Reviews and analyses originally printed
in the ORACLE newsletter, April 2008
An O/K Fan's Support of Season Six's "His Way"
by Donna Monro
Some liked it, some didn't. Some felt it was a rushed way to speed the Odo/Kira relationship along. I not only enjoyed the episode, but am happy to offer my support.
Many shows have offered the matchmaker character to throw others together. I'm glad that they used a character like Vic--I found him enjoyable and much more plausible than, say, Quark.
I do believe that Odo and Kira would have needed some serious prodding. Odo would have been far too shy after his behavior toward Kira during the Occupation. After what happened, he would have been relieved that she didn't hate him. Given Kira's Resistance background and her hatred for traitors/collaborators, I believe Odo felt himself undeserving....and perhaps told himself that he should be happy with what he had. He's inflicting his own punishment. Kira, on the other hand, is following Odo's lead. He's giving nothing away. No romantic overtures. My guess is that she's pushed it away from her mind and is enjoying the status quo.
In "Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night," there is a conversation between them that is highly interesting, especially if the viewer pays attention to Odo and how he is watching Kira:
Odo: Is there something else on your mind?
Kira: Meaning what?
Odo: Meaning I talked with Dr. Bashir. He told me that you seemed irritable - I see he's not exaggerating. [Beat] Would you care to tell me what's bothering you?
Kira: I appreciate the offer, Odo, but I don't think talking about it is gonna help.
Odo: Sounds serious.
Kira: It is.
After a long moment, Odo replies, "Well, if you won't talk about it, perhaps you should consider doing something about it." Now, on the surface, this seems like a meaningless conversation. Or, at least, a platonic one. But, if you watch Odo as he's eyeing Kira, he's clearly trying to tell her something here.... and perhaps trying to read her. He doesn't know what the problem is, why Kira is acting as she is. The matter of Kira's mother is kept in confidence with Sisko. What he does know is that Kira is reluctant to share it with him, when she's come to him in the past with other personal issues, romantic involvements included. Odo would no doubt surmise that it pertains to him, and perhaps thinks that by suggesting Kira resolve the issue he is shyly giving her an open door to make the first move. She told him that she can't talk about it (after all, they had tried talking in the past without much luck), so he would be relieved if she was the one who initiated things since he would still be too reluctant given what happened during the Occupation. It's Odo's body language and voice inflection that add a different perspective than a surface friendship scene.
Three episodes later, we have "His Way."
Upon my first viewing of the episode, the introduction to "His Way" didn't leave any initial impression. But after sitting down with fresh eyes and watching the episode again, I saw new meaning. Vic Fontaine sings "You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You" which strikes a chord, seeing as how Odo's name means "nothing." Odo confesses in "Heart of Stone" that knowing Kira made him feel more than "nothing." Going back to the introduction to "His Way," Odo is relaxed while watching Vic and it is obvious he is enjoying the music. Kira observes him, a smile on her face. In response to this, Odo looks down, almost afraid to meet her eyes. Is he aware that she is studying him?
Vic Fontaine comes over to the group, introduced by Bashir. Vic is a fully aware hologram, who specializes in social interaction and matters of the heart. He's also a great reader of body language and has a charming, tell-it-like-it-is attitude. He easily reads Dax and Worf's newlywed nuances, O'Brien's loneliness for his wife, and then stops short in front of Odo and Kira. He is about to say something casual, and changes his mind, much to Kira's relief and Odo's curiosity.
The gang leave the holosuite and discuss possibly getting together the next evening. Kira bows out, explaining that she will be leaving for Bajor. Dax accidentally blurts out the reason Kira is going to Bajor--to visit First Minister Shakaar, Kira's ex-lover. The conversation changes then, as Bashir asks if the visit is for "business or pleasure"--the exact reason Kira hadn't brought Shakaar up at all. Instead of explaining the reason, Kira storms off, frustrated as Dax hastily apologizes and trails after her. Odo is left in the bar with Bashir and O'Brien, shocked and convinced that Kira is about to reconcile with Shakaar. This misunderstanding is an integral part of the plot: his jealousy.
Quark's visit to Odo's office is a reminder of the general perception of Odo--cold, rigid, remote. The Ferengi chides Odo on missed opportunities, getting Odo to admit reluctantly that it has been over a year since Kira and Shakaar broke up. This scene is important, because it reminds the audience that Quark is very much aware of Odo's feelings for Kira and sees just how much this unrequited love affected Odo's behavior. He has been aware of Odo's feelings since "Crossfire." Apparently, he's also aware that Kira has learned of Odo's feelings.... and is observant enough to tell Odo, quite confidently, that Kira has been waiting for Odo to make his move. Grudgingly, Odo asks his nemesis for a favor.
Odo goes to visit Vic in the holosuite and gets the hologram to elaborate on the observation he never said aloud: "You're crazy about the broad but you're afraid to do anything about it. And she thinks of you as a friend." Odo laments about Shakaar, and Vic casually says that Shakaar isn't Odo's problem--Odo himself is, referring to Odo as "Nanook of the North":
Odo: You think I have no emotions? Believe me, I do. It's just I don't always show them."
Vic: Therein lies the problem.
Vic sets Odo up for two dates, one with a woman named Melissa who is overwhelmingly flirty toward Odo and obsesses on his hands. Odo, not used to this attention and a little uncomfortable with it, demurs away and Vic tells him that Melissa will help him practice. Odo's other date is Lola, a sexy lounge singer with Kira's face, voice, and body.... who happens to desire Odo, and presents him with a rare fantasy.... the chance to embrace her. Odo is sorely tempted, and embraces Lola but breaks away as he almost succumbs to his urge to kiss her. He can't do it. She looks like Kira, but she isn't. She's different in all the ways that he values about her.... and we're reminded that it isn't merely Kira's beauty Odo loves, but her personality as well. He leaves the holosuite, expressing his disappointment that he hasn't achieved anything toward winning Kira--the real Kira.
Odo catches Kira on the way to the holosuite and reverts back to "Nanook of the North." Kira asks him if anything new had happened on the station while she was gone, and he quickly says no. She then expresses her disappointment. Odo retreats to his office (ironically, from the same direction he came) and it's obvious to the viewer, and to Kira, that he was anxious to get away from her. Kira goes to the holosuite for her own program--Bajoran meditation.
Now we have the ultimate set-up. Odo has run away from Kira, demonstrating that he is still not yet ready to ask Kira on a date. Kira has no idea what causes this reaction to her, especially if he's supposed to still be in love with her (which we know he is).
Vic Fontaine is the perfect character to intervene. He goes to Kira and invites her to dinner, with Odo, on Odo's behalf. She's reluctant and Vic makes the observation that she and Odo were made for each other. Kira tries to change the subject, but to no avail. She agrees to the date with Odo. The hologram then goes to Odo and tempts Odo with a new, improved Kira hologram--with Kira's identical appearance, voice, and personality. Intrigued, Odo agrees.
Odo and Kira's date, to me, was a great milestone for them. Looking at Kira on their date, it is apparent that she feels attracted to Odo.... and admits to him that she is nervous, primarily because it is their "first date".... a momentous admission. It's not just any date, but their first date. The two talk and Odo seems to have finally melted, personality-wise. Perhaps this is what Kira's been waiting for all along. Odo, of course, is comfortable because he does not know he's romancing the real Kira.... when, ironically, he's doing just fine. Better for him not to know in this case.
Right on cue, their matchmaker begins to sing "I've Got You Under My Skin" and the meaning is clear, the song perfect for the two of them. Odo asks her to dance and Kira demurs, doubtful of her ability. He gently explains that there's only one thing she has to do: stay close. It is dancing that allows Kira to see even more of Odo, of what she never saw in him before. During this dance, as they are getting closer, Kira mentions to Odo other places they could go together.... confirming that she's thinking of dating Odo on a continual basis. Given the fact that she also says that she understands why Quark's would be uncomfortable for him, she has given this some thought in the past.
Some have criticized the fact that Odo couldn't tell it was really Kira. If you suspend disbelief, you can see it through his eyes. He thinks he's safe with a hologram, that if he messes up he can just shrug it off and try again. He also has no reason to believe that the real Kira would ever be in a holosuite.... with him in a romantic setting when he never asked her. Lola didn't believe she was a hologram, so when Kira is genuinely shocked and doesn't believe what he's saying either then that maintains his belief that she is truly a hologram and is not as self-aware as Vic is.
Now we come to the point of no return. Odo and Kira learn of Vic's duplicity and are left stunned. Odo is too embarrassed to explain, and Kira is disappointed.... she thought, like Odo had in his own way, that they were finally getting somewhere. What had been a great night was suddenly ruined, but the effect it had upon her was unbreakable. She feels the same about Odo that he does about her. Most likely, she had for a long time and never admitted it.
The argument between Odo and Kira was crucial, not merely as a catalyst for their kiss, but to lay aside any remaining doubts Odo had about her feelings for Shakaar. That is what stops them on the Promenade, when Odo curtly asks if Shakaar would approve if he and Kira were to go on dates. Kira puts her hand out to stop him, explaining that Shakaar is a friend.... just a friend, that her visit with the First Minister had been a war briefing, not a romantic reconciliation. This frees Odo, and he no longer is aware of where they are.
The sexual current flows stronger through the argument. They talk about what would happen on their next date, and surprisingly, it is Odo who first speaks of a kiss between them: "And after that, I suppose you'll expect me to kiss you!" This indicates not only his desire, but he's both reading hers and asking at the same time.
"It's possible," she counters, her voice raised.
"Well, then who needs dinner? Why don't I just get it over with and kiss you right now?"
Kira's reply: "Well, why don't you?"
Boom. Onscreen perfection. Odo grabs Kira and kisses her passionately. Kira grabs Odo's arms and pulls him toward her, as if to keep him from breaking away. It is, in every sense of the word, a mutual kiss. This kiss is primal, needy. It is apparent from the portrayal of their very first kiss that Kira felt this way toward Odo for a long time, not merely since the night before.
They come apart and study each other. "You're right," Kira whispers, "Who needs dinner?" They kiss again, with a sexy saxophone in the background and Vic's voice singing "I've Got You Under My Skin." Upon seeing this scene for the very first time, live, I was giddy beyond belief. It still has the same effect on me almost ten years later.
The Odo/Vic epilogue was a little anti-climactic, but was better than putting in an extra post-kiss scene in the episode for Odo and Kira, which after the momentum of their first kiss would have seemed bland. I much preferred the second kiss and how it continued on. The Odo/Vic scene did serve one purpose though--to say with certainty that after the kiss, Odo got the girl.... which is just fine for this Odo/Kira fan.
I was concerned that the Odo/Kira relationship would be forced into backburner status and all we would see would be hand-holding or scenes with no real meaning. Odo and Kira proved they have a mature and loving relationship. The writers gave "His Way" a nice homage in "Image in the Sand":
Kira: When did you turn into an optimist?
Odo: It must've been that day in front of Quark's when we kissed for the first time.
Kira: That was some kiss, wasn't it?
Odo: Changed my life.
"His Way" changed everything for Odo/Kira fans, who finally got to see their dream unfold onscreen. Sure, we wrote of the first kiss they would have and what would lead up to it. But the writers had their own vision and RenÚ and Nana delivered those wonderful moments from the "I've Got You Under My Skin" dance to the passionate Promenade kisses. With the excellent writing and acting, I give it my support and my applause. I cheerfully smile and wish Odo and Kira, in their own fictional universe, a very happy tenth anniversary as an official television/novel couple.
"His Way" Review and Collected Perspectives
by Mary Shaver
Hallelujah! After six long, grueling years, Odo/Kira fans were FINALLY rewarded for their patience and perseverance. The wait was FINALLY over. Our favorite couple FINALLY became a couple! That it happened in a holosuite, and that the vehicle for their getting together was a musical comedy, was something no one could have predicted.
This will be the shortest synopsis ever. The plot, such as it was, was borrowed from the old tried and true formulae that has been around since Shakespeare and updated as musical comedy in Vaudeville--that of mistaken identity. Watch any of the old Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers musicals from the '30s and you will know what I mean, as they were nearly all variations on the same theme.
Prelude to a Kiss
- In an interview in 2002 Ira Behr said that he decided at the end of "The Search" (season three opener), that Odo would be returning to the Great Link at the end of the series. Period. Amen. Whatever happened to Odo over the next five years, whatever personal growth of the character, whatever bonds or relationships he formed, his ultimate fate was already sealed.
- TPTB toyed with both Odo and the viewers for over four years with the thread of Odo's unrequited love for Kira. Since it had been established that Odo would be leaving for the Link at the end of the series, somewhere in season six, someone woke up and smelled the raktijino and realized that for Odo's leaving to have any emotional punch, he needed to be leaving something important, namely Kira. Only one problem, Odo and Kira weren't together. Solution--get them together, some how, some way, but better do it fast.
- Ira Behr had a penchant for inflicting his own adolescent (sometimes puerile) fantasies on his viewing audience in the form of such characters as the Intendant and Bashir's version of James Bond. Evidently, another of his fantasies was to be part of the Rat Pack in 1960s Las Vegas. In James Darren, Behr found his perfect alter-ego. The ink wasn't dry on Darren's contract before Vic Fontaine and his 1960s Las Vegas Lounge was dropped on viewers, rather like Dorothy's house was dropped on the Wicked Witch of the East. We never saw it coming. And since TPTB needed to get Odo and Kira together, so they could bust them up later, why not kill two birds with one stone? Hence the evolution of what we now know as "His Way."
- Buildup? Buildup? We don't need no stinkin' buildup! It was always fun, as Odo/Kira fans, to watch for scenes of them together, or even apart, and unearth the subtext that revealed so much about their feelings and their relationship. This was especially true in the early seasons, and probably reached its zenith in the third season. Then along comes the sixth season, which began with the Dominion Occupation Arc and was rich with these two characters and the ups and downs of their relationship. However, by the time of "You are Cordially Invited.... " and the infamous off camera closet scene, it all came to a crashing and inglorious halt. The viewers were deprived of a pivotal moment between Odo and Kira. Their discussion in the closet would determine how (or even, if), they would relate to each other from that point on. Since we didn't get to listen in on the conversation, we would have to discover for ourselves the state of their relationship based on how they interacted in subsequent episodes. Not so. For the next twelve--count them, twelve--episodes, Odo and Kira have collectively about a minute of on-screen time together, and that collective minute is made up of a very few measly scenes that are completely devoid of chemistry. Gone is the snap of sexual tension that fairly leapt off the screen during the Dominion Occupation Arc. Gone is the sibling-like affection and camaraderie that marked their relationship of the early years. Gone even is the palpable discomfort after Kira learns that Odo is in love with her.
In "Resurrection," the episode that immediately followed "You are Cordially Invited.... " Kira has a brief but torrid affair with the Alternate Universe Bareil, who in this incarnation plays a charming rogue. You would expect to see at least a glimpse of an angst-ridden Odo reacting to this (for him) devastating turn of events. Instead, in his only scene, we get the remote, detached Changeling who calmly observes the "uncanny" resemblance of the AU Bareil to Vedek Bareil, Kira's long-dead lover.
In the wasteland of these dozen episodes, the only notable exception are a few seconds in "Waltz" when we get a hint of Odo's and Kira's old unspoken conversation in their body language. Does it come as any surprise that this episode was directed by RenÚ? It was almost as if the writers, embarrassed by their enormous gaffe, hoped that by ignoring the Odo/Kira plotline, the viewers would miraculously suffer some sort of corporate amnesia and forget that the story arc that climaxed in the non-scene in the closet had never been adequately dealt with.
Then the house fell on us in the form of "His Way."
What should have been the natural outgrowth of the ripening feelings of Odo and Kira for each other instead, when viewed critically, comes off as a coldly calculated move designed to achieve a predetermined ending.
Notwithstanding the aforementioned complaints, if not for the vision, and the creative spirit, and the high standards set by the writers, and producers, and all TPTB, we wouldn't be here, nitpicking DS9 and its characters. This love/hate relationship between the fans and the writers exists in large part for the very reason that they were so good! They set the bar so high, and achieved what they set out to do so often, that we became spoiled. Anything less than near perfection was a disappointment.
Did the writers lose their way for awhile with the Odo/Kira story thread? Absolutely. But those same writers gave us Odo and Kira in the first place--characters who were rich and textured and complex. Our dissatisfaction was a product of our frustration over what we considered so many lost opportunities. I suppose this is one of the reasons fan fiction is so popular--it steps in and fills the void left by the writers.
Impossible as the story premise seems, "His Way" amazingly and weirdly works. The opening scene in Vic's lounge, where Odo is nodding in time with the music, and Kira reacts with such amusement and affection to his unconscious movement, gives us everything we've been looking for since "You are Cordially Invited.... ." Namely, Odo and Kira have found their way back from the brink. They have both reached the emotional place where their relationship can believably take the next step.
One of the biggest problems for the writers was exactly how to get these two prickly, acerbic, stubborn and fiercely independent people together. As Vic so correctly states: "Talk about your cranky aliens. You two (Odo and Kira) really are made for each other." Odo is too racked with self doubt and crushing shame to make the first move, and Kira is determined to wait to be swept off her feet. Any conventional device for jump-starting their romance simply won't work and remain true to the characters. This makes "His Way" the perfect vehicle for propelling them into intimacy. "His Way" gives Odo and Kira a magical, surreal setting where they are permitted to shake off their rigidity and see each other in a whole new light. This is especially true for Kira, whose obtuseness is by now legendary.
Nothing in this story should work, but somehow it does. Odo, the last person you'd think would be tempted into a holosuite, goes to hologram Vic Fontaine for help. For Odo, it's now or never with Kira. In the year since Kira has learned of Odo's feelings for her, nothing has happened to push their relationship forward. The events of the Dominion Occupation and Odo's temporary defection to the Founders have further complicated a relationship that has by now taken on Rube Goldbergesque qualities. Now Major Kira is planning a trip to Bajor and Jadzia Dax has fueled Odo's jealousy with her less-than-subtle insinuation that the purpose of the trip is to reignite her romance with First Minister Shakaar. Odo has already felt the sting of Shakaar's beating him to the punch with Kira, back in season four's "Crossfire." Shakaar boldly stepped into the romantic breach where a cautious Odo feared to tread. The threat of history repeating itself, complete with Odo's suffering another "Crossfire"-like meltdown, is what finally goads him into action. Vic has already demonstrated a certain intuitiveness when it comes to romantic relationships. Add to that the fact that he's a hologram, albeit a self-aware hologram, and Odo can feel a little less nervous about revealing his feelings and requesting Vic's assistance.
Of course Vic pegs the problem right away. It's Odo. He needs to release his feelings, "let those emotions bubble to the surface," and show Kira how he feels, not just tell her. And so the transformation begins, from uptight, repressed Changeling to suave, sophisticated lover. Off comes that drab, ugly uniform and on goes a stylish (and sexy) tuxedo. Vic encourages Odo to "play" at playing the piano, he sets up hologram dates with attractive women to school Odo in the art of social conversation and flirting. He teaches Odo how to dance, but most of all, he teaches Odo how to open up, become more relaxed, more human. He teaches Odo how to have fun.
And Odo willingly plays along. But Odo's also not a man so easily self-deceived. He never loses sight that this is, after all, only an illusion, and the "people" with whom he is so easily interacting aren't real people at all. This becomes evident when Vic produces a hologram (Lola Chrystal) who has all the physical characteristics of Kira, but none of her personality. Odo can't even bring himself to kiss her, despite her obvious desire to be kissed. Frustrated with his own self-imposed limitations, and embarrassed that he even thought this foray into the holosuites could change anything, he stomps out of Vic's lounge.
At this point, it surely became obvious to Vic that no mater how much Odo could act like "Romeo" in the holosuite, he was never going to move beyond "Nanook" in the real world--at least as far as Kira was concerned. As a testament to this, compare the Odo who has become relaxed to the point where he can absently hum a tune while waiting for Sisko to review his dataPADD, and even continue to sing once he's been made aware of his unconscious actions, and the Odo who runs into Kira upon her return from Bajor. This Odo is awkward, stumbles a bit over his words, doesn't know what to say, and ultimately flees from her. Odo is proving to be a really tough nut to crack (but with such sweet, sweet fruit inside).
So Vic changes his tactics and embarks on a new strategy.
1. Kira needs to be recruited into Vic's scheme, but she also must remain ignorant of that fact. By manipulating Kira into the holosuite for a date with Odo, Vic hoped to show Kira an Odo she'd never seen before. A poised, relaxed, charming Odo. An Odo who presented himself as a definite love interest.
2. The mistaken identity plot device needs to be employed. The only way Odo is going to be "Romeo" is for him to believe the Kira he is having dinner with is a hologram. So Vic tricks Odo by saying he's upgraded the Lola hologram ("she walks like Kira, she talks like Kira"). This is, of course merely a contrivance to "get you two lovebirds together." I seriously doubt that Vic ever intended for his ruse to succeed. Indeed, had it succeeded, it would have thrown things into even more confusion. Kira would have expected Odo to act in the real world the way he acted in the holosuite, but Odo, thinking he was with a hologram and not the real Kira, would no doubt have treated Kira like "Nanook," and not like the charming, sexy, confident guy he portrayed in the holosuite. In fact, the trick had to be exposed, because it showed Kira that Odo was simply never going to have the courage or the bravado to make the first move. If she wanted to move the relationship from friendship to love, she would have to take the bull by the horns and do it herself. If she waited for him, she would be waiting forever. To her credit, Kira understood what had to be done, forcing the issue with Odo the next morning right in the middle of the Promenade!
Throughout the course of their relationship, viewers have been given unprecedented access to Odo's inner thoughts and torment over his unrequited love for Kira. But we've seen precious little of how Kira views the relationship. Even before the writers gave Kira a lobotomy in season four that manifested itself in her being oblivious to Odo's obvious love and devotion, we were never really privy to Kira's thoughts about Odo. What we saw were her actions and reactions to him. So it is hardly surprising that a "moment of clarity" was the only explanation the audience was given for Kira's sudden change of heart, as revealed to Dax the morning after the disastrous date of the night before. Personally, I believe Kira has had a latent attraction to Odo for years (I'd pinpoint it at the moment they prepare to beam up to the Defiant at the conclusion of "The Search, Part 2"). What Kira needed was the right trigger to fire off all that suppressed passion--and I believe the firing pin hit the bullet right in the middle of their dance. It was a fatal shot of love that went straight into her heart!
What is interesting, and certainly delightful to watch, is Kira's swift and decisive action in response to her "moment of clarity." And this is completely in keeping with Kira's character. She is more a woman of action than words. But here there is a departure from her previous interactions with Odo. Always before Kira demurred to Odo's fierce privacy about himself. She never pushed the boundaries they had established years before. Now she literally chases him down on the Promenade and batters away at the barriers Odo has erected around himself. She marches along beside him, making it impossible for him to escape her. When she rejects his suggestion that they talk in a safe, neutral place (his office) and insists they go on another date, he starts throwing obstacles in her path, which she repeatedly kicks aside. As he becomes more desperate, she becomes more insistent. As their voices rise and the tension mounts, you can see Odo's embarrassment giving way to anger, as they begin to hurl challenges at each other, until that last, prophetic challenge is met ("Why don't I just get it over with and kiss you right now?" "Well, why don't you?"). I've always thought of that first kiss as a continuation of this battle of wills, as each fiercely fights to win the field. When they pull away, Kira waves the white flag in surrender ("You're right, who needs dinner?"), which leads to the second kiss, tender and passionate and loving. We couldn't ask for more!
The episode winds up in a very fitting way. After the sheer intensity and passion of that kiss, anything else would have been a letdown. A morning-after bedroom scene (ala "A Simple Investigation") could never have lived up to what we got from The Kiss (although I for one would have loved to see something like that in a later episode!). What we do get from the final scene, where Odo goes to Vic's holosuite lounge to thank him for his help, is the knowledge that he and Kira are still together, and apparently still a hot item. And in keeping with Odo's character, we also hear him voice his uncertainty over the future ("Who knows how long it will last?"). It's something we can all relate to in the infancy of a new romance--love and hope, fear and anxiety.
"His Way" works, although exactly why it works defies explanation. To quote a song from Vic's era, "It was just one of those things.... "
"(I) think holosuites are a complete waste of time."
Kira to Dax in "Second Skin"
While Kira may dislike holosuites in general, I have a problem with these "time-specific" holoprograms. Star Trek and its siblings provided the viewers with an imaginary scenario of what the universe might be like 400 years in the future. Yet time and again, we are pulled back to our own time through various gimmicks--time travel, alternate universes, etc. One of the more popular devices used was that of holoprograms. And while the audience has the comforting familiarity of a living memory of such things as Las Vegas in the '60s, it is frankly absurd to presume that the people who inhabit the 24th century would be able to relate on any level to this time period. Even more absurd on a show like Deep Space Nine, where so many of the characters aren't even human! It is like asking us to share a collective fond remembrance of the life and culture and society of China in the 1600s. Huh? Yet we are expected to believe that all these people 400 years in the future reminisce to the point of creating holoprograms about James Bond, and Las Vegas and Davy Crockett's Alamo (this notion is exploited to even greater and more ludicrous extremes in Star Trek: Voyager, but that's another story). It is certainly not the most egregious thing the Star Trek writers have ever done, but it rings hollow for me. Perhaps I suffer from a case of Kiratosis (a profound lack of imagination), but for me it comes up a big zero on the believability scale.
My own recollections about the episode probably don't mirror many of you reading this. Unlike most of you, I wasn't a dedicated DS9 viewer during its initial run. I was a fan of Star Trek, but for some reason had never managed to get into DS9. I would consider myself a casual viewer back then. If I was home and it was on, I watched, but I was by no means emotionally invested in the show or any of the characters. Oddly enough, though, I have a vivid recollection of a handful of shows I did see the first time around, and they all centered on Odo. "Heart of Stone," "Crossfire," "The Ascent," and "Chimera" come to mind, as does "His Way." Even without an intimate knowledge of the back story of Odo and Kira, I remember watching this episode and feeling as if I'd been swept away on some magical carpet ride. The word enchantment springs to mind when I think of how I felt as I watched the events of "His Way" unfold. When they move into the dance to Cole Porter's magnificent "Under My Skin," I thought I would positively melt, and The Kiss--well.... that speaks for itself.
Having seen the show numerous time since then (I had to watch it quite a few times to write this review), I continue to be delighted by the way it transports me to some fairy-tale land of magic and wonder. But when I turn my practical, engineering mind to the episode, I must admit I am less enamored.
Without question, there's a lot to like about "His Way." It is slick and stylish, has a good, tight script and Jimmy Darren, in his debut as Vic Fontaine, does a masterful job. The episode is full of wonders, from Odo's piano-playing, to Lola/Kira's steamy rendition of "Fever," to the fantasy date we thought we'd never see. Vegas in the '60s is perfectly captured, and we find ourselves toe-tapping to the marvelous standards of the era. It's nice to see our favorite characters playing in a different environment (albeit an illusionary one), an environment that's relatively opulent, especially compared to the dark grittiness of the Station. They complement their surroundings by shucking off their dull Bajoran uniforms and donning pretty clothes. It's silly and superficial but fun, and let's face it, how often do we get to see Odo and Kira having fun?
So why does a little part of me feel offended by this episode? The best explanation, I believe, is that "His Way" somehow cheapens the feelings between the characters, taking Odo's deep and abiding love for Kira and turning it into a musical comedy hour. "His Way" is jarring when contrasted with other Odo/Kira episodes, which are heavily laden with complicated themes and gut-wrenching emotions. Episodes like "Necessary Evil" (especially that last scene), "Heart of Stone," "Crossfire," "Children of Time," and the whole Dominion War arc, notably "Behind the Lines." These stories give full weight to the characters and their feelings, taking their emotions seriously. "His Way" takes those serious emotions and turns them into something that makes us want to laugh, and I'm not at all sure that doesn't do a disservice to the characters.
I could still watch "His Way" scores of times and never grow tired of it! (Do I sound like Mullibok's two headed Margorian?)
Since this is the 10th anniversary of the initial airing of this life-changing episode for Odo and Kira, I asked ORACLE and RAFL members to jot down their memories of watching this show for the first time, and how they see it now, ten years on. Think of this as a journey down memory lane.
Ten years? 10? One Oh??? Not possible!
Truth be told, most of what I recall about that time has to do with the technical problems we encountered while trying to kiss in full prosthetic makeup. That, and how strange it felt for Nana and I, who were very close friends, but not in the slightest romantically inclined. Often it's easier to "act passion" with someone you don't know very well.... does that make any sense?
I'm sorry if you hoped for some deeper remembrance of what seems to have been a meaningful and affecting moment for a large part of the Star Trek audience. But we were "in the middle of it" with all the paraphernalia and hubbub that goes with making a film. You had the advantage of observing and experiencing it on the level it was meant to be felt. I envy you that "suspension of disbelief."
From Miriam Krause:
I really enjoyed watching "His Way" again last week, for the first time in a number of years (six? ten?). I had only vague memories of the episode before watching it again, but my hazy impression was definitely positive. I remembered the "clinch" at the end, mostly because of Rene's stories about his makeup peeling off all over Nana's face; I also remembered the Kira hologram's performance of "Fever." Other than that, I'd forgotten most of the details of the episode, though there were a few things (specifically Odo fidgeting with the little paper umbrella, and shortly afterward morphing into his tuxedo outfit) that strongly resonated with my memory as soon as I saw them again. And I remembered the general outline of the story--Odo starting to overcome his reserve, Kira having an epiphany, and the ruse that brought the two of them together on that first date (though I'd forgotten that Vic was the mastermind!). So there was a sense of coming back to familiar and pleasant territory as I rediscovered the story.
Because I already knew the general outline of the story, I was able to appreciate some of the details a little more than if I was seeing the episode for the first time. For example, the very first lines in the show are lyrics sung by Vic, and I think they do a nice job of summing up the episode's themes. The song includes the lines, "You're nobody till somebody loves you/ so find yourself somebody to love." Obviously, in many ways, Odo and Kira are both quite fulfilled Somebodies; however, they each come to the realization in this episode that they would rather love and be loved.
There were lots of other fun things in the episode, but the only thought I had that might actually qualify as insight involves Odo's character development. It occurred to me that the main element of his growth in the episode was that he learned that he could have multiple roles and still be true to himself. Before this, a core element of Odo's integrity was that he pretty much behaved the same way in all contexts and with all people. There were a few occasions in earlier episodes when the audience got to see Odo play, but I think this was the first time Odo got a sense that he could play with other people: first Vic and the band, then Sisko (singing in his office), and finally Kira. This realization, that Constable Odo was not necessarily inconsistent with Fun Odo, was a revelation that I think was healthy for Odo in general and necessary for the development of his relationship with Kira in particular. This transition started with Odo asking Vic near the beginning of the episode, "What does fun have to do with Major Kira?" and continued throughout the episode to the end, when the prospect of playing piano with Vic's band is appealing rather than horrifying to Odo as it was initially.
Overall, my positive impression of the episode was entirely supported by this re-watching. I enjoyed all the little details, funny and touching and clever; and I enjoyed the overall story as well, particularly knowing its resonances both forward and backward throughout the series.
If you had asked me ten years ago, I would have asserted that "His Way" was a waste of time and film stock. From the pilot episode up until the fifth season I had faithfully recorded, watched, and archived every episode of Star Trek: DS9. Every week was an excruciating one hundred and forty four hour wait for the next forty two minutes of nerdgasmic bliss. But then starting sometime in season three, my passion for the series slowly began to dwindle until I stopped watching entirely in the middle of season five (circa 1997). As a fiercely independent female, I was deeply offended by the entire "taming of the shrew" process that they put poor Kira through (which began shortly after Peter Allan Fields left the show). Perhaps I could have gotten over that if there hadn't also been such a sharp shift in writing style and character focus between the third and fifth seasons. At the time, this bold move in the wrong direction was enough to make me stop watching my favorite television show.
I finished college, wandered a bit, got a job, moved into my own place, lost a job, moved back to my parents' house, got bored, and inevitably rediscovered DS9. The first time I ever watched "His Way" was in my basement, with naught but Buffy the ancient cocker spaniel for company. I got a hold of a VHS copy.... this has got to be what.... 2001, or 2002. So I sat there and watched, cringing frequently, shaking my head, and chuckling humorlessly. The 360 Degree Kiss was, and still is, my favorite moment in the history of the show, but in the end, I was thoroughly disappointed at the hackneyed, cheeseball way they'd finally canonized this royal Trek couple. On a whim, I purchased the entire DS9 series on DVD on eBay, by way of Hong Kong, to see what else I'd missed. Evidently, not much.... with the notable exception of "Chimera" in the otherwise awful seventh season.
Since then, I have re-watched "His Way" several times. I still feel like it's a half-assed pat on the shoulder of the O/K fan by the writers, and I resent that. It could have been so much more. I have come to appreciate one thing however; that puzzled look on Nana Visitor's face as she strolls down the Promenade (immediately preceding moment of clarity #2). It's the same depth of expression/emotion that she reached at the end of "The Siege" (the scene in the Council of Ministers which mirrors her earlier orb vision). To borrow a familiar turn of phrase "...it has been my observation that she is a director's actor--most capable when guided by a strong artistic hand." A truly brilliant director/writer cares for the actors and their characters like their own offspring.... if only they hadn't relegated Kira to the proverbial position of "red-headed stepchild."
I would guess that the delay to get Odo & Kira together had more to do with actors versus writers versus management drama behind the scenes than anything else. Part of the problem is the round robin wiki-esque format in which Trek is and always has been written. Ideally, the finest writers would move to the top and try to fill the shoes of the departed master(s). Apparently something went haywire in between season 3 and 4 of DS9 and Star Trek: First Contact and the subsequent movies. I've heard people give that something a name--"Brannon Braga"--but that's beside the point. Without competent supervision, character growth stagnates and continuity is virtually nonexistent.
As for using Vic Fontaine as the foil to get Odo & Kira together.... I actually enjoy that aspect of Vic's character--he's the classic trickster god character archetype. He follows in the fine tradition of Tremaine, Q, and, to a much lesser extent, the Prophets. I do think that a woefully clueless couple like Odo and Kira would need someone to intervene and smack them upside the head with happiness. Why Dax never did the damn job is beyond me... Zhian'tara or no Zhian'tara.
From Marguerite Krause:
The first time I saw "His Way," I was delighted.
At that point, as we were approaching the end of season six, I had long believed that Odo and Kira had the potential to be a great romantic couple. As far as I was concerned, it had been obvious for years that they loved each other. The only question was when, if ever, they'd come to the point that they would, or could, act on their mutual attraction.
I believed in the possibilities of the relationship for several reasons. First, as far as I was concerned, Odo's utter love and devotion for Kira were beyond question. Second, Kira certainly loved Odo. Up to that point her feelings hadn't been romantic, true, but to me it seemed that, with the right impetus, her deep, steadfast affection for him, all her loyalty and admiration and sincere regard, would reach the tipping point and, possibly quite abruptly, blossom into fierce, full-blown, passionate love.
Third, I believed in the possibility of Odo and Kira as a romantic couple because I believed that the writers of DS9 had, despite their own better judgment, gotten hooked on the idea. By the sixth season, although they'd certainly produced a few "clunker" episodes, for the most part the writers had done a great job of creating and following through on interesting, innovative storylines and complex character development. And yet, despite all the fascinating twists and turns they'd taken as the DS9 universe evolved, they couldn't seem to get away from the subject of Odo and Kira's love. They kept returning to it, approaching from different angles and then bouncing off on various tangents. But it seemed clear to me that the idea had lodged itself in their brains and wouldn't leave them alone. So, when "His Way" first aired, I can clearly remember sitting and watching the episode with a big smile on my face. The idea of an intelligent, self-aware hologram had already been introduced and used on Next Gen, so I didn't have any trouble accepting the existence of Vic. And I thought it fit Odo's personality perfectly that he would go to a hologram for advice, because who else could he turn to? He was too proud--and cautious and insecure--to reveal his doubts and vulnerabilities and most intimate hopes and desires to any of his friends and colleagues. A sad statement about the nature of his relationships with those people, but one that rang perfectly true.
Looking back, several scenes stand out in my memory. I loved the early conversation between Odo and Vic, with Odo closely examining a little paper cocktail umbrella as he begins to explain his problem. I also loved the moment when, a day or two after Odo had started his evening "lessons" with Vic, Odo began humming to himself while standing in Sisko's office, waiting for Sisko to read a report. I remember thinking that that was exactly the way I would expect Odo to sing: his "la-la-las" were rhythmically stilted but generally correct, his voice gruff but his pitch accurate. We'd seen hints in earlier episodes that Odo enjoyed listening to music, even if he had no inclination to use it to creatively express himself.
Having Odo hum a tune he liked to pass an idle moment was a great way to show that he was beginning to learn a few things from Vic. Sisko's delighted and ultimately supportive reaction was also perfect: it was obvious that he had never expected to hear this most serious and businesslike of his officers singing an old Earth song, but after his first exclamation of surprise he didn't press Odo for explanations, but simply shared his pleasure in the music.
One scene I remember not liking was the one where Kira was meditating in a holosuite, and Vic came in to talk with her and invite her to come to dinner with Odo. I didn't mind that Vic had blithely transferred himself from his own program to a neighboring one; as I said earlier, Next Gen had established the idea of intelligent holoprograms manipulating their own environments, so I was willing to accept Vic having abilities that, maybe a little too conveniently, moved the plot forward. My problem was the idea of Kira using one of Quark's holosuites to perform her meditations! It had been pretty clearly established over the years that Kira thought holosuites were frivolous at best, as when used for Dax's dress-up games, or, where Quark was involved, plain disgusting. The thought of her using a holosuite for a private, spiritual ritual made (and still makes) no sense to me.
However, I got past that distracting moment and thoroughly enjoyed Odo and Kira's first date at Vic's. I thought they both behaved perfectly in character, given the situation as they each differently understood it, and it was (here's this word again) delightful to watch Kira's dawning wonder, and pleasure, at discovering so many new things about her longtime friend. Then, when Odo discovered that he'd been baring his soul to his best friend, not a clever computer program, I thought his reaction was perfect, from surprise to dismay to angry embarrassment, written with exquisite sparseness and performed flawlessly by RenÚ, as Odo says, each time increasing his physical distance from the woman he loves, "Nerys! Kira! Major," and then flees.
Finally, and inevitably, when I think of this episode I think of The Kiss. I loved that scene because, again, it fit what we'd come to know of both characters throughout all of the previous seasons of the show. We'd seen both Kira and Odo lose their tempers and shout at each other before this. We'd also seen, as recently as earlier in this episode, Odo not want to discuss something and Kira drop an uncomfortable subject out of respect for his privacy and dignity. Their argument on the Promenade was that tipping point in their relationship that I'd been waiting for for so long. Vic had taught Odo to loosen up and let his true emotions show (even if only in the safe cocoon of the holosuite), and Kira had an opportunity to finally, clearly see those emotions, and then acknowledge how they made her feel. The "Who needs dinner?" attitude was just what you'd expect from a ruthlessly practical law officer and a no-nonsense former resistance fighter.
The first kiss seemed like an act of desperation, two long-time comrades throwing themselves off a cliff together, not sure of the outcome but trusting each other totally, if not with their physical lives then certainly with their souls. It's the second kiss--The Kiss--that left me grinning from ear to ear, because at that point it's clear that these two flawed, scarred, imperfect individuals have finally found the courage to admit and share their love.... .and, knowing how stubborn and persistent they both could be, I had no doubt at that point that the relationship would continue and develop from there.
I've rewatched the episode several times over the past ten years, and I still love it. I know that it's a relatively "light" episode surrounded by the many far more serious subjects that the writers were exploring around that time, about war and loss and morality and sacrifice. But, for me, and given its built-in limitations, the episode works. "His Way" sets itself up to be the story of Odo struggling to express his love for Kira, and I think it treated its subject with sensitivity, humor, and some pretty shrewd insight into Odo's personality. When, in the end, he succeeds in expressing himself, and is rewarded by having his feelings not just recognized and respected but returned, the viewer shares his sense of triumph.
Then there's the coda: Odo goes to thank Vic for his help, and reveals that he's happy, while simultaneously admitting that he doesn't know how long his and Kira's happiness will last. Talk about the perfect DS9 ending! Once again, the writers remind us that there is much beauty and joy to be found in life--but no guarantees. All we can do is do our best in each moment we're given. If that's not one of the fundamental, overarching themes of the entire series, I don't know what is. Uplifting, courageous, hopeful, pragmatic, bittersweet.
Excellent episode. Excellent show!
From Christine Bichler:
I actually traveled out of town in order to watch this "His Way" with a small group of Odo/Kira fans in Chicago--all of us fan-fiction writers--when it first aired. In that context, my first viewing of the episode was almost magical, and I think we all felt that way. In some sense we were seeing fanfic-our fanfic-come to life before our eyes. In that sense, "His Way" was an almost unbelievable wish-fulfillment, especially given the vagaries of the television industry. Odo and Kira on an actual date with all the iconic romance trappings: wine, music, candlelight, dancing, Kira in a sexy red cocktail dress, Odo in a tux. What could possibly have been better? Suffice it to say that many of the fans watching that show that first time were, to put it mildly, ecstatic to see the outcome that we had been waiting for (and in some cases, actively lobbying for) for years.
Subsequent, somewhat more dispassionate viewings of "His Way" have allowed some personal nitpicks to creep into my assessment of the episode, though. While I like Vic Fontaine as a character, I've never been certain that he truly "belongs" in the DS9 universe--enchanted fairy godmother that he is--and I really don't care for some of the more omnipotent/omniscient aspects of his character. While Vic is charming, it still seems vaguely insulting to me that Odo and Kira more or less have to be tricked into that first date-though one could argue that there's a precedent in Benedick and Beatrice of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, another pair of "older" lovers who need to be coerced into confronting the obvious. Still, I can't help but wonder, after all Odo and Kira had been through, together and separately, prior to season six, would it really have been so out of line to finally, simply have Kira realize that Odo is more than a friend to her? She seems on the verge of such a realization as early as "The Search" (season three), but then the writers seem to yank back all of that emerging consciousness on her part, and for the next three seasons they pretend they were just kidding there.
Of course, given Star Trek's incredibly bad track record of coming up with solid, believable romances, let alone between regular characters, the fact that we actually got as far as "His Way"--and all the stuff that came after it--is still pretty amazing. Yet with hindsight it is also obvious that Ira Behr only threw these characters together as a kind of stunt--because he wanted the dramatic tragedy of separating them at the end of the series--not because he really believed in the larger possibilities of their relationship the way we fanfic writers and readers did. That aspect of the onscreen Odo/Kira storyline always makes me feel just a bit cheated, and to this day, I feel that if viewers of the series want to see that relationship truly explored in all its potential depth, fan-written fiction remains their best option.
All that said, I have yet to run into any Odo/Kira fans who absolutely hated "His Way," and most truly adore the episode on its own terms, even those who, like myself, may be less than wholly satisfied with it. There does seem to be a subset of general DS9 fans who dislike "His Way," though to me that group has always seemed composed mainly of fans who hate the whole idea of Odo and Kira as a couple to begin with. (And when I think of those folks, there's a happy/bratty little voice in my head going: "neener, neener, neener!" in a really immature way.)
The most controversial aspect of the show, for us "shipper" fans, seems to be Kira's reference to having a "moment of pure clarity" in the show's closing moments. That line has drawn a lot of fire from fans over the years, and I've never fully understood why. Certainly it's more than a little vague, and it's annoying that Kira can't seem to articulate her feelings any better than that. On the other hand, once Peter Alan Fields left the show after season two, no one on DS9 seemed able to make Kira articulate anything to my satisfaction (with a few exceptions, like her spectacular infirmary confession to Odo in "The Darkness and the Light"). I was more than happy to infer my own meaning into Kira's remarks about "clarity," but it was pretty maddening that, even after that, Kira actually speaking her feelings for Odo doesn't get a lot of play in DS9. In fairness, we see plenty of her loving actions in episodes such as "Chimera," and "Dogs of War." And admittedly, Kira is a character who is much more about action than talk. Meanwhile, the "pure clarity" line has become a kind of ink-blot test in Odo/Kira fandom. People use it to explain their larger perceptions about how the relationship was handled overall. On its own, I don't think the line is that big of a deal; as an example of how Kira's side of the romance was underplayed, it speaks volumes.
From Talia Myers:
To many people, "His Way" is one of the quintessential episodes in the Odo-Kira relationship. But to me, it is so much more. This one episode is responsible for truly introducing me to DS9 and sparking my interest in what was, in my opinion, one of the best installments in the Star Trek universe. More importantly than that, "His Way" cemented my fascination with Odo's character and, in turn, piqued my curiosity for RenÚ's work.
It amazes me that 10 years have passed since I watched my favorite episode of the series. What's even more amazing is that I almost missed it! Unlike a lot of folks here, I wasn't a DS9 fan from the very beginning. I saw the first episode when it aired back in '92 and managed to catch probably five more shows between seasons 1 and 6. The episodes that I did see were inevitably Odo-centric, so the seed for him to be my "favorite" character was planted from the beginning. During the course of several years, I saw "Heart of Stone," "Crossfire," and "A Simple Investigation."
But, it was during a weekend trip home from college in April '98 that I happened to turn DS9 on late one Saturday night. I was ensconced in my bed upstairs, working on a paper and had the TV on for background noise. "In the Pale Moonlight" was playing, and I was paying it minimal attention. But, when it came time for the preview for the next week's episode, I looked up see what was in store. Imagine my complete surprise when "my guy" came on. Not only was it going to be an Odo episode, but it had jazz music, lounge singers, and he was going to get the girl!
I quickly decided that I would make the trip home again the following week (the school I attended at the time didn't allow TV sets in the dorms) so that I could watch the episode.
With much anticipation, "His Way" rolled around, and I was completely enamored with the whole thing. Great music, a fabulous script, Odo stepping outside his comfort zone and loosening up.... it was, as our favorite shapeshifter might say, "Cool!" After that episode, I tuned in to the show faithfully every week. Season 6 flew by, and next thing I knew, Season 7 was here. Although 7 was the last season for DS9, it actually heralded a new chapter for me. It was during the latter half of season 7 that I attended a convention in Illinois and got to meet several RAFLers who have been my friends for close to 10 years now. I was fortunate enough to see RenÚ and Nana perform Love Letters, and I had the distinct pleasure of getting to meet one of the nicest guys around (RenÚ, of course!).
Watching the episode now, I'm amazed at how well it holds up against the passage of time. The interaction between Vic and Odo makes me laugh every time I see it. Odo is so completely out of his element, but it's that vulnerability that makes us root for him and cross our fingers that he'll get the girl in the end. The music still swings; the joint still hops. And that kiss? Call me a hopeless romantic, but I firmly believe it ranks right up there as one of THE BEST kisses of all time.
Screen captures from TrekCore.com