The Great Star Trek DS9 Rewatch: The Siege of AR-558

When the Defiant is sent to deliver supplies to the front lines, they discover an embittered and exhausted group of Starfleet officers. These officers have been guarding a Dominion communications centre from being recaptured, and Sisko is determined to give them a helping hand – but defeating the Jem’Hadar and their anti-personnel mines will be no easy task.

The Siege of AR-558 is often held up as one of the best episodes of DS9, and whilst it’s not one of my favourites, it’s still an Important Episode for Star Trek. The franchise has attempted to tackle many difficult issues, and this time around it’s the horrors of war. Even enlightened 24th century humans can’t handle the stress of being on the front lines for too long in this episode, and, if seeing generic guest characters go crazy isn’t enough, then we also get to see its effects on the main cast as well. As with The Jem’Hadar, Quark is brought along as an observer to soliloquise on human weaknesses and foibles, but this time, the life of his nephew Nog is at stake too. And when Nog loses his leg in combat, it just confirms Quark’s suspicions that Sisko values Ferengi lives less than human ones.

Not that the other characters have a pleasant time of it. They might come out with all their limbs intact, but it’s still an intense time, with cloaked subspace mines everywhere and Jem’Hadar assaults. By the end, the Starfleet forces even put aside their qualms and take control of the mines themselves – a move I’m not sure the righteous Picard and Enterprise-D crew could have ever brought themselves to make. But that’s DS9 for you – a darker shade of Star Trek.

Points of note

  • Ezri taps into Tobin and presumably Jadzia’s knowledge of engineering in order to be helpful in this episode. It’s just as well, as her counselling ability would be more useful for the AR-558 staff once they rotate off the front lines, instead of in the thick of battle.
  • For some reason, Rom wants to be a singer in Vic Fontaine’s holographic bar. Isn’t there a karaoke holosuite program he can use to sate his ambitions?
  • Nog’s leg will be replaced with a prosthetic limb, but in a few episodes’ time he will have to deal with the PTSD caused by this incident.
  • Grand Nagus Zek wanting a report on the front lines seems like a very thin excuse to get Quark on site for this episode. After all, we need an outsider to comment on human ways.

Summary – The Siege of AR-558: An episode so poorly lit that you have to squint to see what’s going on.

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