In which the war goes on, the mantle gets passed, and Odo becomes That Guy With The Girlfriend Nobody Likes
Sisko and the Defiant are still operating out of Starbase 375, making probes into Dominion territory. They’re trying to remain upbeat, and Nog is helping out by procuring brandy of questionable provenance. They’ve developed a little ritual – whenver they use up a phaser bank power cell, Sisko makes a speech about the undying spirit of the resolve of the Federation, and they stack it on the wall. Since they keep them in place until they’re drained, it seems likely, particularly on a dedicated warship, that the Defiant has redundant banks of power cells for each phaser array, to make sure that she never runs dry in the middle of a firefight. It’s also notable that if the phasers have their own dedicated power cells, it should in theory be possible, and even likely, for the phasers to fire when other systems, including main power, fail. Otherwise, why design them to run off disposable (or even rechargable) batteries to begin with?
Admiral Ross comes in on the tail end of the ceremony, to explain how the Dominion’s managed to stay one step ahead for so long – a hidden sensor array that can cover ship movements across five sectors, and Sisko’s tasked to come up with and execute an attack plan.
On Terok Nor, Rom and Kira watch Damar and carefully mark out his routine, narrating the life of a middling operative in a war machine. Damar lost a PADD containing a draft of a White Paper speculating that with the Ketracel White facility destroyed, the Jem’Hadar are a growing threat to Dominion plans. In it, he recommended poisoning all the Jem’Hadar. And Damar is drinking quite a lot, which isn’t going to help him in the inevitable bar fight against angry Jem’Hadar. Quark gets in the way but is thrown behind the bar before the shooting, knifing, and back-breaking really begins. It’s possible Rom doesn’t have the stomach for that sort of thing, but on the plus side, Damar is in big trouble with Dukat. Dukat is also in trouble with Weyoun, but the Vorta is a lot better at hiding it. Also, I don’t think Odo was on board with this plan.
The Dominion sensor array is able to detect cloaked ships from 2ly distant, so in order to sneak in, Sisko will take the Defiant through the Argolis cluster, a region of space full of proto-stars and intense gravitational shear forces that Dax says she can navigate. Ross is on-board for the mission to run as soon as possible.
Yeah, Odo, was definitely not on board with Kira’s plan. He thought he’d vetoed it at the last resistance meeting, but the other four members of the cell didn’t agree to him having veto power. Odo is operating from an intent to mitigate harm to Bajor. It’s hard to say what Kira’s actual goals are here – make the Dominion presence on the station fall apart? Actually, delaying the cooperation between the Cardassians and the Dominion long enough to postpone the disarmament of the minefield is probably a pretty good goal in itself. Things are about to get heated, in a bad way, when the female-aspect-changeling shows up to talk to Odo. She was trapped in the Alpha quadrant and wanted to check in with the only other Changeling in the quadrant, to try to get him back on the side of the Founders.
Ross’s adjutant just got a promotion to lead a tactical wing, and he’s tapped Sisko as her replacement. This takes place even before the Argolis mission, and Lt. Dax will take his place. Like most captains, he’s confident in his underlings, but not pleased to give up The Chair.
At the conclusion of a Ruling Council meeting, the Founder shows up to check in on the war effort and refocus Weyoun and Dukat on the minefield. Their antics form the basis of small talk between the Founder and Odo which ends up in his quarters and sculpture garden. They talk of his departure from the Link, and she uses this to try to work her way back into Odo’s sympathies by moderating the more-extreme positions the Founders displayed towards Odo before. By offering sympathy, she gets him to link with her, which gets the sinister music because changelings can share their thoughts through a link and it’s more likely that she can read his mind than that he can shield his against her.
Damar is now in Odo’s seat as Station security chief, and taking particular delight in gloating about it to Kira. When he tells her Odo was with the Founder, she goes to talk to him to find him a lot… calmer? The Founder seems to have set things up so that Kira (who is justifiably afraid that the Resistance cell will be crushed seems like the crazy jealous one because apparently this is a CW show now. Odo tries to reassure Kira that the Link doesn’t actually exchange information, where Kira reminds Odo that the Founder has been constantly deceptive. Odo counters that he would have sensed any hidden motive, conveniently forgetting that time they tricked him into trying to assassinate Gowron so that their real puppet, Changeling!Martok could take control of the empire. Odo is convinced he can talk her around to peace with the Federation, because he’s… infatuated. He does, at least, promise he won’t re-link with the Founder.
The Defiant is preparing for departure, and O’Brien is filling Nog in on some old naval traditions, including the ones that cause confusion when Sisko and Dax are both on the bridge. Sisko has to watch his ship head out on the mission without him.
Damar is celebrating an incipient promotion to Gul with some extremely expensive kanar. Quark plies him with more expensive booze to get him to spill the details of what’s going to get him the promotion, because he’s a good bartender and a great Ferengi. While this is going on, a resistance meeting discusses the possibility of exploiting more bad blood between the Cardassians and Jem’Hadar, and Odo’s still not all about it. Quark staggers in to tell them the new intel. Damar thinks he has a way though the minefield, by using the deflector array to isolate mines individually. To prevent this, the Resistance will need to coordinate an overload with Odo taking down the alarms on that particular console for diagnostics.
16 hours after depature, there’s no word from the Defiant about the success or failure of the mission, and Worf is getting antsy. Sisko calms him down, and when the call terminates Admiral Ross does his best to keep Sisko distracted from that with the larger strategic concerns. Sisko’s not doing well in the stay-at-home-and-worry position.
Odo is conversing with the Founder about the history of Changelings. They were solids once, aeons ago, long enough ago that a species with sufficient genetic mastery might have deliberately moved to a new mode of existence. Most of the time, they remain as part of the Link, although they can become trees or rocks or clouds. They don’t even have individuality most of the time, which again helps reinforce their fascist philosophies. In order to really convey the meaning of their existence, the Founder convinces Odo to link with him again… but wait, wasn’t he supposed to be doing something? Rom shows up at Kira’s with his tools hidden in a basket of fruit, and they go forward with the plan. Rom waits for go-time, but Kira finds that Odo isn’t in his office – he’s linking with the Founder and Kira, whose Operative skills are a bit rusty, doesn’t call off Rom before wasting a lot of time demanding Odo answer her. Damar distracts her from it just long enough for Rom to trip the alarm and get nabbed.
The Defiant has made it back to the starbase, reporting mission success, and Sisko arrives just in time to raise a glass to Dax as she starts her own row of phaser cells. Growing up without him. Meanwhile, Kira is suuuuuper pissed at Odo for not showing up because he was doinking the Founder. It seems like Odo is all the way off the reservation already.