I. Love. Majel. Barrett.
This episode's about the expanding reach of Deep Space Nine, as ambassadors from all over the Galaxy swarm in for a bit of this and that, but definitely no sojourns in those tacky Ferengi holosuites. As she definitely doesn’t try her hand at Dabo, a certain Daughter of the Fifth House, Heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed, currently wigged in pink, finds her brooch stolen. The mystery’s solved by Odo, who promptly makes Lwaxana forget Picard… and begins an epic chase the likes of which will not be witnessed again soon (unless you read Q-in-Law, the Trek novel by Peter David.)
It’s also an episode about a frustrated engineer, once again facing computer problems. When he faces the futuristic version of the Blue Screen of Death, he wants to begin reprogramming and install Yosemite. But Sisko is concerned this’ll shut down the station overnight, forcing people to check DS9mail on their chest-phones. A strange ship comes through the wormhole, alarming the station. “Are our computers compatible?” Sisko asks, proving he might know more than he admitted to O’Brien, and definitely more than the writers of Independence Day. Or does he? Ignoring annoying ambassadors, he immediately… asks people to download information from the unknown probe. The magnitude of the stupidity here! I was yelling DON'T OPEN THAT ATTACHMENT!
It’s also a story about the heart of a shapeshifter. Odo’s desperate bid for romantic advice from Sisko is a great moment. Odo being alone has had some consequences; one of these is an unexplored well of loneliness and a bunch of walls. Who better than a Betazed to take down those walls? Every one of Majel Barrett’s lines in this episode is an unexplored gem. She decides to trap Odo into a response; at this moment, the station stops responding. It’s still working - just not letting people control it. And Odo and the Holy Ring Heir are literally trapped together in the elevator.
Thanks, Sisko, for downloading alien crap.
Barrett and Auberjois have great energy. And Barrett, for all her prattle, gets Odo’s walls down. We learn he grew up at a research center, that his looks are molded on a particular Bajoran. We learn about his loneliness. We learn he did tricks… I feel a lot of empathy for Odo. He finally opens up to Barrett in a way he’s opened up to nobody else… and she opens up to him. And it’s painful and it’s honest and the whole scene just works.
O’Brien, Sisko and the crew try to wrench control back but wind up making things worse; they cause chaos all over the station as the alien mind strikes back. Ambassadors’ lives are in peril. The final solution saves the station and many people, but leaves the question of what will happen to the “pup” in the future. Hopefully it’ll help our erstwhile Engineer. The life-saving certainly helped the reputation of Dr. Bashir.
And Odo? I think he finally had a real human connection, instead of making the appearance of one.
Bits and pieces
When Lwaxana grabs Quark by the ears and tries to force him to hunt down the thief.
|Don't. Touch. The. Gems.|
The presence of Anara, another technician, was cool. Often in ST:TNG it seemed like five people were running a ship of thousands. When the show expanded to include the second rank, like Barclay and O’Brien, it matured to a new level. We’re seeing this happen earlier in DS9.
O'Brien seems to need problems to solve. He's frustrated when he has his everyday work. I think he's been spoiled by the variation he saw on the Enterprise.
Lwaxana: We've learned that on this station, you are the thin beige line between order and chaos.
Odo: That's my job. Now, what can I do for you? You haven't lost anything else, I hope.
Lwaxana: Only my heart.
Odo: I beg your pardon?
Lwaxana: I understand you're a shape-shifter.
Odo: That's correct.
Lwaxana: I've never been with a shape-shifter.
Odo: Been with?
Odo: That's her. There was a minor incident at the bar that I helped her with, and now she's grateful.
Sisko: What's the problem?
Odo: The manner in which she expresses her gratitude. To be honest, Commander, she seems interested in me.
Sisko: What's wrong with that?
Odo: She's extremely aggressive.
Sisko: I see. So, she's after you.
Odo: Like a Wanoni tracehound.
Sisko: Have you thought of letting her catch you?
Sisko: A little romance, Odo.
Odo: I have six pylons that need a complete security sweep. I don't have time for romantic interludes.
Odo: Madame Ambassador.
Odo: I don't eat. This is not a real mouth, it is an approximation of one. I do not have an esophagus or a stomach or a digestive system. I am not like you. Every sixteen hours, I turn into a liquid.
Lwaxana: I can swim.
Lwaxana: My daughter and I were once trapped aboard a Ferengi cargo ship and it was dreadful. Well, all right, it wasn't actually dreadful, it was mildly lamentable. And it was all because of that loathsome Daimon. Well, actually he wasn't altogether loathsome. He was just slightly repulsive. But he did have a certain charm, in an insufferable sort of way. Of course he was totally at the mercy of his uncontrollable passion for me, which means he wasn't all bad now, doesn't it? You know, it wasn't all passion. There was some... negligible commercial interest involved, but oh, the passion, that was perfectly real, and kind of sweet, in a way. He was so helpless. At first it was totally a question of expediency when I made love with him. What are you looking at?
Odo: (taking a deep breath) Hmm? Oh nothing. I was just wondering how many volts are in that exposed circuit. Go on, go on.