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Aboard a T'Lani vessel, Dr. Bashir and Miles O'Brien assist the T'Lani and the Kellerun in the destruction of the Harvester, a biological agent that was used in the long war between the two planets. Suddenly two Kellerun soldiers enter the room and begin firing. The two Starfleet officers manage to beam down to the planet T'Lani III, but O'Brien has been infected with Harvester. Kellerun and T'Lani officials inform Deep Space 9 that the two officers are dead. But Keiko O'Brien notices an inconsistency in the security tape because she insists on her husband never drinking coffee in the late afternoon. In orbit of T'Lani Dax and Sisko discover that the shuttle log has been tampered with as well. Bashir and the ailing O'Brien work on sending a distress call, and they can be beamed up just when T'Lani and Kellerun soldiers have arrived to execute them because they know too much about the bioweapon. Sacrificing one of the two runabouts, the four Starfleet officers escape the T'Lani cruiser. Back on Deep Space 9 Miles O'Brien is puzzled about his wife's suspicion because he actually does drink coffee in the afternoon.

Errors and Explanations

The Nitpickers Guide for Deep Space Nine Trekkers

Plot Oversights

  1. When the assassins burst into the lab to kill everyone on sight, aren't they just a tad early? After all, Bashir hasn't dispensed with the last batch of harvesters yet. They probably expected Bashir and O’Brien to have finished.
  2. Bashir must be a traditionalist. Prior to the episode we learn that he had given his diaries from medical school to Dax so she would understand him better. Believing that Bashir is dead, she wonders to Kira if she should send them back to his parents. Wouldn’t they be stored as optical data in a computer? Why not just transmit a copy of the files? Did Bashir actually write out a diary using pen and paper? Perhaps the diaries are stored as files on an optical chip, and that is what is Dax is considering sending, as opposed to transmitting the files. (A transmission could easily be blocked or intercepted). CdnTim 1641 EST 4 Feb 2021 - perhaps they are digital, and Dax is wondering whether she should send them to Bashir's parents and delete them, out of respect for him.
  3. Once Sisko beams Bashir and O'Brien up to his runabout from the surface of T'Lani Ill, the T'Lani cruiser blocks all transmissions and short- range sensors to prevent them from contacting Starfleet. Since the inversion field put out by the T' Lani cruiser has blinded its own sensors as well, Sisko beams everyone to the runabout used by Bashir and O'Brien when they came to the system. He then remote-pilots the other runabout to make it look like he's trying to run away. Of course, the T'Lani cruiser gives chase and fires a warning shot at the empty runabout. Sisko then hails the cruiser - probably using some kind of subspace relay on the fleeing runabout - and tells the T'Lani ambassador that firing on the vessel will be an act of war. Moments later, the T 'Lani ambassador destroys the empty runabout, supposedly giving Sisko and company time to escape. Was Sisko just blustering, or is the Federation now at war with the T'Lani and the Kellerun? The Federation Council probably arranged a diplomatic solution. CdnTim 1642 EST 4 Feb 2021 - Committing an act of war doesn't mean that war is automatically declared; its a serious step that gives the Federation casus belli to respond militarily, but the choice to do so still has to be made.
  4. And speaking of Sisko and company making their escape, why didn't the T 'Lani cruiser go after them? Their ambassador says the cruiser is no match for a runabout. Sure, the runabout has a little bit of a head start, but couldn't the cruiser close the gap before the runabout made it back to DS9? The runabout may be too fast and manoeuvrable for the cruiser crew to cope with.

Equipment Oddities

  1. The episode opens with Bashir struggling to find a way to destroy the harvesters. Here's a novel idea: Why not use the transporter? Could these harvesters survive if they were dismantled into their quantum particles and sprayed into space? 1) This could contaminate the entire transporter system. 2) The transporter may be programmed not to transport such dangerous materials. 3) Even if the transport block could be over-ridden, the transporter trace records could conceivably contain enough information to allow the weapons to be recreated. CdnTim 1644 EST 4 Feb 2021 - given how common transporter tech is, the harvesters may generate a technobabble field to defend against that.
  2. Bashir and O'Brien fend off the first wave of assassins, only to find that they can't contact the computer on their runabout. Initially they wanted to beam back to the ship and escape. Instead they use the lab's transporter to beam down to the surface of the planet. Ultimately this proved to be the correct thing to do, but why didn't they use the lab's transporter to beam to the runabout? The lab’s transporter may be designed to only allow transport between the lab and the planet.
  3. This episode predicts an end of an era for actors and actresses. To prove their concocted story about the death of O'Brien and Bashir, the T'Lani and Kellerun ambassadors present Sisko with a faked visual record. One must assume that Dax or somebody checked the record to make sure it was authentic as part of the routine investigation into the death of a Starfleet officer. Amazingly enough, the record is so flawless that everyone buys into this story until Keiko finds what she believes is a nit in it! In other words, someone took footage of our heroes, rearranged it to fit their scenario - even added whole sentences to O'Brien's dialogue - and no one could tell. Can virtual actors be far behind? Maybe the T’Lani used some form of holodeck style technology. CdnTim 1645 EST 4 Feb 2021 - Even discounting later installments of Star Trek, it's already clear that holodecks can do this. I'm not even sure this is a nit? As for human actors, why would they go extinct? People still enjoy any number of home-made and hand-crafted things, knowing you're watching real performers may have its own mystique!

Continuity and Production Problems

  1. After the harvester droplet falls on his forearm, O'Brien starts to get up. Then the shot changes and suddenIy he holds a phaser rifle. He could have picked up the rifle while getting up.
  2. Investigating the "death" of Bashir and O'Brien, Sisko beams aboard the T 'Lani cruiser that houses the lab where the harvesters were destroyed. As Sisko questions the T'Lani ambassador, Dax pages the commander from a runabout. Listen carefully and you'll hear Sisko's communicator chirp three times in a row! This could be an experimental setting.
  3. Apparently, the Ferengi sold some supplies to the T Lani. When O'Brien asks Bashir if he's talked with his former girlfriend lately, there's a box in the lower left-hand corner of the screen that has a Ferengi logo on it. Perhaps trade with the Ferengi led to the two sides became aware of the possibility of Starfleet help with the Harvester problem.

Nit Central

  1. Chris booton on Thursday, January 14, 1999 - 6:30 am: At the end the alien leader says that O’Brien and Bashier now have knowledge of the weapon and must be killed so that knowledge will not spread and the weapon will never come back. So how come no one offers to purge their memories of the events of them destroying and learning about it after they get back? Once this is done then can be told that due to complications their memories had to be erased and what happened would be classified, or better yet considered to 'never have happened'.That would cause too many problems, even if the procedure was successful.
  2. Mark Wells on Wednesday, August 18, 1999 - 2:50 am: Keiko figures out that the recording of O'Brien getting toasted is fake because it's 1500 and he's drinking coffee. She says that coffee keeps him up at night. Someone else says that maybe it's tea. Keiko answers that it contains vegetable oils and caffeine, so it has to be coffee.
    Doesn't she know that tea also contains vegetable oils and caffeine? Isn't she a botanist? (Of course, O'Brien probably wouldn't drink tea in the late afternoon either, but I'd expect her to point that out instead of sounding severely clue-deprived.) David on Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - 9:20 am: Tea has theophylline in it as well, which is how you can distinguish it from coffee. :-)
  3. Keith Alan Morgan (Kmorgan) on Monday, September 11, 2000 - 11:13 pm: Why does Julian have to tell the computer what test this is? I thought computers normally keep track of that sort of thing? This could be a double check, to ensure the records are correct.
  4. Since the Harvesters were splattered all over the room, doesn't that make the room and everything in it a bio-hazard? Mike Nuss on Wednesday, March 02, 2005 - 9:06 pm: Presumably they cleaned it up.
  5. The alleged cause of O'Brien & Bashir's deaths is a weapon that vaporizes clothes and the objects they are holding, but leaves the chairs and workstations undamaged, and Sisko believes it??? Mike Nuss on Wednesday, March 02, 2005 - 9:06 pm: Odo said he had heard of such weapons before. It was a radiation pulse that only affected organic material. Not much more unrealistic than anything else in Trek. KAM on Thursday, March 03, 2005 - 1:48 am: It was a radiation pulse that only affected organic material. So how did it destroy the com badges? (Been so long I don't remember if any pads or coffee cups were 'destroyed' as well.) Mike Nuss on Saturday, March 05, 2005 - 12:36 am: Good point. Maybe it also destroyed anything that was physically touching the organic material, aside from the deck plating, which was presumably made of some strong alloy. I still don't think that Sisko's acceptance of the story is a nit, because Odo specifically said that he had heard of such devices, and Sisko had no reason to doubt him. Since this was planned in advance, I'm sure they came up with a story that they knew would be plausible to Starfleet, even if it's not plausible to us.
  6. Why does DS9 need to contact Starfleet for replacements of Chief O'Brien and Dr. Bashir? Can't Sisko promote from within? Mike Nuss on Wednesday, March 02, 2005 - 9:06 pm: He could, but maybe no one is qualified.dotter31 on Monday, April 24, 2006 - 9:40 am: Maybe Sisko was considering promoting someone already there, but he would still need to contact Starfleet to get replacements either to fill the positions or to replace whoever filled them.
  7. Julian gave Dax his diaries so she could understand him better. You don't think this contained information about his genetic enhancements, do you? Rick Godman on Tuesday, November 11, 2003 - 3:11 am: She tells Kira they contain his thoughts, dreams, hopes, fears of failing... then says a minute later she never actually read them! How did she know every detail of what was in them then? Mike Nuss on Wednesday, March 02, 2005 - 9:06 pm: I would guess that Bashir told her something like, "I want you to have these. They will help you understand me, because they contain my thoughts, dreams, hopes, fears of failing..." He does like to talk about himself.
  8. Mike Nuss on Wednesday, March 02, 2005 - 9:06 pm: Shouldn't the Federation be at war with these people now? They tried to murder four Starfleet officers and destroyed a Federation ship. The Federation prefers to avoid initiating conflict wherever possible, so probably negotiated a diplomatic solution.
  9. I wish that they had shown a little more outrage. Those people asked for Julian and O'Brien's help, knowing that they were going to murder them. I wanted Julian or O'Brien or Sisko to throw that in their faces.That could have resulted in a diplomatic row!
  10. Aaron Dotter (Dotter31) on Sunday, November 05, 2006 - 12:16 pm: If they wanted to destroy these weapons, why not just send them into the star of that system, or shove them into a black hole? 1) Sending them into the system’s star could conceivably destabilise it. 2) There may not be a black hole close enough to the planet, and sending them further away could increase the risk of them being stolen.

Ex Astris Scientia

  1. Holland Rhodes The data clip contains a spectroscopic analysis of what O'Brien was drinking? Is that a joke? The whole clip was a fake, why would they go to the trouble of adding a coffee analysis to it? A more plausible and quicker way for Keiko to notice O'Brien drinking coffee would be for him to say so, "Ack! This coffee is still too hot" or something like that. Maybe the spectroscopic analysis was quicker and easier to add, while being more likely to stand up to close examination. CdnTim 1651 EST 4 Feb 2021 - Maybe 24th century videos, recordings, etc. record high-resolution and multi-spectrum information as a matter of course? The technology is clearly there, and it may come in handy (also, some species probably see in slightly different wavelengths, so a display calibrated for humans might look strange to a Vulcan). Once that level of detail is standard, how would you justify not including it in the fake? For a 21st century analysis, it would be like complaining that security footage is high-resolution enough to let someone see that a tattoo is missing...if it's too blurry, that looks suspicious too!


  1. The stardate for this episode was 47529.4 in the script, but it was omitted from the final televised version. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion - A Series Guide and Script Library)

Deep Space Nine Season 2
The Homecoming I The Circle I The Siege I Invasive Procedures I Cardassians I Melora I Rules of Acquisition I Necessary Evil I Second Sight I Sanctuary I Rivals I The Alternate I Armageddon Game I Whispers I Paradise I Shadowplay I Playing God I Profit and Loss I Blood Oath I The Maquis Part 1 I The Maquis Part 2 I The Wire I Crossover I The Collaborator I Tribunal I The Jem’Hadar