“The Search Parts 1 & 2″
Review Originally printed in ORACLE
Newsletter July 2010
Review written by Mary Shaver
Binding and Breaking Links:
Kira waits for Odo in the Changeling garden. Presently, a large bird lands nearby and morphs into Odo. The look on his face is one of pure joy and ecstasy. It’s a look we hardly ever see. Kira happily shares in his joy and then they sober as the realization that they will soon be parting company, probably forever, hits them both. But she needs his help on last time. She’s tracked down the interference preventing her from contacting Commander Sisko but it’s located behind a door, which both find puzzling. Why do shapeshifters need a door?
Odo manages to unlock the door and they are greeted by armed Jem’Hadar soldiers who march them into the depths of the underground cavern where they find Sisko and the Defiant bridge crew (I haven’t reviewed the “dream sequence” part of this episode. Basically, this is a mind probe exercise being performed by the Vorta in attendance and is designed to gauge the level of resistance to an attempt by the Dominion to gain a foothold in the Alpha Quadrant. This plot device may have worked when viewed for the first time – although I personally doubt it. The dream scenario involved the death of Garak, a recurring character and the collapse of the wormhole, a major “character” in its own right. That simply wouldn’t have been done if this was the “real thing”. What salvages the dream sequence in my mind is the highly entertaining Admiral Necheyev, whom I always think of as a the secular version of Kai Winn. Deliciously wicked).
Shock follows upon shock for Odo and Kira, as the Female Shapeshifter appears in the cavern. Odo is astonished to discover that she knew about the experiment but Kira cottons to it almost immediately. “You’re part of the Dominion, aren’t you?” Kira says, in a voice that isn’t really a question at all. When the Female Shapeshifter confirms that the Changelings are the Dominion, the scales fall from Odo’s eyes as he says in an agonized whisper, “You’re the Founders.”
After a lifetime searching for a people he had imagined to be a paragons of virtue, Odo learns the devastating knowledge that they are in fact, the evil, malevolent Dominion. Any mere mortal would have been crushed by this discovery.
We learn years later, through Odo’s changeling brother Laas, that the only reason Odo isn’t with his people in the Great Link is because of his love for Kira. Whether at this time it was principle, or love, or a combination, Odo makes one of the most gut-wrenching decisions of his life, rejecting his people for the Solids. Odo uses an interesting choice of words as he addresses the Female Shapeshifter. “I admit this Link of yours is enticing. But you see, I’ve already formed a Link… with these people.”
What does this say about Odo’s capacity to forgive? Remember, the one anchor in his life – his job – has been effectively ripped away from him. At the beginning of this mission, he was angry and bitter and consumed by a sense of betrayal. Yet, he has somehow managed to overcome those feelings and reestablish his Link with the Solids. Remarkable. Or perhaps it was only ever Kira all along.
(One of the loose ends never cleared up, either in “The Search” or in subsequent episodes, was the way things were ultimately resolved with Odo’s position as Chief of Station Security. Lt. Commander Eddington remained as a recurring character on the series for another two years but Odo returned to his job and there was no further comment or conflict between the two. We can only assume that some sort of delegation of authority was hammered out that was acceptable to Odo).
While Sisko and the others beam up to the Defiant which has been in orbit over the planet, Kira and Odo stay behind, Odo to bid farewell to his newly found and rejected people and Kira to make sure Odo is safe. Notice how Kira has stuck to Odo like glue.
The final scene when Odo takes his leave of the Founder, shows us the very best of Kira, fine tuned to the needs of her friend. Not one normally given to physical displays of affection, Kira understands intuitively that if there was ever a time when Odo needed to feel the warmth and comfort of a friend, it was now. Odo’s initial look of surprise as she takes his hand and presses it between her breasts is replaced by gratitude and the oddly intimate gesture she makes in pressing his commbadge when they are ready to beam up to the ship seems completely appropriate to the moment. There is also a look in Kira’s eyes that goes beyond affection, compassion and the fierce pride she feels for her friend. I have no canonical evidence to support this claim but I believe this is the moment when Kira fell in love with Odo. It only took her three-plus years to realize it!
“Ever since the day you crossed paths, she’s lied to you, tricked you, sat in judgement of you – I don’t trust her. And I don’t understand how you can“
Kira to Odo, speaking of the Female Founder from “Behind the Lines”.
“The Search” provides us with perhaps the single largest body of information about the Founders, their society, their philosophical outlook and their history. This information comes by way of the Female Shapeshifter, answering the questions Odo puts to her as he struggles to understand more about himself and his people. The answers appear to be deliberately vague, contrived and contradictory.
Color me jaded but I simply don’t believe most of what Odo is told. With the benefit of hindsight, we know that every encounter Odo had with his people was marked by treachery, deceit and manipulation. That deceit beings in this episode. Despite linking with the Female Shapeshifter, Odo remains ignorant of the Changelings’ real identity – the Founders of the Dominion. He is also not told that the Defiant bridge crew is imprisoned on the planet. Not the most auspicious start to a relationship that will ultimately shape the futures of the two quadrants. Below are some examples of what Odo is told that was either ring hollow or simply don’t make sense:
- Odo is told he is one of one hundred Changelings sent out in the galaxy to act as “explorers” after the Changelings retreat to the isolation of their homeworld in the wake of their “persecution” at the hands of the Solids. Odo: “Tell me, why was I sent away?” Female Shapeshifter: “Because even in our solitude, we desired to learn more about the galaxy. You were one of a hundred “infants” sent off to gain that knowledge for us” —— This is perhaps the most patently disingenuous statement the Founder makes. If it were true, why does the Founder taunt and belittle and deride Odo at every opportunity for his link with the Solids? Wouldn’t they be picking his brain, learning all that he knows about the people he spent his whole life with? His knowledge of the Solids is dismissed entirely. The Founder even goes as far as to say the time he spent with the Solids has “damaged” him. This comes up later when Odo defends Sisko and the Defiant crew, comparing them to the Changelings in their mutual quest to explore the galaxy for the purpose of gaining knowledge and the Founder’s dismissive reply, “The Solids are nothing like us.” A better explanation is that Odo and the hundred were sent out as scouts, so the Founders would have a better idea of what species posed the greatest threat to them. This way, they had the luxury of planning a war strategy long before any hostilities would be declared. It might even make it easier to send in Changeling infiltrators later, to destabilize alliances the Dominion wanted to weaken prior to any military action. This explanation, if true, would doubtless distress Odo and so he was given a fabricated story instead.
- Odo is the first of the one hundred to return to the Link. According to the Founder, they weren’t expected back for another three hundred years. Yet, over the objections of the other Changelings, the Female Founder offers Odo a taste of the Link almost immediately, with the justification that, “He’s been away too long. He needs to remember.” She also makes several references to how “damaged” Odo is from his time among Solids and how he has lived with Solids for “too long.” How much more “damaged” would he have been after three hundred years? Again, the more logical explanation is that the Founder sensed Odo’s strong bond with Kira. Offering him the Link and deriding the Solids, was the most effective means of enticing Odo into her Link.
- The Link is evidently the normal way Changelings live. It is a completely communal existence where they don’t exist as separate entities But when the Founder first explains this to Odo and Odo confesses that he’s led a “very solitary Life,” the Founder says that was “necessary.” Later, in the Changeling garden, when Odo is encouraged to shapeshift into the various objects and that “to become a thing is to know a thing,” he is confused and asks how such a thing could be possible. The Founder’s answer again contradicts the very nature of Changeling. “This too, is a journey you must make alone.” The only way any of this makes sense is if this represents another strategy by the Changelings to further undermine Odo’s sense of self-worth and make him more vulnerable and therefore more receptive to their Link.
These are just a few examples but they demonstrate a pattern of behavior that the Link will employ with Odo again and again with surprising success. Perhaps deception is hereditary characteristic of Changelings (after all, isn’t that what they are doing every time they morph into a shape other than their own?). I suspect that the deliberate vagueness and ambiguity used with Odo during this initial meeting was designed to keep the truth from him about who the Changelings really were (The Founders) and what their real motives were (Conquest and Domination of the worlds around them). Whatever the reasons or motivations behind the Founder’s ambiguous statements, it leaves the viewer with an unsettling feeling that congeals into a real sense of dread when the Founder suggests she will be “visiting” Odo and the Alpha Quadrant. It appears the fleeting time of peace in the Bajoran sector will not be lasting long.