Hit Me With Your Best Shot
"A Time To Stand" Plot Summary:
Three months after the events of "A Call To Arms," the Federation has suffered heavy losses to the Dominion-Cardassian Alliance - of 112 ships in Starfleet's Seventh Fleet, only 14 remain. Fortunately, all the Deep Space Nine regulars are doing just fine, whether on the Defiant, in the Klingon fleet, or on the Cardassian-occupied station. Dax and Worf discuss wedding plans at their reunion, Garak needles Bashir about his genetic enhancements, Sisko frets about his father's response to learning that his son's behind enemy lines...life goes on.
Starfleet relieves Sisko of command of the Defiant in order to send him and his crew on a mission to destroy the only Dominion supply of Ketracel-White in the Alpha Quadrant; those mines Dax and company set last season are preventing the Dominion from obtaining more of the addictive substance for the Jem'Hadar soldiers, who will die without it. Meanwhile, Odo makes a bargain of sorts with Weyoun, accepting the Dominion representative's request that the changeling sit on Terok Nor's ruling council. Sisko and crew are successful in destroying the supply depot, but the explosion damages his ship. At the end of the episode, they're stuck inside Cardassian space, nearly two decades away from home.
This was a pretty bang-up action episode with a surprising number of interesting character moments. "A Time To Stand" felt very transitional, like the second season episode "The Circle"; it's difficult to evaluate it out of the context of "A Call To Arms" and next week's "Rocks and Shoals," since it made no sense without the prequel and left huge plot threads hanging at the end.
That's not a complaint, quite the contrary; Deep Space Nine does multi-episode arcs better than any previous Trek show, and this one is shaping up nicely. It's just hard to know whether this is a buildup to a spectacular showdown, or the high point in what could become a dragging, depressing war story.
The politics of this show have become very one-dimensional, for better or worse - there's no complexity like there used to be when the vicissitudes of Bajoran culture were a focus. There are layers of bad guys and worse guys, but not a lot of subtle observations about human (or alien) nature. Sisko's father sounds ridiculously naive wondering why space isn't big enough for everyone to share, just as Jake sounds silly demanding freedom of the press in a war zone controlled by his enemies.
The most interesting interactions involve Odo, a Founder who's an enemy of the Dominion, yet also rather obsessed with black-and-white views of justice and order. When Kira convinces him to use his status as a changeling to demand benefits for Bajor, even she's taken aback at the possible consequences of having Odo striking a deal. Odo's a wild card for everyone involved in this war, which makes him invaluable as a character.
I also thought the interaction between Dukat and Kira was delicious. We've known for a long time that he'd love to possess her and she'd love an excuse to kill him; still, they've always had explosive chemistry together. I enjoyed his sleazy attempts first to ingratiate himself with and then to intimidate her...and I loved her fearlessness and strength responding. When he says he could make the occupation more pleasant for her, she says he could start by doing something about his breath! Even as he was trying to bully her, he appeared to be really listening when she pointed out the cost to him of having forged a Dominion alliance. Great balance, a clash of equals - better than most of the established couples on this show, come to think of it. Kira sure does attract interesting men.
As for the bulk of the cast, I'd say Bashir had the best outing - he had a lovely scene with Garak at the start, and throughout the episode the writers found ways to bring up his newly-discovered genetic enhancements to both humorous and dramatic effect. He sounded alternately like a kid and a Vulcan, which was rather endearing. Sisko didn't come across as impressively; he was completely dependent on his crew's expertise, which is probably a good thing, but considering that Garak had to be his eyes and O'Brien his wits, he's going to need some dramatic thinking to pull them out of the current mess. I hope he does it himself, rather than being rescued by some deus ex machina.
I'm looking forward to next week.
Deep Space Nine Reviews