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Behind the Lines

Production no.: 528
Written by: René Echevarria
Directed by: LeVar Burton
Stardate: 51145.3-51149.5 
First satellite airdate: October 18, 1997
Jeffrey Combs ........
Marc Alaimo ..........
Max Grodénchik .....
Aron Eisenberg ......
Casey Biggs ...........
Barry Jenner ..........
Salome Jens ...........
Admiral Ross
Female Changeling

The Defiant, operating out of Starbase 375, has just returned from another successful foray into Dominion space. As the crew is celebrating in the mess hall, O'Brien brings Sisko a burnt-out power cell from the phaser array. Sisko takes it and holds it out. "Take a good look at this, people. It says something about this ship. It says that we will fight, and we will keep on fighting until we can't fight anymore." "Yes, sir!" everyone choruses. Sisko continues. "You don't just throw something like this away." "No, sir!" The captain then places it along a wall next to six other burnt-out power cells, and the crew cheers. Sisko explains to Admiral Ross, who arrives at that moment, that it's a ritual they've developed over the past few weeks.

Ross is here to speak privately to Sisko. Since the war began, the Dominion has always seemed to be able to outmaneuver Starfleet. "It's enough to make you think that they were smarter than we are. But they're not. They've just had an edge that we didn't know anything about until yesterday." Starfleet Intelligence has located a massive hidden sensor array on the edge of the Argolis cluster, capable of monitoring ship movements across five sectors. The array is heavily defended. Ross gives Sisko the report and asks for an attack plan by the next morning.

On Terok Nor, Damar enters Quark's, watched by Kira and Rom from the second level. The two of them comment to each other on the action. They know that Damar is looking for a missing PADD containing a secret memorandum concerning the shortage of white. Since Jem'Hadar, in the extreme throes of withdrawal, will run amok and kill everything in their path, the memo proposes that, in the event that the minefield isn't brought down, the Cardassians poison the last ration of white to eliminate the Jem'Hadar. Rom happens to have picked the PADD from Damar's pocket.

"Here we go. They've seen him," Rom announces quietly as a group of Jem'Hadar approaches Damar, producing the missing PADD. Kira and Rom continue the play-by-play. Damar is accusing the Jem'Hadar of stealing the PADD, while the Jem'Hadar are telling him they found it outside their quarters. "Right where I left it," Rom remarks with self-satisfaction. The manufactured situation escalates into a vicious full-scale brawl between Cardassians and Jem'Hadar.

After the fight has been brought under control, Dukat and Weyoun chastise Damar and the Jem'Hadar leader, respectively. They do their best to smile, to show their men that they're still allies, even as each lays the blame on the other's soldiers.

Sisko shows Ross what he has come up with. Since the array can detect cloaked ships, the Defiant can't get around the Argolis cluster without the Dominion knowing they're coming. So, to gain the element of surprise, the ship will go through the cluster, despite the dangerous gravimetric shear within it. Sisko tells Ross that Dax is sure she can navigate around the distortions. It's a gamble he's willing to take. They can leave as soon as repairs are complete on the Defiant.

Odo speaks with Kira in his office. He's not very happy with her right now, especially when she freely admits to being behind the fight. When they had discussed it at the last resistance meeting, Odo had said it was a bad idea; but after he left, Kira, Rom, and Jake discussed it some more and decided it was a good idea. Kira asks why Odo is taking this so personally. "How do you expect me to take it?" he demands. "I spend my days sitting on the council with Dukat and Weyoun, doing whatever I can to make sure that Bajor survives this war intact. The last thing I need is to have you running around causing mayhem." She maintains that they can't sit by and do nothing while the Federation loses the war. "I'm beginning to think you shouldn't have agreed to sit on that Council," Kira says. "It's as if you're so invested in making sure the station runs smoothly, you've forgotten there's a war going on."

Stung, Odo asks if she's questioning his loyalties. "I need you, Odo," Kira tells him. "The Resistance needs you." Odo isn't satisfied; he wants her to answer the question. She says of course she isn't. Before the discussion can go any further, the door opens, and they see the Female Changeling standing there. "Hello, Odo. It's good to see you again."

The Founder imperiously dismisses Kira, saying she needs to speak to Odo. "It's all right, Nerys," Odo assures her. "I may as well hear what she has to say." Kira finally leaves. Odo's use of the Major's given name doesn't escape the Founder's notice. When he asks what brings her here, she tells him, "You."

She explains that the minefield has trapped her in the Alpha Quadrant. "I have spent too much time with solids. I came because I felt the need to be with one of my own." Odo is skeptical, remembering what happened the last time they met: he was put on trial for killing another Changeling, and turned into a solid. "And now that I'm a Changeling again, you come here as though nothing ever happened?" "We have forgiven you," she tells him simply. He gives her a hard look. "Well, I haven't forgiven you." When Odo reminds her that she's waging a war against his home, she replies that this isn't his home. "You belong with your own kind, as part of the Great Link." Odo tries not to show his temptation. "I'm quite content here, thank you." "You say that because you don't know what you're capable of becoming," she tells him, self-assuredly. "Perhaps if we spend some time together, you might begin to understand."

Ross tells Sisko that his adjutant, Captain Bennet, has been promoted. The admiral already has a replacement in mind: Sisko. "I've been very impressed with you over these past few weeks. I think we would make a good team." The assignment is effective immediately, much to Sisko's surprise. As for the Argolis mission, Dax will be captaining the Defiant. Ross hands him some tactical reports, and tells him, "Congratulations."

A Ruling Council meeting has just finished when the Founder arrives in the wardroom. Weyoun and Dukat practically fall over themselves one-upping each other, though all she cares about as far as they're concerned is when the minefield will be coming down. When they're gone, the Founder notes how trying it must be for Odo to have to interact with that pair. Odo acknowledges that it hasn't been easy. He decides to allow her to walk with him to his quarters.

There, the two of them converse about when he found his homeworld, and how he has tried to put her teaching that "to become a thing is to know a thing" to use since then. "I suppose if it weren't for you," Odo admits, "I never would have known the simple pleasure of spending time existing as a stone or a branch." The Founder expresses her sadness at his choice to stay with the solids. Odo says he hasn't regretted it, though he adds honestly that he does still think about the Link from time to time. "It's there for you," she tells him. "I can't," he replies. The Founder guesses that it's because of the feelings he still has for Kira. To Odo's surprise, she seems sympathetic. "You love her," she says.

"I wish I didn't," Odo confesses at last. "I'm so vulnerable to her. All she has to do is smile at me and I'm happy beyond reason. A minor disagreement between us and I'm devastated. It's absurd! Sometimes I wish I could reach inside myself and tear out my feelings for her. But I can't." "Poor Odo," the Founder says. He doesn't want her pity, he says, but she assures him she's not offering pity. "What I need is some peace," Odo tells her. The Founder replies knowingly, "What you need is clarity. I can give you that." And she takes his hand. Odo is hesitant, but her liquid touch is impossible to resist. "Do you want me to stop?" she asks gently. Finally, he shakes his head, giving in to the Link.

The next morning, Kira goes looking for Odo in his office, but finds only Damar. The two of them exchange barbs until Damar tells her Odo is in his quarters, with the Female Changeling. "Jealous, Major?" the Cardassian snipes. Kira heads to Odo's quarters, where Odo is alone, lost in thought. He seems distant and calm as he tells Kira the Founder was here, but is gone now, and assures her that there's no reason to be concerned. Kira's not sure she can believe that. "You didn't Link with her, did you?" "Actually, I did," Odo tells her, to Kira's dismay. He tries to reassure her that the Founder didn't find out about the resistance, and that the Link isn't about exchanging information. "It's about merging thought and form, idea and sensation." "Sounds like a perfect way to manipulate someone," observes Kira. Odo dismisses that. "She's not manipulating me."

Kira is skeptical. The Female Changeling has done nothing but lie to Odo, trick him, or judge him every time they've met. She doesn't understand how Odo can possibly trust her. Odo replies that if she had some hidden motive, he would have sensed it in the Link; besides, he might even eventually convince her through the Link that the Federation doesn't pose a threat to the Founders. "If you could experience the Link, you'd understand the effect it has on my people. You'd realize that anything is possible. I'm only beginning to understand it all myself. I still have so many questions. Now that she's here, I have a chance to get some answers."

"Odo, this isn't the time to go off on some kind of personal quest," Kira pleads. "There's too much at stake." After the war, he can do whatever he needs to do, but right now she needs him focused on the job at hand. "Please promise me that you're not going to Link with her again. Not until this is over." Odo finally agrees. Kira is relieved.

The Defiant is almost ready to go when Sisko comes onto the bridge, to take a last look before the mission. "I wouldn't get too comfortable in that chair, old man," he tells Dax. "When this war is over, I'm going to want my ship back." When O'Brien reports, "All done here, captain," both Sisko and Dax reply. But Sisko wishes them good luck as Dax orders the helm to plot the course to the Argolis cluster. Back in Ross' office, he pensively watches the ship take off without him.

Damar swaggers into Quark's and orders some kanar, the expensive kind. He's been promoted to gul, he gloats to Quark, having redeemed himself in Dukat's eyes in a big way. "Let's just say, it will change the course of history." Quark's interest is piqued. He offers Damar a drink on the house. Damar says he can't talk about it. Undaunted, Quark pours again.

At the next resistance meeting, Jake suggests engineering another fight between the Cardassians and the Jem'Hadar, but Kira, mindful of Odo's reaction to the first one, nixes that. Odo, for his part, seems somewhat detached. Then Quark arrives, having just finished sharing a bottle of kanar with Damar. "That rhymes," he chortles. The others realize he's drunk, which he freely admits; he wouldn't have come here if he wasn't.

"I tried," Quark laments. "I tried my best to run my establishment under this occupation. But you know what? It's no fun. I don't like Cardassians. They're mean and arrogant. And I can't stand the Jem'Hadar. They're creepy. They just stand there like statues, staring at you. That's it. I don't want to spend the rest of my life doing business with these people. I want the Federation back. I want to sell root beer again!" Kira tells him to relax, but Quark replies, "How can I relax when there are thousands of Jem'Hadar ships sitting on the other side of the wormhole, waiting to come through?" He finally reveals what Damar told him: he's come up with a way to deactivate the mines, and the field tests will soon be beginning.

With further prodding, Quark remembers that Damar had said something about using the station's deflector array. Rom recalls that he designed the self-replicating mines so that the only way to stop them from replacing themselves is to isolate them in an antigraviton beam. But then he realizes that one can reconfigure the field generators and refocus the emitters, which would turn the deflector array into an antigraviton beam. Therefore, Kira realizes their priority is to disable the deflector array, which Rom indicates can be done by accessing the EPS feed and overloading the waveguide. However, the EPS feed is in a secured conduit rigged with alarms. Odo can take the alarms offline by running a security diagnostic from his office, which he says he will do as soon as he gets there in the morning.

Sixteen hours after the Defiant left, Sisko converses with Worf over subspace, about the difficulty of waiting for news about a loved one who has gone into danger. Sisko assures Worf that he'll let him know when he hears something.

Odo has another talk with the Female Changeling, who does her best to satisfy his yearning for answers about his people. She offers to Link with him and make everything clear to him that way, but Odo tells her the Link is overwhelming to him; it's easier to talk. Though she says words are clumsy and imprecise, she agrees. Odo learns from her that their people don't consider themselves to exist as separate entities: when a Changeling returns to the Great Link, "the drop becomes the ocean", and when it leaves, "the ocean becomes a drop." Odo is finally beginning to comprehend, but the Founder tells him there is so much more he doesn't know. "Words are insufficient. Link with me again. It is the only way I can give you the understanding you seek." Reluctantly, he admits that he promised Kira he wouldn't. "She is a solid," the Founder reminds him. "This has nothing to do with her. This is about you. About what you want."

Rom arrives at Kira's quarters with a basket of fruit, using the fruit to hide his tools. Two Cardassians are talking nearby; under the guise of taking him back to Quark's to tell his brother that the "gift" is not going to win her over, Kira leads Rom off. They make it to the correct conduit entrance hatch, and Rom climbs inside. Odo is due to interrupt the alarms at exactly 0800 hours, a few minutes from now. However, when Kira comes to the security office, she is horrified to see that Odo is nowhere in sight. She frantically slaps her combadge, calling him. In his quarters, Odo hears, but doesn't register it. He is beginning to Link with the Female Changeling.

Kira is about to warn Rom when Damar shows up to discuss a personnel report. She shakes him off, moves out of sight, and calls Rom. "Don't open that hatch!" But it's too late. Rom has just done it. Kira tells him to get out of there, as Damar and two other Cardassians are responding to the alarm. Rom quickly crawls out of the conduit, only to find himself looking up the barrel of a Cardassian rifle. "Well, well, what do we have here?" Damar smirks.

The Defiant returns safely from its mission, which was successful. Sisko and Ross join the crew's celebration, and watch as they go through the ceremony of adding another burnt-out power cell to the collection, this time with Dax making the speech. "They're a good crew," comments Ross. "The best," Sisko agrees wistfully.

A furious Kira storms into Odo's quarters to confront him. "Rom is sitting in a holding cell, being interrogated! He was counting on you. I was counting on you!" "I know," Odo replies, his manner disturbingly serene, like that of a Founder. Kira is incredulous. "You know? Do you realize what you just did? You've just handed the Alpha Quadrant to the Dominion!"

Odo tells her, in a distant voice, that he was in the Link. He didn't forget; it was just that he no longer feels it has anything to do with him. "If you could experience the Link, you'd know why nothing else matters." She stares at him. "The last five years, your life here, our friendship -- none of that matters?" "It did, once," Odo replies. "I wish I could make you understand. But you can't. You're not a Changeling." "You're right," Kira says at last. "I'm a solid." She leaves without another word, so disillusioned by his betrayal that she can't see that her friend has never been in more danger.

The Female Changeling enters from the other room. "You look troubled, Odo. Did she upset you?" Odo considers that for a moment. "No. Not really," he replies. And the Founder smiles, ever so slightly.

  • The original title of this episode was "Life During Wartime".
  • In early versions of the script, Odo actually was the one to arrest Rom.
  • An early version of the B-story involved Dax getting excessively caught up in commanding the Defiant during combat.