Recap / Star Trek Deep Space Nine S 03 E 07 Civil Defense

O'Brien, Jake, and Sisko are in one of the station's abandoned ore processing facilities, getting started on a project to turn it into a deuterium refinery. While trying to reformat the computer, Jake comes across a mysterious Cardassian file that doesn't want to be deleted. When O'Brien tries to mess with it, the file triggers an old security program that locks down the room and shows them a prerecorded video of everyone's favorite prefect, Gul Dukat. Turns out the computer thinks the trio are "revolting workers", and without the password, no one - not even the staff in Ops - know how to convince it otherwise.

Dukat's talking head invites them to surrender or be killed. As the clock ticks down, Sisko and the others narrowly manage to find a way out of the room before neurocine gas floods the room. This buys them some time, but they find themselves in yet another dead-end room of the ore processing labyrinth. To make matters worse, the computer notices their escape, and decides it must get even more serious with its security measures, including another grim lecture from Dukat.

Ops is sealed - ostensibly to protect the senior staff, but it also means they are trapped there. Odo, who has been trying to help shut down the program, is also sealed inside his office along with Quark, who had a bad feeling about this whole thing and decided it would be a safe place to hide.

Quark: You telling me I'm stuck here... with you?
Odo: No. I'm stuck here with you. Believe me, a far worse fate.

A new strategy for disabling the security program fails when a force field comes on over a circuit box in Ops and nearly takes off Dax's hands. In response, the program again tightens its grip, threatening to kill everyone on the habitat ring with neurocine if the "revolt" is not put down soon. Garak, whose old Cardassian codes give him enough access to move through the force fields, shows up in Ops with fresh ideas on how to defeat the program. His first recommendation is to destroy the life support system, preventing the neurocine gas from being released and giving them a new time limit - 12 hours, then they run out of air.

As it turns out, even this eventuality was considered by the program. As soon as life support is take offline, Dukat appears yet again to warn them that they have two hours to halt the imaginary revolt before the station self-destructs.

Garak is unfortunately limited to read-only access. He is able to see everything that is going on, but is powerless to make any actual changes to the program, which at this late stage can only be deactivated by Dukat himself. In desparation, they come up with a plan to spoof the computer into thinking Garak is Dukat. Before they can finish their plan, the overly-paranoid program once again takes offense to their tampering, and responds by replicating a phaser turret in Ops itself. One Redshirt is cut down before the rest manage to take cover. And if it looks like it can't get any worse... the real Dukat beams in, even more pompous than his recording.

Dukat: A short time ago, I had a very strange experience. There I was, patroling the Demilitarized Zone, when I received a distress signal... from me. It seems the Bajoran workers were rioting on Terok Nor. I must admit, it piqued my curiosity.

Eager to capitalize on their distress, Dukat offers to shut down the program in exchange for allowing his troops to establish a garrison aboard the station. Unsurprisingly, Kira finds death a more appealing choice. Dukat decides to return to his ship to allow them time to think things over, but finds the security program has surprises even for him. As soon as Dukat tries to radio his ship, he finds he is unable to, and a new recording plays - this time from his supervisor, who gives him a brutal "The Reason You Suck" Speech for attempting to abandon his post in the middle of a Bajoran rebellion.

Now that he's in the same boat as everyone else, Dukat is much more eager to help, but his (and even Garak's) security codes have been voided. Their only option is to try to deactivate the main reactor before it explodes. To that end, they Technobabble a way to overload the force fields on the station so that they can move freely again, but there's not enough time for them to get where they need.

As luck would have it, Sisko, O'Brien, and Jake have managed to find their way out of ore processing by now, so Kira informs them of the plan. Damage from the power surge forces them to go through a conduit that is filled with plasma fires. Sisko makes it through, but O'Brien is hit by an explosion and loses consciousness (but survives thanks to a Heroic Fire Rescue from Jake). With seconds left to go, Sisko manages to redirect the reactor overload into the shields, preventing the station from being destroyed.

Tropes in this episode include:

  • Air Vent Escape: Jake uses an old processing shaft to escape the ore refinery.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Dukat offers to deactivate the station's self-destruct in exchange for allowing his soldiers to establish a garrison on the station. When Kira refuses, Dukat reminds her that there are many more lives than her own at stake.
  • Butt Monkey: When Sisko and O'Brien go into the green-fire Jeffries Tube, they agree that if one gets into trouble, the other one keeps going. Guess who doesn't make it through? (Hint: The one who's not Ben Sisko.)
  • Canned Orders over Loudspeaker: It says a lot about Dukat that he saw fit to delegate the task of handling riots to a recording of himself. He shows up later because he got a distress call from himself.
    Sisko: You know, I never knew how much this man's voice annoyed me.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Cardassians tend to plan ahead and Gul Dukat's counterinsurgency program was ready for pretty much every possible scenario.
  • Deadly Gas: Sisko, Jake, and O'Brien barely escape a room full of it. Kira then shoots the life-support system to stop it from spreading gas all over the station.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Garak, par for the course.
    Kira: Any luck?
    Garak: Plenty, Major. Unfortunately, all of it bad.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Dukat strolling about the command center talking while everyone else is hiding under any available cover.
    Dukat: (sighs) Let me guess—someone tried to duplicate my access codes, hmm?
  • From Bad to Worse: The entire episode in a nutshell.
  • Heroic Fire Rescue: Jake pulls O'Brien out of the burning Jeffries Tube.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Dukat visits the station to gloat when he learns they triggered his automated security system, but then finds himself trapped as well when he tries to leave, which the computer interprets as an attempt to abandon his post during a time of crisis.
  • Name One: Quark challenges Odo to name a more devious Ferengi than him. Odo responds with Grand Nagus Zek, Daimon Tye, Quark's brother Rom, his uncle Frin, his cousin Gaila...
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Each time the heroes think they've figured out a solution, the security program thinks it has to get even tougher on the "Bajoran workers."
  • No OSHA Compliance:
    • Kira is able to shut down the entire life-support shooting one console.
    • The audience learns that Cardassian forcefields are designed to be lethal. The reason they aren't on DS9 is because the Federation wisely disabled that "feature" when they took over.
    • The appalling working conditions that existed during the occupation are showcased in this episode.
      O'Brien: I heard stories that the temperature in here reached 55 degrees. note 
      Jake: How could the Bajoran workers survive that?
      O'Brien: A lot of them didn't.
  • Oh, Crap!: The look on Dukat's face when he finds out that his security codes have been voided.
    • Earlier, Garak's expression when his attempts to break through Dukat's security codes failed.
  • One Password Attempt Ever: Well, actually two for Dukat's security program, but the idea's the same.
  • Pet the Dog: Dukat turns off the automated phaser in Ops, which is programmed to only target non-Cardassians, as "the least he can do."
  • Redshirt: The poor schmuck who gets vaporized by the replicated Death Ray.
    "Everyone makes it to cover but the redshirt. Ouch. I mean, death by replicated shooty ball thing. What a way to go."
    Recap of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, "Civil Defense"
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: Part of the security program, and the last problem for Sisko to deal with.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Dukat vs. Garak. Kira and Bashir repeatedly tell them to shut up.
    • Odo and Quark also go a few rounds while trapped in the security office.
  • Worthy Opponent: Quark expresses this sentiment towards Odo, stating that if there were a slave revolt in progress, it's not surprising that the Cardassians would lock Odo in his office: Odo's sense of justice and morality would ensure he joined the fight on the side of the slaves.
    • Odo praises Quark for his deviousness, until it turns out that he was just being nice in what seemed like their last few hours of life.