Throwback Thursday: Deep Space 9’s Empok Nor (Season 5, EP 24)

This week’s Throwback Thursday review is for Deep Space 9’s Empok Nor, the 24th episode of the fifth season that sees the crew go on a scavenger hunt.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a review. Let’s see what joy Deep Space 9’s Empok Nor can give us. We open on this week’s Legends of the Hidden Cardassian Temple with Nog and Chief O’Brien getting gassed. So, you know this episode is going to end well. The station is falling apart so Captain Sisko approves sending O’Brien, Nog, Garak, and a few yellow shirts (cannon fodder) to Empok Nor to retrieve needed replacements for Deep Space 9.

Among those is Crewman Pechetti, who looks just like Trip Tucker. So that means in this week’s episode, Trip Tucker will be played by Connor Trinneer as played by Andy Milder. Pechetti’s uncanny resemblance to Tucker makes one hopeful that he survives until the en….nevermind.

Upon arriving at the station, two Cardassians awake, having been put in stasis for an unknown reason. Garak reveals that the Cardassians left in stasis were given some sort of psychotropic that amplifies their xenophobia.

Great, the space Nazi’s got even more racist.

It also turns out Space Racism is contagious, as Garak eventually gets infected by the same thing the Cardassian soldiers were dosed with. So the uber-intelligent spy is now a Super Space-Racist. How could this situation get any worse for O’Brien and Nog? What’s that you say? O’Brien killed dozens of Cardassian soldiers in a battle from some forgotten war, and Garak is holding a lowkey grudge about it?

Welp.

After Garak captures Nog, O’Brien and Garak have a good ol’ fashion face-off on the promenade but O’Brien is no one’s Huckleberry. Garak is blown up by a trap that O’Brien set, gets subdued, then cured, and never faces any consequences for murdering a Starfleet officer.

Sure.

Acting: Whenever Andrew J. Robinson (Garak) is on the screen of any episode, he steals it. He should be arrested by now for grand theft but Starfleet just lets Garak get away with everything. Nog and O’Brien are a delight as well, but the yellow shirts, however, are unimpressive.

Grade: 4/5

Writing: For such a clever concept of a crew visiting another Cardassian station, there was little in the way of cunning dialogue. Even with Garak. It felt like the episode was built around the concept that no one knew how to write.

Grade: 3/5

Design: Terok Nor and Empok Nor are supposed to be similar in design because of the Cardassian design. Yet, it really just looked like the set designers dressed up the actual every-day set with boxes and dimmed the lights. A cheap and functional thing to do but two knocks against it due to the lack of uniqueness. Though another point added for creative use of established sets.

Grade: 4/5

Special Effects: It’s a syndicated show, in the ’90s, and you can’t compare it to today’s science fiction. For its time, pretty good. Though, again, this episode didn’t seem to be too heavy on effects. It felt like this was an episode where the staff was like “We got $500 for this episode, what do we do?” “Turn off the lights and forget to clean the soundstage?” “Yup, that’ll work.”

Grade: 4/5

Enjoyability: I wasn’t vibing with this one. Not sure why. Garak is always great but for this episode the way they used Garak was disappointing. There weren’t a lot of stellar lines and as soon as you knew the cannon fodder was all no-names we’ve never seen before, there were no real concern for the main characters and the ending felt predictable.

Grade: 3/5

Overall: 18/25 (72%)

– A fine episode, but there was only one scene for Julian Bashir, Captain Sisko, Worf, Odo, and Kira Nerys. A common occurrence for a series like this, but that doesn’t make it ok. Especially with how good Worf is on DS9.