Odo: I can think of about five hundred different people.
I think, one way or another, all our characters are turning out to be misfits. In this episode, we're learning a lot about old and budding relationships: Sisko and Dax, Quark and Odo, Miles and Keiko, Jake and Nog, and nearly everyone has some sort of cameo for connections. We also watch as our budding team learn to work together.
Odo and Quark open the show with sniping comments about "coupling" while watching the O'Briens. I instantly became worried about Miles and Keiko. Moving is one of the most stressful things to impact any relationship. This challenge apparently continues in the 24th century as they move from the Enterprise to Deep Space 9. Miles defined himself in "Emissary" as a Scotty- or LaForge-level engineer, capable of getting damaged stations to fly. He's not just a transporter man anymore. Keiko is struggling for a similar type of self-definition, and she's already been established in ST:TNG as a figure and force to be reckoned with.
Am I the only one who doesn't like Bashir's character? I think Siddig El Fadil's adorable-looking - it's like looking at a very medical little tribble - but the character of Bashir frankly frustrated me in this episode and in "Emissary." He's very pushy with Dax, despite her repeated claims of noninterest. Though I enjoy Dax's repeated, intelligent strategies for smacking Julian down, I have to wonder: how does all this fit into the Star Trek universe? Is Sisko interested in Dax? The whole moving-past-grieving arc we saw in "Emissary" with Jennifer made me, like Bashir, wonder for a minute. But Sisko really seems far more interested in Dax as a friend. I am falling in love with Avery Brooks as an actor; when he looks at Dax, you see him looking at Curzon Dax, not Jadzia. He pulls this off successfully through this episode, and almost seems to become fatherly to Bashir, towards the end. Good, maybe he can fix Bashir's personality.
I wasn't totally convinced by Odo's attack on Ibudan–although without that, there wouldn't have been cause for much of the subsequent suspicion. I'm much more convinced initially by Sisko's professional response. But then the tables are turned and I become more convinced by Odo's relentless searching and less convinced by Sisko sort of letting his own hands be tied and accepting what looks like the most obvious frame-up job ever (would Ibudan have made an appointment with someone who'd just attacked him? A little lame there, Sisko. Go back to looking at Curzon.)
A great episode which continued to establish the setting began in "Emissary;" we are starting to see the diversity in the Bajoran population and perspectives, see how the sector is changing... and, through Keiko O'Brien, a real education about the peoples and profits–and Prophets–in the sector. (As a teacher, I love and appreciate her positive attitude!) "A Man Alone" also succeeded in building the necessary relationships between characters; it becomes clear that Odo isn't alone quite quickly. I watched this episode twice. I was thrown off by the weird clone business the first time; the second time, I was startled by how well everything hung together.
(h/t Billie for the Prophets pun!)
Bits and Pieces:
Forget Game of Thrones. Ibudan's alien masseuse was pretty frisky.
The original practical joke - itching powder - gets taken a step further with color-changing alien mites. I guess the classics never fail. Good on the guard for catching the kids so quickly.
Continuity: I kept wondering why wouldn't the holodeck or the station have any records of people's movements? But it makes sense: Quark's holodecks are private; the Cardassians destroyed a lot of technology. As a vehicle for showing how the people on the station feel about Odo, the plot was very effective. As an enforcer of Cardassian law, he'd naturally become associated with Cardassian oppression.
Fashion woes: Nog looks like he's wearing a blouse my grandmother bought last week. I refuse to try to describe Jake's outfit. It's brown. It's like Oliver Twist in space. Okay, I tried.
Interesting watching Dax and Bashir working. Apparently his social awkwardness is balanced by highly intelligent, skillful work. Dax seems to respect this and work well with him despite his repeated and unwanted advances.
The schoolbell. Archaic, but cute!
A great episode for smiles; Sisko's grin when he sees Keiko leading her first class is off the charts genuine. Quark's smile when he hands Odo information about Ibudan is ridiculously awesome.
Quark: You've never... coupled?
Odo: Choose not to. Too many compromises. You want to watch the karo-net tournament. She wants to listen to music. So you compromise. You listen to music. You like earth jazz, she likes Klingon opera. So you compromise. You watch Klingon opera. So here you were ready to have a nice night watching the karo-net match and you wind up spending an agonizing evening listening to Klingon opera.
Dax: Steamed azna would put years on your life.
Sisko: Dax, I don't want years on my life if I can only eat steamed azna. Sauteed... rolloped, fricasseed. Fine. (laughs) But not steamed.
Quark: Nobody knows him like I know him. Let me tell you something. He's a ill-tempered overbearing crosspatch. But he was no Cardassian collaborator–and he's no killer.