Overall Rating: 6.3
In order to establish that Odo might have a motive to kill - something very much not in his character ordinarily - the writers had to push him far beyond his normal reaction to a criminal and bring on a huge public confrontation that you'll never see again in the entire run of DS9 - not even for a prominent Bajoran Collaborator, not even for some of Quark's most despicable associates. The conflict doesn't ring true.
Following the arrival of a known black market scumbag to the station named Ibudan, and a surprisingly violent response for Security Chief Odo, the former black marketeer is found murdered in Quark's holosuite. Evidence mounts that no one but a shape-shifter like Odo could possibly have committed the crime and Sisko is forced to pull him from the investigation and put Kira and Dax in charge. The station's population turns on Odo as rumors spread about his possible involvement and his ties to the Cardassian Occupation until the real culprit is found and an ingenious scheme unraveled. Meanwhile, Keiko O'Brien, miserable about not having a natural role to play aboard the station, decides, with immediate support from Miles and from Sisko to make it her personal mission to start a school for the dozen or so children lacking in any structure to their lives.
The plot seems contrived to make a point about Odo's relative isolation and the tenuous position in which this leaves him in the face of controversy. The side plot was more interesting to me than the main plot, which would have been more convincing had it not required character assassination to accomplish. The episode isn't BAD, it's just a bit jarring. Bajorans on the station gossiping about Odo's role in the Cardassian Occupation don't fit well with the reactions of the senior officers who know that on Bajor, Odo is considered a hero even now and will be immediately cast in an even more dubious light when we see that Odo is immensely popular amongst the Bajorans during flashback scenes on Occupied Terok Nor in "Necessary Evil", a single season later.
There's nothing particularly wrong with the acting here...in fact Odo's confrontation with Sisko following his removal from the investigation into Ibudan's murder is pretty riveting stuff. If they had more to work with, I might have had more of a chance to get enthused. Quark (!) and Kira leaping to Odo's defense were each fun to watch as well...as was Keiko's sales pitch to Rom regarding allowing Nog to attend her new school.
We GET IT...Odo is alone and people fear things they don't understand. Check. Funny thing is...we got that point in about 30 seconds of the pilot when Odo gets his throw-away speech as they're preparing to enter the wormhole looking for Sisko. "Major, I was found in the Denorios Belt! I've been alone for over thirty years...no idea who I am or where I came from. A lot of the answers to those questions could very well be on the other side of that wormhole!" Yep...that about sums it up. We didn't need a whole episode where things go out of character alignment to make it again. This episode does get bonus points for the very libertarian concept of "Got a good idea? Go do it!" that we see on display with Keiko's efforts to start up a school. Sisko is awesome here too...she presents a good idea, and he immediately throws his support behind it without the need to run it through twenty committee meetings and tack on 1200 pages of legislation that had nothing to do with the good idea.
"We're not saying we should assume he's guilty. All we're saying is that under the circumstances..." (Kira interrupts angrily) "THANK you all for coming." - translation: please feel free to bite me and have a nice day
"No one knows Odo better than I do. He's a bitter misanthropic cross patch...but he was no collaborator and he's certainly not a murderer."
'I can't believe you're defending him! You're his worst enemy."
"I guess that's the closest thing he has on this station...to a friend." - Quark is awesome. :)
"Seems like a good idea to me...what do you need?"
"We'll find it. What else?"
(getting excited) "Computers?"
"You'll have them!" - Isn't it fun when you have a good idea and things don't get in your way en route to implementing it?
I already covered my major problems with this episode, so I didn't feel the need to devote a whole section to quibbles, but I will once again emphasize that although Odo is a horrible autocrat even on his good days, he never reacted to a criminal element in such an unfocused and indiscreet manner at any other point in the run of the show. I get that Ibudan is scum...that he did some horrid things during the Occupation...but he didn't go after Lursa and B'Etor with such graceless vigor and they're even "ickier." I just don't see it...they reached to fit a story and I can always tell when writers are doing that because in my own writing efforts I catch myself reaching all the time and have to go back and rethink it.