Kira 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. Those aren't ships under Dukat's command. He's outraged to learn that they're under the command of the Obsidian Order, who are forbidden to have any military power.
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. Sisko agrees 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.
- 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: Thomas Riker returns from the TNG episode "Second Chances."
- Clone Angst: 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.
- Continuity Nod:
- When the Obsidian Order officer orders their consoles secured from Sisko, he notes that he would've done the same. In fact, he did.
- Sisko mentions how the Dominion used an antiproton beam to see through the Invisibility Cloak on the Defiant.
- Pretending to be Will, Thomas claims to have once walked away from Quark's with a small fortune and a dabo girl. This is a reference to an incident that was first mentioned 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 in the episode.
- Maquis member Kalita, from TNG's "Preemptive Strike", reappears as part of Thomas' crew.
- Death of the Hypotenuse: In a non-romantic version. With an exact copy of Will Riker running about the galaxy, especially one with ties to the Maquis, this story effective removes the Tom Riker from any future stories, as a protagonist or villain.
- Defector from Decadence: Thomas Riker left Starfleet for the Maquis sometime after "Second Chances".
- Double-Meaning Title: It describes both the titular ship, and that a version of William T. Riker is being "Defiant" of Starfleet.
- 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 since he's accumulated three months of it.
- Enemy Mine: The situation forces a team-up between sworn enemies Sisko and Dukat.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: It wouldn't be a Cardassian episode if one of them didn't contrast their utter ruthlessness with their love for their family. In this episode, Dukat gets distracted by the fact that 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."
- 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. 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 the Defiant and finally is noticeably agitated when he realizes O'Brien (whom 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.
- 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, Korinas, states that any Central Command ships that enter the Orias system will be destroyed.
- 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.
- Honey Pot: Riker seduces Kira to gain access to the Defiant.
- 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.
- Internal Reveal: Minor instance. Dukat learns the Defiant is equipped with a Romulan cloaking device.
- 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.
- It's All About Me: When Tom Riker refuses to abort his run on the Orias system, even though he has Central Command ships chasing him and Obsidian Order ships in front of him, Kira realizes the mission is more about one-upping his counterpart, Will Riker, than it is about stopping the Cardassians.Kira: It's not the mission you're thinking about, is it? Or even the colonists in the zone. 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.
- 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?
- Locked Out of the Loop: The Obsidian Order has known about the Defiant cloaking device since "The Search", but intentionally withheld this information from the Central Command. Ostensibly, it's because the Order didn't consider this single cloaking device to be a threat to Union security (and thus irrelevant to the Central Command). Unofficially, though, it's clearly another instance of the Interservice Rivalry between the two governmental branches rearing its ugly head.
- 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.
- Motive Misidentification: Tom and the Maquis believe the fleet in the Orias System is being built for an all-out attack on the DMZ. "Improbable Cause" will reveal this is not the case.
- "Not So Different" Remark:
- Used 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.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Dukat is being his usual self as Sisko and Odo explain Thomas Riker's theft of the Defiant to him, but doesn't care. Then Sisko mentions Riker is a member of the Maquis, and Dukat stops, stares at them, and responds with a Flat "What". This emphasizes that even Dukat recognizes how serious the situation is.
- 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.
- Despite being terrorists, Riker and his Maquis accomplices only attack Cardassian military targets during their incursion into Union territory. And even then, most of their attacks are hit-and-run raids and feints meant to draw patrols away from the uninhabited Orias system, which is their true objective.
- 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.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Discussed when Kira chews out Riker and his crew of terrorists for not going on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge with the hijacked 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 planet from orbit, killing any Cardassians that tried to stop her. Instead, Riker and his Maquis crew are acting like Starfleet officers on an intelligence-gathering mission.Riker: Maybe we're just different kinds of terrorists.Kira: No, you're trying to be a hero. And terrorists don't get to be heroes.
- 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.
- 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.
- Sequel Episode: To Next Generation's "Second Chances".
- Spot the Imposter: 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: Obsidian Order is revealed to have built a secret military force even though they're forbidden from doing so, presumably to maintain a Balance of Power with the military Central Command.
- 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. Dukat's humiliated reaction shot shows that the implications are not lost on him.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: Sisko and Dukat have to work together to overcome Riker's threat. Ironically, they get along much better than Dukat and his Obsidian Order observer, suffering a serious case of Interservice Rivalry.
- The War Room: Dukat and Sisko look for the Defiant in one of Central Commandís control rooms.
- Tranquil Fury: Tom's reaction after Kira deduces he's doing all this not so much to help the Maquis, but to set himself apart from his 'brother'. Tom's icy response shows her hunch is right on the money.
- 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.