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Recap / Star Trek Deep Space Nine S 06 E 22 Valiant

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Okay, so remember back in that season 4 two-parter where Nog was way into this Starfleet Academy group called Red Squad? Well, here he finally gets to work with them for real! Won't that be great???
Nog and Jake are heading to Ferenginar with what Jake suspects is a proposal for an alliance against the Dominion (because, obviously, the only Ferengi in Starfleet — whose grandmother is in love with the Nagus and whose father and uncle have had multiple dealings with him — is the most qualified person to handle a proposal of an alliance). The two are flying a runabout without any sort of escorts, so naturally they're easy picking for a squad of Jem'Hadar attack fighters. Luckily, they are rescued by the USS Valiant. There, they find that the crew is entirely composed of Red Squad, an elite training unit from Starfleet Academy that Nog idolized and wanted to join. The captain, Tim Watters, takes an immediate liking to Nog as he's the one person who is a Starfleet officer, while CPO Dorian Collins is befriended by Jake.

The two reveal to Jake and Nog (separately) the backstory of the Valiant: it was a training ship built solely for Red Squad and while on a mission to circumnavigate the entire Federation, the Dominion War broke out and they became trapped behind enemy lines. While engaging a Cardassian cruiser, all the commissioned officers were killed, leaving the cadets in command. Watters reveals to Nog what are, ostensibly, their orders: to gather intelligence on a new Dominion battleship. However, their inexperience has left the Valiant unable to catch up with the enemy ship. Being an Operations division ensign, Nog is immediately put in charge of engineering, even though as the only (field-)commissioned officer, he should really be taking command of the ship itself. But that is not gonna happen because Nog is still star-struck by them.


Jake gets Collins to open up, revealing her backstory and how she misses her family. This is brought before Watters and executive officer Karen Farris, who lash at Jake for "emotionally compromising" a member of the crew and order him to stay away from Collins. Jake is taken aback at this, seeing that while the cadets are highly trained, they are still New Meat and unfamiliar with how to truly handle themselves in war. Meanwhile, Nog is field-promoted to lieutenant commander and manages to solve the vessel's propulsion problems, allowing them to track the battleship.

Watters and Farris assemble the crew and reveal that their scans depict a weakness in the ship: an exhaust shaft that leads directly to the main reactor ... sorry, wrong film ... a flawed antimatter storage system that can be easily ruptured with the right type of attack (forgetting that their supposed orders are to gather intel and bring it back, not to engage in a risky battle). Jake tries to talk them out of it by saying that his own father, The Sisko, would not take on a mission this suicidal on his own. Of course, Red Squad can do anything, and he is ignored. Jake tries to talk sense into Nog, who has let his new rank go to his head and for this, Jake is thrown in the brig.


After a good ol' Lock-and-Load Montage and a Rousing Speech, the Valiant finds and engages the battleship. They flawlessly launch their specially-modified torpedoes, which appear to destroy the ship — but their celebration is premature, as the Dominion ship gets to No-Sell the attack and emerges unscathed. With a Mass "Oh, Crap!", the cadets try to regroup, but Watters, Farris, and most of the rest of the crew are killed in rapid succession. Nog realizes the ship is lost, and escapes the ship with Jake and Collins. They are soon rescued by the Defiant, which headed for the area to investigate the distress call from Nog and Jake's runabout. Afterward, Nog apologizes to Jake and urges him to tell what happened. Collins still refuses to blame her captain and claims the crew let him down. Nog tells Jake to write it all down and let people decide for themselves.

This episode provides examples of:

  • Abandon Ship: At the climax.
  • Artistic License – Military: Invoked. In modern military protocol, being a commissioned officer, Nog would have immediately outranked everyone on board the Valiant. However, Ron Moore based his writing on 19th century naval tradition, where an acting captain could only be removed from command by a flag officer. note 
    • On the other hand, Watters was surrounded by a fiercely loyal crew so drunk on the Kool-Aid that even after things quite literally explode in their faces the sole survivor insists that the failure was the crew's fault, not his. Nog likely wouldn't have gotten one syllable out of any attempt to take command before being promptly escorted to the brig regardless of seniority and protocol. To say nothing of the fact that Nog was star-struck by Red Squad even at the Academy, allowing Watters to secure his loyalty with a Field Promotion and a Rousing Speech.
    • In-Universe. Nog is "promoted" by Watters to Lieutenant Commander, but only has the insignia of a junior-grade lieutenant.
    SF Debris: I'd tell you you're a pip shy, but most people here are a few pips shy.
  • Ascended Fanboy: In-Universe — it's no secret that Nog was a Red Squad fanboy at the Academy, and now he gets to be one of them. Too bad it doesn't last.
  • Attack Pattern Sierra-4: Used in the skirmish with the first Jem'Hadar fighter.
  • "Awesome McCool" Name: The USS Valiant. Jake certainly thinks so, right until a console explodes in his face.
    "Valiant? Great name, and I hope they tear that Jem'Hadar ship apart piece by—" (BOOM)
  • Believing Their Own Lies: Watters believes the Red Squad was destined for something great in the Dominion War, and taking on a battleship ten times their size is just the thing that will propel him to legendary status. Nog also starts doing this even as Jake tries to snap him out of it.
    Nog: I am chief engineer of the starship Valiant!
    Jake: I'll have them put that on your tombstone.
  • Blind Obedience: The entirety of Red Squad has absolute loyalty to Watters, with Collins even refusing to consider that he sucked as a captain after the plan fails horribly and Watters dies in the process, followed by the rest of the crew.
  • Break the Cutie: Dorian Collins gets this from start to finish. By the time Jake and Nog come aboard, she's already depressed and deeply homesick. By the end of the episode, she's had what confidence she had as a Red Squad member downright pulverized, while all of her shipmates were killed around her and the Valiant itself, presumably her first space assignment, was blown to pieces in a Curb-Stomp Battle.
  • Broken Pedestal:
    • Nog's admiration for Red Squad is shattered.
    • Subverted with Collins. Even after all that happened, she refuses to blame Watters, claiming they all failed him.
  • Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: Watters and Farris, especially in their interactions with Jake, such as in the ready room.
  • Characters Dropping Like Flies: Near the end of the episode, when the Dominion battleship deals a fatal No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to the Valiant. And what would you expect, with a name like Red Squad?
  • Continuity Nod: Cadet Shepard is still with Red Squad.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The cadets outnumbered the training officers five-to-one, so of course only the inexperienced cadets survived their first battle while the officers were Killed Offscreen.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: The Plan to destroy the Dominion battleship. Subverted as it doesn't work.
  • Critical Staffing Shortage: One reason why Watters is eager to have Nog as part of the crew.
  • Curbstomp Battle: Even before the torpedo failure, the Jem'Hadar ship thrashes the Valiant. And after it fails, they really let them have it.
  • David vs. Goliath: The small Valiant against the gargantuan Dominion battleship. This time, Goliath wins.
  • Deconstruction:
    • Of the entire concept of the "plucky young band that overcomes a great evil" found in so much of adventure fiction (and most particularly Star Wars or Space Battleship Yamato).
    • Also of technobabble and hare-brained schemes saving the day.
  • Dirty Coward: Subverted. Red Squad views Jake as one for questioning their plan and calling it suicidal, with Nog chewing him out for it. Jake is, of course, absolutely right.
  • Downer Ending: Red Squad and the Valiant get absolutely annihilated by the Jem'Hadar ship. It's a miracle that Jake and Nog even survive, much less Collins. And to rub salt in it, Collins still refuses to acknowledge her Captain's utter failure.
  • The Dreaded Dreadnought: The Dominion battleship, one of the largest warships in the franchise.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: Deconstructed. The elite Red Squad eventually reveal themselves to just be terrified kids who are well out of their league. In fact their "elite" status actively works against them; they've been so ingrained with the idea that they're the best-of-the-best of all the cadets that they lose sight of the important fact that they are inexperienced cadets.
  • Ensign Newbie:
    • Captain Watters. It's dubious that the orders to gather intel on the battleship are genuine, given how close they were to Federation-held territory at the start and they could have easily returned home. He obviously doesn't want to go back to being a cadet, even though they are in a war and advancement could be quick.
    • The rest of the cadets as well, most of whom are doing jobs that would normally take years of service to be promoted into.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: Nog telling Collins that their attack has failed and everyone else is dead.
  • Explosive Instrumentation:
    • During the attack on the runabout, a console explodes in Jake's face. Fortunately, he's a main character, so he only ends up a little dazed and burnt on the arm.
    • During the Valiant's failed attack on the Dominion battleship, the explosive consoles take out one Red Squad member after another.
  • Field Promotion: The entire crew of the Valiant, due to the senior officers being killed in the line of duty. Captain Ramirez, while dying, gave command of the ship to Cadet Watters, who in turn promoted the rest of the cadets. "Captain" Watters even gives Nog a field promotion to lieutenant commander, due to his experience with the Defiant.
  • Get Out!: Nog says this to Jake, when Jake calls Red Squad "a bunch of delusional fanatics looking for martyrdom".
  • Glory Hound: Watters and the rest of Red Squad, grabbing the Idiot Ball firmly as they pursue a massive Jem'Hadar battleship instead of taking their undermanned and damaged warship back to rejoin the rest of Starfleet.
  • Gunship Rescue: The Valiant rescuing Jake and Nog.
  • Hope Spot: The crew of the Valiant get this when The Plan appears to work on the Dominion battleship. Which degenerates into a huge Mass "Oh, Crap!" when it doesn't.
  • Hubris: The whole crew succumbs to this, but Watters most especially. He's completed his mission of gathering intel, and the rational thing to do is to take this intel back to Starfleet so it can be analyzed in detail by a team of experts. Instead, Watters decides that their own quick overview of the intel is sufficient to warrant a solo attack using quickly-improvised technobabble. We've seen this sort of solution work before on Star Trek many times — by teams of officers with years or decades of experience in the field, many of whom have additional advantages like being a biological computer (Data), having advanced mental discipline and a brain with superhuman computational speed (Spock), access to the Borg Collective's vast technical library (Seven of Nine), a genetically-enhanced intellect (Bashir), or seven lifetimes of accumulated knowledge (Dax). This time, we see the result when a few students who haven't even graduated from the Academy yet take the "brand new technobabble on the fly" path.
  • Idiot Ball: Whoever was in charge of the Valiant's mission grabbed this hard: staff a state-of-the-art warship to circumnavigate the entire Federation with absolutely inexperienced cadets (some of which are seventeen years old) at a 5-to-1 ratio against commissioned Starfleet officers, have them maintain strict radio silence and don't require any communication from them while they are roaming Dominion space, and spying on a Dominion ship during a Dominion-dominated war. No matter how good the Red Squad is — and this seems more like an Informed Ability than anything else — this is a mission that would be certainly given to a battle-experienced crew like that of the Defiant and not a bunch of wet-behind-the-ears cadets. And at the very least, all those cadets should really have been scattered among a multitude of ships where they would be surrounded by experienced officers.
    • Of course, there's the implication that their orders aren't real, that Watters is trying to win his own personal glory in this massive war, which has plenty of other opportunities if he had the humility to earn his way into Starfleet from the ground up.
  • Ignored Expert: Jake isn't Starfleet, but he does know his father better than anyone. Nonetheless, his insistence that his father would never attempt the cadets' plan is completely ignored (even by Nog, who has served under Sisko).
  • Informed Ability: One could make a case about this regarding Red Squad, as both times we've seen them, being "the best of the best" is just hype to make them act like they can do everything, when they are sadly inexperienced and full of Suicidal Overconfidence.
  • Insignia Rip-Off Ritual: After the fiasco is over, Nog ditches his Red Squad pin, giving it to Collins as a Tragic Keepsake.
  • Jerkass: Most of the Red Squad crew, but especially Karen Farris. In her attempt to assert authority to Jake, she comes across as an arrogant bully. She even sarcastically says he's not been invited to the bridge, even after Watters invited him to watch "their story" unfold.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence:
    Watters: Lay in a new course! 127-mark — (BOOM)
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Jake points out that even his Memetic Badass father would not engage the Jem'Hadar battleship if he didn't have to and that there's no shame in running from a battle you can't win. None of the Red Squad cadets listen and they pay the price.
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: Before the battle.
  • Macross Missile Massacre / No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The Dominion battleship really doesn't pull its punches against the Valiant.
  • Mandatory Line: Everyone who's not Jake or Nog appears either at the very beginning or the very end of the episode. Except O'Brien, who doesn't appear at all.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": When the explosion clears and the Jem'Hadar ship is without a scratch, all the cadets' bravado vanishes and they look like the terrified kids they really are.
  • Meaningful Name: "Red Squad", when the elite cadets at the Academy were being groomed for futures in command — and Command division officers wear red. Also out-of-universe, in that they end up a bunch of redshirts.
  • Mighty Glacier: The Dominion battleship is much larger and slower than their battlecruisers, but has much greater firepower. The Valiant starts off this way, unable to go at a reasonable warp factor, because the engines aren't configured properly for the ship type; doing so actually breaks quite a few Starfleet regulations, but Nog points out the necessity, and also points out that the Defiant hasn't had any problems due to this configuration.
  • Miles Gloriosus: Watters is taking stimulants to stay awake; judging by his initial reactions to Jake and Nog he's a sycophant, and judging by his later reactions he's a fragile egotist. Several times throughout the episode, when interacting with Jake (and to a lesser extent Nog), all the named cadets demonstrate that they're not the seasoned officers they're pretending to be (you can't imagine even TOS-era officers treating a nosy civilian how Jake is treated here) at Watters' urging, and some of them can't even see how poorly Watters led them, even when recovering from serious injuries after being pulled from an escape pod. Watters even seems to believe his own bullshit, right up until they catch their prey, when he's among the first to realise that they now have no choice but to go through with the plan, and if it goes wrong they'll all die. And they do.
  • Mr Fix It: Nog can get the Valiant's engine working properly because he's had field experience working with Chief O'Brien on the Defiant, whereas the rest of the engineers haven't had that opportunity.
  • The Neidermeyer: "Captain" Watters and executive officer "Commander" Farris. Farris is a bully barking orders like a bad parody of a Starfleet officer. Watters lets his ego blind him to the fact that he's way out of his depth. The crew was the best: special missions, training, even their own ship. But they were still cadets.
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead: Zig-Zagged by Nog in one sentence when talking about the late Watters:
    "He may have been a hero; he may even have been a great man ... but in the end, he was a bad captain."
  • The Only One: Valiant is apparently the only ship still caught behind enemy lines. Part of Watters' reasoning for taking on the battleship is to prevent someone else from getting that glory.
  • Only Sane Man: Jake tries to reason with the cadets, and all it gets him is thrown in the brig.
  • Outrun the Fireball: The escape pod with Jake, Nog, and Collins does this as the Valiant explodes. Another pod isn't so lucky.
  • Point Defenseless: Red Squad tries to pull this off. It turned out that the Dominion ship's antimatter storage system was better-protected than they thought.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • A single Defiant-class ship goes against a massive, heavily-armed, heavily-armored battleship and is completely obliterated. Contrary to what some may think, the Defiant wasn't designed to fight and defeat the Borg entirely on its own.
    • Furthermore, a bunch of untested rookies, no matter how good they supposedly are, aren't going to successfully pull off an impossibly dangerous mission that even more experienced officers wouldn't consider doing. Especially not with an exhausted and stressed captain who's been overdoing the stimulants for months (and he may not have been the only one).
    • There are times when Crazy Enough to Work plans not only don't work, they get everyone killed for no purpose.
  • Redshirt Army: The group is called "Red Squad." They really should've seen it coming.
  • Repeat to Confirm: The Red Squad kids do this a lot, more so than more seasoned officers.
  • Rousing Speech: Watters makes one talking about how important their mission is and how they're Red Squad, and Red Squad can do anything. It backfires spectacularly.
    "This is the captain. We are about to engage the enemy. For eight months, I've told you to stay focused on one thing. Your duty. But now, I want you to step back from your duty. Take a look around. And I don't mean look at the walls. I want you to look at this moment in your life. Take it in. Appreciate the fact that you are on this ship, with this group of people, at this point in history. But understand one thing above all else. This moment will never come again. Hold on to it. Savor it for as long as you can. You're Starfleet, you're Red Squad, and you're the best. Now, let's get that battleship and we can all go home. Captain out."
  • Scifi Writers Have No Sense Of Scale: The cadets' original mission was supposedly to circumnavigate the entire Federation. Just getting from one end of it to the other in a straight line would take years. Circling the perimeter would take decades.
  • Sigil Spam: The Valiant, assigned to Red Squad, has the group's emblem all over the ship. It even has red trim along the walls that doesn't appear on the Defiant.
  • Sink the Lifeboats: The Jem'Hadar don't even spare the escape pods after the Valiant goes down for the count. Only one escape pod goes free, because it has main characters aboard.
  • Sole Survivor: Collins is the only member of the original Valiant crew to escape the ship before the Jem'Hadar destroy it.
  • Straw Civilian: In-Universe, Jake is viewed as one by the Red Squad cadets for not going along with the plan to attack the Jem'Hadar battleship. Watters, in particular, shows disdain for Jake not joining Starfleet like his father. Turns out that in this case, Strawman Has a Point. More so because Jake actually got to experience the actual horrors of war a season earlier.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: A charismatic cadet in command of an elite squad of cadets, who through his overconfidence gets people killed. Didn't we see this kind of guy expelled from Starfleet in Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 5 episode "The First Duty"? Or for that matter, wasn't a similar guy on Star Trek: Voyager? (Played by the same actor, Robert Duncan McNeill, no less.)note 
  • Tagalong Reporter: Jake, who initially tries to get the scoop on what Nog's "secret diplomatic mission" is about (in a really idiotic way). Watters initially wants him to sit back and watch Red Squad fulfill their destiny, at least until Jake tries to convince them that their attack plan is suicidal.
  • Tempting Fate: In one of his first meetings with Jake, Watters tells him that he's about to witness one of the biggest stories of the entire Dominion War. Which Jake does, just not in anything like the manner that Watters was hoping for.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Nog gives Jake one for thinking about his own survival instead of being willing to risk his life in battle against the Dominion battleship.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Valiant has been shot to hell, her shields are down, weapons disabled, power has failed, almost the entire crew is dead, and all of her systems are inoperative. For all intents and purposes the Jem'Hadar have rendered her a lifeless hulk in space. Yet they continue to pound away at her with torpedoes until every last nut and bolt still holding her together comes undone and she disappears into a rapidly-expanding ball of gas and fire. Then, just to Kick the Dog, they mercilessly gun down every escape pod they can see trying to flee from the disintegrating ship, with the escape pod containing Jake, Nog and Collins only getting away because it was apparently obscured by the explosion.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Watters. At no point does he consider that the intel they've gathered on the battleship, which was specified in their supposed orders, won't do Starfleet any good if they don't survive to bring it back.
    • Red Squad on the whole. A combination of inexperience, stress and misplaced bravado leads to a stupid plan that fails miserably.
  • Undying Loyalty: Collins has this for Watters, claiming that Red Squad failed him. It's not presented in a positive light.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: The plan that Red Squad discusses fails spectacularly.
  • The Worf Effect: The Defiant-class ship was specifically built to kick ass, and the USS Ben Sisko's Motherfucking Pimp Hand has consistently done so. This episode, however, proves that this breed of Pint-Sized Powerhouse is not, in fact, invincible. While its crew manages to take down a Jem'Hadar fighter with minimal damage, against the much larger battleship, they get obliterated in minutes.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Jake and Nog's original mission to Ferenginar, an important but far less dangerous mission that the Valiant could still carry out, is never mentioned after the first act.
  • You Are in Command Now: In a Call-Back to the talk with Chief O'Brien in "Behind the Lines", Nog receives command of the Valiant after Watters and Farris are killed. But by then, nearly the entire bridge crew is dead and the ship is about to be blown to hell, so all Nog can do is order the surviving crew to Abandon Ship.

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