In the sixth episode of the third season ofÂ Deep Space Nine, Quark technically buys a child and that’s the LEAST MESSED UP THING ABOUT THIS EPISODE. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watchÂ Star Trek.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of nonconsensual medical procedures.
Seriously, the more I think about it, “The Abandoned” is like the cynical relative to “I, Borg.” If that episode supported the idea that Hugh, programmed to be part of a collective and to think only in the context of an entire group, could break from his creation, then “The Abandoned” goes off into a much more distressing world. This is such an upsetting episode, and IT HINTS AT HOW MUCH WORSE THIS SERIALIZED STORY WILL GET. If this unnamed Jem’Hadar can’t break from their programming, then how will the Jem’HadarÂ everÂ be stopped?
I refuse to apologize for all the talk ofÂ Fallout 4Â at the opening of the video for this episode. Look, for the rest of my life, whenever I see a pile of junk or scrap, I’m going to think, “Hey, there might be some aluminum or a hidden safe in there. Better go look.” It’s gotten so bad that I almost refused to throw away a bottle cap a couple days ago. I CAN’T HELP IT.Â THIS IS WHO I HAVE BECOME.
Anyway, Quark bought aÂ baby. I assume, then, that the ship was Jem’Hadar? Or perhaps it was only coincidental that it carried a Jem’Hadar baby in stasis? You know, when you type that out, it’s just as horrifying as you think it sounds. Perhaps even more. Lord, THE FOUNDERS ARE SO FUCKED UP. Does this mean thatÂ allÂ Jem’Hadar are engineered? Every single one of them??? I believe we heard that in the opening of this season, but holy shit, this episode confirms it.
Well, now that I think about itâ€¦ the writers never named Bumper Robinson’s character. Not once. That should have been a clue, a hint that this specific Jem’Hadar was never going to break the mold. But I had hope going into this. I thought that if any character could most relate to himÂ andÂ could provide him with the means to be different, than Odo would be that person. And by gods, he triesÂ so hard. It’s heart-wrenching, isn’t it? Odo refused to let the boy become a specimen, and he refused to accept that a person was wholly defined by their genetic make-up. He even sought to give him an outlet for his aggression!
He provides choices, and that’s what ultimately destroys me so much about this episode. This was destined to live a life of obedience and violence, and Odo was the only chance he’d ever have to get a choice to doÂ anythingÂ else. But how can Odo fight back againstÂ programming? Every cell in that teenager’s body told him to fight, told him to view the Changelings as superior, and told him that the rest of the world was inferior and must be conquered. What other option was there for him?
I imagine that if Starfleet had not pushed Sisko into ordering that the boy be sent to be tested and examined, Odo might have had a chance to change him.Â Might, I say, but that’s a whole lot better thanÂ not at all. This episode is as much a condemnation of Starfleet’s actions as it is for the Founders. No one viewed this young Jem’Hadar as anything but something to take “knowledge” from. No one asked him if he wanted to help the Federation; the assumption was that heÂ belongedÂ to them. How is a moral thing to do or believe?
Lord, this episode is depressing.
I think that this secondary plot is charming at times and a great way to hint that Jake’s story is not going to end with him at Starfleet. At the same time, I think that the writers don’t really define things as well as they could. Sisko’s objection to Mardah is two-fold: he feels like Jake should date someone who isn’t a dabo girl, and he is uncomfortable that Mardah is four years older than his son.
Unfortunately, “The Abandoned” only addresses one of these plots, and I found it distracting that the latter of them wasn’t addressed once after Sisko brought it up. There’s aÂ fantasticÂ story about not judging people by their profession here. It’s written beautifully, and through that, we learn that Jake is a budding poet. It’s so good! I want more of this! But somehow, Sisko’s appreciation of Jake’s creative journey means that he doesn’t care that Mardah is older than his son? Look, I suppose this wouldn’t bother me so much of Mardah didn’t look well over a decade older than Jake. The age discrepancy feels glaring, and for it not to be addressed is glaring, too. That doesn’t mean I needed the show to condemn it, either. There’s nuance possible in this conversation. There is so much potential for storytelling, too! I’ve been on either side of this age gap (my last partner was 10 years older than me, and my current is 7.5 years younger than me), and THERE IS LOTS TO TALK ABOUT.
None of that appears here. It’s very weird.
The video for “The Abandoned” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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