Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Behind the Lines   Rewatch 
July 14, 2016 8:13 AM - Season 6, Episode 4 - Subscribe

Reassigned from commanding the Defiant, Sisko copes with loss—and back on the station, Odo makes a moist new friend. Meanwhile, the Dominion discovers a way to bring down the minefield that's keeping their reinforcements on the other side of the wormhole, and only Rom can stop them.

Take a good look at Memory Alpha, people. It says something about this site. It says that we will nerd, and we will keep on nerding, until we can't nerd any more!

- Originally, the B-story of this episode was based on the 1930 Howard Hawks film The Dawn Patrol. A major theme of the movie is that of a reluctant commander being forced to send untrained troops into the field, and the moral turmoil it causes him. However, when Ira Steven Behr read Echevarria's script, he felt that it didn't work, because the B-story had become too important and felt like it should be the A-story. As such, Echevarria dropped the story entirely, and replaced it with a B-story involving Dax. She is given command of the USS Defiant and discovers that she loves combat. According to Echevarria, "she gets into it too far and becomes Patton." Neither Behr nor Echevarria himself were happy with this story however. Ultimately, "we reinvented it yet again, making it a much smaller, quieter little story, where you're just asked to put yourself into Sisko's shoes and see how hard it must be for him to have to sit back and send his friends to war."

- The reason the writers introduced Damar's fondness for Kanar in this episode is because they wanted to hint to the audience that something is wrong with him under the surface. As Hans Beimler explains, "He's become a real bad guy, but he's drinking, and you want to know why. He's not drinking because he's an alcoholic, he's drinking because he has a conscience. There's something he doesn't want to deal with. He knows Dukat's deal with the Dominion is wrong, wrong, wrong. And so he's drinking."

- Although the writers didn't intend for the interaction between Odo and the Female Changeling to be sexual in nature, this was how the vast majority of the fans interpreted the linking scene. Similarly, director LeVar Burton states clearly, "Those are love scenes. She was seducing him. Straight up. Plain and simple." Also, according to Rene Auberjonois, "I think it has some kind of sexual implications. It is definitely a very sensual experience. For Odo, it is absolutely the consummation of a kind of peace that he can't have."

"I tried. I tried my best to run my establishment under this occupation. But you know what? It's no fun. I don't like Cardassians – they're mean and arrogant. And I can't stand the Jem'Hadar. They're creepy. They just stand there like statues, staring at you. That's it. I don't want to spend the rest of my life doing business with these people. I want the Federation back. I want to sell root beer again!"

- Quark, to Kira

"It's an old naval tradition. Whoever's in command of a ship, regardless of rank, is referred to as 'captain.' "
"You mean if I had to take command, I would be called 'captain,' too?"
"Cadet, by the time you took command, there'd be nobody left to call you anything."

- O'Brien and Nog

"Do you realize what you just did? You just handed the Alpha Quadrant to the Dominion."
"I was in The Link."
"Are you saying you forgot?"
"I didn't forget... it just didn't seem to matter."
"A lot of people are going to die. Don't you care?!"
"It has nothing to do with me."

- Kira and Odo
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (15 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'd forgotten Quark's "I want to sell root beer again" moment. That's a lovely bookend to the famous "just like the Federation" exchange with Garak way back when.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:47 PM on July 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

I was super-bored by the Defiant B-plot -- I spaced out in the beginning and had no idea what the doohickeys were that Sisko & Dax were speechifying to the crew about until I read the recap, which made the speeches awfully speechy. But what a great week for the station plot. Post-link Odo was so wonderfully creepy! I have no idea how they're going to turn this around. Poor Rom - though kind of ridiculous that there wouldn't have been a way for Rom to make sure the sensors were off before he started sabotaging, or that anyone would make a plan so time-sensitive without a last 'are we clear to proceed?' call-in. Necessary for the plot, but, ridiculous.

(I think I've managed to forget what the deal is going to be with Damar; I know there's been some mentions in previous threads and Memory Alpha pages, but luckily it seems to have slipped out of my brain, so now I'm actively skimming by whenever his name pops up, looking forward to rediscovering whatever the plot twist is.)
posted by oh yeah! at 6:25 PM on July 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yeah, they could have just as easily done the scene with Odo in place, ready to do the thing... then have the female shapeshifter initiate the link and have him miss it that way. But it's still wonderfully effective with Odo giving Kira the whole "you'd understand if you got high" speech. The other Founders really don't want to have to kill Odo if they don't have to, but know that he's willing to kill them, so they neutralized him by seducing him instead. Damar's also a busy little bee; despite Dukat still strutting around the station as if he owns it (and he very likely believes that he does), Damar is the one going around and coming up with Plan B if they don't get some ketracel white and bringing down the mine field and subbing for Odo and whatnot. Of course, we also see the first hints of his little problem, which will become a bit more of a thing. I'm also glad to see the female Founder come back; despite her entreaties to Odo, there's something about her manner that's really chilling.

And on the Federation side, Dax is coming into her own, as sort of a parallel to Damar in a way. "Captain Dax" does have a very nice ring to it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:32 PM on July 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

To have built up Odo as such a likable character, so steadfast in his integrity and loyalty, and then to have THIS happen, is (A) super-ballsy on the part of the writers, and (B) a testament to Auberjonois' acting chops, because it's the sort of betrayal that stings even the audience.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 5:23 AM on July 15, 2016 [3 favorites]

Sort of off topic, but on this rewatch, the Link has reminded of a short story by George R. R. Martin, A Song for Lya. It's a good, quick read that deals with the loneliness of life and what it would be like to all be connected.
posted by 2ht at 10:13 AM on July 15, 2016

The alternate plot with Dax getting too excited about combat could have been interesting, and I can see that fitting her. This is a woman who could run with the Klingons, after all! But I'm kind of glad we didn't see it, because by this point the show was really hammering home how brutal and awful the war was and having Dax get off on the killing could have made her really unsympathetic. This wasn't some fun, pew-pew-zap sci-fi war, it was a war where Nog lost a leg and all that stuff.

REALLY off-topic, but apparently DS9 got a shout-out on a recent episode of Veep, with Gary Cole saying, "Alternate timelines are a crutch for lazy sci-fi premises, e.g., Star Trek with the exception of Deep Space Nine." I don't watch Veep and don't know the context, but as a Trekkie nerd in good standing I must point out that DS9 dabbled with alternate timelines a number of times... including the show's most celebrated episode, The Visitor!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:53 PM on July 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

A science officer in command of a warship?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:17 PM on July 16, 2016

Hey now, Deanna Troi was promoted to 3rd in command of the Enterprise-D. It makes perfect sense that on the Federation flagship, the therapist (who wears pajamas to work) could outrank the Chief Engineer, Chief Tactical officer, and android Operations officer with a super computer for a brain.

On an unrelated note, the Federation is the largest power in the quadrant but has only ever been able to fight a war to a draw.
posted by riruro at 8:38 PM on July 17, 2016

the Federation is the largest power in the quadrant but has only ever been able to fight a war to a draw.

Being the Federation, I really don't see them trying to go for a big win or an occupation.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:03 AM on July 18, 2016

Being the Federation, I really don't see them trying to go for a big win or an occupation.

That's a fair point. For the Federation, winning a war means peace and everybody becoming friends, or at least stopping the bad guys from doing more bad things. By that standard they absolutely won the war against the Dominion. In First Contact Picard has a moment when he wants to win the war the old-fashioned way or die fighting the Borg, but then Alfre Woodard convinces him that mad vengeance isn't going to solve anything.

It's yet another thing that sets Trek apart from Star Wars: in Trek, the goal is to make friends of your enemies whenever possible. Blowing them out of the sky is always a last resort, an act of self-defense. No matter how scary and alien the bad guys seem, eventually our guys will probably sit down with them and we'll see that the scary aliens are actually complicated individuals we can relate to on some level. They even found ways to do that with the Borg, using Hugh and Seven of Nine!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:16 PM on July 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

To be honest, this episode was ruined for me with Odo's linking with the changeling woman at the important point, and then after he's all "that doesn't matter, it's nothing to do with me." Wtf? Didn't he give a speech about knowing justice? Isn't he a reliable character whose integrity is intact? And then he does this? It is so far out of character it is unreal. It totally ruined the episode for me, as if Odo would sell all his friends out for a chance to link with the changeling woman. And he knew, he totally knew about Rom and what would happen if he did this at this point, and yet he still went ahead and did it. What utter bs it makes of everything that has gone before.

And when he lets Kira give away that she is involved with Rom and what he was doing while the changeling woman is around the corner and can overhear everything, seriously, Kira would be screwed as the changeling woman would order her taken into custody as an accomplice, and voila, the resistance is dead.

And for Odo to sit there smugly saying "it doesn't matter" wtf? This episode has jumped the shark and then taken off and gone into orbit while still wearing water-skis.

Man I am so angry right now.
posted by marienbad at 12:58 PM on July 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

Well, Odo is in a very weird state at that point, almost like he's zonked out on heroin or something. Normally integrity is everything to him, and when he suddenly loses all conviction and just wants to bliss out with the female changeling we know something is very wrong. It's supposed to be jarringly out of character, but maybe it's too much of a swerve for him, or the writing's not quite selling it. I think we're supposed to say, Holy crap, they got to Odo! If they can make him not care about doing the right thing, who knows what else they can do? But his post-link weirdness is hard for us to relate to, there aren't many human experiences that could track with that. Maybe they should have pushed it a little further to suggest that he'd gotten literally "mixed up" with the female changeling more and she was brainwashing him. As it is, it kind of plays like that but it also kind of plays like he was just so stoked about finally being with his people that he threw everybody he ever cared about right out the window.

I regard it as a misstep from the show's creators, but not a fatal one. Before too long Odo shrugs this off and goes back to being the Odo we know.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:57 PM on July 24, 2016

After linking with the female Changeling (FC) the first time, in his discussion with Kira, he claims the FC wouldn't have been able to deceive him as to her motives when they were linked.

I find that highly suspect, considering that when Odo joined the Great Link before, they were able to plant in his mind the notion that Gowron had been replaced by a Changeling — which turned out to be deliberate disinformation.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:46 PM on August 11, 2017

I find that highly suspect, considering that when Odo joined the Great Link before, they were able to plant in his mind the notion that Gowron had been replaced by a Changeling — which turned out to be deliberate disinformation.

Well, that WAS his very first taste of Link, IIRC. Perhaps he had to get his sea legs, after which point deception became impossible? But that's a retcon.

All riiight, some DS9 thread necro!
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 5:56 AM on August 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


It's fitting that people were talking about Odo's weirdness, because that's the exact scene I wanted to discuss, when Odo is explaining that he has linked with the FC. That scene and that weird character moment, I strongly feel, is based on what it's like to be friends with someone who is returning to an an ex who they know to be shitty, who then encourages them to be their worst self and distant from their friends, but has some intangible attraction to them, and very specifically to watch two people with underlying sexual tension but are close friends argue about it, with all that baggage unspoken.

I feel this strongly because I once watched two friends who clearly had some chemistry going on have almost literally this exact same argument with some of the same beats, and I've been on the Odo side of it one before. I love/hate that writing moment because it feels incredibly real to me, space war rebellion heightening the drama notwithstanding.

Odo is acting super out of character and being a real dick to his friends, and that is how that often goes in life too. I think it's great.
posted by neonrev at 2:40 PM on December 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

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