When Chief O'Brien needs special parts to repair the station, he decides to get them from Empok Nor, an abandoned Cardassian station built on the same design as DS9. The Cardassians are known for booby-trapping installations that they leave behind, so Sisko enlists Garak to go along with Chief, Nog, and a crew of red-shirt engineers and security personnel as the booby-trap expert.
Exploring the station, they discover two recently-emptied stasis chambers. It appears that two Cardassian soldiers were left behind, and triggered to awaken when the station was boarded, and now they are stalking the visitors. As they pick off the red-shirts one by one, Garak goes in search of them, seeming to turn from his usual sly and urbane self to a violent hunter.
- Actor Allusion: This isn't the first time that Andrew J. Robinson has played an Ax-Crazy psycho.
- All for Nothing: In two episodes the station will be under Cardassian control, and they could have easily brought in the parts.
- Artistic License Gun Safety: A security officer guarding one of the engineers is standing so her phaser is pointed right at him. When he complains she patronizingly tells him the safety is on and keeps pointing it at him.
- Black Dude Dies First: Stolzoff, the only black and only female crew member is the first to get killed.
- Averted, just barely, by Pechetti seconds before.
- Blood from the Mouth: Amaro, after Garak stabs him.
- Bottle Episode: In a similar vein to episodes from the previous shows that take place on a Constitution- or Galaxy-class starship besides the Enterprise, this one is set on a station of the same design as DS9, so they can use the same sets (but more dimly lit).
- Cardassian Popsicle: The Cardassians left two Ax-Crazy soldiers behind in stasis pods to guard Empok Nor from looters.
- Chekhov's Gun: The blue stuff that Garak is exposed to early on is what makes him go psycho.
- Distressed Dude: Nog is captured by Crazy!Garak, forcing O'Brien to rescue him.
- Don't Call Me "Sir": O'Brien, when Nog reports to the runabout and calls him "sir."O'Brien: One more "Sir" and I'm leaving you behind.
Nog: Thank you, s—Chief.
- Dutch Angle: Empok Nor itself is filmed this way, showing that this is not the Federation-adapted DS9.
- The Engineer: O'Brien's status as this gets highlighted, as he was formerly a soldier who fought on the front lines of an earlier war between the Federation and the Cardassians. He provides a handy demonstration of why Starfleet Engineers are so well-respected when he creates an improvised bomb from some stuff he happened to have on him.
- Famed In-Story: O'Brien, courtesy of the Battle of Setlik III. He still doesn't like to talk about it.
- Fantastic Racism: It's barely audible, but Amaro can be heard calling the Cardassians 'spoon heads'. It's another sign that Deep Space Nine wasn't your typical Star Trek show since Gene Roddenberry had been adamant there was no racism in Starfleet.
- The Cardassian Psycho Serum is designed to amplify their natural xenophobia, literally making them violently racist.
- "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: O'Brien tries to reason with Crazy!Garak, but fails.
- Not Himself: Garak is turned Ax-Crazy by the experimental compound the Cardassians left on Empok Nor.
- Not So Different: Crazy!Garak tells O'Brien that beneath his pacifistic Federation exterior, he's a predator as much as the Cardassians he fought.
- Oh, Crap!: Nog, when he sees the runabout float away from Empok Nor and explode.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Garak asks O'Brien to make sure that the wife of his victim know that he's sorry for what he did. It's the only time in the series that Garak apologizes for taking a life, which shows just how guilty he feels.
- Not necessarily OOC for Garak; generally when Garak kills, he does so with deliberate intent and thus does not feel remorse for it. In this specific case he was operating without agency. That he apologizes at all, however, only highlights how atypical the situation was.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Crazy!Garak taunts O'Brien for no longer being a soldier. Subverted when O'Brien says "You're right. I'm an engineer." and uses an improvised bomb to stop him.
- Reckless Gun Usage: Stolzoff, despite being a trained security guard, points her phaser rifle at another crewmember who asks her not to, with Stolzoff's only response being that the safety is on.
- Red Shirt: Seven people go on the mission. One is a main cast member with his name in the opening credits, two are well-developed secondary characters, and four are minor crewmen never seen or mentioned before. Three people come back alive. Any guesses which?
- Shoot the Dog: O'Brien's improvised explosive was actually supposed to kill Garak. When he tells Garak this during the final scene of the episode, Garak simply replies, "I understand."
- Shout-Out: The episode is based on the Japanese soldiers in the Philippines who still thought World War II was still being fought.
- Too Dumb to Live: Stolzoff. Despite already warned about the Cardassian soldiers, she doesn't take the situation seriously including the above-mentioned Reckless Gun Usage and gets herself and the engineer she was supposed to protect killed.
- Variant Chess: Kotra, a Cardassian version. Nog's playing style is too conservative for Garak's taste.
- Worthy Opponent: Garak displays a significant amount of respect for O'Brien's service during the Federation-Cardassian war, even wanting to face off against him in a Cardassian board game revolving around strategy and risk.