For a third week, we have what was essentially a solo shot, focusing on one of the cast who hasn’t had any substantial development so far. This week, it’s Odo, the station’s security officer, and to give us some flavour to the character, ‘Necessary Evil’ took the form of an extended flashback, to five years previously, when Bajor was still under Occupation, and the Cardassians ran DS9.
This was neatly engineered by having a Bajoran widow, Mrs Vaatrik (elegantly played by Katharine Moffat) hire Quark for the clandestine recovery of a concealed package, left behind on the station after the late Mr Vaatrik was killed. But Mrs Vaatrik doesn’t trust Quark and sends an assassin to retrieve what turns out to be a list of eight Bajoran names. Obviously, Quark wasn’t just going to retrieve the box and not look in it, and for his inquisitiveness, he got a shot to the chest that took him out of the rest of the episode (don’t worry, he lived).
There was some mildly amusing silliness with Rom, slowly realising that he was about to inherit the Bar, but that was never going to go anywhere: Quark was just the McGuffin, a means to get Odo investigating a crime related to the unsolved Vatric murder.
Back we went, to DS9 five years ago, a dark and dingy place, highlighted by a blue lighting scheme, shot with a slight soft focus that suggested how bad a place this was to be without having to be too overt in its brutality. Odo is nothing but the Shapeshifter, an amusement, a freak, and someone deeply ashamed of the parlour tricks he’s been forced to play to survive.
But Vaatrik , of the chemical shop, has been murdered, and Gul Dukat wants Odo to investigate. Odo’s observant, Bajorans will talk to him where they won’t to the Cardassians, except under torture, and besides, the Cardassian approach will be to gran ten random Bajorans and kill them until someone confesses: Dukat ostensibly prefers something more subtle. That in itself should be a clue.
So Odo questions the unweeping widow Vaatrik , who alleges that her departed spouse was having an affair with a fit young woman newly arrived at the station. I should have been prepared for this, but the best I can claim is to not be surprised when the Bajoran Miss turned out to be Kira Nerys (with her hair worn long, in a pony tail, and looking as fetching as ever.)
It’s the first meeting of this pair, and whilst Odo detects relatively easily that the future-Major is lying, the real reason is not that she killed Vaatrik but rather that she was sabotaging the station. Odo is professing to be neutral, to be interested in Justice only: cold, logical, blind, without friendship or love. But Kira knows that sides must be taken. Odo is working for Gul Dukat, whether he admits it or not, but he will soon have to consciously choose which side he fights for.
And choose he does, under Dukat’s very eyes. Kira is not the killer: she can go.
In the present day, the list turns out to be one of Bajoran collaborators, who suddenly start paying lots of moolah to Mrs V. Odo is able without difficulty to find proof, and wrap everybody up, though Mrs Vaatrik continues to deny killing her husband all those years ago.
It’s then that the only truth left forces itself upon the Constable. If Vaatrik was also a collaborator, then finally a motive for his murder emerges. It would make perfect sense to a member of the Bajoran Underground…
The episode ends on a downbeat, quiet and serious scene. Kira admits to her necessary evil, unplanned but forced upon her. Odo queries why she hasn’t trusted him with the truth before. Kira explains that she has wanted to many times, but was afraid of it damaging their friendship. Can Odo still trust her as he has done until now? The answer, for once unafraid of ambiguity or change, is silence.
I’d like to hope that this moment does not go unrecognised, that it does indeed have after-effects, plays out in succeeding episodes. I’m not holding my breath overmuch. We’re in the wrong era. Maybe it gets referred to in a later series, I don’t know, or maybe I’m tarring DS9 too much with the brush of its time. Let’s see.