Friday, January 13, 2017

7-22. Tacking into the Wind.

Kira's worries about Odo
complicate a dangerous mission.


Kira continues to assist Damar's Cardassian rebellion, but her efforts are complicated by the animosity and blatant disrespect of Gul Rusot (John Vickery). After Rusot provokes a fight that Kira wins, he swears he will take revenge - and he might get a chance sooner that later, thanks to a plan to infiltrate a Dominion repair facility to steal a ship equipped with the Breen energy weapon.

Tensions are also rising among the Klingons on Deep Space 9. It is very clear that Gowron is focusing not on winning the war, but on disgracing General Martok by sending him on missions doomed to defeat. Worf urges the general to challenge Gowron and take his place, but Martok insists that such a challenge during wartime would be dishonorable. When Gowron hatches a new suicide mission - one that could cripple what remains of the Klingons' strength - Worf feels compelled to take matters into his own hands!


Capt. Sisko: Sisko's brief appearance carries shades of In the Pale Moonlight, as he urges Worf to resolve the situation with Gowron, and to "do whatever it takes." He obviously isn't telling Worf to kill the man - But he knows too much about Klingon culture to think that a bloodless solution is likely.

Col. Kira: For the most part, she manages to restrain herself in the face of Rusot's disdain. Season One Kira would have come to blows with him before the end of the last episode, and would have had to have been pulled off him to keep from killing him. Here, she's pushed ot the breaking point by worries about Odo and the frustration of trying to help the Cardassians, and still only snaps when Rusot physically accosts her... And she stops the fight as soon as she's won a clear victory, and even then knows that what just happened was not in anyone's best interest.

Worf: "Worf, you are the most honorable and decent man I've ever met... If you're willing to tolerate men like Gowron, then what hope is there for the Empire?" Ezri confronts Worf directly with the corruption in Klingon society - a thread that's been woven into the fabric of Star Trek since TNG's Sins of the Father. It was then that Worf was first made into an outcast - in the very episode in which he first realized that the society of honorable warriors he had idealized was, in truth, hopelessly corrupt. This episode brings his encounters with that corruption to a logical endpoint, and cements him as a significant figure in the Klingon Empire whether he wants to be or not.

Damar: Rusot is his friend, and was among his first allies in this resistance; Kira is a former enemy, one he personally dislikes. It's no surprise that his instinct is to support Rusot. But he's no idiot, and he recognizes that Kira's strategies are the ones his rebellion will need to embrace to have any chance of victory. As Garak notes, his greatest weakness is his romanticism of Cardassia's past. He mourns a Cardassia that's "dead, and it won't be coming back," when the truth is that his idealized Cardassia was as much a fiction as Worf's idealized Klingon Empire.

Garak: As much a Cardassian patriot as Damar, in his own way. Remember that this was a man willing to annihilate the Founders along with several people he calls friends, all in response to the female changeling's statement that the Dominion would destroy Cardassia. When Kira berates herself for a loose comment to Damar, Garak tells her that if Damar is "the man we hope him to be, then (he was) more receptive to what you said, not less."

Gowron/Martok: Two stubborn men, each clinging to their nature even when it leads to their destruction. Gowron refuses to follow the sound strategy set forth by Sisko and Martok. Instead of focusing on the war, he focuses on his own personal battlefield: Politics, with Martok as a potential rival who must be shamed. Martok, in turn, won't challenge Gowron because Klingon tradition frowns on such challenges in times of war. Without Worf's intervention, Gowron's plan would have played out exactly as he intended... And likely doomed the entire Alpha Quadrant in the process. A perfect illustration of Ezri's words about the Empire's decay.


Ronald D. Moore, arguably Deep Space 9's best writer, is paired with Michael Vejar, one of the show's most reliable directors, for a dark installment involving challenges and betrayals. And Klingons, of course - Moore being the franchise specialist in Klingon episodes. Add in that this is pretty much all payoff for the plot complications that built up in the previous installment, and it's no surprise that Tacking into the Wind is an excellent episode.

The two main plot strands parallel each other in multiple ways. Both involve a regular trying to convince a patriotic leader to take a stand against a destructive influence from within. Both strands also involve characters (Worf and Damar) who have romanticized and idealized their cultures, turning a blind eye to the corruption that has always been there. The result is that, even though the two plots don't brush up against each other even once, it all feels of a piece. Both strands also come to a strong climax, with the overall arc moved forward as a result.

The Bashir/O'Brien story, involving finding a cure for Odo's illness, also gets some screen time, but it proves to the weakest thread. Nothing really happens in this subplot, which ends this episode exactly at the same place it begins: Odo is dying, Section 31 did it, and Bashir needs to get Section 31 to cure it. Sure, they have the beginnings of a plan... But it feels like that could have been dropped in with a line or two of dialogue at the start of the next episode.

Something I really wish had been done, as the episode's only real weakness is that it feels a touch overstuffed. It doesn't feel rushed, thanks to most of the setup having been taken care of in When It Rains... - But it does feel packed, and I think the two "A" plots would have benefited from the removal of the Bashir/O'Brien scenes in order to give the characters and events a bit of breathing room.

Still, if my primary complaint is that too much happened and that I wanted more of the two primary strands, that's not a bad complaint to have. There's no question but that Tacking into the Wind is not only a significant episode, but an extremely good one as well.

Overall Rating: 9/10.

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