The Great Star Trek DS9 Rewatch: Honor Among Thieves

With Starfleet Intelligence having been compromised by the Orion Syndicate, O’Brien is sent undercover to infiltrate them and work out who the traitor is. Posing as a down-on-his-luck ‘fix it’ man named Connelly, O’Brien manages to get close to Syndicate man Bilby – but as he remains undercover, he starts to develop a genuine affection for his mark.

It’s been a while since O’Brien’s been put through the mill, and so it was about time for him to undergo another ordeal. Whilst it stretches credibility that an enlisted engineer would be the go-to man for this mission, if you can put that aside, this is a decent episode, if entirely predictable. Of course O’Brien is going to use his engineering skills to make himself useful to Bilby and his group. Of course Bilby’s associates are going to be suspicious, even as Bilby himself decides to trust O’Brien and take him under his wing. Of course there’s going to be a scare for O’Brien when the higher-ups suspect a traitor – who ultimately turns out to be that guy nobody liked. And of course, O’Brien is genuinely going to get to like Bilby, and not want him to get set up. And yet, for all that, and despite knowing how the episode would pan out, I still enjoyed myself.

Why do humans join the Orion Syndicate?

Life in the Federation is easy. No one needs money, and no one has to work. So why do the humans of the 24th century sometimes turn their backs on a life of luxury to live out on the fringes of civilisation, on worlds where money still exists?

  • They already have a criminal record. The Federation looks dimly on those who break the law, and not everyone wants to be rehabilitated or spend their lives on a penal colony.
  • The Federation is ‘too soft’. We’ve seen humans before who prefer a challenge instead of having everything handed to them.
  • They crave reputation and status. If you can’t get it through legitimate means by being the best in the Federation at your chosen profession, you can always try a society where you can buy status and respect.
  • They want somewhere to belong. If you’re not the right sort of enlightened human, living in the Federation might feel a bit lonely. You measure yourself up against your fellow humans, and find yourself feeling lacking and inferior. But, as with contemporary gangs, being in the Orion Syndicate could make you feel like you have friends, even a family.

Even Starfleet officers, supposedly incorruptible and devoted to duty, can apparently be bribed!

Other points

  • Why does Starfleey Intelligence not better compartment its sensitive data? It seems inconceivable that details on all agents everywhere could be leaked by one person in control of the Risian weather control station. Of course, there are modern examples of sysadmins stealing data, or social engineers being able to gain top level accesses, but have we not learned from our mistakes by the 24th century? And, of all the people in Starfleet, is an enlisted engineer with no undercover training really the best person for the job?

Summary – Honor Among Thieves: Finally, an episode that features both cats and cake.

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