Star Trek 398: In Purgatory's Shadow

398. In Purgatory's Shadow

FORMULA: Improbable Cause + The Undiscovered Country + Way of the Warrior

WHY WE LIKE IT: Garak. Martok... Oh my God, Bashir!

WHY WE DON'T: Garak/Ziyal. Unless Dukat barges in.

REVIEW: After a few less stellar episodes for Garak (possibly due to overuse), In Purgatory's Shadow offers a witty script worthy of our resident Cardassian tailor. Not since Improbable Cause has there been such a showcase for Andrew Robinson. While I'm still not crazy about his sort of naive romance with Ziyal (played here by a third and final actress - more down to earth than the others, she'll do), it does lead to some fun scenes with Dukat. Garak uncompromisingly laughs in the Dukat's face as he's being hung over a railing, and will later do the same to a Jem'Hadar stike force. His trying to convince Worf he should sponsor him for the Academy, his poke at Earl Gray tea, using Worf's sense of honor against him, it's all great stuff. Garak also gets a proper father/son scene with Tain, though it takes the latter's dying dementia to make it happen.

Had this been the entire gist of the episode, it would have been great, but there's more. Set against an impending Dominion invasion, there's a race against the clock at the station to shut down the Wormhole for good, but sabotage prevents it and myriad Jem'Hadar ships come through. Meanwhile, some of our heroes are trapped in a POW camp on the other side... including Doctor Bashir. I remember the revelation that the Bashir on the station had been a changeling for at least the past 4 episodes blowing my mind at the time. And it did again! What an incredibly clever way to use the change in uniforms. As soon as you see the blue jumpsuit, it's like WHOOAHHHH!

The ramifications are pretty stunning too. If "gray Bashir" was a changeling all along, then his contention that Sisko's visions in Rapture were killing him is suspect. Did the Dominion remove the visions before Sisko could see the "big picture"? Seems likely now. The changeling also repaired Kira's placenta in The Darkness and the Light and was around for the baby's delivery in The Begotten, where he also couldn't save Odo's baby changeling. But could there be more at work here? Was the dying baby healed in some way by linking with the Bashir Founder in the first place? When decrepitude set in again, was it the Bashir Founder who gave it the ability/reflex to merge with Odo and give him back his powers (sentence over, and we're coming through the Wormhole to get you back). Who knows? But the mind reels a little at the possibilities.

Other stuff to look out for: The O'Briens name their little boy Kirayoshi. The Borg attack of First Contact is mentioned, placing the film sometime between Rapture and this episode, though the stardates don't jibe. We get our first look at Jem'Hadar warships to supplement their attack fighters. And the real Martok makes his first appearance, sporting yet another facial mutilation. He doesn't do much, but he still has presence and is on the side of the angels this time.

LESSON: Be careful, the Founders know everything you do about darts.

REWATCHABILITY - High: A sparkling script (I didn't even mention Kira and Worf's witticisms) and a rocking start to the Dominion War.


De said...

The Bashir revelation blew me away as well, but another revelation that I wasn't expecting was Tain being Garak's father. Considering how callous Tain was to Garak in previous seasons, it came as quite the surprise.

Andrew Gilbertson said...

"Garak. Martok... Oh my God, Bashir!" Quite so. So many revelations, with mind-boggling implications; this is a jam-packed episode, and it's utterly brilliant.


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