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Sat, Jan 18, 2020, 8:44pm (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S2: Future Tense

I spent most of this episode being angry at how stupid they're being. They've dealt with any number of weird contagions and mysterious gases in their explorations, so they should know to be careful. They even have that whole decontamination chamber.

But when they find a derelict pod, they just take it into Enterprise and open it up. The hull even blocked them from sscaninginside! They have no idea what's in there. Could be a chlorine armosphere or something. Could be that whatever made it go derelict is still lurking inside, too. But no, they just stand around it with no protective gear and open it up.

Then later with the Trip and Malcolm scenes, they're not even wearing gloves. They're just touching everything (including objects covered in strange fluids) with their bare hands. It was icky to watch.

But I guess the writers had told them that this was not a "mysterious disease" episode so they had nothing to worry about.
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Sat, Jan 18, 2020, 8:09pm (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S2: Stigma

I had to roll my eyes when Archer was upset that the Vulcans wouldn't cure the disease because of political reasons. Archer did exactly that to an entire species!

But now the shoe is on the other foot. Protagonist-centered morality at its finest.
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Sat, Jan 18, 2020, 7:43pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S4: Vis A Vis

The discussion here about B’lanna being raped is interesting. There was an episode of Law and Order SVU where, basically, a bunch of rich moms were sleeping with some guy that misrepresented himself as some person of influence of a fancy pants school everyone wanted to get into, and they were deciding if that was rape, because the women didn’t say no. I forgot how they ended the episode (sorry). So if you lie about who you are and someone sleeps with you based on this identity, is that rape? People lie all the time. There was also an episode in DS9 where Sisko represented himself as Dark Universe Sisko, and was with Dark Universe Dax, which I also thought was messed up.
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Sat, Jan 18, 2020, 5:25pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Children of Time

Pretty damn incredible, not a doubt about it. It didn't have quite the lasting impact on me that I generally require for a four star rating, but I will *easily* award the three-point-five.

Who needs "happy future where everyone gets married and has babies" when you can have "happy future where everyone got married and had babies... hundreds of years ago... and if you ever want to see your home again, you have to kill them all"!

This is one of those premises where you *know*, for the sake of the series continuing to be a series, that our main characters will get out of it somehow. The eight thousand descendants here and their Standard Star Trek Charmingly Rural Life are doomed from the start (barring the one-in-a-billion duplication that Yedrin tries peddling to them). But the show is sure to make that inevitability as painful as it possibly can. There's a tension building over the course of the episode, as our crew decide one by one that they want to ensure these people even got a chance to live in the first place: I couldn't help wondering "how is this going to go wrong?" With everyone on board with the plan by the time they're on board the Defiant, we're at the most vulnerable point for tragedy: what *could* it be? Is there some Random Ensign of the Day who's decided to sabotage the plan? Is it as simple and undramatic as an unfortunate accident?

Oh no. Ohhhh no.

Oh, Oldo. (Looks like I'm not the only one to come up with that nickname.) At the beginning, he feels like our resident changeling's dream come true: after Odo's spent years dancing around not confessing his feelings, here comes the older and wiser version who cuts out all the hard work by dropping the L-bomb with zero hesitation -- and garnering a positive reception for it, too!

And then he drops a different bomb altogether.

For all the breaches of trust that have come up in Odo and Kira's relationship, EIGHT THOUSAND PEOPLE *easily* outdoes one collaborator or three falsely accused innocents. It's one shocker of a bold move to pull, especially now that the feelings are acknowledged and out in the open -- normally, the stage would be set for something to come of that, but MY GOD! Can their relationship be the same after this? Should it? It's a different Odo, for sure, but by God, this feels like something that'd overshadow their relationship for a *long* time. Kira's continued *existence* has come at the cost of thousands of lives, in active defiance of her wishes, all for the sake of Odo's love. Her face of absolute horror really says it all. Imagine the survivor's guilt...

(... I *said* this ep didn't leave much of a lasting impact on me, but typing it out and processing it, I'm beginning to think it actually did.

Moving on. Is Oldo just Auberjonois with no prosthetics at all? Usually I have trouble recognising the actors of prosthetic-heavy characters as their usual selves, but had no trouble here. To me, it looks like regular smoothface Odo with detail added -- which speaks to the quality of the prosthetic work.

I saw a quote from Auberjonois going round about how Odo's smooth face stems from not having much of a grasp on his own identity. He may well be able to "do faces", just as he can easily make other complex forms (he doesn't become an oddly smooth hawk, after all -- he just becomes a normal goddamn hawk). But *his* face? Something he'd have to invent out of nothing? It's non-distinct to start with, and then that non-distinct "placeholder face" (faceholder?) just becomes his face anyway through comfort and familiarity. In light of that, then, Oldo's non-smooth face seems odd -- naturally, it's a visual convention to make him distinct and mark the passage of time, but nothing about Oldo seems to indicate any stronger grip on his identity as an individual and/or as a humanoid. Hell, if anything he has *less* of a grip on it -- he seems very much isolated from everyone else, and IIRC doesn't even talk to anyone apart from Kira. For all we know, he could've just one day escaped from his sci-fi breadmaker* and run off into the sunset, making no contact with The Society Formerly Known As The Defiant.

* (Memory Alpha says the Odo box here is literally just a breadmaker with sci-fi bits and bobs attached. No disrespect to the props department -- I actually kind of love that.)

The Sons of Mogh are a rather touching standout. I love the fact that membership of their little group is optional and apparently freely obtained rather than limited to Worf's descendants: "some by blood, some by choice". We have part-Klingon "Sons of Mogh" and part-Klingons in the main settlement; there are full humans in both too, including the kid who's desperate to join them. Little details like this inform mental images of the history that led up to this: an elderly Worf tells old Klingon tales to his children, his grandchildren, and anyone else sufficiently intrigued to listen -- creating a new mythology and culture for generations down the line.

It's also an interesting little cultural variation within this society. It's rare that Star Trek shows differences in culture on a single-planet basis, beyond a bare minimum (and if so, it'll be the thing an entire one-off episode revolves around). Here, it's just a background fact of the society, originally stemming from a species difference and yet not limited to it. Lovely little concept.

One final topic before I get to the bullet points -- this *was* going to be a bullet point, but then I started thinking too much (waaaaaay too much). There was one interesting background detail I was looking out for all episode, as soon as it was clear these were Defiant descendants: none of the part-Trill descendants look even *slightly* Klingon, and not one of the part-Klingons has even a single spot. What's the cause of that: genetic incompatibility or romantic incompatibility? If Worf and Dax's marriage didn't last, you'd think Yedrin would've mentioned it... though maybe his nonspecific non-answer to Jadzia's question is telling:

JADZIA: Were we happy together?
YEDRIN: He's a good man, Jadzia.

(while watching, I remember thinking "hah, they couldn't *possibly* have a male host talking about loving a man, gotta give the weakest response possible"... but it could equally hint at this little mystery about the lack of Worf/Dax offspring)

And if it's a genetics thing, you've then got to have them both banging other people for the sake of the gene pool. Which... may have led to the "romantic incompatibility" explanation in itself, because we've well and truly established how Worf feels about Dax doing that, and while genetic necessity gives her a *reason* for that other than bog standard infidelity, it also seems like a prime way to bring these issues between them to a head. No terrorist organisation for Worf to join this time, though! He'll just have to start his own!

Or *maaaaybe* the lack of Trillgons (Klingill? Trigons?) was a production oversight, probably like the lack of mixed-race humans in general. But that explanation is Boring. Why go with an obvious/Doylist answer when there's a golden opportunity to overthink things for several paragraphs instead?

... and now that's out of the way...

- There's something very bittersweet about insisting on planting their crops despite this being their last day alive. Insisting on preparations for the future, even in the full knowledge that they won't have one. Worf's action of reuniting the Sons of Mogh for this final action... god, it's the cherry on the cake.
- I will forever love how *immediate* it is that Sisko goes into Dad Mode in close proximity to babies. Like the flick of a switch.
- They make a big deal out of how O'Brien ended up with someone else despite having Keiko back on DS9, but there's not a single mention of Kasidy for Ben? I guess it's a less long-term relationship, and an unmarried one at that, but still.
- Julian, ever the opportunist, immediately making plans to hook up with his alt-future Babyshir-maker.
- What an anticlimactic ending for Kira/Shakaar! Just shoved under the table and there, done. I hate to say it, but... I really don't mind. He had a strong start and then pretty much went downhill right from the moment they set him up with Kira. But WOW, even less focus on their breakup than we had with Bashir/Leeta. Stone cold.
- I love the weirdness of the "we need to give Armin Shimmerman something to do this ep" cameo. Simulated maths teacher Quark. What a concept.
- And speaking of Quark's absence, I'm now wondering what it'd be like if he *had* come along. Picture it: in the absence of latinum, the Quark dynasty has developed a flourishing economy that uses, I dunno, particularly shiny rocks as currency. Oversized ears everywhere.
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Sat, Jan 18, 2020, 1:20pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Soldiers of the Empire

I am someone who generally likes the Klingon episodes, especially ones with Worf and Dax (it's not really the focus in this one, but it's always interesting to see how their respective backgrounds affect how they function in Klingon settings; it seems that Dax often fits in better than Worf does). I definitely felt the similarity to 'A Matter of Honor' here, of holding a borderline mutinous crew together through some incredibly tense situations. It doesn't do *too* much that's new in that respect, but it's still worthwhile to see a different sort of Klingon crew: low morale is a different problem to face. Less a "fish out of water" story, more about leadership in general.

It's interesting how General Martok fits into this. Both he and this crew have spent the recent past being beaten into submission by the Jem'Hadar, and it's made quite an impression on both. And yet it affects them in different ways. Some clearly spoiling for any kind of victory in a fight, even if it's with their crewmates. Some feeling as if they've already lost whatever battle they're going into. And Martok seems to have grown more timid. No doubt he's suffered enough punishment at the Jem'Hadar's hands for one lifetime.

Contrast Worf, who came out of the Dominion prison victorious -- not just in battle, but in spirit. He *does* repay what Martok did to him there, and while he doesn't win this victory himself, he plays the key role. His invitation to the House of Martok is a touching moment, and well-deserved.

(I will note, though -- near the end of the episode I was thinking "wait, they've only just resolved the power struggles, there's no time for the actual battle!" And then there wasn't. This story does enough on its own, and doesn't *have* to be about GLORIOUS KLINGON BATTLE -- we've had our fair share of that elsewhere -- but I still feel a little let down dammit.)
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Sat, Jan 18, 2020, 12:55pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: The Begotten

@Omicron: *ouch.* What a nightmare that must've been.

Checking the transcript now, and yeah, the little zapper circle is nothing in comparison. To quote Mora: "Odo, six millivolts is not going to hurt it."
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Sat, Jan 18, 2020, 12:03pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: The Begotten


"There's definitely a lot to consider in a situation like this. Odo definitely acted as a tempering influence to an extent, and I don't doubt that Mora had much nastier changeling-changer machines."

He did.

In this very episode (I just rewatched it) Odo mentions that Mora used a vacuum chamber and a protein decompiler. Yikes! It's like he had an entire torture chamber or something.
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Sat, Jan 18, 2020, 9:16am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S7: Q2

Hate it when people show up and say things like "This is a light-hearted comedy, not SERIOUS DRAMA!" to excuse terrible writing. Comedy episodes can be just as good as the serious episodes, this one sure as FUCK wasn't.
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Sat, Jan 18, 2020, 7:46am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S5: Bliss

Agreed. Solid stuff, even if the second half isn't quite as strong as the first. Seven and Naomi's relationship continues to be very sweet, especially the way Seven calls her by her full name, although it's kinda funny that Naomi has become much more of a prominent presence than her mother at this point. They don't even get a scene together at the end!
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Sat, Jan 18, 2020, 4:46am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Ties of Blood and Water

(Also, Kira smashing her cup on Dukat's face? Beautiful scene. I need more of that in my life.)
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Sat, Jan 18, 2020, 4:41am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Ties of Blood and Water

I wasn't expecting Ghemor to come back, and yet DS9 is exactly the kind of series in which he would. I'm grateful for that -- I loved the unlikely "found family" dynamic they built up over their one appearance together, and I'm glad to see it withstand Dukat's meddling here.

Weyoun is kind of fantastic, isn't he? You really get the impression that he's constantly holding himself back from fits of manic giggling.
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Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 8:18pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: The Outrageous Okona

I'm surprised that Jammer and a lot of others actually like the B plot with Data trying to learn (about) humor.

I first saw this episode as a teenager and, coming from Central Europe, it was pretty much I was exposed to (American-style) stand-up comedy. I thought it was quite the opposite of funny, amusing, pleasant, humorous, you name it. I hated it so much that I'd avoided anything resembling stand-up for the next 15 years, until the horrible feeling this episode gave me finally wore off and I discovered that some stand-up is actually quite nice.

So... the pretty lame plot with Mr. Charming Rogue seemed really nice to me by comparison.
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Peter G.
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 8:03pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Doctor Bashir, I Presume

Yep, I meant DIstant Voices. I mean, they both involve whispers...
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Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 7:34pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: A Simple Investigation

I ALWAYS forget this happened post Odo's de-solidification. Course I always think of this episode as "the one where Odo has sex", which DOES make sense pre "The Begotten."

Presumably, because Odo has lived as a solid, the knowledge of how to replicate the "full" human body, inside and out now rests within him. Whether he chooses to replicate his organs all the time or not is a matter of debate, although I guess that would mean we might see him eat once in awhile after this. Though maybe he doesn't like the hours long digestive process. But he can probably replicate all the necessary equipment and brain impulses to enjoy intimate acts if need be.
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Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 7:28pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Doctor Bashir, I Presume

Another episode with shades of "Poor parenting choices"

@Peter G. I think you meant Season 3's "Distant Voices" as "Whispers" was the O'Brien's 'everything is wrong and everyone is in on it' episode.

As for revelation, it does add some wrinkles to Bashir, but I don't think it goes out of it's way to adversely change his character on it's own. Perhaps in conjunction with other events, but that's just characterization marching on I think.

What I do like is how it retroactively works too. First with the aforementioned "Distant Voices" - ehich also gives that episode some additional context that elevates it somewhat, but also with "Our Man Bashir", which Trek reviewer SFDebris analysed from a post Augment revelation point of view. Essentially "OMB" lets us the audience, and Garak, in on Bashir's fantasy. Not of being a spy, but of being able to live a life as the exceptional, superhuman he is. The fate of the world in his hands, the detail-oriented work, seeking out and playing other's weaknesses against them. AND being able to non-fatally shoot a man (Garak) in the neck with pin-point accuracy. And being able to make quick, calculated decisions on the fly. All with Garak mock it, but in reality dancing around the truth of it all and either missing it, or knowing full-damn well what it all meant to Bashir.

Honestly, even if this twist wasn't planned, I don't really have a problem given how well it can be placed upon the previous foundations laid out.
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Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 7:10pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: The Begotten

I think in some Trek episodes it's easy to get hung up on story minutia nowadays and muddle the big point the writers were aiming for. Can't see the forest for the trees as it were. The trees in this case being "shock therapy" and "experimentation" which DO carry a lot of connotations on their own, yeah, but here is just the Trek Twist TM on the "Carrot v. Stick" or "Caring or Clinical" parental/childhood development message.

Here we've got an episode essentially arguing for moderate spanking (or even just punishment for bad behaviour) and pushing your kids, but without beating them or negleting the child's needs. It's "parenting is hard, but approach it with balance, caring and understanding, and sometimes you'll have to push your kid a bit harder than you or they'd like, but it's only to encourage their development"

Let's be honest, Odo likely would be a helicopter parent if given the chance, and his kid would never grow and become independent.

As for Mora, even though he didn't know he'd fallen into a parental role at the start, he never really fully stepped into it either, or perhaps, didn't know how. At the start he's still not fully acknowledging Odo's independence and measuring his personhood by his successes and criticising his lack or it in other places.

And given Mora's role, it's easy to see how Odo got where he did and made his choices. Always looking for belonging, but never finding it, closing himself off when around those that might give it to him. And no wonder he rejected the Founders. He felt a sense of home with them, but also saw the familiar detachment and cruelty he'd "grown up" with. And then he's tried to build that belonging, first with the abandoned Jem'Hadar, a bit with Kira, and now with this baby changling. And all failed, although, through the baby changling he was able to build a bridge back to Mora, and find, if not belonging, at least understanding between them.
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Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 6:32pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S5: Course: Oblivion

It always cracks me up to see people treat Trek as this "hard sci fi" show that rests within our laws of physics and understanding. The whole point is to leave those normal constraints behind and use that freedom to explore interesting ideas. That's what this show exemplifies for me. No, it doesn't make sense but it is an INTERESTING story imo. Therefore this show is a success in my book even if it's too "cynical"??? for some.
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Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 6:31pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Doctor Bashir, I Presume

I have reservations with this episode too, and I agree about the murkiness of what was done to Bashir. However, it does turn out to be a pretty good development for the character as we get "Statistical Probabilities" and the Section 31 material from it. Just goes to show retcons aren't always bad.
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Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 5:07pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: A Simple Investigation

Definitely something that feels strange to have *not* been one of the solid Odo episodes. I can't help wondering, what specifically would changeling Odo get out of sex? Emotional intimacy, closeness, being able to please a partner, taking part in what's seen by many as a pretty damn fundamental part of "The Humanoid Experience"... all pretty solid (ha ha) reasons. Would he get anything out of the act itself, though?

For what it's worth, it does seem like Odo's been hoping a little more intimacy in his life, and not just Kira. That one self-help book he was reading in 'In Purgatory's Shadow'... and not to mention his choice of reading material in 'The Ascent'. Research, huh? That's next of kin to "reading it for the articles".

I will say that this feels like it worked better than a lot of Trek's sex (that rhymes). I mean, compare this to 'Let He Who Is Whatever'... that gives you a super low bar to clear, but still. It *kiiinda* feels like the main purpose of this story (on the level of the series as a whole) was to establish that Odo Can Sex, and it's pretty clearly heading that way from "bedroom eyes" onwards. It does also give a precedent for him actually having some success in romance, which might hopefully do something to increase his confidence in general -- if he can get over the heartbreak, that is.

Arissa here has details filled in well enough that I can muster up empathy, so that's good at least, and things like her data port and her involvement with the Orion Syndicate hint at greater worldbuilding. But it's clear she's not going to persist beyond the end credits, and all through her growing closeness with Odo I was thinking "okay, betrayal's gonna happen any time soon". So yes, this is still very much The Odo Show.

In other news: we have the triumphant return of the James Bond shenanigans! I *love* how much fun Dax has with the holosuites. Sure seems to be having fun with her gossip too, huh.

Also the two Orion Syndicate guys are a fun diversion, and that hasperat they get from the Promenade looks really nice. This line of the comment brought to you by Fenn's rumbling stomach.
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Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 4:44pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Doctor Bashir, I Presume

If you are already at the clinic why not pimp that little bugger up to 11?!
More ways to brag at parties!
The father was obviously insecure, so turning his son into a super human is quite understandable. Maybe he is a loser but he produces super children.
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Peter G.
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 3:03pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Doctor Bashir, I Presume

Three excellent questions.
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Top Hat
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 2:58pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Doctor Bashir, I Presume

Here's an interview in which Siddig expresses his discontent:

What annoys me the most is that they decide that Bashir was not only brought up to normal or even prodigy levels of intelligence by the genetic treatment, but also that it turned him into a god among men physically too. What why what?
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Peter G.
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 2:54pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Doctor Bashir, I Presume

@ Fenn,

You'll get the most bang for your buck in retroactively taking a look at Whispers from S2. The whole episode reads differently when seen in hindsight. I highly doubt they had any of what was coming in mind when they wrote it, which makes it all the more mysterious that they did write it. Maybe they wanted to leave Whispers vague enough to suit various options for "surprise" without having to settle on one just yet. I mean, why else write in that Julian deliberately failed to get 1st in his class? Why insert that into his past, and have it take a Lethian to draw it out of him, unless it's Something Important? Almost puts Bashir on the same level as Garak in terms of it implying he's hiding something. That said most of the writers probably either didn't pick up on that or else dropped it, since there are no other allusions in the series to Julian having some kind of secret reason to fail.
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Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 2:11pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Doctor Bashir, I Presume

(One note I forgot to mention in my initial comment: it's fascinating to read Jammer's contemporary reviews, I had no idea that Dolly the sheep happened around the same time as this.)

Anyway, Peter G: thanks for the background info! Yeah, this really does seem like the wrong time to pull a "surprise" like this. Episodes like 'The Wire', 'The Quickening', 'Nor The Battle' etc have already done far more than enough to depict a natural flow of character development... and then to suddenly introduce this (AND in such close proximity to Changeling Bashir, as you say) feels inorganic as well as unnecessary. Less an arc, more a loop-the-loop.

Ouch, speaking of which. After a month of no one knowing Changeling Bashir was any different from the regular one, now his own parents can't tell an incomplete hologram from their actual son.

As for how Siddig's playing it from now on, I'll have to keep an eye on him in upcoming episodes. Delving back into the history of the show in light of this twist may not be all that useful, but no doubt this is going to inform future choices.
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Peter G.
Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 2:02pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Doctor Bashir, I Presume

@ Fenn.

There were two parallel issues with this Bashir development. The first is that according to Michael Pillar they had decided pre-pilot to run a number on Bashir's character, making him deliberately unlikeable for a few seasons in order to then spring some kind of surprise and have him turn around to become a fan favorite. I have no idea why they wanted to do an experiment like this, but maybe it was due to everyone on TNG just being so damn nice and friendly. For Bashir they actually wanted to fans not to like him initially! Ironically I like early Bashir the best because he's such a dork.

So this character retcon may well be what they settled on for Bashir's 'big surprise'. The issue for me is they had already had one big surprise - the Changeling situation. And what's more, Bashir had already been toned way down by this time and wasn't the aggravating nuisance that Kira wanted to swat every time he spoke. So any kind of sudden reversal at this stage in the game wasn't really that much of a reversal. He was probably a middle of the road fan favorite originally, and would remain so after this. It basically changed nothing. At least, nothing in terms of ratings.

The second issue was how the writers took to Bashir's new identity, which Siddig apparently feared would have them turn him into The Human Computer and take away any humanity from him. So maybe this last scene was Julian sort of playing a bit of Mr. Computer. I wonder whether the actor was trying to portray that he didn't quite forgive his parents yet, or whether it was more of a "I have to try to look normal in social situations but really I am a human calculator with a stony face in private." And the last scene may be him letting down his social face. I guess you'd have to ask Siddig himself about that one.
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