“Favor the Bold”
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
Season 6, Episode 5
Production number 40510-529
Original air date: October 27, 1997
Station log: The Defiant is adrift and venting plasma, with shields at 30% and no weapons. Two Jem’Hadar ships fire on them—and then the Rotarran decloaks and destroys one ship while the Defiant powers up shields and weapons and destroys the other. The decoy worked.
They’re both then recalled to Starbase 375, yet another retreat after an engagement. Dax rants at Sisko about how this constant retreating is killing morale, and they need a big victory. Sisko then announces to Dax that he’s planning one: he’s presenting a plan to Admirals Ross, Sitak, and Coburn to retake Deep Space 9. Ross is on Sisko’s side, but Sitak and Coburn are skeptical. Sitak is concerned about the resistance they’ll face, and Coburn is worried that they’re leaving Earth vulnerable. But Sisko points out that control of the wormhole is too important. The Dominion will defend that territory at all costs.
Starfleet Command eventually agrees, but the plan relies on having a fleet of Klingon Defense Force ships, and Gowron is unwilling to commit that many vessels. Martok and Worf travel to Qo’noS to plea to the chancellor personally, on the theory that an ally he respects (Martok) and an enemy he despises (Worf) both telling him the same thing will convince him to accede.
Quark and Kira try to go see Odo to confront him about Rom’s imprisonment, but his quarters are guarded by a Jem’Hadar and a Bajoran security guard. The Bajoran apologetically explains that Odo gave strict instructions not to be disturbed by anyone until the female changeling leaves his quarters. Of course, she hasn’t actually left his quarters any time in the past three days…
Inside, we discover that Odo and the female Founder have had sex in the manner of humans and Bajorans, which the latter has found endlessly fascinating and enlightening. Proving he’s not totally gone, Odo refuses to discuss his regrets about not having copulated with Kira, not even with the female changeling, while she—having been separated from the Great Link for months—appreciates how alone Odo must be without it.
Odo also is shocked to learn that three days have passed without his realizing it. But the female changeling dismisses his worries, as the solids’ concept of time and schedules is no concern of his.
Kira goes to Weyoun to plead on Rom’s behalf, hoping that the fact that he’s married to a Bajoran citizen would help, but Weyoun is adamant that he not only stay imprisoned, but be executed, not only for his sabotage, but because he’s the one who came up with the self-replicating mines in the first place.
Quark and Leeta visit Rom, who is pretty fatalistic about his impending doom, but Quark is determined to free Rom somehow. But Rom doesn’t want to be freed, he wants Quark to finish his sabotage.
Kira talks to Ziyal for the first time in weeks, asking her to plead to Dukat on Rom’s behalf. Ziyal tells Dukat that it’s a chance to show the Bajorans that he’s the forgiving, compassionate person he insists that he is, not the monster the Bajorans view him as. Dukat’s response is to ask if Ziyal was in any way involved with Rom’s sabotage, which doesn’t thrill Ziyal, and she storms out when Dukat makes it clear that enemies of the state must be punished.
Once again, Quark is able to loosen Damar’s tongue with kanar, and he finds out that the minefield will be down in a week. They need to warn Starfleet, and a method is provided by Jake: Morn is going to visit his mother for her birthday, and he is taking an ecrypted message to Sisko—which now will include a warning about how soon the minefield will be down. Upon receiving this intel, Ross approves of Sisko going ahead with the attack, even though they have neither the Ninth Fleet (they’re a day behind) nor the Klingons (no word from Martok and Worf yet).
Damar reports to Weyoun and Dukat that two of Starfleet’s fleets have broken off from the front and converged on Starbase 375. Dukat then orders a very reluctant Damar to talk to Ziyal and convince her to talk to Dukat again. When Damar finds her, she’s with Kira and she refuses to go. Damar tries to appeal to her sense of loyalty (they need to present a united front to the Dominion lest their new allies turn on them), and when that doesn’t work he tries an insulting form of gratitude (he should’ve left her in the Breen prison, but he didn’t, he took pity on her, and she should be grateful, dagnabbit), and when that doesn’t work, he just grabs her to force her to go, at which point Kira beats the crap out of him.
Nog has been promoted to ensign, and he thanks O’Brien for all he’s taught him. Sisko and Garak also board the Defiant, and Sisko once again takes command, leading a huge-ass fleet of Starfleet ships toward the Bajoran sector.
Dukat gets Weyoun’s permission to divert ships from the front lines to defend the station against Starfleet, and then a bruised Damar informs Dukat that his attempt to get Ziyal to talk to her father failed rather dismally.
Odo and the female changeling stand at Jake and Nog’s old spot overlooking the Promenade. Odo sees solids so much differently now, and the female changeling makes a comment about breaking them of their silly little dependence on freedom. When Odo looks askance at that comment, the Founder dismisses it as the imprecision of verbal communication, and then dismisses Odo so she can talk to Weyoun. For his part, Odo seeks out Kira and makes a truly pathetic attempt to apologize, but Kira angrily points out that they’re way way past “sorry.”
The fleet proceeds to DS9, though eleven ships have had to break formation to repair battle damage that wasn’t totally fixed when they embarked. O’Brien detects a fleet heading toward them that outnumbers them two to one. Sisko orders an attack formation, and to battle they go.
To be continued…
The Sisko is of Bajor: At one point, Sisko waxes rhapsodic on the subject of Bajor to Ross, announcing that he intends to purchase land there and build a house. Even if he’s assigned somewhere other than DS9 in the future, home will be Bajor.
Don’t ask my opinion next time: Busy episode for Kira, who gets to appeal to Weyoun, conspire with Quark and Jake, beat the crap out of Damar, and yell at Odo.
The slug in your belly: Dax’s rant to Sisko at the beginning is hilarious, referring to “you brass hats at Starfleet Command,” and referring to herself as a simple field officer.
Preservation of matter and energy is for wimps: Weyoun assumes that the female changeling’s seduction of Odo is to neutralize him as a threat to the war effort, but the Founder doesn’t care about that, she just wants Odo to return to the Great Link, which is the most important concern for the Founders. (Neutralizing Odo’s threat to the war effort is just a fortuitous side effect.)
Rules of Acquisition: Quark has asked the Grand Nagus to buy Rom’s freedom, though that’s not really how the Dominion does business (so to speak), and at one point, Quark hires five Nausicaans to break Rom out, but Kira convinces him that that’s a bad idea. (Quark wonders if he can get his money back from the Nausicaans…)
Plain, simple: Garak is convinced that Starfleet Intelligence has put a neural implant to read his thoughts in his brain, mainly because that’s the sort of thing he would’ve done when he was with the Obsidian Order. And he’s generally not pleased at being interrogated by SI, as he likes being the interrogator better.
Victory is life: The Founders bred the Vorta to have no sense of aesthetics and weak eyesight, but superb hearing.
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Odo and the female changeling have sex in the manner of humanoid solids. The number of levels on which that is wrong are far too numerous to count…
Keep your ears open: “Can you believe it? They made me an ensign.”
“I didn’t realize that things were going so bad.”
“Scary, isn’t it?”
Nog and O’Brien discussing the former’s field promotion.
Welcome aboard: There are eleven guests listed in this episode, and they’re all recurring regulars: Marc Alaimo, Casey Biggs, Jeffrey Combs, Aron Eisenberg, Max Grodénchik, J.G. Hertzler, Barry Jenner, Salome Jens, Chase Masterson, Andrew J. Robinson, and Melanie Smith. In addition, Bart McCarthy and Ericka Klein play the two admirals, Coburn and Sitak.
Trivial matters: The original plan was for the Dominion occupation of DS9/Terok Nor to be a four-episode arc, but as they were breaking stories, they decided to make it five episodes. And then when they got to the retaking of the station, they realized they had too much for a single hour and so expanded it out to this and “Sacrifice of Angels.”
The title derives from Book 10 of Virgil’s The Aeneid, “audentes fortuna iuvat,” general translated as “fortune favors the bold.” Sisko quotes the line at the end of the episode.
The character of Admiral Coburn was named after actor James Coburn, whose character in the movie Midway poses a similar objection to Admiral Nimitz, because it would leave Hawai’i vulnerable. Of course, Coburn’s concerns are not entirely unwarranted—the Dominion will eventually make a strike on Earth, as we’ll see in “The Changing Face of Evil.”
Nog gets a field promotion to ensign in this episode, which means that he outranks both O’Brien and his father. O’Brien had lamented in “Facets” that he was eventually going to have call Nog “sir,” and that day has come sooner than expected thanks to the war.
The female changeling’s statement that the Founders consider getting Odo to return to the Great Link to be of greater import even than conquering the Alpha Quadrant will play a part in how the war ends in “What You Leave Behind.”
Among the ships in the fleet are the Cortez and the Sarek. The former is presumably named after the conquistador who conquered Mexico for the King of Castile in the 16th century (the episode’s co-writer, Hans Beimler, was born in Mexico City). The latter is named after the Federation ambassador and father of Spock who appeared in the episodes “Journey to Babel,” “Yesteryear,” “Sarek,” and “Unification I,” as well as five of the feature films.
Sisko will fulfill his promise to himself to buy land on Bajor in “Penumbra.”
Walk with the Prophets: “Earth isn’t the key to the Alpha Quadrant—the wormhole is.” The perfect first part of a second parter, this has everything coming together and building to a slam-bang conclusion. The tension is thick and taut throughout the episode, as the storm is coming…
But that’s not what makes the episode shine. No, it’s the little character moments.
First we have Quark, who is willing to do anything he can to save Rom. However, since this is Quark we’re talking about, “anything he can” mostly involves spending money, whether his own (on the Nausicaan thugs) or Zek’s (the Grand Nagus’s offer to buy Rom’s freedom). He’s unwilling to actually complete Rom’s sabotage. (Plus, y’know, he doesn’t have anything like the technical skill…)
Then there’s Damar. We actually learn quite a bit about Damar. That celebratory kanar last time wasn’t an isolated incident. He comes out and says to Ziyal that he doesn’t trust the Dominion for a second when he urges her to help present a united front so that their new allies don’t smell weakness and strike. Damar generally carries the air of someone who doesn’t want to put up with anyone who gets in the way of his serving Dukat, whether it’s Weyoun, Kira, or Ziyal. Indeed, his head is so far up Dukat’s ass his nose is sticking out of Dukat’s belly button.
We also walk back Odo’s betrayal a bit as he starts to come out of his little fugue state and realize just what’s going on around him. The first step on the road back to himself is realizing that he totally lost track of three days. Then there’s the female changeling’s little line about breaking the solids of their reliance on freedom. It’s the first misstep in the female changeling’s seduction of Odo, though it comes from a place of honesty. The Founder’s motives are pretty transparent: she wants Odo back. But she isn’t about to change who and what she and the other Founders are, and Odo finally begins to remember exactly who and what that is.
Meanwhile, Kira is working every angle she can, trying to plead with Weyoun, work with the Council of Ministers, smuggle messages to Sisko (you gotta love that Jake’s the one who comes up with a way to get a message out, and it’s basically via his being a friendly, chatty person), end her self-imposed avoidance of Ziyal to get her to appeal to what passes for her father’s better nature, and making sure to take the time to yell at Odo and beat the crap out of Damar for good measure.
Not every character beat works as well as others. Nog’s promotion to ensign is a cool thing, though it seems a bit like a writer’s trick to keep the character around, Sisko’s eloquent singing of Bajor’s praises seem a bit out-of-left-fieldish, Weyoun spends the entire episode talking in exposition about the Vorta and it’s really obvious (seriously, it’s like he’s reading off statistics from his character sheet), and Garak probably should’ve had Bashir check his head, not for a neural implant, but a device that forced him to speak in irritating clichéd platitudes. (“I hope for the best but expect the worst”? That’s really the best that Garak of all people can come up with?)
Still, an exciting beginning and middle, just waiting for the end…
Warp factor rating: 7
Keith R.A. DeCandido will be at Dragon Con 2014 next weekend. His full, and rather insane, schedule can be found here. Note that he’ll have copies of many of his books, among them The Klingon Art of War and Farscape: The War for the Uncharted Territories, with him for sale at the convention.