Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Season 5 Episode 24

Empok Nor

Aired Weekdays 11:00 AM May 19, 1997 on Syndicado

Episode Fan Reviews (4)

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out of 10
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  • A Murder Mystery that's not a Mystery - but still good

    It's O'Brien and Garak in a murder mystery without the mystery. (Actually, it evolves into DS9s version of "The Most Dangerous Game"). This horror episode, pairing up the two characters for the first time, takes place on a mostly abandoned sister station, giving the episode and the show a new setting at no expense. (Here's a secret: the sets for the sister station are actually the regular DS9 sets with new lighting! Don't tell anyone). Star Trek, going back to "The Man Trap," has often struggled with horror stories, but director Mike Vejar is up to the task here, handling the timing with expertise. The episode builds its suspense nicely before delivering "jump" moments at just the right times. Meanwhile, having a sister station not only saves money but story time. There's no need to orient the viewer to the new setting. We know the Promenade is the Promenade and Ops is Ops.

    Is Empok Nor a Top Ten episode? Of course not. It's a low-budget filler episode that doesn't lend itself well to repeat viewings. (Nobody would argue that this is either the best O'Brien episode or the best Garak But does it succeed at what it sets out to do? Absolutely.
  • A taut, edgy thriller.

    Of the dozen or so thriller episodes featured on DS9, this may be the most claustrophobic and intense. Taking place on a dark, derelict station, several Starfleet officers including Nog and O'Brien are hunted by a series of psychopathic, murderous Cardassians. The twist, of course, is that one of those psychopaths is played by Andy Robinson's Garak.

    Now, this kind of story isn't anything new - it's been used in countless horror movies, and contains a lot of the same cliches. But because of the history of the characters, there's a depth here that lifts it beyond the genre of cheap scares. (Though there are some of these two - I was on the edge of my seat even after repeat viewings.) We know the Chief's history and we know Garak's history - and that makes for compelling TV. The obviously-soon-to-be-dead engineers are given enough depth that their deaths are genuinely unsettling rather than just routine.

    A classic episode.
  • One to watch.

    Lets face it Garak is one of the more interesting characters in the entire show. His detachment from the rest of the station crew and his problems with his own people make his personal problems seem galactic compared with the other cast. Here these dilemmas are brought to the fore w/o any self-influence. With the station needing a replacement part, Sisko orders OBrien to go to an abandoned Cardie Space station in a nearby sector. Unfortunately because of the Cardassians love of booby trapping these places, Garak is asked to accompany the engineering team, inc. Nog. On the trip there, Garak keeps digging at the Chiefs time as a solider and his heroic action during a battle with the Cardies. OBrien wanting to keep the peace lets its go.

    When they get their immediately, things go wrong as two Cardiassan elite soldiers awake from statis. Drugged with a substance that makes Cardarssians deranged and attack any non-Cardie they set about killing the engineering crew, but not before blowing up the shuttle.

    Now trapped the engineering crew is taken out in twos. I thought this was a bit of false storyline in that someone with the Chiefs experience would have setup a defensive position and then tried to get things done from there. Having Garak trapped within their position would have made for a hilarious set of scenes.

    However, the inevitable change from one set of opponents to another is what drives the story in this episode and works expectionally well. With Nog and OBrien the only ones left to take on Garak we know that Nog will get captured for the Chief to be the last to face the superior strength of the Caradassian.

    The ending is a little predictable, but not entirely and Garaks revelation at the end is a good ending imo.

    Definitely a top season episode.
  • The episode is memorable for one reason: Andrew Robinson's turn as a psychopathic killer.

    It's not O'Brien's lucky week. When something on DS9 breaks that can't be replaced, he (along with Nog, Garak and a half-dozen engineering and security personnel) goes to the station's "sister station", Empok Nor, long abandoned by the Cardassians. At first things go smoothly, but soon it's clear that there have been Cardassians left behind. This is when the episode begins to morph into a version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (which it pulls off actually quite effectively), but things change in a second when the crew realizes that Garak might be their real enemy.

    The episode does introduce the Empok Nor station, which the show would return to several more times. Also, it introduces the first racial slur in Star Trek history ("spoonheads" for Cardassians). Ultimately, though, this is an episode in which Robinson gets to reprise his psychotic killer persona from Dirty Harry, which he apparently was reluctant to do. Robinson makes for an electrifying and magnetic sociopath, totally unpredictable, that virtually every moment grabs your attention. This guy could have played a Hannibal Lecter so scary that Tony Hopkins would be under the covers. Robinson apparently didn't like this episode because he never wanted to be typecast as "crazy" types, however, it turns out to be memorable, but not in a permanent, character-altering way. Plus, I especially like O'Brien's final trick--he really is an engineer now, as he says.