#DS91sttime: Season 3, Episode 26, “The Adversary”

August 9, 2013 in #DS91sttime, General Topics

Twitter hastag: #DS91sttimeAt long last, ladies and gentlemen, we’ve arrived at the end of Season 3. This season opened with the Defiant being brought in to help the show with what the producers had grown to see as a weakness–the inability to get the whole crew off-station at one time for various adventures–so it’s almost fitting that “The Adversary” spends so much time on board this vessel. It closes the season the way it began.

But let’s cut to the chase, so we can get to the chase, which is what this episode is centered on.

“The Adversary” opens with Sisko getting that all-important fourth rank pip. He’s a captain now, and I must say the change is welcome. Sisko looks the part, and I never did buy a commander being in charge of such a massive facility. Congratulations come from multiple parties, and here’s where the show tilts its hand a bit by having two guest characters show up: The rather suspicious and semi-recurring Lieutenant Commander Michael Eddington, and an Ambassador named Krajensky. Why are they present? To provide plot fodder. What the writers are doing is loading the episode full of smoke so they can wave it around later on. Changelings are afoot. We’ll need foils. We’ll need distractions.

Most of the time, this show has proven adept at hiding the presence of these aliens from us, so their presence and subsequent reveals have worked. Here? I’m just waiting for the shoe to drop. It’s too forecasted.

Nervous crewman. Season 3, Ep 26, "The Adversary"

Nervous crewman. Season 3, Ep 26, “The Adversary”

In any event, there’s been a revolt, or a coup, or some other supposed malady that happened somewhere affecting some alien race we won’t ever see, so in typical Trek fashion the captain of a defensive strongpoint–watching over a point of ingress for a known space threat–takes his best tactical asset, all his senior staff, and goes tearing off to help.

This can’t be farmed out to another vessel? If the ambassador needs to go defuse a conflict, how about letting the Bajorans take him, for once? They’ve got the ships, and helping a nearby race could only raise their standing in Federation circles, as well as improve local trade relations. And they’ve been chomping at the bit to get admitted, to the point of corruption, so you’d think they’d be all over this.

Further, that would set up a better plot–in my opinion–than where this episode eventually goes. I’d love the same sort of suspicion and witch hunt to take place on a contracted vessel, where the crew is liable to be far less professional and much more dangerous when they realize a changeling is on board. You could have the situation spiral out of control, too–maybe even with the death of a major character.

I can dream, can’t I?

As it is, the eventual changeling-run-amok thriller does a reasonable job of hiding its surprises, but the suspense never quite boils over. There’s never that feeling, in the pit of your gut, that the core crew is in actual, life-threatening danger. This is symptomatic of a variety of issues, such as the saboteur’s decisions. For example, they don’t outright kill Dax, and then go after the Chief. It would have been their best strategy to use, and would have completely cooked Sisko’s goose. But they’re hamstrung from doing so. Not because it wouldn’t be appropriate to the changelings and their motives, but because this show has a sanctified central cast, for better or worse–and that’s up to one’s own opinion. Firefly, this ain’t.

Odo, Season 3, Ep 26, "The Adversary"

Odo, Season 3, Ep 26, “The Adversary”

When the changeling’s identity is revealed, the consequences are stiff, and Odo has to make some very hard choices. Once again, he’ll be torn between the Federation, or the Link. This does wind up being the strongest point in the episode, and the big reveal of a TERRIBLE SECRET does come off with sufficient foreshadowing.

The rest? Not bad…but not great, leaving us an outing of strong ups and plodding downs. This utilitarian episode serves to set up what’s ahead, and it does little more than that. It’s dotted here and there with moments of inspiration and excellent character growth, but a good deal of it is forgettable.

Just like its parent season.

Rating: 3/5 stars.

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