Star Trek 396: The Begotten

396. The Begotten

FORMULA: The Alternate + The Abandoned + The Offspring - Broken Link

WHY WE LIKE IT: Some sweet moments.

WHY WE DON'T: Too much guilt tripping.

REVIEW: A new-found changeling infant becomes an excuse to compare and contrast parenting styles between Odo and Dr. Mora, as well as make the former come to terms with his upbringing. Maybe Dr. Mora wasn't that bad? Here I thought there'd already been a reconciliation in The Alternate, but I suppose this experience reopens a lot of old wounds. Odo is determined not to treat his "child" the way he was, while Mora advises "sparing the rod". There's some interesting stuff about Odo's early days here, but it seems like each time Mora makes a point about parenting, it turns into a massive guilt trip.

Of course, Starfleet has to get involved (being their mouthpiece isn't a great role for Sisko), and they become the new Cardassians, putting as much pressure on Odo as was on Dr. Mora. Odo comes to a new understanding, but the changeling has also had time to make a connection with Odo, so the results are a lot more impressive. Cue love fest. I was wrong. No, I was wrong. No, I was... And so on. It does have its sweet moments, the "teaching montage" being particularly effective, for example. Odo gets a new lease on life after half a year of whining.

And then it all comes crashing down. As the infant changeling dies, it is absorbed into Odo's body. Might we be led to think that part of the connection between it and Odo was due to some kind of link-like effect in the first place? Somehow, the process reestablishes Odo's shapeshifting abilities, and so, after only half a season, Odo's "back". It's a beautiful moment when he turns into a hawk and soars through the Promenade. Could have lasted even longer, I thought.

As one child dies, another is born. The subplot concerns Kira's delivery of the O'Briens' baby. It's used as a comic counterpoint to the main plot, with both O'Brien and Shakaar (ah, there he is) acting like competitive teenage boys and getting thrown out of the delivery room. However, Kira's post-partem depression brings us back to reality. The surrogate mother has, after all, bonded with the baby, and handing it over hurts her. And is it just me, or does that final scene between Kira and Shakaar look like they're breaking up? I can't say I'm sorry to see him go.

LESSON: The best parenting policy is all parenting policies.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: Somewhat slow and with a muddled message, The Begotten nonetheless has its heart in the right place and significantly undoes a few alterations to the status quo in one feel swoop.


De said...

I was a bit miffed when Odo's abilities returned. The ramifications of his "solid" body were not explored nearly enough.

Siskoid said...

I agree, actually. Doesn't it almost seem like A Simple Investigation was written for a human Odo?

Perhaps James Sloyan's availability had something to do with it, or plans for the Dominion War arc (in particular what happens to Odo early Season 6) moved up his return as a shifter.

Anonymous said...

And this is generally where First Contact fits in, right, with Worf having decided he'd rather fight the Borg than risk having to deliver another baby...

Siskoid said...

Stardates say no, but other onscreen evidence says yes!

Works for me at any rate. :D

Anonymous said...

Great review of this episode. While I agree with almost all you wrote, I disagree on the rating. This episode deserves higher than a medium.

BTW, love your lesson, but, as a parent, would rewrite it as:

The best parenting policy is keeping your options open.

keep up the awesome work

Siskoid said...

How many are you up to now Doc?

Andrew Gilbertson said...

I found this one surprisingly moving; a commentary, I thought, on how we all see the 'mistakes' our parents made and vow to improve on them with our kids (while remaining entirely unaware of our own blind spots and failongs, until our kids have kids of their own...)


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