Star Trek 381: To the Death

381. To the Death

FORMULA: Contagion + Return to Grace + Hippocratic Oath + Blood Oath

WHY WE LIKE IT: Weyoun!

WHY WE DON'T: Weyoun gets killed!

REVIEW: Though To the Death adds a lot of depth to the Jem'Hadar without making them "weaker", it is best remembered for its creation of Weyoun. Up to now, the Vorta have been largely uninteresting. Impatient, dismissive schemers at best. Geoffrey Combs makes his Vorta so good, Weyoun becomes THE Vorta. So much so they'll have to bring him back despite his onscreen death here. I've been thinking about it and I think what sets Weyoun apart is his humility. He is totally ready to defer to Odo or Sisko if it suits his purpose, while schemers in the past have largely been gloating or superior egotists (the Cardassians and Romulans especially). He's at once a manipulator and a toad, and we love him for it.

The Jem'Hadar are presented as all-or-nothing soldiers, with staunch loyalty to the Founders and well-practiced rituals. There gladiator-like oath (hilariously boring to Weyoun) speaks volumes about their psychology: They go into battle thinking they are dead and merely trying to reclaim their lives. There are a number of interesting scenes on the way to the joint mission. Dax comparing her age to a Jem'Hadar is both instructive and amusing, but the best moment is when Worf and the Second get disciplined quite differently. Though we of course side with Sisko on this point, Omet'iklan gets a lot of regret for the situation (if not his action) across with his eyes.

The cast isn't ignored in favor of the villains (well, uneasy allies) either. Bashir teasing Worf about his favorite seat, Worf assuring Sisko he would be avenged if killed, Odo barely controlling his anger as Weyoun sweet talks him, O'Brien's send-up of the Jem'Hadar oath, Dax's bond with a Jemmie, and of course, the messages Dax and O'Brien leave for their families... It's all very well done.

In fact, it's the mission itself that's largely irrelevant. Sure, it's fun to bring back the Iconian gateways from Contagion, a destroyed pylon is more shocking somehow than seeing the entire station blow up (which you know would be undone), and there's enough action to go around in the finale as the Jem'Hadar learn to respect Starfleet a little more, but all of that takes second seat to the character development. Which isn't a bad thing.

LESSON: If Worf is territorial about a chair, imagine how he feels about Jem'Hadar walking around on his ship.

REWATCHABILITY - High: Part of the Dominion ramp up to the end of the season, To the Death adds depth to the Jem'Hadar, but also gives us a wonderful creation in Weyoun.

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