Broken Link (***)
This is an unusual season-ender for DS9. The last two seasons ended with a threat of the outbreak of war, season 5 will end with an actual outbreak of war, but in this episode the threat of war with the Klingons is in the background while Odo's story takes centre-stage. It's an interesting deviation from what's expected, a quieter, more reflective type of event episode. It's also a good follow-up to the events of The Adversary
, Odo gets judged for his actions in that episode, and we also get a confirmation of the threat that ended the third season. The Changelings are everywhere, they've reached the highest levels of the Klingon government, they've been screwing with the Alpha Quadrant powers for a whole year and nobody suspected it. This is a great way to tie the Klingon conflict into the larger Dominion threat, so I must compliment the writers on this stroke.
But I must also chastise them, because they completely forgot that Garak was sent to prison in this episode. I love Garak's actions here, once he is confronted with a serious threat against his people he is willing to do whatever it takes to save them, even if that means sacrificing himself and committing genocide. This is what's so great about Garak, he presents himself as an intelligent, amiable guy, you begin to let your guard down around him, then he does something like this, reminding us that he's a ruthless lone agent. He may be on the side of the main characters most of the time, but he'd kill them all if he thought it was in Cardassia's interest. Sadly, the lack of consequences from this act cost the episode a whole star.
As a side note, it's chilling to hear the female Changeling threaten the entire Cardassian race as doomed considering what happens in the finale. When I first saw WYLB
I thought her genocidal order was just a cheap move to make her appear more villainous, but seeing this scene again informed her motivation. She was willing to work with the Cardassians when she thought they'd be useful, but the moment they betrayed her her fury about the Omarion Nebula incident came back and she attempted to make good on her threat.
Mostly, this episode is an Odo story, and it brings him to some strange new places. There's the obvious change in that he has been transformed into a solid, and there's the more emotional change about having been rejected by his people. He has always been an outsider, but when he met his people he was the one that rejected them, which made it easier for him to live with. So Odo is now in an interesting new phase of his life, a good place to leave the character heading into season 5.