|Dukat seduces Winn to the Dark Side... |
which, for her, isn't exactly a long journey.
"I'll do anything you ask. You need only give the word. Have you nothing to say to me? Am I so offensive to your eyes that I don't exist for you anymore? There must be something I can do to prove to you that I'm still worthy of your love."
-Kai Winn, begging the Prophets to speak to her.
Worf and Ezri are now prisoners of the Dominion. They are being held on Cardassia, where Weyoun and Damar promise them full due process of Cardassian law: A state trial, followed by execution.
Damar has problems all his own, however. The Breen have been warmly greeted by Weyoun, and the Vorta is taking special pleasure in diminishing his hated Cardassian ally. He makes Damar answer to Breen supervision, and at the same time refuses to send reinforcements to save Cardassians from a Klingon onslaught - leaving a large contingent of loyal Cardassians to their deaths.
Back on Deep Space 9, Sisko settles into married life with Kasidy, while Kai Winn continues her relationship with the disguised Dukat. Winn is eager to fulfill her role as the Prophets' chosen one... Until she receives another vision, one that reveals that she has been chosen not by the Prophets but by their mortal enemies, the pah-wraiths!
Capt. Sisko: Responds a little too well to Martok's description of marriage as a war. Right after talking with Martok, he pressures Kasidy to assist in some functions of the Emissary. When Kasidy refuses, Sisko observes, "And so the battle begins!"
Col. Kira: After Winn discovers that her visions are from the pah-wraiths, she responds by appealing to the most authentically religious person she knows: Kira. Despite her dislike of Winn, Kira doesn't hesitate when called to the Kai's quarters. When the older woman admits that she has "strayed from the path," Kira is delighted, showing genuine warmth toward her rival's admission that she wants to change. But when she suggests Winn step down as Kai, the results are entirely predictable, Winn insisting that she must cling to her position of power. The light vanishes from Kira's eyes and her face falls into a polite but hard mask as she excuses herself.
Worf/Ezri: There's a genuinely funny moment as Ezri, hung upside down from the ceiling, tells Worf that this is doing wonders for her back... Right before adding that she's about to be space-sick. Worf and Ezri hash out their personal conflicts from thoughout the season, with Worf admitting that his behavior toward her has been "dishonorable," and gets a nice moment of self-awareness when he acknowledges that he "uses that word far too often." They end the episode as friends, which should help to clear the decks for the final 7 episodes.
Damar/Weyoun: Damar's loyalty is toward Cardassia, not the Dominion - Which is something Weyoun either won't or can't understand. Gul Dukat had convinced Damar that the Dominion was a necessary evil for Cardassia to regain its status, and that Dukat would be able to control them once the war was over. Without Dukat, Damar's dislike for his "allies" has just been left to simmer - and every time Weyoun reprimands him for not being blindly loyal to the Founders, he pushes Damar ever closer to the boiling point.
Martok: Martok enjoys talking to Sisko about "the war at home," remembering his relationship with his wife in purely Klingon terms: "War has broken out, whether you know it or not. A long, grueling, intoxicating war... Over the course of our marriage I've won more than my fair share of the battles between us. But in the end, I know she will win the war." J. G. Hertzler remains a delight, and his one scene is a highlight of an episode that features many strong scenes.
Gul Dukat: Knows exactly which buttons to push with Winn - probably because she's so much like him. Like him, she thirsts for power and adoration, for the masses to recognize her greatness. At points, he pushes hard - And then lays back, meekly withdrawing at just the right moments for his words to fester in her brain. At one such point, we follow him out of her chamber and into the station corridors - and as soon as no one is around to see, he begins grinning broadly.
Kai Winn: The first time she saw the wormhole open, all the Bajorans around her spoke of how they could feel the love of the Prophets... But she felt nothing at all. She manipulated those around her so that she could become Kai, and she cherishes the power of being the Bajoran spiritual leader far more than she actually cherishes or feels anything truly spiritual. When Kira suggests that she give up that position, she balks, then retreats to the man who keeps telling her exactly what she wants to hear - Dukat.
Strange Bedfellows carries forward all the plot threads from the previous episode, this time with more dramatic results. By the episode's end, Winn is firmly with Dukat and the Cult of the Pah-wraiths, Ezri and Worf have escaped and are on their way back to the station, and Damar has entered a new phase in his hate/hate relationship with Weyoun and the Dominion.
The Dukat/Winn scenes remain the strongest. Winn's desperate monologue to the Orb, quoted at the top of the review, is particularly good. What might have come across as theatrical is genuinely emotional, Fletcher making us feel her desperation and sense of entitlement. Dukat's manipulations take on a harder edge, with him denouncing Winn's hesitation and telling her with scorn that if she stays loyal to the Prophets she will always live in Sisko's shadow. Characterization and dialogue are as sharp as the performances; and even though Winn's choice isn't in much doubt, it's a darkly fascinating joy to watch her fall to hubris, despair, and a few honeyed words.
Writer Ronald D. Moore delivers superb moments in all three strands. Damar, who has sometimes seemed frozen in place as the alcoholic who hates himself and his allies but never does anything about it, finally moves forward in a big way. The impetus? Not so much Weyoun's personal slights against him. He's no Winn; he never wanted his position of power and does not enjoy it. No, the deciding moment is Weyoun's strategic "sacrifice" of Cardassian troops. It's a misjudgment that Weyoun will never even recognize, because for him no sacrifice is of consequence when serving the Founders.
The Worf/Ezri strand is the least interesting, but still has good moments. It's reassuring that Worf and Ezri seem to finally put their past behind them and agree they can be friends, and their attempted escape is well-done, with Ezri recaptured because of her refusal to leave Worf. But the best moment comes when Damar and Weyoun are interrogating them. Weyoun makes a personal jibe against Ezri, and Worf responds in a manner that's absolutely in-character and yet utterly unexpected. Damar's reaction, by the way, is priceless.
Overall, Strange Bedfellows is a terrific hour of television, building on events that have come before and moving them forward in ways that are often compelling to watch. That it ends with most of the major players in a different place than at the beginning leaves us waiting to see what will happen next.
Overall Rating: 9/10.
Previous Episode: 'Til Death Do Us Part
Next Episode: The Changing Face of Evil
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