In a runabout, Kira reluctantly expresses admiration for Bashir’s medical skill. Instead of humbly accepting her praise, Bashir monologues about his own giftedness.
A distress call brings them aboard a burning ship, where the pilot is dead, and a semi-conscious woman warns Bashir not to rescue a prisoner who started the fire. That prisoner regains consciousness long enough to grab Bashir and gasp, “Du musst Caligari werden” — no, sorry, “Make me live.”
Bashir pronounces him dead.
Kajada is a security operative who has been tracking Vantika for twenty years. When she revives in the infirmary, she stabs her prisoner’s corpse, saying the man was an unethical scientist who “killed others to prolong is own life.”
A very efficient scene of about two dozen lines begins with Quark flirting with the amused Dax, and Odo needling Quark thereon; then shifts quickly into Odo warning Quark to stay away from an incoming shipment of “deuridium,” and continues with a Federation security officer criticizing Odo’s methods. The scene exemplifies how well the DS9 writers handle scenes with multiple characters, where things are happening on multiple levels.
In Ops, we learn that Vantika’s race requires this “deuridium” to stay alive; he was likely coming to DS9 to hijack the shipment. Although Bashir is convinced Vantika is dead, Kajada is not. Sisko suspects Vantika may have co-conspirators who will still target the shipment, so everyone is on alert.
Primmin lets Sisko know he’s not impressed with Odo, but Sisko orders him to work with the constable. When Primmin tries to be more friendly, Odo is gruff. Their collaboration doesn’t get too far because some glitch has purged the station computer’s memory. Kajada recognizes this as one of Vantika’s tactics.
As soon as Odo realizes he’s being expected to work with Primmin, he reports to Sisko’s office and suggests he will resign, but Sisko reassures Odo that he is still in charge of station security.
A shadowy figure, speaking in a throaty whisper, assures Quark that despite the reports of Vantika’s death, their deuridium deal is still on.
Although Bashir reports the latest technobabble scans confirm that Vantika really is dead, Kajada is still not convinced. (We learn she has had trouble sleeping.)
Among Vantika’s belongings, Dax finds a data file that suggests Vantika may have planned to store his consciousness inside someone else’s brain (because technobabble).
Various clues point to Kajada as the obvious receptacle. Thinking that she might compromise their efforts to safeguard the deuridium transfer, Odo locks her out of the computer system.
Later, Kajada is eavesdropping while Quark meets with conspirators; we hear a scream, and see her falling from the third floor catwalk. She says she was pushed.
Dax is in the morgue (at one point, rather chummily holding the corpse’s hand) and finds Vantika seems to have implanted a technobabbler in his fingernail, that he could use to transfer his consciousness to a target. Now that she knows what to look for, she expects she can find out whether Kajada’s brain is hosting Vantika’s consciousness.
But in the next scene, Kira and Odo realize… where’s Primmin?
The episode delivers good character moments that not only develop our main cast, but also complex guest characters who keep us guessing. The episode reminds us that, as much as we enjoy Quark, he is still a black-market profit-monger who does business with murderers. And did I mention the misdirection? There’s more misdirection.
An action sequence features Sisko stalling Vantika’s getaway ship for long enough for Dax to technobabble up a remedy. It’s satisfying, in a film-noir Hays Code way, seeing the post-death Vantika turn on one of his thugs, and later seeing Kajada carry out her version of “justice” on a little sample capsule.
- Why did Vantika push Kajada? In his new host body, he would surely have had access to quieter, more assuredly fatal options. (Did she surprise him, and he improvised the shove? That works against our understanding of Vantika as someone who prepares thoroughly.)
- We know Quark is guilty of conspiracy; he doesn’t have a change of heart that enables the others to recover the shipment. His character will of course continue to develop; but we still have ton see him engaged in amoral activities, in order for his occasional good deeds to have dramatic value. Did Odo look the other way?