“Tacking Into the Wind”
Written by Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Mike Vejar
Season 7, Episode 22
Production episode 40510-572
Original air date: May 12, 1999
Station log: Kira goes over the footage of an act of sabotage Damar’s resistance committed on a Jem’Hadar ship. They put the bomb in the wrong place. It worked anyhow, because the Jem’Hadar security missed it, but Kira rebukes Rusot for his people not following instructions as to where to place the bomb. When Rusot complains, he names one of the people in the cell, which prompts another rebuke from Kira and Garak on the subject of not providing names for security purposes. If Kira is captured, she shouldn’t be able to tell the Dominion the names of anybody in any of the other cells. When Rusot says he’s heard it before, Kira tartly points out that she shouldn’t have to repeat it, then.
Rusot leaves in a huff, and Damar gives him his support, which doesn’t fill Kira or Garak with warm fuzzies. Odo then returns from a sabotage mission of his own, which went off without a hitch, and he goes to the bunk room to rest—at which point he lets himself show how badly the disease has ravaged him. He’s been shapeshifting a lot the past few weeks that they’ve been helping Damar, and it’s accelerated the progression of the disease. Garak walks in on him, and Odo makes him promise not to tell Kira. She has too much on her plate, and he doesn’t want her pity.
Bashir has been up all night for four straight days trying and failing to find a cure for the disease, and his and O’Brien’s attempts to locate Section 31 have also failed. He refuses to bring Sisko in on it, as that will just alert 31 that they’re onto them, and two people aren’t going to find an agency that has stayed secret for three centuries. He’s determined to find the cure himself.
Gowron is bitching about the engagement at Avenal, in which Martok got his ass handed to him. Sisko angrily points out that they were outnumbered six to one and fought hard (Martok himself is in critical condition), but they had no chance. Both Sisko and Martok had argued against attacking a location so deep in Dominion territory. Gowron fobs off Sisko’s concerns as loyalty to his friends, and then oh-so-generously says that Martok’s popularity with the troops means he won’t relieve him of duty—yet.
The Breen energy weapon is being installed in Jem’Hadar and Cardassian ships. Kira and Garak think they should steal a Jem’Hadar ship that’s been outfitted with the weapon and give it to the Federation. Rusot thinks they shouldn’t be doing Starfleet’s dirty work, but Damar agrees that aiding in finding a countermeasure for the weapon helps everyone.
Kira comes up with a plan that would involve a five-person team, including Odo. Garak breaks his word to Odo and tells Kira what bad shape Odo’s in—but Kira already knows, not being stupid. But she knows that it means too much to him to not let her know, and if it allows him to hang to a shred of dignity, she’ll pretend not to notice for his sake.
The Rotarran returns to Deep Space 9, and Martok is transferred to the infirmary. Worf reports to Sisko that Gowron sees Martok as a political threat. These insane offensives are designed to humiliate Martok. But he’s doing it at the expense of their entire defense posture, since the Klingon ships are the only ones immune to the Breen weapon. Worf says he has a plan for how to stop Gowron, but it won’t be easy, and Sisko authorizes him to do whatever it takes.
Rusot tells Kira that his people have secured a Cardassian shuttle, and then he proceeds to taunt Kira, saying that she’s only doing this so she can kill more Cardassians. Kira doesn’t have time for his nonsense, but when she tries to walk away, he puts a hand on her, which is all she was waiting for. She takes him down in about half a second and makes it clear that she won’t put up with his nonsense. After she lets him go, he starts to say that when the war is over they’ll have it out, and before he can even finish, she smiles and says, “You won’t have any trouble finding me.” But after he leaves, Garak comes out of the shadows, where he was watching, ready to help Kira if she needed it (which she really didn’t). He warns her that she can’t afford to wait that long, that the confrontation with Rusot will come sooner rather than later, and that she shouldn’t wait—she should kill him before he kills her.
Worf tries to convince Martok to challenge Gowron, but Martok refuses. He is a loyal soldier of the empire and he will not challenge the chancellor in a time of war unless he shows cowardice, which he hasn’t done. Worf insists, but Martok insists louder, and he’s the general and the head of his House.
Damar receives word that the Dominion tracked down his wife and son and had them executed. Damar is devastated, wondering what kind of state, what kind of people give the order to kill innocent women and children. Kira snidely reminds him of the Bajoran occupation, and Damar storms out. Kira is belatedly contrite, but Garak insists that this was the bucket of cold water he needed if he’s to become the leader Cardassia needs him to be.
Worf talks to Dax about the situation with Gowron, realizing that asking Martok to challenge Gowron was a mistake. But Dax doesn’t think so, and—after being surprised to learn that Martok and Worf consider her to be a member of the House of Martok, as Jadzia’s successor—bluntly tells Worf that the Klingon Empire is corrupt and dying and deserves to die. The High Council has favored expediency over honor for decades, and if Worf—the most honorable man she knows—will put up with it, what hope is there for everyone else?
Kira, Damar, Garak, Odo, and Rusot take the shuttle Rusot acquired and head to a Dominion repair facility. Garak, Rusot, and Damar are posing as Cardassian soldiers who have taken a Starfleet commander (Kira) prisoner (Odo is posing as her shackles). Vornar, the Cardassian at the airlock, grumpily says that he has to confiscate their weapons, as armed Cardassians aren’t allowed to roam free. Vornar also recognizes Damar, and whispers him good luck.
Garak takes “Commander Rota” to the bridge, telling Luaran—the Vorta in charge—that she’s the deputy intelligence officer for the sector, and Luaran might want to interrogate her. Before she can even look at Garak’s “orders,” the female changeling walks in, catching Luaran off guard, as she had no idea she was in the sector. The Founder dismissively says that her movements aren’t Luaran’s concern, and then asks one of the Jem’Hadar to see the new plasma rifle that he’s carrying. She admires it, then shows it to Garak, who then shoots Luaran and the three Jem’Hadar on the bridge. The female changeling then turns into Odo—it was him all along!!!!—and is a bit appalled at the carnage.
Then Garak brings the bad news: the Breen weapon isn’t installed yet. They can’t leave until that work is finished. Rusot isn’t thrilled at having to wait 30-45 minutes but Kira won’t leave without the Breen weapon. She fakes being Luaran to give a status update, with the visual feed disabled, claiming comm system issues. Odo gets the information requested, and then Kira says that they’ll be spending the next hour fixing the comm system and she’ll report back then. Now they just have to hope they bought it and wait for the Breen to finish their work.
O’Brien brings Bashir some crab rolls made by Keiko. While he breaks for lunch, O’Brien asks what would happen if Bashir did find the cure. Bashir figures that 31 would send Sloan or someone else to destroy his work. So O’Brien suggests that Bashir send a message to Starfleet Medical saying he’s found a cure, and when the 31 operative arrives, capture and interrogate him. Bashir declares this a good plan and happily eats more crab rolls.
Gowron meets with Martok, Worf, and other Klingon commanders to announce their next offensive: the Sarpedion system, the headquarters of the Twelfth Order, which Martok will attack with fifteen Vor’cha class cruisers. It’s one of the most heavily fortified locations in Cardassian space, and fifteen battleships won’t scratch the surface. Martok objects, but Gowron slaps him down—so Worf stands up and challenges Gowron. They fight, and Worf beats him despite Gowron shattering Worf’s bat’leth. As Martok leads a chant of Worf’s name, Worf quiets them down, saying that he is not the person to lead the empire, Martok is—and he puts Gowron’s cassock on Martok instead, declaring him the leader of destiny. Martok is less than thrilled, but accepts the honor.
On the Jem’Hadar ship, it’s been almost an hour, and Odo is no longer able to maintain a pleasant shape, and he collapses. Rusot points his rifle at Kira, saying they have to leave now. Garak points his weapon at Rusot, and Damar pulls out his own phaser telling both of them to drop their weapons. Rusot insists to Damar that they shoot both Kira and Garak and keep the Breen weapon for themselves.
Instead, Damar kills Rusot. Kira orders the lower decks flooded with neurocine gas, and they take the ship out to the Federation. Kira leaves Damar to take the helm (while exchanging a look that indicates that they may not like each other but they’re at the point where they trust each other) while she sits with Odo. Odo apologizes for keeping the extent of his suffering from her and she reveals that she knew all along.
The Sisko is of Bajor: Sisko all but orders Worf to get rid of Gowron, a particularly nasty turn of events, but at the very least something needs to be done about Gowron’s insane strategies. Sisko’s frustration at Gowron is palpable in both his conversation with the chancellor and his talk with Worf.
Don’t ask my opinion next time: Kira kicks eighteen kinds of ass in the episode, running half a dozen operations, critiquing all of them, coming up with the plan to take a Jem’Hadar ship equipped with a Breen weapon (which works very well, and she’s the one who improvises best when it goes to shit, thus salvaging it, including a good imitation of Luaran’s speaking pattern), and taking Rusot down about fifty pegs. Oh, and verbally kicking Damar in the ass when he was already down (he says, mixing his metaphors).
The slug in your belly: Dax says that Martok saying she is a member of the House of Martok is “sweet,” which prompts Worf to remind her that “sweet” isn’t very Klingon—so she goes with “honorable,” which Worf says is better but a bit obvious.
There is no honor in being pummeled: Having already been responsible for Gowron’s ascension to the chancellorship—first by killing his only competitor for the job and then by aiding him in his civil war against that competitor’s family—Worf is now responsible for the end of his reign and installing his successor. Oh, and he also was the one who orchestrated the placement of the emperor. Busy guy…
Preservation of mass and energy is for wimps: Odo learns the hard way that shapeshifting a lot accelerates the disease that the Founders are all suffering from. When Garak tries to offer him comfort, Odo cuts him off, saying that if he doesn’t want pity from the woman he loves, he sure as hell doesn’t want it from Garak (to which Garak replies with his enigmatic smile).
Plain, simple: When Garak pulls a gun on Rusot, the latter scoffs, saying that he’d never kill a fellow Cardassian over a Bajoran, to which Garak just smiles and says, “How little you understand me.” Indeed. Also Garak does a superb job posing as a gul during the operation, making himself far more blustery than usual.
Victory is life: The female changeling (who, like Odo at the end, is no longer able to hide how badly she is being ravaged by the disease) orders Weyoun to kill Damar’s wife and son, has teachers, scientists, and other civilians be detained and interrogated as an intimidation tactic, and instructs civilians to be placed on Dominion military installations, so that if Damar destroys them, he’ll kill his own people. Oh, and she tells the Breen commander that if the cloning facilities weren’t damaged, she’d kill this Weyoun and replace him. She’s so much fun at parties…
For Cardassia! The most encouraging sign that Damar is having a real effect isn’t the successful raids on installations and destruction of ships, it’s some random glinn recognizing Damar and quietly but seriously wishing him luck with the rebellion while standing only a few feet from a Jem’Hadar.
Keep your ears open: “They weren’t part of this rebellion. The Dominion knew that. The Founder knew that. Weyoun knew that. To kill her and my son, the casual brutality of it, the waste of life… What kind of state tolerates the murder of innocent women and children? What kind of people give those orders?”
“Yeah, Damar, what kind of people give those orders?”
Damar lamenting the Dominion having his family killed and Kira pointing out the dramatic irony.
Welcome aboard: Robert O’Reilly and John Vickery make their final appearances as Gowron and Rusot, respectively, the former ending a character that had begun nine years before in TNG’s “Reunion.” Kitty Swink (last seen as Minister Rozhan in “Sanctuary”) plays Luaran. J. Paul Boehmer plays his third of five Trek roles as Vornar; amusingly, two of those five are Nazis, as a holographic captain in Voyager’s “The Killing Game” two-parter and as an actual SS officer in Enterprise’s “Zero Hour” and “Storm Front,” while he also has played a Borg in Voyager’s “Drone” and the Vulcan Mestral in Enterprise’s “Carbon Creek.”
Also back for more are recurring regulars Casey Biggs, Jeffrey Combs, J.G. Hertzler, Salome Jens, and Andrew J. Robinson.
Trivial matters: This episode draws heavily on two running themes of not only DS9 but also TNG before it: the Klingon political arc that began in “Sins of the Father” and continued through “Reunion,” “The Mind’s Eye,” the “Redemption” two-parter, “Rightful Heir,” “The Way of the Warrior,” “The Sword of Kahless,” “Apocalypse Rising,” and other episodes; and the Bajoran-Cardassian conflict first seen in “Ensign Ro” and which has been part of the texture of DS9 from jump, most notably in “Duet,” “Cardassians,” “Necessary Evil,” “The Collaborator,” “Second Skin,” “Civil Defense,” “Life Support,” “Destiny,” “Indiscretion,” “Things Past,” “The Darkness and the Light,” “Ties of Blood and Water,” and “Wrongs Darker than Death or Night,” not to mention TNG’s “Lower Decks” and plenty of other DS9 episodes, particularly the arc that opened the sixth season.
The last time Gowron and Worf dueled, in “Apocalypse Rising,” it was interrupted. Gowron told Worf he’d never get another chance to kill him, and Worf proves him rather spectacularly wrong here.
Worf’s Kahless quote about power being thrust upon the worthy is a riff on the line from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (Act II, scene v): “some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” (General Chang was right, apparently, you really can’t appreciate Shakespeare until you hear him in the original Klingon…)
This is the third time we’ve seen a change of power in the Klingon Empire, having previously seen Azetbur succeed Gorkon in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and Gowron take over from K’mpec in “Reunion.”
Martok’s prediction that not everyone on the High Council will accept him will prove prophetic in the novels The Left Hand of Desinty Books 1-2 by J.G. Hertzler & Jeffrey Lang, which take place immediately following the end of the Dominion War. Martok consolidates his power in those novels, and he has continued to be seen as a strong chancellor for the empire in the years following the Dominion War in the novels Diplomatic Implausibility, A Good Day to Die, Honor Bound, A Burning House, A Time for War, a Time for Peace, Articles of the Federation, and A Singular Destiny, all by your humble rewatcher; Doors Into Chaos by Robert Greenberger; A Time to Kill and the Destiny trilogy by David Mack; and The Fall: Revelation and Dust by David R. George III.
Luaran also appears in both your humble rewatcher’s “The Ceremony of Innocence is Drowned” in Tales of the Dominion War and the novel The Battle of Betazed by Susan Kearney & Charlotte Douglas, where it’s established that she was the overseer of the conquering and occupation of Betazed following “In the Pale Moonlight.” She (or rather another clone of her) also appears in the Starfleet Corps of Engineers novella Malefictorum by Terri Osborne.
Kitty Swink, who plays Luaran, is married to Armin Shimerman who, ironically, didn’t appear in this episode as he was off filming the final episodes of the third season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, on which Shimerman had a recurring role as Principal Snyder.
Unknown to Damar, his son Sakal does survive the Dominion’s execution order, though he is eventually killed on Cardassia, as shown in “An Errant Breeze” by Gordon Gross in Strange New Worlds III.
Walk with the Prophets: “But his Cardassia is dead and won’t be coming back.” Let me state up front that I count this as one of the ten best episodes of any Trek series.
But unlike any other episode that would make that list—“City on the Edge of Forever,” “The Inner Light,” “The Visitor,” e.g.—this isn’t an episode I would just give someone to watch out of context by itself because it doesn’t remotely stand on its own.
That, however, is its greatness. “Tacking Into the Wind” is the culmination of a decade’s worth of stories on two TV shows. The corruption of the Klingon Empire that Dax decries was first seen way back in “Sins of the Father” on TNG when the High Council conspired to accuse Mogh of a crime committed by Ja’rod in order to spare Duras some embarrassment, and it hasn’t really gotten any better. And besides the Cardassians finding themselves in the same position the Bajorans were in under the Cardassians themselves, as revealed in “Ensign Ro,” there’s also the fact that Damar’s leadership may finally fulfill the dream that Aamin Maritza died for back in “Duet” of Cardassia becoming something better than what they were when they oppressed Bajor.
The ride there is simply amazing, too, with exciting tension all around. The episode is a series of verbal confrontations, each more compelling than the last, from Kira and Garak rebuking Damar and Rusot, to Odo and Garak’s discussion of the former’s condition, to Kira putting a physical smackdown on Rusot’s ass and a verbal one on Damar’s, to Sisko’s frustrated argument with Gowron and his equally frustrated discussion with Worf, to Worf’s futile imploring of Martok, to Kira’s thrilling theft of a Jem’Hadar ship, to Worf’s brutal fight with Gowron and his subsequent glorious speech, to the standoff on the Jem’Hadar ship that ends very badly for Rusot, to Dax’s whupping Worf upside the head.
I have been unkind to the manner in which character of Ezri Dax has been portrayed in this rewatch, and I think justifiably so, but regardless of what happened in any of the other 24 episodes of this season, this episode justifies the character’s entire existence, because the come-to-Kahless speech she gives Worf is one that only Ezri could have given. Only someone with all the knowledge and memories of Curzon and Jadzia, but without the closeness to those events that they had (Curzon’s diplomatic career in general and his friendships with Kang, Kor, and Koloth in particular, Jadzia’s relationship with Worf, etc.), could provide the perspective Ezri gives to Worf. It’s one of the most brilliant moments in the show’s history, putting the events of previous Klingon episodes into sharp relief, and leading Worf to the only decision he can make.
Worf himself has changed, too, and for the better. In “Redemption II,” he was the one saying that they shouldn’t challenge a sitting chancellor in the middle of a war, but now he knows that the letter of honor is less important than the spirit, and he’s the one trying to convince Martok to do the very thing he cautioned against during the civil war against Duras. And yet, at the same time, he hasn’t changed at all—he’s still doing what’s right for the empire, even if it’s not best for him. It’s why he accepted discommendation at the end of “Sins of the Father,” and it’s why he challenged Gowron here.
I complained mildly about how “When It Rains…” was mostly setup, but that actually helps because we jump right into both Gowron’s inane strategies and the overwhelming tension among Kira, Damar, and Rusot because the previous episode put it in place for us. It gives both plots room to breathe and shine.
The best part of this whole thing, though, is the bravura performance given by Nana Visitor. We see Kira in several modes here: she’s the leader of Damar’s resistance, she’s a Bajoran stuck among Cardassians, she’s Odo’s lover, she’s a brilliant strategist—and an adaptable one since, unlike Rusot and Damar, she’s easily able to adjust her plan to fit the scenario. She displays an effortless competence that’s incredibly compelling without making the character seem in any way broad or unrealistic. She’s just doing what she’s been doing for most of her adult life, and we know she’s good at it precisely because she’s lived this long.
Quite simply one of Trek’s best hours, mainly because it’s such a brilliantly put together culmination of so many other of Trek’s hours over the previous decade.
Warp factor rating: 10
Keith R.A. DeCandido will be a guest at Farpoint 22 this 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. Here’s his schedule.