In the seventeenth episode of the first season of Deep Space Nine, a mysterious visitor puts Odo in peril. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
I definitely think one of the three stories here is much better than the others, but this was still a delight of an episode. I like it when I’m surprised, and I realize that’s a pretty funny thing to say when I’m basically surprised FOR A LIVING. But it’s the truth! I like when I think I know where a story is heading and I’m taken on a different path. For a good portion of “The Forsaken,” I thought we were getting a version of the Lwaxana Troi we had experienced on The Next Generation. In short? She’d show up, ruthlessly hit on someone, and then find love or introspection along the way.
Initially, I had this all figured out. Dr. Bashir would totally be the focus of her affection. Obviously! Who could resist someone so cute? But Julian was confined to an entirely different plot for the entirety of “The Forsaken,” and the episode morphed into something a whole lot more interesting than the obvious. Granted, that’s more the case with Odo’s story. I think that the subplots involving the titular forsaken being and Julian’s experience watching over the most annoying beings imaginable are both fairly straightforward. They’re not without their own bit of entertainment, though. I liked seeing Julian taken out of his comfort zone, especially since it amused Sisko so much. I think that there’s a really cool concept in O’Brien’s plot, too. It stands to reason that there are infant beings like the one who becomes attached to him and DS9 in this episode. I don’t know that the execution is as entertaining as the idea itself. Mostly, it exists as a puzzle to push along the main plot here. It provides a means to stick two people awkwardly in a confined space for way too much time.
WHICH IS A TROPE I GENUINELY LOVE, DESPITE THAT IT’S SO OBVIOUS AND RIDICULOUS, BUT I DON’T CARE. Much like the trope of forcing an enemy to work alongside their own enemy to achieve a common goal, it’s just one of those story beats that satisfies me endlessly. I like that Deep Space Nine is willing to explore the conflict that arose out of Lwaxana Troi being trapped in an elevator with Odo, especially since she’s the very first character to truly unnerve and bother him. It’s entertaining at first to see Odo act uncomfortably because… well, it’s not something we have ever seen before, have we? But that entertainment only lasts for a short while, especially since it was clear that Lwaxana wasn’t going to respect Odo’s boundaries. All of his body language was shouting his disinterest in her. (I still love the idea of an asexual aromatic Odo. PLEASE.)
So, that’s what the turbolift scene would be, right? Just endless scene after another where Lwaxana would be her ridiculous self while Odo tired to deflect her advances, right? EXCEPT NO. NOT AT ALL. I mean, it starts off that way, but as Odo gets closer and closer to the time where he’ll have to resort to his liquid form, his discomfort has a completely different context. Odo is an intensely private person, and he cannot imagine anything more intimate than someone getting to see this particular side of him. Understandably, it’s embarrassing and frightening. And of course, it’s made even worse because he’s stuck in a room with someone who’s a complete stranger to him.
Yet Lwaxana understands, at least in part because she’s so used to presenting a very specific version of herself to the world. She has no problem here admitting that, and in one of the most stunning scenes in her character’s history, she bridges the gap between her and Odo. Terrified to be seen as he really is, Lwaxana removes her wig and shows Odo who she really is in private, too. It’s such an incredible moment, and it allows Odo to feel comfortable enough during a time when he would otherwise feel miserable. Now, I don’t exactly know the logistics of holding Odo in one’s dress (how did he not leak through???), but I still appreciated the visual gesture. I don’t feel a need to nitpick it, you know? It worked for me, and it immediately made me want to see what became of Lwaxana and Odo. Would they become friends? Would he be interested in seeing her again? Hell, would he even be HAPPY to see her?
Regardless, I enjoyed this. A lot!
The video for “The Forsaken” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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