In which Quark, Bashir, and Worf all agree that Jadzia is something special.
Quark is having his regular Ferengi-and-Jadzia-only Tongo game, and Worf has learned to appreciate, if not Tongo, than the way Jadzia plays it. Quark, however, is on a 206-game winning streak, so Worf and O’Brien wager bottles of alcohol on it, and Quark does what we can only assume is the equivalent of topping four Aces with a royal flush and winning a single malt scotch for O’Brien. Speaking of which… Worf knows how to make Jadzia feel better after her loss, and they make quite an adorable couple, particularly with their paired vanities.
Kira wakes them up early to start a recovery attempt for a covert Cardassian operative named Lasaran. He’s a critical asset, but since the Defiant is gone, all they have is the runabout Shenandoah. On the trip, they discuss honeymoon ideas. Worf’s idea is hiking across the Vulcan desert known as the Forge during Vulcan summer, or mountain climbing on Andoria. Jadzia has a much better idea – not pushing the limits of humanoid endurance in any way other than, probably, sexually. She’s picked out Casperia Prime, the vacation capital of the Hovarian Cluster: “We’re not Risa, but we try harder.” Also, he’s learning to recognize humor. He also points out that over three hundred years of life, a person can get set in their ways, and they’re already well up on their bickering.
Miles is late for his holo-date with Bashir playing British Spy Novel, because he’s studying Tongo. He played once, and Quark’s winning streak clearly has him bothered. Although either Bashir is lying about not knowing how to play, the rules are exceptionally simple, or the font size on that PADD is practically nonexistent.
Worf and Jadzia make it to the designated coordinates, and have erceived a highly encrypted message. Their contact has information to provide on the Founders and their force disposition, in exchange for immediate extraction. Immediate. He’s got a plan already, but it requires them to go deep into Dominion/Cardassian space, land a shuttle, and extract him in three days time, with a commitment before the call ends. Clearly, they agree.
O’Brien and Bashir continue to play Tongo, and Miles is clearly taking the ‘slow and steady’ approach. Bashir already knows the rules far better than O’Brien. Tiringly better, apparently. O’Brien is fixated on beating Quark for the same reason that he plays darts with Julian, white-water kayaks, or is an engineer- the challenge. O’Brien is, as a character, an enduring testament to the indomitable human spirit – in a world of supermen and prodigies, he endures. Also, he drafts Bashir to be the one to beat Quark. The B-plot of this episode is Rocky, and he sure knows how to motivate his new Balboa.
Worf and Jadzia drop out of warp right next to an asteroid field. They have to go through it to evade the sensor net, and do so successfully. Next, they come under scan from the surface, but manage to evade that too, raising all sorts of questions about the scanning capabilities of this Dominion base. They have to land a goodly distance away, unfortunately, and have two days to reach the rendezvous point – 10 kilometers per day through thick alien jungle. Worf’s perfect idea of a honeymoon. One of the things they can do is use their tricorders to hack into the sensor net, masking their life signs. This either ties up the tricorder or will be undone if they start sending out active scans, so from here on they’re limited to old-fashioned orienteering.
Bashir is not welcome in Quark’s tongo game. Apparently, computers can’t master the game, so after insistence and the agreement from the rest of the players that, more or less, money is money and Bashir’s been warned, they let him play, and he makes it to the final showdown with Quark, at which point Quark starts throwing in the bartender patter, clearly throwing Bashir off his game, by commiserating over Jadzia’s marriage. I take it back, incidentally. What Quark had before wasn’t a royal flush – what he has now is. At least Bashir did well enough to be invited back.
Now that the round is over, Miles comes in to remind Bashir that he’s been played and beaten as much above the board as on it. Or the wheel. Whatever. I suppose it’s as much a grounding scene, to establish that Bashir still has foibles like his boyish naivete.
Worf and Jadzia hack their way through a jungle that clearly includes terrestrial snakes. Worf’s mek’leth makes a pretty decent machete, and at night they joke about how this is, in fact, Worf’s perfect idea of a honeymoon, except for the cold, and Worf recounts his childhood camping excursions. Also, the wild animal calls are getting closer to their position. Worf is a good sound-tracker, and the two of them manage to hide just before a Jem’hadar patrol reaches their clearing. They take out the patrol, but Jadzia gets shot in the side. No immediate damage, but recall that Jem’hadar particle beam weapons somehow have anticoagulant properties, so the bleeding won’t stop with what they have in their field kit. The mission must continue, however, so sayeth Jadzia.
By next day, they’re still 12 kilometers out with only 20 hours to go. Worf blames himself and his jokiness for Jadzia’s injury and the jeopardy the mission is now in. Here ends his attempt to mold himself more towards Jadzia’s personality, at least when it comes to dangerous jungle missions. Of course, judging by how fast she’s losing blood, it may be too late anyway. They’re still three kilometers out and Jadzia looks like a walking corpse. Actually, scratch ‘walking.’
Worf talks about how important it is to complete the mission. Guess which of them he’s trying to convince, that he’ll be back and able to get her to the runabout’s stasis pod (they have those, as it turns out) in time to save her life. As he goes on, though, we get a heart-pumping sound, and he turns back to march Jadzia home. She’ll make it, because Bashir is a lot more focused during surgery than during Tongo. Sisko’s not pleased that they failed the mission, but this episode was always going to be about Worf learning what it means to be married. Worf’s going to get another reprimand and probably not be offered solo command. After all, we know what Starfleet has determined is a necessary prequisite of command is. Also, he doesn’t get to ever be on a mission with Jadzia on his own. Which really should have been the policy to begin with. But as a man and a widower, Benjamin totally agrees.