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Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Call To Arms

Absolutely not.

With the Dominion sending fleet after fleet of ships through the wormhole to the Alpha Quadrant, Starfleet – and Sisko – become desperate to find ways to prevent the Dominion rise to power.

Rom and Leeta are getting married! Garak's designing a special gown, and Sisko's performing the wedding. It's a bright spot in a furtive opening as the crew and station guests watch dozens of Dominion ships pouring through the wormhole. Quark, ever the optimist, is even ordering Cardassian food. Even Jake has joined Starfleet News Service in order to report on the nonaggression pacts various races are signing with the Dominion; it's when the Romulans too come into play that Sisko – and the Federation – decide something must be done.

Relationships are used as a second note, if not quite a full secondary plot, throughout this season cliffhanger as we wait, anxious, for the hammer to fall. The script doesn't miss a beat in counterpointing the fortunes of war with the lists of love. Both the Federation and Rom are waking up to potential future challenges at the same time. It's lovely, if almost too pat, how his worry that Leeta might turn out like her mother winds up leading to the idea that literally fuels the solution to the Dominion problem – a self-replicating minefield – with minefield another metaphor also applied often to marriage!

The challenge for our crew is developing solutions with no reinforcements and only their ingenuity. Starfleet has nothing to send – for reasons Starfleet is keeping private. Orders, the stone-face, no argument kind, are to deploy the new, self-replicating, cloaked, swarming minefield using the Defiant while its shields are down and with the threat of an imminent Dominion attack. Odo's so nervous about this that he wants to block all communications to prevent any information leaking; with Kira, however, he wants to use this as an opportunity to drop all walls and do the exact opposite, and successfully. The genuine smile shared by these two goes beyond performance. The sense of fighting an unstoppable force alone gets worse when Sisko tells Kira how the way that the Federation and Bajor can continue to have an alliance is for them to be apart; he wants her to tell Bajor's leaders that they must agree to the nonagression pact with the Federation. It will keep Bajor safe so that they can have a future.

The ripples of this decision, and the pressure of the coming conflict, split the station. Rom and Leeta's marriage doesn't even get five minutes of kissing before they have to split up; all Bajoran nonessential personnel are heading back to the planet. The Dominion lay down the law, and Sisko reads between the lines enough to know they have less than twenty four hours left.

The Dominion take over the station, but not without passionate resistance. Martok and the Defiant mine team perform heroically, but the station can't resist the Dominion/Cardassian fleet, and the station's population is split once more when the Federation has to leave Deep Space Nine. Dax finally gives into Worf's desire for a traditional marriage–as long as he makes it back; I love the energy between these two, and this scene is very much going-to-the-wars come-back-with-your-shield-or-on-it stuff.

At the end of the episode the political power has traded hands, but not truly gotten out of balance. The Federation has cut off the Dominion from reinforcements from the Gamma Quadrant. The Dominion have taken over Deep Space Nine, but Sisko has chess-played them into being unable to harm Bajor, and the Cardassians don't want to harm the station. He's on the Defiant joining a huge parade of Federation ships, ready to retake the station. And those on board the station - basically Kira and some Bajoran crew members, Odo, and Quark's staff (and Morn) - are essentially safe. Sisko's even, quite cheekily, left his baseball behind on his desk to taunt Dukat.

There's just one big problem with this elaborate chess game.

Jake, in order to get a story for the Starfleet News Service, the son of a Federation Captain and Bajor's Emissary, has stayed on Deep Space Nine.

Fleet Thoughts

Sisko really does look honored.

Love seeing Sisko cooking for Jake. Jake's writing articles about Sisko's position on the war. I love Jake pursuing his writing career and the evolution of his work and having this become so naturally a major plot line was awesome – if somewhat unbelievable, wouldn't they have had a manifest and been checking off names? Did Jake leave his communicator on Defiant or something similarly sketchy?

Rom. He spoke and acted like a hero in this episode, and the look Leeta gives him might be soppy but it's perfect.

Gul Dukat's excitement and gloating at re-entering Deep Space Nine is palpable and evil. I'm glad Garak sent Ziyal back to the surface.

Heard on the Holodeck

Kira: Odo has feelings for me.
Dax: What kind of feelings?
Kira: The kind that aren't easy to talk about.
Dax: Since when?
Kira: Since I don't know. Years. I just found out about it last month.
Dax: That explains a lot.
Kira: It does?
Dax: Not really. It just seemed like the right thing to say. I had no idea.

Jake: I'm now an official correspondent for the Starfleet News Service.
Sisko: What about your novel?
Jake: I'm not giving up on it. But this way I get to see my work in print.
Sisko: And apparently I get to see everything I say in print too.
Jake: You're a public figure, Dad. You're the Captain of the most important space station in the entire Federation. You're news.
Sisko: Don't remind me. I guess I can't stop you from doing your job.
Jake: Can I quote you on that?

Rom: But what if Leeta turns out to be just like Nog's mother? What if I can't make her happy? What if this is the biggest mistake of my life? What if–
O’Brien: Rom.
Rom: Self-replication. That's the only answer.
Dax: Self-replication?
Rom: If the mines are going to be small, we'll need a lot of them. And we'll need a way to replace them quickly if the Jem'Hadar try to blast their way through. And, uh-oh. I forgot to request new quarters. Mine are too small. Where are Leeta and I going to live?

Quark: This is not your fight.
Rom: It's not your fight either, but I don't see you leaving.
Quark: I have to look out for my bar.
Rom: And I have to look out for you.
Quark: Me?
Rom: You're my brother. Whatever happens, we belong together.
Quark: Well, like I said, you're an idiot.

Overall

The slow tension of waiting for the Dominion to finally arrive built throughout this episode to a climactic burst of action. Nothing felt as if it were given short shrift. We had brief moments with some characters, yes, but those moments were illuminating tableaux that paid off months of buildup. Odo and Kira's moment works because of the strength of a relationship developed over six years. Sisko's speech works because we've seen him build the relationship he now has with the people of Bajor and Deep Space Nine itself. I'm just terrified for Jake, because it looks like all of Sisko's plotting might boil down to the sacrifice of his own son. All in all, this kind of episode is exactly why I love Deep Space Nine.

Five out of five secret self-replicating marriage minefields.

3 comments:

Patrick said...

Deep Space Nine always had strong season finales. They never ended on a traditional "To Be Continued..." kind of cliffhanger, but nearly all of their season finales left you with at least one moment or reveal that made you excited to see where the story would go next year. Season Five's finale was no exception. And while Captain Sisko had a lot of good speeches over the course of the series, the farewell he gave at the end of the episode, standing in front of the temple, is one of his best.

JRS said...

OMIGOD Patrick yes! Avery Brooks outdid himself with that speech.

Victoria Grossack said...

This is such a great episode. In so many other episodes of TV, you go "this and this" happened. For "Call to Arms" you would need about ten "thisses" and you still wouldn't be done. I'm always amazed they managed to fit everything into the time slot. No need for slow music as filler in this episode.

I like how this continues something we saw earlier, in "Rapture," when Sisko axed Bajor joining the Federation. And I love how Quark kisses the back of Rom's head after calling him an idiot.