340. Civil Defense
FORMULA: Disaster + Babel
WHY WE LIKE IT: Dukat traipsing around Ops like he just don't care.
WHY WE DON'T: The unconvincing homemade bomb.
REVIEW: A good sense of urgency reigns in much of Civil Defense, with characters using gestures and actions rather than words to get their points across when time is of the essence. The episode initially follows the disaster movie formula by stranding various characters together in different parts of the station, and well, we've seen this kind of thing before. Where it's better than TNG's Disaster is how every solution brings an even more insoluble problem, courtesy of the devious Cardassian mind.
That's fun enough, as is the visit to the ore processing unit, but relatively ordinary, as is the idea of locking Odo and Quark up together. There's some fine humor there, but you know, nothing... unexpected.
It starts to really get good when Garak strolls into Ops, soon followed by Dukat. The latter's fortuitous appearance strains credulity perhaps, but he's such a delightful villain here that you soon forget about this little convenience. As everyone else is in mortal danger, he takes his time, orders some tea, even knocks down Sisko's baseball, but in the end, he's caught in his own web in one of the best twists the show's given us. The rivalry between him and Garak seems to stem with the Order having Dukat's father disgraced and executed, an interesting tidbit, and reaches its peak when Garak calls him on his trying to pick up Kira (no doubt more sensitive to Cardassian mating rituals). The look of outrage on Dukat's face alone is worth the price of admission.
Ultimately though, Civil Defense is a series of technical problems with technical solutions, and while the character work is good and Jake gets to be a hero, it doesn't quite reach the level of other episodes this season.
LESSON: You may not trust the Cardassians, but they don't trust you. Or each other.
REWATCHABILITY - Medium: Our favorite Cardassians help make a standard "man vs. his environment" plot fun and exciting.