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To the Death

Production no.: 496
Written by: Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by: LeVar Burton
Stardate: 49904.2 
First satellite airdate: May 11, 1996
Brian Thompson ............
Scott Haven ..................
Jeffrey Combs ...............
Clarence Williams III .....

The Defiant is headed back to DS9 after driving Breen privateers away from a Bajoran colony. A conversation in the mess hall is interrupted by a red alert. When the officers get to the bridge, they see that the ship has arrived back at the station to find one of the upper pylons half blown away.

Kira, wounded, is directing damage control in one of the corridors, and reassures Quark that Rom is okay. Sisko arrives and asks for a report; Kira tells him that a Jem'Hadar strike team beamed aboard from a civilian transport, set off an explosive device in the upper pylon as a diversion, then raided the science lab, the reactor control facility, and several cargo bays. Then they went through the wormhole, leaving many people dead, wounded, or missing. Learning that the attack took place only 45 minutes ago, Dax says they can follow the Jem'Hadar's ion trail in the Defiant. Sisko beams up with Dax and Odo.

Cloaked, the Defiant hunts for the raiders in the Gamma Quadrant. The trail is getting fainter; the Jem'Hadar are possibly covering their tracks with a magneton pulse. Then they come across a drifting Jem'Hadar destroyer, obviously heavily damaged and emitting a distress signal. It's not the vessel they're looking for. With the other ship's reactor about to blow, Sisko orders the seven life signs there beamed over.

Six Jem'Hadar and a Vorta arrive on the Defiant. Their weapons were removed in transit, and they face Sisko, Odo, Worf, and a security team armed with phaser rifles. "Even without weapons, we are more than a match for you," declares the Jem'Hadar First, Omet'iklan. Two of his officers note the presence of a Klingon and "the traitor", Odo. "The Founders will be pleased." However, the Vorta, whose name is Weyoun, takes charge of them. When Sisko tells Weyoun that the station was attacked by a Jem'Hadar strike team, Weyoun says, "I know. They attacked us too." He asks to speak to Sisko in private.

Alone, Weyoun looks admiringly at Sisko. "Captain Benjamin Sisko. I feel honored. Your psychographic profile is required reading for Vorta field supervisors. I probably know things about you you don't know yourself." He only half-seriously offers Sisko a chance to be absolute ruler of the Federation, and chuckles charmingly when Sisko shoots it down. "Just doing my job." Weyoun is willing to lead Sisko to the Jem'Hadar who attacked the station, in return for Sisko's help in eliminating them. The raiders, he explains, are renegades who have abandoned their allegiance to the Dominion. Sisko asks why Weyoun doesn't simply send a Dominion fleet after them; Weyoun says there isn't time.

"Captain, are you familiar with the Iconians?" The Iconians, Sisko knows, were a race who controlled a vast interstellar empire, millennia ago, using "gateways", sophisticated transporters capable of moving them instantaneously over vast distances. One of these gateways has been found by the Dominion, and while their scientists were restoring it, the Jem'Hadar guards there rebelled. Now they are trying to complete the gateway themselves, and if they succeed, they will become virtually invincible. It could lead to a Jem'Hadar takeover of the Dominion, and then they can easily go on to the Alpha Quadrant.

Sisko asks why the Founders can't just order them to surrender. Reluctantly, Weyoun admits, "The Founders' ability to control the Jem'Hadar has been somewhat...overstated. Otherwise, we never would have had to addict them to the white." "Sounds like the Dominion isn't quite as stable as you'd like us to believe," Sisko observes. Weyoun gives him a steely look. "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 all that to history. Right now, we have a more pressing concern. The gateway must be destroyed. Agreed?" "Agreed," says Sisko at last.

The Captain discusses it with his officers, including the fact that according to Weyoun, his Jem'Hadar don't know about the gateway; they think this is merely a search-and-destroy mission. "There'll be a joint briefing session at nineteen hundred hours," Sisko announces. "Followed by a get-to-know-you buffet at nineteen thirty," O'Brien jokes. Dax smiles. "And I forgot my dress uniform."

Sisko then has a talk with Omet'iklan. "Luckily for you," the Jem'Hadar leader says coldly, "the only thing I despise more than the Federation is a Jem'Hadar soldier who breaks his vow of allegiance." Sisko makes it clear that he is giving the orders on this mission, and that he will hold Omet'iklan responsible for the conduct of his men. Omet'iklan accepts the conditions. "After all, I am the First." "As far as I'm concerned," Sisko retorts, "on this mission, I'm the First." Omet'iklan eyes him evenly. "Until the traitors are found and terminated. After that, we shall see."

At the briefing, Sisko presents a map of the abandoned city on the planet containing the gateway, and for the benefit of the Jem'Hadar, says the objective is to destroy the arms and supply cache. They won't be able to beam in, nor will they be able to destroy the base from orbit, so they will have to fight their way in. "As it should be," says Second Toman'torax. "It is our duty to punish those who would break their vow of loyalty." He looks at Odo, who glares back. "Are you accusing me of something?" "It is not for us to accuse a god of betraying heaven," says Omet'iklan. "The gods themselves will sit in judgment over you." "I'm no god," declares Odo, "and neither are the Founders. The sooner you realize that, the better off you'll be."

The briefing goes on. When Sisko indicates the chosen beam-in site and Worf notes the difficulty of neutralizing the guards, the Jem'Hadar take his appraisal as a sign of weakness, commenting on Worf's lack of courage. Worf takes the bait. "If you would like to test my courage -- " "All right, that's enough," says Sisko, but Toman'torax goes on to directly taunt Worf, and the two grab each other around the neck. Both Sisko and Omet'iklan break it up. "I promise, you'll both have more fight than you can handle before this is over," Sisko tells them.

A battle drill is held, and the Starfleet officers don't do too well; they spend too long looking for the standard third Jem'Hadar guard before arming their "explosives". Omet'iklan tells them there was no third guard. "In battle, nothing is certain." He is disgusted that the Federation people weren't willing to blow themselves up with the room if necessary. "This is a waste of time. They'll never succeed, as long as they value their lives more than victory." "There's something to be said for soldiers who aren't afraid to die," Weyoun comments to Sisko, who replies, "I don't know. I've found nothing keeps me alert quite like a healthy fear of death."

On their way to the bridge, Sisko expresses displeasure with Omet'iklan's constant show of contempt for the non-Jem'Hadar. He'd like him to at least pretend they're on the same side. "The only way my troops can come to respect your crew is to fight alongside them," says Omet'iklan. "Mixed teams for every aspect of the mission." Weyoun says that's not practical, and Omet'iklan openly calls his Vorta a fool. He reveals that he and his men know all about the gateway. "You think you have to lie to us, and use the white to ensure our loyalty. But the fact is, we are more loyal to the Founders than the Vorta ever will be. It is the reason for our existence. It is the core of our being." "There's an entire company of Jem'Hadar down on Vandros IV who would disagree with you," says Weyoun. Omet'iklan replies, "And for that, they will die."

Sisko agrees to mixed teams. "But let's get one thing straight. This isn't going to be a suicide mission. As far as I'm concerned, everyone who goes in, comes back out. Starfleet and Jem'Hadar alike." "Your concern for life is touching," Omet'iklan remarks snidely. "Let's hope it doesn't stop us from achieving our objectives."

Later, Dax is at the helm, and is mighty bugged by a Jem'Hadar named Virak'kara who is on her combat team. He's been standing there staring at her, saying he is trying to understand her behavior. In the course of trying to get him to leave and go do something else, Dax learns several interesting facts about the Jem'Hadar: they don't sleep or eat or relax; there are no Jem'Hadar women, and their lifespan limit is about 20 years.

She passes this information on to Worf, O'Brien, and Odo later in the mess hall. Odo can't help but notice Weyoun across the room, staring at them, or rather, him (as O'Brien points out). "I wonder what would happen if you went over there and ordered him to stand on his head," O'Brien muses. They watch as the Jem'Hadar come in for their dispensation of white from a case reluctantly opened by Weyoun. Then Toman'torax approaches O'Brien to tell him it's time for another drill. O'Brien says he's not ready yet. Toman'torax makes a nasty remark about cowardice again, and it escalates from there, with Worf of course jumping in to prove his bravery. The fight is stopped by Sisko and Omet'iklan.

The Jem'Hadar First administers swift punishment to his second, by snapping his neck. He then waits for Sisko to do the same to Worf, but Sisko instead confines Worf to quarters when not on duty. "You call that discipline?" Omet'iklan asks. "A dead man can't learn from his mistakes," Sisko replies. "I don't get the same joy out of killing as you do." Omet'iklan counters that he did not enjoy killing Toman'torax, who was his valued Second. "I did what had to be done, what any First would do. I placed the good of the unit above my personal feelings. Any soldier who cannot follow orders is a danger to his unit, and must be eliminated." "Mr. Worf is not a danger to my command," says Sisko. "But if I eliminate him for a simple breach of discipline, then I would be. My men would stop trusting me. And I wouldn't blame them." Omet'iklan looks at him in contempt. "You are weak. You should die in his place. And when this mission is over, I will see that you do."

Odo has an encounter in a corridor with Weyoun, who admits he finds it disturbing to see Odo working for the Federation. "You are a Founder. You should be the one giving the orders. To them, to the Jem'Hadar, or even me." "So, if I order you to leave me alone, you will?" Odo asks pointedly. Weyoun agrees, but asks him to hear him out. "Your people want you to come home, Odo. No matter what differences you may have with them, no matter what mistakes you may have made, they still love you." "Maybe they do," says Odo evenly. "But I don't love them." Weyoun smiles. "You're lying. And you're not very good at it. I, on the other hand, am an expert at lies. Both in telling them, and in spotting them. So you may as well admit the truth. More than anything in your life, you want to return to your people. And I can make that possible...All I need to know is, are you ready to go home?" "No," Odo says. "But I am ready to end this conversation." Weyoun withdraws.

O'Brien hands Dax an isolinear chip containing his goodbye message to Keiko, something he is in the habit of recording whenever he's about to go on a potentially deadly mission. "Every time I record one of these, I think, 'This is it. This is the one they're going to end up hearing.'" Dax tells him it'll never happen. "My instincts tell me that you, Miles Edward O'Brien, are going to live to be a hundred and forty and die in bed, surrounded by family and friends." O'Brien appreciates her attempt to reassure him. "Just to be on the safe side, maybe you'd better enter this into the ship's log anyway." Dax tells him she'll put it right next to her message for her mother. "You record these too?" he asks. "Doesn't everyone?" she responds.

After a battle drill, Worf stops off on the way to his quarters to speak to Sisko. He's heard about Omet'iklan's threat, from Dax, and recommends that Sisko stay on the ship during the mission, so that Omet'iklan will have no opportunity to carry it out. "I appreciate the concern, but do you really think I'm going to follow that recommendation?" asks Sisko. "No, sir," replies Worf. "I do not. But I hope you will take some advice. Do not turn your back on him." Sisko says he won't. "I also want you to know," Worf adds, "if somehow he does carry out his threat, he will not live to boast about it." "That's very reassuring, Mr. Worf," Sisko replies.

The Defiant finally reaches Vandros IV, and O'Brien hands out phaser rifles to the Starfleet officers, then, reluctantly, to the Jem'Hadar, who reset them to maximum power. "Well, this is a momentous occasion," Weyoun says happily. "The first joint operation between the Federation and the Dominion. I can't wait to see how it turns out." Before transport, Omet'iklan insists on making a speech to his men. "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." "Victory is life," the others intone gravely, and file out. "Such a delightful people," Weyoun comments. O'Brien turns to the Starfleet troops. "I am Chief Miles Edward O'Brien. I'm very much alive, and I intend to stay that way."

They all beam down and are surveying the entrance to the Iconian ziggurat when Omet'iklan angrily notes that the rifles are useless. He assumes that Sisko has betrayed them, but no one else's rifles are working either, due to interference from a dampening field probably from the gateway. Before there is time to come up with a new plan, several renegade Jem'Hadar attack them with polearms. The defenders manage to defeat the renegades, and grab hold of the polearms. "I suppose you want to call off the mission," says Omet'iklan to Sisko, who looks down at a dead Starfleet officer. "Guess again," he says.

Together, they fight their way into the ziggurat, and while Worf, Dax, and Odo draw off the bulk of the renegades, Sisko and O'Brien take the explosives to the gateway, where there is another battle, during which Sisko takes a hit from a weapon being swung at Omet'iklan. Omet'iklan is surprised. "I threatened to kill you, but you were willing to sacrifice yourself to save my life." "Looks that way," agrees Sisko, bleeding. "Why?" the First asks. Sisko replies, "If you have to ask, you'll never understand." O'Brien finishes planting the explosive, and everyone retreats from the ziggurat, which finally blows up.

The rifles are working again, and as Sisko and his people are facing the Jem'Hadar, Weyoun beams down with a case of white, to ascertain that the mission was a success. "Well done, Captain. You've all done quite nicely. Now if you don't mind, I'd like to inspect the wreckage." Omet'iklan responds by shooting Weyoun, who disintegrates. "That was for questioning our loyalty." He then turns to Sisko again. "I think there's been enough killing for one day."

Omet'iklan chooses to stay and hunt down the remaining renegades. "You fought well. But the next time we meet, we'll be enemies." "I'll keep that in mind," replies Sisko. And as Omet'iklan and his men turn away and vanish, Sisko and his people beam back up to the Defiant.

  • A bit of business that was in the script but was dropped from the finished version: at the end of the conversation between Weyoun and Odo, Weyoun claps Odo on the shoulder, which is intended to be the means by which Odo is infected with the disease that almost kills him in "Broken Link". But in the aired episode, Weyoun isn't shown to touch Odo at all; he simply turns away after an exchange of closeups.
  • The location scenes were filmed once again at the good old Griffith Park bird sanctuary.
  • A major continuity faux pas was narrowly avoided when it was realized that the script had mistakenly indicated the gateway creators were from the Tkon empire (from TNG's "The Last Outpost") rather than the Iconians (from TNG's "Contagion"). Symbols on the ziggurat walls had to be hastily changed.