Category Archives: Klingon

“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.

“Call to Arms”

“Awww. Did Benjamin leave this for me because I took him into Klingon territory when we were still besties?”

As the Dominion continues to gain footing in the Alpha Quadrant, Sisko puts his foot down. The crew start placing mines around the wormhole to prevent more Dominion ships from entering the Alpha Quadrant and fortifying Cardassia. The Dominion responds and sends Vorta ambassador Weyoun (Jeffrey Combs) to DS9. Weyoun tells Sisko that unless the Federation removes the mines, the Dominion will take the station. Sisko refuses, leading to a battle at the station. The minefield is completed just in the nick of time, but Starfleet is forced to abandon DS9, which is taken over by Dukat, Weyoun and the Dominion — with Kira, Odo and Quark left behind. Then, Sisko, on board the Defiant (and Martok and Worf, on a Klingon ship) join a massive fleet of Federation and Klingon vessels, armed for war.

When Shelby said they'd have the fleet up and running within a year, she wasn't kidding.
When Shelby said they’d have the fleet up and running within a year, she wasn’t kidding.

Why it’s important

This is another instance in which the summary pretty much explains the episode’s importance. The long-simmering hostilities between the Federation and the Dominion finally boil over and war begins. While extended conflicts involving the Federation had occurred in the past, they had only been covered in dialog. With this episode, the DS9 creators set a course for two seasons of war that would really define DS9 and its contribution to Star Trek (aside from perhaps the spiritual stuff).

There’s also the quick bit about the Romulans signing a non-aggression pact with the Dominion, the Alpha Quadrant foothold that finally pushes Sisko over the edge. Of course, the Romulans’ place in the war is a huge, huge domino going forward …

The holy trinity of DS9 baddies … watches “Move Along Home” and “Ferengi Love Songs” and wonders what the hell the creators were thinking.

What doesn’t hold up

The big conceit of the episode is that Starfleet wouldn’t do more to fortify DS9, described by Sisko next season as “the key to the Alpha Quadrant”. In this episode, Starfleet’s resources are used on another mission. Hmmm.

Beyond that, I find it somewhat hard to believe that O’Brien, Dax and Rom are the only people who work to figure out a way to mine the entrance to the wormhole. It paints Starfleet, generally, as having a pretty weak bench and really lacking in foresight. Hell, why not bring in more engineers from the DS9 staff, even? Given that Rom’s considered an engineering genius at this point, I guess it’s OK that he’s there …

I’m also unclear as to how DS9 can just be taken over by the Dominion. A big part of this episode involves Sisko getting the Bajorans to sign a non-aggression pact with the Dominion, as Sisko doesn’t think he can protect Bajor in a war. That’s all well and good, but does signing a non-aggression pact allow the Dominion to take over Bajor’s only space station? Keep in mind that Sisko’s instructions didn’t — as far as we know — tell the Bajorans to let the Dominion do whatever it wanted. Starfleet was on the station at Bajor’s invitation. Was such an invitation offered to the Dominion?

There’s also the matter of Garak leaving with the Defiant at the end of the episode. While he would have almost certainly been put to death by Dukat had he stayed on the station, shouldn’t Garak have asked Sisko to join the crew before the absolute last moment? What if Sisko had remembered how Garak tried to use the Defiant to commit genocide back in “Broken Link” and simply kicked him off the ship? And, actually, who approved Garak coming on board before Sisko? I suppose it could have been Bashir, but it likely wouldn’t have been O’Brien or even Dax.

Oh, and finally, this episode, once and for all, shows that Starfleet consists of a LOT more vessels than was implied in TNG (where the loss of 40 ships was seen as a huge blow) or even early DS9. The fleet the Defiant joins at the end of the episode is MASSIVE. Keep in mind that this is the same year in which Starfleet lost a lot of ships to the Borg (in “Star Trek: First Contact”) and at least some to the Klingons. One possible explanation is that in preparation for the war and all the other conflicts, Starfleet recalled a bunch of vessels in deep space. But that’s just a theory that’s not backed by any dialog. And we know it takes YEARS to build individual starships. Maybe Starfleet pulled a bunch of ships from moth balls — which would explain why we see a lot of Miranda- and Excelsior-class vessels in the next two seasons. Again, though, that’s never actually stated.

Last, last point: Did Sisko leave the runabouts on the station? It’s interesting that the runabouts were deployed in anticipation of the Dominion attack (which never happened) in “By Inferno’s Light”. They might have come in handy in this episode — and it certainly would have made sense to not leave them behind. But during the attack, and when the Defiant and Martok’s ship leave, we see no runabouts.

Final thoughts

One character we finally get to talk about is Weyoun, who showed up in a few episodes before this but none that we considered tapestry worthy. Jeffrey Combs playing opposite of Marc Alaimo‘s Dukat (along with Casey Biggs‘ Damar) into next season is one of DS9’s high points, as they have great chemistry. Combs, of course, played a ton of different roles in Trek, but Weyoun was his most memorable.

There’s also the matter of Jake’s decision to stay on DS9. Jake was DS9’s most underused character, despite some good stuff here and there in episodes like “Nor the Battle to the Strong”,  “In the Cards” and (though Cirroc Lofton is only in part of it) “The Visitor”, which is DS9’s best episode. Making Jake a journalist and having him decide to stay on the station, without telling his father, was an interesting choice, but the results were mostly underwhelming, as we’ll discuss.

Frankly, it’s kind of amazing there are so many plot threads in this episode, many of which we’re not even mentioning here. “A Call to Arms” is extremely plot heavy, but it’s one of DS9’s finest hours. Definitely worth a watch for any fan.

Coming later this week …

The war, well, it’s not going well for our heroes.

“In Purgatory’s Shadow” and “By Inferno’s Light”

“Doctor, did you not get the memo about the new TPS reports — I mean, the new uniforms?”

Part one: Worf and Garak head to the Gamma Quadrant in a runabout after receiving a message from our old bud Enabaran Tain (Paul Dooley), assumed killed by the Dominion back in “The Die is Cast”. They stumble upon a huge fleet of Jem’Hadar ships and manage to get a message to DS9 before they’re captured. As Sisko starts readying the station for a Dominion attack — and loops in Gul Dukat, still apparently engaging in a private war with the Klingons — Worf and Garak are taken to a prison camp where Tain is being held, along with General Martok (J.G. Hertzler), who apparently had been replaced by a Changeling before we first met him in “The Way of the Warrior”. Even more surprising, Bashir is being held there(!) meaning he’s been replaced by a Changeling back on the station. Sisko decides to close the entrance to the wormhole — Starfleet’s not in a good position to fight a war — but the efforts are sabotaged (almost certainly by the Bashir Changeling) and as the credits roll … the Dominion fleet enters the Alpha Quadrant.

Part two: The Dominion fleet, takes a hard look at the station and then heads directly to Cardassia. Dukat follows them in his ship and tells a horrified Kira on the viewscreen that he has been in negotiations with the Dominion for months and Cardassia has … joined the Dominion. Shortly thereafter, Dukat announces that he intends to take back all of his people’s property — including DS9. A Klingon fleet limping back from Cardassia after getting beaten up by the Jem’Hadar stops at DS9 for assistance and Sisko gets Gowron (Robert O’Reilly) to agree to reinstate the alliance with the Federation and make a stand against the Dominion. Meanwhile in the prison camp, Worf is being repeatedly challenged by Jem’Hadar and Garak must overcome his claustrophobia to adjust the transmitter Tain used to send the message — Tain has died — to signal the runabout. He’s successful, and the prisoners escape, allowing Bashir to send a message to the station, allowing Sisko to figure out that the Bashir on the station is a Changeling. By this point, the Federation and Klingon fleets have been joined by a bunch of Romulan vessels, awaiting the Dominion attackers — and the Bashir Changeling has stolen a runabout with the idea of causing Bajor’s sun to explode, destroying the station and the fleet. Kira, on board the Defiant, is able to stop the Changeling, and the escapees from the prison camp make it home. As the episode ends, Dukat contacts Sisko, setting up the inevitable showdown between the two of them, and between the Federation and the Dominion.

The Dominion enters the Alpha Quadrant. Only took 2 1/2 years.

Why it’s important

Well, I’m not sure I even need to explain, given the summary. But the events of these two episodes set up the final 2 1/2 seasons of DS9. Much of the rest of the fifth season is about the lead up to what feels like an inevitable war and the final two seasons are about the war.

The sides of the conflict are drawn with the Cardassians and Dominion on one end and the Federation, Klingons and (later) the Romulans on the other. Remember that before this episode, the Federation was really tighter with the Cardassians than the Klingons, as the Federation was providing assistance to beleaguered Cardassia in the fourth and fifth seasons . This episode sets all of that on its head in a (mostly) satisfactory and compelling way.

It also sets up the Sisko/Dukat rivalry that is a major thread throughout the rest of DS9. Since the second season, Dukat had been a sort of strange bedfellow of the DS9 crew, even helping Sisko and Co. infiltrate Klingon space in “Apocalypse Rising”. Here, he becomes the series’ main villain. It was a bold choice that paints Dukat as the ultimate pragmatist and opportunist. Although I’m not a huge fan of where they take the character later, Dukat selling out to the Dominion to gain power is totally believable.

I didn’t get into it in the recap, which was long enough, but there’s also the evolving relationship between Garak and Ziyal (Melanie Smith, the third and final actor to play the character), which was a subplot back in “For the Cause” but really takes off here. Ziyal’s love for Garak (a sworn enemy of Dukat) is a big part of what happens over the course of the next season.

“Wait, you’re playing my daughter now? Well, OK. I’m Marc Alaimo. What’s your name?”

What doesn’t hold up

Buckle up. This is gonna be a long one.

Part one mostly works on its own — with one huge exception — though I’ve always wondered how Worf and Garak just happened to land at the same prison camp as Tain, Martok and Bashir. There’s a line in part two that sort of indicates the camp is just for Alpha Quadrant prisoners. But why would the Dominion do that? And, frankly, the prison camp itself is ridiculously lax. Shouldn’t there be some sort of surveillance? Also, why are the prisoners being held in the first place? There’s no indication that they’re being interrogated. I suppose there might be some value in them later …

But let’s talk about what I would consider DS9’s biggest continuity error, and possibly the biggest continuity error in all of Trek.

When we meet Bashir in the prison camp, he’s wearing the DS9 uniform we saw in the first four seasons and into the fifth. Essentially, it’s a mostly black jumpsuit with the Starfleet color differentiators (red for command, blue for medical, etc.) across the shoulders. Beginning in “Rapture”, the DS9 characters started wearing the updated versions (first seen in “Star Trek: First Contact”) which have grey across the shoulders and the color differentiators in the turtleneck undershirts. I know this isn’t the most exciting thing to discuss, but stay with me. That real Bashir is wearing the older uniform means we can fairly easily determine when Changeling Bashir first appeared on DS9 — before “Rapture”. And, people, boy does that cause some issues.

The Bashir Changeling was apparently on DS9 for four episodes, “Rapture”, “The Darkness and the Light”, “The Begotten” and “For the Uniform” (in which Alexander Siddig doesn’t appear). We only reviewed one of those episodes, but here’s a quick summary of what Changeling Bashir did in them:

— “Rapture”: Sisko starts having visions and needs Bashir’s help to save his life. So, the Changeling infiltrator would need extensive knowledge of human brains and medical abilities to fool everybody. Right.

— “The Darkness and the Light”: The only episode in which Changeling Bashir appears that isn’t eye-rolling in retrospect — assuming you buy the overall conceit that Changelings can act like anyone at anytime without raising suspicions.

“The Begotten”: An episode in which Changeling Bashir helps with the delivery of the O’Brien’s child (carried by Kira) and the recovery of an ill, infant Changeling who eventually dies and integrates into Odo to make Odo a Changeling again. This raises so many questions that I can’t even cover them all here. But holy hell …

Really, the creators just blew it here. They used the uniform thing as a way to help the audience distinguish between the two Bashirs. But that could have been done with Bashir wearing off-duty clothes in the prison camp, if it needed to be done at all. Big picture, the Changelings’ seemingly magic abilities to mimic anyone and anything were always a stretch, but the creators stretched them beyond belief here.

One other thing. Sisko mentions the recent “Borg attack” in this episode, an apparent allusion to “Star Trek: First Contact”. The stardate in that movie puts it much later in the season (small thing, I know) and we never hear anything about how Worf took the Defiant to Earth and helped, you know, save Earth. There’s also the bit about the Defiant being heavily damaged in that movie. We never hear about it needing repairs or how it returns to the station.

Part two is where things go even further off the rails because of problems within the episode as opposed to continuity with other episodes/movies. First, let’s talk about the renewal of the Federation/Klingon alliance.

Sisko, apparently, without any higher authority, just renews the treaty with Gowron. Now, Gowron is the leader of the Klingon Empire, but Sisko’s just a (relatively important) Starfleet captain. Could he really do what he did here?

Beyond that, the renewal is (apparently?) part of the Dominion’s larger plan. The Bashir Changeling stands by and lets it happen, perhaps with the idea that it would bring the Federation and Klingon fleets to DS9 to be destroyed. But it’s clear that only parts of both fleets show up. So, sure, the supernova would have wiped out a lot of ships (and the station) but it also would have renewed a power alliance that opposed the Dominion.

There’s also the bit about Changeling Bashir modifying a runabout to carry out his plan. I’m sorry, but if security was that lax — the runabout’s shields were upgraded and a protomatter device was installed! — then the Dominion could have defeated the Federation in about 20 minutes.

Then, there’s the prison camp stuff.

Let’s assume that Garak (and Tain, before him) really could use the old life support system near our heroes’ cell to send out a signal that the Dominion (apparently?) couldn’t detect. Why, in the HELL, did the Dominion LEAVE THE RUNABOUT PARKED NEAR THE CAMP?

I remember watching in 1997 and wondering earlier in the episode how the writers were going to pull off the escape. When the camera simply panned up from the camp to show the runabout, I believe I threw a remote at the television. Unless you figure that leaving the runabout was some sort of Dominion plot, there’s just no reason to do this. And even if it was a Dominion plot, how did Garak et. al know where the runabout was? Argh …

Lastly, we have Sisko’s amazing powers of deduction at the end of the episode. Consider that he’s standing in ops waiting for a major attack. There are Starfleet, Klingon and Romulan ships ready to fight and sensors are detecting enemy vessels. Then, a non-visual transmission from the Gamma Quadrant comes from Bashir (in part one, Sisko was skeptical that a similar transmission from Tain was genuine). Sisko, correctly, figures out that the Bashir on the station is a Changeling. But, but, but … how did he do that? Wasn’t it just as possible that the message from the Gamma Quadrant was a fake?

I suppose Sisko figured it out because the computer told him Bashir had last been at a runabout pad, and Sisko could have figured that the real Bashir wouldn’t have ever been there at that point in time. But Sisko’s next actions are odd. He tells Kira (on the Defiant) to destroy the runabout, not to just stop or capture it. In other words, there’s no doubt in his mind that the Bashir on the station has been a Changeling.

Finally — and props to you, if you’ve made it this far — where in the hell is Odo in these episodes? He shows up at the very beginning of part one and then is only mentioned in dialog. In all other episodes involving Changeling infiltrators, Odo is a huge part, and the return of his shapeshifting abilities could have made for some interesting scenes here. Not seeing him much in this two-parter isn’t necessarily an error, but it’s odd.

Final thoughts

So, I realize I just tore this two-parter to shreds. Funny thing is, I also really enjoy watching it. I actually think it’s incredibly representative of DS9.

That is, the two-parter was incredibly ambitious — frankly, to a fault. It stacked the deck so high that the only way for our heroes to win was with some really ridiculous plotting, i.e. the Dominion parking the runabout near the prison camp and Sisko’s amazing deductive powers. Now, I’ll take “ambitious to a fault” over “boring and episodic” any day — wait until we get to Voyager, people — but I need to point out faults when I see them. And there are just a TON in this two-parter.

It’s too bad the creators didn’t avoid the uniform nonsense, had found a more plausible way for the prison camp gang to escape (a stolen shuttle?) and for Sisko to have more obvious clues. None of that would have been that difficult, but the creators just got sloppy. Shame.

Coming later this week …

A much shorter review, we promise. Eddington’s back!

“Apocalypse Rising”

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.

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.

“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!

“Return to Grace”

“I’m a bad guy, I’m a good guy, I’m a bad guy … “

Kira is escorted to a conference by none other than our old buddy/overseer of genocide Gul Dukat, recently demoted to freighter captain. Dukat’s standing fell after he brought his half-Bajoran daughter Ziyal (Cyia Batten, introduced in “Indiscretion”) back to Cardassia. When Dukat’s ship arrives at the conference, they find the outpost devoid of any life and the Cardassian and Bajoran attendees killed, after a Klingon attack. Kira then helps Dukat mount an attack on the guilty Bird of Prey, which they eventually capture (Dukat kills the crew). With the new ship in hand, Dukat goes against the Cardassian government — which is too crippled to use some intel from the Bird of Prey to go on the offensive — and starts his own private war against the Klingons. Kira takes Ziyal back to DS9.

“That’s right, bitches. I’m not just a glorified extra.”

Why it’s important

This episode is likely most remembered for the Kira/Dukat pairing that we saw a lot of starting in season four, beginning with “Indiscretion”.  We seriously debated reviewing that episode, as it somewhat leads to this one. Without Dukat sparing Ziyal at Kira’s urging, he wouldn’t have been demoted, which means he wouldn’t have been transporting Kira in this episode.

But more importantly was Dukat’s decision to fight the Klingons on his own and to buck the Cardassian government, which we see here. That, of course, hints at the kind of thinking that leads him to take the Cardassian Empire into a very different direction in the fifth season — a direction which has quadrant-shaking consequences, as we’ll get into later.

There’s also some good stuff in this episode about just how far Cardassia had fallen because of the Klingons. The dialog early in the episode about the decaying Cardassian health system was significant — as was the talk of the Klingons acting with impunity behind Cardassian lines.

And, of course, we meet Dukat’s adjutant Damar (Casey Biggs) for the first time here. Of interest is the fact that Damar started out as a glorified extra who went on to be one of the key players in DS9. More on that in later reviews as well.

“It’s good to see you, too, Nerys! I hope you treat the two other actors who play me as well as you’ve treated me!”

What doesn’t hold up

There are some smaller things that stand out — mostly regarding the Klingons’ willingness to ignore Dukat’s freighter after its rather paltry attack. Frankly, the Klingons, from what we know of them, would have almost certainly destroyed the freighter, as it was a military vessel. It’s not as if doing so would have been a huge tax on resources.

But, bigger picture, the chumminess between Kira and Dukat seen here and in “Indiscretion” just feels weird in concert with what we see of Dukat later. It almost works because it sort of paints Dukat as a pragmatist willing to do anything or behave in any way that he thinks will help him — and Kira (inconsistently) shows contempt for Dukat. But the way it’s done here, it almost paints Kira as in the wrong. It’s clear that the creators hadn’t decided that they’d make Dukat a villain again when they made these two episodes (or “Apocalypse Rising” in early season five).

Final thoughts

The big thing here — which we’ll see a lot of in some upcoming reviews — is just how bad things were for the Cardassians after the fall of the Obsidian Order and the Klingon invasion. “Return to Grace” isn’t a stellar episode, but it’s a good example of the increasingly serial nature of DS9 in the later seasons. This episode could have been a one-off episode. But Dukat’s actions here have a long string of consequences.

Coming next week …

Is Sisko really the Emissary? You bet your earrings he is.