For the Cause (****)
This is one of the better Sisko-centric episodes in the show, possibly the best so far. He has to balance his personal feelings, his duty, his family, and his sense of justice. And he fails. His personal dilemma distracts him from the real plot that was right in front of him, the Maquis steal some expensive equipment that the Cardassians desperately need and all Sisko gets in return is a freighter-captain that was smuggling medical supplies, not to mention the anguish of arresting his own girlfriend. Looking back on this turn of events, that will be an interesting conversation that Kassidy will one day have with her child. "Did I ever tell you about the time that your father arrested me and sent me to a penal colony for a year?"
Then there's the matter of Eddington's speech. Yes, comparing the Federation to the Borg does go too far, seeking peaceful coexistence with alien races to further scientific and cultural advancement isn't nearly as villainous a plot as forcibly transforming people into robot zombies. But I am interested in Eddington's statement that worlds aren't allowed to leave the Federation, because I've seen similar sentiments among people on this site in regards to states seceding from the US. The argument is that since the US is a liberal democracy, seeking to leave it for whatever reasons would be morally unconscionable. I don't buy that argument at all, so it would have been interesting if DS9 had investigated it further, but that never happened, sadly.
Meanwhile, Garak and Ziyal promise not to kill one another. I was never comfortable with the Garak/Ziyal thing, she's a teenage girl and he's an unrepentant murderer, but he's also middle-aged and that's icky. I know that it was left vague, and there wasn't much of an indication that Garak reciprocated whatever feelings Ziyal had for him, but it was still a bit weird. Still, I can't help but look back at this plot knowing that their friendship will end in the infirmary, and that adds an interesting layer to the story.