Star Trek Deep Space Nine: To the Death

You'd better have a look at this.

When the Jem'Hadar conduct an effective tactical strike on Deep Space Nine, Sisko is out for revenge. As the situation bursts into fractal complexity, however, what response will Sisko raise in the face of overwhelming odds?

I sometimes wonder what this show would be like if the Defiant had its own command crew instead of poaching the Deep Space Nine crew. The setup for this episode was deft – the crew's coming back from expelling raiders etc. – but in several episodes this season the crew has left, left, left, and now the station is being damaged. Clearly our command cast is getting stretched thin; Worf and O'Brien even have a discussion about it. The opening view of DS9 in trouble – pylon shattered; Quark looking worried; various victims including Kira – was very well done. Sisko's response is to follow the Jem'Hadar with the Defiant. I'm a little unsure about this decision. If your command was damaged that badly would you personally go, or delegate Worf? Of course, with Kira bound to the ship, maybe that makes the decision easier.

On the mission to revenge the fallen, Sisko and crew encounter... a second Jem'Hadar ship, a warship, which was apparently outgunned by a transport ship.

(If my use of the word 'apparently' tells you I'm not entirely convinced – you're right.)

On the ship is our old friend, master manipulator Weyoun, and a small crew of Jem'Hadar. Our original revenge mission is transformed into something else: prevent the Jem'Hadar breaking loose from the Founders and using Iconian technology from taking over the Universe. Again, this is coming from Weyoun, and I'm not entirely convinced, because the whole take over the universe stuff seems to me overshadowed by the knowledge of dissension in the ranks. Weyoun offers the wonders of the world to Sisko, and slightly different wonders to Odo, but in the end the plot crystallizes: Sisko's team has to work with the race they have just determined to attack for harming Deep Space Nine.

This leads us to some scenes which give us deeper insight into the Jem'Hadar. They rarely live 30 years. They have no females, and no sleep, and no sex. They are bred to be the perfect soldier and live lives governed by force and necessity. When they go into war they call themselves dead and earn the right to live by winning. And Sisko and crew have to train and go into battle with this contingent of the dead in order to save the Universe. There's a lot of fantastic scenes in the process – some of my favorite are listed below. Most of the scenes seem to show how the Jem'Hadar are curious about humans and how they react, scornful of their emotions but surprised by their ability to fight. In the end, they destroy another Iconian portal... and the Jem'Hadar shoot Weyoun for questioning their loyalty. And I'm left with questions, many more questions than answers.

  • Was the whole thing really a fight between the Jem'Hadar and the Vorta over who would be closer to the Founders?
  • Was this really a reconnaissance mission for the Jem'Hadar to learn more about the humans?
  • Did the Dominion really need help from the Federation to destroy that portal? They've had the edge militarily for a while.
  • Or was this really about Weyoun carrying a message from the Founders to Odo, trying to get Odo to return, with the rest of it being extra fluff? I sometimes wonder how having a Founder might be protecting Deep Space Nine.
  • Do the Jem'Hadar have a chance at redemption? I think seeing a different way of life impacted them – but the Klingons seem happy with theirs. 

In the end: Sisko's desperation for revenge is tempered by complex politics. Dax and the crew get a much more nuanced view of the Jem'Hadar. Odo is tempted to return to the Founders, but once again gives a very definite No, in a way that makes me think there's a lot more going through Odo's mind than we've seen.

Seen on the Scene

Who else loved the opening scene with Bashir and Worf and the crew? Bashir's changed – the Bashir we originally met wouldn't have turned the whole thing into a sly joke. And the Worf we met many years ago wouldn't have passed it off with a half smile.

Weyoun offering Sisko control of the Federation, and Sisko laughing in response.

Worf's constant fighting with the Jem'Hadar, and their taunts. Wow.

Recorded in the Captions

Dax: Lucky you. So let me get this straight. No food, so sleep, no women. No wonder you're so angry. After thirty or forty years of that, I'd be angry too.
Virak'kara: No Jem'Hadar has ever lived thirty years.
Dax: How old are you?
Virak'kara: I am eight.
Dax: I would've guessed at least fifteen.
Virak'kara: Few Jem'Hadar live that long. If we reach twenty we are considered Honoured Elders. How old are you?
Dax: I stopped counting at three hundred.
Virak'kara: You don't look it.

Omet'iklan: You call that discipline?
Sisko: A dead man can't learn from his mistakes. I don't get the same joy out of killing as you do.
Omet'iklan: You think I enjoyed it? Toman'torax was my Second. He served under me three years. I valued him.
Sisko: You have a funny way of showing it.
Omet'iklan: I did what had to be done, what any First would do. I placed the good of the unit above my personal feelings. Any soldier who cannot follow orders is a danger to his unit and must be eliminated.
Sisko: Mister Worf is not a danger to my command. But if I eliminate him for a simple breach of discipline, then I would be. My men would stop trusting me, and I wouldn't blame them.
Omet'iklan: You are weak. You should die in his place.

Omet'iklan: Wait. I am First Omet'iklan, and I am dead. As of this moment we are all dead. We go into battle to reclaim our lives. This we do gladly, for we are Jem'Hadar. Remember. Victory is life.
Jem'Hadar: Victory is life.
Weyoun: Such a delightful people.
O'Brien: I am Chief Miles Edward O'Brien. I'm very much alive and I intend to stay that way.
Sisko: Amen. Let's get it done.

Overall

I don't think a warship should be outclassed by a transport, so at least some of this seems staged. But other than that the stage, no pun intended, seems open... for a variety of complicated futures. Five out of five need-help warships.

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