The Changing Face of Loyalty
"Tacking Into the Wind" Plot Summary:
Kira criticizes Damar's soldiers' performance on a mission to destroy a Jem'Hadar ship, angering Rezat. Afterwards she tells Odo to go rest, but Garak walks in on the shapeshifter and discovers that the disease has ravaged Odo's body. Odo insists that the Cardassian not tell Kira because he doesn't want her pity, though he knows work could kill him: shifting his shape advances the disease.
Gowron complains to Sisko that Martok's skills as a commander are faltering - he was injured and many ships destroyed in the last attack - but Sisko snaps that the blame for the battle should rest with the person who ordered the foolish, dangerous mission. The Klingon leader praises the captain's loyalty to his friends, but Sisko insists it has nothing to do with loyalty; it's about saving the Alpha Quadrant.
The female Founder frets about Damar's rebellion jeopardizing the war, ordering Weyoun to have Damar's family killed and declaring that if the cloning facility had not been destroyed, she'd have this Weyoun killed as well in favor of a better replacement. Weyoun says that terrorist behavior is against the very nature of Cardassian society, which depends on the sort of law and order the Dominion provides, so she shouldn't fret. The shapeshifter bypasses the Vorta to give orders directly to the Breen, asking that Cardassians be placed at all Dominion facilities so that Damar will have to kill his own people, making him reviled at home.
O'Brien warns Bashir that he's working too hard. The doctor has made no progress against the Founders' illness and is testy, refusing once again to tell Sisko that they know Section 31 engineered the disease because Sisko would have to report to Starfleet, which would alert the creators and probably get them all killed. But O'Brien believes they need to talk to someone in Section 31 to find out how the disease was engineered in the first place. Finally the pair come up with a plan: they will tell Starfleet Medical that Bashir has already come up with a cure for the disease, so Section 31 will come after it.
Garak advises Kira and Damar that Breen weapons are being placed on Jem'Hadar ships. Kira reminds them that they don't yet know why Klingon vessels can resist those weapons. She suggests that if they could capture one of the Dominion ships, Starfleet might be able to figure out how the weapon works. Rezat snaps that he won't do the Federation's dirty work, but Damar reminds him that they're all in the fight together. Privately, Garak advises Kira not to take Odo on the mission to capture a Jem'Hadar fighter, but she informs the tailor that she already knew Odo's condition was deteriorating; she wants to give him what dignity she can.
When the Rotaran docks at Deep Space Nine, Sisko calls Worf to announce that they have a serious problem. Worf already knows: Gowron's arrogance and fear of Martok's political power are driving him to try to humiliate the general in battle by making him fight battles he can't win. Sisko notes that Klingon ships are the only thing standing between the Breen and conquest of the quadrant, telling Worf to do whatever it takes to stop Gowron's actions. The Starfleet officer suggests to a recovering Martok that he should challenge Gowron, but Martok insists that in the middle of the war, such an action would be treasonous and divisive. He refuses to consider the possibility.
Rezat demands to know whether Kira enjoys having Cardassians do her bidding, stating that he knows her real agenda is to get them all killed. Kira beats him up, but afterwards Garak steps from the shadows to suggest that the Bajoran kill her opponent before he tries to kill her. Traveling to rendezvous with the Jem'Hadar ship they plan to capture, Kira worries about Odo but he insists that he's fine - Bashir will surely cure the illness before it begins to affect him. Damar reveals that his family was discovered and killed by the Dominion. "What kind of state tolerates the murder of innocent women and children?" he wonders. "Yes, what kind of state gives such orders?" Kira echoes meaningfully. When Damar leaves the room, she tells Garak it was a stupid remark, but he disagrees: he believes Damar can lead a new Cardassia, and will be more receptive to rethinking the Occupation because of his current grief.
Worf tells Dax his problems with Gowron because she is still a member of the House of Martok. She says bluntly that the Klingon Empire is dying, and it's no wonder, when honest men like Worf and Martok are willing to tolerate corruption at their highest levels of government from men like Duras and Gowron. The Klingon leader announces a plan to go after the planet housing the Cardassian Fifth Order - a battle Martok believes they cannot win - but Gowron accuses the general of cowardice until Martok says he will fight any battle for the Empire. Worf denounces Gowron, calling him petty and unworthy, removing his comm badge to make it clear that he speaks as a Klingon rather than a Starfleet officer. The two fight with bat'leths until Worf kills Gowron, then gives the cloak of leadership to Martok, naming his friend a man of destiny.
Pretending that Kira is a prisoner, Damar, Rezat and Garak board the Jem'Hadar ship. Odo morphs into the female Founder long enough for them to take the bridge. But the Breen weapon is not yet operational, so they have to stall, pretending the communication system is out. Odo collapses, his symptoms manifest, but when Kira goes to him, Rezat pulls a weapon on her and announces that they should leave immediately. Garak in turn targets Rezat, while Damar aims at Garak, trying to talk the others into remembering why they're there. Rezat insists that his leader should kill the traitor while he kills the Bajoran so that the two of them can take the ship for Cardassia, where Damar can lead the empire to greatness. Damar shoots Rezat, lamenting the loss of his friend but admitting that the Cardassia he longs for won't be coming back. The Breen weapon comes online, and the group takes the ship out of Dominion space.
As they depart, Kira goes to Odo again. He expects her to be angry that he hid his condition from her, but she says she knew all along, and will stay with him through whatever is to come.
From the previews I expected this to be a boring Klingon honor-fest, and I consoled myself with the thought that at least it would likely be the last. For the second time this season I must admit with shame that there really is some terrific stuff going on with the Klingons, finally - the showdown between Worf and Gowron was just perfect, revenge for Gowron accepting the ruin of the House of Mogh and a culmination of the aborted desire for the Klingon leader's blood from back when we all thought he was a changeling. Martok's a much more likeable guy than Gowron (and a much more likeable character to keep around for the movies). I think Worf left the Empire in excellent hands.
I also want to note that much as I protested the Worf/Dax pairing when Jadzia and her hunk of burning Klingon first started breaking one another's bones, it was all worth it for the current relationship between Worf and Ezri. Finally someone who provides a real foil for him, who can get him to sneer at comments like "It's so sweet" without making him look like a cardboard Klingon, and who can diss the Empire as someone who has been both passionate insider and ultimate outsider. More than Martok or Sisko, we have Dax to thank for the death of Gowron and the dawn of a new Empire. There's something very appealing about that; maybe this version of the Klingons will be less misogynistic, too.
Despite Worf's brave deeds, though, the hero of this episode is unquestionably Damar. He is now the man Dukat should have become - and almost did, but the Gul's over-the-top ambition wouldn't allow it. I loved the parallel Kira drew between what the Cardassians did to Bajor and what the Dominion is doing to Cardassia, and I loved his decision to choose the Bajoran over his friend when forced to make a choice about which would represent the future. I think he would make an excellent leader for the Klingon empire if he didn't have his own to piece back together...something I am starting to believe we won't see during the run of this series. And that's OK; the Cardassians deserve everything they're getting. Unlike the Bajorans, their leaders invited their enemies in. But it is heartening to know that someone like Damar can change not just in spite of but because of the havoc he's caused.
The final shot of Kira holding a ravaged Odo was heartbreaking. I'm anticipating needing hankies the next few weeks, even though I'd bet money that Odo will be cured by Bashir and will in turn cure his people despite their misdeeds. Next week's a make-or-break episode for Deep Space Nine; Sisko actually said the word "genocide" in the preview, and I want to know how these nice Starfleet officers are going to react when they learn that a group of their own has committed an atrocity greater than anything the Cardassians did to the Bajorans, greater than anything the Dominion has done to any of its members. It's hideous - we've seen that in the tatters of Odo's body - and it's appalling on a level so deep that nothing Winn and Dukat might do, nothing the Breen might do, nothing the Jem'Hadar might do can possibly compete. I hope it's handled superbly.
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