For the first two seasons, DS9 concerned itself primarily with three groups of people: the Bajorans, the Cardassians, and the Maquis. Beginning about the middle of the second season, there were passing references to the Dominion, a mysterious and evil power in the Gamma Quadrant. In the season two closer "Jem'Hadar," the audience is introduced to two of the three players of this power, the Jem'Hadar and the Vorta.
Season Three's two-part opener, "The Search," marks a shift in the DS9 storyline that will carry through the rest of the series, with the introduction of the third and presiding player in the Dominion, the Founders. Bajor and its future become a secondary concern from this point on; the Maquis surface only rarely, and the Cardassians (for a time) cease their meddling. After all, the problems of three little groups of people (to dreadfully misquote that famous line from Casablanca) don't amount to a hill of beans when you have the malevolent and powerful Dominion breathing down your neck. The "dark" Star Trek series gets much darker with the introduction of the Dominion and the events that follow.
Season Two ended with the cliff hanger threat of a Jem'Hadar invasion of DS9 and the Alpha Quadrant. Season Three's "The Search" opens with Kira leading a brainstorming session of the senior staff, playing out scenarios to defend the station against this invasion. Every scenario ends in defeat. The only viable option is collapsing the wormhole entrance, an unacceptable choice. They are distracted by the sounding of claxons, triggered by the return of Commander Sisko from earth. The vessel he commands, the Defiant, sports a cloaking device and more speed and firepower than the ship can handle. The purpose of the Defiant soon becomes clear. Star Fleet has ordered them into the Gamma Quadrant to find the Founders, the leaders of the Dominion. While a peaceful settlement of potential hostilities is their priority, the Defiant will demonstrate Star Fleet's resolve in the event peace is unattainable.
Aboard the Defiant is an unwelcome addition to Sisko's senior staff. Lt. Commander Michael Eddington has been added to the DS9 crew contingent as the head of Star Fleet Security, undermining Security Chief Odo's authority on the station.
The crew heads off for the Gamma Quadrant and succeeds in locating a Dominion Communication center, but is then attacked by a fleet of Jem'Hadar ships. The Defiant is disabled, and boarded by the Jem'Hadar. Kira is injured in the attack, but Odo manages to get her safely to a shuttle. However, instead of setting course back to the wormhole, he heads for the Omarian Nebula, which he finds himself helplessly drawn to. They land on what turns out to be Odo's homeworld, and Odo's lifelong search for his people is rewarded.
As Odo learns about himself and his people, the balance of the Defiant crew make their way back to DS9, only to discover that negotiations are well underway to establish an alliance between the Federation and the Dominion. But Sisko is uneasy with the Federation's easy capitulation to Dominion demands. Ultimately, Sisko and company conclude the doomsday option is their only choice, and they collapse the entrance to the wormhole.
Back on the Changeling homeworld, Kira's inability to get a message past the planet's artificial interference leads her and Odo to a strange doorway where they are met by Jem'Hadar soldiers who escort them to an underground cavern where the Defiant's crew are unconscious and hooked up to a mind-probing device. The Vorta in charge of the experiment explains that they are assessing the level of resistance expected in the event of a Dominion attempt to gain a foothold in the Alpha Quadrant. Odo and Kira are shocked to find Jem'Hadar and Vorta on the Changeling homeworld, but their confusion is quickly expunged as the Female Changeling enters and proclaims that they are indeed, the Founders. To Odo's dismay, the Female Founder justifies her actions with the Defiant crew as necessary because as Solids, they pose a threat to the Great Link. Odo secures their safe release, and then must make a troubling moral choice--stay with his "real" family, or return to the Alpha Quadrant with his adopted family.
At its core, "The Search" is an exploration into Odo's Links.
- His crumbling Link with Sisko and Star Fleet in the wake of Eddington's arrival on DS9
- His deepening Link with Kira
- His burgeoning Link with his people in general, and the Female Changeling in particular
The Odo/Sisko-Star Fleet Link
Kira and Odo are the two ranking Bajoran officers on DS9. While Kira's position as First Officer is secure (Sisko requested a Bajoran First Officer before he took over the Station), Odo's situation is somewhat more obscure.
Odo was offered the job of Security Chief by Gul Dukat when the station was under Cardassian Occupation ("Necessary Evil"). When the Cardassians pulled out three years later, Odo chose to remain on the station. The circumstances that led him to be offered a commission in the Bajoran Security forces when Bajor assumed control of the station are unclear. All we know for sure is that when Star Fleet arrived on DS9, Odo commanded a detachment of Bajoran deputies, and was very much in charge of station security. Whether this arrangement met with Star Fleet's approval is unknown, but subsequent events indicate that Star Fleet was never quite comfortable with the Constable. Lt. George Primmin of Star Fleet Security shows up ("The Passenger"), threatening Odo's authority. It takes Sisko's clear delineation of the chain of command to forestall Odo's letter of resignation. Even before this, in "A Man Alone," Odo is painfully aware of the precarious nature of his position. Sisko confronts him with, "If you can't work within the rules, I'll find someone who can."
Despite this rocky beginning, over the course of the next year or so, Odo and Sisko come to develop a mutual trust and respect. Star Fleet, however, is a different story. When Admiral Necheyev voices her (and Star Fleet's) suspicions about Odo's competence ("The Maquis, Part II"), Sisko vigorously defends his Security Chief.
But Star Fleet is, well, Star Fleet. While paying lip service to the notion of respecting other cultures and species, there is an air of entitled superiority about Star Fleet that isn't quite noblesse oblige, but can be patently condescending to the "natives." Admiral Necheyev clearly doesn't trust the alien shapeshifter with Star Fleet personnel or property and, over Sisko's objections, sends Lt. Commander Michael Eddington back to DS9 to protect Star Fleet interests.
For Odo, this is the last straw. He has been vocal in his criticism of how Star Fleet rules handcuff him in his ability to provide adequate protection to the Station, and when he fails to provide that Security due to the hampering effects of the Star Fleet rules, they accuse him of being unable to do his job. For Odo, already plagued with so much crushing self-doubt, and whose self esteem and identity is almost completely wrapped up in his job, this lack of trust and faith is devastating. Understandably upset at yet another challenge to his position, and feeling like Sisko is covertly in their camp, Odo resigns his position. The perceived betrayal effectively snaps one of the very few links that Odo has been able to forge over the course of his life.
There is a scene with Quark that takes place aboard the Defiant that serves to illustrate just how deeply Odo is affected by Star Fleet's actions. Viewers are used to seeing these two engaging in fairly good-natured banter, but not this time. Quark makes what Odo considers a taunting remark about the Constable "providing security" for the mission. Already humiliated by being relieved of duty, Odo is in no mood to have the Ferengi rub it in. He rounds on Quark with a ferocity that is both frightening and intimidating. It's the sort of loss of control we almost never see from Odo, but it goes a long way toward revealing the level of Odo's distress.
The Odo/Kira Link
It's not by accident that many viewers of DS9 envisioned a relationship between these two long before the idea was conceived of by the DS9 writing staff. From the series premiere "The Emissary," Odo and Kira demonstrate a bond of trust and respect that only deepens as the series unfolds. Kira, fiercely loyal to her friends, goes to bat for Odo time and again. There's a certain irony that in "A Man Alone," when Odo is the prime suspect in the murder of the Bajoran Ibudon, the only two people who actively come to his defense are Kira and Quark. Likewise, Odo often acts as Kira's mentor and advisor, perhaps even her alter-ego. He is her touchstone for burning away Kira's internal conflicts, helping her to honestly evaluate her motives and actions. Their friendship has already survived a major breech of trust, when Kira confesses that she lied to Odo about her guilt in the murder of the Bajoran chemist, Vaatrick ("Necessary Evil").
Never is this bond more evident than in "The Search." In an eerie parallel to the events a year earlier ("The Circle"), when Kira is removed as First Officer and Odo angrily lashes out at its gross injustice, so now Kira expresses her outrage at Star Fleet's idiocy. She contrives an implausible reason for Odo to accompany the Defiant crew as they prepare for their foray into the Gamma Quadrant. Odo sees through the fabrication, but ultimately uses it as a convenient excuse to accompany the crew on its mission. Kira rants and raves to Sisko about Star Fleet's stupidity in its treatment of Odo. And when Odo coolly defies Sisko's order to take his station on the bridge and Sisko has finally had enough of the Constable's surly insubordination, it's Kira who offers to talk to Odo and smooth things over.
Odo's distress is obvious, and although initially reluctant to discuss the matter with Kira, he eventually admits to being drawn to a portion of the Gamma Quadrant called the Omarian Nebula, by forces he doesn't understand and seemingly can't control. It's a big admission for Odo, for whom order and control are paramount. Kira tries to mollify her friend with the offer that she will help him, after they've completed their mission, but that's not good enough for Odo. He needs to leave now. Their conversation is aborted by the Jem'Hadar attack on the Defiant and subsequent boarding of the ship. Odo and Kira fight their way out of Odo's cabin, but Kira is injured in the melee. She wakes up on board a shuttle with Odo, and is dismayed when Odo tells her that the last he saw of the Defiant, she was dead in space, and that they are not headed back towards the wormhole, as she would have thought, but instead towards the Omarian Nebula. They land on the only class M planet, a rogue planet, and are greeted almost immediately by beings who form out of a pool of amber colored liquid. The "leader" of this small contingent addresses Odo with words he has longed to hear his whole life: "Welcome home."
The Odo/Female Shapeshifter Link
If I remember correctly, a few years ago, TVGuide requested an interview with RenÚ, wherein they asked him to provide THE defining moment for Odo. RenÚ in turn solicited the opinions of ORACLE and RAFL members. The overwhelming response was when Odo found his people.
With the benefit of hindsight, we can look back to this moment and feel at least some ambivalence, knowing how this discovery will affect Odo, how he will be racked by his conflicting desires and the devastating decision he makes in the end. But those are for other reviews.
Odo's life up to this point has been dominated by two things--his job, and his obsession with finding out who he was, what he was, where he came from, if there were others like himself. By all accounts, this fixation began soon after he "awoke" in Mora's lab, and has been an ongoing quest ever since. So imagine how Odo must feel when he hears those sweet, sweet words: "Welcome home."
And his rejoinder is equally poignant: "You really are...just like me."
Understandably, Odo is full of questions. Viewed critically, and again with the benefit of hindsight, the answers seem just a little too vague. More on that later. The Female Shapeshifter offers Odo his first taste of the Link, over the objections of one of the other Changelings, all of whom subsequently disappear and do not appear again in the episode. The Link (a merging of their liquid forms together, in this case, only their arms) puts Odo into a trance. When he "comes to," he tells a concerned Kira that he's fine, and then, breaking into a genuine smile of happiness, acknowledges that he really is home.
Odo's next encounter with the Female Shapeshifter comes several hours later in an arboretum designed for a Shapeshifter's pleasure. Kira is with him, and here we get our first glimpse of the colossal arrogance common among Changelings (Odo notwithstanding). Kira questions the Female Shapeshifter's use of the word "Solids." Her reply is both condescending and disdainful: "Our word for monoforms like yourself, who will never experience the joys of the Great Link." She dismisses Kira, both literally and figuratively, and speaks directly to Odo--has he made use of the shapeshifting opportunities offered by the arboretum? Odo doesn't know what she is talking about. She tries patiently to explain, as though she is speaking to a child, and finally concludes, in another sideways slap at the "Solids," that living among humanoids has done him serious damage. He must do more than simply "become a thing," he must "know that thing, understand it's existence."
Evidently this skill is part of what Odo needs to learn in order to qualify for entry into the Great Link. She presses a rock into his hand, and leaves him to contemplate her words.
Odo eventually returns to the shuttlecraft to regenerate. He's frustrated and depressed. He can mimic the various forms, but he still has no idea what being those forms "feels" like. Kira tries to be understanding, but she is as confused as Odo.
After regenerating, Odo returns to the Changeling garden to hopefully learn more from the Female Shapeshifter. The beginning of this scene never made it to the final cut, but is revealing of the evolving relationship between these two.
From the running script (source noted at end of article):
EXT. CEREMONIAL GARDEN--NIGHT (OPTICAL)
The Female Shape-shifter is seated before an ornate water fountain we haven't seen before. She studies it carefully, pleased with what she's seeing. She runs her hand through the water.
(addressing the fountain)
That's very good, Odo. Now don't worry about holding your shape...you will. Just let go. Allow yourself to feel the texture of the stone, the warmth of the water. Allow it to become real to you.
A beat then the fountain begins to MORPH back into Odo.
(watching Odo morph)
How do you feel?
(who has MORPHED back into his humanoid form.)
Like a baby learning to walk.
(off her look)
It's a Solid's expression.
You have lived among them too long.
(Is it my imagination, or is there something decidedly sensual about the way the Female Shapeshifter interacts with Odo in the form of that water fountain? A scene I would love to have viewed!)
Odo commences with more questions, notably, why his people dislike Solids. Odo's own experiences have been that many are kind, decent people. The Female Shapeshifter picks up on this immediately, and asks if he is referring to Major Kira. Odo acknowledges that he is. This seems to confirm her suspicions that Kira is a potential rival for Odo's affections.
More questions from Odo, and more obscure, vague answers. Of interest in this conversation is that part way through, the Female Shapeshifter displays a significant change in her demeanor. Up to this point, she has been patient, serene, some would say almost maternal, in her interactions with Odo. But suddenly there is a shift. She goes all a twitter, tremulous, like a teenage girl about to go out on her first date. Her voice becomes elevated and slightly quavering, and her mannerisms display a nervous flutter. When Odo says, "It's [referring to his homeworld] ...different than I imagined it would be," she responds with what can only be described as a bald faced come-one, riddled with sexual overtones: "Whatever you imagined...I promise, it will be better...." She then initiates what will become a full-fledged Link, as their two bodies liquefy into one. The running script describes their "torsos undulating in liquid rhythm," as they melt together, becoming a "column of swaying shapeshifters...." It doesn't take too much imagination to see what's going on here (canonical evidence for the sexual nature of this encounter can be found in "A Simple Investigation," where Odo tells Arissa, "Once, on my home world, I had an experience you would consider sexual.").
The Odo/Kira Link (continued)
Watching "The Search" is such a joy for viewers who appreciated a Kira whose character was fully fleshed out. In this episode she is the rich, textured character we love--passionate, intuitive, smart, supportive, capable. This is Kira before the writers took it into their heads to give us a dumbed-down version of Kira. This Kira was anything but the obtuse, oblivious Kira of Season 4. It's even possible this Kira might have seen the little signs and mannerisms that Odo let slip about his feelings for her. She might very well have recognized Odo's "love symptoms." "The Search" shows Kira in all her glory as a woman who knows and understands her best friend, is instantly aware of his various moods, and intuitive to his needs. This Kira gives generously of herself with caring, compassion, and affection.
Series viewers are accustomed to seeing Odo in his familiar position: the wall at Kira's back. Guarding and protecting her. "The Search" provides us with the opportunity to see their positions reversed. From the moment they beam onto Odo's home world, Kira assumes the role of protector, as she helps Odo through THE seminal moment of his life. When they first encounter his people, Odo is understandably a little nervous, and so falls back on what he knows best--how to conduct an investigation. He fires off question after question to the Female Shapeshifter in a manner that might be seen as an interrogation. Kira gently reminds him that this, in fact, is not a police investigation, then intercedes on his behalf, telling the Female Shapeshifter, "He really is happy to be here."
When Odo falls into a trance in the aftermath of his first encounter with the Link, Kira, concerned for her friend, demands to know what's been done to him, and then helps him find his way back from his dazed state.
Left alone in the Changeling garden for the first time, Kira senses Odo's anxiety and tries to distract him by commenting on the beauty of the place. She is also intuitively aware that it is she, and not Odo, who is the outsider here. She can easily sense that she is the unwelcome guest. A part of the conversation that follows also never made it onto the screen, but serves to illustrate the genesis of what has been referred to as the "battle for Odo's soul."
Again, from the running script:
If our history has taught us anything it's to avoid contact with Solids whenever possible.
Our name for mono-forms like yourself, who'll never know the joys of the great link.
DELETED PORTION OF SCENE
Well, Odo hasn't been able to "avoid contact" with us and he hasn't done too badly.
I doubt Starfleet Command would agree with you, Major.
The Female Shape-shifter is aware she's discovered a source of tension between Odo and Kira.
Have you enjoyed living among the Solids?
At times...though I never really felt at home with them.
That's because your home is with us.
Unfortunately, I can't say the same about you. We have no place for you here.
I don't intend to be staying long.
It's Kira that Odo goes to in his frustration and confusion over not understanding how to "become a thing." Unable to help him, Kira does the instinctive thing. She goes to those who can help her friend. This is another wonderful scene that wound up on the cutting room floor. This picks up immediately after Odo disappears into the shuttlecraft to regenerate.
From the running script:
We hold on Kira's reaction to his plight.
EXT. LAKESHORE--FIFTEEN MINUTES LATER
Kira stands before the lake of shape-shifters.
Hello? I need to talk to one of you....
Can anyone hear me?
We hold on Kira as we hear a MORPH SOUND EFFECTS cue then --
A NEW ANGLE
To reveal the male Shape-shifter standing behind her.
We hear you, Major. But please be brief. We find the humanoid shape to be...awkward.
I won't keep you long. It's about Odo. He needs your help.
How would you have us help him?
By talking to him...telling him what he needs to know.
In time all his questions will be answered.
And when will that be?
When he's ready to hear them.
And you'll be the ones to decide that?
Who better? After all, he's one of us. We know him.
I "know him" too.
I'm his friend.
The male Shape-shifter steps closer to Kira, and when he speaks it is with a cold animosity.
You're a solid. All you have ever done is teach him how to be like you.
That's not true.
Isn't it? If you really cared about your friend you'd stop interfering and let us do what's best for him.
It's time you went home, Major. Odo no longer requires your presence here.
HOLD ON KIRA
Pondering his words.
This exchange is marked once again by ambiguity regarding Odo. It also reveals that the Changelings consider Kira to be a significant threat to them. They must break the Link between Odo and Kira if they hope to bring Odo into their Link. The words of the Changeling are clearly intended to drive a wedge between them, so that Kira will leave.
Binding and Breaking Links
Kira waits for Odo in the Changeling garden. Presently, a large bird lands nearby and morphs into Odo. The look on his face is one of pure joy and ecstasy. It's a look we hardly ever see. Kira happily shares in his joy, and then they sober, as the realization that they will soon be parting company, probably forever, hits them both.
But she needs his help one last time. She's tracked down the interference preventing her from contacting Commander Sisko, but it's located behind a door, which both find puzzling. Why do shapeshifters need a door? Odo manages to unlock the door and they are greeted by armed Jem'Hadar soldiers, who march them into the depths of the underground cavern, where they find Sisko and the Defiant bridge crew (I haven't reviewed the "dream sequence" part of this episode. Basically, this is a mind probe exercise being performed by the Vorta in attendance and is designed to gauge the level of resistance to an attempt by the Dominion to gain a foothold in the Alpha Quadrant. This plot device may have worked when viewed for the first time--although I personally doubt it. The dream scenario involves the death of Garak, a recurring character, and the collapse of the wormhole, a major "character" in its own right. That simply wouldn't have been done if this was the "real thing." What salvages the dream sequence in my mind is the highly entertaining Admiral Necheyev, whom I always think of as the secular version of Kai Winn. Deliciously wicked).
Shock follows upon shock for Odo and Kira, as the Female Shapeshifter appears in the cavern. Odo is astonished to discover that she knew about the experiment, but Kira cottons to it almost immediately. "You're part of the Dominion, aren't you?" Kira says, in a voice that isn't really a question at all. When the Female Shapeshifter confirms that the Changelings are the Dominion, the scales fall from Odo's eyes, as he says in an agonized whisper, "You're the Founders." After a lifetime of searching for a people he had imagined to be paragons of virtue, Odo learns the devastating knowledge that they are in fact, the evil, malevolent Dominion. Any mere mortal would have been crushed by this discovery.
We learn years later, through Odo's changeling brother Laas, that the only reason Odo isn't with his people in the Great Link is because of his love for Kira. Whether at this time it was principle, or love, or a combination, Odo makes one of the most gut-wrenching decisions of his life, rejecting his people for the Solids. Odo uses an interesting choice of words as he addresses the Female Shapeshifter. "I admit this Link of yours is enticing. But you see, I've already formed a Link...with these people." What does this say about Odo's capacity to forgive? Remember, the one anchor in his life--his job--has been effectively ripped away from him. At the beginning of this mission, he was angry and bitter and consumed by a sense of betrayal. Yet he has somehow managed to overcome those feelings and reestablish his Link with the Solids. Remarkable. Or perhaps it was only ever Kira all along.
(One of the loose ends never cleared up, either in "The Search" or in subsequent episodes, was the way things were ultimately resolved with Odo's position as Chief of Station Security. Lt. Commander Eddington remained as a recurring character on the series for another two years, but Odo returned to his job and there was no further comment or conflict between the two. We can only assume that some sort of delegation of authority was hammered out that was acceptable to Odo).
While Sisko and the others beam up to the Defiant, which has been in orbit over the planet, Kira and Odo stay behind, Odo to bid farewell to his newly found and rejected people and Kira to make sure Odo is safe. Notice how Kira has stuck to Odo like glue.
The final scene, when Odo takes his leave of the Founder, shows us the very best of Kira, fine tuned to the needs of her friend. Not one normally given to physical displays of affection, Kira understands intuitively that if there was ever a time when Odo needed to feel the warmth and comfort of a friend, it was now. Odo's initial look of surprise as she takes his hand and presses it between her breasts is replaced by gratitude, and the oddly intimate gesture she makes in pressing his commbadge when they are ready to beam up to the ship seems completely appropriate to the moment. There's also a look in Kira's eyes that goes beyond affection, compassion, and the fierce pride she feels for her friend. I have no canonical evidence to support this claim, but I believe this is the moment when Kira fell in love with Odo. It only took her three-plus years to realize it!
"Ever since the day you crossed paths, she's lied to you, tricked you, sat in judgment of you--I don't trust her. And I don't understand how you can."
--Kira to Odo, speaking of the Female Founder, from "Behind the Lines."
"The Search" provides us with perhaps the single largest body of information about the Founders, their society, their philosophical outlook, and their history. This information comes by way of the Female Shapeshifter, answering the questions Odo puts to her as he struggles to understand more about himself and his people.
The answers appear to be deliberately vague, contrived, and contradictory.
Color me jaded, but I simply don't believe most of what Odo is told. With the benefit of hindsight, we know that every encounter Odo had with his people was marked by treachery, deceit, and manipulation. That deceit begins in this episode. Despite linking with the Female Shapeshifter, Odo remains ignorant of the Changelings' real identity--the Founders of the Dominion. He is also not told that the Defiant bridge crew is imprisoned on the planet. Not the most auspicious start to a relationship that will ultimately shape the futures of two quadrants.
Below are some examples of what Odo is told that either ring hollow or simply don't make sense.
- Odo is told he is one of one hundred Changelings sent out in the galaxy to act as "explorers" after the changelings retreat to the isolation of their homeworld in the wake of their 'persecution' at the hands of the solids. Odo: "Tell me, why was I sent away?" Female Shapeshifter: "Because even in our solitude, we desired to learn more about the galaxy. You were one of a hundred 'infants' sent off to gain that knowledge for us."
This is perhaps the most patently disingenuous statement the Founder makes. If it were true, why does the Founder taunt, and belittle, and deride Odo at every opportunity for his link with the Solids? Wouldn't they be picking his brain, learning all that he knows about the people he spent his whole life with? His knowledge of the Solids is dismissed entirely. The Founder even goes so far as to say the time he spent with the solids has "damaged" him.
This comes up later, when Odo defends Sisko and the Defiant crew, comparing them to the Changelings in their mutual quest to explore the galaxy for the purpose of gaining knowledge, and the Founder's dismissive reply, "The Solids are nothing like us."
A better explanation is that Odo and the hundred were sent out as scouts, so the Founders would have a better idea of what species posed the greatest threat to them. This way, they had the luxury of planning a war strategy long before any hostilities would be declared. It might even make it easier to send in Changeling infiltrators later, to destabilize alliances the Dominion wanted to weaken prior to any military action. This explanation, if true, would doubtless distress Odo, and so he was given a fabricated story instead.
- Odo is the first of the one hundred to return to the Link. According to the Founder, they weren't expected back for another three hundred years. Yet, over the objections of the other Changelings, the Female Founder offers Odo a taste of the Link almost immediately, with the justification that, "He's been away too long. He needs to remember." She also makes several references to how "damaged" Odo is from his time among Solids, and how he has lived with Solids for "too long." How much more "damaged" would he have been after three hundred years?
Again, the more logical explanation is that the Founder sensed Odo's strong bond with Kira. Offering him the Link, and deriding the Solids, was the most effective means of enticing Odo into her Link.
- The Link is evidently the normal way Changelings live. It is a completely communal existence, where they don't exist as separate entities. But when the Founder first explains this to Odo, and Odo confesses that he's led a "very solitary life," the Founder says that was "necessary." Later, in the Changeling garden, when Odo is encouraged to shapeshift into the various objects, and that "to become a thing is to know a thing," he is confused, and asks how such a thing could be possible. The Founder's answer again contradicts the very nature of Changelings. "This too, is a journey you must make alone."
The only way any of this makes sense is if this represents another strategy by the Changelings to further undermine Odo's sense of self-worth, and make him more vulnerable and therefore more receptive to their Link.
These are just a few examples, but they demonstrate a pattern of behavior that the Link will employ with Odo again and again, with surprising success. Perhaps deception is a hereditary characteristic of Changelings (after all, isn't that what they are doing every time they morph into a shape other than their own?). I suspect that the deliberate vagueness and ambiguity used with Odo during this initial meeting was designed to keep the truth from him about who the Changelings really were (the Founders) and what their real motives were (conquest and domination of the worlds around them). Given Odo's strong sense of justice and morality, it was highly unlikely he would willingly join the Great Link, knowing they were the Founders. So the deception was necessary in order to bring him "into the fold."
Whatever the reasons or motivations behind the Founder's ambiguous statements, it leaves the viewer with an unsettling feeling that congeals into a real sense of dread when the Founder suggests she will be "visiting" Odo and the Alpha Quadrant. It appears the fleeting time of peace in the Bajoran sector will not be lasting long.
Script excerpts found at TwizTV.com
Screen captures from TrekCore.com