Category Archives: Dominion

“Improbable Cause” and “The Die is Cast”

“Yippee! Our amazing plan is working! There’s no way that the Dominion would actually have defenses in place for the homeward of its leaders!”

Part one: Garak’s tailor shop blows up and Odo begins looking into who did it and why. Turns out the Romulans tried to kill Garak and that several former Obsidian Order colleagues of Enabaran Tain (see “The Wire”) have been killed. Odo and Garak head to see Tain, where they’re intercepted by a Romulan warbird. Tain takes them prisoner and explains that the Obsidian Order and the Romulan Tal Shiar (a similar organization we met in TNG) are working together to eradicate the Founders. Tain tried to kill Garak to eliminate any old loose ends — the mission will mean the end of Tain’s retirement — but Garak and Tain decide to work together again, putting Garak back in the fold and making Odo a prisoner.

Part two: Garak is tasked by Tain and Romulan Colonel Lovok (Leland Orser) to interrogate Odo using a device that won’t allow him to revert to his liquid form. Meanwhile, Sisko and Co. learn of Tain’s plan (after a fleet of 20 starships head through the wormhole) and try to get Starfleet to let them intervene, mostly to save Odo. Starfleet balks, but Sisko takes the Defiant to the Gamma Quadrant anyway. Meanwhile, Garak is basically killing Odo, who only breaks when he admits he still longs to be around other Changelings, despite what he knows about them (a fact Garak doesn’t tell Tain). At the Founders’ planet, Tain’s fleet begins an attack but learns quickly that the Dominion knew they were coming — and a fleet of 150 Jem’Hadar ships emerges and starts firing. Lovok is actually a Changeling who helped orchestrate the whole thing and lets Odo and Garak escape. The Defiant shows up just in the nick of time and pulls them off a runabout that’s under attack. Garak returns to his tailorship, but with a new quasi-friendship with Odo.

“Wow, Renee. And I thought I had to spend too much time with the makeup artists … “

Why it’s important

This is the first time we see a Changeling impersonating a key Alpha Quadrant figure to destabilize the main powers there. It’s interesting that Lovok ominously tells Odo and Garak that his mission would effectively neutralize the Cardassians and the Romulans — leaving only the Klingons and the Federation as threats.

Lovok was actually wrong about the Romulans — who seem to be OK without the Tal Shiar — but he was right about the Cardassians. The loss of the Obsidian Order destabilizes the empire to the point where the civilian leaders take power by the start of season four. This leads the Klingons to think the Cardassian leaders are Changeling infiltrators, prompting the Klingon invasion of Cardassia. When the Federation opposes the invasion, the Klingons end the alliance with the Federation, leading to a brief war between the two former allies. Meanwhile, the Klingon attacks and the continuation of the Maquis threat wreaks so much havoc inside Cardassia that Gul Dukat leads the Empire in joining the Dominion in season five. And the subsequent Dominion attacks on Klingon targets within Cardassian space prompts the Klingons and the Federation to become BFFs again to fight the Dominion.

“Oh, yeah. We totally introduced you back in ‘The Search’ but haven’t seen you since. How ya been?”

What doesn’t hold up

This two-parter is one of the highlights of DS9. But like “The Search” two-parter, there are a lot of logical issues — most of which are in part two.

1) It’s hard to believe that Tain and Co. wouldn’t have thought that the Founders had SOME sort of defenses for their planet. I know that Kira and Odo didn’t note any in “The Search”, but the Founders could have added them after their homeworld was discovered, or Tain should have considered the possibility that they did. And wasn’t it possible — and wouldn’t Tain have figured — that maybe Kira and Odo simply didn’t identify the defenses at the planet?

2) Part two also shows Sisko and Co. going rogue again (which we saw in “The Search”). Sisko heads to the Gamma Quadrant chiefly to save Odo, against Starfleet’s express orders. It’s cool that he’s loyal to his officers, but he very well could have prompted further Dominion attacks by his actions.

Now, Sisko’s stated rationale could have been smarter. Maybe, he could have made an argument about Odo’s potential importance to the Federation. Years later, Odo would help end the Dominion war earlier than it would have ended otherwise. Even at this point in the series, Sisko could have argued to Starfleet that keeping a loyal Changeling in the fold had value. Hell, Sisko could have simply told Starfleet he wanted to save Odo for the above reason — even if he really wanted to do it out of loyalty.

3) And, as is custom in Star Trek, the admiral who gave Sisko the order is WAY too cool with shrugging off what happened.

4) Finally, the Lovok Changeling who allowed Odo and Garak to leave doesn’t seem too worried about them after they’re on the runabout. If the Defiant hadn’t swooped in, the Jem’Hadar would have killed Odo (and Garak). So the whole business of “no Changeling has ever harmed another” is sort of flimsy. What would the folks in the water cooler in the Great Link have said to the Lovok Changeling had the Jem’Hadar killed Odo?

5) Oh, and whatever happened to the T’Rul, the Romulan sent to DS9 to watch the cloaking device on the Defiant in “The Search”? Her introduction is a big deal in those two episodes, and then, she’s gone.

Part two was written by Ronald D. Moore. As noted in our previous review, Moore’s contribution to DS9 are similar to much of the rebooted “Battlestar Galactica”, which Moore led. In other words, this is compelling drama with good character moments that often rely on flimsy logic.

Final thoughts

I won’t say this very often, but the payoff and performances in this episode really are worth the logical goofiness. Garak and Tain have great chemistry — and this episode really cements Garak’s role as one of DS9’s most important characters. Beyond that, the episodes include some great Odo stuff AND part two has the great payoff of the best battle scenes Trek had done to that point. After this episode, the ship-to-ship battles on DS9 (and on Voyager, which had just premiered) really improved.

This two-parter is one of DS9’s absolute peaks and is incredibly noteworthy in the Trek tapestry. It’s a definite watch for DS9 fans.

Last point, I’m glad they brought back Starfleet security chief Michael Eddington (Kenneth Marshall). It was annoying that he went unseen after his big introduction in “The Search”, but he’s an important character going forward, as we’ll see.

Coming next week …

More Dominion intrigue as Starfleet shows how much they can’t handle Changeling infiltrators.

“The Search”

“We searched the stars, and found none like ourselves … and then we created an oppressive empire bent on subjugating solids.”

Part one: With the Dominion threat looming, Sisko brings the Defiant, a prototype Starfleet warship, to DS9. The ship has a cloaking device (on loan from the Romulans) and Sisko’s mission is to find the Dominion’s Founders and work out a deal. On board the Defiant in the Gamma Quadrant, Odo starts acting strangely and feels an odd pull toward the Omarion Nebula. As it gets closer to finding the Founders, the Defiant loses a short battle with the Jem’Hadar. Odo and Kira escape in a shuttle to find their way to the nebula … where Odo meets a group of people who look just like him. After years of searching, our favorite shapeshifter is home.

Part two: Back on DS9, Sisko and Co. (minus Kira and Odo) are told that their mission succeeded and the Dominion is set to establish an alliance with all the great Alpha Quadrant powers, minus the Romulans, for some reason. Meanwhile, Odo learns about his origins and finds that his people are xenophobes who distrusts solids. He was sent out, he’s told, as a group of 100 infant “Changelings” and wasn’t expected to return for hundreds of years. Back on the station, Sisko and Co. decide the treaty with the Dominion would give up too much — especially after they learn the Federation is going to pull out of the Bajoran system. The group steals a runabout and collapses the entrance to the wormhole. Back on the planet, Kira and Odo discover our heroes being held captive — and learn the whole ordeal on DS9 was a simulation to test their responses. Then, it’s learned that Odo’s people are actually the Founders(!). The female Changeling (Salome Jens) who’s been instructing Odo allows the group to leave … but warns that the Dominion won’t be as lenient next time.

“Benjamin, I think it’s time that we all act like we know better than everyone else in the Federation and blow up the nice wormhole aliens you met way back when.”

Why it’s important

You want big dominoes — then this two-parter is for you, even if the ending to part two is sort of a cheat.

The introduction of the Defiant (which is pretty badass) and other items spawning from Sisko’s return — a relationship with the Romulans regarding the Dominion, the introduction of Michael Eddington (Kenneth Marshall), Starfleet’s new security chief at DS9 — shows the magnitude of what happened in “The Jem’Hadar”. DS9 had a lot of turning points, but the first part of “The Search” is as big as any in the series — even without the introduction of Odo’s people. And, of course, they’re not just Odo’s people. The Changelings turn out to be the Founders of the Dominion! Talk about a jaw-dropping couple of hours (or, couple of 45 minutes).

DS9 was the best Trek series at showing consequences. Sometimes, the creators stacked the deck too much against our heroes only to have to backpedal — the threat of Changeling infiltrators in the middle seasons — a threat that largely passed — is the best example. But, what we see here is really compelling storytelling that was ahead of its time. What we start seeing in the third season of DS9 — and particularly, in the fifth, sixth and seventh seasons — was more akin to the great serial dramas of the 2000s than the episodic fare of the 1980s and 1990s.

The super cool starship Defiant.

What doesn’t hold up

Anyone who loved the rebooted “Battlestar Galactica” will love the events of these episodes and will likely see similar flaws. Not shockingly, Ronald D. Moore, the originator of the new BSG, wrote the teleplay for part one. Like BSG, these two episodes are compelling, but not without their shares of logical flaws and outright goofiness. A quick list:

1) Sisko’s mission is to reach out to the Founders and create a dialog — essentially, a peace mission. To do so, they send him on a ship that is armed to the teeth. Not exactly an olive branch. Meanwhile, the ship is barely operational! This is something that we saw a lot of in the Trek movies — the Enterprise would be sent on a key mission despite not having a full crew or being fully operational — and it was as goofy then as it is here.

2) Part one begins with Kira talking with the senior staff (minus Sisko) about how they could defend the station against a Dominion attack. It’s necessary for exposition (I guess) but it seems odd to have the convo apparently two months after the events of “The Jem’Hadar”. What had they been doing for two months? It’s not weird that the conversations were ongoing — but the dialog would seem to indicate that they took forever to reach pretty obvious conclusions.

3) Things actually get stranger in part two. While the stuff on the Changeling planet (until the end) is fine, the “events” on the station are really strange. Sisko (who’s not even a captain, let alone an admiral) is just too annoyed about being kept out of the loop during the “peace negotiations”. Not only is he low-ranking (relatively speaking) he was in a shuttle with a Bashir for most of the talks. Would it even have made sense to just throw him in?

4) Then, as the Dominion’s experiment continues, it’s hard to believe that Sisko and Co. would go as rogue as they did. O’Brien getting beat up by the Jem’Hadar was clearly shocking — as was the murder of the Romulan T’Rul (Martha Hackett). But the crew acts like they are a helluva lot smarter than their superiors. At this point in the series, Sisko’s connection to the Bajoran faith is still tenuous — he only begrudgingly accepts the Emissary stuff — so it’s not totally out of the question that he’d blow up the wormhole. But the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.

5) Then, there’s the whole business of how the Dominion left the Defiant in orbit (and possibly repaired it?) allowing our heroes to leave and (apparently?) return to DS9 after Odo gets the female Changeling to let them go. The Defiant was “dead in space” at the end of part one, according to Odo, so did the Dominion repair it? But more than that, did the Dominion expect to let Sisko and Co. return after the experiment? Shouldn’t they have been tearing the ship apart to learn about Starfleet’s new defensive capabilities? It’s not at all a stretch to say the Dominion hadn’t seen a ship like the Defiant before.

Final thoughts

As noted, this two-parter is entertaining but it’s just got a ton of logical issues. The Sisko and Co. being too big for their britches shows up later in season three — and we saw a touch of this at the beginning of season two when Sisko used the flimsiest excuse to remain on the station despite orders (and the Prime Directive) that should have kept him out of an internal Bajoran matter.

As DS9 progresses, Sisko’s role in Starfleet and Federation grows enough where it’s not hard to figure he could go on to some of the big things that he did. But, at this point, he’s two years off being stationed in a back alley of space as a mid-level administrator!

Coming later this week …

Enabaran Tain takes the fun to the Dominion.

“The Jem’Hadar”

Avery Brooks, Shit Just Got Real Face No. 5.

Sisko takes Jake on a trip to the Gamma Quadrant, and Quark and his nephew Nog (Aron Eisenberg) horn in on the fun. On a nearby planet, Sisko and Quark are taken captive by some nasty looking aliens called the Jem’Hadar, apparently the foot soldiers for the Dominion, a big, bad Gamma Quadrant empire first mentioned in passing earlier in season two. Meanwhile, a Jem’Hadar ship comes through the wormhole and a representative beams into Ops and tells Kira that the Dominion will no longer tolerate any travel to the Gamma Quadrant. Sisko will serve as an example of those who defy the Dominion. Starfleet sends the Galaxy-class Odyssey to DS9 and the ship and the two remaining runabouts go to retrieve Sisko’s party. Sisko and Quark — with the help of another captive, Eris (Molly Hagan) — have already escaped and are quickly retrieved (along with Jake and Nog). With the Odyssey and the runabouts retreating, a Jem’Hadar ship makes a suicide run at the Odyssey, destroying the ship and making it clear how far the Dominion is willing to go. Back on the station, it’s learned that Eris is actually a spy, and she beams away before she can be captured. With the Dominion apparently poised to attack, Sisko vows to be ready.

Could have been worse. The Odyssey could have been destroyed because the senior staff forgot they could remodulate the damn shields …

Why it’s important

As noted in the previous two reviews, the final third of DS9’s second season cements the station as a major galactic crossroads. With the Cardassians and the Maquis already nearby, the proximity to the wormhole now means DS9 will be the place of the first battle if and when the Dominion attacks (a point Sisko makes). DS9, which was a backwater of the galaxy when the series premiered, has become a very, very important place.

The introduction of the Dominion, the Jem’Hadar, the Founders (by name) and the Vorta (we learn later that Eris is a member of that race) are all huge events. With one exception (which we’ll address) everything that we see here mostly tracks with what we see over the next five seasons.

“Next time I say, ‘Let’s go to Bolivia’ … “

What doesn’t hold up

The creators made a very interesting choice in writing the Dominion’s motivations. Essentially, the Dominion says it will consider any further incursions in the Gamma Quadrant an act of war. Setting aside the actions taken by the Jem’Hadar before making these demands — capturing Sisko, destroying a Bajoran colony in the Gamma Quadrant, etc. — are the Dominion’s actions THAT different than another space-faring empire/organization declaring sovereign borders?

There are a couple ways that you can justify the Federation’s behavior, even if the creators (unfortunately) never bothered doing so. Considering that Alpha Quadrant races have been venturing into the Gamma Quadrant for two years without encountering the Dominion, we can assume that the Dominion’s territory doesn’t include the area right outside the wormhole. Indeed, later episodes indicate Starfleet knows the Dominion’s borders. So, is the idea that the Federation and other Alpha Quadrant races won’t abide by the Dominion’s warning because they don’t believe the claim is valid — as it’s overly broad?

That’s the only argument that really makes even a little sense. And keep in mind that the Dominion likely would have not started hostilities with the Federation if incursions through the wormhole had ceased. Now, perhaps you could argue that the Dominion later appears untrustworthy and would have attacked anyway. But, at this point in DS9, our heroes don’t know anything about the Dominion — and neither do we.

With that conceit pushed aside, there’s only one real problem with what we see here and what we see later. Eris, on board DS9 at the end of this episode, encounters Odo — and doesn’t seem to treat him as we later learn she should. Here’s why (spoiler alert) …

Next season, Odo learns that he is actually a Changeling, and Changelings are the Founders mentioned in this episode. In other words, the Changelings are the leaders of the Dominion. And we also learn later that the Jem’Hadar and the Vorta (of which, Eris is one) are bred to worship the Founders.

So, either Eris didn’t know that Odo was a Founder, or she had a great poker face — which doesn’t seem likely, considering the way Vorta almost instinctively fall all over the Founders in later seasons. One possibility is that the rest of the Founders, who are better shapeshifters than Odo, didn’t appear like Odo when they interacted with “solids” — and that all the Changelings we see going forward mirror Odo’s look. I suppose there are reasons they might do that — to make Odo feel a stronger connection, for example — but it’s never really explained.

Really, the answer is simpler. The creators either hadn’t decided to make Odo’s race the leaders of the Dominion before writing this episode OR they got sloppy later. Or both.

Final thoughts

This is another strong — and consequential — episode toward the end of DS9’s second season. But I can see why fans didn’t think DS9 fit in with Roddenberry’s vision. The series would be the first, and only, in Star Trek in which we see a full-scale war. Of course, that’s largely put in motion here.

Frankly, though, after three seasons of TOS (and, at this point, six movies) and seven seasons of TNG, the creators probably needed to do something beyond the standard exploration that we saw in the first two series. Otherwise, DS9 would have been old hat. Put another way, DS9 lived up to its premise — whether fans liked the actual premise or not. Voyager, the fourth series, notoriously tried to  have its cake and eat it, too, for seven years and essentially pissed all over its premise.

Coming next week …

Sisko and Co. gear up for the looming Dominion threat.