A Klingon ship returns from the Gamma Quadrant, virtually destroyed by an internal mutiny. When the DS9 crew beams aboard the only survivor, they also beam over a "telepathic matrix," which infects the senior staff and causes them to re-enact an alien power struggle.
"Dramatis Personae" does not have an inspired premise—the power play has been done before, and using a convenient sci-fi explanation to warrant erratic behavior is hardly conducive for real drama. However, what works to a degree here are some of the subtle details surrounding the concept, which makes it interesting enough to be reasonably entertaining.
The way Kira's mutiny grows out of the situation set up at the beginning of the episode—her disagreement with Sisko on allowing suspected Cardassian-aiding smugglers to dock at DS9—smoothly integrates the real plot into the contrived one. Also neat is how the different characters take on distinct personalities of circumstance once the mutiny begins to brew. The uncaring Sisko, the sultrily venomous Kira, the anecdote-spewing Dax, the strategizing O'Brien, and the "neutral" Bashir in the middle—all are characters who convey a weird persona that somehow adds a bizarre spin on the show's tone.
Odo's cleverness works decently in the plot, as he plays both sides long enough to resolve the problem. Most of the show's best moments are subtle touches that aren't crucial to the story, but raise the overall level of interest. Sisko's inexplicable clock-building is one welcome bit of strangeness in this 100 percent Joe Menosky concept. Still, the inevitable feeling of pointlessness that ultimately comes out of the forced situation is all but unavoidable.