Written by Morgan Gendel
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
Season 2, Episode 13
Production episode 40512-433
Original air date: January 30, 1994
Station log: The T’Lani and the Kellerun have recently ended a lengthy war, probably fighting over which of them had a sillier hairstyle. Both sides used biological weapons called harvesters, and they’ve asked for Starfleet assistance in destroying those weapons once and for all. O’Brien and Bashir have been ordered to provide that assistance. It’s taken a week to find the right radiation sequence, but Bashir finally finds it, while O’Brien purges all T’Lani and Kellerun databanks of any information about the harvesters. As they’re about to destroy the last of the weapons, two Kellerun soldiers enter the lab and kill everyone except for Bashir and O’Brien, who manage to overpower the soldiers. Communications with the Ganges have been jammed, so they beam down to the surface of T’Lani III, which was wiped out by harvesters during the war. However, in the firefight, the last of the harvesters is fired upon by one of the weapons, and a drop hits O’Brien’s arm.
Ambassadors Sharat of the Kellerun and E’Tyshra of the T’Lani come to Deep Space 9 to inform Sisko that O’Brien and Bashir, along with the T’Lani science team, are dead. They also claim it was a security device that O’Brien accidentally activated, and they provide Sisko with security footage of the accident occurring. Sisko, Kira, Dax, and Odo watch it. The words are all ones we’ve heard before, but the placing of the people is wrong. Then O’Brien mentions a security program, then there’s a pulse of light, and everyone’s gone. Odo says he’s heard of devices like that, that can vaporize anyone who doesn’t enter the proper code. Sisko tells Dax to request new officers from Starfleet, and Kira to inform the crew that there’ll be a memorial service. He goes to tell Keiko himself, and she immediately wishes to know exactly what happened; Sisko promises to send her the security footage.
On T’Lani III, Bashir and O’Brien move about the ruins. They find some food and medical supplies, and speculate as to why the Kellerun broke the treaty, and wondering why they waited until the harvesters were destroyed before attacking. O’Brien also finds a deactivated comm unit. He works to repair it so they can contact the T’Lani. They talk about various and sundry things, from the party they’re missing on T’Lani Prime to marriage. When O’Brien puts a blanket on, Bashir’s doctor sense tingles, and he examines O’Brien to discover that he’s been infected. As time goes on, his vision starts to blur, and Bashir offers to take over, with O’Brien talking him through it.
Dax and Kira talk about Bashir for a bit, and Quark brings them free drinks to toast the pair of them. Later, Keiko goes to see Sisko: she believes the footage has been altered, as it shows O’Brien drinking a mug of coffee at 1500 hours—he never drinks coffee in the late afternoon, it keeps him up all night. Sisko and Dax decide to head to T’Lani to retrieve the Ganges, and Sisko promises to find out why the recording was tampered with.
O’Brien’s legs stop working, but he’s able to help Bashir get the communications console up and running, and sends a signal to the T’Lani.
Sisko and Dax arrive at T’Lani III. Sisko questions E’Tyshra about the possibility of Sharat altering the data clip of the security feed, while Dax discovers that a request for transport was erased from the Ganges computer—that request was made three minutes after O’Brien and Bashir were supposedly vaporized.
The T’Lani arrive—along with the Kellerun. It turns out that the soldiers were carrying out the joint orders of both E’Tyshra and Sharat. The final stage of destroying the harvesters was to kill anyone who might have intimate knowledge of how they worked, which meant the science team and Bashir and O’Brien. But before they can be killed, Dax beams them up to the Ganges.
The Ganges beats a hasty retreat, with the T’Lani cruiser following. The two ambassadors insist that Bashir and O’Brien be turned over. Sisko is less than impressed, and points out that they just declared war on the Federation. E’Tyshra orders the runabout destroyed, and then they go back to get the other one that was left behind—but it’s gone. Turns out that Sisko, Dax, Bashir, and O’Brien beamed to the other runabout and piloted the Ganges by remote.
O’Brien recovers in the infirmary. Keiko gives him a mug that Molly made for him, and he says he’d love a cup of coffee in it.
“Miles, you never have coffee in the afternoon!”
“Sure, I do!”
And fade to black….
Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Apparently, muons are the key to neutralizing the harvesters. Because, y’know, science.
The Sisko is of Bajor: To his credit, Sisko trusts Keiko’s judgment regarding O’Brien implicitly, and never once questions her belief that the recording was tampered with. (Which, indeed, it was, albeit not for the reasons Keiko initially thought…)
The slug in your belly: Bashir lent Dax his medical school diaries in the hopes that she’d understand him better. She never got around to reading them.
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: O’Brien accuses Bashir of only thinking about women—Bashir admits that he does think about them a lot. He tells O’Brien about his first love, a dancer named Palis Delon, but he chose his Starfleet career over her; he hasn’t spoken to her since he left Earth.
Rules of Acquisition: Quark eulogizes Bashir and O’Brien the best way he knows how: he calls them great customers, quoting the 57th Rule: “Good customers are as rare as latinum—treasure them.”
Keep your ears open: “It was hell! You can see for yourself, the man never stops talking!”
O’Brien describing being stuck in a room with Bashir for a day to Keiko.
Welcome aboard: Rosalind Chao is back as Keiko, and Larry Cedar, Peter White, and Darleen Carr all have incredibly unfortunate haircuts as various T’Lani and Kelleruns. Amusingly, this is the first of three roles for Cedar on Trek, the others being on Voyager’s “Alliances” and Enterprise’s “Marauders,” and in all three he has terrible hair.
Trivial matters: The Ganges is the second runabout to bite the dust, after the Yangtzee Kiang bought it back in “Battle Lines.”
Kira and Dax’s talk in Quark’s about Bashir is blocked and directed the same way as Riker and Data’s talk in Ten-Forward about Marla Aster in TNG’s “The Bonding,” also directed by Winrich Kolbe.
This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Hairstyling, which is just hilarious on every possible level.
Walk with the Prophets: “Not quite. Close.” Until the climax, this is actually rather a good episode (absurd hairdos notwithstanding), the biggest step forward in the ongoing Bashir-O’Brien bromance as they bond over past and present relationships and the differences between career officers and enlisted personnel, and so on. Colm Meaney and Siddig el-Fadil are at their best here, playing magnificently off each other and revealing a great deal about each of their characters. So many great bits, from O’Brien’s impersonation of Bashir when prompting him to talk about Palis to Bashir putting his foot in his mouth regarding the O’Brien marital strife to “I wanna die on m’feet!” And the very ending is brilliantly hilarious.
Still, the folks-grieving-back-home well is one that we’ve dipped into before, on TNG in “The Most Toys” and “The Next Phase,” and it’s just a little too perfunctory. Every beat back at the station is utterly predictable.
And then the whole thing falls totally apart after Sisko and Dax rescue O’Brien and Bashir. It’s a nice twist that what they thought was the Kellerun breaking the cease-fire turned out to be the T’Lani and Kellerun working together to eliminate the last vestiges of the harvesters. But while I have no trouble accepting that Sharat and E’Tyshra would alter security footage to cover up murder, I find it impossible to credit that they’d fire on a starship belonging to one of the superpowers of the quadrant and expect there not to be consequences. I especially love them asking Sisko to turn Bashir and O’Brien over to them as if that was even a reasonable possibility. They lose all credibility as antagonists (what little they had, given those hairstyles) and just turn into idiots at that point. It cuts the episode off at the knees.
Warp factor rating: 6
Keith R.A. DeCandido’s latest book is Ragnarok and Roll: Tales of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet, a collection of urban fantasy short stories taking place in Key West, Florida. One of the stories is the three-part “Cayo Hueso,” all three parts of which will be available for 99 cents each. Part 1: “A Farewell to Cats” (Nook | Kindle) and Part 2: “The Buck Stops Here” (Nook | Kindle) are available now, with Part 3 to come next week. You can read an excerpt from “Undine the Boardwalk” on this site. Folks in the New York area are invited to a reading/signing tonight at Singularity & Co. in Brooklyn at 7pm. Win a free autographed copy of the book by commenting on this post here on Tor.com.