Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: A Simple Investigation   Rewatch 
May 30, 2016 10:46 AM - Season 5, Episode 17 - Subscribe

Things are rarely simple when love and crime get mixed up, as a certain changeling cop who's about to get entangled in a 24th-century version of one of his crime novels is about to find out. (Spoilers for a 1952 movie below the cut.)

Memory Alpha thought they'd seen it all in their time on the force, but nothing like this case:

- This episode was inspired by the 1952 Richard Fleischer film The Narrow Margin. In the movie, Charles McGraw plays a policeman who is assigned to escort Marie Windsor to an important trial in which she is a key witness. Over the course of the film, he falls in love with her, even though he knows he shouldn't, as there can be no future with her. At the end of the film, it turns out that Windsor is also a cop and is acting as a decoy for the real witness who has gotten to the trial a completely different way.

- The writers had originally planned for Odo to have a sexual relationship with Chalan Aroya early in the fifth season while he was still a humanoid, but they felt that she wasn't right for him when she was introduced in "Broken Link", so they altered their plans. By the time they got around to doing an Odo relationship story however, he had regained his shape-shifting abilities. This was something that displeased Ronald D. Moore; "I wish we'd done the show while Odo was still human. If he had been Human, the relationship with this woman would have carried a little more weight."

- In René Echevarria's original teleplay, there was a scene where Arissa comes out of Odo's bedroom and finds Odo regenerating. She walks over to him and touches him, and he morphs onto her. Echevarria was especially proud of this scene, but Ira Steven Behr felt it was thematically more important for this particular episode that Odo make love as a humanoid.

- The producers intended this episode to illustrate to viewers that Odo was no longer in love with Kira. They were satisfied with how the relationship had ended in "Crossfire" and they felt that the only chance Odo and Kira had to get together was while he was a humanoid, but with Shakaar in the picture, this never happened. As such, as far as the producers were concerned, Odo and Kira were back to just having a very deep friendship, something which this episode was designed to illustrate.

- Bashir's secret agent holonovel was purposely limited in its screen time by the writers, who also kept the homages to James Bond restrained after they were threatened with legal action by MGM following the airing of the episode "Our Man Bashir".

- Rene Auberjonois had to shave his entire upper body for this episode.

"I thought it was on stun."
"Look what you did to the carpet."

- Sorm and Traidy, after Rem is vaporized

"What if I... what if she..."
"Rejects you?... She might. But you can't go through life trying to avoid having your heart broken. If you do, it'll break from loneliness, anyway. So you might as well take a chance. If you don't, she'll move on, and you'll never know what you might have had. And living with that would be worse than having a broken heart, believe me."

- Odo and Bashir
posted by Halloween Jack (6 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm dismayed to learn that the Idanian species represented here apparently has no connection whatsoever to the often-mentioned I'danian spice pudding. I suppose they don't really seem like the "pudding" type, if we go by the sci-fi tendency to overgeneralize about a species based on a tiny number of on-screen representations.

Anyway, I'm always game for an Odo episode, but this one's kinda meh. Solid acting, decent concept, but a very dame-of-the-week TNG (or even TOS) feel. I do like that it spends some time and effort exploring how other main-cast characters feel about Odo.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 5:35 AM on May 31, 2016


This episode was pretty boring and felt out of place for DS9. Or at least for this point in the show, it might have worked earlier in the run.

It also raises all sorts of awkward questions about Odo's... capabilities.

There were a few highlights for me.

- The banter between the bad guys. There's nothing I love more than a witty, sarcastic villain.

- The watercooler gossip about Odo. DS9 occasionally gives us glimpses of boring, everyday life aboard the station and they're always wonderful.

- The idea that Odo's form is slightly different each time.
posted by 2ht at 10:29 AM on May 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


It also raises all sorts of awkward questions about Odo's... capabilities.

Yeah, this was something I wondered about - as a shapeshifter, how did his winky work? Could he make it any size and shape he wanted to? What about ejaculation? It was like they hadn't thought this stuff through.
posted by marienbad at 3:20 AM on June 1, 2016


I think that the showrunners were happy to leave certain aspects of nonhuman sexuality undefined, while still being somewhat suggestive as to some of the possibilities, as with the scene with Odo and Arissa in bed, and he's talking about linking with other changelings, and gives her a sort-of demonstration with their hands. You can project the implications of being able to do that further, and come up with something that's like the scene that they originally considered, but I'm sure that there's Rule 34 depictions of shapeshifter sex out there on the internet somewhere.

I'm more interested in what Odo gets out of it. We don't really know that much about changeling physiology to know if they feel pleasure the way most humanoids seem to; Odo seems to feel pain when his ability to change shape is suppressed or disrupted, but that could be more of an existential horror at being unable to control his form. I think that he craves the intimacy and one-step-beyond-mind-melding sharing of the Great Link, but has the further problem of not liking his fellow Founders very much, so he looks for something like that with the people that he does like. It's unfortunate that he fell for someone who was willing to share, but at the time didn't even know her own mind. There's a further irony in Arissa's admission that she'd worked as a "net-girl", aka letting people have access to her mind, again with certain... implications. (Reminder: this episode came out in 1997.) I put the "consolecowgirl" and "puttingtheromanceinneuromancer" tags up because Arissa's job and hardwired data port reminded me very much of the depiction of hackers in William Gibson's Sprawl trilogy. Anyway, whatever sort of cyberintimacy Arissa's clients thought they were getting (assuming that she ever really did cyber with them; it wasn't clear whether that was part of the false background that she was fed, or whether she actually did it for the Orion Syndicate boss after going undercover), it was as fake as any other kind of porn.

As far as the rest of the crew's reaction, even though my own personal inclinations are with Worf's--when I hear other people that I work with gossip, I always get a bit uncomfortable when I wonder what they say about me behind my back (that's how I was reading Worf's reaction, anyway)--it's still nice that they care about Odo and are generally happy for him that he seems to have found someone.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:36 AM on June 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think that he craves the intimacy and one-step-beyond-mind-melding sharing of the Great Link, but has the further problem of not liking his fellow Founders very much, so he looks for something like that with the people that he does like. It's unfortunate that he fell for someone who was willing to share, but at the time didn't even know her own mind.

Yeah, that's some serious irony. I would've expected them to call attention to it in the dialogue a little more. Here's Odo always talking about how the link is a "merging of thought and form," and not only can he not really merge forms with solids, but in Arissa's case, it turns out he can't even really merge thought. I guess, therefore, it makes sense that we never hear about this character again.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 8:47 AM on June 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


I agree that this episode/premise would have worked better if they'd found a way to fit it into Odo's time as a solid. I thought the chemistry between the actors was good, but, to have Odo fall so suddenly and deeply in love would have been more plausible if there was an element of basic physical attraction.
posted by oh yeah! at 7:44 AM on June 4, 2016


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