In which Odo gets hit on, Garak almost starts a war, and Gowron’s got a secret.
So, presumably Quark cancelled that hit he put out on himself through Garak, because Odo checking in on Garak by request, and not to arrest him. It seems, in fact, to be so Garak can set him up on a date with a new Bajoran cafe owner. Odo scoffs at convoluted humanoid mating rituals, but still has an appreciacion for… aesthetic concerns. Then Odo has a stroke. Right there in public, no less.
Bashir’s scanning Odo, and despite Odo’s objections, Bashir has actually prepared for this. Past scans of Odo have revealed a resting density, while in humanoid form, of 1.4 Unspecified Units, and his mass and density vary only during his shape changes. So yeah, his mass changes. Changeling powers include violation of the laws of thermodynamics or shunting mass back and forth between parallel dimensions. Which we’ll gloss over now because right now Odo has the Changeling Pox and his mass and density are in flux.
Gowron is issuing an ultimatum refusing to give up conquered Cardassian territories and demanding a Federation retreat, if there’s to be any peace. This included kicking the Federation out of the Arkanis sector, which the Klingons gave up their claims to a century ago. This may be legit, or it may be sabre-rattling and prelude to a war nobody wants to avoid. Also, Kira is starting to show the Bajoran signs of pregnancy – uncontrollable sneezing fits. Her friends enjoy betting on when these end. Jadzia and Worf argue about whether Odo would want some company. He claims not to, but Nerys has brought him the day’s criminal activity report for a little light reading. Then he sees something that catches his attention.
Next, he shows up to bust a suspected smuggler in the act, but his condition reduces him into a puddle of goo and she scarpers. Now he can’t retain his shape at all and Bashir has him in more of a trough than a bed, just in case. The destabilization is increasing, and he’ll be goo in a week. Then probably dead. Bashir has consulted Mora, but Odo’s going to skip right to the end. There’s only one set of real experts in Changeling physiology.
The plan is to go into the Gamma quadrant, broadcasting the purpose of their visit. Hopefully the Jem’hadar will make good on their philosophy that judgement of a god is only for the gods, and either let them pass or escort the Defiant to where they need to be. Kira can’t go because of sneezing, but in a surprise turn Garak asks to come on board. Worf is very protective of ‘his’ ship, but Sisko overrules him based on Bashir’s recommendations for his spy-novel buddy. Also, garak has some questions for the Changelings as to the disposition of the Cardassian prisoners of war. Sisko’s only use for Garak is to distract Odo by presenting him a mystery to unravel.
Bashir and Kira are walking Odo to the Defiant when they’re interrupted by Quark. He’s there to brag about how much money he’s going to make while Odo’s gone, just to make sure Odo will come back. Odo’s pride, I guess, won’t let him allow himself to be wheeled out on a gurney, and he makes the walk in front of everyone.
Garak’s first story is about how he was a gardener on Romulus, tending a beautiful but highly toxic plant, coincidentally when a whole bunch of Romulan dignitaries died of poisonings. O’Brien tells stories of Keiko and Nerys conspiring against him. These happy chats are interrupted when a fleet of Jem’hadar warships take up positions around the Defiant, and they beam Jem’hadar soldiers and a Changeling representative over. After some initially… touchy… greetings, they agree to allow the Defiant to go with Odo to the new Link, so long as Dax isn’t piloting and the computer doesn’t log the destination.
Garak is all aflutter for his ‘meeting’ with the Changeling representative, and she stabilizes him temporarily by Linking with him. Then she clears the room so she can chastise him, brag about how good their surveillance network is, and refuse to deny that the Changelings inflicted this sickness on him in return for killing a Changeling. This was to force him to return to the Great Link for judgement. He will join the Link, open his thoughts, and be judged by his peers. This is the first time they’ve had to do such a thing, and they took an entire season figure out what to do about it.
After the meeting, Garak asks the burning question and learns taht there were nos urvivors, and that Cardassia’s fate was sealed the moment they attacked the Founders. His disbelieving horror shows us, again, why he can wear the prosthetics. O’brien and Sisko are trying to figure out a way to keep track of Odo and make sure they can pull him back if need be, but he of-course refuses. It’s a matter of honor – he’s all about justice, despite the dubious possibility at it from the rumors about the Dominion.
The new Founder planet looks pretty desolate – nothing but a single promontory stands above the planetary pool. No shapeshifter garden, none of the other luxuries of a peacetime Dominion lacking in all challengers. If you needed a statement about how seriously they’re taking the war, this is it. Now ask yourself – do you suppose this planet was barren when they got here, or did the sudden presence of an uncountable infinity jelly-beings choke the life from it? Is that rocky island what used to be Everest? Is it even really rock? Bashir has forgotten himself and is skipping stones into the mass of changelings, though.
Garak has been trying to override the Quantum Torpedo launch safeties, because apparently the Defiant carries enough firepower, by his estimation, to carry out General Order 24. Garak is absolutely ready to avenge his mentor and his people by committing genocide, but despite his expertise in some surprising forms of combat, Worf is still better at this.
Some time after this, Odo is deposited naked on the rocky shore, and Madam Changeling steps up to explain to Sisko and Bashir what’s been done. As his punishment, he’s been expelled from the Great Link – made human, permanetly, which she clearly considers a fate worse than death.
As curious about this as we must be, Bashir does test after test, and decides there’s ‘not a trace of Changeling Protoplasm” anywhere left in Odo’s body. He’s also Type O-negative, which is kind of hilarious. He also has to get used to all sorts of things, like wearing clothes that aren’t made out of his body. And eating. And getting hit on by hot age-appropriate Bajoran cafe owners. Plus he still gets to arrest Garak and stick him in a cell for six months.
Odo also still gets flashes of memory from the Great Link, all jumbled up, and one ominous hint that he can’t quite make sense of, but for the moment all he can really focus on is his job. And now Gowron has declared that they’re giving the Federation ten days to clear out of the Arkanis sector before they declare war. And this is really good timing, because Odo saw in the Link that Gowron has been replaced by a Changeling, with all the obvious and horrifying implications that come with it.