Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"The Abandoned"

3 stars

Air date: 10/31/1994
Written by D. Thomas Maio and Steve Warnek
Directed by Avery Brooks

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Is that all you can think about? Killing? Isn't there anything else you care about?"
"I don't think so."

— Odo and unnamed Jem'Hadar

The writers further affirm that they really know what they're doing with their characters when Odo tries to teach an orphaned Jem'Hadar about human values and the opportunities of life.

A tad derivative as far as philosophical content goes; nevertheless, "The Abandoned" features some thoughtful dialogue about equality and the individual's role in life. What works best is some more development of Odo's character—the first of hopefully many follow-up stories to Odo's outing in "The Search."

Most notably, Odo moves into his own quarters and abandons his pail. His quarters serve him a private place where he can freely revert to his liquid form and be a shapeshifter. Secondly, Odo's attempt to teach the Jem'Hadar adolescent (Bumper Robinson) that there is more to life than fighting proves to be an attempt at relieving some responsibility he feels for the wrongdoings of his race.

It all begins when Quark buys some wreckage from an acquaintance and gets more than he bargained for when he finds a baby in a stasis chamber among the junk. At first, the crew has no idea what species the humanoid infant is. Bashir watches over the boy in the infirmary.

Sisko goes into the infirmary and picks up the baby and then tells Dax how much he misses holding Jake. This dialogue is a bit ho-hum on its own, but it makes sense in the context of the episode's B-story in which Sisko tries to deal with his son dating a Dabo Girl that's four years older.

There's a humorous scene where Jake and his girlfriend Marta (Jill Sayre) have dinner with the old man. Sisko, who has already decided the age-gapped relationship should end, finds he has to question his initial reaction after he gets to know the girl.

Back in the A-storyline, the mysterious infant exhibits very rapid growth, reaching adolescence in a matter of hours. Even more impressive, he comprehends language almost instantly—apparently a biologically programmed trait. Before long, the crew discovers the boy is a Jem'Hadar. He escapes the infirmary and begins causing problems on the station.

This is when Odo decides to look after the Jem'Hadar, who has an instinctual implant compelling him to obey all shapeshifters. Odo tries to teach the Jem'Hadar that he can make his own choices, and that he doesn't have to be a killing machine that only answers to his instinct and to shapeshifters.

Odo even lets the kid exercise his desire for violence by giving him a holographic combat opponent. This is where the script fully realizes the point of the episode—that Odo's attempts are pointless—as the Jem'Hadar furiously fights and fights, constantly raising the strength of the simulation. After leaving the holosuite, the Jem'Hadar brags that everyone should be afraid of him because he could kill any of them. His instinct tells him that anyone who isn't a Jem'Hadar is inferior to him. It becomes obvious Odo's attempts will ultimately fail.

Another thing "The Abandoned" does effectively is further develop the Jem'Hadar as a Federation threat. We learn the Jem'Hadar not only have dangerous technology but are also a dangerous race of biological engineering—a race of preprogrammed killers who only take a matter of days after birth to fully develop, learn and join the ranks of warriors. It would be quite a confrontation if the Founders decided to indeed "impose order in the Alpha Quadrant."

Previous episode: Second Skin
Next episode: Civil Defense

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63 comments on this review

Jeff O'Connor
Wed, Oct 20, 2010, 1:07pm (UTC -6)
Just wrote my review for this one and I agree with a lot of what I've read here. Great episode. I felt it was a little plodding and cliche in the beginning, but really opens itself up once Odo enters the picture.
Comp625
Thu, Jan 17, 2013, 1:39pm (UTC -6)
In my opinion, this is such an underrated episode -- but probably because there are so many really good Federation/Jem'Hadar episodes that this one gets somewhat lost in the shadow.

Upon our DS9 series rewatch, my girlfriend and I easily drew comparisons to "I, Hugh" from TNG; the crew discovers a seemingly innocent being from an enemy race and tries to befriend it. The similarities end once it is realized that the Jem'Hadar are soul-less killing machines and can't be reprogramed or reasoned with. I also appreciate how the Jem'Hadar boy serves as a reflection of DS9's darker tones, unlike Hugh's friendliness reflecting TNG's ubiquitous optimism .This adds depth to the seriousness of the Jem'Hadar threat.

Furthermore, it is also a great way for the DS9 crew (and the viewers) to learn about the Jem'Hadar's biological addiction to that serum. I know this plays a huge part in future episodes, but also re-affirms the Founders' control over the Jem'Hadar. The Jem'Hadar's inability to think outside of killing is also vastly fascinating, and it gives you that sense of insecurity, much like the Borg and their own ruthless mannerisms.

My main nitpick is that, unlike "I, Hugh," the DS9 crew doesn't even attempt to name the Jem'Hadar. I understand the DS9 crew's reluctance to do so, much like TNG was apprehensive to name Hugh. However, Trek has always been wonderful at showcasing human compassion even in the darkest of times. One can argue that it is a further reflection of the series' darker tones, and that the DS9 crew is imperfect in their decisions. However, the lack of attempt left me a bit odd.

That nitpick aside, I am surprised this episode only received a 3. I think it is subjectively deserving of a 3.5 out of 4; not a gloriously perfect episode, but a great "foundational" one that provides more depth into the Dominion story arc.

My rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars
T'Paul
Thu, Jul 4, 2013, 3:46pm (UTC -6)
I also agree that it was worth a 3.5/4...

A great way to introduce aspects of the Jem'Hadar and also to show developments in Odo's personality, and how he is grasping both being a shapeshifter and a founder.

As someone above said to, an interesting contrast with "I-Borg" that highlights the differences between DS9 and TNG.
ProgHead777
Tue, Jul 16, 2013, 10:43pm (UTC -6)
The only gripe I have about this episode is how it introduces and describes the Ketracel White (though it isn't called that yet). Throughout the rest of the series, Ketracel is referred to as a "drug" that Jem'Hadar are addicted to. But in this episode, it's established that the ketracel is something the Jem'Hadar require for the proper functioning of their biology. In that sense, it's actually an essential nutrient rather than an addictive, narcotic chemical. The Jem'Hadar are no more "addicted" to Ketracel than human beings are "addicted" to vitamin C. Ketracel withdrawal is analogous to scurvy, which is fatal if left untreated.

Not that that changes the fact that the need for Ketracel was deliberately engineered in order for the Founders and the Vorta to maintain absolute control of the Jem'Hadar. I just wonder why everyone insisted on calling it a drug when it clearly wasn't.

The above is really just nitpicking, by the way. This was a very good episode.
Kotas
Tue, Oct 22, 2013, 6:38pm (UTC -6)

An ok episode that gives us some background on the Jem Hadar.

5/10
Nissa
Tue, Feb 4, 2014, 10:33pm (UTC -6)
Am I the only one who thought this episode was boring as all get out?
Andrew Taylor
Mon, Mar 3, 2014, 5:48pm (UTC -6)
I loved it sorry. It was a great show for Odo, and more development of the Dominion was welcome after The Search Part 2's letdown.

The B story of Sisko seeing how quickly Jake was growing up was very sweet too.
Yanks
Thu, Jul 17, 2014, 7:11am (UTC -6)
Good story providing the backstory for the Jem'Hadar.

One pretty significant plot hole (I think). Bashir satisfies this Jem'Hadar with triglycerides... I thought later, when Bashir and Obrien are stranded on a planet with a squad of Jem-Hadar with a limited white supply he wasn't able to help them at all.

I also thought it was pretty cheesy that the Jem'Hadar's clothes to include that tube going into his artery were part of his genetics, growing with him. But hey, genetic transporters don't seen to be an issue :-)

I thought Odo's desire to help him was genuine. But I can't side with Sisko not sending him to Star Fleet for testing. Major screw up on Sisko's part here.

2.5 stars for me.
Tgor
Mon, Jul 28, 2014, 11:24pm (UTC -6)
Yanks, I think it was right for Sisko to not send him to Star Fleet. He's a sentient person who has comitted no crime. Sisko can't morally send him against his will, especially when he would harm others to escape. That's kidnapping. Plus, the Federation at this time isn't in an official war. It is hard to justify kidnapping a person just for science.
Yanks
Tue, Jul 29, 2014, 6:31am (UTC -6)
Good point Tgor.

I don't think the reason Star Fleet wanted him was "for science". They saw the Dominion as a future threat, and the Jem'Hadar were the ruthless enforcers. They wanted intel. They wanted to develop an answer for them when/if they come-a-knocking.

Also, how "sentient" was he really? Genetically bread to fight? He admittedly had one purpose and one purpose only... to fight... interesting question.
Robert
Tue, Jul 29, 2014, 8:28am (UTC -6)
"Also, how "sentient" was he really? Genetically bread to fight? He admittedly had one purpose and one purpose only... to fight... interesting question. "

To throw my 2 cents in, this is how I view the Jem'Hadar's sentience.

They have base instincts (to revere a Founder, bloodlust, etc.) and we have base instincts (sex, violence, fear). I'm sure everyone has felt a tug of their instincts at one point. Sure, we CAN control/rise above our base instincts. But so can the Jem'Hadar. We've seen some of them rebel, look for a cure for the white, etc.

If instincts are typically a little voice in your head telling you to punch out the guy that just bumped into you (there was a Voyager episode about that!) or to run away from something that goes bump in the night... occasionally that little voice gets loud. I feel like whatever the Founders did to the Jem'Hadar the little voice is more like a SCREAM.

We've seen too many episodes of Jem'Hadar (albeit later in the series than this one) exhibiting a level of free thought that I have to believe their programming are just really, really powerful instincts coupled with drugs. If I dialed your instincts up to 100 and put you on drugs you'd find it very hard not to act like a caveman. The Jem'Hadar are definitely sentient, they've just been genetically abused beyond all recognition that sometimes it's easier to think of them as machines.
Yanks
Tue, Jul 29, 2014, 9:10am (UTC -6)
@ Robert.

Agree, but at this time in the series all we know that the Jem'Hadar are genetically bread to kill, and willfully "comply" if you will. Here, we get to see one from "birth" and those urges can't even be controlled by a Founder (Odo). He was obedient, but the "fire" just kept burning hotter and hotter. We learn more as the series progresses, but we also learn that "victory is life" is their motto.

I can think of 2 episodes where we see "dissention". One where the #1 doesn't require the white and led his troops to strive for the same. This doesn't happen if the #1 requires it. The other is where a band of Jem'Hadar break free to search for and acquire Iconian technology, and it wasn't to ensure peace throughout the galaxy either. I think the inability to control the urge to kill would put them in a classification like an animal. A dog is obedient, but we don’t treat them like a sentient human being.

So I'm not sure I see any ability to limit that built in urge aside from the military obedience that's programmed in.

Remember, in "The Search PII" the head Founder states that the Alpha Quadrant could use some order. That can mean only one thing from a Founder.

I still say Sisko was wrong here and Star Fleet was right in this case.
Robert
Tue, Jul 29, 2014, 9:31am (UTC -6)
This was clearly meant to be DS9's "I, Borg". Is it right to use a sentient being as a weapon to destroy their people against their will? In Hugh's episode the individual was a little more of an individual, the race a little less and the weapon was a little more high stakes (obviously Starfleet wants to develop tactics against the Jem'Hadar using this guy, but the TNG crew were talking about wiping out the Borg entirely... though I am skeptical that it would have worked, it seemed too powerful). But it's still largely the same episode. In both cases the Captain made the same choice (although Sisko's hands ended up a bit more tied) and in both cases Starfleet disagreed. I don't know that I personally have an opinion as to what I'd do in their shoes, but it's still an interesting episode, no matter which show it's on.
Robert
Tue, Jul 29, 2014, 9:40am (UTC -6)
"So I'm not sure I see any ability to limit that built in urge aside from the military obedience that's programmed in."

If they can make even a single decision against their programming, I'd still say that implies sentience. Star Trek has supported this in the past with AIs, I don't know why it'd be different with biologically programmed things.

"EMH: While I was aboard that ship I poisoned a man.
SEVEN: Deliberately?
EMH: Yes. I was trying to force him to let me treat patients who were dying.
SEVEN: You were prepared to sacrifice an individual to benefit a collective.
EMH: No offence, Seven, but I don't exactly aspire to Borg ideals.
SEVEN: You were hoping your behaviour was the result of a malfunction. I'm sorry Doctor, but I must give you a clean bill of health. "

There was also the scene where Data was shooting Fajo and then lied to Riker about it. Both things truly hint that when an AI can override key aspects of their own program like that, that they are truly sentient.
Yanks
Tue, Jul 29, 2014, 11:18am (UTC -6)
@ Robert.

Disagree.

We never got this or any indication of this from the Jem'Hadar "child".

"PICARD: You will assist us to assimilate this vessel. You are Borg. You will assist us.
BORG: I will not.
PICARD: What did you say?
BORG: I will not assist you.
PICARD: I?
BORG: Geordi must not be assimilated.
PICARD: But you are Borg.
BORG: No. I am Hugh."

It's easy to make these episode comparisons (folks do it incorrectly with 'Children of Time’ and ‘E2’ all the time (pun intended :-)), but this episode is really in no way like 'I Borg'.

The fact is, had Hugh not said "I", his Borg butt was getting injected and going on to unknowingly perform genocide.

Sisko was not ever going to do something like that, he was simply ordered by Star Fleet to provide a sample for observation and testing to help prepare for the inevitable. Hell, Star Fleet would never have killed the Jem'Hadar unless he got out and was killing other folks...

We saw nothing from this Jem'Hadar that would indicate anything other than what he was "programmed" for. A vicious killing machine that was designed (programmed) to kill anyone but the Founders. Hell, the only reason they don’t kill the Vorta is they provide the white.

It wasn't for lack of trying, Odo gave the effort, but to no avail.
Veronica
Wed, Sep 17, 2014, 7:13pm (UTC -6)
"I, Borg", as noted before, posed a real ethical dilemma as Hugh was altered by his experience on the Enterprise. The Abandoned shows none of those signs. It wasn't a bad episode but I found the words Odo used to convey "humanity" to the boy to be what I call "Star Trek stock spiel". I understand the show has an ethos to protect, but I found it all too heavy-handed in this instance.

New here. I've watched all other Star Trek series (TOS and TNG in reruns as a kid, Voyager as it aired, Enterprise a few months ago) except this one. Working my way through DS9 for the first time.
Peremensoe
Wed, Sep 17, 2014, 7:55pm (UTC -6)
(Spoiler for later DS9...)

Jem'hadar do have other motives than bloodlust, obedience to the Founders, and need for white. They value the *ideals* of their loyalty and devotion to victory, and respect for a warrior ethic of strength and camaraderie. Thus Omet'iklan is willing to kill Weyoun (presumably against standing Founder orders), for doubting the first, and not to kill Sisko, for upholding the last.
Brian S
Mon, Jan 12, 2015, 8:14pm (UTC -6)
Data was (or at least was argued to be) a sentient being, even though he is little more than a byproduct of his own programming.

In TNG's "Measure of a Man," Picard argues that sentience requires merely intelligence, self-awareness, and consciousness. It's unassailably clear that the Jem Hadar boy possesses all these things. That he chooses to to become a warrior and rejoin his people is no different from a Klingon orphan who grows up and chooses to embrace his Klingon heritage. There may be some troubling moral feelings about letting the child returning to the people who genetically manipulated him and forced him to be addicted to drugs as a way of controlling him, but in this episode, he did little but attempt to defend himself when faced with the prospect of spending the rest of his life being a lab experiment.

This also differs from the situation with the Borg Hugh who, although maybe not directly personally responsible for the attacks on the Federation, was to an extent a soldier in an army that the Federation was in an open war against.

To this point in DS9, the Federation was not yet at war with the Dominion or Jem Hadar. There were some battles and skirmishes, but no war. To take a clearly sentient orphan boy who had yet committed no crime and sentence him to a lifetime as a prisoner to be scientifically experimented on simply because he belonged to a race of people that the Federation feared additional conflicts with would have been.....well, inhuman.

By that logic, when Worf was a small boy, the Federation should have imprisoned him in a laboratory and performed all kind of genetic experiments on him, simply because he was a member of a race of warriors whom the Federation had previously fought with. Turning the Jem Hadar boy into a lab rat would have been no different than turning baby Worf into a lab rat. The JH's genetic engineering and drug addiction are irrelevant.
MsV
Sat, Apr 11, 2015, 4:29am (UTC -6)
I don't see any resemblances to I Borg. StarFleet just wanted to find out more about the Jim Hadar. In I Borg, they wanted to use him as a weapon for Genocide, until Hugh started catching on to the things Geordi said to him.

MsV
Thu, Apr 30, 2015, 6:54pm (UTC -6)
I actually watched it this time and I will comment on the boy. All he wanted to to do was fight and kill, he needed the white to sustain him and he was genetically brainwashed to think everyone was afraid of him because he could kill them. Those points are what stuck out this time. All of the Jem Hadar believed they were more powerful and could beat anyone, which is a big mistake in their programming. The founders had never met Worf and Ben Sisko.

I was glad that Odo decided to take him back to his people, because he would have been killed in self-defense before he got to the starbase.
dlpb
Mon, Jun 15, 2015, 7:25am (UTC -6)
Couldn't suspend my disbelief at all, so that ruined the episode for me. The kid has accelerated aging well past preposterous and somehow acquires good language skills in the process - "You may run your tests". It isn't at all believable, but I think the worst part of all this is the "let's get to know them" nonsense that was also prevalent with the Borg. It completely shatters the fear factor and downgrades a mortal enemy, especially when you see the kid behaving like some ordinary punk human teen. It's all just misguided crap.
William B
Sat, Aug 29, 2015, 7:57am (UTC -6)
The A-plot here has two main functions: provide exposition on the Jem'Hadar and to further Odo's character. On that level, the episode is pretty much successful. What this episode does not do with The Nameless Jem'Hadar -- give him some individuality apart from his species, show ways in which he might be partially reachable (and enhance the tragedy when he cannot be reached) -- is later done in "Hippocratic Oath," "To the Death," "Rocks and Shoals" and "Treachery, Faith and the Great River" (admittedly with a Vorta instead of Jem'Hadar), and so I cannot really complain that this episode does not do it. This is the baseline for who Jem'Hadar are, which is: programmed killing machines loyal to and dependent on the Founders. That's it. That the crew immediately jumps on this improbably accelerated aging process and genetic engineering as probable proof that the Nameless Jem'Hadar is definitely unreachable is a bit unreasonable given that they have no real information about how deep this programming goes. But I don't mind, exactly, that it turns out that the Jem'Hadar really has no interest in becoming an independent person who is something other than a killing machine for the Founders' will. He is programmed with that, after all, and he is also isolated on a station with a bunch of people scared of him, knowing that his own people are out there to provide him with a life exactly along the lines of the one he wants.

The problem I do have is that the episode is kind of falt dramatically -- it's an exercise in futility. More to the point, Odo's attempts to get through to the Jem'Hadar are hobbled by Odo's limitations, and the episode would probably have been stronger if there were someone to point out those limitations beyond Kira tongue-wagging that he's wrong to try at all. It's worth remembering that this punk kid is also three weeks old. That he was programmed with rudimentary quick-forming language and whatever is one thing, but Odo keeps seeming to expect the Jem'Hadar to have spontaneously formed his own hobbies. I'm not sure I want a repeat of that banana cream split scene in "Suddenly Human," but without *some* scene of Odo at least attempting to get the Jem'Hadar to bond with others the episode's defeatism about the Jem'Hadar is a little hollow.

What works is that Odo's desire to help the Jem'Hadar hits several points of comparison with Odo himself and is clearly both a matter of Odo having guilt for what His People have done, and Odo projecting his own story onto the boy. Odo's moving out of his bucket and into a set of quarters, which he describes with Kira with an almost unsettling enthusiasm, is the backdrop against which this is presented, and his attempts to convince the boy that he *can* "fight his nature" and find satisfying alternatives to his fundamental urges is Odo's way of trying to tell himself that he is satisfied with the play structure he's made for himself as an alternative to his people and the Link. His insistence that the boy no doubt has his own desire to be a moral being, coexisting peacefully in spite of his violent instincts, probably also comes from Odo's attempt to affirm that his loyalty to "solids" comes from his sense of justice which is real and fundamental, and not at all just his self-deception about his desire for order, as the Female Changeling insisted. This all plays out while Odo is also telling everyone he is not trying to *control* the boy, and insisting that he is only giving him options, when, in the end, *of course* he is trying to control him. Odo's belief system requires that justice and goodness are external values that only need to be "discovered," that once he imparts the value of nonviolence the boy will immediately see things Odo's way, but it is more complicated than that, especially when someone's programmed nature runs counter to it. Odo's attempt to step in and prevent the boy from either being the Founder's slave or an experiment leads to him somewhat becoming both Founder and Dr. Mora in his effort to use whatever resources he has to force free will on a boy who does not want it. But ultimately, for Odo's flaws he did want to try to help the boy escape from the Founders' clutches, and it does hurt him that he fails. That he lets the boy go makes sense to me -- the Jem'Hadar has not hurt anyone, and he can hardly be locked up, and Odo's identification is such that on some level he would rather this analogue be with his people, whatever that means, rather than be a test subject (and one who genuinely may have to be killed in order for that to last).

The B-plot with Sisko, Jake and Marta bugs me a little in that there is some weird classism around Sisko's bringing up that she's a DABO GIRL every few minutes; he is called on this, indirectly, by Marta, who points out that her Dabo Girl job is a way to survive as an orphan Occupation survivor, so that helps, but I sort of wish he were less explicit about it, especially since Sisko has the advantage of coming from a post-money society where people don't have to take whatever jobs they need to in order to survive. I do agree with Ben that the age difference seems to be a problem, and I get why it bothers him on a visceral level that her job involves flirting with people. I have got to say, my reaction is pretty similar to O'Brien's mixture of confusion and suppressed disgust when Sisko reveals that he's mainly inviting Jake's girlfriend over for retcon so that he'll be better able to break them up. I'm not a father though, so who knows? Maybe this is one of those things people like me can't get. The turnaround that he realizes that the situation is not so much innocent-Jake and vamp-Marta but that both of them are a mixture of idealistic and worldly does work for me, for one thing because it ties in with the A-plot, where Sisko seems to recognize that the limits to his understanding of Jake mean that his attempts to control his son's life are bound to fail, or at least are bound to be a little on the misguided side. It's smaller-scale than the Odo/Jem'Hadar plot, of course, but Sisko reluctantly lets Jake go just a little bit.

The foregone conclusion feeling to the A-plot makes it drag in spots but it's a pretty decent Odo story. 2.5 stars for me, I think.
S. Kennedy
Sat, Aug 29, 2015, 10:48am (UTC -6)
Good episode. There is an episode in TNG which this is a virtual remake of, 'Suddenly Human' (S4) with the exception that here the Jem Hader is a Jem Hader whereas in Suddenly Human it is a human boy who has been brought up as a member of an obscure hostile alien race. It is the same premise, an (ultimately doomed) attempt to teach someone inherently hostile (because of their upbringing) the merits of peace, civility, humour, etc, - there is even a scene in which they try to make him laugh in both episodes. The ending is a bit different though.

There is more than a bit of I, Borg also thrown into The Abandoned.
JMT
Mon, Oct 26, 2015, 10:59am (UTC -6)
I'm watching DS9 for the first time. Some of what I may say may be wrong in the long term, but these are my impressions of the show as I watch it.

The Jem'Hadar simply don't bring the same level of tone and terror that the Borg do. The Borg are a nightmare born from something which we cannot comprehend; their concept of life and civilization have absolutely no bearing on our own but we do understand it is fundamentally incompatible with the existence of life as we know it (humans and comparable aliens such as Klingons, Romulansm Cardassians, Jem'Hadar etc.) The comparisons between "I, Borg" and this episode fall flat to me because the stakes appear to be so much lower and the dilemma presented so much more basic.

This episode does illustrate something to me about the themes of TNG vs. DS9. TNG is about how humanity may grow to become something beyond which it is, and often deals with life that defies human understanding (2D aliens, The Q, Crystalline Entity etc). DS9 is about humanity as it is, and every race (except maybe the prophets?) is for all intents and purposes human.
Diamond Dave
Sun, Nov 22, 2015, 1:56pm (UTC -6)
Another strong episode. I don't see how you can deny the "I, Borg" comparisons here. The whole point of that episode was to show that there was hope, that the Borg were not incapable of change, and that one step could make a difference. Here, the point of showing the Jem'Hadar is that there is no hope. That even with their genetic deference to the Founders (Odo), they will still turn out to be killing machines whatever it is you try to reason with them. That's why he doesn't get a nickname, you can't domesticate a Jem'Hadar...

It also ends up giving Odo a big slap in the face for taking on a job he can't complete. That he feels a duty to try after encountering his people is another strong theme, especially given the joy he finds in his new quarters.

The B-story is nicely done but fairly lightweight. 3 stars.

Luke
Thu, Mar 10, 2016, 9:22pm (UTC -6)
We begin"The Abandoned" with Quark buying some junk scrap and inadvertently discovering a baby in the wreckage. Upon learning this Quark immediately does the honorable and noble thing - he takes the baby to the Infirmary for Bashir to treat and informs everyone about what happened. How is he rewarded for this? Sisko acts likes an complete asshole to him because.... fuck Quark, am I right?! They then confiscate Quark's legally owned property because why the hell not and when Quark begins to protest he's basically told - "Go to hell! We're taking it without compensating you and you better damn-well be happy about it!" But all of this is acceptable because Sisko really likes kids and fondly remembers playing with baby Jake. Ah, we're off to a wonderful start!

Well, actually, after that rather disappointing opening, the episode really does enter much better territory. It turns out the baby is actually a Jem'Hadar and Odo decides to take him under his wing in order to atone for some of his race's sins. What I really like about this story is that Odo straight-up fails. He goes through the standard Trek line about tolerance and everyone living in harmony and yet the Jem'Hadar remains completely unconvinced - he just wants to fight, nothing more. Sadly, there are a lot of people in life that are like that - they aren't interested in adapting themselves to our liberalized way of life. That's something we have to face in the real world and yet Trek almost never showcases it. Usually all that really happens is a regurgitation of liberal talking points and everyone sees the error of their ways and embraces the new Federation lifestyle. If this were TNG, I have no doubt the Jem'Hadar would have either renounced violence or returned to the Dominion with a new perspective. Maybe that makes this story somewhat "anti-Trek" since it's Kira's skepticism which wins out over Odo's idealism, but I do not have a problem with that. It's much more in keeping with the actual human condition.

There's also a B-story which somewhat ties in with the A-plot (both kind of focus on family matters) in which we finally get to meet Jake's Dabo Girl girlfriend. "Sixteen years old and dating a Dabo Girl. Godspeed, Jake." You said it, O'Brien! Some might say that Wesley Crusher was lucky for getting to fly the Federation's flagship while still a teenager. Well, after seeing Mardah damn near spill out of her top, I can safely say that Jake Sisko is officially the luckiest teenager in the history of forever! This plot was pleasant enough for what it was and offered a humorous dinner scene between Sisko, Jake and Mardah. Nothing particularly worthwhile, but pleasing.

7/10
William B
Thu, Mar 10, 2016, 9:52pm (UTC -6)
@Luke, I agree that this ep is atypical (and in particular stands in direct contast to I Borg), but I feel like the idea that TNG would absolutely do the opposite in this particular story slightly misrepresents TNG, which was somewhat varied. TNG did a "boy decides he belongs in violent culture" ep with Suddenly Human. And there are episodes like Half a Life, which I know you hate, but which depict aliens who ultimately fail to change to the enlightened philosophy offered them, and choose their own culture over the Federation one offered. In fact, TNG was generally skeptical about large scale change of "enemy cultures" - Spock's attempt to change the Romulans is immediately exploited by evil factions, the society in First Contact was left alone, we find that the Klingons in Heart of Glory ultimately cannot be integrated into a post warrior culture with insufficient killing and Worf kills one to prevent him from continuing his attempt to take over the Enterprise, etc. The show was ultimately mostly optimistic but repeatedly emphasized that there were no guarantees and showed frequent failures. Some of those eps weren't great (or were outright bad) but it is frequently true in the show that attempts to reach out and instruct in Federation values sometimes failed and sometimes were even shown to be wrong headed.

What is interesting and mostly unique in The Abandoned is the idea that it is a purely genetic problem for the Jem'Hadar, since there are no cultural factors influencing him.
William B
Thu, Mar 10, 2016, 10:42pm (UTC -6)
Also, wow, people sure do treat Quark badly, don't they?
Luke
Thu, Mar 10, 2016, 10:50pm (UTC -6)
Maybe I was being too harsh on TNG. I'll admit I had forgotten about most of those episodes. Especially "Half a Life", which I'm trying to scrub from my memory. :-P

Speaking of the genetic angle - that brings up the question, which this episode directly asks, of whether or not the Jem'Hadar even have free-will or if they are nothing but programmed killing machines. If that's true it makes what Odo is attempting here all the more hopeless. We do see in later episodes Jem'Hadar characters questioning Dominion orthodoxy (and in at least one case openly rebelling against it), however. Maybe their sense of free-will wasn't completely erased but buried amazingly deep down in their psyches - so far that it takes a really extraordinary event to release it, something Odo just wasn't capable of conjuring up for this one Jem'Hadar.
William B
Thu, Mar 10, 2016, 11:09pm (UTC -6)
I figured that you might not have incorporated Half a Life into your overall view of TNG :P

I think it is an open question how much free will the Jem'Hadar have. This episode implies very little -- though even here, the boy seems to say he's willing to kill Odo if he has to, which goes well against his programming. The episode plays the extreme teen rebellion angle, to some degree, which makes me wonder also if the propensity toward violent behaviour is something which peaks early and then peters out. I guess eps like To the Death and One Little Ship establishes that most Jem'Hadar don't get to be very old; but it's possible that their lust for battle decreases a little, and if they did happen to live to be twenty or something they might be more able to question their impulses. Since they generally *don't*, it doesn't come up. It could also make sense that the Founders are somewhat shortsighted in their programming, and that their particular genetic cocktail that creates these perfect soldiers in a couple of weeks makes them somewhat harder to control as they get older...but then, constant expansion and battle tends to weed them out before that becomes a problem, and perhaps Vorta are encouraged to ensure that relatively few Jem'Hadar get too old.
Chrome
Fri, Mar 11, 2016, 11:18am (UTC -6)
I wouldn't say Quark repeatedly being treated badly is some sort of socialist agenda by the writers. Rather, I think Quark is supposed to be an underdog. Any chance Quark has to be a success ("The Nagus" , "Rules of Acquisition", "Little Green Men", "Ferengi Love Songs", "What you Leave Behind") ending up piddling out miserably. One might, by extension, say that Quark's harsh treatment by his family and the DS9 cast is an extension of the underdog portrayal.

But making Quark an underdog simply makes him more likable. Would anyone really have preferred it if Quark was the Ferengi equivalent of Donald Trump? A decision like that might have done more to prove the Federation's point about capitalist greed than what the DS9 went for when making Quark greedy, but not overly powerful or successful.

Just my 2 strips of latinum.
Skywalker
Thu, May 12, 2016, 12:06pm (UTC -6)
@William, "the boy seems to say he's willing to kill Odo if he has to, which goes well against his programming" -- I noticed that too, and really liked that part. The Founders bred loyalty into their awesome killing machines, but their lust for death overpowers even that loyalty. Thus, they bred them to require Ketracel-white as an additional safeguard, which now is obviously necessary. It reminds me of the engineers of Jurassic Park giving their dinosaurs a lysine deficiency to make sure they could control them.

@Luke, "I can safely say that Jake Sisko is officially the luckiest teenager in the history of forever!" LOL I literally said nearly the same thing aloud when I saw Marta and Jake together on this rewatch. My reaction was, "Oh man! Every single woman in that bar wants to meet Jake now! I bet he could even get Jadzia."

Also, Sisko et al. are absolutely unfair to Quark -- but remember that Quark really did some pretty lousy things in the first two seasons. Although Quark usually saved the day semi-heroically those times and sort of undid the damage, he has forfeit a lot of good will, justifying, in part, Sisko's tyranny. I don't mind it. It shows that Sisko is like the sheriff of a town (with Odo as constable) out on the frontier, with minimal control from the state (a mere O-5 [commander] in charge of one of the most strategically important bases in the Quadrant?! Were all the hundreds of one-star admirals busy?) showing that Starfleet still doesn't care too much about DS9 yet (shocking though that is -- they must be occupied cataloguing gaseous anomalies with the Romulans), which connects into the "wagon train to the stars" idea and the "frontier medicine" idea from Bashir as well. Few Starfleet officers would have it in them to do this job effectively, but in two years Sisko has rapidly adapted to the role in this place, a distinctly Ronald D. Moore world of grey.
Paul Allen
Sat, Jul 30, 2016, 12:04pm (UTC -6)
Horrible snobby sexism from Sisko re: "the Dabo girl". Really disappointing.

Seriously, it's supposed to be stardate 48301.1 and misogyny like that exists, especially in such a normally positive main character?

I'm angry at this sort of attitude.

Strejda
Thu, Jan 26, 2017, 11:56am (UTC -6)
@Paul Allen To be fair, I think it's less so he has problem with Dabo girls period, just that he just doesn't feel comfortable having his son be dating somebody so... Sensual. Her having sex with him, even if you don't believe in US's statutory rape standard would be pretty skeezy.
Welchie!!!!!
Tue, Mar 21, 2017, 1:41am (UTC -6)
I didn't like it as much a Mr. Jammer. This should have been a two part episode the abruptly resolves itself in the last minute of the fifth act. The Odo scenes where he's trying to connect with the teenage Jem'Hadar are good. I didn't believe for a second that Jake is able to get with a smoking hot Dabo girl in her twenties. I believe even less that Captain Sisko would in any way object. If I was Jake's single father i would be fist bumping him and handing him federation issue condoms. Almost as important I'm disappointed I didn't get to see Odo and the Jem'Hadar's road trip to the Dominion.
Del_Duio
Tue, Mar 21, 2017, 11:13am (UTC -6)
@ Welchie!!!!!

Sure he could, he's the son of the station commander after all. And the Emissary's kid too. He could probably have half of Bajor if he wanted to :D
Peter Swinkels
Mon, May 1, 2017, 3:58pm (UTC -6)
Okay, in Star Trek ANYTHING is possible with genetics, even an invisibility cloak. Completely ridiculous. Also funny how the baby doesn't at all look like a reptiloid. Still a nice episode.
Rahul
Thu, Jun 1, 2017, 6:41pm (UTC -6)
Good episode and a good way of learning more about a Federation threat. The one question is: How did a baby Jem'Hadar get lost in wreckage and no attempt made (at least in this episode) for Jem'Hadar adults to come looking for him? I'm surprised part of the episode didn't explore that or deal more with the creature who sold the wreckage to Quark.
In any case, what unfolds in the episode is pretty good - Good convo between Odo and Kira about trying to be something "better" than what you're programmed to be. Kira is no longer a terrorist so Odo is justified in at least trying to teach the Jem'Hadar kid.
I do think Sisko and DS9 security could have immobilized the Jem'Hadar kid and handed him over to Federation authorities. I have no "moral qualms" about this even if we're dealing with a sentient life - given that it is programmed to kill/be violent etc.
The B-plot is a totally different change of pace that provides a bit of levity - it's fine here.
I am a fan of Odo - I like his reasoning and ability to admit to Kira that she was right about not being able to "tame" the Jem'Hadar kid.
I'd give this 3 stars out of 4. Solid episode with a couple of questions left unanswered but nothing outstanding to warrant a higher rating.
Daniel B
Sat, Jul 8, 2017, 2:37am (UTC -6)
I liked how this episode DIDN'T take the typical way out of eventually turning your programmed enemy over to your side.

It was great in I, Borg, don't get me wrong, but I thought we'd see another repeat. It was nice that it didn't happen that way this time.
Startrekwatcher
Fri, Jul 28, 2017, 2:57pm (UTC -6)
Yawn. I liked this better when it was called "I, Borg". 2 stars. Even if the parallels weren't obvious it still is a tedious hour with the useless subplot with Jake and dabo girl. the Odo plot didn't interest me at all. DS9 should wasted its ten episodes being only Star Trek on the air
grumpy_otter
Sat, Jun 9, 2018, 7:15pm (UTC -6)
I liked Odo's development here, especially his relationship with Kira, but what sunk this episode for me was two things. One part A is that the Jem'Hadar was so monotonously one-note that I felt Odo was being really really stupid. But that was reflective of his own character so it wasn't too bad. Part B of item one is that the actor playing the Jem'Hadar was not good. He looked like a little kid in makeup--and acted it.

And two, Sisko is just not getting better as an actor for me. His expressions are odd, his voice is bizarre, and despite what folks have told me about him getting better over time, I am just not seeing it. I can imagine Picard realistically accepting that his adolescent son was dating a grown woman--Sisko didn't convince me at all.

And seriously? That's a storyline? It seemed very forced and awkward and Jake had no chemistry with Marta. She did seem interesting though--I'd like to see her dating Bashir.
Iceman
Fri, Aug 10, 2018, 9:37am (UTC -6)
The Jake subplot was weak and ineffective, but the main plot with Odo was affecting and tragic, even if it wasn't transcendent. It's nice that even this early into the run, DS9 was playing with serialization by acknowledging the Dominion throughout the season. The biggest problem with the third season is that there weren't more episodes like "The Abandoned".

3 stars.
Elliott
Tue, Sep 18, 2018, 5:09pm (UTC -6)
Teaser : **.5, 5%

At Quark's, a Bajoran Dabbo girl is making eyes and kissy faces at Jake from across the wheel while Quark is overhead looking worried, which is creepy. She flashes her cleavage at a lecherous gambler who's been on a winning streak and convinces him to let it ride, and what do you know, he loses. Quark is relieved. She makes her way to Jake and informs him that Sisko invited her (his girlfriend) to dinner so they can get better acquainted.

By the way, how is it that business is booming again? In “The House of Quark,” it was made very clear that business would become depressed after Quark's little adventure; that was in fact the whole point of is character growth, that he would be willing to sacrifice profit to help Grilka. Hmmm.

That living troll doll from “The Homecoming” seats herself by the booming business-Ferengi. She doesn't have a smuggled earring this time, but rather some “salvage” from the Gamma Quadrant. And, because apparently he's just as gullible and cartoonishly manipulable as the lechers around his Dabbo table, she convinces him to buy it.

Later, he examines his purchase, a heap of junk, oh and a crying baby in a space-bassinet. Doh!

Act 1 : **.5, 17%

The Troll Doll has vanished, but Bashir declares that the baby, whatever it is, is healthy, and metabolises very quickly. Sisko picks up the infant and cradles it, distracted by the flood of memories this brings. He confesses to Dax that misses the experience of raising Jake as baby, when things were less complicated.

Speaking of which, Jake is upset with his father for springing this dinner with Mardah (the Dabbo girl) on him. But Sisko assures him that he needn't worry, “it's just dinner.”

Later, Bashir calls Sisko down to the infirmary to show him that, just like Ian from “The Child,” this baby isn't a baby anymore.

Act 2 : ***, 17%

Amazingly, this two-week old child has developed speech. He tells Sisko that he needs food, and that he's eager to learn. Bashir suspects that this baby's incredible abilities are the result of advanced genetic engineering.

An examination of the rest of Quark's salvage reveals that the baby was meant to be kept in stasis before whatever accident led to his being abandoned. O'Brien also knows about the impending dinner with Jake's girlfriend, since Jake is preöccupied with it. Sisko makes it clear that he doesn't intend for the relationship to continue. We learn that Mardah is twenty, and Jake is sixteen. This is a can of worms, we will have to dump out all over the floor like Quark's junk at some point, but let's leave it alone for now.

In the meanwhile, Kira drops off some dried flowers to Odo at his new quarters. She reveals that this is mostly an excuse to get a glimpse at his new living arrangement. He lets her in and very quickly, his gruff persona melts away and we see the same Odo from “The Search II,” exhilarated by the opportunity to explore his shapeshifting and *be* a Changeling. In a cute little capstone, Odo plants Kira's gift in the bucket he used to use to regenerate. Quite a step forward for the Constable.

Over dinner, Dax and Bashir discuss the child. The one flaw in his amazing artificial genetic code is the lack of a key enzyme, without which he will die. He's recalled to the infirmary, where it's revealed that the boy is actually a Jem'Hadar (uh oh). Odo stops his escape with his Goo powers.

Act 3 : **, 17%

Starfleet wants have the boy transferred for study (I like the invented term “exopsychologist” here). Odo is uncomfortable with the idea of the boy being treated like a laboratory specimen (and he would know, wouldn't he?). He volunteers to take responsibility for the boy. It seems that the Jem'Hadar are programmed to “defer” to Changelings anyway. Sisko sees that part of Odo's strong feeling is over the guilt he feels on behalf of his people, and the other part over his own traumatic history as the subject of scientific curiosity in Dr Mora's lab. Odo's experience in “The Search” very easily could have led to a deeper depression and introversion, but instead, he seized the opportunity to make himself a better person, embracing the positive aspects of the revelation and exploring his Changeling self. He wants this Jem'Hadar to have the same opportunity. Sisko, because he sucks, decides to lie to Starfleet in order to give Odo the chance he's asked for. When Starfleet wanted to take Lal away from Data, Picard risked his career in order to stand by the principle that she shouldn't be separated from her father. Sisko just lies to avoid the problem. Sigh...

The boy being held in a cell, anxious and spastic. Bashir attributes this to that enzyme problem. The doctor actually characterises this issue as a kind of addiction from which the boy is experiencing withdrawal. Without further examination, Bashir can't hope to help him. Odo is able to convince the boy to let Bashir do his tests. He expresses his very complex needs and desires...he wants to fight. Everyone. Except Odo, of course. I have to say, having Odo try to get someone *else* to crack a smile is some top-shelf irony.

Meanwhile, it's time for that dinner. Sisko has prepared an elaborate Creole meal. Mardah fills him in on her backstory, a “familiar” tragic tale of being orphaned by the Occupation. When she isn't pursuing underaged men or working the wheel, Mardah is also a writer of short stories, a reveal which breaks open a new dimension for Jake himself—he's an aspiring poet...um, and a hustler. Well, now we know why Jake was nervous to bring her home. Apparently, finding out that he doesn't know as much about his son as he thought warms Sisko to Mardah.

Okay, now we're going to have to have this talk. I'm a little reticent to return to the subject of sexism having just endured a backlash of fragile masculinity in the comment thread on “The House of Quark,” but I can't ignore what I believe to be a very disturbing plot playing out here. Imagine if Jake's and Mardah's genders were reversed. If a 20-year-old man with a tragic backstory used his sex appeal for his job and was dating Sisko's 16-year-old daughter, how would that come across in 1994? Now, sixteen is a very iffy age. It is true that sometimes, people mature very quickly and, in special circumstances, a 16-year-old would have the emotional maturity to engage in a consensual sexual/romantic relationship with someone who is 20. Maybe. But, first of all, what evidence is there that Jake is this kind of person? Jake was most recently described as still being at the age where he and his buddy drool over the women arriving on the station. Now, this is fine, but it certainly doesn't indicate that Jake is especially sexually mature. It indicates that he's a typical teenager. Second, Mardah's particular backstory indicates that *she* did have to grow up very quickly. So, while she may be 20 years old, she's been on her own for about seven years. This makes her more like a 25-year-old, in terms of emotional maturity. So, while the episode wants us to focus on Sisko's discomfort with the fact that Mardah's job (which may or may not be considered sex work, depending on whom you ask or who's writing the particular week's episode)--which I can get behind; Sisko should be taken to task for such attitudes—the actual problem here is that it's completely inappropriate for a sexually mature woman to be dating a teenager. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Mardah is a hebephile. If such behaviour is legal in the cave-religion culture of Bajor, it had *certainly* better not be so in the Federation.

I'm reminded of an episode of South Park called “Miss Teacher Bangs a Boy.” For those unfamiliar, Ike Broflosky (a kindergartener) has a sexual relationship with his teacher, a 30-something woman. The adult men of South Park react with horror over the idea of a teacher fucking a student right up until the genders of the child and teacher are revealed (oh, and that she's a hot blonde). A running gag where the men say “Nice,” to each other in response follows the story along right up through the farcical ending. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7SpXGz-XOc

Unfortunately, the DS9 writers here seem to have roughly the same attitude. It's okay that Jake is underage because he's deep and tortured or whatever, oh and of course a writer (projecting much?). This does Sisko's character no favours either. When Jake leaves the room in the scene, Sisko needs to say to Mardah:

“You seem like a lovely young woman, and I'm happy Jake has someone to share his talents with, but if you don't end your romantic relationship with my son immediately, you won't be writing stories or spinning Dabbo wheels, you'll be spending your best years behind a force field in Odo's prison. Do I make myself clear?”

***

Anyway, Miles and Odo discover a supply of the enzyme the Jem'Hadar needs amongst the debris. Odo theorises that the genetically-engineered addiction is a deliberate means the Founders use to ensure control over their soldiers.

My father used to work for a small American airline (now defunct). During the early days of the Iraq war, the military would sometimes contract this company to ship troops overseas. My father distinctly recalled that the soldiers would often be given medication shortly before landing, and he noticed a sharp change in their demeanour—more aggressive and hostile—after taking their pills.

Of course, we can also look to the well-documented cases of CIA experiments with chemical addiction and behaviour-manipulation, such as with LSD (https://www.history.com/mkultra-operation-midnight-climax-cia-lsd-experiments). This form of extreme immorality is signifier of decadent, corrupt societies, and rather succinctly characterises just what kind of people the Founders are or have become since creating the Dominion.

Bashir introduces the Jem'Hadar to the drug and it seems to stabilise him. Feeling better, the boy begs Odo to be allowed to spend more time with the shapeshifter. Odo acquiesces.

Act 4 : ****, 17%

In his quarters, Odo attempts to educate the Jem'Hadar (you know what...I'm sick of him not having a name. Let's call him Tosk2). Odo attempts to educate Tosk2 out of his genetic indoctrination. It's a paradox for him, because what seems to convince Tosk2 that his preconceptions about the inherent inequality between lifeforms is wrong, is the preconception that Odo *cannot* be wrong. Odo wants Tosk2 to recognise that Odo can be wrong, which would cast doubt on Odo's lessons. Odo replays the boarding scene from “The Search.” It's kind of funny that the production staff is repeating the same trick from “Encounter at Farpoint.” Oh no, this isn't episode footage, it's *security* footage. Right...

Odo sets Tosk2 up in a holosuite to give him the chance to fight holograms.

ODO: In here, you can indulge yourself. You can let your instincts take over, fight until you're ready to stop. But at a price. Out there you have to control yourself. You have to learn restraint. Learn how to live peacefully among other races regardless of how you may feel, learn to contain your feelings of aggression and violence.

This presents an interesting insight. Is Odo confessing that, on some level, this is how Odo himself copes with his existence? Are there natural or engineered instincts in Odo (like is desire for order/justice) which he must sublimate in order to live peacefully amongst solids? Is his career in law-enforcement so different from this holosuite programme? The broader, very Star Trek question is also implied: do we all, on some level, sublimate or natural instincts in order to abide the social contract, and is this a good thing? I would have to say that the answer is definitely “yes” to both questions. We must sacrifice total freedom (anarchy) for the common good. This is why we have laws against murder and abuse, why we should all pay taxes for social services, etc.

Tosk2 enjoys the programme and asks to have the difficulty increased further and further. Kira enters and pulls Odo aside for a talk. She doubts Odo's ability to control the violent lad for ever. Odo counters that he isn't trying to control him at all. Again, though, this isn't entirely true. Odo is trying to “programme” a different set of values—self-determination, peace, civility—over the ones the Founders already gave him. Kira's more concerned with the practical fallout. This Jem'Hadar is dangerous. When Odo points out to Kira that she herself has overcome her “programming” to be a terrorist, she lets up. This raises yet *another* interesting question (one we touched on in “Duet”) regarding whether Kira herself is able to overcome this programming.

Meanwhile, Tosk2 hasn't tired of his holosuite programme, or the fear and scrutiny with which the station-goers regard him. Tosk2 doesn't really seem to desire anything else from life.

Sisko calls Odo to his office to inform him that his delay with Starfleet has reached its limit and that Tosk2 will be relocated soon. The boy reveals that his cloaking abilities have fully matured as he emerges in Sisko's office and refuses to be taken away.

Act 5 : ***, 17%

Tosk2 has armed himself. He demands a runabout for himself and Odo. Odo plays along. On the way, the Constable desperately tries to convince the boy not to return to the Founders, even offering to abandon his own life on DS9 to explore the possibility of growing up far away from the Dominion AND Starfleet together. Tosk2 doesn't really have any internal conflict, though. His programming is all but total. All he wants is to be a loyal Jem'Hadar.

Odo convinces Sisko that if Tosk2 isn't permitted to return to the GQ, he will either kill a lot of innocent Starfleet scientists or be killed himself. I'm not sure I buy this reasoning—Odo is a shapeshifter and could pin Tosk2 down long enough to have him sedated. Starfleet could really use the information.

SISKO: When the Constellation arrives I'll tell them that I couldn't stop you from leaving, that I would've had to kill the boy to keep him here. Admiral Necheyev won't like that answer but it has the virtue of being the truth.

No, not really. You're still lying, commander. Odo is permitted to return Tosk2 to the GQ.

In the brief coda, Sisko tells O'Brien that he's letting Jake continue with Mardah, essentially, because he realises Jake is growing up. I already went on about this, so I will just add that I completely understand why Jake would want to date Mardah, but Mardah should not indulge an attraction to a teenager. And father of the year here should be thrown in jail for negligence.

Odo, on the other hand, admits to Kira that he was wrong. Tragically, there was never any real hope for the boy.

Episode as Functionary : **.5, 10%

The main story reminds me of TNG's “The Perfect Mate.” This tale isn't quite as complex, but it contains a similar paradox at the heart of the moral dilemma. This central question also poses a dozen follow-up questions, as we saw in Act 4, which is the best kind of sci-fi. The ending here is not only tragic, but quite sinister. While Tosk2's story is a little more simplistic than Jean Grey's—I mean Kamala's, the implications about the Founders, the Jem'Hadar and what the Federation will eventually be up against are disturbing. Before the Borg, the Federation's enemies all had their own internal moralities which presented terms for dialogue, and eventual peace or at least non-aggression. The Borg, operating purely on cold logic (it seems for now) presented a new kind of threat that could only be overcome through human guile and will, and at great cost. What will it take to defeat the Dominion, who have channelled their intense emotional loathing and distrust for others into a well-oiled empire of brain-washed super soldiers? Well, you could start by collapsing that wormhole. Any day now, guys.

While the main story is mostly 4-star material, I remain deeply disturbed by the B-plot. The character stuff for Jake pursuing poetry as a vocation is fine, and having Sisko discover the kind of man Jake is slowly becoming is good, but there is absolutely no excuse for condoning what is, in a very real sense, child-abuse on Mardah's part.

Final Score : ***
Robert
Wed, Sep 19, 2018, 8:21pm (UTC -6)
I sided against you on the last one so I'll agree with you here. Anything that is gross when you gender flip is gross. And if my girls bring home a college senior when they are HS seniors I'm getting out my Bat'Leth.
Chrome
Wed, Sep 19, 2018, 8:31pm (UTC -6)
@Robert

LOL, sounds like a plan.

My question on this one is, is Jake’s story supposed to be a metaphor for the young Jem’Hadar growing up too fast? It’s like I can almost see the parallels but I’m not sure the writers intended that. Otherwise I can’t really wrap my head around Jake suddenly getting this woman he doesn’t seem ready for.
Peter G.
Wed, Sep 19, 2018, 9:16pm (UTC -6)
I can't say the point about the age difference between Marta and Jake should be ignored, however I think this is a bridge too far:

"there is absolutely no excuse for condoning what is, in a very real sense, child-abuse on Mardah's part."

This strikes me as being a very recent and - in my opinion - shaky turn of events, to throw around words like "child abuse" and "rape" when dealing with relations between people who are both of legal age to have 'relations' (which may include various things). While I would admit to having concerns about a daughter (or son) of mine dating someone four years older, at the same time this is a dicey issue because it also depends on what sort of courtship this is. Are we talking about meeting in public and getting to know each other? Or are we talking about getting high and getting it on? And this isn't a trivial matter because some of these concerns may involve leveraging experience against someone too young and naive to protect themselves. But on the other hand it surely cannot be out of the question that people of four years age difference may really be right for each other. Jake is 16 - is that the sticking point? I can see a cutoff being needed, for sure. If he was 18 and she was 22 I doubt there would be any issue. And if he was 14 and she was 18 I guess it would look even worse. In America there are laws about statutory rape, but let's pretend those don't exist in the 24th century and there's a more advanced system to determine whether someone is being taken advantage of. So maybe we need to look at the particulars:

-Marta is 20. But despite Elliott's suggestion that being a war orphan means she may be *more mature* than average, I would argue it's equally likely she's less mature. Not having time to develop normally doesn't mean you develop faster; usually it means you don't develop at all. She might well be emotionally younger even than Jake. And when wondering why in the world she'd be into him (other than the "commander's son" angle) maybe this is part of it. Maybe she still feels more like a kid who had to do hard things.

-I suspect that by making her older the episode was deliberately trying to be progressive in depicting the reverse of what we normally expect in our age: the younger girl and older (college-age) guy. And in this case it's the father being protective of the son to an extent, rather than the "dad with shotgun" trope. And I'm pretty sure their intent was to show that Sisko was trying to be open to this rather than coming down hard on it; a second point in the "we want to be progressive" column. You can say what you want about the result, but there's no way it's sexist to reverse gender stereotypes and show the reverse situation as they did here.

-I'm a bit hesitant to accept the logic of this point as well:

" Jake was most recently described as still being at the age where he and his buddy drool over the women arriving on the station."

While we may well call this immature behavior, it's not the sort of immaturity that defines being a "child", as this same behavior can be seen in legal adults of all ages. I've seen 30 and 40 year olds do literally the same thing, and be far more crass and childish about it than Jake and Nog ever were. So should they morally be considered to be "children" and anyone who has sex with them is a child abuser? This is hyperbole, but only to show that this sort of thing can't really be used at all to assess whether a 16 year old is ready to have a relationship with a 20 year old. Aside from the fact that it would depend on many things, this is also the future and we don't know much about their views on sexual mores; at least, we don't assuming we ignore TNG S1-3, as I would suggest we do. But even now in New York you'll see very young women dating men 40 years their senior, and although this would make people in some areas upset over there in that liberal bastion it's considered normal and you're not supposed to say anything about it. Whether that's right or wrong, it seems like standards can change a lot, so it's not clear whether we should take it for granted that 16 is considered to be a "child". I wouldn't, and although when I watch the ep I grimace, sort of in sympathy with Sisko, it's less about just the age and more about the idea that Jake seems to have developed all of these traits under the radar. It's less about him being a child vs an adult, and more about SIsko's worries from Emissary being justified, that being raised on a crazy space station is going to affect someone, and probably in some negative or at least concerning ways. From that standpoint Jake probably *is* ready to date her, and that's actually the scary part for Sisko.

Still, the trope of "dad protecting teenage daughter" could have turned on its head in a different way than making the daughter a son. In some alternative universe where Jake was Jakette they might have featured her dating an older man and had SIsko been ok with it to turn the modern trope on its head. But they did it this way instead since there's no Jakette. Ah well.

Elliott
Thu, Sep 20, 2018, 3:21pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G

"This strikes me as being a very recent and - in my opinion - shaky turn of events, to throw around words like "child abuse" and "rape" when dealing with relations between people who are both of legal age to have 'relations' (which may include various things)."

Just curious, where are from? I don't know of any place in the developed world where a 16-year-old can consent to sex with a 20-year-old. In many places, teenagers can consent to sex with *each other*, but that's a different issue.

"You can say what you want about the result, but there's no way it's sexist to reverse gender stereotypes and show the reverse situation as they did here."

Okay, so you read the stereotype being flipped here as the "younger girl with over-protective daughter dates older guy" trope. I wouldn't be surprised if this was the writers' intention, but the reality is, regardless of which gender(s) either party is, it's fucking illegal. I'll level with you, when I was 15, I fell in love with a guy who was 19. Although my teenaged self was sure at the time that I managed to hide the relationship from my parents (for various reasons, as you can imagine), my mother is no fool. He dumped me, and I later found out that my mother sat him down and told him that she would be happy to support us being together once i had matured if that's what we both wanted, but in the moment, if he didn't break things off with me, she was going to inform the police. For me, this was adolescent heartbreak, which of course I got over. For the other guy, it was a wakeup call to be mindful of the burdens of being a young adult. And for my mother, she found a way to keep me safe without alienating me.

This is the heart of the issue, but it is furthered soured for me in this episode, because of comments like O'Brien's which clearly convey a sense of envy or admiration for teenaged Jake getting it on with someone who is an adult entertainer. Obviously, most straight teenaged boys would *fantasise* about such a situation, but having adults condone it is another matter. It's irresponsible at best.

Everybody is different. I don't preclude the possibility of Jake and Mardah being appropriate for each other, but the onus is on the episode to pass some very high thresholds to prove it. Mardah lives on her own. She supports herself. Her mature insight into Jake's character is part of what makes Sisko like her. Jake is still doing the 24th century equivalent of working at a fast-food restaurant (for God knows what reason). I find it very weird that you would seek to justify this relationship based on the idea that some men in their 30s and 40s have the sexual maturity of children. All that proves is that our society is still too tolerant of abusive, un-evolved behaviour, not that we should be *lowering* the bar.

**

As an aside: the scripts I'm following list her name as "Mardah," but I noticed most of you (and Jammer) spelling it "Marta." Not sure whence this discrepancy.
Robert Faulkner
Thu, Sep 20, 2018, 3:45pm (UTC -6)
@Chrome

I don't know if the writers intended that, but I do like that reading of it. Truthfully I don't think the writers intended it to be icky at all, but the ages are problematic. It might have worked better if she was 18. Older, more mature from being on her own, but not so old that we worry about Jake's ability to consent. I really don't think it would have changed the story at all if she was a drop younger.
mm
Thu, Sep 20, 2018, 10:37pm (UTC -6)
"Just curious, where are from? I don't know of any place in the developed world where a 16-year-old can consent to sex with a 20-year-old. In many places, teenagers can consent to sex with *each other*, but that's a different issue."

I do try to ignore Elliot, I really do. His ignorance of facts and his inconsistency is such a regular occurrence. Didn't I see him arguing about the horrors of "gender stereotyping" in the last few days, and then accused anyone who disagreed with him of having "toxic masculinity"?

But every now and then, I have to respond when he gets so obviously false. As in, a 30 second internet search shows he's wrong. Do such a search on the internet and you will find that 16 is not an uncommon age of consent in the developed world, including in several US states (a fair amount of Europe is actually below 16). And many places in the developed world that set it at 17 or 18 will often have a specific exception for people below that age who are within 4 years of their partner (which would include 16 & 20 year olds).

If you want a starting point here's a wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_consent Probably not up to date, but it will give you an idea.

It's almost as if Elliot's "facts" are mostly things he wants to be true & not things that are actually true.
wolfstar
Fri, Sep 21, 2018, 8:25am (UTC -6)
Superb post mm.

He doesn't have the EQ to debate the issues he raises. And he's latched on to the rhetorical framework of privilege, toxic masculinity etc. (note: I am not saying these aren't real things) not because he cares about social justice, but because it gives him a toolbox with which to bully people and shut down arguments with.
Bryan
Fri, Sep 21, 2018, 9:29am (UTC -6)
Not that I’m agreeing with Elliot’s argument in whole, but he’s right in the sense that a 20-year-old and a 16-year-old sleeping together is statutory rape in most states and most of Europe. These numbers presented in this episode aren’t coincidences; the writers purposely chose controversial ages to maintain the no one right, “shades of gray” aspect of the show.
Jason R.
Fri, Sep 21, 2018, 11:37am (UTC -6)
In Canada age of consent is 16.

I haven't researched this recently but my understanding is that in most first world countries including most States in the USA a 16 year old could legally be with a 20 year old or an 80 year old for that matter.

The sole exception would be in specific instances such as parent/child, brother/sister, or teacher/student.

I think mm is correct and Elliott is wrong.
Jason R.
Fri, Sep 21, 2018, 11:45am (UTC -6)
Speaking of age of consent laws and Europe, France recently voted down a law that would have set their AOC at *15*. Apparently they have no age of consent still, which is amazing. In Quebec it used to be 14, though no idea if that has changed.

So yeah. Not that a 20 yr old being with a 16 yr old isn't dubious mind you. But it wouldn't be illegal in most places.
Elliott
Fri, Sep 21, 2018, 11:47am (UTC -6)
Lol at this point I’m assuming that every time wolfsrar posts about my EQ, he gets a free small pizza.
Peter G.
Fri, Sep 21, 2018, 12:31pm (UTC -6)
@ Elliott,

I'm not an expert in consent laws across different countries and U.S. states, but suffice to say that I don't take many U.S. consent laws very seriously in terms of their being reasonable. We're talking about a country where certain states can hold a teenaged boy guilty of child pornography for having naked pictures of himself on his phone, or arresting teens for sexting their significant others. To whatever extent there have to be laws protecting minors some of it will be reasonable and other parts problematic, but I would by no means look to U.S. law as an indicator of morality, no less morality in the 24th century. As far as I'm concerned it's a total non-starter of a discussion to discuss modern U.S. consent law in the same sentence as what morals in the Federation would be.

"Okay, so you read the stereotype being flipped here as the "younger girl with over-protective daughter dates older guy" trope. I wouldn't be surprised if this was the writers' intention, but the reality is, regardless of which gender(s) either party is, it's fucking illegal."

Yes, that's what I think they were going for, and this is not a matter of modern law. It's a question of what human beings should be allowed to do without being threatened at the point of a gun. My point is to suggest that by flipping the gender roles in this scenario the writers are pointing out that things in the future will be more fluid and less traditional than we're used to. And I'm sure that includes consent issues. These are supposed to be more enlightened humans; maybe that means more mature as well.

"For me, this was adolescent heartbreak, which of course I got over. For the other guy, it was a wakeup call to be mindful of the burdens of being a young adult. And for my mother, she found a way to keep me safe without alienating me. "

I appreciate that your opinion comes from personal experience, and no doubt even in Sisko's case there is cause for real concern. That concern can cover many areas, including whether Jake is even safe with her at all, what her history is, whether Jake will get hurt, and so forth. But remember that shifting the age down (from 16 to 15, or likewise from 15 to 14) is going to incrementally make such a pairing less reasonable to justify, no doubt. But also remember that your personal experience may have occurred in a certain cultural arena where things are not nearly as safe as they potentially will be in the 24th century. As I mentioned above, there's a huge difference between whether this 'dating' is occurring in a culturally conservative setting with participation of the family and where the courtship is done all out in the open, or whether it's more of a meat-market situation where young men/women are just jumping into sexual scenarios with potentially questionable partners. If we take TNG S1-3's word for it this is a total meat market and a 16 year old had better watch him/herself. But if we consider people to be a bit more sexually responsible than Roddenberry would have had them (orgies galore!) then perhaps Jake and Mardah were really initiating an innocent getting-to-know you process. Given the undertones suggested about Jake in other respects I wonder whether this is really plausible, so would agree that if this is just Jake 'plunging in' with whomever attracts him that this is problematic even regardless of the age difference.

"Obviously, most straight teenaged boys would *fantasise* about such a situation, but having adults condone it is another matter. It's irresponsible at best."

This is a good point, and I wonder whether the modern notion of "hah! lucky guy" speaks to a real sense of what young men would enjoy and that the puritanical "uh, and oh yeah, it's wrong" afterthought is actually incorrect for some reason. Or maybe the vulgar "lucky dude" is problematic due to developmental etc etc. My hope is that in 400 years these matters are sorted out to satisfaction; right now there's a lot of "it's wrong!!" versus "no it's cool!!" and I don't see much real data backing it up that can be relied upon.

However I will note that I personally actually sympathize with your position and would prefer young people to be held to a higher standard of both protecting themselves and not taking casual dalliances for granted as just being fun. However it's another matter entirely to project my feelings into the future and suggesting that they will certainly agree with me; and it's even further from right to suppose that based on my feelings (or yours) there should be laws in place to ruin people's lives who don't agree with us. The U.S. does well enough jailing its own population without any help from us.

I don't want you to take my comments, btw, as outright condoning Jake/Mardah's relationship. My point rather is that I don't think it's right to invoke terms like "abuse" or "rape" in such cases as this where our need for artificial defining lines ends up creating distinctions that don't actually exist in the reality of the situation.
Elliott
Fri, Sep 21, 2018, 12:59pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G

Thanks for that. I too believe in a liberated sexual philosophy and think that American attitudes about sex are totally screwy. I also teach people Jake’s age, and am very sensitive development and legal concerns over appropriate behaviour. I think what this discussion has revealed to me is that my own reaction to the relationship demonstrates that the show has not effectively demonstrated that Jake is ready to consent to it. Maybe this was the writers’ attempt to grow him up so they could do better stories with the character. At this point, Jake still reads as a child, and that makes things really uncomfortable.
Peter G.
Fri, Sep 21, 2018, 1:30pm (UTC -6)
@ Elliott,

"I think what this discussion has revealed to me is that my own reaction to the relationship demonstrates that the show has not effectively demonstrated that Jake is ready to consent to it."

What I realized is that the writers were going for a "Jake is growing up" B-story along with a "and look how we flip genders" toss-in, and my only issue with it is that it's little more than a toss-in. To whatever extent Sisko does learn more about Mardah we do see how it's not just as simple as their age difference, but much more hay is made about how she's a real person and not a "sex worker" than about any discussion about sexual responsibility or morality. As such I think they didn't take the situation as seriously as was warranted and only focused on a sort of folksy aspect of it. However even if this does mean they didn't justify what was portrayed, I also don't think there's evidence to show it *was not* justified. They didn't didn't give it enough attention or detailing for us to be sure or really learn anything from it.

I have to admit that having watched this one umpteen times, it never occurred to me to even take the Jake/Mardah situation all too seriously, and that's a writing problem right there. It's just not interesting or engaging enough to function as a moral problem to solve, certainly doesn't suggest any answers, and comes off more as filler than anything else. To the extent that they're invoking an issue that is non-trivial for a young person to experience, this really shouldn't have been filler and so the result is lackluster and - ironically - not shocking or even interesting. Considering their (IMO) obvious attempt to be progressive, they ended up instead sort of saying not much at all. And this is partly why I think it's an overbid to suggest that anything highly immoral is being portrayed. Frankly I don't think that much of anything is being portrayed...
Peter G.
Fri, Sep 21, 2018, 1:35pm (UTC -6)
Oh, and just for the record, I would like to disentangle this -

"I too believe in a liberated sexual philosophy"

which I was not exactly voicing, from this -

"and think that American attitudes about sex are totally screwy."

which I definitely do agree with. To whatever extent I may disagree with the current sexual philosophy as seen in the U.S., I also would be strongly in opposition to Roddenberry's vision of it. I mention that as a disclaimer, but in general I prefer to address what's in the episodes rather than discuss my personal beliefs on such matters.
Elliott
Fri, Sep 21, 2018, 3:49pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G

Fair enough. You and I seem to have different opinions regarding authorial intent/auteurship, etc. The episode "The Child," for example is intended to be about exploring the nature of humanoid life, and the unintended consequences/dangers of exploration. The writers were not *intending* to write a screed against women that would make a 4chan poster blush, but that doesn't excuse them of the result. They needed to have the alien life-form be born, grow up and die, so whatever, have Ilia/Troi get pregnant by space rape, then have the pregnancy happen really quickly and with no pain or permanent physical damage so we can just gloss over the fact that the only female main character to survive season 1 has been transformed into and involuntary human incubator (to borrow a phrase). For me, regardless of what the intention of the script was, it's completely ruined by the negligence on the writers' parts to realise what it was they were implying with their script. A similar problem exists for me here with the Jake/Mardah stuff, although it's not nearly as offensive or ruinous. They wanted to make such and such point (the sex-worker stuff) and failed to notice the implications of their story on another front.
William B
Sat, Sep 22, 2018, 9:37am (UTC -6)
You know, I see the different points people are making. But here's another point: what if Jake shouldn't date Mardah, not because he's too young, but because the power imbalance is tilted too much in *Jake*'s favour? Elliott points out that Jake reads as too young, and that's maybe what his central problem is, and I agree -- it does seem like Jake is "too young" to really feel like he should be dating an adult. However, as Peter points out, Mardah may actually be "younger than her age" in terms of maturity/development, because of her trauma. And then that raises a sort of broader question about what Jake and Mardah's lives have been like. Both have suffered tragedy and danger -- Mardah's case is obvious, but let's recall that Jake lost his mother in one of the largest massacres in Starfleet history, has moved to a dangerous station and has had to pilot a Runabout away from the vicious foot soldiers of an expansionistic evil empire. But the difference is that Jake basically has some degree of Federation protections, and Mardah doesn't. So Mardah works as a dabo girl, and part of the point here is that it's not bad to be a dabo girl (stripper, etc.), she's saving money for college, whatever. And I agree that one shouldn't be judgmental of Mardah, but the question is whether it's reasonable that her options are so limited that she has to do a job where she's ogled for a living or, I dunno, starve maybe. I am more than willing to de-canonize Profit and Lace, but if we do accept it on board, Quark may well require sexual favours as part of his contract. Jake not only doesn't have to do those things, but is also, let's emphasize, the son of *the commander of the station* where Mardah lives, who is also *her Emissary*, who is also the primary point of contact between Bajor and the Federation. That's tremendous potential power for Jake to wield over her, one which it would require a huge amount of adult maturity for the two of them to be able to manage. I mean, Sisko could easily make or break Mardah depending on whether he likes her or not, and while we should assume that he's too ethical to do that sort of thing, it's hard to know exactly whether the Bajorans in general and Mardah in particular can have that level of trust. Elliott's suggestion that Sisko might put her in a holding cell for the rest of her life for what might well be totally legal actually underscores this; Sisko in this case isn't just a dad looking out for his son, but someone who holds responsibility for the entirety of the lives on the station, and the whole of Mardah's people.

Which again, isn't actually a problem if Mardah is fully an adult who has the maturity to recognize what her rights are and should be, and if she can trust Jake and Sisko can be trusted to deal with her fairly. But what if the reason Mardah presents as being mature is because she has to in order to survive, and inside she's basically still a traumatized child, who learned early on to use her sexual attractiveness as a bartering tool? In this case, Jake is clearly the one in this relationship holding all the cards.

To be clear, I'm not saying this interpretation is at all the case. I guess what I'm saying is, the situation is actually potentially really complex and I think any read that goes beyond what is actually discussed requires some degree of guesswork, and guesswork which, given the realities of their universe, is really difficult to pin down. I think most likely we should just think they didn't really accomplish showing anything at all, as Peter says.
RandomThoughts
Fri, Dec 7, 2018, 3:33am (UTC -6)
Hello Everyone!

@Elliott

I also read her has Mardah, but I think the way they pronounced it during filming just made it sound "Marta", and that is how it was written later. I heard "Marta".
---
For me, I just thought they'd never had sex. Goofy 16-year-old and 20-year-old. Yes, they were dating, and we know that because the show told us. That doesn't mean they were getting frisky when The Sisko was working. They never said they did, and I don't recall they implied it either.

I actually thought the age difference wasn't what made The Sisko the most uncomfortable (although I think he mentions it, it's been around a year since I watched it and am not in a hurry to go back (looked at a transcripts page)), it was that she was a Dabo Girl. I took that as his biggest gripe.

*after looking at a transcript* HIs first mention of the age:

SISKO: Quark may call her a dabo girl but she's twenty years old. She's a woman and Jake's a sixteen year old boy. It has to stop.

But then:

SISKO: She's a dabo girl and she's dating my son. I don't want to like her.

From back to the original watch until now, I thought the emphasis was on her simply being a Dabo Girl.

I still don't get the impression they were having "relations".

As always, these comments on a fictional show may or may not reveal any actual thoughts I had. Your mileage may vary...

Regards... RT

P.S.: O'BRIEN: Sixteen years old and dating a dabo girl. Godspeed, Jake.

P.P.S.: I think sometimes we really, really look at these episodes too closely. I won't touch HoQ with anyones ten-foot-pole, let alone mine...

P.P.P.S.: Many thanks to http://www.chakoteya.net/StarTrek/index.html for the transcript page
Springy
Tue, Dec 11, 2018, 4:35pm (UTC -6)
Watching and commenting:

--A good start, except young, young Jake with that dabo girl, a little uncomfy-making. I like how Quark looks to the heavens to say "no, no, no," when finding the baby.

--What a cute baby. Jake and the gambler seduced by dabo girl, Quark seduced by the Captain selling him the goods, Sisko seduced by baby-cuteness.

--Ummm, baby not so cute anymore. Makes me think of the Ocampans from Voyager, with the rapid aging. Also that shell the baby was in makes me think of Superman.

--Godspeed, Jake. :)

--Kira being very nice and sweet to Odo. She's not trying to seduce him, but she is trying to loosen him up.

--A plant growing from the bucket; a child growing in the infirmary. Odo identifying with the orphan.

--Mardah is also an orphan. And very pretty.

--This is a pretty nasty Jem' Hadar kid.

--How did the kid know what Sisko was talking about with Odo (that the starship was on its way in 5 hrs), and how did he appear in Sisko's office like that??

--So Odo's come home, after learning there are some characteristics you cannot change in people. There's always growth and change, but there's also the unchangeable. Odo learns lessons about his "kid," and Sisko learns lessons about his own kid.

You can impact others, seduce them, prod them, teach them, provoke growth and change - but not everything is knowable or changeable by external influences.

The End.

An average ep. Not particularly spectacular or significant, but a good offering.
Springy
Tue, Dec 11, 2018, 5:54pm (UTC -6)
Ah, I see in Elliott's comments that the Jem' Hadar use some sort of cloaking . . . ah, sure, yes, I see. That's how the kid speed up so suddenly and knowledgeable in Sisko's office. I spaced on that one.

Mardah and Jake have only a four year difference; it's only mildly unsettling because Jake seems even younger to me, and she seems a little older. I mean, Jake sounds like his voice is still cracking. She looks 25. Ultimately, he is "old enough," and she's not in any power or trust position over him. So, yes, Godspeed, Jake.

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