Star Trek 359: The Adversary

359. The Adversary

FORMULA: The Die Is Cast + Conundrum + Whom Gods Destroy + Heart of Stone

WHY WE LIKE IT: Sisko finally captain. They're everywhere, and we're definitely not ready for them.

WHY WE DON'T: The stagey promotion ceremony.

REVIEW: The Adversary does for the Founders what last season's finale did for the Jem'Hadar. Though we've seen them before, the episode does a good job of showing how tough they really are. A single changeling can do a LOT of damage before you even notice it's there, and even afterwards. The sequence in which the changeling uses Bashir's form to screw with the blood screening process shows just how badly prepared our heroes are for fighting shape-shifters.

Before the changeling is revealed, the episode is way too slow however. After a staged promotion ceremony for Sisko, with each character approaching him one by one to deliver his or her lines (and a silly classic switch in the Commander's Log), it's pretty much O'Brien vs. rattling conduits. It's pretty tedious, especially on repeat viewings when the episode has given up its secrets. The action and tense feeling of paranoia that follows is much better, and the second half of the show hums along at a good pace until the requisite final showdown between Odo and the changeling in which Odo makes his exile a lot more permanent.

As with previous DS9 season finales, a cliffhanger is eschewed in favor of setting up the threat for the next season. After the episode's events, the revelation that the Founders are already among us is a powerful one. The Adversary also sets up other things about the status quo for next season, such as Sisko's captaincy (about time, it's true) and the Defiant's engine room (more ship stories are in the offing, and they're no longer giving reasons for Odo coming along). You might also spot the first mention of Sisko's father as still living.

LESSON: When the Dominion gives you a warning, you have about a season's head start.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: Though it's got an important moment or two, it loses a lot of its tension and mystery on the second go, and leaves the repeat viewer impatient.