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Deep Space Nine (DS9) Season 7

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)


Image in the Sand / Shadows and Symbols Stardate 52152.6: Three months after Jadzia was killed and the wormhole closed, Sisko, now working in his father's restaurant on Earth, has a vision of uncovering a woman's face in the sand on the planet Tyree. This woman turns out to be his real mother, Sarah. A locket that belonged to Sarah shows an old Bajoran inscription which hints to a yet unknown Orb of the Emissary. Despite an attempt on his life obviously by a member of the Pah-wraith cult, Sisko goes searching for this Orb, together with his father Joseph, his son Jake and Ezri, the new Dax host. Meanwhile, the Romulans establish a hospital complex on the Bajoran moon Derna, but also install plasma torpedoes there. Worf is eager to undertake a dangerous mission to allow Jadzia to enter Sto-vo-kor. On the planet Tyree Sisko discovers the Orb of the Emissary. The Prophet from the Orb enters the wormhole and expels the Pah-wraith. Kira's blockade against the Romulans succeeds, and they remove their weapons from the Bajoran moon. Worf and Martok, accompanied by Bashir, O'Brien and Quark, successfully destroy the Dominion shipyard at Monak IV by triggering a solar flare.

Is it a lame or rather an inventive trick to combine three almost equally important plot threads to one episode although they remain largely unconnected, namely Sisko's quest for the missing Orb, Kira's blockade of Derna and Worf's mission to get Jadzia to Sto-vo-kor? Well, it works fine for the most part in this double feature. Rather than scattering the dramaturgy, the frequent switching from one setting to another amplifies each of the three threads. Still, I would have wished for some more coherence.
Overall, the double episode nicely wraps up the dangling threads from "Tears of the Prophets": What is Sisko up to, how is the Dax symbiont doing and what is going on in the closed wormhole? Most importantly Sisko's prolonged stay on Earth makes sense after all, and the revelation that his mother was a Prophet retroactively explains many of the Prophet's foretellings and their recurring statement "The Sisko is of Bajor." The stabbing by a member of the Pah-wraith cult (that will only gain significance later in the season in "Covenant") and Sisko's second and last vision of Benny Russell are perhaps one attempt too many to keep him from finding the Orb. It is interesting though that the episode adds Dr. Wykoff aka Damar (played by Casey Biggs) to the mix of "real" DS9 characters that appear in Sisko's vision. Damar is becoming a more important character anyway, and his conflict with Weyoun from "Tears of the Prophets" is continued here in some sort of a small D-plot.
Regarding Worf's mission, I can understand too well how he and perhaps Martok would be determined on getting Jadzia's soul to Sto-vo-kor. But DS9 is always a bit too fond of motley crews that defy cultural boundaries as well as the dispositions of characters. Perhaps Julian is up to some nearly suicidal mission on a Klingon vessel, but neither the family father Miles nor the Ferengi bartender Quark would likely join such a quest. And Worf didn't exactly invite any of them, although he later admits that he is glad they are with him. Like on three previous occasions in the sixth season, the men around Jadzia still behave like adolescents in personal matters related to her, even now that she is dead.
Vic's and Worf's relationship appears a bit fabricated as well, but I think they don't really have one. Worf doesn't seek distraction in battle or in bloodthirsty Klingon rituals. He prefers to hang around in the holosuite, listen to Jadzia's favorite song and then do what we would expect him to do: trash the whole place. It may seem a bit silly that Vic complains about a demolished holographic casino that could be restored with a push of a button. But it is a logical consequence of letting Vic's program run as if it were the real world. Only Worf doesn't care and treats Vic as any hologram.
I like the new conflict (the "Cuba Crisis") with the Romulans that is being built up. In particular, I am pleased that a Romulan enters the scene who is conceded more than a few token lines. Unfortunately Senator Cretak will not become a series regular. Cretak's character and her relationship to Kira is built up in a quick yet quite skillful way. When Cretak first appears, she is a rather unattractive governess with an unpleasantly low voice, quite the contrary of Kira Nerys who doesn't seem to like the Romulan senator either. When the two meet again, Cretak is just trying a jumja stick, something very much opposed to her seemingly austere personality, which immediately creates sympathy with the character. Then again, Cretak adamantly demands the Bajoran blockade fleet to stand down. I only would have wished for her to appear in the end, giving her regards to Kira, which would have completed the cycle.
Speaking of new characters, I immediately liked Ezri. It was necessary to come up with a very different character than Jadzia because everything else would have been lame as well as it would have been implausible considering everything we know about the nature of the Trill. The unprepared young Trill who is obviously still struggling with her own multiple personality was a perfect choice.
Nitpicking: I wonder why Starfleet doesn't have superb cooling suits with tiny power packs for use in the desert, at least for an old man like Joseph Sisko. 
Remarkable dialogue: "Remember, what's his name, uh, Lieutenant Barclay?" - "Who can forget him?" - "Hm hm. Those holosuite programs of his, uh?" - "Three Musketeers." - "Geordi waving that sword around." (O'Brien and Worf). It is remarkable that Miles is not only spoiled by his time on DS9, calling the holodeck a "holosuite". He also remembers something that he couldn't possibly have seen himself in TNG: "Hollow Pursuits" (or does he vividly remember it because Counselor Troi was a bit too talkative?).
Remarkable quote: "Romulans. They're so predictably treacherous." (Weyoun), "Hi Jake." [looking up to him] "You seem taller. Or am I shorter?" (Ezri Dax)
Remarkable facts: Kira has been promoted to colonel two months prior to the episode. -- Ben Sisko is a rather skillful piano player. -- Joseph Sisko met Sarah on Jackson Square in New Orleans. He married her two months later, not knowing that she was possessed by a Bajoran Prophet. Two days after Ben's first birthday, Sarah left, apparently after regaining her own consciousness. She later worked as a holophotographer in Australia and died in a hovercraft accident.

Afterimage Stardate not given: Sisko expects Ezri to stay as the station's counselor, but the crew have difficulties to get accustomed to the new Dax host, and vice versa. While everyone gives her at least a warm welcome, Worf avoids Ezri, believing that to be friendly to her would dishonor his wife's memory. Sisko gives Ezri the task of helping Garak when he begins to have claustrophobic attacks. When her work seems to fail, she is about to resign from Starfleet, but she eventually finds out the true reason for Garak's claustrophobia, that he feels like he is betraying his people. After talking to Worf, Ezri decides to stay.

"Afterimage" does what needs to be done: to introduce Ezri to the station and to give everyone else some breathing time after the customary spectacular season opener. The episode does its job without any appreciable surprises and without being in any way imaginative though. Most notably, it is just too convenient that DS9 has Garak as the resident Jack-in-the-Box, a character full of complexes and secrets that occasionally resurface when we would least expect it. His claustrophobia played a role before in DS9: "In Purgatory's Shadow". And while he has been an outcast for varying reasons ever since the the Cardassians left Bajor, he has never been more estranged from his people than he is right now. So Garak's condition that he punishes himself with claustrophobia for being a traitor makes sense psychologically. Still, it is a rather lame story just to give Ezri something useful to do in her profession.
Rather than on the very plot, "Afterimage" draws on Ezri being uncomfortable with everything and everyone, and being in so many ways different than Jadzia. I really like that part of the episode and Nicole de Boer's portrayal. She credibly gets across Ezri's confusion, although I admit she may have been just unsure in her role. Still, at this point of the series, the question should be allowed whether Jadzia really needed to be replaced, especially considering that DS9 already has so many recurring characters most of whom are stronger than Ezri. On the other hand, it is fitting how Garak, the seemingly superior character, quickly notices that Ezri could just as well need a counselor and how both of them gradually gain self-confidence by just talking and listening. They are still an unlikely couple that I wouldn't expect to have any business besides counseling though. This is in contrast to the chemistry between Ezri and Julian, who seem to carry on just where Julian would have wished to with Jadzia six years ago. The totally irrational conduct of the jealous Worf and how O'Brien corrects him is just a minor aspect of the episode, but one that I enjoyed a lot.
Remarkable quotes: "It's a strange sensation... dying. No matter how many times it happens to you, you never get used to it." (Ezri, to Nerys), "You are not Jadzia. Jadzia died and went to Sto-vo-kor. I do not know you, nor do I wish to know you." (Worf, to Ezri), "Spare me your insipid psychobabble." (Garak, to Ezri), "Oh, not again." (Worf, when Miles enters with another bottle of alcohol)
Remarkable fact: Sisko mentions that "joined Trill aren't supposed to get involved with people who were married to their previous hosts." He refers to the taboo in "Rejoined". The way he says it, the law applies likewise to relationships of just one joined Trill with an alien.
Rating: 3

Take Me Out to the Holosuite Stardate not given: The Vulcan Captain Solok is an old rival of Sisko's who uses every opportunity to prove that Vulcans are superior to humans. He challenges Sisko by proposing a baseball game of his all-Vulcan crew, the "Logicians", against DS9 officers and residents, knowing that it would hurt Sisko to lose in his favorite sport against people who actually don't give a damn about it. Sisko gathers all his crew and friends. Although they give their best, the "Niners" eventually lose the match, winning just one strike, but not without the moral victory on their side as they believe.

No kidding: I was looking forward to seeing this episode again, although or just because I wondered whether it would still annoy me. Well, it did, even a bit more than I anticipated. Prior to watching it for the first time I was about as familiar with the game as the majority of Sisko's officers and the other station residents he recruits. I only knew that you have to hit a ball with a bat and then run like hell. As a little baseball lesson I enjoyed this show despite the lengthiness of some scenes, but that's about its only redeeming virtue.
Other than that, I find the course of the story, the characters and the general tone of the episode appalling, and there is not even a small B-plot providing some distraction. "Take Me Out to the Holosuite" is a showcase of human (and humanoid) bad spirit. Most notably Sisko, obsessed with his unfinished business with Solok, reiterates how he is determined to win the game every few minutes, and so do many of his combatants. But in the end they succumb. Despite all the twists in favor of the "Niners". And just when I hope that Sisko and his fellow crew members have learned a lesson, it is shown as a moral victory (a "manufactured triumph", as Sisko calls it himself) that the Deep Space 9 crew loses to the physically and mentally stronger Vulcans. It would have been a real moral victory if Sisko had not bugged his crew to participate in the scheme in the first place. He could have paid back the Vulcan in his own coin, who allegedly wrote five papers on once defeating Sisko in a wrestling match. But Sisko chooses to repeat his error. Had I been in Sisko's place I would have accused Solok of being what he is, an irrationally arrogant jerk and an insufferable racist whose stance should have no place in Starfleet. However, realism and rationalism would have only obstructed this episode. In reality you may play baseball or any other game to win. But most importantly you do it because it's fun, not to prove something. Not to beat your captain's nemesis. Not because everyone else is in the team too. Not to reaffirm your own racial prejudices. And not while you have lots of really important things to do, such as upgrading the systems on the ship of the evil Vulcans. If there is meant to be a subtle irony in the graveness of the baseball match, I clearly missed it.
Something else that bugged me is the paradox that the series first systematically destroys baseball, mentioning that the game is practically non-existent (DS9: "If Wishes Were Horses"), only to revive it vigorously by dedicating a whole episode to the former non-issue. I don't know, but as a baseball fan I would have been estranged, rather than delighted about this odd development.
On a more general note, sports movies are an American phenomenon that is widely unheard of in Europe. Forgive me, I may be mistaken, but I can't help the impression that films of this genre customarily relay a patriotic message like "We can beat them, we can accomplish anything if only we stay united", as a surrogate for war movies that have (fortunately) lost that function in more recent years. This Trek episode, despite its setting in the future, is no exception to the common trope. On one side we have a ragtag team of underdogs, but with a "good" motivation. On the other side there is a mean-spirited opponent who deserves to be beaten by all means.
This episode marks the beginning of a small series with "evil Vulcans" that will be continued later in the season and on Star Trek Enterprise. Solok is sleazy by human and by Vulcan standards. Agreed, my own call for diversity in alien races requires that not all of them can be nice guys. But the Vulcan captain and many of his annoyingly faceless crew act so little like the Vulcans we used to know, and so little as we would expect from Starfleet personnel of any race that they appear as extremely constructed. Even more so as they are on an all-Vulcan ship.
Finally, while I should be happy that for once everyone of the main cast as well as some infrequent characters such as Kasidy, Rom and Leeta appear in this episode, I hate how they are being wasted for their captain's anachronistic crusade.
Remarkable scenes: Kira watches through the door of the security office how Odo vociferously practices for his role as an umpire. The only really funny thing in the episode. -- It is the only time that we hear the supposed anthem of the United Federation of Planets at the baseball match.
Rating: 1

Chrysalis Stardate not given: Julian Bashir has been working on a procedure to free Sarina Douglas, one of his genetically enhanced friends, from her long cataleptic state. Jack, Lauren, Patrick, who know of his plan, appear on the station in disguise, accompanied by Sarina. With their help the surgery succeeds and Sarina blossoms; she begins to speak, sing and enjoy the world around her. She spends a lot of time with Bashir, and soon the Doctor falls in love with her, while Sarina only feels that she owes him everything. Knowing that they don't have the basis for a relationship, Sarina leaves the station.

This is one of the most predictable DS9 episodes, and not just because DS9: "Melora" had a very similar plot of Bashir falling in love with a patient. "Chrysalis" is full of cues, everything important that will happen is hinted at. In the beginning Bashir is so lonely, focusing on his scientific work, that we know it has to be an episode with him being romantically involved. After waking up from her seclusion Sarina is just so charming and so perfect that Bashir has to fall in love with her. When she returns to Jack and the others, who are just discussing how to avert the "Big Crunch", Sarina's friends are so nuts that it's almost a setback for her. But eventually it boils down to the old theme of a (customarily female) character, who experiences too much love. This is something Sarina can't cope with in a similar fashion as an "overload of the circuits" destroyed Rayna in TOS: "Requiem for Methuselah" as well as Lal in TNG: "The Offspring". Bashir has to leave Sarina alone for her well-being. And as if it were TNG, rather than DS9, this outcome reaffirms that Starfleet officers are foresighted and give up one-episode love interests at the slightest sign of trouble.
I may be a bit unfair though, because Sarina is definitely a special case. It is made quite plausible in "Chrysalis" that she needs time to get accustomed to her new life, time that not only Bashir but also she herself wouldn't take if she stayed on the station. While it fundamentally takes two, Bashir is the one to blame for Sarina's confusion though. He may be a brilliant mind with a passionate heart, but he does not manage to bring the two into balance. It's not the first time that he fails in a simple assessment of people and situations. Still, this time we may excuse him just like we do with everyone who perceives his love through rose-colored glasses.
I was only glad that Sarina doesn't collapse and doesn't eventually revert to her former state, which is the usual thing that happens to people who have been cured too early in an episode, to cite another very common cliché.
What is left to say is that I like the actors' performances in this episode. Faith C. Salie does a surprisingly good job portraying Sarina, a character that no one would have expected to have such a big role (or even to say anything). It probably helps that Jack, Lauren and Patrick are toned down a bit in order to pave the way for Sarina. Well, except for the "Big Crunch" discussion. But as absurdly premature their panic about a disaster to happen in sixty trillion years is, it puts their predictions about the Dominion War in "Statistical Probabilities" into perspective, because these may be just as flawed.
Remarkable dialogue: "The fact is that the universe is going to stop expanding and collapse in on itself. We've got to do something before it's too late." - "How much time do we have left?" - "Sixty trillion years, seventy at the most." - "Oh, no." - "Isn't Nog handsome?" (Jack, Patrick and Lauren)
Remarkable quote: "That's a stupid question." ("Admiral" Patrick's answer on just anything)
Remarkable background fact: Tim Ransom (Jack) ended up being dubbed when singing because he was found to be tone-deaf. And that's exactly what Lauren says to Jack in their musical exercise.
Rating: 3

Treachery, Faith and the Great River Stardate not given: Having expected a Cardassian defector, Odo is surprised to find Weyoun at the meeting point. After the previous Weyoun 5 had died, this Weyoun 6 was activated but exhibited too much of a conscience of his own. When Weyoun 6 was about to be replaced by still another clone, Weyoun 7, he decided to defect and reveal secrets of the Dominion to the Federation to end the killing. When their runabout is chased by Jem'Hadar who were not told that a Founder is aboard, Weyoun 6 sees no other solution than to commit suicide to prevent Odo from being killed, but not before revealing that a deadly disease is spreading among the Founders. Meanwhile on DS9, Nog shows O'Brien how to acquire spare parts and navigate the "Great Material Continuum".

This is a quite entertaining episode, and one that moves forward with the Dominion story arc. However, unlike a couple of years ago when I watched it for the first time, I find it sad how several of the characters stumble through the story, without being consistently developed. The suspenseful interaction of Weyoun 7 and Damar is still a highlight. I also like Odo's embarrassment about, well, everything. However, while Jeffrey Combs is successful in working out Weyoun 6, who is a different person than his predecessor and his successor, the new character is killed off too soon and does not have any further significance. O'Brien is just as grumpy as we may expect him to be in his situation but unusually passive as well. Nog, on the other hand, literally the Jack-of-all-trades here, gets on my nerves. I thought he had become more mature by now.
I stopped caring about the silly B-plot anyway after some time. I concede that in times of war trading goods may sometimes prove more successful than Federation bureaucracy. However, it has always bugged me how nearly everyone, and not even particularly the Ferengi who appreciate currency, is bartering instead of doing efficient business, and this time it is clearly overdone. So Nog "loans" Sisko's desk to a collector (does he happen to collect baseball cards too?) that would give him an induction modulator for the USS Musashi that would provide a phaser emitter to be traded for the urgently needed graviton stabilizer? Come on, that's ridiculous, even if we forgive Nog that he wastes so much time on negotiating all the deals! At latest when Martok is angry about his vanished bloodwine, the B-plot has become a farce that sacrifices credibility and wastes characters just for a few laughs.
I appreciate that "Treachery, Faith and the Great River" provides a half-way satisfying solution to a puzzle that has been bugging me. In DS9: "Improbable Cause" Odo meets an informant whose face remains invisible. But after being made such a big deal, the contact never shows up again. It could very well have been Gul Russol, the Cardassian officer in whose guise Weyoun 6 asks Odo to meet him.
Nitpicking: So one phaser blast from the indestructible Rio Grande (at warp, by the way) is enough to destroy a mighty Jem'Hadar warship - just because Weyoun knows a weak spot that Starfleet has never discovered in countless battles? Yeah right.
Remarkable quote: "I'm well aware the Vorta are all clones. But I'm not sure the universe is ready for two Weyouns." (Odo), "Clones. Keeping track of them is a full-time job." (Damar)
Remarkable scene: Weyoun 7 bemoans Weyoun 5, who died in a "transporter... accident", then spitefully looks over to Damar beside him.
Remarkable fact: The Vorta have a termination implant they are able to activate themselves, mainly intended for the case that they are captured. While we know well that Keevan wanted to live on in "Rocks and Shoals", Yelgrun did not use it either in "The Magnificent Ferengi".
Rating: 6

Once More Unto the Breach Stardate not given: Kor, the old Dahar Master, requests a command from Worf so he can die as a warrior. Martok, whose application to the Klingon military academy was once turned down by Kor, grudgingly accepts Kor as his third officer. Kor shows signs of senility during an attack on a Dominion planetary base. The younger Klingons tease him, and Worf removes him from the crew roster. When the small Klingon attack group of Birds-of-Prey is being pursued by a fleet of Jem'Hadar ships, Worf vows to stay behind with one ship and sacrifice himself to allow the rest of the Klingons to escape. Kor, however, knocks out Worf and beams over to the ship that is to distract the Jem'Hadar. He dies a glorious death in battle, thereby saving his comrades.

Klingon-centered shows have always been among the fans' favorites just because of the topic. This episode, however, leaves me a little bit disappointed. Sure, it was written in the first place as an appropriate farewell to a long-time Trek character. However, despite some custom tailoring for him, Kor essentially only joins the ranks of the Klingons who have to redeem themselves, a frequently recurring theme in TNG and in DS9 since Worf is part of the crew. Add a power struggle on the bridge, a glorious battle, bloodwine and singing, and it's your cookie-cutter Klingon episode. Well, John Colicos as Kor (he died in 2000, little more than a year after the air date) still makes this a special episode. But perhaps he could have been written off in a less conventional fashion.
The perhaps most interesting aspect about this episode is the social imbalance in the Klingon Empire. We always knew that there was the High Council on one hand and the common soldiers on the other hand. But most of the time our perspective used to be that of the noblemen such as Worf (even and especially at the times when he was an outcast). This changed with Martok's arrival, and it never became more obvious than it does now how hard it must be to rise in the ranks of the military and society, and that it depends on birth, rather than on individual skills. Although Martok's previous encounter with Kor lets the Klingon Empire appear like a village, I like how the character of Martok is further fleshed out just as much as the new insight into a genuinely flawed Klingon society. The generational conflict is the icing on the cake, as the old Darok sympathizes with Kor, while the two young female officers quickly turn their backs on the fallen icon. Perhaps this part is a little bit overdone though.
I'm not wasting many words on the childish B-plot, Quark's mix-up when he believes to hear that Ezri wants to resume her relationship with Worf. It could have easily been dropped altogether.
Nitpicking: Why is no one with Worf when he is going to beam over to his suicide command? And how is Worf going to cope with the fact that an old man disables him with a hypospray? Worf's survival is fabricated and should have been accomplished differently.
Remarkable quotes: "Savor the fruit of life, my young friends. It has a sweet taste when it is fresh from the vine. But don't live too long. The taste turns bitter - after a time." (Kor), "I've hated his name for almost thirty years. I've dreamt of the moment when I would finally see him stripped of his rank and title, when he'd suddenly find himself without a friend in the world, without the power of his birthright. I've had that moment now. And I took no joy from it." (Martok)
Rating: 6

The Siege of AR-558 Stardate not given: On a supply mission to AR-558 near the Chin'toka system Sisko beams down and finds only one third of the original Starfleet team alive. They are securing a Dominion communications array. He decides to stay with an away team as a reinforcement for the war-weary troops. On a reconnaissance mission to the Jem'Hadar camp, Nog is severely hurt, and Bashir has to amputate his leg. In the meantime, Ezri and engineer Kellin have found a way to disable Dominion anti-personnel mines that hide in subspace and use them against the Jem'Hadar. With most of them killed by the mines, Starfleet fights a fierce battle against the remaining Jem'Hadar and eventually wins, but takes heavy losses too.

The war episodes of DS9 are walking a fine line. It could come out as false heroism if key characters (and ships) always survive the fiercest battles with just a few scratches while everyone around is dying. Although Nog "only" loses a leg in the fight against faceless Jem'Hadar, this of all episodes is the probably most pitiless depiction of war in Star Trek. It is so much different than a "clean" space battle (such as in the preceding episode) or the customary two-minute phaser or bat'leth skirmish. Compare the final battle of "The Siege of AR-558" to that with the Klingon boarding party in "The Way of the Warrior", and it makes the latter look like a holosuite exercise, almost playful. The question is whether DS9 can be allowed so much realism all the time, and whether the fans want to see it. My personal opinion is that even though I always appreciate realism, I am not interested in seeing or listening to all the cruel minutiae of practical warfare. I find the violence in some war movies simply appalling at some point, and then I am no longer open to any statement in such a flick, be it supportive of or opposed to the fighting. Something like that on Star Trek would definitely become a turn-off after a while. So, in my view, one or two "dirty" episodes per season should be enough to remind us of the reality of a battle. And after "Nor the Battle to the Strong" gave us a taste of it, "The Siege of AR-558" arrives just at the line that shouldn't be crossed.
Once again Sisko is the character that viewers most likely identify themselves with. He does what needs to be done, while still caring about everyone of his people, as he reaffirms to Quark. At times he really cares as if he were Nog's father, which is not far off, considering how close the Ferengi has always been to his son. Nog, of course, experiences the greatest amount of character development, and this episode is only the beginning. The obstinate soldier who is embarrassed by his uncle's uneasiness in the beginning winds up as disabled and later disillusioned. I am glad that Aron Eisenberg as Nog, after a few assignments as mere comic relief, credibly gets across the change of his character. Although his presence is a bit contrived, it was a good idea to involve Quark, as someone who is totally opposed to any fighting (whether we call his stance cowardice, opportunism or peaceableness). Ezri, on the other hand, is another special case as a person who remembers being in battle before but with no idea how it is really like. Their antagonists in a friendly sense are the weary AR-558 crew, although they never consciously chose to be stuck in the cave for five months. While four of them each have several lines, I think they remain relatively passive in spite of everything, we observe them through the eyes of the fresh Starfleet crew and especially Quark's and Nog's.
In the end, all these different stances are blurred. In the end, there is no difference between right or wrong, but just one between dead or alive.
Remarkable quote: "Let me tell you something about Hew-mons, nephew. They're a wonderful, friendly people – as long as their bellies are full and their holosuites are working. But take away their creature comforts... deprive them of food, sleep, sonic showers... put their lives in jeopardy over an extended period of time... and those same friendly, intelligent, wonderful people will become as nasty and as violent as the most bloodthirsty Klingon. You don't believe me? Look at those faces, look at their eyes..." (Quark)
Remarkable scenes: We experience the fight of the Defiant against a Jem'Hadar fighter from Quark's perspective. When he arrives on the bridge, he only witnesses how the enemy ship is just being blown to pieces. -- Another noteworthy scene is when the cloaked mines pop up one by one, each of them looking menacing like a small Death Star. Scary. -- Later, when the crew waits for the Jem'Hadar to fall for the trap, Bashir replays a Vic Fontaine song. Bizarre.
Rating: 6

Covenant Stardate not given: Using a long-range transporter, Kira is kidnapped to Empok Nor where a community of Pah-wraith worshippers has settled, their charismatic leader being no one else but ex-Gul Dukat. He tries to convert Kira to have faith in the Pah-wraiths, but she is only disgusted. When it is discovered that the unborn child of his Bajoran follower Mika is half-Cardassian (with Dukat being the father, of course), Dukat claims that it is a miracle, but later attempts to kill Mika. Kira manages to escape from the room where she was locked up just in time to prevent the sect from committing suicide on Dukat's orders. Dukat himself, who never had the intention to die with them, escapes.

As absurd as "Covenant" appears as an individual episode, as logical it is in the series context. Dukat's two big goals are to rise to power again in some fashion, and to redeem himself in the eyes of the Bajorans. After he was insane enough to ally himself with the Pah-wraiths in DS9: "Tears of the Prophets", he can now accomplish both goals, even if his followers are just a tiny splinter group of Bajoran satanists. By kidnapping and converting his nemesis Kira Nerys of all Bajorans, however, he strives to perfect his victory, and prepare his final assault on Sisko. In Dukat's mindset it all makes sense.
One point of criticism is that Nerys remains much too passive most of the time. She has been abducted by the man she hates like no one else in the universe, and still she reasons with him like he were a respectable opponent. Agreed, she couldn't have done more than spit into Dukat's face to show him her contempt, and with active resistance she would have endangered the Bajoran families. I still would have expected her to be appropriately aggressive. In the end, Kira even tells Odo that she thinks Dukat has changed and may really believe in his divine mission, an impression that I don't share at all. He acts purely for his own benefit all through the episode. And for what it's worth he was convinced that he would become friends with the Bajoran people in general and with Nerys in particular long before he encountered the Pah-wraiths. Dukat is still the person he has been since the beginning of DS9, only somewhat crazier than Nerys used to know him. And by the way, Marc Alaimo's performance as the self-aggrandizing villain is very enjoyable once again.
In spite of everything, the story remains a bit bland until it arrives at an unexpected dramatic apogee - when Mika's new-born baby turns out to be a Bajoran-Cardassian hybrid. Unmistakably a quite mundane product of Dukat's libido, the child gains a mystical significance in his cult, and it manifests the mendacity that lies in it. Although the idea is simple in retrospect, it is a fantastic twist in an episode that would have wound up as mediocre without it. Dukat's attempted murder of Mika and his staged participation in the mass suicide are just the icing on the cake, although both actions fit the image of a fraudulent sect leader and I anticipated something like that. Everything else that happens is predictable, especially towards the end when Dukat's extreme hypocrisy is exposed.
One key question of the episode is how the Prophets could let all the suffering and dying of the Bajoran people happen. This sounds familiar, knowing that present-day human religions are being criticized in the same fashion. In order to maintain this analogy, we may neglect for a moment that the Prophets did actually help the Bajorans a couple of times, most notably in DS9: "By Inferno's Light", and that every time the Pah-wraiths turned up so far they hurt or killed someone. Anyway, upon Dukat's provocation Kira naturally defends her faith in the Prophets, saying they have an incomprehensible plan for her people. Sure, there is a good deal of complacency and perhaps naivety in this stance. Vedek Fala switched to the Pah-wraiths just because he was disappointed by the Prophets. Dukat, on the other hand, has just discovered the power of the Pah-wraiths for himself, after arguably believing in nothing supernatural for a long time. He as well as Fala claim that if the Prophets don't care for the Bajorans, then the Pah-wraiths do. Hence, they must be the right gods. This is an obvious double fallacy, and probably a blend of self-delusion and conscious deceit, with more of the latter in Dukat's case. Dukat is not unlike the sect leaders of our days, who are gathering a disillusioned crowd around them only to cheat them. I wouldn't totally exonerate "established religions". At least, if they exploit people, they don't do it so purposefully.
Remarkable quote: "Nerys, open your heart to me. We're bound together by destiny. You belong at my side." (Dukat)
Remarkable scene: After Kira has knocked over Dukat along with the bowl of poison pills, he is frantically looking for his personal harmless pill on the floor.
Rating: 4

It's Only a Paper Moon Stardate not given: Nog has a new biosynthetic leg, but he is just not the same person any longer. Although he would not have to, he is walking around with a cane. Nog eventually escapes the real world when he moves his quarters into the holographic world of Vic Fontaine. He even takes over the job of Vic's manager. It is finally Vic himself who, more than an average hologram, can convince Nog to leave the holodeck and face the challenge of the real world. Nog thanks Vic by letting his program run 26 hours a day.

We can notice it already at the beginning when he returns from the starbase: Nog has grown old. A cane that he wouldn't really need to walk is his new companion, the symbol of his disability. His posture is deplorable, his voice is languid. The episode doesn't take place immediately after the fight on AR-558 that cost him his leg. Nog has been in the hospital for three weeks, talking with counselors over and over, as he tells Ezri. For all I know about accident victims, the hardest time is not the intensive care but the convalescence, and if Ferengi are anything like humans, he still has a long way to go (no pun intended).
Naturally everyone is trying to cheer him up, but Nog is not amenable to small talk or fun, or to doing anything but hanging around. We wouldn't be worried if it were Worf, who is accustomed to grief. But in Nog's life this depressive mood is something unprecedented, something that he may not be able to cope with. The holosuite is Nog's logical place of choice. Here he can forget his disability, he can make the rules as he thinks and he has nothing to attend to (and if it's only his "duty" to talk to his friends).
Nog's escape from reality is reminiscent of Barclay's "second life" in TNG: "Hollow Pursuits", although Nog's motivation is not the same and the program he is running is of a quite different kind. Clearly the whole setting of the DS9 episode alludes to video game and internet addiction, even more than the TNG episode that was made at a time before either of it was even known. In retrospect, the criticism of Barclay's spare time activities is exaggerated in the context of the 24th century, seeing that many other Starfleet officers dedicate countless hours to all sorts of obsessive hobbies, from archeology to shuttle tinkering. Still, at its time the idea of Barclay's role playing and the trouble he got himself into was almost visionary.
In a meeting in the wardroom, especially called to discuss Nog's extended stay in the holosuite as it seems, nearly everyone reacts with astonishment and disapproval, similarly disproportionate (baseball anyone?) as it used to be in Barclay's case. Rom thinks that his son must be crazy. Only Ezri interjects that it might be a part of a therapy. In a failed attempt to put things into perspective everyone begins to tease Julian for his "ridiculous" holosuite programs. But Julian is not like Nog, as he has a real job and a real life. His programs are silly? So what? Julian can escape from the worlds he has created any time. Nog can't. But maybe he can learn to quit when it's enough, and maybe then the new experience would even help him. In the end they more or less agree to accept Nog in his new life for the time being, something they should have been doing all along, instead of simply condemning it.
The problem, however, is worse than we would have believed. The Nog in the holosuite is still the same broken person that he was outside. This becomes clear very soon when Jake and the Bajoran girl come to visit him. Ironically, when Nog gets into a brawl with Jake, Vic bans Nog from the club, thereby showing him that there are limits to anything he is doing, even in the holosuite. In other words, if Nog wants to become the club his reality, he can get it. This is the real turning point of the episode. Nog has recognized himself that he must change something, the start of the therapy that Ezri is hoping for. And how could he make better use of his situation than by bringing in his lobes for business to help Vic plan a new casino? And eventually he is ready to come to terms with his situation in the real world as well, even though it needs mild force by Vic, who abruptly ends the program. In the end Nog tells Vic he feels "older", and we can notice that this time he means to say "mature" and not "infirm".
I find this episode neither very exciting nor particularly revealing. But it is nicely developed and overall very realistic with its fast succession of achievements and setbacks. And I like how Vic takes an active role, to a greater extent than already in DS9: "His Way".
Remarkable quote: "Look kid, I don't know what's going to happen to you out there. All I can tell you is that you've got to play the cards life deals you. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. But at least you're in the game." (Vic)
Rating: 6

Prodigal Daughter Stardate not given: When he is secretly investigating the disappearance of a woman, Bilby's widow Morica, O'Brien's trace is lost in the colony of New Sydney. Ezri's mother, Yanas Tigan, as a businesswoman, has some influence in the colony. Ezri is uncomfortable with visiting her family, because Yanas exerts a dominating influence on everyone. However, Ezri's brothers, Janel who has a leading position in the company and in particular the shy and artistically skilled Norvo, are delighted to see her. O'Brien is found, and so is the body of Mrs. Bilby. She was on the payroll of the Tigan company because they owed a favor to the Orion Syndicate, but she soon became a problem when she raised her demands. It was Norvo, the underestimated brother who killed her, both to avoid trouble for the rest of his family and possibly in a bizarre attempt to gain recognition. Norvo is sentenced to three years in prison.

Ezri Dax has not exactly been among the most prolific characters of the season so far. Her being different than Dax was in the center of interest in "Afterimage" and spawned a couple of B-plots, but these usually referred to the combination of the Dax symbiont with the new Ezri host. We were told next to nothing about Ezri herself, about the person she used to be before she was joined. Prior to this episode we didn't even know her maiden name. The only clear idea is that she never was not a top-notch officer of the kind that the principal characters are usually composed of. That alone made Ezri a promising addition to the crew. It is quite satisfying that "Prodigal Daughter" consistently continues Ezri's so far sketchy characterization. It is only a letdown that it takes place in such a fabricated story.
At times the mix of characters and implications made me think I was watching a soap opera. Yanas Tigan, the overbearing mother, strives to have everyone and everything under her control. We have to concede she is usually kind to her children (as long as they don't question her authority) and she even shows a good deal of understanding for Ezri's confusion after being joined. Still Yanas appears as a rather unsympathetic person, a dominant mother that no one would want to be around with all the time. While Ezri took a chance and left her for Starfleet, her two brothers still hold out. The two couldn't be more different, one being a hard worker who readily earns his mother's respect, and the other one a sensitive artist who tries hard not to disappoint her too often. The roles are obvious from the very first moment we see either of them. I wouldn't call them cookie-cutter characters, as they are are written and portrayed nicely in spite of the premise. But in the context of the episode the characters must appear just as contrived as the whole story. 
The outcome that the underestimated genius winds up as a murderer and is proud of it may have been meant as a twist that provides the vigor otherwise missing in this dialogue-heavy episode. But in my view it is just a discriminating trope that rather belongs in second-rate murder mysteries than in Star Trek. Especially since it is the brother that Ezri used to be close to - as if it would really help develop Ezri's character to feel guilty and ashamed for Norvo. Well, Ezri keeps a certain "professional" distance throughout the episode, so much that it becomes a running joke among her family that she acts as their counselor, rather than just being a daughter and sister. There are rather few moments in which Ezri is really drawn in, most obviously in the end. But it still wouldn't have required turning her brother into a killer.
The involvement of the Orion Syndicate doesn't make everything more plausible. On the contrary, there is the incredible coincidence that the woman Miles O'Brien was seeking has been killed by his colleague's brother. It makes the Star Trek Universe look so small. Regarding O'Brien's role in the story, it looks like a logical consequence of his mission on Farius Prime in DS9: "Honor Among Thieves" that he is concerned about the welfare of Bilby's wife. However, this time he leaves the station without authorization, and for a woman who may not have deserved to be taken care of.
I liked the scenery of the Tigans' house and of the New Sydney colony. Yet, it adds to the overall unlikely scenario of the episode. We see a generic family from Earth's capitalist past in an only slightly alien guise, on a world that is ironically named for a highly praised Australian city but rather resembles 19th century Manchester.
Remarkable dialogue: [Julian hands her a PADD] "Where's your report?" - "Oh, it's in there. It's the one with Sisko's boot prints all over it." (Ezri and Julian)
Remarkable quote: "Last time I saw her was just after I was joined. She came to visit me on Trill and I was still a little... confused. When she walked into my room, I put on a big smile, looked her right in the eye and said: 'Hi mom, it's me, Curzon!'" (Ezri)
Rating: 2

The Emperor's New Cloak Stardate not given: Grand Nagus Zek is abducted to the Mirror Universe. Mirror Ezri tells Quark that the Alliance demands a cloaking device as ransom for the Zek. Together with Rom, he steals the cloaking generator from a Klingon ship. Upon their arrival on Terok Nor in the Mirror Universe they are captured by Terran rebels. Mirror Brunt frees them, but when they hand over the device to Mirror Worf, he orders them to be executed. Rom, however, has sabotaged the device, which allows the rebels to win and to free the Ferengi.

It may seem fitting that Ezri joins the ranks of the kinky Mirror Universe characters. Yet, it is getting tiresome how people from the Mirror Universe keep popping up on DS9 and are promptly mistaken for their counterparts of our universe. We can easily recognize several more customary patterns in all DS9 Mirror episodes. The lives of the barbarians on and around Terok Nor are entangled with those of the DS9 characters in a bizarre and incomprehensible way. The Mirror characters all seem to have an inferiority complex, and our "tidy" universe exerts a strange fascination on them. In spite of everything no one of them has a desire to permanently switch sides. Almost everyone winds up as treacherous, regardless of their allegiance in the Mirror Universe, or is killed before having that chance.
It is clear that at this point we can't honestly expect originality from the idea any longer, unless the Mirror Universe were completely rewritten to be self-sustaining and to exhibit the necessary diversity. "The Emperor's New Cloak" does just the contrary. It reaffirms every cliché and adds insult to injury. The Mirror Universe has been done to death, and this episode is the final nail in the coffin. From the premise to the minutiae this has been conceived as a mere fun episode that neglects to really involve the characters and does not even try to tell a credible story. Some of the jokes are quite funny (such as the cloaked cloaking device), some are absurd (such as Mirror Garak's indetermination to kill any of his prisoners who keep teasing him). Not even the lascivious Intendant, my long-time favorite Mirror character, could change my opinion.
Add to my frustration about lacking originality that, after Ishka's capture by the Dominion in DS9: "The Magnificent Ferengi", it is now Zek who is the hostage of the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance. And just like it was with Ishka, it is up to a motley crew of Ferengi to free the Nagus against all odds. Bringing four Ferengi of all regular characters to the Mirror Universe (well, Brunt always belonged there) is hardly a way to provide more profundity anyway.
A quite objectionable aspect of the episode is the lesbian leather fetish that is more openly displayed than in the previous DS9 Mirror Universe installments. This is actually not primarily an attempt to finally bring more sexual diversity to the screen. On the contrary, it is set in the disposable Mirror Universe and has no bearing on our world. We have to bear in mind that everyone in the Mirror Universe is an evil or shady pulp version of the corresponding "real" character. Having allegedly "abnormal" sexual behavior concentrated in a universe full of thugs is a very unfortunate correspondence. I would probably hate the Mirror Universe for being defamatory if I were gay, regardless of its undeniably playful nature.
Continuity: There is a clear continuity error already in the premise of the episode. Zek claims that he was taken prisoner by the Alliance because there is no cloaking device in the Mirror Universe, and Mirror Julian later confirms that. However, in DS9: "Through the Looking Glass" the Alliance was in possession of cloaking.
Remarkable quote: "Hey! You're supposed to be the good guys! [Mirror Bashir points the phaser at him] My mistake." (Rom)

Remarkable scene: Quark and Rom are carrying a cloaked cloaking device. Hilarious!
Remarkable fact: Vic Fontaine is a real human being in the Mirror Universe - and is promptly killed.
Remarkable background fact: The episode includes a commemoration of Jerome Bixby ahead of the teaser. The writer of TOS: "Mirror, Mirror", the first ever Mirror Universe episode, died on April 28, 1998.
Rating: 1

Field of Fire Stardate not given: Starfleet officers are murdered aboard DS9, obviously with a TR-116, a projectile weapon modified with a built-in transporter. Ezri, who had just left Lt. Ilario's quarter before he was killed, consults Joran, a violent former Dax host, to understand what the assassin thinks. She discovers that the victims had in common that they all had photos of laughing people in their quarters. When she accidentally meets the Vulcan Chu'lak in the turbolift, Joran knows that he must be the culprit - the Vulcan, as someone who is used to suppress his emotions, was offended by the hilarity. In a remote duel with TR-116 rifles, Ezri is a bit faster and hurts Chu'lak so he can be apprehended.

The series of episodes with Ezri Dax in the focus continues. "Field of Fire" is undoubtedly her strongest appearance so far, and not just because she is holding a gun. Ezri takes an active role solving the case of the series murder (not to forget Joran though, who is a normally suppressed part of Dax). After being thrown into stories that overextended her abilities a few times, she now grows with her task. 
With so little time left until the series finale, it was about time to revisit the suppressed "evil" host Joran from DS9: "Equilibrium". And this is done skillfully for the most part. While talking to Bashir about this part of Dax, Ezri virtually evokes Joran, who soon manifests himself in her mind. And this is when aspects from another early DS9 episode come into play. Ezri performs a variant of the zhian'tara ritual from DS9: "Facets" to allow Joran to resurface permanently. In the original zhian'tara it was necessary to find other people to host the consciousnesses of various previous hosts, which were telepathically transferred to them. I was never fond of this supernatural ability of the Trill, which puts them on par with the Vulcan katra transfer and above any species that is "only" telepathic, such as the Betazoids. The separation of a certain part of the personality in the mind is a far more credible and less outlandish procedure. I only wonder why the Trills and their friends would normally go through the pain and danger of the ritual in "Facets".
I'm not sure whether Joran as a character that seems to be physically present all the time is rather inspiring or distracting. At least, it makes more sense to see him act than on occasions where human characters were talking to themselves in a similar fashion. Still, at times Joran appears much more real than just a voice in Ezri's head, as if he perceives the environment with his own senses. I feel a bit cheated by his visualization.
I like the idea of the episode a lot. A gun that fires through walls must have been the dream of all professional killers for centuries. Murder mysteries are rather rare in Star Trek anyway, and this one is clearly among the best. The highest praise, however, goes to execution of the episode. The targeting scanner that wanders through the station is impressively visualized. And the remote duel, in which Ezri and Chu'lak, the evil Vulcan, target one another, is the most thrilling thing in the series for a while. Seeing it again after a couple of years have passed, I notice that, plot-wise and visually, "Field of Fire" is as much a DS9 episode as it is a crime drama in the tradition of "Profiler" and "CSI" (it predates the latter though). I also like the eerie score in Ezri's nightmare.
One grave impropriety casts a shadow on the episode. It lies in Dax' conclusion "A killer who hates laughter, who hates emotion - a Vulcan". This ought to have turned out a racist fallacy but was unfortunately confirmed in the following. After "Take Me Out to the Holosuite" it is the second time in this season that Vulcans are unjustly being decried. Sure, both cases are meant to be exceptions from the rule of usually nice people who just don't smile. It isn't such a big deal this time, as it happens in a good episode. But aside from the lacking impartiality it doesn't even make sense to suspect Vulcans of all species. Since Ezri and Joran are after someone who has to be insane irrespective of the species, he or she would not have to be in any way typical of his or her species. A traumatized human being with an according predisposition could have been the murderer just as well.
On a side note, while the episode is otherwise pleasantly free of usual storytelling clichés, it is just too obvious that Ilario has to die after being invited to talk to the senior officers in the beginning. This ploy of calling attention to redshirts only to kill them off hasn't changed much since Kirk's days.
Remarkable scene: Although I admit his involvement appears as a bit awkward, I like how Worf, at long last, approaches Dax to compliment and encourage her.
Rating: 6

Chimera Stardate not given: Odo and O'Brien are returning from a conference when their runabout is boarded by a Changeling. Laas, like Odo, is one of the one hundred infants who were sent out as explorers by the Founders, and he has never met one of his kind before. Laas despises humanoids; he is disgusted by Odo's relationship to Kira, and he urges Odo to come with him to find the other explorers and form a new Great Link. Laas is arrested after killing a Klingon, but Kira releases him when she recognizes that it would make Odo happy to join him. Odo, however, returns to Kira.

Odo has solved the mystery of his origin and has become acquainted with the hostile Founders as well as with an infant Changeling (DS9: "The Begotten"). However, he has never met anyone of his kind with experiences comparable to his own, someone he could befriend. Laas' appearance is the missing step in Odo's quest. Yet, already in the first few minutes it becomes apparent that Laas is a very different person than Odo. Their liquid nature is about the only thing the two have in common, and it is just the curiosity and perhaps the pleasure of linking why Odo is drawn to him. We have seen several times how aliens such as Spock or Worf were tempted to leave Starfleet to stay with their own kind or to experience something bigger than a humanoid life. In this regard "Chimera" is not a very interesting episode. Moreover, with so little motivation, I think Odo is never likely to join Laas, not even when the constant agitation by the other Changeling impairs his judgment, so much that Kira even encourages him to go.
Laas comes across as an exceptionally conceited person. He thinks that his superior abilities and his long-time experience with humanoids (100 years compared to Odo's 30 years) entitle him to make predictions and decisions about Odo's future - although he knows absolutely nothing about Changelings other than himself. He is not just incommunicative, but openly condescending when talking to humanoids. We know this attitude from Q and the likes, but unlike other "superior" lifeforms Laas takes offense by the way humanoids (have to) live their lives. He does not stand above it, ultimately proving that he is by no means better. His attitude can be seen as the archetype of what made the Founders form the Dominion to turn the tables on the "Solids". Laas' more or less conscious intonation with unusual pauses is supposed to add weight to his notions. Well, perhaps he is just not not used to verbal communication any longer, letting it appear it accordingly clumsy.
After Laas' repeated but merely verbal defiance has become a bit boring, I am glad for the action when he annoys the people on the Promenade by morphing into fog and then kills one infuriated Klingon. This entails an interesting legal discussion, in the course of which Odo defends Laas who did it in self-defense in his view, while Worf objects that Laas' life was not really threatened by a knife attack. It is turned into a debate on the principle what a Changeling is allowed to do under laws made for humanoids, a question that has never been asked before, owing to Odo's conformance and the mutual trust between him and the "Solids" around him. It becomes obvious that Odo is wrong with his stance that Laas should do what he pleases to do. Odo acts in the tradition of many other Trek characters who always vehemently defended those who didn't have the law on their side, such as Data protected the exocomps in TNG: "The Quality of Life". But doesn't he actually demand more rights for Changelings than for Solids? Does Laas of all Changelings deserve such exceptions?
I think the René Echevarria went over the top with Laas' abilities to morph into a warp-capable lifeform and to penetrate solid walls. When Odo is amazing but still half-way plausible, Laas appears as miraculous. It wouldn't have been necessary to tell the story.
On a side note, by limited humanoid standards, Odo's linking with Laas comes across as somewhat gay, although Kira may have a more general feeling of jealousy. In this regard it is also interesting that Odo refuses to link with Laas on the Promenade. He may have more reasons than just being embarrassed by doing it in the public but that is what he says. Moreover, Quark tells Odo: "Watch your step, Odo. We're at war with your people. This is not the right time for a 'Changeling Pride' demonstration on the Promenade."
Remarkable facts: Laas calls himself a "metamorph" and refers to humanoids as "monoforms". - Laas corroborates the notion that all Changelings, regardless of their upbringing, have difficulties in mimicking human faces. For some reason this must be harder than going to warp...
Remarkable dialogue: "What is he like?" - "He's... complicated." - "Like you." (Kira and Odo)
Remarkable quote: "Don't you get it, Odo. We humanoids are a product of millions of years of evolution. Our ancestors learned the hard way that what you don't know might kill you. They wouldn't have survived if they hadn't jumped back when they encountered a snake coiled in the muck. And now, millions of years later, that instinct is still there. It's genetic." (Quark)
Remarkable scene: In the end Odo morphs into some kind of plasma and envelops Kira. He thereby tries to make up for the deficiency that he could link with Laas and share an intimacy with that unpleasant person, which remains unattainable for Kira.
Remarkable background fact: Laas is portrayed by J.G. Hertzler (credited as Garman Hertzler), who also plays Martok. I would have never recognized him here without reading the episode credits.
Rating: 4

Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang Stardate not given: The Las Vegas holosuite is taken over by the mobster Frankie Eyes who lays off Vic. Since it would erase Vic's memory if the parameters were reset, Vic's friends from the real world decide to solve the problem by removing Frankie Eyes from within the holosuite. They devise a plan to rob Frankie's safe so that he can't pay his boss, Mr. Zeemo. While Kira, Sisko and other DS9 officers distract Frankie, Nog opens the safe just before Zeemo's arrival. When Zeemo discovers the empty safe, he fires Frankie Eyes - forever.

Vic Fontaine clearly has much more potential than your usual holographic character. Still, he remains confined to his world of Las Vegas, and he is not involved in the operation of the station other than giving the "real" characters occasional advice. I liked how Vic's role was extended at least quantitatively in DS9: "His Way" and "It's Only a Paper Moon", but he remained the witty Las Vegas night club singer that he was always meant to be. The writers never developed Vic the way it was done with Voyager's Doctor, who was struggling for acceptance all the time, who frequently had arguments with the crew, who occasionally saved the ship, who discovered love and various other interests unrelated to his profession and who had to learn the hard way what real life was or would be like. Sure, there is no time left in DS9 to go and try something similar with Vic. But I find it a bit odd that a whole episode is dedicated to saving Vic's program, and that everyone except for Worf is so much committed to helping him. Would anyone of the Voyager crew have done the same for the Doctor in the second season? As far as taking efforts to preserve a hologram instead of simply wiping its memory is concerned, "Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang" is like a light-hearted version of VOY: "The Swarm". It is entertaining, although its tone is still overall rather serious. Vic credibly appears as if he has been physically harmed, and indeed, this does allow for some limited character development, although he doesn't even have too many lines in his own story. Anyway, in the end the success of having saved Vic turns out to be more valuable than morally defeating the evil Vulcans, albeit these were real people, in "Take Me Out to the Holosuite".
Regarding the very story of the caper, I find it quite thrilling. It is nicely set up as a homage to the original "Ocean's Eleven" and other movies of the period. It is also presented in the same fashion, such as with voice-overs when the planned heist is being visualized the way it would work perfectly. I think it may have been more interesting for me to watch this episode if I had caught the various in-jokes. Yet, aside from a certain lack of relevance in the episode, at some point even the most open-minded alien must grow tired of American local color of the 1960s. It is intended to be a very diverse space station of the 24th century, and the increasing number of tie-ins from 20th century USA have become distracting of late. So as much as I like Vic, after this episode the motto can only be to move on with the story arc and visit his program just for what it was made, for entertainment.
One more thing I like is how Sisko provides a different perspective: "And you're telling me that virtually my entire senior staff is part of this nonsense." On the one hand, it is ironical to hear this from the man who recruited exactly this staff for his personal nonsensical vendetta. On the other hand, with his remarks on racial discrimination in the real Las Vegas Sisko exposes the hypocrisy that lies in a program that wrongly glorifies history (in a similar fashion as Hollywood's German villain cliché). His criticism may be disproportionate, and he changes his mind rather quickly, but it still has an impact.
Nitpicking: Why does the program change so abruptly when Frankie Eyes appears? I would hate to be in a holosuite program with built-in discontinuity. And speaking of continuity, even if Frankie Eyes is built into the program and can't be deleted, why isn't it even possible to freeze the program? It's not quite the silliest holodeck failure of Star Trek, but one of the least inspired that writers have come up with. The ploy that Vic would be erased if he gets killed doesn't exactly make it better, although he may be just programmed this way.
Remarkable dialogue: "So, where are you from again?" - "Bajor." - "That's in Jersey, right?" - "Right." (Tony Cicci and Odo)
Remarkable appearances: The distinctive faces of Frankie Eyes (Robert Miano), Carl Zeemo (Marc Lawrence, I wonder whether he may be the oldest actor ever to appear on Star Trek) and Tony Cicci (Mike Starr) are so wonderfully anachronistic in the series that is otherwise not particularly prone to typecasting.
Remarkable music: The score includes a 1960s style DS9 theme music at a few points in the episode. -- In the end, Vic and Sisko sing "The Best is Yet to Come", alluding to the upcoming final chapter of DS9.
Rating: 5

Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges Stardate not given: Just before he is leaving for a conference on Romulus, Bashir is visited by Sloan who wants him to gather data on Romulus for Section 31. Sisko recommends that Bashir should take over the task, and if only to gather information about Section 31. On their way to Romulus, Sloan tells Bashir that he is to examine Koval of the Tal Shiar who may suffer from the Tuvan syndrome. Bashir, however, suspects that Section 31 may use the information about the illness to kill Koval, a declared opponent of the Federation. When Admiral Ross suffers an aneurysm, Bashir sees no other chance than to consult Romulan Senator Cretak, who then tries to get access to Koval's files to find a possible traitor in the Romulan Senate. Bashir is arrested and, after an unsuccessful attempt to scan his brain, finds himself in a Romulan courtroom, together with Cretak and Sloan as the other defendants. Sloan denies that Section 31 even exists but claims that he wanted to kill Koval for personal revenge. When Sloan tries to escape, he is seemingly vaporized by a disruptor, but actually he is beamed up secretly. The whole affair was a hoax devised by Sloan and supported by Ross to discredit Cretak and get Koval, who is a secret supporter of the Romulan-Federation alliance, into a better position.

"Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges" is a mostly skillfully arranged spy story. Everyone's roles appear to be clear in the beginning but are gradually switched as the story unfolds in all its complexity. Not every plot twist makes perfect sense though. The most evident weakness is that the plan to get Koval on the Romulan committee to covertly support the Federation was already in theory incredibly close to destroy what it was meant to boost. No one could anticipate that the Praetor or the committee members wouldn't immediately terminate their alliance with the UFP upon the discovery of Sloan's alleged plan to kill Koval. Except for this fundamental problem everything else can be explained away because the viewer doesn't know by far as much as the characters, not even as little as Bashir from whose perspective the story is told.
I like how this episode focuses on Bashir of all DS9 characters. I don't remember him playing such a significant role in the past two seasons except for DS9: "Inquisition" when Sloan wanted to recruit the doctor for Section 31. I am so glad that Section 31 didn't remain a one-time troublemaking concept like the "essentialists" from "Let He Who Is Without Sin...". And I am glad that Sloan is back, even more mysterious and sinister than he was the first time he appeared.
Although we haven't seen him in a while, Admiral Ross is the only other DS9 regular besides Bashir who has a major part in the story. I must admit that up to this episode, his character has not received very much attention. We only know that he remains composed where Sisko would be enraged, and that he is fond of earning the trust of his subordinates, rather than simply relying on his authority. This episode is the first time we see Admiral Ross act against his own conviction and to put political interests above everything else. Moreover, he has to order Bashir to do the same, after the doctor has been tortured and has unwittingly helped to disgrace Cretak. Ross and Bashir have a loud argument, but I don't think they disagree about it as much as it seems. Ross is simply the superior officer. He has the responsibility, whereas Bashir has been simply tricked. Ross may be left with the same kind of qualms as Sisko in "In the Pale Moonlight". This episode is not quite as dark as the latter though, but only because (hopefully) no one has to die here. Otherwise the plot to deceive the Romulans is similar.
One real letdown about this episode is Senator Cretak. Considering that she plays a sympathetic role as a Romulan friend of the Federation and is betrayed in the end in favor of a more useful political constellation, she ought to have been more thoroughly introduced prior to this episode. But Cretak has never appeared again since DS9: "Shadows and Symbols". On the top of all that, owing to the new actress the character has become overall more attractive and charming, not at all like the person who faced Kira in the "Cuba Crisis" on the Bajoran moon.
Remarkable dialogue: "Very enlightening. You almost made it comprehensible." - "Next time I will do the lecture with hand puppets, just for you." (Sloan and Bashir)
Remarkable quotes: "Ah, yes, Romulus. How well I remember it. You'll find the predominant color to be gray. The buildings, the clothes, the people. Uhm, did you know that the Romulan heart itself is gray? It's true, and altogether appropriate for such an unimaginative race." (Garak, to Bashir), "Somehow it wouldn't surprise me if half the people in this room were operatives." (Senator Cretak, at the banquet on Romulus)
Remarkable character: Neral from TNG: "Unification" is now the Praetor of the Romulan Empire.
Remarkable ship: By making the Bellerophon an Intrepid-class ship, the episode could benefit from the existing sets of Star Trek Voyager (something that the producers were purportedly reluctant to do because viewers might think this was indeed Captain Janeway's ship).
Remarkable mishap: Ross mispronounces the "Enim" of the episode title ("In time of war, the laws fall silent", Cicero) as "I-nim".
Rating: 8

Penumbra Stardate 52576.2: Worf is reported missing in action after the Klingon ship he was commanding was destroyed by the Jem'Hadar. Ezri, determined to find him, sets out alone in a runabout. She finds Worf in the Badlands, but their runabout is attacked by the Jem'Hadar, and they have to beam down to a planet. After a few days on the planet, they don't manage to suppress their feelings for each other any longer, but they are soon interrupted by the Breen who capture them. Sisko and Kasidy are preparing for their wedding, although Sisko has a vision in which the Prophets do not approve of it. In the Dominion headquarters, the female Founder shows signs of a serious disease that makes it hard for her to maintain her shape. Damar is surprised when he sees that Dukat has been surgically altered to appear as a Bajoran.

The Final Chapter starts with the perhaps most peaceful moment of the season. Benjamin Sisko is unusually soft-spoken when he reveals to Kasidy his plans to settle down on Bajor and then contemplates the role that the planet and its people have gained in his life. The scene foreshadows that Sisko's mission and most likely everyone else's will come to a conclusion. And while there is the prospect that Sisko may indeed marry Kasidy and eventually come to rest on Bajor, in DS9 not everything winds up the way we expect or hope. At this point of the series a defeat of the Federation against the Dominion is not out of the question, and it is not clear either whether all the characters will survive the war. We may or may not take the Prophets at their word when they disapprove of the marriage. If anything, Sisko's intention to find peace and quiet is just the ideal case, and perhaps one that won't come true.
I have a problem with the other relationship featured in the episode. Where does Ezri's sudden urge to rescue Worf come from? Even if she were more qualified for the task, she doesn't really owe him more than the other senior officers. Sure, he was Jadzia's husband, and clearly she is worried about him. But the two hadn't been talking at all, at least not that we would know of, until Worf finally came round in "Field of Fire". Even if we presuppose that Ezri is not struggling with her new life any longer and that Worf has ended his mourning, there is so much that divides the two: Trill tradition, Klingon tradition, completely different views of life and, last but not least, physically quite a couple of centimeters and kilograms. There are people to whom Worf is closer, most notably Martok and O'Brien. So why does it have to be Ezri, and why all alone? Least of all Worf understands it. I think their brief affair is made up out of thin air, and it will end just as abruptly in the next episode. The scene when Ezri enters Worf's quarters, looks around and remembers parts of Jadzia's life with Worf is nicely done. It may have been intended to illustrate Ezri's hidden affection for Worf, but in my view it rather shows that Ezri gets trapped in her former life, in Jadzia's life. It continues with Ezri talking like Jadzia all the time on the runabout with Worf. Finally even Worf treats her like the former Dax host, and Ezri succumbs to her sexual desire like Jadzia in "Looking for par'Mach in all the Wrong Places". It's like the character development to make Ezri a different person than Jadzia has been completely reverted. I think it is counter-productive to force her still fresh character on such an unlikely detour. It is also strange that Sisko puts up so easily with Ezri's irrational decision to take the runabout into the Badlands as if she were still Jadzia Dax.
Damar's and Weyoun's appearances and their little mutual provocations in the Dominion headquarters have become a bit formulaic of late, so I am glad that their conflict is further escalated. It is just too obvious that their permanent quibbling was the ostensible expression of fundamental discrepancies, and not restricted to different views on military operations. Damar likes kanar and hookers, while Weyoun has been conditioned to be completely satisfied with serving the Founders. But that is only the tip of the iceberg. Damar has never been a fan of the Dominion to start with, even much less than Dukat. He is too much of a patriot to accept that Cardassian soldiers are being used as cannon fodder for the cause of the Dominion. It appears very likely that Damar's role is not only being extended but that he is even bound to switch sides at some point. And as someone with common sense, as opposed to Dukat, he will more likely have an active part in the resolution of the conflict. It is interesting how this episode takes a further step to rehabilitate the murderer of Tora Ziyal, just by making us understand him.
Although I didn't like the Ezri/Worf part at all and the other plot threads didn't quite make up for it, its ending with Dukat gone totally nuts made me want to see more of the Final Chapter. Hence my rating is rather lenient.
Remarkable dialogue: "Personally I don't know what Jadzia ever saw in the man." - "Well, his brains." (Julian and Miles about Capt. Boday)
Remarkable fact: Dax mentions to Miles and Julian that Captain Boday is on the station, the Gallamite captain with the transparent skull that Jadzia dated (DS9: "Let He Who Is Without Sin..."). Worf is still jealous of him, and Ezri admits that Jadzia slept with him.
Remarkable ship: first appearance of the asymmetrical Breen vessel
Rating: 6

'Til Death Do Us Part Stardate not given: Sisko is uncertain whether he should heed the warnings of the Prophets or follow his heart. Although he has still another vision in which the Prophets want to talk him out of it, he finally decides to let the wedding with Kasidy take place. In a small ceremony on Deep Space 9, Admiral Ross pronounces them husband and wife. Kai Winn, after many years, seemingly has her first vision of the Prophets who tell her that a "guide" will help her in the "restoration" of Bajor. This guide appears in the form of Dukat who now calls himself "Anjohl" and claims to be a Bajoran farmer. Aboard the Breen ship, Ezri inadvertently confesses to Worf that she loves Julian. They do not know why they are held captive until they learn that the Breen are now allies of the Dominion, and Ezri and Worf are a gift for Weyoun.

There are three major plot threads in this episode. One is perfect, one is great and one I would like to forget about. However, even the latter, obviously the Ezri-Worf relationship, is firmly embedded into more relevant events, so I'm once again generous with my judgment.
When Kai Winn visits Sisko in his office, he speaks remarkably openly of his recent vision of the Prophets, and Kai Winn mentions in a side note that they have never spoken directly to her. It is an interesting turning point that only a few moments later Kai Winn finally has her first encounter with the Prophets - or so she believes. She has probably been trying hard to get in touch with them for all her life. She must have been witnessing with a certain jealousy how people who don't have much business with Bajoran religion, most notably the Emissary, enjoyed that privilege. And now they speak to her after all and give her an important task, the "restoration". When Dukat later comes to her in the disguise of the simple farmer Anjohl, part of the prophecy seems to be fulfilled. I just love how the two form the perhaps oddest couple in Star Trek's history. It is so wonderfully sick how well Dukat knows to exploit her weaknesses, how he is giving her unmistakable cues such as the "restoration of the soil", how he tells her exactly what she would like to hear about the Emissary and the Cardassians, how he even makes up a fairy-tale about Anjohl in which Dukat is the villain and Winn saved his life. I almost feel sorry for her.
Regarding the marriage, in "Penumbra" it was my impression that for once Sisko would not consider to heed the Prophets' advice and that he would marry Kasidy regardless. Now he tells Kasidy that he would like to call off the wedding for now. That's already bad enough. His justification is that he can't act against the Prophets, including his mother for that matter. And that is the worst thing he could possibly say. This must sound as if he prefers them over Kasidy. Well, the prophecies always come true in some fashion and she is up to a lot of grief, even though Kasidy may not believe in the Prophets. Still, she has every right to be angry with Sisko (as well as with the Prophets who more or less cause all the trouble in the first place). I am glad that Sisko eventually changes his mind in spite of everything. Because human beings need to live their lives, and not follow the path that their parents or even some supernatural beings have predetermined for them. In this regard it is an act of emancipation that Sisko chooses a hasty secular marriage and not the Bajoran ceremony that everyone would have expected from him.
So now it is Julian after all. After the failure to show a credible love affair of Ezri with Worf in "Penumbra", this episode adds insult to injury. She recognizes out of the blue that Dr. Bashir would be the right man for her. The first time is in a dream, which is fortunately not visualized, that a Breen turns out to be the good doctor, and she tries hard to analyze it. And once again, when she has just been tortured, she is understandably confused and confesses to Worf her love - for Julian. I haven't seen anything so artificial in the series in quite a while, unless this was meant to be some sort of parody of a soap opera. When I first watched the episode I somehow wished Ezri would trip into a pit or be otherwise silenced until the series finale. However, unfortunately we are in a Star Trek series where romantic relationships are customarily forged in the final episodes of the final season. It was the same with Deanna and Worf on TNG, and will be repeated with Seven and Chakotay on Voyager. Irrespective of Ezri's all too sudden insight it was clear that the two would be the perfect couple from the first time they met - at least from a real-world viewpoint (the rules of TV series are different, see "Penumbra") there was perfect harmony each of the few times they have been talking so far. Well, perhaps it is time for me to eventually forgive her being so erratic. Several days in a Breen prison cell with Worf can become quite dreary, and I don't want to imagine what their torture methods are like.
Remarkable dialogue: "Isn't that strange? I wonder what it meant." - "Dr. Bashir is a Breen. " - "Very funny." (Ezri and Worf, about her dream)
Remarkable fact: Admiral Ross' speech at the wedding is based on Picard's in TNG: "Data's Day" and Kirk's in TOS: "Balance of Terror".
Rating: 7

Strange Bedfellows Stardate not given: Kai Winn is horrified when she learns that her visions are actually not from the Prophets, but from the despised Pah-wraiths. She seeks the advice of Kira Nerys who tells her that now would be the time to resign, but Winn decides to follow the way of the Pah-wraiths. Damar is upset when he learns that Cardassia will lose some of its territory to the Breen. He is anything but sad that Worf kills Weyoun 7 when he insults the Klingon, whereupon Worf and Ezri are due for execution. Damar's grudge against the Dominion becomes even worse when Weyoun 8 does nothing to support the Cardassian troops on Septimus III, resulting in the loss of 500,000 lives. Damar frees Worf and Ezri, telling them that he is now an ally of the Federation.

"Strange Bedfellows" - The episode title alludes to the strange alliances of Winn Adami with Dukat and the Pah-wraiths and of the Dominion with the Breen. It rather doesn't refer to the just married couple Ben Sisko and Kasidy Yates. Yet, when Martok is talking to Sisko at the beginning of the episode, the Klingon speaks of his own marriage as a war, and as one that his wife Lady Sirella will eventually win. At this time Sisko can probably make as little sense of these words as I could. He just smiles. When Kasidy later returns from a freighter run, she tells Ben how uncomfortable she feels about her Bajoran crew who are starting to ask her advice - because she happens to be the Emissary's wife. And now Ben is insensitive and adds fuel to the flames when he more or less expects Kasidy to perform a Bajoran ceremony. Kasidy declines, saying that she is not a convert, and now Sisko thinks he understands what Martok told him. But in my view he started that "war" himself, by unnecessarily raising the bar for his wife instead of just accepting that there are things the two do not need to have in common. Martok's and Kasidy's appearances, just like O'Brien's and Bashir's visit to Quark's bar, are perhaps a bit distracting considering the much bigger events that are taking shape but also help the episode to loosen a bit.
Damar's remarkable character development continues. Just after the first surprising encounter with the new allies, the Breen, the leader of the Cardassian Union is forced to sign a treaty that includes territorial cessions to them, without even knowing their extent. It has never been more obvious that Damar, like the whole Cardassian Union, is just a puppet of the Dominion. The ploy is very similar to the mutual territorial changes that the satellite states of Napoleonic France, of Nazi Germany and of the Soviet Union had to agree with. The Dominion's contempt for their own Cardassian allies isn't exaggerated. In this consideration Damar and the Cardassians appear almost as victims, rather than being collaborators.
Worf's and Ezri's quarreling is toned down in this episode, and it comes to a conclusion. Interestingly, while Ezri still defends Jadzia's easy-going life, she does not speak like Jadzia any longer in the face of her imprisonment and execution. It looks like the actual Ezri is back, once that she knows what she wants (or would have wanted) to do in her life. In this regard it is wonderfully ironical that Worf kills Weyoun just after the Vorta makes a remark about Ezri being executed before Dr. Bashir would know about her feelings for him.
I must admit that I rejoiced when Worf broke Weyoun's neck and how openly delighted Damar was about the death of his nemesis. Actually, when I first watched it I suspected that Damar would switch sides at this very moment. But he just orders the guard to stand down instead of shooting Worf. Well, it is obvious that the final decision has just been adjourned. The lacking support for the Cardassians on Septimus III is the final nail in the coffin. Damar values the lives of the soldiers above everything, and even if this is restricted to Cardassian lives, it makes him even more sympathetic.
It was necessary to let Kai Winn know already now that her vision was not of the Prophets but of the Pah-wraiths, and I like very much how it was done with Dukat/Anjohl seemingly remaining passive. Not unlike the religious leaders in Earth's past, Winn always knew to draw a clear line between mundane and clerical affairs. She must have been hoping that her unbowed devoutness would redeem her in the eyes of the Prophets. But now the "evil" Pah-wraiths start talking to her, whereas the Prophets seem to forsake her. In her eyes she is being assigned a new position in Bajor's religion on the opposite side, and one that she has to ascribe to her being a sinner. She initially disclaims it. She seeks Kira's advice. But when Kira suggests that she step down from her position as the Kai, Winn knows that it is power that really matters to her. She actively accepts her new role, without much persuasion by Anjohl. A bit too swiftly perhaps, but the Final Chapter requires such a fast pace.
In many ways, Winn is going through the reverse development as Damar. I like this duality in the episode very much. It is astonishing how much two guest characters, and not even the two most prominent ones, are in the focus of this episode. And it pays off to have gifted actors even in initially less important roles. As they finally get to play big emotions, we can see Casey Biggs and Louise Fletcher with very convincing performances that are among their best in the whole series.
Remarkable quote: "Oh, I'm sure she'll understand. But if she doesn't... I look forward to meeting Weyoun 9." (Damar, to Weyoun 8, after Ezri's and Worf's escape)
Remarkable running joke: While the Founder and Weyoun have no trouble understanding the Breen leader Thot Ghor, Damar initially has no clue. But while Damar will have his translator adjusted, the Breen will never speak any comprehensible words on screen, just as they never lift their helmets.
Rating: 9

The Changing Face of Evil Stardate not given: As Worf and Ezri return to DS9, they learn that the Breen have destroyed Starfleet Headquarters on Earth. Winn Adami and "Anjohl" Dukat study the ancient Bajoran book of the Kosst Amojan that explains how the Pah-wraiths can be freed from the Fire Caves. The pages seem to be empty. Winn's assistant Solbor unveils Anjohl's true identity. Winn stabs him with a knife, and the blood renders the text visible. When the Dominion, supported by the Breen, attack the Chin'toka system, countless allied starships, including the USS Defiant, are destroyed by a new Breen weapon that disables a ship's power systems. In the meantime, on Cardassia, Damar has gathered loyal troops to fight against the Dominion occupation. Sisko, knowing that the Federation now needs any help it can get, decides to support Damar.

Wow! This is the most exciting DS9 episode since "The Way of the Warrior". As soon as in the teaser there is a dramatic turn from the good news (Ezri's and Worf's return) to the bad news (Breen attack on Earth), all within just two minutes. "The Changing Face of Evil" continues the three main threads that have emerged in the preceding three episodes and takes every one of them to a new height: the Breen as an unstoppable new menace, Damar's conflict with the Dominion that culminates in his defection and Winn Adami's ultimate conversion to the dark side of Bajoran faith. Unlike "Strange Bedfellows" that remained a chamber play, "The Changing Face of Evil" shows action of all kinds and at all the various locations. In addition, there are once again some light-hearted moments, such as Sisko's acclimatization with being married and his little conflicts with Kasidy, although this continuing antipole to the exciting main threads has already become a bit too trivial. Being married shouldn't be made such a big deal. We can also see Julian and O'Brien play with the Alamo model. And while I was expecting Worf and Ezri to be tired of sitting together all the time, it's apparently important to them to discuss her possible relationship with Bashir. Anyway, all in all, it is a nearly perfect episode. The only reason why I don't give it one more point is that no tension is being built up but is just being "harvested". It is there all the time, distributed across the threads that still remain largely isolated. That's a small price to pay in the story arc format of the great Final Chapter.
The character development falls a bit short of the three previous episodes in favor of more action. It is notable that now Anjohl/Dukat is more active again. Kai Winn's transition to the side of the Pah-wraiths is completed when she stabs her loyal aide Solbor instead of the man whom he has just revealed to be Gul Dukat, the most hated enemy of the Bajoran people. Yet, unlike in the preceding episode when she made the conscious decision to follow the Pah-wraiths, she is now being manipulated by them and unwittingly fulfils a prophecy. It is easy to recognize at this point that her character will not survive the end of the series. But Kai Winn's gradual downfall continues to be quite dramatic.
Remarkable quotes: "Nobody touches my peppers!" (Sisko), "He who studies evil, is studied by evil." (Solbor, upon bringing the Kosst Amojan to Winn), "It's not a toy. It's a model, built to scale." (O'Brien, to Kira, about the Alamo)
Remarkable speech: "And so two years ago, our government signed a treaty with the Dominion. In it the Dominion promised to extend Cardassia's influence throughout the Alpha Quadrant. In exchange, we pledged ourselves to join the war against the Federation and its allies. Cardassians have never been afraid of war, a fact we've proven time and again over these past two years. Seven million of our brave soldiers have given their lives to fulfill our part of the agreement, and what has the Dominion done in return? Nothing. We've gained no new territories. In fact, our influence throughout the quadrant has diminished. And to make matters worse we are no longer masters in our own home. Travel anywhere on Cardassia and what do you find? Jem'Hadar, Vorta, and now Breen. Instead of the invaders we have become the invaded. Our allies have conquered us without firing a single shot. Well, no longer. This morning detachments of the Cardassian First, Third and Ninth Orders attacked the Dominion outpost on Rondac III. This assault marks the first step towards the liberation of our homeland, from the true oppressors of the Alpha Quadrant. I call upon Cardassians everywhere. Resist. Resist today. Resist tomorrow. Resist till the last Dominion soldier has been driven from our soil!" (Damar)
Remarkable scenes: It is demonstrated in two drastic sequences how dangerous the Breen are. The first is the aftermath of the raid on San Francisco Bay, the second is the destruction of the Defiant.
Remarkable fact: Weyoun tells Damar that the Breen homeworld is in fact a quite comfortable place, not a cold wasteland. We should take the statement with a grain of salt though.
Rating: 9

When It Rains Stardate not given: It is discovered that one Klingon ship withstood the new Breen weapon, and all Klingon power systems are modified accordingly, leaving the Klingons as the only line of defense for the alliance. Chancellor Gowron personally takes over the command of the Klingon fleet. Sisko sends Colonel Kira, who has experience in guerilla tactics, to support Damar. Although she would have to help her old enemies and especially the man who killed Tora Ziyal, she accepts. Odo and Garak accompany her. Bashir finds out that Odo is suffering from the Founder's disease too; he suspects that it could have been developed by Section 31. He and O'Brien further investigate the case, and they are startled to discover that Section 31 infected Odo in the first place to carry over the virus to the Great Link.

Barely two and a half minutes have passed, and we already know that only Klingon ships are immune to the Breen weapon and that Kira is to aid the Cardassian resistance. So the fast pace of the preceding episode is carried over to "When It Rains", but it does not persist. This is a quite good episode, but it becomes a bit divergent, owing to its position between two thrillers.
It is a very clever twist to assign Kira to the mission with the Cardassians, especially since Damar killed Tora Ziyal, and it even makes perfect sense. It is just as fitting for Garak to join the team, after he has been absent for a couple of episodes. The covert operation in Cardassian space is a welcome opportunity anyway to give Kira, Odo and Garak as permanent residents something more to do in the Final Chapter. It would be strange if the series ended with Sisko being the only one of the main cast to take an active role.
While Odo is already en route to Cardassia, he learns that he too has contracted the Founders' disease. While Odo himself represses the idea of being ill, as we wouldn't have otherwise expected from him, Julian tries everything to get at the bottom of his condition. I like this emerging thread a lot, which is both a detective story and a struggle against the windmills of Federation bureaucracy.
The soapy mix-ups continue as Ezri, bashfully in love with Bashir, avoids the doctor, which leads him to the conclusion that she and Worf are together. But unlike it was in the first three parts of the arc, it is merely a side note here. It is okay with me in its function to loosen up an episode otherwise full of serious conflicts.
On a more important note, Gowron is back. It is the first time that we see him since "By Inferno's Light". While it was clear that he wouldn't come to Deep Space 9 without an agenda, I expected him to pick up his latent conflict with Worf. But after being suspectly kind to Worf and especially to Martok (with "kind" meaning a round of backslapping, bloodwine and palm scratching) it soon becomes clear that Gowron has come to take over the command of the fleet himself, effectively demoting Martok to an ordinary soldier who has the "honor" of being out in the battle. The German word "wegloben" (= "to praise away") literally illustrates Martok's situation, perhaps the Klingon way of kicking someone "upstairs". I don't think it is really Klingon-like though, and it is just the beginning of Gowron's eccentric character development in this and the next episode.
As could have been expected, the Anjohl/Winn arc loses a bit of steam. Considering that after the revelations that Anjohl is in fact Dukat and that he is seeking a way to release the Pah-wraiths, what could still happen to the odd couple before the series finale that would most likely bring up the conclusion? Yet, the thread takes another unexpected turn already now when Dukat loses his eyesight after looking into the Kosst Amojan. Irrespective of Winn's firm belief that she is the only one allowed to read the ancient text, it effectively switches their roles. With Dukat being more or less disabled, Winn is in charge, and it makes her decision for the "dark side" even more significant.
Already the first meeting with the Cardassian Resistance brings up an interesting discussion: Odo and Kira suggest that the Resistance attack a facility guarded by Cardassians, and Rusot as well as Damar state that they, unlike Kira, wouldn't kill their own people. I would spontaneously agree with the Cardassians. Then Kira makes an important point when she says that if the Resistance spared the lives of their fellow countrymen the Dominion would have all important targets protected by Cardassians. And so Damar grudgingly agrees with the plan, against Rusot's misgivings. On the other hand, we have to consider the political and ethical dimension too. You don't keep attacking someone whom you want to ally with yourself. The same considerations apply to the Federation. In the battle of "Sacrifice of Angels", for instance, they targeted the Cardassian ships for tactical reasons, rather than the Jem'Hadar. However, peace with the Cardassians is possible and desirable, while no one could remotely put up with a hoard of Jem'Hadar in their backyard. It's a double edge sword that I hope will keep playing a role in the following.
Finally, I wonder where the heck Jake is. His role has been gradually reduced, and aside from a short cameo as his father's best man he has been conspicuously absent from most of the recent episodes.
Remarkable dialogue: "Doctor, get to the point." - "I need to borrow a cup of goo." - "Excuse me?" - "Please, I'll give it back!" (Odo and Bashir)
Remarkable quotes: "I did hate her. That's a luxury I can no longer afford, and neither can you." (Damar, to Rusot, about Kira), "If you want to knock over some supplies, be my guest." (Kira, to Odo, enraged after the wry remarks by some Cardassians that Odo was a collaborator)
Remarkable fact: Kira, now addressed as "Commander Kira", switches to a Starfleet uniform, in order to facilitate her mission among the Cardassians. 
Rating: 7

Tacking Into the Wind Stardate not given: Odo's condition is worsening, but he hides it from Kira. On Deep Space 9, Chancellor Gowron orders useless Klingon suicide attacks on the Dominion, obviously to discredit Martok, who has become too popular. Worf is upset. When Martok refuses to overthrow Gowron, Worf challenges Gowron and kills him in a fierce bat'leth duel. He then declares Martok the new Chancellor of the Klingon Empire. The efforts to find out more about the Breen energy damping weapon continue. Damar's resistance group manages to capture a Jem'Hadar attack ship on which the weapon is being installed. Rusot, one of Damar's closest friends, endangers the mission when he threatens Kira, and Damar has to kill him.

Considering how strictly their own regular military is organized, it is ironical how the Cardassians freedom fighters are now being lectured on basic underground tactics by none else but the former Bajoran resistance member Kira Nerys. While Damar is willing to bear the situation with a certain humility, Rusot uses any opportunity to question Kira's advice and to put moral concerns above the fulfillment of the mission. As already mentioned in the previous review, some of his objections are very legitimate. Moreover, although it may remain a side note in the big war, this is the Cardassian struggle for freedom, and it is only understandable that they are accordingly emotional about it. Seeing how level-headed Kira remains all the time (except when she is openly insulted as it happened in "When It Rains" and once again in this episode when Rusot claims she wants to see all Cardassians dead), it is quite a change from her time in the Bajoran Resistance and even on Deep Space 9. It is a new role that fell into her lap, and she does her best to perform it, just like Damar on the opposite side. I like this indefinite tension between the two, and I don't miss that so far they haven't clash violently because of Ziyal's death. As Damar loses everything in this episode (his family is murdered, and he has to kill his closest friend Rusot for the cause), everything could happen to him, but he remains extraordinarily composed.
Regarding Rusot, although he was introduced as a disposable character in the first place, he does not fail to make an impact as a member of "Old Cardassia". Only his sudden urge to kill Kira and Odo at a most critical point of the common mission is so foolish that shooting him was justified to save their lives. Well, maybe that made it somewhat easier for Damar. It is also a bit of "eye for an eye" of an odd kind, considering what he did to Kira when he killed Ziyal.
Garak, the master of discretion and eloquence, repeatedly relieves the pressure that is building up between Kira and the Cardassians. It becomes clear that he was the perfect choice to join the little team, and not just because of his Obsidian Order experience and his descent. There was the danger that he would be just the useful tinkerer and mediator, but he now brings in his personality. He talks to Odo and later to Kira about their relationship, and he promises either of them that he wouldn't let the other one know that Odo is miserably ill and that Kira already knows it, respectively.
On an interesting side note, Garak's and Odo's relationship is somewhat damaged since "The Die is Cast", when Garak used a shapeshifting inhibitor on Odo. Ironically, during the ordeal Odo looked a lot like he does with the Founders' disease now. The two don't seem to have a problem with their past encounter though, and none of them refers to it. Perhaps this is an omission from the part of the writers, but I wouldn't really expect them to talk about it anyway.
Julian and Miles are having an argument whether they should go after Section 31 to find a cure for Odo's disease or rather do their own research in order not to wake the sleeping dogs. Julian appears unusually disillusioned when he wants to avoid Section 31, but then again, unlike Miles he knows the organization and what they are capable of. 
So Gowron's insane orders are part of a political intrigue to discredit Martok in the eyes of his people. This doesn't really make sense to me. Everyone in the Klingon Empire must see that Gowron is sending his ships into their certain defeat. I am also a bit sad that a once valuable character is suddenly being made disposable by letting him act like a total jerk. Anyway, the way how the corrupt leader is eventually removed from power is more plausible. It gives Worf the opportunity to become a "true" Klingon again, but not before Captain Sisko (who once again proves his great talent to motivate his people) appeals to his conscience and Dax provides the perspective of someone who may know Klingons better than they do themselves. It may have been up to Martok to challenge the chancellor, but then again Martok has been shown as a waverer (by Klingon standards) before. Worf, on the other hand, can redeem himself and take revenge, while still not abandoning the high moral standards he has inherited from his human foster parents and friends. There may be stains on his record, and killing someone in a duel is not exactly something that Starfleet would endorse. Yet, Worf has never done anything that would estrange him from humanity. It may be a missed opportunity of development, but his character has always remained quite consistent. He challenges Gowron because has been betrayed too often to just remain silent, just like Martok, who is usually always ready for a good fight, succumbs to reason of state as he does not have the heart of a rebel.
Remarkable quotes: "No one could've foreseen that Damar would become a terrorist. The concept is antithetical to the very nature of Cardassians. They respect authority. They value the rule of law, and the security of order, which is exactly what the Dominion offers to them." (Weyoun, to the Founder and Thot Pran), "If you were a true Klingon I would kill you where you stand! Fortunately for you, that child's uniform shields you from your rightful fate." (Gowron, to Worf), "Kahless said, 'Great men do not seek power. They have power thrust upon them.'" (Worf, to the new Chancellor Martok)
Remarkable scene: I just love how Sisko dares to shout at Gowron, who is sending ships on totally useless suicide missions. -- When Damar has just received word that the Dominion has murdered his wife and son, he asks, "What kind of people give those orders?". Kira repeats his question, they stare at one another for a moment, but nothing happens. The most powerful scene of the episode.
Rating: 8

Extreme Measures Stardate 52645.7: While Odo is staying in the infirmary at DS9, Kira leaves with Garak and Damar to continue the Cardassian resistance movement. Time is pressing to find a cure against the Founder's disease. Bashir lures Sloan to DS9, and he plans to use an illegal Romulan memory scanner to probe Sloan's mind. Sloan, however, commits suicide before Bashir can find out anything about the Founder's disease and a possible cure devised by Section 31. With 43 minutes left until Sloan's death, Bashir and O'Brien link themselves to his brain, and they are walking through a virtual environment resembling the corridors on the Defiant and DS9 and with a manifestation of Sloan, who attempts to stop them. They finally find a kind of office in which Sloan hides many secrets, among them the decisive information about the disease.

When I first watched this episode I didn't enjoy it too much. After the internal conflict among the Klingons had been resolved and the Winn/Dukat arc had been given a break in "Tacking into the Wind", the Final Chapter should have deserved a push. Somehow I felt it was no good idea to take a detour at this point. I thought "Extreme Measures" didn't blend very well with the rest of the Final Chapter, focusing on just one storyline, and admittedly not the most exciting one. Sure, saving Odo's life is something that shouldn't have been done casually. But I disliked the underlying idea of the "brainwalk" and how it was visualized. The one thing I always remembered was how Bashir and O'Brien were wandering around in Sloan's mind, in an unrealistic and awkward fashion comparable to the silly game in DS9: "Move Along Home" or to a malfunctioning holodeck.
However, perhaps the whole arc really needed some breathing time. While "Extreme Measures" does fall a bit short of the rest of the Final Chapter, it still fits in nicely. And I have come to appreciate the redeeming virtues of the episode: the nice character interaction (with special mention of Nana Visitor and René Auberjonois, although they share just one scene at the beginning), the ethical implications and the many little nods.
Pertaining to the walk through Sloan's dying brain, I'm not exactly an expert in the field but it gives us a wrong impression about how the human brain works. In neural systems there is nothing that we could imagine as "corridors", information is not stored in a fashion such as "This file holds the cure for Odo." Much less would we find a manifestation of the dying patient's subconsciousness who consciously talked to us and who even delivered a solemn speech to his family and friends. And least of all a dying brain could create a perfect hallucination to make both O'Brien and Bashir believe they are already outside again. In order to ease these deficiencies it was probably a good idea to let Bashir introduce the procedure to O'Brien with wry comments instead of technobabble. But this doesn't really make it more realistic. I have a problem anyway with extended dream sequences or hallucinations that wouldn't look remotely as life-like and plausible as they appear on screen. Also, I wonder if it was really necessary to resort to the overused plot device that a simple mind link may lead to permanent brain damage or death. I think the episode didn't need this additional dramatic impact.
Remarkable dialogue: "I want you to go, Nerys." - "Why?" - "You watched Bareil die in this very room [in DS9: "Life Support"]. I know how that's always haunted you. I don't want your last memory of me to be witnessing my death." - "Isn't that my choice?" - "Maybe it is. And maybe I'm being selfish by telling you everything I want. But I don't want the last thing I see to be pain in you eyes." - "You'd be surprised how well I can hide my feelings when I need to." - "Not from me." (Odo and Kira)
Remarkable scene: Julian and Miles discover that they are still inside Sloan's brain when the book Julian is reading starts over again in the middle (because Sloan can't possibly know how it would continue). This is reminiscent of the inconsistencies that blew the whistle on the similar hoaxes in TNG: "Future Imperfect" (Riker recognizes his alleged wife as the hologram Minuet) and TNG: "Ship in a Bottle" (holographic Geordi is using the wrong hand). Therefore the discovery isn't too surprising in "Extreme Measures", still it is nicely done.
Rating: 5

The Dogs of War Stardate 52861.3: Sisko takes command of the new Defiant-class ship USS São Paulo, which he is authorized to rename "Defiant". The ship is equipped with countermeasures against the Breen energy damping weapon. The Dominion destroys most of Damar's resistance movement, and claims that he himself is dead. The Cardassian civilians, however, are convinced that their new hero is still alive, and the resistance finds new supporters everywhere. Grand Nagus Zek, who has initiated social reforms on Ferenginar, decides to retire. To Quark's surprise, he declares that Rom should be his successor. Sisko learns that Kasidy is pregnant. 

The genocide on the Founders got a raw deal in the two preceding episodes, which is excusable as Bashir and O'Brien still kept it secret in "Tacking into the Wind" and saving Odo was the priority in "Extreme Measures". Now that he is cured and learns of Section 31's ploy it is the right time to discuss the ethical impact. Odo's anger is quite understandable, especially since he was misused as the carrier of the virus designed to kill his own people. In addition, the wrongdoings of Section 31 that are being tolerated by Starfleet shatter his trust in the Federation, a side he has consciously chosen in this war. On the other hand, didn't Odo switch sides in the early sixth season, effectively supporting an enemy known for genocidal practices? I'm not resentful of Odo, but although he is certainly entitled to accuse the Federation of having double standards, he comes out as a bit hypocritical.
It is once again Sisko who provides a perhaps less personal and more pragmatic view. Although there is no clear allusion that I would be aware of, he sounds like a US military commander in WWII justifying the nuclear bombs dropped on Japan - not to kill as many people labeled as enemies as possible but to save the countless lives that would be lost if the war went on indefinitely. However, while infecting the Founders might erase their whole species (except for those who have remained isolated such as Laas before he met Odo - and was very likely infected!), this genocide is not really comparable to anything that happened in human history. If the linked Founders always act as a collective comparable to the Borg and every attempt to achieve a peaceful solution fails, then it may be necessary to take the only chance and kill them all, whoever would be authorized to make that decision (certainly not a semi-legal organization like Section 31). I know it's a far-fetched comparison, but if the Allies had been informed of a grand meeting of the leaders of Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan in a place where all of them could be easily assassinated, shouldn't they have gone for it by all means, rather than killing hundreds of thousands of mostly innocent people in indiscriminate bombings? On the other hand, we know that the Founders, once they are separated from the Great Link, just like Odo, act as individuals. Furthermore, there are infant Changelings, as seen in "The Begotten", that clearly deserve special protection. So it is not really as easy as looking upon the Great Link as a focus of evil that is allowed to be erased altogether.
Sisko is clearly aware of all that. Still, I wonder whether he may be worried rather about the principles of the Federation that are being twisted than about the Founders that are going to die. Ultimately, however, he cares about the lives of Starfleet personnel and Federation citizens above all. And this inevitably makes his stance partially personal as well. And if Sisko is concerned about the welfare of his people, who could hold it against Odo?
The Ferengi storyline in this episode comes a bit out of the blue, because we haven't heard of them lately with the exception of the excursion into the Mirror Universe in "The Emperor's New Cloak". It is possible that the producers were a bit afraid of harking back to Ferengi politics after the mishap with the overly silly sixth-season episode "Profit and Lace". So "The Dogs of War" does its job to conclude the Ferengi arc without giving it too much exposure. It is interesting that the events depicted here mirror those in the first-season episode "The Nagus", the first appearance of Zek, in an ironical fashion. At that time Quark, the successful businessman, was flattered to be appointed to follow Zek but it turned out to be a ruse. Now his dream seems to come true eventually. But he angrily declines in the light of the social reforms initiated by Zek and Ishka. In the end his brother Rom, the alleged jerk who then attempted to kill "Grand Nagus" Quark, really gets the job. This duality of events is certainly a nice idea, especially for fans who have been following the series since the beginning. Yet, "The Dogs of War" already draws too heavily on motives from "The Nagus" and likewise from "Prophet Motive" (when Zek came to the station with revised Rules of Acquisition), so much that we could easily mix up whole scenes from the three episodes.
The amazing transformation of Damar reaches its apogee when the former thug becomes the hero of the Cardassian freedom movement and speaks to the people in the streets. So far the word "freedom" has not been customary on Cardassia anyway, neither under the civilian nor the military government. I imagine that the majority of Cardassians always used to put up with whoever ruled them. Having more freedom was not a priority and not a common desire among the people. Much less was the question of conceding freedom to the Bajorans. But now the Dominion sends millions of Cardassian soldiers as cannon fodder into battles without anyone on Cardassia benefiting from it. Cardassia has learned a new word, one that Damar epitomizes.
Just a quick note on Ezri and Julian. The wait is over. They get it done. Eventually.
Remarkable quote: "The line has to be drawn here! This far and no further!" (Quark, upset about the social reforms on Ferenginar)
Remarkable appearances: Jeffrey Combs plays both Weyoun and Brunt in this episode. We also see Julianna McCarthy reprise her role as Mila from DS9: "The Die is Cast".
Remarkable ship: The São Paulo, of course, looks the same as the destroyed Defiant. Only some details like the carpeting on the bridge are different. Julian: "I hate the carpet. I do."
Rating: 8

What You Leave Behind Stardate 52947.9: Julian and Ezri wake up together on a day that should change everything. The uprising on Cardassia is the signal for the alliance to begin their final assault on the Dominion. The Cardassian people, however, pay a high price when the Jem'Hadar destroy the Lakarian City with its two million inhabitants. During the battle with the Federation alliance, the Cardassian ships, whose crews have just been notified of the massacre begin to fire on their former allies, the Breen and the Jem'Hadar. The female Founder now summons their ships and troops to Cardassia and she orders to slaughter all Cardassians. Damar, Kira and Garak are captured and are facing their execution, but they are saved by fellow Cardassian patriots. When the group storms the Dominion headquarters, Damar is fatally wounded. Garak kills Weyoun 8 and is pleased to hear that it was the last of his kind. The female Founder is taken prisoner. In the meantime, the Federation fleet has reached Cardassia and is preparing for the ultimate battle against what is left of the Dominion. Odo, however, beams down to Cardassia and links with the female Founder, thereby healing her. She agrees to a capitulation of the Dominion forces who retreat to the Gamma Quadrant. Odo decides to return to the Great Link to cure his people, which Kira sadly accepts. Worf becomes the Federation Ambassador to Qo'noS. O'Brien is about to leave to teach engineering at Starfleet Academy. In the Bajoran Fire Caves, the Pah-wraiths restore Dukat's Cardassian appearance. Sisko enters the scene. With the power of the Kosst Amojan Dukat kills Kai Winn. In a last effort to save Bajor, Sisko grabs Dukat, and they fall into the fire. The Kosst Amojan burn, thereby ensuring that the Pah-wraiths and Dukat have to stay in the caves forever. Sisko finds himself among the Prophets, who tell him that his mission is now finished and he needs rest. He has to stay with the Prophets. On the station, Kira and Jake are standing behind a promenade deck window, looking out at the vastness of space...

After a great seventh season I had accordingly high expectations, but this series finale turned out still better than I anticipated. It ties up all the loose ends in a quite satisfying fashion, unlike it was in the final episode of TNG, "All Good Things", that was a worthy ending to the series but left many questions unanswered while raising some new ones. I absolutely love how "What You Leave Behind" takes time to resolve a couple of issues after the rage of the final battle (with the war ending already half-way through the episode). It is overall an awesome mix of action and character development and never appears hasty. Every part of the arc and every character is given a fair share of the screen time.
Ultimately the Dominion loses the war rather because of its own arrogance than because of their enemy's superior strategy or determination. When the female Changeling orders the destruction of the Lakarian City with two million Cardassians, it is a desperate act of revenge, rather than an instrument of collective punishment that could have helped the Dominion regain control of the occupied planet. And for the Cardassian soldiers who are still fighting the war on the side of the oppressors it is the final straw. It winds up as encouraging rather than intimidating. A more prominent example from human history for the unscrupulous mindset of the Founders is the execution of the innocent inhabitants of the village of Lidice by the Nazis, after Heydrich, the so-called "Protector" of Bohemia and Moravia, had been killed by the Czech resistance (which arguably had very little effect on the course of WWII though). I always thought of the Dominion with its fanatical racism and its genocidal policy as the embodiment of fascism in space, and this episode provides further evidence. I would have hoped for a bit more poetic justice though, but it is only the Cardassians, not the Dominion, and least of all their leaders who pay the price for the war. A war is never fair, even as it seems to end with a victory over the evil side.
In particular, it leaves me a bit disappointed how the female Founder is healed by Odo and is conceded the privilege of a fair trial, while Weyoun 8 is shot by Garak without necessity, in a way as if he were the arch villain. It becomes clear that the war could only be ended either with some concessions to the Dominion (free passage for the Jem'Hadar ships) or with even more bloodshed. However, I find it disproportionate how the minions are killed mercilessly and the master (who has just added the Cardassian holocaust to her endless criminal record) is treated with respect. There is also a good deal of sympathy in Kira's message to the Defiant that the Founder is in very bad shape. Sure, it is Trek-like that the series ends with reconciliation rather than revenge, and it is also the only way for Odo to finally return to his people. But it is also a bit symptomatic of the franchise since TNG that strange lifeforms such as the Founders are treated as something more precious than the omnipresent humanoids (800 million dead Cardassians) or even clones such as the Vorta. This unpleasantly reminds me of one, in my opinion, of the worst TNG episodes, "Silicon Avatar", where the life of the murderous Crystalline Entity was deemed particularly valuable as well.
After a hiatus of three episodes Dukat and Kai Winn conclude their unholy quest, and they both meet their fate. It is interesting how Winn Adami is still or again determined to release the Pah-wraiths, and how she joins forces with Dukat without much reluctance to that end, although she has been maliciously deceived by both of them. She even takes over the lead in the scheme, and she takes revenge on Dukat by poisoning him. The continuing destruction of her character, who temporarily appeared sympathetic between the fifth and the seventh season, may be a way to morally justify her demise in the first place. But realistically, could the Bajoran religious leader turn back at this point, concede her defeat and ask the Prophets' forgiveness? She is literally on a one-way street to hell.
It is fitting that Sisko finishes his business with Dukat, especially since the two share a long history of hostility that Dukat has gradually turned into an obsession that determines his actions since at least the fifth season. Still, I was silently hoping for Kira to face Dukat in a final duel, and without anything supernatural involved. Regarding Sisko's fate, it may not seem entirely satisfying that he has to stay with the Prophets, especially considering that he leaves behind a son and a pregnant wife. But considering how everything began in "Emissary" the cycle is completed when Sisko, after completing his mundane task, joins the Prophets to whom he always belonged without being aware of it. This ultimate step in his evolution is clearly borrowed from the Christian concept of the Ascension. It is a bit problematic in the context of Star Trek that a Starfleet officer enters a "celestial" realm beyond the laws of known science. But it is not unheard of, remembering that Spock and, even more obviously, Wesley Crusher may have experienced something quite similar.
Remarkable quotes: "Well, this may sound naive. But I was expecting to see fire. They are called the 'Fire Caves'." (Dukat), "The Dominion has spent the last two years trying to destroy the Federation, and now you're asking me to put our fate in their hands?" (Female Founder, to Odo), "I will be there. But I will not... dance." (Worf, being invited to Vic's by Ezri), "To the best crew any captain ever had. This may be the last time we're all together. But no matter what the future holds, no matter how far we travel, a part of us... a very important part will always be here, at Deep Space 9." (Captain Sisko), "The more things change, the more they stay the same." (Quark)
Remarkable scenes: The final space battle consists of just too much stock footage from "Sacrifice of Angels" and "Tears of the Prophets". But I have to concede it is very exciting nonetheless. You should have heard me cheer when the Cardassian ships turned their weapons against the Jem'Hadar. -- It may be the most emotional scene of the series when all the crew has gathered on the holodeck and Vic Fontaine sings "The Way You Look Tonight". -- However, most of all I love how Miles eventually finds the missing figurine William B. Travis, followed by short flashback sequences spotlighting his friendship with Dr. Bashir, Worf's time on the station (regrettably excluding anything related to Jadzia, lacking Terry Farrell's permission), Kira's and Odo's love, Ferengi affairs, the Siskos' father-son relationship and other memorable moments, accompanied by an instrumental version of Vic's "The Way You Look Tonight".
Remarkable pun: Vic sings the line "...that laugh that wrinkles your nose" just when he is standing next to Kira Nerys and Odo.
Remarkable similarity: It has been commented on many times before how the Breen helmets resemble those of the bounty hunter from "Star Wars Ep. VI". While this never bothered me too much, I find the moment when Kira removes the Breen mask strikingly reminiscent of the corresponding scene with Leia.
Random episode facts: Keiko O'Brien sports a new shorter haircut. I think it makes her look unnecessarily older. -- Pregnant Kasidy is vomiting all the time. -- Jake is alive! -- The female Founder promises Romulus and Earth to the Breen (at least so she tells their leader, while she affirms Weyoun that the planet would fall into his range of influence). -- Mila is killed by the Jem'Hadar. -- Damar is killed in a shooting, his last word being "Keep..." -- O'Brien goes back to Earth to become a professor of engineering at Starfleet Academy. He wants to teach the cadets self-sealing stembolts (that he still didn't know at all in DS9: "Progress"), as he half-jokingly tells Julian. Worf recommends Minsk as a nice place to live on Earth. -- Martok asks Worf to become Federation Ambassador to Qo'noS. This is very odd, considering that it would be up to the Federation to appoint an ambassador to a foreign planet. -- Nog is promoted to lieutenant. -- When Odo rejoins the Great Link, he changes into a tuxedo, just to look good for Kira.
Rating: 10


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