Season Six, Episode 22
Written by Ronald D Moore
Directed by Michael Vejar
Music by Paul Baillargeon
Main Cast:
Avery Brooks as Captain Benjamin Sisko
Rene Auberjonois as Odo
Michael Dorn as Lt Cmdr Worf
Terry Farrell as Lt Cmdr Jadzia Dax
Cirroc Lofton as Jake Sisko
Colm Meaney as Chief Miles O'Brien
Armin Shimerman as Quark
Alexander Siddig as Dr Julian Bashir
Nana Visitor as Major Kira Nerys

Guest Stars:
Aron Eisenberg as Lt. Cmdr. Nog
Paul Popowich as Captain Tim Watters
Courtney Peldon as Commander Karen Farris
David Drew Gallagher as Lt. Riley Aldrin Shepard
Ashley Brianne McDonogh as Chief Dorian Collins


Jake and Nog come across the USS Valiant, a starship lost behind enemy lines for several months. It is commanded by Red Squad, an elite group of Starfleet cadets from the Academy, who are determined to achieve glory on the battlefield, no matter what the cost.

Like a number of episodes this season, Valiant uses the Dominion war as a backdrop and in this case attempts to illustrate the effects of war on a ship full of deluded Starfleet cadets who are a little too patriotic for their own good. It's an interesting, if unoriginal premise -- but unfortunately it's not executed with nearly enough lustre to capitalise on this potential. It has it's moments, but generally it left very little mark on me. 

There's certainly drama to be had with misguided young cadets looking for martyrdom, and there are some interesting ideas, good performances and great special effects floating around. But in spite of this, Valiant comes across as a rather flat, surprisingly routine affair. I didn't much care about the "Red Squad" and with perhaps one exception, it was difficult to feel that much sympathy for the characters despite the tragic nature of the story. Captain Watters is no different to any of the other deranged Starfleet nutcases we've seen - Admiral Leyton, Commodore Decker, Benjamin Maxwell and Tom Riker to name a few. I very much got a feeling of "been there, done that". The plotting was obvious, the story held little in the way of surprises and, despite the tragic undertones, there's virtually nothing to get us emotionally involved with the characters or situation. 

But I think Valiant's worst failing, and certainly the one that cripples it the most, is its lack of passion. There are may be some nice ingredients here, but there's absolutely nothing to bind them together. As a supposedly rousing, poignant tale of heroic patriotism gone awry it falls pretty flat. It's simply not that engaging and it fails to get us involved with the characters or the events affecting them. I was left watching the eventual destruction of the Valiant feeling surprisingly unfazed by it all. I simply didn't care enough about the ship or it's crew or plight to feel any sense of loss or emotion. After all, we knew that "our" characters, Jake and Nog were gonna escape -- so who cares? In order to carry off an effective tragedy it must be impeccably well set-up. This wasn't. 

There are a number of plot holes -- or at best plot improbabilities. Considering the Valiant has been lost in Dominion space for months, it seemed pretty near Federation space to me. And I don't necessarily have a problem with Cadets training on a starship, but a Defiant-class warship? Aren't these things state-of-the-art as far as Starfleet is concerned? Why let Starfleet Cadets train on them when they (the ships, that is!) are so desperately-needed out on the front-line fighting the Dominion? (Of course, we know the answer -- because by using a Defiant-class ship, the producers could just use the existing Defiant model and sets instead of building new ones!). But I doubt after this travesty Starfleet will be trusting airhead Cadets with their much-needed resources! What's the significance of "Red Squad", anyway? Are they meant to be more interesting than the average Starfleet Cadet or something? :-) Jake and Nog certainly beat the odds when they were two of the three people that escaped alive -- what a surprise! And isn't having the Defiant, of all ships, rescue them more than a tad unlikely?! Space is big, people! There was some decent material for Jake and Nog, but Jake-as-a-reporter is getting extremely tedious. The writers really have to do something with the character because if I have to listen to him quoting dreadful slogans like  "the public has a right to know" much longer I might just end up throwing items of furniture at the TV. I have no problems with Jake being a reporter -- but why does he have to be one of the stereotypical, pain-in-the-ass variety? 

Anyway, I'll just reiterate that whilst it's hardly anything to get excited about, Valiant is still a perfectly watchable hour. There are one or two lovely touches (I loved Dorian's story about sunrise on the moon) and, for the most part, the acting was quite good. It's hard to go wrong with Cirroc Lofton and Aron Eisenberg, both of whom are fine young actors -- and Paul Popwich gave a strong performance as Watters, too. I liked Dorian, mainly because she was the most accessible of all the Valiant's crew (and the only one who didn't seem like a brainwashed robot), but I wasn't too sure about the rest of the young cast. Maybe the writing was partially to blame, but the other characters came across as more than a little one-dimensional. On the directing front it's always nice to see Michael Vejar take the helm, but whilst certainly proficient I wouldn't consider this one of his more outstanding efforts. The special effects were outstanding, though - particularly the destruction of the Valiant which was breath-taking. 

On a deeper level there are actually some rather disturbing undertones to this episode. The fact these are merely Cadets was disturbing more than anything. Remember Eddington's venemous speech in For the Cause about how Starfleet are a bunch of fascists who are worse than the Borg? (Of course, who can forget?!). Well, I'm afraid to say it, but he's got a very real point. These young Cadets have been brain-washed by Federation dogma and as a result are, as Jake puts it, delusional fanatics looking for martyrdom. These guys have a severely distorted, unhealthy patriotism that verges on obssession -- and there's a plethora of ego, gung-ho heroics and fascist discipline on the go. Is meant to be this true to life? I don't know...but it's not something I feel particularly comfortable seeing on Trek. 

I've always secretly had my doubts about Starfleet, and the constantly condescending "we are superior" diatribes seen on TOS and TNG, makes Roddenberry's vision of a supposedly "utopian" society seem like a sham. But I've never seen such concrete evidence of this, and I find it quite...disturbing. This ship full of Cadets aren't that much different to a lot of the Jem'Hadar we've seen! It wouldn't have been much of a stretch to have Watters shouting slogans like "Victory is life!" in the mess hall. Yikes. 

Anyway, I've said all I want to say about this one. It's decently executed, but devoid of anything in the way of passion or drive. Which is ironic, because that's what the whole episode is supposed to be about! 

Rating: 5

What did you think of this review? Why not share your thoughts by MAILING ME? All feedback is gratefully appreciated (and, yes, I can take criticism but keep it friendly, OK! :-))

Disclaimer For the record, I acknowledge that Paramount Pictures/Viacom owns all rights to "Star Trek" and this site is here not to infringe on this copyright, but to support and promote interest in the show/s. Yadda yadda yadda.
All reviews on this site are copyright and are not to be re-produced or re-used without prior consent of the author.

Back to DS9 Index  /  Back to Home / TNG Reviews / Voyager Reviews