Sins of the Shapeshifters
"The Changing Face of Evil" Plot Summary:
Bashir and O'Brien give Worf and Dax a joyous reception home, where Sisko starts to ask questions but is interrupted by Kira with a message from Starfleet: the Breen have attacked Earth. Much of the area around San Francisco has been destroyed (including the Golden Gate Bridge). Martok says with grudging admiration that not even the Klingons ever tried to attack Starfleet directly. The Breen are a race of warriors - the allies just need to find their weakness, and soon.
As Weyoun and the Breen gloat over their feat, Damar notes casually that it's too bad so many Breen died in the attack. The Breen general says it's a small price to pay, but the Cardassian leader points out that the Dominion has been saying the same thing about Cardassian losses and will blame the Breen if the war does not go well. Later Damar learns from a Cardassian accomplice that troops can be organized for an attack on the Dominion while they are distracted fighting the Federation and its allies. "We will fight for our homes," he says. Weyoun notes that Damar is sober for a change but attributes his new confidence to the belief that with the Breen as allies, the Dominion will soon win the war. "You know me so well," Damar deadpans. "We're just one big happy family." Weyoun amiably tells Damar that the Breen are mysterious allies: nobody knows why they wear refrigeration suits considering that their homeworld isn't particularly cold.
Back on the station, Yates tries to cheer her husband up by cooking him dinner, but they end up having a spat over her plans to leave with her freighter despite the dangerous situation. O'Brien and Bashir work on a scale model of the Alamo as Bashir attempts to figure out whether there was a way Santa Ana could have been defeated. While Quark makes scornful comments about how they should build a moat around Deep Space Nine instead of the mission and Worf affectionately scoffs at Dax's affection for a man who plays with toys, the two officers admit that they spent all day shoring up the station in case of attack, and need to unwind.
On Bajor, Winn cancels all appearances before the Vedeks and agrees to Dukat's demand that she read the forbidden text of the Kost Amojin, the book of the Pah-Wraiths. Her assistant Solbor does not understand why his Kai is dabbling in evil texts but reluctantly brings the material she asks for, making spiteful faces and comments at Dukat when Winn keeps dismissing him. "He who studies evil is studied by evil," Solbor warns, reminding the Kai that they know very little about the man who has become her guide. The Kost Amojin has not been removed from the archive for 700 years, but when Winn opens it, the pages are blank. Dukat believes they have been tricked, but Winn says, "The words are here, we just have to find them." Finally she sends even Dukat away so she can concentrate.
Odo and Quark observe an argument between Sisko and Yates when she learns that he has arranged for her to be released from her job for a month with pay. He gets her reinstated, but before she can thank him properly, Admiral Ross arrives to tell Sisko that the Dominion has broken through the lines at a critical system and they must head into battle to repair the damage. Sisko, Kira, Dax, Worf, Nog, Bashir, O'Brien, and several other officers board the Defiant and test systems while exchanging some banter. When they launch, however, everything becomes deadly earnest. The Breen weapons completely disrupt the Defiant's systems, and the crew is forced to abandon ship after Kira is badly injured and life support fails. Sisko resists leaving the bridge, but ultimately follows his officers.
Dukat pampers, cajoles, and pressures Winn to unlock the secrets of the Kost Amojin so that they can release the Pah-Wraiths from the Fire-Caves, though the Kai is concerned because in Bajoran prophecy, that event will coincide with the destruction of Bajor. Dukat insists that is is a metaphorical destruction leading to a rebirth which she will lead. Solbor bursts in with the results of his own research: not only did the real Anjol Tenan die years ago, but Solbor ran a DNA test on the man standing beside the Kai and discovered that he is Cardassian...and none other than Gul Dukat.
Winn screams that it can't be, but as Dukat tries to persuade her that their destinies are linked, Solbor realizes that his Kai is planning to betray the Prophets and prepares to betray her in turn, fleeing her sanctuary. Before he makes it out the door, Winn stabs him to death. Then she declares that her life is over since Dukat has ruined her, and prepares to destroy the Kost Amojin. As she reaches for the evil book, her knife drips blood on the pages, which spark and become readable. "I came to save you," her Cardassian lover tells her, begging her to take the gifts of the Pah-Wraiths. Winn cannot help herself: she begins turning the pages, suggesting that Dukat get rid of the body of her former trusted advisor.
The Founder tells Weyoun not to destroy the escape pods, making him realize that letting a frightened, demoralized group of survivors return home will be worse for the Federation to counteract. On Deep Space Nine, the admiral promises Sisko a new ship but says they have no idea how to counteract the Breen weapons. Kira interrupts their meeting, calling them to listen to a message intercepted from Cardassian space.
Onscreen, Damar tells his people that the Dominion has done nothing positive for Cardassia and now they are subjects on their own soil. He calls upon his people to resist the Dominion until the aliens are driven from all Cardassian soil, declaring that the first strike has been made: the cloning facility for Vorta has been destroyed. Weyoun mournfully confirms this fact for the Founder, fearing he could be the last Weyoun. As the Founder orders the death of the traitors and Weyoun asks the Breen to find Damar, Kira confirms the report for Sisko, who notes with some irony that they now must save Legate Damar to save the quadrant.
I wasn't expecting to like this episode because the preview showed lots of battle footage. Actually, I think the preview showed every second of battle footage that appeared in the episode. It was short, it was ugly, and that made it much more exciting than a long drawn-out special-effects-fest would have been; one shot and the Defiant is GONE! Not a dramatic death like the various Enterprises have suffered or even Voyager in repeated alternate-timeline explosions, just a matter-of-fact crisis and the crew survives only by the grace of the Founder's decision to let them go home and stew in their fear. That sounded like a pretty silly decision when she made it - nothing's as scary as a total fatality report - but she couldn't have known what Damar was planning, while Starfleet at least suspected and the Cardassians already knew.
In one of the richest ironies of this series, Damar has now become the head of the Maquis. Well, not THE Maquis, but he is in the position of having his home annexed by treaty to a more powerful group, and he is fighting to get it back. Will this occupation change the Cardassians? I'm inclined to think not, but anything is possible - just look at how much Dukat has changed. Indulge me for a minute while I say WOO HOO! about Winn's reaction to finding out that her lover, her guide, her savior is the man who led the Occupation of Bajor. I was afraid she would have a nervous breakdown, resign, turn good, kill herself, or some other sniveling response. Instead she screamed for ten seconds, then committed murder and went back to the evil holy texts!
Does anyone else find it incredibly refreshing to see a woman of Winn's age and stature who's clearly not the brightest person that's ever lived, whose accomplishments have mostly been achieved by manipulation rather than talent or intelligence, who desires rulership not to pass on to a son or share with a lover, but simply because she cannot resist the lure of power? Winn has always been a hanger-on of sorts; she rose to power with Jaro six years ago and hung on tenaciously when he fell, she set Bareil up to pay for her own sins and then used his work to further her own position until he died in her service. She's tried to manipulate Shakaar and Kira and Sisko and everyone else she touches so she can get all the credit and take none of the blame.
I have read people claiming that Dukat is using Winn, but I must disagree. They're using each other. He's offering her what she's always wanted, without apology or the need to pretend to be a nice person. I'm sure he'd sacrifice her on a moment's notice, but she knows that now, and I suspect she feels the same way about him. She knows who he is. She has seen the changing face of evil and if it looks a lot like her own reflection, she can handle it. Again I say, WOO HOO! I just hope she goes out with a real bang, and I don't care particularly whether it involves getting sent straight to the Fire-Caves or being redeemed by the Prophets so she can know the love of her gods before she dies. Winn Adami rules.
The following quote by Worf to Dax about Bashir's ridiculous hobbies is included for the benefit of my Another Universe editor Steve Johnson: "He plays with toys, with little figures!" It looks like Bashir is going to win Ezri anyway, so certain people with whom I work may as well keep going to their little gaming conventions. The mini-figures don't seem to cost either Bashir or O'Brien babe appeal...though Bashir appears to be attractive TO O'Brien as much as ever, and Keiko seems to have vanished out of the universe. Kira even joked, "Trouble in paradise?" when the two men started quarreling over Bashir's destruction of O'Brien's model of the Alamo.
Next week: Kira puts on a Starfleet uniform to train Cardassians! I am going to bed tonight picturing Nerys in command colors. Does anyone mind if I dream that when Voyager gets back to the Alpha Quadrant, they'll make her captain?
Deep Space Nine Reviews