|O'Brien is exposed to an alien bio-weapon.|
Dr. Bashir and Chief O'Brien are called to the planet T'Lani Prime, a world whose population was decimated by the T'Lani/Kellerun War. That war has now ended in an alliance, and the two sides are trying to neutralize a horrific biological weapon which rapidly affects any living being it comes into contact with.
Bashir is eager to help. But once he has found the key to neutralizing the weapon, they are attacked by Kellerun soldiers. All of the T'Lani researchers are killed, and Bashir and O'Brien only barely manage to transport down to the planet - but not before O'Brien is exposed to the very weapon they were called upon to destroy!
Commander Sisko: Though the rumors of the deaths of O'Brien and Bashir turn out to be greatly exaggerated, we do get a look at how Sisko responds to deaths under his command. He obviously wants to know exactly what happened. But he also advises Odo and Kira to remember, when investigating the T'Lani and Kelleruns, that "they lost people too." When given a hint that things might not be exactly as they seem, however, he responds with an iron will.
Bashir/O'Brien: Some excellent character scenes for these two. We get more background on Julian's past, specifically on the relationship he gave up when he entered Starfleet. O'Brien has believed Julian to be shallow in his relations with women, and probably will gain some respect for him in this regard. At the same time, the value O'Brien places on his marriage pays off in at least one respect: Keiko's knowledge of O'Brien's habits tips off Sisko that the recording of their "deaths" was doctored, leading to their rescue - though that comes with an amusing end twist.
At first glance, Armageddon Game looks like it's going to be an action episode. There's a big action scene near the beginning of the episode, leaving O'Brien and Bashir on the run. Then something interesting happens: This action set-up transforms into a character-based episode. A good one.
In my Season One Overview, I observed how successful Deep Space 9 was at being a genuine ensemble piece. This episode sees that strength yet again. What I initially thought would be a Bashir/O'Brien piece, with only minimal appearances from anyone else, turns into a piece with good character scenes for not only O'Brien and Bashir, but also Sisko, Keiko, Dax, Kira, and even Quark. Quark's quoting of the 57th Rule of Acquisition concerning good customers starts out as a typical Ferengi moment, and turns into something rather touching when he observes that "good customers are as rare as latinum. Treasure them."
The thriller elements return in the last ten minutes, but they don't feel at all jarring alongside the character work. The plot is paid off in very effective fashion, and Sisko gets a strong final confrontation scene. My only complaint is that there's no follow-up regarding consequences for the attack on Federation officers. I'd assume Starfleet would do something. It would just be nice to be given some indication as to what they will do.
Overall Rating: 7/10.
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