Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Air date: 10/31/1994
Written by D. Thomas Maio and Steve Warnek
Directed by Avery Brooks
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
"Is that all you can think about? Killing? Isn't there anything else you care about?"
"I don't think so."
— Odo and unnamed Jem'Hadar
The writers further affirm that they really know what they're doing with their characters when Odo tries to teach an orphaned Jem'Hadar about human values and the opportunities of life.
A tad derivative as far as philosophical content goes; nevertheless, "The Abandoned" features some thoughtful dialogue about equality and the individual's role in life. What works best is some more development of Odo's character—the first of hopefully many follow-up stories to Odo's outing in "The Search."
Most notably, Odo moves into his own quarters and abandons his pail. His quarters serve him a private place where he can freely revert to his liquid form and be a shapeshifter. Secondly, Odo's attempt to teach the Jem'Hadar adolescent (Bumper Robinson) that there is more to life than fighting proves to be an attempt at relieving some responsibility he feels for the wrongdoings of his race.
It all begins when Quark buys some wreckage from an acquaintance and gets more than he bargained for when he finds a baby in a stasis chamber among the junk. At first, the crew has no idea what species the humanoid infant is. Bashir watches over the boy in the infirmary.
Sisko goes into the infirmary and picks up the baby and then tells Dax how much he misses holding Jake. This dialogue is a bit ho-hum on its own, but it makes sense in the context of the episode's B-story in which Sisko tries to deal with his son dating a Dabo Girl that's four years older.
There's a humorous scene where Jake and his girlfriend Marta (Jill Sayre) have dinner with the old man. Sisko, who has already decided the age-gapped relationship should end, finds he has to question his initial reaction after he gets to know the girl.
Back in the A-storyline, the mysterious infant exhibits very rapid growth, reaching adolescence in a matter of hours. Even more impressive, he comprehends language almost instantly—apparently a biologically programmed trait. Before long, the crew discovers the boy is a Jem'Hadar. He escapes the infirmary and begins causing problems on the station.
This is when Odo decides to look after the Jem'Hadar, who has an instinctual implant compelling him to obey all shapeshifters. Odo tries to teach the Jem'Hadar that he can make his own choices, and that he doesn't have to be a killing machine that only answers to his instinct and to shapeshifters.
Odo even lets the kid exercise his desire for violence by giving him a holographic combat opponent. This is where the script fully realizes the point of the episode—that Odo's attempts are pointless—as the Jem'Hadar furiously fights and fights, constantly raising the strength of the simulation. After leaving the holosuite, the Jem'Hadar brags that everyone should be afraid of him because he could kill any of them. His instinct tells him that anyone who isn't a Jem'Hadar is inferior to him. It becomes obvious Odo's attempts will ultimately fail.
Another thing "The Abandoned" does effectively is further develop the Jem'Hadar as a Federation threat. We learn the Jem'Hadar not only have dangerous technology but are also a dangerous race of biological engineering—a race of preprogrammed killers who only take a matter of days after birth to fully develop, learn and join the ranks of warriors. It would be quite a confrontation if the Founders decided to indeed "impose order in the Alpha Quadrant."