In the “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” episode “Defiant,” O’Neil returned as a Cardassian character named Korinas, a member of the Obsidian Order. The Obsidian Order is essentially the Cardassian CIA, but one that most frequently spies on its own people. In “Defiant,” the rogue Starfleet officer Thomas Riker (Jonathan Frakes) steals the U.S.S. Defiant — DS9’s specialized warship — on behalf of a separatist faction called the Maquis. When the Cardassian Gul Dukat (Marc Alaimo) pursues Riker into a seemingly uninhabited region of Cardassian Space, he is confronted by his observer, Korinas, who tells him not to proceed. Something fishy is going on.
O’Neil recalls the tone on the “Deep Space Nine” set to be very different from that of “Next Generation,” and that, again, her makeup was confining. She ended up channeling the physical rigidity of her makeup and costume into character traits, saying:
“It was a darker set, a more closed-in feeling, though I think that may have had something to do with the makeup. My makeup was confining. I’d also done a makeup role for ‘Babylon 5,’ but the Cardassian makeup was difficult. It was hard breathing. You felt trapped in the confines of the costume, too. It was rigid. The character had an undercurrent of falsehood, somehow, and as an actor that makes you tense and apprehensive and withdrawn in some ways.”
O’Neil, a professional who worked consistently from 1970 until her retirement in 2001, knew how to think about characters, saying:
“[F]or me, a lot depends on the internal things that are going on with a character. That affects how you feel when you look at yourself in the mirror. How the makeup makes you appear affects how you think of a character. It’s all a thinking process.”