Paper Moon wrote:
It's interesting, I think the episode does indeed say this, but I think it also presents a strong case for Laas being unreasonable in his conclusions and the Starfleeters (somewhat less so the Klingons) behaving appropriately.
Well, on the whole, I think Laas is one of those (relatively rare) characters who only appears for an episode but really makes an impact, and it's partly because his behavior and ideas can't really be dismissed, and can even be seen as courageous in a sense, but, as you say, he can also be seen as a bit of a bigot himself, depending on how you look at it.
I think I recall reading at one point that the writers wanted to bring him back, but never got around to it, and it doesn't really surprise me. He provides a unique point of view on the changelings, whereas before we only had Odo and the Founders, basically.
Indeed. Laas complicates the dynamic, and that helps flesh the changelings out further ready for their final arc, in which their progressing disease separates our sense of their biology and their experience of life from their politics, at least as I see it. Being a communal lifeform as they are, with a history of (supposed) total non-aggression within their species, it does make some degree of sense that the changelings are easily wrapped up in the same package, and so in the past we've had "Odo Vs Founders", with Odo's relationship to his people being at least partly defined by monocultural politics. As The Dead Fish said back in season three, "The Changelings are
the Dominion", and they're so insistent on the point that evaluating them at a remove from their political platform has been difficult. Now, though, Laas lets us finally see the changeling species in terms of an individual experience, not a political one. Odo's attempts to work out where he stands in relation to Laas' viewpoints and wishes has nothing to do with the Dominion and so forces a bit of a reconsideration of his position. Which I believe was the writers' intent with this one, wasn't it? "What if Odo meets a changeling who isn't of the Dominion? How does that force him to re-justify his decision to remain a Bajoran?" It's easy to overlook the racial identity problems and other identity issues when the only alternative for Odo was "the Dominion", because we know he objects morally to Dominion politics. This episode neatly returns his arc to being about a lost individual who longs for the companionship of his own kind, but is torn between them and his adopted home, rather than "the hero refuses to join the villains despite temptation". It reaffirms what was so intriguing about this character arc in the first place.