“Treachery, Faith, and the Great River”
Written by Philip Kim and David Weddle & Bradley Thompson
Directed by Steve Posey
Season 7, Episode 6
Production episode 40510-556
Original air date: November 4, 1998
Station log: Odo has received a coded message from Gul Russol, one of his most reliable contacts in Cardassian space—and whom he thought was executed when Cardassia joined the Dominion. But he was Odo’s most reliable informant so he has to answer the call. He takes the Rio Grande to the rendezvous, only to find that Russol really is dead, and the message actually came from Weyoun—and he wants to defect. He claims that his life is in danger because he’s being scapegoated for the failure of the war to have already been won.
Sisko needs the Defiant’s malfunctioning gravity net to be working when he returns from a conference on Bajor in three days, but the quartermaster, Chief Willoughby, says it’ll take three weeks for the part to arrive. O’Brien has no idea how to make that happen—but Nog has a few ideas, and goes off to work his Ferengi magic, to O’Brien’s dread.
Nog befriends Willoughby which enables him to learn that the soonest he could provide a stabilizer is in one week—sooner than three weeks, but not soon enough for O’Brien to fix the Defiant in time. But Willoughby tells Nog that the Sentinel has a spare, and they just have to work a trade.
The Rio Grande is contacted by Damar—and another Weyoun. Turns out that the Weyoun who’s been prosecuting the war on behalf of the Dominion was Weyoun 5, now deceased. Odo is on the runabout with Weyoun 6, and the one with Damar is Weyoun 7, and he was activated when #6 was deemed to be defective, which explains his attempt to betray the Dominion. #7 orders #6 to trigger his termination implant, but #6 will only take orders from Odo.
#6 explains that, from the moment of his activation, he’s felt that the Founders’ war on the Federation was wrong and misguided, and that they should try to live in peace with the solids. Meanwhile, #7 is concerned, as he can’t allow Odo to be killed—but Damar insists that, if Odo doesn’t turn #6 over, they must destroy the Rio Grande. Eventually, Weyoun comes around to Damar’s point of view, as the alternative—a Weyoun in Federation hands—is too terrible to contemplate.
O’Brien reports to Ops to discover that Sisko’s desk has gone missing—and O’Brien’s authorization code (which he gave to Nog) is on the order. Kira tells O’Brien that the desk better be back when Sisko returns in two days. Nog explains to an annoyed O’Brien that he just loaned the desk to Chief Lorenzo of Decos Prime. Lorenzo collects holophotos of himself sitting behind the desks of Starfleet captains (his collection includes DeSoto and Picard). In exchange, Lorenzo will get them an induction modulator, which Nog can trade to the Musashi for a phaser emitter, which the Sentinel needs—and they have the graviton stabilizer the Defiant needs. Cha cha cha.
On the Rio Grande, #6 awakens from a nightmare, in which he was lost and being chased by either Jem’Hadar or Klingons. A Jem’Hadar ship catches up to the Rio Grande and fires on them. #6 tells Odo how to destroy the ship, and they live another day. In response, Damar and #7 prepare to send an entire battalion—and then the female changeling enters. Damar and #7 bullshit their way past the notion of Odo being fired upon. However, the female changeling’s skin looks parched and dried out. She fixes it when Damar points it out, and she orders the temperature lowered, but Damar is suspicious.
#6 tells Odo of the story of how the Vorta were created. Once they were simple apelike tree-dwellers, who took in a wounded changeling who was being chased by a mob of angry solids. In return, the changeling promised that the Vorta would be part of a great empire some day. Eventually, that changeling’s promise was fulfilled, and the Vorta made into the Founders’ right hands. He also reveals that the female changeling’s skin condition is (as Damar suspects) part of something bigger. The entire Great Link is suffering from a debilitating disease. Odo doesn’t appear to have it, which #6 sees as an opportunity for him to take over the Dominion and rule it with a kinder, more compassionate hand.
Four Jem’Hadar ships close in on the runabout. Odo tries to hide in a comet, specifically taking refuge in a crevasse in an ice fragment, with the power down. This works for a while, but eventually the Jem’Hadar just start randomly destroying ice fragments. Realizing the jig is up, Odo makes a run for it. But #6 realizes that they have no chance, and so he contacts #7 and Damar and activates his termination implant in front of them, proving he’s loyal to the Dominion. Against Damar’s better judgment, #7 calls off the Jem’Hadar ships. #6’s final wish is for Odo to give him his blessing, and so he dies happy.
To O’Brien’s surprise, Nog has left the station on a runabout—and to Martok’s surprise, his sixteen cases of bloodwine, sent to him by Sirella, have gone missing. Martok and Worf make it abundantly clear to O’Brien that he has one day to get the bloodwine back.
Sisko returns to the station and summons O’Brien to his office. Fearing the worst, O’Brien is relieved to enter an office that has an actual desk. Nog also was able to get the stabilizer and, as an added bonus, Nog replaced the missing bloodwine with a much better vintage, to Martok’s glee. So all’s well with the world.
Odo tells Kira about what happened. He can’t stop thinking about the look of contentment on #6’s face when he died, and he can’t stop worrying about his people. He also bleakly realizes that no matter which side wins the war, he’s going to lose.
Can’t we just reverse the polarity? It’s never made clear what, exactly, O’Brien and Nog are doing on the Promenade that requires shutting it down and spreading conduits all over the deck, but it is amusing to look at…
Don’t ask my opinion next time: Kira reminds Odo that, even if he doesn’t see himself and his fellow changelings as gods, Weyoun does, and his faith is very real, just as her faith in the Prophets is real.
Preservation of mass and energy is for wimps: Odo spends the entire episode denying that he’s a god, and Weyoun #6 spends the entire episode insisting that he is (even crediting his notion to hide in an ice crevasse to be something only a god would think of). In the end, he embraces divinity for at least half a second in order to give #6 his dying wish.
Rules of Acquisition: We get the 168th Rule, “Whisper your way to success,” and also learn of the Great Material Continuum, the force that binds the universe together: all the worlds in the universe have too much of one thing and not enough of other things, and the Continuum is like a river that goes from “have” to “want” and back again.
Victory is life: The Jem’Hadar who are sent after the Rio Grande are instructed to fire on the runabout as soon as they see it, and to jam communications, which keeps them from finding out that there’s a Founder on board. Weyoun 7 and Damar also keep that knowledge from the female changeling. (Meanwhile, #6 actually refers to her as “the female changeling,” which sounds exactly as absurd as you think it does.)
For Cardassia! Weyoun 7 says that #5 was killed in a transporter accident, and he looks right at Damar when he discusses it, though Damar unconvincingly (or uncaringly?) insists there was no foul play involved.
Tough little ship: The Defiant’s gravity is off-kilter, which does not make Sisko happy.
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Kira’s reward for losing to Odo at springball is a massage as only a shape-changer can manage. Woo hoo!
Keep your ears open: “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”
“Chief, I can’t operate under those kinds of restrictions.”
O’Brien and Nog discussing scrounging methods.
Welcome aboard: Jeffrey Combs does double duty as two different Weyouns, while the rest of the guest cast includes other recurring regulars Casey Biggs as Damar, Aron Eisenberg as Nog, Max Grodénchik as Rom, J.G. Hertzler as Martok, and Salome Jens as the female changeling.
Trivial matters: While Weyoun’s reappearance after being vaporized in “To the Death” established that Vorta are cloned and reused, as it were, this is the first time since “Ties of Blood and Water” that it has been a plot point, as we have both the sixth and seventh iterations of Weyoun. We also get the Vorta’s origin—or, at the very least, their creation myth.
This episode establishes that the Founders are suffering from a virus. This virus will continue to recur for the rest of the series, and play into the resolution of the war in the final episode “What You Leave Behind.”
Captain Robert DeSoto was first mentioned in “Encounter at Farpoint” as the CO of the Hood, under whom Riker had served as first officer before coming to the Enterprise, and an old friend of Picard’s. He’s referenced several times on TNG, and also seen in “Tin Man.”
The O’Brien-Nog B-story was inspired by Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, specifically the Milo Minderbinder character, as well as the sort of wheeling-dealing that was done by both Radar O’Reilly and Max Klinger on M*A*S*H.
It’s never made clear whether or not Russol is the informant Odo consulted in “Improbable Cause,” though Odo’s rendezvous appears to be in the same spot as the rendezvous in that episode.
Weyoun’s suggestion that Odo take command of the Dominion is something that sorta-kinda happens in the post-finale DS9 fiction, specifically Olympus Descending by David R. George III in Worlds of DS9 Volume 3.
The Sentinel is established in the Starfleet Corps of Engineers series as being the post Sonya Gomez (from TNG’s “Q Who”) served on as chief engineer during the Dominion War. The ship itself is seen, along with the Musashi, in War Stories by your humble rewatcher. The Sentinel is also seen in the games Armada, Invasion, and Starfleet Academy while the Musashi is seen in Star Trek Online.
Walk with the Prophets: “I don’t think the universe is ready for two Weyouns.” There’s one rather major glaring flaw in this episode: the Federation of the 24th century has replicators. Big ones, small ones—there are some things they can’t make (like whatever part it was that prompted the trip to Empok Nor in that station’s eponymous episode), but for the most part? Supply issues aren’t actually an issue.
Which is too bad, because it pretty much torpedoes the entire B-plot. Every single item Nog mentions in his little scrounge-fest is something that they should be able to replicate—including Sisko’s desk. O’Brien’s silly fake desk should never even happen, because he should be able to replicate an exact duplicate of Sisko’s desk.
Which is really too bad, because the B-plot is an absolute delight. Watching Nog put Ferengi instincts to the time-honored military traditions of scrounging is a total joy—once you shut your brain off and pretend that they don’t have replicators in the future. Le sigh. Still, lotsa fun.
And the A-plot is superb. In a wide field of amazing actors on this show, Jeffrey Combs stands out as a treasure. He gets to play two different Weyouns, and it’s to his credit that they’re very obviously different, yet just as obviously the same basic person. Seeing the two of him is a treat.
Combs is also at his best when he has someone to play off of. For a while it was Marc Alaimo’s Dukat, then Casey Biggs’s Damar, and every scene he’s had with Avery Brooks’s Sisko has been gold—and some of his best have been with Rene Auberjonois’s Odo, first seen back in “To the Death” and on great display here.
On top of all this, we get important bits of Dominion and Ferengi mythology (the Great Material Continuum is fantastic, just the perfect Ferengi notion), and we get some significant movement on the Dominion War for the first time since “Tears of the Prophets,” as we learn that the Founders are suffering a debilitating disease. This will be important…
Warp factor rating: 7
Keith R.A. DeCandido has a story called “Fish Out of Water” in the new Jonathan Maberry-edited anthology Out of Tune from JournalStone, which features Cassie Zukav. Other Cassie stories, which take place in Key West and feature scuba diving, Norse gods, rock music, folklore, and beer drinking (not necessarily in that order) can be found in the collection Ragnarok and Roll: Tales of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet from Plus One Press.