**** (4 stars out of 5)
Speaking of dads, Quark avoids his chance to be one when Boslic femme fatale Rionoj sells him a bunch of Gamma Quadrant salvage... including a squalling infant in a box.
Ben Sisko coos over the foundling, but in a twinkling it becomes a tween, then a teen! He's the product of some very advanced genetic engineering or too much sugar cereal.
Speaking of growing up too fast, Jake is 16 and Mardah is 20. Ben's not so keen, but mellows when he learns his son is a writer and a dom-jot hustler (calm down, that's pool, remember?).
Kira brings Odo a housewarming plant. He no longer sleeps in his bucket, reverting to his gelatinous state anywhere in his new quarters. Might want to child-proof the EPS taps... or put down a tarp.
The abandoned kid is a Jem'Hadar, a killer with a severe enzyme deficiency, loyal to changelings at the genetic level. So Odo tries to make a connection, rather than let the kid end up in a lab.
Bashir starts pumping the loyalty drug into Punchy the Reptile Boy at the neck. Odo wants the kid to understand equality and self-determination. In response to his desire to know more about his people, Odo shows the recordings. Snuff videos: is that really the best idea ever?
Odo gives the kid a holosuite combatant to stab with Andorian knives, if he will agree to be restrained and peaceful in the real world. It's not working, maybe because the kid was designed without ears? Also, his invisibility power blossoms... he pulls a gun on Sisko and flees.
Though Odo offers to go to unexplored space together if it means the youngster doesn't have to be a soldier- it really is the only thing he wants. Killing inferior species is every page in a Jem'Hadar book, it seems.
"The Abandoned" was, in the eyes of director Avery Brooks, a metaphor for young brown men, raised only to be fighters and hooked on drugs from the very first. To me, if there's a trait where Ben Sisko proves himself above Kirk and Picard, it is as a loving, devoted father. Whether to his underlings constantly asking 'Dad' if they can borrow a runabout, to his actual son Jake given enormous leeway to make his own mistakes, to abandoned babies with nothing in their hearts from minute one but death and hate. Starfleet might not see Sisko's compassion for the enemy as an asset in the face of what's to come. But I sure do.