Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Broken Link"

***

Air date: 6/17/1996
Teleplay by Robert Hewitt Wolfe & Ira Steven Behr
Story by George A. Brozak
Directed by Les Landau

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Come now, Mr. Worf. You're a Klingon. Don't tell me you'd object to a little genocide in the name of self-defense." — Garak

Nutshell: A lot of this feels unfinished, like merely a promise of what's to come, but what was here was handled quite nicely.

It's interesting how well the season finales of both DS9 and Voyager can sum up their respective seasons. Voyager had a fairly pointless cliffhanger installment that highlighted a basically pointless and problematic season. DS9, on the other hand, offers a finale that, while frustrating in some of its cliffhanger-like respects, offers some potentially riveting background material. "Broken Link" is a worthwhile episode to end a very good season.

The episode opens as Odo begins to literally disintegrate for reasons Bashir cannot begin to fathom. Odo begins experiencing difficulty in holding his humanoid form—in one scene, he's trying to apprehend a criminal but collapses into a puddle of Changeling goo on the floor with practically no warning (the criminal gets away). Bashir realizes that Odo's molecular structure will not hold up for more than another week or two, and with no hope for a cure in sight, Odo has only one chance for survival: to ask the Founders for their assistance. The Defiant departs for the Gamma Quadrant to begin a search for the Founders' new homeworld.

That's right, the Dominion—again. As the season finale—again. It's okay with me, though. As little of the Dominion's actions we've really seen this season (considering "The Adversary's" notion that the Changelings were "everywhere") it's nice to see some potentially groundbreaking development back in the works for this storyline. Still, "potentially" is one of the key words here. What amounts from this episode could easily have major repercussions next season, but it could probably just as easily be put off until who-knows-when (like the "Adversary" plot); and what happens in the long run is not something I can really analyze now.

And that results in a bit of difficulty for dissecting this particular show at this particular time. How are we supposed to respond to what comes out of this? I guess, for now, I'll try to take everything at face value. I don't think I have much of a choice.

"Broken Link" isn't really a Dominion story so much as it is an Odo story, and, as one could probably expect for a primarily character-driven series, this is in the show's favor. Where "The Jem'Hadar" and "The Adversary" worked well as action-driven shows, "Broken Link" has a different agenda. It doesn't center around putting the away team or Defiant crew in life-threatening jeopardy like the earlier shows did; it takes a more subtle approach with less focus on violent confrontations and more focus on the smaller-scaled, more complex human qualities.

Once the Defiant is intercepted by Jem'Hadar fighters (who disable the ship's navigational recorders in order to keep the trip to the Founders' new homeworld a one-time occurrence), the female shapeshifter who has been watching over Odo in episodes past (Salome Jens) beams aboard and explains the situation to Odo. The episode turns out to be, in fact, a personal consequence of a confrontation from "The Adversary": Odo's unavoidable killing of a shapeshifter infiltrator to save the Defiant from imminent doom, which earned him the unpopular reputation of being the only Changeling to ever harm another of his own kind. Odo's self-disintegration is being caused by the Founders to force him to return home, where he must join with the Great Link, the Founders' intertwined mental network of mass knowledge, to be "judged" for his "murderous" action.

Two substantially impacting developments result from this show: One is the sentence for Odo's judgment, the other is a revelation connected to a side-story early in the episode concerning Gowron's urgent, attention-demanding threats of war. I'll get to those in a minute. First I want to describe what "Broken Link" offers besides these two surprising moments.

In terms of screen time, the show has a surprising amount of filler, especially for a season finale. But the padding scenes work nicely, even if a bit on the lightweight side, and all manage to have some sort of decent character point for Odo. He has a number of quiet but relevant discussions with other characters—Bashir, Kira, the female Changeling, Garak. The female shapeshifter in particular, in addition to being the episode's necessary bearer of information, manages to make the Founders understandable and not simply malevolent. She doesn't want Odo to suffer needlessly, but she does require that he answer for the death of the Changeling he killed.

One interesting note about the situation is how troubling even the other Founders find it. The female Changeling explains to Odo that there was widespread disagreement in the Link on how to deal with their rogue shapeshifter. Some wanted him executed, while others thought it best just to leave his destiny to that of whatever becomes the other "solids." The consensus finally decided to bring him to the Link, where his actual thoughts and beliefs can be read, and from which an appropriate judgment can be made that will appease everyone—or, at least, all the Founders.

Then there's Garak, who is amusing in his role to "take Odo's mind off his condition" by distracting him with a concoction of "innuendoes, half-truths, and bald-faced lies" about his still-mysterious past. This makes appropriate use of his character, and Odo's suspicious yet indecisive reactions to Garak's suppositions are fun.

Garak has another purpose here, however—one that isn't so lightweight. He wants to know whether the lives of any Cardassians who attacked the Founders (in "The Die is Cast") were spared and taken prisoner. The female Changeling's answer is disconcerting to say the least, and proves that the Founders are a group that one does not want to be in a true conflict with: "They're dead. You're dead. Cardassia is dead. Your people were doomed the moment they attacked us." Quite cold.

But for that matter, I doubt I'd want to be on Garak's bad side either. After the Changeling's icy response, Garak devises, in what could have easily sustained an entire story in itself, a seriously devious plan to wipe out all the shapeshifters by attempting to gain unauthorized access to the Defiant's weapons. Worf intervenes, however, in a fiery argument scene that had my undivided attention. Being a former Obsidian, Garak's logic makes sense—what do the lives of Odo, Sisko, the Defiant crew, and his own matter when considering a plan that may very well safeguard the entire Alpha Quadrant? Garak puts his thoughts as honestly as I've heard anything said in quite a while: "Don't tell me you'd object to a little genocide in the name of self-defense." Quite cold, part two. It's surprising the range his character has, and how credible he seems in both ends of the spectrum, from humorous to sinister.

One more quick ten-second filler bit: There's a rather unlikely moment of comic inspiration where Bashir, whose brain is obviously in idle mode, almost skips a stone off the Changeling lake. Fortunately, Sisko is there to stop him ("Doctor?!"). I was laughing hard on that one.

Padding scenes aside, what "Broken Link" really rides on are the two big moments the show drops on us. First is the Founders' sentence to make Odo human and officially banish him from the Great Link, something Odo obviously would've liked to rejoin had the Dominion not operated on views he opposes as an assimilated humanoid. I'm not sure exactly how I feel about this idea yet. I'm pretty sure I like it; doubtlessly, there's heaps of potential for character building and rediscovery, and it's one of the riskier things the writers have tried with a character on the series.

At the same time, I wonder if the creators are tossing aside all opportunities for completing Odo's journey as a shapeshifter trying to find his niche in a society that operates completely differently from another one he originated from but never understood. The show introduced the intriguing notion that being in the Link gave Odo understanding of his people and himself for the first time ever, and that this understanding was all snatched away as the Founders stuck him in a human body and disowned him (which in itself brings up some questions as to how powerful they truly are). Above all, I hope this isn't some sort of ploy that the writers are going to reverse on us next season. If they change Odo back into a shapeshifter, I'm going to seriously wonder what the point of this whole idea is. I suspect that they aren't going to do something silly like that, but I bring it up because there's always the possibility.

The episode's other surprise is that Gowron himself is a shapeshifter, much unbeknownst to the Federation and the Klingon Empire—something only Odo senses while connected to the Great Link. The show ends with Gowron snarling on the viewscreen, demanding the Federation turn old territory over to the Empire lest he declare war on them. In my opinion, this idea is fine—it plausibly explains Gowron's implausibly aggressive behavior, and it will allow something new to develop along the whole Klingon/Federation (and Dominion) front that's been stuck in a state of status quo since "Way of the Warrior."

"Broken Link" has some very good character implications and storyline promises, but it still isn't quite what it could have been. While turning Odo human and revealing that the leader of the Klingon Empire is a Changeling impostor are two ideas that probably don't really belong in the same episode in the first place, the episode's one underlying problem is that it is merely a promise of what's to come. Even though I can respect what the writers are probably planning to do, I wasn't completely satisfied with what came out of the episode. Most of what I've written here is in praise of what I think and hope will result from the events of the show. Standing alone, however, it's hard not to think "so?" after the screen fades to black, because the ending proves a bit more frustrating than it really should've been—even as a season finale. Considering how long it takes to get where it's going, I was hoping the conclusion would've been a little more revealing, especially along Odo's reactions to being human.

I suppose you can't have everything. I'm quite pleased with "Broken Link" and DS9's entire fourth season in general. As always, the potential for continuing with new, intriguing developments is present. The creators just need to seize the opportunity next season.

Previous episode: Body Parts
Next episode: Apocalypse Rising

End-of-season article: Fourth Season Recap

◄ Season Index

41 comments on this review

Brian
Tue, Sep 18, 2007, 1:56pm (UTC -6)
I really do dislike the "Gowron, the head of the Klingon Empire" bit. Anyone there not sure who he is? Also I will always wonder why all shapeshifters take a human form similar to Odo when Odo is supposed to be the only one with the kind of limitation that makes him appear as he does.
Jakob M. Mokoru
Sat, Nov 10, 2007, 5:36am (UTC -6)
Maybe the founders are just trying to be NICE to Odo...
Dimitris Kiminas
Wed, May 27, 2009, 12:12pm (UTC -6)
Or maybe thay need some extra effort to take a perfect human form, an effort that's only worth taking when there's a special objective to be accomplished (like spying!)
Durandal_1707
Thu, Oct 8, 2009, 4:34am (UTC -6)
However, if they're so powerful that they're actually able to turn other Changelings into actual humans, why don't they do that more often? If they wanted to replace someone like Gowron or that ambassador from the Season 3 finale, why not make the impostor real? Then, the Changeling would have no need to worry about blood tests, someone noticing him turn into liquid form to regenerate at night (after all, what if the replacee has a spouse?), someone noticing that he never eats, etc.
Derek
Tue, Oct 13, 2009, 5:22am (UTC -6)
"That's right, the Dominion--again. As the season finale--again."

Pretty funny in retrospect, considering they ended up 6 for 7 on that front.
Carl
Sun, Nov 8, 2009, 7:12pm (UTC -6)
This is another great review, Jammer. However, I object to your claim that some of the changelings wanted Odo executed. That was my first thought during that scene, but the female changeling never stated that it was the case, and given that 'no changeling had ever killed another' prior to Odo in 'The Adversery', I think it very likely was not. I am not forgetting the line 'perhaps we should have killed you - it would have been far less cruel' - the way that line is delivered suggests to me that execution was never considered an option.
Nic
Wed, Nov 25, 2009, 8:13pm (UTC -6)
Here's Ron Moore's explanation of why the other Changelings take Odo's shape:
"Odo modeled his look after Dr. Mora and the Founders then modeled their look after Odo. They did this initially as a compliment and way of reaching out to their long-lost Changeling, and later they kept doing it as a dig and reminder to him of his own limitations."

I agree Garak's story could have been an episode all in itself. However, while season 4 had many great stand-alone episodes (especially the first half of the season), I am a little disappointed at how little any of the story arcs were pushed forward beyond "The Way of the Warrior". It has always been just a hint of what is to come with no payoff, which makes the individual episodes somewhat unsatisfying. I have no problem with continuing stories, but as I have said before, each episode still has to be entertaining on its own terms, otherwise, it's always the feeling that "okay, that wasn't so good, but I'm sure it will be worth it in the long run". The other thing about making 'promises' of future episodes is that you come to expect a follow-up, and thus are never surprised.
Nic
Tue, Feb 2, 2010, 10:07pm (UTC -6)
I just thought of something: if the Founders have changed the location of their homeworld, then how will the rest of the hundred get home? It seemed clear in "The Search" that Odo was the first (or among the first) to return, and that the desire to return to the Omarion nebula was "implanted into their genetic make-up" (as proposterous as that is).

If this is explained in future episodes, then just forget I said that.
Larry,ongballs
Fri, Feb 12, 2010, 1:46am (UTC -6)
I always thought they used the Odo mold as a way of establishing their identity. They are not Klingons, Cardassians, Romulans or Humans. Therefore Odo's shape is the closest they have to their own physical identity.

On the other hand perhaps it is Odo who has taken the normal physical form of the changelings without knowing. For example if you were the only man you ever knew of who had blonde hair and blue eyes then you would assume that blonde hair and blue eyes are intrinsic to you and you alone. This is not to say that nop one else in the world has blonde hair and blue eyes. I just means that there are none that you know of.
Nic
Fri, Feb 19, 2010, 11:38am (UTC -6)
I just thought of something else. It's possible that it is very easy for a Changeling to 'copy' something that already exists, but a lot harder to create something new. That could explain how Founders could impersonate lifeforms, but cannot create a new one that is as "perfect". It would also explain how Odo is able to simulate the shape of a combadge.
bigpale
Mon, Feb 21, 2011, 2:13pm (UTC -6)
Nic, to answer your first question:

The hundred have a kind of homing beacon built into their DNA which draws them to the founders homeworld, where ever it may be. Odo went to the Omarian Nebula because that's where they were.

If they had been in the Beta Quadrent, he would have been drawn there.
Stubb
Mon, Jul 11, 2011, 8:54am (UTC -6)
I just want to second Jammer's comments on Garak, and Andrew Robinson in particular. I don't know whether it's Robinson's talent, Garak's character development, good writing, Cardassian complexities, or all of the above. But for me there is little doubt that Garak is the best developed, most mysterious, and most fascinating individual character in the whole series. Gul Dukat and Damarr are great too (Cardassians rock!), but they come behind Garak, probably because he lives among the Federation and is a former Obsidian Order operative.

When Garak stared down the Founder, I got chills. Why? Because I knew that no matter how powerful, determined, or devious she might be, Garak's indomitable treachery would somehow find a way. Sure enough, it almost did. And who can argue with his logic? Much as he deviously helped Sisko bring the Romulans into the Dominion war in "Pale Moonlight", here he is willing to cold-bloodedly sacrifice a few lives to protect the entire Alpha Quadrant. Watching this scene, I came to believe Worf might just regret his interference in the future...honor be damned.
Aaron B.
Wed, Aug 24, 2011, 9:52pm (UTC -6)
Garak may be my favorite TV character of any series. He's certainly in the top 5.

It always bugged me that people kept saying Odo was the only changeling ever to harm another, and neither Odo or anyone else tried to make the case that it was self-defense. After all, the changeling he killed was trying to sabotage the ship Odo was on, which could have gotten him killed along with everyone else. When they fought, it looked like he was trying to "harm" Odo to me. It always seemed to me that Odo got pegged with that status simply because he won and wasn't obeying the Link.
Krysek
Sun, Oct 23, 2011, 9:25pm (UTC -6)
I wish the founders would die but they've just ruined Odo's character. I knew it was coming after he killed one. I don't care about him acting human, trying to fit in. But it gave the writers more mushy soap opera material I guess.
The founders are evil hateful zealots. What do they do that's so important but lay around in a big cgi blob and wait for their spies? Unbelievablly boring so they manipulate people for fun, in the excuse they are protecting themselves. They are worse than solids.
And the Jan Hadar are just as bad but apparently can't even be nurtured out of their genetic "destiny" to be antagonistic bullies.
They should die too.
Jay
Thu, Mar 1, 2012, 3:29pm (UTC -6)
A few things. [1] That's a fairly decent medical bay the Defiant has...they must have built it since Bashir complained about the lack of such a facility on the Defiant when Sisko first arrived in it. [2] It is stated that Klingons rescinded their claim to Archanus 400 years ago, presumably to the Federation, who hold it now. But that would be 1972, long before the Federation existed. [3] It's rather presumptuous of Sisko to declare that he and Bashir are accompanying Odo and the Founder to the surface...who was to say the atmosphere would be breathable to them? And what a convenient island.
Jasper
Mon, Jun 18, 2012, 5:23am (UTC -6)
@Jay

[2] Is it such a stretch to say that the Klingons gave up the system before it ended up under Federation control? Perhaps they gave it up to some race that is now a part of the Federation...

[3]With the advanced technologies we have seen and see the Founders using (great feat of changing someone's race to mention just one thing) I don't really think changing the air to be breathable or creating an island aren't beyond their capabilities (heck, that island may even have been a changeling for that matter). Still, Sisko's request (demand?) was pretentious, though it was 100% in character and the founders have also shown to be accommodating in such matters, so their response isn't out of character either.
Ian
Mon, Jul 23, 2012, 11:55pm (UTC -6)
It is unfortunate that they never pursuded the relationship between Odo and that Bajoran woman they inted at.
Also, Garak was right and Worf wrong as it turned out. Sacrificing the crew to save the Alpha quarant was actually quite logical, if you pardon the expression.
It seemed that the "bad," guys had all the common sense in the show.
William
Tue, Oct 30, 2012, 10:51pm (UTC -6)
To Ian -- I'm sure the people of Betazed and some of the other Federation worlds would come to agree with you in a couple of years!

As for the ending, I loved it. It explains the behavior of the Klingons in Season 4 and leaves open so many possibilities for Season 5.
SuicidalZerg
Thu, Nov 1, 2012, 8:29pm (UTC -6)
Jay, as for the Klingons reliquishing Archanis, Kira's speech isn't exactly clear on that, but if you listen more closely, you'll hear that she says "I don't get it. The Klingons reliquished their claim to Archanis IV a hundred years ago.", not "Archanis 400 years ago"
Jay
Sun, Sep 1, 2013, 12:54pm (UTC -6)
@ SuicidalZerg

After reading your post I listened closely and you're right, that's what Kira seems to say...
Niall
Thu, Sep 12, 2013, 4:19pm (UTC -6)
Saw this today for the first time since the 90s. It's a good character show, it stands up. Odo's ability to change his mass and the Link's ability to turn him into a biological human are obviously basically magic though. Also, I thought Odo's promenade walk was unnecessary (and very stagy and inauthentic in execution) - why should he fight to retain his form at all, why not just revert to liquid until he can be treated? They could have carried him out in a bucket without anyone noticing. Also, as Aaron points out, had the changeling in The Adversary succeeded, it would have killed Odo, so there is that hypocrisy/inconsistency.

They may claim to care about his welfare, but the Founders really show how much disregard they have for Odo in this episode - they infect him with an illness to ensure he returns to the Link for judgment and punishment for his entirely justified actions in The Adversary, turn him into a human, and even instrumentalise him by deliberately implanting him with the false idea that Gowron is a changeling. How can you so desperately want to return home to people prepared to treat you like that?

Garak and the Female Changeling great as usual.
Kotas
Wed, Oct 23, 2013, 6:38pm (UTC -6)

Another solid season finale. Garak is a great character.

7/10
eastwest101
Sun, Nov 10, 2013, 12:00am (UTC -6)
As I work my way through the series for the first time I find that I agree with Jammers review in this case - seems like the writers have taken some risks and hopefully it will pay off in the future.
Dusty
Sun, Feb 23, 2014, 7:01am (UTC -6)
Wow. Why couldn't THAT Bajoran woman have been a recurring character? I found her much more appealing than Leeta. :)

This one sucked me in from the very beginning. Odo's problem is well depicted and well acted. The early scene with Sisko, Kira, Dax and Worf is a thing of beauty, both funny and relevant to the events of the episode. Quark and Garak both show that they care, despite having their own motives. The 'female' Changeling is fascinating; like Odo, s/he only approximates a human form, and Sisko even refers to her as 'he' at one point. Garak once again shows that he can't be completely trusted; I was glad when Worf took him down.

The Dominion has a face and a voice, but is no less mysterious. Appropriately the show ends with a hard-hitting revelation about Gowron. Is Odo right? Is the Dominion using the Klingons as pawns against the Federation? We had to wait till Season 5 to find out. Excellent cliffhanger.
Vylora
Tue, Feb 25, 2014, 6:03pm (UTC -6)
Solid ending to easily one of the best and most consistent seasons of Star Trek. Review was spot on, Jammer.

Quick asides: I didn't like the promenade scene, either. Not for logistical reasons pertaining to the plot. They couldn't use the transporter and simply reverting back to liquid state would have worsened his condition. I understand that. It just seemed out of place that those people would all be everything short of standing at attention while gawking. It just seemed unnatural somehow and not well executed.

The Garak/Worf scene on the Defiant was fantastically written and very true to their characters. If Garak had succeeded in accessing the weapons and his targeting was off or they were attacked too quickly by itchy trigger-fingered Jem'Hadar; things could be very unfortunate in its potential comeuppance. Very huge risk. But I can fathom Garak taking it. Especially following the short yet frigid responses from the female shapeshifter in an earlier scene.

Having chosen Garak to keep Odo company was also inspired and would have liked to see more dialogue here.

Poor Kira with her pregnancy-induced sneezing issues was very amusingly done and a highlight of the lighter aspects of this episode. That and Garak trying to set up a date for Odo. One of the great aspects of this show is how well of an oiled-machine the ensemble is concerning both regular and semi-regular cast. The writing has its part, definitely, but the chemistry is just here.

I agree there's a bit of filler here that could have been exchanged for more of the main plot but it was good filler. The great stuff here, for me, pushes it to near classic status. Unfortunately the episode almost seems held back in a way overall. I can't really put my finger on it and maybe it's just me.

3 stars sounds right.
robbie
Fri, Mar 7, 2014, 10:18pm (UTC -6)
Jammer, I have to say, I have started watching DS9 after growing up with TNG and DS9. At first, the idea of a continuing show bugged me, but I am really enjoying it. I love that is it so easy to watch online now -- I first saw the show when I was 12 but only saw "The Emissary" and "Way of the Warrior" as they were on VHS!

But your reviews are always good to read after watching a new episode. Thanks for posting them all.
zzybaloobah
Fri, Aug 1, 2014, 12:14am (UTC -6)
I'm re-watching the whole series, and I REALLY LOVE THIS EPISODE -- much more so than I remember from earlier viewing.
I don't think of it as a cliffhanger with some character development and padding -- it's all character driven.
* Garak trying to set up Odo on a date (too bad that never went anywhere...)
* Quark's concern -- which he could only show via bluster -- was spot on and almost touching.
* Garak's barely hidden concern for Enabrain Tain
* Garak's sparring with Odo on the Defiant
* the interchange between changeling and Odo
* The scene between changeling and Garak was downright creepy and brilliantly acted by both. And if there was ever justification for pre-emptive genocide....
* the Garak - Worf scene. Now, if only Eddington were still security chief....
* changeling society's way of dealing with their rebel

4 stars. A new "Top 10" episode, maybe Top 5 (but won't beat out Duet or ITPM)
Yanks
Fri, Aug 1, 2014, 9:09am (UTC -6)
Well, this episode is a good one but not a great one.

Of course, Odo is center stage here which normally is good, but I'm not sure why he struggled to maintain his shape when it was so stressful. Damn, just pour yourself into a bucket and let Sisko & company find the Founders.

Quark's little "nod" to Odo was expected.

His walk down the promenade was pointless. I saw it coming when Bashir said that medical was ready but it'll take a little while to get Odo on board.

But.... Odo insisting he will be judged is a big feather in the cap for the character. I would have not expected anything less from Odo and probably would have just dismissed the character all together had he copped out of it somehow.

Very interesting the exchange between Garak and the lead Founder.

"FOUNDER: They're dead. You're dead, Cardassia is dead. Your people were doomed the moment they attacked us. I believe that answers your question." Damn, how’s that for a direct answer to someone who is never direct?

Then you can see the wheels turning in Garak's head...

"GARAK: It was a pleasure meeting you."

I just knew something was coming... and it's hard to argue with his reasoning here either. BUT... I'm sure the Founders had anticipated something like that...

But a note on the Founder's wanting the Cardassians dead.

#1. What about the Romulans?
#2. I don't believe the Jem'Hadar have attacked Cardassia, have they? I know they like to influence rather than act directly, but the Jem'Hadar are expendable and quickly replaceable, the Klingons have already taken a huge bite out of the Cardassians... seems they could finish them off pretty easily.

I don't think we can assume that if the changeling that Odo killed was successful - that meant as an absolute that Odo would have been killed. Remember Odo was spared when Tain & company attacked the Founder's home world. They seem to take into account contingencies like that.

I never thought that Odo's change to a solid was permanent.

It's interesting that the Founders used Odo to further their agenda, letting him believe Gowron was a changeling.

Another season ender that has Odo making a statement about the Founders. Ho-hum…

2.5 for me. Just average.

weiss
Tue, Aug 12, 2014, 11:36pm (UTC -6)
Realized the founder was lying or wrong on all accounts... tain was alibe, garak survived, and cardassia.
DVMX
Wed, Apr 8, 2015, 9:54pm (UTC -6)
Odo's facial appearance is something akin to, I guess, genetic memory. All Founders in their "default" humanoid form look similar, facially, to Odo. Or rather he looks similar to them. He *thinks* its a limitation, but its not. I think its more of a mental block that the show never explored, but all Founders have the ability to mimic another humanoid perfectly ("Heart of Stone", "Apocalypse Rising"). Odo either can't or won't. But make no mistake it is some sort of mental block, as evidenced by the older Odo in "Children of Time".

As for the "magic" of making Odo "human". Its not magic, its remote genetic configuration. Bigpale above said, "The hundred have a kind of homing beacon built into their DNA which draws them to the founders homeworld, where ever it may be. Odo went to the Omarian Nebula because that's where they were." Agreed. But I think the beacon works both ways. And it was essentially used to FREEZE Odo into a configuration that closely approximates that of a human. It simultaneously severs him from the Link and makes him effectively for all intents and purposes, human. Since it severs him from the Link, it cannot be undone remotely by the Link, hence the events of "The Begotten".

At least that's how I saw it. Regular Founders (i.e. not Odo) can already change their body type to mimic that of a humanoid both inside and out, that is why they were so hard to detect when in those forms. Odo can't/won't (mental block(?)) so they simply did it FOR him and then broke the lever so to speak so he can't change back. Plus kept his Founder face as a sort of reminder of what he lost.
MsV
Sat, Jul 4, 2015, 5:13am (UTC -6)
I had the hardest time trying to figure out when did Odo infect the founders in the Great link. I was here, This is the only time Odo was anywhere near them. I had thought it was in Season 6 during the war, but the female changeling couldn't get back to the Gamma Quadrant.

I really liked Odo in this one, he was just as loyal to the Defiant crew as they were to him, Odo looked really scared right before he entered the link.
William B
Wed, Dec 9, 2015, 3:04pm (UTC -6)
There is a nice urgency to this episode even from the beginning; while it can read a tiny bit contrived, as if Gowron knows this is a season finale so he'd better step up his game, it still sets the tone pretty well. Season four is a bit of an odd year in that it does feel like things are nearly standing still while people wait for everything to fall apart; the big events in "The Adversary" and "The Way of the Warrior" have affected everybody's lives in ways big and small, but in a lot of respects people are just waiting for the next thing. This episode's sense of urgency from the geopolitical situation intensifies what Odo is going through, and connects the very large and very small.

I like, too, how the episode takes the time to show us/update us on Odo's relationships with other people on the station before he goes off to face what may be his death; Garak and Odo remain some weird kind of friends, with Garak setting Odo up with a woman as a way of perhaps helping Odo deal with his loneliness while Garak struggles with his own, Worf and Dax debate on their opposite views on whether Odo's isolationism is a front or his true feelings, Dr. Mora's offscreen concern is mentioned, Kira brings in a criminal activity report (hearkening back to "Crossfire") and Odo still kind of gives her the cold shoulder personally even as he's obviously delighted by her gift; Odo and Quark have one of their usual touching reconciliation moments. I agree with commenters who suggested that Odo's walk to the Defiant was overwrought and silly; in general, I have no idea why no one brought some kind of bucket or pail for Odo to sink into, or at least suggest the idea (maybe Odo thought it would be undignified, but seriously). For a person who largely feels disconnected from those around him, this episode helps underline the connections Odo has made even before the Defiant crew takes big risks to get him to the people who can help him.

I do think it seems likely that Weyoun poisoned Odo in "To the Death," as a commenter suggested. The genuine caring that the main cast show for Odo in various ways of course contrast with the way His People treat him. The "no changeling has ever harmed another" line which they repeat and repeat really does seem much more propaganda than reality, considering that their definition of "harm" conveniently excludes everything that they have done to Odo (and presumably other changelings they sent out into the galaxy), beginning with sending them out to have lonely existences among solids who are so *presumptively evil and xenophobic* according to the Founders that most of those baby changelings would likely die out there, installing "homing beacons" to force them back so that he feels an intense desire to be near his people and then denying him access to the Link when he actually gets there, torturing his friends, playing elaborate mindgames ("Heart of Stone") as a way of extracting information from him,

I suspect (and I think there are elements of confirmation for this later) that the Link itself is so powerful and so reassuring that the Founders develop a kind of impenetrable groupthink, reinforced intensely by their creation of an entire Dominion of puppet races who literally worship them and give them their required narcissistic supply and dispatching violence or biological weaponry on anyone who crosses them. I don't think that the "problem" is some kind of genetic evil or anything, but a people who genuinely have become so powerful that they are unused to even considering the possibility that their way is not the only way. There is something about the Female Shapeshifter's pious superiority that makes her particularly great as a foil for Odo, who could barely handle Dr. Mora's imperfect sometimes-disapproving-father bit.

In any case, Odo agreeing, in the end, to judgment works for me. It really is wryly funny that Odo imagines that he has some left-over concept of justice from his people ("Necessary Evil"), then his people turn out to be totalitarian maniacs and then *Odo* becomes their ultimate criminal. Sisko correctly asks if Odo is really going to get justice from his people, but I think it's an open question whether "justice" is actually what Odo has meted out over the years, either (though obviously Odo's weaknesses and rigidity are nothing compared to the Founders'), but Odo knows he needs to face judgment to maintain his self-respect. The episode reminded us of Odo's glee at stopping crimes and taking names earlier with the smugglers he interrupted, and it's neat that the Founders' infection of him stops him in his tracks; he cannot be a lawman again until he resolves his identity as criminal.

The final punishment, with the Founder leader ironically intoning that he got what he has wanted, is appropriately cruel but with some sort of hope; Odo maybe *could* find something worthwhile in life as a human (well, probably he should have been Bajoran, but maybe the Founders needed to make some observations to get the biology right, and they have a Defiant full of mostly humans), as the episode's end suggests, even if the Founders deliberately keep his face frozen to remind him that he will never truly be one of the humans even as he now can no longer be one of the Founders.

I guess the biggest other note here is about Garak. I like the structure here, where Garak's dangerous past is played for comedy as he is a wry entertainer of Odo, only to turn things around at the last moment and reveal that this is still a *very* dangerous guy. Or, would be if Worf hadn't stopped him I guess. Garak's talk with the Female Shapeshifter was appropriately chilling on both sides -- Garak's actual pained reaction covered up quickly by a wry smile that signals that he has (at least internally) figured out his next step is perfect. I do think that the attempted mass-murder-suicide is something that Garak would do to save the Alpha Quadrant, with the important caveat that, as we saw in "Improbable Cause"/"The Die is Cast," Garak is actually much less pragmatic and more irrational than he seems; Garak's maintenance of the cover of professionalism obscures the fact that he's basically barely holding himself together and makes bold, extreme decisions on the spur of the moment when given the opportunity. Tain is one of Garak's weakest points, and while I do believe that Garak believes that killing the Founders will help the AQ in the long run, Garak is also intensely shaken not just by the idea that Tain is definitely dead -- which he probably could have suspected anyway -- but broadly that all of Cardassia is now dead, because of Tain's foolhardy preemptive strike, which Garak signed on for. The attempted destruction of the Founders' homeworld actually represents Garak trying to enact Tain's plan all over again and willing to die for it, perhaps since he and all of Cardassia are on the hook for Tain's attack anyway.

But, you know, the whole thing does come off as bizarre within the larger context of the episode. It's hard to believe that the Founders, who had taken over the Defiant's controls and are extremely paranoid about attacks from solids, would allow the Defiant's quantum torpedoes to remain armed near their planet anyway. And for Garak to get off with, ahem, six months in a holding cell is pretty ridiculous, when you consider that Kasidy got more than that for smuggling medical supplies and Sisko declares a personal vendetta against Eddington for stealing replicators. Depending on how much life the Founders' homeworld represents (how many is the Link anyway?) the utilitarian case for Garak's actions may be made -- maybe the loss of life from the deaths of the Founders really would be less horrifying than the results of the war which happens later on, but we're talking about killing an entire species here, and the decision being carried out by one guy. Sympathize with Garak, hate him, think he's a hero, think that he's more of an emotional wreck than he seems, think it's justified by the Founder's words, think whatever, but the sheer magnitude of what Garak almost did cannot really be just swept in as an aside in an unrelated plot, with a slap-on-the-wrist sentence.

To be clear, my issue is not that I think Garak needed to be punished more -- I don't even really know how to start to evaluate what Garak "deserves" for this. But either cut the attempted genocide/mass murder-suicide or address it; either eliminate this part of the story, or engage with Garak's arguments and demonstrate how Garak's mass-death plan changes how people view him. For contrast, Garak *did* sign on to work for Tain during Tain's genocidal assault back in "IC/TDIC" and then tortured Odo!, and the two-parter ended with Garak and Odo improbably being friends. And that worked, because things *happened*, Garak and Odo had conversations and connected and hurt and helped each other and the whole of what happened made their final positions make sense. There is none of that here, and it's IMO damaging to the show and to Garak's character story (though he's still my favourite character in the show).

Overall, it's a pretty good hour and I'd give it a low 3 stars.

Diamond Dave
Mon, Jan 4, 2016, 1:43pm (UTC -6)
A somewhat disappointing conclusion that can be summed up quickly - Odo is turned human by the Founders - and is more interesting in what it presages than in what it actually shows. There's a whole bunch of really nice character interaction as people sit around gassing. It's enjoyable but it really is little more than fluff, and suggests we were a bit story light here.

As so often happens Garak rescues things somewhat - even though he's purely on the Defiant as a plot contrivance his reaction to the "They're dead. You're dead. Cardassia's dead" is great and his subsequent attempt to wipe out the Founders seems fully in keeping. And there's a good concluding moment with the shock Gowron reveal. But this is a decidedly average effort. 2.5 stars.
Luke
Sat, Apr 23, 2016, 9:04pm (UTC -6)
You know, after starting out with such a gargantuanly explosive bang, Season Four sure ends on something of a whimper, doesn't it? Not that I'm complaining. "Broken Link" does the job it sets out to do and does it fairly admirably well.

As a character piece for Odo, it works surprisingly well. All of his interactions with the other characters (even the one with Quark) feel genuine and fully in keeping with not just his character but everyone else's as well. And, of course, there's the wonderfully evocative shot of Odo, now in Human form, stretching his arm out to the Female Changeling - very reminiscent of Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam" from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. I'm giving the episode a full bonus point for that shot alone. And, naturally, there's Garak. I love Garak's actions here. Once he is confronted with a serious threat against Cardassia he is willing to do whatever it takes to save them, even to the extreme of sacrificing himself and committing genocide. This is what's so great about the character, he presents himself as an intelligent, amiable guy, he gets you to begin to let your guard down around him and then BOOM - he does something like this, reminding the audience that he is actually a ruthless lone agent. He may be on the side of good most of the time, but he'd gladly kill all the "good guys" without a second thought if he thought it was in Cardassia's best interests. So multi-faceted!

However, Jammer really hit the nail in the head with the main problem of the episode. Looking back with hindsight, we all know that Odo's transformation into a Solid isn't going to last long. In fact, he'll be back to his usual shape-shifting self within twelve episodes (less than half-way through Season Five). So, I also have to ask - what was the point? Maybe if they had actually done something with this concept, (even in those upcoming twelve episodes) it wouldn't be so bad. Sadly, however, it hurts this episode, as so much of "Broken Link's" drama depends on a plot element that is, essentially, meaningless. The episode loses a point over it. Given that the episode, like most season finales for this show, really plays up the promise of things to come (with the Klingons and with Odo), it's even more unforgivable.

7/10
Quarkissnyder
Wed, Jun 8, 2016, 11:05am (UTC -6)
I loved Garak and thought the Odo stuff was pretty good.

My quibbles:

"Oh no, we're about to enter into an unavoidable war with the Klingons." "Oh well, it's far away." Fade to laughing at Kira sneezing. Really?

It occurs to me that Odo is probably not that good at catching smugglers -- otherwise why would they keep using DS9 as a stop? Sure, he catches a bunch, but how many more get away?

As said above, if Odo is sick he should revert to his liquid state as opposed to expending energy holding his form.

Is there no tv in sick bay? The poor man is just supposed to lie there without even a blanket with absolutely nothing to do?

Are there no wheelchairs in sick bay? If Odo gets worse every time he moves, shouldn't he be using one to get to the ship? If he doesn't want to be stared at he can turn himself into a moldy blanket or something.

Sisko and Bashir beam down to the planet for what might be days. Without food, water, or anything to do.
Skywalker
Tue, Jul 5, 2016, 1:42am (UTC -6)
Two questions, in order of importance:

1) Did Odo ever get with that pretty Bajoran shop owner who was throwing herself at him?

2) Did Section 31 infect Odo before this (on Earth in "Home Front"), and the Dominion additionally infect him with a different disease in order to get him back to the Link?
Peter G.
Tue, Jul 5, 2016, 9:41am (UTC -6)
@ Skywalker,

1) No
2) Yes
Luka
Tue, Aug 2, 2016, 7:37pm (UTC -6)
"You fight well... for a tailor."
Odyssey47
Mon, Sep 5, 2016, 2:58pm (UTC -6)
I always wondered how the founders knew that Odo killed the changeling in The Adversary.
Robert
Tue, Sep 6, 2016, 9:34am (UTC -6)
@Odyssey47 - "I always wondered how the founders knew that Odo killed the changeling in The Adversary. "

That's easy. There's at least one other high ranking changeling in the entire Federation and that person read Odo's report. I doubt Odo's killing of the changeling was a huge secret, and if it wasn't then anyone with a certain security clearance can be aware of it. And especially since a changeling was pretending to be an admiral I'm guessing a whole lot of people because aware of this incident.
dave
Wed, Sep 21, 2016, 11:58pm (UTC -6)
Skywalker


Odo was literally infected twice!

Once by Section 31 during his visit to earth' with hopes he would transmit it to the founders

Second, the founders via Weyoun did it to get him back for judgement.

When he went to be judged, he infected them with the Section 31 virus!

Both sides are evil to do this to an individual being. I love the complexities of DS9

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