Mark Watches ‘Deep Space Nine’: S04E26 – Broken Link

In the twenty-sixth and final episode of the fourth season of Deep Space Nine, well, the end is here. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek. 

I think there are better finales in previous seasons, but “Broken Link” works as a great bridge to the story that will probably occupy a lot of season 5. (HOW HAVE I MADE IT THROUGH FOUR SEASONS ALREADY.) I expected some sort of big, grand affair, but the writers chose something far more insidious and personal for a finale, at least until the final moments.

But I don’t want to discount the story of Odo’s reckoning because it is an important chapter for his character. This episode calls back to a lot of his past. From his affection for Kira to him killing a Changeling to protect his friends to the continued threat of war with the Dominion and the Klingon empire, this is Deep Space Nine at its most serialized. (So far, that is. I ASSUME IT’S GOING TO GET EVEN MORE COMPLEX.) Odo’s quest for humanity is given a tragic, ironic twist, though. But how? I don’t have many questions concerning the logistics of “Broken Link” aside from the main impetus: How exactly did the Changelings infect Odo in the first place? Is that even going to be addressed? I suppose that the point might be that the Changelings can get anywhere at any time to do whatever they want, and that does vibe with the twist at the end. But that seems like a strange thing to ignore in terms of storytelling, you know?

However, I could easily look past it because the story was strong enough that I didn’t need it. I like a good slow burn, and “Broken Link” is not nearly as action-packed as this season (or previous finales) has been. That’s okay, though. Odo’s steady decline and decay is an unnerving image, both literally and metaphorically. By the end of this episode, his identity as a Changeling has changed as much as his physical body has. What does it mean to belong to a people who reject you so summarily, who torment your friends, who offer companionship and culture and meaning, only to do such horrible things to you? There’s no sympathy offered to Odo by the head Changeling or the Great Link, unless you count mercy as sympathy. Over the course of this episode, we learn that these people infected Odo in the first place, not out of love and concern, but to manipulate him into facing his “trial.”

I guess what’s most sad about this is that Odo’s own moral sense is so goddamn pure, y’all. He could have justifiably avoided this whole affair, but he willingly chooses to have himself judged. It’s only fair in his mind that as a man who wields justice on DS9, he must be held to the same standards he holds others. And what does he get? He’s turned into a human, though the Founders leave him with his “Changeling” face. This is how Odo finally gets something he’s quietly desired all along. There’s no joy in it; it’s a tragedy, a cruelty offered as justice, and it’s one of the more disturbing things in a season FULL OF DISTURBING THINGS.

It’s not the sole bit of friction in “Broken Link.” I was fascinated by Garak’s role, especially when it became clear that he wanted justice of his own, though entirely at the expense of other people. It was a very Garak decision because he’s such a calculating character. While I think it would have been great to have Kira part of the action, I do appreciate that the writers acknowledged the implications of their story in “Body Parts.” So, I’m guessing that Keiko’s child will be born next season?

Ah, no predictions now. That’ll come next. Though I feel safe saying here that season five is going to be fucked up because GOWRON IS A CHANGELING. For how long??? Y’all, what if he was a Changeling since the start of the season? What if the Klingon aggression was the Changelings all along? Oh my god, THEY LITERALLY WARNED US THAT THEY WERE EVERYWHERE AND I STILL DIDN’T LISTEN.

I need the next episode now.

The video for “Broken Link” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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