“Rocks and Shoals” is the 126th episode of the syndicated American science fiction television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the second episode of the sixth season’s opening six-episode story arc, beginning shortly after the events of the previous episode.
Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the crew of the Starfleet-managed Bajoran space station Deep Space Nine. As with the other five episodes of the opening arc, this episode’s story alternates between the events on the recaptured Terok Nor and the Federation’s attempts to fight the Dominion.
Captain Sisko and his crew’s captured Jem’Hadar ship crash onto a barren planet hidden inside a nebula, landing in a small sea. The senior officers and a handful of crew members survive and seek shelter in a cave, although Lieutenant Commander Dax is severely injured. Unbeknownst to the survivors, a crew of Jem’Hadar and their Vorta, Keevan, have also survived a recent crash landing on the planet and similarly taken up shelter in a cave. The Jem’Hadar first and second are dead, but Keevan has not promoted Third Remata’Klan to the rank of first because Remata’Klan at some point questioned Keevan’s orders. Keevan, seriously injured, strictly rations the Ketracel White, to the dismay of the Jem’Hadar.
Garak and Nog are captured while scouting the unfamiliar territory. Back at the Dominion camp, Garak reveals to Keevan that the Starfleet contingent includes a doctor. Suffering from having low levels of Ketracel White, the Jem’Hadar are, despite a direct order, unable to refrain from firing on the Starfleet personnel who set out in search for Garak and Nog, and are also unable to shroud. The skirmish ends with no Starfleet injuries and an uncharacteristic Jem’Hadar withdrawal. Keevan demands to know the identity of the soldier who first opened fire, but Remata’Klan refuses, citing the order of things: the Vorta may discipline the unit leader, but only the unit leader disciplines the soldiers under his command. Keevan orders Remata’Klan to approach the Starfleet crew.
When Remata’Klan arrives at the Starfleet camp, he delivers a message to Sisko: Keevan will free the Ferengi and the Cardassian in exchange for Doctor Bashir, from whom Keevan needs treatment, and Sisko, with whom Keevan wants to speak. Sisko takes the opportunity to try to drive a wedge between Remata’Klan and his Vorta, relating to the Jem’Hadar the events from “To the Death” (specifically, the Jem’Hadar first’s murder of Weyoun). Sisko asserts that it must be hard to maintain discipline in their current surroundings, and suggests that Remata’Klan not pay so much heed to the Vorta. Remata’Klan, however, remains loyal to Keevan, and Sisko agrees to the prisoner exchange.
Bashir successfully treats Keevan’s wound, although the Vorta is still very weak. After dismissing the Jem’Hadar, Keevan tells the Starfleet officers of his minuscule supply of Ketracel White. He shows them a transmitter and admits he doesn’t have enough white to sustain the soldiers long enough for them to fix the transmitter and send a distress call. He further explains that once the supply is gone, the Jem’Hadar will go on a killing rampage. Keevan tells them that he will order the Jem’Hadar to attack their position – however, the Vorta will give Sisko their attack plan, allowing them to kill the Dominion soldiers. Keevan will also provide them with the transmitter the Jem’Hadar have been working on. Assuming the Starfleet personnel can repair it and call for rescue, Keevan will become their captive, saving his life from the Jem’Hadar. This information does not sit well with some of the Starfleet crew. Chief O’Brien, asserts that “there are rules” in war and that getting information from Keevan that will allow them to slaughter his men somehow violates these rules. Garak, on the other hand, is perfectly content to take advantage of this knowledge. Sisko interrupts the discussion to point out that when it comes down to choosing “between us and them, there is no choice”. (This is the opposite of what he told Worf in the 4th season episode “Rules of Engagement“.)
The stranded crew are not the only ones facing moral qualms: on Terok Nor, Major Kira gradually comes to realise that by not opposing the Dominion occupation, she has become a collaborator; she identifies uncomfortable parallels between her own passivity and those who collaborated with the Cardassians during their occupation of Bajor. Vedek Yassim in particular has strong words for Kira, culminating with her suicide by hanging on the Promenade – before jumping to her death, Yassim declares, “Evil must be opposed.” Kira wakes up the next morning but leaves Ops shortly into her shift; after mulling over her situation, she confides to Odo that she is going to start actively resisting the Dominion.
Back on the barren world, Sisko and his crew have established a lethal crossfire along the Jem’Hadars’ approach to their camp. Sisko calls out to Remata’Klan, who agrees to confer in the open. Sisko tells him of Keevan’s betrayal, and argues that the Vorta does not deserve their loyalty. Remata’Klan confesses that he recognised Keevan’s attack plan as deliberately leading them into a trap. Sisko offers to put the Jem’Hadar into stasis, preserving their lives. Despite this, however, the Jem’Hadar states that Keevan does not need to “earn” his loyalty; the Jem’Hadar’s loyalty to the Vorta is genetically bred into them as part of the order of things. Remata’Klan says he will follow Keevan’s orders, knowing that neither he nor any of his men will survive. Sisko returns to his position; after Remata’Klan prepares his men by declaring, “Our deaths are glory to the Founders”, the Jem’Hadar attack. They are quickly mowed down by the Starfleet crew, although Ensign Gordon is killed. Keevan appears shortly thereafter, strolling among his dead men with the transmitter in hand. He shouts to Sisko that if he’d had just two more vials of Ketracel White, Sisko and his crew never would have had a chance. Sisko orders a burial detail for the dead.
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Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Mike Vejar.
- Writer(s): Ronald D. Moore.
- Release Date: 06 October 1997.
- Running Time: 45 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.