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16 April 2012 @ 09:50 pm
Galen Reviews Anything: ST:DS9 Season 5, Episode 12. The Begotten  
This episode could be subtitled 'Condoning Child Abuse'.

And no, I'm not joking.


There are 2 stories in this episode. The first is Kira gives birth to the 2nd O'Brien child and primarily deals with Miles and the First Minister (Kira's SO) bickering. In this, the boys bicker and fight for dominance in a stupid pathetic-alpha-male men-can't-handle-childbirth. It is a poor excuse for a B-story line, but it happens. This isn't horrific in any aspect other than the writing. And the acting isn't good. Alright, it is almost amusing in watching actors wreck their careers.

The other story arc is the problem. There will be spoilers and this might trigger.

At this point in the story arc, Odo has lost his ability to shape change. Odo purchases a baby changling from Quark, although how Quark found it is unclear. And unimportant. Odo decides that he wants to raise the changling, and do so in a way that was kinder than was done to him.

So far, so good. Right? Well, not good but acceptable. The final scene of the episode is telegraphed from the teaser, the plot line is obvious, and the writers and director are reminding us that while DS9 might be the 'best' of the ST television franchise, it still can produce something on par with Spock's Brain.

Odo's de-facto parent-slash-the scientist who experimented upon him, Dr Mora, hears about the baby changling and comes to help. The episode proceeds to go to hell from there -- Odo attempts to assert parental rights to prevent someone whom he sees as an abuser from his 'child' and is overruled by Sisco (who may or may not have an inkling as to the abuse; Odo does nothing to provide Sisco more context). Then Odo attempts to teach the changling (which looks like orange marmalade to me, but what do I know?) in a friendly and positive manner. To no measurable success. Dr Mora comments on this specifically, that after over a week, Odo has had less progress than Dr Mora did with Odo after three days.

Then, several predictable events happen. Dr Mora expresses his shock and sorrow that the child, for whom he had done so much, is angry at him and that Dr Mora's methods were not only well intentioned (which is possible, albeit not certain) but also to Odo's benefit. Dr Mora also convinces Odo to capitulate and use some of the methods that Odo believes scarred his 'youth'. Dr Mora's argument includes an invocation of "Spare the rode, Spoil the Child," verbatim.

Odo then accepts the use of Dr Mora's methods, but attempts to avoid becoming the abuser-in-fact, rather than abuser-by-proxy. Dr Mora forces Odo to do onto the new changling what Dr Mora did to him.

And the changling shows sudden, spontaneous, and significant progress.

And then eponis and I stopped watching, fast-forwarding for long term plot elements.

(The episode ends with the young changling dying do to radiation exposure prior to being a plot element, but gifting Odo with the return of his shape changing abilities. Wooo. Did I mention telegraphed?)



Seriously, what the hell.

I remember feeling ill when seeing this episode in 1997. Today? It hasn't improved with age. How has there not been an statement acknowledging the issues with this episode by Paramount, the director, the producer, or others is beyond me. How this got filmed and aired without someone in the production commenting on the issues is problematic. That there are not more posts on the internet complaining about this episode depresses me.
Sinope: Will not play alongeponis on April 17th, 2012 01:54 am (UTC)
You left out the part about the ending, where Odo bids Dr. Mora a fond farewell and wants to stay in touch, because now he totally understands why his own abuse was okay.

I think it's also worth drawing out specifically that this kind of treatment -- using electric shocks on children because they're not "developing fast enough" -- is precisely what still takes place in some parts of the country to children with disabilities.

I also want to quote what I just said on Twitter:
"The one good thing it does, I guess, is work as a counterexample to the liberal (and frequent Trek) fallacy that if A and B disagree, the best solution will involve respecting and integrating both of their beliefs. Sometimes A is just wrong."