DS9 Episode 1.4: A Man Alone

In which there is very little actual suspense about a murder case, and Julian has obviously not seen Wayne’s World.

Memory Alpha says: An old enemy of Odo’s is murdered behind locked doors, and all the evidence points to Odo as the killer. (For detailed information, please click the Memory Alpha link.)

My Review
I think I remember finding this a pretty good episode, so I’m interested to see what I think this time. It has the advantage of focusing on Odo, who is reliably interesting. Rene Auberjonois feels to me like one of the tentpoles of early DS9, in the way that Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner were in early TNG; without such charismatic performances, the show would have been much weaker and more likely to fold. DS9 was in a stronger position to begin with, having the proven success of TNG to support it (and provide justification for giving it time to find its style), but I do think that if Stewart and Spiner hadn’t been as good as they were, TNG might not have stayed on the air long enough to become awesome. (Yes, Jonathan Frakes helped by growing a beard, I am not denigrating his contribution.)

Part of why Odo is so interesting is that, like Spock and Data before him, he is a central character who is close to human but not, and provides interesting commentary on humanity from an outside perspective. These characters are a real strength of Star Trek. Spock was half human and didn’t want to be; he was uncomfortable with his emotional nature even while being defined, and sometimes defining himself, by an intense and tender lifelong friendship (it hurts my heart that Spock and Kirk were so far apart in the last years of their lives, jsyk; that Kirk died with Picard beside him, not Spock. You could write an absolutely beautiful death scene with Spock taking care of Kirk and make everyone cry buckets. You’d have to do this in a movie quite different from Generations, but I’m down with that, Generations is not all that good). He often came across as smug or superior in his attitude to humans, and always identified culturally as Vulcan, but on the other hand, chose to spend his career and life among them instead of within Vulcan society at the Science Academy or on any of the Vulcan-only ships of the fleet. Quick! Wrest back control of this review before it’s all about Spock!

Data would have loved to be more human, almost uncritically, and worked towards that goal his whole life – his situation is really the simplest, the only barrier being capability rather than willingness. And, of course, Data is adorable and very easily accepted by most humans; his admiration and emulation, the opposite of Spock’s attitude, are flattering (as long as he’s not smiling creepily). Odo is a step further away from either of those positions because being human isn’t really the question for him, only being humanoid. He grew up with Cardassians and Bajorans, encountering humans relatively late in life. He’s proud and prickly and in some ways longs to be like everyone else, but in others wants to be definitively different, if only he knew what the valid different thing to be was. Spock had a clear-cut choice between two cultures, although he did a lot of fence-sitting; Data knows what he would choose if he had a choice (like a shot); Odo has humanoid, mainly Bajoran culture on one side, and a big unknown on the other. So that gives him a very interesting and deep-rooted central conflict that I think the show explores beautifully.

Okay! The episode begins not with Odo, but with our first look at a holosuite, as opposed to holodeck. It’s smaller, but also more complicated-looking, with lots of different panels in the walls compared with the simple black and orange grid. Jadzia is using a meditation program involving what looks like a large shimmery soap bubble, and Julian enters the room behind her. It is just lucky that Jadzia is as mentally old, experienced and confident as she is, because if she were just a regular young person, I could see her being quite bothered by Julian’s obliviousness to boundaries. He’s intrusive. Without looking round, she recognises him by the sound of his footsteps, and he smarms ‘You are remarkable.’

Jadzia says, very kindly, ‘Julian, you and I need to have a talk about Trills and relationships.’ (I believe this talk might involve phrases like ‘no idea what you’re getting into,’ ‘would snap you like a twig’ and ‘never gonna happen.’ Sidetracking myself, why is it that Julian’s relationships with men are so well written, believable and endearing, but his interactions with women always make me roll my eyes? What in the world did he and Leeta find to talk about, for example? Other than her boobs, which I accept were the foundation of the relationship?) He rolls right over this and says they can discuss that over supper tonight with some fancy ‘champagne’ Quark has sourced for him from Coris I. Can I just say?

Cassandra: I don’t believe I’ve ever had French champagne before…
Benjamin: Oh, actually all champagne is French, it’s named after the region. Otherwise it’s sparkling white wine. Americans of course don’t recognize the convention, so it becomes that thing of calling all of their sparkling whites ‘champagne,’ even though by definition they’re not.
Wayne: Ah yes, it’s a lot like Star Trek: The Next Generation. In many ways it’s superior but will never be as recognized as the original.

Then Julian is distracted by the shiny object and asks what it is. Jadzia explains it’s a kind of puzzle, and he says ‘I love puzzles’ in the most oily tone you can possibly imagine, as if hoping that hearing this will instantly loosen her knicker elastic. The puzzle sounds simple – mentally change the bubble to a solid colour – but Dax has been working on it off and on for 140 years without finding the solution. She invites him to give it a try – which involves her touching his head and him making creepy faces and commenting on her ‘cold hands, warm heart.’ Jadzia reminds him he’s got to concentrate, and he says that he understands completely, then asks her about her perfume. Oh Early Julian, you are such a twat sometimes. Perhaps because she basically sees him as a kid, Jadzia is amused. When he says he’s ready, she turns the puzzle over to him, and it immediately fritzes out.

‘Think your mind is still a little busy, Julian!’ Jadzia smirks. He asks desperately if she is free for supper, but she blows him off and goes off with her BFF Sisko, leaving him to gloomily reset the puzzle and try again.

I bet Garak is free for supper. Just saying.

THEME MUSIC OF MELANCHOLY GRANDEUR

It says ‘Guest Stars: Rosalind Chao’ so brace yourselves, we’re getting Keiko. I feel that I have to make a disclaimer to be fair to Keiko: she is in a rotten, frustrating situation on DS9, she does make some efforts to make the best of it, and she does sometimes behave like an affectionate and supportive spouse (seriously, even when she’s not demonically possessed). But then there are all the times when she’s like MILES EDWARD O’BRIEN! YOU’RE PLAYING THAT GONG WRONG! and loses my sympathy completely.

I just want to apologise quickly, because as I typed MILES EDWARD O’BRIEN! I thought of Merry Christmas in Avenue Q yelling ‘BLIAN! COME BACK HERE, YOU TAKE OUT LECYCRABRES!’ and it cracked me up, so I guess I’m a rittle bit lacist. Actually, ‘The More You Ruv Someone’ probably could be Miles and Keiko’s song, so I’ll let it stand. But I will resist the temptation to make LJ icons of O’Brien asking ‘How many Oriental wives have you got?’ and Benny yelling ‘I can’t even GET a taxi!’

For now.

In Quark’s, Odo is propping up the bar, scanning the room, and exchanging world-weary but not hostile bickers with the proprietor. They notice the O’Briens having a quarrel up at one of the mezzanine tables, Miles saying that they made a decision, Keiko arguing that that’s not true, he made a decision and asked her to agree. Odo remarks that he’s never understood the humanoid need to ‘couple,’ which Quark seizes on with lecherous curiosity (I think it’s fairly illustrative of both of them that Odo is using ‘couple’ to mean ‘live together as spouses’ and Quark assumes it means ‘have sex’). Odo goes on to make this distinctly odd speech:

Choose not to. Too many compromises. You want to watch the karo-net tournament, she wants to listen to music – so you compromise: you listen to music. You like Earth Jazz, she prefers Klingon opera – so you compromise: you listen to Klingon opera. So here you were, ready to have a nice night watching the karo-net match and you wind up spending an agonizing evening listening to Klingon opera.

Firstly: I like it when Odo uses Rorshach-like diction. I think he would definitely enjoy Watchmen. Secondly, he seems to be talking about watching sports on something like TV, which seems anachronistic for Star Trek. Thirdly, Riker is pleased as Punch to hear you like jazz. Fourthly, Odo is talking as if ‘compromises’ are always made in the woman’s favour, when right up there on the mezzanine is evidence that they’re sometimes made in the man’s. Fifthly, where does he get his impression of relationships from? Does he have a deputy who’s always whining to him about his rotten marriage? Sixthly, ha ha ha I know you really love Kira, and if she said she liked Klingon opera you’d be all about that shit. But actually, she seems like the kind of girl who’d like to watch the game with you (and probably yell at the umpire when she disagreed with his calls). So that’s all right.

Upstairs, Keiko tries to do a flounce, and O’Brien pleads with her to sit down. Odo wonders what they’re fighting about, Quark says ‘She doesn’t like it here’ and Odo says wryly, ‘Who does?’

(Okay, there’s the point where people start singing ‘It Sucks To Be Me.’)

Sisko and Dax come down the stairs from the holosuite floor to the mezzanine, and Quark leers up at Jadzia rapturously.

Odo: Huh. Don’t even think about it.
Quark (gleefully): I can SO think about it!

Need I say, I consider Armin Shimerman another tentpole, and the way he and Auberjonois work together is always an absolute delight. Because of their heavy character makeup, their performances tend to be a bit more stylised and theatrical than the other actors’, and they harmonise very nicely in their scenes together. Odo rightly thinks Quark doesn’t have a hope in hell, but misreads the situation with Sisko, thinking he fancies Jadzia. Quark disagrees, points out that before Dax’s latest gender transition, they were old friends, but Odo says repressively ‘Things change.’ Then he gets distracted by the sight of a Bajoran man over by the gaming tables, and asks Quark when he got here.

On the mezzanine, Jadzia is being an old coot about her food, ordering something called steamed azda (I’m going to assume it’s a really boring healthy vegetable, for people who think plomeeks are a bit adventurous) and telling Sisko he ought to eat it too. Sisko talks about the wonderful dinners his dad would cook when he was a kid, I guess to indicate that he thinks of food as family and flavour and pleasure, not as medicine. Jadzia tuts that steamed azda would put years on his life, to which he retorts that he doesn’t want extra years if he has to spend them eating steamed azda, and they have a good laugh together, and if they say ‘steamed azda’ one more time I’m going to develop a twitch. You know what you should have instead of steamed azda? Edamame.

The conversation turns to Sisko missing Curzon, and he gets a bit tangled up with his pronouns and verb tenses as he tries to express his affection and respect for Dax. Jadzia gently says that sometimes friendships don’t survive the changeover between Trill hosts, and he says he’s sure that won’t happen to them, he’s just a bit uncomfortable at the moment. She gives him permission to ‘feel comfortable with his discomfort,’ I guess meaning that he’s not being a bad friend by feeling this way, she understands, and says time will do the rest.

Across the mezzanine, Keiko does do a flounce, leaving O’Brien looking gloomy at his table. Sisko and Dax notice this and look… hard to define, I think Dax is sympathetic but Sisko is less readable and I suspect him of thinking O’Brien isn’t managing his life or wife very well. Poor bloody O’Brien heads down the stairs to the main floor, where Odo is just moving to confront that Bajoran dude he spotted earlier.

Can I just mention that I really dig how fluidly this scene moves between the different groups of people in the bar to move the story along? It’s very well structured without calling undue attention to its structure.

Odo doesn’t want this guy on the station; he reckons he has every right to be there. Odo, my beloved little fascist, says he decides who has rights and who doesn’t on this promenade, and the guy says he’d better check that with his new Federation boss (cut to Sisko watching from above) and Odo’s all HE’S NOT THE BOSS OF ME and shoves him, then knocks him to the floor. They’re starting a proper dust-up when Sisko intervenes, and Odo does his own flounce, snarling ‘You have twenty-six hours to get off this station.’ I.e. a day and a night, because DS9 runs on a 26-hour day.

On the upper level of the Promenade, Keiko is looking glumly out the window at the stars, wearing an unattractive waistcoat with froggy toggle things fastening it. Miles approaches and says he’s willing to ask for a transfer if that’ll make her happy, but she thinks that’s not fair either because he’ll lose his promotion (to what? Isn’t he an eternal Chief Petty Officer?). He says not necessarily, but she’s just really bummed and doesn’t know what to do. Understandably, she’s unhappy because she’s a botanist and there’s nothing for her to do on this station (on the Enterprise she had that nice big arboretum and I guess lots of field trips to planets). Miles brightsides that there’s a whole new quadrant of plants on the other side of the wormhole, and she sulks that she’s not getting to go there. He points out, with remarkable patience, that he’ll make sure she gets a chance to go when they send runabouts through, and she demonstrates her ability to lose my sympathy on a dime by crossing her arms and snottily saying ‘I don’t need favours from you.’

Um, no, you see, when people do you favours they expect you to pay them back. That right there was your husband trying to be kind and helpful because God knows why, he loves you. His payback would be seeing you happy. Shut up, Keiko.

Keiko says she just needs to be useful (and constantly appeased). Miles suggests that she could beautify the prom with trees and flowers, or start an arboretum to raise specimens from the newly explored worlds, but she’s looking down at Jake Sisko wandering around mopily and asks ‘Do you really want to raise your daughter in this place, Miles?’

You were fine raising her on the Enterprise where something bizarre happens every week, Keiko. They just had nicer décor and a less rowdy bar. You are absolutely allowed to be frustrated and sad because you’re not getting to practise the career you love, but don’t make this about Molly, that’s disingenuous. I would also sympathise with Keiko if she said they’d left behind their community on the Enterprise and she misses their friends – but she doesn’t. Say that, I mean. I’m sure she does miss them. How do you not miss Data? I’m missing him right now.

Before O’Brien can respond to the guilt trip, Kira calls his commbadge to say he’s needed to be Mr Fixit – all the upper docking pylons are out of order. One of the things I find perversely endearing about DS9 in these early days is how crappy it is. He starts off to deal with it, but turns back and looks at Keiko for a moment, as if he’s trying to think what to say, then gives up and goes. Awww, O’Brien.

You know, I always feel like such a bad feminist because I side with him so much, but goddamnit, he’s just a more likeable person. He reminds me of wombats and teddybears and he has a lovely gruff voice with one of the world’s best accents and he was in The Commitments. So much for female solidarity.

On the lower promenade, Nog’s buying a popsicle. I know they’re officially ‘jumja sticks’ or something, but come on, they’re clearly popsicles. Or ice lollies, if you want to be English about it. Jake approaches and tries to make friends, but Nog is grumpy and suspicious and hew-mons him. Jake points out that there isn’t a big choice of people to make friends with here, and Nog gives him a Look, but when Jake says ‘You know what I mean,’ he relents a bit and gives his name. I actually think Nog is pretty nice here – given that Jake’s dad put him in the brig not long ago, it would be understandable if he didn’t want to talk to him at all. Obviously, loneliness trumps resentment.

Cut to Sisko’s office, where Odo is explaining his problem with the guy from Quark’s. His name is Ibudan, or maybe Ibu Dan, and he was a black marketeer during the occupation, running goods through Terok Nor. Some Bajorans saw him as a heroic figure, but Odo thought he was a dick because he let a kid die when her parents couldn’t pay his price for medicine. (Odo is in favour of public healthcare.) He’s done time for murder, since he killed a Cardassian officer who wanted a bribe – Odo made sure he went to jail, but he’s been released by the provisional government because hey, it was only a Cardassian. Sisko doesn’t think there’s much they can do, but Odo is adamant he’s going to get him off ‘my promenade.’ Sisko argues that Ibudan can’t be forced to leave if he hasn’t broken the law, but Odo doesn’t care about that. In his second memorable speech of the episode, and a really character-defining one, he says that laws change depending on who’s in charge, but justice is justice. The way he pronounces ‘justice’ is wonderful – it’s a sacred word.

Sisko isn’t as thrilled as I am, and barks that if Odo can’t work within the rules, he’ll find someone else who can. Odo leaves wordlessly.

An idyllic spa setting, presumably in a holosuite. While soft breezes flutter filmy curtains and little birds and insects and froggies chirp, Ibudan gets a back-rub from a lady in a gauzy white gown and webbed fingers. She starts smooching his back, so it’s that kind of holosuite program, but then she’s pushed away by a black-gloved hand (very giallo) which then raises a gleaming knife over his prone form and plunges it down.

From murder most horrid to children’s games – Nog and Jake are giggling over (basically) a matchbox full of little bugs.

And then some more childishness, as Julian catches up with Jadzia, and says that he guesses he knows the competition now, and did she have a nice dinner with Commander Sisko? Twat. Jadzia decides now is the time for that talk and explains that Trills don’t go looking for romance the way humans do – that’s for young people, and although a host may have those feelings, the goal is to rise above them and operate on a higher plane. Julian will not take a hint, but fortunately is interrupted by a call from the Sisko. He skips away saying he still has that champagne, and Jadzia smiles and shakes her head at his cluelessness. It’s only méthode champenoise.

That was an interesting statement considering that later on, we see that Jadzia pretty much bangs who she likes when she likes. Either a) Jadzia doesn’t walk the talk, b) the writers changed their minds about Trill principles, c) she draws a distinction between ‘romance’ and a good screw to clear out the cobwebs, or d) she’s trying to make Julian stop humping her leg without hurting his feelings.

Nog releases his little bugs in the replimat and they make two Bajoran diners first itch terribly, then start changing colours. They panic, but the effect wears off, and they sit down sheepishly. However, one of Odo’s deputies has noticed Jake and Nog watching and giggling from their hiding place, and leads them away by their collars. Keiko is nearby and watches this disapprovingly. O’Brien is presumably still at work on those pylons and she’s on her own on the promenade. Who’s looking after Molly right now?

In the holosuite, the dead man is now lying on the metal floor while Julian scans him with a tricorder. I suppose autopsies aren’t nearly as messy when you can use one of those. Odo paces around them, reciting for Kira and Sisko what happened here: the door opened only twice, the first time when Ibudan checked in for the ‘massage’ program, then thirteen minutes later when the killer must have left. There’s no sign of anyone beaming in during that time. It appears the killer must have entered at the same time as Ibudan, with or without his knowledge. Julian reports that the knife was thrust between the ‘left and right thoracic vertebrae’ to penetrate the heart, suggesting a knowledge of Bajoran anatomy (or luck, I’m just saying). Sisko tells him to CSI around for evidence of anyone else being in the suite with the victim. Only two ships have left the station since the death, a Federation survey ship and a Vulcan science vessel, and Sisko gives the order for no more to be allowed out until they can work out what’s happened. Odo squats beside Ibudan and looks up to Kira, then down at him.

In the O’Briens’ quarters (I always want to put ‘apartment,’ I’m so unmilitary) Keiko is serving a meal and ranting about the kids ‘looking for trouble.’ O’Brien (looking quite unenthusiastic about the Japanese food, and having trouble with his chopsticks) says they can’t be kept locked in their rooms, and she says that it’s not like a starship, it isn’t safe for children to have as much freedom here as they did on the Enterprise. Remember those little boys sneaking into the observation lounge and leaving their toys lying around in ‘The Last Outpost’? Not so much freedom as bloody slackness. Besides, were children really all that safe on the Enterprise? It did seem to get shot at a lot. And have problems with Borg, and Q, and Romulans. And maybe Keiko’s repressing the time Miles (along with Data and Troi) got possessed and threatened her and Molly. And the time that little boy ate some poisonous plant thing and could have died when they were delayed getting him to a medical facility because Data went off his nut and hijacked the ship.

Anyway, she thinks what this place needs is a school.

So… she really wants a school to control and contain the children, not to give them an opportunity to learn interesting things and better themselves. (I’m a teacher, and like many teachers I feel very strongly that training children in good behaviour is their parents’ job.)

Kira reports to Sisko, who’s meeting with another Bajoran dude, a Mr Zeyra, who runs something called Transit Aid. He’s told Sisko that he was talking with Ibudan about an hour before he died, in Quark’s (which he pronounces to rhyme with forks – I find it very noticeable that most people rhyme Quark with park, including Quark, but a few, noticeably Odo, rhyme it with fork. I’ve always suspected Odo is doing it to needle him and Quark doesn’t correct him to show he doesn’t care and thus needle him back. I know that the subatomic particle ‘quark’ can be pronounced either way, but that’s not somebody’s name. We’re back to that argument Dr Pulaski and Data had about whether she could call him ‘dattah’). Zeyra, who seems obviously fishy to me, says that after the scuffle with Odo, Ibudan told him he was scared, and thought Odo might kill him.

Kira immediately speaks up for Odo’s character, because she’s a good friend, but Zeyra just says ‘All I know is that an hour later Ibudan was dead,’ as if that proves something. Because Zeyra seems smarmy and untrustworthy, the audience is never really allowed to suspect Odo; thus the suspense becomes ‘Will Odo be able to clear his name?’ rather than ‘Did Odo actually snap and waste a guy?’ Much safer territory, don’t you think?

Odo looks around Ibudan’s quarters on the ship he arrived in, and notes that he had double accommodations. The captain says that’s what he requested, and he thought he just wanted more space. He leaves to get the copy of the ship’s manifest that Odo requests. Odo goes over to the cabin’s computer terminal and asks to see Ibudan’s day planner. Here I say waaaait a minute… couldn’t the captain have called up the manifest on that same terminal? The information comes up – again, in Chicago font – and apparently this ship departed from ‘Alderaan Spaceport.’ They’ve rebuilt, then?

We can see from the day planner screens that Ibudan was pretty punctilious about his time – he notes things like ‘Shopping on the Promenade’ instead of just being like ‘free time whatever.’ On his last day alive, his to-do list read:

Tennis (Holodeck 2)
Meeting with Ahern
Lunch at Quark’s Place
Transit Aid
Back up computer files
Prepare project review report
Odo

That’s some pretty ominous bolding there. Also, how cosmopolitan of a Bajoran to play tennis. Odo looks troubled, as well he might.

In the Siskos’ apartment, Keiko is pitching her school idea, and the Sisko is in favour because he’s extremely miffed about what happened on the prom, and does not want Jake playing with Nog again. (This, of course, will just drive Jake and Nog closer together.) Keiko seems to have put on a business suit, I guess to make her proposal seem more professional, even though she’s totally not a teacher. Jake complains that Nog is the only other kid even close to his age, but Keiko says there are twelve others aged eight to sixteen. She wants them to have ‘structured activities,’ and Jake admits that studying alone on the computer is a bit boring. Keiko has a line sure to irritate real teachers, ‘I’ve never actually been a teacher, but it’s something I’ve always thought about doing.’ I’ve never actually been a zookeeper, but I’ve thought about it a lot because I love animals, and do I try to shovel tiger poo? Every bugger thinks they can teach because every bugger’s been to school. It’s a really hard job and you do need specialised training, then continue to learn on the job for years. Also, is Keiko going to bring her pre-school aged daughter along and try to look after her at the same time, or hire a childminder?

Sisko thinks it’s a great idea, though, and promises her a space and the computers she wants. He warns her it may not be easy because of the cultural diversity of the few children on the station, and that he has no authority to make the Bajorans, Ferengi, etcetera send their kids to her. Keiko, though, is sure all the parents will love it. Ha ha ha ha she’s going to get so much shit from Kai Winn down the line. (What I particularly like about their clash is that they’re both demonstrably right, just from different perspectives, which can’t be said for the equivalent debate about Creationism in schools on Earth. There are aliens living in the wormhole, and they are the prophets of the Bajoran religion.) After she leaves, Sisko growls at Jake some more about Nog. You know what I just realised? Only Jake and Nog have got into trouble, as far as we or Keiko know. She didn’t even really check whether there was a demand for a school before proposing this. With so few kid-having families on the station, wouldn’t it have been easy to visit each one and say ‘Would you be interested in a station school if we opened one?’, then present their responses to Sisko to support her suggestion?

In Medical, Julian shows Kira and Odo his CSI stuff, which Jadzia has double checked: there were no new DNA traces found in the holosuite. The only traces of skin, hair, fingerprints etcetera were from people they already knew had been in there, Ibudan and the personnel investigating his death. (I can only suppose that a holosuite runs some kind of very thorough scrubbing routine on itself between uses, otherwise, how can I put this delicately? I would expect there to be a LOT of different people’s DNA in there. A LOT.)

Kira points out that this sounds pretty much impossible. Odo agrees, ‘unless the murder was committed by someone who could get through the cracks in the door. Say… a shapeshifter.’ DUN DUN DUN.

Odo and Kira walk into Ops (both with their hands clasped behind their backs, which amuses me for some reason) as he recites how neatly he’s been sewn up – the calendar shows Ibudan was planning to meet him at the time the murder occurred, only he could have entered the holosuite undetected, and because he could be expected to be called to the scene of the crime, naturally traces of his DNA would be found there. Does he have DNA? Kira asks if he has an alibi, and he explains that he was in his bucket at the time. The murder might even have been timed to coincide with that. He can think of about 500 people who might want to frame him, but he hasn’t seen any of them lately. He asks for Julian to CSI around in Ibudan’s cabin, to see if anyone else was using that second bed. Kira promises she’ll tell him, and watches him go, looking troubled.

At Quark’s, Keiko is trying to convince Rom to send Nog to her school (so… she’s trying to make sure that Jake and Nog, who Sisko doesn’t want to see each other, will see each other five days a week?), and Rom doesn’t have his Rom Voice yet – or, really, his personality. She promises she’s ‘developing a curriculum’ for all the kids, not just the Federation ones (you know, I would really rather she’d just GET a curriculum from a reputable correspondence school than make one up on her own), and explains that she knows Ferengi education is based on work-study and apprenticeships. Or, as Rom says, they throw them straight into the cut-throat world of commerce and anyone who survives, graduates. Can she teach that? Keiko hits on a good argument by saying that Nog will have an advantage over other Ferengi kids if he’s studied other cultures and understands their business models. Rom is clearly swayed a little, but his final objection is that Nog will not learn from a female, human teacher. The best Keiko can get out of him is a dismissive agreement to think about it.

As she flounces out (I think flouncing out of places is Keiko’s chief mode of locomotion), the camera shifts to that jerk Zeyra chatting to two other man at the bar and blackening Odo’s name. He’s encouraging the doubts and prejudices of the other Bajorans – what do they really know about Odo? Since he worked for the Cardassians, why is he still the sheriff? Won’t someone please think of the children? At this point, Quark decides to be a good friend too, and puts a word in for Odo’s character.

‘He’s an ill-tempered, overbearing crosspatch. But he was no Cardassian collaborator, and he’s no killer.’

Zeyra asks why he would defend Odo, since he’s his worst enemy. Quark says that’s the closest thing Odo has to a friend. I disagree, Zeyra, I would say that Quark is Odo’s best enemy. A Mysterious Hooded Figure further along the bar has been listening to all this.

In Ibudan’s cabin, Julian is noseying around with little glowy instruments, singing ‘Who Are You?’ in his head. Since he isn’t being obnoxious at the moment, I just enjoy how pretty he is. (His hair, at this stage, is too fluffy, though.)

In Ops, a group of concerned citizens/douchebags has arrived to complain to Sisko, Dax and Kira about Odo. Zeyra puts on a front of reasonableness – he doesn’t state it directly, but I think he’s asking for Odo to be suspended while the case is investigated – and Kira gets up in his face and says ‘Thank you for coming,’ in a very ‘Fuck you for coming’ voice. She’s upset and indignant, because she believes in Odo, but Dax and Sisko both argue that for him to investigate a case in which he’s a suspect is a conflict of interest, and there’s no choice but to relieve him of duty. She tries again to defend him, pointing out how openly he’s conducted his investigation, when he could have been covering his tracks, but the Sisko is unmoved.

Julian reports to Odo that the only odd thing he found in the cabin was some fragments in the ‘matter reclamation unit’ (garbage disposal). He recognises them as bits from a biological sample container, the kind he often uses, and there are traces of organic gunk on them that imply Ibudan was doing some sort of medical experiment, although he wasn’t a doctor or a biologist. A bit more fiddling shows that the gunk includes DNA. Julian’s going to try to reconstruct the sequence and work out what Ibudan was growing. To this end, he puts a petri dish in a tank of glowy blue water. Science!

Odo reports to the Sisko’s office, where he’s temporarily relieved of duty. Kira and Dax are going to continue the investigation. I would absolutely trust Dax to handle this matter, she’s extremely moral and sensible, but since Odo is being removed from the case for a conflict of interest, why is Kira okay to work on it? He’s her friend and she’s sure he’s innocent. Also, what about the rest of the security officers on the station? Doesn’t Odo have a number two? Why don’t we hear anything from the security officers in this story, anyway? They must have a clear opinion of Odo, whether it’s that he’s hard but fair and definitely not the murdering kind, or that he’s a grumpy old sod but definitely not the murdering kind. If they think he’s a good boss and trust him, wouldn’t some of them try to speak up for him, if only because a new boss would be an unknown quantity and might be worse?

Odo stays very much on his dignity in this interview, asking only if that will be all. Sisko says that he doesn’t personally believe Odo did this, but Odo doesn’t buy that. He says Sisko doesn’t really know him or have any reason to believe he wouldn’t kill Ibudan if he wanted to – there’s no way he doesn’t feel some doubt. Sisko insists that he just thinks this decision is in everyone’s best interest, including Odo’s, but this cuts no ice. In this situation, I really have no sense of what Sisko’s personal response is. He’s just being the reasonable but by-the-book Starfleet commander, personality-free. He doesn’t have any visible reaction to Odo’s hostile response to that sop he tried to throw him. (Contrast that, by the way, with Picard’s visible reactions to Sisko’s hostility in their first interview in ‘Emissary.’ Sisko doesn’t have any reason to feel as guilty as Picard did, but he’s so impassive you get no sense of how he feels – indeed, I have no idea whether he really believes Odo’s innocent, or just says that to mollify him because it’s politic – after all, if Odo is cleared, he’ll have to keep working with him. Early Sisko is so inexpressive, and I’m probably going to get pretty tired of it before Avery Brooks starts giving him more personality.)

Odo strides off down the prom, and those concerned douchebags from earlier mutter ‘That’s him.’ I see Morn! Hi Morn. Did you kill Ibudan? When he reaches his office, he finds that someone has been in and trashed the place – monitors are broken, the chairs are overturned, and the word ‘SHIFTER’ is burned into the wall. He picks up a chair and goes over to his desk, the shiny top of which is shattered, and picks up a couple of shards. He looks desolate.

Quark appears in the doorway, and because he is a good frenemy, offers ‘I can find out who did it for you.’ Odo turns around sharply and says ‘Not for me. Tell it to Starfleet. I’m not in charge here any longer.’ Quark says that’s good news, and he’ll be taking full advantage of it. Odo growls that Quark will get sloppy without his scrutiny, but Quark doesn’t think so. ‘Sure,’ Odo says bitterly, ‘Turned you into a better crook.’

‘Like it or not,’ says Quark, and has a little cackle. Odo asks if he could use a shapeshifter in his ‘organisation’ (honestly, I don’t think Quark has anything so grand as an organisation, just a lot of contacts). Quark looks very uncertain for a moment or two before giving an uncomfortable chuckle and saying Odo had him going there. They actually have a little laugh together, or Odo gets as close as he can to laughing, a sort of ‘hrmm hrmm hrmm’ in his throat, before snatching back the pad Quark picked up when he came in. Quark’s not through helping, though. He says he’s asked his contacts in the prison system about Ibudan, whether he made any enemies inside. Not really; he mostly hung out with Bajoran dissidents that the Cardassians locked up. As he says this, Quark picks up another pad from the floor, then hands it over to Odo with a big smile. Did he pass Odo a note?

In the lab, what’s on the slab? Julian’s tank of blue glowy water now contains a gross jellyfish looking thing. Dax thinks its DNA patterns are humanoid, but there’s a genetic drift that looks odd to Julian. They’re going to move it to a larger container. Sisko, who I suppose may be thinking it’s about time to get to know Julian a little, invites him and Dax for lunch – he accepts, but she has to give Kira her report.

At Quark’s for lunch, Julian just wants to talk about Jadzia. He and Sisko have what looks like peach juice in square glasses that look uncomfortably edgy to drink from, and like they would make you dribble a lot. I’m often critical of Quark’s glassware. Sisko isn’t sure how many hosts Dax has had, because every now and then she’ll mention another one, but he thinks Jadzia is number six. Julian wants to know if she’s changed much from Curzon, since Trills integrate the personality of the new host. Sisko says he’ll have to find out, and, smiling fondly, talks about the ‘mischief’ he and Curzon used to get up to. (Julian’s smile starts to congeal a bit.) He starts to tell a story about going to the races with Curzon and picking up fancy twin alien ladies, but trails off ‘I guess we won’t be doing that again soon.’ I don’t know, Jadzia’s a game girl.

Testing the waters, Julian says ‘You care for her a great deal, don’t you?’ The Sisko says he and Jadzia are only friends, and he’s not Julian’s competition. (The thing is, Julian, you’re actually competing with yourself in a way, the over-eager, pushy, desperate you versus the rather sweet, very clever, tremendously pretty you, and that’s how you beat yourself, too, because that first guy? He’s louder. Do you notice how right now you’re just talking to Sisko like he’s a normal person? You’re about eight times more attractive this way. THINK ON.) Julian says that if he were in Sisko’s place, knowing Dax as ‘intimately’ as he does, he’d find her hard to resist, and Sisko says ‘You don’t understand, Doctor.’ Instead of saying something like ‘Being an actual grown-up man, I sometimes just want to be friends with a woman because she’s interesting and nice,’ he says something about Dax kicking his ass in some fighting game or martial art, and Julian says he guesses they won’t be doing that again any time soon. Oh my little Jujufish, how little you know.

They both notice Odo over at the bar, where Rom is refusing to serve him any more. Even Morn gets up and walks away from him, which reminds me of a fine old comic song:

‘Twas an evening in October, I’ll confess I wasn’t sober,
I was carting home a load with manly pride,
When my feet began to stutter and I fell into the gutter,
And a pig came up and lay down by my side.
Then I lay there in the gutter and my heart was all a-flutter,
Till a lady, passing by, did chance to say:
“You can tell a man that boozes by the company he chooses,”
Then the pig got up and slowly walked away.

Elsewhere, I suppose in one of the unoccupied shopfronts, Keiko is setting up her classroom with computer-desks and a really gorgeous Okudagram blackboard. O’Brien comes in, carrying Molly, and I’d just like to say that Molly is FLIPPING ADORABLE. I’m glad they kept her consistently played by the same child through DS9, a dear little girl called Hana Hatae. For whatever reason, kids who are half Asian and half something else seem to have a major lead in terms of cuteness. Clearly, Japanirish is a good combination (and she should be able to hold her liquor). I looked up Hana Hatae on IMDB just now and her only screen credit beyond DS9 is an episode of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, which as far as I can tell involved her parents’ sushi restaurant going down the tubes. Well, they tried to serve sushi pizza. Not every hybrid has vigour.

O’Brien crows to Molly, ‘Here’s Mommy!’ and I don’t even know why, but it has always vaguely irked me that they use the American ‘Mommy’ when neither of them is American. Keiko seems like more of a ‘Mama’ type (although O’Brien is definitely a ‘Daddy’ and will probably get all verklempt if his kids switch to ‘Dad’ when they get older). Molly asks Keiko where she’s been, and as she takes her from O’Brien and hugs her, she explains that she’s been getting ready for school ‘tomorrow.’ (Exactly how quickly has Keiko ‘developed’ her ‘curriculum’?) Molly asks if she can come too and Keiko says she wishes, because then she could be sure of one student attending. No-one but Sisko has actually committed to sending their kids (so actually that would make two students she can be sure of, and is she going to be teaching maths?).

Now just a sec. Keiko claimed to be worried about the effect of growing up on the station on Molly. But, she’s invented a job for herself that will take her away from Molly during the school day, and since Miles works full time, often overtime because the station is so dilapidated, this means that she’ll have to be cared for by others a lot of the time. Would it not make sense to spend more time with Molly, to try and offset any deleterious effects of her environment with lots of stories and games and projects, so she’s always got an interest and feels very safe and secure in her parents’ love? Should she not, in short, attend to her own kid before setting out to fix other people’s?

I’m honestly not saying that Keiko has to lump it and be a housewife if the job she trained for isn’t available where she lives. But I am sort of saying she’s full of shit.

Because he’s a Very Nice Husband, O’Brien has brought Keiko a present in a silver box. He says it’s just a little something he replicated earlier. Keiko asks Molly to help her open it, which I do like. It’s an old-fashioned handbell for her to ring to call her students in. She thanks him quite warmly, for her (no kiss though, I think that bell rates at least one on the cheek), and Molly plays with the bell and they all feel happy for a moment before they hear cries of ‘Murderer’ outside. O’Brien goes to see, and Keiko says she’s taking Molly home. Yes, this does make the station seem like a rather unsafe place. On the other hand, on the Enterprise sometimes people caught a bug and de-evolved into a newt, or stabbed a colleague in the shoulder because of a dream they had, or brought a stupid addictive game on board that some hooker gave them and totally ruined productivity for the week. I’m just saying.

Odo is walking along the promenade, looking back in some distress at the crowd of concerned douchebags who are following him and saying things like ‘Murderer’ and ‘You’re the killer’ and ‘Rhubarb rhubarb.’ He goes into his office, pretty much to hide, and they stare in at him through the windows, and Morn is in the crowd, and I am disappointed in him. But I love him, so I will extend the benefit of the doubt; perhaps he’s just curious, or hoping there will be food. O’Brien walks up, sizes up the situation, and calls through to Ops to request backup. Kira is on her way like a shot. Julian sees what’s going on from the windows of the sickbay, looks a bit concerned, but goes back inside to check on the weird thing he’s growing in a larger tank. It now looks like a huge cuttlefish to me. He stares at it and his lovely eyes widen as if he’s figuring something out.

Back out on the prom, a very nervous-looking Starfleet security man sidles through the mob to join two completely calm-looking Bajoran deputies protecting the door of Odo’s office. Strong words like ‘murderer’ and ‘traitor’ and ‘freak’ are being thrown around, and that titface Zeyra is right at the front yelling and grinning. I would like to know if Zeyra was actually an accomplice, and it was part of a plan for him to start stirring shit after the murder, or if he just did this on his own initiative because he’s that mean. Kira and Sisko join O’Brien at the back, who reports that the mob followed Odo from the bar. Kira is concerned about the situation escalating if the crowd grows, and wants to stop the lifts and limit access to the promenade. I enjoy how smart, competent and direct she is.

A man in the crowd throws a brick. Where the hell did he find a brick in this day and age? It spiderwebs the glass in Odo’s office door, but doesn’t go through. Now that someone’s thrown something the voices get louder. The Mysterious Hooded Stranger, an older Bajoran gentleman with a white beard, is watching all this intently.

Back in the sickbay, Julian and Jadzia’s science project is bubbling away and its chromosome patterns are changing – definitely humanoid. Julian has a lightbulb moment and calls for a ‘chromosome analysis.’ To my interest, he says ‘My God’ when he thinks of whatever he’s thinking of, and I wonder which god that is, then, considering that most Feds seem to be atheists or agnostics. Perhaps it’s just a manner of speaking; God knows I say things like that, and I’m an agnostic myself.

On the prom, more yelling, and they’ve got a semi-organised chant going on (not a really good one like ‘One two three four, we don’t want your racist tour,’ just ‘shifter, shifter’). Sisko and some yellowshoulders… shoulder their way through to the front, where Sisko asks what the hell they think they’re doing, and what they’ll do with Odo if they get him. Zeyra says, creepily, ‘He’s right. How do you get a rope around the neck of a shapeshifter?’ Mmm, a lynching. So we’re more Wild West than Casablanca this week. Sisko orders them to disperse, but the bolder people at the back of the crowd (funny how bold people are with a lot of other buggers in front of them) throw shit, knocking out one of the security men beside him. Fighting breaks out at the rear, and Sisko has to fire his phaser in the air for order. Firing a phaser in the air on board a space station seems a trifle rash to me. I suppose there’ll be some explanation like ‘a shot on Stun setting won’t punch through the hull, causing catastrophic depressurisation.’

Just then, the office doors open and Odo steps out. There are grumbles of ‘He’s a murderer. We want justice!’ Sisko makes a speech about whether they want justice or just a way to vent, and tells them that an hour from now they’ll regret this. ‘Don’t condemn this man because he is different from you,’ but Zeyra retorts that they condemn him because of the evidence. (The evidence that nobody in the crowd has actually seen – all they’ve got to go on is hearsay from Zeyra.) Sisko insists that this has to be settled in court, and there’ll be no justice done today. However, just then the galaxy’s most attractive nerd squad runs up and Julian calls out that they have new evidence – the murdered man was not Ibudan! Sisko et al follow him and Jadzia, while O’Brien and Kira move the confused and deflated crowd along.

Julian proudly announces that Ibudan was making a clone of himself. His science project has now turned into a sort of homunculus. Odo realises that it was the clone that was murdered, by the original Ibudan, in order to frame him (they must have entered the holosuite together, with only Ibudan 1.0 leaving). Jadzia and Julian can prove this because there’s… there’s something characteristic about clones’ DNA, whatever. This second clone, grown from leftover smears of the first, needs about two more days to become ‘a living, breathing member of Bajoran society.’ I find this a weird thing to say, and I also don’t quite get why the clone looks like an adult. Is it also going to have adult intelligence? How? So where is the real Ibudan? Odo thinks he knows.

Up on the ship Ibudan came on, the Mysterious Hooded Stranger enters a cabin and calls for lights. A chair in the room gloops into Odo, and challenges him. The MHS claims not to know what Odo is talking about. There are holes in MHS’s story about how he got there. Odo has what must have been an incredibly difficult line to recite, saying that until recently MHS was in a Bajoran prison where he knew a dissident scientist arrested by the Cardassians for his experiments in triphasic cloning. That was convenient! MHS tries to cut and run, but Odo gloms on and removes his mask, because of course it is Ibudan, and he would have gotten away with it, etcetera. Odo growls, ‘Killing your own clone is still murder.’ I wonder how the legal precedent for that got established.

Sisko voiceovers that Ibudan is back in the slammer and his clone has gained consciousness and ‘begun a new life.’ I can’t imagine how he could even process that. Since the clone wasn’t alive yet, I would have thought they’d terminate it before it could become so. Please tell me they didn’t feel they had to specify that the second clone lived to appease the anti-abortion lobby. The mob has dispersed, and Odo has received no apologies. Typical mob, then.

Keiko is waiting anxiously in the schoolroom, checking the time. At 9.07, Sisko brings Jake in. Military punctuality! Just when Keiko thinks nobody else is coming, Rom marches Nog in and sits him down – away from that dreadful human boy. He leaves, mumbling that they’ll try it for a few weeks. Two more little Bajoran kids in colourful onesies come in and sit down, Keiko welcomes everyone, and Sisko leaves with a smile as she starts a lesson on Bajor.

Half her class is Bajoran. And she hasn’t asked their names.

I suppose a weakness of the conclusion of this episode is that it depends too much on convenient last-minute science, and on Sisko speaking for Odo at the climax instead of Odo speaking for himself. It feels rushed, especially given how beautifully paced the early scenes were. Still, it helps to look at these early episodes in terms of what they contribute to the overall buildup of the series’ world. We’ve learned more about how both Jadzia and Odo ‘work.’ As in ‘Past Prologue,’ we’re seeing the continuing aftermath of the occupation and the suspicions and divisions left in its wake, which will provide a lot of complicated situations for the DS9 crew to deal with (the best of these, in Season One, being ‘Duet.’ When the time comes around, I also want to make some comparisons between ‘Duet’ and ‘The Wire’). Odo and Quark’s frenmity has been developed. Rom got a name, if not yet a personality. Julian acted like a twerp but was also very useful when actually doing his job rather than frantically trying to get his willy wet. Jake and Nog’s friendship was established, and while Jake never becomes a particularly interesting character to me (he’s a nice boy but bland. He does get more fun to look at as he gets older, as he develops entertainingly long thin arms and legs and moves kind of like Woody from Toy Story), Nog does, so I’m glad there’s something to keep him near the foreground.

And, of course, as always, it sucks to be O’Brien.

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4 Responses to “DS9 Episode 1.4: A Man Alone”

  1. Lea Says:

    >Early Julian is so much like a puppy. He tries so hard, he practically bounds around after everyone on the station. And when they brush him off he just takes it as he needs to be "more charming" in order to win there approval.I really wish someone would write a novel about his pre-DS9 life because I am really curious about what it was like. Did he have a lot of friends? What was his relationship with this ballerina he was in love with like, because Julian doesn't seem terribly good at having a mature relationship with a woman. He's good at flirting and trying to make himself desirable and then he kinda jumbles apart. As for Leeta, I think there is a reason we literally NEVER see the two of them together from the time they get together until they break up, except for like the odd touch of conversation in the background of episodes. Because even the writers couldn't see the two of them together beyond there obvious physical attraction.I really don't feel the need to add to anything you say about O'Brien and Keiko's relationship because you cover every single one of my thoughts about the two of them perfectly. I also think that questionable if it does make you a "bad feminist" to side with Miles that it makes you a good human being in the long run.In terms of Julian and Dax I go with your "D" choice. Contrary to anything Ezri tells me later, I always felt like Dax mostly saw Julian as almost like a little brother and I think she would try hard not to hurt his feelings and nurture his growth as a man.

  2. Picardigan Says:

    >You're such a loyal commenter, Lea :)I'm comfortable with Julian's early life being largely an unknown quantity, I suppose because I'd rather imagine it my own cracky fluffy way than have it pinned down canonically. (I feel the same about Garak.)

  3. dancesontrains Says:

    >so I guess I'm a rittle bit lacistYes, that was :/ I expected better of you than tired old racist tropes and 'wordplay' that doesn't even deserve the name.

  4. Picardigan Says:

    >dancesontrains: I'm sorry to have offended you. Do you feel the same way about Avenue Q, which I was quoting?


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