An interesting, if at first a little unfocused episode that made good use of the continuing issue of the Dominion, hovering in the background, but which went on to raise some serious questions as to the age-old question of nature versus nurture, and the Tolkienian problem of the Nature of Evil.
Things started unpropitiously with the usual kind of jokey open: one of Quark’s contacts blows on his earlobes and sells him a wrecked ship for only three bars of latinum, Jake’s Dabo girl girlfriend, Mardah, springs on him the surprise that Sisko has invited her to dinner the next night.
That’s the sub-plot, and it stays wholly unrelated to the main story so I’ll get back to it later on. The main story is that, when Quark inspects his purchase, he hears a baby wailing. Yes, he’s been suckered.
The ickle babby arouses Sisko’s paternal instincts again but is no run-of-the-mill, hidden-in-a-stasis-chamber, abandoned baby. Within hours, he’s grown to the age of eight, thanks to some quite sophisticated genetic-modifying that has Doctor Bashir practically drooling, but it’s not until he’s fully-grown, a couple of hours later, that the problem starts: he’s a Jem’Hadar.
Starfleet jumps at the chance of studying one of these lethal beasties, but Odo – who’s redesigned his quarters in quite spectacular fashion to enable him to stretch his shapeshifting abilities and relinquish his bucket – wants to take him under his wing. As a Shapeshifter, he feels responsible, via his people, for the lad, plus he knows full well what it’s like to be a laboratory specimen. Sisko is doubtful (the Major is more doubtful and louder about it) but agrees to contrive time for this.
Odo is out to divert his charge’s natural aggression away from fighting, killing and obeying, to teach him to respect all as equals, to control himself. It’s an uphill struggle to begin with: it is plain that the Jem’Hadar, like the Orcs, are a bred race, and with no better intentions.
Of course Odo gets a ridiculously short time in which to try to overcome the effects of all that breeding, and the moment he allows the kid to relieve his aggression in the holosuite, against computer simulations, the point is lost. The boy escapes at gunpoint, fully embracing the heritage forced on him. As we might have expected, the series only raises the question, but whilst it took things into deep water, the show was far too quick to declare a side. Odo never stood a chance because he was never going to be allowed to win.
The subplot was much lighter, enough to be virtually insubstantial. Mardah leans across the dabo wheel, displaying a cleavage that fifties film starlets would have killed to possess, but wears a plain high-necked top in Sisko’s qurters. He’s intent on breaking the relationship up: I mean, Jake’s a sixteen-year old schoolboy and if Mardah’s only twenty, that’s just the calendar talking (actress Jill Sayre, a very fetching young lady indeed, was only 19 when this episode was made, but she has the smile-lines of a thirty-year old).
But Mardah shows Sisko that he doesn’t know Jake at all, his poetry-writing, his card-hustling, so Sisko lets things develop.
See, told you it was slight.