“Defiant” is a rather satisfying episode. We return to galactic politics (a hallmark of the better DS9 episodes) and are reminded that just because the Dominion threat looms on the horizon, it doesn’t mean old players like the Maquis are out of business. As the Cardassians have become more fleshed out, we now realize that the Obsidian Order (the Cardassian intelligence service) is operating independently of the Central Command (the Cardassian military). Once again, we see that the Federation is most interested in stability, and Sisko is willing to work with Gul Dukat to destroy the Defiant (if necessary) to keep the peace. But when the opportunity to play the Central Command against the Obisidian Order presents itself, Sisko prefers to devise a political solution that gets his ship back intact.
The return of the Thomas Riker builds nicely on his introduction in TNG’s “Second Chances,” and the fact that the individual is Thomas (rather than William) is a nice, initial twist. Thomas’ desire to differentiate himself from his doppelganger makes his conversion to the Maquis plausible, and Kira’s assessment of him — that he remains more Starfleet than terrorist — is more plausible still.
The Cardassian plot Riker attempts to uncover sets up the future activities of the Obsidian Order (and Tal’Shiar) against the Dominion, which will be developed in “The Die is Cast.” And the battles in this episode finally illustrate the Defiant’s firepower; its engagements against the Jem’Hadar in “The Search,” by contrast, had been lack-luster at best.
- Remarkable quote: “Tough little ship.” (Thomas Riker)