Star Trek 425: Honor Among Thieves

425. Honor Among Thieves

FORMULA: Business as Usual + Hard Time + A Simple Investigation + Gambit

WHY WE LIKE IT: The O'Brien-Bilby relationship.

WHY WE DON'T: Starfleet Intelligence's operative lottery.

REVIEW: DS9 does an episode of Wiseguy, and the results are very good, I have to say the premise needs to get itself examined. It's always a bit of a leap when a character is made to leave his or her position to go undercover in somebody else's story. This time, it's O'Brien who couldn't have less to do with Starfleet Intelligence, but I suppose it works BECAUSE he doesn't have a duplicitous bone in his body. It's that honesty that gets him in with criminal underboss Bilby.

Bilby is a well-drawn character, at once dangerous and personable. Probably like many in his world, he's doing what he must to survive, and while some of that is amoral or illegal, it doesn't make him a bad guy necessarily. He loves his family and his pet, he's capable of loyalty, camaraderie and friendship. He has genuine feelings for "Connelly", in the end, bravely meets his fate, sacrificing himself for his family's safety. He's also a pathetic figure who believes he has talents he is actually lacking, such as being able to read people. Not only does he have a spy in his midst, but one of his men steals from him and an arms smuggler screws him over.

O'Brien is once again forced to sell a friend down the river, all part of his torture at writers' hands. It's that old undercover chestnut of befriending someone in organized crime and getting too close. As Connelly, O'Brien even helps rob the Bank of Bolius and has fun doing it! Clearly, he's losing sight of his priorities as usually happens in this type of story. Once he's "made" by Bilby, it's bound to end in tragedy, and O'Brien comes out of it with Bilby's cat Chester (which stays with the family through the end of the series) and probably more than a few nightmares.

The Orion Syndicate is given a little more meat in Honor Among Thieves, though it's not all that different from other crime families. Farius Prime looks really cool here, though Bilby's bar lacks atmosphere. The overall DS9 story is advanced by making the Syndicate be in cahoots with the Dominion, here in a plot to create instability in the Klingon Empire (ingenious).

LESSON: Morn and now Bilby's team... Don't put your money at the Bank of Bolius.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium-High: The premise is a little dodgy, but the result is not. A heartfelt O'Brien episode populated with memorable characters.

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