(written from a Production point of view)
Odo is plagued by an unknown ailment that threatens to kill him. Meanwhile, the Federation and the Klingon Empire move closer to war. (Season finale)
Odo arrives at Elim Garak's shop, as requested by the Cardassian tailor. He believes Garak wishes to report a crime, but instead Garak attempts to introduce Odo to a Bajoran woman named Chalan Aroya, the owner of the newly opened Celestial Cafe on the Promenade. Uncomfortable with women, Odo neither accepts nor declines her invitation for dinner, noting that he doesn't eat. Garak expresses dissatisfaction in Odo's inability to act. Suddenly, Odo's shape destabilizes. As he vocalizes the pain, the destabilization continues. Eventually, he falls to the ground, unconscious. Garak contacts Dr. Bashir and requests an emergency medical team.
In the infirmary, Bashir informs Odo that his mass and density are in a state of fluctuation, but is uncertain of the cause. The doctor insists that Odo remain in the infirmary, as movement may encourage the destabilization. Odo grudgingly agrees.
In the wardroom, Benjamin Sisko, Worf, Jadzia Dax, and Kira Nerys view a transmission from Klingon Chancellor Gowron. Gowron refuses to return captured Cardassian territories. He also demands that the United Federation of Planets withdraw from its starbases and military installations in the Archanis sector, despite its unimportance and previous relinquishment by the Klingon Empire. Dax states that several diplomats have informed her that several Federation colonies near the Klingon border are calling for a preemptive strike against the Klingons.
The senior staff is troubled by the growing prospect of war, but realizes there is little they can do, Archanis is a long way from the station. Suddenly, Kira bursts into a fit of sneezing. The sneezing is a result of her recent pregnancy. She is asked if Bashir can help, but states the doctor currently has his hands full with Odo's unknown illness. The crew agrees to leave Odo alone to rest, knowing that he values his privacy.
In the infirmary, Kira visits Odo. Odo doesn't want company, but is happy to receive that day's criminal activity report from Kira. Noticing something on the PADD, Odo leaves the infirmary for a docking port. He encounters a Boslic freighter Captain named Rionoj, whom he suspects of attempting to steal the Falangian diamond. Unfortunately, as Odo prepares to arrest Rionoj, he is struck by the illness again, this time becoming completely liquid.
Now back in the infirmary, Odo is in a near constant state of instability (primarily in the midsection) and admits to Bashir he is having difficulty maintaining humanoid shape. Bashir estimates that Odo will not be able to maintain solid form in one or two weeks. Bashir gives Odo the option of going to Bajor (to Doctor Mora Pol) or Starfleet Medical, but Odo insists that only the Founders can truly help his condition.
In his office, Sisko discusses the mission to take Odo to the Founders' new homeworld with the senior staff. They will enter the Gamma Quadrant uncloaked and transmit signals explaining their mission. Major Kira initially wants to go with them, but agrees to remain behind because of the pregnancy.
Now aboard the Defiant, Sisko grants a request made by Garak to come aboard. Garak explains to Sisko that he wishes to ask the Founders about the crew members of several Cardassian warships that went missing during the failed attack on the Founders. Sisko agrees to allow Garak on the mission so that Garak can distract Odo during the mission with a concoction of innuendo and half-truths regarding Garak's (alleged) past as a Cardassian spy.
On the way to the Defiant, Odo meets Quark, who predicts he will own the station by the time they get back (as well as a 60% increase in his smuggling profits due to Odo's absence); Odo warns Quark not to get too comfortable because he will be back. Odo then walks unaided across the Promenade as dozens of people watch his departure.
The Defiant leaves for the Gamma Quadrant. Garak occupies Odo's attention in the infirmary by telling him tales of his previous experiences, including his time as a gardener at the Cardassian embassy on Romulus during a period where several prominent Romulan officials died under suspicious circumstances. O'Brien tells the rest of the Defiant's bridge crew how he feels outnumbered now that Kira has moved in with Keiko and him and wishes Bashir would move in to even the numbers. The Defiant then meets and is surrounded by dozens of Jem'Hadar fighters.
A request is made for someone from the Dominion to meet on the Defiant to discuss the request that was being transmitted. Before arrangements could be made, the Female Changeling and three Jem'Hadar soldiers beam directly to the Defiant's bridge. One of the Jem'Hadar soldiers attacks O'Brien by grabbing his chest until the Founder orders everyone to stop.
The Female Changeling, representing the Founders, says she has come for Odo and that he must go with her to the Great Link. As she is reluctant to reveal the location of the Founders' new homeworld, but respects Sisko's loyalty to Odo when he refuses to leave the Gamma Quadrant without him, one of the Jem'Hadar named Amat'igan will pilot the Defiant while a device is installed that will keep the navigation system from recording their destination.
The Female Changeling visits Odo in the infirmary. They join and Odo is visibly much better and more stable than before. She then insists that they speak alone. During the discussion, it is apparent that the Founders have been keeping Odo under surveillance and knew he was not well. She admits that they made him ill so that he would be forced to return to the Great Link to be judged.
The Female Changeling tells Odo that he is to join in the Great Link, open his thoughts so that they can judge him for killing another Changeling, the first time the Great Link has ever had to render such a judgment on a Changeling. She also admits that only the Great Link can truly heal him of his illness.
In a corridor, Garak and the Female Changeling discuss the possibility of Cardassian survivors from the earlier attack; she responds that the attackers, Garak, and all of Cardassia is dead for attacking the Founders and warns that retaliation is coming soon.
The crew discusses ways to maintain a transporter lock on Odo while he is in the Great Link, but, given his devotion to justice, he insists that the crew does not try to rescue him when he is being judged, despite O'Brien warning that the Dominion's idea of justice seems far different than Odo's.
Once at the Founder's homeworld, the Female Changeling, Odo, Sisko and Bashir transport down to a small rocky island that is completely surrounded by the Great Link. The Female Changeling walks into the "ocean" and, with a short glance and a smile back at Sisko and Bashir, Odo follows.
While waiting, Sisko stops Bashir from absentmindedly trying to skip a rock into the "ocean".
Worf catches Garak in a junction of a Jefferies tube in an attempt to control the Defiant's phasers and quantum torpedoes. His plan is to commit genocide by destroying the Founders' homeworld; although the Defiant and its crew would not survive, Garak argues that it would be a small price to destroy the Dominion threat and save the Alpha Quadrant. Worf defeats Garak in hand-to-hand combat, commenting that he fights well… for a tailor.
Back on the planet surface, the Defiant crew sees Odo being ejected from the Great Link to the shore of the rocky island. He is not wearing any clothing. Bashir scans him and says he is getting strange readings – lungs, a heart, a digestive system… It's as if Odo were Human. The Female Changeling walks out of Great Link and says that Odo has been judged. She states that his punishment was to give him what he wanted: he has been made a solid. She then tells Sisko to take Odo and leave their home immediately.
Back aboard the Defiant, Bashir takes a blood sample (type O negative) from Odo. The only thing unchanged is his face, which Odo realizes is meant to perpetually remind him of what he has lost now that he has become a solid.
The Defiant returns to Deep Space 9. Odo is in Garak's shop and purchases a uniform similar in appearance to the one he adopted while able to change form, albeit slightly itchy from the Inkarian wool. Odo realizes that some of the rest of his unease is due to being hungry, yet another sensation he did not possess while a changeling. As he is about to escort Garak to be confined for six months for attempted sabotage and assaulting Worf, Chalan Aroya enters Garak's shop and offers to help Odo in any way now that he is a solid; Odo still doesn't ask for a date but does respond with a broader smile than when he was first introduced to Aroya.
Odo leaves his office and meets Sisko in the Promenade; when Sisko suggests Odo is rushing his recovery, Odo insists that he must work: when he was in the Great Link, he finally understood the Founders, their hostility and distrust of solids, everything. But as soon as he experienced it, it was snatched away from him, leaving his job the only thing that he has left in his life. On the Promenade, a message from Gowron is displayed. Gowron states that a Klingon task force is to be sent to the Archanis sector in ten days and warns that any Federation stations or ships remaining in that sector will be destroyed. Sisko places the station on combat alert and asks Major Kira to alert the Bajoran Militia.
Suddenly Odo realizes something: during his time in the Link, the Founders were trying to hide certain things from him. One of those things was Gowron. This can only mean that Chancellor Gowron is in fact a Changeling.
"If Gowron is willing to go to war over the Archanis sector, then he has become even more dangerous than I thought."
- - Worf
"Two, three; I say she stops at seven."
"I say eight. Mr. Worf?"
(finally stops sneezing after eight sneezes) "I hate being pregnant."
- - Dax, Sisko, Worf, and Kira, while Kira sneezes
"Benjamin, somebody has requested permission to come on board."
"Who is it?"
"Tell him the ship is off limits to Cardassian spies."
- - Dax, Sisko, and Worf
"Personally, I think Starfleet should allow their officers more latitude in accessorizing their uniforms, Hmm? You'd be surprised what a nice scarf can do."
- - Elim Garak
"But where you offer kindness, I offer mystery. Where you offer sympathy, I offer intrigue. Just give me a seat next to Odo's bed and I'll conjure up enough innuendos, half-truths, and bald-faced lies about my so-called career in the Obsidian Order to keep the constable distracted for days - and if there's one thing Cardassians excel at, it's conversation!"
- - Elim Garak
"I think you did this to me. You caused my illness so that I'd be forced to come home."
"As I said, I wish the circumstances of this meeting were different. You killed a Changeling, Odo."
"He was trying to kill my friends. I had no choice."
"Of course you had a choice. And you chose to side with the solids. To protect them, you were willing to violate the most sacred law of our people."
"No Changeling has ever harmed another."
"Until you. That's why we forced you to return home... to enter the Great Link and be judged."
- - Odo and Female Changeling
- - Sisko and Bashir as the latter had forgotten what the Great Link was and was about to skip a rock in it
"And what of the captain and Odo and Dr. Bashir?"
"They'll die. And when the Jem'Hadar find out what we've done, so will we. But what of it, Worf? What are our lives compared with the entire Alpha Quadrant?"
- - Worf and Garak
"Come now Mr. Worf, you're a Klingon, don't tell me you'd object to a little genocide in the name of self defense!"
- - Garak
"I am a warrior, not a murderer!"
"What you are is a great disappointment."
- - Worf and Garak
"You fight well... for a tailor."
- - Worf, to Garak after subduing him
"I don't think Gowron gives a damn about Archanis. He's just looking for an excuse to rattle his saber. The question is... why?"
- - Benjamin Sisko
"They're dead. You're dead. Cardassia is dead. Your people were doomed the moment they attacked us. I believe that answers your question."
"It was a pleasure meeting you."
- - Female Changeling and Garak, regarding survivors of the failed Obsidian Order/Tal Shiar assault on the Founders' first homeworld
"Oh, poor Odo. Perhaps we should have killed you. It would have been far less cruel." (to Captain Sisko) "He is yours. Take him and go."
- - Female Changeling
"You know I envy you, think of all the wonderful food you'll get to enjoy for the first time."
- - Garak to Odo, regarding Odo being hungry
"During the Link, I sensed that the other Changelings were trying to hide things from me. Faces, names. One of them was him."
"What are you saying?"
"I'm saying that he's one of them! Gowron, the head of the Klingon Empire, is a Changeling!"
- - Odo and Kira
Story and script
- "Broken Link" is unique for a Star Trek season finale as the story for the episode came from a freelance writer, George Brozak, rather than the writing team. The episode's first draft script, submitted on 29 March 1996, was even written by him, though he eventually took credit for writing only the story, with the writing staff turning out the final script. (Information from Larry Nemecek) Robert Hewitt Wolfe elaborated, "We saved [the story idea] for months and then incorporated it with the Gowron revelation." The writers had first thought of Gowron being a Changeling when breaking the story for "To the Death". Wolfe commented, "When we were talking about 'To the Death', we talked about twenty different missions the Jem'Hadar could go on with Starfleet. One of the missions we talked about is that they would have to go and kill Gowron because they find out he's a renegade shapeshifter. We played with that for a while and it didn't quite come together, so we went back to the original story. That idea – that Gowron was a shapeshifter – made a lot of sense to us, so we incorporated it into that ending to give the season ender a kick." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 121)
- The logic behind setting Gowron up as a Changeling only to subsequently reveal that the real infiltrator is Martok was to enable the writers to end the Klingon war. By having the Federation "save" the Klingons from the Changeling, the cordial relationship between the two powers could be renewed, and the writers could get back to where they were heading with their original conclusion for season 3. René Echevarria explained, "We wanted to close the chapter on the Klingon war, and get back to what the franchise had been, which was Cardassians and Bajorans." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. 357))
- Chalan Aroya was originally written to be a recurring character. The producers wanted to give Odo a love interest while he was a Human and Aroya was supposed to return in the fifth season as that love interest. However, after watching this episode, the producers felt that she wasn't right for Odo, and so they abandoned the concept until the episode "A Simple Investigation", where the character of Arissa was introduced as a one-show love interest. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. 356))
- Mary Kay Adams also auditioned for the role of Chalan Aroya. Adams commented: ""I really am a huge fan of Rene Auberjonois, so I was excited about that. I had gone in for the producers to read for this Bajoran character, but in that session I saw a lot of the guys I had known from my first time on the show, and they were all wonderful and said, 'We were actually thinking about bringing Grilka back.' And sure enough, the next season they brought me back". 
- This episode was filmed between 11 April and 19 April 1996. (Information from Larry Nemecek)
- Odo's final pose on the rocky island is reminiscent of Michelangelo's painting of Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Of this scene, actor Rene Auberjonois said, "I was trying to convey Odo's amazement. All these emotions that are going through him, what it must be like suddenly to have a body and feel things inside him and outside him, and all the senses, like smelling and tasting, which he's never had before. I was a newborn adult. It was wonderfully challenging, trying to communicate all these feelings. It was exhilarating for him, yet at the same time he was terrified, filled with a great sense of loss. He's lost something of himself, but he's gotten something else." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. 355))
- Of Odo's walk to the USS Defiant, Rene Auberjonois explained, "The last thing he wants to do is show weakness in front of the people he's sworn to protect. My image for the walk was Alec Guinness in The Bridge on the River Kwai. That's what the scene was about to me. A person trying to hold himself together." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. 356))
- The comment Garak makes about Chalan Aroya's dress ("a thing of beauty is a joy forever") is from Book 1 of Endymion by John Keats, who is also mentioned in "The Muse".
- Returning for a third appearance, Leslie Bevis' character is finally named in the script (but still not onscreen) for this episode: Rionoj. Bevis previously appeared as the character in the season two opener "The Homecoming" and in the season three episode "The Abandoned".
- This episode is a sequel of sorts to the third season finale, "The Adversary", insofar as it is here that Odo receives his punishment for killing a fellow Changeling in that episode. He regains his shapeshifting ability in the fifth season episode "The Begotten".
- This episode sees Odo officially disgraced and rejected by his people, making him the fourth regular character alienated from his race as punishment at present, the other three being Worf ("The Way of the Warrior"), Quark ("Body Parts"), and Garak (prior to the start of the series).
- This is the first appearance of the Female Changeling since "Heart of Stone".
- Dialogue in this episode implies that it was the Great Link that caused Odo's ailment, not Section 31; the script for "To the Death" reveals that Weyoun infected Odo with the virus that afflicted him here when he clapped Odo on the shoulder after he rejected Weyoun's invitation to rejoin the Founders, making his illness here different from the virus created by Section 31. This was not how the scene was filmed, however, as that point in the conversation was filmed with a tight focus on just Weyoun's face, leaving Odo's point of transmission unclear, as his only other physical contact with a member of the Dominion was the Odo-initiated handshake the Leyton Changeling in "Homefront".
- Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko) does not appear in this episode. This is the only season finale in which he does not appear.
- Ira Steven Behr commented, "I think [the episode] is a strong ending to a strong season. On a certain level it's a character piece. We were a little worried about that, whether we should go bigger. "The Way of the Warrior" became such a burden, to an extent, because we did have such a big budget for that, and the audience expected us to go out with a bang. Well, we did, but it was a different bang and, as I said, we wanted to do something that brought the season full circle. I think we did that and I'm glad we did." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 121)
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 4.13, 18 November 1996
- As part of the DS9 Season 4 DVD collection
Links and references
- Rene Auberjonois as Odo
- Michael Dorn as Lt. Commander Worf
- Terry Farrell as Lt. Commander Dax
- Cirroc Lofton as Jake Sisko
- Colm Meaney as Chief O'Brien
- Armin Shimerman as Quark
- Alexander Siddig as Doctor Bashir
- Nana Visitor as Major Kira
- Salome Jens as the Female Changeling
- Robert O'Reilly as Gowron
- Jill Jacobson as Chalan Aroya
- Leslie Bevis as Rionoj
Special guest star
- Sam Alejan as sciences officer
- Ivor Bartels as operations officer
- Patti Begley as Bajoran officer
- Ivy Borg as Rita Tannenbaum
- Brian Demonbreun as command officer
- Dorothy Hack as Bajoran woman
- Charlie-Olisa Kaine as Kelly
- David B. Levinson as Broik
- Karlotta Nelson as Bajoran woman
- Chuck Shanks as Defiant security guard with Garak
- James Lee Stanley as Bajoran security deputy
- Unknown performers as
2368; ability; Alpha Quadrant; Archanis IV; Archanis sector; assassination; bacterial infection; Bajor; Bajorans; Bajoran Militia; Bajoran sector; Bajoran wormhole; Battle of the Omarion Nebula; blood; Bolians; Boslics; Cardassia; Cardassian embassy; Cardassian Empire; Cardassian warships; career; Celestial Cafe; Chancellor; Constable; criminal activity report; Dax, Curzon; Curzon's diplomatic corps friend; day; Defiant, USS; Defiant class decks; density; digestive system; Dominion; Dominion airspace; Edosian orchid (Edosians); embassy; Falangian diamond; Federation; Federation Council; Federation Diplomatic Corps; Federation-Klingon War; Founders; Founders' new homeworld; Gamma Quadrant; gardener; God; Great Link; headache; heart; holosuite; Human; humanoid; Inkarian wool; Jem'Hadar; Jem'Hadar attack ships (unnamed); Khitomer Accords; Klingon; Klingon Empire; lab rat; law enforcement officer; lung; mass: mating ritual; medical bay; medical console; medical scan; medical tricorder; menopause; Merrok; military installation; molecular structure; Mora Pol; morphogenic virus; murderer; nausea; navigator; O-negative; O'Brien, Keiko; O'Brien, Molly; Obsidian Order; Pakleds; poison; preemptive strike; proconsul; Promenade; protoplasm; puberty; Quantum torpedo; radio-nuclides; Romulus; specific density; Shakaar Edon; subcommander; starbase; Starfleet Medical; status quo; task force; transporter; transporter accident; transporter bay; transporter buffer; transporter lock; transporter pad; transporter range; Ustard; virus; warrior; year
- "Broken Link" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Broken Link" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Broken Link" at Wikipedia
- "Broken Link" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
|Star Trek: Deep Space Nine