Review originally printed in ORACLE
Newsletter July 2011
Review written by Mary Shaver
Is that all you can think about?
Killing? Isn’t there anything else
that you care about?
I… I don’t think so.
But there’s so much more to life
than that… there’s so much for you
to discover… to experience…
Odo learns that not everyone can expand beyond the limitations of their natures.
An abandoned baby, discovered in some cargo salvage, turns out to be a Jem’Hadar whose genetic engineering accelerates his growth. Within a day he is an adolescent and Odo agrees to take the teenager under his wing in an effort to help the youngster grow beyond his warrior nature.
Quark purchases some salvage from a Boslian trader and is surprised to discover a baby of unknown origin hidden in the wreckage. Bashir’s examination of the baby turns up a number of unusual readings, most significantly that the child has an abnormally high metabolic rate. Within hours the baby has grown into a child of 8 or 10 years. Not only is this mysterious child growing at an alarming rate; he also seems to have remarkable cognitive abilities. Without any external stimuli, he has learned language, speech and has the capacity for reasoning and understanding. Bashir concludes that this child is the product of genetic engineering that is far advanced beyond anything seen in the Federation. To add to the mystery, the child is missing a key enzyme and without a synthetic substitute, he will die. A culture that is capable of this level of technology surely wouldn’t have overlooked something so basic; it must have been a deliberate omission. Bashir is stymied.
“The Abandoned” is the first Odo-centric episode since the devastating events of “The Search.” Despite whatever internal conflicts he might be experiencing after finding his people and learning that they are the Founders of the Dominion, Odo is soldering on in the humanoid world. And while he finds no common ground with his people as to their philosophy of the universe, Odo did take away some positive things from his encounter with the Great Link, and is beginning to embrace his Changeling heritage.
While Dr. Bashir is searching to understand the anatomy of the orphaned child in the Infirmary, Odo, searching for a better understanding of himself, is beginning a journey of self-discovery. The first step in this journey is his decision to move out of the stifling little closet at the back of his Security office that has been his make-shift home since the days of Terek Nor, and take regular crew quarters.
We learn this as Kira arrives with a gift for his new quarters – a houseplant. Odo answers the door chime and very deliberately chooses to greet her outside his quarters in the corridor. Unabashedly interested about the configuration of his quarters, Kira at first peers over Odo’s shoulder, trying to get a peek inside the room, and when he closes and locks the door she confesses her curiosity – and she apparently isn’t alone. According to her, “everyone” is curious to see his quarters. For a painful moment Odo seems to be reliving the sort of curiosity he used to excite while a lab specimen. Kira is blissfully ignorant that her words and actions have caused the Constable some consternation, but Odo quickly recovers and invites Kira in. She looks in wonder at the strange collection of items that populate the room and seem to be scattered everywhere. Somewhat apologetically, Odo explains that he hasn’t finished organizing everything. From his expression Odo appears to be looking for her approval. When he then goes on to clarify the purpose for the objects – to practice and explore his shapeshifting gifts – Odo is acknowledging the next step in his journey. Shapeshifting is no longer something he does simply as part of his job when the need calls for it. His reluctance until now to change shapes arguably has its roots in the things he was forced to do when confined to Mora’s lab and when he was taken out ‘on parade’ for the entertainment of the Cardassians. Meeting his people and learning at the feet of the Female Changeling has altered his thinking and now Odo is beginning to understand what it means to be a shapeshifter. He has discovered that the ability to mimic various shapes, forms, textures and surfaces can be a joyful and pleasurable experience. For a man who has seen so little joy in his life, this has to be something of an epiphany to Odo.