Production no.: 499
Written by: Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by: James L. Conway
Stardate: not given
First satellite airdate: September 28, 1996
Robert O'Reilly ......
J.G. Hertzler ..........
Marc Alaimo .........
Casey Biggs ..........
Robert Budaska .....
Robert Zachar .......
John L. Bennett .....
Tony Epper ...........
Ivor Bartels ...........
The Ops officers are waiting for Sisko and Dax to return from a meeting with Starfleet Command. The two are late, and people are getting antsy because of the Klingon situation. Worf is about ready to take the Defiant and go looking, which Kira opposes, when sensors finally pick up the runabout. It's damaged, obviously the result of a run-in with the Klingons. But Sisko and Dax are all right, and Kira welcomes them back aboard.
Things are not going well. "It's hard to believe one Changeling could cause so much chaos," observes Kira, to which Dax says, "He can if he's impersonating the leader of the Klingon Empire." But Starfleet is doing something about it. They are sending an infiltration team into Klingon territory to prove that Gowron is a Changeling. Kira asks who they're sending, and Sisko says, "Me."
Sisko goes to Quark's, looking for Odo. Quark points him out after calling Odo "one depressed ex-Changeling." When Sisko finds Odo, the security chief is staring into a glass of ale, not drunk, just defeated and quite glum. He muses to Sisko about the bubbles in his drink -- something he never noticed before he became a solid. "You know, at first, I found the whole process of ingestion disgusting. But now that I've gotten used to it, I find eating and drinking to be quite comforting. It's one of the few things that you -- that we humanoids have control over." "Not necessarily," Sisko observes. "There's always the temptation to eat too much, to drink too much." Odo shrugs. "One has to find something to do with one's time. For some reason, my work isn't as fulfilling as it used to be."
"I might be able to do something about that," Sisko tells him, and goes on to outline the mission. He wants Odo to come along. Odo is reluctant. "What you need is someone who can turn into Gowron's pet targ. I can't do that anymore." "What I need," Sisko says firmly, "is my chief of security." He tells Odo he expects to see him at the briefing.
All the senior officers, including Odo, convene in the wardroom. It seems Gowron has relocated his military headquarters to Ty'Gokor, a heavily fortified installation in an asteroid field deep within Klingon space, protected by a tachyon detection grid which makes it impossible to get a cloaked ship within transporter range. Also, Gowron is guarded at all times by a personal security force, the Brotherhood of the Sword. Then there's the problem of how to prove he's a Changeling even if they can get that close.
For that, at least, however, there's an answer: Starfleet has given them four modified polaron emitters and an activation device. It is believed that exposure to polaron radiation will destabilize Changeling physiology, making it impossible for a Changeling to retain its shape. The drawbacks are that all four emitters have to be activated at the same time, and since excessive exposure to polaron radiation can be fatal, they can only do it once. "So let me get this straight," says O'Brien. "All we have to do is get past an enemy fleet, avoid a tachyon detection grid, beam into the middle of Klingon headquarters and avoid the Brotherhood of the Sword long enough to set these things up and activate them in front of Gowron." But Sisko has an idea of how to get to Ty'Gokor.
Somewhat later, Dukat arrives on the station and is greeted by Kira, who has gotten Ziyal to lure him here. Not only is the renegade Cardassian dubious about the mission, but he's surprised to see Kira pregnant, and shocked when she tells him casually that it's Chief O'Brien's. "How can Sisko be so deluded to think he and three of his crewmen can infiltrate Klingon military headquarters?" he wonders. "They'll be caught in a heartbeat." "Maybe..." Kira begins, as they enter the infirmary to find four Klingons standing there. "Maybe not." "What's wrong, Dukat?" asks one of the Klingons -- who is actually Sisko. "Haven't you ever seen a Klingon before?"
The three faux Klingons (Sisko, O'Brien, and Odo) along with a real, if slightly altered one (Worf) board Dukat's stolen bird-of-prey. Dukat is amused, and thinks that's payment enough for use of his vessel. Damar would prefer to launch an orbital assault, but O'Brien points out the impracticality of that. On the way, their identity files will be prepared: they are to be entered as candidates for the Order of the Bat'leth, an honor for which Gowron himself will be presiding over the induction of new members in a few days. "That should make for an interesting evening," comments Dukat.
Meanwhile, Bashir and Kira converse about Lt. Vilix'pran, who is "budding" again. They playfully argue about who is at fault for Kira's pregnancy. Of course, their banter only covers their concern about Sisko and the others.
Worf undertakes the task of teaching Sisko, O'Brien, and Odo how to behave like Klingons. It's an uphill battle; Odo, in particular, finds the whole thing pointless. He walks away, and Sisko follows him. "Captain, I have no business being on this mission," Odo says. "I'm not a very convincing Klingon." The fact is, he's still depressed about the loss of his shapeshifting abilities, and afraid that he will let the mission down because of it. "Let me worry about that," Sisko tells him. "Odo, I know this has been a difficult time for you. That you would have never chosen to become a solid. But what's done is done. Brooding isn't going to change anything, and shirking your responsibilities isn't going to make you feel better about yourself." "No, I don't suppose it will," says Odo, resigned.
Just then, there is a red alert. Dukat tells Sisko they're being hailed by another bird-of-prey, which demands visual contact. Dukat, though, isn't too worried; he has a communications holofilter which makes him look like a Klingon. However, Damar reports the filter isn't working. Odo suggests that Worf speak to them. However, instead, Dukat fires on and destroys the other ship. "It was either that or trust in Mr. Worf's ability to lie," he explains. "And frankly, I have more faith in my weapons." They hurry away from the scene.
As they arrive at Ty'Gokor, the four officers prepare for the operation, concealing the polaron emitters in their uniforms. Dukat lets them know he has no intention of hanging around waiting for them; without the holofilter working, it's not safe. "Besides, if you succeed, the war will be over, and you won't need us. And if you fail..." He assures them he has added their names to the commendation list. "And now, Jodmos son of Kobor," he says to Sisko, "your medal awaits you." The four beam down, and head to the Hall of Warriors, a vast chamber full of statues, where the pre-ceremony celebration is already beginning.
Sisko gains some points when he roughs up a burly Klingon who was bragging about boarding a Starfleet ship and killing the captain, a Benzenite who happened to be an Academy classmate of Sisko's. Worf tells them it will be a long while before Gowron arrives. "This is an endurance test as much as it is a celebration. It's part of the initiation rite for the Order of the Bat'leth. The idea is to eat, drink, stay awake all night and still be clear-eyed when Gowron arrives for the ceremony." They will have to wait until then to set up the emitters, to minimize the chances of their being spotted. "In that case, we might as well drink up," says Odo, dipping some bloodwine. "It's a pity it doesn't have any bubbles."
Thanks to the anti-intoxicant they've taken, they are still quite sober several hours later, as Sisko does some wrestling. He comes back a little sore; it's been 22 years since he was captain of the Academy wrestling team. At that moment, General Martok comes into the hall. Sisko and the others manage to face him boldly and call out "Qapla'" to Martok, who doesn't seem to recognize them. "If Martok is here, Gowron will not be far behind," Worf notes, and Sisko indicates it's time to set up the emitters.
Carefully, the four of them each select the hiding places for their emitters; Sisko heads for the central pedestal while the others go for statues in the corners. O'Brien is stopped by Martok. "Don't I know you?" "I would be honored to think so," O'Brien bluffs, saying he is Pahash of the house of Konjah. Martok peers at him, trying to place his face, and O'Brien suggests that perhaps they met at the battlefield at Mempa. Finally Martok seems to accept this, and moves on.
Then there is another problem. A drunken Klingon bumps into Odo just as he's putting his emitter into place, and the emitter rolls to the feet of another, towering Klingon, who picks it up and demands to know what it is. Odo attempts to snatch it back, but the Klingon says it looks like some kind of weapon. Worf comes to Odo's rescue. "Kodrak! My brother! You found it!" Together, they claim that the device is a "tinghamut", a Vulcan toy for children, taken in the raid on Archanis. Finally the other Klingon lets them have it, just as the drums announce the arrival of Gowron, who sweeps into the room to much cheering.
Odo hurries back to his statue as Gowron begins his speech. But a young Klingon is perching on the pedestal there. Gowron begins calling up the new inductees one at a time. Finally, Odo simply tosses the young Klingon off the statue, and places the emitter. However, just as Sisko is about to activate the triggering device, his cover name is called out by Gowron. With no other choice, Sisko goes forward to receive his medal. Once he's got it, he pulls out the device again, and is struck from behind by Martok. "Captain Benjamin Sisko. I knew I recognized that face. Seal the room! It seems we have some uninvited guests."
Sisko, Odo, O'Brien and Worf end up in a prison cell, where Martok comes to visit them and sneer. Curiously, he orders the guards to leave. "Don't you understand?" he says. "You've thrown your lives away for nothing. Or did you really think you could fool us into believing that Chancellor Gowron was a Dominion spy?" Unfortunately, there is now no way to prove that Gowron is really the one fooling everyone: Martok says Gowron had the polaron emitters destroyed. "Captain, your mission was a failure. For that, you deserve to die."
But Sisko realizes something. "You think we're right, don't you? You believe that Gowron is a Changeling, too." Frustrated and reluctant, Martok finally admits that he's suspected for months. "I have known Gowron a long time. And it is no secret that we have not always agreed on the way he runs the Empire. He is a politician, too eager to compromise, too eager to talk. Last year, he stopped the attack on Deep Space Nine instead of going to war with the Federation. And then he changed. Suddenly he was the one calling for war." Not only that, but Gowron began ignoring the advice of his generals. "Our losses continue to mount, and still he listens to no one." "No one but the Founders," Odo chimes in.
"There is only one certain way to expose Gowron for what he really is," says Martok decisively. "To prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is a Changeling. Gowron must die." Worf suggests that Martok could challenge him in honorable combat. However, Martok says, "There will be no honorable combat, no formal challenges. I will release you, and help you reach the Hall of Warriors. And then you will kill him."
Martok leads them out and kills a guard who questions it. Sisko knocks out the other. They then head back to the Hall; Martok kills two more guards without breaking stride. Sisko, Worf, and O'Brien move on ahead, now armed with the guards' disruptors, but Martok stops Odo. "Not you. There's no telling where your loyalties lie."
In the hall, Gowron is leading a series of toasts, when Worf steps up to challenge him. The fight begins; Gowron stops his guards from intervening. "Lower your weapons. If this traitor wants a fight, I will give him one. You want to kill me, Worf? You're welcome to try."
Martok watches, impatient. "What are they doing? Why doesn't Sisko just shoot him?" "I have a better question," says Odo. "Why isn't Gowron letting his bodyguards kill Worf? I'll tell you why. Klingon honor. A concept you should be very familiar with. My people, on the other hand, don't care about honor. How did you put it? 'There will be no honorable combat, no formal challenges.' Hardly the words of a Klingon. Tell me, 'General', did Gowron destroy the polaron emitters, or did you?"
The battle continues, and Worf knocks Gowron to the ground. He is poised, ready to bury his bat'leth in Gowron's chest, when Odo's voice calls out. "Worf, stop! Martok's the Changeling!" He and Martok have tumbled into the room, fighting. Martok sprouts gooey tentacles and begins strangling Odo. But Sisko shoots him with a disruptor, and several Klingons follow suit. The Changeling finally explodes in a mass of flaming protoplasm. "Well, looks like we found our Changeling after all," Sisko observes.
Afterwards, Sisko and the others have explained everything to Gowron. It seems that the Founders deliberately misled Odo into thinking Gowron was a Changeling, in hopes that once Starfleet eliminated him, the way would be paved for "Martok" to take over, and for the destruction of both the Federation and the Klingons. "But they sorely underestimated Odo here," Gowron adds appreciatively. As for ending the war, however, Gowron says it may not be possible. "Why not?" asks Worf. "You told us that the Martok Changeling was the one who pushed for the attack on the Federation." "True," replies Gowron. "But if your Klingon blood wasn't so thin, you'd know that once battle has begun, there can be no turning back." He tells Sisko that if the war is to end, the Federation must allow the Empire to annex Archanis and the other worlds it has seized.
"I wouldn't count on that," says Sisko. "But if the fighting stops and the negotiations begin -- " "Ah, yes. Talk," Gowron growls disdainfully. "That's right, talk," Odo puts in. "The last thing the Dominion wants." That gets through to Gowron, who says he will advise the High Council to call a temporary ceasefire. He will also make sure Sisko and company are delivered back to DS9. "You have done a great service to the Empire. For that, I thank you." He looks at Worf. "As for you, you should have killed me when you had the chance. I promise you won't get another."
Back on DS9, Sisko's face has been restored to normal. "I could do without the ridges, but I kind of miss the fangs," he says. Odo is next in line, and says he won't miss the fangs at all. Bashir tells him, "You know, Constable, I could give you any face you like. Bajoran, human, Trill..." "My old face will do very nicely, thank you," replies Odo, earning a smile from Sisko as he heads into surgery.
Initially, this episode was written as a two-parter, with more happening aboard Dukat's ship. At the Emmy awards, the episode received nominations for outstanding makeup and cinematography. This episode was a bit of a treat for Rene Auberjonois and Michael Dorn, who got to be amused by the reactions of Avery Brooks and Colm Meaney to the Klingon makeup. Auberjonois, in fact, declared the Klingon makeup to be much more comfortable than his usual full-face mask. The original plan was to have Gowron be the Changeling, as stated in "Broken Link", but the writers decided they didn't want to kill Gowron off, so Martok was revealed as the spy instead. The argument between Kira and Bashir over who is at fault for her pregnancy is an in-joke referring to the fact that Alexander Siddig happened to be the father of Nana Visitor's real-life baby.