Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"The Begotten"

3 stars

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

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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123 comments on this post

Tue, Mar 17, 2009, 11:29pm (UTC -6)
I agree, by giving Odo his powers back, they kinda made his time as a solid meaningless. What did Odo or the show really gain out of it? And the magical gift by a dying changeling baby seemed waaaaaaaay out there. At the very least, shouldn't Odo be infected with the same disease?
Wed, Jul 22, 2009, 8:00pm (UTC -6)
I would bet that every woman watching this was thinking "what a crock" regarding how easily Kira gave birth. All that palaver with the incense and bells etc and not a twinge throughout the whole thing. Yeah, right. Bajorans would appear to be more or less physiologically similar to humans. Unless their anatomy 'down there' is radically different, having a baby would not be the doddle it is for Bajoran women either.

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

Wish she had given birth off-screen. I enjoyed the main storyline, but the B story was just awful.
Mon, Aug 24, 2009, 12:30am (UTC -6)
I love this episode, a lot, just for the father-son dynamic between Odo and Mora. I'd give it 4 stars, although I agree with Jammer about Odo's 'punishment' from the Founders being a little too short lived.

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

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

Get over it. :P
Sun, Mar 7, 2010, 9:50pm (UTC -6)
Apparently, the writers thought that after half a season they would have run out of story material for Odo as a humanoid, but they later regretted changing him back so soon. Maybe in the early sixth season the Female Changeling could have changed him back as an incentive to return home?

I wish Shakaar had appeared in "Rapture" instead of this episode, it would have made the B-story less intrusive.
Sat, Feb 5, 2011, 10:02pm (UTC -6)
So was the Bashir in this episode really Bashir, or was it the changeling...two episodes later we discover that Julian has been held at a Dominion prison camp for a month. How do the stardates play out?
Mon, Oct 10, 2011, 7:21pm (UTC -6)

Jay, yes, the real Julian Bashir was kidnapped before "Rapture" (judging by the uniform he is wearing in the Internment Camp), which means that the Bashir we see in "Rapture", "The Darkness and the Light" and "The Begotten" is his Changeling replacement.
Sat, Oct 15, 2011, 8:25pm (UTC -6)
I'm no doctor, but if the baby was ready to be born, but then Kira couldn't deliver because of outside stimuli, it's a bit irresponsible and risky to the fetus to wait as much as a few more weeks just to indulge Kira wanting to do it naturally rather than going to Bashir...the very presence of the fetus in Kira means the ship has sailed on natural.
Sat, Oct 15, 2011, 8:50pm (UTC -6)
Okay, since its chronologically clear that the Bashir in this episode is actually a changeling, nad from what we know of changelings, I find it very difficult to believe that "Bashir" would tolerate the experimentation done on this changeling. I suppose it would be concerned with keeping its cover for now, but I think at the least that "Bashir" would link with it and educate it, perhaps even cure it. That "Bashir" stood by and let it die seemed out of place too.
Wed, Nov 2, 2011, 1:39am (UTC -6)
Bashir's new uniform was in the washing machine so he wore one of his old ones.
Mon, Dec 19, 2011, 2:36am (UTC -6)
@ people commenting about Bashir being changeling, NOT during this episode. If you listened to the conversation in the beginning of the episode "in purgatory's shadow" they were talking about how the baby was 1 month old. Therefore this Bashir in this episode is the REAL one. The switch didn't happen until after this episode.
Wed, Mar 28, 2012, 12:46pm (UTC -6)
@ Steve,

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

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

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

It's a theory, anyway.
Sat, Nov 10, 2012, 12:11pm (UTC -6)
Just about everyone in the birth storyline was an a**hole, except perhaps for Miles. Kira wanting to have the baby in the Bajoran way no matter what, when the baby isn't even hers, and Keiko acquiescing to it, and Shakaar making like he had more business being there than Miles did, and the frumpy, obnoxious midwife, the whole situation struck me as medically insane, especially when they nonchalantly announce that, because of the squabbling, the clearly fully developed and ready to be born baby will have to spend more days, or weeks!(recalling that the entire gestation of a Bajoran pregnancy was already stated to be just five months) locked in a womb, and Keiko doesn't even raise a concern as to how that might traumatize her child. I was in utter disbelief at it all...
Tue, Mar 5, 2013, 11:33pm (UTC -6)
This is one of my favorite episodes. Hiccups aside, seeing Odo and Mora finally come to terms with their shared past made everything worth it.

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

Also, against the grain, I rather LIKED Kira's birth scene. It's a refreshing change from the typical cliche screaming and panic in a medical setting. She did something akin to hypnobirthing. :)
Thu, Oct 24, 2013, 9:46pm (UTC -6)
One of the better Odo episodes.

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

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

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

The last scene where Mora hugs Odo and expresses that he still wants Odo in his life was really heartbreakingly touching.
Wed, Feb 26, 2014, 8:44pm (UTC -6)
I completely agree that giving away spoilers in a comments section for the show in question is generally not the best idea.

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

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

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

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

3.5 stars.
Fri, Feb 28, 2014, 7:22pm (UTC -6)
Great episode! Such an emotional set of stories!
Rob L
Fri, Mar 14, 2014, 12:36am (UTC -6)
I'm with Jons, I love to read these reviews and comments after watching DS9 (for the first time) sequentially, and it really hurts. It is not hard to write "SPOILER" and then hit enter twice...
Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 7:12am (UTC -6)

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


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

As a fan of ST and, especially, DS9...I welcome newcomers to the franchise. I think its fantastic warts and all. I wish nothing but the best possible viewing experience. Nevertheless, entering into a public forum and not expecting a spoiler is naïve at best.
Thu, May 8, 2014, 2:40pm (UTC -6)
Still, it would be nice if one could at the very least give proper warning first, maybe some sort of spoiler tag... It's a common courtesy on many other forums. And while, yes, the point is valid that the show ended a decade and a half ago, and most of these later comments probably fall on deaf ears, there's also the fact that many new people are being exposed to the old shows thanks to the entire franchise now being accessible on Netflix. And, considering the new power Netflix has showcased in revitalizing old shows (see: Arrested Development... I know, I know... and the upcoming season 8 of Trailer Park Boys), maybe (and this is a big maybe) we'll finally see a new Trek that isn't entirely a watered-down action film series. Amusingly enough, I'm only here because of a series of events that started with the 2009 reboot and left me wanting more. Also, I like to read the comments when I have the episode fresh in my mind, even if sometimes means being exposed to info I'd rather have missed. It's kind of an addiction.

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

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

3 stars.
Fri, Jun 27, 2014, 3:44pm (UTC -6)
@Destructor: Easy with the spoilers dude!
Mon, Jul 7, 2014, 1:11am (UTC -6)
Seems to me the Bashir changeling could have birthed a batch of changeling or brought a container of chilled raw changeling and set it on its course to be found by Odo. The supposed infant changeling could have even engineered its own journey to DS9, it's purpose to give Odo his changeling powers back.

Otherwise, every which way I could have felt about this episode seems to be covered in the above comments
Mon, Aug 11, 2014, 11:28am (UTC -6)
I enjoyed this one. Rene does a fine job.

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

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

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

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

3 stars.
Thu, Sep 11, 2014, 12:21am (UTC -6)
At the risk of seeming lazy, I agree with Jammer's review completely. A good episode for Odo that includes some very, very nice moments for him and Dr. Mora. I especially like his scene with Quark, who comes off very nicely here and seems genuinely happy for Odo.

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

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

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

Anyway, I love this episode more than an objective analysis can explain. 3 stars as a 40-minute episode of TV, but a very warm chapter of the series as a whole whose value can't really be quantified.
Thu, Oct 16, 2014, 3:13am (UTC -6)
It does seem like the writers sort of chickened out at the prospect of keeping Odo a solid for the duration of the show. But seriously, who wants to see Odo live out the rest of series as a solid? It seems to me that the more interesting possibilities exist in Odo remaining a shape-shifter in light of what's coming down the road.

As much as the twist end was a little suspect, I found the fact that the changelings turned Odo into a being with working organs, bones, nerves and skin the ridiculous plot point. What are the changelings, magic? Sentient shape-shifting beings are already stretching credulity for a science fiction show. Lovely episode though.
Thu, Oct 16, 2014, 8:09am (UTC -6)

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

It just makes one wonder about the writers room. At times they seem to just switch gears on stories without mining their scenarios for all they're worth. I'm not sure if it's because there was studio meddling, or they didn't know how else to treat the story, or they just got interested in following another character thread, or something else entirely. Plot twists need to be earned. Odo is still a great character, but him getting his abilities back so unexpectedly like this is the first of two huge missed opportunities with his character on the series.
Tue, Nov 25, 2014, 4:47pm (UTC -6)
My brain just can't put together "I like seeing new people watching the show" and "it's normal to spoiler anything and everything in the comment section of a non-spoilerous review", and especially comparing it to clicking ads on the internet. It's just a contraddiction, is all.

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

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

This was not a real heavy episode but I truly enjoyed it.
Sun, Jul 12, 2015, 4:48am (UTC -6)
I like this episode, but two things:

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

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

As for Odo's turning back to a Changling: I never really got how the Founders were able to change him to a "solid" in the first place, so why not have his change back be as mystifying :)
Mon, Jul 13, 2015, 8:38am (UTC -6)
@Teejay - For the record, I'm not 100% sure that the Founders have to regenerate the same way as Odo. It'd certainly be inconvenient if Gowron needed Martok at 3:00 AM and he was a puddle.

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

So my guess is that the just locked him into a set of shapes that were so perfect and then prevented him from getting out of them. The other changeling "linked" with him and somehow that broke him out of it. That part may be more of a mystery though.
Fri, Jul 24, 2015, 8:37am (UTC -6)
Loved one storyline, hated the other.

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

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

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

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

This is obviously wishful thinking, but had Kira and Keiko been men, then in the previous episode given that Kira is doing such a huge favour to Keiko, Keiko could have taken on Kira's mission as the 'surrogate' avenger - of course none of this can happen since their dynamic fizzles out, while Miles/Shakaar can have great tension in 3 seconds of screentime because it's so obvious how 'men' will fight for their rights etc etc.
Fri, Jul 24, 2015, 10:57am (UTC -6)
^^ I'll go one better and say that except for maybe MAYBE a scene or two here and there Keiko has never been all that great on both TNG and DS9. ^^

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

The Odo story in this episode is very well-done.
Sat, Jul 25, 2015, 5:53am (UTC -6)
@ Robert:

That's actually not a bad way to look at it. Thanks for the insight!
Nathan B.
Tue, Aug 4, 2015, 10:40am (UTC -6)
As a resident "newbie" when it comes to DS9, I want to say that I have *NO* expectation about not finding spoilers here on a show that is so many years old. Furthermore, I'd have no such expectation on any public forum. As for the comments here, they are much of what makes Jammer's review site so special. The odd little spoiler increases my enjoyment by giving me something to look forward, too.

Regarding Jammer's comments on Odo getting his shape-shifting powers back, it seemed a little too easy for me, too. But Odo's time as a human was important in his character development. He softened up a bit, and he learned more about love.
Nathan B.
Tue, Aug 4, 2015, 10:42am (UTC -6)
Not sure what happened with the auto-correct there: "something to look forward to."
Fri, Jan 1, 2016, 4:46pm (UTC -6)
I agree with nearly everyone that the A-story was really strong.

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

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

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

As to the B-story, just be happy Kira's comedy pregnancy is finally over.
William B
Mon, Jan 11, 2016, 10:38am (UTC -6)
Echevarria's very first Trek script was "The Offspring," and that episode was foremost in my mind throughout this episode. It's very different, of course, but Odo's bond with the changeling baby is the same kind of outsider-reevaluates-his-own-life-through-his-"child" tale, along with the continual questioning of his abilities to *be* a parent, that made "The Offspring" click. "The Begotten" is not quite as good, I think, for a few reasons, though it's also in some respects more polished. Structurally, Dr. Mora is somewhere between Picard and Haftel -- the authority who questions Odo's capability as a parent, and who has his own plans about how best to raise it. One of the key insights that this episode expands on is Data's observation that seeing Lal learn teaches him new things, and reacquaints him with what he takes for granted, as happens with parenting; this episode takes its time showing Odo telling the changeling baby what it means to take on different shapes, and he expresses here some of the experience of what it's like to take on and hold different shapes. When he talks about these joys, it is as if it is the first time Odo can truly appreciate even for himself what it means to be a changeling. By abstracting the key developments of childhood into "can this changeling hold geometric shapes?" it also allows the audience to see the joys of seeing an infant learn through new eyes. I can't think of many moments in the series more joyous than Odo and Mora's ecstasy as the infant takes on a new shape, punctuated by Odo letting his own barriers down with Mora and Quark afterward. He could not appreciate his changeling nature when he was a changeling because he was the only one; he cannot help but know what he has lost now; but now he can experience the joys for real, albeit second-hand.

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

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

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

3.5 for the Odo plot, 1.5 or something for the subplot, but the subplot takes up less time and is easy to ignore. 3 overall.
Diamond Dave
Thu, Jan 21, 2016, 4:00pm (UTC -6)
Baby week on DS9. There's a real emotional core to this episode, and Odo's repaired relationship with Dr Mora is something of a highlight as it takes a sympathetic course to mutual respect between the two. The final scene with Odo and Kira reflecting on their loss is also a standout.

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

'The Offspring' did this idea much better. “Constable, why are you talking to your beverage?” indeed. 2.5 stars.
Wed, May 4, 2016, 11:23pm (UTC -6)
Like "The Darkness and the Light", "The Begotten" is a very well acted, character-heavy outing that has serious flaws.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The problem with all of this, however, is that it's all fan fiction. There's nothing wrong with fan fiction but it has no bearing on the episode itself. If "The Begotten", or later episodes, had given some indication or subtext that all of this was going on right under the audience's noses, it wouldn't be a problem. But, we have to come up with our own rationalizations for what happened because the writers dropped the ball. That's why I hold the retconned continuity against the episode.
Joey Lock
Tue, Jul 19, 2016, 8:28pm (UTC -6)
I enjoyed this episode, I didn't have any real problems with it except the Kira arc, it felt rushed and like a "backstory" that fitted in at the end when Odo and Kira can relate to losing something they loved etc Because to be fair Shakar in this episode acted like a fool, it may be his girlfriend but it's O'Briens child she is carrying, that by default gives him the right to see his childs birth, besides its not as if O'Brien was gonna try "take a peek" under Kira's cover seeing as he previously mentioned he helped her out the bathtub a few times so its not like hes unfamiliar with her.

But the Odo/Mora parts were great, the way they both intiailly took a pop at each other with snide remarks was realistic of a Father-Son relationship where both have too much pride to admit the other one has a point. I'm glad in the end they finally came to terms with their relationship, also despite others views on the Changeling being an excuse to just give Odo his powers back, I think that was more of a convenient event rather than being solely based around it because Odo's exploration into fatherhood and dealing with his own Father-Son relationship with Dr Mora and his time as a humanoid helped open up Odo a bit more instead of being a constantly rigid workaholic.
Fri, Aug 19, 2016, 1:52pm (UTC -6)
Don't have much more new to add. But didn't see anyone comment on the fact that Quark sold Odo a sentient being. Dr. Mora should have had them both arrested for it and take custody of the changeling child.
Thu, Sep 29, 2016, 10:18pm (UTC -6)
Shakar is a dick. OB should have knocked his lights out or something. They really do make the Chief too passive at times and writing his wife to tell Miles to get out was a disgrace. He missed the birth of his first child, Keiko should have demanded Shakar get his ass out of there if he is going to be a dickhead because Miles needs to witness this. Just stupid writing.

The realization in Odo that Mora's methods were honest and genuine was very touching, I really liked that part. It was an understanding from a son that his father meant well, after basically hating him for decades. I would have liked to have seen another follow up episode on their relationship because they could have brought in even more depth to what I feel is a great story to tell.

As for Odo getting his shapeshifting back. I do think that was necessary at some point because I really liked the season 6 opening arc where he got lost in linking and "forgot" about his job to help. (although they forgave him way too easily). However, I think this should have happened right at the end of season 5 in some other technobabble way (maybe an adult rogue changeling spy reveals himself and helps him.. who knows, you can write anything). I don't like that this baby gave it back to him after only half a season. it lessened the impact of the death of the changeling and I think that made the story less serious than it should have been.
Sat, Oct 8, 2016, 2:55pm (UTC -6)
I found the Odo plot very moving. Contrary to what Jammer said in his review, what I remember from watching this episode more than a decade ago is the baby changeling trying to make Odo's face.

I also really liked the last scene between Odo and Kira. I was glad that the writers didn't cheat about what it means to give up a baby you have carried, and I thought the closeness between Odo and Kira was just right.
David Pirtle
Thu, Nov 24, 2016, 7:57pm (UTC -6)
I was a bit disappointed that Sisko would threaten Odo on Starfleet's behalf, and I'm doubly disappointed that Odo would give in to such threats and allow Mora to conduct procedures he believed to be distressing to the child-changeling in order to get faster results. None of that seemed in-character.
Paul Allen
Thu, Dec 29, 2016, 7:39pm (UTC -6)
Great Odo plot, terrible Kira plot.

Loved the Odo ending, was good to see his grief somewhat counterbalanced, and seeing him turn into a Tarkalean hawk was fantastic. :)
Thu, Feb 2, 2017, 3:31pm (UTC -6)
Superb Odo plot and character development. One thing that bothers me is the continuous hipocrisy of the Founders. They sent out a hundred defensless baby changelings to evaluate how the solids would treat them. In Odo's case, he was found helpless by the solids and allowed to fully develop and take his place in society. And yet, the Founders are hell bent on destroying the solids anyway. Seems like nothing can change their minds, so why send defensless members of your own species you apparently care so much about into unknown space?
Sat, Feb 18, 2017, 11:28pm (UTC -6)
Fuck destructor comments for giving away a major spoiler
Thu, Apr 20, 2017, 1:25am (UTC -6)
This episode is a gem. Amazing acting from Dr. Mora and Odo, and a very believable, raw chemistry between the two men. My favourite scene was the one where the infant Changeling attempted to mimic Odo's head, the look of sheer wonder on Odo's face, and the fond proudness of Dr. Mora in the background.

I liked the idea that the infant Changeling didn't really die, but rather lived on through Odo, and that his first action as being part of Odo was to turn into a Tarkalian hawk. Very nice touch.
Wed, May 10, 2017, 6:38pm (UTC -6)
Odo has been eating and drinking.

Then he turns into an eagle.

We see his clothes drop as he shapeshifts.

What happened to his bowel contents? Did he keep them inside the bird? If so, 1) gross, 2) how did he fit a human's full day's worth of poop inside that small bird?
Sun, May 14, 2017, 4:45pm (UTC -6)
Gooz I love the way you think.

But how do you know there wasn't a massive, steaming turd left behind inside the crumpled heap of his uniform?
Tue, Jun 20, 2017, 6:18am (UTC -6)
While Odo feeling resentful towards his "father" is understandable it seems that the situation had to get to the point that the "baby changeling" nearly had to die and Odo truly expressing his love for it before finally changing for the better. Interesting that the seemingly trivial B-plot involved the birth of a baby...
Thu, Jun 22, 2017, 11:50am (UTC -6)
I saw very few episodes of DS9 during its original run and I probably wouldn’t be watching now if it wasn’t part of the ST block of shows presently on H&I, and if I wasn’t able to read the comments here. It’s pretty mind-blowing (and enjoyable) how the very same episode of ST can have totally opposite effects on viewers. And I sorta like the spoilers—or maybe just the enthusiasm of the commenters.

When Odo was telling the baby changeling about the joys of taking the various shapes, I wondered if Odo had better appreciation of being a changeling, now that he couldn’t be one. And when Sisko announced that, if results weren’t timely enough, Starfleet would take the changeling, I thought, can Starfleet just do that? With a sentient being, even if it is a changeling? Odo would be okay with that and allow it and not fight against it?

SISKO: Why would the Founders send such helpless creatures out into space?
ODO: To find out if the species they encountered posed any threat. What better way to gauge another race than to see how it treats the weak and vulnerable?

But I’m wondering if it was also somehow used to assess if other species would be vulnerable to a takeover.

Mora said Odo’s shape-shifting was somewhat limited. And I’m thinking maybe it was because Odo had Mora for a teacher, and because of the experiments Mora put him through. But even if so, Mora didn’t initially know what or who he was dealing with. It was good that Odo recognized the debt that he owed Mora, and that the two reconciled.

In his celebration with Quark, Odo said that now it wasn’t so bad being a solid any more. So I’m wondering if it was because being a solid was no longer such a punishment, and that Odo had a newer appreciation for the Changelings, if that was what allowed him to change back. Or maybe it was because for the very first time he’d experienced unconditional, unselfish love. Then again, all that seems too hokey. But during that first flight off the balcony, he certainly seemed to have found a better joy in being a Changeling than ever before.
Thu, Jun 22, 2017, 12:09pm (UTC -6)
"Sisko announced that, if results weren’t timely enough, Starfleet would take the changeling, I thought, can Starfleet just do that? With a sentient being, even if it is a changeling? Odo would be okay with that and allow it and not fight against it?'

Typically, I don't think Starfleet could do it, but the Federation probably considered any non-Odo changeling a POW at that point in the series. Though, you're right that there's some uneven treatment. "Laas" in "Chimera" is strictly under Odo's custody until a homicide is committed. It kind of makes you wonder if Starfleet has lower standards for sentient being-rights for incomplete beings (like they do with Androids, as seen in TNG).

However, it really seems dependent of the degree of Federation security needed. Hugh, the Borg on TNG for example, was immediately taken into custody and treated as a POW and then a walking bomb. Although Picard softened in the end, Nacheyiv later makes it clear that Starfleet would've gone forward with walking bomb route, because of the Borg level of security risk.
Thu, Jun 22, 2017, 3:28pm (UTC -6)
Chrome, wasn’t Hugh the Borg a member of the collective that had been assimilating other species? Obviously he’d fit the category of POW. This Changeling was a baby, essentially a blank page who had done nothing wrong. It was only wanted by Starfleet because of its species. Yeah, I get how dangerous it might be, one day, and why Starfleet would want to keep tabs on it. But to threaten to take the changeling, is something else. (And without an offer of reimbursement too!) And it sort of annoyed me that apparently Odo didn’t even think about giving the changeling a name. And Odo and Mora kept referring to the changeling as it. And so I have to as well.

I haven’t seen Chimera yet. But I thought this episode harkened back to The Abandoned in S3, about the Jem’Hadar that Odo raised, and no matter what Odo did, the Jem’Hadar seemed preprogrammed by the genetics of his species. Though Odo hasn’t turned against humans, I wouldn’t assume that this changeling would necessarily follow Odo’s lead. Starfleet is right to be watchful. Beyond that, I guess I can’t comment since it didn’t happen.
Thu, Jun 22, 2017, 6:20pm (UTC -6)

"Chrome, wasn’t Hugh the Borg a member of the collective that had been assimilating other species? Obviously he’d fit the category of POW. This Changeling was a baby, essentially a blank page who had done nothing wrong."

Yes, and the Changelings were at one time all part of the great link. But, Hugh was also a youth and he had no control over his actions, so I think he's just as innocent as a stray Changeling.
Fri, Jun 23, 2017, 10:52am (UTC -6)
Chrome, it’s probably been over 20 years since I’ve seen an episode with Hugh the Borg. I’d forgotten his youth and much of the circumstances of his initial interaction with the Enterprise. A lot could be said about Hugh—over 100 comments on “I, Borg” alone. But given the situation, proper precautions needed to be taken when he was first beamed onto the Enterprise, and they were.

And pretty much the same could be said for the baby changeling: as long as Odo continued to take responsibility for it, and it was in a place where its life signs were continually monitored by the computer, proper precautions were being taken and I think it would have been premature for Starfleet to take custody of it.

In the “The Abandoned” episode, Odo had lobbied for Starfleet to give the young Jem’Hadar a chance to develop into something other than an aggressive being. In this episode, Odo makes no such pleas or arguments. Either it was ground the writers didn’t want to cover again, or Odo learned something from his earlier experience.

Now at the time that Sisko issued his statement about Starfleet, Odo had yet to have any result from his efforts. One would assume that after the baby changeling began responding to him and a relationship was forged, Odo would have been very vocal if Starfleet tried to take possession. Still, one could argue that once Odo and Mora “stepped up” their interactions on the baby changeling, which was being monitored for medical reasons per Dr. Bashir, that such activity could have led to it ultimately succumbing, since it was already in a weakened state. But since the baby changeling absorbed itself into Odo, it obviously didn’t hold any grudges. All’s well that ends well, I guess.
Fri, Jun 23, 2017, 11:32am (UTC -6)

To be honest, I don't think Starfleet's rights/interests in the Changeling were very pronounced in this episode. Trek already did a show about Starfleet pressuring the monitoring of a life, and that's TNG's "The Offspring". This isn't that kind of show, though it does take notes from it as well as notes from "I, Borg", "The Abandoned" and others.

Sisko's pressure on Odo is really just a catalyst to get Odo to see that Dr. Mora wasn't such a bad guy, and that his methods, while objectively cruel, were at least humanely reasonable given Mora's circumstances. Whether Odo could fight Starfleet or would fight Starfleet is never addressed, so it's really up to the viewer's imagination how that would play out. Though, I can't imagine it being as bad as the pressure Dr. Mora got from the Cardassians.

In the end, were Odo's results quick enough (assuming the Changeling didn't "die")? That's not a question that's answered, but it does seem like a breakthrough was made that would at least justify Odo/Mora's position of custody.
Peter G.
Fri, Jun 23, 2017, 12:39pm (UTC -6)
@ Linda,

I'd like to offer a different perspective on the issue of whether Starfleet ought to be able to take custody of the baby Changeling. Your premise seems to be that the Changeling is a living being rightfully under the guardianship of Odo, and that taking it away would be equivalent in some way to taking away a parents' child purely for strategic reasons. That is a dangerous thing to consider, but I don't think that's the case here.

Why should we assume the Changeling in any way belongs to Odo? It literally wasn't his offspring, and he cannot legally claim it's his unless it's a piece of property that he bought. Since Changelings are accepted as being sentient it follows that Odo can't just lay claim to a stray Changeling he finds any more than I can simply stake a claim to a stray child I find wandering on the street. As an abandoned child/life form Starfleet (or the Federation) no doubt has rules about how to place the being in foster or medical care, how to determine who its parents are if possible, and how to establish good care for the child. In the case of a Changeling baby we sort of know who its parents are and why it's been sent away from them, but the fact that Sisko and Odo happen to know the practice of the Founders in sending off their young doesn't have anything to do with Federation law. The rules don't cease to apply just because Odo has some insider knowledge about where the baby came from. The fact is that Odo ought to have had no right whatsoever to take the baby under his care unless granted as dispensation by the Federation to act as a foster parent, which is apparently what happens in the episode. But since he isn't trained for that his only qualification is being the same species, which isn't trivial but also clearly isn't enough, as we see since he has to go to Mora for help. Basically Odo had no business taking on that task, and in all seriousness I think Starfleet was rather fair in giving him a chance to do so since he requested it. Wanting to make sure the Changeling's development is on track isn't just a matter of the strategic necessity of seeing their asset taken care of; they would have the same concern (albeit probably not to the same extent) to make sure *any* foster child is growing properly and being well-nourished. If they felt that Odo was failing to help the baby grow and develop there is a real social work concern there, even aside from the fact that it's a Changeling. If it was a human parent and their foster child wasn't growing the Federation would probably take it away in that situation as well to give to qualified specialists.
Sat, Jun 24, 2017, 10:21am (UTC -6)
@ Peter G.,

Certainly I don’t think the baby changeling belongs to Odo because Odo paid for it. Indeed I doubt that Odo was aware of the financial transaction, he was too distracted. I think it’s very telling that Sisko relays his message from “Starfleet”, the military arm, and not “the Federation”, the diplomatic arm. But who really has jurisdiction? According to my information, although Sisko commands DS9, the station actually belongs to the inhabitants of nearby Bajor. Perhaps we’ll need to consult with the prophets.

Then again, why bother? Starfleet apparently has carte blanche to do as it pleases. Obviously I’m not inclined to assume that Starfleet has a purely benevolent disposition in this matter. My historical knowledge of DS9 may be flawed, but I believe that “at this point in history” changelings have been identified as potential enemies, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think this fact would be considered in this matter.

When Quark offered to sell Odo what Quark believed to be a dead changeling, Quark, as presumably a sales ploy, suggested that the Founders would definitely be interested in acquiring it. Why Odo would be interested in purchasing a dead changeling, I never had time to contemplate, since Odo immediately identified it as alive.

As a live and sentient being, one would presume that the baby would naturally be returned to its family. But it was also almost immediately identified as having been cast aside by the Founders in an effort to gauge how another race treats the weak and vulnerable. Personally I think it says a lot more about the Founders that they would cast a baby out in such a manner. And it would therefore seem doubtful that the Founders would be first choice when looking out for the best interests of this baby. (This may be “unsubstantiated speculation”, but I think we’re to believe it’s true. Odo is the one who says it and as far as I know he’s usually a trustworthy source.)

It is my (perhaps incorrect) understanding that shapeshifters such as Odo are rare among humanoids: to the extent that it was only by trial and error that Dr. Mora had any success with Odo. As per Odo’s statements, some of Mora’s procedures were painful, intrusive and pretty much worthless. Therefore Mora’s assistance to Odo about techniques to use on the baby was based on limited knowledge: if it worked on Odo, then it would therefore work on this baby. I would question this assumption. Odo and the baby were of the same species yes, but each had its own unique circumstances and this baby had recently been treated for (insert techno-babble here) and was still under a doctor’s (Bashir’s) care.

If I’m right that shapeshifters were unique in the humanoid world, I would assume that there would be limited options of who would or could best look after such a baby. Was there anyone else in the entire Federation who had first-hand knowledge and dealings with changelings, other than Odo and/or Mora? To my knowledge, no. It is possible that because of his painful recollections of his early experiences with Mora, Odo may have been too tentative in his dealings with the baby. And perhaps the two acting in tandem might have been the best course. Maybe. We’ll never really know the roads that we did not travel.

I have the feeling that the major difference between your view and mine is that you’re more certain of the benevolence of Starfleet than I am. With all due respect to Gene Roddenberry, from what I’ve observed in ST, I’m more skeptical. Or maybe that’s just my nature.

If it’s your point, that Starfleet dictated the fate of the changeling, I agree with you 100 percent. Whether Starfleet would necessarily have acted in the best interests of the baby changeling is, I think, a very different question. Sisko makes it very clear early on Starfleet’s agenda:

SISKO: How long before it is able to take humanoid form?
ODO: Several months. Why?
SISKO: Well, there's still a lot we don't know about your people. The changelings could provide Starfleet with invaluable information about the Dominion.
Peter G.
Sat, Jun 24, 2017, 10:36am (UTC -6)
@ Linda,

We don't even have to guess about how benevolent Starfleet is or not in this situation. Just take a best/worst case scenario and see how each plays out. Worst case is Starfleet has no honorable intention and so therefore, yes, of course they could take the baby away since they administer on DS9 and can invoke security measures if they so desire. Best case is that Starfleet is entirely benevolent, in which case (just like a modern society) they would assume their science teams and xenospsychologists would do a better job than Odo in helping the baby to survive. All DS9 has is one doctor and one civilian Changeling who knows almost nothing about himself. Even if no one involved knew much of value Starfleet has better resources. If Odo showed signs of being unable to help the baby then it would be pretty automatic for Starfleet or the Federation to take the baby into their medical care. Since this is the best-case scenario I would suggest that it therefore doesn't matter whether Starfleet had benevolent intentions or not. The logic at either side of it would suggest that taking the baby away might be the best solution for all involved. I submit that by even giving Odo a chance they're demonstrating pretty fair intentions, all things considered.
Sun, Jun 25, 2017, 8:12am (UTC -6)
Peter G.,

Some people see the glass as half full. Others see the glass as half empty. And another might say, “What in the world is in that glass? OMG! It’s a baby shapeshifter!”

Pretty sure you’ve changed my opinion as much as I’ve changed yours. I guess you and I can agree to disagree.
Sun, Jun 25, 2017, 8:43am (UTC -6)
Chrome, you said,

“Sisko's pressure on Odo is really just a catalyst to get Odo to see that Dr. Mora wasn't such a bad guy, and that his methods, while objectively cruel, were at least humanely reasonable given Mora's circumstances.”

I agree. Most of this episode seemed to be about the reconciliation between Odo and Mora. Early on, combined with the B story of Kira giving birth, it seemed like it might tell a tale about the parallels of those births. When the changeling died, it looked like it might be going for a statement contrasting birth and death. And then at the very end, Odo and Kira, each absorbed in their own dramas and musings, went for a walk, together. Some really good stuff.

I am wondering though, other than getting things started, why would Quark think that Odo would be interested in purchasing a dead changeling?
Mon, Jun 26, 2017, 11:27am (UTC -6)

"I am wondering though, other than getting things started, why would Quark think that Odo would be interested in purchasing a dead changeling?"

My impression is that there's an unspoken comradery between Quark and Odo, which we see play out through the series. After "Broken Link" Quark knows how glum Odo has been, so it would make sense that he'd give Odo the first bid on what he thought was just dead Changeling matter.

Quark also has a reputation for peddling questionable wares (see "Q-Less"), so Quark may have thought he had junk merchandise and only Odo would give it a real look. This is supported by Quark suddenly upping the bid when he realizes the Changeling not only exists but is alive.
Mon, Jun 26, 2017, 11:35am (UTC -6)
And to answer of the question of why Odo would be interested in the first place, "Vortex" suggests Odo is interesting in collecting artifacts from his people. At the very least, a dead Changeling would be a physical memento of the family he can no longer be with.
Mon, Jun 26, 2017, 3:03pm (UTC -6)

Thanks for the answer. I agree that Quark and Odo share a unique connection, and that Odo would be interested in collecting artifacts of the family he can no longer be with. A dead changeling still seems to be an unusual offer. I might think there might be some sort of legalities about selling alive or dead changelings, a sentient being. But then I’m strange that way. And of course, this is Quark, if there were legalities, he still would be undeterred. Thanks.
Tue, Jul 18, 2017, 10:38pm (UTC -6)
Great episode, 4/5

I only commented because I just had to say, who goes to website that is reviewing episodes and doesn't expect spoilers? Why are you reading the review of an episode before you finish the season? I

t's just mind blowing to me, why would you go on any website about a TV Show and not expect to possibly see spoilers.
Mon, Sep 11, 2017, 11:46am (UTC -6)
@ Cail Corishev's theory from 5 years ago is actually a good one, and it makes the technobabble explanation for the scenario in "Things Past" more plausible.
Mon, Nov 20, 2017, 6:35pm (UTC -6)
"The Begotten" is one of the best Odo shows that DS9 ever did. I remain disappointed that the series didn't give Odo much focus after the season opener, but this is a very nice way to resolve it. Odo's bond with the 'baby' changeling was surprisingly poignant. The B-Plot with the O'Briens was mediocre and cringe-worthy, but it doesn't really matter all that much.

3.5 stars.
Sun, Dec 17, 2017, 1:56am (UTC -6)
2 stars. Pretty boring and the Kita B plot was old and tired
Wed, Jun 13, 2018, 3:17pm (UTC -6)
I found the last scene really interesting. In a way both Kira and Odo lost a child. Neither was interested in parenthood but when a baby was in danger (Keiko not strong enough to carry injured baby post-shuttle accident due to wounds/the baby changeling's illness) both Kira and Odo volunteered to care for it (Kira's surrogacy/Odo caring for the changeling). In the end, both lost the child they were caring for but not completely (baby went to his biological parents who are friends with Kira/changling absorbed into Odo). Neither child is gone from their lives completely but neither Kira nor Odo is a parent any longer.
Thu, Jul 19, 2018, 8:09pm (UTC -6)
Some nice moments for Odo who goes through the range of emotions with the baby changeling and Mora -- Auberjonois does a solid job portraying all of this -- but overall it's a tad too sappy and somewhat predictable that the baby changeling would die or get reintegrated into Odo. Also the episode spent plenty of time going through in great detail Odo teaching the baby changeling to do this, that etc. -- that part wasn't all that enthralling. The Kira baby B-plot was mildly amusing, although the schtick got repetitive just like parts of the main plot.

I liked the Dr. Mora character here -- him and Odo made a good duet: going from being at each other's throats to developing an understanding of each other and then celebrating when the baby changeling does something.

What bugged me was how did Quark come across the baby changeling in the first place? There was no reasonably explanation given. So these baby changelings were put all over the place by the Founders untold many years ago and only when they are somehow found do they begin to grow etc. And then they have to get back to the Gamma Quadrant to the Founders world to say what's been up for so long? Seems rather inefficient to learn about the universe that way.

I was a bit put off by Shakaar's attitude toward Miles O'Brien -- but this served to turn this subplot into some kind of standard comedy with the men fighting as the woman gives birth. At first it was decent but then it became a bit of a drag -- of course they'd get along better in the end. There were some good parallels between the A and B plots for Odo and Kira's experiences (as Golina states in the above comment) and I like how the two come together in the end to discuss it.

I kept thinking of "The Offspring" as it's pretty similar -- Star Fleet has an interest in the baby changeling and of course it basically dies just as Odo's happiness starts growing. That it integrates into Odo -- well, so much for the human experience -- lasted maybe half a season.

Barely 2.5 stars for "The Begotten" -- good character story for Odo who we learn a lot more about, although these aspects of his personality aren't that important (not like his love for Kira, for example). There were plenty of parts that were a bit cheesy like when Odo is talking to the baby changeling etc. Yes, that's part of him developing his bond for it, but it's hard to really care much about -- what are we to expect from the baby changeling? The sappier parts didn't work for me and "The Offspring" worked a bit better in that respect.
Mon, Jul 23, 2018, 8:10pm (UTC -6)
VOMIT! Was this an entry in a cliche contest? Predictable tripe, void of imagination and heart. The Bajoran sadist was totally offensive as the toxic father; I waited much of the episode for Odo to kill him.
Thu, Oct 25, 2018, 4:16am (UTC -6)
2 stars. Boring

Yet another patented filler yawn inducing B plot DS9 is notorious for. This time the whole Kira gives birth with two silly men

Way too much time was spent on odo talking to the changeling about shapes etc. i never cared for mora—not here and not in The Alternate. I did like idea of mora working with Starfleet on ways to deal with the Founders that makes sense
Sun, Dec 23, 2018, 2:13pm (UTC -6)
A really solid character episode for Odo and his “dad” that retreads a s2 ep but does it mostly better.

It is unfortunate that they already gave back Odo his powers. There was a lot of untapped potential there for humanoid Odo which was a really interesting development to me, and it seems strange that this wasnt explored further throughout the run of the season.

Yet another solid ep that nevertheless rehashes a lot of older eps from ds9, which I fear is the trend so far in season 5. I hooe the coming dominion war starts up new ideas soon beforr the show grows too stale.
Cody B
Wed, Jan 16, 2019, 12:38am (UTC -6)
Great acting by Auberjonois, the scene where he is describing how happy he is to be a parent and lets out a laugh and the look on his face really shows gratitude and then at the end when his “dad” hugs him. I also have to give kudos for actually having some blood on Kira/keiko/Miles baby. You don’t see that too often in films let alone television shows from 1996. Good timing on Kira giving birth, it was just starting to get stale but since her “pregnancy” was announced the show has kept Kira in the background for the most part so that we havnt been hit over the head with her being pregnant. It’s just that it’s been awhile and it was time to have magical transfer baby. One last thing, I was expecting quark to say he should have charged odo more since odo ended up getting his shape shifting back
Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 6:25pm (UTC -6)
Some thoughts:

--Lots of Jesus imagery in the Godlike Founders turning their Son into human, to walk amongst us, so to speak, then the Son "rising" - and spending some time with humans, even after he loses his human form.

--Whenever I see this sort of imagery for a character, I think he's headed for some sort of self-sacrifice that will lead him toward his "Ascension" (which for Odo would be going back to the Great Link).

--I liked the baby changeling scenes, and Dr Moro scenes, with Odo learning a bit about how parenting is about balance - You have to protect and assist a child, but you also have to allow it to be exposed and frustrated.

--We were told in an earlier ep that the Founders forced Odo into a shape and froze him there, so I can buy that the baby changeling, in death, gave Odo a gift. Maybe it was meant to be a bit of foreshadowing, if Odo is going to make some sort of sacrifice, as a gift, himself.

--A baby is born; a baby dies.

--There is always a gift, in pain.

--No way DS9 was giving up their changeling forever. Odo is their best character. Still, I thought his human form would last a bit longer, or more would be done with it.

--I have more thoughts, but no more time. That darn 4 yr old is quite the pain-in-the-neck gift, sometimes.
Bobbington Mc Bob
Sun, Jul 21, 2019, 5:55pm (UTC -6)
Thanks, first commenters from 2009 on this review for yet again spoiling the rest of the damn season / series. Could you seriously not just restrain yourselves or at least put a bloody spoiler warning? Honestly, after such a great episode to have such a huge spoiler within the first few comments. I am restraining swear words at this point.

To the episode, wonderful again. It seems to be the Odo episodes that bring a tear to the eye more often than not. Combining that so deftly with Kira's sense of loss was genius, and a second wave of eye-dabbing I did not see coming.
Top Hat
Sun, Jul 21, 2019, 8:37pm (UTC -6)
A method for avoiding spoilers: do not look at the comments on reviews before you see the episode.
Bobbington Mc Bob
Mon, Jul 22, 2019, 4:35am (UTC -6)
@Top Hat

The spoilers I am talking about are for several episodes down the line from this one, or even the very end of the series. Its like discussing plot points from All Good Things in the comments for "Measure of a Man". At least put a spoiler warning for something you are about to ruin 5 seasons away.
Sat, Aug 24, 2019, 1:09am (UTC -6)
"But I agree, to hell with Shakaar. He's not particularly good at his own job, it seems... Yet he barges in and tells O'Brien he can't even witness his own baby being born"

Yes, so many problems with the B plot. But the most glaring was that it only worked at all because Shakaar temporarily lost 50 IQ points for an episode, started acting bizarrely, and then unbelievably all the women - even Keiko - decided Miles was equally to blame for wanting to witness his baby's birth in the face of TempMoron-Shakaar's protests. It was like the writers didn't even try to make their own script make sense.
Mon, Dec 9, 2019, 9:14pm (UTC -6)
I was re-watching this episode right when I got a phone news notification Auberjonois died :( I couldn't finish it and had to watch it later. This episode is one of his best imo.

Really phenomenal acting in this episode. The scene where the baby changeling (changelet?) tries to make a face, and Odo is beaming ear to ear-- it's one of my favorite scenes on Star Trek. Really, really touching.

I agree with Jammer's assessment the Kira birth scenes and the cop-out ending. I wish Odo had either gotten his abilities back far later in the season, or through some other mechanism.

Fuck Shakaar. That guy's such a whiny jerk. Kira deserves better.

I did like the nice touch at the end where Kira is missing the baby, though. I like that they didn't make it a whole thing, or even give it more than a couple lines, but it makes sense to me that a surrogate mom would at least spend a little bit of time missing the life she carried with her for nine months.
Thu, Dec 26, 2019, 10:16pm (UTC -6)
A good rule of thumb to the noobies, the older the show, the more spoilers there will be. This is the internet, baby! (no pun intended related to this episode's plot!)
Decent episode but I do wish they had shown the infant changeling in pain to somehow show its suffering. That would have made its sacrifice more dramatic. I found the restoration of Odo to be wondrous. Really enjoyed.
Thu, Jan 16, 2020, 1:19pm (UTC -6)
Damn you, DS9 -- Odo being cute with kids is the #1 tried and tested shortcut for making me feel things...!

God, though, praise for the acting here. Takes a hell of a performance to sell genuine joy and adoration for a cup of goo. I can't help falling in love with Odo's smile, it's just too damn SWEET -- and he's absolutely infectious with his enthusiasm. I love the scene where he buys a drink for Quark as well, following on 'The Ascent' and the unlikely bond between the two.

I feel this might've been a bit too forgiving on Dr. Mora, though. It's one thing to understand that he a) didn't know he was experimenting on a living being, and b) was under harsh time constraints that could've had Odo in Cardassian custody instead, and undoubtedly treated much worse... but it feels off that he does eventually capitulate to Mora's methods. As I understood it, didn't one of those experiments straight-up involve having the changeling child subjected to electrical current before it fled into the safe region? That *really* sounds like a good way to have your kid hate you, and they have the benefit of hindsight this time round (as well as, y'know, the perspective of someone who'd grown up pained and bitter because of things like that).

Odo sure got de-solided earlier than expected, huh. Well, he's had a range of experiences in solid form ('The Ascent' being the most extreme), but there really hasn't been that much focus on him during this time. Apart from 'The Ascent', there were scattered moments in other episodes, and while 'Things Past' had a definite focus on him, it made use of his past rather than his present. As for his reaction to regaining his shapeshifting, his giddy relief definitely helps mitigate the absolute grief, but man, maybe that doesn't need mitigating (for the sake of the episode, anyway -- less so for Odo's emotional state, guy deserves to be happy).

B-plot left me cold, but eh, probably one of the less bad pregnancy arc resolutions (... or "births", as they're otherwise known) we could've had. Shakaar has been doing nothing to appeal to me since his first episode, though. *This* guy is First Minister of Bajor??
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 3:35am (UTC -6)
I wouldn't say that Odo capitulated to Mora's methods.

Superficially, maybe, it might seem like it. But Odo's approach his quite different than Mora's. Odo showed genuine care for the baby. Even as he was forced to use coercion he never stopped showing that genuine care. They even point to this fact directly in dialogue:

"MORA: The changeling is developing far faster than you did. I didn't mean that as a criticism. If anything, it's a compliment. I mean, I was wrong. Your approach to communicating to the changeling was sound. I mean, don't you see? It's reaching out to you. It's curious about you."

Mora originally treated Odo as a specimen to experiment with. A favorite experiment, perhaps, but an experiment nevertheless. Odo treated the baby changeling as his child, and that makes a huge difference.

The only thing that irks me, is how quickly Odo managed to forgive Mora. After all the nice subtleties and mature dialogue, that ending *does* seem to endorse the notion that Odo realized Mora's approach to be right. It's a shame, really, because that vibe goes completely against the rest of the episode.
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 5:51am (UTC -6)
Odo definitely cared, and clearly never stopped caring (him talking to the baby changeling as it dies is heartbreaking). It just feels somewhat off that he even allowed Mora to begin using his methods in the first place, *even* under pressure. One mention from Sisko of Starfleet Command is all it takes for him to begrudgingly let Mora have a go. It doesn't quite feel like enough to erode Odo's bitter resistance.

I *would* agree on the forgiveness, and that definitely crossed my mind after my first viewing... but I've just now seen someone talking about the ep 'The Die Is Cast', and it's reminded me of how quickly and effortlessly Odo forgave Garak for outright torturing him. There are differences, of course: Mora experimented on Odo for the formative years(?) of his life; Garak only had one short session torturing Odo. But then Mora didn't know what he was doing to Odo, whereas Garak knew *exactly* what he was doing. And there's also the fact that Odo seems to take a good while longer to forgive Mora than he ever did with Garak. Proportionate for how protracted the suffering they each caused him was.

So, in the bigger picture: I think the forgiveness could work, given the greater context of Odo's character. But I'd still agree that it clashes with the rest of the episode. I don't doubt that Odo could have forgiven Mora -- but I don't think he *should* have forgiven Mora.
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 7:37am (UTC -6)
To be fair, we don't know how bad this treatment is from a changeling's perspective. All the talk of electric shocks gives us a visceral reaction of "this is horrible physical abuse", but that's a humanoid point-of-view. Perhaps a changeling would see it differently, if those methods were used with proper moderation and tempered with a genuine show of affection.

It is interesting to note that the baby-ling wasn't adversely affected by what Odo did. He (it?) didn't seem to harbor any kind of resentment, nor was there any psychological damage. So it does seem like Odo did strike the right balance here.

I'm also quite sure that Mora did *not* strike any kind of balance when using these methods on Odo. He probably went to higher and higher voltages whenever poor Odo refused to cooperate. That's Classic Mora, right there.
Peter G.
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 9:40am (UTC -6)
I agree with Omicron that Mora was probably not pulling any punches, especially as the Cardassians wanted results. But I'd say the major difference between Odo and Mora is that Mora did what he did because he liked it; he wanted to succeed in his science experiment. In Odo's case even if he took exactly the same steps he'd have been doing it out of caring. I think the motive and attitude may be what this is about. Odo may well have recognized by the end that Mora's methods were sound, even while still knowing that making the child stronger has to be for its own sake, not yours.
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 10:42am (UTC -6)
There's definitely a lot to consider in a situation like this. Odo definitely acted as a tempering influence to an extent, and I don't doubt that Mora had much nastier changeling-changer machines.

From the changeling's side of things, though, I don't think anything in that early a developmental stage would be able to consider the motive behind whatever's happening to it. Only just beginning to develop reactions to stimuli -- understanding would likely be a way off still. That's all well and good for forgiveness later in life, as with Odo, but the negative impressions get formed in the first place.

I feel one limitation when talking about what's going on here is that we can't fully know what babyling thinks. The upper limit of the self-expression that ever gets developed is that one beautiful moment of shapeshifting Odo's face -- clearly there's at least enough of an affinity developed there for that. Like baby's first word being "dad"! I'm not sure how to interpret the final action of absorption back into Odo's body -- maybe involuntary, maybe intentional. Baby's first link. And last. :(
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 10:45am (UTC -6)
Speaking of the baby changeling's absorption back into Odo: while watching, I expected that action to come with a full "download" of the baby's small amount of life experience and memories, and for Odo to come to an understanding of his li'l goobaby through that. Maybe that did happen -- if what we saw *is* anything like a changeling link, then it most likely did. But the show's too preoccupied with Odo getting his shapeshifting back to go into any detail on that.
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 7:10pm (UTC -6)
I think in some Trek episodes it's easy to get hung up on story minutia nowadays and muddle the big point the writers were aiming for. Can't see the forest for the trees as it were. The trees in this case being "shock therapy" and "experimentation" which DO carry a lot of connotations on their own, yeah, but here is just the Trek Twist TM on the "Carrot v. Stick" or "Caring or Clinical" parental/childhood development message.

Here we've got an episode essentially arguing for moderate spanking (or even just punishment for bad behaviour) and pushing your kids, but without beating them or negleting the child's needs. It's "parenting is hard, but approach it with balance, caring and understanding, and sometimes you'll have to push your kid a bit harder than you or they'd like, but it's only to encourage their development"

Let's be honest, Odo likely would be a helicopter parent if given the chance, and his kid would never grow and become independent.

As for Mora, even though he didn't know he'd fallen into a parental role at the start, he never really fully stepped into it either, or perhaps, didn't know how. At the start he's still not fully acknowledging Odo's independence and measuring his personhood by his successes and criticising his lack or it in other places.

And given Mora's role, it's easy to see how Odo got where he did and made his choices. Always looking for belonging, but never finding it, closing himself off when around those that might give it to him. And no wonder he rejected the Founders. He felt a sense of home with them, but also saw the familiar detachment and cruelty he'd "grown up" with. And then he's tried to build that belonging, first with the abandoned Jem'Hadar, a bit with Kira, and now with this baby changling. And all failed, although, through the baby changling he was able to build a bridge back to Mora, and find, if not belonging, at least understanding between them.
Sat, Jan 18, 2020, 12:03pm (UTC -6)

"There's definitely a lot to consider in a situation like this. Odo definitely acted as a tempering influence to an extent, and I don't doubt that Mora had much nastier changeling-changer machines."

He did.

In this very episode (I just rewatched it) Odo mentions that Mora used a vacuum chamber and a protein decompiler. Yikes! It's like he had an entire torture chamber or something.
Sat, Jan 18, 2020, 12:55pm (UTC -6)
@Omicron: *ouch.* What a nightmare that must've been.

Checking the transcript now, and yeah, the little zapper circle is nothing in comparison. To quote Mora: "Odo, six millivolts is not going to hurt it."
Jamie Mann
Thu, Jan 30, 2020, 5:33pm (UTC -6)
Alas, another episode which failed to grab me.

Part of this is the B-plot around Kira's pregnancy; all the work which went into constructing the poly-esque relationship between Kira, Miles and Keiko is thrown away in favour of some sitcom comedy-arguments with a Generic Primitive Alien Ceremony lobbed atop it.

Then there's the A-plot, which was far more about Odo's relationship with Mora than anything else; the baby Changling seems to have mostly been an excuse to bring these two back together for an extended period for a bit of dysfunctional-family drama.

However... most of this is just a recap of the same stuff from episodes like The Alternate. Odo is unhappy with the way that Mora brought him up, and Mora is blithely oblivious to the idea that he could have done things differently. And naturally, this means that they have to spend time arguing about how to deal with the MacGuff... sorry, the baby changling.

(I don't really see the "controversy" in the fact that they had to actively provide stimulation to persuade the changling to begin development. It's arguably on a par with the way some birds push their chicks out of the nest, or perhaps even the very act of birth itself; something is needed to trigger the next stage in a baby's development, especially when they're too young to be able to conceptualise the need to make that step.

I suppose there are some points to be made as Odo and Mora reconcile, not least around the way both felt pressured to achieve results, but in the end, I really don't find their relationship - or Mora as a character - interesting enough to pay attention.

And then we come to this episode's final trick: a full blown reset button which gives Odo his changling powers back.

Given how soon this came after Odo lost his powers, I can't help but think that this was a tacit admission that the writers had run out of ways to explore and make use of his Solid status. Which is somewhat surprising, given how little exploration it had actually received.

Overall, this is another episode I doubt I'll ever want to come back to!
David K.
Thu, Jun 4, 2020, 5:30am (UTC -6)
So many people were absolutely jerks in this episode.

Odo, for inexplicably being completely hostile to Dr. Mora again after the writers had them make peace in the previous appearance.

Shakaar for inserting himself in to the birth, something he had exactly nothing to do with.

Kira for not putting Shakaar in his place and standing up for Miles. Also for forcing him to almost miss the birth of his second child, ESPECIALLY after he had to miss the first. Also, for not taking in to consideration the unique medical situation she was in and insisting on following Bajoran traditions for a baby that wasn’t even Bajoran.

Keiko for not standing up for her husband.

This had potential to be a great episode but it was only mediocre because of the bad writing/character behavior.
Tue, Oct 13, 2020, 1:07pm (UTC -6)
Teaser : ***.5, 5% 

Odo pays Bashir a visit, having once again injured his fleshy body. In the vein of Reg Barclay (c.f. “Realm of Fear”), he has WebMDed himself into believing he has an incurable parasite in his back. But actually, it’s just a pinched nerve arising from an overly rigid posture. Bashir reminds him that he’s not a Changeling any more and to pay attention to the damned continuity of the series before administering the magic hypo. Quark makes an appearance to make yet another a joke about holo-whores and then establish this week’s inciting incident. He has obtained a vial of goo from an Uridian which Odo identifies as a sick baby Changeling. Bashir wants to take charge of it and put it in a security field (file that one away), but mommy Odo knows best.

Act 1 : **.5, 17%

Odo reminds us a bit of his backstory from “The Alternate” while Ben does his “I need to see this baby’s face” thing. Hey remember when Jake denied him the chance to touch the Universe a couple weeks ago? Are we going to talk about that? Anybody? While Bashir treats the baby of the radiation poisoning it’s been exposed to, Odo explains that, based on his own experience, he has no reason to believe it poses any direct threat to the station.

SISKO: Why would the Founders send such helpless creatures out into space?
ODO: To find out if the species they encountered posed any threat. What better way to gauge another race than to see how it treats the weak and vulnerable?

Ah. That explains why the Founders are so discriminating when they subjugate other species. Those races which have least mistreated their weak and vulnerable are spared the Changelings’ wrath, right? Obviously, the Federation would receive the least amount of ire while, say, the Cardassians would be given the harshest punishment by such fair-minded judges, right? Anyway, Sisko apparently wants to mend fences with Starfleet and gather as much data about Changeling physiology as it can and Odo wants to be the one to teach it how to shape-shift. Ben suggests contacting Dr Mora but Odo, expectedly, demurs.

Bashir claims to have all but purged the infant of the offending radiation and sets up our B plot this week; Kira is finally having the O’Brien baby, which is great. “The Darkness and the Light” is the only tale so far to make use of the pregnancy in a way that wasn’t clichéd to death and, problematic though her character can be, I’m ready for a return to form from her. Anyway, as the gentle woodwind music starts to play, Odo monologues to the infant goo which is...a little obvious in its narrative function, but well-performed nonetheless.

ODO: You see, I was once like you. I spent months in a lab being prodded and poked by a scientist who didn't recognise I was a lifeform. He thought I was a specimen, a mystery that needed to be unravelled. He never talked to me. It didn't occur to him. I didn't know what I was, or what I was supposed to do. I was lost, alone, but it's not going to be that way with you. No, I'm not going to make the same mistakes that were made with me.

We then mosey over to the B plot where Keiko, Miles and a Bajoran woman are playing with kindergarten percussion instruments and burning incense. Whenever there’s a scene in Star Trek where one character is repeatedly hitting a gong, prepare to be annoyed. Of course every god-damned fucking thing about Bajoran culture has to have a veneer of vague mysticism to it because **they’re a very spiritual people**, you know. I want to read the prophecy that explains how rattles and gongs help to grease the holy birth canal. I really do. Sigh...anyway Miles is a big doofus because he’s got a penis and we’re watching a sitcom and men have to be complete morons whenever basic biological processes take place. Bashir has to leave because Kira is taking too long with the giving birth, that inconsiderate shrew, and Shakaar finally shows up wearing a stole to match Miles’ because Deeply Religious People, QED.

Odo has inexplicably poured the baby into a clear mug and brought it to the replimat. Just sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it? Oh...the explanation is that we needed to give Worf a comedy line (“why are you talking to your beverage?”). Wow.

Well, we move on from being a beverage to being a puddle on the table. Auberjonois continues to make the awkward monologuing work despite itself as he describes, with palpable whiffs of regret and nostalgia, the gift it is to be a Changeling.

ODO: You can be anything. A Tarkalean hawk soaring through the sky, or a Filian python burrowing deep beneath the ground. It's all yours for the taking. I was never a very good shape-shifter.

I’m pretty sure Tarkalea is nothing but hawks and tea leaves. Anyway, Odo makes it abundantly clear (one could even say clumsily, obviously clear from a narrative perspective) that he isn’t going to repeat Mora’s “mistakes.” He promises the goo to be a better father to it than Mora was to him. Well, wouldn’t you know it, the irony plot gods have called Mora himself back to DS9 and to this very room to interrupt the monologue. He’s come to help. Cue sitcom stinger.

Act 2 : ***, 17%

The pair immediately butt heads about how to approach this parenting thing, both, it should be mentioned, with seemingly the best of intentions. There’s also a throw-away line about Starfleet trying to ferret out additional Changeling spies, which is appreciated. Mora inserts himself into Odo’s story, employing his very specific method of disarming his would-be son. While the pair are definitely playing some old tapes, when Mora begins subjecting the infant to some sort of technical doodad, Odo screams at him to stop; his determination to make good on his promise to the himself overrides the various complexes which still haunt his relationship to Dr Dad here.

ODO: Doctor Mora, I understand that you want to help, but I'm going to do this alone.
MORA: Alone? Odo, you don't know the first thing about teaching a changeling how to shape-shift.
ODO: Well then I'll just muddle through somehow. You did.

This is the basic paradox of the story...and perhaps so obvious in its human dimensions as to be dismissed as trite, but I think it rings very true. Whether Odo wants it to be true or not, his own upbringing will shape his ability to “parent” this baby Changeling. Odo intends to diametrically oppose his perception of Mora’s methods, but that still means the shape of his actions is being determined by his past. Because of course it is. Many times the effort to be original, to cast off our demons entirely, instead of letting them sit quietly at the table beside us, leads to unproductive and often self-destructive behaviour. That’s why I’ve always been fond of Picard’s retort to Q in “Hide and Q”; “What he said with irony, I say with conviction; what a piece of work is man!” But I digress.

Mora immediately demonstrates how invaluable he and the knowledge it took him years to piece together are to Odo’s efforts. But for the moment, Odo is still more concerned about stopping the succession of trauma than he is about actually helping this lifeform to grow and reach its potential. But to be fair, Mora comes across as having learnt nothing beyond the raw data he can cite from memory. He seems just as callous regarding the discomfort his suggested methods would cause in the infant as Odo remembers him being about his own growing pains. It’s quite the sight to see Odo fall prey to reverse psychology, but before you know it, he’s “insisting” Mora stick around and observe Odo’s progress.

Meanwhile, Shakaar has added a whirly dirly gizmo to the birthing chamber, just in case we needed more reasons to hate this subplot. Because of someone’s mistaken belief that they were in possession of a very clever idea, it turns out Bajoran physiology requires that the mother be fully relaxed as to produce toxic levels of *endorphins* in her system to allow the baby to be born. Uh huh. Well, I’m sure if we ever get to see a flashback to the Occupation, we will learn that Kira’s mother was the picture of tranquillity and joy when her children were born. Yeah...

I also...I can understand why Kira is irritated that this baby is cramping her style, but she’s the one who wants to do this the traditional way (in a warm baby pool in the living room)...and don’t misunderstand, that’s her right. But why is Miles so damned impatient all of a sudden? The only explanation I can think of is that he’s worried if Kira doesn’t give birth now, she’ll take his son along on another madcap assassination. Huh. Okay, I retract my statement. The midwife sends Kira back to her quarters to rest and chastises the men for being big dumb idiots because...vaginas are icky I guess.

Enough of that bullshit. Odo is making an attempt to coax the infant to shape itself into a sphere. I wish I could say the illusion of watching a bottle of motor oil being sloshed about a glass ball was convincing least the acting is!

ODO: I understand that you prefer to remain shapeless. Believe me, I remember how relaxing it could be. But you have to learn to take other forms. That's what Changelings do. It can be immensely rewarding. I remember the first time Doctor Mora here coerced me into taking the shape of a cube with one of his electrostatic gadgets. Once I did it, and he turned the infernal thing off, I was perfectly content to stay a cube for hours. It was fascinating, all those right angles.

Again, the paradox undergirds the speech. Part of what’s motivating Odo to say this is an attempt to shame Dr Mora (who’s observing disapprovingly from the corner) or at least spit some venom his way over the resentment he feels about his own experience. But of course, in the same breath he’s admitting that Mora’s methods succeeded where Odo’s still haven’t.

What follows is a short montage of Odo trying and failing to teach the goo to do...anything. But he doesn’t seem to be having any success over what we learn has been a week. Dr Mora makes note that the creature isn’t growing in volume nearly quickly enough because of its lack of shape-shifting. He also does some gentle ret-conning of “Broken Link,” suggesting that Odo’s limited abilities may have allowed the Founders to lock him into his humanoid shape in the first place. This certainly tracks with the idea that the Founders wanted the One Hundred to be as helpless and vulnerable as possible.

Mora introduces another wrinkle into their rocky history, one which is, ironically, very similar to Jetrel’s. The Cardassians were putting enormous pressure on Mora to produce results with Odo and this impelled him to utilise methods that were perhaps harsher than absolutely necessary in order to speed along the process. I like this for several reasons, but most prominently because it serves as a reminder that behaviours do not arise in vacuums; we are subject to the systems around us and individual will and personal responsibility are often pretty minor factors in determining those behaviours. Odo was being probed and prodded by Dr Mora’s instruments, while Mora was being probed and prodded by the threat of an occupying army. There are even echoes of things Dukat has said to Kira:

MORA: If it wasn't for me, you'd still be sitting on a shelf somewhere, in a beaker labelled “unknown sample.”

This sounds a great deal like Dukat’s non-apology to Kira in “Indiscretion” and even a bit like Garak’s recent musings in “Things Past.” Very interesting. Sloyan and Auberjonois get a real theatrical momentum going when Sisko appears in the doorway to the lab. He’s there to inform Odo that Starfleet is licking its chops over this Changeling and (as others have noted) in a story beat very much like “The Offspring” is going to take over the project if he doesn’t start producing results. I don’t love that we are repeating one of the few unpleasant contrivances from that story...I mean, why can’t Starfleet send a specialist or two to help Odo and keep notes instead of either letting him go rogue or taking over completely? Why are middle grounds so hard? However, this does set up an additional parallel between Odo and Mora during the Occupation; now Odo is under the gun from a government that seems indifferent to the nuances of the child’s emotional needs. So it sucks, but, you know, it builds character.

Act 3 : ***, 17% 

Reluctantly, Odo consents to start using some of Dr Mora’s techniques on the Changeling. He tries to mitigate his discomfort by offering effusive apologies to the infant as he proceeds.

I see you. I hear you. I’m going to torture you.

So, Mora uses a human aphorism that originates in the Christian bible (“spare the rod...”). This clumsy writing broadcasts to us exactly what Echevarria imagined his theme to be here. It’s very useful to put Odo, the tough-on-crime hardass, into the position of being the hyper lefty P.C. baby who would, presumably, call child protective services at the suggestion of spanking. If Odo of all people considers these techniques to be abusive, based on his first-hand experience, then we are far more likely to sympathise with that position. But it’s difficult to argue with Mora:

MORA: Spare the rod, spoil the child. Odo, without discomfort the changeling will be perfectly comfortable to remain in its gelatinous state. It'll just lie there, never realising it has the ability to mimic other forms, never living up to its potential.

And, in a roundabout way, this touches on the Star Trek ethos. The drive to better oneself does require some sort of challenge or discomfort to overcome. Grandpa Sisko may not face financial ruin if his restaurant fails, but he still struggles to be the best chef and restaurateur he can be. Anyway, Odo subjects the infant to a mild shock which coaxes it into the centre of a testing platform, and Odo is elated to have elicited a responses from his ward.

MORA: I smiled the first time you did that. Little did I realise you'd end up hating me for it.

Well enough of the compelling character work, we’re back to the damned B plot. Miles is rubbing Kira’s swollen feet because I guess Keiko is too busy not having a job and that scene would rob us the opportunity to grind this sitcom bullshit into the ground. Shakaar and Miles start arguing over how best to touch Kira as she screams at them about how she’s ready to give birth. Uh huh. Clearly the sight of these two nimrods sparring over the territory that her body has become releases a toxic level of endorphins into her system. Right.

As we cut back to the A plot, Odo and Mora have accelerated their progress with the infant to the point where it’s out-performing Odo at that stage. Odo admits that the hostility he felt for Mora actually led him to underperform out of spite for his would-be father.

MORA: Well someday, if you're very lucky, this changeling will give you the satisfaction of saying, “thank you very much, you did so much for me.” Then again, it may leave the way you did. It will announce that it's striking out on its own and you will never hear from it again.

Ouch. But just then, the infant reaches out to Odo, attempting to mimic his face. It really is incredible how a small bit of CGI animation, a distinct roman nose and the performance of two actors can cause such a well of emotion. What a splendid moment.

Act 4 : ***.5, 17% 

The two men temporarily forget their animosity and trip over each other in the excitement of their progress with the Changeling. It’s an odd combination of the estranged father/son pair bonding over shared success in a scientific task they’re both invested in (which is a well-trodden trope) and the excitement of seeing the child grow and demonstrate a connection to its parent, almost like saying its first word (yet another trope). Somehow, squashing them together like this yields a sum greater than its parts. Mora congratulates Odo on his approach; having established a rapport with the infant (what we had earlier dismissed as a complete waste of time) is what is allowing the Changeling to develop so rapidly. AND it means that the relationship between it and its father/teacher is founded upon curiosity and affection instead of resentment and animosity. Odo is even able to express gratitude to Mora, and Mora is almost mowed over by a profound joy at this expression. It’s really not fair how much the sight of these two gruff assholes showing each other love and appreciation after years of intractable pain is so deeply moving.

How can we possibly ruin it all? Why, with the return of rattles, gongs and aggravating clichés, that’s how! Sigh...we’re back to the birthing chamber and it seems like it’s really going to happen this time. But of course Shakaar doesn’t want Miles to see Kira’s magical Bajoran vagina because, you know, MEN! So, they start to spar again and Kira kicks them out. Miles has to miss another one of his children being born. And Keiko backs her up. I hate all of you so very much. All of you. All of this.

All right enough of that. Odo is poking about behind Quark’s bar after hours. He’s already proved to be partial to the sauce in his human form, but at least now he’s drinking to celebrate rather than mourn his own existence. Quark is amusingly suspicious of Odo’s good mood.

QUARK: No. It doesn't fit. If you're happy, something's very wrong in the world. The centre cannot not hold.

Quark’s presence in the scene provides Auberjonois the perfect sounding board for another Odo monologue; it really makes all the difference.

ODO: It's strange. Over the past few months, I came to accept the fact that I'd never have any contact with my people again. They rejected me, they turned me into a humanoid. A part of me was lost forever. But that little ball of goo back in the lab changed everything. I feel as if I'm experiencing what it is to be a changeling again. And somehow, being a solid doesn't seem so bad anymore.

Damn it if I didn’t tear up just a little bit here. The way René’s voice breaks ever so slightly during this reveal is truly masterful. Manipulative as hell, but masterful. Of course, that means it’s time for the crisis. The computer makes contact to inform him that the Changeling is displaying strange symptoms, and in the lab, Mora confirms that the infant is dying.

Act 5 : ***.5, 17%

While Bashir and Mora attempt to save its life, we finally end the insipid B plot as Kira has Bajoran birth gasms and allows the buffoons to enter and “behave.” They bump into each other on they’re way back in to the room in an attempt to get me to break my television.

Outside the infirmary, Bashir emerges to inform Odo that there’s nothing more they can do. Odo is left to grieve with his goo. He pours the infant out into his hands and pleads with it not to die which is...the perfect whiff of irony to add to this lovely scene; Odo has returned to a state of childlike innocence.

And then, suddenly, it integrates itself into Odo’s body. Odo steps out of the infirmary, sheds his uniform and shape-shifts into that Tarkalean hawk which soars about the promenade. A well-earned bittersweet moment. I’ll come back to the implications of this at the end.

Kira says goodbye to Shakaar and Mora says goodbye to Odo. The two friends then meet and share a brief conversation about joy and loss, about that inescapable beautiful tragedy that is the cycle of life and death, about unexpected connections and missed opportunities. And they walk away together.

Episode as Functionary : ***.5, 10%

If they had managed to write the birth of Kirayoshi without all that soul-crushing sitcom drivel, we’d be looking at something close to a four-star outing here. While the early monologues are on the slow side and some of the writing is a tad sloppy and obvious, the character beats are all very well earned and take advantage of established relationships and minor plot details beautifully. The last few scenes between Odo and Mora, Odo and Quark, and Odo and Kira are all quite superb, and the episode managed to extract some tears from me.

Jammer asks, “Some of the qualms I have involve the ‘big picture’ of Odo becoming human in the first place. What exactly were the creators trying to say?” To which I reply: Odo used his experiences and his trauma to bridge the gap between solids and Changelings so that this infant, which would have died on its own anyway or likely been subjected to a similar trauma as Odo himself was, could have a profoundly meaningful impact on its Universe. Odo being restored to his shape-shifting status is *SPOILER* important to the resolution of the entire series, and it is intentional that he should recover those abilities through an act of kindness towards an unsocialised member of his race rather than somehow gain forgiveness from the Founders. Odo acted in the best spirit of Star Trek humanism and has been given the ability to extend that spirit, eventually, to resolve the coming conflict. But we’ll get there when we get there.

The A plot overcame the limitations of some unconvincing props, and bottle-show confines to tell a story with a truly dynamic range of emotional peaks and valleys. Auberjonois and Sloyan give gripping performances and I think the final twist is completely earned. The B plot is a blight against fiction and makes me want to put the entire cast into an electrostatic chamber set on full power. So all in all, this is the most consistent sequel to “The Alternate” you could imagine.

Final Score : ***
William B
Tue, Oct 13, 2020, 1:46pm (UTC -6)
@Elliott, I don't have much time, or much to add, but I really dug your write-ups of both this and "Alter Ego." Kudos.
Tue, Oct 13, 2020, 10:21pm (UTC -6)
@William B

I hope you're well, my friend. We finally secured a contract for the next year, so I'm easing back into my routine, such as it can be.
Peter G.
Tue, Oct 13, 2020, 10:53pm (UTC -6)
I also liked the review, Elliott. For my part I like the B plot more than you do because I suspect I'm more amenable to a shifting of styles between scenes. In my theatrical experience I've played around with shifting between comedy, farce, dead seriousness, broad, and then natural scene work, within the span of one scene, for particular storytelling effect. From that standpoint I think I have always understood on some level that the DS9 writers had a great interest in differing styles and mixing in comedy with drama. I like that a lot, even though admittedly they fail some of the time to realize the comic potential. But somehow it's never knocked my attention out of position to have serious and not-so-serious scenes back to back. True, that needs a judicious approach: you can't have Best of Both Worlds undercut by Joe Piscopo doing Jerry Louis. But here I somehow like the lighter approach to the B-story.

In particular one thing I like about this B story is that it turns the already imbalanced threesome of Keiko/O'Brien/Kira into a more unbalanced foursome, with Shakaar and O'Brien especially tense about the dynamic. That they should devolve into acting like children is oh-so-human, and despite being almost broad comedy at times, I think it does contribute to the A plot. Something about how disarmed Shakaar is in his typically humble stature, and O'Brien in his pragmatic solid presence, fits with Odo coming on so strong and being disarmed by both the baby and Dr. Mora. The common theme, I suppose, is that events of this kind of weight demolish the person you usually try to be and cause the inner child to shine out, for better or worse at times. Parents with young children may be familiar with the fact that a screaming baby can turn the parent into a screaming baby before long, or the first smile turn the parent into an awestruck baby in turn. So I do think these fit to at least some extent. As far as the Bajoran ritual, the gong, and all that, I think it's mostly the writing trying to be cute and quirky, for which YMMV.

That being said, I agree it's a strong episode and that I personally never felt cheated by the ending as some seem to. While I regret that they never really did anything useful about Odo being human, once it was clear that it was going nowhere this was a good way to give him back his powers.
Wed, Oct 14, 2020, 7:45am (UTC -6)
@Peter G

Thanks as always for the thoughtful reply. I guess I should clarify that I don't object to the B story in concept, but in execution. Unlike in, say, "Shakaar," I agree that as the A story gets heavier and heavier, you need something to buoy it up. I'll go one step further and say that the specific idea of bringing a child into the world at the same time a child dies is smart writing (I alluded to this in the review). I'll go even further and say that it was damned clever for them to forge an episode which "corrects" two ongoing character facets (Kira's pregnancy and Odo's solid status) at the same time. On paper, all of this makes sense. In execution...this is supposed to be funny, right? I know comedy is more subjective than drama, but this kind of content actually makes me angry. It's based entirely on broad assumptions about the sexes which is regressive, lazy as hell, and completely lacking in insight. You can do comedy without turning your characters into sitcom sideshows.

The bit at the end with Kira feeling the loss of the baby was great. And it built up from absolutely nothing because she spent the entire episode rolling her eyes at those big dumb men.
Peter G.
Wed, Oct 14, 2020, 11:09am (UTC -6)
I've never found cause to try to explain why they are doing the "big dumb men" routine, but upon reflection, and perhaps to excuse why they thought they were doing it, I think maybe the answer lies in perspective. One thing I notice about the foursome scenes is that Kira is this Cleopatra type presence whose mood, needs, and overall comportment are at best mercurial. Between the sneezing, the gongs, the ritual, losing it at the men, and even the ridiculous fact of needing to be calm (which is an obvious flip of what a human birth is like), the overall tone is potentially making Kira (or women?) out to be nuts. It would, that is, if this was meant as an objective view or critique of the woman-center-of-attention situation. But actually I think what's going on is what we are seeing is the outsider perspective, O'Brien (and to an extent Shakaar) seeing this whole procedure and life event that really their only participation in is to stand by and watch helplessly. The fact that all sorts of arcane elements are 'needed' to facilitate the birth may be a manner of expressing how from the husband's perspective everything just seems strange and alien, from the meds to the various positions or techniques various women use to facilitate a birth. Some people use doulas or nursemaids, some have yoga techniques or breathing tricks; I think what this episode is doing is showing us the sort of absurd way this can play to the outsider - "what is all this stuff, aren't you just giving birth?"

So rather than paint O'Brien as a dumb male (a trope I suspect I hate as much as you do) I think we might be seeing him actually *feeling like* a dumb male; useless and unable to engage in any practical way, which is usually how he deals with any situation. Here he is dumb in an engineering sense. To the extent that Shakaar is way more of an outsider to this procedure than even O'Brien is, I think the writing is playing up how much effort he's exerting to somehow insert himself into the scenario and be important; not because he's piggish, but because on a very understandable level he wants to participate. The fact that realistically there's not much he or O'Brien can actually do, both being very pragmatic doers, is I think what sets off this petty contest to prove they're useful and relevant. I think the comedy works in this sense because it points to a reality of the situation which can't be altered and which speaks to their character of being men of action.
William B
Wed, Oct 14, 2020, 11:14am (UTC -6)
@Elliott, thanks! I'm doing fairly well. Busy time. Glad to hear you'll have more episodes notes time.

I liked your connection to Jetrel. I wonder if there's a Grand Unified Sloyan Theory to write. Of course none of this is intentional, but it's curious that certain themes repeat in his various character iterations. Like Alexander, Mora is given an opportunity to "go back and fix" earlier mistakes in life having to do with child-rearing, though unlike Mora Future Alexander attempts to use the opposite strategies that were used in his rearing; and he comes to a kind of father-son reconciliation at the end. Mora and Jetrel capitulate to some degree to the external pressures of their belligerent rulers, against their better judgment; Future Alexander and Jarok, having more power within their respective governments, take genuine steps to buck against the warlike attitudes of those peoples in favour of a more Federation-like approach, partly for the sake of their families, in a way that backfires in some way, leading to suicide or attempt thereof (Future Alexander even attempting retroactive suicide!). The stories are all in some way about the conflict between more "enlightened" Federation-ish values and the pragmatic reality and utility of violent or draconian measures in a warlike setting, and the political versus personal (family) dynamic. I mean, few would dispute that "The Defector" is better than "Firstborn" at it, but still, interesting.
Thu, Oct 15, 2020, 6:01pm (UTC -6)
The comparison of every character the same actor has played is an interesting idea.

Doing Vaughn Armstrong would be quite the undertaking.
Fri, Oct 23, 2020, 8:46am (UTC -6)
This episode bothers me for the fact Star Gleet wants to come in and take over everything ! TELLING Odo that they are going to take over if he and Dr Mora do not start getting more results. I understand that they are afraid of the Dominion , but still it is what bothers me.
Tue, Nov 3, 2020, 9:08am (UTC -6)
This episode is highly praised, but I found it almost unwatchably bad.

We have Odo like an angsty teenager, feuding with Dr Mora, his father. Odo thinks Mora treated him harshly as a kid, and Mora thinks he "did what he had to do" to "help Odo grow up into a good little boy". They bicker and quarrel for thirty minutes, acting out all the usual television sitcom cliches. Odo even comes close to yelling "I HATE YOU! I WISH YOU WEREN'T MY DAD!" on a few occasions.

The biggest cliche comes next. Odo has a child of his own - a glob of Changeling goo conveniently arrives at DS9 (why is Quark always the one finding this stuff?) - and faced with the task of fatherhood himself, Odo begins to sympathize with his daddy.

This is the hoariest and most middle-brow of cliches: the angsty child hates his parents until he gets a kid of his own and realizes, suddenly and with miraculous clarity, that being a parent is hard and, gee, maybe Mommy and Daddy meant well.

Odo and Mora thus kiss and make up. As is conventional in such stories, the shapeshifter also dies in the last act.

Echoing all this is a B-plot in which Miles and Shakaar watch over Kira as she gives birth. Like Odo and Mora, who battle over who is the better father, Miles and Shakaar bicker over who is the better surrogate daddy. They feud like a couple of silly kids, while Kira huffs and pants in the background.

The episode closes with Odo mournful over his lost child, and Kira mourning the loss of hers. Odo and Mora put away their differences, and Miles and Shakaar put away theirs.

The episode's intentions, and mirroring effects are so heavy handed, so so obvious, it's hard to take this all seriously. Too often DS9 takes soap-opera cliches, places them in space and then pats itself on the back for being daring. These tropes are rarely pushed further into an interesting place.

Incidentally, the Dr Bashir in this episode is a Changeling spy. Given how manipulative the Changelings are, is it possible that the baby Changeling was planted on DS9 to test Odo? Perhaps to determine how sympathetic he still is to his people? Just a fan-theory, of course, but Bashir does oversee Odo's relationship with the goo, and once Odo passes the test, maybe it was always intended that Odo's powers be reinstated.
Fri, Feb 26, 2021, 5:01pm (UTC -6)
Anytime James Sloyan shows up in Trek, good things happen.
Sun, Nov 21, 2021, 12:51pm (UTC -6)
For the most part I like this episode. I kind of agree that the restoration of Odo's shapeshifting abilities seemed a little soon, and a little too easily resolved, especially by an infant changeling. I agree that there are plenty of valid fan theories on why this makes sense, but the fact that we have to resort to fan theories is a sign that the actual writing was a little sloppy.

But all that aside, its still a strong story. At least the A-Story is.

The B-Story, at it's best points, is boring as watching paint dry. At it's worst points it's downright aggravating. I won't go into detail, as everyone has already covered what needs to be said.

One thing I find weird about the A Story is the way Starfleet butts into the changeling's development process and assumes ownership of the whole project, presuming to set time tables for Odo, etc. That seemed very out of character for the Federation, especially since they weren't the ones that discovered the thing in the first place. Quark bought the thing and sold it to Odo. The Federation wasn't involved at all. If anyone could maybe make a claim on the thing it might be Bajor, since Odo is a Bajoran officer and they are on a Bajoran station. But technically, Odo was investigating the thing on his own time. It would be more in character for Starfleet to work with Odo and to try and negotiate with him (or with the Bajoran government) for access to the changeling and their findings on it. And they could have still had the time constraint placed on Odo if the Bajoran government contacted him (possibly through Kira) and said "Starfleet is on our backs wanting to know everything we can find out about this changeling, and frankly we're curious too." and then THEY threatened to take the changeling away. It would have made a little more sense and been more in keeping with Starfleet's regular behavior.

I guess we're just supposed to believe that Starfleet is being more pushy and unreasonable because it's war time and the changeling could teach them a lot.
Sat, Feb 12, 2022, 5:28pm (UTC -6)
The baby delivery was obviously meant to be comedic but fell completely flat. It was so interminable it kind of felt like you were in a hospital actually waiting for a delivery.

I don't much like Dr Mora either.

I just dislike those whinging angsty guest roles Treks have from time to time.

LOL, I just realized the actor playing Mora played at least a couple of those roles, the Romulan in TNG's The Defector and the guest in Voyager's Jetrel. I guess I just don't like that actor, or at least his Trek appearances.
Sat, Feb 12, 2022, 5:31pm (UTC -6)
Looks like most people here liked James Sloyan's, but sure seems to me he plays every character the same whinging way.
Thu, Mar 10, 2022, 4:03pm (UTC -6)
One thing I didnt really understand is why Starfleet thinks it has any authority whatsoever over the baby changeling.

It's a Bajoran station and the Bajorans JUST pulled out of their admission process. Odo is not a Federation citizen and he came into possession of the material through what I assume is a legal transaction with a Ferengi (also not a Federation citizen).

The part where Sisko comes in and says "Starfleet wants daily updates" was just bizarre. They had literally zero jurisdiction. Odo could have taken the changling and left for Bajor and they wouldn't have any say in it whatsoever. They administer the station and that's literally it.
Wed, Jul 27, 2022, 3:19pm (UTC -6)
Amazing work by Rene Auberjonois as Odo. He is totally convincing in his portrayal of a huge range of emotions all while playing to a platter of something like gelatin mixed with motor oil. While I think Patrick Stewart hold the title as "best actor in a Trek series," Auberjonois is on the podium as well.

It's poignant he opted to end his life as California law allows (in 2019 at age 79) when it became clear his lung cancer had spread to his brain and his case was terminal.
Sat, Sep 10, 2022, 11:17am (UTC -6)
Kind of a drag but picks up in a few--very few--parts. First the criticisms...

Worf's line "Constable, why are you talking to your beverage?" pretty much encapsulates a good half of this ep. Now, Tom Hanks talking to a volleyball for two hours not just made sense but also made for compelling viewing because it was, well, the premiss of the entire movie. This was just Snoozer Central. Also, yet another confrontation between Dodo and that "doctor" dude? Hasn't that been done, like, a half a dozen times already?!?

That whole story could've been condensed into ten minutes max.

The Keera's birth saga... As someone wrote, it was refreshing not to have the usual trope of the screaming woman who, while making edgy quips throughout, crushes the bones in the hand of the hapless buffoon of a man who's there with her but who doesn't know what the hell's going on and who is too weak to handle the sight of a bit of placenta (no Toxic Masculinity® there!) while the Strong Womxn™ stoically pushes out a baby the size of an asteroid though the opening no bigger than the eye of a needle. Or something like that. 🙄🙄🙄 Instead, we get incense and rattles and silly gongs and even sillier duds, making the whole thing look like some Hare Krishna-offshoot seance. The men are still depicted as weak, pitiful soyboys though. Smiley and Keera's toyboy even almost had a cat-fight at one stage, causing two Strong Womxn™ to tell them to clear out. And then, THEN! The two idiots couldn't even walk through the door without screwing the pooch. Aren't men so pathetic and dumb (when they're not raping and pillaging, of course)! Who needs 'em! So, yeah, great to see some things never change, amirite... 🙄🙄🙄

Altogether, could TOTALLY have done without the B-story of birth. Just teleport the kid--sorry, "clump of cells"--outta there and be done with it. Two seconds, bingo, bango, done.

Now the good parts...

Dodo and the doc putting aside their differences and bonding in exhilaration at the scientific "miracle" they accomplished. A "Eureka!" moment, of sorts. Cute.

Dodo getting all mushy about being a pseudo-dad, only to experience the pain of seeing his "child" hurting and dying. Powerful.

Dodo being a shapeshifter again. Excellent. His "solid" character was becoming pretty redundant, excruciatingly tedious at times, so, hopefully, his regaining his party trick is going to allow for some more exciting plots to come.

Two stars. Being generous.
Sat, Mar 25, 2023, 2:59pm (UTC -6)
Here's a bit of a question that I often ask while watching episodes with Dr. Mora in them.

Why was Dr. Mora allowed to achieve his status in the scientific community while under the Cardassian occupation?

The quick answer is, because he was the one who discovered Odo, and he used that as leverage to win the Cardassians favor.

But I don't feel like that makes a lot of sense.

It was heavily implied that, during the occupation, practically all Bajorans were basically looked at as just a source of labor to meet the Cardassian's needs. Why would the Cardassians allow Bajorans to become leaders in any sort of scientific field? Assuming they didn't block Bajorans from achieving the necessary education, I can't see the Cardassians allowing the Bajorans to ever serve as anything more than aids and assistants to Cardassian scientists.

So that leaves me with 2 possible conclusions.

1. Odo was discovered before the occupation started. Before Bajoran scientists were under Cardassian supervision. And once Odo's true value was uncovered, Mora used his existing knowledge of the project very early on to establish himself as the leading expert.

2. Odo was discovered after the occupation already started and for some reason, once his value was uncovered, he wasn't immediately snatched up by Cardassian scientists eager to take credit. Cardassian negligence lead to Mora positioning himself as leading expert.

I find both of these potential conclusions unlikely. Since the Occupation was supposedly 50 years long, I find it hard to imagine Mora discovered Odo before it started. And the second conclusion just makes the Cardassians seem stupid. They had their dumb moments, but they were usually pretty thorough in their oppression of Bajorans.

So the only other explanation I can think of is that Mora was a collaborator in some capacity that was never unearthed, and he was already on the Cardassian's good side when he discovered Odo.
Sat, Mar 25, 2023, 3:51pm (UTC -6)
"It was heavily implied that, during the occupation, practically all Bajorans were basically looked at as just a source of labor to meet the Cardassian's needs. Why would the Cardassians allow Bajorans to become leaders in any sort of scientific field?"
Dr. Mora mentioned that his Cardassian superiors were pushing hard to get results and Odo wasn't seen as anything very important. Considering how many intelligent lifeforms there are, a little bit of goo in a glass doesn't seem earth shattering.
Furthermore, while the occupation seemed very repressive, using intelligent people for research, is just good occupying. What is better for the Cardassian Empire, Dr Mora digging a ditch or Dr, Mora doing research?
Sun, May 7, 2023, 10:37am (UTC -6)

"Odo definitely cared, and clearly never stopped caring (him talking to the baby changeling as it dies is heartbreaking). It just feels somewhat off that he even allowed Mora to begin using his methods in the first place, *even* under pressure. One mention from Sisko of Starfleet Command is all it takes for him to begrudgingly let Mora have a go. It doesn't quite feel like enough to erode Odo's bitter resistance."

Another writing failure from Rene Echevarria. That's two ruined Odo scripts! I guess this rewatch is going to be shorter than I expected. Odo was a very complex character, and this season the writing team is clearly not up for the job.

It felt very off, EXTREMELY OFF. Mora didn't know he was torturing a child initially, but he's back with a big sadistic grin and one hand in his pants, excited to torture another child. TNG was a little better about topics with characters (and audience members) who've had rough childhoods, but here there's no gentleness. It's hard to watch. If most Bajorians are like that, then maybe I should be a little bit more understanding towards Cardassians.

Starfleet is SO concerned about this potential changeling, but it's legal to buy and sell changelings or changeling matter on their starbase? Starfleet intelligence must have severe staffing shortages.

Odo is honorable and stubborn and hardened, I don't think he gives a damn about Starfleet, but he does here to fit the plot. A more consistent treatment of the character would have had him disappearing with the changeling, because most people will do whatever they need to do to protect a baby.

It was always my assumption that the founders could not live with their cruelty towards Odo and sent something that would return him to his normal form. (As far as I know, that's just my theory.)

As much as I love Major Kira, the plot of her giving birth seemed copied out a sitcom. The behavior of Shakaar, her romantic interest, seems idiotic, to put it kindly. Just how much suffering does O'Brien have to endure during this show?!? He needs to give Shakaar a good taste of his Irish fists.

This had some good ideas but the bulk of the script feels tone deaf and unearned.
Sun, May 7, 2023, 1:04pm (UTC -6)
For what it's worth, it makes the most sense to me that Odo had some psychological change that froze him into his common humanoid state. I think it's the best explanation. He's changed into a very good copy of a human, with the founders' help, and the 'baby' helped him unlock a psychological experience needed to return to his most authentic self.

@Luke "The Founders are indeed assholes"

I feel like somebody should have said this on the show. Your comment made me laugh, but it's so true. But also, Star Trek had a problem with establishing something in one small scene or episode, and then sticking with it forever. I'm sure we can all think of a few things they've done that with.

I think most the biggest revelation for me in this episode is actually Kira. I have to admit that although I have rewatched the series in entirety eight times, in my recent rewatches I skip the religious content as much as possible. The idea that Maj. Kira is so extremely religious that everyone's needs are secondary to her religious customs just paints her as a nut. Is this about a healthy baby, or is it about her religion?

@Fenn - just a note to say I love your writing!
Mon, Aug 7, 2023, 1:13pm (UTC -6)
It has beautiful things in this episode, but the general stance the episode takes is horrible. Mora has been, but still is a gaslighting, egotistical abusive 'parent' that keeps turning everything about him. He belittles Odo, he is playing out the 'your brother is better than you' even... interesting dynamics if you want to portray the dynamics of a harmful parent-child relationship.... the episode treats him as right. (And this happening after it has already been done in the other episode doesn't help.)

I am even more upset at the notion that you have to punish or prod or harm a child to get it to do anything because otherwise it won't. "Spare the rod, spoil the child" - and then it's rewarded as an actual insight by having this be the way to get it to shift forms. It's such a shallow take, and it's been so disproven by science... children develop because they have a lot of innate drive to explore, be curious, develop. You don't need to electroshock them out of their comfort zone. You really, really don't. And yet, the episode states that as truth.

(And it's not hard at all to get a different take on this, because while children come with that wonderful curiosity and drive to explore, this also tends to put themselves in trouble quite reliably. So then you suddenly have to put into place some boundaries, and as a parent you are still in the position where you have to doublecheck your values.)

It should have so much more to say about that.

I also agree that the recent episodes didn't do anything meaningful or interesting with Odo becoming humanoid, especially not the physical side of it. I wish it had been done. (Should have made The Ascent a much better episode if that had been more of a focus.) Then the ending would be so much more rewarding. It was touching.

Mixed feelings here.
Mon, Aug 7, 2023, 2:13pm (UTC -6)
"I am even more upset at the notion that you have to punish or prod or harm a child to get it to do anything because otherwise it won't. "Spare the rod, spoil the child"
That they included that spare the rod thing is pretty awful but I'm not sure that they were arguing for child abuse. This about a baby founder, a foundling, not a Human child.

The episode portrays three options on how to deal with the foundling. Mora's old strategy which was pretty hurtful; Odo's strategy which produced no results and a combination of the two in which the baby founder was nudged, not hurt. Mora stated that Odo's way of connecting with the foundling produced far better results than Mora's old approach. In the end how would you motivate a baby founder who is content just being a little pile of goo to not remain a pile of goo forever?

I always saw this episode to be more about fatherhood, caring and love. As you say Mora and Odo have a difficult relationship and Mora has personality flaws but he seems to honestly regret what he did and genuinely care for Odo as a kind of surrogate son.

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