Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “In Purgatory’s Shadow”

“In Purgatory’s Shadow”
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by Gabrielle Beaumont
Season 5, Episode 14
Production episode 40510-512
Original air date: February 10, 1997
Stardate: unknown

Station log: A Gamma Quadrant listening post has picked up a coded Cardassian message. Neither Odo nor Kira are able to decode it, and they’ve sent it along to Bajoran intelligence, but Odo suggests they ask Garak to take a whack at it.

However, Garak disappoints them by telling them that it’s an old planetary survey from five years ago. He excuses himself from lunch with Bashir and Ziyal to allegedly work in his shop. Instead, he packs a bag and tries to steal a runabout—only to find Bashir in the runabout aiming a phaser at him and pointedly asking him, “Going somewhere?”

It wasn’t a five-year-old planetary survey. (Shock of shocks, Garak lied!) It’s from Enabran Tain, asking for help, meaning that Tain survived the massacre of the joint Obisidian Order/Tal Shiar fleet. Garak tries to convince Bashir to go with him on his little adventure to the Gamma Quadrant to trace the signal; Bashir instead leads him at phaserpoint to Sisko’s office. Garak is sure it’s genuinely from Tain, as it’s in a code that Tain and Garak developed together and that only the two of them know how to decode. Sisko is willing to let Garak chase the message into the GQ, but not alone and not with Bashir—he sends Worf along with him. Dax isn’t thrilled about it, and she’s even less thrilled that Worf didn’t even tell her, but she had to hear it from Sisko.

Ziyal is even less thrilled at Garak going than Dax is at Worf going. She finds Garak kind and intelligent; Garak, in turn, finds her young and a poor judge of character. But she enjoys his company and he hers, at least in part because she makes his exile a bit more bearable.

They’re interrupted by Dukat who tells her to get his hands off his daughter, punctuating the point by dangling Garak over the railing of Quark’s upper level. Ziyal tries to get him to let go by pleading, Garak tries to get him to let go by reminding Dukat that Ziyal will never forgive his killing Garak in front of her, and Quark tries to get him to let go by threatening to call Odo, who’d just love to put Dukat in a cell. Realizing public opinion is against him, Dukat lets the tailor go. Garak cheerfully says that he thinks that was good for his back and takes his leave.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on In Purgatory's Shadow

Sisko reminds Worf that it’s a recon mission—he’s to avoid the Dominion and get home in one piece. En route, Garak spins a delightful piece of bullshit by trying to convince Worf to sponsor his application to Starfleet Academy. It doesn’t take long for Worf to see through it, and Garak explains that lying is like any other skill: you have to practice to stay good at it. Worf angrily requests that Garak practice on someone else, prompting Garak to declare that Worf is no fun at all. “Good,” Worf says, and he even almost smiles.

Dukat angrily confronts Kira about Ziyal’s association with Garak. He accuses her of setting the two of them up on purpose to piss Dukat off, which gives Kira way too much credit for giving an airborne intercourse what Dukat thinks. When Kira dismisses his threat as the pathetic thing that it is, Dukat ominously laments that Bajorans used to take Cardassian threats seriously.

Worf and Garak soon learn that the signal came from within Dominion space. If they go any further, they risk encountering the Jem’Hadar, and Sisko explicitly ordered Worf not to risk that. Garak is all for avoiding unnecessary risks, but they’ve come this far, and there’s no sign of Jem’Hadar activity. Garak convinces Worf to set a course for a nearby nebula, where they can hide from the Jem’Hadar and scan for Tain’s signal. Instead, they find a huge-ass Jem’Hadar fleet who already thought of the hiding-in-the-nebula trick. Oops. They are immediately fired upon, tractored, boarded, and taken prisoner. Worf manages to get a distress call out before they’re taken, though it’s garbled by the nebula. However, Dax and O’Brien are able to clean it up enough to get the gist: a Jem’Hadar invasion force is en route.

Sisko puts the station on yellow alert, tells Dax to notify Starfleet, and sends Kira with the Defiant to try to find Worf in the GQ. Several listening posts in the GQ go dead, and Kira confirms the existence of the huge-ass Jem’Hadar fleet.

Dukat meets Ziyal after she goes to services. (He’s actually okay with her learning about Bajor’s “backwards superstitions” as she’s half Bajoran and that’s part of her heritage. He’s so enlightened…) He wants her to pack a bag and get on a transport to Cardassia. She’s not thrilled—she wasn’t exactly welcome on Cardassia last time she was there—and refuses to leave the station. Dukat insists that things will change on Cardassia, but Ziyal is equally insistent on staying. Garak also promised he’d return, and she promised to wait for him. Livid that she puts a promise to an enemy of their family over an order from her father, Dukat angrily tells her to stay and be damned.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on In Purgatory's Shadow

Meanwhile, Garak and Worf are brought to Interment Camp 371, from which there is no hope of parole or pardon. The only escape, according to Ikat’ika, the Jem’Hadar in charge, is death. There’s a ring where General Martok—the real one, as opposed to the changeling they killed in “Apocalypse Rising”; this one is missing his left eye—is fighting a Jem’Hadar. Ikat’ika assures Worf that he’ll get his turn in the ring, too. Martok realizes that if Worf is here, that the Cardassian with him must be Garak.

It turns out that Barracks 6, where Worf and Garak are assigned, is also where Martok is bunking, along with a Breen, a Romulan—and Tain. According to Martok, Tain was convinced that Garak would come. Tain is very ill, and he’s disappointed that all Garak was able to do was get himself captured.

Sisko calls a meeting in the wardroom. All they have to defend the station are the Defiant and Dukat’s ship. Starfleet is stretched thin between the ongoing Klingon conflict and the Borg invasion. The only option is to seal the wormhole. There’s a method of doing so that won’t harm the wormhole aliens, though Kira’s still not thrilled with the notion. But the alternative is worse, so O’Brien and Dax implement it.

Martok explains that each barracks has its own life support system from when this asteroid was a mine, and Tain converted it to a subspace transmitter. Another prisoner is released from isolation: Bashir, who’s still wearing his old uniform, meaning the Bashir that’s been on DS9 for the past few weeks is a changeling. (Dun dun dun!)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on In Purgatory's Shadow

Tain is dying. Garak goes to sit with him. He’s a bit delirious, asking Garak about things that happened years ago. Tain also asks that Garak live and survive and escape to get revenge. Garak agrees to do so but only if Tain acknowledges Garak as his son. (This revelation rather gobsmacks Bashir.) The best he can do is remembering a day when Garak was five and Tain was proud of him.

And then Tain dies.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on In Purgatory's Shadow

Worf and Martok enter, then. Garak says that his task here is done, and Worf says that now’s the time to break out of this jernt.

The fleet is near the mouth of the wormhole. O’Brien activates the emitters that will seal the wormhole—but then they blow out. O’Brien realizes that someone sabotaged it. (In an amusing touch, the changeling disguised as Bashir, who’s the one who committed the sabotage in question, said, “Here goes nothing,” right before O’Brien activated it.)

The fleet comes pouring through the wormhole. Sisko calls for battle stations.

To be continued…

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on In Purgatory's Shadow

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? The plan is to use the deflector emitters to seal a terminus of the wormhole without doing harm to the aliens/Prophets living inside. The theory is never tested, but it’s still better than the last method of sealing the wormhole that was proposed, back in “The Search, Part II,” which involves explosions and stuff.

The Sisko is of Bajor: Sisko is on the defensive throughout the episode, being purely reactive to what’s happening, but his defenses are good ones, trying to fortify the station, and doing everything he can to get as much information as he can.

Don’t ask my opinion next time: Kira tells Dukat that her only interest is in Ziyal’s welfare because she cares about her. Dukat tries to make it like she betrayed him, but she could give a good goddamn about him, and she makes it very clear that her interest in what matters to Dukat is nil.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on In Purgatory's Shadow

There is no honor in being pummeled: Worf assures Sisko that he will kill Garak at the first sign of trouble, but he will leave his body intact. When Sisko says he assumes that that’s a joke, Worf just says, “We will see.”

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on In Purgatory's Shadow

The slug in your belly: As Worf is prepping for his mission, Dax borrows his opera recordings. When Worf reluctantly reminds her that she tends to lose things, she smiles and says he’d better get his ass back fast if he wants to keep his collection intact. And then they smooch.

Preservation of mass and energy is for wimps: Odo is moving his jungle gym and such back into his quarters, since he’s a changeling again and can shapeshift around his cabin. He’s also getting rid of the bed, as even if he tries to fall asleep in it, he’ll revert to a gelatinous state and wind up a puddle on the floor.

For Cardassia! Cardassia’s fleet is in sufficient shambles that the only ship that can defend DS9 against a Dominion invasion, according to Dukat, is his stolen Bird-of-Prey. While Dukat’s statement is believable on the face of it—as seen particularly in “Rules of Engagement” and “Return to Grace,” Cardassia’s in bad shape—we’ll soon find out that there’s more to it than that.

Plain, simple: We find out that Garak is actually Tain’s son. Tain’s version of sentiment is to lament that he didn’t kill Garak’s mother before he was born, something he apparently said more than once to Garak in the past. Garak has continued to forgive Tain over the years for no obvious reason, and now we find out why: it’s filial devotion. While Tain doesn’t openly acknowledge his paternity—because he’s just not wired for anything other than obfuscation, as Odo snidely pointed out in “The Die is Cast”—he does recall the closest the two of them have to a happy child-parent moment before he dies.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on In Purgatory's Shadow

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Kira discovers that some of Odo’s light reading includes Finding and Winning Your Perfect Mate by Dr. Jennings Rain. Odo says that he was reading it because he thought he’d be a solid for the rest of his life, and might want to pursue a romance some day. He thinks such a thing is a lost cause now, though Kira assures him that that isn’t the case. This, by the way, is all some serious foreshadowing…

Meanwhile, Worf and Dax seem to have settled into their relationship nicely, and Ziyal’s crush on Garak is kinda adorable, and Garak’s honesty with her is refreshing, thus reducing the creep factor of their spectacular age difference.

Victory is life: The Dominion apparently likes to take prisoners for no given reason. Seriously, this is a prison camp with a huge infrastructure, and while I’m sure the fights in the ring are entertaining, I don’t see how it’s worth maintaining the prison. It does make sense to keep alive people who’ve been replaced by changelings like Bashir and Martok, as they can be used for reference by the shapeshifters, but that’s never explicitly stated.

Keep your ears open: “Elim, remember that day in the country? You must have been almost five.”

“How can I forget it? It was the only day.”

“I can still see you, on the back of that riding hound. You must’ve fallen off a dozen times. But you never gave up.”

“I remember limping home. You held my hand.”

“I was very proud of you, that day.”

Tain and Garak’s final conversation.

Welcome aboard: J.G. Hertzler is back for what turns out to be his first true appearance as Martok. Melanie Smith becomes the third and final person to play Ziyal (following Cyia Batten and Tracy Middendorf last season). James Horan—having previously appeared in TNG’s “Suspicions” and “Descent Part II” and Voyager’s “Fair Trade”—plays Ikat’ika. Cathy DeBuono and Carrie Stauber play the Breen and Romulan prisoners, respectively. And recurring regulars Marc Alaimo (Dukat), Andrew J. Robinson (Garak), and Paul Dooley (Tain) are here, as well. All save Dooley will return for “By Inferno’s Light.”

Trivial matters: This episode is dedicated to the memory of Derek Garth, a grip who was killed in a car accident during the filming of this episode.

We now get the reveal that the Bashir we’ve seen since (at least) “Rapture” is a changeling. We also get confirmation that Martok was not only a changeling in “Apocalypse Rising,” but also in “The Way of the Warrior,” since he does not recognize Worf.

This is the second time Bashir’s been replaced by a changeling. The first time happened in “The Adversary.”

The method of sealing the wormhole was developed by Dr. Lenara Kahn, last seen in “Rejoined.” Dax at one point comments when she and O’Brien are struggling with refitting the emitters that Kahn was always better on theory than execution, perhaps remembering the not-entirely-successful implementation of her plan in that episode.

Garak at one point makes disparaging remarks about Earl Grey tea, a cute dig at the drink that is the favorite of TNG’s Captain Picard.

Worf and Garak encounter toh-maire gas in the nebula, the same gas that Odo and Croden encountered in a GQ nebula in “Vortex.”

J.G. Hertzler is actually blind in his left eye, so having Martok lose that eye was not a hardship for the actor.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on In Purgatory's Shadow

The notion of Tain being Garak’s father was part of a pitch by Judy Klass, a Trek novelist. While Klass received no credit, she was paid for the use of her idea in the episode.

Garak references the colony of New Bajor, which was destroyed by the Dominion in “The Jem’Hadar,” as well as multiple references to the massacre in the Omarian Nebula in “The Die is Cast.” He also mentions several Starfleet ships that have gone missing in the GQ, though this is the first time anyone has ever mentioned that.

There are two references to Kang here, one direct—Martok was hunting on Kang’s Summit when he was captured by the Dominion—one indirect—Dukat’s “Stay here and be damned!” is an echo of a similar line Kang uttered to Dax in “Blood Oath.”

Tain’s survival shows that the female changeling was lying when she told Garak in “Broken Link” that nobody survived the Omarian Nebula massacre.

This is the only DS9 episode directed by Gabrielle Beaumont, who was the first woman to direct an episode of Star Trek when she directed TNG’s “Booby Trap.” She went on to direct six more episode of TNG, and will also direct a Voyager episode, “Blink of an Eye.”

Garak’s young life as Tain’s unacknowledged son and acknowledged protégé is chronicled in Andrew J. Robinson’s novel A Stitch in Time.

Walk with the Prophets: “A man shouldn’t allow his enemies to outlive him.” On the one hand, this episode is entirely setup. On the other hand, it’s superb setup, with a truly breathless cliffhanger that is muted now, seventeen years later, knowing the payoff, but when this episode first aired in 1997, I was devastated at where the episode ended, and genuinely unsure of how they would pull off the resolution. Watching it now, the hints are there—but we’ll get to that next time.

For now, we’ve got so many excellent pieces that are moved around the board, setting the future up brilliantly, all the while making great use of what’s come before. In the larger scale of things, we’ve got the Dominion mobilization that’s been lurking as a possibility in the background ever since “The Jem’Hadar,” and the fallout from the ill-fated Obsidian Order/Tal Shiar task force from “The Die is Cast.” On a smaller scale, there’s the ongoing developments among Dukat, Ziyal, Kira, and Garak, a storyline that developed through “Indiscretion,” “Return to Grace,” and “For the Cause,” there’s the mention of toh-maire gas from “Vortex,” and there’s the callback to “Rejoined” in the use of Kahn’s research.

My favorite callback, though, is to, of all things, “Shattered Mirror,” as we get the non-fun-house-mirror version of Worf-Garak interaction, starting with Garak’s entertainingly earnest plea to be sponsored to join Starfleet, and then to Garak more aggressively manipulating Worf into heading into the nebula. It’s especially funny that Garak plays Worf like a two-dollar banjo in a scene that starts with him disparaging Earl Grey tea, as that’s another callback, to Jean-Luc Picard, who so gleefully declared to Worf in “All Good Things…” that he could always use his knowledge of Klingon honor to manipulate Worf, mostly because it always worked—as it works for Garak here. But the scene picks up on the superb chemistry the two actors displayed as their Mirror Universe counterparts to good effect (much more so than the limper interaction they had in “Broken Link”).

And, of course, we have the amazing revelation that Bashir has been a changeling since some time after “The Ascent.” It ups the ante with the Dominion, especially since this Bashir is obviously a perfect impersonator (mostly because Alexander Siddig wasn’t told that he was a changeling infiltrator until the last minute). Well, okay, it either ups the ante or stretches disbelief, but then impersonating a doctor doesn’t seem far-fetched given what else the Dominion has done. They’ve crippled Cardassia and Romulus, they’ve sundered an alliance of seven decades’ standing between the Federation and the Klingons, they’ve done a ton of damage—and it’s only just now that they’re actually engaged in a major military maneuver. Yowza.

Things build expertly here to an explosive climax, but what makes the episode are the character moments: Worf and Dax’s tiff over Worf’s reluctance to tell Dax that he’s going on a dangerous mission, Dukat utterly failing to intimidate Kira because he labors under the delusion that she gives a damn about him, Garak and Ziyal’s scenes together, Garak and Bashir’s scenes together (both the real one and the fake one, both of which work superbly), Ziyal’s rebellion against her father’s wishes, and, most heartbreakingly, the final scene between Tain and Garak where we find out that Tain is Garak’s father, which just explains so much about the crazy-ass relationship these two have.

I haven’t even talked about how wonderful it is to see James Horan as a Jem’Hadar (though his awesomeness won’t be apparent until next time), or to have J.G. Hertzler back as the really-o-truly-o Martok (his presence is just amazing). There’s just so much here—and all of it’s “just” setup for what comes next…

Warp factor rating: 9

Keith R.A. DeCandido has a bunch of things coming out in the forthcoming months, including a Sleepy Hollow novel (based on the FOX TV series) Children of the Revolution; “Merciless,” a module for the Firefly: Echoes of War role-playing game; short stories in the anthologies Stargate: Far Horizons, Out of Tune, With Great Power, and V-Wars Volume 3; an essay in New Worlds and New Civilizations: Exploring Star Trek Comics; a short story collection entitled Without a License: The Fantastic Worlds of Keith R.A. DeCandido; and Mermaid Precinct, the next book in his series of fantasy police procedurals. Also check out his latest Star Trek book The Klingon Art of War (ordering links on his web site), which he talks about on several podcasts: The Chronic Rift, The G & T Show,Literary Treks” on TrekFM, TrekRadio, The Sci-Fi Diner, Two Geeks Talking, and Keith’s own Dead Kitchen Radio.


Back to the top of the page


Subscribe to this thread

Post a Comment

All comments must meet the community standards outlined in's Moderation Policy or be subject to moderation. Thank you for keeping the discussion, and our community, civil and respectful.

Hate the CAPTCHA? members can edit comments, skip the preview, and never have to prove they're not robots. Join now!

Our Privacy Notice has been updated to explain how we use cookies, which you accept by continuing to use this website. To withdraw your consent, see Your Choices.