It’s easy to see why. “To the Death” gives us a solid (if somewhat unbelievable) hook and then drops into it a mixed bag of characters completely uncomfortable together. That’s a setup common to many of Trek’s finer episodes. Ultimately this is less about a throwaway gimic (rogue Jem’Hadar have access to an interstellar gateway) and more about the Dominion’s many barely-subdued power struggles. A happy polygamous marriage between multiple species, this is not.
We open with DS9 being attacked. That’s interesting in and of itself, because we wonder why the Jem’Hadar would go after a corridor in one of the pylons, and not the center of the station, where they could kill all the executive staff, and set a self-destruct sequence. I guess that’d make for an anti-climatic series.
Captain Sisko and company tear off after the rogues and come across a Dominion vessel drifting in space. Luckily for them, they’ve just saved a group of warm-and-fuzzy Jem’Hadar soldiers–and the sleazy, used car salesman acting as their leader, an alien named Weyoun. Weyoun is a member of one of the Dominion’s specialist species, intended to be the nice guy bridging the gap between cultures, and if you believe that I’m sure he’d love it.
Weyoun, played by Jeffrey Combs, is a bright spot in this episode. He proposes a joint op to go after said rogue Hadar. The scenes that follow, between the bombing and the raid itself, are really the most enjoyable. They also illuminate the Dominion in ways we haven’t seen to this point, unless you count an earlier episode where Ben adopts a young Jem’Hadar, which was a little too overt for my taste. The Jem’Hadar warrior code of ethics gets a lot of attention. These are not nice guys, to say the least. Weyoun also has a secret for Odo, and that plot twist is shot well, acted well, and puts a lot on the table for us to mull over for later episodes.
At the end of it all, people are dead, and there is no ugly specter of mutually-achieved respect. Romulans trapped with our heros in a tight spot, these are not. In being true to who the Jem’Hadar are, “To the Death” notches just another reason it cuts better than DS9’s average knife.
Wife Says: (Did not watch this episode)
A young couple’s miracle at the last star left in the Universe will lead to a specter from the past returning to confront mankind…and the end will become the beginning. Try Part I of the Beacon Saga Serial, for your choice of ebook platforms.