Friday, February 23, 2024

Star Trek: The Abandoned

Episode: "The Abandoned"
Series: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season 3, Episode 6
Original Air Date: October 31, 1994

via Memory Alpha

Quark buys a bunch of space salvage from an old "friend."  Amidst the junk is a surprise: a baby!  Even more surprising than its sudden appearance is its growth rate, maturing into a teenage body within a matter of days.  Evidently, the space station's newest arrival is a young Jem'Hadar and he's violent, aggressive and impatient.  Odo, whom he recognizes as a Founder, is the only one he heeds.  The constable does his best to guide his young charge and show him he has life choices.  

Meanwhile, we get to meet Jake's girlfriend.  Mardah (Jill Sayre) is a dabo girl at Quark's.  Ben is not thrilled by her profession, nor by the fact that she's four years older than his son (though the actress is only two years older - more on that in a bit).  Ben invites the young woman to dinner at the Sisko quarters.  Mardah is, of course, perfectly charming.  Father and audience learn from her for the first time that Jake is a gifted poet.

Let's start with Story A.  Avery Brooks directed the episode, his second for DS9.  For the screenwriters, D. Thomas Maio and Steve Warnek, it was not only their only Star Trek script but their only television credit, period.  Brooks saw "The Abandoned" as "a story about young brown men, and, to some extent, a story about a society that is responsible for the creation of a generation of young men who are feared, who are addicted, who are potential killers."  The Jem'Hadar are born with a drug addiction.  The "missing enzyme" as it's described initially, is used to make them brave in battle and also to control them.  Unfortunately, this is a real-world practice among child soldiers in Africa, who are given narcotics by their handlers for the same purposes.

There was some concern among the creative staff that the story would come off too much like the NextGen episode "I, Borg."  However, the outcome is quite different.  The racial implications of the narrative are troubling, to be sure.   For a franchise that was predicated from the beginning on a society based on improved race relations, Trek has a mixed track record of addressing the issues appropriately.  Alien races tend to be monochromatic and the Jem'Hadar are no exception.  Indeed, the "teenager" seemingly has little choice in his personal characteristics or his life path.  Brooks makes an important point about societal structures creating the problem.  It still doesn't sit well.

I'll discuss more about this over time.  It's important to hold Star Trek, especially, to account on these particular issues.

Story B: our child took understandable issue with the age difference between Mardah and Jake.  Important considerations:
  • It's far more common, both in the real world and on screen for the age difference to work the other way around: men dating younger women.
  • Technically, in the twenty-first century, at least, it's not illegal for a 16 year old and a 20 year old to date or even to have consensual sex.  
  • Jill Sayre is, in fact, only two years older than Cirroc Lofton rather than four.
  • I wonder about the complications of Lofton growing so tall so quickly.  At 16, he's obviously already taller than Avery Brooks who is 6' 1".  Lofton's adult height is 6' 3".  I wonder if casting an actress his own age might have made it look inappropriate in the other direction.  
Does any of this make it less skeezy?  I suppose it's in the eye of the beholder.

Acting Notes

via Dubbing Wiki

Bumper Robinson played the teenage Jem'Hadar.  He was born Larry C. Robinson II in Cleveland, June 19, 1974.  He has had principal roles on Amen, Guys Like Us and Sabrina the Teenage Witch.  Films include Enemy Mine, White Man's Burden and Behind Enemy Lines.  Robinson has a highly successful voice acting career as well.  He was Bumblebee and Biltzwing on Transformers: Animated, Falcon on Avengers Assemble and Cyborg in Justice League: Doom.


  1. I have no Idea about this show but now I want to see this episode

  2. Hello,
    I remember the Star Trek series but only at the beginning, these episodes you're talking about I have no idea at all! Have a nice week!

    1. Haha! I honestly don't know how extensively Star Trek has aired in other languages. I don't know if Deep Space Nine aired in Portugal or even how I would find out.

      Even so, I appreciate you stopping by and saying hello, Marisa.

  3. Replies
    1. I can't say I know his other work. Good looking man, though...