Episode 1.12: Vortex

Odo’s struggle with belonging is nearly a universal struggle.  I have yet to meet any person who did not spend a significant amount of their teenaged years finding their personal identity, then attempting to integrate it into a social group.  Or distancing themselves from a social group and trying to find like-minded individuals, which is still a search for belonging anyway.  If left unchecked, the need for social acceptance can lead to some fairly outrageous behavior; I have a picture of myself with a skunk style haircut to prove it.  If we are left isolated and alone, we begin to deeply question other beliefs and become willing to let them fall by the wayside.  Unlike my benign departure from good fashion sense, Odo’s willingness to compromise could be more disastrous.  He is willing to throw away a core of his being, his desire for justice, to pursue any rumor about his people.  With each conversation with Croden, Odo slips a little closer to giving Croden what he desires.  Croden adds fuel to Odo’s struggle by highlighting Odo’s isolation, echoing Quark from the beginning.  The climax of this struggle, in my mind, is when Croden reveals his necklace’s shapechanging ability.  The lust in Odo’s eyes is palatable. He manages to hang on a bit longer, but the battle is lost.  Once in the vortex, Odo gives Croden the controls of the runabout knowing full well that Croden continues to weave deceptions to get to the fabled colony.  After this, Odo does little to stop Croden from doing what he wants other than shouting at him; a feeble attempt because Odo’s true desire is to see this colony.  But Croden’s deception proves deep indeed, and there is no colony.  When offered a chance to let Croden and his daughter go free, Odo permits it.  Odo identifies with Croden’s newfound isolation and separation from his people, so to help diminish the pain to come, he permits them free passage back to the depths of the Federation and its paradise.  This also lets Odo satisfy justice (though not the law), since Croden’s crime is rebellion against a totalitarian government.

Odo’s need for belonging is stark.  He seeks not just companionship from his isolation, but also a place to call home.  Community is a wonderful need because it gives us purpose beyond ourselves for something larger than we could ever accomplish alone.  But what should we give up for it?  How far do we go?  If we give up too much, the joy of community is soured by the compromises we make.  If we give up nothing, likely nothing will change.  Should moral compromise even be a consideration in our search for community?  Should we outright reject any community that expects us to compromise ourselves in such a way?  Moral compromise is a heavy theme in DS9, and Odo has many more trials ahead.  Nor is he the only character who faces such choices.

I want to highlight Quark’s tirade from the beginning of the episode.  He spends about a minute ranting about how he envisions Odo’s people.  He calls them paranoid, believes they are hiding, and predicts they think the entire galaxy is out to get them.  Definite foreshadowing here, since the idea of the Dominion has already been planted (see the Hunters of Captive Pursuit [Ep 406]).  Lastly, the power of DS9’s large supporting cast starts to shine through with Quark and Rom’s interaction in the beginning.  It means more to the viewer if it’s Rom instead of some random waiter.  We know a bit of Rom’s personality, and we know he’s an idiot who would most likely not notice there are 5 glasses for 4 people.  There is so much flavor in these interactions that one doesn’t find in other shows.

Random Thoughts: 1) Morn finally gets his name!  Some unintentional foreshadowing too with Quark commanding Morn to keep his mouth shut.  2) More criminal vs cop.  I love it.  3) This is the first mention of Odo’s race being “changlings.”

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~ by Joshua Black on August 8, 2012.

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