Written by Morgan Gendel and Robert Hewitt Wolfe & Michael Piller
Directed by Paul Lynch
Season 1, Episode 8
Production episode 40511-409
Original air date: February 21, 1993
Station log: Kira and Bashir are returning from a medical mission in a runabout. Kira makes the mistake of complimenting Bashir on his work, which leads to Bashir saying he can’t hear Kira over the sound of how awesome he is. Kira’s snotty reply is cut off by a distress call. They respond to it and find a woman unconscious. Bashir revives her; she says that the pilot’s dead. She’s transporting a prisoner, who sabotaged the ship. Bashir tries to treat him, but he dies—after grabbing Bashir’s throat and saying, “Make me live.”
They return to Deep Space 9, where Bashir treats the woman, who identifies herself as Ty Kajada from Kobliad security, and the dead prisoner as Rao Vantika. She insists on checking the corpse, as Vantika has faked his own death more than once. Even after examining the body herself, she then stabs it in the heart, just to be sure. She’s been chasing him for twenty years, and she is cynical to say the least.
In the bar, Quark flirts with Dax as he gives her a drink to the disdain of Odo, who makes sure to mention that he knows about a duridium shipment, which Quark claims to know nothing about. As Odo leaves, he’s followed by Lieutenant Primmin from Starfleet security, who is confused as to why Odo was so forthright with a known black marketer. Odo tries to get rid of Primmin, who insists on going over the security arrangements for that duridium shipment.
Bashir reports on his autopsy, which confirms that Vantika is all dead, not just mostly dead. He was coming to DS9 to hijack a duridium shipment—the Kobliad need duridium to help prolong their lives.
Primmin reports to ops and meets with Sisko. He speaks dismissively about Odo, saying that securing the duridium shipment is over his head, and Sisko slaps him down pretty quickly, and then instructs him and Odo to both talk with Kajada about the hijacking plot. Vanitka may have associates on the station.
To his credit, Primmin apologizes when he meets with Odo. They’re about to go over his security plans, but the database is inaccessible. The computer’s active memory has been purged, which Kajada smugly announces is Vantika’s MO. She’s convinced he’s still alive. Bashir, having performed an autopsy, is a bit skeptical. Kajada describes how he’d access the computer (a subspace shunt through a minor system), and Dax finds one at a temperature control. Odo and Primmin both call security at the same time, to each other’s mutual annoyance, and a team is sent to that control.
Kajada remains convinced that it’s Vantika, as he’s spent decades prolonging his life through transplants, cryogenics, drugs, and more. Sisko thinks it more likely that it’s an accomplice, but is willing to at least consider the possibility that it’s Vantika, at least until the results of Bashir’s DNA scan come in.
Odo offers Sisko his resignation, which Sisko doesn’t accept. Sisko explains that Odo is needed here, as he knows the station better than anyone, but Starfleet does need to have a security presence to protect its own interests. However, Odo is placated by Sisko assuring him that in joint operations, Odo is the one in charge.
Dax reports that the cargo bay in Kajada’s ship was broken into since it was docked. She finds material in Vantika’s quarters on the subject of synaptic pattern displacement—basically placing his consciousness in someone else’s mind. Dax theorizes—backed by Bashir—that Vantika may have transferred his consciousness into Kajada without her knowing.
Quark is assaulted by a gloved, whispering figure who doesn’t show his face to Quark, asking about the duridium shipment. Quark says the arrangements were made, but Quark thought he was dead. “Almost” is the response.
Sisko agrees to keep Kajada out of the specifics of the security for the shipment, which infuriates her. She goes to Odo who explains that only Sisko, Kira, Primmin, and Odo himself are cleared to have access to any data on the shipment.
Kajada spies on a meeting between Quark and a mercenary named Durg—then falls from the balcony to the floor. Bashir treats her; Quark insists he was alone in the bar when she fell. Meanwhile, Dax finds evidence that Vantika stored a generator in his fingernail that could’ve been used to transfer his consciousness into someone he touched before dying. She then goes to the infirmary to tell Bashir about it—but he’s gone, having left his combadge behind.
Quark brings Durg and his aides to a runabout, passage on which was arranged by their employer. They enter a runabout pad to find Bashir—or, rather, Vantika inside Bashir’s head. He transferred his consciousness there when he tried to choke the doctor earlier.
Primmin, taking a cue from Odo’s earlier deduction of Vantika’s MO—hit the big system in order to get access to the little system—finds another subspace shunt, this one in a waste extraction system that, when set off, would shut the whole station down for an hour, giving Vantika enough time to steal the freighter with the duridium.
Said freighter comes through the wormhole as scheduled. The Rio Grande goes to meet it, to everyone’s surprise. Even more surprising is that the runabout launch was authorized by Bashir.
Durg and his aides beam over to the freighter and kill the bridge crew, at which point Vantika beams over. The two aides go to secure the rest of the ship—which is then snared by a tractor beam. Vantika is pissed, as the station should’ve been shut down by now. He contacts the station and threatens to destroy the ship—killing Bashir—if they don’t let him go.
Dax comes up with a technobabble solution to disrupt Vantika’s neural pathways in Bashir’s brain. Sisko stalls while she creates it, but Vantika doesn’t go for it, and orders Durg to go to warp. Durg refuses, not wanting to die, and so Vantika kills him. That delays things enough for Dax to do her thing. The disruption lasts long enough for Bashir to lower shields, allowing Primmin to beam him back. Then Sisko stuns him.
Dax beams the glial cells out of Bashir and into a containment unit, which Kajada takes custody of and then disintegrates with her weapon.
Can’t we just reverse the polarity?: Electrically charged glial cells! Subspace shunts! Electromagnetic pulses! Mini-transmitters hidden in fingernails! Face front, true technobabble believers, this one has it all!
The Sisko is of Bajor: Sisko’s tearing down of Primmin’s dismissal of Odo is truly magnificent, as is his placation of Odo a few scenes later. I also like how casually he stuns Bashir after he beams back and it’s clear that Vantika’s taking back over.
Rules of Acquisition: Quark cleans the bar, not in order to be clean, but to find valuable items that people might have dropped. He also puts Durg together with Vantika.
Keep your ears open: “You’re deluding yourself.”
“There’s nothing wrong with a good delusion. I sell them upstairs to dozens of people every day.”
Odo dismissing Quark’s infatuation with Dax, and Quark defending it.
Welcome aboard: Julie Caitlin Brown—credited without her first name—makes her first Trek appearance as Kajada. She’ll return in TNG’s “Gambit” two-parter as Vekor. James Lashly makes the first of two appearances as Lieutenant Primmin, a role that would appear to be set up to be recurring, but which never materializes as such; he previously appeared in TNG’s “Brothers” as Ensign Kopf. Christopher Collins makes his third of four Trek appearances as Durg, a Markalian; he’ll be back as a different Markalian in “Blood Oath,” and he previously appeared on TNG as Captain Kargan, a Klingon, in “A Matter of Honor” and Grebnedlog, a Pakled, in “Samaritan Snare.”
Trivial matters: Bashir’s reference to synaptic pattern displacement never being done by a non-Vulcan is a necessary caveat, since that’s pretty much what Spock did to McCoy in The Wrath of Khan and The Search for Spock.
Primmin was introduced to add some conflict with Odo, but the character only made it through two episodes. In the third season, the recurring character of Eddington, another Starfleet security officer played by Kenneth Marshall, will be added, and Odo’s response to him will be almost exactly the same, down to offering a resignation that Sisko refuses.
Morgan Gendel’s original pitch had Vantika possessing Kajada, so that she was, in essence, pursuing herself.
Walk with the Prophets: “Don’t patronize me, Commander!” Like “Babel,” this feels like a TNG Technobabble Special transplanted to DS9, but this one works much less well. Though, as with “Babel,” what does make it appealing is the unique DS9 element, in this case the conflict between Odo and Primmin. Otherwise, it’s just a paint-by-numbers episode with a cutesy SF twist.
What might have elevated the episode are some strong performances, but instead we get a relentlessly mediocre turn by Caitlin Brown, who doesn’t quite sell Kajada’s obsession (she needs to be Inspector Javert, or at least Lieutenant Gerard), and a truly wretched performance by Siddig el-Fadil. His awkward pauses and over-enunciation as Vantika are just awful, ditto his agonized cry when he’s hit with the EMP. Adding insult to the injury is his smug self-congratulation in the runabout at the top of the episode, leading Kira and the audience to all want to strangle him. The actor is usually better than this, and indeed will continue to be going forward, but man is he awful here.
I wish more had been done with the Primmin-Odo conflict, though at least they’d take another shot at it with Eddington down the road. But that’s the only compelling element of a very run-of-the-mill plot with some really crap acting.
Warp factor rating: 2
Keith R.A. DeCandido will be a guest at Balticon 47 this weekend in Hunt Valley, Maryland, just north of Baltimore. Sunday night at 7pm will be the official launch of his short story collection Tales from Dragon Precinct at Frankie & Vinnie’s (along with several other new titles from Dark Quest Books). Here’s the rest of Keith’s schedule for the weekend.