Deep Space Nine: s07 e22 – Tacking into the Wind


Not really, no

Until it’s end, I was all set too regard this episode as a continuation of last week’s, all middles and no progressions, and once more dissatisfying, but we’re so close to the end that the writers had to start producing a rabbit or two from the hat if the whole thing is going to work out.

So in two of the three strands that followed on from last week (there was nothing of Kai Wynn or the blinded Gul Dukat this time round) we were given turning points, serious turning points, resolving certain situations that threatened to derail the ongoing story: we moved decisively forward.

To take the one in-process strand first, this was Bashir and O’Brien’s personal quest to find a cure for Odo. Julian’s getting nowhere, and he’s getting snappy with it, sounding off at his best friend who’s trying to suggest getting to Section 31 through more orthodox channels. The Doctor rejects this, pointing out the cold logic of how Section 31 operates, that they would simply hit DS9 and destroy Julian’s work to date. Which leads the not-normally-this-devious Chief to suggest luring a Section 31-ite by a fake message that they have found a cure, and capturing him in order to get the info they want.

This one sounds a bit too simplistic so I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out: given Section 31’s past appearances, there’s a massive risk of the outcome failing the credibility test.

Of the two other strands, the simpler of them related to Gowron’s aggressive and stupid strategies, wasting men and ships – the only ships that can withstand the Breen energy-draining weapon – in what Worf regards as a selfish plan to discredit General Martok and prevent him from becoming a rival for the position of Chancellor.

Worf’s counter to this is to persuade Martok to challenge Gowron for the Chancellorship, a thing the Good Soldier, loyal to the Empire, will not do, and especially not in the middle of War. With Martok cutting off even discussion of this, Worf discusses his frustration with Ezri, who’s surprised to learn that she is a member of the House of Martok. Ezri’s loath to express her opinion since it’s not exactly flattering, but when pressed, she tells Worf that the Klingon Empire is dying, clinging to centuries old notions of honour and duty yet tolerating a succession of leaders who are corrupt and unworthy.

It’s a crucial intervention. Gowron lays out another suicidal mission for Martok, who, despite arguing against it, obeys his Chancellor. But not Worf: he insults Gowron as petty and without honour. It is a Challenge, and a brief but intense duel with Bat’leths ends with Worf, thrown, disarmed and semi-stunned, about to be executed, but striking upwards with a shard to Bat’leth, with which he kills Gowron.

For a moment there, at Martok’s acclaim, Worf is Chancellor, but that giddy development is not to be. Worf rejects the honour, and instead places the robe around Martok’s shoulders. The Empire has a new Chancellor: well, well, well. Suddenly, things in one quarter change, and hope arises.

Elsewhere, Kira is whipping the Cardassian rebellion into an effective terrorist force, enough that it’s seriously pissing off the Female Changeling, who’s rattled enough she tells Weyoun9 to his face that if only the cloning facilities still existed, she’d have him killed and replaced by Weyoun10, which doesn’t got down well with the hyper-loyal Vorta – do I detect?…

But Kira’s still objectionable to the sight of Resad, whose distrust of her is insurmountable. He’s resistant to her instructions because they come from her, is convinced her primary intention is to just go around killing Cardassians and basically threatens to kill her. Garak warns Kira that Resad won’t wait until after the War, that she’ll have to kill him first.

In order to help the Federation develop a defence against the Breen weapon, Kira leads a raid to capture such a device. The team is unjustifiably top heavy, consisting of her, Garak, Odo, Resad and Demar: fail and the entire top echelon is wiped out. And Odo is becoming the weak link: too much shapeshifting has accelerated the spread of the morphogenetic disease. He’s keeping up appearances before Kira, who knows anyway and connives at the ‘deception’ because she knows how important his dignity is to the Changeling she loves.

The team infiltrates a Jem’Hadar ship having the Breen weapon installed by having Kira pose as their prisoner (with Odo as her handcuffs). Odo impersonates the Female Changeling to get hold of an upgraded plasma weapon that Garak uses to kill the bridge crew. Unfortunately, the installation isn’t complete. Resad wants to cut and run, but Kira demands patience and nerve. It’s tense as all get out, and ultimately Resad breaks. He has the plasma rifle on Kira, Garak a pistol on him and Demar a pistol on both. It’s a stand-off which turns on Demar, whose character arc has been a carefully plotted inversion of Dukat.

This is Gul Demar, who counts Resad as a friend, who gives him his support. This is Demat, whose wife and children have been found in hiding by the Dominion, and killed. This is Demar who fulminated against a regime that can kill innocent women and children, and who is reminded by Kira of the Cardassian Occupancy of Bajor…

And this is Demar who fires his pistol, and shoots down Resad. This close to the end there is no other course for the story to follow if we are to finish in only three more episodes, even if one is a double. But it is the reason that is significant. Demar executes Resad because he is too tied to the Cardassian Empire of the past, an Empire that cannot, and will not return. A turning point. Another rise towards hope.

But at what cost, as Odo begins to flake out far worse than anything we’ve seen from the Female Changeling. Is this all coming too late for him? For this, we need to wait until next week…

Deep Space Nine: s07 e21 – When It Rains…


Nope, still don’t like the hairdo

I don’t know about anyone else but I found this episode very disappointing, and slow.

It’s seemingly structured around the Cardassian Rebellion being led by Gul Demar, and its need for sound tactical advice in guerilla warfare if it is to have any impact. The in-house expert on  that is Colonel Kira, who has been really underused in this final series. Kira, naturally, doesn’t want to do it but accepts her duty, and adds Odo and Garak to her team, so, not really provocative on every level at all. As part of the amelioration of their hosts’ feelings, she gets into a Starfleet uniform and Odo changes his kit to how he used to look when DS9 was Terak Nor. Not that it makes much difference: Demar is pragmatic enough to accept aid from someone he no longer has the luxury of hating, though his best mate, Resad, is far less flexible (can you spell troublemaker?)

But though this was the seeming base for the episode, it was ultimately one of many strands, each of which were seen in development without any sense of progression. All questions and no answers, pieces being moved around the board with no sense of satisfaction. It struck me early on just how slow things were moving in just getting Kira’s team off the station, but this was to be the characteristic of the entire episode.

This broke down into four distinct strands, Kira’s Mob included. Odo leaves behind a blob of himself so that Dashir can study its morphogenetic matrix and try to adapt it to the growing of artificial organs etc., but instead the good Doctor discovers that Odo has the morphogenetic plague that’s affecting the Founders. With the encouragement of Chief O’Brien, he fights his way through bureaucracy to try to get a handle on finding a cure, only to discover that instead of Odo being infected when he linked with the Female Changeling a year ago, he was actually infected three years ago, during the Starfleet medical Julian was seeking, and which has been faked when he received it. The explanation is clear: Section 31. Odo has been infected to lead to genocide. So if Section 31 has the plague, it must also have the cure. Bashir and O’Brien dedicate themselves to secretly extracting it.

Meanwhile, on Bajor (this was very much of a meanwhile… episode), the villains fall out. Kai Wynn won’t let Dukat shag her any more now she knows he’s Dukat. It’s slow going with the evil book, the Costa Moja, and when Dukat decides to speed up the process by reading it himself, he’s Pah-Wraithed into blindness, giving Wynn the excuse she wants to rather smugly have him booted out onto the streets: a blind beggar should be able to earn enough for food. Maybe even shelter. When thieves fall out, honest men may prosper, as they say.

And meanwhile, on DS9, Chancellor Gowron arrives to bestow upon General Martok the highest Order the Klingon Empire can give, then deprive him of his command and take over personally. You don’t need a degree in reading body language to tell that Martok and Worf do not think this is A Very Good Thing, though the former accepts his diminishedrole ith proper honour andloyalty to the Empire, and indeed it doesn’t look that way. Gowron’s idea is not to act defensively, hold the border, maintain the line against an enemy who outnumbers you twenty to one, but rather to barrel in, all guns blazing, give the bastards a good kicking, and claim all the honour for the Klingons. Alone.

Throw in a microstrand where Julian asks Ezri why she’s been avoiding him lately, then cuts off her explanation because his genetically enhanced intelligence jumps to the wrong conclusion about her shagging Worf and that’s it.

And the problem is, it’s all middles. It’s all set-up. On one level you might call it sophisticated story-telling, mirroring the processes of real life, the flow and complexity of war, where not everything gets wrapped up in a neat little 45 minute bundle, but come on, this is Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, not something that had this approach built in from the start, and after 170 episodes, you can’t change horses in midstream like that, and you can’t do it effectively with writers who are trained to 45 minute solutions, not without the gears clunking.

It made the episode feel like a thirty mile stretch of a hundred mile journey. You’ve moved onwards, but you’ve got nowhere. I hope there’s more solid ground in the next one.

Deep Space Nine: s05 e14/15: In Purgatory’s Shadow/By Inferno’s Light


Band of Brothers

Though we’re well into the block of DS9 episodes I have previously seen, I have to confess I have no recollection of this unexpected mid-season two-parter. Indeed, as this extended story is such a massive game-changer, moving the Dominion War out of its Phoney War stage and into a formal shooting match, there were times when I wondered if my memories were even more scanty, and that this was going to lead to the (temporary) abandonment of the station now, and not at season end.

But on this I was wrong, and happily wrong. It is, nonetheless, a foreshadowing of the inevitable to come, as betrayal follows betrayal, and the entire basis of the series shifts inexorably. To think that this all begins with a typically trivial open to the first part, as Odo reluctantly abandons his bed and reinstals all his shape-shifting gear in his quarters, under some one-sided joshing about romance from the Major, until Kira is summoned to the bridge over a mystery transmission from the Gamma quadrant.

It’s in a highly secret Cardassian code known only to two people, Garak and his mentor/unacknowledged father, Enabran Tain, and it’s a cry for help. Garak persuades Sisko to allow him a runabout, and the unlikely command of Worf (there’s an odd couple for you) to investigate for potential survivors of the disastrous Gamma Quadrant battle. All it leads to is overwhelming Jem’hadar odds and an asteroid internment camp with a motley group of prisoners.

These include Tain, near death from his heart, Klingon General Martok, a Romulan female, a robotic Breen. Oh yes, and Doctor Bashir.

This didn’t come as the surprise it ought to as my regular consultation of Memory Alpha had already revealed that our Bashir had been replaced by a Changeling four weeks ago, and the one we’ve seen over the last couple of episodes had been the wrong one, which was a shame. Meanwhile, the Changeling Bashir is still unsuspected on DS9, where things have suddenly gone tits-up.

Federation listening posts inside the Gamma Quadrant are going out one by one. A Jem’hadar fleet is on the move towards the Wormhole. Sisko puts the station on battle alert and a Federation fleet is on its way. The danger is so great, Sisko decides to take the ultimate fallback option: seal the Wormhole, even if Worf and Garak are trapped on the other side.

But someone sabotages the super-scientific rays that will do that. instead, the Wormhole is widened and stabilised so that it can now never be closed. And a Dominion fleet emerges, ready to overwhelm D9. End of part 1.

But they don’t attack. Instead, they move off towards Cardassian space, with Gul Dukat following. And here’s where the bomb drops. Cardassia has a new leader. He’s been negotiating with the Dominion for months. Cardassia has joined the Dominion. It will become strong again, great again. It will wipe out the Klingons. It will take back what it used to have. Bajor is not mentioned in this. But the new Cardassia leader, Dukat, promises Sisko that he is coming for Deep Space Nine.

So we switch backwards and forwards between the two halves of this story. On the internment camp asteroid, Worf distracts by winning gladiatorial fight after fight, his honour refusing to allow himself to yield. Garak fights another fight, against his claustrophobia, in a tiny, dark space, changing relays by hannd to contact the runabout and transport out.

At DS9, forces build. Chancellor Gowron brings a wounded Klingon fleet to the fight, and reactivates the Accords he previously broke. A Romulan fleet comes to stand by the Federation and the Klingons. A Dominion/Cardassian fleet approaches. Everyone is ready for the mother of all battles, but no-one can find the enemy. And Changeling-Bashir has stolen a runabout and is heading for Bajor’s sun with a bomb that, if detonated within the sun, will send it supernova, wiping out the entire system, DS9 and three spacefleets.

At this critical moment, a priority one message comes from the Gamma Quadrant from Bashir. Sisko, already aware that there’s a Changeling on board DS9, after Changeling-Bashir has, cunningly and mis-directingly, proposed this, immediately susses things out and sends the Defiant, under Kira and Dax, to destroy the runabout. Which, after risking going to warp inside a solar system, they succeed in doing. The day is saved.

The only immediate effect is the installation of a permanent Klingon military force on the station, under the command of General Martok, as recommended by Worf. Everyone’s back, everyone’s back to normal. But it’s a new normal, are set normal, that will now prevail until the end of Deep Space Nine. I very much look forward to it.

I’ve left out a lot of what happens. The mark of a well-written story is that the over-arching story accommodates several smaller, more personal tales, both absorbing and showcasing hese within its major structure, in perfect balance. Worf’s fights. Garak’s need for Tan’s acceptance and his subsequent confrontation with his fears. Zia’s choice between her father and Garak, between two sides at war. All these things are handled with nuance and conviction. If you want to call these a B story, you’d be wrong, because they are integrated within the A story, so that all this pair of episodes is an A story, and indeed an A+ story, but they are worthy of the A story: nothing falls short here.

So the ground rules change. And I look forward to next week’s episode most fervently.

Deep Space Nine: s05 e01 – Apocalypse Rising


Would you buy a used Bat’leth from these Klingons?

Wow! That was… underwhelming.

Having ended season 4 on a cliffhanger that exposed Klingon Empire Chancellor Gowron as a Changeling, intent on fomenting war in the Alpha Quadrant and weakening the sector in anticipation of a Dominion Invasion, Deep Space Nine set to tackling the new reality under which we were all going to live by disposing of it in the opening episode. I rather expected more.

Actually, I had mistakenly discovered a few things about the outcome of this development ahead of time, so for once I was aware of the background to this decision, which was to get rid of the Klingons as a menace in general, to enable the series to get back to its primary preoccupation with the Cardassians and the Empire (the Klingons are so Original Series). But the speed with which the baby was thrown out with the bathwater was disappointing, and good in itself as this episode may have been, the naked desire to get rid of an unwanted plot made it a very unsuccessful season opener, and cast an unwanted shadow back over a lot of season 4, by declaring the Klingon development to be a false direction.

In terms of plot, this was relatively straightforward. Sisko and Dax return from Starfleet HQ with the former ordered to infiltrate the Klingon Empire and expose Gowron. In order to do so, Sisko has himself, Chief O’Brien and Odo transformed into Klingons (a very good make-up job for which the episode won awards) and, under training from Worf in how to think, act and behave like a Klingon, get delivered by Gul Dukat in his captured Warbird to Ty’Gokor, the military HQ.

There, they will plant four devices that will create a radioactive field inside which any Changeling will revert to its natural gelatinous state. Unfortunately, they are identified, captured and their equipment destroyed by Gowron’s second-in-command, General Martok, who, it appears, already suspects Gowron. Martok frees them to expose Gowron/Shapeshifter by killing him…

The other aspect of the episode is the Redemption of Odo. Having been changed into a solid, Odo has experienced a crisis of confidence. He’s lost who he is, as well as what he does, and with it all commitment to his duty. He’s taken to eating and drinking like a duck to water, after some initial, unportrayed disgust at the whole idea, but he’s missing some of the point as he’d rather listen to the bubbles in what looks like a glass of lager than actually drink it, silly sausage.

Odo thinks of himself as dead weight. Because he can’t do what he used to do, he believes he can do nothing. He’s reluctant to join the mission, nervous and self-effacing on it (Worf calls him out on this during Be-a-Klingon training and it’s a really clever piece of writing).

But, in the tradition of such things, it is Odo who spots the flaw. Worf challenges Gowron to a duel and the Chancellor’s honour requires him to fight, his bodyguard ordered not to intervene. Martok has already refused to make an honourable challenge, wanting the Federation team to simply shoot Gowron down. Odo’s people have no concept of personal honour…

So it is that Odo realises that the Changeling is not Gowron but Martok, who is slain. Sisko’s band are thanked, with typical reluctance, though not Worf who is merely threatened, and the War gets switched off, rather offstage.Odo’s redemption is completed when, back in the surgery and being restored to his original form, Bashir volunteers to give the Constable any face he wants but he prefers to have his old one back.

Press the reset button…

The main problem with this episode is that it would have been perfectly fine anywhere from, say, four to six episodes in, ending a phase during which the Klingon threat was a palpable presence. Up front, and in my case coming only a week since the revelation about Gowron (a clever misdirection by the Great Link), it was a throwaway, too openly getting rid of a storyline seen as an error and an embarrassment. Must do better next week: it is, after all, the 100th episode.

Deep Space Nine: s04 e26 – Broken Link


A rock and a hard place

And thus another season comes to rest, with what, for most of its length, seemed an oddly personal tale, bereft of any status quo-shifting cliffhanger. In that assumption, I was to be wrong, yet again, setting things up nicely for season 5 (otherwise known as next Tuesday).

There were two completely contrasting elements that topped and tailed this story. First, we have Odo being summoned, in the open, to Garak’s shop for thesole purpose of being set up with the lovely Aroya, proprietress of the new Bajoran restaurant, who sees Odo patrol by at 9.37 precisely, every day, and would like him to come inside (that is a considered, not unfortunate, choice of words). Odo, being a shapeshifter, blows her off, leading to some righteous berating from Garak, because the fair Aroya, being played by Jill Jacobson, is an absolute doll.

Then, after the credits, the senior staff gather to listen to a sabre-rattling message from Chancellor Gowron, threatening the annexation of the Archanis sector. These are threatening times, though Archanis is far from DS9 and little to be done.

In between these little tasters, Odo collapses in agony after fits, and is taken to the infirmary. The diagnosis is simple though a cure is anything but: Odo’s changeling body is destabilising, its molecular density both fluctuating and diminishing. he is losing the ability to shapeshift, to maintain a cohesive shape as a solid. It doesn’t take long to realise that the Federation has no cure, and that only the Founders may be able to help.

The desperately weakened Odo, who is clearly dying, is taken on the Defiant into the Gamma Quadrant, where a beacon broadcasts an appeal for help that brings the Female Changeling, with a Jem’Hadar guard. Odo must become part of the Great Link if his abilities are to be restored. But privately she tells Odo that he is to be judged. A full season ago, in ‘The Adversary’, the finale to season 3, Odo broke the Changeling’s most fundamental law: he killed another Changeling, did harm to him. No Changeling has ever harmed another before. Odo, who has spent his life enforcing justice, insists he must undergo justice.

With Sisko and Bashir as completely passive observers, Odo liquefies and joins the Great Link. It is massive: an entire planetary surface covered by an apparent ocean, with nothing but a single, tiny, rock upthrust on which the two humans wait.

Above, Garak tries to take action. He’s on the mission to keep Odo’s mind active with innuendo about his ‘past’ as a spy and assassin, but his own motive is to seek information as to potential Cardassian survivors of the battle earlier in the season. He is told that they are dead, that he is dead, the entire Cardassian Empire is dead, for attacking the Founders. His response is a abotage attack, intending to fire on and destroy the entire Founders’ planet, and all the Founders with it, ending the threat to the Alpha Quadrant decisively. True, Sisko, Bashir and Odo will also be killed, and the Jem’Hadar will slaughter everyone on the Defiant, including Garak, but their lives are a small price to pay for the security of a whole Quadrant.

It’s a familiar moral quandary, here given little debate and all of it by Garak as he and Worf engage in combat (Worf’s only response in rejection is that he is a warrior, and this is only murder. Garak finds him a great disappointment.) Actually, I was on Garak’s side here: sometimes, sacrifice is worth making.

The outcome of the judgement is unexpected. Odo is returned, naked and alive, with hairy arms and legs. He has been stripped of his shapeshifting abilities. he is now a solid, a human. He is one of them. Only his face remains unchanged, as a reminder of what he was, what he’s lost. And Odo feels that loss, keenly, from the need to wear a uniform now, whose wool itches, the feeling of hunger for the first time, and a reappearance by Aroya, offering… well, we all know what it is she’s offering, and Odo seems a touch more responsive.

(Aroya was intended to be a season 5 recurring character, as Odo’s love-interest, but between seasons it was decided that she wasn’t suitable for him, so this was Ms Jacobson’s only appearance. A great shame: as I said, she was gorgeous.)

For Odo, it is like being in prison (which is Garak’s fate for the next six months). He is no longer what he is meant to be. He cannot change shape. He is in the prison of a single, immutable form.

It’s a sober, serious episode, and there is much for Odo to learn in his new role, but there is still a sting in the tail to come.  There is another message from Gowron, this one giving the Federation ten days to get out of Dodge City, or rather the Arachnis system. It is a declaration of war in all but name, and DS9 goes on combat status.

But there is something more. Odo recalls flashes from the Great Link,things that were being concealed from him. One was an image of Gowron. This is not Gowron delivering this message. Gowron has been replaced, by a Changeling…

 

Deep Space Nine: s03 e03 – The House of Quark


It’s going to be one of *those* kind of marriages

Aye. Well. Mm.

I can’t say I didn’t expect an immediate return to an essentially trivial story – it was about Quark, he’s not there for the serious stuff – though there were elements about this episode that demonstrated that Deep Space Nine wasn’t going to immediately run away from what it had started over the last three episodes.

What was good was that the effect of the Dominion threat carried over in continuity. Quark’s bar is virtually empty due to the lack of people coming to the station whilst it’s under threat, and Keiko O’Brien has shut the station school down because the only pupils she has left are Jake and Nog.

That latter is the subplot, which I personally found more interesting, and certainly more serious than Quark’s shenanigans at the front of the house.

Let me explain, as briefly as I can. The last customer left in the bar is a drunken, penniless Klingon named Kovak, who pulls a knife on Quark, but who is too drunk to stand and falls on his own knife, killing himself. Quark, seeing notoriety as a way of attracting morbid – but money-spending – customers, claims to have killed Koval in self-defence, in personal combat. Kovak, it transpires, was Head of a Klingon House.

Shortly after, Quark is ambushed by D’Gor, Kovak’s brother. He quickly scares the truth out of Quark but insists he maintain the lie since it is important that Kovak should have died an honourable death. Quark’s next visitor is Grilka, Kovak’s widow. She also learns the truth, but she knocks him out and kidnaps him back to Kronos, where the first thing she does once Quark is revived is to marry him.

This move is to try to preserve the House’s existence. Kovak left no male heir and, under Klingon custom, the House is to be dissolved. Were there ‘unusual circumstances’, a special dispensation might be obtained from the Council to allow Grilka to lead the House, but an honourable death in personal combat.

Should the House be dissolved, its lands, properties etc. shall go to Kovak’s brother, D’Gor, who has been a sworn enemy for many years and is the House’s principal creditor, Kovak having been a wastrel. By marrying Kovak’s killer, Grilka can save the House, even if it has to be led by a short, cowardly, stinking Ferenghi. It becomes the House of Quark.

D’Gor then throws a spanner into the wors by producing the only witness to the truth of Kovak’s death, Quark’s brother, Rom.

Our comic relief Ferenghi does have some talents however, especially when it comes to money, and it doesn’t take long to establish that D’Gor has been waging a most UnKlingon-like economic war of the House of Kovak, essentially defrauding it into its current parlous state. Unfortunately, he can’t get the Council to see this and the accusation enables D’Gor to challenge Quark to personal combat.

Needless to say, Quark wishes to have it away upon his toes in dead of night, and Grilka contemptuously washes her hands of him. Nevertheless, he turns up on time, complete with ba’tleth. It’s Quark’s story, he’s going to be the hero of it, what do you expect? But what he does is to throw his weapon away and offer himself defencelessly to D’Rog. It won’t be a duel, but an execution, a ridiculously one-sided personal combat rendered completely without honour by Quark taking the gamble of stripping it down to what it truly is. It’s not D’Gor but the Council that he’s out to con, and when D’Gor takes the bait and raises his ba’tleth, the Council rises in disgust at it, and he is ostracised.

Chancellor Gowron recognises the ‘unusual circumstances’ and gives the House to Grilka, who promptly thanks Quark by giving him his requested divorce – and a serious snog as soon as he’s no longer her husband, a sight I shall be spending much of the next week trying to scrub from my mind. Actually, she did kiss him as the conclusion to the wedding ceremony, but she did spit rather disgustedly after doing to, which made it a lot more acceptable.

In and of itself, the story was an interesting one, especially for its revelation of Klingon  social customs and mores, and Quark’s method of overcoming D’Gor was both ingenious and entirely logical, but – and this is my problem, not yours – come on, I mean, it’s Quark.

I don’t dislike Quark, but I do find him excessive. He’s a comic relief character who, at any given time, exists at a forty-five degree angle to everything about him. Because Armin Shimerman is in the cast, Quark is continually wedged into stories that have nothing to do with him, and to which he cannot contribute anything except a derailment of the plot. That means that putting him at the centre of a story that’s meant to be in any way serious gives the story a mountain to climb to gain any credibility. Quark is a silly and trivial character who makes everything around him silly and trivial by association.

Much more important to me was the subplot. Keiko had closed the school down due to  circumstances beyond her control, which left her with nothing to do and feeling that intently. She was putting a very brace face on it, but Miles O’Brien knew, and it hurt him deeply that the woman he loved was unhappy.

Everyone sympathised and there were some good and decent lines that I took to heart, the more so for their being kept very simple, but I was unhappy with the solution,which was to send Keiko back to her profession/vocation as a botanist, on a Bajoran expedition that would be away for six months. So that’s the last we’ll see of Rosalind Chao this season.

It seemed like a counter-intuitive approach to resolving an issue that had the potential to undermine an otherwise very happy marriage – and the Chief is the only member of the cast who is married, or who is in a relationship at all (I am not counting Major Kira’s occasional shags with Vedek Bariel unless and until we learn that last season’s escapade hasn’t hindered their sexual relationship). Instead of a solution, it seemed more like a cheap way of writing out a character they had no real idea how to serve.

Still, considering the episode as a whole, it was well-constructed and performed, and Mary Kay Adams gave it plenty of wellie as Grilka, but it was the evidence that the incipient Dominion War was going to have an ongoing effect that I most welcomed. May this continue.