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

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"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

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

◄ Season Index

52 comments on this review

Dimitris Kiminas
Mon, Apr 6, 2009, 8:10am (UTC -5)
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!
Mon, Jun 15, 2009, 12:13am (UTC -5)
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.
Sun, Jun 28, 2009, 7:12pm (UTC -5)
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.
Sun, Jul 19, 2009, 11:30pm (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Sep 16, 2009, 8:26pm (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, Jul 27, 2010, 12:02am (UTC -5)
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.
Jacob Teetertotter
Thu, Sep 23, 2010, 7:55pm (UTC -5)
Yes it does not address the concearns of part 1. It is a cheap o ending
Sat, Feb 5, 2011, 2:45am (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Feb 5, 2011, 12:23pm (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Jul 22, 2011, 12:51pm (UTC -5)
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.
Latex Zebra
Thu, Jan 12, 2012, 7:12am (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, Jan 14, 2013, 10:31am (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, Jul 1, 2013, 4:01am (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, Aug 6, 2013, 6:11pm (UTC -5)
Didn't think it was so bad, 2.5 - 3
Tue, Oct 22, 2013, 6:31pm (UTC -5)

Not as good as part one, but still solid.

Thu, Feb 20, 2014, 10:52am (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Mar 22, 2014, 3:03pm (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Apr 16, 2014, 11:38am (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Apr 16, 2014, 11:48am (UTC -5)
@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.
Thu, Jul 10, 2014, 9:10am (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, Jul 28, 2014, 11:49pm (UTC -5)
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
Tue, Jul 29, 2014, 8:35am (UTC -5)
"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.
Thu, Jan 15, 2015, 12:45pm (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Apr 29, 2015, 10:18pm (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Jul 24, 2015, 3:42pm (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Jul 31, 2015, 6:44am (UTC -5)
Erm. Does that mean Garak is Julian Bashir's idealized version of him? O.o? Their first conversation almost seems like it in retrospect.
William B
Wed, Aug 26, 2015, 4:51pm (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Aug 26, 2015, 11:43pm (UTC -5)
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!
William B
Thu, Aug 27, 2015, 8:55am (UTC -5)
@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!
S. Kennedy
Sat, Aug 29, 2015, 10:27am (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Sep 26, 2015, 12:45am (UTC -5)
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.
Diamond Dave
Sat, Nov 21, 2015, 10:36am (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Dec 11, 2015, 12:45am (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, Feb 9, 2016, 7:42pm (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Feb 12, 2016, 5:48pm (UTC -5)
This episode basically leaves the Dominion as not really an immediate threat any more, making all investment in the past three episodes completely worthless.
Wed, Mar 9, 2016, 12:39pm (UTC -5)
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.

Wed, Mar 9, 2016, 1:24pm (UTC -5)
@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.
Thu, May 25, 2017, 7:07pm (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Aug 23, 2017, 11:28am (UTC -5)
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.

Wed, Sep 27, 2017, 10:14pm (UTC -5)
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
Sun, Oct 29, 2017, 8:17am (UTC -5)
I was never a fan of the "it was all a dream it didn't really happen" twist. Anyone remember "Dallas?"
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 3:14am (UTC -5)
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...
Peter G.
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 8:58am (UTC -5)
"They seem very dumb and unconcerned about security."

Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 10:11am (UTC -5)

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".
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 10:40am (UTC -5)
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.

Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 11:18am (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Nov 10, 2017, 12:56pm (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Dec 21, 2017, 8:36am (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Dec 21, 2017, 9:02am (UTC -5)

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.

Thu, Dec 21, 2017, 10:27am (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Dec 21, 2017, 10:46am (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Apr 12, 2018, 6:33pm (UTC -5)
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.

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