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Tacking Into the Wind

Production no.: 572
Written by: Ronald D. Moore
Directed by: Mike Vejar
Stardate: not given 
First satellite airdate: May 8, 1999
Andrew J. Robinson .....
Jeffrey Combs .............
Casey Biggs ................
J.G. Hertzler ................
Robert O'Reilly ............
John Vickery ...............
Salome Jens ................
Kitty Swink .................
J. Paul Boehmer ..........
Female Changeling

Reviewing the Cardassian resistance's destruction of a Jem'Hadar ship, Kira is concerned that Rusot's men planted the bomb in a different place than they were instructed. Rusot claims it doesn't matter; the bomb wasn't found, and the ship was destroyed. Kira can't get him to see the point, that his men ignored orders, and only succeeded because they were lucky. Rusot almost comes to blows with her, but Damar calms him. After Rusot stalks out, Kira asks Damar if he's going to do something about him. Damar answers, "I am. I'm giving him my support."

Odo returns from a sabotage mission, and gives Kira his report before going off to get some rest. A few minutes later, Garak comes into the bunkroom; he catches Odo in a state of desiccation. Odo explains wearily that he has been changing form frequently over the last few weeks, which seems to accelerate the disease. When Garak suggests that he stop, Odo replies, "And do what? Lie here waiting to die? I came to work, and work is what I'm going to do." Garak takes it that Kira is unaware of Odo's true condition; Odo prefers to keep it that way. "She has enough on her mind without worrying about me. And I don't want her -- " "Pity?" Garak guesses, correctly.

Since Garak came in to ask about Odo's possible contacts on Kelvas V, Odo says he will have to give it some thought. About to leave, Garak turns back. "Odo, I hope you know how much I -- " Odo brusquely interrupts. "If I don't want pity from the woman I love, why would I want it from you?"

Bashir pulls his fourth all-nighter in a row, trying unsuccessfully to determine the origin of the virus. O'Brien tells him, "Julian, it's time to face facts. You're not going to pull a rabbit out of your medkit. Even the Founders themselves couldn't find a cure, and they had all the resources of the entire Dominion at their command." He says Bashir will have to track down the person who created the virus. To do that, they have to get inside Section 31. Bashir counters that they've already tried, and got nowhere. "You want to face facts? Face this fact. Section 31 have managed to stay in hiding for over three hundred years. They're not going to come scurrying into the light just because Miles O'Brien and Julian Bashir are on the case." But he argues against having Sisko contact Starfleet Intelligence; that will only alert Section 31, who will probably send someone here to destroy his work. "Science is the answer here. Every puzzle has a solution, every disease a cure, it's just a matter of finding it. Now, if you'll kindly get the hell out of here, I have work to do."

Gowron is furious that Martok was defeated in what he claims should have been an easy attack on Avenal VII, but Sisko points out that both he and Martok advised against it, and Martok was heavily outnumbered. Now Martok is in critical condition in the Rotarran's sickbay. "This entire operation has been a waste of resources, men and equipment. The blame lies with the man who ordered the mission in the first place, not the man who tried to carry it out." Playing the politician, Gowron says Martok is popular with the troops, so he won't dismiss him yet. But he insists that the attacks will continue.

Weyoun discusses the Cardassian rebellion with the Female Changeling and the Breen general Thot Pran. The Vorta squirms a bit, saying defensively that no one could have foreseen it. "If our cloning facilities were operational, I would eliminate this Weyoun immediately," the Founder says. She orders Weyoun to redouble efforts to find Damar's family, interrogate Cardassian citizens, and put Cardassians in and around Dominion military installations, so that if Damar kills them in his operations, it will turn the people against him. The Founder also tells Thot Pran to accelerate the installation of the Breen weapons on Dominion ships. "How long before our cloning facilities are operational again?" she asks Weyoun, who swallows hard. "Not for several days, perhaps even weeks." "Ah. Keep me informed," the Founder says.

Garak tells Kira, Damar, and Rusot that according to the contact on Kelvas V, the Breen will soon be installing their energy dampeners on Jem'Hadar fighters. The Federation is still having trouble understanding the technology in order to come up with a countermeasure. Kira gets an idea, to supply the Federation with one of the weapons. Rusot argues against it, naturally, but Damar tells him that by helping Starfleet, they'll be helping themselves. Kira decides to take a five-man team to the Cardassian repair facility in the Kelvas system, consisting of the four of them, plus Odo.

Concerned, Garak has a word aside with Kira, and tells her that Odo's condition has been deteriorating far more rapidly than he's let on. "I know," says Kira. "...I love him, Garak. You think I really wouldn't notice?" She has been pretending not to, because she knows Odo doesn't want her to know. "He wants to put up a brave front and protect me from the truth. Well, fine. If that's what makes this easier for him, if that gives him one last shred of dignity to hold onto, then I'll go on ignoring what's happening to him until the very end."

When the Rotarran arrives back at DS9, and Martok is transferred to the infirmary, Sisko calls Worf to his office. "Mr. Worf, we've got a serious problem on our hands." "Gowron," Worf nods. He tells Sisko that the reason Gowron is so determined to continue his foolhardy offensives is because of Martok, whom Gowron sees as a political threat. Sending Martok on these impossible missions is designed to humiliate him in the eyes of the Empire by forcing him to endure defeat after defeat. "It would not be the first time that a Klingon Chancellor put his own interests ahead of the greater good." He has a solution, but says it won't be easy; Sisko tells him to do whatever it takes.

Rusot reports to Kira that the shuttle for their mission has been secured. "Are you enjoying yourself?" he sneers. "Getting Cardassians to do your bidding must give you great pleasure." Kira tells him to find someone else to play with, but Rusot is determined to give her a piece of his mind. He claims to know why she's really here: to kill yet more Cardassians. Kira makes a move that puts Rusot physically at her mercy, letting him know in no uncertain terms that there's more pain in his future if he doesn't stop pushing her. "When this is all over, and the Dominion is defeated -- " Rusot warns; Kira finishes, "You won't have any trouble finding me." When Rusot goes, Garak steps out from the shadows, holding a phaser, which he would have used on Rusot if she hadn't had things under control. Kira will have to do something about Rusot soon, he warns, because despite his words, Rusot won't wait for the end of the war.

Worf makes a suggestion to a still-recovering Martok, who is incredulous. Challenging Gowron would be treason, unless Gowron were acting with cowardice, of which there is no proof. Besides, the High Council would never accept a common-born man like himself as Chancellor. Worf argues that if Martok were to seize leadership, he would have such wide support from the warriors of the Empire that the High Council would have no choice. But Martok's mind is made up: challenging Gowron would dishonor everything he believes in.

On the runabout headed to a rendezvous with the shuttle, Odo notices Kira watching him, and tells her not to worry; it may be a long time before his first symptoms surface, and Bashir might have found a cure by then. "Right," says Kira. She goes to the replicator, where Damar is staring in shock at a PADD. His wife and son have been murdered by the Dominion.

"The casual brutality of it," Damar exclaims, devastated. "The waste of life. What kind of state tolerates the murder of innocent women and children? What kind of people give those orders?" Her nerves frayed by worry for Odo, Kira replies pointedly, "Yeah, Damar, what kind of people give those orders?" She regrets her words as Damar glares at her and walks off, but Garak tells her that Damar needed that dose of reality. "If he's the man to lead a new Cardassia, if he's the man we all hope him to be, then the pain of this news made him more receptive to what you said, not less." They reach the rendezvous point; the shuttle is waiting. The team beams aboard.

Worf unburdens himself to Ezri over drinks. Ezri thinks it's "sweet" that he and Martok still consider her a member of their house, though she corrects the word to "honorable". She warns that Worf won't like her thoughts on the matter of Gowron, however. "I think the situation with Gowron is a symptom of a bigger problem. The Klingon Empire is dying. And I think it deserves to die." Explaining herself, Ezri says she's a bit more skeptical about the Empire than Curzon or Jadzia were. Klingon society is in deep denial, priding itself on its honor, but accepting corruption at its highest level. Worf says she's overstating the case, yet when pressed, he can't think of any chancellors he's respected. Ezri points out that Worf himself has had to cover up crimes of Klingon leaders "for the good of the Empire", and that he has been willing to accept a corrupt government. "Worf, you are the most honorable and decent man that I've ever met. And if you're willing to tolerate men like Gowron, then what hope is there for the Empire?"

Garak, Damar, and Rusot board a Jem'Hadar ship docked at the Cardassian station in the Kelvas system, with Kira in tow as a manacled Federation prisoner. Garak tells the security officer at the checkpoint, whose name is Vornar, that they have a prisoner for the Vorta. Vornar says to leave their weapons here, as no armed Cardassians are allowed aboard Jem'Hadar vessels. Garak and the others comply; Vornar catches Damar's eye and wishes him luck. As they're being led to the bridge by a Jem'Hadar, Kira surreptitiously drops the manacles, which morph and slither into a vent.

The Vorta in charge, Luaran, wonders why they're bringing her a prisoner; Garak gives her a story about how Kira (or "Commander Rota") is deputy intelligence officer for this sector. Suspicious, Luaran is demanding to see his orders when, to her shock, the Female Changeling walks onto the bridge. The Founder says she will conduct the questioning herself, and casually asks to inspect one of the upgraded plasma rifles a Jem'Hadar is carrying. Naturally, the Jem'Hadar hands it over. The Founder then gives it to Garak, asking what he thinks. For answer, Garak shoots Luaran and all the Jem'Hadar, killing them.

The bridge has been captured. The Founder morphs -- she is actually Odo. Kira quickly orders them to secure the hatches and prepare to flood the lower decks with neurazine gas. But Garak tells her they can't leave, because the engineers haven't finished installing the Breen weapon. It will be thirty to forty-five minutes before the work is completed. Rusot says they can't wait that long, but Kira decides that they will sit tight and give standard replies to any inquiries until the Breen are finished. A call comes in for the Vorta; Kira handles it with information accessed by Garak and Odo.

O'Brien brings Bashir some food; the doctor has made no progress in his work. O'Brien asks what Section 31 would do if they heard that Bashir had found a cure. Bashir replies that probably Sloan or another operative would come here to destroy his work. "I think you should send a message to Starfleet Medical saying that you have found the cure," O'Brien suggests. His idea is to lure someone here from Section 31, capture them, and figure out some way to get the information out of them -- either the cure, or the name of someone who knows it. Bashir likes the plan. "When did you get so devious?" "I've been hanging around you too long," O'Brien replies. "...Let's just hope this works and we cure Odo. That's all I care about."

Gowron outlines his next plan of attack to Martok, Worf, and a collection of Klingon admirals and generals. Of course, it's yet another insanely dangerous mission against a heavily fortified target, and Gowron relishes Martok's objection. Martok, however, backs down, saying he will fight any battle for the Empire. But Worf decides that this has gone far enough. "You rule without wisdom and without honor," he declares to Gowron. "The warriors that are gathered here would not say this to you, but I will. You are squandering our ships and our lives on a petty act of vengeance." Gowron counters that if Worf were a true Klingon, he would kill him where he stands. "Fortunately for you, that child's uniform shields you from your rightful fate."

For answer, Worf takes off his combadge. "What I say now, I say as a member of the House of Martok, not a Starfleet officer. You have dishonored yourself and the Empire, and you are not worthy to lead the Council." Gowron takes up the challenge, doffing the cloak; he and Worf each grab a bat'leth and have at it. The fight ends when Worf stabs Gowron. "You will not have this day," Gowron gasps. Then he dies.

After Worf gives the death howl, Martok drapes the chancellor's cloak around Worf, and the others start cheering, but Worf silences them. "What I have done was for the Empire. A new day must dawn for our people. I am not the man to usher in that day. But there is a man here who can." With that, he removes the cloak, and takes it to Martok, who protests that he does not seek leadership. Worf quotes Kahless: "'Great men do not seek power, they have power thrust upon them.'" He puts the cloak on Martok, who is then hailed as the new Chancellor of the Empire.

On the Jem'Hadar bridge, suddenly Odo can no longer hide the effects of his illness by simulating a healthy appearance; he collapses in agony, his humanoid form now horribly parched and crumbling. Kira rushes to him, urging him to stay with her. Rusot stands over them. He declares that Odo is useless, and they have to get out of here; he then aims a phaser at Kira's head. Garak in turn points one at Rusot, who doesn't believe Garak would shoot a fellow Cardassian for the sake of a Bajoran woman. "How little you understand me," says Garak. Damar, his own phaser in hand, tells both of them to put their weapons down. Rusot says Damar wants Kira dead too, but doesn't want to kill someone in a Starfleet uniform. "Let me do it for you."

A console beeps; the installation of the dampening weapon is complete, but the team is still squared off against each other. Rusot urges Damar to shoot Garak. They can kill Odo and Kira, and keep the Breen weapon. "I believe in you, Damar. I know you're the right man to restore the Empire we so loyally served. The Empire we loved. Together we can lead our people to greatness again! Just aim and fire." Damar does exactly that. Rusot falls dead. "He was my friend," Damar notes sadly. "But his Cardassia is dead. And it won't be coming back." Kira orders Garak to flood all compartments with the gas, and the ship moves away from the station.

Finally Kira can turn her attention to Odo. "You're probably angry," he says with difficulty. "...I...hid my true condition." "Odo, I've known all along," she tells him. "But it's not over. Julian's probably working on a cure right now -- " Odo stops her. "Nerys -- Nerys, don't. Just...stay here with me." Kira holds him tenderly, willing him to hold on just a little while longer.

  • In this episode, Odo impersonates the Female Changeling; the only time in the series that he morphed into another sentient being (if you don't count Curzon/Odo in "Facets").
  • Originally Worf was going to read Gowron the riot act about what he was doing, and Gowron would listen to reason and go back to Qo'Nos. It was Michael Piller who suggested that Worf kill Gowron.
  • The title refers to a nautical maneuver which allows a ship to make headway against strong wind, by changing direction.