Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Heart of Stone"

2.5 stars

Air date: 2/6/1995
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by Alexander Singer

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"No Changeling has ever harmed another."
"There's always a first time."

— Female Changeling and Odo

Kira and Odo chase a Maquis criminal to an isolated planet where they track him on foot through rocky caves. Kira gets her foot stuck in a bizarre crystal that begins to envelop her entire body. Now Odo must free her before she faces a rather claustrophobic demise.

Set as a B-story is a lightweight but amiable yarn involving Nog trying to persuade Sisko to recommend him for Starfleet Academy. He says he doesn't want to end up like his father Rom, who has chased fortune his entire life with little success.

Forget the B-story; I won't mention it again. The focus here is another character drama from the pens of Behr and Wolfe. This one supplies some interesting moments but repaves familiar ground already well established this season and without exploring new aspects or taking any real risks.

Kira becomes trapped by the end of the first act. Using phasers instantly proves to be a bad idea as the crystal simply absorbs the energy blast and displays a sudden growth spurt. Odo's next attempt is to use a jerry-rigged device from the Runabout to create sound waves at a frequency that may break down the crystal. Naturally, these things take time, and as the computer analyses the composition of the rocky substance, Odo and Kira find they have little to do but talk.

Since "The Collaborator," we have suspected that Odo has some buried feelings for Kira. In "Fascination," the writers confirmed so, as it ends with a disappointed Odo pondering over his affections for Kira as she (presumably) walks away with Vedek Bareil. She hasn't the slightest clue how Odo feels about her. She considers him a close friend—nothing more. Then, last week, in what now seems to be part of a master plan to develop this whole thread, the writers wrote Bareil out of the show by killing him on the operating table. With "Heart of Stone," they waste no time to delve back into this storyline. The results are mixed—often interesting, but in the end (as I will explain in a moment) fairly meaningless.

On the upside, there's a memorable bit where Odo tells Kira the story about how he got his name. Derived from the Cardassian word "nothing," Odo, initially a misunderstood liquid, was destined to be forever known as nothing, even after everyone learned he was a sentient being. It really makes you feel for the guy, and it's nice to see how far the writers have evolved this character in the past two years.

This whole show, however, basically rides on the outcome resulting from one scene, which goes like this:

Kira: "I want you to get out of here."
Odo: "Don't you understand? I can't!"
Kira: "You have to. Odo, please!"
Odo: "No. I won't leave you."
Kira: "Why?"
Odo: "Because! Because—I'm in love with you."

This scene is wonderfully performed by Auberjonois, who does the job of convincing us that Odo has all of these bottled up emotions that begin exploding out of him. But when Kira returns with "I'm in love with you, too" the scene rings completely false, because from what we've been spoon-fed on this issue for the past five months, Kira considers Odo a close friend and nothing more. Simply put, life isn't that easy. This is not a storyline that is about instant happy endings. It's about unreturned feelings.

Fortunately, the script ultimately nullifies this line, because even Odo doesn't believe it. He suspects that this is not really Kira, because Kira would never lie to him, even in a situation like this. Odo is right, as False Kira morphs into her true self—the still nameless shapeshifter (Salome Jens) who tried to coax Odo into taking his "proper place" as a Founder in "The Search." In fact, the shapeshifter masqueraded as the Maquis terrorist, then kidnapped and stashed Kira away in hope of again luring Odo back to the "Great Link."

Okay, there are some problems here. For starters, this episode uses a twist ending that, once again, undermines the impact on the characters. While it's not a total cheat like in "Search II," it does end up putting us back where we started. Since, in reality, Odo said none of these things to Kira, the writers have allowed themselves to take back everything they proposed in the episode. If the intention here was to confirm all the suspicions we've had about Odo's feelings, it's little more than an exercise in redundancy. I got the point in "Fascination." And in the episode's finale, by having Odo not discuss with the real Kira about what he actually said to the shapeshifter, the writers take the easy way out, burying their heads in the sand while burying the topic without any semblance of closure.

Furthermore, I doubt that the nameless female shapeshifter would go to such lengths to sway Odo into returning to the Gamma Quadrant. It's hard enough to swallow that she could or would impersonate Kira with such alarming accuracy. But the fact that she steals a Maquis ship to get Odo and Kira to chase her to this isolated planet seems entirely contrived in retrospect.

"Heart of Stone" has some good dialogue and engaging moments. Unfortunately, the ungratifying end result takes us no further than where we've already been enough times this season.

Previous episode: Life Support
Next episode: Destiny

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114 comments on this post

Dirk Hartmann
Fri, Jun 6, 2008, 3:49am (UTC -6)
I feel cheated. Shape shifters are known to have problems getting the basic human face "right", but here the founder conveniently is capable of mimicking Kira down to every detail ...
Sun, Jul 6, 2008, 1:07pm (UTC -6)
I disagree.

1. What's up with some reviewers who are always whining about plots that are using this method? I think it's a good way to explore some thing, make an impact on one or more of the characters but leaving the others alone, saving them for later. It's not cheating, just smart writing. Why so negative?
2. You complain about Odo not telling Kira about his feelings, to get closer to her, yet in "His Way" you complain exactly about that. So, do you want the together or not? -- Oh, and by the way, the writers knew that they'll have Odo return to his people at the end, so he has to leave something very dear to him behind (they didn't know the title yet, interesting coincidence :)) and what would be better, than his beloved Kira.
3. The changelings (the Founders at least) care a great deal about each other, so it makes sense to try and bring him back. She tries some other things later too.
4. Why is it hard to believe that she'd steal a Maquis ship? She knows Odo very well because she linked with him and knew how he and Kira would react.
5. Again, what's your problem with her portraying Kira so well? I think she got some knowledge from the link and I wouldn't be surprised if she gathered some intel about the too using spies. So, it's not hard to imagine she could parade around as Kira for a short while. And she didn't have to know a lot about her either.
6. She is a founder, a very experienced changeling, so it's no surprise she was able to mimic a humanoid face so well. As we see in later episodes, many changelings are quite good at it. :) Our Odo is just a young kid compared to them.
7. Why are you dismissing the Nog storyline? I think it was good too.

And one more thing, I think Nana Visitor gave a great performance too, not just Rene. ;) It's sad to see you don't mention her often enough. :( You didn't even write about her singing the song Fever. I love that song from Nana. No wonder she was very succesful on the Broadway too.

I'm sorry if my English isn't perfect, I'm from Hungary (it's a lot easier translating from English than actually trying to make sense using this language :)), so it's not my mother tongue.
Sun, Jul 6, 2008, 1:15pm (UTC -6)
Oh, and one more thing. Why didn't Odo tell Kira, again, what he felt/said to the other Kira? It's not that hard to figure it out, he was embarassed and shy, didn't want to go through it again. When it comes to his feelings, he isn't the brave, fearless man, he usually is. Simply put, it makes more sense for him to stay silent about it, it wouldn't be him to pour his soul out to Kira, at least not yet. :)
admirable chrichton
Mon, Feb 23, 2009, 5:40pm (UTC -6)
The scene where Odo tells Kira what his name means, and how his friendship with her allowed him to overcome it, is a beautiful and heartbreaking scene and really highlights how good an actor Rene Aubergonis is.
Mon, Jun 29, 2009, 9:24pm (UTC -6)
I liked it, and found the Founder's reasons credible, even compelling. I thought it was a clever way to keep the Odo/Kira tension building without breaking it completely open.

I also think the Nog B-story deserves a larger mention as the start of one of the most important and transformative character arcs of the entire show.
Thu, Oct 8, 2009, 2:21pm (UTC -6)
I can certainly accept that the female changeling is better at mimicking humaniods than Odo is. But I still think going through all this trouble to get Odo back is a stretch. And what was her plan? How did she thik that masquerading Kira would convince Odo to return to the Great Link? Or was she going to take him by force? It makes no sense. But what really undermines this episode is the hideous-looking rock prop.
However, Nog's story was very touching. It was the first time I actually cared for a Ferengi character. I have heard that this is Aaron Eisenberg favorite episode.
Thu, Dec 24, 2009, 11:05pm (UTC -6)
Nog's story was wonderful, simply put. Sisko did a fantastic job of giving him every chance to screw it up. Nog surprised him by being committed, and *good enough* to go on to Starfleet Academy. DH and I thought Nog's monologue about his reasons for wanting to be a Starfleet officer both compelling, a wonderfu outgrowth of his experiences with his father and uncle, AND an example of fine acting.

Back to the main plot, I think the writers left plenty of clues this wasn't Kira. I said to hubby, "that's not Kira" when I heard her whining about being trapped over the communicators. And the female shapeshifter, not knowing Kira as well as we do, made her a bit too whiny and less abrasive than we are used to from her.

What is significant was how long it took Odo to figure it out. In a way, this was a wish-fulfillment opportunity for Odo. He got to be Kira's White Knight for a short time, until he realized it was all a lie.

While there is no growth for Kira from this ep, Odo still will recall this experience and his character will be informed by it going forward.

I feel for his dilemma. The truth was finally wrenched out of him...and nothing comes of it. He is still waiting and hoping for her to notice him as a man. It's good stuff.
Wed, Jun 9, 2010, 4:42am (UTC -6)
I'm going to disagree with many of the things written on this page.

There is one reason why I watch this episode: The Nog storyline which culminates by him shouting: "Because I don't want to end up like my father." Nog steals the entire episode right there. I think this is an episode where the B story overshadows the A story. I have to say that you dismissed the B story far too easily and quickly.

As for the Kira/Odo storyline, there are far better stories involving the two of them.

In my opinion, this would be an episode that I just skip over, kind of like "Without Sin," except for the Nog storyline. I have to say that storyline is what saves this episode.
Sun, Mar 6, 2011, 10:41pm (UTC -6)
"the writers have allowed themselves to take back everything they proposed in the episode."

Not true. They revealed Odo's true feelings for Kira, they can't take that back. Sure, they take back the 'I love you too' from Kira, but then, well that never was Kira, and that's kind of the point of the episode. That the Founder wanted to probe Odo's reasons for not joining the Link, and she thought it was due solely to Kira.

At the end of the episode, the writers have Odo admit to us, as well as to himself, his true feelings for Kira, and that may color/influence his future actions.
"I got the point in "Fascination.""

How? Did you also get the point that Bareil loves Dax, or that Jake loves Kira? Inclinations of love (revealed in Fascination) are not the same as full blooded feelings.

"having Odo not discuss with the real Kira about what he actually said to the shapeshifter, the writers take the easy way out, burying their heads in the sand while burying the topic without any semblance of closure."

That's the point. There is no closure, for us or for Odo, its unresolved on purpose because Odo has yet to resolve it. As someone else pointed out, it makes sense for Odo, a very private person, to not reveal what he said in a moment of unrestrained honesty that he now feels embarassed about. It is a continuing story line/plot device, that will likely crop up again in the future, as Odo struggles with this internal dilemma of unrequited love.

"I doubt that the nameless female shapeshifter would go to such lengths to sway Odo into returning to the Gamma Quadrant."

Why? She's their leader. They are all 'one' in the great link. He is a lost child to ehr, and for all we know their society places great emphasis on togetherness, completeness, wholeness, what have you. No changeling has ever harmed another... their bond is THAT strong, to overcome all personal feelings/greivances to put their collective above all else. Odo may be hugely important to the Changeling society.

I can agree with some parts of most of your reviews, but I think you were unduly critical of this particular episode, especially given the reasons you've outlined.
Captain Tripps
Sat, Sep 17, 2011, 4:29pm (UTC -6)
It's season 3, of course they don't want closure in this relationship. There really couldn't be any at this point anyway, for much the same reasons as made Odo suspicious (and you yourself mentioned). That's not how Kira would have reacted. weird to gripe over something you acknowledge can't come to fruition yet.
Fri, Oct 21, 2011, 4:40pm (UTC -6)
Why would I want to forget the B-story when it's about tenfold better than the A?
Fri, Oct 21, 2011, 4:41pm (UTC -6)
And why, considering what his name means, would the Founders continue to call him "Odo"?
Nebula Nox
Fri, Mar 30, 2012, 1:27pm (UTC -6)
It is easy to dismiss the Ferengi. Many in Star Trek treat them with contempt, and too many viewers do, too.

Perhaps Aron Eisenberg wasn't the greatest actor (he improved tremendously over time) but this is a key turning point in an incredible character arc. I only wish that the writers had been bold enough to make Jake Sisko the "heir" to Quark's bar. He comes from a family of restaurant owners, and a bar is not so far from that. I always thought it would have suited his personality, which was more relaxed. Hoever, perhaps it would not have been dignified enough for the son of the emissary/commander of the station.

As for Odo's confession, it was important. It may have been the first time for him to admit it to himself.
Cail Corishev
Sat, Sep 15, 2012, 2:00pm (UTC -6)
I don't have a problem with the Founder going to absurd lengths to lure Odo back. We learn later in the series that the completeness of the Link is so important to them that they would sacrifice the entire Alpha Quadrant to bring him home. This little scheme pales next to that.

I understand the disappointment over the reset, but it all makes sense, so I don't consider it a cheat. Odo just went through the torture of revealing himself once; he's hardly going to want to repeat the process. Besides, hearing her return his feelings -- and recognizing it as a lie -- may have reminded him that she wasn't ready to hear it. She just watched her lover die, after all. He knows that telling her at this point is going to make her uncomfortable and possibly spoil any future chance they have together. It's one thing to spill his guts when it looks like she might die and it's his last chance, but quite another to do so once they're safe.

Nog's outburst is excellent. After watching the later seasons, it's easy to forget that, at this point, Rom is little more than a toady who gets slapped around regularly by his brother and gets back at him through petty theft. A hard role model for a boy to grow up with, to say the least. When he finally shouts out his reason, it rings completely true.
Fri, Dec 14, 2012, 4:52pm (UTC -6)
I agree with the sentiment that Nog's story was very important. I'm surprised the reviewer dismissed it. It was a key turning point for Nog but it also highlighted Sisko's character as a powerful commander but also a humanistic one. Here, Sisko feels touched by Nog's ambition and is willing to take a chance against his reputation for recommending him to Starfleet. This is why the writers of this series took pride in writing for him and why this show is the most critically acclaimed show of the franchise
Wed, Jan 30, 2013, 1:22pm (UTC -6)
I have to wholeheartedly disagree with Jammer. Both the A and B storylines in "Heart of Stone" are well-done.

*Storyline A - Kira & Odo*
You have to remember that, up to this point, the viewer has only seen the Founders once (in 'The Search II'). The viewer has also not yet watched the Kira/Odo saga unfold, so naturally, those more poignant episodes will later take precedence over "Heart of Stone." My sense is that most "critics" of this episode are judging it retrospectively after having seen the entire saga unfold. Let me further explain.

The original intent of this episode, back in 1995, was to give the Female Changling another level of creepiness. It continues to emphasize the Dominion's ability to infiltrate and manipulate the mental psyche of our DS9 heroes (much like in 'The Search II') -- this gives the Dominion yet another tactical advantage BEYOND their immense firepower.

Similarly, up to this point, we've seen strong hints about Odo having feelings for Kira. But he's never *poured* out his emotions like he did in these caves. Credit must be given to Rene Auberjonois; his delivery of "Odo Ital" and professing his love for Kira while slowly falling to the ground was extremely moving.

Critics of this episode tend to also forget that Odo is still at the beginning stages of his self-discovering journey; he is deeply exploring emotions about romance (presumably for the first time), and to have them clash with his newly discovered familial Changling roots must be extremely disheartening (no pun intended).

*Storyline B - Nog*
I hadn't seen "Heart of Stone" in at least a decade. However, after rewatching it last night, it was plesant to rediscover that this episode marks the beginning to Nog's own journey into Starfleet.

The comment from "Sam" above was also poignant; the Nog story was to also show that Sisko is open-minded about structure beyond Starfleet guidelines. Frankly, such an attribute is admirable in any leader - e.g. a company C.E.O. or a parent in a household. Without this open-mindedness, Nog's character growth would have been stunted.

On a side note, my girlfriend (who's seeing DS9 for the first time) mentioned how crazy it is to be observe Jake and Nog's characters both grow up -- not only physically but also emotionally. It's nice to see this type of character development take shape in DS9, even with its "ancillary" characters.

My rating: 3.5 out of 4
Wed, Jan 30, 2013, 4:52pm (UTC -6)
Now that this site has a mixture of retrospective and contemporary reviews, some notation of original publication date would be useful. For instance, at the time Jammer wrote this review, it wasn't clear that Nog's arc would become so important to the series. At least, I didn't pick up on it. I thought the Nog business was a distraction from the drama with the main cast (although Sisko's character is revealed somewhat). Now, I can see how both plots, with characters pushed into baring their souls, fit together.
Mon, May 27, 2013, 8:08pm (UTC -6)
This was a masterpiece of an episode. The Nog storyline was hugely powerful. Notice he rejects profit in favour for the federation, essentially rejecting capitalism for the Federation's post capitalist ethos of service and sacrifice. It's a rejection of the ego and self itself.

And Odo's tale about him being "nothing" was hugely touching.
Tue, Oct 22, 2013, 6:52pm (UTC -6)
The main story was "meh", but it had some good and important development for Nog.

Wed, Nov 6, 2013, 2:43pm (UTC -6)
The B-story is an important one, as we see, it has ongoing reprecussions. However, it does seem to come out of nowhere, we are given little, if anything to think that Nog might want something other than a typical Ferengi way of life. It also marks the beginning of Rom being more of a significant character. I would go as far as to say that the B-story is the real A-story.

The A-story is OK, Odo admitting his feelings about Kira is important. I did roll my eyes when the fake Kira said that she loved him too, but that's understandable. Bariel had just died, and it wouldn't make sense for Kira to share Odo's feelings. But it made sense when we found out this really wasn't Kira after all. The fake Kira made a mistake, and Odo caught it. I thought she was a little too cheerful when her foot was first stuck, that also can be explained by it not being the real Kira.
Sat, Feb 1, 2014, 5:06am (UTC -6)
As far as I'm concerned, the B-story is that ridiculous Kira - Odo mishap with the ludicrous Dominion plot (as if the Dominion leader would go herself to retrieve Odo, spend so much time, and for what reason we still don't know).

The real story is Nog.
Probably because as humans we ARE unable to empathize and get along with cultures that have values that are REALLY different from our own. (It is telling that everybody thinks "character development" for Nog is him renouncing the Ferengi culture for more human values (do what you're good at, not swear by profit, etc.)).

But oh well, Star Trek is a human TV show, and I'm a human viewer so I guess there's no way out of it. The scene about Nog's motives to join Star Fleet is very powerful, touching and made me genuinely sorry for Nog.

It is horrible for a child to realize their parents aren't role-models and then admit they want to do better. But it was done in a very realistic way - Nog never says his father is an idiot - he still sticks up for him by finding reasons why his father is a loser in the Ferengi culture. And that's only possible because Nog was lucky to be exposed to other cultures, which allow him to have a different frame of reference and a different analysis of his father's lack of success: It's not his father's fault, it's the Ferengi absolute obsession with business, whether or not you "have the lobes" for it.

In that I guess it really is character development, and I felt satisfied that the acme of the episode was Sisko accepting to recommend him - I was afraid that by the end of the episode Nog would somehow change his mind in a typical Star-Trek-Reset-Button plot...
Thu, Feb 20, 2014, 12:55pm (UTC -6)
To accept at face value (pun intended) that changelings can mimic a person to such painstaking detail just by viewing them stretches reality already. But that they can also do their voice perfectly strains just throws everything out the window. Everyone's voice is could a changeling so perfectly recreate precise vocal chords and larynx "schematics" that exactly...they can't insta-x-ray someone.
Fri, Feb 21, 2014, 5:17pm (UTC -6)
The b-plot is worth the price of admission alone and should've been its own episode. Nevertheless the overall story is well executed. I didn't feel cheated in the slightest and the motives of the Founder makes sense to me.

3 stars.
Sat, Feb 22, 2014, 10:38pm (UTC -6)
Jammer - I think you need to re-write this review. The fact that just dismissed a rather IMPORTANT character transition for Nog was an embarrassment. Think it through. After finishing the entire series you can't honestly say that you feel the same way about this episode now as you did on your 1st viewing. I know you're not a big Ferengi fan but come on.
Sun, Feb 23, 2014, 7:18am (UTC -6)
@ Alex.

To me this is a powerful episode as well, but I think we're privy to a kind of hindsight that Jammer didn't have when first watching this episode.
Paul M.
Sun, Feb 23, 2014, 5:09pm (UTC -6)
@Alex and Corey

This whole thing with Nog in Starfleet, while paying dividends later on, was just infuriating when I first watched it. Here's a guy who didn't know how to read and write just two years ago! Are we to believe that he managed to catch up on all those countless years of education he missed in such a short time frame? And then he got into the prestigious Starfleet Academy, you know the one where geniuses like Wesley and Picard had failed their entrance exams when they first applied.

For my teen self 15 or more years ago, that was just too much to swallow. These obviously brilliant minds (hey! Wesley IS brilliant! Honest!) weren't good enough; such was the caliber of Starfleet cadets, little me thought, when suddenly this quasi-moron comes along and just waltzes around San Francisco!

What? :) It bothered me something fierce in that tender age.
Mon, Feb 24, 2014, 8:08am (UTC -6)
@Paul M
Must be that pesky affirmative action again ;)
Tue, Jun 3, 2014, 12:37pm (UTC -6)
I'm surprised you dismissed the B-story so quickly. Nog breaking down and admitting to Sisko he's ashamed of his father is the best scene in the whole episode (and frankly, when I first saw the show I couldn't think of anything Nog could say to get Sisko's recommendation, until he came up with that).
Thu, Jun 12, 2014, 3:31am (UTC -6)
I don't understand why people like nog joining starfleet or rom becoming an engineer. It is established in earlier episodes that rom is an idiot and not just by quark. Odo and moogie say it as well. Roms mom says he doesn't have the lobes for
Business but is made the grand negus. Nog says he also isn't a smart ferengi and good at making profit. But then in the later seasons they make him a good ferengi when it comes to profit and acquiring items. It was bad enough that they made the ferengi simply comedic after the first season of stng. Then in ds9 they make every ferengi but quark turn away from their society and become human basically. I'm in the minority though. Most people love what the writers did and really feel for the new versions of rom and nog even though it came out of nowhere
Thu, Jun 12, 2014, 9:25am (UTC -6)
"I don't understand why people like nog joining starfleet or rom becoming an engineer. It is established in earlier episodes that rom is an idiot and not just by quark. Odo and moogie say it as well. Roms mom says he doesn't have the lobes for business but is made the grand negus."

However implausible it is, Rom is a raging liberal by Ferengi standards and Moogie turned Ferenginar into a liberal paradise that needed someone like Rom.

"Nog says he also isn't a smart ferengi and good at making profit. But then in the later seasons they make him a good ferengi when it comes to profit and acquiring items. "

Nog doesn't have the lobes for business. Future episodes that show him being good at trading just show him being better at it than Chief O'Brien. And being better at business than a 1960s lounge singer. Ok, so the kid that grew up in Ferengi culture can barter and do math. Does that really bother you? Quark considers himself a failure compared to Gaila and it seems Nog is even worse than that.

You're just taking all this to the extremes. It's MUCH more logically consistent than you give it credit for.

People often consider mechanics dumb. There's a tendency to look down on people who aren't as quick in the head but are great with their hands. That's Rom. He's like a space MacGyver. He even fixes the replicators with pots and pans. It's supposed to be played for laughs, but I never got the impression he was actually dumb (except MAYBE early S1), but I could see other Ferengi calling him that if he's horrible at business. That's what THEY value, and Rom is bad at it.

They never go back on it. Nog's speech in this episode confirms that his father is an awful Ferengi. But he's a good engineer.
Sat, Jun 14, 2014, 11:18pm (UTC -6)
I thought the B story was great but I agree with the above comments that Nog never would have gotten into Star Fleet Academy. A certified genius like Wesley Crusher was rejected when he first applied (okay, that was a really stupid plot on TNG), but there's no way Nog could pass the entrance exam.

I could not suspend my disbelief with the A story. In then end Kira acting out of character made sense, but there was so much that didn't. Especially: when Odo couldn't send a communication from the moon, why didn't he simply take the shuttle craft away from the interference, contact DS9, and return. It would have taken about 20 minutes.
Thu, Jul 17, 2014, 1:46pm (UTC -6)
Sorry Jammer, I just love this episode.

Sure the founders are better at shape-shifting that Odo, that's an easy one. We see it later in the series too. What's funny is that they choose to shape shift to appear like Odo many many times. Why?

Rene' and Nana play off each other wonderfully. I can't imagine playing Kira's part in this one. I think I read somewhere where it was a painful task.

The writers don't get away with anything. Odo reveals to himself, finally, that he loves Kira. That's HUGE!

The "B" story is just as good as the main plot. Nog wanting to join Star Fleet is very interesting and when he finally breaks down and gives his reasons why it very emotional. Well played by Aaron.

@ Paul M. - Wesley is white. He has to meet the standards. I'm sure Star Fleet has special programs with different standards that promote diversity. ;)

Both stories well written and delivered.

This is an easy 4 stars for me.
Wed, Feb 11, 2015, 6:31am (UTC -6)
Hi Yanks, I think the reason Wesley Crusher had to go through great lengths to get into Starfleet was he was so young. (my opinion) He was only 16 years old. Nog, was no dummy, he had a year to bring his grades up and some other skills needed to get in. At least this is what I always thought. Now my take on the female changeing, I felt this was not Kira the first time I saw this episode. She seemed to overplay Kira, she laughed to much, she played a little too needy. I had started to like Kira a lot better by the time I saw this episode, she remained a strong female character, and she had stopped being b@@@@chy.
Mon, Feb 16, 2015, 8:48pm (UTC -6)
I liked the b story better. I got a little misty-eyed when Nog was explaining why he didn't want to be like his father.
Brian S.
Wed, Feb 18, 2015, 1:49pm (UTC -6)
@Paul M:"Here's a guy who didn't know how to read and write just two years ago! Are we to believe that he managed to catch up on all those countless years of education he missed in such a short time frame?"

I never bought the whole didn't know how to read bit. Ferengi culture is backwards in many ways, but for a society that is so obsessive about business and profit, you'd think a teenage Ferengi male would be literate enough to read & write financial statements, a business plan, a standard contract, etc.

I think it would fit much better that Nog couldn't read English, and that--for whatever reason--Starfleet and Keiko's school didn't translate too many things into Ferengi. Or perhaps that Nog can read well enough for being an employee at his job. Rom did say early in Season 1 that they are given work-study positions. I'm surprised that he wouldn't be able to read well enough to read a business contract. But even reading a menu or a Ferengi financial statement is different from reading a novel or writing an essay. He probably isn't totally illiterate, but rather just very far behind compared to where Jake is. For someone as old as Nog (probably 18-20 years old) only being able to read at a 1st grade level is virtually illiterate.

Nog is very qualified in many other ways. He's a hard worker and seemingly a good engineer. The ability to read Moby Dick and the ability to repair a plasma conduit or understand warp drive mechanics are not the same.

Besides, if you already know how to speak a language, and you already know what all the words mean, simply learning how to read written words isn't all that difficult.
Thu, Jun 25, 2015, 9:06am (UTC -6)
I've got to go along with all of those saying this is a good episode because of the excellent "B" story. I could have done without the whole "let's trick Odo" bit, but the major story arc involving Nog becoming a Star Fleet officer started here and that makes this episode worthwhile.
William B
Mon, Sep 14, 2015, 11:06am (UTC -6)
I think "Heart of Stone" is a little underrated -- it's quiet, talky, and despite its low-key tone contains two plots which involve significant breakthroughs for the respective central characters. Its big weakness in both plots, besides the relatively relaxed pace (which I don't consider a big problem), is that, to very different degrees, both rely on a character development that is a little bit discrete and forced, rather than continuous and believable -- even if ultimately both plots' character impacts are for the good. The episode is particularly damaged by its placement: the A- and B-plots of this episode are particularly jarring coming after the respective plots in "Life Support."

The Odo/Kira plot opens with a few brief scenes with the real Kira, beginning with Odo expressing annoyance that Kira spoke for him when declining a dinner invitation. Kira takes Odo's desire to stay out of certain humanoid customs for granted, especially those customs she has no interest in, and I think this annoys Odo both because he is acutely aware of how much Kira does *not* realize about Odo's true feelings, and because he dislikes the implication that Kira gets to decide for him what his involvement in others' lives are. It also positions Kira as the gatekeeper, between Odo and the humanoid world, and it annoys Odo that she happened to close that particular door, even if it is not one that he wanted to walk through. Soon Kira is endangered with an odd crystal, and the rest of the episode is a slow but steady progression as Kira's life is more and more in danger and Odo opens up more and more. The plot has echoes of "The Forsaken," except that Kira is not the prying stranger forcing entry into Odo's secrets but the steady friend who was been with Odo for years, causing Odo's defenses to fall away as her life fades away. Odo's cucumber-cool dissolves as Kira's death becomes more and more a certainty, and he confesses what he's been trying so hard to hide: that he loves her. His story is of how he went from being Nothing to being Odo, someone, because of her -- finding meaning in the inhospitable alien world of humanoids through friendship and love.

The have-cake-and-eat-it-too ending, wherein it was the Founder Leader all along as Kira, is actually mostly satisfying to me. Her interpretation is that Odo is with the humanoids rather than with her band of evil conquerers because of Kira, and Odo's having fallen into her...trap?...most of the way underscores some of the emotional dynamics of the Founder Leader/Odo/Kira triangle. Odo's cool, rational mind leads him to see the flaws in the Founder Leader's deception, eventually, but at first the emotional devastation of Kira dying before him makes him unable to think clearly, and it's only with the emotionally painful realization that *Kira does not love him* that he is able to return to his coolheaded self. It is tragic and moving that Odo's love for Kira is what allows him to be manipulated, but his knowledge that that love is unrequited is what sends him back. And while he was deceived by her, he revealed the loneliness of life among the solids to her more fully.

There are some downsides though. For one, I think that the episode somewhat unwisely puts too much stock in the love declaration as a climactic emotional moment. First of all because we already had Lwaxana telling the audience (and Odo not denying it) a few episodes previous to this one. So it's not news in and of itself. I like the idea that this is Odo first *admitting* to these feelings not just to Kira but to himself, which would give this episode a particular reason to exist for Odos character development, and there are hints of that -- at least, that Odo manages to say it out loud is movement. But I get the impression that Odo knows, with certainty, that he loves Kira, and that Kira's death leads Odo to get desperate enough to tell Kira, rather than for his own reaction to her peril to be what he needs to realize himself that he loves her. As a result, it's still a bit unclear what has changed between now and mid-s2, where Odo had strong feelings for Kira but I don't think *he* interpreted them as (romantic) love at all. There is a suddenness with which season three keeps pushing the Odo-loves-Kira card. The first time in which Auberjonois played Odo as very clearly romantically interested/jealous was in "The Collaborator," and so maybe we are supposed to see Bareil's entry as sparking the jealousy that lets Odo know his feelings, etc., but it's all a bit unclear. I actually might prefer that it's Odo's recognition that he doesn't want to leave Kira behind in "The Search" that made his feelings clear to him, if not, you know, the situation in this episode. That this episode is IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING Bareil's death does lend credence to the idea that Bareil was killed off purely to make way for Odo/Kira, which I gather was not the case but nevertheless gives the episode a somewhat tacky, inappropriate feel. Surely even if not-Kira didn't bring up Bareil, Odo should have? The question of how the Female Shapeshifter could do such a good job of portraying Kira that Odo found her psychologically convincing, and then to throw that unconvincing I LOVE YOU TOO at the end, also hangs in the air.

Nog's reason for joining Starfleet makes sense. And there is some genuine character set up for it. Nog's friendship with Jake has always shown him somewhat attracted to human values. In both "The Nagus" and "The Jem'Hadar" we were shown evidence of Nog being torn between a human-style education and the restrictions placed on him by family -- in "The Nagus" it was his job and his (apparently) having been kept illiterate that hurt him, in "The Jem'Hadar" he seemed to be genuinely enjoying his planetary survey with Jake and hurt and frustrated that Quark was continuing to cause trouble for him. Both of these depict a boy who likes much of Jake's world but feels constrained by his background and family. The additional element this episode adds and clarifies, that Nog has seen how his father has been beaten down by a philosophy of living ill-suited to him, is logical as well, though "mechanical genius" is a bit of a leap for describing Rom right now, as much as it comes do define him more and more as the series goes on. Part of what the series is doing here is the recognition that some cultures are particularly stifling for some individuals, and that those individuals are the ones who need most badly to escape -- but the plurality of cultural options open makes that possible. Nog is currently trapped, but because of Sisko he doesn't have to be.

That said, this is the episode after Nog railed against Jake for letting females talk on a date. Nog's rejection of Ferengi values and embracing Starfleet as a way of life is sudden and runs counter to his Ferengi-over-hewmons attitude in the very last episode. And, well, it does seem as if it's going to be pretty damn hard for Nog to enter the Academy when he was *illiterate* two years ago. Ben got Jake to spend months training with O'Brien; could he not suggesting something similar for Nog so that Nog really knows what kind of life he is in for, even if Nog ultimately chooses to reject it? At what point did the idea come to Nog that Starfleet was the answer? What has changed? Part of what does work about the plotline is that, because Nog is a secondary character, the story plays out primarily in Sisko's point of view, and involves Sisko trying to weigh what Nog claims to want against what Sisko knows about him. And this makes Nog's offscreen transformation play out interestingly. Teens do have fairly rapid identity shifts, and Sisko not being sure whether this is some sort of game or joke, or scheme, or whim, but trying to keep an open mind, is mostly a pleasure to see.

Anyway it's an important episode for furthering some of the subplots and is at times quite moving, but it's held back by the suddenness of much of the character development. I agree with 2.5 stars.
William B
Mon, Sep 14, 2015, 11:07am (UTC -6)
Oh right, I forgot to add: I like how the "no changeling has ever harmed another" hardline stance is brought up again so carefully to set up for, you know.
William B
Tue, Sep 15, 2015, 9:43pm (UTC -6)
Oh right, the Academy thing came up because Nog had reached Ferengi adulthood -- and that put the pressure on him. I don't know why these things slip my mind.

Thinking about it, I did enjoy this episode quite a bit, though I still have the above problems. I'm going up to 3.
Thu, Sep 17, 2015, 8:20pm (UTC -6)
Nic in 2009: "And what was her plan? How did she thik that masquerading Kira would convince Odo to return to the Great Link?"

The plan, according to one line of dialogue, was to make Odo think Kira *died*, thus severing his emotional attachment to the solids. Easy to understand why you'd miss it. First, she doesn't kill Kira when she has the chance; an actual dead Kira would certainly be more persuasive than a fake one. But second, she doesn't fake Kira's death when she has the chance. She waits for an hour after "I love you too," giving Odo time to expose the ruse.

Also, it's incredibly convenient that Kira (the real one) suggests they split up to search the cave. If they had stuck together, or if they'd found the stasis capsule first, the plan, such as it is, would've been ruined.
Sun, Nov 8, 2015, 9:08pm (UTC -6)
Thus episode felt like it was written by a 12 year old.
Diamond Dave
Thu, Nov 26, 2015, 1:08pm (UTC -6)
The basic A-story seemed almost like a TOS idea - trapped in an expanding crystal! - but clearly in retrospect it is just a contrivance to get the Odo/Kira story moving. For me it doesn't really work, even without the surprise twist at the end (which was a decent one), and especially with the reset button push.

The Nog story line works far better, and has a minor character ever played a scene better than when he finally reveals to Sisko why he wants to join Starfleet? Marvelous stuff. When Rom stands up to Quark at the end it puts the cap on a nicely played story that trumps the A-story. 2.5 stars.
Mon, Feb 15, 2016, 2:35pm (UTC -6)
Why do the Founders choose to mimic Dr. Mora's hair style?
Wed, Feb 17, 2016, 12:10am (UTC -6)

I don't think this an error.

I think they are mimicking Odo's hair rather than Dr. Mora's. In 'The Search' I think they were trying to look similar to Odo to make him feel at ease and by default mimicked Mora.
Wed, Mar 16, 2016, 7:12pm (UTC -6)
JAMMER: "Forget the B-story; I won't mention it again."

In the name of God, why? The B-plot to this episode is one of the highlights of the series and makes "Heart of Stone" easily one of my favorites from the first three seasons (and probably my favorite of Season Three). What could have ended up being little more than just another attempt at cheap laughs instead becomes the turning point in one of the most impressive and satisfying arc stories "Deep Space Nine" ever offered. Having Nog decide to join Starfleet was a brilliant idea, especially after the decision to have Jake not do so (which was still the correct way to go). And Aron Eisenberg got the chance to really show off his acting chops this time. The scene where Sisko forces him to break down and admit the real reason he wants to join Starfleet is very moving. Rom, while a likeable character, is indeed pretty pitiable and to have Nog say that he absolutely does not want to follow in his footsteps while still defending him (because he does love him) and his engineering gifts is really touching.

As for the A-plot with Odo and Kira, it's also really enjoyable. Rene Auberjonois once again delivers a powerhouse performance when he admits his feelings for Kira. When he stumbles over and can barely stand up straight after admitting the truth, Auberjonis really sells the emotion. It's also a wonderful example of the story-telling technique of "put two people in a room and have them just talk hoping something interesting will happen." This worked wonders for TNG: "Chain of Command, Part II" and is one of the main reasons why "Waltz" is one of my favorite episodes of DS9. Sure, ultimately it might not mean much due to the twist at the end, but it does allow Odo and his internal conflicts to take center stage. And we find out that Odo is really beginning to soften due to his exposure to life on the station - he goes kayaking with O'Brien, reads detective stories, etc. It's nice to hear about Odo doing all these things, even if we don't actually see him doing them.

JAMMER: "I doubt that the nameless female shapeshifter would go to such lengths to sway Odo into returning to the Gamma Quadrant."

It makes perfect sense to me. The Founders have already by this point shown that they are extremely interested in getting Odo to return; that the life of just one Changeling means more to them than anything else. Just look at what they did in "The Search, Part II". Up until that point they had deliberately created the fictions that the Founders were mythical and that Changelings didn't exist. And yet, very shortly after the events of that episode, it was common knowledge that the Founders were real and that they were shape-shifters. They were willing to toss away literally centuries worth of carefully laid Dominion security just so Odo wouldn't have to be harmed. Later, during the Dominion Occupation in Season Six, the Female Changeling will flat out tell Weyoun that Odo's return to the Great Link means more to the Founders than does the entire Alpha Quadrant. Having her go to the lengths she does here doesn't really seem all that out of character.

Thu, Mar 17, 2016, 9:49am (UTC -6)

I agree with you, and I think Jammer really hates Ferengi shows. Upon first viewing, I didn't like the Ferengi shows either, perhaps because I was young and wholeheartedly accepted Picard/Riker's take on them from early TNG.

However, if you want to talk about some real progress and moral character development, the Ferengi are DS9's shining stars. Any of them, all of them. Except Brunt, I guess, but he's a villain.
Wed, Apr 20, 2016, 8:28am (UTC -6)
I do love how they completely retcon Rom's character from a down and out idiot to a game changing genius.

As for Nog - the idea of him joining or succeeding in Starfleet is a joke. It was only done to keep Nog's actor on the show.

It's a decent episode if you ignore the shoe-horned nature of the Nog story.
Tue, May 17, 2016, 1:15pm (UTC -6)
@Luke, very good analysis. I don't know why Jammer dismissed Nog's entrance into SFA.

The strange thing about Nog actually getting into SFA relatively easily, and Wesley having a much harder time of it, does seem out of balance. Yet these sorts of things happen in today's military, and not just for the diversity quotient some of the people here have mentioned, though that explanation holds plenty of water: "The first Ferengi cadet in Starfleet! It'll be a great public relations event. Move Mr. Nog to the top of the list!" It happens.

But I can vouch for how unfair these swings can be. I have worked the better part of the past seven years trying to become an officer and military pilot, and was repeatedly thwarted by the DoD drawdowns, finally succeeding in achieving my dream last year -- despite having stellar grades and already being a civilian pilot. My uncle became a military pilot in the '80s during the Reagan build-up, and humbly jokes he never had much knack for flying, but if you had a pulse back then you could make it simply because recruiting was so high. And when I was a cadet, it was one of the first couple of years of the post-Bush drawdown, and I saw 60% of the cadet corps, including many highly qualified, smart, dedicated young men and women, get slashed from the program simply because the number of available slots for new officers had to be reduced. It was heartbreaking and unfair. I made out a lot better than they, despite my own enormous challenges.

This kind of need-of-Starfleet explanation is never used in-universe to justify the relative ease for Nog and difficulty for Wesley (that quitter! haha), but it certainly is plausible.
Tue, May 17, 2016, 4:28pm (UTC -6)

Congrats!! ... from a 30 military officer. You are correct, numbers aren't fair at times. Glad you made it through.

One of the "Drawn down" consequences that chaps my ass is there are ground pounders that have done 3 & 4 tours in Iraq/Afghanistan that are being forced out before their 20 because of these asinine cuts. It's truly hurtful.

Again, congrats on your success!!
Mon, Jul 4, 2016, 10:45am (UTC -6)
@Yanks, thank you, sir! Yeah, I'm equally annoyed about them being forced out early also. As a military force we are necessarily an instrument of political will against our enemies and in support of our allies. But when *domestic* politics holds us hostage to thwart political opponents at home, and all the while eroding the national defense, it is abysmal.
Sun, Aug 14, 2016, 6:35am (UTC -6)
On a recent re-viewing, I couldn't remember the ending of either the A or B story. Perhaps it was forgettable for me, but I kept thinking this was a plan from the Maquis person, maybe a holo program. I completely forgot that it was a Changeling, and also forgot the impassioned speech by Nog. It'd been 18 years or so since my last viewing. I was happy to be surprised again. :)

I've seen many comments written with an eye to what happened in later episodes. I, on the other hand, try to forget what comes later (apparently I'm really good at this, see above paragraph).

I never bought the crystal on Kira. I thought they did well having her act just a 'little' bit off. But my thought was is if she couldn't really feel her foot, because of the pressure, she'd be dead as soon as her diaphram was unable to move, and that'd be well before the crystal was neck high. She'd be dead before it reached her upper arms, and when she wasn't, I didn't believe it was her. And it really WAS creepy when it became clear it was a Changeling. We were being told they could impersonate anyone, and that was disquieting...

At the time of the original airing, the Nog Starfleet request seemed weird, as he'd just shown us what he thought of Human values in a previous episode. But when it played out, he just seemed so Genuine with his explanation of why he wanted to join. And it was entirely plausible. Well acted by Aaron. If he hadn't sold it, it would have fallen flat. He made me BELIEVE IT. On the other hand, I can see how this could have been dismissed, since it was so unexpected, and I even recall thinking to myself that they were writing him out of the show (Go to Starfleet! Visit once or twice! Bye! *waves*).

Enjoy the day Everyone... RT
Thu, Nov 24, 2016, 3:48pm (UTC -6)
So the Founders are impervious to phaser fire? When fake Kira shoots the crystal it expands. So logically the Founder wasn't hurt. Unless fake Kira used a weak setting on the phaser.
Tue, Dec 6, 2016, 10:25am (UTC -6)
When I first saw this episode, I thought that the logical thing to do would be to cut off Kira's foot. I mean, Kira is a battle-hardened former terrorist. She's no-nonsense and practical. Once it was clear that the crystal was going to keep growing then she could have chopped off the leg below the knee or something. I thought it was inconsistent with her character, particularly since we've seen her solve several problems with simply shooting things. That made the reveal much more credible to me. Little things were just a little off because of course they would be. The changeling was able to replicate how Kira looked easily enough, but her knowledge of Kira's personality would have come from Odo's memories, so they wouldn't be a perfect match.

As for why the phaser didn't hurt, either the phaser was set to a super low setting, or the phaser wasn't real. This brings up a point I've always wondered, when Odo turns into his liquid/gelatinous state, they don't show his taking his combadge off first. Instead, it always converts to liquid with him. Now, this could just be a nitpick over a minor detail, but it could also show that the changelings could turn themselves into functional electronics. In which case, making a fake phaser would be just par for the course as far as their abilities are concerned.
Sun, Feb 26, 2017, 2:59pm (UTC -6)
Dirk Hartmann,

Ugh, I wish this was more like Reddit, because you will never read this...but....

*Odo* has trouble mimicking the humanoid face. The founders are centuries old; I doubt they have such troubles. Odo is a child compared to them.
Thu, Jun 15, 2017, 7:37pm (UTC -6)
This episode benefits from plenty of Odo/Kira -- the 2 best acted characters in DS9. The ending is a surprise but I don't think it's too farfetched for the head female Founder to have gone to such lengths to test Odo given how they tested Sisko in the 2nd part of the 2-part episode at the start of S3. I liked how at the end Odo said it was nothing important to [the real] Kira.
Odo's story about how he god his name was well done and how he found his purpose with the folks on DS9. D
As for the Nog/Star Fleet unrelated B-plot, it was annoying until the end when Nog explains he wants to be somebody -- that is promising for a character I largely find irritating. But I can't see him hacking it at Star Fleet (given what kind of testing Wesley Crusher had to go through) - I hope the writers don't make Nog all of a sudden develop all the right attributes and succeed - that would be totally inconsistent with his past (although I guess doing the inventory of the cargo came out of nowhere).
This is a decent episode although it basically is a contrivance to get Odo to come out of his shell about his feelings for Kira -- it's good for the viewer but it doesn't advance the story between the 2 of them all that much.
Almost good enough to get to 3 stars, but I think 2.5 stars is more appropriate - dragged down by too much Nog.
Thu, Aug 3, 2017, 9:22pm (UTC -6)
3 stars. Pretty decent episode

The Nog story was poignant--him not wanting to end up like his father. That Mae an awful lot of sense giving everything we had seen previously. It was a nice moment when Rom decided to stand up to Quark when it came to his son and then gave a Nog his blessing.

I liked the show incorporated the Badlands and maquis here. I didn't see Founder twist coming at all. Kira and Odo had some good stuff like the origin of Odo's name was pretty smart. I also appreciated the smart thinking from Odo about the transporter and then the transport enhancers then the distress signal then launching a communication beacon then remembering his crime reports and trying to create harmonic that would shatter the crystal. Good backstory and had me glued to it about Odo name and where it came from.

I was never a fan of a romance between Odo and Kira so the revelation and the subsequent keeping it from Kira afterwards did little for me.
Wed, Nov 15, 2017, 10:09pm (UTC -6)
I found the Odo / Keira story line boring and repetitive. No great revelations at all and, ultimately, irrelevant. It was actually the Nog storyline that I found the most compelling in this episode. I found his desire to be genuine and his explanation quite moving. It changed the entire character for me for the rest of the show's run.
Thu, Dec 21, 2017, 10:48am (UTC -6)

Your explanation would be good, except Starfleet isn't modern Earth. It's the future, where, apparently, we are all much more enlightened. It's been shown with other races (that blue thing in TNG) that no special favours are made.

Nog wouldn't just be allowed in. It's that, or Starfleet is not enlightened and is grossly unfair. Choose...
Fri, Aug 10, 2018, 2:58pm (UTC -6)
Why'd you skip the B-story, Jammer? WHY?
Mon, Aug 13, 2018, 12:59pm (UTC -6)
The Nog sections of "Heart of Stone" are fantastic-Aaron Eisenberg steps up in a big way, and his reasons for wanting to join Starfleet are believable and poignant. There's been some talk in the comments above about how it's unbelievable that Nog could get into Starfleet due to Wesley and Picard failing. To me, it's a difference between how TNG and DS9 portray Starfleet Academy. In TNG, you did indeed basically have to be Isaac Newton to get in. That didn't make much sense to me-if you really had to be at the very upper end of the human intelligence range to make it at the Academy, why are there so many people in Starfleet? In DS9, as long as you're intelligent and a hard worker, you can make it in the Academy. That makes more sense to me overall. The A-plot is pretty interesting, but far from riveting. It works due to the strength of Nana Visitor and Rene Auberjonois's performances, but it definitely drags on for too long. Overall, a solid episode.

3 stars.
Wed, Aug 15, 2018, 6:55am (UTC -6)
Unlike most of you, I haven't yet seen the rest of this series, so I had no idea while watching that Nog's Starfleet arc would become important until after I read this comment thread. And like most of you, I do not understand why Jammer dismissed this B-story. It was much better than the A story! The only thing that made it unbelievable was that we saw Nog acting like an absolute jerk in the previous episode--Sisko should have mentioned something about it, like, "In Starfleet, you must respect everyone, including women." Or at least said, "Starfleet officers do not try to bribe their superiors to get what they want."

It does seem a bit of a stretch that Nog would have a shot at even getting in--but does everyone have to go to the Academy? Did Miles? Or only officers? Could he be a crewman if not an officer?

The A story was fine--I was fooled throughout--and mad as hell at the writers when they had Kira say she loved Odo. I thought, "Good lord, are they not even going to acknowledge that the man she loved had JUST DIED? This makes no sense! Dammit!"

Then I laughed at the reveal.
Tue, Oct 9, 2018, 10:25am (UTC -6)
Teaser : **.5, 5%

Kira and Odo are returning from yet another Bajoran colony called “Prophets' Landing,” because, you know, its Bajoran. God and country first, am I right? Kira makes sure to name-drop the treaty from last episode, because CONTINUITY, but makes absolutely no mention of her dead boyfriend or shows any sign of distress from that ordeal, because...anyway... Rather, she tries to engage Odo in inane conversation. Basically, they're having one of those sitcom couples fights.

This DBI interrupted by a distress call. The Maquis have attacked a Lesbian—Lispian—Thespian? ship and so Kira has the runabout warp off to intercept the rogue vessel.

Act 1 : **, 17%

The Maquis ship escapes into the badlands, but Kira determines to capture him. It lands....roughly...on a moon and the runabout follows course.

On DS9, Nog interrupts Sisko's game of Tetris to offer Nog is at the age where Ferengi (males) must purchase apprenticeships from suitable role models, because capitalism. Apparently, Sisko has demonstrated over the years the kinds of behaviour and ethics that would make a very culturally traditional Ferengi like Nog want to join Starfleet. Hey, who am I to argue with the writers if they want to imply that Sisko fits an ideal that meets the approval of their go-to culture of reprehensible ethics?

Odo and Kira explore the Star Trek cave set—the moon they're on is seismically-unstable and Kira decides that the pair should split up in their search for the renegade Maquis before they decide to cut their losses. After about five seconds, Kira calls Odo, having gotten herself stuck in some sort of growing crystal. Well, that sucks.

Act 2 : **.5, 17%

The pair's attempts to free Kira only make things worse, and they're out of range of the runabout. Kira is weirdly light-hearted about the situation.

In Quark's bar, Nog and Rom are trying to repair the replicators. Quark steps in long enough to remind us that deep down, he's a scoundrel. Nog observes his father mewling before his boss/brother and looks morose. Jake enters to chide Nog for his “prank” in Sisko's office. Nog is incensed, as his intention to join Starfleet is quite sincere, but he isn't interested in divulging his reasoning to his friend. I'm thrilled to report that Aron Eisenberg is permitted here to behave in a non-irritating manner for once.

On the moon, Odo is having techno-interference issues on the runabout and unable to transport Kira aboard, or even send a distress call to the station. So he sends a probe...which will make contact with the station in about two days. He returns to Kira, who has just exchanged phaser fire with the Maquis person...and whom Odo *just* missed. Odo examines the cave wall where the enemy shot singed the rock and remarks that Kira only narrowly avoided getting vaporised.

Act 3 : **.5, 17%

Bashir and Sisko have an amusing conversation about an male ensign who is “budding,” as in about to have babies. Considering all the #nohomo innuendo that gets shoved into Star Trek by the producers of this era, I appreciate the writers managing to imply some gender diversity. Nog confronts Sisko about his appeal to attend the Academy. Sisko is very skeptical that this recently-illiterate little criminal is Starfleet material, but Nog begs for the opportunity to “be better.” Hmm. Well, that *is* the Federation ideal, to make oneself better. So, Sisko concocts a scheme with Jadzia to give the boy a chance to prove himself. Nog will inventory some valuable equipment in one of the cargo bays without supervision, to see whether he can at least avoid the temptation to steal, so Dax gives Nog his assignment, and he's is quite eager to prove himself.

Meanwhile, Kira is now waist-deep in crystal. Odo is frustrated with his inability to even analyse the material given all the techno-interference fucking with their equipment, as well as remarking on the cleverness of their elusive fugitive. There's a ticking clock—about twelve hours before Kira is killed. Odo spits out reams of technobabble that amount to him deciding to try and shatter the crystal with a frequency-generator. Wow. As the crystal grows, Odo assembles the the generator and he and Kira prattle on about some bullshit, English sea shanties and whatnot. Finally, we get:

ODO: He loves it. And it's been my observation that you humanoids have a hard time giving up the things you love, no matter how much they might hurt you.
KIRA: I'm glad you're here, Odo.

Then there's another quake and rocks start falling.

Act 4 : **, 17%

Odo becomes a Changeling-tarp to protect Kira and the generator, but time is running out. I'm not sure who is to blame, but someone decided that Nana Visitor should start wheezing like Vito Corleone to broadcast that Kira is in pain or suffocating or whatever under the weight of this crystal. I'm no doctor and have no idea if this is accurate, but it's really fucking distracting. Anyway, Odo quite self-consciously searches for platitudes to try and cheer her up, but neither of these two has much use for them.

On DS9, Nog has gone above and beyond, having proven he can work hard and not steal things. Good.

Meanwhile, Kira is neck-deep in crystal...and still giving an unconvincing performance. Odo repeats the backstory from “The Alternate” about how is name is Cardassian for “nothing”/”unknown sample.” Kira is clearly succumbing to grief and horror while Odo tries desperately to keep her distracted with his story. Finally, Odo confesses his affection for the crew...and especially for Kira, who have given his life meaning. They both concede that Kira is doomed, and finally, through tears, Kira orders Odo to leave her and escape.

Act 5 : **.5, 17%

On DS9, Sisko manipulates Nog into explaining his motivation for joining Starfleet. While, I like Nog's confession here, WHY does Sisko have to scream at him and shake him like a newborn baby? Jesus tap-dancing Christ. Okay—so, putting that aside, Nog admits that Rom embarrasses him—the two of them just “don't have the lobes” for business. So, despite the fact that Nog seems to embrace Ferengi culture with zeal, he recognises that he lacks the talent necessary to succeed in that system. He wants to make something of his life, and his work-ethic, at least, proves that he does have something to offer beyond the typical Ferengi obsession with profit. My quibble here is that, while I find Nog's earnestness moving, and wanting to make something of your life in this way is a commendable Federation value, Starfleet is something else entirely. Remember, Wesley Crusher failed his first entrance exam to the Academy. Nog should be allowed to appeal for Federation citizenship, become an engineer if that's what he wants to be, but Starfleet is for exceptional people—diplomats, scientists, tacticians and technicians. Nothing suggests that Nog would qualify for this.

Meanwhile, Odo refuses to obey Kira's order, unwilling—unable in fact—to abandon her. He confesses, in a very moving performance, that he is love with her, before collapsing on the floor. And Kira says, “I'm gonna make you an offer you can't refuse...” No, she says she's also in love with Odo. Sure. That makes sense...

Thankfully, after an hour of pondering her response, Odo goes full investigator and deduces that Kira has been lying to him...both about the Maquis and about loving him in return. Finally, crystal-Kira reveals herself to be Resusci Anne. She has, in fact, orchestrated this whole chase, captured and impersonated Kira in order to understand why Odo chose to stay with the solids. She “suspected” it had something to do with Kira, and now she's quite certain of it. There's one major flaw with this (and several small ones)--she already linked with Odo. What possible information could this little subterfuge reveal to her that she couldn't get through telepathic goo intercourse?

So, Odo rescues Kira—and fudges the details about exactly what happened in order to keep his secret. Rom offers his son the best of luck and Quark grimaces. The end.

Episode as Functionary : **, 10%

DS9 Banality Syndrome strikes again! I would be willing to overlook the contrived nature of Resusci Anne's scheme if the writers had seized the opportunity to do some interesting character exploration or...something. But faux-Kira and Odo spend most of their time together talking about...nothing. In fact, the conversation with real Kira in the teaser was equally as banal! The writers on this show often fall back on trivial conversations like this because it's “believable.” Yes, in the real world, people often have banal conversations to pass the time, but it is not what I would call entertainment. This isn't a Cardassian Repetitive Epic; you've got forty minutes. Use them.

The highlight of faux-Kira's and Odo's conversation is definitely his panicked story about his name, but what do we actually learn, here? We already knew he loved Kira. True, his confession was well-delivered, but the implication that this is the only reason Odo didn't stay with his people undermines what happened in “The Search”--Odo didn't want to be part of the Dominion because it's fucking evil and he recognised that. Reducing his motivation down to the love of a woman

The B-plot requires a lot of squinting. Accepting that Nog would have any shot at the Academy is ludicrous, but if you let the details of his backstory melt into a kind of amorphous haze, the character journey is a satisfying one. Just like in “The House of Quark,” the writers have contorted a character through somewhat implausible motions to get him to a new identity which fits their plans. I have to imagine budding Starfleet officer is a better use for Nog than sexist Sisko sidekick.

Both plots suffer slightly from some odd acting choices from Visitor and Brooks, as well as some pacing issues. Overall, it's not an offensive episode, but far too pedestrian for me to fully enjoy.

Final Score : **
Peter G.
Tue, Oct 9, 2018, 11:15am (UTC -6)
"Remember, Wesley Crusher failed his first entrance exam to the Academy."

Kidding aside, this has clearly been retconned out of existence, as well it should be. It's one of the most outrageous claims ever made on Star Trek, and was a prime example of Roddenberry's wrong-headed nonsense about humanity (and Starfleet in particular) consisting of perfect people. If the future were really peopled with such prime specimens that even Wesley doesn't match up then it would be equivalent to a society run by Khan where only supermen can compete. Let's be thankful that the later seasons (and series) had a more reasoned concept of what sort of person can make it at the academy.
Tue, Oct 9, 2018, 11:51am (UTC -6)
I think it's worth bringing up the topic of Starfleet entrance. TNG emphasizes that it's very difficult to get in and that incredibly smart people (Picard) have to take the entrance exam multiple times. So is this the episode where the entrance gets retconned as Peter G. suggests, or is there another explanation? Maybe there's some Affirmative Action at play here and Starfleet was willing to give Nog diversity points even if he couldn't score as high on the test. I mean it makes a bit of sense that somebody from a completely alien culture that maintains different values than Starfleet should get some sort of handicap in their entrance consideration.

Also, just an aside, I think it was TNG's "Future Imperfect" that first showed Ferengi in Starfleet, so it's kind of fun that they ran with the idea here.
Peter G.
Tue, Oct 9, 2018, 12:15pm (UTC -6)
"So is this the episode where the entrance gets retconned as Peter G. suggests, or is there another explanation?"

I don't really think it ever made sense to accept that it was *that* difficult to get in. I mean, in TNG we see people like Barclay who are clearly smart but also deficient in what might be called personal discipline. And then there are people like Deanna...I mean, how did she ever get in? As an officer she must have been to the Academy. Out of so many Federation worlds I'm sure there really was a lot of competition to get in, but on the other hand, we're shown people on the Enterprise many times who are clearly not Picard's equal and who seemed to get in just fine at a young age. So at best the portrayal of who got into the academy is inconsistent; at worst it was simply incoherent.

Incidentally, I don't see why we need to assume that Nog is too inept to make it into a fairly tough institution. What would really drag him down would be the lack of higher education leading up to his application, especially in physics or whatever. But maybe he got insane marks in bravery or something?
Tue, Oct 9, 2018, 1:41pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G & Chrome :

"Kidding aside, this has clearly been retconned out of existence, as well it should be. I don't really think it ever made sense to accept that it was *that* difficult to get in. I mean, in TNG we see people like Barclay who are clearly smart but also deficient in what might be called personal discipline. And then there are people like Deanna...I mean, how did she ever get in?"

I'm not sure I agree with this. Barclay is incredibly intelligent despite his social anxiety. Troi...well, the show certainly didn't do her a lot of favours, but there's no reason to assume that she didn't have the grades to get in. I think the idea with her as that, as she settled into her counselor role, she let a lot of the tech tech knowledge slide, and didn't bother garnering command experience. I could get behind the idea that the exam isn't quite as extreme as portrayed in "Coming of Age," but c'mon, Nog learned how to read like 2 years ago. He wouldn't be able to get into community college at this point.
Peter G.
Tue, Oct 9, 2018, 1:58pm (UTC -6)
@ Elliott,

No doubt it is very hard to get in, based purely on the sheer numbers of candidates that must be applying. But I think early TNG wasn't basing it on numbers of applicants with that kind of logic; I think the idea was more that Starfleet people are expected to be so superior that the bar would be that high regardless of how many applicants there are. "We're Starfleet, we don't lie" was the initial TNG concept of what sort of moral and intellectual paragons Starfleet officers were. And c'mon, that's a laughable line, right? And I don't say that because I scoff at Trek's vision of our advancement, but because of how early TNG envisioned that advancement. Luckily S3 and onward mostly dispensed with that stuff and humanized everyone more.

"Nog learned how to read like 2 years ago. He wouldn't be able to get into community college at this point."

For an average modern human, yes. In Nog's case he was accustomed to burdensome levels of labor, mostly compensated poorly, with no leniency or expectation that he'd ever advance or gain from it. With this kind of discipline and willingness to endure hardship I'd say that someone like Nog could probably put in the hours and work to catch up in a few years to where a normal human child was that only did school work for a few hours a day. They don't really explain this, which is a shame, because it would be good to note that one of Nog's beneficial attributes is his ability to do endless work without complaint. This is only slightly hinted at with his work doing inventory, and it would have been nice for us to learn conclusively that he has superlative capabilities in certain areas that would put him ahead of a human candidate.
Tue, Oct 9, 2018, 3:20pm (UTC -6)

I agree that Sisko was being un-necessarily harsh on Nog. But ultimately, he was testing Nog's resolve to join Starfleet, making sure it wasn't just a con. Contrary to what Sisko protests, he is shown to be a bit prejudiced against Ferengi. He didn't want Jake associating with him at first.
Peter G.
Tue, Oct 9, 2018, 3:35pm (UTC -6)
@ Iceman,

"Contrary to what Sisko protests, he is shown to be a bit prejudiced against Ferengi."

It's not "prejudice" when you accurately speak about the way people are actually acting. That's not prejudice, it's simply a statement of facts. Now, if Sisko's impression of the Ferengi was baseless then we could call that a prejudice; or if his general idea of them was really not true of the DS9 Ferengi then it would be a prejudice. But the writers seem to go to lengths to show that his general sentiments are accurate, and in particular are also true of the DS9 Ferengi. To whatever extent some of them,like Rom and Nog change over the series, Sisko is happy to revisit his assumptions, which is fair. And lest we blame the DS9 writers (and they do have something to answer for here) for the portrayal of the Ferengi, it's practically saintly compared to what TNG did with them...
Wed, Oct 10, 2018, 9:14am (UTC -6)
@Peter G-

Even if a stereotype about a group is largely true, that doesn't make prejudice justified. Especially, because, as you say, DS9 made the Ferengi much more interesting than TNG, which reveled in the two-dimensional portrayal of alien races.
Peter G.
Wed, Oct 10, 2018, 10:19am (UTC -6)
"Even if a stereotype about a group is largely true, that doesn't make prejudice justified. "

Sisko's assumptions about the Ferengi, even on DS9, are not "largely true", they are simply true. It is completely legitimate to develop assumptions and expectations based on behavior you *actually see* in the individuals in question. That's not prejudice. Although no doubt Sisko did come to the station already knowing bad things about the Ferengi, he was never down on Jake befriending Nog until after Emissary, when we had already seen Nog committing a crime, likely at his family's request. So any assumption beyond that Sisko makes about their trustworthiness is based on facts, not prejudices. It's up to them to 'clear their name' if they're going to clean up their act.
Mon, Dec 10, 2018, 12:16pm (UTC -6)
As writers' needs change, characterization consistency goes out the window. Rom was initially played as... well, intellectually challenged, and we knew little of Nog for the first two years other than the fact he could not read (presumably in his native tongue or any other tongue). Assuming that because a group has certain characteristics, each individual shares them, is one thing, but nothing is wrong with judging when you are doing so based on the words coming out of the characters' mouths. Remember Rom as portrayed in Necessary Evil, and then as portrayed when elevated to Grand Nagus in Dogs of War? A lot of intellectual growth must have taken place in seven years-off-camera!
Peter G.
Mon, Dec 10, 2018, 12:28pm (UTC -6)
@ RomCom,

It's funny you should mention Necessary Evil, since that's pretty much the start of the trend of re-exploring how dumb Rom really is. I don't actually think there's a major difference between this point and the end of S7 for him. The bigger stretch is the difference between him in The Nagus and Necessary Evil.
William B
Mon, Dec 10, 2018, 12:36pm (UTC -6)
Though IDK, even in The Nagus it doesn't so much seem that Rom is that dumb. The weirder thing to reconcile between The Nagus and later episodes is that Rom is willing to (or at least is trying to be willing to) kill his brother to get ahead. I think even in The Nagus, it plays out a bit that Rom is trying to playact the ruthless Ferengi he thinks he's supposed to be (and has lots of understandable suppressed anger at Quark), but it was still jarring for me when I first saw it (having first seen that episode after I'd already watched some later episodes) and is still a little jarring now.
Sat, Dec 15, 2018, 1:15am (UTC -6)
"but the implication that this is the only reason Odo didn't stay with his people undermines what happened in “The Search”--Odo didn't want to be part of the Dominion because it's fucking evil and he recognised that."

I hated the ret-conning they did with this too.

We (spoiler?) learned later - or at least the writers try to gaslight us later - that everything the Founders have done was motivated by "getting Odo back home", but we get that smokeblow only AFTER the Founders made him a solid, and since they weren't the reason that Odo eventually got his goo-ve back, it's rather absurd to try and make us believe that the Founders were playing three dimensional chess like that. There is a ridiculous nonsnese throwaway line from the Founder that "we've forgiven you", but are we supposed to assume that the Founders orchestrated the events of "The Begotten"? to restore Odo?
Sat, Dec 15, 2018, 3:05pm (UTC -6)

Was that their only motivation? I remember the female Founder saying that getting Odo back was more important to the war, but their motivations for the war were their paranoia and need to 'impose order' on the rest of the galaxy.
Sat, Dec 15, 2018, 9:39pm (UTC -6)
Watching and commenting:

--In a roundabout, Odo being super sensitive because Kira didn't consult him when saying no to a dinner invite. This is immediately followed by Kira deciding to go after a Maqui ship without consulting Odo, but he seems happy just to have been informed before they warp away.

-- O'Brien, acting as Sisko's receptionist, lets Nog in to see the Commander. Nog wants to be the first Ferenghi in Star Fleet? Didn't we see Ferenghi at Star Fleet Academy? Maybe on TNG?

--Kira with a Foot of Stone.

--Nog being secretive about why he wants to join SF, though I'm guessing he doesn't want to follow dad's shameful footsteps.

--Can't Odo use his shape shifting ability to somehow squirm in there and break up that crystal?

--Louie Louie is a sea chanty? Pretty funny.

--But . . . how can Kira already be in love with Odo . . . Hmmmm

--Odo tells the truth about being in love with Kira, when deliberately put under stress from that Head-Changling Lady. Sisko purposely stresses out Nog so the truth comes out.

--Changeling Lady telling Odo his biology is his destiny; Quark basically telling Nog the same thing. Odo not buying-in. Nog not buying in.

--Traps and what we do to get out of them.

--Little guy playing Nog does a great job. And Nana V does a good job playing "not quite right Kira."

--Why not just have Odo find "Kira" dead?

Entertaining. I liked this one.
Sat, Dec 15, 2018, 9:55pm (UTC -6)
Another thought:

--Nog wants to be the first Ferenghi in Starfleet; Odo tells cheering Changeling Lady he might be the first changelling to hurt another changeling. A & B plotlines definitely being paralleled.

--Also, since I sigh about him so often, credit where credit is due: Brooks did a good job in the scene where Sisko deliberately shakes up Nog, so the truth will come out.
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 12:43pm (UTC -6)
I thought this was one of the best episodes so far. Easily in the top 10.
There was suspense, character development (Nog, Odo) and some touching moments. And I wasn't bored during this episode unlike so many other episodes.

The only kinda weird thing was when Sisko jumps on Nog close to the end. I almost thought he would Sisko-punch(tm) him but at this point I expect Sisko to act with sudden intensity at random moments. And it kinda amuses me, actually.
Bobbington Mc Bob
Fri, Jun 14, 2019, 3:23pm (UTC -6)
I think that a quick CTRL-F of the word "nog" confirms it, with 139 returns on this page: The Nog storyline was seriously impressive and in no way a second place to the A plot.

There is no way I would have predicted any emotional weight to any Nog scene, and yet his "I don't want to end up like my father" actually really got me. It was handled equally well by Sisko, who of course, was aiming for such a cathartic release all along. It was awesome to see a lightweight side character suddenly become something much deeper, and to be able to relate deeply to someone from a race whose previous gyrating, one-dimensional representations on the show have left me wanting to hit the "skip forward" button in netflix.

Though I may get shot in the head with a phaser for saying so, lately I have found myself feeling a blasphemous thought: **DS9 might actually be even better than TNG**.
JJ Not Abrams 8-)
Wed, Jul 24, 2019, 10:13pm (UTC -6)
About Nog ... and Wesley Crusher

Sometimes the kids who get C's succeed because they have experience dealing with and overcoming failure. The geniuses often crumble upon stumbling for the first time

I was under the impression that Wesley didn't fail the entry exam, only that he was outscored by another genius in a "only one winner" contest

Wesley gets into SFA, then is involved in the death of an academy cadet. Genius, eh?

Nog (spoiler alert) goes on to display uncommon valor and bravery, coolness under fire, and a knack for getting things done in the Starfleet bureaucracy.

Nog has Insightful diplomatic skills too - Martok would have gutted Wesley over that promenade spot thing!
Jon R
Tue, Aug 20, 2019, 12:08pm (UTC -6)
I really hated the first half of this one... the inciting incident was Kira stepping on a crystal...really?! I couldn't help laughing at her entire performance this episode, and the ridiculous crystal design.

I was kind of won over though by the great performances from Odo and Nog. Also, Kira being a shapeshifter explains how bizarrely stupid her performance and the entire plot was. Still overall, felt this was a pretty weak episode though from the comments here, sounds like it's the beginning of a new arc for Nog, which I look forward to. Generally like all the Ferengi stuff, even though they aren't always served well by the scripts.
Thu, Jan 2, 2020, 10:14pm (UTC -6)
Favourite parts were Odo's name's backstory -- which speaks for itself -- and Nog explaining why he wants to join Starfleet, which just comes across as such a transformative moment for the character. Dammit, Nog is a joy here and he absolutely lit up the screen. Underrated moment: him getting right down to cataloguing the cargo bay, so damn happy about busywork because it's Starfleet busywork. And Rom growing a spine and supporting his son! I'd be the hundredth person in these comments saying the review does the B-plot an injustice, but dammit, it *does*.

(considering that previous episode though... I didn't mention this in my comment there, but I'll mention it now because oh boy, Starfleet Nog is REALLY gonna have to get better at having any sort of interaction with women. but hey, he's actively throwing away Ferengi values in joining Starfleet, I guess the groundwork's laid for improvement there as well)

The A-plot... I was thinking "god dammit this rapid-growing crystal thing is the most contrived plot", but then it turned out to be a contrived plot in-universe, so I guess there's that. Beyond getting another look at one of Odo's fellow Founders, plus Odo's anecdotes (gotta say, I loved the kayaking thing too), that was mostly just mediocre to me. Gimme more Nog, dammit.

Also, tiny thing: the little scene talking about that pregnant ensign was super sweet. I don't like sharing this personal info much, but I feel I gotta give context here: I'm a man who (for now) happens to be equipped with the organs required for pregnancy/birth, and I personally know a good few other men who have fathered their own children in that way. Living as a man *and* being able to birth your own child both can and *do* coexist for many men like me, but you'd be hard-pressed to find any non-"queer media" that features that respectfully. So, this scene: not something I expected at all, and honestly really refreshing. While of course they're talking about an alien here, the way the scene plays out is *extremely* wholesome and does feel so normal/natural. Left me grinning, honestly. I wanna see his baby shower now.
Brian S.
Tue, Feb 25, 2020, 8:49pm (UTC -6)
@Iceman: "Contrary to what Sisko protests, he is shown to be a bit prejudiced against Ferengi."

To whatever extent Sisko may have (or had) some prejudices against Ferengi at large, I don't think that prejudice is at play in that specific scene.

Prejudicial treatment is where you treat an individual a certain way because of your opinions about their race at large.

Insofar as this scene goes, Sisko knows Nog. And Rom and Quark. He's known them for years. He has seen their behaviors, listened to their motivations, and is aware of the cultural influences that they espouse.

Sisko, in this cas, isn't suspicious of Nog being up to something because of something other members of his race did. Sisko is suspicious of Nog because of Nog's own personal individual history which includes several petty crimes, a rejection of many human/Starfleet egalitarian values, and numerous lies and dishonest schemes either for his own benefit or in service of his uncle.

The reveal of Nog's genuine interest in joining Starfleet is as much a confusion and surprise to us (the viewer) as it is to Sisko. Because it is a bit out of character, from what we know of Nog to this point in the series. Even within his episode, the viewer suspects there's something hidden behind Nog's efforts. It's not specifically about himself being a Ferengi….it's about Nog himself having a reputation for being not completely trustworthy and not showing much interest or value in anything Starfleet has to offer. A reputation he had more or less earned through the first 2+ seasons.

But when he lets Sisko and us in on the real reason, when the façade is dropped and Nog shows his sincerity and vulnerability, a new reputation is earned for the individual.
Fri, May 1, 2020, 8:16pm (UTC -6)
Thought this episode was excellent. Nogs story was very touching and I thought there was something wrong in the cave at first then they blew me off and I went with it so the end was a surprise. Great suspense and great character development. 3.5!
Fri, Jul 3, 2020, 7:09pm (UTC -6)
Loved the Nog story. Wonderful acting from Aron Eisenberg. Sisko was in top form.
The Kira and Odo story seemed pretty fishy to me, especially after the constable started saying "something isn't right." Rene's acting, especially in Odo oriented episodes, is the one of the high points of the Trek franchise for me.
Mon, Aug 24, 2020, 1:01am (UTC -6)
Umm... What? No... Forget plot A.

The ridiculous melodramatic crying Kira who's either high or something because she's acting off. The whole plot A devolves to, "I'm scared!" "omg I love you!" "Bwaaa"

Plot B is really the plot A... Nog's story is better acted, better executed and way more interesting.
Mon, Oct 5, 2020, 3:34pm (UTC -6)
I thought this was structurally a great episode. You have the Nog story, where he rejects the Ferrengi and joins the Federation, which mirrors Odo's story, where he's asked to reject the Federation and join the Dominion.

In both cases, the loss of a dream or object of affection takes place. Nog is cut off from "profit", from ever owning a bar or business, while Odo is cut off from Kira and any chance of having a relationship with her.

Nog being cut off from one family spurs him to join another. Odo's cutting off from one family, is intended to motivate the same.

And in each case, you have a powerful gatekeeper at the entrance to each "ideology". Sisko determines if Nog can make the transition from space-capitalist to Federation cadet, whilst the Boss Changeling determines if Odo is allowed to leave the Federation and join the space fascists in the Great Link.

Odo and Nog are also given a trial which utilizes their specific skills. Sisko tasks Nog, who is good with inventory work, with quickly cataloguing cargo. Meanwhile Odo is tested by the Boss Changeling in a cave, asked to do some impromptu detective work.

Unfortunately while everything in the Nog story is excellent, the Kira stuff can be pretty cringey. The "crystal" special effect used to lock Kira in place doesn't work, her relationship with Odo gets a bit too sentimental in the end, and much of their banter is dull filler.
Space Dugong
Fri, Dec 4, 2020, 3:51pm (UTC -6)
"Forget the B-story; I won't mention it again."
And that is why you fail.
Mon, Mar 1, 2021, 4:23pm (UTC -6)
Wow, a lot of discussion in this one!

Easily commenter is right, people tend or tended to dismiss the Ferengi. There are good reasons, especially if you watched all this first run.

They were introduced originally as the new villains to the Federation, but they were written and depicted so badly, that fell apart almost immediately.* So they were quickly retooled as comedy relief, but very rarely were they actually haha funny.

I remember watching this first run, and I didn’t care much at all for the Nog part, though I certainly DID take notice of his outburst. It is fascinating to consider how many viewers had the same dismissive attitude as Sisko to him.

I also didn’t find the Odo/Kira story very good either. I’ll watch it again, but I really don’t think it’s a terribly good episode, though it is quite significant for both Odo and Nog’s long term arcs. And, of course, the Founder. This really isn’t reset button zone, because the Founder got what she wanted.

And btw, those of us watching first run had little reason to expect long term character arcs, so we weren’t really viewing it that way. It wasn’t until the third season that the show really began doing that.

*If only Voyager had learned so quickly what a stillbirth the Kazon were as enemies.
Wed, Mar 3, 2021, 2:48am (UTC -6)
I think Nog’s story is the A story here.

I also don’t think this is a very solid episode. There’s impactful story here for both Odo and especially Nog, but all of it feels like material that could have been folded into the background of an episode with a strong plot.

Though, both the writing and Nana Visitor’s portrayal do convincingly convey a “fake” Kira. And René Auberjonois plays his part 100%, as usual.
J. Parker
Sat, Jun 5, 2021, 11:06am (UTC -6)
The intertwined (and almost contrast/duality) nature of this episode between its A and B plot is the most important takeaway, in my opinion. Obviously it sets up major character arcs, or at the very least expands upon pre-existing ones.

The slow break down of Odo when he has to accept that he's going to lose Kira is yes, impactful. For me, it totally worked... Not to mention, just being swallowed; encased slowly until you can hardly breathe anymore is one of the most horrifying thoughts. Him having to put himself in her shoes, someone that he does love? Having to see that? Shit.

From the get-go when Kira calls for Odo, it does just sound... off. Then she starts acting subtly off, doing or saying slightly out-of-character things-- but not enough to really think too much of it other than standard "margin of error" character development I guess? So when you see her by the end, and Odo confesses his "love", regardless of fake Kira saying it back, that's a huge deal for HIS character-- in the show, and his self-image and "ego" moving forward. It was real to HIM, and crueler still that it just ended up being a "test" for the Changelings to see his dedication and rationale for choosing to be with the "Solids" over them. The fact that his confession was completely nullified was certainly not bad writing in my opinion.

One of the most important things to do when watching an episode like this is thinking about it from the perspective of when it was created, and how it ties together while watching it AFTER seeing all that follows (something I've yet to be able to do, myself seeing I'm watching through for the first time).

In this case though, it went to show the extent that Changelings/the Dominion was "watching", and could watch over you and involve themselves in your affairs if they wanted to. And even though it ended up being a "meaningless" gesture-- Odo didn't know that his reveal to the disguised Changeling was less than meaningless in the context in which he meant it, and so it makes total sense when once he knew Kira was indeed okay, that he wouldn't want to put himself in that vulnerable position again. It would probably be hard as hell to bring up those feelings again, let alone on PURPOSE, to someone you know damn well doesn't feel the same way back. And especially when you're Odo, who's still uncovering who he is and how he fits into the world around him, knowing (or, thinking) he's not supposed to feel the way he does.

As for Nog, obviously this ignites a character arc that would continue through the series, from just about nothing; which you could see as a good or bad thing, depending on how you want to look at it. A couple episodes before, Nog was being a horrible Ferengi when Jake and him double-dated-- and now, he wants in Starfleet. Sure. But even though the setup is unrealistic, the way Sisko makes him prove himself had great writing and great execution, culminating with Nog's final speech expressing his desires to not be held back by Ferengi tradition and beliefs-- to not be like his dad, always just chasing success but not being viewed as worthy in what you can do, just what you can't. It's definitely impactful.

Both stories are equal tear-jerkers in my eyes, for very different reasons. Definitely a 4/5 episode for me.
Thu, Aug 12, 2021, 9:39pm (UTC -6)
Since I binge-watched this season on Amazon, Kira laughing and smiling so soon after her lover's horrific death was jarring. The writers clearly did not give a damn about that character and were quite happy to immediately move on.

Odo's name story is incredibly depressing. It works dramatically.

Nog's story works too. As for the sidebit that keeps coming up about him having been illiterate; I don't mind that it has been soft-retconned out, because it never made sense to begin with. Ferengi would obsess about getting their sons the best possible education. They likely would not have public-education, but private schools with a record of producing financially successful students would be prized and earn top latinum.
Fri, Oct 8, 2021, 9:49pm (UTC -6)
Shape shifters are known to have problems getting the basic human face "right", but here the founder conveniently is capable of mimicking Kira down to every detail ..."

Only Odo has that difficulty, I believe the founders are only mimicking him. Though I have often wondered why Odo has such difficulty with humanoid faces when he can perfectly imitate other animals including birds and rats (and how does he shrink his size down like that is another thing).

I was also disappointed that it turned out Kira never heard his story about how he got his name and how he felt about her, and I agree it seems improbable that she could imitate Kira's personality so exactly.
Picard Maneuver
Wed, Nov 24, 2021, 3:26am (UTC -6)
Something that bothers me in "evil clone" or "enemy wears a convincing disguise" type episodes in TV shows is how the doppelganger is granted a perfect copy of the voice, personality, and knowledge of the copied character along with the visual, and it feels like the less the copy knows of the original, the more convincing the act is to the other characters. Given how much the "solids" are dismissed, it's a bit difficult to believe that a Founder would have the means to convincingly play one. They don't even understand them.

Regarding Nog's relative ease of getting into Starfleet Academy, the Federation did just get through wars with the Cardassians and the Borg, although I know plot convenience is the real answer.
Peter G.
Wed, Nov 24, 2021, 10:41am (UTC -6)
@ Picard Maneuver,

"Given how much the "solids" are dismissed, it's a bit difficult to believe that a Founder would have the means to convincingly play one. They don't even understand them."

It's simply a given circumstance that they can do this. It's sort of like saying that the plot of the episode doesn't work because you don't think warp drive makes sense.

"Regarding Nog's relative ease of getting into Starfleet Academy, the Federation did just get through wars with the Cardassians and the Borg, although I know plot convenience is the real answer."

This is certainly a striking contrast to the (preposterous) case of Wesley trying to get into the Academy. I think it's best to actually scrub the latter from history and accept this as a rational retcon. That being said, I also think it's fair to assume that Starfleet makes special dispensations for races that have no representation in Starfleet. As the first Ferengi to potentially be in Starfleet, I actually assume they would accept almost any willing candidate who would follow orders.
Jason R.
Wed, Nov 24, 2021, 11:45am (UTC -6)
""Given how much the "solids" are dismissed, it's a bit difficult to believe that a Founder would have the means to convincingly play one. They don't even understand them."

In addition to what Peter G. said I'll add that one doesn't need to "understand" something to imitate it effectively. To use a real-world example, many psychopaths mimic emotions that they don't experience themselves quite well. In fact in some cases they are remarkably good at it and manage to effortlessly fool even seasoned experts.

The Founders are part of a collective that has been imitating solids for millenia and each individual, it seems, has all the experience and knowledge of the whole (or at least that is strongly implied). So the ability of the Founders to mimic solids convincingly is pretty well a given at this point.
Wed, Feb 16, 2022, 11:22am (UTC -6)
This episode is way better than people give it credit for.

The changelings in the Dominion are pretty much ageless and immortal. They have nothing BUT time to contemplate existence and roll around in a pool. The vast bulk of managing their massive interstellar empire is carried out by the Vorta and Jem'Hadar.

Being much older than Odo, they are superior shapeshifters, as Paradise Lost and later episodes detail. They have been mimicking humanoids for potentially hundreds if not thousands of years. As the "leader", Female Changeling might be the eldest among them with even the most experience. It's obvious that Odo's appearance is in fact, the "default state" of the Changeling race. They have often repeated that he "cant get the face right" or whatever, but the reality is that he can't get the face AT ALL. The only thing he can accomplish at his current level is reaching what is probably some genetic imprint: the perhaps-historical humanoid shape of the Changelings. Maybe it's even some kind of evolutionary callback to a time when they weren't as morphous, who knows.

Odo is the first of 100 babies they basically flung into the expanse of space and were waiting literally hundreds of years to return to them. It is 100% plausible that literally every member of the Great Link has a vested interest in Odo, including the Female Changeling. Remember: they're basically immortal, this is the first real news of importance to them in ages. They could care less about the workings of the solids in their empire insomuch as they can exert order and control. It is 100% plausible that they (and Female Changeling in particular) would be horrified and fascinated to understand exactly what it was that caused Odo to reject what the rest of them consider perfection and paradise. If nothing else because it might be the first evidence of a (admittedly obvious) critical flaw in their plan of putting all these changeling babies out there in the first place.

Female Changeling accomplishes her objective the plan she carries out. She already suspected Odo's relationship with Kira was 'in the way', and she systematically maps it out here, to isolate and ruin it later so as to get what she wants: Odo to return. She knew she probably couldn't get him to return here; she was just doing intelligence gathering the way the Dominion does it: deception.

That's the actual main plotline of this episode and it's carried out pretty thoughtfully. Female Changeling underestimates Odo's character, and recognizes that more drastic measures are necessary, which helps propel the future of the series.
Peter G.
Wed, Feb 16, 2022, 5:07pm (UTC -6)
Nice review splatomat, I agree with everything you wrote. I also agree that the writing for the Changeling arc is much more coherent and plausible than many give it credit for. They work well as a 'truly alien' race who are absolutely not like Klingons or Romulans. In fact DS9 is probably the only Trek series to repeatedly give us alien species that are so different that their differences demarcate how they play into the story (Prophets, Changelings, Vorta, etc).
Jason R.
Wed, Feb 16, 2022, 5:39pm (UTC -6)
One thing about the Founders that is very cool is that while they do obviously have the capacity for individuality when out of the link, they are also a lot like the Borg collective - when joined in the link they are both everyone and anyone. As the female changeling explained the drop becomes the ocean and then the drop again.

So it isn't a question of one changeling being wiser or more skilled than any other. One founder has the capabilities of all founders, ever.
Peter G.
Wed, Feb 16, 2022, 5:56pm (UTC -6)
"So it isn't a question of one changeling being wiser or more skilled than any other. One founder has the capabilities of all founders, ever."

Right, but that's also their weakness, because whatever the Link lacks, they all lack. And not only that, they wouldn't even have an 'outside' to inform them they're lacking it. For instance they think they're amazing at becoming other life forms, but actually they're terrible at it and have no idea. The only thing they're good at is imitating the exterior trappings of humanoids; everything else eludes them because they don't know better. Somehow the sending out of the 100 almost indicates they were dimly aware of missing something, but not aware enough to have the humility that should come along with knowing you're missing something.
Sun, Mar 13, 2022, 11:07pm (UTC -6)
"Though I have often wondered why Odo has such difficulty with humanoid faces when he can perfectly imitate other animals including birds and rats"

This exact thing was cleverly covered in dialog in one episode. Someone literally asked Odo why he had so much trouble doing humanoid faces when he could do a perfect crow (or whatever bird it was) and Odo said that the crows wouldn't find him so convincing.
Sun, Mar 20, 2022, 1:26am (UTC -6)
Hate this episode. It's borderline unbearable to watch imo. Remember when fake kira is almost completely covered by the crystal formation and she's doing some sort of really dramatic, gravely strained voice and talking so slowly. It's like nails on a chalkboard.....them guess what! It's really that female shapeshifter, who has an even MORE annoying there no mercy? Only thing that could be worse is if Dr. Pulaski appeared and added her grating voice to the mix.
Mon, May 16, 2022, 10:01pm (UTC -6)
While this episode certainly isn't among my favorites, I've always found it entertaining. I like getting the history of Odo's name, and I like how he discovers the female changeling based off of the profession of love. I also enjoy the Nog story line. I like how Sisko gets him to tell the truth about how he really wants to join. This is the episode where Nog becomes a character to root for.
Fri, Aug 19, 2022, 11:01am (UTC -6)
Interesting... Jammer gives stellar ratings to episodes I find supremely tedious while scoring down those I like. Ain't humans great! Life would be so lackadaisical if we all saw everything the same way. Anyway, this episode is an example of the latter.

The initial omens were very bad. Dodo and Keera stuck in some cave, sucking wind. Major snoozers!! But Dodo's story about the origin of his name was really cool and even warmed me up to the guy. The "declaration of love" angle made me fear again that the ep. would take a turn for the boring but the plot twist near the end came totally out of the left field. Loved it!

The B-story about Eggnog and his pursuit of Starfleet enrollment was excellent, better than the main arc. The final scene with his dad breaking away from his suzerainty to Quark was particularly moving, all the more because it made his boy see him in a whole new light, having previously declared he doesn't want to end up like his father. Powerful.
Fri, Oct 14, 2022, 8:37pm (UTC -6)
I know this is a lot of years on from the initial review, but I have to state that the review really undermines how impactful the "B" plot is. Nog's admiration to join starfleet coincides beautifully with the directly previous episode where he had a feud with Jake over the differences between humans and ferengi. Additionally, it grants character to Rom who previously was used for nothing but one-note comedy or script convenience (I will note that house of quark does this too, his interest in quarks tale humanises him beyond a script piece). Nog is the star of this episode, finally realised as a character and not stuck simply as "young ferengi, friend of Jake" in the show bible. While the ending is a cop-out, it does provide character development for Odo to admit to himself that he has significant feelings for others, even if no one else gets to hear that. Hence the heart of stone title, we got to see that heart of stone earn it's first crack in this specific episode.

Personally I love this episode, enough to have commented about it over a decade later. Much love to Nog and Odo.
Peter G.
Fri, Oct 14, 2022, 9:52pm (UTC -6)
@ Thomas,

Since you mentioned Nog as almost being the real A plot, it got me thinking about the title, and it seems to me that "heart of stone" ends up having a triple entendre:

-Kira literally being encased in stone
-Odo's heart finally revealing itself to not be made of stone
-Sisko having the actual titular heart of stone, cold to Nog's request, until he finally realizes that Nog really means it

Wow, good title!
Buck Bartolik
Fri, Jan 13, 2023, 1:49pm (UTC -6)
When taken in sequence, it's easy to see how Jammer would look at the Nog story as a trivial distraction, bound to be forgotten like the threat of the beacon sent out by the insects who nearly took over Starfleet headquarters in TNG.

But taken as a chapter in the DS9 novel, it's a huge plot point that marks the beginning of the second biggest character transformation in the series. Sisko leaving everything behind is clearly the first, and his final act regarding Nog ties the two threads together wonderfully.

Of course, every story about Nog viewed today is tinted by Aron Eisenberg's tragically young death at 50. But that only makes his character arc more poignant. After you watch Aron describe his passion for the show and the team in 2018's "What We Left Behind," it's easy to understand why everyone from Rick Berman to Armin Shimerman were so strong for both Nog and Aron through the entire run. And it's easy to see what a terrific decision it was to build Nog the way they did.
Sat, Apr 8, 2023, 6:10pm (UTC -6)
OK, I read every comment, from first to last and enjoyed many.

But here is a question ( and I read every comment to see if it was addressed, did not find it and in doing a DuckDuckGo search of it only found a joking thread on Redditt):

Did Sisko keep the latinum Nog gave him?

If I missed it in the show or comments, apologies and thanks in advance. I'll check back from time to time to see opinions.

Of course it does not matter and it's a trivial use of time, but, eh, so what.
Wed, May 10, 2023, 11:17am (UTC -6)
My favorite DS9 episode is either this one or Children Of Time. The Nog story made me cry, and the acting between Sisko and Nog was powerful!

This goes on my short list of episodes I can point to and say, *this* is why I watch Star Trek.
Wed, May 10, 2023, 11:25am (UTC -6)

Yes, at approximately 34:30 he gives the latinum back to Nog.
Sun, Jul 2, 2023, 2:21pm (UTC -6)
One of my favourite episodes of ds9
While it is a very simple concept, it does a tremendous job of showcasing the depth of odo’s feelings for Kira, which previously had been hinted at. I don’t see the issue with why the founder would want to understand why odo would choose to be with the solids. As for imitating Kira perfectly, the issue is more why the founders default humanoid look is so odd for creatures who are later shown to be able to be anyone. Odo is bad at faces because he is inexperienced. My guess is it was a desire for tv audiences to understand they are the same species.

The B plot is both interesting and gives nog some much needed development. Certainly better than nog crass unbelievable sexism plot from a few episodes ago.
I’m still a bit conflicted by the whole Kira/odo thing after all this time. I think in some ways (a bit like lennier in b5 the unrequited path shown here feels the truer path) but then the romantic in me can empathize with going a somewhat happier way.
Tue, Jul 18, 2023, 5:47pm (UTC -6)
I felt that revealing the "encased Kira" to be the main Founder was something of a cheat, but it's okay. Nana & Rene played their scenes well.

The highlight of the episode, however, is the start of the story that leads (eventually) to "The Siege of AR-558" and "It's Only a Paper Moon" in Season 7. No character in any Trek show travels the arc of Nog and his development. His story and his episodes (including "Treachery, Faith, and the Great River" and "In the Cards") run from enjoyable to very strong. ("It's Only a Paper Moon" is a *great* episode.)

That Nog was played by Aaron Eisenberg lends even more weight to the idea Nog would overcome a host of obstacles in his track through the series. Aaron was born with only one partially functioning kidney. As a child, that limited his height. While he received a kidney transplant at age 14, he continued to have kidney problems throughout his life. Even though he received a second transplant in 2015, he left us in September 2019 at age 50. That he played a character determined to succeed in spite of various limitations seems fitting.

Nog and his story are among my favorite parts of DS9. I wouldn't dismiss his major turning point in "Heart of Stone" so cavalierly. As others have said, his speech about "Because I don't want to end up like my father!" is powerful stuff.
Sat, Nov 25, 2023, 12:44am (UTC -6)
There are very few reviews i want Jammer to revisit and re-review but this is one of them. Absolutely wild he decided to skip what is the most important storyline in the episode. Gotta imagine it was just a Nog thing which is much less skippable in retrospect.

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