Odo, one of the most mysterious regular characters on any Star Trek series to date gets a chance to learn about his past. Originally airing on April 18,1993, this is Vortex.
Station Log Stardate Undetermined: Vortex
A stranger from the Gamma Quadrant arrives with information about Odo’s people, information he is willing to give…for a price.
We open with Odo investigating Quark and his business with the recent arrival of a Miradorn raider. When the raiders arrive, Quark immediately gets hostile toward the shapeshifter, accusing him of being unjustly suspicious of the barkeeper. When Quark isn’t looking, Odo transforms into a glass on a serving tray Rom is taking up to serve the suspicious traders.
In the holosuite, the Twin Miradorn raiders offer up a jeweled egg for sale. Quark questions the provenance of the item, claiming that one similar was recently reported stolen. Just as the twins are about to get violent, a mysterious man from the Gamma Quadrant, Croden comes in and tries to steal the egg. In the scuffle, one of the twins are killed and Odo steps in to prevent further damage. Croden and everyone involved are detained where we learn that the Miradorn Raider was a twin who is now ‘incomplete’ and now claims vengeance against Croden.
Odo and Sisko visit Croden in the brig and begin discussing his fate on the station. Sisko explains that Croden is facing a trial for the murder of the Miradorn Raider. In conversation, Croden reveals that Odo is from a species known as Shapeshifters and that he has information about Odo and his past. Sisko and the senior staff begin discussing first contact with Croden’s people in the Gamma Quadrant resulting in a visit to the other side of the wormhole.
Odo continues the investigation and confronts Quark about Croden. Odo is desperate to learn more about what Croden knows and, just when he is getting somewhere, his investigation is interrupted by Ah-Kel, the Miradorn Raider, who is blocking Odo’s office to get to Croden. Odo clears the group and goes in to talk with Croden.
Croden tells Odo of a location in the Gamma Quadrant that other Shapeshifters live but will not share the location with him. However, he does show Odo a trinket that appears to have the same shape-shifting abilities as the security chief.
Meanwhile, Sisko and Dax leave for the Gamma Quadrant and soon find Croden’s homeworld. Upon contacting Hadran on the planet Rakar, they learn that the criminal is wanted on Rakar for various crimes. Sisko promises to return Croden to his people to pay for his crimes.
Back on the station, Odo learns that the pendant is indeed biological material not unlike himself. Confronting Croden about it, Odo discovers that the thief has encountered others of Odo’s kind and offers to take him there. It is when Sisko informs the constable that he is to take Croden back to his homeworld that Odo sees an opportunity to learn more about his people.
Slipping past the Miradorn, Odo and Croden head through the wormhole to deliver Croden to his people. While on the way to Rakar, Croden shares the story of the death of Croden’s family with Odo attempting to gain sympathy with the Constable.
Back on the station, Quark reveals to Ah-Kel that Odo and Croden have left for the Gamma Quadrant. Ah-Kel heads through the wormhole to get his vengeance.
Croden continues to try to convince Odo to take the fugitive to a specific location in the Gamma Quadrant when they are attacked by Ah-Kel. It soon becomes apparent that Odo must trust Croden to get them to safety or risk having his ship destroyed. Odo relinquishes control of the runabout to Croden and the criminal begin leading them to safety. Finding themselves relentlessly pursued through the Vortex, Croden lands the runabout on an asteroid where the secrets of Odo’s people may be revealed.
Croden is desperate to find something in the caverns of the asteroid and, when confronted, admits that there is no shapeshifter community hidden there. However, Croden has a secret ad that secret is his daughter had been hidden in the very caves they are in. She is the last of his family ad the only one he could save. Using the shape-shifting key, Croden releases his daughter much to Odo’s surprise. Just as they are returning to the runabout, Ah-Kel attacks causing a cave-in. Odo is knocked unconscious and, after debating with himself, Croden saves Odo by carrying him back to the ship.
After regaining consciousness, Odo uses the explosive ‘Toh-maire’ gas in the vortex to destroy the Miradorn shop, saving the crew or the runabout. Croden volunteers to return to his homeworld to face his crimes but asks Odo to take care of his daughter. It is only when a Vulcan Science Vessel arrives, Odo arranges transportation to Vulcan for both Croden and his daughter. Odo, so close to an answer is left with the shapeshifting pendant as his only connection to his past.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
This is a great Odo-centric episode focusing on his origins. It really manages to get across to the viewers just how lonely the Constable is and how he longs for some connection to his unknown past. Odo himself is a tragic character having no real place to call home, he tries to fit in but finds it painfully obvious that he doesn’t belong. In an earlier episode he indicated that he has chosen his bipedal form to help put those around him at ease but never really managed to perfect the nose making it clear that he is…different.
We also get a chance to see more of Odo’s sense of justice and that, when provided with all of the details, he is not as ‘cut and dry’ with the rules as he makes everyone believe he is. He actually has a heart in a sense and wants only the best for those around him. When he discovers Croden’s situation he could have easily returned the man to his people without any remorse, after all Croden is a wanted criminal and Odo is a Constable. It is only when he realizes that there may be more to Croden’s crimes than just being an ‘enemy of the state’ that he understands Croden may not be as guilty as his people make him out to be. In a rare impulse, he allows the man and his daughter to go free knowing that there is a chance that Croden will return to a life of crime. However, this also provides a chance to Croden to have a home with his family, something Odo desperately wants. In many ways, Odo gets a chance to live vicariously through Croden, even for just a short moment.
Of course, as we progress through the series, we eventually learn Odo’s origins and who the Shapeshifters are to the Gamma Quadrant and it is not at all what he expects. I wont spoil it here but it is fascinating to watch his journey from the beginning again, knowing what he will learn and how he deals with the revelations to come.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
This episode marks the first time Odo is referred to as a ‘Changeling’. At this point in the story, Changelings are more myth than reality but that will, of course, change…in a big way.
This is the first and the last time we see the shape-shifting key but the subtext is pretty interesting if you think about it. This item could be the ‘key’ to Odo’s past and, at the same time, fills an empty part of him. While it seems to be a very important item to him, it is never seen or discussed again, which I think was a huge oversight on the writers part. Even just seeing it on his desk or hanging in his room would have been a great callback to a time when he did not know his origins.
The Miradorn Twins are actually played by a single actor by the name of Randy Oglesby.
We never see nor hear from Croden or his daughter again. It is assumed that they found a life for themselves in Federation Space.
Odo smiles for the first time in the series.
While we never see a Miradorn again, they are mentioned in later episodes.
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Late To The Game 12/19/2020 (Originally published 3/20/19)
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