|Odo falls in love.|
Odo is intrigued by a new arrival: Arissa (Dey Young), a woman from Finnea Prime who is on the station to collect a data crystal from Idanian Tauvid Rem (Brant Cotton). She claims that she hired Rem to find her daughter, whom she gave up at birth and now wishes to connect with. Odo lets her go... then follows her as she attempts to hack a station computer.
She finally confesses that she is on the run from Draim, a member of the Orion Syndicate. She worked for Draim, hacking into security systems to get information on various figures for him. Tauvid Rem's data crystal supposedly has information that will buy her freedom from the Syndicate. But Rem is dead, killed by assassins sent by Draim, and Arissa will certainly be next on the hit list.
Odo offers his personal protection, but his efforts are complicated by emotional involvement: The more time he spends with Arissa, the more certain he is that he has fallen for her...
Capt. Sisko: Gets an amusing moment when he walks in on Dax and Kira, gossiping about Odo having "spent a night with a woman!" He grins and says, very emphatically, "That's nice!" The line itself is a complete throwaway, but Avery Brooks' delivery and emphasis makes it hilarious.
Odo: Is intrigued by Arissa from their first encounter, when she makes a comment about his "bedroom eyes." Though it's official business that brings them together for their second and third meetings, it's very obvious to all that Odo is delighted to spend more time with her. When she finally does tell her story, Odo offers to help her without question - Not because he's smitten (though he is), but because he can relate. He has also done things he was ashamed of, and he admires her having the courage to try to break away from the Orion Syndicate. He recalls the mingling of bodies with another shapeshifter in erotic terms, and once they have become lovers he uses his shapeshifting abilities to share something of the experience with Arissa.
Hot Space Babe of the Week: Arissa (Dey Young) is a reasonable choice to be the object of Odo's affections. She's shown to be quick-witted, but vulnerable enough to give him someone to protect. Young does a capable job of showing the nervousness underneath her character's banter even before Arissa reveals her Syndicate connections to Odo. She and Rene Auberjonois play well opposite each other, which helps the episode over some of its bumps. Even so, I confess to being quite happy that this is her only appearance.
Something wonderful happens around the fringes of this episode's main plot. Bashir, O'Brien, and Dax engage in a holo-program that's a follow-up to Our Man Bashir. It's probably the perfect type of sequel to that episode, in that we barely see the new program. We see that Bashir is still enjoying his alter ego, and we catch a few glimpses of the action (O'Brien, as Falcon, pulling a gun on him at an inopportune moment is particularly funny), but there's no more than that. This allows Our Man Bashir to retain its uniqueness, and allows the couple of scenes referencing it to be funny without repeating or undermining the earlier episode.
I only wish the main story was as successful. A Simple Investigation isn't bad, and as with most Odo episodes, it gets a tremendous lift from Rene Auberjonois' performance. The romance between Odo and Arissa is more convincing than most one-shot Trek romances, and I enjoyed both the awkwardness of Odo approaching her and the playfulness we glimpse after she reciprocates.
But while the romance more or less works, the mystery plot surrounding it doesn't. It's slow, thinly-plotted, and in dire need of a twist or two. A little past the midpoint, this plot actually grinds to a halt, requiring Arissa to do something phenomenally stupid in order to restart it. There is also no explanation provided as to how Odo finds the villains in the nick of time. One moment, he's lost track of them; the next, he's right above them preparing to unleash Changeling Hell. In an episode as slow as this, I have difficulty believing there wasn't time for a quick transition.
I will say there are some delightful character touches in the other regulars' brief appearances. Bashir gives Odo some genuinely pretty good advice about approaching women. Dax is delighted to have something to gossip about, while Worf finds her gossiping to be in poor taste. Kira's reaction to Odo's night with Arissa is particularly interesting. Despite having encouraged him early in the episode, she seems bewildered and not entirely pleased when something actually does happen.
In the end, this is a mixed episode. The side stuff is great: at least one good character moment for just about everyone and a very funny not-quite-"B" plot following up on Our Man Bashir. But the "A" plot is slow and predictable, and while Auberjonois and Young make a far more believable screen couple than is seen in most one-shot Trek romances, I couldn't help but find it the tiniest bit... well, dull.
Overall Rating: 5/10.
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