Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Doctor Bashir, I Presume"

**

Air date: 2/24/1997
Teleplay by Ronald D. Moore
Story by Jimmy Diggs
Directed by David Livingston

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Think of it Julian. If this thing works you'll be able to irritate hundreds of people you've never even met." — O'Brien

Nutshell: An okay main plot saddled with a horrendous subplot. Not too impressive.

Though reasonable at times, "Doctor Bashir, I Presume" is probably the weakest episode of DS9 so far this season (please note that I'm not counting "Let He Who Is Without Sin…" as an episode). The show takes the standard A/B-story structure, common to most current Trek shows. While the A-story is okay in places, it doesn't have the payoff it deserves. The B-story, meanwhile, is pretty much a waste of air time.

Doctor Lewis Zimmerman (Robert Picardo), the creator of the emergency medical holographic program, comes to DS9 to inform Doctor Bashir that he has been selected by Starfleet to become the model for a new holographic doctor. The new system (designed as a long-term medical hologram, or LMH) would be based completely on Julian's likeness, right down to the most subtle detail of his personality. In order to understand as much as possible about Bashir, Zimmerman interviews his closest acquaintances, from his fellow officers to his closest friends and even his parents, Richard and Amsha Bashir (Brian George and Fadwa El Guindi).

The problem is that Julian doesn't want his parents on DS9 or anywhere near him. Zimmerman invites them to the station anyway—against Julian's wishes and outside his knowledge—and it's a surprise for Bashir that can be called just about anything but "pleasant."

The best scenes in "Doctor Bashir, I Presume" are the uncomfortable ones of repressed scorn where Julian sits in malcontent with his parents. We know there's a history and a problem here, and Siddig does a decent job of conveying the sense of unhappiness without going overboard. The signs leading up to the big character explosion and the revelation of Julian and his parents' "secret" are also sensibly performed.

The secret revealed is that Julian is a product of genetic enhancement. When he was a young child he was slow and fell behind in school, and his parents, in an act of desperation, took it upon themselves to have Julian's DNA "resequenced." This turned Julian into a model character of physical and mental proficiency. The procedure was illegal, however, and if anyone were to find out about it now, Julian could lose his career and his parents could go to prison.

There are some relevant points here—given the recent successful sheep-cloning experiment and the moral implications of doing such genetic experiments with humans, "Doctor Bashir, I Presume" airs in an ironically timely fashion. The morality of "creating" or "enhancing" people genetically is a very interesting moral dilemma—and one that the Star Trek universe has deemed wrong. That's fine in itself, but there's not enough drama here. The show doesn't keep the power on long enough to make the story have the emotional impact it really needs. I liked Bashir's problem of coming to terms with his parents over what they did to him at a time when he was too young to have a say in the matter. However, there's simply not enough done with it. Julian's mother, in particular, doesn't have key lines where she should have, making much of the episode seem like a "Julian versus his father" story. And when the secret does come out into the open, it's done in a conveniently "plot"-induced way: when Julian's parents reveal key information to the holographic image of Julian while O'Brien and Zimmerman are standing within earshot in the next room.

The biggest drawback with this premise that makes it simply "okay" when it should've been "good" is the way the ending sidesteps practically all the consequences. Julian decides he's going to resign with dignity since his career is doomed anyway, but then Julian's father makes a negotiation in the eleventh hour with an Admiral Bennett (J. Patrick McCormack) that, as far as I can tell, goes against everything Julian has said about Starfleet's rules. Why exactly is it that Bennett allows Julian to keep his career in exchange for his father's agreement to spend two years in prison? Sure, it's the "noble act of redemption for his son" that seemed necessary under the show's initial painting of Richard Bashir as a man who normally doesn't take responsibility where he should, but the ease of Julian's escape from what seemed an impossible situation hurts dramatically quite a bit, and the whole story thus comes off looking somewhat transparent and lightweight.

Another big problem with the main story is that it's constantly interrupted by a nearly worthless B-story. The whole subplot involving Rom and Leeta's "unrealized romance" is worthy of being tossed out the nearest window, so far as I'm concerned. Once again Max Grodenchinchik and the writers portray Rom as a caricature completely devoid of the slightest remnant of subtlety, as well lacking all signs of a real personality. All the entire B-story does is convince me more than ever that Rom is a cardboard, exaggerated, epitome of idiocy with no hint of any social grace. It wouldn't be so bad if Rom were simply a little bashful or clumsy with women, but Rom's complete state of paralysis whenever Leeta talks to him is so hopelessly overstated and unfunny that it had me cringing more often than not. I don't think we really need to be hit over the head with a sledgehammer to realize Rom possesses such characteristics, but that's precisely what the writers have done with so many recent Rom plots, and I'm sick of it. As a result, Rom is by far my least favorite character of the ensemble.

Meanwhile, Leeta comes off looking fairly awful herself. Chase Masterson, while physically attractive, has lost all sense of charisma that her character seemed to have is seasons past. She's been virtually reduced to a superficial bimbo in a nice body. (Coming from the always-sexist Quark, the rather mean line of sarcasm to Leeta, "Sure you have brains, that's why I hired you," seemed scathingly amusing at the time, but it almost seems like a disturbing self-fulfilling prophecy in retrospect.) Leeta comes across in this episode about as shallow and empty-headed as I hope a regular character can get on this series, and that bothers me quite a bit, because I know the writing and actors are capable of much more. Tasteless attempts at comedy like the scene where Zimmerman visits Leeta in her quarters only to happen upon her just after she has stepped out of the shower (and then she conveniently drops her towel for a totally forced uncomfortable situation) are not funny. They're idiotic and lowbrow—not reasons I watch Trek.

On the other hand, we have an effective performance by Robert Picardo, who creates the real Lewis Zimmerman as someone who is similar to Doc on Voyager, but yet different enough to create a different character with more human qualities. Picardo works very well in almost every situation he appears in, whether playing opposite Brooks, Meaney, or Siddig. The acerbic sarcasm that Doc on Voyager has is present in Zimmerman, but at the same time there's a subtle downplay in the attitude that works wonders, and I think that's worthy of quite a bit of praise on Picardo's part.

Some of the early scenes concerning Zimmerman and Bashir that focus on the LMH plot are not of utmost importance to the real story here, but they do entertain as self-contained set-pieces—especially a fun scene featuring two Zimmermans and two Bashirs in the same camera frame.

Other than that I don't think there's a whole lot else to say about "Doctor Bashir, I Presume." I would not call this a bad show per se, but after balancing the passable main plot and the repulsive subplot, it comes out somewhere in the "mediocre" range.

As an aside, let me wrap up with a quick notion. Two weeks earlier when "In Purgatory's Shadow" aired and after which I peeked at the air schedule, I noticed "Doctor Bashir, I Presume" in the lineup. Based on the title I thought maybe this show would be a character analysis of Bashir after his experience in the Dominion prison and his thoughts (as well as everyone else's) on his being replaced by a Changeling imposter. It could've been a compelling follow-up to a major event, much the way TNG's "Family" followed up "The Best of Both Worlds." Too bad—I think I would've enjoyed that much more than this. Just a thought.

Previous episode: By Inferno's Light
Next episode: A Simple Investigation

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51 comments on this review

Alexander
Mon, Apr 7, 2008, 11:08am (UTC -5)
I rather liked this one. I think the whole Bashir story made sense on its own, and worked to remind Trekkers around about the Eugenics Wars and stuff.

I'd rate this 3 out of 4. It'd have been 3.5 out of 4, had it not been for the Leeta-Rom story.

But I felt it was a supremely entertaining episode, nonetheless.

Truth be told, though, a "Family"-esque episode that dealt with the repercusions of the changeling Bashir would've been preferable. But I like what we got, so..
Anthony2816
Tue, Apr 15, 2008, 11:54pm (UTC -5)
Isn't the name "Max Grodénchik"?
Destructor
Wed, Aug 26, 2009, 8:43pm (UTC -5)
I would also give this three stars. The conversation where Bashir speaks to O'Brien and then again to his parents BOTH reduce me to tears, they're excellent pieces of writing and acting. Throw in the wonderful Zimmerman and you've got one of my favourite DS9 eps.
Nic
Sat, Mar 20, 2010, 11:32pm (UTC -5)
The only thing this episode did was convince me that I'm not THAT bad with women after all. Leeta is a shallow and empty-headed superficial bimbo, and as such would never date Rom, no matter how he acted. They are now on my 'Character Assassination' list.

It's really too bad because Bashir's genetic engineering actually makes sense, I've heard some fans even believe that it was planned at the beginning of the series - deliberately getting a question wrong to avoid becoming valedictorian in his class, not wanted to look up anyone on Earth in "Homefront" - this could have been a great episode. But it was not to be.
larrylongballs
Sun, Apr 18, 2010, 11:20am (UTC -5)
I loved the Leeta Rom story. Grodenchik was great in the scenes where he was afraid of revealing his feelings. I also think this was one of Bashir's best.

I do think it could have been better. As in "Crossfire" better.

As another poster said, they really needed to address the changeling Bashir and solid Bashir's readjustment after spending months in a Jem Hadar prison.

Milstead
Thu, Nov 4, 2010, 8:07pm (UTC -5)
As explained by Nic, there was so much more potential for Bashir's story in this episode, given all the hints in the seasons prior. And the lack of attention to the changeling situation bothers me, as well.

In a perfect world, I'd have placed this episode before the 2-parter that preceded it. Julian's "clone" happened way too suddenly, and it would've been really interesting to see what would happen if the changeling were still on the station when his parents slip up about the family secret. The changeling has to find some way to play along, suspicions are raised, and it's existence there would potentially have more impact on the series. Segue into the 2-parter. Hmm.

But standing on its own, apart from the current main storyline, it's still intriguing and enjoyable. Leeta/Rom did nothing for me, but I always welcome the small moments when Miles realizes how much he likes and respects Julian.
Jay
Sat, Dec 25, 2010, 11:27pm (UTC -5)
Hmmm...In VOY's Lifeline, Zimmerman says he hasn't left Jupiter Station in four years, but this episode takes place just three years prior to that.

And boy, that condition he has in Lifeline must include rapid aging...
Elliott
Tue, Dec 28, 2010, 9:16pm (UTC -5)
If one excises the Leeta/Rom story, this is one of the better outings this season...finally, here's the Starfleet I've been missing (the Admiral asks Julian's father to report to prison and needs not enforce it with police action)--that's the Federation I know and love. The scenes with Bashir and his parents really work and mean something; it adds a desperately needed dimension of shame to his character. There was a big missed opportunity here for some interaction with Garak (that would have also helped tie it into the Changling experience), but alas the writers have a penchant for stupid B plots.

It was a pleasure to see Robert Picardo, it helped me feel like I was watching Star Trek again--I also appreciated the other allusion to Voyager, the penal colony in New Zealand where Tom Paris was serving.

Finally I hate Rom, I hate Leeta, may they die in an explosion together.
jon
Fri, Feb 4, 2011, 5:35pm (UTC -5)
I like how DS9 had a fairly mutlti ethnic cast and for that matter mutlti-species cast without resorting to national sterotypres e.g O'brien and bashir
Marcel
Fri, Mar 25, 2011, 6:53am (UTC -5)
I really liked this episode! It had Picardo of course but also a surprising twist with Bashir, geneticly engineered, which is still being used in the DS9 books.
Fortyseven
Fri, Sep 16, 2011, 7:04pm (UTC -5)
I'm surprised nobody has commented about O'Brien making Holo-Julian walk into a wall repeatedly. I was frickin' dying! :)
Jack
Sat, Dec 3, 2011, 4:11pm (UTC -5)
Would have been funny if the changeling Bashir was still around for this...
Chris Freeman
Tue, Feb 28, 2012, 12:27am (UTC -5)
You must not have been awkward with girls, because I thought Rom was perfectly awkward in this one. The awkward overly-shy trope is the one relationship type that the writers consistently get right, which I can only assume comes from experience on a show written by nerds for nerds.
Justin
Sun, Apr 1, 2012, 12:56pm (UTC -5)
@jon, the show's total disregard for ethnic stereotyping was never more evident to me than in the episode "Explorers" when Bashir and O'Brien - an Englishman and an Irishman - got drunk together and sang "Jerusalem," which is a very British nationalist song. And they did so without a hint of irony. They just sang it because it was fun to sing.
Nyk
Mon, Apr 23, 2012, 1:57pm (UTC -5)
@Chris: True, they get Rom's reaction right, but not Leeta's. I mean, in the real world, Leeta would probably laugh at Rom and make fun of him when talking to her friends. Then again, she's Bajoran, so maybe Bajoran women value intelligence in men more than Earth women, even when that intelligence only expresses itself in abstract subjects like engineering but not in the social realm (given that Kira also falls for the rather awkward but very competent Odo eventually would be another indication of this).

A more accurate depiction of the nerd/hot girl dynamic was in Stargate Universe, that between Eli and Chloe.
Snitch
Tue, May 1, 2012, 10:54pm (UTC -5)
Nice to see the doctor, one of the highlights of Voyager, but the story itself was kinda dull.
Leeta is stereotype in this one.
Well 2 Stars from me.
William
Sun, Nov 25, 2012, 7:32pm (UTC -5)
The show didn't live up to its potential. Maybe a half star more from me, but that's about it. But it was a three-star concept.
Michael
Wed, Aug 14, 2013, 8:40pm (UTC -5)
The main take away from this episode for me is just that the Federation's approach to genetic engineering is ludite and backwards. This is an episode that shows the cracks in the philosophy of the franchise. I get that it's a complex issue, but it's dealt with in the most arbitrary of ways. The whole notion that someone who is genetically gifted will have some ridiculous desire to dominate reduces the issue to star wars level of complexity. Genetic engineering = bad. Bashir himself contradicts that entire idea. Bashir is a walking, talking testament to the incredible potential of the technology. But we can't think about that, because that's too radical for trek.
DavidK
Fri, Aug 16, 2013, 6:49am (UTC -5)
@Michael
It's true, Trek has never really properly delved into any transhumanism ideas, which is a shame as it's one of my favourite topics. They'll touch on things like cybernetics briefly, but they seem to be things that the Federation just doesn't really do (I mean look at the zooming LaForge's implants can do in First Contact. I'd be going out and getting a pair of them installed! The Federation troops seen in DS9, if not genetically engineered, should be filled to the brim with enhancements)

But regarding genetic engineering specifically, I think it's not only a fear of what we might create, but also a general "nature is better" attitude that pervades most of our culture. Phrases like "not what nature intended" sum it up really, nature doesn't have a consciousness or agenda and is actually pretty good at imperfection (also I think the personification of nature might point to a religious origin).

In that light, I think Gene would have been all for some of the more cyberpunk themed concepts, but it's a particularly eccentric pill for an audience to swallow because it's so far removed from our understanding now.
Elnis
Thu, Aug 22, 2013, 5:42pm (UTC -5)
*The episode starts - Leeta walks up to Rom at the bar. My 14-year old self shouts out through my adult mouth ...*

"BOOBS!"

.. sorry, what was this episdoe about again?

*Walks into wall repeatedly*
Kotas
Fri, Oct 25, 2013, 8:25am (UTC -5)

There were enough good parts to keep it somewhat entertaining.

4/10
Ric
Sat, Dec 7, 2013, 12:13am (UTC -5)
I totally agree with Jammer when he points the dramatic problem of Julian not having to face any consequences of his whole-life official lies. This is a bit too much for me. One day, Sisko bombards and poisons an entire planet to arrest a traitor. The other day, Wolfe illegally harms the controlled weather of Risa just because he is jealous of Dex. Then later, Sisko prevents Bajor to enter the Federation based on magicbabble visions of the future. Today, Bashir assumes that he has lied to the federation during his own life, even during his medicine tests, for sure.

The consequences imputed by Starfleet for all those cases? None. Zero. Nada. This just cannot be credible, sorry. I get that DS9 tries to give grey tones to the ideal Roddenberrian future. For one, showing that judgements and moral choices in the frontier are not as simple as in the voyaging starships such as Enterprise, as Wolfe recognizes in the beginning of last season. Actually that is what makes DS9 so incredible for may of us (myself included). I do love the even somewhat anti-Roddenberrian tone used sometimes.

But one good thing is to give us a show where things are not as morally clear and simple as within Federation own ships. Pretty good. Another totally different thing is to show the same Federation and same Starfleet in the same reality making such heterogeneous decisions about Starfleer officers' misconduct just depending on which show we are watching.

In this point, the is just incoherent bad linking with the Trek universe, not shading Trek with tones of grey.
William B
Sat, Dec 7, 2013, 2:29am (UTC -5)
Somehow, I don't actually mind that Julian "got away with" this in this episode; his father paid the price because his father was the one who was actually responsible for Julian being genetically engineered. I get that Julian lied, and that should be a big mark against him, but it's also clear that one cannot choose one's heritage and Julian being barred for entry into Starfleet because of his parents' decision is something that was manifestly unfair to begin with. It is noteworthy though how this compares to Simon Tarses in TNG's "The Drumhead," who similarly had a genetic secret and whose primary sin was lying about it, and whose career Picard speculated might well be over.

I think Sisko is a bigger problem, but I might write about that in the What You Leave Behind comments.
Ric
Sun, Dec 8, 2013, 1:47pm (UTC -5)
@William B: I agree with your general reasoning. This Bashir situation is not the worst case of non-consequential misbehavior this season. In fact, it makes sense that the one to be punished is his father, as Bashir himself was too young when the genetic enhancing happened. Similarly, not letting Bashir entry into Starfleet would of course have been unfair (but who said the opposite?). Would be sort of a prejudice.

The issue is to not have any consequence, not even a small one (in fact not even a reprimand) for his life-time lies to the Starfleet. He chose to hide an important fact from Starfleet, not to mention to conceal a crime evidence to protect his father, obliterating justice. It is quite a lot for no consequence.
eastwest101
Wed, Dec 18, 2013, 4:09pm (UTC -5)
Lots of missed potential in this episode, I was actually going along with it alright with the appearance of Picardo and the LMH copy of Bashir and was expecting an interesting conceptual episode about the issues of identity, the changeling replacement of Bashir, holographic rights, imortality and Bashir's privacy but the "reveal" and consequences of the genetic enhancement was badly written and then descended into soapy maudalin melodrama wasting all the good work in the set-up and wasting the talents of the cast and guest star Robert Picardo. The B plot was also creepy risable and very badly written.
Jons
Wed, Feb 5, 2014, 4:38am (UTC -5)
I also do not understand the Federation's decision against genetic "aide". Having a character in A SPACE STATION eating food made by computers and who recently vacationed on a planet where the weather is artificially controlled saying that he's "unnatural" sounds completely disingenuous and ludicrous.

The truth is Star Trek writers didn't want to go into that because when ST was created, these things we seen as "cheating". For all the "wonderful" new technologies they had on the show, it was actually the lat 60s and most people still didn't have colour TV... and nobody really understood DNA engineering. So, like for cloaking technology, an arbitrary decision was made that the Federation were too good for either.

In reality of course, the Federation would have been crushed to pieces if they had decided indeed to NOT develop a cloaking device for their ships. It's like deciding that guns are a cowards' weapon and that you'll stay with a sword. Well, you may very well do that, but you'll lose. The same goes for genetic engineering, in truth it can be perfectly controlled (although there should be a lot of safeguards) and indeed the Federation sounds like Luddites and (like all Luddites) complete hypocrites, considering the rest of the technology they create and use daily!
Vylora
Thu, Feb 27, 2014, 6:55pm (UTC -5)
The A-plot in this was, for the most part, quite well done and highlighted by the always fantastic Robert Picardo as Zimmerman. Not to be discounted, of course, are the well-played scenes between the Bashir family. Julian's father taking the fall for breaking Federation law on genetic manipulation made a great deal of sense. It was after his fault. Julian may have gotten off a bit easy himself having lied to enter Starfleet. Further insights into that aspect are probably warranted. A discussion involving Julian's accomplishments and interviews with friends/co-workers would have been nice instead of "he's off the hook". I don't feel his father going to prison does enough without the benefit of added dialogue in that respect.

Star Trek in any series has a habit of lack of repercussions on characters. Though DS9 has some improvements in that area, it's far from perfect.

The B-plot works on its own terms concerning the logically-characterized idiot-savant personality of Rom. He's socially awkward in most respects despite being mechanically brilliant. He's also a Ferengi whose species apparently contains rather clumsily awkward personas - some more present in that regard than others. The Rom/Leeta scenes worked for me albeit on a level of pleasant diversion. The final act of the episode with Rom/Leeta/Zimmerman could've used a substantial rewrite, though, Zimmerman walking off after the cute alien boarding the ship made me grin.

All in all, I rather liked this episode. I actually like it a bit more than when I first saw it.

3 stars.
Bravestarr
Fri, Mar 7, 2014, 10:29am (UTC -5)
Jammer you're crazy. For five season we've seen almost NOTHING of Julian Bashir. Literally what do we know of about him? He's a doctor. Okay. 90% of his episodes revolve around some kind of medical theme and everytime he's always put his patients first. Does the guy have no life outside of being a doctor? Where's the character development? Where do we learn about him having to put himself out there and having to deal with something else besides treating peoples scrapes!?

Miles O'brien is the perfect example. Imagine every Miles episode involving him solving some sort of techinical problem with the station? Boring. But instead we get problems with his wife, we get him being in a faux prision, we get him defeating an evil wormhole alien. Miles does shit, Bashir is just a doctor who annoys people sometimes and has a hard time with the ladies.

Then we get this episode and we see Siddig use his acting chops. The scenes were great his parents as Bashir is filled with a dull rage at them. Bashir goes from an overly eager beaver to a sad panda as his "ultimate" secret is reavealed. And the ending scene where he reveals that he's been holding back his whole life just to make others feel better? I'm hoping that this plotline develops in further episodes. What really sucks though is I was spoiled earlier on while reading a book about Star Trek, so I wish that I hadn't know about this reveal before it was unveiled.

On a side note, the B plots almost always suck Jammer. Rom sucks, Leeta was never good, did you ever have any hope for these characters?

Toraya
Thu, Mar 20, 2014, 7:25am (UTC -5)
So many unsavory moments in what could have been a great story.

-- Leeta as a bimbo.
-- Rom's "I love you!". Rom has never talked to Leeta (nor has she ever said anything interesting) so there can be only one reason for his "love.". And it's not her wit.
-- Amsha Bashir as a stereotypical submissive-Pakistani-wife type, making soft placating sounds all episode while her husband and son fight. ( Even the Federation seems to consider her a nobody who was just obeying her husband and therefore deserves no punishment.)
-- Julian suffering no consequences
-- The casual reference to despicable Ferengi marriage customs, which are far too similar to despicable current-day earth customs (the buying and selling of brides as a business deal conducted between father and groom, with the female as property) to be at all amusing.
Robert
Mon, Jun 9, 2014, 8:39am (UTC -5)
I wish the writers had just let him resign and had Kira offer him his job back via a Bajoran uniform. It would have been a nice way to slam him with some real consequences and still change very little.
Grumpy
Mon, Jun 9, 2014, 10:40am (UTC -5)
Brilliant suggestion, Robert! (Though 15 years too late...) Having Bashir quit Starfleet might've complicated the Section 31 recruitment plot later, but that never stopped them before.
Robert
Mon, Jun 9, 2014, 1:11pm (UTC -5)
It also would have put him on the station during the early S6 episodes instead of on the Defiant. I don't know if that would have been more or less interesting.
Eric
Sat, Jun 28, 2014, 1:59am (UTC -5)
Something bothers me about the ending. The guy they were talking to was an admiral... the way the dialog was structured, he sounded like he was judge and jury for this case. Shouldn't that have been a civilian judge? The whole plea deal was settled by talking to this admiral for like, a few minutes (think about it: Julian went to Sisko's first thing in the morning, so not much time could have passed). This fits a pattern that I've been seeing on this show: You never see any politicians or civilian judges anywhere, even in that episode where Bajor was going to join the federation: The room was filled with starfleet uniforms, instead of civilians. I'm beginning to get the impression that the federation is a military dictatorship; I don't think this was intentional, its just badly thought-out writing.
2piix
Sat, Jul 12, 2014, 9:18am (UTC -5)
As one of those kids who was always ahead of the curve in school, this story makes me sad. I see it as an allegory for the sometimes distasteful role parents have to play to make their children a success, and the sometimes legitimate resentment their children have for being pushed (or even bullied) their whole lives.
Dusty
Wed, Aug 6, 2014, 10:01pm (UTC -5)
This episode was pretty good, but Jammer is right about it bringing up a huge issue that it couldn't deal with properly. The ending isn't a total cop-out a la 'Sons of Mogh', and I like that Bashir's father is finally taking responsibility for his actions in some way. But it also brushes aside the significance of Bashir's "enhancements" to DS9 and his relationship with the other crew members. Rom and Leeta were just there to lighten the atmosphere between the doctor's poignant family scenes, so their illogical relationship doesn't really bother me. And it was interesting to see the real, human version of Voyager's doctor.
Yanks
Thu, Aug 14, 2014, 10:56am (UTC -5)
Robert,

Brilliant idea about Bashir! That would have been perfect aside from future episodes when section 31 comes on scene.

Eric,

I believe this to be a Star Fleet issue, but I agree - joining the Federation isn't just a Star Fleet matter and the "party" should have included civilian representation (at LEAST ambassadors).

Leeta - Chase has incredible boobs, you really can't 'look past that' when evaluating her entrance into DS9. The way this business works I wouldn't be surprised if she was 'seeing' someone in the casting/writing department (she did try out for another DS9 part earlier). Bashir needed a girlfriend... now that she and Julian broke off their relationship, well - I guess Rom needed a girlfriend now. (wink-wink)

I just can't 'hate' Rom. I enjoy the character. Good for him I guess.

But on the 'A' story.

Did anyone else think Julian's parents reminded them of Worf's parents?

I wonder how Julian knew he was 'enhanced'?

I thought the punishment was fitting too. Sisko probably did some schmoozing with the ADM (which I would have done too) and they came to a reasonable compromise here.

Some of Alexander’s best acting to this point.

Of course, Picardo is always a welcome addition to the Star Trek scene.

I’ll go 3-stars for this one.
$G
Fri, Sep 12, 2014, 11:51pm (UTC -5)
2 1/2 stars for me, most of it for Bashir's speech about his father being an architect rather than a father.

This is a bizarre episode to follow up "By Inferno's Light". Without writing my own review (Jammer sums up most of my thoughts pretty succinctly on this one) I just want to say that this episode feels like it could have fit nearly anywhere in the series, like the writers were sitting on the script and pulled it out to take care of part of this year's 26-episode obligation.

This really, REALLY should have addressed Bashir's time in the Jem'Hadar prison. Is it even mentioned? If this is a pre-written script, could it not have been adapted to include SOME references to the events currently going down? If it's not a pre-written script, wow.

I'm surprised RDM put out such a clunker. The thing is that it's not even a BAD episode. Mediocre at best, but it's so tone-deaf considering everything else that's going on. You'd think Moore would have pushed to include some of those elements in this show regardless of how much the writers' room wanted this to be a genetic enhancement story.
GRiM
Mon, Jan 26, 2015, 2:47pm (UTC -5)
Why play for the bullseye when playing for triple 20 would be better?

I always wondered this and especially now when apparently Julian "played" properley at end of episode.

If you're playing days properley you would be going for triple 20 not bullesye as bullseye is only 50.
TransformerSWO
Mon, Apr 27, 2015, 1:43pm (UTC -5)
To me, one of the main reasons genetic enhancement is banned in the Federation (beyond the knee-jerk fear of Khan) is that it will naturally enforce a terrible competitive environment. Parents with the means to do so will now (seeing that the consequences are minor) bring their kids in for upgrade, or risk falling behind. Your kid can be brilliant and successful, and you just have to be willing to spend a couple of years in minimum security. A lot of parents will be signing up! And competition keeps getting tougher, which imposes real costs on the children. Surprised that Starfleet's JAG admiral doesn't take that into account when rendering his very hasty decision.
dlpb
Tue, Jun 2, 2015, 11:46pm (UTC -5)
This was a decent episode. Much better than the 2 stars it's been given. The downside, for me, is that Julian being a super human was shoehorned in from nowhere. It was a really bizarre and silly thing to do to his character. It certainly wasn't planned.

But the interactions between all the characters was good. It's good to have proper character development. Just a shame that in this case it's a bit of an unrealistic development. I liked the fact Julian and his family felt real. A lot of time in Trek, there is no conflict or anything that makes circumstances feel real. Here, it did.
dlpb
Tue, Jun 2, 2015, 11:50pm (UTC -5)
Why play for the bullseye when playing for triple 20 would be better?
---------

I have no idea whose idea it was to put darts in Trek but, as a pretty good dart player myself, I enjoyed it. I'd think that O'Brien's actor was the one who asked for it, given his Irish background. But when I watch him play, he is not standing, aiming, or even throwing correctly. And surely he'd have corrected the writers about the scoring system.

They felt the need to put darts into the show and didn't do any research into the rules.
MsV
Sun, Aug 23, 2015, 1:32am (UTC -5)
@Yanks: Did anyone else think Julian's parents reminded them of Worf's parents? YES, I even went to TNG "Family" to see if they looked alike. The two mothers favor,the fathers look nothing alike.

Another thing we have in common is I like Rom too.

I just wish they had not made Julian genetically enhanced. It kills the idea that he came in second when he graduated from Starfleet Medical, he missed that question on purpose, drawing to attention away from himself. I liked the idea that he was naturally a great doctor.
Yanks
Sun, Aug 23, 2015, 12:29pm (UTC -5)
Thanks MsV,

It's not like he's Borg or something like that. In trek Genetic enhancement is always "bad" because of our beloved Khan. But in cases like this, I don't see it as bad at all.
NoPoet
Fri, Aug 28, 2015, 4:30pm (UTC -5)
Not sure if anyone said this, but this is the only episode of Trek where characters from three different series appear on screen at the same time or in the Sam episode.

It's also one of the only VOY and DS9 crossovers. I always wondered why no episodes of DS9 mentioned Voyager's disappearance.
methane
Mon, Jan 4, 2016, 8:14pm (UTC -5)
It's noteworthy that there is almost no discussion of whether genetic enhancement should be outlawed. One gets the impression the writers themselves weren't quite convinced, but accepted that it was in the Star Trek universe. Instead, the ethical question in the episode is whether it would be justified for a child to face a lifetime of restrictions because his parents decided to have him "improved".

The writers pretty clearly had the same answer William B had above: "no." The responsibility was his parents', although only his father steps forward. The deal struck at the end seems to implicitly accept that it isn't right that Bashir would be barred from service because of his parents' actions.

Of course, the episode isn't just about the legal consequences of Bashir's enhancement, it's also about the emotional fallout. His scenes with his parents are about him dealing with his suppressed anger over this. O'Brien, the "everyman" of the series, assures Bashir that this doesn't change the way he'll think of him, although the last scene with the dart game somewhat questions this.

All in all, a strong A-story, with good acting all around. As to the B-story...I was fine with it. I wouldn't recommend it, but I might have laughed once or twice.

A few comments from above:

-From Nyk: "Leeta would probably laugh at Rom and make fun of him when talking to her friends. "

Ehhh, I've certainly known women like that, but it's generally a sign of their own insecurity (they don't see themselves as very attractive, and need to cut other people down to make themselves look better). There are many attractive people who are quite open-hearted, regardless of their intelligence.

-From Toraya: "Rom has never talked to Leeta"

They worked in Quark's together for years, and were both leaders in the "strike" last year. They know each other well for the beginning of a relationship. Even if Rom is inept in conversation, everyone who's dated for a while knows you learn far more from observing how someone reacts in a variety of situations than you do from conversation. That said, their "love" is probably an adolescent version of the emotion...the same type shown in a typical rom-com (they declare their love....end credits).

"Amsha Bashir as a stereotypical submissive-Pakistani-wife type, making soft placating sounds all episode while her husband and son fight."

I took it quite differently. I though it was a pretty standard relationship where the father-son have intense arguments and the mother/wife faces the difficult decision of figuring out when to avoid the crossfire and when to try and play the peacekeeper. Mother/daughter relationships can have the same dynamics, though they aren't shown as often in drama.
Diamond Dave
Sat, Jan 23, 2016, 2:51pm (UTC -5)
It's a rare episode that takes what looks to be a typical comedy and turns it up to something that actually has a bit of soul. Pulling together an explanation for Bashir's character realistically and organically - and to deliver it as a surprise - is something of a triumph for the writers.

The earlier scenes are nicely light-hearted, as two massive egos play off each other. Of course it's a pleasure to have Zimmerman appear, and whoever decided to put Morn in the talking heads is a genius.

I actually liked the Leeta/Rom story, although spent most of the episode wanting to punch Rom in the face. Go figure. 3 stars.
William B
Mon, Jan 25, 2016, 1:13pm (UTC -5)
Like many commenters, I thought this was quite a good episode. It is oddly structured, definitely. Zimmerman's visit leads to a lot of material that mostly ends up being irrelevant once Bashir's secret is out, since the LMH program gets dropped (and so Zimmerman only sticks around for Rom/Leeta material). But it does matter, I think. First off, I like the idea that Bashir's secret gets discovered mostly because he is such a terrific success; it's rather poetic that the genetic modifications were done to get Bashir to a certain level of success, and that led to the fame which eventually exposed that particular skeleton that got him there in the first place. Second, I think that the interviews with Bashir's friends emphasize, first off, how well Bashir has managed to keep "closeted" on his genetic status, as well as how much he has changed since the beginning of the series. The latter, of course, is very important because most of the reason people like him now has to do with the way he has grown as a person, and not just because of the genetics. (It’s annoying that Garak is absent from this episode, though—wouldn’t it be nice to have Zimmerman interview him? And seeing Garak’s reaction to Bashir having had this secret all this time would be pretty worthwhile.)

The family dynamics between Julian and his father ring true. (I like methane’s interpretation of Julian’s mother’s role here.) There is a bit of an extratextual kick from Bashir's family's race, which I don't think has any impact in-story in the 24th century but links the pressures his parents were under in some ways to the problem of immigrants wanting to assimilate and thrive in the West, and particularly inadvertently placing extraordinary burdens on their children to make sense of their lives. Either way, Richard Bashir also has a somewhat lower-class English accent, which suggest that there may be some remnants of class markers even in the 24th century. I like, though, that the story of the Bashirs' difficulty, both Richard's in his own career and Jules' as a child (and the parents' as a whole), are very convincing within the Utopian TNG-era framework set up. The Bashirs did not have to start robbing to pay off gambling debts or whatever, and there seems to be no particular difficulty at *surviving*, but on some level thriving always remains somewhat difficult, and somehow Richard never figured out how to bring an order to his own life and priorities. Jules was a slow child and his parents were afraid to let him fall further and further behind, and have a life of mediocrity to look forward to, where his physical needs would always be met but he would always feel inferior. I have wondered what the best current-day real-world analogue is for illegal genetic enhancements are—performance-enhancing drugs in sports, maybe?—but mostly I think it works best in this episode for the pressure exerted onto children by their parents to *be better*, sometimes because of the parents’ own insecurities and sometimes out of a genuine desire by the parents to make a better life for their suffering child. Bashir’s mourning for his lost childhood as the person he was before his parents transformed him matches up with his parents’ declaration that he was unhappy, struggling, miserable, and we are left without a clear answer as to whether what his parents did ultimately helped their son or not.

I know that Siddig was not told ahead of time about the genetic enhancement reveal and was understandably unhappy about it (and I have also read that he deliberately sabotaged some later performances so they would stop giving him Data-esque lines, which is less professional but also in some senses understandable). And I agree that this development was not in any particular way planned. But as far as retcons go, this one has always made sense to me. Bashir has always been an unusual, top-of-his-generation medical genius, and he has also always seemed both to put his intelligence and medical skill as his defining trait and had large insecurities about it. It’s standard gifted-child issues, and it’s more poignant when we find that his giftedness was artificially created by his parents, whom Julian felt never quite loved the him who existed before the enhancement. His difficulty finding worth in himself except for his daring medical deeds is consistent with someone who really wonders if his intelligence is all that makes him important, and who also “knows” that his intelligence is not some universe luck-of-the-draw but is the result of his parents’ cheating in the genetic lottery. I think the reason his friendship with O’Brien is so important here and elsewhere is that O’Brien’s “ordinariness” (“uncomplicated,” as in “Statistical Probabilities”), or everyman status (despite being himself a brilliant engineer), helps confirm that Bashir actually can get in touch with other people at large, and not just other exceptionals, and thus perhaps let go of needing his super-duper exceptionality to prove his worth. This makes sense also of O’Brien being the focal point of Bashir’s “coming out” as genetically enhanced, rather than having him have conversations with Dax or Garak.

I think the ending is meant to suggest that Julian had no responsibility for what happened to him, and so it makes sense for Richard to go to jail…except that, uh, Julian lied for a few decades about it. I mentioned Simon Tarses way up there (lying about being a quarter Romulan), and this seems to be worse by Federation law standards. So it is a bit of a cheat. If Starfleet is serious about their deterrent policy then it seems like having Bashir get to stay in Starfleet because he lied successfully long enough to become a raging success is going to help them. I don’t really mind it all that much here, nor that the episode does not really even make the case for why genetic engineering is illegal—the admiral name-checks Khan, and that is that—because I know that future episodes will do some work addressing this. It makes the episode a bit incomplete, but I’m okay with the focus being purely on the personal.

As for the subplot, no. The problem is that we are being asked to invest in the Rom/Leeta relationship despite the entire history of their relationship on screen being “Bar Association” and Leeta’s line about finding Rom cute and very sexy in “Let He Who Is Without Sin….” It is a comedy plot, so I get that we don’t need to invest that much, but Leeta is going to plan her whole life on whether or not Rom can get up the courage to ask her out, I guess, which is the same as him getting the courage to say he loves her, because who cares about all those intermediate steps. Robert Picardo does save some of the material, but it is mostly very painful.

3 stars for the whole package—say a guarded 3.5 for the Bashir material and a 1-1.5 for the subplot, which fortunately takes up little time.
JC
Tue, Feb 23, 2016, 5:57pm (UTC -5)
Given that Julian was allowed to continue practicing, no actual reason was ever given for why he couldn't be the LMH template.

I was also disappointed with the complete lack of follow-up from Zimmerman, in addition to being disappointed by everything above.

Also the previous episodes consequences were completely lost here, even something as simple as having Klingons walking around would have been a welcome touch of continuity.

At the end this episode boiled down to nothing more than a way to permanently ruin bashir and OBriens future dart games, which was always a welcome source of camaraderie.
BZ
Thu, Apr 21, 2016, 8:30pm (UTC -5)
@JC,
you're kidding, right? The first scene of the episode is a closeup of the dabo table with a Klingon playing. Very potent reminder without hitting you on the head with it
Luke
Sun, May 15, 2016, 1:07am (UTC -5)
I have two big complaints about "Doctor Bashir, I Presume?", one from the A-plot and one from the B-plot. First, it's painfully obvious that the concept of Bashir being genetically enhanced was just as much an eleventh hour decision on the part of the writers as Richard Bashir's decision to inform Sisko and the admiral was for him. Second, I really don't care for how Dr. Zimmerman is treated in the B-plot.

The revelation that Bashir is an Augment (a term which wasn't invented until ENT but which I'm borrowing) is a classic example of the writers literally pulling an idea straight out of their asses. There is quite honestly zero build-up to the reveal, it requires some decidedly selective re-interpretation of previous Bashir-focused episodes in order to work and happens so relatively late in the series that it comes across as something of a "wouldn't it be neat if...." concept. Still, once you get past the dubious nature of its set-up, the A-plot is surprisingly good (not perfect, but very good). On the plus side, the Bashir family dynamics work almost perfectly. With such a massive pink elephant sitting in the middle of the room, which nobody wants to address (or simply can't address), it's completely natural that everyone involved would begin to interact toxicly. On the negative side, Amsha's defense of their actions rings somewhat hollow and really needed more work in the writing room. "You have to understand that we didn't do it because we were ashamed but because you were our son and we loved you," she implores. I don't buy it. It really does come across that they were ashamed of having a son who was falling behind his classmates. Neither her or Richard appear to have loved Jules Bashir as the person he was and so determined to change him. While I appreciate that the writers were trying to make their decision somewhat sympathetic, I don't think they all together succeed. Again on the plus side, Richard's decision to finally accept responsibility and go to prison so his son can retain his life is a noble sacrifice (and Richard is an wonderful character all around - it's nice to see a Human who isn't supremely competent at virtually everything, something Trek has a weakness for). But, again on the negative side - why is he the only one who gets sent off to the New Zealand penal colony (which is apparently where all Human criminals end up - it's also where Tom Paris served his prison term). Wasn't Amsha equally responsible for the decision to genetically engineer Bashir? Why does she escape any punishment?

But the big plus the episode has in it's favor is it's relevancy to real-world issues. William B said up-thread - "I have wondered what the best current-day real-world analogue is for illegal genetic enhancements are—performance-enhancing drugs in sports, maybe?" Well, I think I have an analogue. While we don't yet have the technology to genetically engineer a person, we do have the technology to discard certain people who don't "measure up." There have been some studies that have indicated that somewhere around 90% of babies prenatally diagnosed with Down Syndrome are aborted. And that parents who decide to keep a child with Down Syndrome are oftentimes looked upon with thinly disguised disgust. In fact, some people see it as a full-on moral responsibility to see that no such babies are born, since we have the ability to stop it. I, myself, have a friend who has a son with Down Syndrome. He wasn't, however, prenatally diagnosed and she and her husband literally didn't find out until they were in the delivery room. Then, with her holding the minutes-old newborn in her arms, the doctor and head nurse both flat out said "I'm so sorry; if we had known earlier, you could have had an abortion." Naturally my friend was totally disgusted. The point is that it's simply cruel to assume a simple genetic accident or defect could rob a person of his inherent value. Fortunately, Trek has usually agreed with me where this issue is concerned, and "Doctor Bashir, I Presume?" fits in nicely with that trend.

Then there's the Rom/Leeta B-plot. While I don't think it was anywhere near as bad as Jammer apparently did, it did need a lot of work. First, again while I appreciate what the writers were attempting to do (this time with Rom's nervousness around Leeta), it just doesn't ring true to the character. I love the fact that they were trying to portray a case of severe social anxiety (the closest Trek ever came to that previously was with the character of Barclay) because I, personally, have suffered from truly debilitating social anxiety around women. Jammer says that Rom here is "a caricature completely devoid of the slightest remnant of subtlety" and "a cardboard, exaggerated, epitome of idiocy with no hint of any social grace." Well, *that* is rather exaggerated, in my humble opinion. Rom's level of discomfort around Leeta is EXACTLY the level of anxiety I've experienced my whole life around any attractive woman. So, he's not a caricature. People like this do exist in the real world; I'm living proof. The problem is that it just doesn't fit with Rom's previously established character. Yes, he's shy and bashful around Leeta, but he certainly didn't have anywhere near this level of difficulty interacting with her in "Bar Association", did he? His sudden turn toward crippling social phobia here just comes directly out of left field. I suppose you could say that's because of his experience with Prinadora, Nog's mother. But that doesn't explain why he was able to talk to Leeta in previous episodes. Good grief, isn't this the same guy who openly asked this very woman for a hand-job?! Second, why the hell didn't Leeta just ask Rom out herself in the first place?! And please, spare me the cliched nonsense of "women aren't taught that they can do that." In the real world they most certainly are and have been for at least the last two generations. Third, what connection do these two plots have to each other? I suppose you could say there is the shared theme of "secrets being revealed", but that's about it. I haven't seen a two plot episode this disjointed since "Life Support" - unsurprisingly, another episode with a fairly serious A-plot bogged down by a light-weight B-plot involving one of the recurring Ferengi characters in a romantic situation.

But the big problem is, again, the treatment of Dr. Zimmerman. While the writers did the right thing with a crossover guest character here - i.e. didn't a.) let him completely steal the show by having all the focus on him instead of the "Deep Space Nine" characters (like most of Troi's and Barclay's appearances on VOY or how Riker and Troi utterly destroyed ENT's finale) or b.) have him be nothing but a corny and pointless cameo appearance (shades of Mirror Tuvok come immediately to mind!) - the way he is basically just discarded once Rom actually plucks up his courage and tells Leeta his feelings for her is rather off-putting. Apparently the main "message" of this plot one of "the shy, socially clumsy guy getting the hot girl." Well, isn't Zimmerman another shy, somewhat socially clumsy guy? Granted, he's nowhere near as bad as Rom is in this episode, but he's still somewhat of a klutz around women. And yet, the episode basically just tells him to go jump off a cliff, or maybe continue pursuing other unattainable women, once Leeta and Rom are together. Was that really necessary?

Wow, that ended up being much longer than I anticipated. Long story short - a good episode which is dragged down from the heights it could have achieved by some really noticeable flaws.

7/10
Joey Lock
Wed, Jul 20, 2016, 9:00pm (UTC -5)
The only bit of this that I'm not too fond of is the genetic enhancement reveal scene, the bit where his father goes "And just so there's no misunderstanding, I give you my word that at no time in our interview with Doctor Zimmerman will we ever mention or even hint at the fact that you were genetically enhanced as a child. " There was no need for him to openly say that, it was too obvious and not subtle in anyway shape or form, there was no need for him to mention the genetically engineering as a child because Bashir already knew of the secret, he could have gone "hint at the fact of our little secret" but because the audience needed to know what the secret was, he says the secret out loud. It just seems a clunky, obviously unsubtle way of revealing what the secret was especially seeing as its a public space, anyone could have been in the next room or walked in the Infirmary behind them etc.

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