The Cynics Corner

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"The Changing Face of Evil"

by David E. Sluss

3 May 1999

 
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THE BOTTOM LINE
: While marred in a few places by flawed execution and questionable characterization, this is a pretty strong show, with a dumb title.

CYNICS CORNER RATING: 8.0 (B-)

OLD ACQUAINTENCE LIED TO OF THE WEEK: Love that BS Miles was dishing out as Worf and Ezri arrived on the station during the teaser. "We worried about you the whole time you were gone!" Yeah, except during the Siskos' wedding in "'Til Death Do Us Part" ("They're late cause they're shopping for a gift; where's the bar?").

WELFARE RECIPIENT OF THE WEEK: I vote for J.G. Hertzler, a.k.a. Martok, who, like last week, gets basically a walk-on. Here he performs the Klingon Ceremony of Exposition, reminding viewers that the Breen are True Warriors and Tough Bastids, but, alas, fails to explain how a force as strong as the Breen apparently are could be in the thick of the Alpha Quadrant without anyone knowing anything worthwhile about them. Yes, I'm still having trouble buying this Breen thing. And Martok's comments notwithstanding, people have interacted with the Breen before, like Ziyal and the other Bajoran slaves in "Indiscretion," and the Maquis, who were given refrigeration assistance by the Breen in "For the Uniform"; that episode even featured Breen poetry, and Odo's knowledge of it. As such, it's difficult to accept that no one had any idea how technologically advanced the Breen are, even given the suggestion by Dolly the Vorta VIII that the Breen May Not Be What They Seem.

DOMINION UNINTELLIGENCE OF THE WEEK: Dolly the Vorta seems to be suffering from "replicative fading." I can't believe he didn't suspect that Dumb-Ar's "new confidence" wasn't Dominion bandawagonism, particularly since he is probably aware that Damar was plotting with Dukat in "'Til Death Do Us Part" (I say "probably" because while it was Dolly VII who learned of Dukat's presence on Cardassia Prime, dialogue in "Strange Bedfellows" regarding the Cardassian system that was lost suggests that Dolly VIII possesses Dolly VII's knowledge). Besides, if Dolly -- any number -- could learn about Dukat, he could learn about Dumb-Ar's scheming, especially since Dumb-Ar was living up to his name and plotting with a Cardassian officer in his own quarters!

DOMINION UNINTELLIGENCE OF THE WEEK RUNNER-UP: I don't buy the Runny Founder's reasoning behind letting the escape pods go. I think the Federation and its soldiers would be more demoralized were they to learn the Dominion was blasting lifepods. But then the series would have ended five weeks early, I guess...

AMATEUR HOUR RAID OF THE WEEK: The Breen's attack on Earth seemed pretty slipshod; only the Golden Gate Bridge and a couple of barracks seemed damaged. Granted, the attack was intended to be largely a psychological one, but given the performance of the Breen in the battle against the task force, it seems that they should have been able to wipe out Earth, with their energy siphon. Considering that a few academy punks managed to shut down Earth's entire power grid from a single location (c.f. "Paradise Lost"), it should have been child's play for the Breen to do the same.

LAUGHINGSTOCKS OF THE WEEK: I've heard enough about the Alamo; how about you? Miles and Julian have become jokes; it seems like all they've done this season is play Alamo and/or get made fun of for playing Alamo. And I've got a bad feeling about the "moat" discussion that they had with Quark, namely that O'Brien will decide, "Quark's right! We can't build a moat around the station, but we can use a <tech> <tech> <tech> to create a <tech> <tech> <tech> around the station!"

CHESS PIECE OF THE WEEK: And possibly of the entire closing arc, Kai Winn. I know some disagree, but I still think that Winn's acceptance of the Pagh Wraiths happened unnaturally quickly last week, in "Strange Bedfellows." But this week, we have Winn learning that her new paramour is really the hated Gul Dukat, and within five minutes she is back to planning the Pagh Wraiths' escape with him. I just don't think these developments are consistent with Winn's character, given the elapsed time. Sure, she loves power, but she loves the Prophets, too, and she hates Cardassians. With some more time and build-up devoted to her story (read: less Vic Fontaine, baseball, and Ezri angst earlier this year), this could be really good stuff. As it is, it's a little difficult to swallow, though interesting nonetheless.

RESET BUTTON OF THE WEEK: Of course, the big news this week is the destruction of the Defiant. But not to worry; Admiral Wooden promises another ship. NX-74205-A, anyone? And while I'm on the subject, there was something wrong with the execution of the Defiant's final scene. I can't put my finger on it, but for some reason it didn't seem important or momentous, as it was surely intended. Indeed, this scene was so unaffecting to me that I noticed something I never pay much attention to: bogus physics in the motion of the ship. The dead, burning Defiant is drifting along rather quickly from the left side of the screen, it is hit by a Breen torpedo, and it stops dead in its tracks as it explodes. Inertia don't work like that, baby!

TRIVIAL NITPICK OF THE WEEK: The Runny Founder accompanied the Dominion fleet because she wanted to "see this battle firsthand"; But she never wore the goofy goggles, which means she didn't see anything outside her Jem'Hadar ship!
   

Previous: "Strange Bedfellows"
Next: "When It Rains..."
NEXT WEEK: Subtle Irony pays a visit, as Kira teaches Dumb-Ar how to fight a guerilla war.

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This review is copyright 1999 David E. Sluss
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