René Auberjonois

Ode to Odo: Remembering Rene Auberjonois

On December 8, 2019, we lost one of the greats: Rene Auberjonois. His acting career spanned 5 decades of film, television, and voice work. Each generation remembers him differently. He was the guy from MASH or Benson or Boston Legal. But it should come as no surprise that for me, I will always remember him as Odo from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

From the outside, Odo is one of the goofiest looking Star Trek characters of any main cast. Slicked back hair, a smooth featureless face, and brown onesie makes the character comical, the epitome of Star Trek cliche. But beneath this alien facade is perhaps the most complex character of any Star Trek series.

Rene brought Odo to life. His gravely voice. His mannerisms. But undeniably, Rene brought life to Odo through his eyes. There is a reason that Odo’s eyes are my profile images on social media. What Rene did with two eyes underneath a pound of latex is amazing.

Odo began as the hardass Security Officer searching for his place in the universe. Throughout the series, his hard edges softened and he became a character you cared for. You understood that the walls he built around himself were there to project him from loss and sadness. As he opened up to let others in, you uncovered a truly good and caring person.

And none of that would have been possible if not for Auberjonois’s portrayal of the character. The way he took command of every scene was amazing. Whether he was arguing with Quark or sharing a tender moment with Kira, there was no denying his acting prowess. When Odo was angry, you felt scared. When Odo was sad, you felt upset for him. He made you feel.

I think many of us can relate to Odo, despite his fantastical origins. Odo, ultimately, is looking for his place in the world. We have all dealt with that uncertainty and wondering if we truly belong. Where is home? Do we even have a home? And what happens when our greatest dreams become our greatest challenges? Yes, he was a changeling from a far away galaxy, but he was also us.

There are so many great Odo scenes that it is futile to try to list them all. His scenes with Quark were always gold. Anytime Odo was pushed to his limits, either via conflict or sickness, it was unnerving to watch. The way he would grunt out a laugh or say “Doctor” to Bashir are downright iconic. And obviously, the build to and ultimate relationship with Kira tugs at the heart strings. 

Rene Auberjonois was so much more than one character. By all accounts, he was a good person, a teacher, and a friend. I am just someone on the internet typing on a keyboard that watched Star Trek. If I am this sad, I can only imagine how the people close to him feel. He will be truly missed.

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