Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"The Die Is Cast"

4 stars

Air date: 5/1/1995
Written by Ronald D. Moore
Directed by David Livingston

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"You know what the sad part is, Odo? I'm a very good tailor." — Garak

Garak rejoins his former mentor Enabran Tain and the Obsidian Order along with the Romulan's Tal Shiar in their plan to destroy the Dominion by launching an assault on the Founders' homeworld. "The Die Is Cast" lives up to part one, resulting in both of the two parts earning the four-star rating—quite a notable accomplishment. Where "Improbable" was nearly all drama, "Die" ends as a big, bold actioner. These two both succeed, however, for the same primary reason—very meaty characterization.

This episode may sport one of the largest pyrotechnic battle sequences ever on a Trek series, but when it comes down to it, it's all about Garak and Odo, and their common sharing of loneliness. Here are two characters who live on a station in which they are the only ones of their kind, have no real emotional ties, and survive each day by just doing their jobs. David Livingston's direction is superb—again finding the fine line to walk in pacing various elements of action, intrigue and characterization.

Garak's decision to rejoin Tain for this mission is completely understandable. Ending his exile is about the only thing Garak would ever have to look forward to. What else would a lone refugee who is surrounded by people who hate him have to look forward to?

Tain accepts Garak back, but continues to test his loyalty. One conversation between these two reveals that Garak had quite a knack for extracting information—and I can't imagine that his methods of extracting information excluded torture. There's even a suggestion that Garak took "enthusiasm" in such exercises. That is hard to imagine. Now Tain wants Garak to prove his loyalty by extracting from Odo information about the Founders that may prove useful in the assault.

Tain has a prototype device that will create an energy field that prevents any shapeshifter from changing its molecular form. He suggests that Garak test it on Odo. Garak reluctantly agrees.

Garak flips on the device and Odo finds himself locked into humanoid form. Unable to revert to his liquid form and with the 16-hour cycle nearing an end, Odo finds himself in a rather uncomfortable position.

This torture scene is starkly intense. I would argue that it's even more effective than Picard's torture in "Chain of Command II," because we've come to know both these characters, and it is obvious that Garak doesn't take any pleasure in doing this to Odo. Odo, meanwhile, refuses to give in to this torture for some time, turning him into a peeling heap on the floor.

The interesting part is that Garak practically begs Odo to reveal anything—even a lie—just so he can end the torture. This shows Garak, who quite possibly took pleasure in interrogating prisoners in the past, as an effete agent at the mercy of his own sadistic responsibilities. Both Auberjonois and Robinson are riveting, bringing previously unseen dimensions to their characters. Odo finally reveals one thing: Contrary to what he has said in the past, despite trying to turn his back on them, he still has a desire to be with his own people.

Back in the Alpha Quadrant, Starfleet Admiral Toddman (Leon Russom, who also played a high-up Starfleet type in Star Trek VI) brings the DS9 staff up to date with an intercepted message from Enabran Tain describing his motives and intentions for the offensive against the Dominion. With the likelihood that this offensive would lead to a Jem'Hadar vengeance strike against the Alpha Quadrant, Toddman orders Sisko to put the Defiant on standby alert to protect Bajor. Sisko wishes to go into the Gamma Quadrant to attempt to retrieve Odo, but Toddman orders him not to.

Sisko decides to disobey this order. "I am not going to just abandon one of my officers," he tells his crew. He organizes a volunteer mission to rescue Odo. But he tells them not to volunteer so quickly. "There's a good chance you won't be coming back from this mission," he says. Naturally, all the senior officers volunteer, and the Defiant heads into the Gamma Quadrant.

In keeping with the season's tone of having Sisko take initiative, this idea makes sense. However, I still have my doubts that Sisko would take on such a risky mission with such high stakes for the well-being of one officer. Oh well. This is an instance where the ends clearly justify the means for the sake of the plot.

One interesting plot twist is the writers' use of Lt. Commander Eddington, who sabotages the cloaking device and reveals that he reports directly to Toddman. He tells Sisko that without the cloak, the Defiant will have to return to the Alpha Quadrant. Sisko still refuses, sending O'Brien to repair the damage. Threatened with being confined to quarters, Eddington gives his word that he can be trusted—that his sabotage was a one-time occurrence at Toddman's explicit orders.

However, the part of the episode's plot that begs the most anticipation is the Cardassian/Romulan attack on the Founders. As the episode progresses and the attack becomes imminent, I became aware that someone was going to be wiped out—either the Founders or Tain's fleet. The payoff does a fine job of getting our blood boiling.

In one of the best examples of a character's ghastly realization, Tain is absolutely dumbfounded when he discovers that the Founders have deserted their planet—and set a trap of some 150 Jem'Hadar fighters. The Jem'Hadar charge in with little on their minds but total annihilation.

Like I said before, this final act features some outstanding battle pyrotechnics. Obviously, a lot of time and effort went into this scene. If I had to sum up in one word what these special effects convey, I'd say Pandemonium. Yes, lots and lots of chaos. Through this battle, one can get a perfect sense of disarray, which is what it seems to me the creators wanted—just the basic feeling of the Jem'Hadar completely overwhelming Tain's fleet.

The exploding interior sets and the exterior shots featuring ships filling up the background are well done. Dennis McCarthy's score is good, though I still would've particularly liked bombastic Ron Jones for this scene. (McCarthy, in fact, basically stole some of his own material from the Star Trek: Generations score for this scene.)

Colonel Lovok (Leland Orser), Tain's Romulan co-commander for the mission, turns out to be a Changeling spy who orchestrated the entire offensive in a plot to wipe out two of the four threats from the Alpha Quadrant—the Obsidian Order and the Tal Shiar. The other two are the Klingons and the Federation.

Lovok helps Odo and Garak escape the exploding Warbird ("Because no Changeling has ever harmed another"). Lovok offers Odo a chance to come with him and take a place in the Great Link. Odo politely refuses, so Lovok instead gives Odo access to the captured Runabout.

With little time left, Garak runs to the bridge to try to rescue his mentor from a rapidly disintegrating ship. Tain isn't interested. He has failed in his mission and has no desire to return to his quiet retirement. Odo drags Garak off the Warbird to the Runabout for a narrow escape. Just before the Warbird is completely destroyed, a very detached Enabran Tain sits alone on its bridge. "These Founders, Elim—they're very good," he says to nobody. "Next time we should be more careful." Paul Dooley's engagingly obsessed character dies in an appropriately calamitous downfall. Good work here all around.

Odo and Garak escape one situation to immediately get into another. The Jem'Hadar fighters open fire on the Runabout, and as these two face the realization of impending death, they also realize they are two people who share the common trait of being outcasts of their own groups.

Just in time, the Defiant appears to save the day. And after beaming the two aboard, Sisko must escape the clutches of the Jem'Hadar. Utilizing the latest tactics involving rapid-fire phasers and the use of a Federation Starship as a battering ram, Sisko's little ship escapes in an exciting display of television panache.

In the episode's coda, Odo visits Garak in his destroyed tailor's shop and recommends that the two get together for breakfast sometime. Played with subtlety and in perfect character, this scene exhibits a degree of emotional resonance. A single, outstanding line Garak has manages to sum up his character completely: "Do you know what the sad part is Odo? I'm a very good tailor."

Previous episode: Improbable Cause
Next episode: Explorers

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103 comments on this post

Murray Douglas
Sun, Sep 14, 2008, 6:42pm (UTC -5)
Awesome review of an awesome episode, I still dont understand how some people did not like this show. DS9 is amazing.
Tue, Apr 21, 2009, 4:10am (UTC -5)
I found it insultingly absurd and hypocritical for Sisko to chew out Eddington for his "betrayal" when he was the one who directly defied Vice-Admiral Toddman's orders. In fact, the only reason that this plot point seemed to exist in the first place was to create False Dramatic Conflict.
The only other thing I didn't like about this standout episode is the characterization of Enabran Tain: he just seems so goofy, so friendly and paternal, like a large teddy bear; I couldn't take him seriously as a super-Machiavellian Uber-Spy. For scary TV-show old guy spies, I like Sloane from the show Alias.
Fri, Nov 13, 2009, 8:20pm (UTC -5)
Really awsome battle scene, though I would have liked to see more of the actual battle and concentrate less on the Defiant (why are the Jem'Hadar chasing the Defiant anyway? If "No Changeling has ever harmed another", wouldn't the Founders instruct the Jem'Hadar not to fire on ships that have Changelings aboard?)
In answer to your question, Douglas, DS9 is a very entertaining series, but only if you watch it RELIGIOUSLY, which most viewers are not willing to do. It is also the show that strays the farthest from the Trek ideology. In a way, DS9 was the Star Trek series that was most like everything else on TV & film in terms of morality (or lack thereof). People KNOW that Star Trek in general is about peaceful exploration, doing no harm and sticking to your values no matter what, and they tune in expecting exactly that, so when they see thousands of people dying needlessly for no justifyable reason, they are bound to be disappointed.
I still think TNG did the best job, both in terms of its lessons in morality and its ongoing story arcs that were exciting for fans but at the same time not confusing for the casual viewer. I hope this helps.
Elliot Wilson
Tue, Feb 2, 2010, 9:05am (UTC -5)
I liked this episode greatly, though in terms of visual effects I thought The Way of the Warrior was better and always will be -- not even Call to Arms or Sacrifice of Angels or What You Leave Behind measured.

The torture scene was very intense I agree but at the end of the episode I found myself thinking one thing -- I wish Kira had found out! Seriously, she would have killed Garak.
Mon, May 10, 2010, 12:51pm (UTC -5)
"You are a practiced liar, Mr. Garak. But I am a practiced observer. And I will be observing you very closely."
Colonel Lovok stole the show a few times. Too bad his character expires. I loved his panicked closeups when the Dominion attacks. The first time I saw this, years ago, I was just blindsided by the fact that he was a Founder. You know, the Founders were born for Hollywood!

Another classic moment is the shot at the very end. Odo's silhouette in the reflection over Garak. This was also used in Improbable Cause when Odo is talking with his unknown (and thankfully, never revealed) Cardassian informant.

Sisko's disobeying orders, pissing on Eddington, and then getting a verbal high-five at the end from the Admiral who ORDERED him not to go (WTF? Why?) was absurd. It can't break the episode though, because we're still high from watching the Defiant plow through Jem'Hadar ships like a boss.

It would have been thoughtful if Sisko had taken a moment or two to beam some Romulan and Cardassian survivors off their doomed ships. That would have made Admiral Yellow Shirts' congrats a little more plausible.
Wed, Oct 13, 2010, 1:05pm (UTC -5)
I think Lee and EP raise good questions about Sisko, Eddington, and Toddman. Why does Sisko get off with a pat on the back?

Well, Starfleet has a history of allowing its officers to selectively disobey or re-interpret orders. Toddman indicates his sympathy for Sisko; it isn't hard to imagine that the Admiral would have made the same choice. More importantly, Sisko returns with major results: namely, Garak and Odo's reports. Now, Starfleet knows that the Founders infiltrated the Tal Shiar, set up a devastating trap, and see the Federation and the Klingons as the next threat.*

In an odd way, Sisko proves himself more fit for his promotion by illustrating that he has the guts and the backbone to be a ship captain.

*But I have no idea why the Founders think that destroying 20 Cardassian and Romulan ships will knock them out of the fight for the Alpha Quadrant.
Sun, Nov 28, 2010, 3:18pm (UTC -5)

"But I have no idea why the Founders think that destroying 20 Cardassian and Romulan ships will knock them out of the fight for the Alpha Quadrant."

My take: the Founders believe they kill two birds with one stone: the Tal Shiar and the Obsydean Order, considered as strong military and intelligence organisations within their civilizations and by the Founders, are both exposed. Because of this debacle, on top of the loss of ships and operatives, they will now be under scrutiny from their respective governments and thereby cripled as a powerful element in the battle against the Dominion, which for the Founders, is a good thing.
Thu, Feb 10, 2011, 4:57pm (UTC -5)
Well, Fenne, it looks like you are right on the money. We just finished watching the Season 4 opener, 'The Way of the Warrior': the Cardassian military gov't has been overthrown by a civilian gov't and the Obsidian Order is functionally gone because of the battle in 'The Die is Cast'. It had been so long since I'd watched DS9 that I had forgotten that plot point.

Still, I think it is weird that the entire Order came along on the assault, but I suppose that's the plot. No doubt there was much more going on behind the scenes that wouldn't have been appropriate to show on DS9 proper.
Thu, Feb 17, 2011, 8:20am (UTC -5)
Brad, Tain said they brought all of the Obsidian Order combat vets out of retirement for that mission. Since they built the fleet in secret, they probably also had to provide the manpower in secret which required a lot of their own personnel. With the Cardassian dissident movement, reduction of Order agents, and the revelation that the Order tried to start a war with the Dominion, the revolution was a lot easier for the Cardassian people. It looked like the Tal Shiar was hurt, but not beaten by this though. I think we saw them in later episodes.
Thu, Jul 7, 2011, 1:09pm (UTC -5)
Oh Ronald D. Moore...

I have to agree that the business with Garak and Odo and even the entire Founders plot was well handled here and in the prequel, but the entire story involving the Defiant was both unnecessary and offensive.

1) That Sisko would be forbidden to rescue Odo is a complete contrivance. I can understand Starfleet ordering him to wait until backup had arrived to protect DS9, but flat out refusing to let him go at all is just silly and a very transparent excuse to let Sisko disobey orders. For someone who makes such grand claims to honour his uniform, that didn't take much soul-searching.

2) Since the Founders had decided they weren't going to harm Odo, there's every reason to believe the Runabout would not have been attacked during their escape. So, the Definat's presence in the battle was completely, again, contrived; just a poor excuse to show off some special effects and cliché manœuvers.

3) Given that it was Toddman himself who ordered Eddington to sabotage the Defiant, I find it insulting to both basic intelligence and the general competence of Starfleet that Sisko wasn't severely punished for his actions--at least let someone tell him he was wrong. After all, the only thing Sisko accomplished was rescuing Odo and Garak, both of whom provided no new information to the Federation. It wasn't as though his mission had any significance beyond the task at hand.

So why is all this here? Why complain about something which to most is an entertaining action plot? Because it's one of the pillars I have mentioned in previous posts by which this show slowly eroded the nature of Star Trek and played to the lowest-common-denominator. The other plot with Garak and Odo is good, but hardly original--it can stem from almost any genre of television or film. The same can be said to an even larger degree about the Obsidian/Tal Shiar plot. TV is littered with series which make use of their serialisation for good or ill and such a utilisation on DS9, while certainly fun for the religious viewer, provides no depth or insight into the human condition.

It's quite telling that the 2-parter's literary backdrop is Julius Cæsar: it's certainly not Titus Andronicus, but it;s definitely the young, angst-ridden Shakespeare at work. It's solid entertainment but has little in the way of psychological staying power--just like this episode.

I'd give it 3 or 3.5--the business with Sisko is unforgivable but luckily doesn't take up too much screen time. The acting of course, given we see mostly Robinson and Auberjonois, excellent.
Sun, Jun 10, 2012, 7:21am (UTC -5)
I have the opposite. The stuff on the Defiant was all fine. I think Odo and Garak *did* bring back some key information about the Founders' tactics that the Federation wouldn't have had otherwise.

The problem I have is the interrogation scenes between Odo and Garak. They are good scenes, but there is simply no reason for them to exist. Ostensibly, Garak had to break Odo to prove his innocence, but when he does, he keeps what he has found out to himself (which is really nothing special -- anyone could have guessed that Odo feels homesick regardless of his political views because this is the way any humanoid would likely feel). Why keep that information to himself and pretend the torture didn't work, when the reason for the torture was to protect his position with Tain?

Garak's motivations simply don't make any sense here, it makes the interrogation scene play like an elaborate, extended excuse for Odo to reveal his homesickness to the audience because it was completely irrelevant to anything else in the episode. So that whole thing was for the benefit of sentimentality and that's a really weak reason for including something in a script -- the writing came off a straining forcefully to hit an emotional note for Odo that wasn't really justified by the story.

For that reason I have to rate this episode as good (the scenes were after all well played) but not great, and the fault lies squarely with the writing.
Lt. Fitz
Mon, Jun 25, 2012, 6:12pm (UTC -5)
I understand that no changeling hurts another, but why would the changeling let Garak go with Odo? That was as bad a move as letting the DS9 crew go after they had them on the founders' planet.

Awesome 2 parter. Had me on the edge of my seat, and when the Romulan said "150 ships" I fell off the couch. :)
Sun, Jul 22, 2012, 8:02pm (UTC -5)
The problem is nothing is ever suggested that the Romulans were affected by these events.
In the later episode when Cardassia joins the Dominion the Romulans appear to volunteer to take part in the battle that seemed likely to take place (but didn't).
Sun, Jul 22, 2012, 9:03pm (UTC -5)
It should be known that any officer who disobeys orders like Sisko did would have faced a court Martial.

Of course, then we would no longer have a TV show...
Fri, Aug 24, 2012, 6:51pm (UTC -5)
That can probably be explained away by the fact that Sisko is granted certain exceptions due to his situation and location. He's given more freedom than a starship captain.

Of course that doesn't help Janeway who crapped on the prime directive more times than Kirk and Picard combined, and they still made her an admiral. I still hold that she was the first certifiably insane captain in the history of Starfleet.
Nick P.
Fri, Nov 2, 2012, 10:48pm (UTC -5)
I think this is my new favorite episode of DS9 for one reason....the MUSIC IS GOOD AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!! Please tell me jerk-off Berman finally laid off that no good music stuff and let McCarthy spread his wings. For the 1st time since the 4th season TNG I wasn't completely taken out of an episode because of horrible music. I so hope this wasn't a one off thing!!!!

BTW, Jammer I do disagree with you a little on Ron Jones, I honestly think McCarthy is the far better composer, he just got so hobbled by Berman for so long. Jones is great, but in the limited time he has been unfettered, he really isn't that much better than his years on TNG.

Back to the point about Changelings never firing on another changeling, I am OK with the runabout scene because the changelings WERE NOT firing, the Jem Hadar were. I guess it could be argued that is a distinction without a difference, but it is OK in my book.
Nick P.
Fri, Nov 2, 2012, 10:50pm (UTC -5)
Oh, one more thing, this is no longer Star Trek. Honestly, Gene would have hated this stuff, lets get real. I still love DS9, but this isn't Star Trek. this is the fetus of BSG.
Latex Zebra
Mon, Nov 12, 2012, 8:00am (UTC -5)
You'd think no other Captain in the history of Star Trek has ever disobeyed a direct order.

For some reason DS9 really upsets a certain section of Star Trek fans but most of their arguements fall apart if you compare bits and peices of other series of Trek or how Starfleet and the Federation have acted historically.
Yes there are a lot more dark aspects in DS9 that, perhaps, go against Gene's vision. Again historically all Trek has had darkness in it. DS9 just had a lot more. Because for most of the shows run they were at war.
Sun, Nov 25, 2012, 12:16am (UTC -5)
Kirk was charged with nine violations of Starfleet regulations. His "punishment"? Command of the Enterprise-A. I bet that hurt.

The "no longer" Star Trek stuff is tiresome. In Star Trek III risked his ship and crew to rescue Spock - "the needs of the one". I completely reject that Star Trek can be boiled down to a singular doctrine. I suppose Star Trek VI isn't Trek either.

Anyway, if it weren't for super-powerful aliens interfering in human affairs, the Federation would have gone to war against the Klingons in "Errand of Mercy". So unless TOS wasn't Trek either, I'd suggest we're at an impasse.
Mon, Jan 14, 2013, 2:28pm (UTC -5)
People really need to realize that Gene's vision and Star Trek are two different things. Star Trek is a colaborative work and always has been. Hell, Gene himself was pretty inconsistent about his vision.
Wed, May 29, 2013, 12:31am (UTC -5)
Gene, as he came up for breath while rimming Majel, once told me he doesn't give one shit about any vision so long as he's making paper. He then tried to sell me an IDIC pendant while singing the Star Trek theme song lyrics.
Wed, May 29, 2013, 8:11pm (UTC -5)
Singer, I disagree. If any Captain could be deemed as certifiably insane, it would be Kirk. No one broke the rules like he did, and no one used brute force like he did, or took risks like he did. Janeway is simply a watered down version of Kirk. The blatant similarities between the two are obvious, as well as being obviously intentional.

As far as this episode is concerned, what else can be said other than - top-notch, awesome Trek! Top 10 DS9 episode(s) for sure!

As far as Gene hating this, as Nick P. inferred.... I say BALONEY! The Wrath Of Khan is as "dark" and "cynical" as it gets - not to mention the early "Borg" episodes. And "Yesterday's Enterprise" was the darkest all time Trek episode in any series. Picard sending Tasha back in time was the most serious "prime/time directive" rule broken to date - as the later consequences revealed.
Fri, Jul 19, 2013, 4:12am (UTC -5)
"Do you know what the sad part is Odo? I'm a very good tailor." ~Garak

Well, damn. Just think about that for 3 minutes.

I love DS9 and I'm convinced that all of those fanboys that think it's the "worst" Star Trek series cannot possibly know their asses from a hole in the ground. Go watch "Keeping Up With the Kardashians". It's probably more your speed.
Fri, Jul 19, 2013, 8:33am (UTC -5)
@Prog - Pretty much agree. I could totally understand someone who feels it's their least favorite (though it is my favorite)... because it's themes and darkness might not be everyone's cup of tea... but WORST? Impossible.
Mon, Aug 26, 2013, 5:43pm (UTC -5)
One of the best outings for DS9 that I have seen so far since started watching from S1.

A few tiny holes in logic but overall an excellent effort and a much more polished script.
Wed, Oct 23, 2013, 9:00am (UTC -5)
Excellent finish to the best multi-part story-line of the series thus far.

Mon, Dec 9, 2013, 4:51am (UTC -5)
Nick P's comments hit closest for me. The music has always been a sticking point for me in early Trek, a discordant series of notes that detract from the action and do not enhance it at all. In the later seasons of DS9 and Voyager, the music became very good. Balls to Rick Berman for his stupid directives.

I think this is one of the best episodes of Trek ever. People miss the point that this story was about the Romulans and Cardassians taking matters into their own hands by flattening the Founders. If there are three species who think committing genocide is the answer to all problems, it's these three. So why isn't DS9 Star Trek? Star Trek is about bare-fist fights, phaser battles and people breaking the Prime Directive.

DS9 actually sums up Trek's supposed ethos more than the others do: the Defiant doesn't mess with primitive species, the DS9 tream don't battle every alien race they encounter and we see humans co-existing with a variety of alien species. No other Trek shows us humans who have lives beyond their uniform; every alien who sets foot aboard the E-D or Voyager is up to no good; Janeway was forced by hostile aliens to use Voyager as a battering ram through the Delta Quadrant every week.

DS9 built a rich tapestry of galactic politics; events and decisions had repercussions; characters moved on with their lives; we got recurring heroes and villains; there was little buggering about with the Prime Directive. If DS9 isn't Trek, then Trek was doing something seriously wrong.
Sat, Feb 22, 2014, 1:39am (UTC -5)
This two-parter is a great example of fantastic Trek storytelling that would have made a better feature film than most of the ones released. It even had neat eye candy at the end which, thankfully, made sense in story terms instead of just being there to look cool. Though it kind've threw me off a bit to see, a couple of times, phaser fire hitting nothingness yet their was still something exploding.

I agree Toddmans orders for the Defiant to stay and guard Bajor was a bit misguided but I chalked up as to an imperfect human giving an imperfect order. I never saw it as an excuse for dramatic tension. It also makes sense for Sisko to get pissed at Eddington despite disobeying orders himself. After all he did make them visible and thus more likely a target on top of stalling the rescue of Odo. The fact Sisko allowed him to stay at his post was very telling and a well written alternative than just having him confined. It also brings up the different circumstances of when and when not to take matters into your own hands. Toddmans line at the end of the ep was a little too tidy for my tastes though it may be possible their was some second-guessing on his part. Who knows and is a minor quibble.

This is one of those two-parters that I perceive as one whole episode. I don't really see enough to differentiate the two to not. Anyhow, this was absolutely a classic in my book and ranks very highly in my favorites of all of Star Trek.

4 stars.
Sat, May 3, 2014, 11:41pm (UTC -5)
Odo's sarcastic tone when he asked Garak "Oh, no, you're going to torture me, aren't you?" cracked me up. Funniest line of the episode.
Sat, Jul 12, 2014, 10:09am (UTC -5)
I find Odo very whiney. He's always crying about missing "his people". In season 7 it's revealed that if it wasn't for Kira he would be a founder living in the great link even with the knowledge that the dominion was killing millions to impose their order. He wasn't staying because he disagreed with the dominion. That is an amazing truth. Another way that ds9 isn't normal trek. Normally treks main characters have good morals. Not so with odo. He is like all changelings. All he cares about is order and the great link with the one exception that he is obsessed with Kira yet is afraid to tell her. The scene when he's crying to garak about missing his people is hard to watch. If he's so homesick he should go home and quit stalking Kira
William B
Sat, Jul 12, 2014, 12:36pm (UTC -5)
To be fair, part of the reason Odo was crying in this episode is because he was being horribly, painfully tortured.
Sat, Jul 12, 2014, 12:58pm (UTC -5)
Regarding DS9 morality, the Starfleet personnel have good morals, but DS9 liked to ask and answer the question "what happens when the rest of the world doesn't live in paradise?" "Normal Trek" as you say assumes everyone you deal with is rational and can be peacefully dealt with. The problems with the Bajorans, the Maquis, and later the Dominion showed that sometimes you can't afford perfect principles when you're dealing with people who don't have it as good and just want to burn it all down. Janeway liked to speak the Federation gospel until she finally recognized it was going to get them killed if she couldn't be a little flexible. Sisko had to deal with gamblers, assassins, spies, con artists, civil wars, and interstellar wars to the death all on his doorstep.
Fri, Aug 1, 2014, 2:23pm (UTC -5)
Wow, some of the criticism here is baffling.

Admiral Toddman's order to Sisko is absolutely plausible and SMART! The Defiant's presence at the wrong time in this conflict would/could directly get the Federation involved. That's the last thing anyone wants.

About Sisko defying orders... he just didn't blow the ADM off. He had a plan, and a pretty reasonable plan to defend Bajor. ... and the ADM never specifically told him not to venture into the GQ. (he probably should have, that's the mistake I see)

"SISKO: I am not going to just abandon one of my officers. Toddman's concerned about the defense of Bajor, and so am I. If we detect a Jem'Hadar strike force heading for the Alpha Quadrant, we'll use the communications relay to warn DS Nine, and we'll do everything we can to stop them before they reach the wormhole. I consider this a volunteer mission, but don't volunteer yet. There's a good chance you won't be coming back from this mission. And even if you do, you'll probably be facing a general court martial. If you do decide to go, be aboard the Defiant at fifteen thirty hours. Dismissed."

That and he made it a volunteer mission!

Kirk and Picard have done much worse when it comes to "following orders". ... and they didn't leave their officers behind either.

The only real issue I see with this episode is that the Jem'Hadar attack the shuttle with Odo on it. It was given to Odo/Garak by a Founder, I find it hard to believe that Founder didn't make it very clear not to shoot the one with Odo on it.

The interrogation scene with Odo and Garak was a trek classic. Odo's smugness to Garak, not fearing torture to Garak pleading with Odo to give him something was epic to say the least… intense and dramatic.

As to why Garak didn't reveal what he'd found out to Tain? ... or he felt bad for his friend (we know that's true) ... or what he did find out had no bearing on the plan ... or maybe he didn't want to tell Tain that Odo just wanted to return to his people because he didn't want that to sound like a plea for Garak's desire to return home ... pick one.

As soon as Sisko knew Eddingon was acting on Toddman's orders his tune changed ... think about it. All good stuff, well written.

One of the best 2-parters in all of Trek and definitely the best so far in DS9.

Just LOVED the mirror scene at the end between Odo and Garak.

"GARAK: Do you know what the sad part is, Odo? I'm a very good tailor."

Wow, just wow.

5 out of 4 stars.
Sat, Nov 15, 2014, 10:20am (UTC -5)
Everything that needs to be said has already been said in your review and the comments. One of the finest Trek hours, 5/5 without a doubt in my opinion.
Thu, Feb 19, 2015, 3:53pm (UTC -5)
This was an exceptional 2 parter, I really liked the scenes wih Odo/Garak. The interrogation scene was useless, Odo had not hidden anything from the Federation except his personal desire to be with his people, which would not have benefited anyone.

I would think that founder would have told the Jem'Hadar not to fire on the shuttle, be he didn't.

Someone mentioned the only reason Odo stayed with the Federation was Kira, not so, Odo could not see himself aligning himself with murderers, he did not could that order.

Excellent, excellent, excellent.
Thu, Apr 9, 2015, 11:17am (UTC -5)
I love these two episodes, but Sisko's blatant and consequence free violation of orders strains credibility, even by Trek standards. More to the point, it was wholly unnecessary for the plot, given the Dominion's "No changeling has ever harmed another" ethos.

Personally, I would have skipped the rescue subplot and ended the story with Garek and Odo escaping on the runabout. I'm not certain why it exists, except to consume screen time and provide a nifty Defiant pyrotechnics display.
Tue, May 12, 2015, 8:27am (UTC -5)
I think Section 31 was in on this plot too, it might have been a joint operation from all of them though only the Cardassians and Romulans could build a fleet.

@ Yanks

'The only real issue I see with this episode is that the Jem'Hadar attack the shuttle with Odo on it. It was given to Odo/Garak by a Founder, I find it hard to believe that Founder didn't make it very clear not to shoot the one with Odo on it.'

Good catch though later on in the series they did hint the Founders control over the Vorta and Jem Hadar to be overstated as they too seek power (demonstrated in episodes: Treachery, Faith and the Great River and To The Death), it's possible the Jem Hadar themselves saw Odos free range as a threat to the Dominion.
Tue, Aug 18, 2015, 5:37pm (UTC -5)
As a former casual viewer of post-TNG series, I am doing a complete watch through of all Trek shows. Just finished Voyager. I admit, I found DS9 to be a little dark and depressing for my tastes, especially after the bright and colorful world of TNG.

However, these past two episodes are INCREDIBLE! Some of the best Trek has to offer. I LOVE the scene when the Defiant departs. Just...excellent. These two episodes are amazing in every way.
Wed, Aug 19, 2015, 10:03am (UTC -5)

Interesting thought. I'm not sure nither the Jem'Hadar nor the Vorta could ever knowingly harm a Founder. Although, we did learn in 'To the Death' that the Jem'Hadar are no fans of the Vorta at all :-)
Wed, Aug 19, 2015, 10:07am (UTC -5)
@Yanks - Jem'Hadar is debatable. As for the Vorta, Weyoun orders Odo's death in "Treachery, Faith and the Great River". He even hides it from the Founder. Vorta can definitely kill a Founder if they think it'd benefit the Dominion.
Wed, Aug 19, 2015, 10:15am (UTC -5)

I remember, but I never actually thought he would go through with it. I always thought of it as a threat.
Wed, Aug 19, 2015, 11:06am (UTC -5)
Interesting! I shall have to rewatch at some point and see what I think now. I was sure he would at the time.
William B
Mon, Oct 12, 2015, 12:24pm (UTC -5)
I like "The Die is Cast" very much, but I do admit that I do not love it as much as some here. There are some big-scale reasons which I will get to, but overall I also just find that in line-to-line dialogue it is weaker than the sparkling precedent set by part I. In particular, nearly every scene in "Improbable Cause" was a highlight in its own way, but I found that nearly all the scenes on the Defiant or station and even some of the scenes on the warbird with Tain or Lovok were competent but unexceptional. By itself, this does not damage the episode too badly, but I also wanted to explain some of why I do think that "IC" is the better episode of the two overall as well as for specific reasons. That said, "The Die is Cast" is a gripping hour in its own right, and if I don't think it is as strong as "IC," well, that is hardly anything for anyone involved to be ashamed of.

So: "IC" ended with Garak and Odo's investigation leading to them getting into a final state where Garak's people and Odo's people are heading for a dramatic confrontation. This episode continues and pays that off, and in a sense the episode is the personal story of Garak and Odo surrounded by behemoths: the three major players in this are Tain (who essentially *IS* the Obsidian Order, in this episode) the Founders, and Sisko & the Defiant, the neutral-ish Federation presence in the background. The Tal Shiar are of course relevant, but they are double-dupes: no significant Romulan characters appear in this episode, as the Romulans followed Tain's dead-end plan *and* the Lovok Founder's manipulations. So Garak and Odo started on DS9, which is Bajoran but essentially is protected by the Federation, investigate until they found a fundamental clash between Garak's "people" and Odo's "people," and end up back as outsiders in the Federation-Bajoran space. Obviously the episode parallels them, but watch how closely: in particular, the final shot of "Improbable Cause," with Garak and Tain shaking hands and Odo standing between them in the background, is closely repeated when Odo refuses the Lovok Founder's offer to join (Link) with him, with Garak's face in the background between the two.

So from an Odo-centric read, we can somewhat see what Garak goes through in this episode as a demonstration of the strength that Odo managed to find, and the devastating consequences should Odo have *not* mantained that strength. Tain and the Female Shapeshifter both have parental/mentor/peer ambiguous relationships with Garak and Odo (though the quasi-romantic component to Odo and FS is seemingly absent with Garak and Tain), and in both cases there is something manipulative and even abusive about the way Garak and Odo are treated. The Founders, after all, sent Odo and other baby changelings out into the universe which *they* consider to be so hostile that they have no choice but to conquer all of it, with the expectation that they will *eventually* come back to them, and so are directly responsible for Odo's lifelong feelings of loneliness and alienation, which, if not for the wormhole, would have lasted another couple hundred years before he had any chance of returning to his people, and in which he would obviously suffer tremendous persecution. Even then, in "The Search" they insisted on keeping him apart from his people until he could pass several arbitrary tests, while they ran cruel experiments on his companions. Tain is just a bit more explicit about what he is doing: he literally had just tried to kill Garak, but his belief that Garak coming to find him did show genuine character nad loyalty allows him to come back. And Tain, throughout the episode, does his benevolent, jolly mentor figure routine, all while putting Garak in more and more compromising positions, as if to test him. *Maybe* Tain was telling the truth that he will spare Mila if Garak wants him to, or that he won't hold it against Garak if Garak refuses to torture Odo for information, but his bringing these up at all suggest a careful effort to push Garak's buttons as well as to provide the type of carefully portioned out praise along with ambiguous undertones of threats that manipulate Garak into servitude.

The spectre of "Julius Caesar" from part one is all over this episode, most obviously at the end when Garak quotes it. Garak's belief in part I that no man of Caesar's stature could be so foolish and trusting obviously underscores how Garak throws himself into the service of the man who had just tried to kill him. So Garak has a massive blind spot where his feelings for Tain are concerned, which seems to be mostly undeniable...but I think it's not quite that simple. I think Garak *knows* how much he cares about Tain, how much he wants his approval, and indeed I think he knows how compromising that truly is, of his entire philosophy, and of Tain's entire philosophy. If he is a skillful enough liar and manipulator, he can make the weakness of his personal attachment to Tain appear as honourable loyalty, service to the state, or whatever. But in the end it is love, with big dashes of insecurity, which I really suspect that Tain created and exploited fairly deliberately. Garak feels incomplete when he does not have Tain's approval, just as Odo has *programmed* hard-to-control urges to return to the Founders' planet (from "The Search"). What Garak frames as professionalism and statism is a wounded child's need for approval, and I think Garak knows this more than he lets on, but has to hide from others and himself.

As it happens, Garak also has a conscience. The story about Garak staring at a doctor for several hours until he confessed weirdly makes it seem as if even at his worst period as a torturer, Garak was using imaginative, rule-breaking methods to find ways to be good at his job and to avoid detection without actually hurting people more than is necessary. But whether he had genuine compassion in those days, or whether it has taken his own coming to terms with and recognizing his own pain to be able to feel for others, is hard to say. With Odo, Garak is not bad at finding ways to avoid causing Odo undue pain, both before and after the central interrogation, but of course there is the key moment of the episode. Garak tortures Odo. He jokes that of course Odo should be upset, because Garak has declared his undying loyalty to the Federation and his personal friendship for Odo, but Garak has to know he responsible for dragging Odo into this investigation, if nothing else. Garak starts going through the motions, and puts on his best interrogator face, but soon things have gotten out of hand, Odo is in agony and Garak is begging him to break, because Garak needs to get *something* out of him, or else Garak's position at Tain's side is over. ("Lie if you have to!") And then when Odo finally confesses his desperate desire to rejoin his people, Garak lies about it and risks himself a little bit more to save Odo. I do think that Garak needed the *personal* experience of dominating Odo to prove that he "deserved" to be at Tain's side; he needed to prove that he was still an interrogator and a cold, hard member of the Obsidian Order rather than a tailor, and wanted to recapture some of the sadistic glee of a job well done. But on the way he merely discovers that he has lost some of the taste for it, and that Odo *wanted* to rejoin his people, and didn't...probably because it was wrong.

In "Improbable Cause," Garak's angrily demanding whether Odo cared about anyone had the tinge of defensiveness to it: he was saying, in a sense, "You cannot understand my actions, because you do not know what it means to care about someone." It was as close an admission as he made in "IC," and for much of this episode, that his willingness to take risks for Tain was actually irrational by Garak's stated value system, and -- as it turns out -- given that Tain is a killer, who in this episode talks about offing his beloved maid of decades because she Knows Too Much, morally indefensible. But as much as Garak does not want to admit to it, he has sentiment, and in that conversation with Odo he managed to make the subject, at least in part, about Odo's lack of feelings rather than Garak's own sentimentality. But with Odo's having a strong, overpowering desire to return to his people and his managing to hide that all this time, *and* to stay strong in the face of the possibility of rejoining them, Garak somewhat loses what rationalizations he had for joining Tain so readily. Odo is the strong one, and Garak the weak one. And this strong/weak pattern is repeated as Odo rejects Lovok's offer later in the episode -- though his own admission also allows Odo the space to express more openly his sympathy and empathy for Garak's choice.

And Tain is the bad guy here. It really is not just that he is bad for Garak, and bad for Odo. His preemptive strike on the Founders' homeworld, like Jack D. Ripper's plan in "Dr. Strangelove" (one of the bigger touchstones for this season), is designed with long-term dominance in mind: if Tain's initial strike on the Founders does not work, then the rest of the Cardassian and Romulan Empires will be responsible for carrying it out. Tain decides for his whole Empire that they go to war, despite ostensibly being retired. That Tain chooses this moment to come out of retirement suggests, too, that while he no doubt does believe that the Dominion poses a major threat, he also is using this massive strike as a way of launching himself into the public sphere (and into power) again; that committing genocide on an enemy and taking major risks with his own people (and no doubt condemning many to death) is essentially a move driven by career and ego. Without getting into the ethics of killing the Founders here, if the assault on the Founders did *not* succeed, as, it turns out, it didn't, it would absolutely confirm the Founders' worst suspicions about the trustworthiness of solids and would make the Cardassian (and Romulan) empires absolutely necessary targets for attack and domination, eliminating the slightest hope for any alternate strategies. And of course, he is foolish -- if the Dominion is such a threat, should he not be concerned about them having any listening posts at all in the AQ which can warn the Founders of his sneak attack once he sends out a MESSAGE TO THE CARDASSIAN CENTRAL COMMAND OF HIS PLAN? Of course, Lovok is also the bad guy here -- Lovok Founder tells us that while Tain originated the idea, the Founders stoked it, which is a form of what they call entrapment when police pose as drug dealers, and is a hell of a lot worse when it is essentially causing massive mobilization of fleets, under orders, into a trap and to their deaths. However...really, Garak and Odo have essentially no impact on the larger-scale actions going on around them, in this episode. Maybe in the future -- but not now. What I think the backdrop realy does for the characters is to emphasize the similarity of Garak and Odo's predicament, and to underline the tragedy of both their positions -- Odo's living in permanent "willing" exile, and Garak's betraying himself and values he did not particularly believe he had in a somewhat undignified willingness to go back to his supervillain mentor. Odo tried to some degree to tell Garak how dangerous Tain was, but Garak did not listen, and after briefly asking whether the Central Command or Starfleet should be informed, largely dropped criticizing Tain at all.

When the trap is finally revealed, Garak, who has been *inching* away from full-on commitment to Tain, immediately recognizes it for what it is, and insists that they must try to escape while they still can, while Lovok continues the trap and Tain wonders with frustration what is happening. It is here that Garak quotes "I'm afraid the fault, dear Tain, is not in our stars but in ourselves," which I think signals that at this point Garak understands that Tain's plan was obviously flawed and hubristic, inflated by Tain's own ego dreams...which Garak can recognize because he is able to recognize the same things about himself. Garak's need for mentor approval and a place in society renders his reasons for following Tain more sympathetic than Tain's reasons for his actions, I think, but Tain's blindness to his betrayers is as much motivated by personal failings/cognitive biases as by anything so prosaic as bad luck. Garak then runs to get Odo, which signals his total willingness to abandon Tain's plan, but he goes back for Tain himself; now the roles of mentor/protege are slightly reversed, and Garak tries to use his superior grasp of the situation to get Tain out of there, which fails. Odo punches Garak and drags him away. Garak's love for Tain, then, led to Garak's following Tain's evil and stupid plan in the hopes of winning Tain's approval, until the plan fell apart enough for Garak to trust his own judgment which point Tain was too far gone to help. I have my suspicions that this reflects a repetition of the earlier dynamic: Garak's insistence that he never betrayed Tain, not really, and that he did what he did for Tain before his exile, suggests that at that time, too, there was a conflict between Garak's caring about what is actually good for Tain (love) and his need to follow Tain's orders (approval); this time, he seemed content to let approval win out over love, until it was too late. Odo comes across as the stronger of the two, and most of what Garak got out of the experience is his own failure to trust his own instincts and values, which over time have developed further apart from Tain's. He ends up back on the station, again in exile, his mentor dead and Garak having failed to save him. But Odo, who could just as easily be Garak and give up everything he has built for himself to be with his people, is sympathetic -- and so there is something good out of this, after all, as things go back to the way they were, and Garak realizes that despite his half-formed hopes, this life is his life, and really truly is no longer an interrogator (and hurt himself and others trying to be one):

"You know what the sad part, Odo? I'm a very good tailor."

I should add that I love that, in the Odo interrogation scene, the key to tormenting Odo is forcing him to remain permanently a solid; one of the clever ideas about that need to regenerate is that the difficulty that Odo has remaining permanently part of the humanoid is represented by his *literal, physical agony* when he is allowed no access to his changeling-ness at all. I suspect that part of the reason that Odo ultimately forgives Garak so readily for the torture is not just that Garak also saved his life, and not even just that he identifies with Garak and understands why Garak did what he did, but also that in some ways it was a relief for Odo to express the pain of his separation from his people; having someone who *knows* how painful this existence is for Odo, Garak having seen a physical manifestation of it and having heard Odo's speaking of it, is important to Odo, and he also genuinely has a personal feeling of connection to Garak and his plight, which goes far beyond the professional interest that caught his attention in "IC." I suspect, in the end, that the connection forged here suggests that some of Odo's interest in part one, especially as they got closer and closer to Garak's relationship with Tain, may have been some level of recognition of the similarity of Garak's plight to his own.

The Garak/Odo material in this episode really is wonderful, as is the way the Garak/Tain and Odo/Founders material parallel each other. I also do quite like the grand narrative of Tain's failed attack on the Founders' homeworld and how his individual hubris, exploited by the Founders, destabilizes the quadrant. In the overall story of Cardassia in this series, I think it's worth talking about how individuals like Tain and Dukat succeed based on ideals that Cardassians build up -- military might, careful strategic alliances, strength -- and ultimately do tremendous damage to Cardassia in those exact same ways; the Cardassian statist, militarist system builds up hubristic dictators into making devastating mistakes for ego-driven reasons, which means that the bad things that happen to Cardassia in the series are fully believable and also a repudiation of the worst parts of their philosophy.

The DS9/Defiant material, on the other hand, I could take or leave, but mostly leave. I find Bashir's scene with O'Brien at the beginning amusing and Bashir's concern over Garak in general touching. Other than that, the whole plot being variations on the question of whether Sisko et al. will go to rescue Garak and Odo was frustrating and a little pointless. As Elliott pointed out above, Lovok made a point of saying he wouldn't kill Odo, so why let him go in the Runabout if it was going to be shot down? Lovok could surely have given out an order if he was serious about protecting Odo, which I think he was. So I don't think the Defiant saving Odo and Garak was necessary on a plot level, although thematically I do think that Odo and Garak need to rely on the Federation/Starfleet/Sisko to save them makes some sense.

What bothers me, particularly given where this series will go, is the casualness with which everyone reacts to Tain's plan. Tain said in "IC" that Starfleet won't interfere because it isn't their fight, and, yeah, that makes sense. Still, the way Toddman says that people think that Tain et al. might really succeed suggests that everyone is hoping that the Founders will be wiped out. Blood would not be on the Federation's hands, but shouldn't someone, at least idealistic Bashir, point out that this is genocide, to say nothing of the fact that there has been so little Dominion activity in the Alpha Quadrant that, despite the Dominion's general warnings, this is pretty unprovoked. If the Defiant is going to mobilize because of Odo, should at least someone not suggest mobilizing to warn their enemies who, ultimately, *did* let the Defiant go in "The Search"? I maybe have my head in the clouds here, and I accept that is a possibility, and I do not demand that Sisko et al. ultimately make a decision to risk war with the Cardassians and Romulans to save the Founders, but still, I wish that *someone* had made the point of how bad this is for the Obisidian Order and Tal Shiar to do, and to consider whether they have a moral obligation to warn the Founders. I don't particularly think that it would be appropriate to spend time on this matter within this episode, because it's got enough material for Odo and Garak -- which is why that my preferred strategy would be to excise this material entirely, and have Tain *not* send a message out describing his plan, so that the question of what the appropriate actions for Starfleet to take would not be necessary in the story at all. And further, well, if the Cardassians and Romulans fail it might well be a good idea for the Federation to get ahead of things by telling the Founders that they condemn this genocidal sneak attack on the homeworld, which was planned to be a total destruction and not capture. This would of course make the Federation be in opposition to the Tal Shiar and the Obsidian Order, which might be bad news...but it is worth considering here.

Meanwhile, the material with Toddman's orders and Eddington and then Sisko going anyway and O'Brien is mad, etc., just seems like a waste when there are other, more interesting subjects to explore. That Toddman anticipates Sisko disobeying direct orders, and then Sisko not only does so, but then circumvents Toddman's actions done to anticipate him, means that Sisko should be in a hell of a lot more trouble than he is at the episode's end. But Toddman might promote him, because, um...well, he did get Odo back, I guess, which is good, I guess, but really, had the Jem'Hadar launched an attack on the station while they were gone, there would be no one there to protect them until reinforcements arrive. And certainly, don't send the WHOLE STATION CREW on the Defiant, the way they always do -- leave Kira, Bashir, whoever behind. The whole crew going on the Defiant leaving the station with probably Quark in charge is something that annoys me on a regular basis so I do not hold it *particularly* against this episode, but I do think this is a worse example than usual.

All that said, I think that the DS9/Defiant material can mostly be ignored. I guess ultimately the Garak and Odo material is strong enough, in conjunction with the effective action-y main plot, that I will go to 4 stars. This means that s3 is an extreme rarity: two 4-star shows, no 3.5-star shows.
Diamond Dave
Wed, Dec 2, 2015, 2:40pm (UTC -5)
Ultimately I found this a little disappointing. Don't get me wrong, some elements were extremely strong, with a couple of classic twists as the Dominion fleet is revealed and the Founders' influence becomes clear. Smashing the Tal Shiar and the Obsidian Order is pretty big news.

And it goes without saying that the Odo/Garak interaction is first class - not least of which because it proves beyond doubt that Garak has become more than a stone killer during his time on DS9.

What I liked less was the Defiant plot. Others have already articulated the main problems, which I share. And I was also less happy with the portrayal of Tain at the end. But overall still a strong episode. 3.5 stars.
Fri, Jan 8, 2016, 2:11am (UTC -5)
"I can't just leave you here!"
- Garak to Tain as he is about to face his death on the burning Romulan warbird

"Dammit, we just can't leave her here!"
-Sisko to his subordinate as Jennifer lays dead on the burning Saratoga

The visual, emotional and storyline similarities here are obvious. And I love this parallel, and it is further strengthened by them at the end of the episode directly comparing the Battle of the Omarion Nebula to Wolf 359
Jason R.
Fri, Mar 11, 2016, 11:35am (UTC -5)
It's amazing how emasculated the Romulans become in DS9, starting with this episode. In all the battles where they take part, I don't think there's a single instance where we don't get gratuitous shots of Romulan warbirds getting wrecked.
Sat, Mar 12, 2016, 11:45am (UTC -5)
@Jason R. DS9 barely wrote Klingons reasonably, too. I always sort of got the sense that the writers were basically just giving the finger to races established in TNG.

They also weren't very good at keeping up the momentum even with races they focused on. I see the Cardassians decline as reasonable but the Jem'Hadar lost almost all their military punch very quickly. The earlier concepts like the potential mutual respect with Klingons, the Alpha vs. Gamma Jem'Hadar, totally fizzled out. The Bajorans were all but forgotten. Eventually the Breen pop out of nowhere as a major threat.

It is all very indicative of this consistent problem DS9 has with carrying momentum through to the finish.
Sun, Mar 20, 2016, 2:30pm (UTC -5)
Going through a DS9 S3 re-watch, this is easily one of the best two-part episodes Trek has ever done, right up there with TNG's "Best of Both Worlds" and DS9's later "In Purgatory's Shadow"/"By Inferno's Light".

My personal rankings of the top 5 Trek two-parters:

1. TNG "Best of Both Worlds"
2. DS9 "Improbable Cause"/"The Die is Cast"
3. DS9 "Purgatory"/"Inferno"
4. VOY "Scorpion I and II"
5. TNG "Chain of Command I and II"

This is a great followup, even with the final battle sequence feeling slightly dated visually by today's standards (not to mention the reuse of the Generations soundtrack). Garak and Odo just carry the show, and the Defiant charging in and blasting away is just plain awesome.

Sigh...I miss Garak. I hope they have a character like him in the new Trek series.
Sun, Mar 20, 2016, 11:48pm (UTC -5)
The second part of this story gets rid of most of the intrigue and instead gives us some truly visceral scenes and some wonderful high-stakes action. "The Die is Cast" is another damn good episode and a very worthy continuation of "Improbable Cause", but I don't think it's quite up to the same level. It has one fairly obvious flaw which I'll get to shortly.

First, the torture scene. HOLY LORD! Now that was one riveting piece of entertainment! Auberjonois and Robinson both make it completely convincing (through the terrific make-up work on Odo no doubt helps as well). Here we have a person going through something that nobody could possibly understand (because we're not shape-shifters) and yet Auberjonois really sells the pain Odo is going through. And Robinson effectively plays the role of the man who really is being tortured even better. The moment he breaks down and literally begs Odo to give him something is remarkable. It really shows how the Federation and its "insidious" principles are really rubbing off on Garak. He may be an untrustworthy bastard who has no problem getting his hands extremely dirty, but he does have something of a heart. This definitely gives "THERE ARE FOUR LIGHTS!" a run for its money.

Second, the main plot involving the assault on the Founders. This does a marvelous job of actually showing just how big a threat the Dominion actually is. Up until now we've only been told how impressive they are; we've never actually seen them do anything all that impressive. Sure, they destroyed the Enterprise stand-in Galaxy-class ship in "The Jem'Hadar", but that was only because they kamikazed it. In fact, given the events of "The Abandoned" the Dominion mostly has come across like they're just violent thugs and little more. Boy oh boy does this episode change that! These people are now just as intimidating as the Borg. The scale of the Founders' plan is impressive to say the least! They were able to get two alien empires to construct a fleet just to attack them, then abandoned their planet as part of the ruse and lured the new fleet into the Gamma Quadrant in order to be destroyed. It really shows just how dangerous even one Changeling infiltrator can be. They're also shown to be the new Big Bad on the block. The Obsidian Order has been established by DS9 as being the group you clearly do not want to mess with and yet the Dominion curb-stomped them without breaking a sweat. The Romulans, on the other hand, have been established on TNG as being a power that even the Federation is very afraid of (shown easily by having the Warbirds be so much larger than the Enterprise in all their encounters). Hell, the Romulans have been presented as a significant threat going all the way back to TOS: "Balance of Terror" and yet even they were bitch-slapped by the Founders! The message is crystal clear - the Dominion is not to be trifled with.

Third, the absolutely magnificent world-building. If you doubt that DS9 did wonders with Trek world-building, just consider the following.... They were able here to take three alien empires (the Cardassians, the Romulans, the Dominion) and craft a compelling narrative around them without really having to rely on the entity we're naturally most familiar with - the Federation. That's a sure sign of excellent storytelling and writing right there. At no point is the Federation involved in Tain's plan for attacking the Founders. At no point is the Federation really in any danger from the Dominion in these episodes (aside from Changeling Lovok's implicit threat at the end). And yet, they were able to make us care about what were essentially pieces of background material in the other Trek series just as much as we care about the "hero" society. Outstanding.

So, what's the flaw that holds "The Die is Cast" back from a perfect score? It's the rather puzzling statement by Changeling Lovok about the Cardassians and Romulans not being threats to the Dominion anymore. How exactly does destroying these two empires' intelligence services completely remove them as threats? Sure, this would be a massive blow to the Cardassians and Romulans, but a debilitating one? I don't think so. Both still have gargantuan, powerful militaries at their disposal. Both are still huge threats! It is true that the loss of the Obsidian Order was a crippling blow to Cardassia, one which would lead directly to the dissident movement being able to overthrow the Central Command and setting up a more democratic government. That, in turn, would play into the Dominion's hands by having the Klingon invasion take place at the hands of Changeling Martok. But the point is - Cardassia is still a problem that requires more attention. The Romulans, conversely, are actually left in better shape than the Cardassians. We later learn that the Tal Shiar itself was able to survive and Romulus would go on to provide a crucial turning point in the eventual Dominion War. "After today the only real threat to us from the Alpha Quadrant are the Klingons and the Federation."? No, I think you might be jumping the gun a little quickly there, buddy. You still have a lot of work to do with these two powers.

Still, it's a wonderfully strong episode all around despite this one snag.

Fri, Apr 22, 2016, 6:47am (UTC -5)
So, Sisko yet again disobeys a direct order from an admiral. Will he be court martialled for placing Bajor and his own crew at risk? Nope. And it's this kind of thing that annoys me. It's not like he can pretend he never heard the orders - and his crew go along with it also.
Fri, Apr 22, 2016, 6:54am (UTC -5)
There's so much wrong with this - it gets worse:

Eddington has been ordered by the admiral to stop Sisko IF he disobeys orders (already that's ridiculous. If you can't trust the man running the station to follow orders, you'd never put them in charge of a station). Sisko decides Eddington needs to be placed under guard for obeying an admiral (lol) - and then orders O'Brien to fix the ship. And even that dialogue is absurd. He asks how long it will take and gets told 10 hours. He tells O'brien that he has 2.

None of this makes any sense. It's written by a 5 year old.
Fri, Apr 22, 2016, 7:02am (UTC -5)
Well, ok, to be fair - the Garak-Odo story was very well done. I wish the Sisko storyline was.
Fri, Apr 22, 2016, 9:51am (UTC -5)
@DLPB - You do remember that Sisko is Bajor's Jesus, right?

I actually got the feeling more than once that certain Admirals would rather he not be on this assignment anymore but don't want to piss off the Bajorans, whom they very much want to join the Federation.

Just my 2 cents.
William B
Fri, Apr 22, 2016, 11:28am (UTC -5)
@Robert, and yet.... If Sisko gets to keep his job because he is Bajoran Space Jesus, they should just assign someone else who will follow orders be in charge of DS9 as tactical position/Gamma Quadrant issues and keep Sisko on as the Federation-Bajoran liaison/ in charge of local Bajoran system issues. Sisko might pitch a fit like Odo did over Eddington, but could he or the Bajoran genuinely deny that dealing with the Dominion AND local Bajoran issues is too much for one officer? Basically put the Defiant under the command of someone with a job like Worf's, but with higher authority, who would actually be trained and qualified to make intergalactic war decisions for the Federation.
Fri, Apr 22, 2016, 11:47am (UTC -5)
I think that would have made for an interesting storyline, especially after what happens next season with the signing of Bajor into the Federation (or is that in 2 seasons... I think it's 2 seasons).
William B
Fri, Apr 22, 2016, 2:35pm (UTC -5)
It definitely would have been interesting. In some ways they did end up going there with Ross in season seven.

I can see ultimately why it wouldn't work dramatically to have Sisko be basically ousted as series lead. A certain amount of suspension of disbelief I can get behind. However, that's sort of the problem when Sisko flaunts orders the way he does here -- to the extent that it makes sense that he gets away with it because of his Emissary status, it just points out that Starfleet shouldn't have to rely so much on someone who is basically impossible to fire and who can do whatever he wants. Most organizations would figure out a way to neutralize him by giving him less responsibilities, rather than, as we see in the series, giving him much more. I think the solution for the show would be to do a better job of showing Sisko *not* openly defying orders like in episodes like this (or Rapture, really), so that it doesn't raise the question of why they put up with him not just as guy in charge in Bajoran sector but for apparently that whole area of space and the Gamma Quadrant and makes all the decisions for when the Federation enters into war, and so on. Or, if Sisko does defy orders, have there be consequences that make it convincing that Sisko would think twice before pulling a stunt like he does in this episode, of leaving Bajor etc. unprotected so that he can rescue one officer and one civilian, without even mentioning the civilian as a reason to go.
Tue, May 10, 2016, 12:13am (UTC -5)
Robert, you are substituting one absurdity for another... again. There is no way a real Starfleet, or even the Starfleet of Generation, would allow Sisko to disobey orders or do as he pleased because of some perceived "Space Jesus". Starfleet do not consider Sisko Space Jesus - they don't consider the Wormhole Aliens as prophets - and not would any sane man.

So what exactly is the reason for allowing Sisko to get away with disobeying a direct order AND putting the lives of his crew in danger? Neglect of comrades is among the most serious crimes a captain can commit. Also, I refuse to believe that an institution like Starfleet would even consider someone like Sisko as sane/rational/or competent for the role of captain in such an important place with THAT kind of conduct.

No real life organization of this kind would. We can dance around for days coming up with reasons why X Y Z happens in Trek but, sometimes, you just have to admit the writers were out of their depth - wanted to tell a story - and forced it no matter the absurdity.
Sat, Jun 4, 2016, 9:37pm (UTC -5)
@DLPB: I look at DS9's Dominion war in the lense that the producers wanted this to be reminiscent of World War II in terms of politics and military alliances (makes even more sense to think of the Romulans as the Soviet Union then after "Pale Moonlight" :P ).

Actually, real history has proven it can happen in real organizations and military that a military leader can be impossible to work with and impossible to remove from power, General Charles De Gaulle is probably one of the most well-documented messianic military leaders, who on many occasion disobeyed orders relayed through Allied high command. One of the most famous interchanges was between Churchill and De Gaulle in 1941:

De Gaulle: The French Believe I am their savior, a Joan of Arc
Churchill: Well, General, we had to burn the last one

Despite what Churchill or General Montgomery or General Eisenhower or even President Roosevelt felt about the man, he was the face and voice of the French people around the world. They never could remove him or replace him with anyone else, in the end, he returned to France as a liberator and became their President.

A popular leader is hard to remove and replace from power, a religious popular leader is several times harder to remove and replace. The US would love to remove the Iranian Ayatollah's who speaks about killing Americans and burning Israel to the ground, but what is stopping us after 40 years. A cruise missile strike or a drone attack in the last 3 decades could do the job easily, but removing a religious leader is incredibly polarizing and dangerous to international diplomacy with his adherents and other world powers as a precedent (The Pope might remember his history lesson, when France invaded and replaced a Pope for one that they picked, history would call this man the "Avignon Pope", most Catholics hated the french for centuries after that.)

Politics, interstellar relations, and affinities all play important roles even in Star Trek. While removing Sisko might seem easy just on military chain of command (I prefer how Captain Sheridan dealt with that in Babylon 5 "Severed Dreams", but that was a different set of circumstance), removing those that love and adhere to his leadership, his religious personage, and his influence over galactic politics, which by the way was hinted at later on in the series, is nearly impossible.

Last note of correction, DS9 is in Bajoran Space, not Federation space, while it might be a Federation outpost, it is technically a base on lease from a foreign sovereign nation in Star Trek Universe and is revocable at any time just like our own leases for military bases in the real world.
Tue, Jun 28, 2016, 10:13pm (UTC -5)
Sisko is not even remotely comparable to Churchill. He is a captain on a space station. He is not a leader of a country.
Thu, Sep 1, 2016, 7:34pm (UTC -5)
re Sisko not returning --

What commenter DLPB wrote:

"Neglect of comrades is among the most serious crimes a captain can commit."

Furthermore, Odo is a Changeling, the nature of which makes him a very valuable asset; his presence on the station is essentially Bajor's life insurance policy, and Sisko knows that very well. So does Odo, [spoiler—] especially when he chooses to stay on DS9 after the Dominion and Cardassians much later overran the station's defenses, and Sisko was forced to leave.

Lovok's reveal is the reason Odo finally chose instead to return to DS9, because he understood the danger that the Dominion posed to Bajor and the entire Alpha Quadrant. We should not forget, that Odo is an officer of Bajor.

Were he to join the Great Link right then and there, his adoptive home would have been left completely defenseless, and the other shapeshifters would have then been free to work their magic on DS9.

Because Odo's presence on Deep Space Nine meant, that the Dominion really could not use the station and Bajor as a springboard into the Alpha Quadrant (they could not attack either for fear of hitting Odo by accident), and therefore had to go past these places to use Dukat and the Cardassians to expand their galactic domination. This essentially bought some time for everyone. And the Alpha Quadrant.

Of course, Fake Lovok didn't like it, and that's why he chose to use the narrower definition of 'no Changeling has harmed another', in that he decided not to notify the Jem'Hadar to not shoot at (or even provide cover to) the runabout carrying Odo and Garak, who were attempting to escape the mêlée of a very intense space battle.

There's a high probability, that Odo has by then realised Fake Lovok's hypocrisy about the 'no harm' adage, because the runabout was repeatedly shot at, and lost its shields.
Many episodes later, we can actually see how palpable Odo's importance is during Dukat's occupation of Terek Nor (Or Terok, if you will), as Odo's presence alone causes Weyoun to defer to Odo (because like any other changeling, he's like a god to the Vorta) — much to the chagrin of Dukat and the annoyance of the Female Shapeshifter, who finally arrives in "Sacrifice of Angels" to neutralise Odo, and by proxy, the resistance movement on the station.
Sat, Sep 3, 2016, 4:51pm (UTC -5)

Nope, Sisko is comparable to General Charles De Gaulle: headstrong, fierce, and hold popular favor among a necessary allied population

I am long winded, but that was my point about Sisko, if Churchill, Roosevelt, Montgomery, and Eisenhower couldn't get rid of De Gaulle, why would you expect the Federation to remove Sisko?
William H
Wed, Sep 14, 2016, 8:50am (UTC -5)
I find the lack of consequences for the cast a bit jarring in this one. Not just Sisko getting away with disobeying orders, but Garak torturing Odo being basically forgotten. Except perhaps it brought the two of them closer together? I don't buy that, sorry.

Generally I feel like DS9 has a tendency to let some too big things slide, perhaps because of the whole "shades of grey" thing. Though I suppose you could argue that a lot of it is the same "my people" license that Worf gets in TNG.
Mon, Dec 12, 2016, 5:08pm (UTC -5)
After re-watching this two parter for probably the tenth time I just realized there is a minor plothole. Let me put it this way:

[Lovok beams out]
Garak: I'm going to the bridge to get Tain. Get to the runabout and wait for me as long as you can!
Odo: Wait a second, why can't we just go to the runabout and beam him out from there, given that the warbird's shields are completely trashed?
Garak: Er, because ... because ... because that is a great idea!
[Cut to runabout]
Odo: Energizing.
[Tain is beamed in]
Tain: Nooooo! I wanted to sit on my flaming bridge and mope!
Odo: See? Nothing to it. No having to drag people through the flaming corridors of a gigantic Romulan warbird, no having to punch people in the face to knock them out, nothing like that.
Garak: Why would you want to punch people in the face?
Odo: No reason.
[Cut to two years later - Internment Camp 371]
Bashir: Dang it! I don't have the skills to MacGuyver together a communication device and send a message to DS9 letting them know I'm here! They're all totally screwed now!

However, this is still one of the best two-parters in Trek ever, so as such, it's best not to dwell on such minutae, to quote future Garak.
Mon, Jan 30, 2017, 11:57am (UTC -5)

Not saying Sisko just returning to his old job isn't silly, but it's not really a neglect when he specifically told his crew this is a voluntary mission and they are not obligated to go with him, IIRC.
Fri, Feb 24, 2017, 5:37am (UTC -5)
@NCC-1701-Z: HAHA!! When you put it that way, it does seem that a lot of the last scene was superfluous.

I thought this was an amazing episode, providing closure, flashy battleship scenes, the obligatory deus ex machina of Starship of the Series swooping in to rescue the day, and of course Garak as a central character, which never misses the mark. The last scene between him and Tain was very poignant, as was Tain's final scene, where he calmly muses 'These Founders, Elim... they're very good,' especially when contextualised against his role in 'In Purgatory's Shadow.' I agree with a former poster who said that he was too cuddly and teddy bear like to come across as a cold-blooded, heartless spy/assassin/mastermind, but it made him likeable enough for his denouement scene to have enough of an emotional impact.
Other Chris
Mon, Mar 13, 2017, 5:09pm (UTC -5)
Just adding to the praise here: a top-notch two-parter and excellent character work by everyone involved. Tight scripts like these make me love this show.
Fri, Apr 7, 2017, 12:47am (UTC -5)
TNG blows. DS9 for the win. Literally. If this was the Enterprise Picard would be like "no way man. We're not getting involved cuz the prime directive 'n' shit" but he would say it in strong British acting. Captain Sisko Kicks ass like a Boss. Also the acting is out of this glactic quadrant.
Sun, Jun 18, 2017, 11:46pm (UTC -5)
Why didn't the R&C fleet just cloak when they were ambushed? The could have snuck away.
Mon, Jun 19, 2017, 10:26am (UTC -5)

You're right, that's a plothole. I doubt most of them could get away because of their formation was so compact that a barrage from the Dominion would almost certainly hit them even while cloaked. Still, I'm sure one or two ships would've gotten away, these are supposed to covert military operations officers, right?
Thu, Jun 29, 2017, 4:25pm (UTC -5)
A fitting conclusion to "Improbable Cause" - awesome battle scene and more great moments between Odo and Garak.

What's interesting and maybe a bit cliche is Tain's response to getting his butt kicked - he wants to go down in flames - he's a true warrior/spy spouting the usual lines at the end about his own miscalculations and the enemy's prowess.

I do find it hard to believe Sisko disobeys the admiral's orders to go rescue Odo knowing the dangers -- and the fact that it all worked out spares him a court-martial. The odds against his success were pretty high.

The part about Eddington sabotaging the cloaking device was good. I like how Sisko and Eddington both dealt with it -- I think of it as good professional Star Fleet conduct. Both doing their duties, following orders but being honest about the changing circumstances and their roles for ensuring success.

As for the Romulan/changeling to give away Tain's plan, it seems this is the only way the Founders could have avoided destruction. Got to wonder how to defeat them if they can take on anybody anywhere (recalling the main Founder impersonating Kira stuck in the crystal).

But really the best scene is Garak "torturing" Odo - this was powerful. Have to feel Garak wants to prove something to Tain -- perhaps he feels Tain could turn on him (although Tain comes across as too jolly - but given his history...)

I'd give "The Die Is Cast" 3.5 stars - plenty of great stuff here with the massive battle scene and Odo/Garak interaction. The defeat of the Romulans/Cardassians by the Founders leaves the latter as a massive threat and keeps the main story arc going. The ending, as Jammer mentions, with Garak in his shop as Odo comes by concludes this 2-parter perfectly - was really all about Garak/Odo and their newly discovered "bond".
Daniel B
Sat, Jul 8, 2017, 2:39am (UTC -5)
This wasn't bad, but it was too obvious a trap and utterly unbelievable that NOBODY saw it coming. EVERYONE just took it for granted that the Founder left themselves completely defenseless.
Thu, Mar 29, 2018, 9:01pm (UTC -5)
Why didn't Odo just turn off or smash the device that Garek was using on him? There was a on/off button on it.
Fri, Aug 17, 2018, 12:36pm (UTC -5)
"The Die is Cast" comes close to perfection but ultimately fails to reach it. The Garak/Odo material is just as good as the previous episode, but there's a weak subplot about the Defiant's rescue of Odo. It takes away from the tension of the Odo/Garak scenes, and it's devoid of credibility. First of all, why is it necessary? All the changeling would have to do is inform the Jem'Hadar that Odo is on the runabout escaping one of the ships, and they would have to grant him safe passage back to DS9. Second of all, why is everyone consequence free when they get back to DS9? Sisko disobeyed direct orders. Such plot holes wouldn't matter if the actual material was strong, but it isn't really. It provides a nice space battle, but on the whole, "The Die is Cast" would have been more remarkable had it kept its focus squarely on Odo and Garak.

3.5 stars, albeit a very strong 3.5.
Tue, Aug 28, 2018, 10:03pm (UTC -5)
3 stars.

I don’t think it was as good as Inprobable Cause. A lot of lulls like all the Defiant story pretty much. Couldn’t care about Eddington or the sabotage. I was never a Tain fan so not too into that. Torturing Odo was a striking visual but torture itself and his big secret were a little ho hum. I did like Garak’s concern for Odo shining through. Those were nice.

I was also glad that the writers didn’t wrap up the Dominion stuff with destruction of Founders. Which is what I feared which would have been a total let down as Dominion had more potential for storytelling. I also loved the Founders machinations. And plan to let Cardassia and Romulus pool all their best soldiers and ships to lead them to their destruction. Also quite chilling was the Founder’s revelation that all that remained as threats were the Federation and Klingons but wouldn’t be for long.

One nitpick was Odo’s runabout never should have been targeted by Jem’Hadar As the Romulan Founder should have ordered the Jem’Hadar not to fire on it with a Founder onboard

Liked the wolf 359 nod. Very appropriate
Fri, Oct 5, 2018, 9:40am (UTC -5)
Wow! I watched Deep Space Nine when Next Generation was still on. The two aired back-to-back on Saturday night. But the intricate characterizations and political overtones went over my head, and I just couldn't get into it. By the time Voyager premiered and it somewhat replaced the starship-sized hole left by TNG (not to mention airing on a different night), I stopped watching DS9 completely.

When I finally gave the show the chance I always promised my fellow Trekker friend I would four years ago, I had no idea this riveting, explosive sequence of events even existed. This is, without a doubt, the best two-part episode of DS9 and the second-best two-parter of the entire franchise behind "The Best of Both Worlds." Odo and Garak are my favorite characters of the series. They're so expertly written and performed, and in these two episodes, the plot matches the characters in depth and intrigue.

I must say, however, that "The Die Is Cast" does suffer from the same stumblings as most two-part conclusions. Sisko and the others deciding to risk their lives and careers to save one officer makes no sense, neither does the fact that they face no consequences upon their return. The torture scene and the final battle make up for it, but I'd say this deserves three stars, not four.
Peter G.
Fri, Oct 5, 2018, 10:55am (UTC -5)
A lot of people seem to have difficulty accepting the "Defiant to the rescue" trope in this episode and in others. I agree that it's probably not good to have begun a trend of Sisko doing what Picard does in ST: FC and taking in the ship because he 'knows better'.

However in defence of it in this particular instance, Sisko is facing a very peculiar situation. We have maybe the first time ever in the franchise where the Prime Directive ends up being a convenient excuse not to do the right thing. In this case a war between different powers, which is not something the Federation would normally be allowed to be involved in, involves an attempted genocide. This is no normal Prime Directive issue, and Starfleet Command deciding to do nothing isn't some trivial order to just accept. As Picard said, Starfleet doesn't want unthinking drones for officers but moral agents. It's debatable, but there's a case to make that intervening in a genocide is warranted no matter what Starfleet says. Not that Sisko could stop it all by himself, but maybe he could save someone while there.

The other issue is that in context of a genocide of the Changelings, Sisko might well have a priority to save Odo specifically, since he would be the last (or among the last) of his kind to survive if the attack was successful. This is a matter that goes even beyond principle but is about not allowing a species to be wiped out. And there's also the point that if the attack is unsuccessful, it's very good to have a member of that race still sympathetic to your side. There is also the matter of how valuable Sisko thinks Garak is, and maybe that's a resource he doesn't want to lose. Offhand I'd guess the major emphasis is on saving Odo, though.

The situation in this two-parter is so extraordinary that I find it hard to fault Sisko for making a decision and going with it, even putting aside the "out heroes must come to the rescue" TV trope.
Thu, Oct 18, 2018, 12:58am (UTC -5)
Teaser : ***.5, 5%

We pick up with Bashir attempting to carry on with O'Brien over a meal. Miles may be an adequate sparring partner at racquetball or darts, but the sod isn't really cut out for debates over the theatre. We learn that O'Brien's nan is would probably get along just fine with the folks in Fairhaven and that Bashir misses his enigmatic buddy. Some time has passed since he and Odo have disappeared. Miles is called to Ops to examine some crazy readings approaching the stations, and wouldn't you know it, Tain's Romulan fleet, along with a Cardassian fleet, equipped with cloaks, appears outside the station and both fleets enter the wormhole. Guess it's time for operation Lend Me Your Ears.

Act 1 : ***, 17%

In the GQ, Tain and Garak enjoy Romulan mimosas or whatever, reminiscing about the good old days, pulling teeth, torturing civilians, you know, back when Cardassia was Great™. It's actually very weird to see Garak being so relaxed and open with, well, anybody. He mentions Dukat as one of the people whose faces he's looking forward to rubbing in the dirt when they return to Cardassia, or you know, murdered. Speaking of murder, Tain tells Garak that old Mila is going to have to die, for the same reason as Tain's other protégés. What's most interesting here is that despite deliberate efforts by both men to see themselves in each other, what with their shared skills, profession, house-keepers and...other issues which we can probably guess at, Garak is quite insistent that he never betrayed Tain, while Tain doesn't really seem to care either way, provided Garak can serve his purpose. Garak pretends to be a lot of things to a lot of people, but to himself, he *pretends* to be Tain. But he isn't. Colonel Lovok, the Romulan leader, enters and reports that the fleet is (slowly) approaching its target. Oh, and Garak is expected to get Odo to give up his Changeling secrets.

Odo is his usual happy self, positively spitting at Garak in anger when he visits him in secured quarters. It's pretty remarkable that their verbal sparring has retained the same tenor, mixing menace and humour, despite this radical shift in power dynamics. While Garak may have the upper hand at the moment, leveraging his position to try and get Odo to talk, Odo (poor grammar notwithstanding) returns to the Julius Cæsar theme:

ODO: The only common enemy you and I share is Enabran Tain. The difference between you and I is that you don't know it.

Meanwhile, on DS9, the senior staff, with Eddington playing substitute for Odo, I assume, watch Tain's viral video in which he announces his plan to Cardassia (and Romulus), having passed the point where anyone could stop him. He warns the CCC in particular to be ready for an attack by the Jem'Hadar after he destroys the Founders, chastising the state for being blinded by their naïve peace treaties with Bajor and the Federation. This message has been brought to DS9 via Admiral Gold Shirt who explains that Starfleet intelligence believes Romulus and Cardassia are going to go ahead and let their spies proceed and see if he succeeds, the genocidal bastards. Oh, and the Federation hopes for this as well. Sigh...come on, DS9, you were doing so well! Do we REALLY have to fall back on this badmiral trope? Anyway, he orders the Defiant to remain at its post defending Bajor; Sisko is not permitted to try and rescue Odo. I guess he isn't too concerned about Garak. Well. It takes Sisko all of 2 seconds to order the Defiant prepared for launch anyway. For once, it seems, Sisko is aware that his violation of orders is going to carry serious consequences, but he has decided that Odo's life is worth the sacrifice. Sure, I'll play along.

Act 2 : ***, 17%

So, the Defiant is fully manned, with the entire senior staff prepared to be court-martialled for their infractions. Yeah. Admiral Goldshirt hails and reminds Sisko not to violate orders. Sisko, because he just can't help being a complete fucking asshole, has Kira pull the broken-radio gag. This does double-duty, filling an otherwise fresh and engaging story with tired clichés AND it means Sisko, true to character, would rather hide from Starfleet than tell the Admiral to his face that he is going to defy orders because he feels he must. None of this surprises me anymore. Anyway, they enter the GQ and engage the cloak.

On Tain's Flagship, Lovok briefs them all on the plan—they will proceed to that nebula from “The Search,” and bombard the Changeling homeworld from space...for five hours...destroying the entire mantle. Man...give people who spend their lives performing covert operations a few tanks and guns and they really go overboard! Although, I suppose genocide isn't something you want to half-ass. Tain believes it's possible the Founders have some heretofore unknown planetary defences that Odo would know about. Garak tries to avoid the unavoidable and convince Tain that Odo has definitely shared all he knew in his report to Starfleet. No, Garak is going to have to torture Odo. That is the inevitable place this story is headed. The question is, how do you possibly torture a shapeshifter? Well knowing Odo, I would say they should probably put him in a holodeck where he has to watch Quark perform oral sex on Kira, but Tain implies they have other methods at their disposal. Sensing Garak's reluctance, Tain threatens to have Lovok take over the interrogation, but Garak knows that Odo's best chance of avoiding unnecessary suffering is if he himself completes his task.

TAIN: You don't have to do this.
GARAK: Yes, I do. And I think we both know that you won't trust me until I do.

On the Defiant, a technical glitch causes the cloak to fail. Ah, good. So glad this plot is here.

Act 3 : ***, 17%

Eddington comes clean immediately. Admiral Goldshirt ordered him to prevent Sisko from pursuing the fleet. So naturally, Eddington sabotaged the cloak instead of, say the warp drive, which would have kept the ship docked instead of a sitting duck in the middle of Dominion space. Brilliant! What follows is an incredibly bizarre line of reasoning on Sisko's part:

EDDINGTON: I report directly to Admiral Toddman and he gave me an explicit order. I couldn't disobey it.
SISKO: I don't suppose you could.

Really? Didn't you say in your briefing that anyone going on this mission was risking a court martial for disobeying a direct order from the exact same admiral? Was it not implicit when Eddington reported to the bridge, that he had decided to do disobey an explicit order? Ah, but then, 30 seconds later:

EDDINGTON: Sir, if we run into the Jem'Hadar, you're still going to need a chief security officer.
KIRA: What makes you think we'll trust you again?
EDDINGTON: Because I give you my word.
SISKO: I make it a policy to never question the word of anyone who wears that uniform.

Wait—so you asked your crew to break their oaths and follow you into the GQ, only to discover that one of them *kept* their word to Admiral Goldshirt, and thereby broke their word to you. But now, because they wear the uniform—the same uniform they were wearing when they appeared to break their word to the admiral, who ALSO wears the same uniform—you decide you can trust this person? Hmm... well, if you were looking for a quick and efficient way to convince someone to betray Starfleet some day, maybe by joining the Maquis or something, I think you've made an effective case. Bravo, commander.

Alright, well with that shit finally over, we return to the Warbird. Garak brings Tain's device into Odo's quarters. Odo is expectedly sarcastic, taunting Garak over the imminent torture. It's easy to keep up a brave front when you think you can't be hurt, but it turns out this amazing device can prevent Changelings from...changing, essentially putting them in full-body stress positions when their cycles of regeneration begin. And of course, Tain, master spy, has made sure that there are people on Cardassia with knowledge of this technology so that it can be developed and replicated in case anyone ever needs to ferret out a Changeling spy in the future. Oh yeah.

Okay. Seeing Odo unable to transform is genuinely disturbing, Auberjonois showing the intense fear that accompanies being suddenly disabled and on the verge of great pain. Garak, for his part, displays another new facet himself, shades of Gul Madred, which is quite ominous. Like Madred with Picard, Garak plays up the similarities between the two men.

GARAK: You and I are so alike. We both value our privacy, our secrets. That's why I know there's something about the Founders you haven't told anyone. Something you didn't even share with Starfleet and Commander Sisko, hmm? But you are going to tell me, Odo.

Well, that was riveting. can we totally sabotage the mood? I know, let's return to the Defiant! Kira is antsy about sitting in the GQ without a cloak. Great. So glad we spent time on that.

Back to the torture. Odo looks...absolutely horrifying—like a decomposing zombie. And STILL through this further mutation of their dynamic, the verbal sparring continues. Incredible. Finally, Garak is begging Odo to give him something to end the torture, for it is Garak who has been broken by this process. Through groans of agony, Odo gives up his great secret:

ODO: Home. I want to go home!...Not the station. Home with my people.
GARAK: The Founders? You want to return to the Founders? I thought you turned your back on them.
ODO: I did, but they're still my people. I tried to deny it, I tried to forget, but I can't. They're my people and I want to be with them in the Great Link.

With his awful task complete, Garak runs over to release Odo from his suffering and the pathetic Changeling hobbles into a bucket while Garak collapses in a heap of grief. I want to give this scene ten thousand stars for the stunning performances and harrowing characterisations the torturing provides. It's truly inspired. I wish this were the whole episode.

Act 4 : ****, 17%

So, O'Brien has repaired the cloak and the Defiant can resume course. Great.

Garak, his composure restored, reports to Tain. Amazingly, after all of that, he lets Odo keep his secret. I'll come back to this. Tain wants Odo executed in that case, but Lovok steps in to agree with Garak's suggestion that he be kept alive for now—they don't want to provoke the Federation, right? The fleet has arrived at the nebula, so the trio head to the bridge, but Lovok takes a moment to confront Garak over his emotional attachment to Odo, which of course he denies. He tells Garak that he is “a practised observer.” Hintety-hint hint.

And now it's time to end the Dominion threat for ever! The fleet open fire on the planet, but there is no change in lifeform readings. Garak immediately surmises that the planet has been deserted, and somewhere, a catfish-headed alien screams, “IT'S A TRAP!” Yeah, the Dominion has sent about 150 ships—one of which was able to destroy a Galaxy-class starship, remember—to confront Tain's fleet.

Act 5 : ***, 17%

An impressive space battle, a little ironic quotation of Shakespeare. All in all, some great stuff in this climax. The Flagship is breaking apart around them. Lovok leaves the bridge to secure the Engine Room and Garak...Garak leaves to rescue Odo. Ah, but Lovok is not far behind. To their surprise, he gives them what they need to access the runabout. Lovok is a Changeling spy and, as we have been told twice this season, no Changeling has ever harmed another. Well that's ironic—Garak should have just let him do the torturing. The Founders intentionally helped Tain see his mission come to fruition, preying on his egomania in order to wipe out the OO and the Tal Shiar, leaving only the Klingons and Federation as significant AQ threats. Lovok offers to let Odo rejoin the Link, but Odo refuses.

Garak is going to try and rescue Tain. He returns to the bridge to find his old mentor pulling his best Kahn impression, babbling to himself semi-coherently as death closes in around him. Finally, Odo shows up, knocks Garak unconscious and drags him to the runabout. Tain can just burn in hell, I guess.

Because no Changeling has harmed another, the Jem'Hadar are pursing the runabout. You'd think Dominion bureaucracy would be more efficient in disseminating important directives like this. Ah well, there's actually a reason for this contrivance, we have to justify the Defiant's participation in this story. The Defiant blows some stuff up, beams the pair aboard, and barrels through dozens of Jem'Hadar ships. This is fun and all, but exactly when and how did the Defiant get upgraded so much since “The Search?”

In the epilogue, Admiral Goldshirt completes the circle of cheese with this stupid line: “If you pull a stunt like that again I'll court martial you or I'll promote you. Either way you'll be in a lot of trouble.” Please, sir, just shoot me instead.

Garak and Odo have a wonderful final scene together in the charred remnants of his shoppe, with Odo framed in a mirror. They've both decided to keep the more sordid details of the affair out of their reports, including Odo's confession. In the end, Odo asks Garak to join him for a meal sometime. Maybe they don't have to be quite so alone any longer.

Episode as Functionary : ***.5, 10%

Let's get this out of the way, the Definat subplot is like a rotting albatross fouling up a wonderful conclusion to a riveting story. It is nothing more than a series of clichés which do Sisko absolutely no favours (I'm starting to think this is a mandate amongst the writing staff). The only good part is the final battle sequence, which is really just some candy. Honestly, I would have excised most of it—let Sisko tell Admiral Goldshirt that he's going whether he likes it or not, have the Defiant take off and then appear in the finale. That would have been plenty and been much kinder to the characters.

The actual story is very, very strong, especially at the end. There are a few more logical holes than in “Improbable Cause,” but this is made up for by stunning performances and thrilling stakes. The Dominion has now proven itself to be dangerous in entirely new ways than was established in “The Jem'Hadar” and “The Search.” They don't just understand force, they understand politics.

Odo's arc, from “Necessary Evil” through “The Search” to here is quite compelling. Here is a man who has adopted a system of justice because it overlays, albeit imperfectly, over his innate desire for order. He does this in order to carve out an identity for himself, in contrast to what he observes to be fickle creatures around him. But this niche is terribly lonely, especially for a man who discovers that his natural state is to be in near-constant communion with his people. To twist the knife, those same people are revealed to be incredibly un-just in their relationship with the rest of the galaxy, the clear antithesis of those values Odo has adopted in his makeshift community. What his decision to deny Lobok's offer finally reveals to us, and to himself, is that, for better or worse, Odo has grown a humanoid conscience that no amount of temptation, no amount of torture can break. But that's small comfort to such a lonely man, who is forced to return to his little job, his little feuds with Quark, and the hope that maybe, someone like Garak can begin to understand him.

Garak is on a similar journey. Here is someone we know to have given up everything for his people. But he too, living amongst the democratic rabble, as Kor will one day put it, has changed fundamentally from the man he was when he was Tain's protégé. And yet...

In “Improbable Cause,” Odo told Garak that it remained to be seen whether he had a sense of honour. Despite the dark corners this story pushes him to, I think the answer to this looming question is “yes.” Despite his irrational affection and loyalty to Tain, despite his clear intents throughout the series to present himself to the world as a duplicate of of his mentor, as ruthless and as self-assured as Julius himself, Garak could not bring himself to betray Tain, nor could he bring himself to betray Odo. Garak does have a sense of honour. And in the end, it saved his life. It remains to be seen how that small comfort will serve him as he too returns to a lonely life, with perhaps only one person he can be honest with.

There was a Brutus once that would have brooked
Th’ eternal devil to keep his state in Rome
As easily as a king.
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious,
And Brutus is an honourable man.

Final Score : ***
Thu, Oct 18, 2018, 12:23pm (UTC -5)

Yeah, I think they were trying to go with a more TOS feel with that line from the admiral to Sisko about court martial or promotion. On the one hand, Sisko pulled off an amazing gambit going into the GQ and saving Odo without even a cloak. That’s a gutsy move I can see Starfleet getting behind that when it suits them. The problem, besides Sisko disobeying orders. is that Sisko is unnecessarily getting himself involved in a conflict the Federation was trying to be neutral in. Besides saving Odo (a person Starfleet has never shown fondness for) is there really any reason the Federation needs to get involved here? Sorry if my memory isn’t clear but I believe Sisko enters the scene guns blazing too. It looks cool, but it’s kind of hard to buy that Sisko would automatically side against the Dominion and with the OO/TS (the people who are holding Odo captive to begin with).
Thu, Oct 18, 2018, 12:29pm (UTC -5)

I honestly don't have a problem with Sisko choosing to disobey orders--it's the fact that he doesn't have the courage to be forthright about it and then stand on his soapbox with Eddington over honesty and commitment to the uniform that is unacceptable. This is the kind of thing Dukat would do. The court-martial thing is just super cheesy and at odds with the tone of the A-plot which is so gripping.
Mon, Oct 22, 2018, 6:38pm (UTC -5)
Elliott's dismantling of the whole Sisko-Eddington-Toddman sabotage thing made me laugh.

For what it's worth, Tain always gave me chills. I felt his jovial exterior was - not faked, exactly - but masked a really cold, merciless man. Someone who can do dreadful things, or induce others to, while being cheery about it, is twice as scary. I thought Paul Dooley did a fine job of portraying this.
Tue, Dec 18, 2018, 10:47pm (UTC -5)
Got back to the eps .

Nice job, both parts!

Bedtime for Springy, and feeling sooo tired, but will say: Good stuff!! Great performances from Rene and Robinson, great battle scenes, all good.
Wed, Dec 19, 2018, 9:49am (UTC -5)
Further thoughts:

--Best yet on DS9, IMO.

--Agree the Sisko part was the weakest part, in various ways, but can easily overlook. All our Trek "Captains" must have their cowboy moments.

--Garak. I looked up Robinson and learned he wrote a book to wrap up Garak's arc to his satisfaction. That sounds really interesting, though I'll have to see if DS9 itself wraps it up well enough for me.

--Odo! Nice way to let us know just how much Odo longs for the Link. I'm only partially spoiled from reading comments here (my choice, no need for anyone to "watch what they say" about eps that are 20+ years old). So I'm not 100% sure how this all ends up, but this is a great way to get the message across that this need is not going to be just going away for Odo.

--Lots and lots and lots of references to loyalty, betrayal, knowing who your friends are, and knowing who your enemies are . . . and NOT being blinded by need (and therefore easy to manipulate). The torture scene with Odo is an explicit representation: His need for liquidity starts to overwhelm him. Torture uses a person's need for relief to manipulate a person. But there are many, subtler ways, and we see them in the eps . . . need for approval, need for acceptance, need to relieve self of a debt, and more. We see that needs make you vulnerable . . .. open to both the good and the bad.
Sat, Jan 26, 2019, 9:17am (UTC -5)
I guess around 3 stars

I think this is overrated as an episode. DS9 has much better epic two parters.

This felt kind of just there in a lot of ways. Wasn’t all that riveted by the Tain/Garak dynamic—the relationship, the reminiscenting of the old days, garak trying to prove himself etc etc. it was obvious Garak would not want to torture Odo. It was obvious he was torn.

I also really didn’t much care for the Defiant plot either. Eddington never was very interesting yet the writers keep writing him in. I felt no sense of jeopardy or concern over the crew disobeying their orders. The damage and repair felt like filler scenes

The torture scene managed to rise above routine due to the torture method and the fact it was a shapeshifter being interrogated otherwise kinda ho hum. But the make up and visual of what not regenerating does to a changeling was a highlight

The best part of the show finally arrived on final act with the battle between the Cardassians/Romulans and Jem Hadar. I loved the twist and didn’t see it coming the Founders were aware of the attack and had evacuated. I was also relieved that the episode didn’t wrap up the Dominion as a threat by having the Foinders actually have been wiped out which was what I was concerned about in part one. There was still more to be done with them

I also enjoyed the fact that the Romulan commander was a changeling and his ominous statement set up nicely the way the Dominion would handke the Federation and Klingons.

Although I didn’t buy the Jem’hadar attacking the runabout. Surely the Founder would have ordered their soldiers to leave the runabout alone seeing as a Foinder was onboard.

So overall a kind of lukewarm 4/5 followed by a great final act which is kind of the mirror opposite from
improbable Cause
Sun, Jan 5, 2020, 9:49am (UTC -5)
Ahh, the beginning of this one where Bashir's trying and failing to have one of his Garak lunch dates with O'Brien... it's a sweet (and also hilarious) way of showing how much he misses the crafty old "tailor". Bashir needs his intellectual sparring *and* his simple fun.

As Jammer says, the torture scene is painful on even more levels than that of Chain of Command. Two lonely fish out of water with a desperate, conflicted need to return to their own "water", but knowing it can't be done without sacrificing the morality they've developed. For Odo, that's his confession. For Garak, that's the torture. It says a lot about Odo's strength of character that he understands this in Garak, even to the point of saving his life afterwards -- that the commonality they've discovered doesn't outweigh the absolute humiliation he's put him through. But I do love the cinematography of that final scene. Speaking to a blurred reflection in a mirror, not looking each other in the eye.

Breakfast with Odo, lunch with Bashir -- Garak's running out of meals in the day! Who's going to monopolise his dinnertimes? What about his chocolate-nibbling?
Gaius Maximus
Sat, May 2, 2020, 1:06am (UTC -5)
@Elliott - "Well knowing Odo, I would say they should probably put him in a holodeck where he has to watch Quark perform oral sex on Kira."

There's an image I didn't need in my head. If I'm ever tortured, I hope it's by someone less imaginative than you.
Sat, May 9, 2020, 12:03pm (UTC -5)
@Gaius Maximus

They should have put me in the Obsidian Order.
Wed, May 27, 2020, 5:57pm (UTC -5)
I never really liked the Eddington character, but to his credit (and expanding on what Elliot said), he immediately admitted his sabotage to his supeior officer because he felt it was the right thing to do (his future duplicity a season later notwithstanding), while Sisko couldn't muster up the same with *his* superior officer, instead cowardly "hanging up" on him.
Tue, Jun 9, 2020, 6:43pm (UTC -5)
Funny how we never heard about this "quantum stasis field generator" would have come in handy at many points during the Dominion War.

or in The Way Of The Warrior.

or in Homefornt/Paradise Lost.
Fri, Jun 26, 2020, 8:41pm (UTC -5)
"Mr. Garak, I would like it if we could have breakfast sometime."

"Why, Constable. I was under the impression that you didn't eat."

"... I don't."
Thu, Jul 2, 2020, 6:29pm (UTC -5)
I watched it again tonight and I noticed something that may have already been discussed. Does anyone else think it is odd that the admiral wasn't in red, but yellow?
Thu, Jul 9, 2020, 5:15am (UTC -5)
There's something enjoyable in the fact that, a few episodes later ("Family Business"), the replacement for the runabout they lose here (the Mekong) is named the Rubicon. The Caesar references don't stop in the two-parter.
Mon, Oct 12, 2020, 8:28am (UTC -5)
It's so crazy how technology changes as I find it funny watching this for the first time in 2020 and then seeing reviews on here from people all saying the pyrotechnics were amazing. I'm like what pyrotechnics? Then realized I guess you mean the space fight at the end which is hardly exciting in 2020! Good episode though but don't think Odo would actually be friends or forgive Garak for torturing him so that's super unrealistic.

What has disappointed me the most though is we end season two with this huge battle with the Dominion where they are this huge imminent threat, and then we are almost at the end of season 3 and they have barely been mentioned. We get the Defiant and also end season 2 like there's going to be a huge war coming through the wormhole in the next few episodes and then there's absolutely nothing people just keep traveling back and forth like there's no threat.

I was really looking forward to seeing a fight with the Dominion all season but actually forgot about it until this episode. I hope season 4 is more exciting than this one.
Wed, Oct 14, 2020, 7:02am (UTC -5)
William said: "There are some big-scale reasons which I will get to, but overall I also just find that in line-to-line dialogue it is weaker than the sparkling precedent set by part I."

Yes, this episode is fairly overrated. The dialogue spouted by Garak, Tain and Odo consists mostly of bromides and cliches ("You know, you and I are alike..."), and characters are constantly psycho-analyzing one another in a clunky, obvious manner.

The dialogue is also overly verbose in a bad way. Good Cardassian dialogue goes on and on, but it doesn't jump wildly from topic to topic. It's rambling but subtextually focused. Here, however, the dialogue grabs at too much, leading to even good Garak zingers ("Do you know what the sad part is, Odo? I'm a very good tailor") getting washed away by erroneous dialogue (a subsequent convo about Odo's eating habits).

Its attempts at imbuing innocuous dialogue with sinister undercurrents also lacks grace and nuance. It's like watching a hacky writer's attempt at good DS9 dialogue, which is odd as this one was written by a writer of some pedigree (Ronald Moore, though perhaps his muscular style of writing is ill-suited to the mischievous Garak, and Cardassians in general).

I thought the actors playing Tain and the Romulan commander, Lovok, were also pretty bad. Tain's actor can't quite pace his lines, and Lovok just looks cartoonishly ridiculous, which is a problem, as a third of the episode consists of them in rooms talking.

It's mostly the exciting final act which sells the episode, with its big fleets, the Defiant zipping about like the Millennium Falcon, and the Return of the Jedi-esque "It's a trap!" moment.

Still, I thought the structure of this episode was very clever. The episode's first part alludes to Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar", in which Brutus betrays Caesar and stabs him in the back. In this episode, meanwhile, you have a script structured around a series of betrayals, every major character stabbing the other in the back.

And so Sisko betrays the Admiral, Eddington betrays Sisko, Garak betrays the Cardassian Empire, Tain betrays Garak, Garak betrays Odo, Odo betrays the Changelings and the undercover Changelings betray the Romulans and the Cardassians. It's Brutus and Caesar all the way down.

Beyond this, I thought the Federation behaved horribly and this episode glosses over a major moral dilemma. The Federation knows the Romulans and Cardassians are going to commit a genocide, bombarding an entire planet with information garnered from Starfleet intelligence and given over to the Romulans. Knowing this, the Federation do nothing to alert the Dominion, an Empire which has not attacked the Romulans or the Cardassians and is not formally at war with either them or the Federation.

Look at this from the Dominion perspective: you tell the Federation to stay out of your space, they repeatedly enter your space with warships, you tell them not to reveal where your homeworld is, they give this info to the Romulans, and the Romulans - who several episodes prior see that the Federation has no intention of policing or shutting the wormhole - use this info to Pearl Harbor the Dominion. Why would the Dominion, from this point onwards, not conclude that the Alpha Quadrant solids are not all utter murderous thugs?

The episode glosses over how complicit Starfleet is in escalating this conflict. Picard would have taken the Defiant to defend that Changeling planet.

Also bizarre is the fact that the Romulan fleet broadcasts its intentions by decloaking at the wormhole mouth, and sending information packets to Cardassia and Romulus notifying everyone of their attack. Surely you'd want to be a bit more secretive? In Star Trek, subspace communication travels faster than warp 9. Your fleet is traveling at warp 6. Why risk the enemy knowing you're coming?

And why decloak the entire fleet prior to entering the wormhole? Is it impossible to have shields and cloaks working at the same time? Do you need shields when in the wormhole? Why wouldn't deflectors suffice? Don't we see cloaked Klingon vessels emerging from the wormhole in later episodes?

A good writer anticipates all these things and inserts little bits of dialogue to short-circuit such complaints. Your answer doesn't have to be fool-proof, but it should show an honest consideration of such problems.
Tue, Feb 23, 2021, 12:46pm (UTC -5)
I'm assuming the Jem'Hadar didn't know that Odo was on the runabout, because there's no way they'd kill a god.
Wed, Mar 3, 2021, 7:49am (UTC -5)
''Die is cast'' and ''Improbable '' is in my book the highlight of season 3. This is an Odo, Garak story and it's a great dynamic because both are probably the most astute/ paranoid characters on the show .

Basically the first part is Odo giving a quasi interrogation into Garak's mysterious background, and the second part is Garak showing us why he was a feared interrogator in a rather disturbing scene. Probably the secret agent theme of ST, Omarion Nebula battle removed.
David Staum
Sat, Oct 9, 2021, 10:59pm (UTC -5)
I didn't read the whole comment thread, only the first third or so, so maybe someone else already mentioned this. One viewpoint in the comments seems to be that Odo and Garak brought back useful information to the Federation and that's why Admiral Toddman went easy on Commander Sisko. Another view counters that they brought back nothing of value.

I would argue that Sisko's actions were actually detrimental. Toddman orders Sisko NOT to take the Defiant to the Gamma Quadrant. Unspoken is that the Federation doesn't want to involve itself at this point and make an explicit (rather than implicit) enemy of the Dominion. But there the Defiant was, firing on Jem Hadar ships during the big space battle over the Founders' empty planet. Those Jem Hadar ships will report to the Founders that a Federation ship was involved in the battle.

And Sisko gets off without even a slap on the wrist?

Great episode, otherwise.
Sun, Feb 20, 2022, 3:53pm (UTC -5)
I had forgotten the plot since the last time I watched it some years ago. The story intiself was not something that really moved you. In fact it was quite simple.

I agree with the predecessor that Sisko got away to easy. The last conversation with the admiral was poorly made.

Except from that, very enterteining theater, dialogues, twist in the plot and ending.
Tue, May 24, 2022, 10:01pm (UTC -5)
Maybe the best two parter in all Star Trek. I love the intrigue here, getting to see the secret organizations on full display. Watching Garaks character swing back and forth is great. He has come to accept, and maybe sort of appreciate, his life and friends on DS(, but to serve Cardassia again, that is what he really wants. Hearing Odo talk about how much he wants to be able to go home. Garak and Odo are kindred spirts, and they learn that here. They are both split from their people, they both very badly want to be with their own again, but they can't. They're the aliens on DS9, its a good place for them, but it isn't home.
Thu, Aug 25, 2022, 8:04am (UTC -5)
Although this was an eminently watchable and immensely enjoyable episode, I don't think it's four stars. Well, it is, in its own right, but not compared to the first part.

The intrigues and plot twists were amazing. Dodo--or, okay, ODO--did an especially phenomenal job with the interrogation scene. I think that was the standout moment of the ep.

My problem is that it all resolves into too comfortable a convenience or, perhaps, too convenient a comfort. People we never knew or care about get pulverized, while everyone else is back on D.S.9 like nothing ever happened.

I don't know what I would have liked instead but, I guess, it's something with a bit more far-reaching and permanent consequences.
Fri, Nov 18, 2022, 7:55am (UTC -5)
Great follow up to part 2. Re-watched it and this time around, I really appreciated the Garak-Odo interrogation more. It’s interesting how the first time around I’m more focused on the plot and it takes me a second watch to really grasp the character subtleties. And I love how when Lovok offers Odo a chance to rejoin the Great Link the shot is framed almost exactly like the end of the previous episode. Except of course Odo makes a different choice than Garak.

One other thing: for people watching this when it originally aired, the revelation of *150* Jem Hadar ships was probably a shock on two levels. First being the fact that the JH outnumbered Tain’s fleet 7 to 1. Second being that we had never seen a fleet that size depicted or even referenced on screen in Trek up to this point. Up till now the biggest fleet we’ve heard of were the 40 ships lost at Wolf 359, which was considered a devastating blow to Starfleet. So 150 ships was a BIG deal on multiple levels.
Tue, Jan 17, 2023, 4:47pm (UTC -5)
I loved so much about this episode, but the premise of the fleet attack does not make one lick of sense. Why would Tain advertise the plan on subspace to Cardassia BEFORE actually carrying it out? And why would nobody stop to think that there might be Changeling infiltrators around without doing any tests for them? Especially after what we witnessed on Earth in earlier seasons with Federation security and Changeling infiltration?

Obviously Tain's fleet was doomed. They spent forever building a fleet in the Orius system only to blab their plan to everybody before they entered the Gamma Quadrant.

Other than that, this episode was a masterpiece of dialogue, acting and action.
Tue, Jan 17, 2023, 4:54pm (UTC -5)

"Especially after what we witnessed on Earth in earlier seasons with Federation security and Changeling infiltration?"

Maybe I'm missing some thing but what are you referring to here? "Homefront" / "Paradise Lost" wasn't until S4.

But yes, for me, this 2-parter "Improbable Cause" / "The Die Is Cast" -- is DS9's best. Quintessential DS9 right here.
Peter G.
Tue, Jan 17, 2023, 5:14pm (UTC -5)
@ Robert,

I would say that Tain announcing his upcoming Triumph is probably relevant to his character flaws, one of which is that the attack had to be more than just a bold move for Cardassia, but had to be his crowning triumph. The great Tain coming out of retirement to retake his place high up in Cardassian affairs. And I think his actions prior to executing the final stage of the plan is also indicative of his megalomania. I understand needing to burn bridges and eliminate anyone whose knowledge could compromise the mission. That logic is sound, if brutal. But what possible reason could Tain have for also assassinating Garak at this time? Garak knew nothing of his plans nor was he connected to Cardassian military affairs in any way that could spoil the secret of the fleet buildup. Even Thomas Riker was ahead of Garak in that department. It seems to me Garak had to die because he knew things about Tain, not because he knew things about the mission. Tain wanted to be untouchable *after* the attack, and his argument about removing weaknesses to him could only be relevant to a new rise to power for him, maybe even to head of the Cardassian union. And in fact his attempt to kill Garak ended up causing both Odo and Garak to discover exactly the sorts of things Tain wanted to avoid discovery.

Giving full credit to the writers, and assuming the above isn't just a series of coincidentally convenient corollaries, it seems that Tain was prone to grandiosity and just wasn't capable of being as quiet and stealthy as Garak would have been in a similar situation. I think blabbing to Cardassia Prime was an example of his own ego at work, not unlike Dukat in other situations.

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