DS9: S5E15: “By Inferno’s Light”

In which Dukat becomes hauntingly, horrifyingly familiar. Also there’s a prison escape and intrigue and action, but mostly the Dukat thing.

When last we left our heroes, Garak decoded a distress message from Inabran Tain, his old mentor, who was lost over the fake changeling planet in the Gamma quadrant and presumed dead. He and Worf went looking, were barely able to warn the station about a Jem’Hadar invasion fleet, and got captured. There they found Tain (who died), Martok (who’s still alive) and Bashir (who wasn’t known to be missing and whose changeling counterpart sabotaged the attempt to stop the fleet from coming through the wormhole). Also, Dukat had some family drama with his daughter.

"Well, on the bright side, I don't have to pretend to not hate him anymore."

“Well, on the bright side, I don’t have to pretend to not hate him anymore.”

There’s a whole fleet pouring through the wormhole, and available for battle are Dukat’s bird of prey, the Defiant, and the three runabouts. The Alpha quadrant forces are not willing to be the first to open fire, and after a tense staredown, the Dominion fleet heads for Cardassia instead. Dukat goes chasing after them, except that in fact he’s joining them. Dukat has negotiated a treaty with the Dominion, and Cardassia is their newest member.

The Dominion must still be holding out hope of diplomacy with the Federation or other Alpha/Beta quadrant governments, though,  because otherwise this would have been an ideal opportunity to swat down Deep Space Nine’s meager defenses and control this foothold on the other side of the wormhole. We’ve seen some skirmishes between the Federation and the Dominion, but it also may be that they a) think subverting and taking control of Starfleet will be easier if they don’t start the bloodletting in earnest or b) they simply don’t consider Starfleet a threat.

Back in the penal colony, the Alpha Quadrant prisoners have decided to excape now that Tain is dead, so they start by getting a loot at the transmitter, which is in the barracks’ self-contained life support, behind a wall, through a really cramped shaft. Worf wants to use it to send a remote beacon to the runabout to come rescue them autonomously, but it’s going to take quite a long time to rewire, and Garak’s the only one in the barracks with the skill to do it.

"Thank you all for participating in the Two Minutes Hate of Elim Garak. We now return you to 'Keeping up with the Cardassians.'"

“Thank you all for participating in the Two Minutes Hate of Elim Garak. We now return you to ‘Keeping up with the Cardassians.'”

While we ponder his curious reluctance to scoff and make light of how easy it will be, all prisoners are called to the assembly area for a speech by Colonel Klink, otherwise known as Deyos the Vorta. He announces that the Cardassian prisoners are free to go, which will leave Bashir and the others high and dry… oh no wait. Garak has been singled out to stay in detention by the head of the new Cardassian government.

Dukat issues a public address, and it’s a textbook example of military-populist rhetoric. “Our children will be proud of is because I’m going to kill all our enemies. Make Cardassia Great Again.” I gotta say, though. For a brand new dictator propped up by a foreign power from the other side of the largest useful geological referent, Dukat’s a hell of an orator.

Sisko wants the team to figure out who sabotaged that beam. It turns out that the modified beam reinforced the wormhole rather than shutting it down – nothing they know of will be able to close the gate now. NotBashir suggests that it’s probably a changeling, and offers to start a round of blood screenings. He takes care to mention a trail that leads in a direction he’s probably prepped, but all the same if he’s suggesting blood screenings he’s either a) playing his part too perfectly, b) getting ready to abandon the role, or c) has a way to fool them that doesn’t rely on clumsy slight-of-hand this time.

In the camp, Garak is not at all enjoying himself in the life support. Particularly when the Jem’hadar come in and he has to get shut up in the wall. They’re here for Worf and Martok, so that Worf can take hsi turn in the fighting pit. The Jem’Hadar train their warriors against Klingons they capture using a relatively simple KO system – if you hit the ground and can’t hit a buzzer quickly enough afterwards, you lose. Which would be dishonorable, and they probably also kill you if you’re defiant. Worf starts out with a couple of forms and stances, and eventually the match becomes interesting enough taht they can let Garak out of the wall. Worf breaks a sweat defeating the combat of the day, who turns out to be the least of the Jem’Hadar soldiers.

Ziyal is watching out for Garak from the Upper Promenade, and Kira drops by to comfort her, kind of. More to give her some grown-up truths. During this time, a Klingon fleet has shown up, with Gowron present, requesting permission to dock and offload wounded, now that the Cardassians have brand new allies. Where Gowron is planning to dig in and fight to the death, Sisko offers to reinstate the Khitomer accords, which Gowron broke, so they can take a stand against the Dominion at Deep Space Nine. Gowron loves a good Glorious Last Stand, and now that we know NotBashir is not Bashir, the camera has no problem covering him wihle he sabotages a piece of equipment.

Worf is doing pretty well against the Jem’Hadar, but the lead guard manages to be exceptionally insulting by not even looking that mad about it. And Worf isn’t being given time to let his ribs heal. I’m just saying, it seems like poor training practice not to teach your guards to fight against fresh warriors. Almost like this isn’t so much training as it is torture. At the same time, Garak is starting to break down under the strain of his claustrophobia. He’s talking to himself, especially now that the light is starting to die. It’s a good thing he’s got Ziyal as a psychological crutch. Only it’s not really helping. They have to pull him out and give him a rest.

Odo’s spotted evidence that someone sabotaged an industrial replicator, but no idea what he replicated. Sisko suggests Odo pull extra troops from the Klingons, and Dukat rings up for a chat. He’s here to repay Sisko saving his life by advising him to have the Federation join the Dominion. This is because, in his big ‘retake rightful Cardassian property’ speech, Deep Space Nine/Terok’nor was implied.

"But a bet is a bet, Julian..."

“But a bet is a bet, Julian…”

Worf is now rocking a 7-0 Win-loss record, and Martok is his new biggest fan even while Bashir resents him for putting his body through so much punishment. Martok insists that he will make sure Worf’s song is told by the best Skald on Quo’nos. Now that Garak is rested and a song is on the line, he’s ready to go back in. Charmingly, Martok and Worf can only whisper to each other in envy over the change Garak has to conquer his own fear. That’s the problem with being raised a Klingon warrior – no fears to conquer and thus no Ultimate Glory.

O’Brien’s running around looking for a Klingon tech, and he has a chat with NotBashir. Quark is also lamenting the fact that two of the three species that make up the Party in the dominion don’t eat, drink, or screw, and Ziyal’s only thought to cheer him up are that the Vorta might be Calligulistic in their hedonism.

In the camp, Colonel Klink shows up to witness the next battle, and during the pre-fight banter, Worf and the Jem’Hadar leader bond, a very little bit, over their mutual disgust of the Officer Class. Worf will be facing the leader. During this fight, Garak is back inside the wall, and some Jem’hadar guards show up looking for him. This means that Garak is stuck in the wall until they leave, and as we all know it’s one thing to choose to face your fears. It’s quite another to have the choice suddenly taken away. They’re here to execute him, and in their search the find the wall’s prybar.

"I warned them not to mess with the stereo."

“I warned them not to mess with the stereo.”

The station deploys the Defiant and the runabouts, but Bashir was one of the crew of one of them, and he’s incapacitated the others. At least, I assume Bashir was assigned to the crew, or else the changeling would have taken someone else’s shape. During this fight, an entire Romulan fleet decloaks and asks to join the fight, and they have a ten-minute countdown before enemy contacts are within range.

The Jem’Hadar have found the loose wall panel, forcing Garak to turn out his light and rush to finish in the dark. Worf is getting the absolute snot beaten out of him, so that even Martok is telling him to tap out. With one of the Jem’hadar as occupied as possible, the Breen goes for one of the sidearms and takes one of the Jem’hadar out with him. Bashir personally, viscerally kills another one. This is going to be the final aproach, and also Worf is pretty nearly beaten to death. To the point where even the Jem’hadar refuses to kill him, on the basis that he can win the fight, but he can’t make Worf concede without killing him. It’s a nice little moment of recognition that if the Jem’hadar were capable of loosening up at all, they’d probably do wonderfully at Klingon keggers. Sadly, the Vorta is not impressed by this moment of warrior recognition, and orders his best fighter killed for being an honorable combattant. Garak manages to get the beamout done right before Worf gets shot, too. Daring escape accomplished, respect between Worf and Garak acknowledged.

In the Alpha quadrant, the incoming readings show the Dominion fleet is everywhere, but nobody can see them. It’s about now that the prisoner’s runabout comes in, with the information that the real Bashir is on board, so Sisko orders the runabout Yukon (the one that NotBashir commandeered) destroyed with all hands if necessary. The Yukon is headed for the sun, with some device that both boosts the shields and probably blows up the star. In order to get into range, Kira orders the Defiant to make a microjump, which Jadzia the Science Officer balks at as an insane idea.

So now we know. FTL inside a solar system is strongly frowned upon. We don’t know why – it might be the gravity well, or it might be the prevalence of obstacles (since the ship isn’t actually shunting over to an alternate form of spacetime, just bending the local laws of the universe around itself, and can thus crash into things). But whatever the reason, a lot of tiny little setting details regarding shuttlecraft actually make sense now.

The Defiant manages the jump successfully, grabs the Defiant and makes it blow up far enough away from the star that no chain reaction can occur. That’s another thing – the explosion was nowhere near big enough to even bother a star, unless some of the elements in use cause cascade reactions. They made sure to mention trilithium, which is one-and-a-half times better than dilithium, though. Oh, and protomatter.  Oh, and the Dominion fleet traces turn out to be false – an attempt to devastate the entire coalition fleet.

Garak is able to fulfil his promise to come back to Ziyal and not quite sure how to handle how happy she is about that. Miles and Bashir conceal how much they miss each other by trading insults. Worf and Jadzia are also back together and happy about it. Gowron gets to station a permanent Klingon presence on the station, and Sisko offers the position to Martok based on Worf’s recommendation. Sisko gets one final call from Dukat. His gloating does a great job of just barely revealing a man desperately trying to convince himself that he’s doing the wrong thing. Pull quote for this speech, though, is this.

What I did I did to make Cardassia strong again.

I told you long ago: it’s horrifying when Star Trek is still relevant.

Did we miss something awesome?