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Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Vortex

One of the twinned Miradorns fires at Croden
Quark: "Paranoia must run in your species, Odo."

High-paced action gives us a glimpse into the mind and heart of our Chief Security officer.

I loved the pace, placement and plotting of this episode, and, as with "The Nagus," it's becoming clear that DS9 is going to function best in these amazingly large, dramatic space opera venues. In this situation an intergalactic criminal/refugee crosses Odo's path–and just so happens to have an item which seems verifiably connected to Odo's origins, a shape-changing key.

The semi sub-plot of the week revolves around the two men who are chasing Croden: twinned Miradorns, one of whom is killed by Croden during hot pursuit. The other vows eternal and undying revenge–but once in Odo's custody, Croden also falls under Odo's protection. The Miradorns begin to harangue the DS9 staff for access to the prisoner so he can provide the quietus, but Odo refuses.

Our villain of the week does his best to be the vortex of the episode's title to draw in Odo's interest, get help and go free, and Odo does his very best not to be drawn in. Whatever a "changeling" is, and whatever qualities are unique to Changelings (I bet just about as many as are unique to humans, and we're a pretty diverse race) Odo is the very model of a post-modern major general: simply unable to be bribed, even with a very personal bit of bait dangling in front of his nose. Events draw him in anyway, and after defeating the Miradorns, they go to the purported home of the Changelings. And although the eventual "Oops, I lied," from Croden is predictable, I still felt for Odo, and thought Auberjonois did a great job at characterization.

Odo's choice at the end is the only false note ringing in this episode, for me. I think it would have been far more in character for Odo to insist on Croden returning to Rakhar to face justice. Maybe Croden's constant playing on Odo's sympathies at being alone in the world finally had some success.

I'd also have liked to have seen a bit more of the rest of the command staff. I don't want Odo to become DS9's version of Data. We did see Sisko and the rest attempting to delay the Miradorns, but that amounted to one scene where they said "We need to stop them. Whoops, they're gone. Damn!" Really effective work, guys. In a situation like this, however, the Federation has no power, so: that's okay. But aren't they, too, just as curious about Odo and these changelings?

Bits and pieces

I loved the special effect of the key. Cool!

The shape-shifting purple crystalline key.

A great episode for special effects: Odo reforming from a glass looked awesome. Again, WHERE DID HIS MASS GO? Wouldn't it have been a very HEAVY glass? But then, Rom did seem to be somewhat stooped.

The actor who played Croden, Cliff DeYoung, was apparently also on the X-Files pilot.


Croden: If I had his talents, I would have no problems at all. I've never heard of a changeling with such versatility.
Odo: A what?
Croden: A changeling, like you.
Odo: You've heard of other shapeshifters in the Gamma Quadrant?
Croden: Haven't they come through the wormhole yet? I assumed when I saw you–
Odo: It's a lie. He heard me talking in the bar to Quark.
Croden: Well, maybe I dissemble a little. Lie is a hard word. But shape-shifters are harsh in their judgements. Feed me, and maybe I'll tell you where I met someone just like you.

Bashir: It's an amalgam of organic material and some sort of crystal.
Odo: You mean it's alive?
Bashir: More or less. It's almost like a transitional stage between organic and inorganic matter. I've only seen one life form that even remotely resembles it.
Odo: Me.
Bashir: In a way, this stone might qualify as a distant cousin of yours.


Three and a half out of four crystalline purple shape-changing keys! A rocking episode.


  1. Odo is a FAR more nuanced character than Data ever dreamed of being. All in all, DS9 is my favorite Trek and all of the characters seemed deeper and more real than in any other Trek.

  2. I really enjoyed this episode as well. While I was surprised by Odo's choice, it didn't ring false for me. I think it's because--like Odo--even though I expected the story about the Shapeshifters in the Vortex to be a lie, I was surprised and touched by what it was that made Croden so determined to bring him there. I was expecting something of material value.


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