The Great Star Trek DS9 Rewatch: The Alternate

Dr Mora Pol, the Bajoran scientist who first studied Odo, arrives on DS9 with a proposition. He has found a planet in the Gamma Quadrant which may hold a clue to Odo’s origins, and wants to borrow a runabout to visit it. But when the life form they bring back seems to be responsible for acts of sabotage on board the station, Odo must use his investigative skills to figure out what’s going on.

This episode is a mix of elements, some very good, and others which haven’t stood the test of time. At first it looks like it’s going to be an episode about exploring the Gamma Quadrant, then about a new life form they bring back, but in fact this is an elaborate set up for a largely station-based episode exploring the relationship between Odo and Dr Mora. Mora is the closest thing Odo has to a father, but it’s clear that there are mixed feelings on both sides. Mora is very proud of Odo, but he treats Odo as an amazing specimen as much as he does a real person with his own thoughts and feelings. On his part, Odo clearly respects and even loves his mentor, but can’t help feeling resentment at his life as a lab specimen – one he is clearly determined never to resume. Unfortunately, the manner in which he expresses his resentment is to transform into a raging B-movie monster with special effects that haven’t stood the test of time. Even Bashir admits it was all just a plot device with his closing “I’m not going to try and explain exactly what happened to you, Odo, because I haven’t the vaguest idea.” At least it was a better attempt at “the good guy is also unwittingly the villain” than season one’s The Passenger.

Other bits and pieces

  • When Mora confronts the transformed Odo, he says “Dear god, what have I done?” As a Bajoran, shouldn’t he be invoking the name of the Prophets?
  • Although he’s toned it down a bit, Bashir is still chasing after Dax. He seems certain that once he stops chasing her, she will surely miss the attention and come to him. Give it a rest, Bashir.
  • Sisko’s conversation with Odo seems to imply that his father is already dead. In fact, Joseph Sisko is alive and well and set to appear in several future episodes, but we do learn that his health isn’t as good as it used to be.
  • The Ferengi Plegg was apparently the inventor of the holosuite chip – presumably this was a method of making holographic technology more compact and portable, as the Federation of course have their holodecks. I always said that the Ferengi should respect their scientists more, due to the possibilities for profit. I guess it’s research for its own sake that they object to – as, indeed, do many of the bodies that fund scientific research on our own planet.

Summary – The Alternate: An interesting relationship obscured by dead ends and B-movie monsters.

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