1.12: “Vortex”

This was a surprisingly engaging episode, actually? LOL that sounds harsh, but a lot of the first season just kinda leaves me cold. We’re already reaching a point where both writers and cast are starting to get more of a handle on the characters, though, which helps to liven things up a lot. Additionally, this is an interesting episode in terms of the groundwork it lays for later developments.

The fact that Croden considers the shapeshifters a legend is interesting, as is the fact that there’s some truth to what he says about their having been persecuted by the solids. He’s also bang on in his comments about the shapeshifters’ general personalities: the Founders are later established as having a strong sense of justice that can very easily become too rigid, even turn into fascism; they have very little trust in other species, which can also turn, as Quark points out, into paranoia.

This is also the first time we see Odo’s weird smile and okay, I admit I’m not the biggest Odo fan, but I love his awkward smile so much.

Shout-out to the props team

I really like both the shiny purple mug Quark is drinking out of in the opening, and the bottle Rom brings on the tray. And the glimpse we get of the Vulcan ship, too, actually.

On the subject of Quark, I feel like it’s a very interesting little characterization thing that he’s got a drawer full of security clearance widgets? It struck me as a subtle way of telling us that, like Garak, he actually has the means to do some serious damage to the station. You can argue that he wouldn’t just out of self-interest, since that’s where he lives, but he could also sell them to someone who does want to fuck things up on the station and disappear into the Gamma Quadrant or something.

The climactic scenes though

First, I have some questions: why would Odo be knocked unconscious by rocks? He doesn’t have bones. Or a brain, for that matter. And doesn’t he revert to his liquid state when he’s unconscious, anyway? I watched this episode with my mother, who initially thought that he was faking it as a test for Croden, and frankly, that might have made more sense.

That aside, apparently the writers and producers were concerned about the reveal of Croden’s daughter being too sappy. Instead, I’ll let my mother, with whom I watched the episode, explain why it resonated pretty hard:

Odo, preparing to transport them both to the Vulcan ship: Don’t thank me, I already regret it.
Mom: …but of course he’s helping them anyway, BECAUSE WHAT KIND OF MONSTER WOULD SEPARATE A PARENT AND CHILD TO SEND THE PARENT BACK TO CERTAIN DEATH?

So, yeah, ouch.

Horniness rankings

There is very little horniness in this episode, although Quark and Odo are basically Kate Beaton’s Nemesis comics. Like several other duos on this show, actually (Sisko and Eddington, Dukat and Sisko, Dukat and Kira, some hints at it with Dukat and Garak…let’s be real, pretty much Dukat and anyone he interacts with more than once), which might be why it has such a special place in my heart.

2 thoughts on “1.12: “Vortex”

  1. I’m slowly catching up with these.

    I’m struck by the fact that most of the early Gamma Quadrant-centric episodes, like this one (and “Captive Pursuit” and to an extent “Battle Lines”), involve one-off encounters between individuals or small groups, rather than big civilization-to-civilization First Contacts. (The Wadi being an exception, although even there, it’s set up as a big civilization-to-civilization First Contact that reverses and turns into a weird one-off.) It’s an interesting way to go, especially on a show that’s eventually heavily-driven by individual character actions and motives more so than the typical team-based Trek show. (Granted, in this case, there was no particular reason that Croden had to come from the Gamma Quadrant for most of his story to work, except for the con he tries to run on Odo.)

    I like that Odo recognizes and never really deviates from the finding that Croden is full of shit. He basically has his number from scene one. There are a few moments where he wavers, and Rene Auberjonois sells that pretty well, and he always re-centers quite quickly. (“You don’t give up, do you?”) Another refreshing bite of cynicism.

    A minor rant – given that Sisko clearly (and intellgently) expects the Miradorn to go after Odo, why doesn’t
    he insist either that a larger and better-armed Federation starship show up to take Croden to the Gamma Quadrant (there must be some heading through to explore the Gamma Quadrant), one that can stand up to the Miradorn, or have a Starfleet officer pilot the runabout? Odo is plainly no one’s first choice to do this except in the sense that the plot requires it – he relies on the computer to do the hard stuff and even says “I’m a security chief, not a combat pilot!” This is really stupid and is only happening to clunk the plot forward. Starfleet has a vested interest in ensuring that the fugitive is safely returned to his home planet, and that one of the station’s four runabouts isn’t blown up, when there is every reason to believe that that’s exactly what will happen. (This was before we started shedding Runabouts like shuttlecraft.) Also, do they try to mount a rescue once the Miradorn go into the Gamma Quadrant? Basically, Sisko appears to shrug off the high probability that Odo and Croden will die and the Runabout will be destroyed. Oh well. (Speaking of relying on the computer to do the hard stuff, who wrote the scene where the computer fails to warn Odo that the ship is being attacked and… why? Just why.)

    I love how quickly Rom switches gears emotionally in his final scene. Max Grodenchik probably doesn’t get much cred for his acting chops, but he might be an underappreciated player on the show.

    What would Odo have done with Croden and/or the kid if the Vulcans hadn’t fortuitously wandered past? Perhaps more importantly, why was the spinoff sitcom “Croden on Vulcan” never produced?

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