Episode 3.26: The Adversary

Sisko’s promotion to captain is symbolic of the escalation of the cold war between the Dominion and the Federation.  Earlier in the season in Improbable Cause/The Die is Cast (Eps. 3.20/3.21), the Dominion spent its energies neutralizing two of the easier opponents of the Alpha Quadrant.  The fact that the Federation is next for major intervention by the Dominion indicates to me that the Dominion thought the Federation a lesser threat than the Klingons.  As far as is revealed, only a single Changeling was involved in this plot.  Thematically, this episode is more representative of the upcoming season than the current season.  The Federation is wholly unprepared to handle the Dominion; they on their heels against the Dominion multiple times throughout the 4th season.  This finale has a similar tone where the crew is constantly behind and struggling against the Changeling.  Only a last-minute fix by O’Brien and Odo’s commitment to the crew saves the Defiant.  There’s also a very strong scent of distrust amongst the crew; this becomes an internal battle the crew must fight as they externally fight the Dominion.  Whether it’s amongst themselves or trying to find common ground with allies like the Klingons, the Dominion very adeptly uses deception to erode cohesion amongst the crew and the broader Alpha Quadrant, and this erosion leads to fractures in their united defense.  The final line, “You’re too late.  We’re everywhere.”, is ominous and quite true.  The Founders have infiltrated into every major power in the Alpha Quadrant to the highest levels.

The crew devises two advances against the Dominion in this episode.  First, they start using the wide field phaser shot to force a Changeling back into a liquid state.  This becomes a staple defensive tactic.  Secondly, and more importantly to the grander Dominion narrative, this episode introduces the blood test.  If a Changeling has part of itself removed, that part reverts to a liquid state; this is easily seen and the Changeling is identified.  This becomes quite symbolic of the lengths someone must go to prove their identity and of how costly the fight against the Dominion becomes.  Especially once the Klingons get involved, this becomes as a blood offering to show one’s commitment to fighting the Dominion and their dedication to their fellows, all of whom must provide a blood offering.  However, as clever as this is, in the very next scene, the Changeling has devised a way around it by simply being the one who administers the test.  That way, he controlled who is accused.

Odo may have been the first to harm another Changeling, but he wasn’t the first to be attacked.  The other Changeling attacks Odo directly through a link.  While this doesn’t harm Odo, it is an attack on Odo’s person to disable him and to force Odo’s consciousness to decentralize and merge with the other Changeling.  This is a direct attack on Odo’s self.  Most of us would see Odo’s actions as justified self defense; to the Founders, this is the most egregious of crimes.  What’s ironic and tragic is that Odo has never killed anyone in his line of duty (or fired a weapon); on the occasion that this history is broken, it is one of his own people that he kills.  The consequences of his actions here resurface in the Season 4 finale, Broken Link (Ep. 4.26), where Odo’s shapeshifting ability is taken from him.  This act clearly declares to the Founders that Odo is fighting with his friends in the Alpha Quadrant.  Up to this point, I think they expected Odo to stand aside whenever possible.  As yet, Odo is simply reacting to the Founders.  It’ll be some time before Odo takes a turn to actively try to change his people’s ways.

Random Thoughts:  1) A second Changeling on the Defiant isn’t needed for the Founders to know that Odo killed one of their own kind.  Reports of this event within Starfleet would find their way into Founder hands.  2) Odo claims to not know his people very well, but it was his observation that dripping blood could identify a Changeling.  But given the Changeling so quickly found a way around this, maybe Odo doesn’t know much at all.  3) This won’t be the last time Bashir is targeted for replacement by the Founders.  In Season 5, he is replaced again, and for a much longer period of time.  Perhaps it’s because he’s well positioned to be informed at DS9 or maybe he’s an easy mark.  I highly doubt the writers intentionally foreshadowed that coming event, but it’s possible.  4) Sisko’s promotion finally puts him on par with the other leads in Star Trek series.  I liked how he was only a commander for three seasons.  It’s symbolic of how the show’s tone continues to becomes more serious, how the importance of DS9 itself grows, and how Bajor strengthens after the Occupation.  5) More sets on the Defiant are shown for the first time, such as Engineering and the mess hall.  6) “Julian’s” stiffness is clear when talking to O’Brien in the conduit.  He overly obviously states some backstory to add credibility (like the engineering extension courses).  7) Eddington mentions that the gold uniform can’t get into the captain’s chair.  This is a nod to Worf, who will be switching from Security to Command in Way of the Warrior (Ep. 4.1).  8) The Defiant is typically crewed by 46 people, it seems (here 47 are mentioned as being on board, with one “ambassador” present).  9) Kira’s eagerness to be tested is very indicative of her personality.  10) Eddington is a true ally when it comes to fighting the Dominion (as opposed to the fight against the Maquis).  11) Founders are good enough Changelings to appear human on scans.  12) During this cold war period with the Dominion, they constantly try to use the tactic portrayed here.  They attempt to get the Alpha Quadrant to fight itself.  13) The Defiant’s self-destruct requires both the captain and first officer to arm it and to disarm it.  14) Loved “Choose the Changeling” line.

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~ by Joshua Black on May 26, 2017.

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