Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: One Little Ship   Rewatch 
August 18, 2016 5:02 AM - Season 6, Episode 14 - Subscribe

A company of Jem'Hadar invaders is about to learn why it's a bad cross the Rubicon.

Background and quotes from this episode's Memory Alpha page:

- This episode was dubbed "Honey, I Shrunk the Runabout" behind the scenes.

- The story originated with René Echevarria. When Echevarria was still a freelancer, before he had sold the script for "The Offspring" to The Next Generation, he wrote a spec script about a shuttle and its occupants shrinking due to an accident, and then using their newly reduced size to save the USS Enterprise-D from an occupying force. He didn't pitch the script at the time, but several years later, after he'd become a staff writer, during the sixth season of the show, he approached Jeri Taylor about doing it, but she was uninterested. When he joined Deep Space Nine, he pitched it to Michael Piller, but Piller was also uninterested. Then, when Ira Steven Behr took over as executive producer, Echevarria pitched it again, but, once again, it was rejected. He spent the next several years trying to convince Behr that the show had potential, and eventually Behr capitulated.

- Ira Steven Behr says of this episode, "How many shows can do a salute to Land of the Giants, to The Incredible Shrinking Man? We had to do it! We owed it to all the schlock science fiction that had come before us. If we hadn't done it, it would have been a crime - a creative crime, and, dare I say, a crime against humanity itself." Technical adviser André Bormanis, who had to devise a 'plausible' way for it all to happen, was less sure however, "For years I'd been dreading the day the writers would decide to do some version of Fantastic Voyage. I didn't know if whether I'd want to ask for a credit or a disclaimer on the episode."

- According to David Weddle, "Ron wrote a scene in which the Jem'Hadar's leader holds one of Sisko's crew at gun point and demands that Sisko cooperate in the repair of the ship. Sisko refuses and reassures the crewmember, saying 'It's going to be all right.' The Jem'Hadar says, 'No it won't.' then blows the crew member's head off. Brad and I LOVED the audacity of that scene and the way it defied all the expectations of a 'Star Trek' episode. Ultimately, it was decided that this was inappropriate for a comedic episode. At a production meeting, Ron sadly announced he'd been forced by his superiors to take it out of the show. Brad and I always remembered that scene, and mourned its loss."

- In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, Ira Steven Behr and René Echevarria both note that they wished they had used more comedic characters than the Jem'Hadar. Echevarria later said they should have used the Pakleds, while Behr thought they should have used Harry Mudd.

- The crew of the USS Enterprise were shrunk to similar proportions as that of the USS Rubicon crew in the animated series episode "The Terratin Incident".

"This conduit is filthy, chief. Don't you ever clean up in here?"
"All right, all right. Let's not badger the chief."
"Thank you."
"I'm sorry. It was very small of me."

- Bashir, Dax, and O'Brien

"Don't hit it too'll shatter the control panel."
"Don't worry, I have a light touch."
"Not according to Worf."

- O'Brien, Dax, and Bashir

"This is the story of a little ship, that took a little trip."

- The first (and only) line of Worf's poem
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (10 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Between the last bit above the cut in this post and "Morn money, Morn problems", I'm starting to imagine you putting on sunglasses before the last bit, followed by YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

I did like this episode taking a lighter tone after the heaviness and headtrippiness of "Far Beyond the Stars," but it seemed like the producers were a little hesitant to be too light, between the tension of the captured Defiant crew working together to try to hack the controls from Engineering without their seeming to work together, and the Jem'Hadar deciding to reinvent racism for reasons. I mean, it makes a certain amount of sense to have them be permanently aggro at all times, but I'm thinking of how easy it was to start a lethal fight between them and the Cardassians during the station occupation, and I can't help but imagine someone winning a space battle with them by hacking their ships' comm systems to play an instrumental version of "Feliz Navidad" non-stop. (Of course, that would drive anyone to distraction; imagine the Klingons... although they could probably turn it around and come up with words of their own to make it a filthy space chanty.)

Anyway, who's the cutest little runabout? Yes you are!
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:26 AM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

I usually dread when shows do Fantastic Voyage episodes (I'm looking at you, Doctor Who; Futurama, you're okay). This one was fun. They kept the voyage outside of a body, and exploring the ship was something different. I wish we'd seen more of it!

The geeky side of me is about to come out (he says in a rewatch thread for a 20 year old Star Trek show)... but I was really expecting and hoping that they'd throw in some line about not being able to fire a torpedo, because despite being miniaturized, the energy output would be the same. The phasers they could fire at a fractional percentage of their usual power.

Sure there is spycraft, but wouldn't THAT be the biggest advantage of shrinking things? You could make torpedoes the size of ants with the same destructive power. Warp cores that fit in your pocket.

Maybe I just don't have a firm grasp of micro physics.
posted by 2ht at 9:29 AM on August 18, 2016

Between the last bit above the cut in this post and "Morn money, Morn problems", I'm starting to imagine you putting on sunglasses before the last bit, followed by YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

I suppose the ellipsis was overkill.

I did like this episode taking a lighter tone after the heaviness and headtrippiness of "Far Beyond the Stars," but it seemed like the producers were a little hesitant to be too light

I'm sure a major factor in that was that there's a war on. It also seems like some or all of the creative staff may not have felt like fully committing to the ludicrousness of the concept. I feel like it was handled fine—to me it recalls TNG "Rascals" inasmuch as it's tense, yet fun, yet still serious about the situation. But on rewatch I realized they didn't spend as much time inside the computer guts, and on anxiously reacting to what their normal-sized allies were doing, as I had remembered.

but I was really expecting and hoping that they'd throw in some line about not being able to fire a torpedo, because despite being miniaturized, the energy output would be the same.

I'm probably stupid, but: why?
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 11:11 AM on August 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

The classic explanation for Sci-fi shrinking is you're squishing all the matter closer together because matter is actually mostly empty space*. Well, that means a shrunken shuttlecraft has the same mass as a full-sized one and a shrunken photon torpedo has the same mass as a full-sized one. Photon torpedoes are really just antimatter bombs, so same amount of antimatter = same amount of boom.

* Note that of this were even physically possible you'd end up with incredibly dense tiny things completely unable to say, climb a blade of grass or ride an ant.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 12:54 PM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

The classic explanation for Sci-fi shrinking is you're squishing all the matter closer together because matter is actually mostly empty space*.

Been awhile, but I think the negative space wedgie in the episode is a sufficient handwave about equivalent mass: it's some sort of technobabble that seems to scale how they interact with normal space, rather than compress them. (Joke at the end about height notwithstanding.)

Not sure though. I assume they skipped that because otherwise, you have Ant-Man like stunts: characters all able to bodycheck full sized people, and that's not what they were after. They wanted a little ship, on a little trip, per the epic tale.

Other stuff:
the Jem'Hadar deciding to reinvent racism for reasons.

That bothered me mostly because of how nonsensical it was: there didn't seem to be much reason to tweak Jem'Hadar *genetically* for 'conditions in the Alpha Quadrant.' Space is pretty much just space. Jem'Hadar specifically trained in Alpha Quadrant tactics and technology would have made sense, but they made a lot of nods toward that already being the case with existing troops - for instance, during the joint mission to destroy the Iconian portal, the Jem'Hadar are clearly trained in the use of Federation phaser rifles. So that came out of left field, and mostly seemed to be there to give the crew an easier time.
posted by mordax at 4:17 PM on August 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Where's Raquel Welch?

I loved this episode even if it's a homage to Fantastic Voyage. I like the way O'Brien and Bashir are together, they work really well here. And the little touches, like when they are on the ship and Sisko asks Worf something and Nog interrupts, and Kira says, "did the kid just cover for Worf?" Shows the closeness of the crew. Jadzia is excellent, and pretty funny as well.

Worfs poem at the end is hilarious, and the way he builds it up is perfect, especially with humourless Worf, and then it is totally shit. I also love the way Jadzia grabs the pad off him and he grins at her - sorta sums up the whole episode.

I also liked the idea that the Gamma Jem'Hadar and the Alpha Jem'Hadar didn't get on. It reminded me of Stanley Baxter's light green/dark green sketch. I think the idea is that because the Jem'Hadar are designed to hate all apart from the Vorta and Founders, and are designed for fighting, to fight, kill and cause harm and damage in service to their masters, that this might then tend to cause them to be belligerent to anyone they perceive as even slightly different to them. And not being designed to overthink things, while still being designed to be smart, they don't tend to introspection, and it would be easy for ideas like "alphas are better than gammas" to take hold.
posted by marienbad at 5:17 PM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

I liked the special effects. I liked O'Brien and Bashir in the computer thing.

I did not like that this episode diminished the Jem'Hadar. The Alphas looking down on the Gamma made sense in that the Jem'Hadar and Vorta don't like each other, and a subjected people are going want to make someone else below them. Like how prisons have hierarchies. Yeah, there is no reason to breed Jem'Hadar specifically for the Alpha quadrant. But that's just what the Alpha said, and he wouldn't even know how they are different or what the Gamma quadrant is like. He's only 5 months old.

My problem is more than it was way too for our heroes to take back the Defiant.:

1.) The teeny runabout is neither invisible nor silent. The Jem'Hadar should have noticed it buzzing behind them or flying low in the bridge. It's the size of a mouse. If a mouse was scurrying around your living room, you'd notice it. And if you had a gun with you, you'd shoot at it a bunch of times.

2.) The Jem'Hadar were shooting like stormtroopers. They were captured way too easily.
A.) How are they being held prisoner? They can pass through walls and force fields.

B.) Don't they fight to the death? And do suicide attacks? The only way the shootout could have ended is with the crew killing every last Jem'Hadar, or one Jem'Hadar should have shooted a space gun at the engine and blowed up the ship before accepting surrender. But the elder Gamma just sat down and was like "Oh man you got me." I can kind of relate since I'm 30 as well and I've also given up on life. But it was a dumb ending.
Every other time our heroes faced the Jem'Hadar, the danger was real and they were lucky to live. Look at how the Jem'Hadar took over the ship in "The Search, Part II". Or when they were on the ship in "Broken Link" and "To the Death". They weren't even the enemy in those two episodes, but they felt more dangerous than in this episode. Here, the Jem'Hadar were complaining.

They weren't right for the light tone of the episode. I agree with the Memory Alpha about using the Pakleds instead. Yes, you should have Ima Stevie Bear. Yes you should.
posted by riruro at 8:25 PM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

I see what everyone is saying about the Jem’Hadar, but the one trait I always associate with them - in addition to loyalty - is arrogance. Whether we agree with the creative decision to have Alpha Jem’Hadar or not, once that’s been made I think it makes sense to have the Alphas looking down at theGammas. It’s the order of things!

I feel like the Pakleds would have been too inept for this story concept, but I do also wish Star Trek had used them for more than DS9 set dressing and the villains in Samaritan Snare. Space-faring toddlers! There’s so much to work with there!
posted by rocketman at 12:44 PM on November 28, 2017

I feel like the Jem'Hadar were introduced as Implacable Scary Villains, but the show immediately started undermining that and never really stopped, to its detriment.

They jumped right away to humanizing them and raising a baby Jem'Hadar and whatnot, without giving us any time to get properly afraid of them, and I feel like every time we see them they get even less intimidating, and now they're just bickering amongst themselves. I feel like the show also tends to forget that they can, like, go invisible and stuff.
posted by ITheCosmos at 1:29 PM on August 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

a funny callback to how the Federation types hate the chairless bridges on Dominion warships:
"... and get these chairs off the bridge" -- Jem'Hadar First
I would have thought a good reason to engineer a slightly different soldier would be to make them dependent on a substance that CAN be produced in the alpha quadrant with the available industrial base... but they seem to all take the same White.
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 12:02 PM on September 4, 2023

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