Episode 3.6: The Abandoned

In my view, the theme that binds the two storylines together is a father-figure trying to guide their ward and by two characters with prejudices that are challenged.  Odo is trying to mentor the Jem’Hadar into becoming someone who isn’t driven by his own biological instincts.  Sisko is trying to guide Jake away from someone he assumes would be a bad influence, but Jake shows his insight into others’ characters and surprises Sisko.  This is a middling episode into one of my favorite DS9 themes: morality toward enemies.

Odo’s desire to help the Jem’Hadar is twofold.  First, he commiserates with the Jem’Hadar’s fate as a lab rat.  Odo knows the pain of that experience and wants to save him from it.  Secondly, he feels some responsibility of reversing the Founder’s influence in the galaxy.  The Jem’Hadar is genetically programmed to find Changelings the most superior of races and all other races as inferior, and he is willing to fight against any who believe otherwise.  Odo seeks to break these attitudes that are so deeply ingrained.  Odo firmly believes that choices can overcome any sort of predisposition.  He is different from the Founders; Kira is different than her terrorist past.  But for this to happen, there must be a drive.  There must be a dissonance in the person that says, “There is something about me that isn’t as it should be.”  The Jem’Hadar had no such dissonance.  He felt exactly as he thought he should, and no words from Odo would have changed that.  In fact, Odo goes so far as to induce a dissonance by allowing only fighting inside the holosuite.  Aggression inside at the price of peace outside.  Unfortunately, that dissonance didn’t induce the Jem’Hadar into questioning his violence; rather he only wanted to escape the dissonance by fighting outside too.  I think this is an oft missed point about progressive change at either the personal or cultural level.  Without a dissonance, no change will occur.

Jake surprises his father here and will repeatedly do so throughout his growth into a man.  There are the surface things that surprise Sisko, like Jake’s poetry or domjot playing.  The element that, I think, really surprises Sisko is how insightful his son is at understanding people.  Sisko completely judged Mardah long before he met her.  Jake, on the other hand, knew that Mardah was more than skin deep.  At times, Jake is a foil to his father, showing the unconscious prejudices and trappings of Paradise-Federation superiority.

Quick comment on the scene between Kira and Odo in Odo’s quarters.  Odo is very protective of his space, but allows Kira in to this intimate place.  She realizes it, albeit not until she’s inside.  Odo gives her gift a great honor in his new home, by planting her gift in his old bucket.  Kira gets more personal and unique insight into what Odo sees in shapeshifting:  exploring new textures and shapes, existing for hours as a single thing, freedom from judgement at his abilities.  These are personal qualities that Kira will have unique insight into.

Random Thoughts:  1) We see some deep insight into the Jem’Hadar here.  They are ruthlessly programmed to be combative.  They harbor deep racial prejudices for Changelings and against all other Solids.  They are completely addicted to White, and the Founders use that as a leash for them.  2) O’Brien acts a bit as the outside mentor again in Jake’s journey to manhood, though this time to the man-to-be’s father, Sisko.  Also, I love his line: “16 years old and already dating a Dabo girl?  Godspeed, Jake.”  3) Jake visually looks older, I think.  4) We get a lock on Jake’s age.  He is currently 16.  Mardah is 20.  5) My comments on needing a dissonance to induce a specific, progressive change lead to a long soapbox about idealism, but I won’t go there in this post.  Needless to say, I feel that it is idealism that induces the dissonance, and therefore idealism is utterly crucial to a well functioning society.  And idealism demands objective truth, which demands a deity…see…a rabbit hole.

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~ by Joshua Black on December 2, 2016.

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