"When it Rains..." 
Season Seven, Episode 21
Teleplay by Rene Echevarria
Story by Rene Echevarria & Spike Steingasser
Directed by Michael Dorn
Music by Paul Baillargeon
Main Cast:
Avery Brooks as Captain Benjamin Sisko
Rene Auberjonois as Odo
Nicole deBoer as Lt Ezri Dax
Michael Dorn as Lt Cmdr Worf
Cirroc Lofton as Jake Sisko
Colm Meaney as Chief Miles O'Brien
Armin Shimerman as Quark
Alexander Siddig as Dr Julian Bashir
Nana Visitor as Colonel Kira Nerys  

Guest Stars:
Louise Fletcher as Kai Winn
Marc Alaimo as Dukat
Andrew J. Robinson as Garak
Casey Biggs as Damar
J.G. Hertzler as Martok
Barry Jenner as Admiral Ross
Robert O'Reilly as Chancellor Gowron
John Vickery as Gul Rosot
Scott Burkholder as Commander Hilliard
Stephen Yoakam as Velal
Vaughn Armstrong as Seskal
Colby French as Ensign Weldon


"You need a lesson in humility. I'm going to see that you get it."
"By putting me out on the street?!"
"You'll find that the Bajoran people are very kind. A blind beggar
will elicit their sympathies. With any luck you'll earn enough
to eat and perhaps even enough for shelter each night."
-- Winn and Dukat. How the mighty have fallen!


On board DS9, the Federation Alliance broods their devastating loss at Chin'Toka. The Breen energy dissipator disabled the entire fleet, bar one ship -- the Ki'Tang, a Klingon Bird of Prey which happened to have a random variance in its reactor. Presumably, if the rest of the Klingon fleet simulated a similar variance, they would also be immune to the weapon. But this is not an option for Federation and Romulan ships, so for the meantime, the Klingons must hold the borders.

But Sisko has another plan up his sleeve -- they must find a way to help Damar, whose fledgling Resistance movement against the Dominion may be the key to victory. He reasons that Damar needs someone with experience in Resistance tactics -- and that someone is Colonel Kira. Kira is reluctant, holding a great deal of animosity toward Damar, who cold-bloodedly murdered Ziyal. She agrees, however, to put her personal feelings behind her and enlists the help of Odo and Garak, who manage to track down Damar's cell. Garak warns that the Cardassians will have a hard time taking orders from a former Bajoran terrorist, so to try and allay the situation, Kira is given a Starfleet commission to the rank of Commander. With a Starfleet uniform, she will carry greater authority and will represent the Federation's support.

Before Odo leaves, Bashir takes a sample of his "goo" for an experiment in creating morphogenic organ tissue for use in battlefield trauma. Upon later analysis of the sample, Bashir is horrified to discover that Odo is infected with the disease that is killing the Founders. He informs Odo, who is understandably shaken, but insists on carrying on with the mission. Bashir pledges to find a cure, but his request to Starfleet Medical for a copy of Odo's medical files strangely meets against a brick wall. For some reason, Odo's medical file is classified. Fortunately, Sisko has the necessary clearance, but Bashir discovers that the file is a fake, stitched together from Doctor Mora's early work with Odo.

Someone doesn't want him to get to the bottom of this and that someone is clearly Section 31, the covert rogue branch of Starfleet Intelligence that is willing to stoop to any means to ensure Federation security. At first Bashir, working with O'Brien, presumes that Section 31 simply don't want him to find a cure to the disease, in the event that it may fall into the hands of the Founders. But further investigation reveals the unthinkable -- Section 31 created the disease, deliberately infecting Odo, thus using him as a carrier to infect the Great Link. In short, they used Odo as an instrument to commit genocide. Although deciding not to inform Sisko, they pledge to find a way to cure Odo and outwit the dangerous Section 31.

Meanwhile, Chancellor Gowron, leader of the Klingon High Council, arrives aboard DS9 to present Martok with the prestigous Star of Kahless in recognition of his outstanding performance as head of the Klingon fleet. However, following the ceremony, Gowron declares that he will now be taking direct command of the Klingon fleet. He immedaitely orders the fleet to go on the offensive, making reckless, ill-considered decisions that are more likely to ensure defeat than victory. Clearly, Gowron is trying to undermine Martok, whose high-standing within the Empire might make him a threat to Gowron's leadership.

On Bajor, Winn continues to try and unlock the secrets of the Kosst Amojan, the key to releasing the Pah-wraiths. Now aware of Dukat's true identity and the extent of his deception, she uses every opportunity to vent her hatred and fury at the horrors he perpetrated against her people during the Occupation. When Dukat defies her orders and sneaks a look at the Kosst Amojan, he is rewarded with a blast of energy which blinds him. Winn is furious and takes perverse delight in his predicament, proclaiming that the Pah-wraiths have punished him for his arrogance. Deciding he needs a lesson in humility, she has him thrown out onto the streets, claiming that a blind beggar will elicit pity from passersby.

Kira, Odo and Garak arrive at Damar's base, but the tension between both parties is immediately felt. The Cardassians find it difficult taking advice from a former Bajoran terrorist and go out of their way to provoke Kira and Odo. Although Odo initially has his hands full helping Kira keep a level head, he is in for a shock when he discovers that the symptoms of his disease have already set in...


What does he mean by "hmmmm", you wonder? That's a good question. When it Rains... is another important segment in DS9's Final Chapter, an episode that -- like its predecessors -- is jam-packed with interesting twists and turns, numerous plot and character developments and pivotal set-up for future episodes. Unlike its predecessors, however, it all falls rather flat. I'm not in the mood to sugar-coat things, so I'm going to tell it like it is: When it Rains... is a lacklustre plod that, thanks to sub-par execution on a number of fronts, is a huge anti-climax following last week's rousing cliff-hanger. Just as The Changing Face of Evil brought the Final Chapter up to warp speed, along comes When it Rains... to grind the pace to an abrupt, untimely halt.

So, who's to blame? Actually, "blame" isn't a word I particularly like, so let's ask who's responsible? Will the three gentlemen in the back row please stand up. Could I have your names, please? Yup...thought so: Michael Dorn...Paul Baillargeon...and Rene Echevarria. The three of you stand charged with various blunders relating to the episode in question.

We'll start with you, Mister Dorn. Is it true that you were responsible for directing the said episode? And do you deny that you did a less-than-stellar job in doing so? Would I care to elaborate? Why, certainly. The main problem with this episode is the fact it's so dull. It plods from scene to scene with little in the way of impetus or drive, much less drama. Developments that should have felt momentous and startling instead came across as being terribly run-of-the-mill and routine. Perhaps members of the jury would care to compare this episode with either the preceding or succeeding instalments, both of which feature outstanding work on the directorial front, vividly demonstrating exactly what can be achieved by good helmsmanship. Incidentally, further damning evidence includes a number of awkward pauses that I very much doubt were intentional, and a horrendously abrupt conclusion.

Now, please stand up Mister Rene Echevarria. Ladies and gentleman of the jury, Mister Echevarria wrote this week's episode and it must be noted that ordinarily I worship the ground he stands on. Echevarria has penned some of Star Trek's greatest episodes, including Chimera, Children of Time and The Visitor -- which is arguably the best episode of Trek ever filmed, and for which Echevarria did an uncredited re-write. I love you, man! However, When it Rains... was not Echevarria at his best. I remember reading an interview a couple of years back -- during the sixth season Dominion Occupation arc -- in which Echevarria admitted that he felt better suited to writing stand-alone character studies than serialised "arc" episodes. I think he's also a lot better at them, as well, particularly if this and Penumbra are anything to go by.

The main problem with When it Rains... is not the underlying material itself, but the way it's presented. Echevarria's script is pretty much a patch-work affair in which everything is thrown together with little thought to dramatic structure or coherence. It suffers as a result. Again, it probably doesn't help that both the previous and the succeeding episodes are absolute gems. Take a look at either one and you'll see superb examples of the type of tight, well-measured plotting that makes for good drama. A writer has to be in control -- throwing everything into a bowl, giving it a shake and hoping for the best is simply not an option. But given the sheer beauty of Chimera a few episodes back, I'm willing to forgive Echeverria just about anything at this point. I can accept that his strong point is character drama and that he gets a little lost when it comes to serialised storytelling. I just wish the writing staff had picked up on this and proceeded accordingly.

Now, last but not least, I'd like to lay into Paul Baillargeon, this week's composer. It should be noted that his last effort, for The Siege of AR-558 earlier this season, was nothing short of astounding, adding a great deal of emotional resonance and impact to an already superlative episode. It's still a top contender for best score of the season. Unfortunately, his score for When it Rains... is more of a contender for the worst score category -- and it'd likely win, as well. First of all, take a look at David Bell's magnificently bombastic music in Tacking into the Wind and you'll realise exactly how much a good score can enhance an episode. Rarely am I in the position to say that an episode's score actually had a detrimental effect, but that's precisely what happened this week. In a word, bleah! In a few more words: it's a bland, woefully ineffective mess, alternating between jarringly screechy and inappropriately muted and wishy-washy. I don't mean to sound mean but I'm merely "telling it like it is"!

Anyway, the jury is now out. And I have no idea why this review has ended up sounding like the Spanish Inquisition. Don't get me wrong, it's certainly not a bad episode. If you want a bad episode, just you wait for Extreme Measures! It's just, in terms of execution, I found it rather lacking. In theory, it ought to have been DS9 at its best but, in practise, it made for a rather underwhelming hour. It rarely does justice to the underlying material, most of which is extremely interesting.

If any particular quality pervades When it Rains..., it's a sense of irony. In my last review, I spoke a little about the ingenious twist that now sees Cardassia in exactly the same situation it was responsible for putting Bajor in. For sixty years, the Cardassians brutally occupied Bajor, subjugating the Bajoran people and bleeding the planet dry. Now, seven years on, the shoe is on the other foot -- Cardassia is occupied by its supposed "ally", the Dominion, to whom the Cardassians are an expendable resource in their thirst for conquest. The parallels are almost beyond the realm of irony, indeed, one could well call the situation karmic. As you sow, so shall you reap and the villains have become the victims.

Capitalising on this, the writers come up with another brainwave: namely sending Kira -- who's spent the better part of her life fighting the Cardassians -- to assist Damar in leading his Resistance movement. The tables have indeed been turned. The whole situation is simply inspired and it has to be said that Kira's role in these final few episodes is absolutely sublime. Ever since she was old enough to comprehend what they'd done to her people, she'd hated the Cardassians and the moment she was old enough to pick up a phaser she dedicated her life to fighting them. Yet now, here she is, aiding and abetting her nemesis, in a pointed demonstration of how much she's grown over seven short years. One could be forgiven for thinking this twist had been planned from the show's inception. It's perfection, sheer perfection.

However, if you were paying attention during the courtroom drama above, you'll know that I wasn't especially bowled over by the execution on a number of levels. This is no exception -- as an idea I love it but in terms of presentation it's not without its problems. The build-up was pretty routine for a start and it never quite leads anywhere -- at least, not yet. Looking at the notes I took whilst watching the episode, I can see I scrawled down "doesn't quite live up to the genius of its premise". Indeed. When Kira and co reach their destination, we have the tension and awkwardness that's to be expected and, later on, a fair bit of snide, petty bickering as well. Yeah, yeah, yeah -- there's nothing here that couldn't have been predicted a mile-off. Basically, what we have here is set-up. As such there's not much I can say about it other than it did what it set out to do. Stay tuned for the real meat 'n' potatoes.

Another aspect of the episode that fell into the "great idea but poorly executed" trap was the Section 31 sub-plot. I don't quite know what went wrong, suffice to say what could have been the high point of the episode was instead about the weakest. The revelation that Odo is infected with a terminal disease ought to have been like a punch in the gut -- but remarkably it had little effect on me whatsoever. Why? Have I become a heartless jerk? Given that the very next episode had me fighting back tears, I guess the answer has to be no. The problem lies right here -- Echeverria's script is like a cold and calculated game of chess, Dorn's directing is sloppy and ineffective and Baillargeon's music is dreadful. Is it a wonder it all falls flat? Bashir's attempts to get to the bottom of the conspiracy at Starfleet Medical are wordy and copiously dull, carrying very little dramatic punch. Where's the drama in someone spending half an episode either on a computer or the telephone? One of the basic rules of televisual drama -- don't tell us, show us. Instead this is all talk, no drama.

What adds insult to injury is the fact that Section 31's involvement is a fascinating development, one that's full of great potential. The notion that a branch of Starfleet deliberately used Odo as an instrument to commit genocide opens a veritable can of worms. On paper, it's as riveting as it is shocking and appalling. It ought to have made for spell-binding drama. But it didn't, for it's a lacklustre talkathon that never quite gives us reason to be involved, much less care. It's all set-up -- pretty lame set-up at that -- that never comes close to delivering pay-off. And what the hell was up with the ending? Bashir and O'Brien are in the infirmary droning through more endless dialogue when, all of a sudden, we cut to the end credits. What the hell was up with everyone this week? They couldn't even get a decent ending out of it. Damned shoddy, if you ask me.

Moving on, two other elements shoe-horned into the mix are the continuing "will-they-or-won't they" exploits of Ezri and Julian and the return of Ol' Bug Eyes himself, Chancellor Gowron. The former is starting to wear pretty thin indeed -- this marks the fifth episode in a row that delves into Ezri's love life. Will she and Julian get together and end up happily ever after? And more importantly, does anyone still care? Despite all the attention lil' Ezri got when she joined the cast at the beginning of the year, it's quite sad that all the character essentially boiled down to was a girl for Bashir. Their continuing mating dance isn't without its goofy charm here and there, but the bottom line is, with so many other important, pivotal goings-on, I can think of far worthier candidates to take up precious screen time at this point.

As for the Klingon sub-plot? Again, it's little more than set-up for the explosive confrontation that will take place next week. At this point I have little to say other than Gowron is a complete and utter idiot. Seemingly threatened by Martok's popularity within the Empire, he's willing to jeopardise the entire Alpha Quadrant simply to gain political leverage and prevent Martok from becoming a potential rival to his throne. That's politics for you, I guess. Incidentally, this isn't the first time we've seen Gowron behave in such a manner -- back in TNG's Rightful Heir, Gowron was reeling at the prospect Kahless had returned from the dead. The fact that Kahless would stabilise and unify the Empire was irrelevant to Gowron, whose only care was his own power. This time, however, it would seem he's signed his own death warrant. Stay tuned...

And finally, I've saved the best bit 'til last! It probably will come as no surprise that the highlight of the episode is the continuing shenanigans of Winn and Dukat, whose unholy alliance has been a firm highlight of the past few episodes. It began with Dukat worming his way into Winn's trust and confidence, manipulating her into embracing the sworn enemies of her people and basically pulling her strings like a puppet. Last week, however, things began to spin out of his control when the ill-fated Solbor revealed his true identity to a shocked Winn, who had been completely taken in by his masquerade. Now, it's Winn who's firmly in control of the situation and she gives Dukat no illusions as to his place. "I thought my place was in your bed," he grins. "That was before I knew who you were," she shoots back. Like all Bajorans, Winn suffered greatly at the hands of the Cardassians during the Occupation and she takes no remorse in venting her hatred at Dukat, who was for many the very face of the Occupation.

Trying to gain the upper hand, Dukat sneaks a look at the Kosst Amojan, only to be struck blind by the Wraiths as a punishment for his arrogance. Winn takes perverse delight in his predicament, in scenes that are wonderfully played by Louise Fletcher. Deciding to teach the Cardassian war criminal a lesson in humility, she has him cast out onto the streets where he must beg for food and shelter. "You'll find the Bajoran people are very kind," she tells him, barely masking her venom. What a delightfully ironic twist! This is just classic stuff. A blind Dukat begging on the streets of Bajor? I may have mixed feelings about this episode as a whole, but it's worth the price admission for this magnificent twist of fate alone. Absolutely sublime!

Miscellaneous comments:

There we go, another episode given the once-over. Summing up, it's an hour filled with a lot of interesting -- occasionally ingenious -- ideas, but the impact is definitely blunted by a number of creative blunders. All in all, a sub-par episode for DS9, particularly given the high quality of the arc thus far. Still, as a mere link in a chain, it nevertheless serves its purpose. Does that make it better than the sum of its parts? I don't know. The jury's not back yet.

Rating: 6.5

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