|Odo links with the Female Changeling (Salome Jens)|
Kira's Resistance cell has found a way to strike a blow against the Occupation with no backlash: By playing on the animosity between the Cardassians and the Jem'Hadar. Damar (Casey Biggs), Gul Dukat's right-hand man, penned a report recommending poisoning the final available dose of ketracel white should no new source be established. Kira and Rom arrange for that report to be left where the Jem'Hadar would find it. The result is a full-blown riot, with casualties among both the Cardassians and the Jem'Hadar.
Odo is not pleased, worrying that Kira took a reckless chance. Their argument doesn't get very far, however, because a new arrival steps into his office: the female changeling (Salome Jens) who was Odo's first contact with the Dominion, and who presided over his sentence to become a solid. She has been trapped in the Alpha Quadrant by the minefield, and has come to Odo for the companionship of another changeling.
The link she offers to his past is too much for him to resist. He still has so many questions about who and what he is, and about the nature of changeling society and The Great Link. But as he links with her, he becomes distant from Kira and the situation on the station. And when Damar appears to have found a way to deactivate the minefield, fast action is required - action that the constable may be too distracted to be trusted with...
Capt. Sisko: In the episode's "B" plot, Sisko is made adjutant to Admiral Ross (Barry Jenner). This means more responsibility for the large-scale war effort... But it also means giving up command of the Defiant. Refreshingly, the dilemma Sisko wrestles with isn't whether or not to accept the promotion - He does so without question. His dilemma is watching his ship and crew going out on a dangerous mission without him. He has no worries over Dax's ability to command; he simply worries over not being there, something Admiral Ross frankly addresses by telling him that the Defiant will be sent out on a lot of missions, and that Sisko had best get used to it.
Major Kira: She genuinely cares for Odo and is concerned for his well-being. That concern manifests itself in hostility toward the female changeling, whom she knows has manipulated Odo at every encounter. Unfortunately, that same hostility plays right into the female changeling's hands. When Kira all but demands that Odo refuse to link with the female, her arguments play perfectly into the other changeling's insistence that solids are the ones manipulating him. He sees Kira as worried about her resistance cell, and Kira's arguments focus on the war effort and the need to conceal their activities. It takes too long for Kira to appeal directly to their friendship - something she does only when it may already be too late.
Odo: "I tried to deny it, I tried to forget, but I can't. They're my people and I want to be with them in the Great Link!"So Odo revealed to Garak in Season Three's The Die Is Cast, and that desire comes into play in a big way in this episode. When the female changeling appears, so warm and friendly as she offers him the link he has craved, the temptation is too much for him to resist. He links with the female changeling twice, and both times he is left not just calm, but detached - his manner eerily similar to that of the alternative Odo from Children of Time. As he tells Kira that in the link, the war no longer seemed to matter, she almost certainly can hear the echo of that other Odo: The Odo who decided that in the face of what he most wanted (Kira's life in that case; the link in this case), everything else just didn't seem to matter.
Quark: Uses guile, along with a healthy dose of kanar, to loosen Damar's tongue and learn the Cardassian plan to deactivate the minefield. He reports that information to Kira's resistance cell - which is significant for Quark, because it means that he's finally stopped being neutral. He has chosen his side, and proclaims as much: "I don't like Cardassians. They're mean and arrogant. And I can't stand the Jem'Hadar. They're creepy. They just stand there like statues, staring at you... I don't want to spend the rest of my life doing business with these people. I want the Federation back. I want to sell root beer again."
Weyoun/Gul Dukat: After the riot that opens the episode, Dukat is quick to defend his people and not shy about being vocal in a public place. Weyoun, who recognizes the importance of demonstrating their alliance, quickly reigns him in. He gets Dukat to agree to discipline his men with a promise that he will do the same. But while Weyoun may continue maintaining a public facade of friendship, it is obvious that these two men have come to intensely dislike each other. The female changeling observes how avidly the two compete for credit and attention, and asks Odo if this is normal behavior - Which Odo confirms is very much the case.
Behind the Lines is a difficult episode to review. The episode is less a story in itself than a foundation for future events. It feels very much like what it is: A set-up episode.
It is however, a very good set-up episode. It moves swiftly, and writer Rene Echevarria's attention to characterization insures that both the "A" and "B" plots are abosrbing. Both plotlines have big implications for the episodes still to come, and they echo nicely off each other. Odo is torn between his friendship for Kira and his longing to be part of the world of changelings. Sisko is torn between his responsibility to the war effort, by taking on a larger role for Admiral Ross, and his longing to be on the front lines - coordinating the war effort, when what he really wants is to be directly fighting the war.
Sisko chooses responsibility over desire; Odo falls to temptation. Which leaves him in an interesting place going into the next episodes. The series' long-term structure demands Odo reclaim his former place as an ally. It will take a lot for him to redeem himself for his actions (and inaction) here - and likely will take even more to salvage him in Kira's eyes, as someone she can once again trust.
Really, Odo has disappointed Kira several times over the past season. Past Odo was revealed as a disappointment to her ideal of him as someone who was dedicated to the truth in last season's Things Past. An alternative future Odo left her not only disappointed, but actively appalled, in Children of Time. Now the Odo of the present - her Odo - has disappointed her. That's going to be a lot to forgive, and impossible to forget.
Assuming the next episodes pay this off well, I think it merits a strong score - though if the followup disappoints, I reserve the right to adjust this downward.
Overall Rating: 8/10.
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