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.
I actually liked this one a lot more than I remembered liking it, and I ended up having a lot more to say about it than I expected. As established, I’m not really the biggest Odo fan, but I actually liked him a lot in this episode, and felt like they were doing some really interesting things. I get that they didn’t want it to just be a retread of TNG’s “I, Borg”, but I also found it a little disappointing that the show seems to come down on the side of genetics as destiny with the Jem’Hadar, particularly when Odo himself points out that he’s started to reject his own genetic “programming”.
Content warning: I do talk a bit about Mardah, the dabo girl dating Jake, and how her comments about her background have some pretty troubling implications, perhaps more so than the writers intended. I don’t get graphic or anything, but just wanted to mention that the possibility that she was, essentially, being sexually exploited as a teenager is a theme I examine for a bit. The Mardah section of the post is pretty clearly demarcated, though, so it should be easy enough to skip over.