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Recap / Star Trek Deep Space Nine S 05 E 05 The Assignment

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Another "O'Brien Must Suffer" episode dealt with in a unique fashion. Keiko returns from Bajor possessed by a dangerous and malicious entity. And O'Brien is stuck fighting the clock to make sure he can get it out of his wife without killing her. This marks the first appearance of the Pah-Wraiths.


Tropes

  • Adult Fear: The whole episode is this for resident Butt-Monkey Miles O'Brien. Especially when Possessed!Keiko is alone with Molly.
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  • A Glass in the Hand: O'Brien is compelled to act normally at a party. The stress becomes too much for him when Possessed!Keiko shows mock-affection for his daughter, and he shatters his whiskey glass.
  • Alien Lunch: Or rather, breakfast for Rom. Eager to be accepted by the engineering crews, he tries emulating them to their meal choices. First he picks Chief O'Brien but later finds out bacon disagrees with him. He later picks another crewman to copy and orders pancakes. Since Ferengi primarily eat bugs and grubs, these are very unusual menu choices.
  • And I Must Scream: At the end of the episode, Keiko confides that she was awake and aware the whole time, but unable to do anything to stop the Pah Wraith from controlling her body. While she was terrified of the experience, she does tell Miles, "I don't ever want to forget how hard you fought for me."
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  • Bookends: The episode opens with Rom getting the breakfast of choice for the night shift crewman. And ends with him getting the breakfast of choice for the day shift crewman.
  • Brick Joke: Rom promises that if he's caught, he won't even reveal his own name (which everyone knows anyway). Later Odo grumbles that after being arrested, Rom refused even to give his name.
  • Brought Down to Normal: O'Brien lays out Odo with a single sucker punch when the latter finally catches on to what he's doing. Yet another reason for Odo to miss being a Changeling.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Remember those fire caves that Jake wanted to see in Season 1? We finally learn what's in them.
  • Deal with the Devil: The Pah-Wraith forces O'Brien into this—saying he'll get Keiko back if he performs a series of tasks.
  • Demonic Possession: If you consider the Wormhole Aliens spirits, anyway.
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  • Early Installment Weirdness: Later episodes would show that those possessed by the Pah-Wraiths get Red Eyes, Take Warning. Of course, this Pah-Wraith may have suppressed that in order to blend in. And as mentioned below, the Pah-Wraith in this episode acts more like a Faux Affably Evil Punch-Clock Villain, and not actively malicious, whereas subsequent episodes show that the Pah-Wraiths are Large Ham Always Chaotic Evil.
  • Exact Words: O'Brien lets the Pah-Wraith know that he knows what it's up to, but he doesn't care about the conflict between the Prophets and Pah-Wraiths; he just wants his wife back. The Pah-Wraith thinks this means that he's done as the Pah-Wraith asked. Instead, the chroniton array O'Brien has just finished targets the runabout instead of the wormhole, driving out the Pah-Wraith possessing Keiko—getting Miles his wife back in the process.
  • Faux Affably Evil: The Pah-Wraith is remarkably cheerful and casual for an Eldritch Abomination, and pours on the charm for O'Brien, but it never hesitates to remind him that bad things will happen if he doesn't behave. Keiko also believes it wouldn't have spared either of them if it succeeded.
  • Foreshadowing: Jake says that he'd like to see a Pah-Wraith.
    • Rom tells Miles that he and Leeta had become friends and she liked to tell him stories of Bajoran folklore. These two would later become a Beta Couple on the show.
  • Forgotten Phlebotinum: A Technobabble particle that kills Pah-Wraiths dead sure would be handy in a number of subsequent episodes! The problem is handwaved in the next Pah-Wraith episode with the clarification that chronitons only drive away Prophets and Pah-Wraiths, not kill them.
  • Hard-Work Montage: When O'Brien and Rom really get down to business.
  • Hidden Depths: We'd heard from Nog before that Rom was a mechanical genius (in defiance of Odo's assessment that Rom was an idiot who "couldn't fix a straw if it was bent", which really testifies to how well-hidden his depths are) but this episode was the first one where we got to see how damn good he really is.
  • Hired to Hunt Himself: O'Brien is asked by Sisko if he knows of anyone who is capable of doing all these adjustments to the station.
  • I Have Your Wife: The Pah-Wraith controlling Keiko.
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog:
    • Rather than help O'Brien tell Keiko that her plants died while she was away, Bashir claims that he has to be in the infirmary performing an operation.
      O'Brien: On who?
      Bashir: I'll find someone.
    • Followed by Molly retreating from the scene.
  • Innocuously Important Episode: The first appearance of the Pah Wraiths, who go on to be a lot more than just another Monster of the Week.
  • Ironic Birthday: Just to make things even harder on O'Brien. Not that anyone else knows that anything is wrong.
  • Not Herself: Defied. The Pah-Wraith plays the part of Keiko so well that no one notices anything is wrong. Even O'Brien doesn't notice until the Pah-Wraith reveals itself. About the only tell is that the Wraith isn't upset that O'Brien and Bashir killed Keiko's plants, and O'Brien initially just chalks that up to luck on his part.
  • Out-Gambitted: The Pah-Wraith, once Rom helps O'Brien figure out what's going on.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: The Pah-Wraith never acts especially evil, coming off more like someone who simply has a job to do.
  • Recycled Premise: The TNG episode "Power Play" had an evil spirit possessing Miles and threatening Keiko and infant Molly. This time, Keiko gets possessed and threatens Miles and Molly.
  • Sadistic Choice: O'Brien spends the episode struggling with this: help a dangerous alien (whose goal is revealed to be to kill the Prophets) or lose his beloved wife. Fortunately, he finds a way to Take a Third Option — make the chroniton beam as instructed, but turn it on the Pah-Wraith.
  • Scotty Time: O'Brien says he can finish the work in thirty six hours. The Wraith gives him thirteen. He succeeds with Rom's help.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Bashir and Molly have the good sense to make themselves scarce when they realize someone will need to explain to Keiko why her beloved plants are dead.
  • Smarter Than You Look: Rom begins to show his true talents, now that he decided to stop trying to be a "good Ferengi", caring about nothing but profit. Rom finishes his tasks long before his shift is over, so he approaches O'Brien for more to do; O'Brien puts him to work on some modifications to the station's deflector array that the Pah Wraith gave him. Rom instantly puts it together saying "Why are we trying to kill the wormhole aliens?"
  • Spanner in the Works: Jadzia's habit to study some spacial phenomena when she cannot sleep led her to find the entire array has been put out of place, nearly exposing the full extent of the possessed Keiko's plan.
    • Rom's knowledge of Bajoran religion and folklore, which he acquired from his regular conversations with Leeta, leads to Miles realizing what the Pah Wraith is up to as well (and as a result, what the Pah Wraith is and how he can destroy it). To a lesser extent, Rom approaching O'Brien during the latter's "assignment", which causes O'Brien to enlist Rom's help.
  • Stepford Smiler: The possession coincides with O'Brien's birthday, so he has to act like everything's fine during the party.
  • Technobabble: O'Brien pulls some on Odo when confronted about everything he's been up to. Odo doesn't buy any of it.
  • The Tell: As his wife, Keiko has noticed that her husband has a small facial cue when he is about to ask a question. As the Pah-wraith possessing her has all her knowledge, it notices too.
  • Tempting Fate: O'Brien dreads having to tell Keiko that he failed to take proper care of her plants. Well, "Keiko" doesn't care about that—prompting a relieved O'Brien to say everything's fine. Then he learns that everything is most definitely not fine.
  • Undying Loyalty: Rom to O'Brien, even when O'Brien admits he's not actually doing a top-secret project for Starfleet. O'Brien repays him for it in the end.
  • Wham Line: From Rom of all people:
    Rom: The new frequency of the deflector grid is set to turn the station into a massive chroniton array aimed directly at the wormhole. So I just wanted to know... why are we trying to kill the wormhole aliens?
  • Would Hurt a Child: The Pah-Wraith warns O'Brien to behave by "accidentally" pulling on Molly's hair.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Keiko notes in the coda that she is certain the thing in her wouldn't have allowed either O'Brien live to tell what happened.
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