Sisko and O'Brien, in a runabout, come across an M-Class planet with an uncharted human settlement on it. They beam down to talk to the people there and find an agrarian society led by a woman named Alixus. They also find that their equipment no longer works — nothing electronic does — so they are unable to beam back up or call for help. They are determined to figure out what is interfering with their equipment, but Alixus tells them they may have to accept that they will never leave, leading to a battle of wills between her and Sisko.
- Absentee Actor: Only half the main cast appear in this episode. Bashir, Odo, Quark and Jake are all missing.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Despite the colonists only being there because they've been deliberately marooned there against their will by Alixus for years, have been lied to, endured her harsh and draconian punishments for those who don't kowtow to her philosophies, and even died even though they could have been saved with access to the modern technology she was blocking, none of them want to leave once the field preventing their technology from working is shut down. She's no Karma Houdini, but Alixus won in the end.
- Break the Badass: Alixus tries this on Sisko. She fails miserably.
- Burning the Ships: It is revealed that Alixus and her son had secretly sabotaged the ship so it would crash on the planet. Afterwards they persuaded the castaways to throw away all their electronic technology, who thusly voluntarily forsook any chance to call for help. At the same time, Alixus keeps a duonetic field generator going that blocks all electronic technology, so nobody can use technology on the planet even if they want to.
- Cult: Alixus' community has shades of this.
- Determinator: An alternate title for the episode could have been "Cool Hand Benjamin."
- Diabolus ex Machina: The ending feels a little like this. Throughout the episode we're shown that many of the colonists really would desperately like to have the technology to survive, and are appalled by Alixus' treatment of Sisko and O'Brien, then learn that all their suffering has been built on an lie. The sudden decision to continue living their technology-less life in her image feels like the writers decided that resolving the episode by taking down the big bad and having it become a more standard colony world was "too easy" so wrote something that didn't really jive with the rest of the episode up to that point.
- Die or Fly: Part of O'Brien's backstory. Fighting against the Cardassians helped him develop his engineering genius.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Stealing candles earns you a day in the heat box.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Sisko continues to refer to his father in the past tense, as though he is long dead.
- Evil Luddite: Alixus.
- Honey Trap: Alixus tries to use Cassandra to seduce Sisko into taking off his uniform. It doesn't work.
- Hope Spot: The end of the episode shows two young kids, who seem to have broken from Alixus influence.
- Hypocrite: At the end, Alixus tells one of the colonists, the one who was in the heat box for stealing candles, that he would be in prison by now if it weren't for her...even though this planet essentially is like a prison for him. Not to mention for someone who hates technology, she uses a very advanced technology to make sure no one finds them.
- Idiot Ball: A strange field that could interfere with communicators, and thus preventing them from beaming back up? Well, better send down both men who are on the runabout!
- It's What I Do: After Dax shuts down Kira's idea to stop the wayward runabout Orinoco:Kira: You got a better idea?
Dax: I'm a science officer. It's my job to have a better idea.
- I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure: When O'Brien is caught trying to contact the runabout by Alixus's men, she has Sisko placed into the hot box instead of O'Brien, under the justification that Sisko was his commanding officer and culpable for O'Brien's acts.
- Ludd Was Right: Alixus espouses a philosophy that technology is bad, while Sisko grows increasingly suspicious of the fact that she has "accidentally" found a planet that suits that philosophy so well.
- The Main Characters Do Everything: A routine survey mission is carried out by the man who runs the station and the man who ensures said station is running.
- Punishment Box: How Alixus punishes any crime, including trying to escape. Sisko voluntarily puts himself in the box rather than take off his uniform.
- Shout-Out: This episode is essentially Cool Hand Luke with a dash of The Bridge on the River Kwai IN SPACE!
- Stockholm Syndrome: By the end of the episode, the colonists have come to accept Alixus' Evil Luddite philosophy, and intend to keep following it after she's arrested for her crimes.
- Throwing the Distraction: Vinod is hunting O'Brien in the forest and spots a flash of black cloth. He shoots and pins O'Brien's empty uniform to a tree. O'Brien then jumps him from behind.
- Utopia Justifies the Means: Nobody is going to interfere with Alixus Space Amish dictatorship. Even if it means dying from an easily curable illness.
- You Keep Using That Word: Alixus keeps saying how human ingenuity is more useful than any technology. However, the application of ingenuity is technology.