The Great Star Trek DS9 Rewatch: The Assignment

When O’Brien welcomes Keiko back from a trip to Bajor, something seems amiss. He soon learns that Keiko isn’t quite herself – in fact, she has been possessed by an alien life form. With Keiko’s life at stake if he disobeys her orders or tells anyone else what’s going on, O’Brien is forced to do whatever she says, no matter the cost.

Even – or perhaps especially – if you don’t like Keiko that much, you can’t help but enjoy The Assignment. Evil Keiko adds an edge to a character who is often put into a caring, homemaking role, and gives us the latest in a long line of episodes where O’Brien is tested to the limit. With Keiko’s very life at risk, O’Brien can’t even turn to his Starfleet colleagues to help him – in fact, he needs to make sure that they don’t suspect anything about what’s he doing. It’s a difficult time, and one which requires all of his engineering skills and life experience – and although we know he must surely save the day in the end, that doesn’t lower the tension a single bit.

Also getting some attention this episode is Rom, as we finally get to see him at his new job. Rom has been working hard on the unglamorous job of waste extraction, but with a move to the day shift, we get to see both his work ethic and his awkward social skills. You can’t help but cringe a little when Rom tries to interact with his colleagues, and even understand why they might not react well, but you still end up rooting for him anyway.

Other points

  • This episode introduces the Pah-wraiths, evil Prophets who were banished from the wormhole and exiled to Bajor’s Fire Caves. Little did we know it at the time, but the Pah-wraiths were going to become important in the closing arc of DS9.
  • Bashir claims Keiko has suffered a fracture of the parietal lobe. Since this is a part of the brain, presumably he means a fracture of the parietal bone.
  • Hopefully Bashir was just making an excuse to get away when he said he’d left a patient on the operating table in order to visit the O’Briens. Otherwise, it sounds a bit unprofessional, unless there was some reason why the surgery couldn’t proceed immediately.

Favourite quotes

Don’t worry about me, chief. My lips are sealed. Nobody will get anything out of me. Not even my name.”

“Rom, everybody on the station knows your name.”

“Right… but I won’t confirm it!”

You’ll be fine. Besides, I have to be in surgery, operating.”

On who?”

I’ll find someone.”

Summary – The Assignment: Evil Keiko is the best Keiko.

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