“The Search, Part I”
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe and Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Kim Friedman
Season 3, Episode 1
Production episode 40512-447
Original air date: September 26, 1994
Station log: We get a summary of the events of “The Jem’Hadar,” then cut to a meeting in Ops run by Kira, with Dax, Odo, Bashir, and O’Brien. They’ve run seven simulations, and they all come out the same: the Jem’Hadar totally kicks their asses. Dax proposes two other alternatives: abandon the station and make a stand on Bajor or collapse the wormhole entrance on this side.
Before the discussion can continue, a ship decloaks: it’s a new class of Starfleet starship, the Defiant. Sisko brought the ship back from Earth: it’s a prototype for a fleet of warships that Starfleet experimented with to fight the Borg. They abandoned the class because it’s overpowered and overgunned. O’Brien’s job is to fix that problem, while Sisko’s mission is to take the ship into the Gamma Quadrant and find the Founders of the Dominion to try to negotiate with them. The reason for taking the Defiant is to show that they’ll defend themselves if necessary.
There are also two new arrivals: Sub-commander T’Rul from the Romulan Empire, whose job is to safeguard the cloaking device, which is on loan from Romulus; and Lt. Commander Michael Eddington of Starfleet security. After the meeting breaks up, Odo bitches out Sisko. The commander reassures him that Odo is still in charge of non-Starfleet security matters, and that for Starfleet stuff, he is to coordinate with Eddington. Sisko argued vociferously against this, but was overruled.
Odo says his resignation will be logged within the hour, and he storms off in a huff. But Kira talks the provisional government into assigning Odo to go on the mission to the Gamma Quadrant to assess the threat the Dominion poses to Bajor—basically as a favor to make Odo feel better and remind him that he’s needed on the station. Odo sees through this transparent attempt, but goes along anyhow.
Also going on the mission, much to his chagrin: Quark. On behalf of Grand Nagus Zek he opened relations with the Karemma to trade in tulaberry wine. The Karemma’s part of the Dominion, so they’re a good place to start. To punctuate the point, Sisko holds up a souvenir of the side trip he took to Ferernginar on his way back from Earth: Zek’s scepter. The Grand Nagus feels Quark is the right person to help find the Founders (ahem) and make sure that business opportunities in the GQ don’t dry up.
Sisko and Dax talk about the mission, and how Sisko has become passionate about defending Bajor, far more so than he is about his ever-receding ambitions to become an admiral.
On board the Defiant, Bashir bitches about the sparse medical bay and Quark bitches about the accommodations (more so when he finds out that Odo—who’s cranky even by his high standards—is his bunkmate). The ship clears the station and heads into the wormhole, cloaking as soon as they enter the GQ. They encounter a Jem’Hadar patrol, which detects them at warp, but T’Rul recommends they drop out of warp. O’Brien also recommends cutting main power, since the Defiant is so overpowered it may bleed through the cloak. The Jem’Hadar make an intense antiproton scan, but they don’t find the Defiant and go on their way.
They arrive at the Karemma homeworld, and a gentleman named Ornithar beams on board. He has no idea where the Founders are or even if they exist. He deals with the Vorta. Quark offers an increase in tulaberry wine trade if he cooperates, and threatens to cut it off entirely if he doesn’t. Ornithar shows them a subspace relay that they direct all communications to.
Quark then disembarks with Ornithar—he’s done his part—and the Defiant proceeds to the relay. But Odo is captivated by the Omarian Nebula, which is proximate to the relay.
Kira asks Sisko what Starfleet’s problem is with Odo, as if that wasn’t self-evident. But Kira only cares about his results, not his process—Starfleet, however, has been trying to get Sisko to replace Odo for two years, because he doesn’t follow procedure, he isn’t a team player, and he barely acknowledges the chain of command. Sisko wants Odo to stay, but the constable has to want to.
Sisko sends Dax and O’Brien to the relay station. They access the computer a little too easily and find out where the station relays things to. Then a security field drops, cutting them off from the Defiant. Three Jem’Hadar ships are entering orbit, so the Defiant has to abandon Dax and O’Brien to continue the search.
Odo refuses a request to come to the bridge. Kira goes to talk to him to find out what’s wrong, and Odo says that he wants a shuttlecraft so he can go to the Omarian Nebula. He explains that he’s been drawn to the Omarian Nebula since they came into the GQ. It’s practically a compulsion.
Their argument on the subject is cut off by the three Jem’Hadar ships firing on the Defiant. Then three more ships show up, and they all pound the crap out of our heroes. Several Jem’Hadar board, overwhelming the crew.
Odo manages to get an unconscious Kira onto a shuttlecraft. The Defiant was dead in space, surrounded by Jem’Hadar warships. Odo doesn’t know who, if anyone, survived. Rather than take them back to the wormhole, though, Odo took the shuttle to the Omarian Nebula. Kira’s more than a little pissed about that—but is surprised to find a rogue planet in the middle of the nebula, a Class-M world inexplicably just sitting there. They land and find an amber sea that looks remarkably like Odo in his liquid state. Several shapeshifters come out of the sea, and one approaches Odo and says, “Welcome home.”
To be continued...
Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Romulan cloaking devices emit a subspace variance when at warp, something the Romulans have kept hidden from everyone else (until now, anyhow). That variance doesn’t show up when the ship is at sublight speeds, however.
The Sisko is of Bajor: When Sisko went back to Earth, he and Jake took a bunch of his stuff out of storage, including his impressive collection of African art, and brought it back with them to DS9. Both Sisko and Jake have come to realize that the station is now home for both of them.
Don’t ask my opinion next time: Frustrated at their treatment of Odo, Kira at one point plaintively asks Sisko, “What the hell is wrong with Starfleet?” She contrives to get Odo on the mission to remind him (and everyone else) of his importance—though this backfires, as Odo proves useless on the mission.
The slug in your belly: Curzon always told Sisko never to volunteer for anything, and he also thought Sisko would make a crummy admiral, as Sisko’s the kind of person who needs to be in the thick of things.
Preservation of mass and energy is for wimps: For the second time, Odo gets pissed at the presence of a Starfleet security officer assigned to the station, and his interactions with Sisko on the subject of Eddington mirror those he had with the commander regarding Primmin in “The Passenger.”
Odo also at the end of the episode finds his people’s homeworld in the Omarian Nebula. For reasons passing understanding, they all go into humanoid form with the same unfinished look that Odo has, even though Odo only has that form because he can’t do anything more detailed. It’s an understandable bit of visual shorthand to make it clear to the viewer that these are Odo’s people, but it doesn’t make any kind of story sense.
Rules of Acquisition: This is the first time it’s clear that Quark was successful in setting up GQ trade after the events of “Rules of Acquisition.” Quark is able to talk Ornithar into helping Sisko out by threatening to cut off the very lucrative tulaberry wine trade.
Victory is life: We learn that the Founders of the Dominion are rarely seen, and considered mythical by many members of the Dominion, including the Karemma. This confirms what Eris said in “The Jem’Hadar” (since she was a spy, all her information has to be considered suspect). The Dominion is administered by the Vorta; people in the Dominion do what the Vorta say or the Vorta send in the Jem’Hadar. (That the Vorta is Eris’s species has not yet been established.)
Tough little ship: Created to fight the Borg, the Defiant is basically a very big gun, which fires pulse phasers, and is equipped with a cloaking device on loan from the Romulan Empire. There are no labs, the sickbay is minimal, and the quarters are small, spartan, and have two bunk beds each. Despite all this, they get their asses handed to them against three Jem’Hadar ships, though they do manage to destroy one.
Keep your ears open: “We’d all feel better with you here to watch over Quark.”
“I take that as a personal insult, Doctor!”
Bashir talking to Odo, Quark taking offense, and Bashir gleefully handing over more offense for Quark to take.
Welcome aboard: Two recurring characters make their debut in this episode: Kenneth Marshall as Eddington and Salome Jens as the female changeling; Jens previously appeared in TNG’s “The Chase” as the proto-humanoid. Martha Hackett plays T’Rul; she’ll have a recurring role on Voyager as Seska, and also appear as a Klingon in the Star Trek: Klingon CD-ROM. And John Fleck makes his third Trek appearance (and second straight DS9 season premiere appearance) as Ornithar; he previously appeared as a Cardassian in “The Homecoming” and as a Romulan in TNG’s “The Mind’s Eye,” and he’ll be back as Koval in “Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges,” Abbadon in Voyager’s “Alice,” and in the recurring role of Sillik on Enterprise.
Trivial matters: With the debut of the third season are several changes in the production staff. With TNG ending, the top four members of that show’s writers room under Michael Piller basically split up between the two remaining shows: Jeri Taylor and Brannon Braga went over to the upcoming new spinoff Voyager, while Ronald D. Moore and Rene Echevarria came to DS9. Also with Piller focusing on getting Voyager off the ground, Ira Steven Behr took over as the show-runner, though Piller would remain as executive producer until Voyager’s actual debut, when he’d cut back to “creative consultant,” a role he’d continue through to the end of the fifth season. Also Jonathan West took over as the director of photography, taking over from Marvin Rush, who moved over to Voyager to be the DP on that show for all seven seasons of its run.
Onscreen changes include a new uniform and makeup design for Odo (done at Rene Auberjonois’s request after “Crossover,” as the actor liked the look of his Mirror Universe counterpart), a new hairstyle for Dax (which thankfully would only last for this two-parter), new combadges that were designed for Star Trek Generations (and which would remain through to Star Trek Nemesis in the movies, and through the rest of DS9 and all of Voyager), the addition of the Defiant as well as its interior, and the debut of DS9’s wardroom.
Martha Hackett auditioned for the role of Dax, and was also given a role in TNG’s finale “All Good Things...,” but her scenes were cut. The role of T’Rul was originally intended to be recurring, but the producers decided there wasn’t enough to the character. Her consolation was to get the recurring role of Seska on Voyager, a role that lasted more than a dozen episodes.
This is the first time we’ve seen a Romulan on DS9. It’s also the first time we’ve seen the Karemma, first mentioned in “Rules of Acquisition.”
Rick Berman was originally against having a cloaking device on the Defiant, as Gene Roddenberry always felt that the Federation shouldn’t use cloaking technology, as they wouldn’t be the types to sneak around. Behr convinced him that this was a unique ship in a unique situation, and that the cloak would only be used in the GQ. (This caveat would only last nine episodes, as the cloak will be used in the Alpha Quadrant in “Defiant” and again in the fourth-season premiere “The Way of the Warrior.”)
Moore originally wanted to name the ship Valiant, but because Voyager was about to debut, they didn’t want both shows to have ships that started with the same letter, so he went with Defiant, a deliberate homage to the original series’ “The Tholian Web.” Moore will later get to show a Defiant-class ship called Valiant in the latter’s eponymous episode.
This two-parter resulted in some minor confusion in a couple of DS9 tie-in novels. While the show was in production, it was difficult to produce tie-in novels that were up-to-date because the regular status quo changes and character revelations were hard to keep up with, especially given the lag time in book production as opposed to TV production. So the producers made sure to inform the editors at Simon & Schuster that they were going to be adding a new ship called the Defiant to the show at the top of the third season, allowing them to insert a couple of quick references to the Defiant in a couple of late-in-production novels that would be out in late 1994. Unfortunately, the producers neglected to mention that the same episode that introduced the Defiant would also be the one where Odo found out who his people are. So there are a couple of DS9 novels that are kind of out of continuity because they mention the Defiant as being assigned to the station, but with Odo still wondering where he came from.
Walk with the Prophets: “She may have flaws, but she has teeth.” Just as the Circle trilogy picked up on the first-season finale, this two-parter picks up on the revelations of “The Jem’Hadar,” giving the station a full-on starship assigned to it, and revealing more about the Dominion. As an added bonus, after two years, Odo finally meets more changelings.
There’s not much of a story here, as the episode’s plot suffers a bit from middle-of-the-trilogy syndrome: it’s all reaction to “The Jem’Hadar” and setup for—well, for the next five seasons, really. All that actually happens in the episode is the Defiant goes to the GQ to find the Founders and get their asses seriously kicked by the Jem’Hadar.
But the meat of the episode is the bread and butter of the newly arrived addition to the writing staff, Ronald D. Moore: characterization. Most of it, as it often does on this show, comes out in the interactions between two people: Sisko and Jake, Sisko and Dax, Kira and Odo, Odo and Quark, and Sisko and Odo. I like the fact that Odo’s roughshod style is actually causing problems with the bureaucrats of Starfleet, and I like the fact that Sisko actually defends Starfleet’s decision-making process to Kira, for all that he agrees with Kira’s conclusion.
Ultimately, this episode really accomplishes two things: sets up the new status quo (fear of the Dominion, presence of the Defiant, introduction of Eddington) and gives us a spotlight on Odo. Rene Auberjonois gives us Odo in full-on pissed mode, which modulates into obsessed mode once he sees the Omarian Nebula on the Karemma starmap. It’s a scary progression, most obvious when he tears Quark a new one before regenerating. His usual interaction with Quark is mildly disgusted yet vaguely respectful banter between two people who’ve been fencing a long time, so to see him yell at Quark so nastily is jarring as hell, the first sign that something’s seriously up with the constable.
The Dominion, meanwhile, continues to be a fascinating threat, and a powerful one, and the tension that was created in “The Jem’Hadar” remains a nasty undercurrent of this episode as well. This is a nice inversion of the Trek credo of seeking out new life and new civilization, because this time they’ve found one that mostly wants to blow them up a lot, and that’s something they’re really good at.
Yes, it’s setup, but it’s damn good setup, and it also brings two excellent characters onto the show who will continue to be major presences in Salome Jens’s female changeling and Kenneth Marshall’s Eddington. (Mention should also be made of a delightful turn by John Fleck as Ornithar, who spends all his time examining the stuff on the Defiant, up to and including Kira’s earring, to see if there’s anything he wants to buy.) A strong start to the season.
Warp factor rating: 7
Keith R.A. DeCandido knows who put the bop in the bop-shu-bop and who put the ram in the ram-a-lama-ding-dong, but has yet to figure out who wrote the book of love.