Having an episode where the crew are behaving strangely for one reason or another can lead to a lot of fun for the cast. They would, essentially, get a chance to play different characters, and actors tend to enjoy that sort of thing. The downside is the regular characters have to be familiar enough to the audience so we can see that they are behaving out of character.
Fortunately, this late in season one, we do have a bit of a firm grasp on who these people are.
OK, to be fair, that isn’t universally true. Dax is still somewhat of a vaguely defined character, but Chief O’Brien had been around a lot longer than Deep Space Nine, so they probably balance each other out. And there are one or two characters who stay more or less themselves. One is Quark, but he’s not directly involved in the plot. And the other, well, that would be Odo.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. A Klingon ship returns from the other side of the wormhole, and just as it does, it explodes. The station manages to pull the only passenger remaining over with the transporter, but he soon after dies after muttering the single word “Victory”.
So, this isn’t more than a weird mystery, right? Well, not quite. See, the Klingons were looking for a potential weapon over there, and they found it. And whatever it was, it imprinted the memories of beings long dead onto the Klingons to recreate a violent coup for a civilization long dead, And, as an added bonus, now it’s in the Deep Space Nine’s command crew with the lone exception being the aforementioned Odo. Odo, as he himself figures out, lacks a humanoid brain and was immune to the telepathic effect that hit the others. And since Odo is, by profession, very observant, he is pretty quick to see the others are acting strangely, starting with a suddenly politically-conscious Dr. Bashir. Bashir brings up that Kira and Sisko are at odds, and while the two may not always seem to see things eye-to-eye, it’s more small disagreements on style than anything else. The two are hardly at each other’s throat.
Besides, Bashir seems to slimy as a gossip, and Odo picks up on it immediately. Quark provides the next clue when he complains Kira tossed him around his own bar, something that seemed far too violent and quick-tempered for Kira. Dax, sitting nearby, has become by turns either forgetful or nostalgic for times gone by. O’Brien has become Sisko’s enforcer and a real hardass law-and-order guy. Sisko, on his end, doesn’t seem to care what’s going on and is trying to build some kind of weird alien clock. There’s only so much time before Sisko and Kira’s respective plots and counterplots end with the destruction of the entire station.
And that’s where Odo comes in. The one member of the command crew that is still thinking clearly, someone both Kira and O’Brien are trying to recruit (Sisko doesn’t care enough to try), and someone who knows just how to play everyone to get all the people acting weird into the same room at the right moment. And I do love that even when he’s not himself, Bashir is still enough of a pompous boob that Odo can trick him into helping come up with a cure for the telepathic resonance, even as Bashir insists he isn’t infected.
Apparently, Bashir is the station’s punchline even if Quark and the other Ferengi are comic relief.
If anything, episodes like this one demonstrate how good at his job Odo actually is. He picks up on the clues immediately, he doesn’t mess around, and he ultimately saves the day. Quark may not get satisfaction for his (probably exaggerated) neck injuries, but at least we get a quick moment of Kira apologizing to Sisko despite the fact neither of them were exactly in their right minds for all that.
And Sisko, he says he’ll accept the apology…this time.
That’s some sass right there.
Then again, if anyone should apologize, maybe it should be Dax. She has been Sisko’s friend the longest and kept reminiscing about the good times they had, and then she sided with Kira. That’s not cool…and it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense no matter how you slice it, but then again, Dax has been a vaguely defined character even from the beginning.