Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

“A Man Alone”

2 stars.

Air date: 1/18/1993
Teleplay by Michael Piller
Story by Gerald Sanford & Michael Piller
Directed by Paul Lynch

Review Text

The murder of a man named Ibundan (Stephen James Carver) who Odo had sent to prison several years earlier leads a number of Bajoran citizens to suspect Odo himself killed the man. Led by Zayra (Edward Laurence Albert) and their own prejudices, the suspicious Bajorans take on a personal mission against Odo.

A substantial step down from the pilot and "Past Prologue," there are some big problems with "A Man Alone." The "murder mystery" is a rather uninspired plot device to be using on only the second regular episode, and the investigation proceedings are not very adeptly written.

The idea of Odo being a suspect is handled reasonably at first (particularly in an unsettling display of Odo attitude when Sisko temporarily relieves him of duty), but the ultimate result of the Bajorans forming a mob outside his office and screaming shapeshifter epithets is a misguided and excessive approach to highlight the issue. It's staged poorly and feels forced. You'd think that considering Odo has been on board the station four years the Bajorans would be used to the idea of his presence. The technobabble-heavy solution that reveals Ibundan cloned himself so he could kill the clone and frame Odo for the murder is far-fetched at best.

As compensation for the murder plot, there are number of small, relevant character threads, including Keiko O'Brien feeling the burden of uselessness aboard a station she isn't happy living on, and her solution to create a school for the station. The Dax/Sisko/Bashir interaction is also somewhat refreshing. But the episode wanders too much.

Previous episode: Past Prologue
Next episode: Babel

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59 comments on this post

    Actually, this has always for me been somewhat better than the general consensus, although I'd agree it's a step down from 'Past Prologue' -perhaps I need to stop comparing the DS9 episodes with their chronological TNG counterparts and I challenge anyone to watch 'Code of Honour' and consider it superior to this would be deluded.

    There's some interesting touches -I like the continued tension between Sisko/ Kira following Zayra questioning whether it was appropriate for the prime suspect in an investigation to be the lead investigator! There's also some continuity with the dispute between Sisko and Odo over his desire to throw Ibudan off the station. I also enjoyed the dialogue with the 'mob' ringleaders and Quark, who is the sole person to come to Odo's Defense other than Kira!:

    'I can't believe you're defending him, Quark, you're his worst enemy'

    'Guess that's the closest thing he has to a friend'

    Overall, the ending/ denouement is a little far-fetched and the mob scenes haven't aged well, but for a second episode, this fleshed out the characters reasonably well, and is well worth watching -I'd have to say 3 stars for me

    I concur. Ultimately, it was rather forgettable. The Bajoran "mob" was pretty silly. I guess they were trying to signify it was a complicated society with all types of people.

    I agree with some of the criticisms of this episode, but I don't agree with Jammer that the people would be used to his presence just because he's worked there a long time. He worked there for years when it was a Cardassian station, so he was working for their oppressors; plenty of reason to resent him.

    Netflix has this as the second episode of the series--wonder what's up with that?

    This started so well--a "locked-room mystery" can be very fun--but quickly degenerated as Jammer described.

    What bothered me the most was Odo--he is supposedly a very experienced security chief but first he starts a fight on the promenade, then he contaminates the crime scene in his office when he discovers it trashed. Did it not even cross his mind that the damage might be related to the murder investigation? It turned out not to be, but he didn't know that at the time and he just walks in starts touching and moving everything.

    But that's the writer's fault--so far Odo is the best character in this, due to the brilliance of Rene. I just love him in everything!

    Another thing that bothered me was Bashir--he finds some odd biological sample and his reaction is "Let's grow it and see what it is!" Good thing it wasn't a dinosaur.

    Sisko is terrible so far. Did they decide they wanted a black captain and just hire the first guy who looked plausible? His dialog is stilted, his expressions painful to watch, and his efforts to appear friendly are forced. I know from others that he gets better--I just hope it is soon.

    Why did Kira change her hair? I loved it in the pilot after the first scene (what was THAT?) and this shorter one isn't as interesting. Was the first hair too Ro-like?

    I did laugh out loud when Odo's alibi was regenerating "in a bucket!"

    Regarding why this is listed as the second episode on Netflix: This episode was actually filmed second, before "Past Prologue," but the airing order was flipped, possibly because "Past Prologue" was the stronger episode, though I'm not certain of the actual reason why.

    It had absolutely nothing to do with the plot and could have been in any episode, but Quark and Odo had a great exchange here:

    Quark: "You've never... 'coupled'?"

    Odo: "Choose not to. Too many compromises. You want to watch the Karonet (sp?) tournament, she wants to listen to music. So you compromise -- you listen to music. You like Earth jazz, she prefers Klingon opera, so you compromise -- you listen to Klingon opera. So here you were, ready to have a nice night watching the Karonet match, and you wind up spending an agonizing evening listening to Klingon Opera. Huh."

    i like the klingon opera post.

    wow, so few comments compared to voyager. i guess it is to jammers small reviews..i guess after a couple years he gets all wordy with his college education.

    i liked the "kill a clone to frame a cop." idea.

    i had forgotten that Quark was a nemesis and a early on.

    quark is easily the most watchable ferengi ever.

    keiko was better on M*A*S*H.

    2.5 stars

    Neither Keiko O Brien nor the murder plot really are that interesting.

    The mob mentality works though. Odo the Sheriff for the evil occupier got too much of a pass in the series most of the time.

    Julian continues to come across to immature and dumb for a doctor. DNA testing was not that developed back then too ;-)

    They set up the love/hate relationship between Odo and Quark, who even tries to gather info for the shapeshifter.

    1 1/2 Stars from me.

    Not a compelling episode. The murder plot and issues between Keiko and O'Brien were not very interesting.


    I didn't mind the episode as much as the reveal that Avery can't show emotion at all when acting.

    This was a pretty sad moment for me, realizing that we are stuck with this guy for as long as the series runs.

    I found it peculiar that the Bajorian was able to find the cure quickly, when Bashir was unsuccesfull over a longer time. I know in the shows' final "captain's log" he states that "with the aid of Bashir's notes", blah, blah .... but we never saw him reference them.

    Sorry, can't edit posts here. I got ahead of myself. This review is for the next episode "Babel".

    Below average episode for me.

    The "mob" was ridiculous. the guy yelling "Shape-shifter" was obnoxious.

    I never got the feeling that Odo was ever in any real danger.

    I found it a little disheartening that the federation had not considered establishing a school on DS9 when they took over the station. Did they jut forget the Star Fleet kids?

    1.5 stars for me.

    I started doing little act by act reviews years ago and never finished. Inspired by the good work of William B. and a few others, I'm going to press on with these:

    Teaser : **.5, 5%

    Blue Shirts and Bubbles...Here's a good representation of those typical season 1 blues (most of the series have them); the writers are attempting to define these characters in prosaic, general terms: Dax is a Trill, she's old and she's smart. The "puzzle" gives her the chance to remind us of all these things (delivery still needs work, Terry). Bashir is young, motor-mouthed and hormonal. What I remember about early DS9 and VOY episodes is that they are dealing with many of the same freshman pains as early TNG, but aired in the middle of Berman's Beige Trek. So, while in TNG I could enjoy the wonderful scores and the interesting directing choices, here there's this general haze of bland boredom. Anyway, the teaser contains absolutely no meat on its bones, but it's inoffensive enough.

    Act 1 ***, 17%

    Odo's digression on "coupling" is one of those yet-to-be-patented DS9 banality indulgences (let's call them DBIs); a potentially interesting bit of character growth for Odo is reduced to sitcom-level clichés (of course, it's not football, it's "caronette" because we're IN SPACE). Is that really the depth we're going into on the subject of "coupling"? Meh. Jadzia and Sisko share a laugh over a bit of dialogue which someone labeled a joke but is not remotely funny (this episode's take on Past Prologue's "new suit" is apparently "steamed Azna"). Clumsy, clumsy dialogue in the exposition with these two: they have to spell out for us that they feel uncomfortable. Who tells their mentor that she is his mentor? It's so unnatural. One interesting thing about the structure of this act is all the pairs : Odo/Quark [rivals[, Dax/Sisko [old friends], Miles/Keiko [spouses], Jake/Nog [new friends] : all the little dialogues present a theme of companionship. This was a good and subtle choice.
    Anyway, the "real" plot kicks in--it's good that Odo is still operating as he did under Dukat (basically his own rules). The murder itself is corny as hell--black leather glove holding that enormous dagger? Wasn't there a less 70s-horror-porn way to show this? In any event, the tone of this act is so different from the teaser, it feels like a different episode.

    Act 2 : **.5, 17%

    FWAK! [that was the tone metre slapping me in the face] : a return to the teaser material and whacky antics from Nog and Jake. Dax/Bashir adds nothing to what we learned in the teaser. It's just filler. Jake's and Nog's prank is another example of the DBI (I think Michael Piller thought everyone's childhood is a version of "Stand By Me"). I laughed at the generic "serious crisis" music when the deputy grabbed the boys. God these scores are awful. So, Odo discovers his name on Ibudan's Ical circa 1992.
    There are only 12 children on the entire station? That seems unlikely. In any event, I thought the conversation between Keiko and Sisko was pretty well done--but there's a thorny issue that wasn't addressed: Sisko rightly points out that there are a multitude of cultures living on the station. True, but the problem is that a school is a state function (unless it's a privately sponsored school). Which governmental body is responsible for the station? It seems like in civil matters, Bajoran law is respected (see "Dax"), but we saw earlier (and will see later) that Sisko expects Odo to operate under Starfleet regulations, implying that the criminal and military branch is controlled by the Federation. But the senior-ranking Bajoran is Kira, who is under Sisko's authority. Did they think this through? I know they're going for the whole "frontier" thing, but we're not talking about governments that you have to send telegrams to and wait weeks for a response. Both Bajor and the Federation are instantly accessible by subspace.
    Another efficient and brief scene continues the murder plot. There's not much to say about it--it's plot mechanics and nothing more.

    Act 3 : ***, 17%
    Finally, we get a bit of character work in the A plot with an understated admission of trust between Kira and Odo. Unfortunately, that trend is dropped in the Promenade scene with the Bajorans and Quark. It dawns on them that Odo's history with the occupational government might make him a poor choice for security chief. Okay, good. Then Quark has to tell them (the camera) that Odo's a good guy, despite his gruffness and that Quark considers him a friend. The amity between Odo and Quark will of course prove to be one of the best character features of the series, but telling us flat out in such an omniscient expositional manner is very trite and lazy. If they're at this point now, exactly where are they going in the future?
    I'm trying to figure out Keiko's motivations here. She's bored and thus wants something to do; O'Brien and Sisko help her found a school...why is she so persistent of Rom? Is there a quota of multi-ethnic children her new school must possess? I never heard mention anything about her wanting to play Ambassador to the Ferengi. Meanwhile, we get the ominous glare from Obi-Wan Bajori, followed by a scene that is literally just Bashir waving around fake instruments while the score continues to convince us we'd be better off napping. There's emmy-winning material.
    The best scene in the episode occurs when Sisko relieves Odo of duty. Although Sisko is mostly a cardboard sounding board, sleepily professing is baseless belief in Odo's innocence, the writers make a really good choice in having Odo's dialogue flow directly from character. He's upset of course, but he's also unwaveringly cunning. Whereas perhaps most humanoids would appreciate the vote of confidence Sisko casts in spite of his dutiful actions, Odo sees the flaw in Sisko's logic and all but rejects wholesales his overture of collegial respect. It's worthy of a Spock/Kirk moment. Kudos.

    Act 4 : **, 17%
    On the other hand, the ransacking of Odo's office is pretty silly (boy, the Bajorans picked up English quickly). And the Quark/Odo dialogue is mostly the same clunky "tell don't show" stuff from earlier, but Auberjonois and Shimmerman display a wonderful chemistry that transcends the lousy writing.
    In the middle of all this, Bashir and Sisko grab lunch. Okay. I appreciate that the writers are trying to flush out the Sisko/Dax backstory, but a lot of this is hard to swallow. Dax died of old age (we later find out, that Serena Williams literally fucked him to death). Sisko may not be as young as Bashir, but when exactly were he and Kurzon galavanting around, wrestling and picking up women? I could see the older mentor drinking Sisko under the table and maybe embarrassing himself in an attempt to pick up a woman, but it seems a little far-fetched. Worse is the fact that they seem to want to build the backstory on this kind of frat-boy meets midlife crisis camaraderie, but didn't Sisko marry Jennifer when he was fresh out of the Academy? When would Sisko and Kurzon have had these adventures? When Sisko was a teenager? What was their relationship like after Sisko got married? I doubt they were hitting on Amazons. Swing and miss, folks.
    While we're on the subject of contradictions, why is Odo's shape-shifting ability seem to be the root of the mob violence? I thought the Bajorans resented his status as a former Cardassian collaborator. Why are they playing the race card? It feels like a forced way to try and make Odo's persecution more metaphorical, but it's damned sloppy and comes from nowhere. They *would* do this properly in S7's "Chimera."
    Closing out the act, we have super-genius Bashir staring at the growing glob in the Infirmary. What could this clump of organic matter made from Bajoran DNA be? Jinkies, what a mystery. [Trivial bit: Morn is seen in the mob outside Odo's office. That's got to be awkward]

    Act 5 : *.5, 17%

    Why is the Federation helping these people again? "How do you get a rope around the neck of a shape-shifter?" I'm not suggesting that the Bajorans should have the evolved sensibility of humans (how could they after their history?), but this kind of blood-thirst is absolutely nauseating. You'd think they would have had enough pointless bloodshed by now. In reality, this "kill the shifter" bs is what RedLetterMedia's Mr Plinket properly refers to as a script's equivalent to a penis car (those ridiculous sports cars middle-aged men buy to overcompensate for their perceived lack of sexual virility); in order to artificially inflate the stakes, the mob has to want to kill Odo for...why do they hate him again? His collaboration (didn't seem to bother them before today)? His alien nature (ostensibly so, but what exactly is their objection?)? His alleged murder of one ill-reputed Bajoran we know nothing about? The only thing this approach achieves is to make the Bajorans seem cartoonish.
    So, the big mystery is revealed: Ibudan cloned himself to frame Odo. Actually, pretty clever. So Odo tracks down Obi-Wan Bajori, who turns out to be Ibudan. All that was missing was Ibudan's "And I would have gotten away with it too if it weren't for you meddling shape-shifter!"
    Closing the episode is Keiko's first class. Sort of cute, but we get nothing further from Rom re: his interest in putting Nog here, and there are NO other human children on the station? Scratch, that, Federation children? No other officers have kids except Sisko, so the only other kids who show up are Bajoran. See, this is another contrived conflict: given the size of the station, there should be at least a a couple of other officers' kids between the age of 4 and 18 who would attend Keiko's school, making the need to solicit Bajoran and Ferengi children superfluous. Again, unless Keiko's stated purpose had been to try and bridge the cultures on the station--but her motivation was to have something to do with her time, since her degreed profession was apparently not an option. Whatever, enough of this cheese-fest.

    Episode as functionary : ** 10%

    There's a bit of good character work for Odo, but there's WAY too much clunky exposition. For the most part, we aren't allowed to discover the characters' backstories or their relationships, we are just told about them (exceptions are Kira/Odo and Jake/Nog). Couple that with some really illogical history with Sisko/Dax and the totally botched motivation for the Bajoran mob, as well as Keiko's amiable, but rather flimsy B-plot and it's probably one to skip. It's worth a footnote that Keiko's school will become important later, but not really worth sitting through the hour to get that bit of information.

    Final Score : **

    WOW. This is what you call a "little review"? Please stop.

    A Man Alone: C-
    The Good:
    - Some nice continuity: We know from “Emissary” that DS9 seems to operate mostly under Bajoran law, which would explain why Odo can’t arrest Ibundan, since he’s already been freed on Bajor.
    - The domestic stuff between the O’Briens is cool. Keiko isn’t played by the greatest actress in the galaxy, but it was a sweet subplot. Working Quark’s brother was amusing.
    - Rene Auberjonois is probably the best actor on the show. Even with a relatively weak script like this one, he makes Odo’s most interesting qualities palpable. Here we see the character’s rigid notion of justice, his loneliness, his sense of purposelessness should he lose his position aboard DS9. Odo is not very nice, which helps to explain why he was an easy scapegoat. Also, he regenerates in a pail.
    - Quark and Odo are a fun pairing, and I liked their later scene as well. But having Quark explicitly defend Odo to the Bajorans felt a little out of character from what little I know of Quark at this point.

    The Mixed:
    - Not a flaw of this episode in particular, but I’m beginning to wonder when we’ll hear more information about the Gamma Quadrant. Who lives there? Are there ships passing through the wormhole from that direction? Has trade commenced?
    - I’m liking the Sisko-Dax friendship, but these two performances are still the stiffest of the lot. I do want to know more about the life cycle of the Trill, however.
    - Jake and Nog’s shenanigans. I know enough about Trek to know how poorly Wesley Crusher was received on TNG, so I’m actually pretty interested in what this show will do with Jake. Since he doesn’t have the same poor reputation as Wesley, presumably they either get things right (in terms of writing for a kid) or he remains a minor character. In any case, I’m glad he has a friend, but the scene where Keiko proposes the school and Sisko confronts Jake ends awkwardly, with Sisko kind of…lurching?...out of the shot.

    The Bad:
    - Not a fan of the teaser or the subsequent scenes between those two characters. Love-struck Bashir isn’t too interesting yet, and Terry Farrell is still finding her way with Dax. The bubble game irritated me; did you get that it’s from the FUTURE?
    - So Bashir is a forensics expert as well? I guess in the future all doctors are omnidisciplinary.
    - I don’t like how anyone can access information via computer. For example, when Odo examines Ibundan’s room, he is immediately able to see the murdered man’s personal itinerary. Important, perhaps, to the investigation of his death, but there seems to be poor information control aboard these ships.
    - Sisko tells the mob he won’t comply with their demands to remove Odo from office, and then immediately complies with their demands to remove Odo from office. It’s not so much that his reason for doing so doesn’t make sense, he was just inconsistent.
    - The whole mob sequence fell pretty flat to me. It makes the civilians aboard DS9 appear medieval that in the span of a few days they are bloodthirsty enough to execute a man only suspected of murder, and the scene had little dramatic tension. People shouting ‘shifter’ and ‘freak’ is more humorous than threatening. I can understand some resentment toward Odo for enforcing Cardassian rule, and it’s certainly a point I want explored, but that was never really brought up during the mob scene. Odo’s isolation among the stations’ denizens is probably a fruitful topic, just not in this episode.
    - Bashir figuring out the clone thing and Odo’s final confrontation with Ibundan were rushed and infused with a little too much technobabble for a Trek novice like me. Ibundan is reduced to a very thin antagonist, whose only motivation is revenge on Odo.

    Certainly the weakest episode so far, and a poor first outing for Odo. There were some nice beats, but mostly the story felt lazy. However, I suspect that there are worse DS9 episodes to come, just as I suspect that “Emissary” and “Past Prologue” are not the show at its best.

    "So Bashir is a forensics expert as well? I guess in the future all doctors are omnidisciplinary."

    It's funny that you pick up on that... looking into the future I really get why you think this is weird, but it fits him for multiple reasons. No spoilers though!

    "Certainly the weakest episode so far, and a poor first outing for Odo. There were some nice beats, but mostly the story felt lazy. However, I suspect that there are worse DS9 episodes to come, just as I suspect that “Emissary” and “Past Prologue” are not the show at its best."

    There are certainly worse this season, but the 2 final episodes this season are in my top 20, and there's a lot more good to come too :)

    I liked this episode better than Past Prologue. I don't know why fans would think the Bajorans would act any different. For the most part, these people were oppressed and just got a little freedom, like most people, under similar circumstances, need to kick someone else.

    I have often wandered, how were most of these people able to work at this capacity. Where did they get their education? Did they teach these skills in the labor camps. I can understand how Kira could fly a ship, but to have the formal education to be second in command in Ops, is absurd. When would a terrorist have time to learn these formal skills. Hit and run attacks, makeshift bombs, confiscated Cardassian guns, OK. These are not Command center skills. I don't believe the enemy would educate them not unless it benefitted them.

    "Emissary" was largely about Sisko and his ambivalence about Starfleet mission and his emotional scars; "Past Prologue" was Kira reluctantly committing herself fully to working with the Federation -- provisionally. This is about Odo, almost definitely the most interesting of the main cast, and with the best arc. This is not a good episode, but it does do some interesting things to set Odo up.

    The first Odo scene is the one in which he recites the old cliche about romance -- he wants to watch football, she wants to listen to music, so you compromise, i.e., do exactly what she wants. First of all, we rather know/suspect that Odo is *not* speaking from experience. I forget when it is that he actually starts reading Mickey Spellane, but he already describes his hypothetical self as liking Earth jazz, and so it may be that Odo's found some identification figures in the hard-boiled detective genre. Whereas Data identifies with Sherlock Holmes -- brilliant, intuitive, eccentric -- Odo identifies with Mike Hammer, who, well let me quote Wikipedia:

    "While pulp detectives such as Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe are hard-boiled and cynical, Hammer is in many ways the archetypal "hard man": brutally violent, and fueled by a genuine rage against violent crime that never afflicts Raymond Chandler's or Dashiell Hammett's heroes. In The Big Kill Hammer describes himself to a bargirl as a misanthrope. Hammer is also loosely based on the real-life hard-boiled Texas Ranger and gunfighter Frank Hamer, who was most famous for tracking down and killing Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker in 1934.

    While other hardboiled heroes bend and manipulate the law, Hammer often views it as an impediment to justice, the one virtue he holds in absolute esteem. Hammer nevertheless has a strong respect for the majority of police, realizing they have a difficult job and their hands are frequently tied by the law when trying to stop criminals.

    Mike Hammer is a no-holds-barred private investigator who carries a .45 Colt M1911A1 in a shoulder harness under his left arm. His love for his secretary Velda is outweighed only by his willingness to kill a killer. Hammer's best friend is Pat Chambers, Captain of Homicide NYPD. Hammer was a WWII army veteran who spent two years fighting jungle warfare in the Pacific theatre against Japan. Hammer is also patriotic and anti-communist. The novels are peppered with remarks by Hammer supporting American troops in Korea, and in Survival...Zero Vietnam. In One Lonely Night, where Hammer attends a communist meeting in a park, his reaction to the speaker's propaganda is a sarcastic "Yeah."

    So far as violence is concerned, the Hammer novels leave little to the imagination. Written in the first person, Hammer describes his violent encounters with relish. In all but a few novels, Hammer's victims are often left vomiting after a blow to the stomach or groin.

    The Washington Times obituary of Spillane said of Hammer, "In a manner similar to Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry, Hammer was a cynical loner contemptuous of the 'tedious process' of the legal system, choosing instead to enforce the law on his own terms."[2]"

    Odo's emphasis on JUSTICE above all else ends up manifesting, a lot of the time, as outright misanthropy, cynicism about all humanoid nature, and an INTENSE DISLIKE of compromise. Unlike Hammer, Odo avoids firearms and does seem to mostly abhor violence. Odo's armchair philosophizing about humanoid relationships is from someone who has an outsider's perspective, but a real outsider's outsider, whose understanding of intimate relationships is very limited. His hatred of compromise on a personal level comes out in his similar distrust of due process, which we see in an early scene with Sisko:

    SISKO: If he hasn't done anything wrong, you can't just arbitrarily force him to leave.
    ODO: Watch me.
    SISKO: Mister Odo, you're not going to take the law into your own hands.
    ODO: The law? Commander, laws change depending on who's making them. Cardassians one day, Federation the next. But justice is justice, and as long as I'm in charge of security --
    SISKO: If you can't work within the rules, I'll find someone who can.

    Odo believes that Ibudan is a scumbag who should not be allowed on Odo's Promenade. Bajorans hail this guy, who smuggled medical supplies for a price, as a hero, but Odo saw him for who he really was, the guy who let a little girl die for not meeting the price. Ibudan killed a Cardassian, and the Bajorans let him go because they no longer see that as murder. Now, it seems likely that Ibudan is a jerk, to start with, and it becomes even more clear as the episode goes on, once it is revealed that he created a clone of himself to kill in order to frame Odo (!). But still, we don't necessarily have to take Odo's moral judgment as entirely reliable. Lots of people did terrible things during the Bajoran Occupation, including Kira ("Necessary Evil") and Odo himself ("Things Past"); the Bajoran provisional government's amnesty for Ibudan may be false justice, or it may, in fact, reflect a broader perspective than the one Odo is willing to take. In any case, being the arresting officer for the guy back in the day, Odo believes he knows the content of the man's soul, when he knows a lot less than he believes. Odo reluctantly plays ball (so to speak) with Sisko and his damned rules, insisting that people who are not under any legal sanctions have the "right" to walk around freely, the nerve!

    Odo's belief that he should be the law is based on the idea that he, as an outsider to humanoid society, is in a unique position to see justice. And to some extent he is correct -- he is able to see hypocrisy and weakness in humanoids pretty readily, seems to be well-equipped to spot liars, and he is certainly correct that humanoids have a tendency to rationalize away their own actions rather than face the meaning of their actions. Part of his ability to sniff out hypocrisy shows up in that great scene where he chews out Sisko for kindly telling him he doesn't suspect him -- WHY DOES SISKO NOT SUSPECT HIM? -- pointing out that there is no objective basis for Sisko's claim. He is not tempted by pleasures of the flesh and he doesn't let his emotions get in the way. However, his inability to understand real closeness (with his love-hate relationship with Quark and his mutual respect for Kira being the main exceptions) means that he misses a fundamental part of what makes humanoids tick, and as it turns out, when he is tempted by pleasures of the...flesh? goo?...and the possibility of real intimacy, he totally breaks down and abandons his own ethical code (i.e. "Behind the Lines"). Things, as it turns out, are more complicated than Odo thinks.

    So I don't think it's an accident that the mob screaming for Odo's head is demanding the same thing Odo insists is an absolute -- justice. The angry mob becomes a foil for Odo because they represent his belief that he understands moral absolutes which others are simply unwilling to deal with, taken to an extreme. Odo at least has the decency to be a good investigator -- he even refuses to cover up evidence that points to him as a suspect, so unbending is his personal code, when not threatened by love or intimacy (for Kira, or the Founders, etc.). The angry mob are irrational and crazed, bouncing between a legitimate objection to Odo's conflict of interest as investigator and prime suspect to xenophobia and anger at him as collaborator without seeming to have any interest in sorting out which feelings are their main ones. And then as it turns out, Ibudan himself is seeking his own type of personal "justice" -- he wants revenge on the person who turned him in, for killing a *Cardassian* during the Bajoran occupation. We never hear Ibudan's side of the story, which is to the episode's detriment; it seems he probably is just an evil man, no question, but I kind of imagine his version of events would paint Odo as the obsessive, unfeeling man who arrested a smuggler of much-needed medical supplies for killing one of the Occupiers of their planet. No doubt these would be rationalizations, incomplete and self-serving, but that is the point. Odo's honour, such as it is, comes in that he mostly holds himself to the same standards that he holds others, but his weakness is that he believes that his outsider status gives his judgment an objectivity and infallibility that is *not possible* for anyone to have.

    The episode is largely a failure overall because as a murder mystery, there's no real way to get the answer, and it's not even *Odo* who figures it out -- it's just that Bashir waved an instrument around until he found a weird thing, and then that weird thing grew into a person. It's maybe a step above "it was the dog who was actually a shapeshifter" ala "Aquiel" and maybe on a similar level to "actually he was never dead because he could make himself seem dead" ala "Suspicions." (These three episodes in the same year do not speak highly of Trek's ability to craft a good murder mystery.) The ending has the (admittedly fairly silly in execution) mob disappear, leaves Ibudan with nothing to say, and doesn't give any real payoff to the Odo plotline in terms of Odo's own experiences; it ends up, after a somewhat promising first couple of acts, to be a bunch of stuff that happens and ends.

    I like the Keiko subplot; I like the idea that she gets it in her head to be a teacher and then dedicates it to herself fully. She wants to be useful. I could have done without Jake and Nog's hijinks with the itchy-and-colour-modifying-fleas to justify why a school is necessary, but, well, I guess they need to demonstrate the negative aspects of the Jake & Nog friendship somehow. The establishment of the DS9 world as a real community being built almost from the ground up is pretty effective. We also, in this plot, meet Rom 1.0, who is basically nothing like later Roms the series gives us, though at least we can say that this is a Rom still intent on impressing his brother by being like him. I like that Rom insists that Nog *not* spend time with that hew-mon boy; Sisko's slight look at that line makes him realize, maybe a bit, that it's not all that friendly to make such restrictions on his own son. It is different being the pariah than being the one who objects to the pariah, no?

    The Dax stuff with both Sisko and Bashir falls flat. I don't know if I'd say that Terry Farrell ever gets *very good* in the role, but once the character essentially gets rebooted into fun-loving jack-of-all-trades she seems a heck of a lot more comfortable.

    Funniest line: Sisko's log entry at the end: "Ibudan has been turned over to the Bajoran authorities just hours after his clone gained consciousness and began a new life." Hahaha.

    2 stars overall.

    A locked room mystery is probably a fairly safe gamble this early in the series. The clone story actually works after a fashion, although whether it needed the Scooby Doo reveal at the end is an open question.

    What's good here is the deepening feeling that this is a more complex and difficult working environment than TNG. There is a lot of tension and conflict on display, which leads to a different vibe. And some of it is surprisingly nuanced already - the Quark/Odo relationship for instance.

    Personally I got a sinking feeling early from the Nog and Jake exploits though... 2.5 stars.

    Upon rewatching this one this weekend it was really surprising how un-Bajornlike the Bajorans were in this episode. A far cry from the pious pushovers they'd come to be.

    That main one who's all SHAPESHIFTER... Damn that dude is creepy haha.

    P.S: Odo's makeup is so much better in later seasons. In this he looks more like a regular Joe than ever.

    I couldn't say it any better than Jammer did - "the episode wanders too much."

    "A Man Alone" does have some nice character moments in its mix, most notably with Keiko. A lot of people don't like her as a character (thinking she's just whiny and unlikable), but I really enjoy the fact that she and O'Brien have real difficulties with their marriage here on DS9. It just goes to show that writers can write engaging romantic relationships without having to resort to "romance-of-the-week" stories or "will-they-won't-they" claptrap. Also enjoyable are the Odo/Quark scenes and the beginning of the Jake/Nog friendship.

    (I did feel Keiko's statement about the freedom of children on the Enterprise just not working on the station laughable, though. LOL, what freedom? Children apparently had little to no freedom on that ship! They couldn't go to critical areas like the Bridge or Engineering, couldn't go to the Cargo Bays, they weren't even allowed in Ten Forward.)

    I really didn't care for what they did with Dax here, however. Sisko tells Bashir that Curzon was a real hell-raiser but Dax earlier told Bashir that Trills like to aim for really high standard. So, either she was straight up lying or she was just being snooty. Could have done without that.

    Then there's the main "murder mystery" plot - it's just so bland! It never really achieves any kind of dramatic weight. And having it climax with a forced-feeling mob scene which is dispersed by Sisko unleashing a poor man's Picard Speech didn't help either.


    3+ stars from me - I find this one better than the consensus, and echo the first comment in this thread. It's a good character-based mystery episode that explores and establishes Odo's character a lot as well as giving all the other regulars something to do, making it an effective ensemble piece. The Keiko story works, as do the other character dynamics (especially Quark/Odo and Sisko). Odo is written as a sort of hard-bitten detective type in these early eps and I think it works - certainly better than the creepy obsessional romantic/stalker-mentality angle they started writing him from in relation to Kira later on in the series.

    The scenes with Bashir growing a misshapen lump in a tank get me every time. Once it was verified that the contents of Ibudan's biological sample container were viable cells, he could have just analyzed the genetic material to ascertain their origin. Why did the clone develop as an undifferentiated blob of cells and not as a regular-degular humanoid? I see why the *plot* needed to wait until the last minute for the clone reveal, but...ugh the ridiculous science. I wonder if there is an entire class of clone people generated via Trek forensic investigations.

    The Quark-Odo dialogue about relationships felt superfluous, but is kind of amusing given his development later on in the series. :)

    The head mob leader dude was supremely punchable-- good casting on that one.

    I was not a fan of this one at all. Rom is a totally different character and Jadzia's character-oh well Terry's acting is just bad. "Romance is a nuisance" and "interspecies romance involves bone breaking" there is no retconning that-it's a flat out reboot of her character and makes no sense at all.

    Julian is naive and really pathetic here. Genetically engineered and this naive. Wow.

    The Odo/bad Bajoran stuff was meh-I mean yeah there are a lot of people who didn't like Odo I'm sure but whatever.

    I can understand completely why people are put off by early season DS9 it's terrible.

    { Quark: "You've never... 'coupled'?"

    Odo: "Choose not to. Too many compromises. You want to watch the Karonet (sp?) tournament, she wants to listen to music. So you compromise -- you listen to music. You like Earth jazz, she prefers Klingon opera, so you compromise -- you listen to Klingon opera. So here you were, ready to have a nice night watching the Karonet match, and you wind up spending an agonizing evening listening to Klingon Opera. Huh." }

    I didn't like that for 2 reasons. First of all, it's putting 20th century human relationship stereotypes onto a pair of 24th century nonhuman characters. Granted, Star Trek did this all the time.

    The other thing is Odo's response should have been something along the lines of "You know I'm not a humanoid and not even a biological male or female, right?"

    "A Man Alone" is just stunningly average DS9. Nothing's outright terrible, but nothing great either. 2 stars.

    Mediocre episode with a couple of middling subplots. Clearly a step down from "Past Prologue" as far as setting up characters and their relationships and just overall worse considering how early it is in the series. "A Man Alone" is a bit scattered and not very well written -- the Bajoran mob scene was especially terrible.

    The main plot with Odo being a murder suspect was an obvious frame job, but then when it became known that Ibundan killed his clone...come on -- definitely far-fetched and probably has been done before on some show... The whole mob scene was absolutely pathetic -- if they wanted to do something to Odo, why didn't they run after him? And why doesn't Odo shapeshift into something or somebody else? And when Sisko confronts them -- could they not be more wooden in their rage? Did they even know what they wanted to do with Odo?

    As for the subplots -- Jake and Nog meet and start raising hell. Keiko wants to start a school -- man, what an annoying character -- and has this dumb scene with Rom trying to convince Nog to join her school. I suppose this is all to flesh out life on DS9, but it's tedious.

    Bashir trying to hook up with Jadzia picks up in earnest again, but at least this leads to some understanding of Trill and Sisko's relationship with Curzon -- some useful background here.

    2 stars -- bit of a mess of an episode, not sure a murder mystery could be handled much worse. Odo getting testy with Sisko when relieved of his duties was maybe the best part of the episode but that was too short for good character interaction. Ibundan's idea of cloning himself and murdering the clone was pretty lame and just out of nowhere seemingly, Odo knows who to track down as being Ibundan in disguise -- OK, time to wrap this episode up, I suppose the writers thought. DS9 gets it right often enough, but it missed the mark here.

    Poor Odo. I don't remember what I thought of this ep when it first aired, nor any of the years following. At this time DS9 is running on a channel named Heroes and Idols and I loved being able to watch it again after more than 10 years.

    Odo did not deserve being mistreated. It made me angry and I do know that would have been my reaction when the ep was new. The Federation? It is a worse idiocy than in TNG. Why does Sisko allow Odo to be so harrassed? No one seems to care except Julian who gets right on testing the goo in Ibudan's quarters.

    I hope you fans know that DS9 was rip off of Babylon 5 as the creator had taken his script to these people etc etc and they dissed thing.....DS9. And the actor playing Sisko was a teacher not an actor. I don't recall why he was chosen to play Sisko.

    This ep felt like this: Nobody wanted to be there.

    @Betty: "I hope you fans know that DS9 was rip off of Babylon 5 as the creator had taken his script to these people etc etc and they dissed thing.....DS9."

    Of course they know. Why do you think Babylon 5 isn't reviewed here?

    Odo unmasking Ibudan felt like something right out of Scooby Doo. All it needed was "And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you meddling shapeshifter!"

    I like this episode. One aspect I didn't see mentioned in the reviews here is Bashir's relationship with Garak, the Cardassian tailor/spy. It was enjoyable to see a naive Bashir get pulled along in a bit of espionage. But I agree it seemed too much to for him to have to grow the entire clone. He should have been able to identify the genetic makeup of the Bajoran (even with the genetic drift) without growing an entire person.

    Please disregard my comments about Bashir and Garak - I just realized I mashed two episodes together. I watched them back-to-back yesterday, and so I suppose a day's time has blended them in my mind. Embarrassing!

    So...what happened to the weird bugs that Jake and Nog set loose on those poor people? Everyone looked at them like they were freaking out for nothing, but changing colors sounds pretty serious to me. And...why did it stop after a minute...where did the bugs go after that? Still roaming about Quark's to affect other people? Or absorbed into their skin forever? Both are creepy prospects.

    One of the most ridiculous scenes I've ever seen on any Trek.

    Strange to hear so many characters initial voices befoe they settled into what they'd later become.

    Both Odo and Rom have very severe speaking voices here, before both settle into much more gentle versions over time.

    Seven of Nine went in the other direction, being very softspoken in her early episodes before settling into a more stern, schoolmarm-ish style for the rest of the series run.

    Have to agree with NCC-1701-Z, I completely lost it on the Scooby Doo-ish ending, first thing that entered my mind - hilarious scene. Not something you normally want in Star Trek but I'd had enough at that point.

    I think 2 stars is about right, at best. Whole concept felt like it could've been pretty intriguing but was fairly bland and far-fetched in execution, and certainly mixed with moments of the out-and-out ridiculous. Watchable... Just about.

    I liked this episode quite a bit. Maybe it’s because I’ve only just begun ds9 and the other episodes were filled with unfamiliarity but I don’t think so.

    Nothing special, but nothing awful.

    Ep appears to continue the theme of letting go of the past and beginning anew, but certainly is addressing isolation as well, for Odo in particular.

    Idea of creating a clone of yourself so you could kill it and frame someone else is pretty creative. Though shouldn't a clone be a baby, at least for a little while?

    The series is not really grabbing me yet, and I hope some of the comments I read on Emissary, about Brooks' performance improving, are correct. Sisko is dullsville.

    Kira and Odo are best so far. I already have an interest in the O'Briens, and Molly is super cute. Bashir is . . . OK, Dax is kinda wooden, and Quark is well acted but still a Ferenghi. The actor playing Jake does a good job, I see potential there, particularly if they let him interact with others besides his Dad. Nog has potential as well, though again, Ferenghi. Yes, I am prejudice against the Ferenghi. I am speciesist in that regard, but will try to be open minded.

    It's true that a clone start out as a baby (should be a fertilized cell, really!), but at least they're consistent in the silly notion that a clone is a carbon copy of its donor.

    3.5 stars

    Really good episode that covered a lot of territory

    It explored satisfyingly numerous relationships. Bashir s crush on Dax. Sisko and Dax’s history and rekindled friendship. The O’Briens’ strife involving the transfer off the luxurious enterprise to a bare bones space station. Odo and quark. Quark helping Odo and standing up for him. Kira and Odo and her readily defending him against the calls for his removal. Jake and nog.

    On top of all that we got a truly engrossing murder mystery with lots of tantalizing and baffling clues—the holosuite locked, no transporter signature, only two entries, evidence pointing to a shapeshifter, a room
    With accommodations for two people onboard the Bajoran vessel for ibudan, the mysterious hooded older man, the broken medical container. It all led to a rathee exciting climax as the mob gathers outside odo’s office crosscurting with the realizationby Bashir of what is growing.

    The idea of someone framing someone by killing their own clone was an inspired fresh sci-fi twist’! Then the poetic justice that killing your own clone is still murder.

    I also enjoyed the idea of opening a school on the station with Keiko as teacher. The final scene was quite nice I also really enjoyed the vibe from these early episodes

    A Man Alone is an A/B plot episode. The main plot is a murder mystery and Odo's first vehicle of DS9. The side plot involves friction between the O'Brien's and Keiko's decision to open a school on DS9. The main plot starts off well enough but falters towards the end. The technobabble solution is weak and the ending is abrupt. Furthermore, the animosity towards Odo by the locals feels contrived. The B plot is important because it will have consequences latter on in the series. The best part of A Man Alone is all of the little character moments. Jake and Nog begin their friendship in this episode. We also get some nice Bashir and Dax, as well as Quark and Odo moments. Overall, a flawed but decent episode.


    Did anyone else notice the Star Wars shout-out on Ibudan’s agenda?

    The murder mystery plot of A Man Alone is a mixed bag. The murder investigation is handled well in the beginning and is interesting but falters toward the end with an abrupt and underwhelming conclusion. Also of note was the mob attitude towards Odo, which felt completely contrived. On the positive side, we get a lot of small character moments that hit more than they miss. Overall, A Man Alone is an ok show with some nice characterazation.


    "He's not done anything wrong"

    hmmmm murder and early release because of prejudice and bias. Nope. Can't see any problem with him mingling in public. Nothing bad could ever happen.

    The Bajoran mafia guy is unintentionally hilarious. His angery lip curling snarls at Odo never fail to crack me up
    "Shifterrrrr Shiffftaaaaaa!"

    A Man Alone is two different shows. The main plot: a murder mystery, involving DS9's resident shapeshifter, constable Odo, starts off well enough but its contrived middle section and technobabble heavy solution and abrupt and unsatisfactory ending hurt it quite a bit. The character moments though are what push this episode across the finish line. This is the show that establishes Odo and Quarks frenemy relationship and jake and Nog's friendship. In terms of continuity, Keiko O'Brien opens up a school for DS9's kids, which will have consequences latter on in the season. On the negative side, Bashir's skirt chasing is already getting a little tiresome and the Sisko and Dax scene falls flat. Speaking of Dax, Terry Farrell's aloof performance is by far the weak link in terms the main cast. I think she has no idea how to play such a complicated character. Overall, A Man Alone may have a little too much going on and is a bit unfocused and has pacing problems but all of the little character moments make it worthy of a recommendation.

    **1/2 (6/10)

    @Guderian, love your handle! May you be blessed with dozens of wives and hundreds of children :-)

    Wow...Keiko gives off serious "Karen" vibes and we're like 4 hours into this thing.

    Please tell me this isn't going to be the normal. I've seriously not yet seen anything redeeming about her. Whether it's Skyler White or Betty Draper writers just can't seem to write a wife character without making her a shrill, joyless ball buster.

    Don't get me wrong - at some point I was definitely on Skyler and Betty's sides because they were married to absolute garbage human beings but that doesn't mean they weren't still just awful spouses in their own right.

    "Terry Farrell's aloof performance is by far the weak link in terms the main cast. I think she has no idea how to play such a complicated character."

    Agreed. The role really needed an actress on Tatiana Maslany's level, and Farrell isn't even close.

    A mix of soap opera (“getting to know the characters”) and a humdrum murder mystery. The soap opera bits work quite well but the murder stuff is routine and rather boring. The mob scenes involving Odo were amongst the least convincing of their type I’ve ever seen - some extras corralled together and instructed to wave their fists in an unreal choreographed way and shout threats without putting any real emotion or violence into it.

    2 stars seems fair.

    (For some reason Netflix delivered this straight after The Emissary, so I’ll have to go back and watch Past Prologue out of sequence)

    Addendum: Netflix has decided Past Prologue is the next episode. What was the original broadcast sequence?

    @ Tidd,

    I believe Jammer actually reviews them in the broadcast sequence, so you can look at Jammer's DS9 reviews to see the air dates. Now it has happened before in history that networks actually air episodes out of order, as happened famously on Firefly. So it can get more complicated than that to find the canonical watching sequence. Have fun!

    I reviewed them in broadcast order. You will find in season four that "Little Green Men" and "Starship Down" are also reversed from the broadcast order. In both cases, the broadcast order was flipped from the order they were produced, and now Netflix has put them back in production order. Usually the production order and broadcast order are the same. Either order you watch these particular episodes shouldn't matter.

    @Peter G @Jammer

    Thanks for the explanation - it would seem to be a Netflix booboo after all.


    A couple of notes about characters.

    Sisko. Of all the Star Trek captains, he is far and away the one I would least want to cross. When he’s giving orders, there’s a stern coldness in his eyes that makes you think “I’d best not argue..”

    Odo. He’s a shape shifter. He can adopt any form he wants, 100% perfectly. So why do they have him unable to quite manage to replicate human eyes, nose, and ears? Yes, I do understand that the producers needed to give him a distinct appearance as a separate species, but there was a much better way to do this:

    (ANOTHER CHARACTER): Odo, why do you not perfectly replicate the human head?

    ODO: That’s my choice. I’m not human and - given what I have observed of human behaviour - I don’t wish to look exactly like them. So I keep a distance from them with an ‘imperfect look’. Satisfied?

    Somewhat clumsy and some early episode weirdness, like Odo's severe makeup and his DNA found at the scene...?

    It's also odd that the idea of a school seemed not to have been considered at all before Keiko suggested it. Two of the main starfleet officers alone had kids. Jake at least mentions something about computer school, but at least a line from Sisko or someone about why it wasn't already done could have helped.

    The Scooby Doo was absolutely hilarious. And why was Odo the only one there for the reveal? He still has one hell of a conflict of interest.

    The technobabble seemed decent to me. It was mostly background talk about the tests they were doing and sounded fairly polished. Plus they didn't really technobabble a solution either.

    However, Julian growing the sample to find out what it was IS crazy.

    Though, it's fun to look back at what Julian does considering his later retcon and see if he's actually deliberately sandbagging here and has already determined the truth.

    Regarding Julian, there's a lengthy scene where he is gathering evidence alone and doesn't speak. It goes on so long, I thought it was a clue he was actually in on the murder.

    The mob scene was very poorly done. It makes the Bajorans look like clueless uncivilized sheep and this happened more than once in early DS9, like in The Storyteller.

    The idea makes sense that there would be suspicions and resentment toward Odo. After all, was he not in some sense a collaborator? And Quark, for that matter. But that needed addressed as its own episode and in a more sophisticated way.

    And the twist that the guy cloned himself to murder the clone was a GREAT sci-fi idea, but good grief they wasted it.

    Okay, I'd believe that you were just a bit of a harsh marker, and I'd say "yeah, this episode isn't the strongest, fair enough" but you gave "Move Along Home" a higher score. That, my dear fellow, is pure insanity!

    An unfortunately mediocre detective story (albeit with a pretty decent twist) but ultimately a much better third outing than TNG's Code of Honor, which is downright unwatchable.

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