the story: Odo meets another changeling who never joined the Great Link and thus didn't become a Founder of the Dominion.
what it's all about: Regardless of when it finally happened, "Chimera" is one of those episodes that always needed to happen, ever since Odo found out the truth of his origins in the third season premier, "The Search." Turns out he was one of a hundred children sent off to explore the galaxy. In some alternate version of the series, he would've spent the rest of it trying to find the rest of them. In this one, "Chimera" is where he finally encounters one.
What's fascinating about it is that the episode allows Odo to retread familiar material but from a fresh perspective. Between his own experiences and obviously what the rest of the Founders chose to do, fitting in among "solids" always seems to be a problem. Until "Chimera," though, we really only had the Female Founder's word for that. It might have been mere propaganda on her part, playing on Odo's vulnerabilities, but as it turns out it's probably pretty accurate. (Although it certainly would've been interesting to do a variation of "Heart of Stone" where Odo thinks he's found one of his lost siblings, but it's really such a Founder trick.)
So instead we get to revisit what exactly makes Odo so inherently interesting, his sense of alienation but also how he's managed to work around it. At this point he's very much centered that around Kira, and the episode ends sweetly with them sharing an intimate moment that means something for both of them.
Nitpickers insist there's a huge continuity goof, however, based on developments later in the season, where we learn Section 31 used Odo as a carrier for a fatal virus against the Founders. At the point he meets the stray changeling in "Chimera," Odo has always been infected and passed it on, starting with the Female Founder (which backdates the infection to at least the sixth season, the last time they spent time together), which means he passes it along to the innocent changeling, too, who will have no idea Odo's friends find a cure that he soon enough passes along to the Great Link...So, bye-bye Laas? It certainly seems that way. That implies the point we last see him he stops developing. If there'd been a follow-up with the character, there's always the possibility that his experiences with Odo inspire him to get past his prejudices, and he finds someone or a community that could help him. Or perhaps some Starfleet cleanup team tracks him down. I mean, if Section 31 could engineer the problem, Starfleet could just as easily undo it, once it proves possible. A thought, anyway.
franchise- Like a lot of excellent Deep Space Nine material, it's pretty specific to series.
- series - It's an alternate look at familiar elements from past seasons.
- character - Odo's last chance to reconsider his bond with Kira.
- essential - An episode that needed to happen.
J.G. Hertzler (Laas)