Episode 5.12: The Begotten

The foray into exploring who Odo would be as a solid opened up some excellent storylines. Odo learned his core identity is more than just a shapeshifter (Apocalypse Rising, Ep. 5.1); he was forced to confront his past failures and move beyond them (Things Past, Ep. 5.8); and he learned of solids’ limitations and the accompanying fear (The Ascent, Ep. 5.9). But leaving Odo as a solid would be impractical, and it would really diminish the character in the long run. Odo being so very different (he’s an entirely separate phase of matter, even!) opens up a lot more storyline possibilities and allows the writers to challenge the viewers’ preconceived notions. There were three solid Odo-centric episodes prior to The Begotten (Ep. 5.12), and plenty of small one-off opportunities. Using a baby Changeling to “melt” Odo back into being a Changeling is very satisfying to me. He forms an intimate connection with the baby, giving it a love he felt he never received from Mora (or the Founders). In return, the baby gives Odo an immeasurably valuable gift. The Founders, who don’t understand Odo, took Odo’s shapeshifting life away. The baby Changeling did understand and bond with Odo, and gave him back his shapeshifting life.

Mora’s other appearance in DS9 was in The Alternate (Ep. 2.12), and Odo reacted similarly to his presence. Odo is determined to give the baby Changeling the kind of care and love he believed he never received. Odo treats it like a sentient being from the start. Odo wants to introduce the world to the baby Changeling and teach it to shapeshift. Mora’s approach is more clinical. He wants to measure it to see if it’s healthy and forcefully prod it into growing. Much of Odo’s solitary nature can be traced to his experience with Mora. This episode redeems Odo and Mora’s relationship. Odo sees that Mora had Odo’s best interest at heart, even if Mora missed many of the emotional needs Odo had. Odo also understands more strongly why Mora was so pressured to produce results. Along with Odo’s interaction with Kira this episode, I think these events have a softening effect on Odo. The symbolism of Odo becoming less rigid emotionally is mirrored by his ability to shapeshift again.

In ways that I feel only my brain works, I got to thinking of the afterlife/heaven because of this episode’s theme. In my faith tradition, heaven is this place of no pain, no tears. But I wonder at that. Is all pain negative? I don’t think so. The point that Mora makes is very poignant. Without discomfort, the baby Changeling would never have realized it’s potential to become other things. I wonder if our lives are similar. We need occasional discomfort to be propelled to become better versions of ourselves. Too much discomfort can severely negatively impact us, and I think that threshold is easy to cross. But I wonder if I rail too quickly at hardships in my life and don’t take time to realize that the difficulties spur me to be better. I wonder if I value my contentment far too much. I think to do that requires me to surrender a fair amount of control over my life, something I’m averse to doing. I know this particular paragraph may have seemed totally random, but that’s where my thoughts drifted while watching this episode.

As a side story, they finally end Kira’s pregnancy. I liked the effort they put into making the birth just a little bit alien. Needing to be calm, needing the rhythm to give birth. The birthing shawls were a nice touch. This felt like a way to simply end the pregnancy for Kira. They got a few interesting storylines out of it. Shakaar’s appearance here felt very limited. He only appears in DS9 in three episodes (the others are Shakaar, Ep. 3.24; Crossfire, Ep. 4.23), and this feels like he provides the least to the story. The rivalry between Shakaar and O’Brien felt very contrived. All in all, I’m glad they finally ended Kira’s pregnancy. I liked that element more for the knowledge that the writers accommodated Nana Visitor’s pregnancy (and didn’t hide it) than for any storyline it created. After the pregnancy, however, does have important meta-narrative implications. Odo and Kira both lost a child in this episode. At the end, they bond over their mutual, immense loss. This further cements their friendship in a unique and intimate way.

Changeling-Bashir Watch. I saw no kinks in the facade. Once again, Bashir plays a modest role in the episode, but almost entirely as his professional persona. The Changeling-Bashir has that down well. He is very invested in saving the baby Changeling, but that would be something the real Bashir would do. If there is any minor, minor dent in the facade, it is that Changeling-Bashir in this episode (and past ones) is too professional. But that would be scant evidence to indict any Changeling on.

Random Thoughts: 1) Shakaar does get mentioned a few more times in the series. He’s obviously referenced when Kira breaks up with him, but also a few times as First Minister. 2) Miles references Molly’s birth, which was in The Disaster (TNG Ep. 5.05). 3) I was really disappointed that Worf was on the station for this episode. When he learned that the O’Briens were having another child, he declared he would be far, far away (Accession, Ep. 4.17). I’m sad they didn’t follow through on that. 4) This is one of the last times we see Keiko. She appears in Time’s Orphan (Ep. 6.24) and What You Leave Behind (Ep. 7.25). I think the on-screen reason was “the war”, but I’m not sure if there was a behind-the-scenes reason too. 5) Odo was becoming quite the hypochondriac. 6) I think they let Quark get way too little for the baby Changeling. Easily should have been a few bars of latinum for a living creature, not mere slips. 7) I was impressed at Rene Auberjonois’s acting toward a jar of ooze. 8) Worf gets the best lines: “Constable, why are you talking to your beverage?” 9) Mora’s speculations that Odo was forced into a solid form because he has limited ability turn out to be true. A foreshadowing of the end of the episode. 10) Thanks to Changeling-Bashir, the Founders should instantly know Odo is back to his old self.

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~ by Joshua Black on May 6, 2018.

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