Episode 2.26: The Jem’Hadar

The Dominion.  This season finale ushers a transition in tone, one in which I’ll go into depth with my end of season summary.  As a primer, the setting starts out with almost a life-on-the-station feel, where the boys and their guardians are out doing a planetary survey for a science project.  The theme of Jake and Nog’s rite of passage is teased as the main theme.  By the end of the episode, the entirety of the Alpha Quadrant is threatened.  But so much is revealed regarding the Dominion itself that I want to focus mainly on this.  The Dominion becomes the anti-Federation.  It rules with dominance, not democracy; it breeds homogenous soldiers and does not respect diversity; and they explore to eliminate perceived threats, not explore to seek out new life and new civilizations.

From the outset, the Dominion wields both deception and strength in equal measures.  The Dominion has immense intelligence on the different species of the Alpha Quadrant.  In conversation, the Jem’Hadar commander lists off Alpha Quadrant species and their qualities, like the Klingons being warriors.  But more subtlety, the Dominion plants a seemingly helpless girl in front of a human.  This leads to Sisko trying to help her and offering sanctuary inside the Federation; a human could not stand idly by while in the presence of an injustice.  This would have resulted in even more intelligence for the Dominion had the ruse worked.  Luckily, the ruse lasted long enough for Sisko and his team to get back to DS9, as they were spared to ferry Eris back to the Alpha Quadrant.

Alongside the deception is the strength and brutality of the Dominion. The ruthlessness of the Jem’Hadar was established in the three lead-in episodes (2.7, 2.10, 2.16), but the Federation receives it here.  The suicide run on the Odyssey was not necessary.  The Odessey was clearly retreating, so the Jem’Hadar could have let it do so; this would have been the appropriate “courtesy in war” response.  The Jem’Hadar could have also simply kept up the barrage.  Surely that would have resulted in fewer casualties than a ship full of Dominion soldiers.  The Dominion and the Jem’Hadar are not to be trifled with, and they wanted to send this message loudly to the Federation.  The Dominion is the worst kind of enemy:  both a powerful and clever foe.

The resolution to the conflict in this episode is a foreshadowing of how the Dominion will ultimately be defeated.  The Alpha Quadrant survives the Dominion War by the unity and diversity of its inhabitants.  Overall, the Dominion War is contributed by the Federation (leaders and strategic vision), Ferengi (resourceful), Klingons (warriors), Romulans (conservative, 2nd line troops, intel), and Bajorans (uniquely or divinely placed).  Focusing on this episode, Sisko and Quark overcome the challenges from Eris by each contributing uniquely.  Sisko sees the bigger picture.  He notices that the Jem’Hadar are arrogant and figures out why Eris returned with them.  Quark has the resources to pick the lock and inquisitive enough to look deeper at the collar.  With each other, they overcame the superior foe.

The trip for the boys is a central rite of passage in becoming men.  Sisko (and less so, Quark) leads them to the wilderness, and with Sisko and Quark’s capture, the boys are left to fend for themselves.  They end up surviving the planet, surviving the runabout, and reaching help.  They both found out that they “have what it takes” to face the challenges of the universe and succeed.  In my observation, this is the key struggle in boys becoming men.  They have to know that they have the mettle to stand up to whatever life throws at them.  We also see a bit of Nog rejecting Ferengi culture.  He more strongly identifies with the humans; this starts him on the path to joining Starfleet.

Random Thoughts:  1) The Vorta telekinetic power is never seen again in the show.  The Vorta aren’t meant to be physically intimidating; they need to be the weaker counterpart to the Jem’Hadar.  2) The Dominion displays some technological prowess that isn’t seen again.  The weapons ripping through shields and transporting through shields can be rationalized away by the Federation adapting.  But the transporting away from Ops without a nearby ship is hard to explain why it isn’t seen again.  3) New Bajor is obliterated.  4) The first real “Morn is an excessive talker” joke is given.  Apparently, the special effects team gave Morn’s actor a way to talk, but the writers never utilized it.  Morn will never speak in DS9.  5) If there is anything about the Star Trek future that I find impossible, it is that Humans would have ever tried to limit commercialization of anything.  6) Rule of Acquisition #102!  7) Quark puts Sisko in his place with his speech about how Ferengi are better than Humans.  Even for all his claims about saints in paradise, Sisko looks down on Ferengi.  Beware pride as the most dangerous of ethical traps.  Quark astutely notices that Humans practice tolerance only toward species that remind them of themselves.  This is a prideful act.  8) The Founders are mysteriously referred to.  Yet Eris does not acknowledge Odo as a Founder.  I’ve read that this is because changlings being Founders was not conceived of yet.  9) Odo’s caring for Quark is enough for him to go to the Gamma Quadrant looking for him.  Better jail than dead.  Also, he’d miss him just a bit.  10) Quark directly saves Sisko’s life.  10) Overly obvious foreshadowing, but Sisko declares the first battle with the Dominion will be fought at DS9.

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~ by Joshua Black on November 5, 2016.

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