With a focus on the antagonists, this piece of the nine-part "Final Chapter" is an exciting look at one character turning to the "dark side", another turning to the good side, and another turning to the death side.
In the roles of Anakin Skywalker and Chancellor Palpatine we have Kai Winn and Dukat, with Winn struggling to reject the power evil offers. (And really, does it get any more evil than the two of them getting it on?) With Winn's history and the Marc Alaimo's consistently strong performances, it would be easy for the writers to turn this into a "Dukat moment", where the Cardassian wins her heart just as easily as he wins his followers (if temporarily) that appear in "Covenant". But instead, Ron Moore wisely uses Dukat as merely a supporting player and sets the episode on Louise Fletcher's shoulders, giving her an internal struggle which ties together all the sympathetic and not so nice things we've learned about her over the years.
At the same time, the writers (with Behr, Beimler, and Echevarria finishing the script after Moore's wife unexpectedly went into labor a month early) also effectively mine the history between Weyoun and Damar from previous seasons, giving the two some terrific scenes to drive the other half of the plot. (There's also the climax of the Worf/Dax storyline that begins as a comedy runner before finally getting the
It's all exposition for future episodes, of course, and the writers don't really need a full episode to show us how all these characters, most notably Winn and Damar, have arrived at their decisions. (Indeed, originally this episode was to include Sisko's wedding, but it was shifted into the previous episode late in the But in this case, there's something more exciting about seeing the decisions drawn out. The fun isn't seeing what choices the characters make; it's seeing how they arrive at them. And the episode is another of many that shows how even the secondary characters of DS9 are important enough to be treated respectfully by the writers.
For Rene Auberjonois, helming his eighth and last Star Trek episode, it's a heck of way to finish off his time in the director's chair.