In the twentieth episode of the seventh season of Deep Space Nine, this show is now clearly trying to ruin me in its final run. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.Â
Trigger Warning: For talk of imperialism/colonialism, consent, warfare.
Oh my god EVERYTHING IS SO FUCKED UP.
Amidst a constant, ever-changing nightmare, this is space for interpersonal conflict, and I admire that of the writers. It’s not an easy thing to balance within such a heavy and emotionally draining episode, and yet, I enjoyed it. I’m still not necessarily sold on the whole “Ezri is in love with Julian” bit, but I can appreciate that the writers didn’t have her immediately jump into something with him. The reluctance we see here â€“ which includes Ezri’s reticence to even say she is “in love” with Julian â€“ does make this feel more realistic than it had previously come across. It’s a step in a more believable direction, and I do sense that Julian has similar feelings towards Ezri. So while it’s only a matter of time before they get together at this point, at least there’s an exploration happening that gives some credence to this pairing beyond the superficial.
BUT LET’S TALK ABOUT MARRIAGE AND HOW GREAT KASSIDY AND BENJAMIN ARE. Oh god, they’re so great??? And I love that they had a conflict here that was serious, that’s a manifestation of the fear that’s building in the Federation, and yet, despite intentions, Benjamin still messes up. His paternal instinct to protect Kassidy might have come from a good place, but it still hurts Kassidy. It made her feel like she couldn’t make decisions for herself. It made her feel like her husband saw her job as inferior. And these things matter! They’re both going to be doing shit that’s risky because everything is risky in this war, you know? It doesn’t help that Benjamin presumed to know what was best for Kassidy in this situation. I’M GLAD HE APOLOGIZED, THEY’RE SO GREAT.
The vast majority of this episode made me feel numb. In just forty-five minutes, “The Changing Face of Evil” does a number of things that felt… I don’t know. Subversive? Genuinely shocking for a Star Trek show? Look, opening this episode with the reveal that the Breen have attacked Earth â€“ and then showing us that haunting image of Starfleet Headquarters bombed to hell, the Golden Gate Bridge in shambles in the background â€“ just about fucked me up more than I was ready for. We’ve seen shit aimed at Starfleet headquarters before, especially in the films, but it never felt as dire and as tragic as this.
That one act hangs over the rest of the episode. And it is meant to! The Breen, through orders from the Dominion, have escalated the war in a very personal way. It is precisely what the Founders wanted: an opposition force that was vulnerable and afraid. So the Federation and their allies prepare to retaliate, they gather forces to support their one stronghold in Cardassian territory, and then they arrive for the slaughter. What’s so scary about this episode and where it goes is that all the progress the Federation has made against the Dominion and the Cardassians is cast aside because the Breen are FUCKED UP. They’re ruthless, brutal, and they possess weaponry that can drain a ship of all its energy, which leads to the destruction of the Defiant. THE DEFIANT IS GONE AND IT’S NOT EVEN THE SERIES FINALE. WHAT THE FUCK. WHAT THE FUCK, Y’ALL. Just like the imagery in the opening of the episode, it’s a means for the show to convey just how truly fucked everyone is against the Breen. The Defiant, this show’s perpetual sign of force and ingenuity, is no longer around.
What the hell!!!
If any other character was going through the story that Kai Winn was, I’d call foul. It wouldn’t be believable. But after nearly seven years of watching her scheme for power, resent Sisko for his relationship with his profits, and work against her long term interests in order to get what she wants in the immediate future, this makes a strange amount of sense. Well… it’s complicated, and I think I need to see what comes next in order to fully understand it. It wasn’t non-sensical to watch Dukat flutter around Kai Winn like a winged demon, whispering his demands and orders to her, influencing her to work against her own instinct. Because he does do that! She expresses her discomfort with working with the Kosst Amojan, and yet, Dukat pushes her past her this. There’s a whole host of consent issues here at play, and this is only one example of it. He constantly pushes Winn to do things she says she doesn’t want to do or that are uncomfortable to her. He doesn’t respect her boundaries at all. And then there’s the whole deception element, which is finally exposed in “The Changing Face of Evil.” I thought that surely this is what would get her to realize she’d been played!
And for a moment, Solbor succeeds. He does what Kai Winn should have done long ago (and arguably would have done for anyone coming to her with such outrageous claims, had she not been conned before Dukat even arrived. There’s a moment where she even acknowledges how disgusting it is that she even let this man touch her, and I truly thought we were on the precipice of a rejection. And given how much Kai Winn hates being betrayed or disrespected or fooled, it was initially very, very confusing watching her suddenly turn away from what her instinct and judgment was telling her. However, this is a woman who puts herself first, and her blood was the thing that revealed the words in the Kosst Amojan. I wouldn’t be surprised if she actually believed Dukat’s insistence that she was judged worthy; I’m guessing that anyone’s blood would have done the trick. Still, Kai Winn’s decision now has a body count, and she murdered her most loyal friend over all of this, and it’s just terrifying to think of. What if she actually goes through with this???
This is a rather grim episode, so Damar’s final surprise hit a lot harder than I expected, especially since he had spelled out that he was defying the Dominion quiet early on in “The Changing Face of Evil.” I had wrongly assumed he would do something about the battle for the Chin’toka system. NOPE, HE IS SO MUCH PETTIER THAN THAT, I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN. Tactically, though, his decision to wipe out the Vorta cloning facility is a stroke of brilliance. The Vorta are key manipulators and oppressors, a link between the forces of the Dominion and the Founders. They can no longer clone new versions of themselves, which means their numbers are limited, WHICH MEANS THERE IS A NEW VULNERABILITY. It is also not lost on me how weird it is to hear Damar speak of imperialism and oppression because… dude. You used to be totally okay with that, as long as it was the Bajorans. SO… AWKWARD, NOW THAT THE TABLES HAVE TURNED.
What a great new variable, y’all. I’M SO EXCITED.
The video for “The Changing Face of Evil” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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