Also, they didn't have a minefield in place at the wormhole yet. That, and the Prophets preventing Dominion ships traversing the wormhole, is the only thing that prevented the Dominion from destroying the AQ powers.
Empok Nor (***)
O'Brien, Nog, Garak, and four walking corpses go on a trip to a spooky abandoned space station. Who will survive? The answer may just surprise you (but almost certainly wont). This has to be the worst case of redshirting that DS9 has ever pulled, literally every one of the new characters dies and all three established characters survive. This is TOS The Apple
territory right here, although I suppose this episode shows some social progress because the female redshirt was allowed to die this time.
The episode is okay, I guess, but the story is a bit of a mess. O'Brien and co need to go to Empok Nor to get vital parts to repair DS9, but when they get to Empok Nor they get attacked by some crazed Cardassians and forget all about the parts they need. Then Garak goes a little crazy because he got some Head and Shoulders on his hand. (Why would such a dangerous compound to Cardassians be left on a hand-rail on a Cardassian space station?) He kills the Cardassians and an innocent human, then he goes all psycho and tries to play mind games with O'Brien, refusing to kill Nog for some reason, and hanging the corpses of O'Brien's men on the promenade. Then O'Brien blows Garak up sufficiently good and they're magically back on DS9. Yeah, the episode goes a little crazy towards the end there and doesn't utilise Garak's strengths as a character.
As a torture O'Brien episode, it's okay. The station has a nice creepy atmosphere, there's some good cinematography and lighting at work. There's nothing that will really make you jump or keep you on the edge of your seat, but the episode is reasonably entertaining and interesting to look at.
Runabouts Lost: 7