353. Improbable Cause
FORMULA: The Nagus + In the Hands of the Prophets
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Garak/Odo dynamic.
WHY WE DON'T: I can't think of a single reason.
REVIEW: When an assassin boards the station gunning for Garak, the plain, simple tailor makes an attempt on his own life to attract Odo's attention. It's a plan as convoluted and brilliant as the Founders' own, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Garak is in top form throughout, cleverly rewriting The Boy Who Cried Wolf through a Cardassian lens, and spinning out a web of lies until Odo finds him out, at which point, he's rendered speechless.
Because this is as much Odo's story as it is Garak's, and so two great minds collide. One, the glib practiced liar's, the other, the dry-witted observant investigator. Garak is at least a more worthy foe than the assassin Retaya, who nonetheless makes an impression with his deadly perfume wares. Odo has a great interrogation scene there. The constable's moody meeting with a Cardassian agent is a direction highlight, as is the edgy, "24"-style camera work when Odo breaks Garak down. Everybody's firing on all cylinders in this one.
And then the Obsidian Order and Tal Shiar are thrown in for good measure, as it seems, this is a sequel to both Visionary (the Romulans' paranoia about the Dominion) and Defiant (the Order's mystery ships in the Orias system). Obviously, this is a cool turn of events, but it's almost an excuse to bring back Paul Dooley as Enabran Tain. Complete with his doddery sweater, you can't help but like Tain even though he's the villain of the piece. His analysis of Garak's racial slur against the Romulans is alone sufficient to put him on par with the great liar. These men know each other extremely well, and you can believe Tain is Garak's mentor.
What happens next? Garak flipped to the other side? But the other side going up against even bigger villains? A lot of people think of Way of the Warrior as the episode that changed everything and launched DS9 towards greatness. I think it really starts here. After Improbable Cause, there's just no going back. From now on, they're minting gold.
LESSON: Never tell the same lie twice.
REWATCHABILITY - High: A brilliantly written episode. Odo hasn't been this good since he fell in love with Kira.