|A shrunken runabout must save the Defiant!|
- after it pushes a button on a console, that is.
Sisko and the Defiant crew take a break from the Dominion War to investigate an anomaly. One of those Star Trek anomalies that operates on the science of High Concept - in this case, that it shrinks the Rubicon, the runabout sent into the anomaly, to a tiny fraction of its normal size, shrinking crew members Dax, O'Brien, and Dr. Bashir in the process. All of this is according to plan - with full assurances that they will return to normal size when they exit the anomaly.
The investigation is cut short when a Jem'Hadar warship attacks the Defiant. Caught unawares in mid-experiment, the Defiant is forced to surrender. Sisko and his crew are taken captive. The battle-hardened Jem'Hadar Second (Fritz Sperberg) recognizes Sisko as a threat and urges his immediate execution. But his First (Scott Thompson Baker), an inexperienced soldier bred in the Alpha Quadrant, decides to keep Sisko and his crew alive in order to repair the ship's warp engines, in order to get their prize to Cardassian space.
The Rubicon crew is unaware of the Defiant's capture. Dax, O'Brien, and Bashir just know that something went wrong and that they need to get back to the ship. They find the Defiant very quickly. But something has gone wrong - They did not return to normal size. As they enter the warship, and discover its capture, they know they must do something to help Sisko and the others. And they have to do it while the size of a child's toy!
Capt. Sisko: When he sees the hostility between the arrogant, inexperienced First and the veteran Second, he uses that. He plants the idea in the First's mind that he and his crew can repair the warp drive much faster than the Jem'Hadar would be able to, then works with his crew to simultaneously repair the drive and break through the ship's security systems to take control from the engine room. When the First barks about their slow progress, Sisko blames the Second's constant interference, with the end result that he frees his crew from detailed scrutiny as they go about their sabotage.
Dax: In command of the runabout mission, which carries over once they discover that the Defiant has been taken. O'Brien's engineering knowledge is key to helping Sisko retake the ship, but Dax does a good job of listening to his technical knowledge and to Bashir's scientific knowledge and applying both to the current situation. She also has fun embarrassing Worf by publicly announcing that she's looking forward to him writing her a poem - Something which he amusingly turns around on her in the tag.
O'Brien/Bashir: Very much a double-act. O'Brien has trouble wrapping his head around just how small they currently are, something Bashir delights in needling him about. When they have to beam off the runabout to reroute a bridge console from the inside, O'Brien begins hyperventilating, unable to clear his head enough to figure out which circuit is which. Bashir steps up, pushing O'Brien to stop looking at the giant circuitry surrounding them and instead draw on his ingrained knowledge of which components are where, which both calms the engineer and allows him to orientate himself to finish the job at hand.
Jem'Hadar: Dominion presence in the Alpha Quadrant has lasted long enough for them to start breeding Jem'Hadar here. This is creating a conflict between the veteran Jem'Hadar from the Gamma Quadrant and the new Jem'Hadar "Alphas," which I hope we see Sisko exploiting in future episodes. Here, it mainly plays out in the friction between the highly competent Second and his superior. The Second is correct at every turn: Sisko is a threat, and is actively working to retake the ship. Disrupting Sisko's crew and their attempted "repairs" also disrupts their planned resistance. The First's refusal to listen, to the point that he treats the Second with more hostility and suspicion than he does Sisko, is the main reason why the Dominion doesn't end up with the Defiant and its crew at the end. "Obedience breeds victory," the Jem'Hadar insist - But that doesn't hold true when you're obeying bad orders issued by a fool.
One Little Ship is a lightweight episode built around a silly and ridiculous concept. It reduces most of the Jem'Hadar to the status of guards so dumb they would qualify as Star Wars stormtroopers, and its situation plays out more as a comedy/adventure than as a thriller. It is, at heart, a rather dumb episode.
It's also a lot of fun to watch. The script, by Bradley Thompson and David Weddle, zips along merrily, taking viewers on a ride through two cliche stories: the "shrink" episode and the hostage episode. There is a lot of humor, from the tiny runabout hiding from view by flying directly behind the oblivious First's head to the way Dax pilots the shrunken ship to gently press buttons on a keypad. But the humor, while infectious, never compromises the characters. The situation itself is funny, but the regulars take that situation seriously - which keeps it just the right side of campy.
Some of the visuals are imaginative, as well. I particularly enjoy the scenes in which O'Brien and Bashir are working inside the bridge console. With giant, Tron-like components surrounding them, it looks - as Bashir observes - like they are "in the middle of an optronic forest."
In the end, One Little Ship is thoroughly silly, but also thoroughly entertaining. Another winner.
Overall Rating: 7/10.
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Next Episode: Honor Among Thieves
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