Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

“The Search, Part II”

2 stars.

Air date: 10/3/1994
Teleplay by Ira Steven Behr
Story by Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by Jonathan Frakes

"It's a little foolish to worry about your careers at a time like this—when there's a good chance we're all about to be killed." — Garak, joining Sisko and crew for some rebellious action

Review Text

The wrap-up of one of the most ambitious action/adventure and character development episodes on DS9 seems to be working okay for its first four acts but then jettisons all plausibility and respectability with a complete cheat ending. And, unfortunately, by the time the episode ends, we're left puzzled as to how Odo feels about his experience—a plot line that has a surprising amount of ambiguity. Fortunately, future episodes promise to address Odo's experience. But as far as this episode goes, there's only one word for it—botched.

Sisko and Bashir are reunited with the DS9 crew (less Kira and Odo who are still on Odo's homeworld in the Gamma Quadrant nebula) after their narrow shuttlepod escape from the Defiant. They return to DS9 to find their attempt to get the Founders' attention was successful, for diplomacy is underway, and a peace treaty is all but signed. But something is dead wrong. Sisko is consistently kept in the dark about the entire affair by Admiral Nechayev (Natalija Nogulich, recapping her TNG role as Federation bureaucrat), who intends to oversee the signing of a bogus treaty that would cause denouncements of war from the Romulans, not to mention Starfleet's withdrawal from Bajor and DS9. This leads Sisko and his crew to take matters into their own hands by collapsing the wormhole to keep the Dominion on their side forever.

By this time, we know there's something not right about where the story is going. When Garak is killed in a phaser fight with the Jem'Hadar we know better, because there's no dramatic reasoning behind it and we know the writers wouldn't just kill off Garak for the benefit of an action scene. At the same time, having Sisko collapse the wormhole is unthinkable, because the wormhole is one of the central characteristics of the series.

Back on the shapeshifters' homeworld, Odo finally finds his roots and meets others like him, leading to some necessary shapeshifter backstory and explanations of why Odo was sent away in the first place. Unfortunately, none of this dialogue can live up to part one's illustrious moment when Odo finds himself face-to-face with another shapeshifter (Salome Jens) for the first time. These scenes work for some Odo character moments, but they're just ordinary scenes—not the kind of payoff a buildup like this deserved. They don't hit home on the larger magnitude due to the number of unasked questions and missed opportunities. Besides, we know Odo won't stay there anyway but rather return to DS9 by the end of the episode. Apparently, taking risks with characters can only go so far.

But what really torpedoes this installment is its total cop-out ending, where Odo opens a door on his homeworld to find the captured DS9 team hooked up to mind-probing equipment. A Dominion operative states that he is "conducting an experiment" to see how they would react to a Dominion attempt to get a foot in the Alpha Quadrant. Alas, this frustrating "twist" scene basically renders all dramatic undercurrent of our heroes' decisions useless, because their actions ultimately have no bearing on the outcome whatsoever, nor do they face any of the consequences. (Even though we know the decisions are void simply based on how much they impact the series, this ending is still the nail in the coffin.) For a story of this magnitude, the writers really should've come up with a more appropriate conclusion.

Meanwhile, the revelation that Odo's people are the malevolent leaders of the Dominion makes it all too easy and contrived for Odo to refuse joining them, rather than giving him the chance to make a true decision based on his character's feelings and needs. Also, the writers fail to address how Odo decides to remain as DS9 security chief, leaving it up to us to fill in the answers to the biggest character dilemma presented in part one.

Minus its cheat ending, "Search II" might have been a worthwhile character installment, because the performances are compelling and the dialogue is interesting. Unfortunately, the ending is everything, because it states that everything before it never happened. That just won't fly.

On the upside, Garak's presence supplies some well-timed laughs. Also, Kira and Odo's sibling-like affection for each other is genuinely moving, demonstrated here with some wonderful scenes. Most likely, "The Search" will mark a change in the way Odo looks at himself, others, and life in general. But standing alone, this episode doesn't work.

Previous episode: The Search, Part I
Next episode: The House of Quark

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86 comments on this post

    This episode was really the epitome of 'cop-out'.

    Furthermore, even the test became pointless. It was supposed to be a test on the crew reactions, yet the idea for the destruction of the wormhole was planted by Garak, a character supposedly 'simulated' (as he was not amongst the captured persons)! Certainly, for a 'simulated' character Garak played a very central role in the proceedings, puzzlingly dictating the test's results to the test's subjects.

    And it seems the 'simulated' death of the Romulan overseer-of-the-cloaking-device spilled into reality, as that's the last time we'll see her!

    Jammer, I have to disagree with you on the point that the ending was a cop-out. Infact I think putting the crew in a simulation to learn more about them as a potential future adversary makes alot of sense. It didn't feel a waste of time at all, it just clearly demonstrated how devious The Dominion could really be and they did learn something from their simulation so it wasn't a waste of time for them either.

    Finally, I loved how Odo finally finds his people had has to leave them.

    I have to agree with Jammer- me and my brother literally howled with derision when this episode aired when we were teenagers, and I just watched it for a second time now (15 years on) and while it was a little easier to stomach when I knew what was going to happen it was still the reset button to end all reset buttons. Ick.

    I am very surprised that you found this episode to be 'mediocre'. No, it wasn't as good as Part I, but still. I wonder if this is one of those star ratings that you no longer agree with.

    Here is what Memory Alpha says about the episode (not that I agree or disagree):

    On the one hand, the writers wished to convey just how powerful the Dominion was - they were technologically so far advanced that they were literally playing with the Federation. On the other, it was to show viewers that the real story of the episode was not the struggle for the Wormhole, but was in fact Odo's personal journey.

    In fact, what bothers me the most about this episode (and many other DS9 episodes) is not the 'simulation' ending, but the fact that the consequences of the episode are never adressed in the future. Siko and the others have no qualms about destroying the wormhole here, and since they thought it was reality, there is no reason why they would change their minds on destroying it later. Yet, even in the face of all-out war with the Dominion, they never again bring up the possibility of destroying the wormhole, in fact they even thwart a Romulan plot to destroy it in "Visionary." It makes NO SENSE.

    I'm finally just starting to go through this series episode by episode. I've got the first two seasons on DVD, but after "The Jem'Hadar" I had to see at least the next episode. Alas, I already know how it ends, but half the fun is getting there.

    Anyways, for this episode, I think the ending could have been saved at least, if the audience was made aware at the start that it was a simulation. See Sisko being dragged into the cavern, possibly struggling till he gets knocked out, then the episode would have this omonous tone where the audience is wondering why and what the simulation will ultamitly go. And the twist of the Founders real idenities would still be affecting, if not more so.

    I was struck by how the Vorta talks to Odo as if he's just another annoying shmuck. The whole "I'm honored to be in your presence, Founder" thing with Weyoun and the Vorta viewing Odo as a god hadn't been cooked up yet.

    Nic, in the episode "By Inferno's Light" Sisko does in fact plan to seal the wormhole when it looks as if The Dominion is coming.

    I don't see the cop-out angle. The story was about the Dominion and the Dominion only. To try to parse out anything about the main characters (other than their deepest thoughts) is completely missing the point. The ending answered why there seemed to be cheats througout the story and wrapped it up intelligently in a true sci-fi way. Also, Frakes directs the dream sequences with unique camera angles (remember the Batman villians always shot at an angle). 3-1/2 stars.

    Have no major issues with the second part and think it is a solid two parter.
    I even remember the first time I saw this think that Starfleets behaviour was becoming more and more absurd and realised it was all a trick. I just wasn't sure how until the reveal. Didn't feel cheated at all.

    I agree with Jayson's comment. I absolutely don't think it was a "cop-out" ending since it shows how powerful the Dominion really are, and how our heroes are being toyed with like ragdolls.

    The Search II ever-so-slightly reminded me of The Manchurian Candidate. It seemed like Starfleet was being brain-washed by the Dominion and that Admiral Necheyev was simply a puppet leader. How could the Federation have easily given up Bajor, DS9, and Wormhole Access to the Dominion? That question lingered as I progressed through the episode.

    However, The Search I & II were not perfect. Here are some things that bothered me about it:

    - Odo's refusal to join the Great Link was rushed. The guy has spent his ENTIRE life searching for his origins. Yet, his decision to remain with the solids to save their lives seemed in the name of justic seemed less heroic.

    - Frankly, Odo's sudden desire to be drawn to the Omarion Nebula by looking at a map is also a little contrieved. He's BEEN to the Gamma Quadrant before, and surely, he's looked at Gamma Quadrant maps before, too.

    - I can't recall, but I *think* this is explained in a later episode...but I was surprised to see that the Romulans almost voluntarily loaning the cloaking device to the Federation. Also, the Romulans only had one representative aboard. It would have been more plausible to see a Romulan warbird accompany the Defiant into the Gamma Quadrant (and have it destroyed by the Jem Hadar) AND/OR have multiple representatives aboard to ensure safety of their proprietary cloaking device.

    That said, the positive aspects of this episode really outweigh the minor plotholes in what is a fantastic two-parter.

    - I LOVED seeing Odo smile at the end of Search I. My girlfriend teared up when she saw this scene during our DS9 rewatch.

    - Seeing the Defiant de-cloak was really cool. Neat introduction and great plot vehicle (pun intended) for the writers.

    - I forgot that Eddington was introduced in this episode -- very cool. Eddington is what George Primmin (random security officer from Season 1) should have been. It would have made Eddington's later "heel-turn" even more effective had he been around since the beginning.

    Like Jammer said in The Search I's review, this is absolutely a turning point for DS9's future storylines. It's also a symbolic turning point in that Ira Steven Behr basically took over the helm from Michael Piller. Even though I know how the entire series plays out, I am VERY excited to continue my rewatch.

    How exactly is this a cheat, yet Star Trek TNG episodes like Future Imperfect and Frame of Mind aren't???? Lots of episodes of Star Trek use this twist. It's nothing new.

    And the shapeshifters as the Founders was actually a pretty great twist, and its very good character development of the Dominion.

    I don't necessarily see this as a cheat ending but I could be slightly biased having seen this series and knowing how it ultimately unfolds. But I do agree the ending feels a bit rushed. Maybe if there was more substantial dialogue between Kira and Odo (not that what was there was bad by any means) and the 'fake' reality was incorporated a little better somehow...I don't know. I do know that I quite like the idea of the Founders probing their minds for knowledge of potential avenues of resistance.

    Not perfect but not bad at all. In fact, overall, I enjoy this ep a bit better now than what I remember. 3 stars.

    This is one of those episodes that has repercussions throughout the series. One could almost view the final story arc in the last season as a chiasm with this episode--every move is reversed, Odo links with the founder again, lets go of Kira as he embraced her as a friend here in this episode, and so on. Hindsight is a better friend when evaluating a series. One weakness of the episodic critic is that he does not re-assess his work at the end of the entire season or the end of the series (and not just every season). That said, Jammer has valuable insights.

    I tend to look at the stars before watching the episode, then read the review... This whole episode, I was scratching my head, going 'how in the hell is THIS two stars!?!?!?' I was laughing my head off at Garak's one-liner... But then the ending came around, and while I think the 'cop-out' isn't nearly as bad as some say, I think the issue is more with how it's presented. It's not like "Whispers", where there's all this huge buildup until the plot's made clear, it's just madness and chaos all throughout, and a sudden sucker punch at the ending... I just don't feel it punctuated the overall feeling of the episode as well as it could have... Still, excellently acted, especially the interactions between Kira and Odo. I'd say it's worthy of a 3, docked down from 3.5 just because the ending felt admittedly abrupt.

    @Rivus - The Odo plot was a 4 and the other plot was... I dunno... badly written fan fic?

    I absolutely love the beam out where Kira presses Odo's comm badge. I just love their closeness there.

    I could never give this episode a 2 because of how much I love Odo's story in it.

    Wow, I didn't see this episode as bad as some above observed.

    The only thing I think I might have done differently was let Odo stay with the Founders for a couple episodes. Let him take some time to make his decision.

    The experiment was shocking the first time I watched the episode. All I can say for the Garak contributions is I'm sure his presence was the culmination of Sisko/Jadzia's memories/thoughts. There are plenty of things on the station that aren't strapped into the Vorta's experiment.

    I also, at this point and time, don't see the problem with these characters thinking sealing the Wormhole is a good option. It would make sense to me. They aren't reacting to sustain a TV show, they are thinking of how to protect the Alpha quadrant.

    I also wish Martha could have become a viable reoccurring character.

    But that said, the best part of this episode (and this 2 parter) is the Odo/Kira relationship. Just love these two and how they progressed and grown throughout the series.

    3.5 stars for me. The end did seem rushed, but that happens all the time in all our trek series.

    The main problem I have with the simulation is that Garak wasn't real because he really put in a good performance in this ep. Except for his last words being about not being able to have lunch with Bashir. Kinda cheesy.

    I don't have any problem with the simulation because we learn later that the founders are very meticulous and slow in conquering the galaxy. They send spys into the the alpha quadrant for extended periods of time to gather info. They steal peoples identitys in starfleet and the klingon empire repeatedly. I think some fans didn't like it because other shows and movies have done something similar where nothing was real and they felt cheated but this is what the founders do. And it worked. They gathered a lot of info about the people who stand at the gateway they will need to travel through to force their order in the whole of the Milky Way

    "I think some fans didn't like it because other shows and movies have done something similar where nothing was real and they felt cheated"

    I think the difference here is that while the simulation wasn't real and a whole heck of a lot of things got reset buttoned, a whole heck of a lot DID happen and there are plenty of un-reset consequences to deal with.

    Season 2 ended with a Vorta spy trying to get into the Alpha Quadrant and this :

    "TALAK'TALAN: Coming through the anomaly is interference enough. Unless you wish to continue to offend the Dominion, I suggest you stay on your side of the galaxy. "

    Ok, so that's a giant middle finger to the Federation's exploration, but it's not quite like what we find out in the Search, Part II :

    "FEMALE: Then perhaps one day I'll come visit you. The Alpha Quadrant seems wracked with chaos. It could use some order. "

    That ups the stakes tremendously. Not to mention the whole thing about the Founders being Odo's people. The only thing I am sad about is that we lost the Romulan. I understand that "watching the cloaking device" is a stupid job... but this was "pre-Worf". They could have just made her the Defiant's tactical officer. I get that she was a Romulan, but they could have explained it away. And then we would have gotten to keep the talented Martha Hackett.

    I actually like a reset button like this or "Future Imperfect" (especially when at least one person remembers the experiences they thought they had) if they're not done too often; if they're fairly rare they allow you to explore changes and scenarios a series couldn't or wouldn't do either at all or early on its run.

    I remember this episode from the 1990's commercials and all. I was a fully grown-up adult with children. I didn't think it was a cheat then nor now, I enjoyed the ending and it made it worth finding out about this Dominion and what it meant to the Federation. This was must-see TV for me and my friends. I spent many days and sometimes weeks in the Children's hospital and I had to watch what my son wanted me to watch, but when I went home to the VCR (see how long ago it was) I played catch-up. I was relieved with the ending and had something to look forward to.

    I don't recall all of the shows but this one stood out then. A few years ago, I bought my son the boxed set of DS9, now its his favorite Trek. He's 26 now.

    When I first saw this episode, I felt let down much as Jammer did. Yes, Star Trek has deceived viewers with 'fake realities' in other episodes, but I don't recall one that goes on for a whole episode before cluing in the audience that it isn't real. Generally, I think they don't go longer than one commercial break before letting us know something odd is going on.

    I agree with Nolan, above, that this episode would have played much better on first viewing if they had let the audience know something was up early in the episode. Maybe a 2 second cut to the crew sleeping in their pods with a Vorta looking at them right before the opening credits.

    It's really too bad they didn't, because it's a really good episode on rewatch. The story is about Odo & the Founders, and it's a good story.

    Major questions are answered: Where does Odo come from? Why was he alone in space? Who runs this mysterious Dominion, and what's their motivation? This episode answers all those questions and still leaves us eager to know what happens next. What's more, the answers all fit with the clues they've been dropping over the first 2 seasons. We've heard before that Changelings are a legend in the Gamma quadrant, and the legend always includes them being persecuted.

    We're also shown how the Dominion prefers to expand. It's not trying to launch a full assault straightaway, despite the fact it seems to have superior power (we don't know about superior numbers). Instead, the Founders are taking their time, studying their opponents, and seeing if "divide and conquer" will work.

    I'd probably give this episode 3 stars. If they had been upfront about the altered reality, I might have given it 3.5 stars.

    Erm. Does that mean Garak is Julian Bashir's idealized version of him? O.o? Their first conversation almost seems like it in retrospect.

    The very weird choice to have the entire Starfleet-crew (plus T'Rul) plot be a simulation has some justification: as with Eris' deception in The Jem'Hadar, the Dominion is being set up as placing big emphasis on trickery (particularly with their shapeshifting leaders) s a way to gauge and undermine their opponents. On that level, I like that the simulation essentially tells us what the Dominion is like by showing what types of events the Founders expect if they set foot into the AQ. If Sisko et al. can't stand a little random exclusion of nations, random violence against citizens, and being asked to fight wars against their neighbours, then they are probably not the type of people worth "conquering" and seem more like the type that will require special subjugation. That they bother to program in Jem'Hadar -- who, remember, are completely loyal -- accosting O'Brien more or less sets that as their baseline: they want people to be willing to put up with random, pointless bullying without a fight. That Sisko rebels against this, and that people even tell him that the "peace" that is created is his fault, plays out like a mini-version of his arc up to Call to Arms, with the moral being that even making peace overtures is stupid appeasement which will eventually lead to everyone you love being threatened. Which, more on that argument at a later time, maybe.

    I think the reason that the simulation is more frustrating to me in this episode than in, say, Future Imperfect or Frame of Mind, is that the key thing is that Riker works his way out of those simulations. Frame of Mind is *about* questioning reality from start to finish, in different ways. Future Imperfect, with its weird fake-peace that is somehow lightly unsettling, is the closest analogue. But the episode is mostly about Riker finding himself out of place and out of time, and eventually finding the reason why -- a reason which turns out to resonate with Riker's own experience (Barash being an orphan like Riker was). Future Imperfect would hardly be satisfying if essentially Riker spent the whole time debating the merits of the treaty with Tomalak without ever guessing that there is something wrong with this picture, and then Data or whoever happened to unplug him at the end and reveal that it was fake. Sisko et al. are left completely passive, and their actions of rebellion come to naught -- which may be the point, except, well, that we don't even get their reaction once they get out of the simulation, besides momentary confusion. It really would be a lot more satisfying for Sisko et al. to figure things out themselves, too, especially since keeping in the dark leads them to ignoring key facts (e.g. not bothering to wonder where Kira and Odo are after the first couple of minutes).

    The big problem with playing out this big simulation as part two of this two-parter is that it distracts from the fact that the whole point of them going to the GQ in the first place was to talk to the Founders and try to communicate to them about peace, and so when they wake up, dazed from being inside a simulation, it is pretty counterproductive that Odo just shoves them off on the Defiant with words about how he'll explain later, and there is no real chance for them to say much else. It's not really that I expect the Founders are going to respond well to peace overtures, because they clearly aren't, but it does also mean that this episode does indeed end with Sisko et al. knowing the location of the Founders' homeworld and how to talk to them, but...WITHOUT any of that whole talking thing happening now or for quite a while. It sidesteps, and the simulation forms a substitute for the dramatic question of what trying to avoid war with the Dominion would actually be like. For that matter, given that it ends with the collapsing of the wormhole, it should be clear that collapsing the wormhole *should* be on the table as an option, starting now, and I can't quite remember when it is brought up again as an option. What this episode lacks, I guess, is a scene between Sisko and the Dominion leader, given that he is *right there*.

    The stronger story here is the Odo and Kira material, obviously. I like that Kira is torn between being supportive of Odo and going to defy orders to look for Sisko and to follow her suspicions that all is not as it seems with the Founders. The character work for Odo over the rest of the series will do quite a lot with what the Link means, so I don't really need to talk about all of it here, but I do like that the temptation that is dangled before Odo of *THE LINK* is the ultimate answer to Odo's feelings of loneliness. I like, too, that Odo's somewhat restricted, imagination-deprived view of what his shapeshifting can mean is challenged. One irony is that for all the Female Shapeshifter's concerns that Odo's time in the solids has ruined him, his time as a solid really *has* brought him some understanding for what it means to be a humanoid, on a much deeper level perhaps than the "what it's like to be a rock" type of thing that the FS instructs him in. She seems to get the idea of empathy without the essence of it. The somewhat isolating way they treat Odo, insisting he train alone for hours at a time before he can pass their test when they have caused is misery by setting him off as an orphan to spend centuries by himself, further indicates the moral rot at the core of the Founder philosophy, which they remain unaware of.

    Anyway, the dialogue at the end as Odo rushes off and the Female Shapeshifter explains why they need to subjugate the galaxy does bring up some interesting points, most of all the idea (to be explored later) that Odo's desire for justice is actually his instinctive desire for order, instead -- which is an awesome choice for the character. However, the dialogue is so rushed that there is little chance to examine these ideas, either to try to get through to her that subjugating the galaxy is not necessary or desirable or for Odo to express his inner conflict. Fortunately, as with the other plot (with the simulation), the frustrating and rushed non-ending is not truly the end of the story, and Odo's division between His People and those humanoids he cares about remains.

    A low 2 stars is probably fair.

    William B: "Sisko et al. are left completely passive, and their actions of rebellion come to naught..."

    Right there, you may have put your finger on why I never liked this episode. At least, you've elaborated on what Jammer said "torpedoed" the story. Actually, I wasn't liking this episode even before the twist ending, so that can't be it. I dunno; I should rewatch Season 3 just for this.

    Tangentially, one other thing:
    "(Barash being an orphan like Riker was)"

    Riker had a tense relationship with his father, but I didn't think he was dead to him!

    @Grumpy, Yeah, I should say that the simulation was weird and disappointing while it was going on, so I don't know what to say about that. The ending is pretty bad but the first few acts get harder and harder to take, so I am not sure what to say about it.

    And ha, for some reason while writing that I was thinking you could use "orphan" to describe any child who has lost a parent, even if the other parent is still alive, which now that I think about it is clearly wrong. My brain just slipped, I guess!

    I completely agree with your review Jammer. It is as if the writers did not know what to do after the Defiant was captured and Odo met his specie and fell back on lazy plotting. I would also like to add that you see the 'twist' coming really early, as soon as O' Brian and Dax reappear. It is also a typical Trek plot trope, the whole ''Ship in a Bottle'' - false continuity - thing.

    Oh, a rewatch did little to clarify my dislike for this episode (especially compared to my very positive reaction to the season premiere). What steered me wrong, I suppose, was the jarring transition to the (phony) Dominion treaty. After my "wait, what?" reaction, I couldn't re-engage.

    Despite that too-swift plot movement, much of the story has little going on. Ooh! Nacheyev, Jake, and Quark think the Dominion is just great. Ooh! Kira can't get her radio to work! Yawn. When the big revelations arrived, I no longer cared.

    Not a big fan of the "it was all a dream" way out in this one. There are circumstances it can work, but as a climax to a big 3 parter? Not so much. Nevertheless, it moves along quickly, and until the conclusion reveals it wasn't real the feel of events spinning out of control did was nicely done.

    Of course the real meat of the episode is Odo, and again that is handled well. As I read somewhere else - "he finally gets his greatest wish, to find his people, and they turn out to be assholes". That Odo's sense of justice prevails is this episode's real conclusion. 2.5 stars.

    I don't see why it's a valid criticism to say that we know that certain characters won't die or Sisko won't blow up the wormhole, because they are fundamental to the series. Did we know that Tasha Yar wouldn't die in TNG because she was a main character? Did we know that 7 of 9 wouldn't become part of the Voyager crew because she wasn't a regular?

    I would hate to watch TV shows in a way which predicts events based on production decisions, in the way Jammer seems to do. It not only ruins the enjoyment but doesn't reflect the times that this has happened before, even on something as predictable as Star Trek.

    Actally, Odo is set up to leave the show in part 1 where he loses his position and resigns. I almost wonder if that was the original plan.

    This episode basically leaves the Dominion as not really an immediate threat any more, making all investment in the past three episodes completely worthless.

    This was definitely a step back from "The Jem'Hadar" and "The Search, Part I". Jammer is absolutely right that the ending is nothing but a total cop-out. Even given that, however, the simulation of the A-plot really does feel off. Jammer seems to think it's not until the "death" of Garak that things start to feel iffy. For me, it starts well before that. The scene where Sisko learns that the Federation is going to withdraw from the Bajoran sector is where I think it all starts to unravel. I'm genre-savvy enough to know that this must be some kind of holodeck or mind-control thing at that point.

    But, even before that, the simulation still feels off - almost right from the moment they arrive back on the station. The A-plot expects us to believe that a truly tremendous amount change is happening, that the status quo is begin altered a mind-boggling amount. Now, I love it when the status quo is shaken up. The shake-up that happens in "By Inferno's Light", where an interstellar geopolitical bombshell is dropped on the Alpha Quadrant (in the teaser!!) is one of my favorite moments of the entire series. But come on, this is still Star Trek. Even DS9, which is much more comfortable altering the status quo than the other shows, wasn't going to alter things this much. We have a possible new alliance with the Dominion, the very real threat of war with the Romulans, Starfleet abandoning Bajor and the Wormhole, Bajor turning on the Federation in alliance with the Romulans, Dax being transferred away, Sisko being promoted, Garak being killed, the Wormhole being collapsed and Kira and Odo trapped in the Gamma Quadrant - in one episode! Did anybody honestly think all this would be real?

    The Odo/Founders story is really the stronger of the two plot-lines. But even then, Jammer is right that it really feels like a let-down after the build-up in Part I. Aside from some nice character interactions between Odo and Kira, not much really happens. The only truly stand-out scene is when All Is Revealed (TM). For a scene that's basically nothing more than a huge exposition dump, it's remarkably riveting. That is thanks, no doubt, to Auberjonois' and Jens' chemistry together and to a lesser extent Visitor's performance.

    Nothing about "The Search, Part II" is bad, but the ending definitely keeps it from being good. I am, however, going to award a +1 bonus point to the score for the awesome scene of Subcommander T'Rul's "death" in the simulation. Her getting shot in the back and falling into Sisko's arms only for him to just toss her dead body off to Garak while he immediately starts kicking ass, leaving Garak standing there absolutely dumbfounded holding the poor woman's body, is a scene I could watch over and over again.


    @Luke - As a Kira/Odo fan I must say my favorite scene is the last one where she presses his comm badge. Something very intimate about it and I really liked it. It was all body language, but he's crushed and she's there for him and it's very sweet.

    I can see why some say the ending is a cop-out but it does make sense as to why so much weird stuff was going on in this episode like the hurried treaty, how Dax/O'Brien just pop up, and wondering what happened to Sisko/Bashir after the Defiant got pounded. It was all a simulation but it shows the Dominion's capabilities to toy with Sisko et al. I'm actually fairly satisfied with the ending.

    There are some good moments like Garak/Sisko's conversation where they hush-hush-wink-wink to start a revolt. Also Kira/Odo at the end.

    Getting the back-story on Odo and understanding how the shapeshifters operate and that they're the leaders of the Dominion was a cool twist. Yes, it becomes clear that Odo won't stay but that his people are the Founders should set up for some inner demons with whatever this "link" is. I did think the part about Odo experiencing things as a shapeshifter was slow and I kept waiting for it to switch to the other plot about what's going on on DS9.

    I think JC's comment about the Dominion not appearing to be a threat anymore does undermine the 3 episodes - they certainly don't appear to be the villains the Borg were in TNG and as I watch these episodes for the 1st time that's disappointing. So I'm waiting to see where DS9 goes with the Dominion now. Certainly the Dominion seem to have greater capabilities than the typical UFP races.

    For me, this was a solid 2-parter. I did prefer the 1st part slightly but I'd still rate this 2nd part as 3 stars out of 4.

    Unlike apparently everyone, I thought this was a better episode than Part One. From the moment Dax and O'Brien came back to the shuttlecraft, I KNEW something was very off. We had seen an unknown being observing them while they were trying to hack the Jem'Hadar computer, but then they suddenly appear on the shuttle just fine?

    So during the entire episode, I had been primed to know something wasn't right, and everything else on the simulated DS 9 station supported my assumption that something was very off--I just wasn't sure what it was. At first I had thought Dax and O'Brien were actually Jem'Hadar in disguise, then Admiral Nechayev's reckless disregard of the Romulans made me think it might be a holographic simulation--so I wasn't at all surprised when it turned out to be a test by the founders. So does that mean I'm smarter than all y'all? lol

    I am also very relieved that the Dominion turned out to be who they were. In the last episode, I was afraid they were just going to be some warlike conquerors and we were going to get a lot of stupid battles. The way it is presented, with the changelings becoming autocratic out of fear (and their associated desire for power) I think is very good and offers much more potentially-rewarding story lines than I had suspected might be coming.

    I was very moved that Odo immediately turned his back on them even after having a union (is that their sex?) with the female changeling. Odo's world was really cool--I liked all the scenes there. His developing friendship with Kira is wonderful.

    I'd give this one 3.5, part one a 3. I am not so scared of the Dominion now.

    2 stars

    I hate it all happened in their heads episode. They can do anything and wave their hand and undo it. So I was very disappointed on this episode--not only with the experiment plot but with the reveal that the Fpinders were the Changelings. I expected something with more of a "WOW!" Factor. Ultimately over the seasons as things progressed I came to like the Reveal but at the time of this episode I didn't like it

    I was never a fan of the "it was all a dream it didn't really happen" twist. Anyone remember "Dallas?"

    So, the founders are ok, when
    -their planet's location is known to their enemies, that possess stealth technology
    -them being the founders is known to their enemies
    -access to their biochemistry is possible through Odo.
    -they placed their prisoners right next to Odo and Kira, out of an entire planet.
    -they didn't lock the door better
    -they didn't bother monitoring the activity of Solid Kira (through a flying bird perhaps, or an insect)
    -they allowed Odo and Kira through the door, instead of saying sth like "only after the Link can you have access to all our secrets"

    They seem very dumb and unconcerned about security. For a race that wants to dominate all existence out of fear for solids.

    And, how convenient, that a wormhole to Delta exits so near to the Founders planet, dominating all Delta.

    Up to now, DS9 was a very intelligent show. I'm afraid the stupidity begins...


    First off, I think you mean gamma quadrant (this isn't Voyager, please don't associate the two!). Also, I felt like I could hand-wave many of those problems because the Founders implicitly trusted Odo and wanted to make him feel like he was an equal or near equal, by allowing him access. Obviously, the security door was meant to keep out "solids".

    Sure they can hand-wave all security issues out of trust and sentimentality, like a dumb unconcerned race.
    They are presented as sth else, though. Hence my objections.

    The Founders' fondness and trust for Odo often undermines their own schemes throughout the series, so it's actually really important that it's presented here.

    Its very funny. After all these years I didn't remember that the founders exploited the security threat to set a trap (Episode 3.21 - The die is cast)
    But the information must have been inside my head, so I expressed exactly what is in the episode:
    -their planet's location is known to their enemies, that possess stealth technology
    -them being the founders is known to their enemies
    -access to their biochemistry is possible through Odo.

    I stand corrected and retract my statement.

    Chrome, is there ANYTHING about Trek you won't come riding in to defend, despite how preposterous you sound? Just accept that bad writing exists and that this episode is choc full of it.


    Care to discuss anything specific? I was defending a specific point of this episode, but it's certainly not an episode without flaws, as Jammer points out.

    The Founders' fondness and trust for Odo often undermines their own schemes throughout the series, so it's actually really important that it's presented here.

    You can make that argument, but it in no way at all refutes the lack of logic in this episode. The numerous things mentioned in this thread. Also, I'd argue that the Dominion was continually retconned throughout the show to create various contrivances. "Oh, we can't do X, cause of Odo!" "Oh, we'll behave like megalomaniacs and conquerors... but not in this one case... because of Odo!"

    I think far from it being consistent and making sense, it's quite the opposite.

    The Dominion was retconned several times (especially the Vorta), but I can't think of the Founders' (as in the other shapeshifters seen here) treatment of Odo ever being retconned.

    This wasn't a great way to follow-up to a pretty good Part I. The pacing, focus of the 2nd part was very different from the riveting action of the 1st part and it wasn't anywhere near as compelling. But it's not a bad episode on its own.

    Starts out rather abruptly with the whole treaty BS -- which felt off. But even if this was a simulation by the Founders to see how the Federation would respond to the Dominion -- a worthy and elaborate endeavor -- it really leaves so many WTFs as an immediate continuation to where Part I left off. Why would the Founders want to exclude the Romulans from the treaty in their test of Sisko etc.?

    The part with Odo experiencing shape shifting and trying to learn about what he shifts into -- didn't work for me. So he's supposed to be learning about who he is -- we'll just have to take the writers' word for it. If it is to give him more reason to join the link, that gets scuppered in the end anyway.

    The episode does set out the Founders' goal -- to impose order on a chaotic universe -- and how Odo dislikes this. But to get their backstory (once they were hunted/killed etc.) and now they are getting back at the solids...OK, a bit extreme for such an advanced race. Not quite as promising an enemy to the Federation as the Borg were, but not bad by any stretch. We understand their motivation.

    Re-rating "The Search, Part II" to 2.5 stars. Somewhat of a shame that most of the episode is a simulation so all this treaty stuff never happened and those dynamics between Sisko and the admiral etc. are all for nought. Really pushes the envelope with what the Dominion are capable of and the "The Search" establishes the Dominion as an intriguing antagonist, so in a sense it's mission accomplished.

    And so Season 3 begins. The results are impressive, but flawed. It's clearly aiming to be a second pilot, and in some ways is very exciting and compelling. Unfortunately, awkward pacing and structure hold back both episodes a fair amount.

    3 stars each.

    Teaser : ***, 5%

    As happens occasionally on this show, the designers seem to forget that Odo's appearance as a humanoid is something he intentionally contrives in order to mimic the appearance of Dr Mora—he can't quite master facial features, but otherwise he makes himself look like a caucasian Bajoran male. I want to be generous and say that the founders who emerge to meet Odo are mimicking *his* appearance by copying his not-quite-formed face, but the clothes give it away (why don't they replicate his uniform, too?). Unfortunately, this is a case of the writers treating Odo's appearance as your typical bumpy forehead, so that we, the dullards in the audience, know that they're Changelings like Odo. Moving on...

    The Changeling with lines—whom I know the wikis and things refer to as “The Female Changeling,” but I hate that for a number of reasons, so I'm going to call her Resusci Anne—fills Odo in on some of his own back story. We learn that the living sea is called the Great Link, a kind of telepathic-morphogenic-orgiastic commune of Changelings. Resusci Anne informs him that his previous, lonely life, having been sent away in his infancy, is over now that he has come home. She links with him partially and Odo is overwhelmed with the joy at his homecoming.

    Act 1 : ***, 17%

    Meanwhile, Sisko and Bashir are together on *another* shuttle that somehow fit onto the Defiant. But there's some good news. Dax and O'Brien rescue the pair and inform them that many “big things” have been happening on DS9 in the days since the crew abandoned ship.

    On the Goo Planet, it's been a few hours since Odo and Kira landed. Hrm... Resusci Anne confirms Kira's suspicion that the Changelings do not trust her or any “solids” as she calls them. Odo's previous elation is slowly giving way to his more familiar personality (grouchy and suspicious). When Anne refuses to allow Kira to try and hail Sisko and co., Odo cuts in to assuage her and cue Kira in to his strategy, so she backs down.

    FEMALE: To become a thing is to know a thing. To assume its form is to begin to understand its existence.

    This line certainly paints the Changelings as lofty explorers, not unlike the Federation, or perhaps more closely, the Cytherians from “The Nth Degree.” Her condescending smugness is something else, however. She hands him a rock and tells him to begin his journey to the Great Link. Kira decides to try and make contact from the shuttle, with some technobabble camouflage.

    Sisko returns to DS9 only to be greeted by that pain in the ass Admiral Necheyev. It seems Sisko's mission was great success. When Dax and O'Brien were captured, they were handed over to the Founders and easily convinced them that Federation sought peace. So the Founders have already sent a delegation to DS9 to meet with various Alpha Quadrant powers.

    Sisko is introduced to Borath, a Vorta like Eris. Turns out they are the Founders. Well that's underwhelming. Borath assures him that an alliance between the Federation and Dominion will be very beneficial. And we should definitely believe him, I mean those act-closing chords of doom are definitely not to be trusted. So, the episode obviously doesn't want us to believe whatever charade is going on. The skepticism is in the score, in the dialogue. But what exactly the deception is remains a mystery.

    Act 2 : ***, 17%

    An exuberant Garak greets Bashir, playing a little too easily into the caricature version of himself Bashir projects onto him, making casual and playful references to his history as a spy, expressing genuine interest in Bashir's wellbeing. The pair run into Ja Rule, who informs them that Romulus has been excluded from the peace talks with the Dominion. For what possible reason, we can only speculate.

    Meanwhile, I guess, Kira is failing to get her signal to Sisko due to some sort of interference from a subterranean power source. Odo is also frustrated with the fact that heeding Resusci Anne's advice and assuming the forms of garden gnomes and acorns hasn't led him to any philosophical epiphanies.

    On DS9, Sisko calls for a meeting with Necheyev to ask about why the Romulans have been left out of the talks. Even for her, this response is psychopathic:

    NECHAYEV: Commander, if this treaty is signed, and I'm confident it will be, we'll never have to worry about the Romulans again.
    SISKO: Are you sure of that?
    NECHAYEV: Quite sure. After all, what chance would they have against the combined power of our new alliance?

    I will grant the episode this much; Necheyev has been the voice of unethical pragmatism in nearly all of her appearances on Trek (let's just ignore “The Maquis” stuff for now). So putting the lines in her mouth, about the Federation gleefully accepting an alliance with another superpower simply because it is militarily powerful enough to defeat their enemies, almost rings true. It reminds us somewhat of her attitude in “Descent.”

    Odo is having a conversation with Anne. She continues to portray the Changelings as a culture which began very much like the Federation, exploring for exploration's sake. In peace. She claims that violent prejudice from the solids led them to become isolationists. Odo was one of 100 infant Changelings sent out to explore, and genetically engineered to desire to return home. If I understand correctly, Odo's instincts would kick in the closer he got to the Goo Planet, which was supposed to take several hundred years (I guess the Changelings sent their babies to warp-capable species only). Because of the wormhole, Odo's instincts kicked in far ahead of schedule. This still doesn't explain why this is happening only now and not any of the previous times Odo has been in the Gamma Quadrant. When Odo expresses some concern over how his homecoming hasn't quite measured up to his expectations, Anne links with him again. Man, what a horndog.

    Act 3 : ***, 17%

    Kira decides to go looking for the mysterious power source, informing all of the rocks and trees in the garden in case one of them happens to be Odo. It's a little disconcerting that she entertains the idea that Odo would be so wrapped up in his task that he would ignore her like this. She discovers a large metal door that she is unable to scan beyond.

    On DS9, Quark is making his own over-stated case for Dominion membership, claiming the Jem'Hadar are addictive gamblers. He parodies Martin Luther King Jr, rather clumsily, and not particularly funnily. But then, a distressed Jem'Hadar attacks O'Brien and Bashir. Eddington's only response is to warn Bashir to give the Jem'Hadar all the leeway they want.

    Meanwhile, Sisko is “preöcccupied” with how the negotiations are going. He expresses to Jake his frustration with being “out of the loop.” Dax interrupts to inform him that she's being transferred, just as Bashir calls to talk to him about his “brawl” with the Jem'Hadar.

    Jump cut and Sisko is screaming at Necheyev and Borath, demanding an explanation for all the odd behaviour (and rightly so, for once). They inform him that the Dominion is taking over control of the station, of Bajor and the wormhole. They way they verbally taunt him is a little cartoonish, but still very disquieting.

    Act 4 : **, 17%

    Odo seems, finally, to have had his epiphany when he stopped imitating rocks and started imitating birds. Okay then... Kira concedes that Odo will be staying with his people. But first, she wants his help in deciphering the mysterious door.

    On DS9, Garak is being odd with Sisko, complimenting his management of the station. I allege that this is the point at which we know for certain that this isn't really Garak. He says aloud what Sisko must be thinking, that their leaders “have gone insane.” They seem to be feeling each other out for a possible insurrection when Ja Rule screams for Sisko and gets shot by a Jem'Hadar, dying in his arms. He's arrested, but just as quickly, Dax, Bashir and Garak bust him out. They are going to steal a runabout and collapse the wormhole. This all feels pretty implausible, and the smirks on everyone's faces (not to mention that action movie banter) really undermines the seriousness of the situation. Too bad.

    Act 5 : **.5, 17%

    Just as in “The Jem'Hadar,” the plot hinges on a mysterious lock. I guess Odo should have been nicer to Quark on the Defiant and brought him along on this little vacation. Odo begins to use his goo powers to jail-break the locked door.

    Meanwhile, Garak is gunned down on our heroes' way to the runabout. Yeah, sure. They make it aboard and destroy the wormhole with photon torpedoes.

    Odo is successful, and a couple of Jem'Hadar greet the pair. They are led to a laboratory where Borath has the remaining Defiant crew hooked up to a simulator. In case we haven't figured it out, he explains that the Dominion has been testing the Alpha Quadrant's resolve against Dominion dominion. Specifically, he wanted to know what the breaking point might be before war would be risked. This makes some sense, then. Ja Rule, for example, as a representative of Romulus, is treated dismissively, which is a direct attack on the Romulan ego. O'Brien, who will mostly stay out of your business if you stay out of his, is roughed up for failing to cow to Jem'Hadar bullies. Sisko loses Dax and Bajor, only to be granted a rather vacuous promotion. But that reasoning only carries things so far. More on that in the conclusion.

    Resusci Anne reveals that the Changelings themselves are actually the Founders. She explains to Odo that “what you can control can't hurt you.” The Founders impose order upon the galaxy in order to protect themselves. Further, what Odo had always interpreted as a natural bent towards pursuing justice is actually an hereditary (or possibly genetically-engineered) desire for order. We have to assume that the Founders' intent was to slowly brainwash Odo into adopting their philosophy before revealing their political machinations, but Kira's interference ends up thwarting their plan. So, Odo chooses to remain with the solids. Anne reveals another piece of the Founders' mode of being, that Changelings do not harm one another. So, when Odo links his fate to theirs (get it?), she releases them all without hesitation. The preservation of Changeling-kind is more important that Borath's experiments, than punishing the solids, than maintaining the Goo planet's security, than anything else, really.

    This is interesting stuff, but Odo's decision to stay with his “link” comes out of left field. He spent all of part I acting totally aloof, abandoning these very same people to their doom just so he could fulfil his instinct for home. I suppose you could argue that he feels guilty about it, but we haven't seen any evidence for this.

    The crew are awoken and beamed back to the Defiant, which seems almost comically easy given how banged up everybody was in part I. Anne and Odo have a final conversation, where she promises to impose order on the AQ, eventually. The final bit where Kira holds Odo's hand, as Anne had done when she linked with him, is a great touch, and a lovely foreshadowing of where their relationship will lead.

    Episode as Functionary : **.5, 10%

    The plot moves so quickly that the character problems are a little difficult to grasp in the moment. Odo, for example, is told that he needs to study shapeshifting on his own in order to reach the epiphany he needs to join the Link. He's frustrated that he can't seem to figure it out, so Resusci Anne links with him. Next thing you know, he's literally flying around, exhilarated. So, what the hell? What about all that stuff in part I with him being replaced by Eddington? They really needed to have thought through the arc for this story better. The concluding material with Odo is really interesting, but it doesn't flow naturally from where he began this story, and *those* issues are just swept under the rug. You can very flimsily argue that, in the end, Odo's presence is what saves the Defiant crew from being experimented on and probably executed, but really, I think that credit goes to Kira. Speaking of which, while the final moment between her and Odo is nice, it doesn't feel earned considering how deeply he betrayed her and the crew in part I. She just kind of forgives him off screen and we don't talk about it again.

    The character threads for Sisko are essentially non-existent here. Yes, he is offered that promotion that he said he didn't actually want in part I, but that really just makes Borath's programme seem all the more inept. If you're going to offer the carrot, it should be something your subject actually would want, right?

    It is also very odd, given how important it was in part I, that we don't even see the Defiant here. Wasn't it all but destroyed?

    One is invited to draw comparisons between the Dominion and the Borg. Both are aggressive cultures which subjugate aliens in order to achieve a fascistic purity. But while the Borg are driven by logic, divorced from compassion or any other emotion, the Dominion's motivation is almost entirely emotional. Being so long-lived, each Changeling in the Link brings with it very personal memories of abuse from solids, which become amplified and exaggerated in their group think goo orgy, kind of like an internet comment section ;).

    On the production side, I have to say that Borath is pretty horribly performed, but Salome Jens at least manages to balance the extreme arrogance and self-righteousness of her character with a believable sense of compassion for Odo. One gets the sense that her calm, measured demeanour is a very practised front for the extreme emotions of hatred, racism and superiority complexes which have developed in her people. In her conversations with Kira, for example, I could picture her strangling the Major at any moment, but she maintains this air of aloofness.

    I actually think there's more good stuff in here than in part I, but because it doesn't wrap up the lingering issues in a satisfying way, choosing instead to emphasise other ideas, the story feels confusing and kind of weak. The ominous tone of the opening acts clearly telegraphs that we are not meant to buy the deception, so I don't find the reveal to be problematic for that reason. The episode really didn't have time for Sisko and co. to work out the deception which, as William B noted, robs them of their agency. This is really more a failure in part I. I think the conclusions of part II work, but feel un-earned because we wasted so much time on meaningless bullshit the previous week. Regardless, the episode does successfully set up this new threat to DS9 and the Federation, albeit rather clumsily.

    Final Score : **.5

    I have no qualms with the ending. But it is striking how disrespectfully the Vorta (Let’s call him “Joey”) treats Odo. After all, this is not in keeping with how Weyoun treats him most of the time.

    Watching and commenting:

    - Odo at home, experiencing "the Link." Seems like a literal interpretation of the whole "bonding/teamwork" idea we've been getting.

    --Bashir and Sisko, hanging by a thread. Pointing the phasers, but, look! It's friends.

    --What? Founders found too easily, being cooperative for no reason, conquerers claiming they felt all threatened by a few Gamma quadrant incursions from the Federation, none of this makes sense.

    -- Very worrisome that Garak is the only one making sense.

    --Very slow moving.

    --Quark tells us the Jem' Hadar like to gamble. Hmm.

    --This suspicious evil behavior from the Admiral and the Founder and the Jem' Hadar is kinda over the top.

    --Several references to surprises. I guess we're going to have one?

    --That's some pretty quick decision-making to become traitors to the Federation.

    --This "they're all having a dream" is a lame surprise. "The changlings are the Founders, are the Dominion," that's a better surprise.

    --I like that they have a ship now. Should make for more story opportunities.

    --Interesting times ahead for Odo, I suspect.

    I agree with Jammer's review almost 100%, though I felt there were some oddly stilted performances from much of the cast here, especially Dax (her "I know you" photon torpedo scene really lands with a thud), Bashir (his attempt at indignation in the bar fight scene is season 1 Bashir level hollow) and Odo ("Iiii'm hoooome" .... "I was a vuuultureeee, wheeeeeee" * stoned grandpa face * ).

    Maybe Frakes finding his feet, maybe everyone still in a holiday mentality at the start of a new series, I'm not sure. In a way it added to the unreality aspect, but even that doesn't make sense as a deliberate choice as Odo wasn't in the sim, and everyone else's consciousnesses were still the same.

    Definitely weaker than part I and I agree about the frustrating ending. Living with the collapsed wormhole would have been interesting, though a dead Garak would have been intolerable. He's awesome!

    First time chronological watch-through of DS9 here.

    I agree that cliched "it was all just a simulation" episodes are showstoppers, especially when its not telegraphed well. However in this case, I feel it was subtly telegraphed. The big moment where I first didn't trust reality was with Dax and O'Brien conveniently showing up on Sisko's shuttle. Last we left them, they were in a security lockdown on a planet. And for that matter weren't Sisko et al. in the middle of a hand to hand fight with the Jem'Hadar?

    All these little details were kind of brushed past, and it almost felt like a dream sequence, where events happen and details are omitted and you don't really question it. Likewise everything on the AQ side of the wormhole was just happening too fast and without much introspection on the part of the Federation admiralty. It really seemed to me like the Dominion had their hand up the backside of a few of the major players. I did eventually buy into the situation around when Sisko and the crew staged their escape, only to have my initial suspicions confirmed in the final act. That definitely softened the blow of "all these important things didn't really happen" for me. Of course having the Sisko form a resistance against Vichy Starfleet, teaming up with unlikely allies and soforth would have been a fun storyline of its own, but not in dinky runabouts with the Defiant dead in space on the other side of the wormhole.

    The Federation is faced with an overwhelmingly superior adversary with easy access to the Alpha quadrant. Why the founders just let the crew go home at the end is nonsensical, because the obvious thing for the Federation to do is to blow up the wormhole. But then the series is over, isn’t it? The changeling leader says maybe she’ll visit Odo, but it is evident from the mind control bs that the crew is willing to blow up the wormhole. Yet the leader doesn’t give this a second thought because she knows that the writers can’t allow Sisco to blow up the wormhole because that would end the series. That’s the cop out and it’s why this whole plot line never should have started.

    Whether it was intentional or not, the scene when Bashir/Sisko and Dax/O'Brien were reunited felt a bit off to me - it was the big grins and everybody seeming just strangely light-hearted, but I can't quite put my finger on exactly *why* or really justify it. If it was intentional, well done to them giving a subtle tip-off. If it wasn't ... heh, maybe a happy accident? After that everything seemed to be happening too quickly with our main characters almost a bit out of the loop, so I was wondering what the twist was right up until the reveal.

    I don't feel the "just a dream" ending is THAT bad (certainly not "drop to two stars" bad -- I'd give this a solid three). I enjoyed what I watched when I was watching it, and even in hindsight I enjoyed seeing what they did. I'll admit, though, that the penny dropped a little later for me (when Garak was shot my thoughts weren't "okay, none of this is real" but "he's 'only mostly dead', I presume" -- I only really twigged once they blew up the wormhole). And like MusicalTurtle above me, I *did* feel things were a little bit too convenient to be true around the beginning, when Sisko and Bashir are miraculously rescued and negotiations are in full swing, but I guess I got lulled into believing otherwise.

    Garak's prominence here *is* strange and unfitting, given the twist. (Can't help wondering if the story was initially written to play out as real, then rewritten with the twist but without removing Garak.) In all other ways, though, Garak is wonderful, and I'm particularly fond of his scene with Sisko. The beautiful subtext: "you down for some shady shit?" "You'd better believe I'm down for some shady shit!" Points also to "I pretend to be their friend... and then I shoot you".

    I have less to say about Odo's side of things than I thought I would. "It's sweet to see him so happy", "oh boy this looks like setup for some painfully divided loyalties for him", and also "so was that goopsex he was doing there with the lady one or what". Regardless, interested to see where this goes.

    Also: I don't think we've ever seen Garak playing a role in the main ensemble before this (he's generally only had interactions with one main character at a time, usually the "dear Doctor"). It's a fun dynamic when he's helping everyone out, and I'd love to see more of that.

    I don't remember being so impressed with these two episodes - especially the second part - even though this is my fourth re-watch*. Odo's story really hit me hard - it's pretty unusual for me to be shedding a tear before the opening credits! I'm not sure what to say about the complaints about the simulation; I thought that it was obvious that either most of the people involved were shapeshifters, or they were on a Holodeck. Having just finished re-watching Voyager*, I'm pretty unfazed when story turns out to be in a Holodeck.

    My only nitpick is the condition of the Defiant. It was in orbit? On a hidden planet? And in working condition? Didn't add up.

    Definitely a fun, intense and emotionally engaging science fiction story. It's been over a decade since I watched DS9, and I'm really excited.

    *I have to confess to skipping most of the season 1 & 2 episodes. I don't know why the writing is so inane on early Trek seasons. BSG certainly had no issue getting off to a running start.

    Everyone agrees that "The Search, Part 1" is pretty great, but "Part 2" seems hated by many. I've always found them equally excellent, primarily because I've always been annoyed by how uninterested the show is in showing the Federation negotiating with the Dominion, or gathering information on Dominion biology, beliefs, customs, alliances and history.

    You'd think news of a Galactic Superpower next door would lead to countless intelligence gathering operations, the Federation sending undercover scientists and fact-finders all over the Gamma Quadrant. You'd expect the Federation to try hard to make first contact with Dominion sub-species, and to be bending over backwards to send olive-branch teams and carefully curated data-packets, designed to the show the Federation in its best light.

    Instead, we get the "The Search". It's the only good-faith piece of Federation diplomacy with the Dominion in the series, albeit all done with a cloaked, heavily armed warship which quickly breaks into a Dominion base, hacks their property, breeches their territorial space, and quickly destroys some Dominion ships. I don't like how the writers approached the start of this arc, but it's all we get, so I tend to savor it.

    Other's have said why "The Search, Part 1" is great. The only thing I'd add is that the lighting and cinematography seems a step up from most DS9 episodes. It's cool watching the Defiant's lights drop when cloaked and hiding from the Dominion's scarab-like ships, and then dropping again when running on low power. With this two-parter, we also get more TNG aesthetics bleeding into DS9, with more LCARS panels, more gold-shirts, and the Defiant itself, with its Federation consoles and bulkheads. It's fun seeing this Federation aesthetic clash with the earth-tones of the Bajorans and the harsh metal-works of the Cardassians, DS9 like some strange sea monster surrounded now by the pristine whites of Federation ships.

    Everyone complains that "The Search, Part 2" is a "cop out" and "just a hologram" in which "nothing matters" and "no choices are important".

    But I found it a brilliantly dark and twisted episode, which not only reveals how nefarious the Dominion are, but how duplicitous the Federation are, and precisely why the Dominion make several strategic decisions later in the series.

    And so in this episode, the Dominion kidnap Sisko and the gang, hook their brains up to a kind of high-tech holodeck, and then use their personalities to model most-likely Federation responses to Dominion actions.

    We thus get several symbolic vignettes in which Federation officers are casually assaulted by the Dominion, in which Federation officers are ordered by superiors to kowtow to the Jem'hadar, in which Federation scientists are ordered out of Bajoran/Cardassian space, in which Sisko is re-stationed elsewhere, and in which the Federation, Cardassians and Dominion achieve a peaceful alliance, with the Bajorans a protectorate of the Dominion. In other words, this is the best case scenario, from a Dominion perspective, of a peaceful and conciliatory agreement. Where will this lead? The model tells the Founders clearly: Bajoran resistance movements, war with the Romulans, and a rogue Starfleet which blows up the wormhole.

    Is this a bad time for a dream episode? I'd say no. It's the perfect time for a diplomatic, fact-finding episode, and we see how twisted the Dominion's version of diplomacy is. They take their data directly from your brain.

    What's interesting, though, is that it's once again Sisko's hotheadedness that ruins what you might argue is a fairly good peace deal. Is giving up Bajor that big a deal if it means no conflict with the Dominion? The Feds have done this with the Maquis to avoid war with the Cardassians. Why not give Bajor to the Dominion in exchange for peace with the Cardies and Dominion? The Dominion have agreed to leave the Bajorans in peace, and the Romulans aren't likely to mess around with the Imperial Trifecta that is the Dominion-Federation-Cardassian Hegemon, leading to eventual peace on that front as well.

    Yes, the Dominion are evil, but the Federation has peace treaties with the Klingons, no less an exploitative and warmongering race. Surely ceding space to the Dominion is worth considering. Maybe it buys you time to tech up and build more warships. Maybe it buys you time to foster better relations. Maybe it grants you travel routes through Dominion space, and grands you exploratory rights and trade deals. Surely it saves countless billion of lives, which the subsequent war costs.

    I don't see how a Federation/Dominion/Cardassian alliance of convenience is somehow morally and tactically inferior to a Federation/Klingon/Romulan alliance. In each case, the Feds are sucking it up and siding with 2 a-holes, with the long-game hope of changing the behavior of their allies, akin to how the Federation rehabilitated the Andorians and Klingons.

    Either way, Sisko as usual screws things up. He kills some Jem'hadar, scuttles the peace plans, and tries to blow up the wormhole. In other words, Sisko's brain, and the brains of his chief officers, proves Dominion prejudices right once again. Any attempts at peace with the Federation, will lead to a breaking down of relations. The Federation will not tolerate a Dominion presence on the other side of the wormhole. The Federation want the Dominion dead. All solids eventually betray.

    What's odd is that no DS9 episode acknowledges how complicit Federation behavior, Federation pig-headedness, and Sisko's prejudices, are in influencing the Dominion's behavior. The Dominion literally engage, from this point onwards, in massive acts of subterfuge because they know, thanks to Sisko's brain, that the Federation are likely to pursue alliances with the Romulans and Klingons. They thus infiltrate the Klingon Empire, ally with the Cardies, and begin manipulating the Romulans. Such divide-and-conquer thinking begins with this episode, everything foreshadowed to an extent.

    The Federation might suck at gathering data on the Dominion, but the Dominion - so twisted and nefarious - have been planning for decades, and have already begun modelling Federation responses and counter responses. And all because the Dominion looked inside some Federation brain. It's quite cool. (I blame Miles' brain. If they had brain-sucked Dax and Odo we'd be have centuries of peace).

    What's also cool is that Sisko decides to blow up the worm hole. After all, if the Dominion is as bad as he believes it is, and if allowing them to expand across the wormhole is intolerable, then logically the wormhole should be blown up or surrounded by massive levels of Federation defenses. It's just obvious. Why then, after this episode, does the Federation not seriously pursue this plan? Sisko's brain is telling him to do this at the start of Season 3, but it takes countless more episodes before this is even considered and put into practice. This doesn't make sense.

    Some complain that the "all in the head" aspect of this episode is cheap, but I think it rewards rewatches, and always plays fair. You know something's not right the moment Dax and Miles peer through those shuttle doors. You know something's off when you realize there are no establishing shots of DS9.

    Then there's Quark's "I HAVE A DREAM!" speech and Garak's various comments - "I wouldn't DREAM of opposing the wishes of the Central Command!" - all of which highlight the dreamlike nature of the episode. Later a Founder says "To become a thing is to know a thing. To assume its form is to begin to understand its existence", a line which refers not only to Odo, who is trying to mimic objects, but the Dominion holo-device, which models Federation "things" in an attempt to "know and understand its existence".

    It's also telling that the Federation brains simulate Garak, and use him to symbolize their unconscious yearnings. Garak, the agent trapped behind enemy lines, hounded by his own people, and at the heart of the enemy, becomes Sisko's metaphor for himself as a Federation officer at peace with the Dominion. And it is Garak who spurs Sisko to espionage and inspires Sisko to blow up the wormhole.

    This episode also serves as a First Contact tale between the Federation and the Changelings. In this half of the story, Odo lands on a desolate planet, meets the shapeshifters and learns about them. The first few times I saw this episode I hated this stuff, and the hokey special effects and sets, but it plays well for me now.

    Turn up the volume, and the Changeling planet has a nice, eerie, mysterious ambiance: a quiet planet, no technology, no lights, just a infinite ocean of goo, and a lonely island, bathed in shadow and lit by a soft moon, the entire planet silent but for the gentle, mocking, chuckling sound of little moon-lit waves lapping. If you overlook some of the dodgy FX, it's so eerily tranquil. All this evil, emanating from a peaceful pond. All this power, projected from something so relaxing.

    The revelation that the Changelings are the bad guys, and that they've been relentlessly persecuted throughout history, is also super dramatic. There's also something unnerving about the Female Changeling, who treads well the line between being kind and maternal and a demented space fascist.

    And as with the Sisko subplot, on this island we once again get our heroes betraying the Dominion. A changeling asks Kira not to communicate with outsiders and so risk revealing the location of their planet, and yet she immediately sets to work signalling the Federation.

    What you thus get is a nice model of DS9's next few seasons. An untrustful race of goo, Bajorans and Federations who conform to Dominion prejudices without knowing it, a Dominion who are expert at anticipating Federation actions, and a Federation unconcerned about anything beyond its own nose.

    One other neat detail: the Defiant is so small, that it doesn't have regular sized shuttles. It has its own little micro-shuttles. The revelation that the Defiant is packing a savage quartet of rapid-firing pulsed phasers is also impressive. The "Search 1" really sells the idea of new type (and ethos) of Federation ship.

    "Instead, we get the "The Search". It's the only good-faith piece of Federation diplomacy with the Dominion in the series, albeit all done with a cloaked, heavily armed warship which quickly breaks into a Dominion base, hacks their property, breeches their territorial space, and quickly destroys some Dominion ships."

    Haha. Trent you crack me up. Are you trying to satirize or parody yourself with this post?

    @ Jason R,

    I think Trent's post is really contingent on this premise:

    "What's interesting, though, is that it's once again Sisko's hotheadedness that ruins what you might argue is a fairly good peace deal. Is giving up Bajor that big a deal if it means no conflict with the Dominion?"

    This sort of question is really at the heart of Berman-era Trek. The fact that the answer to this question must be "yes" is why DS9 is every bit in the TNG camp as some of us argue it is. Despite DS9 painting a greyer picture where decisions aren't easy to make, it draws a clear line right in this episode in terms of what its ethics can tolerate. One thing the Federation would never allow is for another race to be bulldozed in order to gain advantage for themselves. Although although technically the Dominion is promising peace here, it comes as a completely one-sided peace where the Dominion sets the terms and will attack unless full cooperation is guaranteed. This is the same "peace" as they ever would have allowed in having anyone else cross the 'anomaly', which is to say, they will claim all of space itself and if you say anything back they will destroy you. That is not peace, it's cowering before a tyrant. Peace is a mutual agreement to desist in violence between powers of a roughly equal power level (or if the stronger side is benevolent). In the case of the Dominion they see themselves as entirely the stronger party and therefore peace with them could never be possible beyond a brief ceasefire.

    But Trent, you didn't mention the most important turn of events in Part II, and in fact the singular event that pushes Sisko into revolt: it's the betrayal of the Romulans. Oh, we might argue that they're enemies anyhow so it's no betrayal to let them fall under. And yet the fact that the episode hangs on this point is precisely why DS9 is so good: Sisko can't allow another race to be sacrificed for their gain, even an enemy. If TNG ever examined self-sacrificial ethics it certainly never went this far. This is more in the direction of The Empath in terms of one's worth coming from the extent to which one would sacrifice oneself for another. In TNG it's more often the 'bad guys' who are made to either fail or else see how wrong they are. Here, the Romulans end up being a race to rally to on principle, despite being bad guys. Now that is interesting!

    And let's face it, it's more than obvious that all the things the Federation was agreeing to were being shown to be terrifyingly one-sided and cowardly. And it should come as no surprise that the peace was being brokered by our very own Admiral Necheyev, who by this point has a historic record of always being wrong in every conversation with Picard. So bringing her in can be no accident: it was just the nail in the coffin to make the "peace treaty" look as scummy as possible. Now we would need spoilers to know just how one-sided an alliance with the Dominion would end up being, but even without knowing the rest of the series I find it hard to believe anyone would trust what the Dominion is proposing here. It's simply surrender without even defending yourself.

    So is Sisko off his rocker to go against Starfleet in this holo? A rogue? No, indeed, he's a man of honor who would sooner go renegade than allow an atrocity to happen. And Trent, I think you are mistaken about what the Dominion was testing here. It wasn't whether Starfleet could be trusted. If that was really the test then they didn't need it, because it is plain that they are objectively the most trustworthy power in the Alpha Quadrant. Testing that would be a waste of time. What the Dominion was testing was rather their values and their ability to allow themselves to be subjugated. What the test revealed is that (a) the Federation value certain principles above their own immediate advantage, and that (b) they would not tolerate being subservient to master like the Dominion. On point (b) they would later discover exactly the same thing with the Klingons, hence why they never bothered courting them in the first place. They needed 'allies' who would gladly throw other races under the bus for their own gain, like Romulans or Cardassians. The Klingons could never follow their orders, so that's out. Ultimately the Romulans are too 'predictably treacherous' to be much use to them, which left the Cardassians. The choice was actually quite logical even from what we know right at the start of the series about the various races. So this episode is where they first see to what extent the Federation are not going to be good long-term partners. Oh, they could be if actual partners is what the Dominion wanted, but that's not what they wanted. They wanted subjects and slaves, even if called by another name (including their "friends" the Bajorans).

    Trent, I know you have a general thesis about Western powers causing strife in the world and being the real cause of certain realities that are typically blamed on other 'bad guys'. I get how it's tempting to map that conceptual landscape into Trek, but IMO it really doesn't work in this setting. It is so far-fetched to frame the Federation (and Sisko in particular) as the instigators here that it makes it difficult to take any part of your analysis into my head canon. I mean, the way you describe it is clearly not the writers' intent, so at best you might be arguing that the episode was mis-written and misunderstood by the director and actors, so that they portrayed something entirely different from what they thought.

    But one thing I do agree with is that you appreciate this one as much as The Search part 1. In fact I prefer part 2, as the diplomacy and stakes are very interesting. And I also agree that it doesn't play like "all a dream" at all in terms of its real consequences. They are just not the literal consequences as appeared in the holo. Regarding Garak, I love his participation, and not only is it interesting that he ends up being the instigator for Sisko to do the right thing, but the fact that he actually comes off as so trustworthy in this context speaks volumes about the respect Sisko must have for him on some level.

    "Peace is a mutual agreement to desist in violence between powers of a roughly equal power level (or if the stronger side is benevolent)."
    What you are describing is a ceasefire. State entities who are not at war don't need peace treaties. They just start relations. States can only be at war in a legal sense if they recognize each other. That is why most peace talks (effectively) start when each side accepts the other as legitimate and if it is between states than accepts the other as a state.
    Peaceful relations between modern states are far more complex than no violence. It means official diplomatic representation, legal rules for individuals and so on.

    The Dominion is portrayed as the villain but it just acts as most European nations and the USA did during imperialism, including the racism.

    "What the Dominion was testing was rather their values and their ability to allow themselves to be subjugated. What the test revealed is that (a) the Federation value certain principles above their own immediate advantage, and that (b) they would not tolerate being subservient to master like the Dominion. On point (b) they would later discover exactly the same thing with the Klingons, hence why they never bothered courting them in the first place."
    Then why capture a commander and a few officers? Why not replace a few admirals/high politicians and find out. Why is starfleet taking the lead in making this deal anyway??? Why not a representative of the Federation?


    "What you are describing is a ceasefire."

    No, what's I'm describing is the unofficial backdrop to any real peace historically. In a nation could realistically believe it could conquer, plunder, or tax a neighbor they would. The only thing stopping them was the defensive posture of the target, as well as the various alliances, deals, and so forth. But one of the various empires was not going to actually just be nice and let a defenseless neighbor have their wealth unless there was something in it for them. What you are describing is the official mechanism of diplomacy, but what I'm talking about is what permits it to exist in the first place (i.e. mutual recognition of power). Modern states are a different kettle of fish because of three factors: (a) global interdependence in markets, and (b) nuclear weapons, and (c) the USA. I mention the USA because anytime there's a dominating superpower it will affect the relations of all other nations.

    "Then why capture a commander and a few officers? Why not replace a few admirals/high politicians and find out. Why is starfleet taking the lead in making this deal anyway??? Why not a representative of the Federation?"

    I guess because they're the stars of the show? But also there is the fact that Starfleet Captains have incredible amounts of power and discretion, and although Sisko is a Commander he is in charge of an important station, so his post is similar to Captain. I don't think it's unfair to hold Captains as an example of how Starfleet behaves generally, since they're the ones in the field and the exemplars that everyone on various worlds sees. I guess in the context of the show's story the Founders would probably also be aware of Sisko's relationship to the Bajorans and that in all likelihood he would always be commanding the station at the mouth of the wormhole, so his reactions would matter even more in the balance than other officers' would.

    "What you are describing is the official mechanism of diplomacy, but what I'm talking about is what permits it to exist in the first place (i.e. mutual recognition of power)."
    I really don't want to get to deep into international relations theory and I was talking about modern states. These things don't apply to non modern states. Your view seems to be along the lines of the realistic view of international relations (neorealism is the most current form). It basically builds on Hobbes. In short it boils down to:"People/countries are in a constant state of war and only if we hold each other at gunpoint can we maintain peace." I favor neoliberalism (not the economical system) because it can explain certain things that neorealism cannot like the EU. I'll end it before this becomes super boring. :)

    "Modern states are a different kettle of fish because of three factors: (a) global interdependence in markets, and (b) nuclear weapons, and (c) the USA. "
    I would argue that the states we see in Star Trek are even more modern. I would add regional and global institutions or just institutions to your list and don't really understand what you mean with c). That the USA is a force for peace?

    "I guess because they're the stars of the show?"
    Uh snap. :D You might be onto something. Still I always found the scenario presented laughable, what information could the founders really get. Starfleet shouldn't be involved at all. The US army doesn't make treaties with countries. It would be worrying if the military as the military would do this. This should have been done by Federation officials. Otherwise it would border on a military dictatorship. I'll probably think about it far more than I should. Or maybe the Founders are just ultra shitty in creating these scenarios. Humans?! How do they work??

    Excellent comment, Booming. Few people in the Americas (at least in my experience) look at international relations through the neoliberal lens of absolute gains. Yet that does seem like a model closer to the one Star Trek presents. DS9 tends to be mired in a 1990s neorealist view of politics which, while understandable considering the era of the writers who created it (post-WWII Baby Boomers), isn’t the best way to look at sociopolitical relations in the modern, and in this case Futuristic, era.

    I think later season deserve that criticism more than earlier ones. The whole Bajor story is a classic case of absolute gains and the application of soft power. Even in later seasons when Cardassia has it's short democratic phase the federation gives them industrial replicators (ok those are stolen but still).

    Peter said: "The fact that the answer to this question must be "yes" is why DS9 is every bit in the TNG camp as some of us argue it is. [...] it draws a clear line right in this episode in terms of what its ethics can tolerate."

    DS9 is in the camp of TNG because "the Federation refuses to give up Bajor", even though that's precisely what the Federation does?

    The Federation literally give Bajor over to the Dominion in season 6 to avoid war. Sisko helps them draw up a peace-treaty with the Dominion, setting up a situation similar to what we see in "The Search's" simulation. The Dominion thus enter the Alpha Quadrant with Bajor and Cardassia as allies and with a peace treaty with the Romulans.

    At this point, why is the Federation even still in Bajoran space? What right do they have to claim management of the wormhole? What right, at this point, do they have to mine the wormhole, the event which officially triggers the war between them and the Dominion? The Dominion just want access to the tunnel leading to their new territories. Why are the Federation still meddling? What right do they have to tell Cardassia, Bajor, the Dominion and the Romulans to not exist, unmolested, in their new, big peace treaty/Alliance? What right do they have to secretly murder Romulans to end the peace and trigger a Romulan war with the Dominion?

    In "The Search's" simulation, we see the Federation, Cardassians, Dominions and Bajorans at peace, with the Romulans on the outside. The Federation rejected this status quo in the simulation. In the real world, now knowing that the Federation won't kowtow, the Dominion forge alliances with the Romulans instead. Thus we have the Cardassians, Dominion, Romulans and Bajoras at peace, with the Federation on the outside. This, evidently, was also not tolerable to the Federation.

    Clearly the Federation don't want peace, they just don't want peace on anything but their terms. And their terms involve the Dominion not in the Alpha Quadrant, and preferably crushed in the Gamma as well.

    Okay, fine. The Dominion are bad guys. But the Federation is supposed to be an ethical, super smart organization. If your objectives are - in order of importance - to minimize suffering, to protect the Alpha Quadrant, and to prevent Alpha Quadrant powers from allying with the Dominion, then you don't behave like the Federation does in this show.

    Nothing the Federation does makes sense. You want to protect Bajor, as evident from the simulation, and not give it to the Dominion, and yet in the real world you do everything you can to ensure that the Dominion get Bajor? You don't want to gang up on the Romulans, as evident from the simulation, but you do everything in the real world to push them to side with the Dominion, and then murder them for it?

    The Federation in DS9 causes countless billions unnecessarily to die. They should have stuck to their side of the wormhole, aggressively pursued relations and forged treaties with the Cardassians, Romulans and Klingons, and parked a giant fleet at that wormhole. If you cant forge an Alpha Quadrant Alliance to take on the Dominion, collapse that wormhole ASAP.

    Peter said: "That is not peace, it's cowering before a tyrant."

    Then cower. Get down on your knees. If you're stupid enough to antagonize the Dominion for a season, whilst doing nothing to control the bottleneck which gives them access to the Alpha Quadrant, you have no right to jeopardize billions of lives to fix the worsened problems you caused.

    Peter said: "But Trent, you didn't mention the most important turn of events in Part II, and in fact the singular event that pushes Sisko into revolt: it's the betrayal of the Romulans."

    Sisko stopped the Romulans from shutting the wormhole. When the Romulans had a perfectly fine peace treaty with the Dominion, Sisko then triggered a war between them and the Dominion. Sisko doesn't care about the Romulans. Sisko, it seems, cares about cooking up the most unnecessarily tangled, and bloody, war in Federation history.

    More crucially, Sisko (or Starfleet Intelligence at the very least) should know that the Romulans only have four options. Either they so fear the Dominion that they try to blow up the wormhole (which they try). Or they deliberately hang back and hope the Dominion crush their historical enemy (which they do once their wormhole plan fails). Or they ally with the Dominion against the Feds (which they do once the Dominion cross over). Or they ally with the Feds against the Dominion. Knowing this, Sisko only has two options the moment the Romulans agree to loan a cloak. Work with the Romulans to blow the wormhole, or aggressively pursue a peace treaty with them, and if you fail, immediately blow the wormhole. Anything else leads to the Romulans as your enemy.

    Peter said: "So is Sisko off his rocker to go against Starfleet in this holo? A rogue? No, indeed, he's a man of honor who would sooner go renegade than allow an atrocity to happen."

    But that makes no sense. Sisko literally "goes rogue" by "blowing up the wormhole" in the simulation, the very thing he and the Federation repeatedly fail to do, thereby allowing the aforementioned atrocities to happen.

    Peter said: "I know you have a general thesis about Western powers causing strife in the world and being the real cause of certain realities that are typically blamed on other 'bad guys'."

    I have a thesis that the Federation in DS9 acts stupidly, tactically ineptly, and not like a far-future civilization with mountains of information at their finger tips. I think the Federation's decisions cost countless billion lives. I think the show doesn't do enough to suggest that the Federation is much different to a contemporary 20th century Imperialist. I think the Federation acts unethically in several instances (it conforms to the Dominion's prejudices from the onset), and most of the bad decisions the Federation makes in this show goes unchallenged and un-critiqued, leading to audiences to infer that certain real-world behaviors and conflicts are "inevitable", "unavoidable" and "can only be handled in certain ways". What should be a Trekkian critique of the real world behavior of "western powers", then becomes a covert endorsement of it. After all, the Federation are the Goodies. And if they can't avoid a giant bloodbath and a few false flag operations, how can we?

    Peter said: "It is so far-fetched to frame the Federation (and Sisko in particular) as the instigators here."

    The Federation was told to not cross into the Gamma Quadrant. Kira was told not to communicate from the Changeling planet, a species she knows has been repeatedly murdered by solids and so wish to remain hidden. I wouldn't call the Feds "instigators", but they're tactless and needlessly antagonistic.

    The funny thing is, everything about the war seems preordained anyway. The Wormhole Aliens impregnated Sisko's mom (Sisko's father is even called Joseph, like the Biblical tale) specifically so he'd be born a Savior and fulfill all his prophecies. And the Aliens repeatedly refer to life as a game, as though everyone's just a piece on their board.

    It's almost as though, once the show set upon the path of subverting TOS/TNG, it had no choice but to resolve its conflict via God, fate and a genocidal superweapon. Afterall, where else could it go? The absurd antithesis of Picard's intellectual flexibility is Jesus Sisko and a Predestined Space War in which everything is inevitable, so Why Try Anything Else?

    "I have a thesis that the Federation in DS9 acts stupidly, tactically ineptly, and not like a far-future civilization with mountains of information at their finger tips."
    Yeah that is pretty much on point. Strategically the Federations blunders through the entire conflict.

    " I think the show doesn't do enough to suggest that the Federation is much different to a contemporary 20th century Imperialist."
    I guarantee you imperial Germany would have blown the wormhole up or mined it to death. Realpolitik and all. So would the other imperial powers. The Federation fortifies the station but that is barely more than nothing. I guess the writers never really thought about how a great power would act in such a situation.

    "The funny thing is, everything about the war seems preordained anyway."
    I think it was a combination of flagging ratings and lack of ability. DS9 and Voyager both started very trekkish, then the ratings started to go down, so they looked up the three things male Americans love the most. In that order: Tits, war, god.
    Voyager got the tits. On the other hand DS9 had Leeta... ok so DS9 got tits, too. But Voyager took the Butt and Booby shots to a whole new level.
    Has anybody seen the clip where Marina Sirtis talks about what bra all the women had to wear. I think she calls it industrial strength push ups... :D

    Booming said: "Voyager got the tits. On the other hand DS9 had Leeta... ok so DS9 got tits, too. But Voyager took the Butt and Booby shots to a whole new level."

    DS9 also seems to take the opposite approach to TNG/TOS when it comes to relationships. Everyone pairs off, and seems monogamous or aiming for marriage.

    TOS/TNG always gave me a "1960s free love, everybody doing everybody else" vibe. I always imagined Riker as a bisexual dude hooking up with a different crew-person every week.

    My take on the inclusion of Garak is that they figured out that nobody really knew what was going on with him, so they gave him such a big role to see if they could figure it out.

    Also, this episode confirmed to me that KA Applegate (author of the Animorphs) was 100% a Trekkie. Symbiotic slugs, morphing into birds...

    The Search Pt 2 is one of those episodes which I simply cannot rewatch and enjoy it.

    I like to rewatch DS9 or TNG or VOY or even ENT every once in a while. It's kind of like comfort food. But there are always episodes I skip, either because they just suck, or because I know them too well, or some combination of the two.

    While I won't gripe too much about the "it was all an illusion" ending. (I personally don't think that automatically makes it a bad ending) I do think it kills all rewatchability of the episode. Once you know the twist, it just turns the majority of the episode into an exercise of complete tedium. The only part of the episode that remains compelling at all are the Odo scenes.

    I think it would have been better if Sisko and the others had discovered at some point that they were in a simulation, and spent the final portion trying to escape. That would have made it a little more compelling, and feel a little less like a waste of time. They could rewrite the changeling portion of the episode so that it's not obvious that the others are captive on that planet, so that they can save that reveal for the end. Heck, if they were clever they could even insert red herring hint suggesting that the changeling homeworld could also be a simulation, to keep the audience guessing until the final reveal.

    I honestly never liked either entry in this two parter. They just scream "REFORMATTING" in a decidedly artificial way, and I really wish they had drawn out the mystery about the Founders for longer. Odo's plotline isn't bad but they give him terribly on the nose dialogue like "Being an outsider isn't so bad. It gives one a unique perspective."

    I enjoyed this comment:

    "So, the founders are ok, when
    -their planet's location is known to their enemies, that possess stealth technology
    -them being the founders is known to their enemies
    -access to their biochemistry is possible through Odo.

    They seem very dumb and unconcerned about security. For a race that wants to dominate all existence out of fear for solids."

    "Improbable Cause" and "The Die is Cast" would answer the first point very satisfyingly. In fact that plot was already being set up 11 episodes earlier in "Defiant" when Faux-Riker tries to get to the Orias system (where the Obsidian Order is building their forces to use in the later invasion).

    The second and third points would be picked up by Section 31 in later seasons.

    I'd also note that the Founders are arrogant assholes. They're not used to dealing with races that defy them. Their first encounters with Starfleet led them to believe that their technological advantage and their shapeshifting would make controlling the Alpha Quadrant child's play.

    Problems with this episode:

    * The founder and Vorta would give away so much information when we know that the founders want to keep things secret.
    * The crew would be taken to the secret home world.
    * The founders letting them go because Odo wanted would get in the way of them being harmed. All they need to do is avoid harming Odo and it's not so hard.
    * Garak shoots one enemy at a time and the first does not react! It's happened in too many episodes.

    Jammer's complaint about character development goes too far. This is Star Trek not a soap opera. Don't always moan about character development. You have other shows for that. It's like wanting every food to be pizza because it your favorite food.

    Odo had sufficient reason to leave when he found out how what the attitudes of the founders were. However I do agree there could have been more in terms of questions answered and time spent with the founders. But I wont hate forget that Star Trek is mainly about philosophy and morality. If we get the latter then we can be forgiving when character development is lacking.

    The A-story about the shenanigans on DS9 is really good. It makes this episode watchable as it serves as a counterweight to the B-story about Otto or Dodo or whatever.

    That dude is the embodiment of drabness; a walking Alteril. He's also not a very sympathetic character, to put it mildly, so his derping around some cockamamie planet "discovering" what it's like to be a unicorn REALLY didn't do it for me. It reminded me of T.N.G.'s Data and his idiotic Sherlock Holmes hologram nonsense.

    The ep. comes into its own in the final ten minutes when the two arcs combine, and, boy, do they do that superlatively. Made me even warm up to Dodo! Quite a feat! That, plus the plot twist, make this a watertight 3 stars from me.

    An excellent start to season 3; hope it's a portent of things to come.

    Agree with Jammer. The "the crew was placed in an illusion" trick is StarGate, not Star Trek. Now, I do love my StarGate, but it's intentionally something of a clown show, which Star Trek is not.

    I'm posting a general SPOILER warning here.

    I've decided I not only love this episode, but I actually prefer it to part 1. Not only do we get more interesting and even touching character scenes in this one (which tends to be my priority), but even the plot is more exciting.

    True, part 1 introduces the Defiant, Lt Cdr Eddington, the Founders, and has a few expensive FX scenes compared to what we've seen so far on DS9. But it also includes scenes such as Odo threatening to quit, strongarming the Karemma, the scene in the Dominion relay station, as well as driving around cloaked, which I don't find have much rewatch value. The best scene in the episode is probably Sisko making Quark kiss the Nagus' staff, since the actors are clearly having fun, but this amount of fun is present in *most* scenes in part 2.

    Part 2 also gives us some interesting exchanges:

    MALE: What are you doing?
    FEMALE: Take it.
    MALE: It's not time. He isn't ready.
    FEMALE: He's been gone too long. He needs to remember, if only for a moment. Don't be afraid.

    Maybe it's a soft retcon, maybe, not, but here we're shown that the Founders are absolutely not united in what they think about things. I doubt this disagreement is just for show. So despite the claims we hear later about the concept of "individual" Changelings being inaccurate, they do seem to have differentiation among them. Which makes me wonder later in, especially in S7, whether the blame should really be equally applied to all of the Changelings.

    BORATH: Not at all. You seem sceptical.
    SISKO: Can you blame me?
    BORATH: No. I realise you have no reason to trust the Dominion, but you must understand that we were only trying to defend ourselves.
    SISKO: From what?
    BORATH: We felt threatened by your incursions into the Gamma Quadrant.
    SISKO: And now?

    This is a really subtle use of dialogue, where the lines here are incomplete without proper directing and acting, which I think is provided. Borath's remark about defending themselves is not said in a shocking way, but it *is* shocking if you remember from the S2 finale that they not only paved over a Bajoran settlement in the Gamma Quadrant, but gloated over it like it was fun. There is no possible way to accept Borath's statement in light of that, and the entire rest of the action of this episode rides on our understanding that no matter what Borath says, he and his people are mass murdering maniacs who do not value life at all. Now granted, the Klingons were once like this and are now allies of the Federation, but that peace didn't come *right after* massacring colonies, and it took a few steps to establish trust, including them being rendered too weak (by Praxis) to pose a threat.

    GARAK: There's an old saying on Cardassia. Enemies make dangerous friends. And I fear the Dominion will make a very dangerous friend indeed.

    I don't have anything to say about this quote, other than to point out that flashy dialogue like this is really what makes episodes memorable, and The Search pt 2 has many of them.

    ODO: I've been called a Changeling on occasion.
    FEMALE: It's a name given to us by the Solids. They meant it as an insult, but in defiance we took it and made it our own.
    FEMALE: The Solids feared our metamorphic abilities, so we were beaten, hunted and killed. Finally we arrived here. And here, safe in our isolation, we made our home.

    In hindsight this dialogue really does resonate as having undertones related to subcultures, for instance gay culture in America.

    ODO: When were you expecting me?
    FEMALE: Not for another three hundred years.
    ODO: How long was I away?
    FEMALE: A long time. But now all that matters now is that you're here.

    This is really interesting, because for Odo to take 300 years to get back would be assuming a bunch of stuff, including getting passage on standard type vessels travelling at warp, which *at best* is a 70 year trip. Given that such a trip would probably go slower than if a Galaxy Class ship was making it, let's assume the Founders figured on Odo travelling for almost all of that 300 years. That would mean that they'd expect him to be 'ship shape' already at this point, and ready to find his way home. The thing is, Odo has barely been sentient at all by this point, barely 20 years maybe, surely not enough to bring back much information to make the whole exercise worth it. So I figure Odo was supposed to be far more developed by this point, meaning he was 'awakened' far later than expected. When the Changeling says "a long time", I feel like that means thousands of years. If so, maybe the delay was due to a sort of nervous nature. We did learn already that Odo was very reluctant to assume forms, and that Dr. Mora had to make him do so. Maybe this isn't the case for all Changeling babies. Or maybe something about the asteroid belt near the wormhole where Odo was found prevented him being discovered earlier as the other babies would have been.

    KIRA: Odo, are you here, Odo? I'm going to try to track down the source of the interference. If I can't find it and neutralise it, I'm going to have to leave here and try to find Sisko and the others. I'm really glad you made it home, Odo. I know everything is going to work out just fine. I don't believe it. I'm talking to a tree. You're probably not even here, are you?

    This is an exceptionally clever bit of exposition, keeping Kira's story going while also giving us a fun monologue for the actress. Frakes also does a nice job panning out while she's speaking, to give us the impression of her being very much alone in spirit, which gives us the miserable feeling of a separation between her and Odo being possible.

    This next bit is really amazing:

    NECHAYEV: Our plans for Bajor are on hold for the time being. From now on Bajor will be the Dominion's responsibility. They'll be running this station.
    SISKO: And you're telling me the Bajorans have agreed to this?
    BORATH: We're confident they'll have no objections.
    SISKO: And if they do object, what then? You send in the Jem'Hadar?
    BORATH: The Jem'Hadar are used only against our enemies. Bajor will be protected, Commander. We'll see to it.

    Buried beneath this exchange is the fact that Sisko is now so invested in the well-being of the Bajorans that he can't tolerate them being left to fend for themselves under the Dominion. Whether they're ready to join the Federation or not, Sisko won't stand for the Bajorans being thrown to the wolves. Another nice touch is Borath saying the Jem'Hardar are only sent against the Dominion's enemies, when we know very well they sent them against the Bajorans in the GQ. That tells us all we need to know.

    And here is one of the most touching exchanges ever:

    ODO: Major, I have just had the most remarkable experience. For a few moments I actually felt what it was like to be an Arbazon Vulture. The air currents beneath my wings, the exhilaration of soaring above the treetops. Oh, it was all very stimulating.
    KIRA: I'm so happy for you.
    ODO: I know you are.
    KIRA: So, I guess this means you'll be staying here a while.
    ODO: I've enjoyed working with you, Major.
    KIRA: I've enjoyed working with you too, Odo. But before we say goodbye, I need your help one last time.

    I don't care what Visitor said later about a potential Kira/Odo romance, the way she plays this scenes looks exactly like a breakup. She knows her beloved needs to move on, and her sadness is mixed with happiness for his well-being. Now I'll chalk this performance up to her talent, rather than her concepts, since the two are rarely going to be in line in a performer. Her instrument told her this was a breakup, and it's a really nice scene.

    GARAK: After all, you have your orders and as for me, well, I wouldn't dream of opposing the wishes of the Central Command. A pity.
    SISKO: I agree that it's a pity.
    GARAK: I thought you would.
    SISKO: Mister Garak, I never knew we thought so much alike.

    This is a rare scene written with the expectation that both actors are going to be clever and subtle. Brooks gives this amazing pause after he says "I agree", as if he's carefully keeping his answer offically in line. Again, we are expected to understand that Garak has zero respect for the Central Command to understand why Sisko would immediately see what he means. Nothing is spoonfed to us. No one writes like this anymore.

    Jammer quotes another amazing Garak quip up top, and here's one of the absolute classics:

    GARAK: You heard me, Doctor. I'm glad to see the plan is going according as scheduled.
    JEM'HADAR: What plan is that?
    GARAK: You mean no one told you? You see, I pretend to be their friend and then I shoot you.

    My wife laughed her ass off at this, so much that it muted Garak's death. This is fascinating, beause since Garak isn't really dead, and since it takes time to come down off enjoying a joke, the scene actually serves to deliberately undercut the death, which is (if intended) a simply ingenius way to hint that we are not meant to really be mourning now. And yet he dies in a most graceful fashion; even a fake Garak death goes down with its proper dignity. Speaking of which, the only really illogical part of the episode, and which must be chalked up to it running two plots that don't quite make sense when combined, is how the Dominion's little mind program write Garak. Oh, I suppose we could interpolate it as being Bashir's knowledge of Garak supplying all of these mots juste, but that's just too much. Realistically Garak's involvement is present for our private amusement and shouldn't be considered too closely in the reality of the Founders' little test of Sisko and the others.

    DAX: The last thing I remember is collapsing the wormhole.
    T'RUL: The last thing I remember is being shot by some Jem'Hadar soldier.

    This small moment is unintentionally hilarious, as T'rul was in the unenviable position of not being a main character and had to sit some of the simulation out :)

    FEMALE: Your link to the Solids won't last. You will always be an outsider.
    ODO: Being an outsider isn't so bad. It gives one a unique perspective. It's a pity you've forgotten that.

    This dialogue ends up prescient, since I assume the writing team had no clue how the series would end.

    I'd take this episode before ten like part 1, any day. Half the scenes are classics.

    @Peter G., you make me want to revisit and rethink this episode.

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