Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"The Begotten"

***

Air date: 1/27/1997
Written by Rene Echevarria
Directed by Jesus Salvador Trevino

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Constable, why are you talking to your beverage?" — Worf

Nutshell: Some wonderful character insights, but I have mixed feelings about some elements of the subplot and the show's big revelation. Still a very nice episode.

When Quark acquires a "baby" Changeling that has been found floating through space in a lifeless, liquid state, Odo takes it upon himself to "raise" the undeveloped shapeshifter and teach it the benefits of shapeshifting in a hope to help it communicate with and understand the outside world. Meanwhile, Major Kira gives birth to the O'Briens' child.

"The Begotten" is another strong example of a pure character show, courtesy of Rene Echevarria, perhaps the staff's finest writer when it comes to characters. There are no extraneous plot angles here; it's just good actors on some sets delving into the hearts of their characters, looking for some new answers and insights. And what else can I say? For the most part I thought it was great.

There are, however, some things about "The Begotten" of which I'm not really completely certain. One is the revelation dropped on us in the ending (more on that later); the other is the B-story involving the end of Kira's pregnancy (which I'll get out of the way now).

The B-story in "The Begotten" is for the most part an unavoidable (though amiably portrayed) set of cliches. I've been waiting a long time for Major Kira to have this kid so she can get back into the thick of the action (though "The Darkness and the Light" certainly used pregnant Kira without a worry). Part of me had hoped we would return from reruns to find that the baby had been born between shows, but, really, I doubt it's something that the creators would've been willing not to show. It's a necessity of sorts that had to be dealt with. Still, I don't think I really needed as much time and cheese devoted to it as we're treated to in this subplot. The traditional rituals of "rhythm" that Miles, Keiko, and Shakaar assist Kira in are slightly amusing in places, but they often go on for too long; and they're too tongue-in-cheek to be effective as drama, yet too pervasive to make effective comedy. The silly quarrels between Miles and Shakaar are overstated and unnecessary, and Keiko's constant scolding of these "silly men" just isn't very deep material. (I also didn't care that much for Shakaar's rather harsh line to Miles, "Next time you have a baby, leave my girlfriend out of it.")

As compensation, the inevitable birth scene (which I admit I was somewhat dreading) was about as painless as I could've imagined possible. Given that I've seen about eight or nine thousand birth scenes on television in my lifetime, I was glad to see that, being a Bajoran, Kira giving birth managed to display a welcome departure from the standard cliche we've all witnessed time and time again. The actual delivery scene was different enough that I didn't feel the need to cringe in frustration. Instead, it was rather pleasant.

But enough about the B-story. What really matters about "The Begotten" is Odo's dilemma in attempting to teach an infant, inanimate Changeling how to take a new form. What proves most significant about Odo's attempts and actions is that they compose a poignant story about him and his relationship to Dr. Mora (now a Starfleet Changeling analyst who returns to DS9 to offer his help in Odo's efforts). The young Changeling is simply a device for the characterizations. The number one rule in a character show is that it has to reveal the characters' feelings, and "The Begotten" follows this rule perfectly; the results, therefore, are stellar.

I was very pleased to see Dr. Mora again. For those who may not remember, Mora (James Sloyan, who has yet to disappoint on Trek) first appeared in second season's "The Alternate," which revealed his unique but skewed "parent"-like relationship to Odo. Where "Alternate" was held back by a lackluster plot, "Begotten" cuts right to the emotional core. A great deal of tension between these two revealed in "Alternate" is reiterated here; but the feelings are spelled out more explicitly, and the characters do not hide in their dialog.

The key to the episode is Odo's vow not to harm the young shapeshifter the way Mora "harmed" him. Odo intends to proceed differently, using his own methods. He doesn't want to force it to shape-shift by causing discomfort and exposing it to electric shocks and radiation. But, as Mora explains, the shapeshifter will have no desire to move if it doesn't have an incentive; it will simply sit content in its comfortable liquid state.

But Odo is not receptive. He resents that Mora made certain presumptions when running the tests he ran on him. Part of Odo thinks Mora simply found the idea of "playing with a shapeshifting lifeform" interesting. This rather relevant two-sided exchange leads to some well-acted and believable dialog scenes—scenes where Mora and Odo begin shouting at each other like real family members trying to resolve a troubled past. Both Sloyan and Auberjonois deliver strong, genuinely-felt performances that get to the heart of the lack of communication between them.

The beauty of the story is the way it gets into the past of these two people on such an emotionally believable level. It's not a simple matter of who's right and who's wrong. It's a matter of exploring why each feels the way he does, and the way each ultimately comes to understand each other. No, Odo doesn't really think that Mora enjoyed prodding him with gadgets and experiments. But until now, Odo had never said so. He had simply remained silent and obscured, with a bitter disposition. At the same time, Mora's words allow Odo to realize the pressures Mora was under to gain results, lest the Cardassians had taken over his project and made the situation worse for everybody.

The two eventually find a medium ground to work together. Between Odo's attempts at making a mental connection with the Changeling and Mora's use of physical equipment, the two are finally successful in getting the Changeling to form different objects, and finally, in one remarkable scene, the shapeshifter morphs toward Odo and mimics his face.

Odo's reactions to this connection are priceless, as is his enthused talk with Quark (who would've thought Odo would ever buy Quark a drink?). I don't believe I've ever seen Odo smile a genuine smile as much as he does here. The results are refreshing.

It's just too bad that after all this compelling character work that I couldn't feel as good about the ending as I did about everything else. The developments and final revelation in the last act leave me with some mixed feelings about some major Odo issues. The Changeling infant, the plot reveals, is not well. It's dying. And just minutes after Odo thought he had the chance to live vicariously as a shapeshifter through his "child," he's faced with the grim realization that it is not to be.

Now this is another tragic thing to do to Odo, and even I realized that he could not be put through another wringer like this. But I'm still not entirely happy with the sudden twist used to ease Odo's tragedy: Since the Changeling cannot live, it "integrates" itself into Odo, thus giving him back the shapeshifting abilities that the Founders took from him.

This doesn't feel dead-out wrong, by any means; but I did find it... iffy. I will definitely grant that returning Odo's powers in this story makes some plausible plot sense, and some dramatic sense. I like the notion and implications of the dying Changeling deciding to give Odo a "gift"; I like that Odo finds the entire situation difficult, confusing, and ponderous; I like the episode's closing discussion between Odo and Kira (who has her own relevant problem of wanting to hold a baby she has given birth to, but can't because it's not hers). It still, however, feels just a bit easy. It's a magical fix to a problem—Odo's newfound humanity—that I don't think was pondered quite as much as it could've been.

Some of the qualms I have involve the "big picture" of Odo becoming human in the first place. What exactly were the creators trying to say? As Quark put it in "The Ascent," since Odo was human, "Life was his for the taking." Why wasn't this further analyzed? What did Odo want, and what will he want now? Fitting into the "big picture," is this character development, regression, or stagnation? I'm not sure at this point; we'll have to see.

Again, I want to stress that this is not wrong. But I also don't think the surprise ending was necessary or even warranted to get the episode's best points across—that of Mora and Odo's relationship and the issues of their troubled past. The show's true strengths don't ride or even have a complete basis in the final outcome. The payoff could've been reworked to better fit the rest of "Begotten" and perhaps Odo's powers could've been restored in a later episode.

Most people, I'm guessing, will remember this show as "the episode where Odo gets his powers back." I, however, will remember it as the show where Odo better comes to terms with some of his feelings and relationships, as well as his own past and identity.

Previous episode: The Darkeness and the Light
Next episode: For the Uniform

◄ Season Index

47 comments on this review

Blue
Tue, Mar 17, 2009, 11:29pm (UTC -5)
I agree, by giving Odo his powers back, they kinda made his time as a solid meaningless. What did Odo or the show really gain out of it? And the magical gift by a dying changeling baby seemed waaaaaaaay out there. At the very least, shouldn't Odo be infected with the same disease?
Joan
Wed, Jul 22, 2009, 8:00pm (UTC -5)
I would bet that every woman watching this was thinking "what a crock" regarding how easily Kira gave birth. All that palaver with the incense and bells etc and not a twinge throughout the whole thing. Yeah, right. Bajorans would appear to be more or less physiologically similar to humans. Unless their anatomy 'down there' is radically different, having a baby would not be the doddle it is for Bajoran women either.

Also, if giving birth was so easy, the planet would be over-populated in a nano-second.

Wish she had given birth off-screen. I enjoyed the main storyline, but the B story was just awful.
Destructor
Mon, Aug 24, 2009, 12:30am (UTC -5)
I love this episode, a lot, just for the father-son dynamic between Odo and Mora. I'd give it 4 stars, although I agree with Jammer about Odo's 'punishment' from the Founders being a little too short lived.

My question is: Surely the Founder who had replaced Bashir at this point would have done more to keep the changeling baby alive?
J
Sun, Oct 4, 2009, 2:05pm (UTC -5)
I actually bought Kira's pregnancy not hurting her because of the line about endorphins...her body was at one point releasing so many it was poisoning her. Bajoran women *naturally* dope themselves up the wazoo to deal with the birth, but if they still aren't relaxed enough to let it happen, they "miss their chance" or can even "OD." Pretty interesting, and I don't find it too implausible (though the childish behavior of Shakaar was another matter).
Elliot Wilson
Sat, Feb 6, 2010, 2:34pm (UTC -5)

I personally didn't like Dr. Mora. It seems like all he did on the show was try to run more tests on Odo -- all he wanted was to study him again. I didn't like that. Anyone want to comment on this?

And do you, Jammer, really have to look for deeper meanings in Odo's life as a Solid? Does he really have to have a meaningful reason to become a Solid? His people punished him in a way they saw fit. It's like Freud said: "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."

Get over it. :P
Nic
Sun, Mar 7, 2010, 9:50pm (UTC -5)
Apparently, the writers thought that after half a season they would have run out of story material for Odo as a humanoid, but they later regretted changing him back so soon. Maybe in the early sixth season the Female Changeling could have changed him back as an incentive to return home?

I wish Shakaar had appeared in "Rapture" instead of this episode, it would have made the B-story less intrusive.
Jay
Sat, Feb 5, 2011, 10:02pm (UTC -5)
So was the Bashir in this episode really Bashir, or was it the changeling...two episodes later we discover that Julian has been held at a Dominion prison camp for a month. How do the stardates play out?
Nic
Mon, Oct 10, 2011, 7:21pm (UTC -5)
[SPOILER WARNING]:

Jay, yes, the real Julian Bashir was kidnapped before "Rapture" (judging by the uniform he is wearing in the Internment Camp), which means that the Bashir we see in "Rapture", "The Darkness and the Light" and "The Begotten" is his Changeling replacement.
Steve
Sat, Oct 15, 2011, 8:25pm (UTC -5)
I'm no doctor, but if the baby was ready to be born, but then Kira couldn't deliver because of outside stimuli, it's a bit irresponsible and risky to the fetus to wait as much as a few more weeks just to indulge Kira wanting to do it naturally rather than going to Bashir...the very presence of the fetus in Kira means the ship has sailed on natural.
Steve
Sat, Oct 15, 2011, 8:50pm (UTC -5)
Okay, since its chronologically clear that the Bashir in this episode is actually a changeling, nad from what we know of changelings, I find it very difficult to believe that "Bashir" would tolerate the experimentation done on this changeling. I suppose it would be concerned with keeping its cover for now, but I think at the least that "Bashir" would link with it and educate it, perhaps even cure it. That "Bashir" stood by and let it die seemed out of place too.
Matrix
Wed, Nov 2, 2011, 1:39am (UTC -5)
Bashir's new uniform was in the washing machine so he wore one of his old ones.
V
Mon, Dec 19, 2011, 2:36am (UTC -5)
@ people commenting about Bashir being changeling, NOT during this episode. If you listened to the conversation in the beginning of the episode "in purgatory's shadow" they were talking about how the baby was 1 month old. Therefore this Bashir in this episode is the REAL one. The switch didn't happen until after this episode.
Justin
Wed, Mar 28, 2012, 12:46pm (UTC -5)
@ Steve,

Absolutely, and it would have been perfectly in character with the real Bashir if he did everything he possibly could to keep the changeling baby alive. Unfortunately, though, they retconned the whole Bashir gets captured thing. Siddig had no idea until he got the script, and the whole thing was both a wasted opportunity and a too-cute-by-half idea. All they had to do was put the captured Bashir in the new uniform and there'd never by any question as to why the Founder didn't try to save the changeling or how he managed to perform complicated surgery on Sisko.

@V, that explanation doesn't fly. Then they should have put the captured Bashir in the new uniform. It was sloppy writing trying to be too clever.
Paul York
Sun, Jun 3, 2012, 4:43pm (UTC -5)
The Visitor showed the depth of the love between father and son, and this episode showed the same between Mora, Odo and the baby changeling. Good themes to explore - but I did not understand the magical ending - presumably the baby died or was integrated into Odo somehow ... not sure.
Cail Corishev
Tue, Sep 18, 2012, 6:55pm (UTC -5)
I was so glad when Shakaar faded from the show. He's so bad here as the whiny boyfriend.

I assumed that the Founders never intended Odo's punishment to be permanent. Also, I don't see how a baby changeling, that's just becoming aware of its own existence, could turn a humanoid into a changeling. Put those two things together, and it means when the Founders turned Odo human, he wasn't really human, but a changeling stuck in human form with his shapeshifting control somehow blocked. They could have arranged it so that contact with another changeling would "wake up" his cells and restore his changeling-ness. That way one of them could slip up and touch him secretly whenever they decided his punishment was over. The baby changeling beat them to it, but didn't do anything intentionally.

It's a theory, anyway.
Chris
Sat, Nov 10, 2012, 12:11pm (UTC -5)
Just about everyone in the birth storyline was an a**hole, except perhaps for Miles. Kira wanting to have the baby in the Bajoran way no matter what, when the baby isn't even hers, and Keiko acquiescing to it, and Shakaar making like he had more business being there than Miles did, and the frumpy, obnoxious midwife, the whole situation struck me as medically insane, especially when they nonchalantly announce that, because of the squabbling, the clearly fully developed and ready to be born baby will have to spend more days, or weeks!(recalling that the entire gestation of a Bajoran pregnancy was already stated to be just five months) locked in a womb, and Keiko doesn't even raise a concern as to how that might traumatize her child. I was in utter disbelief at it all...
Cyndi
Tue, Mar 5, 2013, 11:33pm (UTC -5)
This is one of my favorite episodes. Hiccups aside, seeing Odo and Mora finally come to terms with their shared past made everything worth it.

I ended up writing a fix-it fanfic where the baby Changeling finds a way back, much to Odo's surprise!

Also, against the grain, I rather LIKED Kira's birth scene. It's a refreshing change from the typical cliche screaming and panic in a medical setting. She did something akin to hypnobirthing. :)
Kotas
Thu, Oct 24, 2013, 9:46pm (UTC -5)

One of the better Odo episodes.

6/10
Jons
Tue, Feb 4, 2014, 2:52pm (UTC -5)
To the assholes up above: Some people (ie, me) are watching this all for the first time and would like a warning before comments about what happens in later seasons!

Anyway, I loved the Odo-Mora plot. I think it's interesting that as the audience we see Mora's character under a new light. As for now, we only had Odo's interpretation. I liked that we saw more about Mora's feelings ans the difficulty he was put through with Odo.

Nobody said it, but it may also have helped Odo to point out that humanoids put their own infants and children through quite a lot of discomfort to make them evolve: Fixed times for sleeping and eating, house training, refusal to give too much food, forcing them to go to school and learn etc.

The last scene where Mora hugs Odo and expresses that he still wants Odo in his life was really heartbreakingly touching.
Vylora
Wed, Feb 26, 2014, 8:44pm (UTC -5)
I completely agree that giving away spoilers in a comments section for the show in question is generally not the best idea.

But to be fair to the "assholes" up above - it shouldn't necessarily apply here. This particular show has run its course and did so well over a decade ago. Also, this particular open public forum doesn't have the option to go back and edit any posts, some of which are rather old, to add a warning message.

I appreciate a new fan to a show that I love and further insights on it by any newcomers. I'm thankful for Jammer setting this up for us. But it is what it is and one must be careful with it like most things in life. It doesn't make anyone assholes.

As for this episode - despite a simply okay b-story and the rather abrupt change for Odo...the greatness is once again in character development and interaction with some wonderfully inspired dialogue. I would like to have seen a bit more of the effect of Odo's humanity while being a solid. But that's just personal wishes and not a fault here. I agree with Jammer on the iffy-ness of the baby-changeling's gift.

For the most part still feels like a must-see to me.

3.5 stars.
Eli
Fri, Feb 28, 2014, 7:22pm (UTC -5)
Great episode! Such an emotional set of stories!
Rob L
Fri, Mar 14, 2014, 12:36am (UTC -5)
I'm with Jons, I love to read these reviews and comments after watching DS9 (for the first time) sequentially, and it really hurts. It is not hard to write "SPOILER" and then hit enter twice...
Vylora
Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 7:12am (UTC -5)
WARNING:

The comments section of Jammers Reviews may contain spoilers on shows that have ended years ago. Some more than a decade ago. Many comments were posted years ago by people that no longer post here.

.................

Just like anything else, internet users should have a bit of common sense when it comes down to it. Don't click on random ads. Don't have the same password for everything. And don't read open-forum comments on ANY show/movie without expecting a spoiler.

As a fan of ST and, especially, DS9...I welcome newcomers to the franchise. I think its fantastic warts and all. I wish nothing but the best possible viewing experience. Nevertheless, entering into a public forum and not expecting a spoiler is naïve at best.
Rivus
Thu, May 8, 2014, 2:40pm (UTC -5)
Still, it would be nice if one could at the very least give proper warning first, maybe some sort of spoiler tag... It's a common courtesy on many other forums. And while, yes, the point is valid that the show ended a decade and a half ago, and most of these later comments probably fall on deaf ears, there's also the fact that many new people are being exposed to the old shows thanks to the entire franchise now being accessible on Netflix. And, considering the new power Netflix has showcased in revitalizing old shows (see: Arrested Development... I know, I know... and the upcoming season 8 of Trailer Park Boys), maybe (and this is a big maybe) we'll finally see a new Trek that isn't entirely a watered-down action film series. Amusingly enough, I'm only here because of a series of events that started with the 2009 reboot and left me wanting more. Also, I like to read the comments when I have the episode fresh in my mind, even if sometimes means being exposed to info I'd rather have missed. It's kind of an addiction.

As for the episode (rather for this point, the two before it), I feel Jammer has been very generous with the stars. Rapture was more of a three-star episode that kind of was dulled slightly by trying to do far too much at once, while so much of The Darkness and the Light focused on very unbelievably-handled situations, although the acting definitely helped it... Which to me is worthy of two-and-a-half stars.

For this episode, I'm sure plenty of us were kind of dreading Kira's eventual birthing, thinking it could be made into another of those weird Trek plots (the baby's not a baby at all! omg it's a caesar salad! an angry one, at that... Dominion stole my... Er, their baby!), but I'm glad it didn't. Instead, the B-plot is probably the best handling we could have hoped for. But I agree, to hell with Shakaar. He's not particularly good at his own job, it seems... Yet he barges in and tells O'Brien he can't even witness his own baby being born. I at least have sympathy for Kira, who has a baby that isn't even hers (even though she signed up for it), and is left with the consequence of having to leave it behind. Which is why I like the way this plot melds with the A-plot in the end, where both Odo and Kira are experiencing loss in VERY different, abstract, but still melancholic ways. Also, Odo never finished his drink before becoming a changeling again! ;_; One thing that intrigues me is Dr. Mora's character, essentially playing the role of a (formerly) abusive father but in a very abstracted DS9 'grey-area' light. Not only that, but this episode provides better insight for why Mora was so harsh in his experiments (though it kind of feels like it soured his first appearance in the second season, where Odo was starting to warm up to him and even said he'd keep in touch. The writers could have at LEAST touched on that in some way. Maybe Odo was just shaken up by his transformation in The Alternate?). For this episode, I'd say that Jammer was on the money.

3 stars.
Eric
Fri, Jun 27, 2014, 3:44pm (UTC -5)
@Destructor: Easy with the spoilers dude!
Carl
Mon, Jul 7, 2014, 1:11am (UTC -5)
Seems to me the Bashir changeling could have birthed a batch of changeling or brought a container of chilled raw changeling and set it on its course to be found by Odo. The supposed infant changeling could have even engineered its own journey to DS9, it's purpose to give Odo his changeling powers back.

Otherwise, every which way I could have felt about this episode seems to be covered in the above comments
Yanks
Mon, Aug 11, 2014, 11:28am (UTC -5)
I enjoyed this one. Rene does a fine job.

For all we know the Founders planted this little changeling so Quark could find it and give (sell) it to Odo. So with that in mind, having Odo return to his normal shape-shifting self as a result of this little one "joining him" makes sense. At least in my mind.

Just because Odo's sentence wasn't a life sentence doesn't mean it was meaningless.

Odo shedding his clothes and flying through the promenade was a moving one.

I thought the Bajoran birth stuff was origional. I give the writers credit for that.

3 stars.
$G
Thu, Sep 11, 2014, 12:21am (UTC -5)
At the risk of seeming lazy, I agree with Jammer's review completely. A good episode for Odo that includes some very, very nice moments for him and Dr. Mora. I especially like his scene with Quark, who comes off very nicely here and seems genuinely happy for Odo.

As an interesting aside, Odo seems relatively non-plussed with Kira being in labour. When it comes to his people, Odo becomes extremely focused almost to a fault. First in "The Search" and now here. Odd that he never stops by to check up on Nerys (although the final scene kind of makes up for it).

As for Kira's birth - it was nice, I suppose. I can see where it would strain believability, though. The Shakaar/O'Brien stuff drags this episode down. It's frankly absurd and stupid even for a cheap sitcom. Shakaar comes off very badly here, and I kind of wanted to slug the guy on Miles's behalf for his "leave my girlfriend out of it" comment. Unnecessary drama of the worst kind.

This is a recommended episode for me, not just because of the plot revelations (which, like Jammer mentioned, seem far too easy). Odo's scenes are nearly all moving. I enjoy episodes like these, in general, more than the science-procedural episodes. There's a lot more warmth, which stands up to re-watches where the plot motions of solving a subspace anomaly do not.

Anyway, I love this episode more than an objective analysis can explain. 3 stars as a 40-minute episode of TV, but a very warm chapter of the series as a whole whose value can't really be quantified.
Spindles
Thu, Oct 16, 2014, 3:13am (UTC -5)
It does seem like the writers sort of chickened out at the prospect of keeping Odo a solid for the duration of the show. But seriously, who wants to see Odo live out the rest of series as a solid? It seems to me that the more interesting possibilities exist in Odo remaining a shape-shifter in light of what's coming down the road.

As much as the twist end was a little suspect, I found the fact that the changelings turned Odo into a being with working organs, bones, nerves and skin the ridiculous plot point. What are the changelings, magic? Sentient shape-shifting beings are already stretching credulity for a science fiction show. Lovely episode though.
$G
Thu, Oct 16, 2014, 8:09am (UTC -5)
@Spindles

I'd say the writers chickened out too. But the options aren't between changing Odo back here or never changing him back at all. It's all straight up magic anyway (which I'm fine with), so why not just have him change back later in the series and do more episodes featuring Odo's fragility? "A Simple Investigation" would have been perfect for a solid Odo. The most they really did with fragile Odo was his initial angst in "Apocalypse Rising" and him being injured in "The Ascent".

It just makes one wonder about the writers room. At times they seem to just switch gears on stories without mining their scenarios for all they're worth. I'm not sure if it's because there was studio meddling, or they didn't know how else to treat the story, or they just got interested in following another character thread, or something else entirely. Plot twists need to be earned. Odo is still a great character, but him getting his abilities back so unexpectedly like this is the first of two huge missed opportunities with his character on the series.
seagum
Tue, Nov 25, 2014, 4:47pm (UTC -5)
My brain just can't put together "I like seeing new people watching the show" and "it's normal to spoiler anything and everything in the comment section of a non-spoilerous review", and especially comparing it to clicking ads on the internet. It's just a contraddiction, is all.

It's basically banning people from having a spoiler-free experience from this site because the guys who got there first felt like writing some off-topic comment. Of course I learned long ago how things are in this section (or on the internet for that matter), and deciding to read anyway is on me, but keeping the spoilers out would have been so simple. Actually it would have been less effort than putting them in.

As for "the begotten", I was so touched by the story that I didn't even consider that it was "the episode where Odo got his shapeshifting back". But I did wonder why Odo was turned solid in the first place, since nothing particularly relevant had happened to him before he went back to being a changeling.
MsV
Wed, Mar 4, 2015, 6:13am (UTC -5)
Very nice episode. All of it even though the Kira part was very bland. I wished Shakaar had stayed on Bajor, he was the most unnecessary part of it. I really wished Odo had stayed solid a little longer and learned a little more about his friends.

This was not a real heavy episode but I truly enjoyed it.
Teejay
Sun, Jul 12, 2015, 4:48am (UTC -5)
I like this episode, but two things:

1)The Bajoran birth ritual is ridiculous! How would anyone find that relaxing?

2)Almost all the B-plot, except the actual birth, once again felt like a bad sitcom. When put with the B-plot of "Looking for Par'mach in All the Wrong Places", I am so glad that little story thread is finished.

As for Odo's turning back to a Changling: I never really got how the Founders were able to change him to a "solid" in the first place, so why not have his change back be as mystifying :)
Robert
Mon, Jul 13, 2015, 8:38am (UTC -5)
@Teejay - For the record, I'm not 100% sure that the Founders have to regenerate the same way as Odo. It'd certainly be inconvenient if Gowron needed Martok at 3:00 AM and he was a puddle.

I think that coupled with "Things Past" it was pretty clear that Odo was not actually changed into a human, he was just made into an AMAZINGLY accurate facsimile of one, right down to function organs. But I think they were all fake and just supposed to be indicators that the other Changelings are leaps and bounds above Odo on this front (like the difference between a toddler's finger painting and the "Mona Lisa").

So my guess is that the just locked him into a set of shapes that were so perfect and then prevented him from getting out of them. The other changeling "linked" with him and somehow that broke him out of it. That part may be more of a mystery though.
Aine
Fri, Jul 24, 2015, 8:37am (UTC -5)
Loved one storyline, hated the other.

I loved the Odo storyline in this episode - having him show happy emotions (the quark scene), and then instead of just dying, having that entity give him his powers back - it was a Wonderful story-in-itself.

The Kira baby storyline really irritated me. Firstly, for the past few episodes Keiko has been totally missing. In an earlier episode, there's this 'attraction' going on between Miles and Kira simply because he's massaging her back etc. Keiko is seemingly oblivious to it. Now Shakaar comes in, and in one second is jealous and arguing with Miles, 'protecting' Kira's body/privacy. It's so funny because Keiko is the one who is in the long term committed relationship. It's Keiko's baby after all. First of all, in reality, surrogate mothers and biological mothers have a MUCH closer bond. This storyline made it look - and that is the really rubbish part - like it was just Miles' baby. Secondly, in this idea of how 'mature' Keiko is and how well, Shakaar is a normal man - it just takes so much away from Keiko's character.

I personally never liked Keiko/Miles in TNG, it was like a stupid soap with a boring ending, but in DS9, they have been really fleshed out. Unfortunately, it's so focused on Miles, that even when it comes to her own child, Keiko is barely there. There's no exploration of how she feels towards Kira, towards Kira carrying her child, towards Miles caring for Kira etc. If ANYTHING they could have developed a dynamic between Kira and Keiko and what it means to be 'sharing' the birthing.

And what this Miles/Kira played into was just how once the female body has been replaced, what is her 'motherhood' right even? Miles remains the father in the same way, but Keiko just seems to wither away from the story.

This is obviously wishful thinking, but had Kira and Keiko been men, then in the previous episode given that Kira is doing such a huge favour to Keiko, Keiko could have taken on Kira's mission as the 'surrogate' avenger - of course none of this can happen since their dynamic fizzles out, while Miles/Shakaar can have great tension in 3 seconds of screentime because it's so obvious how 'men' will fight for their rights etc etc.
Del_Duio
Fri, Jul 24, 2015, 10:57am (UTC -5)
^^ I'll go one better and say that except for maybe MAYBE a scene or two here and there Keiko has never been all that great on both TNG and DS9. ^^

Miles and Keiko have what amounts to no chemistry always (watch them kiss and it's like Keiko doesn't want to be there haha), and Miles is a much much better character overall. I know they gave him loads more to do, but I don't know I just never 'got' this particular pairing.

The Odo story in this episode is very well-done.
Teejay
Sat, Jul 25, 2015, 5:53am (UTC -5)
@ Robert:

That's actually not a bad way to look at it. Thanks for the insight!
Nathan B.
Tue, Aug 4, 2015, 10:40am (UTC -5)
As a resident "newbie" when it comes to DS9, I want to say that I have *NO* expectation about not finding spoilers here on a show that is so many years old. Furthermore, I'd have no such expectation on any public forum. As for the comments here, they are much of what makes Jammer's review site so special. The odd little spoiler increases my enjoyment by giving me something to look forward, too.

Regarding Jammer's comments on Odo getting his shape-shifting powers back, it seemed a little too easy for me, too. But Odo's time as a human was important in his character development. He softened up a bit, and he learned more about love.
Nathan B.
Tue, Aug 4, 2015, 10:42am (UTC -5)
Not sure what happened with the auto-correct there: "something to look forward to."
methane
Fri, Jan 1, 2016, 4:46pm (UTC -5)
I agree with nearly everyone that the A-story was really strong.

To build on what Robert said, above, this might be how changelings normally die: linking with nearby changelings, leaving their essence and maybe their memories to others. This could be instinctual, so the baby changeling wouldn't necessarily have realized it was re-activating Odo's shape-shifting abilities. It wouldn't be any more magical than the normal joining that changelings do.

This would mean the Changeling in "The Adversary" either couldn't merge with Odo because of his wounds, or deliberately avoided merging with him, either out of spite or to keep strategic knowledge hidden.

The writers didn't do much with Odo as a human, but the storyline went on over half a year in real time, so I suppose they felt it went on long enough.

As to the B-story, just be happy Kira's comedy pregnancy is finally over.
William B
Mon, Jan 11, 2016, 10:38am (UTC -5)
Echevarria's very first Trek script was "The Offspring," and that episode was foremost in my mind throughout this episode. It's very different, of course, but Odo's bond with the changeling baby is the same kind of outsider-reevaluates-his-own-life-through-his-"child" tale, along with the continual questioning of his abilities to *be* a parent, that made "The Offspring" click. "The Begotten" is not quite as good, I think, for a few reasons, though it's also in some respects more polished. Structurally, Dr. Mora is somewhere between Picard and Haftel -- the authority who questions Odo's capability as a parent, and who has his own plans about how best to raise it. One of the key insights that this episode expands on is Data's observation that seeing Lal learn teaches him new things, and reacquaints him with what he takes for granted, as happens with parenting; this episode takes its time showing Odo telling the changeling baby what it means to take on different shapes, and he expresses here some of the experience of what it's like to take on and hold different shapes. When he talks about these joys, it is as if it is the first time Odo can truly appreciate even for himself what it means to be a changeling. By abstracting the key developments of childhood into "can this changeling hold geometric shapes?" it also allows the audience to see the joys of seeing an infant learn through new eyes. I can't think of many moments in the series more joyous than Odo and Mora's ecstasy as the infant takes on a new shape, punctuated by Odo letting his own barriers down with Mora and Quark afterward. He could not appreciate his changeling nature when he was a changeling because he was the only one; he cannot help but know what he has lost now; but now he can experience the joys for real, albeit second-hand.

The Odo/Mora material is quite good, consistent with (and at times a tiny bit repetitive of) "The Alternate" but mostly taking it in new directions -- Odo and Mora came to some sort of peace in the present, but it brings up old wounds that Mora still mostly thinks his more punitive, experiment-first-love-later approach was the best thing. (This gets at some common parent/grandparent dynamics, where old wounds of childhood resurface once differing opinions of how to child-rear come up.) They start to move toward a sort of synthesis of approaches as the episode goes on, and despite the sarcastic swiping back and forth all episode, are genuinely relieved once they come to a common ground with the infant, can see the value in the other's approach and so Odo can understand why Mora treated him the way he did and Mora can see that Odo has a point to his resentment (that Mora could have done otherwise in raising Odo, after all).

The infant's death is perhaps inevitable (and again is out of "The Offspring's" playbook) but is pretty unmotivated plotwise; I mean, it's believable, because the changeling was sick to begin with, but it does not really follow any of the intervening material in the episode (wherein the changeling did not particularly seem to be that sick). Still, it's a very sad ending, and I was surprised how much I felt for a bit of goo. It giving Odo his powers back is something I, too, am unsure about, particularly since this is the first episode that really finds a narrative use for Odo's life as a solid. The flight across the Promenade is effective though, and I think the metaphorical idea is similar to Data incorporating Lal's experiences at the end of "The Offspring": the child's mode of enriching Odo's life really did transform him.

As methane says of the subplot, "at least it's over." They bring in Shakaar for *this*, not "Rapture" or "The Darkness and the Light"? The idea of pain-free Bajoran birth is interesting, and so I can maybe see what they were going for here, but still. The final scene where Kira and Odo talk suggests that Kira feels a loss from not having the baby with her, which makes sense, but the episode proper mostly de-emphasizes Kira's own experience to focus on the wacky O'Brien-Shakaar feud.

3.5 for the Odo plot, 1.5 or something for the subplot, but the subplot takes up less time and is easy to ignore. 3 overall.
Diamond Dave
Thu, Jan 21, 2016, 4:00pm (UTC -5)
Baby week on DS9. There's a real emotional core to this episode, and Odo's repaired relationship with Dr Mora is something of a highlight as it takes a sympathetic course to mutual respect between the two. The final scene with Odo and Kira reflecting on their loss is also a standout.

But to get there we have to undergo long periods of Odo emoting to a glass of goo, and a blatantly ridiculous reset of Odo's humanoid status - even if that nice moment is well played. We also have a practically slapstick B-story, which is nothing more than fluff.

'The Offspring' did this idea much better. “Constable, why are you talking to your beverage?” indeed. 2.5 stars.
Luke
Wed, May 4, 2016, 11:23pm (UTC -5)
Like "The Darkness and the Light", "The Begotten" is a very well acted, character-heavy outing that has serious flaws.

First, the A-plot. While it is remarkably well acted and gives us some great insights into Odo's character and relationships, it ends with a total WTF moment. And I'm not talking about Odo getting his shape-shifting abilities back. I'll admit I used to think it was rather nonsensical how the infant Changeling gave him the "gift", but after hearing SFDebris' explanation (that the Founders simply locked Odo into a Human form and the infant only "unlocked" Odo) it's not so bad anymore. And, given that the writers really weren't doing anything with Odo's newfound solidity anyway, it's acceptable that they just discarded it. No, I'm talking about how Bashir responds to the infant's impending death. On a first viewing this would not be a problem for anybody; but on any subsequent viewings it drastically harms the episode. The Bashir Changeling would simply not allow the infant to die. The moment he realized there was nothing he could do to save its life with the resources available on the station, this is what would have happened in extremely short order - he would have went into full-on berserker mode, taken control of the station, stolen a runabout (or possibly even the Defiant) and hightailed it through the wormhole toward the Founders' new homeworld at maximum warp. His undercover operation on DS9 be damned straight to hell. His only concern would have been getting the infant back to the Great Link so it could be cured. The Founders have already shown a willingness to sacrifice absolutely everything for the safety of just one Changeling. At one point, the Female Changeling will flat out say that they value Odo more than the entire Alpha Quadrant. And yet, this Changeling is willing to let one of his own die? Apparently just to keep his cover in place for the upcoming attack on the Bajoran system? Bullshit! Now, I know the writers didn't even have it planned at this point that Bashir was a Changeling in this episode. But the decision was made to make it so and therefore "The Begotten" retroactively suffers as a result.

As for the B-plot, I could take it or leave it. I do like that they were willing to give us something new in the actual birth scene (Kira is an alien after all, it wouldn't make sense for Bajorans to have the exact same birthing process as Humans). I'm not as opposed to TV birth scenes as Jammer apparently is, but this was enjoyable because it actually made the alien character look, you know, ALIEN. However, I really could have done without all the standard cliches attached to it. The one about the men being bumbling fools while the women all have to suffer through their stupidity especially wasn't needed. Not only does it harm O'Brien and Shakaar's characters but it also doesn't do any favors for Kira or Keiko either. The men look like doofuses simply because they're men (so you have a hint of misandry) and the women are intelligent and understanding simply because they're women (a "nice" hint of misogyny as well). Ugh! And, by the way, Shakaar appears here but not in "Rapture" for the ceremony inducting Bajor into the Federation? Huh?!

Auberjonois and Sloyan (the always reliable character actor) knock it out of the park acting wise and everyone else puts in workmanlike performances. And it was really nice to see Odo's "paternal instincts" kick in as a response to the Changeling's development - to the point of even have a nice, heartfelt scene between him and Quark of all people (something I honestly thought I would never see, even after "The Ascent"). So, it's not a bad episode by any stretch of the imagination. But, man does it have it's problems.

6/10
William B
Thu, May 5, 2016, 6:33am (UTC -5)
@Luke, it is true of course that protecting their own would be a Founder's priority normally...but I have largely read this episode as being that the Founders used the "baby changeling" to give Odo his powers back, especially given the Female Founder's later implying that they did so. That being the case, there are a few possibilities:

1) the baby changeling was going to die anyway, and the Founders decided to make the best of the situation;
2) the "baby changeling" was actually not an independent entity after all, and was maybe just a part of (say) changeling Bashir, with enough independent existence to "live" for a little bit and then unlock Odo's changelingness, but which was not, by the Founders' standards, actually a person rather than just the equivalent of strands of hair or nail clippings. In this case, it's basically like that little trinket in "Vortex." This one is a bit unlikely since we know that it more or less "learns" the way Odo did at the beginning;
3) "the drop becomes the ocean, the ocean becomes the drop" as the Female Founder says later -- so maybe the baby changeling actually does continue living in combination with Odo when it gives him his powers back, and was not sufficiently advanced as to have its own independent life and thoughts, and so Odo does not notice the change when the two merge into one entity, which is actually standard operating procedure for changelings. I don't know entirely what to make of the Female Founder's claims, but her indication that they are not actually entirely separate beings makes it seem to me that maybe it takes a long time -- years? -- for Founders to differentiate themselves from each other, away from the Link, and that the Founders make no meaningful distinction between different changeling lives, in which case the fact that the changeling baby merges with Odo means that it continues living.
4) the Founders are assholes, who despite purporting to hold not harming others as the highest value are willing to sacrifice their young in pursuit of their agenda. Their agenda here is to manipulate Odo, who is strategically placed, to give him his powers back without letting him know they are doing so, so that he still feels the sting of their rejection but can be played and "brought into the fold" in season six. We know that the Founders send out their young to go suffer in the galaxy without protection and program them somehow with an insatiable yearning to return home, and then deny them when they return, as we have already seen. The Founder in "The Adversary" was going to destroy the Defiant, which Odo was on, without caring that Odo would die, which undermines their "no changeling has ever harmed another" line anyway, which indicates that the Founders at least exaggerate their position. We know from "By Inferno's Light" that changeling Bashir was going to blow up himself and Odo along with the system, unless Founders are somehow supernova-proof. (Gah, that supernova plot in "BIL" bothers me.)
5) changeling Bashir actually just swapped the baby changeling with some tissue from himself, which is then sufficient to merge with Odo; the baby changeling was escorted to safety somewhere and the whole thing was just a ploy to let Odo think that he is still in the doghouse with his people.

I'm not sure which it is -- I think (3) is the most interesting interpretation -- but I don't think the Bashir reveal (retcon) damages this episode if one sees the baby changeling as a sacrifice that they make, for their mysterious reasons. Then it's still a bigger problem in the series that the Founders remain mysterious and their hypocrisies in how they treat Odo and even other changelings are still not *quite* examined well enough. Odo's objection to them is, understandably, their treatment of solids, but that they keep violating their no-changeling-has-harmed-another rule and their ill treatment of him and the others doesn't get quite as much play as it could have, IMO.
Luke
Fri, May 6, 2016, 12:03am (UTC -5)
@William - interesting. I think your fifth point may be the strongest.

1.) That just goes against everything we've seen from the Founders. They've gone to enormous lengths to protect their own at all costs. They even sabotaged centuries of painstakingly crafted Dominion security all for Odo's benefit in "The Search, Part II".

2.) It doesn't seem likely that the infant could have been a part of the Bashir Changeling from the very beginning. If that's the case, how does it learn the same way Odo did under Dr. Mora? And, how was Quark able to come by it via one of his business contacts in the first place?

3.) I don't buy it. We're never given any indication that an "individual" Changeling is anything other than a unique individual. We never see one away from the Great Link that contains two or more distinct consciousnesses or personalities. Whenever one is separated from the Link it seems clear that it's every bit an individual as we would understand the term. When it merges with the Link its consciousness is subsumed into the greater whole - connecting it to the rest of the individuals in a way that is almost incomprehensible to us.

4.) The Founders are indeed assholes, but I think you're overstating the case. While they did send out one hundred of their young into rough and unexplored space, they don't seem to have any problem accepting them back. They were more than happy for Odo to return and, again, greatly sacrificed their security measures when he refused to join them. As for the Changeling in "The Adversary", he never planned to destroy the Defiant - that was Sisko's choice when he set the auto-destruct sequence. The Changeling only wanted to use the ship to spark a war between the Federation and the Tzenkethi. When he ultimately confronts Odo in Engineering, he links with him and tells Odo that they could escape together. Clearly he was planning on not harming Odo. As for the Bashir Changeling blowing up the Bajoran sun - we don't know exactly what he was intending to do. Sure he could have been planning on sacrificing himself by flying into the star or he could have been planning on shooting the bomb into the star and then warping out of the system as fast as he could to avoid the shockwave. The Defiant stops him before he could complete his plan so we'll never know exactly. As for killing Odo with the supernova - well, that all depends on whether or not the Founders actually did secretly give Odo his abilities back. I'm not sold on that either. I'll have to wait until I get to whatever episode it is when the Female Changeling implies it, because I don't remember that at all.

5.) This one does seem likely. If I could give my own take on the idea, it would go something like this.... The Bashir Changeling does manage to save the infant. While Odo and Mora are out celebrating the night away until Mora goes to bed and Odo continues with Quark, the Changeling clandestinely spirits the infant off the station somehow (I wouldn't put it past him given what the Dominion has been shown to be capable of previously). He then replaces the infant with a small sample from himself which he rigs up to look like it is the infant, only relapsed in its condition. This sample then somehow merges with Odo, unlocking his abilities again - something the Changeling hadn't planned on. At this point the Changeling faces the prospect of revealing the plan for "In Purgatory's Shadow" and "By Inferno's Light" or simply keeping quite and letting Odo be a Changeling again. That's a sacrifice I can see the Founders being willing to tolerate, much more so than the knowing death of one of their own.

The problem with all of this, however, is that it's all fan fiction. There's nothing wrong with fan fiction but it has no bearing on the episode itself. If "The Begotten", or later episodes, had given some indication or subtext that all of this was going on right under the audience's noses, it wouldn't be a problem. But, we have to come up with our own rationalizations for what happened because the writers dropped the ball. That's why I hold the retconned continuity against the episode.
Joey Lock
Tue, Jul 19, 2016, 8:28pm (UTC -5)
I enjoyed this episode, I didn't have any real problems with it except the Kira arc, it felt rushed and like a "backstory" that fitted in at the end when Odo and Kira can relate to losing something they loved etc Because to be fair Shakar in this episode acted like a fool, it may be his girlfriend but it's O'Briens child she is carrying, that by default gives him the right to see his childs birth, besides its not as if O'Brien was gonna try "take a peek" under Kira's cover seeing as he previously mentioned he helped her out the bathtub a few times so its not like hes unfamiliar with her.

But the Odo/Mora parts were great, the way they both intiailly took a pop at each other with snide remarks was realistic of a Father-Son relationship where both have too much pride to admit the other one has a point. I'm glad in the end they finally came to terms with their relationship, also despite others views on the Changeling being an excuse to just give Odo his powers back, I think that was more of a convenient event rather than being solely based around it because Odo's exploration into fatherhood and dealing with his own Father-Son relationship with Dr Mora and his time as a humanoid helped open up Odo a bit more instead of being a constantly rigid workaholic.
eddie
Fri, Aug 19, 2016, 1:52pm (UTC -5)
Don't have much more new to add. But didn't see anyone comment on the fact that Quark sold Odo a sentient being. Dr. Mora should have had them both arrested for it and take custody of the changeling child.

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