Deep Space Nine (DS9) Season 3
The Search I/II -
The House of Quark -
Equilibrium - Second Skin -
Civil Defense - Meridian - Defiant - Fascination - Past Tense I/II - Life Support - Heart of Stone
Destiny - Prophet Motive - Visionary - Distant Voices - Through the Looking Glass
Improbable Cause / The Die is Cast - Explorers - Family Business - Shakaar - Facets - The Adversary
Stardate 48212.4: Commander Sisko arrives at Deep Space 9 with the Defiant, the only Starfleet vessel built especially for combat and equipped with a Romulan cloaking device. His plan is to meet and to come to terms with the mysterious Founders of the Dominion in the Gamma Quadrant. Odo, who has been replaced by Commander Eddington as head of security, grudgingly joins the Defiant crew. They proceed into the Gamma Quadrant under cloak. Staring at a star chart of the sectors ahead, which show the way to a comm relay of the Vorta, a race belonging to the Dominion, Odo feels strangely attracted to a place called the Omarion Nebula. Dax and O'Brien have to be left behind on the communication relay on Callinon VII. Moreover, the Defiant, in spite of the cloaking, comes under attack by three Jem'Hadar vessels and is boarded. Odo manages to escape in a shuttle with an unconscious Kira and sets a course for the Omarion Nebula. Inside the nebula they land on a planet that turns out to be Odo's home. He is told by a female shapeshifter that their kind has sought refuge on this world after their species had been persecuted by the "Solids" for a long time. Meanwhile, Sisko and Bashir, traveling in a shuttle, are rescued by O'Brien and Dax, who have met up with the Founders. When the four arrive on Deep Space 9, peace talks are already on the way, the Founders being represented by a man named Borath. But the Romulans have been excluded, and Jem'Hadar soldiers continue to terrorize the station. Sisko, Garak, Dax, Bashir and O'Brien decide to collapse the wormhole in a suicide mission to protect the Alpha Quadrant from the hordes. On the shapeshifters' homeworld, however, Odo discovers a secret: Sisko and the other Defiant crew members are held prisoners. The are all unconscious, and the whole story about their return to Deep Space 9 was an illusion, a test of the Federation's determination. Moreover, Borath is not a Founder but a Vorta. The shapeshifters, Odo's species, are the real Founders. Odo demands that his friends be released and joins them on their way back to Deep Space 9, repelled by the criminal conduct of his people.
"The Jem'Hadar", the final episode of season 2, raised many expectations. The double feature "The Search" could fulfill them - for the most part. I have some points of criticism, yet I think an installment as exciting as this one deserves as many as eight points.
The first part comes with a lot of exposition as we get acquainted with T'Rul (who would never appear again though), with Eddington and most importantly with the Defiant. It takes almost twenty minutes until the mission finally begins. But the rest of the first part compensates for the time of waiting with the distinctive "submarine feel" aboard the cloaked Defiant and with an unprecedented deal of action.
The conflict between Odo and the new Starfleet security officer Eddington is rather disappointing. We've already had pretty much the same constellation in the first season. In "The Passenger" Odo was in a huff when he learned that Primmin, a Starfleet officer, was to take over some of his responsibilities, so seriously that Odd wanted to resign. It is only realistic that the same happens again, only that it's anything but original. Moreover, Odo falls into disgrace just before it would be discovered that the Founders, the Federation's new archenemies, are his people. It could have had a stronger impact, had the conflict emerged later.
Odo's problems with having Quark as his bunkmate on the Defiant is fortunately not extended beyond their initial quibbling. Odo's urge to go to the Omarion Nebula, on the other hand, appears to me as overemphasized and overplayed by René Auberjonois. I don't like how Odo keeps nagging everyone the way a child would do. Sure, he's been waiting for this opportunity his whole life, but somehow I think there should have been a more decent way for him to find his way home.
Another issue is that Starfleet's plan to get in touch with the Founders is rather inconsequential. It is certainly a nice move in the spirit of Gene Roddenberry that the Federation is not going to war over the destruction of the Odyssey but is trying to contact the Founders for negotiations in spite of everything. Well, the way Sisko initially speaks about the mission it almost sounds like "Oh, we've stepped onto their lawn, they have every right to be angry and kill us, and we'll have to apologize". Anyway, while it is still understandable that Starfleet would send a warship to demonstrate their readiness to fight if necessary, it is clearly a step into a very wrong direction to intrude into what has to be a secret military installation of the Dominion and steal data from there.
About the Defiant, I liked the tough little ship right from the start, although or just because it is not like any other Federation vessel we have ever seen. It is only disappointing to see how the ship (and the Romulan cloaking) fails as soon as on the first mission in the first combat. Well, we still see how impressively the pulse phasers work when they blow one of the Jem'Hadar fighters to pieces, but overall it is a shame how the Defiant is only saved by the apparent mercy of the Jem'Hadar, who were obviously ordered to leave the ship intact and to capture everyone alive. Just like in "The Jem'Hadar" when they spared the three runabouts.
I have a problem anyway with the whole scheme of the Dominion to test the readiness of the Federation to defend themselves by creating a rather absurd scenario, as is revealed at the end of part 2. Intelligence is of utmost importance for anyone who intends to go to war or to avert a war. But as already mentioned in my review of "The Jem'Hadar", it is useless and even counter-productive to gather intelligence so conspicuously. Overall, the idea to isolate some potential enemies, feed them with false information and observe what they make of it is much the same in both episodes anyway. The Dominion may be consequential with its methods to gather information, but it is also rather repetitive. Well, the scenario with the swift peace treaty that would force Sisko to hand over the station to the ruthless Dominion is thrilling as long as it lasts, but the resolution is rather lame. It's along the lines of episodes where everything turns out to have been just a dream or a holodeck simulation. Maybe it would have been a better idea, had some of the crew, and perhaps among Starfleet Command too, actually been brainwashed, mind-controlled or replaced by Changelings.
Other than that, the focus is on Odo and the seemingly lucky conclusion of his lifelong quest in the second part. I rather like this part of the story, especially since he is in character again once he has found the other Changelings and maintains his inherent skepticism, even as he experiences the link with the Female Founder as a form of "Changeling sex".
- In their first encounter the Jem'Hadar ships pass the Defiant at a distance of only 100,000 kilometers. This would be an incredible coincidence in the vastness of interstellar space, unless the Jem'Hadar were aware of the Defiant's presence already before they definitely picked up something and turned round.
- How can the Dominion create such a perfect simulation for Sisko, Dax, Bashir, O'Brien and T'Rul that at no point anyone noticed any inconsistencies? Granted, they may be able to extract every necessary piece of information from their minds. But it still should feel rather like a dream rather than like a physical holodeck simulation (of the kind that Riker experienced in TNG: "Future Imperfect"), and a dream is neither tangible nor internally consistent.
- Remarkable quotes:
- "Quark's settling into his quarters and asked me to relay his profound disappointment in the accommodations, and to inform you that he could get you in touch with several reputable interior decorators for a modest fee." (Dax, to Sisko)
- "You see, I have a dream. A dream that one day all people, human, Jem'Hadar, Ferengi, Cardassians, will stand together in peace around my dabo tables." (False Quark),"I'm afraid you have a loose thread right here." (False Garak, as he disables a Jem'Hadar with a hypospray)
- "I've devoted my life to the pursuit of justice, but justice means nothing to you, does it?" (Odo, to the Female Founder)
- Remarkable appearance: It is the first time that we see Salome Jens as the Female Founder. She previously played the Proto-Humanoid in TNG: "The Chase", with a similar make-up yet ironically in the role of the ancestor of all "Solids".
- Remarkable first times: Aside from the Defiant and her bridge, it is the first time that we see a Karemma, other Founders besides Odo, the linking of Founders, Odo's slightly revised make-up, Commander Eddington, Jadzia's massive "all up" hairstyle (fortunately also the last time), new comm badges and the wardroom on Deep Space 9.
- Remarkable set decoration: The obelisk on the Founders' homeworld looks like the one that was discovered in "The Alternate" and said to be a relic of Odo's people.
- Remarkable facts: According to the Female Founder, her species once explored the galaxy, but was hunted and killed by the "Solids". Odo was one of a hundred infants that was sent off to gain knowledge about the galaxy. The urge to return home was implanted into their genetic make-up. Thanks to the Bajoran Wormhole, Odo came back some 300 years earlier than expected.
Stardate not given: While in Quark's bar, the drunk Klingon Kozak accidentally falls into his own knife and dies. Quark, who sees an opportunity to revive his business, takes credit for slaying the Klingon. When Kozak's brother D'Ghor arrives, the paradoxical Klingon logic requires that Quark maintain his claim, because only this way Kozak would have died honorably and D'Ghor would spare the Ferengi's life. Kozak's wife Grillka, on the other hand, is vitally interested in rebutting Quark's pretension, for she could only inherit the reign over the House of Kozak if her husband had died accidentally; otherwise D'Ghor would be the heir. She takes Quark to Qo'noS to marry him, and Gowron instates the Ferengi as the provisional leader of the House of Quark. When the two discover that D'Ghor has been systematically harming Kozak's financial interests, they take the case to the High Council. D'Ghor now changes his strategy and disputes Quark's killing of Kozak. When he is about to attack a defenseless Quark, Gowron dishonors him. The Klingon Chancellor grants Grillka to lead the house herself, while Quark is divorced from her.
This episode has an awful start. It is so totally over the top how Quark, whose business is on a downturn because of the Dominion threat, is boasting with stabbing the Klingon and how the crowd is gawking and hanging on his lips. Even worse, the fact that Quark is a slayer of Klingons suddenly brings back the customers, in a dull herd instinct as already in "Rivals". This ought to have been toned down, especially since the story that evolves isn't all that bad, despite the farcical premise of a Klingon-Ferengi culture clash. Actually, it gained more depth with every minute.
I particularly like two scenes in which Quark strikes back and questions the Klingon concept of honor. The first is when Quark plays out his expertise in financial matters, uncovering D'Ghor's transactions to the disadvantage of Kozak's house. As he and Grillka express it unanimously, D'Ghor didn't act like a Klingon but rather like a Ferengi. The second one is the powerful scene when the duel with D'Ghor begins and Quark drops the bat'leth, accusing his opponent of planning to execute him. Quark could have left Qo'noS for good, but he decides to support Grillka and hopes that the Klingons may spare his life. Because he knows there is nothing honorable for Klingons in slaying a little Ferengi.
It took me some time to make sense of the Klingon inheritance laws. So the drunk Kozak was accidentally killed in Quark's bar, but D'Ghor forces Quark to claim it was in an honorable combat. But not because D'Ghor was concerned about Kozak's reputation as it turns out. Grillka has to react somehow, because as Tumek explains: "If Kozak had died in an accident and left no male heir, the Council might have decided that this was an unusual situation and granted special dispensation. That might have allowed Grilka to become head of the family even though she's a woman. But if Kozak died in an honorable fight, and was simply defeated by a better opponent, then no dispensation would have been granted, and without a male heir the House will fall." But if this is so, why doesn't Grillka, who is well aware that Quark couldn't possibly have killed her husband, simply demand that he retract his statement? Well, maybe it is already too late, because Gowron is about to give her house to D'Ghor because of the "honorable combat" clause. As a last resort, Grillka anticipates the pending fall of her house by performing the brek'tal ritual and marrying Quark. She says: "If the leader of a House is slain in honorable combat, the victor may be invited to take his place and his wife." Gowron, who has already approved of the "honorable combat" claim, has no other choice but to accept Quark's leadership of the house for the time being. Now D'Ghor changes his tactics and kidnaps Rom for the testimony that it was actually an accident. As Quark is already married with Grillka and head of the house, it may not matter any longer how Kozak died and hence may not invoke the "special dispensation" again. On the other hand, Gowron explicitly postponed the final decision that would have to be reconsidered, and quite possibly in Grillka's favor. But even if it doesn't prompt Gowron to retract his previous decision, D'Ghor may still challenge Quark because he lied about Kozak's death. Either way D'Ghor would inherit Kozak's house. Gowron, however, rules that D'Ghor's conduct is dishonorable as he lifts the bat'leth to kill the unarmed Ferengi. Gowron also decides that the circumstances warrant the "special dispensation" for Grillka. But how is this possible, considering that Grillka is still married to Quark, though still only for a few seconds until the two agree on a Klingon-style "quick divorce"? Realistically, Gowron should have waited for the divorce as a prerequisite for the "special dispensation".
I don't care much for the B-plot with the O'Briens, because in retrospect it is much like an excuse to get rid of Keiko and Molly for some time to get Miles into some more exciting adventures. Well, I like Bashir's advice that Miles can't solve their problems by just creating a diversion for Keiko: "A smile and sweet words will buy you two hours, flowers will buy you a week, an arboretum, well, that's at least two months." I only wonder where Julian of all people got that experience from.
- Continuity: The discommendation of D'Ghor is like Worf's in "Sins of the Father". The members of the High Council cross their arms and turn their backs on the dishonored person.
- Remarkable quote: "I really am very grateful for all you've done, Quark. That is why I'm going to let you take your hand off my thigh instead of shattering every bone in your body." (Grillka)
- Remarkable plea: "Go ahead, kill me. That's why I'm here, isn't it, to be killed? Well, here I am, so go ahead and do it. You all want me to pick up that sword and try to fight him, don't you? But I don't have a chance and you know it. You only want me to put up a fight so your precious honor will be satisfied. Well, I'm not going to make it so easy for you. Having me fight D'Ghor is nothing more than an execution, so, if that's what you want, that's what you'll get. An execution. No honor, no glory. And when you tell your children and your grandchildren the glorious story of how you rose to power and took Grilka's house from her, I hope you remember to tell them how you heroically killed an unarmed Ferengi half your size." (Quark)
- Remarkable fact: Quark is the son of a man named Keldar.
- Rule of Acquisition #286: "When Morn leaves, it's all over." (well, not an authentic one)
Stardate not given: Jadzia Dax, who always thought she was musically untalented, plays a melody on a keyboard that she seems to remember from somewhere and begins to hallucinate. Dr. Bashir examines her and finds dangerously low levels of a neurotransmitter between the Jadzia host and the Dax symbiont. They take the Defiant to the Trill homeworld to consult Dr. Renhol of the Symbiosis Commission. Timor, one of the unjoined Trills taking care of the symbionts senses there is something wrong with one of the Dax hosts. Dax is plagued by hallucinations again, apparently of a time some 80 years ago. The music was composed by a man named Joran Belar living in that time. When Dax goes into neural shock, Dr. Renhol rules that the Dax symbiont has to be removed at the host's expense if their condition doesn't improve. In an attempt to find out more to save Jadzia, Sisko and Bashir contact Yolad, Joran's brother. The official story is that Joran had allegedly been rejected by the Symbiosis Commission and then murdered the doctor who made that decision. But Yolad eventually discloses that his brother was indeed joined for no less than six months - a fact that has been purged from all records. The symbiont was Dax, and Dax' memory was erased likewise. The two officers also learn that not just a tiny percentage but half of all Trills are fit to be joined. Having obtained information that could put the Commission into a precarious position, they can convince Dr. Renhol to abstain from the removal of the Dax symbiont and to save Jadzia by re-integrating the suppressed memories.
Jadzia Dax' nature as a joined individual consisting of a host and a symbiont was the central theme of no more than two episodes so far, namely "Dax" in the first season and "Invasive Procedures" in the second season. Ironically, on these two occasions the otherwise quite vivid Jadzia remained passive and was even incapacitated all the time, respectively. Jadzia overall remained somewhat underdeveloped anyway.
"Equilibrium" is the first episode that adds new facets to the character, and fortunately with a somewhat more active Jadzia Dax. The story is essentially based on the cliché "suppressed memory causes a trauma" as already TNG: "Dark Page". But I like how it develops to a combination of a medical emergency, a criminal case and a political intrigue, although the latter isn't very plausible in retrospect (see my nitpicking below).
I am fond of the character of Timor, the guardian who takes care of the symbionts. It is delightful how carefully he tends to the symbionts and how he senses what is wrong with the Dax symbiont (like the Trill version of a homeopath), whereas he doesn't get out very often and his communication skills are limited. I would have liked to see more of him than just the two brief scenes.
- Sisko and Bashir find out that Joran was indeed joined with the Dax symbiont, and Joran turned out unsuitable as late as six months later when he killed that doctor. Joran was unsuitable because of his undiscovered criminal tendencies, not for failing the physiological and psychological tests of the Symbiosis Commission, which would purportedly allow only one in a thousand humanoid Trills to be joined. In any case the Symbiosis Commission made a clear error admitting Joran. But with the knowledge about the failure of the Symbiosis Commission and the cover-up of the whole affair, why in the world do Sisko and Bashir surmise that actually many more Trills than just one in a thousand are suitable? Wouldn't it be a much more obvious conclusion that the Commission simply wanted to cover up their embarrassing mistake, that they implanted a precious symbiont into a criminal host and noticed their error as late as he murdered someone? Moreover, doesn't Joran's case rather insinuate the exact contrary, that the Symbiosis Commission may choose the hosts for joining very carefully, based on a set of strict criteria, and still occasionally admit candidates that turn out unsuitable? In other words, if anything, the fact that Joran's lacking qualification was recognized much too late should narrow down the number of actually suitable hosts rather than extend it.
- According to the revised database, Joran Belar died on the same day as Torias Dax. Also, Torias was purportedly in a comatose state for six months until it was decided to transplant the Dax host to Curzon. But in reality the Dax symbiont was with Joran during that time. This means that the date of Torias' death must have been retroactively postponed, to coincide with Joran's death and to fill the gap in the biography of the Dax symbiont. However, the question remains how Torias' suddenly prolonged life in the records was explained to his family, unless he had no family or unless it is not customary on Trill to care whether a beloved person is dead or in a coma.
- Remarkably slow technology: The computer needs many hours to identify Joran's tune. When the episode was made, no one could anticipate that fifteen years later song recognition would be available as an app for your smartphone.
- Remarkable quote:"I'm not interested in exposing your secret, Doctor. All I care about is Jadzia. And I promise you, if she dies, I will see to it that the entire planet knows why." (Sisko)
- Remarkable facts:
- Torias, the fifth Dax host, died soon after a shuttle accident 86 years ago (in 2285).
- Isoboramine is a neurotransmitter that mediates the synaptic functions between the host and the symbiont. If the isoboramine level drops below 40%, the usual decision is to sacrifice the host to save the symbiont.
- The Symbiosis Commission claims that only one in a thousand Trills are fit for joining, but the actual figure is close to 50%.
- According to Doctor Renhol, Jadzia is the only initiate to ever successfully reapply to the program after being dropped.
Stardate not given: When Major Kira examines obviously feigned evidence that she was in the labor camp of Elemspur, she is kidnapped and taken to Cardassia. She looks into a mirror and is horrified to find that her face is now Cardassian! The Cardassian official Entek tells her that she is really Iliana Ghemor, who once agreed to infiltrate the Bajoran Resistance with the stolen identity and transplanted memories of a captured Bajoran woman named Kira Nerys. Her alleged father Tekeny Ghemor arrives and is disappointed that none of his daughter's Cardassian memories has resurfaced yet. On Deep Space 9, Odo suspects that Kira has been abducted by the Obsidian Order, the Cardassian secret service. He and Sisko have Garak join them to locate Kira on Cardassia. In the meantime, Kira/Iliana is presented a cryogenically conserved body said to be the real Kira Nerys. She is also repeatedly interviewed by Entek, until Ghemor finally sympathizes with her obstinacy and says that he will agree to her leaving Cardassia. Ghemor reveals that he is a dissident. That was the information Entek was only aiming for, and he orders Obsidian Order agents to arrest Ghemor. But Sisko, Odo and Garak appear, with Garak killing Entek. On Deep Space 9 Bashir confirms that Kira is really Bajoran. Ghemor, however, confesses that unless he finds his real daughter, Kira is the closest to a family that is left to him.
Only at the first glance this story appears to be a rehash of last year's TNG: "Face of the Enemy", where Deanna Troi looked into the mirror, only to discover her face had been surgically altered to appear Romulan. After the first shock, however, Deanna put up with her unusual situation rather quickly and played her part in the spy game increasingly well. The TNG story revolved around Deanna's mission, rather than her possible identity crisis. Perhaps that was a missed opportunity. In any case Robert Hewitt Wolfe, who wrote the DS9 episode, doesn't rip off the TNG story. He gives Kira Nerys a totally different role in an overall similar situation. His story sheds serious doubt on the identity of Kira, who may not be the Bajoran resistance fighter from Dakhur Province but a Cardassian spy in her disguise. And this is done very skillfully in small doses, starting with the rather subtle hint that Kira allegedly was in the Elemspur Detention Center and just doesn't remember, and culminating in "Iliana's" confrontation with "Kira's" dead body. I also like Iliana's recorded message to Kira very much, although the motive is borrowed from the (awesome) Schwarzenegger movie "Total Recall" with its similar theme, like some other ideas too.
In any case, with every little piece of evidence we are becoming increasingly unsure whether Kira really is the person she always said she was, and ultimately Kira may question her own existence too. Actually, Wolfe originally intended to leave the question of Kira's true identity open at the end of the episode. Anyway, we can notice that her resistance becomes calmer and less determined after a while. It is an important part of the story that Kira, one of the most self-assured characters of the series, can't even be sure who she actually is. In comparison with TNG: "Face of the Enemy" it is even more ironical, considering that the otherwise rather timid Deanna gains the more self-confidence the more she gets into playing the Romulan officer.
On another ironical side note, Ghemor tells Kira that Iliana, who carved a bone statue, should have been an artist. Kira, on the other hand, belongs to an artist caste, but never thought she had the talent.
In the end, after the somewhat far-fetched yet satisfying revelation that Kira has been used only to discredit Ghemor and the relieving examination that confirms that she really is Bajoran, Kira finds her first Cardassian friend and even a father figure in Ghemor. He leaves quite an impression on her (and Lawrence Pressman on the viewers), and this was the reason to bring him back for DS9: "Ties of Blood and Water". In hindsight it was the right decision not to go with Wolfe's original idea that Kira might be a Cardassian after all. I think it has a stronger impact that Kira remains a true Bajoran who perhaps takes the first step into understanding her enemies although she doesn't really want to, rather than having trouble with her own identity in the first place.
- Kira says that her mother died of malnutrition at the Singha Refugee Camp when she was three. But in DS9: "Wrongs Darker than Death or Night" we will learn that Kira Meru was actually taken to Deep Space 9, and Nerys doesn't look like she is only three years or less in that episode.
- The most notable Cardassian operative in Bajoran disguise is Seska, whose true identity is revealed in VOY: "State of Flux", not long after the DS9 episode.
- Remarkable quotes:
- "Major, I don't think I've ever seen you looking so ravishing." (Garak, to the Cardassian-looking Kira)
- "I want you to know something. In spite of whatever I might have said, I realize now you're an honorable man. And I think your daughter must have loved you very much." (Kira, to Ghemor)
- Remarkable shapeshifting: Odo morphs into bag and returns to his humanoid shape to overwhelm Entek.
- Remarkable fact: This episode establishes Garak as being claustrophobic, something that would be picked up in "In Purgatory's Shadow".
Stardate not given: Quark purchases the wreckage of a ship from the Gamma Quadrant and finds an alien infant whom he takes to the infirmary. To Dr. Bashir's surprise the child grows to the equivalent of an eight-year-old boy who can speak in a matter of a few hours. The boy is a young Jem'Hadar. Odo, who is afraid that the boy may end up as a lab rat like he used to be one himself, receives Sisko's approval to work with the young Jem'Hadar. But despite all his efforts to educate him, the boys only interest is violence. While a Starfleet vessel is already on the way to pick up the young warrior, the boy threatens Sisko with a phaser and demands access to a runabout to leave for the Gamma Quadrant. Odo is aware that the young Jem'Hadar would either kill someone or be killed on his way, so he insists on accompanying him.
We have seen episodes with similar themes before, especially on TNG. In TNG: "The Child" we saw a boy, Deanna Troi's "son", grow up very fast. But he turned out to be a shapeless lifeform that wanted to experience how it is to live a humanoid life. In TNG: "Suddenly Human" Picard became the mentor of a human boy named Jeremiah who had been kidnapped and raised by the brutal Talarians as "Jono". Picard eventually ruled that it would be better for the boy to be returned to them because the Talarians are the only family he ever knew. Even more obviously, in "I, Borg" Geordi befriended a Borg drone he named Hugh that had been separated from the Collective and regained his individuality. After his initial objections Picard eventually granted Hugh the rights of a self-determined being and let him return to the Collective unharmed. Much the same happens yet again in DS9. Still, "The Abandoned" is much like an antithesis especially to the latter TNG episode. Like the Borg, the Jem'Hadar are conditioned to perform certain tasks and their individuality is suppressed. Like Geordi did with Hugh, Odo gives the young Jem'Hadar the benefit of the doubt. But Odo fails. There does not seem to be a chance for the Jem'Hadar to become more than a killing machine, because when even the education of a young and innocent Jem'Hadar to overcome his conditioning is in vain, how should it ever work with adult members of his people? Unlike Hugh the Jem'Hadar in this episode remains accordingly nameless.
It is a recurring question of the episode whether people should be judged by their descent, intelligence, special skills or profession. It is posed by Odo, who doesn't want the Jem'Hadar to become a "lab specimen". Vice versa, the Jem'Hadar considers himself inferior to Odo and superior to anyone else by design. And even the dabo girl Mardah chimes in when she complains (to and more or less about Sisko), that people are judged based on nothing but their job. I find the discussion interesting, but overall there is a bit too much finger wagging, also considering that the story may be seen as a metaphorical comment on youth gangs, as Avery Brooks hinted at. It makes the episode formulaic, rather than as exciting as it could have been considering that there is a dangerous killing machine aboard. But speaking of a killing machine, the whole commentary about racial and social equality is overshadowed by the question whether the genetically engineered Jem'Hadar could develop a free will and a personality of his own in the first place. Jadzia anticipates that this may become the key issue. This is almost a paradigm shift in Star Trek, because it would be the first time that lifeform rights would be revoked or limited because they don't apply (not counting in the instances where they were not recognized in the first place).
I don't care for the B-plot (Sisko's problem with putting up with the dabo girl as his son's girl-friend) because it distracts and even detracts from the A-plot. At one point it even seems that the alien baby may become Ben's surrogate son, because his real son Jake is growing up too quickly. Fortunately my apprehension doesn't come true.
- Remarkable dialogues:
- O'Brien: "What if it turns out you like her?" - Sisko: "She's a dabo girl and she's dating my son. I don't want to like her."
- Odo: "So they're going to study him like a laboratory specimen." - Sisko: "He'll be very well treated." - Odo: "So he'll be a well treated specimen." - Bashir: "I have to agree with Odo, Commander. We can't just ship him off like some biological sample that we've found. He's a sentient lifeform." - Dax: "True, but the Founders could have removed his sense of free will. He may be nothing more than a genetically programmed killing machine."
- Jem'Hadar: "Why do you want to look like a humanoid? You're better than they are. You're a changeling." - Odo: "That doesn't make me better, just different." - Jem'Hadar: "But I know in here that I am inferior to you. And that everyone else here is inferior to me."
- Remarkable scene: When Kira brings plant as decoration for his new quarters, Odo uses his bucket as a plant pot.
- Remarkable facts:
- This is the first episode to show the still nameless Ketracel white, the missing enzyme that the Jem'Hadar need to survive.
- We finally see Mardah, the dabo girl that Jake dates, as already mentioned in "Playing God".
- It is the first episode hinting at Jake's later writing career, when Mardah mentions his poetry.
Stardate not given: Ben Sisko, Jake Sisko and O'Brien are trapped in the ore processing facility on Deep Space 9 when an old Cardassian security system meant to suppress a worker revolt kicks in. Gul Dukat appears on the station's monitors and announces the countermeasures. The Ops and the security office are sealed likewise, and the station is slated to be flooded with neurocine gas. Garak is the only one who can penetrate the forcefield around the Ops thanks to his still working security code. He gives Kira the advice to destroy the life support system to stop the gas. But the phaser blast sets off the countdown to the station's self destruction. The sadistically amused real Gul Dukat arrives to witness the desperate efforts to save the station. But when he attempts to beam out, a recording of his former superior appears on the screen and declares that Dukat is not allowed to leave his post. He now has to work with the Deep Space 9 crew. Dax manages to free Sisko, Jake and O'Brien from their prison by taking down all forcefields through a station-wide power surge. With not enough time left to stop the self-destruct, Sisko decides to let the shields absorb the explosion of the fusion reactor, and the station survives with some damage.
For a long time I used to underrate "Civil Defense" as just another average episode, and I don't really know why. Now that I have seen it again after a couple years I have to say it's among the top episodes of the third season. It almost made my personal top ten list of DS9.
"Civil Defense" has what I love about Star Trek, the kind of episodes that give me 45 minutes of excitement and that leave me with a content smile on my face. It is a thriller that puts the size, the nature and the history of the station to good use as rarely before. It is certainly not the time for profound character studies but definitely for character interaction, of which "Civil Defense" has plenty. There is some nice quibbling of Odo and Quark while the two are trapped inside the security office, and in the end it looks for a moment like they are becoming buddies. Dukat's role in the story and Marc Alaimo's performance are simply priceless. Listening to Dukat's recorded voice that speaks to the Bajoran workers adds greatly to the odd situation that the crew suddenly find themselves in. He then appears personally on the station as a triumphant savior and offers his services with devilish pleasure and for a high price. By the way, this isn't the first and wouldn't remain the last unpleasant surprise that Dukat has prepared for the time after his reign, or for future enemies. But in an awesome twist of irony Dukat eventually becomes a victim of his own megalomania. Garak has another opportunity to impress the crew with his skills. Only his conflict with Dukat feels out of place. We should expect that two adult men could shut up and forget their conflict for a just minute, while they are trying to save the station.
The episode is often compared with Voyager's "Worst Case Scenario", but only the basic setting of someone taking belated revenge through a computer program is the same, and it is much more credible in the DS9 episode anyway. Actually, "Civil Defense" reminds me more of TNG: "Disaster", where the crew was trapped in different places on the big ship in much the same fashion, and had to work together in newly defined roles, and without the usual ways of transportation and communication. Both are great because they work with the setting as well as with the characters, and create an unusual situation without using plot devices such as the holodeck, time travel or a parallel universe. Also, there are many parallels to the later Voyager episode "Dreadnought", with its equally stubborn Cardassian computer that does not understand that it doesn't work any longer under the conditions that it was programmed for.
- Science watch: Unlike it appears to be the usual case on Starfleet ships, the deactivation of life support on the station doesn't cause everyone to suffocate or freeze to death within minutes. Jadzia mentions that there are 12 hours to get the system to work again.
- Remarkable dialogues: "Just wondering how many other tailors can rewrite Cardassian security protocols?" - "I wouldn't even venture a guess. Which reminds me, those pants you wanted altered are ready to be picked up." (Bashir and Garak),
- Remarkable quotes:
- "We surrender." (Ben Sisko, posing as a Bajoran worker, buying his people some time)
- "It's because they knew you were an honorable man. The kind of person who would do the right thing regardless of the circumstances. And now your integrity is going to get us both killed. I hope you're happy." (Quark to Odo, as they are trapped inside the security office)
- Remarkable scenes:
- It is hilarious how Dukat in his presumptuousness poses in front of the phaser devices that would vaporize anyone else.
- When they try to make their way to the reactor, Ben Sisko has to leave the injured O'Brien behind in a burning access tunnel. Against his father's explicit instruction, Jake enters the tunnel and drags out O'Brien, thereby saving his life.
- Remarkable software: The Cardassian counter-insurgency program consists of four levels.
- Level 1: The program offers the Bajoran insurgents down in the ore processing the opportunity to surrender, and kills them with neurocine gas if they shouldn't comply.
- Level 2: The program assumes that Ops has been taken over by the Bajoran workers, whereupon this section is sealed off and the habitat ring is due to be flooded with neurocine gas.
- Level 3: Sabotage on the life support system (to stop the neurocine gas) causes the activation of the self-destruct.
- Level 4: The attempt to trick the computer triggers the replication of automated phaser devices.
- Remarkable facts:
- On Terok Nor, the Cardassians processed 20,000 tons of uridium ore a day. The temperature in the area was said to be 55 degree Celsius at that time.
- It is the first time that Gaila, Quark's cousin, is mentioned. He is said to own a small moon.
Stardate 48423.2: In the Gamma Quadrant the Defiant crew witness how a planet appears where there was previously none. A woman named Setlin invites them to their world. She explains that Meridian is subject to dimensional shifts in the course of which the planet reappears after 60 years during which its inhabitants exist as pure consciousness. But the phases of physical presence are becoming shorter each time. With just a few days left for now, Dax devises a method to stabilize the planet's sun in order to equalize the time between the dimensional shifts. While working on the problem she falls in love with Deral, a man from Meridian. Deral decides to leave the planet to stay with Dax, but his departure would destabilize Meridian's society. Determined not to give up Deral, Dax alters her molecular structure so she would be able to join Meridian on the dimensional shift. But the attempt fails, and Dax has to be beamed up to the Defiant to allow Meridian to shift, leaving a saddened couple that would not be able to meet again for the next 60 years.
The first mistake of this episode is that it attempts to tell a romanticized love story, which just doesn't work within the premise of Star Trek. I am all for decent love stories, and a bit of sex couldn't hurt either. But the slight variation of the stereotypical motive of a business woman who meets a handsome outdoorsman and abandons her job for him, plus the mystical prospect of two lovers to vanish into thin air together gives this episode a tone that just doesn't suit Star Trek. The problem is a fundamental one with how this whole love story is set up, written and directed. It all doesn't feel right.
The second big issue is that of all characters it puts Jadzia Dax into the role of the woman who falls in love. Oh well, DS9 has only two women in the permanent cast, and this type of story just needs the aforementioned gender stereotype of a woman who gets lost in reverie and decides to abandon her old life for a new love from one moment to another. It doesn't work with a male character. I couldn't imagine Major Kira in this role either. It would become ridiculous, should she fall in love with an alien guy and stay on his planet that would soon dissolve. But is Jadzia Dax really different in this regard? Does she really want to throw away her eight lives? I think she is way out of character here. For the writers Dax may have just been the most plausible "victim". Also, I don't know if it's the fault of Terry Farrell or if she was told to play it exactly this way, but she has those bedroom eyes from the first moment we see her with Deral. And if you ask me, she already looks unusually blessed at the very beginning, still on the Defiant. Finally, I think Sisko or Bashir would never be so supportive of her stupid decision to stay on the unstable planet.
Well, we've had both problematic motives before in TNG: "Sub Rosa", when Beverly was under the romantic/erotic influence of an alien lover and was going to leave Starfleet for him. The TNG episode even had inappropriate gothic elements on top of everything. All this was too much for it to be taken seriously as a Trek episode, and for Beverly to be still in character. I don't know if the extensive technobabble surrounding the nature of the eponymous planet was supposed to give "Meridian" more of a scientific touch, to make it more recognizable as a Star Trek installment. In any case I don't think that the mistakes of "Sub Rosa" should have been repeated.
Aside from my two principal points of criticism, the story also abounds with clichés that I am fed up with: We've got a planet that pops up out of nothing accidentally just as the Defiant is passing by, a whole civilization with only a handful of members in a cozy village (although Deral provides a reasonable explanation when he says they are a stranded expedition, it still is a cliché), a paradise that needs to be kept "in balance" (exactly as in TNG: "The Masterpiece Society"), a "wise woman" who speaks an overly solemn language, and more. Together with the idea that Meridian will vanish (rather than explode, implode, be contaminated, conquered, or end up in another "cruel" fashion) it is all too much designed to be romantic. Finally, the planet is named "Meridian", although it has just been discovered in the Gamma Quadrant - apparently the nice ring was more important than the plausibility that may have been in an alien-sounding name.
The only thing I like a bit about the episode is the B-plot. As farcical as it is, Quark's attempts to satisfy his customer, ultimately with the infamous "Kira hologram" that ends up with Quark's head on it, are funny, and they almost make the episode watchable. Almost.
- Remarkable dialogue: "If you don't mind my asking, how far down do they go?" - "All the way." (Deral and Jadzia)
- Remarkable quote: "This is Odo - my lover." (Kira, to Tiron)
- Remarkable appearance: Tiron, the customer who is in love with Kira, is played by the unimitably soft-spoken Jeffrey Combs, this being the first of his many Trek roles.
Stardate 48467.3: Kira takes Commander William Riker of the Enterprise on a tour of the Defiant. But suddenly Riker stuns her with a phaser. Two more people, Tamal and Kalita, are beamed aboard, and after a feigned malfunction the Defiant escapes. The hijacker is actually Thomas Riker, Will's duplicate who came to life in a transporter accident several years ago and who is now with the Maquis. Sisko and Odo reluctantly inform Dukat of the hijacking. In the eyes of the Cardassians the search for the warship may justify a brutal invasion of the Demilitarized Zone between them and the Federation. Working with Dukat and Korinas from the Obsidian Order, Sisko has to reveal that the cloaked ship may be detected with the help of an antiproton beam. But Kira manages to disable the cloaking. During the repairs Riker reveals that his target is the Orias system where the Cardassians supposedly build an invasion fleet. When Sisko, too, suspects that the Defiant's destination is Orias, Korinas denies Dukat's vessels the admission to the system. Suddenly three warships of the Obsidian Order, which is not even supposed to have ships, enter the scene. Dukat, who is just as surprised as Sisko, agrees to a deal with the Starfleet officer. Dukat's ships of the Central Command grant the Defiant a safe passage, in exchange for the Defiant's sensor data about the Obsidian Order's clandestine armament. Thomas Riker is captured by the Cardassians, with Dukat's pledge that he would not be sentenced to death.
Commander Riker, like the rest of the crew of the Enterprise-D except for Captain Picard, was missing in "Emissary". While it worked for the DS9 pilot not to rely on the established and popular TNG characters and rather focus on the new ones, it now feels like an unfortunate omission. Without having been previously introduced, Riker's presence feels a bit out of place. Well, it works better from the moment that we learn that this Riker is the "clone" and not the familiar character we are led to believe he is, and it suddenly makes sense that he doesn't immediately recognize Dax and that he has "nothing to say" to the baffled O'Brien. It is a quite satisfying revelation, also because it creates good continuity with the events in TNG: "Second Chances". Still, Thomas Riker's actions would have had more of an impact, had William Riker previously been introduced on DS9 in some fashion, and not just in the form of an exposition.
Anyway, I like how the episode unfolds after it becomes clear that there is more wrong about this Riker than an inexplicable gripe with O'Brien. The pace of the story becomes just as fast as the Defiant warps away. There are a couple of nice battle scenes, although their extent is limited by the budget and time for the motion control photography of those days. Well, the plot bears many similarities to TNG: "The Wounded", where Picard had to help the Cardassians track a renegade Starfleet ship in much the same fashion. Also, in both episodes the renegade ship is saved because its commander, despite his general error of judgment, proves right in just one point and provides valuable intelligence about secret Cardassian operations. So the basic framework of the DS9 episode really isn't very original except for the additional thrill that it is Thomas Riker and the Defiant, instead of the unknown commander of a ship we haven't heard of before.
But while the TNG episode was like a Star Trek version of "Rambo", the story of a war veteran who is haunted by his memories, DS9: "Defiant" focuses more on the interstellar relations and ultimately on an intra-Cardassian affair. The political ramifications and especially the newly emerging tension inside the Cardassian Union are worked out very well, as it is usual on DS9. And Sisko makes his day when he skillfully plays off the two factions against one another. I have only one problem: Would the Cardassians really lower their guard so far as admitting to him that the Obsidian Order is so much at odds with the Central Command that they would fire on each other's ships?
The focus on politics is a bit ironical, considering that it happens at the expense of Jonathan Frakes' character. Well, his interaction with Kira Nerys works, but not quite on the level of the would-be love affair that it was probably meant to be. Their best scene is when Kira accuses Riker of being on a quest for a secret Cardassian installation instead of simply doing the most possible damage to his enemies. At first it doesn't seem to make much sense that she would provoke him like that. But then it becomes clear that Kira applies reverse psychology. She expects Riker to understand that, even as he poses as a terrorist, he is still more of a Starfleet officer. And the fact that he remains silent gives away that she probably isn't so wrong with her impression. Other than that, there is little in the episode that would tell us anything about Tom Riker's motivation. Only at one point there is one remark by Kira that Tom needs to compensate for not being so successful as the other Riker, the one who had better luck back when the two were separated. Tom Riker himself, on the other hand, remains very cool and focused on his mission throughout the whole episode. While I think this is in character, I would expected to see a somewhat more diverse portrayal of Tom Riker from Jonathan Frakes.
Finally, unfortunately the events of this episode will never be picked up again, Kira won't keep her promise to get him out of there, and we will never learn what happened to Tom Riker after his imprisonment. This is among the Star Trek episodes of any series that would have required a follow-up the most.
- Nitpicking: What happened to Eddington? Wasn't he meant to replace Odo at least in all matters related to Federation security? Why is Odo with Sisko when the commander is talking to Dukat?
- Remarkable quote: "Tough little ship." (Riker. The other Riker will say the same in "Star Trek: First Contact".)
- Remarkable ship: The Cardassian Keldon class, essentially just a Galor with a boxy backpack and other add-ons, still a most interesting design
- Remarkable fact: The Romulans have authorized the use of the Defiant's cloaking device only in the Gamma Quadrant, and only in exchange for intelligence on the Dominion.
Stardate not given: While Sisko is preparing a party at the occasion of the Bajoran Gratitude Festival, Lwaxana Troi arrives at the station, hoping for a love affair with Odo. But the constable ignores her advances. Surprisingly several crew members and guests begin to develop new romantic interests, as Jake adores Kira, Kira is smitten with Bashir, Vedek Bareil goes after Dax, Dax pesters Sisko and Quarks falls in love with Keiko O'Brien, who shows a romantic interest in Bareil. It turns out that Lwaxana's Zanthi fever is responsible for the whole mess. In this condition Betazoids inadvertently project their amorous feelings to people in their vicinity - interestingly feelings that must already exist latently. Only for Keiko and Miles O'Brien the whole hassle has a positive lasting effect, for the two rediscover their love after being tired of their marriage.
Jake - Kira, Kira - Bashir (unsurprisingly), Quark - Keiko, Keiko - Bareil, Bareil - Dax, Dax - Sisko. Oh my!
I assume this story was meant to be a combination of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and Arthur Schnitzler's Der Reigen, with the magic and light-heartedness of the former and the basic constellation of the latter. But the whole thing winds up as a single big embarrassment, one that is even visible in the actors' performances, of whom several appear to feel uncomfortable. The principal reason for the failure of this episode is that the incorporated literary motives don't work with Star Trek, just like in "Meridian", which attempted to bring in romantic transfiguration, thereby almost derailed Dax' character and wound up as a major stinker. Well, in "Fascination" there is at least a reason for everyone behaving strangely. Still, I dislike how the already hackneyed idea of Cupid's Dart causing all the hassle was simply replaced with an even lamer explanation from the realm of science fiction. We've had far more entertaining stories of this kind, and far more surprising and original explanations. With Lwaxana being aboard, it is just too obvious what the whole trouble is about.
In addition, most dialogues are either tiresome (basically everything pertaining to O'Brien's marriage) or goofy (basically everything that Jake is saying).
Regarding Keiko O'Brien, considering that Rosalind Chao may not have been available for every single episode and it may have been hard to write stories for her and for Molly, I am glad that she reappears on the show occasionally. It was great to have her in episodes such as "Armageddon Game" or "Whispers", where she did have a part in the main plot. But Keiko can be seen too often in side plots that are deemed to show that there's a family man whose marriage is at stake because of his Starfleet job or because of the dangers of space. If the two do have problems with that, it should be shown in a more consequential fashion and not on a case-by-case decision whether harmony or quarrel would suit the episode better.
- Remarkable quote: "You hew-mons, you never learn. You let your women go out in public, hold jobs, wear clothing, and you wonder why your marriages fall apart." (Quark)
- Remarkable dialogue: "So you're sure Doctor Bashir said your test results were negative?" - "That's right. My headache was just a headache. I never was affected by Mrs. Troi." - "Oh. I guess that means you don't have a latent attraction to me after all." (Keiko and Miles O'Brien)
- Remarkable pet toy: Molly has a stuffed Targ named "Piggy".
- Remarkable fact: "Peldar joi" is the commonly used greeting during the Bajoran Gratitude Festival.
Stardate 48481.2: After beaming down from the Defiant to Earth, Dax, Bashir and O'Brien find themselves in the San Francisco of the year 2024. The two seemingly homeless men are taken to a so-called "Sanctuary District", while Jadzia is picked up by Chris Brynner, a 21st century yuppie. Sisko realizes that he and Bashir have arrived just before the Bell Riots, in which desperate homeless people would take hostages. Their lives would be saved by the sacrifice of a man named Gabriel Bell. But Gabriel Bell is killed prematurely as a result of Sisko's and Bashir's presence in that time. As the riots begin, Sisko joins the crowd, pretending to be Gabriel Bell. In the meantime, Kira and O'Brien find out that the accident happened because chronitons in the hull, stemming from the Defiant's cloaking device, interfered with the transporter. They repeatedly attempt to find the time to which the three officers have traveled. Negotiating with a police official, Sisko/Bell and Webb, the other sensible leader of the insurgents, voice their demand that the Sanctuary Districts be abandoned. By restoring their computer access Dax and Brynner help spreading the message, but the governor orders the police to end the riot with violence. Kira and O'Brien finally locate Dax, but when a SWAT team storms the building, Webb is killed and Sisko is wounded when he jumps into the line of fire to save a hostage. Yet, this outcome resets the normal course of history, the only difference being that Sisko's picture is now in the historical databases, labeled as "Gabriel Bell".
This two-part episode was apparently made with big ambition but not with the dedication necessary to tell a good story. The setting is gratuitous to start with, because the Defiant is on its way to Earth (for the first time) for no apparent good reason, and Quark calls in for an even more insignificant reason. I have hardly seen another teaser so corny in the whole series. After Sisko, Bashir and Dax have arrived in the 21st century, the story becomes interesting, but it unfolds so slowly, it could have easily been compressed to a single episode as well. A lot of time is spent for the exposition, for the introduction of nearly every single character, for all kinds of trivia and to show the contrast between the homeless on the streets and the luxury of Brynner's life. Moreover, the whole story is governed by social criticism and finger wagging like in hardly any other Star Trek installment. Professor Sisko frequently lectures Bashir and everyone else on Earth's history. At times it seems to me that getting across his idea of social justice and the right interpretation of history is even more important to Sisko than fixing the messed up history and saving everyone's lives.
"Past Tense" is entirely Sisko's episode. Bashir's role is reduced to that of a sidekick who is graciously conceded to use his medical expertise. Dax gets transformed by Brynner into some sort of androgynous 21st century party girl (the hairstyle and clothes are awful), just to corroborate the notion that there are two classes of people in this era. Brynner himself is a very boring character anyway that could have been dropped from the story altogether. Lee, Webb and Vin are the few positive exceptions in the hopelessly overcrowded cast, the few people whose motivation becomes palpable. Overall the acting and directing remains comparably unremarkable.
O'Brien and Kira's scenes on the Defiant abound with technobabble, and the rescue of their fellow officers is shown as if it were a routine mission, rather than driving them desperate. At least their attempts to locate Sisko, Bashir and Dax in the 1930s and the 1960s are successful attempts at comic relief.
On a final critical note, the fact that B.C. murdered Gabriel Bell is never made an issue again in the second part, not even by Sisko. Agreed, Sisko somehow has to keep up his uneasy alliance with the criminal "ghosts". Still it is off-character that he wouldn't remind B.C. of what he has done or better, take revenge in some fashion, even more so as B.C. killed a historical figure that Sisko used to revere for his selfless sacrifice. Ira Steven Behr addresses this problem in the DS9 Companion: "If you treat people like animals, they become animals. If B.C. had not been homeless, what would he have been?" But the way that B.C. is portrayed he comes across as an intrinsic criminal, I'd be damned if he wouldn't rob gas stations or something like that even if he had the chance to live his life in freedom.
- Why does O'Brien solely rely on guessing when he tries to locate Sisko, Bashir and Dax in the past? Instead of the try-and-error approach (with a limited number of tries as the chroniton particles around the ship that allow the time travel are decaying), the crew could have attempted to obtain historical records from the alternate Earth they are orbiting, which would have allowed to narrow down the point of divergence in Earth's history.
- Dax has just regained consciousness when she quick-wittedly calls her communicator a "brooch". How could she know she wasn't in her time any longer?
- See also: Time Travel in DS9.
- Coincidences: Of all possible times the three officers arrive on almost the exact date of a historical event that Sisko is familiar with like no one else, and of all people in San Francisco Dax runs into the mid-21st century equivalent of Bill Gates.
- Remarkable dialogue: "We get amnesty, a handful of credit chips, and a flight to anywhere we want. Personally, I'm thinking Tasmania." - "Tasmania." - "Errol Flynn was born in Tasmania!" (B.C. and Sisko)
- Remarkable quotes:
- "Tell people when they come to the rally to bring their families, their kids, and try to look their best. We're not derelicts, no matter what they say about us." (Webb)
- "Whoosh! I'm invisible." (Grady)
- Remarkable scene: Kira and O'Brien are beamed out from the year 1967, leaving behind two baffled hippies who probably think they have had too much LSD.
- Remarkable appearance: The "dim" named Grady is played by Clint Howard, best known for his role as Balok in TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver".
- Remarkable location: This episode makes extensive use of almost all portions of the New York Streets set at Paramount.
- Remarkable facts:
- In the Sanctuary Districts there are at least three categories of people. "Gimmies" are those who are still looking for work, "ghosts" have not adapted and have become criminals and "dims" are mentally ill but are denied the necessary care.
- The full name of B.C. is Biddle Coleridge (no surprise he prefers to shorten it).
- Remarkable background fact: This is the first of just two episodes without scenes taking place on the station. The second one will be "Children of Time".
- Rule of Acquisition #111: "Treat people in your debt like family. Exploit them." , #207: "You can't free a fish from water."
Stardate 48498.4: Kai Winn's and Vedek Bareil's vessel is nearly destroyed on their way to secret peace talks with the Cardassians. While Winn escapes with small injuries, Dr. Bashir can only revive Bareil after extensive stimulation of his damaged brain. He suggests that the Vedek be put into stasis in order to receive a treatment at a later date. But Kai Winn is afraid that the crucial negotiations may fail without him, and Bareil himself insists on staying awake to advise the Kai. The doctor administers a drug that maintains Bareil's brain activity, but towards the end of the negotiations his left brain half fails and can only be kept alive using positronic neural implants. Bareil is not the same any more and he has seemingly lost his feelings for Kira, but he brings the talks to a successful end when the peace treaty is signed. Dr. Bashir, however, has to tell the distressed Kira that he would not attempt to keep Bareil alive using even more implants, and so the vedek eventually dies.
To put it bluntly, Bareil wasn't exactly the most interesting guest character of the series, so losing him isn't the big deal in this episode. I rather have an issue with the manner he finds his death. From the moment that Bareil is miraculously resurrected, the story becomes rather predictable because we can easily anticipate that this comes at a high price. And the ongoing peace talks, with much being at stake for Bajor as everyone is not tired to emphasize, are a broad hint that Bareil is eventually going to overextend the forces that are left to him. Also, a plot device and medical technobabble play too much of a role in the story, at the expense of a more profound discussion of how the patient wants and how he needs to be treated - perhaps against his will.
Like already Worf, who found himself in a similar situation in TNG: "Ethics", Bareil is uncompromising and he pitilessly jeopardizes the life that he has just regained. He is not content with the prospect of slowly recovering in stasis, although it may be a complete recovery. He wants to be fit again at once, even if this means taking a dangerous experimental drug. The incalculable risk and ultimately his death may be for a greater good, but it is effectively Bareil's own ambition that kills him. Unfortunately Philip Anglim doesn't really get across what is driving Bareil, which is obviously not possible because his character is confined to a stretcher all the time and doesn't have the chance to talk much in his present condition. He does discuss the issue of getting the experimental drug with Bashir, but it boils down to something like "Doctor, I really really need to stay awake at all cost." - "Oh well, if you think so."
Rather than on the largely disabled vedek, the story focuses on Bashir and his qualms, because he could have prevented Bareil from taking the drug; he may not have told him about it in the first place. Overall, it could have been worked out better how Bashir defends treatment against Kai Winn, who wants to have Bareil as an advisor, on one hand and against Kira, who cares for him as a lover, on the other hand. While his criticism of Kai Winn's selfish motives to keep Bareil awake is justified, Bashir himself could have done more for the welfare of his patient as well.
Kai Winn is a surprise in this episode because for the first time there is something positive in her role. This time I have the impression that she acts for the benefit of her people, and I am also inclined to believe that she does care a bit about her former rival Bareil too. We need to bear in mind that one and a half years ago Winn still masterminded the attempted assassination of Bareil. But most obviously her uncertainty that she doesn't even try to hide comes across as genuine and creates a new sympathy with her. And all this is accomplished with Winn staying completely in character.
As usual, the political situation is absolutely credible, with real-world references to prisoners of war who are still being held for political leverage, as well as to the question of a Cardassian apology to Bajor. Unfortunately the peace talks are reduced to a side show; I wish they had not been concluded so soon or embedded in a more exciting episode in the first place.
The B-plot with Jake and Nog's amorous misadventure provides some nice comic relief, and perhaps a little more than than that. Well, the two know each other for quite a while, and by now they should have figured out what are the taboos in the respective other culture. Nog's insistence on treating girls of other species the Ferengi way is totally inappropriate in this regard. But in a way it looks to me like a typically adolescent male behavior (of probably any humanoid species). Jake, on the other hand, hasn't done anything wrong. Still he chooses to apologize to Nog, thereby proving that he is a more mature person.
- Remarkable quote: "One of my professors at medical school used to say that the brain had a spark of life that can't be replicated. If we begin to replace parts of Bareil's brain with artificial implants, that spark may be lost." (Bashir)
- Remarkable scene: Jake has Odo "arrest" him and Nog so the two boys can have a talk.
- Remarkable facts:
- Ferengi women are supposed to soften the food with her teeth before they give it to the males.
- Legate Turrel signs the peace treaty with the Bajorans.
Stardate 48521.5: When Odo and Kira pursue an alleged Maquis ship that ambushed a Lissepian freighter, they wind up on a barren moon. After being separated for a moment, Odo finds Kira, her feet trapped in a cavern in some sort of crystal. Henceforth, the crystal begins to grow upward. Odo attempts to destroy the crystal, but soon it encases Kira's chest. When earthquakes shake the cavern, she orders Odo to leave in order to save his life. Odo, however, confesses that he won't go because he loves her. Much to his surprise Kira says that she has feelings for him too. Odo waits until the crystal has grown up her neck. Now Kira urges him to leave and tells him that she isn't really in love with him. Odo knows that the true Kira would never lie to him. He pulls a phaser, and Kira turns out to be the female Changeling he knows from the Omarion Nebula. She was planning to make Odo return to his homeworld after losing Kira.
First of all, I think the airing order of "Life Support" and "Heart of Stone" should have been switched. It would have been better for the latter episode, had Odo confessed his love to Kira before Bareil's death (or alternatively after a due mourning period of several episodes). It just doesn't feel right at this point of the series.
Nevertheless I like how "Heart of Stone" unfolds. It comes with two unexpected twists, the first being that Kira returns Odo's feelings, the second being that it isn't Kira at all but the Female Changeling who is obviously in charge of tending to the "lost child". Yet, in retrospect there are severe logical deficiencies that detract from the impact of the episode. The first is that the Female Founder's imitation of Kira is just too perfect. Not just her look, but Kira's knowledge and her whole personality including emotional reactions is so spot-on that neither the viewer nor Odo doubts her identity until the end of the episode. Irrespective of her unquestionable abilities as a shapeshifter and an actress, how can the Founder possibly know enough about Kira to pose as her for many hours and not say or do anything wrong that the always skeptical observer Odo would notice? Well, Odo finally discovers the deception in spite of everything. The first cue is because of a small inconsistency about Kira's report on the alleged Maquis that shot on her. The more important one, however, is that Odo knows for sure that Kira doesn't love him. At least so he says. By all means this conclusion is extremely far-fetched. Because while he misses all the little flaws that may lie in the Founder's impersonation of Kira all along, he gives Kira's response on his desperate confession of love as much weight as if it were a testimony on a trial. Moreover, it wouldn't be the first and wouldn't be the last time that he misinterpreted humanoid behavior and emotions, a field in which his perception is the more blurred the more it concerns him personally.
In the B-plot we can see the first really serious story with Nog in the focus. It starts of as rather amusing as Nog tries to bribe Commander Sisko and keeps a somewhat comical undertone. But overall Nog's determination to become a Starfleet officer is absolutely convincing. I only don't like that Nog's statement that he doesn't want to become an underdog like his father eventually convinces Sisko to support his application. The mere idea that the son should get the chance the father never had, that the son effectively wants to compensate for something, is a poor motivation. It is not a genuine interest and it would make a potential employer suspicious in real life. Sisko should have insisted on Nog joining Starfleet in the first place because he wants to be in Starfleet, and not for any reasons related to problems with his family, society or race.
- Science watch: The moon that Odo and Kira land on has an atmosphere, like so many other ones in especially this series.
- Remarkable quote: "Of course it's your fault. Everything that goes wrong here is your fault. It says so in your contract. Now, this mess had better be cleaned up before lunchtime or I'm taking the losses out of your pay." (Quark, to Rom)
- Remarkable scene: In order to get his support for signing up at Starfleet Academy, Nog tries to bribe Sisko with latinum.
- Continuity: Odo mentions O'Brien's passion for kayaking, including his frequently dislocated shoulder, as known from TNG.
- Remarkable shapeshifting: During an earthquake Odo morphs into a protective shield for Kira as pieces of rock are falling down.
- Remarkable facts:
- "No Changeling has ever harmed another." as the Female Changeling states.
- Odo's full name is Odo'ital, which is what the Cardassian supervisor called the sample in Dr. Mora's lab. Odo'ital is favorably translated as "unknown sample", but literally it means "nothing".
- In order to be admitted to Starfleet Academy, a non-Federation citizen needs a reference from a command-level officer.
Stardate 48543.2: Cardassian scientists are going to set up a subspace relay that would enable a communication link to the Gamma Quadrant through the Wormhole. But the Bajoran Vedek Yarka warns Sisko of an old prophecy of "three vipers" that would return to their "nest". To everyone's relief only two Cardassian women arrive, but a third one is going to join them. Kira is concerned but doesn't permit her faith to interfere with her duty. When, however, a part of the prophecy, a "sword of stars" in the form of a comet near the far wormhole exit seems to come true, she urges Sisko to end the experiment. Sisko decides to carry on regardless, with the outcome that the comet is heading for the wormhole inside which it would cause the anomaly to collapse. With modified phasers the Defiant attempts to vaporize the comet, but Dejar, one of the Cardassians, has sabotaged the weapons. The comet breaks apart into three chunks - apparently the three vipers mentioned in the prophecy. Using a shuttlepod to be able to maneuver, Sisko and Kira generate a subspace field around the three fragments, thereby protecting the wormhole and, as a surprising byproduct, completing the communication channel through the wormhole.
Ever since he was appointed Emissary of the Prophets, Benjamin Sisko felt uncomfortable in his role. Being the Emissary occasionally helped him earn the trust of the Bajorans, settle conflicts and appease the religious leaders. Sisko never had a problem accepting the Bajoran faith as an alternative view with the same weight as science, but that was chiefly for diplomatic reasons. He probably didn't see anything more divine in the Prophets, or "wormhole aliens", than in Q, for instance. And Q definitely doesn't qualify as a god.
At the beginning of this episode he defends his position, which coincides with the one of Starfleet and the once of science, more passionately than on other occasions. Because this time it is not just technical progress, along with the honor of scientists that is at stake, but nothing less than the fragile peace treaty between Bajor and Cardassia. In the end, however, he has to concede that the prophecy has come true after 3000 years - one way or another. And while the Cardassian simulation couldn't predict that the comm link wouldn't work, much less that the comet would first endanger the mission and eventually save it, the Prophets knew what would happen all the time. Certainly in a series like Star Trek we can still rely on the in-universe fact that there are lifeforms that exist outside our space-time and that can see into the future. Still, the conclusion walks a fine line, and it is close to declaring a victory of faith over science.
In contrast to Sisko, Kira does believe in the Prophets. They are far more than only "wormhole aliens" in her view. And just as Sisko has to put his reservations aside when he poses as the Emissary, she frequently needs to remind herself not to let her faith interfere with her duties on the station. So far she was almost always successful. But in the face of Trakor's seemingly obvious metaphor of the Cardassian women as "vipers" (I wonder, are there snakes exactly like vipers on Bajor?) she gets increasingly uncomfortable with following Sisko's orders.
The main characters' qualms and quarrels are worked out nicely, although I think they may have been toned down a bit. Sisko shouldn't have been all for science, just to make his change of mind appear more dramatic. Likewise, Kira could have been a bit critical about the prophecy. Faith in the Prophets does not necessarily imply believing in every single word of every single prophecy. She appears a bit too much like a Creationist, but perhaps exactly this was the intention. Sisko's allusion to the Bible, a book that was written thousands of years ago and translated over and over again in the same fashion is an unmistakable cue. Nevertheless the characters are a bit too much shaped for the story of a clash of science and faith, their lines are a tad too formulaic. I wonder anyway whether someone who really believes in prophecies wouldn't expect that they come true in any case, whether something is done to avert them or not. Unless they have to be taken as mere warnings rather than as predictions, wouldn't it weaken the status of the Prophets if what they say doesn't come true?
Also, I wonder if the episode wouldn't have worked a bit better with a less dramatic plot, although it may have been deemed necessary to show the Wormhole in danger to emphasize the misinterpretation regarding the three "vipers" that actually benefit the Bajorans instead of destroying their Celestial Temple. Well, and regarding the threat that the whole experiment actually poses to the Wormhole, I wonder why the criticism of the relay experiment boils down to the prophecy, rather than to a protest of religious Bajorans that the Cardassians would desecrate their Celestial Temple.
Regarding the Cardassian scientists, the three women put a fresh spin on the depiction of Cardassians in general. Even though it may be just another cliché that scientists use to be different than "normal" people (perhaps on any planet), I like how untypical they are of their race. On the other hand, if we give credence to the statement that on Cardassia women are generally considered better scientists, they are typical in one respect though. The latter is the reason why the women are overly critical of O'Brien's way of working. I like the irony that lies in this switch of gender roles, considering that it is still much the other way round on our planet in our time. In any case the cultural misunderstanding between O'Brien's and the Cardassian (female) ways completes the episode with a nice B-plot that mirrors the bigger clash between Sisko and Kira or between science and faith.
- Remarkable quote: "I hope I don't offend your beliefs, but I don't see myself as an icon, religious or otherwise. I'm a Starfleet officer, and I have a mission to accomplish. If I call it off, it has to be for some concrete reason, something solid, something Starfleet." (Sisko, to Kira)
- Trakor's Third Prophecy: "When the river wakes, stirred once more to Janir's side, three vipers will return to their nest in the sky. When the vipers try to peer through the temple gates, a sword of stars will appear in the heavens. The temple will burn, and its gates shall be cast open."
- Trakor's Fourth Prophecy: "The Emissary will face a fiery trial, and he will be forced to choose..." (This line will be picked up for the series finale.)
- Rule of Acquisition #35: "Peace is good for business.", #34: "War is good for business."
- Remarkable shuttle: This is the second and last appearance of the Defiant's small shuttlepod.
- Remarkable satellite: The relay is a reuse of the Amargose Observatory from "Star Trek Generations".
Stardate not given: Grand Nagus Zek comes to the station with a volume of the new Ferengi Rules of Acquisition. To Quark's horror the old man has rewritten the rules to endorse benevolence instead of greed. Investigating the rediscovered Orb of Wisdom that Zek is going to donate to the Bajoran people, Quark and Rom realize that the Nagus received it as a gift from the Bajoran Prophets. Determined to restore his greedy nature, the two and his servant Maihar'du kidnap Zek and take him to the wormhole. There the Prophets are appalled about Quark's behavior and tell him they would change his state of existence like they did with Zek. But Quark proposes them a deal: If they revert Zek to the man he was, he promises that no Ferengi will ever bother the Prophets again. Zek destroys the revised rules and decides to sell the orb to the Bajorans.
This is the first encounter of the Ferengi and the Prophets, and it will remain the last one. Fortunately. Because it simply doesn't work. It is not convincing that the Prophets would quickly notice the lack of morality in the Ferengi society and label Zek and Quark's ways as "aggressive", because these are special concepts of the "linear existence" that they don't yet fully understand and probably never will. Much less would the Prophets punish or "de-evolve" Zek because of that (and because talking to him exasperates them). The Prophets could care less about mundane problems of linear time, but here they behave much like a vengeful genie in a bottle.
Other than that the episode is a nice and telling commentary on the Ferengi society, with the ironical yet racist outcome that an "evolved" and "sane" Ferengi values profit higher than the welfare of other people. Like many other Ferengi installments the episode is also quite clownish, and at latest with "Zek in the sack" it clearly crosses the line to mere slapstick.
The B-plot about Julian Bashir as a possible winner of the prestigious Carrington Award never strikes me as really interesting. It just provides some distraction from the prevailing Ferengi theme and is good for some memorable lines.
- Remarkable dialogue: "Something must've gone terribly wrong. But I intend to set it right." - "How, brother?" - "I have an idea." - "Does it involve me?" - "Not really." - "I like it." (Quark and Rom)
- Remarkable quote: "Do you know what the life expectancy of a Carrington Award winner is? Five years. Ten at the very best. And do you know why? Because the Carrington Award is intended to be the crowning achievement for a lifetime in medicine. April Wade is a hundred and six. The last time she was nominated, three years ago, people said it was premature." (Bashir)
- Remarkable facts:
- Quark is trying to sell self-sealing stem bolts to the alien woman.
- This is the only episode where Zek's servant Maihar'du speaks. However, the talking Maihar'du is not the real one but a representation of a Prophet.
- False Rule of Acquisition #1R: "If they want their money back, give it to them.", #10R: "Greed is dead.", #21R: "Never place profit before friendship.", #22R: "Latinum tarnishes, but family is forever.", #23R: "Money can never replace dignity.", #285R: "A good deed is its own reward."
- Real Rule of Acquisition #10: "Greed is eternal."
Stardate not given: While a Romulan delegation is reviewing the Defiant's sensor logs of the Gamma Quadrant, O'Brien is recovering from a slight radiation poisoning. All of a sudden the chief engineer seems to hallucinate how another O'Brien is talking to Quark. Five hours later, however, this conversation really takes place. Dax theorizes that the radiation exposure makes O'Brien shift forward in time. The second time shift occurs, and O'Brien finds himself in a brawl between Romulans and Klingons in Quark's bar, which actually happens five hours later. In the third time travel O'Brien witnesses how he is killed when opening a wall panel in a corridor. The Klingons will place a device there to spy on the Romulan delegates. His fourth time shift leads O'Brien to sickbay to find his dead body. Future Bashir sends him back with the advice for present Bashir to care about O'Brien's basilar arteries to save him. After Dax has found out that a quantum singularity triggers the frequent time shifts, O'Brien shifts once again and finds himself on a crowded runabout from where he sees how Deep Space 9 explodes and the wormhole collapses. In order to arrive at an earlier date to find out what destroyed the station, Dr. Bashir gives O'Brien a device that floods his body with delta isotopes to trigger the time shift, although it could be too much for him. In the future it becomes clear that a cloaked Romulan warbird, which uses a quantum singularity as its power source, is responsible for the attack. The weakened time-traveling O'Brien hands over the device to his future self who travels back to warn Sisko. The commander locks torpedoes onto the quantum singularity, and the Romulans choose to retreat.
To many fans "Visionary" may be just another weird time travel episode, whereas I see it as an very clever combination of a detective story and a mystery thriller (with an unusually eerie score that greatly adds to the latter part). In fact I think it is the most exciting episode of DS9 so far. It is almost as if all lessons learned from previous installments were put into particularly this one episode to make it as appealing as possible. In a so far mostly unhurried series "Visionary" is like a rollercoaster ride. It has an extremely fast pace, every line is spot-on (and often even memorable), everything that happens has a meaning, everything advances the story in some fashion.
Well, when I first watched "Visionary" I used to be an ardent fan of TNG's scientific mystery stories. I was a bit disappointed that, until then, DS9 hadn't even tried to compete with them. "Visionary" came and changed my perception of the series. But even after many years, many more seasons of Trek and many more episodes of this kind it hasn't lost any of the initial excitement for me.
The suspense in this episode is heightened with almost every new act. It all begins in Quark's Bar, just a few minutes into the episode. When, after Quark's very unsuccessful first attempt, O'Brien tries out the new dart board himself, it still looks like the scene in the bar is just one of those funny interludes. But then O'Brien experiences his first time leap. The first of many more to come. And none of the subsequent time leaps will be like the previous one. At first it seems like the encounter with his future self could be a hallucination. But then O'Brien finds himself in exactly the same situation again - only on the other side. His voice stalls when he becomes aware it is a déjà vu, and then he spots the O'Brien from the past who has just materialized. This scene is bettered by the one in which O'Brien sees his own death in the corridor in front of the Romulan quarters. He manages to avert his death, but then O'Brien travels into the future yet again, only to learn that he has died anyway - this time because of radiation poisoning. He once again cheats death, and the treatment administered by Bashir will stop his time leaps just as well. Everything seems fine again. However, in another great twist, O'Brien witnesses the explosion of the station and the collapse of the wormhole in his presumably last leap. He is now determined to avert the disaster, even though the additional radiation exposure may kill him. And just when we think no further escalation could be possible, the time-traveling O'Brien has to give his armband to the one from the future, to take his place in the past (in a similar fashion an alternate Harry Kim will transfer to the surviving Voyager in VOY: "Deadlock").
The story about the Romulan demand to receive information on the Dominion in exchange for the Defiant's cloaking device is just a tie-in in this episode. Perhaps the deal with the Romulans could have better embedded into the third season, especially since the Romulan officer who was in charge of the cloaking device vanished without a trace after "The Search". But this is rather not the fault of "Visionary".
I have only two negative notes on "Visionary". The first is that the story heavily relies on plot devices and technobabble. The second is about Odo's arrogant exuberance throughout the whole episode, as if he were on speed.
- Continuity: It is appreciable that the author remembered that Romulan warbirds are powered by artificial quantum singularities as established in TNG: "Timescape". It is only sad that neither Dax nor O'Brien get the idea that the quantum singularity orbiting Deep Space 9 could be a Romulan ship, even though Romulans are even aboard the station!
- Remarkable dialogues:
- "And Major, when you're in with the Romulans, try to be diplomatic." - "I'm always diplomatic. [cut to her debriefing with the Romulans] That is the most ridiculous thing I ever heard, and I resent the implication!!!" (Sisko and Kira)
- "Ruwon started to insinuate that you were..." - "That I was what?" - "Interested in me." - "He said that?" - "Have you ever heard anything more..." - "Ridiculous?" - "Exactly." (Kira and Odo, after Kira's debriefing)
- "I plan on investigating the Klingons, the Bajorans, Quark, the visiting Terellians." - "You think Quark had something to do with this?" - "I always investigate Quark." (Odo and Sisko)
- "Just be careful." - "Commander, there is no careful way to question a Klingon." (Sisko and Odo)
- "But if you feel bad and you're my past self, shouldn't I feel bad too?" - "I hate temporal mechanics." (Future O'Brien, both O'Briens)
- Remarkable quotes:
- "I just don't see the appeal of this game. No lasers, no holograms, just steel tips and feathers." (Quark, about playing darts. He then throws some darts, so ineptly that they hit Morn.)
- "I think my holosuites can wait. It looks like you have bigger problems." (Quark to O'Brien, as he spots the other O'Brien)
- Remarkable fact: This is the first time that O'Brien and Bashir play darts in Quark's.
Stardate not given: An alien named Altovar attempts to steal biomimetic gel from the infirmary and stuns Bashir with an electric discharge. Bashir wakes up on a dim station, and with his hair beginning to gray. He also perceives strange whispering sounds. After escaping another assault by Altovar, Bashir joins Kira, O'Brien, Odo and Dax. O'Brien repairs the station's systems, and now the whispering voices clear up: It is the crew who are discussing Bashir's condition. When Bashir scans himself, he finds that he is in a coma, while everyone else exists just in his mind. Each of the other individuals represents a part of his personality, and Altovar is killing them one by one. With Bashir being around 100 years old and only Garak left to support him, the doctor goes to the infirmary and sets up a trap for Altovar. After successfully disabling the alien in his dreams, Bashir wakes up in the real infirmary.
The beginning of "Distant Voices" is remarkably similar to the one of "Visionary". The latter episode would have been lame, had O'Brien's visions of the future turned out to be mere hallucinations. "Distant Voices" is lame for exactly this reason, because Bashir's dream world is quite clearly not even remotely real. As the story unfolds, we quickly notice that it is not much more than a deluxe version of TNG: "Shades of Gray", the customarily scorned clip show - only with newly filmed scenes instead of the stock footage.
The only aspect of particular interest about the premise is Bashir's discomfort about his aging. Normal aging, as opposed to odd effects such as in TOS: "The Deadly Years", has rarely been a real issue in Star Trek before. On the other hand, it is quite contrived that the traumatic aging experience happens incidentally on Julian's thirtieth birthday, and that his immediate real-life concerns would determine the contents of his dreams, be they telepathically induced or not.
There are several more aspects that I don't like in this and in other stories of its kind. Firstly, at some point it becomes tiresome to watch with the knowledge that it is just a dream and that the real person is lying somewhere on a biobed. Secondly, I have an issue with characters acting and talking in a coma as if they were fully conscious. The visualization of dream sequences often involves more surreal effects than are used here, but I don't think that the style is the key problem. I simply don't believe that unconsciousness or a dream can be like real life, and could be mistaken for it. And that specific "actions" in the dream could have specific "effects" in real life. In a science fiction series I could rather accept that Bashir would be taken to some strange realm with different laws of physics, such as subspace, than the idea that essentially his human mind (with a little alien help) can do the very same trick. The seventh season episode "Extreme Measures" will take this to the extreme. Thirdly, the idea of splitting up a personality is a recurring theme ever since TOS: "The Enemy Within". Sure, Bashir's concept of people he knows representing the aspects of his personality is arguably a lot more plausible than two physically real Kirks with different characteristics. But I see it as a rather lame way to give the other actors something to do, and a boring variation of the Prophets' form of communication. I shouldn't blame particularly "Distance Voices" for it, but something similar will be done several times again on DS9, notably in "Facets", only a few episodes later.
Well, knowing what it is all about and after accordingly lowering my expectations, the episode doesn't turn out all that bad. It reinvigorates Bashir's friendship with Garak. While some earlier stages of Bashir's transformation are a bit over the top, Siddig El Fadil does a great job portraying the senile Bashir. His make-up is top-notch too. I also like some details, such as the bets at Quark's on Bashir's death, or the tennis balls behind the computer panel, representing Bashir's possible remorse about becoming a doctor, rather than a tennis player.
- Continuity: In "Q-Less" Bashir mentioned that he mixed up a pre-ganglionic fiber and a post-ganglionic nerve in his final exam, which is picked up by Altovar, the Lethean.
- Remarkable dialogue:"The problem with Cardassian enigma tales is that they all end the same way. All the suspects are always guilty." - "Yes, but the challenge is determining exactly who is guilty of what." (Bashir and Garak)
Stardate not given: "Smiley" O'Brien kidnaps Ben Sisko to the Mirror Universe. The commander is supposed to pose as his Mirror Universe counterpart who has recently been killed. Only Sisko can convince a Terran scientist who happens to be Jennifer Sisko to join the rebellion. Among the rebels Sisko meets Dax who is his lover in this universe, and also Bashir, Rom and Tuvok none of whom is aware of his true origin. On Terok Nor Sisko and O'Brien are immediately arrested, and Sisko is taken to Intendant Kira, whereas O'Brien is put into the ore processing plant. Sisko finally succeeds in convincing Jennifer, who is divorced from him in this universe, to come with him. He gives O'Brien a secret signal upon which he arranges the Terran workers' escape. When the three are cornered by Kira's and Garak's troops, they threaten to self-destruct the station and are allowed to leave. Before Sisko returns to his universe, Jennifer Sisko reveals that she was aware that he wasn't her Sisko.
When "Crossover", DS9's first take on the Mirror Universe, was being produced, it was apparently done without taking into account a possible follow-up. The basic idea, which still worked out well at the time of TOS: "Mirror, Mirror", did not appear serious enough to me to be extended to a story arc. Most Mirror characters were just too wacky to be credible, and important ones (Quark and Odo) were prematurely killed off. "Through the Looking Glass" tries to make the best of this premise, by toning down the craziness of characters a little and by preserving them for a sequel, which is unmistakably announced at the end of the episode.
I appreciate that "Through the Looking Glass" comes out as somewhat more serious and hence more credible than "Crossover". It doesn't go over the top so often and is still fun to watch. On the other hand, the new episode consolidates our impression of the Mirror Universe as a second-rate universe that is dependent on ours. It was destabilized in the first place due to our Kirk's interference, a second visit from our universe brought another rebellion, and now that the Mirror Sisko is dead there is no other way but to enlist the one from our universe to take his place.
I also miss the originality that governed "Crossover", then the first Mirror Universe episode in 25 years. "Through the Looking Glass" still has Mirror Kira as a definite highlight and a Smiley O'Brien whose self-confidence and whose importance keep growing. However, most of the other Mirror characters fail to impress me. I like very much how Sisko suddenly has a motivation to help the rebels when Smiley gives him a photo of Mirror Sisko's wife Jennifer. This Jennifer, as it shouldn't surprise us, is visually the same woman that our Sisko lost at Wolf 359, and Sisko vows,"I can't let her die. Not again." In my view is a pity that Mirror Jennifer Sisko comes out as so awfully austere. I think there should have been more in her of the woman we briefly saw in "Emissary". Granted, this is the Mirror Jennifer and she ought to be different in some fashion, but except in the final few minutes she was just too unattractive and unsympathetic and there was no chemistry between her and Sisko. It is amazing how much better Felecia Bell looks when she smiles! Mirror Jadzia plays a basically interesting role in this bizarre universe. Here she isn't the "Old Man" but is Sisko's mistress (with a far more attractive short hairdo than the one of "Past Tense"). Unfortunately the prudery of the franchise precludes her role from being explored in any fashion. Regarding Mirror Bashir, this is one of a few episodes where Siddig El Fadil's performance disappoints me. It looks like he can't pull off a mean or filthy person and stay credible. His acting appears rather artificial to me.
- Continuity: When the Cardassian and Klingon ships decloak above the raider, this episode clearly establishes that the Alliance is in possession of a cloaking device. This fact will be forgotten until the seventh season, when the whole episode "The Emperor's New Cloak" will be built on the premise that there is no cloak in the Mirror Universe.
- Remarkable appearance: Tim Russ as Tuvok is among the rebels.
- Remarkable sets: For the interior of the Terran raider the sets of the Defiant and the runabout cockpit were slightly redressed.
Stardate not given: An explosion shatters Garak's tailor shop on Deep Space 9. Partially due to Garak's unwillingness to talk, Odo does not find any solid evidence against the main suspect, a Flaxian named Retaya. Upon leaving the station Retaya's ship explodes, apparently because of Romulan sabotage. Odo surmises that Garak himself is responsible for the explosion in his shop to get the security chief involved. When he tells Garak that five Cardassian agents died in unfortunate accidents the same day that the shop was blown up, Garak becomes uneasy that someone might kill his mentor Enabran Tain, the former head of the Obsidian Order, likewise. Odo and Garak take a runabout to investigate Tain's recent disappearance when they are pulled inside a Romulan warbird. To their surprise they find Tain who has forged an alliance between the Obsidian Order and the Romulan Tal Shiar under Colonel Lovok. A combined fleet of warbirds and the ships that the Obsidian Order secretly built in the Orias system is going to destroy the Founders' homeworld in the Delta Quadrant. Garak was actually on Tain's assassination list as he could know too much, but now Tain grants him an opportunity to redeem himself - by torturing Odo in order to find out more about the Founders. Sisko is warned by Starfleet of the imminent military operation, and is ordered to stand by to be prepared for retaliatory attacks of the Jem'Hadar. But Sisko takes the Defiant to the Gamma Quadrant, hoping to find Odo on one of the attacking vessels. Commander Eddington, however, disables the cloaking under orders of Starfleet Command. On the warbird, Garak finally disables the restriction device and allows Odo to return to his fluid state. In orbit of the planet known to be the Founders' homeworld, all 19 Cardassian and Romulan ships open fire and devastate the surface. But the planet has been evacuated, and a fleet of 150 Jem'Hadar vessels ambush the Romulan-Cardassian fleet which is totally destroyed. With the help of Lovok, who is actually a Founder, Garak and Odo manage to escape and are rescued by the Defiant.
This two-part episode brings us the most intense story of the series so far. This is all the more remarkable as it wasn't meant to consist of two parts in the first place. Actually, the story of the attempted assassination of Garak was deemed too thin by the producers, so it was eventually combined with the the much anticipated follow-up to the events of "The Search" (where the Founder homeworld was discovered in the Omarion Nebula), and tie-ins from "Defiant" (the purpose of the Obsidian Order fleet) and "Visionary" (the Romulan insistence on acquiring intelligence on the Dominion). All these single pieces fit together so well, I was astonished when I first read the episode was heavily rewritten and extended to two parts at the request of Michael Piller.
The result is an excellent character study of Garak and his odd relationships with Odo, the man who would love to arrest him, and Tain, the man who tried to kill him. Well, after the explosion in Garak's shop at the beginning of "Improbable Cause" Odo's investigation proceeds quite slowly, and at times I am waiting in vain for something more to go on than just talking. On the other hand, I wouldn't want to miss all the lines of dialogue that are spot-on, especially those of Garak in which he ironically eludes all attempts to make him say anything true. The excitement is back as Odo and Garak are kidnapped by the Romulans and find no one else but Garak's mentor Tain on the warbird - with the ultimate plan to eliminate the Founders, Odo's people. The second part, "The Die Is Cast", carries on after this revelation, and it quickly loses steam like the first one. But once again the conversations, especially those of Garak with Tain and with Odo, are worth the wait for more action. The action returns in form of the so far biggest space battle of Star Trek, with lots of eye candy. And perhaps most importantly, the Defiant finally proves her battle worthiness after two rather unsuccessful engagements.
Perhaps this double feature does more to flesh out the character of Garak than all previous episodes combined. In any case it successfully establishes the previously practically non-existent relationship between Odo and Garak. It was foreseeable that the always honest and straightforward Constable would be at odds with the secretive and elusive Obsidian Order operative. Fortunately their clash does not follow an "odd couple" stereotype but takes place on a high intellectual level. The interaction of Garak with Tain is just as interesting because while Garak always puts on his fake smile and counters with irony when talking to Starfleet officers, he can't hide his feelings in the presence of Tain. It becomes obvious that Garak, unlike Tain, has qualms. Garak wants to save Mila from being assassinated, just as he tries to protect Odo on more than one occasion. While the announcement to have Mila killed may be a simple test by Tain how far (and perhaps too far) Garak would be willing to go to prove his loyalty, Tain's determination to have Odo tortured is dead serious. Odo, the skilled observer, may have noticed that Garak was not willing to take the final step of killing him, and I can understand why he rather quickly forgives Garak in the final scene, who is quite embarrassed about that.
It is also worth mentioning how Garak's close relationship to Enabran Tain that Odo notices before he even meets Tain foreshadows that Garak turns out to be Tain's son in the fifth-season episode "In Purgatory's Shadow". Also, Garak's supposition that there might be one person that Odo cares for alludes to Odo confessing his love to a fake Kira in "Heart of Stone" earlier this season.
Finally, on a still different note, when Eddington sabotages the cloaking device, this may be the first time in Star Trek that there is a genuine discord in Starfleet, and not one caused by a mad officer-of-the-week or a character that is leaving or is killed anyway. Well, Eddington will eventually switch sides though, in "For the Cause".
- Remarkable dialogues:
- "Have you ever heard the story about the boy who cried wolf?" - "No." - "It's a children's story about a young shepherd boy who gets lonely while tending his flock. So he cries out to the villagers that a wolf is attacking the sheep. The people come running, but of course there's no wolf. He claims that it's run away, and the villagers praise him for his vigilance." - "Clever lad. A charming story." - "I'm not finished. The next day the boy does it again, and the next day too, and on the fourth day a wolf really comes. The boy cries out at the top of his lungs, but the villagers ignore him and the boy and his flock are gobbled up." - "Well that's a little graphic for children, wouldn't you say?" - "But the point is, if you lie all the time, nobody's going to believe you even when you're telling the truth." - "Are you sure that's the point, Doctor?" - "Of course. What else could it be?" - "That you should never tell the same lie twice." (Bashir and Garak)
- "Garak, I was thinking that you and I should have breakfast together some time." - "Why, Constable, I thought you didn't eat." - "I don't." (Odo and Garak)
- Remarkable quote: "The truth is usually just an excuse for a lack of imagination." (Garak)
- Remarkable error: Garak speaks of a Talarian, while actually pointing at a Kobheerian.
Stardate not given: Sisko returns from Bajor with plans of an 800-year-old starship design, propelled only by solar wind. According to legend, Bajorans even crossed the interstellar distance to Cardassia in such ships, which Gul Dukat calls a "fairy tale". Jake overcomes his initial reluctance and joins his father, who is building the ship with very few concessions to modern times. They launch the vessel, and Jake uses the opportunity to tell his father about his plan to attend Pennington School in New Zealand. Soon they have to abandon one sail. Moreover, their vessel is caught in some sort of eddy. Thanks to tachyons, which have accelerated the sailing ship to warp speed, they wind up near Cardassia where Gul Dukat congratulates them and concedes that recently discovered ruins on Cardassia prove the existence of ancient Bajoran visitors.
I like about this episode how easily it ties together three very different plot threads. However, I also have the impression that the three plots lack the usual complexity, and that many lines of dialogue, not only in the Bashir story, are too blunt and are too obviously supposed to get things moving.
The plot about Sisko's lightship deserves praise already for the neat idea. Well, initially I was a bit worried that Ben Sisko would develop a similar obsession with the lightship as with the Saltah'na clock in DS9: "Dramatis Personae", but this apprehension turns out premature. However, it leaves me a bit disappointed that the exploratory mission, in which Sisko has the role of some sort of galactic Thor Heyrdahl, gradually makes way for the father-son story. I like how the tachyons provide the explanation for the historic mystery of ancient Bajorans visiting Cardassia with lightships. But in the end the discovery remains just a side note, and the appearance of the Cardassian welcome committee with the fireworks(!) appears to me as just a contrived attempt to provide it with some more weight in the story.
The best part of the episode is the one about Jake's literary ambitions and his relationship to his father, and this is Avery Brooks' and Cirroc Lofton's merit. Their performance as father and son who care for one another is absolutely credible, and their chemistry is awesome. If anything was missing from TNG that the concept of DS9 readily provides, it's this kind of close character relationships.
The subplot about Julian's jumpiness as he's going to meet Elizabeth Lense again is by far the weakest part of the episode. It comes out as so meaningless that it could have been dropped altogether. Also, Bashir and O'Brien's drinking scene is just awful. I generally dislike how the silly conduct and the illogical reasoning of drunk people is being used for comic relief on television. Sure, it is done on rather rare occasions on Star Trek, but most often on DS9.
Nitpicking: How large are the graduation classes at Starfleet Medical School, considering that Elizabeth Lense knew Julian Bashir only by name? And since when is "Julian Bashir" a name that could be mistaken as being of Andorian origin, considering that someone pointed out Julian to Elizabeth Lense, and she mistakenly believed it was the Andorian standing next to Julian? Finally, even if students don't normally introduce themselves to each other and even if there was a good reason for Lense to assume he was Andorian, wouldn't she at least remember the face?
The Bajoran solar sailing vessel definitely isn't built for warp, and the only concession to modern times is the gravity net that Sisko installed in the floor. If this is so, how can the ship and its passengers survive the jump to warp without SIF and IDF?
- Remarkable dialogue: "Oh, you sound just like a Cardassian." - "I beg your pardon?" - "They've denied the possibility of ancient contact for decades because they cannot stand the idea of Bajor having interstellar flight before they did." - "With all due respect, Major, you're beginning to sound like a Romulan." - "A Romulan?" - "There is no piece of technology in existence they don't claim they invented before everyone else." (Kira and O'Brien)
- Remarkable quote: "Well, I've heard that you can only write about what you've experienced. And you've got to admit, Deep Space 9 is a pretty good place to get experience." (Jake)
- Remarkable set: The interior of the Bajoran lightship has a distinctive Jules Verne feel.
- Remarkable facts:
- This is the first episode in which Leeta, played by Chase Masterson, appears.
- Kasidy Yates is mentioned for the first time, as the freighter captain that Sisko should date at Jake's suggestion.
- It is also the first episode in which Sisko sports a goatee. He would keep it until the end of the series.
- Bashir's mix-up of a pre-ganglionic fiber and a post-ganglionic nerve is once again referred to.
Stardate not given: Liquidator Brunt of the Ferengi Commerce Authority (FCA) presents Quark a writ of accountability because his mother is charged with making profit - which is illegal for women in the Ferengi Alliance. He and Rom travel to Ferenginar to make her sign a confession. They are shocked that their mother is also wearing clothes - which is considered indecent for women. Ishka admits that she made a profit of three bars of latinum. But Quark later discovers that it is actually much more, so much that it would ruin him, as he would have to refund it should she refuse. Infuriated that Ishka pretends to have the better lobes for business, he nonetheless decides to denounce his mother, and only Rom can stop him with the false story that she would share the profit. Eventually Ishka gives up, signs the confession and vows to pay back the profit. But, as she tells only Rom in private, just a third of her actual profit was accounted for.
After only three seasons there have already been so many explicit statements and throwaway lines about how Ferengi women are being treated, plus the whole episode "Rules of Acquisition", that it was about time the series visited the Ferengi homeworld. It was only still a matter of how to deal with the topic. Should such an episode actually show naked women in some way? Should it be half-way serious or rather fun?
Well, as soon as Quark and Rom have arrived on Ferenginar to witness with their own eyes the mess their mother Ishka has caused, "Family Business" chiefly draws on the twisted morality of the Ferengi. There is a good deal of comical potential in the fact that it is considered indecent for women to be dressed, and that Brunt reacts on Ishka's clothes in the same way as a human male on a naked human female (of her age). Or in the phrase "My house is my house" that is highly unsociable by human standards. This potential, however, is exhausted soon and becomes rather ridiculous as Moogie undresses and caresses Rom (who thinks he is her favorite son) as if he were a baby.
Fortunately Moogie's and Quark's dilemmas are recognizable in the overall cutesy family story. Ishka has committed a crime by Ferengi laws and moral standards, which may have tough financial consequences for Quark besides the disgrace of having such a mother. As funny it may appear at times, sexual discrimination and kin liability is the law on Ferenginar, not to mention corruption. On the other hand, the episode becomes rather boring after the first shock, even as Quark discovers that Ishka has earned so much money that the refund would ruin him.
I like the last ten minutes and the resolution for several reasons. Firstly, the scene in the Tower of Commerce with the extra charges for the elevator and for sitting down is priceless. It is situation comedy at its finest and comes just in the right dose not to appear as silly. Secondly, I just love how Rom lies to Quark (that Ishka would share her profit with him) and to Ishka (that Quark would allow her to keep her earnings). Rom can be ingenious when it is in need, a special ability that he will prove on a few more occasions. Thirdly, it is ironical that with her "lobes" for business Ishka does not only outclass her late husband but also most other Ferengi males. If any proof for granting equal rights for women was still required, Ishka readily provides it. On a further note, Ishka joins the ranks of many people on our own planet who speak out against racial and sexual discrimination and who are unjustly labeled as enemies by the ruling class although they want to preserve exactly the kind of society that fights them.
- Remarkable quote: "The Rubicon it is. You know, the rate we go through runabouts, it's a good thing the Earth has so many rivers." (Kira, to Sisko, about the new Runabout)
- Remarkable greeting: The host greets his guest with the words "Remember, my house is my house." The guest replies, "As are its contents."
- Remarkable facts:
- It is the first time that we see three recurring characters: Brunt, FCA, Ishka and the previously mentioned Kasidy Yates.
- It is also the first time that we see Ferenginar.
- There are six baseball teams on Cestus III, including the Pike City Pioneers and the Cestus Comets.
- A subspace signal takes three weeks from Cestus III, on the opposite side of the Federation, to the station.
- Cestus III previously appeared as the disputed planet in TOS: "Arena". The conflict with the Gorn has obviously been settled by the 24th century.
Stardate not given: After the death of the Bajoran Prime Minister, Kai Winn is appointed his duties and is going to be formally elected. Winn calls Kira to help her retrieve soil reclamators from a group of stubborn farmers in Kira's home province Dakhur. Among them is Shakaar Edon who led Kira's resistance cell during the Cardassian occupation. But Shakaar refuses to give the reclamators back that he thinks are more urgently needed to feed his people than to produce for export in the Rakantha province. When Winn sends troops to arrest Shakaar, Kira joins his group and hides in the mountains for weeks. They finally agree to a cease-fire with General Lenaris Holem. Lenaris takes the pair to Winn's office where Shakaar announces that he would run for prime minister. Winn recognizes that it would be better to step down from the election, having no chance against the popular Shakaar.
I have no real problem with "Shakaar" except that's it's very boring. It may be a good idea to let a story unfold unhurriedly instead of jumping into action. However, almost nothing of further significance happens in the first half of the episode. It is more like a protracted exposition as Kira is consecutively talking to Sisko, to Odo, to Winn, to Shakaar and to Lupaza and Furel. It is almost like a tiresome lesson in Bajoran geography, economics and politics and a reiteration of Kira's personal history.
At that point of the story I was still hoping for something exciting to happen in the second half. After all the candidacy of Kai Winn, Kira's nemesis, for the position of the Bajoran First Minister, created certain expectations. But essentially the story remains a matter of agriculture and of local affairs, rather than a real conflict. The mini-insurrection that Kira and Shakaar pull off, in which the situation is on a knife's edge for just a moment, is rather disappointing. And the swift and unrealistic resolution that the suddenly immensely popular Shakaar runs against Winn looks like a final attempt to give the story some more significance.
All in all "Shakaar" feels like a first-season episode, the season in which the comparably petty problems of Bajoran villagers were repeatedly in the focus, such as notably in "The Storyteller". There are many similarities especially to "Progress", with its tilting-against-windmills theme. And the idea of Kira Nerys rebelling against the Bajoran government is already known from "The Siege", only much more exciting there. We have to wonder anyway how Kira always gets weeks of special leave for her various excursions and why she never needs to justify them to Sisko. Anyway, speaking of "The Siege", Shakaar Edon feels a lot like a re-issue of Li Nalas. If the introduction of Shakaar Edon was meant to compensate for the loss of Vedek Bareil with a more interesting character, the story missed this goal by a wide margin.
On a side note, the episode also features a quite unsympathetic bigheaded Vulcan named Syvar, who complains to Quark about O'Brien not finishing the dart game. I had already forgotten about him, but this character, which at the time was quite un-Vulcan, sort of foreshadows the two "evil Vulcan" episodes of the seventh season, "Take Me Out to the Holosuite" and "Field of Fire".
Two points just for the good characterization of Major Kira and for the nice shoots on location.
- Remarkable quote: "It has been my observation that one of the prices of giving people freedom of choice is that sometimes they make the wrong choice." (Odo, referring to the forthcoming elections in which Kai Winn is the favorite)
- Remarkable appearance: We could previously see Duncan Regehr (Shakaar Edon) as Ronin in TNG: "Sub Rosa".
- Remarkable prop: We se the Bajoran phaser rifle for the first time.
- Remarkable facts: The Rakantha Province was once known as one of the most productive agricultural regions on Bajor, until the Cardassians poisoned the soil. Kira Nerys is from the Dakhur Province.
Stardate 48959.1: Dax prepares to undergo the zhian'tara, a ceremony in which joined Trills transfer the personalities of previous hosts to other individuals. Kira takes over Lela's personality, with O'Brien following as Tobin, Leeta as Emony, Quark as the (female) Audrid and Bashir as the unfortunate Torias who died in a shuttle accident. Sisko has the hardest part, as he is going to be Joran, the criminal host, and he is locked up in a holding cell for everyone's safety. When Joran/Sisko persuades Jadzia to lower the forcefield, he assaults her, but fortunately she can disable him with precise blows. Odo literally morphs into Curzon Dax when he takes over this part. Jadzia is uneasy with Curzon, who once forced her out of the initiate program, separated from her. To her surprise, Curzon announces that he would stay in Odo's body. But Jadzia confronts him with the true reason why he did not want her to be joined - Curzon was in love with her. After this revelation he agrees to be reintegrated with Dax. In the meantime, Nog has passed his entrance exam for Starfleet Academy and proudly wears his future cadet uniform for the first time.
DS9 is very fond of using its established characters and the respective actors to embody someone or something else, be it in visions of the Prophets, in simulations or in dreams. Only recently, in "Distant Voices", we could see the denizens of the station in Bashir's rather lame alien-induced hallucination. The idea to have Jadzia Dax' friends accommodate the various individuals that make up her multifaceted personality appears like one of the better variants of the theme. After all it involves the real characters to some extent and not just phony illusions or simulations. But knowing that Joran was a murderer and Curzon used to be quite brash, it is self-evident that one or both of these two former hosts would cause trouble in some form, making the story rather predictable. But even worse the concept of the zhian'tara is flawed from the start.
I have a problem with the supernatural alien mumbo-jumbo that surrounds the ceremony. It is as if being composed of a symbiont and a host was not deemed alien enough for the Trill. Now they also have the miraculous ability of telepathic mind transfer, much like in the Vulcan katra ritual. It is a stretch that not just Jadzia's humanoid friends with their supposedly similar brain structures but even Odo are available as hosts for the hosts. And considering that "Facets" takes the telepathic abilities of Trill so far, it is a pity that it is never really referred to again. The zhian'tara also accomplishes much the same as the split-up of Kirk in TOS: "The Enemy Within", and the DS9 variant is in no way more plausible. On the contrary, the idea that the contributions of single former hosts can be simply separated from the rest is in direct contradiction to the clear statements about the nature of the Trill in DS9: "Dax". In this first-season episode Ben Sisko still made a big deal about Jadzia Dax being a completely new person in which all the aspects of the symbiont, the former and the current host are inseparably combined. The zhian'tara, in contrast, does not only separate the memories of a former host but also this host's consciousness. It seems that the former host comes to life again as if he had never been joined!
I also call into question why the criminal Joran would be a part of the zhian'tara in the first place. In "Equilibrium" the Symbiosis Commission still denied his existence and now it seems they insist on him being involved like every other host. Well, the suggestion could come from Jadzia, but I think it is a mistake in the first place. And it makes me wonder once again. If it is so easy t remove Joran from Dax, why wasn't it considered an option in "Equilibrium"? Because it would have meant Joran's "death"?
On a positive note, we learn a great deal about Dax' previous hosts, even though the zhian'tara just works off a list of previous hosts that appear for just one scene, with the notable exceptions of the criminal Joran and of Curzon. Unfortunately of all previous hosts Curzon comes across as the least sympathetic. He is overbearing and a notorious drunkard. I wonder, can Curzon taste the alcohol while in Odo's body? It seems so.
It is also worth mentioning that Jadzia appears to be very demotivated and intimidated once she is without Curzon's consciousness. This is very reminiscent of the weakness of the "good" Kirk in "The Enemy Within". However, it is also a recurring theme in DS9, seeing that Jadzia was equally passive and almost lethargic in "Dax " and "Invasive Procedures", two other episodes with focus on her nature as a joined Trill.
On a final note, Curzon's (and purportedly Odo's) decision to stay in Odo's body sort of foreshadows the events in VOY: "Tuvix", only that in the Voyager episode will go much further in tackling the ethical issues of such an accidentally created combined personality.
- Remarkable quote:"It just occurred to me. As soon as that kid graduates from the Academy, I'm going to have to call him sir." (O'Brien, about Nog)
- Remarkable fun scene: While Nog is practicing runabout flight in the holodeck, Jake suddenly appears "in open space" in front of the windshield.
- Embodiments of former hosts: Kira - Lela, O'Brien - Tobin, Leeta - Emony, Quark - Audrid, Bashir - Torias, Sisko - Joran, Odo - Curzon
- Remarkable fact: It is the first time that we see Nog in a Starfleet uniform, although he isn't officially a cadet yet.
Stardate 48962.5: Ambassador Krajensky informs Sisko, who has just been promoted to the rank of captain, of a coup on the Tzenkethi homeworld that would also threaten some nearby Federation colonies. With the Defiant on the way to that sector, a distress call from Barisa Prime states that they are under attack by the Tzenkethi. But Krajensky, who is actually a changeling, has deceived everyone aboard, in the hopes of causing a war between the Federation and the Tzenkethi. He morphs and escapes through a hatch. In the following the changeling continues to fool the crew among whom suspicion arises that anyone could be the intruder. Odo discovers that Sisko is bleeding, inferring that he can't be a changeling because parts separated from the body would return to their gelatinous state. Now they have found a method to expose the changeling. But with the Defiant entering Tzenkethi space with activated weapons, Sisko has to order the ship's self-destruction, giving O'Brien only ten minutes to regain control. During a scuffle in the engineering room Odo jabs the other changeling who falls into the field surrounding the warp core and dies. The changeling's last words are: "You are too late. We are everywhere."
The third season ends with an extraordinarily exciting story and with the long-anticipated return of the Dominion. Just as they did in "The Jem'Hadar", "The Search" and "Heart of Stone", the Founders once again seek to accomplish their goals through manipulation and deception in the first place, and they resort to brute force only if not otherwise possible. This doesn't make them more sympathetic than other villains, however. On the contrary, the threat that lies in their ability to pose as anything or anyone else is particularly insidious compared to the open warfare of the Federation's usual enemies.
Considering how tempting it must have been for the DS9 writing staff to play with the idea of a recurring enemy that can take on any shape, thereby creating confusion and mistrust among the crew, it is surprising that they have chosen to feature disguised changelings on comparably few episodes. One possible reason not to use the theme very often may have been that especially TOS already had its share of "false Kirks". And speaking of false Kirks, the scene in which O'Brien is asked to choose the right Odo out of two and decides to carry on with his work instead is much like parody of the according scene with two Kirks in TOS: "Whom Gods Destroy".
Anyway, "The Adversary" is arguably the best depiction of a changeling infiltration, also because the paranoia of the crew is emphasized by the claustrophobic corridors and crawlways of the Defiant. The episode marks the beginning of the changeling hysteria that will continue in "The Way of the Warrior" and "Homefront / Paradise Lost" (up to the point that the changelings won't have to do anything themselves to cause damage).
At first "The Adversary" doesn't look very promising. The episode starts off very slowly, with a lot of banter that surrounds Sisko's promotion. This changes as O'Brien is working in engineering and startles. I usually don't like being told that something unusual is going on just by the music that switches to an eerie theme, but this time it is absolutely fitting. The first highlight of the episode is when the crew attempts to find the saboteur that is not yet known to be a changeling, and suddenly Krajensky morphs to a fluid state and vanishes. Changelings have never been so menacing before. From then the episode is as thrilling as few others of the series, with the second highlight being the blood screening that the fake Dr. Bashir manipulates in a way that Eddington appears to be the changeling for a moment. This is an ingenious idea, considering that Eddington, who appeared only infrequently in the third season, came across as rather dislikable and would have made a perfect character to get rid off by the end of the season. They got me with this red herring!
- The script picks up the line "No changeling has ever harmed another" (as it was first mentioned in "The Search"). Odo would become the first of his kind to break this law, and he would receive his punishment in DS9: "Broken Link".
- This episode establishes blood screenings to expose changelings. Ironically, the very first screening already fails, because it is performed by a changeling disguised as Dr. Bashir, who falsely creates the impression that Eddington is a changeling.
- Remarkable quote: "I've got more important things to do than play Choose the Changeling. Keep the phaser on both of them." (O'Brien. to the other engineer, as he is supposed to pick the right one among two Odos)
- Remarkable scene: As Sisko records his "final Commander's log", we are led to believe that he will leave the station. But in reality it hints at his promotion.
- Remarkable effects: "The Adversary" is full of amazing changeling morphing effects like no other episode before. But above all I like the surprising "morphing circuits" when O'Brien investigates the conduits.
- Remarkable sets: We see the engineering set, the mess hall and the extended corridors of the Defiant for the first time.
- Remarkable facts:
- There are 47 people aboard the Defiant.
- The champagne on the occasion of Sisko's promotion is a Château Cléon, 2303.