The Great Star Trek DS9 Rewatch: Rocks and Shoals

Whilst fleeing Cardassian space in their stolen Jem’Hadar ship, Sisko and his team crashland on a barren planet – only to discover that they aren’t the only crew marooned there. A Vorta and his Jem’Hadar squadron are also on the planet, but with the Vorta injured and supplies of ketracel white running low, the Dominion forces are in a vulnerable position. Can Sisko negotiate with his adversaries, or are they all doomed to die on this backwater planet?

You might be expecting another round of space battles and daring missions, but it’s time for DS9 to take its foot off the gas and instead work on getting our heroes our of their predicament. Rocks and Shoals is very much this season’s answer to The Ship, a tense stand-off between Federation and Dominion forces as each tries to negotiate their way off yet another arid, barren planet. And whilst the ending conveniently wraps everything up neatly for Sisko and his crew, it does at least take a moment to explore the pointlessness of war, as the Jem’Hadar are forced by their own obedience to knowingly walk into a massacre. Yes, Jem’Hadar disobey only when the plot demands it – otherwise they are the perfect soldiers.

Meanwhile, back on DS9, Kira has settled into something of a holding pattern – accepting her daily life working for the Dominion and waiting for rescue. It is only the suicide of a vedek that opens her eyes to the fact that she has become just the kind of collaborator she used to despise. Kira isn’t cut out to be the princess in the castle, waiting for Sisko to swoop in and rescue her – she needs to be fighting the system from within.

Between a rock and a hard place

  • It’s hard to think of a good Dax-only storyline since Worf came along – she’s either doing Klingon stuff with her boyfriend, or acting as a sounding board for Sisko. This episode is even worse for her, however, as Dax gets injured right at the start and spends the rest of the episode lying on a rock.
  • Nog is still mistrustful of Garak after the events of Empok Nor – and no wonder.
  • When the Jem’Hadar troops are weakened from their lack of ketracel white, they become unable to shroud themselves. What is the shroud? I assumed it was a portable bit of technology they carried with them, but if it can’t be activated when a soldier is weak, it seems more like an innate ability – which is a bit too ‘magic’ even for Star Trek. Maybe they are technological, and were simply running out of power at around the same time that the soldiers were running low on white.

Summary – Rocks and Shoals: The one where honorable Starfleet officers are forced to massacre the enemy.

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