The Great Star Trek DS9 Rewatch: The Die is Cast

Under the leadership of Enabran Tain, the Obsidian Order and the Tal’Shiar have assembled a fleet to destroy the Dominion. Now, Garak has joined Tain’s side, and as his first test, Tain wants his former protégé to torture Odo for information about the Founders. Can Garak really embrace his old habits and turn on a friend? For that matter, does Odo even have any secrets to reveal?

As with the opening episode of this two-parter, The Die is Cast stands the test of time not for its main plot, which fizzles out when it turns out the Founders were just leading the Cardassians and Romulans to their doom, but for the interactions between Garak and Odo. Under torture, Odo reveals the one secret he has that isn’t about Major Kira – that, deep down, he longs to return to his people and be part of the Great Link. He turned his back on them when they turned out to be major douchebags, but that doesn’t mean he can’t long for a reality where he could be one with them.

And herein lies the main comparison of the episode – and in case it was too subtle for you, it’s hammered home through dialogue at the end. Both Odo and Garak are exiles and outcasts; much like everyone else on DS9, they don’t quite fit in within their normal society. Odo has remained strong, and stuck to his principles in favour of being with his people. Yes, being close to Kira is a factor, but for now at least, Odo is also swayed by his strong sense of justice.

Garak, on the other hand, jumps at the chance to return to Tain’s side – except that too much has changed. He can no longer be as ruthless as he once was, and even if he could, it doesn’t matter – Tain’s plans are sheer folly. Unfortunately for Garak, he can never go home again.

Observations

  • When the device trapping Odo in his humanoid form is switched off, all the parts of him that had flaked off also liquefy and return to the bucket.
  • Back home, Odo doesn’t even use the bucket any more, although of course after torture anyone’s allowed a break.
  • If the Founders have infiltrated the Tal’Shiar, why did they let the Romulans develop a device that could trap them in a single form, thus robbing them of a tactical advantage?
  • This is the first time we knowingly see a Founder impersonating a humanoid. Unlike Odo, the Founders are skilled enough to perfectly imitate faces – even pointed ears.
  • Does this move really cripple the Romulans and Cardassians? Both the Tal’Shiar and Obsidian Order are intelligence agencies, separate from the main military forces. The Obsidian Order, for example, weren’t even supposed to have their own warships – so surely there are plenty of military warships left over. Yes, their ability to gather intelligence on the enemy or do sneaky things is limited, but both forces should still have ample raw firepower. In fact, in season six Sisko goes to significant effort just to get the Romulans to join the war.
  • The Dominion claim that the Federation and the Klingons are now the only Alpha Quadrant forces to worry about. I guess they’re counting on the fact that advanced races like the Metrons or Organians won’t stoop to interfering in such petty humanoid matters. Nor are the Tholians or Tzenkethi, who are both powerful enough to have had significant conflicts with the Federation, given a moment’s thought.

Summary – The Die is Cast: Odo triumphs where Garak fails.

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