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Broken Link

Production no.: 498
Teleplay by: Robert Hewitt Wolfe & Ira Steven Behr
Story by: George A. Brozak
Directed by: Les Landau
Stardate: 49962.4 
First satellite airdate: June 15, 1996
Salome Jens .................
Robert O'Reilly ............
Jill Jacobson .................
Leslie Bevis .................
Andrew J. Robinson .....
Andrew Hawkes ..........
Female Changeling
Freighter Captain

Odo arrives in the tailor's shop, having been called there by Garak. The constable at first wonders if there's a shoplifter, but instead a Bajoran woman emerges from a fitting room wearing a dress she was trying on. Garak introduces her: she is Chalan Aroya, owner of the Celestial Cafe, a new Bajoran restaurant overlooking the Promenade. The reason Odo was asked here becomes clear: Garak is trying to set him up with this woman, who is obviously quite interested in Odo, and flirtatiously invites him to dine with her. Odo is a bit flustered.

After Aroya leaves, Odo looks accusingly at Garak, who says it was a crime to let her just walk away. "You humanoids," Odo exclaims in disgust. "You're all obsessed with these convoluted mating rituals." Garak is unapologetic. "True. But do you think we'd waste so much time on something that wasn't worthwhile? I'll never understand you. You're such a sensitive man, yet there are so many aspects of humanoid life that you simply refuse to explore." "I have no desire to become a slave to humanoid obsessions," Odo declares, though he reluctantly admits that yes, Aroya is lovely.

As Odo turns to leave, he is suddenly hit by waves of pain. His body loses cohesion for a moment, and then he collapses to the floor. Garak, alarmed, calls for medical assistance.

Bashir examines Odo, who is conscious but weak. His mass and density are in a state of fluctuation. The doctor doesn't yet know what is causing it, nor how to prevent it from happening again, but he doesn't want Odo to leave the infirmary, as moving around seems to increase the fluctuations, which could bring on another attack. Odo will have to stay until either Bashir finds a cure, or the fluctuations stop on their own. "For all I know, this could be a normal biological process, the Changeling equivalent of puberty -- or menopause." "That's an interesting theory, Doctor," Odo says. "One I suggest that you keep to yourself." Bashir smiles. "Don't worry. This could just as easily turn out to be a virus or a bacterial infection." Odo settles back, but he's not a happy camper.

Sisko, Kira, Dax, and Worf listen to a recorded speech by Gowron, who declares that the Klingon empire will not relinquish the Cardassian colonies they have captured. Not only that, but he demands that the Federation abandon the Archanis sector or "prepare to face the consequences". The DS9 officers wonder why Gowron is willing to go to war over a territory the Klingon empire gave up all claim to 100 years ago. Sisko believes that Gowron is simply using it as an excuse for some sabre-rattling. But in any case, war may be inevitable, though there's not much they can do about it, as Archanis is a long way from DS9.

Kira suddenly starts sneezing, and the others take bets on when she'll stop. "I hate being pregnant," she grumbles after the fit finally abates. But there's not much to be done about that, and Bashir's hands are full anyway. The conversation turns to Odo's mysterious illness. Kira was thinking of visiting him, but Worf doesn't think Odo would want to be seen in his current state. "Odo values his privacy. He does not like to socialize." "I think it's all an act," Dax says. "It is not an act," Worf retorts. "He told me so himself." "But you were socializing with him when he said it," she points out. Sisko tells them he wants Odo left alone to rest.

However, Kira does pay Odo a visit, bringing him a PADD with today's criminal activities report. "I figured you might be getting tired of staring at medical consoles all day." "That was very thoughtful of you, Major," Odo tells her, reading the reports like a starving man who's just been given a meal. After she leaves, something on the PADD particularly catches his attention.

A Boslic freighter captain (Quark's friend seen in "The Homecoming" and "The Abandoned") is supervising preparations to leave the station when Odo enters the cargo bay. She feigns ignorance, but Odo is determined to have a talk with her about some missing Falangian diamonds. When she tries to make a break for her ship, Odo moves to intercept, but has another attack, and collapses helplessly into a puddle of goo. The captain makes tracks.

It's obvious that Odo's little excursion has drastically worsened his condition. He's able to regain humanoid form, but it is very unstable and keeps partially liquefying; even the solid bits of him are damp. Bashir is concerned. The destabilization of Odo's molecular structure is increasing at an alarming rate. "How much longer before I totally lose my ability to stay solid?" Odo asks. Bashir doesn't sugarcoat it. "A week. Maybe two. After that, if the destabilization continues..." There's no need to say more.

Bashir tells Odo he has consulted with Dr. Mora, who wants Odo to come back to his laboratory for further tests. Odo refuses; since Bashir has access to Mora's data, he would have found the answer already if it was there. "Doctor, I think we both know where I have to go." "I was hoping it wouldn't come to that," Bashir says. "There doesn't seem to be much choice," Odo replies. "You have to take me back to my people. The only ones who can help me now are the Founders."

Later, Sisko discusses the plan with Kira and Bashir. The Defiant will enter the Gamma Quadrant, begin transmitting a signal explaining their mission, and try to locate the Founders' new homeworld. Kira wants to come along, but can't because of her pregnancy. Everyone else prepares the Defiant while Bashir prepares Odo, who can't be beamed aboard because having his molecules scrambled by the transporter might worsen his condition.

To Sisko's surprise, Garak asks permission to come aboard; Bashir says he must have a good reason, so Sisko has him taken to the mess hall, and goes to meet with him. Garak tells Sisko he would like to come along on the mission, because he has some questions for the Founders, regarding possible Cardassian survivors of the Obsidian Order/Tal Shiar attack on their former homeworld. "Besides, if you do take me along, I think you'll find me quite useful. I'm a man of many talents." "I have no need for a tailor on this mission, let alone a spy," says Sisko. "But maybe there is something you can do for me." He tells Garak that Odo will need someone to be with him. Not to offer kindness or sympathy, which he believes are the last things Odo wants. But a mystery is sure to keep him distracted from his condition, and no one can provide that like Garak. As for Garak's questions for the Founders, Sisko tells him they will have to wait until Odo has gotten the help he needs.

Kira and Bashir carefully escort Odo out of the infirmary, where they are met by Quark. Though Odo is still weak and in great pain, he manages to muster up some energy for their usual rivalry. He tells Quark not to get used to his free rein. "I'll be back before you know it, making your life miserable." "Then you are coming back?" Quark asks, dropping the banter and letting his genuine concern show. "Count on it," Odo tells him, and Quark says, "I will." A crowd has gathered and watches with a mixture of curiosity, concern, respect, and awe as Odo gathers his strength and walks slowly to the airlock, his body wavering and spasming, but his head held high.

The Defiant leaves the station and goes through the wormhole, then starts transmitting its request for assistance. O'Brien mentions how "naked" he feels being in the Gamma Quadrant without the cloaking device on. Sisko and Worf agree, and Dax smiles. "I guess it's just being in the same room with so many naked men." Meanwhile, Garak is spinning his tales for Odo about when he was a gardener on Romulus, during a year when there were several unexplained deaths of Romulan officials for some reason. Odo is appropriately suspicious and intrigued.

Somewhat later, O'Brien is telling a story about his interesting new domestic situation when Dax notes warp signatures headed their way. It's six Jem'Hadar warships. The Dominion wants to send someone over to the Defiant to discuss their request, and against Worf's and O'Brien's better judgment, Sisko decides to let them.

The female Changeling beams directly onto the Defiant's bridge, accompanied by three Jem'Hadar, one of whom seizes O'Brien as he goes for a phaser. But the Founder orders the Jem'Hadar to let him go, saying there is no need for violence. She has come for Odo. "Can you help him?" asks Sisko. "Only the Great Link can help him," she replies. "Leave him with me, and you may return home unharmed." Sisko refuses; the Defiant will be coming along. "Your loyalty to Odo is commendable," the Founder notes, and decides to let the Defiant crew accompany him, though she insists that one of her Jem'Hadar take the helm. The Jem'Hadar does so, putting a device on the navigational computer to prevent it from retaining records of the trip, so that the Founders' new location will stay secret. The female Changeling then requests that she see Odo.

Garak is eager to meet her and fusses a bit about his clothing. But the female Changeling doesn't even glance at him when she appears in sickbay. She only has eyes for Odo, who is a mess. "Poor Odo. Look what's become of you." "Not a pretty sight, am I?" Odo says. The Founder disapproves of his apparent concern over his appearance, but tells him to take her hand. Hesitantly, Odo does, and she Links with him, forcing him to go completely liquid for a moment. When he solidifies again, he becomes a somewhat healthier-looking version of his humanoid form, though he still has to concentrate to hold it. The Founder then announces she wishes to speak to Odo privately, and reluctantly, Bashir and Garak let themselves be led out of the room, along with the Jem'Hadar and the Starfleet guards.

"I wish this meeting were under better circumstances," the Founder tells Odo, who says he's not exactly thrilled with the circumstances himself. "I'd hoped that you'd return to us on your own by now. After all, that Bajoran woman you were so fond of seems to have taken an interest in someone else." She admits readily that the Founders still take an "active interest" in Odo's "well-being". "Are you saying that you knew I was sick, even before we left the station?" Odo asks, and she says, "What do you think?" The picture becomes all too clear to Odo. "I think you did this to me. You caused my illness so that I'd be forced to come home."

"As I said, I wish the circumstances of this meeting were different," she tells him, confirming it by her lack of denial. She seems truly saddened by this turn of events. "You killed a Changeling, Odo." "He was trying to kill my friends," Odo says. "I had no choice." "Of course you had a choice," she replies. "And you chose to side with the solids. To protect them, you were willing to violate the most sacred law of our people." "No changeling has ever harmed another," Odo quotes, understanding what she's talking about. The Founder continues. "Until you. That's why we forced you to return home. To enter into the Great Link, and be judged."

She explains to Odo what this means. He will join the Great Link and allow the Founders to "understand" him so that they can decide if his actions were justified. If they decide no, he will be punished. "You have to understand that nothing like this has ever happened in the entire history of our people. We have never had to sit in judgment over one of our own. That's why we took so long to bring you home. There was disagreement in the Link over what to do with you." "I'm sorry I've caused you so much trouble," Odo says with bitter irony. The Founder looks regretful. "Perhaps we are to blame. We sent you away." "But I'm the one who's going to be punished," he says softly. She tells him that remains to be seen. If he doesn't cooperate, however, the disease will kill him.

The Founder leaves sickbay, letting Bashir go back in, and Garak takes the opportunity to speak with her, asking if there were any survivors of the attack on her homeworld. "There were no Cardassian survivors," she tells him coldly. "You mean, they're all dead?" Garak asks, shocked. She turns on him. "They're dead, you're dead, Cardassia is dead. Your people were doomed the moment they attacked us. I believe that answers your question." Garak controls his fury, and smiles affably. "It was a pleasure meeting you."

Sisko, O'Brien and Worf are discussing options on how to keep track of Odo in the Great Link, reluctant to abandon him to his fate. But Odo, getting shaky again, comes into the mess hall, escorted by Bashir. "I thought you might be trying to help me. And I wanted to say, don't bother." "Odo," O'Brien protests, "surely you don't expect us to just stand by and watch while they do God knows what to you." "That is exactly what I expect," Odo says firmly. "Captain, I want to be judged. I'm the only changeling who's ever harmed another. I've spent most of my life bringing people to justice. Now that it's my turn, how can I run away?"

"Are you sure that's what you'll find in the Great Link? Justice?" Sisko asks, knowing there's no way to dissuade Odo once he's made up his mind to do what he sees as the right thing. O'Brien chimes in that justice seems to be the furthest thing from the Founders' minds. But Odo is adamant. "Nevertheless, they're my people, and I intend to accept their judgment."

The Defiant will be within transporter range of the new Founders' homeworld in less than an hour. The female Changeling tells Sisko that she and Odo will beam down once orbit is achieved. Sisko insists that he and Bashir join them, even though she warns them Odo may be in the Link for days. But she agrees to let them beam down. Finally, they do so, onto an island of rock in the middle of a huge sea of Changelings. "Come, Odo," says the Founder. "It's time." She walks into the sea and melts into it. Odo watches her, and after a moment, smiles back at Sisko and Bashir, as if to reassure them. He descends into the sea to face whatever is to become of him.

Sisko and Bashir settle in to wait. Bashir, bored, nearly tosses a rock into the sea, but is stopped just in time by Sisko. Meanwhile, Worf enters a Jeffries tube and follows it to a junction where Garak is working at a panel. The Cardassian freely admits he was trying to take control of the ship's quantum torpedoes and phasers. "Don't you see? We have an opportunity here. A chance to end the Dominion threat once and for all. We have enough firepower on this ship to turn that planet into a smoking cinder. Personally, I think that would be a very good thing." The prospect of Odo, Sisko, and Bashir dying, not to mention everyone on the Defiant, doesn't faze Garak. "Come now, Mister Worf, you're a Klingon. Don't tell me you'd object to a little genocide in the name of self-defense."

"I am a warrior, not a murderer," declares Worf. Garak relaxes, as if giving in. "What you are is a great disappointment." Then he launches himself at the firing controls. Worf stops him and finally manages to subdue him. "You fight well, for a tailor," he notes.

The Great Link begins to churn, and Sisko and Bashir watch as Odo surfaces briefly. Then Odo is washed ashore, humanoid and naked. He seems weak and unable to speak. Bashir scans him and gets some strange readings. The female Changeling emerges from the Great Link, and announces, "He has been judged." "I'm reading a heart, lungs, and a digestive system," reports Bashir, astonished. "It's as if he were -- human." "We gave him what he wanted," the Founder declares. "We made him a solid. He is one of you now." She kneels beside a silent Odo, taking his hand with an emotion resembling sorrow. "Poor Odo. Perhaps we should have killed you. It would have been far less cruel." Then she stands up to face Sisko. "He is yours. Take him and go." Odo reaches toward her in mute longing as he is beamed up with Sisko and Bashir.

Later, Bashir finishes up a complete medical exam of Odo, and takes a blood sample. It's genuine blood. Odo is now physiologically human. "Except for my face," Odo notes quietly; his face is still the same incomplete mask as before. Bashir admits he was wondering about that. "They left it this way on purpose," Odo tells him. "To make sure I'd never forget what I was. And what I've lost."

The Defiant returns to DS9 without incident. For Odo, though, the journey has just begun. Garak makes him a new uniform, which the Constable finds a bit itchy. He also realizes he's hungry, still an unfamiliar sensation. "You know, I envy you," says Garak. "Think of all the wonderful foods you'll get to enjoy for the first time." "I can hardly wait," Odo grumbles unenthusiastically. Now it's time for him to take Garak to his holding cell; the Cardassian has been sentenced to six months for his attempt to sabotage the Defiant, not to mention assaulting Worf and trying to incite war. "Yes, but my heart was in the right place," Garak says.

Aroya comes up to Odo. "I heard about what happened. I'm so sorry." Awkwardly, Odo thanks her. "I know it won't be easy," she says, "but eventually, you'll see how being a humanoid has its advantages. If there's anything at all I can do, just let me know." She leaves. "What a generous offer," Garak comments, still matchmaking. Odo growls, "Let's go, Garak," and hauls him off.

A bit later, Sisko sees Odo exiting his office with a pained look on his face; the constable admits he has a headache. He tries to explain something of what he's feeling. "Every once in a while I still get flashes of memory from the Great Link. A jumble of images, or a word. But I can't quite make sense of it." Sisko suggests that he doesn't have to go back to work right away.

"Yes, I do," Odo says forcefully. With difficulty, he goes on. "When I joined with the other Changelings in the Great Link, I felt something I've never felt before. In that moment, I knew I was home. For the first time, I felt that I understood my people -- their distrust of the solids, their willingness to do anything to protect themselves. And then, in an instant, it was all snatched away. I'm trapped inside this body. I can never rejoin the Great Link. My job is the only thing I have left." He straightens, in the face of Sisko's look of compassion. "Besides, I'm still the best law enforcement officer on this station." "You're the best law enforcement officer in this sector," Sisko tells him. "Maybe the whole damn quadrant." Odo smiles slightly, appreciating the captain's support. "Maybe," he allows.

Then they see a crowd of people gathered at a monitor, including Kira. Gowron is making a speech, which is coming in on all frequencies. "The Klingon Empire is tired of words, of negotiation, of the endless delaying tactics of the Federation. Therefore as of today, a Klingon task force has been dispatched to the Archanis sector. Starfleet has ten days to abandon their bases and withdraw their forces from the sector."

Odo looks at Gowron with sudden intensity. "Captain, it's him...During the Link, I sensed that the other Changelings were trying to hide things from me -- faces, names. One of them was him." "What are you saying?" asks Kira. Odo watches the monitor in growing horror. "I'm saying that he's one of them. Gowron, the head of the Klingon Empire, is a Changeling."

  • Chalan Aroya was conceived as a possible love interest for Odo during his human period, but the writers decided the character didn't work, so she was dropped.