Category Archives: 1994

“The Search”

“We searched the stars, and found none like ourselves … and then we created an oppressive empire bent on subjugating solids.”

Part one: With the Dominion threat looming, Sisko brings the Defiant, a prototype Starfleet warship, to DS9. The ship has a cloaking device (on loan from the Romulans) and Sisko’s mission is to find the Dominion’s Founders and work out a deal. On board the Defiant in the Gamma Quadrant, Odo starts acting strangely and feels an odd pull toward the Omarion Nebula. As it gets closer to finding the Founders, the Defiant loses a short battle with the Jem’Hadar. Odo and Kira escape in a shuttle to find their way to the nebula … where Odo meets a group of people who look just like him. After years of searching, our favorite shapeshifter is home.

Part two: Back on DS9, Sisko and Co. (minus Kira and Odo) are told that their mission succeeded and the Dominion is set to establish an alliance with all the great Alpha Quadrant powers, minus the Romulans, for some reason. Meanwhile, Odo learns about his origins and finds that his people are xenophobes who distrusts solids. He was sent out, he’s told, as a group of 100 infant “Changelings” and wasn’t expected to return for hundreds of years. Back on the station, Sisko and Co. decide the treaty with the Dominion would give up too much — especially after they learn the Federation is going to pull out of the Bajoran system. The group steals a runabout and collapses the entrance to the wormhole. Back on the planet, Kira and Odo discover our heroes being held captive — and learn the whole ordeal on DS9 was a simulation to test their responses. Then, it’s learned that Odo’s people are actually the Founders(!). The female Changeling (Salome Jens) who’s been instructing Odo allows the group to leave … but warns that the Dominion won’t be as lenient next time.

“Benjamin, I think it’s time that we all act like we know better than everyone else in the Federation and blow up the nice wormhole aliens you met way back when.”

Why it’s important

You want big dominoes — then this two-parter is for you, even if the ending to part two is sort of a cheat.

The introduction of the Defiant (which is pretty badass) and other items spawning from Sisko’s return — a relationship with the Romulans regarding the Dominion, the introduction of Michael Eddington (Kenneth Marshall), Starfleet’s new security chief at DS9 — shows the magnitude of what happened in “The Jem’Hadar”. DS9 had a lot of turning points, but the first part of “The Search” is as big as any in the series — even without the introduction of Odo’s people. And, of course, they’re not just Odo’s people. The Changelings turn out to be the Founders of the Dominion! Talk about a jaw-dropping couple of hours (or, couple of 45 minutes).

DS9 was the best Trek series at showing consequences. Sometimes, the creators stacked the deck too much against our heroes only to have to backpedal — the threat of Changeling infiltrators in the middle seasons — a threat that largely passed — is the best example. But, what we see here is really compelling storytelling that was ahead of its time. What we start seeing in the third season of DS9 — and particularly, in the fifth, sixth and seventh seasons — was more akin to the great serial dramas of the 2000s than the episodic fare of the 1980s and 1990s.

The super cool starship Defiant.

What doesn’t hold up

Anyone who loved the rebooted “Battlestar Galactica” will love the events of these episodes and will likely see similar flaws. Not shockingly, Ronald D. Moore, the originator of the new BSG, wrote the teleplay for part one. Like BSG, these two episodes are compelling, but not without their shares of logical flaws and outright goofiness. A quick list:

1) Sisko’s mission is to reach out to the Founders and create a dialog — essentially, a peace mission. To do so, they send him on a ship that is armed to the teeth. Not exactly an olive branch. Meanwhile, the ship is barely operational! This is something that we saw a lot of in the Trek movies — the Enterprise would be sent on a key mission despite not having a full crew or being fully operational — and it was as goofy then as it is here.

2) Part one begins with Kira talking with the senior staff (minus Sisko) about how they could defend the station against a Dominion attack. It’s necessary for exposition (I guess) but it seems odd to have the convo apparently two months after the events of “The Jem’Hadar”. What had they been doing for two months? It’s not weird that the conversations were ongoing — but the dialog would seem to indicate that they took forever to reach pretty obvious conclusions.

3) Things actually get stranger in part two. While the stuff on the Changeling planet (until the end) is fine, the “events” on the station are really strange. Sisko (who’s not even a captain, let alone an admiral) is just too annoyed about being kept out of the loop during the “peace negotiations”. Not only is he low-ranking (relatively speaking) he was in a shuttle with a Bashir for most of the talks. Would it even have made sense to just throw him in?

4) Then, as the Dominion’s experiment continues, it’s hard to believe that Sisko and Co. would go as rogue as they did. O’Brien getting beat up by the Jem’Hadar was clearly shocking — as was the murder of the Romulan T’Rul (Martha Hackett). But the crew acts like they are a helluva lot smarter than their superiors. At this point in the series, Sisko’s connection to the Bajoran faith is still tenuous — he only begrudgingly accepts the Emissary stuff — so it’s not totally out of the question that he’d blow up the wormhole. But the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.

5) Then, there’s the whole business of how the Dominion left the Defiant in orbit (and possibly repaired it?) allowing our heroes to leave and (apparently?) return to DS9 after Odo gets the female Changeling to let them go. The Defiant was “dead in space” at the end of part one, according to Odo, so did the Dominion repair it? But more than that, did the Dominion expect to let Sisko and Co. return after the experiment? Shouldn’t they have been tearing the ship apart to learn about Starfleet’s new defensive capabilities? It’s not at all a stretch to say the Dominion hadn’t seen a ship like the Defiant before.

Final thoughts

As noted, this two-parter is entertaining but it’s just got a ton of logical issues. The Sisko and Co. being too big for their britches shows up later in season three — and we saw a touch of this at the beginning of season two when Sisko used the flimsiest excuse to remain on the station despite orders (and the Prime Directive) that should have kept him out of an internal Bajoran matter.

As DS9 progresses, Sisko’s role in Starfleet and Federation grows enough where it’s not hard to figure he could go on to some of the big things that he did. But, at this point, he’s two years off being stationed in a back alley of space as a mid-level administrator!

Coming later this week …

Enabaran Tain takes the fun to the Dominion.

“The Jem’Hadar”

Avery Brooks, Shit Just Got Real Face No. 5.

Sisko takes Jake on a trip to the Gamma Quadrant, and Quark and his nephew Nog (Aron Eisenberg) horn in on the fun. On a nearby planet, Sisko and Quark are taken captive by some nasty looking aliens called the Jem’Hadar, apparently the foot soldiers for the Dominion, a big, bad Gamma Quadrant empire first mentioned in passing earlier in season two. Meanwhile, a Jem’Hadar ship comes through the wormhole and a representative beams into Ops and tells Kira that the Dominion will no longer tolerate any travel to the Gamma Quadrant. Sisko will serve as an example of those who defy the Dominion. Starfleet sends the Galaxy-class Odyssey to DS9 and the ship and the two remaining runabouts go to retrieve Sisko’s party. Sisko and Quark — with the help of another captive, Eris (Molly Hagan) — have already escaped and are quickly retrieved (along with Jake and Nog). With the Odyssey and the runabouts retreating, a Jem’Hadar ship makes a suicide run at the Odyssey, destroying the ship and making it clear how far the Dominion is willing to go. Back on the station, it’s learned that Eris is actually a spy, and she beams away before she can be captured. With the Dominion apparently poised to attack, Sisko vows to be ready.

Could have been worse. The Odyssey could have been destroyed because the senior staff forgot they could remodulate the damn shields …

Why it’s important

As noted in the previous two reviews, the final third of DS9’s second season cements the station as a major galactic crossroads. With the Cardassians and the Maquis already nearby, the proximity to the wormhole now means DS9 will be the place of the first battle if and when the Dominion attacks (a point Sisko makes). DS9, which was a backwater of the galaxy when the series premiered, has become a very, very important place.

The introduction of the Dominion, the Jem’Hadar, the Founders (by name) and the Vorta (we learn later that Eris is a member of that race) are all huge events. With one exception (which we’ll address) everything that we see here mostly tracks with what we see over the next five seasons.

“Next time I say, ‘Let’s go to Bolivia’ … “

What doesn’t hold up

The creators made a very interesting choice in writing the Dominion’s motivations. Essentially, the Dominion says it will consider any further incursions in the Gamma Quadrant an act of war. Setting aside the actions taken by the Jem’Hadar before making these demands — capturing Sisko, destroying a Bajoran colony in the Gamma Quadrant, etc. — are the Dominion’s actions THAT different than another space-faring empire/organization declaring sovereign borders?

There are a couple ways that you can justify the Federation’s behavior, even if the creators (unfortunately) never bothered doing so. Considering that Alpha Quadrant races have been venturing into the Gamma Quadrant for two years without encountering the Dominion, we can assume that the Dominion’s territory doesn’t include the area right outside the wormhole. Indeed, later episodes indicate Starfleet knows the Dominion’s borders. So, is the idea that the Federation and other Alpha Quadrant races won’t abide by the Dominion’s warning because they don’t believe the claim is valid — as it’s overly broad?

That’s the only argument that really makes even a little sense. And keep in mind that the Dominion likely would have not started hostilities with the Federation if incursions through the wormhole had ceased. Now, perhaps you could argue that the Dominion later appears untrustworthy and would have attacked anyway. But, at this point in DS9, our heroes don’t know anything about the Dominion — and neither do we.

With that conceit pushed aside, there’s only one real problem with what we see here and what we see later. Eris, on board DS9 at the end of this episode, encounters Odo — and doesn’t seem to treat him as we later learn she should. Here’s why (spoiler alert) …

Next season, Odo learns that he is actually a Changeling, and Changelings are the Founders mentioned in this episode. In other words, the Changelings are the leaders of the Dominion. And we also learn later that the Jem’Hadar and the Vorta (of which, Eris is one) are bred to worship the Founders.

So, either Eris didn’t know that Odo was a Founder, or she had a great poker face — which doesn’t seem likely, considering the way Vorta almost instinctively fall all over the Founders in later seasons. One possibility is that the rest of the Founders, who are better shapeshifters than Odo, didn’t appear like Odo when they interacted with “solids” — and that all the Changelings we see going forward mirror Odo’s look. I suppose there are reasons they might do that — to make Odo feel a stronger connection, for example — but it’s never really explained.

Really, the answer is simpler. The creators either hadn’t decided to make Odo’s race the leaders of the Dominion before writing this episode OR they got sloppy later. Or both.

Final thoughts

This is another strong — and consequential — episode toward the end of DS9’s second season. But I can see why fans didn’t think DS9 fit in with Roddenberry’s vision. The series would be the first, and only, in Star Trek in which we see a full-scale war. Of course, that’s largely put in motion here.

Frankly, though, after three seasons of TOS (and, at this point, six movies) and seven seasons of TNG, the creators probably needed to do something beyond the standard exploration that we saw in the first two series. Otherwise, DS9 would have been old hat. Put another way, DS9 lived up to its premise — whether fans liked the actual premise or not. Voyager, the fourth series, notoriously tried to  have its cake and eat it, too, for seven years and essentially pissed all over its premise.

Coming next week …

Sisko and Co. gear up for the looming Dominion threat.


“You want to go back to your universe, my dear? I bet you can’t get a decent milk bath over there … “

A runabout accident pulls Kira and Bashir into the parallel universe that Kirk and Co. visited way back in “Mirror, Mirror”. Turns out Kirk’s actions — hilariously — totally backfired. Mirror/bearded Spock tried the whole peace thing Kirk suggested, but the Cardassians and the Klingons formed an alliance and now run things, with “Terrans” as slaves. DS9 is run by a mirror version of Kira — Bajor is a part of the alliance — with Garak as first officer, Odo as overseer in the ore-processing center, O’Brien as a well-trusted slave and Sisko as a sort of pirate who works (ahem) for Kira. Kira and Bashir eventually escape with the help of Sisko and O’Brien — who appear poised to disrupt the universe’s status quo.

For the next five years, Avery Brooks would only call Colm Meaney, “Smiley”.

Why it’s important

As noted above, this episode shows how Kirk changed the course of an entire quadrant (maybe more) in the mirror universe — and how Kira and Bashir essentially do the same thing with their encounter. We don’t see it in this episode, but mirror Sisko and O’Brien go on to lead a rebellion against the Klingon/Cardassian alliance with humans (and some other apparently subjugated races) along for the ride. More on that next season …

And while this episode is significant, it’s mostly fun because of the mirror versions of our favorite characters (like the TOS episode) but with a dark DS9 tint to the image. More on that in a moment …


What doesn’t hold up

The alliance, as we see in later episodes, is just sort of incompetent. It’s ridiculous that the runabout Kira and Bashir used to travel to the other universe wouldn’t have been dissected for technical secrets — or, at least, placed somewhere out of reach to prevent Kira and Bashir from escaping. Beyond that, Kira and Bashir clearly mention the wormhole — and mirror Kira and Garak don’t do anything to find out what the hell they’re talking about. Finding the wormhole would have been a HUGE deal for the alliance. It is interesting to think, though how the prophets built the wormhole in the evil universe. Maybe the celestial temple has been replaced by an evil place where the pah-wraiths hang out?

And, of course, the big conceit — just as it was in “Mirror, Mirror” — is that so many of our heroes would be on the station. To DS9’s credit in this episode, mirror versions of Dax and Bashir don’t show up. Of course, that’ll change …

Final thoughts

I really love this episode because it’s so off the hinge in a way that mostly makes sense. The craziness of the evil universe here was never as well done in subsequent episodes, as we see just the right combo of seriousness and comic-book characterization. “Crossover” almost has a film noir feel to it, and all of the characters are just so well-conceived in a bizarro-world kind of way. There are great moments — from Sisko saying he never had feelings to hurt to Kira’s casual brutality to Odo’s ruthlessness to O’Brien’s defeatism. The characters are similar to the versions we know and love — but they’re appropriately tweaked for the lives they would have led. Only Garak — who comes across as an inept brute — is kind of boring.

Lastly, I always thought this was an example of the second-generation Trek creators poking fun at TOS. Throughout that series, Kirk’s sense of moral righteousness prompted him to do what he thought was right without really analyzing the consequences. “Mirror, Mirror” — in which decides to mess with a universe he’s been in for like six hours — was the most drastic example. And it led to nearly all of humanity being enslaved! Way to go, Jimbo.

Coming later this week …

Sisko, Jake, Quark and Nog go camping. And it’s a swell time and nothing goes wrong.

“The Wire”

So many secrets, so little time.

Garak (Andrew J. Robinson) the Cardassian-in-exile/enigma on DS9 and (sort of) friend of Bashir, starts having medical issues. He enlists Quark to get a piece of technology and sets off alarms when Bashir and Odo learn the item is classified by the notorious Obsidian Order, the “all-seeing eyes and ears” of the Cardassian Empire. Garak tells Bashir that the piece of equipment is a brain implant installed to help him get through torture in his past life as an agent of the Obsidian Order. He’s used it continuously for two years — to cope with his exile — and it’s breaking down. Bashir helps Garak through the withdrawal (and hears varying accounts of why he’s in exile) and eventually heads to see Garak’s old Obsidian Order boss Enabaran Tain (Paul Dooley). Tain helps Bashir because he wants Garak to live out his life in miserable exile on DS9. A recovered Garak, of course, casts doubts on most of what Bashir learned about him during the experience. But Garak’s shadiness is all the shadier afterward.

Why it’s important

This episode isn’t the first time we meet Garak (that was back in “Past Prologue” in the first season). But this cements him as a power player and a key recurring character on DS9. Garak is part of some of DS9’s biggest events over the years, and Robinson was one of DS9’s best actors.

The episode is also hugely important as it introduces the Obsidian Order and Tain. We see Tain again in DS9’s third season and again in the fifth, and his involvement in Alpha Quadrant dealings with the Dominion is hugely significant. More on that in future reviews.

One other small point. This is a nice episode in further establishing Odo’s credentials as someone who’s seriously plugged into events and information in the Alpha Quadrant (with a special emphasis on Cardassia).

“I’m very confident that everything I’ll attempt to do in the coming years will be quite successful.”

What doesn’t hold up

The episode suffers from trying to get some of the regular cast involved where they’re not really needed. The scenes with Sisko, Dax and Kira are just completely superfluous, and the scene with O’Brien isn’t much better. Beyond that, Bashir’s interest in Garak’s problem early in the episode isn’t handled that well. Bashir became one of DS9’s stronger characters — and the transition was starting in season two. But you can still see some of the annoying qualities that made eyes roll in the first season and half of the second.

Last point — and this is kind of minor — DS9 often tried to make foreign spy agencies/governments appear more ominous than they could have possibly been. Tain knowing so much about Bashir was just hard to swallow. The implication is that DS9 is filled with spies taking note of minor information all the time.

“Do you have any idea how much time Armin and I spend with the makeup people, Siddig?”

Final thoughts

This isn’t a great episode, but it’s a good one that puts some key things in place going forward. While we don’t learn here — and never fully learn — why Garak is in exile in the first place, we learn that he was a spy and a key operative in one of Cardassia’s most notorious organizations. That makes his “man of many talents” schtick work, to say nothing of his general cageyness.

Garak and Tain (though he shows up only a few times) were really great supporting characters on a series that would go on to be filled with great supporting characters. As mentioned in our last review, DS9 starts to get its footing in the final third of the second season because it puts so much in place for what we would see later. This episode is a huge domino.

Coming next week …

We return to the mirror universe in one of DS9’s classic episodes.

“The Maquis”

"Cal, you've come a long ways since your days with those nerds at Tri-Lamb"
“Cal, you’ve come a long way since your days with those nerds at Tri-Lamb”

The destruction of a Cardassian freighter near DS9 is learned to have been caused by Federation citizens turned terrorists, calling themselves the Maquis. The citizens opted to stay on planets given to the Cardassians in a treaty with the Federation — and they’re taking up arms in response to subsequent treatment by the Cardassians. Sisko fears that tensions stoked by the terrorists will cause another war with Cardassia, so he teams up with Gul Dukat (Marc Alaimo) to stop the Maquis. But he learns that his old friend and fellow Starfleet officer Calvin Hudson (Bernie Casey) is one of the terrorists and plans to attack a weapons depot the Cardassians have placed on one of their colonies. Sisko takes DS9’s three runabouts and stops Hudson from attacking the depot, and allows Hudson to escape. Sisko is commended for his actions in preventing a war — but wonders if he simply delayed the inevitable.

"Cal do you know how much these uniforms cost?! I could've returned it for store credit!"
“Cal, do you know how much these uniforms cost?! I could’ve returned it for store credit!”

Why it’s important

If anyone questions’s DS9’s importance in Trek lore, they should watch this two-parter. It’s the first time we see DS9 as a sort of crossroads in galactic politics. It’s the nearest Federation outpost to the Cardassian border, so Sisko and Co.  are drawn in — even though it’s unlikely their roles could have been anticipated by anyone when Starfleet set up shop at DS9 a little more than a year earlier.

The Maquis are a huge Trek domino, of course. The events here are set in motion by TNG’s “Journey’s End” and are furthered by TNG’s “Preemptive Strike”. The second season of DS9 and seventh season of TNG are interesting as they’re the most coordinated concurrent seasons in Trek history. With Voyager taking place out of the Alpha Quadrant, this kind of cross-cutting between series never happened again. But, of course, Voyager’s very premise — a Starfleet crew and and a Maquis crew forced to work together on the other side of the galaxy — was set in motion by the events of this DS9 two-parter and the two related TNG episodes.

Beyond that, the Maquis are a major force in DS9. They helped destabilize the Cardassian Empire, which becomes part of the Dominion three years later BECAUSE of its instability. And the guy who forged the Cardassian/Dominion alliance was Gul Dukat … who really comes into his own as a major DS9 player in these episodes. His scenes with Sisko really were incredibly well acted and well written.

Prior to “The Maquis”, Dukat was really a recurring character/Cardassian. His personality wasn’t fleshed out — he was just the former Cardassian prefect of Bajor who appeared on view screens here and there. But this episode established him as a major foil for Sisko and the DS9 crew. One, who for a couple seasons, was an ally. This, of course, was one of DS9’s strengths. No other Trek series was so good at embracing shades of grey. We’ll discuss another one of those shades, Garak, in our next review.

"I've got this aide, Damar, he'd love this Kanar!"
“I’ve got this aide, Damar, he’d love this Kanar!”

What doesn’t hold up

Bernie Casey isn’t great in this episode, but that’s largely forgivable. The biggest problem after that is the issue of scope — something DS9 struggled with early on.

Sisko and Co. must take on the Maquis with the station’s three runabouts. While they are successful in doing so, it’s a really close call — and only works because the Maquis have limited resources. It’s kind of goofy to think that Starfleet wouldn’t have sent a starship to deal with the Maquis. Had that happened, the ship would have pretty easily handled a couple of (well-armed) shuttles — but, then, Sisko and company would have likely been left on the sidelines.

This, of course, is addressed in season three when Sisko brings the Defiant to DS9 to address the Dominion situation. But it’s hard to swallow that Starfleet couldn’t have devoted more resources to diffuse matters with Hudson here. We know there are Federation starships in the general area (as the Enterprise spends much of the seventh season dealing with Cardassian matters).

Final thoughts

I’ve had friends ask me when they should start watching DS9, and I usually tell them that these two episodes represent the turning point. There are definitely some good episodes in the first season-plus — notably, the Bajoran political stuff from the end of season one into season two. But I understand why those episodes don’t have the mass appeal that we got starting in this two-parter.

This is also a great example of the DS9 characters getting their footing. The crew was never going to be as conflict-free as the TNG gang, nor did it need to be (nor was it designed to be). But the over-the-top writing/acting from season one is gone here. The scene in part one where the senior staff is clearly at odds — I love when O’Brien calls Odo out for security breaches — is great. No other Trek series did this kind of thing as well.

Sisko’s growing importance is shown here. He’s not just some bureaucrat tasked with getting Bajor ready for Federation membership. He’s a guy who must deal with terrorist groups and Cardassian reactions (in addition to Bajor). Later, of course, he becomes the guy to deal with the Dominion threat.

Last point. You’ll notice that many of the next several episodes make the tapestry, as DS9 enters a stretch of really consequential stories. You could argue that DS9 becoming more consequential was the key to its improved performance.

Coming later this week …

We finally learn what’s up with Garak. Sort of. Maybe.