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

67 comments on this review

EP
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.
Kyle
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.
Destructor
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.
Lenny
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.
Nic
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.
Jay
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 action...giving 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)?
Jay
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?
Buckly
Thu, Dec 27, 2012, 8:40am (UTC -5)
Jay - I don't know about Quark, but Armin Shimerman was off working on "Buffy".
Duge
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.
Kotas
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.

9/10
K'Elvis
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.
DLPB
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.
Ric
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.
Toraya
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.
Toraya
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.)



Robert
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.
JohnA21
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.
ShastOne
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.
Markus
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?
Niall
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.
Elliott
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.
Robert
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."

Correct.

"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.
Niall
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.
Niall
Tue, Jun 17, 2014, 2:13pm (UTC -5)
"Giving it to Odo" > "Giving the cure to Odo"
Elliott
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.
Elliott
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.
DavidK
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.
eastwest101
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.
Sean
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.
DLPB
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.
DLPB
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.
Robert
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."
Elliott
Tue, Aug 19, 2014, 1:21pm (UTC -5)
@DLPB :

"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.
Robert
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.
Elliott
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."
Robert
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.
Elliott
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.
Yanks
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.
Nick
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.
Toony
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.
dlpb
Sun, Jun 14, 2015, 8:08am (UTC -5)
but the Dominion was never portrayed as spiteful or genocidal.
-------

You need a dictionary, then.
Jack
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.
Jack
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. Well...it'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.
Chrome
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.
Robert
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.
Peter G.
Wed, May 25, 2016, 1:48pm (UTC -5)
You know, I'm beginning to see what the argument between Sloan and Bashir is really about. It's not about some villain within the Federation, nor is it about the corruption of Bashir. It's about the narrow mentality some people have about what Star Trek is supposed to be about when confronted by a darker or more complex angle to the realities Starfleet faces. Sloan is to DS9 what Bashir is to TNG; Sloan to Ira Behr's vision what Bashir is to Star Trek purists who think DS9 has betrayed core Star Trek values. Bashir's outrage is their outrage, and Sloan's reasoning is the counterpoint that DS9 brought to TNG.

When Sloan says that Bashir is actually a dangerous man, this thought should really be taken more seriously than the episode gives it credit for. Bashir, even in the face of a genocidal implacable foe, is still more concerned with abstract principles than saving lives (and preserving the Federation). This doesn't mean that Bashir is wrong, per se, but he is shown repeatedly to be rather inflexible in his views - even when those views conflict with his orders or with Starfleet directives. As Sloan earlier mentioned, there is something noble about taking the moral path regardless of circumstance or advantage, but what is moral? Is it 'moral' to sacrifice lives to an ideal?

A repeated motif in DS9 is how inflexibility and inability to adapt will destroy a people. In the wake of the Occupation we see Bajorans too inflexible to learn how to rebuild their world; they devolve into old vendettas and rivalries and want to be revolutionaries. Cardassia can't recognize that its power base can no longer sustain expansionist policy, and cannot accept that its role isn't as a mighty ruler. The Dominion is the prime example of this, where the people who can change into any shape are the least flexible of any race, unable to overcome prejudices and fears that go back thousands (arguably millions) of years.

The greatest example we have of a civilization that can adapt and learn to re-mold itself is the Federation, exemplified in DS9 by Sisko in his dark turn and his allegiance to Bajor, by Kira in her becoming a builder instead of a fighter, by Worf in finally overcoming his romantic notions of what the Empire is, and obviously big changes for Odo and Quark even though Quark's changes aren't given the screen time they deserve. But although Bashir becomes grim and loses his innocence, making his character arc the most apparent visually, his almost child-like principles seem to have never wavered right from the start. Is this a good thing? Is Worf merely making a joke when he comments about how Bashir plays with toys? There is a sort of almost desperate need to keep childish innocence about both O'Brien and Bashir, especially in Season 7. Could Sloan be right that this is a dangerous thing for people of real responsibility? What if Bashir had been commander of DS9 - would there be a Federation left?

And this goes back to my broader comment about fans who insist on Star Trek conforming to Gene's vision of perfect people who never do questionable things. I would argue that this view of Humanity's future itself would be a dangerous thing. To think that people will cease to be complex and have darkness in them is the kind of whitewash that can lead to failure to recognize bad things that are happening. It's like a group hypnosis where no one will recognize the elephant in the room. Sisko announces this elephant in The Maquis with his "It's easy to be a saint in paradise" speech, and that speech to me is the plain essence of DS9. Failure to recognize that truth sounds to me like a dangerous, almost fundamentalist set of blinders. I guess what I'm saying is that I'm a DS9 fan, and consequently I agree with Sloan. Not that everything he does is awesome, but rather that monolithic unchangeable views are never a good thing.

Incidentally, while some above have commented on the fact that the Changeling virus never really helped the Federation, my inclination is that this conclusion was not what the writers were going for. When making a strategic assessment I can see why some viewers might feel that cornering the Founders only made them attack sooner and harder, and that this could have hurt the Federation, but based on how the story is told it seems evident to me that the intention was that the virus was the real linchpin in convincing the Founders to surrender, since it gave Odo a reason to go back to them and offer the cure as an olive branch from the Federation. Maybe the writers didn't succeed entirely in making the virus key to the story, but its effects did seem to be key as we saw the demoralization of Weyoun seeing the Founder waste away. Fight or no fight, the Dominion was about to fall because of the virus. Without the Founders behind them the Jem'Hadar would have turned on the Vorta in an instant.

It's my view that Section 31 played a major role in winning the war for the Federation, and that the moral issues to be weighed are not whether their actions were successful but rather whether they were acceptable. To argue that they weren't useful anyhow seems to me a massive dodge of what the real issue is.
William B
Wed, May 25, 2016, 2:48pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G., I think I largely agree with your assessment about what the story is about. I would add that the episode is clear that Bashir's big problem is his obsession with taking down Section 31. We can argue whether or not Bashir being willing to risk killing Sloan and raining destruction down on himself in order to cure Odo is justified or not, but for the most part I don't think the episode seriously disagrees with Bashir on this point. Bashir and O'Brien risking their lives (and Sloan's) because they care about Odo is not about abstract principles but about personal connection, and even Sloan (albeit in his dream) acknowledges that he has lost something fundamental in his life by denying the personal in favour of defending the Federation. However, Bashir gets caught up in taking down the whole organization and it nearly kills him. The implication I think is actually that while Bashir genuinely cares about Odo, and I think is also genuinely horrified by Section 31's actions, some of it is actually still a game to him, which he wants to *win*, and when he gets in that mode he is both easy for Sloan to manipulate and, indeed, dangerous. I think that Bashir's abstraction is a strength and weakness throughout the series, and the show does tie his idealism to his abstract rather than concrete, ends-oriented thinking, along with the implicit suggestion that he (the one character from the original cast lineup who fits in on TNG, c.f. Birthright) represents something of a TNG mentality. And yet I think Bashir caring more about his patients than about whether or not people are dangerous is not the same flaw, and is really something that the show views as complex but IMO mostly supports and celebrates (Bashir's willingness to treat Garak in The Wire despite not knowing what evil lies in Garak's past, in addition to the Odo material here).

On the last point, I agree to a point that it is a dodge of the issues to say that the changeling virus was ineffective and thus that it was wrong, rather than whether or not it was wrong given that it was successful. But it's not, to me, entirely a dodge to examine this. It is like doing a torture narrative: the most central case against torture, to me, is that it is unacceptable to inflict serious harm on another, but whether or not it is actually effective IS STILL RELEVANT. People do bad *and ineffective* things all the time, and the idea that in the 24th century secret organizations beholden to no one will suddenly become immune to making gross errors in judgment even beyond moral errors strikes me as its own kind of idealist; secret organizations tend to make big mistakes because they can cover them up. I don't mind the idea of Sloan as a hypercompetent agent because it fits in with Bashir's medical hypercompetence and the general Trekkian conceit that people tend to be better at their jobs than people are now and whatnot, but I think that there is room to acknowledge that organizations with no oversight will tend to make big strategic errors as well as cross moral lines.

As something of a TNG person, I am ambivalent about the portrayal of Bashir as basically the sole person who objects to Section 31 strongly enough to want to put effort into opposing him and him being a naive fool who is partly in it for the love of secrets and puzzle-solving abstraction anyway. On the one hand, the show points out flaws in the main characters generally and I do think that Bashir's humanist belief that Odo deserves to live is supported. On the other, it seems to argue that there is no reasonable objection to genocide under these circumstances, nor to a secret organization with no responsibility to any democratic institutions, which is not both foolhardy and childish. That said, I suppose I'm not all that confident that I'm not a childish fool, so maybe Behr's characterization is fair.
Peter G.
Wed, May 25, 2016, 3:13pm (UTC -5)
@ William B,

Bashir certainly does care about his individual patients, but we may note upon observation that his 'caring' about them tends to be of the more impersonal variety, just as Odo cares about solving crimes but no so much about the individuals he helps when solving them. Contrast Bashir with Dr. McCoy, who had a true human connection to his patients almost invariably, and laughed with them and gave them reason to hope and get through it. Even McCoy's 'tough' attitude was a way to help patients get through the worst of it. But Bashir is more of a technician, where his way of helping is by being smart and succeeding, *knowing* he's done the right thing. The success condition is therefore mostly in Julian's head, rather than in his connection to his patients, and this theme is also focused on intently by the series. We're shown repeatedly that Bashir is far more interested in feeling smart than in connecting with others, and evidence of this is not only his penchant for repeated trips alone to the holodeck (until S7) but his desire to succeed as we see in The Quickening. In that episode we're given a first-hand view of Bashir wanting to be smart rather than humane; he wants to explain away the peoples' fears rather than sympathizing with them. That's why he doesn't understand Trevean and why his resolve is shattered when Trevean has to come in and clean up his mess.

So while Bashir does care about helping, it always seemed like it was more about the idea of helping rather than care for the individuals involved. In Odo's case we know for sure he does care about him, but how much of this cause is purely personal concern for him, and how much is theoretical outrage? Bashir wants his answer and Section 31 is standing in his way, so he's going to best them and get it by any means necessary.

"It is like doing a torture narrative: the most central case against torture, to me, is that it is unacceptable to inflict serious harm on another, but whether or not it is actually effective IS STILL RELEVANT. People do bad *and ineffective* things all the time"

This is true...now. But while some things won't change in the next 300 years some will. I have a hard time believing that the Obsidian Order was wasting its time using "ineffective" interrogation methods. When Garak says that he could have gotten information out of anyone, I believe him. The fact that intelligence agencies currently use methods that are both morally questionable, illegal, and ALSO ineffective just means to me that they are sloppy (like the Tal Shiar). I don't think it should be assumed that techniques like this *need* to be sloppy, it's just that they are right now. I'm also not entirely convinced by claims made that torture is ineffective; this seems like a good line to sell the public but I feel like 99.9% of people would break without much ado under the right conditions. But that's a side issue; the main issue is that I don't really believe that intelligence agencies 400 years from now would be using incompetent methods of extracting information. That being said, the worst of what we see from Section 31 doesn't really involve torture but rather intrigue and the plot to commit genocide, both of which obviously could be effectively executed without the need to discuss whether or not it is possible to do those things (the analogy being whether it is actually possible to forcibly extract information from someone). Whether committing genocide is itself a good strategic move is more akin to discussing military strategy than the effectiveness of methods. Once it's establish that the bomb works, or that the virus works, how to deploy it is another issue entirely. In DS9's case it's counterfactual to suppose what would have happened if the virus had never existed.
William B
Wed, May 25, 2016, 3:35pm (UTC -5)
I'm sure most people do break under torture, but the issue is the reliability of the information provided--to what extent information is accurate versus what the interrogators want to hear. But that's neither here nor there. Regardless I don't think that it is necessarily wrong to say that an organization can make poor judgement calls even in the future.

I agree that Bashir cares in a more detached abstract way about his patients, though I brought up The Wire specifically because I think he was especially motivated due to his personal connection to Garak, and in particular his willingness to continue to help him regardless of what he had done. I do think that Bashir's reliance on his intellect as his primary source of deriving meaning from his life contributes to his habit of living in his own mind that you mention. I like to think that this is not entirely a matter of some intrinsic difficulty caring about others but partly a product of believing himself worthless except in his intelligence, which he wasn't born with anyway, with early alienation from "Jules" and a life spent regretting the non intellectual pursuits he felt he had to leave behind (tennis etc.). His relationship with Miles is presumably so meaningful because it seems likely he never had "normal" boyhood friendships, being likely isolated from his peers first by being far less and later by being far more intelligent than them.
Peter G.
Wed, May 25, 2016, 3:45pm (UTC -5)
"I agree that Bashir cares in a more detached abstract way about his patients, though I brought up The Wire specifically because I think he was especially motivated due to his personal connection to Garak, and in particular his willingness to continue to help him regardless of what he had done."

if you watch the episode again and focus on Bashir I'm not sure you'll come out feeling like his main concern was for Garak as a person. There is something about Bashir becoming close with Garak that strikes me as appropriate in hindsight, because both of them are consummate professionals that put their work ethic above their personal feelings. Throughout The Wire Garak tries incessantly to rile Bashir up with various stories about himself, and to make him question his intent to help Garak with characterizations of himself. But Bashir was, if anything, unmoved by Garak's admissions, and remained implacably focused on completing his task, which was to 'fix' Garak. This strikes me as a very Garak-like way to proceed with a task; leave personal feelings out of it and complete the job. It is, in fact, Bashir's *refusal* to connect with the personal stories Garak is telling that enables him to remain so implacably committed to healing Garak, even to the point of flying a runabout right to Tain's house (!!!). I mean, this surely cannot be merely Bashir caring that much about his patient; it's not just above and beyond, it's straight-up driven. Now that I think of it I can see how this aspect of Julian, along with his isolated world of imagination, could appeal to Garak on a personal level since the two of them have these things in common.

For all Garak says of Julian's misguided principles and naive notions, I think he saw a lot of similarity between them in their impersonal approach to their work, their pride in their skills, and their tendency towards isolation.
William B
Wed, May 25, 2016, 3:47pm (UTC -5)
Anyway, while Bashir is obsessed with finding cures to the point where he fails to see his patients, he also does invest many of his patients with very intense focus and feeling, though intiially it is abstract. That he frequently fails to notice what his patients actually want is a sign that much of this is about him -- Melora, Garak, Goran'agar, the woman in The Quickening, Sarina -- and yet in each case I feel that Bashir does genuinely feel a connection to them. In some cases the connection is mostly in his head, but there is a sort of desperation there for someone to return signals he's putting into the dark. Jadzia remarks on his clinginess and persistence as well, of course. It's possible that Bashir is unwilling to connect to others except on his own terms, of course, in which case his aloneness is "his own fault," and he is certainly egocentric, but I largely think he wants to be able to connect to others but feels constantly isolated and is paranoid of rejection even from his closest friends. Much of this is because he is "closeted" because of his genetically engineered secret, too, though I think part of "Inquisition's" power for me comes from Bashir's fears of everyone abandoning him (and him *deserving* this) persisting after that is revealed. This also links him to Odo, who also to some degree wants to connect to others but does not know how and so settles for problem solving as an attempted substitute for interpersonal connection.
Peter G.
Wed, May 25, 2016, 4:04pm (UTC -5)
In the cases of Melora and Selina we see what happens when Bashir does actually connect with a patient; it overwhelms him and his idea of what's going on gets way out of control. Maybe part of it has to do with what we normally call overthinking situations, where for a genetically engineered mind might mean the equivalent of eons of ruminating on what small minutiae mean. His relationships with both of these women were clearly mistakes, both professionally and personally.

I agree that his best example of a real relationship with a patient was the woman in The Quickening, but I think part of that had to do with the fact that she was offering herself as his assistant; she was the feeling up support he needed from these people while he was saving them. So although she was not for the most part functioning directly as his patient she was certainly serving up large doses for his ego on a constant basis. The way she made him feel about himself seemed more pronounced than any way he might have felt about her.

It's different, I suppose, with male patients, and on the few occasions when he had a significant male patient (Bareil, Sisko, Odo) his role in helping them was mostly relegated to being a plot point. Even his feelings about Bareil becoming a robot seemed more on principle than anything to do with Bashir's personal feelings about Bareil, whom he didn't really know.

One reason why I think Jadzia and Bashir wouldn't have worked that well is because she was never going to feed into his ego or his sense of being smart. She was always the type to show off and take the superior position socially, and would never give him the satisfaction of him looking smarter than her. I think this situation would have been self-defeating for Bashir in very short order. Contrast with the more humble and meek Ezri, who we could legitimately see as admiring Bashir for his gifts whereas the competitive Jadzia would only rarely, if ever, have done so.
Wiliam B
Wed, May 25, 2016, 4:10pm (UTC -5)
"When making a strategic assessment I can see why some viewers might feel that cornering the Founders only made them attack sooner and harder, and that this could have hurt the Federation, but based on how the story is told it seems evident to me that the intention was that the virus was the real linchpin in convincing the Founders to surrender, since it gave Odo a reason to go back to them and offer the cure as an olive branch from the Federation."

Surely if this was the case, then we must credit Bashir and O'Brien as being correct in curing Odo, since Section 31 seemed intent on letting him die rather than using him as a bargaining chip/overture. Unless Section 31 planned to let Bashir get the cure from Sloan. Given that the Federation was intent on Odo not curing the others (and it had seemed as if going to speak to the Founder directly was a spur-of-the-moment decision by Odo on the Defiant), at the very least Section 31 and the Federation's judgment must have been wrong in wanting to withhold the cure under all circumstances once the Founders were infected, whether or not it was good judgment or not to infect them in the first place. This is part of what I have a hard time understanding about that moment in WYLB; Odos overture to the Founder relies on convincing her that the solids are not as big a threat as she imagines, but he also presumably carries with him the information that the Federation infected the Founders, before the war started. Presumably within the Link Odo could either omit the information he did not want her to know or, more likely, was able to communicate his ambivalent-positive attitudes (the Federation may have infected us in self-defense but there are Federation solids who have helped me and given an offer of surrender they can be trusted). I like to think that Bashir and O'Brien's willingness to risk their lives to save Odo did help Odo make the case for solids and for the Federation's trustworthiness in not only not invading the Gamma Quadrant Dominion location but apparently in restraining Klingons and Romulans from doing so as well.
William B
Wed, May 25, 2016, 4:17pm (UTC -5)
I certainly agree that Melora and Sarina were mistakes, professionally and personally...though I think that the implication is that he did actually help Sarina with his treatment, though the relationship was a major error (and conversely, that Melora may have been helped by the relationship in a small way even though his attempts to fix her "condition" were a mistake). I mostly wanted to say that Bashir does want on some level to connect to others, but I think he does not know how and is totally overwhelmed when the prospect presents itself. I will be on the lookout for to what extent his feelings are personal next time in The Wire. I do agree that there is a tendency to want a kind of hero worship in his patients (and anyone he connects to).
William B
Wed, May 25, 2016, 5:28pm (UTC -5)
To be clear, I agree that Bashir was initially primarily concerned with bringing down Section 31 rather than with Odo, and it was O'Brien who had to remind him at several points in the episode (in the initial darts scene and then when Sloan tempted Bashir with information at the end) what their actual priority was. In the end I think it is important that for his flaws and his tendency to abstraction over immediate, interpersonal concerns, Bashir does actually agree with O'Brien and views saving Odo as a more immediate and important goal than Section 31. One could say that even this is just a function of Bashir being convinced that it is better to fight a battle that is possible to win and that curing Odo is itself a way to thumb his nose at Section 31, but I tend to view the two goals -- saving Odo, defeating Section 31 -- as mostly distinct, and while his natural inclination is to give up on his patient for the broader goal he ultimately does believe that saving Odo is a higher calling, even if it has to be O'Brien who reminds him of it.

Given that Odo having the cure helps save tremendous lives, I think that the narrative does support Bashir and O'Brien saving Odo, which is on some level what I think is evidence that there is good in Bashir's tenacity and idealism, IF he focuses it on specific and achievable good. He has to give up on destroying Section 31 to save Odo, but he is willing to risk a lot to save Odo partly because he does care about Odo as his patient and his friend/acquaintance and partly because he does think what was done to Odo is wrong and is motivated to do something about it. To me the story overall is about the importance of tempering idealism and abstract principles with a pragmatic recognition of reality and to recognize which part of one's "idealism" is actually a kind of egotism. "The Quickening," IMO, was similar in that Bashir's initial approach was proven wrong, but when confronted with his errors he decided to continue trying to accomplish difficult/impossible feats and eventually succeeded in doing good, albeit on a much different scale than he had originally believed himself capable. So I think that some of Bashir's impersonal abstract principles are still shown to be valuable rather than purely ego-driven. Or at least I hope so. On that level, I think Bashir does adapt; it is Sloan who fails to adapt and not only dies in the process, but dies trying to prevent Odo from getting the cure that allows him to end the war (or, at least, significantly reduce the fatalities).
Peter G.
Thu, May 26, 2016, 12:19pm (UTC -5)
@ William B,

"Surely if this was the case, then we must credit Bashir and O'Brien as being correct in curing Odo, since Section 31 seemed intent on letting him die rather than using him as a bargaining chip/overture."

Section 13 may well have been planning on holding the cure over their heads once they were in a more vulnerable situation. Odo, after all, didn't offer it until the end either. However what I do agree with is that while the Founder did finally agree to accept the cure and surrender, it was only because it came with Odo's assurances, which she trusted. I think that no matter what Section 31 or the Federation said to her the female Changeling would never have trusted them, even to her own detriment, and would have allowed her race to die rather than accepting their terms. If there's any truth to this then the reality is that Section 31 did give Odo the tools he needed to convince the Founders to surrender (the survival of the Link), but what they wouldn't have realized was that only Nixon...I mean, Odo, could be the one to offer it to them. In terms of Extreme Measures I think the moral would be that both Sloan and Julian are right, in different ways, and that the Federation needs both kinds of men. They need the Siskos as well as the Picards.

"while his natural inclination is to give up on his patient for the broader goal he ultimately does believe that saving Odo is a higher calling, even if it has to be O'Brien who reminds him of it."

Agreed. Bashir has a strong Human sense at the end of the day, but his fixation on his intelligence and success constantly blind him. I think you said it best when you suggested that by altering who he was at a young age be basically became his genetic modifications, since the old Jules was deemed unacceptable to his parents. His identity would afterward be rooted in a combination of hiding who he was while also going to excess in trying to get others to recognize his gifts. His early scene with Kira in a runabout telling her she should be impressed with him, that he impresses himself; that has always been DS9 gold to me.

"To me the story overall is about the importance of tempering idealism and abstract principles with a pragmatic recognition of reality and to recognize which part of one's "idealism" is actually a kind of egotism."

This is good. It reminds me of a point made in TNG's Family, where Robert correctly points out that Picard didn't merely suffer a defeat but was humbled in a way he never had been before. Even despite having been changed by being stabbed by a Nausicaan, Picard's moral sense still seemed to be wrapped up in his ego, and it's telling that after having his ego shattered he briefly begins to contemplate working on the undersea project back on Earth. The Borg represented not only the antithesis of his values, but of his sense of his own superiority. He was helpless before them. In Bashir's case it's different, since Bashir's ego going to excess isn't merely an issue of stubborn pigheaded pride but, as Sloan mentions, is legitimately dangerous both for Bashir and his friends, and even for the Federation.



William B
Thu, May 26, 2016, 1:51pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G.,

It would make a lot of sense for Section 31 to be holding the cure out until such time as it could be used as a bargaining chip. This would actually resolve some of the *practical* concerns I have about this plotline, too -- first of all, why they *have* a cure so readily (rather than, say, merely information on how the virus was created which could maybe lead to a cure). Second, given that Odo was apparently infected in Homefront/Paradise Lost, while all-out war looked likely but may in principle have been preventable, it makes some sense to have a sort of reset button available in the event that peace is possible (which would be disrupted if the Founders found out that they were infected and, more to the point, somehow found some evidence of who infected them). I'm not sure how much stock to put it in given what evidence is on screen, though at least the existence of a cure somewhat supports that interpretation.

"However what I do agree with is that while the Founder did finally agree to accept the cure and surrender, it was only because it came with Odo's assurances, which she trusted. I think that no matter what Section 31 or the Federation said to her the female Changeling would never have trusted them, even to her own detriment, and would have allowed her race to die rather than accepting their terms. If there's any truth to this then the reality is that Section 31 did give Odo the tools he needed to convince the Founders to surrender (the survival of the Link), but what they wouldn't have realized was that only Nixon...I mean, Odo, could be the one to offer it to them. In terms of Extreme Measures I think the moral would be that both Sloan and Julian are right, in different ways, and that the Federation needs both kinds of men. They need the Siskos as well as the Picards."

I agree that that's probably the overall message of the text, and a good way to put it.

"Agreed. Bashir has a strong Human sense at the end of the day, but his fixation on his intelligence and success constantly blind him. I think you said it best when you suggested that by altering who he was at a young age be basically became his genetic modifications, since the old Jules was deemed unacceptable to his parents. His identity would afterward be rooted in a combination of hiding who he was while also going to excess in trying to get others to recognize his gifts. His early scene with Kira in a runabout telling her she should be impressed with him, that he impresses himself; that has always been DS9 gold to me."

It's a tough life. I love that Kira/Bashir scene. And I think that high-wire act would wear a person down after a while (as Bashir seems to fall into a real depression as the series goes on, and not, I think, just because of the war); he cannot let anyone know that he was genetically enhanced, but he must justify his worth by using his genetic enhancement or be deemed unacceptable again.

I also wanted to mention that I like that it is O'Brien who reminds Bashir of his more pressing humanist commitment to his friend/acquaintance both because it works in-story and also because it nicely reprises the end of "Inquisition," where it was Bashir's knowledge of O'Brien's shoulder that was his way of exiting Sloan's simulation -- which itself happened because Bashir reached out for Miles as a personal plea.

I like the comparison with "Family." I think it's notable that Picard's experience with the Nausicaans did teach Picard a kind of humility, but it was specifically humility about his youthful daring-do and gave him particular incentive to keep himself (and in particular his emotions) under control at all times, which is another thing that the Borg assaulted and took away from him. While devoting oneself to self-control and sublimating one's passions into one's work are not exactly "easy," they are at least possible, whereas it's unclear what "lessons" Picard can take from his Borg experience that can be implemented directly; mostly what he learns is that there are limits to his power and values even over himself, without any clear indication how to implement this through action. That he is mortal and fallible, not just in an abstract way (which he has surely known) but in a visceral, personal way, is mainly a lesson in worldview rather than in how to behave on a day to day basis, which is much harder.
Peter G.
Thu, May 26, 2016, 2:13pm (UTC -5)
"Second, given that Odo was apparently infected in Homefront/Paradise Lost, while all-out war looked likely but may in principle have been preventable, it makes some sense to have a sort of reset button available in the event that peace is possible "

Yes, and let's take this even further. At the time of Homefront a faction within the Federation clearly believed that war was inevitable and that the Federation must be prepared for battle. Even the preachers on Risa in "Let He Who Is Without Sin" shared this sentiment, more or less. Admiral Leyton was going to usurp Starfleet and then the Federation via a coup, and he obviously wasn't working alone all by himself. So we have him, who was already planning for war, and Section 31, which was doing likewise. What are the odds that the two plots were unrelated? This is doubly so since Odo was on Earth at Leyton's invitation, and any visit to Starfleet Medical would likely have been either authorized or even requested by Leyton himself.

Could Leyton have been working directly with Section 31? Or could they have been manipulating him as they later tried to do with Bashir? Could his coup have possibly been a Section 31 operation where they were finally going to assert themselves more overtly than ever before? As crazy as that sounds, it's no more extreme than attempting genocide before war has even been declared.
William B
Thu, May 26, 2016, 2:42pm (UTC -5)
If we are going into full speculation mode, it is also even possible that this was a Founder plot which went badly awry -- we know that the Founders were willing to stir up/respond to and exaggerate *genocidal leanings* within enemy nations in order to cripple them and possibly even co-opt them, regarding the Tal Shiar/Obsidian Order plot. One of the most fascinating and relatively uncommented on elements there is the multiple levels of self-fulfilling prophesy that go on there (which is also a theme in "The Ship," though I think rearranging elements of that plot might have made it more effective) and indeed the whole war arc. Whether the Founders first planted the idea of a secret organization push to genocide the Founders or they were merely responding to Tain, they created conditions where enemies were attempting to destroy them purely as a way to manipulate them...which also justifies the level of force that the Founders use on them. It seems unlikely that the Founders make particular distinctions between "rebellion" and "want to destroy us," but it seems that Founder policy is not only built on protecting against the assumed genocide, but in using that against their enemies, as if they have no idea how to fight a war against solids who don't want to destroy them and so recreate those conditions. The Founders make themselves targets for hatred so that they are under threat so that they use the force, and for most of the series everyone else plays this (possibly even unconscious on their part) game along with them.

Oddly -- and obviously this is veering into fanfic-level speculation -- I could imagine a Founder working in Section 31 (or, more likely, a satellite organization with some ties) on a readily curable disease and on an overthrow of Federation democratic institutions into marshal law by shadowy organization. Perhaps someone closely working in the Federation would recognize how much the Federation's loose (relative to the Empires surrounding it) affiliation of member states depends on faith in Federation values, and showing that member states were not safe from threats within the Federation would lead to dissolution into scattered individual states which would be easy to conquer. It would be along the same lines as the Obsidian Order/Tal Shiar attack -- it takes the form of a genocidal attack against the Founders which is turned against the attackers, "solidifies" (hardy har) the Founders' "moral position" to themselves and probably to the Dominion member states, some of whom probably do believe in the propaganda (certainly it is important to keep the Jem'Hadar and Vorta convinced in the Founders' rightness even beyond being Gods) and demonstrates the futility of going after the Dominion. But then at some point something went wrong, the Founder died too soon, and word never got out to the other Founders that there was a simple cure, nor was the plan to break up the Federation from the inside ever implemented. How independently do the Founders operate when they are in the field?
William B
Thu, May 26, 2016, 2:50pm (UTC -5)
I will add that using already-placed resentment against shadowy organizations are probably part of the Dominion's expansionist strategy anyway. I can imagine the pitch to Cardassia: the Obsidian Order ruled your lives without your say, and then they tried to destroy us without cause. We had the Obsidian Order as a common enemy. More subtly, they could even add (though doing so in a way that does not ruffle Cardassian pride would take some doing): You saw what happened when you ruled yourselves; you were slaves to others in your society, to secrets. Join with us and we can protect you from yourselves. With Romulus it's different because the Tal Shiar was not wholly destroyed, but they might have been able to identify the destroyed Tal Shiar with a subsection that could be blamed for Romulan woes. Perhaps eventually they would make a similar pitch to the Klingons about the High Council, after eventually Changeling Martok had led them to something of a ruin (never being exposed, of course).

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