**** (4 stars out of 5)
Speaking of which, Dr. Mora Pol comes to visit from his job helping Starfleet devise new ways to kill changelings. Conflict of interest? Bad dad graduating to grouchy grandpa? Well, such is life on DS9.
Meanwhile, the O'Briens finally get their baby back from Major Kira. No matter how you slice it (Do NOT slice up the child, Solomon, it's just a figure of speech) that kid was gestating for well over six months, not counting his original womb. That makes Kira a shoo-in record holder for an alien race whose pregnancies last a mere five months, who never get morning sickness, and who give birth by reaching a state of complete relaxation. Almost makes up for the decades of brutal slavery and torment. Oh, relax, I meant the Occupation, not parenthood!
Odo tells Quark that being a surrogate parent is the most rewarding thing in his entire life. And is too happy to arrest the Ferengi for selling a baby.
Too much love, or not enough discipline? Between them, Odo and Pol get that kid wiggling and jiggling and pretending to be that tentacle-face from The Abyss.
But tragedy and elation will mingle in a deeply moving climactic event and Odo will be forever changed by "The Begotten".
Thanks to Duncan Regehr and James Sloyan for their final Star Trek appearances to date. Shakaar was a strong, memorable presence, and Mr. Sloyan in particular put his DNA into lot of interesting, conflicted alien roles over the years. To this day, when I read Star Trek fiction, I still find it useful to imagine secondary characters are James Sloyan with some wacky forehead.