1.04: “A Man Alone”

NGL, I actually have very little to say about the A plot on this one. In part this is because I just…really don’t find Odo all that compelling as a character?

Reflecting on my last couple of rewatches, I feel like he arguably grows and changes the least of all the main characters over the course of the series. He has a black and white sense of justice at the beginning, and that’s never really challenged in any serious way. Given how much of the show is about having to deal with the gray areas, that gets kind of boring after a while.

Further, while the show makes it clear with the Founders that that black and white sense of justice is something the rest of his people share, and they examine with the Founders how easily that can turn into fascism, they never really take the next step and challenge Odo himself on that front. Last week he offered to just straight-up jail the Duras sisters because of their past record rather than anything they’d done since arriving on DS9 and waxed nostalgic for the simplicity of oppressive Cardassian rule, this week he wants to throw Ibudan off the station without any apparent cause. Sisko flat-out tells him that he cannot take the law into his own hands, but even after Odo is on the other side of that equation — after an angry mob literally tries to lynch him for no other reason than that a troublemaker has convinced them he can’t be trusted — the show never has anyone explicitly address the fact that Odo’s been behaving pretty similarly. Just the opposite: Odo is instead vindicated in his suspicions and actions.

That said, the other part of why I don’t have much to say about the A plot is that I am all about space operas that are just that: literally soap operas in space. Give me hot aliens and hotter gossip and I am content. (It seems worth noting here that most of this rewatch thus far has been done while I’ve been sewing, sometimes in my Pride t-shirt, so possibly I am just Garak at heart.)

Julian can u not

Good lord, I wasn’t even ten when this episode first aired, but even then Bashir’s inability to take a hint from Dax and back the heck off wasn’t cute, it was at best embarrassing and at worst creepy. Jason commented last week that his parents must not have paid for the “picking up on subtext” upgrade when they had him genetically enhanced and TRUTH.

I feel like they drop a lot of what Dax says about the Trill view on relationships later, or rather, they amend it to be about the expectations around joined Trill, who (it’s later explained as well) make up a pretty small portion of the Trill population. I think that’s a good choice, and adds more depth to the worldbuilding, since her initial comments make them seem a bit like Vulcans-lite. As an adult woman, however, my alternate explanation is that she’s just leaving out some of those key details in order to get Bashir to back the heck off.

Spilling the Tarkalean tea

I hate myself a little for that subhead but let’s be real, it was gonna happen eventually, and now it’s done and we can all move on with our lives.

Quark’s barely-contained glee in spilling all the local gossip to Odo is #relatable, honestly. I stand by what I said when I was introducing Mindi to this show last year:

The O’Briens’ basic conflict — a couple who moved someplace dramatically different for one partner’s job and the other is currently at loose ends and feeling frustrated, stifled, and depressed — is really lovely and realistic, which is one of the reasons it’s kind of disappointing that they wrap it up so quickly. Honestly, DS9 never really knows what to do with Keiko and w h e w does it show here. She’s a botanist, so sure, she can definitely be a teacher for kids from a wide variety of cultures and age groups! Teaching is basically a hobby you can just pick up because you always kinda wanted to try it and now you’ve got some free time.

Possibly I’m being a little unfair — it’s made clear that Jake, at least, is being educated via computer at home, so “teaching” at a Federation outpost may be more about providing a structured environment and facilitating socialization opportunities. But in that case…there’s really no need for it to be a school? They could’ve gone with the arboretum idea and have her offering science classes in person to balance out the home-schooling curriculum, for instance. I just have enough teacher friends that with every rewatch this bugs me more.

Beautiful cinnamon rolls too good for this space station, too pure

THE BEGINNING OF JAKE AND NOG’S FRIENDSHIP!!!! I also like that Sisko’s dislike/mistrust of Nog as a bad influence on Jake is mirrored by Rom disliking/mistrusting Jake as an influence on Nog. I feel like they initially play it for laughs, i.e. lol what kind of dummy would be worried about the Federation being a bad influence, but as they develop the characters of Nog, Quark, and Rom (who, at this point, is basically being written as “Quark but with less charm”) it becomes a bit less of a joke. See the episode where Quark tells Sisko that he knows he doesn’t like him or Ferengi, but maybe he should keep in mind that only one of their species has chattel slavery, nukes, and concentration camps in its history, and it ain’t the Ferengi.

Let us close on the mental image of Sisko, gazing into a vat full of an unidentified biological mass recovered from a murder scene, and then calmly asking, “Care for lunch?” I LOVE HIM SO MUCH.

Horniness rankings

  1. Bashir. Apparently I need to say it again: GET YOUR LIFE RIGHT JULIAN
  2. Odo has never been horny in his life (and seems to have gotten his understanding of relationships mostly from old sitcoms and stand-up routines?) and honestly I feel like his anti-horniness is so pronounced as to merit a spot on the ranking.
  3. Honorable mention for Sisko and Dax’s awkward semi-horniness for each other, particularly because they’re dealing with it in such a refreshingly grown-up way? Like, they both straight-up acknowledge that this is awkward and uncomfortable and it’s going to take time, and she even gives him the opportunity to end the relationship, and they both opt instead to just work on it! It’s so nice!
  4. Me: horny for hot aliens and hotter gossip.
  5. Quark: see #4.

 

5 thoughts on “1.04: “A Man Alone”

  1. This A plot was garbage. I barely remember it and I just watched it. The payoff to that plot is just so dumb, and the mob scene was forced and hamhanded. About the only thing they could have done with it that would have been interesting would have been to

    But your observation about Odo not developing as a character was interesting to me. If you’d asked me at some point in the past for my thoughts on that I might have said “oh, he develops because he becomes a human for some episodes and then goes back to being a shapeshifter and he falls in love with Kira and comes to accept that his people are terrible and that he has to bear some responsibility for their actions” and in re-looking at that set of perceptions I am not sure there is much to actually justify any of that, and maybe I am kind of just reciting externalities, stuff that he did or that happened to him. I’ll be thinking about that during this re-watch. As the standard “outsider non-human character who comments on humanity” in the Spock and Data tradition, he definitely grows much less than either of them.

    Jake and Nog as friends was more earned than any friendship portrayed in any other Trek that I can think of. Not to jump waaaaaay ahead but I think forward to the 6th (?) season after Nog is injured in combat and suffering from PTSD and Jake has a hard time dealing with and blows up on him, and daaaaang if that doesn’t work not just as a very real human moment but because it felt like the show had earned the right to treat that friendship as a real and mature thing, and it started here. Like if they had tried to do something similar with, IDK, Tom Paris and Harry Kim (and I kind of think they did) it would have rung as unearned and false (and I kind of think it did).

    Sisko and Dax, I had forgotten the awkward semi-horniness. I dig that they handle it professionally. The never-acted-upon attraction in a professional environment is a trope I can get behind, although I’ve been told I miss the point of 10,000% of fanfiction because of this. Considering that later on in the series there is a whole episode devoted to the nasty consequences that can arise when you become romantically involved with someone under your command (and that, in that episode, it’s Sisko who reprimands Dax and Worf for it and tells Worf Starfleet will never offer him a command because of it), I like that the seeds of Sisko’s attitude to this were sown early.

    Also: “Ibudan has been turned over to the Bajoran authorities just hours after his clone gained consciousness and began a new life.” LOLOLOL I mean that’s kind of a hell of a thing isn’t it? Dude just rolls out of the clone… chamber…? and is off to the races? I mean, how do you get a birth certificate? Maybe by the 24th century this is all just sort of blase, happens a lot (although the couple of times TNG treated cloning, it was definitely not played that way). This just slew me.

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    1. (I didn’t finish a sentence there, but I have no idea what I was going to say, so, no great loss.)

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    2. Also: “Ibudan has been turned over to the Bajoran authorities just hours after his clone gained consciousness and began a new life.” LOLOLOL I mean that’s kind of a hell of a thing isn’t it? Dude just rolls out of the clone… chamber…? and is off to the races?

      RIGHT??? like…I would actually very much like to see the follow-up episode there. Cloning and genetic experimentation are such a huge NO in the Federation, buuuuut on the other hand Bajor isn’t part of the Federation, so technically maybe it’s OK, but it still raises such a huge number of issues just on a practical level! Does the clone have all the memories of the original? If so, would he then bear responsibility for the original’s crimes? Does he view Odo as an adversary as well? MAKE THEM BOTH WRESTLE WITH THAT, IT WOULD BE SO MUCH MORE INTERESTING THAN WHAT WE GOT.

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