For those who are new to my episode reviews, you can find the post where I establish my point criteria here.
Episode Score: 10/10. DS9 has received both praise and criticism for being darker and edgier than any other series to date. I have no problem agreeing with that classification, and this episode is true to that sentiment. The episode is dark and gritty, with Ben Sisko going farther into the darkness than any of the other Trek series captains has. A tour de force in acting on Avery Brooks part. This is also a serious and powerful episode that many who are not fans of the show can appreciate. The story is well-crafted and compelling. For much of the episode the viewer is wondering if Sisko is going to go further down the path he started or if he will ultimately keep his morals in check. It is a roller coaster ride of intrigue and deception that ultimately brings about a major change to the Dominion War.
Relevance: 3 points. As eluded to earlier, this episode marks a major turning point in the Dominion War storyline that will have lasting repercussions for the rest of the series. It also ties in the important part mentioned earlier in the series where Romulus had signed a non-aggression treaty with the Dominion. The casualty list shown is seen again in the “Siege of AR-558”. Added to that the mention of the fall of Betazed, and this episode is vital for what is happening in the Trek universe.
Continuity: 2 points. Story and universe continuity work well with this episode. Everything happens as it should be happening, and all parties are well within defined parameters. There is nothing that contradicts how the story develops or how the Trek universe works. There is one thing that may be argued is out of sync with continuity, and that is the character continuity of one Benjamin Sisko. In all honesty, I love this episode and how the character of Ben Sisko develops, but nothing more of his role in the deception is brought up. The good Captain is far from good in this episode. He lies, he cheats, he covers up the crimes of others, and he is an accessory to the murder of two individuals. In future episodes, it appears that Ben does not change in any way because of this, which I feel is not realistic. There should have been something after, a regret, a slight reference from Garak or Quark, that furthers the stain on Sisko’s soul. For that reason alone, I had to deduct the one point for character continuity.
Character Development: 3 points. This is a great Ben Sisko story, and Garak gets to play a prominent role as well. We see that the two developed into a most unique relationship when Garak confronts Sisko with the somber truth that Sisko enlisted Garak because he was willing to do things that Sisko was not. Quark gets a nice moment when Sisko bribes him to turn a blind eye to a crime, and Quark responds with the 98th Rule of Acquisition: every man has his price.
Social Commentary: 2 points. I could not give the full 3 points here, but I do think that something can be said about choosing to abandon one’s morals for the greater good. Again, I do enjoy this episode, but I must be honest in saying that I do not know if I could have done what Sisko does, even if it meant that billions of lives would be saved in defeating a powerful adversary intent on your destruction. Mind you, I do not ever envision myself of ever being in a situation where the stakes are this high. What I do see are many political and military leaders who make similar decisions, to lie, cheat, and bend the rules, all done in the name of helping the greater good. So while I cannot see myself being in such a position on influence like this, I do see it happening in the world around me. My only wish for this story is that they would have had some greater cost for Sisko, if not in this episode then later in the series.
Cool Stuff: 3 points. The Romulan shuttle is a first for the design. This is the second episode in a row in which Weyoun only appears as a hologram. I also believe that this is the first episode where we see the character describing everything that happened as a log entry. For me, the coolest part of the episode is Sisko’s monologue at the end. He describes all of his sins, and then says he would do it again. He defiantly raises a glass and says he can live with what he has done, then lowers it and more softly repeats the line as if he is trying to convince himself, before finally deleting the entire log. It’s as if we are the only witnesses to the Confession of Benjamin Sisko.
Rank: Admiral (23 points) – This episode consistently ranks in the Top 10 of DS9 episodes, and it is with good reason. Trek is at its finest when it focuses on the characters, and this is an episode that shows how to move the overarching story with a good character tale. Fine acting on the part of Avery Brooks, well-crafted story, and it provides the catalyst for swinging the momentum of the Dominion War. This episode is a must watch for casual fans.
Blogger's note: Upon reflection of some of the feedback I received, I have updated the scoring for this episode. I was initially worried that my bias towards Deep Space Nine caused me to be overly generous with scoring, so I only scored the episode a 9/10. I have heard from many who feel that this episode was nearly perfect, and I decided to increase the score to a 10.
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