I apologize for the double- posting, but I made it through A Man Alone and Babel and wanted to get my reviews posted sooner rather than later.
A Man Alone Review
There are a lot of things about this episode that are significant both from a narrative a well as a production standpoint.
On the production side of things, this episode constitutes the DS9 debut of multi-plot episodic narrative, the 'randomized' teaser, and multi-character focus, three staples of Star Trek storytelling structure, all things that end up coming to define the series as it progresses.
Narratively, we see a lot of 'firsts' in this episode: the first non-duty- related interaction between Dax and Bashir, Dax and Sisko, and Sisko and Bashir; the first meeting of Nog and Jake; and the first real seeding of the close relationship between Kira and Odo that, in later seasons, will progress far beyond mere friendship.
As I was watching the ep, I was reminded at times of the B5 episodes Born to the Purple and Infection, as this ep's plot is somewhat of a hybrid of both those eps. I aalso noted traces of similarity between the interaction between Odo and Quark and the evolution of the relationship between Londo and G'kar.
Although the official synopsis for the episode identifies it as being Odo-centric, I'd personally say that, in accordance with it being the DS9 debut of multi-character focus, it's also very much an O'Brien-centric episode, marking the first instance in the series of an episode being focused on both one or more main characters and one or more secondary characters.
I really enjoyed this episode and would mark it as one of the highlights of Season 1, not only because of the ways it helps to establish storytelling structure trends that become staples of the series, but also because of its story, which sets up a lot of character and narrative threads that recur in future eps.
If there's one type of episodic story that can be said to be a standard for the Star Trek franchise, it's the 'viral infection/quarantine' story, which has been done in one form or another in every installment of the franchise. The quality of these types of episodes has varied, ranging from ridiculous to excellent, with Babel, IMO, being counted among the latter, at least IMO.
The thing that makes the episode's premise work is that the virus plot itself is really only a catalyst and vehicle for exploring characters, in particular Kira, Odo, and Quark. Armin Shimmerman and Rene Auberjonois are both great actors and the way they play off of each other is brilliant, particularly towards the climax of the episode when Quark becomes the last resort Ops manager while Odo embarks on his mission to stop the alien captain' s ship from exploding.
Kira' s search for the architect of the virus gives us a chance to see her resourcefulness and tenacity, both qualities that make her the excellent XO that she is while also demonstrating and reinforcing how far she's come in only a few episodes in terms of her role on the station and her assimilation into that role.
I would actually rank this ep as another of the highlights of Season 1, if only because of its excellent character development and the way it utilizes and establishes/expands upon character relationships and interactions that are carried forward through future eps.