Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"The Changing Face of Evil"


Air date: 4/26/1999
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
Directed by Mike Vejar

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"There's something different about you today, Damar; I can't quite put my finger on it. It's almost as if you're half dressed. ... [with mock realization] You don't have a bottle in your hand." — Weyoun

Nutshell: A powerhouse. This is truly what three weeks of setup warrants.

Featuring a flurry of excitement, "The Changing Face of Evil" is a riveting, carefully crafted balance of all the elements we've had over the past three weeks and before that. As DS9 plots go, it's probably the most viscerally engaging edge-of-seat experience this season.

There's a sense that although "Penumbra," "'Til Death Do Us Part," and "Strange Bedfellows" were all solid, interesting, forward-progressing shows, they were somehow lacking something necessary to elevate them to greatness—something "The Changing Face of Evil" clearly has. That element, I think, is emotional release. It's fun to be set up, teetering on the edge of payoff. But at the same time it's in some ways unsettling and frustrating. The payoff is where the crux of satisfaction lies.

"Changing Face" is like the proverbial roller-coaster ride—a skillful tap into a variety of feelings, mainly fear, exhilaration, and anticipation. If "Strange Bedfellows" was the piece that revealed to the audience how characters were committing to new directions, "Changing Face" is the piece where those characters reveal that commitment to other characters.

There are many different types of scenes in this episode, and pretty much all of them work exceedingly well. The episode wastes no time in getting its intentions under way; moments after Worf and Ezri are greeted with happiness as they return safely to DS9, the bad news arrives—the Breen have attacked Earth. A shot of San Francisco shows the burning remains of destroyed buildings at Starfleet Headquarters; the Golden Gate Bridge lies in ruins.

Suddenly, the Federation and its allies, who apparently have had the edge in the war recently, find themselves again facing desperation now that the Dominion have forged this new alliance with the Breen. The Breen's audacity in attacking Earth directly on a suicide mission is unsettling. At the moment, the Breen seem to operate at least partially upon psychological strategy: To strike fear into the enemy is to gain an advantage over the enemy.

With the tone for the hour set, what's interesting about "The Changing Face of Evil" is that a lot of its first half doesn't comprise a tight plot so much as a series of little character snippets leading up to the final act's major events. There are many scenes of calm, everyday life aboard the station, though everyone's a little more alert of the possibility of forthcoming battle.

A surprising amount of this works through the doses of humor. There's a running gag introduced here about a scale model O'Brien has built depicting the battle at the Alamo. The Alamo references, as anyone who has been watching this season at all knows, have become an ongoing tradition, and here O'Brien—and the show's writers—take it to a completely new level that seems to approach self-parody. Here are two guys, O'Brien and Bashir, who have become so obsessed with the Alamo that they have taken to playing out the battle on a 30-square-foot scale model. Or, as Worf observes, "They play with toys." Say what you will about the Alamo references, but I find the quirky persistence of the gag to be strangely refreshing, especially now that the Alamo has left the confines of the holosuite and is being played out in the middle of Quark's bar.

The fact we can have such broad humor in this episode—particularly the joke about Bashir "misplacing" the figurine of Colonel Travis (Nog: "Can't you make another one?" O'Brien: "What, so he can lose it again?")—is an odd pleasure, particularly considering how intense the episode grows in its final act.

Also amusing is the new play on Worf and Ezri. It's nice to see them able to sit with each other at Quark's and socialize without the constant tension looming overhead. Finally, Worf is able to see Ezri as Ezri, and not Jadzia. (Ezri: "You're a good friend." Worf: "I know.") And now that Ezri thinks she might be in love with Bashir, Worf can offer his friendly (sarcastic) opinion on the matter. Okay, so "He plays with toys" isn't the most persuasive argument against Bashir, but it is a funny one.

The newlywed Siskos also get some screen time here, leading to the inevitable but necessary discussion on how they both still have jobs to do and ships to captain, despite the danger with the war going on. None of this is groundbreakingly original, but it is sensible and well played, so I have no complaints. It's marital bickering that's truthful in its concerns and not annoying, so it's absolutely fine by me.

As with the previous three installments, the episode cuts back and forth between several perspectives, one of them of course being the inevitable collision course of Damar and Weyoun. (Actually, the collision has already happened; Weyoun simply doesn't know it yet.) The chemistry between these characters proves absolutely stellar here, the best Damar/Weyoun scenes we've had to date (and quite possibly the last of them). Damar, who has been plotting secretly with Gul Rosot (John Vickery) to prepare the launch of an insurrection against the Dominion, is a changed man with a new confidence—and Weyoun has taken notice.

The dialog here is sharp and acted to perfection. Jeffrey Combs' mocking jest at Damar is as much fun as it has ever been, but the dynamic is different because Damar is no longer willing to be a Dominion puppet ... and Weyoun doesn't see that. The fact Weyoun mistakes Damar's attitude change as a renewed confidence in the Dominion's ability to win the war is absolutely delicious—and absolutely appropriate. In the meantime, the dialog plays suspense games with us as it appears Weyoun might, maybe be on to Damar's plan—before showing us that Damar indeed does have Weyoun completely duped. Casey Biggs brings a commanding confidence to Damar; seeing how his partnership with Weyoun has disintegrated is probably the most well-played element of the past four shows, and in no small part because of Biggs' performance.

Back on Bajor, the Winn/Dukat arc continues to foreshadow the likely disasters to come, but I was particularly glad to see that the Evil Scheming Dialog at the end of "Strange Bedfellows" was more of an isolated moment of dramatic excess than a true indication of Kai Winn turning to transparent "evil." In this installment, she's depicted more as a person searching for answers, trying to come to an understanding of the Paghwraiths and her role in using them to bring about the "Restoration" of Bajor. Unfortunately, what she doesn't seem to understand is that the path she has chosen is more than simply a self-serving means to an end; it's a path of unknown danger that could spell disaster for her and all of Bajor, especially considering our awareness of a "great trial" that the Emissary will have to face. What consequences exactly this will have is anyone's guess, but it seems pretty clear that Winn is completely unaware of the gravity of her situation. She continues to get in deeper and deeper. At this point she has removed books about the Paghwraiths from Bajor's sacred archives, including an ominous text called the Kosst Amojan, which may be the key to releasing the Paghwraiths. Her perusing of these forbidden texts, however, has raised the suspicion of her chief aide, Solbor (James Otis).

Meanwhile, Dukat's menacing side resurfaces in a frightening way (the mere presence of Marc Alaimo's is enough to send chills). When Solbor tries to return the texts to the archive, Dukat punches the guy and tells him not to interfere. Ultimately, Dukat has his way with the Kai, simply because there's no one else around to stop him from manipulating her.

The first four acts of this multi-layered story provide backdrop. The whole time, through the humor, the setup, and the character dynamics, we get the feeling the story is turning into one big, ticking time bomb waiting to go off—which it does in its final act.

Sisko is ordered into a major battle when it looks like the Federation is going to lose its only foothold in Dominion space (the Chin'Toka system, gained in "Tears of the Prophets"), and suddenly the whole tone of the episode launches into anticipation when the prelude to battle takes an unusually large amount of screen time (and is executed with great skill). In a way, it feels almost like the beginning of an end, a final battle. That might be because it is the final battle for the Defiant, which engages the Dominion/Breen fleet and is disabled and destroyed in a sequence of alarming and surprising swiftness. One minute, Sisko is ordering his ship to engage the enemy, and the next, Sisko is suddenly ordering his crew to abandon ship. The Defiant's death is almost painful to watch. (The visual-effects sequence works on the visceral level, but the concept of the Defiant's destruction benefits even more from the human touches, like Sisko's final glance at his wrecked bridge before heading to the escape pod.)

That leaves the Federation with another problem: the Breen's new energy-draining weapon, which takes the Federation by surprise and leads to the fleet's swift loss of the battle at Chin'Toka. Fortunately, Damar's timing couldn't be better; his insurrection has begun. Cardassian fleets have attacked Dominion outposts, and Damar gives an invigorating address to the Cardassian people, telling them to "resist today."

Watching the reaction to Damar's speech is an episode highlight. The key to success is in how all the actors involved look as if they truly believe they are inside the story as it unfolds. Watching Damar on the screen, speaking the unthinkable, Odo stands with a thoughtful, compelled look on his face. Admiral Ross sports a can-you-believe-this-is-happening look. Sisko wants confirmation on what Damar is claiming. Weyoun is absolutely disgusted. I wanted to cheer. This is a real payoff, as entertaining as it is powerful. (One of the first Dominion targets the Cardassians strike is the cloning facility, which conveys a clear meaning: No more Weyoun clones. Now there's poetic justice.)

Weyoun orders the Breen to find Damar, no matter how many Cardassians have to be killed in the process. Immediately after he gives this order, a brilliantly subtle shot has Weyoun looking suspiciously over his shoulder as a Cardassian mans his post in the background. (Talk about your uneasy situations.)

While the Federation and Dominion are having their troubles with the shifts in power, Winn continues a downward spiral that, based on a series of bizarre circumstances, seemingly cannot be halted; she seems destined now to follow through on what she has started. Solbor's appall at the Kai's actions, along with his suspicion of Anjohl, have led him to uncover the truth of Dukat's masquerade, which sends Winn into a shocked frenzy. But she can't allow herself to be exposed, and stabs Solbor in the back—in a brilliant sequence where Winn is so trapped by her inability to relinquish her power and come forward with the truth that she's virtually forced into murdering her own aide (in her mind, anyway). I could understand every moment of her actions and desperation here, because they stand on such a sturdy foundation.

Magical Bajoran properties lead to the secret of the Kosst Amojan's hidden words, but I need not explain this in detail (this review is long enough as it is); suffice it to say Winn's intentions are so close to turning around and backing out of the Paghwraith path, but at the last moment the knowledge and power reveal themselves, leading her—based simply on who she is and how power has constantly led her astray—to continue down the path Dukat has so deviously laid out for her, whatever that may be. (Though it's interesting to note that Dukat seems nearly as awed about everything going on around him as does Winn.)

Of course, stellar execution over this slew of plot and characterization certainly doesn't hurt. Mike Vejar's cinematic direction of this episode is phenomenal. "Changing Face" has the aesthetic qualities of a feature film; Vejar's visual sense is always a highlight, and here it enhances the mood wherever necessary.

But what's perhaps most commendable about this episode is that the plot, for all its eventfulness at the end, never obstructs the insight of characterization. Even though most of the events taking place are larger than the characters can possibly be in themselves, the characters never, for one instant, become cogs in the plot's wheel. The personalities remain exceptionally strong and well defined, and major events are punctuated with nice touches (like the simplicity of Weyoun saying, upon the Defiant's destruction: "Poor Captain Sisko. I believe he was quite fond of that ship"). And it's in an episode like this that one can appreciate how much previous stories have made it possible for the motives, dialog, and actions of the characters in a plot of this magnitude to not only make sense, but to be a logical outgrowth of what came before.

"The Changing Face of Evil" is a clear triumph, executed with panache. It has plenty more setup, but it also has a great deal of release. It's a very satisfying hour. Sign me up for the next installment.

Next week: Chapter five. Kira has a new role in a new alliance, and dons a new uniform to boot.

Previous episode: Strange Bedfellows
Next episode: When it Rains...

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50 comments on this review

Thu, Mar 12, 2009, 3:42pm (UTC -5)
The only thing I object to is the Breen's deus-ex-machina-like super weapon that can destroy a ship like the Defiant in one blow. If they had such a thing, I don't see why they would need an alliance with anyone. They could take over the AQ by themselves. I know why the writers have given them this power - to make them super-evil and terrifying for the sake of urgent drama (as if their masks and lack of English don't make them "alien" enough) - but the logic is suspect at best.
Mon, Jun 15, 2009, 1:23pm (UTC -5)
To EP:

You have to figure, to hold an entire quadrant, it would take FAR more than "naval" superiority. It would require a MASSIVE amount of troops to not only conquer but hold every major planet. Since they seem to keep to themselves and have a small territory, I doubt they have that many troops.

Plus, they're not invincible. If they get a shot off, yes, they're done, but the Defiant destroyed one with their first shot. And the enemy would probably start ramming them if it because too desperate.
Tue, Jan 12, 2010, 9:29pm (UTC -5)
Also, you get the impression from previous dialogue by Worf that the Breen were previously fierce isolationists, who immediately killed anyone entering their space (an entire Klingon armada at one point in history) but weren't interested in expansion or war outside those borders... until the Dominion came along. What the Dominion offered them to change that policy I guess we'll never know, but no doubt some shapeshifter trickery to mess with the Breen's internal politics was involved.
Marco P.
Sun, Aug 29, 2010, 6:53am (UTC -5)
Agree with all the above comments.

Plus don't forget the Breen's superweapon is an energy drainer, it doesn't destroy the ship in itself but merely drains its energy. It took several well-adjusted blasts of regular disruptors (following the energy drainer first hit) for the Defiant to explode, which coincidentally gave Sisko and his crew enough time to man the escape pods.

Also agree with Jammer. This was a great episode, both for its dramatic peaks (the destruction of the Defiant, among others) and the fact Kai Winn finally reveals her true nature, forcing her to commit the capital sin. In the process, a drop of blood from her deed reveals the writing from the Kosst Amojan. How dramatic and effective. :)
Sun, Sep 26, 2010, 6:56am (UTC -5)
Having the Breen join the Dominion was a great idea. I like how this alliance was foreshadowed by the season 5 episode where Worf and Garak were captured by the Dominion, and we saw a Breen in the Dominion prison camp. Considering how both Bashir and Martok were replaced by Changelings, it is possible that the captured Breen may have been replaced by a Changeling too. Maybe that's how the Dominion got the Breen to join them.
Mon, Jan 31, 2011, 7:12pm (UTC -5)
You pretty much nail it. The effectiveness of the first four episodes of the arc pretty much depended on how well they pulled off its 'finale' (of sorts), and I can't imagine it being any better.
The Female Changeling's decision to leave Sisko and the others alive seems a bit contrived, especially considering how many times his presence has helped defeat the Dominion in previous engagements. Otherwise, it's fantastic. The key here really was the swiftness of the battle, which proves once again that this show is 100% character-driven and never bogged down by Hollywoodesque motivations. The short time it takes for the Defiant to be destroyed is exactly what makes it both frightening and saddening at the same time. That plus Kasidy burning Sisko's precious peppers!
Fri, Oct 7, 2011, 3:30am (UTC -5)
Another example of reacting rather than thinking on the writers' parts :

Damar says quite clearly that Cardassians should oppose the Dominion because their sacrifice has been met with no reward.

This is precisely the line of thinking which is driving Winn during this last arc--that the Prophets never rewarded her sacrifice. One is labeled wrong, the other right. It is absolutely arbitrary. This is deep-rooted thinking? This is the payoff for years of religious and political polemical "debate"?

Captain Tripps
Mon, Oct 10, 2011, 11:40pm (UTC -5)
That's because Kai Winn has never sacrificed anything for anyone else, only others to pursue her own goals. She's delusional and harboring feelings of persecution over what are usually justified reactions by others to how disgusting a person she can be.

The Cardassians did what they did for the betterment of their entire race (both joining with the Dominion, and rebelling), Wynn is doing it, and has always done it, for the betterment of Wynn. That she has managed to convince herself this equals whats good for Bajor is simply just another symptom.

Seemed pretty dynamic to me.
Mon, Oct 10, 2011, 11:47pm (UTC -5)
The Cardassians also occupied Bajor for the betterment of Cardassia, and Wynn was herself quite active in her own way to resist the Occupation--not for her own selfish goals, but to help her fellow Bajorans. Neither side is completely evil or good--which is excellent character painting on the one hand--but for no explicable reason, Wynn's reasoning is "wrong" while Damar's is "right." It is, as I said, arbitrary and contrived.
Captain Tripps
Tue, Oct 11, 2011, 9:48am (UTC -5)
Hence the title, the CHANGING face of evil.

Of course it's contrived, it's fiction. Made up to tell a specific story.

That being Kai Wynn choosing to finally accept that which she has always considered anathema, whilst the Cardassians grasp at potential salvation. Wynn's reasoning is wrong because of the consequences to others, and the fact that she either dismisses those, or deludes herself into thinking people will be better for it, all so she can empower herself further. How else is that supposed to be depicted?
Tue, Oct 11, 2011, 3:08pm (UTC -5)
Fiction does not intrinsically beget contrivance.

Are you referring to the Paghwraiths as Wynn's anathema? I'm sorry but her descent into what is essentially devil-worship is downright stupid. Her motivations have always been self-serving, it's true, but when she starts talking about burning Bajor and killing off the non-believers, it strikes me as completely false.

I'm not saying that there's something wrong with the Cardassian resistance--simply that their motivations should be self-evident: they deserve freedom just like any society and the Dominion is oppressive. But instead we get this nonsense about being rewarded for sacrifice. What if the Dominion had treated the Cardassians as they did, say, the Breen or the Vorta? Damar's speech would mean very little. The Dominion would still deserve to be overthrown and Cardassia would still need to free itself, but the motivations would be unselfish. As it stands I have a hard time empathising with their struggle given that their motivations are as self-serving as they've ever been and, by no coincidence, are the same as the now evil Wynn's.
Sat, Dec 17, 2011, 9:28am (UTC -5)
That's a fascinating point you make there, Elliott, I hadn't made that specific connection.

But keep in mind that the writers never outright said that Winn is "Bad" and Damar is "Good". Perhaps the parallel was intentional, perhaps it was meant to ask us who really is the bad guy in all this (see Babylon 5's "Signs and Portents" for another example). Damar is certainly not the perfect hero; he has committed his fair share of sins. Winn, of course, has some blood on her hands, but she strikes me more as a victim now than ever before.

Oh Gods, how I love this series!
Nebula Nox
Tue, Apr 10, 2012, 1:31pm (UTC -5)
I, too, have never been completely satisfied with the Female Changling's "mercy" in permitting the crew from the Defiant to escape. After all, she was pretty straightforward about ordering issues to kill in other episodes.

However, the idea of spreading fear is not so bad. As someone who participates in the Great Link, she would believe that the fear would have more influence than it does.
Tue, Apr 17, 2012, 2:11pm (UTC -5)
Yeah, the DS9 crew has undermined the Founders many's hard to imagine they would have spared them. Even if they destroyed the Defiant and its lifepods, there still would have been thousands of others to carry home the demoralized message. The only reason they didn't destroy them is because just about the entire cast of the series was on them.
Thu, May 17, 2012, 1:02am (UTC -5)
Amazing episode. Definetely worth the 4 stars. The destruction of the Defiant even affected me emotionally. I don't know why. Maybe it was Sisko's reaction. Maybe the ship in and of itself had become a character of its own. Maybe I'm just wierd.

Sat, Jun 30, 2012, 7:43pm (UTC -5)
@Nic :

Winn (don't know why I thought it was spelled with a 'y') becomes intent on replacing the prophets (whatever good they do) with "evil fire-monsters", as ConfusedMatthew put it, to set fire to the Universe. Maybe I missed something, but on what level exactly is it a question who the "bad guy" is? The religious arc in DS9 ended up having about as much subtlety and relevance as the end of a bad video game, glowing red eyes and all. Pathetic.
Tue, Dec 4, 2012, 2:12am (UTC -5)
I really liked the Damar/Weyoun arc which offered some new dynamics. But the Dukat/Winn arc let me very disappointed.

Frankly, I'd have preferred to have the writers kill Dukat instead of making him a Paghwraith lover. What happened to Winn was very believable, her distress then the research to seek out what she was in for. Then, poof, they turn her evil ? Yes, she is a woman with hunger for power and yes, she has blood on her hands, but that was because she truly believed she was the one the bajorans needed. She cared for Bajor, during the occupation she tried to ease the pain for some of her fellow bajorans. I'm not saying she was a model of wisdom or goodness, but seeing her accepting to destroy many bajorans or burning the planet she loves is totally out of character. The writers had constructed her characterization very subtly (most of the time), so I'm bitter that this work comes down to this appalling conclusion.
William B
Wed, Apr 24, 2013, 2:52pm (UTC -5)
@Elliott, I want to state how interesting and refreshing your perspective on this show is. I think I am somewhere between Jammer's take on the show and yours.

I disagree with you about Damar here though, for one simple reason. Damar's, and Cardassia's, arc is not over yet. How would Damar come to the conclusion that they deserve freedom? Cardassian society, from what we have largely seen, is an oppressive regime built up with the notion that sacrifice for the state (and crushing opposition) is rewarded. Cardassians as a people have chosen security over freedom (and gotten neither). Damar's speech is in keeping with Cardassian values, and it seems difficult to imagine how Damar, without any particular exposure to other value systems, would be able to get to the value of freedom qua freedom. Nor would Cardassian people particularly respond to that argument, or, at least, that concept would go against the entire Cardassian value system and would be much more revolutionary than the idea that the Dominion has not held up their end of the bargain to Make Cardassia Powerful.

Damar does change over the next several episodes -- the "what kind of people give those orders?" exchange with Kira in which he recognizes the Bajoran perspective on the Occupation for the first time, killing Rusot to protect Kira, the general I Am Spartacus cry for freedom in the last couple episodes -- but he's not there yet. Garak, who has spent much more time outside Cardassia than Damar has, suggests, devastated, in "What You Leave Behind" that Cardassia basically got what they asked for, and one could read that as Garak saying that Cardassia never learned its lesson about the value of freedom until it's too late. In that sense, while Damar has made a step in the right direction in this episode (recognizing that the Dominion has to be overthrown from Cardassia), he's still far from thinking morally, and so the comparison with Winn is not all that far off, though Damar is getting morally better and Winn (admittedly, sadly cartoonishly) is getting morally worse. The story of Cardassia is probably one of the top things to come out of DS9; Garak and pre-Pah Wraiths Dukat (well, except signing on to blow up the Bajoran star system in "By Inferno's Light"), as well as late Damar, are a big part of that.
Wed, Aug 7, 2013, 2:15am (UTC -5)
"You know me so well." - Damar to Weyoun. LOL! PERFECT delivery. Their interplay was the best part of this episode. The Cardassian turnaround was terrific, as were the reaction shots to his speech. Loved it!

I was moved by the destruction of the Defiant as well. Well done.

The only part I disliked: Gul Dukat and the paghwraith nonsense. It's such a shame the way they've destroyed his character.
Sun, Nov 10, 2013, 8:07am (UTC -5)

Things are heating up a bit, but the Bajoran story-line continues to be a major drag on the show.

James R. Kirk
Mon, Jan 6, 2014, 10:13am (UTC -5)
The Dukat/Winn storyline would have been better suited for a novel. It kills the pacing and development of the war arc.
Sat, Jan 18, 2014, 8:44am (UTC -5)
Winn's actions are the opposite of Damar's. Winn, because she didn't get what she wanted from the prophets, decided to stop acting in Bajor's interests and instead act selfishly and against Bajor's interests.

Damar, because Cardassia didn't get what it wanted from the Dominion, decided to stop acting in his own interests and instead act unselfishly in Cardassia's interest.

Winn's story is a classic tragedy, she's brings herself down. Dukat nudges her, but it is still Winn that causes her own downfall. She has opportunities to change the path she is on, but refuses to act. She could have stepped down as Kai. She didn't have to kill her aide. She chooses power each time, and it leads to her undoing.

A good question is would Damar still have turned his back on the Dominion if he didn't see his power being diminished? He was appalled by how casually the Dominion was throwing away Cardassian lives, but on the other hand, the Dominion seems to be setting the Breen over the Cardassians.
Mon, Feb 24, 2014, 2:27am (UTC -5)
Please, please, please, a thousand times please! Really? Blood on a book that makes fire rise and the hidden words to appear? Oh my, that is what they transformed Trek into?

I really enjoyed most of DS9. I even think it had quite a few very powerful episodes and seasons. But really? Kotas has said above that "Things are heating up a bit, but the Bajoran story-line continues to be a major drag on the show". This is very well put. Indeed, this episode has put the arc forward, in interesting ways. Especially due to Damar decision. Of course it makes me interested in seeing the next step of this political and military struggle.

However, it is impossible to watch this and see such lame magictechnobabble dialogues that come without criticism. Jammer and others always criticize the technobabble of a scifi show. It is beyond me how a magictechnobabble is more acceptable to the point of deserving the full four stars. Let’s establish this: a scifi show showing the 24th century has to lose starts and to be blamed when it has scientific-ish technobabble. But should be forgiven or even praised when has magic-ish technobabble.

And what desolates me is that for the writers, talking about the prophets all the time was not enough. Nor was using them as excuses for lame plot-solving such when the prophets made the Dominion ships disappear. Talking about Mamma prophet was not enough. Giving Lord Sith vídeo-game super powers to Dukat last season was not enough. Making Sisko listen to the prophets on Earth and block Bajor's affiliation to the Federation was not enough. Bringing these new allies from nowhere with Power Ranger helmets was not enough. Of course they had also to bring sacred magictechnobabble books with blank pages that become written when blood touches them.
And it is a very strong good Star Trek episode. Please, as far as I have really enjoyed most of this show, this is not Star Trek aymore. Ok, There was Q, there was other unthinkable things in TOS and TNG. That’s always the reply. Ok, granted. But besides each crazy thing being put in context all the time, I am not talking about one esporadic thing here and there. I am talking about the main plot of a Trek show that appears every episode. I am talking about blood on sacred books that get on fire!

Either we should be glad DS9 was ended before us having to see Twilight vampires or magic rings in a Trek series, or I really may have entered into a confusing wormhole myself without noticing.
Mon, Feb 24, 2014, 6:03pm (UTC -5)
To the people who insult Voyager's lack of continuity:

"The Defiant has been destroyed, here's a brand new Defiant."
Tue, Feb 25, 2014, 8:38am (UTC -5)
@Corey: Oh, that's just nonsense. The lack of Voyager continuity was exaggerated by the fact that one ship, on the other side of the galaxy, should have had limited resources. An endless supply of shuttles, a rotating array of crew members and too-easy repairs after episodes like "Deadlock" were far greater problems than the DS9 crew getting a new Defiant.

DS9 was within a couple day's journey of a starbase, and we know that Starfleet vessels were often reassigned (this happened with the Defiant early in the sixth season). Now, you could argue that getting a replacement Defiant undercut some of the drama of the original ship being destroyed. But getting Sisko a new ship was completely plausible.
maple g
Thu, Mar 20, 2014, 6:52am (UTC -5)
Now thats a DS9 episode! So intense. I just wish the Breen had better helmets and costumes. They updated the Starfleet uniforms, so why not make the Breen more badass looking?
Mon, Mar 31, 2014, 6:55pm (UTC -5)
Elliott: Thanks for highlighting one of the things I love about Damar's turnabout here: he is not suddenly being presented as a convert to Federation values: "Freedom is good! Oppression is bad! Pass me a white hat!". He is still very much a cardassian.

As for why we call him a "good guy" - I think that is largely due to the way the storyline has played our human emotions. We have seen him brought down, belittled, stripped of his cocky Cardie attitude by Weyoun and his humiliating position as an unwilling Quisling. His drinking and powerlessness evoked our pity, while his patriotic outrage on behalf of cardassia's dead soldiers cast him in a heroic light. This is great characterization: the writers haven't whitewashed him but they have made us - me, anyway - cheer for him.

K'Elvis, my only disagreement with your take, is your statement that Damar acted unselfishly when he rebelled. That would be true *if* he loved Weyoun and were having a fine time hanging out with him. In fact, his constant humiliation at Weyoun's hands and his consequent (selfish) desire for vengeance, joined with his Cardassian patriotism to make rebellion the obvious choice. His life had become a misery and he had little left to lose.
Sun, Apr 6, 2014, 2:35pm (UTC -5)
Good to see a payoff with some interesting consequences such as San Francisco's destruction and a sense of urgency.

Wed, Jul 2, 2014, 10:52pm (UTC -5)
I agree with Kotas - the Kai Winn/Dukat has continued to detract from all the other good work in these episodes, notably I have not see this season yet but I am now hitting the FF button every time this subplot is on screen. Its poorly written uninteresting maudalin claptrap....
Sat, Jul 12, 2014, 9:49am (UTC -5)
Am I the only one who likes the early season uniforms? You could actually see the shirts and the difference in colors. The later season they all look the same. Don't like it
Wed, Aug 6, 2014, 11:08am (UTC -5)
I find the battles a bit tiresome at this point. There's a disconnect between the ease with which Federation fleets are rendered useless and the pace of the war. I can't reconcile it. If they're beaten that swiftly, shouldn't this have been over much sooner?

That being said, I enjoyed the way this episode wrapped up. The last few episodes have seen Demar begin to question his allegiance and you finally get to see the result of that conflict. They have obviously pulled out all the stops in closing out the series and it holds up well.
Peter Sam
Wed, Aug 13, 2014, 10:50pm (UTC -5)
I don't know if it is intentional, but I noticed some nice hidden similarities in the gags used from the Alamo references throughout the episode. There was a very nice connection from one scene of the story to another and that made the whole thing quite well written as well as executed. The battle of Alamo is strangely similar to the battle that Damar has on his hands in his betrayal of the Dominion and the Breen. Also, the loss of Travis mimics the loss of Kai Winn - the top (wo)man in the Bajoran story - while the battle of the Pah-Wraiths and Prophets is at hand. This episode is so riveting!
Mon, Aug 25, 2014, 12:55pm (UTC -5)
When the Defiant was destroyed to the point of "abandon ship" it didn't resonate with me like Kirk watching his ship's fiery ball enter the atmosphere and saying "Bones, what have I done". It's probably because Defiant was just used, she wasn't part of the crew like 1701, 1701-D and Voyager. (although they tried to make her seem that way)

The Breen's weapon is pretty cool.

Dukat/Winn... Dukat is revealed as himself in disguise and Winn is the one that kills Solbor (not the expected Dukat). I always knew she had it in her. Should be interesting from here on out.

Damar’s turn is quite refreshing. What’s ironic is the Cardassian/Dominion alliance was brokered by Damar’s mentor Dukat. Now Damar seemingly still has respect for him, but he turns Cardassia against the Dominion. I loved listening to his speech to Cardassia.

Also though this was pretty darn funny:

“I could be the last Weyoun. That's why he picked that target.”

Lol, ya think?

Combs’ delivery is perfect as always.

I’ll go 3.5 stars on this one. Pretty exciting episode with huge implications to the war.
Fri, Sep 5, 2014, 11:06pm (UTC -5)
Jammer says "Magical Bajoran properties lead to the secret of the Kosst Amojan's hidden words, but I need not explain this in detail"

I think he should have explained this in detail because I want to know how in Star Trek these magical bajoran properties work. Looks like jammer evaded discussing the major complaint of the series
Mon, Nov 3, 2014, 9:29pm (UTC -5)
This one is very, very strong. A perfect payoff of the previous three episodes.

Even though this is the much-vaunted "9-part" finale arc, I see "Penumbra" through to "Changing Face" as the first, 4-part act. This episode is very, very satisfying and pays off each story well (Damar-Weyoun, Sisko-Kasidy, Worf-Ezri, and Winn-Dukat). The ending sequence with Damar's announcement is very well done and the destruction of the Defiant hits pretty dang hard. The stakes have gone up significantly since the introduction of the Breen alliance. Yes, they're clearly the cheesiest performers on the set at any given time, but their presence impacts the heroes AND the villains in such a fundamental way that makes arguably the most *pivotal* twist in the whole series. Some fans want to know more about them, but I think they quietly fill their role and are handled perfectly (and the bit about their planet not actually being cold is fitting and hilarious).

If there's a weak spot to be found at all in these first four episodes, it's probably the Winn-Dukat stuff. Don't get me wrong, it's well performed and sensibly written. I just can't shake a feeling of dissatisfaction with it, though. I love that Winn is getting a chance to have her own final, nasty arc in the series. But I'm just not all that huge on the pah wraiths. Everything else is so much more interesting. Oh, and the drops of blood scene made me roll my eyes a bit. Not a good thing when the rest of the hour had me on the edge of the seat.

3-1/2 stars. Almost a 4, but not quite. Quality from beginning to end, and an amazing wrap up of the first act of the arc while kick-starting the next.
Mon, Nov 3, 2014, 9:39pm (UTC -5)
I forgot to mention my favourite little moment in this one in the above post:

That little sneer of disgust that passes over Dukat's face before he wakes up Winn at her desk. So good. Was it in the script? A great touch by Alaimo, if not.
Sun, Nov 9, 2014, 9:26am (UTC -5)
I watched DS9 after watching Voyager in its entirety. I read the jammer reviews as I watched both series and noticed how jammer kept eluding to how much better DS9 handled its long term plots than Voyager.

Now watching DS9 and almost at the end of the series, I COMPLETELY understand jammer's feelings on the matter. Why did Voyager seemingly get so much less attention? The two series were produced almost simultaneously. Was it that the whole premise of Voyager's plot and characters made it too difficult to make things any more interesting. Was it just laziness?
Mon, Nov 17, 2014, 3:02pm (UTC -5)
@Weyoun: I also have fond feelings for the earlier-season uniforms. I think the later gray and black uniforms look better and more professional, but they would never happen in real life - they look so incredibly uncomfortable. First of all, your neck is being half-choked, and second of all, there is so much material that is part of the uniform that you'd be sweating constantly if you were wearing it in a normal outdoor environment. I feel uncomfortable just seeing the later uniforms. The TNG uniforms (seasons 3-7, of course) were the best - they looked great and looked just as comfortable.
Thu, Nov 20, 2014, 4:02am (UTC -5)
God damn, this episode was a tour de force! I particularly liked weyoun's anecdote about the Breen's homeworld being quite moderate in climate. The Breen homeworld being portrayed as a frozen ice planet has been a running gag on the show for multiple seasons now.
Brian S.
Thu, Feb 26, 2015, 9:24am (UTC -5)
Boy, Worf is having the worst luck....Over the last 4 episodes, he's been on 3 ships that have been destroyed (the Klingon ship, the Runabout, and now the Defiant).

Worf just spends like a week in an escape pod, gets rescued, then captured & tortured, is bailed out at the last moment before his execution, and just as he gets back to the station, the first battle he gets sent out on....right back into an escape pod.

Worf should probably just take an extended shore leave, though at this point he'd probably find a way to get a paddleboat blown up, too.

Still, he's probably enjoyed his time in escape pods more than he did his own honeymoon on Risa
Mon, Jun 1, 2015, 10:39am (UTC -5)
Wow, Damar really is a kick-ass character he's awesome and shows up Dukat this season big-time. That speech at the end, and the Founder leader's face is just gold!

BUT THE DEFIANT... I don't care how temporary it turned out to be, that SUCKED.
Mon, Jun 1, 2015, 11:44am (UTC -5)
At this point in the show, the Defiant felt like a flesh-and-blood character which we, the audience, had grown to love alongside the actual flesh-and-blood characters (plus one made of changeling goo). At least for me, I think that's why the Defiant's destruction hurt so much, even more so than the Enterprise blowing up in Star Trek III. I didn't feel quite the same way about, say, NX-01 getting pounded in Enterprise Season 3 (which was also devastating, but more from a standpoint of "crap, our heroes are in deep trouble now", less from a standpoint of "no, I love that ship!").

It's a bit hard to explain, but to me, the Defiant was a ship with her own distinct personality, a fighter just like her captain. Even knowing she gets replaced soon in what's essentially a pushing of the reset button doesn't soften the initial blow by much.

Just my two cents.
Mon, Jun 1, 2015, 1:09pm (UTC -5)
The second time I watched the series was about 6 or 7 years after it went off the air and I had totally forgotten (probably because of the reset) that the Defiant gets blasted. Having it dawn on me and remembering the replacement didn't even help. Still gut punched again.
Tue, Jun 2, 2015, 9:06am (UTC -5)
And even with zero power or shields it still took them 5 or 6 direct hits to destroy it. "Tough little ship" indeed!

I remember the first time they showed it using the pulse phasers, it was so different than the regular stream phasers from the Enterprises. What an awesome idea that was :D
Tue, Aug 25, 2015, 1:25pm (UTC -5)
"Magical Bajoran properties lead to the secret of the Kosst Amojan's hidden words, but I need not explain this in detail"

It's funny how easily Jammer uses the word "magical" without commenting on what a problem this is. There is no magic in the Star Trek universe.

I'm fine with the wormhole aliens being worshipped as prophets by the Bajorans. As Sagan said, "A species technologically advanced enough would appear to us as a god." Non-corporal alien races have long been part of Star Trek. That one would be worshipped isn't surprising.

But my problem here is that when Winn's assistant starts talking about "dark, forbidden texts" (i.e. censorship), the episode expects us to side with him. We're supposed to sympathize with this medieval way of thinking about knowledge. At same point, we have to say that DS9 is moving from sci-fi and straight into mystical fantasy.

As for the rest of the episode, I thought the destruction of the Defiant was a bit rushed considering what a big deal it was. But I did like watching the reaction shots to Damar's speech at the end. Damar is one of the most interesting non-main characters in the show.
Tue, Aug 25, 2015, 1:35pm (UTC -5)
@Steve - There are issues with the magic at the end of DS9. But a race that's basically got a theocracy going on has some censorship and that bothers you? On the other hand... we have dark forbidden knowledge too. If you tried to publish details on how to make a backpack nuke the government would be all over your ass in 30 seconds :P Things that would end the world should probably be kept under wraps.

The magic book was kind of stupid, but I don't have an issue with Solbor at all.
Wed, Sep 23, 2015, 10:38am (UTC -5)
Winn actually has every reason to go with the Pah Wraiths, they have been sold as evil fire monsters by the Prophets but as she said she has never felt the Prophets power, likely never had an orb experience or drank enough Kool Aid to feel them and believe.
As she once said in Rapture, during the occupation she was beaten for her faith, then straight after Bajor gained freedom her faith is worthless as the Prophets revealed themselves and to her, looked like the wormhole aliens that everyone else referred to them as. Worse, they did nothing for anyone unlike their adversaries who are imprisoned for what could be good reasons.
Winn could be a covert atheist who thinks the Bajorans are backward and maybe blames the Prophets for the Bajorans regression and being conquered by the Cardassians in the first place.
The Prophets struck me as like the energy and god like beings of TOS which also went with magic books and the like.
Sun, Oct 18, 2015, 5:24pm (UTC -5)
Louise Fletcher did a terrible job selling that the blood spilled onto the book accidentally...she pretty deliberately held it over the book and tilted it.
Ashton Withers
Mon, Nov 2, 2015, 3:16pm (UTC -5)
I must admit it, even I was a little puzzled about how some book magically revealed itself with only one drop of blood. Really, the whole Winn/Dukat arc is my least favorite story from all of the DS9 10 Parter Finale. Just too out of place for me.
Diamond Dave
Tue, Feb 23, 2016, 4:26pm (UTC -5)
Ah, finally some big pay off. This gets big real quickly, but does well in grounding itself in some nice character touches. Most interesting is how Damar and the Cardassians have now come full circle to be the 'good' guys again - the final moments of the Weyoun-Damar conversation is a real joy.

The Breen cause problems on the big scale - the surprise attack on Earth being almost more shocking that the smashing of the joint fleet and the destruction of the Defiant (which is expertly portrayed both in the characterisation and the visual FX).

It's the Winn story that holds this back a little bit - not because she's pretty well doubled down now for the pah-wraiths, but because mystic texts revealed in fire by blood are just a bit on the nose for Star Trek I think. This ain't your Harry Potter.... 3.5 stars.

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