Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"The Adversary"

3 stars

Air date: 6/19/1995
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by Alexander Singer

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Look, I have more important things to do than play 'Choose the Changeling.'" — O'Brien to dual Odos

More foreboding is the result of DS9's season three finale, a "quasi-cliffhanger" like "The Jem'Hadar" that's a punchy adventure story in itself while also promising that it's just one of many more to come in the Dominion saga. Here the Dominion affirms itself as a dangerous, malevolent enemy that will be knocking on the Federation's door next year, if not pounding it down. They truly hold the intimidating creepiness that the Borg had looming over TNG after "Q Who."

But first, the lighter moments.

The show begins with a long-awaited character moment as Sisko is awarded his promotion from Commander to Captain. I knew it would happen eventually, but happening in this episode proves to be one of the season's most unexpected and pleasant surprises. Finally, Sisko can say "Captain's Log." I like it.

Another character element I like is the continued back-burner development of the Sisko and Kasidy Yates relationship. Since the creation of Captain Yates' character in "Explorers," the writers have done exactly what should be done with relationship stories on Star Trek: They're taking the slow, subtle, plausible route—keeping it alive while not going overboard. In this outing, Dax presses Sisko for some information about their relationship. The results are, in a word, amiable. Indeed, the writers have worked with Sisko a lot this season, and the results have been very good.

From here, "Adversary" delves into a Defiant-based plot when Ambassador Krajensky (Lawrence Pressman, who also guest-starred in "Second Skin") orders Sisko to take the Defiant on a one-week patrol of the Tzenkethi border. The Federation had been at war with the Tzenkethi over a decade ago, and Krajensky brings news of a coup on their homeworld which could potentially be the beginning of another Federation threat.

Upon leaving the station, O'Brien and Dax discover the Defiant's command systems have been sabotaged. Radiation residue places Ambassador Krajensky at the scene of the crime, but the crew discovers Krajensky is not who he appears to be when he suddenly morphs into an air vent and escapes. Krajensky is a Changeling.

The Changeling's sabotage devices allow him to take control of the ship, which he pilots straight for Tzenkethi space with all weapons armed. He hopes to start a war between the Federation and Tzenkethi by hitting the Tzenkethi fast and hard. With the Federation busy fighting the Tzenkethi, the Dominion would presumably have little trouble coming through the wormhole and conquering the Alpha Quadrant.

Obviously, the crew must stop the Changeling at all costs. Sisko sets up teams of two, armed with phaser rifles to systematically search the ship for the Changeling. Making the task difficult, however, is the fact that the Changeling can look like anything—or anybody.

And here's where "Adversary" works best. It's the best-case scenario for a Star Trek plot along the lines of The Thing. It becomes quite an effective paranoid thriller—working the gears where Voyager's "Cathexis" failed miserably.

Unlike that outing, this episode proves genuinely intense in many places, with its healthy doses of crew paranoia and creepy Changeling masquerading. There's even a blood test Bashir performs to determine if one of the crew members is not as he appears (brrrr...). For most of the way, director Alexander Singer paces the suspense quite well through an impressive collection of Defiant sets, and he gets the helping hand from a fairly effective Chattaway score.

There are also some good character moments, such as the scene between Sisko and Lt. Commander Eddington (Kenneth Marshall) when they discuss the personal meanings of rank. Eddington also has some good scenes with Odo. One reveals the fact that throughout his years as security chief, Odo has never fired a weapon or taken a life, and he doesn't intend to start now with one of his own kind. Very interesting stuff.

Even the seemingly obligatory idea of Sisko arming the Defiant's auto-destruct sequence makes sense here. (Although, is it too much to ask why the auto-destruct program was not disabled by the Changeling's devices?) "One thing is for sure," Sisko says. "We're not going to start a war with the Tzenkethi." This gives Chief O'Brien a limited time to regain control of the ship. Meanwhile, Odo chases the other shapeshifter through the air vents.

One thing Alexander Singer severely botches is the timing on the computer's destruct sequence warnings. A glaring 2 1/2 minutes vanish into thin air when the auto-destruct countdown jumps from ten minutes to seven minutes in an interval of less than 30 seconds—way too noticeable to be ignored. (At the very least, he could've cut briefly to an external view of the ship to signify time passing.)

Something the writers severely botch, however, is Sisko's behavior after he arms the auto-destruct. As the fate of the ship lies in O'Brien's hands, Sisko displays a helplessness that borders on downright apathy. This is completely out of character and I don't like it. I know Sisko better than that!

And of course, you know the writers had to throw in the two Odos trick, presented here to O'Brien in the engine room as he attempts to disable the Changeling's ship takeover devices. Fortunately, this overused bright idea is satirized when O'Brien unleashes the season's best-delivered one-liner—"Look, I have more important things to do than play 'Choose the Changeling.'"

The final showdown plays out here between Odo and the Changeling, ending when the evil shapeshifter is fried by warp core radiation during their struggle. The sequence boasts some impressive CGI morphing effects but, more importantly, gives Odo a personal tragedy when he's forced to take a life for the first time—while also being the first to break the tradition "No Changeling has ever harmed another" by killing one of his own kind. Although this ending is a bit abrupt and Lawrence Pressman doesn't get much in terms of interesting dialogue with Odo, his death scene of reverting into a liquid and then crumbling into dust is a well-realized visual effect. The Changeling has a final message before dying. "It's too late," he whispers to Odo. "We're everywhere."

The idea of a threat from within is still fascinating—reminiscent of the never-developed TNG plotline "Conspiracy." Also, the Dominion has fully established itself in the Trek encyclopedia of villains this season, and we will surely see them again. However, "Adversary" brings up some concerns about what the intentions of this storyline are. In one year, the Founders have gone from Gamma Quadrant monitors to Alpha Quadrant spies. If Dominion operatives are "everywhere," where does DS9 as a series lie?

On one hand, it's nice to know the Defiant is available to escape the station for a fresh starship story. On the other hand, I worry that the writers may forget about Bajor's problems in favor of feeling compelled to go the TNG action/adventure route. And by having the Dominion infiltrate the Federation, they may be over their heads in internal conspiracy—something the series has no real obligation to stress considering the station is on the very edge of Federation space. Bajor has its own problems to deal with. Do we really need to have an attack on the heart of the Federation?

For that matter, is the Defiant really the ship that should be sent on a Starfleet mission like this? (Episodes like this always make me wonder who's left in charge of the station.) One Defiant issue that never really got resolved was what happened to the severe flaws the ship had. Unless Sisko has become an extreme risk-taker by ordering maximum warp of a ship which should tear itself apart at such speeds, we have to assume these flaws were fixed. Still, it would've been nice to at least have a line explaining it.

In any case, "Adversary" is a good season finale—entertaining, suspenseful, and a lure for viewers to come back next season. As for what the writers plan to do with this most extreme threat, only time will tell.

Previous episode: Facets
Next episode: The Way of the Warrior

End-of-season article: Third Season Recap

◄ Season Index

37 comments on this review

Greg M
Wed, Jun 17, 2009, 2:16am (UTC -5)
I don't know how long it's been since the comments section has been here, but I'm very surprised this episode doesn't get any talk around here, much like Equilibrium. I mean for one Sisko gets promoted to Captain, which was big in and of itself. It needed to be done and I'm glad it was finally done in the season 3 finale. Then you had the revelation about the Changelings being everywhere, and that's a great episode to transition between Season 3 and 4. I wonder if this episode would get more comments if Way of the Warrior hadn't been the premiere, but I'd like to think the real premiere was pushed back with Homefront and Paradise Lost.

As for this one, maybe it's not in the top 3 finales, but it's still a great one anyway. Nice way to end season 3.
Fri, Sep 4, 2009, 9:07pm (UTC -5)
The other great thing about this episode is that if you haven't seen it in a while, you tend to forget about the Tzenkethi part of the plot, so the first half of the episode is like you've never seen it before.

By the way, the "2 1/2 minute jump" during the auto-destruct sequence also happened in Voyager's "Dreadnaught." Maybe ALL Starfleet vessels are programmed with this error to confound the enemy?
Joan T
Tue, May 11, 2010, 4:45pm (UTC -5)
I've noticed this in a few Next Gen eps, when the captain orders all 'non-essential' - personnel locked up. However on the Defiant, which as I understand is a no-frills, battle-ready ship, who are the 'non essential' personnel? Do they mean the janitorial staff? Any help here?
Tue, Sep 7, 2010, 11:21pm (UTC -5)
Joan T, I always figured that while it's no frills, the crew is also not all staying at their post 26 hours a day. They're sleeping, eating, in the Mess, etc. So you'd already have at least 1/2 to 2/3 of the crew that didn't need to be on duty at any moment and would therefore be nonessential. Throw in the fact that at the moment the ship is a runaway train and out of the hands of the crew, and so plenty of people who would normally be running maintenance aren't needed (if the sabotage devices control helm and weapons, who needs to man the helm or the weapons batteries?). At that point, it seemed like the only "essential personnel needed were the security teams sweeping the ship, O'Brien's engineering team fighting to fix the ship, and maybe a nurse to stay with Dax. The rest are pretty much made obsolete by the duty rotation and the sabotage's automating the ship.
Wed, Oct 20, 2010, 10:46pm (UTC -5)
You can't deny that DS9 knows how to hook a person into watching the next season. And usually with only one line. The Jem'Hadar - "They're coming, and I want to be ready." (or something to that effect" And now "You're too late, we're everywhere." Curses, at this point in time, I can't afford to keep paying for new DVDs :P
David F
Sat, Feb 5, 2011, 10:01am (UTC -5)
I just watched this episode for the second time last night after not seeing it for a long time. I found the episode highly enjoyable but with some glaring flaws that were never dealt with that I just don't understand.

1) Like you said, who is control of the station? DS9 is a Bajoran station, and the Defiant is a Federation starship. Kira and Odo should be on the station. Granted, on a mission like this Odo should go along since he is a Changeling. There is no reason why Kira should be there. Is she representing Bajoran interests? How can she be first officer of a Federation starship? These questions were never answered....but at least they were not as glaring as they were in "Tears of the Prophets".

2) Another flaw, is nobody did their homework on the Tzenkethi? Sisko was just promoted to Captain but did no independent study or gather any information for the mission? He just took the Ambassador's word for everything and that was that? I would think if there was a coup, Sisko might look at a few reports or ask around to see what information he could gather.

3) Who are the Tzenkethi? Why do we care about them? Are they powerful? I think it would have resonated more if they were a species we had known about in the past, because otherwise how powerful could they be if we never heard of them before? Or were they just stating that any war would be destabilizing? In my opinion, it would have resonated more if they mentioned a species that people were familiar with.

4) I do have to say that the last minute of the episode was terrific. It does leave you wanting to come back to season 4.
Mon, Feb 7, 2011, 10:31am (UTC -5)
Yup, DS9 really did know how to end a season: with a great episode and a dash of ominous foreboding. I'm a little tired of the traiditional hyped-up cliff-hanger formula, I think DS9 was really ahead of its time with this new approach to season enders, it really set the stage for most of today's TV serials.
Wed, Oct 19, 2011, 4:14pm (UTC -5)
They already said they were everywhere in another episode or said that was their plan. They even told Odo, he was the first to return and others would come back. Not much suspense to me. The only thing they didn't say before is "Your too late."
But I'm sure they will blame this spies death on Odo, because he is apparently not supposed to harm another liquid blob. I mean they don't really have a name right? Liquid CGI BLOB? Sry, Founders sounds like a club, not a species.
Gaius Maximus
Sun, Jul 1, 2012, 7:03pm (UTC -5)
I like this episode a lot, but the use of the never seen or even mentioned before or again Tzenkethi has always bugged me. The first time I saw the episode I was thinking, "War with the Tzenkethi? Oh no, I guess. Who the heck are the Tzenkethi?" I think the writers really should have used the Romulans or the Cardassians here, but if for some reason they didn't want to use a major power, then at least a minor power we'd heard of before would have been better. Just off the top of my head, the Gorn, the Talarians, the Sheliak, the Tholians, or even the Breen would have been a reasonable choice. Still, it's basically a minor quibble with an excellent show.
Paul M.
Mon, Jul 8, 2013, 7:03am (UTC -5)
@Gaius Maximus

Agreed. Cardassians would work absolutely perfectly in this episode. Ambassador Krajensky tells Sisko about the need to show the flag after the recent coup on Tzenkethi homeworld. That's exactly what happens on Cardassia the very next episode!

This episode would have set up Way of the Warrior perfectly. I am really surprised they didn't use this opportunity to their advantage.
Wed, Oct 23, 2013, 9:06am (UTC -5)

Another solid season finale. DS9 does a good job with ending and starting seasons.

Tue, Nov 5, 2013, 12:11pm (UTC -5)
Hard to imagine the holodeck being able to recreate Game 7 of a World Series from 1964 with much accuracy, considering the technology of the time.

Unless the creators of these types of programs actually travel back in time to the events to "film" them.

Sat, Feb 22, 2014, 4:48pm (UTC -5)
I rather like the idea of the unknown Tzenkethi being a plot point here. I do wish we had learned more of them in the future though. I also agree that Sisko should have done some homework regarding the supposed uprising in their government rather than just hopping on the ship and taking off. I suppose maybe off-screen he did and ended up reading falsified reports courtesy of the changeling.

Pretty strong finish though to a nearly consistently good season 3.
Tue, Aug 5, 2014, 9:58am (UTC -5)
Not the best season ender in this series but it was above average.

Good drama hunting down the changling... good death scene, goo - then dust... interesting.

I had no problem with the Tzenkethi. Obviously a plant by the Founders...

Sisko makes Captain .... interesting... is Bajor in the Federation yet?

3.0 stars.
David J
Thu, Aug 21, 2014, 8:00pm (UTC -5)
I loved how faddil played the changeling disguised as bashir when o'brien catches him in the tube. It was oh so slightly off, but not obvious.
Mon, Mar 2, 2015, 12:56am (UTC -5)
A great season end. This is my second time seeing this episode and it was really good. I was also surprised at Sisko's despondency over the self-destruct countdown, not a normal Sisko moment. Regardless, it didn't take away from the show. I am with the rest of you, why was Kira on the ship? Maybe I am being nitpicky, but they should have locked the blue-guy in his quarters or the brig. He was too scared, he disobeyed his captain after he totally panicked and accused Kira of being a shapeshifter. I think he was so scared he was seeing things.
Sun, Aug 23, 2015, 2:16pm (UTC -5)
A few problems:

-It strikes me as odd that an ambassador gives "orders" to a Starfleet officer, although I think it's happened before in Star Trek.

-when they described the phaser adjustments, I thought the beams would spread out in a cone and cover all the walls of the Jeffries tubes. This makes sense; the changeling could be disguised as pipe, wiring, and/or bulkhead along the ships corridor. Still, the actual special effects only showed the beams shooting in a straight line down the tubes....which would only really be effective if the changeling was invisible or on the opposite wall.

Despite that, I agree with Jammer's review that this is a good season finale. And I agree with Vylora that I was fine with a new race Tzenkethi being used here, but it would have been nice to have them come up later in the series.

As to Yanks question "is Bajor in the Federation yet". No, they're not (which is an important plot point later in the series)
Mon, Aug 24, 2015, 7:43am (UTC -5)
@methane - I always just wrote off the ambassador giving orders thing as "we don't know their rank". I assume that since ambassador is a job, not a rank, that some ambassadors are civilians and others (like Ambassador Spock) are not. Do we think Spock lost his rank when he took the job? Or what about Worf becoming an ambassador at the end of DS9? Can he no longer give orders to anyone? I guess I just assumed some high ranking admirals took choice ambassadorships on occasion and that explains why some ambassadors seem to carry rank and others are simply diplomats.
Mon, Aug 24, 2015, 6:25pm (UTC -5)
The civilians are above the military. Ambassadors many times are put in positions in charge of military assets.

mathane, my point is, why should Sisko get ptomoted if he hasn't completed his mission?
Tue, Aug 25, 2015, 6:46am (UTC -5)
"mathane, my point is, why should Sisko get ptomoted if he hasn't completed his mission? "

My 2 cents is that the mission has changed. Sisko went from the commander of a backwater space port to the commander of the wormhole. He's become the front line of defense vs the Dominion and the head of an interstellar trade hub.

Bajor is still on the agenda, but I had no problem with the promotion here. Also, while he screws the pooch is season 5 in regards to Bajor's Federation admission, in S4's Crossfire Shakaar says "I've been trying to get them to cut the timetable for Bajor's admittance into the Federation by half. But every time I think I've made them understand my reasons, they remind me that every member of the Federation has gone through the same admittance process. "

So he went from a flimsy provisional government to a stable one under Shakaar, managed to not end up with Prime Minister Winn, stopped a takeover by the xenophobic Circle, etc.

We went from a crappy situation with Bajor to one where the Prime Minister is literally BEGGING for membership. And actually Shakaar wins the election right before Sisko gets promoted. If I had to guess I'd say the continuing improvement in the Bajor situation coupled with an exponential increase in his responsibilities are responsible for his promotion.
Tue, Aug 25, 2015, 6:47am (UTC -5)
"The civilians are above the military. Ambassadors many times are put in positions in charge of military assets.

mathane, my point is, why should Sisko get ptomoted if he hasn't completed his mission? "

I know this, but we also know that some ambassadors carry rank. Spock is at least a Captain to my memory.
Tue, Aug 25, 2015, 7:24pm (UTC -5)
I believe Spock is unique in that regard.

Good point about the Bajoran government. I guess one could consider that success.
Wed, Aug 26, 2015, 10:40pm (UTC -5)
Robert - I always assumed ambassadors for the Federation either resigned/retired from Starfleet or were on an indefinite leave of absence. I suppose that could be different in the Federation.

Yanks - "The civilians are above the military. Ambassadors many times are put in positions in charge of military assets".

Ambassadors don't put themselves in charge of military assets; the civilian leader (President, Prime Minister, etc.) can assign military assets to ambassadors. This episode gives a good reason why random civilians (even those with titles like ambassadors) can't go in an just order the military assets around. They could be trying to start a war!

In a situation like this, you'd expect the Federation diplomatic corps to ask the Federation President (or whichever official runs Starfleet) to officially order Starfleet to take the ambassador out (this could be the Presidential underlings making the arrangement, with him just signing orders), and even follow the ambassador's commands to an extent. Starfleet Command would then issue their orders to Sisko (or to an Admiral who would then order Sisko), detailing the mission, which Sisko would then carry out.

Yanks - "my point is, why should Sisko get promoted if he hasn't completed his mission?"

Well, I think Federation membership is a long-term goal, not something they expected to happen in a few years. To use real world examples, the Berlin Wall fell in 1989; other than Eastern Germany, the first nations from the Communist block didn't join NATO until 1999; they didn't join the EU until 2004! Sisko can be doing his job well (worthy of promotion) even if he hasn't completed that long-term mission.
Thu, Aug 27, 2015, 8:04am (UTC -5)
methane, we are saying the same thing. since we don't ever see a power battle between Sisko and the ambassador I think it's fair to assume that the arrangements you mention happened off screen.
Sun, Aug 30, 2015, 9:20pm (UTC -5)
For most Star Trek episodes with ambassadors, I would agree. But at the end of this episode, we find out the real ambassador was supposed to be on vacation, and the Tzenkethi coup that was the cause of their alleged mission never happened.

The impression those revelations give is that the changeling showed up at DS9 right after kidnapping the real ambassador, gave a mission, and nobody checked with Starfleet or the Federation, as they would have quickly found out something was wrong.

The alternative, of course, was that the Changeling had spent some time at Starfleet or the higher levels of the Federation bureaucracy, impersonating multiple people to fake intelligence about a coup and set up the mission. But 1) that doesn't seem to be how the writers were presenting it and 2) that would have immediately sent up alarm bells at DS9 and in Starfleet, because they would have started searching for what else the changeling could have done while there. They would have no reason to believe the only thing the changeling did while at the Federation and/or Starfleet was set up this mission. Our DS9 characters certainly don't seem specifically concerned about this possibility.
William B
Sun, Sep 27, 2015, 5:14pm (UTC -5)
Well, so ends season three. I'm going to loop back and talk about the last few episodes of the season soon, but the finale is fresh in my mind.

I have little to say about the main plot elements of "The Adversary." It is reminiscent of something like the John Carpenter version of The Thing, though not as effective. It is an action story, a spooky enemy story, and at times a paranoid thriller. On the last part, the "whom to trust?" question is dealt with most frustratingly in the increasing number of times people get separated (at one point, Odo and Eddington are separated with no explanation whatsoever, after we've already had several scenes); something about the way that Bolian security ensign flips out at Kira registered as particularly fake and over-the-top. And ultimately, most of it was hard for me to get into as an action show, because I kept getting annoyed at the choices that were being made. Send teams of more than two people, so that it would not be easy for the shapeshifter in a team of two to sneak up on the other one; make use of the "nonessential" personnel (WHY ARE THERE "NONESSENTIAL" PERSONNEL ON THIS MISSION?) as well as the security people and senior staff, at least for extra eyes; have more than one guy protecting O'Brien working in Engineering, and when there are two Odos standing there, either stun both of them or at least send both of them to the brig, since one of them is definitely the changeling. This is in addition to the idea that Sisko's first action as captain is to follow the orders of an ambassador without doing any checking whatsoever on the veracity of his statements, leaving the station defenseless since he takes the entire senior staff on this trip whose purpose is to "show the flag." (On the changeling side, why does he keep Bashir alive? I don't get it.)

The compelling personal element to this story is Odo being forced to kill another changeling, and the episode sets this up pretty clearly by having Odo remind us of the "no changeling has ever harmed another" bit, as well as Odo's comment that he has gone his life without killing anyone. Given Elliott's pointing out in his review of "The Adversary" just a day or two ago that Odo is horrified at the idea that he is a monster, yes, but even more so that he is a CRIMINAL, I like how Odo's action here runs against Odo's whole code -- Odo doesn't use weapons, Odo doesn't kill, Odo is not a criminal, but here he kills and breaks the most fundamental taboo of his people. It's an especially interesting moment because of the quasi-rape of the other changeling trying to force a link on Odo, and Odo's partly instinctual, almost angry reaction leading him to push his adversary into the warp field, causing his death; Odo certainly was protecting the Defiant crew (and the Alpha Quadrant, as a result), but I think the violence also comes out in part because of the intense violation of his personal boundaries, which is made even more intense by the fact that he *wants* on some level to Link with the changeling, but has to fight against it. In some senses, we have a bit of a version of this with Dr. Mora, where Odo is made angrier with Mora's attempts to get close to him because Odo wants to on some level; but this is even stronger. The severing of Odo's connection to his people via killing also has particular impact after the way "Facets'" Odo/Curzon thing found another way to approach Odo's changeling nature and loneliness, which, more on that when I write about that episode (I'm predictable, but still, I do think the Odo[/Curzon] material in that episode was largely its strongest bits). I think the episode maybe should have focused more strongly on Odo's headspace; there are hints of the other version of this story, where everything was filtered to some extent through Odo's experiences and the crew's affections for and anxieties about Odo -- see, for instance, Eddington asking Odo where he would go if he were the changeling and Odo's defensive reaction.

Sisko's promotion to captain: well, it is certainly appropriate for Sisko to be a captain given the amount of responsibility he has, with the increased strategic importance of DS9. Still, I really do feel like the teaser would have been sufficient, rather than laying on the HE'S A CAPTAIN NOW stuff repeatedly, especially when it really is true that this does not change anything, since it does not seem as if his duties or privileges are different in any practical way. (I also tend to think the episode should have *either* done the "this is my last commander's log" thing or the "my son the writer says I should say some words etc. etc. but all I can think of is: captain's log" log entry, but not both.) And what was up with that Eddington scene, with the "I really agreed with what Chief O'Brien said, about it being a long time coming" or whatever? I really have no idea. I wonder if it's meant to be character development for the obviously underwritten Eddington, but the whole scene just felt bizarre.

"It's too late. We're everywhere" is an impressive hook for next season, particularly after having an episode devoted to why changelings' abilities make them dangerous.

I think probably 2.5 stars.
Diamond Dave
Sat, Dec 5, 2015, 11:14am (UTC -5)
To my mind a disappointingly small-scale season closer. Yes it's an intense little adventure yarn, but really we're dealing with well-worn dark corridor and "how do we know you are who you say you are" tropes that never really transcend the twists we see. Isn't it convenient that Bashir just happens to open the door just as changeling Bashir is outside?

But if ever an episode can live on the strength of its final line its this one. That suddenly blows the doors wide open on the bigger picture and acts as a really nice intro to Season 4. 2.5 stars.
Wed, Mar 23, 2016, 8:06pm (UTC -5)
"The Adversary" is an absolutely fantastic season closer and does wonders to sent up the Dominion threat going forward. It's kind of a shame that this direction for the show was somewhat scuttled when the studio forced the producers and writers to take a different approach for "Deep Space Nine" in Season Four - not to say that the Klingon story-arc is bad, I think the writers did an amazing job of integrating it into the larger picture they were attempting to tell. It would have been nice, though, to see where they would have taken the threat of total Changeling infiltration of the Alpha Quadrant otherwise.

I won't comment on the similarities the episode shares to John Carpenter's "The Thing" simply because I've never seen "The Thing". Don't hate me, horror just isn't my preferred genre. :-P The paranoid atmosphere on display, however, is marvelous. It's something of a rarity for Trek to allow the hero characters to be so scared and jumpy, especially around each other. There are other episodes where it happens, but they are rather scarce. We get some excellent character work and development, especially for Odo. Having him break the taboo of harming another Changeling was an ingenious idea, one which I'm assuming the writers intended all the way back in "The Search, Part II" when the taboo was first stated by the Female Changeling. And the red-herring of Eddington being the infiltrator was very enjoyable on a meta level. When I first introduced my parents to "Deep Space Nine" they spent the entire third season thinking that Eddington was indeed a Changeling spy, which I've heard was a common theory among fans at the time. Well done for the writers playing with that expectation! And later making Eddington a Maquis, instead of Dominion, spy was a masterstroke.

Two rather glaring problems harm "The Adversary", however. First, the fact that we never get to actually see a Tzenkethi. Come on, really?! They're going to introduce a new player onto the political stage of the Alpha Quadrant, one that even had a war with the Federation not too long ago, and not give us the money shot of seeing what they look like? I'm assuming that the Tzenkethi aren't an Alpha Quadrant super-power like the UFP or the Klingon and Romulan Empires. They're probably something more akin to a second-tier rated power like the Cardassians (important and formidable, but not quite an A-list player). But that's no excuse; let us see them! Talk about a wonderful world-building opportunity fumbled away. Second, how exactly did Changeling Krajensky manage to get the ball rolling on this attempted destabilization of the Quadrant in the first place? We're heavily led to believe that the real Krajensky never came to DS9, that when we first met the Ambassador that it's already the Changeling. Can an ambassador just show up to any Starfleet facility and start giving orders willy-nilly? He wants Sisko to show the flag along the Tzenkethi border and Sisko never once clears this with either Starfleet Command or his direct superior? An ambassador just shows up and off we go? I guess confirmation of orders isn't a thing in the 24th century.

Thu, May 26, 2016, 9:51pm (UTC -5)
@Luke, I agree with the oddness about the real Ambassador Krajensky never having come to DS9, and that the mission was invented by the Changeling. I think this is the writers' attempt to make us feel isolated way out on the frontier. But as a military officer, I don't find this realistic. I can assure you, Luke, that confirmation of orders *is* still a thing in the 21st century.

Generally I owe that to the writers knowledge of military affairs having probably come almost entirely from 1) watching earlier episodes of Star Trek and 2) from watching Hollywood depictions of the military. The shame is that there are so many plentiful, relatable stories of the mundane and action varieties within military life that, along with sensible military logic, never reach the doors of the writers room.
Latex Zebra
Mon, Sep 26, 2016, 7:04am (UTC -5)
So now the Federation/Starfleet have had a war with the Tzenkethi.
For a peace keeping organisation based on exploration and learning they sure get into a lot of wars.

At which point do the peace loving hippies think "Screw this, lets seal our borders and stay here. Too many innocents are dying because we want to boldly go..."

Be interested to see a list of everyone they've had a war with.


The Borg don't count as they're headcases.

Anyone else?

Wed, Mar 1, 2017, 12:24am (UTC -5)
Why is an ambassador briefing a Captain on his orders? This should have been an admiral.
Mon, May 8, 2017, 10:56pm (UTC -5)
Ambassador Robert Fox in A Taste of Armageddon gave orders to Captain Kirk. So did Undersecretary Nilz Baris in The Trouble with Tribbles.
Thu, Jul 6, 2017, 8:28pm (UTC -5)
A good but not great S3 finale - goes down the route of prior Trek series with stuff like the auto-destruct sequence (used before on 60s Trek, TNG and then aborted) and the "who is the shapeshifter, who is the real person" ("Whom Gods Destroy" in 60s Trek, for example).
What "The Adversary" does achieve is set up S4 with the Dominion as a serious threat (not as well done as in "Q Who" with the Borg though). Nice, ominous way to do it with the dying Changeling whispering to Odo as he dies.
Plenty of suspense trying to find the Changeling -- through the blood test and the test for chemicals earlier. Maybe this was a bit excessive to do this twice.
Certainly the other thing is who is guarding DS9? This never occurred to Sisko when he realizes he's been on a wild goose chase.
Anyhow, I think "The Adversary" deserves 3 stars - pretty good Trek viewing although somewhat cliche: Of course O'Brien figures out how to get past the forcefields and regain control of the ship and the auto-destruct can be aborted. Good ending to an excellent season with plenty to look forward to in S4.
Daniel B
Fri, Jul 7, 2017, 9:04pm (UTC -5)
{ And of course, you know the writers had to throw in the two Odos trick, presented here to O'Brien in the engine room as he attempts to disable the Changeling's ship takeover devices. Fortunately, this overused bright idea is satirized when O'Brien unleashes the season's best-delivered one-liner—"Look, I have more important things to do than play 'Choose the Changeling.'" }

And just like with Whom Gods Destroy, Turnabout Intruder, nobody thinks of a simple "ask them a question that isn't in the public record that only the real person would know" solution.

Also, the whole episode was weakened by some obvious idiotic decisions. Everyone is supposed to stay in pairs and yet each pair keeps just getting separated with no good reason. And twice they have the Changeling right there and take a good 5 seconds or so to remember to use their phasers, allowing him to get away.

Still, not a bad episode, just could have been better.
Fri, Jul 28, 2017, 2:45pm (UTC -5)
2.5 stars. So-so episode. Really didn't care for the never heard of Tzenkethi. I didn't find the evebts all that exciting or suspenseful. The most interesting part was the ominous note the episode ends on. Plus I was disappointed DS9 chickened out by actually having the Defiant start a conflict. Pretty anti-climatic

DS9 never was all that good at their season finales other than Call to Arms and Tears of The Prophets. In The Hands of the Prophets was a good episode just not a good season finale and The Jem'Hadar, The a Adversary and Broken Link--barring how they set up the following seasons--were duds
Daniel B
Mon, Aug 28, 2017, 1:36am (UTC -5)
{ For that matter, is the Defiant really the ship that should be sent on a Starfleet mission like this? (Episodes like this always make me wonder who's left in charge of the station.) }

It never made sense that the Defiant command crew and the DS9 command crew were identical, instead of Defiant having it's own separate roster.
Tue, Oct 24, 2017, 12:40am (UTC -5)
I thought this was a good finale. The episode builds suspense very effectively. Nothing fosters paranoia within and between people more than fear of the unknown, and as an enemy that can take any form and hide almost anywhere, the hostile changeling epitomizes that fear. There are shades of 'The Thing' (the blood test) and '12 Angry Men' (Bashir: "Don't you ever sweat?" Odo: "No, I don't") which I also enjoyed.

The episode is weakened somewhat by the cliched scene with the two Odos, and the use of an alien race we've never heard of and never see. What are they like? What sort of homeworld do they live on? What is their relationship and significance to the Federation? It's like the 'Homefront/Paradise Lost' two-parter, in that they don't (or can't) show us what's really at stake, so we just have to take their word for it. However, the scene where Odo kills one of his own kind is shocking, and the consequences will have long-term significance. It's not the kind of episode I'll go back to again and again, but it gets the job done. Three stars is about right.

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