It's interesting, but I did seem to rate B5S4 higher than most people, so that might explain it. I actually rated DS9S5 with more 9s and 10s than B5S4
, and B5S4 only had one episodes rated as 4 with none below that. It really was just Let He Who Is Without Sin...
and Ferengi Love Songs
that held DS9S5 back, but overall I think they're both comparably strong seasons.
A Time to Stand (****½)
I think it was Jammer who said in his review of this episode that A Time to Stand
is like TNG's Yesterday's Enterprise
, except all of this is really happening to the characters and there's no easy reset button. That's part of the reason why this episode works so well, it's almost exciting to see these characters so downbeat with victory far off on the horizon, it's an unusual direction for Trek to go down. The episode starts with a fantastic six-minute teaser that has the characters depressingly contemplating their deaths and the destruction of their civilisation, and it gets Sisko so upset that he shatters a sheet of transparent aluminium. It's a powerful sequence that sets a tone for this arc. If Star Trek is a franchise about what it means to be human, then DS9 is finally going to address what it means to be human when our backs are against the wall, and that's the signal of intent that we get from this episode.
The main plot of this episode isn't anything special, the high score is all about the tone of the episode and how the characters react to the current situation. In truth, telling a smaller story in this episode helps to reinforce that this is the new normal and that the show's not in a hurry to get Sisko and co back to the station. Instead of Sisko pleading for resources to take the station back, he and his crew go where they're told, and in this case that means using a captured Dominion ship to blow up a ketracel-white storage facility real good. They fly the ship right-side up, they shoot at a centaur, then they blow themselves up. Good stuff.
But the real treat of this episode is all the delicious scenes between Dukat and Weyoun as the tensions between Cardassia and the Dominion begin to show. Dukat is such an egotistical bastard that watching him get cut down by a smarmy little worm like Weyoun is delightful, but it's also fascinating to watch the wheels of Dukat's mind turn as he rewrites the present in his own mind to better suit his image of himself. It's a pity that Dukat goes whacko at the end of this arc, I would have loved to have seen him and Weyoun tear each other apart as the proverbial hits the fan. But I guess we get the Damar/Weyoun conflict instead which is a worthy substitute.