(written from a Production point of view)
With the Dominion on track to winning the war against the Federation, Sisko and his crew take a captured Jem'Hadar ship into enemy territory with a mission to cut off the Jem'Hadar's supply of ketracel-white in the Alpha Quadrant. (Season premiere)
A battered Federation and Klingon fleet move through space, attesting to the fact the war is not going well. Three months have passed since the Dominion occupied Deep Space 9 and hostilities began. The USS Defiant has been on the run from the Jem'Hadar for 78 hours. Everyone on board is tense and exhausted. On the Defiant's bridge, Nog gets anxious that news of the Seventh Fleet's counter-assault has not arrived, while Chief Miles O'Brien is sick and tired of running from the Dominion. In the medical supply room, Doctor Julian Bashir is treating Elim Garak for a small head wound. Bashir estimates their chances of survival at 32.7%. Garak is not impressed with Bashir's calculations, notwithstanding Bashir's recently revealed genetic enhancements.
The Defiant and Klingon General Martok's IKS Rotarran rendezvous and Worf and Jadzia Dax are reunited in the Defiant's mess hall. After a joyous hello, Worf reveals that he is upset that Dax has scheduled the ritual sacrifice of the targ to occur after their wedding feast. Dax gives in, saying, "first we'll shed blood, and then we'll feast." When Martok points out that Worf wasn't talking about anything else in days, Dax puns, "He's such a worrier.". As Worf and Dax leave, Captain Benjamin Sisko suggests that they not break any bones, to which Dax only responds with the crossing of her fingers. Bashir enters and says they've been ordered to Starbase 375, and he has word of the Seventh Fleet's engagement in the Tyra system: out of 112 ships, only fourteen ships have returned. "We can't keep taking these kinds of losses sir, not if we expect to win this!" Bashir exclaims to Sisko. Sisko quietly thanks the doctor and tells him that will be all. After Bashir leaves with Martok to treat his arm, an angry Sisko slams his fist on a tabletop, breaking the glass.
On Deep Space 9, now renamed Terok Nor, Gul Dukat narrates a log entry, quite pleased with how the war is going. Reports of victories arrive daily and with the enemy retreating on nearly every front, "it is a good time for Cardassia… and the Dominion." Weyoun is happy that life seems to be returning to normal on the station. Kira wants Bajoran security returned to the station, but Dukat is concerned about the implications of allowing armed Bajorans on board. Weyoun is disturbed by the way Dukat seems to be undermining the Dominion's position because of his antipathy towards the Bajorans, but lets the matter rest for the moment. After Kira leaves, Weyoun demands Damar leave and then, to Dukat, to be included in all decisions on station policy henceforth. Further, Weyoun is impatient with Dukat's slow progress on clearing the minefield that is blocking the wormhole, preventing Dominion reinforcements from getting through from the Gamma Quadrant. Dukat complains that destroying these self-replicating mines is difficult because when they attempt to destroy one, its neighbor replicates another, but assures Weyoun that he will eventually get it done.
In Quark's, business is looking up again; Cardassians ring the gaming tables, though Quark also has to contend with several tables of Jem'Hadar, who do not eat, drink, or relax, but just sit, looking baleful. At the bar, Quark gives Kira a complimentary drink as she and Odo are discussing the Occupation. Quark says that as occupations go, this one's not so bad. Kira acidly says that must be true for someone concerned solely with profit and monthly balance sheets, but Quark reminds her that all three of them have vivid memories of the horrible conditions for Bajorans on the station during the last occupation, none of which are present this time. Quark admits that he wants the Federation back as much as they do, but encourages them to keep in mind that "things could be a lot worse." Odo reluctantly agrees and that the Dominion is (for the moment) treating Bajor as a friend. Kira asks, if that's true, why are there no Bajoran security officers on the station?
After the Defiant's arrival at Starbase 375, Admiral William Ross surprises Sisko by informing him he has a new office on the starbase and he is relieving him of command of the Defiant. Ross tells Sisko that he'll be informed of his new assignment later.
While waiting, Sisko contacts his father Joseph in New Orleans, Earth. His father is very upset that his grandson Jake is still on Deep Space 9, and a heated argument arises. Sisko says that staying behind was Jake's choice, but the elder Sisko doesn't care about this. Benjamin promises his father that he'll get Jake back soon. Joseph then asks if things are as bad as the news services say. Sisko says they're worse. Joseph wonders how, if space is so infinite and vast why people can't just leave each other alone. Sisko admits that it should work that way but it just doesn't. Joseph needs to get back to his customers, but begs his son to get Jake back and the two convey their love for the other.
Meanwhile on Terok Nor, Jake wants an interview with Weyoun, but learns that Weyoun has been censoring his Federation News Service articles by blocking Jake's transmissions. Weyoun explains that he thinks Jake's reporting is biased against the Dominion, using words like "occupying force". Jake objects, but Weyoun refuses the interview for now. However, he invites Jake to keep writing with the bias in mind, and he will continue to read his articles and consider allowing his transmissions to go through.
Back at Starbase 375, Ross reveals Sisko's and the Defiant crew's new assignment. They're to destroy the Dominion's main ketracel-white storage depot in the Alpha Quadrant, located deep in Dominion territory. Instead of the Defiant, they're to use the Jem'Hadar attack ship Sisko captured last year to infiltrate Dominion space. "Do you even know how to fly that thing?" Bashir asks Sisko. The captain responds, "Not yet – but I intend to learn."
Two weeks later, while on board preparing for departure, the crew starts to complain about the "design flaws" of the Jem'Hadar ship: no chairs, no food replicators, no viewscreen on the bridge, and no infirmary. Garak joins the crew at Sisko's invitation, as his knowledge of Cardassian space and Cardassian contacts may be useful. They are cleared to leave, and Sisko, putting on the virtual sensory display, orders the ship to be taken out and to head for the Cardassian border at warp six.
On Terok Nor, Dukat is ensconced in Captain Sisko's office and is amusing himself by playing with Sisko's baseball. Dukat wants to spend more time with Kira, so calls for her, noting their only interactions have been for station business. Kira is disgusted by Dukat, and tries to leave, but Dukat pulls rank. When asked, she says he betrayed everyone, including his own people by joining the Dominion. He tries to convince her of the dire situation he was faced with, saying Cardassia was a third-rate power. He says he's getting the Alpha Quadrant in return for the high price he's paid, but Kira is skeptical that will happen. Dukat says he's patient with her, and clearly expects an intimate relationship at some point. She soon slaps his hand away when he reaches for her face. Then, he lets her leave and spins Sisko's baseball on the desk.
Sisko's Jem'Hadar ship, en route to Dominion space, Sisko is having trouble with the headset. Garak offers to wear the other one, as he noticed Dukat wearing one earlier, so that they can share the burden. Soon, the ship is discovered by the USS Centaur captained by Charlie Reynolds, an officer Sisko is acquainted with. Just as they are about to cross the Cardassian border, the Centaur fires on them.
With the communication system down, Sisko orders Dax to make a run for the border. However, the Centaur is still on them, damaging a guidance thruster. Sisko orders Dax to fire back, targeting the Centaur's weapons array only. Luckily, three Jem'Hadar ships enter the fray and the Centaur warps away. Oddly, they don't acknowledge them, so they continue on.
In order to return Bajoran security to the station, Kira urges Odo to take advantage of his god status as a Changeling with Weyoun. Odo is very uncomfortable with this, but reluctantly agrees. When Odo presents his demand to Weyoun, he immediately agrees: "Consider it done." Dukat objects, but Weyoun tells Dukat to keep out of it. It is strictly between Weyoun and Odo. But Weyoun asks Odo for a favor in return: he asks Odo to sit on the station's Ruling Council, along with Weyoun and Dukat. When Odo tells Kira about Weyoun's request, she is concerned that Weyoun may be using Odo to validate the Dominion's occupation. Odo says he thought that we were using them, and besides, he has walked this fine line before. Kira remains uneasy.
Meanwhile, Sisko's Jem'Hadar ship arrives at the ketracel-white storage facility, which is built into a small asteroid. After they observe another ship go through the exchange process, Garak requests 84 canisters of ketracel-white. O'Brien says he has 83 empty canisters standing by, and one not-so-empty one which is filled with ninety isotons of enriched ultritium. This should be enough to take out the whole storage facility. Sisko's ship moves inside into the depot's security zone. O'Brien sets the detonator for three minutes. After the exchange of (mostly) empty canisters for canisters full of white takes place, Garak asks the facility for clearance to leave. Instead, the facility raises their security net, trapping Sisko's ship inside, while the bomb is still ticking.
The facility orders Sisko's ship to stand by. The crew concludes that if they stay inside the net the bomb will destroy the ship along with the depot. The explosion will also take out the security net. But if they attempt to escape too early, they'll smash into the inside of the security net before it comes down. Dax and Bashir calculate that if the ship goes to impulse exactly 1.3 seconds before the bomb detonates, they will avoid both the explosion and the security net. Dax programs this into the computer and hands the piloting controls over to it.
But the bomb goes off early. Dax takes back helm control and gets the ship out of there. The Jem'Hadar ship barely makes it out, the huge explosion chasing at its tail. But they survive, and the plan worked. The ship suffered heavy damage, however. The core matrix is fried and there is no warp drive. Bashir informs everyone that the closest Federation starbase is "seventeen years, two months, and three days away – give or take an hour." Sisko's crippled Jem'Hadar attack ship, now without warp capacity, starts the long journey back.
"What about freedom of the press?"
"Please tell me you're not that naïve."
- - Jake Sisko and Weyoun
"My dear Major Kira, you have no idea how it pleases me to hear you say that. (Dukat and Damar enter) Dukat, the Major has just given me the most wonderful news. Bajorans are returning to the station."
"I'm well aware of that."
"Then I'm sure you share my delight in knowing that life here is returning to normal. The shops are reopening, the Promenade is abuzz with activity once again, the habitat ring echoes with the laughter of happy children!"
"I've doubled security patrols throughout the station."
- - Weyoun, Dukat, and Damar
"You enjoy that, don't you? That constant reminder that you're their master."
"The Founders are the masters, I am merely their servant. As are the Jem'Hadar. And you."
"That may be, but even amongst servants, someone has to be in charge, hm?"
(chuckle) "That is exactly the kind of observation I've come to expect from you, Dukat. Interesting, yet somewhat… petty."
- - Dukat and Weyoun
"How do I explain that I evacuated every Federation citizen off Deep Space 9, except his grandson?"
"You'll figure something out."
- - Benjamin Sisko and Jadzia Dax
"I'm sure my head will heal but the way this war is going, I wouldn't bet on any of us living to a ripe, old age."
- - Garak
"What is it, Worf? What's wrong?"
"It is about our wedding."
"You're getting cold feet?"
"You have scheduled the ritual sacrifice of the targ to occur after the wedding feast has been served."
"We haven't seen each other in five weeks, and that's the first thing you say to me?"
"We agreed it would be a traditional ceremony."
(Sighs) "Okay, have it your way. First we'll shed blood, then we'll feast."
"As it should be."
- - Jadzia and Worf
"We've received word of the Seventh Fleet."
"Only fourteen ships made it back to our lines."
"Fourteen… out of a hundred and twelve!"
"We can't afford to take these kinds of losses, sir, not if we expect to win this!!"
- - Julian Bashir, Benjamin Sisko, and Martok
"You're not genetically engineered… you're a Vulcan!"
- - Elim Garak, to Julian Bashir
"Permanent documentation file, Dukat, S.G. Each day brings reports of new victories. The war continues to go well. The enemy is retreating on almost all fronts. It's only a matter of time before the Federation collapses and Earth becomes another conquered planet under Dominion rule. All in all, it's a good time for Cardassia…and the Dominion."
- - Dukat
"I never expected to say this, but as occupations go, this one's not so bad."
"No, I suppose that's true if all you're worried about is a monthly balance sheet."
"I'm not just concerned with profit, Major. Look around. Do you see any ghetto fences dividing the Promenade? Or exhausted Bajoran slave laborers sprawled on the ground after a grueling day in the ore processing center? Do you hear the cries of starving children? I don't. Now don't get me wrong, I miss the Federation, too. All I'm saying is, things could be a lot worse."
- - Quark and Major Kira
"You know, there's something I just don't understand. You're always telling me that space is big, that it's an endless frontier, filled with infinite wonders."
"If that's the case, you would think there'd be more than enough room to allow people to leave each other alone."
"It just doesn't work that way… It should. But it doesn't."
- - Joseph and Benjamin Sisko
"So… you feel I've betrayed you."
"Not just me. Everyone… even your own people."
"Cardassia was on the edge of an abyss, Major. The war with the Klingons left us a third rate power. My people had lost their ways. I've made them strong again."
"At what price? You sold Cardassia to the Dominion!"
"A high price, to be sure. But look what we're getting in return: the Alpha Quadrant itself."
- - Dukat and Kira Nerys
"I could make things very pleasant for you here, Kira."
"You could start by doing something about your breath."
"I'm a patient man. I can wait."
"Wait for what? What do you think is going to happen here, Dukat? That you're going to wear me down with your charming personality? That I'm going to be swept off my feet by that insincere smile? Are you really so deluded that you actually believe that we're going to have some kind of intimate relationship?"
"Oh, we already do."
- - Dukat and Kira Nerys, friendly as always
"I've invited Mr. Garak to join us. Considering we're going into Cardassian territory, he might prove useful."
"It's been known to happen."
- - Sisko and Garak
"It's like having a viewscreen inside your brain."
- - Garak, about the virtual sensory display
"I hope whoever is in charge down there hasn't taken a lunch break."
- - Nog, a few moments before beaming the canisters down, along with a bomb set for three minutes.
"You didn't raise me to be a liar."
"I raised you to be a chef, for all the good it did me!"
- - Benjamin Sisko and Joseph Sisko
"How bad is it, Chief?"
"Doesn't look good. Gonna have to switch to auxiliary life support. Deflectors are down, guidance system's shot and…"
"The core matrix is fried. We don't have warp drive."
"Forgive my ignorance, but if we don't have warp drive, how long is it going to take us to reach the closest Federation starbase?"
"A long time, Mr. Garak."
"Seventeen years, two months and three days, give or take an hour."
- - Sisko, O'Brien, Garak, and Bashir
"I was studying some star charts for Captain Sisko during the last assault, when I had a sudden, and rather violent, encounter with a bulkhead."
- - Julian Bashir and Elim Garak
The six-episode arc
- The original plan for the multi-episode arc was that it would encompass the entirety of the Dominion War; as Ronald D. Moore explains, "The initial thinking was that we would end Season 5 on a cliff-hanger with the Federation plunged into war, and then we would come back and do a multi-episode arc, and the war would last that long." Originally, the arc was going to be four episodes, but Ira Steven Behr extended it to five, and eventually to six. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Of the somewhat controversial decision to have the show go semi-serialized, Rick Berman argues, "I think the potential for the serialization – or near-serialization – of the show was always there. If you're on a spaceship, as in Voyager or The Next Generation or The Original Series, you have your family of people who go off and meet aliens every week. But Deep Space Nine was conceived as a stationary show. It took place on a space station, and we found ourselves developing dozens of ancillary characters, secondary characters, and recurring characters. And because we remained there, those characters kept coming back. So once you have the tapestry of all of these different characters, and you had all of these different stories that were kind of weaving in and out, I think it sort of begged for more of a serialized format. And the fact that the Dominion War became such a major part of the last two seasons really contributed to the feeling of serialization." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Despite the inevitability of the show becoming serialized, the decision to do a multi-episode arc at the beginning of the season was not one that was taken lightly. As Hans Beimler explains, "This was big, a really big thing for us. Because even though we had done some strange things over the course of the show, we never had attempted a six-episode arc. In the history of Star Trek, it never had been done. None of us came from series where you did that, so it was a new experience for all of us. And there was a learning curve. But it showed us the possibilities and the excitement that could be garnered, and in the end, we liked it so much that we decided to do the ten-episode arc at the end of the series." Similarly, Ira Steven Behr says, "There was some hesitation over whether it was a valid direction for us to take, about whether we were pushing the envelope a little too far. But ultimately everyone agreed that it was tremendously successful, and one of the best things the show ever did." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Of the process of writing the six-episode arc, Ronald D. Moore explains, "We broke the six episodes together, but as everybody went off and worked on writing them, things would start to change or shift. It became a much more interactive process than it ever had been before. Because each detail had a domino effect. We'd had that happen before, to a certain extent, but we'd never done this many episodes with this many continuing storylines as a single piece. We weren't used to the rhythm. It was definitely challenging!" Similarly, Hans Beimler points out, "It changed the dynamic of the way we work and it changed the kind of involvement that everybody had. Because René Echevarria or Ronald D. Moore would go away to work on an episode, and discover something in the writing process that was going to change everybody else's script. One of them would be coming back all the time saying, 'You know what guys? We need to rethink.' And then we'd call in all the troops and rethink the storyline." Ira Steven Behr says essentially the same thing; "The guys were coming in saying, 'What are you writing?' 'Are we gonna do this?' 'Where's Kira at right now?' 'What's Odo doing?' There were a lot of phone calls, a lot of running into each other's offices, a lot of 'Should this go before this?' and 'Wait a second – does this track?' The fact is, the show isn't geared to work like that." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
"A Time to Stand"
- The opening shot of "A Time to Stand", featuring the retreating flotilla of Starfleet vessels, was one of the last mass scenes entirely composed of footage of physical studio models, save for the CGI USS Defiant. To beef out the scene, the production staff built several new ships, kitbashing them out of parts from commercially available AMT/Ertl, and Revell-Monogram Star Trek model kits. Regarding the names of the new ship types/classes seen in the scene, Mike Okuda has remarked, "Those kitbashes were pretty much built and labeled at random. The VFX department put in a lot of extra time and effort into assembling those models, and they had a little fun with the names. (A few of us from the art department even lent a hand.) Some of the ships had authentic-sounding names, but most of them had gag names. One might reasonably argue that Starfleet might have named a bunch of their ships after historic figures whose names happened to be the same as several of the Star Trek visual effects department staff members. On the other hand, some of the ships had rather impolite names that Starfleet would (probably) not have approved on any of its ships. In any case, everyone worked so hard that I felt it would not be appropriate to attempt to impose "authentic" names or numbering, especially since there was no chance that any of it would be legible on screen." 
- It was important to the writers during the composition of this episode that it not be all about huge space battles, but that there also be an element of Humanity to it. According to Ira Steven Behr, "We knew that going into the war would make it easy for us to fall into the 'hero' trap, where you concentrate on Star Wars-type heroic space battles and stuff like that. But we really wanted to keep the human aspect of the pain of war. So we included a Human moment: the concerned father talking to his son." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Barry Jenner makes his first appearance as Admiral William Ross in this episode. After Jenner finished shooting, Ira Steven Behr took him aside and said, "We've had other admirals on this show. We're glad we've found you. Sorry it took five years!" Behr also says of Jenner, "He brings a gravitas to the role, and yet you can see there's a man behind the uniform. I think that Barry Jenner is one of the unsung heroes of the show, one of the pieces of the puzzle that might not be readily apparent to the audience. But he's part of the glue that makes our job easier." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- The writers created the short scene between Worf and Jadzia Dax because they were worried that no matter what they did for the seventh episode of the season, it was going to seem weak compared to the multi-episode arc which preceded it. As such, they decided early on to have the wedding in the seventh episode, so they decided to 'remind' viewers of that particular story thread here, and also to indicate to people that things will be happening even when the arc is over. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- This episode serves as another chapter in the on-going Kira/Dukat arc which began in the second season episode "The Maquis, Part II". After it became apparent that Dukat was attracted to Kira in "Civil Defense", they briefly worked together in the episodes "Indiscretion" and "Return to Grace", before Dukat came to blame Kira for Ziyal's friendship with Garak in "In Purgatory's Shadow". In "A Time to Stand", Dukat's seemingly blind attraction to Kira is very much to the fore, but so too is Kira's repulsion towards his advances. Dukat briefly wins her over in "Sons and Daughters", but Kira ultimately comes to the realization that she wants nothing to do with him.
- The episode is dedicated to the memory of Brandon Tartikoff, the former Chairman of Paramount Pictures, who died in August 1997. It was Tartikoff who originally approached Rick Berman about doing a new Star Trek series, and it was Tartikoff's idea to do a stationary show, as opposed to one on a starship.
- The Jem'Hadar attack ship is the one that was captured by the crew in "The Ship". Ronald D. Moore commented: "There was a line [cut] somewhere that indicated that the captured J'H ship was transmitting a newly updated recognition signal." (AOL chat, 1997) This is why they were not approached by other Dominion ships.
- This episode takes place three months after "Call to Arms", around stardate 51225.2. However, three episodes after this episode, "Behind the Lines" takes place on stardate 51145.3, which is almost a month earlier than the stardate of this episode. Stardate 51225.2 also contradicts the stardate of the immediately following episode, "Rocks and Shoals", 51096.2, which was taken from the script, and preserved in closed captioning.
- This episode has one of the longest teasers in Star Trek, lasting just over seven minutes.
- Dukat's "Permanent documentation file" represents the first time when some sort of log is kept by the antagonist; in fact, it is the only time, if one doesn't count the mirror universe Maximilian Forrest and Jonathan Archer in "In a Mirror, Darkly".
- Filming began on 8 July 1997. (AOL chat, 1997)
- Remastered footage from the episode is featured in the documentary What We Left Behind.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 6.1, 2 February 1998
- With this volume, the layout of the video sleeve changes slightly - the stardates previously included have been dropped, and the two episodes are separated by a horizontal line.
- As part of the DS9 Season 6 DVD collection
Links and references
- Rene Auberjonois as Odo
- Michael Dorn as Lt. Commander Worf
- Terry Farrell as Lt. Commander Dax
- Cirroc Lofton as Jake Sisko
- Colm Meaney as Chief O'Brien
- Armin Shimerman as Quark
- Alexander Siddig as Doctor Bashir
- Nana Visitor as Major Kira
- Andrew Robinson as Garak
- Jeffrey Combs as Weyoun
- Marc Alaimo as Dukat
- Aron Eisenberg as Nog
- J.G. Hertzler as Martok
- Casey Biggs as Damar
- Barry Jenner as Admiral Ross
- Bill Blair as Human operations division officer
- Cathy DeBuono as M'Pella
- Mark Lentry as Jem'Hadar guard
- David B. Levinson as Broik
- Mark Allen Shepherd as Morn
- Steph Silvestri as command officer
- Unknown performers as
47 (47 references); Alpha Quadrant; amusement; asteroid; attack pattern omega; Bajor; Bajorans; Bajoran wormhole; balance sheet; bearing; bias; biobed; Cardassia; Cardassians; Cardassian border; Cardassian territory; chair; cloaking ability; cloaking device; cochrane; dabo; deputy; Dominion history; Earth; Emissary of the Prophets; evasive maneuvers; Federation; Federation News Service; field rations; freedom of the press; ghetto fence; headache; holo-imager; holosuite; induction stabilizer; intimate relationship; isoton; kilometer; Klingon-Cardassian War; medical facility; Occupation of Bajor; occupying force; "Old Man"; parabolic thruster; poison; power generator; Promenade; propaganda; Quark's; raktajino; replicator; resonance emitter; Reynolds, Charlie; ritual sacrifice; sandwich; sarcasm; Seventh Fleet; Sisko's; storage facility; surgical tissue regenerator; "swing for the fences"; targ; terminology; Tyra system; viewscreen; virtual sensory display; Vulcans; wedding; wedding feast
Centaur, USS (Centaur-type); Curry, USS (Curry-type); Defiant, USS; Defiant-class; Elkins, USS (Elkins-type); Excelsior-class; Federation attack fighter (Unnamed Federation attack fighters); Federation tug; Fredrickson, USS; Galor-class (Galor warships); Jem'Hadar attack ship; Jem'Hadar battle cruiser; Klingon Bird-of-Prey (Klingon Birds-of-Prey); K't'inga-class (Klingon battle cruisers); Miranda-class; Raging Queen; Sisko's attack ship; Starbase 375 (Starbase 375-type)
- "A Time to Stand" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "A Time to Stand" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "A Time to Stand" at Wikipedia
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