Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Armageddon Game

"As long as the knowledge exists, there's a danger it may be used. That's a risk we refuse to live with."

In this episode the Bashir and O'Brien team are once again on the prowl as they carry out a mission to help bring a phase of biological warfare to a close on the T'Lani homeworld. Betrayal and subterfuge bring a peaceful mission to dangerous levels–but will Sisko and the rest of the crew rescue our boys before they die of boom-boom-boom?

On the one hand this is a simple story–a world moving on, the Federation once again helping with the clean-up. The T'Lani/Kellerun war ending, and the process of de-militarizing their society, gave me a fairly hopeful feeling. I can't even be angry when they try to scrap the lab and their own scientists–to a world just out of war, it must seem like anything could and should be done to keep war from breaking out again. What I object to is more philosophical–the notion that warlike actions can put an end to war. If that society hasn't got the ability to maintain peace through dialogue, if they're still resorting to convenient violence to end their problems, what's going to happen when that peace is truly challenged? When they are full-fledged members of the Federation? What happens when the society discovers the actions of their leaders? This show doesn't address these questions head-on, but I thought of them as I watched, and think they are questions worth raising. The episode definitely piled on the emergencies–O'Brien contracts the disease, the station is convinced the landing party is dead, the T'Lani are coming–but in typical DS9 fashion the emergencies do more to highlight the episode's true issues.

Where the show becomes complex is in its portrayal of relationships, particularly marriage. Recently Keiko armed her husband in the Japanese manner (perhaps giving a clue as to why this normally progressive woman fell in love with someone who seems so traditional, by-the-book and even conservative: upbringing accounts for so much.) In this episode her faith that she knows her husband well leads the Federation to discover five missing seconds and (subsequently) the entire T'Lani subterfuge, and Sisko to both Bashir and O'Brien in time, despite being convinced that both crew members are dead. Bashir and O'Brien open up to each other. O'Brien and Bashir's faith in Sisko lead them to fight to stay alive until the very last possible moment. It felt like a very personal episode, despite being off-station and under threat of death.

The final escape is a neat reversal: DS9 crew gives exactly what they received, convincing the T'Lani they'd been killed long enough for Sisko's team to pull off a bait and switch. I'm not sure if the T'Lani hate or respect Sisko more for doing what he was able to do. The final moment was hilarious, too–but I'm not sure it "matters" in one way. Keiko might have gotten the specifics of O'Brien's coffee habits wrong. Husbands and wives are good at picking up subliminal messages though, and something seemed off enough about the video clip of her husband's death to make her go see Sisko. Whatever specific thing she attributed her sense to isn't important, and Sisko was wise to listen to her hunch.

Bits and Pieces

One illogical moment: destroying weapons is all very well, but aren't they also destroying information about ending the weapons?

Dax and Bashir have really gotten close, haven't they? He's giving her personal diaries. I wonder if Dax looks anything like Bashir's ballerina.

O'Brien works well with Bashir, but continuity: he still hates the talking. (Unless, of course, Keiko's doing it.)

I'm feeling that if episodes like these are going to work, then Dax and Bashir need to be established as not just genius scientists but genius scientists without peer and possibly responsible for supervising work in one particular sector. It feels at times as if writers from The Next Generation were ported over to Deep Space Nine and haven't figured out that it's a station, not a ship. Peacekeeping scientific activities, however, work well with the notion that the top scientists stationed at DS9 would be called in. In health terms the mobile and stationary arms of the Federation have different roles: Picard's about prevention. Sisko's about maintenance.

Molly's mug is so freaking cute!


O'Brien: Wait.
E'Tyshra: Let him speak.
O'Brien: Help me up. I want to die on my feet.
Bashir: I'm sorry I didn't get us home, Chief.
O'Brien: You did your best. It's been an honour serving with you.
Bashir: Why thank you, Chief. That means a lot.

O'Brien: You were wrong, you know, about marriage.
Bashir: Whatever you say, Chief.
O'Brien: Listen to me, Julian. You're always talking about adventure. Ha, adventure! Marriage is the greatest adventure of them all. It's filled with pitfalls and setbacks and mistakes, but it's a journey worth taking because you take it together. I know Keiko's been unhappy about us coming to the station. We still argue about it. But that's all right, because at the end of the day, we both know we love each other.


This is a fun, well-written episode which would actually be a great introduction to the DS9 crew, if you can't get ahold of 'Emissary' (except for Odo, who has two lines, and Kira, whose only role in this episode is to talk to Dax about a man and yell at Quark, thus validating the criticisms underlying the Bechdel test.) I'll give it three out of four mysterious alien goo biowarfare thingies.


Kyle McKee said...

I just wanted to check... is there going to be any more DS9 reviews?

JRS said...

Hi! It's very cool you're checking in. While the retro reviews have gone on the back burner so I can focus on reviewing new episodes of Gotham and Flash, we have only slowed down, not stopped! Expect a review of "Whispers", the next DS9 episode, to appear by this weekend, and more coming soon.