|Sisko and his team weather a Jem'Hadar siege!|
Sisko, Dax, Worf, and O'Brien are conducting a mineral survey of a planet in the Gamma Quadrant when a ship crashes nearby. It's a Jem'Hadar warship, one which appears to have suffered a failure of its inertial dampeners - resulting in the deaths of the entire crew. With the looming threat of the Dominion, this ship may be the best source of intelligence Starfleet has yet seen.
Retrieving this prize won't be that easy. Not long after reporting the discovery, another Jem'Hadar ship arrives. Within seconds, the runabout that took Sisko and his party to this world is destroyed, and SIsko and his team find themselves under siege.
But Kilana (Kaitlin Hopkins), the Vorta commander of this group, seems reluctant to simply attack the ship and wipe Sisko's men out. There's something on the ship that she and the Jem'Hadar want. Whatever it is, Sisko realizes, it is the only thing keeping them alive!
Capt. Sisko: Is very blunt in his dealings with Kilana. He is willing to confer with her, but he lays out up-front that he will not relinquish his prize. His refusal to negotiate is a death sentence for one badly-wounded crew member, and he clearly recognizes this. He acknowledges as much at the end, when agonizing over the dead: "If I had to make the same trade all over again, I would. But five people are dead." He then goes on to give details about some of the dead: One man's ability to play a trumpet, the fact that another man shares a birthday with his son. Avery Brooks is excellent throughout, when making the tough choices in the body of the episode and when reflecting on them in the tag.
O'Brien: Gets a protege in young Crewman Muniz (F. J. Rio). It's almost a father/son relationship between the two, with Muniz teasing O'Brien about his age and O'Brien mock-threatening to transfer him to waste/sewage duties. Once Muniz is badly wounded, O'Brien goes into denial about the young man's condition. When Worf states that his death is inevitable, O'Brien lashes out at him with real ferocity, and he remains antagonistic toward Worf for the remainder of the episode. Colm Meaney does a terrific job with this subplot, giving it just enough for the emotion to resonate without crossing the line into ham.
Worf: Worf's point-of-view in the O'Brien/Worf character conflict is made clear, and has some validity. Instead of denying the truth of Muniz's prospects, Worf looks at the situation from a Klingon perspective: When his wounds are mortal, a warrior should be told the truth so that he can prepare for the journey to the next world. The episode's final scene, in which Worf and o'Brien bridge their differences through the similarity in which they keep vigil over their fallen comrade, puts just the right button on a surprisingly effective subplot.
Dax: Shows some cracks under the pressure of the Jem'Hadar siege. She snaps at Worf for taking a computer console out of a power-dead area of the ship to its command center, then promptly apologizes. A minute later, when Worf and O'Brien argue over Muniz's fate, she makes another crack - prompting a reprimand from Sisko. Once the crisis has passed, she acts as Sisko's emotional support again, validating his decisions as the correct one despite the cost. Still, it is clear that she recognizes the losses as much as Sisko does, and she does not try to downplay them. She just makes sure that Sisko knows that, on balance, they did come out ahead in this encounter.
Hot Alien Space Babe of the Week: Kilana (Kaitlin Hopkins) tries to ingratiate herself to Sisko, first by flattering him and then by playing up her naivete, telling him that it is her first mission outside Dominion space. Sisko recognizes both of these tactics as false, even calling her on how impossible it is to trust her when "the first words out of (her) mouth were a lie!" In short, she underestimates Sisko and gets their negotiations off on the wrong foot from the start. She recognizes this error by the episode's end, but by then it is too late for her to do anything except go back to the Dominion to report a failure that, from what we've seen of them, is likely to be punished severely.
The Ship marks Deep Space 9's 100th episode. At least, it does if you count feature-length shows as two-parters... as the network did, when it promoted this as the 100th episode. I won't say it's a landmark episode, but it is certainly a very good one.
Hans Beimler's script is quite a solid piece of television writing, taking advantage of the inherent tension of a siege situation. The script doesn't fall into the same trap that diminished Starship Down last season. This time, writer and production staff know that there isn't enough budget for sustained action. Instead, the story is crafted so that the lack of a direct attack intensifies the characters' dilemma.
They are in a hopeless situation, saved from slaughter only because there is something on the ship that the Jem'Hadar want. They have no idea what it is, leaving them no way to exploit this potential advantage. All the while, the Jem'Hadar find ways other than direct attack to fray our regulars' nerves. One infiltration, which O'Brien only narrowly survives, reinforces their need to stay on the alert. An explosive bombardment outside the ship is a constant reminder that their deaths have merely been delayed for a while, the noise and what it represents acting as a psychogical assault. By withholding action, but letting us know that something dire could happen at any second, the suspense is raised.
Director Kim Friedman and the production crew make effective use of lighting and tilted cameras in the scenes inside the ship. The corridors are almost always shot with the camera slightly askew, to give the impression the characters are in the corridors of a vessel that isn't quite level. This and the dimmed lighting heighten the tension, making moments such as the attempted Jem'Hadar infiltration all the more effective.
The siege is resolved just a bit too easily. Once the target of the Jem'Hadar search is uncovered, their aggression disappears extremely abruptly. They make a particular decision too easily, when it would make at least as much sense for them to simply attack all-out at the critical moment, if only for the sake of revenge. This does allow a good, if slightly heavy-handed, final scene between Sisko and Kilana - but it undercuts the episode just a bit, turning the fearsome Jem'Hadar into the equivalent of the particularly ineffective Monty Python attack squad seen in The Life of Brian.
Thankfully, the extended tag, as first Sisko and Dax and then Worf and O'Brien mull over the cost of their victory, is excellent. Both scenes are very well-written, one heavily verbal and the other largely silent, and the actors in both scenes are at their best. This allows the episode to cut to credits on a strong note.
Overall Rating: 8/10.
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