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LoneDragon May 4 2013 12:48 AM

Odo's senses
So I know he has no sense of smell. Most changeling spend more time in non-humanoid form. So does he see through something other than his eyes? If not, he would be blind in any form that didnt have eyes.
Does he even "see" at all, or does he perceive his surroundings in some other way?

Third Nacelle May 4 2013 01:11 AM

Re: Odo's senses
I would guess that Odo is somehow able to sense his surroundings and what is going on in a way much different from us. He was able to spy on Quark while in the shape of a bag of latinum, and seemed to know what was happening when he was posing as the surface of the Promenade directory.

Timo May 4 2013 05:31 PM

Re: Odo's senses
On the other hand, when he did have eyes, he seemed to be missing things that happened behind his back - the stab that killed Armin Maariza in "Duet", the sword swing that would have cut him in half if not for Bashir's helpful phaser shot in "Way of the Warrior"...

Perhaps when Odo assumes a form that features senses, he "gets into the role" and adopts those senses, ignoring his usual omnidirectional Changeling senses because they aren't "in the spirit of the act".

Timo Saloniemi

Melakon May 4 2013 06:37 PM

Re: Odo's senses
Changelings might be sensitive to changes in air pressure or currents, or magnetic/electrical fields, or some fictional sixth sense. Sort of like a fly often knows you're about to swat it before your hand gets there.

R. Star May 4 2013 06:47 PM

Re: Odo's senses
Well in the end we are just trying to explain by a shapeshifter with limitless potential is adopting human characteristics defined by the limitations of a human actor.

He has no sense of taste or smell, that is clearly established. I always thought maybe it could be some sort of extrasensory hearing and echo displacement, kinda like bats use and he just learned to recognize the various details that define who's who such as facial features and what not. It doesn't exactly stand up to scrutiny but it would explain attention spans similar to fields of vision and what not. There is some sort of sixth sense thing going on there since a blob of gew can be aware of you somehow.

Timo May 4 2013 06:49 PM

Re: Odo's senses
It would be difficult for Odo to possess a sense of any easily imaginable sort when pretending to be a rock. If he can be such a good rock that he can fool a tricorder, then he wouldn't be sensitive to air pressure or EM fields, as such sensitivity should show up as a non-rocklike feature in the tricorder scan.

OTOH, if Odo really can become a rock, this sort of means he will have to cease to be a Changeling. His "Changelingness" must go somewhere else, perhaps to another dimension or something; his "own", "real" senses are no doubt based on the very same ability that allows his shapeshifting powers to reach from this other realm to the object that for all practical purposes is a rock, and to turn it to another object that for all practical purposes is a drinking glass or a seagull.

Quite possibly, Odo's senses and shapeshifting abilities are based on phenomena so alien to Federation science that even the tricorders can't observe or analyze them. But whenever he needs to or wants to, he can introduce more conventional senses and abilities as part of his mimicry - only crudely at first, but with greater finesse after he has Linked with more experienced Changelings and learned more of the skills the grown-up Founders regularly use. He then introduces the associated vulnerabilities as well, such as the inability to see behind his back. Is that subconscious or deliberate? One would think Odo would wish to be maximally alert when playing Constable, rather than merely rely on his eyes. But perhaps he thinks it "fair" for his opponents that he stick to eyes. Or perhaps he did see the attack on Marriza coming, but chose to allow it to proceed, realizing few would recognize his inactivity for what it really was - a desire to see Marriza slain. (And perhaps he was quite willing to allow that Klingon to cut him in half, after which the upper half would have punched the Klingon in the face and the lower one in the groin - but when Bashir intervened, Odo thanked him for the "life-saving" intervention out of pure politeness nevertheless.)

Timo Saloniemi

R. Star May 4 2013 06:58 PM

Re: Odo's senses
I just always figured he can expand and contract his cellular structure at will. Bashir did mention maybe being able to clone synthetic organs from him when he borrowed the "goo."

I mean being Laas could turn into a wall of fog that fills the entire promenade and a warp capable space slug that's as big as a shuttle... where's the limit?

Timo May 4 2013 07:10 PM

Re: Odo's senses
Does Odo even have cellular structure? In "A Man Alone" and "Broken Link", it's suggested that his humanoid form has DNA, but that, too, may be part of his mimicry act rather than something inherent in Changelings...

Then again, the folks at Starfleet Medical, Starfleet Intel, Section 31 and whatever understood Changeling body chemistry well enough to devise the deadly but cunningly slowly acting bioweapon. It can't be too exotic, then.

Ironic how it seems that the Link turning Odo into an actual humanoid cured him of the disease, or at least drastically slowed its progress, so that the entire Link got the symptoms before he did... Seems the disease engineers truly understood something about the fundamental nature of Changelingness.

Timo Saloniemi

R. Star May 4 2013 07:12 PM

Re: Odo's senses
Yeah, they knew something, that's for sure. As for the disease, I always just figured Odo lost it given he wasn't a changeling anymore, then didn't get it back until he started linking with the Female Founder in season 6, explaining why he took longer to get sick.

Pavonis May 4 2013 09:23 PM

Re: Odo's senses

Timo wrote: (Post 8042806)
... Seems the disease engineers truly understood something about the fundamental nature of Changelingness.

Perhaps they used knowledge and insights gained from studying shape-shifting species native to the Alpha Quadrant. Surely there must be some commonality between species that are able to change forms so radically.

Timo May 4 2013 09:50 PM

Re: Odo's senses
Not necessarily. Kirk encountered a number of "shapeshifters" during his TOS journeys, such as the Salt Vampire and Garth of Izar - but he still seemed to consider "true" shapeshifting mythical when he encountered Martia the Chameloid in ST6. The TOS creatures seemed to be "mere" illusionists who made people see what they wanted to see, whereas Martia was truly able to change the shape and size of its ankle and thus escape from a leg iron. The Federation never got to study Martia. Nor did it get a good glimpse at the Vendorian from TAS "The Survivor", perhaps because the species appeared associated with Romulans and might have been native to a region of space out of bounds to Starfleet.

The TNG heroes accumulated more shapeshifter experiences, but curiously, they always came up with a new name for the concept, suggesting diversity and dissimilarity. There were "allasomorphs" and "coalescent organisms", creatures capable of mimicry, but with characteristics very different from those of the eventual Changelings. The allasomorphs came closest to being like Odo, but their "native" form was some sort of a glowing cloud of energy living in an inhospitable environment, not a glowing blob of goo in a shirtsleeves environment.

Probably there are plenty of ways to skin this particular cat, and studying one doesn't necessarily reveal all that much about the other.

Timo Saloniemi

LoneDragon May 6 2013 05:52 AM

Re: Odo's senses
Im watching DS9 for the first time. I just finished season 3. It's a little disappointing how little Odo has used his shapechaging abilities so far.

One thing that has been bothering me though... Odo spends almost all of his time in humanoid form, but he still cant quite get the features right. The Founders surely spend most of their time NOT in humanoid form(they dont live among humanoids), yet some of them have been shown to copy people so well that they can replace them.

It would have been neat if they had used less and less makeup on Odo each season, as he slowly learned to get humanoid features right.

Timo May 6 2013 02:50 PM

Re: Odo's senses
Yet if Founders live for thousands of years (and can afford to spend centuries drifting through space at an early age), it wouldn't be all that realistic if Odo's awkward childhood only lasted for a few years. He should rightfully remain clumsy for at least several decades, and perhaps would remain severely retarded for centuries if not for the opportunity to learn directly from his elders.

Timo Saloniemi

_C_ May 8 2013 09:46 PM

Re: Odo's senses
I view Changelings as being big wads of cytosol, and when they shapeshift they form cell walls and the morphogenic enzymes help protect and repair their DNA and stuff it where it needs to go inside cells as they change shapes. (I put this in a fanfic too lol). Perhaps their DNA can literally shift into the molecules of whatever they turn into and knows how to shift back into goo or the Changeling's default humanoid form. (Again, I think genetics has some say in how their "default" humanoid form looks, otherwise there would be identical Odo clones running around and they clearly had unique face shapes and body size variations!)

I think in liquid form, they have chemical receptors that let them perceive the world around them, but maybe it's not as clear. Touch seems to be the strongest sense--in The Begotten, Odo exposed the baby Changeling to shapes by pouring it into them and swirling it around. Yet they seem able, on some level, to experience perception similar to vision. I mean, how did the baby Changeling in know faces had a nose when it tried to mimic Odo's head? It tried to mimic him to understand these big, weird things that make noises. It made eyes and looked at them, seeing like we see, trying to understand. I'm sure Odo went through the same thing--and maybe as a humanoid with eyes, his EYES are what see, his EARS are what hear and so forth. And since the uniform is part of him, I imagine he would feel an ant crawl on it, for example, while a human wouldn't.

As for when he takes on inanimate objects, I think he can still perceive vibrations and somehow translates it into understandable sensory information.

I'm sure if you've read any of the Animorphs books, then you'd get a feel for how Odo might feel morphing different animals. I won't go into the backstory, but when the kids used the morphing technology to morph animals, they literally BECAME it, and their human mind had to fight the instincts of the animal they became. I imagine Odo deals with the same thing. He expressed such joy at remembering how it felt to fly as a hawk, and I imagine the sharp hawk's vision and highly tuned hunting instincts were wonderful for him too.

Those are my theories :)

Timo May 8 2013 09:59 PM

Re: Odo's senses
The problem with any "realistic" theory on how the Changelings could morph chemically or biologically is that it desperately needs a dose of magic to explain why Changelings also change their mass (both inertial and gravitational) when changing shape and size.

Let's remember that while the unconscious humanoid Odo in "Vortex" was "heavier than [he] look[s]" when the cretin Croden had to drag him around, the conscious drinking glass Odo in the very same episode was so light that Rom noticed nothing amiss when lifting him off a table on a tray! Similarly, Odo can be a seagull and fly on seagull wings, yet also throw his humanoid weight around in wrestling moves in one and the same scene in "Homefront". Biology would be hard pressed to explain the sudden appearance or disappearance of weight and inertia.

Of course, the mass manipulation might be something exotic that's thrown in atop a basically biological or chemical process of shapeshifting. But if that much magic is accepted, then it's sort of redundant to avoid magic in the part that explains the shapeshifting.

Timo Saloniemi

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