Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: To the Death   Rewatch 
March 20, 2016 7:51 AM - Season 4, Episode 23 - Subscribe

Weyoun! DS9 adds to its already-impressive list of recurring characters with yet another Jeffrey Combs portrayal. And there are also a bunch of rebel Jem'Hadar trying to activate an ancient gateway, fate of the galaxy at stake, working with the enemy, etc. The important thing is, Weyoun.

From Memory Alpha:

- Robert Hewitt Wolfe commented: "We wanted to spend some time with some Jem'Hadar who weren't screwed up, because the two times we spent any time with the Jem'Hadar was the kid who is so young and doesn't know what he's feeling ("The Abandoned") and also the ones in "Hippocratic Oath". So we wanted to show what a functional Jem'Hadar society is, because we know so much more about them than anyone does and we wanted to get some of that information out there so the audience could understand them a little better. It seems that the more you learn about the Klingons, the less scary they are. The more you learn about the Cardassians, the less scary they are in some ways. What we want with the Jem'Hadar is that the more you learn about them, the more scary they are. These are not the kind of guys you want to party with".

- This episode marks the first appearance of Weyoun (Jeffrey Combs) in the series. Of the character, Combs says, "Weyoun is the snake of the universe. He's the smiling car salesman who'll tell you anything to make you feel as if you're the most important thing in his life just to get you to buy his product." Combs commented that he based the performance on a scene in Stanley Kubrick's 1975 film Barry Lyndon where two characters are being really formal and nice to one another, showing perfect etiquette, but under the surface, it is obvious they despise each other. The character of Weyoun was written to be a one-show character, but the producers were so impressed with Combs, and the character got such a strong reaction from the fans, that they decided to bring him back in season 5, inventing the concept that the Vorta routinely clone themselves to explain it. According to Ira Steven Behr, "[in] multitalented Jeffrey Combs, we finally had a Vorta who sold the Vorta."

- This episode was cut for violence, a first for the series and perhaps for Star Trek itself. According to Ira Steven Behr, forty-five seconds of hand-to-hand combat was cut prior to the episode being screened. This displeased Behr a great deal; "that really hurt the show. We built up to this battle and now it's just perfunctory. The fans who wrote letters on the internet saw that the rhythms were thrown off." Similarly unimpressed was stunt coordinator Dennis Madalone; "in the first edited version, fifty-two Jem'Hadar had been killed. Dax had killed ten and Sisko had killed seven. But when the censors got hold of it, they took out over thirty-two Jem'Hadar deaths." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion) The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) cut a further five seconds (specifically to remove the sound of a neck being broken) and rated the episode 15.

- "Couldn't the Founders just order them to surrender? From what I know, the Jem'Hadar have been genetically-engineered to obey them?!"
"The Founders' ability to control the Jem'Hadar has been somewhat... overstated. Otherwise we never would've had to addict them to the white."
"Sounds like the Dominion isn't quite as stable as you'd like us to believe."
"The Dominion has endured for two thousand years, and will continue to endure long after the Federation has crumbled into dust... but we'll leave that to history."

- Sisko and Weyoun

"I am First Omet'iklan, and I am dead. As of this moment, we are all dead. We go into battle to reclaim our lives. This we do gladly, for we are Jem'Hadar. Remember, victory is life."
(in unison)"Victory is life."
"Such a delightful people."
- Omet'iklan, Jem'Hadar troops, and Weyoun

"I am Chief Miles Edward O'Brien. I'm very much alive and I intend to stay that way."
"Amen. Let's get it done!"

- O'Brien, to the Federation attack group after the Jem'Hadar war cry is first heard, and Sisko
posted by Halloween Jack (18 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Honestly, fuck Weyoun(s).
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:09 PM on March 20, 2016

Well, yeah Weyoun is awful, but Jeffrey Combs is, IMO, so good. Before watching DS9, I was occasionally watching Transformers Prime with my daughter, if the episode wasn't too scary. Combs is the voice of Ratchet on that series and it took me awhile to figure out it is the same actor in DS9 and Enterprise roles. The Andorian captain in Enterprise is another Combs role - in that one he bears some semblance to Ratchet in that he has a bit of a temper. The one that is really impressive, though, is that Combs plays a dullard, wimpy Ferengi pirate in a first season episode of Enterprise. The range between the Andorian captain, Weyoun and the Ferengi pirate is really impressive.

The scene where Weyoun pleads with Odo to return to the Founders is quite impressive from an acting standpoint. The play of subtle gestures across Combs' face creates so many layers to his stance in the presence of a Founder.

So, yeah, he's slimy, but I would rather have 50 minutes of Weyoun to 5 minutes of a Jem'Hadar, personally. Combs is the kind of evil one actually encounters on a fairly regular basis...
posted by Slothrop at 4:24 PM on March 20, 2016 [3 favorites]

The trivia factoid about having to cut violent scenes makes a lot of sense - the end was definitely anticlimactic.
posted by Slothrop at 4:25 PM on March 20, 2016

Jeez, I never would have guessed it took this long for Weyoun to show up! He really spiced things up. The Jem Hadar were just super violent, the Founders were mysterious and creepy but rather terse. They weren't characters you could really get to know, but then Weyoun showed up and he was this slithery, chatty, compelling guy.

Dennis Madalone is also the America: We Stand as One guy. And that redheaded lady is none other than Trek stalwart Patricia Tallman. (Can that video really only have 279K views? It seemed like a real viral phenomenon, back in the day.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:50 PM on March 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Big fan of Weyoun and Combs' work in general. From the FCA's Brunt, to Tiron, to of course Weyoun on DS9 as well as Shran and his Voyager appearance.

From the Wikipedia article about him:
Combs has said that Weyoun was his favorite Star Trek role, and he had a great deal of input in developing the character.
I'm not surprised. As Weyoun he does "obvious insincere that everyone has to put up with" really well. Weyoun would do well in the Dune universe.

His work with Casey Biggs (Damar) was great.

I usually don't recognize the Jem'Hadar actors but it's hard not recognize Brian Thompson of X-Files alien bounty hunter fame. He also played Inglatu on DS9, a Dosi male, another Gamma Quadrant race.
posted by juiceCake at 5:09 PM on March 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

Honestly, fuck Weyoun(s).

There's quite a lot of fanfic out there that caters to that scenario.

Srsly, tho, I get that, and I think that it's a tribute to Combs and how much he commits to a given role that we really get that warts-and-all portrait of Weyoun. Yes, he's smiling and flattering and he literally adores Odo in the religious sense, but he's also contemptuous and dismissive of the Jem'Hadar (which, of course, is his undoing at the end). One of my favorite bits of his is during the conversation with Sisko quoted above, in which he is flattering and solicitous and then, when Sisko questions the omnipotence of the Dominion, his emotional temperature drops to near absolute zero--then it's gone again, just like that. When Combs played Tiron, he embraced rather than shied away from that character's supercreep aspects, and when he plays Brunt, he convinces us that Brunt is an even truer believer in the Ferengi way than Quark. Needless to say, I was very happy that they altered canon to bring him back.

Also, Brian Thompson is a great character actor who's been in lots of things (he was the punk who gets his heart torn out at the beginning of The Terminator, and I always thought that he would have been a good alternate choice for the cyborg if Arnold hadn't taken the part). Also, Clarence Williams III, probably best known now for playing The Kid's father in Purple Rain, although older TV watchers remember him as Linc from The Mod Squad.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:50 PM on March 20, 2016

Combs really sounds like Combs at Weyoun. You can hear some of it as Brunt, but I think the teeth get in the way.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:33 PM on March 20, 2016

Weyoun had some epic moments. Specifically, the way his various incarnations referred to each other were hysterical. I also loved the way he acted as a foil for the various Cardassian leaders, like Dukat.
posted by ComicsSleepRepeat at 11:25 PM on March 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

You can hear some of it as Brunt, but I think the teeth get in the way.

Yeah, but at the same time, he's such a good actor that you can kinda tell when he's USING the teeth, ya know?

I assert that Combs as Weyoun is in the top three of DS9 performances, and that's saying a lot.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 5:40 AM on March 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

So, Weyoun aside, I thought the episode was a little weak. I actually don't think military adventure plays to Avery Brooks' strengths and the captain-going-on-a-dangerous-away-mission is silly and corny as has been discussed so many times before regarding Trek. I think it would have been much more interesting from a writerly standpoint to have another character be able to lead the mission. What if Odo had gone and used his shapeshifting powers to look like a Jem
Hadar? What if Worf had lead the Defiant mission from the get-go and had to struggle to keep himself in check in the face of Jem'Hadar taunts?
posted by Slothrop at 6:28 AM on March 21, 2016

What if Odo had gone and used his shapeshifting powers to look like a Jem Hadar?

That would be a big and sudden change in his inability to mimic solids to the detail level that other Changelings do.
posted by juiceCake at 7:58 AM on March 21, 2016

juiceCake - that's true, although in a somewhat recent episode didn't he turn into a kiosk on the promenade to surprise security officers? Can he only turn into stuff that doesn't move? I haven't paid super close attention to the delineation of his powers.
posted by Slothrop at 11:10 AM on March 21, 2016

He mentions that he has particular trouble with ears -- which are among the less movement-y parts of the face. So it's not necessarily internally logical. I'm pretty sure what happened with all that was the writers initially said "Hey how cool would it be to have a T-1000 effect assigned to one of our lead characters" and only later said "Crap this is way too powerful, we'd better impose some limits on it."
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 11:24 AM on March 21, 2016

Well, maybe Odo sort of has an uncanny valley situation. We can recognize the flaws when he tries to look like humanoids, but maybe he also has problems when he becomes animals and inanimate objects but they're not as obvious to us. If he becomes a rat and he doesn't quite get the nose right, that won't look as strange to us.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:31 PM on March 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh, don't get me wrong- Combs' performance is committed and fully realized (and I like him even better as Brunt). Even in this episode, the way in which he manipulates information, and uses his performance to suggest various layers and ulterior motives is excellent.

"Sounds like the Dominion isn't quite as stable as you'd like us to believe."
"The Dominion has endured for two thousand years, and will continue to endure long after the Federation has crumbled into dust... but we'll leave that to history."

This is a great example- was he legitimately angry at Sisko's denigration of the Founders, or was he simply selling a larger pretense?

In later episodes, I especially love his constant undermining of poor old drunky Damar. In this episode, the bit where the Jem'Hadar interrupt Weyoun's meal for the white, and his reaction are perfect.

But yeah, fuck Weyoun(s).

O'Brien is extra salty this episode and I love it, Jadzia is clearly dialing up her flirtation with Worf (it's pretty clear she knows he hasn't spent a lot of time with Klingon women), and of course Sisko isn't even surprised that Jadzia told Worf about the Jem'Hadar threats. Altogether an excellent episode.

"Such a delightful people."

posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:27 PM on March 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

A couple of great moments in this episode:

Jadzia Dax: Am I really that interesting? You've been standing there staring at me for the last two hours.

Virak'kara: You are part of my combat team. I must learn to understand your behaviour - anticipate your actions.

Jadzia Dax: There must be something you'd rather do. Maybe get some sleep?

Virak'kara: We don't sleep.

Jadzia Dax: How about getting something to eat?

Virak'kara: The white is the only thing we need.

Jadzia Dax: Don't sleep... don't eat... What do you do for relaxation?

Virak'kara: Relaxation would only make us weak.

Jadzia Dax: You people are no fun at all - I'm glad I'm not a Jem'Hadar woman.

Virak'kara: There are no Jem'Hadar women.

Jadzia Dax: So what do you do? Lay eggs?

Virak'kara: Jem'Hadar are bred in birthing chambers. We are able to fight within three days of our emergence.

Jadzia Dax: Lucky you. So let me get this straight: no sleep - no food - no women. No wonder you're so angry. After thirty or forty years of that I'd be angry too.

Virak'kara: No Jem'Hadar has ever lived thirty years.

Jadzia Dax: How old are you?

Virak'kara: I am eight.

Jadzia Dax: I would have guessed at least fifteen.

Virak'kara: Few Jem'Hadar live that long. If we reach twenty, we're considered honored elders.

Virak'kara: How old are you?

Jadzia Dax: I stopped counting at three hundred.

Virak'kara: You don't look it.

Jadzia Dax: Thank you.

And Worf casually dumping his crewmate to the ground after carrying him out of the ziggurat.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:14 PM on July 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

> I thought the episode was a little weak. I actually don't think military adventure plays to Avery Brooks' strengths

The part that I thought really worked about this episode was that it wasn't really a military adventure episode. The meat of the episode is everything that happened before the actual military operation. There's a lot of great characterization of our leads bouncing off each other, and then we see the three-way culture clash of Federation vs Vorta vs Jem H'dar soldiers.

A tiny nerdy nitpick: there's a line early on where Sisko says that he wishes they could have the defiant guarding the station 26 hours a day. It's clear from his delivery that Avery Brooks misunderstood the line; he emphasizes the 6 like you would as an exaggeration. But it's not meant to be - the show has consistently used a 26 hour day for station operations since the first season. Unfortunate that that was the take that got used.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 8:50 PM on April 13

I'll also comment that I think the Iconians are a great piece of Star Trek lore. The ancient dead civilization with crazy transporter technology! It's good that they don't come up much, which would get old fast and kill the mystique. But I'm glad they're part of the world.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 9:00 PM on April 13

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