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PLOT: We join Bashir in sickbay as he struggles to find a cure for Odo and the prognosis is not good - if a cure cannot be found in time, our favourite Changeling will die within a fortnight. Odo makes a request to see Kira and the Colonel is soon by his side in a beautifully orchestrated scene with surprising depth of emotion. She wants to stay with him but Odo does not want her to see him like this and tells her that she is needed back on Cardassia with Damar. Kira and Odo kiss passionately before she departs.

O'Brien makes a report to Sisko regarding the Breen energy weapon and after Kira leaves, Bashir tells Sisko of a plan to lure Sloan to the station in the hopes of a getting a cure from him. Sisko is none too pleased by this but gives the go ahead - desperate times, require extreme measures. Later that night, the Chief and Bashir are at Quark's and having a conversation. Both are disturbed that Starfleet would do such a thing to Odo and worry about the moral consequences of such an act. Bashir, in particular, is adamant that Section 31 must be stopped - before they compromise all the ideals the Federation stands for.

The next scene is one viewers have seen all too often as Bashir awakens to discover Sloan in his room - saying he has a mission for the good Doctor but before he can blink, Bashir activates a force field and contacts Miles. (Obviously the two were doing more than just talking earlier!)

Sloan awakens in sickbay and discovers that he is immobilised from the shoulders down. Bashir proceeds to attach a Romulan mind probe but before he can finish, Sloan activates a suicide device that scrambles his neural pathways - effectively leaving him brain dead. In a desperate act, Bashir decides to use a neural link to venture into Sloan's mind and O'Brien decides to accompany the good Doctor on his "quest" - in case Bashir cannot free himself before Sloan dies completely.

Bashir and Miles find themselves on a turbo-lift and when it comes to a stop they are surprised to find themselves greeted by Sloan. He is very friendly and will freely give them the information they seek once they meet some good friends of his - which in turn are members of his family and inner circle. Sloan makes a case for his actions and asks that they consider everything he gave up in order to work for Section 31. Before Sloan gives Bashir the information for the disease killing the Changelings, another Sloan appears and shoots the "good" Sloan. Suddenly, everyone disappears and Bashir and Miles are shocked to find themselves alone! They walk along a corridor and try a door - when a member of Section 31 who wounds them with phaser fire stops them. They are surprised to feel pain but Bashir says that somehow Sloan must be responsible - don't ask me how as the answer is really dumb and does not make much sense - much like this episode.

Injured, the two collapse and discuss events they have been through over the years. After several minutes, they see a bright light appear and come to the conclusion that they are dying along with Sloan. Then, somehow, they awaken and find themselves back in sickbay. Sloan, however, is not as lucky and has died. Bashir feels angry and sad as they went through all of this and he still has no cure for Odo. He goes back to his room and starts reading a book. He is shocked to discover that some of the pages are blank and after consulting with O'Brien realises that they are still surfing Sloan's neural pathways and that this was a distraction to throw them off the track. They walk down the corridor once more but upon opening the last door find Sloan sitting a desk. He makes a challenge (for them to find the exact piece of information they seek) but all of this is yet another distraction. After looking through the documents scattered upon Sloan's desk. they find the cure for Odo.

Bashir and Miles then find themselves back in sickbay and the first thing Bashir sees upon opening his eyes is Ezri looking back at him. He makes a passing comment to her about her beauty and then goes to Odo with the antidote - within moments Odo is back to normal. Bashir pats him on the head and gives him permission to shape-shift all over the Promenade. (Just kidding!) The last act has our two crewmembers back at Quark's and Bashir comes to realise that if it were not for Miles, the mission would have failed…

REVIEW: Well that was boring with a capital B. After all the build-up from previous encounters with Section 31 -- I was expecting to be floored by this and even more so given that it was included among the "Final Chapter" episodes. I guess I should have realised something was amiss upon viewing the previous encounter in "Inter Arma.." but I thought that perhaps that was just a fluke and the staff were feeling a bit tired creatively. Watching this I could not help but compare it to Voyager's "Relativity" -- and if we have any more back to front and front to back episodes, I am going to scream! Episodes like this either work because of their convoluted plots or fail as a direct result of that. I would put this in the latter category.

Every year we have had an episode where the Chief is tortured but I think this year it was the viewer's turn to feel the pain. Any way, this episode really only served one purpose and that was the cure for Odo -- which as those who have seen the episodes will realise, comes to play an important part in how the Dominion's War against the Federation unfolds.

Well, I think I have said enough about this one. Overall, nothing of great interest but you might want to show it to other people if they miss this one so they could understand where the miracle cure came from? 5/10

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