In which Lwaxana finds something to do other than embarrassing her daughter and Captain Picard to death; embarrassing Odo to death.
Memory Alpha says: An alien computer program wreaks havoc with the station’s systems. (Please click the Memory Alpha link for detailed information.)
I think I’ll try doing this one in full summary format, just because I like Odo and Lwaxana’s friendship so much. They’re an absolutely weird pair of characters to put together, but the interaction between them ends up being very sweet and, to me, believable.
I’m also feeling annoyed because I just worked out that ‘tags’ on WordPress are not what I think of as tags; I wanted you to be able to click on the ‘ds9’ tag for this entry and be taken to all MY DS9 entries, not entries tagged with ‘ds9’ from all over WordPress. What’s the point of that? It doesn’t make navigating my blog any easier, and that’s all I care about. Do I have to change all my ‘tags’ over to ‘categories’? Anyway.
Traditional opening narration and beauty shot of the station. Federation ambassadors are on a fact-finding mission to the wormhole, and because Sisko kind of thinks Julian’s a twat, he’s put him in charge of them. I believe this constitutes hazing – but if he’s doing it as punishment for persistently creeping on his bestie, I can get alongside it. Evidently the only people more difficult than admirals are ambassadors, because a bitchy old lady with a big forehead is complaining about her quarters. A smug Bolian likes to give advice to captains, and a Vulcan who for a second makes me think he’s being played by Jeffrey Combs (one day there will be a Star Trek series with a cast consisting entirely of Jeffrey Combs) listens a little too closely to Julian’s rather unconvincing explanation of the Very Important Job Sisko is doing and says he’d be fascinated to observe.
Julian stammers and Woosters (I’m trying to make this into a verb) and tries to invite them to the holosuite – but the lady ambassador has heard that the holosuite is for porn and is disgusted. Smug Bolian seems to like the idea. Lady Ambassador is indignant that a first-year officer (God Julian was young) has been assigned to them, and as he tries to appease her, they are interrupted by a dramatic shriek.
Because Lwaxana, over at the dabo table, thinks someone has stolen her latinum hair brooch. And she’s wearing a candy pink wig and a sort of purple macramé bullfighter jacket. She is so awesome. I’m also interested to note that she’s wearing a very cleavagey dress, and the skin on her upper chest is really good for her age – she doesn’t have a crease between her breasts and the texture isn’t crêpey. Anyway, Julian calls Quark over, but he points out that as the sign (which is very small, and over the door on the inside so you can only see it on the way out) says, the house takes no responsibility for the loss of any personal items.
So Lwaxana grabs him by the
balls ear and launches into her spiel about her titles – and calls him a troll, which is what Q called him too. Have Q and Lwaxana ever met? That would probably be too much wacky for one episode, but I do think they’d like each other, and Q would definitely approve of how she flusters Picard. She wants the room sealed and everyone in it ‘strip-searched’ until they find her brooch.
Fortunately for anyone who lacks Lwaxana’s confidence about being nude in public, Odo arrives to ask what’s going on. Lwaxana explains about the brooch, which has been in her family for thirty-six generations. Odo asks if she’s sure she wore it today, and she, fabulously, says ‘Yes, of course I’m certain. I never use this hair without it.’ Odo somehow knows she’s Betazoid, and asks if she can sense the guilty person in the room. After closing her eyes and thinking carefully, she says no, but points out that she can’t read Ferengi. Odo does what passes with him for sticking up for Quark, pointing out that although he has a lot to feel guilty about, he doesn’t usually steal. Quark, graciously: ‘Thank you.’
Odo looks around carefully, and spots an extremely shifty-looking little alien whom he commands to turn out his pockets. They’re full of commbadges and other accessories, including the precious brooch. Racial profiling works, because as Odo explains, this little dude’s species is distantly related to the Ferengi and he reasoned they might also be unreadable to Betazoids. Lwaxana thinks he’s awesome, he gives her a gentlemanly little nod, and takes the thief away – leaving Lwaxana to mash Julian’s upper arm and purr that she wants to know everything about their security chief.
Well, she is on a fact-finding mission. But I would like to know what sort of facts the Federation expected Lwaxana Troi to find out about a wormhole. ‘It’s a big hole in space. With a very unattractive name. I suggest you change the name to something more alluring so people will want to go there. How about the Butterfly Hole?’
The title of this episode was almost ‘Only the Lonely,’ and I wish they’d gone with that, because the more Roy Orbison you apply to my Star Trek the happier I am.
In Ops, O’Brien is having problems with the computer, and asking questions like ‘What are you talking about?’ which are probably not highly effective when talking to an AI. As well as having shitty computer security, the Cardies have low standards for the efficiency of their fusion power point. He grumps about the shoddy system to a young woman Bajoran engineer and makes adjustments – but the computer tells him ‘Procedure is not recommended,’ repeatedly, and refers him to the Cardassian tech manual.
Fuck that noise, reasons O’Brien, so he goes and makes adjustments manually. The Bajoran engineer tells him the power flow from Reactor Two has been cut off – because the computer thought it was in danger of overloading, when O’Brien was just trying to make it work better.
Sisko strolls out at this point, and tries to soothe O’Brien, who thinks the computer is his arch-enemy. Sisko thinks it’s okay, but O’Brien is really upset about how crap the Cardies’ system is and says he’ll need to do a ‘root canal’ rebuild that will take two or three years. Sisko is unconvinced of the value of this, and O’Brien gets as close to flouncing off as you can while remaining gruff and burly. That little display of petulance seems to convince the Sisko, who tells him ‘Do what you have to do.’
Julian now steps out of the lift, taking his ambassadors on a guided tour. Sisko turns his back and puffs out his cheeks for a moment before pasting on a big smile and turning to greet them. Avery Brooks just made me really like Sisko for the first time not involving Jake. He greets them nicely, and Madam Forehead complains about Julian’s ‘refusal’ to change her accommodations. Apparently she is not a fan of Cardassian mattresses either, and there are gargoyles in her room? While Art Deco Batman sort of gargoyles would look absolutely perfect on DS9, I don’t think I’ve ever seen any. Interesting fact: it’s only a gargoyle if it has a drainpipe built into it (usually the water drains through the gargoyle’s mouth, so it appears to be puking, but there are also peeing gargoyles). If it’s just a stonework beastie, it’s a grotesque. (That’s enough, Data.)
Her bitchery and Julian’s eyerolling are cut short by Kira reporting a UFO coming through the wormhole. Julian guides his group around for a better view, and the Bolian is disappointed by the show – he was ‘expecting more somehow.’ The UFO is a probe full of computers, but it doesn’t seem to be communicating with a mothership. Jadzia can’t work out much more about it yet, so the Vulcan ambassador, who I think I’ll call Snot, heads over saying that ‘the young woman’ clearly doesn’t have the experience to do this, and Julian gently stops him, saying that the young woman has over three hundred years’ experience. He puts his hand on Snot’s shoulder to stop him, and considering how much Vulcans dislike being touched by people they’re not close to, that might have been a mistake. Snot’s makeup is very grey and corpsey, and I wonder if he is quite well.
Jadzia suggests towing the probe into their docking ring, but Sisko wants to keep it at a little more distance until they know more about it. He asks O’Brien to see if he can download anything from it, then looks pointedly at Julian, who after a moment realises he’s being silently told to fuck off and tries to get the ambassadors moving. The Bolian ambassador, who I’ll call Marc (they have real names, of course, but I’m not learning them and ‘Marc Bolian’ makes me smirk), wants to stay in case this is the start of a First Contact, which is his favourite thing.
Sisko politely stonewalls him and tells Julian to take them to a good viewing point on the docking ring. They flounce off and Sisko puffs his cheeks again, relaxing.
In his little police station, Odo is working on a baby iPad, and I really like the neat, precise finger movements Rene Auberjonois has chosen to use on the touchscreen, with his pinky sticking out. The camera swings round to show us Lwaxana, who has changed into a flame red wig and an audacious little blue burnout lacy number, and is posing in the doorway.
She admires, and of course disrupts, Odo’s concentration on his work, ‘tracking intergalactic malefactors.’
Odo tries to brush her off with the remark ‘Most people find it rather tedious,’ but you cannot brush Lwaxana Troi off even with a spatula, and she sashays further into the office, allowing me to see that her dress, besides the lacy blue bodice with lots of mesh in that ‘I’m nude, but not nude! Tee-hee!’ kind of way, has a huge midnight blue velvety skirt that I just want to go to sleep on like a kitten. I like to imagine that when the Trek wardrobe department got word that they had a Lwaxana episode coming up, they would all squeal and exchange high-fives and run out to the back room to grab the fabulously tacky fabrics and notions they’d been saving for just such an occasion.
Lwaxana keeps piling on the flattery, calling him the Thin Beige Line between order and chaos, which is a pretty fantastic line in itself. He remains modest, saying that it’s his job, and asks if she needs anything else – he hopes she hasn’t lost anything else.
Lwaxana smiles sweetly and says ‘Only my heart.’ Odo is nonplussed. She asks if Odo is his first or last name, and he answers ‘Yes.’ So she’ll call him… Odo. She claims that his name has ‘a lyrical quality’ and leans as close to him as humanly possible. Here I’d just like to say that my first ever exposure to the name ‘Odo’ was in a picture book that I had as a small child, called Odo the Snail. It was about a snail who was bummed because he thought he was ugly and slow and heavy and all the other creepy-crawlies in the garden could do cooler things than he could, like skate on the surface of the pond or fly or spin a web. But then he met a slug who admired his strong, beautiful shell, and realised that actually it was pretty bitchin’, and felt better about himself. To my surprise, I’ve just found the text of the story here. When you read it, please imagine the slug has Quark’s voice.
So, although when I play the ‘what animal does this person remind me of’ game in my head, Odo is obviously like some kind of hawk (Julian’s a giraffe), I also think of him as a snail, because I can’t help it. A sad snail with low self-esteem who gets his horns poked back a lot.
Odo, realising that he is in an awful way over his head, tries to excuse himself. Lwaxana, who’s tracing circles round his commbadge with her fingertips, says ‘I understand you’re a shapeshifter.’
‘I’ve never been with a shapeshifter.’
After a moment of startled incomprehension, Odo almost squeaks ‘Been – with?’
Lwaxana, perhaps surprisingly, doesn’t elaborate on that and instead comments on his uniqueness, saying that while all the men she’s known have needed to be moulded and shaped (one wonders what she thought Jean-Luc Picard could be moulded into, other than an awkward turtle), he knows how to do that for himself.
Anyway, she pretty much bends him over backwards until, in utter panic, he feigns hearing a comm call and flees for Ops, where thank goodness, nobody will try to kiss him or fiddle with his badge.
Is it an interesting sign of the times that Lwaxana Troi, in the 1990s, is allowed to be so much more direct and confident about hitting on Odo than Christine Chapel, in the 1960s, was allowed to be about hitting on Spock? Poor Christine basically just seemed to cry about Spock; her attraction to him only seemed to bring her pain and humiliation. At least Uhura seemed to enjoy flirting with him through improvised song. ‘Charlie X’ is a frickin’ awesome episode.
In Ops, Jadzia and O’Brien are doing things to the computer. He’s surprised that communicating with the probe is actually working rather well, and says ‘Well done, computer’ very sweetly. Odo passes them and goes up to Sisko’s office, where he reports Lwaxana’s gratitude as ‘a problem.’ Sisko just grins as Odo explains that he’s feeling hunted, and suggests letting Lwaxana catch him: ‘A little romance, Odo.’ Ssssso… Sisko will be sympathetic to your claim of sexual harassment if you’re female and being perved on by Quark, but if you’re nominally male and being perved on by Lwaxana, he is no help and just thinks it’s funny.
I particularly like the body language Rene Auberjonois is using as he wearily sits down – looking around in lots of brief glances and avoiding direct eye contact with Sisko. He doesn’t have time for ‘romantic interludes,’ he explains, and he thinks humanoids are generally too preoccupied with this sort of thing. Sisko smirks that it does help with the procreation of the species, and I can’t help feeling like Sisko is being written as Riker in this scene. Riker would think this was a hoot and a half. (And I wouldn’t be as irritated because I like Riker, although I do think he’s incredibly workplace-inappropriate.)
After some further criticism of humanoid courtship rituals (don’t ever bring Odo flowers, I guess), Odo gets to the point – he wants Sisko to tell Lwaxana to leave him alone. Sisko continues to be completely unsympathetic and smirky, and claims he can’t help. Odo says he just doesn’t want to insult the ambassador, so Sisko tells him to handle the matter ‘with great delicacy.’
Sisko really is a dick today! I’ve stopped liking him for that puffy-cheeks facial gesture. I know Sisko has to be unhelpful for the plot to advance, and that Lwaxana is a lovely person and isn’t going to do anything to harm Odo, but you know, if I went to my boss and said someone was macking on me and I didn’t feel able to address it myself and would he please say something, and I got that reaction, I’d be pretty steamed. And the fact that I’m a woman and Odo’s a man-shaped person shouldn’t actually be the point. A boss should have his staff’s backs over things like this.
Back in Ops the Bajoran lady engineer (I think her name’s been said once and I didn’t catch it) reports on what the probe seems to be made of. With surprising speed, the computer’s analysis of the probe is complete, and O’Brien calls Jadzia over to have a look. She remarks that it has nothing on board but ‘enough computer capacity to run a Galaxy-class starship.’ In that case, I propose towing it to Bynus to act as a back-up drive. They can’t tell what the probe is for or where it’s from.
Odo emerges from a lift onto the promenade, looking around very cautiously. Not seeing anyone too terrifying, he emerges, only to be pounced on by Lwaxana, who was lurking in a doorway nearby and has changed into a bright red dress and a platinum blonde wig. She’s going to keep trying hair colours until she finds the one that works on him, I guess! Awesomely, her dress has an asymmetric neckline just like the one on her daughter’s teal dress that we saw so often on TNG. She invites Odo to join her for a scenic holosuite program she’s got lined up. Lwaxana, have you found any facts about the wormhole yet today?
Anyway, she’s booked it with Quark. Odo is aghast to think that Quark knows he’s going to be in, nay, anywhere NEAR a holosuite with Lwaxana. Quark is making them a picnic basket. Urgh, imagine what Quark would put in a picnic basket if he thought you were going to get laid in its vicinity.
‘Good Lord,’ says Odo. Here I have to derail myself to draw attention again to how difficult it is to write expressive dialogue in English without dragging the Judaeo-Christian God into it. One thing that helps a little bit is to assume that we’re watching this episode through a Universal Translator filter, and Odo said something in Bajoran for which the closest idiomatic equivalent is ‘Good Lord.’ Odo reverses into the lift at speed, saying he’s needed on Upper Pylon 3, but Lwaxana just follows him in, chattering obliviously, and knocks on the wall of the lift, calling out ‘Upper Pylon Three-ee!’ As the doors close, she chirps ‘I’ve always wanted to see an upper pylon.’
I know Lwaxana’s an old bird, but when in her lifetime have you needed to knock on the walls of turbolifts to make them go?
As the lift rides up, she says, as if it’s a stroke of inspiration that she’ll have Quark send ‘one of his minions’ to bring their picnic basket up to the pylon. I like the idea of Quark having minions. Rom is definitely a minion. Odo, provoked beyond patience, points out quite emphatically, ‘Madam Ambassador!’ (‘Lwaxana!’) ‘I don’t eat! This is not a real mouth. It is an approximation of one. I do not have an oesophagus, or a stomach, or a digestive system. I am not like you. Every sixteen hours, I turn into a liquid!’
And because Lwaxana is awesome, she pulls this ‘thinkin’ about it’ face:
and tells him ‘I can swim.’
Odo huffs and turns away, and just then the lift jolts to a stop. Odo calls through to Ops to report it, and this Bajoran lady engineer who’s getting her time to shine explains to Kira that power to the lifts has failed. Kira offers to beam Odo and Lwaxana out, but Jadzia’s efforts to do so fail. The transporter is down too. Lwaxana is smiiiiiiling. The ladies page O’Brien and tell Odo to be patient – they’ll get him out as soon as they can.
‘Alone at last!’ says Lwaxana, and we slowly zoom in on Odo’s horrified face.
This is one of those times that makes you really aware of gender politics and the extent to which women are considered harmless and men are considered danger on legs, doesn’t it? If this scene were played with a woman officer and a man ambassador who’d been pursuing her as aggressively as Lwaxana has Odo, we’d be really concerned for her safety. We’d be uneasy about rape, or at the very least unwelcome groping. And sadly, we’d have statistical reason to feel that way. On the other hand, women are considered so harmless that a scenario like this is commonly played for comedy, and it’s hard for a man who’s actually being aggressively pursued by a woman and feeling threatened by it to get his concerns taken seriously.
I know that, in this scene, our concerns are offset not only by the fact that Lwaxana is a woman but, more importantly, by the fact that if we’ve been watching our TNG we know her quite well, we know she is a kind-hearted person who raised a lovely daughter, and we know that she wouldn’t actually force or trap or trick Odo into anything bad. I’m just thinkin’ ’bout things. I make this face when I do.
Next up in Ops, the computer claims everything is normal, and O’Brien can’t understand it – the diagnostics show that the transporter and lift should work. They just don’t. On a starship he’d know how to fix this in a couple of hours, but there’s no telling how long it will take with bloody Cardie technology. Sisko asks him to start, and Kira calls Odo to break the news. Her eye make-up today is distractingly smoky.
Poor Odo is still getting leered at by Lwaxana (although there’s room for them to stay further apart, they are standing shoulder to shoulder against the back wall of the lift) as Kira gives him some technobabble about the lift’s construction that means he can’t just liquefy and dribble away through a crack in the floor. And, as Lwaxana points out, that wouldn’t be polite.
After Lwaxana asks if they are in any actual danger and Odo reassures her that they’re not, as long as they remain calm, she brightly suggests that they take the opportunity to get to know each other.
‘I’d really prefer to pass the time quietly.’
‘Mm.’ Lovely rapid-fire delivery there.
So then Lwaxana says she feels she has to talk to him about his quietness – until he gives her the stink-eye. That quietens her down for a moment, and she moves to sit on the floor, the brightness suddenly going out of her eyes.
‘I don’t think I can.’
Lwaxana explains that she needs to talk, and some vulnerability shows on her face for the first time. Odo kindly says that he understands, and sits down beside her, telling her there’s nothing to be afraid of. Lwaxana laughs that off and starts telling him about when she and Deanna were kidnapped by the Ferengi, in a way that shows that Lwaxana really can’t think altogether ill of anyone, particularly if she feels they were attracted to her. Odo looks as if he’d rather be anywhere else but here, and Lwaxana ends up blabbing that she boned the Ferengi Daimon. Perhaps realising she’s overshared slightly, she asks Odo what he’s looking at, and he explains that he was wondering exactly how badly he’d get fried if he tried the cracks in the floor. Not snarkily, though. And Lwaxana doesn’t seem deterred from telling her story.
In the Sisko’s office, Julian is fidgety and Sisko is enjoying a cup of coffee and trying to persuade him that ambassador duty isn’t just a way to torment him. Julian gets into a rant about ‘the ambassadors of Unhappy’ and Sisko laughs at him, then tells him Curzon used to pull this shit with him all the time. Julian asks when exactly he graduated from this sort of assignment, and Sisko, getting up and coming weirdly, semi-threateningly close to Julian’s face, says it was when he hit one of the people he was meant to be escorting. He has a chivalrous reason for it; the guy was sexually harassing a young ensign. (Is he dropping a hint that this is partly because Julian wouldn’t leave Jadzia alone?) But chivalry clearly doesn’t extend to – well, you can see Sisko’s gender double standards fairly clearly without my pointing them out. Anyway, that’s no help to poor little Julian, either, who has no chivalrous pretext and in any case is not very good at hitting people.
I will forever cherish what a pansy he is.
O’Brien calls Sisko over to report that the computer is apparently working well but not actually being helpful. The fix he tried to run through it didn’t reactivate the lift… and the voice sounds very slightly different to him. Sisko brushes this off, but O’Brien has the confidence to insist. Rather sweetly, he says that working with the Enterprise‘s computer was like dancing a waltz, but dealing with this one has been more like a wrestling match (or indeed his marriage, I add). He thinks something from the probe is affecting the computer. It seems to have changed its personality – it’s not arguing with him or blocking his commands. And he’s almost afraid to mention it, but when he leaves, something happens to bring him back, some malfunction that will force him back to his station. Sisko says it sounds almost like a child. Awww, computer wants its Daddy. Read it ‘Rumpelstiltskin’ and beep its nose.
Conference in Ops, and Jadzia suggests that this could be some non-biological life-form, a machine intelligence. Kira gets the mildly thankless task of coming up with non-technial analogies for technobabble, saying that someone has left a baby at their doorstep. Sisko asks if they can communicate with it, and O’Brien says that they sort of already are – it’s in their computer. However, Jadzia points out, they have no sign yet that they can communicate directly with it or that it can understand them if they try. Kira, who seems hell-bent on making this as cute as possible, suggests it’s more like a stray puppy that has attached itself to O’Brien. How about a baby koala? They are face-meltingly cute.
Here is a baby koala called Owen giving his mum a kiss. Okay, he’s probably licking some food off her face, but DWEE.
However cute it is, Sisko wants it out, because it’s messing up the station. O’Brien suggests just uploading the files they downloaded back to the probe, and hope the baby puppy program goes with them. He doesn’t think it’s embedded itself in their system like a virus, and Jadzia suggests that it’s more of a parasite, feeding off the computer functions’ energy.
Sisko shows a modicum of concern for Odo, asking Kira how long since they’ve heard from him. The comm lines have been down for 90 minutes, and Odo has been in the lift for almost four hours now. Has Lwaxana had to pee in that time? Please, may I never be stuck in a lift for any extended period without a receptacle to pee into. They don’t know when Odo is going to need to liquefy again, but if he can’t get back to his bucket, there’s a very real risk that he will just dribble through the cracks in the floor and get electrocuted anyway. Which is probably even worse than Lwaxana peeing.
O’Brien and the lady Bajoran engineer who’s not really going to become a character work with the baby puppy koala computer, and send the probe’s stuff back to it – except that it doesn’t work. And on the second try, the lights go out.
Julian, on the semi-darkened promenade with his ambassadors of unhappy (a lot of decorative lights are still on, though), tries to keep the mood light. Snot has a snot about O’Brien’s competence (Julian calls him one of the best in Starfleet) and the lack of back-up systems. As Julian says ‘Out here on the edge of the frontier, it’s just one adventure after another.’ Can a frontier be said to have an edge? His best answer to all this is to take them back to their rooms.
At the end of what has presumably been a four-hour natterfest, Lwaxana says ‘But enough about me.’ Odo evidently zoned out long ago, because he greets the pause with a surprised ‘Hmm?’ He’s starting to look at bit oily and shiny, and doesn’t much want to tell Lwaxana about himself – ‘I’m really a private man.’ I am watching Mr Auberjonois’ hands in the foreground, and enjoying the way he’s tensing and relaxing his knuckles. He really is a good body-language actor.
So Lwaxana asks him if his hair is ‘real,’ and he says it’s real in that it is him, but it’s not real hair. With some more prompting, he admits that he imitated the hairstyle of the Bajoran scientist who studied him at the research centre where he spent his early years. (Actually, I was talking with someone or other the other day about how Odo, Data and most Cardassians all have essentially the same hairstyle, and my hypothesis is that it’s because it’s extremely plain and simple, and after you’ve spent a few hours putting android, Cardie or shapeshifter makeup on an actor, you don’t want to do much more with his hair or wig than brush it straight back from the face and blast it with hairspray. Obviously an exception is later made for Worf and his pretty princess hair.) Lwaxana is clearly aghast to hear of his loveless upbringing, and Odo tries to brush off her suggestion of loneliness by saying that he was very self-sufficient. She’s being a bit too perceptive about his feelings of difference, and starts futzing with his commbadge, trying to contact Ops.
Odo is clearly very uncomfortable, physically as well as emotionally, and Lwaxana takes his arm, trying to comfort him. As much to prove that he’s not bothered by talking about it as to tell her about it, Odo tells her about his coping mechanism of turning into things to entertain at parties. He concludes ‘I hate parties,’ and Lwaxana very sweetly says ‘Perhaps you’ve been going to the wrong ones. Come to one of mine, Odo. I’ll make sure that all the guests are there to entertain you.’
You should invite Data, Lwaxana. He’s awesome at parties.
Odo seems a little touched by that, but then he hunches over and groans. He admits to Lwaxana now that he’s on hour fifteen of his sixteen-hour cycle. Lwaxana gives him a cuddle – not a pervy one.
Up in Ops, O’Brien is trying some different technobabble. The Bajoran lady engineer opens out a sort of fan arrangement with isolinear chips in it and they start sneakily overtasking the computer by giving it too many jobs to do at once while removing chips one by one. Including asking the poor thing to create a concert programme of Bajoran music! As is traditional for Star Trek computers with too much to handle, it starts spitting sparks, and Jadzia reports a huge plasma surge in the habitat ring – which, of course, is where Julian’s taken the Ambassadors of Unhappiness to tuck them in.
A fireball whooshes at them! I don’t think any of them are hurt, but none of the fire suppression systems are coming on, and Sisko is going to the rescue, and they’re all coughing, and Julian tries frantically to wangle open a door in the corridor!
Sisko and Kira try to shoot through a… a door or wall or something to get into the corridor where the A of U and Julian are trapped, but what Cardassians lack in computer science they make up in sturdy construction, because the thing’s full of duranium gib-board and they’re going to need a space blowtorch to get through.
In Ops, poor O’Brien mopes that the computer is not paying any attention to him. Jadzia once again compares it to a puppy, and O’Brien suggests that it’s been alone for far too long. He remembers a puppy he had that would scratch through a door if left alone. They reflect on the fact that this puppy is getting a lot of attention, so of course it doesn’t want to leave. O’Brien has some sort of geek breakthrough and decides he’s going to build a doghouse.
In the lift, Odo is breathing stertorously and starting to look a bit trickly. He’s got his back to Lwaxana, and tries again to call Ops. She tells him to turn around, and he says he can’t – it’s beginning. Lwaxana, gravely and gently, tells him it’s all right, but he protests that nobody has seen him like this.
‘Not even the scientist who was assigned to you?’ That, Odo says, was different; it was only research. Lwaxana says he needn’t be ashamed, and he says that it’s not, but it’s private.
‘How can I make it easier for you?’
‘You can’t. I’m fine.’
As Odo stands there stoically leaning on a post, looking dribbly and wretched, something blonde and fluffy wiggles into view. It’s Lwaxana’s wig, on her hand. He turns to see the real Lwaxana, with short black hair that makes her look far more like Deanna’s mother. She says that no-one’s seen her like this.
‘Why?’ Odo asks. ‘It looks fine.’ But Lwaxana says it looks ordinary, and she’s never cared to be ordinary. It’s her way of changing who she is, even if she isn’t a shapeshifter.
Odo says ‘You’re not at all what I expected.’
‘No-one’s ever paid me a greater compliment.’ Lwaxana smiles at him very gently and kindly. Odo is really going to pieces now, and Lwaxana advises him ‘Let go – I’ll take care of you.’
And as Odo jellifies, she catches him in the skirt of her dress.
That scene is just so sweet, y’all. Really deftly, lightly handled.
In the corridor, Kira is being the HBIC and giving orders for medical supplies to be brought, preparations made to evacuate the ambassadors to Bajor for treatment (I suppose if Julian is also too badly hurt to treat them). Sisko is running the blowtorch himself, because it makes him feel important.
O’Brien has created a sub-program called ‘Pup’ to contain the baby program and keep it amused. And shoom! Everything comes back online! Sisko et al enter the damaged corridor, which looks like it had a Tsiolkovsky party in it and then some. Kira says ‘We’d better advise Starfleet Command,’ I suppose that they’ve let three ambassadors and a very pretty doctor get toasted, but just then a panel in the wall is kicked out by a very long gangly black-clad leg, and Julian hauls himself out of an access tube. He’s a bit grubby, but he’s fine, and his first act is to reassuringly help out the Forehead Ambassador, with whom he is now on first-name terms. Marc Bolian and Snot follow, equally impressed with how well Julian conducted himself. Kira makes a great WTF face. Julian’s going to get a commendation! And he didn’t have to punch anyone.
On the Prom, the lift doors open and Lwaxana and Odo step out, Lwaxana adjusting her wig. Fortunately, Odo does not appear to have left a jelly-stain on her skirt. Sheepishly, Odo says he knows that wasn’t what she had in mind for her picnic, but Lwaxana says that all that matters is the company.
‘Your sensitivity and discretion are appreciated,’ says Odo. Lwaxana pets his face and says that next time he sees her, she’ll give him a lot more to appreciate. But she just says it sweetly, not pervily, and as she drifts away Odo watches her go and smiles to himself. Aw.
Sisko arrives in Ops and asks O’Brien how he dealt with the pup. Basically, he’s going to keep it in its little e-dog-house. He’ll take care of it and walk it and feed it. Evidently, Sisko’s stance on adopting new life-forms has softened since the whole Tosk incident, since he consents with only an instruction to ‘keep it off the furniture.’ O’Brien and Dax exchange smiles as the episode ends. Ah. Nice.
Now that actually is a pretty good episode, to me. And it gave me an excuse to post Odo the Snail and Owen the Koala. Boss!
Next time we return to TNG, for ‘Home Soil’ and ‘Coming of Age.’ That means ugly bags of mostly water, and Wesley’s Room 101 Starfleet entrance exams.