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The Trek Nation - Honor Among Thieves

Honor Among Thieves

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 12:31 PM GMT

See Also: 'One Little Ship' Episode Guide

After a criminal informant causes the deaths of five Starfleet officers, O'Brien goes undercover to infiltrate the Orion Syndicate. He is befriended by a criminal named Bilby, despite some skepticism from Flith and Kroll, two henchmen. Bilby buys O'Brien's cover story that he's just out of prison for dealing in stolen goods, and reveals to O'Brien that the Syndicate operative behind the leaks is the person in charge of the weather control system on Risa. O'Brien expresses surprise that a Starfleet officer could be bought, but Bilby says that everyone has his price.

Bilby's superior Ramus drops in to see him unexpectedly...bringing a Vorta. Ramus is unhappy to find a new man there, but Bilby witnesses for the Starfleet officer, making O'Brien's actions his own responsibility. He also introduces O'Brien to his cat and invites O'Brien to visit his family, saying that family is the most important thing, though he appreciates O'Brien's honesty when the chief criticizes Bilby's wife's cooking. The two hack into a computer system with help from Kroll's dataport, and joke that they can rob the Bank of Bolius.

Bilby tries to give O'Brien a prostitute as a thank-you gesture, but O'Brien turns him down, claiming he has a girlfriend named Kimiko who arranges flowers. Bilby says he's glad, because O'Brien strikes him as a man without a friend in the quadrant; he reiterates the importance of family, and tells O'Brien that he feels like a family member since his luck has improved since the other man arrived. O'Brien reports to his Starfleet contact, Chadwick, about the man on Risa, and expresses concern about what will happen to Bilby if he stays to spy on the Vorta and turns Bilby in. Chadwick assures him that the criminal will be safe from the Syndicate in Federation prison.

Ramus and the Vorta return and kill Flith in front of the others, announcing that he'd been doing business on the side. Then they tell Bilby and O'Brien of a planned killing of a Klingon ambassador, which they intend to make it appear that Gowron engineered, thus splitting the Klingons and disrupting their alliance with the Federation. O'Brien reports to Chadwick, who tells him that the Klingons have been warned and will take care of the would-be-assassins. This means Bilby will be slaughtered by the Klingons, and when Chadwick suggests that it's what the man deserves, O'Brien knocks him out and goes to warn Bilby.

Bilby refuses to believe at first that O'Brien is a Starfleet officer, but when he does, he is devastated. He says he has no choice but to let the Klingons kill him, since if Ramus knew he knew about O'Brien, the syndicate would slaughter his entire family to make an example of him. Bilby says he knows it would be smart to kill O'Brien, but he's already proven that he's not too smart. He asks whether O'Brien has a family, and whether he'll take care of his cat.

Back on the station, O'Brien tells Bashir of his guilt. Bashir says that he's lucky Chadwick left the whole story out of his report since the mission was successful, and that he's glad the Chief is back. When he exits, O'Brien sits alone, petting the cat.

Analysis:

Once a season, DS9 gives Colm Meaney a great episode. It's very frustrating, because after these occasional glimpses of what he's capable of, we then have to sit through twenty other episodes in which he's given nothing to do other than complain about the engines and his family and play darts with Bashir. Like last season's "Hard Time," this was a tour de force for the actor and for Miles O'Brien, but I don't expect we'll see this much depth in him again for quite awhile.

The script was merely workmanlike: I found it hard to believe that Bilby had gotten so far in the Syndicate when he obviously has such a soft spot for people, but he was a very sympathetic character and superbly played. I found it more disturbing that O'Brien, a non-commissioned officer with a family who's already bonded with his captors several times after having been kidnapped and tortured, was chosen for this assignment, particularly since the station needs him for its unique systems repairs. The Chief may have a family, but we see them so seldom that they almost don't count; it didn't strike me as particularly odd that Bashir was the one he told his story to in the end, since he seems to be far more intimate with the doctor than with Keiko these days. Bashir was the only person on the station who seemed concerned with the absence of O'Brien as a person, rather than with the equipment he was so necessary to fix.

I did enjoy seeing the organized crime ring; it's impossible to believe even in a future like Star Trek's that there aren't people who want to get ahead by illicit means, and personalities which simply prefer to circumvent law and order so they can indulge in violence and greed. Quark would seem a more logical choice for work like this, given his knowledge of dataports and hackers, but then Quark is one of those people who probably COULD be bought by the bad guys. O'Brien may get a little boring as the chief, but his integrity's certainly beyond question. I'm tired of all the matte paintings making all the planets look the same, but this one at least had interesting Blade Runner-ripoff billboards.

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Michelle Erica Green reviews 'Enterprise' episodes for the Trek Nation, for which she is also a news writer. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.