The Great Star Trek DS9 Rewatch: Vortex

When an alien from the Gamma Quadrant commits murder, Odo must take him into custody, whilst making sure that the dead man’s brother doesn’t commit a revenge killing. But matters only become more complicated when the alien claims that he knows other Gamma Quadrant shapeshifters, and promises to lead Odo to them.

We won’t get the full story of Odo’s people until the end of season two, but this early taster takes a mediocre set-up and transforms it into something more powerful by dropping a few hints of what’s to come. Odo, previously quite a cardboard character, finally gets some development – we see him trying to adhere to his beloved justice, but also desperately intrigued by the possibility of finding others like himself. He even steps back from his slavish enforcement of the rules to do what is arguably the right thing, whilst his final musings to the changeling key almost brought a lump to my throat. I certainly wasn’t expecting that from season one!

Shapeshifter facts

Even though Croden was exaggerating about his experiences with shapeshifters, there is a grain of truth in what he says.

  • The shapeshifters of the Gamma Quadrant are known as Changelings.
  • Changelings have been persecuted and hated for their refusal to assimilate with humanoids and adopt a recognisable form. Later in the series we’ll see a massive lake of Changelings.
  • Changelings have a strong sense of justice.
  • Quark inadvertently hits the nail on the head by suggesting that all of Odo’s people are paranoid and reclusive. Indeed, they are so afraid of humanoid persecution that they have surrounded themselves with a massive empire. Even their subjects have been genetically bred to be nothing but loyal.

Other bits and pieces

  • One from the last episode – in Keiko’s continuing absence, Chief O’Brien is left to teach classes. Given how busy he is fixing the station, was there really no one else who could have taken over as teacher?
  • Also from the previous episode, Molly is referred to as being three years old, despite it only being about eighteen months since she was born. Space travel really ages these kids!
  • Morn, the silent barfly, gains a name in this episode. The running joke of him being excessively talkative off-camera is also kicked off.
  • Odo is described as unusually heavy – maybe he is indeed really dense.
  • Why doesn’t Odo revert to a liquid state when he is knocked unconscious? Yes, yes, I know – plot and budget convenience.

Summary – Vortex: Home? Where is it? Some day we’ll know… cousin.

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