After months of enduring heavy losses against the Dominion/Cardassian forces, Sisko presents a plan to take the offensive in the war. He convinces Starfleet Command to commit to 'Operation Return:' the recapture of Deep Space Nine. Unfortunately, Damar figures out a way to deactivate the minefield at the mouth of the wormhole within a week; forcing Starfleet to send its fleet before it's ready, without Klingon support.
On the station, an incarcerated Rom and an indifferent Odo means that La Résistance has very little chance of preventing Damar from taking down the mines before Starfleet arrives.
This episode provides examples of:
- All There in the Manual: "Operation Return" is never referred by name, which comes from the DS9 Technical Manual.
- Batman Gambit: The Defiant crew fake damage to the ship in order to lure some Jem'Hadar ships into an ambush.
- Berserk Button: Do NOT manhandle Tora Ziyal in front of Major Kira.
- Big Brother Instinct: As Rom becomes resigned to his fate:Quark: Besides, do you think your big brother would let anything happen to you?
Rom: What can you do?
Quark: I'm not sure, but I will think of something. No matter what it takes, no matter what I have to do, I'm going to get you out of here.
- Character Development: This episode has Sisko declaring his love for Bajor, along with his intention to build a house there once the war is over. Quite a long way from the man who was treating the posting at Deep Space 9 as just another assignment.
- Chekhov's Gun: Morn visiting his mother.
- Darkest Hour: The Federation learns the minefield will soon come down, allowing a massive Dominion fleet to come through the wormhole. Lacking the time for additional Starfleet ships or Klingon support to arrive, Sisko has no choice but to take a limited fleet into battle.
- Death-or-Glory Attack: Discussed by Admiral Ross and Sisko. The plan to retake DS9 will either give the Federation the initiative in the war, put the Dominion on the defensive, and eliminate the threat of further reinforcements from the wormhole or it will cost every ship they have and likely spell all out defeat for the Federation.
- Field Promotion: Nog goes from Cadet to Ensign after spending months on the front lines. O'Brien jokes (though not really) he didn't know the war was going that badly.
- Flaunting Your Fleets: We see the Federation fleet around Starbase 375 get larger and larger as the episode progresses, before flying off to retake Deep Space Nine. Then the Dominion sends an even larger fleet to block them at the end of the episode.
- Damar tells Ziyal that her father knows the alliance with the Dominion is a dangerous one, and if Cardassia shows any weakness, they will become the Dominion's scapegoats. This is what eventually happens in Season 7.
- While talking with Ross, Sisko voices his desire to build a home on Bajor, which will be revisited in Season 7.
- The Female Changeling tells Weyoun that Odo is the only thing that matters to them, more than the entire Alpha Quadrant.
- Gondor Calls for Aid: Sisko's plan hinges on Klingon involvement, but Gowron is reluctant to commit so many ships when they're having trouble defending their own territory. Martok and Worf leave to convince him in person, because, as the General says, an ally and an enemy telling him the same thing will surely convince the Chancellor.Sisko: Gentlemen, I need those ships.Worf: And you shall have them.
- "Hell, Yes!" Moment: When Jadzia says they need a big victory to turn the war around, Sisko tells her he intends to propose a major plan to the brass."We're going to retake Deep Space 9."
- Hidden in Plain Sight: The Federation receives word that the minefield around the wormhole is coming down from Morn - Kira's Resistance cell had it encoded on the ribbon he used to wrap his mother's birthday present.
- Horrible Judge of Character: Damar believes that Quark is a typical Ferengi, one who puts profit and greed above all else (including family). He fails to see that Quark does have a conscience and is firmly not on the Dominion's side.
- I Like Those Odds: Averted. Everyone is shocked when they run into a Dominion fleet that outnumbers them two to one. But Sisko knows they have to try and push through anyway. Cue Title Drop.
- Literal-Minded: When Kira tries to appeal to have Rom released, Weyoun jokingly says that there's no logic in releasing a man before he's executed.
- Momma's Boy: The day is saved because Morn is taking his mother so many birthday presents that he can easily smuggle a message out.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: See: Berserk Button.
- Oh, Crap!:
- Damar's reaction upon learning that the Federation fleet is heading for the station. Of course, Dukat is more immediately concerned with what happened with Ziyal.
- Quark gives a very subtle reaction when Damar tells him that the minefield will be taken down in only a week, clearing the way for the Dominion's final victory.
- Please Spare Him, My Liege!: Ziyal pleads with Dukat to pardon Rom. He refuses, and their relationship starts breaking down again.
- Rejected Apology: Odo trying to apologize to Kira for what happened last episode:Kira: We are way, way past "Sorry."
- Skewed Priorities: Damar lampshades this when Dukat orders him to take care of the matter with Ziyal, especially when they've received word that the Federation has just redeployed an enormous fleet.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: The Bajoran deputy is more than a little uneasy at having to stand guard with a Jem'Hadar.
- Title Drop:Sisko: There's an old saying: "Fortune favors the bold." Well, I guess we're about to find out.
- You Are a Credit to Your Race: Damar says this to Quark word-for-word, "complimenting" him on valuing good business above his brother's life in true Ferengi fashion.