Beloved Star Trek DS9 Character Ties Into History’s Worst Monsters

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

In Deep Space Nine, few characters are quite as complex as the shapeshifter Odo. Even before we discover his connection to the nefarious Dominion (he is unknowingly one of the Founders), Odo’s connection to the Cardassians from his time as Terek Nor’s head of security made him a mysterious figure. This came to a head when he was suspected of murder in “A Man Alone,” but an early version of the story was much worse because the writer based his Odo story on Nazis.

Odo Is A Man Alone

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To fully understand the story that almost was, you need to know the context for the finished episode. In “A Man Alone,” Odo expresses how much he hates a visiting alien, making the shapeshifter the prime suspect when that alien is found dead in one of Quark’s holosuites.

Odo’s reputation takes a nosedive complete with angry mobs outside his office, but Dr. Bashir clears that reputation by revealing that the dead alien was actually a clone, part of the very much alive alien’s crazy scheme to set Odo up. 

As an early episode, “A Man Alone” did a good job of exploring Odo as a character, and it was entertaining to see a plot that put the gruffly confident security chief on his back foot. However, the story, as developed by Gerald Sanford, was originally going to be much darker. According to the writer, he wanted to “have someone accuse Odo of being a Nazi of the Cardassians who had murdered people.”

Awful Allegations And Blow-Back

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The writer is quick to emphasize that in his “A Man Alone” story, Odo would eventually be cleared of these awful allegations. But this would have been the explosive setup to a tale about “what one’s false accusations could lead to.” Sisko was going to be the only one who believed Odo was innocent, and as that belief crumbled, audiences would see how Odo’s own colleagues started thinking “Hey, when you’re caught up in the regime, you begin acting like the regime.”

Odo As A Space Nazi?

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On the face of it, a story explicitly pondering whether Odo was a space Nazi may sound crazy, especially to fans of this cantankerous character. However, the setup makes a lot of sense because Deep Space Nine went out of its way to present Gul Dukat (arguably the most singular Big Bad of the entire show) as a kind of Hitler analog.

This is something staff writer Robert Wolfe later mentioned when comparing Dukat’s eventual takeover of the Cardassian government: “Hitler’s rise [to power] happened pretty quickly, too.” Before that happened, Dukat ruled Deep Space Nine (then called Terok Nor) and Odo was his security chief. In other words, Odo was employed for a long time by Space Hitler, so exploring whether he was ever a Nazi himself wouldn’t necessarily be out of pocket.

Murder Plot Seemed More Sensible

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine A Man Alone

Later episodes would tease and explore the full extent of Odo’s collaboration with the evil Cardassians, so if “A Man Alone” had the shapeshifter accused of Nazi-like crimes, it would have been perfectly plausible. However, the story was soon softened to Odo simply being falsely accused of murder, making the episode less of a World War II commentary and more of a police episode.

This story tweak ensured that Odo’s shapeshifting abilities would make him the main suspect as he was seemingly the only one that could have gotten in and out of the holosuite where the alien died. 

Shade Of Gray

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine A Man Alone

Interestingly, while few fans call him an outright Nazi, the extent of Odo’s prior collaboration with the Cardassians is a subject of fierce fandom debate to this day. The shapeshifter has his defenders, but critics question how much he could work for some of the worst people in the galaxy and remain morally upright. In this way, Odo as a character is representative of Deep Space Nine as a show: full of shades of gray.

The, uh…metaphorical kind. The less said about that TNG episode “Shades of Gray,” the better.

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