Star Trek Discovery Turns The Best Deep Space Nine Episode Into A Joke

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

The final season of Star Trek: Discovery has had frequent references to earlier shows in the franchise, including numerous mentions of the Dominion War from Deep Space Nine. Some of the references are very blatant and some are subtle and quick enough that you might not recognize them. For an example of a more subtle reference, the Discovery episode “Erigah” basically turned the awesome DS9 episode “Inquisition” into a joke so that a new character could have a forgettable throwaway line.

Cosmic Love And Crime

In Star Trek: Discovery, the character casually disrespecting DS9 is Moll, a human who falls in love with a Breen named L’ak before the two embark on a life of crime. In this final season, Captain Burnham and crew are trying to solve a centuries-old mystery regarding the Progenitors, powerful aliens who claim to have created some of the major races in the galaxy (including humans, Cardassians, and Romulans).

They are constantly trying to stay ahead of Moll and L’ak, both of whom are hoping to turn info about the Progenitors over to the Breen to erase their blood debt to L’ak’s royal family.

A Subtle DS9 Nod

In the Star Trek: Discovery episode “Erigah” (so named for the aforementioned blood debt), we get the show’s most subtle reference to DS9. When Commander Nhan tries to tell Moll that L’ak accidentally overdosed as part of their insane escape plan, the runaway criminal doesn’t believe her. Sarcastically, she blurts out, “Sell me a goat farm on Bopak III while you’re at it.”

Bopak III

julian bashir star trek

It’s a blink-and-you-miss-it moment, but nerds with long memories may remember Bopak III as the planet from the Deep Space Nine episode “Hippocratic Oath.” This was the ep where Dr. Bashir and Chief O’Brien crashed a runabout on a planet and encountered a Jem’hadar leader with a very unusual request.

He wants Bashir to help cure his men of their addiction to ketracel white, the synthetic drug created by the Founders to keep their foot soldiers in line.

Unraveling The Episode

What the Star Trek: Discovery episode didn’t touch on with the reference to DS9 is what made Bopak III so remarkable. The Jem’hadar leader in that episode had previously been stranded there and was no longer dependent on ketracel white; he thought Bashir could use the planet to cure the other soldiers’ addictions, but the doctor discovers the leader was never actually addicted in the first place.

While Bashir wants to stay true to the Hippocratic Oath and stay on the planet to develop a cure, O’Brien sabotages his research and gets them to the repaired runabout before the increasingly frenzied Jem’hadar can kill them.

DS9’s Enduring Impact

The episode is one of Deep Space Nine’s best for several reasons: it gives great characterization to Bashir and O’Brien, furthers our knowledge of the mysterious Jem’hadar, and gives us a classic Star Trek morality conundrum to ponder.

Namely, whether O’Brien did the right thing or not. It’s obviously just meant as a little Easter egg for fans, but I found the Star Trek: Discovery reference to this DS9 planet disappointing because it turned one of the best eps into a punchline.

The line also brings up questions the franchise is never likely to answer, including why Moll even knows the name of an uninhabited (at least, in the 24th century) jungle planet in the Gamma Quadrant.

Fandom Frustrations

Star Trek: Discovery mocking DS9 isn’t such a big deal in the grand scheme of things, especially because the final season has, despite being predictable at times, been generally very engaging. As a fanboy, though, it still rankles a bit to see the most controversial Trek show turning the best Trek series ever made into a punchline.

It seems Moll might need to absorb some wisdom from some 21st-century pop culture that might as well be an old Vulcan proverb, you come at the king, you best not miss.

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