Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Crossfire"

***

Air date: 1/29/1996
Written by Rene Echevarria
Directed by Les Landau

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"People see you as the guy who always gets his man. Now you're becoming the guy who tears up his quarters and sits alone in the rubble. And no one is going to want to place bets on how long someone's going to sit around in the dark." — Quark to Odo

Nutshell: Not riveting, but quiet and sincerely performed. Some particularly good dialog between Odo and Quark stands out.

Well, it's been almost exactly one year since we last saw this thread. I'm referring of course to the buried feelings of love Odo has for Kira, which seemed to climax in the so-so episode "Heart of Stone," before that episode revealed in its closing scenes that the entire show was, in essence, a Dominion trick on its outcast shapeshifter.

And finally the creators have decided to return to it and deal with it—once and for all. While, admittedly, seeing whether or not two members of its cast are going to pair up is one of the last reasons I watch DS9, "Crossfire" deals with the material effectively and plausibly, and without getting too trite in the process. This is a very, very simple episode. There's not much plot here to occupy your brain, but that's not the episode's purpose. What is "Crossfire"? (Well, besides an episode with a somewhat misleading title that sounds like an action/adventure outing?) "Crossfire" is, in a word, "pleasant."

The show was written by Rene Echevarria, who worked with Ron Moore in writing this season's other love story, "Rejoined." And while this story is not as captivating as "Rejoined" was, it does have some great character moments and well-written dialogue scenes.

The plot (what little of it there is) surrounds around the arrival of First Minister Shakaar (Duncan Regehr)—Kira's close friend and leader of the resistance cell from the occupation days, established in last season's episode, "Shakaar." He has come to the station to negotiate with Federation representatives regarding Bajor's entrance into the Federation. But with rumors of an assassin on board, Odo and his staff become the secret service, making sure everywhere Shakaar moves about the station is clear of danger. While on the station, Shakaar begins spending time with Kira, which begins to really get to Odo; he suddenly has to return to facing the reality that he's in love with Kira, and can't bear to see her with someone else.

It doesn't sound like much, but "Crossfire" is a very well-executed character story that takes a rare glimpse at the softer side of the usually curmudgeon-like Odo. Virtually all the credit goes to the performance of Rene Auberjonois, who does a wonderful job of looking distracted, confused, and anguished over his rather unwelcome situation. There are a few standout moments in "Crossfire" where we can, for one brief second, understand that Odo does have the capacity for a full range of humanoid emotions. It's the discretion of those emotions that disappears here.

Take the scene where Shakaar reveals to Odo his feelings for Kira. Kira isn't even aware that she's caught Shakaar's eye, thus Shakaar doesn't know if the possibility exists that they could get together. So he talks to Odo about it, which puts the shapeshifter in a rather uncomfortable position. Odo stays in character; revealing nothing to Shakaar that indicates his feelings, yet the audience can see Odo's pain as clear as day.

"Crossfire's" best scene, however, is not anything that includes Odo talking to Shakaar or even to Kira. The creators wisely fall back on the always-reliable camaraderie-in-code between Odo and Quark. After Odo destroys his quarters in rage over his situation, Quark gives him some advice on his troubles. Yet, Echevarria keeps Quark plausibly in character by disguising his concern for Odo's feelings behind the usual seemingly self-serving priority of his own profits. (And I like the "manhunt pool" angle. It seems...appropriate.) Quark hasn't seemed as sincere as he does in this scene in a very long time. This is the Quark we saw in the earlier seasons, and the Quark I want back.

"Crossfire" is a welcome rarity in that it features a character story without a forced action or jeopardy premise. For once, the writers don't throw us the typical ending. The conclusion, surprisingly enough, does not hang on the would-be assassin being foiled at the last second; all of that, rather, is resolved by the fourth act. Even the show's one moment of jeopardy—the falling elevator bit—is more of a character issue since it deals with the fact that Odo's distraction causes him to make mistakes in his job. This shows faith in the characters' ability to get us through the show on their own. Kudos to Echevarria.

On the other hand, I would have liked a little more discussion concerning why Shakaar is on DS9, other than to fall in love with Kira. His visit concerns Bajor's entrance into the Federation, which is not a lightweight subject by any means. It's one of the fundamental goals of the series—or at least used to be. Limiting the topic in this episode to, seemingly, throwaway lines is a mistake—probably the only really glaring flaw in this episode. I like the fact the creators still acknowledge this aspect of the series, but considering how rarely we see it nowadays, I would have hoped that one of those few times would be a little bit more substantial than this.

But I suppose I shouldn't complain. This is intended as a character outing, not a political development—and on its intentions it delivers. Still, I'll have to admit one thing about this thread. Quark has a fitting line: "I don't care if you and Kira end up living happily ever after or not; I just want to see the situation resolved." I must say that I feel the same way, because topics like this that encompass entire A-stories should be few and far between on DS9. "Crossfire" resolves this thread, and with some dignity.

Previous episode: Paradise Lost
Next episode: Return to Grace

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35 comments on this review

Jayson
Mon, Jun 29, 2009, 10:57pm (UTC -6)
Jammer, I got the feeling the reason the reason for Shakaar visit wasn't a big deal in the grand scheme of things in DS9 was because it was just "another" meeting. I think are supposed to assume that the process for Bajors admitance to The Federation entails a seemingly endless string of meetings and negotiations. Though it would have been nice to elaborate on this. Anyway I really enjoyed this episode, a painful tale of unrequited love.
Destructor
Sun, Jul 19, 2009, 7:39pm (UTC -6)
I hated this one on it's original airing, but rewatching it recently with my partner we both really appreciated it for it's subtlety and charm.
Larrylongballs
Thu, Nov 19, 2009, 8:33am (UTC -6)
There is only so much that they can do in 43 minutes. Besides this, it was Odo's story and the negotiations had nothing to do with him. This was one of the rare DS9 non action episodes without a B story of another character. I also think Shakaars scene with Odo was Auberjonois finest acting moment in the series.

Firestone
Mon, Dec 21, 2009, 4:43am (UTC -6)
Maybe I'm a sucker for romance, but I really found this episode to be both good and heartbreaking. You don't always need a complicated plot or quote-worthy dialogue. Seeing Odo going through all that made me feel almost like watching Visitor. Especially the scene with Shakaar and where Odo 'asks' Quark if he was concerned as a friend after which we get a firm negation. You could really feel his pain. Kudo's to Auberjonois for accomplishing all this under that make-up.
Nebula Nox
Wed, Jun 6, 2012, 2:13pm (UTC -6)
You can tell that Kira is already pregnant in this episode...
Jake
Fri, Jun 8, 2012, 8:53am (UTC -6)
While I'm happy Odo thanked Quark for telling him to snap the hell out of it, why doesn't he also thank Worf for saving his shapeshifting ass when he catches Shakaar's would-be killer while Odo's too busy moping about Kira?
Lt. Fitz
Wed, Jun 27, 2012, 9:02am (UTC -6)
The elevator scene really bugged me. How tall are those elevator shafts?! I felt like they had already traveled the height of the entire station BEFORE they started falling! Also, when did Odo get super strength? In any difficult situation in the past, Odo never showed any signs of being able to just push through metal walls. I remember when Kira was being engulfed in some form of crystal, he never even tried to morph into something like a pick and just break the crystal up. I figured that he didn't really have any strength, or just enough to replicate the solidity of lighter materials like bone. Suddenly, he can form steel hammers and apply tremendous amounts of pressure? That scene just seemed so over the top.

Other than that, I was really moved by Odo's troubles. I once had to watch another man win the heart of a girl I longed for. I got her in the end anyway. :)
Cail Corishev
Mon, Sep 17, 2012, 8:14pm (UTC -6)
Standing guard outside your crush's door while she spends the night with another guy is a pretty harsh cure for one-itis, but whatever works.
Chris
Thu, May 16, 2013, 8:43am (UTC -6)
Odo's love for Kira is a comment on the phenomenon of love itself. Odo is a being who doesn't succumb to primitive humanoid emotions. He isn't interested in the day-to-day 'petty' lives of solids. But his feelings for Kira transcend all that. His love is a noble endeavour that goes far beyond a mere emotion.

I also think it's telling that the only person on the station that can see past Odo's impassive facade and see the deep longing and pain in his eyes - is Quark.

Four stars.
Paul
Thu, May 16, 2013, 10:56am (UTC -6)
@Chris: Um, no.

I'm a fan of the Odo/Kira pairing. But I don't like this episode at all. It's trite and has far too many plotholes/illogical points.

DS9 was probably the Trek that came closest to being a soap opera. That's usually OK, but this episode is just too far over the top.
Paul M.
Mon, Jul 8, 2013, 7:11am (UTC -6)
What is the definition of soap opera, if I may ask?
Josh
Mon, Jul 8, 2013, 10:22am (UTC -6)
Apparently it pertains to any show in which characters display emotions or complex relationships. DS9 is pretty far from being a "primetime soap". Current examples of such include Grey's Anatomy. Character-driven drama != soap opera, but then that rebuttal would put a kibosh on Paul's anti-DS9 spamming.
T'Paul
Wed, Jul 10, 2013, 2:06pm (UTC -6)
My favourite part here was the Odo-Worf dialogue about rooms and people dropping in "perhaps if I am more--- inhospitable, he will stop."

They're a good pairing those two, a far more interesting bromance than the Kira-Odo story!
Corey
Thu, Oct 10, 2013, 5:32pm (UTC -6)
This one was a great, slow burning masterpiece.
Kotas
Wed, Oct 23, 2013, 1:01pm (UTC -6)

So-so Kira and Odo ep.

5/10
Dusty
Sat, Feb 15, 2014, 9:45pm (UTC -6)
An authentic and moving character piece. Love has rarely been conveyed more eloquently on Star Trek. Kira is a little too one-dimensional and Shakaar's visit a little too convenient, but this is an Odo episode without a doubt, and Auberjonois gives a deeply touching performance. In an episode full of good scenes, none was better than the talk between Odo and Quark at the end. Rene deliberately left a few strands of his hair out of place in that part. Not only does it illustrate angst in the typically spotless and unflappable character, in the DS9 Companion he notes, "I was trying to evoke an image from a Japanese print I'd seen of a warrior in defeat."
Vylora
Mon, Feb 24, 2014, 2:16am (UTC -6)
This is a fantastic episode on every level. It is a credit to the writing team and the acting to show how romance can work well in Star Trek - a medium where it seems to falter more often than not. While "Rejoined" was more of a bottle episode and this is more part of an ongoing character arc, I feel they stand toe to toe in their respective qualities. And I'm not even a huge fan of romantic stories in general.

3.5 stars
Alex
Sun, Mar 16, 2014, 9:01pm (UTC -6)
This was a great episode highlighted by Rene's performance. Personally I've never been in a situation like this but I felt every bit of pain Odo was experiencing. His talk with Quark is definitely one of the DS9's best moments.

3.5 stars

And TBH, this should have been the end of the whole ODO/Kira love fest.
Yanks
Wed, Aug 6, 2014, 10:25am (UTC -6)
I enjoyed this one.

Loved Odo's belt.

Loved these exchange: (lol)
"KIRA: It's just Quark's luck that you would be assigned quarters right above his.
ODO: Luck had nothing to do with it."

"QUARK: I heard some noise, and when I went to complain, I found a work crew installing soundproofing in the floor. I have to say, Odo, I'm touched that you would do something like that for me.
ODO: I'm having the floor reinforced. The fact that they're soundproofing it as well is incidental. If you think I'd put up with three days of construction for your sake, think again."

Nothing epic here, but enjoyable. You really feel for Odo when Shakaar reveals his feelings for Kira.

2.5 stars for me.
MsV
Thu, Feb 12, 2015, 6:40am (UTC -6)
I am all go for an Odo/Kira romance, I couldn't understand how she could be interested romantically with Shakaar. I can't see the chemistry there. He is handsome, but kinda boring.
Spooky McGee
Fri, Oct 16, 2015, 11:30pm (UTC -6)
For some reason, the most touching part was when Odo took great strides to prepare for the security briefing with Kira. He placed the cup just so, then acted non-chalant when she walked in. Sometimes the things people do for us when we are not looking, mean the most.

Obviously the friendship with Quark and Odo's loose hair were telling parts of the character story. The character development, at the end of the day, is why DS9 is my favorite.

This episode has stuck with me through the years. 4 stars.
William B
Tue, Nov 10, 2015, 12:27pm (UTC -6)
I like this episode; I have been mulling over whether I think it's a 2.5 or a 3 star show. I think that the Odo story is compellingly and touchingly realized, with a great performance by Rene. His scenes with Worf and Quark are highlights; the conversation between Odo and Worf about methods to keep people from visiting is probably my favourite scene in the episode, especially Worf's insistent "OF COURSE NOT! THEN THEY WOULD VISIT MORE!" And the Odo/Quark scenes are effective. My big problem with the episode, which largely holds it back, is that Kira is, to be honest, mostly a prop. That this episode throws in "Bajor timetable for Federation membership" and does that only to further the Odo story does not particularly bother me, since it seems like not a particularly important step in a long process which can be dealt with elsewhere. And to some degree, I almost feel that way about Kira and Shakaar...but ultimately the series never does get down to doing much of anything with this pairing, or revealing what this significant development in Kira's life means for her. To some extent, as with the Bajor story, I would not really mind this if:

1) Kira's POV on her and Shakaar were more fully realized in later episodes; or
2) Kira's relationship with Shakaar is not *actually* that important to her.

Of the two, the latter would fit if it weren't that Shakaar is such a major figure in Kira's life, someone who kept her alive, a former workplace companion and best friend, and who in this episode Kira keeps talking about viewing as a romantic prospect as a kind of surprising, giggly revelation. I was not particularly a fan of Kira/Bareil, but there was effort to establish that relationship and some effort to establish what it meant to Kira. This one really does seem to primarily make a significant change in Kira's life, with one of the most important people to her, for the sake of making Odo sad. To go forward a tad, "Return to Grace" similarly has Kira/Shakaar interesting insofar as it provides a launching point for Dukat's creepy come-ons. (And, IIRC, "The Begotten" brings him around just to argue with O'Brien.) His absence from "The Darkness and the Light" is all the more striking, since that is the key episode which should involve him even if he and Kira weren't an item. In "Heart of Stone," Kira was a prop to Odo's story too, but it was part of the tale that she was, and the real Kira's life wasn't modified to accommodate the sad-Odo story. Here.... Kira's somewhat surprised, semi-ecstatic reaction to her and Shakaar is...plausible but seems incomplete, and is a significant enough departure from Kira's norm that I really do want/need more, which the episode does not give. The episode hits some of the same beats about Odo over and over again, and to some extent Shakaar starting to share his private thoughts about him and Nerys with Odo seems bizarre. Characters are somewhat warped in order to put Odo in the most awkward of positions.

What largely works is the idea that Odo is such an OUTSIDER! to humanoid emotions that people believe that Odo is unaffected by others' love lives, and finds it all dull. Quark immediately sees through Odo's facade, which to some extent raises the question of why others don't; if Kira is blind to it because it's inconvenient for her, and Worf is unlikely to start prying, you would think someone like Dax would have started guessing by now (considering that she likes to tease Odo, and figured out that Pel was in love with Quark in like fifteen minutes). But there is something particularly effective and tragic here; Odo's whole identity relies on him not breaking character, but the disinterested-in-humanoid-affairs persona he has developed as a way of coping with rejection and Otherness isolates him completely. Kira getting together with Bareil seems to be what first triggered his recognition of his Kira-feelings (at least, at the meta level, that did so), but I think the key development actually is his discovery that His People are dictatorial, and that if it weren't for Kira he would still mostly *not care*. Now he's trapped in the life he "chose," particularly since he is a pariah to his own people having killed them, and his need to maintain what little he has with Kira becomes all the more important, until it is too painful, and he falls back on "security, order" as his raison d'etre. The essentials indeed. That Shakaar/Kira has a similar *sort* of history to Odo/Kira is repeatedly emphasized -- old friends, work companions, but Shakaar made a move whereas Odo is presumptively disinterested in humanoid affairs.

And yes, it is great that while Odo's emotional devastation is primarily about losing Kira, the *trigger* is Worf solving the case and not Odo. If Odo had the courage to tell Kira how he felt, and to take the risk of how that would change their relationship, that would be one thing, but his security-man persona is all that he's been able to rely on consistently, even if it's barely enough to live on. Having that threatened by Worf (who let the Enterprise be taken over by Ferengi, as I believe Odo brings up promptly) is the last straw, the most frightening thing, so he works hard on rebuilding and maintaining that persona, with Quark's help.

It's an effective and touching show, though as I articulated earlier I don't really care for the Kira of it. 2.5 stars.
Diamond Dave
Fri, Jan 1, 2016, 7:55am (UTC -6)
You could kind of see the one sentence pitch for this - Odo loses the girl and then loses his shit. At this point it was an interesting non-Hollywood outcome - of course we get the Hollywood ending later but that's a story for another time. And while the performance is strong, it's difficult to feel too much sympathy for Odo when he doesn't man-up.

We do have some wonderful scenes though - the early one with Odo and Worf is something of a gruff classic, and the interaction between Quark and Odo is also a joy. 2.5 stars.
Matt
Sat, Mar 5, 2016, 12:07pm (UTC -6)
I found this episode to be very boring. Deep Space Nine seems to have a lot of these episodes that are just about "relationships" that don't have a compelling story. There should be a good story first with character development along the way, rather than a weak plot shoehorned in around 45 minutes of exploring someone's "feelings". Is this sci-film or daytime soap?

1 star
Quarkissnyder
Thu, Mar 24, 2016, 6:52am (UTC -6)
Thoughts at large:

I loved the way Odo and Kira laughed about domestic violence. (Sarcasm.)

Why is Quark only now complaining of noise from Odo's quarters? Have they moved recently?

I assumed that Shakar's assistant was the assassin. Was I supposed to, or was that just bad writing/acting?

How big is DS9 that an elevator can fall for that long?

Did it hurt Odo to stop the elevator? Did he shed pieces of himself on the wall? What happens to those pieces?

Which leads to questions about what it means to be a changeling, physically, in general. Why does Odo's face express emotions when he's alone? Does he see through his eyes? How does he hear when he's a briefcase?

What are the benefits of joining the federation? You have to give up your sovereignty -- and then some alien can decide to declare planet-wide martial law. What do you get in return? Keeping in mind that the federation is already protecting Bajor militarily, what else can it offer? Tariff protection? Bragging rights?
Quarkissnyder
Thu, Mar 24, 2016, 12:10pm (UTC -6)
Adding: I was sure that the flowers were weapons, surveillance devices, or changelings. There was one scene when a character (I don't remember who) had half his face against a huge bouquet and kept talking. Then all of the characters had flowers in their rooms. It was weird. Some kind of product placement?
Robert
Thu, Mar 24, 2016, 2:21pm (UTC -6)
"Why is Quark only now complaining of noise from Odo's quarters? Have they moved recently?"

I think so. Something about the way Kira said "It's just Quark's luck that you would be assigned quarters right above his" made me think he moves recently. Let's fanwank that the damage from the season opener caused a few sections to be shut down for repairs and when they were playing musical quarters Odo decided to mess with Quark.

"What are the benefits of joining the federation? You have to give up your sovereignty -- and then some alien can decide to declare planet-wide martial law. What do you get in return? Keeping in mind that the federation is already protecting Bajor militarily, what else can it offer? Tariff protection? Bragging rights? "

I got the impression that they were protecting them to guide them into the Federation. I assume if Bajor withdrew their application that the Federation would be out of there.
Luke
Mon, Apr 4, 2016, 5:07am (UTC -6)
I like "Crossfire" but it does have its fair share of problems. As a character piece for Odo it works and works well, thanks almost exclusively to Rene Auberjonois' performance. The scene where he talks with Shakaar about Kira is indeed a standout, as Jammer right points out. And Odo sitting in the rubble of his destroyed quarters conveys so much emotion even before Quark arrives. Having Odo's hair slightly out of place is a particularly nice touch. Since it really isn't "hair" but a piece of his body - you know what I mean - it shows that Odo is indeed losing control of himself - he can't even keep his humanoid form in check. And I've heard that that little bit was improvised by Auberjonois based on a painting he once saw of a Japanese samurai - and that is why the man is an amazing actor! Still, as a story in its own right, "Crossfire" is pretty average.

In the end it's all nothing but one giant tease. Will Odo finally reveal to Kira his true feelings? Well, of course he won't. While I give the writers credit for not going with the standard romance-of-the-week angle, everyone knew how this episode was going to end - with Odo still keeping the secret. They just have to ride the whole "will-they-won't-they" angle of the relationship to death, don't they? This is the same problem the Trip/T'Pol relationship faced over on ENT. For some reason Trek writers love to use this whole Twilight-esque romance formula when they stray from romances-of-the-week. Thank God they finally get these two together in later episodes!

But I guess I'm just a sucker for unrequited love stories, even if I'm a little disappointed with how this one was executed. That's probably because I've faced many similar situations myself in real life so my heart really goes out to Odo here. The scene of him standing outside Kira's quarters all night long just for the chance to talk to her just breaks my heart, especially when it ends with Odo learning that they had spent that entire time, well, fucking. There are also some good character moments here. And not just for Odo, but also for Kira, Quark and even Shakaar. As for Quark, this is easily the best use of his character in quite a while - I'd say since "The House of Quark". I like that he genuinely does feel for Odo and wants to help only to hide his friendliness under a veneer of self-surviving profit seeking because that's what makes Odo comfortable. These two have a wonderfully complex relationship.

6/10
Skywalker
Sun, Jun 19, 2016, 7:45pm (UTC -6)
Oh my gosh, the pure torment of Odo! Oh, haven't we all been there... Poor guy. When he enters into Kira's quarters after she has slept with Shakaar, every little thing she says is "like a dagger in me," to quote that line from Fontine in Les Miserables. Just exquisite agony! When Kira realizes later just how much she tortured Odo she is so wonderfully contrite.

And the ending. She must be thinking, "Well, that was weird. I guess Odo doesn't really want to be friends anymore." The touch with the belt was excellent. "Just sticking to the essentials, Major." Nicest way ever to say "go to hell, biatch."
Robert
Mon, Jun 20, 2016, 9:12am (UTC -6)
@Skywalker - Totally agree, I can see why this episode might not be for everyone, but as a quiet character piece about Odo's feelings it's really, really good and Rene nails it hard enough to sell this quiet little character piece.
jadziadaxmd
Sun, Aug 21, 2016, 7:28am (UTC -6)
I liked this episode. In addition to everything said above, I enjoyed the Odo/Worf exchange about how to keep your life in order and prevent people from dropping by their quarters unannounced :)
NCC-1701-Z
Tue, Oct 25, 2016, 7:32pm (UTC -6)
Man I really felt for Odo this episode - I've been in a similar situation before (nothing involving a potential assassin though, thank goodness ;) ) except I couldn't simply walk away due to extenuating circumstances.

I want to give this 4 stars, but I feel somewhat reluctant to let my personal experiences directly influence my rating. Then again, reviews / opinions of episodes are subjective by nature, based on our own biases, perspectives, points of view, stage of life, and experiences. By definition there is really no such thing as a truly "unbiased" review no matter how hard one tries - it's all perspective, and it's through interacting with different perspectives that we learn.

Ah, what the heck. 4 stars.
Robert
Wed, Oct 26, 2016, 8:54am (UTC -6)
@NCC-1701-Z : If art really connects with you, it's good art. That said, I don't think 4 stars is out of line for this episode. It's perhaps Rene's best performance on DS9... and that's saying a lot. It's hard to decide if something should be a 4 or not. Sometimes 4 feels like it should be way more amazing than this quiet character show... but Rene gives everything and then some to this performance. And Armin is excellent as well.
Peter G.
Wed, Oct 26, 2016, 11:04am (UTC -6)
"Crossfire" always leaves me feeling like it was top-notch DS9, but still it's not quite the dazzling experience of watching a "The Die is Cast" or "In the Pale Moonlight." I think it should get top marks for a 'regular' episode, and personally I'd save the 4 star rating for superlative episodes. So I guess it would be 3.5 for me.
Robert
Wed, Oct 26, 2016, 11:10am (UTC -6)
@Peter G - This discussion ends up a lot like Gymnastics scores. In the old system you could get a perfect 10 for doing a lesser difficulty routine perfectly, in the new system you multiply difficulty by perfection. So if you're doing a 17 point routine but lose a point for flaws you still beat the person doing the 15 point routine perfectly.

This episode gets full marks on execution, it's perfect to me. So the question is just... do you need to multiply by difficulty?

I have no problem giving full marks (a perfect 4) to episodes that do what they are trying to do perfectly (like this and Duet). That said, this episode doesn't do 3 flips in the air after it hits the horse, which I think is what you're getting at.

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