Hudson and Sisko have at it with the rhetoric on a casual stroll across a cheesy-looking jungle soundstage. Hudson admits he can’t prove the Cardassian government is arming its settlers, but he’s not interested in working with Sisko to find that proof. Instead, he phaser-stuns Sisko and escapes.
Back on DS9, Sisko gives orders to continue the search for the kidnapped Dukat, and does not mention Hudson’s defection during a 2-minute meeting with Admiral Necheyev (that could have been an e-mail).
Sisko tells Kira that Earth is the cause of the problem — the Federation leaders who wrote the treaty look out their windows and see a paradise with no hunger and no strife, while the former colonists caught behind shifting borders are too angry and scared to behave like saints.
Odo has apprehended Quark, who protests he didn’t actually sell any weapons, he just introduced the two parties, and offers to testify against Sakonna. A stonefaced Sisko tells Odo to keep him in the cell “forever.”
Legate Parn (visiting from Cardassia for a 2-minute meeting that could have been an email) says Dukat was the leader of “misguided” officers funneling arms to Cardassian colonies in the demilitarized zone. Parn expects that Dukat will be executed by the Maquis, and assures Sisko (rather unconvincingly) that the Cardassians don’t want war.
Kira is baffled by Sisko’s determination to rescue Dukat, but Sisko feels if the Cardassian leaders want Dukat dead, that’s a good reason to keep him alive.
In a random cave (again with the caves) in the custody of the Maquis rebels, a smirking Dukat manages to resist Sakonna’s attempts to interrogate via mindmeld. To him they are amateurs, still limited by the Federation ideals they say they’ve rejected.
Sisko shows up, and annoys Dukat because he doesn’t just shoot the rebels, but instead tries talking to them. Sisko barely manages to keep Dukat from killing one of his captors.
Dukat celebrates with a solo feast in his guest quarters on DS9. He’s considerably less smug when he learns from Sisko that the Cardassian Central Command blamed Dukat for the weapons smuggling. Dukat offers to team up with Sisko to stop both the smuggling and the Maquis. He even thanks Sisko for rescuing him. “I’m sure you’d have done the same for me,” says Sisko, his rhetoric set to maximum snark.
Dukat is very effective at getting a third-party merchant to cooperate with the anti-smuggling operation.
Odo reports he’s had no luck getting the Vulcan Sakonna to talk, but Quark manages to get through to her with a carefully reasoned economics-based argument. If everyone’s goal is peace, he argues, then right now, when neither side has an advantage, “the price of peace is at an all-time low.” We don’t see Quark again in this episode, but later we see the others acting on information they got from Sakonna, so apparently Quark’s cooperation redeems himself enough to hit the “reset” button and continue to be everyone’s favorite morally ambiguous frenemy.
SIsko crashes a meeting where colonists are strategizing their response to escalating tensions, and warns any Maquis who might be present that if they threaten the peace, and make them an enemy of Cardassia, that will also make them an enemy of the Federation.
Hudson reveals himself and exchanges words with Sisko, and dramatically phasers his discarded uniform. Again, Sisko and Hudson part, each still hoping to convert the other.
Even though the Federation has a ship available to fly Admiral Necheyev from wherever she’s based all the way to DS9 for a 2 minute chat, Sisko must stop a war with just 3 little runabouts, and they’re apparently so short-staffed that Bashir has to come along as O’Brien’s co-pilot. (Bashir asks a few a questions but otherwise has nothing to do with the story.)
The climactic battle features lots of dialogue and lots of cutting back and forth between people looking at instruments and reporting what they see, but there are five ships involved, so they have a lot to cover.
Some believable shots of characters reacting to bumps and jolts help to sell the frantic kinetics of the skirmish. I also noticed stars were visible through side windows that are usually shuttered. Let’s hear it for the runabouts, folks.
The script is built around Sisko’s relationship with Hudson, but I was actually much more interested in the dynamics of the Sisko / Dukat pairing. The Kira / Sisko relationship developed nicely, as well.
Hudson’s actions would be more meaningful if we’d seen this character before. Wouldn’t it have been great to make Hudson one of the officers Sisko served with on the Saratoga, or otherwise at least mention him before his betrayal drives a two-parter.
Having said that, this episode holds up very well after 30 years.