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Recap / Star Trek: Deep Space Nine S07E22 "Tacking into the Wind"

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Thus ends the reign of Chancellor Gowron.

Gowron's foolishly aggressive strategy with the Klingon fleet has proven disastrous, and Sisko is irate. Worf explains that Gowron is deliberately setting Martok up to lose battles to eliminate him as a political rival, putting the whole Alpha Quadrant at risk. Something needs to change, so Worf attempts to convince Martok to challenge Gowron for the chancellorship, but Martok is too loyal a soldier. During lunch, Ezri listens to Worf's predicament and says that Klingon society as a whole is dying, having become so entrenched in honor that it accepts corrupt leaders. Worf takes her words to heart. During Gowron's next war meeting, in which he lays out another ludicrous strategy, Worf challenges Gowron himself. They fight with bat'leths, and Worf kills Gowron. Martok proclaims Worf chancellor of the Klingon Empire, but Worf immediate cedes his authority to Martok, who reluctantly accepts.

Bashir is burning the midnight oil, still trying to discover a cure for Odo's morphogenic virus. O'Brien suggests that he tell Sisko about his suspicions over Section 31's involvement, but Bashir refuses, saying that would only make Section 31 harder to beat. Bashir keeps slaving away to no result. O'Brien visits again and notes that even if Bashir did discover a cure, a Section 31 agent would probably just come and destroy his work. And if that's the case, why not simply claim he found a cure and provoke Section 31 to make their move? That way, they could capture the agent and find out what he knows. Bashir, ever the one for espionage, likes that plan.

The Cardassian insurrection is progressing under Kira's leadership. The Dominion is desperate to kill it in the crib and so institutes harsh new crackdowns on Cardassia Prime. But the leadership is fraying at the seams. Kira's feud with Gul Rusot graduates to physical blows, and Odo has been hiding his deteriorating condition from Kira. Still, they hatch a plan to steal a Jem'Hadar ship equipped with a Breen energy-dampening weapon so that Starfleet can study it. Along the way, Damar finds out that his family has been assassinated. As he laments the pointless cruelty of the Dominion, Kira notes that it sounds awfully familiar to the Cardassian occupation of Bajor, which Damar seems to take to heart.

Using Kira as a Trojan Prisoner, they bluff their way aboard a Jem'Hadar ship at a repair station and reach the bridge. There, Odo impersonates the Female Changeling to borrow a Jem'Hadar blaster for inspection and then hands it to Garak, who blasts everyone dead. It's time to go, but the Breen will take another half an hour to finish installing the weapon. Against Rusot's wishes, Kira insists on waiting and impersonates the dead Vorta to maintain their cover. Odo loses his ability to hide his symptoms, and Kira reveals to him that she's known all along. Eventually, Rusot snaps and threatens to kill Kira, leading to a Mexican Standoff between him, Garak and Damar. Damar must make a choice between Kira and Rusot, and he chooses Kira, gunning down his own friend for the sake of the resistance. The Breen finish their installation, and the resistance members head off in the captured Jem'Hadar vessel.


Tropes in this episode:

  • Abdicate the Throne: By right, Worf becomes Chancellor when he kills Gowron, only to immediately cede leadership to Martok because Martok will be a better leader.
  • Armor-Piercing Question:
    • After Damar gets the news that his family has been killed by the Dominion:
      Damar: To kill her and my son... the casual brutality of it... the waste of life. What kind of state tolerates the murder of innocent women and children? What kind of people give those orders?
      Kira: Yeah, Damar, what kind of people give those orders?
    • When Worf asks for advice on how to handle Gowron, Ezri notes the corruption plaguing the Klingon Empire. She asks Worf who the last chancellor he actually respected was (or if there even has been one), but the real piercing question is:
      Ezri: Worf, you are the most honorable and decent man I have ever met, and if you're willing to tolerate men like Gowron, then what hope is there for the Empire?
  • Body Horror: Due to shapeshifting overload and the virus, Odo's body begins to gruesomely decay.
  • Book Ends: Worf was responsible for elevating Gowron to Chancellor, and he's also responsible for Gowron's downfall.
    • Before kicking off the duel with Gowron, Worf removes his Starfleet Communicator just as he did before dueling Duras. Like Duras, Gowron also derisively calls Worf's Starfleet uniform a "child's uniform".
    • On a Meta level, Ronald D. Moore was the one who kicked off the Worf/Klingon Politics arc over on TNG (as the writer of "Sins") and is the one to close it out here a decade later.
  • Brutal Honesty:
    • Ezri's opinion on the Klingon Empire, once she's convinced to give it? It's dying, and it deserves to die.
      Ezri: I think that the situation with Gowron is a symptom of a bigger problem. The Klingon Empire is dying. And I think it deserves to die. […] I see a society that is in deep denial about itself. We're talking about a warrior culture that prides itself on maintaining centuries old traditions of honor and integrity, but in reality it's willing to accept corruption at the highest levels.
      Worf: You are overstating your case.
      Ezri: Am I? Who was the last leader of the High Council that you respected? Has there even been one? And how many times have you had to cover up the crimes of Klingon leaders because you were told it was for the good of the Empire? I know this sounds harsh, but the truth is, you have been willing to accept a government that you know is corrupt. Gowron's just the latest example. Worf, you are the most honorable and decent man I've ever met, and if you're willing to tolerate men like Gowron, then what hope is there for the Empire?
    • Kira also gets a moment when she shocks Damar with a question that highlights the depravity of the Cardassian Occupation of Bajor after the latter's family is killed.
  • Character Development:
    • Both Kira and Damar get this during this episode. Damar is forced to reconcile the pain he feels from the death of his family with the brutal behavior he and his people perpetrated on Bajor. Kira is also obviously affected by watching someone she personally hates suffer the same pain she and her own people experienced. She can't help but call his attention to it, but she instantly regrets the action as unproductive.
    • Worf also gets to show how far he's come since "Redemption, Part II". Back in late TNG, he was the one who advocated against killing a sitting Chancellor in the middle of wartime and that it was dishonorable. Now, almost a decade later in-universe, he's come to understand that the letter of honor is less important than the spirit.
  • Continuity Nod: Rusot falsely assumes that Garak wouldn't shoot a fellow Cardassian to save a Bajoran, and Garak's reply is "How little you understand me." Apparently, Rusot doesn't know that four-and-a-half seasons ago, Garak did shoot a fellow Cardassian to save Kira.
  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character: Even this late in the series, Sisko gets one more defining moment to distinguish him from Picard (and especially in the context of the cross-series Klingon Politics story arc). In "Reunion", Picard was not happy with Worf for killing Duras (and that Worf justified his actions within the boundaries of Klingon law and tradition). Here, 8 years later in-universe (and the real world), Sisko outright orders Worf to do whatever it takes to stop Gowron — and knowing full well there's only one way this ends with the Klingons.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: Kira's Ironic Echo response stuns Damar so badly that she thinks about apologizing, until Garak talks her out of it, saying Damar's romanticized view of the old Cardassia desperately needed a reality check.
    Kira: Oh, that was stupid.
    Garak: Not at all. Damar has a certain romanticism about the past. He could use a dose of cold water.
    Kira: I could have picked a better time.
    Garak: If he's the man to lead a new Cardassia, if he's the man we hope him to be, then the pain of this news made him more receptive to what you said, not less.
  • Death Equals Redemption: Despite his dishonorable deeds, Worf gives Gowron the Klingon death roar, letting Sto-Vo-Kor know that Gowron's spirit shall be arriving there, having died honorably in combat.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: For the Klingon Empire. Ezri Dax points out to Worf that time and again, the Klingon Empire has never lived up to Worf's expectation, always corrupt and full of power-hungry men that Worf never fully trusted. Yet Worf in the end still believes his people can be the honorable and proud people by killing the power-mad Gowron and putting the much more trusted General Martok as leader of the council.
  • Defiant to the End: With his last breath, Gowron claims that Worf still wouldn't win, implying either this trope or a refusal to accept reality.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Odo, despite the severity of his condition, doesn't want pity from anyone, not even Kira and certainly not Garak.
  • Due to the Dead: After Worf kills Gowron, he gives the traditional Klingon death cry. No matter what issues Worf had with Gowron, at least he gave him the dignity of a warrior's sendoff. Even Duras didn't get that when Worf gutted him 8 years earlier.
  • Duel to the Death: Following Klingon tradition, Worf challenges Gowron to a duel to the death when claiming that Gowron has no honor and is unfit to be a leader. Martok tries to persuade Worf to back down, but his mind is made up.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Kira feels that alluding to the occupation while Damar was grieving was a step too far, but Garak feels that it was something that Damar needed to hear.
  • Evil Is Petty: Part of the reason Gowron wants to get rid of Martok is jealousy, because Martok's victories in the war have made him a hero to the Klingon people, and a threat to Gowron's position. Hence, a series of impossible missions meant to kill or humiliate the General.
  • False Flag Operation: Bashir and O'Brien hatch a plan to release a false report about discovering a cure to the Changeling virus in order to lure a Section 31 agent with knowledge of the real cure onto the station.
  • Family Extermination: The Dominion execute all of the members of Damar's family because of his leading the Cardassian Rebellion.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Sisko telling Worf to do whatever it takes to stop Gowron. Especially since Sisko knows what the Klingon method is...
  • Grand Finale: Worf's subplot concludes the Klingon Politics Story Arc that began a decade earlier in TNG's "Sins of the Father".
  • Heel Realization:
    • Kira's Armor-Piercing Question is what finally makes Damar realize the Occupation of Bajor was in fact genocide, and not something to be done again.
    • After talking with Ezri, Worf realizes that he has been abetting and supporting a corrupt government by not taking action against Gowron.
  • The Heist: The resistance's plan to hijack a Jem'Hadar fighter and steal the new Breen weapon being installed aboard it.
  • Heroic BSoD: Damar is in shock at the Dominion's murder of his wife and son, and Kira's Armor-Piercing Question further shakes him, but in the end, he pulls through and becomes a better man.
  • Honorable Warrior's Death: Even though Gowron was thoroughly corrupt and power hungry, he still manages to have one of these as he was killed in combat against Worf, who then performs the death ritual for the deceased Chancellor.
  • Human Shield: The Female Changeling orders that Cardassian civilians be placed in and around Dominion facilities in order to deter Damar from killing his own people.
  • I Will Show You X!: When Rusot provokes Kira into attacking him, he casually states that he's just struck a nerve. Kira shows him what "striking a nerve" is by tightening her headlock on him.
  • Improperly Paranoid:
    • Gowron is convinced that Martok will try to kill him and seize power, something that a devoted soldier like Martok would never do.
    • Rusot apparently believes that Kira is trying to get Cardassians killed under the guise of fighting the Dominion. Kira refuses to dignify the accusation with a response.
  • Inherent in the System: Ezri explains to Worf that the corruption Gowron embodies has existed in the Klingon Empire for a long time, and Worf has merely tolerated it until now.
  • Insane Admiral: Gowron, who's willing to attack the headquarters of an entire Cardassian Order (which have an average of 500,000 troops) with only a dozen ships. And it's all to discredit Martok!
  • Instant Death Stab: When Gowron is stabbed in the abdomen by Worf. Gowron lives long enough to utter a single sentence, then falls back dead. This is in spite of the fact that Klingons have been established to have evolved redundant biological systems and extra internal organs that supposedly help them survive such superficial injuries. Though since Worf's a Klingon, it's entirely plausible that he knew where to inflict an injury which would be fatal nonetheless.
  • Irony:
    • Worf trying to get Martok to challenge Gowron in wartime, which is the very thing Worf was trying to stop when Gowron ascended during the Klingon Civil War in "Redemption".
    • Gowron's fears that Martok's popularity would make him a threat to his reign, thus leading to Gowron forcing Martok to suffer humiliating defeats in the hopes of discrediting him (if not get him killed), only for Worf to snap back, challenge him, kill him, then pass leadership of the Klingon Empire to Martok
    • Damar asking why the Dominion would execute his family when his Cardassian Military did the exact same thing to millions of Bajorans during the Occupation.
  • It Is Beyond Saving:
    • Ezri tells Worf that with all the corruption in the Klingon Empire, it may be best to simply let it die off.
    • Kira's Armor-Piercing Question seems to have brought Damar to the same conclusion about the old, xenophobic Cardassia. After killing Rusot, Damar somberly notes that the glory days his friend wanted to reclaim are dead, and a new Cardassia will have to be built in their place.
  • Killed Off for Real: Gowron, ending a nearly-decade long tenure for Robert O'Reilly that had begun with "Reunion" over on Next Generation.
    • To a lesser extent, Rusot (having been a recurring character during the Final Chapter).
  • Klingon Promotion: Worf is forced to resort to this to save the war effort. Subverted when he refuses the cloak and passes it to Martok, who could better lead the empire.
  • Mexican Standoff: Rusot has a phaser pointed at Kira and urges Damar to join him, while Garak has one pointed at Rusot. Resolved when Damar shoots Rusot himself.
  • The Millstone: Gul Rusot, Damar's friend and right hand man in the resistance. He constantly undermines Kira's efforts and suggests military tactics that are at odds with a small resistance force. When their plan to steal the Breen weapon encounters problems, he pulls a Face–Heel Turn and tries to murder Kira and steal the weapon for himself. Damar, now realising the toxicity of Rusot's way of thinking (and that of the old Cardassia), kills his friend and resolves to do better.
    Damar: He was my friend, but his Cardassia's dead, and it won't be coming back.
  • Misery Builds Character: The shocking loss of his wife and son opens Damar up to recognising the flaws and atrocities of the old Cardassia; in the end, he admits that the old, warmongering days of Cardassia are dead and shouldn't be brought back.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: Martok and Worf both struggle with this dilemma; they're well aware that Gowron is a liability to the war effort, but Martok refuses to speak up out of loyalty to the Empire. Worf initially takes the same view, but a few hard truths from Ezri convince him to live up to the second part of the trope-naming quote: "If right, to be kept right; if wrong, to be set right".
  • Never My Fault: Gowron places the blame for a failed raid entirely on Martok, even though he personally ordered it despite Sisko and Martok's objections.
  • New Era Speech: After Worf kills Gowron and thus becomes Chancellor.
    Worf: 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.
    Martok: Worf, I do not seek the leadership.
    Worf: Kahless said, "Great men do not seek power... they have power thrust upon them."
    (Worf hands the Chancellor's robes to Martok)
    Worf: Hail Martok, leader of the Empire! Leader of destiny.
  • Nostalgia Filter: Invoked and discussed.
    • After Kira's Armor-Piercing Question to Damar, she feels she really shot her mouth off. Garak disagrees—noting that Damar has a romantic view of the old Cardassian empire and could use a splash of cold water.
      • This is also directly contrasted with Rusot, who's ultimately too entrenched in the old early DS9 Cardassian mindset. He can't accept that Cardassia's glory days are behind it, or that said glory days are what ultimately landed the Union in this catastrophe. He can't accept that they need the help of a non-Cardassian (a Bajoran national no less) to free their homeland and people from the Dominion. Rusot's inflexibility ultimately dooms him once he forces Damar's hand.
    • Ezri also tells Worf that she has a more "dispassionate" view of the Klingon Empire than Jadzia or Curzon Dax did and is therefore more willing to criticize its flaws.
  • Paranoia Gambit: O'Brian asks Bashir if they found the cure and Section 31 found out about it, "...what do you think they'd do?" and then devise a plan based on their expectations.
  • Playing Possum: When Worf is chucked through the glass tactical display, he rolls slightly as if hurt. Gowron raises his bat'leth for the kill, and Worf suddenly springs forward to stab him in the gut.
  • Rags to Royalty: The first Klingon emperor, Kahless, was an example of this, as Worf points out to Martok when the latter argues that a common-born man like himself would never be accepted as chancellor. Later, Martok himself does become chancellor, making him a semi-example.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Ezri's speech to Worf is one big denouncement of the Klingon Empire and how it's become bogged down by corruption and selfish, power-hungry leaders.
    • Once Worf takes matters into his own hands, he takes Gowron to task for his dishonorable actions.
      Worf: You rule without wisdom and without honor. The warriors that are gathered here will not say this to you, but I will. You are squandering our ships and our lives in a petty act of vengeance!
      Gowron: I should have known better than to trust you again. If you were a true Klingon, I would kill you where you stand! Fortunately for you, that child's uniform shields you from your rightful fate.
      Worf: [places his Starfleet com badge on the table] 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: There can be only one answer to that!
  • Removing the Earpiece: Worf takes his Starfleet badge off during his The Reason You Suck speech to Gowron, to emphasize that he's expressing his own thoughts towards him rather than Starfleet talking points.
  • Reluctant Ruler: Martok, courtesy of Worf.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Damar killing Rusot signifies the death of his own Nostalgia Filter and his newfound refusal to allow Cardassia to return to the mindset that produced such crimes and failings as the Bajoran occupation and the Dominion alliance.
  • Secretly Dying: Zig-Zagged with Odo. Kira and Garak already know that he's infected with the changeling virus, but he's been hiding its severity. Despite this, Kira knows how bad it is and simply feigns ignorance to allow Odo to preserve his dignity. At least, until his condition really goes to hell.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Gowron's attempt to remove Martok as a potential threat to his position as Chancellor ends up getting Gowron killed and Martok installed as the new Chancellor.
  • Short-Lived Leadership: Worf's tenure as Chancellor of the Klingon High Council lasts roughly three minutes from his killing of Gowron to his first, and last, official act: abdicating in favor of his adopted kinsman, Martok.
  • Shout-Out To Shakespeare: Worf's Kahless quote ("Great men do not seek power... they have power thrust upon them") paraphrases a quote from the letter Malvolio reads in Twelfth Night.
  • Soft Glass: During his fight with Gowron, Worf gets thrown through a glass tactical display.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Damar shouldn't have been surprised that a dictatorial regime that violently suppresses opposition like the Dominion would execute his wife and son. Kira drives this point home by essentially pointing out that the Cardassians did the same thing to the Bajorans.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Thot Pran for Thot Gor.
  • Trojan Prisoner: Kira is brought aboard the Jem'Hadar ship as a Federation prisoner of war, being escorted by three Cardassian soldiers (Garak, Damar, and Rusot).
  • The Unfettered: When Worf explains the Klingon situation to him, Sisko tells him to resolve it any way he can.
    Sisko: Do whatever it takes, Mister Worf. Those Klingon ships out there are the only thing between us and the Breen. Gowron is risking the safety of the entire Alpha Quadrant, and he has to stop.
  • Undying Loyalty: Martok unfailingly follows Gowron's orders, even after Worf makes him see what is going on.
    "I will fight any battle. Anywhere. For the empire."
  • Uriah Gambit: Gowron's way of dealing with Martok. Fails the first time, and Worf keeps a second attempt from happening.
  • Villainous Valor: Gowron has always talked a good fight, but once again he demonstrates that he's not afraid of Worf, despite how close Worf came to killing him last time. In fact, this time it's his turn to shatter Worf's bat'leth, and he very nearly wins.
  • Wall of Weapons: Evidently Klingons find it necessary to install a bat'leth wall even in conference rooms that don't belong to them, just in case a Klingon Promotion situation happens.
  • We Can Rule Together: Rusot wants to help Damar restore the old Cardassian Union. Damar responds by shooting him, saying that the old Cardassia's dead.
  • Wham Episode: Worf kills Gowron, Martok takes over leadership of the Klingon Empire, Damar's commitment to creating a better Cardassia becomes unquestionable.
  • Wrecked Weapon: Worf's bat'leth is shattered during the duel, but he still uses the pieces to defend himself and fatally stab Gowron.
  • You Have Failed Me: The Female Changeling says that, if the Vorta cloning facilities were operational, she would eliminate Weyoun 8 for failing to keep Damar under their control.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: This is pretty much Sisko's reaction when Worf briefs him on Gowron's actions and that the Chancellor is actually playing politics while the fate of the Alpha Quadrant hangs in the balance.
  • You Wouldn't Shoot Me: Rusot to Garak:
    Rusot: You're still a Cardassian, Garak. You're not going to kill one of your own people for a Bajoran woman.
    Garak: How little you understand me.

 
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Damar questions what kind of people would order the death of innocent women and children, only for Kira to remind him that people like him committed those exact atrocities on her home planet.

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