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The Assignment (episode)

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"The Assignment"
DS9, Episode 5x05
Production number: 40510-504
First aired: 28 October 1996
102nd of 173 produced in DS9
101st of 173 released in DS9
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 173 released in DS9 Remastered  
433rd of 728 released in all
Keiko O'Brien possessed by Pah-wraith
Teleplay By
Bradley Thompson & David Weddle

Story By
Robert Lederman & David R. Long

Directed By
Allan Kroeker
Unknown (September 2373)
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After returning from the Fire Caves on Bajor, Keiko's body is controlled by an alien life-form that forces her husband O'Brien to do its bidding or else face the death of his wife.

Summary

After Miles O'Brien has successfully killed Keiko's bonsai trees that he was caring for while she was visiting the Fire Caves on Bajor, he welcomes Keiko home. However, as soon as she gets off the transport, Keiko informs Miles that she's not Keiko, but someone who has taken over her body. Whoever is inhabiting Keiko threatens Miles with his beloved wife's life and the life of their innocent daughter Molly, claiming that they'll kill them both if he doesn't do exactly what she wants. O'Brien at first thinks that his wife is trying to play a joke on him, but is quickly persuaded otherwise when the entity causes her to choke. It stops choking Keiko just as easily to warn O'Brien off from calling the infirmary.

Miles is ordered to reconfigure certain parts of the space station. At the same time, Rom is excited about his new job as an engineer. Quark expresses his loathing of Rom's new job since he quit at Quark's, as Rom has been assigned to the graveyard shift fixing the waste extraction. Rom is proud as he is called to a meeting on the "swing-shift", where the other workers treat him coldly.

During Miles' birthday celebrations, the inhabitant draws on Keiko's brain to act like Keiko, and none other than Miles know any different. Captain Sisko is especially impressed by the Q'parol that she served, showing that the alien has access to all the memories and talents of Keiko. During the party, Jake Sisko asks Keiko if she saw any Pah-wraith in the Fire Caves, prompted by Odo's sharing of Bajoran legends. The inhabited Keiko teases Odo for believing in "the wraiths," which Odo denies.

The evil Keiko-inhabitant gives Miles an ultimatum: complete the reconfigurations in thirteen hours or she'll kill Keiko and Molly. Miles starts a countdown clock to stay aware of the deadline. With the help of Rom, Miles manages to complete most of the work before Jadzia discovers his alterations and alerts security and Sisko. Sisko calls a meeting of O'Brien, Odo, and Dax to discuss the sabotage. O'Brien leads Odo to Rom, and Odo takes him to a holding cell while Miles is left to survey the damage. Rom refuses to tell Odo anything (even his name), instead calling for O'Brien. O'Brien goes to see Rom, and Rom reveals that O'Brien's modifications are converting the station into a gigantic chroniton emitter from the reconfigurations. Rom also reveals that chronitons are lethal to the wormhole aliens. O'Brien wonders aloud about this, and Rom explains that according to the Koss'moran Bajoran story that the Pah-wraiths were cast out by the Prophets. O'Brien now knows that Keiko's intruder can only be a Pah-wraith from the Fire Caves.

The newly-solid Odo confronts O'Brien that he was behind the modifications, so O'Brien knocks him out. He finishes the station modifications, and takes Keiko/Pah-wraith to a runabout, coldly telling it that he figured out its plan but doesn't care about the Prophet/Pah-wraith conflict: he only wants his wife back. Once in position near the wormhole, O'Brien activates the emitters on the station, but targets the runabout instead of the wormhole, killing the deranged Pah-wraith inhabiting Keiko once and for all. Keiko and Miles embrace. When they return, Sisko asks Miles for an explanation.

Back in their quarters, Keiko reveals that she knew what the Pah-wraiths were doing, but could not intervene. Keiko tells Miles that she doubts the Pah-wraiths would have spared them.

The next day, a tired but excited Rom enters Quark's. Quark warns him that the night shift is obviously too much for him but Rom explains that he wasn't working, rather he was out celebrating his now permanent promotion to the day shift; his reward for helping O'Brien. Quark sighs as Rom then proceeds to order pancakes, sausages and pineapple: the breakfast of the day shift.

Memorable quotes

"Is there something wrong, chief? I can work slower if you want me to."

- Rom


"Culpable deniability. I understand. Don't worry about me, Chief. My lips are sealed. Nobody will get anything out of me. Not even my name."
"Rom, everybody on the station knows your name."
(confused) "Right." (a pause) But I won't confirm it."

- Rom and O'Brien


"For the first 40 minutes it was like pulling teeth even getting him to admit his name."

- Odo, after interrogating Rom


"Well, (a pause) Rom, I'm glad things are going so well for you."
"(very quietly) No you're not. (a little louder) But, thanks, anyway Brother."

- Quark and Rom

Background

Story and script

  • In Robert Lederman and David R. Long's original version of this story, Keiko O'Brien is on a biological expedition to a planet inhabited by non-corporeal beings. When she returns to the station, one of the beings accompanies her, and has her under its control as a hostage. René Echevarria altered the premise from one of hostage taking to one of possession. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • After Ira Steven Behr assigned David Weddle and Bradley Thompson to compose the teleplay for this episode, they were unsure as to what direction to take it in until Hans Beimler pointed out to them that this was another 'O'Brien must suffer' episode. Beimler also summed up the tone of the show as "everyone comes over for a party when you're having a huge fight with your wife and she acts as if everything is perfectly normal." After talking with Beimler, Weddle and Thompson had no problems writing the teleplay. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • This episode was also the first produced teleplay for David Weddle and Bradley Thompson, who had pitched the story for the fourth season episode "Rules of Engagement". Furthermore, this episode is also the first episode with music by Gregory Smith.
  • This was the first episode to mention the Pah-wraiths, the demons of Bajoran religion who are the enemies of the Prophets. O'Brien mentions the Fire Caves, where Kai Winn later attempts to summon the Pah Wraiths in "What You Leave Behind". However, although this episode represents the first time the Pah-wraiths are mentioned, the origin of the concept can actually be dated back to the first season episode "The Nagus". While developing "The Assignment", René Echevarria was trying to come up with a concept that would tie into the Deep Space Nine mythology. He didn't want the being who possesses Keiko to simply be some random entity, but rather something that would fit into the overall scheme of the show. Ultimately, he suggested that perhaps the aliens in the wormhole weren't all good, and that there were in fact some evil members of the race. Echevarria however had no idea that four years previously, Robert Hewitt Wolfe had come up with the exact same idea. In the episode "The Nagus", Sisko and Jake are supposed to visit the "Fire Caverns" on Bajor, and there was a line in the original teleplay where Sisko is told jokingly to "watch out for the Pagh-wraiths." The Pagh-wraiths were Wolfe's idea and were supposedly little goblin creatures that lived in the Fire Caves having being cast out of the wormhole and given corporeal form. It was only when Echevarria was trying to find some connection between "The Assignment" and previous episodes that Wolfe returned to his old Pagh-wraiths concept. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion) Of course the Pah-wraiths went on to play a huge role in future Deep Space Nine storylines, especially towards the end of the seventh season.
  • According to Wolfe, the common spelling of Pah-wraiths is actually a misspelling, and his original 'Pagh-wraiths' is the correct form, however David Weddle disagrees, arguing that 'Pah' is correct if the term comes "from ancient Bajoran. The g's were added centuries later, when the seventh hemisphere became more influential." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • In this episode, Rom tells O'Brien of the myth of the Koss'moran, which comes from the Bajoran verb "kosst," meaning "to be," and "amoran," meaning "banished." According to the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, Koss'moran is the same thing as Kosst Amojan – they both mean "to be banished". The phrase Kosst Amojan appeared in the episode "The Reckoning", but it was not revealed as meaning anything specific. Although most fans seem to assume that Koss'moran and Kosst Amojan are actually two different concepts, according to the Companion, they represent the exact same idea. René Echevarria simply altered the name because he didn't like the sound of Koss'moran.
  • Nana Visitor (Kira Nerys) does not appear in this episode because she went into early labor during production. This is the first episode of the series in which she does not appear. Originally, the party in the O'Brien's was going to be a Bajoran holiday presided over by Kira, but when producers discovered she was unavailable, they did a quick rewrite of the scene and turned it into a birthday party, while also ensuring to explain Kira's absence. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)

Trivia

  • This was Allan Kroeker's first Star Trek directing job. Kroeker would go on to direct almost forty episodes across Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise, including the finales of the fifth, sixth and seventh seasons of Deep Space Nine, the finales of the sixth and seventh seasons of Voyager, and the finales of all four seasons of Enterprise.
  • This episode went into production after "Trials and Tribble-ations", but it aired the week before, presumably due to the lengthy post-production on "Trials and Tribble-ations".
  • During the party, Jake Sisko says that he has always wanted to meet a Pah-wraith. A year later he is possessed by one in "The Reckoning".
  • Keiko's possession by a Pah-wraith differs from later episodes. When Jake and Dukat are later possessed by Pah-wraiths their eyes glow red and their voices take on a metallic, echoing effect. Neither of these physiological changes occur to Keiko.
  • Since O'Brien's birthday was revealed to be in September in DS9: "Whispers", this episode is set in September 2373.
  • This episode features an alien officer called Abdon, who bears a striking resemblance to a Kobali.
  • Five years earlier, Miles O'Brien was possessed by an alien consciousness in a similar way to his wife Keiko in this episode. (TNG: "Power Play")

Video and DVD releases

Links and references

Starring

Also starring

Guest stars

Co-stars

Uncredited co-stars

References

anesthetine gas; bacon; Bajor; Bajoran; Bajoran language; Bajoran mythology; Bajoran spiny basil; Bajoran wormhole; birthday; birthday cake; blood vessel; bonsai tree; brain; brain hemorrhage; butter; Cardassians; Cardassian vole; cascade feeder; Celestial Temple; "Chief's Special"; chocolate; chroniton beam; coffee; com link; corned beef hash; crystal fire cage; dabo girl; Dahkur Province; Davis family; day shift; deflector grid; Delavian chocolate; dermal regenerator; Duarte; eggs; emotion; exile; femur; Ferengi; fiber optic relay; Fire Caves; flow regulator; "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow"; frequency; fungi; gravitic sensor; iceberg; Idran hybrid; impulse thruster; Irish whiskey; inertal coupling; isolinear chip junction; Koss'moran; Leeta; level 3 diagnostic; level 3 stasis field; Litana; Lupi; magnetic constrictor; night shift; optronic integrator; orange juice; pah-wraith; pancakes; parietal lobe; phaser; pineapple; Promenade; Prophets; puree of beetle; q'parol; Quark's; radiometric anomaly; raktajino; Replimat; Rudellian brain fever; runabout; sausage; Shakaar Edon; slug liver; swing shift; Tellurian mint truffle (Tellurians); temporal disruption; waste extraction system; water; wideband filter protocol; Yridian

External link


Previous episode:
"Nor the Battle to the Strong"
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season 5
Next episode:
"Trials and Tribble-ations"

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