Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Season 3 Episode 7

Civil Defense

Aired Weekdays 11:00 AM Nov 07, 1994 on Syndicado

Episode Fan Reviews (3)

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out of 10
166 votes
  • Cute little bottle show

    This cute bottle show is DS9's version of "Disaster" (TNG, fifth season), which is a fine idea since the original concept is solid and opens the door for both drama and comedy. (In fact, Voyager would do its own version of sorts with their penultimate third season episode, "Worst Case Scenario")

    "Civil Defense", with its standstill premise, is of course pure filler, but it's delightful nonetheless, using the regulars well and even finding a way to work Dukat and Garak into the story. In the A story, Kira, Dax, and Bashir are trapped in Ops before the Cardassians show up to steal the show. Meanwhile in the B story, the two Siskos and O'Brien are trapped below; the Commander and O'Brien are rarely paired, so it's fun to see them interact. The C story includes the tried and true combination of Odo and Quark, although calling it a "story" is a bit of an exaggeration, since not much of note happens.

    The episode progresses in an "out of the frying pan into the fire" sort of way, moving along swiftly at first before slowing down in the second half.

    There are no great visual effects or breakout character moments, but the old "people are trapped in a room" story has worked on television since the medium was invented, and this is no exception. These kind of episodes offer fans a chance to see familiar characters in unfamiliar situations, and pique the interest of causal TV viewers flipping through channels looking for something to watch. They're a great way to please fans while making new ones.
  • Well plotted and played for laughs.

    As the other reviewer mentions, this is of course a bit of a "Disaster" knock-off. (There would be a season 4 episode of DS9 with the same premise.) That said, I'd grade this one a notch higher - if only for the Dukat and Garak tandem.

    Every moment that those two spend on-screen - either alone or together - is pure gold. These really were the two best in a very strong cast of recurring characters, and here they get to strut their stuff. Dukat's facial expression when he is hoisted by his own petard is priceless. The rest of the crew, in their assorted predicaments, also provide some entertainment (particularly Quark and Odo), but this is really the Garak and Dukat show.
  • Civil Defense is by no means a stand out episode of the series, but it does entertain in a way that most episodes struggle to. Add to that some fantastic character interaction and great visual effects, and you have the perfect comic book episode.

    Season Three of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine goes a bit unrecognised in retrospectives of the series and its high and low points. Indeed, where it not for episodes such as Improbable Cause and The Die Is Cast, Season Three would be vitally overlooked.

    But the season is filled with many gems, and Civil Defense is one of them. From the start it feels like another boring filler episode, focusing more on the characters and their relationships rather than furthering the story along. Indeed, the featuring of Jake Sisko so prominently seems to spell disaster. But the episode quickly descends into some wonderful action segments.

    I can still recall my sheer enjoyment of this episode when it first aired. It reminded me heavily of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Disaster which I also enjoyed. And like that episode, it took familiar characters and placed them in unfamiliar circumstances and situations.

    Personally, the episode recieves its gold star purely on the basis of the interaction of Gul Dukat and Garak. The two characters have spent the best part of two season sparring with each other off screen and in barbed responses, but in Civil Defense, its all out war!

    I understand the danger of the episode descending into a retread of various past Star Trek episodes, but it works so well because it also adds an air of tension and danger. Okay, we know that the station is not going to blow up, our heroes will see to that. But the idea of DS9 itself still holding such secrets and dangers even though much of the crew had begun to see it as home is refreshing, although sadly premature considering the seasons to come.

    What the episode does really well is create various character pairings that we otherwise would not see. Sisko and O'Brien have had little screen time together, despite the fact that both characters share very similar experiences in both being Starfleet officers with families. O'Briens wife Keiko seems to have more quality moments with Sisko than he does.

    You also Major Kira, Dax and Bashir being trapped in an Ops that is becoming increasinly hostile to them. However, you also have the traditional pairing of Odo and Quark. In this case trapped in Odo's security office. It's a bit predictable, but when the results are this good why argue.

    Garak swaggering around the station is fun, at least until Dukay arrives in all his smug glory. I love how we see the old Dukat being played on the monitors in his overlord mode, while seeing the new Dukat playing with the DS9 crew.

    But the stand out, smile across you face moment has to be when Dukat attempts to beam out of Ops and discovers a failsafe against him in his own program. Marc Alaimo plays Dukat so well that he changes from his smug and superior self to the cowering and desperate figure he derided Garak and the crew for being.

    Despite appearing as a bottle show, the episode does throw an awful lot at the viewer and is as close as most Star Trek series have gotten to a roller coaster ride outside of their big screen adaptions. And the visual effects really stand out, even now a decade after the episode was made.

    Civil Defense is by no means the best episode in Deep Space Nine's long run, but it has enough entertainment and fun that it should appeal to almost everyone. A very fine episode.
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