In the seventeenth episode of the fifth season ofÂ Deep Space Nine, I just want a good thing to happen to Odo, okay? If youâ€™re intrigued, then itâ€™s time for Mark to watchÂ Star Trek.Â
THIS IS ANYTHING BUT A SIMPLE INVESTIGATION. IT IS AN EXPERIMENT IN HEARTBREAK. Jesus, between Odo and Oâ€™Brien, Iâ€™m wondering if theÂ Deep Space NineÂ writers just love making these two punching bags for every sad and horrific story imaginable. Thatâ€™s not to suggest that I didnâ€™t like this episode. Itâ€™s a fantastic love letter to the noir genre; it develops Odo in spectacular ways; itâ€™s got a twist ending that genuinely surprised me. Itâ€™s justâ€¦ I am so sad for Odo, yâ€™all. SO SAD.
In many ways, the script for â€œA Simple Investigationâ€ sticks to the sexual tension and the mystery of a good noir. Arissa arrives on DS9 full of intrigue and ambiguity, just as the femme fatale often does in these types of stories. Sheâ€™s got something sheâ€™s looking for, and it turns out that Odo has just what she needs to get it. But from this point on, the writers quietly chisel away at all the tropes and archetypes that come with the noir genre. Arissaâ€™s long-lost daughter isnâ€™t real, first of all, and while lying is part of the genre anyway, this is the first chance for the show to take this episode in a shocking direction. Once Arissaâ€™s connections to the Orion Syndicate are made clear, weâ€™re tricked into thinking that weâ€™ve moved yet again into another noir trope.
Itâ€™s why I so deeply distrusted her as she flirted with Odo. How common is that story? How often have we seen this archetypical character flirt with someone just to get what they wanted? I also assumed the worst because this isÂ Star Trek; how often are guest characters allowed to remain on after their stories? So, as â€œA Simple Investigationâ€ began to change into a story about Odoâ€™s first romance, I kept thinking that something was deeply wrong with everything. And thatâ€™sÂ sad. I admit that! How was this woman using Odo? What horrible secret was she going to reveal?
Thereâ€™s the tragedy of â€œA Simple Investigationâ€: in the context of the moment, Arissa truly fell for Odo. There was no ulterior motive, no sleight of hand, no card up her sleeve. ISNâ€™T THAT CRUSHING. DOESNâ€™T THAT MAKE YOUR HEART WANT TO EXPLODE. Given that context, their scenes together â€“ especially the post-sex scene â€“ are especially heartbreaking. That conversation isÂ honest. Thereâ€™s no hidden meaning there, and she truly enjoyed his presence. Her fear of being unable to escape Draim? Real, too. Oh my god, that means all her stories about what Draim made her do are real, too. (Perhaps not her past of selling access to her mind? I suspect the Idanians planted that in order to make her vulnerable to Draim.) THIS IS SO FUCKED UP.
In the end, we never learn Arissaâ€™s name. It is unknown, as is most of her â€œrealâ€ life. The tragic reveal that she was programmed with a new identity to remain undercover is downright horrifying, especially given how this reveal then undermines Odoâ€™s entire experience. From his perspective, a monstrous thing has just happened, but to the Idanians? Theyâ€™ve successfully infiltrated Draimâ€™s circle and now have the information they need to take him down. In the grand scheme of things, that might be a great conclusion, but for Odo and the audience? It is SERIOUSLY FUCKING DEPRESSING.
There will be no closure for Odo. There canâ€™t be! This person has a husband and a whole life to return to, and while they might be sad about some aspect of that, Iâ€™m pretty sure Odo gets the short end of the stick here. HOW ARE THE OTHERS ON THE STATION GOING TO REACT TO THIS. Iâ€™m actually surprised we didnâ€™t get to see that, given that there were a number of scenes where the crew reacted to gossip over Odoâ€™s private activities. Ah, remember how sweet this all was? NOW ITâ€™S A PILE OF GARBAGE EMOTIONS, and itâ€™s allÂ Deep Space Nineâ€™sÂ fault.
Someone needs to give Odo a canonical hug, I swear.
The video for â€œA Simple Investigationâ€ can be downloadedÂ here for $0.99.
Mark Links Stuff
– I am now on Patreon! There are various levels of support, from $1 up to whatever you want! You’ll get to read a private blog, extra reviews, and other such rewards. I POST A LOT OF CUTE PHOTOS, OKAY. Think of it like a private Tumblr blog that only SPECIAL PEOPLE get to read.
– I have updated my list of conventions and events for the remainder of the year and much of next year.Â Â Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often.Â My next Double Features for Mark Watches have been announced here.
-Â Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook!Â I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!