“Behind the Lines”

“I can take the form of just about anything, but I thought this would be the most alluring to you Odo…”

As the war wages on, Kira’s resistance cell is succeeding in messing with things on the station. Meanwhile, Sisko continues to make an impression as a smart tactician and is made part of Admiral Ross’s staff. That leaves Dax in command of the Defiant, which goes off and completes a dangerous mission. Back on the station, our old buddy the female Changeling (Salome Jens) shows up and starts testing Odo’s loyalties once again — and Damar finds a way to disable the minefield keeping Dominion shifts from entering the Alpha Quadrant. Kira sends Rom to sabotage the station and disrupt Damar’s strategy, a plan hinging on Odo’s help. But Odo is too busy linking with the female Changeling at a key moment, allowing Rom to get caught. Kira confronts him as the episode ends, and after she leaves, the female Changeling appears, having heard the whole exchange from the next room. Will Odo be lost to the bad guys forever?

Why it’s important

This is another review where the plot summary describes most of the immediate significance of the episode. But, otherwise, it is actually extremely important in that it’s where Odo is infected by the disease affecting the Great Link, created by a rogue part of Starfleet. Odo apparently unknowingly infected the link with the disease when he was brought to the Founders’ homeworld and stripped of his shapeshifting abilities in “Broken Link”. We’ll get to that in future reviews, of course.

“One does not simply… link with the female changeling. You gotta buy her dinner and flowers first.”

What doesn’t hold up

I suppose I could quibble with the idea that Starfleet would leave a lieutenant commander – one with a non-command specialty – in charge of one of the Federation’s most powerful ships. This is where it would have made sense for Worf to stay on the Defiant (which would have had the side benefit of negating the need for “Sons and Daughters”). But oh, well.

The other question, of course, is whether Odo would have been so likely to be friendly with the Founder after she took away his shapeshifting abilities and whether she would want anything to do with him. The idea that the link (hehe) among the Changelings was very strong was such a core part of the DS9 that I can sort of accept what we see in this episode. But it’s very close to being a stretch.

But I don’t buy that the female Changeling would apparently sit on the information she gets by linking with Odo — to say nothing of what she overheard in his conversation with Kira. The female Changeling should have had Kira arrested, which likely would have prevented the station from falling back into Federation hands two episodes later (for a host of reasons). I guess the idea is the Changelings are above it all and don’t want to get their hands dirty (unless impersonating key Alpha Quadrant figures?). But that’s an easy answer, not to mention a weak one.

You could probably come up with some sort of explanation about how Odo is more important than anything to the Founders to the point where the female Changeling would put keeping his trust above all else. But Odo was sort of out of it at this point, so it’s likely the female Changeling could have had Weyoun do something to Kira without Odo even knowing.

“Computer, play ‘Take My Breath Away’ by Berlin”

Final thoughts

This is a strong character episode that shows how comfortable the DS9 cast was after five-plus seasons and how much the characters had changed. Compare Sisko, Kira or Odo from season one to this episode and you see a dramatic, and mostly believable, evolution. This was really one of DS9’s strengths, in that it was the series that evolved the most. However, there is one exception …

Terry Farrell, once again, showed that she was the weakest actor in the main ensemble. Her role as the Defiant’s captain in the scene after the successful mission – mirroring Sisko’s action at the beginning of the episode – was just so weak. In early DS9, the Dax character was so inconsistently written – from a higher-plain type in season one to a party girl by season two – that I kind of shrugged off Farrell’s weak performance. But by this point, when all the other actors were really clicking (with the occasional misfire from Avery Brooks) it really stands out.

Finally, the scene where a drunk Quark relays information about Damar’s plan to Kira and her team is one of my favorites of the entire series. It’s a good example of how the Ferengi characters contributed to the DS9 universe (Rom, in this six-episode arc, plays a huge role, too). It’s just unfortunate that there were so many Ferengi-focused episodes throughout DS9 that sucked so hard.

Coming next week …

Shit gets real(er) in the war.

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