Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Begotten   Rewatch 
May 13, 2016 6:53 AM - Season 5, Episode 12 - Subscribe

Odo receives a sick infant Changeling from Quark and tries to teach it to shapeshift without resorting to the invasive techniques used by his old mentor, Doctor Mora. Meanwhile, Major Kira gives birth to the O'Briens' baby.

All quotes and trivia from the Memory Alpha page on the episode. Beware that there are some later season spoilers down in the trivia section of the Memory Alpha page.

Quotes

"If it wasn't for me, you'd still be sitting on a shelf somewhere in a beaker labeled 'unknown sample'."

"If it wasn't for me, you'd be a nobody. Starfleet wouldn't hire you to judge a science fair!"
- Mora Pol and Odo

"If you're happy, there's something very wrong in the world. The center cannot hold."
- Quark, to Odo

Trivia

* Kira Nerys gives birth to Kirayoshi O'Brien in this episode; he was placed in her womb after Keiko O'Brien was injured in "Body Parts". In the original draft of the teleplay, Kira was perfectly happy about giving the baby up to the O'Briens, but Nana Visitor felt that this wasn't realistic, that Kira would feel a degree of attachment to the child, so she asked Ira Steven Behr to change the script, resulting in the final scene of the episode, between Kira and Odo. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion) Of this issue, Visitor commented in 1999, "That's something I wish we'd have been able to delve into more; the complications, and what that actually feels like. I had just given birth, I mean, the whole storyline was designed to help me, to allow me to be pregnant while we were shooting, and not have to hide behind tables every second, and having just given birth myself, it's got to be very complicated emotionally for women who do this, who give up children. But, you know, that's another series!" (Crew Dossier: Kira Nerys, DS9 Season 1 DVD, Special Features)

* To get the right substance to 'play' the baby Changeling, the production crew did several weeks of research, and effectively held casting sessions. According to producer Steve Oster, "Gary Monak and his crew had to come up with goo of the right color and consistency that would hold its form for a moment and then fall down and ooze around. We spent many a night sitting here with different textures and viscosities of goo, trying to decide what would work for what." Ultimately, a variety of substances were used. As Gary Monak explains, "For the beginning stages, we used gelatin mixed with some other stuff. We also used a plastic that's referred to as 'hot melt vinyl', which you can heat up and mold. And we made up some goo that's basically like the stuff they pour on people on Nickelodeon television."(Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)

* Miles O'Brien mentions not being able to witness Keiko give birth to Molly, an event which occurred in TNG: "Disaster".

* Odo regains his shapeshifting abilities at the end of the episode, having previously had them removed by the Founders in "Broken Link". When Odo morphs from a solid to a bird his uniform is seen left behind on the floor, acknowledging the fact that as a solid he was forced to wear real clothes. The script indicates that the bird Odo changes into is a Tarkalean hawk, one of the things he had told the infant Changeling it could one day become.
posted by Slothrop (12 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Worf looking at his drink in puzzlement after Odo telling him that his own glass held a changeling.

When Worf found out that O'Brien was going to have another baby, he said that he would be off the station when it was due. I was expecting to not see him this episode, but there was probably room for more Worf humor in that thread. That B-story was otherwise completely overshadowed by Odo's Changeling baby.
posted by 2ht at 7:33 AM on May 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Kira was perfectly happy about giving the baby up to the O'Briens, but Nana Visitor felt that this wasn't realistic, that Kira would feel a degree of attachment to the child, so she asked Ira Steven Behr to change the script

I've only occasionally actually watched along - I've seen DS9 start to finish repeatedly already - but one thing I've loved about reading these recaps is the added material like this. It's neat knowing what an impact Nana Visitor had behind the scenes, and has really made me appreciate her even more. I also like knowing that Behr and co actually listened to her. Raises my respect for all involved.

(I loved her performance of Kira already - Kira Nerys is my favorite female character in all of Trek canon.)
posted by mordax at 8:25 AM on May 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think that Worf was probably indulging in some very dry humor when he said that he'd be elsewhere on the due date; he's acknowledging that it was excruciatingly uncomfortable and embarrassing for him to have to deliver Molly, but I really don't think that he'd ever seriously say that he would run away from the possibility of there being another emergency.

In general, this was a great episode, a sequel of sorts to "The Alternate" but also with deep parallels to "The Abandoned" (alien foundling gets "adopted" by Odo) and, later this season, "Doctor Bashir, I Presume" (strong resentment toward a parent for their doing something for "the good of the child"). (There's also another Odo-centric episode with a very similar title, "The Forsaken", which also involves an errant life-form of sorts and an oddly maternal gesture on Lwaxana Troi's part.) I alternated between being frustrated and angry at Dr. Mora for ignoring how uncomfortable and angry Odo was, and feeling sorry for him because he seemed to think that Odo would come around to his perspective now that he was a "father" himself. Plus, Odo's posture and expression coming out of the hawk-form was almost transcendent.

I also liked the B plot, with O'Brien and Shakaar bumping chests and Kira and Keiko having zero time for either man's bullshit. I also liked Kira and Odo preferring each other's company as they were simultaneously struggling to cope with a loss of sorts that other people just wouldn't understand.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:36 AM on May 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think that Worf was probably indulging in some very dry humor when he said that he'd be elsewhere on the due date; he's acknowledging that it was excruciatingly uncomfortable and embarrassing for him to have to deliver Molly, but I really don't think that he'd ever seriously say that he would run away from the possibility of there being another emergency.

Oh, for sure. But they have so often used Worf for a quick laugh that I expected a callback to that joke. They could have just as easily thrown a line about him being on leave, or shown him at the beginning looking nervously at Kira as he's headed out on a training mission with the Defiant.
posted by 2ht at 10:23 AM on May 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm gonna copy and paste a comment I made a few weeks back, just because it's relevant again and I think it bears repeating:

(Rene Auberjonois) was one of the strongest actors Trek ever had. He did not condescend to this material at all and he recognized the unique opportunities that stories like this presented for an actor. He treated it like real theater, an opportunity to play with masks and voices and invisible walls, to bring things to life. I remember the episode where he's raising the little Changeling baby, it was all very moving and sad and it wasn't until the very end that I realized that Auberjonois had spent the whole episode emoting to a goddamned jar of orange goo. That's some serious acting, right there.

So many great moments in this one, and after breaking Odo's heart with the loss of the changeling baby they give him this wonderful moment when he gets his powers back and he literally soars as a bird. The loss of shapeshifting powers should be hard for us to relate to, there aren't a lot of human experiences that track with that. But the writers and Auberjonois have done such a good job of making us feel Odo's frustrations, his limitations as a solid, that when he flies again it's a real joyous moment. (Made bittersweet, of course, by the knowledge of what he had to lose to get his powers back.)


(SPOILERS AHEAD: Memory Alpha notes that it's actually the Changeling Bashir here, overseeing Kira's birthing and treating the Changeling infant! Isn't that weird? It's also the last appearance of Dr. Mora, and we only see Keiko two more times after this.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:42 PM on May 13, 2016 [6 favorites]


I was going to say "Ursula Hitler has runied this episode with her comment about Rene Auberjonois" but seeing as she has quoted it herself, I can't!

Birth and death and they cycle of life, DS9 style. I am not a fan of when shows do the parenting stuff, all that "spoil the rod" and "I know know why you did what you did" stuff. It irks me, for some reason, probably as I don't have the best relationship with my parents, so it kinda winds me up a bit.

Having said that, Auberjonois is magnificent, he, as Hitler says, plays the whole thing seriously, and I never once disbelieved in the story (apart from Ursula's comment keeping re-stating itself in my mind!)

The B-story, with Kira trying to give birth and O'Brien and Shakaar arguing around it is nicely handled. The moment when the nurse leaves and tells Shakaar to be on time, and O'Brien to practice is fantastic. And I agree, the last lines are excellent, especially after the last episiode where we learnt about how she joined the resistance and kille dcardassians: such a complex character, so well written and acted.
posted by marienbad at 4:41 PM on May 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Gosh, sorry if my comment kinda ruined the drama in this one, Marienbad! That certainly wasn't my intention. (But hey, it's ALL pretend. In order to buy into these stories, we have to forget that the whole station is really a plastic model in a Burbank warehouse.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:16 PM on May 13, 2016


1. Love drunk Odo. Of course he can't handle alcohol. I will assume that one glass of Champagne was all it took for him to get smashed enough to raid Quark's bar.

2. Changling Bashir was likely responsible for the infant changling appearing on the station. Then Changling Bashir observed how Odo cared for the infant and decided it was time to make Odo a Founder again. Like, Odo was put on probation by the Founders and Changling Bashir was his probation officer. This was in addition to being a spy, preparing to set off a bomb in the Bajoran sun, serving as a full time medic, and finding time to play darts with Miles. He was a very busy infiltrator.
posted by riruro at 6:41 PM on May 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


Riruro, are you getting the stuff about the Changeling Bashir from one of the DS9 novels or something? I could see those things being true, but the Changelings are so cruel that it'd surprise me if they decided to show Odo mercy like that. (But at the same time the Female Changeling does seem to have some sort of warm feelings for Odo, and it's not impossible she'd choose to show him mercy but do it in a very indirect, hard to trace way like this.) I kind of side with Mora though, and prefer to think it was the dying little Changeling baby giving Odo its abilities as a last act of love.

I remember Alexander Siddig saying someplace he was as surprised as the audience to find out that Bashir had been a Changeling! It seems like a weird thing to keep secret from him... but the way TV works, it's not unlikely the WRITERS didn't know until just before they told him!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:21 AM on May 14, 2016


Is there anything in canon that gives us a sense of around which episode Changeling Bashir appeared, or are we thinking this is the episode?
posted by dry white toast at 6:17 AM on May 14, 2016


I am not a fan of when shows do the parenting stuff, all that "spoil the rod" and "I know know why you did what you did" stuff. It irks me, for some reason, probably as I don't have the best relationship with my parents, so it kinda winds me up a bit.

Trek has always had tough parent-child relationships (Spock and Sarek, Will Riker and Kyle Riker, even Picard and his older brother if you squint), but I think Odo and Dr. Mora felt the most real out of all of them. And I don't think it's merely a function of viewers projecting their own histories on the situation, nor of the dialogue, which in this episode sometimes got slightly predictable. I'm inclined to chalk it up to these actors' performances. James Sloyan really nails it as the jerk dad you really want to hate and forgive. And, as amply discussed earlier, Auberjonois delivers one of his strongest performances. Not many Trek actors have been so reliably excellent from their very debut scene.

Then Changling Bashir observed how Odo cared for the infant and decided it was time to make Odo a Founder again.

Which would endanger Changeling Bashir's mission significantly. I like the idea that he brought the infant aboard just to observe the results, but the episode suggests that neither Dr. Mora nor Odo had any inkling that the infant could do that whole "here, have my morphogenic matrix" trick...maybe Changeling Bashir didn't either. In fact, maybe the episode makes no sense (factoring in Bashir being a changeling here) unless it WAS also a surprise to him. If so, that just lends the scene that much more resonance: here is a sacrificial gift that even the Founders themselves couldn't have anticipated.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:49 AM on May 14, 2016


Riruro, are you getting the stuff about the Changeling Bashir from one of the DS9 novels or something?

No, just my own fan speculation. It wasn't the writers' intent, but to me it makes sense for the Changeling spy to be responsible the arrival of the infant. But you and CheesesOfBrazil make really excellent counterpoints that I don't have a good response to. I just think the Changeling Bashir reveal coming up allows for some of the preceding episodes to be re-interpreted.
posted by riruro at 3:27 PM on May 14, 2016


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