After preventing a ploy that would have been a significant strategic victory for the Dominion, however, Starfleet engages their services as analysts. They quickly prove their value and gain the respect of Starfleet Command...until the four decide that there's no way for the Federation to win the Dominion War, and advise the Federation to surrender.
When Starfleet refuses, the 'Jack Pack' undertake a plan to bring the war to an early end by handing vital information over to the Dominion.
- Adult Children: The members of the "Jack Pack" are each profoundly immature in their own way, especially Patrick, who acts like a five-year-old boy.
- A God Am I: Downplayed slightly during an argument between Bashir and Jack:Bashir: It's not our place to decide who lives and who dies! We're not gods!
Jack: Maybe not, but we're the next best thing.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Sarina has a crush on Jack, a hyperactive, anti-social Smug Super who threatens to snap her neck to get a minor annoyance taken care of. Averted with Lauren, who has zero interest in Jack (much to his frustration).
- Anything That Moves: Lauren will sleep with anyone, according to Jack. Except, of course, for Jack himself.Jack: You're not exactly known for being very discriminating!
Lauren: Turned you down, didn't I?
Jack: And you're still regretting it!
- Artistic License Statistics: If Bashir and the genetically engineered quartet really are super-geniuses, they should know right from the start that they can't make accurate predictions on the outcome of the Federation/Dominion war based on the limited data they have. But in order for the aesop to work, they need to be ignorant of this at first, so that they can all learn a lesson by the end of the episode. The most obvious is that they didn't even consider that the Dominion might be able to do the same math and alter their plans accordingly (which the audience knows they did several episodes earlier).
- Awesomeness by Analysis: The "Jack Pack" are able to utterly dismantle the Dominion's negotiation efforts simply by observation. Jack especially has a crowning moment by analyzing a recording of Weyoun: Because the Vorta language is heavily-inflectednote , much of the real meaning of Weyoun's remarks are lost when translated into English by the Universal Translator. Jack instead listens to him with the Translator disabled, and is able to deduce from his word tense and case alone that the Dominion is trying to pull a fast one in their negotiations. The "Pack's" analysis discovers that a seemingly inconsequential world the Dominion is requesting to trade for would actually enable them to produce Ketracel White in the Alpha Quadrant, depriving the Federation of one of its major advantages.note
- Beware the Superman: The Jack Pack make for a very compelling case for why the Federation government is afraid of genetic engineering. They're smart and helpful, but they almost cause the Federation to lose the war because their arrogance. However, this is explicitly because the ban meant they received badly done black-market treatments that affected their sanity and face open persecution out of fear.
- Blatant Lies: When Odo catches Weyoun and Damar at the rendezvous, they claim that they got lost. Odo doesn't bother to dignify that with a response.
- To "By Inferno's Light"—Dukat's and Damar's speeches end the same way:"This I vow with my life's blood...for my sons... for all our sons!"
- Also to "A Time To Stand" where the Dominion's plot to secure the Kabral system to obtain vital ingredients for Ketracel White means that the Dominion's own White supply is still affected by Sisko's bombing of a Ketracel White Depot during that episode.
- To "By Inferno's Light"—Dukat's and Damar's speeches end the same way:
- Continuity Nod: Their predictions state that the eventual Alpha Quadrant Revolution will begin on Earth... which is the same conclusion that Weyoun and Dukat came to back during the Occupation of Deep Space Nine, and also why they wanted to exterminate the population of the planet.
- Defiant to the End: Sisko's makes it very clear to Bashir that he will never surrender to Dominion, no matter what predictions the Jack Pack makes.
- Disability Superpower: Averted. They're brilliant analysts because the 'Jack Pack' are legitimately brilliant, not because they've been damaged by their genetic engineering.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: The Jack Pack predicts that a few generations after the Dominion's victory, a revolt will overthrow the Dominion and establish a stronger Federation to rule for millennia. Subverted in that an earlier episode had revealed the Dominion had predicted the same thing and was already planning drastic measures to prevent it.
- Easily Forgiven: The Jack Pack are allowed to return to the institute with a slap on the wrist, even though they assaulted Bashir (a Starfleet officer and their designated guardian during their stay on DS9) and attempted to give classified Starfleet intel to Damar and Weyoun, which was an act of attempted treason during wartime! Although to be fair, it's implied the Institute is little more than a comfortable prison anyways, so there's not much the Federation could do to them.
- Establishing Character Moment: Each of the Jack Pack gets one. Lauren's obvious sexual interest in Bashir from just his file photo, Patrick's child-like begging for Dr. Loews not to leave him, Sarina just standing around like she's not really part of what's going on, and Jack deliberately injuring Dr. Loews by handing her the PADD with broken glass on her palm, then offering a very obvious insincere apology.
- Everyone Has Standards: Lauren expresses attraction to every man who crosses her path (and is quick to assume that they're equally attracted to her), but she has zero interest in Jack.
- For a while, Bashir agreed with the Jack Pack that the Federation couldn't win the war. Even so, he still reluctantly accepted Starfleet's rejection of their idea of surrender and outright refused to give the Dominion information, even though it could've saved more lives. He may be a doctor, but he's also a Starfleet Officer.
- Faux Affably Evil: Jack. One moment congratulating Bashir for being like him, the next threatening to snap Sarina's neck if he doesn't get his way.
- Foreshadowing: The Jack Pack successfully predicts both the Romulan entry into the Federation Alliance and the anti-Dominion coup on Cardassia.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: The "Jack Pack" all had their intelligence increased, but each was left with severe psychological problems - Jack's hyper-aggressive and anti-social, Lauren's sex drive was amplified and her inhibitions are nearly non-existent, and Patrick has the emotional maturity of a 5-year-old. Sarina's was the worst, with her brain working at speeds her body couldn't catch up with, leaving her cut off from the world.
- Hopeless War: According to the Jack Pack's long-term projections of the Dominion War, the Federation has no chance of victory, with a prolonged conflict resulting in billions of casualties. As such, the only smart move would be to surrender and hope that future generations can rise up and overthrow the Dominion. Of course, Starfleet doesn't buy it for a second.
- Idiot Ball: Starfleet giving extremely sensitive classified information to a group of institutionalized people? What Could Possibly Go Wrong??
- I'm Standing Right Here: Worf makes a remark about genetic enhancement being a bad idea (he notes that allowing genetically enhanced children to compete in certain fields would just encourage more parents to have their children illegally enhanced) while sitting right across from Bashir. His attempt to apologize, describing Bashir as "an exception" doesn't help, and Worf regrets saying anything to begin with.
- Instant Expert: The Jack Pack become expert strategists overnight, at least according to them.Bashir: Since when did you learn to speak Dominionese?Jack Since this morning.
- It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: Sisko defending the Federation's No Transhumanism Allowed decision.
- It Will Never Catch On: Bashir and the augments predict that even an anti-Dominion coup on Cardassia won't be enough to turn the tide of the war.
- Know-Nothing Know-It-All: The group basically works like this. Yes, they're geniuses but all that knowledge fails to consider the unpredictable factors that make their "perfect" calculations futile. The best example is how they say a Federation surrender will lead to Earth leading a rebellion against the Dominion generations later...unaware the Founders have done the exact same calculations and are planning on wiping out Earth first.
- Lady in Red: Lauren. She's got the dress, the hair, the makeup, the attitude, and is quick to flirt with any guy who crosses her path.
- Large Ham: Jack. Good grief, Jack. Mix Genki Guy, Motormouth and No Indoor Voice, shake and enjoy the raw pork.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In what can only be described as tongue-in-cheek in-universe Genre Savvy, The Jack Pack accurately analyze Damar's personality and motivations by likening him and everyone in the Dominion to Character Types (albeit transplanting them as Fantasy characters). They even refer to events the viewer has recently seen in prior episodes as "Not a bad story. Epic, really."Bashir: Did any of you know who Damar was before today?
Jack: No, no, no, but it's obvious who he is. The Pretender who killed the king and seized the throne.
Lauren: Not the king. He's still alive.
Patrick: The queen, maybe, or a princess.
Bashir: Yes, Ziyal. That's Gul Dukat's daughter.
Jack: And now the Pretender finds himself in league with a, a Dark Knight that he can't control.
Jack: It's not a bad story. Epic, really.
- The Main Characters Do Everything:
- Even Damar wonders aloud why he and Weyoun are meeting informants in person.Damar: This is ridiculous. Sneaking into a storage bay for a secret meeting. I'm not some agent of the Obsidian Order, I'm the leader of the Cardassian Empire.
Weyoun: Don't let it go to your head. You serve only at the Dominion's pleasure. Besides, I think it's exciting.
- The Federation orders Sisko to conduct the Dominion peace negotiations alone, instead of sending an admiral like Ross or a team of diplomats.
- Even Damar wonders aloud why he and Weyoun are meeting informants in person.
- My God, What Have I Done?: The man himself doesn't let it show, but Jack Pack's analysis of Damar includes the theory that he's wracked with guilt over Ziyal's death.
- Neck Snap: An aggravated Jack threatens to break Sarina's neck when bothered by a noise only the Augments can hear.
- Parental Substitute: Dr. Loews acts like a surrogate mother to the Jack Pack, being comforting to the frightened Patrick and stern to the demented Jack.
- Prescience by Analysis: What the Jack Pack pride themselves on. Subverted, however, as Jack fails to predict that Sarina would derail his plan to give secret information to the Dominion.
- Properly Paranoid: When Jack decides to give classified information to the Dominion to shorten the war, Bashir notes that his attitude, looking down on normal people and making galaxy-altering decisions out of arrogant assumption is exactly the reason laws were passed against genetic engineering.
- Puppet King: Although he's now the head of the Cardassian Union, Damar is clearly at Weyoun's mercy; the peace talks he initiates were dictated by the Dominion. After the debacle of Dukat's leadership cost them victory in the war, Weyoun is clearly much less willing to give Damar any such leeway. He doesn't even humor Damar the way he did Dukat.Damar: I'm the head of the Cardassian Empire.
Weyoun: Don't let it go to your head. You serve at the Dominion's pleasure.
- Sherlock Scan: The group immediately and accurately details Damar's back-story after a single viewing of an unrelated speech he gives.
- Smug Super:
- Jack, who maintains that he and the others were locked up for being "too smart".
- Bashir briefly becomes this when trying to convince Sisko and O'Brien that the Federation should surrender to the Dominion based on nothing but the Jack Pack's calculations, acting condescending to them not accepting the Augments' greater intellect.
- Someone's Touching My Butt: When Julian accepts Lauren's invitation to dance, she grabs his ass as they come together. Julian moves it to his shoulder.
- Spanner in the Works: Sarina manages to ruin Jack's entire plan, which Bashir brings up to make the point that all the analyses in the world can't account for the unpredictable.
- Spotting the Thread: Patrick notices that Damar and Weyoun avoided looking at the Kabrel system during the recording of the peace summit, letting the rest of the Jack Pack (notably Sarina) deduce the real reason behind the Dominion's peace offer.
- Too Clever by Half: The main thrust of the episode. Basically, they forget that other people are also allowed to analyze things and make their own moves. The most immediate result is that their attempt to turn over intelligence is instantly discovered and prevented. The one that they never found about (but we the audience learned a few episodes prior) is that the Dominion also predicted the Earth-based rebellion the Jack Pack think is the only hope and plan to sterilize the planet to prevent that very thing. They also don't know (and neither does anybody else for at least another year) about the Changeling virus that Section 31 created, which will play a surprising role in the outcome of the war.
- Translation Convention: Inverted—Jack turns off the translator and uncovers a key point in Weyoun's proposal that got lost in translation.
- Verbal Tic: Jack has one, hmm hmm hmm.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Jack Pack's plan to give classified information directly to Damar and Weyoun is based on a desire to shorten the war and minimize the number of deaths because of it.
- What the Hell, Hero?/"The Reason You Suck" Speech: O'Brien gives Julian one for advocating surrender and not accepting any other course of action. It's relatively mild as far as the trope goes, but still jarring.O'Brien: The way you're acting, you think that nobody with half a brain could possibly disagree with you.
Bashir: Frankly, I don't see how anyone can.
O'Brien: Well, I can see two possibilities: either I'm even more feeble-minded than you ever realized, or you're not as smart as you think you are.
- Whole Plot Reference: The episode was inspired by the use of psychohistory in Isaac Asimov's Foundation series.
- Ira Steven Behr has stated that one of the influences on the Dominion's development during Season Two was the Foundation Trilogy. So in a sense, this episode' arguably DS9 coming full circle with the basic storyline that inspired its Big Bad in the first place.
- You Are in Command Now: After Dukat's breakdown and capture, Damar has taken his place as head of the Cardassian Union. The Jack Pack notes Damar's discomfort with how he got the job, and Weyoun makes it clear that Damar has a lot less autonomy in the role than Dukat did.
- You Can't Fight Fate: The Jack Pack firmly believes that The Federation is fighting a Hopeless War and that no matter what happens, the Dominion will win. However, after Sarina surprises them all by turning them in, Bashir decides that our heroes can still Screw Destiny.