Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Treachery, Faith, and the Great River"

***1/2

Air date: 11/2/1998
Teleplay by David Weddle & Bradley Thompson
Story by Philip Kim
Directed by Steve Posey

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Has it ever occurred to you that the reason you believe the Founders are gods is because that's what they want you to believe? That they built it into your genetic code?"
"Of course they did. That's what gods do. After all, why be a god if there's no one to worship you?"

— Odo and Weyoun-6

Nutshell: Very strong. Some captivating plotting in the background along with a powerful character core.

"Treachery, Faith, and the Great River" gets us back in touch with the "core material" surrounding the DS9 characters, with the first really good Odo-oriented show in quite some time. Lately, DS9 seems to go for broke whenever dealing with its core material, but this episode has a different feel to it: It's somewhat smaller and a bit less far-reaching, and it does what it sets out to do very well.

Over the past few years, DS9 has certainly turned me into a Jeffrey Combs fan. This episode is a good example why. Combs takes Weyoun to a completely new level, which is understandable since the Weyoun in this episode is in essence a very different Weyoun.

The plot: Weyoun contacts Odo with rendezvous coordinates, where he turns himself in as a Dominion defector seeking asylum. The twist: This is a "defective" clone of Weyoun gone "awry"—he doesn't agree with the Dominion agenda of conquering the Alpha Quadrant, and he hopes to bring an end to the war by helping the Federation. The information he has could give the Federation a huge advantage.

The plot's twist puts an established character trait to interesting use. We've known about the Vorta cloning process ever since season five. But here the cloning angle takes on a life of its own. This Weyoun—Weyoun-6, as he is the sixth version—was created after Weyoun-5 was killed in a mysterious transporter accident. With Weyoun-6 now branded a traitor, the replacement's replacement, Weyoun-7, along with Damar, coordinates from Cardassia the hunt for the defector.

What's also interesting to note are the circumstances surrounding Weyoun-5's mysterious demise. There's no proof that his death wasn't an accident, but as Weyoun-7 notes, it was awfully convenient that Damar happened to be called away from the transporter pad seconds before the accident that killed Weyoun-5 occurred. The mutual loathing and mistrust between Weyoun and Damar continues to assure me that we're headed for some sort of major payoff down the line. But who's going to get the better of whom, and what will it do to the Dominion/Cardassian alliance? (The long-term plot patrol puts itself on full alert.) Damar continues to play out treachery in his mind while drinking Kanar like water, possibly on his way to becoming Trek's first recurring alcoholic character; and Weyoun glares at him silently—particularly in one scene where, if icy looks were a phaser, Damar would be nothing more than crispy, char-broiled remains on the ground.

Meanwhile, Weyoun-6 quickly becomes a very wanted man; Damar and Weyoun-7 send Jem'Hadar attack ships to destroy Odo's runabout to prevent Weyoun-6 from revealing military information to the Federation.

This all may sound complicated, but the plot is actually very straightforward, allowing the character core to come out strong. Sure, there's plenty of plotting in the background, but it's subtle and relatively quiet. Meanwhile, the Odo/Weyoun dialog aboard Odo's fleeing runabout takes firm control of the story.

What this episode is really about is the relationship between the Vorta and the Founders. As has been established many times in the past, the Vorta worship the Founders like gods, and this story makes particularly good use of that fact, putting Odo in the middle of a situation where he's worshiped by both the man the enemy wants dead and the man who's calling the enemy's shots. Both are named Weyoun.

What's different about "Treachery" compared to previous episodes that have examined this theme is the way this story brings a more intimate, personal relationship between the worshiper and the worshiped. Weyoun-6 quickly becomes a fascinatingly sympathetic character. And we can see that the fact Odo won't "permit" Weyoun to worship him in the conventional sense (he refuses to be called "Founder" and tells Weyoun that he would treat any prisoner the same as he's treating Weyoun) deeply hurts Weyoun.

There's a great deal of very good dialog between Odo and Weyoun, and through Combs' performance, we can get a sense of how deep these feelings truly run through Weyoun and presumably all Vorta. (Though, at times, I felt that Weyoun's fawning over Odo went just a tad overboard as to become redundant—I probably didn't need it reiterated in every scene.) Auberjonois does a great job of staying in character but reaching out to understand Weyoun's faith in him when he can, particularly at the end.

Meanwhile, Damar and Weyoun-7 delicately plan the death of Weyoun-6. The complication is that Weyoun-7 does not want Odo killed. He remains every bit as respectful to Odo as does Weyoun-6. This makes the strategic moments more interesting, as Damar and Weyoun-7 resort to some dangerous rationalization to write Odo off as "not a Founder," all while knowing they would be very dead if the Founders ever learned they allowed Odo to be killed.

But even more interesting is the subtext when considering the difference between Weyoun-6 and Weyoun-7: One has something in him that makes him believe the war is perfectly justified, while the other doesn't. The implicit question here is: Just what makes us who we are and what we believe? In Weyoun-6's case, it was a cloning "imperfection"; despite having all memories from Weyoun-5, he is compelled to choose a path different from his predecessor.

To revisit a theme, the whole idea of unconditional faith brings back shades of last year's "Rocks and Shoals." Weyoun's faith in the Founders is inherent, and he knows it—but it simply doesn't matter. His faith in Odo is sincere and unwavering, which puts Odo in a personally uncomfortable position—he didn't ask to be a god, but he is a god, like it or not.

The story also drops a major revelation upon us—namely Weyoun telling Odo that a disease is spreading through the Great Link and will possibly kill all the Founders except rogue Odo himself, who could end up being the last of his kind. I probably don't have to explain the consequences that the Founders' deaths would have on the Dominion (I could probably go on for paragraphs), but let's just say this knowledge has evidently been kept quiet up to this point, if Damar's apparent unawareness is any indication. But such knowledge can't be kept secret forever, especially now that Odo knows ... so the schisms in the Dominion/Cardassian alliance could find themselves accelerated as a result of such knowledge.

"Treachery" makes use of the sometimes-dreaded A/B-story structure, which can be a klutzy momentum shifter. But I think it works okay here, probably for the simple reason that I enjoyed the lighthearted B-story. A story about O'Brien desperately trying to acquire a gravity stabilizer for the Defiant (because Sisko told him three days or else) isn't a candidate for most interesting idea of the year, but turning the whole endeavor into a zany comic plot—where O'Brien unwittingly recruits Nog to make a series of trades to acquire the stabilizer as quickly as possible—works well for what it sets out to do.

I loved the idea of Nog temporarily loaning Sisko's desk out to a man who "likes to take pictures of himself sitting behind the desks of famous Starfleet captains." And Bashir's playful sarcasm at O'Brien's desperate idea to replace Sisko's missing desk with a different desk ("It's white, it's the wrong shape, it's the wrong height, it's the wrong width. But other than that, it's perfect. The captain will never suspect you switched desks on him.") was downright funny. Nog's role in all of this melds Starfleet motivation with Ferengi beliefs—a surprisingly palatable notion. (What's also interesting is that the title of this episode can be applied equally appropriately to either storyline. Weird.)

"Treachery" is a solid, well-constructed show. It makes a lot of sense, offers a lot of promising plot progression, and frames its action sequences and special effects nicely, as logical pieces of a well-performed character story. It probably comes as no surprise that Weyoun-6 dies by the end of the episode. But it's how he dies that proves important, because it shows how he didn't really have a choice if he wanted to be true to himself and his gods. If the Founders really are dying and Odo really will be the last of his kind, then what choice did Weyoun have but to kill himself before the Jem'Hadar attack ships were to kill both he and Odo? Weyoun's death scene is actually quite moving, with Weyoun dying in his own god's arms while Odo simply has to ponder all the confusion of a painful and complicated situation he never wanted.

And now that Odo knows he might someday be the only Founder left standing when the war is over, what kind of responsibility will he have to all parties involved when the dust settles? Can he deal with the situation or even the looming possibility itself?

These are questions I enjoy asking, and I look forward to seeing them answered.

Next week: Is it a good day for Kor to die?

Previous episode: Chrysalis
Next episode: Once More Unto the Breach

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24 comments on this review

idiotghos - Mon, Oct 15, 2007 - 10:52pm (USA Central)
This was a fantastic episode.
Mal - Mon, Apr 19, 2010 - 2:26pm (USA Central)
Interestingly, the first few times I saw this episode, I hadn't read your review, and I thought of the Nog/O'Brien story as the A-story, and the Odo/Weyoun story as the B-story. But now that I've read your review, I can't get your viewpoint out of my head. It just goes to show you how important a role framing plays in how we judge art and the world around us.
Bruce - Sat, May 1, 2010 - 11:30am (USA Central)
No idea what prevented this from getting 4 stars. It's one of my favorite episodes in the series. The serious, long-term implications and revelations of the A-plot were masterfully melded with one of the most entertaining B-plots I can recall. This is the episode where I really came to appreciate how likable and unique Nog could be as a character.
Marco P. - Sun, Aug 22, 2010 - 1:32am (USA Central)
A solid episode. It's surprising how well the Nog/O'Brien B-story fits into the main Odo/Weyoun storyline. A much-needed comic-relief from the high moments of drama.

My only criticism: in practical terms, it makes much more sense to have the Vorta's suicide mechanism be instantaneous. Surely the Founders could have genetically made it so, and even though I'm willing to suspend my disbelief on this one, the fact we have a "delayed response" is only helpful in terms of the show's requirements: namely that Weyoun-6 must die in the arms of hid god Odo for much more compelling drama. Sorry but it sounds just a tad convenient.
Nic - Fri, Oct 8, 2010 - 8:31am (USA Central)
I thought this episode suffered a little from Split Personality Syndrome. The B-story wasn't bad on its own terms (though it was too similar to "Progress" and "In the Cards") but I think the comedic moments took away from the serious and potentially important developments in the war and the drama of Weyoun defecting. The A-story could have carried the hour on its own, and would probably have deserved four stars in that case.
Polt - Sun, Feb 6, 2011 - 3:01pm (USA Central)
An entertaining episode, but I don't think it's worth the stars you gave it. The B-Story was a bit too much like "In The Cards" for me. It was a still a good funny tale, but haven't we seen it before?

And the A-story left a buncha of questions in my head. If the Jem Hadar were blocking the runabout's transmission so Odo could contact them, then how did Weyoun get a transmission all the way out to Cardassia?

The larger question (and it may have been answered in later episodes, I forget) but if ALL the FOunders are infected, both in the Alpha AND the Gamma Quadrants, then the infection had to take place before the mining of the wormhole, else there was no way for the Female FOunder to be infected. BUT, if she was infected before she left the Gamma QUadrant, and she and Odo merged together after she got here, then why isn't Odo infected as well?

Again, this may be answered in an upcoming episode. But the fact this is so glaring to me lowers my opinion of it somewhat.
Jay - Sun, Feb 6, 2011 - 4:02pm (USA Central)
Surely the time Weyoun and Odo were on the runabout together hiding amounted to more than 16 hours, so one wonders when he regererates. In fact, one wonders how Odo can partake any runabout missions alone...
Travis - Sat, Feb 19, 2011 - 5:36am (USA Central)
One of the things I enjoyed most about the "great river" story was how true to life it was. The whole barter system for needed parts plays out here in my unit in Afghanistan on a weekly basis and probably has throughout military history.
D - Tue, Mar 1, 2011 - 10:20pm (USA Central)
I couldn't agree more. From the previous Weyouns in the plot, all we saw was a cold, manipulative, power hungry driven man.

The first Weyoun we did see, the vibe I got from him was, "these Jem'Hadar are disposable and their faith will never amount up to a Vortas faith." With this one episode, we got to see a different side to the clone. Weyoun Six was still unblinkingly faithful to his gods, and expressed total sorrow after he informed Odo on how to destroy a Jem'Hadar warship.

The episode, in a way, screams, "who are you really?"

Regarding the plot in the episode itself, I find it one of the most developed episodes because it gives quite a lot of insight on the enemy, who started up the war, and what they will lower themselves to in order to 'win.'
enniofan - Wed, Apr 6, 2011 - 1:37pm (USA Central)
it was excellent, that look Weyoun-7 gives Damar after telling 5 about the transporter incident.


great episode in every way.
gtr - Wed, Sep 14, 2011 - 6:14pm (USA Central)
Can't really see what all the fuss is about this episode; personally it didn't really grab me.

Apart from anything else I just can't believe that Weyoun-7 would allow Odo to be killed. It just didn't feel plausible at all.

Same goes for Weyoun-6's motivations in defecting; they just didn't feel fleshed-out enough to be believable.

The only really interesting juicy bit was the mistrustful dynamic between Damar and Weyoun. The rest somehow just felt a bit boring and contrived...
Bob - Thu, Sep 22, 2011 - 6:39pm (USA Central)
Enjoyed both halves a lot.

Travis - I think you're right on the money as to the B-plot being true to military life. It also reminded me a lot of Radar- or Klinger-based B-plots on M*A*S*H.
Crewman6 - Tue, Oct 4, 2011 - 12:46pm (USA Central)
You gotta wonder if CIrroc Lofton was ever personally frustrated by the fact that Nog was given so much better and better material as the series progress while Jake, sadly, remained permanently stuck on the sidelines.

Justin - Mon, Apr 30, 2012 - 10:20pm (USA Central)
I really liked the story of the wounded changeling and the forest-dwelling family of Vorta. A charming bit of Trek mythology.

Speaking of charming, too bad more episodes didn't depict the Ferengi characters like this one did - clever and charming insdead of greedy and silly.
Latex Zebra - Thu, May 10, 2012 - 4:13pm (USA Central)
Just finished watching this and its a 4 from me. Both stories are excellent.
It should get an extra half star for the chase through the Kuiper belt.
Andi - Sat, Sep 22, 2012 - 1:51pm (USA Central)
The story didn't work for me at all.

How could Odo believe that he is not infected?

Why would Odo be the last one? What about the other 100 that were sent away?

It just doesn't make any sense. Also, the Runabout destroying the Jem Hadar Attack Ship with one phaser hit? Come on.
Wouter Verhelst - Sat, Mar 2, 2013 - 12:06pm (USA Central)
I just *love* the Nog/O'Brien story here. We already know Nog isn't afraid to use his Ferengi talents (Saurian Brandy anyone?), but here we see how it works out in detail.

It's not always something we'd want to be involved in, but Nog's heart certainly is in the right place. And indeed, O'Brien's reactions to Nog's exploits are... fun to watch.
T'Paul - Wed, Aug 7, 2013 - 8:25am (USA Central)
I liked how Weyoun/Coombs was able to convey some of the vulnerability of the small primate ancestors of the Vorta in this episode, and their pride and wonder at their new status in the Dominion. Very convincing.
JPaul - Thu, Oct 17, 2013 - 10:03pm (USA Central)
Weyoun-7 says that Weyoun-6 is defective, but it seems clear to me that Weyoun-7 doesn't know everything Weyoun-6 knows. If Weyoun-7 knew the Founders were dying, he wouldn't agree to have Odo killed, the last remaining healthy founder. I think the Founders realized they made a mistake telling Weyoun-6 the whole truth after it precipitated his defection.
Kotas - Wed, Nov 6, 2013 - 9:05pm (USA Central)
First good episode of season 7. A nice intermingling of a one serious and one lighthearted story-line.

7/10
Kid Marine - Wed, Jan 8, 2014 - 1:27am (USA Central)
Weyoun - "It's just such an honor to be with a Go... security officer." That's the funniest line in Trek history if you ask me.
K'Elvis - Fri, Jan 10, 2014 - 10:58am (USA Central)
Could Damar have tampered with the clones? Having Weyoun-5 killed doesn't accomplish much, if you know you're just going to get a Weyoun-6 that is just like his predecessor. But instead, Damar gets rid of Weyoun-5, and gets a Weyoun-6 that is different from his predecessor. And so he's replaced by Weyoun-7, and as JPaul points out, Weyoun-7 is willing to kill a changeling. This is behavior very much unlike previous Vorta behavior, Weyoun-7's behavior is in its own way as unusual as is Weyoun-6's.

I submit that Damar killed Weyoun-5, and tampered with Weyoun-6, in the hopes of getting different behavior. He did get different behavior, but not behavior he desired. Damar than tampered wth Weyoun-7, which produced a Weyoun with reduced loyalty to the Founders. This would be much more to Damar's liking.

If you look at the Vorta as a product instead of as a person, both Weyoun-6 and Weyoun-7 are "defective". They aren't behaving according to product specifications. But that's only one perspective, people aren't products, they don't need to meet someone else's specifications.

I think it is pretty safe to say that the origin story Weyoun told about the Vorta was a lie. I'm sure Weyoun believed it, but it most likely was a lie the Founders told them. That they were once primitives, and as a reward for helping a changeling, they were turned into the Vorta of today. Not likely. More likely is that the Founders conquered them and decided they would be useful lackeys. Whatever culture the Vorta really had would have been wiped out. I think Weyoun-6 might be a step closer to the original free Vorta. He still is devoted to the Founders, but has a mind of his own, and a willingness to question the decisions of the Founders, if not question their godhood. That's too far for Weyoun-6 to go.
Ric - Sun, Feb 23, 2014 - 10:40pm (USA Central)
Finally! It took 6 episodes for season 7 to deliver an episode that is at the same time watchable and not Trek-offensive. And it did deliver well: quite a strong episode, with a simple and still quite smart premise. Humor was present organically and even the O'Brien and Nog plot B sort of worked.

There is still a piece of hope for DS9 S7.
Bravestarr - Tue, Apr 15, 2014 - 9:51am (USA Central)
Once again Nog saves the day.

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