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The Alternate

Review

Series : Deep Space Nine Rating : 3
Disc No : 2.3 Episode : 31
First Aired : 9 Jan 1994 Stardate : 47391.7
Director : David Carson Year : 2370
Writers : Bill Dial, Jim Trombetta Season : 2
Guest Cast :
James Sloyan as Doctor Mora Pol Matt McKenzie as Doctor Weld Ram
Moral :
Science : It's easy to mistake the dispassionate nature of a scientist for lack of caring.
YATI : Sisko says of his father, "When my father became ill I can remember how small and weak he looked lying there in the bed. He'd been so strong, so independent. It always seemed to me there was nothing that he couldn't do. But in the end, I realised that there was nothing that he could do, and nothing I could do to help him."

He's talking for all the world here as if his father is dead. Yet, his father will go on to be a significant recurring character in later seasons, still a relatively fit and healthy man. Now technically Sisko doesn't say his father is dead, and he could be talking about a time he got sick and then got better. But it sure doesn't come across that way!

Dr. Pol says "Dear god, what have I done?" when Odo is trapped behind the forcefield. Since he's Bajoran, shouldn't that be something like "Prophets, what have I done?"

Great Moment : Odo turning out to be the "baddie". They really had me sold on the idea that the monolith thing was a shapeshifter in disguise, so kudos for managing to fake me out.
Body Count : Couple of people assaulted, no deaths.
Factoid : The original plan was to have Dr. Mora Pol played by Rene Auberjonois, much as Data played his creator Dr. Soong. The idea was that Odo learned to imitate faces by imitating his creator. The idea was scrapped because the makeup process for Odo was very long, and having to have Rene go through both that and Bajoran makeup would take up too much time to be practical.

This is the last episode directed by David Carson. He would later direct Star Trek : Generations.

In "The Forsaken" Odo told Lwaxana Troi that he modeled his hairstyle after his mentor. This episode confirms this fact.

Dr. Mora suggests that the monolith may be a "relic of Odo's people". In "The Search, Part II" a very similar monolith can be clearly be seen on the Founders' planet.

Plotline

Odo finds Quark in his bar trying to sell pieces of Plegg, a dead Ferengi, in accordance with Ferengi standard practice. Odo points out that Plegg is still alive, ruining his sale. Dr Mora Pol arrives, the scientist who raised Odo - and it is quickly clear that Odo still greatly resents the man.

In his quarters, Sisko is pushing Jake into doing a proper job on his homework (listening to a Klingon opera. Surely this has to count as child abuse on some level?) when Odo arrives with a request for a Runabout. Dr. Mora knows of a Bajoran scientific probe which scanned a planet about six light years from the other end of the wormhole. It picked up some DNA patterns which were quite similar to Odo's, and now he wants to investigate to see if there is some clue to his origins.

A science mission goes to the planet to investigate, finding some ancient ruins which include a stone monolith. They also discover some sort of primitive life-form which seems capable of shapeshifting. They beam both the lifeform and the monolith up, but the disturbance causes some sort of minor earthquake which releases a white gas. Everyone but Odo is incapacitated. He beams everyone up and they return to the station.

Back on the station everyone recovers. Odo wasn't affected as he lacked a respiratory system, Julian says. Analysis of the lifeform shows it to be silicate-based. It's confined in a Level 5 forcefield for safekeeping.

That night, Sisko is woken from sleeping by a hail from Kira. The science lab has been completely wrecked, and the creature is missing. The implication seems to be that it was rather more dangerous than anybody anticipated.

O'Brien heads into the ventilation ducts to search for the creature, since it's one obvious way it may have escaped the lab. He finds it, but it seems to be dead - simply an inert puddle of goo. Later on Bashir is able to study the remains and determine that the Carbon Dioxide level on the station was too low for it to survive. As he works, he hears a noise behind him - and is attacked by a large shapeshifting creature which emerges from an air vent. He manages to escape it and call security as it retreats.

Analysis by Dax shows that the creature on the station is very different from the one they brought back; the two could be "distant cousins" at best. Dr. Mora views her data and recognizes the creature's sample as being from Odo. He confronts Odo with the facts' the creature's attacks have come sixteen hours apart, which matches Odo's regeneration cycle. SO whilst Odo thinks he is asleep regenerating, he is actually up and about "sleepwalking" as the monster.

Deeply upset, Odo suddenly changes form into the creature. Mora retreats and explains the situation to the others, suggesting that exposure to the gas has triggered some change in Odo. Mora volunteers to act as bait, attracting the creature to him and trapping it behind a forcefield. The plan works, and Odo is captured and returns to his normal form.

Bashir is able to purge the gas from Odo's system, ending the transformations. The cause of what happened remains a mystery - there is still no clue as to what the gas was or why it affected Odo the way it did. We are left with a mystery that will never be solved.

Analysis

I quite like this episode, mostly because of the creepy "monster loose on the station" stuff. It's also good to see Odo and his surrogate father. I like the fact that the monster turned out to be Odo, since the idea of a cop who is hunting a monster that turns out to be himself is an interesting one.

That said, the pacing is kind of slow. I could have done with a quicker first act or two, and more time spent trying to defend against and/or hunt the creature. And whilst I like finding out about Odo's past, Mora himself is a little dull.
Copyright Graham Kennedy Page views : 9,377 Last updated : 17 Dec 2016