Scientifically ridiculous? Yep. Hilarious and heart-warming? Double YEP!
Memory Alpha has the goods - read it and cry (laughing).
We can't entirely look beyond the missed opportunities (vis a vis the Jem'hadar class system), the zany, completely nonsensical science (why would a nebula under compression cause the molecules in a person's body to shrink without instant death...and why would being pulled out of the compression at a different angle fail to reverse the process...for that matter...why wouldn't they get even smaller when they went back in??) and some of the "on the nose" humor. But we can try! I love the score in this episode...I love the many ways they used the size of the shuttlecraft and its' inhabitants to their advantage in creating completely unique perspectives...I love the humor, though I recognize that a lot of it comes from the actors and from my love of crack sci-fi, rather than from the brilliance of the authors. It all works very well.
See...it's episodes like this that make clear the differences between DS9 and Voyager. On Voyager, they tried their hand at many forms of "high concept fluff" science fiction. Why didn't most of them work? Because, for starters, the characters weren't likable enough for us to enjoy their interactions in strange situations like the one faced by Dax, Bashir and O'Brien here. Also, Voyager had a tendency to make its' episodes entirely about the high concept being played with...the problem had everything to do with the concept, the solution had to be at least as zany as the problem, and rarely did it matter what people were involved. On DS9, the high concept episodes are about PEOPLE facing strange environments or problems...in this episode, the problem isn't the size of the Rubicon. The problem is the Jem'hadar attack...and all of the crazy problem-solving they have to do with their size limitations, while amusing and creative, aren't the point, nor is the restoration of their normal heights the resolution of that problem. We don't even show the process of making them tall again, because we don't care how they do it. We care about the Jem'hadar on the Defiant. They understood this on TNG, at least by the end of the series. You had episodes like "Rascals" in which the crew nonsensically gets turned into pre-teens...we don't care how they fix it...the problem is the Ferengi invasion, not their juvenile appearance. But on Voyager, you cared about how they'd fix the spatial anomaly or the Holodeck gone awry or the inexplicable amnesia or whatever it was that week, and the answer was always five parts bullshit, one part boring.
This plot is DEFINITELY a bit of a stretch, but the characterization keeps the score solid.
You won't even notice the acting in this episode...and that's a good thing. See, you think it's the script that's hilarious, but if the words were read by people doing a one-act play in their college theater class, it would not be all that funny. No...the humor comes from the reaction takes and the interpersonal interactions. They never miss a chance to make you giggle.
No messages need apply.
KIRA: So, how small are they?
NOG: The miniaturisation process won't begin until the runabout reaches the edge of the accretion disc.
KIRA: I see. And then they'll begin to shrink?
NOG: Yes, sir.
SISKO: Major, are you laughing at our investigation of this subspace anomaly?
KIRA: No, sir.
WORF: The data collected here could provide Starfleet with the key to creating transwarp corridors through space. It could give us a substantial tactical advantage over the Dominion.
KIRA: It's very important research. What? I'm not laughing. Just because we are shrinking three people to the size of
(And collapses in hysterical laughter.)
NOG: Smaller, actually.
WORF: I do not see what is so humourous about being small.
NOG: Neither do I. (HA!)
DAX [OC]: (static starting to break in) I'll send you a postcard. Tell Worf I look forward to hearing his poem. I'll bet it'll be inspiring. We'll talk to you again once we've left the accretion disc and reversed the effects of the compression. Rubicon out.
SISKO: Good luck, Rubicon.
NOG: We've lost their signal, Captain.
SISKO: Thank you, Ensign. Mister Worf. Poem?
WORF: It is an ancient Klingon tradition to commemorate an important event with a poem. Jadzia asked me to compose one for this occasion.
SISKO: Well, what have you got so far?
NOG: They've penetrated the accretion disc.
KIRA: Now is it my imagination, or did the kid just cover for him? (LOL)
SISKO: This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
WORF: They are getting smaller.
O'BRIEN: I don't feel any smaller.
BASHIR: Well, believe it or not, you're about a metre tall and shrinking fast. In a few minutes, you're going to be half the size of a comm. badge.
O'BRIEN: There's a comforting thought.
BASHIR: The gamma ray flux is increasing. We should close the blast
DAX: Take a last look. We're on sensors from here on.
O'BRIEN: Now you're certain we'll return to normal size once we clear the anomaly?
DAX: Our probes did. You saw the data. Something wrong?
O'BRIEN: No, I'm fine. I'm just not in love with the idea of being small. What are you smirking at? You're as small as I am.
BASHIR: Actually, you're sitting one point one four metres closer to the focal point of the anomaly, which means you've shrunk point zero four percent more than I have.
KUDAK'ETAN: The Defiant is ours.
GELNON [on viewscreen]: Good. Very, very good. I must admit, I was initially quite sceptical about you and the other new Jem'Hadar bred in this quadrant, but this is a most impressive debut. Wouldn't you agree, Elder?
IXTANA'RAX: The takeover of the ship was competently executed.
GELNON [on viewscreen]: Do I detect a note of jealousy in your voice? I'm sure it must be difficult for you to watch a new race of Jem'Hadar beginning to supplant you and the other members of the old guard.
IXTANA'RAX: I serve the Founders. If it is their will to create a new race, then that is the order of things.
GELNON [on viewscreen]: But?
IXTANA'RAX: But the Jem'Hadar bred here in the Alpha Quadrant have not proven themselves superior to those from the Gamma Quadrant. At least not yet.
KUDAK'ETAN: Not yet? It was the Alphas who made this victory possible. If it were not for us, you would never (iiiinteresting)
O'BRIEN: I thought you said we'd return to our normal size once we left the anomaly.
BASHIR: We should have.
DAX: We didn't leave the anomaly by the same path at which we entered it.
BASHIR: So the process failed to reverse itself.
O'BRIEN: Are you telling me that I'm going to be this bloody tall for the rest of my life? (five centimetres)
BASHIR: This bloody tall, actually. (one centimetre) But don't worry. All we have to do to regain our original size is re-enter the anomaly and follow our original trajectory back out.
O'BRIEN: In theory.
BASHIR: In theory.
KUDAK'ETAN: No. The impulse engines sustained only minor damage in our attack, but the warp drive was severely damaged. I need your technical expertise in order to repair it. Bring Captain to the engine room so he may begin necessary repairs.
IXTANA'RAX: It's a mistake. Giving him access to the engine room will only give him an opportunity to retake the ship. In fact, he's working on a plan at this very moment.
KUDAK'ETAN: I was not aware that telepathy was a Gamma characteristic.
IXTANA'RAX: I know what he's thinking because it's exactly what I would be doing in his position. You should kill him now, before he has a chance to put his plan into motion.
KUDAK'ETAN: You are the Second. I am the First. Do not presume to tell me what to do.
SISKO: I'm glad the two of you worked that out. Now, what makes you think I'm going to help you?
KUDAK'ETAN: Your choice is to repair the warp drive or watch me execute your crew one at a time. Have Sixth Duran'Adar select one of the prisoners for execution and bring him to the bridge!
SISKO: I can't do this job alone. I'm going to need some of my crew.
KUDAK'ETAN: How many?
IXTANA'RAX: I strongly suggest that you refuse this request.
SISKO: You have the weapons. Are you afraid you can't handle a few unarmed prisoners?
IXTANA'RAX: I won't be baited by a prisoner, and neither should you.
SISKO: Okay. I'm in no hurry to reach a Dominion prison camp. if you want me to teach your men how to repair the warp drive, that's fine with me. We'll begin with primary command and control systems. That should take about six hours. Then we will move up to basic engineering theory for a class seven warp drive. Then
KUDAK'ETAN: You may have the three other Bridge officers, but that is all. And I am not interested in any more of your suggestions. Now take him to the engine room.
O'BRIEN: We've just about reached the bi-polar flow junction, I think.
BASHIR: You think?
O'BRIEN: I'm not used to seeing things from this perspective. Once we reach the flow junction we should be able to go up into the secondary warp plasma feed and then exit via the diagnostic panel.
BASHIR: This conduit's filthy, Chief. Don't you ever clean up in here?
DAX: All right, all right. Let's not badger the Chief.
O'BRIEN: Thank you.
BASHIR: I'm sorry. It was very small of me. (BAHAHAHAAAAHAHAAA!!!!)
IXTANA'RAX: The First may be a fool, but I am not.
SISKO: Then it is a pity for you that you are not the First.
IXTANA'RAX: I was, until two days ago. If we had captured you while I was in command we wouldn't be having this conversation. Deck two, section five.
SISKO: What happened?
IXTANA'RAX: He is an Alpha, I am a Gamma. His DNA and psychological profile are specifically designed for combat in this quadrant. The Founders believe that makes him a better leader.
SISKO: What do you believe?
IXTANA'RAX: I believe I've given you enough information already.
O'BRIEN: Uh oh.
DAX: What is it?
O'BRIEN: The magnetic plasma guides are heating up.
DAX: They must have initiated the impulse prestart sequence.
BASHIR: What does that mean, then?
DAX: It means this entire conduit is about to be filled with superheated plasma.
BASHIR: When you say superheated?
O'BRIEN: If I can't find another way out of here, we'll be vaporised. Is that clear?
KUDAK'ETAN: Why is the warp drive not online yet?
IXTANA'RAX: He's stalling.
SISKO: Stalling? Your Second is the one who's slowing down the work. He countermands my orders, arbitrarily reassigns my crew. I can't get any work done in here.
KUDAK'ETAN: You were told to watch them, not to interfere with them.
IXTANA'RAX: You're playing right into his hands. Don't you see that?
KUDAK'ETAN: Captain Sisko, you have thirty minutes to restore warp power, or I will kill her, (Kira) and another of your crew every fifteen minutes until you do. And you, Second, will no longer interfere with their work.
KIRA: I'm about ten minutes away from initiating the prestart sequence on the warp drive. How's Nog doing?
SISKO: Not good. You'll have to find another problem.
KIRA: (beep) Too fast! Reinitialise the system and start again, but do it at about half the speed this time. He's not stupid. He's already got the entire command and control system committed to memory. I can't keep him fooled forever.
SISKO: In a battle of wits between you and him, I'll bet on you every time.
KIRA: What kind of odds are you giving?
O'BRIEN: Don't hit it too hard. It could shatter the control panel.
DAX: Don't worry. I have a light touch.
BASHIR: Not according to Worf. (get a Look) What? (LOL!)
O'BRIEN: I suppose I could reroute the encryption subprocessors manually.
O'BRIEN: But I'd have to leave the ship to do it. And I have to say I'm not fond of the idea. I can think of about a thousand ways a one centimetre man could get fried walking around inside a circuit housing.
BASHIR: Relax, Miles. You wouldn't be able go out there even if you wanted to. You wouldn't be able to breathe. The oxygen molecules outside are almost two thousand times larger than anything your haemoglobin could assimilate. You'd suffocate.
O'BRIEN: Well, that takes care of that idea.
DAX: Unless. Circuit housings are airtight. I could beam a bubble of compressed air ahead of you and it would expand to fill the housing.
BASHIR: It should work. The air would be thin, but you'd be able to breathe for about twenty minutes.
O'BRIEN: And then?
BASHIR: You'd pass out.
O'BRIEN: We'd pass out. You're coming with me.
O'BRIEN: All right. If we beamed into the primary safeties junction, we should see a cluster of heuristic subprocessors next to a rectilinear expansion module. The question is, what does a rectilinear expansion module look like when you're one centimetre tall?
BASHIR: What? I haven't the faintest idea, but it's amazing. It's like we're in the middle of an optronic forest.
O'BRIEN: Looks like we need to go. Julian, stop!
(Bashir is about to sit down.)
O'BRIEN: That chip behind you is carrying twenty microamps of electric current. Now, that's not very much
BASHIR: But it's enough to fry every synapse in my tiny body. Thanks for the tip.
O'BRIEN: All right, stay right behind me. And don't touch anything without asking.
BASHIR: Believe me, I won't.
BASHIR: Miles, we're lost, aren't we?
O'BRIEN: Yes, we're lost! I can draw these circuits in my sleep. I've just never seen them from this perspective.
BASHIR: Disorientation is one of the effects of hypoxia, lack of oxygen. Need to focus on a landmark. There. That large isolinear chip, number five eight nine six six stroke delta. What is it?
O'BRIEN: Julian, there are two dozen six six delta's in the asymmetric encryption circuits alone.
BASHIR: All right, then what's this here at it's base?
O'BRIEN: That's a four way interlink shunt.
BASHIR: So that would mean that this chip is?
O'BRIEN: I don't know. I told you, they all look the same to me.
BASHIR: All right, don't look at it.
BASHIR: Close your eyes, use your memory. Okay. There's a four way shunt at the base of a eight five nine six six stroke delta isolinear chip, which is where?
O'BRIEN: The only four way shunt near a six six delta is at the base of the master differential relay. That's got to be it.
BASHIR: So the interlink we want has to be?
O'BRIEN: That way.
O'BRIEN: Dax, upper rail.
DAX: I've got him.
(It's a miss. Kira gets a weapon from the corpse and Work breaks Kudak'Etan's neck. Nog tries to take on another, but gets thrown into a corner. Worf and a Jem'Hadar wrestle as the one on the upper level fires at Sisko, who moves to another panel. )
DAX: This guy's really starting to get on my nerves.
BASHIR: I have got torpedo lock.
(The Jem'Hadar falls over the rail. Kira shoots Ixtana'Rax then the one who is attacking Sisko, and Worf disposes of the last one.)
SISKO: I'm flooding all compartments except the engine room with anesthesine gas. Major, get that virus out of the computer before somebody on the bridge engages the warp drive.
KIRA: Aye, sir.
SISKO: He should've listened to you and killed me when he had the chance.
IXTANA'RAX: He was a First. They don't need to listen. Obedience brings Victory and Victory is (dies) (I always yell "DEATH!!" here)
DAX: Is that your poem?
WORF: Yes. Bloodwine.
DAX: Can I hear it?
WORF: It is not finished yet.
DAX: Please, just the first line?
WORF: All right. But it is my first poem.
DAX: I understand.
WORF: And I have worked very hard and very long on this.
DAX: I know.
WORF: And I do not wish to be ridiculed.
DAX: I promise.
WORF: Very well. (declaims) This is the story of a little ship that took a little trip. What do you think?
DAX: It's, er, well, it rhymes. (takes the PADD) There's nothing on this PADD!
(Odo enters and walks over to the bar where O'Brien and Bashir are talking to Morn and a dabo girl.)
BASHIR: We were just minding our own business when suddenly, right there in front of us, was this immense Jem'Hadar.
O'BRIEN: He looked as tall as a Seltan carnosaur. We were so close, you could see the veins throbbing in his eyeballs. We swung around and ducked behind the operations console. I knew we had to do was get our sensors back online if we were going to be any help to the Captain and the others. So I said to Julian
BASHIR: Is there something wrong?
ODO: Are you sure you've returned to your normal size?
O'BRIEN: Of course.
ODO: Well, you both appear to be a couple of centimetres shorter than you were the last time I saw you. A changeling notices that sort of thing.
(The dabo girl stands up straight. She is very tall.)
QUARK: I didn't want to say anything, but you do look a little on the petite side.
(Bashir and O'Brien leave quickly, and Odo and Quark step down from a small platform.)
QUARK: And they say you don't have a sense of humour. (awesome)