Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Heart of Stone"

**1/2

Air date: 2/6/1995
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by Alexander Singer

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"No Changeling has ever harmed another."
"There's always a first time."

— Female Changeling and Odo

Kira and Odo chase a Maquis criminal to an isolated planet where they track him on foot through rocky caves. Kira gets her foot stuck in a bizarre crystal that begins to envelop her entire body. Now Odo must free her before she faces a rather claustrophobic demise.

Set as a B-story is a lightweight but amiable yarn involving Nog trying to persuade Sisko to recommend him for Starfleet Academy. He says he doesn't want to end up like his father Rom, who has chased fortune his entire life with little success.

Forget the B-story; I won't mention it again. The focus here is another character drama from the pens of Behr and Wolfe. This one supplies some interesting moments but repaves familiar ground already well established this season and without exploring new aspects or taking any real risks.

Kira becomes trapped by the end of the first act. Using phasers instantly proves to be a bad idea as the crystal simply absorbs the energy blast and displays a sudden growth spurt. Odo's next attempt is to use a jerry-rigged device from the Runabout to create sound waves at a frequency that may break down the crystal. Naturally, these things take time, and as the computer analyses the composition of the rocky substance, Odo and Kira find they have little to do but talk.

Since "The Collaborator," we have suspected that Odo has some buried feelings for Kira. In "Fascination," the writers confirmed so, as it ends with a disappointed Odo pondering over his affections for Kira as she (presumably) walks away with Vedek Bareil. She hasn't the slightest clue how Odo feels about her. She considers him a close friend—nothing more. Then, last week, in what now seems to be part of a master plan to develop this whole thread, the writers wrote Bareil out of the show by killing him on the operating table. With "Heart of Stone," they waste no time to delve back into this storyline. The results are mixed—often interesting, but in the end (as I will explain in a moment) fairly meaningless.

On the upside, there's a memorable bit where Odo tells Kira the story about how he got his name. Derived from the Cardassian word "nothing," Odo, initially a misunderstood liquid, was destined to be forever known as nothing, even after everyone learned he was a sentient being. It really makes you feel for the guy, and it's nice to see how far the writers have evolved this character in the past two years.

This whole show, however, basically rides on the outcome resulting from one scene, which goes like this:

Kira: "I want you to get out of here."
Odo: "Don't you understand? I can't!"
Kira: "You have to. Odo, please!"
Odo: "No. I won't leave you."
Kira: "Why?"
Odo: "Because! Because—I'm in love with you."

This scene is wonderfully performed by Auberjonois, who does the job of convincing us that Odo has all of these bottled up emotions that begin exploding out of him. But when Kira returns with "I'm in love with you, too" the scene rings completely false, because from what we've been spoon-fed on this issue for the past five months, Kira considers Odo a close friend and nothing more. Simply put, life isn't that easy. This is not a storyline that is about instant happy endings. It's about unreturned feelings.

Fortunately, the script ultimately nullifies this line, because even Odo doesn't believe it. He suspects that this is not really Kira, because Kira would never lie to him, even in a situation like this. Odo is right, as False Kira morphs into her true self—the still nameless shapeshifter (Salome Jens) who tried to coax Odo into taking his "proper place" as a Founder in "The Search." In fact, the shapeshifter masqueraded as the Maquis terrorist, then kidnapped and stashed Kira away in hope of again luring Odo back to the "Great Link."

Okay, there are some problems here. For starters, this episode uses a twist ending that, once again, undermines the impact on the characters. While it's not a total cheat like in "Search II," it does end up putting us back where we started. Since, in reality, Odo said none of these things to Kira, the writers have allowed themselves to take back everything they proposed in the episode. If the intention here was to confirm all the suspicions we've had about Odo's feelings, it's little more than an exercise in redundancy. I got the point in "Fascination." And in the episode's finale, by having Odo not discuss with the real Kira about what he actually said to the shapeshifter, the writers take the easy way out, burying their heads in the sand while burying the topic without any semblance of closure.

Furthermore, I doubt that the nameless female shapeshifter would go to such lengths to sway Odo into returning to the Gamma Quadrant. It's hard enough to swallow that she could or would impersonate Kira with such alarming accuracy. But the fact that she steals a Maquis ship to get Odo and Kira to chase her to this isolated planet seems entirely contrived in retrospect.

"Heart of Stone" has some good dialogue and engaging moments. Unfortunately, the ungratifying end result takes us no further than where we've already been enough times this season.

Previous episode: Life Support
Next episode: Destiny

◄ Season Index

51 comments on this review

Dirk Hartmann
Fri, Jun 6, 2008, 3:49am (UTC -5)
I feel cheated. Shape shifters are known to have problems getting the basic human face "right", but here the founder conveniently is capable of mimicking Kira down to every detail ...
Necros
Sun, Jul 6, 2008, 1:07pm (UTC -5)
I disagree.

1. What's up with some reviewers who are always whining about plots that are using this method? I think it's a good way to explore some thing, make an impact on one or more of the characters but leaving the others alone, saving them for later. It's not cheating, just smart writing. Why so negative?
2. You complain about Odo not telling Kira about his feelings, to get closer to her, yet in "His Way" you complain exactly about that. So, do you want the together or not? -- Oh, and by the way, the writers knew that they'll have Odo return to his people at the end, so he has to leave something very dear to him behind (they didn't know the title yet, interesting coincidence :)) and what would be better, than his beloved Kira.
3. The changelings (the Founders at least) care a great deal about each other, so it makes sense to try and bring him back. She tries some other things later too.
4. Why is it hard to believe that she'd steal a Maquis ship? She knows Odo very well because she linked with him and knew how he and Kira would react.
5. Again, what's your problem with her portraying Kira so well? I think she got some knowledge from the link and I wouldn't be surprised if she gathered some intel about the too using spies. So, it's not hard to imagine she could parade around as Kira for a short while. And she didn't have to know a lot about her either.
6. She is a founder, a very experienced changeling, so it's no surprise she was able to mimic a humanoid face so well. As we see in later episodes, many changelings are quite good at it. :) Our Odo is just a young kid compared to them.
7. Why are you dismissing the Nog storyline? I think it was good too.

And one more thing, I think Nana Visitor gave a great performance too, not just Rene. ;) It's sad to see you don't mention her often enough. :( You didn't even write about her singing the song Fever. I love that song from Nana. No wonder she was very succesful on the Broadway too.


I'm sorry if my English isn't perfect, I'm from Hungary (it's a lot easier translating from English than actually trying to make sense using this language :)), so it's not my mother tongue.
Necros
Sun, Jul 6, 2008, 1:15pm (UTC -5)
Oh, and one more thing. Why didn't Odo tell Kira, again, what he felt/said to the other Kira? It's not that hard to figure it out, he was embarassed and shy, didn't want to go through it again. When it comes to his feelings, he isn't the brave, fearless man, he usually is. Simply put, it makes more sense for him to stay silent about it, it wouldn't be him to pour his soul out to Kira, at least not yet. :)
admirable chrichton
Mon, Feb 23, 2009, 5:40pm (UTC -5)
The scene where Odo tells Kira what his name means, and how his friendship with her allowed him to overcome it, is a beautiful and heartbreaking scene and really highlights how good an actor Rene Aubergonis is.
Destructor
Mon, Jun 29, 2009, 9:24pm (UTC -5)
I liked it, and found the Founder's reasons credible, even compelling. I thought it was a clever way to keep the Odo/Kira tension building without breaking it completely open.

I also think the Nog B-story deserves a larger mention as the start of one of the most important and transformative character arcs of the entire show.
Nic
Thu, Oct 8, 2009, 2:21pm (UTC -5)
I can certainly accept that the female changeling is better at mimicking humaniods than Odo is. But I still think going through all this trouble to get Odo back is a stretch. And what was her plan? How did she thik that masquerading Kira would convince Odo to return to the Great Link? Or was she going to take him by force? It makes no sense. But what really undermines this episode is the hideous-looking rock prop.
However, Nog's story was very touching. It was the first time I actually cared for a Ferengi character. I have heard that this is Aaron Eisenberg favorite episode.
jilly
Thu, Dec 24, 2009, 11:05pm (UTC -5)
Nog's story was wonderful, simply put. Sisko did a fantastic job of giving him every chance to screw it up. Nog surprised him by being committed, and *good enough* to go on to Starfleet Academy. DH and I thought Nog's monologue about his reasons for wanting to be a Starfleet officer both compelling, a wonderfu outgrowth of his experiences with his father and uncle, AND an example of fine acting.

Back to the main plot, I think the writers left plenty of clues this wasn't Kira. I said to hubby, "that's not Kira" when I heard her whining about being trapped over the communicators. And the female shapeshifter, not knowing Kira as well as we do, made her a bit too whiny and less abrasive than we are used to from her.

What is significant was how long it took Odo to figure it out. In a way, this was a wish-fulfillment opportunity for Odo. He got to be Kira's White Knight for a short time, until he realized it was all a lie.

While there is no growth for Kira from this ep, Odo still will recall this experience and his character will be informed by it going forward.

I feel for his dilemma. The truth was finally wrenched out of him...and nothing comes of it. He is still waiting and hoping for her to notice him as a man. It's good stuff.
Josh
Wed, Jun 9, 2010, 4:42am (UTC -5)
I'm going to disagree with many of the things written on this page.

There is one reason why I watch this episode: The Nog storyline which culminates by him shouting: "Because I don't want to end up like my father." Nog steals the entire episode right there. I think this is an episode where the B story overshadows the A story. I have to say that you dismissed the B story far too easily and quickly.

As for the Kira/Odo storyline, there are far better stories involving the two of them.

In my opinion, this would be an episode that I just skip over, kind of like "Without Sin," except for the Nog storyline. I have to say that storyline is what saves this episode.
Sexpun
Sun, Mar 6, 2011, 10:41pm (UTC -5)
"the writers have allowed themselves to take back everything they proposed in the episode."

Not true. They revealed Odo's true feelings for Kira, they can't take that back. Sure, they take back the 'I love you too' from Kira, but then, well that never was Kira, and that's kind of the point of the episode. That the Founder wanted to probe Odo's reasons for not joining the Link, and she thought it was due solely to Kira.

At the end of the episode, the writers have Odo admit to us, as well as to himself, his true feelings for Kira, and that may color/influence his future actions.
"I got the point in "Fascination.""

How? Did you also get the point that Bareil loves Dax, or that Jake loves Kira? Inclinations of love (revealed in Fascination) are not the same as full blooded feelings.

"having Odo not discuss with the real Kira about what he actually said to the shapeshifter, the writers take the easy way out, burying their heads in the sand while burying the topic without any semblance of closure."

That's the point. There is no closure, for us or for Odo, its unresolved on purpose because Odo has yet to resolve it. As someone else pointed out, it makes sense for Odo, a very private person, to not reveal what he said in a moment of unrestrained honesty that he now feels embarassed about. It is a continuing story line/plot device, that will likely crop up again in the future, as Odo struggles with this internal dilemma of unrequited love.

"I doubt that the nameless female shapeshifter would go to such lengths to sway Odo into returning to the Gamma Quadrant."

Why? She's their leader. They are all 'one' in the great link. He is a lost child to ehr, and for all we know their society places great emphasis on togetherness, completeness, wholeness, what have you. No changeling has ever harmed another... their bond is THAT strong, to overcome all personal feelings/greivances to put their collective above all else. Odo may be hugely important to the Changeling society.

I can agree with some parts of most of your reviews, but I think you were unduly critical of this particular episode, especially given the reasons you've outlined.
Captain Tripps
Sat, Sep 17, 2011, 4:29pm (UTC -5)
It's season 3, of course they don't want closure in this relationship. There really couldn't be any at this point anyway, for much the same reasons as made Odo suspicious (and you yourself mentioned). That's not how Kira would have reacted. weird to gripe over something you acknowledge can't come to fruition yet.
Jay
Fri, Oct 21, 2011, 4:40pm (UTC -5)
Why would I want to forget the B-story when it's about tenfold better than the A?
Jay
Fri, Oct 21, 2011, 4:41pm (UTC -5)
And why, considering what his name means, would the Founders continue to call him "Odo"?
Nebula Nox
Fri, Mar 30, 2012, 1:27pm (UTC -5)
It is easy to dismiss the Ferengi. Many in Star Trek treat them with contempt, and too many viewers do, too.

Perhaps Aron Eisenberg wasn't the greatest actor (he improved tremendously over time) but this is a key turning point in an incredible character arc. I only wish that the writers had been bold enough to make Jake Sisko the "heir" to Quark's bar. He comes from a family of restaurant owners, and a bar is not so far from that. I always thought it would have suited his personality, which was more relaxed. Hoever, perhaps it would not have been dignified enough for the son of the emissary/commander of the station.

As for Odo's confession, it was important. It may have been the first time for him to admit it to himself.
Cail Corishev
Sat, Sep 15, 2012, 2:00pm (UTC -5)
I don't have a problem with the Founder going to absurd lengths to lure Odo back. We learn later in the series that the completeness of the Link is so important to them that they would sacrifice the entire Alpha Quadrant to bring him home. This little scheme pales next to that.

I understand the disappointment over the reset, but it all makes sense, so I don't consider it a cheat. Odo just went through the torture of revealing himself once; he's hardly going to want to repeat the process. Besides, hearing her return his feelings -- and recognizing it as a lie -- may have reminded him that she wasn't ready to hear it. She just watched her lover die, after all. He knows that telling her at this point is going to make her uncomfortable and possibly spoil any future chance they have together. It's one thing to spill his guts when it looks like she might die and it's his last chance, but quite another to do so once they're safe.

Nog's outburst is excellent. After watching the later seasons, it's easy to forget that, at this point, Rom is little more than a toady who gets slapped around regularly by his brother and gets back at him through petty theft. A hard role model for a boy to grow up with, to say the least. When he finally shouts out his reason, it rings completely true.
Sam
Fri, Dec 14, 2012, 4:52pm (UTC -5)
I agree with the sentiment that Nog's story was very important. I'm surprised the reviewer dismissed it. It was a key turning point for Nog but it also highlighted Sisko's character as a powerful commander but also a humanistic one. Here, Sisko feels touched by Nog's ambition and is willing to take a chance against his reputation for recommending him to Starfleet. This is why the writers of this series took pride in writing for him and why this show is the most critically acclaimed show of the franchise
Comp625
Wed, Jan 30, 2013, 1:22pm (UTC -5)
I have to wholeheartedly disagree with Jammer. Both the A and B storylines in "Heart of Stone" are well-done.

*Storyline A - Kira & Odo*
You have to remember that, up to this point, the viewer has only seen the Founders once (in 'The Search II'). The viewer has also not yet watched the Kira/Odo saga unfold, so naturally, those more poignant episodes will later take precedence over "Heart of Stone." My sense is that most "critics" of this episode are judging it retrospectively after having seen the entire saga unfold. Let me further explain.

The original intent of this episode, back in 1995, was to give the Female Changling another level of creepiness. It continues to emphasize the Dominion's ability to infiltrate and manipulate the mental psyche of our DS9 heroes (much like in 'The Search II') -- this gives the Dominion yet another tactical advantage BEYOND their immense firepower.

Similarly, up to this point, we've seen strong hints about Odo having feelings for Kira. But he's never *poured* out his emotions like he did in these caves. Credit must be given to Rene Auberjonois; his delivery of "Odo Ital" and professing his love for Kira while slowly falling to the ground was extremely moving.

Critics of this episode tend to also forget that Odo is still at the beginning stages of his self-discovering journey; he is deeply exploring emotions about romance (presumably for the first time), and to have them clash with his newly discovered familial Changling roots must be extremely disheartening (no pun intended).

*Storyline B - Nog*
I hadn't seen "Heart of Stone" in at least a decade. However, after rewatching it last night, it was plesant to rediscover that this episode marks the beginning to Nog's own journey into Starfleet.

The comment from "Sam" above was also poignant; the Nog story was to also show that Sisko is open-minded about structure beyond Starfleet guidelines. Frankly, such an attribute is admirable in any leader - e.g. a company C.E.O. or a parent in a household. Without this open-mindedness, Nog's character growth would have been stunted.

On a side note, my girlfriend (who's seeing DS9 for the first time) mentioned how crazy it is to be observe Jake and Nog's characters both grow up -- not only physically but also emotionally. It's nice to see this type of character development take shape in DS9, even with its "ancillary" characters.

My rating: 3.5 out of 4
Grumpy
Wed, Jan 30, 2013, 4:52pm (UTC -5)
Now that this site has a mixture of retrospective and contemporary reviews, some notation of original publication date would be useful. For instance, at the time Jammer wrote this review, it wasn't clear that Nog's arc would become so important to the series. At least, I didn't pick up on it. I thought the Nog business was a distraction from the drama with the main cast (although Sisko's character is revealed somewhat). Now, I can see how both plots, with characters pushed into baring their souls, fit together.
Trent
Mon, May 27, 2013, 8:08pm (UTC -5)
This was a masterpiece of an episode. The Nog storyline was hugely powerful. Notice he rejects profit in favour for the federation, essentially rejecting capitalism for the Federation's post capitalist ethos of service and sacrifice. It's a rejection of the ego and self itself.

And Odo's tale about him being "nothing" was hugely touching.
Kotas
Tue, Oct 22, 2013, 6:52pm (UTC -5)

The main story was "meh", but it had some good and important development for Nog.

6/10
K'Elvis
Wed, Nov 6, 2013, 2:43pm (UTC -5)
The B-story is an important one, as we see, it has ongoing reprecussions. However, it does seem to come out of nowhere, we are given little, if anything to think that Nog might want something other than a typical Ferengi way of life. It also marks the beginning of Rom being more of a significant character. I would go as far as to say that the B-story is the real A-story.

The A-story is OK, Odo admitting his feelings about Kira is important. I did roll my eyes when the fake Kira said that she loved him too, but that's understandable. Bariel had just died, and it wouldn't make sense for Kira to share Odo's feelings. But it made sense when we found out this really wasn't Kira after all. The fake Kira made a mistake, and Odo caught it. I thought she was a little too cheerful when her foot was first stuck, that also can be explained by it not being the real Kira.
Jons
Sat, Feb 1, 2014, 5:06am (UTC -5)
As far as I'm concerned, the B-story is that ridiculous Kira - Odo mishap with the ludicrous Dominion plot (as if the Dominion leader would go herself to retrieve Odo, spend so much time, and for what reason we still don't know).

The real story is Nog.
Probably because as humans we ARE unable to empathize and get along with cultures that have values that are REALLY different from our own. (It is telling that everybody thinks "character development" for Nog is him renouncing the Ferengi culture for more human values (do what you're good at, not swear by profit, etc.)).

But oh well, Star Trek is a human TV show, and I'm a human viewer so I guess there's no way out of it. The scene about Nog's motives to join Star Fleet is very powerful, touching and made me genuinely sorry for Nog.

It is horrible for a child to realize their parents aren't role-models and then admit they want to do better. But it was done in a very realistic way - Nog never says his father is an idiot - he still sticks up for him by finding reasons why his father is a loser in the Ferengi culture. And that's only possible because Nog was lucky to be exposed to other cultures, which allow him to have a different frame of reference and a different analysis of his father's lack of success: It's not his father's fault, it's the Ferengi absolute obsession with business, whether or not you "have the lobes" for it.

In that I guess it really is character development, and I felt satisfied that the acme of the episode was Sisko accepting to recommend him - I was afraid that by the end of the episode Nog would somehow change his mind in a typical Star-Trek-Reset-Button plot...
Jay
Thu, Feb 20, 2014, 12:55pm (UTC -5)
To accept at face value (pun intended) that changelings can mimic a person to such painstaking detail just by viewing them stretches reality already. But that they can also do their voice perfectly strains just throws everything out the window. Everyone's voice is unique...how could a changeling so perfectly recreate precise vocal chords and larynx "schematics" that exactly...they can't insta-x-ray someone.
Vylora
Fri, Feb 21, 2014, 5:17pm (UTC -5)
The b-plot is worth the price of admission alone and should've been its own episode. Nevertheless the overall story is well executed. I didn't feel cheated in the slightest and the motives of the Founder makes sense to me.

3 stars.
Alex
Sat, Feb 22, 2014, 10:38pm (UTC -5)
Jammer - I think you need to re-write this review. The fact that just dismissed a rather IMPORTANT character transition for Nog was an embarrassment. Think it through. After finishing the entire series you can't honestly say that you feel the same way about this episode now as you did on your 1st viewing. I know you're not a big Ferengi fan but come on.
Corey
Sun, Feb 23, 2014, 7:18am (UTC -5)
@ Alex.

To me this is a powerful episode as well, but I think we're privy to a kind of hindsight that Jammer didn't have when first watching this episode.
Paul M.
Sun, Feb 23, 2014, 5:09pm (UTC -5)
@Alex and Corey

This whole thing with Nog in Starfleet, while paying dividends later on, was just infuriating when I first watched it. Here's a guy who didn't know how to read and write just two years ago! Are we to believe that he managed to catch up on all those countless years of education he missed in such a short time frame? And then he got into the prestigious Starfleet Academy, you know the one where geniuses like Wesley and Picard had failed their entrance exams when they first applied.

For my teen self 15 or more years ago, that was just too much to swallow. These obviously brilliant minds (hey! Wesley IS brilliant! Honest!) weren't good enough; such was the caliber of Starfleet cadets, little me thought, when suddenly this quasi-moron comes along and just waltzes around San Francisco!

What? :) It bothered me something fierce in that tender age.
DavidK
Mon, Feb 24, 2014, 8:08am (UTC -5)
@Paul M
Must be that pesky affirmative action again ;)
MisterFred
Tue, Jun 3, 2014, 12:37pm (UTC -5)
I'm surprised you dismissed the B-story so quickly. Nog breaking down and admitting to Sisko he's ashamed of his father is the best scene in the whole episode (and frankly, when I first saw the show I couldn't think of anything Nog could say to get Sisko's recommendation, until he came up with that).
Quarky
Thu, Jun 12, 2014, 3:31am (UTC -5)
I don't understand why people like nog joining starfleet or rom becoming an engineer. It is established in earlier episodes that rom is an idiot and not just by quark. Odo and moogie say it as well. Roms mom says he doesn't have the lobes for
Business but is made the grand negus. Nog says he also isn't a smart ferengi and good at making profit. But then in the later seasons they make him a good ferengi when it comes to profit and acquiring items. It was bad enough that they made the ferengi simply comedic after the first season of stng. Then in ds9 they make every ferengi but quark turn away from their society and become human basically. I'm in the minority though. Most people love what the writers did and really feel for the new versions of rom and nog even though it came out of nowhere
Robert
Thu, Jun 12, 2014, 9:25am (UTC -5)
"I don't understand why people like nog joining starfleet or rom becoming an engineer. It is established in earlier episodes that rom is an idiot and not just by quark. Odo and moogie say it as well. Roms mom says he doesn't have the lobes for business but is made the grand negus."

However implausible it is, Rom is a raging liberal by Ferengi standards and Moogie turned Ferenginar into a liberal paradise that needed someone like Rom.

"Nog says he also isn't a smart ferengi and good at making profit. But then in the later seasons they make him a good ferengi when it comes to profit and acquiring items. "

Nog doesn't have the lobes for business. Future episodes that show him being good at trading just show him being better at it than Chief O'Brien. And being better at business than a 1960s lounge singer. Ok, so the kid that grew up in Ferengi culture can barter and do math. Does that really bother you? Quark considers himself a failure compared to Gaila and it seems Nog is even worse than that.

You're just taking all this to the extremes. It's MUCH more logically consistent than you give it credit for.

People often consider mechanics dumb. There's a tendency to look down on people who aren't as quick in the head but are great with their hands. That's Rom. He's like a space MacGyver. He even fixes the replicators with pots and pans. It's supposed to be played for laughs, but I never got the impression he was actually dumb (except MAYBE early S1), but I could see other Ferengi calling him that if he's horrible at business. That's what THEY value, and Rom is bad at it.

They never go back on it. Nog's speech in this episode confirms that his father is an awful Ferengi. But he's a good engineer.
Quarkissnyder
Sat, Jun 14, 2014, 11:18pm (UTC -5)
I thought the B story was great but I agree with the above comments that Nog never would have gotten into Star Fleet Academy. A certified genius like Wesley Crusher was rejected when he first applied (okay, that was a really stupid plot on TNG), but there's no way Nog could pass the entrance exam.

I could not suspend my disbelief with the A story. In then end Kira acting out of character made sense, but there was so much that didn't. Especially: when Odo couldn't send a communication from the moon, why didn't he simply take the shuttle craft away from the interference, contact DS9, and return. It would have taken about 20 minutes.
Yanks
Thu, Jul 17, 2014, 1:46pm (UTC -5)
Sorry Jammer, I just love this episode.

Sure the founders are better at shape-shifting that Odo, that's an easy one. We see it later in the series too. What's funny is that they choose to shape shift to appear like Odo many many times. Why?

Rene' and Nana play off each other wonderfully. I can't imagine playing Kira's part in this one. I think I read somewhere where it was a painful task.

The writers don't get away with anything. Odo reveals to himself, finally, that he loves Kira. That's HUGE!

The "B" story is just as good as the main plot. Nog wanting to join Star Fleet is very interesting and when he finally breaks down and gives his reasons why it very emotional. Well played by Aaron.

@ Paul M. - Wesley is white. He has to meet the standards. I'm sure Star Fleet has special programs with different standards that promote diversity. ;)

Both stories well written and delivered.

This is an easy 4 stars for me.
Diane
Wed, Feb 11, 2015, 6:31am (UTC -5)
Hi Yanks, I think the reason Wesley Crusher had to go through great lengths to get into Starfleet was he was so young. (my opinion) He was only 16 years old. Nog, was no dummy, he had a year to bring his grades up and some other skills needed to get in. At least this is what I always thought. Now my take on the female changeing, I felt this was not Kira the first time I saw this episode. She seemed to overplay Kira, she laughed to much, she played a little too needy. I had started to like Kira a lot better by the time I saw this episode, she remained a strong female character, and she had stopped being b@@@@chy.
MsV
Mon, Feb 16, 2015, 8:48pm (UTC -5)
I liked the b story better. I got a little misty-eyed when Nog was explaining why he didn't want to be like his father.
Brian S.
Wed, Feb 18, 2015, 1:49pm (UTC -5)
@Paul M:"Here's a guy who didn't know how to read and write just two years ago! Are we to believe that he managed to catch up on all those countless years of education he missed in such a short time frame?"

I never bought the whole didn't know how to read bit. Ferengi culture is backwards in many ways, but for a society that is so obsessive about business and profit, you'd think a teenage Ferengi male would be literate enough to read & write financial statements, a business plan, a standard contract, etc.

I think it would fit much better that Nog couldn't read English, and that--for whatever reason--Starfleet and Keiko's school didn't translate too many things into Ferengi. Or perhaps that Nog can read well enough for being an employee at his job. Rom did say early in Season 1 that they are given work-study positions. I'm surprised that he wouldn't be able to read well enough to read a business contract. But even reading a menu or a Ferengi financial statement is different from reading a novel or writing an essay. He probably isn't totally illiterate, but rather just very far behind compared to where Jake is. For someone as old as Nog (probably 18-20 years old) only being able to read at a 1st grade level is virtually illiterate.

Nog is very qualified in many other ways. He's a hard worker and seemingly a good engineer. The ability to read Moby Dick and the ability to repair a plasma conduit or understand warp drive mechanics are not the same.

Besides, if you already know how to speak a language, and you already know what all the words mean, simply learning how to read written words isn't all that difficult.
HawgWyld
Thu, Jun 25, 2015, 9:06am (UTC -5)
I've got to go along with all of those saying this is a good episode because of the excellent "B" story. I could have done without the whole "let's trick Odo" bit, but the major story arc involving Nog becoming a Star Fleet officer started here and that makes this episode worthwhile.
William B
Mon, Sep 14, 2015, 11:06am (UTC -5)
I think "Heart of Stone" is a little underrated -- it's quiet, talky, and despite its low-key tone contains two plots which involve significant breakthroughs for the respective central characters. Its big weakness in both plots, besides the relatively relaxed pace (which I don't consider a big problem), is that, to very different degrees, both rely on a character development that is a little bit discrete and forced, rather than continuous and believable -- even if ultimately both plots' character impacts are for the good. The episode is particularly damaged by its placement: the A- and B-plots of this episode are particularly jarring coming after the respective plots in "Life Support."

The Odo/Kira plot opens with a few brief scenes with the real Kira, beginning with Odo expressing annoyance that Kira spoke for him when declining a dinner invitation. Kira takes Odo's desire to stay out of certain humanoid customs for granted, especially those customs she has no interest in, and I think this annoys Odo both because he is acutely aware of how much Kira does *not* realize about Odo's true feelings, and because he dislikes the implication that Kira gets to decide for him what his involvement in others' lives are. It also positions Kira as the gatekeeper, between Odo and the humanoid world, and it annoys Odo that she happened to close that particular door, even if it is not one that he wanted to walk through. Soon Kira is endangered with an odd crystal, and the rest of the episode is a slow but steady progression as Kira's life is more and more in danger and Odo opens up more and more. The plot has echoes of "The Forsaken," except that Kira is not the prying stranger forcing entry into Odo's secrets but the steady friend who was been with Odo for years, causing Odo's defenses to fall away as her life fades away. Odo's cucumber-cool dissolves as Kira's death becomes more and more a certainty, and he confesses what he's been trying so hard to hide: that he loves her. His story is of how he went from being Nothing to being Odo, someone, because of her -- finding meaning in the inhospitable alien world of humanoids through friendship and love.

The have-cake-and-eat-it-too ending, wherein it was the Founder Leader all along as Kira, is actually mostly satisfying to me. Her interpretation is that Odo is with the humanoids rather than with her band of evil conquerers because of Kira, and Odo's having fallen into her...trap?...most of the way underscores some of the emotional dynamics of the Founder Leader/Odo/Kira triangle. Odo's cool, rational mind leads him to see the flaws in the Founder Leader's deception, eventually, but at first the emotional devastation of Kira dying before him makes him unable to think clearly, and it's only with the emotionally painful realization that *Kira does not love him* that he is able to return to his coolheaded self. It is tragic and moving that Odo's love for Kira is what allows him to be manipulated, but his knowledge that that love is unrequited is what sends him back. And while he was deceived by her, he revealed the loneliness of life among the solids to her more fully.

There are some downsides though. For one, I think that the episode somewhat unwisely puts too much stock in the love declaration as a climactic emotional moment. First of all because we already had Lwaxana telling the audience (and Odo not denying it) a few episodes previous to this one. So it's not news in and of itself. I like the idea that this is Odo first *admitting* to these feelings not just to Kira but to himself, which would give this episode a particular reason to exist for Odos character development, and there are hints of that -- at least, that Odo manages to say it out loud is movement. But I get the impression that Odo knows, with certainty, that he loves Kira, and that Kira's death leads Odo to get desperate enough to tell Kira, rather than for his own reaction to her peril to be what he needs to realize himself that he loves her. As a result, it's still a bit unclear what has changed between now and mid-s2, where Odo had strong feelings for Kira but I don't think *he* interpreted them as (romantic) love at all. There is a suddenness with which season three keeps pushing the Odo-loves-Kira card. The first time in which Auberjonois played Odo as very clearly romantically interested/jealous was in "The Collaborator," and so maybe we are supposed to see Bareil's entry as sparking the jealousy that lets Odo know his feelings, etc., but it's all a bit unclear. I actually might prefer that it's Odo's recognition that he doesn't want to leave Kira behind in "The Search" that made his feelings clear to him, if not, you know, the situation in this episode. That this episode is IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING Bareil's death does lend credence to the idea that Bareil was killed off purely to make way for Odo/Kira, which I gather was not the case but nevertheless gives the episode a somewhat tacky, inappropriate feel. Surely even if not-Kira didn't bring up Bareil, Odo should have? The question of how the Female Shapeshifter could do such a good job of portraying Kira that Odo found her psychologically convincing, and then to throw that unconvincing I LOVE YOU TOO at the end, also hangs in the air.

Nog's reason for joining Starfleet makes sense. And there is some genuine character set up for it. Nog's friendship with Jake has always shown him somewhat attracted to human values. In both "The Nagus" and "The Jem'Hadar" we were shown evidence of Nog being torn between a human-style education and the restrictions placed on him by family -- in "The Nagus" it was his job and his (apparently) having been kept illiterate that hurt him, in "The Jem'Hadar" he seemed to be genuinely enjoying his planetary survey with Jake and hurt and frustrated that Quark was continuing to cause trouble for him. Both of these depict a boy who likes much of Jake's world but feels constrained by his background and family. The additional element this episode adds and clarifies, that Nog has seen how his father has been beaten down by a philosophy of living ill-suited to him, is logical as well, though "mechanical genius" is a bit of a leap for describing Rom right now, as much as it comes do define him more and more as the series goes on. Part of what the series is doing here is the recognition that some cultures are particularly stifling for some individuals, and that those individuals are the ones who need most badly to escape -- but the plurality of cultural options open makes that possible. Nog is currently trapped, but because of Sisko he doesn't have to be.

That said, this is the episode after Nog railed against Jake for letting females talk on a date. Nog's rejection of Ferengi values and embracing Starfleet as a way of life is sudden and runs counter to his Ferengi-over-hewmons attitude in the very last episode. And, well, it does seem as if it's going to be pretty damn hard for Nog to enter the Academy when he was *illiterate* two years ago. Ben got Jake to spend months training with O'Brien; could he not suggesting something similar for Nog so that Nog really knows what kind of life he is in for, even if Nog ultimately chooses to reject it? At what point did the idea come to Nog that Starfleet was the answer? What has changed? Part of what does work about the plotline is that, because Nog is a secondary character, the story plays out primarily in Sisko's point of view, and involves Sisko trying to weigh what Nog claims to want against what Sisko knows about him. And this makes Nog's offscreen transformation play out interestingly. Teens do have fairly rapid identity shifts, and Sisko not being sure whether this is some sort of game or joke, or scheme, or whim, but trying to keep an open mind, is mostly a pleasure to see.

Anyway it's an important episode for furthering some of the subplots and is at times quite moving, but it's held back by the suddenness of much of the character development. I agree with 2.5 stars.
William B
Mon, Sep 14, 2015, 11:07am (UTC -5)
Oh right, I forgot to add: I like how the "no changeling has ever harmed another" hardline stance is brought up again so carefully to set up for, you know.
William B
Tue, Sep 15, 2015, 9:43pm (UTC -5)
Oh right, the Academy thing came up because Nog had reached Ferengi adulthood -- and that put the pressure on him. I don't know why these things slip my mind.

Thinking about it, I did enjoy this episode quite a bit, though I still have the above problems. I'm going up to 3.
Grumpy
Thu, Sep 17, 2015, 8:20pm (UTC -5)
Nic in 2009: "And what was her plan? How did she thik that masquerading Kira would convince Odo to return to the Great Link?"

The plan, according to one line of dialogue, was to make Odo think Kira *died*, thus severing his emotional attachment to the solids. Easy to understand why you'd miss it. First, she doesn't kill Kira when she has the chance; an actual dead Kira would certainly be more persuasive than a fake one. But second, she doesn't fake Kira's death when she has the chance. She waits for an hour after "I love you too," giving Odo time to expose the ruse.

Also, it's incredibly convenient that Kira (the real one) suggests they split up to search the cave. If they had stuck together, or if they'd found the stasis capsule first, the plan, such as it is, would've been ruined.
Jerry
Sun, Nov 8, 2015, 9:08pm (UTC -5)
Thus episode felt like it was written by a 12 year old.
Diamond Dave
Thu, Nov 26, 2015, 1:08pm (UTC -5)
The basic A-story seemed almost like a TOS idea - trapped in an expanding crystal! - but clearly in retrospect it is just a contrivance to get the Odo/Kira story moving. For me it doesn't really work, even without the surprise twist at the end (which was a decent one), and especially with the reset button push.

The Nog story line works far better, and has a minor character ever played a scene better than when he finally reveals to Sisko why he wants to join Starfleet? Marvelous stuff. When Rom stands up to Quark at the end it puts the cap on a nicely played story that trumps the A-story. 2.5 stars.
JC
Mon, Feb 15, 2016, 2:35pm (UTC -5)
Why do the Founders choose to mimic Dr. Mora's hair style?
Macca
Wed, Feb 17, 2016, 12:10am (UTC -5)
Hi JC

I don't think this an error.

I think they are mimicking Odo's hair rather than Dr. Mora's. In 'The Search' I think they were trying to look similar to Odo to make him feel at ease and by default mimicked Mora.
Luke
Wed, Mar 16, 2016, 7:12pm (UTC -5)
JAMMER: "Forget the B-story; I won't mention it again."

In the name of God, why? The B-plot to this episode is one of the highlights of the series and makes "Heart of Stone" easily one of my favorites from the first three seasons (and probably my favorite of Season Three). What could have ended up being little more than just another attempt at cheap laughs instead becomes the turning point in one of the most impressive and satisfying arc stories "Deep Space Nine" ever offered. Having Nog decide to join Starfleet was a brilliant idea, especially after the decision to have Jake not do so (which was still the correct way to go). And Aron Eisenberg got the chance to really show off his acting chops this time. The scene where Sisko forces him to break down and admit the real reason he wants to join Starfleet is very moving. Rom, while a likeable character, is indeed pretty pitiable and to have Nog say that he absolutely does not want to follow in his footsteps while still defending him (because he does love him) and his engineering gifts is really touching.

As for the A-plot with Odo and Kira, it's also really enjoyable. Rene Auberjonois once again delivers a powerhouse performance when he admits his feelings for Kira. When he stumbles over and can barely stand up straight after admitting the truth, Auberjonis really sells the emotion. It's also a wonderful example of the story-telling technique of "put two people in a room and have them just talk hoping something interesting will happen." This worked wonders for TNG: "Chain of Command, Part II" and is one of the main reasons why "Waltz" is one of my favorite episodes of DS9. Sure, ultimately it might not mean much due to the twist at the end, but it does allow Odo and his internal conflicts to take center stage. And we find out that Odo is really beginning to soften due to his exposure to life on the station - he goes kayaking with O'Brien, reads detective stories, etc. It's nice to hear about Odo doing all these things, even if we don't actually see him doing them.

JAMMER: "I doubt that the nameless female shapeshifter would go to such lengths to sway Odo into returning to the Gamma Quadrant."

It makes perfect sense to me. The Founders have already by this point shown that they are extremely interested in getting Odo to return; that the life of just one Changeling means more to them than anything else. Just look at what they did in "The Search, Part II". Up until that point they had deliberately created the fictions that the Founders were mythical and that Changelings didn't exist. And yet, very shortly after the events of that episode, it was common knowledge that the Founders were real and that they were shape-shifters. They were willing to toss away literally centuries worth of carefully laid Dominion security just so Odo wouldn't have to be harmed. Later, during the Dominion Occupation in Season Six, the Female Changeling will flat out tell Weyoun that Odo's return to the Great Link means more to the Founders than does the entire Alpha Quadrant. Having her go to the lengths she does here doesn't really seem all that out of character.

10/10
Chrome
Thu, Mar 17, 2016, 9:49am (UTC -5)
@Luke

I agree with you, and I think Jammer really hates Ferengi shows. Upon first viewing, I didn't like the Ferengi shows either, perhaps because I was young and wholeheartedly accepted Picard/Riker's take on them from early TNG.

However, if you want to talk about some real progress and moral character development, the Ferengi are DS9's shining stars. Any of them, all of them. Except Brunt, I guess, but he's a villain.
DLPB
Wed, Apr 20, 2016, 8:28am (UTC -5)
I do love how they completely retcon Rom's character from a down and out idiot to a game changing genius.

As for Nog - the idea of him joining or succeeding in Starfleet is a joke. It was only done to keep Nog's actor on the show.

It's a decent episode if you ignore the shoe-horned nature of the Nog story.
Skywalker
Tue, May 17, 2016, 1:15pm (UTC -5)
@Luke, very good analysis. I don't know why Jammer dismissed Nog's entrance into SFA.

The strange thing about Nog actually getting into SFA relatively easily, and Wesley having a much harder time of it, does seem out of balance. Yet these sorts of things happen in today's military, and not just for the diversity quotient some of the people here have mentioned, though that explanation holds plenty of water: "The first Ferengi cadet in Starfleet! It'll be a great public relations event. Move Mr. Nog to the top of the list!" It happens.

But I can vouch for how unfair these swings can be. I have worked the better part of the past seven years trying to become an officer and military pilot, and was repeatedly thwarted by the DoD drawdowns, finally succeeding in achieving my dream last year -- despite having stellar grades and already being a civilian pilot. My uncle became a military pilot in the '80s during the Reagan build-up, and humbly jokes he never had much knack for flying, but if you had a pulse back then you could make it simply because recruiting was so high. And when I was a cadet, it was one of the first couple of years of the post-Bush drawdown, and I saw 60% of the cadet corps, including many highly qualified, smart, dedicated young men and women, get slashed from the program simply because the number of available slots for new officers had to be reduced. It was heartbreaking and unfair. I made out a lot better than they, despite my own enormous challenges.

This kind of need-of-Starfleet explanation is never used in-universe to justify the relative ease for Nog and difficulty for Wesley (that quitter! haha), but it certainly is plausible.
Yanks
Tue, May 17, 2016, 4:28pm (UTC -5)
Skywalker,

Congrats!! ... from a 30 military officer. You are correct, numbers aren't fair at times. Glad you made it through.

One of the "Drawn down" consequences that chaps my ass is there are ground pounders that have done 3 & 4 tours in Iraq/Afghanistan that are being forced out before their 20 because of these asinine cuts. It's truly hurtful.

Again, congrats on your success!!
Skywalker
Mon, Jul 4, 2016, 10:45am (UTC -5)
@Yanks, thank you, sir! Yeah, I'm equally annoyed about them being forced out early also. As a military force we are necessarily an instrument of political will against our enemies and in support of our allies. But when *domestic* politics holds us hostage to thwart political opponents at home, and all the while eroding the national defense, it is abysmal.
RandomThoughts
Sun, Aug 14, 2016, 6:35am (UTC -5)
On a recent re-viewing, I couldn't remember the ending of either the A or B story. Perhaps it was forgettable for me, but I kept thinking this was a plan from the Maquis person, maybe a holo program. I completely forgot that it was a Changeling, and also forgot the impassioned speech by Nog. It'd been 18 years or so since my last viewing. I was happy to be surprised again. :)

I've seen many comments written with an eye to what happened in later episodes. I, on the other hand, try to forget what comes later (apparently I'm really good at this, see above paragraph).

I never bought the crystal on Kira. I thought they did well having her act just a 'little' bit off. But my thought was is if she couldn't really feel her foot, because of the pressure, she'd be dead as soon as her diaphram was unable to move, and that'd be well before the crystal was neck high. She'd be dead before it reached her upper arms, and when she wasn't, I didn't believe it was her. And it really WAS creepy when it became clear it was a Changeling. We were being told they could impersonate anyone, and that was disquieting...

At the time of the original airing, the Nog Starfleet request seemed weird, as he'd just shown us what he thought of Human values in a previous episode. But when it played out, he just seemed so Genuine with his explanation of why he wanted to join. And it was entirely plausible. Well acted by Aaron. If he hadn't sold it, it would have fallen flat. He made me BELIEVE IT. On the other hand, I can see how this could have been dismissed, since it was so unexpected, and I even recall thinking to myself that they were writing him out of the show (Go to Starfleet! Visit once or twice! Bye! *waves*).

Enjoy the day Everyone... RT

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