“Extreme Measures” and “The Dogs of War”

Should we, you know, enter his mind. No I just want to do that 'sitting in a chair when you wake up thing' to him first.
“Should we, you know, enter his mind?” “No I just want to do that ‘sitting in a chair when you wake up thing’ to him first.”

Part one: Odo’s back on DS9, and he’s not doing well. Bashir and O’Brien, acting on their plan from “Tacking into the Wind”, lure Sloan (William Sadler) from Section 31. Once they capture him, he triggers a suicide implant, so Bashir and O’Brien use Romulan mind probes to enter his dying mind — which, conveniently, looks like DS9 — to see if they can find the cure to the Changeling disease (bah). The plan generally works, through a bunch of Voyager-style nonsense. But Bashir has to choose between getting all the secrets of Section 31 from Sloan’s mind or escaping in time to save Odo. Or something. What a mess of an episode.

And over here is where I had my Gul Lesset Interrogation Action Playset(tm)
“And over here is where I had my Gul Lesset Interrogation Action Playset(tm)”

Part two: Kira, Damar and Garak take their stolen Jem’Hadar ship to Cardassia Prime for a meeting with some Cardies who say they want to join the rebellion, but it’s a trap, the Jem’Hadar ship is destroyed and the trio must hide in Garak’s childhood home, which had belonged to our old buddy Enabaran Tain. Shortly thereafter, they learn that the Dominion has destroyed all of Damar’s bases. With few other options, Kira, Damar and Garak take the rebellion to the streets. Back on the station, Odo’s cured and is informed that Section 31 infected him way back when to infect the other Changelings — and that the Federation Council is unwilling to share the cure with the Dominion. Oh, and Sisko gets a new Defiant-class ship, which is renamed to honor the ship destroyed earlier in the arc (and allowing existing sets and optics to be used!). At the same time, Grand Nagus Zek (Wallace Shawn, whom we first met in “The Nagus” but who has showed up in numerous Ferengi nonsense episodes) contacts Quark, through a garbled transmission, and tells him he will be the new Ferengi leader. Zek then shows up on the station and tells Quark he actually wants Rom to be the new Nagus (see the garbled transmission above). With Ferengi culture becoming more human, Quark pledges to keep his bar a staple of Ferengi tradition (meh). The episode ends as Sisko, Ross and Martok discuss strategy now that the Dominion and the Breen are pulling back as the Federation can now defend against the Breen weapon. The Federation alliance decides to go on the offensive, in hopes of finally ending the war.

"Busboy, Resistance Leader, Grand Nagus: The life and times of Rom"
“Busboy, Resistance Leader, Grand Nagus: The life and times of Rom.”

Why it’s important

As DS9 draws closer to the end, the plot summaries sort of explain the significance of the episodes. The Dominion pullback is the biggest domino here, as that emboldens the Federation and its allies to try to stick a fork in the fighting.

But getting the cure to the Changeling disease is actually a huge domino, as we’ll see in our next review. Without the efforts of Bashir and O’Brien, it’s likely the war would have lasted a lot longer — as we’ll see.

We also see the end of the Ferengi storylines (mercifully). While the Ferengi characters would often be well used in places (like Quark and Rom’s role in and around “Sacrifice of Angels”), one of DS9’s biggest failings was the thinking that at least two episodes a year had to be Ferengi-dominant, resulting in some of the worst showings the series produced. So, while it’s pretty laughable that the Nagus would have enough power — and enough desire — to change the entire Ferengi culture, apparently based on his experiences in the past seven years, it’s also sort of appropriate.

And it’s a big deal. In the span of about four episodes, DS9 will change the ruler of three major Alpha Quadrant entities — the Klingon Empire, the Cardassian Union and the Ferengi Alliance.

What doesn’t hold up

“Extreme Measures” is just a terrible, terrible episode. Colm Meaney and Alexander Siddig do what they can, as usual. But the premise and the execution are just awful. Sloan’s mind looks just like DS9? Please. Sloan has the exact formula for the cure to the disease affecting the Founders memorized? Ridiculous. Bashir and O’Brien do all of this unsanctioned (aside from some limited notification of Sisko)? Stupid. It’s too bad, because the Bashir/O’Brien friendship was a real strength of DS9, so it’s hard to figure what the creators were thinking on this one. It frankly comes across as low-rent and trite — a combination of TOS budget limitations and Voyager nonsense.

“The Dogs of War” is a better episode, but so much happens in it that it’s kind of a blur — and it doesn’t even get into the Dukat/Winn stuff. Frankly, the creators’ decision again to shoehorn the Ferengi into stories hurts things. It’s also unfortunate that the creators decided that the Ferengi should evolve to be more like humans (and in a ridiculously fast way). I remember watching this episode in 1999 and thinking that somehow, Rom would bring a bunch of Ferengi ships to help the Federation in the series finale — which would have made what happened here a stronger story. But, of course, that didn’t happen. Instead, it’s just more bad-comedy drivel — even if Max Grodenchik puts in a nice performance in his last outing as Rom.

Final thoughts

These two episodes are probably the weakest in the final arc so far, though “The Dogs of War” isn’t really awful. The finale, of course, has some issues — but we’ll get to that later this week.

Coming later this week …

The finale. Duh. I just said that.

 

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