October 1, 2022

Gabbing Geek

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Weekend Trek “Necessary Evil”

Odo's past comes back to haunt him as he investigates the attempted murder of Quark.

I watch these shows off Netflix, and I gotta say, I am not sure how I feel about how the service writes up its episode descriptions.  More often than not, they only seem to describe the cold open rather than the main thrust of the plot itself.  Take this one for example, where the plot description said Quark would be doing a job of some kind for a beautiful Bajoran woman.

That’s all true, and it even holds true for quite some time, but it isn’t the main point of the episode.  And the main point of the episode is so, so, so much better than that.

I say that as someone who acknowledges that the episode starts off in an interesting manner.  It’s a dark and stormy night (no, really) on Bajor, and Quark is meeting with a wealthy widow named Vaatrick Pallra.  Pallra, someone Quark apparently had some sort of business dealings with in the past, asks him to break into a special chamber inside Odo’s office and retrieve an envelope that belonged to her late husband.  The lights are out in the home, and already the episode is developing some neat atmosphere that I don’t see too often on, well, any version of Star Trek.

Quark agrees, leaves, and then Pallra asks a man to follow Quark and finish the job because, well, anyone who has worked with Quark knows you can’t completely trust the guy.

OK, so far, so good.  Odo is narrating a log this time, saying how he thinks logs are unnecessary but he has his orders so here he is.  It’s dark on the station too, and then we get to Quark and Rom breaking into the office to retrieve something from under the floor.  Quark thinks it’ll take some time, but Rom is actually surprisingly adept at this due to practice breaking into Quark’s storeroom when his brother is not at the tavern.

Quark concludes he needs a new security system.

And then, once back at the bar, Rom heads off somewhere, Quark decides to open the envelope, and that guy Pallra enlisted walks in, says he knew Quark would try to look at whatever he stole for Pallra, and Quark, not even denying he wasn’t caught fair and square, ends up getting shot and presumably killed.  Rom rushes out and screams for help…and then the episode gets really interesting.

As in…why is Odo the chief of security?  How did a guy, who started off as a mystery organism that the Cardassians used for party tricks, become an investigator of such great talent?  He was pretty quick to point out Rom, as the natural inheritor of the bar, is a prime suspect, and the only thing that saves Rom is Sisko sticking up for him.  Plus, Rom references what he and Quark were really doing as Bashir manages to stabilize Quark in Sickbay.

By the by, Rom has an MVP episode here as he realizes at various points that he might actually be inheriting the bar according to the Rules of Acquisition and then by the end of the episode his horror at realizing he both managed to save his brother’s life when the assassin tries again and that Quark was going to live after all, meaning Rom would be getting nothing out of all this.

No, instead, we get a shadow-filled series of flashbacks–seriously this is one noir-flavored episode–to Odo’s first case, brought in by Gul Dukat under the assumption that Odo would, for some reason, be a fantastic investigator.  And then it turns out Dukat isn’t wrong.  Odo, famed for his “Cardassian neck trick,” has, over the years, developed a very keen eye for body language.  He’s had to in order to assume the shape he holds at all.  He knows when a humanoid is getting ready to cry, and he knows when they’re lying to him.  He’s looking into the death of Pallra’s husband, and the prime suspect is a young Bajoran woman who, Pallra says, was having an affair with her husband.

And it’s Kira.

There’s a lot going on here.  It’s a lot of fun seeing Odo learning the ropes of the job he’s going to master, his first encounter with future friend Kira and future perennial thorn-in-each-other’s-side Quark.  Quark, even from the beginning, tries to weasel his way around Odo in a way Odo immediately finds distasteful, and Kira plays the role of the resistance fighter who is more of a suspect than anyone would guess.  Odo figures out who she’s really working for, but his only real interest is turning in the real killer, so he’s not much interested in turning in people for other crimes any more than he wants to be known as someone working for Dukat.  Dukat seems fine with that too since, well, he has his own investigators and it doesn’t seem to make sense that he would need to find another one.

Oddly enough, when all is said and done, Odo ends up solving two cases:  the assault on Quark and the original murderer, where he learns he was wrong about the killer and someone special to him, Kira, is a far better liar than he knew.  Kira, unsure of her footing with one of her oldest friends, asks if he can trust her again.

And Odo, he can’t answer that question.

And that is the sort of moment that sets Deep Space Nine apart from other Trek.

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