Bashir readies to attend a conference on Romulus, when our buddy Sloan (William Sadler) from “Inquisition” shows up with an assignment to have Bashir gather intel. Sisko (after conferring with Admiral Ross) tells Bashir to play along to try to expose Sloan’s Section 31. What follows is a twist-heavy episode that’s rather hard to explain succinctly, but it turns out Sloan was working with Ross to protect a Starfleet operative within the Romulan ranks and get him promoted in the process. Senator Creetak (Adrienne Barbeau) whom we met (played by a different actor) back in “Image in the Sand” and is now buddy-buddy with the DS9ers (hmmmm) must be sacrificed in the process, and Ross’s willingness to work with Section 31 shows how much Starfleet has been rattled by the war. Sloan, made to look killed during the charade on Romulus, appears at the end of the episode, thanking a defeated Bashir in his quarters.
Why it’s important
Any thought that Section 31 was less than it was made out to be in “Inquisition” is pushed aside here. Sloan is able to get to one of Starfleet’s top admirals in Ross and can get himself on a delegation to Romulus. Thematically, this is another example of the DS9 creators not F-ing around.
Meanwhile, the Federation-Romulan alliance continues after this episode. Whether that was a result of Sloan’s master plan, it’s important in the eventual end to the war with the Dominion.
What doesn’t hold up
Sloan’s plan is rather crazy. I suppose it makes sense, to a point — he relied on Bashir’s goodness and lack of options to rope in Creetak, thus making Koval (John Fleck) look better in the eyes of the Romulans. But what if Creetak hadn’t agreed to commit treason? Or, what if she hadn’t been caught? Beyond that, wouldn’t Ross need to really be sure of the plan in order to participate — and given the craziness of the plan, wouldn’t he have backed out?
Oh, and as mentioned in a previous review, it’s odd that Creetak and the DS9 crew are cool in this episode — Bashir almost thinks of her as an ally — given her shenanigans earlier in the season. Considering that a different actor plays Creetak this time around, it’s too bad the creators didn’t just make her a new character. The new character could have replaced Creetak and established herself as more trustworthy. I guess Bashir didn’t read Kira’s reports from the whole blockade thing in “Shadows and Symbols”?
This is probably DS9’s most Ronald D. Moore episode, which is amazing in that it doesn’t involve the Klingons. It’s well-written … if you accept a few conceits, like the ones mentioned above about Sloan’s plan. The initial scene between Sloan and Bashir in Bashir’s quarters, in which Sloan outlines what will happen when the war ends and Bashir reacts in disgust, is priceless. Also, this episode has some great callbacks to TOS — Sloan’s use of the “UFP” abbreviation, Bashir using the term “Romulan Star Empire”, which hadn’t been used as far as I can remember in dialog since “Balance of Terror” — that are both vintage RDM.
It’s also nice that Moore gave Ross something interesting to do in a way that also keeps Sisko’s hands clean. Barry Jenner had played the role in a rather dull way for more than a year, but this episode gives him something to do for once. It’s also kinda cool that the episode is largely set on an Intrepid-class vessel (which takes the Federation delegation to Romulus) allowing us to see another ship like Voyager. I know it was likely done to save money, but it was cool. I often wondered why we never saw Intrepid-class ships (or Sovereign-class ships, like the Enterprise-E) in any battles with the Dominion.
Coming later this week …
DS9’s home stretch begins.