(written from a Production point of view)
|"To the Death"|
|DS9, Episode 4x23|
Production number: 40510-496
First aired: 13 May 1996
|←||94th of 173 produced in DS9||→|
|←||93rd of 173 released in DS9||→|
|←||418th of 728 released in all||→|
| Written By|
Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Following a hit and run attack on Deep Space 9 by a band of rogue Jem'Hadar, Sisko and his crew are joined by the Dominion on a mission to locate the rebels who have discovered another Iconian Gateway.
- "Captain's log, stardate 49904.2. After driving away Breen privateers from the Bajoran colony of Free Haven we are returning to Deep Space 9."
Dax and Chief O'Brien are sitting in the mess hall aboard the USS Defiant discussing Molly's habit of coming to sleep in bed with her parents as Dr. Bashir gets a drink and approaches. Unknowingly, Bashir sits in Commander Worf's favorite chair, and when advised to choose a different seat by Dax and O'Brien, chooses to remain in the chair. Worf then enters the mess hall, gets an extra-large prune juice from the replicator, and walks towards his favorite chair. He slows for a moment when he sees Bashir in it, but only completes the distance to the table and silently waits while looking at him. Pretending to have just noticed him, Bashir holds the look for a few moments, then with amusement politely relinquishes the chair to the commander. Worf thanks him but just as he is sitting down, a red alert sounds and all senior staff are called to bridge by Captain Sisko, where they find out that Deep Space 9 has been attacked and an upper pylon has been destroyed.
On the attacked portion of the station, a panicked Quark is looking for his brother Rom, and finds out that he is fine and working with the damage control teams headed by Kira Nerys. Sisko then arrives demanding to know what happened, and Odo reports that a Jem'Hadar strike team beamed in from a civilian transport, set off a bomb in upper pylon 3 before the crew could respond, stole some items from the science labs and left through the wormhole. So far eighteen people are confirmed dead with thirty-one missing and over a hundred injured. They left only forty-five minutes ago, meaning their ion trail can still be detected. Deciding that the Jem'Hadar must pay for this unprovoked attack, Sisko decides to leave immediately and pursue them. Bashir stays behind to assist the wounded, while Odo leaves with the rest of the Defiant crew.
The Jem'Hadar used a magneton pulse to hide their trail, and the Defiant has trouble locating them, but stumbles upon a badly-damaged Jem'Hadar attack ship on the verge of exploding. Worf notes that the Jem'Hadar that attacked the station came from a civilian transport and not an attack ship, so this can't be the same group Sisko has the surviving crew beamed aboard the Defiant without their weapons, which consists of six Jem'Hadar soldiers and their Vorta commander, Weyoun, who orders his men to stand down and asks for a word in private with Sisko.
In the Defiant's mess hall, Weyoun says that their ship was attacked by the same Jem'Hadar who attacked Deep Space 9. These Jem'Hadar are renegades, and Weyoun has been tasked with eliminating them, but he needs Sisko's help. Sisko is disbelieving, saying that the Dominion could send a fleet of warships to eliminate the renegades, but Weyoun says they don't have the time. Several months ago, a Dominion science team discovered the remains of an Iconian gateway on a remote outpost world, Vandros IV. Unfortunately, the science team's Jem'Hadar guards rebelled and seized control of the gateway. Weyoun guesses that the equipment stolen from Deep Space 9 could be used to repair the gateway – which, if made operational, could enable the renegades to teleport, instantaneously, to any world or solar system in the galaxy. Dominion experts have already predicted that if the renegades convince the rest of the Jem'Hadar to revolt, they could take over the entire Dominion in less than a year.
Though moved, Sisko claims that that isn't his problem, but Weyoun begs to differ: if the Jem'Hadar seize control of the Dominion, they will almost certainly declare war on the Federation, and with the gateway, they could invade any Alpha Quadrant world at will, even if the wormhole were shut down. Sisko is shaken, but still not entirely convinced. He asks why the Founders cannot simply order the renegades to stand down – since, after all, obedience to the Founders has been genetically hard-wired into the Jem'Hadar's make-up. Weyoun, shifting uneasily, admits that the degree of the Founders' control over the Jem'Hadar has been "somewhat overstated," but insists that the Dominion is, and will always be, stable. Sisko, after considering the threat the gateway poses to both their sides, agrees to help Weyoun destroy it and the rebel Jem'Hadar.
Aboard the bridge, Sisko informs his staff about their mission. Worf interjects that he was part of the away team from the Enterprise that discovered the Iconian homeworld in the Romulan Neutral Zone and was forced to destroy the gateway they found there to keep it out of the hands of the Romulans – so Worf fully appreciates the danger the gateway poses. Dax and O'Brien expresses some unease about working with Weyoun's Jem'Hadar, especially since they are as likely to revolt if they learn about the gateway, which could help liberate their entire race. For that reason, Sisko warns, they have to keep it a secret from them.
In his quarters, Sisko summons First Omet'iklan, the Jem'Hadar commander. Omet'iklan makes no secret of his contempt for the Federation, but agrees that that dislike is trumped by his duty to punish the renegades. Sisko makes clear that, for the duration of the mission, Omet'iklan and his men are under his command, not Weyoun's. Omet'iklan appears to accept this, but adds, ominously, that after the mission is completed, "we shall see."
There is a joint briefing in the mess hall. Since the ziggurat that the renegades are using as a base (where the gateway is housed) is composed of solid neutronium, it cannot be destroyed from orbit with quantum torpedoes, which means they have to do it "the hard way," with a ground assault. Omet'iklan reports the number of the renegades as around 150, and several of the Starfleet officers remark that they don't like the odds. When Worf remarks that silencing all nine guards outside the ziggurat before one of them raises the alarm will be difficult, the Jem'Hadar Second, Toman'torax, taunts him that the much-touted Klingon bravery is a sham, and he will look forward to the day when the Dominion invades the Klingon Empire and massacres its people. Worf launches himself at the Jem'Hadar, but the two are pulled apart by Sisko and Omet'iklan.
During a simulated assault, a Defiant crew storms into a chamber of their "objective", neutralizes two Jem'Hadar guards, but hesitates, knowing there must be a third somewhere. Then the lights blink on, signifying that, had that been real, the room's auto-defense systems would have engaged and vaporized them all. Omet'iklan, watching from above, say they should have detonated the explosives then and there to ensure success. He, Sisko, and Weyoun enter a turbolift, Omet'iklan insisting that their mission cannot succeed as long as the Federation's officers value their lives over success. Sisko disagrees, saying that a healthy fear of death does wonders for keeping officers on their toes. Omet'iklan recommends that the Jem'Hadar train in mixed teams with the Defiant's crew, but Weyoun starts to overrule him (concerned for the secrecy of their objective). Omet'iklan interrupts, informing Weyoun that he and his men know all about the gateway. Weyoun may believe that the Jem'Hadar's loyalty is bought with deceptions and "the white," but the truth is that their loyalty to the Founders is inherent, unwavering, and stronger than the Vorta's ever will be. If the renegades disagree with this, then they deserve death. Sisko agrees that mixed teams will be used, but makes clear that he does not intend for this to be a suicide mission.
A short time later, Dax is put off by a Jem'Hadar, Virak'kara, assigned to her squad, who has been staring at her for hours on end, trying to learn more about her "patterns." Conversing with him, Dax learns some new (and unsettling) facts about the Jem'Hadar's way of life:
- They are bred in "birthing chambers" (and for that reason, their species has no females) and their growth cycle is such that they reach maturity and are ready to fight within three days;
- They do not sleep, eat, or engage in any kind of recreational activity; and
- Because of the frequency with which they are deployed in battle, their lifespans are extremely short; no Jem'Hadar has ever reached the age of thirty, and those that reach age twenty are considered "Honored Elders"; Virak'kara himself is only eight, and appears stunned when Dax casually mentions that she's over three hundred.
She shares these findings with Worf and O'Brien over a meal, and they are further disturbed to witness another one: Weyoun is eating by himself in a corner, when the Jem'Hadar enter with his white dispenser and he grudgingly interrupts his meal to unlock it and pass out their next dosage.
After this is done, Toman'torax swaggers over to the officers' table and threatens O'Brien, starting a fight with Worf which quickly escalates into a massive brawl between the Starfleet officers and the Jem'Hadar before Sisko and Omet'iklan arrives and breaks things up. Both Worf and Toman'torax admit to starting the fight, with the Second admitting that he has failed to obey orders. Omet'iklan punishes him by snapping his neck. He is then amazed, and outraged, when Sisko punishes Worf by confining him to his quarters while not on duty before angrily ordering the other officers to clear the room. Omet'iklan says that Sisko is weak, that Sisko should have been killed in the place of Worf, and that when the mission is over, Omet'iklan will make sure that he does.
Weyoun confronts Odo in a hall and tells him that his people still love him, and that they want him back. Odo says that he does not love them back, and that he does not want to return.
As the Defiant approaches Vandros IV, O'Brien is recording a farewell message for his wife and daughter. He confides to Dax that it is the eleventh time he has done so, and every time he does, he is afraid that it will be the message they end up hearing. Dax assures him that her many years of experience tell her that he will die of extreme old age, peacefully in bed, and surrounded by loving friends and relatives. Then she adds that she will file his farewell message along with the one she has recorded to her mother, "just in case."
Before going to his quarters as ordered, Worf approaches Sisko and warns him to stay on the ship during the battle, so Omet'iklan cannot make good on his threat to murder him. Sisko declines, and Worf tells the captain to be watchful, "reassuring" him that, even if Omet'iklan succeeds in killing Sisko, Worf will make sure he does not live to brag about it.
As the Defiant is approaching the planet, O'Brien hands out phaser rifles to the crew and the Jem'Hadar. Sisko tells the strike force to prepare to beam down, but Omet'iklan tells him to wait, and intones a Jem'Hadar battle chant, ending, "Remember: victory is life."
On the planet, the teams are approaching the ziggurat, when Omet'iklan angrily whispers that they have been betrayed, their weapons have been sabotaged. The Defiant officers check their weapons, and also find them non-functional. Dax theorizes that the gateway is generating some kind of dampening field. At that moment, several Jem'Hadar materialize and ambush the crew with melee weapons.
The team overpowers the Jem'Hadar, losing two Defiant crewmen in the process. Omet'iklan guesses that, without energy weapons or the element of surprise, Sisko will abort the mission. Sisko says, "Guess again!", picks up a kar'takin, and leads the team towards the ziggurat.
The teams storm into the ziggurat, killing several of the renegades, until O'Brien, Sisko, and Omet'iklan reach the chamber where the gateway is. After they kill the two Jem'Hadar on guard, O'Brien starts to set the explosives (which have a chemical backup detonator unaffected by the gateway's interference).
Sisko notices a decloaking Jem'Hadar lunging at Omet'iklan and pushes him out of the way, receiving a wound in his arm for his trouble. Omet'iklan is stunned that Sisko would risk his life to save his, even after being threatened. They all exit the ziggurat and make their way to a safe distance by the time the bombs explode.
With the gateway destroyed, their phasers are functional again. Weyoun beams down with a Defiant security officer and offers his congratulations to everyone, and asks to inspect the remains. Instead, Omet'iklan turns his rifle on the Vorta and vaporizes him, as punishment for doubting the Jem'Hadar's loyalty.
There is a tense moment, as the Defiant crew and the Jem'Hadar stand off against each other, but Omet'iklan lowers his weapon, saying that there has been enough killing for one day. He announces that he and his men will stay on the planet to hunt down and kill the remaining renegades. Sisko wishes him luck, but Omet'iklan warns him that, though they fought well together, they will be enemies the next time they meet. With that, the Jem'Hadar cloak and vanish and the weary Starfleet officers beam aboard the Defiant.
"Has anyone seen my brother Rom?! He told me he was gonna be working on one of the upper pylons today!"
"He's fine, I saw him with one of the damage-control teams on Level 5."
"Oh, what a relief... Wait 'til I find him, I'll kill him for scaring me like that!!"
- - Quark and Kira
"Omet'iklan, control your men. These people saved our lives."
"And for that we shall take advantage of their mistake."
- - Weyoun and Omet'iklan
"Couldn't the Founders just order them to surrender? From what I know, the Jem'Hadar have been genetically-engineered to obey them?!"
"The Founders' ability to control the Jem'Hadar has been somewhat... overstated. Otherwise we never would've had to addict them to the white."
"Sounds like the Dominion isn't quite as stable as you'd like us to believe."
"The Dominion has endured for two thousand years, and will continue to endure long after the Federation has crumbled into dust... but we'll leave that to history."
- - Sisko and Weyoun
"So let me get this straight, we're going to help the Jem'Hadar fight the Jem'Hadar?"
- - Dax
"There'll be a joint briefing session at 1900 hours."
"Followed by a get-to-know-you buffet at 1930."
"And I forgot my dress uniform."
- - Sisko, O'Brien, and Dax
"I was on the mission that discovered the Iconian homeworld. We were forced to destroy the Gateway we found there rather than let it fall into the hands of the Romulans, and Starfleet Command supported our decision."
- - Worf
"Get back to your stations or go to your quarters. Either way, I want this room cleared. NOW!"
- - Sisko, to the Defiant crew and the Jem'Hadar in the mess hall
"It is as you said. The Klingon will to fight pales in comparison to our own."
"Yes. He has the look of a warrior, but the heart of a coward."
- - The Jem'Hadar, speaking among themselves before the battle
"First Omet'iklan, can you vouch for the loyalty of your men?"
"We pledge our loyalty to the Founders, from now until death."
"Then receive this reward from the Founders, may it keep you strong."
- - Omet'iklan, Jem'Hadar troops, and Weyoun
"I am First Omet'iklan, and I am dead. As of this moment, we are all dead. We go into battle to reclaim our lives. This we do gladly, for we are Jem'Hadar. Remember, victory is life."
(in unison)"Victory is life."
"Such a delightful people."
- - Omet'iklan, Jem'Hadar troops, and Weyoun
"I am Chief Miles Edward O'Brien. I'm very much alive and I intend to stay that way."
"Amen. Let's get it done!"
- - O'Brien, to the Federation attack group after the Jem'Hadar war cry is first heard, and Sisko
Story and scriptEdit
- According to Robert Hewitt Wolfe, "To the Death" was written specifically to give the Jem'Hadar more depth; "our intention was to show that the more you learn about them, the less you want to be around them. If you meet the Borg on a one-on-one basis, they're kind of cuddly, and when you get to know the Klingons, they're not so scary anymore. But the Jem'Hadar, when you really get to know them, are damn scary guys." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Wolfe also had another intention for the depiction of the Jem'Hadar in the episode. Wolfe commented: "We wanted to spend some time with some Jem'Hadar who weren't screwed up, because the two times we spent any time with the Jem'Hadar was the kid who is so young and doesn't know what he's feeling ("The Abandoned") and also the ones in "Hippocratic Oath". So we wanted to show what a functional Jem'Hadar society is, because we know so much more about them than anyone does and we wanted to get some of that information out there so the audience could understand them a little better. It seems that the more you learn about the Klingons, the less scary they are. The more you learn about the Cardassians, the less scary they are in some ways. What we want with the Jem'Hadar is that the more you learn about them, the more scary they are. These are not the kind of guys you want to party with". (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p 120)
- When the writers were considering possible missions for Starfleet and the Jem'Hadar to go on, one story idea would inspire the season finale, "Broken Link". Robert Hewitt Wolfe commented: "When we talked about doing 'To the Death', we talked about twenty different missions the Jem'Hadar could go on with Starfleet. One of the missions we talked about is that they have to go and kill Gowron, because they find out he's a renegade shapeshifter. We played with that for quite a while and it didn't come together, so we went back to the original story". (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p 121)
- According to the script, when Weyoun "claps" Odo on the shoulder, he infected him with the virus that presents itself in "Broken Link" and necessitates his return to the Great Link (although the way the scene is filmed it does not allow the "clap" to be seen on screen). (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion - A Series Guide and Script Library) This means that as of this point, Odo is infected with two viruses, one by Starfleet and one by the Founders. One may assume the Starfleet virus was dormant during Odo's return to the Great Link at the end of the season.
- In the script, Bashir orders Tarkalean tea with "brescha" fruit at the start of the episode. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion - A Series Guide and Script Library)
Production and broadcastEdit
- This episode marks the first appearance of Weyoun (Jeffrey Combs) in the series. Of the character, Combs says, "Weyoun is the snake of the universe. He's the smiling car salesman who'll tell you anything to make you feel as if you're the most important thing in his life just to get you to buy his product." Combs commented that he based the performance on a scene in Stanley Kubrick's 1975 film Barry Lyndon where two characters are being really formal and nice to one another, showing perfect etiquette, but under the surface, it is obvious they despise each other. The character of Weyoun was written to be a one-show character, but the producers were so impressed with Combs, and the character got such a strong reaction from the fans, that they decided to bring him back in season 5, inventing the concept that the Vorta routinely clone themselves to explain it. According to Ira Steven Behr, "[in] multitalented Jeffrey Combs, we finally had a Vorta who sold the Vorta." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- "To the Death" was the fifth episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine that LeVar Burton directed and the first of his five to feature the Jem'Hadar. Burton commented: "I had to look at previous episodes to understand who they were and what their relationship to the Founders is". Burton decided that Clarence Williams III would be an excellent choice to play the role of Omet'iklan. Burton commented: "He's an old friend of mine, but we'd never worked together before. This was just an opportunity to say, 'Hey, CW, you want to come and do this thing?'" (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 348)
- Both LeVar Burton and first assistant director B.C. Cameron found directing the episode extremely difficult. Burton commented: "We had a day of location shooting that was my worst day as a director, because there was so much work and so little time. There was a huge number of people on location, including all the Jem'Hadar who require makeup and two major fight sequences to stage. All were elements that felt like they conspired to just bite me in the ass". Cameron commented: "LeVar and I went out to Griffith Park's bird sanctuary the night before and walked the sets I remember thinking, 'There's no way we're gonna get all this work done. We had twenty-five Jem'Hadar stuntmen who had three o'clock makeup calls. We spent the whole day at the top of the bird sanctuary, and the only way up and down was by golf cart. The cast trailers and the honeywagon were way down below. So if anyone went down, we had to wait and wait to get them back up again. Logistically, it was a nightmare". (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- An error led to the staff confusing the Iconians with the Tkon Empire from TNG: "The Last Outpost" and so graphics for the set was designed around the Tkon. The error was noticed a day before filming began and new, corrected graphics were completed in time for the episode. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 348)
- This episode was cut for violence, a first for the series and perhaps for Star Trek itself. According to Ira Steven Behr, forty-five seconds of hand-to-hand combat was cut prior to the episode being screened. This displeased Behr a great deal; "that really hurt the show. We built up to this battle and now it's just perfunctory. The fans who wrote letters on the internet saw that the rhythms were thrown off." Similarly unimpressed was stunt coordinator Dennis Madalone; "in the first edited version, fifty-two Jem'Hadar had been killed. Dax had killed ten and Sisko had killed seven. But when the censors got hold of it, they took out over thirty-two Jem'Hadar deaths." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion) The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) cut a further five seconds (specifically to remove the sound of a neck being broken) and rated the episode 15.
- Terry Farrell was fine with the cuts, commenting: "I killed so many Jem'Hadar warriors that they had to cut some of it out. I think I killed more of them than Worf did. At one point, I had three on my sword. I said to Dennis Madalone, our stunt coordinator, 'Maybe this is too much'. He said, 'No, no, no,. You're Dax'. Then Rick Berman called and said, 'You know there's this one part where you're holding back three Jem'Hadar. I thought that was a little much. I hope you don't mind that I cut it'. I didn't mind at all because it was completely unrealistic. If I can't beat Worf, there's no way that I'm beating three Jem'Hadar at once". (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine Vol. 18)
- This episode was filmed after "The Quickening" but it aired the week before.
- Ira Steven Behr commented: "Thirty-two seconds of violence was cut out. Lots of violence between Jem'Hadar and Federation people. Thirty-two seconds of nothing but action, and I wish it had happened. It kind of restored my faith in the Jem'Hadar, and I think it really makes them interesting. I thought Clarence Williams was good; we finally had Jeffrey Combs back. I thought it really filled in a lot of the Dominion backstory. It was really a tense little episode. I just wish it had been thirty-two seconds longer". (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p 120)
- Ronald D. Moore commented: "The only criticism that I have about ["To the Death"] is that I wish we had been able to get the location that we used for "The Quickening" and use it there, because that was a tremendous location. A lot of production value, and it looked wonderful. 'To the Death' was much smaller, not quite as sweeping. I liked Clarence Williams III, I always have, and I thought he really personified the Jem'Hadar for the first time in a way that the audience could grab onto. The Jem'Hadar in a lot of episodes tend to bland out. Sometimes its hard to differentiate between them and [Williams] brought something to that performance the made him at least stand alone among the race. Also, chopping and hacking has always been one of my favorite things. Not since "Blood Oath" has there been so much chopping and hacking". (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p 120)
- René Echevarria commented: "A hugely important episode for us, and I think we learned some really fascinating things about the Jem'Hadar. It was a show that I was very sceptical of, wondering what we were going to do for three acts on the Defiant with the Jem'Hadar. Robert and Ira were saying, 'We'll find stuff', and they really did find some great, fascinating stuff about them. Finally we fleshed them out in a believable way that's a really important building block". (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p 120)
- Dennis Madalone commented: "This episode should have been the biggest action show ever. We had all the manpower and LeVar [Burton] got it all on film. We made it violent and rich just like "Battle Lines" and "Blood Oath"." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 348)
- This episode featured the second Iconian gateway after its introduction in TNG: "Contagion". Some of the places shown in the Iconian gateways are Starfleet Command, Paris, Earth, and Bajor.
- Worf refers to the events from "Contagion", mentioning that Starfleet Command supported Captain Picard's decision to destroy the gateway on Iconia.
- This is the first appearance of the Vorta since "The Search, Part II", the second episode of the third season.
- Jeffrey Combs (Weyoun) and Brian Thompson (Toman'torax) later appeared in ENT: "Babel One", "United", and "The Aenar" together, playing Commander Shran and Admiral Valdore respectively.
- Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko) does not appear in this episode.
Video and DVD releasesEdit
- As part of the UK VHS collection Star Trek - Greatest Battles: 16 November 1998
- As part of the DS9 Season 4 DVD collection
Links and referencesEdit
Also starring Edit
- Rene Auberjonois as Odo
- Michael Dorn as Lieutenant Commander Worf
- Terry Farrell as Lieutenant Commander Dax
- Colm Meaney as Chief O'Brien
- Armin Shimerman as Quark
- Alexander Siddig as Doctor Bashir
- Nana Visitor as Major Kira
Special guest starEdit
- Kathleen Demor as a security officer
- Leslie Hoffman as a Starfleet ensign
- Scott Leva as Ensign Ramirez
- James Lee Stanley as a Bajoran security deputy
- Chester E. Tripp III as a security lieutenant
- Unknown performers as
Ahjess; Alpha Quadrant; Bajoran; Bajoran wormhole; battle drill; birthing chamber; Breen; chief of staff; confined to quarters; Constable; cranial meninges; dampening field; Dax, Lela; Dominion; Dominion history; Dominion Intelligence; EPS power stabilizer; Federation President; field supervisor; Free Haven; garrison; Honored Elder; Iconia; Iconian; Iconian gateway; ion trail; Jem'Hadar; Jem'Hadar warship; ketracel-white; Klingon; Klingon Empire; magneton pulse; mek'leth; microfusion initiator; neutronium; O'Brien, Keiko; O'Brien, Molly; photonic amplifier; pediatric medicine; phaser rifle; privateer; prune juice; psychographic profile; quantum torpedo; Rom; Romulans; senior staff; transporter protocol 5; Vandros IV; ziggurat
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