Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Our Man Bashir"


Air date: 11/27/1995
Teleplay by Ronald D. Moore
Story by Robert Gillan
Directed by Winrich Kolbe

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Kiss the girl, get the key. They never taught me that in the Obsidian Order." — Garak

Nutshell: A rather absurd premise, but it's put to good use. Very clever and funny.

"Our Man Bashir" is a lot like "Little Green Men" in that it is a comedic episode that has little bearing on the season or the series, and not really much bearing on the characters either. But it is different from "Little Green Men" in that it is a comedy with a little more spice and satire, and not so much a single joke that always seems on the verge of running out of steam.

It's nice to see that the series has the ability not to always take itself seriously—that it can step back and be downright ludicrous and still manage to hold our attention. This time, a freak transporter accident sends nearly the entire senior staff into the holosuite. (You would think we're in for trouble when the story begins with not one, but two Trek cliches, but never mind that now.) The premise is about one step away from total incredulity: When Sisko & Crew's Runabout explodes in the process of an emergency beam-out gone awry, Odo and Eddington frantically free enough computer memory to save their brain patterns (some extremely large clusters of data) in the station's computer. Somehow, the data ends up in the middle of Bashir's James Bond-type fantasy holosuite program, and holosuite characters begin to take on the forms of DS9's senior officers.

This premise is no more than an excuse to plug the characters into Bond movie milieu, with Bashir in the title role. Considering the release of the Goldeneye feature, "Our Man Bashir" couldn't be more timely. This episode takes great joy in poking fun at the larger-than-life nature of the Bond films. Naturally, Garak, who tags along to observe Bashir's fantasy life, gets the always-welcome lines of humorously biting sarcasm.

Bashir—Julian Bashir, that is—is having lots of fun defeating the villains and getting the girls in his holosuite fantasy (the episode opens with a ridiculously amusing scene where Bashir knocks out a bad guy by popping the cork of a champagne bottle into the villain's forehead). But things turn serious when Eddington informs him that if he attempts to leave the holodeck he risks erasing the data of the senior staff's transporter patterns. So Bashir must keep the program running until Odo and Eddington can come up with a solution. Wait...did I mention the holosuite safeties are disabled? Do I have to?

From here we follow Bashir and Garak through their adventure to save the world. "Our Man Bashir" has everything a Bond movie would need. There's the Sexy Woman Agent with an Accent (named Anastasia and replaced with Kira's image); the One-eyed Hitman with a Score to Settle (named Falcon and played by O'Brien); the Female Scientist with a Silly Name (Honey Bare, played by Dax); the Tuxedoed Gambling Mobster (Duchamps, played by Worf); and, of course, the Megalomaniacal Villain Trying to Destroy the World (Dr. Noah, played by Sisko).

Do you care about the plot? In all honesty, one of the weaknesses of this episode is how it tries to give us a plot to digest which turns out to be a fairly meaningless exercise simply because it doesn't matter. Do you really care if Dr. Noah is able to accomplish the absurdly unfathomable goal of destroying the world? I didn't, but then again, it doesn't much matter whether the holo-story means anything, because what this episode is about is the role playing chemistry and the acerbic banter between Bashir and Garak—and these elements work.

It's fun watching Bashir and Garak get into the typical spy movie jams. There's one crazy scene where Noah has them chained up in a cave where a laser is ready to drill into the ground and cause molten lava to fill the cavern. Garak's dry observation: "I only know one thing for sure, Doctor...when the molten lava begins pouring into this cave, you and I are going to be very uncomfortable." There's also his classic line, "I must say, Doctor, this is more than I ever wanted to know about your fantasy life"—one of the most appropriately timed lines in quite a while. These two are as fun to watch here as ever, and the episode's shining scene—where Garak reveals that being a spy means cutting your losses and giving up when things get tough—reveals the fundamental difference between the grim kind of espionage the Obsidian Order had made their business, and the superficial comic book adventures Bashir plays in his fantasies.

Winrich Kolbe's direction reveals a capable comic side (although the closing scenes get almost too hyperkinetic despite a waning supply of fresh dialogue). The performances in "Our Man Bashir" are right where they should be—way over-the-top. Avery Brooks as the very-insane Dr. Noah is a particularly goofy delight. Nana Visitor's accent sounds surprisingly good, and just seeing Worf in a tuxedo while lighting up a cigar is reason enough to watch the episode. Also, Jay Chattaway's appropriate Bond-style score is a pleasant change of pace.

If there's something this episode says through its satirical nature, it's that the Bond movies are just highly unlikely, stylized, comic book stories to be taken at the most basic entertainment level. "Our Man Bashir," similarly, is one zany, preposterous, amusing episode.

Previous episode: The Sword of Kahless
Next episode: Homefront

Season Index

34 comments on this review

AJ Koravkrian - Sun, Nov 25, 2007 - 10:52pm (USA Central)
Why would they make the premise so ridiculous though ? You need entire space station's data worth of computer memory to store their brain patterns ? How stupid is that ? Do they mean to say that the space station's transporter can't hold more than a couple of people into the transporter buffer ? What about when Voyager holds all those telepathic aliens into the cargo bay transporter buffer ? Why, oh why would they do this to us ?
Occuprice - Fri, Apr 18, 2008 - 11:27pm (USA Central)
Because, like most things on Voyager, the Aliens are dumbed down with limited mental capacity. Thus, more of their minds could be stored in less area.
Necros - Wed, Jul 9, 2008 - 6:30am (USA Central)
Do I care about the plot? Of course! It's a bit silly but it's allright. I think many times you are over-analyzing and trying too hard to be a reviewer.
Jayson - Wed, Nov 26, 2008 - 9:23pm (USA Central)
If you really care about a plausible reason as to why the stations computers couldn't hold the patterns, well its a Cardassian station. I suspect if this were a Federation starship or starbase it wouldn't be a problem but is just an old mining station.
Destructor - Tue, Jul 14, 2009 - 7:40pm (USA Central)
Watching a holodeck episode is the 24th century equivalent of watching our favourite characters watch TV. I don't care and it's a waste of time. This was a snoozer that only had laughs because it was laughably bad. Next!
Jake - Tue, Nov 24, 2009 - 10:12am (USA Central)
I enjoyed this one, & find it interesting that this episode aired at roughly the same time that the Bond film Goldeneye was in theaters. Likewise, TNG's equally memorable "A Fistful of Datas" aired more or less the same time Unforgiven was in cinemas.
An interesting coincidence these 2 holodeck episodes share.
jilly - Mon, Jan 4, 2010 - 10:29pm (USA Central)
This was just intended to be a good time, and that is how I took it. I got the feeling the actors, director, writers, set designers, et all really let loose and enjoyed themselves. It was just a fun romp to see our characters in new, but also stereotypical roles. :)
Anthony2816 - Fri, Feb 5, 2010 - 2:28pm (USA Central)
How come when the lasers that Bashir and Garak had been chained to were activated, and the five minute countdown was well underway, Dr. Honey Bare chose that moment to saunter in and begin a casual review of the controls?

Just askin'...
Peter Cordes - Tue, Sep 20, 2011 - 11:00am (USA Central)
Normally in a spy movie, the goal is to thwart the villain. Thinking outside the box, realizing that was unnecessary, was creative. The goal here was to keep all the characters alive, and the idea of the super-spy having a goal other than stopping the bad guy made the last few scenes novel.
Jacobian Tee Teetertotter the Third - Wed, Feb 1, 2012 - 1:26am (USA Central)
Its great that Julian can actually be himself in the holodeck, being genetically enhanched and all it is possible that he could do those things which would be a fantasy for most people to be Bond, but not for the genetically enhanched Doctor Bashir. I got this idea from the SFDerbis fellow and thought it so clever I had to post it here, because it truely is the great irony of this episode. And as a Bond Fan its great fun! Here ye here ye Calling all Bond fans, now you can be Deep Space fans to if only for a day!3 popcorns. Also liked the bit about neural energy being able to be stored in a computer. I thought this to be intersting, because i would think when i die, that engery must go somewhere, where does it go? Hope i have a deep space nine nearby to escape death
Latex Zebra - Tue, Apr 17, 2012 - 4:22am (USA Central)
Finally watched this on my box set Sunday night. This had always seem an inconsequential episode. I liked it. Earns a couple of stars for a valet named Mona Lovesit.
I also thought the end, which turned spy conventions on its head, as Julian attempted to buy time was excellent, as was the villians response.
3 stars seems very fair for this.
Mister P - Sat, Aug 25, 2012 - 11:53pm (USA Central)
This is not a bad episode, but I would have enjoyed it a little more if it wasn't scheduled so closely to Little Green Men. Both are "silly" episodes taking place in 20th century settings with no impact on any of the major DS9 story arcs. Still, I did enjoy how they remixed the DS9 theme music into a 60s-James-Bond espionage style.
Cail Corishev - Mon, Sep 17, 2012 - 4:54pm (USA Central)
A fun episode, but I do wish they could have come up with something more plausible than "the entire station doesn't have as much RAM as one set of transporters." That took a while to get past. There's no way that makes sense, in any era or with any technology. That's nearly as bad as Voyager getting away with running the holodocks 24/7 because they use a "different kind of energy" than the rest of the ship.

Nice to see Sisko chewing the scenery on purpose, though. And Julian wants to be a real spy so badly that it's fun to watch him play at it. Garak steals his scenes as usual, especially with his remark that he's been spying for the wrong intelligence service.
William - Mon, Oct 15, 2012 - 6:48pm (USA Central)
Not a fan of most holodeck episodes, but this one was pretty fun. And I like the additional insight into Cardassian vs. Human approach.
Maestro - Thu, Nov 1, 2012 - 7:32pm (USA Central)
Kira's accent is hilarious - the rest is irrelevant... Maybe Dax as a mad scientist too.
Maestro - Thu, Nov 1, 2012 - 7:34pm (USA Central)
I mean... How did they manage to shoot it? They must have rolled on the flour every time Kira had started to speak.
Maestro - Thu, Nov 1, 2012 - 7:50pm (USA Central)
And the very final lick on guitar, taken straight from TNG theme.
ProgHead777 - Mon, Jul 22, 2013 - 11:39pm (USA Central)
"You've destroyed zee vorld!" ~a shocked and dismayed Anastasia to Julian Bashir, secret agent XD

This one was a hoot! Anyone who spent any time analyzing the premise missed the point. This episode was a sugar pill to gird us for what was immediately to follow. That's all. It's okay for a show to have silly fun once in a while. Even Star Trek.
floodgeology - Mon, Oct 21, 2013 - 3:34am (USA Central)
I loved how Garak pointed out the upsurdity of everything (even up to including the 60's distint lack of bad taste in decoration) He's what pulled off the episode.
Also, is it coincidental that Julian Bashir and James Bond have the same initials?
Kotas - Wed, Oct 23, 2013 - 12:54pm (USA Central)

The best "just for fun" episode of the series thus far.

Jons - Sun, Feb 2, 2014 - 3:20pm (USA Central)
Third filler episode in a row... What did we do do to deserve that??

I really enjoyed Little Green Men but the Indiana Jones and the Bond rip-offs ("omg! we don't know what to do! oh I know, how about we ripoff another genre so we don't have to come up with an actual original story??")

The only thing interesting here is Garak, but he speaks for only 5 min in the whole episode, which leaves 40 minutes of murderous boredom...
Dusty - Thu, Feb 13, 2014 - 9:35pm (USA Central)
Not crazy about two comedy episodes back to back. It killed an hour, but I'm not crazy about the James Bond stuff or technobabble and this episode had a lot of both. Plus Bashir's not exactly one of my favorite characters. O'Brien, Worf, and Sisko as the villains were much more entertaining. It was interesting, but I probably won't watch this one again.
Vylora - Sun, Feb 23, 2014 - 9:52pm (USA Central)
I agree over-analyzing this type of episode is completely missing the point. I actually didn't find the premise all that absurd either. It's been stated before in Trek that holding transporter activity within the buffer can cause degradation of the signal. Seeing as its still a Cardassian transporter system and an old mining station to boot, it seems feasible the memory required to keep the signals stable would take up so much resources.

As it is, this was a really fun episode and is obvious their was a lot of fun put into it by all involved. I'd say high end of 3 stars.
Rivus - Tue, Apr 29, 2014 - 2:28pm (USA Central)
Not gonna lie, I was laughing from the moment the champagne popped, to every completely absurd Bond-ehr... Bashir girl name cooked up (Mona Luvs... What, exactly?), to Garak being Garak, to Kira giving the most hilarious "DA" I've ever heard (not that I hear much Russian)... But out of all of it, EVIL MASTERMIND OF MOUNT (SOON TO BE ISLE) EVEREST BENJAMIN SISKO was where I just lost it. It's like Brooks crossed Sisko's normal talking with Mirror Sisko's enthusiastic rabblerousing, and I just couldn't stop laughing. Granted, I missed sleep last night, so it could just be the delirium talkin', but this was quite enjoyable. Also, some of the most memorable music in Star Trek since The Inner Light (which REALLLLY feels twisted to say, now that I think of it), they really went all out.

Well played DS9. Somehow, this feels like a redemption after having to put up with those dull, plodding Dixon Hill episodes back in TNG. I'm hesitant to give this three and a half stars because of a lack of real plot... How about 3.33 repeating stars?
Hlau - Sat, Jun 28, 2014 - 7:37am (USA Central)
Looks like this was fun for the actors, especially playing the villains. Kira looks great as a Bond girl too. A shame Sisko didn't put on a stronger hammy accent.

I did love how nonchalant everyone was on that shuttle during the set up about their possible death 'in 10 seconds.'
Yanks - Wed, Aug 6, 2014 - 8:47am (USA Central)
And so the DS9 holodeck episodes begin...

"GARAK: I must say, Major Kira's certainly throwing herself into the role, Doctor."

"BASHIR: Honey, would you grant me one last request and take off those glasses?"

Lots of fun and eye candy in this episode.

Garak in a tux... :-)

Hammy 5 minute countdown... just long enough for Bashir and Garak to be rescued...

3 stars for me. These are much more enjoyable than the DS9 'Mirror' episodes.
Greg - Wed, Aug 27, 2014 - 8:30pm (USA Central)
I'm going to be a wet blanket and just say that this episode is... boring. Outside of the initial amusement of seeing the sprinkled introductions of each character as a spy cliche, the episode just kind of trudged along. The Eddington-Rom side of the story was perfunctory and the in-suite plot didn't really stay all that entertaining. 2 stars by Jammer's system, IMO. Watchable and nothing more, but not aggressively bad.
Dondi - Wed, Oct 8, 2014 - 12:51am (USA Central)
I accidentally fell asleep on this one about 30 minutes in. I don't care enough to see the ending, either.
Chris - Tue, Mar 17, 2015 - 4:03pm (USA Central)
With all that seismic activity and continental flooding at the end, they should have felt something even on Everest. And even if the top of Everest ultimate sat above the new sea level, it would have been inundated with tsunami waves before things settled down. Here we don;r even hear anything. Pretty lousy holosuite programming.
dlpb - Tue, Aug 18, 2015 - 10:25am (USA Central)
Why would they make the premise so ridiculous though ? You need entire space station's data worth of computer memory to store their brain patterns ? How stupid is that ? Do they mean to say that the space station's transporter can't hold more than a couple of people into the transporter buffer ? What about when Voyager holds all those telepathic aliens into the cargo bay transporter buffer ? Why, oh why would they do this to us ?

You're barking up the wrong tree. The whole premise of the episode is literally scientifically impossible. I dislike episodes like this for the reason that they hurt continuity in the universe the fiction is set in. We can never again feel any tension through "last second" beam outs... since we know even if something goes wrong during it, magic can fix all.

Taken as a standalone episode, this episode is very funny and entertaining. Even Sisko's overacting which is no different to his normal acting.
Abedfo - Wed, Sep 2, 2015 - 3:49pm (USA Central)
Speaking as a geology graduate, i can confirm sisko's plan wouldnt work!
William B - Mon, Nov 2, 2015 - 2:13pm (USA Central)
This is a weirdly fanfic-y episode, and I don't actually mean that in a bad way; "Garak tags along in Bashir's sexy Bond-movie holodeck program, and then the characters are replaced by the main cast!" is so outrageously silly and yet so obviously a ticket for fun that it seems more fannish than most episode premises. I guess that is generally true of holodeck episodes, and the closest analogue in TNG is "A Fistful of Datas," which is basically the same premise except with Data instead of the whole cast; while I like "AFoD" more than it seems most of the commenters on this site do, "Our Man Bashir" definitely picks a more specific target, comes up with a better goal for the characters to have, and sets up a better conflict between the holodeck-goers as they play off the main cast-as-holocharacters, and is just generally funnier and more fun, and so it's basically better in mostly every way.

First, the bad: well, okay, there is the whole ludicrousness of the transporter idea, but I'm not really that bothered about it. As with "The Sword of Kahless," though, I cry foul on characterization a little here, but unlike "TSoK" 1) the episode is clearly all in good fun, and 2) it's more of an annoyance than a character-destruction. The episode's main flaw to me is that Garak's bringing up his Obsidian Order past again and again is pretty flatly out of character from what we have seen from him across three seasons, and there is the occasional sense in this story that Bashir is right and that Garak really is more invested in teaching Bashir some kind of lesson about spy professionalism than he is in the life-and-death crisis they are in -- which we see, for example, in the way Garak pretty instantly drops his desire to end the computer program when Bashir shoots him, in a way that seems to be more because Bashir impressed him than that he seems genuinely afraid of what Bashir will do (in the next few scenes, e.g.). Along similar lines, Garak to some degree plays a bit of a wet blanket on the fun, pointing out how un-spy-like the Bond parody is, and eventually mostly offering little while Bashir makes the big creative play at the end of the episode. And I can see it, really I can, but it seems like a waste of Garak's talents to have him basically play the straight man to Bashir; Garak is a pragmatist, yes, but he is not a dullard but is in fact incredibly creative. Having Garak straight-up talk about how he used to be in the Order and be unable to see the value in fantasy at all runs counter to the Garak who would never tell the truth when a lie would do, who thought that the truth was sometimes just an excuse for a lack of imagination, and who prided himself on being a true original at all times.

I think there is a way to salvage this characterization though: as my girlfriend pointed out after watching, the Obsidian Order has just been destroyed, and we know from how the series plays out how genuinely unhappy this makes Garak, underneath it all. For Garak to drop pretense about being a spy only after his organization has been destroyed does make some sense, and further for Garak to start getting high-and-mighty about proper spy procedure similarly makes a whole lot more sense when you consider that he is defending his idealized image of the ruthless but effective spy agency when his whole spy agency just got totally wiped out. Bashir's interpretation that Garak is basically pouting because Bashir's fantasy life is stepping on Garak's toes then is true, but with an additional element of cruelty that Bashir fails to consider: Bashir's fantasy makes comic and silly something important to Garak that has also just been totally annihilated. That Garak was not even quite the type of spy he seems to be standing in for here may just be because Garak is still in mourning for a whole organization which is very farcically misrepresented by the Bond-like program.

Which is to say that while this episode is clearly a zippy adventure-comedy, and there is not quite enough justification for how Garak behaves here, it does better than other adventures ("TSoK") or comedies ("Little Green Men" -- though that one is closer to this one in quality) at integrating longstanding characterization dynamics. Garak enters Bashir's personal space, is affable and joking about his disapproval, but even from the first scene the conflict is set up clearly, even with foreshadowing (Garak suggests that Bashir "shoot him," albeit with a cork, in the teaser!). And Garak finds himself amused that Bashir has such an interest in the way the adult world works, and plays along with it for a while, but finally it's as if years of bottled annoyance (which only briefly came out in "The Wire") come out at once and he tells Bashir off for his naivete and insistence on his ludicrous belief that he can save everyone; Bashir can play in his fantasy land all he wants, but when it's time to live in the real world, it's Garak who will make the decisions. Bashir's shooting Garak to let him know he means business allows Bashir to reclaim the value of idealism and creativity as opposed to Garak's pragmatism, while also showing that he's willing to use a few Garak tactics of his own.

And I do basically like that since this is Bashir's fantasy that they are running around in, Bashir mostly can succeed in the ways he fails at life. The way he seduces bookish, quiet "Dr. Honey Bear" and lets her see her own beauty plays out like Bashir has finally figured out how to hit on s1-era Jadzia (who was serene and quiet at that time). He has Kira's romantic attentions, and the other men in his life, all of whom have some kind of authority either as senior command officers (Sisko, Worf) or as the experienced heavy (O'Brien, who let's not forget trashed Bashir's work in "Hippocratic Oath"), are portrayed as villains out to get him, but with whom Bashir is unflappably cool and not frightened. He did not even intend this assortment (it's more a matter of the fact that the Bond-like program basically has all women as romantic interests and all men as villainous rivals, because this is a very adolescent fantasy), but his ability to navigate it matches up with his growing confidence.

Things almost always get real in the holodeck, which is one of the more regular and somewhat frustrating cliches of Trekdom, but I like that here, Bashir and Garak can decide to stop playing at any time, it's just that their duty to others requires they keep going. In the end, while the casting of Garak as something of a square who doesn't get why ridiculous flights of fantasy are good is a bit silly, he sees the value in them, and Bashir play-acts his way a little closer to confidence in everyday life. Along the way, there are a lot of jokes, the always-enjoyable Bashir-Garak team-up, and the reveal that, yes, genre exercises are not always about verisimilitude but about creativity and fun. A very high 3 stars -- if Garak were allowed to be a tiny bit more Garak-y it could be higher.
William B - Mon, Nov 2, 2015 - 2:27pm (USA Central)
Oh, right -- Avery Brooks as the mad scientist is so perfect.

One of my favourite ludicrous details: did Bashir and Garak actually get knocked unconscious by Worf/Duchamps' exploding knock-out gas cigar?

I know I just wrote that last comment a minute ago, but on slightly further reflection I actually do think that Garak being deeply impressed after Bashir shoots him makes sense and is delightful. The issue is not, I think, that Garak really believes that he has no choice but to go along with Bashir now that Bashir is armed-and-dangerous; I think if Garak wanted to he could dive behind someone, end program, and that'd be that. However, I think he genuinely only believed that Bashir had whatever it takes to recognize the severity of their situation once he saw that Bashir was willing to make a choice -- to shoot Garak -- and that mostly restored confidence that Bashir knew what he was doing, in this particular situation, and allowed Garak to change his mind and go for the ride. To some extent, Garak always took a kind of professorial tone with Bashir, indulging Bashir's opinions but usually telling him why Bashir was wrong about the world, but he also has big respect for Bashir from "The Wire" among other places. For Bashir to stand up to him like that does make him back down, at the very least to see what happens next.

Garak's pragmatism and recommendation not to try to be a hero are perfectly in character, as is his frustration with Bashir's version of spy-hero. I just feel a little bit like they have Garak too literal-minded and too explicit about his past, and I still think it's a shame that he doesn't quite *do* that much, though he does give Bashir the idea for his end solution -- because he can't be a hero and save everyone, Bashir decides to save everyone by not being a hero, demonstrating that rather than being too caught up in his fantasy to know what is important, he knows exactly what is important and throws the fantasy in a hilarious way, to save the day. It's all very neat; I think it's a well-constructed hour.
Andrew - Mon, Nov 16, 2015 - 3:06pm (USA Central)
Not as bad as "A Fistful of Datas" or "Bride of Chaotica!" but I thought this was much worse than "Little Green Men," the Anastasia and Noah characters, though the former and Falcon were cute, felt too stretched-out one-notes and not enough was done with the others. Also having watched the Flynt movies this felt too much like a parody (or just imitation) of a parody.

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