The Bashir/Garak relationship is finally given the main story in this bottle episode that begins like an allegory for drug addiction before becoming a playful character study of Garak's past. Both and Siddig El Fadil and Andrew Robinson give (at least to this point) their finest performances in the series. (Paul Dooley adds a tremendous assist as Enabran Tain, Garak's mentor). Garak's role in this episode is particularly a watershed moment. The show's growing list of recurring characters began enriching the show from the getgo, but here one becomes as important as the regulars, setting the stage for more of the same in the future.
Deep Space Nine's first female director, Kim Friedman, proves her mettle, building the intensity in gutsy crescendos and covering for the lack of budget with dramatic character pieces.
And while "The Wire" is great entertainment in its own right, it's one of those Deep Space Nine episodes that becomes even more interesting to look back upon as the series progresses.