Thursday, June 8, 2017

Deep Space Nine 7x22 "Tacking Into the Wind"

rating: ****

the story: Worf must confront Gowron over his approach to the war, which seems aimed at bringing the Klingon Empire to ruin...

what it's all about: This is arguably the most accessible episode of the ten-hour final arc of the series, not only because it features a well-known franchise character (Gowron, who first appeared in Next Generation) but his final fate as well, finally elevating a well-established Deep Space Nine character (Martok) to succeed him. 

It's also the most focused and self-contained, in a truly rewarding sense, episode of the arc. "Extreme Measures," which follows "Tacking Into the Wind," handles a similarly episodic moment, but in a less satisfying way.  I mean, it's really hard to compete with Klingon politics, which arguably provided some of the best material of the franchise across several series and movies. 

And it finally gives Worf that truly definitive moment in Deep Space Nine.  Until this point he'd been completely out of place, even managing to retain that status when he found true love with Jadzia Dax, which is somewhat hugely impressive.  This began to change when he bonded with Martok, but until one was in the position to truly affect the fortunes of the other, they remained in a holding pattern. 

That changes in "Wind."  Martok is the source of Gowron's rage, a politician jealous of a warrior, and willing to destroy everything in order to exact revenge against his honor.  The Klingons never really had that full-blown war, either, just like the Federation, just like Star Trek, and so to see how things turn out even for a character like Gowron who had always been a fan-favorite, is to see just how significant the Dominion War really is.  You can ignore, if you like, everything else the war accomplishes, but when even Gowron isn't safe, it changes everything.

Anyway, the episode also has Kira and Damar very pointedly grappling with the irony of their present circumstances, Kira helping the Cardassians mount a resistance movement, and Damar grappling with breaking faith with his people, realizing that he isn't merely defecting from the Dominion but rejecting all the old ways that had once defined him.  With all due apologies to Garak, this completes Damar's transformation into the most sympathetic Cardassian ever.  It's the culmination of everything the series had tried to do with Bajorans and Cardassians from the very start.

Since the start of the war in the sixth season, the series had struggled to find moments like these, always playing it safe, knowing the box had to be replaced more or less exactly as it had always been.  But, with only a few episodes left, finally it was time to break some eggs.  And "Wind" does it in spectacular fashion.

criteria analysis:
  • franchise - Classic high Klingon drama!
  • series - The defining moment of the final arc, in some ways.
  • character - Martok and Damar both make permanent marks.
  • essential - The final fate of a franchise icon (Gowron).
notable guest-stars:
Robert O'Reilly (Gowron)
J.G. Hertzler (Martok)
Casey Biggs (Damar)
Andrew Robinson (Garak)
Jeffrey Combs (Weyoun)
Salome Jens (Female Founder)
J. Paul Boehmer

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