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In DS9 the Changelings are shown in two different ways. Initially Odo is shown to have grown from a child to an adult indicating that each Changeling has its own distinct physical body. In later episodes, when the homeworld is visited, it is shown that the Changelings exist in their natural form as a large planet size goo and can then leave that to form a body for talking to and interacting with others.

Has it ever been explained what a Changeling actually is? When they meld, are they still two distinct physical forms with their own genetic makeup and therefore have to physically be in the place they emerge from the goo, or are they a collection of separate consciousnesses that "borrow" some of the physical matter that makes up their world to make a body and may never take the same material twice?

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    The drop becomes the ocean – Valorum May 14 '18 at 11:36
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Odo struggles with the same concept. Eventually he discusses this with the Female Changeling (in DS9: Behind the Lines) who advises him that his concept of individuality is a falsehood. There is only one changeling. When the need arises to interact with the outside world it buds off parts of itself into separate entities and when they've finished being useful they then return to the Great Link and cease to exist, except as stored memories.

ODO: You haven't told me your name.
FOUNDER: What use would I have for a name?
ODO: To differentiate yourself from the others.
FOUNDER: I don't.
ODO: But you are a separate being, aren't you?
FOUNDER: In a sense.
ODO: When you return to the Link, what will happen to the entity I'm talking to right now?
FOUNDER: The drop becomes the ocean.
ODO: And if you choose to take solid form again?
FOUNDER: The ocean becomes a drop.
ODO: Ah, yes. I think I'm beginning to understand.
FOUNDER: Then you can answer your own question. How many of us are there?
ODO: One. And many. It depends on how you look at it.
FOUNDER: Very good. You are beginning to understand. But there's so much you don't know.

  • It seems that the 100 contain a distinct identity of self. Odo and Laas linked together and afterwards still retained their individuality. Now, that may be due to the influence of the Great Link, as either a change made when they were sent out or a change made to Odo when he first rejoined the Great LinK, but we'll probably never know. – Xantec May 14 '18 at 17:49
  • @Xantec - There seems to be a dramatic difference between the Great Link and two changelings linking together. Note that Odo isn't expecting to come back when he merges with the Link. – Valorum May 14 '18 at 18:17
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    Maybe. But the one time Odo does join the Great Link, for his judgement, they're able to give him false knowledge without him knowing it's false (regarding Gowron). If Odo had "become the ocean" then that (probably) shouldn't have been possible. As an aside regarding Odo's judgement, what would one changeling killing another be considered, if they're all parts of a single whole? – Xantec May 14 '18 at 20:04
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    I don't think they're a total hivemind. They seem to be an ocean comprised of drops rather than an ocean comprised of an ocean – Valorum May 14 '18 at 20:47
  • @Xantec indeed if Odo has become the ocean, what would be the purpose of then singling out some arbitrary part of that ocean for "judgement"? – OrangeDog May 15 '18 at 12:08

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