Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

“By Inferno's Light”

3.5 stars.

Air date: 2/17/1997
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by Les Landau

"Think of it—five years ago no one had ever heard of Bajor or Deep Space Nine. Now all our hopes rest here. Where the tides of fortune take us no man will know."
"Very tricky, those tides."

— Gowron and Sisko

Review Text

Nutshell: Not perfect, but quite good. This show certainly shatters the status quo rather nicely.

To successfully and plausibly resolve the behemoth of a plot that was "In Purgatory's Shadow" is a tall order, to be sure. "By Inferno's Light" does it well. Not perfectly, perhaps—part one of this story is clearly stronger than this half is, both in style and character—but there are so many interesting consequences and developments to come out of "Inferno" that the show works very nicely.

If there's one thing that this episode proves, it's that major storylines on DS9 never simply go away or get resolved. Rather, they undergo metamorphoses and become twisted into labyrinthine webs of political intrigue. In a big way, I like that. It seems that anything is possible, because it's hard to know who will be on whose side from one month to the next. Still, at the same time, it's a tad frustrating to have so many threads hanging around and entangling each other with no resolution in sight. A tad frustrating, perhaps, but also very interesting.

As the Dominion enters the Alpha Quadrant, they cast a brief, intimidating stare in DS9's direction and then turn straight for Cardassia. (Note: This seems very consistent with Sisko's vision in "Rapture" of locusts that were to go to Cardassia first before "destroying Bajor unless it stands alone." Quite interesting.) The big surprise of the episode: Gul Dukat is joining them to escort them to Cardassia.

You see, Cardassia is joining the Dominion.

And I thought the revelations in part one were unpredictable.

As radical as this shocking notion is, it makes perfect sense when looking at all the past material. Dukat hates the Klingons for what they've done, he hates Cardassia's current state of paralysis, he hates the Maquis, and he fears the Dominion. With one swift stroke (after months of secret negotiation between Cardassia and the Dominion) Dukat's solution will make Cardassia strong, force the Klingons to leave, force the Maquis to abandon their colonies in Cardassian space, and make allies out of the biggest threat of all.

That, my friends, is one hell of a package deal, and it changes nearly everything on the series.

Before I continue discussing the implications of this event, I'll first discuss the plot at hand, because there are quite a few plot-based issues set up in "Purgatory" that "Inferno" obviously had to put to rest—and for the most part, the plot pulled itself together fairly well.

While Sisko & Co. is dealing with the home front, Worf, Garak, and Bashir begin devising an escape plan. They hope to use Tain's rigged communication device in the wall panel of their cell to contact the Runabout for a beam-out. I wouldn't call this plot spectacular or imaginative as these things go, but the way Behr and Wolfe's teleplay handles the details is commendable.

One notion worthy of praise is the way the different prisoners share a common interest and a common enemy. Outside a Dominion facility it seems likely that these different people—Romulans, Klingons, Cardassians, humans, and Breen—would not be on the best of terms given the political situations between their respective homelands. But under the Dominion's thumb, they easily put aside their differences to accomplish a common goal. The plan is a team project that effectively displays everyone keeping composure under high pressure.

Garak in particular has to cope with the pressure. He's the only one with the technical knowledge, and even he has limited skills. He has to quietly and quickly work inside a small, dark, hot, enclosed area of space. And on top of that, he's claustrophobic.

Meanwhile, Worf is forced to fight Jem'Hadar soldiers in hand-to-hand combat "tournaments" that progress in difficulty from one match to the next. Worf's part of the story is nothing that hasn't been done before, but I'm still convinced that Michael Dorn and the writers have a firm grip on Worf as a character, and everything that happens here is in tune with that.

Naturally, the events back at DS9 are what demand more attention. With a shapeshifter roaming the station, Starfleet dispatching ships to the area, and Dukat making threats directly to Sisko (demanding Bajor and the Federation return the station to Cardassia or else the Dominion will destroy it), the plot truly feels like a countdown to Armageddon. The entire episode crescendos with increasing tension and suspense to what promises to be a final confrontation.

And the entire Alpha Quadrant seems to be involved. The Dominion promptly drives the Klingon presence out of Cardassian space, at which point the Klingons fall back to DS9. Sisko wisely takes advantage of the situation, asking Gowron to consider revitalizing the Khitomer Accords—the Klingon/Federation peace treaty. (Gowron's words aptly reveal how sweeping changes like these can come so swiftly unexpectedly: "Five years ago no one had ever heard of Bajor or Deep Space Nine. Now all our hopes rest here. Where the tides of fortune take us no man will know.")

The episode drops another surprise upon us when a group of Romulan ships decloaks, requesting to join the fleet. Again, this is an interesting example of different groups putting aside their differences to benefit the larger picture. I found myself saying aloud "United we stand, divided we fall" at this point in the show, because it fit the circumstances so well. Sure, that may sound like a bit of a cliché, but it is a compelling—and also true—ideal. The idea of the entire Alpha Quadrant making a stand against the Dominion is something that I would suppose even the Dominion might have second thoughts about. It also makes Dukat look like the lone sell-out of the lot. (Sisko even flat-out tells Dukat that he has "sold out his people to the Dominion." Dukat merely retorts that he has made Cardassia strong again.)

Dukat's actions speak for themselves. They virtually completely turn the character around from someone we could sympathize with earlier in the season (the Dukat who was fighting the Klingons in the name of Cardassia) back into an opportunist who is more interested in pure strength for Cardassia than freedom or independence. (I'm very intrigued at how exactly Cardassia will operate under Dominion rule.)

Like Kira said to Ziyal in part one, you can only judge a person for their actions, and Dukat's actions speak the words of a coward and an opportunist. Instead of standing against the Dominion with the rest of the Alpha Quadrant, Dukat has made a bad situation potentially worse for possibly everyone (I can't imagine that everyone on Cardassia supports being run by the Dominion). He even disowns his daughter and accepts that she will die with everyone else on DS9. He may as well have sold his soul, as far as I'm concerned.

But that's the point, isn't it? To make Dukat a bad guy again and reinstate some of the "edge" he used to have before he became more sympathetic. It certainly works. From here on (unless, of course, something equally impacting happens concerning Cardassia) I can't imagine ever seeing Dukat in a situation that's not confrontational.

By the same token, suddenly the Klingons are back on "our" side (Gowron signs the treaty), and even the Romulans look less menacing and more reasonable than before. What's so compelling about the myriad of agreements is to look back and see how intertwined different events caused different groups to take the sides they did. Everything here is connected if you trace the plot lines, and I find that fascinating. A year and a half ago the Federation condemned the Klingons because they invaded Cardassian space. Now the Klingons come back to the Federation because the Cardassians (a subset of which tried to destroy the Dominion two years ago, by the way) have joined the Dominion and threaten to destroy the Klingons.

These large-scale events are compelling, and the build up of the whole episode to a final-act event is good edge-of-seat suspense. Unfortunately, the ending of "Inferno" is less than I had hoped given the two hours of setup. It works absolutely wonderfully when you consider the long-term implications and future shows, but something about the actual events of the finale isn't quite right.

I think the problem is that it tries to compact the climax into five minutes of air time. The ending feels a bit... rushed. The whole chess game turns out to be pivoting on one Changeling infiltrator assigned to execute the Master Plan. But in order for the Changeling to be exposed, the real Bashir has to escape from the Dominion prison and warn the station. Naturally, Bashir and his party escapes at the very last second—nicely executed for a "close call" countdown, but awfully convenient if you think about it. (Why, for example, would the Runabout still be orbiting the prison facility? Are the Jem'Hadar that stupid?) Meanwhile, the colossal, imminent attack by the Dominion turns out to be a ruse to hide the Bashir-Changeling's true mission—to trigger the supernova of Bajor's star, destroying Bajor, DS9, and half the Klingon, Romulan, and Starfleet fleets. Bashir's warning comes just in the nick of time, and Kira is able to stop the Runabout before it explodes.

Bashir's escape from prison works fairly well (even if the execution was a little abrupt), because the plot had, after all, spent a good part of the hour setting it up. Likewise, the Changeling's plan stands to reason under scrutiny. It certainly makes strategic sense that the Dominion would try to take out DS9 and half the fleet, as Sisko says, "without firing a single shot."

Still, I wish more time would've been spent on revealing the Changeling saboteur than on fight scenes between Worf and Jem'Hadar soldiers. Couldn't the shapeshifter have been discovered by the crew by means more interesting than Bashir's deus ex machina warning?

Also, the disappearance of the danger was just a little too abrupt for my tastes. Going from "Stop that Changeling at all costs!" to "Armageddon will have to wait for another day" to a quiet scene between Garak and Ziyal within barely two minutes of screen time brings down the sense of urgency and doom far too quickly and easily to make it feel genuine.

Such complaints about the plot are minor when considering the great developments this episode brings to the big picture. I like to see things happen, and in "By Inferno's Light" lots of things do happen. Sure, the violent confrontation that seemed imminent a week ago and inevitable for two and a half years may have been averted, but there are so many changes in the overall storyline that the situation is more perverted than probably could've been imagined. This is what makes DS9 so riveting as a series. It's unpredictable on such a large scale. Yet what appears to be a huge political mess has rational reasons for taking place. I'm extremely interested in seeing what will happen next.

Previous episode: In Purgatory's Shadow
Next episode: Doctor Bashir, I Presume

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Comment Section

92 comments on this post

    One thing that always bothered me about this episode is that if a photon torpedo could disrupt the wormhole, wouldn't the supernova of the Bajoran sun, enough to destroy DS9 right next door, have some negative consequence on the wormhole too? And don't the dominion need that thing working right?

    If I remember correctly, in order to collapse the wormhole something specific was required to make it collapse. Oh yeah, besides the Changelings sabotage according to Obrien only made the wormhole more stable so I doubt a super nova would have done anything.

    Plus, it was "closed" when not in use. The whole torpedo thing was about the weapons being fired into it while it was open.

    TH hit upon the gaping plot hole that would make this episode lose a whole star at least (pardon the pun).

    The wormhole is still "there" even when it's closed. And I doubt a supernova explosion and shockwave would leave it unaffected.

    I believe the changeling's sabotage that led to reinforcement of the wormhole was part of the plan. Both closed and stabilized, it is only reasonable that the wormhole is not as vulnerable as the station or surface of the planet would be. I am also not entirely certain how much further away from the star the station is, but I get the impression from the pilot that it moved a considerable distance further away.

    I do think it is an interesting implication of the plot that the changeling was, it seems, going to die as part of pulling off the plan. They condemn Odo for killing another changeling, but evidently destroying the targets gathered in Bajor Sector was of enough value for them to sacrifice on of their own.

    @ J...

    It's possible that the changeling could somehow survive it...we did learn in Season 7's Chimera that a changeling can actually exist as fire (though admittedly I found myself skeptical of that notion).

    This of course is pure sci-fi (rather than scientific) speculation, but when the wormhole was discovered it was 160 million Km from Bajor, which is only slightly farther away than the distance between Earth and its sun. That distance varies of course due to orbits (does the wormhole orbit around Bajor's sun? That's a good question), but the fact remains that the wormhole would be affected by a supernova explosion.

    No episode could live up to "In Purgatory's Shadow" but I think this one comes quite close, despite its rushed ending.

    There was also that episode where Odo essentially turned into light (or at least some luninescent gas) and surrounded Kira...presumably as either of those a changeling could survive the supernova.

    Hmmm...I suppose that Native American colnoy in Cardassian space from TNG's "Journey's End" was among those annihilated here...

    Several times it was mentioned that Garak was the only one that could do the work, but since Bashir is revealed to have been genetically enhanced in the very next episode, he probably could have stepped in, either from scratch, or with at most a crash lesson from Garak in what to do.

    Epic episode, the ending yeah, it little bit too positive still, 4 stars from me.

    The whole prison scenes were great.

    Why would a changeling be willing to sacrifice himself? It makes no sense. The Founders have consistently placed solids on a lower level than themselves so I can't imagine this changeling would be expected to die to kill a few solids. Also, Odo was on the space station and would have been killed by the supernova - so they would also have broken their "no changeling has ever killed another" rule (so two changelings killed in this one 'attack').

    Also, this would have been a relatively minor battle to win (the Federation, Klingons and Romulans would have lost a lot of ships, but presumably it was only a tiny percentage of the entire combined fleets of 3 major super powers).

    Furthermore, it makes even less sense when you consider that the Founders are essentially immortal.

    I love Star Trek, but illogical plot lines like this make me cringe.



    Fantastic two-parter. I missed this during the first run of the show back in the '90s, and it's been a blast filling in the gaps in my DS9 viewing history.

    I agree the last chapter of the two-parter felt rushed, but otherwise, bull's-eye.

    The wormhole can only be destroyed when it is open, and it can be opened when an object enters a very small, very specific area of space, and even then, only from the correct angle.

    If the wormhole's aperture wasn't face towards the Bajoran sun the supernova wave wouldn't affect it, and it would not open. Therefore, it couldn't be destroyed by the wave.

    "The wormhole is still "there" even when it's closed. And I doubt a supernova explosion and shockwave would leave it unaffected."

    This is a science fantasy television show where the laws of physics are bent, broken or completely ignored altogether whenever and wherever the plot needs them to be. You can't say "I doubt a supernova explosion and shockwave would leave it unaffected" because there are no scientific principles either in the real world (where wormholes may or may not exist, but if they do, they are NOTHING like any wormholes depicted in Star Trek) or in the background technobabble lore of the show. The wormhole would have been fine BECAUSE Ira Steven Behr and Robert Hewitt Wolfe say so, and when it comes to Trek Science, it is whatever the writers say it is. The only time you can cry foul is when the technobabble contradicts itself and, let's face it, that happens ALL THE TIME on Star Trek.

    Since the events of "Destiny", the wormhole is never really closed.

    Amazing episode. This one has it all: huge story implications, great character development, worf fighting, Garak and Dukat being Garak and Dukat. I could go on. Best episode of the series so far.


    It was a nice touch to make Garak claustrophobic. Considering how Andrew Robinson himself is actually claustrophobic which almost prevented him from playing Garak on DS9.

    It would have been nice to have a callback to some benevolent Cardassians we've met before who try to defect out of Cardassia after this takeover. The two female scientists from "Destiny" come to mind.

    @Jay: I recently read a book called "The Never-Ending Sacrifice" (by Una McCormack) which covers most events on Cardassia from the perspective of Rugal, the Cardassian boy raised by Bajorans from the second season episode "Cardassians".

    It's an excellent book, adding richness to a Trek culture already amongst the most intriguing and well developed. Through Rugal's eyes we see the aftermath of the fall of the Obsidian Order and the accession of civilian rule. And we learn that Dukat's deal with the Dominion lead to a bloody coup and purge of civilian authorities. We even see the messy aftermath of the Dominion War on both humans and Cardassians.

    It really transcends what we might think of as a "Star Trek" book, more closely resembling the epic sweep of a historical novel. It also illustrates the missed opportunity that was the failure to tell more stories of the aftermath of the war (instead we got Star Trek: Nemesis).

    I watched this yesterday (before the Super Bowl) and the logical problems are just too much. The fact that the Jem Hadar left the runabout within transporter range of the prison just makes no sense. But, beyond that, why was security so lax at the prison?

    There's no reason why Bashir, Garak, Marton and Worf (and the others) would have been allowed so much time to plot their escape. Other than Worf (and Martok, before Worf arrived) the Dominion doesn't do anything with the prisoners. Shouldn't they be interrogated for information?

    Beyond that, the prisoners could have all been held in isolation, in stasis or, frankly, they could have been killed. If the Dominion didn't plan on interrogating them, the only prisoner with any value was Worf. At least, the Jem Hadar used him to train.

    The other issue I have has to do with the logic of the last few minutes (and Jammer is right -- they were rushed):

    - Bashir et. al escape
    - They send a message to the station
    - Sisko asks for Bashir's last known location
    - He learns it was on the runabout pad

    Without hesitation, Sisko then contacts Kira and tells her to destroy the runabout. But, how did Sisko know that the message from the Gamma Quadrant wasn't a fake?

    Consider that Sisko tells Kira to destroy the runabout BEFORE they learn that it's on a direct course for the Bajoran sun. Now, maybe Sisko/Kira could have figured out what was happening if they saw the runabout heading toward the sun, but after?

    Also, why didn't anybody notice the runabout being out of formation?

    I'm surprised the runabout was still there waiting to beam them up. Doesn't seem to make a lot of sense.

    @ Josh

    Thanks!. That sounds like an interesting read!

    O'Brien states that 4 weeks is "over a month"...a Bajoran month (and thus year) must be shorter than ours.

    The final scenes of this two-parter were a bit rushed leading them to feel near anticlimactic. The sacrifice of the changeling and the possibility of destroying the wormhole by its actions are seemingly left to interpretation and don't detract from the story.

    An explanation on why the runabout was left in orbit of the internment camp would have been nice. Maybe the Dominion fleet had bigger problems to contend with - thus leaving the runabout unattended in their arrogant belief that no escape would occur.

    Speculation aside, this was one of the great two-parters of ST. Everything clicked in the right place. From the dialogue to the sweeping changes in the political landscape to relevant character revelations big and small. Kudos.

    4 stars each.

    A well-written and riveting two-parter that really lays out the whole arc of the later seasons. Garak and Worf are always an entertaining combination, and both of them had real challenges to overcome here, gaining a new respect for each other when it was all over. Bashir having been a changeling (apparently for weeks) was surprising, but it could have been much more effective if the reveal were executed better and the writers made something seem a little "off" about Bashir in previous episodes.

    I still don't understand Gul Dukat and what makes him tick, but to me this feels like the first revolution of a psychological downward spiral.

    Riveting hour of star trek entertainment!!

    It's so great to have Martik back. He's a better Klingon than Worf.

    So many great lines delivered with a Klingon heart...

    "MARTOK: There is no greater enemy than one's own fears."

    "MARTOK: Worf, honour has been satisfied. Stay down."

    My only nit-pic is that I think it would have been too easy to make the sun go supernova. That would be one hell of a terrorist weapon. Also, I was a little surprised that the changeling would be sacrificed like that.

    It does however reveal just how big the Founders think and that nothing is off the table WRT to the Dominion.

    Best line?

    "IKAT'IKA: I yield. I cannot defeat this Klingon. All I can do is kill him, and that no longer holds my interest."

    But all in all 4 stars, easy.

    This is my favorite 2-parter in DS9.

    "Also, I was a little surprised that the changeling would be sacrificed like that. "

    Laas can fly through space and changelings can exist as mist and fire. Although it strikes me as unlikely that a changeling would be able to survive as a supernova... are we certain they can't exist as plasma or something and then turn into a space creature and fly away?

    Well Robert, I hadn't thought of that. There has to be something these things can't emmulate...


    Considering the female changeling claims that getting Odo back is more important than winning the war I can't imagine they'd really use a suicide bomber. So I assume an escape route.


    I guess we have to assume that. I wish they could have shown us something though.

    Yanks: " would have been too easy to make the sun go supernova."

    Easy, assuming Bajor's host star is at least 8 solar masses. Otherwise it's too small to become a type II supernova. If so, though, it would've exhausted its fuel within tens of millions of years. If further so, this tells us that Bajorans, and possibly all life on their planet, originated elsewhere and colonized a world too young to evolve life on its own. But how did a dead world acquire an oxygen atmosphere??

    The writers gave Bajor a 26-hour day without accounting for how every other feature of the planet must also be totally alien. It's like, in "Miri," the crew was amazed (briefly) to find an exact duplicate of Earth, but really they should be amazed any time they find a planet with anything at all in common with Earth.


    True. But I was referring to any device that could make a sun do that. If the Founders can create that, why all the bother with wars, etc?

    Now I see your point. Clearly the star-killer (which the Feds could also build with trilithium resin) was tossed in the same closet as Platonian kironide, Scalosian water, phase-cloaks, slingshot time travel, and other tactical game-breakers. Wouldn't be sporting, old chap.

    . The only time you can cry foul is when the technobabble contradicts itself

    Wrong. If Star Trek was set in some other universe, or was a fantasy, that would be okay. But a show cannot be a true science fiction if it is continually breaking the laws of physics. The more a show does that, the sloppier is it. And eventually, you are no longer able to suspend disbelief. This happens to me a lot when watching Trek. It's not a good thing - it's a symptom of poor writing.

    Fabulous episode. One of the best of the series and, together with In Purgatory's Shadow, the best of the three Dominion-centric two-parters. 4 stars.

    Everything here worked, and Jammer's observation on the visceral impact of seeing the different races work together is why. The internment camp works on the micro level while the arrivals of the fleets at DS9 work on the macro scale. It's a great payoff at this point for anyone watching the series and is even more riveting for someone who followed TNG. The stakes are more harrowing than they've ever been in Trek up to this point - TOS, TNG, or the movies.

    Plot points that work:
    -Bashir the Changeling. Some people have trouble with this; I don't. The Dominion hasn't been owning the GQ for two millennia because they're sloppy at deep cover. Bashir-Changeling learned how to be a Starfleet medical officer. It's that simple.

    -Blowing up the Bajoran sun. It would have been brilliant and devastating for the AQ forces. Remember, the Dominion would rather recruit than destroy (otherwise they'd take the opportunity to flatten a weakened Cardassian Empire that already attacked them). If any of the three remaining powers cracks enough to follow Cardassia's example (Romulans being the likeliest), the Dominion becomes that much stronger and the AQ that much more unstable. It's especially important since the wormhole is such a bottleneck for the Dominion (which they also took care to stabilize amidst the chaos). I wonder who the Romulan captives were, though. Senators or advisors replaced to help consolidate the fleets at DS9? Possible. I really, really like that this two-parter works on its own merits while also leaving enough implied that nerds like us can puzzle it out the gaps. It also saves wasting scenes on having characters reverse engineer explanations on What the Plan Was After All. The Breen captive couldn't just have been there for the sake of diversity, either...

    -The MO of the Dominion is always, always to make their enemies defeat themselves: the consolidation and ambush of the Tal'Shiar and Obsidian Order; inciting war between the Federation and the Klingon Empire; the destabilization and panic of Federation and Starfleet; pushing Starfleet to a point of no return by tricking them into assassinating the Klingon High Chancellor; manipulating substantial resources from all three remaining AQ powers to be in one place at one time for a huge KO.

    -Sisko knowing to destroy the Yukon. Simple. A message from Bashir from the GQ could be fake, but the possibility of it being real increases when a) there's a known saboteur on the station, and b) your own Bashir, who is not a combat pilot, is in a runabout that's left the station in the middle of a battle.

    Plot points that don't work:

    -The runabout still orbiting the asteroid. Sure, any other escape plan would need far more screen time and effects budget, but the Jem'Hadar leaving it there strains credulity.

    Some character moments I like:

    -Dukat. Everything he does he does because he is Dukat. He's perfectly handled here and the re-emergence of Cardassia is yet another game changer. The Cardassian Empire is my favourite race in Trek from a dramatic perspective.

    -The Jem'Hadar. Bred to be warriors and nothing more, that they've developed their own code of honour is fascinating. They are the AI-becoming-sentient trope written as a warrior race.

    -Martok and Worf. Worf, fighting to the death in front of his countryman, being called back by Martok is a great moment. Here in this bleak situation Martok tries to save Worf by telling him his honour has been satisfied and that no more fighting is necessary. It's a nice way to show the effects of despair on Klingon values (Martok's already half blind because of all the abuse). It also reveals some depth and quickly warms viewers up to Martok alongside the best portrayal of Worf pride as a warrior up to this point, including TNG. The Jem'Hadar First demonstrates fascinating depth as well in conceding the victory to Worf. It's not just victory the Jem'Hadar seeks, but the will to push past one's limits. I like that so many Jem'Hadar characters have such distinct personalities that show off the Jem'Hadar condition. This always means they basically have to die at the end of each episode they're featured in, but it's tragic in the best way. The J'H are a great rival race to the Klingons.

    -Garak. Martok and Worf's shared admiration of his working through his claustrophobia is another interesting texture on the Klingon view of strength. As far as Garak being paired up with a main character goes, Worf-Garak here (and in "Broken Link" briefly) turns out to be just as fascinating as Odo-Garak in Improbable Cause/Die Is Cast.

    -The Vorta overseer. One of the more despicable Vorta characters. No pretenses of diplomacy at all. We've seen Vorta as infiltrators (Eris) and as ambassadors and COs (Weyoun and Kilana). This guy's just a prison warden. The visible tension between the Vorta and the Jem'Hadar is handled well again (see: To the Death).

    The runabout left orbiting that asteroid was OK. One reason is the Jem'Hadar are arrogant and believe they cannot be beaten by anyone, another reason is the asteroid has a dome and if anyone stepped outside it would be instant death. There was no reason to even think the prisoners could get off that rock. The Dominion's arrogance blinds them to the resourcefulness of the Federation, especially in season 7.

    This was a GREAT storyline and I loved the twists and surprises. There were some really good, subtle notes. Things like how no one could tell it wasn't Bashir (Bashir being so easy to imitate - haha), or the Worf/Garek dynamic - for the FIRST time Worf 'works' on this series and shows some character other than sexist pig and growly dog.

    I feel like this 2-part brought out the best of the DS9 series, and easily rivalling best of other series. The great characters were tied to a riveting plot and it worked well.

    Things that felt off (minor I guess, but still):

    1) Where was Odo? He would have spotted the changeling. He was very conspicuously absent.

    2) Runabout orbiting the asteroid - hahaha, as if! It should have been blasted or salvage-junked.

    Best things:

    1) Worf (away from Dax and weird-idiot-manliness) had a chance to develop a little / be something audience can feel something for.

    2) Dukat going back to the bad guy mode. I always thought it was pretty RIDICULOUS that they showed him as the loving-doting father etc. The real Dukat WOULD have shot his daughter - he's an imperialist military leader, pretty much the counterpart of a Hitler and parrots that kind of ideology constantly (Bajorans are like my children, did what was for their own good etc). I didnt like it at all the way the show would show these sympathetic stories - except the one about the file clerk - but the ones where these occupiers are the focus as sympathetic characters, while it's kind of a 'story told so much that we actually never hear it' about the Bajorans - to the point that Kira starts sounding like a broken record. So I was thrilled that we are back to Dukat as he really is, yay.

    This episode was pretty great and I remember desperately watching a tape of it one morning before school. The resigning the Khitomer Accords was a great moment.
    The only thing I've come to not like is the blowing up the star idea, I just feel like these kind of planet killer ideas should change the game a whole lot more than they do, and if they're don't they should just leave it alone. And I feel like it would be very bad press in regards to SPOILERS I GUESS that treaty they sign at the end of the year. I guess Shakaar could make a big deal about it with Weyoun but I guess there's nothing he could do about it anyway.

    For all those questioning why the runabout was left right outside the internment camp, this was directly addressed by Sloan during his interogation of Bashir in "Inquisition". Sloan believed it was left there deliberately by the Dominion so Bashir, a brainwashed Dominion agent according to Sloan, could escape. Course that's only his theory and no actual reason is given, but it was nice that the writers either did it on purpose so it could cast doubt on Bashir later or they realized how silly it was and deliberatly lampshaded it.

    I feel like I'm a bit grumpy with this show at times, but I guess I'm not that enamoured with this episode. It is mostly good: I think that the prison camp scenes are generally pretty good, but with some silly elements -- more on that in a bit. On the station, the tension does work pretty well.

    Dukat making the deal he does for Cardassia to join the Dominion is absolutely believable and a great development. I want to talk about this more at some point (though not in this post). But I think that his agreeing to the plan to blow up the whole Bajoran system pushes things too far, *in particular* too far for where the character is going to go. Without getting too spoilery, the way Dukat plays out over the next half-season requires Dukat maintain some of his ambiguity and, in particular, some of his ability to think of himself as something of a champion, not just for Cardassia, but for his daughter and even/especially for Bajor. Dukat who is personally obsessed with what Sisko and Kira think of him, Dukat who (SPOILER) still wants to win his daughter back even after he gives him up here. Dukat seemed to be willing to consider killing every single Bajoran back in "The Maquis" ("oh well, it's too late for that now") so I can't describe this as completely inconceivable. But I think that it's something of a misread of Dukat to have him be on board with wiping out the Bajoran system entirely, impersonally, along with people who had just recently been his allies. I think his interest is in domination, not destruction, and destruction becomes only necessary once other means of domination are eliminated. But anyway, this version of Dukat leaves little room for him to go -- and the run-up to (SPOILER) "Waltz," which I do think is quite good (even if the post-"Waltz" stuff does not work) is seriously compromised if we take this too seriously, because Dukat jumps back to moderate villainy from cartoonish supervillainy after this episode.

    Relatedly, having the Dominion nearly nova the Bajoran system, as Matrix points out above, makes the Bajoran-Dominion peace treaty pretty hard to believe. Really, if the Dominion is able and willing to nova star systems (without even a declaration of war), why do they bother to create genetic diseases to make examples of people? Having the Dominion have this level of power *and* willingness to use that power really screws up the balance of events in the next several episodes/seasons...all while, you know, also being fairly pointless. The key development in the episode is Cardassia joining the Dominion, which pays off in the opening minutes, and I get that they needed a climactic moment for the episode's end, but ultimately Changeling Bashir's gambit is forgotten as soon as it occurs, and does not significantly change the Bajoran calculus of whether they should sign a nonaggression pact with the Dominion despite the extreme lengths they had been willing to go to not that long before. If it's to show just how evil the Dominion is, well, again, this brings out a particular technique we never see them use again. So for both the Dominion and, worse, for Dukat, the nova plotline seems misjudged, an attempt to get a big effect within this particular episode at the expense of larger stories.

    Bashir's replacement with a changeling was a great shock reveal, and I'm glad that Bashir was around to interact with Garak, particularly in part 1 (more on that when I write about "IPS"). Still, having decided to do this, the writers fail to consider the implications. Assuming that the change happened before the uniform change (which is implied), the changeling is the one who operated on Sisko to remove his visions and -- most notably -- was the one to report on the young changeling's death, and thus was present when Odo regained his powers. This in addition to the fact that no one, not O'Brien or Garak or Dax or Odo or Sisko or Kira or whomever, recognized that Bashir wasn't a changeling. There's no dialogue examining the possible effects that Bashir-changeling could have had. And the only discussion of failing to identify the Bashir changeling for weeks is a jokey line by O'Brien at the end. And it seems the reason the changeling was there was to...carry out the nova mission. It's as if the nova mission really was there both to give a climax to the episode, and to justify the shock-reveal of Bashir as Founder impostor, without any big build-up.

    I really liked in this episode (and the previous one) how the multi-ethnic group of prison camp inmates get along very well because of a shared experience and shared enemy; for Martok and Tain to be friendly. And I agree with Jammer and $G et al. that the microcosm of the prison camp reflects the situation in the Alpha Quadrant in a pleasing way -- people putting their differences aside to work to a common goal is definitely satisfying. The payoff to "IPS" is that Garak and Worf, despite their jokey adversarial stance in part one, come to find a new respect for each other, as the two who do the most impressive feats within this episode of the prisoners. And I support that as an idea, but Garak's claustrophobia, while plausible enough, does feel a bit of a contrivance to make "working privately on tech stuff" seem more dangerous and exciting, and I really did not get into the Rocky "stay down! stay down!" "no I'll go the distance!" stuff with Worf. (As a minor spoiler, that a future episode has Garak saying -- possibly falsely, but let's pretend for a second -- that his claustrophobia is the result of Tain locking him in a closet when he was a child retroactively adds more resonance here, because it basically means that Garak is working through his Tain issues in order to escape after having gone to rescue Tain.) That Jem'Hadar would train against strong prisoners makes some sense, though. And that Runabout in orbit really is dumb.

    So the prison camp stuff was okay, most of the station stuff was okay, and the Cardassian development was *overall* quite strong, but Dukat and the Dominion's actions were taken too far given the rest of where the season/series was going with them. 2.5 stars from me.

    Something of a disappointment after the first part. I'll forgive the fleet leaving DS9 for Cardassia as that really came as a superb shock moment. But the fake fleet at the end? Give us some battle scenes!

    What this does well is set out the sweeping top level changes - Cardassia throwing in with the Dominion and Dukat's return to enemy number one, the Klingon and Federation rapprochement, and the return of the Romulans to the front line. There's a real feeling of reshuffling the deck going forward.

    The prison scenes work less well. That's not to say there aren't some great moments - Worf in the arena, Garak's claustrophobia drawing in - but the whole thing has an air of artificiality. And not least because clearly the Jem'Hadar cannot secure a prison to save their lives...

    Excellent FX shot of the Defiant swooping down on the runabout though. 3 stars.

    Re the changeling sacrificing itself, I was just under the assumption that it'd use that convenient long range transporter tech that the vorta use at the last minute, although that doesnt quite hold up given that it didn't use it when it got caught by the tractor beam. But whatever.

    The biggest of hole I found here is it seems like it would be more effective but equally easy for the changelings to just blow up the earth, Klingon, and romulans suns.

    I know a reason given was that they wanted to eliminate a lot of Klingon and federation warships too but why...? They already dominate the alpha quadrant with their fleet. It would be trivial for them to just destroy key solar systems and clean up the remaining fleets.

    The Dominion is starting to annoy me with their classic villain plans, unnecessarily poor strategy. This just adds villains to the list of things the ds9 writers couldn't handle, along with klingons, relationships, ferengi, and everything else.

    Also more and more it seems like the federation consists solely of sisko and his space station.

    I don't think the Dominion destroys whole star systems for no reason. Their goal is to subjugate the Alpha Quadrant species, not destroy them. On the other hand they'll do it if it destroys significant *military* targets.

    After the amazing cliffhanger that ended "In Purgatory's Shadow", everyone watching was probably expecting a massive battle, but that's when the writers pulled the rug out from under everyone and gave us one of their greatest twists. They did something even bigger. They completely turned the entire political landscape of the Star Trek universe on its head, turned a major character that appeared to be on the path to redemption back towards villain status and set the series on an unstoppable course toward open war. And they did it all in the teaser! To top it all off, the dreaded Trek Reset Button doesn't rear its ugly head. The rest of the episode goes to great pains to deal with the consequences of such a historic moment and huge interstellar geopolitical restructuring.

    Dukat and the Cardassians joining the Dominion, while shocking at first, actually makes perfect sense. If Dukat is anything, he is two things - a delusional egotist who lusts for power and a Cardassian patriot. He has been shown to be willing to make any deal that offers him a shortcut to either his own personal glory or the short-term security and glory of Cardassia - oftentimes without bothering to consider any long-term ramifications (see "Return to Grace", when he's prepared to take his daughter off on a guerilla war, for proof). Cardassia, quite simply, is an absolutely beaten empire at this point. They can't even defend themselves from some patchwork, ragtag ex-Federation colonists in the De-Militarized Zone anymore. It makes total sense that they would gladly sign a deal with the devil in order to restore their imperial power and pride. And it makes perfect sense for Dukat to do what he does as it offers him seemingly unlimited power and prestige - something he has craved almost since his introduction on the show.

    But I especially love how "By Inferno's Light" shows a uniting of old foes against a common enemy. In both plotlines we have old animosities being set aside in order to resist the Dominion. In the A-plot, of course, we have the Klingons and the Federation returning to a state of alliance. But we also get the scene of the Romulan fleet decloaking at the station - showing that they are also interested in standing united against the new threat. This is quite possibly my favorite scene from the entire series - gives me goosebumps every time! (As an aside - I love that the Romulans later turn their backs on this possible alliance and sign a Non-Aggression Pact with the Dominion. It shows that in the heat of the moment, without good ground intelligence on the situation, the Romulan Empire went with it's gut instincts and sided with the Federation and Klingons. Only after "cooler heads prevailed" did they decide it would be in their best interests to stand aside.) In the B-plot, we get a much more personal version of this same story - with Human, Klingon, Romulan, Cardassian and Breen characters all working in common cause. If this doesn't represent Trek's ideal of working together in unity and common purpose, I don't know what does.

    Unfortunately, there are problems with the episode. The escape from the Internment Camp was so extraordinarily convenient that it's almost laughable. The Dominion just left the runabout orbiting the prison? For an entire week?! As if that wasn't bad enough, it also appears that they purposefully brought the runabout to the prison just to leave it there, as the asteroid doesn't appear to be anywhere near the nebula where Worf and Garak were captured. While the writers would later use this error to great effect in "Inquisition", it's still a massive hole in this story that harms the episode - especially when the build-up to the actual escape was executed so well. Also, the supernova plan leaves something to be desired, to say the least. A lot of people seem to take issue with this plot thread because it either a.) would destroy the Wormhole and why would the Dominion do that, b.) means that the Founders were okay with killing Odo or c.) is never used again by the Dominion. Well, those things don't bother me. What bothers me is everyone's reaction to the situation. Let's just call a spade a spade here. Dukat and the Dominion just attempted to carry out a genocide against the Bajoran people. And aside from one line of dialogue from Kira and one from Sisko about how the supernova would destroy Bajor, everyone's primary focus is on the fact that the fleets would have been destroyed. Now, granted, destroying the three fleets would have been a massive blow to the security of the Alpha Quadrant, but these people really need to get their damn priorities in order! The destruction of those ships wouldn't even have been a drop in the bucket compared to the loss of life when the planet (and any other inhabitant areas of the system) was obliterated. Sisko doesn't even call Dukat on this attempted Crime Against Humanity (Bajoranity?) in their final confrontation. He's more concerned that Dukat was condemning Ziyal to death. WTF!

    So, an excellent episode, and a very worthy conclusion to Part One, but it's got two real head-scratchers of problems.


    If I were fighting a Jem Hadar, the first thing I would do is try to pull out his straw.

    I really liked that Bashir and Worf did not have the engineering knowledge to deal with the McGuffin. The usual course on all of Star Trek is that anyone can do anything whether or not it makes sense for them to know how to do it.

    Changeling Bashir would have notified the other changelings that DS9 had received a communication from the prison. Presumably they would have tracked down its source and destroyed it.

    Now that I think of it, isn't it a little odd in the previous episode that the Jem Hadar brought Garak and Worf to the very place they were trying to go?

    The order to fight Worf until he died didn't make much sense. If the point of fighting him is to study Klingons, he's a lot more useful alive than dead. They kept Martok alive for years.

    Dax's shocked, "We can't go to warp inside a solar system" seemed pretty lame considering that they did go to warp inside a solar system with no consequences.

    I'm happy for Worf that he will have a Klingon friend on the station.

    Even if the changeling could have survived the supernova, it would have been stuck in the middle of nowhere, with no way to get anywhere.

    All that said, I thought this was a great episode. The pacing was excellent, the characters stayed in character, and it was exciting throughout.

    Possible explanation for the "runabout parked conveniently in orbit" plot hole, and this is just my personal theory, nothing to back it up:

    I have the feeling that the runabout in orbit was left over from an old draft of "In Purgatory's Shadow", and by the time they finalized the screenplay for "By Inferno's Light" based on the events of the old draft, they realized their mistake but it was too late to change. Remember, at the time, season-long story arcs were in their infancy; DS9 was pushing the envelope as is, so a lot of mistakes probably happened.

    Here's what I think happened: The original draft of "Purgatory" had some version of "Worf and Garak discover the Dominion fleet, warn the station, barely escape, park the runabout in orbit of Internment Camp 371, hide it from Dominion sensors with technobabble, beam down to check it out and get caught". You can see how the plot point of contacting the runabout in "Inferno" flows much better from here. After the screenplay for "Inferno" was finalized, someone went back and revised the script for "Purgatory" so Worf and Garak got captured as soon as they found the Dominion fleet, either to save time or make it more dramatic. By the time the writers realized that this revision left a big plot hole in "Inferno", it was too late to correct.

    Nothing to back this up, just my personal theory. Or maybe the writers were just tired/rushed and said "yeah, we know this is a major plot hole but right now we're right up against a deadline and this is the best we can think of".

    "I yield. I cannot defeat this Klingon. All I can do is kill him, and that no longer holds my interest."


    Agree Paul.

    I will add however, that Worf's fight wouldn't have neant so much to me had Martok not been there to take part.

    Where was Odo in this episode? Seems like he would be the one on DS9 that could spot the Changeling.

    I don't see an inconsistency with Bashir changeling wanting to sacrefice himself-they are against KILLING another changeling, not one of them sacreficing themselves for the good of the rest. I do wonder about indirectly killing Odo though. Like, at least Martok changeling had a loophole, in that Odo was technically a solid at the time. Then again, technically the rule is "Never HARMED another" and I would say infecting one of their own with a virus would qualify as harming, so maybe the whole thing was just bullshit period.

    Also, that moment where Martok and Worf have respect for Garak for him facing his mental phobia is some damn great Klingon writing. You really would expect them to talk about what a dishonarable pussy he is but a little moment like that give so much depth to Klingon admiration for strenght and courage.

    Wow. I have to say this is probably my favourite comment forum out of all of Jammer's reviews. It was a genuine pleasure reading through all the comments in this thread, especially the observations from Jammer and $G, and many others, on how all Alpha Quadrant species put aside their grievances to work together as a whole on both the individual and communal levels.

    I agree with Yanks: Worf's scenes were that much more meaningful because of Martok's presence. It's been said that Worf sees more character development in DS9 than he ever did on TNG, which is probably due in no small part to Martok and the friendship that grew between Worf and the good general. They both worked very well together and had a natural chemistry, and got good episodes (for the most part). Most of all, Martok made Worf a better person. Nearly all of the Klingons we've seen interacting with Worf seem to bring out the worst in him: Duras, the Duras sisters, Alexander, Gowron, Kurn even (much as I like his character). Martok, however, is the brother, mentor and pillar of support whom Worf has unconsciously sought for his entire life, and he himself embodies all that is good about Klingon culture: nobility, a willingness to sacrifice himself for his friends and allies, and unwavering loyalty, not to mention a very Klingon sense of humour.

    Garak was as stellar as always and I enjoyed the bits where Martok and Worf acknowledge their respect for him, and when Worf takes the time on the runabout to tell him that he did well. Strejda hit the nail on the head: it's great writing and showcases the Klingons at their best. It's interesting to note here that Martok is the one to praise Garak first, with Worf following suit; a small, but significant detail which foreshadows their future dynamic with Martok being in some ways the mentor of Worf.

    Also agree with Luke that the scene where the Romulans ask to join the DS9 fleet is probably the best part of this episode arc. Watching Sisko's delivery of 'I'll be damned!' and welcoming them to the fight is highly satisfying and provides a sense of closure.

    One last thing I'd like to note is that I vastly preferred the Romulan uniforms here. I hated the designs on TNG, which made them look like devious sofas.

    Hello Everyone!

    I just finished watching this one again and liked it as much this time as I did the first time.

    My biggest thought(s)... Changeling/Bashir was able to turn the ships shields into Super-shields, able to withstand the heat and pressure of a star. Well, if it can do this, I'd think All Jem'Hadar ships would have Super-shields. It cannot be something that only works on Federation equipment. Or was this just the technology, thought long (Star Trek) lost, from the TNG episode Suspicions?

    I really thought Odo could tell who a changeling was just by being around them. He was around Fake for a month, but never realized who it was? @William B brought it up as well, and for some reason Odo was referred to in this episode, but we suddenly don't see him. Perhaps he could only tell after he was fixed, but even then, he'd have been around the Doctor at some point...

    I'd forgotten the Romulans show up here, asking to join the fleet. It brought a smile to my face.

    Would putting ships right in front of the wormhole with piles of proximity torpedoes help? It seems that it is a choke-point, and if anyone or anything started to come through, just fire before they quite get out. As a ship explodes, it might take out more, maybe even starting a chain-reaction. Those super-shooters they showed us on DS9 might come in handy for that as well. Maybe not for this episode, but for the future, to keep reinforcements from coming through. Just a Fleeting thought...

    @Quarkissnyder made me laugh out loud, by noticing the weirdness of the Jem'Hadar taking them right to the place they wanted to be. Heh...

    I really did like the makeup of the prisoners (not on their faces). A Romulan watching the door so a Cardassian can go through the wall, with a Klingon or two looking on. I don't know if any of the races like or dislike the Breen, but having one there as well, quietly watching until just the right moment to strike, was nice. And they have been doing this for a long, long time. Also, while some of them might have been there because they were replaced, I figured some of them were survivors of the earlier Romulan/Cardassian attack. Oh, and always remember, never turn your back on a Breen.

    You know, when the Klingons (lots of Klingons) get kicked out of Cardassian space in about the amount of time it takes to read this, one of the commanders just happens to be Gowron? What in the world was he doing there in the first place?

    I really enjoyed this two-parter. Very exciting and enjoyable. The first time I watched this, and saw the baddies head toward Cardassia, it was so unexpected I had to back it up and watch that part again. Dukat had almost, almost become an ally, at the very least a shade of grey. Heh, not any more. :)

    Have a Great Day Everyone... RT

    Felt like this episode spent a lot of time posturing with a rushed ending. Right off the bat we get Dukat's "defection" which creates the 2 teams: Dominion/Cardassia vs. Federation/Klingons etc.

    It's pretty good episode overall but some things bothered me: Worf being able to defeat all those Jem'Hadar soldiers seems a bit of a stretch. And then just as he and the last Jem'Hadar leader are about to get shot, Garak's transporter (which is another stretch) works and they're beamed to the Runabout, which just happened to still be in orbit (i.e. the stupid Jem'Hadar didn't take control of it).

    So Garak has to overcome his claustrophobia -- is this to make it seem like what he did is heroic? It was already borderline heroic but I don't think the writers needed to throw in the claustrophobia part -- just eats up time. The other part that eats up time is Worf's fighting and the whole Klingon honour thing.

    Nice plan the Dominion/Cardassians set up with trying to supernova a sun. What I don't get is why a Changeling (Bashir) has to be the one sacrificed to do this. Aren't the Changelings revered as Gods by the Jem'Hadar? The Defiant going to warp and tractoring in the Runabout commandeered by Changeling Bashir also had no margin for error.

    3 stars for "By Inferno's Light" -- the continuation of the main DS9 story arc has changing allegiances and resets the storylines; Dukat's a bad guy again and I like that. Another appearance from Gowron is always welcome -- lots of good elements here but the way it's all executed isn't the best with too much time spent on the wrong things.

    Why does the changeling stay in Bashirs form until the end? In the runabout it could have changed to it's original form, right?

    Enjoyable two-parter, I won't repeat the many excellent comments that have been made. The show's had some continuity issues - did they re-order these for the DVD release? I hope so. A big dominion episode without Odo seems lazy. And I always get the impression that the last ten minutes are written in a one day rush (typical Hollywood). I really like Martok and agree that Klingons have been fairly boring and one-note most of the time - but Martok is an excellent character, with depth and credibility. He definitely helps Worf (who I like, despite his lack of good scripts) become a better part of the show.

    "By Inferno's Light" excels in further altering the political landscape of the Star Trek universe. Cardassia joining the Dominion is completely organic and logical, building on events from "The Die is Cast", "The Way of the Warrior", and Gul Dukat's character. It's tragic, but it makes complete sense that Dukat would sell out his own people to regain his power and influence. What it doesn't excel at is wrapping up the plot threads from "In Purgatory's Shadow". There's a sense that there isn't enough material for a full two-parter. As a result, both the prison storyline and the station storyline feel stretched out, and the episode isn't quite as thrilling and tightly constructed as it could and should be. There are also some pretty major plot holes as pointed out above.

    As an episode, this is a 3, but I'm going to give it a 3.5 for the ways it completely upended the series. bravo to the writers for that. I don't think @William B is being crazy or grumpy for not being totally on board with this one.

    Upon re-examination, I will say 3 stars for the two-parter as a whole. I remember them being great, but like a lot of Season 5, it was just 'pretty good' on re-watch. On first watch this two-parter is riveting, and this episode resolves the previous episode's threads well, but in retrospect, you get the sense that this is all table-setting for superior future episodes.

    The second part is almost never as good as the first part, because the second part bears the burden of wrapping things up.

    And that's true for this two parter. I did like the Bashir reveal. And the Garak and Worf & Martok stuff was great, as was the presentation of the different races ("never turn your back on a Breen") - even if the contrivances used to wrap things up were a little . . . contrived.

    More identity, things not what they seem stuff. It's interesting that in the very next ep, Bashir calls himself a fraud multiple times.

    I liked the Dukat stuff, though I gotta say, what does the Dominion get out of the agreement with Cardassia, exactly? That's my whole problem with the Dominion . . . I don't understand them and they're not scary.

    Just what does it mean, to become part of the Dominion? What terrible things will befall you? I get that their vengeance is terrible if you dare try to leave them, and of course, no one likes to give up their autonomy, but . . . what horrors await Cardassia? What horrors would await Kronos or Romulus or Earth, if they were forced to become part of the Dominion? And why, exactly, is the Dominion bound and determined to take over the Alpha Quadrant? They don't trust solids, I get that, so why not just close the wormhole?

    Or at least, use this recent big show of their incredible power, to get whatever concessions and guarantees they need, from the Alpha Quadrant?

    More than anything, they want to be left alone, but the solids won't leave them alone and mistreat them. So their goal is the eventual take over and control of the entire Universe, I guess? Then they'll have the solitude and security they seek?

    Anyhow, it's all just a vague mess to me. The Dominion is more confusing than scary. They're no Borg. Or Xindi, for that matter.

    A very good two parter on the character development aspect. A mess on the "war story" development - no suspense, just confusion. Will the Dominion really attack? Will they go back to dilly dallying as they did last season? Do I care?

    As is often the case, I find myself disagreeing with almost everything you posted here, even though I think the two-parter isn't the best in the series.

    " A very good two parter on the character development aspect. A mess on the "war story" development - no suspense, just confusion. Will the Dominion really attack? Will they go back to dilly dallying as they did last season? Do I care?"

    I don't really see what's confusing here-the Dominion has made inroads in the Alpha Quadrant, so they have a base from which to attack the Klingons and the Federation. They never planned to attack yet-they want to wait to amass their forces to the point that they can completely obliterate the Federation. Last season, they did not have a base of attack in the Alpha Quadrant, somewhere to retreat to if they lost. Now they do-in fact this is what they were doing last season and for the first half of this one-they were negotiating with the Cardassians, who were in that state due to the war with the Klingons, which the Dominion helped instigate. They were not "dilly dallying". As to whether you care, I think the Dominion is one of the best creations in all of Star Trek that results in some of the franchises' best thematic explorations of ideas like faith ("Treachery, Faith, and the Great River") and honor ("Rocks and Shoals"). Yes, those are from future episodes, but I feel those themes were always present with the Dominion. So I personally was very invested in them up to this point. They're very well developed, and they cast some of the most memorable actors in the franchise to play them, be them one offs like Scott MacDonald from "Hippocratic Oath" or recurring characters like Jeffery Combs as Weyoun from "To the Death" and "Ties of Blood and Water". I guess I'm really struggling to understand your frustration and disappointment with them, especially considering you negatively compared the Dominion to the Borg, a concept which was run into the ground and ruined by Voyager, and the Xindi, whom I didn't find nearly as interesting or well developed. Different strokes I suppose.

    "Just what does it mean, to become part of the Dominion? What terrible things will befall you? I get that their vengeance is terrible if you dare try to leave them, and of course, no one likes to give up their autonomy, but . . . what horrors await Cardassia? What horrors would await Kronos or Romulus or Earth, if they were forced to become part of the Dominion? And why, exactly, is the Dominion bound and determined to take over the Alpha Quadrant? They don't trust solids, I get that, so why not just close the wormhole?"

    All of these questions are pretty clear to me. To start with the last one, the Dominion could close the wormhole, but that doesn't take care of the solid threat permanently, and from what we've seen, they have an infinite lifespan. It's better to ensure the Alpha Quadrant is no longer a threat now so they don't have to worry about it later. And since the Jem'Hadar fight their battles for them, there's no personal cost. Just as there was no personal cost for European generals in World War 1 who sent millions of young men to their deaths, so they had no problem doing it. Now, onto what happens when a world becomes part of the Dominion and why it's so awful-the Founders are a group of fascists. That in and of itself is a pretty good explanation for why people are so scared of becoming a part of them, but they're also a group of genocidal warlords who are willing to use biological warfare to achieve their aims ("The Quickening") and to genetically engineer slaves to do their bidding. No one in the Federation, a free society, would be willing to make concessions to a group like that, even with a show of power (This is shown in an episode you haven't seen yet, "Statistical Probabilities"). Last time the free world made concessions to fascism, it didn't work out so well-it resulted in France being taken in weeks. I use all these real world parallels because I'm certain the DS9 writers had them in mind-it shows that DS9 is doing what Trek's supposed to do: provide a reflection of the human condition through a sci-fi lens.

    Years later, and no one has mentioned the alien in the cell that really looks like the disguise that Leia wore at the start of Return of the Jedi.


    Nah I've seen that mentioned online many times, its the most hilarious bit of knock-offery to the point where it makes you wonder if its deliberate

    Currently doing a DS9 rewatch and have just reached this episode. The performances are so on the button for this two parter. That teaser in part 2... the conversation between Kira and Dukat, and Dukat's delicious revelation - is chilling and exciting!

    Side note; During DS9's initial run I gave up on it - somewhere around early season 4. I have a vague memory of becoming disillusioned with what seemed like every episode being about the war/coming war, but I picked it up again around 2003 from where I left off and was then hooked on developments. I can't explain why I would give up on it when these major developments were happening, except to say that I was probably still stuck in TNG mode at the time I unfairly gave up on DS9. The whole war arc is one of the best things that happened in DS9.

    Great episode, and once again a fantastic performance from andrew Robinson. At this point in the show's run he's being used more and more. It's a shame he was never bumped up to main character status.

    Nitpickers corner : so was that changling on a suicide mission or what? Also, even if the Bajorian sun went supernova the light from the explosion would reach the fleet far sooner than the supernova wave. They could all warp away to fight another day (albeit at the expense of everone left behind on Bajor and DS9).

    It does seem odd that a changeling would commit suicide even to destroy an enemy fleet. The changelings always valued their own lives pretty highly. They don't seem like the suicide bomber types.

    Plus if blowing up a star is a thing.... well why don't they do it more often? Kind of renders the Tox Utat rather pointless doesn't it?

    And spoiler: isn't it nice of Ziyal to forgive her dad for trying to blow her up AND BAJOR!!!!!! a few episodes later. Forget the occupation, how about attempted mega genocide!

    In conclusion, did they really think this whole blowing up the Bajoran sun thing through when they wrote this episode?

    The dominion has these nice long range transporter. So they would have just beamed the changeling away.
    The whole destroy the sun, destroy the fleet thing makes not much sense. Sure the station and the wormhole are closer to the sun than Bajor but still it would take the explosion probably several minutes longer than sensors picking up a supernova.
    Considering that the Dominion would kill not only Romulan soldiers but also billions of people on Bajor it seems pretty likely that they would have created a united front.

    About Dukat. Ok, killing you daughter is definitely bad parenting.

    Although I do find the resolution between Ziyal and Dukat to be somewhat pat, I've always chocked it up to Ziyal being raised on a prison planet. What with the slave labor and likely meager rationing coupled with who-knows-what kind of treatment by their captors, Ziyal is used to high levels of abuse. Of course that doesn't make everything healthy, naturally, it just builds on the notion that the Dukat-Ziyal relationship is very chaotic and unstable for both of them even if they put up a good front.

    As for the supernova, okay it's not good science, but at least they're trying to incorporate Sci-Fi elements into the show. DS9 has this often-contested problem of being too contemporary and not futuristic enough, so I'd rather they give us something cool looking like a supernova over something more believable like a conventional bomb on Bajor.

    Well. When writing up my comment for the last ep, the first thing I wrote was a rant about Dukat and how he's never really been "redeemed" at all in my view. I wrote the rest, looked back at my Dukat rant that didn't fit too well into the rest of the comment, and thought "man, is this really relevant? Dukat's barely in this one. Should I even include this?"

    Glad I included it now, because oh boy, that was basically the last chance I had to rant about Dukat before the guy went and proved me very, very right. I'm shocked, but I really can't say I'm surprised.

    Cardassia's taken us on a rollercoaster over the course of DS9. We had hostile Cardassia always lurking uncomfortably close to Bajor, we had weak and defanged Cardassia minus the Obsidian Order, and now we've got Dukat's Cardassia that's gleefully skipping right over to the baddies' side. Yeah, how long's that gonna last until Dukat gets tired of being harangued by Vorta and co? There goes Cardassian self-determination --they're Founder lackeys now. No coming back from this, not with the Dominion as the nigh-unbeatable threat they are.

    I have surprisingly little else to say, but I loved the prison scenes -- both Worf fighting damn near to the death (the Jem'Hadar are just big ol' Klingon fanboys aren't they) and Garak having panic attacks in the wall (the pressure of finishing his father's work, as if the claustrophobia wasn't enough). Made for some intense stuff. Doesn't feel as well-constructed as last ep, but I loved this anyway.

    Time for the bullet points, then:

    - I liked Ziyal's little interaction with Quark... who's casually planning for all eventualities. The station's owner may change, but Quark is eternal. Reminds me of the "Welcome, Klingons!" banner that got rolled out in 'Rapture'.
    - I'll be very happy to see more of Martok, as a wiser type of Klingon. He's a fixture on the station now, huh? I'll take him over Eddington any day!
    - I'm getting a little tired of that "Cardassians on a rooftop watching a broadcast" stock footage they keep using (this is at *least* the third time). It looked unnatural and kinda silly the first time they used it, and it looks unnatural and kinda silly now.
    - "By Inferno's Light" (excellent title, I love linked two-parter titles) could very well refer to the nova of the Bajoran sun.
    - I'll never get tired of Sisko effortlessly wreaking verbal destruction on Dukat. "Funny, I thought it was built by Bajoran slave labour."

    A good episode, even if it doesn't quite live up to the first part of this story.

    Dukat's "defection" makes perfect sense, and for once, Worf's one dimensional "honour above all" persona gets to shine as he suffers through endless poundings from Jem Hadar soldiers. And again, we see another side to Garak, as he struggles through his phobia, even earning the respect of the Klingons in the process.

    With that said, the episode does have some weaknesses. I don't have a problem with the runabout being parked at the prison - it makes perfect sense for the Dominion to retain it until they can get a couple of founders over to mimick Worf and/or Garak (or even someone else!) But the magical ability to hack a life support system to transmit the security codes needed to access the Runabout, and then to instruct it to beam all non-jem hadar lifeforms aboard? At literally the microsecond that Worf is about to be blasted into dust?

    Heavily contrived technobabble for the win!

    Similar applies to the Founders overly complicated plan to fly something into the heart of the sun to trigger a supernova.

    First it's hard for me to buy into the idea the payload that a Runabout could carry would be able to trigger a supernova. Suns are really big, y'know (give or take brown dwarfs and other post-nova left overs)!

    And even if you do accept some technobabble catalyst explanation for this, there was still no need to use a runabout or to launch the attack from the station. The Dominion had months to bring supplies through the wormhole; they could have brought over a few dozen stealth nova-missiles (for redundancy), sneaked them into the Bajoran solar system and then left them in orbit around the sun ready to be remote-triggered.

    (I suppose it'd increase the risk of discovery, but just as suns are really big, the free space in a planetary system is REALLY big...)

    But still, this was a moment when DS9 finally got an opportunity to move away from one-shot, zero-consequence stories and do something far more interesting than yet another "character study". And it succeeded pretty well, overall!

    I think of this episode as "Garak in the Wall." Robinson, as always, is outstanding. And the fact that his version of heroism brings praise from the Klingons speaks more than enough.

    "By Inferno's Light" opens with the Defiant and Gul Dukat's Bird of Prey assembling to face a Dominion fleet, which has recently crossed over into the Alpha Quadrant. It's a dramatic moment, topped suddenly by the revelation that the fleet is heading to Cardassia, who've forged an alliance with the Dominion. To our further surprise, Dukat's Bird of Prey joins the Dominion fleet.

    When it comes to the second episode of two-parters, DS9 tends to have a better track record than TNG. Its second episodes are rarely as good as the first, but they oft come close. And before its silly ending, "By Inferno's Light" comes very close.

    And so the episode jumps to a Dominion concentration camp, where Worf, Bashir, Martok and Garak act out a low-budget version of "The Great Escape". Garak "digs a tunnel" and "technobabbles an escape route", whilst Worf is forced into combat with various Jem'Hadar warriors.

    The latter scenes are surprisingly great, Worf convincingly sketched as a skilled warrior, besting countless Jem'Hadar despite his numerous broken ribs. Impressed with Worf's fighting abilities, the Jem' Hadar concede victory and refuse to kill him when ordered to do so by a Vorta; we thus see the continued breakdown of relationships between the Vorta, the Dominion's managerial caste, and the Jem'Hadar, the Dominion's warrior caste.

    DS9 is great at writing dialogue for Dukat when he is at his most tyrannical. Echoing the speech of countless similar real-world figures, Dukat's constantly talking about Cardassia's destiny, its natural superiority, its god-given right to rule, always counterpointing a kind of social Darwinianism with a fear of softness, outsiders and a "deviating from its past". In this episode, elevated to a position of power within Cardassia by the Dominion, Dukat can finally cut loose. The racist madman within him fully emerges, as we see here when he broadcasts his plans to slaughter Klingons, Maquis and strengthen all Cardassian borders. "We will reclaim all that we have lost", he says, and shall "destroy all who stand in our way" for "my son and all our sons" (never daughters; like all fascistic cultures, his is a highly masculinist culture, women rejected like Dukat shunts aside his own daughter).

    This episode works well as a "prison escape" tale, and has neat details, like the silent Breen warrior in our heroes' cell, a cool and helpful Romulan woman, and General Martok himself, who forges an affectionate relationship with Worf. Garak, meanwhile, is cast in the Steve Mcqueen role ("The Great Escape"), slightly claustrophobic but forced to tunnel his buddies to safety.

    Some great scenes then follow: a Klingon fleet arrives at DS9, led by the always amazing Chancellor Gowron. Sisko pressures him to restore the Khitomer Accords, thereby restoring the Federation/Klingon alliance. Later Dukat threatens Sisko and tells him he intends to "retake Terok Nor for Cardassia". Sisko dares him to try. A combined Federation/Romulan fleet then arrives at DS9, which mostly serves to remind how sucky Trek ship-models look post "DS9".

    Then we get to the episode's climax, which is extremely silly and so stops this from being a flawless adventure. The Changeling Bashir steals a runabout, fills it with technobabble, and guides it toward Bajor's sun. He plans to trigger a supernova which will destroy the Romulan, Federation, and Klingon fleet at DS9, and also Bajor itself.

    We're thus asked to accept several incredulous things here: that such a dangerous weapon can be constructed, that it can fit in a runabout, that a runabout can "enter a sun and deliver this weapon", that this weapon was detected by the Defiant, that our heroes can "decipher" the Dominion's plans within seconds and via a simple scan of the runabout, and that the Dominion knew a combined Fed/Rom/Kling fleet would turn up at DS9.

    The idea that the Dominion would use the Changeling Bashir and a Federation shuttle to deliver this superweapon is also silly. They risk their plan being spoiled this way. Logically, they should use one of their own ships, and position it behind the sun where it can't be detected.

    The introduction of sun-destroying super weapons also destroys any sense of verisimilitude. If these space-faring superpowers have access to such technologies, nobody should be fighting the kinds of fleet battles, and squabbling for territories, like we see in DS9. Either stick to a strict analogy of WW2 era combat, or extrapolate what real combat/Imperialism looks like given what we know of TNG/DS9 era technology.

    Also confusing is why the wormhole aliens let the Dominion fleet across the wormhole. Presumably they know Bajor will not be annihilated by the exploding sun, and are setting up Cardassia to be decimated in the future. The wormhole aliens seem to thus be willing to risk billions of lives, so long as the best and most safest possible outcome for Bajo is created, decades in the future. No one else seems to matter to them. Which begs the question why they didn't intervene further to stop the Occupation itself. Or even the formation of the Dominion. It's a bit confusing; their motives and logic remain inscrutably alien.


    I am going to retcon this episode in my mind and presume the changeling was merely seeking to trigger some kind of solar flare akin to what we saw in Images in the Sand with Martok's ship in order to destroy the station, not Bajor itself.

    The idea that you can make a sun go supernova with some replicated stuff and a runabout is a) bad science - there is no way this is technically possible even with Star Trek technology; b) totally world breaking in its implications.

    This plan also elevates Gul Dukat to a cartoonish level of comic book villainy at a time long before his character had taken the turn to glowing red eyes shooting hellfire out of his hands.

    I am even going to assume that the show does retcon this plot point as the conversation in Waltz would have been alot shorter if Sisko could have brought up the time Dukat tried to explode Bajor murdering its 10,000,000,000 inhabitants in their little debate. Even half-mad delusional Dukat would have had to concede the point.

    Jason said: "totally world breaking in its implications. "

    Yeah, it's one of those things - like "going back in time by spinning around a sun" - that I just censor out. And it happens so fast in this episode, that it's easily forgotten about.

    Jason said: "This plan also elevates Gul Dukat to a cartoonish level of comic book villainy"

    I assumed Dukat didn't fully know about the plan. I don't think the episode makes it explicitly clear that he knew what the Dominion were doing.

    What I love about this episode:

    * The empathy shown towards Garak for having a panic attack so severe that he had an anxiety induced seizure. That level of panic is realistic, especially given that he had survived a cave-in.

    * The Klingons talking to each other about Garak’s courage when he goes to finish the job anyway.

    MARTOK: There is no greater enemy than one's own fears.
    WORF: It takes a brave man to face them.

    I actually like the notion mentioned by Dax here...that there is some danger in utilizing warp drive within a solar system. But we've seen countless examples of warp drive being implemented in solar systems ever since "to Neptune and back in six minutes", and not just in a solar system, but from planetary orbit. I can totally buy that entering warp in the vicinity of a planet would have deleterious effects.

    Teaser : ***.5, 5% 

    After the recap, Kira and Dax re-board the Defiant, accompanied by that patented bland Chattaway battle music. She, a runabout and Dukat’s BOP (which I’m only now thinking should have been called “el Quixote Viperino”) confront...the entire Dominion fleet flooding out of the wormhole. To O’Brien’s surprise, the fleet banks, erm, right, which means they’re leaving DS9 behind to make for Cardassia, apparently. El Quixote Viperino makes what appears to be an attack run against the fleet, but a little phone call reveals that Dukat is actually joining the fleet, not attacking it.

    DUKAT : I'm afraid I have a confession to make, Major. For the past few months, I've been conducting secret negotiations between the Dominion and Cardassia. And as of last week, Cardassia has agreed to become part of the Dominion.
    KIRA: You can't be serious.
    DUKAT : Goodbye, Major. You and I on the same side. It never seemed quite right, did it?

    I can’t say I agree at all as some of the best Kira and Dukat stories we’ve had on this series happened after the Cardassian military fell. But...Ira is writing this week, so we shouldn’t be surprised by self-congratulatory metatext. Kira determine to blow up the Quixote without a second thought, but of course it’s too late.

    Act 1 : ***.5, 17%

    On Rura Penthe Dos, our heroes, along with unnamed Romulans and Breen plot their next move. Bashir reveals the crawlspace to Worf, who suggests using Tain’s signal to contact the runabout and get themselves beamed to relative safety. Of course the runabout is just hanging around in orbit of the asteroid...not impounded by the Dominion, or destroyed or disabled...just idling around the inescapable prison. DS9 is Star Trek for grown-ups, don’t you know? Garak is tasked with this job because, again, Worf was once out-smarted by a door and Bashir...well Bashir obviously has no advantages to offer anybody. Before they can get on with it, all prisoners are summoned to common area where a limey little Vorta announces that all the Cardassians are being released thanks to Dukat’s new treaty. Oh, except Garak has to stay put since the government’s new leader--who is also Dukat--specifically made an exception in Garak’s case.

    The new status quo is summed up nicely in the next shot back on those Orwellian screens on Cardassia Prime, where Dukat addresses his people (as usual, there are two extras on camera to observe). His speech is also heard in the Wardroom on DS9, where he assuages his people’s concerns and implores them to embrace their new alien overlords. His first promise, instead of a chicken in every pot, is to vanquish every Klingon and Maquis enemy within their borders. This hearkens back to “Chain of Command.”

    MADRED: ...That is what the military has done for Cardassia. And because of that, my daughter will never worry about going hungry.
    PICARD: Her belly may be full, but her spirit will be empty.

    Like every successful fascist state, the key to maintaining power is exploiting material comforts. Full bellies, enemies thwarted, security established. These are once again achievable goals that can be leveraged against any potential objection to the, you know, quasi-genocidal conquering force that has doubtless filled the skies over Cardassia. Dukat’s invocation of his sons continues the theme of the Cardassian philosophy on family, as well as returning our political/character framework to the build-up from Season 3.

    Anyway, Sisko’s immediate concern is ferreting out their saboteur who, O’Brien informs him, managed not only to prevent the wormhole from being closed, but tricked them into making it permanently un-closeable. The deflector dish can do ANYTHING. It’s C-Bashir who actually says aloud the obvious, that there is a Changeling infiltrator aboard and that they should start blood-screenings. See, this is what I want to see C-Bashir doing--masterfully undermining our characters’ solidarity, not smirking evilly at the camera.

    Act 2 : ***, 17%

    Having found himself exiled *again,* Garak has taken up the task of teching the tech in the prison crawlspace. Because this story is rushed, we learn that Garak has always been extremely claustrophobic (quite the asset for a spy, no?). Some Jem’Hadar storm in, forcing the group to seal Garak behind the hatch to hide their work. They’re here to give Worf something to do. He and Martok happily stroll off for fun and games. But what game, exactly? Why, the only game! Martok explains that it was Iwannakitkat who cyclopsed him and warns Worf not to be so eager to face him. Instead, Worf will wrestle some other super-soldier. We spend a few minutes being convinced by Michael Dorn that those bathrobe callisthenics on the Enterprise weren’t just a way to pad out late-series teasers as he applies his martial arts technique and successfully owns his first opponent. Iwannakitkat explains that said opponent was their least experienced fighter and to expect more of a challenge next time.

    We check in on Ziyal who’s staring into space, hoping for the return of Julian’s boyfriend. Kira does her best to comfort her, leaning into Dukat’s duplicity.

    ZIYAL: I used to think my father was a hero. That even when he did something bad, he had a good reason.
    KIRA: Everyone has their reasons. That's what's so frightening. People can find a way to justify any action, no matter how evil.
    ZIYAL: You think my father is evil?
    KIRA: I can't judge people by what they think or say, only by what they do.

    Not exactly, ground-breaking, but an effective little exchange nonetheless.

    Meanwhile, a large group of BOPs has decloaked and Gowron himself request permission to dock at DS9. Holy Guest Stars, Batman! And indeed, C-Bashir heads up the treatment of Gowron and his men while the Chancellor laments the fateful turn their crusade has taken to Sisko. Sisko *really* wants to sweep all that Season 4 stuff under the rug and presents Gowron with a a copy of the Kitomer Accords. Left with few options, Gowron signs the accords.

    GOWRON: Think of it. Five years ago no one had ever heard of Bajor or Deep Space Nine, and now all our hopes rest here.

    Okay, Ira, calm the fuck down. Anyway, C-Bashir seizes on the moment for some nefarious something or other, ominously sneaking aboard a runabout and pushing buttons ominously. How ominous.

    Act 3 : **.5, 17% 

    On Rura Penthe Dos, Worf is continuing to kick ass and wail to Kahless, killing his fifth opponent in a row, much to Martok’s delight. Worf is characteristically exuberant over his victory in the ring, but back in their cell, Bashir field-diagnoses a number of broken ribs and looming medical danger. While that...Chad stuff is going on, Garak is trying to talk himself out of a panic attack in the crawlspace. I have a lot of respect for Andrew Robinson, and Prophets know he’s doing his best here, but the monologue simply lacks the skill and poetry necessary for me to engage with this contrived plot-point. I think the biggest reason for this is that Garak’s words are all obvious, expository utility. There’s no subtext or nuance, no letting the audience piece together different character threads. Garak could be anybody *telling* us (in isolated monologue, no less) that he has claustrophobia and that it’s crippling him. Anyway, it’s then fitting, I suppose, that Garak’s self-peptalk fails completely as we find him banging on the inside of the walls in a panic. Sooo...artificial extra obstacle cemented.

    On DS9, Kira reports more Changeling shenanigans to Sisko.

    SISKO: I'm sure the Chancellor will be willing to assign some Klingon troops to guard key facilities.
    KIRA: Klingons helping to protect Deep Space Nine. What an interesting concept.
    SISKO: These are interesting times, Major.

    Okay Ira, you’re getting on my nerves now. Enough with the cutesy metacommentary. Anyway, Dukat contacts Sisko privately in his office. They revert to those S3 days of open if polite contempt over the viewscreen. Dukat advises Sisko to convince his people to submit to the Dominion as the Cardassians have done. Sisko refuses of course, but Dukat’s message is actually much more personal. You see, Sisko is sitting in his chair, as far as he’s concerned. Terak Nor will be reclaimed along with every other occupied territory.

    DUKAT : That space station you're so fond of was built by Cardassia.
    SISKO: Funny, I thought it was built by Bajoran slave labour.

    Act 4 : **.5, 17% 

    Martok and Worf return to their cell after a seventh triumph. Martok is positively ecstatic considering their dire circumstance, but Worf seems finally to have had his fill of combat. Now THAT is ground-breaking. Cast in the shadow of Worf’s pyrrhic and painful victories, Garak resolves to confront his own contrived demons and complete their planned escape.

    O’Brien pops into the Infirmary to ask after a Klingon engineer he’s trying to help out and C-Bashir fails at small-talk, chatting up some new DAERTS he’s ordered for the pair in the midst of their impending doom. See, when the good guys do DBI, it’s textured storytelling; when the bad guys do it, it’s a sign of malice. Writing!

    Quark collects his paycheque, serving Ziyal her dinner and lamenting the demise of his business (...again...) in the face of appetite-less, sexless, humourless Jem’Hadar and Founders taking over the station any day. This does yield one very good line:

    ZIYAL: It might not be so bad. For all we know the Vorta could be gluttonous, alcoholic sex maniacs.

    On the Impossible Asteroid, Martok and Worf banter about HONOUR until Iwannakitkat begins the endgame. The smarmy Vorta condescends to both Worf and the Jem’Hadar about their unlikely similarities until Iwannakitkat volunteers himself to be Worf’s next opponent. They exchange catch-phrases because...this series is written by 12-year-old boys, and prepare for the Big Game while Bashir and the unnamed aliens nervously wait for Garak to save them all in their cell. Garak keeps talking to himself in vain attempt to convey characterisation, Worf continues his vain attempt to beat Iwannakitkat, and Bashir attempts in vain to pull the wool over the Jem’Hadars’ eyes over Garak’s whereabouts. Basically, everything is in vain.

    On DS9, heads nod and ships are launched with as much clichéd pomp as possible. We see that C-Bashir has hijacked the Yukon while the Starfleet and Klingon ships are joined by a wing of Romulan Warbirds. Kira reports that she’s picked up the Dominion fleet, meaning the Avengers have assembled just in time, it seems.

    Act 5 : **, 17%

    On Rura Penthe Dos, one of the Romulan extras is vaporised, the crawlspace hatch revealed, and Worf beaten down to the point he can barely keep his head above the ground. Martok leans in an informs him that “Honour has been satisfied,” because Klingon honour is a recuperated æsthetic commodity, not an actual ethic. Despite having almost nothing left, Worf refuses to stay down and throws himself into more pain and abuse. In their cell, Garak manages to avoid capture, the silent Breen attacks the head guard, and Bashir and the Romulan lady manage to kill and subdue the others (Mr Breen is lost, however. We hardly knew thee).

    Worf can’t even stand at this point and the Vorta wants Iwannakitkat to finish the match and kill him. But, Iwannakitkat trades in the same manufactured honour platitudes as the Klingons, remember, and so he yields *to Worf*, pissing off the boss.

    IKAT'IKA: I yield. I cannot defeat this Klingon. All I can do is kill him, and that no longer holds my interest.
    DEYOS: Shoot them both.

    Rura Penthe Dos must be in a Right-to-work state. Iwannakitkat gets vaporised by his own men, but Worf and Martok are beamed away to the magically-functional and available runabout just in time thanks to Garak. The runabout goes to warp without a hitch because...did I mention DS9 is the series for grown-ups?

    In the AQ, O’Brien is getting a number of confusing sensor signals. They should be inundated with Dominion ships, but they can’t actually get any weapons locks. But just then, Bashir’s message from the GQ makes it to Ops and Sisko puts the pieces together. He orders Kira to destroy the Yukon, which Bashir has piloted right up to the Bajoran Sun. Oh Star Trek. You’re always causing super novæ to solve your problems. Dax notes that the runabout has been rigged to explode, taking out Bajor, the wormhole, the station and the combined fleets of all the Dominion’s AQ enemies. The Yukon has also been “modified to resist weapons.” Uh-huh. But Kira has one more cliché up her butt, resolving to take the Defiant to warp and drag the Yukon clear of the star before it explodes. Sisko discovers that the those Dominion signals were faked all along and says:

    SISKO: Armageddon will have to wait for another day.

    Okay that’s it, Ira. Go to your room.

    There’s a nauseating little coda where Ziyal and Garak reunite in heteronormative embrace, O’Brien disguises his love for his replaced friend behind sarcasm, Worf and Jadzia make out, and Gowron and Sisko appoint Martok to a permanent post on DS9. And Dukat makes one more phone call to Sisko to congratulate him.

    DUKAT : One man's villain is another man's hero, Captain.

    Subtlety, thy name is Ira Behr. Jesus. Could this get any more hackneyed? Of course it could! Like an 80s cartoon bad-guy shaking his fist in the air, Dukat promises to avenge himself on Sisko “another day.” And he shall rue the day! Rue, I say!!!

    Episode as Functionary : **.5, 10%

    I’m really not trying to be harsh here. I know I have a reputation for taking the piss out of DS9, but really--I want to like every episode of Star Trek. I want to love every minute. But I can’t ignore what I see and hear. I will say about “By Inferno’s Light” that I was entertained. On a pure plot-development level, there isn’t too much to object to. I think the reorientation of all the major players (including Gowron himself was a nice touch) works quite well and, even without jumping the timeline, adding Martok to the extended cast is a great move. There are a number of contrivances and even more clichés than in the previous episode, but they aren’t galling the way such things can be.

    I’m pretty dissatisfied with the Romulans here--after the prequel 2-parter so carefully constructed a plausible alliance between the Tal Shiar and the Obsidian Order, this blunt and faceless “let’s all team up to beat the bad guys” thing feels especially childish. On a political level, what does feel real is Dukat’s betrayal. That this people would lean into fascistic propaganda after a year of getting their asses kicked reads very true and perfectly captures the Cardassian ethos. And Dukat finding a way to “save” his people by positioning himself as their saviour is *exactly* what I’d expect him to find a way to pull off. And yet this reveal still made for a powerful shock in the plot. I was also reminded of Tain’s similar viral video in “The Die is Cast” in which he chastises Cardassia for making peace with Bajor. The subtle irony was delicious. Really excellent stuff on that front.

    Where this episode falls flat for me (besides with Dukat) is on the character front. It’s notable that “Improbable Cause”’s star, Odo, is basically absent from this story, even with a Changeling running around the station causing havoc. Part of this oversight can be attributed to the truncated nature of this story, but it’s not like the episode didn’t go after character moments. There are lots of them. It’s just that they’re all clichéd, obvious, contrived, etc. Garak’s sudden claustrophobia is the prime example. You have a character with a rich and complex backstory, who’s personal motivations incited this entire plot, yet you have to invent this condition for him to overcome? Despite Robinson’s efforts and even ignoring the contrivance, the story didn’t actually do anything interesting with it. It’s just another obstacle to overcome. The Worf/Martok/Iwannakitkat dynamic is a little better in that it at least hints at the overlap between Klingon and Jem’Hadar society. I also liked that Worf eventually grew tired of fighting, even if he would never actually yield. And I get that Martok grew to respect Worf for his stubbornness, I mean courage, but I would have rather witnessed this relationship develop over dialogue.

    Dialogue isn’t this episode’s strong suit however, as the final absurd couple of scenes acutely demonstrate. As I said, functionally, this 2-parter manages to reset the series after “The Way of the Warrior” derailed the writers’ plans without totally abandoning the elements that have made the last 18 months of show engaging, like Worf’s & Ziyal’s presence, Bashir’s maturity, the added complexity between Kira and Dukat, or the advancement of the Maquis storyline. But it largely fails to capture the complexity of theme or character that preceding stories like “Improbable Cause” or “Paradise Lost” handled so well. It’s an important but ultimately shallow string of plot elements buoyed up by a number of hit or miss character moments. Oh and the self-congratulatory metatextual stuff is pretty sickening. Little endears me to a flimsy story less than pomposity.

    Final Score : **.5

    @Elliott I gotta hand it to you, your reviews are like guided missiles. Did a close friend of yours get maimed from a falling DS9 box set? Did Avery Broojs buy the last chocolate bobca at the bakery leaving you with nothing but cinnamon?

    You really do take the piss out of DS9 (as you put it) even for episodes that most fans consider high points for the series.

    But I will say that even as a fan I always hated the contrivance of them just beaming to the conveniently unmolested runabout and just sailing away from the heart of Dominion space - you're bang on that this is Saturday Morning cartoon stuff. It has always stuck in my craw and it's the worst thing in this episode. Garak's convenient claustrophobia never bothered me until you pointed out how lame and contrived it is. Now it bugs me. Thanks for that Mr. Assassin of Joy.

    I also like that you hone in on the really good stuff, mostly revolving around Dukat and Cardassia- because let's face it, that's what this episode is really about and what is well done here.

    @Jason R

    On Betazed, I am called The Assassin of Joy, Keeper of the Holy Rings of Piss Taking, Heir Apparent to the Desecrated Cows of Fandom

    I'll admit, I laughed like an idiot when the camera did a close up on changeling Bashir's plan being foiled.

    For me purgatories shadow and inferno's light is probably the landmark two parter of trek that surpasses best of both worlds. It's nuanced and layered , you can't blame Dukat for what he did , his speech perfectly embodies a Cardassia that was going to it's ruin and so a deal with the devil had to be made (funny because the season 4 finale, the female changeling pretty gave a death sentence to the Cardassians ) . In essence he was an embattled patriot willing to do what was necessary to turn the tide of a war on two fronts that wasn't going well. Just seeing the Klingnon fleet retreat from Cardassian space without a single battle scene gives you an idea what the familiar belligerents of the Alpha Quadrant are up against .

    Only negative in purgatories shadow is how sloppy and quickly Dukat was trying to cut bridges with everyone on DS9 ...I mean seriously was he expecting Kira to point a phaser 24/7 on the dude who would potentially bone his daughter . Except for maybe telling his daughter to get off the wasn't really necessary all this emotional jest.

    According to Memory Alpha, Bajor is 5.25 light years from Cardassia. If the Bajor sun went supernova, Cardassia would also be destroyed. Did nobody on Cardassia realize this?

    "According to Memory Alpha, Bajor is 5.25 light years from Cardassia. If the Bajor sun went supernova, Cardassia would also be destroyed. Did nobody on Cardassia realize this?"

    Ya but it would take a whole 5.25 years.


    "But a show cannot be a true science fiction if it is continually breaking the laws of physics."

    Warp Speed. Transporters. Two technologies that are central to all of Star Trek, yet should be classified as Science Fantasy. Nuff said.

    Why would the Dominion leave the shuttle craft sitting in orbit around the prison instead of capture or destroy it? Makes no sense. The rest of the episode was awesome though.

    Great two parter.

    As always, though, with the Changelings, while being able to physically mimic someone is a fantastic ability, their ability to impersonate someone like Julian so perfectly that people like Miles don't notice just seems ridiculous. This Changeling even operated on The Sisko!

    Also, seeing the real Julian in the earlier uniform where the top three inches or so is the department color... I think that just worked better than the newer uniform that replaces that with grey and the undershirt is the color.

    The newer uniforms are probably more believable but DS9 sets are already dominated by dark and drab colors and lighting.

    Gripping. A fantastic two-parter!

    Yes, some niggles here and there, but it's certainly four stars for me.

    Good episode and it was great that it raised several technical/tactical questions. For example, if the Domain were such a threat, why not close the wormhole? Same for the Founders? If they feared the alphas, why couldn't they collapse the wormhole? "Hardening" the wormhole was a good solution...but I would have liked to see this from the view point of the founders. To them it should have been imperative to keep it closed to protect the changelings. Maybe they predicted that the alphas and dominion would bump into each other regardless of the wormhole in the future.

    My other concern was how the Defiant couldn't destroy a runabout because of dominion modified shields. This makes no sense...both before and after this episode, the defiant practically one-shots dominion ships right and left. Why would a runabout be tougher?

    The conclusion to one of DS9 and Trek's very finest two-parters, with some very impressive plot twists and great character play - Martok and Worf admiring Garak for his facing his fear is a truly lovely moment.

    Chekov's Breen in the background all the time is a hoot as well.

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