Overall, this is a low-budget episode, shot entirely on the station with only Gul Dukat as a guest star. The situation with the computer program is initially amusing, becomes somewhat tense, and ultimately becomes annoying. The best part is when Dukat beams aboard Ops to taunt Kira and the others, only to fall victim himself when he tries to beam away, making the computer think he’s abandoned his post and triggering a recorded dressing down from his superior.
Given the dozen or so recordings encountered prior to that point, Gul Dukat must have spent months recording messages for every eventuality! (It’s probably too obscure a reference, but I’m reminded of the old “Saturday Night Live” sketch where Dana Carvey plays TV-anchor Tom Brokaw who is pre-taping broadcasts for every potential scenario, “Tragedy today, as former President Gerald Ford was eaten by wolves.”)
The episode follows three groups: (1) Sisko, O’Brien, and Jake below decks, (2) Kira, Dax, Dr. Bashir, and ultimately Garak and Dukat in Ops, and (3) Odo and Quark in Security. Considering how little is happening with the first two groups, it’s noteworthy to mention that even less is happening for Odo and Quark. They literally have nothing to do and do nothing the entire episode.
For all these shortcomings, the episode fails to be really bad; it just never gets very good.
- Nitpicking: Remarkably, when Sisko orders the station evacuation, he has Kira direct everyone to the runabouts and the Defiant and Jake argues that he should come along with his father and O’Brien because they’re too far away. However, it should be obvious that the station’s population can’t be crowded into 4 small vessels, and most everyone would evacuate on its Cardassian lifeboats and Starfleet ASRV escape pods.
- Remarkable quote: “Garak — groveling in a corner — that alone makes my trip worthwhile.” (Dukat)