Written by Peter Allan Fields
Directed by James L. Conway
Season 2, Episode 8
Production episode 40512-428
Original air date: November 14, 1993
Station log: It’s a dark and stormy night on Bajor. Quark is visiting Vaatrik Pallra in her home (which doesn’t have power at the moment), a conspicuously wealthy woman, who starts the conversation by insisting she didn’t kill her husband, even though everyone—including “that shapeshifter”—thought so. Quark doesn’t appear to entirely believe her or entirely care. She wants Quark to retrieve a box from the chemist shop she and her husband used to run on the station. She’d go herself, but she can’t stand the thought of being there, where her husband was murdered. She’ll pay him five bars of latinum; he promises to have it for her in a day or two.
After he leaves, a thug walks out from where he was hidden, and he and Vaatrik nod to each other.
Back on the station, in response to a request from Sisko, Odo has very reluctantly begun a log to keep record of law-enforcement affairs on the station. His first entry: “Everything’s under control.”
Quark and Rom go to the storage unit that’s where the chemist shop used to be. Rom boasts that he can get the door open in ten seconds, with a device that Nog put together for him. (He’s been practicing on Quark’s store room, as Quark often forgets to give Rom the de-sealer when he needs to get in there.) When they get to the panel Vaatrik specified, Rom has another suggestion for breaking in that’s better than Quark’s, in this case magnesite drops that can burn off the bolts holding the panel in without anyone seeing the flare; he used them to store Quark’s profits when he was away last.
They retrieve the box, Quark swearing never to let Rom touch anything ever again. Quark, of course, opens it, finding a list of eight Bajoran names. He sends Rom to get an imager, and while he’s gone, the thug shows up and shoots Quark, taking the list (he says that Vaatrik knew he wouldn’t be able to resist looking at it).
Bashir treats Quark while Odo and Sisko question Rom. Odo plays bad cop, pointing out that Rom gets the bar in the event of Quark’s death. Odo says that Rom isn’t as stupid as he looks, to which Rom replies, “I am, too!” Sisko plays good cop, referring to Rom as a family friend, and saying that it is his own brother. Eventually, they break Rom, who admits everything, leading Odo to the storage room. (“Do you want me to open it? I can do it in ten seconds!”)
This prompts a flashback…
We jump back five years, to a much more subdued Odo who arrives on Terok Nor for the first time and comes to the same storage room that at this time was a chemist shop. He meets Gul Dukat, who first met Odo when he was “viewed” by Cardassian High Command at the Bajoran Center for Science two years earlier.
Since then, Dukat’s kept an eye on Odo. He’s served as an arbitrator for Bajorans with disputes occasionally, viewed as a neutral observer. Dukat wants Odo to investigate the murder of the chemist shop’s owner, Vaatrik Daasa. The Bajorans won’t talk to Cardassian authorities, but they might talk to Odo. Odo, reluctantly, agrees to look into the murder, especially since the alternative is for Dukat to round up ten Bajorans at random and execute them.
His first task is to question the widow: the very same Vaatrik Pallra who will hire Quark to steal a list five years later (and to whom Dukat is uncharacteristically polite and solicitous; the Vaatriks also had private quarters, which was unusual). She says that her husband was having an affair; he confessed it to her a few days ago, and she believes that the other woman killed her husband in a jealous rage.
Vaatrik points the woman out to Odo, sitting and eating at a table: it’s Kira, with much longer hair, tied back in a ponytail.
Back in the present, Kira meets with Odo and they speculate as to whether or not this list has something to do with Vaatrik’s murder five years earlier. Odo then questions Rom to see if he can remember any of the names on the list. He finally remembers that the first word began with a C, ended with an O, and had an apostrophe—maybe “Ches’so”? Odo shows the name to Kira, who doesn’t recognize it.
In the past, Odo sits with Kira and questions her. She did know Vaatrik and had become friends with him, but she denies killing him—and also denies the affair. If he was attracted to her, he never showed it. As for the previous night, she was at the bar, trying to get hired by Quark for dog work. Kira also questions why Odo has been assigned to this when Cardassian security’s perfectly capable of handling it.
In the present, Odo goes to Bajor to question Vaatrik, where her power is back online. She insists she knows nothing about the list, doesn’t recognize the name “Ches’so,” and is sorry that Quark’s dead; Odo, however, informs her that he’s still clinging to life. He also questions where she got the money to pay for getting her power back on, which she says was a loan from a friend who’s married, and whose identity she won’t divulge.
Kira has good news and bad news for Odo: the name may be Chess’arro, who does a lot of charity work for war orphans, and whose work took him to the station a lot back then. The bad news is that he died on his property the previous night. Odo blames himself for his death, as he alerted Vaatrik to the fact that they knew at least a version of his name.
Odo requests Vaatrik’s communication records, that the medical examiner on Bajor treat Chess’arro’s death as a possible homicide, and that the bank on Bajor keep a supervisor available all night, as he’ll need records—for whom he’s not sure. He also posts a twenty-six-hour-a-day armed guard on Quark.
In the past, Odo checks Kira’s alibi with Quark, who tries and fails to hire Odo to do the Cardassian neck trick in the bar. It takes Odo all of half a second to break the alibi, which it turns out Kira paid Quark for. But Odo won’t release her name to Dukat until he knows for sure that she paid for the alibi to kill Vaatrik.
In the present, Odo reconstructs the list based on Vaatrik’s communication records. She’s spoken to all of them a great deal the past few days, and never spoke to any of them prior to that. They’ve also all transferred 100,000 litas into Vaatrik’s account in the last two days. Odo assumes blackmail, probably to keep from revealing how they came out of the occupation with that kind of money, which in turn was probably due to their being collaborators.
In the past, Kira admits that she didn’t kill Vaatrik—because she was committing acts of sabotage on behalf of the underground. If he turns her in, she’ll be executed, as that’s a far worse crime to Cardassia than a Bajoran killing a Bajoran. To Kira’s relief—and Dukat’s annoyance—Odo lets Kira go, saying he’s convinced she didn’t kill Vaatrik.
In the present, the thug kills the guard in the infirmary and tries to kill Quark, but Rom interrupts him long enough for Odo to arrive. (Rom is disappointed to realize that, if he hadn’t shown up, he’d have the bar.)
The thug is put in a cell, and so is Vaatrik. She insists she’s never met him before, but Odo knows she transferred money to his account and communicated with him repeatedly. She goes into the cell, but insists she didn’t kill her husband. Odo says he knows she didn’t.
That last admission shocks Kira, and the two of them go to Odo’s office where the truth comes out. It was somebody else in the underground who performed the sabotage; Vaatrik was Kira’s responsibility. Her task was to find out who the collaborators were: Vaatrik was the direct link to Dukat. That’s the one element Odo didn’t know until now, which explains why Vaatrik was a target, and also why Dukat brought in Odo—he needed to protect his network of collaborators. It also explains why the Vaatriks had private quarters and why Dukat was so solicitous of the widow. Kira searched for the list, but Vaatrik interrupted her, and she was forced to kill him in self-defense. Vaatrik’s widow knew about the list, but only hired Quark to get it because she needed money, and the list would provide blackmail material to enable her to continue to live in comfort.
Kira makes no apologies for lying to Odo back then because he was working for the Cardassians. When Odo reminds her that it’s been over a year since that was the case, Kira admits that she resisted telling him because she was afraid it would ruin her friendship with Odo.
When Kira asks if he can ever trust her the same way again, Odo has no answer.
The Sisko is of Bajor: It’s fun watching Sisko play good cop to Odo’s bad cop, and it’s also refreshing to see that he’s come around on the friendship between his son and Rom’s, to the point where he publicly refers to Rom as a family friend. (Of course, he’s perfectly happy to use that to get Rom to talk, too.)
Don’t ask my opinion next time: Kira came to the station for the first time five years ago to find out who Vaatrik’s network of collaborators were. She killed him and lied to Odo about it—and continues to do so, even in this episode when Odo first brings up the list of names, since by the end we know that Kira knows exactly what the list was; it was what she was sent to find. It’s no wonder Odo can’t answer her trust question....
Rules of Acquisition: We get our first hint that there’s more to Rom than meets the eye, as his mechanical and technical acumen is on display for the first time. Odo also quotes Rule #139, “Wives serve, brothers inherit.”
For Cardassia! Cardassian policy when there was Bajoran-on-Bajoran violence was to round up ten random Bajorans and kill them. Killing Bajorans was, after all, their job. When the station was still Terok Nor, there were guarded gates all over to help restrict free movement.
Preservation of mass and energy is for wimps: When he first was introduced to the Cardassians by the Bajoran scientist who “raised” him, Odo would do a Cardassian neck trick. We have yet to see this trick in reality, which honestly is probably for the best. This episode chronicles in flashback Odo’s first time meeting Dukat, Kira, and Quark, as well as the first time he was called “Constable,” by Kira, a prefix that would stick.
Keep your ears open: “You’re not planning on leaving the station soon?”
“If I were, would you have the Cardassians stop me?”
“Then I’m not planning on leaving the station soon.”
Odo and Kira at the end of their first meeting.
Welcome aboard: Recurring players Marc Alaimo and Max Grodénchik are back, the former as Dukat in the flashbacks when he was still running the joint, the latter in the present as Rom. Katharine Moffatt appears in both present and past as Vaatrik Pallra; she last appeared as Riker’s playmate-turned-saboteur in TNG’s “The Game.” Robert MacKenzie plays Vaatrik’s pet thug.
Trivial matters: This is our first look at the station under Cardassian occupation, as we flash back five years. The station is darker and more unpleasant, with more gates and restrictions and such. (At one point, we see two kids running and playing in the present, soon followed by a shot of two kids staring dolefully through the gate waiting for their father to come home from the ore processor.)
Rom makes reference to Quark staying overnight in the Gamma Quadrant, which happened in the previous episode, “Rules of Acquisition.”
The flashback in this episode is fleshed out and added to in the Terok Nor novel Dawn of the Eagles by S.D. Perry & Britta Dennison.
At one point, Bashir asks for an anti-grav unit to carry Quark to the infirmary, even though “Melora” established that anti-grav units don’t work on the station.
It’s unclear why Odo was given the permanent job of security chief on the Promenade after this, since he didn’t solve the murder, and since Dukat wanted him for this specific murder for reasons that wouldn’t apply moving forward.
Quark said in “Emissary” that Odo’s been trying to nail Quark for four years. It’s now a year later, so the five-year flashback tracks nicely.
The episode “Things Past” in season five will serve as a companion piece to this one, as we get another flashback, this time to something Odo did in the past while serving as security chief on Terok Nor.
Walk with the Prophets: “Everybody has to choose sides, Constable.” Flashbacks are often fun, once you get to know characters a bit, it can be very entertaining to see what they were like before we met them for the first time. Aaron Sorkin is a past master at this, doing it particularly well in The West Wing on numerous occasions, and also on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Of course, The Shield’s “Co-Pilot” remains a cautionary tale....
“Necessary Evil” is a superb example of the breed. Deep Space 9’s past as Terok Nor, the seat of the Cardassian occupation of Bajor, is rife with potential for storytelling, and given that the show started with Kira, Odo, and Quark all knowing each other for some time, it’s fun to see how they all first met.
This episode works beautifully on every level: as a procedural (Odo goes full-on investigator in both the present and the past, and even gets a cute Columbo moment where he just-one-more-things Vaatrik; writer Peter Allan Fields worked on Columbo), as a flashback story that fleshes out the characters (Kira as a terrorist, Odo when he was less sure of himself, Quark when he was—well, exactly the same, really), and as a DS9 episode.
We’re also treated to a deliciously malicious turn by Marc Alaimo as a Dukat who is large and in charge. More than any other episode prior to it, this cements Alaimo’s Dukat as a force to be reckoned with, his oily charm with menace right underneath it, his manipulative skills, and his disdain for Bajorans all on full display. His dismissal of dead bodies in mines as “casualties,” his telling Odo that he should be grateful that he’s different from Bajorans, and so on.
After being forced to thumpher about last week, it’s a pleasure to see Armin Shimerman back in form. The opening with Vaatrik is splendid, setting the noir tone, and also firmly establishing Quark as more than just comic relief: he’s the guy who gets things done, for a price. In addition, Max Grodénchik shines, displaying Rom’s depths without losing the character’s bumbling and desperate need to be accepted, and half-assed attempts to be a proper Ferengi but failing because he really does love his brother. Plus Nana Visitor is her usual fantastic self.
But the episode belongs to Rene Auberjonois. He owns every moment, no matter how many modes the script throws a him: subdued and looking away when he first meets Dukat, growing hesitantly into the role of investigator as he questions Vaatrik and Kira and Quark, his barely restrained impatience when questioning Rom, his much more assured questioning of Vaatrik in her home, and his philosophical ramblings in the log entries that he resents having to do in the first place. (Indeed, his opening monologue where he spends several minutes decrying the notion of a log as a waste of his time before concluding with “Everything’s under control, end log entry” is a tour de force.)
The perfect DS9 story. Everything that’s great about the show is on display here.
Warp factor rating: 10
Keith R.A. DeCandido’s latest book is Ragnarok and Roll: Tales of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet, a collection of urban fantasy short stories taking place in Key West, Florida. Look for more on the book on Tor.com in the coming weeks.