The Great Star Trek DS9 Rewatch: A Man Alone

When a Bajoran smuggler is murdered in Quark’s holosuites, all signs point towards Odo being the killer. There was bad blood between the two men, and only a shapeshifter could have entered the holosuite undetected. Can the senior crew help Odo prove his innocence before he’s attacked by a Bajoran lynch mob?

We’re settling into proper soap opera with this episode, which follows a number of character threads with varying degrees of success, and introduces the second in a never-ending procession of Bajorans With A Past. The main plot is a fairly standard “did the cop take the law into his own hands?” story, albeit with a denouement that’s just a bit too silly to swallow.

Keiko

Keiko is upset about the move to DS9 and what it means for her career, until she spots Jake and Nog playing pranks on the Promenade. Her previously unmentioned lifelong dream to become a teacher kicks in, and she decides to open a school for the children on the station.

Not only is this a very stereotypically female role to put Keiko into, but I don’t believe that there’s nothing for a botanist to do on DS9. She complains that she won’t be on the starships that go to the Gamma Quadrant, but surely she could coordinate botanical analysis back on the station, tell those ships what to look for, and even go on the occasional expedition. And if all that’s not enough, there’s the whole rebuilding of Bajor to contribute to – couldn’t she use her botanical knowledge to help them develop high-yield crops for feeding themselves? Oh well, I guess everyone can just replicate what they need.

Dax

The Dax storyline of this episode is that Julian is pretty persistently pursuing her romantically. I have to admit that she does playfully flirt with him at the start of the episode, but when she tells him she isn’t interested, he should respect that and back off. Guys, I know some of you think it’s the done thing to wage a war of attrition on a woman’s defences, but guess what – we really, really like it when you respect us enough to listen to what we want.

Speaking of which, there are many more problematic things on this theme here. Odo has a classic “bitches, eh?” rant about how compromise in a relationship means those bloody women get their own way all the time. Later on, Sisko and Bashir chat about how Dax has changed since switching hosts from Curzon to Jadzia. Sisko gives Bashir permission to pursue Dax romantically, since he considers her only a good friend – well, let’s not bother consulting Jadzia about what she wants, then. Sisko also heteronormatively muses that his days of picking up women and doing other manly activities with Curzon are over. Wait a minute – Jadzia might still want to do those things.

Other bits and pieces

  • This is the first time Odo voices his belief in justice as an absolute, unassailable concept that does not necessarily equate with the letter of the law. It’s hard to agree with his point when his idea of justice is just to arrest anyone who might cause trouble.
  • How exactly do the bolites cause someone’s skin to change colour? Do they rapidly flood the skin with pigment?
  • Ibudan’s clone is sent on his way at the end and never seen again. This clone was grown in a tank, and whilst it may physically appear to be an adult man, presumably it has no knowledge or memories – how can it possibly live independently? Even if it somehow has Ibudan’s memories, doesn’t that mean it has the mind of a murderer and should at the least be kept under observation?
  • Why is it fine for Sisko to be racist about Nog and the Ferengi? He should be encouraging Jake to seek out alien friends. I guess he has understandable concerns as a father, given that he already knows that Nog is a thief, but 24th century humans are supposed to be more enlightened than that.

Summary – A Man Alone: I wish the 24th century treated women better.

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