Thursday, May 17, 2012

Perfection In The Final Arc Of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Arrives With “The Changing Face Of Evil!”

The Good: Effects, Plot, Character aspects, Acting, Everything!
The Bad: I’m not wild about the reuse of special effects footage, but it doesn’t detract from the episode enough to downrate it.
The Basics: When the Breen make an all-out assault as allies of the Dominion, the Federation and its allies face defeat like never before in “The Changing Face Of Evil!”

It is almost inarguable among fans of the Star Trek franchise that the series that went out on the highest note was Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Building up to its conclusion, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine became a masterful work of great storytelling that led to the end of a vast number of characters. That final arc would not have had the endurance it did if it lacked perfect episodes. The first perfect episode in the nine-part arc is “The Changing Face Of Evil.”

“The Changing Face Of Evil” follows very closely on the heels of “Strange Bedfellows” (reviewed here!) and is the episode where the final sides are drawn for the remainder of the series. It is in “The Changing Face Of Evil” that Damar rises up to save Cardassia, Winn commits to freeing the Pah-wraiths and the Chintoka System falls to the Dominion forces, led by the Breen. More than simply having wonderful plot aspects, “The Changing Face Of Evil” helps define the characters better and set them on arcs that will see them through to their final moments in the series. “The Changing Face Of Evil” has everything a fan could want from an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine!

With Ezri and Worf back on Deep Space Nine, things are looking for up for the allies against the Dominion. Unfortunately, the station receives word that the Breen have assaulted Earth. With StarFleet Headquarters in flames, the allying of the Breen and the Dominion spreads throughout the galaxy. With Weyoun suspecting that Damar doubted the Dominion, Damar begins to lay the seeds of dissension between the Breen and the Dominion. Damar quietly lays a framework with Gul Rusot to rebel against the Dominion.

On Bajor, Kai Winn and Anjohl Tennan begin their study of the apparently blank Book Of The Kosst Amojan to learn how to release the Pah-wraiths from the Bajoran firecaves. When the Breen retake the Chintoka System, the Federation, Klingons and Romulans take a stand to liberate the one foothold they had within Dominion space. But the attempt to liberate the Chintoka System leads to a devastating loss for the allied forces. As the fate of the Alpha Quadrant looks grim for everyone, an unlikely hero rises up and cuts the Dominion where they hurt!

Recently, my wife noted that when I like something, I am not overly fond of pointing out faults with the work. I objected, but ever since, I have been making an effort to find any fault I could with things I love. “The Changing Face Of Evil” reuses footage from “Tears Of The Prophet” (reviewed here!). The special effects are altered to include Breen ships, but still “The Changing Face Of Evil” does not have completely new special effects sequences. As well, following the disastrous assault on the Chintoka System, the Female Changeling leaves the escape pods intact without destroying them. While the writers of “The Changing Face Of Evil,” Hans Beimler and Ira Steven Behr, explain the change in tactics well-enough, the initial ruthlessness of the Dominion is diminished by the fact that the Dominion has, in the past, instilled fear simply by killing everyone. The change in tactic in “The Changing Face Of Evil” is interesting, if a bit plot-convenient (namely to save every character the viewer cares about).

“The Changing Face Of Evil” is otherwise flawless and I tend to argue that it is a perfect episode. The plot is engaging and “The Changing Face Of Evil” has one of the big surprises in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The battle for the Chintoka System features a gut-wrenching moment for fans of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine that was, nicely, not spoiled prior to the episode’s release. Moreover, the progression with Damar’s character arc makes for compelling viewing.

In fact, it is hard to think of a perfect episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine that has so many things happen, yet manages to develop the characters so well. In “The Changing Face Of Evil,” Damar falls off the fence into action and when he takes a stand finally, it is compelling in a way that he has not been before. Standing as a legitimate leader of Cardassia, Legate Damar is compelling in a way that he never has been before now. Who would ever have guessed that Damar could close an episode the way he does in “The Changing Face Of Evil?!”

The acting in “The Changing Face Of Evil” is universally excellent. As Louise Fletcher redefines Kai Winn, she and Marc Alaimo play off one another very well. “The Changing Face Of Evil” marks the final appearance of James Otis and his brief role in the final arc of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is memorable and as his character meets his fate, it is his delivery of his lines that makes the viewer feel like the character is compelling.

As for the rest of the cast, by this point in the series, the primary cast knows their roles flawlessly and they execute them that way in “The Changing Face Of Evil.” It all adds up to a perfect episode. “The Changing Face Of Evil” escalates the Dominion War and puts the heroes in their worst position yet and it makes the final arc a series one feels compelled to watch!

[Knowing that the season is a much better investment, it's worth looking into Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Complete Seventh Season on DVD, which provides the full story for the conclusion to the series. Read my review of the final season by clicking here!


For other Star Trek reviews, be sure to visit my Star Trek Episode Review Page for an organized listing of all the episodes, movies and seasons I have reviewed!

© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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