Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"The Search, Part II"


Air date: 10/3/1994
Teleplay by Ira Steven Behr
Story by Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by Jonathan Frakes

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"It's a little foolish to worry about your careers at a time like this—when there's a good chance we're all about to be killed." — Garak, joining Sisko and crew for some rebellious action

The wrap-up of one of the most ambitious action/adventure and character development episodes on DS9 seems to be working okay for its first four acts but then jettisons all plausibility and respectability with a complete cheat ending. And, unfortunately, by the time the episode ends, we're left puzzled as to how Odo feels about his experience—a plot line that has a surprising amount of ambiguity. Fortunately, future episodes promise to address Odo's experience. But as far as this episode goes, there's only one word for it—botched.

Sisko and Bashir are reunited with the DS9 crew (less Kira and Odo who are still on Odo's homeworld in the Gamma Quadrant nebula) after their narrow shuttlepod escape from the Defiant. They return to DS9 to find their attempt to get the Founders' attention was successful, for diplomacy is underway, and a peace treaty is all but signed. But something is dead wrong. Sisko is consistently kept in the dark about the entire affair by Admiral Nechayev (Natalija Nogulich, recapping her TNG role as Federation bureaucrat), who intends to oversee the signing of a bogus treaty that would cause denouncements of war from the Romulans, not to mention Starfleet's withdrawal from Bajor and DS9. This leads Sisko and his crew to take matters into their own hands by collapsing the wormhole to keep the Dominion on their side forever.

By this time, we know there's something not right about where the story is going. When Garak is killed in a phaser fight with the Jem'Hadar we know better, because there's no dramatic reasoning behind it and we know the writers wouldn't just kill off Garak for the benefit of an action scene. At the same time, having Sisko collapse the wormhole is unthinkable, because the wormhole is one of the central characteristics of the series.

Back on the shapeshifters' homeworld, Odo finally finds his roots and meets others like him, leading to some necessary shapeshifter backstory and explanations of why Odo was sent away in the first place. Unfortunately, none of this dialogue can live up to part one's illustrious moment when Odo finds himself face-to-face with another shapeshifter (Salome Jens) for the first time. These scenes work for some Odo character moments, but they're just ordinary scenes—not the kind of payoff a buildup like this deserved. They don't hit home on the larger magnitude due to the number of unasked questions and missed opportunities. Besides, we know Odo won't stay there anyway but rather return to DS9 by the end of the episode. Apparently, taking risks with characters can only go so far.

But what really torpedoes this installment is its total cop-out ending, where Odo opens a door on his homeworld to find the captured DS9 team hooked up to mind-probing equipment. A Dominion operative states that he is "conducting an experiment" to see how they would react to a Dominion attempt to get a foot in the Alpha Quadrant. Alas, this frustrating "twist" scene basically renders all dramatic undercurrent of our heroes' decisions useless, because their actions ultimately have no bearing on the outcome whatsoever, nor do they face any of the consequences. (Even though we know the decisions are void simply based on how much they impact the series, this ending is still the nail in the coffin.) For a story of this magnitude, the writers really should've come up with a more appropriate conclusion.

Meanwhile, the revelation that Odo's people are the malevolent leaders of the Dominion makes it all too easy and contrived for Odo to refuse joining them, rather than giving him the chance to make a true decision based on his character's feelings and needs. Also, the writers fail to address how Odo decides to remain as DS9 security chief, leaving it up to us to fill in the answers to the biggest character dilemma presented in part one.

Minus its cheat ending, "Search II" might have been a worthwhile character installment, because the performances are compelling and the dialogue is interesting. Unfortunately, the ending is everything, because it states that everything before it never happened. That just won't fly.

On the upside, Garak's presence supplies some well-timed laughs. Also, Kira and Odo's sibling-like affection for each other is genuinely moving, demonstrated here with some wonderful scenes. Most likely, "The Search" will mark a change in the way Odo looks at himself, others, and life in general. But standing alone, this episode doesn't work.

Previous episode: The Search, Part I
Next episode: The House of Quark

Season Index

25 comments on this review

Dimitris Kiminas - Mon, Apr 6, 2009 - 8:10am (USA Central)
This episode was really the epitome of 'cop-out'.

Furthermore, even the test became pointless. It was supposed to be a test on the crew reactions, yet the idea for the destruction of the wormhole was planted by Garak, a character supposedly 'simulated' (as he was not amongst the captured persons)! Certainly, for a 'simulated' character Garak played a very central role in the proceedings, puzzlingly dictating the test's results to the test's subjects.

And it seems the 'simulated' death of the Romulan overseer-of-the-cloaking-device spilled into reality, as that's the last time we'll see her!
Jayson - Mon, Jun 15, 2009 - 12:13am (USA Central)
Jammer, I have to disagree with you on the point that the ending was a cop-out. Infact I think putting the crew in a simulation to learn more about them as a potential future adversary makes alot of sense. It didn't feel a waste of time at all, it just clearly demonstrated how devious The Dominion could really be and they did learn something from their simulation so it wasn't a waste of time for them either.

Finally, I loved how Odo finally finds his people had has to leave them.
Destructor - Sun, Jun 28, 2009 - 7:12pm (USA Central)
I have to agree with Jammer- me and my brother literally howled with derision when this episode aired when we were teenagers, and I just watched it for a second time now (15 years on) and while it was a little easier to stomach when I knew what was going to happen it was still the reset button to end all reset buttons. Ick.
TS - Sun, Jul 19, 2009 - 11:30pm (USA Central)
I am very surprised that you found this episode to be 'mediocre'. No, it wasn't as good as Part I, but still. I wonder if this is one of those star ratings that you no longer agree with.
Nic - Wed, Sep 16, 2009 - 8:26pm (USA Central)
Here is what Memory Alpha says about the episode (not that I agree or disagree):

On the one hand, the writers wished to convey just how powerful the Dominion was - they were technologically so far advanced that they were literally playing with the Federation. On the other, it was to show viewers that the real story of the episode was not the struggle for the Wormhole, but was in fact Odo's personal journey.

In fact, what bothers me the most about this episode (and many other DS9 episodes) is not the 'simulation' ending, but the fact that the consequences of the episode are never adressed in the future. Siko and the others have no qualms about destroying the wormhole here, and since they thought it was reality, there is no reason why they would change their minds on destroying it later. Yet, even in the face of all-out war with the Dominion, they never again bring up the possibility of destroying the wormhole, in fact they even thwart a Romulan plot to destroy it in "Visionary." It makes NO SENSE.
Nolan - Tue, Jul 27, 2010 - 12:02am (USA Central)
I'm finally just starting to go through this series episode by episode. I've got the first two seasons on DVD, but after "The Jem'Hadar" I had to see at least the next episode. Alas, I already know how it ends, but half the fun is getting there.

Anyways, for this episode, I think the ending could have been saved at least, if the audience was made aware at the start that it was a simulation. See Sisko being dragged into the cavern, possibly struggling till he gets knocked out, then the episode would have this omonous tone where the audience is wondering why and what the simulation will ultamitly go. And the twist of the Founders real idenities would still be affecting, if not more so.
Jacob Teetertotter - Thu, Sep 23, 2010 - 7:55pm (USA Central)
Yes it does not address the concearns of part 1. It is a cheap o ending
Max - Sat, Feb 5, 2011 - 2:45am (USA Central)
I was struck by how the Vorta talks to Odo as if he's just another annoying shmuck. The whole "I'm honored to be in your presence, Founder" thing with Weyoun and the Vorta viewing Odo as a god hadn't been cooked up yet.
Jayson - Sat, Feb 5, 2011 - 12:23pm (USA Central)
Nic, in the episode "By Inferno's Light" Sisko does in fact plan to seal the wormhole when it looks as if The Dominion is coming.
BIMMERof1995 - Fri, Jul 22, 2011 - 12:51pm (USA Central)
I don't see the cop-out angle. The story was about the Dominion and the Dominion only. To try to parse out anything about the main characters (other than their deepest thoughts) is completely missing the point. The ending answered why there seemed to be cheats througout the story and wrapped it up intelligently in a true sci-fi way. Also, Frakes directs the dream sequences with unique camera angles (remember the Batman villians always shot at an angle). 3-1/2 stars.
Latex Zebra - Thu, Jan 12, 2012 - 7:12am (USA Central)
Have no major issues with the second part and think it is a solid two parter.
I even remember the first time I saw this think that Starfleets behaviour was becoming more and more absurd and realised it was all a trick. I just wasn't sure how until the reveal. Didn't feel cheated at all.
Comp625 - Mon, Jan 14, 2013 - 10:31am (USA Central)
I agree with Jayson's comment. I absolutely don't think it was a "cop-out" ending since it shows how powerful the Dominion really are, and how our heroes are being toyed with like ragdolls.

The Search II ever-so-slightly reminded me of The Manchurian Candidate. It seemed like Starfleet was being brain-washed by the Dominion and that Admiral Necheyev was simply a puppet leader. How could the Federation have easily given up Bajor, DS9, and Wormhole Access to the Dominion? That question lingered as I progressed through the episode.

However, The Search I & II were not perfect. Here are some things that bothered me about it:

- Odo's refusal to join the Great Link was rushed. The guy has spent his ENTIRE life searching for his origins. Yet, his decision to remain with the solids to save their lives seemed in the name of justic seemed less heroic.

- Frankly, Odo's sudden desire to be drawn to the Omarion Nebula by looking at a map is also a little contrieved. He's BEEN to the Gamma Quadrant before, and surely, he's looked at Gamma Quadrant maps before, too.

- I can't recall, but I *think* this is explained in a later episode...but I was surprised to see that the Romulans almost voluntarily loaning the cloaking device to the Federation. Also, the Romulans only had one representative aboard. It would have been more plausible to see a Romulan warbird accompany the Defiant into the Gamma Quadrant (and have it destroyed by the Jem Hadar) AND/OR have multiple representatives aboard to ensure safety of their proprietary cloaking device.

That said, the positive aspects of this episode really outweigh the minor plotholes in what is a fantastic two-parter.

- I LOVED seeing Odo smile at the end of Search I. My girlfriend teared up when she saw this scene during our DS9 rewatch.

- Seeing the Defiant de-cloak was really cool. Neat introduction and great plot vehicle (pun intended) for the writers.

- I forgot that Eddington was introduced in this episode -- very cool. Eddington is what George Primmin (random security officer from Season 1) should have been. It would have made Eddington's later "heel-turn" even more effective had he been around since the beginning.

Like Jammer said in The Search I's review, this is absolutely a turning point for DS9's future storylines. It's also a symbolic turning point in that Ira Steven Behr basically took over the helm from Michael Piller. Even though I know how the entire series plays out, I am VERY excited to continue my rewatch.
Patrick - Mon, Jul 1, 2013 - 4:01am (USA Central)
How exactly is this a cheat, yet Star Trek TNG episodes like Future Imperfect and Frame of Mind aren't???? Lots of episodes of Star Trek use this twist. It's nothing new.

And the shapeshifters as the Founders was actually a pretty great twist, and its very good character development of the Dominion.
nic - Tue, Aug 6, 2013 - 6:11pm (USA Central)
Didn't think it was so bad, 2.5 - 3
Kotas - Tue, Oct 22, 2013 - 6:31pm (USA Central)

Not as good as part one, but still solid.

Vylora - Thu, Feb 20, 2014 - 10:52am (USA Central)
I don't necessarily see this as a cheat ending but I could be slightly biased having seen this series and knowing how it ultimately unfolds. But I do agree the ending feels a bit rushed. Maybe if there was more substantial dialogue between Kira and Odo (not that what was there was bad by any means) and the 'fake' reality was incorporated a little better somehow...I don't know. I do know that I quite like the idea of the Founders probing their minds for knowledge of potential avenues of resistance.

Not perfect but not bad at all. In fact, overall, I enjoy this ep a bit better now than what I remember. 3 stars.
Samuel - Sat, Mar 22, 2014 - 3:03pm (USA Central)
This is one of those episodes that has repercussions throughout the series. One could almost view the final story arc in the last season as a chiasm with this episode--every move is reversed, Odo links with the founder again, lets go of Kira as he embraced her as a friend here in this episode, and so on. Hindsight is a better friend when evaluating a series. One weakness of the episodic critic is that he does not re-assess his work at the end of the entire season or the end of the series (and not just every season). That said, Jammer has valuable insights.
Rivus - Wed, Apr 16, 2014 - 11:38am (USA Central)
I tend to look at the stars before watching the episode, then read the review... This whole episode, I was scratching my head, going 'how in the hell is THIS two stars!?!?!?' I was laughing my head off at Garak's one-liner... But then the ending came around, and while I think the 'cop-out' isn't nearly as bad as some say, I think the issue is more with how it's presented. It's not like "Whispers", where there's all this huge buildup until the plot's made clear, it's just madness and chaos all throughout, and a sudden sucker punch at the ending... I just don't feel it punctuated the overall feeling of the episode as well as it could have... Still, excellently acted, especially the interactions between Kira and Odo. I'd say it's worthy of a 3, docked down from 3.5 just because the ending felt admittedly abrupt.
Robert - Wed, Apr 16, 2014 - 11:48am (USA Central)
@Rivus - The Odo plot was a 4 and the other plot was... I dunno... badly written fan fic?

I absolutely love the beam out where Kira presses Odo's comm badge. I just love their closeness there.

I could never give this episode a 2 because of how much I love Odo's story in it.
Yanks - Thu, Jul 10, 2014 - 9:10am (USA Central)
Wow, I didn't see this episode as bad as some above observed.

The only thing I think I might have done differently was let Odo stay with the Founders for a couple episodes. Let him take some time to make his decision.

The experiment was shocking the first time I watched the episode. All I can say for the Garak contributions is I'm sure his presence was the culmination of Sisko/Jadzia's memories/thoughts. There are plenty of things on the station that aren't strapped into the Vorta's experiment.

I also, at this point and time, don't see the problem with these characters thinking sealing the Wormhole is a good option. It would make sense to me. They aren't reacting to sustain a TV show, they are thinking of how to protect the Alpha quadrant.

I also wish Martha could have become a viable reoccurring character.

But that said, the best part of this episode (and this 2 parter) is the Odo/Kira relationship. Just love these two and how they progressed and grown throughout the series.

3.5 stars for me. The end did seem rushed, but that happens all the time in all our trek series.
Phillip - Mon, Jul 28, 2014 - 11:49pm (USA Central)
The main problem I have with the simulation is that Garak wasn't real because he really put in a good performance in this ep. Except for his last words being about not being able to have lunch with Bashir. Kinda cheesy.

I don't have any problem with the simulation because we learn later that the founders are very meticulous and slow in conquering the galaxy. They send spys into the the alpha quadrant for extended periods of time to gather info. They steal peoples identitys in starfleet and the klingon empire repeatedly. I think some fans didn't like it because other shows and movies have done something similar where nothing was real and they felt cheated but this is what the founders do. And it worked. They gathered a lot of info about the people who stand at the gateway they will need to travel through to force their order in the whole of the Milky Way
Robert - Tue, Jul 29, 2014 - 8:35am (USA Central)
"I think some fans didn't like it because other shows and movies have done something similar where nothing was real and they felt cheated"

I think the difference here is that while the simulation wasn't real and a whole heck of a lot of things got reset buttoned, a whole heck of a lot DID happen and there are plenty of un-reset consequences to deal with.

Season 2 ended with a Vorta spy trying to get into the Alpha Quadrant and this :

"TALAK'TALAN: Coming through the anomaly is interference enough. Unless you wish to continue to offend the Dominion, I suggest you stay on your side of the galaxy. "

Ok, so that's a giant middle finger to the Federation's exploration, but it's not quite like what we find out in the Search, Part II :

"FEMALE: Then perhaps one day I'll come visit you. The Alpha Quadrant seems wracked with chaos. It could use some order. "

That ups the stakes tremendously. Not to mention the whole thing about the Founders being Odo's people. The only thing I am sad about is that we lost the Romulan. I understand that "watching the cloaking device" is a stupid job... but this was "pre-Worf". They could have just made her the Defiant's tactical officer. I get that she was a Romulan, but they could have explained it away. And then we would have gotten to keep the talented Martha Hackett.
Andrew - Thu, Jan 15, 2015 - 12:45pm (USA Central)
I actually like a reset button like this or "Future Imperfect" (especially when at least one person remembers the experiences they thought they had) if they're not done too often; if they're fairly rare they allow you to explore changes and scenarios a series couldn't or wouldn't do either at all or early on its run.
MsV - Wed, Apr 29, 2015 - 10:18pm (USA Central)
I remember this episode from the 1990's commercials and all. I was a fully grown-up adult with children. I didn't think it was a cheat then nor now, I enjoyed the ending and it made it worth finding out about this Dominion and what it meant to the Federation. This was must-see TV for me and my friends. I spent many days and sometimes weeks in the Children's hospital and I had to watch what my son wanted me to watch, but when I went home to the VCR (see how long ago it was) I played catch-up. I was relieved with the ending and had something to look forward to.

I don't recall all of the shows but this one stood out then. A few years ago, I bought my son the boxed set of DS9, now its his favorite Trek. He's 26 now.
methane - Fri, Jul 24, 2015 - 3:42pm (USA Central)
When I first saw this episode, I felt let down much as Jammer did. Yes, Star Trek has deceived viewers with 'fake realities' in other episodes, but I don't recall one that goes on for a whole episode before cluing in the audience that it isn't real. Generally, I think they don't go longer than one commercial break before letting us know something odd is going on.

I agree with Nolan, above, that this episode would have played much better on first viewing if they had let the audience know something was up early in the episode. Maybe a 2 second cut to the crew sleeping in their pods with a Vorta looking at them right before the opening credits.

It's really too bad they didn't, because it's a really good episode on rewatch. The story is about Odo & the Founders, and it's a good story.

Major questions are answered: Where does Odo come from? Why was he alone in space? Who runs this mysterious Dominion, and what's their motivation? This episode answers all those questions and still leaves us eager to know what happens next. What's more, the answers all fit with the clues they've been dropping over the first 2 seasons. We've heard before that Changelings are a legend in the Gamma quadrant, and the legend always includes them being persecuted.

We're also shown how the Dominion prefers to expand. It's not trying to launch a full assault straightaway, despite the fact it seems to have superior power (we don't know about superior numbers). Instead, the Founders are taking their time, studying their opponents, and seeing if "divide and conquer" will work.

I'd probably give this episode 3 stars. If they had been upfront about the altered reality, I might have given it 3.5 stars.

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