ISTJ: Odo, “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”

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ISTJ – the Inspector, the Sentinel, the Trustee

Introducing a shape-shifter to the main cast of a Star Trek show meant that we had the chance to see him turn into all kinds of cool stuff. The limits of television storytelling, however, meant that certain restrictions had to be imposed on his powers. Odo must return to his gelatinous state every 15 hours to regenerate, or he loses coherence. Also, judging from the unfinished shape of his face, he isn’t very good at imitating people (so, no Mystique-style infiltration missions for him).

Thus, despite his fluid body, Odo has the most rigid personality on DS9.

Dominant Function: (Si) Introverted Sensing, “The Study”

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Odo keeps to a predictable schedule—the shopkeepers on the Promenade can set their chronometers by his passing when he makes his rounds. He’s a reliable and trustworthy Security Chief, impartial in his judgments whether he’s serving the Cardassians or Starfleet, because he’s only interested in the real facts of the matter. Starfleet keeps him on after they take over Deep Space Nine, thanks to his familiarity with the station and its denizens.

Odo makes a skillful investigator, picking up on details in his environment that build a picture of the crime or suspects he’s studying. This makes it especially difficult for Quark to get any shenanigans past him. Even when Quark seems to have innocuous motives, Odo suspects him, because past experience has taught him that, “You’re always up to something.”

Odo prides himself on his knowledge of humanoid nature, and often uses the phrase, “It’s been my observation—“ when explaining something he’s learned about them.

Though he could take on any form he wishes, Odo settles on the appearance of a middle-aged, grumpy, humanoid man. When he’s briefly turned into a human, he still keeps such a stiff posture that he gives himself a pinched nerve. He somewhat resembles the scientist who studied and raised him, Dr. Mora, right down to the hairstyle. Even his name is a riff on the label he was given as an “Unknown Sample” (“Odo’ital”) in the lab. Other Changelings he meets chide him for sticking to this one form so consistently, conforming to the looks of average humanoids, but something about the man the crew calls “Constable” seems to express Odo’s essence.

Odo has an innate sense of order, of the way things ought to be, that never changes despite the many cultures and environments he lives in. His people tell him that this is part of being a Changeling, the desire to bring order and sanity to the chaotic existence of the solids (non-shapeshifters). When he gets his own quarters, Dax enjoys making him crazy by moving his furniture around, shifting it slightly out of place. Odo can tell when it’s off by even a centimeter.

When he’s temporarily stuck in human form as punishment, Odo keeps his smooth, somewhat unformed face, partly as a reminder by the Founders that he’s not great at the details of the humanoid form. However, he becomes fascinated by the bubbles in his drink, now that he actually ingests sustenance. He eventually gets his shape-shifting powers back, but Odo keeps his new quarters so he can practice shape-shifting—and his old bucket, which he used to “sleep” in before he got his own space, just for old times’ sake.

Odo doesn’t know where he comes from at first. His quest for his origins remains a driving force, a hardwired part of his genetic code, and he’s grieved to discover that his people are in fact the tyrannical Founders of the Dominion. He’s torn between returning to the Great Link from which he was born, and staying with his loyal friends on Deep Space Nine.

As gruff and surly as he acts, Odo just wants someplace to belong. His personal experiences with the crew of DS9 help prove to him that solids are not evil, nor in need of domination. When he finally returns to the Great Link, he brings this knowledge with him in an effort to enlighten his people.

Auxiliary Function: (Te) Extraverted Thinking, “The Workshop”

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Odo lives to enforce law and order on the station. He has rules about not carrying weapons on the Promenade, not loitering, not sleeping, and a host of other things. He brooks no defiance of them. He especially loves calling Quark out for minor infractions of station regulations, just to make him miserable. He gets testy when Worf shows up and interferes with his methods, and has a list of security breaches on the Enterprise to rebut the Klingon’s accusations against the Constable’s abilities.

This side of Odo can go a bit fascist at times, like when he supports the declaration of martial law on Earth in the face of Changeling paranoia. When his job is called into question after Eddington’s defection, he complains that if he’d been given the broader authority he asked for, it never would have happened. He quietly believes that although things were grimmer under Cardassian occupation, at least they were safer. He illegally bugs Quark’s communications, and hints that he might do the same for others on the station as well.

Odo gets this drive from his people, the powerful Founders who run the Dominion empire in the Gamma Quadrant. The temptation to join the Great Link is not just that of returning home, but of joining a greater cause and power. He relates to their need to control the messy lives of solids, but ultimately he can’t go all the way with them in their desire to conquer the galaxy.

Tertiary Function: (Fi) Introverted Feeling, “The Deep Well”

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Odo holds to a rigid, personal sense of justice. He serves many masters over the years—Cardassians, Starfleet, the Dominion—but he follows his own code before theirs. He refuses to ever carry or fire a weapon in the course of his duties (being able to shape-shift his arm into a whip certainly helps). A major reason he’s kept on by both Cardassian and Starfleet authorities is his commitment to the truth no matter who he’s working for.

Odo’s not crazy about anyone seeing him revert to his gelatinous state for regeneration time, nor really of anyone seeing his personal feelings about anything. He’s chagrined at the informal, affectionate nickname of “Constable” by which the crew calls him. He’s especially uncomfortable with the deference and adoration lavished on him by Weyoun and the Jem’Hadar, who see him and the Founders as gods.

Odo harbors an intense disgust of Quark that somehow also carries deep regard, though he’d never say it aloud (Quark, being an Fe-dom, can see it simply through Odo’s body language).

I really hesitate to praise anything about the Odo/Kira romance, but it does relax Odo emotionally. He’s awkward and fumbling in expressing his feelings to her over the years. When it’s finally out in the open, he’s the most sincerely happy we ever see him. Sadly, his commitment to his people, and to helping them become a peaceful race, must win out over his relationship to Nerys, and he bids his lover goodbye in the end.

Inferior Function: (Ne) Extraverted Intuition, “The Hiking Trails”

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Once Odo reconnects with his people, he has trouble learning how to shape-shift. Not that he’s never done it before, but it was mainly in the line of duty. Learning how to “be” different objects and lifeforms, to experience their essence, seems mysterious and untenable. He asks a lot of questions of the Founder to try to understand the nature of the Great Link, but her answers sound to him evasive and vague.

His fellow lost Changeling-child Laas gets Odo to expand his understanding of what a Changeling can be. He doesn’t have to be defined by the humanoid shape he walks around in most of the day, but Odo doesn’t have much practical use for changing forms multiple times in a day unless it serves his law-keeping purposes. He even derides the humanoid imagination in the episode where everyone’s fantasies are coming to life, which doesn’t surprise Quark at all.

Odo’s Intuition usually serves to make him suspicious and paranoid, which is useful for a security officer but detrimental to his mental well-being. On the less aggressive side, he also gets caught up in linking and shape-shifting with the Female Founder, losing track of time when he’s supposed to be helping Kira and her resistance. However, Odo twice becomes a parental figure to a member of the Dominion—once to a lost Jem’Hadar child and once to a sick little baby Changeling—and he wishes very much to raise them differently from the abusive experiences he suffered, or from the expectations of their kind.

Ultimately, Odo proves more flexible than the other Changelings in one key point—accepting non-shapeshifters and their differences as good rather than something to be feared.

It’s this tiny change in one shape-shifter that ends the war and saves the galaxy.

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