Rewatcher’s note: Due to a massive deadline on the 28th, the Fourth Season Overview will be postponed until Tuesday the 29th, with the fifth season kicking off with “Apocalypse Rising” on the 2nd of May.
Written by George Brozak and Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by Les Landau
Season 4, Episode 25
Production episode 40514-498
Original air date: June 17, 1996
Station log: Garak lures Odo to his shop to try to set him up with Chalan Aroya, who runs a new Bajoran restaurant. She’s obviously interested—Odo obviously isn’t. Suddenly, in mid-conversation, he has a seizure and collapses, with parts of him reverting to liquid form as he convulses.
Bashir doesn’t know much about changeling physiology—no one does—but he does have other previous scans of Odo, and his mass and density are different from what they normally are when he’s in humanoid form, and in a state of flux.
In the wardroom, Sisko, Kira, Worf, and Dax watch a recording made by Gowron refusing to give up the Cardassian colonies they’ve annexed, and also demanding that the Federation abandon the Archanis sector. The Klingons gave up their claim on Archanis four centuries ago, so Sisko assumes Gowron is saber-rattling. Either way, war is looking inevitable.
Kira brings Odo a criminal activities report by way of cheering him up. Unfortunately, that leads him to leave the infirmary and go after a smuggler—only to collapse into a pile of goo. He manages to get back to the infirmary, but he’s no longer able to completely hold a humanoid shape. Bashir’s tests indicate that he’s destabilizing. Bashir mentions the possibility of sending him to Dr. Mora or to Starfleet Medical, but Odo knows that his only chance now is to go to the Founders.
Sisko’s plan is to take Odo to the Gamma Quadrant in the Defiant and broadcast a signal to the Founders explaining their intentions. Garak asks to come along to the GQ because he wants to determine if there were any survivors of the massacre of the Obsidian Order/Tal Shiar fleet. Sisko agrees only if Garak will also keep Odo’s mind off his condition by distracting him with innuendo, half-truths, and vague comments about his past (which works wonders).
The plan works, as dozens of Jem’Hadar ships show up and surround the Defiant. The female changeling and four Jem’Hadar beam aboard. The female changeling says she wishes to help Odo also, and offers to take Odo with her. Sisko wishes to accompany Odo, but the female changeling is unwilling to reveal the location of the Founders’ new homeworld. They compromise by having a Jem’Hadar pilot the Defiant, while using a doodad to erase all navigation data.
The female changeling visits Odo in the medical bay. She links with Odo, which ameliorates the problem, though it doesn’t cure him, and then she speaks to him in private. Odo quickly realizes that the Founders were the ones who gave him this virus, by way of getting him to return to the Great Link—but not just for the sake of bringing him home, but so he can stand trial for the death of the Krajensky changeling. If Odo refuses to join the Great Link and be judged, the virus will kill him—the female changeling was only able to stabilize him temporarily.
The female changeling assures Garak that all the Cardassians in the Omarian Nebula were killed—and that every Cardassian will be killed for their actions against them. Garak is, to say the least, nonplussed.
Sisko, Worf, and O’Brien try to figure out a way to keep tabs on Odo while he’s in the Link, but Odo himself interrupts them and says that he doesn’t want them to. He’s spent his life in pursuit of justice—now that he’s the one who’s committed a crime, he can’t turn away now.
They arrive at the new Founder homeworld. Sisko and Bashir accompany the female changeling and Odo to the surface. The latter two enter the Link, Odo actually smiling at Sisko and Bashir before he goes in.
Worf discovers Garak trying to gain control of the Defiant weapons systems. His goal is to wipe out the Founders homeworld, which would kill Sisko, Bashir, and Odo as well, and likely lead to the deaths of everyone on the Defiant once their rather large Jem’Hadar escort discovers what they’re doing, but to Garak’s mind it would be worth it. Worf disagrees and takes him down.
The Link ejects a naked Odo. Bashir scans him and discovers that he’s now human—with a respiratory system, a cardiovascular system, and all the rest. He still has the unfinished facial features he had before, though. His punishment, according to the female changeling, is to be a solid. Sisko, Bashir, and Odo beam up, and Bashir confirms that he’s human.
When they return to the station, Garak provides Odo with a new uniform, and then Odo arrests Garak for his sabotage (he’s been sentenced to six months in a holding cell).
Despite still getting headaches and adjusting to eating and drinking and sleeping, and despite still seeing flashes of things he experienced in the Link, Odo insists on going back to work. When he was in the Link, he was finally home, and then it was ripped away from him. His job as chief of security is all he has left.
Gowron sends a message on all frequencies to all Federation bases, announcing that he’s sending a task force to Archanis to take it back. Upon seeing Gowron’s face, Odo realizes that one of the things he saw in the Link was Gowron’s face.
Chancellor Gowron is a changeling.
To be continued…next season…
The Sisko is of Bajor: Sisko goes to great lengths to help Odo, risking himself and the Defiant numerous times—yet there’s never any sense that he is at risk. Even when he’s not at all in control of the situation, he seems to be, and there’s no doubt that he’s with Odo to the end and that he’ll get him back home.
Don’t ask my opinion next time: Now that she’s carrying the O’Brien fetus, Kira is subject to major sneezing fits, which is common for pregnant Bajoran women. Every time she has a sneezing fit, the officers around her wager on how many. (In Act 1, Sisko wins with eight. Dax picked seven, Worf picked ten.)
The slug in your belly: Worf asks Sisko if Dax’s previous host was as argumentative as Jadzia is, and Sisko says he was worse. Dax response is, “Thanks—I think.”
Preservation of mass and energy is for wimps: In “The Search, Part II,” Odo finally found his people and then was devastated to discover they were bastards. In “The Die is Cast,” Odo admitted to Garak that his greatest desire was to return home to his people despite their being bastards. In this episode, he gets an object lesson in getting what you wish for, as he does return to the Great Link, finds it to be even more awesome than expected, and then has it, and his shapeshifting ability, yanked away from him.
Rules of Acquisition: Quark confidently tells Odo that he expects to own the station by the time Odo gets back from the GQ, which is by way of getting an assurance from Odo that he will be coming back. It’s as close to a declaration of concern as Quark is likely to give his nemesis.
There is no honor in being pummeled: Worf discovers Garak’s attempt at sabotage. Garak at first tries to appeal to Worf’s Klingon-ness, but he’s a warrior, not a murderer, and not about to commit genocide, taking his captain and crew with him. So Garak tries to break free and actually puts up a good fight for a minute—one suspects that Worf was more surprised than anything. However, Worf is able to take him down in short order, with the comment, “You fight well—for a tailor.”
Plain, simple: Garak worked as a gardener at the Cardassian embassy on Romulus for a time. By a startling coincidence, several Romulan dignitaries died under mysterious circumstances that year…
Victory is life: It’s taken so long for the Founders to take action against Odo because, as has been stated several times, no changeling has ever harmed another. This is new ground for them, and there’ve been a lot of arguments in the Great Link over how to proceed. They eventually decided on Trial By Communal Goo.
Tough little ship: The Defiant travels in the Gamma Quadrant while uncloaked, prompting O’Brien to say that it’s like being naked. Sisko and Worf agree, leading Dax to smile and say she’s amused by being in the presence of so many naked men.
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: The owner of the new Bajoran restaurant flirts outrageously with Odo on two occasions. Odo is less than receptive the first time, vaguely intrigued the second.
Keep your ears open: “Odo values his privacy. He does not like to…socialize.”
“I think it’s all an act.”
“It is not an act. He told me so himself.”
“But you were socializing with him when he said it.”
Worf insisting that Odo be left alone, and Dax disagreeing.
Welcome aboard: Recurring regulars Andrew J. Robinson, Salome Jens, and Robert O’Reilly are back as Garak, the female changeling, and Gowron, respectively, while Leslie Bevis makes her third and final appearance as Rionoj (she’s named for the first time in the episode’s script). Jill Jacobson plays Chalan.
Trivial matters: The Founders finally punish Odo for his killing of another changeling in “The Adversary.” He will remain as a “solid” until “The Begotten” next season.
This marks the third opening-credits regular who’s been exiled from his own people this season. First Worf in “The Way of the Warrior,” then Quark in “Body Parts,” and now Odo. Plus we’ve got recurring regulars Garak and Dukat, both exiled from Cardassia (the latter by his own choice).
The script for “To the Death” had Weyoun clapping Odo on the shoulder, which is supposed to be when Odo was infected with the disease that leads him to the Great Link in this episode. The way the scene was shot, you can’t really see Weyoun’s shoulder-clap, however. In addition, it will be established during the seventh season that Odo was given a morphogenic virus by Section 31 back in “Homefront,” and it is his link with the other changelings in this episode that transmits that virus to the rest of the Founders.
Chalan was intended to be a new recurring character and possible love interest for Odo in the fifth season, but the producers weren’t happy with Jill Jacobson’s chemistry with Rene Auberjonois.
The female changeling in essence lies twice to Garak. First she says there were no Cardassian survivors following the attack in “The Die is Cast,” and she also says that the Dominion will destroy Cardassia in retaliation. Both will prove to be false in “By Inferno’s Light” and “In Purgatory’s Shadow.”
Garak’s time at the Cardassian embassy of Romulus will be detailed in Andrew J. Robinson’s Garak “autobiography,” A Stitch in Time. He previously mentioned in the last episode, “Body Parts,” that he was a gardener before he was a tailor. His six-month sentence will be up shortly prior to “Things Past” next season.
Walk with the Prophets: “He is one of you now.” This is one of those episodes I had very little memory of the details of until I saw it again, and realized it was another one (like, for example, “The Collborator”) that was more important for what it established than what it accomplished as an episode.
In terms of the former, this is big stuff. Odo’s committed a crime that allegedly has never been committed in the entire history of changeling-hood. (A claim I find impossible to credit, but the Founders aren’t exactly a race that values truthiness…) His punishment is just brutal, though probably not for the reasons the Founders think. The female changeling’s lament that perhaps they should have just killed him is mostly because she finds the notion of being in one shape all the time to be agony. But that’s not Odo’s punishment, it’s that he’s finally home and then he has it torn away in more ways than one. Shapechanging isn’t really a major part of Odo’s life (although that’s partly an artifact of budget, as they have to limit the number of times they can use CGI morphing on a TV budget), but far worse was to give him heart’s desire for a few hours and then make it clear that he’ll never ever have it again.
It’s funny, the female changeling says that it might be their fault for sending him away the way they did 99 other baby changelings, and she’s correct except for the word “might.” It shouldn’t really be a surprise that having them come to maturity in isolation might lead to crap like this.
It takes for-bloody-ever to get to Odo’s fate. We’re left without a real B-plot, unless you count Garak’s wholly out-of-character and out-of-left-field attempt to commit a murder/suicide with the Defiant. Garak is a spy, he’s the type of guy who engages in poison or transporter accidents (as he discusses with Odo when babbling about his past as a “gardener”), not blowing up a planet while surrounded by dozens of hostile ships. That’s a Dukat move or (as we’ll later see) a Damar move, not a Garak move. And it just comes across as pointless filler because there’s not enough story here to fill the hour.
You might count the Gowron stuff as a B-plot, but that’s just one scene at the beginning that’s not even referenced again until the chancellor’s ultimatum at the end—and that’s all really just there to set up the season-five premiere, it has very little to do with this episode at all.
And so instead the Odo story just meanders forward. It doesn’t even have the usual tension of a medical drama, since Bashir’s entire treatment strategy consists of staring at the screen and going, “Hoo boy, yeah, that molecular structure sure is destabilizing a lot!” We get lots of fun banter among the crew (like O’Brien bitching about Kira and Keiko going quiet on him as soon as he enters their now-shared quarters) but, again, it comes across as filler.
Watching Odo adjust to being a solid will make for a good ongoing subplot in the fifth season, and the bombshell at the end is magnificent—Gowron’s been a recurring character on two shows for six years now, so Odo’s last line hits very hard—but all of that is setup for future stories. This particular episode is about fifteen minutes’ worth of interesting story stretched out into an hour.
Warp factor rating: 6
Keith R.A. DeCandido will be at TrekTrax Atlanta 2014 this weekend where, among other things, he’ll be debuting The Klingon Art of War. Other guests include actors Arlene Martel (T’Pring in “Amok Time”), Jeremy Roberts (Valtane in Star Trek VI and “Flashback”), and Felix Silla (Twiki in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century); artists Heather Hausenfleck and Mark Wright; radio personality Dan Carroll; makeup artist Dale Morton; puppeteers Felt Nerdy and Death by Puppets; musicians Go, Robo, Go! and Hyperspace; performance artists The Spirit of Broadway and Betsy Goodrich (a.k.a. Danger Woman); and various folks involved with the Star Trek: Phase II, Starship Farragut, Exeter Trek, Star Trek: Reliant, and Project: Potemkin fan series. Keith’s schedule can be found here.