“General, soldiering has one great trap: to be a good soldier you must love the army. To be a good commander, you must be willing to order the death of the thing you love. We do not fear our own death you and I. But there comes a time… We are never quite prepared for so many to die.” – Michael Shaara, The Killer Angels
Originally broadcast on October 7,1996 this is The Ship.
Station log Stardate 50049.3 The Ship
Sisko and crew battle against the Jem’Hadar upon discovering one of the enemies crashed ships in the Gamma Quadrant.
Sisko and a team survey planets for mining opportunities. As they search the planet they soon witness a ship crash on the planet. Investigating, they discover it to be a Jem’Hadar warship.
Exploring the ship, they soon discover that the entire crew is dead from an inertial dampener failure. Calling for the Defiant to help recover the ship, their runabout is soon attacked by another Jem’Hadar ship, stranding Sisko and his team. Within moments a Jem’Hadar attack force beams down, driving the small Federation crew into the crashed enemy ship. As they withdrawal into the ship, Engineer Muniz takes a hit on his side.
Trapped in the downed enemy vessel, Sisko,Worf, Dax, O’Brien and Muniz try to find a way out. Miles begins to treat Muniz’ wound but soon discovers that the wound will not stop bleeding. Out of the blue they are contacted by a Vorta named Kilana who identifies herself as the Vorta in charge and asks Sisko to meet her on neutral ground to talk ‘like civilized people’.
Kilana offers to escort the crew to DS9 if they voluntarily relinquish the downed ship but Sisko refuses explaining to Kilana that they have every right to claim the downed ship. She, of course, disagrees and, while they discuss the matter a lone Jem’Hadar soldier beams aboard the crashed vessel.
On the ship, a fight begins when O’Brien and Dax discover a sensor device planted by the Jem’Hadar. Narrowly beating the infiltrator with the help of the wounded Muniz, Miles determines that the sensor managed to pull some information before shutting down but is not clear what it was for. Dax points out that the invading Jem’hadar soldier only carried a knife and that makes her suspicious that there is something very valuable to them aboard.
Miles begins to treat Muniz who is getting worse. It is clear that the young officer does not have much of a chance as the wound will not stop bleeding. Even with the Defiant days away, Miles is concerned that they do not have time to save him. Sisko orders the Chief Engineer to focus on repairing the ship to get them off the planet.
Kilana calls on Sisko again and offers to meet with him unaccompanied. She apologizes that she sent the soldier into the ship and admits her mistake. She makes it clear that there is something in the ship that they want and tries to make a deal with the Captain. Unable to reach a compromise, Kilana orders an orbital attack on the ship and soon the ships systems begin shutting down. Sisko realizes that Kilana will not allow the ship to be destroyed with whatever they want still on board and instructs Miles to continue repairs.
As the pressure mounts, the crew-members begin to fight among themselves but Sisko takes command giving each member something to do. It is clear that Muniz doesn’t have long and Sisko is determined to do all he can to save his young crewman.
Repairing the engines, Sisko and crew begin the launch sequence and try to pull the ship from it’s grave. Pushing the engines to the max, they only manage to damage the engines further and now have to buckle down until the Defiant arrives. Things go from bad to worse when Miles finds that Muniz has passed away.
As Sisko and Dax lament the death of Muniz, they soon discover what the Jem’Hadar are after, all along a Founder has been on board and the Changeling is dying. As Sisko and Dax look on, the Changeling turns to ash. Kilana beams in and informs Sisko that the Jem’Hadar have killed themselves for allowing a Founder to die. She explains that had Sisko trusted her, the Founder may have lived. Sisko is saddened by the revelation that, had they all trusted one another, no one would have died.
Sisko allows Kilana to remove some of the remains of the Founder to take back with her and she departs. Soon the Defiant arrives and begins to escort the Jem’Hadar vessel back to DS9. On-board, Sisko finds himself unable to get past the casualties of this minor skirmish. Dax assures him that those five deaths could save millions in the long run but Sisko struggles with this moral dilemma. These were members of his crew and he got to know each one on a personal level despite being warned not to in his days at the Academy. Dax assures her Captain that their deaths were not in vain as these officers died for something they believed in, this does not make it easier but Sisko is appreciative.
In the end, despite their disagreements with one another, O’Brien and Worf sit with Muniz’ Body performing a wake in his honor.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
This episode shows why Sisko is one of the finest Captains in Starfleet. So far, in both Star Trek the Original Series and The Next Generation, we have seen the deaths of many crew-members. Many of those deaths were relegated to minor inconveniences or, at best a brief pause by Kirk or Picard before jumping back into action. While Picard did acknowledge the ‘minor’ casualties on occasion, even holding a ceremony for Tasha Yar, it was rare for us to really get a sense of sorrow for those that died during one of the missions, or even in the Battles with the Borg. We know he felt it, but it seems that The Captain of the Enterprise D listened to the Ethics Instructor in Starfleet Academy, ‘Always maintain emotional distance between yourself and those under your command.’
Enter Benjamin Sisko. While Ben Sisko has proven himself as a no-nonsense commander aboard the former Cardassian Space Station, he genuinely struggles with the loss of his crew, no matter how minor or how new. Now, I have no doubt that Kirk or Picard had hard times in the quiet moments as they reconciled with themselves and their decisions that day but the difference is, we never got a chance to really see that side of these commanders. We only saw the brave, daring, take charge hero and only on occasion did we witness the human being underneath. This is even more true for Kirk than Picard but it is only with Sisko that we find the depth of pain that a commanding officer must go through when sending their people on missions they may never come back from. Thankfully, all three serve right along side their crew, never asking any of them to do anything they would not do themselves.
This episode also gives insight into the Vorta and Jem’hadar’s dedication to the Founders. To them, the Founders are Gods but we never realized just how deep this faith was until this episode. Allowing a Founder to die is the greatest defeat a Jem’Hadar soldier could face and this is shown in full for the first time on the series.
Finally, the deepest meaning of the show is all about trust. Had Sisko trusted Kilana or Kilana trusted Sisko, even a little, all of the deaths in this event could have been prevented. However, due to the constant lies and deception, this shows that there is little chance for the Dominion and the Federation to ever come to terms with one another and this episode acts as an early indicator for what is to come.
All in all, fantastic episode with just the right amount of drama, making it one of the strongest this season, if not the series thus far.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- My biggest question is,Why the heck did they not take the Defiant in the first place? I mean, sure it was a survey mission but for that many senior officers to travel to the Gamma Quadrant, surely the Defiant would have been the best choice in ships to take. I mean, sure they didn’t want to leave DS9 undefended but yeesh, this seemed a little extreme.
- This is not the last we will see of the captured Jem’Hadar attack ship. Those crewman did not die in vain!
- So, one really strange thing in this episode. Ensign Hoya, who died on the runabout, was a Benzite. It was established in STNG that Benzites must wear a device that allows them to breath the in an oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere. However, Hoya is not wearing such a device. Now, Memory Alpha mentions that this device seems to have been overcome by the 2370’s but it seems more like an oversight to me than anything else. Or maybe Hoya was not a full Benzite?
- This marks the final episode for Crewman Muniz. O’Brien will never be able to replace you. RIP.
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: Looking for par’Mach in All the Wrong Places
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Late To The Game 10/23/2021 (Originally published 10/9/2019)
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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