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Recap / Star Trek Deep Space Nine S 05 E 09 The Ascent

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The start of the world's most spiteful mountain climb.
As Sisko looks on with mixed emotions, Jake packs his things in preparation of moving in with Nog, who is transferring to the station to complete his Starfleet training. Quark and Nog await the young cadet's arrival with a shipment of root beer, but Odo shows up instead. The constable smugly announces that he's there to arrest Quark to go to a trial. It seems the Ferengi's criminal schemes have finally caught up to him.

Nog himself arrives on the station ready to get down to work. He assures Sisko that he'll keep Jake on the straight and narrow. Indeed, when the two old friends start living together, Nog's bossiness and Jake's laziness quickly start to grate on each other. Things aren't any friendlier on the runabout transporting Quark to his trial. Odo and Quark squabble incessantly as they prepare for a week-long trip. Through it all, Odo refuses to give any hint about what Quark is charged with. Bereft of conversation, Quark starts complaining about a buzzing noise and locates a bomb hidden in the runabout.

The bomb is a product of the Orion Syndicate, and it's a doozy. Constable and prisoner try beaming the bomb away, but it creates a limited explosion nonetheless, which severely damages the ship. They crashland onto an L-class planet, barely habitable. Upon waking up, they discover that they have no communications to send a distress call, limited rations, and no life support. They'll freeze or starve to death if they don't think of something. Quark eventually detaches the ship's transceiver array and plans to carry it high enough so that its weak signal can pierce the atmosphere. They'll have to reach the top of a nearby mountain.


Back on the station, Jake bristles at Nog's attempts to copy-edit his stories without his permission, while Nog rebukes Jake for lying around the apartment playing computerized dom-jot instead of cleaning or working. After a nasty argument, the pair decide to split up.

Odo and Quark make their laborious ascent. Quark has agreed to split the time they spend carrying the transceiver and wearing the one survival suit they have. Hours go by, and the exhausted pair realize that they have much farther to go than they originally realized. They don't help themselves by bickering the whole time. Quark accuses Odo of failing to take advantage of being a solid and enjoy the things he clearly wanted to experience while a Changeling. He also denies being a member of the Orion Syndicate, with his proof being that members always kill themselves before going to trial. He deduces that Odo doesn't know what charges, if any, he's been accused of. In fact, he's probably being summoned as a witness rather than a suspect. Odo counters that Quark could never afford to join the syndicate anyway, since he's a failure. The barkeep counters that that means Odo has spent his life failing to arrest a nobody, which makes him a bigger failure.


Stopping for camp, Quark passes out, and Odo panics, suspecting that he's dead, but the Ferengi wakes up half-deaf and barely clinging to life. They keep going but eventually degenerate into an even nastier argument. After spewing their hatred for each other, they get into as shoving match and tumble back down the mountainside. Odo's leg breaks, so Quark fashions a splint and a litter to drag the crippled constable with him. He only gets so far before collapsing and giving up. Odo refuses to die, however, and starts crawling past him, pushing the transceiver along. Shamed, Quark bitterly refuses to be shown up and continues his trek alone.

Back on the station, Sisko meets with Rom, and the two fathers share their disappointment that their boys are so stuck in their ways that they can't get along. Sisko visits Jake and announces that he'll need a roommate if he's to continue living in his own quarters, so he brings Nog back in. As Nog's captain and Jake's father, what he says goes, so the boys will just have to work it out. Jake offers to start exercising with Nog, but Nog suggests going out for some fun instead. With compromises in place, the friends share a laugh again.

On the planet, Odo realizes that Quark has been gone too long and so much have failed. He starts dictating his final message to whoever finds their bodies, but mid-sentence he's transported onto the Defiant. It seems Quark did make it all the way to the top and passed out over the transceiver. Odo is irritated that Quark has saved their lives. Bashir ushers them both into sick bay, where they recuperate side by side. Quark brings up all those horrible things he said about Odo and admits... he meant every single thing. Odo agrees. The two friendly nemeses share a chuckle.

Tropes Associated with this Episode

  • Call-Back: A couple.
    • Quark offers to teach Odo how to play Fizzbin.
    • The title of one of Jake's stories is Past Prologue.
  • Cassandra Truth: Given how Quark is known for complaining about any little detail, it takes Odo several minutes to realize that there is a buzzing sound on the runabout that isn't part of any onboard equipment.
  • Coming in Hot: Another runabout bites the dust. Subverted in that the Rio Grande is apparently salvaged and repaired afterwards, thanks to the writers forgetting that it was meant to have been destroyed in this episode; fortunately, it was shown to have landed reasonably intact, thus at least putting repairs within the realm of plausibility.
  • Conveniently Close Planet: The L-class planet that Quark and Odo crash on.
    Quark: How close?
    Odo: Close enough. I hope.
  • Death World: The planet is supposed to be this. It's freezing cold and everything is poisonous. However, the beautiful Sierra Nevadas do a rather poor job of portraying this.
  • Determinator:
    • Quark, against all odds (and Odo's expectations), manages to lug the transmitter high enough to contact the Defiant. Even better, he made a fair bit of this progress while dragging Odo along as dead weight.
    • When Quark is all but ready to lay down and die, Odo starts trying to push the transmitter up the mountain while unable to stand due to a broken leg. This display (and the realization that if he dies, Rom will inherit the bar and Nog will continue to be "corrupted" by the Federation) is enough to rouse Quark into action.
  • Distinction Without a Difference: Nog suggests that he and Jake take turns cleaning their quarters on odd and even days...
    Jake: We're going to clean every day?
    Nog: No, just the odd and even ones.
  • The Dreaded: Even Odo is wary of the Orion Syndicate, saying that if Quark had been a member, Odo wouldn't be transporting him to trial on a runabout alone, but rather, would be bringing him on the Defiant with half of Odo's deputies as guards.
  • Due to the Dead: Believing that Quark has died and that he is soon to follow, Odo takes the time in his last log entry to suggest that whoever finds them vacuum desiccate and auction off Quark's remains, in accordance with Ferengi tradition (though, true to form, Odo vocally doubts that they'd be worth much), while asking that he himself be cremated and sent back through the wormhole to return from whence he came.
  • End of an Era: A Meta example. This is the final episode to feature the original Starfleet jumpsuit uniforms created exclusively for Deep Space Nine. Beginning with the following episode, DS9 will switch over to the redesigned uniforms that were being introduced in Star Trek: First Contact for the remainder of its run.
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending: Odo and Quark find it in themselves to laugh about the whole unpleasant experience, especially after they both admitted that in their trading of insults in the middle of the episode, they both meant everything they said.
  • Friendly Enemy: As expected, this aspect of Odo and Quark's relationship is central to the episode. As usual the two can't stand each other, repeatedly scream at each other about all the things they can't stand about the other, and a major motivation for them to keep going is that they both hate the idea of dying alone together. However, they repeatedly show genuine concern for each other, such as when Odo breaks his leg or Quark seems to have died in his sleep. Quark even drags Odo along with him on a makeshift sled until he's so weak he can't do it anymore. And in the end, they share a mutual laugh over the experience.
  • Grammar Nazi: While tidying up, Nog edited one of Jake's stories for grammar and spelling. Jake, like any writer, is aghast that Nog dared to change what he wrote.
  • Homage: The concept of the episode is loosely inspired by Waiting for Godot, though the original idea was much closer to the original.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: When the injured Odo tells Quark to go on without him, Quark responds that he's bringing Odo as "emergency rations". Also works as a Mythology Gag to the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, when the Ferengi were implied to be cannibals.
  • Mandatory Line: Dax, Worf, and Kira only show up for about one line apiece.
  • Neat Freak: Starfleet discipline has turned Nog into one; he insists that he and Jake clean their quarters daily, and puts his own father on report for keeping a sloppy tool kit.
  • Not Himself: Played for laughs with Jake surprised Starfleet has turned Nog into a rule-abiding neat freak which annoys him to no end. Meanwhile, Rom is so worried about his son's new attitude that he actually draws blood to make sure Nog isn't a Changeling.
  • Odd Couple: Jake, the laid back slob. And Nog, the stuck up Starfleet cadet.
  • Oh, Crap!: Quark and Odo get two major ones: when they find the bomb on the runabout, and when they see exactly how high they'll have to climb to call for help.
  • Rage-Breaking Point: Several days of each others' company, with little food and nothing to do but climb the mountain and dwell on their miserable circumstances, gets the better of Quark and Odo about halfway through the episode. They snarl insults at each other before getting into a fight that ends with Odo breaking his leg and making their situation even worse.
    Odo: What do you hate?
    Quark: You.
    Odo: Well, that's fine with me, because I hate you, too. You're nothing but a petty thief.
    Quark: You're an arrogant prude!
    Odo: Lecher!
    Quark: Freak!
    Odo: FRAUD!
    Quark: FASCIST!
    Odo: FAILURE!
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The planet is supposed to be freezing, but the beautifully sunny skies of Central California didn't convey that very well, so a line was added in which Quark wonders how it could be so cold with the sun shining, and Odo responds, "It isn't much of a sun."
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Odo likes to read trashy romance novels. He claims they help him gain insight into crimes of passion. Quark doesn't buy it, and semi-seriously offers to loan him an erotic novel.
  • Roommate Drama: Jake and Nog, now a Starfleet Cadet, are forced to room together. Nog is now an overachiever and a neat freak, Jake is a laid back slob. They come to a resolution because there are no other quarters unless they move back in with their fathers.
  • Running Gag: Quark's disgust with root beer and the fondness that Rom and Nog have for it gets another appearance.
  • Somebody Set Up Us the Bomb: The Orion Syndicate set up Quark and Odo's runabout the bomb, setting up the A-plot.
  • Stunned Silence: Quark leaves Odo at a loss for words with this exchange.
    Odo: Well, I guess you're not as successful a businessman as you think you are.
    Quark: Which means you spent the last ten years of your life trying to catch a nobody – with little success, I might add. So you tell me, which one of us is the bigger failure?
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: The only thing keeping Odo and Quark going is the idea of dying together.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Quark has a resigned response to seeing the bomb on the runabout, knowing what he and Odo are in for.
    Quark: Don't tell me, let me guess...
    Odo: It's a bomb.
  • Video Will: Odo sardonically dictates his will on his combadge near the end when it seems like Quark has failed. He requests that his ashes be placed in his bucket and shot through the wormhole so at least he'll end up where he started, and that Quark's remains should be auctioned off as per Ferengi tradition. "I doubt they'll be worth much!"