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(written from a Production point of view)
Scavenging an abandoned Cardassian space station identical to DS9 for equipment, O'Brien's team discovers that the station may not be completely abandoned.
Kira, Dax, and Worf enter Quark's to find it strangely empty – and the reason soon becomes apparent. No one is able to hear themselves think over the horrible noise resulting from Chief O'Brien and Nog doing some conduit repairs. The repairs are heavy and O'Brien soon realizes that he will need an entirely new plasma distribution manifold. Unfortunately, the manifolds are of Cardassian manufacture and cannot be replicated. A team is assembled to scavenge manifolds from the abandoned station of Empok Nor, which is identical in design to Deep Space 9. Because it is standard for Cardassians to plant booby traps whenever they abandon an area, Sisko recruits an outside resource to join the mission as the minesweeper: Elim Garak. The rest of the crew comprises O'Brien, Nog and four other Starfleet crewmembers: Pechetti, Boq'ta, Stolzoff, and Amaro.
In the runabout traveling to the station Nog and Garak play the Cardassian board-game Kotra. Garak scolds Nog for playing too defensively, he explains that this is an un-Cardassian style, and that the game is about bold maneuvers and sweeping attacks. While en route to the station, Garak brings up O'Brien's past as a soldier in the Federation-Cardassian War, which O'Brien is hesitant to discuss. They soon arrive at Empok Nor. After Garak disarms the airlock booby trap and restores emergency power to the station, O'Brien quickly dispatches his teams for the salvage operation. Nevertheless, tension slowly begins to build when two Cardassians left on the abandoned station wake up in their stasis tubes as emergency power is restored.
A little after, Garak and Boq'ta find the stasis tubes in the infirmary – two are empty, and one contains the skeleton of a Cardassian who died approximately one year before. The stasis tubes are partly filled with an unknown blue biogenic substance. Regarding the discovery, Garak contacts the O'Brien team. After Nog witnesses the destruction of the runabout, they conclude that the former occupants of the cells are loose on the station with unfriendly intentions. When a dampening field hindering subspace communication is suddenly activated, they understand that their new priority is to contact DS9 for evacuation. It is decided to use the deflector grid to send a series of covariant pulses. For efficiency, they split again into three teams.
The first team, composed of Stolzoff and Pechetti, has no luck and is easily disposed of by the veteran of the Cardassian First Order, Third Battalion. When O'Brien arrives on the death scene, he realizes they had the time to do a pretty complete job.
Act Two Edit
The remaining members split again, although everyone is beginning to feel clearly insecure. Garak is beginning to act strangely, insisting on going after the Cardassians and inviting the hero of Setlik III (O'Brien) to join his fight.
Garak succeeds in disabling a Cardassian. After running an analysis on the body, he learns that the soldier had been given a massive dose of a psychotropic drug. Garak opines that it appears to be a failed experiment to enhance Cardassians' xenophobic tendencies, turning already-fanatical soldiers into unstable killing machines. He informs O'Brien of his discovery, but his strange behavior causes O'Brien to observe that Garak doesn't have the face of a tailor anymore.
Garak goes on with his task, killing the second Cardassian guard, but he is unable to prevent the death of Boq'ta. Garak then finally loses control and succumbs to the effects of the psychotropic drug. Garak stabs Amaro with a flux coupler.
Act Three Edit
Insane, he turns his attention towards the only other remaining members of the salvage party: O'Brien and Nog. Garak comes across a Kotra board. He reflects over to O'Brien on the relevance of Kotra's aggressive play style to their current predicament. At this moment, O'Brien decides that securing the station is a greater priority than sending the signal. A cat-and-mouse (or Kotra) game follows. Garak successfully captures Nog, and then uses him to bring O'Brien out of hiding. Garak arranges a hand-to-hand duel, as it will be more enjoyable for him to kill O'Brien slowly. Garak is partly blinded by the drug, and the Chief incapacitates him using a simple trap (a tricorder-phaser bomb).
Later, in sickbay, Garak's system is purged of the drug. Garak expresses extreme regret for his actions and asks O'Brien to personally apologize on his behalf to Amaro's wife. O'Brien agrees, then says that there will have to be an inquest, but O'Brien will make sure that the board knows Garak wasn't responsible for his actions.
Memorable quotes Edit
"Welcome to Empok Nor."
"Thanks for having us..."
"Take whatever you need... my house is your house."
- - Garak and O'Brien
"He asked me to get a coil spanner for him, I just turned my back for a second."
"That's a shame. And the worst part of it is, this isn't a coil spanner." (stabs Amaro) "It's a flux coupler."
- - Amaro and Garak
"Looking for me? Oh, that felt - good."
- - Garak after killing a Cardassian soldier
"You look different. That's not the face of a tailor."
"I'm not a tailor. Not for the moment anyway."
- - O'Brien and Garak
"Maybe it's true. Maybe you're not a soldier anymore."
"You're right. I'm an engineer."
- - Garak and O'Brien right before O'Brien remote detonates his tricorder-phaser bomb
"Asking a Ferengi to play a Cardassian game is like asking a Klingon to chew with his mouth closed."
- - Garak playing Kotra with Nog
Background information Edit
Story and scriptEdit
- In Bryan Fuller's original pitch for this episode, the story involved Worf and Garak. They are in a runabout and come across a derelict ship adrift. They board it, and it turns out to be a vessel which belonged to the Obsidian Order. It is littered with bodies, and as they attempt to work out what happened, Garak turns on Worf and sets out to kill him. Fuller compared this idea to the 1978 film Blue Sunshine. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Hans Beimler's first draft of the teleplay for this episode did not feature any of the various exchanges between O'Brien and Garak. There were no mentions of Setlik III, and no sense of rivalry between the two. This draft was not popular with either the cast or crew. According to Andrew Robinson, "After I finished the first draft, I thought, 'Ugh.' I felt like the writers were intruding on Garak. I never could have done that first script. We were vacuums. There was nothing in my character. It made no sense." Similarly unimpressed was Ira Steven Behr; "I told Hans, 'This doesn't work. Not even close. There's no character, no meaning. It's just a series of events and none of it makes any sense.'" Beimler returned to the script and composed another draft, this time adding much more depth to the relationship between Garak and O'Brien, and also bringing O'Brien's background as a soldier into play. As Beimler himself acknowledges, "I thought it was there after I did the first draft, but there was no bottom to the story. The second draft got into the relationship with O'Brien and Garak, and that really gave it some substance and content." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Although Andrew Robinson was a lot happier with the episode after Hans Beimler's rewrite, he still wasn't thrilled with the project; "It turned out okay, but it made me uneasy to do that character." Robinson's breakout performance had been as the Scorpio killer in the 1971 film Dirty Harry. For some years after that performance, Robinson had fought against being typecast as a psychopathic killer, and he was a little disappointed to see that now, 25 years later, he was presented with a Deep Space Nine script which depicted him as just such a psychopathic killer. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- According to the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, this episode was quite controversial amongst the producers because of a racial slur made by a member of Starfleet, something with which Gene Roddenberry would have been aghast. When Amaro is talking about Stolzoff, he comments that he wants to kill the "spoon head" who killed her. According to René Echevarria, this line hadn't been scripted and hadn't been approved by the producers. This was because it was considered background dialogue, which isn't written into the script. All background dialogue is created on the ADR looping stage after the episode has been shot and it isn't approved by either Ira Steven Behr or Rick Berman. Usually, this is because such dialogue is barely audible, if audible at all. In this particular case however, the line could clearly be heard. The term 'spoonhead' had been introduced in "Things Past", but there it was spoken by a member of the Bajoran Resistance, a slightly different matter. As Echevarria explains, "here was a Starfleet officer basically making a racist slur, without it being commented on or corrected." One of Roddenberry's most important maxims was that there was no racism in Starfleet, so the worry was that this line was going against one of the basic principles of Star Trek. However, when Ira Behr and Rick Berman did finally hear the line, they chose to leave it in, as they felt it illustrated the pressure of the situation, and was appropriate given the circumstances. As Echevarria says, "it was racist. But it was also very real." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
Continuity and trivia Edit
- "Empok Nor" marked the first appearance of an environmental suit in a Star Trek episode since TOS: "Whom Gods Destroy", though environmental suits of various designs had been seen in the Star Trek films. The type of suit worn by Garak in this episode was designed for Star Trek: First Contact, and made several later appearances in Star Trek: Voyager. In addition, the new type 3 phaser rifle, also designed for First Contact, made its only appearance on Deep Space Nine in this episode.
- Sisko, Odo, Worf, Dax, Quark and Kira only appear in the teaser. Additionally, Bashir only appears during the last scene.
- With its focus on the lower ranked members of the away team, this episode bears some semblance to the TNG episode, (TNG: "Lower Decks").
- Garak's conduct during the episode would stick with Nog – a few months later, after the outbreak of open warfare, the two would be sent out to find food and water on the unknown planet where their stolen Jem'Hadar fighter had crashed. As they walked, Nog made absolutely sure to stay behind the Cardassian, or at worst side-by-side. When Garak caught on to this and confronted him about it, correctly assuming it was related to the previous "unfortunate business" between them, Nog insisted that he would never turn his back on him again – to which an impressed Garak responded that "there may be hope for you yet". (DS9: "Rocks and Shoals")
- Several items from this episode were sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay, including a Cardassian Terok Nor soldier metal badge  and a Cardassian cryo computer. 
- In the novel by Diane Carey, Station Rage, published 18 months before this episode aired, Odo and Miles O'Brien accidentally discover a room of Cardassian soldiers in stasis, and Elim Garak later awakens them.
Video and DVD releases Edit
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 5.12, 29 September 1997
- As part of the UK VHS collection Star Trek - Greatest Battles: 15 November 1998
- As part of the DS9 Season 5 DVD collection
Links and references Edit
Also starring Edit
- Rene Auberjonois as Odo
- Michael Dorn as Lt. Commander Worf
- Terry Farrell as Lt. Commander Dax
- Colm Meaney as Chief O'Brien
- Armin Shimerman as Quark
- Alexander Siddig as Doctor Bashir
- Nana Visitor as Major Kira
Guest stars Edit
- Andrew J. Robinson as Garak
- Aron Eisenberg as Nog
- Tom Hodges as Pechetti
- Andy Milder as Boq'ta
- Marjean Holden as Stolzoff
- Jeffrey King as Amaro
Uncredited co-stars Edit
- Christopher Doyle as a Cardassian soldier
- Tom Morga as a Cardassian soldier
- Chester E. Tripp III (stunt actor)
airlock; Barrica encampment; beta-matrix compositor; biogenic compound; booby trap; bypass displacer; Cardassians; Cardassian vole; Cardassian High Command; Cardie; coil spanner; covariant pulse; dampening field; deflector grid; DNA; docking clamp; Dukat; emblems; Empok Nor; EPS matrix converter; Federation; Federation-Cardassian War; Ferengi; field coils; fighter pilots; First Order; flux coupler; holosuite; hyper spanner; infirmary; inquest; insignia; Klingon restaurant; kotra; microfusion reactor; nervous system; optronic coupler; pattern scrambler; phase decompiler; phase discriminator; plasma distribution manifold; plasma recoiler; polarity maximizer; Promenade; psychotropic drug; pylon; Quark's; regimental badge; ribs; Rom; root beer; runabout; Setlik III; smoke signals; SOS; spoon head; Starfleet Academy; stasis tube; strangulation; subspace transceiver; telegraph; Third Battalion; Til'amin froth; tissue sample; tricorder; Trivas system; workshop
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