I’m starting to get a bit of the rhythm of the opens to this show, and the way they focus briefly on something that isn’t going to be relevant to the episode, before flicking unobtrusively to what’s relevant. In this instance, it was an exotic, thin-faced, red-haired alien woman complaining to Commander Sisko that her contract with Quark requires her to accept sexual harrassment (and a very nice, tight bum she had when she turned), but being forgotten when something unscheduled skidded out of the wormhole: the first contact with an alien from the Gamma Quadrant!
The episode guest-starred the little-known Gerrit Graham as Tosk, or The Tosk, a short, bulky, be-scaled alien with lizard-skin and eyes. For its era, the make-up was very effective, though noticeably restrictive of Graham’s movements, especially when it came to moving his head around to look.
The story was quite simple, almost slight. Tosk arrives in a damaged spaceship and has to wait on DS9 until Chief O’Brian can get it repaired. Where he’s from, what he does, who’s after him, he’s not letting on. That he is Tosk is all the explanation he gives, and it’s clear that to someone who knows his culture, it would explain all.
The longer he stays, the more O’Brian gets to like him and trust him, even after he tries to disable the security to the weapons bay.
Everything gets explained once his pursuers arrive through the wormhole, although they start by firing on DS9, inverting its shields and teleporting aboard. It’s a cultural thing, a Hunt. And the Tosk is their fox. A disgraced fox, a weak, inadequate fox, who has been captured alive, in defiance of the great glory and purpose of the Tosk, who is bred to give an ingenious chase.
DS9’s crew loathe the very thought of chasing a sentient creature for blood sport, but in the one moment that he’s allowed to shine, that he has to shine if this isn’t going to turn into a wash-out of an episode, Graham sells the Tosk’s pride, its own glory in prolonging the chase, in living up to the potential for which it is bred, and with which it’s honour is enwrapped.
Capture means utter, lifelong disgrace, but the rebellious O’Brian is inspired by Quark into changing the rules of the hunt. He breaks Tosk free of his guards and, with some covert assistance from Sisko, gets him back to his ship and away. The Hunt continues!
It’s still a very slight story, one that barely span out to its episode length and indeed felt a good quarter hour shorter than it actually was. We’re still idling over a bit at this point: enjoyable but not overly exciting. The series is very much Next Generation‘s unregarded little brother thus far, with half its cast having had next to no development as people.
I await more substance.