Sunday, April 9, 2017

7-24. The Dogs of War.

Kira, Damar, and Garak watch
helplessly as their rebellion dies.


Kira has rejoined Damar and Garak in time for a rendezvous with resistance fighters on Cardassia Prime. But the meeting is a trap, and the three find themselves beaming down just in time to witness Cardassians being massacred by Jem'Hadar forces. They manage to escape notice, and hide with Mila (Julianna McCarthy), the one-time housekeeper of Garak's Obsidian Order mentor. But trapped on a hostile world, they are helpless to act as they witness broadcasts of the destruction of Damar's entire rebellion.

Back on Deep Space 9, Quark receives a transmission from Zek. The old man has finally decided to step down as Grand Nagus. The communication is filled with static, but one message comes through loud and clear. Zek has settled on his successor - Quark!


Capt. Sisko: Near the end of the episode, Kasidy informs him that she's pregnant. Avery Brooks is wonderful here, shifting through a series of emotions ranging from worry to joy to embarrassment at having forgotten his "injection." As he reassures Kasidy, we can almost see him mentally picturing his future family, much as he painstakingly planned out his future house in Penumbra. Though joy seems to win out with Ben in the scene, I suspect the Prophets' warning is about to hit him hard.

Col. Kira: Another strong performance by Nana Visitor, who conveys Kira's terror of being captured by Cardassians during the opening ambush. There's a note of panic in her voice as she insists they have to get away, which fits perfectly with her background - Kira has seen firsthand what it is to be a prisoner of the Cardassians. Even when they are in hiding, her main thought is to escape from Cardassia, with Garak having to talk reason to her.

Quark: "I won't preside over the demise of Ferengi civilisation, not me! The line has to be drawn here. This far and no further!" Quark stands up for traditional Ferengi values - greed and exploitation - using the same words Picard used to rail against the Borg in First Contact. An inside joke for Trek fans, but it works because it fits perfectly with Quark's character. He has defended Ferengi society throughout the series, from his insistence to Sisko that Ferengi are nothing like humans - "We're better!" - to his disgust at his mother's wearing clothes and running businesses. He's on the wrong side... But there's a certain cockeyed dignity to his final, anti-heroic stand against progress.

Damar: This dour man was always an unlikely choice as a folk hero, and even he seems disconcerted at the divide between who he actually is and the legend building up around his name. Ultimately, the thirst he sees in his own people is what drives him to take up the ill-fitting mantle of rebel leader... And speaking of stirring speeches, Damar's heroic end speech is all the better for the sense that he'd rather not be the one giving it. He would rather be helping the resistance instead of leading it (Being Dukat's second-in-command was almost certainly his happiest time)... But there's no one else, and so he has to act to save his society from its demise.

Odo: In only one scene - But it's a good one, as he expresses his outrage at the Federation's tolerance of Section 31's actions in creating the Changeling disease. He acidly observes that Starfleet publicly deplores such tactics, but is happy enough to reap the benefits. He does promise Sisko that he won't reveal the cure to the Founders of his own accord. Still, the scene - which doesn't connect to any of this episode's story strands - is fairly obviously setting up his role in the finale.

Brunt: The final appearance of Liquidator Brunt (I'm going out on a limb and guessing he won't be featured in the finale). He spends most of the episode shamelessly brown-nosing presumed future Nagus Quark. He doesn't even pretend to deny it: "It's never too early to suck up to the boss." He's also the one who clues Quark into the reforms that have taken place on Ferenginar, including "wage benefits for the poor, retirement benefits for the aged, health care," and - most shocking of all - "the T word... taxes!" Jeffrey Combs is a delight as always, and it's a rare pleasure to get to see him play both of his recurring roles in the same episode (though, regretfully, the series appears set to end without ever putting Weyoun and Brunt in the same scene at the same time).


The Dogs of War is Avery Brooks' final episode as director, and it's a consequential one. The "A" plot, following Kira and Garak as they nudge Damar into a new kind of resistance, is terrific. The script, by Rene Echevarria and Ronald D. Moore, carries all the strengths of both writers, with sharp characterizations fusing with good dialogue and meaningful plot turns. We see the trio move from shock, to despair, to finally fighting back, and everything the characters do arises naturally from who they are. Brooks' greatest strength as a director has always been his ability to work with actors, and he gets great work from all of the cast.

That last is true of the "B" plot as well - Heck, even Ishka and Zek aren't annoying (in part thanks to being used sparingly). As someone who has often criticized the Ferengi episodes, I will admit to finding some enjoyment. The script offers some genuinely funny moments and even allows Quark a perverse dignity in his defiant stand for unbridled greed. There's just one problem: It belongs in a different episode!

There is a decent attempt to draw a parallel between Damar and Quark, two men standing defiant against changes that they see destroying their respective societies. But even so, the Cardassia plot and the Ferengi plot don't truly fit in the same show. And with the Ferengi plot occupying most of the screen time in the middle, it throws off the sense of jeopardy that should pervade Kira and Damar's story. I've said this about other episodes in the final ten, but I strongly feel that these two stories should have been seprated out into their own episodes.

The addition of a "C" plot, apparently to clear the decks of the Bashir/Ezri romance subplot, further interferes with momentum. Also, by cutting between two main plots and one subplot, the episode can't help but feel a bit choppy.

Still, most of the individual parts are good, with the Cardassia plot particularly strong, and the episode ends leaving the pieces in place for the final conflict. This leaves it as an overall good episode - Even if it is a bit too "busy" to be as good as it should be.

Overall Rating: 7/10.

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