Top Ten Episodes of Star Trek DS9 #10: Civil Defense
This is the first in a series of blog posts where I will reveal my top 10 episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The ratings are based soley on my enjoyment of each episode, not on how well the character development was, et cetera. You will not see the Visitor on my list because of this; I simply did not enjoy it, no matter how great an episode it is supposed to be. But enough of that, let's get into this!
#10. Civil Defense (Episode 57)
While converting the station's old ore processing unit into a deuterium refinery, Chief O'Brien and Jake Sisko accidentally trip an old Cardassian security program, which was set to put the station on lockdown in the event of a Bajoran uprising during the occupation.
O'Brien, Jake, and Commander Sisko are trapped in the ore processing unit, an area of the station which was once run using Bajoran slave laborers. Failsafes in the system prevent the rest of the crew from accessing the area or beaming the trapped people out. When Jake crawls up the ore chute and tries to break out, the entire station locks down. An image of Gul Dukat plays on all the monitors, announcing that rioting Bajorans have escaped. Poisonous gas is released into the ore processing unit.
In Ops, Major Kira, Dr. Bashir, and Dax have been locked in to prevent presumed homicidal Bajoran workers from storming the station's control center. Odo is dismayed to find himself locked in his security office with Quark.
As the crew works to lift the lockdown program, another failsafe is tripped. The Dukat program on the monitors warns the crew that the whole habitat ring will soon be flooded with poisonous gas. The crew members in Ops are surprised to see Garak wander in. As a Cardassian, his access codes allow him to travel around the station during the lockdown, which was meant only to contain Bajoran workers, not their Cardassian overlords.
He advises the crew to shut off the life support system, which will prevent the release of the poison gas. Unfortunately, this will also leave them only twelve hours to resolve their situation before the oxygen runs out. He discovers he is wrong about that when the Dukat program announces that the station will self-destruct in two hours. When Garak tries to hack into the computer using Gul Dukat's identity, yet another failsafe locks him out and activates an array of weapons in Ops that shoot random blasts of phaser fire. The crew dives for cover.
Suddenly, they receive a visitor. It's the real Gul Dukat, who arrives in Ops after having received notification that the system had been tripped. He teases the hapless crew about their predicament, sauntering safely around Ops because the phaser fire is programmed to target non-Cardassians (even Garak is safe, although Dukat angrily points out that he would have made an exception if Garak had been on the station when Dukat designed this program). After deactivating the weapons in Ops, he attempts to use his leverage to get Major Kira to agree to having a Cardassian garrison placed on the station, but she refuses. While attempting to return to his ship, Dukat's delight is short-lived when a new program pops up onto the monitors. It is Legate Kell, Dukat's former commanding officer, who has left this recording in case Dukat tried to abandon the station during a worker revolt. Kell's voice angrily informs Dukat that all of his access codes have been eliminated and that he must now "contemplate the depth of [his] disgrace...and try to die like a Cardassian." Now, no one - not even Dukat - will be allowed to leave the area before the self-destruct.
In the ore processing unit, O'Brien and the Siskos have managed to blast their way out by blowing up leftover ore. From Ops, Dax manages to shut down the force fields set up in all the station's halls. With ten minutes left, Sisko makes his way to the computer that controls the station's shielding, and fortifies the shields just enough to absorb the energy of the station's self-destruct system, saving the station.
Why it is on this list:
The Dukat moments in this episode are priceless. He goes from having complete control of the situation to being desperate. The look on his face after the message from Legate Kell plays is hilarious, and the banter between Garak and Dukat outmatches all the other episodes. Also, the character interaction in general is well thought out.
I know there are some who would get on my case about this episode, and I was hesitant to put it on my list. It is a light-hearted episode, quite the opposite of DS9 as a whole. I have seen it probably more than 20 times, as it was my sister's favorite when I was growing up. Don't worry, though; there are not too many light-hearted episodes on this list, and the dark ones are coming soon.
The episode holds value to me because I've seen it so many times, and because of the hilarious role of my favorite character, Gul Dukat.