Necessary Evil (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 2, Episode 8) Odo revisits his first case — an unsolved murder under the Cardassian occupation

Rewatching ST:DS9

On a stormy night on Bajor, a widower in an elegant salon with no electric power offers to pay Quark to retrieve a box from the shop her husband used to keep on Terek Nor (the Cardassian name for what we know as DS9).

Inside the box Quark finds only a list of Bajoran names, and sends Rom to “get me an imager.” A thug appears, steals the list, and shoots Quark.

Sisko and Odo play good cop / bad cop to get the rattled Rom to spill details. When Odo enters the scene of the crime, the cinematography and the decor suddenly change. We are seeing Odo’s flashback, the swaggering Gul Dukat asks a submissive-looking Odo to investigate the proprietor’s murder, on the grounds that the Bajorans are more likely to talk to the outsider Odo than to their Cardassian captors.

Dukat seems especially unctuous to the widow Pallra, who with her husband seems to have unusual privileges among the Bajoran slave-labor population. 

Odo notes that Pallra shows no evidence of having cried recently, and predicts correctly that she will blame the murder on the “other woman.” When Pallra points the suspect out, we recognize a nervous-looking Kira.

Back in the present, Kira casually wonders whether the list found in the old storeroom has anything to do with Vaatrik. Nonverbal acting, camera angles, a music cue, and a “Security Log” update all hint to us that Odo might have new reasons to suspect Kira in this five-year-old case.

Rom fantasizes about inheriting the bar from Quark, who still clings to life. Odo helps him to remember the first name on the list — Ches’so.

Kira tells Odo she doesn’t remember anyone from her brief visit to the station, and that she believes his actions kept her from being executed by the Cardassians. In the flashback, we see Odo’s first meeting with Kira.

I’ve noticed that DS9 is very good about writing two-person scenes that do double or triple duty.

Within the immediate context of the noir flashback, this scene advances Odo’s investigation; but we can also see Odo clearly crushing on Kira (which helps contextualize his present-day solitary grumpiness); the scene develops details about Kira’s character that become important later during the flashback (Odo correctly deduces her alibi is lying); and also gives resistance-era Kira a good speech about taking sides (which contextualizes why she seemed to look guilty in the present). 

Odo visits Pallra on Bajor, noting that her lights are back on; she’s obviously recently gotten some money, which she says was a gift from a married man she’d rather not name. Odo asks her if the name Ches’so means anything to her. Before long, Kira reports a man named Ches’sarro drowned last night. Odo suspects Quark may be in danger, and places a guard in the infirmary.

Flashback-Quark recognizes Odo as the shape-shifter working for Dukat, and offers an alibi for Kira, but Odo gets him to admit he’s lying. Dukat just happens to walk by, and pressures Odo for a name. When Odo stands up to Dukat, both Dukat and Quark are impressed.

In the present, Odo reports he’s assembled the missing list by tracking who Pallra was talking to; each one of them has recently paid her handsomely, presumably for her silence. He suspects they made their money by selling out their fellow Bajorans during the occupation.

In another “Security Log,” Odo speculates that a racial memory from his species values justice, and ponders whether he still believes “There’s no room in justice for loyalty or friendship or love.” 

Flashback-Kira admits that she lied about her alibi.

ODO: You don’t lie well.
KIRA: (Practically shrinking in on herself, almost whispering.) Thanks.

It’s a touching insight into Kira’s vulnerable side, as we see how her time in the resistance is changing her. But it’s also something else — a very clever misdirection, planted by the writers (and mentioned by Odo in the final scene).

Kira gives Odo a new alibi — when Vaatrik was killed, she was sabotaging an ore processor — and Dukat happens to walk by at just that moment. Odo truthfully tells Dukat that he doesn’t believe Kira killed Vaatrik, but doesn’t mention the sabotage.

In the present, the thug who shot Quark shows up in the infirmary to finish the job. He stabs the guard, but for some reason tries to smother Quark with a pillow, apparently so that Rom’s comic shrieking could attract the guards in time.

When Rom realizes he saved Quark’s life — and he won’t inherit his brother’s bar after all — he starts shrieking again. From his sickbed, Quark smiles. 

Odo has arranged to have Pallra delivered to the station, where he arrests her.

PALLRA: You will never be able to prove that I killed my husband because I didn’t.
ODO: I know.

In the final infodump scene, Odo explains his reasoning. Pallra had no cause to kill her husband, because his actions as a collaborator gave her relative luxury. “So who would have killed a Cardassian collaborator? Someone in the Bajoran underground.” 

Kira admits that it was not she who sabotaged the refinery, but one of her colleagues; she was in the shop looking for the list when Vaatrik surprised her.

Kira worries she may have lost a friend’s trust, but in his voiceover log, Odo had actually the word “love.” So this is a significant moment in a relationship that, up to now, seemed to be completely professional, so it looks like a “let’s retool things in the second season” afterthought. It’s still a good episode.