Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “The Dogs of War”

“The Dogs of War”
Written by Peter Allan Fields and Rene Echevarria & Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Avery Brooks
Season 7, Episode 24
Production episode 40510-574
Original air date: May 26, 1999
Stardate: 52861.3

Station log: Ross delivers DS9’s new ship: another Defiant-class ship, the U.S.S. Sao Paulo. After the change-of-command ceremony, Ross hands Sisko his orders, which includes a special dispensation to rename the ship Defiant, which makes everyone happy. The ship’s been outfitted with shields that make it resistant to the Breen energy-dampening weapon, as well. O’Brien and Worf check out the shields, Bashir checks out sickbay, and Dax leaves Sisko alone on the bridge to sit and get acquainted.

Damar, Kira, Garak, and Seskal take their stolen Jem’Hadar ship to Cardassia Prime. Damar has been promised two, possibly three fleets who will pledge their loyalty to the resistance, and that’s worth the risk of going to Cardassia. Leaving Seskal in charge, Kira, Garak, and Damar beam down to rendezvous with Gul Revok—only to find the Jem’Hadar massacreing the Cardassians in the caves. Standing alongside a Vorta is Revok, saying how he promised he could lure them here.

Realizing they’ve been betrayed, but not having yet been sighted, Kira calls for Seskal to beam them out—but the Jem’Hadar ship is also under attack and is quickly destroyed. Garak takes them to the house he grew up in, where Mila, the late Enabran Tain’s housekeeper, gives them sanctuary in the basement, and also gets them a comm unit so they can contact the other resistance cells to warn them about Revok.

Star Trek Deep Space Nine Rewatch The Dogs of War housekeeper Cardassia Prime

Bashir discharges Odo, also finally revealing to him that Section 31 gave him the disease to pass on to the Founders. Odo is not happy about that, and is less happy that the Federation Council refuses to give the cure to the Founders given, y’know, the whole war thing.

M’Pella and Leeta—encouraged by Rom—ask Quark if they can only give him 10% of their tips instead of 20%. Quark says he’ll think about it (which is more than they were expecting), and then takes a call from Zek. The call is filled with static, and Quark can only understand every third word, while Zek says he can barely see who he’s talking to. But apparently Zek is retiring and he and Ishka are going to live out their lives on Risa, and he’s naming Quark his successor.

Quark is beyond giddy; then it gets even better when Brunt shows up and kneels before Quark to get his sucking-up in early. He gives Quark a pedicure and bribes him to become part of his administration—and then Brunt shocks Quark with the news that there are now taxes on Ferenginar. One of Zek’s reforms is a progressive income tax, which Quark says goes against the very spirit of free enterprise. And that’s the least of it: There are social programs, helping the poor and the aged and the environment, and so on. Quark is appalled, and his plans to reverse those reforms might be stymied by a new Congress of Economic Advisors, who have to ratify anything the nagus does.

Star Trek Deep Space Nine Rewatch The Dogs of War

On Cardassia, Weyoun gives a propaganda speech that is full of some depressing facts. The good news is that they think Damar’s dead. The bad news is that, thanks to Revok’s treachery, all eighteen resistance bases have been destroyed. But as they’re feeling sorry for themselves, Mila informs them that everyone on the streets is talking about Damar. They think he’s not really dead, that he faked his death and is plotting a new offensive from his secret mountain hideaway. (Garak looks at Damar and says, “You never told me you had a secret mountain hideaway.” Damar chuckles bitterly and replies, “I was going to surprise you.”)

Kira, however, grabs onto that—the talk, not the mountain hideaway. If Damar’s become a folk hero, a legend, if the people are so fed up with the Dominion that they don’t even believe the reports of his death, then that may be their way to keep the rebellion going. The organized resistance is done, but the people may rise up, especially if Damar tells them to.

Weyoun introduces Legate Broca to the female changeling as Damar’s replacement as leader of the Cardassian people. The female changeling responds to the Federation’s developing a countermeasure for the Breen weapon by ordering a retreat to consolidate their position, defend less territory, and redouble their production of ships and Jem’Hadar. The Federation’s lack of aggression will keep them from pressing the advantage. (Broca asks about the Klingons and Romulans, but Weyoun dismisses them as no threat without the Federation.)

Star Trek Deep Space Nine Rewatch The Dogs of War

Quark is ranting and raving about the disease spreading through Ferengi society. As he rants, Rom gets him to sell the bar to him for 5,000 bars of latinum. To Rom’s surprise, he goes for it without even haggling, at which point Quark realizes that he’s been infected with these reforms as well—he hasn’t raised prices, he didn’t haggle with Rom, and he was considering M’Pella and Leeta’s request. This has to stop…

On Cardassia, Kira, Damar, and Garak set a bomb—but Garak is delayed by Jem’Hadar checking his papers. Damar distracts the Jem’Hadar long enough for Kira to shoot one, and Garak stabs the other. After the bomb goes off, Damar gives a rousing speech, saying the rebellion is not crushed, but they need the people to continue to fight and be their army. Garak then cries, “Freedom!” from the crowd, and everyone cries “Freedom!” and the citizenry is rallied.

Star Trek Deep Space Nine Rewatch The Dogs of War Damar Freedom

Zek arrives and explains that it’s Rom he wants to appoint Grand Nagus, not Quark. Quark is devastated, and Rom is overwhelmed. Quark announces that his bar will be the last remnant of the Ferenginar he knew. Rom gives him the bar back (he even lets him keep the 5,000 bars). He orders Broik to water the drinks and M’Pella to rig the dabo table, and then congratulates his brother and goes back to work, refusing Rom’s offer to make him his economic advisor. Brunt volunteers for the job, which Rom refuses quickly, though Quark says not to be so hasty and at least let him give Rom a pedicure first.

Ross meets with Sisko, Velal, and Martok. If they let the Dominion sit behind the Cardassian border and regroup, they could wait for years before going on the offensive. Martok feels they should hit them before they can settle, and Sisko agrees—Ross reluctantly goes along with it, and so does Velal. They’ll do a major offensive to break through the lines.

Sisko returns to his quarters to see that Yates is still awake and she has news: She’s pregnant. Yates is worried about what the Prophets said about him knowing only sorrow if he married her, and now she’s worried that something will happen to their baby. But Sisko assures her that everything will be okay.

Star Trek Deep Space Nine Rewatch The Dogs of War Yates pregnant

The Sisko is of Bajor: We learn how birth control works in the 24th century: Both parties get monthly injections of, uh, something. Sisko forgot his, which is how Yates winds up pregnant.

Don’t ask my opinion next time: Kira refuses to give up at any point in the story. When they first get to Mila’s basement, Garak and Damar are ready to give up, while Kira’s the one formulating strategies. When Mila reveals that the people still believe in Damar, she’s the first one to come up with a plan of attack.

Preservation of mass and energy is for wimps: Odo is disgusted that the Federation will, on the one hand, condemn Section 31’s actions, but on the other hand allow their genocide to go forward. “Tidy little arrangement,” he calls it, with trademark Odo sarcasm.

Plain, simple: The one person left in all of Cardassian space that Garak can trust is Mila, who has a convenient basement for them all to hide in.

For Cardassia! To the surprise of Damar, Garak, and Kira, the Cardassian rebellion has had a profound impact on the Cardassian people, which they’re able to use to their benefit.

Victory is life: With the Breen weapon no longer a factor, the Dominion’s strategy is to pull back and regroup, showing patience.

Tough little ship: Hey look, it’s a new Defiant! And it has the same NX designation, even though that’s for an experimental ship and the Sao Paulo isn’t experimental! (This is what happens when you keep using the same model…)

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Bashir and Dax are incredibly awkward around each other, making stupid small talk and being ridiculous. And then when they finally do come out and talk, they agree to remain friends, as a relationship might spoil their friendship—but then they wind up smooching in the turbolift. (As Worf points out to O’Brien, he’s an overgrown child and she is very confused.)

Star Trek Deep Space Nine Rewatch The Dogs of War Bashir Dax kiss

Keep your ears open: “Whatever happened to the survival of the fittest? Whatever happened to the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer? Whatever happened to pure, unadultered greed?”

Quark, lamenting what Ferenginar has become in the wake of Zek’s reforms, as proposed by Ishka.

Welcome aboard: Mel Johnson, Jr. appears as Broca, and he’s the only new guest. Vaughn Armstrong returns as Seskal for a second and final time, ditto Stephen Yoakam as Velal (both last seen in “When It Rains…”). Julianna McCarthy is back as Mila, last seen in “Improbable Cause.” Also, David B. Levinson and Cathy DeBuono make their final apperances as the background characters of Broik and M’Pella (a waiter and dabo girl, respectively, in Quark’s), and both get lines for the first (and last) time.

Several recurring characters are here for their last hurrah: Cecily Adams as Ishka, Max Grodénchik as Rom, Chase Masterson as Leeta, Wallace Shawn as Zek, and Tiny Ron as Maihar’du.

Other recurring regulars back for more: Casey Biggs (Damar), Aron Eisenberg (Nog), J.G. Hertzler (Martok), Barry Jenner (Ross), Salome Jens (the female changeling), Penny Johnson (Yates), and Andrew J. Robinson (Garak).

But the exacta of awesome is that this episode has Jeffrey Combs playing both Weyoun and Brunt. The only thing that would’ve made it more awesome is if he’d appeared as both in the same scene but alas, that was not to be…

Star Trek Deep Space Nine Rewatch The Dogs of War Jeffrey Combs Brunt

Trivial matters: The episode’s title is from the same passage from William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar quoted by Chang in The Undiscovered Country.

Kira, Garak, and Damar’s time on Cardassia is expanded in the short story “Face Value” by Una McCormack in the Prophecy and Change anthology.

Quark makes two TNG references in his speech after Rom’s appointment: saying, “the line must be drawn here,” a riff on Picard’s speech about the Borg to Lily Sloan in First Contact, the other calling his bar “the last outpost of what made Ferenginar great,” a riff on the title of the first episode to feature the Ferengi, “The Last Outpost” (in which Shimerman also played a Ferengi). In addition, Sisko makes a reference of his own, his “This is what happens when you miss staff meetings” line to Dax an echo of Kirk’s line to McCoy in The Search for Spock.

Rom’s trials and tribulations as Grand Nagus are the focus of your humble rewatcher’s “Satisfaction is Not Guaranteed,” the Ferenginar portion of Worlds of DS9 Volume 3. In general, Rom has continued to be Grand Nagus in the 24th-century fiction, appearing in several novels and stories and such.

Zek says that Rom needs to be a “kinder, gentler” nagus, a riff on President George H.W. Bush’s campaign in 1988.

The new Defiant’s original name, the Sao Paulo, was named after the San Pablo in the Robert Wise movie The Sand Pebbles, with Sisko’s “Hello, ship” an echo of what Steve McQueen said to the ship in the film.

Walk with the Prophets: “Freedom is ours for the taking!” Back in the third season of TNG, Michael Piller was hastily hired to run the writers’ room when Michael Wagner’s tenure ended prematurely after only a handful of episodes. One of the ways he got scripts was to look through the slushpile, and he picked up two spec scripts over the course of that first season on the job: “The Bonding” by Ronald D. Moore and “The Offspring” by Rene Echevarria. They were both added to the writing staff; when TNG ended, the two of them went over to the spinoff, and remained on DS9 until the end as well.

Those two additions by Piller in 1990 have had a profound impact on genre television in the 25 years since. Moore and Echevarria have served as high-ranking writers and/or showrunners on The 4400, Battlestar Galactica, Caprica, Carnivale, Castle, Dark Angel, Helix, Medium, Now and Again, Outlander, Roswell, Teen Wolf, and Terra Nova.

This episode, co-written by the pair of them (one of three collaborations, the other two being “Rejoined” and “Trials and Tribble-ations”), showcases why they’ve been so justifiably influential and sought-after. Just as “Extreme Measures” was a rhapsody in how not to do one episode in a multipart storyline, “The Dogs of War” is a perfect example of getting it right.

The balance in this episode is perfect, juggling Damar’s rebellion, the revelations about the Founders disease, the arrival of the new Defiant, the Dominion’s new defensive strategy, Dax and Bashir’s stumbling toward the world’s most chemistry-free relationship, Yates’ pregnancy, and the future of the Ferengi Alliance magnificently. Almost everything works: the pacing, the acting, the writing. Plus, we get an episode that actually has a beginning, a middle, and an end unto itself, even as it services the larger story. Indeed, if not for the tiresome, irritating, utterly uninteresting Bashir-Dax subplot, it might be perfect. (You know something’s wrong with your romance plot when O’Brien and Worf talking about it is more interesting than the actual thing they’re talking about.)

Star Trek Deep Space Nine Rewatch The Dogs of War Worf

So many great moments here: Quark’s speech to Rom and his later one to the crowded bar, Damar’s speech to the Cardassian crowd, Kira’s unwillingness to give up, Odo’s bitterness, Mila’s sarcasm, Brunt’s sucking-up to Quark while making sure he’ll roll back the reforms if he’s in office, and so on. The scene where Quark is ranting while Rom’s trying desperately to buy the bar from him is a great final hurrah for the Quark-Rom double-act, and Armin Shimerman and Max Grodénchik are at the top of their game for it. But the best part is Rom’s “wow” at the end as he stares at the nagal staff. Making Rom the Grand Nagus is the perfect ending for the character whom everyone has underestimated, plus it leaves Quark right where he belongs: at the station’s spiritual center, the bar.

All of that is totally topped by the superlative job Casey Biggs does delivering his rabblerousing speech. It’s especially fun to compare Biggs’s stilted, awkward line readings when Damar gave his first speech as legate back in “Statistical Probabilities” with the barnburner he provides us here.

The episode begins and ends with Sisko, first getting his ship back (kind of), then ending with him finding out he’s going to be a father again. It’s a nice bookend to the series’ penultimate episode and helps put everything in place for the grand finale…

 

Warp factor rating: 8


Keith R.A. DeCandido is just around the corner to the light of day.

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