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William B
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 10:19am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S7: Prodigal Daughter

(I vaguely remember some hint that Mrs. Bilby was an addict of some kind, and that's why she went to extortion to get more of whatever she was on, but I can't remember for sure if that was actually there or just a headcanon of mine. More properly I doubt it's that Mrs. Bilby "loves money so much" as I said, but that she wanted something in particular with the money, probably as a way to fill the void after her husband's death.)
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William B
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 10:17am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S7: Prodigal Daughter

Oh, I think the episode is "about" the way the people and things we love can make us behave self-destructively -- O'Brien abandons his mission to find the widow because he cared for Bilby, Norvo abandons his potential life as an artist and murders a woman chasing some imagined idea of family respect or something, the mother loves the company so much she apparently drives her children away, Mrs. Bilby loves money so much she pushes her extortion racket until she is killed. The last one is that Ezri loves her brother so much that she can't help but spot his guilt, but this is an ambiguous case (in that it's ultimately good that she sees the truth, even if it hurts her). You can flip it and see it as a matter of loyalty in many cases: O'Brien's loyalty to Bilby, the Syndicate's loyalty to Mrs. Bilby, the sons' loyalty to their mother's company, Ezri's loyalty to her brother, etc., and how those are enduring and at times beyond normal ethics. I don't think it's very well done, though.
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William B
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 10:07am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S7: Prodigal Daughter

This ep is a sequel to Honor Among Thieves and inherits and builds on its discordant characterization and setting, and is not as well acted.
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William B
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 10:04am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S7: Prodigal Daughter

@Springy,

The O'Brien thing is really strange.

I think they could have gotten away with some ambiguity there at the end -- maybe Ezri or her mom saying, "I wish we had known how to help him before it came to this" or something. But yes it's totally ooky for everyone to jump on board that mother is responsible for Norvo being a murderer for...being somewhat bossy?

There's something off about the whole thing. I found it weird that Ezri's mother also jumps to immediately assuming that the other brother definitely did murder the woman to save the company and then won't believe him when he (truthfully) says he didn't. Why do Ezri's family, who are presumably Federation citizens, act like they're in a melodrama about a Depression-era coal mine with ties to the mob? (And what, if anything, does that tell us about Ezri?)
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William B
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 9:44am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S7: It's Only a Paper Moon

Last point: skimming through the episode list, there are a few edge cases in terms of the main cast involvement. Valiant is sort of a Nog-Jake story, but Nog has a much more active role (the Voice of Reason who gets thrown in the brig isn't that big a role); Once More Unto the Breach is more about Kor and Martok than Worf, though I think Worf is more central there than any of the regulars are in this one. Certainly there are episodes that give *as much* or even more attention to the non-regular as to the regular (e.g. The Die is Cast is about both Garak and Odo, not Odo with a side of Garak), it's just very rare for the regulars to be as decentred as this. Which is, again, formally interesting, more so than artistically interesting. I suspect it's easier to do these kinds of stories late in the series because the main cast are bound to be less protective of their status (partly because the show is ending so they aren't worried about losing their job, partly because, besides new arrival Nicole deBoer, they've been working hard for six and a half years and are probably exhausted) and there's less need to protect the show from cancellation for going too far off the promised "script" (of what or who gets the focus). Certainly Avery Brooks' centrality has wound down this season up to this point.
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William B
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 9:32am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S7: It's Only a Paper Moon

(Just to add, re: Afterimage, that Garak has trauma about feeling that he is betraying Cardassia is not at all a problem, but it's given resolution within the episode in a less-than-compelling way, IMO; it's perhaps unfair to say it's because the episode prioritizes Ezri's story over his, rather than it just being an honest misjudgment of how to balance the two main stories in that episode.)
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William B
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 9:29am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S7: It's Only a Paper Moon

It's also unusual that the episode focuses almost exclusively Nog and Vic, despite being recurring (non-regular) players. The main cast, especially Quark, have some key scenes but it's mostly a two-hander. This is fairly unique even within DS9 -- are there any previous episodes in which *none* of the regulars are all that central to the story? There are many episodes which focus heavily on recurring players (Dukat, Garak, Rom, Winn etc.) but usually it's in the context of a relationship with a main character (Kira or Sisko with Dukat or Winn, Bashir or Odo or various for Garak, Quark or O'Brien for Rom) or a full ensemble piece with both regulars and non-regulars playing big roles (as in the arc at the start of s6). This is easy to compare even to another episode this season: despite Garak being arguably a more central recurring player than Nog, Afterimage (again, arguably) plays Garak's trauma in a shallow way in order to sell the story of the just-introduced regular Ezri.
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William B
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 9:22am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S7: It's Only a Paper Moon

@Springy, Iceman:

I think some of what sets this apart from *some* of Springy's examples is that, formally, this episode is in response not to a piece of "character background" either part of the "character bible" (as with Seven's Borg past or B'Elanna's childhood) or introduced within the episode, in a way consistent with the character's bible (ala Lwaxana's daughter's death), but an event specifically from a previous episode. Those Seven and B'Elanna examples (as with Odo's isolation as a changeling etc.) are part of the foundational structures of the characters rather than responses to particular events within the narrative, so they feel a little different.

On the other hand, B'Elanna dealing with the Maquis deaths in Extreme Risk, or Picard dealing with BoBW or The Inner Light in Family/Lessons, are follow-ups to events in previous episodes which aren't as much part of the basic set-up of the character, and are more similar to Nog here.

This isn't me saying that this episode is automatically better than an episode about Seven dealing with her Borg past, or Lwaxana dealing with a trauma that happened before the series began and about which we only found out about during that ep. This episode is a good episode because it's a good episode, and that it's a follow-up to Nog's injury in a previous episode isn't essential for that. For another DS9 example, I love Hard Time and that's all about a trauma which was introduced totally ad hoc at the episode's opening for the purposes of that story. It's more just interesting to note structurally what sets this episode apart from many other "consequences" eps in Trek.

There weren't any episodes directly about Worf dealing with K'Ehleyr's death, but the whole Worf/Alexander story in TNG was related to it, and New Ground and Firstborn especially seem to pay attention to how K'Ehleyr's death looms over how Worf and Alexander see each other.
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William Brown
Sun, Feb 10, 2019, 10:46pm (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S1: Pria

I want to like this show soooooo much. But that little clip from "Friends" did me in.

There's just too much current pop culture in this show. It's ruining it for me.
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William B
Thu, Feb 7, 2019, 7:07pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Far Beyond the Stars

@Iceman -- I agree. I like how Pabst sees himself as above the fray and you're totally right that Pabst seems to think that his own boss who objects is also going too far, and sees himself as the reasonable neutral observer of his boss and Benny's conflict. He seems to like "O'Brien's" idea of making a dream because he likes the idea of resolving the conflict, rather like Odo got his start settling disputes among Bajorans before Dukat approached him. Implicit though is that neither side's deeply held beliefs are actually all that important, compared to stability, and only he is "wise enough" to see that.
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William B
Thu, Feb 7, 2019, 4:11pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: Bar Association

@Elliott, I go back and forth on this one, but I tend to concur with your overall assessment. It is mostly okay as a Quark & Rom story (see Robert's comment above), except for the bit when Rom seems fine with Brunt beating Quark up. It is a fair bit better than Family Business or Prophet Motive, as you allude to. The allegory is mostly confusing in practice ("confusing" is maybe generous). And the Worf stuff isn't thrilling but is (besides the inexplicable brawl) okay.
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William B
Thu, Feb 7, 2019, 1:18pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: You Are Cordially Invited

@Chrome, that's not impossible as an interpretation. SPOILERS up to Nemesis, end of DS9:

Even if he is entirely over Troi, also, it might still feel like there are unresolved issues between him and Will, given that Worf didn't make a move on Troi in part because he didn't want to hurt Riker. And also while Worf felt more kinship with Jadzia than he would have with Deanna, I could see him, after having lost Jadzia, wondering whether it would have been better to get together with Deanna and maybe he would have avoided some of that heartache. Who knows, maybe Jadzia would still be alive -- she went to that temple where Dukat killed her to pray for getting pregnant with Worf's child, after all. I wonder if some part of Worf would wonder, deep down, if she would be alive if not for him. However -- this is speculation, and to be honest I don't really think that sounds like Worf, to me.

But I think it's also just that Nemesis wanted to do a "Worf drank too much Romulan ale" joke because it's funny (in theory) for super-strong bear Worf to be taken down by booze. That it's specifically Romulan ale is meant to tie into the Romulan threat. In fact if we want to give the movie credit (which I don't recommend), I think it's more about that Worf is finally letting himself open to Romulans -- and of course it violently disagrees with him, because he's hated Romulans his whole life. But by the end of the movie, we get the exchange:

WORF: The Romulans fought with honour.
RIKER: Yes they did, Mr. Worf.

So Worf's longstanding hatred of Romulans *as such* has finally dissipated and he can judge them individually, even though the notion hurts him (via the ale). End of character arc.

Because it's Nemesis, I mean, I'm not saying it's handled well or anything. But I think it's more about that than about Troi anyway, and even if it were about Troi, I don't think anyone on DS9 sabotaged Worf/Dax in order to, years later, make a joke about Worf getting sick from drinking because he's still pining for Troi.
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William B
Thu, Feb 7, 2019, 11:11am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: You Are Cordially Invited

@Chrome, while it's true that might prevent some extreme Worf developments, I don't think Worf/Troi was really a factor in the movies. Besides Worf giving tacit approval for Riker/Troi in Insurrection, which feels to me to be subtly nodding to that triangle, W/T was never really referenced in the movies. Really besides requiring that Worf stay in Starfleet - - and I could imagine even that being worked around - - I don't think there were that many constraints placed by needing to continue to be in the TNG movies.
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William B
Thu, Feb 7, 2019, 10:19am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: You Are Cordially Invited

Yeah, I'd say that by later in this season the two developed a rhythm that made more sense for them (think of the Change of Heart Runabout banter, or his pride at her winning at tongo), but the path to get there was very bumpy. Nor do I think the central character realizations that Peter mentions were really explicit; I think to an extent Dax was moving toward taking her life and others' feelings more seriously, and Worf was moving toward acknowledging that Being Klingon wasn't his top priority, but it feels like those elements never fully blossomed. You could say it was cut short by SPOILER but really they had all of s4-6 (since they were setting up the pairing from wotw, arguably) to work on it, and a lot of it should have been clear by YACI in order to justify the marriage not being a mistake.
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William B
Wed, Feb 6, 2019, 12:19pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: The Reckoning

@Springy,

There are a lot of things I don't like about this ep. One thing I think was a missed opportunity - - if they're going down this road anyway - - is to actually have Established Coward Jake react with some disappointment, fear or anger that his father was willing to sacrifice him like that. There's a suggestion that Sisko believed the prophets would protect Jake, but that's a big leap for the inscrutable and capricious wormhole aliens. Having Jake say "oh yeah, it was pure evil, I would die to kill that thing" is an easy out for Ben. It's not necessarily unbelievable that Jake would find that kind of courage, but I think for him to even go "I would have been willing to die, but you had no way to know that" would have been good.
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William B
Tue, Feb 5, 2019, 3:12pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: In the Pale Moonlight

I think Vulcan and Betazed would serve similar purposes -- both as longstanding Federation planets, and as symbols of Federation values (logic, openness) that are threatened by the Dominion (and which the increasingly panicked Sisko loses over the course of the ep).
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William B
Tue, Feb 5, 2019, 1:15pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: His Way

@Springy,

I agree about this ep. In general I think the show put a *lot* of effort over the years building up what Kira meant to Odo, romantically, but very little the other way.

I will say though that there are some eps coming up later that imo make a better use of the pairing, enough to justify the pairing for me, though not really how their getting together is executed. The songs are fun though.

Re the "female" changeling: while it's true Auberjonois and Salome Jens are closer in age, I get the impression that FC is supposed to be millenia old. While Odo was sent out centuries ago as a baby, he only really started being conscious in Mora's lab, which is around Kira's age, give or take. But comparing ages is hard anyway - - in changeling lifespan terms, and possibly in terms of moral complexity etc., Odo is very childlike.
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William B
Mon, Feb 4, 2019, 10:20pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: In the Pale Moonlight

@Springy,

"--Huh. Talk of having to "forget the whole enterprise." Or is that meant to be "Enterprise," with a capital E? Because I have a feeling we are going to be "forgetting the Enterprise.""

Ha! Great catch.

I also think the target of Betazed was maybe thematically important, because of its tie to TNG and to Deanna. Obviously it is a longstanding, well established world.... But it fits this ep. There's a certain...TNG sensibility associated with Deanna's presence on the bridge, the idea of emotional openness and peace. Betazed with its weddings in the nude and open minds and peace and ship's counsellors are now (thematically) off the table. Time for cloak and dagger, lies, murder and secret confessionals to an impersonal log, never to be seen.
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William B
Sun, Feb 3, 2019, 2:49pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Far Beyond the Stars

Totally random thought (sorry if someone above had mentioned it): it's interesting that Aron Eisenberg plays a paper carrier, which means that "Nog" is associated in a small way with journalism, Jake's chosen field, whereas "Jake" is doing badly. It makes me wonder if Sisko feels on some level that Nog has outdone his son, even in his son's own goals.
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William B
Sat, Feb 2, 2019, 2:28pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Far Beyond the Stars

@Springy, yes -- there's definitely a lot there, about the debunking of Odo's supposed neutrality, while still helping us to distinguish him from a more active malignant force like Dukat. And the comparison also helps us see the good in Dukat, too, because we should recognize that he also had a job that required more cruelty of him than Odo's job. It hardly mitigates, but it's also not that Dukat was born evil.

I think that some of the changelings vs. solids stuff is because solids can't change themselves much physically, and so have some self to hang onto, and are more adaptable to external changes. Changelings have no natural shape so need an orderly external world to have identity at all.

I never interacted with Nan Dibble, though I think I read some of her writing about Angel season 5 maybe? That's really interesting about her being a sf writer with a male pen name.
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William B
Sat, Feb 2, 2019, 9:06am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S6: Far Beyond the Stars

@Springy, while you're right about the Dukat analogues, I think Pabst is still much more Odo. Odo from Things Past (as Thrax), compared to the more evolved (but still evolving) present Odo:

THRAX: Truth? You want the truth? All right. The truth is that none of you would be accused, none of you would even be here if the Bajorans weren't fighting the Cardassians. It's futile. The occupation has lasted for fifty years and it will probably last another fifty.
ODO: I wouldn't be too sure about that.
THRAX: Why not accept it? If the Bajoran people would accept their place in history, none of this would be happening.
ODO: We're talking about the attempt on Gul Dukat's life, not the socio-political ramifications of the resistance.
THRAX: It's all part of the same problem. When your people resort to terrorism and violence, they're fighting against order, against stability, against the rule of law, and this must be stopped.
ODO: There is more to life than the rule of law.
THRAX: It has been my observation that only the guilty make that kind of statement.
ODO: I didn't want to tell you this. I don't know what the consequences will be, but we're not terrorists. We're not even Bajorans. There's been a temporal displacement of some kind. We don't belong in this time. We're from the future.
THRAX: I know.
ODO: You know? Then what are you going to do about it?
THRAX: What I am supposed to do, nothing more, nothing less.

When Pabst says it's not realistic for there to be a black space ship captain, there is racism there...but even more than that is a conviction that The Way Things Are is immutable and permanent. Pabst might believe that black people are as capable as white people, but it won't matter because white people will always be in charge, because they have the power now, and will never stop. I don't think Odo was truly racist against Bajorans when he believed that the Occupation would go on indefinitely, except insofar as he believed himself superior to all solids, but he could not imagine the power imbalance ever correcting itself and could not really understand why a person would waste their life wishing it were different. Pabst is white (like Thrax-Odo was Cardassian) so the way in which belief in The Rule Of Law (ie order) makes someone side with the more powerful is shown explicitly.

I like the way it distinguishes between an Odo-style approach during the Occupation to a Dukat-style approach. Pabst does what he believes he can, tries a little to make exceptions (like how Odo let Kira go for the sabotage she claimed to do in Necessary Evil), but when The Man comes down on him he sides with order. Dukat is a cop -- he has the power and he uses physical force (killing, beatings) to back it up. Both are "just doing their job," but Dukat's job is more violent and consequential and allows his sadism fuller expression.
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William B
Mon, Jan 28, 2019, 10:03am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Children of Time

@Springy:

I was thinking about this a bit. I think you are absolutely correct on the actual mechanics of what "would happen" -- i.e., because the Defiant crew has been informed about the colony, the timeline has already been changed, and so the colony will not be the same, the specific children born will be different, etc. However, I think this is just a place where we have to accept the premise of the episode, which is that if the crew do go back in time, they will create the colony. You can accept it or not accept it, but there you go.

If you accept that premise, then I think the rest falls into place. The reason that the colony is treated as "real" and their erasure from existence is treated as death is for the same reason that, for example, Picard has to try to save humanity in All Good Things. I mean, in fact, if Picard failed the Q's test there, humanity would cease to exist...but they certainly wouldn't feel their deaths. Or take any other example (the Enterprise-C in Yesterday's Enterprise, The City on the Edge of Forever etc.) where they have to prevent some change to the past which would result in the present no longer existing. In each case, the current people who will cease to exist won't feel pain, but that's hardly a comfort. They want to live and want to maintain their existence.

And really, I do think this is the same as death. OK, so they don't experience pain. But if someone is wiped out by an atomic bomb explosion, and are at the centre of it, they are unlikely to experience pain either. Something which is present is lost.

That's why Old Odo's actions are, I think, akin to murder. From the perspective of the current Defiant crew, it's more ambiguous. But in Old Odo's case, he's wiping away the actual people he lives with. He's killing thousands of people *he knows*, and lives with, to save Kira, against Kira's wishes. He's also wiping out the product of generations of people's lives for the same reason. So okay, they don't feel pain, etc., but again, how is that different from a particularly powerful bomb that wipes out not only a civilization but the traces thereof? That's all kinds of worrying.

If you don't accept the episode's premise as such -- that this civilization will still exist if the Defiant goes back in time -- then it's a different story, because then the colony will be wiped out (or, more accurately, a different colony will develop) even if the crew does go back in time, and so there's less point in prioritizing it. And this is also where the comparison falters with All Good Things or whatever. In All Good Things those other episodes, the idea is that there was an external pollution of the timeline that causes the end of civilization (whatever), whereas here the colony relies on the Defiant going back in time and actively maintaining it. But I don't know, I think it's an interesting and original idea, and I don't have problems accepting the episode's premise as such. The basic idea then is that there are people here who are in the present and thus already have existence, whose lives will be ended if the Defiant crew don't fulfill their existing role, and that is too much to weigh against the lives upended but not *ended* back on the station.
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William B
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 7:23pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Doctor Bashir, I Presume

@Springy,

Yes, Siddig was pretty frustrated that they were writing him as Data some of the time afterward, and it does show in some episodes (both that he's suddenly "emotionless" and Siddig's frustration). Some of it is just him rattling off calculations in an irritating way, which to me makes sense and isn't a problem -- Bashir goes overboard a bit because he's finally given a chance to "come out of the closet," so to speak. Some of it is actually that he's emotionless or robotic, and that doesn't work and is a weird choice, though I think there are possible ways to explain it in context (they sort of play with it in early season six a bit).
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William B
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 7:04pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Doctor Bashir, I Presume

I also think his attraction to Jadzia gains something else in light of the reveal, because surely she would understand what it means to lead "a double life." Jadzia Dax is someone else who started a "normal" person and then underwent a dramatic transformation, from the inside out, which makes her obviously exceptional. Unlike Bashir, though, she chose it, not (seemingly) because of any deficiencies in who Jadzia was (like Jules), but because she already had the drive to be joined in her. She is allowed to openly be a hybrid person, both the woman she was before joining and the symbiont, rather than Julian who had to both be ashamed of the boy who lagged behind and to hide the genetically-engineered genius he is now.
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William B
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 6:13pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: Doctor Bashir, I Presume

@Springy,

I do think there was some talk from the writers about this not having been planned for long. Certainly Siddig didn't know (and was, understandably, annoyed about it).

But even if full retcon...I basically think it makes (almost) perfect sense. Probably there are some things here and there that don't fit together. But I think overall it really works for the character. I sort of hinted at it a bit when talking about Distant Voices, because even there it sort of...feels incomplete, like there's something Bashir is still managing to hide, even from the Lethean (or, that the Lethean's "secrets" aren't actually the real secret which is haunting him).

I think, also, Bashir's hanging his whole sense of worth on his achievement, while also trying to appear that he doesn't value it, at other times...it just fits for me. Bashir's also declaring that "Jules Bashir died" a long time ago, and the sense that he's lost some innocence, that who he was before the genetic advancement wasn't worth it, is part of why he's drawn to O'Brien, because he really is an everyman who is also smart, talented and useful.

When I think of the people Bashir is most drawn to, I think of O'Brien -- everyman, person with a functional family, someone who immediately fits in everywhere, with a strong moral centre; of Dax -- genius, fun-loving, (compared to Julian) fully secure in herself and her exceptionality, with a keen mind and openness to adventure; and of Garak -- deceitful, pragmatic, holding secret after secret, lots of shame. They all reflect back elements of who Bashir is, or wishes he were, or is afraid he is. And that Bashir is drawn to people who remind him of himself or who he isn't or (etc.) so much reads to me like there's something incomplete and broken in him, that he's (unconsciously) trying to fix, that he's trying to find models of how to be himself functionally.

You also asked, I think, why Bashir was willing to give Garak so much of a pass on his crimes, back in The Wire, and I think it's partly because of Bashir's own secrets -- not that Bashir's are as bad, but that he partly wanted someone to regard his can-never-reveal-under-penalty-of-losing-everything secrets and pain with compassion. Which is, probably, part of why he's a doctor in the first place. His teddy bear was his first patient; where Jules get the idea his teddy bear was broken?
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