the story: Dukat enacts a deception against Kai Winn, posing as a simple Bajoran farmer to gain her trust.
what it's all about: Putting aside Kasidy and Sisko dealing with last episode's engagement and this episode's wedding, and all the angst therein between, given how the Prophets don't think it's in Sisko's best interests...The real meat of this episode is the beginning of the Dukat/Winn arc in the final arc of the series, which is possibly the most fascinating thing either character ever got to do.
Winn was a character who never gave much room for sympathy, from her first appearance in the first season finale "In the Hands of the Prophets" to her most callous and selfish moment in the third season's "Life Support," really it was only in the previous season's "The Reckoning," the first time she crossed paths with the Pah Wraiths, where Winn might have found some. In that episode she was finally and at last presented with something that she couldn't muscle beneath her. So it's ironic that it's the Pah Wraiths, or perhaps appropriate, that put her in such a position again.
With Dukat, this was a character who'd struggled to find his footing from the very start, and with him it's not really worth referencing a first appearance or any particular subsequent one, because he was always being thrown off-kilter. It was only when he embraced his role as the Emissary of the Pah Wraiths that Dukat regained the confidence he'd once had as commander of Terok Nor (the name of the station when it was still under Cardassian control).
What made Winn so ironic was that she was the main representative of the Bajorans, a hugely religious people, and yet she was never particular religious. No, she was the consummate politician, so caught up in her ambition that it never occurred to take her faith seriously except as a stepping stone ("kai" is akin to the Catholic pope, by the way!); at one point she was also First Minister, but she lost that position in the third season.
So she never realized how important the Prophets were to her until she finally had her first vision. Or so she thought. Really, it was a deception cooked up by Dukat and the Pah Wraiths, one of the most brilliant maneuvers, really, ever featured in the series, something that seems downright inevitable in hindsight, so at least it happened in the final episodes, which also seems appropriate.
Seeing Dukat and Winn together, at last, is one of those perfect moments. Winn had had previous climactic associations (way back in the three-episode arc at the beginning of the second season, when she worked alongside Frank Langella, one of the biggest acting coups Star Trek ever landed), but this was the climax of all climactic moments in a career of evil. Of course, she had no idea she was getting in bed with the devil...
So I love this particular episode in the arc. The ending also reveals the Breen as having joined the Dominion, after a few more moments of Ezri and Worf struggling to reconcile their relationship, which sets up Damar's defection later. But because this is serialized material, more on all that later...
franchise- Still pretty convinced that this arc is impenetrable to casual fans.
- series - Though to Deep Space Nine devotees, it begins to work better and better.
- character - Dukat and Winn own this one.
- essential - They've been waiting for this moment since they first debuted.
Louise Fletcher (Winn)
Marc Alaimo (Dukat)
Penny Johnson (Kasidy)
Casey Biggs (Damar)
Deborah Lacey (Sarah)
Jeffrey Combs (Weyoun)
Salome Jens (Female Founder)
Barry Jenner (Admiral Ross)
Aron Eisenberg (Nog)