293. Captive Pursuit
FORMULA: The Hunted + Darmok + Ethics
WHY WE LIKE IT: Tosk is a wonderful creation.
WHY WE DON'T: The firefight on the Promenade is a bit slow.
REVIEW: Our first visitor from the Gamma Quadrant is Tosk, which properly means "the Hunted", and though a bit of a slow talker, he looks great. That is one heavy-duty make-up job and Scott MacDonald gives the character his own way of moving, somehow feral (not to mention that high jump). And of course there's the culture centered around the Hunt which creates a Prime Directive snafu with O'Brien right in the middle of it.
And O'Brien excels here. His empathy toward Tosk and the daring escape he helps engineer are exciting and in parts touching. Sisko and Odo's slow reaction time is perfectly pitched, and while the Commander gives O'Brien a good, official tongue lashing at the end, it's not really about disobeying orders. He's letting O'Brien know that he's ready to bend the rules WITH him, he just wants to be informed the next time.
The creators make a valiant attempt to render the Gamma Quadrant as alien, with different-looking technologies (the red-light district under Tosk's ship, the transporter effects, their bright sensor beam, etc.) and of course, the featured culture. We seldom see aliens with helmets, so that was neat too (even spawned a joke from O'Brien), but that whole firefight when they first come aboard wasn't as exciting as it could have been. Rather static staging.
Good character bits to look out for include O'Brien's angry Irishman routine when Quark dares mention Keiko's unhappiness, the whole "barkeep" business, and Miles not allowing Bashir to stomp all over HIS episode by cutting him off at the pass. Quark's sexually-loaded contracts with his Dabo girls is slightly amusing, but doesn't pay off.
LESSON: Always read the fine print. Even if it's in Ferengi. No, ESPECIALLY if it's in Ferengi.
REWATCHABILITY - High: A well realized alien race and a story that manages to be sweet and touching? I'm game. And O'Brien is the perfect character to star in it too.