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Recap / Star Trek: Deep Space Nine S03 E15 "Destiny"

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A joint Federation/Bajoran/Cardassian science mission to establish a communications relay through the wormhole is about to commence with the arrival of two Cardassian scientists. Odo and Sisko tend to their quarters to make sure they will be comfortable. Sisko is hopeful that Cardassians will become regular visitors as old wounds from the occupation heal. Quark bursts in with some Cardassian victuals, eager to capitalize on a more peaceful and cosmopolitan station. But when Sisko returns to his office, a Vedek Yarka arrives and warns him that a Bajoran prophesy has predicted catastrophe should the mission take place.

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Yarka speaks of three vipers going to a nest in the sky, and a sword of stars causing a temple to burn. Sisko is dubious and notes that no other major Bajoran has agreed with Yarka's interpretation of events. He decides to go forward with the mission and leaves to welcome the Cardassian scientists. Ulani and Gelora prove to be perfectly unassuming and friendly, and even Kira has a hard time hating them.

There's a big meeting where everyone discusses the mission. Gilora isn't pleased at the amount of unexpected changes that have been made to the station since the Cardassians abandoned it, and O'Brien gets defensive. Everyone gets down to work, but then Ulani announces that a third Cardassian, Dejar, will be arriving to take part. Kira is thunderstruck, connecting the "three vipers" to the three Cardassians. She's starting to become a believer.

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Yarka's followers are still hanging around the station, and Yarka himself continues to urge both Sisko and Kira to call off the mission. Sisko brushes him off, noting that he was stripped of his vedek station due to his unorthodox beliefs, but Kira can no longer so easily dismiss his concerns. Meanwhile, the Cardassians themselves meet up with Dejar at Quark's. Dejar is clearly more militant and nationalistic than her two comrades, and she takes veiled jabs at their liberal habits.

When everyone gets back to work, Gilora continues to criticize O'Brien's work. When he finally confronts her on it, she states that men are poor engineers, which is why women dominate the scientific fields on Cardassia. Meanwhile, Sisko leads a group on the Defiant into the Gamma Quadrant to handle the other side of the communications relay. They note a nearby comet with a long tail of silithium, which Kira immediately dubs the prophesied "sword of stars." She's getting increasingly worried about this whole thing. She tells Sisko about her concerns in private, but he's still not buying it.

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When they turn on the communication beacon, however, it triggers an unexpected reaction and opens the wormhole, which changes the directory of the comet. If it crashes into the wormhole, the silithium will cause the wormhole to collapse. After a meeting to examine their options, O'Brien is tasked with modifying the Defiant's phasers to vaporize the comet. As he and Gilora set to work, she bluntly propositions him. O'Brien is confused, and Gilora explains that his standoffish behavior is exactly the kind of thing that drives Cardassians wild. The flummoxed station chief can only protest that he's happily married.

When the work is done, Sisko fires, but the modifications to vaporize the comet don't kick in. Instead, the phasers blow the comet into three pieces and shut down. O'Brien is mystified by what's happened, but Ulani explains: Dejar is a member of the Obsidian Order and almost certainly sabotaged the mission. Dejar denies everything but gets escorted away. The crew come up with a technobabble way to fix everything that requires Sisko to pilot into the wormhole. Kira accompanies him to be with the Emissary on this fateful trip. They guide the comet fragments safely through the wormhole and out the other side. Kira then realizes that the "three vipers" were actually the comet fragments, and everything else in the prophecy lines up with what actually happened, just not in the way they expected.

Back on the station, Gilora tells O'Brien that his wife is a lucky woman and gives him a kiss goodbye. Sisko meets with Yarka and asks if there are any other prophecies he should know about. They walk off as Yarka relates another prophecy of the Emissary facing a difficult trial.

Tropes

  • Accidental Misnaming: The Cardassians are clearly used to the station being called "Terok Nor", leading to a slip of the tongue during a briefing. Fortunately, Sisko lets it slide.
  • Anywhere but Their Lips: Gilora, who spends the episode hitting on O'Brien (in the Cardassian way, of course), gives him a goodbye kiss on the cheek after he tells her that he's Happily Married.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Apparently an acknowledged standard for Cardassians, which would help explain a lot of why Dukat thinks Major Kira has a thing for him.
  • Brick Joke: Quark intends to welcome the Cardassian delegation with a few bottles of kanar that he had stashed away, until Dax tells him that it's gone bad. A few scenes later, Bashir mentions Morn coming to the infirmary with food poisoning from a bad glass of kanar. It was on the house, apparently.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The bit of prophecy related in the final minutes of the episode, "The Emissary will face a fiery trial, and he will be forced to choose…" is certainly suggestive as some very long-range Foreshadowing of the series finale.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Federation standard operating practice includes having a backup to their backup power supplies. Gilora questions this, but given what the average Starfleet ship goes through, it's pretty smart.
  • Cross Cultural Kerfuffle: Miles thinks he and Gilora are trading bitter barbs with each other other out of mutual dislike; she's actually flirting with him fairly shamelessly and thinks he's reciprocating. This immediately gets awkward when she gets frustrated at him being a tease and overtly propositions him in the middle of what he thought was an argument.
  • Fantastic Racism: Miles thinks this is what's going on, at first. Then it turns out it's not humans the Cardassian he's arguing with has problems with. It's not even entirely clear if her sexism is real, or just a convenient excuse to trade barbs with him (read: flirt).
  • Foreshadowing: The Obsidian Order (vis-a-vis Dejar) trying to sabotage the Bajoran-Cardassian Peace Treaty and effectively committing treason against their own government. This, along with the previous setup from "Defiant" a few episodes earlier, foreshadow the unilateral, unsanctioned actions the Order will take come "Improbable Cause".
  • From a Certain Point of View: The prophecy comes true. Just not in the way Sisko and Kira expected.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: Ulani and Gilora are scientists, not diplomats.
  • Interservice Rivalry: The scientists are clearly at odds with Dejar, and it turns out that she's a member of the Obsidian Order who was tasked with sabotaging their mission.
  • Is That a Threat?: When Yarka tells Sisko that allowing the Cardassian scientists to carry out their experiment will bring destruction, Sisko asks him if that's a threat. To Yarka, however, it's what has been prophesied.
  • Mistaken for Flirting: While collaborating with a group of Cardassian scientists, one of them mistakes O'Brien's belligerence for flirting, as that's how Cardassian customs work. He's a married man and not a fan of Cardassians due to a previous war. But he does later reconcile with her and say that they can be friends and that he respects her as a professional.
  • The Mole: Dejar is really an Obsidian Order agent, whose mission was to sabotage the project in order to demonstrate that Bajorans and Cardassians could not work together.
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Dejar takes veiled shots at the two scientists when they turn up their noses at traditional Cardassian cuisine, stating that "some" scientists are too spoiled.
  • Prophecy Twist: The Bajorans have a prophecy about these events: "When the river wakes, stirred once more to Janir's side, three vipers will return to their nest in the sky. When the vipers try to peer through the temple gates, a sword of stars will appear in the heavens. The temple will burn, and its gates shall be cast open." The Bajorans believe that the "vipers" are the 3 Cardassian scientists, and that their actions will destroy the wormhole. The prophecy actually refers to the 3 comet fragments. When they travel through the wormhole, Applied Phlebotinum leaks out of the fragments, forming a "subspace filament", which holds the wormhole open slightly, enabling subspace communication with the Gamma Quadrant. The prophecy was completely true, but there was no disaster, it was just misinterpreted.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Despite being their "colleague", Ulani and Gilora don't get along very well with Dejar and often react uncomfortably to her. It's because she's actually an Obsidian Order agent who is there to (without Ulani or Gilora's knowledge) sabotage the mission. When Gilora realizes what Dejar's done, she doesn't hesitate to speak up.
  • Token Heroic Orc: Ulani and Gilora are pretty non-standard Cardassians: polite, friendly, nervous, fond of foreign food. When it's obvious to them that Dejar has sabotaged the relay (she had accompanied them on pretenses of security reasons), Gilora quickly informs the crew she's actually a member of the Obsidian Order and suspects the damage to the Defiant's equipment wasn't an "accident."
  • Tsundere: Gilora reveals that standoffish behavior is how Cardassians flirt.
  • You Have Failed Me: Gilora hints that Dejar might face this when the Obsidian Order catches wind of her failure.
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