Mark Watches ‘Deep Space Nine’: S03E21 – The Die is Cast

In the twenty-first episode of the third season of Deep Space Nine, EVERYTHING IS PAIN. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.

Trigger Warning: For torture.

Y’all, I love Deep Space Nine so much. This is a bold, scary, and disturbing story, and I feel like that describes half of the history of the show. That’s a good thing, though, because the writers for DS9 are more often willing to take huge chances with the narrative. AND THIS IS A HUGE CHANCE, Y’AL. The static nature of the space station allows that, but I think that you can’t ignore that there’s development in the main cast that’s largely unseen on the other three Star Trek shows. Just… LOOK AT WHAT HAPPENS TO GARAK AND ODO IN THIS EPISODE ALONE. HOW. HOW.



He misses Garak. He does. I refuse to read the cold open in any other way. I refuse any other interpretation. HE JUST WANTS TO HAVE LUNCH WITH HIS FRIEND AND HAVE PHILOSOPHICALLY CHALLENGING CONVERSATIONS AND THEN MAKE OUT WITH HIM AND now I am getting carried away and I need to move on.

Preparations for War

So, I’ve mentioned that this episode felt like a massive step forward in the show’s ongoing storyline. I’d like to suggest that the image of the joint Cardassian and Romulan fleet drifting past DS9, ignoring them in the process, and heading into the wormhole is one of the eeriest things on this whole show. (RIGHT AFTER THAT OTHER SCENE IN THIS SAME EPISODE, WHICH I’LL GET TO.) There’s no doubt here that Enabran Tain’s plan is real, that these two disparate forces have joined up to fight the Dominion, and that Starfleet isn’t going to stop them. Now, obviously Sisko and the other officers have a personal stake in this battle due to Odo. Yet they’re also they only characters who express any real concern for what Tain and the Romulans are about to do. All Toddman cares about is the possibility of the Jem’Hadar retaliating in the Alpha Quadrant. Indeed, he sounds excited that the Dominion might get wiped out.

It’s in these storylines that I find Starfleet most interesting. They’re often portrayed in a more positive light, yet this episode shows us that Starfleet can sanction things that are violent, self-serving, and upsetting. Then, when the writers pit the DS9 team against Starfleet, I AM ENTERTAINED UNTIL THE END OF TIME. I dunno, I just love this idea of the DS9 team being a group of rogues who are willing to flout the rules in order to do what’s right, even if they’re risking their careers in the process.

Reunited Again

It’s funny to me that I’m watching this episode after I’ve begun watching Hannibal again because I want to draw an unlikely comparison between the two. As I watched Tain and Garak speak about the Obsidian Order, I realized that they would forever have a relationship that was layered. Complex. Full of double meanings. It reminded me of the way Dr. Lecter is written on Hannibal, since that kind of dialogue is so pervasive on the show. Tain and Garak have to skirt around Obsidian Order protocol sometimes; other times require them to keep their true feelings hidden behind layers of sarcasm or gibberish. And lying – that thing Garak does so well – is expected, encouraged, and constant. There’s no way to escape it. Tain may have excitedly welcomed Garak back into the fold, but is that really what he wanted? Did he truly trust his old “colleague”?

Not at all, of course. And guess who is used as the means for Garak to prove himself?


It may not ever be explicitly spoken in “The Die is Cast,” but I think this episode confirms that Odo has developed meaningful friendships with the people on DS9, especially Odo and Julian. Yes, this is a strange and violent way to prove that, BUT I THINK IT’S THERE. Garak refuses to let Tain or Lovok torture Odo. And when that torture turns Odo into a literal husk of what he used to be (WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THIS SHOW, THAT SCENE WAS HORRIFYING), he begs Odo to lie, just so that he can stop tormenting him.

But it is in the secret that Odo reveals that Garak finds an affinity for the Changeling Security Officer. It’s true that Garak decided to turn to Tain because he missed his home. I don’t dispute that. But in doing so, he was forced to violate what he had with Odo. Was this all worth it? I think you could argue that Garak – once again – high-tailed it away from this nightmare because it suited him best. He is a proudly selfish character. At the same time, Odo revealed a heartbreaking secret to him: that he still wants to return home and join the Great Link, despite what he knows of the Founders, despite that this might be seen as a huge betrayal to all of his friends, despite that he feels ashamed to admit it.

If anyone knows about making morally difficult decisions based on a deep desire to feel loved and accepted, THEN IT IS GARAK.

Ow, my heart.


This was all entertaining, exciting, and emotionally satisfying. Which is why I was blown away that on top of everything else, the writers WIPED OUT THE OBSIDIAN ORDER AND NEARLY DESTROYED THE TAL SHIAR THROUGH THE JEM’HADAR. The Founders’ betrayal is vicious, and I can’t even fathom what the next step is. Actually… that’s not true, is it? Lovok – whoever they actually are – openly states that the Romulans and the Cardassians are no longer a threat. Only the Klingons and the Federation are. THEY’RE NEXT, RIGHT??? Oh my god, if they can wipe out a fleet that big in less than an hour, then everyone is doomed. DOOMED. It doesn’t help that the Founders can just morph into any species ever, so now I can’t trust any new characters. (For what it’s worth, after the Lovok reveal, I thought that Eddington would be revealed to be a Changeling, too.)

This show is messed up. BUT GARAK AND ODO MIGHT BE BETTER FRIENDS BECAUSE OF IT???? Oh lord, I need so much more from this show, and the best part is that I’m probably gonna get it.

The video for “The Die is Cast” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– I will be at numerous conventions in 2016! Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be Death Note and Neon Genesis Evangelion. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
- Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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