Mark Watches ‘Deep Space Nine’: S03E09 – Defiant

In the ninth episode of the third season of Deep Space Nine, WHAT THE HELL. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.

Trigger Warning: For discussion of terrorism

You know, I don’t think this is a perfect episode by any means, and I think the reliance on a character that was developed on another show is a little weird. I’ll elaborate more on that, but I did think that “Defiant” was a powerful and memorable episode regardless. LET’S TALK ABOUT WHY.


I think the only major flaw in this episode is Thomas Riker. I still believe it works with him in it, and the plot twist early in the story is certainly a shocking moment. But what does Thomas feel like in the remainder of the story? Unlike the experience in “Second Chances” in The Next Generation, Thomas barely feels like anyone other than Riker. Indeed, it was hard for me to visualize him as a different person. Without the other Riker in place, how can I differentiate between them? Frakes does a good job with the material given, but I admit that I found it nearly impossible to stop thinking of the man on the screen as Commander Riker. He doesn’t act super different from the man we got to know after seven years on one show.

So what is his role here? “Defiant” still works as a chance to give Thomas Riker another future, but I wanted more from the story. I wanted a deeper exploration of his identity issues after the events in “Second Chances,” and I wanted to see why he was so willing to risk his life and an entire treaty for the Maquis. And that’s what I mean by the flawed nature of this story. I never felt that I understood why Thomas was willing to do what he did. So, people are dying in the demilitarized zone. Why does Thomas Riker feel compelled to help out the Maquis? I assume that he only just heard about them within the last two years. Why the passionate response to them?

Yet I do admit that this episode provides a means to show us Thomas Riker’s defiance. He refuses to become a copy of his counterpart, and he refuses to be predictable. And after such a traumatizing experience, who can blame him? That is what made sense to me within “Defiant.” Here’s a character so desperate to define himself as a unique individual that he’ll do anything to achieve that. His scenes with Kira, who alternately goads him on or criticizes him, are some of the best parts of this episode. That is what I wanted more of by the time I got to the end of this story.

(PS: Why was Riker so upset with O’Brien? Wasn’t O’Brien already on Deep Space Nine by the time “Second Chances” happened?)

I can’t even fathom how messed up Thomas Riker’s life is, by the way. Abandoned for eight years all alone on a planet, and now he’ll spend the rest of his life at a labor camp… Good lord. Messed up, y’all.

Sisko & The Obsidian Order 

(True story: I almost typed that as “The First Order.” I CAN’T HELP IT, I THINK ABOUT THE FORCE AWAKENS CONSTANTLY.)

Gods all bless Commander Sisko, y’all. I commented during my watch of this that Deep Space Nine continually gives us evidence that Sisko is utterly unlike any of the other Starfleet officers we’ve met before. He’s pragmatic and fierce; he’s willing to cut deals that his peers would balk out; and he’s a force to be reckoned with ALL THE TIME. And I’m sure I don’t need to make this point for all of you, but this episode stands as an example of why the serialization of this show allows it to tell better stories. Without the demilitarized zone plot, or without Gul Dukat’s continued presence, or without the Maquis storyline, what would we have here? Nothing! They’re all integral to this episode!

It’s why I’m able to find fault in some of the execution of the story but still feel like this was a very strong episode. Honestly, anytime we’ve got political sparring between Gul Dukat and Sisko, I’m entertained, but it’s particularly powerful here. Why? Because Dukat is out of his element. Sisko’s strategic mind is unreal, and Dukat gets a humbling display of it, embarrassing him in front Korinas. And while I’m glad that Dukat is shown that he can’t underestimate Sisko ever, there’s an eerie tone to all of the scenes in Cardassia Prime. We can’t ignore that Sisko is in “enemy” territory, demonstrating his skill and forced to reveal the “secrets” of the Defiant to a bunch of Cardassians. His very presence there feels like a quiet betrayal, and we understand that it’s absolutely necessary for him to get the Defiant back. That’s what I find so exciting about Sisko; he’s so willing to take that risk because he knows that it’s important.

BUT LET’S TALK ABOUT THE OBSIDIAN ORDER. Oh god, I”ll be so thrilled if this episode has created yet another storytelling possibility for this show. I am SO EXCITED about where this episode went because I never expected the reveal that the Obsidian Order has been secretly creating their own military force. I know it’s not the point of this episode, but it’s such a devious little twist that I desperately hope it’s not the last we’ve seen of it. Gods, the horror on Gul Dukat’s face when he realizes the Obsidian Order has violated their agreement AND THAT THEY’LL GET AWAY WITH IT ALL… Holy shit. Incredible. Is he going to do anything with the information he got? What can he do??? I don’t have the slightest clue, but I want so much more.

The video for “Defiant” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– I will be at numerous conventions in 2016! Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be Death Note and Neon Genesis Evangelion. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
- Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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