Kira and Winn are AWESOME in this one...the rest is solid story-fodder, including the fascinating decision by Damar to back a revolution and the solid resolution to the Ezri/Worf fiasco.
Wikipedia has the story - and the plot is thickening nicely. :)
We're going to break out the bullet points again for this one. First...things I love about this episode:
- Martok describing marriage as a "long, slow, intoxicating war" slays me every time. That scene is awesome in the same way that his scene with Worf in "You Are Cordially Invited" during which he describes Cirella as a "mercurial woman who shares my bed far too infrequently" and then goes on to say "but I love her..." with this deep reverence that I find highly refreshing.
- Weyoun's handling of Damar's rightful indignation at the lack of communication and compromise in deference to the Cardassian Union is deliciously evil. It always comes down to "sit on this (picture middle finger) and rotate, Damar."
- I just LOOOOOOVE Damar's reaction to Weyoun getting his neck snapped. Pure concentrated awesome! His mirth when Weyoun 8 arrives is even funnier. "Maybe you should talk to Worf again." LOL!
- Quark's drink ritual is very VERY sweet...this is why we love him.
- The writers absolutely NAIL the main characters in the morality play this week. Winn (her major flaw being ambition lacking faith), Kira (the true believer - her priorities right where they need to be...and finally a strong defense of faith this time with her message of humility and sacrifice), and Dukat...the true believer in the Antichrist (the Pah Wraiths and their cult of followers have all of the same calling cards as Lucifer, right down to their insistence that a true God should interfere to protect His people and give them what they desire). Some fans think this plot is too "on the nose"...but here at RightFans, we think it's about time Trek tackled this kind of moral dilemma rather than the purely ethical (legal) dilemmas they routinely faced under Picard's watch on TNG. Especially when the story is as well-told as this and the characters are so compelling.
- Th nagging concern about Worf and Dax is in fact resolved beautifully. I really think that the dynamic needed a resolution (Worf being uncertain how to deal with a new Dax) and they did a good job cutting to the heart of the matter. Worf was shameful in his conduct with Dax...it wasn't all her doing. He was trying to recapture a past love and using her in the same way that some people use others to rebound from a failed relationship. They both come to terms with how wrong it was for them to have sex in that situation, and that I do find satisfying.
Now the thing that still irks me...
- I'm gonna have to agree with my co-author regarding the sexual fling between Winn and Dukat/Anjol. I know that one of Winn's greatest character flaws is that she wants to believe that things happen for a reason and that her ambition doesn't just extend to political influence, but also personal conduct (see: The Circle)...but a spiritual leader...even one lacking the proper faith and heading up a religion that allows its ministers to be married) who has sex with a man she doesn't know simply because she's excited about involved in what she thinks are the Prophets' plans for the first time in her life? I find that hard to believe. She may be evil, but it isn't because she's illogical or lacking in spiritual upbringing. It becomes really obvious, for example, when she asks Anjol who he is. She even declares that she hardly knows anything about him...and yet they're in bed together. It all seems VERY forced and unnecessary...and considering that she is a traditionalist/fundamentalist Bajoran cleric, it also seems out of character.
There is little in the way of wasted dialogue...all the scenes are relevant and enjoyable, and the characterization is spot on.
Other than a bit of overacting on the part of Winn (sorry...usually I like her, but in this episode, she is a bit uneven, especially when talking to Anjol/Dukat)...the acting is top notch.
What I like most about this episode is the Winn/Kira/Dukat plot, obviously. Winn's false confession to Kira (false because she claims that she has resolved to change and thinks that should be enough when in fact you have to actually repent and change in deed, not just issue false promises) is impressive to watch because many of us know someone like Winn (a less extreme version perhaps). The ones who expect a merciful God to deny freedom and guarantee comfort in its place. The ones who think a higher power should simply tell them what to do. The ones who live in darkness because they spend their time cursing what they don't have instead of being thankful for what they do have.
I have an acquaintance whom I would like to call a friend but who has frequently made the argument that if God were really good, He wouldn't have made her life so hard. This is a woman who, at the age of 29 continues to live off her parents' money, is in her 7th year of grad school without the university giving up on her and sending her packing, and has legions of professionals trying to help her with her bipolar disorder, and her life is unfair (to her). When we focus on what God hasn't given us, we miss what He HAS given us. And worse, you become tempted to behave badly, figuring it doesn't matter because God can't be as all-powerful as we claim he is if he won't take a more active roll in your life. Winn's false confession goes something like "I have strayed from the path...been foiled by temptation...I'll do anything to regain God's trust." "OK...so walk away from temptation. Renounce power and influence and seek the path." "Whhhaaaaaa??? Me, give up power and influence? But...it's all about ME! If I walk away, Bajor will crumble!" "Ummm...yeah...you kinda missed the whole point of confessing and changing your ways..." "Well screw that...it's all about me...I am staying Kai!" *crickets* There it is...the reason Winn can't walk away from temptation...the source of her ambition without faith...she looks inward instead of looking outward for her answers. Navel gazers are invariably egotists and rarely very good at being faithfully spiritual. This dynamic is so well executed that I can overlook the flaws in the story that led us to this point.