Doctor Mora's influence on Odo.

Discussion in 'Deep Space Nine' started by _C_, Apr 6, 2013.

  1. _C_

    _C_ Commander Red Shirt

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    I'm not talking about the experiments. We already know all about that. I mean on a more interpersonal level. Children often take after their parents or whoever raised them. I've been watching close now, and I've noticed quite a few of Odo's mannerisms mirror Doctor Mora's. I got quite a giggle from it. Here's some photographic evidence.

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  2. Tosk

    Tosk Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I wouldn't be surprised if James Sloyan did it on purpose.
     
  3. _C_

    _C_ Commander Red Shirt

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    Me either, but I think it's really interesting. I can't help wondering if Odo does it unconsciously or if he knows and just doesn't care. I know I have a lot of my mom's mannerisms, and I don't realize I'm doing them until I catch myself. >>;
     
  4. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Mora was his model for the humanoid form. They act alike, they even look alike. Makes perfect sense they had Mora's actor mimic Odo's mannerisms to demonstrate this paternal bond.
     
  5. _C_

    _C_ Commander Red Shirt

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    He's had more of an influence on Odo than Odo cares to admit.

    It makes me sad when people say Doctor Mora is a creepy abusive jerk. He gets condescending sometimes, and he can be arrogant and stubborn(GEE WHERE DID ODO GET IT? lol), but he's not abusive.

    I'm still trying to figure out tumblr, but my friend (a guy named "Moosey") showed me a post where somebody totally tore Doctor Mora up like he was some kind of villain. I just found it and I'll quote it and what Moosey said in reply behind spoiler tags. They're pretty long and I found them interesting. What does everyone else think of the argument below?


    ****Original post:****

    What were the writers thinking? I am not exaggerating when I say that, by the end of this episode I was crying and shaking with rage. I recognize that I may have some issues that are specific to me and my life that color my viewing here, but… really, even if you disregard the creepy medical stuff as an average viewer and see this as a parallel to a parent-child relationship, this is an episode about child abuse. To be accurate, it is an episode that excuses, if not defends, child abuse. And somehow, even that description seems inadequate to me to convey how awful I felt watching it.
    The short version of this episode - shapeshifting alien (called a “changeling”) named Odo who was experimented on in a laboratory for most of his “childhood” tries to raise another changeling to have a happier life than he did, only to have the person who experimented on him, Dr. Mora, come in and essentially force him to do to his adopted child what was done to him, and eventually reconciles with Dr. Mora and apologizes for not keeping in touch more. I shit you not.
    Because I can’t seem to organize the things that set me off about this into paragraphs, I’m going to list them instead. Or at least the major ones, that I can actually articulate:
    A conversation between Odo and Captain Sisko early in the episode establishes, or at least suggests, that the reason that the Founders (changeling alien people) send baby changelings out into the galaxy is to test what different societies do with their vulnerable and helpless. The Federation’s answer, through what happens in the episode, seems to be, “WHY, WE EXPERIMENT ON AND TORTURE THEM, OF COURSE!” Yeah. What the hell, hero, indeed.
    The changeling kid just didn’t know how to do shapeshifting stuff yet. It’s like trying to teach a baby how to walk by using an electric dog shock collar on him or her when s/he tries to crawl.
    Odo wanted so much to give this kid a better, happier life than he had. It was giving him happiness and meaning to do so. That’s what made his interactions with the changeling before Dr. Mora showed up so heartwarming, at least in large part. And then, he was forced to do exactly what was done to him by the person who did those things to him. This… enormously squicked me out and saddened me. I’m not sure whether that’s because I related to Odo - being a person who has gone through some shit and wants to make it better for other people so they don’t have the same things happen to them - or because I would have really liked it if someone like me would have been there to protect me and teach me on my own terms when I was a kid.
    The episode successfully made Dr. Mora really freaking creepy and awful (he reminded me of two really awful doctors in my own life, and the people I was watching this with were really creeped out by him too), and made Odo’s story really sad. It was set up to go in a different direction than it did, and the way the story went and resulting implications seem really out of line with how that.
    Dr. Mora never apologized to Odo for what he did in any meaningful way. The closest he came was by saying that he didn’t know that Odo was sentient when did some of these experiments, and even then, he didn’t even say that he would not have done it if he knew. AND THEN he proceeds to do (or rather, have someone else, his former victim, do!) the exact same thing to a similar being who at this point he KNOWS to be capable of feeling pain (among other things). This makes his conduct, and him as a character, completely inexcusable on several levels.
    “Spare the rod, spoil the child” is a statement that should never be used if you don’t mean to portray the character saying it as a total, unsympathetic, unjustifiable douche canoe. I think this a general fiction thing (like, I’ve never run across a situation where you were supposed to agree with a character saying this), and also corporal punishment just hits all of my “misuse of power” buttons.
    When he wasn’t going on about discipline or whatever, Dr. Mora sounded like a curebie parent (autism spectrum disorder or otherwise). I mean, COME ON. “I hope you’ll get to hear your child thank you for what you did someday” when “what you did” refers to painful, traumatic and quite possibly unnecessary experimental procedures? That’s practically ripped straight from the list of stock curebie responses. (It doesn’t help that what they were doing - electrically shocking the changeling kid as a form of behavioral modification - is pretty much exactly what they do to kids with severe developmental and psychiatric disabilities at the Judge Rotenberg Center.) In general, everything he said when not being generically creepy and horrible had a “for your own good” vibe, and to me, that’s even worse than generically creepy and horrible. One seems markedly fictional and abstract to me, even if there are a number of people who actually are creepy and horrible, where the other is far too close to a mentality I’ve seen too many times in real life - in fact, one that it seems the writers of this episode share to no small extent.
    At least on-screen, Captain Sisko was never held accountable for 1) bringing Dr. Mora in against Odo’s express wishes and 2) putting pressure on Odo and Dr. Mora to “get results” regardless of what that meant for the changeling child or Odo. Even if being held accountable only meant hearing what had happened, the full implications of that and learning how his actions played a role in it (which would have been completely enough as far as I’m concerned), I still felt like it was something that should have happened and didn’t.
    The shapeshifter child transforming into a thing that sort of looks like Odo after Odo and Mora basically torture him/her, and the fact that this is treated by everyone as cause for celebration without reflecting on the cost to the shapeshifter, is rather disturbing, as the episode and characters are basically implying that the ends justify the means.
    And then the changeling DIES. Okay, Odo gets his abilities to shapeshift back as a result (permanently, I think…?), but still. When it rains, it fucking pours. Way to shoot the shaggy dog, guys, especially after kicking it and maybe even raping it too.
    Odo telling Dr. Mora that he respected him. WTF NO. That’s not the message I got from Odo from how he talked about how Dr. Mora treated him throughout the rest of the episode, or the rest of the series for that matter. If this was meant to be a creepy, Stockholm Syndrome-y, “you were my only caretaker and role model and I didn’t have anything to compare against” thing, fine, they could have made that work and have it be appropriately sad and creepy. But it went completely unexamined, and even meant to seem like a touching moment of reconciliation. Not okay.
    Unfortunate message #1 of this episode is that your parents(/doctors) did what was for your own good, even if it was horribly unpleasant and traumatic, and that you couldn’t possibly learn from what you thought could have been improved and made better choices under the circumstances. God dammit. I grew up subjected to this mentality - both about medical stuff and about my parents’ means of discipline - and I didn’t need to have it hammered in by my (supposedly) fun escapist science fiction television show.
    Unfortunate message #2 of this episode is that even if someone mistreated you in their capacity as a parental figure or other caretaker role, you should forgive them and keep in contact with them (and apologize for not doing so!), because of course they did what they could and only wanted the best for you. This is the kind of thing that makes me really wary of “forgive and forget” messages, because to me, it verges on victim-blaming, as it it places the responsibility on the person who was harmed by the other’s misuse of authority to make things right and be the better person in the end. I reject this. Dr. Mora and people like him make their choices to harm someone less powerful than themselves when they could choose something else, and the victims of their decisions don’t owe them shit.
    There are other ways that this episode could have been written that would have added moral complexity or whatever the writers were going for here without it seeming like it was justifying abuse/torture/unethical experimentation on sentient beings/etc. This was exceptionally, egregiously horrible, and I can’t understand how it could seem otherwise. I’m so glad that this episode was as late in the show as it was, because if it had been in the first or even the second season, I might have stopped watching. There are obviously words for my disgust and unhappiness with this (as evidenced by the large amount of them I have just typed), but they are inadequate to truly describe it. So much fail.

    ***Moosey's reply:****

    I know this post is a couple years old, but I gotta comment. I don’t dismiss that you had a nasty past yourself, but it really is coloring your view on this and twisting it into what it isn’t. I CAN understand why you see it the way you do and I’m sorry you were hurt.

    I disagree with the points you made and here’s why: There was literally NO way to communicate with the baby Changeling. Odo tried and his methods alone weren’t working. Something else I want to point out is Mora didn’t know Odo was a sentient in the beginning. I get the impression that he stopped with the experiments once he realized he had a sentient being on his hands. Odo’s comment of “He never talked to me” is where I realize Mora had no clue the jar of goo was sentient at first. The Cardassians could’ve forced Mora to find out what the goo was because zomg what if it was a fuel source or a chemical that could be synthesized for weaponry? Mora discovered Odo was a Changeling purely by accident.

    On the other hand, Odo had the unique perspective of knowing how much the baby Changeling was aware of. It couldn’t understand his speech, but it knew he was there. Like Odo as a baby, it didn’t know what it was or what it could do.

    Mora gave Odo the opportunity to try his own way first. He didn’t have to up the ante until Starfleet threatened to take the baby Changeling away, and God knows what they might have put it through. Mora was under the same pressure to get results from the Cardassians once it was clear his goop was actually an alien.

    Their approach to the baby was different than what Odo went through. They knew from the start what they were dealing with. No centrifuges, cytoplasmic separators or vacuum chambers. The zappy thing they used was intended to cause discomfort, not PAIN. If a fly starts buzzing around your face, you move to swat it right? They didn’t torture the baby Changeling. They got it to realize what it can do. It needed that push. They needed to teach it to change and hold shapes to get it to understand what it had to do because it could not understand speech. To the baby, Odo probably sounded like noises or vibrations..Then the baby decides to try and shapeshift by itself and copies Odo’s face in an attempt to understand this lifeform that makes so many strange noises at it. This is in contrast to baby Odo, who formed a tentacle to slap Mora’s hand off a console to stop the annoying zapping. Mora had no idea of Odo’s sentience until he found Odo copied a beaker in his lab.

    They go into Odo’s office and Mora admits that HE WAS WRONG, that Odo’s attempts to communicate with the baby was a sound method, and using the little zappy thing to make it want to change form got faster results because of THAT than if they started out using it without Odo chattering. Their combined efforts got better results than any one of them would have got alone.

    Odo didn’t understand at first that Mora had no idea he was sentient when he did the seemingly cruel and nasty experiments. The thing is with Odo is he’s temperamental and can be kind of an asshole. A lot of his animosity towards Mora came from a skewed perspective. I think he brings out the asshole in Mora too. Neither was blameless when they started yelling at each other before the baby Changeling formed a face.

    Regarding Mora having a lack of remorse: Did you ever watch “The Alternate?” At the scene where Odo is infected by that weird gas and starts slamming into the force field? Mora practically breaks down crying and asking “I’ve done it to you again, haven’t I, Odo? I made you a prisoner. Dear God, what have I done?” And when Odo finally collapses, he takes Odo in his arms and pretty much comforts him.

    The experience with the baby Changeling let Odo see things from Mora’s perspective. Odo put his soul into that baby, and no matter what he tried it left. Mora went through that too in a different way. I might have gone for years thinking Odo was an ungrateful git if I was Mora. I can’t imagine Odo just took humanoid form one day and spoke perfectly or walked perfectly. Mora might have had to teach him all the basics. He gave Odo an education. He took care of him. OKay I agree, making Odo amuse Cardassians sucked and I don’t blame Odo for being all “fuck this” and leaving the lab for good. He probably got tons of shit from people for being different and freaky. But Odo and Mora were two people bouncing around on a bunch of serious misunderstandings. I wish the series gave us another episode focused on them working through the rest of their issues.
     
  6. Mr_Homn

    Mr_Homn Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    James Sloyan is one of the best recurring Trek actors ever. I wish he was utilized more.
     
  7. lurok

    lurok Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Ditto. That's one of my favourite DS9 episodes, as is his S1 VOY ep with Neelix. Sloyan seems to bring out the best in his co-stars. I like the fact that he didn't try use any of the usual actor-bag-of-tricks to make either of his characters sympathetic
     
  8. Mr_Homn

    Mr_Homn Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    His role as Admiral Jarok in TNG is one of the best guest performances in that show's history IMO

    He was great as Future Alexander too.
     
  9. _C_

    _C_ Commander Red Shirt

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    He was also the voiceover on some Lexus commercials, I think. :P Any excuse to geek out!

    I think he made Mora Pol out to be really interesting just because of the influence he's had on Odo. I wish he'd been on the series more. Oh well, that's what fanfiction is for. :D


    ETA: What's interesting is they almost cast Rene Auberjonois in the role of Mora ala Brent Spiner as Soong, but for some reason they chose not to and Mora's role was expanded a little as a result.
     
  10. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I knew he was Jetrel and Future Alexander... never realized he was Jarok though. Best Romulan ever! Shoot, this guy should've gotten a long term role like Dukat/Weyoun/Damar/Martok/Nog with all the great roles he's played!
     
  11. _C_

    _C_ Commander Red Shirt

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  12. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I see Mora as somebody who didn't realize what affect he had on Odo. He was angry that Odo saw him as a captor rather than a father, but then he realized, he kind of acted like a captor.

    Mora wanted appreciation for helping Odo develop into who he was, but he didn't realize that having absolute power over somebody is inherently offensive to that person no matter how you apply that power. I saw genuine remorse when he came to that realization.
     
  13. _C_

    _C_ Commander Red Shirt

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    I tend to write him in fanfics as wanting to heal that rift and feeling a lot of regret for not realizing sooner how much he'd hurt Odo.

    It was a great dynamic on the show. Wish we could've seen more of it.
     
  14. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I really loved the Mora and Odo parts of the Terok Nor trilogy.

    Mora may have been Odo's captor, but he was also a captive himself.
     
  15. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

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    They both had something to learn about their behavior. Mora learned that Odo didn't exactly appreciate all that Mora put him through, but eventually Odo came to realize that Mora really did care about him and how painful it felt to have someone you cared about simply walk out on you and shut you out of their life (not exactly what happened with the Baby Changling, but the feeling of loss was similar).

    By the end of "Begotten" they've both finally come to terms with one another and were able to form a proper bond (pun intended).
     
  16. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yeah, the Begotten was one of my favorite Odo episodes even with the silly Kira subplot. You really see his softer side in this one. Not to mention Quark's brief scenes were hilarious too, especially when he was "haggling" on the price of the changeling based on how hurt it was. :p
     
  17. _C_

    _C_ Commander Red Shirt

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    Plus, it let Odo see things from Doctor Mora's perspective and realize Doctor Mora wasn't setting out to hurt him for the joy of hurting something. Doctor Mora literally had no idea the goo in the jar was a life form that would one day become Odo.

    Sometimes, I think Odo antagonized Doctor Mora on purpose because he wanted the scientist to feel guilty and rotten about those experiments. Maybe it worked a little too well, judging by the yelling match in The Begotten. It's a great exchange that says a lot about their relationship.

    And later on...

    Source: http://ds9.trekcore.com/media/scripts/512.txt
     
  18. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It very much comes off as a father and son who have become estranged trying to work out their problems.
     
  19. _C_

    _C_ Commander Red Shirt

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    LONG POST AHEAD:

    I like Doctor Mora as a character; he seemed to poke at a side of Odo we don't see with anybody else. I think, like it or not, in a way he IS Odo's father in the sense that he was part of his early life. It's just Odo didn't have a very happy childhood, and it took umpteen years for them to reconcile it.

    When I watch The Alternate, I see Doctor Mora realizing Odo has "grown up" and has a life. He expresses surprise at this. In this episode, he starts out seeing Odo a bit like the specimen he was, but as the show goes on his view transforms to something much more paternal. I think the creature Odo mutated into when he bashed into the containment field towards the end of the ep was, on a small level, a manifestation of how he felt in the lab. And Doctor Mora saw it.

    "I've done it to you again, haven't I, Odo? I made you a prisoner. Dear God, what have I done?"

    I think my favorite scene in The Alternate is Doctor Mora cradling Odo in his arms after he un-mutates. And then, at the very end, where Odo covers Doctor Mora's hand with his. Like he's seeking his 'father's' affection.

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    Then we get to The Begotten, where we learn a lot more about Odo's early life in the lab and we stand witness to two stubborn people seeing the other through each other's eyes. (I hope that made sense!) But they have to butt heads so hard they see stars first! Doctor Mora thinks Odo is an ungrateful brat for not "appreciating" what he did for him, and Odo thinks Doctor Mora is a gigantic jerk for thinking he should be grateful for the misery he endured before he left the lab.

    I think the key turning point in this episode happens right after that adorable moment where the baby Changeling tries to imitate Odo. They walk back into Odo's office and really open up to each other. This scene never fails to make me clutch at my heart for them. Doctor Mora admits he was wrong, that Odo's constant talking to the baby Changeling helped it reach out on its own and he expresses regret that he wasn't able to connect to Odo that way--and then he ruminates that maybe Odo wouldn't be such a grump if he hadn't poked and prodded him so much. And we have Odo admitting he respected Doctor Mora, saying Doctor Mora didn't know what he was and for all he knew he was experimenting on a lump of organic residue--which is what Odo would still be if Doctor Mora hadn't made him want to shape shift. The smile on Doctor Mora's face when Odo says that is just...

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    Then it comes down to the poor baby Changeling getting sick again. After Doctor Bashir and Doctor Mora try everything, it still becomes clear the baby won't make it. Odo is obviously stricken. Doctor Mora could have handed him the beaker and walked out, but he presses a hand to Odo's shoulder as he walks by, a gesture of clear sympathy. Because he KNOWS what Odo is going through.

    It takes losing the baby Changeling for Odo to see the pain he caused Doctor Mora. I think on some level he knew, but not to the full extent.

    Which then leads to their conversation at the end of the episode...

    Odo: I think I finally understand how much I meant to you... and what you must've gone through when I left.

    Doctor Mora: You had to find your own way in the world.

    Odo: I should've included you in my life.

    Doctor Mora: You still can.

    I think the pivotal moment is Doctor Mora pulling Odo into his arms and hugging him. It mirrors The Alternate in a sense, because Doctor Mora took Odo into his arms in that episode too, but there was no return embrace. The way Odo just relaxes, drops his head onto his shoulder and reciprocates(albeit slightly awkwardly!) speaks volumes. Odo finally has the warmth he's sought from Doctor Mora, and Doctor Mora realizes he is being forgiven. He appears on the verge of happy tears when Odo returns the embrace after so many years of animosity.

    The hug is the moment they accepted each other for who they are, and it's the gap between them closing. What a great way to visually show something so symbolic, eh?

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