Episode 3.1: The Search Part 1

There is a very fearful tone permeating the crew about the Dominion.  Kira is informing the crew of the dismal simulations that predict total collapse of station defenses in mere hours.  The station falls quickly, as does Bajor.  In later seasons, it becomes apparent that if the Dominion had full control of the wormhole, the Alpha Quadrant would have fallen quickly to the Dominion.  I actually felt the openers to Seasons 2, 4, and 6 all have fearful tones.  The former regarding the Circle, and the latter two regarding the Dominion again.  Here, however, spirits are lifted by Sisko’s tough little ship.  The crew embark on a search for the Founders.  I see this as a last, but much more cautious, attempt at diplomacy with the Dominion.  The crew approaches the Dominion with might to show the Federation is neither intimidated by the Dominion nor incapable of defending itself.  Important diplomatic maneuvers to avoid descending into war.

I liked the addition of the Defiant to DS9.  They distinctly made it unlike the Enterprise.  The Defiant is a warship, not a home.  They were careful to ensure that the station and Bajor remained home for the crew.  The Defiant isn’t visually welcoming, crew support facilities like the sickbay are poor, and overall the ship is rather small compared to the Enterprise (or even Voyager).  The Defiant certainly becomes a distinct element in DS9, particularly after Worf effectively claims it as his own, but it doesn’t end up with the same extensive personality as the station.  The Defiant is a very specific and (usually) dependable tool for the crew; it isn’t a member of the crew.  I really like that use and spin on a Star Trek starship.  It allows the crew mobility and security as they venture further from the station on higher priority missions, but it doesn’t sacrifice the station-centric setting of DS9.  Had the station no longer have been the central focus of DS9, I feel the series would have gone downhill.  Being locked into a single location forces the crew to deal with consequences of their actions, which is a hallmark of the show.  It also allows them to cultivate non-Starfleet personalities both as main characters (Odo, Quark) and side characters (eg Garak, Dukat).  As seen here, the Defiant successfully enables the crew as a whole to engage conflicts and settings far flung from the station.

Odo undergoes a fundamental shift in this episode and the next.  A very primal instinct is awoken in him that will burn beneath the surface throughout the rest of the series.  His need to go to the Omarion Nebula is a very basic instinct, one he cannot deny.  Not that he tries very hard.  I think that, given the lack of loyalty he was shown by Starfleet (by bringing Eddington on), he isn’t as emotionally invested in being part of the DS9 crew at the moment.  The drive to the Nebula and discovering his origins just fuels that feeling of being a man alone.  The euphoria of discovery will be short lived though.  It’s interesting how they set up here in Part 1 that Odo doesn’t follow the rules.  On the surface, that is contrary to his racial predilection toward order.  But in a deeper sense, Odo is contrary to the Founders.  I’ll leave that mostly to the next episode’s entry, but to Odo, justice and order are not the same thing.  He doesn’t like the rules of Starfleet nor the chain of command because he sees them as interfering with the administering of justice (a theme that, I believe, is exposed throughout the series).  However, the law is different and held in regard by Odo; he sees law as a mode of administering justice.

In this episode, Kira advocates for Odo quite strongly.  To Sisko, to the Bajoran government, to Odo himself (I loved her “stop brooding” comments).  She cares deeply for him as a friend and someone she respects.  Right now for her, the love is only plutonic.  Her being with him as he finds his people is intimate though.  She watches as one of his deepest desires is fulfilled, and she will see that same desire be crushed and twisted as he learns the truth about his people.  She is not unaware of how important these moments are for Odo.  We are reminded how intimately Odo sees his shapeshifting by his reaction to Quark.  It’s a deeply personal act.  But with Kira, Odo has no qualms about sharing these intimate moments with her (mostly seen in the next episode).  I want to leave a lot of that for next time, but set up here that the viewer is reminded that shapeshifting is deeply personal and intimate for Odo.  These events form a very strong bond between Kira and Odo.

Lastly, Sisko and Jake realize that the station is their home.  Sisko is emotionally invested in his crew and Bajor (“If the station falls, Bajor falls.  I will not let that happen.”).  It makes the threat from the Dominion much more personal for Sisko.  It isn’t just his assignment to protect Bajor; it is becoming his divine calling to protect Bajor.  Within a few seasons, Sisko starts to consider Bajor itself as his home.

Random Thoughts:  1) My “tough little ship” comment refers to Riker talking about the Defiant in Defiant (Ep. 3.9).  And a different Riker in First Contact.  2) In the DVDs, the opening graphic for Seasons 1 and 2 had a runabout go through the wormhole.  Now it is the Defiant.  3) This is officially a continuation from last season, though The Jem’Hadar (Ep. 2.26) shouldn’t be considered a cliffhanger.  This is a continuation as in a serial drama.  4) Comm badges change to a new style, replacing the oval with a rectangle.  5) Odo has a belt!  I once read that it’s because he liked the belt he wore during Crossover (Ep. 2.23), so he requested it was added to his costume.  6) Dax speaks of collapsing the wormhole as a legitimate option.  7) Michael Eddington is introduced.  8) The Female Changling is also first introduced.  9) Speaking of consequences, Quark’s deal with the Karemma comes in handy.  Quark expertly negotiates for Sisko.  He also gets a nice on-screen success with profit.  10) Dax informs Sisko that he isn’t admiral material because he likes action too much.  Similar to sentiments given to Kirk, and I think Captain Archer as well.  11) I like how uneasy the crew is with the cloaking device.  This is appropriate for their level of experience with the technology.  12) I’m amused that Bashir takes the helm of the Defiant.  Desperate times.  13) Even though the Defiant is beat up a bit this episode, note that it destroyed a Jem’Hadar warship in a single volley after being pounded with no shields up.  As intended, it comes across as powerful and useful against the Dominion.

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~ by Joshua Black on November 11, 2016.

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