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DS9 1-06

DS9 1x06
"Captive Pursuit"

Original airdate: 1/31/1993
Rewatch date: 5/31/2013

Tosk, the first visitor from the Gamma Quadrant, emerges from the wormhole, but unbeknownst to Deep Space Nine, he is being pursued by aliens who are hunting him for sport.

Spoiler-free notes:

It's about time something came through the wormhole from the Gamma Quadrant. I was beginning to worry that the writers had forgotten about it.

Good make-up work on Tosk.

The fully uniformed Hunters look cheesy as Hell, like something out of Buck Rogers.

A thread running through these first few episodes seems to be how each character acclimates to their new surroundings. In "Emissary," Sisko finds a reason to stay. In "Past Prologue," Kira learns how to weigh her loyalty to her former comrades against her loyalty to her people and to Sisko. In "A Man Alone," Odo struggles to accept that he has to work under a new definition of justice instead of making his own. Here, O'Brien learns to let go of the moral inflexibility he is used to from the Enterprise and realizes that, on Deep Space Nine, he has the freedom to bend the rules a little.

This is an excellent early episode that puts a unique spin on familiar Star Trek tropes. TOS introduces the Prime Directive, which TNG elaborates on in several episodes to explore the moral conundrums non-interference can cause (especially notable in "Half a Life" and "The Outcast"). In this episode, however--in which first contact is made with a species from the Gamma Quadrant that actually places "the most dangerous game" on a high cultural pedestal--the big turning point is O'Brien's revelation that he can break the Prime Directive in order to preserve the spirit of non-interference. It's the kind of thing Captain Picard would never have tolerated.

Spoiler section:

Though we never see the Tosk or Hunters again, they prepare us for what kind of aliens to expect from the Gamma Quadrant. A species genetically engineered to be hunted for sport isn't too far removed from the Jem'Hadar, a species genetically engineered to make war.

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