Category Archives: Cardassian

“Favor the Bold”

When Shelby said they'd rebuild the fleet, they REBUILT the fleet
When Shelby said they’d rebuild the fleet, they REBUILT the fleet

Sisko begins plans to retake DS9 as things go from bad to worse on the station. Kira does all she can to save Rom, but Dukat and the Dominion are set on executing the Ferengi engineering genius. Sisko, meanwhile, gets buy-in from Starfleet to try to retake the station on the premise that the wormhole is the “key to the Alpha Quadrant”. He begins massing a big fleet — without Klingon assistance, as Gowron needs more convincing to participate. Then, Sisko gets a message from Kira and Jake — sent through Morn — telling him of the Dominion’s plan to take down the minefield and bring 2,800 ships into the Alpha Quadrant. Sisko leaves with 600 or so ships he has and ends the episode facing a Dominion fleet twice the size.

Why it’s important

Like our last review, the summary covers a lot of why the episode is important. This sets in motion one of the biggest battles of the Dominion War.

Not mentioned in the review is the return to form by Odo — or, at least, the beginning of the return to form. After he seemed lost to the Great Link forever in “Behind the Lines”, his loyalties seem more conflicted here. And that’s a big deal going into the next episode and the rest of the series.

Oooh Becker is on... I love that show!
“Oooh ‘Becker’ is on… I love that show!”

What doesn’t hold up

There’s the awful speech by Dax to Sisko at the beginning of the episode that basically insinuates that Sisko is a desk jockey who doesn’t understand what’s going on amid the fighting. Considering that Sisko was IN the fighting the previous week, the scene was just horribly written (not to mention poorly acted by Terry Farrell, who really seems like she had one foot out the door at this point).

There’s also the sloppy business with Worf and Martok going to the Klingon homeworld to convince Gowron to send ships to help Sisko’s task force. While I can get behind the idea of sending a friend and an enemy to talk to Gowron, it’s too hard to swallow that Starbase 375 (where Sisko was posted), the Klingon homeworld and DS9 are so close that Worf and Martok could get to Gowron quickly enough and return quickly enough to help in the fighting. Remember that the timing of the attack had to be moved up, thanks to Morn’s message.

The Klingon piece, really, just side-stepped something I’m guessing the creators didn’t want to handle: Why not send a cloaked fleet of Klingon ships to DS9, decloak near the station and try to take it back over?

Sure, the station is well-defended. But wouldn’t the odds be better for our heroes if 600 or so ships showed up at DS9 before having their ranks thinned by the Dominion fleet? I know the Starfleet ships wouldn’t have cloaking devices (other than the Defiant, and that’s another matter) but it seems like having the Klingons positioned to enter the fighting late in the next episode was just a workaround for the cloaking issue. In some late TNG, there’s discussion of technology that can detect cloaked ships coming from Romulan space to the Federation. But it’s never very clearly explained. Likewise, the Dominion found ways to detect a cloaked Defiant in some episodes. So, maybe the idea is that a large cloaked fleet would likely be detected anyway? Hmmm …

And, the biggest problem: If Sisko and Starfleet are in agreement that the wormhole is the “key to the Alpha Quadrant” why did they give it up with relatively little effort back in “Call to Arms”? Remember, Starfleet committed resources elsewhere leaving just the station, the Defiant and Martok’s ship as a defense. Even if most resources HAD to be committed elsewhere, couldn’t Starfleet have risked another 20 ships or so — in hopes of maintaining control of the wormhole and successfully completing the other mission?

I don't have a problem. I can quit anytime... just. Not. This. Episode.
“I don’t have a problem. I can quit anytime… just. Not. This. Episode.”

Final thoughts

While this episode works in a lot of ways, it’s a great example of one of DS9’s biggest flaws: The creators would bite off so much as far as problems facing our heroes in efforts to increase the drama that the ultimate solution would be somewhat unbelievable and almost stupid.

We’ll get into this more with our next review, but one of the key points in this episode is that Sisko had to rush his plan without a large number of Starfleet ships that hadn’t yet arrived and without the Klingons (as noted). The creators amped up the drama unnecessarily, as even a fleet of, say, 1,000 ships would have been vastly outnumbered by the Dominion and would have had to take on the heavy-duty station defenses in the hands of Dukat.

Coming later this week …

See above, and get ready for some deus ex machina.


“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.

“Sons and Daughters”

“Well, Ron and Ira wanted us to look at more resumes for actors who could play Ziyal, so … “

After rescuing Sisko and Co., Worf and Martok (on board Martok’s Bird of Prey) take on a mission to defend a convoy, with five new crew members, including Worf’s estranged son Alexander (Marc Worden) who’s a substandard warrior, to say the least. Meanwhile, as Kira starts planning her new resistance, Dukat brings his daughter Ziyal back to DS9 from Bajor, where she’d been since “Call to Arms”. Alexander struggles to adapt to life as a warrior, but eventually wins over the crew and becomes, like Worf, part of the House of Martok. Kira, again, feels herself getting too close to accepting Dukat — this time, by trying to be involved in Ziyal’s life — and eventually pulls back, saddening Ziyal.

Why it’s important

This one just barely made the tapestry. It’s by far the weakest of the six-episode arc, but the return of Ziyal is really, really important going forward (as we’ll discuss in further reviews). To a much lesser extent, the continued bond between Worf and Martok is important, too. But then there’s the Alexander matter …

“I’m the fourth actor to play Alexander — but I can pull off whiny with the best of them!”

What doesn’t hold up

Alexander, of course, is one of Trek’s least popular characters. As a child in TNG, he rarely contributed much and too often was not present when he should have been (shouldn’t there have been two crazy “de-evolved” dinosaurs running around the Enterprise in “Genesis”?). The character was mentioned in passing (and seen in a photo) when Worf joined the DS9 crew, but he was explained away as being happier with Worf’s adopted parents on Earth. And, really, the creators should have left it there. Bringing him back here just makes no sense.

For one thing, how is Alexander old enough to serve in the Klingon Defense Force? He was apparently the result of Worf and K’Ehleyr knocking boots back in “The Emissary”, which occurred in 2365, and we first met him in “Reunion” in 2367. This episode takes place in 2374, so, at most, he would be 8. The creators apparently explained this away by saying Klingons age faster. While I find that highly, highly questionable, I probably could shrug it off if the payoff here was worth it.

There’s also the really goofy idea that the commander and first officer on a Klingon ship wouldn’t know the names of the crew replacements before they showed up on the ship. Keep in mind that Martok’s ship and the Klingon cruiser carrying the replacements were flying in formation for early in the episode. Wouldn’t the cruiser send the names over — thus negating the “reveal” of Alexander?

And, frankly, how could the Klingon Defense Force send someone so unqualified to serve in the military? A mistake by Alexander could have easily resulted in the death of fellow soldiers or defeat to the Dominion. I know the idea is that the Federation and the Klingons are somewhat desperate, but they wouldn’t have been THAT desperate.

Finally, the episode ends in a laughable way, considering what we see of Alexander going forward. Worf agrees to make him a warrior and Martok brings him into his house. And, then, Alexander goes back to Alexander land, showing up only once more and being mentioned in passing another time. As was typical of so many Worf/Alexander shows on TNG, the verbal commitment made by the two of them here results in nothing.

So, I ask again, what the hell was the point of bringing the character back?

How do you spell “over the top”? Z-I-Y-A-L.

Final thoughts

The stuff on the station is much stronger in this episode. It cements the idea that Dukat takes so much of his own self-worth from the approval of others (notably Kira) while also being an amazing opportunist. His move to give Ziyal the dress Kira had returned was almost too perfect.

That leaves Ziyal, who’s really an interesting character in that she routinely takes me to the edge of what I can take. She seems far too accepting — she’s willing to forgive Dukat for nearly killing her back in “By Inferno’s Light” — while also believably conveying the idea that she’s very much alone, aside from Dukat and Kira. Melanie Smith occasionally goes overboard with the “happy Ziyal” stuff (see above) but she does a good job of portraying the character.

Lastly, we see Kira, Odo, Jake and Quark discussing the new resistance in a public place at the beginning of this episode. It’s really the first sign of the ridiculousness of Kira’s new resistance and it’s lack of proper discretion.

Coming next week …

Odo’s loyalties are tested. Again.

“Rocks and Shoals”

“I know! Two Ferengi episodes a year?”

Sisko and Co., chased by Jem’Hadar ships after the events of the previous episode, crash land on an uncharted planet with little hope of rescue. Meanwhile, Kira and Odo are adjusting — too well — to life aboard occupied DS9. After a vedek publicly hangs herself to protest the Dominion sending Vorta facilitators to Bajor, Kira decides to form a new resistance. Back on the planet, Sisko and Co. encounter a group of Jem’Hadar led by an injured Vorta, Keevan (Christopher Shea). The Vorta, who has run out of ketracel white to feed the Jem’Hadar, manipulates Sisko into killing the Jem’Hadar — who know they’re walking into a trap but accept it as part of blind loyalty to the Dominion. Kevan surrenders himself afterward and provides a transmitter our heroes can likely repair and use to escape.

Avery Brooks in the moment when he demanded at least one totally superfluous and unnecessary chance to sing in an episode before the series ended.

Why it’s important

The events on the planet, while compelling, really aren’t that tapestry worthy. They show how bad and ugly the war is and can get, but we saw a lot of that in “A Time to Stand”.

Events on the station are more important, as Kira’s decision to oppose the Dominion — despite Sisko’s advice in “Call to Arms” — is a key domino going forward. There’s some goofiness with the resistance, as noted below. But the decision to create a resistance cell is significant.

Random vedek, one of like three Bajorans other than Kira and Kai Winn to get a speaking role in DS9’s final two seasons.

What doesn’t hold up

The big conceit, of course, is that Sisko’s crew would just happen to crash on an uncharted world so close to a Dominion team that did the same thing. Keep in mind that the Jem’Hadar seen here aren’t the ones who were chasing Sisko to start the episode. This was totally random — which is hard to swallow.

Beyond that, it’s weird that the only Bajoran we see consulting Kira here or going forward is the random vedek. Where’s Kai Winn? Where’s First Minister Shakaar? This actually ties into my biggest complaint about the otherwise stellar six-episode arc, so now’s as good as time as any to bring it up …

After Kira forms her resistance cell, it’s made up of Odo, Rom, Leeta and Jake (and Quark, to a point). It makes sense that all of them would be involved — but where the hell are the other Bajorans? It’s just inexplicable that none of the other adult Bajorans on the station — all of whom would have remembered the first Cardassian occupation, which was going on six years prior to this episode — would have opposed a new Cardassian occupation, even if it was kinder and gentler and even if their government was OK with it. By this point in DS9, Bajorans other than Kira, Leeta (sort of) and (later) Kai Winn essentially become red shirts. It’s really a shame, because so much time was used (mostly successfully) early in the series establishing the species.

Final thoughts

This is probably as down and dirty as DS9 got with actual combat episodes, other than “The Siege of AR-558” in the seventh season. It might be Avery Brooks’ best showing as Sisko, as he really does a great job conveying Sisko’s struggle with a very difficult decision. Brooks was probably the most inconsistent actor who played a captain in Star Trek, but he also achieved some of the highest highs, as he did here. For a low, watch his breakdown in the totally overrated “Far Beyond the Stars” or his over-the-top performance in “For the Uniform”.

Nana Visitor also excels in this episode, and the two shots of her looking in the mirror are quite effective. It’s believable that Kira would have adhered to Sisko’s advice up until this point and that she would break with it. Visitor, one of Trek’s most underrated actors, nails it as Kira in this one.

Oh, and faithful readers might wonder if we’re planning to review the entire DS9 war arc that starts the sixth season. The answer, after much thought, is yes. DS9 gets into more episodic fair again soon, but these six episodes are all very significant.

Coming later this week …

Worf continues his work as the galaxy’s worst father.

“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.