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Star trek: Deep Space Nine 7.04b - The siege of AR-558

Stardate around 52200
Threat advisory: Severe - Severe risk of entertaining activities

Episode propaganda

While making a supply run to the front lines, on the barren planet AR-558, Sisko (Avery Brooks) encounters Starfleet troops that have been decimated during their 5-month occupation of the largest Dominion communications array in the Sector. If they can figure out how it works, Starfleet will be able to tap into Dominion transmissions. In addition to daily skirmishes with the enemy, the shell-shocked forces are constantly threatened by Houdinis - anti-personnel mines that hide in subspace, then explode without warning. Determined to help commanding officer Lieutenant Nadia Larkin (Annette Helde) and her troops, Sisko stuns his crew by announcing that they're staying at the site indefinitely.

Persons of interest

  • Avery Brooks .... Commander Benjamin Lafayette Sisko
  • René Auberjonois .... Constable Odo
  • Michael Dorn .... Lieutenant Worf
  • Nicole de Boer .... Lieutenant Ezri Dax
  • Cirroc Lofton .... Jake Sisko
  • Colm Meaney .... Chief O'Brien
  • Armin Shimerman .... Quark
  • Alexander Siddig .... Doctor Julian Bashir
  • Nana Visitor .... Colonel Kira Nerys
  • Majel Barrett .... Starfleet computer voice
  • Annette Helde .... Lieutenant Nadia Larkin
  • Raymond Cruz .... Vargas
  • Patrick Kilpatrick .... Reese
  • Aron Eisenberg .... Ensign Nog
  • Max Grodénchik .... Rom
  • Bill Mumy .... Lieutenant Kellin
  • James Darren .... Vic Fontaine
  • Ira Steven Behr .... Screenwriter
  • Hans Beimler .... Screenwriter
  • Winrich Kolbe .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Intelligence report

Oh, wow.

Where the previous episode on this tape is a visual extravaganza of glorious battle, The siege of AR-558 is a powerful anti-war drama. From the moment the away team beam down to the planet's surface, you know that this is going to be a hard-hitting episode. The sky dark and gloomy, there's no organic life, just rock and dust: it's like the storm before the storm. This is an Alpha Quadrant Planet Hell.

The on-planet Starfleet personnel are all damaged goods. They've been fighting Jem'Hadar for far too long. They should've been relieved from front line duty after 90 days, but they've been here for 5 months. Of the 140 officers who first came only 43 remain. Too much death does strange things to Humans. As Quark says, Hyumaans are wonderful people, but take away their replicators and sonic showers and they turn into vicious, primal beasts.

While the story is clichéd (how many ways can you write a siege? Either the defenders hold out or the attackers get in) and the characters are clichéd (How many ways can you write a soldier? Either they battle on or they give in), the mood, the acting, the tension, the drama are all brilliantly done. Bonus points go to Quark and Nog for portraying the two sides of the argument so well (beasts versus heroes). And who would've thought that Nog would lose a leg? Wow, another prosthesis! (Tuvok has an artificial elbow.)

The battle scenes, from fire-fight to hand-to-hand combat are incredible. In most episodes the fighting goes on for 10 or 12 seconds. In this episode they last an agonising eternity. The siege of AR-558 is a worthy addition to the canon of anti-war films. Watch it.

Security censorship classification

PG (Low level violence)

Not for public release in Australia before date

VHS rental and retail: 5 April 1999

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Beasts
Apart from being an extremely interesting perspective on the Ferengi view of humanity, this goes a long way towards explaining why Earth and its offspring are so dominant in the UFP, and why Humans are so prevalent in Starfleet. The enemy within is never far from the surface, driving the species ever onward (though not necessarily upward). No wonder the Borg are so intent on assimilating the species.

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