DS9: S2E12: “The Alternate”

In which Odo hates his dad and history repeats itself. 

"All these years and you still can't call me 'dad'?

“All these years and you still can’t call me ‘dad’?

Quark is selling bits of a dead Ferengi, the very one who invented holoporn. Odo is even interested – he enjoys collecting trivia about humanoid death rituals, and I can’t even tell if he’s serious about that or just mocking Quark and his entire culture. Nope, definitely mocking. That said, he is also buying. Or rather, performing a sting. Until the Bajoran scientist who ‘trained’ him appears. It’s slightly possible that there’s some bad blood between them. Odo insists he is just fine at social cues, and Mora continues to prove he’s completely inept at them when he blitzes past Odo’s blatant ‘go away’ signals and tries to get him interested in more lab torture.

Ben Sisko is trying to instill life lessons and good study habits into his son, and showing parents everywhere that even in the future, humans will never figure out parenting except by arbitrary fiat. This is capped by Odo requesting a runabout to go investigating something in the Gamma quadrant with Mora Pol, because it seems someone exploring the other side of the wormhole has found traces of an Odo-like signal. Going with will be Jadzia Dax and some Bajoran rando. Mora orders Odo to tell the story of their discovery, and then keeps pre-empting him. Also, Odo used to be small enough to fit into a beaker, but we’ve also seen him alter his volume at will and that he’s both light enough to be carried as a sack and has sufficient tensile strength to beat up one of those scary-looking aliens. His mass remains an open question so far.

They beam down to the planet, which is some nifty ruins in front of a matte painting from The Land Before Time. They find an obelisk with nifty markings which Dax beams onto the shuttlecraft, and a glob of iron shavings. Then they receive an earthquake and a volcanic eruption, and the computer has some inexplicable trouble beaming everyone up. Wonder what that was aout.

"Speaking of humanoid death rituals..."

“Speaking of humanoid death rituals…”

Back on DS9, all the humanoids have inhaled some of the volcanic gasses and are in various states of incapacitated. Odo’s fine, because Odo doesn’t respire. It would be kind of nice to know what his power source is, incidentally, if it’s not some form of oxidation. It also means Odo is suffering som psychological effects from being different enough that the illness doesn’t hit him, but it does hit his totally-not-my-dad.

The sample is reproducing at a prodigous rate, and it defies analysis. Since Dax is apparently the only useful scientist on the station, O’brien will just have to muddle through and remind us all that a goldshirt has his uses, but is no substitute for a good old teal uniform. Case in point – overnight the sample broke free of a level 5 containment field.

It is at this time that I’d like to point out the way the camera keeps lingering on one glyph of the monolith. It’s hard to describe and I don’t feel like looking for a clean image, but it looks like how you would pictogram a stasis box. Maybe it’s some sort of criminal, or biological weapon from wherever Odo came from. Good news – Dax refuses to be hospital-bound and is back on the case.

O’Brien has found some trace elements in a ventilation and maintenance duct and is tracking the life-form. Also, right when the thing escaped, the cameras and sensors went off. As in all cases when someone has to track an unknown entity through ventilation ducts, we can be almost positive O’Brien is about to get instamurdered by scary alien.

"Uh, hello? I'm here for the Lost audition?"

“Uh, hello? I’m here for the Lost audition?”

…Or have some goop fall on his hand and almost ruin his uniform. He appears to have located corpse – the entity suffocated due to a lack of CO2 in the atmosphere. As Bashir and Dax study the corpse-goop, he tries one last time to get into her unitard. What’s this? Character growth? That’s unpossible! You know what happens right after someone has a life-changing epiphanic (is that a word) moment? That’s right, they get killed by the black smoke monster! Man, remember that time Geordi almost got eaten, too? Good times. Bashir manages to get to a laser scalpel in time and somehow repels the shoggoth.

More clues present themselves, and Sisko shuts down the civilian population while they track down the monster. Also, I literally just noticed that Odo seems to have mimicked Mora’s hairstyle. Those two thoughts are not related. Neither is the shapeshifting smoke monster to any of the other life on that planet. That stasis capsule glyph is starting to make more sense, right? In fact, the smoke monster doesn’t even seem to be related to the original sample, according to Mora, our resident shapeshifter expert.

Fifth annual winner of the Terrok'Nor pie-eating competition.

Fifth annual winner of the Terrok’Nor pie-eating competition.

Mora confronts Odo, claiming that the smoke monster is, in fact, Odo, or at least identical to Odo. The incidents occur 16 hours apart, and Mora tries to convince Odo that he’s a murderer and that none of his new Starfleet acquaintances would ever give him the benefit of the doubt. The ugly comes out – Mora is supremely emotionally abusive, but also Odo does seem to be losing control of his temper and of his shape. You’d think our resident expert might have noticed the signs.

Mora rats out Odo in Ops, and lays out how Odo’s Hyde is drawn to Mora, possibly full of vindictive fury. The plan, therefore, is to use Mora as bait to trap Hyde!Odo in a modified and untested energy field. Contingencies are also in place to vaporize him if things don’t turn out well. Fortunately, the trap works, and Hydo unleashes truly awe-inspiring fury against the force field. Mora also shows some modicum of regret for his past douchebaggery, and the power of true remorse saves the day.

We’re not even going to get an explanation, because Bashir doesn’t understand it. Just know that Mora is an expert on shapeshifters and they removed the toxic gas from Odo’s system. Really. They didn’t even go with “cycled Odo through the transporter with a gas filter set in place” or something. Then again, I guess I wouldn’t trust Cardassian transporters to handle that either.

In the very end, Mora gets set up as the Maddox to Odo’s Data, which is a really nice touch. Coming at nearly the same place in the progression of the series, this episode tries to cement Odo as the new Data/Spock, in case any of us missed it, by being the exact same episode. The outsider, studying humanity without being part of it, is visited by an expert in said outsider, who wants to take said outsider away to do more experiments. This episode is not as good, but hey, you can’t win ’em all.



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