Call to Arms
Overall Ep :
First Aired :
16 Jun 1997
Season Ep :
Near the end of the episode, we see the Defiant and Rotarran leaving the station. Where are the Runabouts? Shouldn't they be leaving as well?
Great Moment :
Seeing the Defiant and Rotarran join that massive fleet at the end. Go Starfleet! Go Klingons! Let slip the dogs of war! Yay!
Body Count :
Hundreds, at least. Probably thousands.
The final moments of the episode were described in the script as the Defiant and the Rotarran joining a large Klingon/Federation fleet, nothing more. The special effects guys fulfilled this... but did so by showing the two ships turning around in space to join a fleet that was heading back in the direction from which they had come. The producers were startled by this, because the implication of the visual was that the fleet was headed back towards Deep Space Nine to retake the station, something they had not intended. Thus, the opening shot of season 6 would depict this fleet limping along with many damaged ships, to imply that it had failed in that task and been badly mauled.
This episode is a nominee for the DITL "Best of Trek
With Jem'Hadar forces pouring through the wormhole on a regular basis and the Dominion scoring diplomatic successes all over the Alpha Quadrant, the Federation decides to mine the wormhole to prevent further reinforcements arriving. As the Dominion-Cardassian fleet heads for Deep Space Nine, Sisko prepares for battle and the Federation must finally launch an all out war to decide once and for all who will control the Alpha Quadrant.
It's very easy when thinking of this episode to class it as a simple action piece, no more or less. Granted, Call to Arms is not an especially deep episode and it doesn't have any great and meaningful message to impart. But while it certainly is a hell of an action piece, it is also interlaced with some great character moments.
We all know that this is the episode that marked the beginning of the Dominion war, but we don't tend to remember that this is also the episode where Rom marries Leeta. It's the episode where Jadzia and Worf get engaged, where Kira and Odo begin to deal with their feelings for one another and where Jake really becomes a man.
Given such material, the actors are truly on top form here. While Rom was never the greatest character on DS9 he perhaps exemplifies the show's attitude to it's characters, for this is no stuck-in-time, "Same Stuff Different Week" character. Rom started his time on DS9 as a bartender - an assistant
bartender - widely regarded as an idiot. By the time of CTA he is the same scatterbrained guy he always was and always would be, but his natural technical genius is showing through and he is far more secure in himself. We see him get married to a beautiful woman, we see him again asserting his independance from his once-domineering brother - whilst making it perfectly clear that they are
still brothers, and that bond will never be broken, a fact that even Quark grudgingly accepts when he gives up his attempts to badger Rom into leaving the station and plants a brotherly kiss on his head.
Kira and Odo's relationship enters a new phase here as well. After she found out about his feelings for her a few episodes ago, the two have been in an uneasy stasis. Both are uncomfortable, both unsure where they stand, and neither knows what to do about it. When Odo admits that he has been thinking of officially asking Kira out, only to then say that he isn't going to because the current crisis takes precedence, the tension is neatly defused, and the two instantly shift to the more friendly and open interaction we are used to. But only for now.
Jadzia doesn't get a great deal here but we do see her in command of the Defiant, a role she will repeat a few times during the Dominion war. Both character and actress look comfortable in the big chair, and make me wish that either she or Worf had been given a permanent captaincy for the ship long ago. With her minefield mission accomplished, Jadzia comes back to DS9 to collect evacuees, and to track down Worf and tell him that yes, she will marry him. Major wars have a way of accelerating relationships, and this is a nice touch that like many of the episode's threads will lead to bigger things in the future.
Perhaps second only to Rom, the character of Jake is one that simply grew and grew over the course of this series. I still remember seeing that kid with the fishing pole in the pilot episode and groaning to myself at the thought of another Wesley Crusher appearing over the horizon. But Jake is no Wesley, this is a real person
, complete with a personality that grew more complex as he aged. He even decided not to join Starfleet - an issue Wesley seemed to have decided on about five seconds after he emerged from the womb! Jake struggled a little with finding a role for himself in life. He had his writing, but it didn't really seem to be going anywhere until he landed a job as a newspaper man (PADD man?) in Call To Arms. And having found himself a reporter in the middle of a huge unfolding story, he commits himself fully by staying on the station after it falls to the enemy. Truly this episode marks the completion of Jake's growing up and his emergence as his own man, a point his father grudgingly admits.
Sisko had long since accepted into his role as commander of Deep Space Nine, and even come to accept his role as Emissary of the Prophets, but Call To Arms signposts just how settled into both roles he has become. When Leeta tells him what a great honour it would be for the Emissary to perform her wedding ceremony, there is no sign of the flinch that accompanied such requests in the first season - if anything Sisko seems pleased. Any doubt that Deep Space Nine is now his place is utterly dispelled by his final words when he has to leave - "This has become my home and you have become my family... I promise I will not rest until I stand with you again, here, in this place where I belong."
And the good moments carry on down the cast list. We have Dukat at what is probably his most smug moment, proudly strutting onto the station he used to run. We see Weyoun at his most slimy - and how satisfying it is to see his usual impenetrable charm broken for a moment when Sisko calmly tells him that no, he won't be allowing any more Jem'Hadar through the wormhole thank you very much!
As for the action, A Call To Arms probably rates as one of the best rollercoaster ride episodes DS9 ever made, sixth and seventh season included. The eye candy is liberally sprinkled, but also carefully designed for maximum impact. This is not the "blast each other until one side is left standing" type of battle so common to sci-fi. Sisko is fighting for a very specific purpose, to give Defiant time to get the minefield established and so block the wormhole. As soon as that is done he is out of there, saving his people to fight another day. And even amongst the eye candy the characters are shining through - Martok coming to the rescue of the Defiant is but one example, while Weyoun's "this isn't turning out quite the way I had planned" is a laugh-out-loud moment.
But the all time best moment of this episode has to be the last sixty seconds. Dukat finding that Sisko has left his baseball behind and correctly interpreting the message behind it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up... and then we cut to a determined Sisko riding the Defiant into the distance and... well to paraphrase the great Arthur C. Clarke, "my god, it's full of ships!"
I defy anybody to watch the last ten seconds of this episode and not cheer, at least on the inside. The Starfleet/Klingon fleet sweeping through space is an awe-inspiring sight and perhaps the best episode ending that Trek has ever produced, even beating out Riker's "Mister Worf... fire." from Best of Both Worlds. It is a perfect end to the episode, and to the season. It leaves you desparate to know what will happen next, which is all any writer can ask for.
So that's my take on Call To Arms. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!