In the twenty-third episode of the fourth season ofÂ Deep Space Nine, Sisko must team up with the Jemâ€™Hadar to take onâ€¦ the Jemâ€™Hadar. Intrigued? Then itâ€™s time for Mark to watchÂ Star Trek.
Oh, I do love a good culture clash episode onÂ Star Trek. Combine that with another of my favorite tropes Â enemies forced to work together against a common enemy! â€“ and youâ€™ve got aÂ Deep Space NineÂ episode thatâ€™s ripe for commentary. Indeed, this episode is the right amount of awkward and thrilling and insightful, and IÂ loveÂ that we get a bigger glimpse into the Jemâ€™Hadar and the Dominion.
Because as it turns out, the Dominion is not as unified as it would like to portray itself. We learn about this from Weyoun, a Vorta who isâ€¦ the leader? Iâ€™ll assume heâ€™s the leader/master of the Jemâ€™Hadar in this episode, since he controls the supply of White that they need. The setup here is complicated in theory, but itâ€™s ultimately a heist scenario. The splintering of the Jemâ€™Hadar is where the complexity comes. At this point, there are at least three distinct Jemâ€™Hadar groupsâ€¦ sort of? I donâ€™t know whether we should count those Jemâ€™Hadar we saw earlier in the showâ€™s run that were considering breaking from the Dominion. Maybe theyâ€™re part ofÂ thisÂ group, but without confirmation, I can only speculate. I admit that itâ€™s exciting to see the Jemâ€™Hadar finding ways to break from the Dominion because it adds depth to them as an antagonist.
Part of that also comes from the interactions between Sisko, Weyoun, Jadzia, Ometâ€™iklan, andÂ Virakâ€™kara. Itâ€™s hard to see the Jemâ€™Hadar as a singular force when we get a chance to witness their varying personalities and opinions. The contrast we witness helps us to understand their culture, too! We get to watch how the Jemâ€™Hadar even walk around the ship as a unified group, how they have no need for anything recreational, how they judge all other military forces as inferior because they werenâ€™t designed to be efficient. Which isnâ€™t to say that the Federation group is useless here, and I think Sisko more than proves himself as a strategist and a fighter. (Well, so do Jadzia and Worf!) But the awkward alliance at the center of â€œTo the Deathâ€ highlights just how unmatched the two groups are.
Oh god, THE DRILLS. Thereâ€™s no better demonstration of the contempt that Ometâ€™iklan has for these people than the drill we get to see. He gives them information that is untrue and then scolds them for acting on it, claiming that everything is â€œunknownâ€ on the battlefield. Now, itâ€™s true that the Jemâ€™Hadar seek victory above all else, and itâ€™s true that things canÂ alwaysÂ go wrong during a mission. But I got a sense that Ometâ€™iklan just wanted to spite these people, even if they were allied, because he still views them as an enemy. Which is funny because Dax and Virakâ€™kara actually get along! And learn things about each other! WHICH I LOVE.
But heâ€™s the only Jemâ€™Hadar who expresses any sort of solidarity until the end of the episode. Tomanâ€™torax tries to harm Worf, and heâ€™s executed for it. Which is followed by Ometâ€™iklan threatening to kill Sisko as soon as the mission is over. WHICH IS A TACTICAL ERROR AS FAR AS Iâ€™M CONCERNED. If you need someone to be at their best on a mission,Â why the fuck would you say this to them at any point in time?
It takes a successful mission for Ometâ€™iklan to change his mind, albeit temporarily. Look, the guy literally canâ€™t understand why Sisko would save his life.Â ThatÂ is how different they are from one another! But he does offer Sisko the chance to leave the planet as an ally instead of an enemy. It seems like such a small concession, but I thought it wasÂ huge. Itâ€™s a big moment for a character who was largely static and immutable throughout â€œTo the Death.â€ I donâ€™t know if weâ€™ll ever see more of these characters (certainly not Weyoun, which sucks because Jeffrey Combs is such a rad character actor), but I was quite satisfied with this story. Anything that makes the Dominion seem more complex is good with me.
The video for â€œTo the Deathâ€ can be downloadedÂ here for $0.99.
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