Sunday, May 20, 2012

“Tacking Into The Wind” Is A Gamechanging Episode In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s Final Arc!

The Good: Great sense of plot progression, Great characters, Good acting, Wonderful effects
The Bad: None that I can find!
The Basics: With “Tacking Into The Wind,” the final arc of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine takes an impressive, and dark, turn!

Every once in a long while, there comes something I am reviewing that it just plain irks me to have to try writing about. In the case of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, that comes with a few episodes where what I really want to do is write about how the episode ends. This is especially difficult without ruining the episodes involved and before “Tacking Into The Wind,” the real challenges were in writing about “Duet” (reviewed here!) and “Necessary Evil” (reviewed here!), both of which have final shots that are so vital, beautiful and profound for the series that I could easily write an essay on just that shot. “Tacking Into The Wind” joins that collection and it is killing me to write without revealing how the last shot of the episode truly frames the episode and affects the viewer.

The journey to the last shot in “Tacking Into The Wind” makes it all worthwhile and the episode is one of the perfect episodes of the series . As Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was winding down, the producers and writers seemed acutely aware that they were finishing the long arc of Worf, so “Tacking Into The Wind” takes a few moments to put his character’s journey into perspective. And the scene between him and Dax is one of the exceptional ones in the final arc that truly gives viewers the sense that the character has had real endurance and grown over the course of his years in the franchise.

While Kira, Odo and Garak try to train Damar and Rusot’s resistance cell to better fight the Dominion, Odo hides the extent of his illness from Kira. As the team prepares for their next mission, aboard Deep Space Nine, Gowron’s recklessness has left Martok severely wounded. As Martok recovers, Gowron continues to deploy the Klingon fleet against the Dominion in ways that put the entire Alpha Quadrant at risk. After Sisko and Dax tacitly imply that Worf needs to rectify the Gowron problem, Worf discovers Martok is resistant to overthrow Gowron.

Desperate to do what they can to save the Alpha Quadrant, Kira’s team infiltrates a Dominion facility to try to steal a Dominion ship that is outfitted with a Breen weapon. After getting aboard a Dominion ship that is in the process of getting the upgrade, the fragile dynamic of the team begins to fall apart!

“Tacking Into The Wind” is an episode of revolutions and dangerous situations. While the resolution to the Klingon plotline makes for a compelling resolution to the Worf and Martok arcs, the Damar/Kira plot has farther to go. And Odo’s character reaches its lowest point. Critically ill, Odo shares impressive moments with both Garak and Kira, illustrating his increased understanding of humanoids. At this point in the series, Odo truly has come to understand the importance of his relationship with Kira and the distinction he makes with Garak early in the episode is an interesting one.

The revelation to Garak about his condition shows an uncommon level of trust from Odo. Perhaps as important, Garak shows a great deal of humanity in “Tacking Into The Wind.” Garak has, traditionally, been out for himself and he is very dedicated to liberating Cardassia. His revelation to Kira that Odo is suffering shows a personal connection that is not his usual modus operandi.

Andrew Robinson, who plays Garak, is not even the stand out performance in “Tacking Into The Wind!” It’s a tough call for who steals the show in “Tacking Into The Wind,” because the performances are universally great. Robert O’Reilly, Jeffrey Combs, and John Vickery play perfectly off the regular castmembers and they fit in as if they have been a part of the cast for the entire series. Casey Biggs and J.G. Hertzler elevate Damar and Martok to true leaders. Both men have a real gravitas that overcomes the make-up they are forced to wear. Biggs, especially, emotes incredibly well with his eyes as his character learns the fate of his family.

Nana Visitor, as well, steps up to embody Kira as a leader and as she takes command of the team in “Tacking Into The Wind,” she manages to do so without overshadowing Casey Biggs’ Damar. The respect Visitor shows Biggs by having her character lead without ever being over-the-top helps the episode work. As well, Visitor is able to portray passion exceptionally well . . . especially in the final scene of the episode.

Ultimately, “Tacking Into The Wind” is a perfect episode and part of the essential Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and the last perfect episode before the series finale.

[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 episode, movie or DVD set reviews, please visit my Star Trek Review Index Page!

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

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