The Maquis, Part 1 (****)
Over the last few weeks I've seen stories about imaginary women, shape-shifting monsters, a racquet-ball game, a replicant assassin, and an entire micro-universe, and in that time nobody thought to mention a new treaty between the Federation and the Cardassians, Federation colonists choosing to remain in Cardassian space, or the newly-established demilitarised zone. That's pretty odd for a show set along the border of Cardassian space. I know the reason why none of this stuff was shown on DS9, it's because it was all handled on TNG in an episode that was mainly about Wesley (which meant that a good 60% of the audience turned it off and hid behind the couch). I'm not opposed to having the two shows containing interlinked story arcs, but there should have at least have been some acknowledgement on DS9 that these events were happening before using them as the foundation of a universe-altering event-episode. The result of not doing so is that this episode feels rushed and many early scenes are heavy on exposition.
That being said, thank the gods that the show has finally returned to something with a little weight to it and where the consequences wont be forgotten about the following week. The Maquis are one of those ambiguous elements of DS9 where you don't know whether you should support them or vilify them. It was a terrible thing that the Federation did, signing away their homes to a brutal oppressor, but they did do it with the intention of creating a lasting peace with the Cardassians in the hope of saving lives in the long run. Both sides have a point, but our instinct is to side with Starfleet because they've always been portrayed as the "good guys", and that's Sisko's instinct too, so much so that he goes out of his way to ignore Kira when she dares to question Federation policy.
Another great ambiguous element of DS9 is Dukat, and this is the first episode where he's shown to be on the same side as the heroes. Even then, I can't be sure that he really is on the Federation's side and it seems likely that he just wants to pin the blame for the violence on the Federation colonists and not on the Cardassian government, which is probably the real reason why he's so annoyed by signs of Cardassian aggression as that somewhat legitimises the actions of the Maquis. It is great to watch Sisko and Dukat together, especially the way that Dukat enjoys pressing Sisko's buttons while claiming to act like a friend. You can see why they later decide to do almost an entire episode with these two sitting in a cave together.