On the other hand, I find its immediate replacement to be appropriate: there's only so much time that can be spent caring about a warship in a conflict like this.
Some have said that replacing it undercuts what previously happened, but I don't think it really does. The attachment the characters might have to the old Defiant is based on the experiences they shared on it, not its "uniqueness" as a machine. Also, it's just a ship. Let's not get carried away.
Replacing the Defiant makes sense, but they replaced the Defiant with another Defiant class ship which they then renamed Defiant and gave the ship the Defiant's exact registry number. I understand why they did all that for budgetary reasons, and at least they changed some of the colours on the bridge, but it was a little underwhelming. It would be like replacing Jadzia with Jadzia's identical twin sister who is also called Jadzia.
When it Rains... (***½)
...it drizzles. Nothing in this episode can match the theatrics of the previous one, it's just contains the logical continuation of the story, as well as some plot elements being set up for the final batch of episodes.
Damar is now the leader of the Cardassian Liberation Front, but he's not doing very well and his underling, Russot, is contemplating establishing the Liberation Front of Cardassia. To help Damar out, Sisko decides to send the two people that hate Damar most to help, Kira and Garak. But there's no time to discuss the death of Ziyal, all of these people are professionals and are dedicated to bringing down the Dominion, personal feelings be damned. It's a neat development for Kira to find herself helping the Cardassians free their homeworld with terrorist tactics she learned fighting Cardassians, but not much has come of that yet other than a few arguments.
Meanwhile, Bashir faces the greatest evil in the galaxy: bureaucracy. After discovering that Odo is infected with space aids, Bashir decides to use his superhuman brain to discover a cure, but finds himself arguing with some low-level officers for several days. He eventually supposes that Section 31 are behind the obstructionism and that they're the ones responsible for the disease, which is a bit of a leap in logic, but he ends up being correct so I guess I have to suck it for questioning him.
Everyone's favourite pair of eyeballs returns, as Gowron shows up to take over from Martok. It turns out that the Klingons are the only ones whose ships can be adapted to fight the Breen, and rather than be a good Salarian and hold the line, Gowron has decided to launch an attack on the Dominion while outnumbered 20 to 1. To most people, this would appear to be complete idiocy, but we're talking about Klingons here so it kinda makes sense.
On Bajor, Dukat gets hit in the eyes with some magic smoke and goes blind, and Winn chooses to punish him by kicking him onto the street. This is a stalling tactic, plain and simple. The show doesn't need Dukat and Winn for the next few episodes so they concocted some reason to get rid of them, and it's about as entertaining as that reads.
Form of... a little drab: 36