the story: Odo becomes intrigued with a woman he's investigating.
what it's all about: What an absolute waste of an episode. I give it one star because it introduces the Orion Syndicate later featured again in "Honor Among Thieves" and "Prodigal Daughter," and so it has some lingering significance, but otherwise "A Simple Investigation" is about as nondescript an episode as you can get.
What's most shocking about it is the context. The preceding eight episodes were all exceptional adventures that put a spotlight on everything right with Deep Space Nine at this point in its run. What's most egregious, however, is that it squanders Odo at a time when he could easily have had incredibly interesting character work done. Heck, if this had been an episode from earlier in the season, it could have meant something much more without really changing anything at all, from before he regained his shapeshifting abilities. But here he is, a full-fledged changeling again, and "Investigation"...diddles. It has nothing to say.
So here's what's a good spin on all that: "Investigation" is a breather. It removes all the heaviness of what's been going on. It's a throwback to a simpler time, when you didn't have to worry about what would happen next, when there was no Dominion threat looming. This could've been a fun experience from the first few seasons, never mind earlier in this season.
But when you watch Deep Space Nine for everything it does really, really right, it's kind of disappointing when an episode delivers something that just feels...safe.
franchise- It could conceivably give fans who are otherwise hesitant to give Deep Space Nine a chance a reason to watch, but would this really be a good way to sample?
- series - A link to later episodes does exist.
character- Odo is in the spotlight, but nothing much of importance is said about him. essential- An all but completely skippable affair.