The Great Star Trek DS9 Rewatch: The Search I-II

In response to the threat posed by the Dominion, Sisko returns to Earth to collect the Defiant, a warship originally built to fight the Borg. Armed with a cloaking device on loan from the Romulans, the Defiant may be Sisko’s only chance to penetrate deep into Dominion territory and establish a dialogue with the Founders. But will the mysterious leaders of the Dominion really be interested in peace with the Federation?

Season three is upon us, and it’s here where DS9 really kicks it up a gear. Yes, there will still be silly one-off episodes and planetary visits, but the Dominion are here to say, and the more we learn about them, the more we get drawn into a storyline that will end in outright war.

This episode has lots for us to take in. The Defiant is here, and it’s far more durable than the flimsy runabouts of seasons 1-2. Odo is delighted when he finally finds his people, and then disappointed when he learns that they are the very Founders of the Dominion. Feared and persecuted by humanoids, the Founders have withdrawn from the galaxy, using the Dominion to impose order and build high walls around themselves that no one can breach.

As with the previous episode, where knowing that Eris was really on the side of the Dominion spoilt the story a bit, knowing that Sisko and the others are in virtual reality for most of Part II does reduce the overall impact of this two-parter somewhat. It’s still a decent episode, just that bit less powerful when robbed of its twist.

Drilling down

  • Odo was one of a hundred Changelings sent out from their homeworld to experience the galaxy. He was ‘newly formed’ when he was sent away, which is why he has no memory of his home. Arguably it seems a bit unfair to send a child away to live with aliens instead of an experienced adult, but given that adult Changelings are suspicious of humanoids and set in their ways, they probably preferred to send adaptable and impressionable youngsters.
  • The Female Changeling says that Odo has been gone a long time, and hadn’t expected him back for another 300 years. Were they intentionally sending him to Alpha Quadrant, and not expecting him back until a warp-capable ship from there finally reached the Gamma Quadrant? Was she implying that she initially didn’t know about the wormhole, and that Odo originally got to the Alpha Quadrany through normal space? If whatever he was sent out in wasn’t warp-capable, it would have taken at least 75,000 years to get to Bajor from the Gamma Quadrant, which seems excessive. Did it just take a while for him to reach the Gamma Quadrant entrance to the wormhole at non-warp speeds? Also, he was found in the Denorios Belt, near the Alpha Quadrant wormhole entrance, which is why he’s been convinced from the start of the series that he originated in the Gamma Quadrant anyway.
  • Why does Sisko blow up the entrance to the wormhole instead of just asking the Prophets to close it, like they did in Emissary?
  • Even in virtual reality O’Brien is unlucky, as he gets beaten up by a Jem’Hadar for no good reason. Poor guy, the universe really hates him.
  • When Borath tells Sisko that he is a Founder, Sisko claims he didn’t realise that Eris’s people were Founders, even though he accused Eris of that very thing in the previous episode.
  • Subcommander T’Rul had the potential to be our first interesting Romulan recurring character, but instead she’s so incredibly dull that she’s never seen again. The Defiant crew are left to operate the cloaking device and its top-secret Romulan technology all by themselves.
  • The Defiant will fulfil its original purpose of fighting the Borg when Worf takes it into battle in Star Trek First Contact.

Summary – The Search: With TNG over and Voyager just beginning, DS9 settles into its role as the dark and surly middle child of the franchise.

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