This has been an interesting discussion. Time to prematurely end it.
Heart of Stone (***½)
Back in the dark days of the 1990s, it would often takes months, and in DS9's case over a year, for new episodes of American TV shows to make their way across the Atlantic, presumably because they were transported by rowboats. To counter this, hardcore fans would get their friends or relatives in the New World to record episodes onto VHS tapes and send them over on a new invention called an "aeroplane" so that the latency was closer to weeks and not years. This resulted in Star Trek fanclubs springing up where you could pay money to sit in a room with other nerds and watch new episodes of Trek. I was a member of such a club for a time, and it was while attending this club that I became a Niner. Looking back on it now I realise that this whole endeavour was probably illegal, but I feel surprisingly little compassion for the media companies that let their love of rowboat transportation get in the way of providing a quality and timely service.
Why am I telling you this story? Because this was the first episode of DS9 I saw at that club, and I kinda wanted it to end so that I could see that awesome-sounding new show called Voyager. I saw this episode before I saw The Search
, so I was fairly surprised by the reveal that Kira was a shapeshifter as I didn't know Odo had found his people. Thinking back, I'm actually fairly surprised that I wasn't more surprised.
The a-plot here is okay, it follows the principle that if you put two people in a room and have them talk for an hour then something interesting might happen. It's a bit undermined by the fact that Kira isn't really Kira, but all the important character stuff was coming from Odo anyway so it's not such a big deal. This episode tells us that Odo is mellowing out, he's finding time for activities outside his work and he's growing closer to the rest of the cast. It suffers a bit from that fact that we're being told these things and not shown them, I for one would enjoy seeing Odo and O'Brien rafting together while singing Louie Louie, but I guess I'll have to settle for the mental image of it. There is the big scene where Odo admits his feelings for Kira for the first time, but that's victim to a bit of a reset button by the end of the episode.
The better part of the episode is the b-plot where Nog tries to join Starfleet. What could have been a side-plot played for laughs ends up being the turning point in one of the most impressive character arcs in the show, and it contains one of the best emotional scenes too. Having Jake decide not to join Starfleet was a great move, but having Nog decide to do it instead is a masterstroke. I especially love Nog's line where he tells Sisko that he wont regret this decision as it reminds me of Nog's final scene in the show.