Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine



Air date: 4/19/1993
Written by Sam Rolfe
Directed by Winrich Kolbe

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

In what is perhaps the best episode since the pilot, a wanted man from the Gamma Quadrant named Croden (Cliff DeYoung) kills a Miradorn in self defense following a botched theft attempt. Odo throws Croden in a cell and prepares to release him to the authorities of his home world. "Vortex" is the first episode to deeply examine the unknowns of Odo's mysterious origins, and the result is a powerful character episode that successfully gets into the crux of the constable's loneliness and his quest for people like him.

Croden capitalizes on Odo's loneliness by telling him a number of "Changeling tales" that may or may not be part of his web of dissembling lies—hoping to take advantage of the constable's Achilles heel. Cliff DeYoung effectively forces our perception of the situation to remain in stagnant neutrality between Croden and Odo. DeYoung brings a sense of ineptitude to his character's criminal activities that makes his motives seem as sincere as they later turn out to be—but without totally winning our trust in the meantime. What also works, surprisingly enough, is an action subplot involving the dead Miradorn's vengeful twin brother Ah-Kel (Randy Oglesby) chasing after Croden and Odo's Runabout to kill his brother's murderer.

Most of this works because of the extremely high quality of the production. The special effects are outstanding, as Odo and Croden attempt to elude Ah-Kel by traveling through a dangerous, volatile vortex that looks really neat. The conclusion, which uncovers all the reasons behind Croden's lies and deceit—his need to retrieve his hidden daughter from a planet in the vortex—is a touching sentiment.

When all is said and done "Vortex" is an episode that works wonders on many levels. There are interesting suppositions about Odo's origin with engrossing character impacts, a good action plot, terrific production values, interesting performances, and affecting drama. Highly recommended.

Previous episode: The Nagus
Next episode: Battle Lines

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12 comments on this review

William - Tue, Jul 24, 2012 - 11:29pm (USA Central)
I'm not as enthusiastic as you on this one, but it was good. I did like the hints of what's to come in Odo's future.

But a lot of these guest stars and one-time characters in the first season just wash in my mind.
Van_Patten - Thu, Oct 11, 2012 - 10:10pm (USA Central)
Agree with William on this. I think you have gone a little too overboard on this one. God knows it's always desirable to see the excellent Rene Auberjonois in a starring role but I' m not sold on several of the guest performances.

Following a murder, the suspect, Croden is thrown in a cell and is revealed to be a wanted criminal. Odo must take him back, whilst evading the vengeful brother of the murder victim.

This is the first episode to tackle the issue of Odo's origins, and the narrative is fairly good at keeping is in suspense as to whether Croden (Cliff DeYoung) is merely lying to save his skin or is at least partially telling the truth. One wonders how much the writers of Early Season 3 looked at this episode before scripting it!

As always, Auberjonois is excellent, wrestling between his overriding conception of duty and finding out more about his origin. I think even my colleague Elliott would concede Odo's arc was strong throughout this series and this is strong character development. Whilst DeYoung is good, I was less impressed by Randy Oglesby as the Miradorn Ah -Kel, who gives a quite monodimensional performance.

That said, the diligence between Croden and Odo is good and the sets, as Jammer says look very impressive. A strong episode, although for me 3 stars only.
DG - Wed, Dec 12, 2012 - 5:56am (USA Central)
In my opinion, this episode starts out *awesome* and ends up... sappy.

tur1n - Fri, Feb 8, 2013 - 5:04am (USA Central)
I agree with Jammer on all points, except for the ending. Odo letting a criminal go - that seems out of character.

Minor nitpick: A tractor beam sure would've been handy when the Miradon chased after Odo.
grumpy_otter - Fri, Apr 12, 2013 - 7:42pm (USA Central)
I am surprised at how much you like this one. While exploring Odo's past was good, the villains in this one were boring.

Additionally, I have seen Cliff De Young do good work in other things, but he lacked charisma in this. Having to carry so much of the story, this failing made it tedious for me. I never felt empathy or pity for him--just annoyance--so much so that I was a little irritated at the end when he survived.

So that's three weak ones in row for me--but certainly not bad enough to quit. I still like most of the characters, though I wish there were a Worf-type character to root for. Someone big and brawny and all man/alien.

Still interesting!
Corey - Thu, Jul 25, 2013 - 5:11pm (USA Central)
@Tur1n: I'm not sure how you can call Odo's decision to release the man out-of-character. For one, Croden had the opportunity to escape when Odo fell unconscious when a rock hit his head (how can this even happen? Odo doesn't sleep (he turns to goo), nor does he have a brain in the human sense, I don't think a changeling can be made to go unconscious) - but instead risked his life and his child to rescue Odo. Also Croden explained (and his daughter confirmed) that Croden was basically wanted for self-defense, which Odo does believe in. So that, with Odo "owing him one", was enough to convince Odo to let him go.
azcats - Mon, Sep 9, 2013 - 2:06pm (USA Central)
I forgot how early Odo learns about changelings..

i enjoyed this episode...

i like the interaction between Rom and Quark.. Quark wants to be evil so badly..but he just cant do it.
Snitch - Mon, Oct 14, 2013 - 6:17pm (USA Central)
This is a great Odo episode, it worked well on that level, the little sister plot was a bit too cute but overall good suspense and entertainment. The irritable alien of the week got total cooperation from the Sisko, what was up with that?
Snitch - Mon, Oct 14, 2013 - 6:18pm (USA Central)
oh and 3 1/2 Stars from me
Kotas - Tue, Oct 22, 2013 - 1:54pm (USA Central)

A decent Odo episode. Nothing spectacular, but it has some nice character development.

Dusty - Thu, Feb 13, 2014 - 1:32am (USA Central)
One of the best of Season 1 with a really surprising ending. I was amazed to see Odo let a wanted man go, but after everything that happened between them it wasn't such a big stretch. Odo's sense of justice goes beyond simply apprehending criminals.
Yanks - Tue, Jun 24, 2014 - 8:45am (USA Central)
Aside from Odo now realizing that he may not be alone in the universe, this episode was pretty blah.

Nothing bad really (aside from the falling rock knocking Odo out).

We do learn that Odo isn't a completely by the book guy. It seems he does have a conscience. Which is a good thing. Justice can't be blind.

2.5 stars from me.

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