Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Extreme Measures"


Air date: 5/17/1999
Written by Bradley Thompson & David Weddle
Directed by Steve Posey

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"I misread you. I thought you were just a misguided idealist. But you're a dangerous man. People like you would destroy the Federation if given a chance." — Sloan to Bashir

Nutshell: An unpleasant surprise. This episode could've been many great things, but it chooses many of the most disappointing paths.

Many aspects of "Extreme Measures" seem grossly out of place. The final stretch of DS9 so far has been woven together into a mostly well-thought-out story that understands the nature of a greater purpose. Seeds are planted, then they grow. But with this episode, we have a primarily self-contained plot that, for the most part, seems to go nowhere we needed to go—certainly not where I wanted to go. What's most disappointing is that Section 31 is brought in as the story's central element, and then not used for what it has come to best represent—an immense moral issue with which our characters must wrestle.

This could've been a great episode. It should've been a great episode. Frankly, I'm a little shocked that it didn't live up to its potential. This has to be one of the most unexpected disappointments of the season.

With time for Odo running out (estimates show the disease will kill him within a week), the plot continues from "Tacking into the Wind," as Bashir and O'Brien prepare for Section 31 to show up on their doorstep as a possible insight into the disease that infects Odo (as well as all the Founders). They confess their plan to Sisko, who isn't happy about the legal or ethical aspects of the plan (that is to say, Bashir's plan to capture an agent and then use Romulan mind-probing equipment to find the truth is both illegal and unethical), but he goes along with it in the interests of saving his crewman's life. And besides, this is the Sisko who lied and cheated to bring the Romulans into the war in "In the Pale Moonlight," and who just last week told Worf to do "whatever it takes" to prevent Gowron from making a military blunder.

Given all that's going on in terms of the moral issues and the undertaking of "extreme measures," as the episode calls itself, this story should be rich with ethical debate, the questioning of tactics, the challenging of morality, and the subsequent challenging of those challenges.

What can I say? It's not.

Sure, there are some interesting moments to be found scattered through the hour (just look at my quote for Sloan at the top of this review and consider where the dialog alone could've gone), but there's not nearly enough analysis of the issues that make this story worth telling.

The big problem, I think, is that "Extreme Measures" approaches its subject with the completely wrong type of plot. Perhaps some details of that plot are in order. Bashir's plan sort of works; his bait of alleging to have found a cure brings Section 31 to the station to seize the cure. Bashir and O'Brien capture Sloan (William Sadler) and isolate him in a room for questioning. It's at this point the story should've turned interesting, with Sloan and Bashir in a room together with little to do but talk. Their initial conversations are actually pretty good, but they aren't permitted to develop to fruition.

Instead, Sloan activates a device in his brain designed for suicide. This leaves Sloan's body dead except for some traces of activity in his brain, which has about an hour of life remaining. Bashir and O'Brien then realize they must use the Romulan mind equipment to connect themselves to Sloan's brain, digging through his mind in a virtual-reality-type situation to find the cure to Odo's disease.

As far as I'm concerned, this is simply the wrong story to be telling. The plot is a gimmick that owes itself more to, say, third season's "Distant Voices," with all the surreal gags to go along with it. Sloan's mind, naturally, looks just like DS9. ("I wanted you to feel at home," Sloan says when he encounters O'Brien and Bashir inside his own brain. A more cynical reviewer might say, "Yes, and we also wanted to use the standing sets to stay within our budget.")

The episode is replete with the usual tricks of surreal virtual-reality mind games, like falling elevators, corridors that inexplicably rearrange themselves, threatening men who appear and vanish, rooms that are filled with people and then suddenly empty, and so on. This might be interesting under other circumstances, but this is Sloan we're dealing with here, in what is the third-to-last episode of the series. Why are we suddenly going back to routine, drawn-out sci-fi games when the whole rest of the arc has been so dead-set on getting things accomplished without resorting to contrived circumstances? (It also doesn't help that this episode puts every other current storyline on hold.)

I should probably point out that there are some genuinely good moments in "Extreme Measures." I liked, for example, that being inside Sloan's mind allowed us to see the side of him that he would never show in real life, namely the "nice" Sloan. This mental projection of Sloan is a side that wants to give Bashir the cure, and who goes into a room full of acquaintances and apologizes for cheating them out of being in their lives.

I liked the notion that part of Sloan regrets what he was, and that the people in his personal life suffered as a result of his constant existence in shadowy espionage. It shows a key aspect of this series, which is that all characters have a side to them that makes them more understandable than we might have assumed given the plots they typically inhabit. We realize here that Sloan has made great personal sacrifices to be who he is—a man of secrets who protects the interests of the Federation at all costs. At the same time, he seems to regret the means he has taken in protecting the Federation, as he tells Bashir that he respects him because in the end, "it's our actions, not our beliefs, that define who we are."

Unfortunately, I'm of the belief that something like this would be more powerful if it had manifested itself in the real world rather than some obscure corner of Sloan's brain. Why couldn't a way be found to bring this sort of dialog to the surface without using a cheat plot?

Strangely, Sloan doesn't even seem to be the main idea here. It seems the primary goal of this episode was to give Miles and Julian one last buddy adventure. That would've been fine if the story had kept the plot true to the tone of the "Final Chapter" thus far, but it doesn't. The whole premise feels dumbed down. It's almost as if the writers needed a device that would give us a Sloan/Section 31 and an O'Brien/Bashir adventure in the same package, and the only thing that could accommodate both criteria was this VR/mind-probing premise.

A lot of this didn't work for me because I was wanting the story to get on with itself. Consider an extended scene where Bashir and O'Brien lie wounded in a corridor after being attacked by a bad actor with a phaser. This is a scene that goes nearly three entire minutes without a single cut of the camera. The technique is skilled. Alexander Siddig and Colm Meaney put a lot into the scene, and come off as extremely natural. I even found myself amused by the dialog, in which Bashir keys in on male bonding in a way that of course drives O'Brien nuts. (My personal favorite: "I love Ezri passionately. It's just that—I like you a bit more.")

But as much chemistry as these two guys have, this scene seems like an overlong and misplaced attempt to be "Armageddon Game, Part II." The point is, I think, that these two guys love each other—in a decidedly brotherly way. Miles of course doesn't want to admit it right off, while Julian is constantly open with his feelings. (Although, this comical lesson of the week had me thinking too much of a line from Wayne's World: "I've learned that platonic love can exist between two grown men.") I honestly liked the idea of O'Brien and Bashir having one last adventure; it's just that the writers picked the wrong way of going about it given the gravity of the situation surrounding it.

Anyway, I hate to get off the topic at hand of Sloan—which is precisely why some of this storyline is distracting. The other interesting idea here is one of Sloan offering to Julian "all my secrets," as a distraction to delay him in finding the cure to the disease. As Bashir later admits, it was the perfect bait. Bashir wants to bring down Section 31 completely—which he considers a parasite in the Federation—and the information in Sloan's head was probably the once-in-a-lifetime chance to do it. O'Brien's practical sensibility of returning from VR with the cure before Sloan's brain dies prevents Bashir from taking the lure and failing the mission. (And speaking of the cure, now that it has been successfully administered to Odo, I'm wondering if having it will play into the story involving the Founders in the final two episodes. I certainly hope so.)

Unfortunately for the bulk of the hour, the VR mind games are too prevalent. Thompson and Weddle fall back onto the most obvious of the VR genre tricks—the predictable "let's allege to wake them up now, never mind the fact there's still 20 minutes left in the show." I'd be very surprised to hear from anyone who didn't instantly suspect we were still in Sloan's mind, and that Sloan was playing an elaborate ruse on Bashir and O'Brien. The story even drops us some surreal hints through the acting (particularly Avery Brooks') in the scene where Sloan "dies"—but then it plays the game through the commercial break in an attempt to dupe the audience. This was far too transparent to be worthwhile, and contains almost no lasting significance, coming off as story padding more than anything else.

What's most frustrating about "Extreme Measures" is the sheer number of missed opportunities. Given all the questionable morality we've seen through this war, and the way Section 31 has played into that through "Inquisition" and especially "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges," this is an episode that should've dared to ask the truly tough questions. What about the morality of forcing this cure from Sloan through the illegal Romulan mind probes? Here we have the irony of Bashir, who considers Section 31 a scourge in the Federation, resorting to the type of questionable tactics Section 31 itself employs. Yet the episode doesn't begin to address Bashir's actions. And here we have Sisko objecting to Bashir's plan, and then reluctantly permitting it. Yet the episode doesn't address Sisko's past roles in bending the moral rules for the greater good. We have the issue of Section 31 committing genocide. Yet there's barely one line of dialog devoted to it. There could've been an endless clash of riveting moral arguments here, but for the most part, "Extreme Measures" doesn't tackle them, because it spends too much time inside Sloan's brain supplying us with the usual sci-fi plot twists.

Although we see the end of Sloan here, we don't see the destruction of Section 31. But considering there's only two more episodes, I severely doubt we'll be seeing Section 31 again on the series, and I fear that the bigger questions involving Section 31 have not been sufficiently answered—and now never will be.

This episode is by no means a complete failure. It actually proves quite entertaining on many of the superficial levels. But superficial is not what I've come to expect from DS9. This episode set out to be the wrong thing, and it deserved to be so much more than it was. The writers had a huge opportunity here, and they blew it.

Next week: Chapter eight. An apparent acceleration in the war.

Previous episode: Tacking into the Wind
Next episode: The Dogs of War

◄ Season Index

52 comments on this review

Thu, Mar 12, 2009, 3:55pm (UTC -5)
NO! Not Sloan! My most favorite of the "shady" DS9 characters.

I want to see him return in a robot body. Like Mr. Burns did in that "Citizen Kane"-like episode of the Simpsons.
Fri, Oct 9, 2009, 12:07am (UTC -5)
I thought this was O'Brien and Bashir's best episode together and really got at something about male bonding...but as you said it was disappointing from a general plot standpoint.
Thu, Jan 14, 2010, 6:51pm (UTC -5)
I have to agree completely with Jammer- this episode was stinker and an extremely sore disappointment. Every single moment in Sloan's head was torture.
Wed, Jun 16, 2010, 2:48am (UTC -5)
What? I loved this one. It explores Sloan's character more, and develops O'Brien/Bashir relationship really well I thought. The whole 'inside the mind' thing was a stretch but I enjoyed it.
Marco P.
Sun, Aug 29, 2010, 2:02pm (UTC -5)
As far as "hit & misses" go, this one was definitely a miss. And after a great run of consecutive *quality* episodes, it's all the more disappointing that we have this one to break the pattern, so close to the series' end.
Thu, Feb 24, 2011, 9:48am (UTC -5)
Section 31's actions are horribly unethical, not to mention practically useless. Their intention may have been to prevent the war, but in the end the disease didn't really make any difference (considering that in "Favor the Bold" we learned that Odo's return home was more important to the Founders than conquering the Alpha Quadrant). As such, I have no problem with Sisko's approval of Bashir's illegal actions to save a dying race.

Given the above, I'm not sure what kind of "debate" there could have been between Sloan and Bashir. But anything would have been better than a contrived trip into Sloan's mind. And I would have liked to learn more about Section 31 as a whole. This episode makes me wonder if the entire "changeling disease" storyline was really necessary.
Sat, Nov 19, 2011, 9:46am (UTC -5)
Sisko sure had a nerve railing against Bashir for his manipulations after the events of "In The Pale Moonlight". At least he didn't have the audacity to take some punitive his support is really all he could credibly do.
Nebula Nox
Wed, Apr 11, 2012, 11:02am (UTC -5)
Unfortunate in both execution and concept. 31 would not send someone to destroy Bashir's work - they would have to destroy Bashir as well. I mean, if he has figured out the cure once, how could he forget it? He's genetically engineered; he does not forget...

And how could Bashir and OBrien - who were nearly killed because of their knowledge of the Harvester Disaster - not realize that their lives were in danger?
Rhoderick Gates
Sat, Jun 30, 2012, 10:49am (UTC -5)
Steve, what exactly would you have wanted Bashir, etc, to say further?

I'm not sure how much more they could have said.

Perhaps you ought to give specific examples(drafts)?
Sun, Jul 1, 2012, 4:44pm (UTC -5)
Miles and Julain break into Quark's twice in this episode, once to play darts and then to swipe some booze...where was Quark in these past few episodes?
Thu, Dec 27, 2012, 8:40am (UTC -5)
Jay - I don't know about Quark, but Armin Shimerman was off working on "Buffy".
Sun, Mar 10, 2013, 10:27pm (UTC -5)
This was arguably a weak episode, definitely the weakest of the "Final Chapter" episodes but it did have a few scattered good lines and moments that, while not enough to make it a good episode, keep it from being far from the one of the worst ones IMHO (most of the ones dealing with Ferengis or the Mirror Universe). The first part of the episode works well with Kira and Garak bringing Odo back from their last mission to steal the Breen energy weapon and Bashir and O'Brien hatching their plan to capture the expected Section 31 agent (who turns out to be, of course, none other than Sloan). Bashir's rejoinder to Sloan about his protesting the use of the Romulan mind probes as being illegal was clever ("I hope that you can appreciate the irony of that statement!"), as well as his Bond villain-like line about expecting Sloan to "resist until the bitter end" were quite clever. I also was intrigued that there seemed to be a "part" of Sloan that seemed to like Bashir (sort of hinted at the end of "Inter....") and was quite willing to give them the cure once he had made amends-in his mind anyway- to friends and family members in a quite touching scene. Things got a little murkier and less enjoyable when "nice Sloan" was killed by the "bad Sloan" who then promptly disappeared, leaving Bashir and O'Brien lost and confused about where to go to find the information they needed and then getting fooled into believing (briefly) that they were out of Sloan's mind and back on the station with a dead Sloan. The end was a muddled mess with Basir and O'Brien finding Sloan's "office" and sifting through all of Sloan's secrets and Bashir becoming ever so briefly tempted to try and steal more Section 31 secrets at the expense of finding the cure for the Founder disease. Thankfully, O'Brien was there to keep Bashir on track and they ultimately succeeded but it ended up being a close shave. I was happy to see Odo get cured at the end of the episode but I wished that the execution of this episode, as well as the payoff to the Section 31 storyline that started in Season six's "Inquisition" had been a lot better than it end up being.
Sun, Nov 10, 2013, 4:24pm (UTC -5)

O'Brien and Bashir's friendship is one of the highlights of the show and it is showcased here.

Mon, Jan 20, 2014, 4:00pm (UTC -5)
If the Founders had all died, I don't think that would have stopped the war. The Vorta and Jem'Hadar would have simply continued the war. The would have searched for the lost Changelings, who were unaffected by the disease.

What makes sense is when the Founders get sufficiently desperate, to offer the cure in exchange for a surrender.
Thu, Feb 20, 2014, 10:25pm (UTC -5)
Minds don't work like this. It is impossible to ever go through someone's mind in this fashion having literal conversations with the person. Using some silly plot device doesn't make that ok.
Tue, Feb 25, 2014, 12:09am (UTC -5)
This one began with a good example of "shades of grey" done right. I am talking about Bashir misleading autorithies and getting na ilegal Romulan memory scanner to combat the plans of genocide supported by Section 31.

Sad that it only exists because of very Strong example of "shades of grey" done super wrong. I am talking about the genocide plan itself. Section 31 is tolerated by the Federation. The high officers tried to prevent Bashir from finding a cure to Odo hoping that the genocide would prosper. This is not shades of grey. This is changing the very foundations of Federation and Starfleet we knew in the past.

Writters of DS9 in the end were so disconected with Star Trek reality that they didn't even realize what they have done. Because they not only put this Section 31 monster in the living-room. In the last episode, they made Starfleet accomplice. If did that on purpose, it was offensive to the Trek universe. If not, it was dumb to the point of insanity.
Mon, Mar 31, 2014, 9:49pm (UTC -5)
What ruined the ep for me - despite a promising start - was Bashir and O'Brian's response to Sloan's suicide move. The man was willing to sacrifice himself to keep (in his view) the Federation safe. I expected Bashir and o'Brian to realize this and respond with a moment of quiet surprise and respect -- realizing that, guess what, their evil adversary had turned out to be a noble man and a true patriot Instead they made smarmy comments like "He just couldn't bear to let his little secret escape.". I am no fan of Sloan, but I am a great hater of double standards. Heroism is heroism, even when bad guys show it.

I am also not understanding all the talk of 'genocide.'. Genocide is genocide because it targets civilian populations. It is perfectly legit in wartime to kill enemy soldiers. So the question is, are the Founders civilians?

We've seen them spy, infiltrate, and give combat orders. It could be argued, I know, that only a few of them do this, while the rest lie around in the Great Link all day being perfect pacifists. But since they are all Linked and apparently of one mind, and also given the Female Changeling's answer to Odo's question "How many shapeshifters are there?" it's hard to define any of them as individual enough to be truly outside of combat.

Additionally, the reason they're able to stay largely out of the bloody fray is that they deliberately bred slave races to do their fighting for them -- an immoral act and not something they should be allowed to hide behind. As creators and masters of the jem-Hadar, they can all be considered commanders in the Dominion military. Therefore, they are fair targets in wartime.

In fact, I would say killing the founders is far more just than wiping out squadrons of Jem-Hadar slaves who have no choice but to be there, as they have been bred for obedience.
Mon, Mar 31, 2014, 10:37pm (UTC -5)
Ugh, I am even more disturbed now that I have made myself watch to the end. Bashir's character is totally bastardized here. This is a guy who risked himself to save enemy Jem-Hadar fighters, who risked himself fighting the Quickening, who has consistently been devoted to saving any life he comes across. But in this ep, he watches Sloan die and all he cares about is "There goes our chance of saving Odo.". Not a hint of guilt about the fact that his actions - luring Sloan to Ds9 and illegally interrogating him - caused the man's death. It seems Bashir sees Sloan not as a human being but merely a data storage unit to be raided and pumped for info. Bashir's "so what?" attitude towards his death would befit a psychotic torturer.

If I thought the writers actually meant to show Bashir losing his humanity as a theme, I would be okay with it. (In fact that would be interesting.) But it's clear they didnt. And the fact that we are expected to condemn Sloan, while accepting Bashir's abusive interrogation of him and feeling a-okay about his death -- is hmmmm highly distasteful.

(Next time, doc, just try water-boarding.)

Fri, Apr 25, 2014, 2:47pm (UTC -5)
@Toraya - Let's skip the joke of "illegal" right now... because anytime Bashir attempts to take correct "legal" action against an "illegal" organization he will fail. DS9 has many characters make decisions that are arguably moral but CLEARLY illegal.

That said... it is disturbing, and it is torture, but it is NOT murder. Is our government guilty of killing people who commit suicide in their jail cells? Sloan killed himself for his beliefs and Bashir took "Extreme Measures" for his.

For a genetically engineered brilliant guy, the doctor has always been a little too naive. I think the whole point of the 3 part section 31 arc is to make him grow up. As Sloan said "Men of conscience, men of principle, men who can sleep at night. You're also the reason Section Thirty one exists. Someone has to protect men like you from a universe that doesn't share your sense of right and wrong."

My guess is that Bashir will have a little more trouble sleeping tonight, but you expect him to feel guilt that he found a cure for genocide that inadvertently caused the death of one of the men responsible for that genocide?

It gave Bashir more shades of gray. It may even cause YOU to look at him as less "good". But bastardized his character totally? I think that may just be overstating what just happened a bit.
Mon, May 5, 2014, 7:47pm (UTC -5)
I have to agree with Jammer - I would have enjoyed this episode a lot more had it been much grittier. I agree idea of jumping into Sloan's mind was a bit far-fetched, but I don't really think I'd have minded too much if the story was more fast-paced, instead of it seeming like they were deliberately wasting screen time. I thought the scene where they were lying down talking about "liking each other a little more than their partners" to be too drawn out. It felt like the writers didn't have any more good ideas so they just added a bit of fluff to pad out the episode. Don't get me wrong - I enjoy the usual banter between o'Brien and Bashir, I just don't think it was right for this close to the end of the series.

Section 31 are attempting genocide, and they did it by almost killing one of Bashir's closest colleagues. Unless I'm forgetting one, I don't think I have seen an episode where his ethical and moral state of mind has become stretched to breaking point. Capturing Sloan was a really good premise, but I don't think they pushed it far enough.

I wanted to see Bashir lose his mentality. I wanted to see him completely forget his uniform and finally show the darkest portion of his personality. I wanted to see Sloan writhing on the table for ages and I didn't want Bashir to give a damn about it. I wanted the reason for Bashir having to jump into Sloan's mind be NOT because of some daft suicide attempt, but because Bashir pushed the Romulan mind probe too far and that's what caused his brain death. Then I wanted to see Bashir running like hell through a maze of memories (that had sod all to do with the space station) chasing after a wildly frustrated Sloan who was throwing everything left in his mind at Bashir in a mad bid to stop him from getting the cure. Then I wanted to see him grab Sloan by the neck, whereupon Sloan would appear to finally break down and beg for forgiveness and say "i'm sorry! Here, take it - all of Section 31's secrets," Which of course would be the deception to keep Bashir in Sloans mind while he dies - one of the few things this episode actually got right.

Then I wanted a tormented and guilty Bashir to end up drinking away his problems in Quarks; realising he now has to live with the fact that he literally smashed aside the Hippocratic Oath and practically tortured a man to save the life of his friend. Perhaps Bashir might also have realised that he actually got a perverse pleasure out of it, like he felt he was enacting his revenge on the man who not only almost killed Odo but who represents an organisation that's like a dark stain on the face of Starfleet, AND the worst part of it was that he didn't even realise he felt it at the time.

Also, I agree that the conversation when Sisko found out about the plan was too small. A major discussion about ethics and morality involving all the senior staff in the wardroom might have been nice. Sort of like the one in TNG where they debate the Prime Directive and whether or not they should save Data's friend. Except, obviously in this case the discussion would have to be more heated. I would have liked to see the other characters opinions on the matter, presumably with Worf/Kira saying "Do it, Odo is more important", and the others saying no or being on the fence. Sisko could have ended up saying no, to which Bashir ultimately defies orders ends up torturing Sloan anyway. This could have presented an opportunity for Bashir to be given one of Sisko's legendary "you're-in-the-doghouse-and-you've-got-a-hell-of-a-lot-of-scrubbing-to-do" speeches.

Okay, so I'm really not that sure if all that would be going overboard or not. It's definitely not Gene's Vision, but the DS9 writers haven't been afraid to stray away from it before. I think it certainly would have been a much better episode than the seemingly half-cocked plot we were given.
Tue, May 20, 2014, 5:54pm (UTC -5)
I liked the episode well enough. I liked Bashir's ruthlessness to save Odo, when he is usually so hesitant to break any moral fiber. I'm not really sure if I'd do the same though, I felt like Sloan's stance was, while cold-hearted, the right one, given that it would save their world. I'm not sure if I'd endanger the life of every person in the world for one friend. But maybe I would, I haven't been put in that situation yet.
Wed, May 21, 2014, 3:47am (UTC -5)
Actually I liked the atmosphere of this episode, its very dark and gritty feeling.

But what I did not understand ten years ago and still don't do is: Why would Sloan as a non-expert know the cure of the disease? And why would Section 31 develop an antidote in the first place? To have it as some sort of bribe?
Mon, Jun 16, 2014, 1:02pm (UTC -5)
Rewatched this last night. Until they enter Sloan's mind, the episode is great, but from then on it's awful. The idea of entering Sloan's mind isn't wrong in itself, it's just atrociously executed - arguably much worse than in earlier episodes largely set in people's minds like Distant Voices and Dark Page. What could have been a probing, surrealist masterpiece is instead incredibly stilted and slow-paced. Despite the ticking clock, there's no sense of urgency and one awkward, unwatchable scene after another drags on and on - the falling turbolift, Sloan's mortifying "party", the scene where Bashir and O'Brien "die", the "we're still in Sloan's mind!" interval, the misfiring climax in Sloan's "office" - all of it is misjudged and turgid in a way that's really, really unusual for DS9. The writing is disastrous - what went wrong? There's also a lot of really obvious exposition via the characters, explaining things that didn't need to be explained. I also see no need for the unnecessary jeopardy angle - are we really supposed to believe that if Sloan dies while Bashir and O'Brien are connected to his mind, they die too? Ridiculous. Also ridiculous: the fact the "cure" is a four-word sequence of amino acids and Odo is restored to full health in about 10 seconds. What a stupid episode and a waste of potential.

I agree with most of the comments above, including Markus's ("Why would Sloan as a non-expert know the cure of the disease? And why would Section 31 develop an antidote in the first place?") At the end of the day, Sloan is in the right. One way or another, the disease is what wins the war. Giving Odo the cure is absolute madness because he absolutely cannot be trusted around other changelings and has repeatedly been shown to act primarily out of self-interest, unlike most of the rest of the DS9 characters. Section 31's work is what saves the Federation - so to see Bashir and O'Brien capture Sloan, force him into suicide (a foreseeable action) and mind-rape him to save one unreliable, untrustworthy person at the cost of potentially risking millions of lives and the entire future of the Federation/Alpha Quadrant is an appalling writing choice. For instance, imagine there had been a secret changeling on the station that, once Odo had been cured, forcibly linked with him and returned to the Link.
Mon, Jun 16, 2014, 1:20pm (UTC -5)
"One way or another, the disease is what wins the war. "

What? Isn't this precisely not true? Odo *sharing* the cure with the Female Founder is what convinces her (in some ubiquitous changeling way) from fighting a futile war to the last man. In one of the few redeeming features of DS9's finale, it turns out that Section 31's touted cynicism is not only unwarranted, but almost prevents the Federation from winning the war.

Now, that does not mean this episode isn't stupid.
Mon, Jun 16, 2014, 1:26pm (UTC -5)
"Odo *sharing* the cure with the Female Founder is what convinces her (in some ubiquitous changeling way) from fighting a futile war to the last man."


"KIRA: This war's over. You lost.
FOUNDER: Have I? I think you'll find that neither the Jem'Hadar or the Breen will agree with that assessment. They will fight to the last man.
KIRA: And what will that accomplish?
FOUNDER: Isn't it obvious? You may win this war, Commander, but I promise you, when it is over, you will have lost so many ships, so many lives, that your victory will taste as bitter as defeat."

The war was over by this point in the episode. The Founder just has nothing left to lose and decides to go all in with a losing hand.

Odo promising to prevent her entire species from being killed off if she'd end the war early was a good deal to her. I can see her point. All if did was save millions (or billions) of lives though. It didn't change the outcome of the war.

And. In point of fact. Had the changelings NOT been dying, she might not have been willing to suicide the entire Dominion on a lost cause. So Odo giving them the cure may have saved billions of lives that would have been on Section 31's hands anyway.
Tue, Jun 17, 2014, 2:09pm (UTC -5)
Yo Elliott.

I said: "One way or another, the disease is what wins the war. "

Your reply: "Isn't this precisely not true? Odo *sharing* the cure with the Female Founder is what convinces her (in some ubiquitous changeling way) from fighting a futile war to the last man."

For Odo to share the cure with her, the disease has to exist in the first place. If Section 31 hadn't created the disease, that situation couldn't have arisen. Ergo, one way or another (whether by the disease destroying the Founders, or Odo sharing the cure with the Female Founder and her having a highly unlikely change of heart because the plot and the episode's time constraints demanded it), the disease is what wins the war.

(Also: "ubiquitous"?)

While DS9 may have quietly dropped the "changeling paranoia" element of the show after By Inferno's Light, it's established in Extreme Measures that Odo is infected with the disease by Starfleet midway during season 4. By that point, we'd seen changeling operatives infiltrate the major races, resulting in the destruction of the Tal Shiar and Obsidian Order, the near-destruction of the Defiant (starting a war with a race we'd never heard of before in the process), a bloody war between the Klingons and Federation (the genesis of which the Martok-changeling played a major role in), and the declaration of martial law on Earth and an attempted coup in Starfleet, with Starfleet ships even firing on each other. (In S5 we would see the near-destruction of DS9 and Bajor by the Bashir-changeling.) When this kind of stuff is happening, you need to take major steps - you do not sit and have an ethical debate. You do what is necessary through gritted teeth, like Sisko and Kira do again and again throughout DS9. The choice - insofar as it is a real choice, which it isn't - is one of staying true to some self-aggrandisingly noble set of principles so you can feel good about yourself (because that's what it's coming down to in this discussion) and being completely wiped out by genocidal invaders in the process, or going as far as is required - as far and no further - to survive and to vanquish the threat. Ethics and pragmatism are both very important and go hand in hand, you need to strike a fine balance between the two when people's lives depend on your decision, and it's a line that I think Sisko and Kira do an extremely good job of walking in their decisions throughout the series, which is why I respect them so much.

The fact that shape-changing exacerbates the disease's progression would seem built into its design. With Sisko's "false positive" blood test on Earth and the outing of Martok in S5, it was de-facto established that blood tests for changelings don't work. They're also highly impractical. So, how do you stop genocidal, ruthless and extremely cunning changeling operatives destroying civilisation after civilisation from the inside? Infect them with a fatal disease that worsens the more they change form.

The Founders are enemy combatants, not civilians; when it comes to members of the Great Link, we can't meaningfully talk of individuals - they're a single whole, and the Female Founder is the representative they send out ("the ocean becomes the drop"). And they're genocidal. They view other races as completely worthless. Without them, the Dominion would have collapsed. The disease was right. Giving it to Odo was a stupid risk, as he's a liability, and the only reason the Female Founder had her sudden change of heart in the finale was bad writing (sorry, I love DS9 so much, but it has to be said). It was a cheat. Odo coming home wasn't what made the difference either; the Founders were totally prepared to accept Odo's death in The Adversary and irreversibly cast him out in Broken Link. In S3+4 they effectively treated Odo with as much disregard as they did his solid compatriots; the Female Founder's comment in Favor The Bold that bringing Odo home means more to the Founders "than the entire Alpha Quadrant itself" was the writers shifting stance and giving the Dominion War a future get-out clause.
Tue, Jun 17, 2014, 2:13pm (UTC -5)
"Giving it to Odo" > "Giving the cure to Odo"
Tue, Jun 17, 2014, 6:28pm (UTC -5)
"For Odo to share the cure with her, the disease has to exist in the first place. If Section 31 hadn't created the disease, that situation couldn't have arisen. Ergo, one way or another (whether by the disease destroying the Founders, or Odo sharing the cure with the Female Founder and her having a highly unlikely change of heart because the plot and the episode's time constraints demanded it), the disease is what wins the war."

Well, no. As Robert pointed out, the war was actually won because the Cardassians turned coat on the Dominion. The disease on the other hand made the Founders nihilistic and thus willing to scourge the quadrant with bitter suffering in a futile attempt to continue the fight. If Odo had not intervened (and been able to do so because Bashir and O'Brien undermined Section 31's efforts), the victory would have been devastatingly pyrrhic. But Section 31's plan was to win the war by killing the Founders off. This plan almost ended up destroying the Alpha Quadrant.
Tue, Jun 17, 2014, 6:31pm (UTC -5)
Look, if you want to maintain the modernist-cynical view that Section 31's motivation and related philosophy is "the smart thing" as Laura Roslin would put it, that's fine. But (surprisingly), that's not a view which is supported by DS9's narrative of this particular story. Also, yes "ubiquitous"--ie omnipotent, god-like.
Tue, Jun 24, 2014, 6:58am (UTC -5)
@ Elliot
You say surprisingly, but wasn't Section 31 portrayed as an antagonistic force every time we saw them? Sometimes they shared the same long term goals as our "heroes", but they were usually willing to get there via very different methods.
Fri, Jul 11, 2014, 6:49am (UTC -5)
Pretty much what Niall said, a very clumsy and ham-fisted failure and wasred all the good opportunities that could have been explored and instead going down an obvious and very lazily written, and boring dead end. Zero stars.
Sun, Aug 10, 2014, 5:03am (UTC -5)
Section 31 is always portrayed (even in Enterprise) as a rogue morally bankrupt organization who will do anything to protect the Federation including compromising on the morals that founded the Federation in the first place. We are not meant to sympathize with them, we're meant to root against them. We're meant to be shocked and appalled that such an organization exists at all, much less has been operating in the shadows for well over 300 years. They're villains in this show, and Star Trek in general, make no mistake.

Elliot is correct: the show portrays Section 31 to be well in the wrong on their creation of the cure. And it also shows how the Federation is slowly starting to lose its way because of this war, not giving the cure to the Founders, tying into its main anti-war message of the cost of war: compromising on your principles. As Odo says:

"Interesting, isn't it? The Federation claims to abhor Section 31's tactics, but when they need their dirty work done they look the other way. It's a tidy little arrangement, wouldn't you say?'"

The Federation becomes so desperate in the war that it does the wrong thing and compromises on its values, echoing Sisko in In the Pale Moonlight.

Notice how in the previous season, the female changeling was perfectly content to leave the war to Dukat and Weyoun, concerned only with bringing Odo home. But this season she has her hands in everything. This season there's a pronounced urgency to her effort because she's dying and so are her people. Because the Federation has lost itself, it ultimately ends up being another changeling, the very species the Federation was willing to sit back and let die, that shows the Federation just how wrong they were. Odo gives the cure to the female changeling, which convinces her to call off the war. Odo not only ends up going back to his people and, presumably, convincing them to change their ways, he shows the Federation exactly how this war has come at the cost of their core principles.

The show is very clear on this: it believes that what Section 31 does: creating the cure, and what the Federation does: choosing not to give it to the founders, is emphatically wrong, and that Odo giving the cure to the Founders is exactly the right thing to do. Which ties into the entire reason it told this story: an anti-war message: you lose a part of yourself in war. War changes you for the worse and it takes effort to find your way back to your principles after they've been compromised.
Tue, Aug 19, 2014, 12:28pm (UTC -5)
Elliot, you are wrong. Because you want something not to be true, does not make it so. The virus led directly to the end of the war. And had no one intervened, the virus would have wiped out the Dominion.

I am sure the left wing writers didn't intend that, but that's what happened.
Tue, Aug 19, 2014, 12:33pm (UTC -5)
Also, I feel some here are living in Cloud Cuckoo Land. When you are at war with a despotic regime that wants to annihilate you, you do EVERYTHING possible to stop them. It's called survival. Whether you like it or not, there can be no ethical debates when your entire existence is threatened. And although some here would rather die, the majority do not.

We are not all wet blankets hiding under our beds feeling all superior that we aren't fighting.

Giving the cure to the Founders would never have happened in real life, or indeed in most non-Trek shows. It's just a very silly thing to do. We aren't talking about an ordinary war here. We are talking about a war of survival against a crazy, spiteful race, that started a genocidal campaign.
Tue, Aug 19, 2014, 1:16pm (UTC -5)
@DLPB - Elliott is correct. It is you that are wrong. The narrative paints the Federation as winning the war separately from the virus... the female changeling says specifically that. Odo giving the cure stops them from fighting to the last man.

"KIRA: This war's over. You lost.
FOUNDER: Have I? I think you'll find that neither the Jem'Hadar or the Breen will agree with that assessment. They will fight to the last man.
KIRA: And what will that accomplish?
FOUNDER: Isn't it obvious? You may win this war, Commander, but I promise you, when it is over, you will have lost so many ships, so many lives, that your victory will taste as bitter as defeat. "

You'll need SOME evidence to support this virus being the way the war ended. And Sean is correct as well. Every war story in all of Trek boils down to the piece of yourself that you lose in war. The DS9 narrative paints Bashir (fighting against Section 31) as the hero. He's the one that DIDN'T lose a piece of himself in the war.

Men like Sloan/O'Brien/Sisko have picked up dark pieces of themselves to win the war.... and interestingly Bashir picks one up too in order to defeat Sloan (torturing Sloan will haunt him no doubt). Sloan hints that he can't sleep at night, O'Brien hates himself, Sisko can "live with it".... These are ALL stories of the cost of war. And the DS9 narrative paints genocide as going too far, as too great a cost to the soul of the Federation. Odo DOES do the right thing in the end. And no, you don't do everything possible to stop them, war has rules... ever hear of Geneva?

"KIRA: Jadzia. Your questions about my experience with killing. If you're wondering what it's like. When you take someone's life, you lose a part of your own as well."

"O'BRIEN: The man just incinerated, there before my eyes. I'd never killed anything before. When I was a kid, I'd worry about swatting a mosquito. It's not you I hate, Cardassian. I hate what I became because of you."

"SLOAN: The Federation needs men like you, Doctor. Men of conscience, men of principle, men who can sleep at night. You're also the reason Section Thirty one exists. Someone has to protect men like you from a universe that doesn't share your sense of right and wrong. "

"SISKO: A guilty conscience is a small price to pay for the safety of the Alpha Quadrant, so I will learn to live with it. Because I can live with it. I can live with it. Computer, erase that entire personal log."
Tue, Aug 19, 2014, 1:21pm (UTC -5)

"The virus led directly to the end of the war."

"Led to" maybe, but the only thing that saved the Alpha Quadrant was Odo's olive branch to the Founders. In the end, SAVING the Changelings is what prevented millions if not billions of Alpha (and Gamma) Quadrant soldiers and civilians from dying pointlessly.

I don't mean to be black and white about it--if Section 31 hadn't infected the Founders, Odo would have had no cure to offer, but the circle continues--if her people weren't on the brink of extinction, the Female Founder's tactic may have been less brutal and she may have surrendered once it was clear the battle for Cardassia was lost.

"Also, I feel some here are living in Cloud Cuckoo Land. "

Why is it that anyone who doesn't agree with you is just insane? It's pretty easy to stand entrenched in your beliefs when you can easily dismiss any other point of view as just "cuckoo."

"We are talking about a war of survival against a crazy, spiteful race, that started a genocidal campaign."

And so to survive, we take actions that are crazy, spiteful and genocidal? Fantastic.

Galactic war boils down to a big game of "I know you are, but what am I?"

"We aren't talking about an ordinary war here."

What would you consider "an ordinary war" to be exactly? And for the record, the Founders are certainly an evil oppressive power, but until the very end (when Female Founder goes off the deep end), when were they depicted as genocidal? The Founders wanted to conquer and control the Alpha Quadrant, not annihilate it. Of course the Federation should have fought back against a conquering force, but the Dominion was never portrayed as spiteful or genocidal.
Tue, Aug 19, 2014, 1:23pm (UTC -5)
"Of course the Federation should have fought back against a conquering force, but the Dominion was never portrayed as spiteful or genocidal."

Even at the end they weren't being genocidal, they were not taking steps to kill every Cardassian in existence. Spiteful, yes (see "The Quickening")... they've been that a lot, but never genocidal. Our first experience with them is having them say how they wanted to bring "order" to the Alpha Quadrant.
Tue, Aug 19, 2014, 1:29pm (UTC -5)
@Robert : I'm not sure I'd consider the events of "The Quickening" to be out of spite, so much as an example of the Dominion's extreme punitive system. They were after all meant to be a kind of gibbetted race for the rest of the conquered worlds to observe, much like the races from "Battle Lines."
Tue, Aug 19, 2014, 1:42pm (UTC -5)
I'm mostly agreeing with you, I see the Founders much more like you do than DLPB. I just find them a bit more spiteful than you do. The Founders strike me as very "toddler throwing a tantrum" when they don't get what they want :P

See "The Quickening", fighting to the last soldier, obliterating a Vorta science team for failure, etc. Granted a lot of them came from them getting desperate, which makes you even more correct of course... that had the Federation not attempted to kill them all we wouldn't have been fighting such an evil enemy. We made them worse.
Wed, Aug 20, 2014, 1:39pm (UTC -5)
@Robert :

It's a small distinction, but I think it's important that all of the Founders' punishments were meant to serve as deterrents to others in the Dominion, like typical fascists. I don't think Stalin sent dissenters to the gulags out of personal spite, but as a political move to maintain control and order. It was only at the bitter end when the Female Founder ordered the pointless destruction of the entire Cardassian population (whom would that deter?) that she crossed into spiteful territory, I believe.
Mon, Aug 25, 2014, 6:59pm (UTC -5)
Wow. This is how I see it.

The war isn't over as long as there is fighting. The Founder said that the Jem'hadar will fight until they are extinct basically, so Odo giving the cure to her did in fact end the war. "Fight to the last man" rings a bell. Whether Section 31 intended it that way is besides the point.

As to whether it would be Sloan to come out to DS9? Well, we have no idea how many folks make up Section 31. For all we know, Bashir was Sloan's project and responded in kind to Bashir reporting he found the cure. I don't see it as too far fetched.

I don't need to see Bashir "lose" everything to beat Sloan. I thought wanting to use the Romulan's mind device was far enough.

Sloan's mind was interesting. As was his final attempt to defeat Bashir.

Of course, the Kira/Odo exchanges were heartfelt and touching as always.

I'm not as hard as some I guess. I'll give this one 3 stars. Odo's all better, that has to mean something.
Sun, Nov 23, 2014, 2:24pm (UTC -5)
Sloan was built up as the ultimate protagonist. An all seeing, all powerful menacing force secretly guiding foreign policy of the Federation. He was on the cusp of wiping out the founders! Imagine, in a matter of days in the DS9 world, the virus would have done its job and ended the war. The Founder's genocidal war upon the galaxy had caused, we are told, billions of deaths. Would not the wiping out of the Founders justified the methods? .... a question whose answer we are denied as the dynamic duo Bashir and Miles go forth once more into the breach, saving the day. What do we get? Sloan, brain dead...the federation's brightest and monomaniacal, factitious agent, reduced to a vegetable. A cop-out indeed.
Thu, Jan 29, 2015, 3:27pm (UTC -5)
The genocide of the founders began before starfleet found the quickening, it's possible this was more a joint section 31 and Tal Shiar plot in response to the destruction of a Tal Shiar and Obsidian Order task force, the bombing of a Romulan Federation conference, the Defiant nearly attacking the Tzenkethi and the destabilization of the Khotomer Accords and Cardassian Union.
Sun, Jun 14, 2015, 8:08am (UTC -5)
but the Dominion was never portrayed as spiteful or genocidal.

You need a dictionary, then.
Sun, Oct 18, 2015, 7:19pm (UTC -5)
Here we have another case where the plot had to go ridiculous in order to put Bashir and O'Brien together like some sort of buddy movie.

Back in One Little Ship, they had O'Brien take Bashir with him into the conduit for no good reason, even though oxygen was very much at a premium. And here we have O'Brien announce that he's going with Bashir into Sloan's mind when there was really no reason to believe that the thing Bashir made was a contraption built for two, which doesn't even get into the risks involved for one officer to be now imposed onto two. Yes, Odo is beloved, but there's also a war on.
Sun, Oct 18, 2015, 7:36pm (UTC -5)
O'Brien says at the end to Julian "the next time to do this, you're going by yourself". Did the episode writer forget that going along was O'Brien's idea?
Diamond Dave
Wed, Feb 24, 2016, 12:48pm (UTC -5)
The first big misfire of the closing chapter. Funnily enough the capping to the Miles-Julian buddy story actually works OK, but you can't help thinking another vehicle might have been a better choice. And actually, up until they go into Sloan's mind it's working OK. But really? The same old tired walking down corridors in a surreal nightmare. The same old tired false ending. I've hated this plot device in other episodes and I hated it here.

It also jams the other plot lines solid because we get no other idea what's going on in the wider world - and we're close enough to the end that it really matters. Wasting an hour on this seems like a big waste - not least because there was a story worth telling here, just not this way. 2 stars.
William B
Wed, May 18, 2016, 10:02am (UTC -5)
Suffice it to say, for now, that I like "When it Rains" and love "Tacking."

I guess the clue to decoding this episode's meaning (or attempted meaning) is in the climax: Sloan attempts to tempt Julian by offering him the full secrets of Section 31, and almost succeeds. This pays off a number of threads from the Sloan/Bashir arc -- Bashir's angry determination earlier in the episode that Section 31 is a cancer which must be removed, Sloan's insistence in "Inter Arma..." that Bashir is a man obsessed with secrets (hence, as he said in "Inquisition," the spy movie fixation), and the earlier scene where "friendly" Sloan tells his friends and family how he has been neglecting them by spending all his time in service to the Federation, and now he sees what he has lost. Miles reminds Julian that they are there for a personal, local reason -- to save Odo -- and Miles keeps Julian grounded so that he does not lose himself in his desire to know. It is the perfect bait, as Bashir says, and O'Brien saves him from it by being mostly immune to this sort of intrigue. It works in part because it highlights some of Bashir's core character traits from the beginning: beyond his ethical opposition to Section 31, Bashir also just desperately wants to *know* things, and is desperate to solve puzzles, to the point where he loses his bearings frequently. It's again a convincing portrayal of genius -- he makes connections so fast, he is so damn smart that he consistently fails to see the trees for the forest. I'm reminded of O'Brien being the counterbalance to Bashir's probabilistic doom in "Statistical Probabilities."

The way this maybe ties in with the broader Section 31 themes is this: when given the opportunity to take down Sect. 31 entirely, Bashir loses track of his own life and of his need to save Odo's life, before O'Brien reminds him. He wants to take it down because he opposes it ethically, but I suspect that it's not even that; Sloan would argue, I think, that Bashir may have his values, but what motivates him even more is the desire to know, and, well, to win. Bashir indicated in "IAESL" that he knew that Sloan was still alive because no fool could pull a wool over Bashir's eyes, and so the personal element of competition is in play as well. Worf has emphasizes Bashir's childishness recently regarding Ezri's feelings for him. And check out the Alamo detail in "Changing Face": Bashir and O'Brien choose a program which is designed to be a lost cause, but Bashir still becomes obsessed with winning ("I just want to win, once!") and then loses one of the tiny figures anyway, missing the little details for the big picture. The implication of all this, I think, is that seeing the whole universe as a sort of game to be won eventually wears down one's judgment and leads to losing oneself and one's loved ones. This is, maybe, what happened to Sloan and the rest of Section 31 -- the reason their actions became more morally depraved is that they became less and less connected to decent individuals (like O'Brien) who could restrain their whatever-it-takes choices.

So as a conclusion of sorts of Bashir's arc and the Section 31 arc and the Bashir/O'Brien buddy arc, the episode does end up making some sense. I say this a little reluctantly, because I really think that the choices the writers made in setting up this episode were bad. The title and the initial setup suggest the question of how far it is justified to go -- Section 31 opts for genocide to counter an evil foe, so when acting against Section 31 what actions of Bashir's are justified? The use of the Romulan mind probes is a particularly unsettling detail, with Bashir willingly adopting methods used against him (or which had been attempted to use against him) against Sloan. He tricks him, puts him in a forcefield, phasers him, and then once Sloan attempts suicide and O'Brien suggests maybe they should just let him die in peace, Bashir decides to invade the man's mind. How far will Bashir go? How far is *justified* to go against an organization that is overwhelming and evil? The worse the actions Bashir takes against Sloan, the more Bashir loses the high ground that he rejects Section 31's methods against the Dominion. But once inside Sloan's mind, this thread mostly gets dropped and the question remains unexamined. This is still not the *very* last word on Section 31 and the genocidal virus they created -- there is still Odo's material in the next two eps -- but the episode sidesteps the difficult issues. It may be reasonable in that there maybe is no clear resolution, but it still disappoints me that the episode punts and then has wacky walking through corridors for 20 minutes and then ends with the implication that the most important issue is whether or not one's love of secrets overwhelms one's connection to one's friends, which is perhaps an important story for Bashir but is not really the most interesting question raised in this arc, to me. If nothing else, Bashir going for Romulan mind probes which are both invasive and, if the subject is unwilling, very painful, and then going to desecrate a dying man's mind to scour it for memories, would be a pretty major violation both of Federation laws (and the spirit behind them) and the Hippocratic Oath, the latter of which does to me seem to be a pretty major thing for Bashir to go entirely unexamined.

The episode feels incredibly padded, which is especially notable given the incredible pace of about "Strange Bedfellows" on, the sllllowww "making a thing to walk in Sloan's mind" montage which apparently represents 17 minutes of work to create a technological mindmeld to a dying man, the endless wandering in corridors, the turbolift scene where Bashir and O'Brien spend a minute deciding whether or not to remove their hands from the railing. Their meeting with "good Sloan" who cannot quite communicate the proper amino acid chain because, really, "some part of me doesn't want to tell you" (!!!), the security guard shooting them followed by the two lying "dying" with a not-wound for minutes, the obvious "we're still inside!" fake-out. None of these add anything to the themes or to the examination either of morality or of Bashir's secrets-obsession, and even as Bashir/O'Brien bonding they are mostly wan -- Siddig and Meaney do bring a certain gentle humour even to the "countdown to lift our hands off the railing" moment, I will grant.

Also of note is that this story also makes no goddamn sense. Why would Section 31 have a cure anyway? It's not obvious at all that they would create something that has a cure which they are aware of. Bashir's whole logic rests on the idea that Sloan would need to destroy the cure in his lab and so would need to know what it looks like, and while Sloan says "You call that reasoning?" we are more or less supposed to assume Bashir is right (since his trap "worked")...but if that's the case, why did Sloan go to Bashir's quarters *first* rather than to the lab as Bashir suggests Sloan would have to? Bashir and O'Brien seem not to consider that Section 31 could just kill Bashir and blow up the lab, and perhaps not send Sloan at all. Bashir's inability to predict that Sloan might commit suicide is also rather a problem. And then there is after this episode: what exactly are they going to do with Sloan's body? The whole story of this episode rests on the idea that Bashir pretending to have a cure will bring a Section 31 operative to the station -- so now that Bashir *actually* has a cure and one of their operatives has died, why won't Section 31 send *another* operative? Sloan's threat to Keiko and the kids goes mostly forgotten, but shouldn't Bashir and O'Brien (and the whole of the senior staff who were aware of this) be afraid of Section 31 retribution?

So the other big element here is having one last Bashir/O'Brien story.'s okay. I do think they should have had another vehicle if they wanted to do one more story, and part of the weridness here is that they have already been best friends for years and years, so having scenes like the "I like you more" one seems...somewhat out of place. What exactly was Julian looking for, in pressing Miles to admit that he likes Julian more than Keiko? Now the thematic connection to the plot is that, as it turns out, it is Miles who can talk Julian out of staying until he dies in a crumbling brain looking at padd after padd. And as it turns out, SPOILER Miles is leaving soon so this actually *is* their last adventure together. The other thing that occurs to me is that Julian may be so insistent because he realizes he is in love with Ezri, and on some level he needs to work out his feelings for Miles before he can pursue that relationship -- in trying to get Miles to admit that he likes Julian more than Keiko, he is actually asking whether it's normal for him to like Miles more than Ezri even though he wants to date the latter. And if he dates Ezri, will he and Miles change? Maybe it is important for him to tell Miles how he feels now before he starts dating and everything is different for him.... The cheesiness of the final image -- where after being invited to dinner, Julian gets a bull's-eye! -- as my girlfriend pointed out plays out as if Julian just got a date, which is weird at this stage of their friendship, which even in season four was established as being basically as important to Miles as his relationship with his wife. It also to me strikes completely the wrong tone in an episode where, yes, Julian cured Odo and that's great, but also there's a man who committed suicide to avoid Julian torturing information out of him with mind-probes, and so maybe a bit less sweetness is desired.

The Odo/Kira scene at the beginning is lovely, and also sets up the idea of how much one is willing to be emotionally exposed (to underline the later Bashir/O'Brien feelings confessional); it has the weight of a real goodbye both because they believe it is the very last time they will see each other, and because we know that the series is coming to a close anyway. Following up on what Peter G. pointed out in the "Chimera" thread about Kira being interested in looks, her saying to Odo that she does not care how he looks (even if he is diseased and his skin is flaking away) is quite touching. At this stage, too, Odo still needs to maintain his dignity -- is this a reasonable desire to protect himself from emotional agony at the end, or Odo still unwilling to let Kira get close even at the end, perhaps not believing that she really will continue loving him to the bitter end?

I'm not sure whether I'd say 1.5 or 2. I guess it does enough things effectively to earn a 2, but I do consider it a major disappointment.
William B
Wed, May 18, 2016, 10:07am (UTC -5)
You know, 1.5. I don't like this one.
Wed, May 18, 2016, 11:55am (UTC -5)
@William B

"The whole story of this episode rests on the idea that Bashir pretending to have a cure will bring a Section 31 operative to the station -- so now that Bashir *actually* has a cure and one of their operatives has died, why won't Section 31 send *another* operative? Sloan's threat to Keiko and the kids goes mostly forgotten, but shouldn't Bashir and O'Brien (and the whole of the senior staff who were aware of this) be afraid of Section 31 retribution? "

I never thought of that, but it's a great point. The writers are trying to reinforce *too heavily* that Sloan = Section 31. That couldn't possibly be true, right? I mean "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges" throws out the idea that Sloan made Section 31 up, but then it's revealed that was part of a hoax to throw the Romulans off the trail of the group.

So, I don't know, maybe Sloan was a radical operative within Section 31? When Sloan died, the more moderate members were in power and they gave up on the whole "Poison the Shapeshifters!" plan. That's the only explanation that makes sense to me, although I wish the writers addressed it.

I also don't like this episode, much for the reasons Jammer and William B have stated. It spends too much time in Sloan's head at a point in the series where the things going outside his head are more interesting.
Wed, May 18, 2016, 12:40pm (UTC -5)
I don't really think they should be afraid of retribution. Killing O'Brien's kids to what? Make him sorry about what he did in the past? That requires a lot of cleanup and isn't that efficient, especially since they are unlikely to tangle with O'Brien again in the future.

No, the one who should be worried is Odo. But perhaps the short answer is that if Bashir tells enough people the cure and puts it in enough places set to go off when he dies, etc. that it's too big of a thing to contain.
William B
Wed, May 18, 2016, 2:48pm (UTC -5)
Section 31 is really going to just let Bashir and O'Brien force one of their operatives into suicide? I don't actually think they will kill Molly or Kirayoshi, but they should probably eliminate Bashir at least given that he might have found something out (and nearly did) that could undermine their organization.

Submit a comment

Notify me about new comments on this page
Hide my e-mail on my post

◄ Season Index

▲Top of Page | Menu | Copyright © 1994-2016 Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication or distribution of any content is prohibited. This site is an independent publication and is not affiliated with or authorized by any entity or company referenced herein. See site policies.