Part one: Damar is outraged that the Dominion is willing to give so much of Cardassia to the Breen, and is further outraged when Weyoun essentially sacrifices an entire order of Cardassian troops. Meanwhile, Dukat (still posing as a Bajoran) continues to manipulate Kai Winn — eventually revealing that he’s a servant of the pah-wraiths. With Worf and Ezri scheduled to be executed on Cardassia Prime (after they were turned over to the Dominion by the Breen) Damar helps them escape, telling them that the Federation has a friend on Cardassia. Back on the station, Winn decides to accept the pah-wraiths — feeling the Prophets have turned their backs on her — and vows to work with Dukat to destroy anyone who stands in their way.
Part two: Worf and Ezri arrive back on the station (having delivered Damar’s message) and a horrified Sisko learns of a Breen attack at Starfleet HQ on Earth. With the Dominion and Breen celebrating, Damar begins plotting against them. Dukat (still posing as a Bajoran) gets Winn to pull some ancient and forbidden texts that are supposed to reveal how to release the pah-wraiths from the Bajoran fire caves (mentioned in “The Assignment”). About this time, Sisko learns that the Dominion is about to retake the Chin’toka system (captured by the Federation in “Tears of the Prophets”) so he takes the Defiant and joins a Federation-Klingon-Romulan fleet to try to stop them. But the Breen employ a new energy-dampening weapon, destroying the dozens of Federation-allied ships, including the Defiant (!) after Sisko and crew manage to escape. Back on Bajor, Winn’s assistant Solbor (James Otis) has figured out who Dukat really is and reveals it to Winn. But Winn doesn’t want to be exposed and kills Solbor with a knife. Blood from the knife touches the previously blank pages of the forbidden texts, providing a way for Dukat and Winn to continue. Back on DS9, Sisko and Ross are freaking out about stopping the Breen when the station intercepts a message from Damar to the Cardassian people, urging them to join his new rebellion.
Why it’s important
The plot summary really covers a lot of the big items, but the Breen’s attack on Earth and Starfleet HQ is another huge moment in DS9’s final seasons (and in keeping with the not-F-ing-around approach we’ve noted before). Damar formally starting his rebellion is huge — and the furthering of Dukat and Winn’s plan is equally important in DS9’s final arc.
What doesn’t hold up
I hate Winn’s bold pronouncement in “Strange Bedfellows”, mostly because it seems cheesy and so at odds with her more complex stance in “The Changing Face of Evil”. But oh, well.
Now, one thing I’ve never understood. Why did the Bajorans keep the forbidden texts in the first place? For a spiritual people who revere the Prophets — and faith is supposedly what kept the Bajorans together over the years — why not just destroy the forbidden texts? Hell, given that they were essentially being wiped out by the Cardassians for 50 years, it’s amazing that the Bajorans were able to preserve the texts at all.
Beyond that, how in the hell did the Breen get all the way to Earth? As far as we know, the Breen have no cloaking technology, so they must have gotten past Starfleet’s defenses before being able to attack the planet. Now, we saw the Borg do this way back in “The Best of Both Worlds”, but that was after they destroyed 40 starships — at a time when Starfleet wasn’t all that mobilized for war.
And, finally, it’s just way too convenient that the female Changeling tells Weyoun not to destroy the Defiant escape pods. Her reasoning is that the survivors will spread fear when they return and talk about the new Breen weapon. But that information would have been conveyed in one way or another. Honestly, if I were the Founders, I’d do anything possible to knock off Sisko, considering he has a direct line of communication to god-like beings who destroyed 2,800 Dominion ships at one point.
Complaints above aside, “The Changing Face of Evil” is a highlight of DS9, from the destruction of the Defiant to the founding of Damar’s rebellion. In both cases, the DS9 creators showed they were really going for broke, even if they had to do so with some goofy logic (like the escape pod bit).
It’s really a credit to DS9 that the final chapter narratives all fit together for the most part, given how many balls were in the air.
Coming later this week …
More final chapter fun, with Gowron donning a dunce cap.