In which Garak tends to some personal business, some family relationships are strained, and someone’s had a really terrible month.
Odo is moving his shapeshifting gym back into place, and can’t sleep in a bed anymore at the risk of oozing on to the floor. Question: Does Odo leave things wet and messy in his gelatinous state? I more or less presume that what he lacks in passive cohesion he makes up for in actively and effortfully not letting bits of himself go missing. Kira also found his copy of The Game. Kira encourages him to keep pursuing the sexual aspects of social life, and we will gloss over generating any mental images of this. Thankfully, we’re saved by the call to Ops.
They’re receiving a transmission, in the form of a Cardassian military code, from the Gamma quadrant. Bajoran Intelligence hasn’t been able to decode them yet, but Odo reminds us that there is a local Cardassian versed in covert intelligence codes. Garak is summoned to Ops, because at this point nobody’s even going to bother to beat around the bush with him.
Afterwards, Garak returns to his lunch with Ziyal and Bashir, regrettably informing them that the code was from an old survey report and not from the fleet lost in the Gamma quadrant. Unfortunately, he’s got to go mend pants, by which we mean steal a shuttle. Also, Bashir seems a little less naive than he used to be, and is waiting for Garak in the runabout. This is a particularly excellent trick since there are usually several docked. Bashir gets the real story – the message was a call for help from Enabran Tain, Garak’s mentor, who was thought dead over the Changeling planet. Since Bashir knows and is already here, Garak invites him along for the excuse, but Bashir turns him in to tell Sisko the full story.
Garak recognized the code because he and Tain designed the code themselves, and the message was just a repeat of the word “alive”. Garak also suggests there might be other survivors, including Starfleet crews from missing starships. There’s only one way to find out, and Sisko sends Worf along with him. And Jadzia is not at all happy about Worf leaving and not telling her. So she’s stealing his albums. And his hoodie. To hold them all hostage. Garak also says his farewells to Ziyal, including trying to downplay her budding affection for him so she’s not crushed when he dies. Then promises to come back, right when Dukat comes in to try to kill Garak for touching his daughter. Dukat’s here for repairs and to spend time with his daughter.
Sisko goes into some last-minute directives, and Worf promises to return the body if Garak betrays them all and has to get killed. Garak’s sense of humor is equally wonderful – he wants Worf to sponsor him for Starfleet Academy. His heartfelt plea even gets Worf going for a moment. Next up in the Awkward Conversation Rodeo is Dukat mad at Kira for letting Ziyal hang out with Garak. But even granting Dukat’s point that Garak is bad news, Nerys already threatened to kill him if he hurt Ziyal, so I’m not sure what more he wants here. He’s super serial, though, and threatens vague vengeance eternal.
Runabout replicators are more limited than station- or starship models. Memory limitations? Energy limitations? Perhaps runabouts are unable to store as large a raw matter block to assemble food from, and are therefore limited in menu so as to avoid running out of any given element.
At this point, Worf determines they have to turn back, since they’re too deep into Dominion space, since they’re risking detection by the Jem’hadar, Garak suggests sneaking through a nebula to get closer and increase their chances of rescuing all those Starfleet officers. Another fun fact – this nebula renders shields and sensors equally useless. Especially unfortunately, the nebula is teeming with Jem’hadar ships, clearly hiding in prelude for an invastion. Worf and Garak try to transmit a warning just before they get captured.
Kira and Jadzia have their conversation about “Kira Yoshi O’Brien” cut short when DS9 receives Worf’s warning about the invasion. Well, most of the message. This coincides with a couple of lost listening posts, so Sisko has Kira go out to find Worf or confirm and invasion.
Garak and Worf are taken alive and beamed to a POW facility on an asteroid or small (enough to be non-spherical) moon. It’s designated as Internment Camp 371 which, given the Dominion’s reputation, probably isn’t one of those Seal Team 6-style disinformation campaigns.
Dukat wants to take Ziyal back home to keep her safe from the imminent Dominion invasion. Meanwhile, back at good old 371, Garak and Worf have been Processed and are free to roam the compound, since there’s no escape. The lead guard is thrilled at the idea of another Klingon in his camp. They soon see why – the camp has a fighting pit, and Martok is being used to help the other guards stay fresh. Martok is less one eye, and once Worf introduces himself, Martok guesses Garak’s identity and leads them to Garak. There’s also a Breen in that dorm. Tain is on his way out, and some of his last words are to curse Garak for not bringing a better force.
Sisko brought Dukat in to discuss the imminent Dominion invasion. The Cardassian and Romulan fleets are in rough shape, and Starfleet just dealt with a Borg attack so it’s ‘scattered’ as well. Assuming that’s not Sisko underplaying things for the non-allied power in the room. Dukat has only his own ship to offer, so Sisko has to consider closing the wormhole. There’s a scientist who’s found a way to close the aperture without damaging the pocket of weird space inside, but this still cuts off Bajor from the Prophets. The choices are between that or letting the Dominion occupy Bajor. Dukat isn’t that upset about the possibility of trapping Garak on the other side of the galaxy either.
The prison used to be a mining colony, and each barrack had its own life-support system, which Tain somehow hijacked into a subspace transmitter after months of work. After this, a Romulan operative indicates that someone is being released from isolation. That person turns out to be Bashir, which means the one on the station is a changeling spy. Which, in turn, means that the Founders know that Odo has his shapeshifting back. Just to be certain, they all do blood-drop screenings, except for the Breen (which doesn’t have blood). Bashir was brought in over a month ago, after the burn treatment conference. The fact that Bashir was abducted so recently means there must still be somewhat regular traffic through the wormhole. This, in turn, means that closing down the wormhole is probably going to leave a nontrivial number of people on the wrong side of the galaxy.
Meanwhile, Changeling-Bashir has a mission to carry out – bringing sandwiches to O’brien and Dax as they work to shut down the wormhole. Ziyal is refusing to leave the station, much to Dukat’s complete disbelief. Dukat drops the ‘Garak is trapped on the other side’ bomb, but… yeah. There’s something of a rift between him and his daughter and it’s not getting any more healed.
There’s something a little endearing about Garak working out his daddy issues with a Bashir who’s clearly come a long way since he chased Jadzia around moon-eyed and believed literally everything anyone told him, yet still holding onto idealism. In the end, Garak goes to Tain and reassures him that all of the old man’s enemies have been dealt with. And in the very end, Garak demands that Tain finally deal with him not as a mentor or boss, but as a father. And at the very end, he gets it. With that last bit of personal business accomplished, Garak’s ready to leave.
Starfleet’s last listening post has been taken out, and the Dominion fleet is incoming. The station activates the wormhole-closing beams, and it’s an impressive display right before they burn out due to sabotage. Moments later, the Dominion fleet pours through. But before we find out how that ends, we’re gonna check back in with Voyager.