(written from a Production point of view)
O'Brien, working undercover for Starfleet Intelligence, infiltrates the Orion Syndicate, the Alpha Quadrant's main organized crime ring, and befriends the man he will have to betray.
In a rundown bar on Farius Prime, there are several customers, including a Dopterian and a Farian that seems to be inhaling a drug product, playing tongo with a Human. The Bolian bartender, Graife, refreshes their drinks. Miles O'Brien, unshaven and in civilian clothing, sits at the bar and listens to some customers in the background. They are discussing how Raimus will be unhappy about the acquisition of faulty merchandise. They decide to order some food; Flith suggests Krellan food, but Liam Bilby says it always gives him heartburn. They joke about how his appetite will kill him some day; he says "don't get your hopes up."
The Dopterian is about to use a com booth on the wall, but Bilby yells at him that they're about to use it, and sends Krole. He puts a small device on a mechanical implant on his neck, and a similar device on the com booth's screen, and interfaces with the computer. They continue listing what they want to order, and Krole asks who to bill for their dinner. They suggest the police department on Farius, but they billed them for yesterday's meal. So they decide on the municipal sanitation department. As he tries to access their account code, O'Brien covertly activates a small device in his hand, making the com booth begin to shock Krole.
O'Brien jumps up, and tells the others not to touch him, that he's being "spiked". He then goes to the panel, and begins entering commands. The electric shock stops, and they help him to a chair. They complain that they spiked him just for trying to use their account code. Krole pulls off the dataport, and finds that it is fused. They wonder what to do, since it would be too expensive to ask Raimus to pay for a replacement, but O'Brien offers to fix it for him… for a price. They ask O'Brien his name, and he replies "Connelly". They give him the datalink, and tell him to have it fixed and polished by tomorrow morning.
In a dark and steamy alley, O'Brien walks up to meet a man. O'Brien explains what happens, and the man says that nobody has ever made contact with the Orion Syndicate so quickly. It turns out that five undercover Starfleet operatives have recently been killed by the Orion Syndicate in just the last year, and O'Brien is working for Starfleet Intelligence to find out who their informant in Starfleet is (as they couldn't risk recruiting from within the . Once he is able to find out who has been passing on information, he can return to Deep Space 9. Bilby will find information on O'Brien's alias, that he's a "fix-it man down on his luck". Chadwick, O'Brien's handler, tells him to get as close as he can, and not to take any unnecessary risks, because if they find out who he really is, they will kill him.
Meanwhile on Deep Space 9, Quark and Odo enter Ops at the same time and complain simultaneously to report several technical problems, such as the internal security sensors and the fire-suppression system in Quark's. Doctor Bashir comes into Ops, and also complains about a malfunction in the infirmary. Dax and Worf are on a turbolift coming into Ops, when it stops short, forcing them to climb out. Major Kira explains that it happens every time Chief O'Brien goes on leave, since no one really knows how he manages to keep the Starfleet and Cardassian technology working together. Dr. Bashir goes to Captain Sisko in his office about the problems, but the captain believes he is just worried about his friend. The captain explains that he cannot reveal the whereabouts of the chief, but assures Bashir that O'Brien can take care of himself.
Back in Graife's bar on Farius, Krole, Flith, and Bilby are playing tongo when the chief comes in. O'Brien hands the fixed neural interface to Krole, who tries it on to test for feedback. Bilby is impressed with O'Brien's work, and has looked into "Connelly"'s background, knowing that he lives on Jinami Street, and his work history. O'Brien asks how he knows so much about the identity he's taken, still undercover, and Bilby doesn't respond. Instead, he takes him for a walk. In Bilby's apartment (which he shares with his cat Chester) he unlocks a safe, and pulls out three Klingon type-3 disruptors. O'Brien sits up, suspicious, and Bilby says he didn't bring him here to kill him.
Apparently, the Orion Syndicate was looking for people who can fix things on Farius Prime, as Bilby shows him that the disruptors he needed to procure don't work, O'Brien diagnoses that the induction coils are burnt out, and says he can fix them. Bilby offers him some cake his wife made, and shows him a picture of his family, who live on New Sydney. Bilby inquires about O'Brien's family, to which he says that he doesn't have any. Bilby, in not so many words, asks if he would like to work for him in the Syndicate.
In the dark alley, Chadwick hands O'Brien the Klingon induction coils he asked for, courtesy of the Klingon ambassador to Farius. Chadwick asks why Raimus, Bilby's boss, wants the disruptors. O'Brien says he doesn't know, neither does Bilby, and asks if he can contact his wife. Chadwick says they can't risk it, and O'Brien leaves to give the disruptors to Bilby. Back in Graife's Bar, O'Brien gives them the disruptors, which they inspect. Flith asks where he got the replacement parts, which are hard to come by on Farius. O'Brien doesn't tell them who his supplier is, to the point they get angry, and he says he stole them from a warehouse on Degora Street, and he didn't want them to get implicated if he got caught. Bilby believes it, and decides to do something about Connelly's clothes. So, Bilby takes him to the same tailor he uses, to buy a new suit.
Later in Graife's Bar, Yint, who sold Bilby the malfunctioning disruptors, comes in asking what they want. Bilby says he wants his money back, but Yint refuses. Bilby decides to demonstrate by shooting Yint in the leg. O'Brien tries to stop him, but Bilby fires again and kills Yint.
Back in Bilby's apartment, Bilby confides in O'Brien to the point of revealing that there's an Orion Syndicate operative in Starfleet. He asks Connelly to remind him to buy a birthday present for his daughter, and then if he'd like to go to New Sydney to meet his family. O'Brien agrees, and inquires more about the Starfleet officer. Bilby says Raimus met him on Risa a year prior, and that he worked at the planet's weather control system. The Syndicate offered him a substantial amount of money, and he revealed the names of the undercover operatives in the Orion Syndicate. Bilby receives a message from Krole, saying Raimus wants to see him, so they go to Graife's Bar.
Raimus and his guards beam in, and shows him that their new client is a Vorta, Gelnon, and that they are working for the Dominion. Raimus asks who O'Brien is, and Bilby witnesses for him, saying he's trustworthy. Gelnon says he wants them to do something else for them, and that he'll contact him when it is time, and they transport out. Bilby explains to O'Brien that anything he does wrong, he's accountable for.
O'Brien meets with Chadwick in the dark alley, and tells him who the informer is as well as the fact a Vorta was meeting with the Syndicate. Left with some very disturbing possibilities that could result from the Orion Syndicate working with the Dominion, Chadwick immediately extends O'Brien's assignment to find out what is going on before leaving to inform his superiors.
Quickly becoming a valuable member of their team, O'Brien assists his new associates in an attempt to rob the Bank of Bolias. Using the dataport, Krole and O'Brien are quickly able to navigate around the bank's three-tier security protocol, and the isolation matrix protecting the data. Afterwards, Bilby books a Farian call girl for O'Brien as a gift, but he politely refuses claiming he has just got together with a girlfriend a few days ago called "Kimiko". Bilby encourages him to settle down and have a family telling him "that's the most important thing", and tells him that he considers "Connolly" a friend and to him a friend is like family.
O'Brien realizes that he is beginning to worry about Bilby, and what will become of him after his assignment ends. O'Brien expresses this during his next meeting with Chadwick. He is reminded that Bilby made his choice when he joined the Syndicate, but also tells O'Brien that if they can build enough of a case against him then he'll be sent to a Federation prison where he'll be safe. This does little to help O'Brien, still troubled by what may lay ahead for Bilby, but even more by the fact that he will have to betray a man he now considers his friend.
The next day Bilby's group enters the bar only to find Raimus and Gelnon waiting, having discovered there is a traitor among them. Gelnon identifies O'Brien to Bilby's horror, but it is Flith who Graife shoots dead - Raimus explains that Flith had conducted some extra business without informing the syndicate or paying them their required cut and notes to Bilby that had he witnessed for Flith then he'd be dead too. It now becomes clear what the Dominion wants from the Syndicate; Raimus and the Vorta instruct Bilby and his team to execute the Klingon ambassador to Farius (who is strongly against the Klingon-Federation alliance) using the disruptors that O'Brien repaired in order to imply that the ambassador was killed in a dispute with his fellow countrymen. It is the hope of the Dominion that the ambassador will become a martyr and this will lead to a diplomatic breakdown between the Klingons and the Federation, ending their alliance and ensuring the Dominion certain victory in the war.
O'Brien passes the information about the upcoming assassination attempt and the method Bilby will be using to penetrate the Klingon embassy's security on to Chadwick, who leaves to warn the ambassador. O'Brien realizes that he has committed Bilby and his men to death at the hands of the Klingons, and tries to stop Chadwick, but is told that all he is going to do is warn the Klingons about the assassination attempt and it's up to them how they respond. Chadwick states that he won't shed any tears about members of the Orion Syndicate being killed. Chadwick then tells O'Brien that it's clear he's sympathizing with Bilby, but it's no longer a problem as his assignment is now over and he can return to Deep Space 9. O'Brien, however, cannot simply allow his new friend to walk into certain death and knocks out Chadwick before rushing to Bilby's apartment. Bilby greets O'Brien on his door step and lets him in. He's getting ready to leave when O'Brien tells him it's a trap.
O'Brien tries his best to talk Bilby out of the mission, first by claiming that his signal was traced when he infiltrated Klingon security, but when this story doesn't work he tells the truth that he is working for Starfleet. At first Bilby refuses to believe this, but O'Brien reasserts himself, and Bilby realizes the truth. Bilby is devastated that his new friend was actually a spy, reminding O'Brien that, as he witnessed for him, the wrath of the Syndicate will fall on him once the truth is known. O'Brien encourages Bilby to hide or turn himself in to the Federation. Bilby however decides that the only way to protect his wife and children from the Syndicate's retribution is to carry out his mission even knowing that he will be killed.
Before he leaves on his doomed mission, Bilby makes a final request of O'Brien – to make sure Chester is cared for once he is gone. The last thing he asks is if O'Brien has a family, and when O'Brien confirms he does, Bilby is a little satisfied knowing family is the most important thing in the world. With that, Bilby leaves for the last time as O'Brien sadly watches.
O'Brien returns to Deep Space 9 (Chadwick having decided not to report O'Brien's assault) and tells Bashir everything that happened, and can't help but feel upset over his friend's death and guilty for his own indirect part in it. Bashir assures O'Brien that there was nothing he could have done except for his duty. O'Brien doesn't feel any better, and Bashir tells his friend that doesn't have all the answers for him he wants, but what he does know is that he's glad he's back. Bashir leaves, but O'Brien is not totally alone having brought Chester back to the station with him. The cat goes to him and as O'Brien strokes his new pet, he can't help but feel weighed down by recent events.
"If they find out who you are, they'll kill you."
- - Chadwick, to O'Brien when he infiltrates Bilby's crew
"Major, there is something wrong with the turbolift."
"I can see that."
- - Worf to Kira, when he and Jadzia enter Ops through a malfunctioning turbolift
"I do not understand why his staff cannot keep the station running in his absence."
"Must have left my idiot brother in charge."
- - Worf and Quark, on the numerous glitches Deep Space 9 is experiencing while O'Brien is working undercover
"The chief can take care of himself as well as anyone I know."
"You're right about that, sir. You're right about that."
- - Sisko to Bashir, when he asks about O'Brien's whereabouts
"Hey, what do you make of that, Chester? I've found me an honest man. Must be my lucky day."
- - Bilby, to his cat while talking to O'Brien in his apartment
"You're telling me that the Orion Syndicate is working for the Dominion?"
"Opens up a lot of possibilities, doesn't it?"
"None of them very pleasant."
- - Chadwick, when O'Brien tells him Raimus is working with Gelnon, a Vorta
"Back home, wherever that is – you have a family?"
"Heh, good. That's the most important thing."
- - Bilby's last words to O'Brien before he is killed by the Klingons
Story and script
- Philip Kim's original idea for this episode was a comic story involving Jake saving the life of the daughter of the Orion Syndicate's leader, and, due to his actions, Jake is befriended by a number of high-ranking Syndicate members. At first, he loves it, with his new friends able to get him anything he wants whenever he wants. However, Jake and Nog have a small argument on the Promenade and the next day, Jake discovers that Nog is in the Infirmary after suffering a nasty beating. At this point, Jake realizes he's into something he can't control, and he goes to his father for help. The comic element of the story was to come from the fact that while Jake is trying to extricate himself from the Syndicate, Quark is trying to work his way into it, so he decides to become Jake's new best friend. Ultimately however, it turns out that the whole situation with the daughter had been set up by a member of the organization trying to usurp power for himself. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Charles Hallahan was originally cast in the role of Liam Bilby, but sadly passed away several days before principal photography began. Nick Tate, who initially lost the role to Hallahan, agreed to do it in his memory. However, despite Tate's excellent performance, the loss of Hallahan was something which Ira Steven Behr feels hurt the episode; "We wanted to put Colm Meaney against another actor and just let them hold the screen for forty-two minutes, and within this science fiction setting make you care about the humanity of these people. That was the intent. It was a fragile thing. The episode's success was totally dependent on that relationship. If the relationship sinks, then the whole episode sinks. If the relationship is okay, then the whole episode is okay. And I think that's what we had. We had okay." Behr's comments stem from the fact that when Hallahan was in the role, the Bilby/O'Brien relationship was going to be very much a father/son relationship, mainly due to the physical similarities between Hallahan and Meaney (same build, same height, same color hair etc.) but with Tate, it was felt such that a relationship wouldn't work (no one could imagine Tate as Meaney's father), so it was changed to a simple friendship, which Behr feels damaged the emotional core of the narrative; "I still have trouble watching the show because I still always see Charlie in it. As a character, O'Brien is so genuine and so trustworthy, and there's no guile in him. And for me, Charlie was the perfect guy to play Bilby, because he had what O'Brien has. It would have been reflections of two guys who were a lot alike, and Charlie would have broken your heart." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- René Echevarria was a little disappointed with how this show turned out; "I'm not sure we found a level to this that made it truly an O'Brien show, or even truly a Deep Space Nine show. The story's a little familiar. Every television detective series has done a story about a crime fighter going undercover, getting involved, and coming to respect the code of the bad guy. So it wasn't a resounding success for me. But O'Brien is our Everyman, and if O'Brien can find himself sympathizing with a gangster-thug-killer, then anyone should be able to." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Colm Meaney commented "It was a very good show but it was not a big acting challenge for me in the way that "Hard Time" was. "Honor Among Thieves" was more low-key, more subtle, but it was nonetheless very interesting for me to play. I thought Nick did a wonderful job as Bilby, and I enjoyed working with him a great deal. It's fun to do those shows where it's just two guys playing out interesting, well-written scenes. I'm glad that particular episode came my way". (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 24, p. 46)
- Nick Tate commented "I really jumped at the chance to do the episode. It was one of those roles that I just loved. I thought Bilby was a wonderful character and the script was very, very clever. It's quite a different kind of a Star Trek episode. It's not the usual sort of space adventure. I've not seen a lot of ST:DS9, but I do know the shows tend to be very dark and sombre, with a lot of background tension. Well, this show has a great deal of tension. It's a very aggressive show. The ST:DS9 experience was very intense. It was hard work and the episode's storyline was very aggressive, but it was still a very enjoyable experience. I simply loved working with Colm Meaney and everyone else on the show. Colm was actually the only member of the show's regular cast I worked with, but I did get to meet everyone else in the make-up van one day, and we all shook hands. I thought the episode itself was excellent. It's got a lot of heart and it's very interesting, so it should be very popular with the fans. I thought Allan Eastman did a great job and I was very pleased to be a part of the show". ("Deep Space Pirate", Star Trek Monthly issue 42)
- The A.V. Club awarded the episode a "B" grade, comparing it negatively to the film Donnie Brasco, saying "events are so detached from the parts of the show we really care about that the whole thing comes off like an odd, unnecessary detour. When it comes to fiction, steal if you need to; but if you steal, you better make sure to make what you take your own."
- A new transporter effect was designed for the episode for the scene where Raimus and Gelnon transport in.
- Farius Prime, which was mentioned in "The Maquis, Part I" as a side note, is the major location in this episode.
- The story of Morica Bilby and the Orion Syndicate is continued in "Prodigal Daughter", a seventh season episode.
- The Syndicate itself had previously been mentioned in "The Ascent" (where it planted a bomb on and crippled the runabout carrying Quark and Odo to a trial where Quark was scheduled to testify against it) and "A Simple Investigation" (where Arissa is working as an undercover agent in an attempt to infiltrate it).
- Though Worf, Dax, Bashir, Leeta, and Quark visited Risa (in Season Five's "Let He Who Is Without Sin...") around the same time Bilby claims Raimus persuaded a Starfleet officer working at Risa's weather control station to become an operative for the Syndicate, there is no indication that this character was ever seen on-screen in the earlier episode.
- Gelnon was the Vorta who commanded the Jem'Hadar team who commandeered the USS Defiant in the previous episode "One Little Ship".
- Although the Syndicate failed in their the attempt to make it look as though a Klingon Ambassador who advocated a policy useful to the Dominion was killed by a political opponent, Garak later used a similar tactic to bring the Romulans into the war on the side of the Federation.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 6.8, 10 August 1998
- As part of the DS9 Season 6 DVD collection
Links and references
- Rene Auberjonois as Odo
- Michael Dorn as Lieutenant Commander Worf
- Terry Farrell as Lieutenant Commander Dax
- Colm Meaney as Chief O'Brien
- Armin Shimerman as Quark
- Alexander Siddig as Doctor Bashir
- Nana Visitor as Major Kira
- Michael Harney as Chadwick
- Carlos Carrasco as Krole
- John Chandler as Flith
- Leland Crooke as Gelnon
- Joseph Culp as Raimus
- Bill Blair as Farian gambler
- Brian Simpson (stunt actor)
- Delilah Stombs as a Farian woman
- Chester E. Tripp III (stunt actor)
- Unknown actors as
account code; alcohol; Alpha Quadrant; backup generator; Bilby family; Bank of Bolias (Bolarus IX); bar; Bolians; cake; Cardassian; Chester; cocktail; com booth; Connelly; criminal organization; dataport; Dayos IV; Degora Street; disruptor; Dopterians; Earth; eye; Farius; Federation; flower shop; girlfriend; Gowron; Graife; Graife's Bar; heart; heartburn; induction coil; interfacing; Jem'Hadar; Jinami Street; Kimiko; Klingons; Klingon Ambassador; Klingon Empire; Krellan food; minute; Municipal Sanitation; murder; New Sydney; nozala sandwich; Orion Syndicate; power grid; Quark's; Risa; robbed; spiking; Starfleet; Starfleet Intelligence; Starfleet Intelligence operatives; tongo; traitor; undercover operative; vilm sauce; Vorta; warehouse; weather control system; witnessing; Yeager-type
- "Honor Among Thieves" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Honor Among Thieves" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Honor Among Thieves" at Wikipedia
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