In between the intensity of "Empok Nor" and the eight-parter that would carry into season six, "In the Cards" offers humor and breathing space. Yeah, there's serious stuff going on in the background - but life goes on.
Jake and Nog's quest to obtain a Willie Mays rookie card echoes some of their crazy shenanigans from season one. As it was back then, it's played for laughs here (I burst out into laughter when Jake attempts to con Weyoun with his time travel story), but the two characters (and actors) have a maturity they lacked five years earlier.
Aside from the aforementioned Jake speech, there are plenty of other funny moments. But there are also serious parts - and the two villains, played by Louise Fletcher (showing flashes of her "good side") and the wonderfully smarmy Jeffrey Combs - show why they are such fan favorites.
In the end, like Sisko and the senior crew, we too forget that even in the most serious times it's OK to laugh a little.