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O'Brien helps an alien from the Gamma Quadrant as hunters descend on the station searching for their humanoid prey.




Tosk, the first visitor from the Gamma Quadrant

Sarda, a dabo girl, complains to Commander Sisko in his office that Quark has made repeated sexual advances toward her. His claim that sex is part of her job appears valid since the provision is buried within the contract she signed, but Sisko reassures her that the provision will not stand and sends her on her way. As the dabo girl leaves his office, Major Kira informs him that something is coming through the wormhole.

In Ops, he learns that a small starship has emerged so he has Chief O'Brien hail the ship. The sole passenger is a reptilian humanoid who appears nervous and is extremely suspicious of Sisko and the rest of the crew. However, as the alien's ship is in danger of exploding, the alien reluctantly agrees to allow O'Brien to bring his ship to a docking bay with a tractor beam, using the graviton field in the beam to reinforce the vessel's structural integrity. Dispensing with first contact procedures for the moment, Sisko tells O'Brien to greet the new arrival alone so as to ease their guest's fears and to find out what the alien is so nervous about.

Act One[]

O'Brien finds the ship deserted when he enters, although sensors indicate the alien is still present. He goes about inspecting the ship when the alien materializes behind him. The alien is Tosk, although Tosk doesn't tell O'Brien if this is his name or his species; he is simply Tosk. Although Tosk seems impatient and in a hurry, O'Brien convinces him to let O'Brien help fix the ship.

As the two of them exit the ship and walk toward the Promenade, O'Brien casually attempts to find out about how Tosk's ship was attacked, but he ultimately gets nowhere. The two of them seem to develop an unspoken bond on the Promenade. Tosk observes everything, even Doctor Bashir as they pass him near the infirmary, with great interest. He also takes a particular interest in a diagram of Deep Space 9 on a wall panel. When Tosk observes that others will detect the wormhole and come to Deep Space 9, O'Brien seems enthusiastic, explaining that Starfleet's mission is to seek out new life and new civilizations.

There is an awkward moment while Tosk and O'Brien observe Quark escorting a Bolian woman out of his bar. Quark promises to return the woman's money but forbids her from returning to his establishment, as she has cheated at dabo. O'Brien casually explains that some aspects of his culture can be explained later.

They reach Tosk's temporary quarters and O'Brien escorts him in. Curiously, Tosk requires only seventeen minutes of sleep and has no use for food replicators as liquid nutrients are stored throughout his body. In any case, O'Brien says they can begin work on Tosk's ship tomorrow. Tosk turns to a terminal on the wall as soon as O'Brien is gone and tells the computer to show him where on the station weapons are stored. He studies a schematic of the station as the computer informs access to the specified section is restricted to security clearance seven and above.

Act Two[]

In Sisko's office, O'Brien informs the commander that, while Tosk seems amicable, O'Brien knows Tosk's ship was damaged by weapons fire. Sisko says he will tell Odo to keep an eye on Tosk.

Back aboard Tosk's ship, he and O'Brien go about repairing the damage and continue to bond as they teach each other new things, including the phrase "piece of cake." There are some areas where they are unable to find commonalities, such as O'Brien's sense of humor. He suggests that he buy Tosk a drink and exits the ship, which intrigues Tosk.

The two of them go to Quark's where Tosk observes that Humans and species like them have too much "downtime." He notes how very different he and O'Brien are. Quark attempts to find a way to make a profit off of Tosk, offering him a visit to a holosuite, but Tosk claims to live the greatest adventure of all, which greatly impresses Quark. He continues to resist O'Brien's attempts to find out about his past.

O'Brien speaks with Commander Sisko and Lieutenant Dax in Ops, where it becomes obvious that O'Brien is attached to Tosk. While Sisko is somewhat suspicious of their guest, he believes it is Tosk's option not to divulge the truth of his mission.

Meanwhile, Tosk tampers with an access terminal in a corridor elsewhere on DS9, attempting to access a weapons locker. A painting on the wall turns out to be Odo, who interrupts Tosk's work. Tosk becomes invisible but is stopped when Odo activates security force fields in the hallway. Trapped, Tosk assures Odo that he will not put up a fight. Tosk is led away to a holding cell.

Act Three[]

With Tosk in a holding cell, Sisko, O'Brien and Odo meet him in the brig, where Sisko attempts to find out from whom Tosk is running. Tosk seems to think that the fact that he is Tosk explains everything, and he claims he can't tell them any more. Even with the others gone, Tosk is unable to tell O'Brien his predicament. He asks O'Brien to let him die with honor.

O'Brien is perplexed and admits to Odo that he feels partially responsible, being that he was the one who talked Tosk into coming aboard DS9.

Another, larger starship with ion signatures matching those of Tosk's ship comes through the wormhole. However, its occupants do not respond to hails and use alien technology to scan and beam aboard DS9. They board the Promenade, headed for Tosk's cell.

Civilians scatter when three armored Hunters materialize on the Promenade. Sisko, Kira, and O'Brien arrive to join Odo and several deputies, and there is a stand-off feeling as the three officers approach the trio of Hunters. The Hunters appear to ready their weapons. As it is apparent that peaceable actions will not work, Sisko tells his officers to ready their phasers.

Act Four[]

Kira and Odo fight the Hunters

Odo and Kira defend the Promenade

Sisko instructs the Hunters to put down their weapons, and they refuse to do so. Odo heads forward to confront them, but is struck by one of the Hunters. A brief firefight ensues, with several direct hits against the Hunters, who apparently have a special armor that absorbs phaser energy. Odo comments that they're after his prisoner, Tosk, and vows that no one will abduct a prisoner from his brig while he's alive. Major Kira offers a phaser to Odo to help defend himself, but Odo declines, commenting that she knows he never uses them. Eventually the Hunters blast open the doors to Security in a fiery explosion with their weapons, and they make their way into the brig.

The Hunter scans the empty holding cell with his helmet to find Tosk, who has become invisible. Tosk reveals himself. O'Brien, Odo, and Sisko run into the room as the Hunter tells his two partners that he has found the Tosk alive. The Hunter removes his helmet, then criticizes Tosk for such "a disappointment" for having been caged and caught. It is realized by Sisko that Tosk is prey for the Hunters. The Hunter announces that Tosk will be captured and brought home alive ("the greatest humiliation Tosk can know"). Tosk hangs his head in shame. The Hunter commands Tosk's release, but Sisko does not allow it.

Sisko and the Hunter debate over the morality of hunting another, even if he was bred specifically to be hunted. The Hunter states that the wormhole will be out of bounds for the hunt in the future, then once again demands the release of Tosk to him.

In the operations center, Sisko announces that Tosk will be released to the Hunters. Kira asks about asylum for Tosk. Sisko states it will be granted only if Tosk asks. O'Brien runs to Tosk in the holding cell telling him to request asylum, but even though Tosk does appreciate their efforts to help him, he refuses because it goes against everything that he believes in.

Act Five[]

Quark complains about the lack of tourism from the Gamma Quadrant while O'Brien drinks a raktajino. The chief tells Quark to be quiet, which piques the Ferengi's interest in whatever has upset O'Brien. Despite O'Brien's apparent annoyance with Quark, the fact that he stays put through Quark's provocative inquiries indicates he wishes to talk about something. Finally, he explains the situation with Tosk and the Hunters' game and observes that the Ferengi don't like playing by the rules. Undeterred by O'Brien's belief the rules are stopping him for accomplishing his desires Quark speaks of the rules and just inquires about them on a conceptual level – if they can be changed or altered within the context of the game and O'Brien suddenly has an epiphany and leaves shouting his thanks. Quark shrugs at his own skills of a bartender tending to his client's needs/concerns.

In the security office, O'Brien claims Sisko has ordered him to escort Tosk and the Hunter, as it is a Starfleet rather than Bajoran matter. Odo immediately heads toward Sisko's office and with him gone, O'Brien claims that he must escort the Hunter off the station rather than transporting them, as a sign of respect. He removes and leaves his combadge on Odo's desk as they leave the office.

Odo arrives in Sisko's office to complain about the matter, but Sisko does not know what the constable is talking about. When Odo reveals the "order" that Sisko gave to Chief O'Brien, Sisko denies ever making such an order, and immediately tries to contact O'Brien. Having left his combadge back in Security, O'Brien does not receive Sisko's repeated calls.

Meanwhile, O'Brien, the Hunter, and Tosk, wearing a ceremonial collar and hanging his head dejectedly, reach the airlock entrance. As the Hunter enters the airlock, the power grid overloads, knocking him off his feet. Downing the Hunter with a punch to the jaw, O'Brien leads Tosk to escape to the second level of the Promenade and enter a corridor as the Hunter informs his colleagues that the hunt has resumed.

Sisko, Odo, and the rest of the crew are in Ops when Dax informs them that internal sensors have located O'Brien and Tosk. Odo immediately heads off to find them, but Sisko tells Odo not to hurry. After a confused moment and a nod, Odo continues on at an almost leisurely pace towards the turbolift.

O'Brien uses a phaser to remove the collar from Tosk's neck. Tosk fends off several attempts by the Hunters to capture him, securing one of their energy crossbows for himself as he and O'Brien make their way to Tosk's ship. Nearly there, the lead Hunter beams in the way with two others, but is determined to be the one that does the deed and fires. Tosk dodges and fires back, downing all three the Hunters. In his ship, Tosk stores the crossbow above the pilot's seat and asks O'Brien if he was looking to become a Tosk, which O'Brien declines, explaining that among other things, he has a wife and daughter that would not fit well into this lifestyle. The bond between the two of them is stronger than ever as O'Brien wishes Tosk good luck and Tosk tells O'Brien to die with honor, which the officer returns. As Tosk's ship departs DS9, the Hunter ship follows, continuing the hunt.

Once the ordeal is over, O'Brien arrives in Sisko's office, where he attempts to make a feeble explanation for what transpired. Sisko appears furious with O'Brien as he scolds the chief and warns him not to pull a similar stunt again. Before O'Brien leaves, however, he wonders how it was that he was able to escape. He had figured that Sisko and Odo would be able to apprehend him and Tosk almost immediately. "I guess that one got by us," Sisko observes dryly. He has a satisfied grin on his face when O'Brien leaves.

Memorable quotes[]

"I am Tosk."
"That's your name, or your species?"
"I am Tosk."

- Tosk and O'Brien

"He immediately made sexual advances?"

- Sisko, to Sarda regarding the fine print on Quark's "contract" for dabo girls

"Hey, barkeep!"
"Don't call me barkeep! I'm not a barkeep!"

- Miles O'Brien and Quark

"Alpha Quadrant has far too much down time."

- Tosk

"How about you… are you an explorer, or scientist?"
"I am Tosk."

- O'Brien and Tosk

"I am Tosk."
"I'm sure you are."

- Tosk and Odo

"I am sorry I have no vices for you to exploit."
"A challenge!"

- Tosk and Quark

"Constable… There's no hurry."

- Sisko, to Odo

"Another stunt like this and your wife won't have to complain about the conditions here anymore."

- Sisko, to O'Brien

"Die with honor, O'Brien."
"Die with honor, Tosk."

- Tosk and O'Brien

Background information[]

Story and script[]

Shooting Captive Pursuit

Shooting "Captive Pursuit"

Cast and characters[]



  • Rick Berman commented, "'Captive Pursuit' was my favorite show of the first half dozen for all the obvious reasons. Everything worked out well, and the character of Tosk was a creature who was immediately fascinating and sympathetic. The relationship that developed between him and O'Brien was charming." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p 44)
  • Michael Piller commented, "This was one of my favorite episodes of the season." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 43) He was especially impressed with Colm Meaney's work on the episode, Piller commenting, "Colm was excellent [in it]." (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 3, p. 12)
  • Director Corey Allen saw this as an important episode in terms of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's attempts to differentiate itself from Star Trek: The Next Generation; "In general, the DS9 shows are not as squeaky clean as the 'NG shows were. The characters are allowed to be more flawed and that allows for more latitude in interpretation. In TNG, it always seemed to me that the people were wonderfully and heroically bent on the 'unbent' – they were straight arrows. But in 'Captive Pursuit', there's this wonderful moment of realization – almost without words – when O'Brien is sitting at the bar with Quark, and he discovers the possibility that it's conceivable to break the rules of the Federation, which hitherto had been inconceivable to him." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 27)
  • Michael Westmore was extremely pleased with this installment. It earned Westmore and his team a nomination for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Makeup for a Series. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 24, No. 3/4, p. 106)
  • Gerrit Graham commented: "…the thing I liked about that episode is the same thing I like about all Star Trek episodes. They're always about something real, you know what I mean? A real issue; it's not just fluff. That DS9 episode was about the morality of fox hunting. The Tosk was fleeing from the Hunter, my character, and his two buddies, who were chasing him through many universes. He was rescued from the asteroid in which he was hiding by the DS9 folks, who thought it inhuman, or improper, or whatever. The Tosk had been bred specifically for this one job in life. His place in the universe was to be prey for my group of Hunters. I was even in a mostly red and black outfit, which is what fox hunters wear, and the argument was whether or not it was legitimate to hunt for sport, which is what we were doing. Even though the Tosk explained that his only purpose, and his only meaning in life, was to be our prey, does or doesn’t that legitimizes hunting a fellow for sport? It’s a thorny issue. And, at the time, in the real world, people were making a big stink about fox hunting, so the effect was that this story was about a real issue. That’s what made Star Trek terrific". Graham summed up the series: "I remember that I wasn't really sure what to expect, but by the end of those eight or 10 days, I was a complete fan. I was completely sold on DS9, the way it was done, the writing, the production, everything. I was completely sold. Another thing that makes me feel kind of good is that the two makeups, mine and the Tosk's, won Emmys and they were on display in case in the Paramount offices in Hollywood. They were there for a long time. The Tosk makeup was incredible. That guy's performance was fantastic, but the makeup, head to toe… he looked like what he was supposed to be, sort of a giant walking toad. It was amazing. Amazing makeup." [3]
  • Cinefantastique (Vol. 24, No. 3/4, p. 88) characterized this episode as "an intergalactic Most Dangerous Game" and "one of the top episodes of [DS9]."
  • Author Bryan Senn wrote that the episode was "Light on space-thrills but long on thought-provoking ideas and interactions, this episode focuses first on Tosk's fish-out-of-water encounters, with the burgeoning friendship and understanding between the alien and O'Brien becoming both endearing and affecting; then on such weighty notions as moral relativity, cultural differences, and the ideals of one's 'purpose'… Such a thoughtful approach to such dicey moral issues offers no pat answers; but neither does it supply much in the way of action, apart from Tosk's exceedingly brief pursuit through the station at the end (the only part of the “hunt” portrayed). Short on action but long on thought, “Captive Pursuit” adds not only a space-age twist but puts a philosophical spin on the Most Dangerous Game". (The Most Dangerous Cinema: People Hunting People on Film, p. 266)


  • Being genetically engineered for one purpose makes Tosk a similar species to the Jem'Hadar, which plays a very important role in the later seasons of the series. Also, the cloaking ability used by Tosk is similar to that used by the Jem'Hadar. This suggests the possibility of a relationship between the two. In fact, the script for "The Jem'Hadar" stated that the cloak was to be identical to the one in this episode. Indeed, Robert Hewitt Wolfe himself stated that "the same people who breed the Tosks as gifts to the hunters, breed the Jem'Hadar as well." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 154)
  • The Tosk and the Hunters are the first known Gamma Quadrant species seen in Star Trek. Technically, Odo is the first, but his origin wasn't revealed until "The Search, Part I", the third season premiere.
  • It is in this episode where we learn that Odo never carries a weapon, something which holds true for the entire run of the series (with the exception of "Heart of Stone").
  • Playmates Toys released figures of Tosk and the Hunter in the 1990s.
  • This episode marks the first appearance of the doors to the holding cells and the wanted posters in the security office. Previously, the spaces where these appeared were occupied by plain walls with octagonal lighting fixtures.

Video and DVD releases[]

Links and references[]


Also starring[]

Guest stars[]

Uncredited co-stars[]

Stunt doubles[]



access conduit; airlock; Alpha Quadrant; amplitude; anomaly; arva node; asylum; Bajoran; Bajoran sector; Bajoran transport; Bajoran wormhole; barkeep; blood sport; cake; "Cardie"; chief of operations; coladrium flow; combadge; contract; convoy; crime; crossbow; dabo girl; decorator; deflector shield; docking ring; dozen; duranium; Earth; employment agreement; energy flux; engineer; explorer; expression; face; Federation; Ferengi; first contact; flea market; food replicator; force field; fuel; gambler; Gamma Quadrant; glass jaw; graviton field; habitat ring; hailing channel; health center; helmet; holding cell; holosuite; honor; host (occupation); hull; Human; humanoid lifeform; Hunter; Hunters' homeworld; Hunters' ship; hunting; invisibility; jail cell; knuckles; L-band emissions; legal expert; level five; lifeform; light years; liquid nutrients; log; lower species; madame; magnetic coil; magnetic flux; meditation; meter; Milky Way Galaxy; neck manacle; neutrino; oath of silence; oatmeal; O'Brien, Keiko; O'Brien, Molly; off-axis field controller; ops; "out of bounds"; painting; palm beacon; particle beam; patrol vessel; phaser; pink; plasma injector; plasmic fiber; polarity; power grid; Prime Directive; Promenade; proprietor; propulsion system; R&R (aka down time/rest and relax/rest and relaxation); ramscoop; reactor; red alert; replicator center; routine medical examination; Sarda's ship; scan; scanning device; scientist; security check point; security clearance; security grid; security junction; security office; security sensor; sensors; sentient (sentient being); sexual advances; shields; Starfleet; Starfleet Command; station layout; stellar gas; straight man; structural integrity; suit; sustenance; synthale; Tosk (species); Tosk's ship; tourist; tractor beam; transporter; transporter lock; Vulcans; wager; weapon detector; weapons locker; weapons scanner; weapons sensor; wife; yellow alert

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