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Old June 9 2013, 12:43 AM   #1
hux
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Changelings questions

1 - how do they see/hear....they don't have eyes or organs of any description....so when they take the form of something with eyes (like a humanoid) do they literally become that thing and therefore have eyes (i think the lady founder said they become whatever they mimic) or do they sense visuals and audio in some other way - this has always been vague for me (i mean if they're a rock, they can still hear what's being said...so how)

2 - asked this a long time ago but didn't get a satisfactory explanation....why do changelings look the way they do (i.e like Oddo) he looks that way because he can't accurately mimic humanoid form but why do they (is that there default humanoid form and if so, is that why Oddo finds that look the easiest to achieve and Changelings began this way) or was it simply because they wanted to show him respect and so took the same form as him and continued to do so)

3 - and speaking of Oddo not being able to look human....how is it that he can mimic a bird, a dog and other very complicated things (surely the millions of hairs on a dog is a more complex act of mimicry than a human face) but can't manage a convincing humanoid form

4 - why do changelings identify as male and female...is this because they did originally begin as a conventional species (explaining their default humanoid look which Oddo has) and they evolved their shapeshifting abilities later but continued to have genders

??
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Old June 9 2013, 02:30 AM   #2
Admiral_Sisko
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Re: Changelings questions

hux wrote: View Post
1 - how do they see/hear....they don't have eyes or organs of any description....so when they take the form of something with eyes (like a humanoid) do they literally become that thing and therefore have eyes (i think the lady founder said they become whatever they mimic) or do they sense visuals and audio in some other way - this has always been vague for me (i mean if they're a rock, they can still hear what's being said...so how)
It's not clearly explained how Changelings are able to duplicate humanoid physiology (vision, hearing, etc.), but it's possible that their ability to do so is related to the more general observation that they become whatever form they assume: a similar transformation may occur at the tissue/organ level, even when assuming the form of a non-living construct such as a rock.

hux wrote:
2 - asked this a long time ago but didn't get a satisfactory explanation....why do changelings look the way they do (i.e like Oddo) he looks that way because he can't accurately mimic humanoid form but why do they (is that there default humanoid form and if so, is that why Oddo finds that look the easiest to achieve and Changelings began this way) or was it simply because they wanted to show him respect and so took the same form as him and continued to do so)
It's likely that the Changelings wanted to appear similar to Odo in order to make him feel welcome among them, as he had been separated from them for a significant amount of time before returning home in The Search.

hux wrote:
3 - and speaking of Oddo not being able to look human....how is it that he can mimic a bird, a dog and other very complicated things (surely the millions of hairs on a dog is a more complex act of mimicry than a human face) but can't manage a convincing humanoid form
It's not clear why Odo has difficulty with faces, but it's been speculated that the Founders themselves placed a mental block on this ability in order to limit him. The reason for this is not known.

hux wrote:
4 - why do changelings identify as male and female...is this because they did originally begin as a conventional species (explaining their default humanoid look which Oddo has) and they evolved their shapeshifting abilities later but continued to have genders
As Odo had lived the majority of his life among various males and females of varying species, it's likely that they wanted to appear in a manner that he was familiar with, as a means of making him feel more comfortable.
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Old June 9 2013, 04:16 PM   #3
hux
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Re: Changelings questions

Admiral_Sisko wrote: View Post
It's not clearly explained how Changelings are able to duplicate humanoid physiology (vision, hearing, etc.), but it's possible that their ability to do so is related to the more general observation that they become whatever form they assume: a similar transformation may occur at the tissue/organ level, even when assuming the form of a non-living construct such as a rock.
so how do they hear/see or continue to be aware of things when they are rocks, gas, a control panel etc (which they have demonstrated they are)

Admiral_Sisko wrote: View Post
It's likely that the Changelings wanted to appear similar to Odo in order to make him feel welcome among them, as he had been separated from them for a significant amount of time before returning home in The Search.
Then why look like that when Oddo isn't around...for example, when the founders are with the Jem Hadar, Vorta or the Cardassians - and surely the founders have had dealings with solids before the events of DS9 ever happened so what did they look like then....is it not more likely that that form is there default form (which would also explain why oddo adopted it naturally)

Admiral_Sisko wrote: View Post
As Odo had lived the majority of his life among various males and females of varying species, it's likely that they wanted to appear in a manner that he was familiar with, as a means of making him feel more comfortable.
But again, same as above....why have genders when Oddo isn't around

Is there any background information on the founders...any non-canon books or stories that attempt to give explanations for some of these things?
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Old June 9 2013, 04:23 PM   #4
Admiral_Sisko
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Re: Changelings questions

hux wrote: View Post
so how do they hear/see or continue to be aware of things when they are rocks, gas, a control panel etc (which they have demonstrated they are)
I don't know the answer to that question, and I don't know of any place where it's explained.

hux wrote:
Then why look like that when Oddo isn't around...for example, when the founders are with the Jem Hadar, Vorta or the Cardassians - and surely the founders have had dealings with solids before the events of DS9 ever happened so what did they look like then....is it not more likely that that form is there default form (which would also explain why oddo adopted it naturally)
It may be a default form of sorts, perhaps because it requires less energy to assume- a relevant issue given that the Founders spend a significant portion of the seventh season fighting a debilitating illness.

hux wrote:
But again, same as above....why have genders when Oddo isn't around
Again, it's possible that each Changeling assumes something of a default form, and each form may differ slightly from other members of the Great Link. Beyond that, I don't have an explanation other than that it's more likely that most humanoids feature two separate genders, so the Founders assume one gender identity or another in order to be able to relate to their counterparts.

hex wrote:
Is there any background information on the founders...any non-canon books or stories that attempt to give explanations for some of these things?
Not that I'm aware of, though my knowledge of Dominion-related literature is limited.
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Old June 10 2013, 01:11 AM   #5
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Re: Changelings questions

It's not clear why Odo has difficulty with faces, but it's been speculated that the Founders themselves placed a mental block on this ability in order to limit him. The reason for this is not known.
It's been shown that with time he would get better at shape shifting.

Odo in "Children of Time."
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Old June 10 2013, 01:18 AM   #6
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Re: Changelings questions

_C_ wrote: View Post
]It's been shown that with time he would get better at shape shifting.
As that happened in an alternate timeline following the crash of the Defiant, I don't know if we can assume that Odo would develop a similar ability to copy humanoid faces, although it's certainly possible. In either case, it's never made clear why his assuming humanoid facial features was difficult, as it did not appear to be a problem for other Changelings.

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Old June 10 2013, 01:22 AM   #7
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Re: Changelings questions

I think that quite simply it has to do with experience. Compared to the rest of the Founders, Odo is probably very young. Doctor Mora was assigned to Odo when Odo was still just a baby. When he left the lab, he might have looked adult, but maybe he was still a kid mentally--thus ill-prepared to manage alone. But he did it somehow.

I really think we watched him "grow up" during the series.
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Old June 10 2013, 01:28 AM   #8
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Re: Changelings questions

_C_ wrote: View Post
I think that quite simply it has to do with experience. Compared to the rest of the Founders, Odo is probably very young. Doctor Mora was assigned to Odo when Odo was still just a baby. When he left the lab, he might have looked adult, but maybe he was still a kid mentally--thus ill-prepared to manage alone. But he did it somehow.

I really think we watched him "grow up" during the series.
That's an excellent point. I think his character changed significantly during the final two seasons of the series, perhaps more than any other Star Trek character previously featured. Given the increased lifespan of Changelings, it's possible Odo's character has more potential than his counterparts, as well. There's no telling what he could become with the passage of time.

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Old June 10 2013, 01:33 AM   #9
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Re: Changelings questions

^I always saw Changelings as being biologically immortal, as in they can't really die of old age, but they die if they get killed by something. That may not be canon, but it seems to fit because the Female Founder always struck me as being very old.

Also, other Founders have the Link while Odo lived without it most of his life. That probably has something to do with everything too.
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Old June 10 2013, 01:48 AM   #10
Sran
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Re: Changelings questions

_C_ wrote: View Post
^I always saw Changelings as being biologically immortal, as in they can't really die of old age, but they die if they get killed by something. That may not be canon, but it seems to fit because the Female Founder always struck me as being very old.

Also, other Founders have the Link while Odo lived without it most of his life. That probably has something to do with everything too.
Some of the more recent novels have expounded on how the Great Link came to be, although I haven't read them. I don't know if Changelings are actually immortal, but it wouldn't surprise me if that were the case. Their bodies don't seem to age in any way that's clearly depicted on screen, and as you said, the only Changeling deaths we've seen were caused by some sort of accident or illness, as with the sickness that affected the Great Link near the end of the Dominion War.

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Old June 10 2013, 02:27 AM   #11
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Re: Changelings questions

^The reason solids die with age isn't because they get too old. It's usually and age related illness or a heart attack. I mean, why else are there people in the world still alive at age 100 or more?

Unless Changelings have the equivalent to age related issues, I can't see how they'd just up and die of old age unless one day they just turn to ash after so many centuries or millennia.
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Old June 10 2013, 07:50 AM   #12
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Re: Changelings questions

1 - how do they see/hear....they don't have eyes or organs of any description....so when they take the form of something with eyes (like a humanoid) do they literally become that thing and therefore have eyes (i think the lady founder said they become whatever they mimic) or do they sense visuals and audio in some other way - this has always been vague for me (i mean if they're a rock, they can still hear what's being said...so how)
I strongly feel that changelings' ability to sense is not related to organs, but part of their general makeup. Odo had stated on several occasions that he was well aware of what was going on in Dr. Mora's lab while he was in his natural state, and as you mentioned, he is able to have a similar awareness when he is taking the form of a non-lifeform.

That said, I also think that when Odo IS taking the appearance of a lifeform, either by design or his own limitations, his senses are limited to the shape of that lifeform. In that I mean he cannot see behind him without turning to see it. He also cannot smell or taste likely because of the complexities of such senses. As it has been stated this is likely a limitation to Odo alone because of his youth and lack of training.

Odo at least doesn't form organs when in humanoid state as stated on screen:

From "The Forsaken":

ODO: "I don't eat! This is not a real mouth. It is an approximation of one. I do not have an esophagus, or a stomach, or a digestive system. I am not like you. Every sixteen hours, I turn into a liquid!"

From "A Simple Investigation"

ARISSA: You mean you're just doing this out of the kindness of your heart?
ODO: I... don't have a heart.


2 - asked this a long time ago but didn't get a satisfactory explanation....why do changelings look the way they do (i.e like Oddo) he looks that way because he can't accurately mimic humanoid form but why do they (is that there default humanoid form and if so, is that why Oddo finds that look the easiest to achieve and Changelings began this way) or was it simply because they wanted to show him respect and so took the same form as him and continued to do so)
This one can be answered by DS9 writer Ron D. Moore, from an AOL chat in 1997

"Odo modeled his look after Dr. Mora and the Founders then modeled their look after Odo. They did this initially as a compliment and way of reaching out to their long-lost Changeling, and later they kept doing it as a dig and reminder to him of his own limitations." (AOL chat, 1997)

3 - and speaking of Oddo not being able to look human....how is it that he can mimic a bird, a dog and other very complicated things (surely the millions of hairs on a dog is a more complex act of mimicry than a human face) but can't manage a convincing humanoid form
This one can be answered from the episode "Homefront". (Basically, Odo sucks at everything. ) :

BENTEEN: Well, if you ask me, that was a pretty convincing seagull.

ODO: Thank you, but I don't know if the other gulls would agree.


4 - why do changelings identify as male and female...is this because they did originally begin as a conventional species (explaining their default humanoid look which Oddo has) and they evolved their shapeshifting abilities later but continued to have genders
Yes, Founders used to be solids, but evolved. So I think your conclusion that gender-identity carried over when they became changelings is correct.

From "Behind the Lines":

ODO: Have our people always been shape-shifters, or was there a time when we were like the solids?
FOUNDER: Eons ago we were like them, limited to one form, but then …we evolved.


Hope that helps some.

Last edited by doctorfoto; June 10 2013 at 10:08 AM.
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Old June 24 2013, 08:37 PM   #13
hux
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Re: Changelings questions

^thanks, some good stuff there

I'm surprised there isn't more discussion about these changeling issues - seems like an area with a few unanswered questions
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Old June 24 2013, 09:22 PM   #14
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Re: Changelings questions

doctorfoto wrote: View Post
I strongly feel that changelings' ability to sense is not related to organs, but part of their general makeup. Odo had stated on several occasions that he was well aware of what was going on in Dr. Mora's lab while he was in his natural state, and as you mentioned, he is able to have a similar awareness when he is taking the form of a non-lifeform.

Odo at least doesn't form organs when in humanoid state as stated on screen:

From "The Forsaken":

ODO: "I don't eat! This is not a real mouth. It is an approximation of one. I do not have an esophagus, or a stomach, or a digestive system. I am not like you. Every sixteen hours, I turn into a liquid!"
It must be possible for Changelings to form organs somehow, as he had them when he was in solid form. True, the rest of the Link forced it on him and molded him into that form, but it still proves it's possible. If they can do it to him, why couldn't he do it himself sooner or later?

And he apparently did have those organs earlier on when he took Curzon's form in "Facets." It may have been an instinctive change, even if Odo himself didn't have the conscious knowledge.

So the lack of esophagus, stomach, and digestive system were again just from Odo's lack of knowledge... at first. That knowledge increased throughout the series. Since Changelings share information when linking, he probably picked up a great deal of insight on shapechanging that way. Not to mention that he should retain the knowledge of a shape he already knew. That is: after the Link kicked him out and then later he got his powers back, I seriously doubt that his organs spontaneously melted away and he had no idea how to form them again. What are the odds?

And he must have formed... something... when he and the female Changeling experimented with physical intimacy.

Therefore, I would suggest that Odo couldn't form taste buds, a functional stomach, and similar organs at the time he said that-- but later on, he probably could.
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Old June 25 2013, 10:17 AM   #15
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Re: Changelings questions

I wasn't intending to answer each one, but it seems like I have my own take on all compared to the rest of the thread :-|

ANYWHOO ....

hux wrote: View Post
1 - how do they see/hear....they don't have eyes or organs of any description....so when they take the form of something with eyes (like a humanoid) do they literally become that thing and therefore have eyes (i think the lady founder said they become whatever they mimic) or do they sense visuals and audio in some other way - this has always been vague for me (i mean if they're a rock, they can still hear what's being said...so how)
I could propose a very convoluted theory regarding transition through liquids actually carrying more information, but I think the simplest explanation still remains when a changeling forms an ear, it acts like an ear.

Dr. Moria did make several references to Odo's ability to "perceive" things in a liquid or non-humanoid state so one would have to assume there's some sort of extrasensory perception going on beyond the formation of sensory organs.

hux wrote: View Post
2 - asked this a long time ago but didn't get a satisfactory explanation....why do changelings look the way they do (i.e like Oddo) he looks that way because he can't accurately mimic humanoid form but why do they (is that there default humanoid form and if so, is that why Oddo finds that look the easiest to achieve and Changelings began this way) or was it simply because they wanted to show him respect and so took the same form as him and continued to do so)
This one is pretty simple actually and the evidence is found in the episode Paradise Lost. Odo can turn into all sorts of organisms and objects but lacks the ability to do it completely right. He stated something to the effect that even though he was mincing a seagal, other seagals knew he wasn't a seagal.

So he can turn into other forms, with practice can get pretty good at mimicking them, but as a whole still has problems getting them right.

hux wrote: View Post
3 - and speaking of Oddo not being able to look human....how is it that he can mimic a bird, a dog and other very complicated things (surely the millions of hairs on a dog is a more complex act of mimicry than a human face) but can't manage a convincing humanoid form
See above.

With time, and practice, as someone else pointed out, he'd get better with it (or by some sort of equivalent of an information dump from the great link) but generally speaking, all evidence points to it being a "practice makes perfect" scenario.

hux wrote: View Post
4 - why do changelings identify as male and female...is this because they did originally begin as a conventional species (explaining their default humanoid look which Oddo has) and they evolved their shapeshifting abilities later but continued to have genders
To me, the simplest explanation is that Odo himself actually used something of a default look that happened to be challenging in appearance even though he himself didn't realize it.

Though there is some stock in the theory the other challengings used him as a template, I buy more into the theory that his genetic code had that face "pre-programmed" in and thus why it was easy-ish for him to assume it.

Where Laaz is concerned, we know he's about 200 years older and has had a lot more time to practice.
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