The Jem’Hadar, the expendable footsoldiers of the Dominion, first appeared in this episode and more than lived up to their reputations. Oh, and the first one we meet is played by Cress “Black Lightning” Williams, so that was pretty cool.
And all this happens because of a camping trip.
It’s worth noting that the set-up for the Dominion is very effective, making them quite the formidable bunch and we still don’t know much about them. Well, the crew of the station don’t, Again, cultural osmosis means I know a few things already. Plus, I think I saw some of this episode before.
Bottom line is, Sisko opts to take Jake camping in the Gamma Quadrant with a school project as an excuse for Jake. Jake then invites Nog since Nog is close to failing. OK, Sisko can swallow his desire for a simple father/son trip for one Ferengi. But then Quark invites himself along as a fourth to try and weasel his way onto Sisko’s good side, and you can tell it’s taking all of Sisko’s patience to deal with Quark as it is.
Then later we get a nice speech from Quark where he pegs the real issue, as he sees it, for why humans hate Ferengi: the Ferengi remind humans of what they used to be like. Only the Ferengi never had interstellar wars or genocide or slavery. And that…may be a good point. You know, as long as you forget how Ferengi treat their females.
As it is, the quiet camping trip is anything but. Sisko and Quark find a woman alien, one of the Vorta, on the run, only for the lot of them to be captured by the Jem’Hadar with their personalized stealth suits. Jake and Nog had wandered off by then, so the boys need to find a way to rescue the men. They realize that’s not gonna happen and have to return to the runabout.
What happens next is the Jem’Hadar make themselves known on the station. They more or less tell Kira the Dominion doesn’t care for trespassers, and that’s for anyone in the Gamma Quadrant. They’d already wiped out a Bajoran colony, and they can not only sneak up on the station, but Deep Space Nine’s security fields are useless to hold one. Now, the Jem’Hadar aren’t indestructible. Sisko and Quark manage to kill a couple during their escape, but the fact that they can slip past station security and wipe out whole colonies without a peep of acknowledgement is scary.
And they really want to meet the Klingons. Klingons, they believe, know how to fight. The Cardassians will do in a pinch.
Adding to the fear is how the Jem’Hadar know a lot more about the races and peoples of the Alpha Quadrant than those people know about them. There’s some talk of the Founders, and while the Ferengi have been trying to set up negotiations, it doesn’t really work because the Dominion doesn’t negotiate for anything. It just takes what it wants.
So, we have a fight-happy bunch that take orders from a mystery race. Jake and Nog barely escaped and made things worse in their efforts to get the runabout under their own control. Anything else to worry about?
Oh yeah. When Starfleet sends one of their top ships over to investigate and see about rescuing Sisko, the Jem’Hadar end up destroying it. Three runabouts, one with Quark, Sisko, and the Vorta woman, escape, but the galaxy-class starship goes up in a massive explosion after trying to limp away from the fight anyway. And the Jem’Hadar destroyed it with a suicide attack, showing they valued their own lives no better than their enemies.
Now, for all Quark was a pain in the backside for Sisko for most of this episode, he does prove useful. He alone manages to figure out the Vorta woman is lying about herself, that she is not a prisoner but a spy. She isn’t a Founder. She’s a minion. Just one placed a little higher than the Jem’Hadar.
Essentially, after a lot of character work with the occasional tease that about the Dominion, the second season ends with the crew losing a lot as Starfleet, with all the station personnel, have no idea how powerful the Dominion is, or if those guys will stay on their side of the wormhole.
That’s not good.
Well, not for them. For the viewer, that’s a good slice of alright and a fantastic way to end a season.