The Great Star Trek DS9 Rewatch: Nor the Battle to the Strong

On the way back from a conference, Bashir and Jake intercept a distress call, and head to a planet where the Starfleet base is under attack from the Klingons. Jake is initially delighted that he will be able to write an article about “surgery under fire”, but as the realities of combat dawn on him, he must confronts his own fears and weaknesses.

Whilst it’s tempting to slip into the mindset of “oh no, not another lame Jake Sisko story”, Nor the Battle to the Strong is an excellent example of an episode that only works because it features Jake. Throughout Star Trek, the vast majority of the humans we’ve seen have been Starfleet officers, and, corrupt or incompetent admirals aside, they have been role models for an enlightened future. Starfleet officers are brave people who never run away, who do the right thing no matter how difficult it is, and who never back down.

This episode gives us something different. This is the reality of war – a messy, scary process, where some people die, and others get scared and run away. When he first arrives, Jake is disgusted to meet a man who shot himself in the foot to get away from the front lines. After Jake himself runs away and abandons Bashir, he is able to understand why the man did what he did. This isn’t a bad person – this is someone who felt very human emotions during a difficult time. And yet, this man will not only likely be court-martialled, but he hates himself so much that he regrets not simply killing himself with his own phaser. Any contemporary soldier would likely experience the same feelings of guilt and self-hatred, but somehow, the exacting standards of the 24th century make it that much worse. Now that humans are so enlightened and perfect, how much worse it must feel to fall from grace.

Other points

  • We learn about two of Dax’s children – Tobin’s child Raifi, and Audrid’s daughter Neema. The rift between Audrid and Neema, as mentioned in this episode, is an important plot point in the novel The Lives of Dax (as always, highly recommended).
  • Ferengi consider pregnancy as a rental arrangement.
  • As always, why does the Federation need a mining operation for an obscure mineral when it can replicate most things?

Summary – Nor the Battle to the Strong: Medical black humour and some difficult times for Jake.

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