“When It Rains…”
Written by Rene Echevarria & Spike Steingasser
Directed by Michael Dorn
Season 7, Episode 21
Production episode 40510-571
Original air date: May 5, 1999
Station log: O’Brien meets with Sisko, Ross, Martok, and Sub-commander Velal of the Romulans, going over the battle at Chin’toka. One Klingon ship, the Ki’tang, made an adjustment to the engines that made it immune to the Breen energy-dampening weapon. All Klingon Defense Force vessels are being similarly modified, but like modifications won’t work on Starfleet or Romulan vessels, though O’Brien assures everyone that they’re working on it. Meanwhile, the Klingons are the only ones who can effectively fight the Dominion for now.
Unfortunately, just the Klingons against the Cardassians, Breen, and Jem’Hadar is pretty long odds. Martok plans to make quick attack runs with small groups of ships to keep the Dominion off balance and prevent them from launching a major offensive.
They’ve also got Damar’s resistance, which is not going as well as hoped because he’s using straight-up military combat tactics rather than guerrilla ones. They need someone to show them how it’s done, so Sisko sends Kira. The irony of her teaching Cardassians how to fight a rebellion using the same tactics she and the rest of the Bajoran underground used against the Cardassians themselves is not lost on Sisko or Kira, nor is Kira thrilled at the notion of working with the man who murdered Ziyal, but she follows orders. At Sisko’s suggestion, Kira recruits Garak to try to locate Damar—he and his people went into hiding after the attack on Rondac III.
Bashir is trying to find a way to improve their ability to replace organs, and he thinks that changeling biology may hold the key, so he asks Odo for a sample of his form. Odo acquiesces by giving him a cup of goo, but he says he wants the sample back when he, Kira, and Garak return—Kira has asked Odo to accompany her, as she feels he’ll be useful.
On Bajor, Winn talks with Bajoran security about Solbor, whom she has reported missing in order to aid in the coverup of her murdering him. She also refuses to let Dukat touch her—she may have gone over to the dark side, but she hasn’t forgotten who Dukat is and what he’s done. Winn also rejects Dukat’s offer to help decipher the text of the Kosst Amojan, as the words are for her eyes only.
Garak has located Damar and spoken with him, and the ex-legate welcomes the assistance. However, while Damar himself recognizes Kira’s skills and the need for her to lead the mission, he’s worried that his fellow Cardassians won’t take orders from a colonel in the Bajoran Militia, as they view the very existence of the Militia to be an affront. Sisko’s solution: give Kira a Starfleet battlefield commission, so now they can take orders from a commander in Starfleet instead. In a similar vein, Odo changes his appearance so that his “clothes” are the same drab green outfit he wore when he served as chief of security under the Cardassians.
Sure enough, Garak’s words are proven right, as Rusot bitches to Damar about accepting help from Kira. For that matter, he bitches about accepting help from the Federation in general—Kira’s team is bringing a food replicator—but Damar reminds him that they have to put old hatreds aside if they’re going to win.
Gowron arrives at the station, ostensibly to award Martok the Star of Kahless, a great honor. However, after a night of drinking and the performance of the ritual—which, to Sisko and Ross’s dismay, includes bloodletting—Gowron announces that he’s taking over the running of the war personally. He couches it in terms of freeing Martok to just be a warrior rather than a bureaucrat, but it’s obvious that he wants the glory of victory. Martok is not at all happy about this, but even though Gowron is more politican than warrior, he is also chancellor, and Martok will obey.
Bashir analyzes the Odo sample, and is devastated to realize that Odo has the same disease that is afflicting the other Founders. He contacts the runabout, informing Kira, Garak, and Odo (en route to Damar’s hideout), and also assuring them that he’s working on a cure. Starfleet Medical did a full workup of Odo a few years earlier, and Bashir can compare those records to the current sample, and it might help him find a way to stop it.
Unfortunately, Bashir finds himself stonewalled. Odo’s medical records are classified, and Bashir isn’t cleared to see them. What’s more, Commander Hilliard sees no reason to give Bashir assistance in an attempt to cure a disease that is ravaging the enemy. O’Brien theorizes that it’s typical bureaucratic nonsense, heightened by the attack on Starfleet Headquarters—as he says, guys like Hilliard are used to sitting at their desks, not under them.
However, it turns out that Sisko has sufficient clearance to see the files in question, and Hilliard is forced to accede to the captain’s request. But when Bashir examines the files, he realizes that it’s not the scan from three years earlier, but a copy of Dr. Mora’s original scan of Odo made when he found him, which Mora shared with Bashir when he first came to the station seven years earlier. Starfleet Medical wouldn’t fake a record like this—but Section 31 might, in order to keep Bashir from finding a cure.
Kira, Garak, and Odo arrive at the headquarters of the Cardassian Liberation Front, a hifalutin name for a big cave. Everyone is guardedly polite to each other (except Rusot, who’s guardedly snotty). Kira then lays out what they need to do: have a decentralized network rather than a single base, cells of ten to twenty people working autonomously, making them harder to track.
Damar’s people are unwilling to attack any target guarded by Cardassian forces, wanting to limit themselves to those protected by the Jem’Hadar or Breen, but Kira reminds them that they don’t have that luxury. As soon as the Dominion realizes they’re not targeting Cardassians, they’ll post Cardassians at every outpost they can. Damar reluctantly agrees, to Rusot’s annoyance.
At night, Dukat sneaks into Winn’s office and takes a peek at the text of the Kosst Amojan—which immediately blinds him. Dukat’s screams awaken Winn, who goes all Enchanter Tim on him (“I warned you!”). Winn takes great pleasure in taunting the blind Dukat—and the doctors can find nothing actually wrong with his eyes—and then she turns him out onto the street. He will remain there as a beggar until the Pah-wraiths forgive him and give him his sight back.
Seskal and Rusot decide to taunt Odo a bit, wondering why he didn’t resign as a Cardassian officer, and why Kira doesn’t consider him a collaborator just as bad as the ones she killed. Odo and Garak talk Kira into not starting a fight. After Odo calms her down in a supply room, he notices that he’s starting to show the first symptoms of the disease.
Gowron announces to Martok and Worf that they aren’t just going to hold the line against the Dominion, but go on the offensive. They will triumph without any help from the Federation or the Romulans. Martok’s complaint that they’re outnumbered twenty to one falls on deaf ears.
Bashir and O’Brien realize that Odo first got the disease three years ago on the very day that he visited Starfleet Medical. They deduce that Section 31 gave Odo the disease with the intention of wiping out the Founders. That’s why they’re covering it up—they don’t want to stop him from finding the cure, they want to cover up that they created the disease in the first place.
Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Apparently, the way to defend against the Breen energy weapon is to adjust the tritium intermix in the warp core. At least on a Klingon ship…
The Sisko is of Bajor: Sisko takes great pleasure in guiding Ross through the more unpleasant aspects of a Klingon ceremony. When Ross complains that his hand still stings from being sliced open earlier, Sisko smiles and says, “That’s what the bloodwine is for.”
Don’t ask my opinion next time: Kira is less than thrilled about having to teach Cardassians how to do what she did to get rid of the Cardassians, and Rusot and Seskal acting like assholes doesn’t help.
There is no honor in being pummeled: Gowron gives Worf the stinkeye when he first boards the station, but since Martok has accepted him into his House, Gowron is willing to overlook what he views as Worf’s betrayal.
Preservation of mass and energy is for wimps: Odo starts getting symptoms of the disease shortly after hearing about it, which is an amazing coincidence…
Rules of Acquisition: Quark, having heard that Odo was ill, brings coffee to Bashir and O’Brien, since he assumes they’re working on a cure.
Plain, simple: Garak tells Rusot that he’s lucky he and Odo were able to rein Kira in, because she would have killed him. Rusot says he only wishes she’d try, to which Garak can only sadly shake his head.
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Bashir thinks Dax has been avoiding him. But every time he tries to confront her about it, he’s called away—including this time to deal with the revelation that Odo is suffering from the disease afflicting the Founders.
Victory is life: The Dominion is mounting an offensive, since two-thirds of their enemy is helpless against the Breen weapon. Gowron thinks this is a dandy time to mount an offensive of his own even though he’s badly outnumbered.
For Cardassia! Damar is open to Kira’s recommendations, and also in general goes out of his way to be accommodating to her—which is good, as no one else is. Damar even thinks to have a cooling unit around for Kira to use, since Bajorans don’t like heat as much as Cardassians.
Keep your ears open: “I need to borrow a cup of goo.”
“I’ll give it back!”
Bashir asking Odo for a sample of his body.
Welcome aboard: Robert O’Reilly (Gowron) and Andrew J. Robinson (Garak) show up for the first time in the closing arc, while Marc Alaimo (Dukat), Casey Biggs (Damar), Louise Fletcher (Winn), J.G. Hertzler (Martok), Barry Jenner (Ross), and John Vickery (Rusot) are back for more.
In addition, Scott Burkholder and Colby French play the Starfleet bureaucrats who stonewall Bashir, Stephen Yoakum plays Velal, and the mighty Vaughn Armstrong shows up as Seskal, his fourth of what will eventually be a dozen different roles on the various Trek series (including previously playing a different Cardassian, Danar, in “Past Prologue”).
Trivial matters: The original plan was for Damar to work as a double agent, pretending to still be Weyoun’s toady while running the resistance, but that meant he wouldn’t interact with any of the main cast, so it was changed to him running an underground resistance. This led to a change in the upcoming “Extreme Measures,” since the original plan was for Kira and Odo to search for a cure for the virus, and it wound up being O’Brien and Bashir instead, since Kira and Odo (along with Garak) were off helping Damar.
Odo was infected with the morphogenic virus when he was on Earth during “Homefront” and “Paradise Lost,” during which he was subjected to many medical tests, any one of which could’ve been a cover to give him the disease. He subsequently infected the Great Link in “Broken Link.” It is likely that Odo gave the disease to Laas in “Chimera,” but the novels Avatar Book 2 by S.D. Perry and Olympus Descending by David R. George III (in Worlds of DS9 Volume 3) established that Laas returned to the Great Link after the war and therefore received the same cure that Odo will provide for the Great Link in “What You Leave Behind.”
Ziyal was killed in “Sacrifice of Angels.” Both Nana Visitor and Andrew J. Robinson felt there should have been a scene where either Kira or Garak or both confronted Damar about that, but it didn’t really fit in the dynamic of the scenes with the resistance.
Velal was mentioned as temporarily replacing Cretak as the Romulan representative on the station in “Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges,” and he apparently got the position full-time after her arrest.
The chief engineer of the Ki’tang who discovered how to counter the Breen energy weapon was named by your humble rewatcher in The Klingon Art of War: B’Entra. The same book established that she was enshrined with a statue in the Hall of Warriors thanks to this discovery.
While aiding Damar, Odo “wears” the same clothes he wore in the flashbacks in “Necessary Evil.”
Worf was exiled from the Klingon Empire in “The Way of the Warrior” for not supporting Gowron’s invasion of Cardassia, and Gowron made it clear in “Apocalypse Rising” that the exposure of the Martok changeling did nothing to change Worf’s status. He made part of Martok’s House in “Soldiers of the Empire.”
Walk with the Prophets: “You’re going to have to put your personal feelings aside.” On the one hand, this episode feels like “Penumbra” all over again, as it’s all setup. The first four episodes of the closing arc were written at once, and they do kind of form a unit. By the end of “The Changing Face of Evil,” the Breen have joined the Dominion, Damar has broken off, Sisko is married, and Worf and Dax have returned safely to the station.
Now we get some new plot threads started: Kira leading a team to show Damar how to run a resistance, Gowron horning in on Martok’s glory, Bashir discovering that not only does Odo have the Founders’ disease, but that he gave it to them thanks to Section 31. Plus, the Dukat-Winn plot gets a nasty twist as Dukat is blinded.
I listed those in descending order of how interesting they are. Dukat being blinded by reading the Kosst Amojan text is actually kind of fun in and of itself, especially the evil glee Winn takes in it, and also in sending him out to beg on the street. But this is a case where background knowledge and knowledge of what is to come is detrimental, because it turns out that Rene Echevarria did that because the Dukat-Winn plot had nowhere to go until the finale, so the Dukat-goes-blind thing was a way to keep that subplot off stage for the next three episodes until it will be back in the finale. And so instead of leading to the fun of watching Dukat be forced to beg on the streets of the planet he subjugated, it just leads to forgetting about the Pah-wraiths plot. Which is actually okay, as far as that goes, but it feels like a missed opportunity.
Then again, we’ve got our fill of irony in Kira being sent to tutor Damar in how to be a rebel. This entire plotline is just perfect, with Kira coming full circle, as well as showing Damar’s continued maturation. He can’t afford to be the Cardassian thug anymore. Rusot and Seskal do a nice job of being what Damar used to be. All these scenes shine beautifully, aided by some truly stellar performances by a tense Kira, a snotty Garak, a calm Odo, a hidebound Rusot, and a determined Damar to create a lovely stew of tension that you know is going to boil over.
Way back in “Reunion,” Gowron was first described by Worf as an outsider who had often challenged the High Council, and ever since ascending to the chancellorship in that very episode, he’s been more politician than warrior, from rewriting history to glorify himself, as established in “Unification I” to his response to the clone of Kahless in “Rightful Heir” to his manipulating events in general and Worf in particular in “The Way of the Warrior.” Here, he continues his ways, snatching Martok’s glory for himself and then channeling General Melchett with his insane strategy…
That leaves us with the Founders disease which turns out to be an evil Section 31 plot. Y’know, it’s been a decade and a half since I saw this episode the first time, and I still don’t know how I feel about it. It definitely ups the stakes, as Bashir and O’Brien’s fight to save their friend takes on a much more dangerous tenor once 31’s involvement comes into it, and we know how ruthless they are, but—well, it’s still Section bloody 31, which remains a poor plot device and a vehicle for lazy storytelling more often than not. But this plot also gives us Odo angst, which is always fun, and several opportunities for Bashir and O’Brien to sit in a room babbling at each other, which is also always fun. So, y’know, whatever.
The momentum has been building nicely over these first five stories, and that makes this particular setup episode more tolerable, especially since its best parts—the Klingon and Cardassian storylines—are building to something amazing next time…
Warp factor rating: 7
Keith R.A. DeCandido will be a guest at Farpoint 22 next weekend in Timonium, Maryland, both as an author and a musician as part of the Boogie Knights. Other guests include actors Tim Russ and Colin Ferguson, author Timothy Zahn, Klingon language guru Marc Okrand, and fellow Trek fictioneers Rigel Ailur, Peter David, Michael Jan Friedman, Dave Galanter, Allyn Gibson, Robert Greenberger, Glenn Hauman, Robert T. Jeschonek, David Mack, Aaron Rosenberg, Howard Weinstein, Richard C. White, and Steven H. Wilson, and tons and tons more.