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Deep Space Nine (DS9) Season 4

Season 1 - Season 2 - Season 3 - Season 4 - Season 5 - Season 6 - Season 7

 

The episode descriptions are given in normal text, my comments in small text. Rating: 0=worst, 10=best (rating system)

 

The Way of the Warrior I/II Stardate 49011.4: A Klingon fleet headed by General Martok arrives at Deep Space 9, allegedly to help the Federation fight against the Dominion. In order to figure out what the Klingon presence is really about, Lt. Commander Worf is summoned to the station. He learns that the Klingons are preparing an invasion of Cardassia, asserting that the Cardassian government has been infiltrated by Changelings. Sisko gives Garak a cue so the Cardassians have at least a slight chance to defend themselves. Starfleet orders Sisko to remain neutral in the conflict though. The Federation officially condemns the attack, and the Klingons react by calling off the peace treaty. When the victorious Klingon fleet returns from Cardassia, Gowron offers Worf to redeem himself, but he declines, upon which Gowron strips the House of Mogh of its honor. With the help of the Defiant Sisko manages to rescue a couple of Cardassian council members, among them the recently appointed Legate Dukat. The Klingon fleet beleaguers Deep Space 9, demanding their extradition. Sisko refuses, and many Klingon ships fall victim to the upgraded tactical systems of the station. Grudgingly Gowron orders the fleet to retreat, but the Klingons are not willing to give up the Cardassian colonies they have conquered.

"You are too late. We are everywhere..." That's how the season finale "The Adversary" ended. My hopes for "The Way of the Warrior" to become thrilling were accordingly high. And already the teaser with the Changeling hunt keeps the promise. It is not just the so far most spectacular space battle in Star Trek's history or the mere fact that Worf, a favorite character from TNG, permanently joins the crew that makes this episode extraordinary. "The Way of the Warrior" draws on the characters and on their relationships, on the realism that lies in the plot and on the overall quality in the screenplay and the directing. Everything is spot-on. Actually, if I were to give out an award for the best dramatic presentation in Star Trek, it would go to "The Way of the Warrior".
The episode is also remarkable as it opens a whole new chapter in the series. The first two seasons of DS9 that focused on past conflicts and on more or less "every-day" problems were rather easy-going in hindsight. The third one wound up as more spirited, thanks to the Dominion as a "phantom menace" and to the Defiant that provided extended mission options. With the opener of the fourth season the series enters its next phase, one in which some things that have long been part of the lore are being challenged, and not just for one episode. It shows that this can be quite exciting if done with care. In anticipation of the following episodes, the series takes a new course, it never really knows where it is going but exactly this is the interesting thing about the season.
"The Way of the Warrior" may have wound up as a disappointment, seeing that it draws on the Founders' frightening threat, but none of them even appears in the two-part episode. Instead of the Dominion the Klingons suddenly become the prime menace to the station. This twist comes totally unexpected, especially considering how detrimental a conflict of the Federation with the Klingons would have been in TNG. But DS9 is not TNG, and as boring many episodes of the first three seasons may have been, they have successfully laid the foundation for a different kind of series, a series whose premise is, perhaps paradoxically, not as "stationary" as in TNG.
Regarding Worf's dilemma, I think we can all appreciate that he does not join Gowron's glorified quest. But while we may look at it from a human/Federation viewpoint, as we would not want to be drawn into an unjust war, Worf's decision also has a very personal, a Klingon perspective. Gowron greets Worf as his friend, but that is a mere lip service. In TNG: "Sins of the Father" Worf accepted to be dishonored in order to avoid a civil war. After becoming and remaining chancellor, both with Worf's help, Gowron has never really done anything for him. The chancellor only restored Worf's honor when it became blindingly obvious that Mogh was not guilty of treason and absolutely necessary to reward the Mogh family for their loyalty in TNG: "Redemption". So why is it that Worf has to redeem himself yet again? For Worf it is a matter of honor not to follow a man who is swimming with the stream, who is just seeking his personal benefit, and who may be rather interested in political matters (as he was described as early as in TNG: "Reunion") even though he pretends to be a true warrior. Although my insight comes late, this episode sort of foreshadows the events in DS9: "Tacking into the Wind" when Worf finally kills Gowron in a duel. Gowron's character remains dubious all the time, although in the end his wise decision to end the attack on the station makes him look better than the reckless warrior Martok.
The two holodeck interludes of Jadzia and Nerys are the only thing I don't quite like about the episode. It is just comic relief without any bearing on the characters or the story (something that Quark is usually better suited for). As Nerys didn't enjoy the Trill version of a sauna and remained stiff, it begs the question anyway why she would care at all joining Jadzia in the Arthurian Legend holoprogram. Her embarrassment when the two run into Worf for the first time ("Nice hat.") is funny yet gratuitous. On the other hand, with Worf and Jadzia later using the holodeck for their bat'leth practice (as an early hint at their later relationship), the contrast of the holoprograms nicely reflects the change for the worse in the real life of the episode.
It is remarkable anyway how well Worf is being introduced, beyond the point of merely becoming acquainted with the crew of Deep Space 9. It seems the station has been waiting for him all along. He finds a partner, not only for combat practice, in Jadzia. He finds an advisor who had similar doubts about staying in Starfleet in Sisko. He could have found a soul mate in Odo. Perhaps, based on their common destiny of being outcasts who allegedly betrayed their people, the two should have developed a closer friendship in the following. Anyway, it is also good to see how O'Brien cares to facilitate Worf's integration, but mostly out of courtesy. They were never really more than colleagues on the Enterprise.
This episode is only the second appearance of Kasidy Yates after "Family Business". DS9 already had a reputation for consistently recurring characters, so we could expect to see her again. The time to give her a more active role in "The Way of the Warrior" was well chosen. Although Jake (who is missing in the episode for some reason) may have filled that role as well, it was necessary to show that Sisko and pretty much everyone else are not lone wolves who go to a battle on their own risk but that they do have families. So we learn almost casually that Kasidy is more to the captain than just a passing love interest.
Remarkable dialogues: "But they broke seven of your transverse ribs and fractured your clavicle!" - "Ah, but I got off several cutting remarks which no doubt did serious damage to their egos." (Bashir and Garak, after the tailor has been assaulted by Klingons), "Let me guess - Klingon bloodwine." - "Prune juice, chilled." (Quark and Worf), "Care for a game of darts?" - "I do not play games." - "Oh, it's like poker, uhm, but with pointed tips." (Bashir, Worf, O'Brien), "Captain, would you kindly inform the security guard that he does not have to monitor my every move. It makes me feel unwelcome." - "Looks like I won, Benjamin. You owe me a dinner." - "And what is that supposed to mean?" - "Captain Sisko bet me that you would thank him for the rescue before you started complaining." - "I lost." (Dukat, Jadzia, Sisko), "I find this hand-to-hand combat really quite distasteful!" - "I suppose you prefer the simplicity of an interrogation chamber!" - "You have to admit - it's much more civilized!" (Garak and Dukat, in the heat of the battle)
Remarkable quotes: "Curzon once told me that in the end, the only ones who can really handle Klingons - are Klingons. Get me Starfleet Command." (Sisko), "He said, 'Today is a good day to die.'" (Worf, translating Gowron's words), "WE WILL NOT SURRENDER!" (Martok)
Remarkable scene: In order to warn the Cardassians of the Klingon attack without breaking his orders, Captain Sisko has Garak come to the wardroom because he needs "a new suit", while he is discussing the situation with his senior officers.
Remarkable facts: Jadzia Dax has been promoted to lieutenant commander, Julian Bashir to (full) lieutenant. -- Kasidy gives Sisko a baseball cap of the Pike City Pioneers on Cestus III (as already mentioned in DS9: "Family Business"). There Sisko could watch a real baseball game, although it would be a trip of eight weeks at maximum warp. -- Worf mentions that he attempted to contact Emperor Kahless (the clone of TNG: "Rightful Heir"). -- There is a (female?) Pakled in Quark's (visible just after Worf declined to join Gowron's fight).
Remarkable baldness: Captain Sisko will be seen without hair from now on.
Rating: 10

The Visitor Stardate not given: An aged Jake Sisko tells the young aspiring writer Melanie the story of his life. When Jake was 18 years old, his father, Ben Sisko, apparently died in an accident on the Defiant when he was hit by a light bolt from the warp core during an experiment. But time and again the captain rematerialized in the following years. Jake, who had become a successful author in the meantime, his principal work being the novel Anslem, decided to start over and study subspace mechanics. But the attempt to to exactly reproduce the experiment to retrieve his father from subspace failed. Ben was just able to tell his son to finally let go. Old Jake expects Ben to appear one last time, and he takes a poison to die in the very moment when his father is with him. Now that the cord between the two is broken, Ben is hurled back to the moment of the accident. Knowing what would happen, he ducks when the light bolt strikes, gaining a second chance to live with his son.

Jake Sisko, unlike the Enterprise's resident supergeek Wesley Crusher, was conceived as an average teenage boy. To Jake the station used to be a playground, a wonderful place to mess around, especially since he became friends with Nog. It was clear that Ben Sisko's son would not really be involved in the station's operation and hence not have a decisive part in the many stories that dealt with Bajoran politics, interstellar conflicts, technical problems or scientific phenomena. Well, unless Jake had prematurely joined the staff in a similar fashion as Wesley did on TNG. Perhaps appropriately for his age, he didn't have to learn his lessons the hard way. Jake's biggest mishap thus far was his crush on Major Kira in DS9: "Fascination", his biggest dilemma was how to tell his father that he didn't want to follow in his footsteps in DS9: "Shadowplay".
"The Visitor" is the first time that we can see Jake's character in a serious conflict, and even in a very tough one. Jake regains and loses his father several times over the years. As Jake notes himself, the fact that his father is alive but out of reach somewhere in subspace is harder to cope with than the knowledge of his certain death. It is touching how Jake dedicates his whole life to retrieve his father, how he learns the minutiae of a subject he was never really interested in, how he ultimately sacrifices his career as an author, his marriage and many years of his life. Ben Sisko, on the other hand, is a father who has just a couple of minutes in decades to guide his son. Actually, he experiences only these very few minutes of time altogether while Jake is growing up and growing old. And still the father clearly notices what has gone awry in his son's life. 
I don't think that Jake's and Ben's destiny is totally beside the point, in spite of the twisted science invoked to produce it. Actually Jake finds himself in a similar situation as the relatives of a comatose patient. Even if the family of the latter would wish nothing more than to speak to their beloved one just one more time, losing him or her time and again would devastate them. People need reasonable certainty in their lives, they need to move on after a defeat or loss, they can't mourn the past forever. That is what Ben Sisko keeps telling his son all along each time he briefly appears. And here lies the only notable weakness, the only real inconsistency of the father-and-son story. Ironically old Jake is successful in the very end and seems to prove his obsession right. But under any other and any more realistic circumstances he would have made a huge mistake by throwing his life away like he does here. Yes, love is stronger than death. But the death or disappearance of a beloved person should not knock Jake or anyone else completely off the track, even up to committing suicide - which is only a bit alleviated by the fact that Jake is very old at the time. It is certainly not the underlying intention of the episode to sanction a suicide, but the rightfulness of Jake's decision is only saved by rather unlikely twists.
The episode most importantly thrives on fine performances. Cirroc Lofton really does a good job, but ironically most of the credit goes to Tony Todd as the aged Jake. He is the most memorable guest star in quite a while. I bet not only old Jake but also many of the fans watching the episode had tears in their eyes in the end. Even though we may discard the character development of "The Visitor" as yet another alternate future whose existence is erased in the end, it shows the true potential of Jake's character. Although his decision to attain a goal at any cost is debatable, it credibly outlines a future in the course of which Jake not only matures but gradually broadens his horizon. The Jake in "The Visitor" dies as a wise old man in every respect.
Overall, the story has a couple of logical flaws. As with all time travel stories, there are a few issues discussed on my page on Time Travel in DS9. In this particular case it is contrived how Jake is somehow responsible for his father being in subspace, and how his death could not only cut this bond but even reset all events that happened. But my feeling is that this time it was worth bending the laws of logic a bit.
I know from other reviews that "The Visitor" has a special place in many fans' hearts, and I can only agree with almost everything positive written about it elsewhere. There are reasons for "The Visitor" to stand out from the crowd. Despite some shortcomings it is an almost perfect blend of an exciting alternate future and a sentimental personal story, with emphasis on the latter, in a way it has not been done before on Star Trek and will not be done as successfully again. We already know some basic elements of the story from TOS: "The Tholian Web", when Kirk vanished, was declared dead and reappeared as a "ghost". Notwithstanding the great interaction of Bones and Spock in the TOS episode, there is a lot more emotional attachment in "The Visitor". ENT: "Daedalus" will revisit the motive once again, with switched roles, as Emory Erickson is dedicated to retrieve the son he lost in a transporter accident. The Enterprise episode shows strong emotions too, but is overall not very original.
Remarkable dialogue: "You are my favorite author of all time." - "You should read more." (Melanie and old Jake)
Remarkable quote: "Let go, Jake. If not for yourself, then for me. You still have time to make a better life for yourself. Promise me you'll do that. Promise me!" (Ben Sisko)
Remarkable fact: Jake Sisko will actually begin to write the novel Anslem in DS9: "The Muse", later this season and much earlier than in the alternate history of "The Visitor".
Rating: 8

Hippocratic Oath Stardate 49066.5: On a remote planet O'Brien and Dr. Bashir are captured by a group of Jem'Hadar led by Goran'Agar. Their life is spared because Goran'Agar, who has become immune to the effects of the drug Ketracel white, wants Bashir to develop a cure for his soldiers. While O'Brien is secretly working on their escape, Bashir commits himself to helping the Jem'Hadar to free themselves of the tyranny of the Dominion. O'Brien, who disagrees with helping soldiers who are bred to kill, escapes without the doctor. When he returns and Bashir refuses to come with him, O'Brien destroys the doctor's research. Goran'Agar allows them to leave, determined to kill his men who are running out of Ketracel white or be killed by them, rather than letting them suffer.

It has been several years since I last watched this episode, and I couldn't remember more from it than a few key facts: O'Brien and Bashir crash their runabout in the Gamma Quadrant and are stranded with Jem'Hadar who force Julian to work on removing their Ketracel white addiction. Now that I have seen it again I know that my faint memory had a reason. Nothing very exciting or very memorable happens in this episode. It is a slight variation of the standard plot that starts with a shuttle crash, followed by captivity and some character conflict and concludes with a lucky escape. 
But I wouldn't do justice to this episode if I reduced it to only the admittedly rather boring basic plot. Bashir's and O'Brien's conflict is their first one in a long time. I find it appropriate that Julian chooses to help the Jem'Hadar up to a certain point, although they are conditioned to fight against the Federation, whereas O'Brien becomes a soldier again who takes any chance to escape, not caring at all about the welfare of his enemies. There is a heated debate between Julian and Miles whether they should help the Jem'Hadar. Both have good points, and none of them goes over the top. Julian's higher rank may have prevented Miles from doing more for their escape, but this only plays a role at one point in the episode when Julian orders O'Brien to assist him. I am glad the authors remembered that Julian is the superior officer, as the rank pips must have some meaning after all, even in captivity. In the end Julian only looks a bit better because if it had been for him the Jem'Hadar might have survived, while O'Brien destroys his friend's research and thereby any chance to save the Dominion soldiers. But was there a realistic chance for Julian to cure the Jem'Hadar at all? He himself tells their leader Goran'Agar that in his special case a spontaneous mutation may have removed his drug addiction, in which case it would have been almost impossible to cure the rest in a matter of just a few days. When O'Brien fires at the console he takes the last chance to drag Julian away from his work and the planet. As already hinted at, Julian is not obsessed with helping the Jem'Hadar at any rate, he just misses the right opportunity to stop. Bearing in mind that they use to be friends on the station, I find his conflict with Miles quite realistic and I am glad that none of them becomes frantic.
The other highlight of the episode is Goran'Agar. He gives the so far anonymous Jem'Hadar a face and a name. He represents the individuality (as Julian says , "They are people.") in the crowd. I only wonder if it wasn't too early to hint at dissenters in the Dominion, before the outbreak of open hostilities. It used to be similar with the Borg, among whom Hugh was the first one (that we know of) to regain his individuality in TNG: "I, Borg", with the disastrous result that others separated from the Collective in TNG: "Descent". In hindsight, DS9 repeats this basic course of events, considering that "To the Death", later this season, will indeed show renegade Jem'Hadar (albeit not as a result of the events in "Hippocratic Oath").
In a small sub-plot, Worf's way of working as a security officer clashes with Odo's. Worf would never sneak around the way Odo does. He does everything by the book (well, unless he is in a Klingon rage). But as Worf's consultation with Sisko and his later interference with Odo's investigation shows, he is just not supposed to chase smugglers but to coordinate Starfleet's activities. The bottom line is that Worf causes much ado about nothing. And honestly, Odo's way isn't really that different than Worf's. Only that the Constable is even less likely to share his secret knowledge. Overall, I didn't care about this rather pointless part of the episode.
Remarkable quote: "You are a soldier." - "I have been." - "Then you'll explain." (Goran'Agar, asking O'Brien to explain to Bashir why he has to stay with his men)
Remarkable appearance: Scott MacDonald, who plays Goran'Agar here, previously appeared as Tosk in DS9: "Captive Pursuit".
Remarkable facts: Goran'Agar says that O'Brien is a chief petty officer. -- The Klingons have attacked (Federation) outposts along the Romulan border. -- We see Sisko work on his Saltah'na clock (from DS9: "Dramatis Personae"). 
Rating: 5

Indiscretion Stardate not given: Kira Nerys retrieves information where to find the Ravinok, a Cardassian transport carrying Bajoran prisoners that vanished six years ago. She reluctantly agrees when Cardassian Legate Dukat demands to join her. They take a runabout to the Dozaria system where they actually find the wreck of the Ravinok and evidence that some of the passengers could still be alive. Dukat reveals to Kira that he has come to seek his half-Bajoran daughter Tora Ziyal, only to kill her because her existence would disgrace the high-ranking Cardassian government official. They actually find Ziyal and a few more prisoners in a labor camp run by the Breen. After disabling the Breen, Dukat points his weapon at Ziyal and Kira takes aim at Dukat - but overwhelmed by his feelings he doesn't shoot. He decides to take his daughter with him even though it would likely cost him his position.

This episode's teaser is very unremarkable, as yet another so far unseen former Bajoran comrade contacts Major Kira about yet another so far unmentioned mystery from the time of the Cardassian occupation. We have had so many stories along these lines before that it has become boring. When I first watched "Indiscretion", even as Legate Dukat entered the scene, the arguably greatest guest character of the series at the time, I was still unsure whether the episode could possibly take an interesting and new direction. On the contrary, I have already expressed my displeasure about DS9's fondness of stranding an odd couple on a lonely planet in some other reviews. Episodes of this kind are usually contrived to start with, which may be compensated by good acting and elaborate dialogues, but they rarely entail lasting consequences after the rescue. The prospect of seeing Kira and Dukat as an unlikely couple on an unlikely quest was close enough to that trope to lower my expectations for the rest of the episode to an absolute minimum.
But, surprisingly for me, "Indiscretion" took a turn to becoming a remarkable episode. The combination of Kira and Dukat works wonderfully, owing to a good script and to careful directing (by LeVar Burton) but most importantly thanks to the wonderful performances of Nana Visitor and Marc Alaimo. They visibly have fun in their roles. And it was clearly worth the effort of shooting parts of the episode on location in the desert. 
Kira Nerys is my favorite DS9 character anyway, and "Indiscretion" does an absolutely convincing job to develop some sort of relationship between her and the arch villain Dukat. She normally wouldn't even bother to talk to an ordinary Cardassian (although her stance should have changed somewhat at latest since the events of "Second Skin"). It is the biggest possible affront that she is suddenly expected to work together with the former head of the Cardassian occupation forces, with the man who ordered many of the crimes against her people. But as their mutual prejudices must take a back seat on their mission the two more than just get along, even before they discover that Dukat's daughter is alive. Even as Dukat announces that he would kill Ziyal, Kira does not turn her back on him. On the contrary, the two even move closer together with the additional emotional impact. It was clear that he wouldn't really shoot his daughter even if only Kira would prevent it from happening. The way that Dukat is first determined to get rid of the "problem" Ziyal but then succumbs to his feelings adds complexity to the episode as a whole and to his character. He is still a villain but he exhibits a soft side, one that lets him appear likable for the first time in the series (although we should not fall for the "Hitler loved his dog" fallacy, not even in fiction).
Everything that happens in "Indiscretion" may not be important in the context of interstellar politics but it will be very relevant in future episodes. Tora Ziyal remains present as a recurring character. She lives in two worlds, and her existence forges a bond between her father Dukat and her "godmother" Kira, a bond that will be torn as drastically in the sixth season as unexpectedly it is being created in this fourth season. 
I also like the B-plot with Sisko's and Kasidy's misunderstanding, when she announces that she would work in the Bajoran sector and could move to the station (wink, wink) and his reaction ("It's a big step.") is not really the way she would have expected. I bet everyone who is in a relationship knows that kind of uncalled-for problems and would still make the same mistake, in Sisko's as well as in Kasidy's place. Men and women are different, and it is only realistic that it will still be so in the 24th century.
Remarkable dialogue: Sisko: "I don't recall asking your opinion, Quark." - Quark: "Maybe you should. I mean, who knows more about women than me?" - Bashir: "Everyone." - Quark: "You hew-mons. All you want to do is please your women. You want them to be your friends. But we Ferengi know better. Women are the enemy. And we treat them accordingly. The key is to never let them get the upper hand. If she says she doesn't see you enough, threaten to see her even less. If she wants more gifts, take back the ones you've already given her. It's all about control." - Dax: "And what if your woman leaves you?" - Quark: "That's what holosuites are for." - Bashir: "It's a wonder the Ferengi reproduce at all."
Remarkable quote: "Captain Sisko's right. You're in love with the sound of your own voice." (Kira, to Dukat)
Remarkable scene: It is the funniest thing in quite a while when Dukat sits down on a spine and then rubs his ass with a dermal regenerator. Kira and Dukat himself think so too as they keep laughing for a minute. It is even more remarkable as this happens just prior to the moment when Dukat admits that he is Tora Ziyal's father and, if she should be still alive, he would kill her.
Remarkable facts: The Ravinok, carrying a crew of 18 and 32 prisoners, crashed on the planet six years ago. -- Ziyal is a Cardassian name.
Rating: 7

Rejoined Stardate 49195.5: Jadzia Dax works on a project to create an artificial wormhole together with a team of Trill scientists, among them Lenara Kahn whose former host was married to Torias Dax. It is strictly forbidden for Trill symbionts to engage in a second relationship with new hosts, in which case the symbiont would be exiled and condemned to die after the death of the current host. While working on the project, Kahn and Dax can no longer deny their mutual affection. They share a passionate kiss. When the wormhole collapses, leading to an almost fatal accident in the engine room of the Defiant, they recognize that they would never want to be without one another. But Lenara ultimately decides against the relationship and in favor of her people's regulations and traditions.

The most discussed part of the episode is the infamous "lesbian kiss" of Dax and Lenara. This symbolic act called for a lot of attention when it first aired (or was edited out, as in one area in the southern US). Whether viewers felt supported or offended by it, I think the significance of the mere kiss was vastly overrated, at least as far as the story is concerned. So when I watched this episode once again I was trying not to pay too much attention to it and not to read too much into it. At least I never felt offended, and with all due respect I find it ridiculous and even kind of sad that some people complained afterwards that no one had warned them.
Even if there is no solid evidence on screen, the 24th century must be more sexually tolerant than we are used to today, and homosexuality would likely be a non-issue for all we know about the Federation. The question why homosexuality is not visible in the 24th century though should be passed on to the people who made the show in the late 20th century. Anyway, we have to bear in mind that interspecies relationships should experience many more obstacles than anything we could imagine among humans, even if we believe that cultural and personal predispositions can be easily overcome and narrow it down to the practical problems of incompatible biological functions of different aliens. It is just not the issue of the episode whether a lesbian relationship of Dax and Lenara would be tolerated. Rather than that, the peculiar morality of the Trills forbids two previously joined symbionts to continue their relationship in their new host bodies. In the fictional 24th century this and only this is the dilemma.
However, I must concede that on a meta level it boils down to a question of present-day sexual morality yet again. Star Trek's more recent incarnations are well-known for encrypting issues of sexuality (and especially of same-sex relationships) by shoehorning them into a 24th century analogy. Perhaps most notably that was the case in TNG: "The Outcast" where every member of the J'naii civilization was forced to be asexual. Ironically after this TNG episode it was occasionally criticized that Riker's love interest Soren was played by a woman and seemingly naturally developed the desire to be with a man. Jonathan Frakes himself conceded that if Soren had been portrayed by a male actor it would have been more powerful as a criticism of homophobia. Interestingly "Rejoined" deliberately attempts to compensate for this possible omission in that Kahn's character was rewritten from a man to a woman. Jadzia Dax, unlike Riker, is close to be going for a same-sex relationship, in terms of the 24th century as well as with the eyes of the late 20th century.
Perhaps even more obviously, "Rejoined" also seems to rectify what happened at the end of TNG: "The Host", when Beverly was afraid of a same-sex relationship with the new female host of Odan. Notwithstanding the insurmountable inconsistencies that separate the TNG and the DS9 Trills, Jadzia dares what Beverly declined with regret. My impression is that the latter had a quite simple reason though, that Beverly is just not bisexual. Conversely, does that mean that Dax is bisexual? Although she never once in the episode doubts that she loves Kahn regardless of her sex, I think it is not as easy as that. Jadzia Dax is alien, she is even particularly alien because the symbiont Dax as well as the host Jadzia contribute to her personality (this was extremely different in TNG where the symbiont Odan used to be totally dominant). The host Jadzia is undeniably a woman, but who or what is Dax? I agree with Quark, who attempts to sort out Dax' family history in bodies of different sexes at the beginning of the episode -- thinking too much about it gives me a headache too. In human eyes Jadzia Dax appears as very open-minded about just everything, but that in my view is still not the key to explaining why she is also open to all kinds of sexual relationships (such as with Boday, a Gallamite with a transparent skull, as Worf will suspect in season 5). By any means, just as we are not allowed to reproach Dax with having seemingly bizarre sexual desires, we shouldn't blame Beverly (and she shouldn't blame herself) for only following her somewhat more clearly defined predisposition.
After my long digression here are just a few notes about the actual story that is told in "Rejoined". The episode reaffirms my previous impressions about Trill as a narrow-minded and conceited oligarchic society. It is not only because of the sinister practices of the Symbiosis Commission, but there is also an objectionable taboo that would prohibit a relationship for no obvious reason other than that it is against an obsolete moral code. The rules of the Trill against "reassociation" impose so much emotional stress on their citizens that Sisko strongly recommends Dax to stay away from her before she even has a chance to tell him how she would feel about meeting Kahn again. And after Kahn's arrival Dax is uneasy and cautious in her presence in a way we may have never seen her before. Finally, the other Trills, including Lenara's brother, are suspicious about her and Dax' relationship before anything noteworthy even happens between them.
I like Lenara Kahn as a woman and her chemistry with Dax. And I like how the two are on par, with none of them having a leading role. Susanna Thompson and Terry Farrell are credible as a harmonious yet unbecoming alien couple that has no future. I thought of a post-it note on the screen to permanently remind me of the fact that it is all about a Trill taboo, but that was not necessary mainly because of their performances. I could put aside my 20th century bias on human relationships and view most of this episode the way it was meant to be. Still most of my review is about the things that don't matter in the in-universe context, but that may be just because other than some fine acting and a decent story of a hopeless love there is not much interesting about this episode. I don't care for the groundbreaking scientific experiment to create an artificial wormhole that goes awry as so many before and is accompanied by too much technobabble. Its only obvious purpose is bringing Dax and Lenara together in close quarters on the Defiant anyway. And so the episode gets only a rating slightly below average, which, I promise, is uninfluenced by that "lesbian kiss".
Remarkable scene: When a plasma fire breaks out in the engine room and Lenara is on the other side, Jadzia walks over it on a forcefield. A nice idea. Something like this hasn't been shown before.
Rating: 4

Starship Down Stardate 49263.5: The Defiant meets with a Karemma vessel for trade negotiations when two Jem'Hadar fighters attack. The Karemma ship hides in a gas giant. When the Defiant follows them, the Jem'Hadar attack again and cripple the Starfleet vessel. While Jadzia and Bashir are trapped on a deck filling with poisonous gas, O'Brien and his engineers manage to arm an atmospheric probe with a quantum torpedo charge. The Defiant is once again taking heavy damage until the attacking vessel can be destroyed. Sisko is seriously wounded, with only Kira taking care of him, while Worf is making his way down to engineering. Quark and the Karemma Hanok are in the mess hall when another torpedo penetrates the wall but doesn't go off. While the crew are working to destroy the remaining Jem'Hadar vessel using a decoy and the deflector as a phaser array, the two successfully disarm the weapon.

Wahrschau! U-74205 hit by depth charges! Bolts are bursting! Water ingress! I am fond of submarine movies, and I already enjoyed how several elements of this genre were included in TOS: "Balance of Terror" and "Star Trek II". "Starship Down" goes the whole way and creates a scenario in which essentially just the water is replaced with the gaseous atmosphere of the planet. The crew of the Defiant can't see or otherwise pinpoint the attackers. They have to rely on a sonar-like technique. The ship sinks and may be crushed owing to the enormous pressure. When the hull breaches there is an implosion rather than an explosion. The makeshift weapons made of atmospheric probes behave much like old-style torpedoes. If there is any Starfleet ship that resembles a submarine (especially on the inside), then it is the Defiant anyway. In spite of all these obvious analogies, nothing in this episode is contrived, it all makes sense and largely fits with established Treknology. 
Something else that I like about this episode is the character interaction. We see Kira as someone who is horrified about seeing Sisko die. He is her superior officer and Emissary, but most importantly a close friend. Bashir confesses to Dax how he used to have strange fantasies about her - as if she didn't already know ;-). O'Brien's and Worf's way of working clash, but only a little bit. Well, O'Brien's remark that Worf shouldn't be so hard on his engineers ("They haven't been to Starfleet Academy.") does not really make sense, because after all they are Starfleet personnel just as everyone else on board. They must be used to working under orders. I also doubt that they would not go to Starfleet Academy, and if only for basic courses in tactics and some military training. But Worf's and O'Brien's quibble out of the blue is about the only thing I really don't like about the episode. At least the deflector modification that Worf, now very considerate, requests of O'Brien's engineers is in line with TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds". Quark and Hanok (played by James Cromwell, who is barely recognizable with the make-up) are trying to defuse the Jem'Hadar torpedo in a sci-fi version of the good old red/blue wire trope. In the end they turn out to be more like-minded than they would have thought, after Hanok initially appeared to be much like Quark's nemesis Odo.
There may be overall a tad too much weight in the words of the dialogues (which adds to the symbolism of the scenario as a whole) and overall a tad too much harmony despite some conflict potential. Well, and there is a lack of chemistry between Worf and O'Brien. But the harmonious combinations of Kira/Sisko and Dax/Bashir as well as the odd couple Quark/Hanok work out so nicely that it is simply fun to watch them.
This episode is nicely wrapped up like few others, as Hanok tries out dabo at Quark's suggestion and Sisko picks up Kira's idea of a four-shift rotation that she suggested to him when he was only half conscious. Even Stevens, the engineer whom Worf treated harshly in O'Brien's view appears once more, and this time it is O'Brien who raises the bar for his subordinate, when he wants the repair time to be lowered from the assessed 16 hours to the possible 12 hours in Scotty's best tradition.
Remarkable error: The Defiant shakes momentarily when entering the atmosphere of the gas giant and when crossing over to a different thermal layer. But even though the gas may be highly compressed, there would be still nothing such as a sharp boundary. The atmospheric pressure would realistically drop roughly exponentially with the altitude. On the other hand, the existence of the thermal layers complies with the structure of real gas giants such as Jupiter.
Remarkable dialogue: "We sell these torpedoes to the Jem'Hadar." - "I thought you said you'd never sold substandard merchandise. It was supposed to explode on impact, wasn't it?" - "Maybe I should offer them a refund!" (Hanok and Quark)
Remarkable quote: "It's very important that you listen to me... becau... because there's going to be a test later." (Kira, attempting to keep Sisko conscious)
Remarkable fact: The planet is a Class-J gas giant, with wind speeds of over 10,000km/h.
Remarkable ship: The Karemma ship is a real beauty. Unfortunately it will not appear in this role again, but only as yet another Bajoran ship.
Rating: 8

Little Green Men Stardate not given: On a vessel that Quark received as a gift from cousin Gaila, Quark, Rom and Nog are en route to Earth where Nog is going to join Starfleet Academy. However, Gaila has sabotaged the shuttle. There is no other way to disengage the warp drive but to heat up Quark's illegal kemocite shipment with warp plasma. This reaction hurls back the shuttle to the year 1947, and it crashes at a place called Roswell. The US Military captures and interrogates the three "Martians". While Quark is trying to make profit dealing with the "primitive" humans, Nog tells them exactly what they want to hear - that an alien invasion fleet is on the way. With the help of Odo, who has been disguised as a dog, the three manage to retrieve their shuttle from Hangar 18 and escape from the facility, taking advantage of a nuclear blast to return to their time.

This episode brims over with fun and trivia. It is one of the funniest Star Trek installments ever produced. But there is an ironical and ultimately serious undertone, as the viewer perceives the "primitive" 20th century humanity through the eyes of the "advanced" 24th century Ferengi. As Quark repeatedly complains, humans of that era used to poison their bodies with tobacco and used to poison their planet with atom bombs. The omnipresence of cigar and cigarette smoke in this episode corroborates Quark's claims, it epitomizes a humanity that needs to learn some lessons and it adds to the bizarre situation of three Ferengi who are in the wrong time, rather than on the wrong planet. I don't know if and how much people were really smoking at that time, but I don't care if this part should have been overdone. Come to think of it, my respect for a superior giving orders with a cigarette in his mouth would drop a couple of points. When I was in the (German) military service, smoking on duty was not allowed, and for a good reason.
But smoking and nuking is just the tip of the iceberg. We can readily add greed, abuse of power and xenophobia to the charges, although we couldn't completely absolve Quark of them either. In any case it becomes obvious that the humanity of the mid-20th century still has a long way to go to grow up and to become what Gene Roddenberry envisioned. Even though the tenor of the episode is rather comical, it is a frightening idea that in the year 1947 and perhaps still today aliens would be rather dissected than welcomed on our planet.
Towards the end the usual roles in Star Trek appear once again switched when the Ferengi are being treated in an inhumane fashion, and two humans (Garland and Carlson) help the aliens escape. And, as the climax of irony, the atomic bomb explosion helps the Ferengi return to their time (although the idea is recycled from "Star Trek IV" when Chekov harvested the particles from the reactor on a "nuclear wessel").
Lastly, in spite of the social commentary this episode is still rather a comedy that pokes fun at the UFO hysteria and that pays homage to the B-movies of the 1950s. It should be taken with an according grain of salt.
Remarkable dialogues: "You know, outside of playing dom-jot and watching the Bajoran transports dock, it seems like we spent most of our time... doing nothing." - "Maybe so. But I can't think of anyone I'd rather do nothing with than you." (Jake and Nog), "But these humans, they're not like the ones from the Federation. They're crude, gullible and greedy." - "You mean, like you?" (Quark and Odo), "When the appointed hour arrives, the Marauders will deactivate their cloaking devices and begin transporting Klingon shock troops directly to the landing zone." - "Landing zone? Where? Tell me." - "Why not? Your feeble weapons will be useless against us. We will kill all the males, and take your females to mate with." (Nog and Wainwright), "Why should they [get in trouble]? We forced them to help us... by using our..." - "Your insidious mind control powers?" - "That's not bad." (Quark and Garland), "What do we do now, General?" - "About what, Captain? All we ever found was a crashed weather balloon." (Wainwright and Denning)
Remarkable quotes: "Maybe it's time you consider that early retirement we talked about. I could take over the bar, and you could fly off into the great unknown... never to return!" (Rom, to Quark), "All I ask is a tall ship, and a load of contraband to fill it with." (Quark), "But in the meantime, let me give you some free advice, just to show I'm on your side. You people should take better care of yourselves. Stop poisoning your bodies with tobacco and atom bombs. Sooner or later, that kind of stuff will kill you." (Quark to General Denning who is smoking a fat cigar), "Imagine the possibilities. Who knows what they could teach us? A few years from now, mankind could have rocket ships of our own. We could travel the galaxy, exploring new worlds and new civilizations." (Faith Garland)
Remarkable scenes: When they realize that their built-in universal translators are not working, the three Ferengi slap their heads. And so do the humans. Then Quark recognizes that the hew-mons are mimicking what they think is a greeting and he grabs his nose... This is among the funniest scenes of all of Star Trek. I laughed so hard I cried. -- The continuing language confusion is presented in a very skillful fashion. The Ferengi talk their incomprehensible language whenever we see the humans listen to them. Conversely, the humans are speaking scrambled English as perceived by the Ferengi. -- Faith Garland and Jeff Carlson correctly identify Rom and Nog as father and son, but then they reckon that Quark, who is bitching all the time, could be the mother. -- There is a nice running joke that the humans refer to the Ferengi as Martians, while the latter call the Americans "Australians". -- Faith Garland, unbeknownst of the erogenous zones of the Ferengi, complies with Nog's request to massage his ear.
Remarkable facts: Among Nog's boyhood treasures there is a holosuite program with the "Pleasure Goddess of Rixx", which may allude to Lwaxana Troi's Chalice of Rixx. -- In his guidebook about Earth Nog spots a photo of Captain Sisko that is labeled "Gabriel Bell", which is a consequence of DS9: "Past Tense". Quark's comment: "All hew-mons look alike."
Remarkable ship: The Ferengi shuttlepod built for TNG: "The Price" reappears a couple of times. But "Quark's Treasure" is definitely a lot more spacious than the original design, and arguably bigger on the inside than on the outside.
Rating: 9

The Sword of Kahless Stardate not given: Worf and Jadzia join the famed old warrior Kor on the quest for the Sword of Kahless, the first bat'leth forged by the founder of the Klingon culture. The artifact that was stolen from the Klingon homeworld by the Hur'q centuries ago. All they find is an empty treasury chamber devoid of artifacts. But Jadzia and  Worf are not willing to give up, and the three finally discover the sword in yet another chamber. However, Toral, Son of Duras, is already awaiting the three. Kor, Worf and Jadzia prevail, but Worf is wounded. When they are on the way back to the surface, a struggle between Worf and Kor ensues. After defeating Toral once again, the two Klingons face off in a battle for the bat'leth, on the verge of killing each other. Jadzia has to stun them. Later, aboard the runabout, the three decide to beam the bat'leth into space so it can't do any more damage.

The best about this episode is the excellent continuity with previous Klingon stories. The events from DS9: "Blood Oath" (where Kor appeared for the first time since TOS: "Errand or Mercy" and his comrades Kang and Koloth were killed in the skirmish) and TNG: "Rightful Heir" (where a clone of Kahless was appointed Emperor of the Klingon Empire) are repeatedly referenced. Furthermore, although the attack on Kor by the telepathic Lethean foreshadows that his quest wouldn't remain undisturbed, the appearance of Toral comes as a positive surprise. It nicely wraps up the events from TNG: "Redemption", when Toral's Duras family betrayed their people but Worf spared the boy's life in the end.
Other than that, "The Sword of Kahless" is a rather conventional Indiana Jones-like treasure hunt that revolves around a spellbound artifact. This kind of stories was popularized in Star Trek in the course of TNG and already overdone there, such as in "Captain's Holiday", "The Chase" or "Gambit". Especially the power ascribed to the bat'leth of Kahless and its effect on the people who are holding it bear a resemblance to the myths about the ancient Vulcan Stone of Gol in the latter episode.
Worf's and Kor's irrational struggle over the sword is totally over the top and is the most irritating part of the episode. Unfortunately it is also the key part. It is a pity that their conflict becomes absurd considering that its root is still quite plausible. The characterization of the two opponents is excellent up to the point when they find the sword. Worf initially reveres the Dahar Master because of his age and his accomplishments, but he soon begins to question the old man's self-glorifying stories. Kor, on the other hand, has no problem to ally himself with an outcast to achieve his goal, but he later notices that the "too human" Worf doesn't share his passion. It all lies in their characters and it wouldn't have required the Klingon mumbo jumbo to emerge. The conflict only should have been toned down.
Jadzia does not tell us whether there is really some spell in the form of insanity particles on the sword, but in the presence of this artifact Kor starts to have delusions of leading the Klingon Empire. This begs the question whether Kor really ever wanted to hand over the bat'leth to the Emperor in order to annoy Gowron, as he initially told Jadzia and Worf, or whether it was his intention to keep it from the start. Kor may have changed his mind after tasting blood - literally. But this doesn't really matter any more as Worf too begins to act irrationally. And while we may ascribe Kor's behavior to an age-related dementia, in the case of Worf it strikes me as out of character. It also comes all too suddenly. After witnessing Kor's transformation, Worf talks himself into the same kind of fervor, so evidently that Jadzia only notes, "You sound like Kor." In the following the two behave like kids struggling for a toy, not noticing that there are much more important things they should care about. 
Only Jadzia keeps track of everything and she does the only right thing when she takes the phaser and stuns the two wranglers. After Kor and Worf have sobered up, the episode ends with a quick resolution as they decide to leave the subject of dispute behind for future generations to find. It is not really plausible how they could calm down enough to arrive at that decision, but it was probably the only way to end this episode in a decent fashion. In spite of the many shortcomings it still scores four points because I found it rather entertaining and a bit enlightening too.
The character of Kor as a storyteller gloating over the sound of his own voice and over stories in which everything is "red with blood" is overdone, even by Klingon standards. Still, I wonder if John Colicos couldn't have toned it down a bit. It was great to see him once again though.
Remarkable dialogue: "Did you see the face of the Klingon I killed? It was as if he understood the honor bestowed upon him. The first man in a thousand years to die by the Sword of Kahless." - "I'm sure he was very proud." (Kor and Dax)
Remarkable quote: "A true warrior has no need to exaggerate his feats." (Worf)
Remarkable facts: Kahless lived some 1400 years ago. This is the age of the sword as determined by Jadzia. -- The Hur'q invaded the Klingon homeworld over 1000 years ago. -- The Lethean we see in this episode, Soto, is the second one after Altovar in DS9: "Distant Voices".
Rating: 4

Our Man Bashir Stardate 49300.7: Bashir, Julian Bashir has invited Garak to play a secret agent program in the holosuite, when an emergency beam-out forces Commander Eddington to store the patterns of Sisko, Kira, Dax, Worf and O'Brien all over the station. Some of Bashir's holodeck characters take on the appearances of his fellow officers. Kira is now a Russian agent, O'Brien appears as a thug named Falcon, Worf aka Duchamps assists the villainous Dr. Noah, Dax plays the missing scientist Honey Bare, while Sisko is Dr. Noah himself. With the safety protocols offline and no chance to end the program without killing the crewmates, Bashir and Garak have to carry on playing. It is Noah's plan to shrink Earth's surface using laser cannons developed by Honey Bare. With everyone else drowning as the oceans flood the planet, Noah is going to build a new civilization on top of the Mount Everest. While Rom is working on the holodeck, Dr. Bashir gains the decisive seconds when he, to everyone's surprise, activates Dr. Noah's devilish system and destroys the planet. Sisko, Kira, Dax, Worf and O'Brien can be rematerialized on the transporter pad of the Defiant.

I have only two real gripes with this episode. The first is the lacking scientific plausibility of the scenario. It is suddenly possible to store transporter patterns in a computer memory, as opposed to everything we know about the principle of the transporter. The second is the overall playful tone. Julian Bashir has a bit too much fun continuing the secret agent story the way he is obviously used to, although the lives of his colleagues and friends are at stake. Only Garak brings him back down to Earth, in a conflict that emerges a bit too much out of the blue. Although these two problems lie in the very premise of the episode, I am willing to overlook them. "Our Man Bashir" is just too much fun to watch to keep a critical eye on everything. I only wonder whether it would have been still better, had Julian purposely created the holographic versions of the other characters (except for Garak who is real) for his mere enjoyment. This would have eliminated my two gripes without affecting the fun part, which is the essence of the episode.
Besides Star Trek, James Bond is only one franchise that I have been following loyally since I watched my first 007 movie (I think it was "For Your Eyes Only") in the early 80s. So it is almost needless to say that I loved the countless unabashed allusions to the Bond movies, and especially to their clichés and shortcomings. The ridiculously sexist names of the female characters (such as "Mona Loves It"), their sexy attire and unexpected abilities, the mad scientist who wants to destroy Earth, the card games with long odds, the impossibly fast intercontinental travels, the lavish lifestyle of secret agents (Garak: "I think I joined the wrong intelligence service."), the 1960s furniture (Garak: "Another decorator's nightmare. This era had a distinct lack of taste."), the hidden rooms and nifty gadgets, the supervillain who explains his diabolical plan instead of simply killing the agent. And finally Noah's wry remark "Somehow I didn't expect to win."
This episode gave every actor portraying a holodeck character the possibly best chance in their career to overact with totally silly accents, mannerisms or grimaces. Most notably Avery Brooks as Hippocrates Noah is extremely funny through and through. And honestly, after watching this episode I frequently found a bit of the pompous and gasping Noah in his "normal" portrayal of Captain Sisko as well. Maybe that doesn't really speak for him as an actor, but Brooks rarely makes things sound casual, it usually has a certain weight. And this is why he is perfect for the role of Noah. I laughed the whole time he was on screen.
Remarkable quotes: "I must say... this is more than I ever wanted to know about your fantasy life, Doctor." (Garak, when Bashir is flirting with "Honey Bare" Dax as a part of his "plan" to escape), "You've destroyed ze vorld!" (Anastasia, to Bashir who has just pushed the button), "I think it's safe to say that Julian Bashir, secret agent... will return." (Julian, to Garak)
Remarkable accent: As "Anastasia Komananov", Nana Visitor has the probably heaviest Russian accent in Star Trek's history. Still it sounds better to me than Chekov's.
Remarkable scene: Although I don't care so much about the transporter accident part, it is quite frightening to see the crew materialize on the platform, only to vanish in smoke a moment later.
Remarkable reference: Dr. Noah is a tongue-in-cheek reference to Dr. No from the film of the same name and as well to the Biblical Noah who, just as the villain plans here, survived the global flooding on his Ark.
Rating: 8

Homefront / Paradise Lost Stardate 49170.6: When evidence is discovered that a bomb explosion on a conference between the Federation and the Romulans has been caused by a Changeling, Sisko and Odo are summoned to Earth. President Jaresh-Inyo is reluctant to agree to more security measures against the Dominion threat when Odo impressively demonstrates how easy it would be for one of his people to infiltrate the President's office. Odo and Sisko meet with Commander Benteen and Admiral Leyton. Some time later, Odo uncovers the admiral as another Changeling. Meanwhile, Captain Sisko's father Joseph has been arrested for refusing the blood screening which, in his view, is useless to actually recognize Changelings. The following night all power systems on Earth go offline. Sisko and Leyton urge Jaresh-Inyo to declare a state of emergency on the planet. Sisko, however, discovers that not the Dominion but members of Starfleet Academy's Red Squad are responsible for the sabotage. They acted on Leyton's order in an attempt to overthrow the government. Leyton relieves Sisko of duty when the captain refuses to take part in the plot. Sisko manages to inform Deep Space 9 before a feigned blood test in front of the president exposes him as a Changeling. Leyton sends the Lakota under Benteen's command to intercept the Defiant, claiming that the ship is full of Changelings. But Benteen rejects the order to destroy a Starfleet vessel. When Leyton, who has been deserted by his most loyal officer, gives up, order on Earth is restored.

I always liked this double episode very much, and especially since the events of 9/11 it has gained a whole new significance and appears as a frighteningly realistic scenario. It is one of the key stories of the whole series and hence deserves as many as nine points, although it arguably does not rank among the greatest dramas in Trek's history.
"Homefront" gradually builds up suspense with the bombing of the Antwerp Conference, Odo's undetected intrusion into the President's office and with the surprising discovery that, at one point, even Leyton is a Changeling. But there is a bit too much babble in this first half of the story and too many characters are introduced. Hence, it gains only little momentum until the failure of the power grid. The second part, "Paradise Lost", starts off with a faster pace and unexpectedly evolves into a captivating detective story. Unfortunately once again too much time with too much talking passes from the revelation that Red Squad is responsible for the sabotage to the showdown. Starting with Sisko's feigned exposure as a Changeling, the remaining 15 minutes are thrilling again when Sisko is arguing with Leyton, while the Defiant is being attacked by the Lakota somewhere out in space. I like the way this part was edited.
The ironical outcome of the whole story is that, after planting the bomb, the Changelings remain passive and all that follows is the self-induced trouble of the Federation and Starfleet. I am generally glad about every episode that does not remain on a predefined or even clichéd path. But here the unexpected course leaves me a bit disappointed because, after their frequent teasing, the Changelings have no further plan except for malicious joy about the trouble they have stirred up. On the other hand, the episode doesn't even give me the impression that, after the power outage, Earth is so much in disarray as everyone keeps saying all the time. Sure, the people are afraid of the Dominion and no one likes having Starfleet patrols on the streets all the time. But these sentiments could have been more palpable. Just one case in point is the appearance of the O'Brien Changeling that does not provoke the passionate reaction from Sisko that I would have expected from him. 
Robert Foxworth, whom I remember very well from "Falcon Crest", then one of my favorite series, is a formidable opponent as Admiral Leyton. Still, after being a pragmatic and overall respectable person for much of the time, Leyton winds up as a rather conventional villain, one who condones dictatorship ("The people need strong leadership, someone who can protect them.") and who is a bad loser, pigheaded up to the end. I would have hoped for him to show more backbone.
The other remarkable guest appearance is that of Brock Peters as Joseph Sisko. He plays a key role in two respects, as he epitomizes the emotional attachment of Captain Sisko to his planet and family, as well as he is the only representative of Earth's "ordinary" population in a story that naturally focuses on Starfleet and on big politics. And as the stubborn old man he even provides some sort of comic relief without ever appearing silly.
Nitpicking: Nog tells Sisko that the names of the Red Squad cadets are supposed to be a secret. However, this doesn't make much sense. If they receive special courses and other amenities, it can't remain a secret, especially since other cadets seem to be eager to be one of them. But even if their names are not public, why does Sisko have to ask Nog? As Earth's head of security he has access to much more crucial data than some simple personnel files, he reviews Red Squad's schedule, he talks to the Academy Commandant. -- You don't "download" anything into a network, as the cadet tells Sisko, but "upload" it. I wonder why the writers get this simple fact routinely wrong.
Remarkable quotes: "You humanoids are all alike. You have no sense of order. And Dax is the most humanoid person I know." (Odo, whose quarters has allegedly been "ravaged" by her moving the furniture by 3 centimeters), "At my age, staying healthy is a full time job, and I'm too old to work two jobs." (Joseph Sisko), "Paradise never seemed so well armed." (Sisko, to Benteen)
Remarkable dialogues: "I suppose your gods aren't as cryptic as ours." - "Our gods are dead. Ancient Klingon warriors slew them all millennia ago. They were more trouble than they were worth." (Kira and Worf), "Forgive me for staring, but you're the first changeling I've ever met." - "That you know of." (Leyton, to Odo, and Benteen), "I never knew it was so easy to break into classified Starfleet files." - "Everything I know I learned from Quark." (Sisko and Odo)
Remarkable scenes: While cutting onions, Joseph Sisko is lecturing his son about why he thinks he is right to refuse the blood screenings. Then he cuts into his finger, and Ben Sisko mistrustfully looks at the knife with the blood. In hindsight, Joseph is right with his suspicion that skilled shapeshifters could cheat at a blood screening. Martok must have been one of them at the time of "Way of the Warrior", as the true Martok will reveal in "In Purgatory's Shadow". And, as seen later in the episode when Sisko is falsely revealed as a shapeshifter, faking a positive test is possible as well. -- The dogfight between the Defiant and the Lakota is clearly a highlight in the final days of motion control photography that would soon make way for computer generated graphics. It would have been nice to see the Lakota as soon as in "Homefront". But the model may not have been ready yet, and as we know the VFX budget is limited.
Remarkable facts: Joseph Sisko is the only man on the planet to serve live tube grubs the way Nog likes them. Or so says Nog. -- Lt. Arriaga tampered with the relay satellite at the far side of the wormhole on Leyton's orders, to let it open and close randomly, thereby creating the impression that a Dominion fleet is coming through.
Rating: 9


Crossfire Stardate not given: Prime Minister Shakaar is visiting the station to negotiate Bajor's admission to the Federation. Odo has received notice that "The True Way", a Cardassian terrorist group, is planning to assassinate Shakaar, and he is accordingly cautious. But soon Odo, who is secretly in love with Kira, notices that Shakaar is falling in love with her. In his jealous negligence Odo forgets to verify a security code upon which the sabotaged turbolift with Shakaar, Kira and himself almost crashes down. While Worf succeeds in apprehending the saboteur, Odo spends the whole night waiting in front of Kira's quarters where Shakaar stays until the morning. Odo decides to call off the weekly meetings with Kira and to care about nothing else but his job from now.

We know Odo as the always trustworthy and loyal "Constable", who puts his work above his private life and who may give people who don't know him the impression that he doesn't even have a private life. Only on few occasions so far Odo has allowed personal matters to interfere with his job, and these were always related in some fashion to his desire to learn about his origin, or more generally to his being different than humanoids. On the other hand, we have learned in DS9: "Heart of Stone" that Odo feels more than friendship for Kira Nerys and that, after confessing his love to a fake Kira, he may not dare to tell her again. Although Vedek Bareil, with whom Kira was in love, l had died in DS9: "Life Support", he always remained silent. It was obvious and perhaps necessary that the series would pick up this thread again. Still I think adding unrequited love and jealousy as typically humanoid facets to Odo's character was daring. I'm not perfectly happy with it because Odo' attempts to cope with the situation are rather immature, but I have to concede that despite his age it's the first time for him, and so it is not unbecoming for him to behave like he were 15 years old. The endeavor of showing a love-sick Odo is successful for the most part, thanks to René Auberjonois' great performance and thanks to the many clear hints that despite his so familiar condition and conduct Odo is still a non-humanoid alien.
"Crossfire" is certainly a decent character study and it nicely continues plot threads from the third season. But here lies the principal weakness of the story. Everything is awfully predictable, absolutely nothing could surprise me. With the focus being on Odo, the screenplay reduces Shakaar and even Kira to cue providers whose main purpose is to piss off Odo without noticing it. Shakaar's character was introduced in DS9: "Shakaar", a couple of weeks after Bareil's death, and already then I had the impression that Shakaar may become Nerys' next love and that Odo would not be pleased. This dilemma was simply postponed to "Crossfire" (where Shakaar looks visibly younger again with his now darker hair). I anticipated that Shakaar would seek Odo's advice (with Odo's non-humanoid nature being a bit like Shakaar were asking Kira's gay friend), not knowing how much this would embarrass him. I knew that Kira would tell her "good friend" Odo how happy she was with Shakaar and not notice his grief. And for some reason it didn't surprise me that of all people ironically Quark would become aware of Odo's trouble. Finally, when Odo enters Kira's quarters, saying "I don't quite know how to say this, but I've given it a lot of thought, and...", the camera zooming in on his face, creating suspense, it is a big (but calculated) letdown that he doesn't have enough courage and then just tells her that he would cancel their Tuesday meetings.
Something I like is how initially unrelated banter plays a role later and still lightens up the episode. The episode starts with Odo's regular morning meeting with Kira that he would eventually cancel. He creates a belt around his uniform at Kira's suggestion because it looks better on him and removes it again after learning of Kira and Shakaar. In the beginning Quark complains about the alleged noise from Odo's shapeshifting, only to discover a devastated Odo, who has deranged his quarters in a rage later in the episode. The fact that Odo himself damages his furniture is also ironical considering that only recently, in "Homefront", he was upset that Dax allegedly moved it by just a few centimeters.
I don't know whether it was a good idea to reduce the possibly more appealing sub-plot with the attempted assassination of Shakaar to a few scenes and casual mentions of the "True Way". It is only interesting to see an oversuspicious Odo following Shakaar's every move to protect him, whereas he would later keep observing Shakaar for a wholly different reason - out of jealousy. At least there is some action when the sabotaged turbolift is falling down (with a look inside the shaft for probably the first time) and Odo morphs his hands into metal stamps and bumps the walls outwards to brake the lift car.
Remarkable quote: "You know, I've been a soldier, and I've been a politician. And I have to say I'm beginning to think being a soldier was easier." (Shakaar, to Odo)
Remarkable fact: Odo mentions that a graffiti sprayer was sentenced to sanitation duty (which would be a great idea in the real world too). -- 1200 people live in the habitat ring.
Rating: 3

Return to Grace Stardate not given: When she is going to visit a Cardassian outpost, Kira is surprised that she will travel on Dukat's ship Groumall. He was demoted to a freighter captain when he brought his half-Bajoran daughter, Tora Ziyal, to Cardassia. After the outpost has been destroyed by a Klingon Bird-of-Prey, Kira joins Dukat in an effort to outfit the freighter with improved tactical systems. In the hopes of redeeming himself, Kira and Dukat lure the Bird-of-Prey into a trap, making the crew of the warship believe that the freighter holds a valuable cargo of dilithium and then firing the newly installed disruptor. After seizing control of the Klingon ship, Kira transports the Klingon crew to the Groumall, whereupon Dukat destroys it. When he learns that the Cardassian Detapa Council intends to negotiate with the Klingons, Dukat decides to continue the fight against the enemy alone. Kira does not want to join his quest and takes Tora Ziyal to Deep Space 9.

Somehow I remembered "Return to Grace" to have some more action, but when I watched it again after a couple of years I found that it is rather full of great character moments.
Kira's and Dukat's odd relationship is best summarized with Dukat's own words at the end of the episode: "Well, major, whether you like it or not, our lives have become deeply intertwined." It was in "Indiscretion" earlier in this season when Kira prevented Dukat from killing his half-Bajoran daughter Tora Ziyal. Dukat took Ziyal to Cardassia, and as he already predicted, it brought disgrace upon him and upon Cardassia, with the consequences that he was demoted and his wife left him. And so Dukat winds up on the measly freighter Groumall that he quite purposefully offers to ferry Kira to a conference on a Cardassian outpost to spend some time with her. When a Klingon Bird-of-Prey destroys this outpost, the two have to work together once again, albeit with wholly different motivations. Kira is seeking retaliation for the killing of 15 Bajoran diplomats on that outpost, whereas Dukat is working for nothing less than redemption, of his own person and of the Cardassians as a people. Also, their methods turn out to be very different. Dukat only thinks to fight back by the book, which doesn't get him anywhere, considering that the heavily armed warship could have easily destroyed his freighter. Kira is the one who makes the success possible with her unconventional guerilla tactics. I really enjoyed her clever tricks, such as installing a disruptor taken from the outpost, creating a false dilithium reading as a bait or beaming the surprised Klingons over to the freighter.
The continued cooperation and the "intertwined lives" require Kira and Dukat to find a way of dealing with one another. But does it change the way they feel about one another? As Ziyal mentions at one point, it matters to Dukat what Kira thinks of him, because as a resistance fighter she is in a position to judge him. He never had any problems with Kira because in his mindset he didn't owe her anything but to give her the impression that Cardassians can be nice people. In my view he is seeking a bit more than simple forgiveness. Kira is supposed to concede that she likes him, and he is confident that she will do that eventually. He may even see Kira taking care of Ziyal as a further opportunity to come closer to this goal. The other way round, it is perhaps too much to say that Kira hates Dukat, because then she may have refused to work with or only to talk to him in the first place. But as she explains to Ziyal she draws a clear line. He is still the man who murdered many Bajorans, something that she will never forgive him. Her only reason to deal with Dukat in any fashion is if it serves a common goal, be it fighting the Klingons or doing the best for Ziyal. Ziyal's character clearly serves to tie Dukat's and Kira's destinies together, but I think it is recognizable in "Return to Grace" that she has more potential, which will prove in the following (although Ziyal will not appear that frequently).
After Kira and Dukat have accomplished their mission to seize the Bird-of-Prey and even more than that, as they have gathered strategic information about the Klingons, the Detapa Council denies Dukat's request to conduct a counter-strike. This is a great plot twist, because now Dukat feels the urge to continue the struggle on his own, in much the same fashion as Kira used to fight him on Bajor. This setting, including Ziyal's stay on the station, will last for the next year. It is impressive how Marc Alaimo as Dukat goes from a humbled freighter captain, whose language is grandiose yet rather soft, to the fanatic leader of a resistance cell, who has regained his former determination.
Nitpicking: I wonder why the Klingons do not attack the Groumall after being provoked by a phaser shot. Sure, there is no honor in that, but the Klingons didn't care about the civilians they killed on the outpost either.
Remarkable dialogues: "He'd never admit it to anyone else, but he thinks the occupation was a mistake." - "Somehow I don't think he'd say that if the Cardassians had won." - "Maybe not. But maybe losing made him a better person." - "I know a lot of innocent people died for his education." (Tora Ziyal and Kira Nerys, about Dukat), "Was that necessary?" - "You're the terrorist. You tell me." (Kira and Dukat, after Dukat has destroyed the Groumall with the Klingons aboard), "Why do you care so much?" - "Because she reminds me of myself. And I don't want her to go through what I went through. An neither do you." (Dukat and Kira, about Ziyal)
Remarkable guest role: This is the first appearance of Casey Biggs as Damar, whose initially very small role will gradually grow in the next three seasons.
Remarkable facts: The Klingon invasion has destroyed the Cardassian health system, leading to diseases in epidemic proportions. -- The Klingon Bird-of-Prey has a crew of 36.
Rating: 7

Sons of Mogh Stardate 49556.2: Worf's brother Kurn arrives at the station. Disgraced because of Worf's refusal to follow Gowron, Kurn demands that his brother kill him in the Mauk-to'Vor ritual. Worf complies, but thanks to Dax' and Odo's interference Kurn can be revived. In order to give his life a new meaning, Kurn joins Odo's security team. But soon he attempts to get killed while on duty. In the meantime Klingon ships are engaged in exercises around the Bajoran system. Worf finds out that the Klingon ships are deploying mines to cut off Bajor from the Federation. In genetic disguise he and Kurn steal the plans from a Klingon vessel. Worf decides to save his brother by giving him a new identity. With Kurn's features altered once again and his memory erased, he joins a new Klingon family.

It is a bit frustrating how the definitely less interesting B-plot about the Klingon mines is given almost as much exposure in "Sons of Mogh" as Kurn's (and Worf's) personal dilemma. Kurn reveals his intention to die already in the teaser. And just as he and Worf are having a debate about their family honor and the Mauk-to'Vor ritual, there is a cut to a rather boring runabout scene with Kira and O'Brien. Something similar happens a few more times in the episode. Well, the B-plot gets more exciting when the Defiant runs into the damaged Klingon vessel. But ultimately it mainly serves to have Kurn and Worf, as the resident Klingons, go on an undercover mission to get the detonation codes, a mission that doesn't come across as very dangerous. In terms of suspense, there is very little about the episode. The overall execution is average. Only the ending is impressive, with the unexpected and controversial decision to erase Kurn's memory and with Worf's sorrowful statement "I have no family."
Tony Todd makes his third and final appearance as Kurn. Interestingly he played the adult Jake in "The Visitor" earlier in the fourth season. I liked him better in that role. While Todd's facial expression as Kurn is impressive, there is only little variation in his play. At the beginning, when Kurn urges Worf to kill him, it is the only time we see him in a temper other than pure lethargy. I think that despite his deep-seated disgrace there should have been more palpable changes of mood in Kurn's character. Even as Rodek he is still the same dull person (although at least this may be attributed to the amnesia).
Overall, this show is more about Worf than about Kurn anyway. We've got Worf and Jadzia in their mek'leth vs. bat'leth match at the very beginning. It sort of sets up their love relationship to come. They were almost kissing when Odo's call interrupted them. Also, the fact that Worf heeds the Klingon tradition of fighting with the bat'leth while he still prefers the unconventional mek'leth is almost a metaphor for his way to deal with his brother's dilemma. Later in the episode, as a small running gag, Worf is being teased by Odo and once again by Julian, who are both aware that Worf lacks a sense of humor.
Most importantly, the recurrent reproach of Worf being too human plays a key role again. After Worf had found his place in the Klingon society the dilemma sadly resurfaced in "The Way of the Warrior", when Gowron stripped Worf of his title, albeit with no comprehensible reason except that Worf was wearing the wrong uniform. In "Sons of Mogh" Worf once again has to prove that he is a true warrior, especially in the eyes of Kurn who is disgraced because of the fault of his older brother. I was expecting that somehow he would evade the Mauk-to'Vor ritual, that he would at least try to find a way to save his brother's life. As macabre it is, I am glad that this time Worf does not hesitate and fulfills Kurn's inhumane wish - almost. Worf may have passed this Klingon-style test of character, but on their covert mission on the Klingon vessel he does not notice the knife in the officer's hand, and only Kurn's disruptor saves his life, or rather Kurn's Klingon instincts? If he has really been inattentive in this situation, I think it's rather not because Worf has become too human though. Up to this point Worf believes that he has done everything right, first trying to kill Kurn, then giving him something useful to do. But he has to recognize that he is not infallible, and he is running out of options to help his brother. So it is up to Jadzia, with her combined knowledge of science and of the Klingon frame of mind (the screenplay involves her character in a quite skillful fashion), to come up with the solution to give Kurn a new life in honor. To Worf this means much the same as actually killing his brother, perhaps even worse because he has to deny their kinship.
Remarkable dialogues: "Major... Major?!" - "Yes... What?" - "Sorry, major. It's just we're almost home." - "Oh. Thanks... Almost home. How long have I been asleep?" - "Seven hours." - "I can't get seven hours of sleep at the station." - "Must be the company." (Kira and O'Brien), "Who are you?" - "I am Worf." - "Are you part of my family?" - "I have no family." (Rodek/Kurn and Worf)
Remarkable jokes: "I'd say your brother's doing well, commander. He's been on the job six hours, he's only killed four Boslics so far. [Worf looks annoyed] Kira's right. You do need a sense of humor." (Odo, to Worf), "There. Very ugly... Ha. Uglier, that is. [Worf looks annoyed] Joke." - "I got it." (Bashir, preparing scars in Worf's face)
Rating: 5

Bar Association Stardate not given: When Rom collapses while working in his brother's bar and is taken to the infirmary, Dr. Bashir suggests that he found a union to enforce higher salaries and sick leave. When Quark refuses to comply with the demands, the staff of his bar, led by Rom, form a union and go on strike. Liquidator Brunt from the FCA arrives to end the strike by any means necessary. After Brunt's Nausicaan thugs have beaten up the bar owner as an example, Quark secretly agrees to his brother's demands as long as Brunt has no knowledge of it. Rom, however, quits his job and begins to work as a technician on the station.

I re-watched "Sons of Mogh" and "Bar Association" as a double pack, and only now I notice that the latter is much like a more light-hearted version of the former. In both episodes we have one member of an alien species breaking out of their predetermined roles, getting their family into trouble, which is eventually resolved by a trick to keep up appearances and comply with tradition.
Anyway, although it is clear that this episode (despite some violence that Quark has to suffer) is meant to be fun in the first place, it still comes out as way too formulaic. Quark and Brunt act as always, their parts are not really interesting her but at least they stay in character. Some other members of the cast, however, were pressed into a new role at any rate. On a positive note, it is the first time Leeta plays a notable part. But is is very odd that she and Julian do not even have a single common scene in the whole episode, although they are still said to be dating (and she will not reappear for the rest of the season). I wonder if it was already planned at the time of the episode for her to get involved with Rom? Rom never really had the courage to speak up, and while his true intellectual capabilities always remained a mystery, it strikes me as unlikely how he suddenly poses as the intrepid and even charismatic union leader. The metamorphosis of O'Brien is even worse. He turns out to be a fanatic and totally anachronistic union man. Not only does he remember details about his ancestor Sean Aloysius O'Brien who was killed in a miners' strike almost 500 years ago (he's not alone with the obsession with family history). He even gets into a brawl with Worf, just to prevent the Klingon from breaking the boycott of Quark's! And even though it is not shown but only recapped, this is where the episode hits the rock bottom. I can't remember anything so obnoxious in the series in a long time.
Worf is initially one of the more pleasant characters of the episode in the aftermath of "Sons of Mogh". When he and Jadzia continued to practice with weapons like in the previous episode, now with Jadzia holding the mek'leth, I was expecting at least some decent hints at his grief, and perhaps people trying to comfort him. But the loss of his brother isn't even mentioned as the reason for Worf's obstinacy to accept life on Deep Space 9 as it is. Instead of that he himself repeatedly complains that things should be different on the station or used to be better on the Enterprise, and his colleagues keep teasing him for his strange views as if he had no reason to be sad. The whole Worf sub-plot that mainly serves to explain his self-imposed exile on the Defiant is patchy at best.
Remarkable dialogue: "You don't understand. Ferengi workers don't want to stop the exploitation. We want to find a way to become the exploiters." - "Suit yourself. But I don't see you exploiting anyone." (Rom and Bashir), "I'm perfectly healthy except I've got a disgusting cyst on the back of my neck. Now either I paint a nose, eyes and mouth on it and pretend I've got two heads, or you take it off." - "I'll get you some paint." (O'Brien and Bashir)
Remarkable quote: "Mr. Worf, you're in love... with the Defiant." (Jadzia), "If this was Ferenginar, I'd have you all taken to the spire of the Tower of Commerce, displayed to the crowds in the Great Marketplace below, then shoved off, one by one. Small children would bet on where you would land, and your spattered remains would be sold as feed mulch for gree-worms." (Brunt)
Remarkable continuity: The tooth sharpener that the Kobheerian (the script says it is a Dopterian) steals from Worf was sold to Worf by Nog in "Little Green Men". -- When he reports the theft, Worf complains that security used to be much better on the Enterprise. Odo reads out from the security logs of the Enterprise: "Really? Now let me see. Stardate 46235.7: Ferengi privateers led by DaiMon Lurin boarded and seized control of the Enterprise using two salvaged Klingon Birds-of-Prey. Stardate 45349.1: Berlinghoff Rasmussen, a petty criminal impersonating a scientist, committed numerous acts of theft against the crew of the Enterprise. Shall I continue?" 
Remarkable scenes: Quark replaces his staff with holographic Quarks as waiters, who drop the trays all the time. Extremely funny! -- Worf removes the mattress from his bed on the Defiant. As we know from TNG: "Unification", Klingons do not like mattresses (or so they say).
Rule of Acquisition #263: "Never allow doubt to tarnish your lust for latinum.", #211: "Employees are the rungs on the ladder of success. Don't hesitate to step on them."
Rating: 3

Accession Stardate not given: An old Bajoran lightship emerges from the wormhole. It carries the poet Akorem Laan who encountered the Prophets 200 years ago and hence believes to be the true Emissary. Sisko, who was never happy with his role as a religious icon, agrees with Akorem's claim. But soon Akorem announces the restoration of the old Bajoran d'jarras, a caste system. This would preclude Bajor's membership in the Federation, but even Kira Nerys complies when she announces that she would become an artist like her forefathers. When a murder occurs on the promenade deck because of the new fanaticism, Sisko decides to force a decision. He flies into the wormhole with Akorem Laan and consults the Prophets. They tell him that Akorem's presence was just a test for the true Emissary. Akorem Laan is sent back without a memory of the events.

This episode feels a bit like a throwback to the beginning of the series. It has been a long time since the Bajoran religion was in the focus of interest the last time. Also, the way the plot of "Accession" unfolds and the characters are developed reminds me a lot of the first season. We've got a Sisko who is still or again unhappy in his role as the Emissary and who seeks Jadzia's advice, rather than Kira's. Sisko does not look good in this episode, seeing how easily he gives up his responsibility as the Emissary and how it takes a case of murder to convince him that Akorem Laan's path for the Bajoran people is the wrong one. Sure, he was acting according to Starfleet regulations, but there were other occasions in which he didn't simply hide behind them. Also, we've got a rather unremarkable Bajoran guest who unwittingly stirs up trouble. Unlike other revolutionaries on Bajor or elsewhere the rather soft-spoken Akorem Laan is neither fanatic nor power-addicted. That may have made him sympathetic and perhaps more realistic as a character, but Akorem only comes across as bland. "Oh, I met the Prophets... Oh, let's return to the caste system... Oh, let the Prophets decide about the Emissary... Oh, so be it." Although Akorem's ideas change the lives of many if not most Bajorans for the worse, his decisions and the emerging conflict appear just too casual when he argues with Sisko or anyone else. 
The time travel issues of this episode are open to interpretation, as the Prophets have obviously taken precautions for Akorem not to change history after his return to the past. In any case it was a nice ironical twist that Kira still remembers one of Akorem's poems, The Call of the Prophets, to be incomplete, although he had the time to finish it in the new timeline. Ironical because on other occasions such anomalies were not commented on, and couldn't possibly have been produced by someone like the Prophets.
The B-plot with O'Brien's petty discomfort about his wife being pregnant again and his unwarranted worries that he would need to give up his freedom (and his holosuite adventures with Julian) was rather annoying. He acted so immaturely that I really hated him in this episode.
Remarkable dialogue: "Did you hear? Keiko's gonna have another baby. " - "Now? [startled]" (Quark and Worf, who had to deliver Molly O'Brien during the emergency in TNG: "Disaster")
Remarkable quote: "You know babies. Every little thing they pick up goes straight into their ears." (Quark)
Remarkable appearance: Camille Saviola as Kai Opaka appears in two Prophet encounters.
Remarkable fact: The four-shift rotation that Kira suggested to the injured Sisko in "Starship Down" is made permanent.
Rating: 3

Rules of Engagement Stardate not given: Worf is on trial for destroying an unarmed transport vessel while in command of the Defiant, fighting against Klingon warships. The Klingon advocate Ch'Pok accuses Worf of acting ruthlessly only to demonstrate that he is still a true Klingon. Worf's crewmates try their best to speak in his favor, but when Worf angrily attacks Ch'Pok who provokes him, the advocate's case seems to be proven. However, it turns out that every passenger of the allegedly destroyed transport had survived a ship accident a few months earlier, only to coincidentally die in Worf's attack, proving that the appearance of the transport was feigned.

I admit I dig courtroom dramas - at least those on Star Trek. TNG: "The Measure of a Man", which tackled the question whether Data as an man-made android could be a self-determined individual, was excellent in almost every respect. DS9: "Dax" fell a bit short of this classic but I found it fascinating how Sisko worked out the defining characteristics of Jadzia Dax as a Trill, who may not be blamed for the failings of a previous host/symbiont combination. DS9: "Tribunal" showed us the frightening Cardassian flavor of justice. My expectations for "Rules of Engagement" were accordingly high but were not completely met.
To start with, the charges against Worf are shaky at best, by Klingon as well as by Starfleet standards. As Worf states himself, the chances of a civilian vessel to decloak in the middle of a battle are negligible. Civilian ships are just not supposed to be cloaked in the first place (It is the only time we ever learn of a so equipped Klingon transport or freighter). And even if something like transports with cloaking should exist, why should they decelerate and decloak just in front of the Defiant? And even though O'Brien admits that he may not have given the order in the same situation, it is still permissible to fire at a target that almost definitely has to be an enemy vessel. The whole hearing serves the political interests of the Klingon Empire in the first place and there is something very fishy about the official Klingon version of the incident.
Ch'Pok, the Klingon lawyer, has a very odd role in this whole ploy, whether he was aware of the fabricated evidence or not. He submits to the laws of the Federation pertaining to extradition, and so he strives to prove to Admiral T'Lara, the Vulcan judge, that Worf is a bloodthirsty Klingon who acted against his orders, against the rules of engagement and against (Federation) ethics and common sense to make Worf's extradition possible. Conversely, in anticipation of a future show trial on Qon'oS, Ch'Pok needs to depict Worf as a traitor, as someone who has been spoiled by the values of the Federation. His argument is overall very contradictory, and although he makes a couple of good points he couldn't possibly win the case. The evidence that the whole case has been forged in the first place is just the icing on the cake.
So the basic premise of this episode certainly has many flaws. But the details are worked out very well, although I would have liked to see more of Worf's sorrow outside the courtroom.
On a different note, this episode uses a rare technique to blend flashbacks and current events. Instead of keeping it to a simple voice-over by the character who recounts the events depicted in the flashback, the character as seen in the flashback itself takes over the telling. We can see Dax, Quark, O'Brien and finally Worf making parts of their testimonies in this fashion - memory gaps, mix-ups and what-if scenarios included. While it was always limited to a few sentences it still increasingly irritated me.
Remarkable quote: "I am always suspicious about people who are eager to help the police officer." (Odo)
Remarkable performance: During his pleading Avery Brooks as Sisko becomes increasingly dyspneic. I just love him acting like that since "Our Man Bashir".
Remarkable facts: One of Worf's holoprograms is the Battle of Tong Vey. After winning a great victory, the ten thousand warriors were ordered by Emperor Sompek to slaughter everyone and burn the city to the ground. -- Miles O'Brien has been in 235 combat situations and has been decorated 15 times. -- 441 civilians were allegedly killed on that civilian ship.
Rating: 6

Hard Time Stardate not given: A devastated O'Brien returns from the Argrathi who sentenced him to 20 years in prison - a memory that was implanted into his brain. Dr. Bashir determines that he couldn't remove this memory without erasing O'Brien's brain. The chief engineer keeps hallucinating about his cellmate Ee'char. At one point he ticks off and almost hurts his daughter Molly. O'Brien decides to end the ordeal by putting an end to his life. Bashir finds him in a cargo bay, ready to pull the trigger of a phaser. O'Brien finally reveals his greatest pain that, as a part of his punishment, he is supposed to believe that he killed Ee'char. Dr. Bashir can convince him to undergo a therapy consisting of medication and counseling to overcome these feelings.

Poor O'Brien! Whenever the writers decide that someone has to suffer, he seems to be the candidate of choice. "Hard Time" continues in Star Trek's tradition of depicting odd alien ideas of justice and punishment rituals. There are several parallels to TNG: "Frame of Mind", VOY: "Ex Post Facto" and, of course, to DS9: "Tribunal" where O'Brien was exposed to the Cardassian law system.
The concept of implanted memories is nothing new at the time of the episode. It has gained a certain popularity in science fiction since the terrific Schwarzenegger movie "Total Recall" of 1990, where it was possible to purchase vacation memories. We could see something similar in TNG: "The Inner Light", where Picard likewise experienced many decades in a matter of a couple of minutes, only that Picard's second life on the planet Kataan was of a mostly pleasant kind. It is only the logical consequence that horrible artificial memories can be used to punish or torture a person. Provided it is possible to create very specific memories that are as plausible to the victim as they are to O'Brien here, meaning that he can imagine having really acted like that, I find the idea of the episode frighteningly realistic. I also have to agree that memories of events that never happened are ultimately the same as those of real experiences, and can plague a person despite the knowledge that they are not true.
I didn't find "Hard Time" very exciting, however. Already the teaser gives away the essential information that everything O'Brien remembers to have experienced in the Argrathi prison has actually never happened and that everything he believes to see of it in the present must be a hallucination. It is clear that the episode is not about the question what is real and what is imagination. It is clear that there will be no unexpected turns such as in TNG: "Frame of Mind" or in "Total Recall", where reality and imagination frequently switch places. "Hard Time" is "only" a psychogram of O'Brien as a person with post-traumatic stress disorder, and as such quite straightforward. This doesn't have to be a bad thing, but I wonder if the story couldn't have kept more of a mystery until the end. The way it unfolds, we know very soon that O'Brien is lying about the existence of an inmate called Ee'char because he is repressing a dark secret that would otherwise be unbearable. The resolution that the repressed memory is O'Brien's killing of Ee'char (or so he remembers) is anything but a surprise. It is a recurring trope ever since Hitchcock's wonderful "Spellbound" with Gregory Peck, only much more exciting there. The ending of "Hard Time" is certainly realistic because it does not resort to a medical miracle that would completely free O'Brien of his pain, but also dissatisfactory because I had hoped for *something* unexpected to happen.
Even with the premise that the reason for O'Brien's hard time is known almost from the outset, it could have been made more interesting, for instance by showing how Sisko and Keiko react on his condition in the beginning, and how they struggle to prove his innocence, to get him rehabilitated and cured, the same way as they did in "Tribunal". "Hard Time" winds up as a bit lethargic in terms of the drama, and also undecided in terms of visualization. I would have focused on the flashbacks to show O'Brien's ordeal; the idea to include Ee'char as a companion to O'Brien on the station is rather lame because we know too well that he is just hallucinated. The best about the episode is clearly Colm Meaney's excellent performance as a traumatized O'Brien that, as I think, strikes just the right chord. Kudos also to Craig Wasson, whose Ee'Char conceals his own tragedy with almost exuberant humor and kindness.
On a final note, I find it odd that Counselor Telnorri is mentioned on four occasions in the episode but never seen.
Remarkable quote: "After six years in a place like this, you either learn to laugh, or you go insane. I prefer to laugh." (Ee'char)
Remarkable continuity: Julian refers to O'Brien's experiences with alien justice from TNG: "The Wounded", DS9: "Whispers" and DS9: "Tribunal".
Rating: 3

Shattered Mirror Stardate not given: Jennifer Sisko appears on Deep Space 9 and takes her "son" Jake to where she comes from, the Mirror Universe. When Ben Sisko follows them using a device she left behind, he is welcomed by "Smiley" O'Brien and other rebels from that universe who have gained control of Terok Nor. The fleet of the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance led by Regent Worf is approaching the station, while the rebels are working to finish their copy of the Defiant - with the help of Captain Sisko whose son is in their hands. Sisko decides to lead the rebels' attack himself, and the small agile fleet proves successful against the crude warships of the Alliance. When Jennifer Sisko is about to send Jake back to his universe, Intendant Kira, who has been a prisoner of the rebels, steps into their way. Kira points her weapon at Jake, but Jennifer jumps into the line of fire and dies soon after.

An episode set in the Mirror Universe is a double-edged sword, and this shows in "Shattered Mirror" more clearly than in the two previous DS9 Mirror Universe installments. On the bright side, it allows fun and action stories without the necessity to always preserve the basic setting for the episodes to follow. It is possible to show regular characters in a completely new light, and to kill them off any time. On the downside, Mirror characters may degrade to mere caricatures of their counterparts in "our" universe. As the characterizations as well as the plot on the whole are allowed and perhaps even encouraged to go over the top, a Mirror Universe episode may challenge its own credibility. It is so easy for a writer to wreak havoc in this crazy place and then return to our "serious" universe as if nothing had happened.
So this is my basic gripe with "Shattered Mirror" (and with every Mirror episode of DS9 to follow). Still, I managed to take everything with a grain of salt and enjoyed it a lot. So much that I am willing to overlook some inherent silliness. At least, I enjoyed everything related to the preparation of the Mirror Defiant and the battle of Terok Nor. The other plot thread with Jake and Jennifer Sisko did not fully work out. Most importantly, how incredibly naïve is Jake that he would not notice for a couple of days that he is a hostage? Why does he follow Jennifer to the Mirror Universe in the first place, without even trying to tell his father? Doesn't it concern him at all what his father is doing on Terok Nor? This all is not Cirroc Lofton's fault. His role in this episode is simply not sufficiently considered. I concede that the excitement about meeting his mother who was believed dead would blind any adult man, but most of the time Jake seems to act as if he were ten years old. I think the episode would have profited, had it been shown from Jake's perspective, with only infrequent switches to Ben on the Defiant. Really. It would have given Jake the possibility to undergo an emotional rollercoaster ride instead of being the stupid boy who has no idea what is going on.
Regarding the other characters, Jennifer Sisko comes across only as a bit more interesting as in her rather unremarkable appearance in "Through the Looking Glass". Well, we never really saw the Jennifer of our universe to draw a comparison. Anyway, her chemistry with Jake is a bit lacking, and as already shown in the previous episode there is always a certain distance between her and Ben Sisko. When she dies, protecting her "son", there is certainly emotional attachment, but the tragedy of Jake/Ben somehow losing his mother/wife for the second time does not really become palpable.
Regent Worf is a new addition, and I find it sort of pleasant that also in this role Michael Dorn speaks and moves much like "our" Worf, without the need to underline with special facial expressions or accents that he is a bad guy. Andrew Robinson as Mirror Garak is certainly still more eloquent than "our" Garak, but still recognizable as the same person, only with twisted ethics and a very silly dog collar. Once again I enjoyed Nana Visitor's exaggerated portrayal as the cattish Intendant Kira, although she is arguably more of a caricature than anyone else. Alexander Siddig's portrayal of the filthy Bashir is overdone too, but in an importunate way. When he grimaces while talking as if he were not able to open his mouth and protracts every last word in a sentence, it is too obviously a phony trait. Among the rebels Smiley O'Brien is once again the most interesting character. He comes across as an O'Brien with a very grumpy charm who tries hard to be the person he is in our universe. This makes his character unusually realistic for the Mirror Universe.
Remarkable scenes: When Jake is standing on the upper level of the Promenade, Odo comes along and they talk about the time that Jake was hanging around there with Nog. Later, on the Promenade of Terok Nor, Jake meets Mirror Nog, but the encounter with the ruthless bar owner is a huge disappointment to him.
Remarkable dialogues: "Poor kid. I suppose that's what you get for having friends." - "Meaning what?" - "Just that when you think you can count on them, they go off and leave you. No. You're much better off without them." - "I imagine that's why you don't have any friends." - "Look who's talking." (Quark and Odo, about Jake and Nog), "The other Alliance ships have broken off their attack on the station. We've won." - "You sound surprised." - "Surprised? I'm astonished. Not that I'm complaining." (Smiley and Ben Sisko)
Remarkable quote: "Forgive me, my Regent, but perhaps the moment has arrived to remove your august presence from the battlefield." (Garak, to Worf)
Remarkable ship: The Mirror Negh'Var class appears to be roughly 2 kilometers long (speaking of caricatures...).
Rating: 6

The Muse Stardate not given: Lwaxana Troi surprises Odo with the announcement that she is pregnant. The father, her husband Jeyal, is a Tavnian who demands that the boy be raised by him alone until he is 16, according to his people's tradition. In order to help her keep the baby, Odo agrees to marry Lwaxana in a Tavnian ceremony that would automatically invalidate her current marriage. Odo even manages to convince Jeyal of his sincere feelings for Lwaxana as the Tavnian laws demand. In the meantime Jake Sisko has spent a lot of time with a mysterious woman named Onaya who has apparently inspired him to write better than ever. But Onaya is literally sucking out Jake's life in the process. It turns out that she is actually an energy being who lives from neural energy that she drains while stimulating the victim's neural cortex.

I usually care about the final result and not very much about how a story idea evolves to a shooting script. But in the case of "The Muse" it is just too obvious that something must have gone very wrong, and so I looked up the production notes at Memory Alpha. Majel Roddenberry had originally planned to focus a story on the pregnancy of Lwaxana Troi, and she would have claimed the baby was Odo's. René Echevarria came up with a script that would have revolved around her and Odo, but also three other couples (among them Leeta and Rom). But then the B-story about Jake's writing was added, encouraged by the positive viewer reactions to "The Visitor" earlier in the season. This B-story eventually became the A-story. So the path to the final script was very bumpy. But unlike it was with TNG: "Yesterday's Enterprise", an episode whose script was being revised all the time by no less than five writers working in parallel and which still became a classic, the script of "The Muse" ended up as one of the worst of all DS9. The huge problems lie in the failure to build up tension, to find the right pace, to make conflicts palpable, to work with the characters and to set this episode apart from a similar Lwaxana story in TNG: "Cost of Living".
The A-plot with Jake and Onaya is quite unlikely right from the start. We are led to believe that Jake, the aspiring writer, is seeking inspiration and accidentally runs across a woman who becomes his muse. But what we see may be just as well an adolescent boy who is looking forward to his first sexual experience with an older woman. Well, both variants are TV/movie tropes, but the latter is the far more plausible one, or would be if it were any other boy. Anyway, the sexual component of the story is even clearly shown when Jake has something like a mental orgasm while Onaya is stroking his head. But it is never mentioned or only alluded to. Up to the point of that "orgasm" the story remains somewhat enjoyable nonetheless. However, as soon as it becomes clear that Onaya is yet another alien lifeform who sucks (or induces) mental energy and yet another alien who inspired Earth's history the A-plot becomes boring. The best part about the A-plot is the acting. Cirroc Lofton does a fine job as the enchanted writer, and Meg Foster is both attractive and frightening in her role as Onaya. Her eyes are so alien that it wouldn't even have required much additional make-up.
The only redeeming virtue of the B-story is that it wraps up Odo's and Lwaxana's previous encounters. Other than that, it does not work at all. Most importantly, both Lwaxana's personal conflict with Jeyal and the cultural clash of Betazoids and Tavnians (a race we have never seen before) come out of the blue and remain on the surface. We will never know what could have attracted Lwaxana to the humorless Jeyal in the first place (although he reminds me a lot of her former fiancée Campio in TNG: "Cost of Living"). His character remains so underdeveloped that he could have been ditched altogether. Lwaxana's dilemma is not sufficiently elaborated on, and the only interesting twist of the episode, Odo's idea to marry Lwaxana so her boy would become his property under Tavnian law, comes too effortlessly. Odo's speech at the marriage, in which he has to ascertain that he really loves Lwaxana, does strike a chord with me, because it is clear that there lies some truth in Odo's statement that Lwaxana got him out of his isolation. But the whole circumstances are much too casual - just as casual as the crew members who are not involved in any fashion but witness the scene much as if they were bystanders and not his friends. It all doesn't feel right.
On a curious note, Odo's speech reminds me of TNG: "Ménage à Troi" where Picard was forced to proclaim his love for Lwaxana, in order to free her from the Ferengi ship.
Remarkable dialogue: "Odo! Won't you join the party?" - "Actually, I have some free time and I was wondering if you wanted to take a walk." - "I would." - "I meant Lwaxana." (Lwaxana, Odo and Worf, the latter obviously not enjoying Lwaxana's women's talk)
Remarkable facts: Lwaxana Troi recalls the death of her daughter Kestra (previously mentioned in TNG: "Dark Page"). -- This episode is Majel Barrett's last appearance as Lwaxana Troi and her final on-screen Star Trek appearance. -- Onaya inspired the Roman poet Catullus, the English poet John Keats, Phineas Tarbolde from Canopus (TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before"), a writer named Revalus (whose pen Jake receives from Onaya) and the Cardassian architect Tavor Kell. -- We can see that the novel that Jake wrote under Onaya's influence is called Anslem, as foreshadowed in "The Visitor".
Rating: 1

For the Cause Stardate not given: While Deep Space 9 is expecting a shipment of industrial replicators for Cardassia, a security inspection reveals that Kasidy Yates, Benjamin Sisko's love interest, may be working for the Maquis. The Defiant secretly pursues Kasidy's freighter Xhosa into the Badlands where it meets with a Maquis ship. When Kasidy is leaving Deep Space 9 for another rendezvous with the Maquis, Sisko is on her heels again, this time to apprehend everyone involved. But the second rendezvous is just a ruse. Back on the station Commander Eddington, who is working for the Maquis, overwhelms Kira, transfers the replicators to a Vulcan freighter and escapes. While Ben has the sad duty to arrest Kasidy, he vows to hunt the traitor Eddington.

"For the Cause" is exciting right from the start, and it keeps up the suspense until the end, although there is nothing such as a battle or another deadly conflict. Only few episodes are so carefully developed. The only thing I missed was Sisko's and Kira's immediate reaction after learning of Eddington's betrayal. The episode should have been a couple of minutes longer to that end, or maybe a two-parter?
The best accomplishment of this episode is how Avery Brooks brings out the different stages of Ben Sisko's dilemma. In the teaser, Odo and Eddington attempt to present him the disturbing suspicion that Kasidy might be working for the Maquis in a very careful way. Sisko reacts with enragement and denial. Then, after his officers have presented him credible evidence, he is beside himself with shock. He takes Jake aside, and instead of letting in his son he says something very awkward but quite understandable in his situation: "This is important. You and I. Things change, but not this... Forget it. I'm just having a bad day." The bad day continues when he attends the meeting in the wardroom, listening to his fellow officers who are discussing Kasidy's case, his personal matter, in a quite unemotional way. Only towards the end he speaks up and orders to take action against the Maquis, and when Jadzia tries to talk to him in private he sends her away because now he has decided for himself that he must push it through. Still, Sisko makes one final desperate attempt to get Kasidy off the line of fire, when he proposes that she join him on a trip to Risa instead of making that cargo run.
Kasidy Yates doesn't seem to have as much of a problem with her covert operations. In contrast to Sisko she appears to be able to keep apart her mission and her private life. But that impression may be deceptive, as the whole episode is told from Sisko's perspective, and Kasidy may well have doubts about her activities and how they could jeopardize her relationship with Sisko. In the end she is forced to make a decision: Should she stay away and give Ben the feeling that she betrayed him personally (much like Eddington)? Or should she go to prison for something she doesn't think is a crime, but thereby prove her love and perhaps even rather her "worthiness" to Ben? She does the latter, and it has probably been a hard decision.
Regarding Eddington, his actions when he stuns Kira and takes over the station are very cold-blooded. But I wouldn't have expected otherwise from him. His announcement to Sisko, on the other hand, is quite emotional, and still he raises some very good points: "I know you. I was like you once, but then I opened my eyes. Open your eyes, Captain. Why is the Federation so obsessed about the Maquis? We've never harmed you, and yet we're constantly arrested and charged with terrorism. Starships chase us through the Badlands and our supporters are harassed and ridiculed. Why? Because we've left the Federation, and that's the one thing you can't accept. Nobody leaves paradise. Everyone should want to be in the Federation. Hell, you even want the Cardassians to join. You're only sending them replicators because one day they can take their rightful place on the Federation Council. You know, in some ways you're worse than the Borg. At least they tell you about their plans for assimilation. You're more insidious. You assimilate people and they don't even know it." Eddington must have worked on this speech for quite a while. Only the comparison with the Borg is certainly inappropriate. Sisko does not have much to counter in terms of eloquence, and so he sounds like a typical resentful loser: "You know what, Mister Eddington? I don't give a damn what you think of the Federation, the Maquis, or anything else. All I know is that you betrayed your oath, your duty, and me. And if it takes me the rest of my life, I will see you standing before a court-martial that'll break you and send you to a penal colony, where you will spend the rest of your days growing old and wondering whether a ship full of replicators was really worth it." And speaking of being resentful, the tone of their little dispute will be picked up in the fifth season in DS9: "For the Uniform" as if nothing else had happened until then.
There is also some minor conflict when the view of O'Brien (and probably many more in Starfleet), that the Maquis are defending their homes, clashes with Worf's blunt stance that they are nothing but terrorists. It has no further consequence, but I like it as a toned down version of the emerging conflict of Sisko and Eddington.
The relationship of Tora Ziyal and Garak is nicely developed. However, why of all people is Garak so frightened of a little girl, who only happens to be his archenemy's daughter? Although Garak himself makes some attempts to explain his fear (or paranoia?), I think it is overdone. Vice versa, I can understand well that Kira tends to be overprotective of Tora Ziyal. After first freeing her from the Breen camp and then getting her father to leave her on the station she does have a responsibility, and she has become much like a surrogate mother.
Remarkable dialogues: "All right, you two [Ben and Kasidy], break it up. I've got a problem. Do either of you know what a Kavarian tiger-bat smells like? It's for a story I'm working on. The computer database has plenty of pictures, but no olfactory information." - "You're a writer. Make something up." (Jake and Ben), "They [the Maquis] should be hunted down and destroyed." - "What for? Defending their homes? Look at what's happened to those people. One day they're trying to eke out a living on some godforsaken colonies on the Cardassian border, the next day the Federation makes a treaty handing those colonies over to the Cardassians. What would you do?" - "I would not become a terrorist. It would be dishonorable." - "I wouldn't say that around Major Kira if I were you." (Worf and O'Brien)
Remarkable quote: "'Paranoid' is what they call people who imagine threats against their life. I have threats against my life." (Garak)
Remarkable error: Eddington says: "If she's a Maquis, then she is no longer a Federation citizen." - Since when does the Federation expatriate citizens?
Rating: 7

To the Death Stardate 49004.2: A Jem'Hadar task force heavily damages the station. When the Defiant pursues them through the wormhole, they run into a disabled Jem'Hadar ship from where the crew rescues six Jem'Hadar, led by Omet'iklan, and one Vorta, Weyoun. The Vorta reveals that the attackers were renegades, and that they are going to repair an Iconian gateway that could give them control over a large number of planets. Starfleet and Weyoun's Vorta form an uneasy alliance. When Worf is attacked by a Jem'Hadar, Omet'iklan executes his man - and he expects Sisko to kill Worf likewise. The captain naturally refuses, and Omet'iklan announces that he would kill Sisko when their alliance is over. During the successful battle against the renegade Jem'Hadar, Sisko saves Omet'iklan life despite everything. The Jem'Hadar leader spares Sisko but kills Weyoun who had kept important information from him. 

This episode serves an obvious purpose, to bring our crew and the Jem'Hadar together in a situation where we could learn more about the latter and where the culture clash would become more palpable than in a usual remote confrontation. The basic premise of hunting down a renegade faction of the Federation's mortal enemy is reminiscent of TNG: "Descent". Even the motive of a solitary building on a planet with a dampening field bears a striking resemblance to the TNG episode. Fortunately the events of "To the Death" are unrelated to "Hippocratic Oath" earlier in the fourth season, where Julian was working on a cure for the Jem'Hadar's drug addiction, which could have led to the formation of a renegade faction much like Picard's decision to return Hugh to the Collective in TNG: "I, Borg" sparked the Borg rebellion. But that would have been contrived. In any case the episode does a good job working out the details of the Jem'Hadar existence, it credibly shows how a pact with the devil is forged that everyone in the Federation crew is afraid of, and it skillfully embeds that into a back story based on the Iconian gateways known from TNG: "Contagion".
Regarding the depiction of the Jem'Hadar, it is well worked out how their only purpose is to fight, in strong contrast even to the Klingons. I wonder if this doesn't overstep the mark though. I don't know if it was the intention to make the Jem'Hadar a bit likable by showing more of their culture. The episode would have clearly missed that goal. In some way the Jem'Hadar turn out to be even worse than soulless battle machines. It appears that they are programmed with a fascist ideology, with contempt for any lifeform that exhibits any characteristics they consider as weak. On the other hand, we could interpret their attitude as simple defiance out of jealousy because the Jem'Hadar couldn't enjoy their lives the same way as other humanoids, even if they wanted to. Dax' conversation with Virak'kara, the only scene that creates some sympathy with the Jem'Hadar as tragic figures, establishes that there is no such chance. It may be possible for Angosian soldiers to overcome their conditioning (TNG: "The Hunted"). Borg may be returned to a more or less normal life, even if this means to remove everything Borg in them. Only Jem'Hadar seem to be doomed to fight and die, because their design is limited to that very purpose in the first place.
We wouldn't expect the Dominion forces to be particularly grateful for being rescued by an enemy ship. However, as soon as Weyoun, Omet'iklan and the Jem'Hadar come aboard, they incite conflicts all over the place, Weyoun through intrigues, the Jem'Hadar through open hostility. It is a tense situation that just has to give rise to violence sooner or later. The key scene of the episode is clearly when Omet'iklan executes his second in command after a brawl with Worf and he expects Sisko to kill Worf likewise. Killing one of one's own men for a minor offense is not only barbarian and extremely short-sighted, it is also the culmination of his contempt of the Federation's ethical principles. Omet'iklan accuses Sisko of being weak, and after an attempt to counter the open insults and threats Sisko backs off for the sake of peace. Had I been in Sisko's place, I would have considered to beam Omet'iklan and his people into space right after that incident. Because Jem'Hadar are ticking bombs, regardless whether they are renegade or loyal.
In the end, after the successful destruction of the gateway, there seems to be some basic understanding between Sisko and Omet'iklan, but only at the first glance. We have to bear in mind that Omet'iklan states that he spares Sisko's life because the captain fought well, in his mindset the only possible redeeming virtue. He isn't particularly grateful that Sisko saved his life, much less has he learned a lesson about the value of life, considering that he has just murdered Weyoun for not telling him the whole truth. I like this ending because it doesn't embellish the ugly truth and because it doesn't show former enemies who celebrate a common victory. Well, the Jem'Hadar wouldn't know how to celebrate anyway.
Remarkable dialogue 1: Sisko: "There'll be a joint briefing session at 1900 hours." - O'Brien: "Followed by a get-to-know-you buffet at 1930." - Dax: "And I forgot my dress uniform."
Remarkable dialogue 2: "Am I really that interesting? You've been standing there staring at me for the last two hours." - "You are part of my combat team. I must learn to understand your behavior, anticipate your actions." - "There must be something you'd rather do. Maybe get some sleep?" - "We don't sleep." - "How about getting something to eat?" - "The white is the only thing we need." - "Don't sleep, don't eat. What do you do for relaxation?" - "Relaxation would only make us weak." - "You people are no fun at all. Glad I'm not a Jem'Hadar woman." - "There are no Jem'Hadar women." - "So what do you do? Lay eggs?" - "Jem'Hadar are bred in birthing chambers. We are able to fight within three days of our emergence." - "Lucky you. So let me get this straight. No food, so sleep, no women. No wonder you're so angry. After thirty or forty years of that, I'd be angry too." - "No Jem'Hadar has ever lived thirty years." - "How old are you?" - "I am eight." - "I would've guessed at least fifteen." - "Few Jem'Hadar live that long. If we reach twenty we are considered Honored Elders. How old are you?" - "I stopped counting at three hundred." - "You don't look it." - "Thank you." (Dax and Virak'kara)
Remarkable quotes: "I am First Omet'iklan, and I am dead. As of this moment we are all dead. We go into battle to reclaim our lives. This we do gladly, for we are Jem'Hadar. Remember. Victory is life.", "I am Chief Miles Edward O'Brien. I'm very much alive and I intend to stay that way."
Remarkable fact: The Iconian structure consists of neutronium, which may not be completely destroyed, even using quantum torpedoes.
Rating: 6

The Quickening Stardate not given: 200 years ago, the Jem'Hadar introduced a terrible plague called the Teplan blight to the Teplans. In its final stage, the "quickening", the blight is extremely painful. The alleged healer Tevean actually poisons his patients to relieve them of their pain. Dr. Bashir, however, is determined to help the Teplans cure the disease. Beginning with the pregnant woman Ekoria as a volunteer, he develops what he thinks may be a cure. But the antigen he injects has a disastrous effect because in combination with the radiation of his instruments it only accelerates the quickening. Still, Bashir finds that while Ekoria herself can't be saved, her child was protected by the placenta and has not contracted the disease, so the next generation of Teplans will be healthy again.

At the first glance, or after just reading the above summary, this episode seems to be nothing special. And while it never gets very exciting, it is still an emotional highlight of the season. Perhaps a bit too sentimental at times, but overall quite appropriate. "The Quickening" is also the second of three episodes in a little Dominion arc at the end of season 4. We don't see any Dominion members, but witnessing what they have done to the Teplans is more frightening than meeting aggressive Jem'Hadar as in last week's "To the Death". I find it particularly insidious that the virus mutates in the presence of EM fields, so the Teplans would never be able to rebuild their technology. It is a perfect scheme. Still, the Dominion may have been involved more than in a few casual mentions. The way the story unfolds it could have been any other cruel enemy who brought the blight upon the Teplans.
I think the way the Teplans are shown is both realistic and likable. In the beginning they appear like a bunch of insufferable cynics. But we need to bear in mind that they are living with a deadly virus for 200 years. They know that they will probably die young. And they would die painfully if it were not for people such as Trevean. Death has become such a normal part of their lives that they celebrate it. 
I like the role of Trevean in this story very much. At first it seems like he is a charlatan, someone who pretends to help people and who is probably making profit of their misery. Later, however, when it becomes clear that the Teplans see death as their "salvation", he appears much like a priest. His actual motivation can be best described as philantropical (although the special situation on the Teplan homeworld defies a comparison with euthanasia in our world). At a time when there is no hope for anyone to survive the blight, he offers them relief. As soon, however, as Julian proves that there is hope for a future generation, Trevean is very glad and more than willing to help inoculate pregnant women to save their children.
Above all this is Alexander Siddig's episode, and he does a great job portraying Julian's various emotional states. His unswerving optimism when he decides to find a cure, his shock when the EM emissions from his equipment cause the virus to mutate, his despair when he allows Trevean to relieve his patients of their pain, his melancholic joy when he presents the healthy baby to the dying Ekoria. And the passion for his job all the time.
Although it is overall unnecessary, I also like the little B-plot with Quark spamming the whole station. The episode was made in 1996, when no one could possibly anticipate the enormous amounts of spam that would pollute the internet ten years later.
Remarkable dialogues: "They've just been suffering so long they've lost hope that things can be better." - "It's more than that. We've come to worship death. I used to wake up and look at myself in the mirror, and be disappointed that I hadn't quickened in my sleep. Going to Trevean seemed so much easier than going on living." (Bashir and Ekoria), "These people believed in me and look where it got them. Trevean was right. There is no cure. The Dominion made sure of that. But I was so arrogant I thought I could find one in a week." - "Maybe it was arrogant to think that. But it's even more arrogant to think there isn't a cure just because you couldn't find it." (Bashir and Dax)
Remarkable fact: The teddy bear Kukalaka was Dr. Bashir's first patient. At the age of five, he sewed on Kukalaka's leg that had been torn off.
Remarkable prop: We can see the single components of the quantum stasis field (that Garak used to torture Odo) from DS9: "The Die Is Cast" among Julian's equipment.
Rating: 6

Body Parts Stardate not given: Quark returns from Ferenginar with the distressing diagnosis that he has the Dorek syndrome, and only six days left to live. In order to pay off his debts, he decides to put up his remains for bidding on the Ferengi Futures Exchange. After an initially depressing lack of interest someone suddenly places a huge bid of 500 bars, which Quark gladly accepts. But then he receives notice that the diagnosis was wrong. The bidder, however, is Liquidator Brunt, FCA, and he insists on the fulfillment of the contract - otherwise Quark would remain an outcast forever. Quark makes provisions to let Garak execute him when he dreams of the first Grand Nagus Gint who gives him the advice to break the contract. Knowing that the Ferengi will despise him for that, he returns the 500 bars to Brunt, only to learn that his friends on the station are more important than all his other assets. In the meantime, Keiko O'Brien's unborn child had to be transferred into Kira's womb after an accident. Kira moves into the O'Briens' quarters to be close to the family of the child she is now carrying.

Now that I have seen "Body Parts" again after a couple of years I find it less exciting and less amusing than I remembered. The basic premise is that Brunt demands Quark to fulfill the immoral contract, effectively forcing Quark to break it so Brunt has the to right confiscate his assets and exclude him from business with other Ferengi. Somehow this idea of a Ferengi version of Worf's equally unwarranted dishonoring sounds more interesting than it is actually presented here. Quark's dilemma just doesn't touch me very much, also because it is clear from the beginning that neither a rare disease nor a hired assassin would kill him and that it would boil down to another setback of his business interests like the recent one in "Bar Association". It was funny at times, but for the typical Ferengi droll story the circumstances are overall still too serious. The episode does have its great moments, such as Quark's and Rom's debates in the beginning and most of all the crew's nice move to help Quark rebuild the bar in the end. In the meantime, however, the story dwells way too much on macabre situations such as Quark's attempt to hire Garak as an assassin and select the right way to be killed (as if Garak would really work in this business any longer, especially since then it would be obvious that he murdered Quark). It is just too absurd to be true. I concede the holosuite simulation of Quark's assassination is good for laughs though. The absolute low point of the episode, however, is Quark's unbearably cheesy dream sequence in which he is dead and meets Grand Nagus Gint.
In the context of the whole series this episode blends in nicely despite its shortcomings. And it adds greatly to Quark's and, to somewhat lesser extent, to Rom's character, as much as they stumble through the overall absurd story. Perhaps, in the end Quark has learned the one lesson that his most valuable assets are his friends. But I wouldn't put my money on it.
There is not really much to say about the B-plot in which Keiko O'Brien's unborn baby is transplanted into Kira's womb. After the first surprise it is not conceded much screen time and it is told in a very straightforward fashion. But it was an ingenious story idea, considering that this way Nana Visitor's pregnancy at that time did not have to be covered up when filming her.
Remarkable quotes: "Everything's okay. The baby just had a change of address, that's all." (Kira, to Miles O'Brien), "If you try on the trousers first you'll see I've added some extra padding to the seat which should make swiveling on your bar stool much more comfortable." (Garak, to Morn), "We're running out of options, Quark. You don't want to be vaporized because you need a body. The disruptor ruined your clothing. The knife was too savage. The nerve gas smelled bad. Hanging took too long, and poison. What was wrong with poison?" (Garak, to Quark).
Rule of Acquisition #17: "A contract is a contract is a contract... but only between Ferengi.", #239: "Never be afraid to mislabel a product."
Rating: 4

Broken Link Stardate 49962.4: Odo is brought to the infirmary because he can't maintain his solid form any longer. When Dr. Bashir is unable to help him, Odo requests to be taken back to his people, the Founders. On the way to their homeworld, the Defiant encounters a Jem'Hadar vessel with a Founder on board who is already waiting for Odo. The Founders have obviously caused the disease to force Odo to return and to be put on trial for killing one of his kind. While the Defiant is in orbit, Garak attempts to fire at the Founders' Great Link on their homeworld, but Worf stops him. Odo is converted by his people to a "Solid", more precisely to a human being, as a punishment. Upon their return to Deep Space 9, Odo makes an alarming discovery about something the Great Link was attempting to hide from him: Gowron, who is just on a display declaring war against the Federation, is not a Klingon but a Founder!

"Broken Link" accomplishes a lot of things in just 45 minutes, and all of them to my satisfaction or even delight. First of all, it does a nice job wrapping up the events from the third season episodes "The Die Is Cast" (Garak's attempt of retaliation after he learns that no one in the Cardassian fleet has survived) and "The Adversary" (Odo's punishment by the Great Link for killing one of his own kind). It is an interesting twist, and a fitting form of justice in the mindset of the Founders, that they transform Odo into a Solid, after he has sided with humanoids against his kind. I find the poetic justice that lies in the verdict amazing. I also think the episode does a great job setting the stage for the fifth season, in which the tensions with the Klingons and later with the Dominion will rise. By the end of the fourth season the Federation-Klingon conflict as well as the Federation-Dominion conflict had become a bit stale. It was about time to revive them. In this single episode both conflicts gain more relevance, in their political dimensions as well as the characters are personally concerned.
Well, "Broken Link" does need some time to gain momentum, but the last ten minutes are so full of action and of new revelations that it is worth the wait. And just as I thought that nothing of importance would still happen, the episode closes with an awesome cliffhanger, when Gowron appears on the screen as a warmonger and Odo becomes aware that Gowron must be a Founder.
The only thing that doesn't work in this episode is the introduction of the Bajoran woman Chalan Aroya as Odo's potential love interest. It is obvious that she is supposed to become a recurring character, but it just doesn't feel right and only adds contrivance to an episode in which Odo is transformed to a humanoid.
Nitpicking: The small pond we saw in "The Search" has suddenly grown to an ocean of Founders (unless the number of Founders and the size of the Great Link was part of the deception in "The Search").
Remarkable quote: "For all I know, this could be a normal biological process. The changeling equivalent of puberty, or menopause." (Bashir, to Odo about his illness), "You fight well. For a tailor." (Worf, to Garak)
Remarkable sneeze: As foreshadowed in "Body Parts", the pregnant Kira starts sneezing all over the place.
Remarkable fact: Curiously, when he arrives on the Founders' homeworld, Odo is carrying two viruses. There is the one he was infected with by Weyoun in "To the Death", and the (still dormant) one he must have received from Section 31 in "Homefront" or "Paradise Lost", as will be revealed in the final chapter.
Rating: 8

 


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Last modified: 27.10.14  
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