|Garak interrogates Odo.|
Garak has joined his old mentor, Enabran Tain (Paul Dooley), as Tain prepares to launch a first strike against the Dominion. Tain's plan is to attack the Founders' home world, eliminating them as a threat. The drug dependency used to control the Jem'Hadar will then neutralize them, as they will die within weeks of the Founders' destruction. This will remove the Dominion threat and, on a more personal level, provide Tain with a path back to power and Garak with an opportunity to take revenge on his old enemies in the Cardassian Empire.
This does, however, leave Odo as a prisoner on Tain's ship. Tain, for his part, requires a show of loyalty from Garak. A vigorous interrogation of Odo, with use of a stasis field to disable his shapeshifting abilities and make him vulnerable to torture!
Commander Sisko: Even under orders to stay at the station and take no action regarding the Cardassian/Romulan fleet, he will not simply sit by while one of his officers is taken into a war zone. He disregards orders and takes the Defiant through the wormhole to rescue Odo. When this takes him directly into combat, he is very ready for it - though as soon as the constable and Garak are rescued, he is equally ready to get away as quickly as possible.
Odo: Rene Auberjonois gets a great scene, as Odo is interrogated by Garak. He never displays any fear, even as the Cardassian stasis field keeps him from reverting to his liquid state, leaving him a dried out husk with skin literally peeling away. As Odo stands there, a living wreck, he continues to batter Garak with his observations, recognizing that this is far from the return to glory the Cardassian had dreamt of.
Dr. Bashir: The teaser sees Bashir attempting to have lunch with his other best friend, Chief O'Brien. Bashir expounds on theatre, while O'Brien basically ignores him and eats. The doctor's frustration at his failed attempt to replicate his lunches with Garak is very funny, and this brief interaction shows just how important Bashir's friendship with Garak is to him - as important in its own way as his friendship with O'Brien.
Commander Eddington: I'd completely forgotten about Eddington. I think the writers had, too. Much was made of his introduction, but he's gone not only unseen, but entirely unmentioned in the twenty episodes since. Given that he was placed in charge of Starfleet security on the station, I'd have thought he'd at least receive some mention in some of the intervening episodes. As it stands, it took me a moment to remember who this extra character was. "Odo's my friend, too," he insists - but since these two characters have shared no screen time since Eddington's appointment, we can't even judge this statement as a lie. A rare missed opportunity for this series, as it keeps any of the character's actions in this episode from having any resonance at all.
Garak: "Do you know what the sad part is, Odo? I'm a very good tailor." Back in his old role as Enabran Tain's right hand, Garak finds he has no taste for the job anymore. Some of this is down to Tain, whose orders are immediately too ruthless. He talks of eliminating his housekeeper, the very woman who pleaded with Garak to help Tain just one episode ago. He orders Garak to interrogate Odo, refusing to accept Garak's belief that Odo has nothing to tell. It's no surprise that the episode ends with Garak back at his tailor's shop - but he's emotionally in a very different place, which will hopefully result in further developments down the line.
A rare case of Part Two being even better than Part One. The Die Is Cast picks up on the idea of Enabran Tain's first strike against the Dominion. What's interesting is that all of the Alpha Quadrant governments have the same basic idea: To sit back and wait, not dirty their hands on this "rogue operation," but hope for its success just the same. This approach defines not only the Cardassians and the Romulans, but also Starfleet. "I never hope for war," a Starfleet official tells Sisko, "but if it comes, I want the Dominion to be on the losing side."
The Garak scenes are predictably the best in the show. Put back in a position of power, Garak finds that his ability to lie with absolute smoothness only goes so far. It's clear from the start that he's trying to protect Odo - but it's also clear to Tain and the Romulan captain, and Garak is forced to do what he least wants: torture someone he might have considered a friend.
The scene in which Garak interrogates Odo is the episode's strongest, with Rene Auberjonois and Andrew Robinson both outstanding. I particularly like the way writer Ronald D. Moore's script keeps each character determined to betray no sign of weakness. Garak is silky, charming, and utterly terrifying as he presses Odo for answers. Odo, in turn, is defiant, spitting sarcasm back at Garak even under torture. Both characters do give, just a little: Garak, practically whispering in Odo's ear as he begs the shapeshifter to say something - "lie if you have to!" - and Odo confiding his desire to join his people's Great Link. It is only when Garak shuts off the field, though, that they show their weakness: Odo returning to liquid form, Garak allowing himself to bury his head in his hands in exhaustion and self-disgust.
This is an episode which should have far-reaching consequences. The Dominion has been a background threat throughout the season - frequently mentioned, but largely passive save for a single attempt to get Odo to join them. Now they have been officially engaged, which should make them a more active threat. At the same time, this should cause a shift in the Cardassians' internal balance of power, which might be rather interesting to see. Whatever the case, I look forward to seeing the fallout from this - doubtless around the season's end.
The best episode of the season, and one which promises much to come as the series continues.
Overall Rating: 10/10.