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Honor Among Thieves (episode)

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"Honor Among Thieves"
DS9, Episode 6x15
Production number: 40510-539
First aired: 21 February 1998
137th of 173 produced in DS9
137th of 173 released in DS9
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 0 released in DS9 Remastered  
506th of 728 released in all
Teleplay By
René Echevarria

Story By
Philip Kim

Directed By
Allan Eastman
Unknown (2374)
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O'Brien, working undercover for Starfleet Intelligence, befriends the man he will have to betray.



Liam Bilby

Liam Bilby, member of the Orion Syndicate

In a rundown bar on Farius Prime, there are several customers, including a Dopterian and a Farian that seems to be inhaling a drug product, playing tongo with a Human. The Bolian bartender, Graife, refreshes their drinks. Miles O'Brien, in civilian clothing, sits at the bar and listens to some customers in the background. They are discussing how Raimus will be unhappy about the acquisition of faulty merchandise. They decide to order some food; Flith suggests Krellan food, but Liam Bilby says it always gives him heart burn. They joke about how his appetite will kill him some day; he says "don't get your hopes up."

The Dopterian is about to use a com booth on the wall, but Bilby yells at him that they're about to use it, and sends Krole. He puts a small device on a mechanical implant on his neck, and a similar device on the com booth's screen, and interfaces with the computer. The continue listing what they want to order, and Krole asks who to bill for their dinner. They suggest the police department on Farius, but they billed them for yesterday's meal. So they decide on the municipal sanitation department. As he tries to access their account code, O'Brien covertly activates a small device in his hand, making the com booth begin to shock Krole.


Krole after being "spiked" in a com booth

O'Brien jumps up, and tells the others not to touch him, that he's being "spiked". He then goes to the panel, and begins entering commands. The electric shock stops, and they help him to a chair. They complain that they spiked him just for trying to use their account code. Krole pulls off the dataport, and finds that it is fused. They wonder what to do, since it would be too expensive to ask Raimus to pay for a replacement, but O'Brien offers to fix it for him... for a price. They ask O'Brien his name, and he replies "Connelly". They give him the datalink, and tell him to have it fixed and polished by tomorrow morning.

In a dark and steamy alley, O'Brien walks up to meet a man. O'Brien explains what happens, and the man says that nobody has ever made contact with the Orion Syndicate so quickly. It turns out, O'Brien is working for Starfleet Intelligence to find out who their informant in Starfleet is, and then he can return to Deep Space 9. Bilby will find information on O'Brien's alias, that he's a "fix-it man down on his luck". Chadwick, O'Brien's handler, tells him to get as close as he can, and not to take any unnecessary risks, because if they find out who he really is, they will kill him.

Act one

Meanwhile on Deep Space 9, Quark and Odo enter Ops at the same time to report several technical problems, such as the Internal Security Sensors, and the fire-suppression system in Quark's. Doctor Bashir comes into Ops, and also complains about a malfunction in the infirmary. Dax and Worf are on a turbolift coming into Ops, when it stops short, forcing them to climb out. Major Kira explains that it happens every time Chief O'Brien goes on leave, since no one really knows how he keeps the Starfleet and Cardassian technology working together. Dr. Bashir goes to Captain Sisko about the problems, but the Captain believes he is just worried about his friend. The Captain explains that he cannot reveal the whereabouts of the Chief, but assures him he can take care of himself.


Graife, the Bolian bartender

Back in Graife's bar on Farius, Krole, Flith, and Bilby are playing tongo when the chief comes in. O'Brien hands the fixed neural interface to Krole, who tries it on to test for feedback. Bilby is impressed with O'Brien's work, and has looked into "Connelly"'s background, knowing that he lives on Jinami Street, and his work history. O'Brien asks how he knows so much about the identity he's taken, still undercover, and Bilby doesn't respond. Instead, he takes him for a walk. In Bilby's apartment, in a housing development, he unlocks a safe, and pulls out three Klingon type-3 disruptors. O'Brien sits up, suspicious, and Bilby says he didn't bring him here to kill him.

Apparently, the Orion Syndicate was looking for people who can fix things on Farius Prime, as Bilby shows him that the disruptors he needed to procure don't work, O'Brien diagnoses that the induction coils are burnt out, and says he can fix them. Bilby offers him some cake his wife made, and shows him a picture of his family, who live on New Sydney. Bilby inquires about O'Brien's family, to which he says that he doesn't have any. Bilby, in not so many words, asks if he would like to work for him in the Syndicate.

Act two

In the dark alley, Chadwick hands O'Brien the Klingon induction coils he asked for, courtesy of the Klingon Ambassador to Farius. Chadwick asks why Raimus, Bilby's boss, wants the disruptors. O'Brien says he doesn't know, neither does Bilby, and asks if he can contact his wife. Chadwick says they can't risk it, and O'Brien leaves to give the disruptors to Bilby. Back in Graife's Bar, O'Brien gives them the disruptors, which they inspect. Flith asks where he got the replacement parts, which are hard to come by on Farius. O'Brien doesn't tell them, to the point they get angry, and he says he stole them from a warehouse on Degora Street, and he didn't want them to get implicated if he got caught. Bilby believes it, and decides to do something about Connelly's clothes. So, Bilby takes him to the same tailor he uses, to buy a new suit.

Later in Graife's Bar, Yint, who sold Bilby the malfunctioning disruptors, comes in asking what they want. Bilby says he wants his money back, but Yint refuses. Bilby decides to demonstrate by shooting Yint in the leg. O'Brien tries to stop him, but Bilby fires again and kills Yint.

Back in Bilby's apartment, Bilby confides in O'Brien, to the point of revealing that there's an Orion Syndicate operative in Starfleet. He asks Connelly to remind him to buy a birthday present for his daughter, and then if he'd like to go to New Sydney to meet his family. O'Brien agrees, and inquires more about the Starfleet officer. Bilby says Raimus met him on Risa a year prior, and that he worked at the weather control station. The Syndicate offered him a substantial amount of money, and he revealed the names of the undercover operatives in the Orion Syndicate. Bilby receives a message from Krole, saying Raimus wants to see him, so they go to Graife's Bar.


Raimus, member of the Orion Syndicate

Raimus and his guards beam in, and shows him that their new client is a Vorta, Gelnon, and that they are working for the Dominion. Raimus asks who O'Brien is, and Bilby witnesses for him, saying he's trustworthy. Gelnon says he wants them to do something else for them, and that he'll contact him when it is time, and they transport out. Bilby explains to O'Brien that anything he does wrong, he's accountable for.

O'Brien meets with Chadwick in the dark alley, and tells him who the informer is. He also says that a Vorta was meeting with the Syndicate, which Chadwick immediately frowns upon, and leaves to tell his superiors.

Act three

Chadwick extends O'Brien's assignment, as his superiors want to uncover why the Dominion is involving itself with the Syndicate.

Quickly becoming a valuable member of their team, O'Brien assists his new associates in an attempt to rob the Bank of Bolias. Using the dataport, Krole and O'Brien are quickly able to navigate around the bank's three-tier security protocol, and the isolation matrix protecting the data.

Soon after this, having spent time with Bilby, O'Brien realizes that he is beginning to worry about him, and what will become of him after his assignment ends. O'Brien expresses this during his next meeting with Chadwick. His response is that Bilby will be safest in a Federation prison, as long as they can get to him before the Syndicate.

This does little to help O'Brien, still troubled by what may lay ahead for Bilby, but even more by the fact that he will have to betray a man he now considers his friend.

It soon becomes clear what the Dominion want from the Syndicate. Raimus and the Vorta instruct Bilby and his team to execute the Klingon ambassador to Farius using the disruptors that O'Brien repaired in order to imply that the ambassador was killed in a dispute with his fellow countrymen. It is the hope of the Dominion that this will lead to a diplomatic breakdown between Klingons and Federation, ending their alliance.

O'Brien passes the information on to his handler. Chadwick leaves to inform the ambassador, but as he does so, O'Brien realizes that he has committed Bilby and his men to death at the hands of the Klingons. He rushes off to Bilby's apartment to try and stop them.


A Farian call girl

Act four

Bilby greets O'Brien on his door step and lets him in. Trying to talk Bilby out of the mission, O'Brien reveals that he is working for Starfleet. At first Bilby refuses to believe this, but O'Brien reasserts himself, and Bilby realizes the truth. However, he is still going to carry out the mission, as he knows that it is the only way to protect his wife and children from the Syndicate's retribution.

Knowing that he will be killed, Bilby makes a final request of O'Brien – to make sure his cat Chester is cared for once he is gone, before leaving for his doomed mission. The last thing he asks is if O'Brien has a family, and when Miles confirms he does Bilby is a little satisfied knowing family is the most important thing in the world. With that, Bilby leaves for the last time...

O'Brien returns to Deep Space 9, (Chadwick having decided to leave his final actions out of the report) and tells Bashir everything that happened, and can't help but feel upset over his friend's death and guilty for his indirect part in it. Bashir assures O'Brien that there was nothing he could have done except for his duty. O'Brien doesn't feel any better, and Bashir tells his friend that doesn't have all the answers for him he wants, but what he does know is that he's glad he's back. Bashir leaves, but Miles is not totally along having brought Chester back to the station with him. The cat goes to him and as O'Brien strokes his new pet, he can't help but feel weighed down by recent events.

Background information

  • Philip Kim's original idea for this episode was a comic story involving Jake saving the life of the daughter of the Orion Syndicate's leader, and, due to his actions, Jake is befriended by a number of high-ranking Syndicate members. At first, he loves it, with his new friends able to get him anything he wants whenever he wants. However, Jake and Nog have a small argument on the promenade and the next day, Jake discovers that Nog is in the infirmary after suffering a nasty beating. At this point, Jake realizes he's into something he can't control, and he goes to his father for help. The comic element of the story was to come from the fact that while Jake is trying to extricate himself from the Syndicate, Quark is trying to work his way into it, so he decides to become Jake's new best friend. Ultimately however, it turns out that the whole situation with the daughter had been set up by a member of the organization trying to usurp power for himself. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • Charles Hallahan had been cast in the role of Liam Bilby, but sadly passed away several days before principal photography began. Nick Tate, who initially lost the role to Hallahan, agreed to do it in his memory. However, despite Tate's excellent performance, the loss of Hallahan was something which Ira Steven Behr feels hurt the episode; "We wanted to put Colm Meaney against another actor and just let them hold the screen for forty-two minutes, and within this science fiction setting make you care about the humanity of these people. That was the intent. It was a fragile thing. The episode's success was totally dependent on that relationship. If the relationship sinks, then the whole episode sinks. If the relationship is okay, then the whole episode is okay. And I think that's what we had. We had okay." Behr's comments stem from the fact that when Hallahan was in the role, the Bilby/O'Brien relationship was going to be very much a father/son relationship, mainly due to the physical similarities between Hallahan and Meaney (same build, same height, same color hair etc) but with Tate, it was felt such that a relationship wouldn't work (no one could imagine Tate as Meaney's father), so it was changed to a simple friendship, which Behr feels damaged the emotional core of the narrative; "I still have trouble watching the show because I still always see Charlie in it. As a character, O'Brien is so genuine and so trustworthy, and there's no guile in him. And for me, Charlie was the perfect guy to play Bilby, because he had what O'Brien has. It would have been reflections of two guys who were a lot alike, and Charlie would have broken your heart." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • Farius Prime, which was mentioned in "The Maquis, Part I" as a side note, played a major part in this story, and was mentioned once again in "Prodigal Daughter", an episode which continues the arc of O'Brien's involvement with Bilby.
  • The Syndicate itself had previously been mentioned in "The Ascent" (where it planted a bomb on and crippled the runabout carrying Quark and Odo to a trial where Quark was scheduled to testify against it) and "A Simple Investigation" (where Arissa is working as an undercover agent in an attempt to infiltrate it).
  • Though Worf, Dax, Bashir, Leeta, and Quark coincidently visited Risa (in Season Five's "Let He Who Is Without Sin...") around the same time Bilby claims Raimus pursuaded a Starfleet officer working at Risa's weather control station to become an operative for the Syndicate, there is no indication that this character was ever seen on-screen in the earlier episode.
  • Gelnon was the Vorta who commanded the Jem'Hadar team who commandeered the USS Defiant in the previous episode "One Little Ship".
  • René Echevarria was a little disappointed with how this show turned out; "I'm not sure we found a level to this that made it truly an O'Brien show, or even truly a Deep Space Nine show. The story's a little familiar. Every television detective series has done a story about a crime fighter going undercover, getting involved, and coming to respect the code of the bad guy. So it wasn't a resounding success for me. But O'Brien is our Everyman, and if O'Brien can find himself sympathizing with a gangster-thug-killer, then anyone should be able to." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)

Video and DVD releases

Links and references


Also starring

Guest stars



Uncredited co-stars


Alpha Quadrant; Bilby family; Bilby, Morica; Bank of Bolias (Bolarus IX); bar; Bolians; cake; Cardassian; Chester; com booth; Connelly; criminal organization; dataport; Dayos IV; Degora Street; disruptor; Dopterians; Earth; Farius; Federation; Gowron; Graife; Graife's Bar; heartburn; induction coil; interfacing; Jem'Hadar; Jinami Street; Kimiko; Klingons; Klingon Empire; Krellan food; New Sydney; nozala sandwich; Orion Syndicate; power grid; Quark's; Risa; spiked; Starfleet; Starfleet Intelligence; tongo; vilm sauce; Vorta; weather modification network; witnessing Template:ShipType

External links

Previous episode:
"One Little Ship"
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season 6
Next episode:
"Change of Heart"

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