“Doctor, you’re not… intimating… that I’m some sort of SPY, are you?!”

The opening scenes of this episode fill me with joy! One of my absolute favorite characters in this series is Andrew Robinson‘s Cardassian tailor Garak, the only Cardassian who stayed behind on the station when the Cardassians left. Often suspected of being a spy, Garak’s true nature and purpose remain a mystery throughout the seven seasons of this show. Despite Garak’s dark nature, or perhaps because of it, Garak’s scenes are often imbued with humor. The opening scenes of this episode are a perfect example. Even though we don’t know Garak at this point and only barely know Dr. Bashir, one can’t help but think that Garak is pulling the doctor’s leg, deliberately playing into Bashir’s romantic notions of spies and skulduggery. I love how the animated Bashir later runs into Ops to tell of his contact with this Cardassian “spy”, and no one is interested. Poor doctor!

But this episode is really about Major Kira. Where do her loyalties lie? She doesn’t want the Federation there, even if they are ostensibly there to help, and she is even suspicious of the provisional government on Bajor. But is she willing to act against either of them?

One theme that I will probably return to over and over in discussing this show is how it’s all about shades of gray. Nothing is black and white. There’s a great scene early in this episode between Sisko and Kira. They are arguing about what to do with a Bajoran terrorist who has requested asylum on the station. Both Sisko and Kira explain their positions to each other, and you know what? They are both right! It’s great.

I’m also impressed by how relevant this episode is to us today.¬†Josh pointed out that one interpretation of this series has the Cardassians representing the Soviets, with Bajor representing Eastern Europe after the fall of the Iron Curtain. But this episode deals with terrorism and our attitudes toward it. It asks the question that Ron Moore’s Battlestar Galactica would ask over 20 years later: how do we feel about terrorism when it’s committed in our interests? How do we feel about a terrorist when he’s on our side? Kira has to decide whether to help a supposedly former Bajoran terrorist or turn to the Federation and even the Cardassians to stop whatever he might be planning.

You may be thinking, “wow, this episode has a lot going on!” But wait, there’s more. We have the added bonus of a visit by the Klingon Duras sisters, Lursa and B’Etor!

Finally, I was tickled when Major¬†Kira makes a classic mistake. I don’t think any news travels faster than when you attempt to go over your boss’s head. I love it when that admiral calls up Sisko at the station: “That Bajoran woman you have working for you interrupted a STAFF MEETING…” Delicious!