Star Trek Deep Space Nine: The Jem'Hadar

Captain Keogh looking determinedly out from the bridge.
This has turned into some science project, huh, Jake?

Sisko, after seeing O'Brien have a completely unproblematic vacation, decides to take one with his son. And boy, what a problem he has.

It was adorable watching Sisko pull out Jake's ideas about his science project and get him set up for excitement about a trip to the Gamma Quadrant. These two haven't had anywhere near enough time this season. Sisko's clearly thrilled about the trip as well – until Nog joins in. Which just happens to be at the same time Quark has a newfangled idea. So they all go camping together. And all of this is a simple sitcom setup plot for an episode which makes the last two entire seasons look like... a simple setup for this series.

The Dominion are a powerful federation of races in the Gamma Quadrant – one to which we were introduced in "Rules of Acquisition," earlier this season. Here, they are revealed as also containing the Founders and the Jem'Hadar, whom we meet personally, and that they are opposed to whatever race Eris is. The Jem'Hadar are a race of powerful warriors, looking like an even grayer and darker version of the Cardassians. While camping out under the stars and accidentally setting themselves afire, Sisko and Quark are run into by Eris, who is fleeing from a group of these warriors – who phase in out of invisibility around her and the team, while Jake and Nog are out in the woods. And a quiet little camping episode blows up into something which places the Federation itself in danger.

The storyline splits into three threads here; in one, Sisko and Quark are taken with Eris back to the Dominion area, where they're left imprisoned and have to figure out a way to escape. In another, Jake and Nog show impressive skills and teamwork (mostly Jake, but more on that later) while looking for their missing parental units. And the third shows the DS9 crew dealing with warnings from the Jem'Hadar and the addition of a new variable with Captain Keogh and the Odyssey, who are there to help.

I found it terrifying when Quark pulled in one of the Jem'Hadar guards and it became clear exactly how much the Dominion know about the Federation. (Hint, the Federation know nothing about the Dominion, and the Dominion know the opposite.) I was truly in awe of the Jem'Hadar – for a race out of nowhere, they were scary, unstoppable, and effective. Their knowledge was detailed and I saw Jake's life flashing before Sisko's eyes as the guard kept talking. It was like all that cozy father-son stuff in the beginning just showed us how much the Federation has to lose.

I also found that initial visit of the Jem'Hadar 'guard' to Deep Space Nine equally terrifying. They draw the line in the sand. They prove the complete ineffectiveness of all Federation weapons. They deliver one of the worst events of the series so far: New Bajor is taken over or destroyed. Kira must be running on autopilot by the end: the present and the future of Bajor depends on that wormhole and that colony, and has just been completely stepped on.

I was also horrified when the Odyssey was destroyed. I think they used a ship that looked so much like the Enterprise on purpose.


I admit to being somewhat taken in by Eris, which was silly, because of the name: she's the Goddess of Discord and Strife, and this show is all literary and connotative. Quark was really clever, figuring out and using the gun, and back on DS9, Quark is the one who discovers that the 'device' which imprisoned Eris and inhibited her telepathic powers was a fake, and she's actually a plant. When spooked, Eris teleports out to a mysterious location, which just adds to the whole mystery and terror of the Jem'Hadar.

So now the Dominion are actively fighting back against what they see as an intrusion, an entire colony is destroyed or enslaved, several ships including Odyssey are gone... and the Federation has to get ready.

Ethics and Morality

Quark makes two major points in this episode – one point about the superiority of humans and one point about the superiority of Ferengi.

On the one hand, he points out how humans distance themselves from Ferengi, which is true – we've seen Vulcan-human hybrids, Klingon-human, but have we ever seen a Ferengi-Human?

On the other hand, he points out that the Ferengi might be slimy, but that's as far as they go; apparently, Ferengi morality prohibits slaves and concentration camps. Humans might be morally superior now, but Ferengi have never sunk to the depths in which humans have wallowed. I love Quark; he always puts things into completely different perspective.

What's interesting is how Jake and Rom embody this discussion. We might see Jake as more heroic, but if you look back at what Nog's actually said, they basically ended up following Nog's first plan with Jake's ingenuity, getting back to the runabout and going to the station for help. Bravery is more impressive, but go for cowardice and laziness if you want efficiency every time...

More to the point, he's convincing enough to make me think Quark just may have a point, and one thing about this series is how it shows the Federation isn't as perfect as it's been made out to be. On the other hand, how many times have his greed and cowardice imperiled the DS9 crew?

Bits and Pieces

The purple barrier technology is basically completely invisible but really effective special effects, isn't it?

There seems to be an argument in the Dominion about the Founders: are they real or are they a myth?

The Dominion control trade in the Gamma Quadrant. It makes sense that they'd be pissed at the intrusion of New Bajor and the drain on resources out of the Quadrant. If their technology wasn't so advanced, I think the first contact might have been peaceful, but this episode shows the Federation weapons, containment fields and even tractor beams are fairly ineffective, so it's probably going to be much easier for the Dominion to just take.

The Ferengi have been trying to open up trade for a year – they may have some information?

Jake is really impressive when it comes to retooling technology.

Odyssey completely destroyed. But the DS9 crew basically all survive, and ironically given the way Captain Keogh said they had no combat experience.

We've spent two seasons building up Bajor. We just saw them elect a new Kai. All the excitement about the new colony. And now instead of a center for trade and development, they're going to become, once again, the center for war. I feel horrible for them, but see what I mean about two seasons being setup for this moment?

Quotables

Nog: Uncle Quark, what are you doing here?
Quark: What does it look like? I'm going with you.
Sisko: Since when?
Quark: Really, Commander. You don't expect my nephew to go all the way to the Gamma Quadrant without proper supervision? No offence. Some of my best friends are humans. But my brother Rom isn't as liberal as I am. Let's face it, he's never been comfortable about Nog's friendship with your son.
Sisko: You can tell Rom not to worry. I'll take good care of the boy. And I promise I won't try to corrupt him with my human values.
Quark: I know that, but Rom is convinced all humans look down on Ferengi, and by allowing me to come on this trip you can help prove him wrong. He is wrong, isn't he?

Quark: I don't see what's so pretty about it.
Nog: I think they mean the trees and stuff.
Sisko: Quark, this is as close to paradise as you're going to get. All you need to do is allow yourself to see it.
Quark: I can tell you what I see in two words. Exploitable resources.
Sisko: I suppose you want to cut down all these trees and start strip mining the entire planet.
Quark: As a wise man once wrote, "Nature decays, but latinum lasts forever."

Sisko: If the Founders are the ones who give the orders, I want to meet them.
Talak'talan: Those aren't my orders.
Eris: He can't take you to the Founders because they don't exist. They're a myth.
Talak'talan: The Founders exist. They created the Dominion.
Sisko: And the Jem'Hadar are their servants?
Talak'talan: A Ferengi and a human. I was hoping the first race I'd meet from the other side of the anomaly would be the Klingons.

Talak'talan: I'm Third Talak'Talan of the Jem'Hadar. I'm here to inform you that your commander has been detained for questioning by the Dominion.
Kira: Detained? For how long?
Talak'talan: Indefinitely. Commander Sisko will serve as an example of what happens to anyone who interferes with the Dominion.
Kira: What kind of interference are you talking about?
Talak'talan: Coming through the anomaly is interference enough. Unless you wish to continue to offend the Dominion, I suggest you stay on your side of the galaxy.
Dax: You're making a mistake if you think that detaining Commander Sisko will stop us from exploring the Gamma Quadrant.
Talak'talan: We anticipated that response.

Overall

I'm stoked for season three. Five out of five starships on fire.

1 comment:

Victoria Grossack said...

Good catch on Eris! Yes, it was bold, and exciting, for DS9 to introduce so many races from the Dominion at once.