Reconstruction of the Odyssey Bridge
by Tadeo D'Oria and Bernd Schneider
The DS9 episode "The Jem'Hadar", which brought season 2 to a close, featured the Galaxy-Class USS Odyssey; and with it, our only look at a bridge from that class which wasn't the Enterprise-D's or a quick re-use of it like the Yamato was.
This bridge was only seen for less than a minute on screen, and from very limited angles. However, analyzing the scene frame by frame, it is possible to recreate what little was seen on screen. Adding in some behind-the-scenes information, and a bit of creativity, and it's possible to go beyond and create an entire bridge for the ship.
History of the Set
The set was first built to serve as the bridge of the Saratoga on DS9's pilot episode, "Emissary". It wasn't a completely newly designed and constructed set however, as both its front and aft areas were reused from the Excelsior bridge set, stored since its use in "Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country" (which in itself was a redress of the Enterprise-A bridge set built for "The Final Frontier"). The Saratoga set was constructed on Paramount Stage 18, used for permanent sets during the production of DS9.
As the set was retained after the pilot, it was reused several times through the early seasons of the series. It featured prominently as the bridge of other Federation vessels, like the freighter Norkova in "The Passenger", and the Nebula-Class Prometheus in "Second Sight". However, it also had smaller appearances as alien ship bridges, such as a Bajoran transport in "In the Hands of the Prophets" and a Xepolite freighter in "The Maquis".
By the time "The Jem'Hadar" was to be filmed, "Generations" was also in the middle of its principal photography, and this brought a number of issues with it. First of all, the production of DS9 couldn't just reuse the Enterprise-D bridge set as they originally intended for the Odyssey, because it was being modified for its appearance on the movie. Secondly, the Excelsior bridge set was going to be used again for the movie, redressed as the Enterprise-B. This required that the pieces removed from that set for the Saratoga be returned.
In the end, probably because they realized that DS9 needed a bridge set for its season finale, only certain elements of the Excelsior set were returned, as to not leave the TV series with nothing to use. The entire frontal area was returned, as well as the aft wall. However, the rest of the aft area was kept on DS9's Stage 18.
This is the reason why the aft section of the Enterprise-B set differs from the Excelsior set, as the characteristic aft doors of the Excelsior were kept by the DS9 production team.
So in the end the Odyssey bridge could only be a partial set made out of elements that other Trek productions didn't need at the time. Logically, the resulting set wouldn't hold to much scrutiny, so it was filmed from very limiting angles, and with camera shakes for most of the time.
After its appearance as the Odyssey, the set would be heavily modified to appear as the bridge of a Romulan Warbird for the season 3 episode "The Die is Cast". This redress would be extensive, providing a new viewscreen area in the process.
Afterwards, as DS9 was given a ship of its own in the shape of the USS Defiant, this set would perform as several rooms of that ship; mainly sickbay, the mess hall, and the transporter room. The first appearance of any of these rooms was on season 3's final episode, "The Adversary".
Reconstruction based on visual evidence
From the episode "The Jem'Hadar" itself, at first glance all we can see is that the captain of the Odyssey is seated in front of a railing, with his first officer seated at his side and (unlike on the Enterprise-D bridge) behind him . We can see that the railing has a central area similar to that on the Enterprise, but not much else.
Luckily, some behind-the-scenes pictures and information can give us a lot of clues right out of the bat. First of all, two images from the Odyssey bridge were released on the Star Trek Fact Files. The first one, which is from a deleted scene, shows the captain with the second officer, who's seated mirroring the first officer. This confirms that the captain's chair is positioned centered on the bridge, with the two flanking chairs positioned behind it. We can also confirm that while the central area of the railing appears to be the same as on the Enterprise, the rest of it is brand new, and doesn't follow the same lines.
Due to the date of the episode, we can also infer that the chairs used by the captain and XO were taken from the USS Pasteur set, given that "All Good Things" was filmed just a few weeks before this episode.
The second Fact Files image shows us that this central column on the rail is just a cardboard cutout, as it has no depth and probably hides a support strut that keeps the railing fixed on the set floor. It also shows us, barely seen on the background, the ship's dedication plaque. We know one was created specifically for the Odyssey as Michael Okuda says as much in the Encyclopedia. Yet, it doesn't appear in the final episode, only on a behind-the-scenes image, on the same spot the Prometheus had its dedication plaque.
During the course of the battle, we're shown that the first officer doesn't have a console directly in front of his chair as Riker does on the Enterprise, but rather that he uses the standing console behind his chair.
An analysis of the battle sequence shows us the entire shape of said console, which besides the central column mimicking the Enterprise tactical station, also has a support column at each side.
This allows us to deduce the arrangement of the central area of the bridge.
By looking at the set previous appearance as the Prometheus, we can get more information for the side areas of the Odyssey bridge.
We can see on this screenshot that the area directly behind the side doors remains mostly the same, with maybe only some color changes in order to blend in with the purple-greyish chairs and the beige consoles. However, the small side strut on the wall, which had three holes in it on the Prometheus, was a completely covered surface for its appearance on the Odyssey.
Regarding the side door itself, we can see that it wasn't actually present on the Odyssey set, as that area was covered with random debris and fires to showcase the damage the ship had sustained.
Regarding the aft wall, we can see that while the detailing is new, the LCARS panels are a reuse of Dr. Seyetik's shuttle interior from "Second Sight", the episode where the Prometheus appeared.
Taking all this information, we're able to piece together a partial bridge set.
Speculative further reconstruction
Now, taking into account both the set past and present appearances, and some elements borrowed from its Galaxy-class sisters, we can piece together a possible interpretation of how the starship bridge looked in its entirety.
The front was was moved forward a bit, with a larger viewscreen mirroring the one from the Enterprise-D. We didn't see any sort of conn or ops stations on the episode, but we would assume some were present, so they were added along with another step down so that the viewscreen wasn't completely obscured by these two consoles.
Other reconstruction elements were directly lifted from the Enterprise-D bridge, such as the side alcoves and the alert status panels at the back, while finally the ceiling was modeled after the Defiant mess hall ceiling, fitting given that it was essentially the same set reused.
Other details such as the carpet and the small screens at the front were just added to flesh out the design, while always respecting what little was seen on screen.
Taking all that previous information into account, here's how the finished bridge looks like.
This finalized design ended up being about the same size and with the same number of stations than the Enterprise-D bridge. Fitting for one of its sister ships.
The Evolution of the Enterprise-D Bridge - changes to the bridge set over the years
Some screen caps taken from TrekCore.
Special thanks to a certain Trek fan from Texas who wanted to remain anonymous, as they originally commissioned me to recreate the Odyssey bridge on 3D, thus starting this whole investigative project.