I was going to comment as I normally do on some potentially inconsequential detail on this particular episode. It’s a fine enough episode, but it also (probably) doesn’t add much to the overall story of Deep Space Nine. It’s the sort of thing where a big crisis happens and the different members of the crew are thrown into situations in different combinations and they need to somehow survive it all.
But I must have been only half paying attention to the guest star list, not that there were many of them in this episode as most of it is set on the Defiant. But if I had, I might have realized the tall alien in the prosthetic make-up with a bone to pick with Quark was James Cromwell in yet another Star Trek role. I always like seeing that guy. I just wished I realized it was him…
So, the set-up is simple enough: the Defiant is in the Gamma Quadrant working with Quark to talk to the alien race the Ferengi trade with. The Ferengi in turn then trade with the rest of the Alpha Quadrant. However, this is Quark, and he did try to cheat these people.
Small problem then when two Jem’Hadar ships fly in to attack. They aren’t attacking the Defiant. They’re attacking Karemma’s ship. There’s a gas giant nearby, and Sisko isn’t the type to let the Karemma just get attacked. So, he counters, but the Jem’Hadar are a bit tougher than expected, even with everything the Defiant has going for it. Now, the Defiant does eventually save the Karemma, but not before the different characters are split into smaller groups.
Some of these plots are inherently less interesting than others. Dax and Bashir are trapped in a small chamber and need to rely on each other’s body heat to stay warm long enough to get rescued. Small talk about how he used to pursue her, that’s about it. O’Brien and Worf are stuck in Engineering where Worf’s usual methods of ordering people around isn’t working so well on the people there until O’Brien gives him some tips by pointing out these guys are engineers, not Starfleet officers. There’s nothing all that new there.
For me, the more interesting plots involved Sisko and Kira on the bridge while Quark and the Karemma representative Hanok bicker. Quark goes for compliments, feeds him lines, and eventually gets through the taciturn man’s gruff exterior. That comes mostly when an unexploded torpedo comes into the room they’re in and they need to disarm the thing. Quark has quick and nimble fingers, probably from a lifetime of lockpicking. He also believes in the power of luck, basically. Sure, he may call it “lobes” or something, but it comes down to gambling. When he has a 50-50 chance to pull the wire that will disarm the bomb or blow it up, Quark doesn’t even hesitate. Hanok, by extension, learns about the thrill of taking a risky chance, meaning we see him playing Dabo at the end of the episode at Quark’s despite earlier saying he didn’t believe in gambling. That’s a fun plot line, plus the resolution gives us the only appearance of Odo for the entire episode.
However, from a character perspective, it’s the Sisko/Kira plot that bears more fruit. These are two characters that spend an awful lot of time together, but when Sisko takes a blow to the head and he needs Kira to keep talking to him to make sure he stays awake long enough to get him medical care and save his life, Kira has a hard time speaking to him. She confesses as much. She has no idea what to say to Sisko. She could have done it easily with one of the others, like Dax or Bashir, but Sisko is the Emissary. He may not believe that himself, but the important thing here is she does. Kira is a highly spiritual character. What exactly does she say to a man she views as a major figure in her religious belief system? She’s not sure. She does eventually settle on Bajoran fairy tales, and she’s good enough to keep the Captain focused. If the episode ending with Hanok gambling at Quark’s, and even winning, it perhaps has a more winning ending with Kira accepting an offer to take in a baseball game with Sisko in the holosuite later so they can bond a bit. There was something infectious about Kira’s big, goofy grin as she accepted a cap from her commander.
Oh, the Jem’Hadar were destroyed and the Karemma rescued, mostly thanks to some quick thinking in Engineering, but for episodes like this, it is the character moments that should and do count for the most.