Jan 3 2014 4:00pm

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “The Die is Cast”

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on The Die is Cast“The Die is Cast”
Written by Ronald D. Moore
Directed by David Livingston
Season 3, Episode 21
Production episode 40512-467
Original air date: May 1, 1995
Stardate: unknown

Station log: After a summary of “Improbable Cause,” we see Bashir having lunch with O’Brien, which has a lot less conversation than Bashir’s used to with Garak. They’re interrupted by the arrival of the Cardassian/Romulan fleet Tain mentioned last time, which all decloak at once. At first Sisko thinks they’re under attack, but then the fleet goes into the wormhole.

On the warbird, Tain and Garak share a drink and reminisce over the good old days, and even admit that they’ve missed each other. Tain also mentions that he may need to have Mila executed, as she knows too much, but Garak pleads the case for sparing her, though he does it in such a way that it doesn’t look like he’s pleading.

The verbal fencing is interrupted by Tain’s counterpart on the Romulan side, Colonel Lovok. They’ve re-cloaked and are headed to the Founders’ homeworld, and Odo is imprisoned. Tain assigns Garak with the task of interrogating Odo on the subject of his people.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on The Die is Cast

Tain sent a prerecorded message to the Central Command as well as the Romulan Senate, explaining what he’s doing, and saying that this will cripple the Dominion, though the Jem’Hadar will likely strike back, at least until the supply of their drug runs out, at which point they’ll be helpless. Admiral Toddman shows the message to Sisko and his senior staff (Kira, Dax, Eddington, Bashir, and O’Brien) in the wardroom. Toddman orders DS9 evacuated of nonessential personnel and the Defiant on standby.

Sisko, though, wants to rescue Odo, as his distress call from the runabout got through before he and Garak were captured, which indicates that he’s on one of the task force ships. Toddman orders the Defiant to stay put, but Sisko won’t just abandon Odo, and there are nine starships en route to Bajor to defend the station and the planet. Sisko makes it a volunteer mission, but of course, this being television and all, everyone goes along, despite the threat of court martial and the likelihood of being in a nasty firefight.

They go through the wormhole, deliberately ignoring a call from Toddman, and cloak, heading for the Omarian Nebula.

Lovok and Tain share the plan with Garak, which is pretty straightforward: they’ll decloak over the planet in the nebula and bombard the crap out of it. But they’re concerned about planetary defenses, and Tain wants Garak to interrogate Odo—with help from a prototype device that will neutralize his shapechanging. Lovok is angered to learn of this device, as the Tal Shiar wasn’t informed of it. Garak resists acceding at first, as he believes that the ever-thorough Odo won’t provide any new intelligence that he didn’t already put in his reports to Starfleet, but he agrees when Tain threatens to give the interrogation to Lovok instead. Garak knows that Tain won’t trust him until he does this.

The Defiant decloaks out of nowhere, leaving their asses hanging out in Dominion territory. Eddington reveals that he sabotaged the cloaking device at direct orders from Toddman; orders he couldn’t really refuse. O’Brien can fix it, now that he knows what the problem is, and Eddington gives Sisko his word that he won’t do anything else to hurt the mission. Sisko agrees to let him stay on duty, but warns him to stay out of O’Brien’s way.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on The Die is Cast

Garak shows up with a device and a bucket. It’s about time for Odo to regenerate, but before he goes for a swim, Garak has questions. He turns on the device, and Odo is devastated to learn that he can’t revert to his liquid state or change shape at all. Garak, meanwhile, is sure that there’s something Odo hasn’t shared with anyone about the Founders. He’s too private a person. But Odo’s not willing to talk, even as he cries out in agony, even as his skin dries and flakes, until finally he confesses to Garak that he truly wants to go home to his people and join the Great Link. Garak turns the device off, and Odo pours himself into the bucket. Garak tells Tain and Lovok that Odo didn’t break. Tain wants to kill Odo, but Garak says that killing a Bajoran Militia officer may not be the best idea, and Lovok agrees, saying that having a live changeling could be useful in case one or two escape the attack. Tain reluctantly agrees in the spirit of cooperation. Lovok, though, is suspicious of Garak’s interest in protecting Odo.

The fleet arrives, they read liquid life on the planet, and the bombardment starts. But after the first barrage, the lifesign readings don’t change at all—and then 150 Jem’Hadar ships appear in the nebula and attack. The Founders are long gone from the planet, leaving false sensor readings behind, and the Jem’Hadar were waiting all along. Garak channels Admiral Ackbar by announcing that it’s a trap.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on The Die is Cast

Garak rescues Odo, with some surprise help from Lovok—who reveals that he’s a changeling. The Founders learned of Tain’s plan and encouraged it so they could wipe out the Order and the Tal Shiar in one fell swoop. The Lovok changeling tells Odo it’s not too late to join the Great Link but—to Garak’s surprise—Odo refuses. Odo goes to the runabout, but Garak insists on rescuing Tain. But Tain is more concerned with figuring out what mistakes he made and how he can fix them than in being rescued, and Odo has to sock Garak in the face and drag him to the runabout in order to get him to leave.

O’Brien fixes the cloak, which is good, as the Defiant shows up just in time to rescue Odo and Garak before their runabout is destroyed. (When they think they’re going to die, Garak sincerely apologizes for getting Odo involved in this. Odo grumbles, “A little late,” but also admits that he understands Garak’s desire to go home.) O’Brien beams them aboard, the Defiant gets to kick some serious ass, and then they bugger off home while the Jem’Hadar focus their energies on kicking the Romulans’ and Cardassians’ asses.

Back at the station, Sisko reports to Toddman, who likens the massacre to the Battle of Wolf 359. Meanwhile, Odo goes to the tailor shop where Garak is cleaning up. Odo thanks Garak for not including Odo’s confession in his report, and he also tells Garak that they should have breakfast some time.

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Eddington sabotages the tetryon compositor (which apparently composes the tetryons?) in the cloaking device in order to get the Defiant to turn around and go home. O’Brien is able to fix it because he’s just that awesome, but it takes him more than three hours (which is what happens when you’re trying to fix the unique piece of equipment that’s on loan from the hostile foreign power, which means not a lot of spare parts on board). Meantime, the Obsidian Order has created a device that creates a quantum stasis field that keeps changelings from changing shape, which turns a changeling into a flaky mess after a while.

The Sisko is of Bajor: Sisko doesn’t hesitate to disobey orders and go on an incredibly dangerous mission to rescue one person (well, two, but his primary concern is Odo).

The slug in your belly: Dax does some very spiffy piloting in the nebula, darting and weaving around Jem’Hadar ships and their weapons fire.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on The Die is Cast

Preservation of matter and energy is for wimps: Odo seemed to pretty easily turn his back on the Founders in “The Search, Part II,” but he admits to Garak under torture that his fondest desire is to join his people in the Great Link. However, he knows he can’t, and when the Lovok changeling makes the offer, he respectfully refuses.

Plain, simple: Garak may be a bastard and a spy and a torturer, but living amongst the namby pambies of the Federation has obviously had an effect on him, as the person he used to be—the one he and Tain reminisce about over drinks—would never be so regretful over doing his job as an interrogator as he is when he tortures Odo.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on The Die is Cast

For Cardassia! Both Central Command and the Romulan Senate disavow any knowledge of the task force, but neither makes any move to stop them, figuring it’s worth seeing if they actually accomplish their goal. (The Federation actually feels the same way...)

Victory is life: In the Lovok changeling we see the first Founder to infiltrate an Alpha Quadrant power by replacing a high-powered personage. He’s far from the last.

Tough little ship: For the first time, we really get to see the Defiant kick ass and take names as they plow through a bunch of Jem’Hadar ships, rescue Odo and Garak, and make it home in one piece (despite Toddman and Eddington’s best efforts).

Keep your ears open: “If you pull a stunt like that again, I’ll court-martial you—or I’ll promote you. Either way you’ll be in a lot of trouble.”

Toddman letting Sisko off the hook for disobeying orders.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on The Die is Cast

Welcome aboard: Andrew J. Robinson as Garak and Paul Dooley as Tain are both back from “Improbable Cause.” Plus, Kenneth Marshall finally returns as Eddington, having fallen into a hole since “The Searchtwo-parter, Leland Orser plays Lovok, and Leon Russom, last seen as a different Starfleet admiral in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, plays Toddman.

Trivial matters: The title of the episode is a quote from a Julius Caesar speech made just before his troops crossed the Rubicon in 49 BCE, and Garak quotes Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar at the episode’s climax to Tain, which calls back nicely to Bashir and Garak’s Shakespeare discussion in “Improbable Cause.” Fittingly, the runabout that replaces the one destroyed in this episode will be called the Rubicon.

The Lovok changeling’s reference to the Dominion believing that the Klingon Empire and the Federation won’t be a threat for much longer is basically a preview of the fourth and fifth seasons of the show.

Toddman is the first admiral we’ve seen to be wearing colors other than those of command (gold in the original series, red in the Next Generation era), wearing security/operations colors instead (gold).

Sisko makes reference to the Gamma Quadrant communications array that went live in “Destiny.”

Given what will eventually be revealed about Eddington, his giving Sisko his word and the latter trusting it because of the uniform he wears is bitterly hilarious.

An alternate-timeline version of Lovok, who is not replaced by a changeling, appears in your humble rewatcher’s A Gutted World in Myriad Universes: Echoes and Refractions, although he is killed by a changeling who instead replaces another high-ranking Tal Shiar operative, Koval (whom we’ll meet in “Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges”).

The destruction of the Obsidian Order will have long-term consequences, which will first be seen in “The Way of the Warrior” at the top of the fourth season. The road from this episode to the forthcoming one is shown in Una McCormack's novel The Never-Ending Sacrifice. (Thanks to Jarvisimo in the comments.)

Walk with the Prophets: “You know what the sad part is, Odo? I’m a very good tailor.” This is a stellar episode, one that seriously raises the stakes for the entire Trek universe, truly. At the end of the episode, we get way more forward movement and change than we’ve ever seen from a single Star Trek story with the possible exception of Star Trek VI—and even then, that was more of a retcon, as the changes to the Klingon Empire in that movie were by way of explaining the alliance that had been established four years earlier on TNG.

But look at what we get here:

After spending the better part of three seasons showing us the well-oiled (if sometimes tense) machine that is Cardassian politics, we suddenly get the entire Obsidian Order—in essence, half the government—wiped out, an event that will have significant consequences moving forward.

The Tal Shiar is also wiped out, which will have less obvious consequences, but that’s mostly because the Romulans are less of an everyday presence than the Cardassians in this little corner of the Trek universe.

And the Dominion threat finally has some bite to it. It’s been mostly abstract up until this point. The Jem’Hadar destroyed the New Bajor colony, but there’s been nothing since, aside from a fact-finding excursion by the female changeling. They haven’t even made good on their threat to treat any trip through the wormhole as an act of war.

But now we have this. The revelation that Lovok is a changeling is huge, the first time we’ve seen that the Founders are more than happy to use their shapechanging abilities to replace folks in the Alpha Quadrant for their own purposes, a devastating tactic.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on The Die is Cast

And that isn’t even the heart of what makes this episode great. No, it’s continuing the magnificent double-act of Odo and Garak, who spend less actual screentime together than in “Improbable Cause,” but their thematic character bonds grow far closer over the course of this hour, as we see how alone they both are, how desperate they are to return to their homes, and how impossible that goal really is. Garak is given back everything he’s lost, but it’s too late on more than one level: he doesn’t have the stomach for torture anymore, and Tain’s offer turns out to be built on a house of cards, as his triumphant return to the Obsidian Order was doomed to failure thanks to the Dominion learning of it and turning the tables.

As for Odo, he admits to Garak (and the viewer) for the first time his true agony: he wants to join in the Great Link more than anything, but he knows he can’t. He even refuses when the Lovok changeling gives him the opportunity. The only person who would know if he said yes to Lovok is Garak, who is the one person who actually knows that particular heart’s desire. The crew on DS9 would assume him lost in the battle, and no one would be the wiser. But he still politely declines.

The two also have some great snotty exchanges, with Garak snidely pointing out that Odo has no cause to be disappointed in Garak’s behavior, given that they have no history of loyalty or friendship, and Odo turning the sarcasm right back on him when Garak brings in the quantum stasis thingamabob, by mock-begging Garak not to torture him, as he’s been soooooo dreading this...

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on The Die is Cast

On top of that, the episode has the most ambitious space battle Trek has done to date, an impressive display of stuff blowing up real good, and finally getting to see the Defiant in action.

Where it loses a point is the utter uselessness of all the stuff with the Defiant. It’s just there to give the rest of the cast something to do, to remind us that Eddington exists, and to provide a useful cutaway during Garak’s torture of Odo, but that’s not a good enough reason for the thread to be there. The conventions of television are such that Sisko’s behavior is expected—in fact, it’s so predictable a plot point that Toddman went ahead and predicted it, ordering Eddington to cut it off at the pass. But it’s actually spectacularly irresponsible to leave Bajor and the station unprotected and risking the lives of the 40 people on board just to bring back two people. Oh yeah, plus the whole disobeying orders thing, though Toddman at least lets him off the hook for that one.

Plus, they didn’t need to be there. There’s no reason why the runabout should be even fired upon, since the Lovok changeling was the one who freed Odo in the first place. Odo’s safety was guaranteed, so the runabout being in danger makes no sense from a story perspective except to give the Defiant a reason to be there and rescue them. But the story would’ve worked just fine—better, in fact—without the Defiant ever leaving DS9. This was Odo and Garak’s story, the others are just intruding on it with pointless filler.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on The Die is Cast

Having said that, it’s a great character piece and a great action piece, with points to both writer Ronald D. Moore, who killed it in the script, and director David Livingston. The camerawork is superb here, from the great angle on Odo as he thrusts his arm out in a futile attempt to change shape to an excellent use of close-ups during several conversations. Best of all is the superb closing scene with the close-up of Garak in profile and the shadowy reflection of Odo in the mirror, one of the most visually impressive and vivid scenes in the show’s history, punctuated by Garak sad returning of the favor to Odo by confessing something he doesn’t want to admit to anyone else: that he’s a very good tailor.

Warp factor rating: 9

Keith R.A. DeCandido wishes everyone a happy new year and fond wishes for the most spectacular 2014 imaginable.

2. James2
I remember this episode was a turning point in my perception of the Dominion for me.

Sure, the destruction of the Odyssey was a punch in the gut to someone like myself who'd grown up with TNG and the familiar (if top-heavy) sight of the Galaxy-class. It correctly demonstrated that the Founders and their servants weren't to be taken lightly.

But as Keith pointed out, this was really the point where the Founders demonstrated their capacity for magnificent bastardy to my young mind. To be able to pull a fast one on the two most feared intelligence agencies of the TNG-era and cripple them in one fell swoop was quite the accomplishment.

Last time, I also said that from a narrative perspective, I still enjoy how this duology is one of the key junctures of the entire Dominion story arc. I just love how Tain sets out on this venture to protect Cardassian interests.

And like Keith pointed out, not only does he fail spectacularly, but his actions have dire consequences for Cardassia for the second half of DS9.
Christopher Bennett
3. ChristopherLBennett
I have a hard time believing this battle would wipe out the entire Obsidian Order and Tal Shiar. I mean, those are both intelligence agencies/secret police. They'd be mostly ground-based bureaucracies staffed mainly by people in desk jobs working out of offices. Are we supposed to believe that these battle fleets were crewed by the entire administrative and office staffs of those agencies as well as every one of their operatives? Would any devious, secretive, manipulative intelligence agency be so reckless as to send all its key personnel on a military mission, rather than maneuvering someone else into taking the risk for them?

Unless the idea is that the defeat was such a debacle that it led to both agencies' entire staffs being purged or executed. That I could buy. And in the case of the Obsidian Order, which we know was locked in an ongoing power struggle with Central Command and the Detapa Council (so it was actually technically 1/3 of the government, though in practice it and the CC had all the actual power), I can buy that its rivals would've taken the opportunity to dismantle it once and for all. But in the case of the Tal Shiar, it seems more likely that it would just be restaffed rather than dissolved.
4. vjj
I remember following this show religiously. Now I can't stand it. A few years ago I went back to watch it again and for me anything Star Trek just doesn't hold up at all.

Ever since Battlestar Galactica (Moore & Eich), anything Star Trek just bores me to death. I know BSG ended horribly and the ending kind of ruins the rest of the series, at least the first two seasons were really great sci-fi.
Keith DeCandido
5. krad
Well, there was no indication that the Romulan Empire suffered anywhere near the same effects that the Cardassian Union did. But then, the Order was more of an equal partner (and not a pleasant one) with the Central Command, whereas the Tal Shiar worked for the Romulan Senate.

I'm sure the entire organizations weren't wiped out for the reasons you state, but it's the equivalent of cutting the head off a chicken. Sure, the wings and feet and body are still in place, and they'll run around for a while on inertia, but it won't last long...

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
6. critter42
Odo's final journey at the end of "What You Leave Behind" is so much more poignant watching it right after watching this episode - I guess initially the time gap between this and WYLB kind of dulled the impact, but watching this again, wow.
Christopher Bennett
7. ChristopherLBennett
@5: Yeah, but why was it the head that got cut off? You don't send the head of the organization out onto the front lines. You keep them behind where they're safe and send their underlings out to die. Tain shouldn't have been leading the fleet, he should've been back home behind a desk, masterminding the operation.
8. James2
@7: I've always seen it as Tain's ego. This was to be his grand comeback from retirement, after all.

He'd want to be on hand to ensure a 'win' given how high the stakes were.
Peter Ramberg
9. Philalethes
I saw these two episodes for the first time this year as I moved through all seven seasons. I remember particularly Garak's new moral to the Boy Who Cried Wolf--so in character. But also clever was the foreshadowing at the beginning, when Garak just couldn't figure out why Julius Caesar couldn't see his assassination coming. As the ambush is in full throttle, of course, Garak now understands. And the torture scene was powerful, unlike anything Star Trek had done to date.

SLIGHT SPOILER: I was surprised however, that the thingie Garak used to keep Odo from shapeshifting wasn't ever seen or referred to again. A piece of technology like that would have been extremely useful in the Dominion War. I thought it would play a role, but it never appeared again.
Matt Hamilton
10. MattHamilton
I think it's more that the crews were those with field experience, such as agents and operatives, and that, with them perceived dead at the hands of the Dominion, their agencies fall apart. It would be akin, I think, to the CIA losing all or most of it’s officers, leaving only it’s analysts and tech people. Then, I’ll take a page from you, and assume that they would be executed, especially those in the Order because the Cardassians seem to love executing people on the basis of “Just in case” and “why the hell not” more so than the Tal Shiar seems to be. I would think that the Tal Shiar is still up and about because they wouldn’t send their ENTIRE agency on this errand (plus we see that they are still around later in the series in Inter Arnam Silent Legas). Unless, the Lovok Changeling convinced them to all go, but I don’t really see that either.

These two episodes are, in my mind, nearly perfect. They should have been a movie (though they would only serve to please Trek fans and no one else). I was having a hard time remembering how it was that Garak wasn’t immediately jailed or, at the very least, the recipient of one heck of an ass whupin by Odo upon their return to the station. But, our humble rewatcher reminded me of just how great a character piece these episodes are and why he wasn’t. I think I remember nearly shedding a tear, or actually shedding one, seeing just how messed up Garak is over his exile and now his torn loyalties and how painful it is to that he actually is good at being a tailor and how much that just eats him up inside. It is episodes like these that remind just how much and why I love great storytelling and why I write in the first place.
11. Bobby Nash
This two parter is one of my favorite Star Trek stories. Might be time for me to pop in a DVD and give it a rewatch myself.

Matt Hamilton
12. MattHamilton
@9, I think the reason that it was never used again was because Tain made the device, or had someone in the Order make it for him, and then the Order was wiped out, along with the prototype device. Garak didn't design or, but only used it.

I was going to mention, as well, Tain's ego. He actually thought that he should lead the fleet because it would be victorious in destroying the Dominion threat and, when they returned, he would be hailed as a Cardassian hero and his coming out of retirement party would be the biggest thing his homeworld had ever seen. It never occurred to him that he might fail. It was like how Garak could not figure out how Ceaser could not foresee his own assassination, Tain could not forsee his own failure and ruination.
David Levinson
13. DemetriosX
Eddington's role here is not only ironic, it raises some very interesting questions about both Eddington and Toddman. Obviously, that (and I'm staying vague here for those who haven't watched yet) hadn't been planned yet, but you could generate some very interesting retcons.

I think Garak had either already or would again later make ironically wistful comments about his skill as a tailor.

I think the OO had fewer resources than the Tal Shiar and committed a much greater percentage of what they had to the project. They had to have lost a lot of more senior, political people as blowback from the events of "Defiant". Had this been a success, it might have been possible to rehabilitate them, but with the disastrous failure they've not only lost all the rank and file who were in the GQ, but also a lot of ranking officers who will be held responsible for the whole thing. Add to that, it's going to mean a complete loss of political and power capital within Cardassian politics. They won't be able to play Central Command and the Detap Council off against each other and they get utterly marginalized, at least for a while.

@9 Phialethes
At some point the Federation does have some device that disrupts Changeling abilities. The episodes with Robert Foxworthy deal with that to some degree, IIRC.
Matt Stoumbaugh
14. LazerWulf
"There’s no reason why the runabout should be even fired upon, since the Lovok changeling was the one who freed Odo in the first place. Odo’s safety was guaranteed, so the runabout being in danger makes no sense from a story perspective"
Well, if you think about it, Lovok only said that "One Changeling has never directly harmed another" (at least, that's how I remember/interpret the quote). Lovok gave them a chance to escape, but he knows that they are enemies, so he doesn't tell the Jem'Hadar not to fire on them. That way, if they don't escape, it's the Jem'Hadar who harmed Odo, not him.

Alternatively, did Lovok even have a chance to tell the Jem'Hadar not to fire on the runabout? I don't remember if he was able to escape or not...
15. James2
@4. I sympathize.

I own every single episode (barring TAS since it's painful to watch), but DS9 is the series that gets the most re-watching (and it's a lifelong love of Trek that's stopped me from selling the DVD's).

It's arc/serialization storytelling style is closer to my personal tastes (and why nBSG was a favorite of mine too). The scope is just so great thanks to the Bajor/Cardassia backstory and the Dominion War arc.

Visually, it's also the one series I never get tired of watching thanks to Herman Zimmerman's wonderful Cardassian architecture.
Matt Hamilton
16. MattHamilton
I love everything about the Cardassians, to be honest. I mean, I despire everything about their government and military, but from a storytelling standpoint, they could have wound up like the Ferengi in TNG, but wound up with a strong cultural backstory, not to mention I think it's a great makeup. The Bajorans, as well, I think are nicely done. I too would like to retire there (ala Sisko). It's such a beautiful planet, from what is seen and described. I could not stand the overall religious-ness of that world (much like I can't take a lot of religious things here on earth in our time), but for shear beauty in it's landscape and architecture, I would move there in a second.
17. James2
@16: Funnily enough, you reminded of Keith's review of "The Wounded" and how the episode plays so much differently now given how important the Cardassians ended up becoming to the 24th Century-era.

And I love the Cardassians, too. They're easily my favorite 24th Century-era culture.
Matt Hamilton
18. MattHamilton
@17, the Wounded was a great introduction to them, wasn't it? Other than those silly, worthless helmets, that was a great episode and a nice way to give a little more character to O'Brien. Also: Marc Alaimo...need I say more?
19. James2
One other point about the Cardassians I forgot to mention -- and it's fitting given their alliance with the Romulans here -- is that their backstory is as fascinating to me as the history of those who march beneath the Raptor's wings.

Tragic villains are among my favorite storytelling tropes. And as we learned in "Chain of Command", the Cardassians were once a peaceful and artful culture that were forced to turned to militarism because of famine and poor resources. There's so much tragedy in their culture and what they could have become under different circumstanses.

I also brought up the Romulans because they've always fascinated me for similiar reasons. Their rejection of Surak's pacifistic philophies spawned one of the Quadrant's most militant and xenophobic powers. They're the Vulcans' dark side personified -- which is why "Unification" is another favorite of mine,
20. James2
@18. "The Wounded" is on my TNG Top 10 list. It's one of my favorites.

Again, I just love how guys who started out as villains of the week ended up impacting all three 24th Century-era shows in one way or another.

Also, getting Bob Gunton as Maxwell was great casting.
Matt Hamilton
21. MattHamilton
TNG almost always had great casting, in my opinion. And I get what you're saying about the Cardassians as tragic villains. For that reason, and for what happens to them as a people throught the series (I won't say much more than that for those who actually haven't watched), I really love the novels dealing with Cardassia, reconstruction, and how their politics are effecting and being effected by the powers of the quadrant after the series ends. I've singled out A Stitch in Time by Andrew Robinson on this board for this rewatch before and I'll do it again because it is such a good novel.
22. Alright Then
Can't go wrong with the Cardassians. Everything they touch, story wise, is gold in my book.

Also, I just wanna say what a great, underrated actor Paul Dooley is. Always fun to watch in either drama or comedy. Just check out his performance in Breaking Away. He's hilarious.

"Refund! REFUND!"
23. James2
@23. It was so weired seeing Dooley on Major Crimes this season without the Cardassian makeup.

Same goes for Casey Biggs during the previous season.

They'll always be Enabran Tain and Corat Damar to me.
24. Alright Then

Yes indeed. I've never quite gotten used to seeing Anthony Daniels' voice coming out of a human face and not a gold one. Ha.

While we're on the subject of makeup and Cardassians, did it take anyone else a very long time before you realized they're supposed to be reptilian? I don't know, maybe I'm extra dense with this sort of thing, but I expect a reptilian alien to be green, have scales and hiss when he speaks. Having black hair (or any hair at all), gray skin, and usually an eloquent speaking voice threw me off, I guess.

Nevertheless, it's a unique design. One of my favorites.
Matt Stoumbaugh
25. LazerWulf
@22, 23: Something about Paul Dooley's voice seemed so familiar, but when I looked him up on IMDB, it seems the only VA work he's done is as Sarge on Cars and Cars 2. Pity. I could picture that voice as a villain on any number of Saturday Morning Cartoons that I watched growing up, like anything in the DCAU.
26. Jarvisimo
Is no one going to mention the wonderfully depicted consequences of this episode depicted in Una McCormack's DS9 novel The Never-Ending Sacrifice? That the illegal actions of Tain provided the Detapa Council with an opening to circumvent their authority, and act before the CC - thanks in part to the forewarning of the Detapa Council's OO liason (Alon Ghemor)? There is this witty little piece of faux-historian style of the cost to the CC being something like one legate and three guls. Following that was a purge of the worst (but also most effective) elements of the remaining OO (which seems to have been most of the organisation, as Christopher pointed out above, which remained as a civil bureacracy rather than being in the Gamma Quadrant), and the making of the neutered Cardassian Intelligence Bureau. The result of the OO purges was an ineffective police system (McCormack has the police mananged by the OO like in Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany), which resulted in both increased demands for democracy (with Tekeny Ghemor the exiled figurehead for progressive feelings) and the inability to put down protestors through the police apparatus. This sadly led both to the reentrenchment of the military in the government (in the person of Dukat, explaining his 'Way of the Warrior' role), and the failure of the neutered CIB to predict the actions of the Klingon Empire. This would lead, ultimately, to Dukat's political entrenchment and the alliance with the Dominion in S5, as he took both revenge against the ineffective Detapa Council government and seized power. So The Never-Ending Sacrifice traces the development from 'The Die is Cast' to context of the 'The Way of the Warrior', and ultimately the rest of the Cardassian arc, in rather beautiful prose.
Brendan Guy
27. bguy
Did Tain really think this plan would destroy the Dominion? Even if the plan had worked perfectly and the Founders had been wiped out that would still leave the Dominion's military, economy, and administrative structure completely intact. (I rather doubt the Vorta would announce that the Founders had been wiped out, so as far as the rest of the Dominion would know the Founders would still be in charge.) The Dominion would certainly be weakened without the Founders, but even without them it is still more technologically advanced than the AQ powers, possesses a vast fleet, massive ship building capability, and has the means to breed a near infinite army of soldiers, so it is still an existential threat, and Tain's actions would guarantee the Cardassians and Romulans were now its top targets.
Christopher Bennett
28. ChristopherLBennett
@27: Well, Tain was acting on false intelligence from the Lovok changeling, so he was maneuvered into believing the plan would work.

And really, how effective would the Vorta be without their gods to give them orders? Even if the rest of the Dominion didn't know the Founders were gone, it would be rendered directionless and wouldn't take long to fragment. That's the problem with overcentralized empires.
29. James2
@27, Yeah, it's the big weakpoint of the Dominion hierarchy. But it's perfectly in character for the Founders given their paranoia and xenophobia -- which is all the more ironic given what's still to come at this point in the series.

Also, I've always loved how Behr and the writers put a lot of thought into the government structure and how the system was set up so that neither servant race could turn on one another ("To the Death" nonwithstanding).

The Vorta can't rebel given the Jem'Hadar's ultimately answer to the Founders. And the Jem'Hadar can't rebel given the Vorta would simply cut off the White and then run for the hills.
Christopher Bennett
30. ChristopherLBennett
@29: Also the Vorta are genetically programmed to worship and obey the Founders, so rebellion is pretty much impossible. Which is really creepy and insidious, the ultimate mind control.
31. James2
@30. Yeah -- which is why I've always liked how "Treachery, Faith, and Great River" got around that programming.
Keith DeCandido
32. krad
Jarvisimo: I'm afraid that I haven't yet read The Never-Ending Sacrifice, so I'm only aware of the broad strokes of what that book did. Thanks for that, and I'll add it to the Trivial Matters section forthwith (thank you edit function!).

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Mike Kelmachter
33. MikeKelm
I love this episode and the one that are before it. They may be some of the best Star Trek shows ever. I do have a couple of issues with the show.

One question/nitpick I have is with Sisko's battle tactics. While the battle scene is very cool, he tells Kira to wait to fire until they're 500 meters away from the fighters, which are also moving towards them. While I don't have the brain power to figure out what that means in actual speeds (I seem to recall full impulse for the Galaxy class was about 1/4 speed of light- tech manual maybe/) and the Defiant is faster than the Galaxy class, as are the Jem Hadar fighters.... bottom line is by the time Dax says "500 Meters" and Sisko pauses dramatically and says "Fire" and the impulse goes from Kira's brain to her finger to the firing button... you're about 10 kilometers beyond the Jem Hadar.

While space battle tactics in Star Trek tend to suck, the Defiants are probably semi-realistic for a ship of its size and speed- a series of closing runs and zooming away, or what pilots call "Boom and Zoom" - 500 meters seems awfully close. I'm assumig it was done for dramatic effect (fire when you hit 10,000 kilometers just doesn't sound as cool) it just doesn't make logical sense.

The second is that I don't know how effective having a changeling infiltrator would be, especially in a paranoid intelligence agency like the Tal Shiar. Impersonating someone is more than just looking like them, you have to be able to come across as that person- to know the person's history, to relate to coworkers, etc. I have to imagine the Tal Shiar probably monitors it's own personnel very closely, and might be suspicious that Lovok suddenly doesn't know his own backstory. The only way this would work might be if the Dominion can extract and somehow upload memories of the people they are impersonating. Otherwise the charade is going to be up the first time that you run into a classmate or the guy who works in the next cubicle.
Christopher Bennett
34. ChristopherLBennett
@33: A Changeling spy could observe a target for months by impersonating people or objects around them, gathering intelligence about their life and personality, before abducting and replacing them. It could even replace an item of someone's clothing and thus gain access to everywhere they went and watch everything they did (while dressed, anyway).

Although, really, there should be more invasive methods available as well. It's weird that Trek has never canonically referenced the Klingon mind-sifter since it was first established in "Errand of Mercy." You'd think that would be a very useful tool for bad guys all over. Although we did see a similar Romulan mind probe in "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges" and "Extreme Measures."
35. James2
@34, I've always wondered if the Romulans took the technology for themselves after TOS or if it was the other way around.

Maybe the Klingons only used it during the height of tensions with the UFP.
36. John Harpertron
I don't normally comment because my comments never seem to come through but I wanted to thank you for the last two years of rewatches and for continuing this one through the holidays. I've loved reliving this part of my past.
37. AndrewV
Remember: The DS9 Rewatch is eligible for a Hugo. If you enjoy the series it would be *awesome* to see KRAD get at least a nomination!
38. Jarvisimo
@32 Krad: thank you! I'd really recommend The Never-Ending Sacrifice, it is my favourite Trek book partly as McCormack does, like yourself, a great job of world-building, and partly as it is written so beautifully - truly it will make you cry, as the tale of this species should.

Most interestingly, for a book about Cardassia, it wisely limits how both Garak and Dukat appear and are used - instead looking outwith them to the bigger society. Indeed, it's main focus is life outside the Order and military - upon the life, culture, ideologies and politics of civilians from different classes within a militaristic and then post-militaristic state - making it very distinct from any other Cardassian POV set during the show.
39. Jarvisimo
@32 Krad: thank you! I'd really recommend The Never-Ending Sacrifice, it is my favourite Trek book partly as McCormack does, like yourself, a great job of world-building, and partly as it is written so beautifully - truly it will make you cry, as the tale of this species should.

Most interestingly, for a book about Cardassia, it wisely limits how both Garak and Dukat appear and are used - instead looking outwith them to the bigger society. Indeed, it's main focus is life outside the Order and military - upon the life, culture, ideologies and politics of civilians from different classes within a militaristic and then post-militaristic state - making it very distinct from any other Cardassian POV set during the show.
Brendan Guy
40. bguy
@28: Did the Founders really have that much control over the day to day operations of the Dominion though? The Vorta are already responsible for its administration, diplomacy, and scientific research anyway, and they are capable of acting on their own initative (as shown when one of the Weyouns oks killing Odo), so I would think they could take over if necessary.

At any rate it's very unlikely that ever single Founder would be on-planet when Tain's fleet attacks, and if even a single Founder is off-world, then the Dominion still has its leader as the Vorta and Jem Hedar will stay loyal to any surviving Founders.
Christopher Bennett
41. ChristopherLBennett
@40: It's not about organization, it's about direction and will. The Vorta can easily run the whole Dominion, but only if they know what the Founders want them to do, what purpose they're working toward. Take away that volition, the orders from above, and the Vorta could keep running the everyday machinery, but they'd have no direction, no goals. It would just be going through the motions.

More to the point, it's not just a bureaucracy to them. They worship the Founders. Their service to the Founders is an act of religious devotion. You don't just "take over" for God. It's not a position they could imagine being promoted into. Take away the Founders and you don't just create a hole in the hierarchy that they could rise to fill; you take away their entire reason for existence, the anchor of their belief structure. It would leave them directionless not only on a political or logistical level but on a spiritual and psychological level. They might not even want to go on living.
Dante Hopkins
42. DanteHopkins
@41, exactly what I was going to point out. What makes the Dominion different from AQ powers is that the Vorta (still unnamed at this point, I believe) and the Jem'Hadar see the Founders as gods. Take away those gods and it all falls apart eventually. The Jem'Hadar would likely commit mass suicide, and the Vorta would completely fall apart.

@14, the Lovok changeling was able to beam out after Odo declined to return to the Great Link (with no signal for transport or anything, the usual fashion), and I doubt Lovok would order the runabout destroyed, especially with a Founder on board. There may have been so much chaos that Lovok simply forgot to give the order for the runabout's safety. More likely, it was an oversight by the writers, as the safety of the runabout should have been guaranteed with a Founder (Odo) on board, but as krad points out, it was an excuse to have the Defiant rescue Odo and Garak, and then kick all kinds of ass.
Dante Hopkins
43. DanteHopkins
I should also point out, for the Trivial Matters section, this was the last episode before Sisko grows the goatee, so Hawk take over for Benjamin is coming soon.
Matt Hamilton
44. MattHamilton
That's how I always put it...the show, while already good, gets really good once Avery Brooks dons his signature look.
Matt Stoumbaugh
45. LazerWulf
I guess you could say that this show Grows The Beard at this point...
46. James2
Bringing up the beard is funny for me personally.

DS9 really influenced a lot of my storytelling perceptions and preferences (ensemble casts, serialization/story arcs, moral ambiguity, darker themes).

But in spite of all this, what was Ds9's single biggest influence on my life?

Growing a circle beard when I got to college ala Sisko.

I just always thought it looked kickass and I've kept the look for many years . :)
Keith DeCandido
47. krad
The beard will be discussed in tomorrow's rewatch of "Explorers." :)

Dante: the Vorta have been named (by Ornithar, the Karemma merchant, in "The Search, Part I") but it has yet to be made clear that the Vorta are, in fact, what Eris and Borath are.

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Rob Rater
48. Quasarmodo
I find the device used to prevent Changelings from changing their shapes to be highly convenient. For one, it works perfectly, despite the designers not have any changelings in their possession to study or test it on. And why did they bring it along here anyway? They weren't planning on physically facing any changelings. They had no idea Odo would be on board, so from their planning perspective it would've been entirely useless. And they were infiltrated by a changeling, who apparently held no anxiety about the alpha quadrant possessing such a dangerous device, as he wasn't attempting to block its design/creation, or to destroy it upon completion.
Brendan Guy
49. bguy
@41 & 42: Long term you both may be correct, but I think in the short term the Vorta would have a clear unifying goal: genocide of the Cardassians and Romulans. It doesn't do Tain much good if the Dominion falls apart 10 years later if they have already obliterated his people in the interim.

And again the Dominion is only rudderless if they happen to kill every single changeling in their attack. If just a single Founder is off-world during Tain's attack then the Vorta and Jem Hedar still have a Founder to serve, so they will carry on.
50. bookworm1398
In addition to the practical issue of what the effect of this attack on the Dominion would be, there is also the moral issue of genocide. I was surprised that wasn't given a little more play - esp at this point when the Dominion had not made aggresive moves into the Alpha quadrant, just destroyed people in their claimed territory. Some of the federation people should have made a bigger deal about the ethics.
Christopher Bennett
51. ChristopherLBennett
@48: Science follows predictable rules. As long as the Obsidian Order's scientists had a valid theory of how Changeling abilities worked, they could've devised a theoretical means of blocking them. Tain did say that it was an untested prototype.

And given that they were going to attack the Founders' homeworld, it makes perfect sense to bring the device with them. They might have ended up taking a prisoner for interrogation. Or they could have been infiltrated during the battle and needed a defense. After all, no plan survives an encounter with the enemy. They were going to battle shapeshifters, so it only made sense to bring every anti-shapeshifter weapon in their arsenal, just so they'd be prepared for whatever contingencies might arise.

And given that the Founders planned to destroy the entire battle fleet, and the device was aboard one of the ships in the battle fleet, I think we can safely say that they did plan to destroy the device.

@49: I still think you're approaching this as if the Vorta were merely loyal underlings. They're genetically programmed to do what the Founders tell them and to be incapable of sufficiently independent thought to rebel. Heck, they were original subsapient monkeylike organisms until the Founders uplifted them to be obedient servants, so they have literally no experience with controlling their own lives or making decisions for themselves. Take away the people who give them their instructions and they'd be almost as useless as a combat drone would be without a human operator.
52. folkbum
One thing to toss out here in the "Vorta without the Founders" business--and spoiler alert for those who haven't watched the whole series--is that there are defective Vorta clones who don't end up with all the "right" programming from the Founders' perspective. Weyoun 6 tried to defect to the Federation because he thought the war was wrong. He still venerated the Founders as gods, but he defied them. Well, most of them, since he defected to Odo. But still.

In theory, there might be enough "defective" Vorta clones floating around to carry on post-Founders to craft a very different Dominion. Not likely, given the way Weyoun 6 was hunted down, but maybe.
53. DougL
I agree about the last point there, it made no sense for them to fire on the Runabout, but I just fanwanked that they were hurrying it along to get it out of danger more than trying to blow it up.

Still, it was nice to see the Defiant in acton because the last time we saw it was when it was attacked whilst cloaked, which was not a stellar display of the ship's power.
Raymond Seavey
54. RaySea
In regard to the Order's anti-shapeshifting device: I'd also note that Odo "grew up" in a research facility controlled by Cardassians. Thus, the Order very likely has record of much, if not all, of Dr. Mora's research on him, so they probably had a fair bit of data on Changeling biology to go on.
Keith DeCandido
56. krad
Quoth Quasarmodo: "And they were infiltrated by a changeling, who apparently held no anxiety about the alpha quadrant possessing such a dangerous device, as he wasn't attempting to block its design/creation, or to destroy it upon completion."

Not true, actually. The Lovok changeling had no idea about the device -- he was surprised about it when Tain mentioned it. And the device was probably blown up with the ship....

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Tim May
57. ngogam
We see enough instances of Jem'Hadar rebellion and Vorta self-directed behaviour to make me think that at least a segment of each species could adapt to life without the Founders, perhaps by sublimating their programming into a more conventional religion. But the transition would be enormously disruptive and unstable; for one thing, the Vorta and the Jem'Hadar really can't stand each other, making it very difficult for them to cooperate in the absence of Founder oversight. One might reasonably expect mass suicides, massacres of Vorta by Jem'Hadar, desperate struggles for control of Ketracel-white production...

The chances of them keeping it together long enough to organize a retaliatory strike seem low—but not zero, and if they did manage it (perhaps the Vorta leaders could keep the Founders' demise a secret until the Jem'Hadar were in the Alpha quadrant?) it could potentially be very destructive. If the Dominion has nothing else to live for, it could commit its entire military to the attack.

The example of Weyoun 6 does suggest another possibility; the entire Dominion hierarchy might have switched their allegiance to Odo.


I don't know how likely it is that the Obsidian Order would have literally had not only the only prototype of the anti-shapeshifting device, but also everyone involved in making it and all their notes, aboard the invasion fleet. Not impossible, perhaps—they are a very secretive organization. But if not, then perhaps once "Lovok" learned of it Dominion agents on Cardassia took advantage of the Order's disarray to eliminate anything that remained.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
58. Lisamarie
I feel like I should have more to say about such an important episode - I think as a first time watcher it might not have struck me that this was such a turning point without the benefit of the commentary here - I might have just assumed that the Order/Tal Shiar would eventually rebuild and that the infiltration of changelings might end up being dropped like so many other big plot devices in other episodes.

I think I was more struck by the interplay between Garak and Odo and maybe a little surprised that Odo would be willing to let the torture go.

It was also a little surprising to me that, for the most part, the next few episodes don't really focus on the consequences of this episode either - maybe for budget reasons, or maybe it just has to do with production order?
Christopher Bennett
59. ChristopherLBennett
@58: No, it was the nature of episodic television at that point. These days, TV is more serialized so that events in one episode get followed up on immediately; but DS9 was still in a more episodic era where serial elements were more limited. When events were followed up on, it was usually some time later, after a number of intervening standalone episodes. DS9 would get more serialized in later seasons, but at this stage it was still mostly episodic.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
60. Lisamarie
Yes, and in fact, if I were watching this for the first time in a vaccuum, I probably would have just shrugged off what happened in this episode as interesting, but not necessarily having long term consequences for the show - I don't think I would have immediately realized this was going to be a turning point - especially in light of how it hasn't been touched on in too many of the future episodes yet.

But I like how the show brings back stuff from previous episodes that one may have overlooked and you realize - hey, that was actually kind of a big deal.
61. McKay B
When it comes to the effectiveness of the Founders' plans, I always felt there was a lot of room for handwaving built into the equation.

"Lovok" would have to be very good at imitating Lovok in order to infiltrate a paranoid organization like the Tal Shiar. OK. What's wrong with that? Even without some sort of technology that let him mind-probe the real Lovok, he could do that. Besides the fact that he may have spent months observing his intended target, as KRAD pointed out, you have to consider the hints that a number of the Founders ARE specifically trained as spies and infiltration agents. And with their crazy long lifespans, they could be VERY good at it. And no doubt one of the best would be sent for an important role like "Lovok."

Some Obsidian Order technicians who knew about the shape-shift inhibitor probably wouldn't have been with the fleet? No problem. It stands to reason that the majority of the Founder infiltrators never WERE exposed or revealed themselves to their AQ enemies. Undoubtedly there were infiltrators among the Obsidian Order, even if they weren't as elite as "Lovok." I have no trouble believing that, after the Founders learned of this prototype inhibitor technology, they could make sure the few remaining Cardassians who knew about the experiment's progress could be assassinated.

All that being said, I never did think that these intelligence organizations would have been wiped out COMPLETELY by this debacle. Undoubtedly they still exist (as we, in fact, see explicitly about the Tal Shiar). But they still lost a LOT of personnel capital, and some key leadership, and (in the Order's case) a lot of political clout. So I find it quite believable that these organizations really lost their bite after this episode, even without the Founders' ongoing efforts to keep them repressed.
62. Eoin8472
God, I thought, I was a Star Trek fan, but it turns out I'm more of a "Fanatic" if I'm remembering basic stuff (to me), like the Tal Shiar not been wiped out completedly. They were mentioned in 3 future episodes for God's Sake, In the Pale Moonlight, Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges and Voyager's "Message in a Bottle"

And I'm laughing at the arguments as to whether the Jem'Hadar could successfully destroy the Romulans/Cardassians in retaliation for the Founder's genocide, before they ran out of White. What if...gasp..Tain and co, just blew up the wormhole on their return to the AQ? They would have already been in hot water with the AQ authorities for committing genocide anyway, I'm sure they would not have cared about further FED/Bajoran protests over the wormhole going kablooy. And the Jem'Hadar problem destroying everything in revenge is solved. Their stated aim was to protect the AQ by killing the Founders, not to annex the GQ, so destroying the wormhole and wrecking any future economic benefit should not have entered their minds. Now, maybe the Jem'Hadar could have made some limited attacks before Tain and the fleet got back to the Wormhole, but , hopefully, their main fleet would not have made it there in time. And the Jem'Hadar all die out behind the closed wormhole, so in 80-100 years time there will be no attacks by conventional warp.
63. James2
@58, Yeah, Ds9's storytelling style at this point in the series reminds me a lot of the early years of Stargate SG-1.

There were ongoing arcs, but it was still mostly episodic and spread out across the seasons. It also didn't really start get more arc-driven and serialized until the second half of the series.
Christopher Bennett
64. ChristopherLBennett
@63: That was pretty much the level of serialization that existed in TV drama at the time (not counting soap operas). Even Babylon 5, which pioneered the modern format of unified seasonal arcs, was more episodic in its approach than your typical serialized drama today. Rather than each episode having portions of multiple plotlines unfolding in parallel, each individual B5 episode would tell a complete start-to-finish story which would advance some piece of the overall arc. Each installment stood on its own as a story, but they added up to a larger whole.
65. James2
@64, Yeah.

I think we as viewers have become spoiled in the last decade or so as serialization's become more accepted in live-action and animated television. My storytelling preferences have certainly changed since college. It's just gotten harder to re-watch older shows that are more episodic.

From a narrative persective, for example, The Legend of Korra is better structured for me than Avatar given each episode of Seasons 1-2 advanced the narrative). Book 3 of the original show drove me crazy, for example, given the uneven, stand-alone filler followed the heavily serialized/arc-driven Book 2 (though, granted, it helped make clear that the Fire Nation as a whole wasn't evil and that the civilian population had suffered as much from the Hundred-Year War).

Anyway, I personally prefer serialization and arcs because that's more interesting to tell an ongoing story instead of stand-alone episodes that are random stories and don't advance a long-term narrative. This is part of why DS9 is my favorite Trek -- and why Voyager 's refusal to build up a real ongoing arc after Season 2 drives me crazy to this day (as you can probably guess, I therefore loved your short story "Places of Exile" for the Myriad Universe book project).
Christopher Bennett
66. ChristopherLBennett
@65: Personally I think serialization is too often used as a crutch, an excuse for lazy writing. All too often, people don't bother to tell complete, unified stories with satisfying resolutions; they just toss in fragments of half a dozen simultaneous stories and don't have to bother resolving any of them because they can just drag them out forever. Certainly serialization can be done well, but I think it's important to care about the individual installments, to make each episode a whole, fulfilling work in its own right as well as a contributing piece of a larger narrative. I think the balance that shows like DS9 and B5 achieved was the best way to go about it.

And thanks for praising Places of Exile -- although at 55,000 words, it constitutes a short novel rather than a short story.
67. James2
@65, Good point.

Once Upon a Time is a good example of that problem. I liked the show since it was developing ongoing arcs..but now in Season 3 I'm losing interest because everything's stalled. Even Korra's second season drove me crazy in the first half due to the slow pacing.

Going back to SG-1 (and Atlantis to a much greater extent) -- they really embraced the Buffy model of balancing ongoing, seasonal arcs with stand-alone adventures of the week. It was also an extension of the B5/DS9 model you were talking about.

That's a format I'm fine with because it allows for a breather -- as well as to develop characters or world if they're really interesting. The Fire Nation arc of Avatar's Book 3, as I said, allowed us to fully explore the culture beyond the military -- and to emphasize the long-term damage to the everyday citizens and society that Sozin had unleashed.

As to "Places of Exile", it was easily my favorite of the first 6 Myriad Universe stories. I'm just as frustrated as you were by the missed opportunities of Voyager. I especially loved that you brought the Voth back into the equation.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
68. Lisamarie
Not SF, but my favorite example of serialization is actually Veronica Mars (I think almost every episode works really well as a standalone - my husband and I are liable to just pop in a random one for fun to watch) but the ongoing arc is such that the first time I watched it, I blew through the entire thing.

Season 3 changed it up a little, though, and fans are a bit divided on if that was a good thing...(I kinda liked it, I just wish the season hadn't ended so abrubtly, and overall preferred the series wide arc).
69. James2
Probably my favorite example of serialized television from the last 5 years is Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. I was a fan of the first series and initially planned to watch it out of obligation. But I got even more hooked because:

1. No filler this time around and each installment contributed, if not to the larger arc, then to the development of its characters.

2. Continuing from above, Ed and Al are such well developed, fun characters -- as is the recurring cast. It's very much like DS9 in that regard.

3. Most importantly, the central arc -- Homunculi Conspiracy -- just kept getting better and more engrossing as they started pulling the layers back from this alchemic onion.

The end result was one of my most intricate conspiracies I've ever seen in fiction. The sheer scope of the Master Plan (TM) was fascinating -- and you were rooting for Team Elric to stop this insanity.

The last 20 episodes are especially a great balancing act given our heroes' last stand takes place over a 24-hour period. It's a testament to the production team that the pacing felt just right and didn't fall apart midway through (* cough * Angel Season 4 * cough *).
70. CajunCC
It just occurred to me now that, had the attack on the Founders been entirely successful, there would still be Odo left alive. Since hw wouldbe the only Founder left, the entire Dominion would be his to control. Perhaps, with Odo's compassion for and trust of "the solids", the Dominion would become a benevolent power in the galaxy...
71. Tuomas_A
I have to say that Tain Enabran's whole plan is really stupid here. When Odo left the Founders' planet, the Founders must have known he would reveal its location to the Federation, possibly to others as well. So it shoud be obvious the Founders would be prepared, if some Alpha Quadrant power would try to attack their home. And since Tain knows what Odo knows, all of this should have been obvious to him as well, especially since he's supposed to be this brilliant spymaster and tactician. Yet he still expects they can just waltz in and surprise the Founders with their pants down.

Okay, the fake Lovok might've been pushing Tane into attacking the Founders, but that doesn't change the fact that the whole attack plan relies on the Founders not being prepared for any kind of attack on their home planet. And the only thing the Obsidian Order and Tal Shiar did to find out whether such preparations were in place was to question Odo (who, as far as they knew, might actually know nothing about the planet's defenses, which indeed proved to be the case), even though just a few hours before they didn't know Odo would become their prisoner, so he was never a part of their original plan. So yeah, this episode had lots of cool interpersonal drama, but the main plot is still kinda dumb.
Christopher Bennett
72. ChristopherLBennett
@71: How many other times have you known a civilization to abandon its entire planet to defend itself from a threat? Humans wouldn't abandon Earth just because an enemy found out where it was. Klingons wouldn't abandon Qo'noS. And so on. So I don't see any way Tain would've expected the Founders to pull up stakes and relocate their entire civilization to a different planet. Presumably it's something that comes more easily to Changelings because their existence is fluid and mutable to begin with.
73. Tuomas_A
Maybe so, but it's a pretty bad military tactic to base your whole attack on the assumption that your enemy wouldn't leave their home, even though you know very little about said enemy. (Though Odo's reports should have told them that this planet wasn't the Founders' original home, so presumably they had less emotional attachment to it.) Also, instead of leaving the planet, the Founders could have had some defense systems installed there that the OO and Tal Shiar didn't know about. Tain is shown to be aware of this possibility, since he asks Garak to torture Odo to see if Odo knows about any planetary defenses. Yet questioning Odo was never even a part of their original plan, apparently Tain just planned to fly the feet there and then test whether the planet was guarded. Considering that Starfleet's previous experiences had proven the Dominion had superior military technology compared to any Alpha Quadrant power, it seems the whole attack plan was based on untested suppositions, which definitely is stupid.
Christopher Bennett
74. ChristopherLBennett
@73: "Maybe so, but it's a pretty bad military tactic to base your whole attack on the assumption that your enemy wouldn't leave their home, even though you know very little about said enemy."

Why? Did the Trojans abandon Troy when the Greek navy showed up? Did the English evacuate London when the Blitz came?

A nomadic people with no fixed home could certainly be expected to pack up and leave when faced with attack; that's proved to be a very effective survival strategy. But the inhabitants of sedentary, urban civilizations tend to do the opposite, to dig in and defend their territory at all costs. That's because most of their assets -- fields, buildings, infrastructure, all their accumulated resources and possessions -- are not easily moveable, so running away would mean losing almost everything they have. Not to mention that cities are often placed in locations of economic or strategic importance, like riverbanks and deltas and straits, so surrendering the territory to the enemy would give them too great an advantage.

And that's just cities. You're talking about abandoning an entire planet as if it were simple. It would be a massive, epic undertaking, especially for a capital planet that presumably contains an extremely large population, infrastructure, and resource base. Evacuating any entire planet would be a prohibitively huge and time-consuming effort, but evacuating and abandoning the capital planet of the entire Dominion? Anyone who'd called that a likely tactic would've been laughed out of the war room. It's astonishing that the Founders were able to pull it off at all. Maybe it was easier because Changelings can change into forms that can travel through space under their own power, as we would later discover with Laas; but the Obsidian Order and the Tal Shiar had no way of knowing they were capable of such a feat at the time, and Lovok sure wouldn't have told them.
75. SethC
@33 Good point, I thought that too. It would be like being within grenade tossing distance of a nuclear missile going off. I always figured they meant 500 kilometers but wrote "meters" b/c the show tended to deal more in meters.

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