(Alternate title card for this one: “Odo Loses His Virginity”.)
WHEW! So, a whole lot happens in this one, even if some of it was just a
dream simulation. The biggest thing, of course, being the revelation, soon after Odo finds his people, that they are, in fact, the mysterious Founders, the power at the center of the Dominion.
Apparently part of the goal with the “it was all just a dream” ending was to underscore how powerful, and how alien, the Dominion is — to illustrate that enormous acts with far-reaching consequences like collapsing the entrance to the wormhole or starting a war with the Romulans could, for them, be treated so casually. It was also meant to reinforce that Odo’s story wasn’t actually separate from that of Dominion politics, that in fact, it was tied together more closely than anyone knew. I’m not sure how well it really worked, but it’s a cool idea, anyway.
So, let’s talk about the Founders…
With all their paranoia around and disdain for “monoforms”, it was a little odd that the leader/spokeswoman for the changelings seemed so surprised at how “damaged” Odo was by “living among the solids”. Like…what did y’all expect? If it was so important for them to have a concept of their identities as shapeshifters, why not send adults?
The Great Link is a really interesting concept to me — I’m reminded a bit of the Geth, from the Mass Effect game series. The Geth are robots, not organic life forms, but they have networked consciousness, meaning that A) they’re more intelligent the more of them there are in a given place, and B) they understand one another’s minds in a way that might be comparable to total telepathy — or the Great Link. Even a single Geth unit conceives of itself more as a collection of programs housed in a remote platform than an individual being.
I was really struck this time around by the fact that the Founders used to be explorers, and that it was only later in their history, after their efforts to explore led to extensive persecution by the solids, that they retreated into secrecy and devoted themselves to “imposing order on a chaotic universe”. Odo even says, specifically, that his friends “travel the galaxy in order to learn things, much as you once did”. It’s even more interesting to me in light of the trailer for Discovery‘s third season, set nearly nine hundred years after the Dominion War, which seems to be hinting at a storyline about rebuilding the Federation and rededication to its original principles.
(Given that Picard looks to involve a fair bit of the titular character acting outside of Starfleet, I’m curious to see if/how it’s going to set up a “the Federation is forgetting its foundational ideals” thing. We’ll see soon!)
A couple of things that I was a bit suspicious about, upon consideration:
- Would they really have allowed Kira to just leave, or if they were simply waiting for an opportunity to put her down in the lab with the others. They didn’t want her sending a signal that would alert people to their position; were they really going to let her leave, and risk her telling people directly?
- They claim that Odo was part of a project of exploration — they wanted to learn more about the galaxy, they sent the babies out, they implanted them with the drive to return home one day…and what did they then plan to do with the knowledge they’d gained? I can’t help thinking that Odo, and the others like him, were part of a reconnaissance operation. The fact that she simply tells him that
…and let’s talk about Odo in particular
I did find it interesting that, for what I think is actually the first time, the show makes the deliberate distinction between justice and order vis-a-vis Odo and the other Founders. I do feel like they don’t really spend enough time looking at what that distinction actually means to Odo, however.
Just last episode, he was angry over having to share his duties with a Federation officer, and argued that the security breaches Starfleet cited as why they wanted him replaced wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t been “tied to Starfleet regulations”. He’s previously commented that “whether you agree with [the Obsidian Order’s] methods or not, you can’t help but admire their efficiency” and that “Cardassian rule may have been oppressive, but at least it was simple”, and he doesn’t really seem to think much of basic civil liberties. That the show doesn’t really ever have him wrestle with the question of justice vs. order feels like a lost opportunity (and a waste of Auberjonois, who does some phenomenal work even without it) when so much of the character growth on the show involves people having to question their beliefs and the things they’ve previously taken for granted.
In a similar “lost opportunity” vein, I was really struck by the fact that “no changeling has ever harmed another” comes up for the first time in the context of Odo putting himself between the Founders and the rest of the crew. His initial argument is simply that “these solids have never harmed you”; in treating them as guilty until proven innocent, the Founders have acted counter to Odo’s beliefs about justice (or so it appears, anyway; given that Odo is a fairly “guilty until proven innocent” guy himself, it’s strange to see him bothered by it now). But he goes on to say that, in fact, he regards the crew as, well, his family: “I admit this Link of yours is appealing, but you see, I already have a link with these people”. It was a lovely moment — but it wasn’t nearly as emotionally effective, for me, as it might have been, because, with the exception of his relationship with Kira, the show hasn’t really done much to illustrate that.
- The use of Garak was interesting — for him to have scenes with both Sisko and Bashir felt a bit like setting him up to represent the part of their minds telling them that something was wrong.
- Following his discussions with Jake and Jadzia in the last episode, Sisko’s anger that the Federation planned to hand Bajor over to the Dominion was really moving for me.
- Kira’s “I’m really happy for you, Odo. I know everything’s gonna work out fine,” was just — oh my gosh, Visitor just fits so much emotion into those two sentences and it’s so lovely and poignant.
- I find Odo’s “my people have no need for doors” inexplicably hilarious? IDEK
- That simulation pretty perfectly captured Garak and Bashir’s horniness for one another.
- Garak also seemed to be…slightly into Sisko? This is not the first time I have gotten that vibe from him, honestly.
- I’m still not sure Odo — or any of the changelings — feel horniness in the same way that solids do, but they definitely feel something comparable. Also, congrats to Odo on finally getting laid!