Overall Rating: 9.5
Echevarria makes a gutsy choice here. It's not his fault that the other staff writers failed to run with it.
Memory Alpha has the run-down here.
Downright CHILLING...those are the only words that describe this episode. Unless you want my initial reaction, which went something like "(long period of silence - turns off TV - blinks a few times)...HOLY $&^*)$&^%*)_(&^*$*(%^*($_^%*()^%&*()$!!!!!!!!"
I think this episode works so well because Odo's change is gradual, but definite. It starts with Odo and Kira fighting (the only way to get Odo to be on edge enough to be susceptible to the female changeling's persuasion to join the link). That's the thing...Odo's desire for order and clarity really WOULD leave him caring more about order on the station than the larger ramifications of the war. They really WOULD leave him wishing he could silence his love for Kira. And they really would make him frustrated enough to succumb to the prospect of joining a totalitarian unity responsible for the destruction of countless millions of lives if the reward for such evil was internal peace and ordered thought. We love Odo here at Right Fans...but we're not blind to the danger that lurks in his Gestapo-esque beliefs about station security and we don't miss how dysfunctional his love for Kira is.
It is a shame that they didn't stick the dismount from this episode, instead choosing to faceplant on the mat...Odo should have beat himself up a hell of a lot more than he did...the resolution to this should have come in the form of Odo threatening to kill himself (to remove the threat he posed to those he held dear on the Station...that would be the logical way in which Odo would perceive his own internal breach of security, would it not?) and Kira coming to his rescue...followed by a very gradual healing process. But that's not the fault of this episode...we'll pan that aspect of "You Are Cordially Invited" when we get to it.
I don't think Odo should've threatened to kill himself. That feels a little too melodramatic to me. However, I do believe he should've permanently lost his job as head of station security. If Odo is that susceptible to the enemy's wiles, he has no business being in such a sensitive position. But would that have involved completely jettisoning the character? No -- we've civilians galore on this show. Perhaps Odo could've remained on the station as a private investigator of some kind -- and in the process, he could've had a lengthy story arc in which he struggles to redeem himself.
But enough about the show's future missteps. Let's talk about why this episode succeeds. Number one, as SABR Matt discusses above, everything Odo does here fits his established personality. Number two, Visitor frelling rocks when it comes to portraying Kira's panic and eventual anger, and Auberjonois kicks an equal amount of ass when it comes to being extremely creepy. Seriously -- that last scene especially is skin-crawlingly good.
And lastly, I think the Female Founder is simply fascinating. Obviously, she can't possibly have known about Odo's involvement with Kira's resistance cell. So why did she come to the station? She may be an "intergalactic warlord" who hails from a culture in which individuality is frighteningly de-emphasized, but here's the real kicker: I think her desire to bring Odo back into the fold is genuine. Heroes and villains with complex motives? Yes -- this is why DS9 is the best of all the Treks.
Writing: 9.5 / 9.5
Echevarria's attention to characterization is once again on full display, and the final twist is extraordinarily ambitious.
Acting: 10.0 / 10.0
Nana Visitor and Rene Auberjonois are absolutely full of win.
Message: 9.0 / 9.0
Security, order, peace -- all of these are goods that can become evil when they are pursued with single-mindedness.
KIRA: You wanted to see me?
ODO: Well? Don't you have something to say to me?
KIRA: About what happened at Quark's? It worked better than I expected.
ODO: I knew you were behind it.
KIRA: Of course you did. We discussed it at our last resistance meeting.
ODO: And I said it was a bad idea.
KIRA: Yes, you did. And then you walked out of the room like there was nothing left to say. But Rom and Jake stayed and we discussed it, and you know what? I decided it was a good idea.
ODO: So you went ahead and did it behind my back?
KIRA: Why are you taking it so personally?
ODO: How do you expect me to take it? I spend my days sitting on the Council with Dukat and Weyoun, doing whatever I can to make sure Bajor survives this war intact. The last thing I need is to have you running around causing mayhem! Do you have any idea what Dukat would do if he found out you were behind it? It's all the excuse he would need to throw every Bajoran off this station!
KIRA: The Federation is losing this war. We can't sit by and do nothing!
ODO: There are limits to what we can do.
KIRA: I'm beginning to think you shouldn't have agreed to sit on that Council. It's as if you're so invested in making sure the station runs smoothly, you've forgotten there's a war going on.
ODO: Are you questioning my loyalties, Major?
ODO: To become a thing, is to know a thing.
FOUNDER: To assume its form is to begin to understand its existence.
ODO: You tried to teach me that when I visited our homeworld.
FOUNDER: I remember.
ODO: I didn't understand what you meant by it at first, so when I returned the station, I got rid of all the furniture I used to have in my quarters and replaced it with these objects. I've assumed every shape in this room. I suppose if it weren't for you, I never would have known the simple pleasure spending time existing as a stone or a branch.
FOUNDER: I'm glad you learned something from your visit. Your arrival was a time of great joy for the Link -- and your departure a time of great sadness. If only you'd stayed with us, Odo.
ODO: I couldn't.
FOUNDER: You chose the solids.
ODO: And I haven't regretted it.
FOUNDER: Not even a little?
ODO: I do think about the Link from time to time.
FOUNDER: It's there for you.
ODO: I can't.
FOUNDER: Why? Because of Kira? You still have feelings for her, don't you? But she doesn't share them. I'm sorry.
ODO: Aren't you going to tell me I shouldn't waste my time with a solid?
FOUNDER: You love her.
ODO: I wish I didn't. I'm so vulnerable to her. All she has to do is smile at me and I'm happy beyond reason. A minor disagreement between us and I'm devastated. It's absurd. Sometimes I wish I could reach inside myself and tear out my feelings for her. But I can't.
FOUNDER: Poor Odo.
ODO: I don't want your pity.
FOUNDER: I'm not offering pity.
ODO: What I need is some peace.
FOUNDER: What you need is clarity. (Oh, you tricky succubus!)
KIRA: I dropped by your office, and Damar told me you were here with her.
ODO: She was here, but she's gone now.
KIRA: You all right? What did she want?
ODO: She didn't want anything.
KIRA: Then what was she doing here?
ODO: I know how you feel about her, Major, but there's no reason to be concerned.
KIRA: You don't know how much I wish I could believe that. You didn't Link with her, did you?
ODO: Actually, I did.
KIRA: You did? (Kira takes a short moment to process this information.) What were you thinking?
ODO: She didn't find out about the resistance, if that's why you're worried.
KIRA: It's not.
ODO: The Link isn't about exchanging information. It's about merging thought and form, idea and sensation.
KIRA: It sounds like a perfect way to manipulate someone.
ODO: She's not manipulating me.
KIRA: Ever since the day you two crossed paths, she has lied to you, tricked you, stood in judgment of you. I don't trust her. I don't understand how you can!
ODO: I Linked with her. If she had some hidden motive, I would have sensed it. She's just trying to teach me about myself -- about what I'm capable of becoming.
KIRA: An intergalactic warlord, maybe? Because that's what she is.
ODO: Who knows? By Linking with her I might be able to make her understand that the Federation doesn't pose a threat to her people.
KIRA: You believe you can convince her to call off the war?
ODO: If you could experience the Link, you'd understand the effect it has on my people. You'd realize that anything is possible. I'm only beginning to understand it all myself. I still have so many questions. Now that she's here, I have a chance to find some answers.
KIRA: Odo, this isn't the time to go off on some kind of personal quest. There's too much at stake! After the war is over, do whatever you need to do. If you feel you need to go and join the Great Link, I'm not going to stop you. But for right now, I need you here, focused. Please promise me that you're not going to Link with her again. Not until this is over.
ROM: Brother, are you all right?
QUARK: No, I am not all right. I just shared a bottle of kanar with Damar. (He cracks up.) That rhymes!
JAKE: You're drunk.
QUARK: Of course I'm drunk. I wouldn't risk coming in here and associating myself with your little resistance cell if I wasn't drunk.
KIRA: Well, then maybe you'd better leave before someone sees you.
QUARK: I tried. I tried my best to run my establishment under this occupation. But you know what? It's no fun. I don't like Cardassians. They're mean and arrogant. And I can't stand the Jem'Hadar. They're creepy. They just stand there like statues, staring at you. That's it. I don't want to spend the rest of my life doing business with these people. I want the Federation back! I want to sell root beer again!
KIRA: All right, you made your point. Relax.
QUARK: How can I relax when there are thousands of Jem'Hadar ships sitting on the other side of the wormhole, waiting to come through?
JAKE: Don't worry about it. They're stuck there.
QUARK: Not if what Damar told me is true. (Uh oh.)
ODO: Have our people always been shape-shifters, or was there a time when we were like the solids?
FOUNDER: Eons ago we were like them, limited to one form, but then we evolved.
ODO: On the homeworld, are you always in the Link, or do you sometimes take solid form?
FOUNDER: We prefer the Link, but on occasion it is interesting to exist as something else. A tree perhaps, or a cloud in the sky.
ODO: A cloud? How many of us are there?
FOUNDER: Oh. So many questions, Odo!
ODO: I'm sorry. But there's still so much that isn't clear to me yet.
FOUNDER: If you Link with me again, everything will be made clear to you.
ODO: You have to understand that the Link is very overwhelming for me. Right now, it's easier to talk.
FOUNDER: But words are so clumsy, so imprecise.
ODO: Even so.
FOUNDER: As you wish.
ODO: You haven't told me your name.
FOUNDER: What use would I have for a name?
ODO: To differentiate yourself from the others.
FOUNDER: I don't.
ODO: But you are a separate being, aren't you?
FOUNDER: In a sense.
ODO: When you return to the Link, what will happen to the entity I'm talking to right now?
FOUNDER: The drop becomes the ocean.
ODO: And if you choose to take solid form again?
FOUNDER: The ocean becomes a drop.
ODO: Ah, yes. I think I'm beginning to understand.
FOUNDER: Then you can answer your own question. How many of us are there?
ODO: One. And many. It depends on how you look at it.
FOUNDER: Very good. You are beginning to understand. But there's so much you don't know.
ODO: Tell me.
FOUNDER: Words would be insufficient. Link with me again. It is the only way I can give you the understanding that you seek.
ODO: I can't.
FOUNDER: Why not?
ODO: I promised Kira.
FOUNDER: She is a solid. This has nothing to do with her. This is about you -- about what you want. (The devil uses those words...)
KIRA: What the hell happened? Why didn't you disable that alarm?
ODO: It's difficult to explain.
KIRA: Rom is sitting in a holding cell being interrogated! He was counting on you! I was counting on you!
ODO: I know.
KIRA: You know? Do you realize what you just did? You just handed the Alpha Quadrant to the Dominion!
ODO: I was in the Link.
KIRA: Are you saying you forgot?
ODO: I didn't forget. It just didn't seem to matter.
KIRA: A lot of people are going to die! Don't you care?
ODO: It has nothing to do with me.
KIRA: How can you say that?
ODO: If you could experience the Link, you'd know why nothing else matters.
KIRA: The last five years, your life here, our friendship, none of that matters?
ODO: It did once. I wish I could make you understand. But you can't. You're not a changeling.
KIRA: That's right. I'm a solid.
(Kira leaves the Link addict, and the Founder comes out of the other room.)
FOUNDER: You look troubled, Odo. Did she upset you?
ODO: No, not really. (Creeptastic. It's just a shame the writers end up borking the follow-through.)