One request - I realize that I'm an anomaly, I don't want to impede your discussions - and I'd rather risk spoiling what happens than not continuing to read the reviews... but I had no idea that the cardassians side with the dominion until I read it here... maybe a shout out to avert my gaze next time something like that comes up?
I do try and avoid specific spoilers about future events and refer to them in general terms because I know that Shatnertage
reads this thread and don't want to give away too much for his mostly first-viewing. It sucks that you were spoiled about the Cardassia thing though, that was probably my favourite twist in the show because it was unexpected but made a lot of sense when you thought about it.
The Jem'Hadar (****½)
ERIS: You have no idea what's begun here.
I don't think that anyone watching the show when this episode first aired understood just how true that statement was. Hell, I don't even think the writers knew. The Dominion caused interstellar wars involving five Alpha Quadrant powers, they caused the near-destruction of one of those powers, friends became foes and foes became friends, attacks were launched on Earth and other important Federation worlds, and there was a re-examination of the principles that the Federation was founded on. Star Trek had tried to introduce new villains in the past, from the successful introduction of the Borg to the failed introduction of the Ferengi, but none of them had the same long-term impact of the Dominion. The Borg may be more famous, but the Dominion managed to provide more of a sustained threat than the Borg ever did.
How well does this episode work as an introduction for the Dominion? I honestly can't say because I missed it when it first aired and by the time I saw it I already knew a whole bunch about the Dominion. But I like the basic concept of it, I like that a comical family camping trip turns into one of the biggest interstellar incidents of the age. I liked the mixture of comic elements with serious drama, such as Jake and Nog trying to fly a runabout while larger events are unfolding around them. The episode also has it's thoughtful moments, such as Quark's little speech about the barbarity of humans. It's a fun adventure with established characters that play off of one another's traits. There is that anachronism about the Vorta's telekinetic powers, but I suppose it's not out of the question that the Dominion were using smoke and mirrors to make themselves seem more impressive and confuse their new enemy.
On it's own, the episode might be in the 7 or 8 out of 10 range, but that score is inflated by how the episode made me feel. I've been rewatching DS9 for over two months now and I've been enjoying it for the most part, but this episode made me realise that a number of elements have been missing all along. I'm not just talking about the Dominion but other things such as the Defiant, and even small things such as DS9's wardroom. I know that those two things weren't in this episode, but they'll be showing up soon and that makes me feel good. This episode isn't just a finale for the second season, this is a finale for the first stage of DS9, the pre-Dominion era. I think it does very well in that regard.