“Call to Arms”
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by Allan Kroeker
Season 5, Episode 26
Production episode 40510-524
Original air date: June 16, 1997
Station log: Rom and Leeta are having trouble picking out a wedding dress, as they can’t agree on any of the 150 that Garak shows them—and the wedding’s in two weeks. Ziyal suggests that Garak design a dress for her instead. They interrupt this argument to approach Sisko about marrying them, to which the Emissary agrees.
The Dominion has been sending regular convoys through the wormhole. War seems imminent, to the point that Keiko, Molly, and Kirayoshi are visiting family on Earth (O’Brien misses them horribly, but it’s for the best), and Sisko wishes he could convince Jake to do likewise.
Jake has gotten a job as a correspondent for the Federation News Service, which Sisko doesn’t find out until he reads an article by Jake for FNS on Bajor’s negotiations with the Dominion to sign a nonaggression pact.
They aren’t the only ones—the Dominion has signed nonaggression pacts with the Romulans, the Miradorn, and the Tholians—and Sisko has been ordered to mine the wormhole so the Dominion can’t send anymore reinforcements, troops, or materiel through from the Gamma Quadrant. Dax, O’Brien, and Rom spitball on how to accomplish that, and they come up with small, cloaked, self-replicating mines that will replenish the field as they’re destroyed. Dax takes the Defiant to deploy the mines, which results in a visit to the station from Weyoun, who delivers an ultimatum: remove the mines, or the Dominion will take the station and remove the mines themselves.
Weyoun—who says that the convoys are mostly there to support Cardassia, which was in bad shape following the war with the Klingons—offers a compromise. Starfleet removes the mines, and the Dominion will limit their convoys to cargo ships bringing medical supplies and such.
It is, of course, bullshit. Sisko expects an attack as soon as tomorrow. He tells Dax to move faster in deploying the mines, Martok takes his ship to the border to be a lookout for the Dominion fleet, Bashir gets the infirmary ready, Worf gets the station’s tactical arrays ready and gives out combat assignments, and Kira tells the council of ministers to expect a statement from Sisko—both as captain of the station and the Emissary. The Federation can’t protect Bajor if a war starts, so Bajor needs to sign the nonaggression pact.
All Bajorans are asked to leave the station. Ziyal is one of those, staying with friends of Kira’s; she tries to convince Garak to join her, but he thinks he’ll be incredibly unwelcome on Bajor. Sisko then performs Rom and Leeta’s wedding ceremony two weeks ahead of schedule, then Rom puts her on a shuttle so she’ll be safe on Bajor. Rom and Nog, though, are staying behind to help Starfleet—Nog because it’s his duty as a cadet, Rom because he needs to protect Quark (when Rom explains the latter to Quark, Quark calls him an idiot, but then kisses him on the head in gratitude).
Martok reports that a large force of Dominion ships is en route, but his communication is overridden by Dukat, who asks if Sisko would like to surrender, which Sisko politely declines. Dax and O’Brien try to work faster to deploy the mines, while the station gets ready for an attack.
Martok moves his ship to defend the Defiant while it deploys the mines, and Worf activates all the station’s weapons systems.
The battle begins. Weyoun is shocked to see that the station’s shields are holding against the Jem’Hadar’s attack. Martok’s defense helps the Defiant lay down all the mines, which are then activated and cloaked. The station does considerable damage to the fleet, to the point where they have to regroup—and call in reinforcements.
At that point, Sisko announces that they’re evacuating the station—and that their holding action here allowed a Starfleet/Klingon task force to destroy a major Dominion shipyard.
Martok’s ship and the Defiant depart the station under cloak, after Sisko gives a rousing speech to everyone left on the station, assuring everyone that he will come back to the place he calls home.
Kira sends a message to the Dominion welcoming them to the station. Then she activates a program Sisko created that wipes out all station systems, leaving it a powerless husk. Weyoun is less than impressed by how costly the victory was, but Dukat’s giddy as a schoolboy to have his station back, damaged as it is. Kira, Odo, and Quark officially welcome the Dominion to Deep Space 9—or, rather, Terok Nor.
Rom pretends to go back to work for Quark’s, whispering to Quark that he’s actually a spy for Starfleet. (“The Federation must be more desperate than I thought” is Quark’s response.) Jake also stays behind, figuring this is a great story, and he’s a reporter—what’s more, a reporter who’s the son of the Emissary, so the Dominion probably won’t hurt him and risk pissing the Bajorans off.
In the prefect’s office, Dukat finds the one useful thing Sisko left intact: the baseball on his desk. Weyoun is confused, but Dukat recognizes it as a message from Sisko that he’ll be back.
Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Rom is the one who comes up with self-replicating mines—after O’Brien suggests cloaked mines and Dax points out that they’ll have to be very small to be effectively cloaked—and the Ferengi does so while ping-ponging back and forth between anxiety over his upcoming nuptials and brilliant insight. I’ve known several engineers, and that was one of the truest representations of one I’ve seen on screen....
The Sisko is of Bajor: Sisko gives an impassioned speech about how when he first came to DS9 he wanted to be anywhere else, but now he considers the station to be his home and the place he belongs.
Don’t ask my opinion next time: Before the battle starts, Kira officially protests on behalf of the Bajoran government that Sisko hasn’t turned the station over to Bajor. Sisko notes the protest. Once that formality is over with, she says, “Kira Nerys, reporting for duty.”
There is no honor in being pummeled: Sisko gives only one order to Worf at the top of the battle: “Fire at will.” Given total control of tactical, Worf gets to kick some serious ass, taking out the first three ships that go after the Defiant, and eventually destroying 50 of the ships in the task force—a figure far higher than Weyoun anticipated.
The slug in your belly: Dax is in charge of the Defiant while it deploys the mines. She barely succeeds in time, and only because of Martok’s help. (“Who says there’s not a Klingon around when you need one?”)
Preservation of mass and energy is for wimps: Odo remains on the station even though his entire staff has evacuated to Bajor. He feels unusually useless.
Rules of Acquisition: We get Rule #190: “Hear all, trust nothing.” Quark is also disappointed in Rom and Leeta’s wedding, as it lacks a bridal auction, a latinum dance, and a naked bride.
For Cardassia! As if there was any doubt, this episode makes it abundantly clear that Cardassia is not autonomous and has been subsumed by the Dominion, as Weyoun overrides Dukat when he and Damar discuss taking Bajor after taking the station. Then again, the notion of Cardassian autonomy never really existed outside Dukat’s head...
Plain, simple: Garak muses to Odo that he had the chance to shoot Dukat in the back when they were defending the Detapa Council in “The Way of the Warrior,” but declined, as he couldn’t fight all those Klingons himself. He morbidly states that they’ll all regret that decision before the day is out.
When the Dominion takes the station, he boards the Defiant, telling Sisko that he has nowhere else to go.
Victory is life: The Dominion is working hard to gain a foothold in the Alpha Quadrant, signing four nonaggression pacts and retaking Deep Space 9/Terok Nor. However, it’s not an unqualified success—the task force loses a lot more ships than anticipated, a shipyard is destroyed, and the wormhole has been mined.
Tough little ship: The Defiant is tasked with deploying the mines, leaving it unable to defend the station. No indication as to what happened to the runabouts...
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Odo and Kira are super awkward around each other because Kira’s not comfortable with the revelation that Odo’s in love with her. Eventually, Odo says that he was thinking about asking her out—but has decided against it, as neither of them needs the distraction during the current crisis. This relieves both of them, and they’re back to being friends again.
Meanwhile, Rom and Leeta get married and Dax agrees to marry Worf.
Keep your ears open: “We’ve just barely said our vows, and we’re already having our first fight! We’re really married!”
Rom’s response to Leeta’s unwillingness to leave the station without him.
Welcome aboard: It’s recurring character theatre! In fact, all of the guests are recurring regulars: Marc Alaimo as Dukat, Casey Biggs as Damar, Jeffrey Combs as Weyoun, Aron Eisenberg as Nog (for the fourth week in a row!), Max Grodénchik as Rom, J.G. Hertzler as Martok, Chase Masterson as Leeta, Andrew J. Robinson as Garak, and Melanie Smith as Ziyal.
Trivial matters: The Dominion War officially begins with this episode. It will not end until the series finale “What You Leave Behind.”
Sisko’s baseball, which has been a fixture on his desk since the alien disguised as Buck Bokai gave it to him in “If Wishes were Horses,” is left behind as a symbol of his command and his desire to return. Dukat gets the message, and he’ll be the one to hand the ball back to Sisko when the Federation retakes the station in “Sacrifice of Angels.” This symbolism will be turned on its ear in “Tears of the Prophets” at the end of season six when Sisko takes the baseball with him when he takes a leave of absence. The baseball is again used to symbolize Sisko’s presence in the post-finale fiction, in Avatar and Unity by S.D. Perry, as well as your humble rewatcher’s novella “Horn and Ivory.”
This is Robert Hewitt Wolfe’s last writing credit as a member of the staff. He left the show to develop the syndicated Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda for Tribune Entertainment. He will also write the seventh-season episode “Field of Fire” as a freelancer. Wolfe made a cameo in this episode as an injured crewmember.
Sisko quotes Thomas Paine’s 1776 pamphlet The American Crisis in his log entry: “These are the times that try men’s souls.” Meanwhile, Rom paraphrases Rick’s farewell speech to Ilsa from Casablanca when he convinces Leeta to leave the station (not the first time DS9 has referenced that film...).
Walk with the Prophets: “I will not rest until I stand with you again.” What an intense season finale. This episode is a remarkable table setter, as there’s no actual plot, exactly, but things finally happen that have been building for ages. It’s less an episode than a collection of set pieces, but they are brilliant set pieces.
Every character gets a good moment, even if it’s just Bashir reminding Jake that his name is spelled with an I for future reference in his reportage. Kira and Odo finally address the elephant in the room of the events of “Children of Time.” Nog gets to be the reliable cadet, helping out in a crisis and doing everything he’s told, from fetching Sisko’s coffee to helping run Ops while everyone else is busy getting stuff ready. Jake gets himself a new job, which puts him in a difficult place at the end of the episode. Dax gets to console Kira and set the minefield and finally accept Worf’s never-actually-asked proposal. Worf himself gets to seriously kick ass at the tactical station, while Martok rides to Dax’s rescue. O’Brien makes a simple yet heartfelt statement to Sisko about how much he misses Keiko and the kids. Garak gets to be snarky (I especially love his response to Odo’s astonished question as to whether or not he’d shoot someone in the back), and has the benefit of both Ziyal and Odo as his straight man at various times. Dukat and Damar get to play bully, with Weyoun as the stern parent reminding them that they have to put their toys away when they’re done.
Several of the best bits are with Quark and Rom, actually. Quark’s disapproval of Rom’s marriage, not to mention his getting his bar ready for a Dominion takeover of the station (smuggling in yamok sauce, dumping all the root beer), is to be expected, but one of the finest moments of the episode is when he quietly kisses Rom on the top of the head, his way of thanking his brother for staying on the station and looking out for him. Plus, Rom is the best part of the Manhattan-Project-esque scene where Dax, O’Brien, and Rom try to figure out how to mine the wormhole.
But the center of it all is Sisko, trying to fulfill his mandate to protect Bajor and still act as the vanguard of the Alpha Quadrant’s defense against the Dominion. The scene where he and Weyoun pretend to be diplomatic is a masterpiece of insincere sincerity from both Avery Brooks and Jeffrey Combs.
The battle sequence is also impressive, a tense exchange, as Sisko gives up the station, but not without doing considerable damage to the enemy on the way out. And then there’s that magnificent last scene in the prefect’s office where Dukat finds the baseball, and then cutting to Sisko in the Defiant’s center seat as it joins a huge Starfleet/Klingon fleet.
It’s going to be quite a ride...
Warp factor rating: 10
Keith R.A. DeCandido is at Shore Leave 36 this weekend at the Hunt Valley Inn just north of Baltimore. Other guests include Trek actors Leonard Nimoy (via Skype) and Robert Picardo, Stargate actors Richard Dean Anderson, Teryl Rothery, and Michael Welch, Torchwood actor Eve Myles, and Grimm actor Silas Weir Mitchell; fellow Trek novelists Christopher L. Bennett, Kirsten Beyer, Greg Cox, Peter David, Kevin Dilmore, Michael Jan Friedman, Dave Galanter, Robert Greenberger, Jeffrey Lang, William Leisner, David Mack, Melissa Scott, Dayton Ward, Howard Weinstein, and David Niall Wilson, plus a ton more author guests, science guests, artist guests, and performers (among the latter, your humble rewatcher’s band Boogie Knights). Click here for Keith’s schedule.