Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Adversary   Rewatch 
December 27, 2015 1:24 PM - Season 3, Episode 26 - Subscribe

Benjamin Sisko gets another pip, everyone gets aboard the ship, the infiltrator gives them the slip, oh no--this could be their last trip!

From Memory Alpha &c.:

- The scene in the Defiant's mess hall where the senior officers are taking blood samples of each other to determine which one of them is the Changeling is very reminiscent of the 1982 John Carpenter film The Thing. This film is based on the 1938 John W. Campbell, Jr. (writing under the pseudonym of Don A. Stuart) short story "Who Goes There?", which contains a very similar scene. However, the writers cite neither the original story nor the Carpenter film as their primary inspiration for this episode, but rather the 1951 Christian Nyby film adaptation, called The Thing From Another World. That film did not feature the theme of paranoia or shapeshifters as the story or the later film adaptation did. Paranoia was something the writers were interested in exploring, as it was something rarely seen in the Star Trek universe.

- The writers decided to use the line "No changeling has ever harmed another" as an important element in this episode. This line had been heard a few times already (in "The Search, Part II", "Heart of Stone" and "The Die is Cast"), and its importance would return in the fourth season finale, "Broken Link".

- The character of Michael Eddington was deliberately set up as a red herring in this episode. The writers felt that the way actor Kenneth Marshall had portrayed the character in "The Search, Part I", "The Search, Part II" and "The Die is Cast" had always implied some kind of underlying threat, so they decided to use that to their advantage in this episode. Indeed, after the episode aired, the word around the internet was that Eddington was a Changeling infiltrator, and that this was obviously going to have a bearing on the upcoming season. Upon hearing this, the writers decided that they would never make Eddington a Changeling.

- The fight between Odo and the Changeling at the end of the episode was extremely complicated to put together due to all the morphing effects. Producer Steve Oster points out that there are more morphing effects in this short scene than in the entire third season.

"You'd be surprised. People don't enter Starfleet to become commanders. Or admirals, for that matter. It's the captain's chair everyone has their eye on. That's what I wanted when I joined up." - Michael Eddington

"Here's to the newest and best captain in Starfleet. And all I can say is, it's about time." - Miles O'Brien [emphasis mine]
posted by Halloween Jack (12 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Man, poor Odo.

This part stood out for me as painfully relevant (as a POC) on rewatch:

EDDINGTON: You know, this'd be a lot easier if we knew where he was hiding. Where would you be if you were him?
ODO: I wouldn't know. I'm not him.
EDDINGTON: He is one of your people. Can't you put yourself in his position, try to anticipate his next move?
ODO: I've thought about it, but the truth is I don't understand my people all that well.

Just the idea that as a member of a visible minority, you must know everything about that minority group is frustrating enough, but when it comes up as you're trying to prevent a war--ouch.

Loved Avery Brooks' exasperated read in this exchange:

COMPUTER: Auto-destruct in seven minutes.
SISKO [OC]: Just tell me how long it will take.
O'BRIEN: Well, I guess it'll have to be less than seven minutes, won't it.
SISKO: That'd be my suggestion.

This was super-tense, and one hell of a way to end the season. I've said it before, but I like the practice of non-cliff-hanger season finales, with a hint of what's to come in the next season.
posted by creepygirl at 9:32 PM on December 27, 2015 [8 favorites]

How shit is Starfleet security, really? I mean, Eddington winds up being a terrible guerrilla fighter, and a garbage person in general, but are these constant security breaches also his fault, or is it more of a systemic issue within Starfleet? Are they all just really bad at their jobs?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:41 PM on December 28, 2015

I've always thought of NextGen Starfleet more as militarized hobbyists than an actual military force, so it makes sense to me that they'd be bad at security.
posted by happyroach at 3:49 PM on December 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

If I had to rationalize the ineffectual security, I'd probably say that it's a combination of the Dominion being slightly ahead of the Federation technologically overall, and their tech simply being different enough to go through or around the Federation's security measures, at first. The oddly Borg-like tendril-things that are growing inside the Jeffries tubes, for example? AFAIK, they don't come back. That's also true for many of the Dominion's other tactical advantages, as well--the Jem'Hadar's personal cloaks just don't show up after a while. (The general idea of other cultures having tech that can bypass Fed security simply by being different enough seems like a small-scale version of the Outside Context Problem in Iain M. Banks' Culture books, and would also explain the number of times that Voyager gets boarded, if not taken over entirely; most of the cultures they run across or come into conflict with aren't that much more advanced overall, if at all, but they keep running into different ones.)

As far as the episode overall, I like it--it's almost a bottle episode (although there were several new sets built for it, including the Defiant engine room), and it's a nice switch from the general aura of celebration of Sisko's promotion to the realization by Sisko that one of his first acts as captain may be his last. There's also Eddington's comment about how he'd had dreams of command, as well, which sheds a lot of light on his later actions, and a nice call-back to auto-destruct sequences of the past.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:23 PM on December 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

I thought the tendril things were really cool- they sort of remind me of the "melding plague" from Alastair Reynolds' books (but in a kind of crap '90s special effects way).
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:52 PM on December 28, 2015

I just referenced this episode yesterday in the thread on The Thing!

A classic episode, one that very effectively cranks up the tension on the Dominion threat. It's also the last episode where Sisko has hair and Alexander Siddig is credited as Siddig El Fadil!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:39 AM on December 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Actually, come to think of it, why is Eddington even there for the big changeling switcheroo? I mean, as soon as they discover the sabotage, why aren't they pushing the guy who's actually sabotaged the ship once before out the airlock, just to be on the safe side?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:31 PM on December 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Regarding the scene with Odo: Yes, it's ridiculous how people expected him to predict the military doctrine of a species he didn't know existed a year ago, and also completely true to the treatment of second-generation immigrants.

There's a later episode that similarly uses Worf to explore immigrant issues. He and Dax go to the pleasure planet Risa, he makes a big kerfluffle about the frivolity of it all, and Dax with Curzon's memories points out that he models a very selective subset of Klingon culture. Worf is all discipline and honor, without any of the joi de vivre. And it turns out that despite attributing it to Klingon culture, Worf mostly gets that part of his personality from a freak soccer accident in his youth.
posted by d. z. wang at 3:57 PM on December 31, 2015

Hey, where's my next episode?
posted by d. z. wang at 5:18 PM on January 6, 2016

jcreigh, "Bashir" was holding the vial of what appeared to be Eddington's blood. The blood vial and its contents were really an extension of "Bashir's" body. In the next(?) episode, Odo demonstrates the same trick for Garak when he pretends to drink from a fake glass.
posted by henuani at 12:09 AM on April 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

Wait it's half a decade later and still no one followed up on the OP pointing out that O'Brien says Sisko is better than Picard?

(Or did i miss it?)
posted by tofu_crouton at 10:32 PM on May 13, 2020

The way I took O'Brien's line is that captains are like dogs: They're all the best, but the one you're with now is especially the best. It didn't feel like he was slighting Picard (or Maxwell, for that matter).
posted by Banknote of the year at 4:36 PM on October 6, 2022

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