You know, I do like Deep Space Nine, but episodes like “Armageddon Game” are generally light on plot. What is here is fairly basic, but the overall thrust of the episode seems to be more about developing the characters and their relationship to each other, particularly the oddball pairing of upperclass officer type Dr. Bashir and regular guy NCO Chief O’Brien. I’ve already seen a bit of this in other episodes, and the oddball pairing has been working out well so far as O’Brien seems to genuinely despise Bashir and Bashir keeps trying to make friends while continuously putting his foot in his mouth, sometimes without realizing it.
So, what happens when the two are stuck on a planet together?
That’s the basic premise here as Bashir and O’Brien are assisting two alien races that just ended a very long war in the destruction of an awful bio-tech weapon that breaks down a person’s DNA or something. The stuff, called Harvesters, is rather durable and after about a week’s worth of experiments, they finally find a way to destroy the stuff. Once that’s all about done, armed goons come in, firing weapons and taking out everyone except O’Brien and Bashir, but O’Brien got splashed with some Harvesters without realizing it right away.
There’s a problem since, you know, armed goons shouldn’t have been able to get to the satellite the two men were working on, so they beam down to the surface of the nearest planet to call for help. In the meantime, ambassadors for both races tell Sisko that O’Brien accidentally set off some old failsafe no one knew about and both men were dead. There’s even some video footage to prove it.
I do like how the remaining crew, examining in the video evidence, all take it in. Dax is quiet and mournful. Sisko realizes someone needs to tell Keiko. Odo is very matter-of-fact and accepting of the whole thing as plausible. Kira is furious no one warned O’Brien this could happen. And then there’s Keiko’s reaction: she doesn’t believe it.
See, Miles is enjoying a cup of coffee in the video, and the time stamp says it’s the middle of the day. Miles, she insists, never drinks coffee late in the day because it keeps him up all night, so the video must be a fake. That’s good enough for Sisko and he and Dax manage to rescue the two men. It seems both races were working together to make sure no one with any knowledge of the Harvesters was still around so no one could recreate them. It didn’t matter that neither Bashir nor O’Brien would ever do such a thing. They had to die.
Too bad O’Brien is dying anyway. That leads to a situation where the pragmatic man with some wartime experience, a man who actually likes military rations, is too sick to fix the comm system he and Bashir found, and he’ll have to talk Bashir through it. He’s so out of it, he even admits it’s an honor to serve with Bashir (which he will later deny).
I would say it is clever to see how Sisko tricks his way to freedom by dispatching one runabout to attack the alien ship while he and his people take another to get back home where Bashir can easily cure O’Brien. But episodes like this seem to exist to show how people react. Bashir and O’Brien talk some more, largely about women and marriage. Bashir has heard the station assignment has been tough for the Chief’s marriage, but it must be happening between episodes because I sure haven’t seen it. Likewise, Bashir suggests the officer class don’t get married much because it isn’t fair to leave a spouse behind while the officer goes off and does dangerous things.
O’Brien, who takes offense that people discuss his marriage, says anyone who thinks that way doesn’t know what he’s missing, and that as far as he’s concerned, life is a journey and you should have someone to share it with.
I rather like that sentiment.
Will these two become friends? Probably. Conflict in Star Trek between protagonists usually doesn’t go much beyond “this guy annoys me,” so I look forward to seeing more of these two stuck together.
That said, Keiko sure was surprised at the end of the episode to learn Miles does like coffee in the afternoon.