Dax: …he could never see a set of admiral’s stars on your collar. He thought that just making the decisions would never satisfy you. You had to implement them, see the results, face the consequences. Curzon always thought you were the kind of man who had to be in the thick of things – not behind some desk at Headquarters.
Sisko: He was a smart old man, wasn’t he?
The crew of DS9 is preparing for an expected attack by the Jem’Hadar, but it’s not looking good. In every scenario they’ve run, w/in 2 hrs, the station will be taken over my these new baddies. Suddenly, a ship is detected very close to the station- yikes! But no worries- they’re being hailed by Sisko (Avery Brooks)- back after 2 mos. on Earth at Starfleet HQ. We see the Defiant (a prototype of a new class of starships originally designed to fight the Borg) that has a cloaking device (borrowed from the Romulans)! Starfleet and Sisko’s idea is not to wait for the Jem’Hadar to attack, but to go into Dominion’s territory in order to locate the Founders. The time for diplomacy is (probably) over, so the Federation needs to try new tactics.
[A male from a new alien race- the Karemma- comes on board the Defiant]
Ornithar: Our only contact with the Dominion has been through the Vorta. I have no idea who they report to; all I know is that the Vorta say to do something, and you do it.
Ornithar: Because if you do not, they will send in the Jem’Hadar. And then you die.
This is the first time that we hear Sisko talk of his love for Bajor; he and Jake (Cirroc Lofton) now think of DS9 as home. It’s also the first appearance of the Wardroom- where the senior officers meet. Ron Moore (who joined the writing team in S3) explained that the character of Michael Eddington (Ken Marshall) was created to fill in when Colm Meaney was away doing a film. Over the course of S3, the writers decided to expand the character. The Romulans obviously consider the Dominion to be a greater threat than the Federation; on the later seasons of TNG, the Federation had improved relationships w/ their old enemies. T’Rul (Martha Hackett)- the no-nonsense Romulan female- was created to be a recurring character. Producers realized that the character wouldn’t offer enough story material to warrant keeping her around (after these 2 eps); Hackett went on to play a key role on Star Trek: Voyager.
Moore (he started on TNG) and Behr (co-executive producer) have more freedom to innovate (moving away from usual tropes of TOS and TNG). This ep was written by Moore; it was directed by Kim Friedman. Jonathan West came on as Director of Photography (DP); he also went on to direct some eps. The studio model of the Defiant was designed by James Martin and constructed by Tony Meininger, who thought the initial design was a bit too chunky; he took inspiration from Ferraris to streamline the model, giving it a sleeker look in later eps.
Quark: I have a dream – a dream that one day all people, Human, Jem’Hadar, Ferengi, Cardassians will stand together in peace… around my dabo tables!
Odo (Rene Auberjonois) has finally found his home- a planet in the Omarion nebula. A female shapeshifter (Salome Jens) explains that they were once a race of explorers and were rejected and hunted down by “solids” (humanoids). She encourages him to learn about their ways, so he’ll be ready for their way of bonding (the Great Link). Kira (Nana Visitor) tries to send a message to Sisko, but finds out all outgoing frequencies are blocked by a subterranean device. Of course, she (quietly) investigates further.
Forced to abandon the Defiant during the Jem’Hadar attack a few days ago, Sisko and Bashir (Alexander Siddig) are on a runabout when they’re rescued by Dax (Terry Farrell) and O’Brien (Colm Meaney). They appear to have made contact w/ the Founders and convinced them of their peaceful intentions. In no time, a peace conference is already scheduled and one of the Founders is on DS9. Did that make anyone suspicious (on first viewing)? Sisko starts having doubts when he finds out the Romulans (who we know are a highly advanced/powerful alien race) are excluded from negotiations. Also, Jem’Hadar are given leeway to do whatever they want on the station; they fight w/ Bashir and O’Brien in Quark’s bar.
Odo: Then teach me what I need to know.
Female Shapeshifter: I’ll do what I can. But in the end, this is another journey you’ll have to make on your own. And when it is over, you’ll be ready to take your place in the Great Link.
This ep was written by Behr (who went on to become showrunner) and directed by Jonathan Frakes (who I consider Number One in my heart from TNG). Natalija Nogulich plays Admiral Nechayev for the final time; she appeared on several eps of TNG. Molly Hagan (Eris) wasn’t available to reprise her role of Eris from the S2 finale, so the character of Borath was created. Originally, the Vorta were written to be the god-like Founders of the Dominion; this changed between the S2 finale and S3 (where we see that the Changelings are the Founders). This explains why Eris never acknowledged Odo as a Founder when she came to DS9.
A viewer wrote that the Dominion (which was fleshed out by Robert Hewitt Wolfe) was like a mirror (evil) version of the Federation; the Jem’Hadar are warriors like Klingons, the Vorta are diplomats like Vulcans, and Changelings stay a step ahead like Romulans. The sudden realization that the wormhole hasn’t been destroyed and that none of the events Sisko and the others experienced really happened is a deus ex machina ending. However, rather than a quick resolution, the writers claimed that the point was “it was all a dream” ending. The writers wished to show how powerful the Dominion was- so far advanced in tech that they could play w/ the Federation. Also, they showed that the real story was Odo’s personal journey.