We enter the back half of the second season of DS9 with an enjoyable episode that ended on a perfectly pitched stinger that had me laughing out loud at its playfulness, the more so because this was an entirely serious, and in parts very emotional story.
It’s the next episode in the Julian and Miles Show, with the Doctor and the Chief off-station, seconded to assist two warring races – the T’Lani and the Kellerun, distinguished only by their different uniform dresscodes and their contrasting stupid hairstyles – render useless genetic weapons known as Harvesters. The Chief has spent the last week purging all info regarding such things from everybody’s databases, whilst the Doctor’s task – of neutralising the weapons themselves – is completed only in the open.
Unfortunately, as the last batch are about to be neutralised, the entire scientific party is set upon and killed by Kellerun soldiers. Only Miles and Julian escape, and Miles has been affected. They beam down to a devastated planet where they try to survive and get a signal out.
Meanwhile, back on DS9, the Ambassadors for T’Lani and Kellerun arrive to bring Sisko the devastating news that his crewmen are dead. They bring a memory stick showing exactly how it happened: the last of the Harvesters were neutralised, exactly as didn’t happen, then O’Brien inadvertently tripped a deep security measure that got everybody vapourised by a puff of radiation.
The loss of two friends hits everyone on DS9 very hard. There’s a quiet, understated dignity in everyone’s reactions: even Quark mourns Julian and Miles in his own way. Keiko is strong in the face of her appalling loss.
Meanwhile, the boys are working their way towards possible rescue, as Miles’ strength fails. They bond in their particular circumstance, or at least they seem to be bonding. There’s even a revealing debate about women and marriage, with Julian wedded to his career, feeling it unfair to any woman to marry her when she has to worry about the danger his life contains, and Miles foursquare for marriage to the right one, where pitfalls and problems are things to be faced together.
We are, naturally, waiting for the other shoe to drop and when it does it’s in the standard manner, with Keiko, the loving, perceptive wife identifying the false note that proves the tape has been doctored: the Chief is drinking coffee in the late afternoon and he NEVER drinks coffee in the late afternoon.
Sisko doesn’t need much to convince him and takes Dax in one of the other runabouts. Whilst he quizzes the T’Lani on their cruiser, even introducing the concept of Kelllerun treachery (which the T’Lani Ambassador rejects), Dax finds evidence of remote erasure of logs on the Doctor and the Chief’s runabout, more or less confirming a teleporter request after the pair are supposed to bedead.
It’s getting serious now. The Chief is failing fast. The repaired comms device has brought a T’Lani party to their refuge. Except that the two races are working together. The Harvesters have been destroyed, all computer records have been destroyed, but the fear of the devices is so great that all corporeal knowledge in the minds of everyone involved must also be destroyed. Including Julian and Miles.
They’re about to be blasted when Sisko comes to the rescue with a quick teleport. Even so, the two allies plan to destroy the pair, and Sisko and Dax if it comes to that. Cruiser vs runabout: no contest. The runabout is destroyed. Once more I was a few seconds ahead of the curve, sussing out that a runabout was destroyed, operated by remote control, whilst the other – with everyone aboard – hightailed it into the warp distance.
So all’s well that ends well, though the episode was flawed by not showing any follow-up on the political front. The warring planets had fired on a Federation vessel, an act of war. Their reason for wanting the Doctor and the Chief dead wasn’t resolved, merely thwarted. Unless, which I doubt, there’s a later episode in which a further attempt is made to kill this pair, the story was left hanging in this manner. It certainly wouldn’t get away with that now.
But let’s shrug that off. After the comrades-in-adversity togetherness of our mismatched pair was so strongly portrayed, it was amusing to see the Chief retract everything once they were out of danger. He hated every minute of being cooped up with Julian, who’ll only be worse now, thinking they like each other… It was amusing, but the real stinger was saved for the final couple of lines. Molly’s made her Dad a mug, and the Chief asks for a coffee in it. Keiko protests that he doesn’t drink coffee in the late afternoon. “I do,” says Miles. “You do?” says a shocked Keiko, and the programme cuts to the closing credits with a rapidity that confirms that at least one person involved with the episode knows what to do with a great punchline.
I liked it. Another good, solid, intelligent episode, with a very successful balance between plot and character-illumination.