Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Hippocratic Oath"

***

Air date: 10/16/1995
Teleplay by Lisa Klink
Story by Nicholas Corea and Lisa Klink
Directed by Rene Auberjonois

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"It smells like a garbage dump."
"I'm sorry I couldn't find a nicer place to crash-land. Should we try again?"

— Bashir and O'Brien

Nutshell: Not up to the first two episodes of the season, but a good show with a good argument.

When an accident allows a Jem'Hadar soldier named Goran'Agar (Scott MacDonald) to free himself of the drug dependency that keeps the Jem'Hadar masses under direct control of the Founders, he captures Bashir and O'Brien—ordering them to help him in his mission to free his military unit from the drug as well.

Well, "Hippocratic Oath" can't really live up to the first two installments of this season, but considering those first two installments what do you want? This episode is, however, another good outing, featuring an interesting twist in the Jem'Hadar, showing that they do have their own internal vulnerabilities. Given the right circumstances, this idea could show up again in future episodes, possibly as an undoing of the control the Dominion has over its military.

Although this show is not always on-the-money, it is a good premise, and the writers do capitalize on the opportunity characterwise. We again get a closer look at the Jem'Hadar and their lifestyle, which is no more than that of a 24-hour soldier. However, it's interesting to note how Goran'Agar becomes more and more able to think independently and question his service to the Founders now that he has freed himself of his drug addiction. He begins to develop his own moral structure.

Bashir begins thinking about helping Goran'Agar overcome the addiction—which puts him in major conflict with O'Brien on the matter. O'Brien, more of a hardened soldier himself, has doubts about Goran'Agar's sincerity. Besides, what if freeing the Jem'Hadar from the Founder's short-leash control leads the Jem'Hadar to go out on a conquering spree of the Alpha Quadrant? O'Brien refuses to help them. Bashir orders him to. O'Brien disobeys the orders. The result is a rather unsettling clash of these two ideals and their friendship. Kudos to the writers for threatening one of the series most well-defined friendships over a high-staked polemical topic that these two see in completely opposite ways. This is what defines the heart of "Hippocratic Oath" and makes it work.

The resolution of the Jem'Hadar plot line goes basically the way it has to go. Bashir is ultimately unsuccessful, partly because O'Brien intervenes in (well, actually destroys) his attempts to free Goran'Agar's troops. Although the overall results of the plot are not exactly earth-shattering, it is quite possible that we will see this element of the Jem'Hadar again. And the character dynamics in this episode are terrific.

A subplot featuring Odo and Worf at odds with each other on security measures makes a whole lot of sense and has a number of relevant points. It shows Worf trying to adapt to his new position and drives home the point of how differently these two characters go about doing things. In a reassuring scene between Sisko and Worf, the Captain tells him that starship officers often find it a bit awkward learning the unofficial rules of the station. "You'll fit in, Commander," he tells him. "Just give it time."

Previous episode: The Visitor
Next episode: Indiscretion

Season Index

9 comments on this review

Ospero - Sat, Nov 3, 2007 - 10:42pm (USA Central)
This is one of the few cases where my opinion is different from Jammer's. I consider this episode (or, more precisely, the A-story) one of the best character pieces done on DS9, and Goran'Agar is one of only two Jem'Hadar ever to transcend the "universal soldier" stereotype (the other is "Rocks and Shoals"'s Remata'Klan). Were it not for the rather unnecessary B-story (why exactly is it that Odo investigates stuff that goes beyond the station? Isn't that exactly what Worf is supposed to do?), this would rate at four stars in my book, and as it is, I still give this three and a half.

Admittedly, this episode is easily overlooked following the two stellar starter episodes of the season. But I for one hold it as an equal to "The Way of the Warrior" and not as far behind "The Visitor" as a three-star rating would imply.
Jayson - Wed, Jan 30, 2008 - 6:10am (USA Central)
I really like this episode because it deals with a very interesting theme of controling soldiers through the use of drugs which is an idea that goes all the way back to Encounter At Farpoint when Q shows the crew a dark period in earths past.
Damien - Thu, Jun 11, 2009 - 9:11am (USA Central)
I also liked this one more than Jammer and would put it on equal footing with the season's openers as an intelligent exploration of character motivation and perspectives on free will. I even liked the B story, though I still have no idea what Worf's job actually is. What does someone whose duty is to 'coordinate all Starfleet activity in this sector' actually do?
Maaz - Sat, Sep 18, 2010 - 3:27pm (USA Central)
Jammer, although I usually agree with your reviews, I gotta say that I just loved this one.

Clearly it can't compete with the earlier two, but its a very good way to bring things back to the large threat of the Dominion and at the same time, add character to the Jem'Hadar soldiers.

Here you have a unit commander, who, when it boils down to it, wants the best for his men. He wants freedom, he wants to end their servitude. And you have Bashir, who, once he sees that its possible for him to be more than a programmed killer, allows his healing nature to come out. And O'Brian, the soldier, who sees this as untying their enemy's hands. Its not until the end, in that last dialogue on the planet, where Goran'Agar says to O' brian "you are a soldier? Than you explain" and O'Brian tells Bashir "he's their commander, they trusted him, he can't abandon them". That made a lump in my throat.

We knew how it was gonna end, there were more seasons of the Dominian war so their soldiers wouldn't be free yet. But that didn't mean they didn't want to be free.
Jay - Tue, Oct 18, 2011 - 5:38pm (USA Central)
In other episodes it is restablished that ketracel white is all the Jem'Hadar need (no drink, no food, no sleep)...so presumably it is not just a drug, but also their only source of nourishment (and presumably water, unless they drink that separately), so being "immune" to the white would seem to result in eventual starvation.
David - Mon, Nov 26, 2012 - 1:40am (USA Central)
@Jay
Replying 12 months too late, but oh well. I just rewatched this episode and Goran'Agar isn't said to be immune, in fact Bashir detects that his body is somehow generating its own supply of ketracel-white, but he can't find any sort of gland or organ that is the origin. Which is sufficiently mysterious that we can't nitpick it too directly, haha.

If the white is their source of nourishment, that would mean his body is feeding itself! Not sure how that works, but oh well. He's still breathing, I suppose a sufficiently advanced lifeform could synthesise it from oxygen. Or something. I'm just making crap up now, which is technobabble in a nutshell really.

Regarding the rating, I'd rate it over some of the other three star episodes from this season, but under others. I guess that just means a four-star rating system can only have so much fidelity, eventually you have to lump some varied episodes into the same category.
Aaron - Wed, Feb 27, 2013 - 2:55pm (USA Central)
I thought this was an extremely good episode. 3.5 to 4 stars. I am just now watching this series, and I had no idea it got so good. Why didn't more people talk about it? I like both the A and B stories.

At first it seemed like a no-brainer to find a cure to the Jem'Hadar addiction, but O'Brien brought up an interesting point: what if they use their freedom to go on a rampage? The Dominion at least is not actively invading the Alpha Quadrant. How do we know which situation is better? This is a Prime Directive episode with no mention of the Prime Directive.

Nitpick: Dr. Bashir knew a heck of a lot about Jem'Hadar physiology from a prior episode and could even synthesize the drug. In another episode, he would have have easily been able to technobabble up a cure.

I hope they don't push the reset button on Bashir and O'Brien's friendship, but I'm sure they will.
Kotas - Wed, Oct 23, 2013 - 12:43pm (USA Central)

Another solid episode. Season 4 starts very strong.

7/10
Quarky - Sat, May 24, 2014 - 5:07am (USA Central)
O'brien really gets on my last nerve in this ep. Bashir is his commanding officer. He should have obeyed Bashir. Bashir even gave him the option to leave. I don't care if Obrien thought he was saving bashir's life. He never would have acted this way toward Picard or even Sisko. He didn't respect Bashir. He talked down to him and yelled at him. I find obrien yells a lot at people. He's kind of grumpy. Bashir should have brought obrien up on charges and we could have had a few episodes of obrien in the brig. Very disappointed in the chief in this one.

Submit a comment

Above, type the last name of the captain on Star Trek: TNG
Notify me about new comments on this page
Hide my e-mail on my post

Season Index

Copyright © 1994-2014, Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of any review or article on this site is prohibited. Star Trek (in all its myriad forms), Battlestar Galactica, and Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda are trademarks of CBS Studios Inc., NBC Universal, and Tribune Entertainment, respectively. This site is in no way affiliated with or authorized by any of those companies. | Copyright & Disclaimer