So I was watching Deep Space Nine the other day, and I discovered something interesting.
We know that presumably sometime in season 5 Dr. Bashir was replaced by a changeling. Since Dr. Bashir is wearing the classic black with a color block top uniform in the prison camp, it’s safe to assume that anytime we see him in the new carpet uniform, that it’s the changeling imposter (before exposed naturally), right?
Within this period of time “The Begotten” happens, which is the episode where Quark gives Odo a sick baby changeling he happened to get from a trader. Long story short Odo spends the whole episode trying to teach it to shapeshift and bonding with his “science dad” until at the very end the changeling dies, but not before giving it’s shape shifting abilities to Odo.
Now this is where it gets interesting, Dr. Bashir is a changeling in this episode. That puts a really interesting spin on the story huh? Why didn’t he step in and do something to save the changeling. The founders are known for their extremely sophisticated biological/genetic knowledge, and they would undoubtedly be the authority on changeling’s biological makeup, so why does this one let the baby die?
As far as I can figure there’s 3 clear explanations for this. The first (and least likely IMO), is that the changeling legitimately didn’t know how to make the sick one better. As Star Trek likes to point out regularly, there’s no end to the number of strange life forms out in space, so it’s possible that whatever made the changeling sick was incredibly tenacious and beyond the fake Bashir’s capabilities.
The second possibility is that the changeling knew how to save the baby, but was throwing themselves into the role of Dr. Bashir. If they displayed an extensive knowledge of changeling physiology it might tip someone off that they weren’t really Dr. Bashir. The founders have been shown to be experts at espionage and disguise, so maybe they have a strict code about when to get involved in situations like that. Maybe their plans to take over the alpha quadrant were more important than this one infant.
The third and most intriguing possibility is that the whole encounter was devised by the founders. What if fake Bashir’s main mission wasn’t to blow up a star, but was actually to test Odo and present him with an opportunity for redemption? They could have easily set up the meeting with Quark posing as a trader, and as far as the baby changeling is concerned, engineering a disease would be no problem and the baby could be one they had or simply one they discovered. I think since the fundamental law of the founders is “no changeling has ever harmed another” it seems more likely that they simply found a sick baby they had already sent out.
If that was the case, there are two sub-possibilities I can think of. One, the baby was sick with something they couldn’t cure (either for biological or espionage reasons) so they took the opportunity to see what Odo would do with it. Two, they saw it was sick but wanted to see what Odo would do, maybe as a, “look at one of your kind suffering and suffer, feel the pain you caused us” kind of thing.
But in whatever case, fake Bashir had to know (or it’s extremely likely at least) that there was a possibility of Odo getting his shape shifting back through this baby changeling, and now whenever I watch this episode I can’t help but puzzle over what’s really going on behind the scenes.