I tend to think of the first six episodes (A Time to Stand, Rocks and Shoals, Sons and Daughters, Behind the Lines, Favor the Bold, and A Sacrifice of Angels) as a single functional unit, so my thoughts over the next few days will come in no particular order.
Slightly more fascinating to me than the Starfleet side of the raging Dominion War are the interplays on the occupied DS9.
The strongest scene in A Time to Stand is Dukat's presumptuous flirtation with Kira and Kira's gutsy response. selenak, you are correct- Kira makes a better counterpoint to Dukat than Sisko. They were each forged by the same bloody history, a history that spans decades. In galactic time, Sisko, Emissary or not, is a recent interloper and still very much an outsider. To change the shape of a conflict that has existed since the series' birth is, I feel, a mistake on the writers' part. It's as if JMS decided, mid-stream, to make Sheridan Londo's principle foil.
That said, I'm stumped as to how Sisko's importance as the Emissary could be re-written in a way that preserves Kira and Dukat as primary adversaries.
On the subject of adversaries, I love the constant potency contest between Dukat and Weyoun. Political allies they may be, but as Dukat observes darkly at one point, "Someone has to be in charge." And behind a screen of false smiles and forced pleasantness, they fight doggedly for supremacy. As a fan of hostile subtext, Coombs and Alaimo and the way they convey their thinly veiled contempt for each other fills me with joy.
The plot on DS9 also turns on Odo's divided loyalty. Bro and I were shocked by how closely the Female Founder's intervention resembled a sexual seduction. "Do you want me to stop?" she asks as she begins to link with Odo for the first time in Behind the Lines. We certainly didn't remember it being this blatant. *g* And we certainly didn't remember that she had physical intercourse (!) with Odo as well.
But oh, they did not follow through with this storyline and it is perhaps the series greatest dissapointment. Granted, the fact that Odo came through for Kira by the end of A Sacrifice of Angels may- may- have mitigated his earlier betrayal somewhat. But this should've lingered for a very long time.
Just now, the following occured to me: The focal point of Children of Time was the relationship between Odo and Kira and Odo's ultimate willingness to sacrifice 8000 to save his love, superceding Kira's own wishes in the process. Upon reviewing the full text of the Founder's seduction of Odo, it has suddenly struck me that Odo's betrayal in Behind the Lines springs from the same origin. "If she smiles at me, I'm happy beyond reason," Odo confesses to the Founder. In return, the Founder offers "clarity." Odo was driven into the arms of the Founder because of his unrequited love for Kira, just as he doomed the colony on Gaia to non-existence in the service of that same unrequited love.
Odo and Londo might have some things to discuss between them regarding the selling of one's soul for a dame.
Coming Up: Tales told sparingly, DS9's most compelling Jem'Hadar, and the humour of ruined pants. Don't worry, I won't ignore Sisko and Co. *g*