Star Trek #1610: Dominion

CAPTAIN'S LOG: The Changelings board the Titan.

WHY WE LIKE IT: Vadic is cool, like always.

WHY WE DON'T: Feels like padding.

REVIEW: I'm sure there was a way to add 5 minutes to 2 or 3 episodes that did the job Dominion did. While there are some interesting revelations, it's really just playing for time. Vadic could have found the Titan, boarded her, and been in the cliffhanger's position much faster. Worse, I think, is that the episode isn't terribly well written and contradicts material from earlier. For example, Picard acts like he didn't ALREADY speak to Lore in the previous episode, and Vadic's contention that she passed on the ability to keep a shape belies the the fact that two of her breed (unless they're not, but that's overly complicated) needed regenerative buckets after all. I should also ask at this point why the Changeling use that burly bird-man shape as a rule, and how when they get phasered, some turn into a few sparks, while others can take repeated hits and survive. The episode is a bit of a mess.

Not to say there aren't some good moments. Seven catches Changeling Tuvok in a lie after we think he's passed (the Voyager fanfare) because she keeps laying traps. Jack's telepathic flirting with Sidney is weird and interesting - and purposefully quoting the Riker/Troi relationship? I wonder - and his ability to take her over during the fight plays a role in the next episode. The Titan's trap for Vadic and her crew is cool and presents us with some good action beats. Amanda Plummer is great as Vadic, as usual, and gets to tell her horrendous origin (Section 31, you're the worst). Some pathos is generated by her taking on her torturer's face and song. And Geordi forced to watch one of his daughters possibly get killed is tense and emotional.

HOWEVER. The whole Lore subplot, which repeats again and again the stakes (possibly losing Data to his brother's malign personality), only kicks in so as to undo the trap and reset the danger. Picard and Beverly have a pretty good conversation about crossing the line, and whether as parents they're justified where as Starfleet officers they would not be, but they're interrupted before the moral dilemma has any meaning. Vadic keeps promising to tell Jack what he really is, but despite doing so in the cliffhanger, she never does and it's a beat for TWO episodes hence. And since we don't get back to Riker, Troi, Raffi nor Worf, we can't rely on their stories to add interest. Even the "a-HA!" semi-reveal that the Changelings are trying to create a perfect dupe of Picard to pass security checks on Frontier Day is a red herring.

LESSON: We are our own worst enemies.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium-Low: Shows the problem of season-long arcs. Sometimes, there's only 9 episodes' worth of story, but you somehow have to take it to 10. (It's fine to throw a slightly connected problem episodes in there, like the one in the nebulous nursery, but this one doesn't pass muster.)