With every rewatch of the series, I’ve come to appreciate this episode more — almost entirely for the B plot, interestingly. The A plot is good, but for me, the B plot is just so surprising and moving that every time I rewatch, I’m almost surprised to remember that oh, right, it’s not actually the primary focus of the episode.
And the entire episode is a particularly bittersweet experience now, so soon after the deaths of both Auberjonois and Eisenberg. As I’ve said a few times, while I have my issues with Odo, they’re more with the writing, and the lack of any examination of his role in the Occupation by the show, than with the character himself, and I think the credit for that goes mostly, if not entirely, to Auberjonois, who does a really lovely job with the character. Like, even as someone who’s not a huge Odo fan, the revelation that he realized something was wrong with Kira came when she said she loved him back was just such an “oh, fuck” moment, played with such delicacy and resignation by Auberjonois.
But as I said, honestly, I think my favorite part of this episode is the B plot? I mean…
“I know I’ve got something to offer, I just need the chance to prove it.”
Good lord, Aron Eisenberg is just such a wonderful surprise in this episode. This was, apparently, his favorite episode of the show, and he considered his final scene with Sisko to be his best performance. The writers haven’t given Nog much attention or development previously, mostly using him as a foil for Jake, and his storyline in this episode could so easily have fallen flat — or else been used to write him out of the show. Instead, he has one of the most surprising arcs of the show.
My most recent full rewatch (well, almost full; we still haven’t actually watched the last couple of episodes, partly because we’re no longer roommates but also because this way it won’t actually be over) was with my friend Mindi, who loves both Nog and Rom, and I think her influence is part of what’s caused me to pay a lot more attention to the Ferengi characters’ storylines this time through. Thus far, my new appreciation for those stories has mostly involved Quark, but Nog’s arc is such a surprising, wonderful one, and seeing it really get going is great.
Just — good lord, that moment when he breaks down and talks about his father. The delivery of “he doesn’t have the lobes…and neither do I” is just brutal. Eisenberg was reportedly really delighted by that scene, having gotten the impression previously that Nog didn’t really respect his father very much, that it was Quark he looked up to more. It’s a really moving reveal here that, in fact, he’s angry and upset on his father’s behalf, for the opportunities he never had — never even thought to seek, at least before.
And oof, that first scene in Quark’s, laying the groundwork for his ultimate outburst to Sisko, where he defends Rom to Quark is fantastic. But to have that immediately followed by his exchange with Jake — with his best friend assuming that his desire to join Starfleet must be part of a prank or a con — is just so striking. And I find his line about having “my father’s hands” kind of touching, in light of the line Rom had back in “Necessary Evil” about how “the boy’s always been clever with his hands”.
In conclusion: HE’S SO HAPPY WHEN SISKO SAYS HE’LL WRITE THE LETTER, MY EMOTIONS!!!! NOG IS SO HAPPY HE HUGS SISKO, I’M TEARBENDING.
Some other notes
First of all, I just find the opening exchange between Kira and Odo weirdly delightful? Odo is such a drama queen when he’s offended and he truly has no idea and I find it absolutely hilarious. Also great: Visitor’s delivery of “You don’t eat! Besides, you hate socializing with people you don’t know!”
…and actually, the “with people you don’t know” there is interesting, because until this season, I would’ve just said he hates socializing — as, I think, would Kira. On which note, I really liked the hints that O’Brien and Odo are friends — as I noted back in “The Search, Part 2”, while I really liked the moment where Odo chose the crew over the Founders, even suggested that he considered them his family, I didn’t feel, at that point, like I’d really seen much to back that up. This season, he’s gone to Sisko’s evening get-together, gotten his own quarters, hung out at the Bajoran Gratitude Festival, and now it’s revealed that he goes on kayaking trips with O’Brien in the holodeck — he really is becoming part of the crew, has even started to think of himself that way.
- Another instance of Sisko’s baby fever, and I find it as delightful as ever. The way Sisko’s face just lights up when it clicks that Ensign Vilix’pran is pregnant just makes me really…happy? It’s such a genuine, lovely moment, not to mention that I find it utterly charming that the dudes on DS9 apparently throw baby showers for their coworkers.
- It’s kind of strange to realize that this is actually the first we’ve seen of the Founders since the season’s opening two-parter. I keep thinking of this episode as being pretty early in the season and then realizing that oh, wait, we’re actually halfway through it; the show has really found its feet and started moving along more quickly. On top of all the emotions in this episode, dropping a reminder that, even if the Dominion hasn’t been at the front of everyone’s mind recently, they’re still very much keeping an eye on the Alpha Quadrant, and Our Heroes in particular, is just a cherry on top.
- SISKO IS NOG’S ROLE MODEL, I’M HAVING MORE EMOTIONS
- O’Brien and Odo definitely spend at least part of their holosuite kayaking excursions trying to outdo each other with impersonations of Julian, let’s be real.
- Reportedly one reason the writers liked the idea of Nog joining Starfleet was because initially they just found the idea funny, because, as Robert Hewitt Wolfe pointed out, looking at Jake, Wesley Crusher, Alexander Rozhenko, and Nog, if you had to pick who was most likely to end up as a Starfleet captain, Nog would probably be at the bottom of the list. Which I mostly mention because this was, of course, before they came up with the character of Tora Ziyal, and anyway, now I really want the fix-it fic where, instead of being fridged, Ziyal joins Starfleet, or possibly the Bajoran militia.
I still don’t believe that Odo is really capable of horniness, at least as humans understand it, but he definitely feels emotionally horny for Kira.