Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"In Purgatory's Shadow"

4 stars

Air date: 2/10/1997
Written by Robert Hewitt Wolfe & Ira Steven Behr
Directed by Gabrielle Beaumont

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Elim, remember that day in the country? You must've been almost five."
"How can I forget it? It was the only day."

— Enabran Tain and Elim Garak

Nutshell: Extremely impressive. Startling, exciting revelations, and some major character highlights. One of the series' best.

Read no further unless you have either seen "In Purgatory's Shadow" or you absolutely don't care about being spoiled, because the surprises in this episode are part of what makes it so fascinating, and I will be revealing those surprises. With that said, I'll continue.

"In Purgatory's Shadow" is a huge, encompassing episode on the Dominion front of Deep Space Nine. It's also a stellar little Garak show. The overall package is yet another hour of DS9 that I would easily put up there with the very best.

In many ways, this installment feels like the long-deferred follow-up to the "Improbable Cause"/"The Die is Cast" thread from season three. It succeeds for many of the reasons that stellar two-parter did. While "Purgatory" isn't quite as convoluted in its plot workings as "Improbable" was, what happens in the course of the hour is easily as startling and compelling, and as the events unfold to the ultimate "To be continued" sign, we wonder how in the world they will wrap it up, and must patiently wait a week to find out.

In the meantime, we've easily got ourselves the most purely substantial and consequential episode since "Rapture," the best Dominion story since "Homefront," and the most interesting Garak-oriented plot line since "Improbable"/"Die."

As the episode begins, the DS9 crew receives a coded Cardassian message from the Gamma Quadrant. Garak is able to quickly decode it, discovering that it's from his mentor Enabran Tain, the former-head of the Obsidian Order presumed dead after his battle with the Jem'Hadar in "The Die is Cast."

This is the first of many surprises. I never expected to see Tain again after his ship exploded in "Die," but now that I think about it, it's certainly possible that Tain would've had an escape plan if he's as clever as the creators have always drawn him. I always found Tain interesting, and it was definitely nice to see this character again, as well as the revelations he has in store (more on that in a moment).

From here the plot quickly begins developing, unfolding into a huge canvas. At the same time, Behr and Wolfe's script offers a variety of interesting little character pieces. The way the smaller characterizations balance against the taut, important plot is stellar.

Opening the show, for example, is a quiet scene between Kira and Odo discussing his refound shapeshifting skills. It's sensible because it knows just how much time to devote to itself. The whole scene takes no more than a minute, yet it proves the writers haven't forgotten about the issue. The same goes for a later scene between Kira and Dax about the O'Briens' new baby.

And there's more. There's some winning character interplay involving the convoluted relationships between Dukat, his daughter Ziyal, Garak, and Kira. I won't go too far into detail on this matter, but the piss and vinegar between Dukat and Garak is welcome; the complex scenes between Dukat and Ziyal are interesting; Dukat's blaming of Kira for allowing Ziyal to pursue a friendship with Garak is an eye-opener (and Kira's reaction to Dukat's attacks further drives home the much-appreciated notion of the "real" Kira being back). Heck, even the scene between Worf and Dax works fairly well (much more than can be said of the last time we saw their relationship explored in "Let He Who Is Without Sin...", that is)—although I still think Worf looks too utterly confused whenever Dax is concerned.

The story's use of these character points is wonderfully handled. They aren't directly related to the plot in all circumstances, but they never detract from what's going on. On the contrary; they add to the overall texture of the episode.

Still, plot is a key element featured in "Purgatory," and there's a lot of it. I, for one, have been awaiting a major Dominion payoff that would dare to break from the status quo for some time now, and with the end of "Purgatory," it's certainly imminent.

The plot progresses as Worf and Garak venture into the Gamma Quadrant to track down Enabran Tain's signal. En route there's a wonderfully amusing Garak scene as he practices his lying skills on Worf. Garak's dialog is about as sharp as I've heard it (perhaps since the aforementioned "Improbable," which was the dialog show of all dialog shows). The way he talks of joining Starfleet seemed so initially sincere that even I thought he meant it. (You've gotta love this guy.)

To avoid Jem'Hadar surprises, Garak and Worf pilot the Runabout into a nebula... only to find a hidden Jem'Hadar fleet already hiding there. It has to be a prelude to an invasion, Worf realizes. Why else would the Dominion hide such a large fleet so close to the wormhole? The Jem'Hadar tractor and board the Runabout, but not before Worf sends out a signal warning the station.

Worf and Garak are taken to a Dominion prison located on an asteroid. It's here where some exciting revelations come flying at us like hardballs.

This prison (where a prisoner's crime is merely being an "enemy of the Dominion") seems to also be a place where the Dominion relocate those who have been mysteriously replaced by Changelings. Within minutes of their arrival, Worf and Garak find General Martok (J.G. Hertzler)—the Klingon replaced by a Changeling infiltrator two years ago and exposed in "Apocalypse Rising"—among the prisoners. (The Jem'Hadar, by the way, always enjoy fighting Klingons in their spare time).

Martok's presence is one of many very nice and intelligent touches to the story. It builds upon past stories (like "Apocalypse Rising" and "Way of the Warrior") and brings new realizations to the surface. For example, one disturbing point that comes to mind is that the blood screenings Starfleet uses to detect Changelings may very well be useless. If Martok was replaced two years ago, it would've presumably been before "Way of the Warrior"—in which case the Martok who performed his own blood screening in that episode to "prove" he was the genuine article was really, in fact, a very clever shapeshifter.

Perhaps the biggest plot surprise is dear Doctor Bashir. You see, Bashir turns out to be in this prison—because he himself has been replaced by a shapeshifter. The Bashir on the station is a Changeling spy who has been there for, as Bashir says, over a month. Judging by Bashir's uniform and the time indications he explains ("I went to bed one night and woke up here"), I'm guessing that he was replaced sometime between "The Ascent" and "Rapture." Upon this revelation I was sincerely shocked. It's a brave move on the writers' part (though I hesitate to think that all the nice renditions of Bashir in "Rapture" were Changeling imitations)—if there's one way to get the audience so viscerally involved in a subversive, convoluted Dominion plot, this is it.

Then, of course, there's Enabran Tain—who has been prisoner on this asteroid ever since "Die is Cast." His being alive was surprise enough, but there's a bigger payoff here that goes beyond Changeling trickery and imminent invasions—and it explains so much about Garak and Tain's relationship that one might say it explains everything. Tain is dying in this prison, and before he dies, Garak has just one request: that Enabran acknowledge him as the son he is. Tain resists, almost instinctively. Garak, being the son of the head of the Obsidian Order, has always been Tain's own Achilles heel, and based on what we know of Garak, Tain, and the Obsidian Order, it makes absolutely perfect sense that Tain would exile his son from Cardassia, to protect a "bigger picture." It's tragic, yes; but absolutely wonderfully realized, and Tain's deathbed scene with Garak is played so right that I can't imagine that the situation could've turned out any other way. Andrew Robinson, as usual, is stellar; when Tain slips away his reaction is so subtle, yet so revealing in a "Garak" kind of way. The scene is moving and so nicely done that it earns four stars for the episode all by itself. And the way Gabrielle Beaumont directs this scene and then presses on with plot right afterwards is superb. High, high praise is deserved all around.

As standout as this moment is, I don't want to take away from the rest of the story, because it as well is excellent. While Garak, Worf, Bashir, and Martok are dealing with their problem in the prison, Sisko and the crew prepare Deep Space Nine (with the little time they have) for the imminent Dominion invasion. This side of the story is also consistently compelling. There are many nice little moments that make the station's situation seem genuinely urgent and fearfully real. Everything—from Kira's short Defiant scout on the other side of the wormhole to see what's brewing ("Trouble," she says ominously); to Sisko's announcement that the recent Borg attack and war with the Klingons has left Starfleet "spread pretty thin" and susceptible to an invasion; to Kira's concern that the solution of sealing the wormhole to prevent an invasion would leave Bajor disconnected from the Celestial Temple; to the fact that Bashir is really a Changeling roaming the station ready to unleash an entourage of sabotage—everything here is relevant and fascinating.

"In Purgatory's Shadow" works on just about every level I can imagine. The characterizations are flawless, as far as I can tell; the plot is riveting; the revelations are surprising; the acting, directing, special effects, photography are all top-notch; and I was pretty much absorbed from beginning to end.

Right down to the moment the crew's attempt to seal the wormhole failed and the swarm of Jem'Hadar ships came streaming out of the wormhole.

Previous episode: For the Uniform
Next episode: By Inferno's Light

◄ Season Index

95 comments on this review

Wed, Nov 7, 2007, 8:52pm (UTC -5)
"I was pretty much absorbed from beginning to end."

Even upon my fourth or fifth viewing I was every bit as absorbed as my first. It is nearly flawless in every sense; story, script, direction, production, everything; and almost unutterably brilliant and creative.

"...and the swarm of Jem'Hadar ships came streaming out of the wormhole."

My first thought was, "LOCUSTS!!!"

Seriously though, quite possibly the best cliffhanger in the entire trek franchise.
Mon, Jul 28, 2008, 3:05am (UTC -5)
And to do it in the MIDDLE of a season. Big balls on these writers. Just another reason I absolutely love this show.
Wed, Mar 18, 2009, 2:46am (UTC -5)
From the DS9 Companion book, it's clear how little regard Ira Behr had for the TNG film franchise. Nonetheless, it was really nice to see acknowledgment that "First Contact" happened not just on our big screens, but for everyone in the Trek universe. The seemingly throwaway line about how the recent Borg attack has spread Starfleet thin helps to hold the "mythos" together, a la the more recent Trek novels.
Mon, Jan 4, 2010, 1:18pm (UTC -5)
Ira Behr had little regard for TNG in general, despite the fact that, were it not for that show, he'd never had gotten his cushy DS9 job.
Fri, Mar 12, 2010, 10:49pm (UTC -5)
There are a lot of sublime scenes here. The starting scene alone is wonderful. Even though it doesn't have any bearing on the rest of the episode it adds a bit of character building for the rest of the series. Another such scenes is the one between Dax and Worf before he leaves for the Gamma quadrant. For the first time we really sense they have relationship and that it's a peculiar one. A lot of Garak at his finest, but also some Worf with excellent dry humor.
Just one small plot hole: why didn't the changeling infiltrator warn the Dominion Tain was sending messages from his prison? It hardly could have been outside his reach of you consider the other acts he did.
However, other than that the story is tight and perfectly paced. One of DS9's better episodes.
Sun, Aug 22, 2010, 11:39pm (UTC -5)
I love Garak. One of my favorite things about this show is it's ability to make you really care about secondary characters as much, if not more, than the regulars. I adore Garak and Nog. I also really enjoy Weyoun. Actually, I enjoy all of Jeffrey Combs' characters on Trek. He brings a great sense of humor to everything he does.

But, back to Garak. I find the scene with Tain on his death bed to be really touching. I cried the first time I saw it. When Garak tells him that line about all his enemies being dead, it reminded me of watching some of my own relatives pass away. My great aunt started to forget what year it was towards the end of her life, and started to believe her husband was still alive. Right before she passed, my family got to the point where we would sort of go along with it because it seemed to make her happy to believe that he was still there. I don't know, maybe Garak really did kill all of Tains enemies. It certainly wouldn't be totally out of character for him. But, I got the same vibe from that scene as I did from my family with my great aunt. It was a very well written segment, and a great performance by all.
Eric Dugdale
Thu, Nov 18, 2010, 10:54am (UTC -5)
A minor additional comment: If there's a Breen in that prison, then that suggests (s)he was replaced by a Changeling. Adds a bit of (otherwise lacking) background to the Dominion/Breen alliance down the road.
Sat, Jan 29, 2011, 2:50pm (UTC -5)
Martok said "If you're Worf, then you must be Garak", but how would Tain know of Worf? He joined DS9 after the events in Season 3 after which they were captured...
Fri, Feb 18, 2011, 10:01am (UTC -5)
Jay, Bashir was there. He could have told Martok and Tain about everyone on the station.
Fri, Mar 11, 2011, 10:50am (UTC -5)
The revelations in this episode are great (especially Tain & Garak), and it was a great idea to save one of those revelations for Part II. But what really drives this episode, for me, is that the whole time I KNEW that the attemmpt to seal the wormhole would fail and the ships would come through. Somehow that made it more thrilling than if it was a surprise, because the characters think that everything will be fine, but the audience knows it won't be.
Fri, Mar 25, 2011, 6:45am (UTC -5)
I really love these 2 episodes, now it's getting really started, war with the Dominion.

I regularly watch DS9, again and again, can't get enough of it. For me without a doubt the best TREK ever.
W. Scott Richardson
Wed, Jul 6, 2011, 3:48pm (UTC -5)

The locusts comment is incredibly apt, as Capt Sisko had predicted that Locusts would destroy Bajor if they signed a treaty with the Federation. This was literally what we were seeing at the end of this episode, as when the Dominion brought war to the Alpha Quadrant, Weyoun sought a peace treaty with Bajor because of their unattached status rather than subjugate them had they been part of the Federation.
Tue, Jul 26, 2011, 12:43pm (UTC -5)
This was probably DS9 at its peak. But there's something that really bothers me about this episode (and, in turn, the following one). And it could have so easily been fixed.

Bashir, in prison, is wearing the old-style DS9 uniforms (seen from Emissary to The Ascent). This indicates that since he's been captured, Starfleet started wearing the unis we see until the end of the series.

The problem with this is that it strongly implies that the Bashir changeling was on the station for some episodes that heavily involved Bashir, and required some really complex medical training.

Putting aside the fact that the changeling's medical knowledge (particularly when it comes to Starfleet equipment) is really unbelievable, the uniform issue means that the changeling was there when Odo became a shapeshifter again (and when the baby shapeshifter died), when Sisko nearly died because of his visions and when Kira was kidnapped. Bashir doesn't show up in the Eddington episode, but that's kind of meaningless.

I've often wondered if the prison camp two-parter was intended to air immediately after The Ascent, but got pushed back for scheduling reasons.

It's a little thing, but putting Bashir in the old-school uniform makes the three of the previous four episodes really strange in hindsight. The problem could have been easily fixed if prisoner Bashir had worn the gray-shoulder uni.
Mon, Aug 1, 2011, 1:14am (UTC -5)

I think it just means the Bashir changeling was playing for bigger stakes. If you're willing to allow that he had acquired the medical knowledge (and I think that's not unreasonable, given that it would have been a necessary part of impersonating Bashir), his actions are perfectly logical.

I would argue he was put there specifically to make sure the Dominion invasion went off without a hitch (Dukat said he had been in talks with the Dominion for "several weeks"). He wouldn't endanger that mission by not saving Sisko--for all the fraught emotional issues, the surgery itself wasn't particularly complex, and had Sisko died, he might have been exposed. Ditto if he behaved differently in the Odo episode (although the idea that he let the baby changeling die when he might have been able to save him is evocative). I don't remember him playing an important role at all in the Kira episode.

I love the idea that the changelings are clever enough to successfully impersonate someone for that length of time (and they obviously did with Martok for a good deal longer), and focused on the big picture in such a way that they will continue to behave exactly like the people they are impersonating until their moment arrives. It really adds to the sense of uncertainty and serious threat they offer as an enemy.
Fri, Aug 5, 2011, 2:50pm (UTC -5)

I get what you're saying, and I understand why the changeling would have wanted Sisko to live. But he let another changeling die AND had to fool everybody into thinking he had the medical knowledge of a Starfleet doctor who (we'd find out later) was genetically enhanced. That's pretty hard to swallow.

I think the creators just goofed here. Had they put the real Bashir in a new uniform in prison, this wouldn't have been an issue. Or if they'd waited until "For the Uniform" (heh, the irony) to change uniforms, this wouldn't be a thing at all.
Sat, Oct 8, 2011, 6:09pm (UTC -5)
Bashir has the old style uniform here, so he was gone before the events of Rapture, in which the new uniform made its debut. So the "Bashir" that assisted Odo and Mora in "The Begotten" was actually a changeling.
Captain Tripps
Wed, Nov 2, 2011, 10:13pm (UTC -5)
The uniform issue pretty much HAS to be intentional, meaning they wanted to tied Bashir's abduction and replacement to a specific point in the timeline. They specifically chose that uniform, fully aware of the implications. Which were probably what Lizzy mentioned, that they play the long con.
Mon, Nov 7, 2011, 3:23pm (UTC -5)
@Captain Tripps ... whether the Dominion wanted to play the long con or not, it's just unbelievable that the Bashir changeling could have had the advanced medical knowledge to a) save Sisko in 'Rapture' b) act like a Starfleet doctor (who would have a more limited knowledge of changeling physiology than a real changeling) when dealing with the baby changeling and c) completely fooled O'Brien and everybody else for a month.

And, remember, we never see a changeling doing anything but giving orders -- i.e. there are no changeling doctors, and we've never heard anything about their super abilities to amass knowledge. They are clearly crafty. But faking advanced medical knowledge of several species?

Now, let's say the creators made a conscious choice on this one. Well, then it was a stupid conscious choice because of the points I've made. No amount of 'long-con' justifications change that.
Mon, Dec 19, 2011, 2:22am (UTC -5)
Comcerning Bashir, I thought the same as a lot of people here but if you go to the beginning of the episode, they talked about the O'Brien baby being 1 month old. Therefore, regardless of the uniform, they meant that 1 month has passed since "The Begotten". That fixes a lot of confusion people have. The Bashir changeling did not replace the real Bashir until AFTER the baby was born.
Wed, Jan 25, 2012, 5:19pm (UTC -5)
Actually they said that the baby was almost a month old, while Bashir was in the POW-camp over a month.
Sat, Mar 31, 2012, 2:27pm (UTC -5)
The Bashir-changeling was highly trained and skilled. I can believe that. But they really should have moved the baby changeling episode until after the two-parter. I just can't buy that the Bashir-changeling wouldn't link with the baby and try to heal it or something. IMO, that was a big stumble by the writers.
Mon, Apr 2, 2012, 12:35pm (UTC -5)
@Justin: Another excellent point. The fact that Odo doesn't show up in the second part (though he is mentioned) has always intrigued me. Was Rene A. unavailable for that episode? Normally, whenever another changeling is involved, Odo is a big part of the story.

As for the changeling being "highly trained and skilled", it's unbelievable that the Founders could provide such great training to approximate the knowledge of a Federation doctor with genetic enhancements like Bashir.
Tue, May 1, 2012, 4:51am (UTC -5)
4 Stars, this exemplifies what I liked about DS-9, the War arc goes finally forward and the prison character work is great.
Thu, May 31, 2012, 9:04pm (UTC -5)
@Paul: Well, given that nobody knows he's genetically enhanced at this point, and Bashir was desperately keeping it a secret at this point (ie not doing anything superhuman to draw attention to himself, even while Doctoring) I don't see why the Changeling would have to mimic that specific part of Bashir. So far as anyone knows, including the station, Bashir's just a normal human Dr. It can't be too hard to prepare him for that cover.
Mon, Jun 4, 2012, 12:06pm (UTC -5)
@David: The point is, Bashir is a REALLY good doctor. Even if his genetic enhancements weren't known at this point, being able to mimic his medical abilities would have been that much tougher for his changeling replacement.

Also, interesting thing I found out the other day. Sisko mentions the recent Borg attack at one point in this episode, but the stardates don't work for that. First Contact took place in and around 50893.5. That puts First Contact much later in the fifth season (just before "Blaze of Glory").

It would have made more sense to put the events of First Contact around the time of "Rapture", and shortly before. At least, then, the uniforms AND the timing would have worked. Now, the fact it's never mentioned that the Defiant and Worf (and presumably some DS9 underlings) fought the Borg cube in First Contact is annoying.

But it's really too bad that the stardate from Picard's log entry didn't work better with DS9.
Tue, Jun 26, 2012, 2:31pm (UTC -5)
Just noticed the throwaway line about the Bajoran wormhole and Dr. Kahn of Trill...a nice nod to continuity and "Rejoined".
Tue, Aug 21, 2012, 9:34am (UTC -5)
"At the first sign of betrayal, I WILL KILL HIM... But I promise to bring back the body."

Best line of the 5th season, by far. Worf always makes me laugh.

Gotta love Wolfe and Behr's flair for character humor and interaction, assuming that Worf line was theirs, of course.
Sat, Sep 22, 2012, 12:28pm (UTC -5)
Garak: "I'd like to get my hands on that fellow Earl Grey and tell him a thing or two about tea leaves!" You got to love this guy.
Wed, Nov 21, 2012, 9:13pm (UTC -5)
An absolutely great two-parter. Builds so well on many threads from previous seasons.
Fri, Mar 15, 2013, 10:02pm (UTC -5)
Rewatching this for the first time in a few years - great so far.

I just noticed an interesting detail that works as foreshadowing. When Dukat informs Ziyal that she's to leave on a ship to Cardassia, he clearly seems to know about the imminent arrival of the Dominion fleet. But Dukat hadn't yet been briefed about the situation as near as we can tell, so why would he know what was to come? Of course, we *know* why he does...
Wed, Aug 14, 2013, 5:57pm (UTC -5)
I have a workaround for the Bashir uniform issue. As others have commented, it's unfeasible to believe that Bashir in Rapture, The Darkness And The Light and The Begotten was a changeling. However, the real Bashir in this episode specifically says "I went to bed one night and woke up here".

It's simple: Bashir was wearing his old uniform as pajamas.
Thu, Oct 24, 2013, 9:48pm (UTC -5)
An interesting and exciting episode. Things are heating up!

Thu, Feb 20, 2014, 4:02pm (UTC -5)
Bashir stops Garak from leaving the station, but considering Garak seemed to be about to steal a Federation runabout, I don;t see how Garak would have gotten very far in any event.
Thu, Mar 20, 2014, 3:26am (UTC -5)
Agree with Jammer that the major plot developments of this episode were thrilling and well done. Disagree about the effectiveness of the minor character scenes. The back-to-back "Darling must you leave me?" scenes were trite and grating. Dax/Worf have such a one-note relationship that I lIng for them to break up, and sadly the writers have done the most obvious and dull thing possible with Ziyal/Garak and Ziyal/Dukat. The last time we saw Ziyal I commented that the writers were thankfully dodging the naive-girl-in-love cliche. Guess I overestimated them.

Not four stars, but worthwhile for the suspense and excitement of the Dominion plot.
Mon, Mar 31, 2014, 8:48pm (UTC -5)
May I also add to the answers on how Changelling gain knowledge:

@Paul: The Link is shown in later and earlier episodes to be a biological form of connection between founders and their race at large. They can share information in that state at a rate far superior to any other species except perhaps the Borg (Kind of interesting to think about, the most advanced and scariest enemies in Star Trek come from Collectives :P)

In any case, that explains how a changeling can gain advanced medical knowledge. Also, remember the episode, "The Search", Bashir, Sisko, O'Brien, and Dax's memory were all scanned into a virtual reality. They could have mind probed Bashir to get his knowledge.


As fir the episode,

I hand it down as one of my favorite Star Trek Cliffhangers. I also love the revelation that Tain was Garak's father. It makes perfect sense between them. Tain has always been an intriguing character, spymaster et al.

Sat, May 10, 2014, 7:32pm (UTC -5)
I had always figured that Changling Bashir had created the headache spasms to keep Sisko from foretelling the Dominion/Cardassian alliance.

Also that Changling Bashir had a hand in the baby Changling arriving as to analyze Odo's reactions.
Sun, May 11, 2014, 5:52am (UTC -5)
I guess I go back to Odo's 'When I become a rock, you scan a rock.' When a Changling becomes a solid I figure they copy them, brain patterns , memories, and knowledge et al. So Changling Bashir would have the knowledge to cause the life threatening symptoms when he saw Sisko having visions that would potentially expose their plans, and then alter the Captain's brain so that he stops getting them. I forget, was there anyone who challenged his diagnosis, or did everyone (except Sisko, of course) just take Changling Bashir's word for it that Sisko would die if left untreated?
Sun, May 11, 2014, 4:32pm (UTC -5)

I find it hard to believe that a changeling would sit idly by while one of its own slowly died off, considering how much value they place on their own lives... Wouldn't he want to take it back to the Great Link? Granted, maybe the whole thing was a ruse to give Odo back his abilities, but that seems as though it would go against the Founders' final decision. Granted, I haven't seen far enough into the plot yet to be completely sure, but...
Mon, Aug 11, 2014, 12:29pm (UTC -5)
Wow..... just wow. AMAZING trek here!

Tain & Garak. I had some suspisions, but BAM! :-)

Again, Garak's performance makes an episode. Wow.

We figure out Bashir on DS9 is a frellin Changling!! (me and everyone else, the first time we saw this, were going... "when/where/how?") lol

Best line?

"GARAK: Because lying is a skill like any other, and if you want to maintain a level of excellence, you have to practise constantly"

A story, B story - everything. One of DS9's best.

5 out of 4 stars.
Thu, Aug 21, 2014, 11:34am (UTC -5)
Agree with Jammer that the major plot developments of this episode were thrilling and well done.

It's a fun episode, but I definitely disagree. The development that led to this episode is non existent. Basically "Yeah I saw his ship blow up, but trust me he survived, because retcon"

The rest of this episode is just shoehorned in. There is no build up to it at all in the episodes previous.
Thu, Aug 21, 2014, 11:38am (UTC -5)
Also, many of you here are treating this show like it is real. It's not. Bashir was not a Changeling in the episodes previous, because the writers were very lazy and didn't create an arc. They just made it all up in this episode.
Mon, Sep 22, 2014, 9:29pm (UTC -5)
Bashir must have been really tired that day to have fallen asleep in his uniform ;)

One of Trek's best cliffhangers of all time.

And honestly, is there any character on this series Garak does *not* interact well with? Worf and Garak in the runabout = classic.
Thu, Nov 13, 2014, 8:14am (UTC -5)
"Also that Changling Bashir had a hand in the baby Changling arriving as to analyze Odo's reactions." - Garrison

Maybe that was a rogue changeling who didn't agree with how Odo got his powers taken away, and whipped up this method of giving him his powers back?
Fri, Jan 9, 2015, 9:16am (UTC -5)
Considering that Changelings have been infiltrating the alpha quadrant super powers for at LEAST a year by this point, and probably since before The Search, it is entirely plausible that one of them could replace Bashir without any problem at all. In fact, assuming they couldn't is a failure to recognise the accomplishments of the Dominion over thousands of years.

Regarding the baby Changeling, the infiltrator couldn't have saved it without revealing himself. Bashir was the last one to be informed of the Changeling baby's condition (both Odo & Morah knew before he did). By the time he could have stepped in, the baby was being watched constantly by the resident alpha quadrant expert on Changeling biology. If the station personnel knew enough about the Great Link to be able to diagnose the relation to the Link in Things Past, then they certainly would have been able to recognise what saved the baby if the infiltrator had used the Link to save it. Assuming the baby could be saved in the first place.

Regarding Tain, the Dominion does have transporter technology. If Garak and Odo had time to escape the ship, then the Dominion had time to board it and take prisoners.

As for the runabout being in proximity to the prison, there has been a consistent tendency for the Dominion, and especially the Jem 'Hadar, to overconfident arrogance. There is nothing 'odd' about the situation at all.

The only real problem with the two-parter is in how easy it is to destroy a star/solar system, which is a recurring problem in all of Star Trek. If it is so easy, then all manner of episodes in every installment of Star Trek become questionable. What point is there in any war or significant conflict when you can annihilate a species by blowing up a few stars. Only the Borg and the Q are demonstrably so advanced as to be completely immune to such a tactic.

The Founders used a rogue planet as their home in The Search, so such a tactic wouldn't work on them either, but in their case it would seem they recognise the potential threat of being close to a star. Whereas the Q don't even exist in a way to be threatened so, and the Borg have spread and grown so far that they potentially have dozens of homeworlds and thousands of self sufficient stations and vessels. A single drone could conceivably resurrect the entire collective, so even the destruction of every star in the galaxy wouldn't be much threat to them.

However, all the alpha quadrant powers would be vulnerable to a strategy of nova inducement. Blow up or otherwise destroy the stars for Earth, Vulcan, Andoria, etc.; and the Federation will start falling apart rather quickly. The Klingons and Romulans are even more vulnerable, as their empires are so centralised upon the Klingon and Romulan homeworlds.

Whether or not a nova or super nova could destroy the Bajoran wormhole is a completely pointless question. If it were so easy to render solar systems uninhabitable, some extremist individual or species would have taken advantage of it somewhere along the way.
Brian S.
Thu, Feb 5, 2015, 2:37pm (UTC -5)
In order to be effective, any changeling infiltrator would have to acquire an extensive knowledge of the replaced person's history, memories, skills, personality, mannerisms, behaviors, job description, access codes, etc. You can't have a Changeling infiltrator replace Bashir who doesn't remember basic things like his ex-gf Leeta's name, or know the basic codes/passwords for accessing controlled drugs and chemicals. Can't impersonate a doctor if you can't tell the difference between a kidney and a spleen.

That undertaking would require a significant amount of research and observation. I'd assume they hooked Bashir up to some kind of brain scanner or VR device (like the captured crew of the Defiant was hooked up to in "The Search, Pt II" to gauge their reactions to a Dominion takeover) and downloaded/memorized what they needed to know.....including medical knowledge. Changeling Bashir didn't need to be a great Doctor, just a decent enough one to fool others for a few weeks or months.

For the events in "Rapture," I'm not convinced a strong medical background was necessary at all. Hook Sisko up to a diagnostic brain scanner, read the results, consult the medical library, report. Someone with a nurse's training level probably could've done that. Even when it became evident that Sisko would need brain surgery (which, after his collapse, probably didn't take a doctor to ascertain), Bashir might not have been the one to do the surgery. Bashir wouldn't be the only viable medical professional on a station that size. Just sit back and "manage" or bark out instructions straight from a medical journal while some other staff surgeon performs the actual procedure. Dr. Crusher was involved in many important medical procedures on TNG where she had her staff do a lot of the actual tissue cutting, appliance waving, etc. Getting a staff surgeon or nurse to do most of the heavy leg work wouldn't have been too suspicious

As for the baby Changeling, perhaps the Doctor-Ling knew that the radiation level was too high and/or that the baby would die anyway (and that even Linking with it wouldn't be enough to cure it). Linking doesn't cure everything. Besides, while it's unfortunate the baby couldn't survive, the Founders sent a bunch of these infants to the far reaches of the galaxy. They had to assume some of their infant explorers wouldn't survive the journey or would be killed by whomever found them. If the Founders were that worried about these babies, they never would have sent them out in the first place. And there's no indication they are trying to track down the rest of their traveling offspring. So Doctor-ling was probably prepared to let the baby continue with its original mission unaided (even if it meant likely death) in the name of carrying out his own mission.
Sat, Feb 14, 2015, 12:00am (UTC -5)
@Niall, you're funnier than Garak, I laughed REAL loud about the PJ's.

Sat, Mar 7, 2015, 1:13am (UTC -5)
I have one big disagreement with almost everyone: I don't think Garak pulled this A story off alone, Martok stood out more than anyone, he played so many parts, he was so Klingon, to assist Worf, but in all other instances one would have trouble even thinking he was a Klingon, his relationships with each character was stellar.
Tue, May 5, 2015, 10:40pm (UTC -5)
Why don't I just say everything at one time and not keep adding different comments.

Does anyone know why Kira is always so concerned with the wormhole being closed? The prophets/aliens can open and closed the wormhole whenever they want, which they have proven on more than one occasion. I know many ships have passed that way before and they never found nor detected the wormhole, I think they, the prophets/aliens put it there so the emissary could find it when he reached the sector.

I liked the idea that Bashir went to bed wearing his old uniform as PJs, but I think the writers got a little ahead of themselves and forgot all that Bashir had done before this episode and used the wrong uniform to make it look like he had been there for over a month. He could have used the new uniform and it would have been OK.

Needless to say in spite of the strange holes, this is one of the best cliffhangers eespecially mid season) DS9 have come up with.
Sat, Jun 20, 2015, 4:18am (UTC -5)
@Paul It's a little thing, but putting Bashir in the old-school uniform makes the three of the previous four episodes really strange in hindsight. The problem could have been easily fixed if prisoner Bashir had worn the gray-shoulder uni.

Hopefully you still visit this website Paul. Your comments seem to suggest that you think Bashir being a changeling in those previous episodes is "strange and a problem". Even if it was an accident by the writers I like it better thinking it was intentional. Now either way it is canon now and whether you like it or not that Bashir was a changeling. He was really smart medically and an imposter. Ronald D Moore commented that Bashir must have been real tired and fell asleep in his uniform. Not the wrong uniform. Moore is stating that yes Bashir fell asleep in the old uniform while it was still in use. I think it was brilliant and o find it funny that the changeling did surgery on Sisko and helped deliver obriens baby. I hope you read this because I'm curious as to why you don't like that he was a founder. I thought it was awesome on the writers part
Sun, Jul 12, 2015, 9:30pm (UTC -5)
Ah, here it is! This episode is the reason I started watching Star Trek.

My father was a fan of TOS when I was a kid, and I remember kind of liking it, and I can remember going with him to see Star Trek IV in the theaters when it came out, but neither really got me into watching any of the spinoff series, or subsequent movies.

Then in my early 20's I got a job as a security guard which required me to work overnights. I've never been able to fall asleep right away when I get home from any job, I need a little wind down time. At this particular time, Spike TV was showing back-to-back episodes of TNG followed by back-to-back episodes of DS9. Well I happened to be flipping through channels one day and caught this particular episode(along with part two) and I can remeber being rivited! Now that security job didn't last long(man it sucked!), so I didn't get to finish catching up on all of the series at that point, but it didn't matter, I was hooked.
Sun, Jul 12, 2015, 9:33pm (UTC -5)
Now i've made it through every series, except for Voyager. Just can't find anything I like about that one, only made it to a few episodes into season 2.
Nathan B.
Wed, Aug 5, 2015, 10:23am (UTC -5)
Great review of a great episode!
Thu, Aug 20, 2015, 4:29pm (UTC -5)
@Phillip: I actually only stop by very occasionally anymore. But I'll respond to your comment.

Basically, I think DS9's biggest flaw was too regularly overplaying its hand -- i.e. stacking the odds so highly against our heroes that a positive outcome seems goofy after the fact.

Really, the creators should have set things up for Bashir to be replaced sometime after "The Begotten". He doesn't appear in "For the Uniform", and you could presume that the events of that episode cover the month in which he was in the prison camp.

Even if you figure that Changeling Bashir had the medical knowledge to pose as Bashir in "Rapture" and the subsequent Kira episode -- which just seems laughable to me -- shouldn't he have somehow found a way to take the baby Changeling to the Gamma Quadrant to try to save it? Of course, you can question the Changeling's actions in "By Inferno's Light", as causing the Bajoran sun to go supernova would have harmed Odo, who was a Changeling at that point.

Maybe the creators should have pushed "The Begotten" to after "By Inferno's Light".
Nebula Nox
Sun, Sep 6, 2015, 12:54pm (UTC -5)
I think the baby changeling was planted by changeling-Bashir. It was a test of Odo - the link is obsessed with Odo - by seeing how well he treated the baby they decided to take him back as a changeling. So the baby never died, it just became part of Odo.

When you consider how amazing it is for Odo to regain his former self, doesn't it make more sense if it is deliberate instead of random?
Nebula Nox
Sun, Sep 6, 2015, 1:24pm (UTC -5)
Remember, Bashir, fake or real, did not deliver the O'Brien baby - the Bajoran midwife did. In fact, Bashir acted bored and excused himself.

I think it makes sense that Bashir was a changeling from that episode on.
Sun, Nov 22, 2015, 3:09pm (UTC -5)
"Aren't you Klingons supposed to kill yourselves when you're taking prisoner?" "Not when there are still enemies to fight." "Or hope of escape."

That sounds contradictory and hypocritical with what we learned in TNG "Birthright". What if the Klingons captured after the Khitomer Massacre believed there was hope for escape? The Romulans certainly didn't stop being enemies afterward, even if they did sign a peace treaty (and I don't recall such a thing being mentioned in any episode). Instead, those former Klingon prisoners were ostracized from society despite meeting these criteria? Perhaps how they're treated is dependent on whether or not they're successful in escape, but if so, a Klingon who escapes and makes it back to the homeworld should be welcomed... unlike that Klingon's father in "A Matter of Honor".

Other than Klingon society proving how absurd it is once again, this episode is great. Garak is perhaps the most interesting character I've ever seen in a Star Trek series thus far.
Sun, Jan 3, 2016, 11:44am (UTC -5)
A few points bothered me during the episode:

-I don't believe Garak would try and run through the wormhole with a stolen runabout. The Defiant would have been on him quickly. Instead, he would have set out to get station personnel to go along with him in the first place. (I don't think he was planning to get caught by changeling-Bashir)

-The Dax/Worf meeting should have been rewritten a bit. I buy her being worried about Worf and wanting to see him off, but I don't buy her being disappointed he was going on the mission.

-Changeling Bashir delivering sandwiches was kind of a clumsy way for the writers to try to be ominous.

Still, a strong episode, with lots of plot turns & good character moments.
Wed, Jan 20, 2016, 5:38pm (UTC -5)
Anybody else notice Dax says "Sisko" instead of "Benjamin" while talking to Worf? Only time as far as I know. She also called "Ben" in one episode.
Diamond Dave
Sat, Jan 23, 2016, 7:54am (UTC -5)
Ah, stirring stuff. One of those rare first-parters where we not only get the set-up but we get some resolution too. The Garak/Tain scenes come as something of a surprise and wonderfully played, with a big revelation too. Of course, the bigger revelation is Bashir and that comes as a real shock as it's completely untelegraphed - and makes the other big reveal, that Martok is still alive, almost look insignificant. It's in the subversion of the expected that this episode excels.

It also excels in all those little character moments dotted throughout for Worf, Garak, Dukat and others. And all with the promise of a full scale invasion for next week. Doesn't get much better than this. 4 stars.
William B
Mon, Jan 25, 2016, 12:09am (UTC -5)

Like the classic Garak and Bashir discussed in "The Wire," "In Purgatory's Shadow" is in part a multigenerational Cardassian epic, with Dukat and Ziyal on the one hand and Garak and Tain on the other as some of the major relationships that tie the episode together. The impending doom of the Dominion buildup forms the backdrop for personal family stories, and in some ways this episode (along with the second part) seals the divergent directions that Garak and Dukat go, as well as (by implication) the paths that Cardassia can take. For the nonce, Garak and Dukat are not only on the same side, but in something of the same position -- outcasts from Cardassia proper, whose primary friends and allies are non-Cardassians, both of whom caring about Ziyal -- which makes their fiery confrontation early in the episode that much stronger. Dukat's status as outcast from his own people and semi-trusted ally brings him close to his nemesis Garak, which ends up being the trigger for his realization of what the reality of his loss of status really is. Dukat does find fighting a one-man war against the Klingons romantic, somehow, and that he gave up his career and status to save his daughter's life has something to do with his conscience...but the reality of Dukat's romantic inclinations and having a conscience is that people actually treat him like an ordinary, non-dictatorial guy, which he does not want. One of the unspoken ironies in Dukat's exasperation and anger that Ziyal can find it in her heart to ignore the evils Garak did in the past and that Kira can tolerate, distantly, that Ziyal has some affection for Garak is partly because Garak and Dukat's stories -- people who did evil things long ago, killed many people, and are now outcasts -- have so much overlap; Ziyal's starry-eyed idealism is the reason she can overlook that Dukat was once an evil dictator and it also means she can overlook that Garak used to be a torturer-spy. Dukat enjoys the life of an outcast-renegade, along with the grudging respect that he earns showing himself as more than just a dictatorial opportunist, until he realizes that he is treated no differently from other ex-powerful men whom he happens to hate. Dukat does care about Ziyal, and does have some genuine desire to see her live as her own person and not just as an extension of him, but the consequence of his "generously" allowing Ziyal to choose her own life is that she continues choosing it when it goes against his interests. In a lot of ways, I might have preferred had it been declared that Dukat had not *officially* decided, before this episode, whether or not to make the deal with the Dominion, because so much of the Dukat material works wonderfully of showing a man who is on some level just now realizing the consequences of his choices to live with diminished power -- and who finds that he does not like it in practice as much as he liked it in theory.

In any event, Dukat's deal with the Dominion to make Cardassia strong again is an interesting move for the show, which I mostly approve of, and while it was revealed in "BIL" the character material to justify it is mostly in this part. What is interesting is that it really does follow in some senses from his "renegade" arc: the Klingons' war on the Cardassians, which Dukat took it upon himself to fight personally, is one of the key reasons for joining the Dominion. Dukat seems to know (in upcoming episodes) that the deal was risky and that they have lost much, and I suspect that if Dukat had had a military that was more receptive to Dukat's idea that they should fight back, that he might have tried to deal with the Cardassian leadership that existed (and which he was a part of) rather than bring in the Dominion to bring him to power and wipe out his enemies. Dukat's belief that it is worth making a deal with the Dominion to save Cardassia from its enemies makes him the villain, but it is consistent with the same motivations that made him the antiheroic renegade in "Return to Grace" and "Apocalypse Rising." It's also, of course, about Dukat believes is good about Cardassia...and yet the focus on Dukat's anger at Ziyal spending time with Garak underlines how much this is not really about "all Cardassians," after all. I don't think it's as simple as that Dukat genuinely is disinterested in anyone but himself; he does want what he believes is best for Cardassia. But what is best for Cardassia when he was feeling benevolent towards his former enemies was a Cardassia of peace; what is best for Cardassia when he feels powerless and disrespected is for Cardassia to rule the Alpha Quadrant with an iron fist, of course with him as ruler. Dukat is chasing the ghost of some past Cardassia, wanting to relive the feeling of power he had as prefect of Bajor with the whole quadrant bowing before him. It seems likely that the Cardassia he wants to "restore" never truly existed.

While Dukat chases the ghost of some past Cardassia, Garak seeks out his own ghost of Cardassia past; Tain not only basically *was* the Obsidian Order, but it seems to me that he also basically *was* Cardassia for Garak, in some ways. While Garak and Dukat are of an age, Garak does have a lot in common with Ziyal, given that we also learn here (if we didn't suspect before) that Garak is an illegitimate child of Tain's. Perhaps we did not need to find that out so literally, but Garak's status outside Cardassia has been something of an unwanted child all along, figuratively at least: like the orphans abandoned on Bajor, Garak was left outside Cardassia to fend for himself, and like Ziyal he was essentially left to wait out his days alone until his father decided to try to kill him. There is something sad about Garak’s almost entirely unreciprocated loyalty to Tain, which in general reflects Garak’s relationship with Cardassia as a whole, where he holds Cardassian culture on a pedestal while they rejected him and sent him into exile after service to them which left him with self-loathing and with blood on his hands. To do the end of the Garak/Tain story right before the reveal of Cardassia having joined the Dominion is actually pretty smart, because (SPOILERS) it is after Cardassia joins the Dominion that Garak genuinely has to start working against Cardassia in order to save it, which means putting aside his deeply held but no longer believed convictions that Cardassia is *right*. So of course he runs off to save the man who was his father and the head of the Order, and the last trace of the Cardassians who attacked the Dominion, and for his trouble he gets thrown in a cell, roundly criticized by Tain, and, in part two, almost executed, where his ostracization from Cardassia is completed by Dukat’s ascension to ultimate power.

The show has de-emphasized Garak/Bashir (sadly) lately, but in some ways I half-wonder if having Bashir at the prison camp was done solely so that he can be there for Garak to talk to when he arrives; Garak rants (in a self-absorbed manner) about Tain to Bashir, and later he allows Bashir to stay while he has his deathbed talk with Tain, which always struck me as startlingly intimate. For someone who keeps so many secrets, I think it might be that if Bashir is there to witness it, Tain and Garak’s conversation is “real” in a way it could never be if it dies with Tain, with no one else ever to hear it. With Dukat spending the episode frustrated that no one would acknowledge his manifest destiny, Garak makes the demand after risking his life to be taken seriously as a son, and relatedly as a person. It’s a touching scene, all the more so because it is such a small-scale moment played out on the brink of a major shift in galactic power that partly happens because of Dukat’s own ego. Garak’s finding the courage to press the issue and ask for Tain to speak to him as a son rather than as a protégé, and his having Bashir there to witness it, some of his secrets briefly bared, is some growth and change for the character since the events of The Die is Cast, as well as the sense that Garak recognizes that this will be his last chance to have the personal recognition that he needs from his father, which Cardassia as a whole may never give him (and, with Dukat as the new head of government, is unlikely to).

The Bashir reveal was very effective, though in the long run I wonder if it was worth it. The Worf/Garak material is very entertaining, and it’s great to be introduced to the real Martok; I like how Worf’s easy relationship with Martok both contrasts with and mirrors Garak’s uneasiness with and eventual reconciliation with Tain—especially since Garak and Worf both remain outcasts from their own people outside the prison camp. The material surrounding whether to close the wormhole was well done, and this was some of the most effective material yet at providing the proper foreboding. The episode’s main weaknesses have to do with the implausibility of the prison camp itself, but I think I can overlook that. I think this earns 4 stars.
William B
Mon, Jan 25, 2016, 12:22am (UTC -5)
I've got to add -- Garak's lies about joining Starfleet as "practice lies" are both very funny in and of themselves, and also help remind us how much Garak builds his life around Tain's image, and yet on some level has maintained a kind of spirit inside him that goes against Tain's values. Being genuinely hurt that Tain refuses to acknowledge him and finally being honest with him about it, rather than lying, and rather than taking it out on the whole quadrant the way Dukat does, is weirdly heroic, especially for someone who has basically been programmed to view emotional honesty as sentiment and thus as wrong. I also like the way the episode has Garak's deceptions -- relatively minor but still annoying -- at the start of this episode, in a way that contrasts nicely with the much more damaging betrayals Dukat does.
Wed, May 11, 2016, 1:56am (UTC -5)
"In Purgatory's Shadow" - damn, what a magnificent title! So evocative. "Deep Space Nine" has some the franchise's best episode titles, but this and it's sequel are probably the best. What can I really add to what Jammer has already said in praise of the episode? This might be one of my shortest reviews ever. Outstanding characterization for all involved, wonderful plotting, directing, acting and special effects, truly top-of-form writing and world-building that is off the charts (both retroactive and forward-looking) (we even get a call-back to "Rejoined" of all episodes!) all combine to make this one a real winner. Given that this was Gabrielle Beaumont's only directing job on the series, it's a true shame that she didn't come back more often. This woman knew her craft!

There are two things I'll point out that I really liked (which Jammer didn't cover) - one from the directing and one from the writing. Two scenes are especially well directed and edited. First, when Sisko tells Garak that he has someone in mind to join him on his trip into the Gamma Quadrant we instantly cut to Worf and Dax discussing the situation in Worf's quarters on the Defiant. That quick cut was wonderful. We skip over material that was completely unnecessary (Worf getting the assignment and Dax later learning about it) and instead get right to scene that matters. A lesser script would have included that padding and bought the episode down. In fact, a lot of Trek episodes make that exact mistake. Bravo on that account. Second, when Worf, in the prison, says that they must warn Sisko about the Bashir Changeling we instantly cut to the Changeling in the turbolift. Not only is that another excellent editing job but it also ramps up the tension without a single line of dialogue from the Changeling. Bravo again!

As for the writing, I'm thinking of the scene when Sisko lays out the plan to collapse the entrance to the Wormhole. Notice what he says when Kira laments that Bajor will be cut off from the Celestial Temple. At no point does he use the term "Wormhole Aliens". He consistently calls them "the Prophets". That's a very subtle, but crystal clear and wonderful, way to show that Sisko is already firmly on the path to becoming a full believer in the Bajoran religion. And they managed to pull that off with just two or three lines of dialogue from him. If you want to talk about how this episode showcases some absolutely stellar writing, you need go no further than that!

Finally, the way the episode closes is spectacular! I thought that the ending of "Homefront" was a perfect way to end a two-parter. The sight of Starfleet troops being deployed in the streets of Earth was a chilling sight. But it doesn't even compare to the butt-puckering sight of the Dominion fleet pouring out of the Wormhole. When I first saw "In Purgatory's Shadow", that sight left me stunned and it still manages to captivate me even after all these re-viewings. I would say it rates right up there with "Mr. Worf. Fire" as one of Trek's best cliffhangers.

Tue, Sep 6, 2016, 2:40pm (UTC -5)
Maybe Bashir used to old uniform as pajamas after the new uniform was introduced and Bashir was himself in Rapture. He did say he went to bed and woke up in prison.
Mon, Oct 24, 2016, 1:04pm (UTC -5)
One thing I love about this show is how many episodes start off as a big yawn and then build up to being superb. I just don't care that much about the relationship between Ducat and Ziyal, or Garak and Ziyal and I was expecting this episode to be dull. But as it went on it became increasingly gripping. The Bashir reveal was excellent.
Tue, Nov 8, 2016, 2:33am (UTC -5)
"You do have a lovely daughter, she must take after her mother." - Garak, to Gul Dukat

Best burn ever. Garak always gets the best lines.
David Pirtle
Fri, Nov 25, 2016, 12:36pm (UTC -5)
Before embarking on this current binge, I'd never seen the last four seasons of DS9, and this is the first episode that really hammered home why a vocal minority of the Trek fanbase consider this series to be the best the franchise has ever produced. I'm also starting to understand the Voyager hate a bit more - not because I hate Voyager, but because I can only imagine how difficult it was to flip back and forth between this terrific season and whatever was going on in the Delta Quadrant in 1997.
Mon, Jan 2, 2017, 11:49am (UTC -5)
One little comment......Exactly HOW did Tain get his rather AMPLE figure into that crawl space to send a message? LOL
Tue, Jan 10, 2017, 4:52am (UTC -5)
Why don't the Borg ever attack the Dominion?
Wed, Jan 11, 2017, 11:18am (UTC -5)
Maybe they just haven't gotten close to the Dominion yet? It's unclear how quickly they try to expand and assimilate new species. I always had the impression that they attacked the Federation sooner than they otherwise might have because Q threw the Enterprise into the Delta Quadrant and put the Federation on the Borg's radar. (Though I guess there was some implication that they were responsible for the attacks in "The Neutral Zone"?)
Latex Zebra
Thu, Jan 12, 2017, 9:58am (UTC -5)
Tanner: The Borg haven't even assimilated all of the Delta Quadrant yet and that is their "turf".
Always wondered why they're opening up fluidic space when are still three quarters of the galaxy to be assimilated.

This is thrown into further chaos by Voyager and it's Transwarp hubs which mean the Borg can technically launch a load of cubs at any planet and take it over.
Sun, Jan 15, 2017, 6:25pm (UTC -5)
Why don't the Borg ever attack the Dominion?

Because the writers knew this would be complicated to pull off, so deliberately ignored it.
Sun, Jan 15, 2017, 6:43pm (UTC -5)
There's no need to "deliberately ignore" anything if there's no canonical reason to suppose that the two powers are within immediate range of one another. I don't recall any such reason.
Jason R.
Mon, Jan 16, 2017, 8:42am (UTC -5)
"Always wondered why they're opening up fluidic space when are still three quarters of the galaxy to be assimilated."

Maybe the borg prefer quality over quantity. Remember Seven's comment about the Kazon being unworthy of assimilation.
Mon, Jan 16, 2017, 11:38pm (UTC -5)
There's no need to "deliberately ignore"

I gave you a need. It was hard for the writers to pull it off. It would have complicated the story they were telling, and they weren't prepared to invest time necessary to realize it. It's nothing to do with "canon". It's the realities of writing a fiction.
Tue, Jun 20, 2017, 3:26am (UTC -5)
The reason the Borg haven't tried to assimilate the Dominion is quite simple. The Borg are in the Delta quadrant, whereas the Dominion is in the Gamma quadrant. Both are the dominant power in their respective quadrants and since they are in different quadrants of the galaxy, it is likely they have never met or come across each other.
Fri, Aug 11, 2017, 3:27pm (UTC -5)
4 stars !

I'd argue this is a key episode in the series pulling multiple lingering threads(maquis, DMZ, Klingons etc)together in a unifying manner via the event of Cardassia joining the Dominion

Finally! Finally! Some MAJOR movement in the Dominion arc after several seasons of just light focus here and there. The Dominion actually make a major move on the Alpha Quadrant. This could have been their goal all along to take actions in Alpha Quadrant to soften up Cardassia to pace way for their request to become part of the Dominion so they could have a foothold and base of operations to carry out further action against the Alpha quadrant. Regardless I was thrilled finally that something significant and impacting was actually happening and how pieces just started clicking into place one thing after another sweeping through the hour

Cardassia via Dukat joining the Dominion made a great deal of sense and was an organic outgrowth of seeds planted in previous years. We had seen Dukat mention how diminished in stature not only he had become but Cardassia--with withdrawing from Bajor then signing a treaty with them , , ,with Maquis and then the Klingon invasion. So only way out of that was through the Dominion. Very nicely done Ira and Robert!!!

Liked the Klingons coming running to the station and the alliance fully restored

Liked seeing another Vorta rather than same ones over and over. It adds to the realism for me that you'd encounter different ones over time. Something despite having the reliable Weyoun DS9 wisely continued doing in the sixth season too

Liked the moment the Vorta announced the release of Cardassian prisoners except Garak which made perfect sense given the animosity between garak and Dukat

One thing DS9 did really well was take the well established Trek civilizations that TOS and TNG gave us and threw them into the mix with the Dominion which made for some intriguing dynamics. It wasn't just the Federation versus the Dominion but Klingins, Romulans, Cardassians, Bajorans which I loved to pieces. Made for a much more fully realized story. Add to that seeing former adversaries working together, in some instances like the internment camp escape, not only spoke to the Trek spirit of unity but made a great deal of sense

Few quibbles: I found it hard to believe Sominion would leave the runabout in orbit so easily allowing escape. I also found the weakest part of the episode to be the repetitive scenes of Worf vs the Jem'Hadar--every time that came on screen it halted the momentum of the episode and took me away from the more engrossing larger story

And if a major shakeup to the status quo, political intrigue, dominion machinations wasn't enough featured in this hour. We got a dose of appropriate action as ships converge at DS9 preparing for a battle with the Jem'Hadar. Then to add a twist the Dominion had no intention of firing a single weapon or losing a single soldier--they were going to wipe them out by destroying Bajor sun--now that is such a Founder thing to do and why they are such smart compelling villains. And to think I was underwhelmed This was what I meant when I said DS9 may not have handled the episodes or the elements in their debuts well but they would go on to use them well one day to where those initial disappointments faded once I saw what they ultimately did with them. And there would be more of that to come thankfully

But this is a classic Trek episode for me and was the first step in a march towards greatness for the series. And the episode makes it clear that Dukat still is obsessed with Bajor and the station and has his eyes set on retaking both which nicely sets up more to come as well as makes perfect sense for Dukat from everything we've see. Again demonstrating smart believable motives and behaviors from the characters--another strong thing DS9 writers must be applauded for
Tue, Aug 29, 2017, 4:06am (UTC -5)
This episode was really great. Garak has got to be my favorite character on the whole show, and his character development stuff, especially the reveal of Tain as his father, was really interesting and moving.

I loved how much character and interesting plot they managed to fit into this one episode.

I actually didn't notice Bashir was using the old uniform in the prison at first (didn't really think about it, at least), but you can put me down as one who believes A) This episode was initially meant to air earlier, or B) It was just somebody's last minute costuming mistake. It clearly makes no sense, and as far as I can see, it clearly WASN'T their intention to imply that he'd been there since the Ascent. Adding up all of the time that must have elapsed, across all those episodes, would definitely make Julian have been gone longer than just "more than a month". More like two, or so. Also, completely unbelievable that a changling could have handled all of those medical procedures, or would have allowed that changling baby to die.

I prefer my head canon, which says that is wasn't a changling who worked on Sisko during his visions, helped Odo with the changling baby, or delivered Kira/O'brien/Keiko's baby (Though those last two WOULD seem to have been the changling, according to dialogue in the episode stating the O'brien baby is still a bit under a month old).

One reason it's unbelievable is that they chose to have Alexander Siddig act a bit "off" throughout this entire episode (starting after the reveal) when we see him on DS9. It's clear to the viewer that he doesn't act the same as the real Bashir. I didn't like this acting/directing choice. They should have either had him acting COMPLETELY normal, so we would believe that he had managed to fool us all all this time, or they should have (probably would have been better) started having him act the slightest bit off for the past few episodes. Not enough to make us think he was a changling, but enough so when the reveal happened, we'd see that it was actually planned in advance, instead of shoehorned in this episode (which is how it looks). I also thought this episode would have been made more interesting if they'd maybe continued having him act completely normal, so we could have briefly wondered if maybe prison camp Bashir was the imposter. But no, it was obvious from the reveal that DS9 Julian was a bit odd.

Let's just say this. The writer of THIS episode may have intended to imply that Bashir has been gone since The Ascent, but the writers of the previous episodes, as well as Alexander Siddig, were clearly not in on the plan.

And now, some comments that are a little more over-arcing, not so much about just this episode.

This is my first time re-watching DS9 (didn't remember it that well), after having finally seen Babylon 5 for the first time recently, and I do have to say it's weird watching it now. It's clear (as the creator of Babylon 5 claimed), that they truly did take some stuff directly from his ideas. When I first saw that claim online (before this re-watch) I assumed that it must just be coincidence that there are some similarities. I love Star Trek and don't want to think anything bad about it! But there's just *almost* no other way to explain it. The Cardassians are clearly the Centauri, the Narn are the Bajorans, Gul Dukat is Londo (who invites the enemy in to return his people to their past level of glory and power but will live to regret it), the Dominion is the Shadows, Sisko has visions of a shadow falling over Cardassia, as Londo has visions of the Shadows over Centauri Prime, etc. etc. I don't know, the whole thing is kind of strange. They're both good shows, and I enjoy both, but it's making it a bit uncomfortable to watch DS9 now. Can't help feeling like the parts of the show that people love to praise (the shades of grey and long arcs) were kind of stolen. The show has lots of interesting characters and fun stories that have no similarities to Babylon 5, so it definitely has other stuff going for it. . . but I just felt I had to say, especially after this episode, that I DO believe something fishy went on with some stolen ideas.
Thu, Sep 14, 2017, 7:55pm (UTC -5)
Terrific episode -- so much going on here with mostly of it fitting in nicely, not to mention the 2 big revelations near the end and the prelude to the Dominion war.

It didn't feel like there was anything particularly special from the start about this episode but how it ties in some of the previous episodes ("Apocalypse Rising," "Improbable Cause"/"The Die Is Cast" etc.) and sets the stage for the main arc going forward was very well done.

The only thing I can't get my head around is that Bashir has been replace by a Changeling -- when and how is not clear. Also I think the writers are taking a fair bit of freedom here and maybe not having all the answers logically in place for the prior 2-3 shows.

The Worf/Dax romance is downright bizarre. Anyhow, that scene with Dax and the Klingon operas prior to Worf leaving could have been omitted for me.

What I found odd is that the all these people are being held on a base but it didn't seem to be an overly strict prison -- Martok/Bashir/Worf/Garak/Tain seem to be fairly free to do whatever. But may be that changes in Part II. It just didn't seem that harsh an existence to be in a Jem'Hadar prison -- so I think that part could have been done differently.

As for Garak/Tain at the end, it was quite the revelation, but it didn't have too much effect on me as Tain was a character we barely knew. Yes he exiled Garak to protect himself and Garak always looked up to him as a father figure. So I guess it makes sense in the end. It gives support to Garak and his single-minded purpose to follow the message in to the Gamma Quadrant. Being caught by the (Changeling) Bashir on the runabout may have been what urged the Jem'Hadar ships to set up in the nebula so close to the Wormhole (just a theory).

I liked the Dukat/Garak/Ziyal/Kira subplot -- well written all around, well acted. This was quite an episode for Garak's character -- so much development on so many fronts -- and all good. The guy is a scoundrel but you can't not have a soft spot for him.

3.5 stars for "In Purgatory's Shadow" -- an excellent 1st part and great suspense created for Part II with the Jem'Hadar ships coming through the Wormhole. Excellent how this episode tied up so many loose ends and kickstarted the Dominion war arc again.
Samuel Lawrence
Thu, Feb 1, 2018, 8:45am (UTC -5)
Why does everyone assume that Changeling Bashir didn't attempt to save the baby Changeling in 'Begotten'? It could perfectly well be that he did all he could to save it, but was unable to. This is something that happens to real doctors all the time. People often point out that he didn't link with it, but maybe he simply knew that this disease was something linking wouldn't help with, in the same way that it wouldn't help a patient suffering from TB to give them a bone marrow transplant. Or maybe he found a way to link with it without the other characters noticing, but that couldn't save it.
Wed, Feb 28, 2018, 3:26pm (UTC -5)
Every time DS9 is in trouble it takes about two or three days for any fleet to arrive. Such a crucial station with such a imminent threat. And some fighting Klingons and Cardassians. But yeah, one ship and some runabouts will do. You would expect Starfleet to keep a few ships nearby. Maybe even build a spacedock in the neighborhood? And don't the Bajoran have a space fleet? Now you have to rely on Klingons and Romulans. Bad strategy if you ask me.
Jason R.
Wed, Feb 28, 2018, 5:37pm (UTC -5)
Jasper if DS9 was close to any Federation worlds or even in Federation space it wouldn't be "deep space" would it? Remember up to recently it was Cardassian territory.

As for the Bajoran fleet, they are clearly not a serious force. This makes sense - up until a couple years ago, the Bajorans were a subject species under occupation. They have nothing that can challenge a capital ship from a major power.
Sat, May 26, 2018, 4:52pm (UTC -5)
Flawless episode with some sublime performances. I'd probably grant four stars to part two as well. I'm trying to think if there are any bad Garak episodes...
Thu, Aug 23, 2018, 4:50pm (UTC -5)
It's ironic that so many of DS9's most iconic episodes were created out of sheer happenstance. "In Purgatory's Shadow" was envisioned as a Michael Eddington jailbreak story. Instead, it became the first part of a two-parter that rips the status quo to shreds and enables every major story twist until the end of the series. Though perhaps the two-parter as a whole would have worked better if it had been carefully planned, "In Purgatory's Shadow" works brilliantly, nimbly melding character beats to huge, galaxy-spanning events. It results in a truly gripping episode.

4 stars.
Wed, Aug 29, 2018, 5:44pm (UTC -5)
@Jason We are well in the 5th episode now. They've been back and forth to Earth in the meantime. It's deep space but they have spaceships for that, right? For such an essential outpost it would have made sense to build up some kind of fleet in those 5 years to protect it and keep it closeby.
Wed, Aug 29, 2018, 5:44pm (UTC -5)
Season...not episode.
Tue, Dec 11, 2018, 7:35pm (UTC -5)

You already finished the series, but I think I can fill this plot hole, at least a little. DS9 is located deep in Bajoran space. Bajor isn't part of the Federation yet, so I don't think they can just build a space dock deep in another power's territory. That being said, it is a somewhat big plot hole. DS9 is essential to the war effort. It should be more well-protected.
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 7:31am (UTC -5)
Very little time to comment. Snow-bound with a bored 4 yr old.

Purgatory, indeed! :)

Good ep. Loved the reveals, well done. Seems to be a lot about . . . things not being what they seem. It wasn't a smile, it was gas. Etc.

I watched 3 eps last night when I couldn't sleep, during the snow storm. Will try to say a few words on the next two, today. If I get too far behind, it's a struggle remembering the details.

But it's a day of coloring books and Candyland. Level 3 snow emergency with no option to beam out. My captor is cuter and sweeter than the Jem Hadar, but just as single-minded. Pray for me. :)
Thu, Jan 31, 2019, 11:08am (UTC -5)
3 stars

The episode was a mixed bag

I could care less about the family dynamics of Dukat and Ziyal-who is a useless character. Or Dukat’s pissiness towards Kira. Dax is as annoying as ever and I had to fast forward through the Worf Dax goodbye scene. I never cared for Tain as a character. I was totally indifferent to him in all his appearances. And I can’t say the fact he turns out to be Garak’s father did much for me. Very neutral

The garak worf stuff on the runabout was pretty decent. Things finally perked me up and drew me on once the dominion fleet was revealed and garak and worf were captured. Although I’m not sure I entirely could buy the idea of the dominion keeping prisoners as opposed to killing them

I was floored by the Bashir twist and Martok. Great deal of suspense with what the changeling was up to
Loved the Borg mention and bringing in Lenara as a nice bit of continuity
Wed, Jun 19, 2019, 5:33am (UTC -5)
This is indeed a formidable hour of Trek. I haven't been super impressed by DS9 on this rewatch, miles too many repetitive and boring episodes covering the same ground (Quark's bar and Dax's past lives being two of my main annoyances). I have mentioned in other comments that my best friend has been watching all the Treks through as they are being broadcast on Sky. He liked Voyager (for the most part) and TNG, found Enterprise boring and pointless, and he similarly found DS9 very slow and boring, only picking up the pace in its fifth season, while the first four seasons were littered with wretched, inconsequential episodes.

However, whenever the show heavily features any combination of Carsassians, Klingons, Romulans or the Dominion, then virtually every time it makes me and him sit up and take notice. (Repetitive Dax/Klingon death quests aside.) DS9 has a grandeur of scale and importance that none of the other Trek shows could match. Its character work is second to none. Ironic that this show, hated by some for being opposed to Roddenberry's ideals, produces by far the best episodes once it finally creaks into the fifth season.

In Purgatory's Shadow is DS9 completely in its stride. I feel that it succeeds on every level. Even the title is awesome, beaten only by "By Inferno's Light", surely the greatest episode title ever. This two parter is an event episode, representing something hugely important in the Trek universe, and I still remember how I felt when watching them for the first time because it's how I still feel watching it now. Excited, thrilled, amazed that a Trek show can have characters this well acted and well written, that can finally hold a candle to Stargate SG1 and Atlantis.
Bobbington Mc Bob
Mon, Jul 22, 2019, 3:50pm (UTC -5)
Brilliant! Obviously the 'A' Crew working this week!
Thu, Jan 16, 2020, 4:55pm (UTC -5)
What an episode! I usually only comment on the second half of two-parters, but this one *definitely* merits a comment on its own.

I knew basically every spoiler there is to know here -- and yet all of it rang as true as if I never knew a thing. I shouldn't have been surprised by Bashir stumbling out of Dominion solitary confinement -- I knew damn well that he got changelingified around this point -- and yet something in the execution of it still preserved that for me. That's the mark of a good story: plot twists are one thing, but to have plot twists that still retain their gamechanging feel even when you know the spoilers? That's a step above. This doesn't rely on shock value -- it's good beyond just simple surprise.

(Speaking of things I've had spoiled ahead of time, though: I think I've actually run out of spoilers, for here at least. I really have no clue how the next episode might play out. And you better believe I'm excited!)

I don't really care about the uniform discrepancy. I will happily take Niall's explanation of "he was wearing it as pyjamas" as canon. It *is* a comfy-looking uniform -- though not quite so comfy to have been wearing for a month.

The truth and lies on Tain's deathbed... I can hardly describe it. Damn powerful. I've got into the habit of looking at the scripts of episodes, I like having that level of insight. It turns up some gems. While I didn't get to the point of tears while watching the episode, this phrasing in the script was what got me:


I was very proud of you, that day.

And with that, Tain gives himself a private smile, and dies.


There're no tears, but for a moment Garak wears the face of that little boy.


I was also touched by the fact that Garak allows Bashir, and Bashir alone, into his last moments with his father. It's a way of confiding in him, opening up about something *very* personal, without having to tell his secrets directly. He's silently sharing the pain, as well -- ensuring he is understood without a word exchanged between the two of them. I wouldn't be surprised if this remained between the two of them for the rest of the series -- that Garak never tells another soul.

Speaking of Garak's relationships, whatever's going on between him and Ziyal gets a far clearer showing here. It's clearly lopsided, but with a genuine affection between kindred spirits. There's definitely an unfortunate feeling of "silly young girl with a crush" to Ziyal, which feels like some fairly shallow writing -- the obvious generational gap between them is awkward, but at least Garak seems to *know* it's awkward (as the better-written of them). Regardless, the foundation for their connection feels true. Their friendship doesn't feel as bad as it could be, nor is it as bad as I feared it *might* be.

I'm not about to post a whole second chunk of script, but there's a stage direction that really sums it up: "Garak sighs. He's not used to talking about his real feelings about anything, but he really doesn't have the heart to lie to this girl."

On the opposite extreme, there's Dukat. Thoughts on him as a character are one thing, but I see zero redeeming qualities for him as a person. He's someone who does awful things; occasionally, on his *very* best days, he decides to not do awful things and instead soars to such dizzying heights of... a very minimal level of basic decency. (Pertinent example: "congratulations, you decided not to murder your daughter after all -- what, d'you want a medal or something".) His actions are very often self-centred, too. Even his new lone wolf Klingonslayer persona is so transparently a way to big up his wounded ego.

A season ago, he was fine dragging her along on his self-aggrandising hero shenanigans, having her *directly* in the line of fire in the process. So him trying to get her off DS9 -- does he really care that much about her safety? I suspect he cares more about the fact that Kira isn't "protecting" (controlling) Ziyal in the way he wants her to -- that, god forbid, she's letting her do things Dukat wouldn't want her to do!

(Dukat and Kira really feel like a divorced couple arguing over who gets the kid. I say "divorced", but I don't want to even metaphorically imagine those two ever having been married in the first place. I'd like to imagine Kira just divorced Dukat pre-emptively, with no marriage involved. She anti-married him.)

Final notes:

- I appreciate DS9's "little" scenes, carrying on the life of the station and its crew outside the main plot. In particular, the chat about baby Kirayoshi (and what a name!) is a sweet one. I'd be interested to see if Kira keeps on being around the O'Briens -- let's see if "Aunt Nerys" continues beyond her pregnancy.
- It feels nice to have mention of Dax's ex-wife again, playing her part in this off-screen. That was a nice little mention.
- Julian bringing sandwiches would be lovely in any context other than "changeling infiltrator".
Thu, Jan 16, 2020, 6:18pm (UTC -5)
I looked at Memory Alpha's background info for this episode, and I was not disappointed.

" Since Bashir said he went to bed one night and woke up in prison, Ronald D. Moore commented "He musta been verrrrrry tired and fallen asleep in his uniform." (AOL chat, 1997) "
Jamie Mann
Fri, Jan 31, 2020, 2:14pm (UTC -5)
At last! An episode worth watching.

One of DS9's greatest weaknesses was the way it was generally forced to do self contained episodes which generally did little or nothing to change the status quo. I'd guess this was a requirement from the money people, as it's a lot easier to syndicate and/or repeat episodes when you don't have to worry about continuity.

But somehow, the DS9 writers did occasionally get permission to move the story on, and this is one of those times. And this episode has a lot of momentous events crammed into it.

We finally get a bit more truth (or an approximation thereof) about Garek's past. The Dominion finally makes a significant move. And we discover the disturbing truth about just who the Founders have been impersonating in the Alpha quadrant. Even if there's some well deserved criticisms of the timelines for some of these impersonations ;)

Admittedly, it's not perfect. The distress signal set up by Taim is overly contrived - would anyone really send out a cry for help which only one person in the entire universe could decipher? And the less said the better, about the ongoing efforts to make the relationship between Worf and Dax even vaguely plausible. Then there's Ziyal, who really doesn't have enough of a personality to be as prominent in the storyline as she is.

But still. This is one of the times when DS9 manages to deliver on it's promise. And that's well worth celebrating!
William B
Fri, Jan 31, 2020, 5:41pm (UTC -5)
"The distress signal set up by Taim is overly contrived - would anyone really send out a cry for help which only one person in the entire universe could decipher?"

Normally I'd agree, but I think a lot of effort was made in The Die is Cast to suggest reasons why Garak would plausibly be the only living person in the universe Tain could trust: he killed most of his past associates, was fooled by his allies, and Cardassia does not look favourably on failure on his scale. Only Garak is loyal/sentimental enough to be trusted to put Tain's interests first, and hardy enough to hold onto secrets enough to be reachable by an otherwise untraceable code. Of course even then Garak's weak spot for Bashir is exploited by the Bashir changeling.

The case could be made that Martok or whoever should have tried harder to convince him to widen the audience, though.
Jamie Mann
Sun, Feb 2, 2020, 7:59am (UTC -5)
@William: that's a fair point; it makes sense to send a transmission scrambled in a way that the Dominion wouldn't have any way to crack, given it was invented decades before the wormhole opened.

But still. It's a pretty contrived message-in-a-bottle scenario!

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