"The Dogs of War" 
Season Seven, Episode 24
Teleplay by Rene Echevarria and Ronald D Moore
Story by Peter Allan Fields
Directed by Avery Brooks
Music by David Bell
Main Cast:
Avery Brooks as Captain 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:
Andrew J. Robinson as Garak
Penny Johnson as Kasidy Yates
Jeffrey Combs as Weyoun and Brunt
Max Grodenchik as Rom
Casey Biggs as Damar
Wallace Shawn as Grand Nagus Zek
Cecily Adams as Ishka (Moogie)
J.G. Hertzler as Chancellor Martok
Salome Jens as Female Changeling
Chase Masterson as Leeta
Aron Eisenberg as Nog
Barry Jenner as Admiral Ross
Julianna McCarthy as Mila
Tiny Ron as Maihar'du
Mel Johnson, Jr as Legate Broca
Vaughn Armstrong as Seskal
Stephen Yoakam as Velal
David B. Levison as Broik
Cathy Debuono as M'Pella
Leroy D. Brazile as Lonar
Majel Barrett as Federation Computer Voice

"Give me liberty, or give me death..."
-- Patrick Henry (Dedication plaque, USS Sao Paulo)


The crew of DS9 anxiously await the arrival of the USS Sao Paulo, the starship which is to replace the Defiant, which was destroyed in battle. As Admiral Ross transfers the ship to Sisko's command, he points out that Starfleet has granted dispensation to change the ship's name from Sao Paulo to Defiant.

Meanwhile, in their stolen Jem'Hadar warship, Kira, Damar and Garak return to Cardassia Prime to rendezvous with Gul Revok and Legate Goris, who have pledged themselves and some half a million troops to join the Resistance. However, when they beam down to the arranged co-ordinates, they discover they have walked into a trap and Jem'Hadar soldiers have infiltrated the base, killing Damar's men. They contact their ship for an emergency beam-out, but the ship is under attack and is destroyed by the Jem'Hadar. Kira, Damar and Garak are stranded on Cardassia. Fortunately, they haven't been spotted by the Jem'Hadar and Garak leads them to safety -- in the home of his father, Enabran Tain, the late head of the Obsidian Order. Now only Mila, their housekeeper lives in the house and she agrees to let them hide out in the basement.

Quark receives a message from Grand Nagus Zek. The message is marred by static, making conversation difficult, but the gist of it is that Zek has decided to retire to Risa and he is on his way to DS9 to announce Quark as his successor.  Meanwhile, Bashir certifies Odo fit for duty, but has to inform him the truth behind his condition -- namely that he was deliberately infected by Section 31 to serve as a carrier to transmit the disease to the Founders. Odo is appalled that Federation citizens have attempted to use him as an instrument of genocide. He takes the matter to Sisko, who claims that although the Federation is similarly appalled at Section 31's actions, they have decided not to share the cure with the Founders in light of the war effort. Odo points out that although Starfleet claims to abhorr Section 31's actions, the truth is that they are willing to turn a blind eye whenever it suits them. "It's a tidy little arrangement, wouldn't you say?" Sisko makes Odo promise that he won't take matters into his own hands.

Bashir and Ezri, meanwhile, finally confront their feelings for each other, having been skirting around each other for weeks. They resolve, somewhat reluctantly, that despite their mutual attraction, they don't want to jeopardise their friendship. As Quark relishes his impending Nagus-hood, his nemesis Brunt arrives -- not to cause trouble, for once, but to suck up to the new Nagus.

On Cardassia, Weyoun makes an address to the Cardassian people, announcing that Damar has been killed and his Resistance group obliterated. Clearly, the Dominion believe Damar was killed when his ship was destroyed. Kira tries to motivate Damar and Garak, but at the moment there seems little option for them but to spend the rest of the war hiding out in Mila's basement. Mila, however, explains that Damar's death has made him a martyr among their people. If he were to make a stand, others would follow. He, Kira and Garak make plans to incite a revolution.

Quark learns from the obsequious new-best-friend Brunt that there have been sweeping changes taking place on Ferenginar; in addition to equal rights for females, Zek has introduced various social and welfare reforms. Quark is disgusted that the Ferenginar he knows and loves has been reduced to a democracy wherein the revered qualities of greed and avarice have become redundant. While lamenting the situation to Rom, who successfully buys the bar from him, he decides that as Nagus, he is going to eradicate this "disease" that is eating away at the heart of Ferengi culture. "The line has to be drawn here!! This point, and no farther!"

News, meantime, has reached Cardassia that the Federation has developed a counter-measure to the Breen energy-dissipating weapon. The Founder has decided that a change of tactics is called for. She explains to Weyoun, Thot Pran and Legate Broca, the newly-instated leader of Cardassia, that they are going to pull back their forces into Cardassian space where they will concentrate their forces and use the time to initiate a massive ship-building effort.

Elsewhere on Cardassia, Damar and cohorts launch their offensive. Garak has planted a bomb inside a Jem'Hadar barracks, although he is apprehended by Jem'Hadar soldiers. Kira and Damar come to his rescue and they hastily retreat to a safe distance as the bomb detonates. Amid the smouldering ruins, Damar and calls forth to all Cardassians present to rise up and join him in his crusade to defeat the Dominion and liberate their homeland. He stirs a burning passion among the crowd and they rally around and pledge their lives to join him in freeing Cardassia. The revolution has begun!

Matters of a more intimate nature come to a head when Bashir and Ezri run into each other in a turbolift and by the time they reach their destination, Ops, they are locked in a passionate embrace, oblivious to all else. O'Brien and Worf note with relief that it's about time the two sorted things out. In Quark's, Zek and Ishka arrive and are bombarded by Quark's fiery pledge to restore Ferenginar to its origin state as soon as he's crowned Nagus. "Who wants you to be Nagus?" retorts Ishka. It seems both Quark and Zek got the wrong end of the stick -- Zek intended to make Rom Nagus. Owing to the static that garbled his earlier message, Zek mistook Quark for Rom. Zek notes that the new Ferenginar needs a new kind of Nagus, "a kinder, gentler Nagus". Quark is incensed and declares that, as far as he is concerned, the Ferenginar he knew and loved is dead -- and only exists in his bar. His bar will stand as a monument to all that made Ferenginar great. He declares that he will buy the bar back off Rom, but Rom tenderly tells his brother that he can have the bar as a present.

In the wardroom, Sisko convenes a meeting with Admiral Ross, Chancellor Martok and Romulan Senator Velal. They discuss the Dominion's retreat back to Cardassia. They grimly acknowledge that, although an offensive will be costly, they cannot allow the Dominion to rebuild its fleet. They opt to launch a major offensive against the Dominion, one that will determine the the outcome of the war one way or the other.

Sisko returns to his quarters, where Kasidy informs him that she is pregnant. Although not exactly planned ("looks like one of us forgot to take his injection last month"), Sisko is delighted at the news. Kasidy, on the other hand, is deeply concerned, recalling the Prophets' warning that Sisko must not marry her. What if this warning had something to do with their baby? Sisko gently reassures her that everything is going to be alright. If only he could believe that himself...

Can you believe that's us onto the penultimate episode of DS9? About friggin' time, too, I hear someone calling! Before I dive into this latest review, I must shamefully lower my head and admit that it has taken me little short of a year to review the latter half of DS9's seventh season. Let the rotten tomato-throwing commence! I can only apologise profusely and explain that this has been an especially busy year for me. Work and family commitments have had to take precedence over these lil' reviews, which are invariably not so lil' and which can take a heck of a long time to write!  So I thank everyone for their patience and support -- it's been a long haul, but we're nearly there now! Besides, I must admit it's kinda nice being the only Trek critic (to my knowledge) who is still reviewing DS9. There's no one around to contradict me! Heh hee. ;-D

Incidentally, still on administrative matters, a couple of people have asked me if I intend to go back to DS9's roots and review its earlier seasons, as I had indicated I might do on my site. Unfortunately, I can't see any let-up on the work or home fronts in the immediate future, so I'm afraid I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you. It's been struggle enough getting through these final seventh season episodes, without taking on the first five seasons and some 120+ episodes. That would be a sure ticket to complete nervous breakdown! But, hey, never say never. You could well find that, like a bad smell, I linger! :-)

Anyway, back to the episode at hand. The words "second-last ever episode of DS9" and "Ferengi fest" do not have pleasant connotations. Particularly given that fact that the previous two Ferengi-heavy episodes, The Emporer's New Cloak and Profit and Lace have been awful and profoundly awful respectively. With DS9 chock-full of all sorts of plot-lines vying for resolution, and the minutes rapidly ticking by, was it wise to reintroduce yet another storyline to the mix -- and probably the show's most reviled at that? Nope. It was not wise. But, you know what? Against all expectations, seemingly against the laws of the universe itself...it works, it actually works!

If there's one ongoing theme that's bound together these final episodes, it's one of society undergoing great upheaval and unrest as its people fight to let go of the ways of old and fight for a better future. The most prominent example has been Damar's battle to liberate Cardassia, and there have been clear parallels in the resolution to the Klingon arc and, to a lesser extent, in the Section 31 storyline which highlighted the corruption eating away at the very heart of the Federation (although the writers opted not to pick up on this). Now, we learn that a silent revolution has occurred on Ferenginar. Under the leadership of Grand Nagus Zek -- and no doubt due in very large part to the influence of Quark and Rom's "Moogie", Ishka -- Ferenginar has gradually become a democratic welfare state.

Quite how Ferenginar has undergone such a dramatic transformation without Quark hearing so much as a peep about it is a little baffling, as is the fact that evidently the Ferengi people accepted these changes at all. When Quark quizzes Brunt about these new reforms, Brunt simply shrugs and casually dismisses it. Are we to accept that the rest of the Ferengi Alliance did likewise and that Quark was the only one to oppose Zek's new reforms? We did, I suppose, see some resistance to Zek's radical new legislation in Profit and Lace, where he was basically run out of town for allowing females to wear clothing, but frankly that's an episode I've done my damndest to forget. In fact, in light of that particular abomination, it's extremely doubtful that anyone was left caring one way or the other.

But what we do still care about are the characters -- specifically Quark and Rom -- and this storyline is successful in large part because it stays firmly rooted in its characterisation. The tone is still primarily comedic, as seems prerequisite for a Ferengi outing, but it is supported by the adept characterisation and the underlying realisation that this particular episode will effectively seal the fates of these characters once and for all. Quark, of course, is disgusted by the changes that have destroyed the Ferenginar he knew and loved. "What have you come to if you can't demand sexual favours from the people in your employ?!" he laments at one point, with regard to workers' rights. He surmises that Ferengi society has been infected by a disease that's eroded its very heart and soul (or perhaps lack thereof) and, what's more, he's been affected by it as well.

Over the years we've seen Quark quietly and gradually develop a conscience and, dare I say it, even a bit of a heart, as well. What makes this turn of events delightfully ironic and strangely appropriate to the spirit of the character is that when Quark realises this, he actually abhors it and makes a firm resolution to revert to his old ways! In other words, we have a character who makes a conscious choice to regress rather than develop. And so Quark opts to use his position as the next Nagus restore Ferenginar to its former glory. "The line has to be drawn here!! This point and no further!!" he bellows, in a hilarious misquote of Picard's memorable line in Star Trek: First Contact.

The twist is that the position of Nagus was never intended for Quark, but for Rom. What could have been hopelessly contrived and downright nonsensical actually makes a great deal of sense given that this new Ferenginar will need a new kind of Nagus -- and who better for the job than Rom? Rom may be a hopeless businessman, but he has a heart of gold and one can be assured that, in Rom's hands, Ferenginar will continue its metamorphosis into something far greater. Good on ya, buddy!

As for Quark? His pride somewhat bruised and still fuming over the demise of his culture, he declares that his bar shall stand as the last remaining testament to what made the Ferengi civilisation great -- namely insatiable greed, avarice and, well, greed again. Personally speaking, I think this was a very nice place to leave the character; he's basically come full circle and is right back where he started. I agree with Armin Shimerman that Quark is very much the heart of the station and somehow I find it rather comforting that he's remaining there. Kudos to Armin Shimerman and Max Grodenchik for some excellent work. In particular, their final scene where Rom offers to give Quark back the bar as a gift was wonderfully performed -- just look at the tears welling up in Grodenchik's eyes toward the final shot. Never fail to get a lump in my throat at that point!

Although this is clearly the best Ferengi episode we've had in years, perhaps excepting The Magnificent Ferengi, it wasn't without its problems. The feeling I'm left with is that this should have been done earlier in the arc. The juxtaposition between the fluffy Ferengi shenanigans and the infinitely more serious Cardassia plot was awkward to say the least. I mean, cutting from the devastating destruction of Damar's entire resistance movement to the sight of...Brunt painting Quark's toenails?! The juggling between these two starkly oblique plots lent the episode an unbalanced, uneven feel. It's certainly not enough to blight an otherwise enjoyable hour, but it has to be taken into account nonetheless.

This leads us to the real "meat and potatoes" of the episode which charts the rise and fall (or should that be fall and rise?) of Damar's rebellion on Cardassia. The Dominion succeeds in luring the Resistance into a trap, which Damar, Kira and Garak only just manage to escape. They seek refuge in the basement of Mila's home -- Mila being the former house-keeper of the late Enabran Tain, Garak's father. (A number of people have speculated that Mila could actually be Garak's mother. I tend to agree with them, as a matter of fact. There always seems to be a hidden sub-text between the two, and more appears to be said in a glance between them than is ever exchanged verbally.) But although they have escaped with their lives, the Dominion has succeeded in locating and destroying all of Damar's rebel bases. The rebellion has been crushed. "We've got to do something!" cries Kira. "We're not going to spend the rest of the war sitting in this cellar! Are we?!" No one answers. At that moment, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot else they can do.

But all is not lost. According to Mila, although the rebellion may have been destroyed, it still very much lives on in the hearts of the Cardassian people. Damar's supposed death has turned him into a martyr in the eyes of his people. And so, they opt to launch a new offensive, leading a revolution from the streets of Cardassia. They bomb a Jem'Hadar barracks and Damar rises up and rallies his people to join him in his crusade to free Cardassia from its Dominion oppressors.

As with Tacking into the Wind, this storyline is beautifully-executed on all levels and makes for superb drama. I don't think there's much I can say other than it was beat-for-beat perfect in terms of scripting, characterisation, performances, directing and production values. Everything came together seamlessly and the result was an extremely compelling slice of television. As far as I'm concerned, the only slight problem is the rather precarious juxtaposition between this and the altogether lighter Ferengi plot -- and even that ultimately did little to blunt the impact. Great stuff.

Oh, but there's more! Scattered throughout the episode are various other tidbits as the writers madly scramble to get things tied up before curtain call. First of all, we have a new ship. At least, we're told that it's a new ship -- but it looks pretty much identical to the old one from where I'm sitting! After the Defiant's shocking demise in The Changing Face of Evil, a morose Sisko tells Admiral Ross that "the Defiant was the finest ship I ever commanded. There will never be another like her." Wrong on both counts, Ben! If you're going to get nit-picky about things, the Defiant was actually the only ship he commanded -- perhaps the writers were forgetting that Sisko was only First Officer aboard the Saratoga.

As for there never being another ship like her -- erm, well. So the carpet was a different colour? Whoopee! I don't have a problem with the Defiant being replaced, after all we can't expect Sisko and co to lead the invasion of Cardassia from the cockpit of a runabout! But in having a duplicate Defiant pop up a couple of weeks following the events at Chin'toka seems like a terrible cheat to me. Even if they'd kept the name as Sao Paulo it would have at least differentiated this ship from the last. As it stands, we might as well have opened the episode with Sisko stepping out of the shower, "Good Lord! I just had an awful dream that the Defiant was destroyed!" :-P Still, the blame lies with those cheapskates at the Paramount finance department who wanted to re-use special effects footage -- so basically, we had to have a duplicate of the Defiant, like it or not! Hmph!

On other fronts, there's a collective sigh of relief as the Bashir and Ezri saga finally reaches fruition with the two lovebirds finally get their act together -- and, indeed, their lips. One one hand, I could probably have done without two supposedly-mature adults behaving like lovesick prepubescent dweebs, but on the other hand, it's all rather charmingly done; particularly the final turbolift clinch which was well-executed and...well, really cute! Beyond that, however, my feelings are somewhat mixed, to be honest. In one respect it's really nice to see Bashir finally win the heart of Dax -- it's been seven long years and though Ezri may not be Jadzia, she's still a Dax. And yet, there's also a part of me that's somewhat underwhelmed -- I mean, for all the fuss and overexposure Ezri received during the first two thirds of the season, in the end all the character amounted to was a gal for Julian.

And as for Bashir himself -- is this it? He gets off with Ezri. Is this all the resolution the character gets? The previous episode squandered every last ounce of the massive potential it had in order to hammer home the fact that Bashir and O'Brien are bosom buddies (bet you never saw that one coming, eh?!) and this episode, which is essentially the last time he's featured prominently in the series sees he and Ezri consummate their immature little relationship. And, basically, that's it. The end. Why do I feel that the character has been short-changed? Alas, the answer again brings us back to the decidedly yukky Extreme Measures. Had the writers not so horribly botched that episode, what we could have seen was another In the Pale Moonlight with Bashir in Sisko's shoes.

He should have been forced to acknowledge that he himself had violated the very principles that he so loftily fought to defend. In the end, he adopted Sloan's "means to an end" tactics -- kidnapping a man, mind-raping him and showing absolutely no concern as to his life. In doing so became little better than Section 31 -- and this realisation would surely have brought the character to his knees. It could have broken him or, at the very least, forced him to see things from Sloan's perspective and to concede that idealism is not enough to survive on alone in a complex and often messy universe. Instead, the character simply looks like a blind and arrogant hypocrite -- responsible and remorseless for a man's death in one episode and in the next back to spouting forth his disgust at Section 31 -- not to mention behaving behaving like a gormless teenager on heat.

Still, the game of "what if?" is perhaps not a healthy trap to fall into (and one that I've seen a number of fans fall prey to). Those that spend their lives wondering "what if?" tend to completely bypass "what is" and thus don't live at all. You never enjoy or appreciate anything in life so long as you are wondering how it could be better. Anyway, that's Bashir for you -- it's a bit of a missed opportunity, but such is the way it goes. As for Ezri? Frankly, by this point, I've just about had enough of her and thus care neither one way or the other. Having been in the series only a short time (even if, in that time, there have been umpteen episodes about her) my emotional connection to her is pretty tenuous. Quite rightly, most the focus of the finale goes to the other, more deserving characters. I do wonder, however, if Jadzia had still been around, whether the writers would have put any more effort into providing her character with some resolution and closure? Given the way she was relegated to set decoration during her last couple of seasons, I somehow doubt it.

Having already broached the subject of Extreme Measures I almost forgot that we get some good follow-up here, even if it does smack of far too little far too late. Odo learns the truth behind his disease -- namely that he didn't contract it from the Founders, but was rather infected with it to pass onto the Founders. Understandably Odo is horrified and angrily confronts Sisko, who informs him that Starfleet has decided not to give the Founders the cure. Although I can understand Starfleet's position--namely that they are fighting for their very survival in a war against the Founders--Odo points out that by not taking action they are abetting genocide. It's a nasty, nasty business and we're given no easy answers here. This scene is superbly done and ordains to dip its feet in the fascinating moral issues that Extreme Measures so disappointingly refused to acknowledge. As such this single scene is about ten times more effective than anything in the previous episode.

The episode closes with a surprise announcement for Sisko -- Kasidy is expecting a baby. After getting over the initial surprise (this wasn't a planned pregnancy), Ben is delighted but Kasidy is concerned. She can't shake the Prophets' warning that Ben was not to marry her -- what if their warning had something to do with their baby? Ben does his best to reassure her that nothing is going to happen to their baby, but it's clear that he's not altogether certain of that himself. A pregnancy on DS9 is clearly a portent of doom -- if you'll recall Jadzia's decision to have a baby was quickly put paid to by her demise. I have to say that this was a lovely little scene; the reactions of both Ben and Kas were mature and sensitively written and well-acted with Avery Brooks putting in a particularly tender performance.

Speaking of Brooks, the man also deserves some serious commendation for his work behind the camera this week. He holds an occasionally unbalanced episode together with great aplomb, coaxing solid performances from the entire cast and displaying some notably stylish, inventive and smooth camerawork. It's rather a pity he didn't get more opportunity to don the director's cap, for I'd say his work is at least on a par with that of his much-celebrated TNG counterpart Jonathan Frakes. Special mention must also go to David Bell, whose bombastic scores can always serve to elevate an episode. It should be duly noted that he's done some great work on the show these past couple of years. Kudos, guys!

Weeeell, I do believe that's about it. The Dogs of War isn't quite what I expected from DS9's penultimate episode. The build-up to the finale is relegated to a single scene toward the end, for a start. And then there's the Ferengi involvement, although that actually works surprisingly well. It's a somewhat curious episode that mixes high drama and epic themes with fluffy comedy and various character vignettes of varying tones. The result is, as I have said, perhaps somewhat uneven in final analysis, but it nevertheless works -- and pretty darn well at that. It's not perfect, but the strengths vastly outweigh the weaknesses. Much like DS9 itself, really.

Rating: 7.5

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