412. Rocks and Shoals
FORMULA: The Ship + To the Death + Hippocratic Oath
WHY WE LIKE IT: Kira's new routine. Remata'Klan.
WHY WE DON'T: Garak says "there's hope for you yet" once too many times.
REVIEW: After narrowly escaping a shipwreck in Children of Time, the crew finally goes down on a quarry planet (which nonetheless has a lot of scope thanks to real and digital bodies of water), but the Defiant is thankfully not sacrificed. Dax is injured and O'Brien's ripped his pants (a great moment). That would be bad enough, but there are Jem'Hadar there too. It's a classic Pacific Theater confrontation while both sides await rescue.
The Jem'Hadar are the honorable kind and Third Remata'Klan is a sympathetic and wise character. But doomed. All his scenes with his men and with Sisko are excellent and create the emotional context for our heroes regrettably butchering the Jem'Hadar at the end. Keevan is a true Vorta, devious to the last, but by default not as interesting. Note that Nog probably sheds his "first blood" in this episode, and that he and Garak get a good moment that says the events of Empok Nor have not been forgotten (which so often happens in episodic television like this).
The main plot is a strong war story, but the station sequences are equally powerful. More so even. Kira's mirror is used to reflect her sins back at her, and though she tries to smile, she's obviously dying inside. They're sins of indolence. In trying to save lives, she's become a collaborator, but she can't quite see it. It takes a vedek hanging herself on the Promenade for the lights to turn back on in her soul in a shocking sequence that reminds one of Vietnam's burning monks. Chillingly directed.
LESSON: It's a small galaxy, full of small planets.
REWATCHABILITY - High: At its core a horror story, both threads force or cajole our heroes into betraying their ethics. And it looks good too.