Defiant (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 3, Episode 9) Riker visits DS9, and it’s he who’s titularly “defiant”

Rewatching ST:DS9

After an overworked Kira snaps at Bashir, the good doctor’s prescription is an evening at Quark’s, which includes a chance meeting with Commander Riker, on leave from the Enterprise-D.

The next morning when Dax pries her for details, Kira insists they just talked. 

That evening, Riker bumps into her on the promenade and she invites him on a tour of the station. He requests a visit to the Defiant. O’Brien is surprised and happy to see his former commander, but Riker turns cold: “I have nothing to say to you, O’Brien.”

Riker seems to perk up again on the Defiant bridge, especially after Kira grants him access to the bridge controls, and we have our first major plot twist — Riker stuns Kira, beams aboard two accomplices in civilian clothes, fakes an emergency, and steals the Defiant.

One of the newcomers says, “You did it, Tom,” and immediately Trek nerds already know what Odo tells us in an infodump — this is not the William T. Riker we know, but his transporter-created duplicate (whom we met in ST:TNG “Second Chances”).

Reasoning that Riker may have joined the Maquis, Sisko offers to help Dukat stop the Defiant from destabilizing the demilitarized zone. It’s a substantial B-plot, which features  a trip to Cardassia, where Dukat proudly shows Sisko the room where he seems to have instant access to every Cardassian military ship, and where Dukat spars with Korinas, “our observer from the Obsidian Order.” 

While Dukat and Korinas have reason to mistrust Sisko, Dukat already in his own way recognizes Sisko is an an honorable man, and we see Sisko giving frank advice, which would have stopped the Defiant sooner if Dukat and Korinas had squabbled less. I enjoyed how Sisko played the by-the-book military strategist Dukat against the keep-them-guessing intelligence officer Korinas. 

Kira, having been a resistance fighter herself, and having given up that life to serve in the Bajoran militia, can’t make sense of Riker’s actions. Even if he’s not acting like a Federation officer, he’s not thinking like a resistance fighter, either. She realizes his motives are personal.

I would have liked to see Kira and Riker spending more time sparring while fighting on the same side, but maybe that would be too much, since this script also required Dukat yet again to align his interests with Sisko’s. 

On my rewatch I was kind of surprised by how comparatively little time we spend on the Defiant; we don’t even really get a hint of what Riker’s relationship is with his pirate crew, or why they follow him.

The tactical displays showing the fleet activity look blocky and awkward, and the Cardassian military command room seemed cramped and bland compared to the DS9 Ops set; still, there’s plenty of pew-pew, and it’s great to see the tough little Defiant in action against the menacing Cardassian warships.