Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “Crossfire”

“Crossfire”
Written by Rene Echevarria
Directed by Les Landau
Season 4, Episode 12
Production episode 40514-485
Original air date: January 29, 1996
Stardate: unknown

Station log: Odo sets everything just so for his Tuesday morning security meeting with Kira, complete with a raktajino for her. One of the items on their agenda is a political agitator who objects to First Minister Shakaar’s upcoming visit to the station. They’re interrupted by Quark, who has a complaint about the noise made by Odo when he shapeshifts around his quarters.

Sisko, Kira, Dax, Bashir, and O’Brien are in their dress uniforms to greet Shakaar on his arrival. (O’Brien wonders why he’s there, since he’s not an officer, and Bashir says the dress uniform shows off his figure, thus sending slash fans into a frenzy. It’s also the only scene for those two and Dax, and I was just waiting for one of them to wail, “But it’s my only line!”) They escort him to the big-ass crowd on the Promenade, and as he goes to make his big speech (Sarish, his aide, reminding him to enunciate), Odo informs Sisko that he’s received intelligence of a planned assassination attempt on Shakaar by the True Way. Odo insists on cancelling his meeting with Federation delegates, but both Sarish and Kira say Shakaar won’t go along with that. He won’t capitulate to threats. Sisko therefore orders security levels to be raised significantly, and Odo asks to use Starfleet security as well as his own Bajoran Militia personnel. Eddington is on leave, so Sisko assigns Worf to head up Starfleet security.

Odo and Worf set up security for Shakaar’s reception in the wardroom—but then Shakaar announces he wants to visit the Promenade and the temple first. He doesn’t realize what a security problem that causes, and Odo has to remind him that he’s first minister now, and he can’t get out of bed without a thousand people knowing about it. Odo escorts Shakaar to the Promenade, where the latter says that because Kira trusts Odo with her life, he’ll trust the constable with his as well. He approaches the temple, meeting and greeting folks the whole time while Odo looks aggressively about.

The reception goes well, with everyone wanting a moment with Shakaar, and Odo staring menacingly and making people nervous (which is his intent). Kira decides to turn in early, at which point Shakaar zeroes in on her, and they go for a walk. Odo insists on securing their stroll, and Shakaar agrees only to allow Odo to shadow them. They have a lively chat as they walk, both being very affectionate with each other.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Crossfire

After the first meeting with Federation delegates, Odo escorts an exasperated and frustrated Shakaar back to his quarters. He wants to accelerate the process of Bajor’s admittance to the Federation, and the delegates are resistant to that notion.

Shakaar invites Odo in and apologizes for making the constable’s job more complicated and expresses his appreciation for his thoroughness. And then, suddenly, it’s high school, as Shakaar asks Odo if Kira likes him likes him, as opposed to likes him. Odo lies and says no, at which point Shakaar says he’s falling in love with her, but he’s worried about saying something and ruining the friendship if she doesn’t reciprocate the feelings, something Odo has absolutely no sympathy for, cough cough.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Crossfire

The next morning, Kira shows up twenty minutes late for the Tuesday meeting with Odo. She spent the morning with Shakaar going over a proposal over raktajino (so she doesn’t even touch the one Odo prepared for her), and then she buggers out early so she can give the first minister a tour of the station—for which Odo is once again escort. On an upper pylon, they see the wormhole open, and Shakaar makes a wish—he leans in to kiss Kira, but Odo’s presence makes him hesitate.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Crossfire

Odo gets a call from Worf saying they need to reroute the turbolift. Odo asks to verify Worf’s security code before handing over control of the turbolift, but he’s distracted by Kira and Shakaar’s happy small talk about food and hands over control anyhow. The ’lift then goes into freefall, and they’re saved only by Odo using his shapeshifting to push the sides of the ’lift outward so they jam against the shaft.

In a meeting with Sisko, Odo admits that he neglected to verify Worf’s security code. Sisko rebukes him, then says that no ships have left the station since the incident, so the perpetrator is still on board. Worf and Odo meet, but Odo barely pays attention to Worf’s technobabble notions for tracking the assassins, and goes off to talk to Kira. However, he arrives at her quarters to find a full security detail there, because Shakaar’s in her quarters. Odo relieves one guard and takes his post.

The door doesn’t open until morning, when Shakaar—who has obviously spent the night, wah hey!—heads off to his quarters (probably to shower) before the next meeting. Shakaar goes off with two guards while Odo enters Kira’s quarters, both to question her further about the turbolift incident and to find out what was pretty obvious from his staying the night: Kira and Shakaar are now a couple. Kira is grateful that Odo’s the first person to know—Odo is, of course, completely devastated.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Crossfire

That devastation is furthered when he goes to his office to see Worf ordering a deputy to take a prisoner away. Said prisoner is the True Way operative, whom Worf caught trying to sabotage the environmental controls via the very technobabble notion he floated earlier. When Odo asks why Worf didn’t call him when he made the arrest, Worf says there was no need. “Your deputies assisted me quite capably. They are well trained. You are to be commended.” The words are meant to be compliments, but they just twist the knife that much more.

Odo goes to his quarters and starts trashing everything. By the time he’s done, his cabin’s a wreck and Quark is standing outside the cabin ringing the doorchime in his jammies. Odo, of course, doesn’t let him in, so Quark uses a purloined access code to enter. Odo barely notices, as he’s lamenting his unrequited love. Quark, being Quark, tells Odo to get his act together—not that he cares about Odo’s personal life, not at all, but it’s affecting his “manhunt pool.” Whenever there’s an unusual crime on the station, Quark runs a pool to bet on how long it’ll take Odo to catch the perpetrator. Odo needs to either tell Kira how he feels or move on with his life. The alternative is no good for the work or for Quark’s profits. Odo, of course, could give a damn about Quark’s profits, and he actually tells Quark that, for a minute, he thought the Ferengi was talking to Odo as a friend. Quark just stares at him, says, “Nah,” and leaves.

So Odo makes a decision. He tells Kira that he wishes to cancel the Tuesday meetings, as they’re not an efficient use of his time. Kira is disappointed, as she enjoyed the meetings, but she gets that he wants to focus on the essentials. Odo also has the floor of his quarters reinforced, which will effectively soundproof the floor. Odo naturally insists that it’s not for Quark’s benefit, but Quark thanks him anyhow. Odo wistfully watches Kira and Shakaar together, then goes off to do his job.

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? The True Way assassin has an isolinear interface, which allows him to sabotage the turbolift, and with which he was attempting to sabotage the environmental controls in Shakaar’s quarters. Worf traces the signal of the latter attempt and captures the bad guy.

Don’t ask my opinion next time: Kira is gobsmacked by her and Shakaar’s relationship. As she tells Odo, he’s seen her go weeks without bathing—after ten years in the resistance together, there are no surprises, and yet here they are.

There is no honor in being pummeled: Worf and Odo have a magnificent scene in which they discuss their love of order and their lack of desire to have people drop by unannounced. It’s a symphony in gruff, misanthropic snark. Odo and Worf have had tense moments, notably in “The Way of the Warrior” and “Hippocratic Oath,” but in this scene you can see them both realizing that they’ve found a kindred spirit in the other as they compare ways to keep people from annoying them.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Crossfire

Preservation of mass and energy is for wimps: For only the second time, Odo allows his feelings for Kira to get in the way of his ability to function as security chief, the other time being in “Heart of Stone.” In the previous episode, though, he was alone in a cave, so the consequences were far less. This time, he nearly gets himself, Shakaar, and Kira killed and stands around with his thumbs in his ears while Worf does his job for him.

Rules of Acquisition: Quark’s quarters are right below Odo’s. According to Odo, his being assigned quarters (a place where he mostly shapeshifts around, making all kinds of noises on the floor) right over Quark and his sensitive ears was not a coincidence. (When Kira expresses surprise that Quark can hear so much, the latter just points to his ears and says, “Hello?”)

For Cardassia! The True Way, which was responsible for the sabotage of the runabout in “Our Man Bashir,” is back and threatening Shakaar. They’ve already succeeded in assassinating two Bajoran officials.

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Your classic love triangle here, with Odo in love with Kira, but Kira in love with Shakaar, with the added knife-twist of Shakaar asking Odo for advice on how to approach Kira, with phrasing that applies to Odo as much as it does to Shakaar in terms of not knowing how the other party feels and of ruining the friendship and such.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Crossfire

Keep your ears open: “Make sure everyone knows they can’t just drop by your quarters to say hello. If someone does, whatever happens, don’t make them feel welcome.”

“Of course not! That would only invite subsequent visits.”

Odo and Worf bonding over their mutual misanthropy.

Welcome aboard: Duncan Regehr returns for the second time as Shakaar, having previously appeared in the character’s eponymous episode, and is now the Bajoran First Minister. Bruce Wright plays Sarish and Charles Tentindo plays Jiminez.

Trivial matters: The potted plant that Odo throws against the wall when he starts to trash his quarters is doubly symbolic, as the pot is the bucket he used to regenerate in, and the flowers inside it were a gift from Kira when he took his own quarters in “The Abandoned.”

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Crossfire

Shakaar ran for First Minister at the end of “Shakaar.” This episode establishes that he won that election.

When Odo is sitting in his trashed quarters, he has a single strand of hair over his face. That was an improvisation by Rene Auberjonois, who wanted to emulate an image from a Japanese print he’d seen of a samurai warrior in defeat. The producers kept it because it symbolized how Odo was falling apart, since his hair wasn’t so much hair as a part of his entire self, as a shapechanger.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Crossfire

Odo temporarily goes back to the belted uniform that he wore from “The Search, Part I” through to “Second Skin” when Kira tells him that she thought it looked good on him, but removes it again by the episode’s end, when her relationship with Shakaar makes it clear that looking good for her isn’t something likely to do him any good.

Walk with the Prophets: “They say to err is human, but you’re not human.” I first noticed Rene Auberjonois when he became a regular on one of my favorite shows as a kid, Benson. And then a few years later, I finally got to see the original MASH movie directed by Robert Altman, from which the long-running TV shows (another of my favorites) spun off of. Auberjonois played Father Mulchahy, nicknamed “Dago Red” in the film, and I was impressed by his versatility. Over the years, I quickly learned that his name in the credits of a TV show or film was a sign that at least one part was going to be brilliantly played, and he has yet to let me down, all the way through to his recent guest turns on Warehouse 13.

Auberjonois is kind of DS9’s secret weapon. Avery Brooks is badass, Nana Visitor is nuanced, Terry Farrell is detailed, Armin Shimerman manages the great balance between comically broad and seriously subtle, Colm Meaney and Alexander Siddig grew into a magnificent double-act, Michael Dorn is the same blunt instrument he was on TNG

And then you’ve got Auberjonois, who isn’t necessarily someone you think of first when you think of DS9, yet like the character he plays, he’s orderly, consistent, brilliant, subtle, and supremely competent. There’s never a wrong note with Odo, whether he’s being his usual self or when he goes out of his comfort zone (like in “The Search, Part I” where he tears Quark a new one).

In this episode he spends most of the hour out of his comfort zone, as the feelings he’s repressed for ages, that he’s only let out once (in “Heart of Stone”—even when Lwaxana confronted him with it in “Fascination,” he never actually admitted it) get thrown in his face watching Shakaar actually have the balls to do what he hasn’t done, which is to not only acknowledge his feelings for Kira, but to do something about it.

To me, the heart of this story is the great scene between Worf and Odo as they compare notes about being orderly and unfriendly. Besides the fact that it’s one of the single funniest scenes in Star Trek history (the sheer disgust in Dorn’s voice when he mentions the possibility of return visits is masterful), it also reinforces the core of Odo’s character—his reserve, his orderliness, his desire for everything to be just so—right before Shakaar and Kira unintentionally rip it all away from him. The episode’s climax sees him tear apart the very quarters he boasted to Worf about, the very quarters whose rearranging of things by a few centimeters by Dax sent him into a tizzy in “Homefront.”

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Crossfire

Naturally, the only person who can even talk to him about this is Quark. Odo’s desire is for order above all else, and his job is to maintain order on the Promenade, so his job gets to also be his hobby. Because he’s so good at his job, and because he never lets anyone inside his personal life (which is why he’s in this mess in the first place, since he can’t figure out how to even tell Kira how he feels), the person who knows him best is the person he’s constantly butting heads with in his job.

What’s most amazing about this episode is how little Auberjonois’s facial expressions change, yet the slightest alteration in his eyes, in his mouth, in his body language speaks volumes. Les Landau deserves a lot of credit, too, as he blocks the scenes so that Auberjonois looks shorter as the episode progresses—part of that is the actor’s own body language, slumping more, but compare the three Worf-Odo scenes in the latter’s office. The first has them on an equal plane; the second has Odo sitting while Worf is standing, so Odo is choosing to be on the lower plane; the third has them both standing again, but Worf looks like he’s a foot taller than Odo, thanks in part to Auberjonois’s posture and in part due to camera angles, but it’s tremendously effective at showing Odo’s breakdown.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Crossfire

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Crossfire

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Crossfire

The theme of unrequited love is a popular one for a reason, and many of us have been in Odo’s position in the past: loving someone who does not return that love, made all the worse by the object of your affection considering you a close friend. There is nothing more agonizing than having feelings for someone that isn’t reciprocated to the same degree by the other party, and Auberjonois plays that agony magnificently.

 

Warp factor rating: 9


Keith R.A. DeCandido will be co-running a writers workshop sponsored by the I-Con convention tomorrow, the 8th of March, in downtown Manhattan, alongside fellow author Laura Anne Gilman and writing professor Joan Digby. Click here for more info.

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