Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Ship   Rewatch 
April 6, 2016 12:21 PM - Season 5, Episode 2 - Subscribe

Starfleet officers break Maizlish’s Prime Directive. A Vorta dissembles while a Founder disassembles.

Quotes and trivia taken from the Memory Alpha page on the episode.

Quotes

"In case you haven't noticed Dax, no one is laughing!!"
- Sisko

"How many times do I have to tell you to stop calling me 'sir'? I'm not an officer."

"No, you know more than they do."
- O'Brien and Muñiz

"It is only a matter of time."

"So we should just kill him, right?"

"If you truly are his friend, you will consider that option. It would be a more honorable death than the one he's enduring."

"I'm not some bloodthirsty Klingon looking for an excuse to kill my friend."

"No. You are just another weak Human, afraid to face death."
- Worf and O'Brien, on Muñiz

"We will both keep the predators away."
- Worf, to O'Brien as he joined him in guarding Muñiz' body

Trivia:

* The character of Kilana was written to be Eris, the female Vorta from the second season finale "The Jem'Hadar", but actress Molly Hagan was unavailable. This was the second time the producers had tried to bring Eris back. They had originally written the role that became Borath in "The Search, Part II" for her, but, again, Hagan was unavailable. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)

* The exterior scenes for this episode were filmed at Soledad Canyon, a gravel pit north of Los Angeles, which had also been used for Cardassia IV in the second season episode "The Homecoming" and for Dozaria in the fourth season episode "Indiscretion". Soledad was also used for the sixth season episode "Rocks and Shoals". As had happened during the shoot for "The Homecoming" however, temperatures became much hotter than anticipated, reaching as high as 124 °F/51 °C. According to director Kim Friedman, "We had bottles of water to pour over our heads. I'd call 'Action,' and by the time the take was over and I'd call 'Cut,' our clothes and hair were totally dry. I felt sorry for the actors. The rest of us were wearing shorts and almost nothing, and we couldn't stand it. About five o'clock someone said 'Oh my God, the temperature's gone down a little bit.' It was like ninety-nine or one hundred, and we'd noticed!" (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion) During the shoot for "Rocks and Shoals", it was even hotter.

* Ensign Hoya is the first Benzite female seen on Star Trek, and the first Benzite seen without visible breathing apparatus. Mike Okuda explains the absence of the apparatus by pointing out "there's been some advances in Benzite technology!" (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion) The Benzites were introduced in TNG: "Coming of Age".

* Although this was a popular episode among fans, the producers were less than thrilled with the final product, and felt that the episode could have been so much more than it was. According to Ira Steven Behr, "the whole point of doing that show was that we wanted to make everyone tense. We wanted to see our people hot, and uncomfortable, but it didn't come off quite as well as we would have wanted. We wanted to do the Alamo thing, thirteen days of constant bombardment gets your nerves on edge, but somehow we weren't doing it. We weren't rocking the boat enough." Similarly, Hans Beimler reflects that "the one thing we shouldn't have done was go outside the ship. I would like to have stayed inside and just kept the female Vorta as a voice, saying 'Come out captain, you've got to trust me. You've got to trust me.' The pressure, the steam, would have built up a little more on the ship. But in the episode Sisko actually beams out and has a confrontation with the female Vorta, causing the tension to dissipate." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)

* Similarly, the producers didn't feel that bringing back the character of Enrique Muniz fulfilled what it was supposed to; as Ira Steven Behr explains, "the whole idea was to show that the engineers, the tech guys, have a brotherhood. We wanted to bond O'Brien with this guy and have it mean something. But the scenes didn't play the way they should have. They didn't play like two guys who were really comfortable with each other. It wound up being about O'Brien and a guy who's dying. The audience never came to care enough about Muñiz because they didn't see O'Brien's investment in Muñiz." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)

* Despite his feeling that the tension didn't live up to expectations however, Hans Beimler is extremely proud of one aspect of this episode; the second last scene, between Sisko and Dax, where Sisko reads the list of casualties. According to Beimler, "It's amazing that in all these years of Star Trek no captain had ever sat down and talked about those consequences. In the Star Trek universe, where we blow people up cleanly with phasers, war seems almost antiseptic. But I think it's nice to periodically remind ourselves that the casualties are real people, and that when our characters discuss them, they're talking about people who exist for them. That, to me, was one of the most important moments in that episode, and a great moment for the series." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion) This theme, of the real people behind a list of casualties and the loss of life during times of war, would be revisited several times over the rest of the show's run, in episodes like "Nor the Battle to the Strong", "The Siege of AR-558", "What You Leave Behind", and "In the Pale Moonlight"

* The Jem'Hadar attack ship captured here later reappeared in "A Time to Stand" and "Rocks and Shoals", where it is used to enter Cardassian space to destroy a ketracel-white installation.

* The nickname Miles O'Brien uses for Crewman Muniz is spelled "Quique" (pronounced KEE-kay), a common Spanish nickname for Enrique.

* The scene in which Muñiz teases O'Brien about Ireland having only hills but no mountains seems to be a nod to 1995's The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain, starring Colm Meaney.

* The idea of Klingons keeping vigil over the bodies of the dead seems at odds with prior portrayals, wherein a corpse was considered a worthless shell immediately upon death. (TNG: "Heart of Glory"; VOY: "Emanations") However, Worf calls the ak'voh an "old Klingon tradition"; perhaps it is no longer commonly practiced, but Worf was familiar with it due to his studies of ancient Klingon culture.
posted by Slothrop (26 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
This was a great episode. It's interesting to read that the producers were going for an even more desperate, Alamo feel to it. It's easy for us to criticize the final product, but we also don't see the hundreds of hours and thousands of decisions that go into creating a single episode like this. I wonder how many bad episodes of TV shows were only a few steps away from being great episodes.

I didn't remember Muniz from previous episodes, but I thought he was a good minor character to have here. He and O'Brien sold the brotherly teasing banter. And the fact that it was between two non-coms - which we almost never see aside from O'Brien - gave it a very different feel.

Worf's criticism of Muniz dying felt somewhat shoehorned. I know the Worf struggles to understand human customs is still an on-going thing, but he's surely been around enough wounded and dying guys in his career to know better.

I find it interesting that they didn't give us the reason, or even a hint at why the shapeshifter was dying and what happened aboard the ship. From what I can recall we'll learn this in future episodes.
posted by 2ht at 12:58 PM on April 6, 2016


One of the nice things about the rewatch is that I'm picking up things that I hadn't really noticed before. The first time around, I knew that I'd seen Muñiz before, and when I rewatched "Starship Down", I was like, OK, that was it--but then I was a little startled to see that he was also in "Hard Time". And I think that the producers are a little hard on themselves, since even if you didn't get a sense of some engineering brotherhood, you have that guy that you've seen before who then dies, which makes you think that maybe some of the more familiar recurring characters aren't 100% safe, either. (As they're not.) Voyager did a bit of that, as well, although I've read that at least some of the recurring characters were deliberately killed off because they'd been creations of Michael Piller, who left after the second season. (Really, it makes more sense that VOY would have lots more recurring characters, given that they wouldn't be rotating characters on and off the ship on a regular basis as they would in the Alpha Quadrant.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:48 PM on April 6, 2016


Another great episode, so it is strange to see the producers say they were disappointed with it, but first, this:

The last scene, with Worf and O'Brien sat in silence with Quique's sleek, black coffin, as the camera slowly pulls back, is one of the best ending shots in Trek and is (for me, anyway) another reason why DS9 is the best Trek. It is such a strong and poignant image, and to have Worf join him after what transpired on the ship is a class touch.

So much to like about this episoide, from the "Sisko gets angry" bit (as per the dialogue in the FPP), to O'Brien and Quique and how they talk (When O'Brien accuses him of slacking and Quique say's he learnt everything he knows from the chief is just perfect on more than one level.) Everyone seems to have a good part in this, no one has any lame dialogue, or seems superfluous to any of the scenes.

Even the ones who die when the Jem'Hadar arrive and are mentioned by Sisko at the end work well in the overall scheme of this, and to have Sisko talk about them with Dax is, I agree, a fantastic moment.

Also, like Halloween Jack says, noticing things like Quique being in Hard Time is such a cool part of the rewatch - here is a character who we know is part of the engineering crew, and he is killed off, and it really does make you sad.

Finally, the claustrophobic camera work and odd angles used when shooting inside the ship really added to this one, for me. This is one of those times when the direction stands out and it matters, because it works and builds the atmosphere, without being obtrusive. Perfect!

Like I said, they are on a roll....
posted by marienbad at 2:08 PM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Starfleet officers break Maizlish’s Prime Directive

That's "the crew is never in conflict," or something like it, right?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:18 AM on April 7, 2016


That's "the crew is never in conflict," or something like it, right?

Yep. Various ST:TNG staff complained that Leonard Maizlish, Gene Roddenberry's lawyer, assumed too much control over the operation of the show and consistently harped on the idea that every character had to always get along with all other characters, because that was Roddenberry's vision of a future utopia. I felt this episode pushed pretty far away from that. Sisko's line to Dax was not only frustrated, but also sharply sarcastic. Worf's exchange with O'Brien about killing Muniz was also pretty severe for Worf.

I actually didn't recognize Muniz from previous episodes, and I didn't quite like the jocular banter between O'Brien and Muniz. One of the things about Colm Meaney's portrayal of O'Brien that is always a shade off for me is that O'Brien always seems on the edge of being angry. He gets peeved more than other characters, sure, but even when he's happy, he feels, to me, like he's just bottling up his frustration and placating others - like he's smiling because that will make the aggravating people go away. So, when he was joking with Muniz, it seemed like he was taking everything personally, while Muniz was just being silly.

Another O'Brien complaint I have is that Colm Meaney is from Ireland, but when Ireland is brought up, he seems to allow it to be referenced in ways that seem a little implausible. In this particular episode, the hill/mountain exchange apparently was an inside joke about a movie Meaney was in, but I was sitting there thinking "The Twelve Bens in Connemara have as much or more elevation as is shown in this landscape." When O'Brien and Bashir are fighting World War I battles, I am thinking "An Arab and an Irishman are happily fighting for the British Empire..?" Yes, there were proud Irish soldiers in the English army in both World Wars, but there were also Irish who thought an English defeat at German hands might help the Irish struggle for independence.

In a future Star Trek, CBS-willing, I think references to nation-states should be more sophisticated - have an African or African-American actor portray a character who is culturally Chinese, for instance. That would be more interesting to me (and, in a way, plausible) than all the characters referencing contemporary-to-the-viewer geopolitics and national boundaries in a world that is 300 years in the future and past a third devastating global war.
posted by Slothrop at 4:45 AM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


In a future Star Trek, CBS-willing, I think references to nation-states should be more sophisticated - have an African or African-American actor portray a character who is culturally Chinese, for instance. That would be more interesting to me (and, in a way, plausible) than all the characters referencing contemporary-to-the-viewer geopolitics and national boundaries in a world that is 300 years in the future and past a third devastating global war.

Six years later Firefly would sort of attempt that, unfortunately we never got to see where they might have taken it.

While this is an interesting idea I really don't see it going well for the show. Especially in 1996. There's no way they would pull it off without criticism. And even if they did it perfectly with all due respect and grace there would likely be large swaths of people objecting to it.
posted by 2ht at 5:24 AM on April 7, 2016


2ht - yeah, I recognize that my criticism is nitpicky, but I think part of it stems from that fact that I am often impressed by how very, very good DS9 was, particularly for its era. I agree that for the middle 90s, it probably would have been too much to have various "culture-swapped" characters. The showrunners probably did think they were doing that with Miles and Keiko, anyway. Interestingly, though, the cultural future they offered was still heavily influenced by then contemporary thinking: in the late 80s through to the late 90s, there was a certain amount of anticipation and panic of a Japanese future due to the Japanese Bubble Economy. So, Keiko's presence may have reflected that some (although she did not, fortunately, play up any Japanese stereotypes, to my knowledge).

But yeah I also hadn't thought of how some people would see culture-swapping as a criticism of existing cultures, so in my example some people might interpret an ethnically African actor playing a Chinese character as a rejection of African or African-American culture... So, yeah that would require a lot of work to get around unless the show had numerous ethnically African or African-American actors in roles to diversify points-of-view.
posted by Slothrop at 5:45 AM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't know about whether going outside the ship was inherently a bad idea drama-wise...it's always good to have a sense of the scale of the threat, though they didn't really do that. I think the thing that hurt this episode most was how forced a lot of elements felt. For one, the Muniz stuff was telegraphed waaaaaaay too heavily. Uh-oh, he's being snarky with O'Brien; he won't survive the episode. Moreover, Dax and Worf's irritability felt too strong to be in character. Maybe if they'd had a bunch of dissolves to illustrate a really lengthy passage of time. That might've made the final Vorta-Sisko exchange a little more genuinely poignant, too.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:10 AM on April 7, 2016


When O'Brien and Bashir are fighting World War I battles, I am thinking "An Arab and an Irishman are happily fighting for the British Empire..?" Yes, there were proud Irish soldiers in the English army in both World Wars, but there were also Irish who thought an English defeat at German hands might help the Irish struggle for independence.

Far be it from me to accuse someone else of overthinking things, but look here, my good MeFite. Consider the example of the American Civil War, with re-enactors pretending to be soldiers on the side that their own ancestors were fighting. And it's completely plausible that Bashir and O'Brien may neither know nor care much about the broader political or social context of the holoprograms; in fact, probably the funniest of all the Trek movies was predicated on the 23rd-century crew either not knowing anything about 20th-century San Francisco, or their knowledge being woefully incomplete, e.g. "He did a little too much LDS in the sixties." It's much in the manner of the works of the most popular playwright of all time being recited to audiences who don't get the incredibly crude references to sex, or the puns because the pronunciation of many of the words have changed in the last 400 years. (And don't even get me started on Henry V, a late 16th-century play about an early 15th-century war that hinges on the interpretation of early 6th-century Salic law... which is eventually produced on the Enterprise-D's holodeck in the mid-late 24th century.) Portraying a certain amount of historical inaccuracy is a feature, not a bug.

Also, WRT people playing culture-swapped characters, aside from the very British Patrick Stewart playing Jean-Luc Picard of La Barre, France, you've got Julian Bashir, whose own family looks to be pretty interesting in terms of their ethnic backgrounds... but I'll delay discussing that until "Doctor Bashir, I Presume", which we should be getting to in a couple of months or so.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:47 AM on April 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


Halloween Jack - I think you kinda hit on the root of what I am experiencing. So, for a bit more background - I am an American, born and raised, but with distant Irish ancestry on both sides of my family. I was fortunate to live a whole year in Ireland on an academic fellowship in 2006-07, so I think for me it's maybe not so much that it is implausible that people in the future could mix and match their cultural references, it's that as a modern viewer I probably tend to "catch" the mismatch between Irish and English cultural expectations that the show stumbles on and wonder a bit that Colm Meaney didn't make more of it.

But yeah your point is well-taken that we all live in a cultural mishmosh now, too.
posted by Slothrop at 10:51 AM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's also worth mentioning that, in the last season, Sisko will bring up exactly the point that you're making, regarding another historical holodeck program that overlooks the historical reality.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:59 PM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


I liked this episode a lot, if I recall correctly.

When O'Brien and Bashir are fighting World War I battles, I am thinking "An Arab and an Irishman are happily fighting for the British Empire..?"

Apparently Meany and Siddig bickered constantly, in part over this exact set of issues. I don't think I have ever read Meany discussing it, but Siddig makes reference to it in many post-production interviews. Occasionally this surfaces in-show either in script or in actor business at the edges of the screen. The most foregrounded example I can recall is in an episode which requires a holo-Bashir, O'Brien controls the hologram via remote control. As a scene opens, O'Brien is deliberately and repeatedly running the holobot into a pillar, chuckling with malevolent and childish glee.
posted by mwhybark at 4:43 PM on April 7, 2016


Siddig is half English, half Somali, so not technically Arabic. I agree with the point about O'Brien playing an RAF fighter pilot when he is Irish, and in TNG sings a fucking IRA song. wtf?

I have to disagree with some of the O'Brien/Muniz comments. I think this is getting to see another side of O'Brien, and maybe as well, being married to the cool and rational Keiko has changed him a little, so he is more able to empathise with Muniz and his predicament, and hence joke with him. Yeah, it's obvious Muniz is going to cop it, but that just makes it better, imho.
posted by marienbad at 8:23 AM on April 8, 2016


A slip of the keyboard, presumably: not Somali, rather Sudanese, I think. And Malcolm McDowell's nephew, a fact which blew my mind when I first learned it.
posted by mwhybark at 8:44 AM on April 8, 2016


Also I think the original commenter ("an Arab and Irishman") was referring to Bashir's ethnicity, not Siddig's. Siddig's primary cultural identity appears to be British.

I always took Bashir's ethnicity to be Pakistani although I think that's left undefined in the episode where we meet his parents. The name itself appears to be Arabic.
posted by mwhybark at 8:54 AM on April 8, 2016


I was referring to how I read Julian Bashir's ethnicity generally, but I am happy to stand corrected. I am no expert, but I do think the actor Alexander Siddig (whose full name is Siddig El Tahir El Fadil El Siddig Abderrahman Mohammed Ahmed Abdel Karim El Mahdi, and who was initially listed as Siddig el Fadil in the credits) could plausibly consider some of his ethnic origin to be Arabic, too, but I leave it to the actor to define his national/ethnic/cultural origin.

So, in looking around on Wikipedia, this gets pretty interesting... Alexander Siddig's paternal uncle is Sadiq al-Mahdi. This person is the grandson of a Mohamed Ahmed Al-Mahdi, who reclaimed Sudan from Anglo-Egyptian rule. Sadiq al-Mahdi became the Prime Minister of Sudan, but was overthrown in a coup by... Colonel Omar al-Bashir! Only four years before the show started! Somebody needs to interview Alexander Siddig about that! I really want to know how he felt about his character being named Bashir! Seems like uncle could not have been too pleased! Maybe Siddig doesn't have a great relationship with his paternal family..?

Googling Colm Meaney shows he was born in Dublin in the 50s and was part of the Irish National Theatre. In 2011, he supported Martin McGuinness as the Sinn Fein candidate for President of Ireland during the 2011 elections. There's a lot to be said about Sinn Fein, by people way more expert than me, but it has a fairly nationalist history.

Now it seems like both actors could have had some really strange relationships with imperial England. This should be a MeFi Project - to interview Siddig and Meaney about their roles on the show and the juxtapositions the show provoked to English history!
posted by Slothrop at 1:25 PM on April 8, 2016


Siddig on Meaney, 2005:

" 'Siddig laughed that his relationship with costar Colm Meaney (O'Brian) [sic] was more adversarial, as Meaney is an Irishman and considers Siddig an Englishman. He related a story in which Meaney took him out to get him drunk, only to have a bartender tell Siddig that he was not welcome. Siddig told Meaney that the man was racist, and 'Colm calmly replied, "No, it's because you're English." He obviously enjoyed taking me to places where they would hate me. Anyway, eventually our friendship and time spent in bars off the set ended up being written into the show and they put us in bars on the set.' "

2010: (original ugo.com interview is bitrotted, this is from the linked post on a fan site)

"Alexander Siddig: ... And um if I see Colm Meaney we’ll have a drink and bitch at each other. That’s all we do. I realize looking back at my history with him, I went out with him twice a week every week for seven years – drinking. Boy, he can pack em away.

Jordan Hoffman: I would imagine.

Alexander Siddig: And all we did was fight. And I guess that’s what they did on the show too. But we fought in real life all the time. He would set me up, he’d take me to Irish bars where they hated English people. I would think they were being racist about the fact that I’m black and they weren’t. The just hated the English people, they would just hear my accent and they’d – and he just laughed his head off.

Jordan Hoffman: Did you ever actually play darts, though, is the real question.

Alexander Siddig: No. No. That would be very weird.

Jordan Hoffman: There needs to be a separation between art and life.

Alexander Siddig: Yes, because that was the only separation, the dart game."
posted by mwhybark at 5:20 PM on April 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


... one also supposes a quick crtl-f for Sadiq al-Mahdi in the Panama Papers might be interesting.
posted by mwhybark at 5:22 PM on April 8, 2016


mwhybark - very interesting! In the 2010 interview he refers to himself as "black." In the 2005 link, there is this interesting bit -

"Sid", who went by the name Siddig El Fadil during his first several years on the series before changing his name to Alexander Siddig, said that in his experience, the Arab world does not consider the Sudan to be Arabic, but the African world does not consider the Sudan to African, so he may be considered either Arabic or African, or neither. He found that people had trouble pronouncing "Siddig El Fadil" and changed it to something western to honour his mother, deeming the name Alexander "pre-religious".

From the 2005 link, it really sounds like Meaney went along with the occasional mistaken detail (the sort of "Irish? English? What's the difference?" attitude of the writers) perhaps so as not to be a troublemaker, because he certainly saw himself as culturally distinct from his costar.

I should clarify, by the way, that I don't think someone who identifies as culturally Irish should automatically dislike someone who is culturally English or that someone who is culturally Arabic should either. I met plenty of people in Ireland who didn't seem to think of England other than as a place with some different shopping and some great Premier League teams... I think it's the holo re-enactment stuff that really jumped out at me, and it's certainly true, as Halloween Jack points out, that modern war reenactors in the US "join" some "inaccurate" sides. I hadn't thought of it as a comparison until now, but my neighbor, born here in the US city famed as a "hornet's nest of rebellion" during the Revolutionary War period, does reenactments as a Colonial Loyalist...
posted by Slothrop at 6:04 PM on April 8, 2016


I looked for some other source matter but could not relocate it, which I recall as providing a bit more perspective regarding Meaney's apparent hazing of Siddig, which it seemed to me also is in the show. Meaney very specifically in his entire career and also as O'Brien clearly shows an interest in and alliegance to a working-class social identity.

Siddig is literally an international aristocrat who grew up in England and as I have noted appears to have a primary cultural identity as British; let's posit as given that Siddig's educational background was more privileged than Meaney's. Meaney's Irish nationalism plus his working-class orientation seem likely to give rise to a certain... gleeful argumentativeness.

Let's be clear, though: Siddig describes them as drinking buddies, and says that leached into the show. I'll raise a pint of Dornish wine to that.
posted by mwhybark at 6:31 PM on April 8, 2016


Current thread on the blue which is obliquely related.
posted by mwhybark at 7:11 AM on April 9, 2016


Slothrop, your Memory Alpha link is borked, FYI. (I added a link over in the recaps sidebar though.)

I suppose this was a worthy attempt at making subsidiary characters' deaths meaningful and not just "guess we need a new redshirt", maybe if I'd seen it a month ago I might have appreciated it, but, watching it this morning after how insanely kill-happy all the show-runners have been over the past month tv topped off by the WTFuckery that was last night's Sleepy Hollow S3 finale, I could only watch in bitter cynicism.
posted by oh yeah! at 11:55 AM on April 9, 2016


[Fixed that link, carry on.]
posted by cortex at 12:02 PM on April 9, 2016


Much better acting here in this episode, especially after Sidig's hammy performance in "The Quickening".

I always find something to complain about, so here is this episode's complaint: Why did the Changling hide the entire time, and why couldn't it be beemed out effortlessly like the rest of the Dominion personnel, or take the shape of Sisko/Dax/Worf and sneak out? Also, why didn't the Jem'Hadar just beem out Sisko and company?
posted by Brocktoon at 1:48 AM on July 29, 2018


Also just FYI: "Why is Brocktoon commenting in these old posts?" They are currently airing on cable channel H&I, along with Voyager and Enterprise.
posted by Brocktoon at 1:49 AM on July 29, 2018


I'll try to answer the question from another year in the future... It seemed like transporters only worked when the ship's door was open. But those moments should have provided a lot more opportunity for hijinks, I agree.

I also wondered why Sisko didn't try to recover the med kit while outside... I agree that the plot would have worked a bit better if they'd just been under siege in the ship the whole episode.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:50 PM on September 27


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