Deep Space Nine returned after a fourth season finale that suggested the suddenly hostile Klingon Chancellor Gowron was secretly replaced by a Changeling. So, really, the thing to do now is try and prove it.
Easier said than done.
That is the plot here as Sisko is given the order to lead a deep cover team and prove Gowron is a Changeling. He has a prototype device that is good for one burst of radiation that can prove someone is a Changeling and not a “solid,” and that’s all he has. Bashir can surgically alter some folks to look like Klingons, and that means Sisko, O’Brien, and the now-solid Odo have Klingon faces while Worf goes along to offer pointers on Klingon behavior. Sisko can call in a favor with Gul Dukat to get a ride in Dukat’s stolen Klingon Bird of Prey, and once at a ceremony to join the Order of the Bat’leth, the hope is the foursome can prove Gorwon isn’t a Klingon.
It’s a trip that doesn’t quite go off without a hitch. Dukat, seeing his holographic comm systems are on the fritz, destroys another Klingon ship when challenged, and he won’t stick around to take Sisko and the others home. If they are successful at unmasking the Changeling in the Klingon government, that might mean the war is over and they won’t have a problem getting a ride back to Deep Space Nine. If they aren’t successful…well, they’ll be dead. That would be worse.
Of course, there are other problems. Odo is depressed over his exile from his own people, and he’s perhaps not in the right headspace for a mission like this even if no one knows the Changelings better than he does. O’Brien keeps making small mistakes that a Klingon warrior would easily see through. Sisko is an eager student at least. If nothing else, the Captain seems to really be getting into his role. Left unmentioned is Worf, even with long hair, still has the same face and voice, so I would think there’s a good chance Gowron would recognize him, but that isn’t what gets the group caught.
Oh, something does get the group caught, but it isn’t the obvious thing.
Now, honestly, Sisko at least seems to be having fun on this mission, and that fun is contagious. True, he isn’t happy when he hears Klingons bragging about how they murdered friends of his in combat, but he’s always able to find an excuse to smack the crap out of those guys anyway. If anything, he’s almost a natural, to the point where Worf’s suggestions are relatively mild compared to Odo and O’Brien’s mistakes.
No, the thing that gets the group caught is the surprise return of General Martok. It’s made worse when he recognizes Sisko and exposes the foursome.
But then he helps them out a cell to kill Gowron, a one-on-one match between Gowron and Worf, and…that’s when Odo realizes the real Changeling is Martok because a Klingon wouldn’t give up the chance of honorable combat the way Martok did.
One small suggestion Worf didn’t cover: being a spy inside a Klingon ceremony that is working to get the Chancellor killed is a bad idea as Klingons go places armed. That was one dead pile of Changeling goop.
So, it looks like the war is over, though oddly this did nothing for Worf’s loss of honor apparently. Sisko will miss the fangs, but Odo seems in a better place even if he turns down the opportunity to get a different permanent face from Bashir.
Anyway, good opening for the season, especially since it does suggest the real threat to the Dominion is the Klingons and the Federation working together again. That isn’t set in stone yet, but at least they’re talking again.