Remembering René Auberjonois: 8 Essential Odo Episodes of Deep Space Nine

Star Trek fans got some sad news on December 8 when it was reported that actor René Auberjonois had passed away at the age of 79. His career as an actor included starring roles on Broadway, voice acting in Disney’s The Little Mermaid, and of course, his memorable role on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as the shapeshifting changeling Constable Odo.

As fans and colleagues express their love and admiration for the life and career of Auberjonois, Trek fans are probably yearning to rewatch his greatest DS9 hits. Every single episode featuring Odo on Deep Space Nine allowed Star Trek to explore the concept of the Other and Othering in brave new ways. And thanks to Auberjonois’ thoughtful portrayal, Odo was more than just a collection of head-scratching sci-fi metaphors. He was, in many ways, Star Trek’s greatest alien.

As we all mourn the death of Rene Auberjonois, it can also be a moment to celebrate what made his work so wonderful. It’s nearly impossible to select every single fantastic Odo episode of Deep Space Nine (nearly every episode centering on Odo is brilliant), here are a few starting points that come to mind.

(And just in case you’ve never seen these, or you want your rewatch to be more surprising, I’ll avoid spoilers in these descriptions!)

 

Credit: CBS

A Man Alone” Season 1, Episode 3

This very early DS9 episode sometimes gets overlooked because the later seasons were where the fandom really took hold and the mythology of Odo’s background started to coalesce. But, as the title suggests, this episode really makes it clear what an isolated character Odo is relative to the rest of the DS9 crew.

 

Credit: CBS

Necessary Evil” Season 2, Episode 8

The fact that Odo was the head of security on space station Deep Space Nine before the Federation came to watch over the station, and in fact, worked for the Cardassians, is part of what makes the character really interesting. In this episode, DS9 shows us how weird that was, and exactly why Odo did what he did back in those days. Odo is certainly a hero, but this episode is great at demonstrating some of the more explicitly grey aspects of his life before the series began.

 

Credit: CBS

Fascination” Season 3, Episode 10

In The Next Generation, Lwaxana Troi—Federation ambassador and mother to Deanna Troi—was always flirting aggressively with Captain Picard (culminating in…this amazing scene). But, in DS9, she notably switches to Odo and the pairing of works in an astoundingly sensitive way. While Patrick Stewart’s Picard was just kind of stolid and annoyed with Troi’s advances, Auberjonois’ Odo used the pairing to expose just how emotionally vulnerable Odo is and how sensitive and caring Lwaxana can really be. The episode greatly enhances both characters, and you can never look at either of them quite the same way again.

 

Credit: CBS

Facets” Season 3, Episode 25

This episode lets Auberjonois really show you what a phenomenal actor he really is, mostly because, throughout the entire episode, he’s not really Odo. “Facets” starts off as a Dax episode: Jadzia wants all of her buddies to experience memories from her past selves. But it’s when the memories of Curzon Dax—the voracious and life-loving Trill host immediately preceding Jadzia—merge with Odo that things get interesting. Being another person forces Odo to face some serious questions about how much he’s cutting himself off from truly exploring the choices he has made. Is Odo REALLY living, or just getting by? It’s a question we all face at some point.

 

Homefront” and “Paradise Lost” Season 4, Episodes 11 and 12  

A classic DS9 two-parter, this episode deals with the choices between war, freedom, and paranoia, and Odo’s very existence, as the sole representative of the species that the Federation is at war with, serves as the confluence of all of these themes. (To say anything more would be a bit spoilery, so I’ll leave it at that!)

 

Credit: CBS

Broken Link”  Season 4, Episode 26

Without getting into spoilers, this episode changes who and what Odo is for a good chunk of the series. It’s an essential episode because it gives Odo a conflict that is essentially unsolvable. In order to make peace with his people, he also has to understand why they hate “solids” so much. From a big, plot-arc perspective, this episode sets-up a lot of stuff that changes the shape of the last three seasons of DS9, but people forget that this episode is more than table-setting. It’s one of Auberjonois’ best turns in all of Trek.

 

Credit: CBS

The Begotten” Season 5, Episode 12

How do you raise a miniature version of yourself when you have no confidence in how you were raised? Especially when you can be almost anything you want to be? The episode is also smartly paired with the impending birth of Keiko and Miles O’Brien’s second child and these narrative parallels are not an accident. The episode builds on Odo’s struggle to understand where he comes from and what it means to be a Changeling.

 

Credit: CBS

His Way” Season 6, Episode 20

One could fill an entire list with episodes or moments that defined Odo’s unrequited love for Major Kira, but of all these story moments, “His Way” is the best. In fact, in some ways, you could start your Odo-centric DS9 rewatch with this episode. This one isn’t about space wars or secrets or anything like that; it’s simply about Odo taking advice from a charming hologram (Vic Fontaine) in order to try and win the affections of Kira. It’s a brilliant little script and, even if your heart made of stone, watching this episode will turn it as gooey as Odo is when he has to regenerate in his bucket.

Ryan Britt is a longtime contributor to Tor.com and the author of the book Luke Skywalker Can’t Read and Other Geeky Truths (Plume 2015.) His other writing and criticism have been published in InverseSyFy WireVulture, Den of Geek!the New York Times, and StarTrek.com. He is an editor at Fatherly. Ryan lives with his wife and daughter in Portland, Maine.

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