In which we lead off with a holocaust joke before remembering why those are so rarely funny.
Garak is on his way back from attending a conference with Jadzia and Sisko, and they’re a little annoyed with his nonsense. This may be because he insisted on attending a Bajoran conference where he provided the ‘opposing philosophical view.’ That view being a defense of the Cardassian occupation of Bajor. He does indignant so well, it’s occasionally hard to tell whether he’s sincerely upset or actually played devil’s advocate just for a smooth conversational pivot into Odo’s past on the ride home.
Odo refuses to be proud of his actions during the occupation. Despite the praise the Bajorans give him now, the accolades of his Starfleet friends, and the respect the Cardassians gave him at the time, he seems exceptionally troubled. Like he knows some detail of his tenure there that hasn’t come out. As the runabout approaches the station, it turns out to be on autopilot. Worf orders the ship taken in and Bashir to beam in (again without hazmat suits!). He finds the crew alive, in a state of unconsciousness and heightened brain activity. Meanwhile, Sisko wakes up in civilian clothes next to Dod, on Deep Space nine back when it was Terok’Nor. During the Cardassian occupation.
Dax and Garak are there too, all dressed in Bajoran work clothes, even as Bashir puts them all into neural monitors to study the effects of the plasma storm they all went through. The effects don’t really fit with those of a plasma storm, though. Something else is up.
Back on Terok’Nor, they quickly try to eliminate the obvious possibilities – it’s not a holosuite (that they have user priveleges for, anyway) and it’s not time travel (because we just did that a few weeks ago, and nobody’s batting an eye at Garak). Dax suspects consciousness transfer, but since they’re seeing each other as they expect to, that’s wouldn’t fit either. Odo has no speculation, but he’s really squirrely. Thus, Garak suggests going to the authorities, giving them an access code he knows, but Odo thinks this is a very poor idea. They spot Dukat up stairs and move on, but not before Odo sees a walking corpse with a chest wound. They also see Odo’s predecessor as station security officer, giving them a closer estimate for when they are. Cardassians also card Jadzia off with some ominous crypticisms. Garak tries to rescue her, but unfortunately Jadzia has been selected. And when Garak gets punched in the dream, he’s got a bosebleed in real life.
The boys have several objectives – find out what happened to Jadzia and rescue her, figure out who they are, get out of the universe they’re in. Fortunately, Garak stole a scanner from the guard, and finds out their names – names that ring a bell to Odo. Before he can explain how, Quark snipes them for waiter jobs for pitiful wages. Solid odds that Sisko’s going to make him pay for that when they get back, if not sooner.
Jadzia is brought up to Dukat’s office. She decides to go by Leeta, and at his instruction she pours two glasses of kanar. He’s trying to be nice, while he explains her new role as his hired friend. See if you can feel the condescension dripping off of him. Much like with Garak, it’s hard to tell whether Dukat believes what he’s selling.
After his twelve-hour shift for starvation wages, Garak is already starting to have a slightly different take on the Occupation. Of course, he’s still not quite reformed. Odo catches sight this time of three Bajoran corpses, all with phaser burns. After his fear reaction is over, he explains that Sisko, Garak, and himself are playing the roles of three Bajorans who were implicated in an assassination attempt against Sisko, and who were executed as an example despite being innocent. It was in the station records.
The station’s security officer, Thrax, stops by Quark’s to scold him for being indiscreet about a known smuggler. Thrax strongarms Quark into giving him the lowdown via threat of the Obsidian Order getting involved. The smuggler was offering something that Cardassians don’t want and Bajorans can’t afford. Quark is a man who knows his market. But there’s a problem – the smuggler was a romulan spy who only started working in the area after Odo took over. How Garak knows this will srely be an interesting lie for another time. The date works out to where Odo should be security chief as well. Not Thrax. Which, if the pattern holds, means that the three executed Bajorans were killed on Odo’s watch… which would explain why he felt so uncomfortable being given accolades by the Bajorans.
The Bajoran resistance had some prearranged signals, mostly to do with moving merchandise around incongruously. Garak disapproves of the simplicity and mundanity of the signal, although possibly only as a means to disparage Dukat. Given his objective knowledge about Dukat’s ability to prepare contingencies, Garak’s sneering comes off either as petty jealousy or a truly frightening assessment of his own capabilities, should he ever be inclined to exercise them. Odo gets another flash of memory, this time aout all the blood on his hands.
The Resistance has some means of getting people off-station, but they don’t offer the service lightly, for personal-level problems. They offer it if you’ve killed a “spoonhead” and are fleeing justice, which begs the question – if Cardassians go on spring break, do they do kanar shots out of each other’s forehead divots? While the Resistance agent is busy not believing them, a bomb takes out Dukat and Jadzia, and the Cardassian guards grab Sisko as he rushes to make sure Jadzia is alive.
Thrax comes in to read off the sentences of the Bajorans in holding, including mentioning that the trials to confirm the sentences will be held shortly. It’s always kind of jarring to remember how the Cardassian legal system behaves like someone trying to make the evilest possible recognizable judicial system, until you remember that they used to be a functional society before their economy collapsed. Thrax drops by Sisko’s cell to explain to them why they’re guilty – they came aboard, visited a drugstore, got cleanup work, and then Dukat exploded. During the conversation Odo is exceptionally offended by the sloppy detective work being evidenced by Thrax-who-should-be-Odo-given-the-date.
Dukat is back on his feet and feeling remarkably chipper about the whole thing. Jadzia is a good conversationalist, after all. He claims that he wants to help the Bajorans he oversees, but the Resistance makes it impossible for him to show any kindness because they keep doing things to resist their enslavement. So inconsiderate of them, really. He only wants what’s best for them, you see. Call it the grey man’s burden. It is during this sizing himself for ‘dictator of the year’ trophy that Jadzia brains him and takes over the console.
Sisko is delving into the heart of the whole ‘timeline’ issue, including mentioning that Thrax isn’t as casually evil as he’d expect from a Cardassian. It’s about then that Jadzia rescues them, because that’s how she rolls. The four of them start out on the run, but they’re caught by security, and it turns out Thrax is a shapeshifter and flees through the vents after he loses the fight. They get to the airlock and board a shuttle, only to find themselves right back in the holding cell, being sentenced for execution.
Now that they’re all locked away together, they ask Odo what’s going on, since all the pieces point back to him. But again, he gets saved by circumstances – Thrax agrees to see him in private, if only to explain to him how Cardassian justice works. And moreso, the Resistance as a whole is disrupting the rule of law, the stability of the status quo, and the reign of order. Gee, where have we heard that sort of line before? Odo finally breaks and tells Thrax the truth, but it turns out that Thrax knows after all.
Scene jump to Odo watching his friends get executed, after a long and particularly pompous speech, because that’s how it happened. He has to admit his involvement, which frees his crew, but he still has to watch his crime. The crime of being aligned as Lawful Neutral for an Evil government. On admission of his failure of justice, they all wake up in Sick Bay, the catharsis complete. Of course, we have to get an after-action report which explains how this happened. As it turns out, Odo isn’t fully Solid – he has some traces of the Changeling shapeshifting mojo – not enough to do anything. Just enough that the plasma storm kickstarted a Great Link among the four of them and locked him into the memory he was obsessing over after the conference.
The real epilogue comes when Kira walks into Odo’s office after reading the report. The revelation of this miscarriage of justice knockes his legend off the pedestal a bit. Nobody gets through a time like that perfectly clean.