Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Season 4 Episode 23

To the Death

Aired Weekdays 11:00 AM May 13, 1996 on Syndicado
out of 10
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Episode Summary


Stardate: 49904.2

The future of peace at stake when a band of renegade Jem'Hadar discovers an ancient Iconian Gateway, which can enable them to launch attacks anywhere in the galaxy. In order to stop them, the crew of the Defiant must team up with a band of Jem'Hadar still loyal to the Founders. However, working together may prove more difficult than imagined.


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  • Great primer for future of series

    This ensemble piece follows the tried but true mantra that it's easier to get to know your enemy by working with them than against them. Here, we get a road trip with the servants of the Dominion, with most of the episode taking place on the Defiant, giving us ample opportunity to compare and contrast Starfleet and the Jem'Hadar. (Mess up with the Jem'Hadar, and they kill you. Mess up with Starfleet, and you get sent to your room). But what really drives the story and makes it work are the small character moments that develop organically from opposite sides working together (which, ironically, was supposed to be the premise of Voyager). It gives the regulars and the guest stars alike a chance to have some fun with their parts.

    "To the Death" also proves the perfect opportunity to reintroduce the Vorta -- this time with Jeffrey Combs (Weyoun) ensuring it's done right. Combs isn't perfect (yet). He plays the race a little too tentatively; but he's much better than Molly Hagan ("The Jem'Hadar") or even Dennis Christopher ("The Search, Part II") and provides a strong foundation for the future of the race.

    All together, the episode serves as a great primer for the major story arc to come in future seasons.moreless
  • The DS9 crew and the Dominion join forces in order to stop a band of rogue Jem'Hadar.

    This was an interesting episode for several reasons. The first is the inevitable tension between the Jem'Hadar and the DS9 crew, which manifests itself in lots of dirty looks and occasional eruptions of violence.

    The second is the tension between Weyoun and the Jem'Hadar. Up until this point we'd assumed that the Dominion was a well-oiled machine -- the Founders in charge, the Vorta as their pleasant-faced ambassadors, and the Jem'Hadar as their deadly shock troops. Here we learn that the Vorta are essentially the Jem'Hadar's managers, and that neither species particularly cares for the other.

    This was the first episode to really explore both of these races. The Vorta had appeared in a few earlier episodes ("The Jem'Hadar", "The Search") but their role was never fully explained. Weyoun (in his first appearance in the series) fleshes out exactly what kind of people they are. He's charming and obsequious, well-suited to convincing others; his problem is that neither Sisko or Odo are amenable to persuasion. Jeffrey Combs did a great job with the character. His other recurring character on the show, the Ferengi auditor Brunt, was an intentionally annoying one-dimensional character; Weyoun, on the other hand, is much more interesting.

    As for the Jem'Hadar, we learned something about them in the episodes "The Abandoned" and "Hippocratic Oath". I think it's interesting that despite sharing a similar premise to the Borg -- a nearly unstoppable foe, working for their masters without question -- they developed in a totally different direction. They seem to have individual personalities, which comes out in this episode. But they are nevertheless killing machines without the sentimentality that Klingons attach to "glorious battle".

    The battle near the end of the episode was somewhat anticlimactic. It wasn't bad, but nothing distinguishes it from other similar battles in other ST episodes. The Iconian Gateway doesn't play much of a role beyond its usefulness as a plot device.moreless
  • A little introduction to the Jem'hadar and Vorta and what's to come.

    A little introduction to what is to come, the Dominion and the Federation working together, but only for one episode. We get to learn more about the Jem'hadar and the Vorta. It's the first appearance of Weyoun. Though I've found Vorta interesting ever since I first saw Eris and Borath, Weyoun was one of my favorite characters on Deep Space Nine, besides Garak, even though I really loved almost all of the main cast, more or less. For a recurring character, Weyouns probably scored a record in dying on the show, but they were one of the most interesting characters in Star Trek. All in all, a good insightful, interesting episode.moreless
Armin Shimerman

Armin Shimerman


Terry Farrell

Terry Farrell

Lt./Lt. Commander Jadzia Dax (Season 1-6)

Michael Dorn

Michael Dorn

Lt. Commander Worf (Season 4-7)

Rene Auberjonois

Rene Auberjonois

Constable Odo

Nana Visitor

Nana Visitor

Major/Colonel/Commander Kira Nerys

Avery Brooks

Avery Brooks

Commander/Captain Benjamin Sisko

Brian Thompson

Brian Thompson


Guest Star

Scott Haven

Scott Haven


Guest Star

Clarence Williams III

Clarence Williams III


Guest Star

Jeffrey Combs

Jeffrey Combs


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (5)

    • We learn several facts about the Jem'Hadar in this episode:
      1) The Jem'Hadar do not eat or sleep. Their only need is ketracel-white.
      2) There are no female Jem'Hadar. They are instead bred in birthing chamber and can fight within three days of their emergence.
      3) Though the Jem'Hadar look like fully-grown adults, they are often only a few years old. Those that live to be twenty are considered "Honored Elders".

    • Nitpick: In this episode, Worf mentions that he was on the mission which discovered Iconia, in The Next Generation episode "Contagion". However, O'Brien seems to have no knowledge of those events, although he was also in that episode.

    • Nitpick: Pretty handy that Weyoun, on a ship about to blow up and transported unexpectedly onto the Defiant, happened to have the Ketracel White box in hand!

    • Goof: When Sisko is in the turbolift on the Defiant, he calls for deck 5. The Defiant only has 4 decks.

    • Nitpick: After arriving at the station, Kira informed Sisko and Dax about the Jem'Hadar attack. But a few minutes later, Worf makes mention of it. He wasn't there. Sisko, Dax and Odo were all standing there, they all ready knew. How did Worf find out so quickly? And if he just found out why would he announce it to people who already knew? For O'Brien's benefit?

  • QUOTES (13)

    • Dax: How old are you?
      Virak'kara: I am eight.
      Dax: I would have guessed at least fifteen.
      Virak'kara: Few Jem'Hadar live that long. If we reach twenty, we are considered Honored Elders... how old are you?
      Dax: I stopped counting at three hundred.
      Virak'kara: (stunned) You don't look it.
      Dax: Thank you.

    • Weyoun: Omet'iklan, control your men. These people saved our lives.
      Omet'iklan: And for that we shall take advantage of their mistake.

    • Odo: (when a Jem'Hadar makes a pointed comment to Odo) Are you accusing me of something?

    • Sisko: I'm holding you personally responsible for the actions of your men. If I have a problem with them, you're the one who's going to have to answer for it.
      Omet'iklan: That's as it should be. After all, I'm the First.
      Sisko: As far as I'm concerned, on this mission, I'm the First!

    • Sisko: (referring to the renegade Jem'Hadar) Couldn't the Founders just order them to surrender? From what I know, the Jem'Hadar have been genetically engineered to obey them!
      Weyoun: The Founders' ability to control them has been... overstated. Otherwise we never would have had to addict them to the White.

    • Sisko: I've found that nothing keeps me alert quite like a healthy fear of death.

    • Weyoun: First Omet'iklan, can you vouch for the loyalty of your men?
      Omet'iklan: We pledge our loyalty to the Founders, from now until death.
      Weyoun: Then receive this reward from the Founders. May it keep you strong.

    • Sisko: A dead man can't learn from his mistakes.

    • Worf: It has come to my attention that Omet'iklan has made a threat against your life.
      Sisko: I didn't think it was public knowledge.
      Worf: You told Commander Dax.
      Sisko: Well, that explains it.

    • Omet'iklan: (addressing his warriors) I am First Omet'iklan. And I am dead. As of this moment we are all dead. We go into battle to reclaim our lives. This we do gladly, for we are Jem'Hadar. Remember... victory is life. 
      O'Brien: (O'Brien turns to his team) I am Miles Edward O'Brien. I am very much alive and I intend to stay that way.

    • Sisko: (talking about the Jem'Hadar) There'll be a joint briefing session at 1900 hours.
      O'Brien: Followed by a get-to-know-you buffet at 1930.

    • Worf: Now, we consideer Klingon women are our partners in battle. They are the mothers of our children...
      Jadzia: And a lot of fun at parties, too.
      Worf: True.

    • Jadzia: (talking about Jem'Hadar) So let me get this straight... no food, no sleep, no women. No wonder you're so angry.

  • NOTES (5)

    • According to the script, Weyoun taps Odo during their private conversation and infects him with the virus that manifests itself in "Broken Link". However, because of the angles used, it is not visible.

    • Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko) does not appear in this episode.

    • The Iconian gateways made their first appearance in The Next Generation. The second season episode "Contagion" revolved around the discovery of Iconian technology by the Federation and the Romulans. Captain Picard chose to destroy the gateway rather than risk the advanced technology falling into enemy hands.

    • This episode marks the first appearance of the Vorta, Weyoun (played by Jeffrey Combs). As Weyoun is killed at the close of the episode, it would seem to also be his last appearance on the series. However, clones of Weyoun appear in numerous later episodes. Combs plays multiple other characters throughout the Star Trek Universe (including on Deep Space Nine).

    • Due to violence, a significant amount of material was cut from the fight scenes filmed for this episode. In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion by Terry J. Erdmann (p. 348), stunt coordinator Dennis Madalone complains that: "This episode should have been the biggest action show ever", and says that 52 Jem'Hadar bit the dust in the original version, but 32 of those deaths were removed by the censors.


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