Bah, the Scots and the Irish are practically the same anyway, right?
Eh, I don't mind being linked with the Scots, just don't try and compare us with the English.
I wonder how they crafted this episode. Did they start with the idea of the Maquis stealing the Defiant and added Tom Riker in later, did they start with the idea of doing a story with Tom Riker, did they start with the idea of doing an episode with Will Riker and it slowly evolved to be about Tom? To me, it feels like the first one, they had the idea of doing a story where Sisko had to help Dukat track down the Defiant and they chose to have Tom Riker leading the Maquis crew because that would allow them to put Jonathan Frakes on the promos. Perhaps that's a cynical take on it, but that's what happens sometimes in Hollywoodland. At least the writers are skilled enough to make it work, although the early scenes where the DS9 crew treat Riker like a celebrity don't feel completely natural. I just can't see Sisko thinking "Hey, the first officer of the Enterprise is onboard for some R&R, I should invite him to my office for a chat and pretend like we're buddies for no reason."
There's one thing this episode does better than any episode so far this season, it shows the Defiant to be the badass warship that it really is. In The Search
it got beat up real bad, in Equilibrium
it was a medical transport, in Second Skin
it snuck about all quiet-like, and in Meridian
it was engulfed in shit. But in this episode the Defiant is stolen and suddenly a whole empire is forced to go on alert because of the threat it poses. Riker's about to go up against three of Cardassia's most powerful ships and he's all like "Eh, we can take them." This is the Defiant that I remember.
This episode is both elevated and diminished by what came later. It's elevated by the fact that the fleet the Obsidian Order is building isn't just used as a convenient out for this episode (although it may have been when this episode was written), that fleet plays an important role later in the season and in an unexpected way. In this episode you get the impression that the Obsidian Order may be planning to seize complete control from the Central Command, that is the obvious thing to do, but that's not what DS9 eventually does. That being said, the lack of any follow-up to Tom Riker's story feels like a loose thread because Kira specifically promises to rescue him. But nope, he was probably executed during the war. The end. (I don't care if the novels followed up on his story, I don't read the novels because of my illiteracy.)
The best scene of the episode is the one between Dukat and Sisko as they talk about their kids' birthdays. When Dukat first mentions it, you can see that Sisko sees this as an opportunity to establish a dialogue with Dukat and show him that humans and Cardassians aren't all that different, just like the Starfleet training taught him to do. But Dukat's not interested and he shoves Sisko's offer of friendship back in his face because he loathes Sisko, he just wants Sisko to like and respect him to satisfy his own ego. Damn, those two are great together.
Sykonee's Counter: 16