Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Alternate   Rewatch 
August 10, 2015 1:57 PM - Season 2, Episode 12 - Subscribe

Odo meets his "father", and his "cousin".

Apologies for the delay in posting. I was so traumatised by "Rivals" that I needed to lie down in a darkened room.
posted by Solomon (9 comments total)
 
This is a really good one, even if the hopeful ending is slightly undermined when Dr. Mora comes back a few seasons later and he and Odo seem to back on rather frosty terms again.

This episode takes Odo to a really dark place, and his conflicts with Mora give us some insight into why Odo is as guarded as he is. Mora hits this weird balance where he seems to genuinely regard himself as a kind of father to Odo, while also regarding Odo as some sort of lab specimen. He wants what's best for Odo and wants Odo to be happy, but he also seems willing to put Odo's value as a scientific curiosity above Odo's happiness. You can really see how that would drive Odo nuts, being raised by this guy who wants to put you under a microscope but also give you advice about your life. We later learn that Odo's people are kind of isolationist xenophobes anyway, but you can see how being raised be Mora might make anybody withdrawn and stand-offish.

But while Mora seems to have a real dark side (there is something REALLY creepy about the way he yells at Odo that Odo is the monster and will have to go back to Mora's lab for more study) he also comes across as a caring father who is struggling to let go as his son lives his own life. He's conflicted and his motives aren't pure, but he does truly care for Odo in his own way. He's not bullshitting, when he says he's proud of Odo.

James Sloyan was so good that the Trek people kept bringing him back under different makeups and hoping we wouldn't notice he was the same guy over and over again. Fat chance, with that voice! He was on TNG, Voyager, DS9, and he played such memorable characters! He was the tortured, grown-up Alexander on TNG, a scientist who'd committed genocide on Voyager, Doctor Mora on DS9... when they needed some real acting to get done, they knew they could bring in this cat.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:24 PM on August 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


One of the things that always amuses me about these sort of "something makes a crewmember go beserk" episodes is how readily just about everyone accepts that things are back to normal afterwards. (One of my favorite parts of "Rocks and Shoals" is that Nog doesn't forget what Garak did under the influence of xenophobic-murderer-goo a few episodes before.) There's so little known about Odo's people at this point that Bashir has no idea how the gas might have affected Odo, but no one ever seems to worry that this might happen to Odo again.

I guess after several hundred years of people randomly going berserk due to possession or alien spores, or some weird gas, and then suddenly being restored to normal, people are just going to assume that's how it always works.
posted by creepygirl at 5:58 PM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


One of the running themes in DS9 is that everyone's family (and in some cases, their clergy, or old war buddies) are super manipulative.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:36 PM on August 10, 2015


From the Memory Alpha background info:

Mora Pol was originally to be played by Rene Auberjonois himself, much as Data's creator Noonian Soong was played by Brent Spiner, and as The Doctor's creator Lewis Zimmerman would later be played by Robert Picardo, but this plan was scrapped when it was realized how much time it would take each day to get Auberjonois out of one make-up and into another.

While I think they were better off using Sloyan, as it might have been distractingly gimmicky to have have Auberjonois playing both parts, I'm still kind of curious to know how what he would have done with the role.
posted by oh yeah! at 9:06 PM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sloyan was also the Romulan in TNG: "The Defector." They used him enough that, when that Voyager episode came up, I was like "Ah, it's Ambiguous Morality Guy; he'll either seem good and turn out to be not-so-good, or seem bad and turn out to be not-so-bad."
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 4:49 AM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


One of the running themes in DS9 is that everyone's family (and in some cases, their clergy, or old war buddies) are super manipulative.

Well, there are a lot of players on the show, and not just toward their family or friends. In some cases, especially as you get further on in the show (I'm hesitant to name examples, especially if some of the people in this thread are actually watching it for the first time), you get people who combine manipulation and absolute sincerity just seamlessly.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:21 AM on August 11, 2015


"Ambiguous Morality Guy"

Worst.Superhero.Ever!
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 7:45 AM on August 12, 2015


This comment contains spoilers for season 4 of Star Trek: Enterprise.

Odo and Quark are, as usual, on point. I love the little pleading look that Quark gives to the latinum in Odo's hand.
"Death rituals?"
"Everyone needs a hobby."
It's interesting that the morphogenic matter was found just a few lightyears from the wormhole. Kroden mentions in Vortex that there were Changelings on his world. Perhaps the material that was found was an earlier evolution of the Changelings, and they later changed into their final form? Which brings up another interesting question - is Changeling DNA stable, or can they cause it to mutate at will? Scan a Changeling who is a rock and you'll get readings as though it's a rock. Where does the DNA "go"?

Mora is a creepy person. He hasn't seen Odo for ages and he opens with a criticism of his abilities. Then he makes out to Quark that he is responsible for Odo's development, when it seems that Odo in fact had to show Mora what he was. Then he calls Odo a liar, when odo says that he doesn't miss the work. "I know you too well" - yick.

Notice the air freshener for sale in the front of the shot as Odo and Mora walk from the bar.

in the runabout, Mora encourages Odo to speak, then interrupts him, twice. And then lays on a guilt trip.

I wonder if the pre-Changelings created the ruins, or whether there was some other life form that got wiped out, presumably by the volcanic activity, that created them. The articfact they bought back seems very similar to another storyline in a much later episode, but I can't recall which one.

The gas being the affective agent seems a little weird to me. It would make much more sense to me to have the life form meld with Odo and create some new lifeform. The stuff that O'Brien found in the conduit looked very much like Odo, and rather less like the spiky, more-like-I'd-expect-a-silicon-based-lifeform-to-look purple stuff from the planet. The two other silicon based life forms in the Trek verse, the infective agent from Observer Effect, and the Tholians, are much less fluid and rather more clearly delineated.

The scene with Odo and Mora in the security office is straight up wrong. Mora is behaving in an abusive manner towards Odo - insulting him, criticising him, trying to separate him from his friends, using Odo's fears against him, acting hurt when Odo stands up for himself, guilt tripping him, and then making himself Odo's saviour. Textbook abusive behaviour.

Mora does seem to feel some kind of remorse in the end, but only after he becomes scared of what he's created.
posted by Solomon at 2:16 PM on August 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think maybe Dr Mora being the way he was had caused Odo to become the person he was. Perhaps this was the idea in the writers minds, I have no idea, just guessing.
posted by marienbad at 4:06 PM on October 18, 2015


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