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Recap / Star Trek Deep Space Nine S 03 E 09 Defiant

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Riker has some intense tête-à-tête with Kira. Don't get too excited, it's not that Riker.
Looks like you've got your evening all planned. Hope you've got room for the unexpected.

It's time to spin the "Kira is pissed off" wheel. The winner this week is . . . overworked!

Yes, DS9's walking temper tantrum is getting run ragged by work order after work order around the station. It finally comes to a head when she snaps at Bashir, who needs a runabout to transport medical supplies. The good doctor notes how overworked and stressed she is, and he forces her to take some time off.

With Kira forcibly parked at Quark's, Bashir orders her to relax with various stress-relieving tools. And if she doesn't use two of them, she's gonna come back tomorrow. Well, someone offers to assist her in relaxing: Will Riker.

The bearded one is on his own vacation after Dr. Crusher finally forced him to take some time off. Running into Kira, he asks her to show him the new U.S.S. Defiant. After a brief bit of harshness between Riker and O'Brien, Kira powers the ship up . . . and instantly gets phasered by Riker. Faking a plasma conduit malfunction, Riker makes off with the ship.


Two people beam onboard, and "Riker" removes his fake sideburns. This is Thomas Riker, the accidental copy from "Second Chances".

And the bad news doesn't stop there. With Dukat onboard the station, Odo delivers the info that Thomas Riker is a part of the Maquis. And he's in possession of a lethal new battleship. It's not hard to guess where they're heading with it. Sisko and Dukat reluctantly join forces and head for Cardassia Prime.

As Dukat and Sisko monitor the situation with an Obsidian Order observer in the room, the Defiant attacks Outpost 61. But Sisko notices they made no attempt to cloak and that the warp signature is off. It's a decoy. The actual Defiant uncloaks and destroys Outpost 47 before heading straight into Cardassian territory.

As the Defiant continues to carve a swath of destruction, Sisko again notices something odd: The attacks have forced the Cardassian fleet to leave the seemingly unimportant Orias system undefended. Dukat orders a ship there but is stopped by the observer. The Orias system is under Obsidian Order protection.


The Defiant is headed for the system with an entire Cardassian fleet on their tail. Things get odd when they arrive. Three Cardassian ships move from the planet to defend it. Under the command of the Obsidian Order—who are forbidden to have said ships.

As Kira tries talking Thomas down, Sisko and Dukat work out a deal: Sisko offers him the Defiant logs, which contain some valuable info on this mysterious sector. In exchange, Sisko wants his ship and the Maquis returned to Federation space for trial.

Dukat won't accept that until Sisko makes a concession: Sisko will give him the logs and Riker—so long as Thomas isn't sentenced to death, as the Cardassians are so apt to do.

Thankfully, Thomas still has some shred of his other self's honor. To save his crew, he accepts a life sentence in the Lazon II labor camp. And he gives Kira a parting kiss before being beamed away.

Tropes featured:

  • Aborted Arc: Kira promises to save Thomas one day. Not counting the expanded universe, that's the last we ever hear of it. The writers were apparently interested in doing a follow-up at the time, but nothing ever came of it by the time the show ended.
  • Anti-Villain: Tom Riker - he's the bad guy because he hijacks the Defiant and goes marauding through Cardassian space. But he still tries to act like a Starfleet officer, even surrendering in the end for the sake of his crew.
    Kira: No... you're trying to be a hero. Terrorists don't get to be heroes.
  • Beard of Evil: Full beard=Good. Goatee=Bad.
  • The Big Board: The action is portrayed via viewscreens and sensor panels rather than scenes of dramatic space combat, save for one engagement between the Defiant and a Keldon-class warship.
  • Call-Back:
  • Cloning Blues: Kira suggests this is why Thomas Riker is so determined to carry through with a suicidal attack on Cardassia: as a way to set himself apart from William Riker, the successful first officer of the Enterprise.
  • Defector from Decadence: Thomas Riker left Starfleet for the Maquis sometime after "Second Chances".
  • Doctor's Orders: Bashir brings Kira up short by invoking his authority as CMO to immediately relieve her of duty. When she protests, he states that not even Commander Sisko can override his judgment in matters of a medical nature.
    • "Will" Riker's excuse for showing up on the station unannounced, he claims Dr. Crusher ordered him to take some shore leave.
  • Enemy Mine: The situation forces a team-up between sworn enemies Sisko and Dukat.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Dukat spends most of the episode stewing because he missed his son's 11th birthday party.
    "When my son looks back on this day, the only thing he'll remember is that a Federation officer, on a Federation ship invaded his home, and kept his father away from him on his eleventh birthday, and he won't look back with understanding. He'll look back with hatred, and that's sad."
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The Obsidian Order's fleet of ships hidden in the Orias system would come into play a few episodes later.
    • Riker is inexplicably hostile to Miles, deliberately avoiding associating with someone very familiar with Will Riker.
    • Tom in general is a little out of character as "Will", for those watching for the subtle signs. He doesn't stride with quite the same confidence, he seems slightly nervous giving his excuse for being there to Sisko and is outwardly freaked out when Dax reminds him they've met (he quickly puts two-and-two together who she is & fumbles through a vague response that is careful to look real but not accidentally get any details wrong that Tom wouldn't have known about). At various points Tom talks about 'not feeling like' going to Quark's despite this being his stated aim for being there. And while he charms Kira, he doesn't outright seduce her the same way we'd expect Will to. He seems to be operating on a clock to hijack Defiant and finally is noticably agitated when he realizes O'Brien (who Will served with for years, but Tom has never met) could blow his cover so close to achieving the goal, hence why he snaps at him. But there's a lot of really subtle acting from Jonathan Frakes throughout the early parts of the episode to hint at this not quite being Commander Riker.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: A low-key example. Thomas willingly accepts a life sentence in a Cardassian prison in exchange for allowing his Maquis allies to return to the Federation.
  • Gambit Pileup : Sisko representing Starfleet works with Cardassian Central Command's Gul Dukat to stop the Maquis-controlled Defiant. The Maquis themselves believe there is a renegade Cardassian fleet in the Orias system out to attack them. The Obsidian Order observer, Corinas, states that any Central Command ships that enter the Orias system will be destroyed. In "Improbable Cause", we learn that the fleet in the Orias system is a marshaling of Obsidian Order and Romulan Tal Shiar ships to take out the Founders.
  • Hammerspace: Where Thomas Riker got that phaser from, nobody quite wants to know. But he definitely wasn't wearing it a few seconds before that.
    • Riker was standing at a tactical console. Starfleet tactical stations are often known to have sidearms placed under the console.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: How Thomas Riker justifies himself to Kira.
  • I Know You Know I Know: When Sisko warns the Cardassians about the Defiant's cloaking device, Korinas reveals that she already knows about it and was waiting to see if Sisko would mention it. Dukat, on the other hand, is pissed that the Obsidian Order knew about it and didn't tell Central Command.
  • Interservice Rivalry: It's made quite clear by this episode that the Central Command and the Obsidian Order do not get along. At all. The Political Officer from the Order just makes it worse.
  • Let Me Get This Straight...: Dukat, when Sisko drops the bomb on who Thomas is.
    Dukat: Are you telling me that one of the most heavily armed warships in this quadrant is now in the hands of Maquis terrorists?
  • Noodle Incident: Pretending to be Will, Thomas claims to have once walked away from Quark's with a small fortune and a dabo girl. Based on what Jadzia says, the story has at least some truth to it.
    • The incident is also referenced in the TNG episode "Firstborn." Quark apparently wasn't able to give Riker his entire payout, and still owed him a large sum of money. Riker uses this as leverage to pry information out of him.
  • Not So Different:
    • Sisko and Dukat both know what it's like to have to break promises to their children because of their jobs.
    • Lampshaded when the Obsidian Order officer orders sensitive information locked down in Sisko's presence and Sisko notes that he'd do exactly the same thing if there were a Cardassian officer aboard DS9. Except he would've been more discreet.
    • Thomas tries to invoke this with Kira as his and the Maquis's fight against Cardassia being a righteous fight, just like Bajor's. Kira, however, is quick to point out that she was fighting to liberate her homeworld, while Thomas has no reason to attack Cardassia unprovoked, except to differentiate himself from William Riker.
  • Not So Similar: Thomas Riker tries to appeal to Kira's history of fighting Cardassians, but she hits back that he's trying to play the selfless hero when she would've used the Defiant during her resistance days to wreak untold destruction.
  • Oh, Crap!: Dukat when told the Defiant was hijacked for the Maquis.
    • The look on Korinas's face when Sisko figures out the Orias system is Riker's true objective.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: 'Will' Riker snapping at O'Brien for no apparent reason.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Kira accuses Thomas of simply wanting to find a way to escape Will Riker's shadow and be different.
    Kira: This is about you, isn't it? You and that other Will Riker out there, the man with your face, your name, your career. You are looking for a way to set yourself apart, some way to be different.
  • Plea Bargain: After some negotiation, Sisko agrees to let the Cardassians keep Thomas Riker if the Cardassians agree to arrange a sentence for him other than death. They settle on life imprisonment in a Cardassian labor camp.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Dukat's briefing with Sisko and Odo shows both sides of it. He warns that the Cardassian government won't believe their story of a transporter duplicate stealing the Defiant; instead, they'll insist the Federation let the Maquis have it and use this event as an excuse to attack the Demilitarized Zone in force. Dukat helps Sisko, however, out of concern of the Federation acting to defend their colonies and a war erupting during a tense situation.
  • Properly Paranoid: Downplayed. Thomas Riker was right about the invasion fleet's existence, though a later two-parter will reveal he was way off about its true purpose.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Amazingly, Gul Dukat plays the role through much of the episode. Even more amazingly, it's genuine and not just his ego convincing himself it is the case.
  • Renegade Splinter Faction: The Maquis believe one of these is responsible for the secret military buildup in the Orias system. Turns out it's actually the Obsidian Order.
  • Required Spinoff Crossover: A Jonathan Frakes character drops by "coincidentally" a few days after Star Trek: Generations was released.
  • Rewatch Bonus:
    • When Jadzia tells Riker she was there that night at Quark's a year ago, he initially looks worried. On a first viewing, you're led to believe Will Riker is just concerned about paying back a debt. On the second viewing, you realize Thomas Riker is worried someone there can unravel his cover story.
    • Thomas Riker chewing out O'Brien on the Defiant. It seems so out of character, but upon re-watching, it's clear he didn't expect O'Brien to be there and wanted to get him out of there ASAP in order to carry out his plan.
    • Riker's uniform looks a bit large on him. As we find out, it's not Thomas Riker's uniform. It's probably the first command red uniform he could get his hands on.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Kira chews out Riker and his crew of terrorists for not doing this after hijacking the Defiant. She tells Riker that if she had a ship like that under her command during the Occupation, she'd have blasted Terok Nor to bits, then continued on to Cardassia Prime and leveled the place from orbit, killing any Cardassians that stood in her way. Instead, the Maquis are acting like Starfleet officers on an intelligence-gathering mission.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: The Obsidian Order is forbidden from having military equipment, but they control several warships in the Orias System. Korinas doesn't bother justifying it, settling for a smug smile.
  • Spot the Imposter: Averted with Thomas Riker since he is a perfect duplicate of Will, right down to fingerprints and voiceprint. Played straight later when Sisko points out the "Defiant" the Cardassians are chasing near Outpost 47 is a fake - the warp signature is right, but the phase variance and subspace harmonics don't match.
  • State Sec: Averted as the Obsidian Order is forbidden from having military forces, presumably to maintain a Balance of Power with the military.
  • Stealth Insult: When Sisko is proven right about a suspected feint by the Defiant, the Obsidian Order's liaison very passive-aggressively insults Dukat's command acumen by praising Sisko's.
    Korinas: Commander Sisko, you should be commended. I only wish we had someone with such keen tactical instincts who could have prevented this invasion of our territory.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Averted with Sisko and Dukat, who get along fine while trying to navigate this crisis. Played straight with Dukat and his Obsidian Order observer.
  • The Men First: Turns out that like Will Riker, Tom cares about the lives of his crew, which Kira uses to convince him to surrender.
  • The War Room: Dukat and Sisko look for the Defiant in one of Central Command’s control rooms.
  • Wham Line: "You did it, Tom."
    • "We have reason to believe Thomas Riker is a member of the Maquis."
  • Wham Shot: Riker shooting Kira. And then removing his sideburns, revealing himself to be Thomas Riker.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Despite Kira vowing to rescue him, Thomas Riker is never seen or mentioned again in canon.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Tom chews Kira out when she sabotages the Defiant and nearly gets herself killed in the process. It's clear he's more upset about the latter than the former.
  • Wild Goose Chase: Kira accuses Tom of going on one.
  • You Know What You Did: Thomas Riker pulls this on O'Brien, to drive him off and avoid arousing suspicion from him. O'Brien clearly does not know what he did, but Riker's rank is too high for him to protest.


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