Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

“Rocks and Shoals”

4 stars.

Air date: 10/6/1997
Written by Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Michael Vejar

"Do you really want to give up your life for 'the order of things'?"
"It is not my life to give up, Captain ... and it never was."

— Sisko and Remata'Klan

Review Text

Nutshell: Excellent. Powerfully envisioned and executed drama. The trend continues.

In last week's review to the gripping "A Time to Stand," I said that I wouldn't want Trek to always be so gritty, dark, and intense like it's certain to be throughout this war, because "that's not what Trek's about."

I still believe that, but, hell—if episodes were always as good as "A Time to Stand" and now this week's almost-as-bleak "Rocks and Shoals," we'd still have an awesome television series of powerhouse drama. Is it what Roddenberry would have wanted?—what he had envisioned? I don't know, but nor right now do I care.

"Rocks and Shoals" is another very strong hour of DS9, further capitalizing on the thus far stellar trend of the war arc. The storyline has many notions and events that aren't very uplifting, but they're morally conscious in their conveyed ideals.

On the surface, the main plot is reminiscent of last season's "The Ship"—Sisko and the crew find themselves stranded on a barren planet along with a squadron of Jem'Hadar soldiers. The themes here are different however, with plot developments that analyze trust and dedication, treachery and betrayal. It's the deepest and most emotionally satisfying episode involving the Jem'Hadar yet created, analyzing with a scrutinizing eye their role in the Dominion—sort of like fourth season's "To the Death," but with an effective, tragic slant of realization that proves so much more relevant.

The plot is rudimentary, of course, and that's the way it should be. Sure, it's a tad convenient for the story that Sisko's ship happens to crash on the same planet and in the same vicinity of where another Jem'Hadar fighter went down just two days before—but no matter. This episode is about the situation that ensues.

The stranded Jem'Hadar soldiers have with them their Vorta overseer Keevan (Christopher Shea), who was badly injured in the crash. Without medical attention he most certainly will die, and without his supply of ketracel the Jem'Hadar will die as well.

While surveying for survival needs, Garak and Nog are captured by the Jem'Hadar soldiers. Keevan uses the prisoners as a bargaining chip—and sends one of his soldiers to inform Sisko that he would like to make a deal: Sisko's captured men in exchange for a doctor.

Bashir is able to heal Keevan, after which Keevan reveals his intentions and also another proposal. You see, Keevan has a problem: Most of the ketracel white he was holding for the Jem'Hadar was destroyed when their ship crashed. He doesn't have enough to last until rescue arrives. All that remains in one vial, and when it's gone the Jem'Hadar will go mad, killing everybody—including Keevan and eventually each other. So Keevan wants to make a deal that will save his own neck. He informs Sisko that he is ordering the Jem'Hadar to attack the Captain's camp the following day. And he provides Sisko with the battle plan he has ordered the Jem'Hadar to execute. In short, Keevan has set up his own men for slaughter. In exchange for the attack plan, Keevan will surrender to Sisko and give him some communications equipment that was damaged in the crash—which O'Brien would likely be able to repair.

This puts Sisko and the crew in a moral bind. Even war has rules; but if they agree to Keevan's proposal, they would be killing the Jem'Hadar without a fair fight. I liked the scene where the crew acknowledges this problem, but, as Sisko notes, they don't really have a choice. Keevan is sending his soldiers whether Sisko chooses to use the information or not. Ultimately, it's either the deaths of the Jem'Hadar, or the deaths of everyone.

The moral dilemma is nicely addressed by the story, but even better is a scene that addresses the Jem'Hadar loyalty—a scene where Sisko informs Jem'Hadar squadron commander Remata'Klan (Phil Morris), that Keevan has sold them out—that the Jem'Hadar are locked in a crossfire with nowhere to go. Sisko asks Remata'Klan to surrender while he can.

Within Remata'Klan's choice is where the story becomes a fully realized tragedy—and an exceptional piece of work. Remata'Klan is no fool. He's merely incapable of violating his Dominion ethics. He refuses surrender because it's not what his Vorta ordered. And if his Vorta wants Remata'Klan and his unit to die, then they die.

What's remarkable about this episode is that it almost paints the Jem'Hadar as victims. Ron Moore's probing teleplay is so fair to their situation and even-handed in its approach that we actually feel sympathy for Remata'Klan and his men. They may be fierce, merciless, efficient soldiers—but they're that way because the Dominion manufactured them that way. They have a rigid obedience code that prohibits them from defying the higher power of the Dominion. They believe in the Dominion's "order of things." The episode's most telling line comes when Sisko asks Remata'Klan if he really wants to die for "the order of things." Remata'Klan's reply: "It is not my life to give up, Captain ... and it never was."

It's quite a task to turn a terrible enemy into believably sympathetic characters, but "Rocks and Shoals" does it wonderfully, making Remata'Klan the most respectable and dimensional Jem'Hadar character yet created. Phil Morris' compelling rendition is one of a dedicated man not simply unwilling to go against higher forces, but incapable of doing so. He's the tragedy's central figure—he knows he has been betrayed by his Dominion superior, but it's not relevant. He follows his orders to the letter, because that's what the nature of his existence demands.

In watching Remata'Klan come to this decision without a single doubt in his mind, something occurred to me that I hadn't really considered before: One could argue that the Dominion are like the Borg in that they see individuality as inefficient and dangerous. Remata'Klan seems to be exactly what the Founders would've sought in their military: unwavering obedience and dedication until death. Jem'Hadar soldiers who seek independence (like the ones in "Hippocratic Oath") would likely be considered "defective products" of the Dominion. There's a lot of good meat in "Rocks and Shoals," and the episode raises many themes that prove interesting under scrutiny.

There's also a B-story taking place back on the station—which from the looks of things, will be an ongoing part of the story structure in the shows as long as the Dominion occupies the station. This week's example—which takes up much less screen time than the A-story yet proves equally powerful—skillfully documents Kira's bottled frustration of Bajor being on its way to Dominion occupation.

Consider her position: Every day she wakes up and goes to work for a presence she fundamentally opposes. Terok Nor has become a symbol of Bajoran limitation; and by relying on Dominion resources to sustain the economy, even Bajor itself has taken the first step in being sucked into the Dominion's assimilation process. And Kira—aware of the prospect of another planet-wide Occupation (note the capital "O")—has had to sit there and take it every day. Worse yet, her position has turned her into a bureaucrat who speaks in defense of the Dominion, telling other Bajorans not to turn to violence or opposition that could make a volatile situation worse. Nana Visitor's stellar and subtle performance shows how much it's eating away at her, and how powerless she feels.

When Vedek Yassim (Lilyan Chauvin) comes to Kira with concern over Vorta officials landing on Bajor, Kira finds herself defending a move that she herself disagrees with. Yassim remarks that "evil must be opposed." I'm sure that deep down Kira certainly agrees. But she also wants Bajor to remain neutral. Bajoran uprisings can not only lead to eventual trouble with the Dominion, but can also begin with divisions and trouble internal to Bajor.

It's truly wonderful to see the writers thinking about Dominion issues specific to Bajor. Bringing the Dominion storyline to Bajor is good; showing how it affects Bajor is great. Yassim's credible presence in the story feels like a return to first- and second-season Bajoran issues. Sensible scenes like Jake's interview with Odo and Kira keenly highlight how station life for Bajorans has changed. And Yassim's public protest—that is, hanging herself on the promenade as she reiterates "Evil must be opposed"—is a message that hits Kira and us with the force of a sledgehammer.

It's surprising how much the B-story accomplishes in so little screen time. Many of Kira's thoughts are conveyed through visuals that require no dialog. Michael Vejar's direction of these sequences is exemplary. A montage in which Kira wakes and begins her shift is done twice—once before the hanging and once afterward. The message is clear: Kira can not sit idly anymore. She can no longer live day to day on Terok Nor remaining silent and powerless. She decides she must fight back.

This notion is inspiring—and very appropriate given Kira's past. Her dialog with Odo about the impossibility of her remaining "neutral" is about as believable as anything Kira has ever said, and it's a key reason why these last two episodes have been so riveting. These characters are caught up in a really big mess, and how they react to it returns us to the basics of their personas.

Evil must be opposed, indeed. But how will it be opposed? How will Kira and Odo carry out the "New Resistance"? How will Kira undermine Dukat? Will Odo still be able to "walk the line" in his "collaborative" involvements with Weyoun and the local governing body? The answers will surely make things very interesting in the coming weeks.

Turning to technical concerns:

  • Michael Vejar actually gets to shoot in bright outdoor lighting this time (opposed to last season where the two episodes he directed—"The Darkness and the Light" and "Empok Nor"—were primarily shot in darkness). He definitely proves himself capable; "Rocks and Shoals" is a wonderfully executed and stunningly photographed episode that feels like a feature film. Also, Vejar's atypical use of slow motion is particularly nice, adding dramatic flourish to the episode's key moments of tragedy.
  • David Bell's score is terrific; I'm really beginning to think the "musical guidelines" on Trek have been relaxed or revised, because lately music has been a bigger, more noticeable factor in the episodes—more so than it has in years.
  • The special effects and tactical moments that opened the episode were pretty impressive. It was quite a sight watching the crew's fighter run out of control into the nebula and plummet toward the planet.

That about covers it. "Rocks and Shoals" is a very focused, powerful, and probing episode that continues to prove that the DS9 creators have been and will be thinking about the Dominion war in its larger themes, in addition to keeping us on the edges of our seats to see how the plot game will play out. In the process, it doesn't pull punches by sparing us unfortunate circumstances or giving us easy answers. The saga continues...

Next week: Worf's son Alexander returns, and with a more "Klingon" attitude than when we saw him last.

Previous episode: A Time to Stand
Next episode: Sons and Daughters

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Comment Section

87 comments on this post

    How come they couldn't use the stun setting and have Bashier keep them in that condition?

    There's an even subtler psychological element to Remata'Klan's unwavering and ultimately fatal obedience. At the start of the episode, he speaks of how he questioned the Vorta's orders and how it was not his place to do so. Whether his resultant feelings were guilt at what seemed a very mild disobedience or just a reminder/reinforcement of the Dominion's rules on the all-important Order of Things, I wonder if he would have been so willing to walk proudly into his doom had that incident not taken place. The seeds of dissent that he clearly had buried somewhere in him might have sprouted at a more opportune time and saved his and his men's skins.

    On another note, this past Wednesday was the 45th anniversary of Thich Quang Duc's self-immolation. Having this somewhat fresh in my mind made Vedek Yassim's suicide hit all the harder upon re-watching the episode this evening.

    Great episode, they were firing on all cylinders here. I'm SO glad they're not trying to wrap up the war arc quickly; the occupied DS9 brings a wealth of mine-able material, and they should tap that vein dry.

    I like the subtle touches of the episode. O'Brien saying 4-letter words but chastises Nog for doing the same. The way Kira looks up and sees, really sees, the Cardassians and Jem'Hadar working on the bridge.

    There were also some gorgeous shots, like the rope around the railing. Gave me shivers when I saw it. The view of the ship from above as it crashes was gorgeous. And so is Ensign Neeley ;-)

    Yeah, Neeley (Lt.) was easy on the eyes. I remember on Ron Moore's Q and As on AOL, there were a good number of fans calling for her to make more appearances.

    I was highly impressed with the effects shot of the crashed Jem'Hadar fighter sinking in the distance. It was convincing.

    I had to wait 24 hours before commenting on this episode, to let it sink it. This is probably the most disturbing episode of Star Trek I've ever seen, and not necessarily because the character's actions were questionable, but because there were no right decisions. Sisko and Kira essentially both made the WRONG choice in the end, but it was the least wrong choice from the options available. Ouch.

    On a more nitpicky note, it seems I am the only one who was under the impression that the Jem'Hadar unit that Sisko encountered on the surface was actually from one of the ships that attacked them in the teaser. This explains the 'convenience' of their meeting, and I also assumed that it had taken Sisko & co. two days to stabalize Dax's position and pack everything they needed into boxes so they could swim out. In either case, the CG shot of the ship sinking into water is what really makes no sense. It makes it look like they only had 30 seconds to get out of there.

    Two words: TOP NOTCH. Thank you Ronald D. Moore for gifting us with a riveting story, a great script where each dialogue is entirely relevant (no empty words), and for keeping me literally glued to the screen for the very first time since I've started watching DS9 episodes. This episode not only does the Jem'Hadar a great service by making us truly understand their philosophy and role in the Dominion, it also makes for excellent television.

    This episode is foreshadowing of the excellence in writing Ron D. Moore later demonstrated with Battlestar Galactica. I am right with Jammer on this one: if episodes were always as good as "Rocks and Shoals", we would all have a fantastic time revisiting the series.

    Hey are you THEE MARCO PALMIERI? of the DS9 continuation books?!?! Cool you like to rewatch the initial DS9 stories. I've got ALL of your DS9 post series books. The only version of the Trek universe that I follow.

    The Vedek's suicide is one of the most powerful moments of Star Trek. It reminds us that in order to oppose evil we need to take risks and sometimes we must make the ultimate sacrifice.

    What are the odds that shaking the head back and forth means the same thing in our language and Jem Hadarese?

    I think this one has to be up there as one of the best of the whole series.

    As you say Jammer, it’s the little touches, and I think that's what separates it from other top episodes. A couple of things that others haven’t mentioned yet;

    - The way the Jem’Hadar all surround Bashir when he’s about to operate on the Vorta and he mistakes their child-like curiosity for hostile intent. Just shows us how little love there is between these supposed comrades.

    - The way the writers use Kira’s pragmatism (of all people! - only developed slowly over the years of the show) to lead us to dismiss Jake and later Yassim as being effectively overly naive. Before spinning us around full circle as Kira realises that she’s forgotten that not-acting is in itself a crime. Brilliantly written and superbly paced.

    Just two nitpicks about this episode:

    1. the continuity of the one I had with "A Call to Arms"; why is Jake allowed to roam freely on a Dominion/cardassian station ? I understand why from a storytelling point of view, but he ressembles too much a 20th century cliché journalist who asks horrible insidious questions. If the writers wanted to keep him in the loop (other than in a cell or an interrogation chamber), they could have done better than that.

    2. If the Vorta dies, he'll be "resurrected" by cloning. So, even knowing that, I guess the survivor instinct has taken over :p.

    Just watched this for the first time in ages. What a fool I am. An amazing episode.
    This is what Star Trek is about really. Excellent stories that make you think.
    Too many great moments to go into. Must say I love that the Vorta is a real slimey bastard. His last line about what would have happened if he had more white and his swagger was brilliant and chilling.

    Oh and I'm sure its mentioned somewhere that stun doesn't work on the Jem'Hadar.

    I liked this episode, but I can't say I love it like everyone else seems to. I have a problem with the ending. Why is the Vorta ratting out the his own soldiers "wrong"? Why is Sisko so pretentious about it? Why in the hell would he TELL THE JEM'HADAR? My problem is the Vorta is correct in every point. He does not have enough white to maintain the Jem'Hadar, so they will become killing machines then turn on each other. so how is getting them ambushed and than surrendering wrong? I don't get it. It seems to me a smart tactical decision. And I really don't get Siskos snarky attitude about it all. I really don't think there is an "moral issue" here, there is a problem, and a solution, and the Jem'hadar were going to die ANYWAYS......

    Another "O'Brien must suffer" episode - he ripped his pants!

    Without any words spoken, Brooks wrenchingly communicated Sisko's realization that he lost a man because he tried to do the 'honorable' thing. A lot of parallels to 'The Ship' in terms trust issues with Vorta too. Great episode.

    Nick P.,

    Sociopaths often are confused by normal human emotions. The Vorta betrays his men, who he has promised to care for, in order to save himself. He did not seek any alternate solutions, even when given the opportunity by Sisko.

    Sisko has empathy for the inherent dignity of all living creatures, even his enemies (a defining characteristic of the Star Trek ethos). Sisko sought to avoid conflict by seeking a solution that would allow for everyone to live. The Vorta, on the other hand, used violence (against both Sisko and his own men) to achieve his goals.

    The real tragedy is that the Jem'hadar were bred and conditioned to be obedient killers. The inherent dignity of living creatures has been squashed in them, to the point where they refuse to save their own lives. It's heartbreaking.

    This episode shows that the Dominion is truly evil. Bioengineering and indoctrinating sentient life forms to sacrifice themselves for your own gain is sickening.

    Only two episodes into season six and DS9 continues to pull no punches. Not only do they set this one up to continue the wonderfully-paced and well-written arc but also to stand alone to work on its own terms. If the previous episode is the gritty fallout that brings up difficult questions; then this is the brooding aftermath that has no easy answers.

    I've had no complaints watching this back in the day and I definitely don't have any now. Remarkable job.

    4 stars.

    Good and Gritty Drama, if it had been persistent, DS9 might have redefined television, but the next episode turned into fluff.

    9/10 for what it is as an episode, 7.5/10 for what it represents in the greater scheme of the Dominion War and Early season 6

    @Trekker: I read something interesting about DS9 that said it suffered from being between two eras of television. After DS9 went off the air, highly serialized shows, starting with "The Sopranos", started appearing. DS9, at its best, is like a lot of those shows, obviously including Battlestar Galactica.

    But, DS9 still tried to be too episodic. The six-episode arc to begin this season is quite strong -- but it's all resolved too easily. That life on DS9 essentially returns to normal after "Sacrifice of Angels" is tough to swallow. Even if you get past the Kira/Odo stuff, it's pretty weird that Quark and Rom are still treated the same way as they were in earlier seasons after their actions essentially allowed Starfleet to retake the station. Granted, Kira acknowledges those actions in "The Magnificent Ferengi", but it's still hard to get past.

    The seventh season is probably weaker than the sixth on this, because the early-season episodes like "Badda Bing, Banda Bang", "Take Me Out to the Holosuite", and a lot of the Ezri stuff is so far off the main war storyline.

    Sisko's attempt to give the Jem Hadar a fair chance to surrender gets one of his men killed. One wonders how he would have felt about that if Nog or O'Brien had died instead of a random redshirt.

    Interesting that a man who would later become an accessory to murder can't bring himself to gun down enemy soldiers in self defense on the battlefield.

    I just re-watched this episode on Netflix and was really impressed with the way the production values have withstood the test of time.

    I agree with the comments about Lt Neely. It's rare on Trek to have a red shirt who captivates your attention.

    "Interesting that a man who would later become an accessory to murder can't bring himself to gun down enemy soldiers in self defense on the battlefield."

    Do you really not see a difference between senseless, purposeless murder and murdering a key person to swing the entire war your way?

    "To fight a battle under these circumstances would serve no purpose. I'm prepared to offer terms. Hear me out. I know that need more Ketracel White. My doctor can sedate your men and keep them alive until we're rescued. After that, we can put you into medical stasis until we secure a new supply."

    Sisko didn't want to murder them because it was pointless. They weren't trying to capture an objective, and the Jem'Hadar had lost the battle before it began. Sisko was trying not to have a massacre (and he ended up having it anyway). Ironically his attempt to stop it was so alien to them and their response so alien to him that it was doomed from the start. But he didn't see it that way. His failure to understand the Jem'Hadar cost him his man.


    I guess I would argue that it's not "senseless, purposeless murder" in the situation they were in. It also seemed too sterile, even by Star Trek standards. The redshirt (whom never got a name, if I recall correctly) is barely mourned. If anything Sisko seems more upset about killing the Jem Hadar than losing one of his own, which is interesting because I'm pretty sure he doesn't have to write letters to the families of the dead Jem Hadar....

    It strikes me as contrived. In the novelization of the episode (written by the same writers) Sisko even has a line about admiring the Jem Hadar's "quick assessment of the geology" or some such after his man goes down. What kind of CO feels anything but anger and/or regret watching one of his men die? What kind of CO places his men in harm's way so he can soothe his conscience?

    Sisko is most definitely not the person I would want to follow over the top, particularly if I was fighting an enemy as ruthless as the Dominion. As usual, Garek has the most poignant observation, "Correction, humans have rules. Rules that make victory a little harder to achieve, in my opinion."

    Garak: "In case, you've forgotten we're in a war."
    O'Brien: "There are rules, Garak, even in a war."
    Garak: "Correction. Humans have rules in war. Rules that tend to make victory a little harder to achieve, in my opinion."

    This exchange seems very prescient considering the events of "In the Pale Moonlight."

    Great episode, I liked how it gave us an inside perspective on the Jem'Hadar. Also, great subplot involving Kira - her strongest one over the course of the entire 6-ep arc.

    As for those asking why they couldn't have used the stun setting on the Jem'Hadar, I read somewhere on Memory Alpha that the stun setting doesn't work on them, although it was never stated explicitly on screen to my knowledge.

    This is one of my favorite episodes of ds9. Phil Morris has a lot to do with it. I can't believe that is the same man who played Jackie Chiles on Seinfeld. Ha.

    And since I like nitpicking here are are the only things I had an issue with. Why does Jake keep calling it an Occupation? Kira specifically said the the bajoran government welcomes the dominion plus they signed a non aggression treaty. The Bajoran government is perfectly fine with them on the station. Yet jakes keep calling it the occupation. Its annoying. Weyoun rightfully called him out on it. I wish when Jake was interviewing Odo that Odo or Kira had pointed out that this wasn't an occupation and any bajoran who had a problem with it should speak with their government. Now we all know the only reason they welcomed the dominion to ds9 was because Sisko recommended it. It's not an occupation. The other issue i have is Kira disobeying Sisko and forming a resistance. Sisko who she believes is a religious figure told her what to do. In a previous ep she told Sisko that the bajorans would do anything the emissary asks of them. I'm not a fan of the whole worshipping the wormhole aliens storyline but if the writers are gonna force it then let's be consistent.

    These are minor problems. I can watch this ep over and over. I find it fascinating to watch how brainwashed the jem hadar and vorta are. Plus you have have great battles, awesome scenery and Sisko and company agreeing to shoot them down in the valley to win. Something that kinda shows starfleet will do whatever it takes just like in pale moonlight. Of course Nog is brainwashed by starfleet and can't understand why they would go against their principles. Great ep.

    Another truly outstanding episode.

    Keevan (Christopher Shea) is amazing. He IS the quintessential Vorta here. He's my second favorite Vorta behind Weyoun.

    Exchanges like these are extremely well played and written:

    "KEEVAN: Don't be too hard on him, young man. He just saved your life. Take them to a secure area. Third, I have a mission for you. I want you to find the Starfleet unit. But do not engage them. Locate them, assess their strength, and then report back to me.
    REMATA'KLAN: I understand.
    KEEVAN: No, you don't. But that's all right. It's not important that you understand, only that you carry out my instructions precisely."

    "BASHIR: And you spend the war resting comfortably as a Starfleet POW while your men lie rotting on this planet.
    KEEVAN: I see we understand each other. I'm going to order the Jem'Hadar to attack your position tomorrow regardless of whether you agree to my terms or not. So you can either kill them or they'll kill you. Either way, they're coming."

    Then of course, if you don't understand the Jem'Hadar by now, this painted the clear picture.

    "SISKO: Do you really want to give up your life for the order of things?
    REMATA'KLAN: It is not my life to give up, Captain. And it never was."

    I'm just riveted by this episode every time I watch it. I think it’s better than ‘A Time to Stand’.

    Outstanding performances all around.

    Easy 4 stars.

    Fantastic episode. Wonderfully shot and fantastically written and paced. This episode feels a lot like some of the wonderful early-season episodes of Battlestar Galactica (combat drama cross cut with political drama).

    Without stealing Jammer's thunder by writing a novel-sized comment, here are some great things about this episode:

    -The Jem'Hadar plot is an amazing Star Trek episode. Sisko did everything he could to reach a solution that did not involve more bloodshed. It wasn't just internal stewing - he DID reach out and I think most viewers were even hoping that Remata'Klan would accept (even though it's more dramatic for him to refuse).

    -I say that it's more dramatic for the Jem'Hadar to refuse Sisko's offer, but I mean that in the best possible way. They're bred to do what they do and no way would they abandon the Founders. The soldiers who have done that in previous episodes are the exception, and it makes for a fantastic installment that Moore didn't do the same thing here.

    -Don't forget that Remata'Klan is the Third - NOT the First. That makes him less experienced and probably younger than his COs who died. Him suddenly being in charge is a great dramatic beat because (as mentioned in the intro) he really regrets disobeying the Vorta once already. But being so young he's also not disillusioned enough to do it again. The Jem'Hadar are tragic, and each appearance becomes more and more fascinating. For my money they're one of the highlight races in all of Trek.

    -Kira's storyline is fantastic too. It reminds me a lot of her story in "Progress" from the first season. The stakes here are much higher, though. I loved seeing her two-day routine. The first time it's mundane - her alarm wakes her up - and we can see how bizarre it is that an occupation should be this comfortable and routine. The second time, she realizes it for herself - already awake before the alarm - and it sinks in.

    -The suicide on the promenade is one of the most haunting scenes in the series. Sometimes DS9 has handled gestures like this too hamfistedly (the Vedek pushing another Vedek off the second level in "Accession" because of the new caste laws), but the hanging here feels earned and believable. It's pretty horrifying.

    -The Weyoun-Dukat-Damar-Kira dynamic is great, but I'll wait for it to come to a head before I write more.

    Well I wrote more than I wanted, but that's only because there's so much to talk about.

    Easy 4 stars. One of the best of the series.

    Powerful, riveting episode. I concur with Jammer that it's probably one of the best episodes in DS9, right up there with In the Pale Moonlight.

    Andrew Robinson provided a stellar performance as usual, stealing the scene every time he appears (when does he not?). I agreed with his assessment that "Humans have rules in war. Rules that tend to make victory a little harder to achieve, in my opinion," which was a very nice foreshadoing of the events to come in 'Pale Moonlight.' I like how his Cardassian pragmatism is shown to always prevail over Federation hedonism, but how both sides of the argument are so subtlely played out.

    Another wonderful scene that really stuck with me was how the Jem'Hadar all crowded around Keevan when Bashir was about to perform surgery on him, in 'childlike curiosity' as a former poster pointed out. It foreshadows the Third's final dialogue with Sisko in a way, that the Jem'Hadar truly don't have any control over their autonomy and how tragic that is. As we see later in 'Treachery, Faith, and the Great River', neither do the Vorta. Both their species have been specifically programmed to obey the Founders' every whim, even if it means killing themselves.

    Others have gone into detail about how horrific Yassim's suicide scene sears into one's mind, so I won't elaborate on that.

    On a final note, I'm getting tired of Nog showing up in every scene. He didn't annoy me so much when I first watched DS9, but ever since I watched 'Valiant' yesterday, I want to strangle him every time he gets all self-righteous and pompous on screen. He's like the Wesley Crusher of DS9, and to be honest I think he's even worse than Wesley. At least we had the satisfaction of seeing Picard and Bev Crusher shut him up a few times.

    This Dominion war arc invites comparison with B5 seasons 3 and 4: so far it hasn't seemed quite as epic and impressive. Plus none of the characters seem quite as fascinating as Londo and G'Kar. But this story was superb. The suicide and Kira's growing self-disgust, parallelled with the ending added up to great drama. It felt like watching a car crash: you can't do anything, but you can't take your eyes away either.

    I don't want to be too harsh on her, but I didn't like Kira's reaction to the "protest". But since it's such a contrast to her previous day, let's start by saying I find it hard to believe she had the habit to wake up, literally smile at herself in the mirror, then basically enjoy (with a bit if whining alright) another good day's work with all the Cardassians and Jem Hadars around.

    The Federation and the Klingons are loosing the war and thousands of people, but it's not so bad until she has a single hanging corpse before her. The emissary told the Bajorans to bide their time and stay out of the war (for obvious reasons really). But the old women couldn't understand... Kira even repeats "You don't understand", when it's quiet simple. But then everything changes with the suicide somehow, so why not risk her whole world and start the resistance?

    She really should have had that distrusting look from the beginning, and she should still want to keep DS9 out of trouble despite the pointless suicide. But the way it actually develops, she just lost her nerves and wants to throw herself into action. It's selfish, she always seems to act according to her emotions. But then, I'm sure it'll all turn out to be the right decision at some point.

    Still a very good episode I must add.

    Unlike Jammer, I loved "The Ship," but I agree with Jammer that "Rocks and Shoals" is even better! What a searing, probing, tragic episode! That final scene with Remata'Klan accepting his own certain death with such dignity and quiet calmness will always be with me. A beautiful, memorable episode!

    I am glad Kira's Resistance plans never really got off the ground, except for getting the jem hedar and Cardassians fighting and getting Rom in trouble, it was over before it started. I watched Season 7 and realized how vicious the Dominion was when Damar's resistance was taking place. They leveled entire cities as a response. They would have did the same to Bajor. The Gamma Quadrant was terrified of the Dominion because they destroyed generations of people (The Quickening) when they resisted them. Vedek Yasim's suicide meant nothing to me. Still a great episode.

    I seem to be in the minority here - didn't like the episode too much.

    I felt the SF officers were protesting an easy victory over the Jem Hadar too much. They were half suggesting not to take Keevan's intel and instead give the Jem Hadar a fair fight. Good luck explaining that to Keiko if Miles doesn't make it.

    Yes, Keevan could have agreed to Sisko's convoluted plan. But he didn't end of story. And even if, from what I've been told about the Jem Hadar, they would not voluntarily lay down their weapons to be sedated by Bashir.

    You can lament how the Jem Hadar have no say in their fate and how unfair all of that is, but we didn't shed tears for any of the thousands of them so far killed on the show. None of them had a choice either.

    The B-Story is equally ham-fisted.

    I'm really surprised at the high rating, but maybe this episode hasn't aged as well as others.

    First off, unlike "To the Death", Keevan and the other Jem'Hadar come off looking completely one-dimensional. Despite Sisko's attempts to get the enemy to actually struggle with their beliefs, the Vorta and Jem'Hadar stubbornly cling to their racial programming, and the story plays everything by the books. At this late in the series, it would've been nice to show the Federation finally finding some sympathizers within the Dominion, but alas, no such luck.

    The B-plot wasn't particularly well-written either. Kira slipping into the role of a collaborator just doesn't fit with her character, and frankly isn't an accurate description of the situation. Unbeknownst to Yassim, Kira is actually biding her time to turn on the Dominion, and everything else is just a front. Kira should've found a way to communicate that to Yassim, or Yassim should've had a little more faith in a veteran resistance fighter. Either way neither of the characters acts believably, and we're forced to watch the quick death of character we hardly care about to learn something about Kira we already knew; she wants to fight the Dominion.

    The story overall has good acting and some good jokes, so I'd give this a solid 2 or maybe even a 2.5, but anything higher should be reserved for episodes that don't color so closely within the lines.

    This is definitely one of the best DS9 episodes with me.

    It's too bad they couldn't have used Keevan more. Unlike Weyoun (who is awesome in his own right), this guy's actually really menacing and dark.

    4 stars all the way!

    Properly strong episode, this one. It is indeed something of a triumph to make the Jem'Hadar the sympathetic characters, and it helps by having a character like Keevan who is so well drawn as to be utterly contemptible.

    On the other plotline, the way Kira begins to realise that she has become what she hates is also brilliantly realised, and the shot of Yassim's death beautifully stylised.

    Some good dialogue and a gorgeous FX shot of the ship crashing too. 3.5 stars.

    This was the third episode of DS9 I watched and one of the reasons I think it's the best show in the franchise.

    If "A Time to Stand" was 10/10 worthy, "Rocks and Shoals" takes that 10 point scale, sets it on fire, dynamites it, builds a new scale from the ashes and then blows "A Time to Stand" completely out of the water! OH MY GOD, was this good!

    Before I discuss the A and B plots, I want to focus quickly on the acting, because everyone involved delivered absolutely top-notch performances. Avery Brooks, Andrew Robinson, Christopher Shea (Keevan).... hell, pretty much everyone in the Sisko plot.... was very much up to the task of taking a brilliant script and adding brilliant acting to it. Brooks' final scene where he shows his complete contempt for Keevan was a thing to behold, especially since Brooks has a reputation (often undeserved, I think) for somewhat below-average acting. And Nana Visitor.... well, she should have won a fucking Emmy for this episode! The fact that she wasn't even nominated is just one more proof for me that the Emmys (like the Oscars) are mostly a load of bullshit and a waste of time.

    As for the Sisko A-plot.... First, it's nice to see writers that actually understand the concept of gallows humor. "I tore my pants!" cracks me up every time. :-) Second, we actually have an "honorable" Jem'Hadar used correctly here, unlike previous attempts in "The Abandoned" and "Hippocratic Oath". Remata'klan is honorable not because he rebels against the Dominion, not because he wants to be free from their control, but because he has a code of honor that he follows religiously. That's a wonderful message, as soldiers on both sides of a war can be honorable people and find some common ground between them, even if they hold completely opposing philosophies. Third, Sisko's decisions here are wonderfully executed. Yes, he is right to declare that the decision is his call and not a debate; yes, he's right to try to turn the Jem'hadar against Keevan; yes, he's right to offer them a chance to survive; and yes, he's right, sadly, to ultimately gun them all down when left with no other choice - because he's right that in a choice between them and his crew there is no choice. Beautifully done!

    As for the Kira B-plot.... I don't often comment on the directing, because that's just not in my wheelhouse, but even I can see some mastery at work here. Whereas the A-plot is shot almost entirely with grand, sweeping panoramas to convey Sisko feeling like the weight of the world is on his shoulders, the B-plot is shot almost entirely in tight, close angles. You really get the sense of the walls closing in around the characters.

    If you put a frog in hot water, it will jump out; but gradually bring it to a boil and it will sit there and die. That's exactly what is happening to Kira in "Rocks and Shoals" - she's slowly being brought to a boil. Weyoun, just like he was doing in "A Time to Stand", is using a pleasant face to conceal the Dominion's true purposes. And it works so well that even Kira starts to fall for it. It takes Vedek Yassim's suicide to violently yank her out of her stupor and force her to see what is happening to her. Speaking of Yassim's suicide, that was a thing of story-telling/narrative/dramatic beauty! It's very minimalist, but ABSOLUTELY DEVASTATING!! I remember when I first watched this episode, it made me quite literally gasp in shock! It works so well because it not only forces Kira to see what is going on (that she's already on the slippery slope to becoming a collaborator) but also violently yanks the audience back to reality. You almost get the sense that Kira is right to comply with the Dominion (to keep Bajor out of the fighting) and that Yassim is wrong. Well, that certainly changes once you see Yassim drop from the second floor of the Promenade and her religious hat go flying, doesn't it?! I only wish I had the eloquence to adequately describe just how intensely powerful this scene is, in an episode that was already quite emotionally powerful.

    "Evil must be opposed." As Bryan Cranston would say.... "You're god-damn right!"


    I'm not sure the dominion would bother to rescue them since they're just clones and given that why would Keevan care if he died if he'd just wake up in a cloning lab? Maybe to avoid the pain I guess.

    For the vorta being cloned and sharing the same consciousness are not the same thing. Each Weyoun clone has the same memories as the one before it but he is not the same person. If Keevan died he dies for good.

    On the Jem'Hadar I think they would be rescued just so they have experienced soldiers who can pilot ships.

    Thought provoking review and comments all around - genuinely worth reading (for me) almost everything on this page.

    It's often jarring to be confronted with disconcern and/or unexamined ruthlessness regarding the deliberate termination of life. Irrespective of, for instance, whether it would ultimately prove necessary to kill the enemy soldiers, isn't an evolution in the thinking processes of mankind a central tenent of Star Trek? Yes there is war, but this isn't set in the 21st century and Cisco isn't Patton or Rommel. He is supposed to represent hundreds of years of conscious, progressive effort to place in check our destructive instincts.

    The world is gradually becoming less and less violent (no, really - I didn't believe it myself but Steve Pinker's evidence and arguments have convinced me). Certainly the Trek universe depicts humanity as having finally done most of the remaining work necessary to embody disciplined restraint and compassion at the expense of violence, whether reflexive or strategic. Attacking Cisco for trying to find a way not to kill those enemy soldiers (while understandable given the stakes) is, I would suggest, thinking in contemporary terms at the expense of incorporating some of the most defining elements of Trek into one's calculus.

    In the same vein, many comments here have characterized "Paul Gordon" (Joseph Fuqua), the handsome Starfleet "redshirt" who is killed during the climax, as a victim of what they see as Cisco's - or even the writers' - misplaced attempts at diplomacy. But Gordon was Star Fleet, and more, he was a man, a human, of his time. I would like to suggest that he was not a victim, and would not have seen himself as one. Perhaps I am out on a rhetorical limb here, but supporting evidence was provided when the crew confront the morality of Keevan's ambush. Gordon himself says, with obvious revulsion at the idea, "So we just...shoot them down?"

    Being killed, especially with most of your life still ahead of you, is not a choice most of us would make. But living by your convictions, especially when doing so is difficult or even dangerous, must be among lifes' most defining behaviors. Cisco did not carelessly or needlessly throw away Gordon's life. He pursued a course mandated by a philosophy of existence to which Gordon, and Star Trek, devotedly subscribe. With so much discussion here and elsewhere about "honor", what does honor have to "say" about acting in accordance to your considerd beliefs?

    This episode is repleat with subtlety, depth, thematicism, and depictional excellence. Brooks and especially Visitor knocked it out of the park, as did the writers and director. Moreover, the guest actors were outstanding. Phil Morris was riveting, and Lily Chauvin was excellent - yes, IMHO, excellent, as Vedek Yassim. She depicted Yassim as poised, profoundly serious, appropriately proclative, and, above all, crystal clear as to her purpose: to open the eyes of someone in whom she had placed her faith for the salvation of her people. In.Frakking.Credible.

    That this site persists despite the antiquity (in terms of the digital world) of the bulk of its content, obligates my sincere and evergreen gratitude. I began visiting here shortly after taking my first job out of college. Now closing in on two decades later, I find my occasional vintageTrek streaming greatly enhanced by re-reading Jammer's take, and catching up with opinions of other ST devotees. I love it when someone out there elucidates a point, whether or not I immediately or ultimately agree with it, that simply had not occurred. So thank you fellow commentators, and above all, thank you Jammer.

    LT Heeley - shame she wasn't turned into a reccuring character, completely steals show with the limited time she's given!

    Not even an unamed random redshirt, how many 1 shot characters get the rank of LT!?

    Count me in the Heeley fanclub!

    Well that was grim. I never thought Star Trek would feature an old lady hanging herself in public.

    I agree that this episode was great. Nitpicks:

    Why did the Dominion ships fire on them? Weren't they in a Dominion ship themselves?

    The vorta could have ordered the Jem Haddar to commit suicide. Or Sisko could have suggested the stasis idea to the vorta.

    Why can't Bajor create its own medical supplies? That seems weird for a developed planet.

    It's not clear whether the Jem Hadar are brainwashed or if they genuinely, genetically lack free will. When they were introduced it was the latter, but a huge percentage of the jem haddar that have had close encounters with Sisko and crew have turned out to be much more complicated. Is that because a war machine is not that interesting as a character or as part of a story? Or are all jem haddar potentially capable of overcoming their programming?

    @Quarkissnyder - In the first episode where we really explore the Jem'Hadar programming we're actually introduced to both halves of this answer in a very subtle way. In "Abandoned" Odo desperately wants the boy he finds to be more than his genetic programming the way that Odo is... but finds that he is wrong. We later see pretty significant hints that Odo has a hard time overcoming his own programming as well (starting with abandoning a ship in crisis because he's compelled to go to the Omarian Nebula), so it makes sense that he wants this to be true despite everyone telling him the boy is just a killing machine.

    ODO: Major, about the boy. You were right.

    We could just leave it at that and assume it was the writer's original intention.... BUT, in the same episode we're also introduced to some hope. Ketracel White. If no Jem'Hadar could overcome his programming would they need to be born addicted to a drug that only the founders can provide? Around a season later, in Hippocratic Oath we find a bunch of Jem'Hadar that want to be free of the white.

    Instinct is powerful. It's hard to say.... let a spider crawl across the back of your neck without feeling squeamish about it. But we can. Tiger's have been taught to let people place their heads in the mouths without eating us. Heck, some guy even had a pet alligator, which really shouldn't be possible. The Jem'Hadar are heavily programmed to obey the Vorta and revere the Founders..... but if the programming was perfect there would be no need for Ketracel White.


    In "To The Death", there is at least a company of Jem'Hadar who have enough free will to not only break from The Founders, but come up with their own plans to rule the galaxy. The issue of white never came up, but Weyoun admitted that the Dominion's appearance of control over the Jem'Hadar had been exaggerated.

    Between this and "Hippocratic Oath"'s portrayal of the Jem'Hadar, my take is that they're both a psychologically and physiologically dominated people, who can do well enough on their own when these controls are removed.

    Powerful episode ...

    Excellent commentary by everyone

    Who's to say the red shirt wouldn't have been killed even if Sisko had opted to shoot first and ask questions later? It's war, and the Jem Hadar are pretty good at their job.

    3 stars

    Definitely nowhere near as good as "Call to Arms" and a step down from "A Time to Stand". I was happy DS9 was choosing to do serialization with the start of the season--something it should have done and done more often rather than doing a mythology story here and there

    That said, while it was nice the episode featured Vorta and Jem'Hadar and picked up with the crew struggling on their damaged enemy ship--the episode wasn't particular compelling. No Dukat, no Weyoun, no Winn, no Founder. None of the interesting plotting--the last episode ended with the situation of Odo being part of the station council but that seemingly set aside and we get the story with the vedek. Odo was correct and so Kira initially. The Dominion aren't the Cardassians. The current situation on the station is apples and oranges. The Dominion are more ruthless and have more powerful and deadlier arsenal of weapons from biological to conventional. Not doing anything to jeopardize the non aggression pact was wise
    And I don't know about anybody else but the "looking at yourself in the mirror" technique employed here was quite pretentious

    The other plot with the Jem'Hadar was decent enough of not compelling or all that involving
    Dax being wounded didn't do much for me and seemed kinda pointless. Not much new ground was covered with regards to the Dominion. We already knew the jem'Hadar were ruthless soldiers bred to fight and be obedient. We knew the Vorta see them as cannon fodder. So no new intriguing insight was offered up to add to the Dominion mythology. The battles were fair enough--not riveting mind you

    Overall not the strongest episode as I was hoping for

    Another powerful episode -- actually making me feel pity for the Jem'Hadar (which I felt before just objectively given their role) but here at the hands of a snake of a Vorta, I feel it even more. But they are true to the order of the Dominion and the Vorta certainly don't mind one bit. The Vorta has devised a plan for survival and it will cost all the lives of the Jem'Hadar -- but so be it. It's either them or the (former) DS9 staff.

    A pretty clever setup that hits on the theme that there are rules even in war. Several nice standoffs between Sisko, the main Jem'Hadar (who was Kelley in VOY's "One Small Step" -- another terrific episode), and the Vorta.

    Loved the outdoor filming as if it is a feature film -- the scene were Garak/Nog cross Bashir/Sisko was really cool. Really got the sense that they are on an actual planet as opposed to some Hollywood set.

    As for the B-story on DS9 - Nana Visitor shines in this one as Kira is becoming exactly what she hates -- trying to suppress the resistance. Really well portrayed. The scene with the vedic hanging herself is powerful and impactful and Visitor shows how it hits Kira like a ton of bricks.

    3.5 stars for "Rocks and Shoals" -- more great insights into the Jem'Hadar and the Vorta and even with spending a very short amount of time on the B-story, so much is conveyed as a resistance cell is in the making. Ultimately the main story arc doesn't advance too much here but this makes for an excellent near-standalone episode.

    I always found the Starfleet view in this episode of "We can't just shoot them, it's not fair if we know their plan!" as being incredibly flawed and probably the reason why they're failing so miserably at the war at this point, the idea of "fair play" doesn't work well in war especially against an enemy like the Dominion who barely values your race as worthy of life. Something I would have loved to have heard Garak say to Nog and O'Brien was the immortal words of Gul Dukat "Oh now don't go spouting off your holier-than-thou Federation fair play dogma".

    I mean whats the point of Starfleet Intelligence existing if they don't want to use "intelligence" to outwit the enemy? Put it into a historical perspective, when the Allies broke the German Enigma code during WWII they could study their transmissions and knew of their plans before they happened, which is a credit to why they managed to eventually win the war and prevent Europe from becoming a fascist dystopia that the Federation would become if the Dominion wins. Now imagine if some peoples personal moral view overided logic and we decided "Nah using the intelligence we gathered from breaking German codes is too "easy", it's not a fair fight. We should march onto the battlefield and meet the Nazis face to face and have a jolly old punchup like men!" we'd have lost the war within the first few years and millions would have been slaughtered in camps and massacres.

    The same applies here, the Dominion is the biggest threat to Humanity in probably the history of Humanity itself, they have the Cardassian "Space Nazis" on their side and their main fighting force, The Jem'Hadar are brutal, efficient killing machines in a very literal sense, programmed to follow whatever orders they're given and that's that. These are the same group of people who have already destroyed hundreds of Starfleet vessels containing thousands of personnel and within Dominion territory itself, have slaughtered likely billions of people over the years as well as performing chemical warfare (The Blight) against civilian populations, yet we feel sorry for this squad of Jem'Hadar because their "leader" double crossed them by given Sisko their plan of attack?

    This is what happens when Human Starfleet personnel "humanise" their enemy in every sense of the word, they're not Humans, they don't share our morals they don't share our view they don't even share much likeness to us or our culture. I'm not saying "slaughter every Jem'Hadar! They're not worthy of life!" or anything like that at all, I'm simply saying don't anthropomorphise them, they're not like us and as Lieutenant Neeley said "They wouldn't hesitate if the situation was reversed". There are times in war when people feel sympathy for the other side yes, this is not one of those times especially when being outnumbered 2 to 1.

    What a great captain, Sisko is. In the middle of a war, he offers to save the enemy who have and are wiping out as many people as possible.

    Just what is the plan there? And why isn't Sisko held accountable for that? If anything went wrong or any other people died, he'd be to blame.

    It just seemed to me to allow the writers a get out clause... so that killing the JH wasn't seen as "un-Starfleet".

    The image of the evacuation from the sinking fighter, as well as the arid landscape, seemed like a deliberate shout-out to the beginning of "Planet of the Apes". Near the end it started to feel like a classic Western. I love it when Trek shoots on location. I bet those costumes and make-up were very uncomfortable out there, though!

    Hello Everyone!

    I think it comes down to this: If Sisko had found out about the plan through subterfuge, or found a map of the attack wrapped around a cigar (historical reference), he'd have had no problem with it. But he has some Honor left. And it just didn't feel Honorable, at that time, to massacre an enemy to save the skin of the Vorta who arranged it. Because the Vorta was despicable.

    If they'd shown Sisko, and to a lesser extent O'Brien and the rest, just wanting to execute them without a second thought, they would be no better than the Jem'Hadar...

    Enjoy the Day Everyone... RT

    These episodes are so good, the last few and onward. I'm not commenting a lot since I'm doing a rewatch. But a few thoughts... It's nice to see that all of my favorite characters are around, now. Funny how none of them except Odo are in the opening credits.
    Given Odo's 'god' status, I think he could rule the station. He's smart enough not to pull that card...maybe he will?
    Jake on the station would be a prisoner of war. I think the Cardassians aren't terrified of the Dominion (though they should be), I wouldn't be surprised to see Jake being tortured to death eventually. (If it were my kid, I'd have gone back, AND put his butt in the brig for a while. I hope Sisko has a 'come to Jesus' meeting with him soon, if either survive.)
    Finally, wtf is Cadet Nog doing on such a grave mission? For that matter, why Sisko? Is he that unpopular at SF Command? I'd think Worf, maybe O'Brien or Dax, but Nog has had, what, a semester at the academy? No reason he shouldn't be treated like a minor, which he is, not an officer on a potential suicide mission.
    Bashir (especially in previous episode) didn't come off as developed to me - more like a different character, trying to act like a tough guy on the bridge instead of in sickbay. And the whole surprise genius stuff never seemed to work.
    I am happy to be in season 6 & will give no spoilers, but it's immense television.

    "Rocks and Shoals" continues the fantastic station material from "A Time to Stand", but this time, the A plot is just as good. That's mainly due to yet another knockout script from the great Ronald D. Moore, and Phil Morris' compelling performance. I didn't really buy Sisko's respect for the Jem'Hadar in "To the Death". It came off as more than a little forced. Third Remata'Klan feels much more believable and honorable, and as a result the episode's tragedy hit that much harder.

    4 stars, easily. A top ten episode. Thus far, I think my top ten list goes:

    "Necessary Evil"
    "The Way of the Warrior"
    "The Visitor"
    "Rocks and Shoals"
    "Far Beyond the Stars"
    "In the Pale Moonlight"
    "Treachery, Faith, and the Great River"
    "It's Only a Paper Moon"
    "Tacking Into the Wind"

    That might change on re-watch.

    Nice list Iceman.

    These lists always change over time :-)

    Here's mine.

    #1. Trials and Tribble-ations
    #2. Duet
    #3. For The Uniform
    #4. In The Pale Moonlight
    #5. Explorers
    #6. The Way of the Warrior
    #7. The Visitor
    #8. Call To Arms/Sacrifice of Angels
    #9. In Purgatory's Shadow
    #10. The Search

    @Yanks-I don't really disagree with any of yours. I'm quite fond of "Explorers" as well, even if a lot of others find it boring. :)

    I am surprised to see "The Visitor" and "For the Uniform" on your list though. I recall you not being quite as on board with "The Visitor" as Jammer, and agreeing with his opinion that "For the Uniform" was a good, but flawed episode.


    True. This list is an old one. I might have to look at my ratings and reevaluate.

    I graded 'The Visitor' 3.5. I still think it will make the list but I did dock 'For the Uniform' a point for there being no repercussions for Sisko's actions. Maybe a 3.0 episode shouldn't be here.

    I shall return!! :-)

    Aren't the Vorta as much an engineered species as the Jem'Hadar? Keevan was played as a treacherous villain, but can't you make the argument that he was just saving his life so he could continue to serve the founders?

    Vedek Yassim was so well written and played, I thought she had been on the show previously and I had missed it.

    Sisko’s angst about the situation seemed out of place, and certainly discussing the Vorta’s plan in the presence of junior officers like Nog was inappropriate. They’re at war, behind the lines with an enemy preparing to attack. That Keevan is a sleaze ball is irrelevant.

    Watching and commenting:

    -Sisko and company crash on a desert island.

    --Some Jem Hadar is also stranded there, with limited White.

    --The Skipper and Gilligan, aka Garak and Nog, are quite the odd couple.

    --Asking the right questions, "you don't understand" - we're seeing and hearing that several times. Obedience, disobedience.

    --Does Sisko still have those 84 canisters of White?

    --Nog turning his back on Garak now, I see. Lots of trust talk.

    --It's all too much for Kira. Very nice sequence showing how the realization truly, deeply hits her: OMG, the Cardassians are back. OMG, the Cardassians - they're back. And I'm doing nothing.

    --So that's some strange "order of things." Vorta coming off as so very weak, underneath it all.

    --Hoping we'll see the consequences of the destruction of their White supply.

    Good ep.

    @Startrekwatcher - I think the idea of having Dax injured was due to the fact Terry Farrell had extremely sensitive skin. Having her laid up in the cave for the majority of the episode meant she wouldn’t have to film any exterior scenes. I remembering reading that her skin condition played havoc with the filming of “Let He Who Is Without Sin”.

    Short notes on this episode, just some of the many reasons it's so great:

    - it's the best Jem'Hadar episode (building on The Abandoned, Hippocratic Oath and To The Death, but more successful than any)
    - and easily the best Vorta episode (Treachery, Faith and the Great River in S7 never worked that well for me; here, in the form of Keevan, the Vorta are shown at their most duplicitous and self-serving)
    - on top of that, it's also a fantastic Kira episode... her storyline is brilliant and told in just a few scenes, many non-verbal; the dialogue is perfect but Vejar's direction and Visitor's acting do the heavy lifting
    - Lilyan Chauvin is superb and incredibly memorable in her small but crucial role as Vedek Yassim
    - excellent use of Garak too

    For me, while A Time To Stand is strong, this is considerably better - so for me A Time To Stand is 3.5 and this is 4.

    Gave me tingles, and had to pause the playback at the hanging. Did I really just see that? In *Star Trek*? Bold.

    This was my favourite section of the arc, no doubt. Everything on display here is top-notch.

    It's visually stunning, to start off with. The extreme harsh daylight of the setting makes everything feel more threatening. The feeling of being slowly boiled alive hangs over the whole show. It's a hell of a directorial job in general -- back on Terok Nor, we've got the shots of Kira having to wake up and look herself in the eye every day, and that really drives home how soul-crushing her predicament is.

    Intense moments here. Vedek Yassim hangs herself on the Promenade; Starfleet puts the Jem'Hadar to the slaughter. This is extremely weighty subject matter on both sides, and aptly-handled -- with a hell of a lot of moral complexity in both.

    Kira's plot shows how easy it is to get caught up in day-to-day life in a situation like this -- to lose track of the bigger picture. Like the proverbial frog in boiling water, noticing no change when the heat's ramping up bit-by-bit. It's an insidious display of Dominion technique. It'll take something drastic before she can realise, and Yassim is the one to provide that -- it's just as much a shock to Kira as it is to the audience, and it's the shock she needs.

    The final showdown between Starfleet and the Jem'Hadar is difficult to assess from a moral perspective. At what point does this stop being combat and start being a massacre? Their opponents aren't defenceless, and do manage to cause one Starfleet death in the end, but it's so heavily weighted in Starfleet's favour. What matters more is the purpose of the assault: Keevan's sending them into battle purely to have them die, with Starfleet as the executioners.

    Sisko talking it out with the Jem'Hadar changes the nature of the situation. He wants an option other than life or death, but for the Jem'Hadar, there's no such thing. We know how they see things: they are dead, and victory is life. So to them, it's a simple matter. If there's no chance of victory, there's no chance at life. They simply stay dead. And they cannot/will not diverge from that. So Sisko is forced to play by their life-and-death rules.

    Effective use is made of the individual characters on Starfleet's side; the close-ups during the massacre show us the different perspectives. Seasoned soldier O'Brien has lived through more than enough death in his life already; young cadet Nog has never had to see or do anything like this before. Garak, with no moral compunctions, is grimly relieved to get the dirty job done; Sisko has to agree with Garak despite wishing it could be otherwise. He gives the order; he bears that guilt.

    Special mention to the early scene between Garak and Nog, just before they're caught by the Jem'Hadar. Empok Nor was Nog's most brutal Starfleet experience before now, and it's good to see he hasn't forgotten it... or come to trust Garak again. Garak might be on Starfleet's side for the purposes of this arc -- participating in the group scenes, joking with the others, taking his place on the Defiant -- but they do well to give us reminders that he's not one of them. Leaves just that little bit more tension in there.

    Regarding "aren't the Vorta an engineered species too". Sure they are, but they are also effectively the "managers". A good (and honourable) manager doesn't hang their employees out to dry, they shield them and take the blame themselves. Which is exactly what Third Remata'klan did as an honourable commander.

    Just as in real-life, insanity or following orders or what not does get you off in some circumstances. Some things, however, are too despicable to be forgiven despite the situation -- which is the same type of concern Kira is dealing with and chewing herself up over.

    I was thinking about it just now and realized there may be another parallel connecting the A and B stories. When the Federation crew crashes and sets up camp in the cave, IIRC they're joking about the hotel-like accomodations they've now got. They're doing it to boost morale, but the spirit of the joking is to try to at least pretend their situation is ok to avoid despair. This is not unlike Kira, who on the station is also trying to pretend that her situation is ok and that she needs to bide her time. Her comparatively cushy surroundings make it all too easy to trick herself into thinking she's not also stranded, swimming for life among the rocks and shoals of the Dominion. The difference is that she allowed herself to believe it briefly, but she was no less stuck on a planet with the Dominion than Sisko and the Fed crew were.

    Another good episode in what was probably the strongest run of episodes across all of DS9.

    In some ways, the B-plot is arguably stronger than the A-plot, with Kira lifelessly trudging through her daily routine under Cardassian rule. The scenes where she forces herself to get up and go to work are deeply poignant. And the self-martyrdom of the Vedek bordered on a cliche, but still packs an emotional punch.

    (Though I have to ask: with the number of falls and deaths from the upper promenade walkway, why has the station never fitted any safety nets, or some form of future-tech solution, such as a movement sensor and a low-power tractor beam...)

    By comparision, the A-plot isn't as great, not least because it relies on a heavily contrived setup, in having the DS9 crew land within a convenient walking distance of the already-stranded Jem Hadar.

    But still it does have it's moments, especially when Keevan appears on screen. For my money, he's a much better "negotiator" than Weyoun, with his devious plots and more sarcastic nature. It's a shame we didn't get to see more of this character going forward (except for... well, you know... spoilers!)

    Equally, it's a bit of a shame that the writers decided to go for a turkey-shoot ending. Especially since there were two possibilities which could have been explored:

    1) The 84 cannisters of Ketracel sitting on the sunken Jem Hadar fighter. Even if it's sunk too deep for a human to swim down to, surely one of the genetically-enhanced Jem Hadar could have made it down there...
    2) The Jem Hadar could have been sedated. It would have been nice if the writers had at least considered this possibility - after all, it wouldn't be too hard to make up some reason as to why they couldn't be sedated, tied into their genetically engineered nature.

    Still, a pretty decent episode when all's said and done...

    Is this maybe the darkest Trek episode? That hanging scene was shocking. Grey ep!

    One of the best DS9 episodes ever made. Perhaps a scene that doesn't get noticed enough but is key for the story's thematic undertone is when Sisko first meets the Jem'Hadar Third and tries to manipulate him to serve his own ends (a fact Dax them comments on). The core of the episode seems to be about how war is fundamentally about manipulating the troops to do the bidding of the higher echelons without regard for their own lives. This is what "the order of things" inevitably is, and Sisko isn't above it either. In the end, however, Sisko's actions do show that there is indeed more to war than that.

    Remata'Klan is a sympathetic character the moment we realize that he is fully intelligent but has no freedom of choice.


    "Remata'Klan is a sympathetic character the moment we realize that he is fully intelligent but has no freedom of choice."

    I think what makes this even more powerful is that he does have a choice and still decides to obey the Vorta. We've seen a number one kill a Vorta before (Weyoun).

    Caught this on BBC the other day. One of DS9's best in my opinion.

    This one has a remarkable line from Keevan, about the “famed Starfleet engineers that can turn rocks into replicators”.

    This is gold, because the early years of contact with the Dominion appeared quite insurmountable.

    Keevan is throwing out his Vorta charm with that line, but it’s legit— he’s trying to save his own ass. He clearly believes that the Feds can seemingly perform technological magic, which means the Dominion believes that too.

    "Rocks and Shoals" is a little masterpiece, with that unmistakable Ron Moore touch.

    Essentially a Sum Fuller movie squeezed into 45 minutes - Sam Fuller made low budget WW2 movies, in which little squads of opposing troops found themselves lost in little morality plays - this episode finds Sisko and the gang stranded on an alien planet. Also with them are a gang of Jem'Hadar under the command of a wounded Vorta.

    As others have mentioned, the Vorta here is superbly acted by Christopher Shea. IMO it's a performance even better than Jeffrey Combs' Weyoun. Shea's Vorta has an otherworldly quality. He feels like those images of Hindu Gods, humanoid but inhuman, and with a serene, but detached and haughty quality. The guy moves like he's on an entirely different astral plane, and feels far more alien, and even divine, than Weyoun.

    Much of the episode plays like a superior version of "Nor the Battle To The Strong", "To The Death" and "The Ship". The Vorta wants Sisko's medic, and Sisko wants the Vorta's communication's relay. Standing in their way is the Jem'Hadar, who the Vorta sacrifices to Sisko in exchange for a pampered prison sentence. It's an interesting triangle, with Sisko torn between the survival of his crew, and the survival of the Jem'Hadar, a species he continues to have sympathy for.

    Good location photography, some good fleshing out of Garak and Nog (Nog refuses to ever stand in front of Garak), some great Miles moments, and some great secondary characters (compare Moore's redshirts with Fuller's caricatures in "Empok Nor") help complement Moore's writing, which has a muscular, confident quality.

    Equally good is a subplot back on DS9. Here Kira's become complacent with Dominion rule, comfortably pampered and corralled and attuned to a life of submission. It's a slow and gutsy piece of writing, the episode simply watching as a tired Kira goes about her dull daily routines, sipping raktajino and manning her console. When a Bajoran Vedek commits suicide to protest the occupation (the Vedek is played with rare gravity and class by seasoned actress Lilyan Chauvin), Kira snaps out of her fugue. She realizes she's essentially become a collaborator, and resolves to form a resistance movement.

    This, of course, echoes Sisko's plight, in which Sisko and the Vorta, Federation and Enemy, collaborate with one another to ensure their comfort and survival. The victims of Kira's collaborations are Bajor and the Entire Alpha Quadrant. The victims of Sisko's are the Jem'Hadar, who in this episode are also asked to swear fidelity to one of two causes.

    So great it's in a class of its own, even watched as a stand alone episode it makes superb viewing. Dialogue, pace, themes, dramatic development, cinematography are all superlative. The acting equally impressive, with Brooks not chewing the scenery for once. Christopher Shea as the Vorta brings a unique menace to the role. His performance is a counterpoint to Jeffrey Combs' lighter and ironic character. They should have kept him on some more. Have seen this episode several times and it never loses it luster. The Kira subplot is superb too, achieving complexity in every way. I wish such episodes would be "the order of things" in all of ST. One of my top fave pieces of TV within ST and in general.

    Thanks for an excellent and concise review. I agree with you on all major points.

    Actor playing Third was very good. He portrayed perfectly an reasoning and sensitive being, trapped by structure and fatalistically attached to the drug of loyalty.

    Actor playing the Vorta (Christopher Shea) reminded me a bit of 30's-40's era film noir actor Peter Lorre, exuding an almost magical force of intellect, staying cool while simultaneously being on the verge of panic.

    4 stars; happy having seen it.

    Personally, the entire planet story arc was .....meh , it actually reminded me of a very terrible voyager crash landing on an alien planet episode (and lord knows they are numerous), ironic because without warp they were stuck 17 years in space unless they turned themselves in to the Dominion.

    That being said, the real meat of this episode that makes me give it a 3/5 are the growing tensions between Kira and Dukat, especially the office scene where she calls him for being a power drunk lunatic and honestly thought and insists he will have his way with her (although it was obvious in season 4 Dukat had something for Kira before he was empowered).

    One of the best episodes yet! I shed a tear for the Jem'Hadar. The Vorta was brilliantly played.

    *shakes fist at the Vorta*

    The B story on occupied DS9 was also perfect.

    Great episode. My only problem was how it should have ended. Sisko confines the Vorta uncomfortably in the cave, galled at the fact that a small bit of discomfort is all he can manage for the Vorta's crimes. Garak, however, somehow arranges an opportune moment to grab some alone time with the Vorta. They have a conversation where Garak says something to the effect of "Oh, the Federation, such a stickler for rules, regulations, principles, coming in good faith, and remaining above board. It's one of their most annoying, yet... strangely... endearing qualities. Unfortunately for you, I have no such qualities." With a wicked smile he approaches the Vorta.

    In the morning they find the Vorta dead from apparent complications from his surgery. The doctor bemoans that he must have missed some internal hemorrhaging or perhaps the Vorta being up and about so soon after surgery aggravated his injury. But Sisko is not so sure. He turns to Garak who's standing in the mouth of the cave with a suitably bemused look on his face, clearly wondering what all the fuss was about. Sisko opens his mouth and raises his hand to get Garak's attention, but no sound comes out. Some questions are better left unasked. He lowers his hand after a moment and turns towards the communicator that O'brien and Nog just finished fixing to call for extraction.

    It is very good and feels epic.

    I agree with the other poster that Shea's Keevan really does seem otherworldly and not like an actor wearing prosthetics. Jeffrey Combs is as extremely talented near chameleon but I don't think he as well as Shea.

    Unfortunately, Keevan was completely squandered in his second appearance in a Ferengi "comedy" episode.

    A minor nitpick, but why doesn't Kira tell Yassim that the Emissary himself wanted Kira and Bajor to stay out of the fighting?

    Trek or not, this was just one fine piece of television drama. It shows how multi-episode arcs give the characters & stories a chance to breathe and expand, rather than having to reset everything with strictly episodic fare. Since your audience is already familiar with the on-going plot, you don’t have to spend as much time on the set-up and you get the wonderfully nuanced character moments we’ve been seeing here.


    The suicide scene was unexpected & I literally gasped out loud when it happened!

    Such a perfectly planned, written and performed episode by all concerned, which deftly marries war and ethics (on the planet) and politics and ethics (on the station).

    Is there anything more Trekkian than humanising your erstwhile enemies the way the Jem'Hadar are portrayed here?

    Keevan is a repugnantly smarmy Vorta as well, so brilliantly played that you get a visceral reaction to his betrayal of his own men at the end - the road to hell is paved with smug intentions. No Weyoun obsequiousness and calculated flattery here.

    Now, in 2024. I've been catching some DS9 episodes on Pluto TV in no particular order. I had a rough knowledge of the series beforehand and I've read a fair number of these reviews and comments about various episodes throughout the series. This is a really good episode and the first where I can agree with Jammer's gushing enthusiasm that permeates his reviews of this series.

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