Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had a mysterious idea for Chief O’Brien
In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode, “Second Skin,” Major Kira awakens to discover that her face has been altered, and she now looks like a Cardassian. And throughout the episode, her Cardassian father attempts to convince her she’s been a spy undercover in Bajor all along. Kira doesn’t fall for it, and in the end, the deception is revealed. But the original idea for this episode wasn’t going to have such a happy ending nor was it even going to involve Major Kira (Nana Visitor).
Robert Hewitt Wolfe, who wrote “Second Skin,” originally had the idea that Chief Miles O’Brien (Colm Meaney) was going to find out that he was a Cardassian operative who had been undercover for well over twenty years. He replaced the original O’Brien, and the first chief’s memories were implanted in the Cardassian’s so he could pass as the chief everyone knew from the Enterprise. So when Star Trek: The Next Generation debuted, Chief O’Brien would have actually been a Cardassian spy.
The reason Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s idea didn’t work
On the Enterprise, O’Brien and Keiko got married and had a baby girl (Molly) not long after. There was no doubt that Molly O’Brien was fully human, and that was something that Wolfe would have been unable to explain. Had Molly been half-Cardassian, her features would have represented that. Since there was no way of getting around this issue, Wolfe changed the episode so that it revolved around Kira.
Having O’Brien as the Cardassian operative wouldn’t have made as much sense as Kira. Though he hated the Cardassians, he hadn’t suffered for much of his life at their hands like Kira did. So revealing him as the spy would not have had as much of an impact. Although the series decided not to keep Kira as a spy, “Second Skin” played well enough with doubts that we were questioning who she really was before the truth was revealed. That most likely would not have been the case had O’Brien been revealed as the Cardassian.