Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Strange Bedfellows"

***

Air date: 4/19/1999
Written by Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Rene Auberjonois

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Overconfidence. The hallmark of the Weyouns." — Damar, kneeling over Weyoun's dead body

Nutshell: It pushes too hard at the end, but it's a compelling chapter of pivotal character moments.

"Strange Bedfellows" is about a myriad of characters agonizing over difficult situations, showing how they ultimately come to make certain realizations.

Damar, realizing that Cardassia's role in the Dominion is becoming more and more like arranged slavery, must decide if the alliance is worth anything anymore.

Worf and Ezri, realizing they made a mistake by sleeping together in "Penumbra," must face each other and perhaps admit that it was in fact a mistake.

And Winn, who realizes the Prophets have abandoned her, must make a choice that ventures into the deepest truths of her own perceptions of spiritual existence.

What we have, then, particularly with the Damar and Winn storylines, is some interesting commitment for characters' change in the DS9 universe—change that makes sense because the writing has long been on the wall.

Like the first two installments of the "Final Chapter," much of "Strange Bedfellows" is dependent upon what came before. DS9 as a whole benefits from having this ultra-large canvas of events and history leading up to the latest events. You could see last week that the events in "Strange Bedfellows" were on the horizon. The fact that characters have come to the choices they make here isn't terribly surprising. That's not a criticism, because seeing how these characters come to finally make these realizations is where the gold lies. It makes for good viewing because of the series' pre-planned story arc mentality; we can watch the characters' paths being charted and can therefore understand the reasons behind the decisions they make.

In many ways, "Strange Bedfellows" is more setup, and in some ways it's another mini-payoff. Sisko's storyline is shelved for the week (aside from a few amusing Martok lines about Sisko's new marriage being the beginning of a whole new "war front"), while the Dominion/Breen and Winn/Dukat stories take center stage and go in new (well, not really) directions.

As I had hoped and expected, the Dominion's new alliance with the Breen is not something Damar is happy with, especially considering the Cardassians are the ones currently taking the largest losses. The Female Shapeshifter has arranged a treaty that brings the Breen into the alliance in a way that basically replaces the Cardassians' usefulness. The Breen have full reign over the military operations, and now Damar suddenly finds himself answering to Thot Gor, a Breen officer who now outranks him. When Damar objects, Weyoun tells him in no uncertain terms that he's a servant of the Dominion, period. When Damar demands to know how many sacrifices "his people" will have to make, Weyoun reminds him that the Cardassians ultimately aren't important; it's the Dominion and the Founders that matter. That Damar and Weyoun are headed for a major collision is nothing short of obvious.

And speaking of Weyoun, I just have to reiterate how much I love this guy. Jeffrey Combs can turn on a dime from funny to fearfully menacing. And Weyoun's posturing and overconfidence can be so entertaining. In one scene, Weyoun brings an offer to the imprisoned Worf and Ezri, and his unctuous overconfidence gets him killed in a scene of enormous amusement. I loved the unexpected swiftness with which Worf snapped Weyoun's neck, and even more the fact that Damar couldn't help but laugh with satisfaction while kneeling over Weyoun's body. ("Overconfidence. The hallmark of the Weyouns," he notes, knowingly.) Oh well; say goodbye to Weyoun-7, and hello to Weyoun-8.

What this is all really about, however, is Damar's choice. He's sick of the Dominion, he's sick of Weyoun, and he's no longer going to stand by idly while millions of Cardassians are killed for the "greater good" of an ally that gives nothing in return. Ultimately, he helps Worf and Ezri escape Cardassia with a message: The Federation has an ally on Cardassia. To Weyoun, Damar is able to blame the escape on Jem'Hadar incompetence (though I wonder if Weyoun wouldn't be more suspicious). So how and when the Cardassians will turn on the Dominion is still uncertain, but it certainly will be soon. It's satisfying to see Damar finally getting fed up with Weyoun—as well as fed up with himself and his own inaction. Damar has finally realized that it's time to put away the liquor and stop wallowing in his helplessness and self-pity.

Back aboard the station, Dukat continues to manipulate Winn, but there are some key decisions that Winn makes knowing what she's likely getting into. Near the beginning, she has another vision, but this time the Paghwraiths come out and reveal to her their true identity; there's no more pretense used to get her attention. I'm guessing this is because the Master Plan has already been set in motion; Dukat has already come to Winn with his "Anjohl" cover story (which was likely planned out in advance by the Paghwraiths and conveyed to Dukat to play out), and Winn has already accepted him as her guide. By the time she learns the Paghwraiths are part of the game, she has already ventured too far to simply turn back. She's caught in a moment of weakness that Dukat fully intends to exploit.

What's most interesting about this aspect of the story is the way it puts Winn through a wringer in a way that makes us sympathetic for her situation, even if we disapprove of the self-serving blinders she continuously wears. Once the Paghwraiths have contacted her, she's thrown into a hysteria of distress, and understandably so. Winn's portrayal here is one of someone who sincerely wants to know the love of her gods and steer clear of evil. There's a powerfully empathetic scene where the Prophets refuse to talk to her through the orb because she has been in contact with the Paghwraiths. The camera tracks back from an anguished Winn pleading futilely with an orb box that's not going to return an answer.

Far and away, the highlight of the episode is the scene where Winn calls upon Kira for guidance. Winn is desperate to understand why the Paghwraiths have come to her, and why the Prophets have abandoned her. The irony of the situation speaks volumes; here we have Bajor's spiritual leader so confused about her own soul that she's asking for help on matters of spirituality from someone who has for years disagreed and even despised her high-handed political tactics. It's one of the most quietly powerful scenes I've seen on this series in quite some time.

What's particularly amazing about the situation is how telling it is. It makes absolutely perfect sense. Winn has always been convinced she is doing what's best for Bajor. She is convinced that Bajor needs her. She is convinced that her political power is a necessary thing. But it's because she simply cannot overcome her own nature of Looking Out for Number One that she is consistently traveling the wrong road. When Kira tells her that redemption lies in relinquishing the power that has led her astray, Winn's reaction is completely, 100 percent "Winn": How can giving up power be the answer? Bajor needs me! Surely that's not what the Prophets meant!

In essence, this highlights a fundamental similarity between Winn and Dukat, which I'm sure Winn isn't even aware of: Both are people who have long been vying for the acceptance and love of the Bajoran people, and both have failed. And now both are going to turn to the Paghwraiths as a new avenue to find what they're looking for. Each may very well be exactly what the other deserves. Or they may end up destroying each other. (Perhaps those two statements are equivalent.)

This episode, while containing some excellent material, has some evident weaknesses. One of those weaknesses is the Breen. I just can't take the Breen "characters" seriously the way they stand around on the set under those silly helmets, occasionally expelling an unintelligible, electronic utterance. (The other characters can understand the Breen, sort of like the way Han Solo can understand Chewbacca.) I couldn't help but chuckle as it occurred to me that the Breen might best be utilized in a comedy routine as the galaxy's ultimate straightmen. (After all, one can't see a trace of your expression when you're under a helmet like that.) As characters, it's very hard to get any valuable feedback from the Breen, because they're by definition wooden.

And, unfortunately, the Evil Dialog at the end of the episode managed to detract from the Winn/Dukat storyline. As much as Jay Chattaway's score heightened the Mood of Evil, this dialog was too theatrical, too scheming, too glib and overblown, and it simply came off as Bad-Movie Writing. Strangely, it's the same problem that the end of last season's otherwise sensational "Waltz," also written by Ron Moore and directed by Rene Auberjonois, suffered from.

Also, while I can certainly see Winn doing whatever it takes to see her own needs fulfilled, I wonder somewhat about her sudden conversion to walking the path of the Paghwraiths. Sure, maybe her religious beliefs have been empty worship and a means to an end for years, or even a lifetime (which is quite a revelation), but I wonder how exactly she arrives at the conclusion of the Paghwraiths as the answer to everything, especially considering how much struggling she does through most of the hour.

There's of course one other subplot in "Strange Bedfellows," and that's the continuing Worf/Ezri soap opera. Again, it's the most trite of the three storylines, but it finally finds its way to getting somewhere this time around. Again, there's probably too much of the annoyed bantering and snide humor. (And, boy, Ezri can be humorously juvenile in her barbs, taking absurdity to the extreme level, particularly her jab on Jadzia's pre-Worf sex life: "You're right; it was more than a few. It was dozens. Hundreds. In fact, I don't think there was anyone aboard DS9 who wasn't her lover!" My, how surly.)

But at last, these two start talking on civil terms (a looming death sentence has a way of doing that), and we finally, finally get to the heart of the matter. Here are two people who were drawn together by this awkward situation of a past life's love, and here they both realize that love remained in the past. The struggle to realize this truth has been a difficult climb during the past three episodes, but now that the struggle is over, it seems Worf and Ezri have escaped this mess as good-intentioned people who perhaps can be friends after all. I think I rather like that resolution.

So, then, what's the bottom line on "Strange Bedfellows"? Oh, I don't know. It's certainly another compelling outing with plenty more setup. But it lacks a little of something—perhaps the emotional cohesion of a truly confident story—to arrive at greatness. Here exists an hour that moves like a blur. An entertaining blur.

Next week: Chapter four. The Federation's survival depends on ... Damar?

Previous episode: 'Til Death Do Us Part
Next episode: The Changing Face of Evil

◄ Season Index

31 comments on this review

Anthony2816
Fri, May 23, 2008, 5:38pm (UTC -5)
Jammer, to answer your question about Winn's sudden conversion to the Paghwraiths, I think it can be explained by the fact that the Paghwraiths appeared to her, something the Prophets never did.
Rob in Michigan
Sun, Sep 21, 2008, 2:12pm (UTC -5)
Kai Winn has been an utterly fascinating character to watch throughout the entire series. I don't think there's another Star Trek character that I've spent more time hating, then sympathizing with, then being angry at, then hating again, then being sympathetic AGAIN....

She's led me on quite a roller coaster ride and the way she ended is so tragically sad. I also agree with Anthony's post... she turned to the Paghwraiths because at the end of the day her faith was far, far weaker than she let on. She needed her 'Gods' to acknowledge her, rather than simply doing their works for their own sake (a la Kai Opaka).
EP
Thu, Mar 12, 2009, 3:37pm (UTC -5)
I love the Damar that drinks canar at 9 in the morning, and laughs when the newly-cloned Weyoun comes to greet him. Much more interesting than Dukat's creepy Bajoran masquerade.
Brendan
Sun, Jun 7, 2009, 1:16am (UTC -5)
Funniest moment in DS9 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kJAIKLbhdk

I laugh out lout every time
Destructor
Tue, Jan 12, 2010, 9:15pm (UTC -5)
I have to say, for me one of the funniest moment ever in DS9 was when Worf broke Weyoun's neck and Damar starts laughing. Totally classic. And funny all over again when Damar says: "Why don't you go talk to Worf again?"

Brilliant.
Elliot Wilson
Wed, Feb 10, 2010, 12:38pm (UTC -5)

I thought it was very pretentious of O'Brien to lecture Bashir. Seriously, WHAT THE HELL?? This was completely random. And what, does he honestly think Bashir will do ANYTHING, unintentional or not, to hurt Ezri? Good Jesus. I would have told him to go fuck yourself. Too bad too, cuz O'Brien was one of my favorite characters. Emphasis on "was."
Neil
Fri, Feb 4, 2011, 10:47am (UTC -5)
The idea of Gul Dukat offering up his body to Kai Wynn as part of the 'Guide' package sent a shiver up my spine that lasted for twenty minutes.

And when she said 'the man who shares my bed', I almost threw up. I'll say one thing for Dukat; he's got a strong stomach.

He's also back to his full operatic bombastic self by the end of the episode - how Kai Winn hasn't yet realised who he is, is extremely difficult to believe.

Unfortunately for the Breen, their masks make them look exactly like the K9 robot dog from the Tom Baker era of Doctor Who, and now of the Sarah Adventures on the BBC. And I mean *exactly* like the dog's head.

So they just look like walking canines to me. Not very threatening.
Jay
Sun, Feb 6, 2011, 12:39am (UTC -5)
Casey Biggs' delivery of the line "Why don't you talk to Worf again" was possibly the most perfectly-pitched, clever, spot-on delivery of a line of dialogue in the series entire run...
Nic
Tue, Apr 5, 2011, 9:04pm (UTC -5)
Watching these episode a second time, I find it doubly sad that the Pah-wraith arc had such a weak ending. Because a lot of the set up in this episode and the preceding one was actually very good.

Though I agree that Winn sleeping with Dukat was a little over the top. It wasn't really necessary for the story. And besides, wouldn't Cardassians and Bajorans have different sexual organs? Or was Dukat's surgery performed on his ENTIRE body, including Bajoran sexual organs? I guess it's best not to think about it...
Nic
Wed, Apr 6, 2011, 8:19am (UTC -5)
Oh, and if the Prophets had been smart, they could have spoken to Winn and convinced her not to follow the path of the Pah-wraiths. Then they wouldn't have needed "the Sisko" at all.
Elliott
Fri, Oct 7, 2011, 2:44am (UTC -5)
@Nic : The only logical assumption one can make about the nature of the Prophets is that they are dramatic for its own sake--when the means to prevent their destruction is at hand in multifarious ways all the time, and they choose the one method which requires convoluted and needless sacrifice, I cannot tender any feeling but resentment towards these meddling, self-centred wormhole aliens. I think they could use a Prime Directive.

This episode was overall, a step down from the last one, the Damar storyline is the best, still; Worf/Ezri is a little better; Winn/Dukat is seriously worse; and the rest is noise, as they say.

1.5 stars
J.D.
Mon, Apr 30, 2012, 8:05pm (UTC -5)
Someboby please throw ezri out of an airlock. She's the most annoying character in the series. She insults Jadzia's memory.
Spock's fan
Tue, May 1, 2012, 8:05pm (UTC -5)
Bring Ezri to the show was a mistake, she add nothing plus the writers undid every Trill rule they wrote before.
DG
Sun, Dec 9, 2012, 4:48am (UTC -5)
Creepy. My last name's Fletcher, the actress for Kai Winn is Louise Fletcher, and she looks like my aunt with braces.

And watching her in this episode is like watching what I worry my Mom would do if something *actually* came to her in her weird prayer stuff she does in real life.

Yeek.

Jay
Sat, Dec 22, 2012, 9:50pm (UTC -5)
@Nic...

Dukat's genitalia must be compatible with Bajorans...he'd produced half-Bajoran spawn on at least two occasions - there was Ziyal, and then the child he spawned earlier this season in "Covenant" that as presented seemed to essentially be not much short of a rape.
Herman
Sat, Mar 2, 2013, 2:31pm (UTC -5)
At the end of season 6 and the start of season 7 I was tragically losing interest in DS9, but this episode rekindled some of my interest.

Worf snapping Weyoun X's neck was a high point for me and I hope it heralds a nice and gritty end to the series. Has to be one of Star Trek's most cold-blooded killings. Suddenly I understood why the Klingon temper is so infamous, something which earlier growling and brawling didn't manage to convey.

Kai Winn's soul-searching and turning away from her gods hit home as I'm an ex-believer who felt a bit let down by religion/God as well. To me her story shows that any worldview or faith should be complemented by strong, independent moral convictions. Faith without morality is limp, or even evil.
Nancy
Tue, Aug 6, 2013, 9:35pm (UTC -5)
Was anybody else waiting for a Breen to remove that helmet and reveal Princess Leia? ;-)
Jason Luthor
Wed, Oct 30, 2013, 12:34am (UTC -5)
It's interesting how DS9's medium episodes still trounce everything that TNG and VOY ever put out.
Kotas
Sat, Nov 9, 2013, 8:03pm (UTC -5)

This episode was a bit better than the last two mainly because Damar and the Dominion story. He had some pretty hilarious lines. I'm also glad the whole Dax/Worf awkwardness seems resolved and that Winn has finally accepted she's evil.

6/10
Rawthar
Fri, Jan 17, 2014, 6:10pm (UTC -5)
In light of what we now know of the Pagh-wraiths, could the visions that Dukat had in 'Waltz' have been them?
eastwest101
Mon, Jun 16, 2014, 3:04am (UTC -5)
An entertaining and developing story, really carried by Jeffery Coombes and the Dominion subplots. The temptation of Kai Winn was overlong, badly written and pretty uninteresting but it has potential to become interesting again.
Yanks
Mon, Aug 25, 2014, 12:10pm (UTC -5)
This episode had a few good moments.

whe Worf snaps Weyoun’s neck and Damar cracks up laughing I about fell out of my chair. Also loved Damar's snide remark to Weyoun-8. "No. Maybe you should talk to Worf again." ... lol

"Kiss me. Kiss me, Julian" - Thank God, now we can put this stupid Ezri/Worf" debacle behind us. God what a bore.

"WINN: The true gods?
DUKAT: The Pah wraiths. They led me to you."

Yup, saw that coming a mile away...

Again, 2.5 stars.
zzybaloobah
Thu, Oct 30, 2014, 12:56am (UTC -5)
And don't forget:
"I'm sure the Founder will understand. If not, I look forward to meeting Weyoun-9."
Realistically, when did Damar get so witty? but I'm loving it.
$G
Mon, Nov 3, 2014, 9:14pm (UTC -5)
Another strong hour. Jammer covers it pretty well, I think.

Though I completely agree on the final line by Winn about "dead leaves being swept away" (or some such). Corny as hell, and a little bit out of character. I know Winn is as much of a snake as Dukat, but that line might as well have been written "muahahahaha". It felt completely incongruous to the rest of the episode.

Memory Alpha says this, which may explain it:

"During the composition of this episode, Ron Moore's wife went into labor a month earlier than expected, and Moore had to take a week off. This threw the writing schedule into chaos, and forced Ira Behr and Hans Beimler (who were working on "The Changing Face of Evil") and René Echevarria (who was working on "Penumbra") to abandon their own episodes and complete the writing of this one. As Behr says, 'It got very hectic.'"

One of my favourite moments from this one is the introduction of "Septimus III". It starts off with Damar talking to Weyoun about getting reinforcements there to fend off the Klingons. Damar - the villain - murderer on-screen of an innocent girl - is now sympathetic to the audience in his concern for the lives of his countrymen (who, by the way, have been more or less villains from the beginning). The scene transitions and Martok - a good guy - is proclaiming success on the Septimus III maneuvers, a victory for our heroes. Yet, somehow, I just felt bitter towards it all. Brilliant writing. One of the best sequences in the whole series, encapsulating the cliched 'shades of grey' compliment everyone throws at the show. Completely earned and beautifully done.

What else to say? The tension in this one remains at a nice simmer the whole time. High end of 3 stars. A quality hour.
Vii
Thu, Feb 26, 2015, 7:10pm (UTC -5)
I fully concur with the reviewer above. The Septimus III scenes were some of the most poignant ones, and the anguished way Damar demanded for reinforcements (although the viewer could see that he himself was probably aware of the outcome) and Weyoun's callous disinterest was amazing to watch, conveyed perfectly by the brilliance and chemistry of Casey Biggs and Jeffrey Combs.

Also, is it just me, or was Worf a bit of a cunt in this episode? Some of the things he said to Ezri were pretty horrible, and actually the way he treated her ever since she stepped onto the station as well. His assertion that she seduced him and that her risking her life to save him was merely because she wanted to shag him. You'd think that he'd be more grateful and appreciative to someone who risked her life (and presumably a Starfleet court martial) for him. I suppose one might chalk it down to Klingon 'swag' and hotheadedness, but still.

The Damar and Dominion plots were definitely the high point of the episode. I really wish they hadn't mauled Dukat's character arc, he and the Pahwraiths just seem so irrelevant to the 'big picture' now.
Del_Duio
Mon, Jun 1, 2015, 10:54am (UTC -5)
"Casey Biggs' delivery of the line "Why don't you talk to Worf again" was possibly the most perfectly-pitched, clever, spot-on delivery of a line of dialogue in the series entire run... "

Agreed. This show delivers on the secondary cast like none other.
Jack
Sun, Oct 18, 2015, 4:11pm (UTC -5)
Kassidy says she isn't going to act like she "has started believing in the prophets".

Again with this? After the events of Sacrifice of Angels, The Reckoning, and Rapture (the latter of which she was smack in the middle of), we're still having belief issues?
Diamond Dave
Tue, Feb 23, 2016, 2:15pm (UTC -5)
Momentum definitely building now. It's good that we're getting some mini-resolution. Strongest story - definitely Damar finally growing a pair and deciding not to take it anymore. His reaction to Worf killing Weyoun is indeed a classic.

Winn's story is also strong - despite her also seemingly having a moment of clarity she proves to be too power-hungry to accept it. Her turning to the pah-wraiths actually has a fairly organic feel in a "what have the Prophets ever done for me" kind of way. The final scene gets a little melodramatic, mind you.

And it might have taken it's own sweet time but we finally got a good tie up to the Ezri-Worf story too. 3 stars.
JC
Fri, Mar 11, 2016, 1:05am (UTC -5)
The manipulation of Winn and having her turn to the dark side is the first stroke of brilliance I've seen on DS9, and it only took 7 seasons for them to do it.

I have faith that the writers will develop this to its full potential, and follow through on the Bajoran themes that serve as the premise for the entire series. I hope they won't reduce the entire thing to a rushed, awkward 15 minutes followed by a flashback montage crammed into the final episode of the series.

Oh. Wait.
William B
Thu, May 5, 2016, 7:08am (UTC -5)
Worf/Ezri: I think that Moore is the writer who wrote the best Worf/Dax material -- while I don't love any of them, I think that the portrayal of Worf/Dax in "Looking for par'mach...," "You Are Cordially Invited" and especially "Change of Heart" got to what made those personalities work well together. So it makes sense that his handling of the Worf/Ezri Dax material here is an improvement on the last two episodes. I am on board with the general ideas presented here, which of course are the general point of this set of three episodes. It must be very difficult to deal with one's spouse reincarnated as a new person, or to see one's husband from a past life, and as well as having to do with the specific material in-universe it also matches up, in general, with how hard it is for exes to get along with each other knowing that their past relationship is dead but with those feelings still hanging around. The maturity that they show late in the episode is a relief, and the snark back and forth earlier in the episode is much wittier than the material in "Penumbra" or "Til Death Do Us Part." It still seems to me that Worf and Ezri are written as being a bit *too* obtuse, jumping around in their feelings a bit too readily, at the beginning of the episode (as they were in the previous two episodes, IMO), with Worf largely having to hold the jerk/idiot ball at the beginning of this one. But Ezri's taking Worf to task for his Klingon aphorisms and Worf's admitting that he overuses dishonour help a lot to suggest that these two have retreated into bad habits as a way of avoiding the depths of feeling that they don't know what to do with. It helps to have Ezri and Worf working to try to survive rather than purely sitting around having thoughts or having memories/dreams aloud.

I like, too, that Worf does feel very genuinely guilty about sleeping with Ezri, and that that is the real source of his anger at her. After his angry accusation that he was seduced, followed by his insistence that Jadzia had more than "a few" lovers before him, he acknowledges that really, making love could mean many different things to Jadzia, but for him it meant something very specific and spiritual. There is, in that moment, no judgment implied on Jadzia for having casual sex before she and Worf got together, but an acknowledgment that it means something to him, so that he more or less acknowledges that he was displacing his frustration with himself onto Ezri and Jadzia. It is not that often that Worf admits he was wrong, and that plays well here both as a contrast to Winn's reaction in her conversation with Kira, and sets up Ezri's role in helping Worf change in "Tacking Into the Wind."

So I'm happy with the overall impact of this story, even though I think it could have been done in a shorter amount of time and with the characters not coming off as quite as clueless before the big reveal. I think it's possible this story should have been done as a single episode earlier in the season. The big problem I still have with the previous two episodes (and to some extent this one) is that it seems like a big leap for Worf and Ezri to believe that they could have a relationship, after the dust settles of a one-night stand, and in particular Worf's seemingly acknowledging in "TDDUP" that he *knows* he's just expecting his relationship with Ezri to just be a continuation of his relationship with Jadzia and Ezri blithely ignoring the reassociation taboo. I get why he and Ezri would want to get to that point, but I think that there needed to be more on why they fooled themselves to the extent that they did, or, perhaps, an alternate way of having them fool themselves -- for example by having Worf and Ezri openly state that they knew that their relationship was not a direct continuation of Worf/Jadzia but that they could make it work, only to realize that they were fooling themselves and of course this is all about Worf/Jadzia. Or something like that. I think "Rejoined" actually did deal with the *setup* of Jadzia and Lenara continuing their past-lives relationship better, for what it's worth.

Winn/Dukat: Strong up until the last scene. I like that Dukat gets cockier as the episode goes on, starting to treat Solbor with disrespect and gradually dropping the "simple farmer" pretense; it is hard for a narcissistic manipulator to keep laying on the charm before he gets overconfident, we see. The Pah-Wraiths coming to Winn in a vision and her reaction of horror afterward, followed by her desperate desire to see *something* from the Prophets from the Orb, is well done, as is her shock and horror when she finds out that Anjohl is an instrument of the PWs. I like, too, that she recognizes some of the truth in Anjohl's suggestion that what she really wants is power and that she should embrace that rather than denying it. We know that it impacts her because of the way she seeks out Kira, someone who is both totally devout and also has regularly criticized Winn for her power-hungry nature; she immediately recognizes that Kira can be her moral guide at this point, because Kira has been right about Winn all along. What I like about this moment is the way it demonstrates that a part of Winn recognizes that she is tempted by Anjohl, that part of her *deserves* to be shunned by the Prophets for that reason, and perhaps that she partly regrets the things she has done to consolidate her power. What really works, too, is the way Winn asks *Kira* what she can do to be forgiven, because while Kira believes in the Prophets' unconditional love, *WINN DOESN'T* and never has (see, for example, an early exchange with Bareil where he stated that the Prophets' love is unconditional and she clearly stated that Bareil was wrong). The Prophets' wrath, according to her value system, should be directed at people like her who communed with the beast, even if accidentally. And there is no way out -- except to beg forgiveness and then to do what Kira says. At which point Kira crosses a line and says that Winn should give up her Kaidom, and this shows where her willingness to change ends.

I think that here we see some of the limitations in the fundamentalist philosophy: Winn cannot very easily adapt to new information because she cannot truly admit fault in herself without having to break herself and submit to the Prophets' wrath. And of course she doesn't deserve the Prophets' wrath *for accidentally having Pah-Wraith visions*, and on some level Winn is right to recognize that would be unfair. However, something interesting happens in the scene with Kira, and via Dukat's manipulations and the Orb scene -- the idea that the Prophets are punishing her solidifies, and what she has done "wrong" becomes conflated with her entire history of seeking power. Which, yes, should earn her criticism (if not necessarily godly "wrath," but that's another point), but before Dukat subtly manipulated her into thinking of her ambition as related to the possibility of joining with the Pah-Wraiths, it was totally unrelated to her feelings of abandonment by her own Gods. Winn can only break and regroup, but eventually she must either punish herself excessively, follow the philosophy of another Prophets worshiper who has a more openminded outlook (Kira), which also amounts to giving up on her ambition...or find some other way to continue her life. She chooses the last option. She is unwilling to give up being Kai, because she "earned" it.

But you know, it would not be that hard for Winn to rationalize that Kira has always been her enemy and that it was a mistake to go see her; it would not be hard for Winn to find some sycophantic Vedek to tell her what she wants to hear given carefully worded phrases. I am not convinced she lacks the mental resilience to find a new rationalization for what has happened to her. I think that over a long enough period of time, Dukat and the Pah-Wraiths could switch Winn's allegiance, and the majority of this episode is something that works effectively at getting Winn to the point where it is easier for her psychologically to do so rather than to live with the crushing feeling of *having been wrong*, and having a theistic philosophy that punishes heretics brutally. It’s also worth noting how frequently on personal level (i.e. cults) or on national level managed to turn religious fervor to a different cause by using similar symbols, like Nazi Germany playing up Teutonic myths or the Soviet Union essentially replacing the Russian Orthodox religion with a kind of worship of the state.

But that last scene though...no. It's not that Winn isn't ambitious, doesn't resent the Prophets choosing Sisko over herself, is not upset that the Prophets have long been absent from her, does not *want* to punish her enemies. She is petty, spiteful, in love with power, and unwilling to brook dissent. But she has based her life around the Prophets, genuinely did fight to save lives during the Occupation, genuinely did seem to be conscientiously concerned with Bajor's safety and future in things like "Life Support" and "Rapture"/"In the Cards." The one element that works in her final monologue is that she felt *nothing* when she saw the wormhole opening, and I do think that a lifetime of disappointment, of feeling that the Prophets have refused to acknowledge her worship, could do things to her. But not in a day, and not in a way that leads to her effectively declaring war against the vast majority of the planet's population the way she does here. Not convinced, and it really hurts the episode and the plotline. That the Restoration involves burning the planet and wiping away those who “aren’t worthy” is also one of those things that I cannot believe wouldn’t give Winn pause.

The Damar material is definitely the highlight here. First off, this is integrated with the Worf/Dax stuff really well—Worf’s snapping Weyoun’s neck is a fantastic, unpredictable moment, and Damar’s delight at it along with a defeatist attitude (“they’ll just clone another one”) gives some sense of how helpless and trapped he is. It occurs to me that Worf’s action does have an impact on Damar’s thinking; feeling impotent and powerless in his “relationship” with Weyoun for so long, to see Worf just out and kill Weyoun, even if it is a futile gesture, is another thing that helps Damar recognize that he actually really admires the Federation for fighting against the Dominion, who have essentially conquered them and him. However, as some people have pointed out, while Damar does care about his people, his motives are not exactly pure. He reacts not just to Cardassian loss of power—the whole of Cardassia had little choice in Dukat’s seizing power and putting them under Dominion rule, and Damar didn’t care then. He believes that Cardassia is oppressed by the Dominion, certainly, but this is partly because Damar is self-centred, and believes that *all* Cardassians are dealing with the same feelings and experiences he is; he sees Cardassians as puppets only once it becomes clear to him that he personally is a puppet. I also think that there is something of a xenophobic tinge to Damar’s negative reaction to the Breen, what with the Breen’s Other-ness being heavily emphasized, down to them being incomprehensible. Don’t get me wrong, for the Cardassians to be forced into accepting an ally who immediately get “territorial concessions” and implicitly get higher status in the Dominion does demonstrate how little power or self-determination the Cardassians have and how deeply the Dominion has them on a leash at this point, but I don’t think the Breen’s *alien-ness*, down to their language (hidden from the audience) is wholly coincidental to why they evoke so strongly a negative reaction. The thing that really does seem to move Damar, though, and the thing that does distinguish him from Winn, is that he genuinely does care about his people on Septimus III, and is reacting to a Dominion strategy that totally devalues those lives. And while in principle in previous episodes Damar could simply feel powerless, here Weyoun outright threatens to have Damar killed and replaced if Damar does not sign the Breen treaty sight unseen, which confirms that Cardassia has lost.

The final scene really hurts the episode but overall it’s quite good—3 stars.
William B
Thu, May 12, 2016, 3:04pm (UTC -5)
I just said something like this in the "Field of Fire" thread in a response to Peter G. but it bears comment on this episode -- while it is annoying how easily the Reassociation taboo is brushed off in these episodes, I think it is nice that the spirit is respected and, in particular, that Ezri actually makes the choice not to relive her past love, in a way that Jadzia didn't in "Rejoined" (with Lenara having to make the choice). Given Jadzia's extreme impulsiveness in relationships ("Meridian," "Rejoined") and her tendency to relive the past (Curzon in particular), for Ezri to make a bad romantic decision having to do with reliving a past relationship but then decide to move on from it of her own free will, rather than having her weird, impulsive decision be undone because the other party called it off or because, as in Meridian, some tech ex machina stops her at the last minute, or, as in the nonromantic example of "Blood Oath," having Kang make the kill instead of her, seems like progress for Dax as a (composite) being which suggests that maybe there are ways in which Ezri Dax's story is an effective continuation of Jadzia Dax's, though I'm still not wild about how they handled her this season overall.

Submit a comment





Notify me about new comments on this page
Hide my e-mail on my post

◄ Season Index

▲Top of Page | Menu | Copyright © 1994-2016 Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication or distribution of any content is prohibited. This site is an independent publication and is not affiliated with or authorized by any entity or company referenced herein. See site policies.