After the recap of Part 1, a female Changeling (leader? spokesperson?) says Odo was sent by his people out into the universe as their equivalent of an infant, in order to learn about the “solids.”
When she takes Odo’s hand, both of their limbs mingle as orange goo, which causes Odo to appear rattled. Kira is concerned for his well-being, but the female Changeling says she’s let him briefly experience the Link, the communal state where all the other Changeling individuals co-exist in their liquid form.
Meanwhile, after six days drifting in a failing escape pod, Sisko and Bashir are surprised to be rescued by O’Brien and Dax.
The episode cuts back and forth between the two independent storylines, but I’ll report on each thread separately.
Some time has passed on the Changeling world, where Odo grouses that he’s finally home but he’s still being treated like an outsider; Kira wants to try to contact Sisko, but the Changeling leader won’t risk being discovered, and encourages Odo to practice assuming the shapes around him, as a form of meditation.
Kira tells Odo she’ll respect the Changelings’ privacy but that she will technobabble the com system’s jimberjam in a way that will still let her contact Sisko. Odo wishes her luck.
On the shuttle, Kira finds that plot contrivance particles are preventing her from technobabbling her jimberjam. An equally disappointed Odo reports his shape-shifting practice has yielded no new insights.
Odo pushes back against the Changeling’s complaints about all monoforms, saying that Kira for instance is a good person. The Changeling describes how in the past, solids persecuted her kind. She is patient, saying that Odo’s passage through the wormhole brought him home sooner than they had expected, and he still has much to learn.
Kira follows the plot contrivance particles to a cave (again with the caves) that features a heavy metal door. Back on the surface, Kira watches a bird that morphs into a very happy Odo. Kira intuits that this is goodbye, but she asks Odo to get her through the door first.
Meanwhile, back on the station, a chipper, snippy Admiral Nechayev credits Sisko with paving the way for a peace treaty with the Dominion, and says one of the Founders asked to meet Sisko. Borath, a male member of the same telekinetic species as Eris, the alien who pretended to be a prisoner of the Jem’Hadar, acknowledges Sisko has no reason to trust the Dominion.
Garak lets Bashir know the Cardassian Central Command favors the treaty, but that he himself is wary. T’Rul, the custodian of the Defiant’s cloaking device, is shocked that the Romulans weren’t invited to the negotiation table. Sisko does a good job trying to stay in his lane (“Whether I have a problem with it isn’t the point. It’s the Romulans we have to worry about,”) but glowers at Nechayev’s justification for excluding the Romulans.
Quark is in a good mood, anticipating the peace treaty (which will be good for business). An aggressive Jem’Hadar soldier starts a brawl by shoving O’Brien and then tossing him over the bar. When Bashir tries to intervene, Eddington (the new Federation security chief we met briefly in Part 1) lets the Jem’Hadar go, in the name of tolerance.
Sisko is already distracted during a dinner with Jake when Dax announces she’s ben transferred to the Lexington, and Bashir complains about the brawling Jem’Hadar.
Necheyev is crisply unmoved when Sisko demands an explanation from Necheyev, and ramps up the tension by announcing the Federation is pulling out, leaving the Bajor, the station, and the wormhole in the hands of the Dominion. Sisko gets a promotion from Necheyev and gratitude from Borath.
Garak connects with Sisko; in the form of idle chatter, both disagree with their respective governments’ support of this peace treaty, and both agree that “it’s a pity” that they “wouldn’t dream of opposing the wishes” of their government. (Wink wink.)
T’Rul, running from a Jem’Hadar, is shot in the back and collapses in Sisko’s arms. Sisko fights back. After the fade-out, Dax, Bashir and Garak tell Eddington they’ve come to visit Sisko in the brig. Eddington defers to Necheyev, but thanks to a hypospray to the neck, isn’t conscious for very long. O’Brien is already waiting in the runabout. Garak cheerfully teases Bashir for worrying about a little thing like his career when it’s likely they’re all about to die.
The situation continues to spiral out of control, as Sisko defies Nechayev’s order to stand down, and fires on the wormhole, collapsing it.
The scenes have been flipping back and forth between Odo/Kira on the Changeling planet, and the others reacting to the Federation treaty with the Dominion. It’s at this point that Odo opens the door in the cavern, and both the plots converge; the first plot twist is a standard sci-fi gimmick, but embedded into the explanation of that first twist is a more complex twist, the well-earned result of clever storytelling misdirection.
Other than a brief visit to the crowded Promenade, the sets feel a bit cramped. The morphing effects were probably very expensive and impressive 30 years ago, but they aren’t enough to keep the planet scenes from seeming talky and static. Kira is our viewpoint character, but it’s Odo’s storyline, so she doesn’t have much to do. Once she learns that Odo is staying behind, Kira doesn’t really have a good reason to break and enter and see what’s behind the mysterious door, but opening that door is necessary for the story to advance and the two plot threads to converge.
A good three-part episode that tells a complex story, setting up the Dominion War story arc.