Captive Pursuit (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 1, Episode 6) O’Brien Befriends a Nervous, Hunted Alien

Rewatching ST:DS9

Sisko is listening to a sexual harassment complaint from one of Quark’s employees when an unexpected ship arrives through the wormhole — the Alpha Quadrant’s first visitor from the other side. 

The ship’s pilot is jumpy; O’Brien gets him to relax a bit, but when asked his name, species, and job, the new arrival says only “I am Tosk.” When O’Brien deposits him in a guest room, he immediately asks the computer where the weapons are stored. 

O’Brien tells Sisko he thinks the ship was fired on. Later at Quark’s (where O’Brien annoys the proprietor by calling him “barkeep”), Tosk is amazed at the concept of “rest and relaxation,” but won’t talk about himself.

Bashir suggests that maybe Tosk would open up to a doctor, but O’Brien cuts him off in mid-sentence. (Nobody takes his suggestion seriously.)

Later, Odo catches Tosk trying to hack a security panel. He still won’t explain himself, other than asking O’Brien to let him out so he can “die with honor.” 

Another alien ship comes through the wormhole, takes out the shields in seconds, and beams over a landing party. After pew-pew on the promenade, one of the newcomers makes it into Tosk’s cell.

We learn these aliens are hunting Tosk for sport. They consider it shameful that Tosk was captured, unarmed and hiding, instead of dying honorably. Though he’s told he will be brought back and put on public display for children to laugh at, Tosk refuses O’Brien’s suggestion that he request asylum (but thanks him anyway). 

O’Brien is irritable in Quark’s, insisting he doesn’t want to talk about his troubles to a “barkeep,” but he ends up inspired by something Quark says. 

Tosk has a reptilian sweetness about him, kind of like Grig from The Last Starfighter. While the script does provide a decent in-world explanation for why Sisko doesn’t throw the book at O’Brien it’s still a bit of a stretch that O’Brien would stick his neck out this far for someone he has just met.

Maybe If this episode had come before Keko decided to start the school, O’Brien could have figured he was probably going to resign anyway so he might as well do this good deed on the way out. Because the teaser focused on “the Ferengi print” in Quarks’ employment contract, I expected Quark would find a specific loophole in the rules of the hunt, but that would have made O’Brien’s actions less dramatic.