In which a lot of ships get crippled, Sisko receives a new assignment, and Kira faces off against Weyoun.
It seems like only last week, but in reality, it was months ago that the Federation mined the entrance to the wormhole, and in retaliation the Dominion escalated to a hot war by taking over Deep Space Nine. In doing so, they left their shipyard undefended, and it was struck down by the main Federation fleet. When Dukat took over the station, Kira broke it, and Sisko left a declaration of his intent to return. Now, we see a Federation-Klingon fleet limping away from a battle, some still venting fire. The Federation has not been doing well over the past three months, mostly retreating from engagement to engagement, and holding onto the hope of the Seventh Fleet.
Bashir, according to Garak, has been getting insufferably smart lately, now that he no longer has to hide his genetic enhancements. They show this by doing the thing where a person can calculate the odds for a long-running strategic engagement – he puts the odds of the Good Guys(tm) winning at 32.7%, which seems an unreasonable amount of prevision. Garak also points out that Bashir’s no longer the disgusting, syrupy, naive boy he once was.
Worf and Martok have joined up with the Defiant again, to Jadzia’s delight. When they parted, she agreed to marry him, but apparently there’s some tragic news – there’s a slight scheduling mishap with the order of events in the reception. Once that’s sorted out, Bashir joins with actual tragic news. The Defiant is being reassigned and the Seventh Fleet has been reduced from 112 ships to 14.
Meanwhile, Dukat is settling into his new(old) role of station commander. Their side of the war is far more encouraging, and he’s looking forward to the Dominion taking over Earth. Weyoun has just received word from Kira that Bajorans are starting to come back to the station and civilian commerce is flourashing again. Damar squishes this by announcing a doubling of security, because he seems the kind of person to be annoyed by… pretty much everything about Weyoun, honestly. Kira asks Weyoun, in the ‘spirit of friendship’ if the Bajoran security forces can be reinstated. If this is indicative of how things have gone over the last several months, Kira has been taking every opportunity to drive a wedge between Weyoun and Dukat, if only for sport. As a last favor, Weyoun asks Kira to convey word of how hard he’s trying to be friends with the Bajorans back to Odo. Once he commands Damar to leave, he and Dukat discuss the attempts to dismantle the minefield, but efforts are hindered by the replicating nature of the mines. You may, at this point, ask yourself how the mines manage to keep themselves replentished buy Voyager has a rationing system for its replicators, and the answer is ‘bite me.’
Quark is attempting to tend bar, and remains annoyed that the Jem’Hadar neither eat, drink, gamble, or… holosuite. Nearby, Kira and Odo discuss realpolitik. The Dominion has to place nice with Bajor and respect the treaty if they expect any of the other Alpha quadrant powers to sign on voluntarily. Jem’Hadar aside, Quark is in a fairly good mood. From his perspective, the Occupation isn’t so bad. And while Kira’s still bitter, he’s right. No slave labor, no ghetto fences, no starvation. It’s a little surprising, but there it is. Kira’s rhetorical mic-drop is about the lack of Bajoran security .
Sisko’s being assigned to starbase, and pulled off the Defiant. We don’t know why, and Sisko still hasn’t quite told Joseph Sisko that Jake’s still on the station. Sisko’s dad remains an old hippie, insulated by the Federation and wondering how war works. Cut to Jake, embedded reporter, trying to get an interview with Weyoun. Weyoun doesn’t like Jake’s anti-Dominion bias, and hasn’t been sending any of his report. The Dominion is not much for Freedom of the Press. In order to agree to send out the briefs, Jake will have to commit to some changes in tone.
Admiral Ross believes Starfleet has a line on the Dominion’s Ketracel White factory in the Alpha quadrant, and Ross reveals the reason he pulled Sisko off the Defiant. Since the Jem’Hadar can sense the cloak anyway, they’re trying a different method of infiltration – Starfleet has gotten that captured Jem’Hadar ship up and running, and Sisko, the Federation’s foremost expert in attack craft command by this point, is getting it. After two weeks of training and shakedown, the crew are almost used to the controls. As it’s a Jem’Hadar craft, there are no chairs, no replicators (I guess the Vorta carry their own supplies, if they travel) and no infirmary. Bashir’s set up in his quarters. Lacks aside, everyone’s feeling chipper about the new ship, and Garak’s even joining in. As they head underway, it seems the Jem’Hadar attack craft barely even have inertial dampers.
Dukat is finally settled in enough to turn up the flirting-with-Kira dial. When she realizes, she goes for the door, but it doesn’t even open for her. We could hope that she just didn’t quite get close enough for the sensor to trigger, but it’s also quite possible that Dukat liked the door because he is a creeeeeeep. She berates him again for selling Cardassia out to the Dominion, but he’s still so proud of Making Cardassia Strong Again. But he’s just as clearly holding onto his cheerful demeanor by his fingernails, and is pretty much ready to snap.
The Viewer headset that the Dominion use, that lets the commander look ‘through’ the walls and keeps everyone else in the dark, causes headaches in humans. Not surprising. Put a screen that close to your face and tell one eye to look at it while the other eye looks elsewhere and the brain will struggle to keep up. The Vorta and the Jem’hadar were probably designed for it, but Garak suggests wearing one as well, since Dukat was wearing one without any ill effects. It’s about now that they’re attacked by the USS Centaur, and its first salvo knocked out communications. Since they can’t tell Captain Charles Reynolds they’re a friendly, they make a break for the border, and Charlie follows after them. Sisko has to return fire, but very carefully. The Centaur runs away when it detects three Jem’Hadar ships, but Sisko can’t help out with this one, they have a war-winning mission to go for.
Kira and Odo converse again, this time about Odo being bored because he’s lacking a security force. Kira reminds him that he’s literally Weyoun’s god, and can demand one. So we see Weyoun distributing some Ketracel White to his soldiers, and Dukat watching the exercise of control, and drawing very Cadrassian conclusions. When Odo asks for his security force, Weyoun capitulates immediately, and begs only a small favor in return – join the station ruling council. Kira doesn’t like it, so it would seem that in the game of political wedges, Weyoun may have scored a palpable hit for himself. Odo hopes that Kira will help keep him on the right path, but she’s not sanguine.
At the Ketracel facility, Garak watches the exchange ahead of them. Jem’Hadar ships beam down empty canisters and get full ones. O’Brien is finalizing their surprise – a huge explosive canister. They set the detonater as tight as they can, to minimize the chances of detection, but the facility puts up a shield anway With the wormhole closed, it’s certainly good policy to scan all incoming packages for sabotage, particularly if you have genetically engineered minions who lack the imagination to get bored. Though O’Brien doubts they found the bomb so quickly, the facility orders Sisko’s craft to stand by. While they wait, Sisko tells everyone to start calculating so that they’re moving the instant the generator gets destroyed in the explosion, but not so early that they slam into the security field like a bug on a windshield. Dax starts the calculations, but Bashir just rattles off the answer. They set an autopilot, but the bomb goes off early, somehow not squishing the Bounty II in the explosion regardless. Well, not quite. They do take some damage, so I suppose the stakes weren’t entirely false. They’re on auxiliary life support, and don’t have warp. It’ll only take them 17 years to get home, though. Haven’t I kept saying this show should be more like Voyager?