“When I go home, it will be to Bajor.”
— Captain Benjamin Sisko
Long-time viewers were probably disturbed a bit by Odo’s abrupt turn to evil last week. I know it disturbed me back when I was originally watching the show. Though Garak was my favorite character overall, Odo was always up there with Kira as my favorite among the regulars. So, to watch this man, who has never been anything but a paragon of justice, suddenly turn to tacitly supporting the Dominion’s tyrannical rule and condemning poor Rom to the firing squad was disturbing.
Here’s the thing: I think Odo has an excellent reason for this, but it’s largely hidden in the subtext of the show. In this episode, Odo is spending all his time in his room with the Female Changeling linking like crazy. He’s basically just gotten his first college girlfriend and has learned that sex is available pretty much whenever. You can hardly blame the guy for going a little nuts.
The most important revelation, though, occurs during what feels like a minor scene. We come in directly after Odo and the Female Changeling have had sex. Solid sex. She laments it, calling it a poor reflection of the kind of intimacy you experience in the link. To her, the fact that Odo craves this kind of thing is a sad reflection of his solitary life. She understands, though, as she was going a little crazy herself without the Great Link, and so had to seek out Odo.
Which is the entire point. Humans are social animals, and the vast majority of Trek aliens follow that basic outline. Humans are so social, in fact, that if you place us in solitary confinement, we go completely insane, to the point of self harm or even suicide. Turns out we need social interaction of some kind. Our brains are wired to crave it, and without it, they turn in on themselves in a destructive way. In a Changeling’s natural state, they are part of a vast ocean of instant connectivity, sharing thoughts, ideas, emotions, and experiences. If a Changeling is wired to need this level of intimacy, imagine the damage that could be done to one who couldn’t get that. Odo has been in his race’s equivalent of solitary confinement since he was blasted into space, with only a few moments of respite. Now, it doesn’t feel like his obsession with linking is a sudden, out-of-character moment, but an inevitable time bomb that managed to go off at the worst possible time.
Odo is only one focus of this episode, though. He spends most of the time with the Female Changeling, and he appears content in his new existence. It isn’t until she starts talking about the solids on the Promenade that he changes his mind. At first, it’s relatively mild imperialist blather, about the solids needing guidance rather than pity. It isn’t until she makes an offhand remark about them needing to be “broken” of their love of freedom that Odo rejoins Kira, begging for her forgiveness. It was just the wake up call Odo needed, and he can go back to being the constable we know and love.
Kira is having problems of her own. Damar, Dukat’s adjutant, pretty much hates her. He doesn’t have Dukat’s blind spot either, and so has suspicions she’s involved in the Resistance. Because of course she is. This time their struggle is centered around Ziyal. After they have a falling out when Dukat refuses her emotional plea for Rom’s life, Dukat has the bright idea of sending Damar to convince Ziyal to talk to him. This is sort of like sending a Klingon to run your couple’s therapy group, or asking a Vulcan to front a thrash metal band. Damar (probably half drunk) tries to physically drag Ziyal to see her father, and this gives Kira the excuse she was looking for to beat seven shades of hell out of him. Hilariously, when Damar shows up with bruises on his face, Dukat (correctly) blames him, demanding to know what he did.
Weyoun, this whole time, can’t believe he’s the only adult on the station. There are tons of excellent Weyoun moments, which is half writing and half Jeffrey Combs. From a continuity standpoint, we learn a lot of interesting trivia about Vorta. For example, they have no genetic ability to appreciate any kind of art: “Would this be more aesthetically pleasing if it were blue?” a helpless Weyoun asks Kira of one of Ziyal’s paintings. We also learn that Vorta have bad eyes, but good ears. Weyoun would really like Dukat to stop concentrating on a family squabble and maybe think about how they should be getting the minefield down. Which will happen in a week — far earlier than anyone imagined.
The Resistance — Kira, Jake, and Quark — get the warning out in a truly ingenious way: Morn. Yep, the silent barfly who has been there since the pilot, is leaving to go to his mom’s birthday. The Resistance hides a coded message in the ribbon of one of the gifts, and when Sisko gets it, he tells Admiral Ross, “I’ve known the courier for five years. I trust him.” I love how this show manages to find a way for Morn to become instrumental to the plot.
This means that Sisko’s plan to retake DS9, which was going to require three Federation fleets and help from the Klingons, has to get underway now. One of the three fleets won’t get there in time, and Gowron is reluctant to commit that many forces to a single attack. No one is getting that the wormhole — and by extension Bajor and DS9 — is the key to the Alpha Quadrant.
As for Bajor, Sisko reveals a deeper connection to the world than we’ve previously seen. It’s probably been growing inside of him these past five or so years, but he has begun to think of it as home. He speaks poetically of its beauty and plans to retire there eventually. I can only assume the locals will be thrilled to have the Emissary close by.
The two fleets head for DS9 under Sisko’s command, ready to throw down with whatever the Dominion has for them. That turns out to be a lot, as the Dominion’s excellent spy network has already informed them of the incoming ships. They pull together a fleet of 1254 vessels, which outnumbers Starfleet’s forces two-to-one.
As the Defiant closes in, Sisko sends a message to the entire fleet: “There’s an old saying. Fortune favors the bold. I guess we’re about to find out.”
Next up: We find out.