Recap / Star Trek Deep Space Nine S 01 E 06 Captive Pursuit

Tosk: I am Tosk.
O'Brien: That's your name, or your species?
O'Brien and his new drinking buddy, Tosk. Seems like an odd couple, till you remember who Dr. Bashir regularly has lunch with.

DS9 receives its first visitor from the other side of the wormhole. A very curt alien of reptilian appearance. Appearing on their side with a damaged ship, he very reluctantly agrees to be tractor beamed in for repairs.

O'Brien, being resident Mr Fix It and the one who seems able to converse most easily with him, is sent aboard his ship.

The alien identifies as Tosk. Whether this is his name or species is made unclear when asked. He is simply Tosk.

With repairs on his ship scheduled to take a few days, Miles decides to show his new friend around Deep Space 9. But Tosk is hiding something. Most evident when left alone. His first action is to scan for where the weapons on station are stored.

Sisko and the others are unsure of what to make of him. Tosk simply wants to leave, and he won't reveal who attacked him or why he's running. Answers soon come when Odo and his security contingent catch Tosk trying to break into the weapons storage. After he's detained in a holding cell, more of Tosks people come through the wormhole and beam onto DS9.

After a brief firefight with the crew, they locate Tosk and reveal they are hunters. Tosk is their prey. A position of great honor for his species. He provides them an exciting hunt across space, and he is returned home in honor when caught and killed.

Miles tries getting Tosk to seek asylum with the Federation, but he can't think of it. He became a Tosk to die with honor. And the hunters have decided he's not worthy of that honor. He will be returned home alive. The greatest shame a Tosk can endure.

With the Prime Directive tying his hands, Sisko has no choice but to let Tosks people take him. But Miles isn't having any of it. After a brief stop by Quark's, he decides to change the rules of this hunt.

Tricking the hunting party leader into a powered up weapons detection field, followed by cold-cocking him for good measure, Miles and Tosk flee into the station's duct work. Odo seeks to pursue them, but Sisko insists there's no rush.

Miles and Tosk fight their way through DS9's corridors. Defeating the hunting party, and getting Tosk back to his ship. His honor as prey restored, Tosk leaves DS9 to resume his role as the hunted. And to die with honor.

This episode provides examples of:

  • Agree to Disagree: As much as he doesn't like it, Sisko concedes that it's not his place to pass judgment on this game the hunters are playing... provided it doesn't interfere with business on the station. As a compromise, their captain agrees to keep the Alpha Quadrant off-limits for future hunts to avoid any further incidents.
  • Bond One-Liner: A non-fatal example for O'Brien after cold-cocking the leader of the Hunters:
    "Glass jaw. Now I know why you wear helmets."
  • Competitive Balance: There seems to be quite a bit of this at play with the hunt. The hunters have advanced weapons and armor, but Tosk is stronger and faster than any of them. Tosk can turn invisible, but the hunters have limited means of seeing through it. The hunters have numerical superiority, but Tosk can go much longer than most humanoids without food or rest. As the hunt is a sport, it makes sense that they would make it as balanced as possible.
  • Death Seeker: A Tosk's greatest glory is to die after providing a thrilling hunt for his pursers.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: A great deal of the episode is about the clash of values between the two sides. To Starfleet, the hunt looks like a barbaric blood sport, but to the Hunters, it's entertainment. Neither is Tosk the victim he seems to be, and flatly refuses to consider seeking asylum when O'Brien suggests it. The lead Hunter directly explains to Sisko that Tosk isn't some kind of condemned criminal being hunted for mere sport - people like him are lauded as national heroes in their society for making the Hunt possible, a central part of their culture/religion (so long as they never let themselves get captured alive...)
  • Doesn't Like Guns: Odo states this preference in this episode.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Even with Quark's usual sleaziness, forcing his employees into prostitution is pretty beyond the pale, and reeks of "We haven't quite figured these characters out yet."
    • Sisko tells Tosk he's travelled "over 90,000 light-years" by travelling through the wormhole - which would be almost impossible, as the Milky Way is only 100,000 light-years across and Earth (which isn't that far from DS 9) is about 25,000 inward from the edge of the galaxy. Later episodes consistently retconned it to a more reasonable 70,000 light-years.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: The Tosk hunt. It crosses into Let's Meet the Meat territory, since the Tosk wants to be hunted.
  • Invisibility: One of Tosk's favorite tricks.
  • Mythology Gag: Bashir suggests that Tosk might speak to him because people open up to doctors. In the original TOS pilot "The Cage," Dr. Boyce gets Pike to open up by saying "sometimes, a man'll tell his barkeep things he'll never tell his doctor."
  • No Name Given: Neither Tosk (who may not have a name at all) or his hunters are called by name.
  • Punished for Sympathy: Downplayed. In the denouement Sisko chews out O'Brien for helping Tosk escape, but there's a clear subtext that Sisko is only doing it for appearance's sake.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: O'Brien breaks a lot of rules by helping Tosk escape, but justifies it by pointing out that both sides were unhappy with how things had turned out. Sisko gives him a major tongue lashing anyway, though it's clear he doesn't really mean it, since he intentionally held back security from responding when it happened.
  • Straight Man: Tosk is notoriously lacking in a sense of humor, leading Miles to describe him as a natural straight man.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Tosk is able to locate the weapons locker using a computer terminal in his quarters, without so much as a "that information is classified."