“A Time to Stand”

“I’ll have you know, Major, that I love baseball. I’ve just started a team in Locarian City. They’ll be playing the Pike City Pioneers next week.”

The war is going very badly for the Federation and Dukat is walking on air back at re-christened Terok Nor, even though the minefield around the wormhole is preventing reinforcements from the Gamma Quadrant. The Dominion is keeping the Cardassians from making things too rough on the station and Weyoun gets Odo to take a seat on the station’s ruling council — much to Kira’s worry. Meanwhile, Sisko and Co. are sent on a mission to destroy a Dominion facility that stores the Jem’Hadar’s food (ketracel white) using the Jem’Hadar attack ship Sisko captured back in “The Ship”. They’re successful, but their vessel is badly damaged in the process, and the crew’s ability to return to friendly space is in question as the episode ends.

“Captain, are you going to tell the rest of the crew that you’re just watching ‘Spenser: For Hire’ re-runs on this channel?”

Why it’s important

As the first episode in the arc that begins DS9’s sixth season, this episode sets a lot in motion, including Sisko’s rise to prominence in Starfleet and his association with Admiral Ross (Barry Jenner), who shows up here for the first time and becomes a recurring character for the rest of the series. The dynamics back on DS9 are more interesting, though, as the feeling clearly is that the Federation is doomed, that Dukat is becoming a major player in interstellar affairs and that Odo’s loyalties will be tested.

That said, it’s interesting that the destruction of the ketracel white facility seems to have such little effect going forward.

“Oh, Benjamin — Worf’s just upset that I’m leaving at the end of the season to be on ‘Becker’.”

What doesn’t hold up

The issue of scope in DS9’s final seasons shows up again. Here, it appears that the entire Dominion/Cardassian war effort is being led by three guys on DS9 (Dukat, Damar, Weyoun). Given that we’re talking about two extremely large space empires, shouldn’t there be more people involved — even a few stray Vorta or Cardassians in meetings? I know the Founders leave the day -to-day to the Vorta, but still.

In early DS9, the stakes were so much smaller that you could kind of buy that a handful of people (usually, the DS9 staff) would be operating independently. But as DS9 took on heavier and more galaxy-shaking topics, it became harder to buy that more people wouldn’t be involved. Really, the creators did the best job with the Klingons on this point — Martok and later Gowron always seemed to have Klingon staff members around — but the Federation and especially the Dominion and the Cardassians seem to be run by so few people. Just wait until we see the Dominion headquarters on Cardassia Prime in a few reviews. Basically, Weyoun and Damar operate out of what barely surpasses a small closet.

Otherwise, it’s odd that it takes Sisko’s staff so long to learn how to run the Jem’Hadar ship. Sisko seemed to know how to operate it when he tried to get it off the planet in “The Ship” and a team led by Kira in the seventh season doesn’t have much trouble operating one without any training. And don’t even get me started on the idea that only two members of a Jem’Hadar ship crew can see what’s going on outside the ship. Please.

Final thoughts

As noted in our last review, the Dukat/Weyoun/Damar scenes really strengthen the mini-arc that begins here. But the Odo/Kira stuff is really strong, too. Given where those two characters have been, what they go through mostly makes sense for where they eventually end up. More on that later.

Coming next week …

Things get really bad. O’Brien tears his pants.

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