Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Favor the Bold"

***1/2

Air date: 10/27/1997
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
Directed by Winrich Kolbe

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Sorry? That's what you wanted to tell me? You're sorry? Well, let me tell you something, Odo: We are way, way past 'sorry'." — Kira

Nutshell: Whew. Another powerhouse. Talk about covering some serious ground.

"Favor the Bold" is a damn near perfect storytelling assembly of just about every major facet of DS9 that comes to mind right now. There's so, so much going on in this world—so many characters to examine, so many issues to address, so much action to carry, and so many relationships to ponder. It's an incredible feat that "Favor the Bold" manages to cover so much ground in a single hour, moving us through huge storytelling events and relaying a number of very compelling character pieces in the process. Every bit of this episode is utterly engrossing; the culmination resulting from the loss of the station in "Call to Arms" is approaching, and it feels very, very real.

The primary sense conveyed in this week's outing was one of a dizzying situation on the brink of spinning out of control into utter apocalyptic mayhem. I'm not just talking about the obvious confrontation between the Federation and Dominion fleets that is destined to happen next week; I'm talking about characters committing themselves to paths that are either going to pay off in the very near future ... or likely get themselves in real trouble or even killed.

The plot centers around what promises to be a key turning point in the war: Damar's field tests for deactivating the minefield have been successful, and he expects the entire minefield can be brought down within a week. Meanwhile, Starfleet, which "needs a big victory," is slowly persuaded by Sisko to group their remaining strong fleets into one massive effort to retake Deep Space Nine.

The plot is a must-see, but what proves more important as the show unfolds—and is the reason the episode is so engrossing—is the way the events flow so believably and appropriately out of the characters and their motivations. We get so see what they're thinking and feeling as the world around them radically unfolds. If there's one thing this war arc has proven, it's that the creators of the series know that the story is not simply about the war, but about the people involved.

Early in the episode, Kira finds out Rom has been sentenced to execution for his acts of treachery against the Dominion. As if Kira didn't already have enough on her mind—with Odo useless to her efforts as he ventures into his own personal agenda and the potential of her small movement being exposed by Dominion interrogation (I suspect it's the Dominion calling the shots, since if it had been the Cardassians Rom would likely have been tortured into submission by now)—now Kira has to worry about the possibility of another death under her resistance "command," because she misplaced her trust with Odo and allowed Rom to face such risky odds. It makes sense that she would use all her Bajoran influence to attempt reasoning with Weyoun, and her frustration and anger are completely understandable when Weyoun refuses to budge.

For that matter, Weyoun came off very three-dimensional this week. Not only did Jeffrey Combs deliver a wonderful performance—Weyoun's facial expressions are one of the most striking and effective aspects of the character—but the writers gave him some good stuff. Little details about the Vorta having no understanding of art or music, the fact that they have poor eyesight but great hearing, really make a difference. The first Weyoun we met in "To the Death" didn't leave me with much of an impression, but ever since "Ties of Blood and Water," the more they do with this guy, the more interesting he is. His actions in the plot aren't simply at odds with Kira's wishes and her hidden agenda—they're understandable from Weyoun's point of view as well. You simply don't release prisoners with Rom's evident destructive capabilities ... and if you're the Dominion you probably do execute them in order to set an example.

I can only think of one minor complaint for this episode (so I might as well get it out of the way), and that's Leeta's ridiculous whimpering at Rom's scheduled execution. The idea is fine—I would expect an emotional reaction from anyone whose spouse was sentenced to die—but Chase Masterson's performance in this scene makes the character even more unwatchable than even Leeta has previously proven capable of—no small task. Rom, on the other hand (if I dare say), comes off surprisingly well, and I actually liked his attitude as conveyed from within his holding cell. He's willing to martyr himself, and tells his brother that no matter what happens, the minefield must not be deactivated. Rather than breaking him out of his cell, Rom wants his brother to focus on getting back in the conduits and disabling Damar's graviton beam. If that means Quark getting caught in the process and being executed alongside his brother, then so be it. For once, Rom doesn't act like a complete dimwit; he's aware of the stakes and willing to act.

Similarly, watching Quark in action proves extremely gratifying. Maintaining his shield of "the neutral barkeep" has earned him an ear to Damar's boasts, and it seems that Damar is now willing to quietly boast almost anything to Quark, whether drunk or not (an interesting difference when compared to last week's "Behind the Lines"). What Damar doesn't know is just how much he has misjudged Quark's apparent "neutrality." Damar tells Quark that the mines will be down in a week, after which Quark quietly relays the information to a very worried and powerless Major Kira—in a sequence that has become commonplace throughout this arc: characters whispering about topics that can't possibly be discussed louder than a whisper. The irony is that Quark is whispering in his own bar.

The only option ("Warn Starfleet," Quark says with quiet urgency) comes about when Jake reveals that he has found a way to get a message to his father—via Morn, of all people, who is going home for his mother's birthday. I think Jake's self-congratulatory coyness over getting a message out was a little overdone given the grim circumstances (although, Jake has shown himself the cocky sort on more than one occasion), but I thoroughly enjoyed the brief, wordless scene where Kira and Quark "recruit" Morn into their plans—very effective.

Anyway, I say that characterization is even more primary than plot because there's so much of it running through the episode. This can be seen in a number of turns relationships take. Dukat and Ziyal, for instance, remain exceptionally complicated and true to character. When Ziyal asks the favor that her father show mercy to the Bajorans by releasing Rom, he can't do it, again driving up that division between them. Ziyal is furious and scornful of her father, yet remains just as naive as ever. She tells Kira she wants nothing to do with him, but Kira knows better to take such words at face value (especially considering how easily Ziyal forgave him in "Sons and Daughters")—Ziyal is angry right now, but when the anger passes it won't seem so clear cut.

Meanwhile, Dukat is intent on making amends, placing his top priority on having his daughter "at his side" when the moment of victory comes. For Dukat, it's a very appropriate notion, because it would make his actions all the easier. He desperately wants acceptance of his actions by somebody close to him. Kira most certainly will have none of it. So Ziyal might best represent Dukat's hope of having his actions validated and supported by a "third party"—and, further, perhaps by a specifically Bajoran third party. His ordering of Damar to try to convince Ziyal to come talk with him is so very telling at how much it means to Dukat and how desperate he has become to feel fully justified and endorsed about his would-be self-heroic course of action.

Then there was Kira beating the living hell out of Damar—a visceral moment that has been building up for weeks. We know these two don't like each other, and Kira's protection of Ziyal is among the most appropriate ways of both bringing it about and simultaneously allowing Kira to vent some of her obvious frustrations. A welcome, if violent, impulse.

Also, the continuance of Odo's self-search proved every bit as interesting as the setup in "Behind the Lines" let on. His introducing the Female Changeling to "solid" sexuality only deepened the sense that he had put himself in real trouble, either uncaring or oblivious to the gravity of his actions in "Behind the Lines." But his subsequent bewildered realization that three days have passed without his knowledge really worries him—suggesting that "oblivious" describes him better than "uncaring"—as if he has been cut off from the world and, until now, left unaware of the severity of his actions. When he finally goes to apologize to Kira for his betrayal, he seems more like the Odo we know. (But Kira's response—basically that "sorry" doesn't come close to cutting it—is completely justified, and shows that this shattered relationship, thankfully, is not going to be magically fixed.)

But, then, I had the Female Changeling pegged all wrong. I figured she came to Odo partly to undermine his position on the station, but here her motives take a startling direction when she informs Weyoun that she had come to the station intent on bringing Odo home—that returning one of their own to the Link means more to the Founders than the entire Alpha Quadrant itself. On the other hand, her discussion with Odo on how "small" the solids now look—to which Odo merely responds, "It's not their fault"—is quite unsettling. The Founders may claim not to care about "having" the Alpha Quadrant, but they do certainly want to control it. Such control is frightening; the power the Female Founder has over Weyoun is almost eerie. (Weyoun: "I didn't mean any disrespect." Founder: "Of course you didn't. You are what you are." Yikes.) And while Odo may be a little more aware of what's going on in the "solid" universe than he did previously, his perspectives have most assuredly changed.

Then there's Captain Sisko, who, with a statement that is arguably central to the entire arc, had one of the show's best scenes. His speech about coming home to Bajor was a wonderful, sincere emotional highlight. The sense conveyed here is one that looks beyond the war—one man's hope kept alive that Bajor will survive and thrive, and that he intends to live to see that day. His voicing to Admiral Ross of his intention to build a house on Bajor was an extremely moving moment that puts the dialog near the top of all the series' impassioned speeches. It's very reassuring material—for even in the middle of all this action and despair, Sisko (and the writers) still hold the hopes for the future of Bajor in the back of their minds.

Some other subtle touches are certainly welcome, like the consistency of Damar's pride. The line where he says to Dukat, "[Weyoun] should speak to you with more respect," is very like what we've seen of Damar in recent episodes. There's also an amusing scene where Dukat points out to Weyoun the mines outside the station as they're individually deactivated. Looking out the window, Weyoun can't see the glows with those poor Vorta eyes of his. His "I'll take your word for it" was great considering how excited Dukat certainly hoped Weyoun would be to finally know the minefield was being disabled. There are a lot of nice touches like that, and the little dialog exchanges fit in with the large, thematic events to make a very satisfying whole. When Winrich Kolbe is directing (his first DS9 helming since fourth season's "Our Man Bashir"), it's hard to complain.

Running through all the smaller character stories is a consistent core: the sense that large changes are imminent, and that each person must choose his or her path and be ready to fulfill his or her role. Kira's beating of Damar was too overt a move for her to hide her intentions any longer. Quark will have to do something about his brother since he won't be able to do anything about the mines. Ziyal will have to decide where she stands concerning her father. Dukat will bring down the minefield, with or without his daughter's support, and then he'll possibly find his position in the Dominion hierarchy challenged or tested. Odo is going to have to figure out where his loyalties lie, for not being forgiven by Kira certainly woke up at least part of his old self. And Sisko and the fleet are ready to engage in battle.

In the words of Sisko, "Fortune favors the bold." Here's hoping "The Sacrifice of Angels" shall choose to be bold enough to wrap some of this up as skillfully as the setup has prepared it.

Next week: One location. One battle. The Federation's survival depends upon the sacrifice of angels.

Previous episode: Behind the Lines
Next episode: Sacrifice of Angels

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22 comments on this review

AeC - Sun, Jun 15, 2008 - 12:15am (USA Central)
There's an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I'm pretty sure; it may have been Angel) where the character Drusilla, after being chastised, starts whimpering like a whipped dog. The first time I saw it, my initial reaction was a painfully unwelcome reminder of Leeta's scene with Rom in this episode. Almost immediately afterward, though, I realized that somehow or other Juliet Landau made it WORK for the character and didn't make me involuntarily grit my teeth and clench my fists the way Leeta's display invariably does.

As I've been rewatching the series over the last few months, I've come to the conclusion that Chase Masterson, to be blunt, is far and away the worst thing to happen to the show. She's brought nothing to the (admittedly thin) character either dramatically or comedically, and what physical appeal she might have held when I was in my 20s has long since vanished in the face of how gratingly annoying she is in every other regard.

And now that I've revealed once and for all that I have nothing more fulfilling in my life than ranting on a stranger's review of a decade-old TV show, I'm going to bed.
Anthony2816 - Thu, Mar 4, 2010 - 11:46am (USA Central)
The scene in which the female changling thanks Odo for showing her how solids make love...I couldn't stop laughing.

Imagine the parts they didn't show: "No, see this shape? You need to make the opposite of that for this to work!"

Sigh.
Nic - Mon, May 31, 2010 - 9:41am (USA Central)
If only Odo had heard what the Female Changeling said about his return being more important than the Alpha Quadrant! He could have offered to come home in exchange for the Dominion pulling out! Now THAT'S powerful storytelling.
Jay - Sun, Nov 21, 2010 - 2:33pm (USA Central)
^ She was lying. Otherwise it makes a mockery of the entire final third of the DS9 run.
Latex Zebra - Wed, Jan 5, 2011 - 7:42am (USA Central)
Watched this again last night. Great episode. Quark was brilliant in this and more so in the follow up.
I did actually fast forward through the bit with Leeta whimpering (thank god for DVDs)

The end with all the starfleet ships shown and then the Dominion fleet was another of those chills up my back moment.
Nick M - Wed, Jan 5, 2011 - 9:15am (USA Central)
I am in the very tiny majority here, but when Leeta did that whimper I laughed out loud, and thought it funny. All the serious things going on and then this...NOISE. I also thought her haggling with Quark over how long she'd work for free was a funny moment in an otherwise dark and intense scene, very true to Quark's character, and showing the love Leeta has for Rom.

Just me though.
Fortyseven - Sat, Sep 24, 2011 - 1:38am (USA Central)
@Nick: No, I'm with you on that, as well. I thought she was completely adorable. It was meant to lighten a very dark scene, and that's how I took it. :)

Side note: It's 2:36am and I've been watching the show almost continuously since 6pm, ever since Jake tried to get that baseball card. I haven't chain-watched a series like this since... well, Battlestar Galactica. ;D
Jack - Sun, Feb 26, 2012 - 9:32am (USA Central)
For someone who bleats about the solids concept of time being irrelevant, the female Founder sure rants a lot about the war taking longer than it should...
Nebula Nox - Fri, Mar 30, 2012 - 6:22am (USA Central)
I have often thought that the show is full of characters with conflicted loyalties, and nowhere do we see that more than here. Characters have principles and goals, but they also have people who usually matter more. We see that with Quark, who chooses his brother over profit; we see that in Odo, who chooses Kira (eventually) over the Great Link. (I used to think that his deciding to help her after linking with the female shapeshifter was inconsistent but now it feels OK. Now I can understand that linking was overwhelming, as he said, especially at first, and he would need some time to recover from it.)

Even Dukat has mixed loyalties - he won't let Damar lock up Ziyal - and Odo is more important to the changelings than all of Alpha.

I rather like Rom and Leeta, which will make everyone discount my analysis. But life is full of annoying and silly people - why shouldn't there be some on DS9?
Justin - Wed, Apr 11, 2012 - 2:33pm (USA Central)
I have a special affinity for Chase Masterson after having had a nice conversation with her at a Trek convention. Her character may be shallow and dumb, but she is a lovely person and a real sweetheart.
duhknees - Tue, Apr 24, 2012 - 9:19pm (USA Central)
Trying to give Masterson the benefit of the doubt here, but she reminded me of Mary Tyler Moore when she was still on Dick Van Duke, only crying Rom instead of Rob.
Moegreen - Tue, Oct 2, 2012 - 7:46pm (USA Central)
Kira certainly gives Damar a proper near-fatal beating. Very visceral performance by both actors; her uppercuts ans his facial responses. He actually looked like he had been brain-damaged before he went down.
DavidK - Tue, Jan 8, 2013 - 3:06am (USA Central)
Yeah I find it hard to criticise Chase Masterson, I've heard nothing but good reports about how she interacts with her fans (and when she did voiceover work as Leeta for Star Trek Online, an operation that's running on fumes at this point, the staff were absolutely glowing about her). I know, I know, that really shouldn't factor into a critique. And her physical, erm, attributes probably make it hard to take compliments at face value. But anyway, there you go.
Jay - Sun, Mar 3, 2013 - 10:16pm (USA Central)
Since the Founders turned Odo into a humanoid, and were not in any way responsible for his subsequent restoration, the entire storyline concocted around the Founders suddenly having no higher priority than to bring Odo home rings ridiculously false to me.
Sintek - Tue, May 28, 2013 - 11:21am (USA Central)
When I played STO my ship, the USS Tig Ol Bitties, was named for Chase.
Nancy - Thu, Aug 1, 2013 - 6:43pm (USA Central)
Which writer thought it was a good idea to have Odo and the "female" shapeshifter have an afterglow scene? It made me throw up in my mouth a little. I know she's not supposed to be a certain age but prior to this she's been portrayed as an older motherly figure. Very icky to have them "get it on."

Luckily the rest of the show was good despite that cringe-worthy moment.
Kotas - Sun, Oct 27, 2013 - 8:52pm (USA Central)

I hate the female changeling and did not buy Odo turning on his friends so easily. Out of character and stupid. Other than that, good episode.

6/10
Dave in NC - Mon, Jul 14, 2014 - 10:47pm (USA Central)
This episode certainly reflects the title. This episode is a great example of how a few people making courageous decisions can turn the tide. (Sort of like how all of Western history comes down to man running 26 miles to say the Persians were coming.)

There are lots of great characterizations in this episode: Dukat not getting the gratification of Weyoun seeing the mines destroyed. Damar rightfully getting his ass beat by Kira after he got rough with Ziyal was great to see. Sisko and Ross attempting to shore up battle plans and meeting with Martok was a credible way to show the Federation is a vast entity stretched to it's limits.

Odo really pissed me off in this episode: what the hell was he thinking linking with the repulsive female Changeling?! Besides the fact that her personality is repugnant, her voice a quavering irritant, her "look" more a Scream mask, . . . setting aside all that, she leads the army decimating the Alpha Quadrant and threatening his lifelong friends and he can't see the danger in merging his mind and body with this thing?!

And then he chases Kira down a hallway to say "I'm sorry" after he got himself some Changeling booty and nearly lost his individuality (and the Alpha Quadrant in the process).

I love the war arc, and I really like Odo (the character and the actor playing him), but this story line is infuriating to watch. She's just so ghastly. I don't know what the writers were thinking with this Afterschool Special diversion into Odo's love life.

(And I didn't mind the Leeta squeals in the brig, it was a moment of levity that underscored the seriousness of the rest of the episode).

Side note: the female Changeling says she's a drop from the ocean and not an entity . . . does that mean the Great Link is more like a giant amoeba sending off chunks of itself to collect experiences? Curious.

Final thoughts: compulsive television. I had to move right on to the next episode.

Well edited and tightly directed, this episode is filled with wonderful performances from ALL of the cast (including heroic Ferengi), and I'm glad to see another later DS9 episode with a pretty good orchestral score . . . the musical cue for the appearance of the Dominion fleet was especially imposing, suggestive of the stomach-drop moment you hit freefall. Thank God the producers finally stopped using Dennis McCarthy!

3.5 out of 4 stars

Yanks - Mon, Aug 18, 2014 - 9:53am (USA Central)
I see this episode about the same as the last one.

Cringe worthy when Odo speaks of "solid sex" with the female changeling.

The same goes for Leeta's "noise" .

I still want to throat punch Dukat every time he opens his mouth.

Kira (again) physically dominates a physically superior foe... eesh... she needs to put on her Wonder Woman costume. It seems the only one that can beat her is the female gal in ‘Invasive Procedures’.

3 stars for me.
DLPB - Wed, Aug 20, 2014 - 5:56pm (USA Central)
Here here, Yanks! Nothing annoyed me more than Wonder Woman Kira. See, the writers are so dazzled by the need to have a strong female, that they think showing one performing totally unrealistic feats against superior foes does that.

Instead watching the frailties of the actor try and convince the audience, just falls flat on its face.
Yanks - Wed, Aug 20, 2014 - 8:25pm (USA Central)
DLPB,

They did the same thing with Tasha Yar in TNG. So glad she got tarred and Worf took over as head of Security.
DLPB - Tue, Aug 26, 2014 - 12:58pm (USA Central)
At least Tasha was using a phaser most times... Kira does multiple, unbalanced, weak punches, as the writers paralyse her opponents to the spot. It looks so ridiculous too. She also speaks like some mafia type gangster as she is delivering her lines.

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