Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: By Inferno's Light   Rewatch 
May 22, 2016 11:10 AM - Season 5, Episode 15 - Subscribe

IT'S ON NOW. A Dominion fleet pours through the wormhole, friends and enemies change alliances, Worf is in the fight(s) of his life, Garak battles against time and his worst enemy, Dukat gets a new job, and the infiltrator aboard the station puts their second and deadlier plan into motion, with the fate of Deep Space Nine, Bajor, the Federation, and the Alpha Quadrant at stake.

Memory Alpha steps into the ring:

- Garak's role and actions in this episode are similar to Charles Bronson's in the 1963 John Sturges film The Great Escape. Both men were forced to work in a confined area and both suffered from claustrophobia. It is also worth noting that Andrew Robinson himself suffers from mild claustrophobia, and on the day the crawl space scenes were shot, he was suffering from the flu. He says of these scenes, "I didn't have to act. I was there."

- Robert Hewitt Wolfe based the depiction of an economically depressed Cardassia on the brink of cultural collapse on the Weimar Republic, the government of Germany between the two World Wars, from 1919 to 1933.

- This episode ends the process of depicting the character of Gul Dukat in a more sympathetic light, a process which began in "The Maquis, Part II" and was carried on in episodes such as "Civil Defense", "Defiant", "The Way of the Warrior", "Indiscretion", "Return to Grace", and "Apocalypse Rising". Ever since "The Maquis, Part II", Dukat's role as a clear-cut villain had been rendered more and more ambiguous, especially in the aforementioned three episodes from the fourth season. Whereas the character had initially been introduced as a typical bad guy, it seemed that the writers were on course to completely turn him around, and eventually have him as a protagonist. However, according to both Ira Steven Behr and Robert Hewitt Wolfe, they had always intended Dukat's change of heart to be temporary, and they always knew, even when writing episodes like "Defiant", that somewhere down the road he would show everybody just how truly evil he really was. As Behr explains, they never had any intention of turning Dukat into a good guy; "Dukat is a self-deluded, opportunistic, egomaniacal sadist. In other words he is the Richard Nixon of Deep Space Nine. He will do whatever it takes to come out on top."

- This episode deals with two major story arcs which had originally been introduced in previous episodes:
1. The Klingon War, which began in "The Way of the Warrior" and was seen throughout season 4, is officially ended by Gowron when he re-signs the Khitomer Accords and once again allies the Klingon Empire with the Federation. Also important in this arc is the presence of General Martok, who was presumed dead after the revelation that he had been replaced by a Changeling in "Apocalypse Rising".
2. The Dominion War, which had existed in a state of cold war since the second season finale "The Jem'Hadar", becomes a more urgent matter with the advancement of the Dominion fleet into the Alpha Quadrant and Dukat's decision to have Cardassia become a member.

- There are a great number of references to previous episodes: Worf's desire to fight a Jem'Hadar, as revealed in "To the Death", is here realized; the Dominion fleet heading towards Bajor but then turning and moving towards Cardassia confirms Sisko's vision of locusts in "Rapture"; Dukat's reference to himself and Kira being on the same side refers to "Indiscretion" and "Return to Grace"; the references to Cardassian cultural depression and economic stagnation, and Dukat's promise to eliminate all Klingon troops in Cardassian territory, recalls the events of "The Way of the Warrior"; Dukat's reference to Sisko saving his life more than once refers to the episodes "The Maquis, Part II", where Sisko rescues Dukat from the Maquis, and "The Way of the Warrior", in which Sisko helps Dukat escape Cardassia before the Klingon fleet arrives.

- Dax is hesitant about jumping to warp inside the Bajoran star system. In Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Captain Kirk had to risk jumping to warp inside Earth's solar system to intercept V'ger as soon as possible.

"The Jem'Hadar don't eat, don't drink and they don't have sex... and if that wasn't bad enough, the Founders don't eat, don't drink and they don't have sex either, which, between you and me, makes my financial future less than promising."
"It might not be so bad. For all we know the Vorta could be gluttonous, alcoholic sex maniacs."

- Quark and Tora Ziyal

"After all, a verse about 'the Cardassian who panicked in the face of danger' would ruin General Martok's song. Now if you'll excuse me, my dungeon awaits."

- Garak, leaving to face the crawlspace again

"Tain, I don't know if you can hear me, but if you can, I just want you to know, you may not have been much of a father, but I really wish you were alive right now. That way, you could be in here, instead of me."

- Garak

"There is no greater enemy than one's own fears."
"It takes a brave man to face them."
- Martok and Worf, as Garak returns to work in his "dungeon."

"My people have a saying: 'Never turn your back on a Breen.'"

- The female Romulan prisoner, about the Breen prisoner

"You fight because that is what you were designed to do. All that motivates him is some barbaric sense of honor."
"And that is something you will never understand."

- Deyos and Ikat'ika, on Worf

"Victory is life."
"Today is a good day to die."

- Ikat'ika and Worf, comparing worldviews
posted by Halloween Jack (9 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This is another great episode and a fitting conclusion to the two-parter. Directorially, it is very well done: the shots of Garak in the "dungeon" are so close they make you feel claustrophobic, and there are a lot of close shots in this. Also, the cuts between the different events seem to get quicker as things pick up, so when they cut back to the fight with Worf, and the Vorta says "Kill them both" it is such a quick cut, and then it is back to Garak... It all just works so well.

The station plot is nicely done, imposter Bashir seems to know a lot of stuff, not just medical, but how to sabotage DS9 and how to rig a bomb - was he specially bred for this or something? Interesting that they don't suss out who it is, and when he says "time for another round of blood screenings" it made me think he must be able to pass one, so maybe the Dominion have sussed this now.

The whole "Dukat is back to being a bastard" plot is great - like I have said before, he is an awesome villian, he has had to play things a little differently for a while now, but he has still got it, and in biding his time he has (in his view) come out on top. The conversations with Sisko are fantastic, it is almost but not quite a love/hate relationship, but from Sisko's POV is more of a hate/hate-but-I-put-up-with-him-because-it-is-expedient relationship. (I have no doubt there is Sisko/Dukat slash out there!)

Everyone is on form in this, I can't think of a bad performance from anyone. Even Bashir, who looks great with the stubble, is a new man now, killing a Jem Hadar with a knife! Fantastic!

And the lovely comic line at the end from O'Brien - "he was much easier to get along with" is yet another step in their ongoing bromance.

This two parter is one of the things you could point to as one of the things that makes Trek awesome, and DS9 super-awesome! Not that I am trying to oversell it at all!
posted by marienbad at 1:57 PM on May 22, 2016 [4 favorites]

So, I saw this recently...

I really think O'Brien's line should have been "Well, for one thing, he was much better at darts..."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:30 PM on May 22, 2016 [4 favorites]

These DS9 threads have been quiet lately. It isn't that I've checked out, but we've just had a run of episodes where I don't have much to say beyond, "Yep, that was another good one!"
posted by Ursula Hitler at 12:32 AM on May 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

This episode contains one of my favorite exchanges in the series--

GOWRON: Think of it. Five years ago, no one had ever heard of Bajor or Deep Space 9 and now...all our hopes rest here. Where the tides of fortune take us, no man can know.

SISKO: They're tricky, those tides.

It's such a wonderfully bizarre, almost Seinfeldian moment of humor in the midst of such an urgently serious episode. Trek has often had fun with the portentous manner of Klingons (see also "I do not deserve to live" / "Fine, I'll kill you later"), but DS9 really gets a lot of mileage out of it.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 4:48 AM on May 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

Dax is hesitant about jumping to warp inside the Bajoran star system. In Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Captain Kirk had to risk jumping to warp inside Earth's solar system to intercept V'ger as soon as possible.

This is another case where warp drive moves at the speed of the plot: The HMS Bounty went to warp in Earth's upper atmosphere.
posted by nathan_teske at 8:34 AM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

I can't get over how good Robinson's performance is. Garak is one of those characters that could easily devolve into parody; we have a lot of these slightly mincing gray-area characters in sci-fi/fantasy and with the wrong actor they become super flat and one-dimensional (like Jack Sparrow by about movie 3, perhaps). Robinson gives us just enough moments of vulnerability and authenticity to keep you believing that Garak is more than the sum of his parts. It's a really rare combination of a morally ambiguous character and an actor who can really sell it. I enjoy the episodes where they linger on his weaknesses as much as the ones where his talents come out in full (often terrifying) force.
posted by annekate at 8:45 AM on May 23, 2016 [8 favorites]

Where/when are the next episodes being posted?
posted by marienbad at 10:31 AM on May 28, 2016

Interesting that they don't suss out who it is, and when he says "time for another round of blood screenings" it made me think he must be able to pass one, so maybe the Dominion have sussed this now.

I was surprised they brought it up and then never did anything with it. Maybe he just thought he could control the process because he'd be the one doing most of them.
posted by Copronymus at 9:42 PM on September 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Intriguing Reddit essay relevant to this one: Mourning for the Jem'Hadar
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 9:46 AM on January 15, 2019

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