Written by Michael Piller
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
Season 2, Episode 3
Production episode 40512-423
Original air date: October 10, 1993
Station log: We open with some scenes from “The Homecoming” and “The Circle,” followed by Sisko gathering the Starfleet staff of DS9 in ops. With the Circle’s coup, the Bajoran government that invited the Federation to administer DS9 is no longer in power, so Starfleet is no longer welcome on the station. But Sisko needs to delay the takeover of the station long enough for the Cardassian involvement in this mess to be exposed—and besides, many of the Starfleet personnel have developed ties to the station and to Bajor. Everyone agrees to stay behind to help, but their families and other non-Bajoran civilians need to evacuate the station, as it isn’t safe.
Nog and Jake realize they’re going to separate places. Keiko also isn’t thrilled with O’Brien staying behind. Meanwhile, Dax can’t punch a signal through to Bajor, so Kira has to bring the proof physically to the chamber of ministers. Sisko can’t spare a runabout, but Li says they left some sub-impulse raiders underground on one of Bajor’s moons ten years ago. Sisko sends Dax to help Kira get one of the sub-I raiders up and running.
Quark hatches a scheme to sell seats on the runabouts. Odo, naturally, catches him. To add insult to injury, he overbooked slightly, so there’s a near-riot at the airlock. Sisko can’t calm them down, but Li is able to talk the Bajorans who are trying to evacuate into staying through the power of speechifying. The runabouts depart—Dax and Kira on one to be dropped off on the moon—but without Quark. Rom sold Quark’s seat to a dabo girl.
The Bajoran raiders arrive, with an occupation force led by General Krim and Colonel Day. Day sneers that the Federation has tucked its tail between its legs, but Krim wonders where the Bajoran officers who served on the station are, where Li is, and is generally skeptical that Sisko readily abandoned so strategic a position. They take ops, but the internal security system is down. Day contacts Jaro, eager to declare victory, but Krim is convinced that the battle’s only begun. Kira, Odo, and Li are unaccounted for, and it’s the latter that convinces Jaro that Krim’s right, as Li would never abandon Bajor. But Li must be taken alive: dead, he’s a martyr, but alive he secures the Circle’s victory.
Kira and Dax find a tiny, cramped sub-I raider in a bug-infested underground cavern, and Dax works to get it up and running. Kira’s almost nostalgic, while Dax is less than impressed with the old rattletrap, but they manage to lift off. As soon as they achieve orbit of Bajor, they’re fired on by two ships. (Dax is only able to detect them using a tricorder, as the raider’s sensors are down.) Kira goes into the atmosphere to level the playing field, and Dax manages to tag one with phasers, but the other one shoots them down and they crash.
On the station, main power goes down, thanks to some O’Brien-created sabotage. The Starfleet personnel—in civilian garb, since they’re technically not authorized to be there—are hiding in the conduits, along with Li, while Odo keeps an eye on things while hiding as various bits of wall and floor. Bashir leads a team that captures one of Day’s search parties in a cargo bay. Meanwhile, O’Brien and Li are ambushed in Odo’s office, but Sisko and the rest of their team are able to rescue them, with help from Odo. Day himself leads a team to Quark’s, where they fall into a trap Sisko left in a holosuite. Sisko explains that the Cardassians armed the Circle, and they transport Day out of the holosuite to ops so he can inform Krim. However, Day lies to Krim, saying he offered them amnesty if they freed him and never mentioning the Cardassians.
Krim’s people get the internal sensors back up, but they can’t find the Starfleet combadges—so they must be somewhere shielded. Odo warns Sisko that they’re going to flood the conduits with anaesthezine gas, so they have to abandon their secure location.
With their hidey-holes about to be compromised, and still no word from Kira and Dax, Sisko decides to bring Li to Krim in the hopes that he can convince the general that he’s backed the wrong side. Li is reluctant, saying he’s willing to die for his people, but Sisko cuts him off saying that of course he is, because dying gets him off the hook. But Bajor needs him to live the role they want him to live.
Kira and Dax are rescued by members of Bareil’s order, and they take them to the monastery. Kira’s broken hip is mended, and she and Dax disguise themselves as vedeks, because religious folk are the only ones who can safely walk the streets and enter the chamber of ministers. Bareil insists on escorting them.
Bashir and his team create a distraction at an airlock, drawing most of Krim’s forces there. Sisko, Li, and O’Brien then ambush Krim in Sisko’s office. At the same time, Kira, Dax, and Bareil enter the chamber of ministers, where Kira presents the evidence that Odo acquired of the Cardassians’ involvement. Krim is recalled to Bajor, and is pissed at Day for not sharing Sisko’s message. Krim returns command of the station to Sisko, and compliments Li on how well he fought.
As Krim leaves, Day loses it and turns his weapon on Sisko. Li leaps in front of it and is killed saving Sisko. His last words are, “Off the hook at last.”
Kira is devastated by Li’s death, though O’Brien doesn’t see what the big deal is—Li was just a regular person. But Sisko reminds O’Brien of the legend of Li Nalas, the hero of the resistance who died for his people, and that’s how he’s going to remember him.
The Sisko is of Bajor: Sisko’s speech at the beginning really gets at the heart of what the show’s about, playing up how important the people on the station are. (I love the line about how governments can break relations with an edict, but for the people on the ground it’s not so simple.) He also manages the impressive trick of doing the you-don’t-have-to-volunteer-for-this-mission-no-one-will-think-ill-of-you part of the speech while really sounding like he means it. Usually that’s a perfunctory, butt-covering aspect of the let’s-disobey-orders speech, but Sisko is earnest about it. He won’t let people endanger their lives or their families’ lives unnecessarily if they don’t want to. (Which makes O’Brien’s decision all the worse, but we’ll cover that in a bit.)
Don’t ask my opinion next time: Kira takes to her mission like a duck to water—she gets a nostalgic thrill digging around a cobweb-filled moon and kicking an old sub-I raider to life. She also does a nice job of piloting, and crash lands well enough to walk away from it (sort of). It’s also fun watching her take the piss out of Dax, who isn’t used to technology being so unreliable.
Rules of Acquisition: Quark quotes the 31st Rule at Bashir: “Never make fun of a Ferengi’s mother.” This seems an odd Rule, given Ferengi disdain for females, but the later publication of Legends of the Ferengi by Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe revealed that the full Rule had a final phrase: “…insult something he cares about instead.” We’ll chalk up Quark’s leaving off that part to being all verklempt because Rom sold his seat.
The slug in your belly: The second host of the Dax symbiont was named Tobin. He was a socially maladroit engineer, and Dax calls upon his skills with phase coil inverters to help Kira get the raider up and running—barely.
Preservation of mass and energy is for wimps: We see Odo change into the face of a bulkhead and later into a tripwire. He likely turned into other things while spying on Krim, Day, and their people.
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Bareil is only in one scene, but he’s still flirting heavily with Kira. He also says “Don’t argue” in a manner that probably was supposed to be a vedek admonishing a civilian, but comes across as a bit creepier in light of their becoming a couple in the future.
Keep your ears open: “You Starfleet types are too dependent on gadgets and gizmos. You lose your natural instincts for survival.”
“My natural instincts for survival told me not to climb aboard this thing. I’d say they were functioning pretty well.”
Kira making fun of Dax, who responds in kind. Given that they crashed a few minutes later, Dax sorta had a point.
Welcome aboard: Back again are Richard Beymer as Li, Stephen Macht as Krim, Louise Fletcher as Winn, Philip Anglim as Bareil, and the uncredited Frank Langella as Jaro. Plus we have recurring guests Rosalind Chao as Keiko, Hana Hatae as Molly, Max Grodenchik as Rom, and Aron Eisenberg as Nog. And finally, we have Steven Weber—who was in the midst of his starring role in Wings when he showed up here—as Colonel Day.
Stephen Macht was one of the finalists for the role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard that eventually went to Sir Patrick Stewart. Took ’em six years to finally cast him in another role.
Jaro is neither seen nor heard of again on screen, though his younger self appears in the Terok Nor novels Day of the Vipers by James Swallow and Dawn of the Eagles by S.D. Perry & Britta Dennison (in the former, he’s present for first contact between Bajor and Cardassia). He also appears in the DS9 novel Objective: Bajor by John Peel. The Bajor section of Worlds of DS9 Volume 2 by J. Noah Kym establishes that Jaro was arrested after this episode and remains in prison for at least the next six years.
Day also appears in the short story “Ha’mara” by Kevin G. Summers in the Prophecy and Change anthology, a story that takes place prior to this episode. Given that he killed Li Nalas, he’s likely in the prison cell next to Jaro.
Bareil will next appear in “Shadowplay,” which will continue the arc of his and Kira’s attraction. Winn will next appear in “The Collaborator,” in which Bareil will also appear, which will finally resolve the issue of who becomes the next kai.
Walk with the Prophets: “Use your eyes, not your pants.” This is one of those episodes that’s fun to watch but once it’s over you realize it’s managed the neat trick of being chock full of filler, yet also has far too quick and pat an ending.
There are plenty of excellent set pieces here. The colloquy on combat rations is hilarious, Sisko’s speech at the top of the episode is strong yet understated, Nog and Jake’s scene is excellent, Rom selling Quark’s seat is classic (particularly Bashir’s delivery of the news to Sisko and Quark, and Sisko’s tiny smile after, “I guess he sold your seat”), and every scene with Kira and Dax just sparkles (also the aerial combat scene is superbly written and directed). Li’s speech to the Bajorans wanting to evacuate is powerful (“Where are you running to? This is Bajor!” is goosebump-inducing), and Stephen Macht’s Krim is a worthy adversary for Sisko.
But there’s very little substance to the episode. There are two action sequences—Bashir’s ambush in the cargo bay and the firefight outside Odo’s office—that serve absolutely no function. The script can’t even be bothered to explain why O’Brien and Li are in Odo’s office to get shot at. The exchange between Bashir and Quark is entertaining but pointless, and the scene between Jaro and Winn just repeats what we got in a much better scene in “The Circle.”
And then there are the absolute duds. Steven Weber—who is a fine actor generally—is simply awful as Day. The resolution happens far too quickly and easily, with the status quo just restored magically at the end because of one stolen manifest.
Plus there’s the painful scene with the O’Brien family, which fails on every level. It continues the reduction of Keiko Ishikawa O’Brien to the role of Person Who Whines A Lot—with the added bonus of the fact that she’s absolutely right. If the crew was actually accomplishing anything on the station to justify O’Brien staying behind, that’d be one thing, but they were just delaying things for a bit—anyone could’ve done that. As an opening-credits regular, O’Brien should be in the thick of the action, but the action in question is so utterly pointless that it just makes Keiko seem correct, for all that the script is constructed in a way to make her appear wrong for not wanting her husband to abandon his wife and child.
In the end, Li Nalas dies in the world’s most predictable death. It was foreshadowed by Jaro, who likened his death to a martyrdom dangerous to him while his being alive would seal his victory, and since we know Jaro’s going to lose (because if he wins, there’s no show), Li has to die. Plus Sisko sets it up with the “off the hook” line.
Overall, this is a strong three-parter, but the last portion is less than the sum of its, ah, parts.
Warp factor rating: 6
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