Very low-key, but it accomplishes a great deal.
"When It Rains..." is a transition episode. It picks up on
existing threads and adds several new ones. Perhaps that's why, with its
slow pace and more subdued tone, this is the "smallest" of these Final
Chapter episodes to date. Still, there's something to be said for easing
up on the reins a bit and taking some time to explore relationships and
set up new aspects of the arc. All of the goings-on are extremely
enjoyable, to be sure -- it's just that the "wow" factor that has been
such a prevalent (and delightful) aspect of this final arc is mostly
absent from this installment.
In its place is some chess-piece moving, as the Odo/Kira/Garak and
Bashir/O'Brien arcs are kick-started at long last. Both have their
intriguing elements, but the majority of the fireworks are elicited from
the former. Sisko and Ross decide that Damar needs some assistance if he
is to be successful in driving the Dominion from Cardassian territory.
Sisko's solution? Send the person on the station who spent most of her
life as a terrorist fighting for Bajor's freedom. The irony of having
Kira spearhead the effort to free Cardassia from *its* oppressors escapes
no one in the room, least of all the colonel. Ziyal is foremost on her
mind as Sisko orders her to work with Damar, Ziyal's murderer -- it's nice
to see that such an critical event in the Occupation Arc has not been
forgotten (even if the resolution basically amounts to Kira setting those
feelings aside for the good of the war). I do find it interesting that no
one considers Garak's connection to Ziyal -- might *he* do something about
Damar when this is all over?
As you might expect, the juiciest drama results from the palpable
tension created by having Kira, a member of the resistance that drove
Cardassia off Bajor, assuming an advisory role in their current struggle.
As Garak so aptly notes, the Cardassians suffered a "humiliation" when
they withdrew from Bajor, and will not take kindly to having someone who
represents Bajor walking amongst them. And so, in an effort to mitigate
that friction, Sisko gives Kira a Starfleet commission. And just like
that, the colonel becomes a commander. Whether or not this is anything
more than a neat way to get Kira into a Starfleet uniform (which Visitor
looks dynamite in, by the way) remains to be seen.
Damar's right-hand man, Gul Rusot, incensed at her presence
(Starfleet uniform or not), takes every opportunity to needle Kira.
After Rusot points out that Odo could very well be considered a
collaborator, Kira flies off the handle, knocking over everything not
bolted down a few minutes later. With Cardassia, in essence, having been
remade into the Bajor of old, Kira has been forced to relive a period of
her life she thought well behind her. It's no surprise then to see that
old emotions-are-raw-as-a-bone Kira return in flashes; Kira is regressing
a bit, and yet she's still holding onto the maturity that seven years of
growth have given her. Will she be able to maintain her composure in the
coming weeks? Part of me hope that the answer is no.
The other major players in this plotline are Garak and Odo.
While Garak is always a welcome addition to any episode, I have to wonder
why he's so easily accepted by his fellow Cardassians here. He *was*
exiled, after all. There's also... *something* missing from Garak in
"When It Rains..." -- I think the peacemaker role is taking too much bite
out of the character. In any case, here's hoping his acerbic,
unpredictable nature comes to the forefront soon. As for Odo, he's hit
with the revelation that the disease that is killing the Founders has
infected him as well. I expect that we'll see how this news impacts upon
Odo in greater detail in the next few weeks, and I look forward to it.
There is, however, one major contrivance that surfaces. Bashir discovers
that Odo is infected, and a day or two later he starts showing symptoms?
Rather big coincidence, I think. (And there was a very easy way around it
-- simply give Odo a symptom or two *last* episode, and open this one with
Bashir examining him. Coincidence avoided.)
In any event, the Founders' disease (and the search for a cure) is
what propels the Bashir/O'Brien story. (Siddig delivers a well-played,
quiet "Oh my God" after realizing Odo is infected.) As Bashir begins work
on the cure, he finds roadblocks placed in front of his path at every
turn. There's an effective scene that sees Bashir grow increasingly
irritated as his simple request for some years-old test results leads to
an insinuation that, if he doesn't tread lightly, his search may amount to
treason. All of this eventually snowballs into the episode's big
revelation (if not an overly surprising one): Section 31 created the
disease that is killing the Founders.
In fact, not only did 31 (as O'Brien calls them) create the
disease, they infected *Odo* when he spent some time on Earth (in fourth
season's "Homefront"), and used him as a carrier for the rest of the link.
The fact that this means Odo will die is, to 31, simply a necessary evil.
(There are a few problems with this scenario, namely that Odo has been
judged as normal until now -- I can buy that Section 31 designed this
disease to be slower-acting and undetectable in Odo in order to allow him
to be a more effective carrier, but I hope we're afforded an onscreen
explanation at some point.) This is yet another intriguing thread thrust
upon us; it should be fascinating to see how it gets resolved.
Unfortunately, the final new thread begun here is one that, as of
right now, strikes me as superfluous. Watching Gowron worry about
Martok's growing influence in the empire (prompting him to remove Martok
as military leader and hog the glory for himself) may be interesting, but
I don't think it's *so* compelling that it deserves a place in these final
episodes. I must admit, however, that what is here is competently
executed. Particularly welcome is a characterization of the Klingon
chancellor that returns Gowron to his roots, more a conniving and scheming
politician than the typical Klingon warrior. That Martok, the true
Klingon's Klingon, would chafe under the leadership of such a man after
all this time is not a large stretch. (I was also glad to see the
Worf/Gowron friction addressed, and given how well-worn that ground is,
perhaps it was best to have Gowron agree to forgive and forget.) This
isn't bad stuff, but of all the story threads presented to us in this
final arc, this appears to be the least and most routine of them.
Perhaps "Tacking Into the Wind" will prove me wrong.
What better way to move as far afield from "routine" as possible
than to revisit a thread that continues to surprise and sparkle? In an
episode replete with irony, I think my favorite example comes in watching
Dukat and Winn completely shift positions by episode's end. Whereas last
week Dukat played Winn at his whim, *Winn* is the one who has a chance to
revel in Dukat's helplessness here. And revel she does. After Dukat
gains access to the text of the Kosst Amojan without Winn's knowledge, he
is blinded by his gods for the effort. Winn, still reeling from Dukat's
deception and manipulation of her, takes full advantage of the
opportunity. In one of the coldest and most delightfully-twisted moments
of the entire series, Winn reveals to Dukat that she is putting him out on
the street: "You'll find the Bajoran people are very kind. A blind beggar
will elicit their sympathies, I'm certain. And with any luck, you'll earn
enough to eat and perhaps even enough for shelter each night... You may
return when you've proven yourself worthy, and your sight has been
There's a definite chill in the air as Dukat stands panicked,
desperate, and utterly helpless, so distraught that he makes no attempt to
mask his fear. One of DS9's great strengths is its ability to infuse its
villains (and heroes too), no matter how sinister, with shades of grey.
And so, even at this point in the series and in Dukat's evolution, it is
still possible to feel sympathy for this man, one who once ruled over
every last Bajoran, now dependent on their beneficence for his very
survival. "Sublime" about sums it up, don't you think? (My only regret
is that Winn and Dukat won't appear again until the finale, which means we
probably won't get to see Dukat's time spent as a beggar on the streets of
Bajor. A shame.)
But it's not all sunshine. The script for "When It Rains" is, in
my opinion, a little better than the episode that ultimately results.
Several factors play into that final product, but none more so than what
is a rare occurrence in Trek, an intrusive musical score. While the
uniqueness of Paul Baillargeon's music (in Trek terms, at least) worked
magnificently in "The Siege of AR-558" (one of the best Treks scores in
its history), here it just seems inappropriate. The only instances where
I thought it worked effectively were during the Klingon ceremony and the
moments before Dukat is blinded -- other than that, no thanks.
Director Michael Dorn, whose first two efforts ("In the Cards" and
"Inquisition") were nothing short of superb and a pair of the series' best
episodes, delivers an outing that lacks that truly intense feel the other
episodes in this arc have had. There's not as much "weight" imbued in the
proceedings as one might expect (or hope for), particularly where Bashir
and O'Brien are concerned. Consider the episode's final scene. Here we
have a *major* revelation, that of Section 31's involvement in the
Founder's disease, and yet there's barely a scrap of urgency to be found
-- they might as well be discussing their latest holosuite program.
(Even the way the episode ends suggests "run-of-the-mill;" whereas each
episode in this arc has left us with an image of a particular character as
we fade to black, this one goes the more typical route, signing off with a
final shot of the station.)
Still... all that being said, I do think that Echevarria's script
ably overcomes most of the shortcomings in the episode's execution and, as
a whole, "When It Rains..." is a worthy addition to the arc.
On other fronts, one of the most welcome aspects of "When It
Rains" is the amount of humor Rene Echevarria manages to pack into the
episode. My favorites (absent the context) include "I need to borrow a
cup of goo," "I guess we're not invited," and "We're next," "You're
kidding." Also notice Bashir's little "please leave now" eye-motion to
O'Brien as Ezri walks in... The Ezri/Julian thread continues; although
it's not bad, I really hope they don't drag it out for too long... And
you know, Ezri, you *could* ask Julian out on a date before professing
your undying love to him. Baby steps... Sisko's belated "sir" to Ross
was a nice touch. This is a man used to being in charge... I wonder why
they simply didn't make Vaughn Armstrong's character Danar, since that's
the Cardassian Gul he played in "Past Prologue"... After spending so much
time being tortured, injured, killed, and generally beat-up, is it any
surprise that O'Brien feels so at home relaxing on a biobed? It's almost
a second home... How about giving Quark *two* scenes an episode from here
on out? This residual appearance thing is getting a tad repetitive...
Check out O'Brien glance at Quark's head after asking him to "Keep it
under your hat." Heh... The fact that Odo is infected means that Laas is
as well, so any changelings he finds are doomed right along with him.
Section 31 really has neutralized all of the Founders, haven't they?...
I liked the nod to the different alien races employing different
technologies, seeing as how they're so often portrayed as being
"When It Rains..." is a solid hour. I doubt there will be many who will
argue that this is the best episode of the arc when all is said and done,
but it successfully manages both to introduce new threads and maintain the
arc's momentum. With five hours to go, I just hope that the payoff can be
as satisfying as the set-up has been.