In which Odo burns down the friendzone.
Newly back from averting the fascist takeover of Earth, and Odo is carefully readjusting all the furniture in his office, replicating coffee for the morning meeting, and generally being exceptionally poised and precise so he can affect a perfectly casual attitude when Nerys comes in for the regular briefing. Just run of the mill incidents mostly, including political graffiti and public boinking. The graffiti was regarding First Minister Shakaar coming to the station and protesting Bajor’s progress towards becoming a Federation member world.
Quark drops by to interrupt the meeting and register a noise complaint about Odo. Quark’s quarters are right below Odo’s and apparently he’s very loud when he practices his shapeshifting. Or at least, he’s very loud to a Ferengi. Odo appears to be doing this on purpose, which could constitute harassment.
O’Brien is never happy to have to put on a dress uniform, since he’s not a senior officer. Jadzia’s almost late, and Sisko is still a little uncomfortable about being the Emissary. Shakaar intoduces his adjutant and they make their way to the Promenade so everyone can see him and hear some talking points. But Odo has just gotten some information that someone is planning to assassinate Shakaar. I’ll put $5 on Kai Winn, via intermediaries.
Shakaar gets a lot of death threats, but in this case Odo is talking about the True Way, who have already succeeded with a few assassinations and may already have an operative aboard. Shakaar won’t miss the delegation, because as a former terrorist, he knows you can’t show weakness. Straight from Kira’s mouth, too. Since we can all agree that Shakaar won’t and shouldn’t cancel, despite the short-term prudence of the idea, Odo requests permission to mobilize Starfleet security as well as his Bajoran deputies. Good luck with that. With Eddington on leave, Sisko assigns Worf.
Worf and Odo bond over the difficulties of imposing order on an inherently unordered system like the station. Odo has now started blaming his need for routine and order on his species which sounds like blame-shifting until you remember they’re literally fascist overlords. They also swap tips about imposing order on your environment and how to be antisocial. It’s completely adorkable.
They’ve secured the halls, but Shakaar’s going off-script and going to the Bajoran temple and outside the guard perimeter. They have the talk about Odo’s former position with the Cardassians, and Shakaar trusts Odo because Kira does. You can see him working hard to earn that trust, including fixating on a very suspicious-looking woman but not shouting out a false-positive. It’s really nice that the drama here is built, but not overbuilt.
We get to skip forward to the meeting, golf-course (or in this case springball) politics, and other such affairs of state. Kira, meanwhile, mentions to Odo that the belt he used to wear looked good on him, so he puts it back. Kira’s about to leave, but Shakaar stops her so they can go on a walk. It’s going to be particularly painful for Odo to escort them, since he’s very observant and also in love with Kira. Quark sees what’s coming, and he actually looks more devastated for Odo than Odo would ever be willing to express on his own behalf.
The negotiations aren’t going well, in part because the Federation has Ways of Doing Things that they’re extremely entrenched in, and Shakaar can’t convince them otherwise. He and Odo sit down for a chat about security procedures and… about Nerys. Shakaar wants to be the new Berial in her life. It’s a little sad he asked Odo, because Nerys has certainly indicated that she might think of Shakaar the way he wants her to, but we don’t actually know if she’s ever said anything. Shakaar is just going to have to deal with his friendzone problems the old-fashioned way.
Odo takes some solace in scanning Quark’s waiters and the food for changelings and other sabotage. He finds a listening device, which he uses to “monitor Rom’s sleep apnea.” They continue to talk about Odo’s relationship troubles, and it’s increasingly looking like the crossfire isn’t actually going to refer to any Cardassian assassination attempts.
At the next briefing, Kira’s late and is not drinking her regular Raktajino because she already had one with Shakaar. In his quarters. And is now going right back to giving him a tour of … the station. They get to watch the wormhole open, but I didn’t see anything go through. That’s probably bad news. What might be worse news is that Worf claims the turbolift is stuck, but we can clearly see it moving past lights in the shaft. Unless those are only there to give passengers the illusion of movement, it seems like someone is feeding false information to the computer in order to take advantage of overzealous security procedures. Once Odo releases the lock, the turbolift starts plummeting, leading me to wonder once again why there’s artificial gravity in the turbolift shafts instead of just in each lift. It’s not like anyone’s ever going to be in there climbing manually and think “gee I really wish there was gravity here, that would make whichever direction I’m going so much easier.”
Pdp starts pushing against the lift, deforming the walls until they scrape the compartment to a screeching halt. Now it’s time for root-cause analysis. At least one point of failure was that Odo was so upset by Kira and Shakaar flirting that he didn’t wait for fake-worf to actually provide the security code. Next it’s time for a good old-fashioned manhunt. Of course, Odo’s mind isn’t in the game, and he’s going to have to do something about that.
Shakaar is in Kira’s quarters, when Odo goes to talk to her, and wait outside her quarters until he leaves… the next morning. It’s lucky Odo didn’t have his Bucket Time scheduled. He’s trying to work on the case, but Nerys keeps sidetracking to how surprising it is that she and Shakaar are in love now. He’s only not crying because that would take deliberate focus.
Worf has arrested a True Way operative who was trying to depressurize Shakaar’s quarters, with a little help from Odo’s deputies, but it wasn’t really necessary to get Odo involved. He’s completely unnecessary, and starts smashing up his quarters. Since we established early on that Quark lives below him, he is of course the guy who shows up to complain about the noise, and to see Odo’s actual factual breakdown. Quark’s approach is that Odo is losing him money in the pool he has going for how long it will take Odo to solve the crime. Note that it’s not a pool on whether Odo will solve the crime, which is where the whole ‘comfort and moral support’ angle comes in. Odo and Quark are a much better, and more lasting, bromance than Odo and Worf.
Following Quark’s advice, Odo goes to Kira to actually say the thing he… nope, he’s just cutting short their one-on-one interactions so it hurts less. When in doubt, shapeshift yourself so that having a heart isn’t necessary. He’s also lost the belt, which Kira noticed, and understood. With all of his feelings suitably excised, Odo can focus on the one person who never stops going through his mind – Quark.