Season three of Deep Space Nine ended with a promotion and a premonition. There does seem to be a couple moments in his episode when I stopped to wonder why people didn’t, say, check some things that made me think a bit too hard about what was going on, but as an exercise in paranoia, this is about as good as Star Trek can get.
The episode opens with Sisko’s final log entry as a commander. That’s because he just got promoted to “captain,” and since he has the Defiant, that makes a lot of sense. At the promotion ceremony, an ambassador takes Sisko aside. The hostile Tzenkethi are apparently undergoing a bit of political uncertainty, so can Sisko take the Defiant out that way to do a little light saber rattling? Just to remind these aliens I am not sure I have ever even heard of before and who do not appear in this episode that they shouldn’t mess with Starfleet? And can the ambassador come along?
Sisko says sure.
OK, here’s a rundown of what happens next: the ambassador is a Changeling in disguise. He’s already sabotaged the Defiant, taking the place of multiple members of the crew to do so. The Defiant will fire on the Tzenkethi to start a war, and the only way to prevent that is for either the crew to find and subdue the Changeling while O’Brien overrides whatever the guy has done to make the ship start a war or else Sisko will have the whole ship self-destruct.
There’s a lot of smart stuff going on here. Losing track of anyone for a moment might mean the person you are working with is secretly the Changeling in disguise, and the Changeling can also easily flip through vents to escape. That’s assuming he doesn’t take the form of an inanimate object. Sisko does take this in an intelligent way, and the plans that he and the others come up with are all rather smart. Kira, teamed with a nameless security guy, approves of the man’s paranoia until he gets her at phaser point. Odo observes that Sisko is bleeding at one point, and that means he’s himself since Changeling’s blood would turn back into their standard goo once it dripped onto the floor. Heck, the Changeling himself makes some smart moves by impersonating Bashir to make it look like Starfleet security specialist Michael Eddington, a reoccurring character I had seen no point in mentioning by name up until now, was the Changeling when it was really Bashir, and that came after the Changeling sedated Dax and prevented her from helping O’Brien fix the ship. The Changeling even takes Odo’s standard humanoid form at one point to confuse O’Brien, knowing enough about O’Brien to make the Chief question which Changeling was the real Odo.
Apparently, stunning both was not an option.
So, really, there is a lot to like, but…did no one notice the ambassador never got to one of his destinations? Did the Tzenkethi’s political revolution not make it anywhere until Sisko heard about it? Those are somewhat minor quibbles. Odo, in the end, defeats the Changeling in a fight that isn’t helped at all by 1995’s level of CGI special effects, but he and the Changeling both say that never has a Changeling ever hurt another one.
Really? Never? That seems…unlikely. I get that the Changelings routinely morph into one another, but they aren’t a hive mind. You mean at no point in the entire history of this species there wasn’t one that wasn’t right in its gooey head and didn’t haul off and attack another one?
Oh wait. Yes, there is. Odo.
Though the other Changeling didn’t have any problem getting a ship with Odo on board blown to bits.
Regardless, Odo does have a disquieting message at the episode’s end. He was told the Changelings are everywhere.
That seems like a good way to end the season since, for the series’s return in season four, the show brought in a popular character from another series to help out. That I can’t wait for.