The return of Red Squadron and a ship of fools. Originally airing on May 6, 1998, this is Valiant.
Station Log Stardate 51825.4 Valiant
Jake and Nog find themselves aboard a Defiant Class vessel crewed with Academy Cadets who have decided to continue the ships original mission despite knowing they should return to Star Fleet.
Quark is facing a bad day when no one has arrived to fix his replicators. He soon learns that Nog had not arrived due to being sent on a special mission with Jake to Ferenginar.
Leaving Starbase 257, Jake and Nog head off toward Ferenginar in the USS Shenandoah with a special diplomatic message for The Grand Nagus. Nog is upset when he learns that Jake only agreed to join him as the young Sisko wanted an interview with the Nagus himself. Their argument is soon interrupted when they come in contact with a Jem’Hadar patrol and one of the enemy ships come after them.
Just as things look bleak, a Defiant class ship arrives out of nowhere and manages to rescue Jake and Nog. They are shocked when they find the ship is under the command of a group of cadets with no actual officers on board. Immediately the acting Captain, Tim Watters, informs Nog that he was placed under command by the late Captain Ramirez and has since been leading the cadets as their new CO.
After ordering Jake to be taken back to sickbay to have his wounds looked at, Captain Watters assigns Nog to the Engine room as the new Chief Engineer much to the young Ferengi’s surprise. Nog clearly has knowledge about Defiant Class ship systems and heads to his new assignment. Before he leaves, he finds out that Watters’ mission is to collect data on a new Dominion Battleship but also learns that Starfleet has no idea that the original crew has died. Nog soon goes to Engineering and manages to get the ship’s drive operating again.
After being treated, Jake has lunch with Transporter Chief Collins where he learns she is from the Lunar colonies. Talking with her, she reminisces about her life on the Moon and soon becomes melancholy causing her to become homesick. Despite the acting Chief Medical officers objection, she takes some pills from the cabinet and returns to duty indicating that she has been feeling homesick.
Soon Jake is summoned to the Captains quarters where Watters and Farris indicate that Jake is causing emotional turmoil among the crew members. They ask him to keep his distance and just watch and write about the events around him instead of being a part of it. Dismissing Jake, we soon learn that Watters has not been getting enough sleep, instead has been using performance enhancing drugs to maintain his presence on the bridge.
Jake is shocked to learn that Nog has joined the crew and just as the two begin to discuss the matter, red alert is sounded. Jake and Nog rush to the bridge where they learn they are shadowing a Dominion ship. It is soon clear that Jake is not welcome on the bridge when he is asked to leave.
Captain Watters pulls his crew together and informs them of their mission. They plan to attack the new Jem’Hadar ship with the hopes to destroy the new Dominion War ship. Nog questions the Captains motives and is soon shot down. Jake also speaks up and informs Captain Watters that this is a suicide mission that not even Ben Sisko would attempt. Using his power over the cadets, Captain Watters gets the crew chanting ‘Red Squad’ knowing that they will follow him no matter what.
In engineering Jake tries to convince Nog that Watters is not fit for command but what the young Sisko does not know is that Watters is listening to their conversation. It is soon clear that Nog has drank the Koolaid and will not budge from his assignment as Chief Engineer. As Jake leaves he is soon stopped by two members of the crew who take him to the brig.
The crew begin preparing for their mission, fully aware that they are in grave danger but following Watters no matter what. Once they are ready, Watters commands the Valiant to go in for the attack. After a difficult battle, the Valiant manages to damage the Jem’Hadar ship but not destroy it. The warship heads in for an attack and in the process kills the Captain along with many of the ships crew. It soon becomes apparent that there is no chance for the Valiant to survive the attack and Nog grabs Collins and Jake taking them to emergency escape pods.
With the ship destroyed, it is not long before the USS Defiant locates the escape pod. Rescuing his son, Nog and Collins, Ben Sisko welcomes them on board. Jake and Nog make up with Nog asking Jake to tell the story of how the Valiant was led off of a cliff by a wayward Captain. Collins rebukes, claiming that Watters was a great man who’s crew failed him. Nog tells Jake to tell both sides of the story and let the readers decide for themselves.
Walking from the room, Nog tells Collins that Watters may have been a hero and a great man, but he was a bad Captain.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
This is a great example of a solid one off episode that really focuses on character development while not forgetting the over-arching narrative. While it does not continue the Pah-wraith narrative setup in the previous episode, it reminds us that the Dominion War is still a very major part of the events unfolding.
Focusing on Nog and his new devotion to Star Fleet, we get a good look into how his Ferengi and Star Fleet sides collide from time to time. Ferengi’s in general are opportunists, people who stop at nothing to gain the better footing for themselves in all things. Nog, by his very nature, is a Ferengi so, when faced with a chance to be in a higher position, he is torn between doing what is right and doing what is self serving. In his confrontations with ‘Captain’ Watters, we see his personal battle time and again.
Here is a young man who’s only wish is for someone to be proud of him. All of his life he has watched his father be berated and belittled by Nog’s Mother, Nog’s Uncle and just about everyone else who comes in contact with his father Rom. Determined to never be the pushover he perceives his father to be, Nog has taken Ben Sisko as his role model and has since been trying to live up to an ideal he has created in his own mind. It is not until this episode that we really get a chance to see this internal struggle and, while he does slip falling for ‘Captain’ Watter’s natural charisma, Nog finally realizes that those ideals are not there to die for, but to live for instead. We see much more of Nog’s journey in the episodes ahead and frankly, I am sad we will not see more of his character in future series.
As for Jake, we finally get a chance to see that he is indeed his father’s son. While Jake may not have followed in his father’s footsteps, choosing to be a writer instead of a member of Star Fleet, Jake has retained his sense of loyalty and morality from Ben Sisko. I would imagine that Ben was proud of the way Jake handled himself on board the Valiant, despite not being able to prevent the deaths of so many cadets.
Overall, great episode that not only dives into the characters of two of the series best side characters but also manages to push the overarching plot forward in the process.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- Red Squad was first introduced in the fourth season. Interestingly we see Riley Shepard who was one of the cadets that was involved with a coup attempt. You’d think he would have learned his lesson…
- This is not the last we will see of the new Jem’Hadar Battleship.
- It is unknown whether Nog and Jake ever completed their mission to Ferenginar.
- During the destruction of the Valiant you can actually see other escape pods being caught in the explosion implying that Jake, Nog and Collins were the sole survivors.
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: Ferengi Love Songs
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Late To The Game 3/27/2022 (Originally published 1/24/2020)
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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