Category Archives: Dominion

“Apocalypse Rising”

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Starfleet’s worst thought-out  undercover operation. We hope.

With a war raging between the Federation and the Klingons, Sisko is assigned the task of exposing the Gowron Changeling, mentioned in “Broken Link”. Sisko takes Worf, O’Brien and Odo (who’s still smarting from becoming a human) and they masquerade as Klingons participating in a ceremony deep in the Empire after being transported there in Dukat’s Bird of Prey from “Return to Grace”. Just as Sisko’s about to use a new prototype device to determine that Gowron’s a Changeling, General Martok (J.G. Hertzler, seen in “The Way of the Warrior”) stops them. In a cell, Martok tells them he’s suspected that Gowron’s a Changeling and offers to help them kill him (the device has been destroyed). As Worf fights Gowron, Odo figures out that Martok’s actually the Changeling and exposes him. The Martok Changeling is killed and Gowron agrees to begin peace talks. Odo, with some of his self-worth restored, goes back to his life on DS9.

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One of the most, ahem, “fortified installations in the Empire”.

Why it’s important

The beginning of the short war with the Klingons is significant, as is the end of that war (it drags on for a few more episodes, but the lead up to ending it starts here) as is the establishment of a relationship between Sisko and Gowron. That comes into play in a major way later in the season.

Odo, again, plays a major role in interstellar matters. If he hadn’t exposed the Martok Changeling, Worf would have likely killed Gowron and the war would have continued — leaving the Alpha Quadrant ripe for conquest by the Dominion.

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“Yup. The creators had a few of these when they wrote this episode.”

What doesn’t hold up

This is a great time to bring up the issue of scope that we see in a lot of DS9’s final three seasons. Faithful readers, you’ll hear a lot from us on this topic, starting here.

It’s really hard to believe that Starfleet would have sent Sisko, Worf, Odo and O’Brien on this mission. Even if you figure Sisko and Odo have a great deal of experience with Changelings — and Worf, of course, has a great deal of experience with Klingons — the four of them would have just been too recognizable. It’s actually laughable that they thought changing Worf’s hair would be even close to enough to make him look different.

Why is this a matter of scope? In early DS9, it made sense for Sisko to be in the middle of everything because the DS9 staff was small and its sphere of influence was over a relatively small area. But, here, we’re dealing with a war that could shape the face of the Alpha Quadrant — at a place that’s quite far from DS9. There’s just no way that Starfleet wouldn’t have had some commandos or spies or SOMEONE better equipped than 1) a very recognizable captain 2) a very recognizable Klingon 3) an emotionally fragile recently turned human and 4) an engineer whose abilities had no real value here. Why Dax didn’t go instead of O’Brien is another matter …

Beyond that, it’s kind of ridiculous how easy it was for Sisko and Co. to get into the Klingon installation. Wouldn’t there have been sensors to detect three human life signs in a ceremony where only Klingons were supposed to be in attendance? I know a big deal is made about Dukat’s efforts to get their names into the ceremony, but still. And, really, there’s the whole language thing (which I normally don’t bring up, but is key here) and the idea that Sisko and Co. talk so openly about their true identities with so many people in earshot. Klingons are known to be very paranoid — to the point where they’re described as “obsessive” about blood screenings.

Final thoughts

Frankly, this episode revolves too much around the gimmick of Sisko’s team dressing like Klingons. The best parts of it occur on Dukat’s Bird of Prey and in the prison cell with the Martok Changeling.

It’s also somewhat disappointing that the war didn’t really end here. We see more Klingon stuff in “Nor the Battle to the Strong”, arguably DS9’s best use of Cirroc Lofton as Jake. On one hand, that’s DS9 doing its thing as the Trek series that best handled continuity. On the other, it makes the events in this episode a little less significant.

Coming up next week …

Keiko’s back and she’s even more annoying than usual … because she’s possessed. Maybe that’s why she’s been so annoying for so long!

“Broken Link”

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“This never happened on ‘Benson’.”

Odo gets all sick and Bashir is baffled. The crew figures that they need to take Odo back to the Founders, and it turns out they actually caused his illness as a way to make him come home and face the music for killing another Changeling (back in “The Adversary”). Sisko takes the Defiant to the Gamma Quadrant and allows the Jem’Hadar to pilot the ship to the Founders’ new, secret homeworld. Odo is in the Great Link for a while and emerges as a human, without the ability to shape shift. As he begins to struggle with his new existence back on the station at the end of the episode, he sees a transmission of Klingon Chancellor Gowron threatening war with the Federation and tells a shocked Sisko and Kira that he remembers (from his time in the link) that Gowron … is a Changeling.

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“Remember when we had that KLINGON CIVIL WAR?”

Why it’s important

Well, Odo’s role as someone torn between two worlds (really, two quadrants) was a major thread of the entire series. It was a big shock when he lost his shape-shifting abilities — and an even bigger shock when he told Sisko and Kira that Gowron was actually a Changeling infiltrator. But, actually, the creators quietly — or inadvertently — made the events here blow up in the Founders’ faces. Skip ahead a few graphs if you want to avoid spoilers …

In DS9’s final season, it’s learned that the Founders are dying of a mysterious disease. It’s later learned that a rogue Starfleet organization — which we’ll soon meet — infected Odo when he was at Starfleet headquarters in “Homefront”/”Paradise Lost”, and Odo subsequently infected the Founders.

Here’s where things get interesting. Odo almost certainly infected the Great Link when he was called to be judged in this episode. He doesn’t interact with any Changelings (that we know of) between “Paradise Lost” and “Broken Link.” He regains his shapeshifting abilities in “The Begotten”, but he doesn’t link with another Founder for at least another year or so. And, by that point, no ships were coming and going from the two quadrants, meaning Odo couldn’t have had the disease and passed it to another Changeling who would have carried it to the Gamma Quadrant. So, really, the only chance Odo had to infect the other Changelings was in “Broken Link”. It’s likely he was infected again, early in the sixth season, when he briefly colludes with the female Changeling (Salome Jens) while the Dominion occupied DS9.

Last point on this: The Changeling threat really seems to fade into the background after the middle of the fifth season — even though we’ve been told the Founders have been all over the Alpha Quadrant for years. While it’s never exactly stated, one wonders if those Founders stopped impersonating people because they got infected — and instead reverted to a more typical military campaign.

Anyway, the disease is a big key to the Federation winning the war, even if you discount my theory on why the Changeling threat faded away and simply figure that what happened in this episode caused the Founders to get sick and later provided Odo a  huge chip to end the war earlier than it would have otherwise.

Spoilers over. 🙂

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“So, tell me again why you all mimicked Odo’s hair and face?”

What doesn’t hold up

I guess I could question whether the Founders could really turn one of their own into a human. But the abilities of Changelings have always been pretty amazing. It’s incredible, for instance, how they can impersonate humanoids with such precision that they can out doctor Julian Bashir (which we see in season five) out-Klingon General Martok (as we also see in seasons four and five) and navigate the Defiant and understand its systems (as we saw in “The Adversary”). That Starfleet’s sensors can’t detect the difference between a Changeling and a human (or a Klingon, or whatever) has always been pretty amazing. I guess that means that Changelings can mimic internal organs while being scanned? Hmmmm …

So, sure. Maybe they can make Odo a solid and cause him to start deteriorating from the other side of the galaxy. Why not, I guess?

Otherwise, I kind of hate that Garak tries to set up Odo in this beginning of this episode. It’s quite odd that Garak would do this, and that a Bajoran woman would enlist his assistance in her attempt to go after Odo. It’s not appallingly bad. It’s just kind of bizarre.

Final thoughts

Props to the creators for a bit of continuity. Gowron mentions the Klingons’ claim to the Archanis system, mentioned way back in “Day of the Dove” on TOS. It’s a very small thing, but nods like that make Trek’s history much richer.

Otherwise, I really liked the moment between Quark and Odo as Odo walks through the promenade in his sickly state. It’s pretty clear that Quark and Odo are each other’s closest friend on the station (though the Kira/Odo stuff later changes that some) despite their rivalry. And, while I hated the Garak setup stuff, his presence on the Defiant to keep Odo occupied and his interaction with the female Changeling was vintage Garak — as was the classic exchange between Garak and Worf as Garak tries to use the Defiant’s weapons on the Founders’ homeworld.

Coming later this week …

Sisko, Worf, Odo and O’Brien go undercover … as Klingons? It happened, people.

“Homefront” and “Paradise Lost”

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The Defiant takes on the Enterprise-B. I mean, the Defiant takes on the Lakota. Definitely, the Lakota.

Part one: A bombing indicates the Changelings have reached Earth (thunderclap) and Sisko and Odo — with Jake in tow to visit Grandpa Sisko (Brock Peters) — head there to help Starfleet. Admiral Leyton (Robert Foxworth), Sisko’s former CO, appoints our buddy Benny to head Starfleet security on Earth. Then, power goes out across the planet, and everybody assumes it’s a Changeling plot. Leyton gets a previously hesitant Federation Council President Jaresh-Inyo (Herschel Sparber) to allow Starfleet to send troops across the planet as the Changeling paranoia reaches a fever pitch.

Part two: Sisko and Odo learn the power outage was actually caused by Starfleet cadets, on orders from Leyton, who wants more authority to defend Earth from the Changeling threat. Sisko calls the station and has Kira and Worf bring the Defiant to Earth, armed with evidence that some unexplained wormhole openings were faked by Leyton. Meanwhile, Sisko meets a Changeling impersonating O’Brien — further evidence that infiltrators are on the planet. Before the Defiant can arrive, Leyton has Sisko arrested, accusing him of being a Changeling. Leyton sends a Starfleet ship to stop the Defiant from arriving, and the two engage in a short battle. By this point, Sisko has escaped with Odo’s help and has a phaser on Leyton in the admiral’s office. With things about to go from barely lethal to really freaking lethal in the battle, Leyton orders his ship to stand down and is arrested. But he tells Sisko that he hopes they both don’t regret Sisko’s successful efforts to stop him. Sisko’s dad, representing the people of Earth or something, admits he’s terrified, but that life will go on. Sisko and company head back to DS9.

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“Lord, am I glad I didn’t have to be in ‘Move Along Home’.”

Why it’s important

This episode further escalates the “Changelings are everywhere” theme from “The Adversary”. It’s an interesting approach, in that the Changeling’s don’t actually cause the problems. But the fact that they’re around causes paranoia among the good guys that leads to some classic DS9 shades of gray. It’s a nice two-parter, even if it’s sort of a cheat. Had the Dominion really caused the power outage, you figure a fleet of Jem’Hadar ships would have arrived shortly thereafter to take advantage.

We also get a glimpse of the Founders’ thoughts on Odo’s actions in “The Adversary” when the Changeling impersonating Leyton in part one shows clear animosity toward Odo. There’s also the idea that Sisko is becoming a more important player in Starfleet and Federation matters.

Oh, and for as much crap as I’ve given Sisko for being insubordinate, he’s totally in the right on this one, whereas he’s been arguably in the right in the past.

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Admiral Cartwright, behind bars. Or, Joseph Sisko being overly dramatic. Your choice!

What doesn’t hold up

The biggest bit of goofiness happens in part two, when the Defiant arrives in time to actually make a difference. At most, a few days pass between the time Sisko contacts Kira and the showdown between the Defiant and the Lakota. It’s never explicitly stated where the showdown takes place, so it might have been a ways from Earth. But it was close enough where the Lakota could respond and where Leighton viewed it as a threat.

We get a glimpse in “The Search” that DS9 is maybe a week or so away from Earth — given a line from Jake — and that doesn’t quite fit the “edge of the frontier” billing and the idea that the Federation is quite large. But a few days from DS9 to Earth makes even less sense. We’ll continue to catalog the “It’s a Small Galaxy” problem DS9 will show us over the next few years. Voyager was guilty of that, too (along with so many other things).

Also, what exactly happened with the Changelings on Earth? We know there was at least one of them, and there were likely more, especially if the Changeling impersonating O’Brien was telling even a bit of the truth. Now, there is the matter of the disease, which we learn later was affecting the Changelings around this time. But wouldn’t the Founders on Earth — who likely weren’t linking with other Changelings, who weren’t infected en masse for at least a few months — have taken the opportunity to wreak some havoc?

The reason they didn’t, of course, is that doing so would have been too tumultuous, even for DS9. We’ll see a lot of this over the next few years, but “Homefront”/”Paradise Lost” is DS9’s biggest example of where rationalizing or retconning the buildup versus the end result doesn’t work at all.

Also, I’m again amazed — maybe even appalled — at the lack of preparation Starfleet and the DS9 crew, in particular have engaged in despite clear warnings of Changeling infiltrators. On Earth, Starfleet tests on Odo what level phaser setting would incapacitate a Changeling. This is a great idea, but one that should have been done WELL BEFORE this episode. Keep in mind that the looming threat of Changeling infiltrators predates even “The Die is Cast”, which happened about a year before this episode! This is another example of a scene used for exposition — it shows that the Changelings are really big threats to anyone who might have missed previous episodes — which makes Starfleet and Sisko look really dumb.

Last thing. These episodes do some big-time character retconning. Sisko, back in “Emissary”, was an officer whose career had apparently taken a downward turn. He was basically damaged goods (with reason) after his wife’s death at the Battle of Wolf 359. Essentially, his time on DS9 reinvigorates his career and gets him promoted, and that all made at least some sense.

But here, it sounds like he was always an officer on the way up. Leyton thinks very highly of him and he’s held in awe by Starfleet cadets. Keep in mind that this episode takes place after maybe three major incidents with the Dominion (in “The Jem’Hadar”“The Search” and “Starship Down”) only one of which was particularly successful. Granted, Sisko led the defense of the station against the Klingons, but that doesn’t seem like something that would impress the Dominion-crazy cadets or Leyton’s group enough to make Sisko almost James Kirk like in the eyes of Starfleet. At least, not based on what Sisko was less than two years earlier.

Final thoughts

What this episode probably does best is establish in tone the idea that the Dominion stuff is really messing with Starfleet and the Federation, putting the Roddenberry, early-TNG utopian stuff aside to deal with a particularly nasty foe. Some Trekkers hate DS9 because it took Trek in this direction, but I think it was probably inevitable. Keep in mind that some of the darker elements of DS9 — the Maquis, the Cardassian war — were actually part of TNG in the final few seasons. In other words, there’s only so much you can do with franchise centered around a conflict-free civilization.

We also see some great battle scenes in “Paradise Lost” between the Defiant and the Lakota, and we understand Worf’s role on the station. Essentially, he’s second in command of the Defiant and third in command of DS9. Which makes sense, but is very interesting

Coming later this week …

Gul Dukat goes rogue … with Kira’s help?

“The Way of the Warrior”

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Damn, Gina.

A fleet of Klingon ships appears at DS9, motives unclear. Sisko’s not sure what to do, so he asks Starfleet to let him borrow our old buddy Worf to figure out what the Sto-Vo-Kor is up. Worf has been on extended leave since Will Riker got the Enterprise-D destroyed and is now considering leaving Starfleet. On the station, he learns that the Klingons are planning to invade Cardassia because they think the civilian leaders who have taken over Cardassia — after the fall of the Obsidian Order — are actually Changelings. Starfleet won’t back the invasion, so Chancellor Gowron (Robert O’Reilly) ends the alliance between the two powers and asks Worf to join him. Worf refuses — setting himself up to be a pariah again — and Sisko works with Gul Dukat to save the Cardassian leaders. Sisko gets the Cardassians to DS9, but a large Klingon fleet attacks, only to be met with upgraded station weapons Starfleet set up in anticipation of a Dominion attack. A crazy battle ensues, but Sisko and Worf eventually convince Gowron to back off. Unfortunately, the Klingons were able to seize several Cardassian colonies, making them bigger players in the region. Worf, without a ship or empire to return to, decides to stay on the station, as the new strategic operations officer. Oh, and DS9 isn’t going anywhere, or something.

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“Hmmm. Well, this certainly beats ‘Voyager’.”

Why it’s important

Well, let’s see. A few things happened in this episode, didn’t they?

1) The Klingons start a war with the Cardassians and become entrenched in the area. The war further destabilizes a faltering Cardassia.

2) The Federation-Klingon alliance — which was in place for more than two decades, possibly more — ends. And it sets up conflict between the two powers.

3) The Dominion threat is further shown, especially in the way the threat of Changeling infiltrators has caused paranoia in the Alpha Quadrant. While the Cardassian leaders are found to be the genuine articles — at least, as far as the blood test thing goes — we learn later that one of the key Klingon leaders behind the invasion is actually a Changeling.

4) We see that DS9 is no longer just a key strategic outpost. It’s a FORTIFIED battle station able to defend itself against dozens of ships. Given the crumbling station the Federation inherited back in “Emissary”, the evolution is significant. It’s also somewhat hard to swallow given some comments we heard in “The Search” about the difficulty in defending the station, given its power supply and stationary nature. But, it’s nice to know that Sisko has more to repel an attack than the Defiant and three runabouts.

5)  And, of course, there’s the addition of Worf. Worf’s presence on DS9 in this episode is important, but his actions there in the seventh season change the fate of the entire empire and really, the Alpha Quadrant and maybe more. We’ll discuss that in later reviews.

"I don't agree, old man. I think this knife did a great job on my haircut."
“I don’t agree, old man. I think this knife did a great job on my haircut.”

What doesn’t hold up

The battle at the end of the episode was one of DS9’s high points, but it also is kind of odd. The station’s torpedoes were capable of destroying entire Birds of Prey with one shot! That runs counter to everything we’ve seen in previous Trek, when ships could usually take a hit or two before the shields went down.

Also, where the hell is Starfleet security chief Michael Eddington in this episode? I’m guessing the guest budget was at its limit, but not having Eddington around (or even hearing his name, which would have been pretty easy to work in during the battle) when the Klingons board the station doesn’t make a ton of sense. And we see Eddington in later episodes, so we know he hasn’t been transferred.

This episode is a good example — though not the first — of something we see a lot of in latter DS9: It seems like getting to DS9 from just about anywhere in the Alpha Quadrant doesn’t take much time. And that really doesn’t make sense given the idea that the station was set one of Starfleet’s most remote posts. The initial marketing for DS9 was that the station was “on the edge of the final frontier”! Check that clip, people. It’s hilarious. Apparently, O’Brien and Quark were the intended stars of DS9 … ?

Frankly, it’s hard to believe that Worf could have made it to the station in time to help Sisko. Before his arrival, he was at a Klingon monastery. So, either that monastery was really close to Bajor (which seems unlikely) or the Klingon fleet took forever to gather at DS9.

Which begs another question: Why did the Klingons gather at DS9 in the first place? They didn’t formally ask the Federation for help, so why not simply gather (under cloak) in some place they wouldn’t be spotted on their way to Cardassia? The only explanation is the Changeling in the Klingon upper ranks stopped at DS9 purposefully to try to pull the Federation and the Empire apart. But even that doesn’t make a ton of sense.

Final thoughts

This was probably the biggest “event” in DS9’s history. Even the final episodes weren’t promoted in the way the addition of Worf and the renewed tensions with the Klingons, as seen here, were. Also, this episode really set the standard for space battles — topping even “The Die is Cast”. It’s a remarkable episode as it weaves in so many characters (Dukat, Garak, Gowron) and threads from DS9’s past (or Trek’s past, in the case of Worf). Worf’s addition to the cast, as we’ll see, really worked pretty well, even if it marginalized Kira some in the fourth and fifth seasons.

Coming next week …

We learn that Admiral Cartwright from “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” is actually Sisko’s father and Leah Brahms from TNG is now a Starfleet commander. Weird, wild stuff, folks.

“The Adversary”

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“Oh, yeah? Well, all the male Changelings wear dresses.”

Newly promoted Captain Sisko is ordered by Ambassador Krajensky (Lawrence Pressman) to take the Defiant to the Tzenkethi border as a show of strength. Turns out the Tzenkethi are another race of bad guys with whom the Federation had a previously unmentioned war (boo, creators) and Kranensky says some new instability within their government has Starfleet worried. On the way, O’Brien discovers sabotage, and it turns out Krajensky is actually a Changeling infiltrator. The crew must hunt out the Changeling, who could be impersonating any of them, as the ship is on course for a Tzenkethi settlement, programmed to attack and likely start a war. As O’Brien regains computer control at the last minute — preventing the attack — Odo fights with the other Changeling, who dies in the struggle. But before he dies, he tells Odo, “It’s too late. We’re everywhere,” something Odo conveys to a shocked and horrified Sisko right before the credits roll.

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The newly minted Captain Benjamin L. “Blatant Insubordination” Sisko. Oh, and probably the only photo on our site where Sisko will have a beard and hair on the top of his head!

Why it’s important

This is the second instance in which a Changeling infiltrator attempts to destabilize the Alpha Quadrant. It doesn’t work this time, but it sets the stage for a lot of seasons four and five. It partly motivates the Klingon paranoia we see in “The Way of the Warrior”, in which a government change on Cardassia can only be justified to the Klingons as the work of Changelings.

For Odo, the events here set in motion his eventual fall from grace among the Founders and his punishment at the end of season four. Odo’s relationship with the Founders is one of the key undercurrent of the series.

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Pretty much sums up Starfleet’s ability to stop Changeling infiltrators. Thank goodness for Section 31!

What doesn’t hold up

It’s hard to believe that Starfleet and the DS9 crew in particular hadn’t put more thought into Changeling infiltrators — particularly after the events of “The Die is Cast”. Assuming Odo and Garak told Sisko what the Changeling impersonating Colonel Lovok told them, everyone should have realized a Changeling spy was a good possibility at really any time. The idea of blood screenings was a good one, but it should have been something the crew thought of before this episode.

Bigger picture, it’s really annoying that Starfleet was at war with yet another space empire in the few years before the events of second-generation Trek. Sisko was involved in the war — we learn that here and later — meaning that the conflict was within the past couple of decades. As noted during our review of “The Wounded”, this is an annoying trope of Star Trek, particularly compared with the high-sounding talk during early TNG about a mostly peaceful Federation.

Worse is the fact that the Tzenkethi are never heard from again! Here’s this big, bad space empire relatively close to DS9 — otherwise, why send the Defiant on this mission? — that is significant enough in military force that it can wage a war that the Federation really fears. And yet, when the Federation, the Klingons, the Romulans, the Dominion, the Cardassians and the Breen are involved in a major interstellar war in DS9’s final two seasons, the Tzenkethi are apparently just cool to sit back and watch. That, my friends, is especially weak sauce. The Tzenkethi aren’t even among the powers who sign non-aggression pacts with the Dominion (among the likes of the Miradorn and the Tholians).

It feels like this episode should have been about the change of government on Cardassia, which we see in “The Way of the Warrior”. That would have made a LOT more sense, as it would have explained Kira and Odo’s presence on the mission — the Bajorans would have an active interest in Cardassian turmoil — and it would have made geographic sense. Sending the Defiant to “show the flag”, as Sisko puts in, along the Cardassian border makes sense, based on everything we had seen on DS9 for three seasons. Hell, it’s hard to believe Starfleet would have been cool with Sisko taking the Defiant and the entire senior staff on the mission we see here, given everything we know, and leaving the station and Bajor undefended and understaffed.

Speaking of which, why didn’t Sisko do anything to verify Krajensky’s orders before leaving the station? Keep in mind that the entire mission was inspired by what the Changeling verbally told Sisko. Couldn’t Sisko have checked to make sure that the alleged coup was actually happening? Keep in mind that the Changeling impersonating Krajensky doesn’t tell Sisko to maintain radio silence or anything similar.

Final thoughts

This is probably the weakest of all of DS9’s season finales. It’s not a terrible action outing, but the plot is just too goofy to make much sense — even if the Odo stuff is extremely consequential. Sometimes, episodes are good enough to look past some flimsy logic. But not here.

Beyond that, I guess what we see later indicates that the Changeling whom Odo killed was really just exaggerating. It’s true that Changelings impersonate some pretty important Alpha Quadrant people in the fourth and fifth seasons, but “everywhere” is a stretch. If they were “everywhere”, they didn’t really cause that much damage — or, they were somehow stopped from doing so in a lot of places. I do have a theory on that, but it’ll have to wait. Let’s just say it has to do with something called “Section 31”.

On the other hand, we learn later that the Founders’ hold on the Jem’Hadar is somewhat overstated. So, maybe the Dominion is just really good at fear mongering/propaganda?

Coming later this week …

A TNG character joins DS9. Can Bashir get along with the irascible Dr. Pulaski? Will Nog and Jake look up to Wesley Crusher?