Review by Mary Shaver
"What was I thinking? How could I have fooled myself into believing she could ever love someone like me?"
--Odo to Quark, from "Crossfire"
Odo's unspoken and unrequited love for Kira takes him to the breaking point when he watches in silent agony as Kira is courted and won by another man.
"Crossfire" was a knife to the heart of viewers who were rooting for Odo and Kira.
A number of astute fans claim that they were aware of something between Odo and Kira as early as "Past Prologue" and "A Man Alone" (the second and third episodes of Season 1). Since those first DS9 episodes, clues as to Odo's suppressed feelings for Kira were scattered like a trail of breadcrumbs. The DS9 writers finally picked up the trail in "Necessary Evil" when they cottoned to the notion that Odo was secretly in love with Kira.
Delighted with their new discovery, the writers nonetheless gave viewers only oblique glimpses of Odo's true feelings for Kira. By the time of the big reveal ("Fascination") it was the worst-kept secret out there, with the exception of poor Kira, whose character had the misfortune to be struck by blindness at the hands of the writers.
The "Odo-loves-Kira-and-she-doesn't-know-it" story arc continued to be mined throughout Season 3. Unfortunately for Kira, by the time of Season 4 there was an upheaval on the station that directly and adversely affected her character. The arrival of Worf and the sharp plot turn into the world of the Klingons left Kira with little to do. In a misguided effort to keep her from disappearing into the background, the production staff came up with the idea of sexing Kira up. Gone was the capable, intelligent, intuitive ex-resistance fighter with the military hair cut and the no-nonsense attitude. In her place with a "feminized" Kira with a softer, wavy hairstyle, a catsuit of a uniform, and high-heeled boots. Worse, Kira's previous blindness to Odo's feelings for her was given the full treatment in the form of a lobotomy when it came to Odo. Even the actors were incredulous that Kira could be so clueless.
Against that backdrop comes "Crossfire," an entirely character-driven episode with very little plot.
The opening teaser shows Odo at his idiosyncratic best as he prepares his office for Kira's weekly meeting. Everything is straightened, her Raktijino is ordered and placed on the desk "just so," and meticulously arranged. Satisfied, Odo turns away from the Security door in studied indifference and awaits Kira's arrival, which comes a moment later. From the big smile on Kira's face and what passes for a smile on Odo's, it's obvious these two enjoy each other's company and look forward to this weekly meeting. As Kira sips her raktijino, they go over the Criminal Activity Report, which includes an incident of public lewdness. Their shared ribald humor over a couple caught in the act shows how comfortable they are with each other. A reference to First Minister Shakaar is also made which will have implications later. As they proceed through the report they are interrupted by Quark. Odo is understandably irritated with Quark (when isn't Odo irritated with Quark?) for cutting into his time with Kira. This is surely the best hour of Odo's week and he resents Quark's intrusion. Irritation turns to embarrassment for Odo as Quark complains about the noise Odo makes at night when he is shapeshifting. Evidently Quark's quarters are directly beneath Odo's. Odo is still troubled by who and what he really is and doesn't want it brought up in front of Kira. To Kira's credit, she shows not the slightest discomfort and instead rallies to Odo's defense, demanding that if Quark has a problem he should request different quarters. Once Quark is dismissed, Odo reveals his wicked sense of humor. In response to Kira's comment that Quark was unlucky to have quarters just beneath Odo's, he gives her a maliciously gleeful look and says, "Luck had nothing to do with it."
Despite the "cuteness" of this scene, there are tragic undertones. Odo might not admit it to himself, but he is using his interactions with Kira to woo her. However, without the benefit of humanoid biology and humanoid instincts, Odo's at a severe disadvantage. Couple that with Odo's grinding self-doubt and esteem issues, and success with Kira looks like a longshot. Kira has Odo planted firmly in the "friend zone," and her bout with blindness when it comes to Odo's feelings makes it unlikely that she will see him any differently. To put it in baseball parlance, Odo is trying to turn a bunt into a homerun when he needs to be swinging for the fences. The distinction will become painfully obvious as events in the story unfold.
The plotline upon which this story hangs is the arrival of First Minister Shakaar on DS9 to enter into treaty negotiations as a first step toward Federation membership. Shakaar was introduced to audiences in Season 3's episode of the same name. Shakaar was the leader of Kira's resistance cell during the Occupation and has known her since she was 12 years old. A possible relationship between Kira and Shakaar was hinted at in that episode, but this is the first time we've seen Shakaar since then.
Reestablishing Shakaar as romance material was given the ham-handed treatment in "Crossfire" as Jadzia gushes to Kira about how handsome he is. This frivolity dissolves quickly as Odo contacts Captain Sisko with the ominous news of an assassination threat to Shakaar by a Cardassian splinter group called the True Way. Odo argues in favor of aborting the conference and rescheduling it somewhere else, but having been a terrorist once, Shakaar refuses to capitulate to their tactics. Despite Odo's suspicion that an operative is already on the station, Shakaar and Sisko decide to proceed with the Federation conference. This puts Odo in the unhappy position of having to provide sufficient security to protect the First Minister. It also requires that Odo assume the role of personal bodyguard to Shakaar.
Odo and Worf discuss security arrangements in an amusing scene where each discover how similar they are in areas like the need for order and control over their environment, their shared dislike of social interaction, and ways to discourage visitors who wish to invade their private space.
Odo's need for order comes up again during his first meeting with Shakaar. With security in place, Odo is annoyed when the First Minister announces a change of plans, requiring Odo to plan on the fly. On their trek to the Bajoran temple, Shakaar comments on Odo's prior employment as Security Chief on Terek Nor, working for the Cardassians. Odo stiffens, waiting for the accusation of being a collaborator. Instead, Shakaar speculates that the Cardassians must have thought well of him to give him that much responsibility. Odo isn't quite sure how to take this, but when Shakaar adds that he knows how highly Kira thinks of Odo and that she would trust her life to him, Odo is visibly both relieved and gratified.
By the time they reach the Bajoran Temple, the Promenade is overflowing with people wanting a glimpse of the First Minister and we see Odo in full-on Security mode. Odo's whole demeanor changes and it reminds us of just how seriously Odo takes his job and just how good he is at that job. Once upon a time, Odo's only sense of self-identity was wrapped up in being Chief of Security, first on Terek Nor and then on DS9. He measured his value by his proficiency in his job. When he learned of his heritage, Odo was able to identify himself as a Changeling and while he took some measure of pride in who he was, he was equally uncomfortable with being genetically linked to the Founders of the Dominion. To compensate, Odo placed even more emphasis on his work. He wanted this, and not being a Changeling, to define him as a person. This will become important as events in the story unfold.
Later, at an all-Bajoran reception for Shakaar (not a Star Fleet uniform in sight), Kira finds a cross-armed Odo--still in his Security mode--standing in the background and they engage in some friendly banter. Odo is taken aback when Kira casually asks him why he no longer wears his belt (which showed up early in Season 3 and then disappeared). Odo doesn't really have an answer, except that it was a useless accessory--"It wasn't like I needed it to hold up my pants." Kira's remark that it looked good on him flusters Odo. Kira hasn't ever seemed to take any notice of his appearance before but when she confirms that she meant what she said, Odo is absurdly pleased. Naturally, Odo shifts the belt into place, earning him Kira's approval.
This is the perfect moment for Odo to make his move. The time is right, the mood is right, and everything is set up for him to suggest they get together after the reception is over. Instead, Odo is paralyzed. He doesn't know what to do or say, and he lacks the courage to just take the plunge. In the silence that follows, Kira's eyes are drawn to Shakaar, who is surrounded by Bajorans eager to monopolize his attention. When she tells Odo she is turning in, Odo notices a trace of disappointment and resignation in her voice and expression. Odo, too, is disappointed. He wants to prolong their time together, but simply doesn't know how. Kira is halfway out the door when Shakaar waylays her. Shakaar's hand on her arm and their easy manner with each other dismays Odo. Quark, who is catering the event and is carrying a tray of food, comes up on Odo and takes in Odo's expression and follows his eyes to where Kira and Shakaar are conversing,. Odo is too distracted to pay much attention to Quark's attempts to annoy him. When it appears Shakaar and Kira are leaving the reception, Odo approaches them. He is still responsible for providing security for Shakaar, but he also has a personal interest in finding out if his unhappy suspicions are correct. This exchange isn't lost on Quark as he begins to comprehend the little drama being played out.
At Odo's insistence, Shakaar admits he and Kira are going for a "stroll." In turn, Shakaar insists that there be no security detail, only Odo. Shakaar reinforces Odo's burgeoning fears by adding "…and not too close." They head out of the wardroom and down a corridor with Odo maintaining a discreet distance behind. He can't help but notice the relaxed familiarity between Shakaar and Kira and they lean against each other and their quiet conversation occasionally punctuated by Kira's laughter. When Shakaar places a casual hand on the small of Kira's back, Odo's face falls.
Odo might have a penchant for always thinking the worst, but he doesn't have any real evidence to confirm his suspicions about Shakaar's designs on Kira. That's about to change when the day after the Bajoran reception Odo escorts Shakaar back to his quarters after a negotiating session with Federation delegates. Shakaar is frustrated with the Federation's rigidity on rules and precedent regarding the time it takes to gain Federation membership. Odo is sympathetic, as he's had his own run-in's with the Federation over their inflexibility. Odo is somewhat surprised when Shakaar invites him into his quarters, and even more surprised when invited to take a seat. Odo is cautious but curious about what Shakaar could possibly want to talk to him about.
Now Shakaar might be a novice to the world of politics, but he's been a leader of men and women and certainly no stranger to the subtle nuances often required to gain the trust of others. At their very first meeting, Shakaar placed his trust in Odo to guard his life. He's just praised Odo for understanding the frustrations of dealing with the Federation, and for his political acumen in seeing the need to reduce the time line for Bajoran membership into the Federation. Now Shakaar makes a point of acknowledging how difficult he's made Odo's job and thanking him for his diligence and his patience. Odo takes this praise stoically, but he appears to be waiting for the other shoe to drop. He doesn't have long to wait as Shakaar is about to reveal the real reason he's been buttering Odo up. After a moment of awkward silence, Shakaar brings up Kira and Odo's friendship with her. Although he doesn't know it, Shakaar has hit the weak spot in Odo's armor. Shakaar's motive becomes clear when he wants to know if Kira has revealed any romantic inclinations towards Shakaar. Odo's distress is evident to the careful observer. His posture jerks into startled rigidity and then he shifts uncomfortably in his chair. Here it is--the sum of all Odo's fears. Realizing he needs to think fast, Odo stalls by telling Shakaar he needs to see if he can remember. Of course this isn't necessary. Odo is simply buying time to come up with a plan to dissuade Shakaar from continuing down this path. After a long pause, Odo replies, "No," with a healthy dose of finality in his voice.
Shakaar appears a bit discouraged, but he goes on to extol all Kira's virtues (which Odo has seen and admired in her as well), and Shakaar confesses that he's falling in love with her. This is Odo's worst nightmare, and then Shakaar continues:
"Sometimes I get the sense that maybe, just maybe, she feels the same way. But I could be wrong. I'm afraid that if I say anything, I might ruin our friendship. But if I don't, I could be letting something precious slip through my fingers."
As Odo listens, he nods in agreement. It's as if Shakaar is giving voice to Odo's own thoughts. His despair seeps into his voice as he responds: "It's a…difficult…situation."
Shakaar gives Odo a tiny ray of hope as he tries to talk himself out of the idea of a romance with Kira. While Odo has to admit to himself that he really doesn't know Kira's heart in the matter, he does know he doesn't want to give Shakaar any reason to believe in the possibility. He uses the excuse he's made to himself for the last year. Kira is still grieving for her dead lover Bariel and so it would be inappropriate to make romantic overtures to her. Shakaar hasn't considered this. His first reaction is that he should just be patient. Odo concurs. After all, that's what he's been doing, or at least that's the justification he's made to himself for his own inaction.
Shakaar's moment of self doubt doesn't last long, however. What if it would help Kira get over her loss if she knew someone else really cared about her?
This revelation devastates Odo. After all, he's cared about Kira since before Bariel even appeared. It never occurred to him that telling Kira how he felt would be appropriate. But Shakaar thought of that as a possibility, and now Odo is convinced he's about to act on that notion.
At this point all Odo wants to do is end this conversation. When Shakaar asks what Odo thinks, Odo brushes him off and then agrees with Shakaar that humanoid relationships aren't generally of any interest to him.
While this scene is necessary to establish Shakaar's interest in Kira, there are aspects of this conversation that strain at the credibility of the characters--specifically, Shakaar. The audience was introduced to Shakaar in Season 3 ("Shakaar"). That man was confident in his abilities and even a little brash. After all, he'd been the leader of a resistance group that had wreaked havoc on the Cardassians for years. He had a loyal and competent group of followers who banded together in support when he ran afoul of Kai Winn. When pushed, he stood up to Winn to the point of beating her in the race for First Minister. This was a powerful, supremely confident man.In addition, there was a scene from the episode after "Crossfire," in which Dukat says to Kira:
"I must say, I've always admired Shakaar's success with women. The intelligence file I kept on him during the occupation was filled with reports of his conquests. In fact, if you remember correctly, you were the only female in his resistance cell that he didn't Ôcharm'… at least until now." (from "Return to Grace")
Now no one would put it beneath Dukat to tell Kira a bald-faced lie in an attempt to drive a wedge between Kira and Shakaar (and so improve his own chances with her). However, this sounds like the kind of man we saw in his first appearance.
Juxtapose that image with the man in the above scene. Shakaar comes across as timid and full of self-doubts. The conversation between himself and Odo is almost sophomoric in its "does she like me?" approach. And as Kira's best friend, Odo seems an unlikely confidante for Shakaar. While Odo stays in character, there is nothing in Shakaar's words or demeanor that square with the man who was a ruthless resistance leader and the most powerful man on Bajor.
Devastation turns to mortification when Quark reveals that he knows about Odo's feelings for Kira. Odo and Quark have an association that can best be described as "camaraderie-in-code." Both will go to their graves claiming enmity for one another, yet their gamesmanship and one-upmanship hide underlying feelings neither will ever acknowledge. Quark's suspicion about Odo's love for Kira--validated by Odo's reaction--not only puts Odo on the wrong side of the power curve vis-ˆ-vis Quark, it more importantly brings out into the open one of Odo's most embarrassing secrets.
This scene reveals quite a bit about Quark. In general, Quark is written more as a caricature than a character. This does a tremendous disservice to a really interesting and complicated character. Here Quark is shown, not as a slimy little bastard, but as a man of honor. Quark treats Odo's secret as a serious matter and though Odo is disgusted that Quark might pity his (admittedly) pitiable condition of unrequited love, Quark is genuinely understanding and thoughtful of Odo's feelings. Additionally, Quark never betrays Odo's secret to anyone, reinforcing his unspoken friendship. It isn't surprising that Odo storms out of the bar, enraged both with himself and with Quark.
For Odo, already flummoxed by Quark's knowledge of his secret, hope further erodes when Kira fails to show for their next scheduled Tuesday morning meeting. He checks the time, and it's a certainty that he's done so for every minute after 8:00 a.m. He drums his fingers on the desk and twists around in agitation. When Kira finally blows into his office twenty minutes late, looking harried and apologetic, Odo pulls on the mask of neutrality, as if he's hardly noticed her tardiness. The mask begins to slip, however, when Kira ignores the mug of raktijino with the explanation that's she's already had one with Shakaar--in his quarters. Though she's quick to point out that it was business-related, cracks start to appear in Odo's facade.
The opening scene of "Crossfire" established an air of conviviality between Odo and Kira as they read through the Criminal Activities Report. It isn't known when these meetings began (there is a scene between Odo and Kira discussing security personnel issues in season 3's "Shakaar") but, over time, this weekly meeting has cemented their friendship. They've even developed a sort of "partners in crime" mentality as they laugh at the foibles of the miscreants who have been arrested. It's a pleasant break from the everyday stresses of their respective jobs. In "Crossfire's" opening scene, Kira is leaning back in her chair and has one foot hooked against the desk. This meeting, however, is different. Kira appears somewhat impatient. She sits ramrod straight in her chair. She glances at the PADD and comments that everything seems routine. When Odo tries to elaborate on one of the items, Kira cuts him off. She's too busy, or too preoccupied, and begs off with the excuse that she needs to give Shakaar a tour of the station. The expression on Odo's face after Kira leaves his office is one of despondency and resignation. The way Odo sees it, Kira would rather spend time with Shakaar, and this only reinforces his fears. He might even be hearing Quark's words: "You're in love with her… and what's more, you're worried she's falling in love with Shakaar…."
The task of playing bodyguard falls to Odo as he accompanies Shakaar and Kira on their station tour, and he gets the chance to witness firsthand how a man woos a woman. As Shakaar and Kira flirt with each other in front of the upper pylon viewport, Odo turns away in despair. It's as if Odo is watching a train wreck in slow motion and is absolutely helpless to prevent the carnage that's about to come. He can't look and can't look away. He's aware of what's going on and uncomfortable with what he's seeing. It's also possible that Odo is beginning to understand just how feeble his efforts were to court Kira as he silently observes Shakaar. So consumed is Odo by seeing the woman he loves fall in love with another man that he makes a near-fatal mistake. As the three of them descend on the turbolift, Odo fails to verify Worf's security code when the turbolift is rerouted. The turbolift goes into freefall and only Odo's shapeshifting abilities prevent a disaster.
Odo has to answer to Captain Sisko for the nearly successful assassination attempt. Odo's failure to verify Worf's security code allowed the turbolift failure, and Sisko is incredulous. He voices his profound displeasure and disappointment in Odo, who under any other circumstances would never make such a fundamental mistake. Odo's only explanation is that he was distracted, and that it is a "personal matter." It costs Odo dearly to make this admission to Sisko, and he is understandably ashamed of himself, both for his poor job performance and the reasons behind it. Although Sisko doesn't press Odo, he makes it clear that he expects Odo to deal with his personal matter so that it doesn't interfere with his job.
Rather than heed the Captain's warning, Odo remains distracted as Worf goes over the details of the assassination attempt. While Worf reels off information, Odo sits in his chair and gazes off into the middle distance. Worf, who has as little use for the social niceties as Odo, calls Odo on his inattention. After a few more digs at Odo's questionable state of mind, Odo is roused from his funk. However, instead of concentrating on finding Shakaar's would-be assassin, Odo decides he needs to speak to Kira. Worf expresses his confusion (and scorn), but Odo has made up his mind. The only way he will be able to be effective at his job is to clear things up with Kira.
What Odo finds when he arrives at Kira's quarters is not what he expected. There are several security guards outside her door and Odo discovers they are there because Shakaar is in her quarters, and has been for the last three hours. Odo relieves the security officer on duty and takes his watch. Is Odo doing this to confirm his suspicions about Kira and Shakaar, or is this some form of self-flagellation? Odo manages to accomplish both of these things when he spends the night in front of Kira's quarters. It isn't until the next morning with Shakaar appears. Odo sends one of the remaining security guards off with Shakaar while he uses the excuse of the turbolift incident to speak to Kira. Inside her quarters, Odo spots all the evidence he needs to draw the obvious conclusion. Kira out of uniform, the lights down low, the empty champagne bottle and discarded glasses. Kira notices his observations and confirms his worst fears. She is bubbly and ecstatic (and a little "school-girly") as she sits cross-legged on the sofa and attempts to explain her budding romance. At some point she realizes who she's speaking to and remarks that (sexual relationships) must seem silly to him. It's a reasonable statement. Over the years, Odo has never been shy about expressing his condescension and disdain of humanoid mating practices. Of course we know that's all a front on Odo's part to deflect suspicion that he might have those feelings as well.
Odo's heart is crushed and yet he manages to tell Kira he's happy for her, and perhaps that's the truth. He's never had the courage to reveal his love for her, and she is obviously overjoyed to have found a connection with Shakaar--a humanoid and a Bajoran. Odo could never offer those things to her. Because of Kira's revelation, we'll never know if Odo's original purpose in going to her quarters the evening before was to proclaim his love. Was he a day too late? Neither Odo nor the viewer will ever know.
Totally oblivious to Odo's shattered heart, Kira comes up from behind and gives him a hug. Odo's her best friend and she's so glad he's the first to know about her new romance with Shakaar. Kira's sincere affection is the deepest cut to Odo's already lacerated soul. He has to get away from her now before he risks losing control of his emotions. When Kira brings up the reason he came to her quarters (to talk about the turbolift accident), Odo comes up with an excuse to delay the conversation. He's halfway to the door when he turns around and looks at Kira in a way that could be interpreted as a lover saying his last farewell. Once the door closes and Odo is finally alone in the corridor, he nearly falls apart as his face reveals his emotional devastation.
In the time it takes to walk from Kira's quarters to his Security office, Odo has managed to pull himself together. As he enters his office, a security guard is leading an unnamed alien to the holding cells. Odo asks Worf about the alien and it turns out he was the would-be assassin. Worf smugly details how he discovered and then captured the man, and when Odo asks why he wasn't informed, Worf tells Odo his presence wasn't necessary, but praises Odo for the competency of his deputies. Already reeling from the discovery of Kira's new romance with Shakaar, Odo is now hit with a second blow--namely, that someone else can do his job at least as well, if not better than he can. And Worf of all people.
It's too much for Odo's fragile and fractured psyche. He seeks the sanctuary of his quarters. For a moment he just stares at the paraphernalia in his rooms, looking like a man defeated by life. As he ventures further into his quarters he suddenly snaps and in an impotent rage proceeds to demolish all of his belongings. There's a particular explosion of fury as he hurls the plant Kira gave him against the wall.
When next we see Odo, he is sitting exhausted amid the rubble of his rooms, his anger finally vented. It's the first time the audience has ever seen Odo lose control, and a man so fanatical about order is now a picture of chaos. The few strands of hair hanging out of place around his face is an understated representation of that personal chaos. It was René's idea to add that touch, and it is a visual symbol of Odo's state of mind.
Who better to intrude on this calamity than Quark? He's certainly heard the demolition. Has he barged in on the aftermath of Odo's meltdown simply to complain about the noise, or does he guess at more? Seeing the destruction, Quark baits and berates Odo, but when there is no rejoinder Quark becomes worried. He asks Odo in a concerned voice if he's all right. At Odo's cryptic explanation "You were right," comprehension dawns on Quark about the reason Odo destroyed his quarters. Quark is also quite surprised at the depth of Odo's ability to love. As he says:
"I've got to say, I really didn't think you had it in you. It takes passion to do something like this, and I always thought you were colder than a Breen winter."
Odo's level of despair reveals itself in the following statement:
"What was I thinking? How could I have fooled myself into believing she could ever love someone like me?"
Under normal circumstances, Odo would never disclose this level of vulnerability, especially to Quark, but he is so wretchedly miserable he doesn't seem to care.
Of course, Quark notices this immediately and so changes tactics. Although Odo's explanation for his actions has been his desolation about Kira, Quark might have reason to believe there's more to it. Quark makes it his business to know what's going on around the station, so there's every reason to believe he knows about the apprehension of the "True Way" assassin, the circumstances surrounding that arrest and most importantly, who made the arrest. Quark also knows how important Odo's job is to him and how much pride he takes in it. As long as Odo is wallowing in self-pity his job performance will continue to suffer. Quark might not be able to fix Odo's problem with Kira, but he knows how much of Odo's self-identity and self-worth are tied up in his job and is sure he can use this to lift Odo out of his depression.
Thus is born the Manhunt pool. Is it real or something Quark just thought up? Odo's never heard of it, but I suspect Quarks gets up to a number of business ventures without Odo's knowledge. Becoming quarrelsome, Quark complains that Odo's recent behavior is causing him to lose money in the Manhunt pool. Despite himself, Odo is curious. As Quarks describes it, whenever there's an unusual crime committed on the station, people place bets on how long it will take Odo to catch the perpetrator.
If Odo wasn't in such a low ebb in his life he might be flattered. As it is he remains nonresponsive and so Quark brings out the big guns and gives Odo a dose of the brutal and unvarnished truth.
"Frankly, I don't care whether you and Kira end up living happily ever after or not, I just want the situation resolved. And the way I see it, you've either got to tell her how you feel, or forget about her and get on with your life. Concentrate on the essentials. Because you can't keep going like this. It's interfering with your job… and my profits."
This is the sort of blunt honesty Odo can understand, although he'd never give Quark the satisfaction of admitting it. Instead, he reacts with derision to the importance Quark places on his profits. This only gives Quark an opportunity to drive another point home and buck up Odo's confidence in himself.
"The fact that that pool exists says something about you. About who you are. People see you as the guy who always gets his man. Now you're becoming the guy who tears up his quarters and sits alone in the rubble. And no one is going to want to place bets on how long someone is going to sit around in the dark."
Now this statement gets a reaction out of Odo, one of the first he's shown throughout this scene. He is beginning to recognize that while he can't control what happens with Kira, he can control how he performs his job. Perhaps more importantly, Quark's words have briefly parted the veil, causing Odo to address a subject verboten between himself and Quark--friendship. Quark has attempted to cover his true intentions by claiming he's only acting out of self-interest. Odo quietly calls him on it.
"Funny… for a minute there, I thought you were talking to me as a friend."
Quark gives Odo a look of appraisal, and then denies his conjecture. Neither believes his denial.
At face value, Odo's outburst of emotion seems out of character, but when you consider how tightly wound and rigid Odo is, perhaps his reaction isn't so unusual after all. Because of the storyline's emphasis on Odo's secret love for Kira, it's a natural leap to assume his breakdown was a consequence of losing her to Shakaar. While that played a significant part, I believe it was Odo's failure as Chief of Security that triggered his uncontrolled rage. When Odo left Kira's quarters after learning she and Shakaar had begun a relationship, he didn't return to his quarters. He went to his office. Only after learning the assassin had been captured entirely without his involvement did he suffer an emotional meltdown. It's likely he could have survived either one of these crushing blows individually, but the combination of the two sent him over the edge. When you consider that the tripod of Odo's life were 1) his love for Kira, 2) his job, and 3) his obsession with the Great Link, having two of those legs knocked out from under him all at once make his reaction completely believable. When the third leg was knocked out at the end of the season ("Broken Link"), it's a wonder Odo survived at all. It's a testament to Odo's iron will and steely determination that he found a way to overcome those life-altering traumas.
Quark told Odo he had to tell Kira how he felt about her, or forget about her and get on with his life. Odo evidently took those words to heart, because in the next scene he comes to Kira's quarters and expresses a desire to talk to her about something. The writers were having a little fun with the audience because Odo seems agitated and uncomfortable. He hems and haws and struggles for the right words to say. He gives every appearance of being about to say something monumental. Even Kira notices his distress and gets up from her computer console, looking as if the hammer is about to drop. Is Odo about to tell her how he feels? The pause goes on and on as the camera pans in on Odo's face. The climactic moment arrives as Odo announces… that he's cancelling their Tuesday morning meetings. Even Kira looks dismayed. All that drama and buildup for something this mundane? Odo explains that he's really too busy even when Kira suggests they change the time and/or day to accommodate his schedule. Without knowing it, Kira is backing Odo into a corner. It probably kills Odo to say this, but he finally admits that their meetings are not necessary as the Criminal Activities Reports pretty much speak for themselves. Kira then unwittingly performs a little more swordplay on Odo's heart when she confesses how much she enjoys going over the reports with him and thinking he enjoyed that time together as well. For just an instant, Odo's mask drops. Sincerely concerned about her friend, Kira asks Odo in a soft and worried voice if something is wrong. She can tell that something's amiss; she just can't put her finger on it. She also doesn't quite believe Odo's explanation of using his time more efficiently, but she doesn't press him. As Odo is about to leave, Kira tries to ratchet down the tension that's suddenly filled the room by remarking that Odo is no longer wearing his belt. "Just trying to keep to the essentials, Major," Odo replies. It's another bit of Quark's advice that Odo is taking. Kira doesn't know why, but she can see that Odo is pulling away from her and removing himself from the friendship they shared. When she says, "See you," she sounds wistful and a bit disappointed. The door has closed on their friendship and she has no idea why.
The episode closes, appropriately enough, with Odo and Quark throwing blunted barbs at each other in the bar. After all, appearances must be maintained. Quark mentions that he discovered a work crew in Odo's quarters who were installing sound-proofing in the floor and how touched he is at Odo's thoughtfulness. Of course Odo denies that he's doing it for Quark but they both know this is Odo's way of repaying Quark for helping him through his emotional crisis. At that moment, Kira and Shakaar enter the bar and find a table. They are acting like a newly minted couple who are quite enamored with each other. Odo watches them for a moment and then walks out of the bar. Everything about Odo's mien and bearing say he has moved on with his life and put his feelings for Kira behind him. If we didn't know better, we would all be certain this story arc was over. Odo/Kira fans would have to wait another year for "Children of Time" to come along to revive our hopes.
Screen captures from TrekCore.com