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S03.E21: The Die is Cast (Part 2)

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Garak reluctantly tortures Odo for information to prove his loyalty to his former mentor, Enabran Tain, as a joint Tal Shiar/Obsidian Order attack on the Founders in the Omarian Nebula is underway, without Starfleet's involvement.

 

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This is the episode where shot gets real with the Dominion. Not only being able to wipe out a Cardassian/Romulans fleet but knowing about it and actually pushing the plan along. The Changling tells them that the Cardassians and Romulans are no longer a theat, but since the Cardassians (and presumably the Romulans) built special fleets for this attack you would think their standard military foraces would be a threat.

Garak shines in this episode and we get some payoff the his mysterious, lie-filled background. Much better than someone like Guinan who had all this build up and never had anything particularly interesting revealed.

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I think one of my favourite things about this episode is that it shows that real world governing (or at least, fictional futuristic governing!) is going on even when the main cast isn't around. Too often shows decide that only their characters can make a difference in their Universe, so it was nice for once to have events occur completely independent of any characters we know (OK, Odo and Garak are regular characters, but the invasion of the Gamma Quadrant would have occurred without them). Of course it was a total fuck up, but that happens IRL too!

 

As for why the Dominion would no longer consider Cardassians and Romulans a threat - well, as well as kicking their asses, the Dominion proved they could completely penetrate their security and annihilate their fleet (admittedly, it was an ambush, which makes it easier) which is the sort of thing that makes military planners think really hard before trying again. Without going too spoiler heavy, it's not like they completely disappear as military forces.

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This is one of my favourite episode mostly because of Garak. It probably the most complete look we get into his character in the whole series. The conversation about Mila is so beyond fucked up if you follow the EU because according to AJR Mila was Garak's mother. While the claustrophobia  and confession about Tain was interesting in season five . I feel like we actually see more of Garak in both his insecurities and strengths here. Garak is weak when he deals with Tain but he obviously cares for Odo and does well in his "work". Plus as always with Garak he gives us as many answers as questions.

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Shakespeare references are always tricky to pull off without appearing pretentious, but the Julius Caesar theme really works in this instance; with Garak not only paralleling the titular character in not predicting his old mentor Tain was the one going after him, but Enabran himself tragically unable to see that he too would be betrayed by his own seemingly Romulan allies. 

 

Heck, one could even see Dukat's eventual fall as a reference as well, with the great military leader unable to comprehend that the one he was closest to and loved most (Brutus for Caesar, Ziyal for Dukat) were capable of betraying him.



In the end, "The fault lies not in the stars, but in ourselves" indeed. 

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There are a number of nice touches I saw when I saw this again: the relationship between Tain & Garak is so hideously twisted; Lovok's true nature is quite nicely foreshadowed and we even get Commander Eddington rebelling against Sisko (...in the interests of Starfleet!). Though actually that last point creates a slight plot hole: the Admiral at the end says something like, "I couldn't decide whether to court martial you or maybe worse, promote you!" That would work as a threat to Kirk or Picard, but Sisko has explicitly stated that he WANTS to climb the rank ladder - and of course (minor spoiler for a couple of episodes time) they DO promote him. Starfleet is weird!

ETA: I don't really buy that Garak would hide Odo's confession from Tain (I guess he doesn't want it getting back to DS9 and spreading ANY secret is a bad idea if you want them to stay secrets, but at that point Garak had pretty much decided to go back to working for the Obsidian Order and Tain was fully intending to execute Odo), but I have to say Odo has to be the most forgiving guy ever to be all, "It's OK, we're cool" at the end (not his actual words, obviously!)

Edited by John Potts

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In the scene where Garak is torturing Odo, Garak clearly realizes that he wasn't enjoying it as he used too. And as for Tain buying it, he was a bit busy dealing with the Dominion at the time.

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