the story: O'Brien and Bashir bond as they attempt to survive a civilization's purge of its deadly past.
what it's all about: It's sometimes tough to summarize in a single line what an episode's about, which you can tell was a particular challenge for "Armageddon Game," which is probably as close to an original series episode as Deep Space Nine ever got, a commentary not only on the ludicrousness of war but how people who want to end it tend to act about as ruthlessly as those who participate in it.
But more than that (although that's a valid reason to value the episode, too), it's the episode where O'Brien and Bashir finally become friends, a friendship that ends up helping define the rest of the series. This is classic franchise material, too (Enterprise's "Shuttlepod One" and 2009's Star Trek are two examples of this same story archetype). Watching as they struggle past their differences even as they struggle just to survive is surprisingly fun.
But more than that is some excellent Keiko O'Brien material, too, one of the few times she was not, for all intents and purposes, depicted as a shrew or a helpless bystander (whether in Deep Space Nine or Next Generation before it). In fact, "Armageddon Game" can obviously be viewed a lot of ways, but as arguably the best Keiko episode, perhaps best of all.
In that regard, it features one truly classic scene, at the end of the episode, no less. The whole subplot involves a ruse on the part of the aliens O'Brien and Bashir helped and were betrayed by, their attempts to kill them and also tell the Federation they were dead already (it's so complicated, just keeping track of that is a fun part of the episode, too!), that Keiko is informed her husband is dead, but refuses to believe it, even coming up with perfectly logical justification for believing the aliens are, if not outright lying, hiding something, and she becomes convinced because of one thing she's absolutely sure about: O'Brien never has coffee in the afternoon, which the recording she's shown features him doing.
Except in the final scene, she learns that he does. It's one of the classic scenes of the whole franchise. If it weren't for the fact that "Armageddon Game" doesn't particularly represent Deep Space Nine as a whole, it would be very easy to call it a classic.
But fans of the series have ample reason to remember it fondly all the same.
- franchise - Ironic observations about war, a favorite topic of the franchise, to be found within.
series- A series, however, that ended up with its two final seasons in a war ended up viewing the topic with additional, and ultimately unrelated, nuance.
- character - This is a big episode for O'Brien and Bashir.
- essential - But an even bigger one for Keiko!
Rosalind Chao (Keiko)