Discovery Brings Back Star Trek’s Scariest Moment 

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

In the fifth and final season of Star Trek: Discovery, the Breen have taken center stage as the main bad guys, and they are just as scary as advertised. In the recent episode “Labyrinths,” for example, these intimidating aliens used a technique known as shield-tunneling to send troops into an otherwise shielded library.

This made for a cool attack in and of itself, but for longtime fans, what made this so memorable is that it recalls the scariest moment in the franchise from way back in the Deep Space Nine episode “The Changing Face of Evil.”

Return Of The Breen

star trek: deep space nine feature

When DS9 went all-in on the Dominion War storyline, part of what made the story so memorable was seeing the unexpected allies on both sides of the conflict.

The good guys included Starfleet and the Klingons, with the Romulans eventually joining them (after some dark and bloody deception on the part of Captain Sisko and Garak). The bad guys were initially comprised of the Dominion and the Cardassians, and the last-minute addition of the Breen nearly proved disastrous for our heroes.

Echoes Of The Defiant’s Destruction

In “The Changing Face of Evil,” the Dominion boldly moves to reclaim the Chin’toka system that Starfleet had previously captured. Captain Sisko and the crew of the Defiant are ready to fight these freaky Star Trek bad guys when they make an awful discovery about Breen weaponry. Early into the battle, the Breen fires a weird weapon that can drain the energy from enemy vessels and generally leaves them helpless, and the bad guys do the unthinkable by subsequently destroying the Defiant.

The Breen Are Starfleet’s Most Mysterious Enemy

How does this tie into the aforementioned Star Trek: Discovery episode and the Breen’s shield-tunneling ability? For one thing, what made that moment in “The Changing Face of Evil” so scary is that Starfleet found out that their shields meant nothing to this particular foe.

The Breen could literally end any battle with a single blast, and that moment was echoed in the Discovery episode “Labyrinths” when the Breen were able to breach the otherwise robust shields of the Eternal Gallery and Archive.

The Truly Alien Breen

In addition to that fairly direct similarity to that frightening Deep Space Nine moment, this Star Trek: Discovery episode had a more indirect similarity in that it reminded both characters and audiences of just how alien and menacing the Breen could be.

Historically, races like the Klingons and the Romulans have had major ideological differences, but they utilized very similar weapons and defenses. In combat, beating them came down to a simple rule: take out their shields with your phasers and torpedoes before they take out your shields with their disruptors and torpedoes.

Breen Technology Is Unlike Anything Else

In DS9, the Breen proved they were playing chess (three-dimensional, of course) when everyone else was playing checkers by utilizing technology nobody had encountered before in order to sidestep the best defenses enemies had to offer. The same thing happened in Star Trek: Discovery, with an exasperated Stamets asking how they could “disrupt a shield-tunneling technology we’ve never encountered before” from the Breen, “a species we know almost nothing about?”

Depressingly for the Federation, this was the exact position that Sisko and his crew faced during the Dominion War about eight centuries ago, as the earlier heroes had to overcome an alien technology that otherwise put their best defenses to shame.

Burnham Vs. The Breen

For the most recent season of Star Trek: Discovery, this is just one more allusion to Deep Space Nine that we can throw into the growing pile. While some of those references have been relatively happy (like witnessing the Trill zhian’tara ritual in action once again), this echo of the Defiant’s destruction was pretty painful to watch.

Just as Sisko got to command the Defiant again, though (the newly-commissioned vessel proved to be a “tough little ship” like its predecessor), we’re confident that Captain Burnham and crew will eventually overcome the Breen’s superior technology and finally learn the secrets of the Progenitors.

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