For those who are new to my episode reviews, you can find the post where I establish my point criteria here
Overview – Quark sells Odo what he believes to be a dead Changeling. It turns out that it is actually an infant, albeit sick, Changeling, and Odo begins to nurse it back to health. As Odo begins to raise and teach the infant, he is visited by Doctor Mora Pol, the Bajoran scientist who raised Odo. The two individuals clash and then cooperate in the endeavor, but when the infant takes a turn for the worse, it gives Odo a special gift. Meanwhile, the O’Briens are preparing for the birth of their son, who has been carried by Kira to full term. When her romantic partner Shakar shows up, he and Miles clash over how the birth should be handled.
Score: 8/10 – In one of the most important episodes of the fifth season, we see Odo come to a major turning point. Not only does he get to bond with an infant Changeling, but through the unfortunate passing of it, it restores to Odo his ability to shape shift. For much of the season we wondered whether or not Odo would forever be a solid. In addition to regaining his abilities, he is able to reach a new level of understanding and resolution with his own “father”, Doctor Mora. We also have the birth of the newest member of the O’Brien family, and the end of Kira’s pregnancy that was written in to deal with the real-life pregnancy of actor Nana Visitor. Here is where the story weakens just a little bit. Miles and Shakar arguing with each other gets a bit annoying, and you can’t help but cheer when Kira kicks them both out of the delivery room. It is too bad that this is the last time we see Shakar, and I also think there was a missed moment with Kira here. In the ending of the episode Kira expresses to Odo some remorse over no longer having the baby in her life. It is a nice moment as each reflects upon the loss of their pseudo-child and the gifts they gave them. It would have been interesting to have followed up on Kira’s missing the baby and wanting to be a bigger part of his life as she had just spent about five months being the surrogate mother. Still, this is quite a moving episode.
Relevance – 3 points. More than anything, this episode is relevant in that we see Odo regain his shapeshifting abilities as the young Changeling reverts Odo back to his previous self. Whether or not he Founders wanted this, Odo’s sentence from “Broken Link” to live as a solid has finished. Second, the birth of Kirayoshi O’Brien ends the Kira-pregnancy storyline. Finally, we see Doctor Mora Pol for the second and final time, as well as the last appearance of Shakar Edon. We also have mention that Miles missed the birth of Molly (which occurred in the TNG episode “Disaster”).
Continuity – 3 points. Character continuity is a big check. Odo’s journey through parenthood/teacher/mentor sees the Constable face a variety of emotions, and he behaves as one would expect. We also see Miles, Kira, Keiko, and pretty much everyone else involved in the delivery act in their comedic ways as well. Story continuity is a bit of issue here. When people factor in dates and events, it is the Changeling masquerading as Bashir that delivers Kirayoshi and witnesses the death of the infant Changeling. This is has caused some fans to question whether or not Changeling-Bashir would have or should have done more for the Changeling. As I thought about this, I felt that it made sense that things progressed as they did. To keep his cover, Bashir-Changeling was very limited in what he could do. Universe continuity is also good here, so full marks for this section.
Character Development – 3 points. Definitely an important episode for Odo’s development. It is one of his Top 5 episodes for his character. He goes through a roller coaster ride of emotions, experiencing hope, joy, fear, and loss, with his ultimate high point of becoming a Changeling again. I would offer that this journey allows him to reconcile with Mora and he finds himself in a far better place than he has been in for a long time. There is also some for Kira and, to a lesser extent, Miles with the delivery of Kirayoshi. I stated earlier that I wish they would have developed the post-partum separation a little more, but we at least het a glimpse of it at the end of the episode as Odo and Kira share what they have gained in the loss of their “children”. I was quite touched by the parallel that these two characters had with being parents. It brought two close friends even closer.
Social Commentary – 3 points. I have touched on this already but let us examine the idea of losing a child more closely. Both Kira and Odo lost their respective child. Odo’s was due to death, and Kira gave hers up. Yes, Kira was a surrogate mother, but she still formed a unique bond with it. In both instances having the child, no matter how briefly, gave something to each of them. Kira gained an appreciation for the power of motherhood, something she had previously discarded as being something she wanted. Odo, in addition to regaining his shape-shifting abilities, gained something equally if not more valuable. He gained an appreciation and understanding for his own “father”, Doctor Mora. Odo came to understand what Mora experienced raising Odo. It allowed the two of them to repair their relationship. One thing that being a parent does is cause you to fully appreciate your own parents, in spite of their flaws.
Cool Stuff – 2 points. A point is scored for the scene where Odo regains his shape-shifting abilities. In this scene Odo emerges onto the Promenade and takes the form of a hawk, flying through air. There are several things that makes this scene work. One is the fact that he leaves behind his uniform, which not only makes sense from a logic viewpoint but is symbolic on Odo’s leaving behind his solid state once and for all. The music is also essential in making the most out of this scene, and Odo’s expression upon landing conveys so much powerful emotion. It is a credit to actor Rene Auberjonois to be able to express such strong feelings through his prosthetic makeup. I also am going to score a point for the infant Changeling. There is a scene where the infant takes the image of a face, mimicking Odo’s. It is just a neat little scene that forges a strong connection between Odo and the infant. When the scene cuts to a shot from behind the Changeling, it is apparently a puppet designed by assistant director Louis Race. Apparently there was no budget for the effect, so he went ahead and made and performed the puppet. It worked well and shows how using practical effects can be just as good as CGI.
Rank – Admiral (22 points). This episode gives Odo a real turning point and provides us with an important step forward in his overall story. We have the birth of Kirayoshi that brings to an end the pregnant Kira episode. We are treated to a story that is warm, sometimes funny, and deeply touching. A real gem of an episode.
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