The Good: Good character development, Nice acting
The Bad: Somewhat obvious (i.e. the point of the episode is way too clear)
The Basics: When Odo becomes personally involved with a witness he is trying to protect, love blossoms in “A Simple Investigation.”
For the past few seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, there have been some pretty solid characterizations and none seem so firm as those of Security Chief Odo. Since day one (okay, more like episode four) we've known that he has never "coupled" and he finds the humanoid predilection for romance a bit out of his league. Since his transformation into a human, however, Odo has opened up to more humanoid things. In "A Simple Investigation," his solid feelings about not being interested in lovemaking melt away. And the reason it's a big deal is that it is not Kira he is coupling with!
When a mysterious woman named Arissa arrives on Deep Space Nine looking for a friend, she arouses Security's attention by trying to hack into the main computer. Odo quickly discovers that Arissa's contact on the station has been killed and learns that she is involved with the dangerous, mysterious Orion Syndicate and a particularly ruthless criminal mastermind named Draim. Drawn to her for her desire to leave the life of crime and intrigued by the mysterious data crystal that appears to be the target of the assassins that are after Arissa, Odo forms a bond with the Idanian and the two fall in love. Naturally, nothing is as it seems and as the assassins close in on Odo's new love, the Security Chief's world will be shaken up.
The only real drawback to "A Simple Investigation" is that it's obvious. The purpose of the episode is for Odo to have an excuse to have sex and as such, the episode follows a pretty standard arc of an hour long drama and that is disappointing considering how long they have built up Odo's love for Kira. The hard-core Trekkers might argue that this is the introduction of the important Orion Syndicate, but the truth is, it never gets too important and the only lasting benefit of "A Simple Investigation" is to watch Odo lose his Changeling virginity.
That said, it is not an unpleasant episode and, in fact, it is a welcome character growth for Odo. Always one of the most intriguing characters on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, it is refreshing to see Odo happy for a change, without losing his status as an outsider. Indeed, "A Simple Investigation" feels far less contrived than the episode where Odo and Kira eventually do hook up ("His Way," in the sixth season). So the growth of Odo into a more emotive individual feels organic and the relationship - not the "relating" - between Odo and Arissa reads as very true given Odo's previous character conflicts about having worked for the Cardassians.
A lot of the credit for the episode must go to Dey Young, who plays Arissa. Young is not classically, obviously Hollywood beautiful and it makes it easier to watch her character and Odo fall in love. That is, it engages the viewer to see two relatively normal looking people having a relationship, as opposed to two people who look like they fell out of a movie or a magazine. Outside the physical chemistry, Young has enough acting gravitas to share the screen with Rene Auberjonois and hold her own. The two get into a good cadence and make some real on-screen sexual tension.
In the end, much of the episode hinges on Rene Auberjonois and he does not fail to deliver. Here he presents Odo with a great deal of emotion, but never betraying the sense of order and stiffness he keeps as his public facade. Instead, we see Rene balance the two aspects of Odo's personality to create more character depth without betraying the fundamental principles of the character. He does it well, especially through the use of body language.
While the episode is completely accessible to anyone who likes a decent romance, non-DS9 fans will probably not appreciate the magnitude of Odo having sex. That doesn't mean it is unenjoyable to non-Trek fans, it is just a little less impressive. The political intrigue of the Orion Syndicate may also make the episode enjoyable to fans of mob stories. While an essential part of Odo's character arc, it is difficult to classify this as part of the essential Star Trek: Deep Space Nine because it lacks consequences.
[Knowing that VHS is essentially a dead medium, it's worth looking into Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Complete Fifth Season on DVD, which is also a better economical choice than buying the VHS. Read my review of the perfect season by clicking here!
For other Star Trek reviews, please be sure to visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!
© 2012, 2007, 2003 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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