Kira and Odo chase a Maquis criminal to an isolated planet where they track him on foot through rocky caves. Kira gets her foot stuck in a bizarre crystal that begins to envelop her entire body. Now Odo must free her before she faces a rather claustrophobic demise.
Set as a B-story is a lightweight but amiable yarn involving Nog trying to persuade Sisko to recommend him for Starfleet Academy. He says he doesn't want to end up like his father Rom, who has chased fortune his entire life with little success.
Forget the B-story; I won't mention it again. The focus here is another character drama from the pens of Behr and Wolfe. This one supplies some interesting moments but repaves familiar ground already well established this season and without exploring new aspects or taking any real risks.
Kira becomes trapped by the end of the first act. Using phasers instantly proves to be a bad idea as the crystal simply absorbs the energy blast and displays a sudden growth spurt. Odo's next attempt is to use a jerry-rigged device from the Runabout to create sound waves at a frequency that may break down the crystal. Naturally, these things take time, and as the computer analyses the composition of the rocky substance, Odo and Kira find they have little to do but talk.
Since "The Collaborator," we have suspected that Odo has some buried feelings for Kira. In "Fascination," the writers confirmed so, as it ends with a disappointed Odo pondering over his affections for Kira as she (presumably) walks away with Vedek Bareil. She hasn't the slightest clue how Odo feels about her. She considers him a close friend—nothing more. Then, last week, in what now seems to be part of a master plan to develop this whole thread, the writers wrote Bareil out of the show by killing him on the operating table. With "Heart of Stone," they waste no time to delve back into this storyline. The results are mixed—often interesting, but in the end (as I will explain in a moment) fairly meaningless.
On the upside, there's a memorable bit where Odo tells Kira the story about how he got his name. Derived from the Cardassian word "nothing," Odo, initially a misunderstood liquid, was destined to be forever known as nothing, even after everyone learned he was a sentient being. It really makes you feel for the guy, and it's nice to see how far the writers have evolved this character in the past two years.
This whole show, however, basically rides on the outcome resulting from one scene, which goes like this:
Kira: "I want you to get out of here."
Odo: "Don't you understand? I can't!"
Kira: "You have to. Odo, please!"
Odo: "No. I won't leave you."
Odo: "Because! Because—I'm in love with you."
This scene is wonderfully performed by Auberjonois, who does the job of convincing us that Odo has all of these bottled up emotions that begin exploding out of him. But when Kira returns with "I'm in love with you, too" the scene rings completely false, because from what we've been spoon-fed on this issue for the past five months, Kira considers Odo a close friend and nothing more. Simply put, life isn't that easy. This is not a storyline that is about instant happy endings. It's about unreturned feelings.
Fortunately, the script ultimately nullifies this line, because even Odo doesn't believe it. He suspects that this is not really Kira, because Kira would never lie to him, even in a situation like this. Odo is right, as False Kira morphs into her true self—the still nameless shapeshifter (Salome Jens) who tried to coax Odo into taking his "proper place" as a Founder in "The Search." In fact, the shapeshifter masqueraded as the Maquis terrorist, then kidnapped and stashed Kira away in hope of again luring Odo back to the "Great Link."
Okay, there are some problems here. For starters, this episode uses a twist ending that, once again, undermines the impact on the characters. While it's not a total cheat like in "Search II," it does end up putting us back where we started. Since, in reality, Odo said none of these things to Kira, the writers have allowed themselves to take back everything they proposed in the episode. If the intention here was to confirm all the suspicions we've had about Odo's feelings, it's little more than an exercise in redundancy. I got the point in "Fascination." And in the episode's finale, by having Odo not discuss with the real Kira about what he actually said to the shapeshifter, the writers take the easy way out, burying their heads in the sand while burying the topic without any semblance of closure.
Furthermore, I doubt that the nameless female shapeshifter would go to such lengths to sway Odo into returning to the Gamma Quadrant. It's hard enough to swallow that she could or would impersonate Kira with such alarming accuracy. But the fact that she steals a Maquis ship to get Odo and Kira to chase her to this isolated planet seems entirely contrived in retrospect.
"Heart of Stone" has some good dialogue and engaging moments. Unfortunately, the ungratifying end result takes us no further than where we've already been enough times this season.