The Great Star Trek DS9 Rewatch: The Forsaken

When a group of Federation ambassadors visits the station, Bashir is lumbered with entertaining them – all except Lwaxana Troi, that is, who takes an inordinate interest in Odo. Meanwhile, a mysterious probe causes the station’s computer to malfunction.

Are you ready for another round of Star Trek bingo? The DS9 writers certainly were, giving us an episode that seems like a hodge-podge of bargain bin ideas. The main plot, which features yet another mysterious probe causing computer malfunctions, serves less to entertain us than it does to reveal O’Brien’s lack of understanding of how technology works. Meanwhile, Bashir’s dealins with three truculent Federation ambassadors is equally old hat for Star Trek, leaving Lwaxana Troi of all things as the best aspect of this episode.

Yes, Lwaxana starts off as insufferable and annoying as she ever was on TNG, but when she gets stuck in a turbolift with Odo, it’s a chance for the two of them to open up a little. Odo is forced to show his most vulnerable side when he is unable to put off returning to his liquid state, but Lwaxana shows one those rare flashes of vulnerability and wisdom that make her an occasionally likeable character. It was her bond with Alexander that meant I didn’t hate Cost of Living as much as everyone else did, and here again it’s her relationship with Odo that saves the episode.

Star Trek Bingo – DS9 edition

  • An unknown alien probe causes problems with the station’s computer, which are magically resolved in the last five minutes.
  • Federation ambassadors prove demanding and annoying.
  • The commanding officer tries to avoid the ambassadors as much as possible.
  • Lwaxana starts off by being insufferable.

Station Life

  • Whilst one admittedly has to tread carefully when dealing with a Federation ambassador, Sisko basically laughs off Odo’s complaint that Lwaxana is sexually harassing him. Oh well, she’s only a woman, what can she do, eh?
  • Shouldn’t it be the duty of the first officer to look after the ambassadors? I guess Sisko didn’t trust Kira’s fiery temper not to create an interplanetary incident, but since Kira is supposed to be in a liaison role, diplomatic relations should be one of her duties. I guess this was arguably an internal Federation matter, but it still seems like there should have been someone better suited to the job than the ship’s doctor. He’s not even in the command stream.
  • This is the first time we see Odo returning to his resting liquid state. Conservation of mass is already a bit iffy, as we’ve seen him turn into a rat and a glass, neither of which seemed to be especially dense, but his liquid volume is small enough to fit into Lwaxana’s skirt – i.e. much less than that of the average Bajoran male he attempts to emulate. Given his interactions with others when arresting troublemakers on the Promenade, he doesn’t seem to be particularly low density in his humanoid form, so he’s probably just violating the laws of physics. Although I do vaguely remember that there’s some bullshit explanation floating around about how Odo can transfer some of his mass into subspace, enabling him to change his size.
  • On the same theme, when Odo dissolves, his uniform and comm badge disappear. I could just about swallow the uniform being something he makes himself – after all, it saves him being naked when he transforms back from being a painting or a glass, but does he really shapeshift part of himself into a functioning comm badge? If he can manage something as complex as a comm badge or hair, why is he unable to make himself a proper face?
  • It turns out that Lwaxana’s amazingly complex hairstyles are just wigs.
  • O’Brien’s suggestion for fixing the computer problems is this: “It came here when we downloaded the probe’s files. If we upload those same files back to the probe, it might go with them.” This makes no sense – it’s like saying “I got a virus by downloading this infected software from the internet, but if I upload it back to the internet, it will magically disappear from my PC”. Delete those files, sure. Do a system restore from your meticulously kept backups. But uploading the files back to the probe doesn’t help one bit, unless your upload command includes a local delete. And if it does, just do the local delete and be done with it.
  • The ‘pup’ program in the DS9 computer is never mentioned again.

Summary – The Forsaken: Lwaxana and Odo, sitting in a turbolift.

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