Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

“Strange Bedfellows”

3 stars.

Air date: 4/19/1999
Written by Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Rene Auberjonois

"Overconfidence. The hallmark of the Weyouns." — Damar, kneeling over Weyoun's dead body

Review Text

Nutshell: It pushes too hard at the end, but it's a compelling chapter of pivotal character moments.

"Strange Bedfellows" is about a myriad of characters agonizing over difficult situations, showing how they ultimately come to make certain realizations.

Damar, realizing that Cardassia's role in the Dominion is becoming more and more like arranged slavery, must decide if the alliance is worth anything anymore.

Worf and Ezri, realizing they made a mistake by sleeping together in "Penumbra," must face each other and perhaps admit that it was in fact a mistake.

And Winn, who realizes the Prophets have abandoned her, must make a choice that ventures into the deepest truths of her own perceptions of spiritual existence.

What we have, then, particularly with the Damar and Winn storylines, is some interesting commitment for characters' change in the DS9 universe—change that makes sense because the writing has long been on the wall.

Like the first two installments of the "Final Chapter," much of "Strange Bedfellows" is dependent upon what came before. DS9 as a whole benefits from having this ultra-large canvas of events and history leading up to the latest events. You could see last week that the events in "Strange Bedfellows" were on the horizon. The fact that characters have come to the choices they make here isn't terribly surprising. That's not a criticism, because seeing how these characters come to finally make these realizations is where the gold lies. It makes for good viewing because of the series' pre-planned story arc mentality; we can watch the characters' paths being charted and can therefore understand the reasons behind the decisions they make.

In many ways, "Strange Bedfellows" is more setup, and in some ways it's another mini-payoff. Sisko's storyline is shelved for the week (aside from a few amusing Martok lines about Sisko's new marriage being the beginning of a whole new "war front"), while the Dominion/Breen and Winn/Dukat stories take center stage and go in new (well, not really) directions.

As I had hoped and expected, the Dominion's new alliance with the Breen is not something Damar is happy with, especially considering the Cardassians are the ones currently taking the largest losses. The Female Shapeshifter has arranged a treaty that brings the Breen into the alliance in a way that basically replaces the Cardassians' usefulness. The Breen have full reign over the military operations, and now Damar suddenly finds himself answering to Thot Gor, a Breen officer who now outranks him. When Damar objects, Weyoun tells him in no uncertain terms that he's a servant of the Dominion, period. When Damar demands to know how many sacrifices "his people" will have to make, Weyoun reminds him that the Cardassians ultimately aren't important; it's the Dominion and the Founders that matter. That Damar and Weyoun are headed for a major collision is nothing short of obvious.

And speaking of Weyoun, I just have to reiterate how much I love this guy. Jeffrey Combs can turn on a dime from funny to fearfully menacing. And Weyoun's posturing and overconfidence can be so entertaining. In one scene, Weyoun brings an offer to the imprisoned Worf and Ezri, and his unctuous overconfidence gets him killed in a scene of enormous amusement. I loved the unexpected swiftness with which Worf snapped Weyoun's neck, and even more the fact that Damar couldn't help but laugh with satisfaction while kneeling over Weyoun's body. ("Overconfidence. The hallmark of the Weyouns," he notes, knowingly.) Oh well; say goodbye to Weyoun-7, and hello to Weyoun-8.

What this is all really about, however, is Damar's choice. He's sick of the Dominion, he's sick of Weyoun, and he's no longer going to stand by idly while millions of Cardassians are killed for the "greater good" of an ally that gives nothing in return. Ultimately, he helps Worf and Ezri escape Cardassia with a message: The Federation has an ally on Cardassia. To Weyoun, Damar is able to blame the escape on Jem'Hadar incompetence (though I wonder if Weyoun wouldn't be more suspicious). So how and when the Cardassians will turn on the Dominion is still uncertain, but it certainly will be soon. It's satisfying to see Damar finally getting fed up with Weyoun—as well as fed up with himself and his own inaction. Damar has finally realized that it's time to put away the liquor and stop wallowing in his helplessness and self-pity.

Back aboard the station, Dukat continues to manipulate Winn, but there are some key decisions that Winn makes knowing what she's likely getting into. Near the beginning, she has another vision, but this time the Paghwraiths come out and reveal to her their true identity; there's no more pretense used to get her attention. I'm guessing this is because the Master Plan has already been set in motion; Dukat has already come to Winn with his "Anjohl" cover story (which was likely planned out in advance by the Paghwraiths and conveyed to Dukat to play out), and Winn has already accepted him as her guide. By the time she learns the Paghwraiths are part of the game, she has already ventured too far to simply turn back. She's caught in a moment of weakness that Dukat fully intends to exploit.

What's most interesting about this aspect of the story is the way it puts Winn through a wringer in a way that makes us sympathetic for her situation, even if we disapprove of the self-serving blinders she continuously wears. Once the Paghwraiths have contacted her, she's thrown into a hysteria of distress, and understandably so. Winn's portrayal here is one of someone who sincerely wants to know the love of her gods and steer clear of evil. There's a powerfully empathetic scene where the Prophets refuse to talk to her through the orb because she has been in contact with the Paghwraiths. The camera tracks back from an anguished Winn pleading futilely with an orb box that's not going to return an answer.

Far and away, the highlight of the episode is the scene where Winn calls upon Kira for guidance. Winn is desperate to understand why the Paghwraiths have come to her, and why the Prophets have abandoned her. The irony of the situation speaks volumes; here we have Bajor's spiritual leader so confused about her own soul that she's asking for help on matters of spirituality from someone who has for years disagreed and even despised her high-handed political tactics. It's one of the most quietly powerful scenes I've seen on this series in quite some time.

What's particularly amazing about the situation is how telling it is. It makes absolutely perfect sense. Winn has always been convinced she is doing what's best for Bajor. She is convinced that Bajor needs her. She is convinced that her political power is a necessary thing. But it's because she simply cannot overcome her own nature of Looking Out for Number One that she is consistently traveling the wrong road. When Kira tells her that redemption lies in relinquishing the power that has led her astray, Winn's reaction is completely, 100 percent "Winn": How can giving up power be the answer? Bajor needs me! Surely that's not what the Prophets meant!

In essence, this highlights a fundamental similarity between Winn and Dukat, which I'm sure Winn isn't even aware of: Both are people who have long been vying for the acceptance and love of the Bajoran people, and both have failed. And now both are going to turn to the Paghwraiths as a new avenue to find what they're looking for. Each may very well be exactly what the other deserves. Or they may end up destroying each other. (Perhaps those two statements are equivalent.)

This episode, while containing some excellent material, has some evident weaknesses. One of those weaknesses is the Breen. I just can't take the Breen "characters" seriously the way they stand around on the set under those silly helmets, occasionally expelling an unintelligible, electronic utterance. (The other characters can understand the Breen, sort of like the way Han Solo can understand Chewbacca.) I couldn't help but chuckle as it occurred to me that the Breen might best be utilized in a comedy routine as the galaxy's ultimate straightmen. (After all, one can't see a trace of your expression when you're under a helmet like that.) As characters, it's very hard to get any valuable feedback from the Breen, because they're by definition wooden.

And, unfortunately, the Evil Dialog at the end of the episode managed to detract from the Winn/Dukat storyline. As much as Jay Chattaway's score heightened the Mood of Evil, this dialog was too theatrical, too scheming, too glib and overblown, and it simply came off as Bad-Movie Writing. Strangely, it's the same problem that the end of last season's otherwise sensational "Waltz," also written by Ron Moore and directed by Rene Auberjonois, suffered from.

Also, while I can certainly see Winn doing whatever it takes to see her own needs fulfilled, I wonder somewhat about her sudden conversion to walking the path of the Paghwraiths. Sure, maybe her religious beliefs have been empty worship and a means to an end for years, or even a lifetime (which is quite a revelation), but I wonder how exactly she arrives at the conclusion of the Paghwraiths as the answer to everything, especially considering how much struggling she does through most of the hour.

There's of course one other subplot in "Strange Bedfellows," and that's the continuing Worf/Ezri soap opera. Again, it's the most trite of the three storylines, but it finally finds its way to getting somewhere this time around. Again, there's probably too much of the annoyed bantering and snide humor. (And, boy, Ezri can be humorously juvenile in her barbs, taking absurdity to the extreme level, particularly her jab on Jadzia's pre-Worf sex life: "You're right; it was more than a few. It was dozens. Hundreds. In fact, I don't think there was anyone aboard DS9 who wasn't her lover!" My, how surly.)

But at last, these two start talking on civil terms (a looming death sentence has a way of doing that), and we finally, finally get to the heart of the matter. Here are two people who were drawn together by this awkward situation of a past life's love, and here they both realize that love remained in the past. The struggle to realize this truth has been a difficult climb during the past three episodes, but now that the struggle is over, it seems Worf and Ezri have escaped this mess as good-intentioned people who perhaps can be friends after all. I think I rather like that resolution.

So, then, what's the bottom line on "Strange Bedfellows"? Oh, I don't know. It's certainly another compelling outing with plenty more setup. But it lacks a little of something—perhaps the emotional cohesion of a truly confident story—to arrive at greatness. Here exists an hour that moves like a blur. An entertaining blur.

Next week: Chapter four. The Federation's survival depends on ... Damar?

Previous episode: 'Til Death Do Us Part
Next episode: The Changing Face of Evil

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Comment Section

69 comments on this post

    Jammer, to answer your question about Winn's sudden conversion to the Paghwraiths, I think it can be explained by the fact that the Paghwraiths appeared to her, something the Prophets never did.

    Kai Winn has been an utterly fascinating character to watch throughout the entire series. I don't think there's another Star Trek character that I've spent more time hating, then sympathizing with, then being angry at, then hating again, then being sympathetic AGAIN....

    She's led me on quite a roller coaster ride and the way she ended is so tragically sad. I also agree with Anthony's post... she turned to the Paghwraiths because at the end of the day her faith was far, far weaker than she let on. She needed her 'Gods' to acknowledge her, rather than simply doing their works for their own sake (a la Kai Opaka).

    I love the Damar that drinks canar at 9 in the morning, and laughs when the newly-cloned Weyoun comes to greet him. Much more interesting than Dukat's creepy Bajoran masquerade.

    Funniest moment in DS9 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kJAIKLbhdk

    I laugh out lout every time

    I have to say, for me one of the funniest moment ever in DS9 was when Worf broke Weyoun's neck and Damar starts laughing. Totally classic. And funny all over again when Damar says: "Why don't you go talk to Worf again?"

    Brilliant.

    I thought it was very pretentious of O'Brien to lecture Bashir. Seriously, WHAT THE HELL?? This was completely random. And what, does he honestly think Bashir will do ANYTHING, unintentional or not, to hurt Ezri? Good Jesus. I would have told him to go fuck yourself. Too bad too, cuz O'Brien was one of my favorite characters. Emphasis on "was."

    The idea of Gul Dukat offering up his body to Kai Wynn as part of the 'Guide' package sent a shiver up my spine that lasted for twenty minutes.

    And when she said 'the man who shares my bed', I almost threw up. I'll say one thing for Dukat; he's got a strong stomach.

    He's also back to his full operatic bombastic self by the end of the episode - how Kai Winn hasn't yet realised who he is, is extremely difficult to believe.

    Unfortunately for the Breen, their masks make them look exactly like the K9 robot dog from the Tom Baker era of Doctor Who, and now of the Sarah Adventures on the BBC. And I mean *exactly* like the dog's head.

    So they just look like walking canines to me. Not very threatening.

    Casey Biggs' delivery of the line "Why don't you talk to Worf again" was possibly the most perfectly-pitched, clever, spot-on delivery of a line of dialogue in the series entire run...

    Watching these episode a second time, I find it doubly sad that the Pah-wraith arc had such a weak ending. Because a lot of the set up in this episode and the preceding one was actually very good.

    Though I agree that Winn sleeping with Dukat was a little over the top. It wasn't really necessary for the story. And besides, wouldn't Cardassians and Bajorans have different sexual organs? Or was Dukat's surgery performed on his ENTIRE body, including Bajoran sexual organs? I guess it's best not to think about it...

    Oh, and if the Prophets had been smart, they could have spoken to Winn and convinced her not to follow the path of the Pah-wraiths. Then they wouldn't have needed "the Sisko" at all.

    @Nic : The only logical assumption one can make about the nature of the Prophets is that they are dramatic for its own sake--when the means to prevent their destruction is at hand in multifarious ways all the time, and they choose the one method which requires convoluted and needless sacrifice, I cannot tender any feeling but resentment towards these meddling, self-centred wormhole aliens. I think they could use a Prime Directive.

    This episode was overall, a step down from the last one, the Damar storyline is the best, still; Worf/Ezri is a little better; Winn/Dukat is seriously worse; and the rest is noise, as they say.

    1.5 stars

    Someboby please throw ezri out of an airlock. She's the most annoying character in the series. She insults Jadzia's memory.

    Bring Ezri to the show was a mistake, she add nothing plus the writers undid every Trill rule they wrote before.

    Creepy. My last name's Fletcher, the actress for Kai Winn is Louise Fletcher, and she looks like my aunt with braces.

    And watching her in this episode is like watching what I worry my Mom would do if something *actually* came to her in her weird prayer stuff she does in real life.

    Yeek.

    @Nic...

    Dukat's genitalia must be compatible with Bajorans...he'd produced half-Bajoran spawn on at least two occasions - there was Ziyal, and then the child he spawned earlier this season in "Covenant" that as presented seemed to essentially be not much short of a rape.

    At the end of season 6 and the start of season 7 I was tragically losing interest in DS9, but this episode rekindled some of my interest.

    Worf snapping Weyoun X's neck was a high point for me and I hope it heralds a nice and gritty end to the series. Has to be one of Star Trek's most cold-blooded killings. Suddenly I understood why the Klingon temper is so infamous, something which earlier growling and brawling didn't manage to convey.

    Kai Winn's soul-searching and turning away from her gods hit home as I'm an ex-believer who felt a bit let down by religion/God as well. To me her story shows that any worldview or faith should be complemented by strong, independent moral convictions. Faith without morality is limp, or even evil.

    Was anybody else waiting for a Breen to remove that helmet and reveal Princess Leia? ;-)

    It's interesting how DS9's medium episodes still trounce everything that TNG and VOY ever put out.

    This episode was a bit better than the last two mainly because Damar and the Dominion story. He had some pretty hilarious lines. I'm also glad the whole Dax/Worf awkwardness seems resolved and that Winn has finally accepted she's evil.

    6/10

    In light of what we now know of the Pagh-wraiths, could the visions that Dukat had in 'Waltz' have been them?

    An entertaining and developing story, really carried by Jeffery Coombes and the Dominion subplots. The temptation of Kai Winn was overlong, badly written and pretty uninteresting but it has potential to become interesting again.

    This episode had a few good moments.

    whe Worf snaps Weyoun’s neck and Damar cracks up laughing I about fell out of my chair. Also loved Damar's snide remark to Weyoun-8. "No. Maybe you should talk to Worf again." ... lol

    "Kiss me. Kiss me, Julian" - Thank God, now we can put this stupid Ezri/Worf" debacle behind us. God what a bore.

    "WINN: The true gods?
    DUKAT: The Pah wraiths. They led me to you."

    Yup, saw that coming a mile away...

    Again, 2.5 stars.

    And don't forget:
    "I'm sure the Founder will understand. If not, I look forward to meeting Weyoun-9."
    Realistically, when did Damar get so witty? but I'm loving it.

    Another strong hour. Jammer covers it pretty well, I think.

    Though I completely agree on the final line by Winn about "dead leaves being swept away" (or some such). Corny as hell, and a little bit out of character. I know Winn is as much of a snake as Dukat, but that line might as well have been written "muahahahaha". It felt completely incongruous to the rest of the episode.

    Memory Alpha says this, which may explain it:

    "During the composition of this episode, Ron Moore's wife went into labor a month earlier than expected, and Moore had to take a week off. This threw the writing schedule into chaos, and forced Ira Behr and Hans Beimler (who were working on "The Changing Face of Evil") and René Echevarria (who was working on "Penumbra") to abandon their own episodes and complete the writing of this one. As Behr says, 'It got very hectic.'"

    One of my favourite moments from this one is the introduction of "Septimus III". It starts off with Damar talking to Weyoun about getting reinforcements there to fend off the Klingons. Damar - the villain - murderer on-screen of an innocent girl - is now sympathetic to the audience in his concern for the lives of his countrymen (who, by the way, have been more or less villains from the beginning). The scene transitions and Martok - a good guy - is proclaiming success on the Septimus III maneuvers, a victory for our heroes. Yet, somehow, I just felt bitter towards it all. Brilliant writing. One of the best sequences in the whole series, encapsulating the cliched 'shades of grey' compliment everyone throws at the show. Completely earned and beautifully done.

    What else to say? The tension in this one remains at a nice simmer the whole time. High end of 3 stars. A quality hour.

    I fully concur with the reviewer above. The Septimus III scenes were some of the most poignant ones, and the anguished way Damar demanded for reinforcements (although the viewer could see that he himself was probably aware of the outcome) and Weyoun's callous disinterest was amazing to watch, conveyed perfectly by the brilliance and chemistry of Casey Biggs and Jeffrey Combs.

    Also, is it just me, or was Worf a bit of a cunt in this episode? Some of the things he said to Ezri were pretty horrible, and actually the way he treated her ever since she stepped onto the station as well. His assertion that she seduced him and that her risking her life to save him was merely because she wanted to shag him. You'd think that he'd be more grateful and appreciative to someone who risked her life (and presumably a Starfleet court martial) for him. I suppose one might chalk it down to Klingon 'swag' and hotheadedness, but still.

    The Damar and Dominion plots were definitely the high point of the episode. I really wish they hadn't mauled Dukat's character arc, he and the Pahwraiths just seem so irrelevant to the 'big picture' now.

    "Casey Biggs' delivery of the line "Why don't you talk to Worf again" was possibly the most perfectly-pitched, clever, spot-on delivery of a line of dialogue in the series entire run... "

    Agreed. This show delivers on the secondary cast like none other.

    Kassidy says she isn't going to act like she "has started believing in the prophets".

    Again with this? After the events of Sacrifice of Angels, The Reckoning, and Rapture (the latter of which she was smack in the middle of), we're still having belief issues?

    Momentum definitely building now. It's good that we're getting some mini-resolution. Strongest story - definitely Damar finally growing a pair and deciding not to take it anymore. His reaction to Worf killing Weyoun is indeed a classic.

    Winn's story is also strong - despite her also seemingly having a moment of clarity she proves to be too power-hungry to accept it. Her turning to the pah-wraiths actually has a fairly organic feel in a "what have the Prophets ever done for me" kind of way. The final scene gets a little melodramatic, mind you.

    And it might have taken it's own sweet time but we finally got a good tie up to the Ezri-Worf story too. 3 stars.

    The manipulation of Winn and having her turn to the dark side is the first stroke of brilliance I've seen on DS9, and it only took 7 seasons for them to do it.

    I have faith that the writers will develop this to its full potential, and follow through on the Bajoran themes that serve as the premise for the entire series. I hope they won't reduce the entire thing to a rushed, awkward 15 minutes followed by a flashback montage crammed into the final episode of the series.

    Oh. Wait.

    Worf/Ezri: I think that Moore is the writer who wrote the best Worf/Dax material -- while I don't love any of them, I think that the portrayal of Worf/Dax in "Looking for par'mach...," "You Are Cordially Invited" and especially "Change of Heart" got to what made those personalities work well together. So it makes sense that his handling of the Worf/Ezri Dax material here is an improvement on the last two episodes. I am on board with the general ideas presented here, which of course are the general point of this set of three episodes. It must be very difficult to deal with one's spouse reincarnated as a new person, or to see one's husband from a past life, and as well as having to do with the specific material in-universe it also matches up, in general, with how hard it is for exes to get along with each other knowing that their past relationship is dead but with those feelings still hanging around. The maturity that they show late in the episode is a relief, and the snark back and forth earlier in the episode is much wittier than the material in "Penumbra" or "Til Death Do Us Part." It still seems to me that Worf and Ezri are written as being a bit *too* obtuse, jumping around in their feelings a bit too readily, at the beginning of the episode (as they were in the previous two episodes, IMO), with Worf largely having to hold the jerk/idiot ball at the beginning of this one. But Ezri's taking Worf to task for his Klingon aphorisms and Worf's admitting that he overuses dishonour help a lot to suggest that these two have retreated into bad habits as a way of avoiding the depths of feeling that they don't know what to do with. It helps to have Ezri and Worf working to try to survive rather than purely sitting around having thoughts or having memories/dreams aloud.

    I like, too, that Worf does feel very genuinely guilty about sleeping with Ezri, and that that is the real source of his anger at her. After his angry accusation that he was seduced, followed by his insistence that Jadzia had more than "a few" lovers before him, he acknowledges that really, making love could mean many different things to Jadzia, but for him it meant something very specific and spiritual. There is, in that moment, no judgment implied on Jadzia for having casual sex before she and Worf got together, but an acknowledgment that it means something to him, so that he more or less acknowledges that he was displacing his frustration with himself onto Ezri and Jadzia. It is not that often that Worf admits he was wrong, and that plays well here both as a contrast to Winn's reaction in her conversation with Kira, and sets up Ezri's role in helping Worf change in "Tacking Into the Wind."

    So I'm happy with the overall impact of this story, even though I think it could have been done in a shorter amount of time and with the characters not coming off as quite as clueless before the big reveal. I think it's possible this story should have been done as a single episode earlier in the season. The big problem I still have with the previous two episodes (and to some extent this one) is that it seems like a big leap for Worf and Ezri to believe that they could have a relationship, after the dust settles of a one-night stand, and in particular Worf's seemingly acknowledging in "TDDUP" that he *knows* he's just expecting his relationship with Ezri to just be a continuation of his relationship with Jadzia and Ezri blithely ignoring the reassociation taboo. I get why he and Ezri would want to get to that point, but I think that there needed to be more on why they fooled themselves to the extent that they did, or, perhaps, an alternate way of having them fool themselves -- for example by having Worf and Ezri openly state that they knew that their relationship was not a direct continuation of Worf/Jadzia but that they could make it work, only to realize that they were fooling themselves and of course this is all about Worf/Jadzia. Or something like that. I think "Rejoined" actually did deal with the *setup* of Jadzia and Lenara continuing their past-lives relationship better, for what it's worth.

    Winn/Dukat: Strong up until the last scene. I like that Dukat gets cockier as the episode goes on, starting to treat Solbor with disrespect and gradually dropping the "simple farmer" pretense; it is hard for a narcissistic manipulator to keep laying on the charm before he gets overconfident, we see. The Pah-Wraiths coming to Winn in a vision and her reaction of horror afterward, followed by her desperate desire to see *something* from the Prophets from the Orb, is well done, as is her shock and horror when she finds out that Anjohl is an instrument of the PWs. I like, too, that she recognizes some of the truth in Anjohl's suggestion that what she really wants is power and that she should embrace that rather than denying it. We know that it impacts her because of the way she seeks out Kira, someone who is both totally devout and also has regularly criticized Winn for her power-hungry nature; she immediately recognizes that Kira can be her moral guide at this point, because Kira has been right about Winn all along. What I like about this moment is the way it demonstrates that a part of Winn recognizes that she is tempted by Anjohl, that part of her *deserves* to be shunned by the Prophets for that reason, and perhaps that she partly regrets the things she has done to consolidate her power. What really works, too, is the way Winn asks *Kira* what she can do to be forgiven, because while Kira believes in the Prophets' unconditional love, *WINN DOESN'T* and never has (see, for example, an early exchange with Bareil where he stated that the Prophets' love is unconditional and she clearly stated that Bareil was wrong). The Prophets' wrath, according to her value system, should be directed at people like her who communed with the beast, even if accidentally. And there is no way out -- except to beg forgiveness and then to do what Kira says. At which point Kira crosses a line and says that Winn should give up her Kaidom, and this shows where her willingness to change ends.

    I think that here we see some of the limitations in the fundamentalist philosophy: Winn cannot very easily adapt to new information because she cannot truly admit fault in herself without having to break herself and submit to the Prophets' wrath. And of course she doesn't deserve the Prophets' wrath *for accidentally having Pah-Wraith visions*, and on some level Winn is right to recognize that would be unfair. However, something interesting happens in the scene with Kira, and via Dukat's manipulations and the Orb scene -- the idea that the Prophets are punishing her solidifies, and what she has done "wrong" becomes conflated with her entire history of seeking power. Which, yes, should earn her criticism (if not necessarily godly "wrath," but that's another point), but before Dukat subtly manipulated her into thinking of her ambition as related to the possibility of joining with the Pah-Wraiths, it was totally unrelated to her feelings of abandonment by her own Gods. Winn can only break and regroup, but eventually she must either punish herself excessively, follow the philosophy of another Prophets worshiper who has a more openminded outlook (Kira), which also amounts to giving up on her ambition...or find some other way to continue her life. She chooses the last option. She is unwilling to give up being Kai, because she "earned" it.

    But you know, it would not be that hard for Winn to rationalize that Kira has always been her enemy and that it was a mistake to go see her; it would not be hard for Winn to find some sycophantic Vedek to tell her what she wants to hear given carefully worded phrases. I am not convinced she lacks the mental resilience to find a new rationalization for what has happened to her. I think that over a long enough period of time, Dukat and the Pah-Wraiths could switch Winn's allegiance, and the majority of this episode is something that works effectively at getting Winn to the point where it is easier for her psychologically to do so rather than to live with the crushing feeling of *having been wrong*, and having a theistic philosophy that punishes heretics brutally. It’s also worth noting how frequently on personal level (i.e. cults) or on national level managed to turn religious fervor to a different cause by using similar symbols, like Nazi Germany playing up Teutonic myths or the Soviet Union essentially replacing the Russian Orthodox religion with a kind of worship of the state.

    But that last scene though...no. It's not that Winn isn't ambitious, doesn't resent the Prophets choosing Sisko over herself, is not upset that the Prophets have long been absent from her, does not *want* to punish her enemies. She is petty, spiteful, in love with power, and unwilling to brook dissent. But she has based her life around the Prophets, genuinely did fight to save lives during the Occupation, genuinely did seem to be conscientiously concerned with Bajor's safety and future in things like "Life Support" and "Rapture"/"In the Cards." The one element that works in her final monologue is that she felt *nothing* when she saw the wormhole opening, and I do think that a lifetime of disappointment, of feeling that the Prophets have refused to acknowledge her worship, could do things to her. But not in a day, and not in a way that leads to her effectively declaring war against the vast majority of the planet's population the way she does here. Not convinced, and it really hurts the episode and the plotline. That the Restoration involves burning the planet and wiping away those who “aren’t worthy” is also one of those things that I cannot believe wouldn’t give Winn pause.

    The Damar material is definitely the highlight here. First off, this is integrated with the Worf/Dax stuff really well—Worf’s snapping Weyoun’s neck is a fantastic, unpredictable moment, and Damar’s delight at it along with a defeatist attitude (“they’ll just clone another one”) gives some sense of how helpless and trapped he is. It occurs to me that Worf’s action does have an impact on Damar’s thinking; feeling impotent and powerless in his “relationship” with Weyoun for so long, to see Worf just out and kill Weyoun, even if it is a futile gesture, is another thing that helps Damar recognize that he actually really admires the Federation for fighting against the Dominion, who have essentially conquered them and him. However, as some people have pointed out, while Damar does care about his people, his motives are not exactly pure. He reacts not just to Cardassian loss of power—the whole of Cardassia had little choice in Dukat’s seizing power and putting them under Dominion rule, and Damar didn’t care then. He believes that Cardassia is oppressed by the Dominion, certainly, but this is partly because Damar is self-centred, and believes that *all* Cardassians are dealing with the same feelings and experiences he is; he sees Cardassians as puppets only once it becomes clear to him that he personally is a puppet. I also think that there is something of a xenophobic tinge to Damar’s negative reaction to the Breen, what with the Breen’s Other-ness being heavily emphasized, down to them being incomprehensible. Don’t get me wrong, for the Cardassians to be forced into accepting an ally who immediately get “territorial concessions” and implicitly get higher status in the Dominion does demonstrate how little power or self-determination the Cardassians have and how deeply the Dominion has them on a leash at this point, but I don’t think the Breen’s *alien-ness*, down to their language (hidden from the audience) is wholly coincidental to why they evoke so strongly a negative reaction. The thing that really does seem to move Damar, though, and the thing that does distinguish him from Winn, is that he genuinely does care about his people on Septimus III, and is reacting to a Dominion strategy that totally devalues those lives. And while in principle in previous episodes Damar could simply feel powerless, here Weyoun outright threatens to have Damar killed and replaced if Damar does not sign the Breen treaty sight unseen, which confirms that Cardassia has lost.

    The final scene really hurts the episode but overall it’s quite good—3 stars.

    I just said something like this in the "Field of Fire" thread in a response to Peter G. but it bears comment on this episode -- while it is annoying how easily the Reassociation taboo is brushed off in these episodes, I think it is nice that the spirit is respected and, in particular, that Ezri actually makes the choice not to relive her past love, in a way that Jadzia didn't in "Rejoined" (with Lenara having to make the choice). Given Jadzia's extreme impulsiveness in relationships ("Meridian," "Rejoined") and her tendency to relive the past (Curzon in particular), for Ezri to make a bad romantic decision having to do with reliving a past relationship but then decide to move on from it of her own free will, rather than having her weird, impulsive decision be undone because the other party called it off or because, as in Meridian, some tech ex machina stops her at the last minute, or, as in the nonromantic example of "Blood Oath," having Kang make the kill instead of her, seems like progress for Dax as a (composite) being which suggests that maybe there are ways in which Ezri Dax's story is an effective continuation of Jadzia Dax's, though I'm still not wild about how they handled her this season overall.

    I need to echo what just about everyone has said about how Winn's last scene. They've developed Winn as a multi-faceted character for years, and continue to do that through the first 2/3 of this episode. Then in the last scene they try to undo that with a supervillain speech. It just doesn't work.

    Damar advising Weyoun 8:
    "Why don't you go talk to Worf again?"

    Damar consoling Weyoun 8:
    "Oh I'm sure she'll understand... but if she doesn't... I look forward to meeting Weyoun 9"

    Damar looking down at a dead Weyoun 7:
    "Hahahahahaha"

    Priceless :)

    In regards to Kassidy not having faith in the prophets:

    First, we have to recognize Sisko's growth here. Sisko came to DS9 still angry about his wife's death, unwilling to be there, to make ties, actively trying to get away. The prophets showed themselves to him over and over, guided him, showed him the future. I don't think his faith is religious but logical. They know things others do not, so when she say not to do something he's more likely to listen.

    Then we have to keep in mind that they are considered my Kassidy just to be wormhole aliens. Wormhole aliens with information, sure. But she is less tied to the cultural aspects of it, because she doesn't see anything godlike about them.

    Kassidy "believes" in them, she just doesn't have faith in them. And why should she? She's never met them. She's not Bajoran. They don't seem to care about her. So why would she participate in the rituals?

    3 stars

    Smart touch that the Founder restored her appearance before greeting the Breen. She would never show weakness in front of her "allies" Cardassian or Breen. I also liked the extra added complication that the Sickness added to the layers--how it pierced the aura of invincibility the Founders had always exhuded as being clever villains and one step ahead of everyone and with no weaknesses It also showed the single mindedness of their goal to conquer the Alpha Quadrant. Here they are afflicted but still continue with plans and plots without skipping a beat-all the while struggling with illness. Definitely cemented them as a force to be reckoned with

    Believable that the Prophets wouldn't respond to Winn when she reaches out to them. Afterall, they're non-linear and can see her future treachery and self serving goals. I really enjoyed the Kira and Winn scene

    Liked the way the episode reinforced the fact the Dominion see the Cardassians as cannon fodder not as true allies("oh yes such a great tragedy" with zero sincerity -with the scene where Danar learns of Septimus being wiped out by the Klingons and Wetoin justifying it as advancing the larger goal of the Dominion. To them the cardassians are no less expendable than the Jem'Hadar. I also liked when the episodes would discuss battle strategies and tactics such as here with Weyoun informing Damar that there is a weakness in Romulan defenses they had overlooked or even the strategy of letting Klingons wasting resources to capture a worthless planet like Septimus Prime. It helps create the feeling that a real war is going on in the a Star Trek universe

    Was there another Weyoun clone on the ship waiting to be activated? Does he come with his own giant slab of ice to keep him cold? Why does he have the old Weyoun's memories? If this one gets killed is there a second clone on the ship?

    Are there really no cameras in the cellblock where Worf and Ezri are being held? Even though Worf has a history of escaping from Dominion prisons?

    I assumed that the orb box that Dukat brought to Wynn was a fake. The prophets have never spoken to her anyway, so she shouldn't be surprised that they're still not speaking to her.

    Kassidy's lack of faith in the prophets: It's not that she doesn't believe that they exist. They obviously do. She has seen no reason to think that they are a force for good, or a force that will interfere in the banal lives of individual Bajorans. Neither have we. The Bajorans have faith in this stuff because . . . that's their religion. It's not hers. Nor is it really Sisko's. He believes they have a plan for him and he has come to accept his role as a religious figurehead, but that doesn't mean that he thinks that the prophets will actually make an individual Bajoran fertile. As to why he thinks their plan for him is good, he's similar to Kai Wynne He believes it because they keep talking to him and interfering with his life. That would make anyone feel special, right?

    More resolution to the various subplots here in another blur of an episode that has its highs and lows but overall is decent entertainment. Damar's subplot makes a hell of a lot more sense than Kai Winn's.

    Damar is quite simply the highlight of the episode. The straw that broke the camel's back has taken place at long last. His contempt for Weyoun is outstanding -- Biggs is terrific in delivering these lines: "Why don't you go talk to Worf again?" and "I look forward to meeting Weyoun 9."

    But to get to this stage, I just question how Weyoun and the Founders could have so little regard for the Cardassians and subjugate them to the Breen after all they've been through together. I think this is a weakness in the overall story arc just how this disregard is so blatant.

    One of the low points is the Breen. Should have subtitles for them but the bottom line is they suck. Pure and simple. No understandable language, those stupid helmets prevent any characterization -- worse than the Jem'Hadar. No understanding of their motive to hook up with the Dominion. So they just get a communique from the Founder and that's it?

    The Kai Winn subplot had me scratching my head. OK, so the prophets never spoke to her because she's out for No. 1, is an unlikeable bitch and thinks (falsely) that Bajor needs her. Never been a fan of the character but she serves a useful purpose. But being so devoted to the prophets, she just switches allegiance to the Paghwraiths and gets all evil with Dukat at the end? Yes, DS9 gets its kicks from important characters switching allegiances, and I suppose something was building with Kai Winn, but this is a bit much -- like going from being a devout Christian to worshipping Satan. And as for Kira telling her to step down, that's taking some liberty...yes Kira hasn't seen eye-to-eye with Kai Winn and she doesn't hold back, but she does respect the Kai and should also know she would not step down given her arrogance.

    Worf/Ezri finally comes to a decent resolution after 3 episodes of mostly annoying interaction. Not much point bearing grudges anymore when you're about to get executed. Good to see Ezri stop taking Worf's crap but she's a bit of a lightweight just joining DS9 in Season 7 and hard to take seriously. The hookup was a mistake and I'm glad the characters see it that way. Ezri is justifiably pissed with Worf and his stupid honor nonsense.

    A strong 2.5 stars here -- interesting stuff but, for me, just enough to not be satisfied with in terms of the overall plot direction. We expected Damar to "defect" but Kai Winn turning evil seems forced despite a reasonable scene where she really hits a wall questioning her beliefs. The ending with Dukat is borderline cringeworthy, but the other subplot(s) are intriguing.

    Strange bedfellows

    --Adami and Anjohl

    --Adami and the Wraiths

    --Ezri and Worf

    --Damar, Ezri, and Worf

    --The Emissary and the Unbelieving Freighter Captain

    Good bye, Weyoun 7. Best line from Damar to Weyoun 8 about the Founder possibly being displeased: "I look forward to meeting Weyoun 9."

    Lots of good set up! I just love The Breen. And I liked the way the Kai was turned to follow the wraiths. Made sense and well done. Fletcher and Alaimo are great.

    Let's see where it goes.

    Winn's an agnostic atheist, she's playing the religion card for political advantage. She'll play that hand as far as she can take it, use anyone even so called 'gods' to get what she wants. She knows they are mere aliens indifferent to her peoples suffering.
    When the Pah Wraiths wipe the slate she can have them make her their emissary, the highest position in her society and become the undisputed leader, she'll then eliminate them with Chroniton radiation and tell her followers what their absent gods demands.

    @ Toony,

    That's not an impossible read on her, but in a way it's the easy (for us) explanation. Far more menacing might be to consider that she really is a believer in greater powers, is bitter towards them and on some level believes she should be the real object of worship, ideally *by them*.

    I'm still writing up a bunch of half-written comments on the past two seasons, but for now my partner and I are ploughing through the finale, and this looks like a good "checkpoint" to type up some thoughts on the fly.

    My biggest gripe through the first three parts has been all the drama around Worf/Ezri (with a bonus /Julian tacked on the end there). Dear god, make it stop (well, I guess it *has* stopped here... hopefully). I can't stand this stuff at the best of times, not least when it's taking up valuable real estate in the finale to the whole damn show. (Partner, as we grimaced our way through yet another of those scenes: "This is why they need ten parts!!! Just for this!!!!!") Ambitious as a massive multi-parter finale might be... dare I say it's *too much* room?

    We absolutely do need to keep the "low-level" human (or Trill, or Klingon, or whatever) side of this story going while the other tensions of the show escalate to their fullest heights. But my god, this cliché-riddled soap opera nonsense is not the way to do that! A few of Ezri's jabs landed, but apart from that, I kind of wanted to bash my head on something repeatedly.

    (As for another take on "the human side", this time with actual humans, I've been enjoying Ben and Kasidy. We've followed these two a long way, we've had a genuinely real-feeling relationship built up with them -- best in the show, even -- and now we see it tested by the high stakes of everything else that's going on. It pains me in *good* ways. I want these two to be happy in their comfy Bajoran home, dammit, even though that's likely impossible. And I gotta add: as someone whose wedding day is now less than a fortnight away, everything that's happened with that has had an extra level to resonate on for me. I may have in-laws trying to wheedle far more from my partner and I than the barebones ceremony we've opted for, but I look at these eps and go "you know what, it could be worse, at least it's not All Of Bajor". And thank goodness there's no Prophets trying to get us to call it off!)

    Back to Worf/Ezri, because they really have been the blight on this so far. For Worf in general: anyone else had the distinct impression that his characterisation in DS9 has been unfortunately dominated by the stick up his Klingon arse? He's gone from being one of the best characters in TNG (I always looked forward to the Klingon Civil War episodes) to one of the worst in DS9. This is a biiiig showcase as to why. Great, more focus on what a prude he is -- it was clear in TNG, but they tended to shine the spotlight on more interesting aspects of him. At least he comes to *finally* respect their differences and stop leaping down Dax's throat about every person she's been with in her nine lives. And if the writers know what's good for them, that'll be the last of it.

    God, though, Ezri comes out worse for having had so little -- when she's barely had any episodes in the first place, being saddled three episodes of soap opera detracts from her all the more. It really feels like they've gone and taken a series' worth of romantic drama for Ezri and shoved it into a single season. Is This Necessary.

    To quote my partner: "They had the *perfect* excuse to drop all this when Jadzia died! But NO! Apparently this was Just Too Important to drop!"

    Oh well. It's another opportunity for Weyoun 7 to be a catty bastard, and that's always fun to see. It's almost a shame to see him get his neck snapped for it. Number Seven's delicious gleeful pettiness is his downfall...

    ... and god damn, it might be part of the downfall of the Dominion in the Alpha Quadrant, if Damar gets his way. We've finally reached his breaking point, and it feels goooood!

    So far, Damar has been the standard macho military Cardassian: blunt and uncharismatic, patriotic with bonus ego, obstinate, susceptible to vice. Not really someone you could hang a plotline on in isolation; he could just as easily be a background grunt, just how he started out. What makes him interesting is the situation he's been thrust into, having gone from freighter ship to leadership with no time to prepare. Up to this point, that "susceptible to vice" characteristic has been his easy way out -- distracting himself through each day with the Dominion. But we've got a mirror (metaphorically and literally) to Kira recognising her behaviour in 'Rocks and Shoals' here: the effective mirror shots of him having to look himself in the eye, always accompanied by his glass of kanar, forcing him to recognise his own self-destructive drinking. And so he takes action.

    On the whole, the trigger cause for Damar's first act of rebellion actually seems to be a "noble" one: he's driven by the deaths of Cardassians in a war that was never really for Cardassia. But there's definitely ego in there, an ego that's had enough of constant needling from Weyoun. A sort of racial ego, too: he's a proud Cardassian, determined to prove their superiority. Won't play subordinate to the Vorta any longer, and certainly won't be swept aside in favour of the Breen.

    (Partner on the Breen: "They've finally done it. They've finally gone for the budget-saver of having an alien race just be a costume.")
    (Me: "And their dialogue saves on writing budget!")
    (By the way, modern slang has aged their military ranks hilariously badly. The moment we first heard an individual Breen being introduced, my partner had to pause for hysterical laughter. Thot Gor, what a name! It's sex and violence all in one!)

    Regardless of what exactly what makes up his motivation here, turncoat Damar is definitely making for an interesting next instalment in the "which side are the Cardassians on today" political saga. More of this and less argue-sex followed by sex-arguing, please!

    As for the final plotline at play here... wow. Kai Winn's corruption makes for a hell of a tragedy. She's been a constant power-hungry thorn in our protagonists' side, and yet it feels sad to see her in this state. Her scene with Kira is *definitely* the highlight here. She's on her knees, begging for forgiveness -- and despite Kira's history with her, she's prepared to give it, and believes the Prophets will too. All it takes is giving up the one thing Winn isn't prepared to give up: her desire for power, her fatal flaw.

    Her story here feels like a villainous replay of Sisko in 'In the Pale Moonlight', with her "simple farmer" as parallel to the "simple tailor": led by a Cardassian down a cascade of dominos, going deeper into darker activities. Making deals with the devil, damn near literally so in this case. What opens the door for both is the belief that this is for "the greater good". The twists that make this a villain arc, though, are that once it's clearly no longer for "the greater good"... she continues. And unlike Sisko, her final scene here makes it clear she's not going to wrestle with her conscience. Oh yes, she can live with it. And she *will.*

    (I honestly loved that final scene, by the way. I'm a sucker for a good villain, and she's a good villain.)

    I do think this makes a lot of sense for Dukat, in light of his track record. Like masterminding the Cardassian alliance with the Dominion, he's taking advantage of a more powerful force so that he can claw back power for himself (my odds are on this force taking advantage of him too). He repeatedly extols his "love" for Bajor and the Bajorans, so now he gets to roleplay as one and receive that love without the petty little details of his species and his vile history in the way. He gets to decide the fate of Bajor once more. And sweet-talking his way into Kai Winn's bed is the ultimate reprehensible victory in his sexual pursuit of Bajoran women. To have presided over the oppression of her planet, and now trick her into willingly falling into his arms. Strange bedfellows indeed.

    Bringing Dukat and Winn together is the masterstroke here, though. I'm honestly still sort of "eh" on the idea of opposing him with Sisko -- it feels too standard, too "main protag-main antag" -- but the juxtaposition with Winn is perfect. Putting the opposing sides on the same side, having them manoeuvre their megalomania together despite the rich dramatic irony of who "Anjohl" really is. Surely it's inevitable for Winn to find out she's working with Dukat (though whether this happens "too late" in his plan or not is yet to be seen). Will even *that* stop her at this stage, or is she simply too far gone?

    The weird thing is, I think in terms of sheer screen time, Ezri has maybe the most material of anyone this season. Sisko's role is downplayed earlier in the season (partly, I think, because Brooks was starting to want to work on other projects). There's particularly the Prodigal Daughter/The Emperor's New Cloak/Field of Fire triptych which is extremely Ezri-heavy (two -centric episodes and one where Mirror Ezri gets a lot of focus), and the Ezri/Worf material takes up so much time and space during this period. But someone like Damar who gets comparatively little screentime is given more interesting things to do, even before the final arc (his moments in Treachery, Faith and the Great River are good, for example, and I like what Peter was saying about the Dr. Wykoff stuff in Shadows and Symbols). I'm not sure exactly where I fall on the Winn/Dukat stuff in the final analysis but it's certainly gripping in this episode and the last. I'm not anti-Ezri as concept and I think that at times they were *trying* to do something with her that they didn't fully do with Jadzia, which is to genuinely have Ezri move past her previous host(s) (whereas Jadzia maybe remained stuck in Curzon mode in some ways), but I think the execution is generally weak.

    Ezri vs. Damar is really a pretty good comparison actually in that both are characters who really come to take over the show at crucial parts in season seven, after not being major characters before. Damar of course has been around since season four, but he was always a background character before, one who sort of fell upward into prominence. There are some hints in season six of what might be interesting about the guy (e.g. Jack et al.'s analysis in Statistical Probabilities), but still it's mostly this year that brings him to real prominence, and IMO the season does a fantastic job fleshing him out. Ezri is also someone who there's a built-in reason for us to be interested in (being Dax), but I don't really feel that the season earns the level of focus she gets or makes great use of it. Vic Fontaine is another character who gets a surprising amount of material in late s6/early s7 for being a new character, and I'd place him somewhere in between (I like It's Only a Paper Moon a lot, but am not sure about his prominence in other episodes).

    It's actually a pattern I see in a lot of shows in their final season, where new or previously background characters eat up a lot of attention, with mixed results. The stories they do come up with for some of the main characters in the first two-thirds of the season feel weirdly warmed-over -- Bashir in Chrysalis goes through a similar process to in Melora, for instance, though this time with the genetic engineering more forefronted; O'Brien running off to investigate Bilby's wife's murder feels like a weird side quest for him to have gone on, and one the episode itself is only marginally interested in. Sisko, as I mentioned, is relatively backgrounded after the opening trilogy and Take Me Out to the Holosuite and before the final arc, except for AR558. Note that I'm not saying there's *no* new material for these characters, and some, like Odo, keep having interesting and transformative stories. In addition to fatigue with the main cast, I think what maybe happens is that the writing staff has some general or even specific idea of where them main cast will end up at the end of the season, which means that it's hard for them to do anything with the characters that might disturb that ending. So I think there's kind of combination of writerly fatigue with the main cast and also the need to maintain a holding pattern so as not to disturb the endgame. (In TNG, something similar happens in that nothing can be too heavily jostled because of Generations coming up, but they didn't really move to the supporting cast and instead made the Family Theatre stuff.)

    Thinking about it from Nicole de Boer‘s perspective, it’s not that strange she’d get so much material. She’s this beautiful actress about to get typecast into this Sci-Fi popular show. If I were her, I wouldn’t settle a contract with Paramount without a promise of big screen time. From the perspective of the writers it works too; they have this perfect character who is both new and old to the show which makes her a conduit for basically any A or B story the writers want to do.

    After a slow start, things start to get a bit more interesting.

    Perhaps ironically, the best elements of this show come from the Cardassian arc, starting with the moment when Weyoun makes the mistake of standing a bit too close to Worf. It's a beautiful moment, given the way it riffs on Damar's increasing disillusionment; his bitter amusement at Weyoun-7th's death is tempered by the knowledge that it's ultimately futile, both for Worf and Damar.

    Damar in particular is intriguing, though I wouldn't go so far as to say that there's any significant development of his character over the show's various arcs - his motivations may change as the Cardassian alliance with the Founders becomes increasingly unbalanced, but his character remains pretty much unchanged. Still, that's perhaps the point; where Dukat was more of a self-serving political animal, Damar has always done his best to serve his people, and this episode marked the point where he realised that he'd have to take active steps and accept a number of sacrifices to accomplish this.

    Sadly, there's then the Breen. Not only do they look like a cheap knock off based on Leia's bounty-hunter outfit from Star Wars, but they also have the wookie/Minion "language only the characters in the show can understand" thing going on. And for an added bonus, we have the "mystery" of their true appearance (despite Kira and Dukat having presumably stripped a pair of their suits in a previous episode, which equally implied that there's probably been previous direct interactions with the Breen by other people from the Federation, Klingon and Cardassian polities).

    Oh, and as happens so very often, they're a single-species empire with technology on a par - if not superior - to that of the Federation and Klingons. But conveniently, it's within a comfortable shouting distance. But that's something to discuss when we get to the point where we get to see Breen ships taking on the Allies.

    Beyond that, we get Worf and Ezri deciding to just be friends. Which isn't particularly surprising, given that the writers had already scraped the bottom of the Worf/Dax relationship dynamics, but it's not particularly interesting either.

    And there's some icing on the cake, in the shape of Kai Winn taking the first knowing steps to damnation, with the gleeful guidance of Dukat. Sadly, I have zero time for this particular plot thread, as it continues a descent into a tired set of supernatural-horror mumbo-jumbo tropes, which to my mind have no place in a series like DS9.

    Still, at least we have movement!

    Baby writing.

    Winn throws away a lifetime of belief and conviction to follow Fire Marshall Dukhat and the anti-gods.

    It would be like a devout Christian becoming disillusioned and then following Satan as an alternative. The writers are clueless.

    @DLPB

    That's the point. Do you really think those pastors of megachurches with their private jets and mansions have a "lifetime of belief and conviction" in anything other than their own self-importance?

    She lied to herself so well she truly believed she meant well.

    This was the episode she finally was true to herself, but then went right back into denial. She's only doing it for the good of all.

    Apologies if this has been mentioned before, but I love how Damar's scene where he sees himself in the mirror echoes Kira in "Rocks and Shoals" (also written by Ron Moore). Really great stuff.

    The Ezri/Worf stuff was just terrible.

    The ridiculous amount of focus on Ezri, especially how boring it was, pretty much turned Ezri into Scrappy Doo. Worse, the Worf/Ezri/Bashir relationship thing was just monumentally boring.

    It definitely was a huge waste of space, particularly in the end episodes of a series spanning arc.


    And I agree with the above, that the Worf on DS9 is a joyless fuddy dudd. They basically took the worst aspects of his character and endlessly wallowed in them. And they omitted most **if not all** of his TNG fun side.

    A forever mopey Klingon. It takes skill to write that.

    I know that many of you find the Breen to be a joke-even cartoony. When I watched this back in the '90s, I thought of them as a formidable, faceless, robotic enemy. It was very effective for me-and I was already an adult when this came out. I guess one man's "comic book villain", is another man's Lex Luthor

    The scene with Kira and Kai Winn is so satisfying in how it affirms and deepens the journeys both of these people have been on for years now.

    No Trek since has done this well by its characters and cast. DS9 proves itself the ultimate goat once again. 4 stars.

    A great episode. I think the Prophets *did* handle Winn badly, though. If Kira is right about them, why would they be so cold to someone who had no idea she was talking to Pagh Wraiths for most of the encounter and was revolted as soon as she discovered it? If they thought her contrition wasn't enough unless she gave up power too, why be so cryptic? The problem with Kira's 'anyone can be redeemed' explanation is that it doesn't fit how the Prophets actually behaved towards Winn - whereas Dukat's does. That's a strength of the scene: Winn is in some ways acting rationally given new information. It doesn't necessarily fit how we are supposed to see the Prophets though.

    Similarly, we all love Weyoun, but his behaviour towards Damar in this episode seems designed to provoke the kind of reaction it ultimately produced. He normally shows a good instinct for being diplomatic and convincing, but in this case the instinct leaves him entirely. Surely he could have dressed up "Cardassians are being turned from ally into cannon fodder with no voice, and any alternative view on this will get you executed" a bit better? Or even made it less true - had him present for decisive meetings but subtly ignored everything he said. Damar makes much of his overconfidence in this episode but I am not sure he is normally so foolhardy.

    It's also idiotic to do all this in front of the Breen. Apart from humiliating Damar further ... if Thot Gor has has even half a brain, isn't he likely to worry he'll be in the same boat as Damar in a couple of years after seeing all this?

    "It's also idiotic to do all this in front of the Breen. Apart from humiliating Damar further ... if Thot Gor has has even half a brain, isn't he likely to worry he'll be in the same boat as Damar in a couple of years after seeing all this?"

    Interesting point. This has been Weyoun's character flaw since To the Death, of treating who he sees as his underlings thoughtlessly, possibly in order to impress new potential underlings that they'd have a privileged position. It seems that the way Weyoun might read the situation is that the way to show the Breen they are appreciated is to show them that they are higher on the hierarchy than the Cardassians. Maybe the Breen even like this and didn't want to agree to join unless they were assured at least privately of higher status than the Cardassians. This attitude is probably more effective in the Gamma Quadrant where the Dominion rules so extensively that most open resistance has been stamped out and the best most can hope for is a more privileged position, even temporarily, and Weyoun hasn't really adjusted, though again To the Death suggests this type of thing doesn't even work with all Jem'Hadar.

    @Tomalak I think that regarding the Prophets there are a couple explanations for their treatment of Winn.

    The first is that being the Prophets, that was what was necessary to achieve the outcome they sought - the defeat of the Pah Raiths. But of course that explanation is a little too pat because this presumes the Pah Raths, despite being fallen Prophets, are basically morons who don't know that they are being manipulated.

    The second explanation is that despite her words, Winn was never going to be anything but what she was - a self serving narcissist craving personal power. She was an unsuitable instrument for the Prophets, who knew that she'd never actually serve their ends, only her own. I wouldn't say that they went out of their way to antagonize her; they simply had no use for someone of this nature.

    I'm sure human philosophers have expressed this concept elsewhere, but I recall the Minbari from Babylon 5 believed that if you do the right thing for the wrong reason, the endeavour is always tainted and doomed to go wrong. If the Prophets live by this idea, then they wouldn't be working through people like Winn, full stop.

    The irony of course is that Winn's corruption made her unsuitable for the Pah Raiths as well. Unlike Dukat, she never really committed to their cause, still blathered on about the "restoration" as if the Pah Raiths were really going to build some utopia (with her in charge). Dukat's nature was alot like Winn's, except after Waltz he really became alot less of a hypocrite and truly embraced what the Pah Raiths were about, making him a perfect instrument for them.

    Regarding Weyoun, I agree with William that his attitude may be a remnant of his Gamma Quadrant approach, but I think it's more than that. Despite his affable nature and skill at diplomacy, Weyoun isn't a normal being from a normal humanoid culture. He's basically this engineered cloned person whose entire race was engineered and cloned based on a recipe made by people who don't understand humanoids nearly as well as they purport to and miscalculate badly when it comes to dealing with the Alpha quadrant races.

    This means that while he may be able to understand humanoid cultures through study, he and his race have blind spots in that (1) they aren't actually from a real culture and 2) were programmed by people who have their own blind spots.

    This blind spot in the Founders' genetic programming is hinted at in one of the station occupation episodes where Weyoun reflects on his inability to understand art or aesthetics because it wasn't programmed into him and Kira asks him if this could be a mistake made by the Founders.

    Well it sure was, because anybody who was a real person and not some cloned version of one would have figured out what Damar as an individual was about to do - the "programming" of his race be damned. Weyoun assumes that because Damar is Cardassian, he'll obey authority without question, just like the Vorta.

    One could also mention that at a royal court for example people were falling out of favor all the time and be publicly humiliated in the process but that did not keep others from trying to win the favor of the monarch. Some go up, some go down. Furthermore, the Breen know that the Dominion is super powerful and even with the limited resources in the alpha quadrant have a good chance of winning the war and when that happens the Breen could be one of the most important factions.

    Interesting comments!

    "... the Prophets, who knew that she'd never actually serve their ends, only her own. I wouldn't say that they went out of their way to antagonize her; they simply had no use for someone of this nature... If the Prophets live by this idea, then they wouldn't be working through people like Winn, full stop."

    I think this is possibly very close to the way the writers saw it. BUT the writers also seem to want us to agree with Kira's analysis, which your analysis clearly contradicts.

    Kira sees them as benevolent prophets/creatures open to redeeming anyone, even Winn - and argues that strongly. Winn thinks they have no interest in her. You're saying Winn was right? Of course, as viewers rather than devout Bajorans we can perfectly well say "They're indifferent to some Bajorans and also they handled Winn badly, then" - and that probably is my view.

    "the Breen know that the Dominion is super powerful and even with the limited resources in the alpha quadrant have a good chance of winning the war and when that happens the Breen could be one of the most important factions"

    Definitely - but Weyoun does everything he can in this episode to make a thinking Breen wonder how enjoyable a position that is likely to turn out to be. "If this is how they treat their allies..."

    I'll just add a bit to what Jas on R. wrote. Weyoun may have built-in flaws, but I don't think they are entirely errors in the sense that he just received bad programming. The Founders make him what he is to achieve certain specific goals - it's like Brave New World where people are engineered to be suitable for specific tasks from birth. That means Weyoun would be excellent at certain things, but unsuitable for things he wasn't designed for. It would appear that self-preservation and caution were traits not useful for the Weyoun series to have in most cases, even though in certain scenarios the lack of these would be deadly. Normally that wouldn't matter, as he could just be replaced. In fact it seems like it's almost by design that the Vorta are disposed of on a fairly rapid basis, since once they start getting ideas of their own it's a problem.

    Weyoun also doesn't really speak for himself, but is the ultimate servant of the Founders. If the female Changeling gives him some instructions, or even gives off a certain attitude, he's going to relay that even if it's strategically detrimental. For all we know it was the Founder who told him to put Damar in his place, and Weyoun dutifully did so, even though if she had asked his opinion he might well have told her it would be disastrous to do so. I think a lot of what we see is him channeling the Founder's attitude. It's not like it was in Weyoun's nature to want to exterminate all of Cardassia, for instance, even though he'd follow such an order without question.

    I think that's a great fan theory. She seemed way less deft than him on these matters - but as you say - he was so deferential to her that of course he'd do dumb things if she wished them.

    @ Tomalak,

    "Kira sees them as benevolent prophets/creatures open to redeeming anyone, even Winn - and argues that strongly. Winn thinks they have no interest in her. You're saying Winn was right? Of course, as viewers rather than devout Bajorans we can perfectly well say "They're indifferent to some Bajorans and also they handled Winn badly, then" - and that probably is my view."

    I think the issue is about will. The Prophets probably would allow anyone who had done bad things to be redeemed if they really wanted redemption. But evidently Winn didn't, not at the deepest level. So while they may be 'open' to redeeming anyone, it would have to come from that person as a request, not from them as some kind of magic gift. One thing where on the surface the Prophets may differ from the Judeo-Christian God is that in the latter case we're told God reaches out to try to reconcile with wayward people, whereas in the case of the Prophets they seem to stay aloof and will hear you if your intent is good but otherwise are a no show. Maybe the writers had something more benevolent in mind, but the way it plays they do seem much more indifferent on a 'caring' level about individuals, probably because we think of caring as a moment to moment 'being nice' thing, whereas since they don't understand linearity their version of caring would be for things to go in the correct direction over eons. In this respect they're very different from the Judeo-Christian God.

    @Jason R. On Weyoun: "he and his race have blind spots in that (1) they aren't actually from a real culture and 2) were programmed by people who have their own blind spots."

    Perceptive. The Founders are convinced of their superiority over solids (like that Laas fellow) and consequently are blind to the resilience of all their Alpha quadrant adversaries, and equally blind to the breaking point of their Cardassian allies. Proof of the latter is found in Weyoun's insensitive handling of Damar, whose role in determining strategy is completely negated and had his nose rubbed in that all the time.

    @ Booming "One could also mention that at a royal court for example people were falling out of favor all the time and be publicly humiliated in the process but that did not keep others from trying to win the favor of the monarch. "

    Absolutely. In addition to blind spots, Weyoun was cloned with emphasis on slavish devotion...to some extent he/they may have thrived on minor chastisement from the Founders who seemed to enjoy making the Weyouns feel stupid. Weyoun therefore mishandled Damar badly by constantly belittling him. Damar had no stomach for daily humiliation and was eventually going to crawl out of the bottle and withdraw from the alliance with the Dominion. (His departure reminds me of the Duke of Buckingham's defection from Richard III prior to Bosworth Field). Humiliation does not beget loyalty. Cruel stinginess is the mark of despots everywhere and it dooms the Dominion, utterly.

    @Peter G. On Weyoun: "I think a lot of what we see is him channeling the Founder's attitude."

    Agreed. He behaves with the arrogance of the Founder toward Damar. Cardassians are clearly the cannon fodder of the Dominion and rather illogically and like a nasty, triangulating parent, the female Founder continually channels contempt toward her Cardassian allies (as if to show a preference for the hound-helmeted Breen). It is a disastrous approach.

    What was the nature pf the Dominion Cardassian alliance? I don't remember the founders being the owners of all Cardassian territory in previous shows. Damar never protests that Weyoun is speaking untruths.

    It looks like the writer are making things up again which go against previous shows.

    I've watched DS9 so many times, literally dozens of full series rewatches. Some episodes wear thin....but never EVER this one. It's so damn great. When worf snaps weyouns neck In the blink of an eye and Damar starts laughing...it's just the best scene ever....but then it gets even better. Demar greeting the new Weyoun with that Jovial "well Helllllo"! It's so good haha, then he even gets another great jhoke "maybe you should go talk to Worf again" ROFL. After all these rewatches it truly never gets old, it's funny every single time. What also never loses its impact is how masterfully the show created the character of Demar and slowly developed him into such an interesting and important character. It happens so naturally in no small part because Casey Biggs is such a talented actor. I know they are VERY different but in a way it's alot like how Colm Meaney portrays O'Brien. Both of their performances are so believable that you can absorb context not just from their lines but from their body language, and facial expressions. It's very impressive and a lesser actor could have never pulled off such a complex character arc in such a short amount of time.

    Seems to me that Kai Winn’s conversion to the Paghwraiths pretty quickly followed her conversation with Kira, a conversation where neither listened and each talked past the other in a fruitless effort to be right. Without that conversation, Winn might’ve stayed on the light side of the Force. Almost Shakespearean in tragic missed connections (think of Romeo accidentally learning from Balthasar that Juliet is dead without also getting Friar Laurence’s vital message that it’s a fake death).

    Before Winn talked with Kira, Winn was still with the prophets. But when Kira (ignorant of what Winn was really going through and choosing not to ask) jumped to the conclusion that Winn must step down, it pushed Winn from grief, into arguing with Kira, in an effort to prove herself right. And there was nowhere for that argument to go but straight into the arms of the Paghwraiths.

    It seemed a well-done allegory of how Kira’s (or anyone’s) blind faith (in anything, really: a religion, a battle plan…) can throw up boundaries between people that will only result in polarization. Seeking first to understand is how to keep the opposition from radicalizing.

    I thought there was a nice layered effect in Kira jumping to judgment of Winn, in the same way she jumped to judgment of Sisko, even unable to smile at his wedding, without knowing every piece of info.

    (I mean, how can a person possibly think they have all the necessary facts about the decision between two other people and a god (no matter who the god is, prophets or aliens) to get married?! The chutzpah. Pun intended. And a fun fact for why: chutzpah, of course, means “gall/audacity/cheekiness” in Yiddish, but its Hebrew ancestor (huspah) has an Arabic cognate (hasafah). Both are descended from the Aramaic (hu spa) and the Arabic means, in juxtaposition to the Yiddish: “sound judgment.” Facts are in the eye of the opinion-holder.)

    @Thadiun, very interesting. I do think that the sequence is meant to show that despite her dedication to the Prophets, Winn values her worldly status more. I had never really thought of whether the conversation tells us about Kira's character/flaws. A more careful person would perhaps recognize that it is huge that Winn is seeking to change at all, and expecting her to also give up her power right away is implausible, given who Winn is. Or, a more politic person might pragmatically try to assess what happened to Winn just now and how to address it, rather than risk alienating Winn by making demands Winn was unlikely to agree to.

    On the other hand, Kira has seen enough of Winn's duplicity to know that Winn stepping down really is kind of the bare minimum to start Winn atoning. Winn tried to assassinate Bareil, then used trickery to win the kai election, then basically worked Bareil to death. Kira's moral certitude in thorny situations is sometimes a bit much (I know what you mean about the wedding) but I think she is correct on the merits about how far Winn is from atonement and how much Winn would have to give up, even if a savvier pragmatist would do well to try to keep Winn from falling further rather than genuinely try to save her soul so to speak. For Kira to view Winn, whom Kira has reason to despise, as someone whom she can help at all is a tribute to Kira's character/faith, and that faith is the same reason she tries to help her in what might read as a foolhardy and counterproductive way.

    @William B, please let me first say that I began (re)watching Star Trek series about a year ago when I had to find a way to keep myself entertained during a now-year-long-and-counting medical situation. Shortly after I started binging one series after another, I found Jammer’s site and thereby your posts. After each episode I watch (I’m now several hundred in), I read the review and most comments. I only began occasionally commenting myself a couple months ago, once I started to feel I’d learned enough to sometimes weigh in. I very much enjoy reading your humorous and measured approach, which has appeared consistently diplomatic for well over a decade, it seems. Thanks for all the entertainment.

    Not sure whether here is the right place to reply, or in the comments for the next episode (“The Changing Face of Evil”) which I’ve now seen in the interim. It seems to me that in the next episode we see Winn keeps wavering in her commitment to the paghwraiths. When someone either challenges her (Solbor) or obscenely flatters her (Dukat), she’s all in with the paghwraiths. But when she has a little time to think quietly on her own, she develops doubts. Or at least, hesitations. Back and forth she goes. It’s kind of tragic (if you set aside the bit that she’s working to bring about the destruction of her world). In a moment when she’s being challenged, she simply can’t hold fast to the possibility that she may be wrong — even tho she can see that when she’s not being challenged. Like a child, she responds to challenge with defensiveness.

    And that’s why I saw Winn’s response to Kira in this episode we’re commenting on here, as tragic, too. Certainly, it’s not Kira’s responsibility to be attentive to Winn’s immaturity and to compensate for that. But IF Kira HAD chosen to handle Winn more delicately, maybe things would’ve turned out differently. Yet Kira rarely treats anything delicately; that’s Kira.

    Now, it’s just occurring to me — WHY was it KIRA that Winn called in the middle of the night? Rather than a Vedek or another spiritual advisor? (I mean, presumably when the Pope is having doubts, he goes to confession with a Cardinal; he doesn’t go to the local military base’s lay Catholic with a great mass-attendance record.) Perhaps Winn called Kira because, in Winn’s experience, she feels certainty around Kira. Kira’s challenges to Winn give Winn fortitude. Winn (who’s terrified of doubt and who doesn’t seem all that familiar with grief, either, or at least has coped with grief before by turning it into rage) WANTED someone who’d help her feel confidently angry and sure of herself. And Kira, being Kira, obliged.

    @ Thadiun,

    I'd say Winn would feel more comfortable talking to Kira about this because she knows that (a) Kira is close with the Emissary, and (b) Kira already knows full well about her various corruptions and so won't even pretend to be shocked by them. The last thing she needed was to have to go through some drama about these revelations. Kira was going to be chill about that, at least. And yes, Kira does have a fiery certainty about her which can be inspiring. And then there's the fact that the Prophet chose Kira to be its vessel in The Reckoning, which must count for a lot in terms of her faith being pure.

    That being said, I tend to personally disagree that Winn was truly seeking absolution and had guilt about her various actions. I think maybe she thought she was. But on some level she's so duplicitous that I think Winn was operating in much the same way Dukat often has, in putting on a kind of show - an earnest show, mind you - in order to convert her worst detractor about how good she really it. And Kira was certainly her greatest opponent among Bajorans. I sort of feel this scene bears echoes of Waltz, where Dukat's need to be loved and admired was so great that he needed the Bajorans, and their Emissary, to recognize they were wrong about him all this time. And I think Winn on some level needed that too. Maybe not to the same extent, but I think some of this confession to Kira is theatre, meant to prove that the Prophets (through Kira) are ungrateful and not worthy of her. Who are they to tell her to give up her great prize and position? This way, after having her "confession" be rejected she could reject them for real, pretending it was them who rejected her. That being said, I think some small part of her actually does feel guilt, and that, despite herself, some of it was genuine in a very conflicted way. But she was NEVER going to give up being Kai, and I don't think Kira's approach had anything to do with that.

    @Thadiun,

    First off, thanks for your kind words and I am enjoying reading your thoughts now.

    As far as Winn, I agree that there is a set-up for a tragedy, that there were opportunities for Winn to get off the Pah-Wraiths train and kept almost taking them and then getting off. Maybe once you conclude the plotline I can say a little more.

    I have to wonder if part of the reason the Prophets refuse to speak to Winn is because she interfered in the Reckoning last season. From their perspective, the whole Pagh-wraith issue would have been dealt with already, if not for her interference. What she did might even be seen as equivalent to physical assault on one of them. So they may figure she's already done too much to forgive at this point.

    For that matter, despite Kira's faith in the Prophet's forgiveness, I don't think there's really much evidence that the Prophets care one way or the other. They care about Sisko, and they claim to be 'of Bajor' in some nebulous and unexplained way, but I don't see much evidence that they care about the Bajoran people as a whole, much less individual Bajorans.

    @ Gaius,

    For my part I think it's pretty clear that Winn was never actually the Kai. She put on the costume and manipulated the voting, but never had any real relationship with the Prophets.

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