A Man Alone (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 1, Episode 4) Crime scene clues implicate Constable Odo; Keiko tries to start a school

Rewatching ST:DS9

After threatening a man who later turns up dead, Constable Odo becomes the prime suspect.

The episode takes its time getting started, with character-driven bits developing Bashir’s one-sided interest in Dax, Sisko’s adjustment to his former mentor Curzon Dax’s new identity as Jadzia Dax, Sisko’s insistence that the Javert-like Odo play within the rules, Quark and Odo’s grumbly familiarity, the beginnings of a friendship between Jake and Nog, and tension between O’Brien and his wife Keiko.

We also meet Rom (Nog’s father and Quark’s brother), but the writers obviously haven’t determined Rom’s personality yet — he seems brutish and narrow-minded, rather than the meek pushover whose big character arc redefines our understanding of Ferengi culture.

While ST:TNG had characters wave their tricorders and infodump whatever info the plot requires, this episode shows Bashir fiddling with equipment, taking samples with what looks like a vacuum cleaner, detaching sample containers, putting something in a dish, transferring a growing thing into a big tank, etc

It’s totally on brand for Bashir to run into the crowd saying he’s got the answer, but I don’t think an angry mob that had already started throwing things would have parted that easily and let Odo attend the suspect-fingering scene.

As I rewatched, I found I remembered more from the B-plot involving Keiko starting a school; I enjoyed the murder-mystery, despite the tricksy sic-fi twist; but I appreciate that the episode focused on character moments instead of technobabble.

Quibbles:

  • In an episode of ST:TNG, Riker and Pulaski vaporize clones of themselves without the slightest hesitation, but in this episode Odo confidently states, “Killing your own clone is still murder.” (Okay, Odo could be quoting a Bajoran law, but earlier in this same episode Sisko made it clear he wanted a constable who played by the Federation’s rules.)
  • A science fiction franchise that often asks us to accept outlandish things (because plot) makes it hard to accept a classic locked-room detective story.
    • Kira asks “Any evidence of a beam in?” Odo simply answers no, and the script expects us to accept that there’s no possible way any form of transporter technology (or multiphasic molecular resonance shifting or cloaking technology or [insert technobabble here]) could have had anything to do with the mystery — despite the fact that whole episodes of TNG have been built around such gimmicks.
    • Nobody even bothers to think about the holographic massage attendant (we saw the killer shove her aside just before doing the deed). Could someone have operated the holo-character remotely, committing the murder through an avatar? Could a holographic AI give admissible testimony? (The episode doesn’t ask such questions.)