Actress Tracy Scoggins appears in this episode as a Cardassian scientist. Scoggins is something of a familiar face to fans of genre television, having done work on both Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and Babylon 5. However, she apparently spent a lot of time making this episode wandering around the studio lot in full make-up to spook kids. Security had to actually call the DS9 set and ask them to keep their aliens under control.
That anecdote, courtesy of Wikipedia, is maybe the most interesting thing about this episode.
Now, if that sounds unfair, it probably is. This is a perfectly cromulent episode of Deep Space Nine. There’s nothing really wrong with it. No one has a bad performance, the script is fine, and the plot largely works. It could even be a step in the evolution of Sisko as a character.
However, it comes after the two parter where Sisko took the place of an important figure in Earth history who died unexpectedly early, Vedek Bariel’s death and subsequent treaty with the Cardassians (mentioned a few times in this episode) and Nog’s decision to apply to enter Starfleet. Those are something of big moments, and while I can’t expect every episode in a 26 episode season to be a monumental piece of greatness or something that says something really deep and important, it does seem like a mild let-down to get a more average episode after that string of otherwise incredible ones.
Still, this is an episode filled with nice moments, and if anything, it suggests Sisko may be more open to the idea that he really is the Emissary as stated by Bajoran prophecy. As a result of the peace treaty between Cardassia and Bajor, both of those worlds and the Federation are working to set up a communication relay through the wormhole to allow communication into the Gamma Quadrant. A somewhat disgraced former Vedek comes by, warning that trying to do will result in the destruction of the wormhole thanks to some cryptic language from an old prophecy, including three vipers, surely the Cardassian scientists.
Too bad there are only two of them, and that leads to one of the nice moments in the episode, namely that the two scientists are actually very friendly, unlike any Cardassian seen on the show thus far. Sisko even comments as much, and the pair seem to get along well with everyone. Everyone but O’Brien judging from his body language, but given O’Brien fought in the Cardassian war, it makes sense that he would be reticent.
O’Brien, arguably, has a good subplot here as he is paired with the scientist played by Scoggins, a woman who at first is dismissive of O’Brien because in her culture, men aren’t trusted with things like science and engineering. She later takes his hostility as flirting, and the pair eventually make nice once she knows he’s happily married and good at his job.
That, if anything, is the major issue involved with this episode. Sure, the first two Cardassians are friendly–a third who comes along later and turns out to be a member of Cardassian intelligence is a bit less friendly–but there are some cultural problems that cause a few issues that do make things a little worse, but one of the friendly ones eventually reveals the third is sabotaging everything and the relay goes through without too much trouble despite the threat posed by a runaway comet.
If anything, the biggest moments may be when Kira, a religious woman, starts to believe the prophecy herself, and somehow eventually even Sisko starts to think there may be something to all that. Except…well, the prophecy does come true after a fashion when the relay goes online and it comes out that the prophecy was not really a portent of doom but something that was misinterpreted because that’s how prophecies work.
The point, if anything, is that Sisko may be leaning in a little more on being the Emissary. That’s fine and all, but it sure did seem to be a lot less interesting than the last few episodes. Again, this is a perfectly cromulent episode, but it sure felt like a letdown after a string of much stronger ones.