Monday, October 12, 2009

Classics: DS9 2:12 – The Alternate

Plot Synopsis:

Dr. Mora Pol, the Bajoran scientist who studied Odo in his formative years, arrives on DS9 with news that a probe has picked up traces of DNA similar to Odo’s on a planet in the Gamma Quadrant. Odo requests a runabout from Sisko, and he and Dr. Mora (and Dax) travel to the planet in question, where they do indeed find a lifeform with metamorphic properties – and a mysterious obelisk. After both are beamed to the ship, an earthquake hits, and everyone in the scientific party save Odo is overcome by gas.

Back on the station, Odo seems to exhibit no ill effects from the toxic exposure, so he joins O’Brien in studying the creature they found in the lab. The creature, O’Brien reports, is reproducing very rapidly; indeed, he’s had to move it to a larger container. That night, something or someone trashes the lab, and the creature disappears. O’Brien searches the ventilation shafts and ultimately finds the creature dead and dripping from a structural breach.

This, however, is not the end of the incident, as shortly thereafter, a metamorphic lifeform attacks Bashir in the infirmary. This time, the creature leaves behind some organic residue, which Bashir and Dr. Mora analyze. Once Dr. Mora sees the DNA sequences, he confronts Odo with his theory: that all the recent incidents were perpetrated by Odo himself as a way of lashing out at his former guardian. Odo morphs into the monster and Dr. Mora flees. In Ops, Dr. Mora theorizes that the gas on the above-mentioned planet likely has something to do with Odo’s transformation, and he offers to be the bait to lure Odo out of the ventilation system. When Odo is at last snared by a force field, Dr. Mora realizes with horror the depth of Odo’s resentment towards him and expresses remorse. This quells Odo, and he is ultimately purged of the gas.

The Ratings:

Overall: 6.7 – There are some glimmers of character-based brilliance here, but the plot is generally uninspired. Indeed, I find I have little to comment upon in this review.

Writing: 6

This episode is a good episode and a bad episode smooshed into one. The relationship between Odo and Dr. Mora that we see presented here is wonderfully layered. Mora comes across as someone who genuinely loves Odo like a father and regrets that Odo was unhappy in his lab – and it is clear that Odo’s feelings towards Mora are not entirely negative. Unfortunately, all of this magnificent character work is obscured by the really hokey B-movie premise: Oh no! A tentacle monster attacks Bashir! Ye gods! IT’S THE BLOB! If the writers had come up with another reason to bring Odo and Mora together to air their issues and had dispensed with the Jekyll-and-Hyde gas, I would’ve been far more impressed.

By the way, I also found Mora’s attempt to turn Odo against Bashir extremely nonsensical, especially since only a few scenes earlier, he encourages Odo to accept the others’ affection. Why put this in at all?

Acting: 8

The acting, however, was solid. James Sloyan does a nice turn as Mora, and Rene Auberjonois is, as usual, excellent.

Message: 6

There really isn’t a message in this episode, but it does present a refreshingly optimistic picture of family. At the end, we are left with the hope that Odo – the estranged son of sorts – and Mora will continue to work on repairing their relationship.


SISKO: “You've studied that whole Klingon opera for the music test on Friday?”
JAKE: “I'm going to ace the test, Dad, I promise.”
SISKO: “This isn't about tests, Jake. This is about learning. You can't learn to appreciate Klingon opera by cramming for the exam the night before.”
JAKE: “What am I ever going to use Klingon opera for?”
SISKO: (searching) “Well, first of all, you don't know what you're going to be when you grow up. You may discover along the way that you want to be a musician… or you may find yourself among some Klingons… in a job… somewhere.”
JAKE: “Dad, even if I did, they wouldn't be going around singing operas.”
SISKO: “It helps to understand their culture.”
JAKE: “When was the last time you listened to Klingon opera?”
SISKO: “When I was your age.”
JAKE: “There, you see?”
SISKO: “Yes. Do you?”
JAKE: “Just because you suffered through all that doesn't mean I have to.”
SISKO: (grinning broadly) “Yes, it does.” – LOL!

MORA: “So, tell me about this police thing you've gotten yourself involved with. Is it working out?”
ODO: I enjoy my work as Chief of Security.
MORA: “Chief of Security at a way-station in space. Don't you miss it, Odo?”
ODO: “What?”
MORA: “Our work.”
ODO: “Never.”
MORA: “I don't believe it. I know you too well. You were unhappy in the lab. I can't blame you for that. But the work, Odo – the work! The exploration of you, what you are, where you came from. That's never far from your mind, is it?”
ODO: “That part of it is true.”

MORA: “It would seem to me that being a scientist yourself, Lieutenant, you can appreciate the difficulty of our dilemma, and the elegance of the solution. When Odo was first found, nobody knew who, or indeed, what it was we were dealing with. A shapeless, viscous mass of fluid, a veritable organic broth. That was our Odo in the beginning.”
DAX: “When did you realise you were dealing with a sentient lifeform?”
ODO: “He didn't. I had to teach him that myself.”
MORA: (laughing) “It's true. It's very true.”

MORA: “You know, that was really a remarkable display back there.”
ODO: “Display?”
MORA: “You were very careful, attentive.”
ODO: “I was just doing my job.”
MORA: “I'm beginning to think that the scientific method and police method have a lot in common.”
ODO: “I never thought of it that way. Perhaps they do.”
MORA: “In science we look for the obvious. We track in straight lines. If something looks too good to be true, it usually isn't true. If there appears to be more to something than meets the eye, there usually is more. We take it step by step.”
ODO: “That applies to criminal investigation as well.”
MORA: “You do it very well. I'm very proud of you, Odo. Do you know that?” – The above three moments are included here because they illustrate how much Dr. Mora appreciates Odo for who he is.

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