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.