The Good: Mood, Character moments, Acting, Effects
The Bad: A little light on plot surprises
The Basics: When the Jem’Hadar attack the StarFleet outpost at AR-558, Sisko and his officers must stay to hold the line.
One of the dangers in having a long-running television show is that, as your series progresses, there is the danger that you might repeat elements that you have already created in prior episodes. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, a series embroiled in one war after another after a point, worked hard not to offer too much repetition. So, by the time the show got to the seventh season episode “The Siege Of AR-558,” the writers and producers had some pretty firm ideas on how to prevent the episode from going where prior episodes had been.
Knowing that they wanted to do a gritty war story with “The Siege Of AR-558,” the producers were in danger of treading close to where they went with “. . . Nor Battle To The Strong” (reviewed here!) and “The Ship” (reviewed here!). To avoid replicating elements of “. . .Nor Battle To The Strong,” the writers and producers rightly left Jake Sisko (the subject of that episode) out of “The Siege Of AR-558.” Fortunately, with the death of Jadzia and Worf and O’Brien remaining with the Defiant, similarities to “The Ship” were pretty much eliminated. By shaking up the cast, “The Siege Of AR-558” actually comes across as a dramatically fresh episode, even if its mood and theme are somewhat oppressive.
With the casualties mounting for the Federation and Klingons in the Dominion War, Captain Sisko and the Defiant are sent to the Chin’toka System to resupply the outpost at AR-558. A vital foothold in Dominion territory, the collapse of AR-558 would mean the Federation and its allies would lose its only inroads in the war. Sisko, Nog, Bashir, Dax and Quark – who is along as a factfinder for the Grand Nagus – find the outpost in dire straits. While the Defiant is forced to engage the Jem’Hadar in space and draw the Dominion forces away from the planet, the Away Team struggles to relate to the soldiers on the front lines, most of whom have watched everyone they care about die.
Ezri befriends a young engineer, while Nog finds himself impressed by Reese, a battle-hardened veteran who has killed many Jem’Hadar. With Jem’Hadar forces landed on AR-558, the group prepares for an all-out assault. But before the attack can come, Sisko orders Nog to participate in a scouting mission, an act that will profoundly change Nog’s life. With the compound swarming with cloaked antigravity mines and an advancing Jem’Hadar force, AR-558 is poised to fall!
“The Siege Of AR-558” is a dark episode, both thematically and physically. The characters all seem to get scarred in “The Siege Of AR-558,” save Bashir, who has been through similar events as this siege before. But Dax is deeply unsettled, Nog has permanent injuries and Sisko actually sees firsthand what his offensive against the Dominion has wrought. And while most are quick to write-off Quark, “The Siege Of AR-558” marks only the second time in the entire series that he shoots to kill. With the StarFleet facility overrun, Quark must defend Nog and that he is once again willing to defy the expectations of what viewers think they know about Ferengi is nice.
“The Siege Of AR-558” is frequently noted for the guest starring appearance by Bill Mumy, but Patrick Kilpatrick’s role of Reese is much more memorable. Reese is a badass and he skulks around the compound with Ketracel White tubes around his neck. Klingons have been seen with Cardassian neck bones, Reese has the Ketracel White from the Jem’Hadar he has killed and the messages are clear. War is hell and it changes the nature of the people in it. Reese is not the evolved Federation human we have come to expect all our officers to be. His very presence inspires and unsettles Nog.
What works especially well in “The Siege Of AR-558” is the character of Ezri. Paired with a naïve engineer, Ezri quickly discovers that her lighthearted, fun attitude is not going to help anyone and she takes on a decidedly more serious demeanor. This gives Nicole de Boer an opportunity to differentiate Ezri from the trickster-like Jadzia. Despite the character’s problems with assimilating the Symbiont, Ezri is actually very serious and professional. “The Siege Of AR-558” gives de Boer a chance to show that side of the character and she presents it very well.
While Aron Eisenberg has decent character moments as Nog in “The Siege Of AR-558,” his acting is limited after a point and Alexander Siddig and Armin Shimerman do more of the heavy lifting. Shimerman manages to give Quark a significant character moment without simply repeating his performance from “Sacrifice Of Angels” (reviewed here!). “The Siege Of AR-558” is a decent ensemble piece and when Quark and Sisko go toe to toe about how the Captain orders Nog into dangerous situations, it provides Sisko, Quark and Nog with some well-presented character moments!
“The Siege Of AR-558” is an appropriately dark war story and it does not shy away from a sense of carnage that is appropriately disturbing. That might make it more intense than some fans are looking for, but makes for a pretty solid hour of television!
[Knowing that the season is a much better investment, it's worth looking into Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Complete Seventh Season on DVD, which provides the full story for the conclusion to the series. Read my review of the final season by clicking here!
For other Star Trek episode reviews, be sure to visit my Index Page on the subject for a full list!
© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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