While the fifth season finale teases a big battle show to follow, "A Time to Stand" spends most of its time in the periphery of hostilities until the end. There are battles, but they happen off screen. Sisko and company's regrouping and the Dominion's occupation of Deep Space Nine, the alternating A and B stories, are both rather quiet and do not intersect. The bulk of the episode includes small-scale scenes between the characters, including a mix of new and old pairings like Kira and Odo, Weyoun and Jake, Dukat and Kira, and Ben and Admiral Ross. Most of the scenes go as we would expect, with the exception of Ben and the new Admiral. Barry Jenner takes a novel approach to playing the Captain's boss: he doesn't act like a dick. This unusual acting decision immediately vaults him ahead of just about every admiral preceding him for the "most liked figurehead" award.
As the episode nears its end, the action picks up with a daring undercover mini-mission, setting the table for the next episode.