Recap / Star Trek Deep Space Nine S 06 E 22 Valiant

While heading toward Ferenginar aboard a runabout, Nog and Jake are attacked by the Jem'Hadar, and rescued by the starship Valiant, a Defiant-class escort crewed by the cadets of Red Squad which had been stranded behind enemy lines.

Nog and Jake are heading to Ferenginar with what Jake suspects is a proposal for an alliance against the Dominion (because, obviously, the only Ferengi in Starfleet is the most qualified person to handle a proposal of an alliance). The two are flying a runabout without any sort of escorts, so naturally they're easy picking for a squad of Jem'Hadar attack fighters. Luckily, they are rescued by the USS Valiant. There, they find that the crew is entirely composed of Red Squad, an elite training unit from Starfleet Academy that Nog idolized and wanted to join. The captain, Tim Watters, takes an immediate liking to Nog as he's the one person who is a Starfleet officer, while CPO Dorian Collins is befriended by Jake.

The two reveal to Jake and Nog (separately) the backstory of the Valiant: it was a training ship built solely for Red Squad and while on a mission to circumnavigate the entire Federation, the Dominion War broke out and they became trapped behind enemy lines. While engaging a Cardassian cruiser, all the commissioned officers were killed, leaving the cadets in command. Watters reveals to Nog what are, ostensibly, their orders: to gather intel on a new Dominion battleship. However, their technobabble says they cannot catch up with the enemy ship. Being a commissioned gold shirt, Nog is immediately put in charge of engineering, even though as the only commissioned officer, he should really be taking command of the ship itself.

Jake gets Collins to open up, revealing her backstory and how she misses her family. This is brought before Watters and XO Karen Farris, who lash at Jake for "emotionally compromising" a member of the crew and orders him to stay away from her. Jake is taken aback at this, seeing that while the cadets are highly trained, they are still New Meat and unfamiliar with how to truly handle themselves in war. Meanwhile, Nog is promoted to lieutenant commander and manages to solve the technobabble problem, allowing them to track the battleship.

Watters and Farris assemble the crew and reveal that their scans depict a weakness in the ship: an exhaust shaft that leads directly to the main reactor...sorry, wrong film...a flawed antimatter storage system that can be easily ruptured with the right technobabble (forgetting that their supposed orders are to gather intel and bring it back, not to engage in a risky battle). Jake tries to talk them out of it by saying that his own father, The Sisko, would not take on a mission this suicidal on his own. Of course, Red Squad can do anything, and he is ignored. Jake tries to talk sense into Nog, who has let his new rank go to his head and for this, Jake is thrown in the brig.

After a good ol' Lock and Load Montage, the Valiant finds and engages the battleship. They flawlessly launch their technobabble torpedoes, which appears to destroy the ship...but their celebration is too soon as the Dominion ship emerges unscathed. With a massive collective Oh Crap!, the cadets try to regroup, but Watters, Farris, and everyone else of importance is killed in rapid succession. Nog realizes the ship is lost, and escapes the ship with Jake and Collins. They are soon rescued by the Defiant.

This episode provides examples of:

  • Abandon Ship: At the climax.
  • Artistic License Military: Invoked. In modern military protocol, being a commissioned officer, Nog would have immediately outranked everyone on board the Valiant. However, Ron Moore based his writing on 19th century naval tradition, where an acting captain could only be removed from command by a flag officer. Obviously, Starfleet has nostalgia for the Age of Sail.
    • Justified in Watters appeasing Nog's ego by making him Chief Engineer, and it being very unlikely Watters and the cadets would have consented to handing over command as if they respected the chain of command they would have returned to Federation lines instead of playing lone wolf.note 
    • An In-Universe example. Nog is promoted to Lieutenant Commander by Captain Watters, but he's only wearing the insignia of a junior grade lieutenant (one black pip and one gold pip, whereas LT CMDR has one black and two gold). With all the promotions, maybe Red Squad was running low on pips.
  • Awesome McCool Name: The USS Valiant. Jake certainly thinks so.
  • Believing Their Own Lies: Watters believes the Red Squad was destined for something great in the Dominion War, and taking on a battleship ten times their size is just the thing that will propel him to legendary status. Nog also starts doing this even as Jake tries to snap him out of it.
    Nog: I am chief engineer of the starship Valiant!
    Jake: I'll have them put that on your tombstone.
  • Broken Pedestal: Nog's admiration for Red Squad is shattered.
  • Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: Watters and Farris, especially in their interactions with Jake, such as in the ready room.
  • Continuity Nod: Cadet Shepard is still with Red Squad.
  • Curbstomp Battle: Even before the torpedo failure, the Jem'Hadar ship thrashes the Valiant. And after it fails, they really let them have it.
  • David Versus Goliath: The small Valiant against the gargantuan Dominion battleship. This time, Goliath wins.
  • Deconstruction: Of the entire concept of the "plucky young band that overcomes a great evil" found in so much of adventure fiction (and most particularly Star Wars or Space Battleship Yamato ).
    • Also of technobabble and hair-brained schemes saving the day.
  • Ensign Newbie: Captain Watters. It's dubious that the orders to gather intel on the battleship are genuine, given how close they were to Federation-held territory at the start and could have easily returned home. He obviously doesn't want to go back to being a cadet, even though they are in a war and advancement could be quick.
    • The rest of the cadets as well, most of whom are doing jobs that would normally take years of service to be promoted into.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: Nog telling Collins that their attack has failed and everyone else is dead.
  • Field Promotion: The entire crew of the Valiant, due to the senior officers being killed in the line of duty. Captain Ramirez, while dying, gave command of the ship to Cadet Watters, who in turn promoted the rest of the cadets. "Captain" Watters even gives Nog a field promotion to lieutenant commander, due to his experience with the Defiant.
  • Gunship Rescue: The Valiant rescuing Jake and Nog.
  • Ignored Expert: Jake isn't Starfleet, but he does know his father better than anyone. Nonetheless, his insistence that his father would never attempt the cadets' plan is completely ignored (even by Nog).
  • Jerkass: Most of the Red Squad crew, but especially Karen Farris. In her attempt to assert authority to Jake, she comes across as an arrogant bully. She even sarcastically says he's not been invited to the bridge, even after Watters invited him to watch "their story" unfold.
  • Lock and Load Montage: Before the battle.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Jake points out that even his Memetic Badass father would not engage the Jem'Hadar battleship if he didn't have to and that there's no shame in running from a battle you can't win. None of the Red Squad cadets listen and they pay the price.
  • Mighty Glacier: The Dominion battleship is much larger and slower than their battlecruisers, but has much greater firepower. The Valiant starts off this way, unable to go at a reasonable warp factor, because the engines aren't configured properly for the ship type (doing so actually breaks quite a few Starfleet regulations, but Nog points out the necessity, and also points out that the Defiant hasn't had any problems due to this configuration).
  • Miles Gloriosus: Watters is taking stimulants to stay awake, judging by his initial reactions to Jake and Nog he's a sycophant, judging by his later reactions he's a fragile egotist. Several times throughout the episode, when interacting with Jake (and to a lesser extent Nog), all the named cadets demonstrate that they're not the seasoned officers they're pretending to be (you can't imagine even TOS-era officers treating a nosy civilian how Jake is treated here) at Watters' urging, and some of them can't even see how poorly Watters led them, even when recovering from serious injuries after being pulled from an escape pod. Watters even seems to believe his own bullshit, right up until they catch their prey, when he's among the first to realise that they now have no choice but to go through with the plan, and if it goes wrong they'll all die.
  • Mr Fix It: Nog can get the Valiant's engine working properly because he's had field experience working with Chief O'Brien on the Defiant, whereas the rest of the engineers don't.
  • The Neidermeyer: "Captain" Watters and XO "Commander" Farris. Farris is a bully barking orders like bad parody of a Starfleet officer. Watters lets his ego blind him to the fact that he's way out of his depth. The crew was the best: special missions, training, their own ship even. But they were still cadets.
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead: Zig-Zagged by Nog in one sentence when talking about the late Watters:
    "He may have been a hero...he may even have been a great man...but in the end, he was a bad captain."
  • Oh Crap!: When the explosion clears and the Jem'Hadar ship is without a scratch, all the cadets' bravado vanishes and they look like terrified kids.
  • The Only One: Valiant is apparently the only ship still caught behind enemy lines. Part of Watters' reasoning for taking on the battleship is to prevent someone else from getting that glory.
  • Only Sane Man: Jake tries to reason with the cadets, and all it gets him is thrown in the brig.
  • Outrun the Fireball: The escape pod with Jake, Nog, and Collins does this as the Valiant explodes. Another pod isn't so lucky.
  • Point Defenseless: Red Squad tries to pull this off. It turned out that the Dominion ship's antimatter storage system was better-protected than they thought.
    • Which makes sense, because, you know... antimatter.
  • Reality Ensues: A single Defiant-class ship goes against a massive, heavily-armed, heavily-armored battleship on its own. Contrary to what some may think, the Defiant wasn't designed to fight and defeat the Borg entirely on its own.
  • Repeat to Confirm: The Red Squad kids do this a lot, more so than more seasoned officers.
  • Rousing Speech: Watters makes one talking about how important their mission is and how they're Red Squad, and Red Squad can do anything. It backfires spectacularly.
  • Sink the Lifeboats: The Jem'Hadar don't even spare the escape pods after the Valiant goes down for the count. Only one escape pod goes free, because it has main characters aboard.
  • Straw Civilian: In-Universe, Jake is viewed as one by the Red Squad cadets for not going along with the plan to attack the Jem'Hadar battleship. Watters, in particular, shows disdain for Jake not joining Starfleet like his father. Turns out that in this case, Strawman Has a Point. More so because Jake actually got to experience the actual horrors or war a season earlier.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: A combination of inexperience, stress and misplaced bravado leads to a stupid plan that fails miserably.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: A charismatic cadet in command of an elite squad of cadets, who through his overconfidence gets people killed. Didn't we see this kind of guy expelled from Starfleet in Star Trek: The Next Generation season 5 episode "The First Duty"? Or for that matter, wasn't a similar guy on Star Trek: Voyager?
  • Tagalong Reporter: Jake, who initially tries to get the scoop on what Nog's "secret diplomatic mission" is about (in a really idiotic way). Watters initially wants him to sit back and watch Red Squad fulfill their destiny, at least until Jake tries to convince them that their attack plan is suicidal.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Nog gives Jake one for thinking about his own survival instead of being willing to risk his life in battle against the Dominion battleship.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Watters. At no point does he consider that the intel they've gathered on the battleship, which was specified in their supposed orders, won't do Starfleet any good if they don't survive to bring it back.
  • Undying Loyalty: Collins has this for Watters, claiming that Red Squad failed him. It's not presented in a positive light.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: The plan that Red Squad discusses fails spectacularly.
  • The Worf Effect: The Defiant-class ship was specifically built to kick ass, and the USS Ben Sisko's Motherfucking Pimp Hand has consistently done so. This episode, however, proves that this breed of Pint-Sized Powerhouse is not, in fact, invincible.
  • You Are in Command Now: In a Call Back to the talk with Chief O'Brien in "Behind the Lines", Nog receives command of the Valiant after Watters and Farris are killed. But by then, nearly the entire bridge crew is dead and the ship is about to be blown to hell.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Watters likely took after the famous captains like Kirk and Picard, and presumed this was his heroic moment to become a Starfleet legend by taking on impossible odds and succeeding. Unfortunately, this time the odds really were impossible.
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