“A Time to Stand”
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
Directed by Allan Kroeker
Season 6, Episode 1
Production number 40510-525
Original air date: September 29, 1997
Station log: We get a summary of “Call to Arms,” and then pick up with a huge convoy of Starfleet and Klingon ships that have gotten their asses well and truly kicked. The three months since they abandoned DS9 have been spent in a constant state of defeat—attack, get their asses kicked, regroup. To make matters worse, the Seventh Fleet was massacred at the Tyra system, losing all but 14 of the 112 ships in the fleet to the Dominion. Tensions are high, and morale is in the toilet.
On Terok Nor, Dukat is happy as a pig in poop, as the war is going well for his side. Weyoun is also happy because Bajorans are returning to the station. Dukat and Damar wish to up security because they don’t trust the Bajorans, but Kira wants Odo’s security force reinstated to maintain order on the Promenade—basically the same arrangement they had with the Federation, which is what Weyoun promised. But Dukat refuses to trust the Bajorans, and Weyoun decides to let it rest for now, and they can revisit it later. Kira says she’ll remember he said that.
Once Kira leaves, Weyoun upbraids Dukat, making sure to kick Damar out of the room first. Weyoun isn’t happy that the minefield hasn’t been taken down yet. They need reinforcements and fresh supplies of ketracel-white. Dukat insists he’ll get the minefield down and he has everything under control. Weyoun is dubious.
Kira and Odo meet up in Quark’s. They need to bide their time and keep Bajor out of the war. But Kira is worried about the Federation losing, and she doesn’t trust Dukat. She doesn’t trust Weyoun, either, but at least he’s interested in keeping good relations with Bajor. Quark also points out that, as occupations go, this one isn’t so bad: no labor camps, no dying and miserable Bajorans.
Jake tries to get an interview with Weyoun. But Weyoun refuses because he’s read Jake’s other articles—and withheld their transmission to the Federation, to Jake’s annoyance. But Jake promises to try to be more balanced—like by not referring to the Dominion’s control of Terok Nor as an “occupation”—and Weyoun promises to reconsider the interview at a future date.
The Defiant reports to Starbase 375, where Admiral Ross provides Sisko with a new assignment: to take the Jem’Hadar attack ship they captured and use it to penetrate Dominion space and wipe out the one and only white facility they have in the Alpha Quadrant. They spend the next two weeks learning how the ship operates. It has no chairs, no viewscreen, no food replicators (one wonders what the Vorta eat), and no infirmary (they’re using Bashir’s quarters for a sickbay). The mission includes Sisko, Dax, O’Brien, Nog, Bashir, and Garak, the latter for his knowledge of Cardassian territory—and, as they soon learn, for his ability to use the Dominion headsets, which give Sisko a migraine.
Dukat summons Kira to his office, wondering why in three months they haven’t spent any time together. Kira has no interest in flattering Dukat, but Dukat desperately wants Kira’s approval. He even tries to get her to think they have an intimate relationship—which revolts Kira to no end.
The U.S.S. Centaur discovers the Jem’Hadar ship and fires on them—taking out the communications systems, so they can’t tell Sisko’s old friend Captain Charlie Reynolds that they’re the good guys. Sisko hopes that Reynolds won’t cross the border, but he does, forcing Sisko to drop out of warp and fire back. But the Centaur retreats to Federation space when three more Jem’Hadar ships show up. They have to leave the Centaur to fend for itself while they continue on their mission.
Kira, fed up with Dukat’s gloating, bitches to Odo, who bitches right back that he’s a useless figurehead. He has no security force, no authority—but Kira convinces him to ask for that. Dukat won’t go for it, but he can go over his head to Weyoun, who views Odo as a god. Sure enough, when Odo asks for it, Weyoun gives it unequivocally, and the Vorta shuts Dukat’s objection down. In exchange, Weyoun asks Odo to be part of the ruling council along with him and Dukat. Dukat hates the idea, and Kira isn’t thrilled either, as it validates the Dominion’s occupation. But Odo will have a voice in station policy, and he’ll have Kira backstopping him.
Sisko’s team observes the procedure at the white facility: request fresh supplies, force field goes down, go into position over station, beam down empty canisters, receive full canisters in return, force field goes down again, leave. O’Brien has rigged one of their “empty” canisters with an explosive. They go through the process—but the Dominion won’t lower the force field, so the ship can’t leave, which means they’ll be caught in the explosion. They come up with a way to blow up the shield generator, but before they can implement it, their bomb goes off prematurely. They manage to get away, but the ship is very badly damaged—including no warp drive. Which means it’ll take 17 years to get back to Federation space…
The Sisko is of Bajor: Sisko waits three months to contact his father and tell him that Jake chose to stay behind on the station. Joseph is, to say the least, not pleased about that, nor is he happy to learn that the war is actually going worse than the news service says it is. Sisko says Joseph didn’t raise him to be a liar, and Joseph retorts that he raised him to be a chef, for all the good that did.
Don’t ask my opinion next time: Kira is miserable on Terok Nor, having to take orders from Dukat, try to work with Weyoun, and convince Odo to use his power over Weyoun to their advantage. Even when they get what they want, it doesn’t feel like a victory.
The slug in your belly: Dax’s nifty piloting skills get them away from the station in one piece, albeit a very badly damaged piece.
Preservation of mass and energy is for wimps: Odo doesn’t wish to use his natural authority over Weyoun to his advantage because he’s incredibly uncomfortable with being considered a god, but Kira talks him into it. This restores the Bajoran security force on the station but also puts Odo on the station’s ruling council.
Rules of Acquisition: Quark is pleased because profits are up in the bar, though his attempts to engage the Jem’Hadar in conversation prove problematic, and rather one-sided.
For Cardassia! Dukat almost pleadingly explains to Kira that joining the Dominion was the only way to save Cardassia, which had been reduced to a third-rate power.
Plain, simple: Garak proves invaluable for his knowledge of Cardassia, and his ability to use the headsets without getting a headache. He also takes several opportunities to engage in McCoy-like snark at Bashir’s newly Spock-like tendencies, since the doctor is no longer hiding that he’s genetically enhanced.
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Worf and Dax see each other for the first time in five weeks. Dax jumps into Worf’s arms. Worf, at Martok’s urging (because he apparently hasn’t shut up about it for days), registers a complaint about the order of events at the forthcoming wedding. They’re so cute…
Victory is life: Weyoun still has to constantly remind Dukat who’s in charge. Sometimes this works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Notably, though, when Dukat tries to object to Odo’s request, Weyoun slaps Dukat down so fast his head spins.
Keep your ears open: “First we shed blood, then we feast.”
“As it should be.”
Dax and Worf, planning their wedding.
Welcome aboard: Because apparently there aren’t enough recurring characters on the show, this episode gives us another one in Barry Jenner’s Ross. We also get the triumphant return of Brock Peters as Joseph, plus the usual suspects—Marc Alaimo as Dukat, Casey Biggs as Damar, Jeffrey Combs as Weyoun, Aron Eisenberg as Nog, J.G. Hertzler as Martok, and Andrew J. Robinson as Garak.
Trivial matters: This episode was dedicated to the memory of Brandon Tartikoff, the former Chairman of Paramount Pictures, who died shortly before the episode aired. Tartikoff was at least partially responsible for DS9’s existence, as he was the one who went to Rick Berman to see about doing a second Trek show.
This episode marked the beginning of a six-episode arc that officially commenced the Dominion War. It’s the first six-part story in Trek history, and one of only two multipart stories of its type (the other being the final arc of the series).
The Jem’Hadar vessel was captured in “The Ship.”
This entire arc resulted in an interesting four-book novel series from Pocket Books. Books 1 and 3 were billed as TNG, entitled Behind Enemy Lines and Tunnel Through the Stars; written by John Vornholt, they told an original tale of the Enterprise-E that was parallel to this six-episode arc. Meanwhile the TV arc itself was novelized in Books 2 and 4, entitled Call to Arms and Sacrifice of Angels and written by Diane Carey. Book 2 opened with the very end of “Call to Arms,” with the rest of it adapting this episode, “Rocks and Shoals,” and “Sons and Daughters.” The novels develop the character of Charlie Reynolds, as well.
Your humble rewatcher’s Starfleet Corps of Engineers tale War Stories included a portion that took place on the Lexington, which was established as one of the fourteen ships from the seventh fleet that survived the massacre at the Tyra system. The story told of the ship’s next battle after Tyra, and focused on the character of Dr. Elizabeth Lense, a regular in the S.C.E. series, who was introduced in the episode “Explorers.”
Martok’s coming aboard the Defiant for medical care because of the inadequacy of Klingon doctors will be explored in your humble rewatcher’s various bits of Klingon fiction, as Martok supports the efforts of a Klingon doctor named B’Oraq, who is trying to improve the state of Klingon medicine.
Walk with the Prophets: “You’re not genetically engineered, you’re a Vulcan.” This is a good table-setter for the six-episode arc, putting all the pieces in place. We have the Starfleet crew, plus Garak, working to try to turn the tide back toward the Alpha Quadrant’s favor. The teaser nicely sets up the low morale and depression of everyone over the constant losses without actually showing us our heroes regularly losing. But the sense of failure is palpable, so Ross sending Sisko and the others on a covert mission that actually succeeds proves a nice palliative. The opening puts our heroes at their lowest ebb, so they have a way to move up from that. The mission itself is fairly standard and hits all the beats, and mostly works due to some excellent dialogue—like the exchange about chairs, sandwiches, and viewscreens while they’re training on the ship’s systems—and the actors’ charms, especially Aron Eisenberg, whose Nog is wonderfully nervous and desperately competent.
Mention must also be made of the return of Brock Peters. The conversation between Sisko pere et fils is a triumph, a moment of humanity amidst the insanity of war that reminds everyone what, exactly, they’re fighting for.
The real meat of the episode, though, is back on the station. Jake is trying to be a wartime reporter and not entirely succeeding, Quark has his bar humming along nicely, and Kira and Odo are trying to find a way to reconcile their need to keep Bajor safe with their utter revulsion at both the Dominion and Cardassia. Having Dukat back on the station is Kira’s worst nightmare, made worse when he gets her in his office to lord his power over her. Dukat has always been skeevy, but never more so than when he cups Kira’s cheek in his hand and declares that they have an intimate relationship, and you just want to run right to the shower.
The difficult moral choices Kira and Odo have to make will be put into stark relief in the next episode. For now, though, the awkwardness and unpleasantness bodes ill.
This six-episode arc is one of DS9’s high points, and this episode starts the ball rolling very well.
Warp factor rating: 8
Keith R.A. DeCandido was born about ten thousand years ago and he knows just about all there is to know.