how and why tensions continuously rise. The rise in tensions parallels right alongside Muniz's deterioration, as his condition descends from fair to bad to worse (his hallucinations and sudden breaking into speaking Spanish prove to be an effective and foreboding way of conveying his condition).

One thing I really like about this episode is how the mounting tensions begin to get the best of the crew. "The Ship" is definitely not catching the DS9 crew at their best. At one point in the fourth act, emotions build up until there's irritable dissension unlike anything seen on the series. There's enough attitude in the room to cut with a phaser. Worf's hardly-helpful comments about Muniz's condition ("He will not see tomorrow") anger O'Brien to the point of throwing punches. Meanwhile, Dax's sardonic sarcasm begins to annoy everyone (Sisko: "Maybe you didn't notice Dax, but no one's laughing"). I particularly liked Sisko's response to the situation to get his officers back in line; Avery Brooks shows his usual energetic authority. A good commander knows what he has to say and when.

Another aspect that is very commendable is the production. At no point during this episode did I get the feeling that I was anywhere but trapped inside this close-quartered ship. The sets are outstanding, and Kim Friedman's lighting and photography techniques are very nicely executed.

One thing that does not work in "The Ship," however, is the Kilana character. Kaitlin Hopkins appears very uncertain in the role—seemingly miscast—and most of her negotiation scenes with Sisko (many of which do not have much of a point to begin with) are further sabotaged by her lackluster performance. She delivers far too many mid-line pauses in her dialog to be convincing, and something about her entire demeanor just...annoyed me.

Also holding back the episode are the plot workings. Given the premise, the way the plot resolves itself is hardly impressive. Once Sisko realizes it's the cargo that the Jem'Hadar really want, Kilana agrees to let him keep the ship if he allows her to remove the item. Sisko doesn't trust her, and I don't blame him. He instead begins searching the ship for this mysterious cargo, but with no success. I was hoping the item would be something new, compelling, fascinating, or the like. Nope. Turns out that the item is a Changeling hiding on the ship, disguised as part of the floor. It dies (for reasons I'm still not certain of), and turns into a pile of ashes.

Once the Founder dies, the Jem'Hadar kill themselves for allowing one of their gods to die. With the damage done, Kilana beams on board and reveals everything to Sisko.

This is where the episode's Big Sweeping Message is revealed, and in a way that leaves much to be desired. While I appreciated the fact that the writers tried to make this adventure outing add up to something dramatically relevant at the end, I did not appreciate the bluntness of the lesson or the logic behind it. Sisko's statement, "The Runabout crew, your soldiers, Muniz... They'd all be alive if we had just trusted each other!" falls completely flat, and feels so spoon-fed that it borders on the pretentious. This line literally had me groaning, it's so overwrought. While the idea of a tragedy based on a lack of trust is certainly relevant material, "The Ship" does not have the depth or emotion it needs to pull it off successfully.

One glaring inconsistency in the plot is how Sisko refers to the loss of his Runabout crew as a direct result of not trusting the Jem'Hadar when the Runabout was in fact destroyed from orbit before the Jem'Hadar even beamed down to confront Sisko. It's not as if Sisko traded these officers for the strategic value of the crashed ship (as he terms it in a closing scene)—they were dead before he even saw one Jem'Hadar soldier, and there wasn't a single thing he could've done to prevent it. For that matter, even Muniz was shot in the Jem'Hadar's initial assault, long before negotiations had started. I suppose there's the possibility that he could've survived had the crew hammered out a compromise with the Jem'Hadar in enough time to get him real medical treatment, but even that is a bit of a stretch under the story's circumstances.

The big picture "The Ship" tries to get across, and not so subtly, is the analysis of death in the line of duty. This is not the first time Sisko has lost someone under him; nor will it be the last. It seems odd, then, based on the episode's events, that he would blame himself on this particular mission, especially given the extreme circumstances. A lot of Sisko's argument with Dax in the final scene seems somewhat unfounded when one considers the way the episode unfolded. This is not the first time we've seen this theme, nor was it particularly effective this time around. If the show really wanted to be about Sisko feeling guilt for losing officers under him, it might have been better if they had actually died as a result of his decisions or orders.

With a reworked ending and a more surprising "mysterious item," "The Ship" could've been much more effective. This is one time I wish the creators had pushed for a straight action show over a story with a message, because as it is the drama here is both not enough and too much.

Previous episode: Apocalypse Rising
Next episode: Looking for Par'mach in All the Wrong Places

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84 comments on this review

Sun, Dec 6, 2009, 2:22pm (UTC -6)
Oo... it occurs to me that something "new and compelling" that they could've found on the ship, that would've added to the depth of the episode, would've been a changeling *defector.* Some changeling that wanted to leave the Dominion for reasons of its own, but didn't trust "the Solids". (I suppose it shouldn't be a defector, which would raise questions of why it wanted to join the Solids. Perhaps just a changeling that wanted to leave the Founders but didn't like either side.)

Negotiations could be coming to a head, it would confound both the Feds and the Dominion, and then the changeling died... still a tragedy to the J'em Hadar, a tragedy for the changeling, and probably a tragedy to Sisko who no doubt would've spent time trying to convince the changeling of the advantages of joining the all-beneficient Federation.
Mon, Jan 25, 2010, 8:36pm (UTC -6)
I can't believe how out of character everyone is in this episode, especially Worf. I'm not saying Starfleet officers should never lose their temper, but in this scene it just felt totally uncalled for (not to mention Avery Brooks' overacting). Perhaps there just wasn't enough tension leading up to it.

I agree that the five deaths could have happened differently and made more sense (in terms of Sisko's guilt). And that's too bad because I really like the second-to-last scene between Sisko and Dax. I think this is the first time the issue of real people dying under your command was brought up, and it was about time. Too often do they just mention '11 dead' and move on, which is dramatically pointless.
Jeff O'Connor
Sun, Oct 17, 2010, 1:36pm (UTC -6)
Just watched this one last night. Sorry to disagree, but I did indeed love it. I found Hopkins' performance decent if not stellar; it seemed to fit the character that she was so uncertain.

Thanks for confirming for me that there was a glaring inconsistency regarding the runabout, though. That was driving me nuts.
Sun, Nov 21, 2010, 3:06pm (UTC -6)
I'm sure it was meant to be amusing in a funny-ha-ha kind of way, but the scene with Julian getting in legal trouble over Quark was stupid. Like there was any chance that Bashir was involved in Quark's criminal enterprise. The notion that it was such that Kira actually left their doctor behind over the matter on a mission to retrieve a downed crew was simply jaw-dropping.
Sun, Dec 5, 2010, 6:05pm (UTC -6)
I always liked this one because it put the characters through hell. I remember seeing this at my first ever convention as a kid with my dad. jadzia had that snarky bit about men or testosterone or something and sisko says that no ones laughing. sorry sisko, but the convention loved it. all the tension in the air and the character conflicts made this one really enjoyable.
Thu, Mar 10, 2011, 9:33pm (UTC -6)
I just watched this episode and I have to agree with Jammer's review of this episode.

Everyone seemed out of character like what Nic said. What was up with Worf acting belligerent out of nowhere? I agree in that tensions were not built up sufficiently so that everyone seemed to be acting out of character. Worf and O'Brien had been in similar if not worse situations on both DS9 and TNG!

Also, regarding Jay's comment with Kira leaving Bashir on the station with "legal problems" was a horrendous scene that made it one of the worst scenes ever. An away team found a Jem'Hadar warship and they are not taking their chief medical officer? They didn't know there was wounded but there could easily have been. It just was an absolutely horrendous scene.

Like what Jammer said with a mysterious find this episode could have been really stellar.

I must say that Terry Farrel's performance was quite fun to watch and her character is still my favorite on DS9. I wish her character was utilized more.
Tue, Dec 6, 2011, 10:48am (UTC -6)
I'm surprised the word "cleavage" hasn't been mentioned once in this review or in the comments. I was hardly able to pay attention to what was going on whenever Hopkins got on-screen.

Thu, Mar 22, 2012, 7:44pm (UTC -6)
Jammer's right - the Vorta's performance was annoying. In fact, the only decent actor playing a Vorta in the entirety of DS9 is Jeffrey Combs as Weyoun. It also says a lot that the second best performance turned in by a Vorta was Iggy Pop.
Fri, Mar 23, 2012, 2:22pm (UTC -6)
I thought the final scenes with Sisko/Dax and O'Brien/Worf were well done. It just occurred to me that the character of Muniz was seen in quite a few episodes leading up to this - since about the middle of the 4th season. Maybe it was a conscious decision by the writers to introduce a semi-regular starfleet crewman that would eventually be killed in the line of duty so his death could have more meaning to the audience.
Fri, Apr 27, 2012, 7:47pm (UTC -6)
Another great episode of DS9, I loved the interaction between the characters and Dax's sence of humor. The scene with Worf and O' Brien in the end was very touching.
Tue, May 1, 2012, 4:34am (UTC -6)
Pretty much standard fare, the scenery and battle scenes were okay for Trek standards but hardly a cutting edge dramatization. The close relationship between O'Brien and Muniz came out of nowhere and cheapens his demise. The Vorta performance did not bother me.
2 Stars from me
Sat, Jun 23, 2012, 9:55am (UTC -6)
Very good episode, the characters were the highlight of it.
Empty Shell
Fri, Oct 12, 2012, 1:16am (UTC -6)
Didn't like worf's out of nowhere "klingon tradition" of watching over a dead body.

trek has told us again and again that a dead klingon body is an empty shell and it is treated as such.

It was a forced resolution to a forced out of character conflict between obrien and worf.

not a great episode
Sat, Oct 13, 2012, 8:35pm (UTC -6)
@ Justin

I'd put Iggy Pop's Vorta at third best. Second best was Keevan.
Wed, Nov 21, 2012, 11:02am (UTC -6)
In the first scene between Sisko and the Vorta, I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Sisko talking about an old tradition: it's called salvage, we were here first, therefore the ship is mine (or something like that). That is very un-Federation-like, that's more Ferengi-like !

I thought Sisko would ask for a medical kit as a show of good faith; at least, it wouldn't have hurt to ask. At least, I would have seen the captain with more respect. Instead, he refuses a reasonable offer with twisted arguments.

Here's an episode that could have been good. However, I'm glad that for once, we see the crew care for the lost people in the line of duty. A shame it wasn't for the good reasons (and I completely agree with Empty Shell).
Mon, Dec 3, 2012, 11:47pm (UTC -6)
Maybe it is because i was about 15 when i first watched this episode. But still - another 15 years later - it remains one of my all time favourites of the entire series.
Brilliant direction, a good score, a great villain, superb character moments and one of the best endings of an episode of Trek. I love the changeling twist and this episode will always be remembered as the only TREK outing where the death of Red shirts is properly dealt with.
This is big drama ( especially the scenes between Colm Meaney and F.J.Rio) and i don't care whether it is out of character sometimes because i can't imagine what effect a tense situation like this would probably have on people.
Shawn Davis
Mon, Dec 17, 2012, 4:53pm (UTC -6)
Greetings Jammer. I would give this episode at least 3 stars instead of 2 1/2 stars. While I agree that it is not perfect (I agree with you about Sisko worrying about things that was not within his control to begin with like the destruction of the runabout which resulted in the death of the 4 crewmembers aboard that runabout for example. I also agree that Kaitlin Hopkins character as the vorta Kilana needs work). However, I disagree with you on everything else .
Sat, Apr 6, 2013, 9:15pm (UTC -6)
Has anyone noticed that when the crew first board the upside down; they enter through the bottom and then climb up instead of down. Somebody goofed.
Fri, Jul 26, 2013, 5:11pm (UTC -6)
The problem with this one is that, apart from the last five minutes, it isn't a DS9 episode. It's an ENT or VOY episode or a bad TNG episode. Or even a TOS episode. We have a bunch of redshirts that we know are obviously going to get killed for dramatic effect. Especially the redshirt we focus on for the whole episode who kind of came out of nowhere and we're supposed to care about.

And we sent our main characters on a runabout to see if this planet is suitable for mining. Dax I can understand, being the science officer. But Sisko, Worf, and O'Brien? Not a chance. They're far too important to just send off willy nilly into the Gamma Quadrant whenever a science officer gets curious. Especially Sisko, being Starfleet's main hope for maintaining relations with Bajor and, more importantly, maintaining a presence at the wormhole. If the Bajorans tell Starfleet to leave, Sisko is pretty much the only one who can convince them otherwise, being the Emissary. So he's far too important to risk on a runabout in the Gamma Quandrant on an expedition to see if a planet is suitable for mining.

These are mistakes the other Trek show would make, but not DS9. DS9 is smarter than that.
Fri, Oct 11, 2013, 5:41am (UTC -6)
The problem really was the "if we'd just TRUSTED one another. we are both EQUALLY at fault. we're both in the wrong EQUALLY" was completely unconvincing. kilana was the most manipulative, flattering, deceitful vorta i'd ever seen, and reminded me of how manipulative and vaguely-cunning the entire species can be. the idea of being able to trust kilana to save the others lives is a real stretch, especially when she sent the jem-hadar onto the ship, and her jem-hadar killed the runabout crew. quite frankly, it's pretty obvious who was in the wrong here, and was responsible for the founder's death, and had the real unreasonable trust deficit.
Thu, Oct 24, 2013, 9:06pm (UTC -6)
Not a bad episode. It's fun to see characters interact under pressure.

Tue, Feb 25, 2014, 9:08pm (UTC -6)
I guess I'm part of the crowd that loved this one. The characters interactions within the tense situation were very well-realized throughout the entire episode. The O'brien/Munez thread was nicely handled. No I don't know the character as he's only been a bit part in a few other eps. But that doesn't mean O'brien in the show is only allowed to be close friends with the regulars. Within the context of this episode it wasn't meant as let's force us to care about someone unknown. It was just part of the overall drama playing out. Maybe they could've had a different element to add to the drama in place of Munez? Sure, but what was here doesn't detract for me in the least.

The discussion between Dax and Sisko near the end was a tad much. However it was nice to see at least SOME sort of dialogue concerning the random death of "redshirts" as it were. The line involving how these people died for the crashed ship was just an oversimplification of saying how the events leading up to the shows end ultimately resulted in the deaths; and that being in command, Sisko, is ultimately accountable. A small rewrite there wouldn't have hurt.

The ending scene was about as poignant as it could get.

Overall, I saw a winner here. It was a step up from the solid premiere. The pacing was adeptly handled, the plot was good, characterizations were spot-on. Methinks I liked this more than Jammer. :p

3.5 stars.
Wed, Aug 6, 2014, 1:45pm (UTC -6)
Ah, the "Vorta w/boobs" episode. :-)

The first time I saw this I knew that a founder was in the ship as soon as they started talking about the construction of the thing. Is there ANY other reason the Jem'Hadar don't storm the ship?

Come on, this really makes our heroes look pretty naive.

Muniz - at least we have somewhat of a meaningful death. This wasn't just some "red-shirt". (they were all on the run-a-bout) We've known him for at least one prior episode. (maybe 2) I enjoyed Muniz. Sorry to see the character die.

Avery's acting here is just horrible.

"Muniz, the runabout crew, your soldiers, they'd all still be alive if we had trusted each other."

Not much better when he's talking to Jadzia about lost shipmates but the content of the conversation was good and needed IMO.

2.5 stars.
Tue, Aug 19, 2014, 3:18pm (UTC -6)
I enjoyed the tension of the characters being trapped and surrounded and it never seemed forced to me. While it was nice idea to explore losing people under your command in a personal way beyond random red shirts getting shot or killed by exploding consoles, the Muniz scenes got a bit melodramatic and repetitive. All of the characters were constantly stopping to reflect on his condition and I felt like the script was grabbing me and saying "THIS IS SAD!"
Wed, Aug 27, 2014, 8:49pm (UTC -6)
I'm with Jay, Jeffrey Combs' Wayoun is definitely the best Vorta ever, but Chris Shea's Keevan from "Rocks And Shoals" and "The Magnificent Ferengi" is definitely runner up.
Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 11:43am (UTC -6)

I agree. Check out my review over there.
Mon, Sep 1, 2014, 11:40pm (UTC -6)
Muniz - "I can't feel my legs"

Dax - "Don't worry. They're there"

Lol. That is the one line from Dax that made me laugh and it wasn't even meant to be funny.

This episode is just hard to watch. I cringe every time is hear O'brien say "Easy, Quique" and Muniz replies "ok papa"
Mon, Sep 8, 2014, 12:21pm (UTC -6)
I like this episode, though its brand of pinned-down panic is done better in BSG's second season with part of the crew trapped on Kobol. Of course, it's unfair to judge "The Ship" by the standards of an episode of another series that aired eight years later. But there IS something to be said for letting a situation stew. Maybe a two-parter is too much time for an episode like this, but the 20 minutes it takes for the crew to start cracking is a bit of a short cut. I realize more time has passed in-episode, but what matters is how it's presented.

Anyway - I DO like how the situation was very badly mishandled by the Vorta. Not only did she lose the Changeling, but she lost the ship and her platoon as well. Her tactics started out as a full-on attack (bad decision, considering the 100% likelihood of their targets holing up in the ship and finding the Changeling), a poor attempt at diplomacy, and espionage. Sisko reacted exactly as she SHOULD HAVE expected, and she was unable to think outside the box to get the job done. Though, that snack she offers Sisko may have her attempt to garner some trust, she should have realized beforehand how suspicious she'd be coming off (it's not clear if the snack is poisoned, but Sisko's reaction immediately makes the whole attempt a failure in either case).

I liked Sisko's line about trust - delivered well, I think. The Vorta should have known how to handle this situation. She should have known that telling Sisko about the Changeling would have given her team a higher chance of recovering it. She presumably knows all about Sisko - she does ask him about Jake - so should have used that to her advantage that he's a bit of a humanitarian. More trust would have been required on Sisko's part, who isn't privvy to any psych reports on Kilana. Even a trade would have worked: working Dominion technology for the Changeling, straight up. She should have known that.
Mon, Sep 8, 2014, 12:29pm (UTC -6)
One more thing to add:

Her outfit, which I hesitate to comment on - but was it part of her failed negotiation? No other Vorta so far has dressed like her, so her revealing top may have been another misguided attempt to soften Sisko's stance. Given the outcome of the episode, Kilana's actions look more and more desperate. It might have been neat to hear a Jem'Hadar perspective on the situation, too, though I think the writers wanted to avoid making Jem'Hadar-Vorta episodes boil down to dissent every time.

Anyway, a clean 3-star episode for me. Well written, pretty well performed, and adds some nice texture to the series without trying to be a game-changer. Worth watching.
Mon, Sep 8, 2014, 12:37pm (UTC -6)
One last comment, I SWEAR:

For anyone who likes Muniz, he also had a pretty substantial role in Seasons 6 and 7 of the police drama The Shield.

As an aside, The Shield is an excellent, excellent show that I don't hear talked about in hindsight such as The Wire, The Sopranos, and, very likely in the coming years, Breaking Bad. I know four other people who have watched it, and all were introduced to it by me - though it doesn't help that in Toronto it was very difficult to catch first-run episodes on their release without using... other methods.
Dave in NC
Mon, Sep 8, 2014, 2:18pm (UTC -6)
@ $G

Lol, every time I watch "The Shield", I flash back to "The Commish", haha.
Sat, Nov 29, 2014, 1:50pm (UTC -6)
Enjoyable episode (loved the Vorta). Don't usually see the crew in contentious discussions which I found both refreshing and out of character (been in much worst before for longer periods).

The whole tension falls flat for me however. I couldn't accept the stand off and felt the Jem Hadar were being portrayed as weaker than previously, once again like star trek does with other great villians such as the borg and klingons.

After the Vorta negotiation they know they are dealing with a small band of surveyors and a few warriors who are in an unfamiliar ship with a secret assett they can't find. The Jem Hadar are warriors born, can cloak, can beam into the ship anythime and they don't try it?!? Why? How about the Jem Hadar who entered the ship undetected and planted a device? He could have beamed in invisible, planted a sleeping gas device and waited till all the crew fell asleep. Then Jem Hadar storm the ship and do as they please.

I welcome any comments on flaws in my logic as not seen this show to the end yet, but overall enjoying the experience.
Mon, Mar 2, 2015, 7:18pm (UTC -6)
To the fool who said Avery was overacting. He played those scenes superbly. These were emotion driven scenes and he did not overact. Maybe some people think everyone should be bland and passive and if they laughed out loud it is an overreaction. I am glad none of you are paid film critics.
Nathan B.
Wed, Jul 8, 2015, 1:18am (UTC -6)
I discovered DS9 only a few weeks ago, and have been binge-watching it. I'm up to "The Ship," obviously. Meanwhile, I discovered only a few days ago, and have been binge-reading that. But I'm only on Season 1 right now, though for this episode I made an exception. One thing I've noticed about how "cool" this site is is that comment threads can continue for eight years and still seem coherent!

Anyway, to cut to the chase: unlike the worthy Jammer, I thought "The Ship" was a phenomenally good episode. I'd give it five stars out of four, and nothing less! Somehow, the rising tension, the riveting plot, the low-lighting, and the great character work of the actors and scriptwriters combined to make "The Ship" feel not like a TV episode, but like an epic movie.

"The Ship" puts our heroes in a desperate, desperate situation, and it gives them their humanity (or Klinon-ness, in the case of Worf) in that situation. That's character work at its best, and DS9 is the best Star Trek franchise at character work. Contra some, Sisko is not overwrought, either with the Vorta at the climax, or later with Dax. He's grieving, and he feels responsible for the deaths of his people.

And well he should. Sisko's claim to Dominion property on the sole (and incredibly childish) basis of "I found it first" is obviously morally wrong and intellectually laughable. His logic is as flimsy as cardboard.

Of course, Sisko is doing as the Federation would like, but this is a vastly overconfident Federation that continues to antagonize the Dominion by expanding into the Gamma Quadrant like old Rome expanding into its neighbours' space. The Federation has been clearly told to stay out of the Gamma Quadrant, and yet it keeps going back in--to colonize, to mine, to claim. And now, to steal.

Think about how Americans felt when the Serbs made American stealth fighter technology from a Yugoslavian crash site available to the Chinese. Now, imagine that US troops had showed up to secure the crash site within minutes only to find the Chinese were saying "finders keepers, losers weepers." Now imagine that the crash site was not in Yugoslavia, but in Mexico, close to the US border. Not an American alive would say the Chinese had the better claim simply because they happened to have local agents on the ground who found it first.

The Federation in this episode and the ones leading up to it is behaving as an amoral expansionist power increasingly prepared to sacrifice its principles for power....not unlike, in many ways, the modern US of A, which has bases in countries around the world in defense not of world peace but of its own "strategic interests"; a country that sacrifices rights and freedoms on the altar of domestic security. (DS9 touched on that, too.)

That's what makes "The Ship" so prescient and poignant. Those deaths that Sisko grieves were completely avoidable, and they were the result of salivating greed at the highest levels of the Federation at the mere prospect of rummaging through a salvaged Jem'Hadar ship. This is not your father's Federation. Picard would have been absolutely appalled.

The DS9 Starfleet officers on our mission give their lives to the service of Starfleet and the Federation, just as the Jem'Hadar give their lives to the service of the Founders. And just for once, the Jem'Hadar come off looking much the more honourable.

Now of course, it would be quite correct to point out that this interest in the Jem'Hadar ship does not occur in a vacuum. Starfleet has already seen significant losses due to Dominion actions, from the destruction of an Enterprise look-alike to the gutting of its traditional alliance with the Klingon Empire. Whatever else can be said, there is much to support the thesis that the Dominion is far more expansionist and dangerous to the Federation than the Federation is to the Dominion.

And that's what this episode is all about. It's easy to be a saint in paradise, but the Federation in the 24th century is not in paradise. It's got to navigate a universe in which there are very real threats to its existence. Sometimes, it will put its personnel in harm's way and sacrifice their very lives to achieve its larger objectives. Sometimes, the way it does this will seem, or even be, very wrong and unethical, but what are the alternatives? Too often, the issues and the possibilities are unclear. Could the whole war with the Dominion have been prevented if the Federation had not squandered the little goodwill that existed between the two quadrants? It's a valid question, and one with no easy answer. In a world of cold wars, military and economic expansionism, DS9 reminds us to ask the hard questions and attempt the harder answers.
Nathan B.
Wed, Jul 8, 2015, 1:27am (UTC -6)
@ Empty Shell,

You're probably right about the contradictory nature of Klingon tradition, but there are ways of harmonizing things. The first (and weaker possibility) would be to say that we simply haven't come across this tradition before.

But we could say that the tradition is an older Klingon tradition, even as, say, the Tridentine Mass predated the modern Mass in the vernacular. Rites change, perhaps even in the Klingon Empire. It would make sense for Worf to follow an older and no-longer-used Klingon tradition in this instance.

For my part, I found that scene very touching, and an appropriate end to an episode that had earlier seen Worf and O'Brien at hammer and tongs over Muniz's untimely passing.
Wed, Jul 8, 2015, 7:28am (UTC -6)
@Nathan - I think you're largely right, but I think you overplay the Dominion's moral high ground a little.

Space is big and the Dominion's claim to the entire Gamma Quadrant is a little specious. We were exploring the Gamma Quadrant for 2 years before we saw our first Jem Hadar.

And as of the previous episode they were shown to have planned an assassination of the Klingon Chancellor and set up pieces to take his place. It's not like they don't ever come into our space and stir up major crap.

That said, our incursions into their space are done in a cavalier way that we would never dream of pulling with the Romulans. But I personally felt that the agenda in securing a Jem'Hadar ship was to prepare in case of invasion, not prepare in case we decide to invade them.

I felt the move in this episode was defensive. Sisko may have though that in the likely coming war with the Dominion the needs of the many outweighs the needs of the few and having a Jem'Hadar ship might save lives.

Picard may still have been appalled, but your case against expansionism ends at the survey they came into the Gamma Quadrant to perform, not swiping the ship. When a foreign power attempts to take over the Klingon Empire unprovoked (to our knowledge) you have to get ready for a fight.
Nathan B.
Wed, Jul 8, 2015, 10:41pm (UTC -6)
Hi Robert!

I very much agree with you that the motivation for securing the Jem'Hadar ship is actually defensive in nature, but for me the point is that it wouldn't look that way to the Dominion's leadership, which is extremely xenophobic, in the sense that they distrust those outside their control. The changelings have endured probably millennia of unwarranted aggression against them, and then they have been attacked, unprovoked, extremely recently by Cardassians and Romulans who actually sought to exterminate them. They would be aware that the Federation and Klingon Empire have peace or armistice treaties with these powers, and it might be very easy for them to generalize in saying "the Alpha Quadrant is at war with us." It would fit their narrative.

The whole tit-for-tat and who-started-it-first is actually one of the things I like about DS9 so far. Many of the belligerent steps that each side take (and especially those that the Federation take) seem to be good at the time. It is possible to see how they are justified. But those same acts ratchet up the tension between the powers.

For me, the taking of Odo back to his homeworld for treatment is almost an overture of peace by the Federation to the Dominion ("Broken Link"). There's also the fact that the Dominion have allowed or aided DS9's crew on several occasions when it was within their power to have killed them all. The Dominion has also made overtures of peace to the Federation. Unfortunately, in this instance, the Federation squandered that goodwill, just as on other occasions the Dominion has squandered the Federation's goodwill.

I would agree with you that the Federation has, in general, significantly more moral high ground than the Dominion does, but in this particular instance, I think it's the opposite. And certainly, if the Federation is so enlightened and understanding of other cultures, the brazen and foolish way they colonize and claim parts of the Gamma Quadrant beggars belief--and here I would very much agree with your comment contrasting the "cavalier" way the Federation is behaving with the extremely cautious and prudent way they treat the Romulan Empire.

By the way, you're a favourite commenter so far in the other threads I'm reading!
Thu, Jul 9, 2015, 1:01am (UTC -6)
In regards to Sisko's "salvage" claim:

Maybe it's just me, but I always took that line as Sisko kinda messing with the Vorta. It's not like Sisko is above being a little bit of a smart ass once in a while.
Thu, Jul 9, 2015, 8:00am (UTC -6)
@Nathan - Nice of you to say! And I do agree with you, I often wonder if things had gone down a different way if they could have found a bit more common ground. I don't know how many other episodes I should mention though, as I've since realized you're not quite this far in the series yet :)
Nathan B.
Mon, Jul 13, 2015, 2:33am (UTC -6)
@Robert, thanks! I just finished "Let He Who Is Without Sin," but I part ways with most of the people on this site over it. I thought it was a great episode.

I'm still far behind in my reading of Jammer's reviews (and the comments!), though I am catching up. I'm now reading in parallel season 2 and season 5. It's really fun to watch the episodes and then read what people say about them!
Mon, Jul 13, 2015, 8:16am (UTC -6)
@Nathan - From a nitpicking perspective I find it hard to believe that the events in "Without Sin" could happen.

I personally liked a lot of pieces of the episode (and I like Leeta/Rom), but the fact that Worf didn't lose a pip over this bothered me. It was terrorism.

I liked the Worf/Dax stuff, the backstory as to why Worf isn't a "typical" unreserved Klingon, etc. I have a hard time with this episode because it's not outright awful like "Prophet and Lace", but having Worf sabotaging a planet's weather grid was just cringe worthy. I have to believe they could have found another way to tell this exact same story.
Nathan B.
Mon, Jul 13, 2015, 6:40pm (UTC -6)
Hi Robert!

I would not go so far as to call what Worf did "terrorism," although it was certainly criminal and political. Unless I missed something (and I might have!--I would welcome corrections), no sentient individuals were killed or harmed through his actions, and no infrastructure was permanently damaged. A room or two was turned upside down, and people got wet. Vacations were ruined, but there was no major lasting damage to any significant amount of property.

That said, I very much agree with you that Worf should have at the very minimum lost a pip over what happened; in fact, he should have been expelled or at least suspended from Starfleet. But the fact that he doesn't seem to face any repercussions at all is of a piece with the rest of Star Trek, which too often allows our favourite main characters to get away with things that they never could in the real world today.

Worf has, for instance, killed Duras in mortal combat while wearing his Starfleet uniform. For that, he gets only a reprimand! Quark endangers the DS9 station more times than I can keep track of under very nefarious circumstances, but he's never kicked off or imprisoned (one or two nights in the brig don't count).

Worf regularly punches, hits, or throws people whose only fault is to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, or who otherwise excite his passions.

In fact, Worf is incredibly passionate. He'll ask to quit his career without even the most minimum of notice in one episode, go off and murder Duras in another. He refuses to donate his blood to a dying Romulan when that offer could have helped the Federation's relationship with the powerful Romulan Empire. He tries to commit suicide. He tries to help others commit suicide. In "Rightful Heir" he doesn't even show up for his shift for the simple reason that he has a crisis of faith that sends him on a wild goose chase to find the Klingon Messiah. And he always comes back to his rank and his honour (within the Federation). Given all that, I don't really see how "Without Sin" can be considered anything other than typical Trek fare insofar as Worf doesn't face any consequences for his actions. (Then, too, after the disaster at Wolfram Alpha, the Federation war with the Cardassians, and the announced presence of the Dominion, perhaps the Federation is simply reluctant to punish talented Starfleet officers for their crimes. But that would put Gene Roddenberry's vision in a whole new light, though, and might mean that working in Starfleet could be very demoralizing!)
Nathan B.
Mon, Jul 13, 2015, 6:42pm (UTC -6)
By the way, I think watching Worf face his "crisis of the week" is one of the things that makes him so endearing! He's definitely a favourite character of mine, and it's always interesting to see him see his way through whatever is bothering him.
Tue, Jul 14, 2015, 7:35am (UTC -6)
@Nathan - I do see (and agree with) what you're saying, but I felt consequences in most of those situations. And I feel in most of those situations the Federation is hypocritical and self serving.... BUT at least I understand that.

Sisko/Odo put up with Quark because they need him. He's a pillar of the community, remember? But seriously, anytime he REALLY crosses the line he usually helps them find a way out of it.

Picard gives Worf a dressing down over the Duras thing (and Sisko over nearly killing Kurn)... but the fact is that in the civil war and with killing Duras I can see Picard convincing the Federation to turn a blind eye because Worf's actions benefit them.

Yes, Worf can be a bit of a firecracker, but I usually at least feel like there are consequences. He hacked the weather net (something capable of destroying the planet) and handed the device over to an Eco-terrorist. He's lucky nobody died in one of those earthquakes because that'd be reckless manslaughter!

Obviously we don't get to see Sisko rip into him after the episode was over, but I just felt like Worf crossed a line here that I would have personally preferred for him not to cross. At least the suicide/murder stuff was culture clash stuff. I doubt Klingons would find sabotaging a weather grid to be an honorable action on par with avenging your mate!
Nathan B.
Wed, Jul 15, 2015, 11:39am (UTC -6)
Hi Robert,

Just for the record, I was definitely rooting for Worf to kill Duras. ;-)

Anyway, there are other instances of a lack of consequences in DS9. Garak didn't face any for killing a Gul and helping Natima and her students to escape. O'Brien didn't face any for endangering the station and/or the Wormhole when a Pah-wraith was in possession of Keiko's body. I guess compared to Worf's situation, these situations were much more serious, with mitigating circumstances, but no Starfleet officer should allow himself to be blackmailed into hacking the station's computer system in order to save a family member.

In other words, while I do very much agree with you that Worf should have faced some kind of consequence for his action, I still think that the fact that he doesn't really is of a piece with much of the rest of Trek.

Having said that, I don't think that hacking the weather net could have caused the destruction of the planet. Presumably the people on Risa attained warp technology under the old pre-controlled climate. As I see control of the weather grid, it's more a matter of convenience and safety rather than avoiding apocalyptic scenarios. To be sure, it could be a matter of the potential for fatalities in some cases, but nothing on a grand scale. Also, Fullarton was never after fatalities, and in one case he stopped his followers from further excesses after they had "made their point." In other words, I basically think that any use of the T-word to describe Fullarton and Worf is overstating things. All that said, I agree with you that Worf should have faced some sort of consequence for his actions in this episode.
Mon, Jul 20, 2015, 2:54pm (UTC -6)
FULLERTON: You should see them all run. I think they've finally realised that the party's over. Increase the feedback in the tectonic stress regulators.
BOLIAN: If I do, there won't be a building left standing on this part of Risa.
BOLIAN: It might be a good idea to head to the spaceport. Or at least get out of this room.
FULLERTON: Very well. I think our work is done here.
(Worf and Dax enter)
WORF: The uplink. Give it to me.
FULLERTON: Mister Worf, I suggest you all get off this planet as soon as possible. I have no wish to see you or your friends harmed.

That sounds pretty serious to me. Not a building left standing? I mean sure... maybe they are exaggerating or I'm remembering the severity wrong, but as far as I'm concerned Worf handed a pretty serious weapon to somebody he couldn't trust.

That said you are spot on about O'Brien, though the Garak thing is perhaps murkier (as are all things involving Garak). Again, allowing her movement to succeed benefits the Federation so ::shrug:: we don't know who killed the Gul. Somebody had disabled station security in the docking bay. Our bad...

That relationship to Garak doing the dirty work for our heroes blows up in S6 (among other points), but it's certainly a running thread. But yes, O'Brien putting Keiko ahead of station security is as bad (or worse) as Worf not leaving Dax in the field to rescue the spy (which there were consequences for). I can't argue that one.
Wed, Oct 7, 2015, 2:59pm (UTC -6)
Meh episode. Two stars at best.

When O'Brien and Munez were talking all the time at the beginning, it was clear he was going to die.

Worf has been living his whole life with humans, and this is the moment he decides to unlearn everything and go all Klingon on O'Brien. Don't buy it.

When the Vorta told Sisko that there was something very special on that ship they needed to retrieve, it was obvious it was a Changeling. What else could it have been? If it was merely something that couldn't fall into Federation hands , they could have just nuked the ship from orbit.

If the Defiant needs two-and-a-half days from the wormhole to the planet, how could it be WEEKS off Dominion space? The wormhole is - depending on the episode - a couple of hours or a few days from the wormhole.

The Sisko-Dax scene in the messhall was horrible. A bunch of unsophisticated, uninspired dialog.
Tue, Nov 10, 2015, 5:55pm (UTC -6)
"killing four of Sisko's officers"
Three, actually. There were five casualties altogether - Muniz and the blue guy T'Lor on the ground, so that leaves three on the shuttle.
Tue, Nov 10, 2015, 6:04pm (UTC -6)
Your logic is right. Actually, they could simply have beamed everyone on board out.
Wed, Dec 16, 2015, 2:31pm (UTC -6)
You have to look past the usual set-up problems (all those people on one runabout into the wormhole), plus (as others have pointed out) pretend the transporters don't really work in the crashed ship. That last one, admittedly, is a pretty strong problem, since they showed a Jem'Hadar beaming in.

If you can get past that, I find it a pretty strong episode. The writing was perhaps a bit overwrought at times, but, Vorta aside, the acting was strong.

I felt the Changeling reveal was good...I hadn't guessed that the first time I watched the episode, and it does explain the actions of the Vorta & Jem'Hadar.

Jammer said in his initial review he wasn't sure why the Changeling died at the end. Well, he's probably figured it out now, but the failure of the inertial dampeners killed all of the "solids" whenever they changed direction at high speeds. It seems likely the liquid structure of the Changelings allowed it to survive the collisions (as well as the crash), but gave it injuries that eventually killed it.
William B
Sun, Dec 27, 2015, 5:15pm (UTC -6)
The episode's two biggest themes and draws are: the sense of claustrophobia on the Jem'Hadar ship, and the sense of futility at the sacrifices they have to make for a ship which they may not even want. I go back and forth on how successful the episode is overall. Jammer was correct in his review that it's silly for Sisko to talk about the loss of his men on the Runabout, shot down by the Jem'Hadar before they had any chance to respond at all, as if this was a consequence of the breakdown of trust and communication with the Jem'Hadar. However, what strikes me is that Sisko et al. did have an option they could have used to avoid the confrontation: leave when they found the Jem'Hadar ship. The decision to claim the Jem'Hadar ship for their own by "salvage rights" is the decision from which the rest of the episode follows. What really strikes me about these episodes -- basically most of s3-early 5 -- is how badly the Alpha Quadrant peoples mishandle contact with the Dominion. It is true that the Dominion is run by totalitarian conquerors who regularly cut off communication rather than attempt to open it, but the response of people in the AQ is consistently either to attack each other in paranoia, to launch doomed preemptive genocidal strikes on the Dominion, or to ignore the Dominion threat entirely and continue exploring the GQ like nothing has happened. It may be that there is no "good" way to deal with the Dominion, and that conflict is inevitable, but the Federation as a whole seems to have given up trying to prevent a conflict, but also is halfhearted in its efforts to prevent one, and Sisko taking a series of risks to protect their dubious claim on a crashed Jem'Hadar ship found while doing unrelated matters seems to fall into this general category.

And so this episode, in some big ways, plays out in miniature the whole problem of the Dominion war. Sisko et al. are not malignant, but disrespect what the Dominion boundaries are and are inconsistent in what they are prepared to risk -- they are willing to risk much for military advantage, and willing to risk very little to talk. As it turns out when the episode ends, the Vorta and the Jem'Hadar had no real interest in the ship, but only in the Founder they were (let's remember) programmed to protect at all costs, and naturally the Founder itself dies. Sisko bemoans that they could have avoided this if they could have only trusted each other, which is true...but a wider view reveals that the reason they couldn't trust each other is because of larger patterns that have already been established at the time of this episode. The Dominion's mistrust of solids is already based in part on the way the AQ solids have behaved before -- let's remember that the Founders' homeworld was nearly exterminated *twice* (the Obsidian Order/Tal Shiar, and Garak, though maybe no one knows about the latter one).

But moreover, there is no reason for Sisko to trust the Dominion at this point, either, particularly as they blew the Runabout up before there was any time to negotiate. While I think that there are ways Sisko could have handled the situation *before the Dominion arrived*, I cannot really fault him for not trusting the Vorta et al. after their arrival. If Sisko had given up the Founder, the Jem'Hadar would probably have just blown up their ship anyway; in fact, I have a hard time believing that these foot soldiers would have allowed Dominion property to fall into enemy hands under normal circumstances. And so on some level, Sisko could not really have just given up the Founder and hoped to keep the ship, without ensuring all their deaths, based on the precedent that the Dominion has set all this time. Conversely, the ability of the Defiant crew and the Dominion to trust each other to some degree in To the Death and Broken Link suggests that there is maybe some possibility that they could work together...but those incidents are ones that no effort has been made to build on, alas.

So, okay: was it the right decision to try to salvage the ship? The irony, as it turns out, is that the *only* reason they manage to keep the salvaged ship is that it had a Founder on board, and that the Jem'Hadar are so conditioned to worship the Founders that they committed mass suicide at its death. "Five days away" or not, Dominion patrols would obviously be closer than the Defiant, and once it was clear that they could not take the ship away with the Runabout they probably should have gotten the hell out of there, and *possibly* returned with the Defiant hoping the ship was still there. They could not reasonably have hoped to maintain control of the ship against any Dominion salvage mission with a Runabout. At best, they could have stripped the ship for materials with the Runabout, and prepared to run at the first sign of Dominion attack. Moreover, the question of whether taking the ship for salvage rather than warping away and possibly even leaving a message for the Dominion that they found a crashed ship as a peaceful overture was a good idea should have probably been discussed. I will grant that the Dominion are unlikely to respond to positive overtures, but it seems pretty certain that they will respond negatively to attempts to take their property. Part of what is interesting, too, is that the crew's increasing belief that there is something VERY, VERY IMPORTANT about the ship makes Sisko want to defend it even more, and creates the sense of hope that everything will be worth it...and in the end, it is nothing, really, aside from the ship itself.

All of which is to say that the only way to avoid what happened in the episode was actually to avoid attempting to salvage the Jem'Hadar ship entirely. The implicit exchange -- a Founder's life for the ship -- is something that could have happened if there was a fundamentally different relationship between the Federation and the Dominion, but there isn't. Sisko misinterprets the problem, and in some senses I think his failure to pinpoint that it's larger issues of trust that locked both sides down here. So the question is whether the benefits from the ship outweigh the disadvantages.

The episode's claustrophobia and crew conflicts, I think, work okay, with the conflicts sort of/mostly following from the characters. One problem with episodes like this, in which the main cast start to turn on each other in a tough situation, is that it is sometimes hard to establish why this situation is so much harder than others the characters have been in in which they did not start clawing at each other. I think that Muniz' slow, agonizing death, along with the implicit recognition that it may be for nothing, generally works well on this front. I do think that Worf and O'Brien's conflict is mostly well-handled, and toward the core of the episode; most of the time when a crew member is dying, there really is a medical personnel present to give a more definite diagnosis, and there is more possibility for action. This is a scenario in which there was fairly little to do but wait for Muniz' death, with some mild chance at survival, which puts Worf's inclinations to protect Muniz and O'Brien's inclination to hold onto hope into conflict. I also think that Dax's hostility ramping up was dealt with pretty well -- her sarcasm has annoyed me in previous episodes, and I like the idea that her blase, slightly superior attitude that the sarcasm demonstrates gradually became more and more manifest, until Sisko shut her down ("no one is laughing"). I think that the conflict among the crew ultimately stems from a feeling of unease based on Sisko's initial decision to claim the Jem'Hadar ship in salvage rights; they are waiting to be killed for *unknown reasons*, without a strong moral imperative for staying, and with fairly little to do. On Memory Alpha, many of the writers/producers suggest that they wanted the episode to feel much more claustrophobic than it ended up being, and wanted the O'Brien/Muniz connection to feel more real. That the episode really "should have" depicted a siege lasting much longer in-universe than it was, to show the gradual fraying of nerves, would have done much to make the character conflicts feel even more organic.

Overall, I think the episode is interesting and fairly successful, though in the end I think that the episode slightly trips over its real points at a few moments, and aspects of the crew's conflict do feel a little forced. I think Jammer was largely right on this one. 2.5 stars.
William B
Sun, Dec 27, 2015, 5:42pm (UTC -6)
Oh, I should add: one of the things I like here is that, as a microcosm of the whole Dominion/AQ conflict, it demonstrates the big problem of Dominion policy as well as to some degree Alpha Quadrant policy. The primary, indeed, SOLE purpose of the Dominion is to provide the Founders with security -- but the Founders' paranoia, which drops down through every level of their organization down to the foot soldiers, makes protecting their own wounded basically impossible. At some point in the past, the greatest threat to changelings was solids, and I see no reason to doubt that they once were persecuted (if nothing else, because we see Odo persecuted), but that time is long past and it is their own actions and policies in the Dominion that threaten the Founders most of all.
Diamond Dave
Sun, Jan 17, 2016, 10:07am (UTC -6)
Would have been a fine concept piece about duty and death, had not this same scenario been played out a million times in other sources already. By taking the main beats from the Big Book of War Cliches - wounded soldier/sneak attack - we're not really seeing anything new. We also have a very pat conclusion - the Jem'Hadar fail so they top themselves and we get a Sesame Street lesson on how things would have been different if we'd just trusted each other. The scene with Quark and Bashir also seems to belong to a different episode.

But despite all that there is a tense, claustrophobic feel to the episode and the internal strife is well handled. When Sisko chews out Worf and O'Brien - and then goes on to chew out Dax as well - it's a real shock to the system. 2.5 stars.
William B
Fri, Jan 29, 2016, 8:43pm (UTC -6)
I was thinking about this episode some more. I want to like it more than I do, and almost quite like it. I reread Nathan B.'s comment above, which I think makes an excellent case for the episode. Some what I wanted to get at in my comment (which I don't think was clear) is that this episode does show some of the way in which the Federation and the Dominion both badly bungle diplomatic relations, going to war when war is actually not what either side truly wants. The Dominion's belligerence actually endangers the Founders much more than it protects them, as we see in this episode. And Sisko's expansion near Dominion territory decision to salvage the Jem'Hadar ship sets the events in this episode into motion, in a way that reflects the way general incursions into the GQ antagonize the Dominion without very much effort actually being made to make assurances to the Dominion that they are *not* attempting to do what, say, the Tal Shiar/Obsidian Order did (given that they basically stop trying to communicate with the Dominion post-"The Search").

Still, as an episode itself, I think that a close analysis lets Sisko off the hook more than I'd like given the episode's downbeat ending. Maybe it was a bad idea to try to salvage the Jem'Hadar ship, but after that *initial decision* to be on the planet at all, all five deaths were the result of the initial Jem'Hadar attack of Kilana's, and four of those deaths were *immediate*. So basically none of the decisions Sisko made in talking to Kilana had any impact on his own crew's dying, except insofar as it could have been worse. This means that the majority of the running time, in which Sisko has to wonder whether or not he should trust Kilana or not, is in some senses irrelevant. And I think this feels wrong as a story choice, because to me this episode is not tragic in the inevitability of the ending (ala the Jem'Hadar plot in "Rocks and Shoals" or the damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't downbeat ending to "The Masterpiece Society") but tragic in the, ahem, *evitability* of the ending, which Sisko claims could have been avoided if only they had trusted each other. It is true that the Founder (and the Jem'Hadar) dies, and that is tragic -- Sisko is not as bloodthirsty as to want them dead -- but none of Sisko's crew's deaths could have been avoided by any actions after the initial decision to salvage, which means that I am left cold by Sisko's ending "we should have just trusted each other." On the other hand, his exchange with Dax about whether those deaths are worth the Jem'Hadar ship does apply, since Sisko should have recognized that he was risking Dominion response in salvaging (stealing) the ship. Dramatically, I guess I wish this were more like something like "The Galileo Seven," where Spock continues making command decisions and each one has consequences in-episode, so that there is a lot of room to evaluate his mistakes (and successes). Sisko's decisions basically have very little impact on the plot, but the dialogue still revolves around Sisko pondering what he could have done differently rather than the sense of tragedy that he could do nothing to prevent it.

On the other hand, O'Brien does say that Muniz will die if they can't get him to a medical bay, and Kilana said that their wounded would be cared for. And so while the other four deaths were basically unpreventable by any actions after the initial decision to salvage the ship, it may be that Muniz could have been saved. So Muniz' slow, agonizing death is the reminder that every moment Sisko continues *not* to make the choice to trust Kilana, he is continuously *not* saving his crew member. That Kilana bungles the situation very badly is on her; and unlike many others here, I actually enjoyed the actress' performance and did find Kilana's tacit admission of failure (pretty much throughout the episode) pretty effective -- as if Kilana is so intensely afraid for the Founder that she keeps making rash, dangerous decisions but then tries to (ahem) salvage the situation with fake confidence and flattery when they fail. But that Sisko is unable to figure out that she is trying to protect a changeling, and his failure to ask for a medkit as a show of trust (as a commenter indicates above), is on Sisko and gives weight to Sisko's "trust" line, even if it does not seem to me that it means anything for those other four crewmembers.
Tue, Apr 26, 2016, 10:11pm (UTC -6)
Jammer is absolutely right that "the message" of "The Ship" is rather forced. Look, I get it - losing people under your command sucks. Still, I do think it was effectively conveyed through Muniz's deterioration. He's also right that the message is pretty substantively undermined by Sisko's decisions not being the direct cause of any the five Starfleet deaths. You could argue that his and the Vorta's decisions to not trust one another lead directly to the deaths of all the Jem'Hadar and Founder, but that clearly isn't the focus in the final scene with Dax. It's painfully obvious that Sisko doesn't give a damn about those deaths, only about the deaths among his crew. In that, the episode definitely suffers.

However, "The Ship" is a superb episode in every other way. The lighting, the atmosphere, the close-quarters and especially the dissension among the heroes make this a very enjoyable outing. Having O'Brien and Worf so at odds with each other is indeed something that is almost never seen in Trek, so that was a very welcome change. And they even had Sisko call Dax on the carpet on her often overbearing attitude and personality, another plus (at least for me). Having Muniz be the one who dies in the attempt to ram home "the message" was also a nice touch. Since he has been a somewhat recurring character before now (not on the level as most of the recurring cast, but he has appeared before - most notably in "Hard Time"), having him die was more impactful for the audience. They could have just had a random nobody character die like most Trek episodes would, but they instead went with a somewhat established character. I applaud them for that. Finally, it was nice so see a little variety in the make-up of the crew this time around, with two very distinctive non-Human aliens among them.

As for the role of Kilana, the Vorta character, I have to strongly disagree with Jammer. I didn't find things like her mid-sentence pauses and stumbling demeanor off-putting at all. It seemed very much in character. That's because I think it's clear that she's using a very specific technique in her "negotiations" with Sisko - she's trying to flirt with him. She adopts a very demure attitude and mannerisms and lays on the flirtatious affectations in order to lower Sisko's defenses. She even goes so far as to show a rather generous amount of cleavage as a part of ruse. She's trying to use her feminine wiles as a negotiation tactic. On a lot of people, that probably would have worked, as she is a pretty attractive woman. It just doesn't work on Sisko. Given that all of these mannerisms completely disappear in her final confrontation with Sisko and Dax after the Founder's death - gone are the mid-sentence pauses and flirty attitude, she becomes a fairly no-nonsense straight-to-business type person - it only solidifies my belief that she was putting on an act for Sisko for most of the episode. Given that we also never see another female Vorta act this way, it only further bolstered that belief. In other words, the character really worked for me.

Tue, Jun 14, 2016, 3:45pm (UTC -6)
Boring in the beginning, overwrought in the middle, clichéd at the end. Terrible acting throughout.

It defies credibility that the Klingons would think it is honorable to die in battle but not honorable to be wounded in battle and die of that wound two days later.

Why was O'Brien allowed to spend so much of his time playing nurse when he should have been working on the ship's systems from the moment they boarded?

How come they never needed any more bandages? By the end of the episode everyone should have been sleeveless.

The first scene where O'Brien and Worf argue about whether to kill the red shirt guy was so overacted that I thought that they were doing it on purpose to fool the Vorta who was eavesdropping, or something. Then I figured that like the sword that Worf and Jadzia found last season there was something on that ship that made people act out of character. But, nope, it was just hot in there. It would have been a more interesting episode (maybe) if they had played up the paranoia aspect of being trapped on a ship with lots of nooks and crannies knowing that the Jem Hadar can beam in at any time.

I thought the Dominion claimed all of the gamma quadrant as its territory?
Tue, Jul 5, 2016, 4:32pm (UTC -6)
In the military we have a term: OPSEC. Operational Security. It means not openly discussing tactical or strategic plans. For example, Kira NOT telling Odo, Quark, and Bashir she doesn't have time for their petty problem because she has to go help Sisko retrieve a captured Jem'Hadar vessel, the "greatest intelligence find in the last ten years," according to the captain. Odo, maybe. Bashir, he's not need-to-know. Quark who is still smuggling illegal merchandise?! Now, we can trust Quark won't willingly damage the prospects of the Alpha Quadrant, depending on the price. But considering his wide range of contacts, he only needs to mention the downed ship to someone, and then a Dominion spy overhears and sends in the Jem'Hadar. Which is exactly what happened. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

I like Muñiz's line, "Don't worry, jefe. I'll get you through this one."

So Dax, a Trill, can't even speak Trill with trilled 'r's, nor can she trill the 'r's in Klingon — but she goes out of her way to trill the 'r' in "Enrique"?? Pandering much?


I want to thank you, because you really helped me to hate Dax. She's awful! I never realized it before I read your reviews. In addition to your pointed criticism, my biggest pet peeve is that she always calls the captain by his first name. It's so unprofessional. I don't care if they are friends. Time and a place! When she is set straight by Sisko, she calls him "Captain" with such condescension.

Tactical mistake: not taking Kilana hostage!

Why is Worf obsessed with Enrique dying? It's not like he has been with humans for a few days. He grew up on Earth! He knows how humans feel about friends dying. His Klingon moralism is utterly contrived, only so that we have a completely artificial discord of these characters:

Worf says to Miles (his friend of 10 years!!) "You are just another weak human afraid to face death."
Even if he weren't a decennial friend, didn't these assholes just enjoy some serious team building on Kronos?! WTF!

This is completely unbelievable. Dax being a snarky bitch, that is common place. I wish Sisko had smacked her broad across the face like a Klingon captain would. She was completely out of line. Miles was just trying to fix the ship and help his friend (who is not an ensign by the way, Jammer, but a crewman, probably an E-3). Worf and Dax are beyond the pale. They deserve each other.

Some barrage! It sounds like distant thunder. This is what breaks their cohesion?! Improbable.

I don't like whatever lesson was supposed to come from this. "...if we had trusted each other!" says Sisko. What?! Dude, Benny, your people died, and the Jem'Hadar died, because of the freaking *Jem'Hadar*! They blew up the Runabout and attacked because they are Dominion.

@Luke, do you think this idiotic message is comparable to left-wingers blaming the United States' for being attacked by Al-Qaeda?

I also think Jammer is dead wrong about Kilana. The unsure-of-herself routine (along with the low cut dress) were meant to lull Sisko into a false sense of security, as was the "it's my first mission" lie. "I'm just a helpless attractive woman in need of a big, strong captain to help me through this diplomacy stuff." Sisko to his credit does not bite. And she looks pissed. All Vorta have this cloying aspect to their character, and Kilana oozing the diplomatic schmooze plus the weak-woman honeypot ploy is perfectly in character for her and the Dominion. I really like her character.

Or maybe it was just the dress...

Didn't they say this Jem'Hadar ship was indeed special in its construction? I guess it wasn't after all. It just had a Founder on it. Oh...

In the final analysis, even I used to really enjoy this episode, it has two untenable problems. Worf is bizarrely out of character, and Sisko blames himself in an unfathomable attempt by the writers to equivocate both sides in a conflict as being equally wrong.

@Luke, I am seldom harder on episodes than you are, but on the Luke Scale I would give this a 5/10 at best.
Paul Allen
Sat, Dec 24, 2016, 12:54pm (UTC -6)
"we will both keep the predators away."

Mon, Mar 27, 2017, 12:04am (UTC -6)
Sorry if this repeats something another commenter has said (haven't had time to read them all) but I respectfully disagree on your approval of the "tension boiling over scene".

I absolutely did not get enough stress and craziness in this episode for Worf, and Dax to just go SO out of character. O'Brien is losing a colleague/subordinate/friend. It's sensible that he would be angry with jokes or Worf's attitude...

But Worf ripping a console out of the wall? Dax chiding him for it?

Then this exchange:

WORF: That is no way for anyone to die.
O'BRIEN: I told you, he is not going to die.
WORF: It is only a matter of time.
O'BRIEN: So we might as well kill him, right?
WORF: If you truly are his friend, you would consider that option. It would be a more honourable death than the one he's enduring.
O'BRIEN: I'm not some bloodthirsty Klingon looking for an excuse to murder my friend.

This one is not completely out of character but the line that follows comes out of the middle of nowhere in my opinion:

WORF: No. You're just another weak human afraid to face death.

Worf and O'Brien have been colleagues and I suppose friends for years. Since when does Worf have this much disdain for humans, let alone O'Brien.

O'Brien then takes a swing at Worf, to which Dax makes a joke. Not like a "nervous, under her breath" joke... a flat out "everyone will thing this is funny" kind of joke... in that situation... it's just so out of character for someone with that many lifetimes of experience.

Honestly, they know the Jem Haddar won't bomb the ship, so while they've had hours of loud bombardment noise... I'm really not understanding what the actual stress building is any more than other situations this crew has faced where they haven't buckled.

Just two episodes later, in "Nor the Battle to the Strong", we see a far more convincing implementation of a stressful uncertain situation; perhaps because we have a novice like Jake and rookies and doctors facing a real threat, and not these seasoned officers facing seemingly no imminent threat. "The Siege of AR-558" 2 seasons later would do another good job on the same theme. Neither episode features the senior staff (Bashir in the former, and lots of others in the latter) breaking down and going off-character due to nerves.

Finally (on that topic), I felt that Sisko's over-enunciated yelling at the crew came off a bit theatrical and over the top scripted, and not so much natural.

I agree that Kilana was not played well. Apparently (for the second failed time), the Vorta was intended to be Eris, (the Vorta from "The Jem'Hadar" in s2), but the actress was again unavailable. I also agree that potentially the stakes could have been better if more had died as result of Kilana and Sisko's actual decisions. That would also have added to the basis for the crew to get increasingly nervous since their decisions would have led to more and more of them getting killed as time went on.

Apparently the producers also felt this one was a bit of a failure. Ira Behr didn't think the tension built like they wanted, and the writer felt when Sisko etc. go outside and meet with the enemy, it kills the tension, and felt it would have worked better if they had remained bottled up in the ship the whole time and only had the Vorta taunting them verbally by transmission. I might agree with that point. Behr also felt that the attempted relationship between O'Brien and Muniz (who had been in several other episodes) didn't work. I don't know if I agree. Perhaps they wanted to really get a bond established more than they did here, but I nevertheless did get the feeling like there was some existing bond and that O'Brien was taking it harder than just "some crewman". It did come off a bit as O'Brien feeling responsible for a kid under his command more than as actual friends as equals, so maybe they could have improved there.
Lt. Yarko
Thu, Mar 30, 2017, 5:26pm (UTC -6)
I had a lot of the same problems with this episode as others mention in comments above. But what really bothered me was the jem Hadar killing themselves. Really? They can't continue living to protect another founder at some point in the future? And then the vorta says "well there's nothing I can do to stop you from taking the ship" but she clearly had a ship in orbit because she was able to beam out, and she should have been able to blast the ship from space, destroying it and killing all her enemies inside. Our heroes got out of this way too easily.
Sun, May 7, 2017, 5:13pm (UTC -6)
All Muniz needed was an IV. Find some water and a tube, sterilize them, and wait for the Defiant.

Can we agree that Worf is the worst? Screw him and his Klingon crap. You find humans and Federation values stupid? Go the eff back to your violent dicks of a people and take Dax with you.

At least no Keiko in this episode.
Fri, Jun 9, 2017, 10:39pm (UTC -6)
"Now that all the minor characters are dead, let's head for home."
Fri, Jul 28, 2017, 4:41pm (UTC -6)
2 stars. Overrated doesn't even begin to describe this. The death of the bit player we never saw before did nothing emotionally. The build up of the mystery as to what is on the ship fizzled. I suppose if you are someone who thinks characters bickering at each other is great drama then This episode rocked but I however am not such a person. Ultimately like I've said before this episode only is worthwhile for the salvaging of the Jem'Hadar ship that is put to great effect down the line
Thu, Aug 24, 2017, 7:08pm (UTC -6)
"The Ship" had the makings for a very interesting episode and it did a lot things right (the premise, Brooks' acting, reacting to dying crewman) but there plenty of annoying things about it too. I think Jammer's review is on point and nails my sentiments pretty well.

I guess I would question Sisko's assertion that because he found the ship, it's his when the Vorta female claims it as theirs. I believe she's right here. I guess the Federation claims the planet but it's the Jem'Hadar's ship.

The negotiations between the Vorta female and Sisko really irritated me. She and the Jem'Hadar destroyed the roundabout and now they want to talk with Sisko -- why don't they just beam soldiers into the ship and kill Sisko and his crew if they just want to get/save the dying Founder? And what was the point of all the ongoing explosions?

Instead the Vorta female proves to be incredibly annoying as a character -- just the wrong actress for this role. She was terrible. Hard to believe this bimbo-like character is commanding the Jem'Hadar on this particular mission.

This was actually one episode where I think Brooks' acting was on point 1) during the negotiations with the Vorta and 2) setting his crew straight when at each other's throats. Good to see him lean into Dax for her dumb comment.

I also thought Worf was out of character in telling O'Brien that his trainee would die. Worf's been around humans long enough to know that he shouldn't be saying those things.

A lot of the episode really does revolve around the attitude toward the dying officer and Sisko takes it personally -- it is good to see it but it does seem misplaced as he was not directly at fault. So that part at the end was a bit overblown as was when Worf comes to see O'Brien at the end near the torpedo. I would find it hard to believe that these 2 are so quickly on speaking terms.

2.5 stars is the right rating here -- a case of dropping the ball for an episode that had good potential and some poor / out-of-character acting. Really could not stand the Vorta female. Ultimately, the examination of the crew after the trainee's death didn't resonate with me.
Sat, Jun 23, 2018, 9:29am (UTC -6)
I think this episode could have used another rewrite. But most of the tension was really well done, and you can't help but love Sisko when he's asserting his authority. O'Brien is one of my favorite characters, but he just didn't seem very convincing to me here. At first he was taking shit from the from Munoz, and then doing all these worried Grandma faces. I think they make the chief look like a schmuck too much of the time. His rank is also unrealistic considering the breadth of both his duties and accomplishments. My biggest problem with the episode is how it started: it's obvious by now that exploring the gamma quadrant in a runabout is just stupid. Any sane commander would consider the defiant or another warship to be the only reasonable choice.
Mon, Aug 20, 2018, 12:24pm (UTC -6)
There's a lot to like about "The Ship", and quite a bit to dislike. On the negative side, the O'Brien/Muniz scenes are a cheap way of trying to elicit more emotion when Muniz dies later. It's also never as harrowing or intense an episode as it clearly wants to be, and really should be. On the positive side, the ending scene is excellent, the O'Brien/Worf feud was very well resolved, and there are some really effective moments sprinkled throughout. Pretty much the definition of a mixed bag.
There's a terrific episode buried somewhere in here, but it's unfortunately marred by poor execution.

2.5 stars.
Mon, Nov 5, 2018, 12:58pm (UTC -6)
Recently re-watched this episode.

Overall, I liked it, but I think I agree with Jammer's evaluation.

One of the things that struck me as problematic is the O'Brien/Muniz angle. We'd only seem Muniz what? Two before this episode? And in those, he was just kind of on-screen not doing a whole lot of anything memorable (except getting a bollocking from Worf in 'Starship Down') or anything to get the viewer emotionally invested in him.

In 'The Ship', however, he's shown to have what seems to be a very close relationship with O'Brien, and I was kind of left wondering, 'Where the hell did this come from?' So, in this sense, the impact of his dying, and ultimate death fell a bit flat.

Except, in another way it didn't.

I found the on-screen chemistry between Rio and Meaney actually great to watch, and the script and direction really helped them. So, in that sense, I was also left with, 'Aw, come on! These two work great on-screen together, and you want to kill Muniz off?!' So, in this sense, Muniz's death kind of hit.

In any case, enjoyable episode, overall, but certainly not without its share of issues.

I'd also say 2.5 stars.
Mon, Dec 17, 2018, 7:15am (UTC -6)

Yeah, exactly. The Muniz stuff almost works, but he just has one too few appearances.
Tue, Jan 15, 2019, 6:39am (UTC -6)
Not bad, some good stuff.

The presence of an ailing Founder is a fairly decent explanation for the extraordinarily soft kid gloves.

Sisko isn't wrong with his overwrought speech about TRUST, in that even the runabout crew would be alive if Kilana had taken that relatively small chance on trusting them - though that is no way Sisko's fault.

Muniz, yep, that's surely his fault. He didn't even bother to try to negotiate for some medical assistance. I'm thinking that's a deliberate oversight - the idea being that all along, Sisko was willing to sacrifice Muniz for that ship. He took the chance deliberately and consciously, knowing Muniz's chances were nearly zero - which is why his guilt is heavy on him at the end.

The ep seems to be about priorities and choices and values.

Kilana's make up and outfit was distracting and a minus for me, but I guess Trek's gotta do what Trek's gotta do.

Kept my attention. Awkwardly done in many way. Solid Trekkian fare overall.
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 5:58am (UTC -6)
I am unsure whether the writers on DS9 are unable to think anything through, or just don't care.

Why no medical officer?

Why did Sisko negotiate in such an aggressive manner?

Why didn't he ask for medical aid?

Why didn't they just beam them out of the ship?
Fri, Jul 5, 2019, 8:07pm (UTC -6)
This episode would have been so much better if the Jem Hadar captured the crew on the roundabout and the Vorta tried to use them as a bargaining chip. Sisko doesn't trust them but at least the pretense of the negotiations could exist. Then the founder dies and Jem Hadar blows up their ship or something with the roundabout crew still aboard. Because as the episode stands Sisko did literally nothing wrong. Why would he trust the word of person who ordered the destruction of his ship and crew and then tried to gun him down? Why would he feel responsible for their deaths if his decisions didn't impact events in any way? I understand you can't help feel responsible for deaths under you command but that ending part with Dax was so hamfisted considering.

The thing with Worf, they should have went with "put him out of his misery" angle or something. Because that was so stupid. Why does Worf care about a human's honor? It's not like he doesn't understand humans by this point. Was the point that things where so intense that Worf couldn't keep his cool? Isn't Worf supposed to be a badass? Why can't Worf keep his cool and show some character development as an CO? It would be nice change of pace if he was the one who kept the rest of crew on point for once. But no, he's Worf, destined to fuck up every other episode.
Bobbington Mc Bob
Wed, Jul 10, 2019, 1:21pm (UTC -6)
So if I ship some exotic pets via FedEx and they fail to tell me I need an import licence, then they also decide to ship 3 tons of heroin in the same shipping container as my pets, I can be prosecuted for the pets AND the heroin? Or did they just make this pants-on-head daft law in the 24th century?

That was the scene that started the irritation with this episode. Then, with the most elite fighting force in the gamma quadrant bearing down on everyone, they all stand in the open having a bit of a chat about what to do and not looking at the enemy, but the Jem Hadar seem inacapable of capitalising on their inattention, unless its a redshirt wot has top bants with the chief?

Then everyone being a jerk for the sake of it, with O'Brien and Worf kicking off before the understandably nerve shattering bombardment began (this was after all a PTSD inducing WW1 tactic). I don't really get why Worf is being written as such a massive pen15 so far, perhaps they need to get daddy Jean Luc to come have a word?

The Jem Hadar not only offed themselves due to the dead founder, but let the Federation take their ship to reverse engineer, even though by that stage there was nothing to protect. Its like the Secret Service letting the president get shot then just handing over the plans to the F35 as well because they failed.

One thing I did like is the continuing representation of the manipulativeness and guile of the Vorta and Founders, and their intelligence gathering capabilities. I quite liked the representation of the female Vorta, who was effective enough to make me feel Sisko was being unreasonable with his mistrust.
Sat, Oct 5, 2019, 6:42pm (UTC -6)
The crew member holding the medkit gets killed when the Jem H'dar first attack. So presumably the medkit is laying around somewhere near the ship. So why doesn't Sisko get it for Muniz when he goes outside to speak with the Vorta?
Tue, Oct 22, 2019, 10:28am (UTC -6)
Teaser : **, 5%

In the reviews of “Deadlock,” I recall a lot of complaints that the fact that the Voyager was severely damaged at that episode's end but would be fully-repaired by the next week ruined the story, was evidence of lazy writing, made the show feel shallow, etc. Many are/were unwilling to extend an ounce of creativity or speculation to make it work because Voyager sucks, ergo everything Voyager does sucks unless someone's YouTube review says it doesn't...or something. I mean, to each his own, but the first thing Sisko's log reveals in this episode, after just having blown open a very serious Dominion plot at the end of last week's episode, is that most of the DS9 senior staff has decided to complete a routine survey mission of a planet in the Gamma Quadrant. In a RUNABOUT no less. Can we contrive reasons for this? Sure. But I don't appreciate the double standard. This is the fifth season of the show and the set-up for this story, however it turns out, is silly even without the context of continuity. Considering, as William B noted, the general state of affairs of the series at this point, and the context of the very last episode in particular, it's completely absurd. But we shall suspend our disbelief and move on.

As I said, Sisko and...a lot of people for some reason are on this survey. Like a dozen of them--yeah. We catch up with O'Brien and Muñiz (who in any other episode would be on this survey by themselves) pausing to banter about how old O'Brien is, and to establish their rapport. O'Brien doesn't like being called “sir,” because he's not an officer. It's all very heartwarming, so saith the script.

They catch up with Sisko, Worf and Dax. Dax is there to talk about the ore they're totally going to start mining. Yes, why not set up a mining operation in the heart of enemy territory sixty thousand lightyears away from Federation space? And Worf is on hand to assess the strategic viability of such an operation. For a planet. On which he is standing. Let me ask you, what's the strategic viability of supplying Mars with wheat grass and iPhones? I'm asking you because, as someone on Earth, you have a strategic vantage point in making this assessment. And Sisko is on hand to command these people. How would they possibly do this job if he, the captain of a vessel and commander of a space station, weren't standing right there ordering them to do their jobs?

Anyway, the other half of the crew that was apparently sardined into the runabout makes contact with the away team to warn them that a ship has dropped out of warp nearby. It crash-lands just out of sight of Sisko's away team because of course it does. They're beamed over and discover that it's a Jem'Hadar warship. What in the GQ? Get out of town...

Act 1 : **.5, 17%

They manage to break into the ship, which isn't nearly as damaged as you'd think it would be, but IS upside-down. That's a bummer. The production design is definitely commendable as the flickering lights, smoke and horror movie score create a real sense of dread, especially after the sunny scenes we just left on the planet surface. They eventually run into some Jem'Hadar corpses, which is a little obvious, but okay. According to Dax, they died well before the crash, from inertial dampener failure. O'Brien and she begin to learn about Dominion ship design—surprised at a lack of viewscreens and other ubiquitous Star Trek staples. Sisko wants to haul the ship back to the AQ, naturally, but the runabout isn't going to cut it. See, that's a contrivance that plugs two plot holes on its own!

So, we cut to DS9 where we finally get an appearance by Quark. He and Bashir are being dragged by Odo into Sisko's office over some conflict. He ordered some spiders for Kira (don't ask), and Quark neglected to mention he needed a permit to import them. Kira tells them to work it out while she takes the Defiant to the GQ to perform salvage. Yawwwwn...

At the site of the crash, O'Brien is mumbling something about fixing the ship's engines to make towing easier and Worf reports that they finished burying the dead Jem'Hadar. But then, the runabout is shot out of the sky by another Dominion vessel and Sisko watches his crew vaporise in the atmosphere.

Act 2 : **.5, 17%

The Jem'Hadar appear, kill a blue shirt and wound Muñiz before the crew take cover inside the crashed ship. Dax mentions that the Jem'Hadar's magic transporting abilities make it likely they'll materialise in the ship...but they don't. Sisko and co. head back to the command centre and O'Brien chides Muñiz for putting on a brave face while he bleeds out from his wound. With the med kit lost and the Defiant 2.5 days away...yeah Muñiz is carne muerta.

O'Brien manages to get the ship powered up and they continue making small discoveries about Dominion tech, including these little eye-pieces that allow visual contact for the Vorta and the First. While Muñiz continues his 2 days from retirement thing, a Vorta called Kilana hails them over the comm.

DAX: They know your name.
SISKO: They always seem to be one step ahead of us.

She requests a face-to-face meeting and Sisko agrees. The pair and their escorts meet outside and she “cuts to the chase,” telling Sisko that they want their ship back. This is a minor complaint, but Kilana is adorned with jewellery, [[being a girl]], which strikes me as silly. Even without the retro-continuity about the Vorta lacking a sense of aesthetics, she's a military leader, right? In a society of clones run by shape-shifters? Was Weyoun wearing cologne on that trip to Iconia? Anyway, Sisko claims “salvage rights” over the warship, which, erm, fine. We see that while they chat, a single Jem'Hadar beams aboard the ship.

Act 3 : **, 17%

Kilana and Sisko continue with her offering him a snack and him retorting that he only likes white chicks if they're the re-incarnated souls of his former mentors in parallel realities. At least that's what would have gone down if I had written the script. She tries playing good cop and bad cop at the same time, in a way. She gets personal with Ben, playfully chiding him about teaching Jake to be trusting of others and she makes a “generous” offer to bring Sisko and crew back to DS9, “including your wounded.” But, her remarks about Jake have a sinister overtone, implying that the Dominion can reach him whenever they like, and Sisko sees right through her offer as a gussied-up call for surrender.

In The Ship™, Dax and O'Brien chase phantom noises to a sensor device and get ambushed by the Jem'Hadar. Notably, the soldier takes them down in hand-to-hand. For...reasons, the pair of allegedly seasoned combat veterans are easily thwarted, but Muñiz shows up just in time, straight out of an action movie, to shoot the Jem'Hadar with his phaser.

Kilana and co. vanish and the DS9 crew ponder the purpose of the sensor device while Muñiz writhes in agony. They put the pieces together and realise that the ship is valuable in some way that makes the Dominion guarded in how they might try and retake it. They won't send in more than one soldier or risk using energy weapons. They determine to make blue prints and try and track down the “special.”

O'BRIEN: It's not that bad.
MUÑIZ: You're lying.
O'BRIEN: What makes you say that?
MUÑIZ: I called you sir and you didn't even flinch. I must be dying.
O'BRIEN: Now you listen to me, Quique. You're not dying unless I say you're dying. And I say you're going to make it.

I'll get into this more at the end. Suffice it to say for now that Meaney and Rio do a fine job with this material, but it really tries my patience. And that's because this is what one might call the evolved form of the DS9 Banality Syndrome making its unwelcome return to the series. In early seasons, it was about houseplants and baseball and other bullshit—DS9 characters talking about “character” issues that are so obvious, clichéd and grafted onto the franchise from other genres that, beside the far more original and interesting Trek material, felt exceedingly tedious and, well, banal. Now it's a war story, with the brave but tragic young soldier and his mentor going through denial. This stuff is fine, I guess, it's just fucking boring and obvious. Star Trek isn't MASH. Like I said, I'll elaborate further at the end.

So, then we get a scene where O'Brien, Worf and Dax argue about said banal plot thread. The three of them are certainly *in character*--I don't want to mis-represent my complaint here. It's just that the way the conflict arises is extremely forced and without nuance or effort.

DAX: Muñiz is strong. He'll make it.
WORF (screaming): No, he will not. He will not see tomorrow.
O'BRIEN: You keep that to yourself. I don't want him to hear that kind of talk.
WORF: It does no good to shield him from the truth.

Dax is written inconsistently over the series. Sometimes she's borderline socially-retarded, saying things that seem to show zero sensitivity to the people she's addressing (like her off-handed remarks to Kira); other times she's seems to have this wisdom that better fits her character (like her insight into Bashir's struggle in “The Quickening”); but this is just...flat. It's a functional line that sets the conflict in motion, but doesn't seem to have anything to do with Dax or her relationship to O'Brien. Worf is then set off by her remark into his usual Klingon-ness. But why is he so pissed off about it? Think back to “The Enemy” and Worf's cold “then he will die” when informing Dr Crusher that he was refusing to help save the dying Romulan. Worf had a lot of cause to be emotional—the reminder of his tragic backstory, the immediate pressure from his job, his commanding officers and his Federation ethics to do something he felt he couldn't, the conflict in trying to live up to a cultural ideal that he only understood in the abstract—but he was calm, clear and direct, not incendiary. If we are generous, we can perhaps say that Worf is under a lot of pressure here, too (although the episode has not actually shown this to be true at this point). But why is this relatively simple and impersonal pressure (being surrounded by the enemy) getting under his skin now? It's conflict and that's “dramatic.” I get it. But it's not natural. It feels like DS9 trying to take its uniquely Star Trek-shaped puzzle piece and jam it into a generic space war story puzzle it doesn't fit.

While Sisko attends Muñiz who is now going into shock from his blood-loss, Kilana calls and offers to meet him again, sounding more desperate. She offers to come unescorted and unarmed. Her new proposal is to let the Jem'Hadar retrieve the Special and leave them alone *with* the ship. Sisko says that he'll get it for her if she tells him what it is, which of course, she won't do. This moment is actually, in my opinion, the crux of the episode. But again, I'll circle back. For now, this impasse triggers an aerial bombardment from the Jem'Hadar.

Act 4 : **.5, 17%

The crew realise that the bombs aren't meant to actually hit them, but merely “rattle” them as they won't risk harming the Special.

O'BRIEN: Any idea what?
SISKO: Could be anything. Encoding device, guidance system.
DAX: Maybe she lost an earring.

Huh. I didn't expect the episode to point out its own weird conceit. Bonus point. Sisko orders all hands to search the ship for...whatever while O'Brien repairs its weapons.

Finally, Muñiz starts hallucinating and drifting into Spanish. With the Siskos' colour-coded love interest stuff, I try to tread lightly as I am not black and can only make observations, but my father is Spanish, I'm bilingual, and this shit is offensive. I'm not going to dock the episode for this, because there is precedent in TNG for Picard sending occasional messages in French—even though he should always be speaking French and just have his words translated—but this has the same tokenism-scented inauthenticity that makes Chakotay's character so cringey sometimes. Torres is latina on her human side, but we never see her going Spanglish to try and assuage the audience's white guilt. Rio is trying his best here, but the moment is sterilised for me by the writers trying way too hard.

Meanwhile, Dax is starting to get flustered as she raids the Ship for whatever the fuck they're looking for. Worf, likewise, is champing at the bit for an opportunity to murder somebody, per his idiom. He mutters to O'Brien:

WORF: That is no way for anyone to die.
O'BRIEN: I told you, he is not going to die.
WORF: It is only a matter of time.
O'BRIEN: So we should just kill him, right?
WORF: If you truly are his friend, you would consider that option. It would be a more honourable death than the one he's enduring.

All of that is fine, but then we get:

WORF: You're just another weak human afraid to face death.

What the actual fuck, Worf? When did he turn into this racist piece of shit, exactly? The only time Worf has ever talked about human weakness is when he was teasing Wesley about the physical fragility of human females back in “The Dauphin.” Remember “The Bonding,” when he adopted a human child into his family so they could face death together? Or how about “Chain of Command,” when he scoffed at Jellico's writing-off Picard being lost in the line of duty? Or how about “Ethics,” when he asked Riker to kill him so that his Klingon son wouldn't have to? But no, in this story, Worf thinks humans are weaklings because the script says we need this artificial conflict. Bravo.

Sisko breaks up their fight and chides Dax for her unhelpful snarkiness (thank you) before giving his version of a pep talk, which of course means screaming at the top of his lungs like a lunatic for his people to “act like professionals.” Hilarious. He sends the trio off on tasks and orders Muñiz not to die. Obviously, this is for Sisko's own psychological benefit as Quique is watching fireworks with his father.

Later Sisko makes a captain's log that updates us on the crew's progress. They think they might be able to fly the ship off the surface and make the attempt. There's some shaking and sparking and...they fail completely. Oh, and Muñiz is dead. Oops.

Sisko privately tells Dax that he is more determined than ever to recover the Ship, as he needs to have a tangible reason to justify the deaths of the five casualties on this mission. Again, I'll come back to that. As luck would have it, their conversation is interrupted by the revelation that a bulkhead is actually a Changeling that starts to ooze off the ceiling.

Act 5 : *.5, 17%

It lashes out at them, but it seems to be dying. They realise that the Founder here is the Special and reason that when it dies, the Jem'Hadar will no longer hold back on their assault. Apparently, one of the Changelings' abilities is a Vulcan Scream or something as its cries of agony reach the ears of Kilana and her horde outside. It dies and Kilana beams in to offer her surrender.

SISKO: Where are your soldiers?
KILANA: They're dead. They killed themselves.
DAX: Why?
SISKO: Because they allowed a Founder to die.
KILANA: You should've trusted me.

SISKO: Muñiz, the runabout crew, your soldiers, they'd all still be alive if we had trusted each other.

Lol what? So much of this makes no sense.

First of all, why was the Founder dying? Because of the crash? Does goo suffer bone fractures? I don't think so. The Founder must have already been dying for some reason before the crash. So how were Kilana and these Jem'Hadar, far from Dominion space, supposed to save the Changeling even if Sisko and co. hadn't been around?

Second of all, why was Kilana afraid Sisko would take the Founder as a hostage? In exchange for something? Like herself or the Ship? WHICH SHE WAS ALWAYS WILLING TO GIVE HIM? It's true that Sisko has been indirectly responsible for the deaths of at least two Changelings, but Kilana has shown that she's deeply informed about him and Federation procedures. She doesn't have to trust Sisko at all to know that he would only kill the Founder if he had to, and that it would make much more sense for him to exchange it for this Ship and getting his own remaining crew home alive.

Third, Sisko already pointed out that he had absolutely no reason to trust Kilana. There was never any sign that he was making a difficult choice between trusting his instinct over his mind or something. Kilana never gave him a reason to trust her. This is SO contrived and stupid.

Oh, and just to put a little capstone on this buffoonery, we get a little exchange about belief that comes out of nowhere. Fuck this.

Wait a minute, wait a Kilana beams away with some of the Founder's remains to...somewhere. I mean, all of her men are dead, so she's gone to some ship or outpost right? Why, at this point, would the Dominion allow Sisko and co. to hold on the Ship and all its intelligence? Blow them up, idiots!

There's a coda where Sisko informs Dax that they're all getting medals for their “prize.” [eye roll]

DAX: They chose a life in Starfleet. They knew the risks and they died fighting for something that they believed in.

They did? I thought they died because of a really random set of coincidences exacerbated by incredibly poor planning. But yeah, war movie clichés ahead full...Worf and Miles keep watch over Muñiz' body because of some Klingon bullshit that allows these two to reconcile without actually talking about what they said or how they feel because they're tough guys or some other fucking tired bullshit. The end.

Episode as Functionary : *.5, 10%

The intended sentiment of this story prefigures “The Siege of Ar-588,” but fails because the writers don't know what their setting is. Is this a war? Well kind of. But the premise of this story is that Sisko and a dozen other people could risk going to the GQ to survey a planet for some ore in a Runabout. Sisko laments to Dax that his officers' deaths have to mean something, that he needs to justify their sacrifice to their families and to himself. Sure. But, when Q flung the Enterprise into Borg space and 18 of Picard's officers died and/or were assimilated, he didn't wring his hands over the pointlessness of their mission, because their mission was to seek out new life. And in that process, they got killed. Sisko's mission wasn't to recover a Dominion ship, it was to survey a planet. Like in so many Bajoran religious stories or anti-humanist Starfleet stories on this show, there's a bait and switch that really, really aggravates me. At the start of the episode, the crew find themselves unexpectedly ambushed and besieged by the enemy, forced into a combat situation that none had asked for. By the end, Dax is telling Sisko that these people died in the line of duty, doing what they signed on for. Bait and switch. Either of these premises (unfair, surprise combat situation OR unfortunate cost-of-war analysis) could work out fine, but the philosophical and ethical implications of these are not the same at all. And substituting one for the other is, well, exactly the kind of douchbaggery I always hate to see on this show.

If this were Season 1 or 2, the situation would be different—5 officers lost their lives in the line of duty due to unforeseeable complications with a mysterious enemy, like in “Q Who?”, but now, off the heels of an anti-Dominion mission in “Apocalypse Rising,” this feels kind of ridiculous. How would it look if Picard had sent people on a survey mission to the Delta Quadrant? But if the writers made the state of war between the Dominion and the Federation explicit at this point (precluding the possibility of silly survey missions to the GQ), then Sisko would have no cause to wring his hands. Yes, there would still be tragedy, but it wouldn't have this air of pointlessness; his people would be volunteering to risk their lives to fight the Dominion. Of course, this episode's followup in S6 will do just that and to much better effect.

The point is that this episode's stakes are too contrived to overlook. Every time something bad happens, no matter how well acted or scripted, there's a nagging voice in the back of my head saying, “Why the fuck are you even here, morons?”

Filling out most of the rest of the episode is a series of clichés and tropes that have no place in a Star Trek story to begin with, but are also just as contrived as the premise itself. Worf in particular is all over the place with his characterisation, and all the main cast find themselves saying and doing things that ratchet up the conflict seemingly for its own sake. This didn't have nearly the same weight as a relatively silly episode like “Night Terrors” had in believably wearing the characters down to the point where they make mistakes and say things they shouldn't to each other. The claustrophobia elements are pretty much confined to acts 3 and 4, which is simply not enough time.

The one potentially interesting element I found here was in the comparison between Sisko and Kilana. Both are gambling with a life; Kilana's is her god, Sisko's is his officer. For Kilana, giving up vital Dominion secrets and sacrificing herself and all her soldiers is a completely justified price to pay for one life, because her programmed religion conviction deems it so. The episode toyed with the idea that Sisko would on the other hand be willing to sacrifice one life, Muñiz', in order to acquire those secrets. But the way the episode is structured, Sisko didn't actually have a choice. We were never made to believe that he could have reasonably given Kilana the Ship and she would have cured Muñiz and delivered them all home. That's absurd. So the comparison doesn't work. Without that philosophical element, this story is incredible tired and trite.

Final Score : **
William B
Tue, Oct 22, 2019, 2:41pm (UTC -6)

I'm largely in agreement. Especially, I get the nagging sense from this episode that the deaths should have been much more strongly a result of considered choices that Sisko (et al.) made. So either the question should be about whether it was worth it to do a survey mission in the GQ, OR there should have been more indication that the deaths were the result, even partly, of Sisko making strategic calls based on wanting the Ship/"not trusting each other"/etc. and it's maybe marginally true in Muniz' case that he could have gotten Muniz medical care earlier, but even then it's not brought out that strongly what he could have plausibly done.

The Worf material plays very weird IMO. The main way I could see it working is: last year Worf realized he couldn't murder his brother begging him to do so, and his disgust with himself gets spewed outward and projected onto "weak human[s]." I don't buy that explanation though.

I do think Kilana's earrings etc. were meant to be part of the pathetic seduction schtick she attempts, which is meant (in-story) to be a failure and misjudgment. I'm not positive how well it comes across, but I think it's an interesting idea to have the nonsexual Vorta clumsily attempt to use sexual come-ons for these sexually reproducing animals she marginally understands. I feel a little like this element gets lost in the shuffle of the episode, and I'm not sure how well it really fits in with the other themes, but I give it points for the attempt. I think this might be another way to look at Kilana's failure to see that Sisko would let the sick changeling go: she maybe sees the AQ, non-engineered humanoids as brain-stem-dominant marginally sapient animals who evolved to fuck and kill, and lets that prejudice (possibly fueled by disgust) overwhelm what she knows to be true of their values. Maybe. The series does a better job with Weyoun viewing other humanoids through a bemused-zookeeper lens (SPOILER) (culminating in his inability to recognize the signs of Damar's turn).

I'm not sure where I stand on the "genre" issue. I think the DS9 staff can do war episodes if they want, but it should be done well. I agree that it plays as banal in this episode.
William B
Tue, Oct 22, 2019, 2:43pm (UTC -6)
(I forget, has it been established by this point in the series that the Vorta are cloned?)
Wed, Oct 23, 2019, 6:37am (UTC -6)
William B....

No. That isn’t established until Weyoun returns in “Ties of Blood and Water”.
William B
Wed, Oct 23, 2019, 9:02am (UTC -6)
@Luke, thanks! That makes sense that it would only be a backstory invented once they wanted to bring back the dead Weyoun.
Wed, Oct 23, 2019, 9:35am (UTC -6)
I like the idea that Kilana was wearing earrings and a low-cut shirt in order to emphasize her feminine features to a male commander. Her offer to take them in and treat them well in exchange for the ship somehow comes across more believable if she’s projecting a sort of female-motherly image.
Peter G.
Wed, Oct 23, 2019, 10:25am (UTC -6)
I, too, basically agree that The Ship is a sampling of 3-4 'could have been' decent ideas and sort of mushes them together into a 'not quite' result. I still enjoy watching it because I think Brooks' performance captures a lot of what the scripting slightly missed on, in terms of atmosphere and stakes. Although it's true the stakes are muddy at the beginning, I always bought it because they played it as very important onscreen.


The one good thing about the episode, and where I think it does actually work as intended, is it gives us the plot twist that the stakes were not at all what the Federation crew thought they were. True, there was a ship with tech in it at stake; but all of the Dominion's actions couldn't be understood based on that alone. It turns out that the uber-valuing of Changeling life was the real explanation, and this, too, would end up being the deciding factor later in ther series. Sisko and the others in S7 are so concerned about the war itself, while meanwhile the Great Link is what the Founders are afraid of losing. So the idea here of a single Changeling being worth more than a ship, does pave the way for a premise that would be game-changing later in the series.
William B
Wed, Oct 23, 2019, 10:46am (UTC -6)


I agree.

One thing I was thinking of adding is that while I agree with Elliott that Kilana's choice to hide the Founder's death from Sisko doesn't necessarily make sense in and of itself, it is consistent with the Founders' default assumption of solids' untrustworthiness. In fact, while I don't know if this was intended, I would believe that the Founders (and their Vorta as a result) would want to not only recover their dying Founder, but ideally even avoid revealing that one was dying in the first place. If we assume that the Founders were afraid of showing any vulnerability and were betting everything on recovering the Founder without the solids even finding out it was sick, out of fear that this sickness would be used against them (possibly down the line) then their actions also make sense. The Founders appear to continuously hide evidence of their vulnerabilities, even when hiding them appears to hurt them more than if they came forward with them.
William B
Mon, Nov 4, 2019, 1:07pm (UTC -6)
I was thinking a bit about one moment Elliott brought up, which is when Worf says that he's not some weak human afraid to face death. One thing to consider is that in context:

O'BRIEN: I'm not some bloodthirsty Klingon looking for an excuse to murder my friend.
SISKO: That's enough.
WORF: No. You're just another weak human afraid to face death.

One thing that's interesting is that while I don't think it's in character for Worf to start on this anti-human stuff, it *is* in character for Miles to reach for this kind of racism (or species essentialism, if you prefer), particularly in stress. Miles likes Worf and considers him a friend, and I can't really remember him having bad things to say about Klingons generally, but of course he's struggled with Cardassians in the past, and we know in, e.g., Hippocratic Oath he was far less optimistic about the possibility of the Jem'Hadar getting freed of the White (and thus the Dominion) than Julian. And of course the Federation is "at war" with the Klingons (or whatever). I think it's a knee-jerk reaction consistent with the way Miles locks down and tries to simplify things to cope.

So on that note, I think we can read Worf's reply less as being about Worf being racist against humans and more as his being retaliatory: he matches Miles' species criticism in kind, repaying Miles' insult. This *kind of* works, but I still don't quite buy it. I think Worf refusing to just sit by and take Miles' insult is in character. I think him snapping back at him is in character. But I guess I don't think that Worf, raised by humans, would go for the human insult in this way. If it were on some issue like humans' approach to sex and commitment, or something, then, sure -- it's not like there aren't significant worldview differences. But Worf was rescued and raised by brave humans; he knew Yar who survived hell and then died in the line of duty; he watched Picard and Riker step into the Klingon world with gusto; he fought against the Borg invasion with the Enterprise crew; he grappled with Marla Astor's death under his command; he commanded the Defiant in battle. Worf lives and rlies on humans in a ay Miles doesn't live and rely on Klingons.

Elliott's going in chronological order, so I'm jumping ahead a bit, but in Star Trek: First Contact, Worf's famously dramatic riposte to Picard's stress-induced lashing out at him was "If you were any other man I would KILL YOU WHERE YOU STAND." It's absurd and melodramatic, but what works about it is that it doesn't generalize away from Picard's insult to his entire species; Worf both acknowledges what Picard means to him and how inappropriate Picard's statement is. I think Worf snapping back at Miles would be perfectly in character; I think though that it would work better if Worf still made it more about Miles' insult to him (and his species) rather than playing Miles' species-comparison game. I think if Worf had personalized it and said "The difference between us is that I am not too weak and afraid to face death," it'd be perfectly fine. The species-essentialism of it is what seems smaller and pettier than Worf at least should be.
Ola Andersson
Mon, Nov 11, 2019, 4:34pm (UTC -6)
No one has mentioned the hilarious reference to "The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill..." :)
"I was climbing mountains in Ireland before you were born"
"You mean 'hills', don't you?"
Top Hat
Mon, Nov 11, 2019, 5:31pm (UTC -6)
Yes, no doubt due to the fact that Colm Meaney was in that film (which, for the record, is about Wales). Ireland does actually have plenty of legit mountains, mostly in Munster.

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