Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Civil Defense   Rewatch 
October 22, 2015 6:07 AM - Season 3, Episode 7 - Subscribe

While converting the station's old ore processing unit into a deuterium refinery, Chief O'Brien and Jake Sisko accidentally trip an old Cardassian security program, which was set to put the station on lockdown in the event of a Bajoran uprising during the Occupation.

Rule of Acquisition
#75 "Home is where the heart is, but the stars are made of latinum"

* According to Ira Steven Behr, making this episode "...was one of those back-breaking, horrible, horrible experiences," although he does acknowledge that "it was terrific at the end." The original pitch by Mike Krohn was intended as a bottle show, and while the basic man-against-machine element of the plot was fine, the problem, according to Ronald D. Moore, was in trying to find a way "to make the jeopardy intriguing, to find the inner story."
* By the time of production, virtually every writer on the staff had had a go at the script, but every single draft was rejected by Michael Piller. According to Behr, Piller called him at 8:00am on a Monday morning to tell him, "I hate to say this Ira, but I'm not buying any of it – it's not working." In the end, after much work, the staff finally got together a script which Piller approved, and the episode was green-lit, but even then, there were more problems.
* Behr commented on Dukat being more of a villain than he was previously in "The Maquis, Part I" and "The Maquis, Part II", "We were making him a little too friendly and we definitely did not want to do that. I don't want him to become the friendly neighborhood Cardassian."
* First episode where we see Dukat express a desire for Kira. His attempt to impress her is treated humorously, something which displeased Nana Visitor. According to Visitor, "I would have liked my character to make the point that only a few years earlier, Dukat's wanting me would have meant that he could have had me, and I wouldn't have been able to do a thing about it. So it shouldn't have been seen as a 'cute' moment. It was actually a horrifying moment, one that would make Kira feel disgust and panic. To Kira, Dukat is Hitler. She's not ever going to get over that. She can never forgive him, and that is important to me. Kira may have started to see Cardassians as individuals, but she will always hate Dukat."
* Similar shows from other Star Trek incarnations: TNG: "Disaster" and Voyager: "Worst Case Scenario"

Garak: "Ironic, isn't it? The only place in the galaxy that still recognizes my access code is a Bajoran space station."


Quark: "Why go to so much trouble to keep people out of the security office?"
Odo: "It's not to keep people out, it's to keep me in. I suppose, during the Occupation, the Cardassians considered their security chief a security risk."
Quark: "And I know why."
Odo: "Oh, do you?"
Quark: "It's because they knew you were an honorable man. The kind of person who would do the right thing regardless of the circumstances. And now your integrity... is going to get us both killed. I hope you're happy."


Dukat: [signals his ship]: "Dukat, one to transport. Energize... [nothing happens] Energize!"
Legate Kell [Recorded Message]: "Dukat, if you are seeing this recording, it means you tried to abandon your post while the station's self-destruct sequence was engaged. That will not be permitted."
Dukat: "This is outrageous!"
Kell: "You have lost control of Terok Nor, disgracing yourself and Cardassia. Your attempt to escape is no doubt a final act of cowardice. All fail-safes have been eliminated, your personal access codes have been rescinded. The destruct sequence can no longer be halted. All you can do now is contemplate the depth of your disgrace... and try to die like a Cardassian."
posted by zarq (25 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The message directed at Dukat quoted above is one of my very favorite moments in all of DS9.
posted by thetortoise at 6:45 AM on October 22, 2015 [11 favorites]

It's so perfectly Cardassian.
posted by 2ht at 6:50 AM on October 22, 2015 [4 favorites]

It was perfect.

The viewers are told by a smug Dukat that he's the only hope the crew has. The crew believes it. We believe it. So when he arrives and cockily tries to blackmail Kira into giving the Cardassians a permanent military garrison on the station we figure he's got the upper hand.

And then the rug is pulled completely out from under him in a brilliant and believable way.


Also, it is hilarious that Quark has a higher Cardassian security clearance code than Odo. :)
posted by zarq at 7:16 AM on October 22, 2015 [9 favorites]

Yeah, Dukat's comuppance might actually be my favorite moment in the entire series.

Thanks for making these excellent posts, Zarq. I'm not actually watching this series at the moment but it's bringing back many fond memories.
posted by selfnoise at 8:33 AM on October 22, 2015 [4 favorites]

DS9 had such a great touch with dark humor -- the writers could make Dukat hilarious without cheapening him as a villain (actually, the stuff that tended to cheapen Dukat happened when the show treated him 100% seriously). I love Garak's callout of his interest in Kira, which is the kind of DS9 real talk that still surprises me. The emotions on DS9 are less stylized than the emotions on TNG; it allows TNG to tell more fanciful and archetypal stories, but it also means that nobody on TNG would ever tell anyone else that he's being a creep, even if he richly deserves it.
posted by thesmallmachine at 8:40 AM on October 22, 2015 [5 favorites]

I love this episode so much, because there are so many moments of Dukat humiliation--Kira staring him down in Sisko's office, Garak getting completely under his skin by pointing out his interest in Kira (and Kira's complete lack of interest in him), and of course the automated message castigating him for his cowardice (which I always have to replay at least once when I watch it).

I think it's particularly satisfying because Dukat is so utterly short-sighted and selfish. He could have played the long game by disabling the self-destruct sequence as a gesture of good will towards the Federation and Bajor. Instead he tried to take advantage of the situation, and for that, he gets trapped on the self-destructing station and gets a recorded lecture about how much he sucks. It's glorious.

The only thing that bugs me about this episode is the guy in Ops getting redshirted--it's not something they did often on the show, and it seemed unnecessary. The Cardassians don't mess around, so I had no problem assuming that the blasts coming out of the replicated weapon were lethal, at least to Cardassians. I didn't need a demonstration of that by killing off some hapless extra.
posted by creepygirl at 9:57 AM on October 22, 2015 [6 favorites]

A stern but impatient "ATTENTION BAJORAN WORKERS" is a guaranteed laugh-line in our household, pretty much regardless of situational fit.

I friggin' love this one.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 11:04 AM on October 22, 2015 [14 favorites]

selfnoise, you're welcome!
posted by zarq at 12:31 PM on October 22, 2015

Even though this episode has a lot of humor in it, it's also interesting that they finally touch on the fact that they've been living and working in the Cardassian equivalent of Buchenwald. They've been sort of blasé about it up until this point, but the conversation between O'Brien and Jake at the beginning of the episode really drives home the point that a lot of Bajorans died on the station, and that "nice guy" Dukat was in charge of this.

Dukat's extended speech becoming background noise as Jake crawls up through the ore processor is hilarious, though.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:22 PM on October 22, 2015 [5 favorites]

The only thing that bugs me about this episode is the guy in Ops getting redshirted

Hey, that's the risk you take when you put on the uniform.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:33 PM on October 22, 2015

it's also interesting that they finally touch on the fact that they've been living and working in the Cardassian equivalent of Buchenwald.

Yeah. (My initial reaction to the above was to think that Terok Nor didn't have gas chambers or ovens, but then I remembered that it used to be in orbit around Bajor, so the Cardassians could have tossed their victims--dead, or not--out a planet-facing airlock and had them burn up on re-entry; that, or just phaser them.) I've got the DS9 tech manual, and although a lot of it is occupied with some of the mundane stuff that O'Brien and Jake are working on at the beginning--retrofitting Starfleet tech and programming into the existing Cardassian gear--there are also details such as there originally having been only twenty-seven escape pods on the station because they only made accomodations to save the senior Cardassian officers, or that one of the Cardassian tricorders had an anti-tampering charge installed in it. They really were that paranoid, and really didn't trust their own people much more than the Bajorans.

And, as usual, it's always fun to see Garak doing his bitter ninja thing (you can practically see Kira mentally filing away the knowledge that Garak can go just about anywhere on the station), Dukat turning the Smug Snake trope up to eleven until it's figuratively slapped off his face, and Dukat and Garak getting up in each other's shit, plus of course the Starfleet guys (plus Jake!) MacGuyvering their way out of a tight spot.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:47 PM on October 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

I've recommended this episode as a good one to watch if you're new to DS9, because it's great and uses the characters well but doesn't need to be watched in sequence.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:22 PM on October 22, 2015

Funny this one had such a tumultuous creation, because it really is expertly plotted and full of great lines and character moments. This is classic plotting, where a seemingly minor problem rapidly escalates and the characters keep trying clever things to solve it, but every try either fails or actually makes things much worse.

Is this really the first time Dukat gets creepy about Kira? I thought that was baked into the show from the beginning, and it's weird to find out it was this far in... after the Dominion was introduced, even.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:16 AM on October 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

This was a fun episode. I can't say anything that hasn't been mentioned by other commenters, but I do want to join in and thank zarq and Halloween Jack for putting up the synopses and trivia, etc. Thanks!
posted by Slothrop at 4:38 AM on October 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh man, I love this episode!

Ursula Hitler, I think it is; until that point I believe he had mostly interacted with Sisko and Garak.
posted by dipping_sauce at 7:25 AM on October 23, 2015

This is definitely a favorite episode. Every time I watch it, I'm always very much *yawn* at the beginning - Jake and O'Brien doing silly engineer busy-work.

And even when the alarm gets sprung, it's sort of like, "Oh whatever, Dax will have to override some thing in Ops and then beam them out."

But it just keeps building catastrophe on top of catastrophe, and by the time Dukat shows up and gets that sweet, sweet comeuppance, I'm just totally hooked and having a gas watching it.

Plus Garak. Is there a bad episode with an appearance from Garak?
posted by rocketman at 7:28 AM on October 23, 2015 [4 favorites]

You know, I rewatched this show about a year and a half ago, so I haven't been watching along with this rewatch, but I think I'm gonna go back and watch this episode.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:33 AM on October 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

it's also interesting that they finally touch on the fact that they've been living and working in the Cardassian equivalent of Buchenwald.

They touched on it in a big way in Necessary Evil in season 2, including showing Dukat as being utterly dispicalbe and manipulative, with Odo calling the Cardassians out (resulting in a threat from Dukat).
posted by juiceCake at 7:55 AM on October 23, 2015

Is there a bad episode with an appearance from Garak?

Nope! Thus, #GarakWatch.

A great episode all the way through. Garak gives more insight into the institutional paranoia of Cardassians, where merely entering your pass code once isn't enough. And the little tricks he employs, either brushing off or ignoring questions about them.

We also get to see his favorite weapon: the cutting remark.

"And you, a married man!"
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:51 PM on October 26, 2015 [6 favorites]

I, too, just watched this episode again because of this post. And I am reminded of how crappy these old SD shows can look on an HD television. I went on an exercise to get the DVD and try to produce a better-looking rip and encoding from it, to little avail. I also discovered that there's basically zero chance that they'll produce and release any HD transfers of the show. Dammit.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:28 PM on October 28, 2015

I really don't know what I'm talking about and this is a vague memory anyway... but I have a vague memory of one of the books about Trek (I think it was the DS9 Companion) having a section about how the show's creators had to figure out whether to shoot for potential future hi-def or shoot for the TV resolution of the era, and opting to shoot for hi-def. So, assuming my vague memory is at all accurate, the footage for at least one of the Treks is in hi-def someplace.

What leads you to think there will never be a hi-def version of DS9? Admittedly the show has never been TNG huge, but it has a sizable cult audience and it is Trek so I'd imagine it'd get a deluxe edition eventually. Paramount rarely resists an opportunity to sell us the same old Treks all over again!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 12:30 AM on October 29, 2015

I googled for it and found numerous discussions about the various demands for an HD/blu-ray release of DS9 and indications from [Paramount or whoever] that it's probably not going to happen.

Like other shows of that era, including TNG, it was shot on film but edited on video. So you'd need to HD digitally master all the original photographic prints and then recreate the fx and re-do all the edits. It's a really big project and they did this for TNG, but there's a much bigger audience for a TNG blu-ray than for a DS9 blue-ray, apparently. I mean, personally, DS9 is my favorite Trek, but that's just me. I'm old and I am a big fan of TOS and so TNG doesn't resonate with me culturally the way it does for so many people -- I was in my early 20s when it began and I initially didn't like it much. But I liked DS9 from the beginning and it really is the best series in terms of overall and consistent quality. I'd love an HD DS9.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:15 AM on October 29, 2015

Paramount can be amazingly short-sighted regarding Trek. I was flabbergasted when they just busted up all of the old sets when they were done shooting Trek shows and threw 'em all away. Did they really think they were never going to need any of those sets again, ever? Did they really think nobody anywhere would want to buy those sets? Did they really not anticipate that eventually they'd just have to build those damn sets again for museum exhibits, flashbacks on future Trek shows, et al? Even if storage space on the Paramount lot had been a problem, if they had put out the word that they needed a place to store the engineering set from TNG the fans would have made that shit happen!

That being said, I still think eventually Paramount will remaster DS9 and everything else. Trek in all its forms is going to keep earning them money for many decades to come, and eventually they'll realize that a sharp new transfer will sell. Either that or the remastering technology will improve enough that it will be a cheaper, easier job. (Or else some fan will find a way to do it. Just look at the restorative efforts of the Doctor Who fans to see what geeks can do!) I doubt we'll be stuck with blurry episodes of DS9 come 2025 unless the market for all things Trek somehow totally implodes and it becomes a crackly, old-time sci-fi curiosity like Tom Corbett, Space Cadet or something. I don't see that happening.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:07 AM on October 29, 2015

The repeated pre-recorded Gul Dukat head popping up periodically reminded me quite a lot of those old VHS board games. I wonder how many different scenarios he had to sit in his office and record messages for.
posted by Copronymus at 3:27 PM on October 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

This is such an interesting episode, story-wise, because like a lot of DS9 it's ahead of its time but not, obviously, perfectly ahead of its time. Which is another way to say that this is awesome but I can see ways in which it would be made tighter if it were made today, but the rhythms of it are almost like a Community episode in terms of recognizing how increasingly dire circumstances can be played for comedy.

Which is wild! Star Trek is famously inept at doing intentional comedy. But they're absolutely locked-in here, because the characters are playing an increasingly absurd situation straight. If I were doing a polish, I'd want there to be some tension with the fact that Dax is making a decision that will affect the turbolifts at the same time that O'Brien and the Siksos are climbing into the turbolift shaft, and have the solution be even more of a dead-simple "unplug it and plug it back in" sort of thing with virtually zero technobabble, but as it is...

...just, is there any funnier sequence in all of Trek than Dukat's sequence here, from beaming in, getting a drink from the replicator (which then immediately reconstitutes the death ray) to his pre-taped admonishment upon trying to beam out? It's just perfect. Four stars.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:09 AM on May 1, 2022 [2 favorites]

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