Civil Defence (***)
Every Trek does an episode like this, the one where there's an accident of some sort that threatens to blow up the ship/station and kill everyone unless someone can [tech] the [tech] with 1 second to spare. Well, not every Trek has done it, but TNG and Voyager have. In fact, these episodes can serve as a window into each show. TNG's Disaster
was caused by a random space anomaly and it used the premise to tell numerous character stories. Civil Defence
's problem is the result of a legacy issue from the Bajoran occupation, it's an ensemble piece where foes are forced to work together to survive and it contains some humour. Voyager's The Haunting of Deck Twelve
was caused by a funky alien and was framed by having Neelix tell a ghost story, but it was really about generic action and how awesome a captain Janeway is.
So, how is this episode? It's entertaining enough, it's heightened by some great character interactions yet let down by some superfluous elements and masses of technobabble. The best parts of the episode were Garak and Dukat's interactions with the regulars, and particularly their interactions with one another. Strangely enough, even though Odo and Quark's scenes together are often a highlight of an average episode, putting the two characters together here felt gratuitous. I'd have been fine if the show decided to do an experimental episode about these two characters forced to sit in a room and talk to one another (the original concept for The Ascent
, if I remember correctly) but in this episode involving a countdown timer that's going to kill 2,000 people having these two characters talking and doing nothing felt out of place. Finally, there's the technobabble. This episode is almost commendable for the fact that every technobabble solution they come up with makes the situation worse somehow, which could have been an interesting comment on how this show isn't TNG, but the final solution to the problems ends up being a technobabble mess involving Sisko rapidly switching rods around, which isn't all that exciting.
This episode would have worked best back in season 1. Not only would the counterinsurgency program and Dukat's role in this episode have been more fitting back then, the entire structure of this episode feels like something from season 1 rather than season 3. It's hard to describe, but this episode feels more like a typical TNG episode rather than the kind of stories that DS9 has been doing lately. Also, the idea of characters that don't know or trust one another forced to work together to save their own skins on an old Cardassian monstrosity would have fit in perfectly back then.