In which some Cardassians die, Sisko meets an old friend, and the Continuity Gnomes have been hard at work.
A Cardassian ship is loading, or perhaps unloading something. On any other day I would complain about how the station docks flush with the side of the ship, but the station is actually Cardassian and probably doesn’t need any retrofit adapters. Also, the soundtrack is in a minor key as a Starfleet engineer starts shiftily tampering with a panel which is on the outside of the ship for some reason. Ops goes ahead and clears the Cardassians for departure, and Kira criticizes Jadzia’s choice to date whatver species a Galamite is. As previously noted, Kira is not starfleet and has no reason not to be a bit xenophobic, based on her upbringing in the Resistance. She’s just grossed out about his transparent skull. And Kira and Jadzia get catty about dating, shortly before the Cardassian ship blows up.
O’Brien and Kira are hanging around in a runabout scanning debris doing a root cause analysis, trying to find evidence of sabotage, and hoping to avoid a Cardassian retaliatory strike at the Bajorans. They do find a proprietary Federation defense technology compound in the debris, that the Cardassians shouldn’t have had. Possibly related, Jadzia has an idea that protomatter was used to create an engine implosion.
Ben Sisko’s old friend, Commander Calvin Hudson, an attache to the Starfleet side of the Cardassian DMZ, is on board. He also knew Curzon. It throws Calvin for a loop, and he and Sisko talk about that and some other old times. Calvin is not a fan of the new treaty, and Calvin’s job is to help colonists whose land have been given away function now that they live in Cardassian territory. There are some Cardassian colonies in the same boat, and nobody likes the treaty. It’s honestly a little unclear how these borders came into being. I have my guesses, but Calvin’s thoughts are that the Cardassians are trusting the Federation to play nice with their colonies, while not returning the favor. Compare and contrast to Klingons, who would not, Duras and Gowron notwithstanding, play these diplomatic games, and the Romulans, who would never let their territory fall into Federation hands. The Cardassians, however, are so pleased with this deal that they won’t even retaliate for risk of losing what they got from the treaty.
A bit later, the same Starfleet engineer is in civilain clothes and is met by a Vulcanoid agent (could be Romulan, but the hair is covering up the telltale forehead triangle, if she has one) who tell him that arrangements have been made. A few betopknotted aliens also see this. Their significance is unknown. The Vulcanoid, Sakonna then goes to Quark for a business proposition. For this, he unstoppers a 300-year-old bottle of Vulcan Port, which has either turned to vinegar or Quark doesn’t like wine. Also, the saboteur gets abducted by the topknot aliens.
Later, Sisko is surprised (and dismayed) to find Dukat in his quarters. He at least manages not to say “I have to start locking my doors” out loud, but his eyes say it just fine. Sisko makes a quick call to Kira to track down his son before letting Dukat get to business. Dukat claims to be here to help Sisko uncover the truth about the Cardassian freighter, without the knowledge of Central Command, because he (Dukat) already knows but Sisko won’t believe it unless he discovers it for himself. Because Starfleet and the Federation are at fault, so claims Dukat.
So they go on a road trip. Sisko has the copilot seat turned off, because apparently Cardassians have eidetic memories. He doesn’t, however, require that Dukat wear a blindfold or sit facing the corner. Dukat can see all the other panels, he just can’t play with his own. I guess even Sisko doesn’t think the Cardassians are after the secrets of Federation User Interface design. They banter a bit, and then Sisko detects a Federation distress call, under attack by Cardassian ships. Dukat insists this is a mistake, and off they go to investigate.
Dukat orders the Cardassian pilots to stand down, giving Sisko and the recording devices in the runabout his security codes in the process, and when they don’t respond, he takes control of the weapons and gets ready to fire torpedoes, when a Federation signature comes out of nowhere and blows up the two Cardassian ships. This is a border skirmish that neither Cardassian CentCom or Starfleet Command are in on.
Quark attempts to wine and dine his beautiful new business partner. He’s passing it off as a Ferengi ritual for opening new… business relations. They discuss the similarities between the 285 Ferengi Rules of Aquisition and the Vulcan Code of Ethics. When Quark finally gets down to the actual business of the business, though, it turns out she wants to buy weapons, and this is not what Quark was expecting at all.
We’ve definitely seen the matte painting that is the establishing shot for the next scene. It is, in fact, recycled. Those following along should try to guess before clicking through to the answer. However, this one is the site of a shouting match between Gul Evek, who we’ve also seen recently. Cal Hudson’s counterpart. Gul Dukat shows up as a witness for the Federation. Given Dukat’s previous establishment as a grandmaster in the game if interstellar politics, he has an agenda here. He may even have set up this whole scene. Evek is maneuvered into producing a video confession by the saboteur. Sadly, his treatment can’t be corroborated because he ‘committed suicide’ in his cell. Evek just happened to have a couple of guys hanging out near the door with his body. What happens next can best be described as a kerfuffle. Perhaps a fracas, but not quite a brouhaha. As a nice touch, one of the colonists from Dorvan V shows up at the meeting, which is a really nice nod to continuity and that, plus Evek showing up again in a plot about the DMZ, really validates my decision to switch back and forth between shows based on air date.
Pay close attention to this, because it bears the attention. Just before this, Picard and Evek brokered a peace that seemed sincere – a triumph of local realpolitik that basically saved the truce with the Cardassians. Evek does not seem to be a terrible guy, for a jackbooted thug. Meanwhile, Hudson is spouting the same type of thing we heard from Kirk about Klingons near the end of his career. I mean, also near the beginning and middle of his career, but it was kind of relevant then. Currently, Hudson’s speech is very reminiscent of Kirk’s private “I’ve never trusted Klingons” speech which was used to illustrate him as an out-of-touch relic of a bygone era of hostilities. A man who doesn’t fit in the future he helped create. That echo, though, contends with the very real fact that the Cardassian government funded and armed Bajoran extremists so they’d remove the Federation and leave themselves right for re-annexation. More of the Darker and Grittier from DS9: Is Cal Hudson too jaded for this job? Or just jaded enough?
Cal references New Berlin, which sounds like another monoculture colony. I have to wonder if this was a fad, or if it’s primary policy to make colonies that are disneyfied cultural touchstones. Also, Commander Hudson tells Ben he tacitly agrees with anything the former Federation colonies do to mess with the Cardassians. Back in the runabout, Sisko and Dukat banter some more. Well, ‘banter’ might not be the right word. Sisko is trying hard to find a reason for some Federation folk to have blown up the Cardassian freighter.
Quark’s business dealings with Sakonna have been pushed around due to the death of the other guy. Quark even gets his ‘that’s not a no’ moment by the time Sisko and Dukat get back to the station for O’Brien to corroborate Dukat’s story and for him to have a shouting match with Kira about what happens next. Sisko’s idealism is taking a beating today. probably moreso when the Starfleet security guard (singular!) assigned to guard Dukat is taken out with a classic ruse and Dukat guided to his own abduction.
Listening to Odo talk about security is a delight, because it’s a perfect reminder that this time, the primary Other character (like Data in TNG, Spock in TOS) has neither a culture of his own nor is he attempting to adopt the local customs – he has set his priorities based on who-knows-what and is sticking to them no matter how perpendicular they are to everyone around him. Now, the nifty part here is that the ship Dukat was probably abducted by sounds familiar – it’s Galadorian. You know, the guy with the transparent skulls. As the pieces come together, a group calling themselves Maquis have taken credit for kidnapping Dukat. Now there’s a name with some history. Judging by the look in the turbolift, Sisko gets the reference and Bashir does not. Probably didn’t have time for history while being top of his class at Starfleet Medical.
Bashir, Kira, and Sisko take a runabout to the Badlands, an area near the Cardassian border which is fraught, fraught I say, with plasma storms. Sisko is resolved to rescue Dukat from rogue disenfranchised formerly-Federation civilians, and that’s the mentality he beams down with, to find Cal Hudson, surprise surprise, as a leader of the Maquis.