Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"The Adversary"

“The Adversary” has always been one of my personal favorites. Season finales tend to kick it up a notch anyway, but I appreciate how different from usual Trek the episode is more than just the effort to make something to tide fans over for the summer hiatus. The story is full of desperate paranoia within a claustrophobic environment while a clock ticks away, all with a direct mission--find and kill the monster.

It is good enough I can excuse the peculiar set up. Right after a ceremony to celebrate his promotion to captain, an ambassador orders Sisko to take the Defiant to patrol the border of an alien race the Federation has fought a war with sometime I the recent past. They have allegedly had a coup, so the federation wants to scope out the situation. A Changeling saboteur locks them out of the controls and sends the Defiant on a course to attack an outer colony with the hopes of starting a war. Sisko sets theself-destruct sequence for a time before they reach weapons range. The rest is a catand mouse game of finding the Changeling before it is too late.

Okay. How can an ambassador order a military operation? Surely there is a line between the diplomatic corps and Starfleet. There never was a coup. It turns out to be a Changeling plot. The ambassador wasa Changeling the entire time. But no one decided to look into the latest news about the coup first or check with Starfleet at any point? I imagine they had to question Sisko’s promotion when it was all said and done.

Otherwise, I appreciated the darker tone. Everyone suspects everyone else of being the Changeling after it reverts from the ambassador to being an on the run fugitive. The Eddington is the sinister red herring pays off as we think of him as the most likely suspect. It turns out to be Bashir for the longest time, however. Ironic, considering he will eventually be replaced by a Changeling again in a future plotline. Eddington turns out to eventually be a traitor to the Maquis, so there is your double whammy.

Two lines have important implications later. First, Odo reiterates that no Changeling has ever harmed another shortly before he kills the saboteur in order to save the ship. His people will eventually punish him for the murder. Secondly, Eddigton laments that he will never be captain because security officers rarely get to take command. He is complaining about not getting a chance at glory, which reveals his probable motivation for joining the Maquis--he wants to be a hero.

The episode ends on the ominous note that the Changeling’s last words to Odo was they were everywhere. It is going to take a awhile for that revelation to obviously pay off. The Klingon-Federation skirmishes in the early fourth season will not be revealed as a Changeling plot until the end of the season--retroactively continuity, I suspect, too. But the Changelings on earth storyline that hit’s the middle of the next season is worth the wait.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

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