The man’s ship is damaged, but O’Brien locks on a tractor beam to stabilize it. Don’t tractor beams usually have the potential to tear apart unstable things? Anyway, the ship (which looks like a re-use of the Vulcan ships in “Unification II”) is brought in and docked and O’Brien goes down to see if he can fix it. He boards the ship but nobody seems home. It turns out our visitor has the ability to make himself disappear, not shape-shift like Odo, but actually disappear (just accept it so you can enjoy the episode). Once he reveals himself, he doesn’t seem like sharing much, identifies himself only as Tosk, and seems in an awful hurry.
It turns out that Tosk isn’t his name, but his kind. They are bred by the upper species on their world purely for hunting. We find this out when the hunters arrive and disrupt the station’s shields so they can find the Tosk. The worst shame for a Tosk is to be captured alive, which means being put on display for the rest of their lives as targets of public ridicule.
Sisko is inclined to let the hunters have the Tosk if they make the wormhole out of bounds for the hunt. After all, keeping the Tosk would be interference and violate the Prime Directive… unless he asked for asylum. But he doesn’t want to hide. So, O’Brien turns the transfer to the hunters into a jailbreak and helps the Tosk back to his ship. Despite detecting the two, Sisko doesn’t stop them. The upper species wanted a hunt? Well, it’s back on!
There is one big problem for O’Brien. He took off his combadge and ignored Sisko. Sisko is not happy. In fact, he says that if it happens again, Keiko won’t have to complain about conditions in the station anymore.
This is a very TOS-esque episode. This kind of “blood sport” is used to highlight the progress of the Federation.
After seeing O’Brien as a recurring character for years on TNG, it’s great to see him as the lead in this episode. Of our main cast, Sisko doesn’t even rank second in this episode. He’s third, maybe even fourth, after Odo and possibly Quark.
On the subject of Quark, we got some new insight into his character, which Armin Shimmerman is so good at playing. The episode begins with him having written sexual favors deep into a Dabo girl’s contract (she’s complaining to Sisko). Later, we see him at odds with O’Brien. Quark doesn’t like being called “barkeep.” It’s a great scene. I forgot how much fun Quark was as a character.
One thing about Odo… There is a scene where, during a shootout with the hunters, Odo is offered a phaser. He says he never uses them.
In conclusion, it’s a good episode with some interesting moments and a little action.
– Evan Bindelglass