Star Trek 339: The Abandonned

339. The Abandoned

FORMULA: I, Borg + The Jem'Hadar + The Alternate

WHY WE LIKE IT: Getting to know Jake a little better.

WHY WE DON'T: The Jem'Hadar on the other hand, turn out to be pretty unredeemable.

REVIEW: If this episode has a theme, it's that they grow up too fast. The A-plot finally gives us more information on Jem'Hadar, how they are engineered, bred and programmed, and what their psychology is. We also learn about ketracel-white, though we don't have a name for it. However, it does little to take away from one-dimensionality. They are killing machines, and that's all they want to be. So it's really an Odo story and how he responds to the young Jem'Hadar. For one thing, he feels responsible for his people's misdeeds, and there's also the matter of not wanting to see another being put through the laboratory wringer he was put through. The one thing Odo didn't really count on is that the Jem'Hadar would WANT to be exactly what the Founders bred him to be. In the end, the show is making a statement: Our heroes are about to kill a lot of Jem'Hadar. You don't have to be sorry about that, and there's nothing morally ambiguous about it. These are soulless meat robots, cannon fodder, and nothing more. This is regrettable for now, but will be addressed eventually.

On a character level, the episode is more important for giving Odo some quarters, and abandoning the bucket. That sweet scene with Kira bringing a housewarming present (a plant now potted in said bucket) is a good introduction to it. You can't tell me she doesn't also have feelings for Odo here, though an affection that translates into a strong friendship rather than anything sexual. She doesn't see Odo as that kind of being, but if he were Bajoran or human or whatever, I bet they'd have hooked up long ago.

Speaking of hooking up, the B-plot about Jake taking a dabo girl to meet dad is also quite relevant. Not only does it deepen the Siskos' relationship, but also the Sisko-O'Brien bond. The two are always talking about fatherhood together, which makes perfect sense. Jake taking a dabo girl home is only really a pretext for uncovering hidden depths to his character. A love of writing is first underscored here, and that'll become very important later. Plus, who can't help but chuckle when Marta starts revealing all of Jake's secrets?

LESSON: If you give someone a choice, you have to be prepared for them to make the wrong one. Usually at election time.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: It's regrettable that the Jem'Hadar aren't given more depth, but Odo's journey - and Jake's! - are worth the look.


Matthew Turnage said...

While The Abandoned doesn't give us much depth on the Jem'Hadar, I think it does provide more depth for the Founders, by telling us they are the kind of beings who genetically engineer total killing machines. It also provides depth for Odo by deepening the schism between him and his people. For that reason, the episode's treatment of the Jem'Hadar really works for me.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit that I also appreciated that the Jem'Hadar were not just humans in makeup, waiting to be coaxed into the warm hug that is the Federation. It makes them feel, ironically, less simple than the Vulcans or Betazoids or other monocultures and more genuinely alien.

LiamKav said...

I agree. It made this episode a nice counterpoint to "I, Borg". DS9 was quite good at taking a TNG plot and turning it on its ear. "Hard Time" is another good example of that.


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