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The Trek Nation - Broken Link

Broken Link

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 10:26 AM GMT

See Also: 'Broken Link' Episode Guide

Odo becomes critically ill and the female changeling who has been a spokesperson for the Founders arrives to tell him that he must return to their planet to face judgement for the crime of killing another shapeshifter, an unprecedented act. While Sisko waits, the Dominion leaders decide that Odo is no longer one of them, and give him what they claim he most desires...they make him a solid, a human with the artificial face of a changeling.

Analysis:

First Worf, almost Dax, then Quark, most of Kira, and now Odo. By this time next season, there my not be a single alien living on DS9. Oh, sure there will still be characters with pointy ears and bumpy foreheads...but everyone will be human.

I'm reminded of one of my least favorite moments in Trek history, in one of the late TOS films, when the aging and defensive James T. Kirk informed Spock that "everyone's human," and Spock responded that he found such a comment insulting. DS9's unrelenting message these this season has been that we don't really have anything to learn from outsiders, because deep down they're just the same as us. And that's a really sad place for the Roddenberry legacy to have gotten to.

There was a lot to like about his episode on its own merits. Great character work on Odo and Garak and a setup which will probably involve intergalactic intrigue, space battles, a shakeup in the universe as we know it during next season's opener. With the exception of his paternalistic attitude toward pregnant Kira - a slight improvement over Kira the Cocktail Hostess, but still a stereotypical female not permitted to do any real work - Sisko had a very strong episode, as did Bashir.

My quarrel with DS9 during this episode, and all season, has little to do with the strength of the plots or the panache of the dialogue. I just feel like we've been in an alternate universe, where nobody thinks or acts quite the same way they did in previous season or on previous Treks. No big surprise that the Founders came back for Odo, nor that they've been spying on him all along...no big surprise that they threw him out of the Great Link, either. The moment when Odo emerged naked and fully human from the primordial soup was very effective, but pathetically short. I wanted to know what went on during that link, what Odo tried to communicate and what the Founders used as basis for judgment.

But that would have required that the producers fully think out the alien society and alien attitudes, which they have been loath to do for any of the races on this generation of Trek. It's much easier to have Quark break ties with the Ferengi, to make Worf half-human, to make Data want to be human, than to work at developing an entirely different and still positive alternate perspective. Of any hostile aliens on recent Treks, the changelings are the most DIFFERENT, much more so than the Cardassians and even more than the Borg who have a similar collective consciousness to the Great Link. If only this episode had taken time to explore those differences, instead of rushing back to the Cardassian-Klingon war plots and Dax's endless cliched gender jokes.

It seems likely that, with Odo as one of "us" now, the possibility of that difference being explored as anything other than a source of conflict is gone for good. That's a real waste - just as it's a pity the Klingons have disowned Worf and the Ferengi have disowned Quark, just as it's ridiculous to see Kira living as domestic help with the O'Briens when she used to be a leader of Bajor, just as it's a shame Dax was willing to abandon her whole species for love of one. I found Garak's passionate pro-Cardassian action very refreshing, in this season-ender which wrapped up a season of the humanization of DS9.

Will Odo find solace in the arms of another Bajoran woman, not the one he loves but the one he can have? Why not, since all species and all people are becoming interchangeable? Why worry about the Borg threat, when the Alpha Quadrant is slowly falling victim to an even more insidious assimilation, where race and species are meaningless compared to the supposed universal desires for food, sex, and pleasure?

Sigh. I miss Deep Space Nine.

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Michelle Erica Green reviews 'Enterprise' episodes for the Trek Nation, for which she is also a news writer. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.