The war is not going well for Starfleet, which keeps pulling back and retreating in the face of the Dominion forces. Dax complains that even the Klingons are starting to wonder if this war is winnable. A big victory is needed to restore morale. Sisko has just the target in mind: A bold strike that will retake Deep Space 9!
Back on the station, Quark and Kira try desperately to save Rom after his arrest for attempted sabotage. Orders left by the female changeling (Salome Jens) make it impossible for them to see Odo, and Weyoun insists that Rom must be executed, as much for making the self-replicating minefield possible in the first place as for attempting to halt efforts to bring it down. Kira prevails on Gul Dukat's daughter, Ziyal (Melanie Smith), to beg her father for a pardon - but Dukat flatly refuses, insisting that enemies of the state must be punished. Barring a miracle, Rom's fate appears sealed.
Bad news becomes worse when a test of Damar (Casey Biggs)'s plan to deactivate the mines proves successful, and work to bring down the minefield begins in earnest. If all goes according to the Dominion's plan, the wormhole will be clear within a week - And the full force of the Dominion will be ready to come through!
Capt. Sisko: "When I go home, it will be to Bajor." The Sisko who was so reluctant to take the assignment to Deep Space 9 and who hated having the role of "Emissary" thrust upon him has transformed remarkably over the last five years. He now pores over Bajoran prophecies, hoping for some guidance, and muses about taking a couple weeks in a Bajoran monastery after the war is over. He directly states that Bajor is his home, extolling its virtues with poetic descriptiveness: "There are parts of the Eastern Province that are like Eden itself: Lush green valleys covered in wild flowers that seem to spring up overnight; hundreds of small, crystal clear ponds interconnected by waterfalls."
Major Kira: She is furious at Odo for his betrayal. Every time Quark pins his hopes for saving his brother on reaching Odo, she shoots him down: They can't reach Odo because of orders left by the female changeling; and even if they could, she insists it would make no difference. That same anger drives her through the rest of the episode. She is impatient when Ziyal insists that, now that she recognizes Dukat for what he is, she will never go back to him; and when Damar pushes her one time too many, she lets loose all the violence she's been holding back for months now, leaving the Cardassian battered and bruised, and saying that it will be up to him what happens next.
Quark: For all his years of mocking and mistreatment toward his brother, Quark is determined to save Rom from his death sentence. That his faith in Odo remains strong even when Kira's has been shattered speaks volumes about the genuine regard he has for his sometime nemesis, making this a key Quark/Odo episode even though the two don't share a second of screen time. Quark is too shrewd to let his concern be public knowledge, however, and he continues to play the mercenary Ferengi for Damar, using prodigious amounts of kanar as lubrication to keep the flow of information coming.
Odo: Has sex with the female changeling to demonstrate the solids' notion of intimacy. She reacts with amusement at how limited it is, and is surprised that Odo doesn't agree. When she gets a bit over-vehement in pronouncing that the solids must be broken of their attachment to their freedom, Odo recovers enough of himself to see her for what she is - Though his awakening comes too late for Kira to even listen to his attempted apology.
Weyoun: In an effective quiet moment, we see Weyoun musing over one of Ziyal's paintings. He looks at it from every angle, as if willing himself to see it. When Kira walks in, he reveals that the Founders kept all sense of the aesthetic out of the Vorta's genetic makeup, likely finding it irrelevant. He reacts hotly to Kira's suggestion that the Founders "made a mistake," but wistfully acknowledges that he sometimes wishes he could carry a tune.
Gul Dukat: Though he adores his daughter, a virtue even Kira will acknowledge, there is something dangerous in the way he demands to know if she had anything to do with Rom's attempted sabotage. When she asks for mercy for the Ferengi, he instantly suspects some culpability on her part and does not believe her when she (truthfully) pleads innocence. He does, at least, trust Kira to protect Ziyal's welfare. When Damar comes back from his attempt to retrieve the girl having sustained a beating by the major, Dukat knows that his man must have stepped out of line in some way.
Favor the Bold opens with action, as an apparently cripped Defiant braces itself for a Jem'Hadar attack, only to pull a bait-and-switch on the Jem'Hadar and trap them with practiced efficiency. It's a teaser that grabs the viewer right away - desperate action, followed by a subversion of expectations. The entire episode takes a cue from that, building momentum throughout.
As with Behind the Lines, there are two main plot strands: Sisko, preparing an assault on Deep Space 9; and Kira and Quark, desperate both to save Rom and to stop the deactivation of the minefield. The Kira/Quark thread is the stronger: Kira's situation, having to work with the enemy while also trying to undermine them, is just inherently more dramatic, and her constant anger in this episode adds a wonderful additional level. But the Sisko material is also quite good, as we see just how thoroughly he has thought through his proposed attack, bringing all of his determination to bear to secure the agreement of Starfleet and its sole remaining ally.
Writer Ira Steven Behr and Hans Beimler even manage to adroitly connect the two strands. Learning that the minefield's deactivation is imminent, Kira and Quark manage to smuggle a message to Sisko (in one of the more plot-relevant and amusing uses of Morn). This pushes Sisko to initiate the attack before all of his forces are gathered. The episode ends with Sisko leading an incomplete fleet into battle against a vastly superior force, all because time has left no other option.
"To all ships, this is Captain Sisko. There's an old saying: 'Fortune favors the bold.' Well, I guess we're about to find out."
Overall Rating: 9/10.
Previous Episode: Behind the Lines
Next Episode: Sacrifice of Angels
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