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 (15 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
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Odo's people are kind of isolationist xenophobes anyway, but you can see how being raised be Mora might make anybody withdrawn and stand-offish.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 [8 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 [2 favorites]

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"

posted by Just this guy, y'know at 7:45 AM on August 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

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 [6 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

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.

Dr. Mora's treatment must have shaped Odo, for good and for ill (I like how everyone but Odo instinctively understands that Dr. Mora is, more or less, Odo's dad, or at least father figure, and seeing Auberjonois play that sort of "no he's not my dad, walk behind me 10 steps I don't want anyone to see!" teen impetuousness, as a perfectly motivated and fitting part of the Odo we already know, is awesome.

But Odo mentions in "Necessary Evil" that the one thing he's sure about w/r/t his people is that he gained his sense of justice from them as something like a racial trait. Since Mora treats his job as chief security officer as a curious hobby of Odo's, I think we have to take Odo's word for that.

That said, Auberjonois' and Sloyan's performances here slot absolutely perfectly in with Odo as we know him now, Odo as he's explained his time at the lab, and the more-easily-cowed, submissive Odo we saw in the "Necessary Evil" flashbacks with Gul Dukat. It's really something.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:12 PM on May 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

I know I'm years behind on this, but, like, was anyone else horrified at how nonchalantly they beamed an ancient artifact out of its intended site, for "analysis," not stopping to consider that maybe its meaning was site-specific like a sundial or a standing stone? And how they equally nonchalantly beamed along the unknown lifeform of unknown sentience and then were like "oops, it died, guess it couldn't breathe our air, o well."
posted by tentacle at 8:04 AM on September 7, 2020 [8 favorites]

And I am many years behind you, but YES! YES! WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT ABOUT?

For me, it’s less about how bad it was of them to remove the stone – just scan the damn thing! – And more about how it was set up to be important, but then it meant nothing at all. I mean the moment, the very moment, they remove it the earth literally shakes, the site crumbles, and poisonous gas starts jetting up from hell. And then there’s a beat where Odo notices that it has moved in the lab, asks Dax about it, and she says something about how it was in her way, so she moved it. They’re clearly hinting that something is going on with it, but then there isn’t. No one can read it. It does nothing. It has nothing whatsoever to do with either the life form, or sleepwalking Odo. It was completely irrelevant.

The only way I can make ANY sense of this is to assume that they are laying pipe for some thing in the future. Like in a couple episodes, someone’s going to figure out how to read it and it’s going to send them off on a mission somewhere, or it’s going to suddenly morph into an actor who runs around the station causing trouble. If they’re not planning to use it in some future episode, it was a complete and utter waste of story space. It’s like that mom in The Room who out of nowhere announces that she has breast cancer, and then it just gets dropped. The writing on the show is sometimes less than perfect, but it’s never grossly incompetent. They’ve got to be setting something up, right?
posted by Naberius at 9:32 PM on March 7

On Memory Alpha:
Michael Piller commented, "I like this show. It's the closest thing we've ever done to a monster movie, and the hardest part was to keep the secret that Odo was the one who was actually doing it. I had to throw in a bunch of red herrings."


Sisko: Odo, scan the station for the escaped alien life form!
O'Brien: Remember, our sensors probably won't be able to detect this thing. It could be right in front of us and we wouldn't recognize it!
Interrupting everything, doors whoosh open and camera ominously isolates Dax, who gazes icily around the room
Sisko: I thought you were unconscious after being exposed to the alien gas?!
Dax: Well, now I'm healthier than ever...I had to sneak away from Dr. Bashir...who wouldn't let me have my clothes...
Sisko: Your story is not weird and I will not question it any further.
Dax: Odo, Dr Weld is in bad shape. I'm just glad we convinced him not to wear his red shirt, or there surely would have been nothing left of him to bring back from the planet...Oh, and I must create a distraction by telling you to go see Dr. Pol.
Odo nods and leaves Dax alone with the obelisk
Dax drools slightly while running fingers tenderly over mystical symbols
Dax: My pre-e-e-e-eciousssss...Horribly sneaksy Pol wants to take you from us but we won't let him!
posted by polecat at 5:31 PM on September 12

After a humbled Dr. Pol flies back to Bajor...

Dax: Commander, I'd like to recommend we send a proper mission to the planet. The life form was like nothing we've ever seen. What did it have to do with the builders of those ruins? Why was the obelisk booby trapped? What does the alien writing mean? This is an incredible bonanza for science.
Odo: Well, you'll get no more help from me! That place was like one giant Thomas Kincade painting. Painter of Light?! Pah! I'd sooner buy paintings from a Ferengi than indulge in that drivel!
Dax: We can't pass this opportunity by...where is the obelisk now?
Sisko: Lieutenant, I assure you that we have top men working on it...
Dax: Who?!
Sisko: (flashes teeth)
posted by polecat at 5:52 PM on September 12

> I know I'm years behind on this, but, like, was anyone else horrified...

I am even more years behind and yes! That was what I came here to post. They could've scanned it and set it up in a holodeck or something.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:05 PM on November 23

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