|Odo tries to balance work and emotion - unsuccessfully.|
First Minister Shakaar (Duncan Regehr) comes to the station for negotiations, in hopes of speeding Bajor's admittance to the Federation. This seems like a typical diplomatic visit - until Odo receives word that The True Way, a Cardassian terrorist group, plans to assassinate Shakaar.
Odo and Worf coordinate both normal station security and Starfleet personnel to make sure the First Minister is protected around the clock. It isn't long, however, before Odo observes the growing closeness between Shakaar and Kira, causing his own feelings for Kira to flare up again. A distraction he can ill afford, as he discovers when an attempt on Shakaar's life comes too close to success for anyone's comfort...
Capt. Sisko: When Odo confesses to his carelessness during the attempt on Shakaar's life, Sisko is stunned at his making such a mistake. Odo tells him he was distracted by "a personal matter" which he would prefer not to discuss, and assures the captain that it will not happen again. Sisko trusts Odo and respects his privacy enough not to push for more information. Fair enough for a first error - though it's a safe bet that Sisko would not let a second one slide.
Major Kira: The wonderfully tough, complex Kira is reduced to a plot device. She is remarkably unconcerned about the threats against Shakaar, and spends most of her time hovering around him, all too happy to be the object of his affections. It's not that I don't buy Kira's interest in Shakaar, but her romantic side is pretty much the only side of her on display. Her shrewdness, sharpness, and overall toughness all but vanish. Nana Visitor does well with what she's given, selling the Kira/Shakaar attraction and Kira's genuine friendship with Odo. It's just a shame to see arguably the series' strongest character reduced to the simple level presented here.
Odo: This is very much Odo's episode, and Rene Auberjonois is as up to the task as ever. He does an excellent job at showing Odo's inner turmoil, while at the same time having Odo keep up his impassive front for others. The Odo makeup has long since been perfected, leaving sufficient makeup to suggest the shapeshifter "look" but not so much as to block Auberjonois' expressiveness. This episode will never be a favorite of mine, but both actor and character make it worth viewing.
Worf: He and Odo are strikingly similar in some ways. They both insist on order in their personal lives, with precisely-arranged quarters and routines. This makes each of them a natural in providing security, and makes them a good team - at least, until Odo becomes too distracted by his personal feelings for Kira. At the same time, we see that the lack of ability to create routines is making it very difficult for Worf to adjust to life on Deep Space 9.
Quark: He knows Odo better than anyone save for the naturally-oblivious Kira, so it is little surprise that he would be the one to recognize Odo's feelings. In the episode's one great scene, Quark goes to the distraught Odo and gives him just the talk he needs to pull himself out of his mire and get back on the job. It isn't a compassionate pep talk, because Odo would never accept that. Instead, Quark finds a way to couch his respect for the constable in entirely self-serving terms. Odo shows his appreciation in similarly unsentimental terms, as their peculiar and unspoken friendship continues to be one of the series' great pleasures.
In Season Three, Kira had one love interest written off and another potential love interest created in the form of Shakaar, leader of Kira' old resistance cell and reluctant First Minister for Bajor. Shakaar actually made a strong first impression, with actor Duncan Regehr showing reasonable screen presence and a natural facility in an "action hero" role.
That's one problem with Crossfire. Shakaar worked in the setting of his debut episode, leading a local insurrection against government abuses. He works substantially less well in the diplomatic setting, with nothing to do save to work the crowd and romance Kira. Frankly, Philip Anglim's Vedek Bareil was better suited to this sort of episode than Regehr's Shakaar is, which may be why Regehr seems less at home in Crossfire than he did in Shakaar.
If that were the only issue with this episode, it might still be a good show. The script is one of the series' weaker offerings, though. The threat against Shakaar is ill-defined, and it's resolved in a way that's dramatically unsatisfying. It's there solely to create a crisis for Odo to bungle, with no sense of a larger place within the fabric of the show. A quick glance at Memory Alpha reveals that the episode was subject to major rewrites when the original ending proved problematic, and I'm afraid the seams show.
Finally, I have to confess that this just isn't the type of episode that I'm naturally inclined to enjoy. I will give Rene Auberjonois credit for so ably portraying the pain and helplessness of unrequited love - but that doesn't mean that there's any pleasure in watching his character in that situation, nor is there anything sufficiently compelling within this hour to add extra weight to it.
Crossfire still isn't a bad episode. There are some excellent character bits for Odo, Worf, and Quark, and the episode is made to this show's usual high standards. It's just not one that I expect to voluntarily re-watch at any point.
Overall Rating: 5/10
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