I really like this one. Always have. Nana Visitor is fantastic, AND there’s plenty of great Garak content. On this rewatch, it reminds me a bit of “Whispers”, and if I’m being honest, I think that one might be the better-constructed episode, but I love A) Kira, B) Garak, and C) Cardassian politics and intrigue, so.
It’s also interesting to realize that every episode so far this season has involved questions of memory and/or identity — Odo’s being inexorably drawn by implanted instincts to return hom followed by the revelation that his people are the Founders, Dax nearly dying because the Trill attempted to suppress a memory of a previous host…hell, even with “House of Quark”, one reason that Quark gives for standing by his story about Kozak’s death is how it seems to change people’s perception of him: “I’m not just some venal Ferengi trying to take their money, I’m Quark, slayer of Klingons!”
I mean, granted, “every episode” isn’t saying much when we’re only on the 5th episode, but it’s still neat as a recurring theme.
Also, re: the above mention of “Whispers” — interestingly, Robert Hewitt Wolfe initially conceived of this one as an O’Brien story, and even intended to reveal that, like Boone from “Tribunal”, the real Miles O’Brien was long dead, and the one the audience had known — on both Deep Space Nine and Next Generation — had always been a Cardassian agent. But then he realized he’d have to explain why Molly was fully human, and decided to change it to be about Kira. (Personally, I think my bigger quibble than Molly being human would be the events of “Tribunal” happening the way they did, but maybe Wolfe came up with the concept for this one first.)
I am a sucker for a good “sleeper agent who doesn’t even know it themselves and is starting to realize that Something Isn’t Right” story in sci-fi — Boomer in Battlestar Galactica and Ash Tyler in Star Trek: Discovery, for instance — so of course I love this episode. According to Memory Alpha, the original plan was for Kira’s identity to be left an open-ended question, and that the “truth” of her genes was less important than the fact of her memories and current life. I kind of like that, and had actually remembered it, until rewatching a year or two ago, as being a bit more ambiguous than it actually is.
I’m also curious what Iliana’s mission actually was, or who she was being, if she’s not Kira. An actual encounter with her would’ve been interesting at some point.
I continue to be a sucker for anything to do with Cardassian dissidents
As I’ve said before, I really love the subplot of the Cardassian dissident movement, and I personally consider the fact that we don’t see more of it to be one of the show’s greatest missed opportunities. Buuuuuut given that I am an American in 2019, possibly I am just really in a place where stories about people trying to end fascist control of their government is gonna hit me hard. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I really like that there are hints, throughout, of Ghemor’s ambivalence about the Obsidian Order — his remark that he always thought Cardassia was more in need of artists, particularly, but from the beginning, there’s tension between him and Entek. And I found the fact that he made Kira/Iliana hasperat just…really sweet and sad.
Also, Ari can get it. Well, could have gotten it, I suppose, given that he’s dead by the end. Look, I maintain that Cardassians are among the hottest of Trek’s various aliens, and the ones who are actively working to fight fascism? Hell yes. IDK what to tell you.
I also continue to love anything to do with Garak
GARAAAAAAAAK. I love, love, love how, in Kira and Ghemor’s lovely goodbye scene, the Legate’s warm, affectionate manner just vanishes when he warns Kira not to trust Garak. It’s very clear that he’s genuinely concerned that Kira, someone he’s come to care about, someone he explicitly considers the closest thing to family left to him, is living and working in close proximity to Garak. It speaks volumes that, even with Garak having been part of his rescue, even having watched him kill a member of the Obsidan Order first-hand, Ghemor, a prominent figure in the dissident movement and now in exile himself, still doesn’t believe Garak can be trusted.
In fact, apparently the plan was for Entek to become a recurring character himself, and they ultimately decided to have Garak kill him specifically to keep the audience guessing about Garak.
Also, any time Garak and Sisko interact, it’s always absolutely fantastic, and this episode is no exception. But good lord, when Garak protests that “this is extortion” and Sisko seems to consider it a moment, then cheerfully says “Yes, it is?” AMAZING. So, OK, in addition to the Cardassian dissidient movement, maybe the other biggest missed opportunity of the show is not having Andrew Robinson and Avery Brooks in a scene together in every dang episode.
- Bashir remains absurdly horny for Garak.
- Ditto Garak for Bashir.
- Me, for Ari.
- I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m pretty sure Garak is at least a little interested in Sisko, and frankly, I’m not convinced that Sisko isn’t flirting a little with Garak, too.