A Simple Investigation (***½)
What is love? Baby, don't hurt me. Don't hurt me, no more.
This episode is probably the best example of why making Odo a Changeling again was premature, because this story would have been better if he had been humanoid. Odo having his first sexual relationship as a solid would have made it more meaningful, and it's probably an experience that he couldn't fully appreciate as a Changeling for various biological reasons. It also makes more sense from a character perspective for him to be exploring new areas of his life as a solid rather than as a Changeling. There would be time for Odo to explore romantic relationships later in the series, but not getting involved in such a situation as a solid leaves me feeling that the writers missed out on something important in their rush to return things to normal.
There are other reasons why I wish Odo had been a humanoid for this episode, because the fact that he is a Changeling caused me to think certain things that I never wanted to think. Odo presumably morphed up a reasonably accurate (if unusually smooth) nude male body. Did he spend hours on the internet researching what naked males look like, or does his knowledge come purely from those sexy crime novels he reads? Odo's clothes are a part of himself, so when Arissa inevitably attempted to lift his shirt off, what exactly happened? Did Odo just morph his clothes off? Odo doesn't have natural saliva, so when Arissa kissed him, did he just have an exceptionally dry mouth, or did he morph up some fake saliva, which then went into her mouth and returned to its gelatinous state? All these thoughts kept distracting me from the story, that wouldn't have happened if Odo was a solid.
As a love story, it's definitely one of the stronger ones Trek has done, the characters and story are more interesting than what we usually get. It would have been nice if the plot had tied into some grander narrative about the Orion Syndicate, but as an organisation they're never been particularly well thought-out, which is unfortunate. There's still the issue of Odo and Arissa falling in love over the course of two or three days, but it's less of a problem than normal. Bit of a dick move at the end to reveal that Arissa is married, it's one of the more tragic reset buttons, but it's still a reset button.
Form of... a sex machine: 30
I really liked this episode. As for the "penis" issue, I always imagined that he didn't have a problem forming one because he had been human and knew what his own penis was like at that time. It would have nice to get more on the Orion Syndicate, but they seemed to be very secretive and good at what they did. Weren't they also mentioned in The Ascent
? I got the impression that you didn't find them, they found you...
I think finding out that Arissa was married worked just fine when you factor in Kira and Odo happening eventually. Vedek Bareil dying was also sad, but it ended up setting Kira free for Odo as well. His death was more pertinent to different story arcs, but Arissa's marriage and the fact that the woman Odo had feelings for didn't exist worked well for their purpose to me. This is a great episode.