Sunday, February 13, 2011

2-8. Necessary Evil

Odo begins his first investigation.


Quark is called upon by Pallra (Katherine Moffat), an old Bajoran associate. Pallra's husband was murdered in his chemist's shop on the station during the Occupation, and she now wants Quark to retrieve something that was hidden inside the shop's walls. Quark does so.  But when he makes the mistake of looking at the goods, a list of eight Bajoran names, an assassin hired by Pallra steps out of the shadows and shoots him.

As Dr. Bashir works to try to save the Ferengi, Odo investigates the shooting. When Rom shows him the shop he and Quark had broken into, he realizes that this is all linked to his very first case as an investigator, long ago. This prompts him to remember that case, in which he first met Gul Dukat, Quark, and Kira, and in which he became the constable of Deep Space 9.  Or as it was known under the Cardassians, Terok Nor...


Commander Sisko: Plays "good cop" to Odo's "bad cop" to get Rom to divulge the truth about the list he and Quark stole from the chemist's shop. Beyond that, this is Odo's show, with Sisko barely present.

Major Kira: In flashback, we see a younger Kira pushing Odo to choose sides, insisting that he cannot remain neutral in the Bajoran/Cardassian conflict. She was the first person ever to refer to Odo as "Constable," a nickname which apparently stuck, when she thanked Odo for calling her a bad liar. In the present, Odo's friendship has come to be something Kira values greatly. She is with him in his investigation throughout, offering several key pieces of information to him.

Odo: In the past, he insisted to Kira that he would never take sides. His neutrality was among his defining characteristics, and that does not appear to have changed in the present. He did let Kira go, rather than divulge her membership in the Bajoran Underground. But he justified that by saying, quite honestly, to Gul Dukat that he was convinced of her innocence in the murder of the Bajoran merchant. Gul Dukat picked him for this job for reasons that Odo only finally understands in the present, when the discovery of the nature of the list sees all the pieces finally falling into place - even ones Odo would probably as soon have seen left out of place.

Gul Dukat: That Dukat ultimately retained Odo in the position of constable, despite Odo failing to close the case, raises an interesting question: Why? There's no real sense in the flasbacks that Dukat actually needed an outside constable. As Kira pointed out, the Cardassians had ways of getting information from Bajorans. Was Dukat actively attempting to limit casualties, by enlisting a neutral but fair-minded outsider to get information he would otherwise have obtained through torture and executions? Dukat has never struck me as anything other than a rather one-note baddie up to this point. With this episode, I'm now actively interested in learning a bit more about some of his motivations, both in the present and the past.

Quark: Gets quite a bit of character material packed into the first 10 minutes. There is something very charming about Quark's interactions with Pallra in the teaser. He may be a weasel, but he's no simple coward. When the Bajoran assassin steps out of the shadows to kill him, he faces the man down calmly, with a certain dignity. In flashback, we see how he got off on the wrong foot with Odo - but also how he developed an interest in the constable, and in finding something, anything to tempt him.


Necessary Evil is an excellent episode all-around, the best single-part episode the series has offered since Duet. Peter Allen Fields' script is effective in moving between two time periods.  The story gives us greater insight into Odo in particular, but also allows us to see some hints about Kira's background and even Quark's. It's quite interesting to have a look at the station under Cardassian rule. I wouldn't mind more episodes flashing back to the Occupation, rather than simply referencing it. I'm sure Odo, Kira, and Quark all have some interesting stories from that period - not to mention recurring characters such as Winn, Dukat, and Garak.

This is a particularly well-made episode. The starker lighting differentiates the flashbacks from the current story, and some simple but well-judged production design decisions make the station in the flashbacks look like a colder, harsher place to be. More might have been made of some of the transitions - for instance, more direct cuts of Odo/Kira in one setting to them in the exact same setting, five years earlier. But it's still well-done, and visually the contrast between the station now and the station during the Occupation is highly evident.

A lot of an episode or movie's strength lies in the final impression it leaves in the audience.  This episode soars with one of the best endings of the series to date. I like that Kira's final question goes unanswered by Odo.  Rene Auberjonois and Nana Visitor are superb in every scene, as has become expected by this point.

Overall Rating: 10/10.

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