(written from a Production point of view)
|DS9, Episode 7x14|
Production number: 40510-564
First aired: 17 February 1999
|←||162nd of 173 produced in DS9||→|
|←||162nd of 173 released in DS9||→|
|←||557th of 728 released in all||→|
| Written By|
Odo meets another of the hundred Changelings who were sent out to explore the galaxy.
Shortly thereafter, a Changeling oozes out of a vent in the cockpit. It seems the Changeling sensed Odo's presence and came to investigate. While Miles believes the Changeling to be a Founder, Odo realizes he like Odo is one of "the 100", Changelings the Founders sent out to learn about the Milky Way Galaxy. Nonetheless, the Changeling (who does not trust "monoforms") allows himself to be taken into custody so long as Odo vouches for his safety.
They return to Deep Space 9, where Dr. Bashir confirms that the Changeling's morphogenic matrix is as stable as Odo's rather than infected with the morphogenic virus that has infected the Founders' Great Link. Perhaps against Captain Sisko's better judgment, the Changeling is released into Odo's custody.
As the Changeling, Laas, walks along the Promenade with Odo, he tells of how he was discovered over 200 years prior, alone, as was Odo at first. He too "grew up" around humanoids, but now he does not trust them. Although Odo and Laas agree that the Founders' war with the Federation is wrong, Laas simply wishes to avoid humanoids altogether. When they get to Odo's quarters and Laas sees a picture of Kira, he tells of how he once had a Varalan mate, but having children was important to her and they ended their relationship. Then Odo links with Laas, allowing the other Changeling to experience the sensation for the first time. However, during the link Odo betrays his true feelings; were he not in love with Kira, he would have returned to the Great Link and become a Founder.
The next day, Kira finds Odo in the security office and is excited to hear about the Changeling, but Odo is still troubled by Laas' revelation. He is awkward in discussing the matter but does reveal that he linked with Laas. In any case, Kira expresses interest in meeting Laas, so they decide to meet up in Quark's.
Kira now sits with Bashir, O'Brien, and Ezri as they await Odo and Laas' arrival. Unfortunately, Laas' seems to thwart attempts at starting friendly conversation; he seems to think himself somehow superior to "monoforms" and openly expresses his dislike for humanoids as he describes how Varalans are as disruptive to the balance of nature as any other civilization. A comment about not trusting monoforms hits a sour note with O'Brien, who does not trust Changelings beside Odo. In Laas' eyes, O'Brien only trusts Odo because he has convinced him that Odo is a monoform himself. After an awkward silence, Odo graciously leaves with Laas.
Back on the Promenade, Laas tries to get Odo to link with him in an attempt to prove how much Odo is embarrassed of his true nature. In Laas' eyes, Odo's desire to shapeshift only in private is evidence of how intolerant the creatures around them are. He proposes that he and Odo search for others of "the hundred" and form a new link, away from the Founders and their war. The idea obviously appeals to Odo.
In Kira's quarters, Odo tells her about Laas' idea and she begins to worry about his happiness. After all, linking allows one to know a person much more intimately than talking. She fears Laas knows something she does not. She expresses that she is sorry that she can't link with him, but Odo reassures her that it doesn't matter, that he loves her more than anything and has no desire to leave.
He returns to his quarters to find a fire – no, Laas – in the middle of the room. Laas promises to show Odo magnificent things, the likes of which he has never dreamed, but Odo intends to stay on DS9. Rather than leave, he believes Laas might like to stay as well, which Laas does "as a favor" to Odo.
The next day, Bashir and O'Brien arrive on the Promenade to discover a thick layer of fog is covering the ground which leads them to believe that the environmental controls are acting up. Before O'Brien can leave to check the controls, Odo reassures them that everything is fine; the fog is actually Laas, who is relaxing. When they express displeasure, Odo's attitude is markedly different from before as he sees nothing wrong with Laas' actions. The other Changeling changes back to his normal state, but he has gained the attention of a pair of Klingon officers. One comes at Laas with a knife, but it goes through him and he uses his shapeshifting nature to create a long sword for himself. He proceeds to kill the other Klingon before the man can draw his own weapon.
Captain Sisko, Odo, and Worf meet in the captain's office to discuss the matter. In an unusual gesture, the Klingon Empire is pursuing diplomatic avenues to extradite Laas to their jurisdiction in order to prosecute him for killing one of their soldiers. There appears to be no motive for doing so (it is normally not an honorable thing to do) other than Laas' status as a Changeling. The matter is out of Sisko's hands until the magistrate can rule on it.
Thinking that Odo would rather travel with Laas, Kira frees him from his cell and gives him a way to escape the station. She claims that Laas used his shape-shifting abilities to escape, but privately reveals to Odo that she released him and that he is waiting for Odo on Koralis III.
When Odo arrives at Koralis III, he tells Laas that he has chosen to stay with Kira and that Laas' perspective on the 'solids' is wrong. Returning to Deep Space Nine, he goes to Kira, and transforms to an intense light completely surrounding her while she revels in the experience feeling closer to her lover than ever.
"You've given up a great deal to remain here."
"Yes I have...But I won't have anything to do with the Founders and their war."
"Odo, we linked. I know the truth - you stayed here because of Kira. If it weren't for her, you would be with our people - war or no war, you would be a Founder!"
- - Laas and Odo
"Of course you trust Odo. Look at him. You've convinced him that he is as limited as you are."
"You've seen through our evil plan."
"Oops, foiled again."
- - Laas, Odo, Ezri and Bashir
"Watch your step, Odo. We're at war with your people. This is no time for a 'Changeling Pride' demonstration on the promenade."
- - Quark
"What's he [Laas] doing?"
"Being fog. What does it look like?"
"Well, can't he 'be fog' somewhere else?"
- - O'Brien and Odo
"They tolerate you, Odo, because you emulate them. What higher flattery is there? 'I, who can be anything, choose to be like you'?"
- - Laas
"The truth is, I prefer the so-called primitive lifeforms. They exist as they were meant to, by following their instincts. No words to get in the way, no lies, no deceptions."
- - Laas
"This is just a form I borrowed. I could just as easily be someone or something else."
"I know that. But this is what you have always chosen to be: a man, a good and honest man, a man I fell in love with. Are you trying to tell me he never existed?"
"I don't know. I care for you more than anyone I've ever known. These last few months have been the happiest of my life. But, even so, part of me wishes Laas and I were out there right now, searching for the others. Existing as Changelings. Because that's what I am."
- - Odo and Kira
- - Laas
"Don't be a fool. What are you holding on to? Even she [Kira] knows this is what's best for you. Why else would she have helped me escape?"
"You really don't know, do you? You've no idea what it means to love someone enough to let them go."
"She let you go so that you could find out where you belong."
"I know where I belong."
- - Laas and Odo
"You've done many things, been many things, but you've never known love."
"Compared to the Link, it is a pale shadow. A feeble attempt to compensate for the isolation that monoforms feel because they are trapped within themselves."
"Perhaps the fact that it's not easy is what makes it worthwhile"
- - Odo and Laas
Story and script
- This episode originated in the writers' desire to indicate to viewers, before they got into the final ten-hour, nine-episode arc, that Odo was deeply conflicted about his attitude to the Founders, and that despite all they'd done, he still wished to be with them a great deal. René Echevarria felt that Odo's decision to return to the Great Link in "What You Leave Behind" would only make sense to viewers, if viewers understood that Odo's conception of his people has changed. As Echevarria explains, "It was our sense that because all of the Changelings we'd seen were evil, that it was easy for Odo to say he didn't want to be involved with his people, because they were all bad guys. So it was never a fair choice for Odo. He'd never really faced his own nature. That was the spark: 'What if he meets a Changeling who's had no contact with the Founders? That would throw his life into turmoil'." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Echevarria's original version of the story was very different from the finished episode; under the influence of Laas, Odo decides that humanoids are all racists and species-ists, and he decides to leave with Laas and go in search of the one hundred infant Changelings. In a last ditch attempt to get Odo to stay, Sisko comes to see him, and he admits that Odo is right, that all humanoids are racists, and they do fear that which is different, but that it's just the way it is, it's the way humanoids are, and it can't ever change. So impressed is Odo by Sisko's honesty that he decides to stay. Of this version of the story, Echevarria comments, "It was preposterous." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion) It seems likely, nevertheless, that some of Sisko's dialog about what is inherent in Humanity may have ended up in Quark's speech about genes.
- René Echevarria had originally composed the scene where Odo envelops Kira for the fifth season episode "A Simple Investigation", and it was to involve Odo and Arissa. It was abandoned at the time because Ira Steven Behr felt it was important for Odo to make love as a solid. When writing "Chimera", Echevarria was glad that the scene was dropped from the earlier episode, as he felt it carried a great deal more significance in this episode than it would have done in that one; "The scene was just magical. It moved their relationship to a new level, with him trying to be human like her, and her meeting him halfway. You can see on her face that she is experiencing something special." Special effects supervisor David Stipes calls the scene, "a visual expression of love." Rene Auberjonois was on-set when Nana Visitor was filming it, and afterwards, he approached her and said, "God, you make me look like such a great lover!" (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- J.G. Hertzler normally portrayed General Martok on the show, although he had also previously appeared in the pilot episode, "Emissary", as "Saratoga Captain", under the name "John Noah Hertzler". For the role of Laas, he was credited as "Garman Hertzler". Hertzler's real name is in fact John Garman Hertzler, but he dislikes the name John. Taking a cue from his friend J.T. Walsh, Hertzler decided to start going by his initials, J.G. But when shooting "Emissary", he hadn't hit on this solution yet, so he called himself John Noah (his own name, and his grandfather's name). Amusingly, during production of this episode, Hertzler himself started a rumor that Garman was his reclusive brother from New York (something which some fans still think is true, and which some websites continue to claim ).
- The reason the producers cast a recurring actor in the role of Laas was because they wanted someone who could stand up to Rene Auberjonois, and who could pull off what is an extremely complex character. They held auditions for the role, but they found no-one in whom they were even mildly interested. Frustrated, they began to consider the possibility to giving the role to a familiar face. Initially, Ira Behr thought about offering it to Jeffrey Combs, but he was already playing two recurring characters at the time. Next they considered Andrew J. Robinson, but it was decided that his voice was unmistakable, and fans knew Garak too well and were too protective of the character to approve of Robinson playing somebody else. The producers finally decided on Hertzler. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Hertzler has said that he partially based Laas' distinctive way of speaking on William Shatner: "I wanted to find a way to keep this character sort of annoyingly judgmental, because of his politics. He felt that these humanoids were so far beneath him that it was like talking to dogs. His pro-environmentalist point of view, feeling that humanoids ruin things, seemed like almost a passionate adherence to the Prime Directive. And that reminded me of James Kirk. William Shatner has a theatrical way of delivering lines by taking breathing pauses and holding onto the ends of words. I thought, 'That would work for Laas.' So that's where the voice came from. It's me doing my best imitation of Laas doing William Shatner doing Kirk!" (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- The title of the episode is a reference from Greek mythology. The Chimera was the daughter of Typhon and Echidna, and sister to Cerberus and the Hydra. Legend says that she had three heads; the head of a lion, the head of a dragon, and the head of a goat (which could breathe fire). Obviously, the relevance for the episode is to be found in Laas's ability to be anything; similarly, Chimera was no one thing. Interestingly, Chimera was ultimately slain by Bellerophon, riding on the winged horse Pegasus. The very next episode that went into production after "Chimera", "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges", features the USS Bellerophon.
- Given the fact that Odo was actually infected with the morphogenic virus (though he believed himself not to be at the time), it is likely that he spread the virus to Laas when they linked. This issue was something of which the writers were aware, and something they guessed fans might question. According to Ira Behr they seriously toyed with the idea of bringing Laas back into an episode or two of the ten-hour, nine-episode arc so as to deal with his infection, but it proved to be impossible, and his whereabouts have become one of the great unanswered questions of the series, such as what happened to Thomas Riker. This issue was addressed in the DS9 Relaunch novels, wherein Laas has joined the founders in the Gamma Quadrant, and in so doing is cured.
- This is the second of two times after the discovery of the Dominion that Odo is referred to as a "shapeshifter" instead of a Changeling, following Damar's use in "Treachery, Faith and the Great River". Odo asks Laas "You've never met another shapeshifter?"
- When Odo is explaining to Laas what linking is like he says that it is about sharing "thought and form, idea and sensation." This is exact same phrase used by the Female Changeling when she is explaining it to him in "Behind the Lines".
- Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko) does not appear in this episode.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 7.7, 5 July 1999.
- As part of the DS9 Season 7 DVD collection.
Links and references
- Rene Auberjonois as Odo
- Nicole de Boer as Counselor Ezri Dax
- Michael Dorn as Lieutenant Commander Worf
- Colm Meaney as Chief Miles O'Brien
- Armin Shimerman as Quark
- Alexander Siddig as Doctor Julian Bashir
- Nana Visitor as Colonel Kira Nerys
- Sam Alejan as a science division officer
- Michael Bailous as a Bajoran security deputy
- Uriah Carr as a civilian
- Kathleen Demor as a security officer
- David B. Levinson as Broik
- Dennis Madalone as a Klingon officer
- Angus McClellan as an operations division ensign
- Dan McGee as an operations division lieutenant
- Mark Newsom as a Bajoran officer
- Mark Allen Shepherd as Morn
- Todd Slayton as an operations division officer
- Susie Stillwell as a Bajoran security deputy
- Unknown performers as
2170s; 2340s; airlock; Bajoran system; biped; city; containment field; Corvallen freighter; Defiant-class; Dominion; disruptor; environmental system; Excelsior-class; extradition; farm; Federation; fire; fire-suppression system; fog; forehead; Founders; gene; Great Link; herd; holosuite; Hundred Changelings; justice system; knickknack; Koralis III; Koralis system; love; magistrate; Martok; Metamorph; Milky Way Galaxy; mono-form; mining; morphogenic matrix; nose; O'Brien, Keiko; operations log; orbital tether; Promenade; Quark's; riddle; Rigelian chocolate; runabout; sexual reproduction; shopkeeper; snake; summer; Varala; Varalan; Vilm steak; volg; Template:ShipType
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