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To the Death (episode)

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"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
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 0 released in DS9 Remastered  
418th of 728 released in all
Gateway vandros4
Written By
Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe

Directed By
LeVar Burton
49904.2 (2372)
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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. Bashir quickly stands up and gives the chair to the commander, but then 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.

DS9 missing pylon

Deep Space 9 missing upper pylon 3

On the attacked portion of the station, 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. Odo then reports that a Jem'Hadar strike team beamed in from a civilian transport, set off a bomb in upper pylon 3, and stole some items from the science labs, all before the station could respond. About fifty people were killed, with many more injured. They left only forty-five minutes ago, so Sisko decides to follow their ion trail through the wormhole with the Defiant. Bashir stays behind to assist the wounded, but the rest of the crew remains with Sisko.

Act One

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. 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.

Act Two

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.

Act Three

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. Sisko and Omet'iklan break up the fight, again. 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. Omet'iklan says that Sisko is weak, that Sisko should have died in the place of Toman'torax, and that when the mission is over, Omet'iklan will make sure that he does.

Act Four

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.

DS9 crew with Jemhadar

The crew with the Jem'Hadar

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.

Act Five

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 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.

The Starfleet officers beam aboard the Defiant and return to Deep Space 9.

Memorable Quotes

"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

"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

"Am I really that interesting? You've been standing there staring at me for the last two hours."
"You are part of my combat team. I must learn to understand your behavior. Anticipate your actions."
"There must be something you'd rather do. Maybe get some sleep?"
"We don't sleep."
"How 'bout getting something to eat?"
"The white is the only thing we need."
"Don't sleep. Don't eat. What do you do for relaxation?"
"Relaxation would only make us weak."
"You people are no fun at all! Glad I'm not a Jem'Hadar woman..."
"There are no Jem'Hadar women."
"So what do you do... lay eggs?"
"Jem'Hadar are bred in birthing chambers. We are able to fight within three days of our emergence."
"Lucky you... so let me get this straight: No sleep. No food. No women. No wonder you're so angry. After thirty or forty years of that I'd be angry too."
"No Jem'Hadar has ever lived thirty years."
"How old are you?"
"I am eight."
"I would have guessed at least fifteen."
"Few Jem'Hadar live that long. If we reach twenty, we are considered Honored Elders... how old are you?"
"I stopped counting at three hundred."
(stunned) "You don't look it."
"Thank you."

- Dax and Virak'kara

"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

Background Information

  • This episode was filmed after "The Quickening" but it aired the week before.
  • 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)
  • 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.
  • 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 claims 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. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • 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)
  • 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). [1] 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.
Although this has been labeled a false rumor by Ronald D. Moore, (AOL chat, 1999) it is written in the script.
  • This episode is the first ever Star Trek show to be cut for violence. 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 BBFC added a further five seconds of picture and sound censoring and rated the episode 15.
  • The outdoor material for this episode was shot in Griffith Park's bird sanctuary.
  • 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 releases

This was one of only two volumes of DS9 (the other being 4.10) to receive a 15 certificate, due to the level of violence.
The Region 2 and Region 4 release of this episode recuts the moment where the First breaks the neck of the Second as a punishment. Instead of seeing the actual breaking, a shot of Worf is shown. The sound of the bone breaking is also removed.

Links and references


Also starring

Guest stars

Special guest star

Uncredited co-stars


Ahjess; Alpha Quadrant; Bajoran; Bajoran wormhole; battle drill; birthing chamber; Breen; chief of staff; 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; meninges; microfusion initiator; neutronium; O'Brien, Keiko; O'Brien, Molly; photonic amplifier; pediatric medicine; phaser rifle; privateer; prune juice; quantum torpedo; Rom; Romulans; senior staff; transporter protocol 5; Vandros IV; Vandros system; ziggurat

External links

Previous episode:
"For the Cause"
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season 4
Next episode:
"The Quickening"

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