Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

“Life Support”

2.5 stars.

Air date: 1/30/1995
Teleplay by Ronald D. Moore
Story by Christian Ford and Roger Soffer
Directed by Reza Badiyi

"If I remove his brain and replace it with a machine, he might look like Bareil, he might even talk like Bareil, but he won't be Bareil. The spark of life would be gone. He'd be dead. And I will have killed him." — Bashir

Review Text

Though most will simply remember this as the episode in which the writers kill off Vedek Bareil, there's more to look at. What could have been a maudlin melodrama is instead a sincere story about one man's sacrifice and Bashir's moral dilemma to keep him artificially alive. The reasons, however, behind Bareil's deletion from the recurring character list is a ponderous issue.

When Bareil and Kai Winn make an unannounced shuttle trip to DS9 to finalize a peace treaty with the Cardassians, an accident seriously injures Bareil, who dies on the operating table. Fortunately (i.e., medical technobabble), some residual radiation manages to preserve him long enough for Bashir to perform a miracle and bring him back.

It is not, however, that simple. Bareil has suffered permanent damage due to the radiation, and Bashir wants to put him in indefinite stasis in hope of a cure that could be years down the road. Bareil feels compelled to be sure the negotiations go through as planned, and Winn says she can not finish the talks without him. Bareil demands another option from Bashir, who reluctantly offers an experimental drug as a dangerous alternative. The drug has been known to cause chemical poisoning of the brain and other vital organs, but it may be able to keep Bareil healthy enough—and alive long enough—to finish the negotiations. Bareil presses on, enduring an increasing amount of pain with each succeeding scene, as the drug slowly destroys his body.

It's the classic example of the man willing to die for his cause. The noble Bareil is completely aware that going through with the treatments will likely kill him but accepts it as the price to pay for peace with the Cardassians.

But "Life Support" also works on the level involving Bashir's dilemma. He has to perform these experimental medical procedures at Bareil's request. The drug takes its toll on Bareil, and his major organs begin to break down, forcing Bashir to replace them with artificial implants. This leads him to appeal a plea to Winn, hoping she will take over the talks and allow Bareil to rest with a chance of surviving.

It's the best vehicle this season for Bashir as a doctor; we get to see him in action playing for a single motive—his patient's welfare. The episode sports his first outing doing real operating room surgery. Plenty of effective interaction with Winn and Kira, the interested parties in Bareil's condition, gives the episode ample substance.

He has to break news to Kira that her lover's chances of survival are slim to none. Meanwhile, he has to keep his patience with Winn, who remains adamant that Bareil is the only one who can keep the peace process moving forward, and must continue with the treatments at all costs.

This again brings up the question of Winn's competence as Bajor's leader. In a rather thought-provoking scene, Bashir confronts Winn and tells her what he thinks of her unwillingness to stand alone. He calls her a coward. He believes she uses Bareil as a political shield, someone to take the blame should the talks fail. It's a good point, given Winn's questionable past ("In the Hands of the Prophets"). Even though Winn has been softened into a more sincere character of late, it's nice to know the writers still acknowledge her past and obvious flaws.

Eventually, Bareil suffers permanent brain damage, and Bashir reluctantly replaces part of his brain with positronic implants so the treaty can be finalized. An eerie scene displays a detached Bareil who, with part of his mind replaced with a machine, loses much of his grasp on reality and emotion, speaking in a slow, confused monotone.

The peace treaty is successfully signed, thanks to his assistance, but Bareil is a lost cause—Bashir expects total brain failure within hours. This leads to another interesting speech Bashir makes. When Kira hopes that replacing the rest of his brain may save him, Bashir tells her that he would simply be a machine without a spark of life. "He'd be dead. And I will have killed him." (One could even argue that this is an allegorical anti-euthanasia moment.) Bareil dies, but with some dignity. It almost makes up for the ridiculous moments of his character's appearance in "Fascination."

However, there are a few problems I have with "Life Support." Though it's an important event and I have faith that the writers will utilize it properly in the future, I question how the episode brings about peace with Cardassia completely out of nowhere. I also want to know the writers' impetus behind killing off Bareil in the first place. It makes sense standing alone in this episode, but why in the world would they delete a character so important to this story arc—a very significant if not the central arc of the series—just to fill the requirements of one episode?

I sure hope that Bareil's death isn't simply the writers' way to remove Kira's love interest from the show so she can explore a relationship with Odo. That would be unforgivable. Whether people realize it or not, Bareil meant more and could've continued to mean more to the series than to be Kira's boyfriend.

Previous episode: Past Tense, Part II
Next episode: Heart of Stone

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Comment Section

94 comments on this post

    I didn't like this episode a bit. First of all, there was simply too much of the same: revival-organ replacement-brain replacement ... at a certain point all of this really ceased to have any credibility with me. Second, I think that the motive and urgency behind the decisions to waste Bareil`s life came off as quite forced.
    In the end, I think it was a necessary thing to remove Bareil from the show simply because the actor proved to be just too weak in that role.

    There's also a B plot in this episode, in which Nog ruins a date of Jake's (Strangely Jammer does not mention it at all).

    In any case, the levity and comedic nature of this B plot makes the choice of the writers to pair it with the very serious A plot seem poor, if not puzzling.

    The B-plot made me laugh, but I actually thought it was a bit odd how Jake continues to be friends with such a huge sexist prick- I certainly wouldn't. How come the Ferengi never LEARN anything?

    While I agree Bariel was not exactly a great actor I did enjoy this episode and thought it was a good end for him.

    And why the hell is Kai Winn negotiating with the Cardassians? I thought she was Bajor's RELIGIOUS leader, not their POLITICAL leader (this would later be confirmed in "Shakaar.")

    The writers have stated that the story's original pitch was Bashir's medical dilemma, and they needed a character to die. They chose a recurring character rather than a new character so that the audience would feel sympathy for him, and they were not happy with the way the Kira-Bareil relationship was heading so they chose him to be the victim. I agree that it seems forced (as Kai Opaka's disapparance did in "Battle Lines.") but I guess in the end it served its purpose.

    About the B-plot: this was another example of The Future being tolerant of differences. IDIC. Nog was not a sexist prick; he was being a Ferengi. He's also still a teenager without a lot of life experience.

    It's obvious Quark has come a long way from wanting females to shut up and be nude all the time, for example, but Quark has been around the galaxy a few times, so to speak. :) Nog is still a product of his culture at 17 (or whatever is his Ferengi equivalent in years).

    It's a tribute to Nog's character's potential that his friendship with Jake hasn't had friction *until* this point. Remember that he honestly thinks Jake is 'faking' the respect, and believes that is simply dishonest of Jake to do.

    Knowing where Nog is headed soon, I am sure he will be exposed to women he can date who will be clothed, have opinions, and be his equals.

    IDIC is one of the things that really stands out in the Trek Verse, and is something that keeps me coming back for more. When we meet other sentient species in real life, we will do good to remember these points. :)

    Best Nog line ever:

    "Money is money, but women...are better"

    You're right Nic.

    It happened again in Rapture...Winn was negotiating with the Federation for admission...surely something Shakaar should have been doing instead.

    I liked this episode because it shows how far Winn is willing to go. Also some nice scenes with Kira and the nearly death Bareil in the end.

    I think this one works fairly well for the most part.

    A shame the B story was such an awkward fit.

    And I'm not sure your faith in the writers' intent to back up the Bajoran/Cardassian Peace Treaty plot element was well founded in the end Jammer.

    So, Data is NOT a person with rights since he is all positronic? So much for TNG's Measure Of A Man...

    I certainly wasn't sad to see Bareil go, but unfortunately, in the words of MST3K, "Yeah, he's dead. But don't worry, they have a spare."

    Yeah, the problem with this episode is that it could have been so much more. Imagine a mid-season arc of 3-4 episodes, or even a season cliff-hanger. That is fine the producers didn't like where the relationship was going, they were right, but man, peace with the cardassians, Bariel hanging on by a thread. This could have easily fit at the end of the season in an extended arc to set up a cool cliffhanger.

    I have to agree that "Life Support" was poorly executed. It's reminiscent of Season 2 episodes, where the A and B plots don't intertwine well.

    All of the events in "Life Support" had potential to be much more powerful. Yet, the lack of direction made it seem as if the writers were trying to do too much in a span of 45 minutes, and ultimately, they failed to accomplish most of their goals.

    #1. The Cardassian and Bajoran peace treaty negotiations should have been a HUGE storyline, and at the very least, treated as if it were a standalone episode with no B-plot. Sh!t, it's one of the major DS9 story arcs thus far.

    If budget were a concern, it could have been a dialogue-heavy, bottle episode. Yet, somehow, this historical event becomes overshadowed.

    #2. Per Memory Alpha, the writers thought Vedek Bareil was a "weak" character who they wanted to kill off since they were unsure about how to use him going forward. That's fine. But this storyline should have been STANDALONE.

    There are too many moving facets to squeeze into a 45 minute period, let alone squeezing it in with the peace treaty:

    - Bareil's romantic relationship with Kira
    - Bareil's political relationship with Kai Winn
    - Bareil's religious relationship with the Bajoran people as its spiritual leader

    #3. Did the writers want to make a commentary piece about how human life shouldn't be supported solely by artificial technology? If so, that in itself is a STANDALONE story, separate from the treaty negotiations.

    Also, "Ian" made a good point above. This episode essentially negates the validity of Data's existence in "The Measure of a Man."

    #4. An alive (but robotic) Bareil would have been a decent way of handling his character going forward -- even if he were to be killed off later on. Heck, have him killed moments before the peace treaty is signed (which would have destroyed the treaty altogether).

    This "double-edged" ending would have had significant emotional Kira AND the viewer. Bariel's death would have been tough on Kira, but simultaneously, she would have been glad to hear that the treaty didn't pan out (further emphasizing her hatred for the Cardassians).

    I know the writers were having a somewhat challenging time transitioning from episodic writing to serialized writing. But there's no reason why the aforementioned story-arc events could have been all used on a standalone basis, and instead, we're left with the discombobulated mashup that is "Life Support."

    My rating: 2 out of 4 stars

    I disagree that this episode detracts from Measure of a Man at all.

    If Bareil's brain had been completely replaced by positronic matrices, Bareil would be dead. His body would be home to a new being, but it would no longer be Bareil. Without the man himself explicitly choosing such a future, I don't know how any doctor could ethically perform the procedure.

    Additionally, no one has been able to recreate Dr. Soong's work. Even Data ultimately failed with Lal. It is unlikely that an artificially prolonged Bareil with his brain fully replaced by positronic matrices would be any more sentient (or any more 'human') than a sophisticated computer.

    I kind of liked Bareil as a character. It was a decent way to let him die.

    The major thing that disappoints me here is that Bareil wasn't needed at all during negotiations. Sure, Kai Winn claimed she needed him, but if she simply had a friggin' spine, she could have done all the negotiations herself. Bareil didn't have an exclusive relationship with the Cardassians, and if Winn had had the gumption she showed later in DS9, everything would have been fine without Bareil.

    Interesting episode.

    I'll agree with Nic, why is Bareil/Winn negotiating? Shouldn't they be in church?

    I'm not sure I agree with Bashir's "treatment" here. Just because there is an experimental drug, doesn't mean he needs to prescribe it when a safer option is readily available. I don't care what the patient wants. Bereil can reject going into stasis, but Bashir should have not given him this harmful drug.

    Doctors can "do no harm". This drug definitely did that and Bashir knew it would.

    I don't see this relating to Measure of a Man at all.

    I liked the "B" story with Nog and Jake.

    "NOG: At least I didn't have her chew." ... lol

    "JAKE: Great. So we both disgust each other. You know, as we get older, this is just going to get worse. But I know one thing. I don't want to lose you as a friend."

    Good for them. IDIC aye.

    2.5 stars... average at best.

    This is the first episode that I liked Kira, I hated her for all of the first 2 seasons and almost all of season 3. Bereil was a weak character but the actor is a really good one. I always loved to hate Kai Winn, she was such a hateful woman but she was so also vulnerabe. She wanted power, but not able to pay the price it took to have it.

    Vedek Bareil a weak character played by a poor actor? Nuts! Bareil has quiet inner moral strength and acts on principle and out of pure motivation, sacrificing his own career for the greater good as he sees it. Gene would have been proud of this character had he lived to see him.He is far closer to Gene's vision of a benign future than the cartoonish action men, the typical two-dimensional federation officers spawned by the much vaunted academy.He has moral layers that satisfy.
    Anglim plays him with an admirable understated dignity that is never brash and in your face. I love all Star Trek but killing off Bareil in this episode and Kes in Voyager has been unforgivable. It shows writers unwilling to take a risk and develop characters that are outside the square. PITY!

    This episode has always bothered me. Primarily what Comp625 said so well, so I won't repeat that.

    I really didn't like Bashir in this episode. He came off as way too preachy and arrogant. As Yanks says above, I do agree that he should have just refused to give the drug. In modern society doctors generally have the right to refuse treatment on moral/ethical grounds, as long as they provide an alternate physician.

    It should always be the right of the patient to determine their own treatment and even if they live/die (assuming they are of sound mind). This, to me, is an inalienable freedom worth dying for. This episode dropped the ball though, with both sides of the question.

    I really disliked this episode when it first aired. I think I caught on quickly that they were killing off Bareil (probably to open up the way for a Kira/Odo relationship), and I wasn't happy about it. I wasn't a big fan of Bareil, but I did like the character, and I enjoyed the fact that Kira had an actual relationship (a rarity on Star Trek at the time). The repetitive nature of the episode (questionable medical procedure, negotiations, questionable medical procedure...) didn't hold my interest when I had already figured out where they were going and I was unhappy with the destination.

    Re-watching it now, it's...OK, I suppose. I'm less attached to Bareil now, and the drama works somewhat better now that I've accepted where it's going. The whole treaty negotiations really got short thrift, though. Why were the Cardassians offering to pay any sort of reparations to the Bajorans? It seems like they were trying to claim the station as their property (and perhaps the wormhole) with their negotiating tactics. Absent that, I don't see why they'd pay anything. It's not like they're worried about the Bajorans attacking them at this point in time.

    As to the B plot, I'll echo what I wrote for (I think) a season 1 episode. Back when I was close to Jake's age, I felt embarrassed for him in situations like this. Now that I'm older, I laugh.

    So, so, so sick of the "negotiator who cannot be replaced" cliche. It's one of those premises I can't remember ever seeing outside of Trek but occurs routinely within it, especially TNG. Enough with this stupid idea.

    @SonofMog - You totally missed the point of this episode. Winn could have completed the negotiations without him but elected not to so that she'd have a fall guy if she failed.

    If anything this is sort of an inversion on that cliche. Bashir even openly calls her out on it.

    Life Support:

    Defining the B-plot as the Jake/Nog story and the A-plot as, uh, the rest, the A-plot is a medical ethics story, the reveal of a quadrant-shaking new treaty, and the death of a major recurring character and the significant other as a main character. Of the three, the medical ethics story gets the most focus and is the most successful, though even that feels perfunctory. Memory Alpha confirms that the original idea for this episode's A plot was the medical ethics plot, and only in the development stage was this idea grafted onto Bareil and the Bajoran/Cardassian treaty. This is unsurprising, because despite the ostensible centrality of Bajor to the series, the death of one of the most prominent Bajoran characters and the quadrant-shattering secret peace treaty with the Cardassians pass with less of a sense of the deeply personal than the difficult personal losses of diplomats in various TNG episodes. The list of TNG episodes which come down to "diplomat makes great personal sacrifice for the possibility of peace of cultures-of-the-week" is surprisingly long, varying in quality from "Darmok" and "Sarek" on one end to "Too Short a Season" on the other, and containing episodes centred around one-episode mostly-tragic romances as diverse in theme and content as "Loud as a Whisper," "The Host," and "The Perfect Mate," and that's off the top of my head. The problems I have with this episode come much more clearly into focus when I realize that I had a much stronger sense of what it meant to Troi, Crusher and Picard (respectively) to see the struggles and transformation of their *one-episode romantic interest* than I do about Kira's feelings about a supporting character she's been dating for a season and who has been a recurring player for two years. Bareil's transformation into a robot, somehow unable to feel or convey emotion, is as good an image as any to convey the lifelessness of this episode as a show about Bareil or Kira. And the Bajoran/Cardassian peace talks are given about as much weight, or less, than the negotiations in some random diplomacy episode like "The Vengeance Factor."

    The existence of a formal peace treaty between Bajor and Cardassia is maybe not something that would be all that riveting to see on screen, I'll grant. Even so, here is what we are basically told: Winn and Bareil, *in secret*, formally negotiate a peace treaty with the Cardassians, and what little we learn suggests that the formalization of PEACE carries with it maybe the chance at an apology from the Cardassians but the return of Bajorans in "processing" or Bajoran Orbs is not guaranteed, let alone the possibility of prosecutions of war criminals ala the late Gul Darhe'el (or, more to the point, Dukat). I know the Provisional Government is considered something of a joke some of the time, but that the Kai as Bajoran religious leader has the authority to do the negotiations in secret by herself for a treaty with the Bajorans' very recent oppressors, only three years after the end of their occupation, either reveals no understanding of how governments work or essentially confirms that Bajor is an entrenched, frightening theocracy, to the point where it's hard to understand why Jarro bothered with his coup of the Bajoran Provisional Government when presumably all they had to do was wait and hope Winn was elected kai. That conservative hardliner Winn pushes for this treaty seems to run counter to the careful way she manipulates public hatred of Cardassians and any Cardassian collaborators to bring herself into power -- can she ensure that her base continues to support her when joining with the Cardassians? I do appreciate that this episode made some attempts to soften Winn's character, at least insofar as Bareil says she is sympathetic and her goals of peace seem genuine-ish, but Winn's inability to do her own research (or engage some not-dying person to read the previous treaties) is frustrating; what little we see of the negotiations makes Winn look slow-witted and rhetorically weak, which are not really the flaws that I normally associate with her. The consequences to this vague, ill-defined treaty are reduced to a log from Sisko. Worst of all, Kira doesn't even express an opinion about it. Whether she is angry at any possible concession to the Cardassians, thrilled at the public acknowledgment by the Cardassians of their wrongdoing, ambivalent because she wants peace but still has her battle scars, hopeful that this brings on a new era for Cardassia better to people like Legate Ghemour, is a step in the wrong direction, quasi-legitimizing the current Cardassian administration as Friends Of Bajor while war criminals still fill the Central Command -- Kira is bound to have STRONG OPINIONS, and should want to tell us what they are.

    The story of how Bareil's death impacts Kira and Bareil himself personally is also very lightly sketched in. Part of the problem here, of course, is that the big emotional impact of this episode is rather blunted when Philip Anglim's performance of Bareil-as-robot is nearly indistinguishable from his normal performances of the character. Even so, Kira and Bareil only having a brief exchange about springball before he has parts of his brain replaced with machines; Kira talks briefly with Bashir by saying that she's throwing herself into her duty, and perhaps that may explain why we don't hear any of her strongyl felt opinions on the peace treaty, either. Still, Kira is largely on the sidelines when she should be the/a central figure, as the person who survives Bareil who cares most about him. The "touching" Kira/Bareil farewell scene is reserved for the episode's very end, where Kira gets off a few sentences while the camera pulls away and the closing credits begin, which rather feels as if the episode faded out in the middle of holo-Tasha's opening lines in "Skin of Evil." Kira's explanation of why she loved Bareil as basically the *closing* moment of the episode where he dies feels something like a desperate attempt to check some box that Kira's feelings for the guy were real right before shipping him off, as if racing against the clock for the episode's end to squeeze in a reminder that this is a guy Kira's supposed to love. Kira's end monologue, too, mentions her discovery that Bareil is just as confused as the rest of them, which only *kind of* is represented in-series in "The Collaborator," by Bareil's uncertainty (in Orb visions) of what to do, but otherwise Bareil's serenity has been mostly maintained as a character trait, without the confusion Kira talks about. For what it's worth, I'm not very broken up about Bareil's death or the end of the Kira/Bareil romantic subplot, which led to some decent internal conflict for Kira in "The Collaborator" but has otherwise been badly mishandled pretty much throughout.

    Bareil does have a decent enough scene when he assures Bashir that he has no wish to die, but for the most part it's Bashir who becomes more and more animated and passionate as the episode goes on, which is mostly appreciated. Still...Bashir's unilateral opposition to further mechanizing Bareil's brain does involve a just-so statement about where the line between man and machine is, one which is never really justified, discussed, or complicated. The episode's dramatic structure is thus pretty flat: Bashir argues against all the measures used to keep Bareil alert in the short-term, but basically concedes to all of them because of Bareil's wishes, and then the negotiations end and Bareil loses consciousness, at which Bashir finally "stands up" for his beliefs when the patient is no longer awake to disagree with him and Winn is no longer breathing down his neck about the greater good. Notable too is that the final stuff -- MAN WAS NOT MEANT TO BECOME A MACHINE! -- is a significantly different moral dilemma than the initial question of whether risky short-term drugs are preferable to the safer long-term course of stasis and careful study. For what it's worth, I am on board with Bareil's right to decide what courses of action to take with his body in this situation, and support Kira's supporting Bareil's decision; it may be that I don't really disagree with most of the decisions taken in the episode as a result, it's just that it lacks the complexity and spark and pop it needs as a medical story to be intellectually engaging, which is all the more damaging since it falls flat emotionally.

    An interesting aside: Bareil and Winn keep talking about the Will of the Prophets. My girlfriend pointed out that at some point Bashir should have told Bareil to seek spiritual guidance from another Vedek, someone who was NOT Winn and who was not invested in these peace talks per se, and who could help give him religious guidance that Bashir is obviously unqualified for. This would maybe have worked; I guess more to the point, this Will of the Prophets stuff is particularly annoying whenever Winn or Bareil use it, insisting as they do that the Prophets obviously want Bareil to continue on drugs and be mechanized in order to get this treaty through, when, heck, why not claim that the Prophets trashed the shuttle and put Bareil near death to sabotage the talks? It is an interesting irony that Winn and Bareil's *religious* convictions bring them into using *more* drugs, risky procedures, and technological organ replacements, when the more common experience today is to have people refusing treatments or transfusions for religious reasons (i.e. Jehovah's Witnesses). This element is not explored.

    The Jake/Nog subplot is okay. Maybe I should have talked about this in "Heart of Stone" write-up, but the placement of this episode where we reveal Nog to be a chauvinist treating all women (not just Ferengi women) disrespectfully immediately before the one where he declares his desire to join Starfleet Academy is a weird one. And I do think that there is something weird in the way the episode and Sisko sort of try to present the Jake/Nog conflict as some kind of general Culture Clash where it's unclear who is right and who is wrong, like they want to schedule a trip on different days because they have different Sabbaths or something. And, you know, there is no real ambiguity that Jake was treating the two girls on the double-date appropriately according not just to human values but according to those girls' values as well, and that even aside from the moral implications Nog is clearly deluded if he fails to see that it was *Nog's* behaviour that sent the women away in a huff (to say nothing of Nog inviting himself to the double date). It is also interesting to see that Nog takes a more hardline stance on "females" than Quark does -- Quark is often way too forward, but likes women who talk to him and only barely seems to buy into that weird Ferengi ethic (ala "Fascination"). Still, if Nog is going to hold onto some of the more anti-humanistic, anti-equality Ferengi values, I'd much prefer the show acknowledge that this is going to have a negative impact on his friendship with Jake and to put Jake in the position of choosing what unpleasant values he will tolerate and what he won't.

    The Bareil plot is not totally horrible, but it's sapped of most of the emotion and there is not all that much space given to any "debate," so that the Bashir/Winn argument more or less continues unchanging for the whole running time. I have problems with the Jake/Nog subplot but overall I'm fairly okay with it. I think 1.5 stars for the whole package.

    IDIC? I find it really hard to stomach that this is what Star Trek came to. This moral relativism which says that we have to accept and embrace Ferengi sexed slavery because it's their culture is ridiculous. Culture makes it more easy to understand, and may be a mitigating factor when we judge the morality of a given individual, but it does not make a wrong act right.

    Ferengi culture enslaves, disrespects, prejudices, humiliates, etc a group of sentient, sapient, intelligent beings. If its "ok" because its their culture, then so was slavery in the long space of human history (and if someone claims its their culture, its "ok" now). And so must be female genital mutilation, human trafficking, infanticide for sexual selection, etc etc.
    Nobody is saying this has to go to all out war, either. To understand Nog and the Ferengi, and to approach them with kindness as well as that understanding while firmly standing your moral ground is one thing, to say "well, that's their business" and not even oppose it in principle is completely another.

    Kirk used to stand for things. He wasn't a warmonger, he wasn't intolerant, but he stood for things. At times he may have been overly violent, but this blithe "live and let live" stance that pops up in some of the later treks is difficult to stomach when it becomes "live and let enslave" without even a murmur of disapproval.

    @ Ian and comp625: You are both wrong. In TNG it is made clear that datas positronic brain is unique and that nobody could recreate it. So, whatever Bashir could have used would have been far less complex than data. In the context of the story it probably meant turning Bareil into a computer.

    Everything in this episode seems just a little overblown to me. Bareil's self sacrifice, Winn's machinations, Kira's desire to keep Bareil functioning, Bashir's devotion to his patient - it just seems like the volume has been turned up 20% above normal and it leaves the episode feeling a little overwrought.

    The B-story is eminently forgettable and dovetails poorly with the more serious tone of the main story. 2 stars.

    This episode would've been much better if Bareil had to go through with the positronic brain implant procedure from the beginning and Kira had to adjust to him being a robot. They could've kept Bareil around and maybe the Cardassians kidnap him and turn him against the Bajorans. This episode seemed like a missed opportunity on all fronts.

    This episode seems to take what should be big events in the overall story of DS9 and make them not matter. Is the treaty between Bajorans and Cardassians ever followed up on? Does anything change after the treaty is signed? What about the consequences of Bareil's death on the Bajorans? If these were aliens of the week, this episode would have worked much better, but this stuff is what the series is supposed to be about. How can these events not matter in the grand scheme of things?

    It's taken me some time to decide on how I ultimately feel about "Life Support". The biggest, most obvious, problem is that the A and B plots simply do not work together. At all. AT ALL! But, taken on their own, I actually really like both of them. Jamming them together, however, was about the worst idea imaginable. It's like the writers thought "hmm, our story about self-sacrifice, international peace, political machiavellianism and the death of an important recurring character is running a little short on screen-time; I know, let's have Jake and Nog go on a double date; GENIUS!". Let's attempt to look at each plot separately and try to ignore the fact that they share the same episode, shall we.

    While I am a little off-put by Bashir essentially deciding on his own to let Bareil die instead of replacing the rest of brain with the implants, I love the fact that he (Bashir) is determined not to damage Bareil's "spark of life." Let's call a spade a spade here - Bashir doesn't want to injure Bareil's soul. If he replaces the rest of the brain with a machine then Bareil will still look the same and talk the same, but his soul will be gone. That's a rather stunning thing for Trek, and especially a Trek doctor character, to claim. The closest Trek has come to even dealing with something like this was in TNG: "The Schizoid Man", when the guest character transferred his consciousness into Data. And then the whole point of the story was that "Man is not meant to be immortal." My hat goes off to them for putting this into the A-plot, along with all the other commendable things Jammer points out.

    As for the B-plot, I actually probably like it even more! And that's because of one simple reason - it's honest! In today's society it is considered absolutely, 100% out-of-bounds to say what you really think about another culture, especially if you don't agree with or even like said culture. Political correctness has run so far amuck that it really damages us in how we relate to others from different cultures. But here, both Jake and Nog openly and proudly tell each other how downright disgusted they are with the other's culture. Jake is appalled at how Nog treats his date (and rightly so, I might add - Ferengi treatment of women should be called out for what it is, revolting). Nog even says that there are many Human customs he takes issue with. It's actually kind of refreshing to see such a thing - two people being open and honest with each other about the troubling aspects of their respective societies and yet still remaining friends. And isn't that what true tolerance and understanding is? They're genuinely tolerating each other instead of just papering over the massive pink elephants in the room.

    As for whether or not it was a good idea to kill of Bareil, I think it was. Isn't the main complaint a lot of people make about Dukat in the later seasons that he should have been killed off instead of going in the direction he went? Let me make one thing clear - I like what they did with Dukat in the late seasons. But, where was Bareil going to go from this point on? Relegated to being little more than Kira's boyfriend? Little more than Kai Winn's aide? Chasing skirts like in "Fascination." Best to let the character die with some dignity.

    It really is a shame that these two stories got forced together for whatever reason. Taken on their own they each could have delivered a classic Trek episode. *sigh* If only.


    @Luke - Insightful comments on both sides of the coin. Especially the B-Side. Some people mix up tolerance and acceptance, but they are not the same thing and the Nog/Jake friendship is a beautiful example of true tolerance.

    @Luke, well said as always.

    Does anyone else think it's funny that, when Bareil is lobotomized, that he's even *more* robotic and calm than before? I thought it was cruelly humorous.

    Bashir was fantastic throughout. Winn is so deliciously wicked. Just great stuff.

    Hello Hello Everyone!

    I really liked Vedek Bareil in the earlier episodes he was in. He had a sort of quiet strength, and he always seemed to know more than he let on. I think he could have continued to be an occasional counterpoint to Kai Winn, or the Cardassians, in the future. The person you went to see when you wanted to know what was Really going on...

    But something happened to his character during "The Collaborator". He no longer acted (the actor or the person he played) like he was strong. I know you can only work with the script you are given, but something seemed lacking in his performance in that one that rather disturbed me, especially since I was happy to see him in it (we will forget "Fascination" because he was supposed to be drugged, and everyone was a bit over-the-top there). It's almost as if, when he was no longer in the running for Kai, or working against Winn's machinations, he just wasn't that interesting any more. Now, he was just Kira's boyfriend, and it just seemed to be coming out in the performance (at least to me).

    I was sorry to see him go though, as I thought the potential was still there to continue as an interesting character....

    Enjoy the Day... RT

    I hated the subplot where Jake and his dad decide that it's okay to ignore that Ferengis degrade their women and treat them like if it's okay to overlook human(oid) rights in the name of cultural acceptance.
    It just demonstrates how unevolved we are as a society. Imagine that instead of treating women like this, the Ferengi treated another race like this. Would it be acceptable for Jake to overlook Nog keeping slaves? Of course not, nor would it be laughed off as the comic relief part of this episode of Deep Space Nine.

    It was hard to buy into Kira's histrionics at the last act when they finally let Bareil go, because when he first "died" in the first act, she took it rather well. And "Bareil" had already died before that last scene.

    This is the first time I've watched this episode. It was one that I skipped when watching DS9 for the very time a couple years back. I made it right up to the scene where Jake and Nog go on that disastrous double date with Jake's crush, and turned it off in disgust. I did try to watch a bit more, but the Winn/Bareil storyline just wasn't interesting enough to draw me in or make me care, and when Sisko actually started preaching to Jake about cultural tolerance therefore excusing Nog's absolutely horrible, misogynist behaviour, that was the last straw. Ascii was right that there's a limit to how far IDIC can go: 'Culture makes it more easy to understand, and may be a mitigating factor when we judge the morality of a given individual, but it does not make a wrong act right.'

    Nog's inviting himself along to Jake's night out with a girl he (Jake) had presumably fancied for ages, coercing Jake into arranging a date for him as well, and then treating the girls like dirt - it's ludicrous that this is the guy whom the DS9 writers slated for more character growth than most of the Voyager crew. Frankly, this episode, along with Nog's stubborn denial and desire for acceptance in Valiant that very nearly got him and Jake killed, makes me wonder why Jake even bothered with staying friends with him at all. Is Jake really that desperate for friends?

    A friendship should be on an equal footing, but it looks like Nog kept imposing his own worldviews and ideas on Jake, yet baulks when Jake tries to do the same. In other words Jake is the one doing most of the compromising. Not a healthy friendship at all, and certainly not something I'd expect to exist in Trekverse. It would have made for a much more wholesome viewing experience if the writers had Jake confront Nog seriously on how his Ferengi beliefs were irreconcilable with Jake's Federation (correct) sensibilities, and that the line has to be drawn there and no further.

    Not a well conceived episode overall although it does show Bashir facing the medical dilemma and coming across as an honorable doctor doing the right thing. Some good dialogue between Bashir and Kai - challenging each other. Kai's demands are a bit over the top and it's not the first time a Trek episode is heavy-handed to illustrate an ethical dilemma.

    I enjoyed Nana Visitor's acting as she loses her boyfriend - good actress showing the grief at the situation and of her loss at the end.

    The B-plot with Nog/Jake's cultural differences with women is sort of humorous but I find Nog tremendously annoying. Juxtaposed with the serious A-plot is poor choice the writers made. It's fine to explore the differences between Jake/Nog growing up but pick another episode to insert it.

    The episode would have been more credible had it made it seem like all the additional medical work was taking a mental/emotional toll on Bashir - it's like they agree to give Bareil the transplants and then it's done; do the positronic implants and they're done. Is there no difficulty/complications in these things anymore?

    And then the treaty is miraculously signed - how did Kai Winn get over the issue of the Cardassian stuff left on Bajor? I guess the negotiations are just a plot device for the medical / ethical dilemma.

    I'd rate this 2 stars. Never a big fan of Bareil or Kai - weak actors at the heart of this episode in stubborn roles, poorly juxtaposed B-plot. A good episode for Bashir though.

    On the one hand I agree that the Jake/Nog subplot tends to look less important by far than the A-story. But on the other hand I think it's a deceptively important story in a Federation setting. IDIC isn't all fun and games, and respecting someone else's culture doesn't at all mean liking it. It's really quite interesting that they're showing us another culture in a disgusting light and still insisting that Jake had better learn to show it some respect. When Nog reminds Jake that he's a Ferengi it's not just a moral of the week. We're apt to forget that non-humans are not Human! If only the Ferengi hadn't been such a joke otherwise this subplot would probably come off as being more important, because as it is we're lulled into maybe thinking this is the comedy part of the story. But really it's quite serious to think that we really do need to learn to tolerate and even get along with others whose habits are aggressively annoying and even offensive. That's a message that will be lost on many Americans in today's culture, who find being offended to be unendurable.

    Something I haven't seen people address head-on yet on this thread....

    The specifics of the Cardassian / Bajoran treaty being negotiated deliberately called for the return of all Cardassian hardware/property to Cardassia. Might that have implicitly meant, from the Cardassian perspective, to include the Station itself?! You don't see this addressed point-blank, but the legate's verbiage makes me think they were trying to get the language into the treaty so at SOME point, Cardassia could use that verbiage to reclaim the Station from the Feds.

    Please comment....

    Yes, Chuck, that's what the episode is implying. If left to her own devices Winn would have been bamboozled by the treaty. They were only ever after the station.

    @Peter/Chuck - Agree, I'm about 95% sure that **SPOILERS INCOMING**

    It was all meant to show what a terrible leader she is and what a great leader Bareil is. In his last showing we are show that the future of Bajor would have been bright with him as Kai. We are now left with the uncertainty of her in charge without a saint like Bareil propping her up.

    { I disagree that this episode detracts from Measure of a Man at all.

    If Bareil's brain had been completely replaced by positronic matrices, Bareil would be dead. His body would be home to a new being, but it would no longer be Bareil. Without the man himself explicitly choosing such a future, I don't know how any doctor could ethically perform the procedure.

    Additionally, no one has been able to recreate Dr. Soong's work. Even Data ultimately failed with Lal. It is unlikely that an artificially prolonged Bareil with his brain fully replaced by positronic matrices would be any more sentient (or any more 'human') than a sophisticated computer. }

    Very well said, all of it.

    Discussion between her and Julian.

    Nog is an idiot. I hate this character with every fibre of my being. There is no way you can ignore a position or cultural difference that has "women are dirt and should be treated as playthings" There are some differences that aren't possible to bridge and it's absurd the writers say you can. Tolerating different opinions and ideas is one thing - befriending someone who is a complete idiot is another.

    Julian not overriding the patient regarding the talks. This isn't even remotely a difficult ethical issue. Julian would have forced him into stasis immediately because to not do so would mean he is being negligent. Kira also ignores that Bareil's life is on the line - for "talks". Yeah... a life for talks. Talks we all know Winn could do on her own.

    Is no one going to acknowledge Nog's character retcon? He's been around women before, when that young Bajoran faction leader was aboard the station. He didn't treat HER like dirt. He was also so nervous he could barely speak when she was around. Ultimately he appealed to her by offering bartering advice, which in Ferengi culture is appalling, since females aren't allowed to pursue profit.

    DS9 as a series explored a lot of Ferengi culture, but this makes it evident they were still deciding what exactly that culture entailed. Disguised as an abhorrently lighthearted B plot in an episode about dire loss and shadowy, but ultimately forgettable politics, this story serves to expand Star Trek lore, and begins to build the foundation for future episodes like ones about Moogie, and Nog overcoming his origins and joining Starfleet (sorry, spoilers). It helps to set precedent to show how far Nog comes.

    And for those of you foaming at the mouth about sexed slavery, if you've seen the whole series, you know that it ends with Ferengi society beginning a reform. Moogie, who begins dating the Nagus (a disappointing use of recurring characters just because they like the actor), starts a fight for Ferengi women's rights. This episode showing Nog as an incorrigible chauvinist is merely the starting point of this change, so the viewers can identify with it more. It's SUPPOSED to piss you off at first.

    Back to this episode, I wouldn't say that Sisko told Jake that it's okay for Nog to be a sexist. I wouldn't even say that he has to RESPECT Ferengi sexism. Just that if he wants to have Nog as a friend, it shows more respect to Nog as a person to remember that he IS a Ferengi. You'd be within your rights to vilify Nog's behavior, but if Jake did so, it would be the end of their friendship. It would also mean that he would try to change Nog. Better for them to focus on what they have in common, which is a years old bond, than punish each other for their differences. If Nog does learn to respect women, it must be his moral choice and not out of admonishment.

    This is secretly a parallel to the Prime Directive. No matter how much you may disagree with how a society functions, you must not interfere. Either a culture reaches enlightenment on its own, or it stagnate and perishes on its own. Forcing our doctrine on other cultures, even with good intentions, is cruel. Gene Roddenberry's enlightened human understands that no one culture is "correct".

    That said, I'm a little disappointed that Star Trek decided to enlighten the Ferengi race and put them on the road to seeing females as equals. It kind of undermines their notion of coexisting with different cultures by making Ferengi culture more like our own. They just can't leave an evil culture be if it's not an antagonist. But I guess since Ferengis went from being the evil TNG race to the quirky sidekick race in DS9, they had to go through a revamp to cure the racial dissonance.

    As for the A plot, Bareil always seemed robotic and boring to me. He was the caricature of a Zen monk. I'm not going to miss him. However his primary purpose was not to serve as Kira's love interest (they were just trying to make HER more interesting, actually, instead of simply the short tempered ex rebel [the further we step into the future from her violent past, the less interesting and relevant it becomes]), but as a counterweight to Kai Winn. Winn is supposed to show you how religion can be used for evil, and Bareil was to show how to use it for good. He was the angel to Winn's devil. It does kind of make her relishing in his death a bit delicious, but what she doesn't understand was that Bareil wasnt her adversary, but her other half. Without him, her evil machinations will be the instruments of her own demise.

    The decision to kill him off is fine with me. He was dull. Well acted, but poorly conceived. And watching Kira's actress pretend to have feelings for him was always pretty cringey to me.

    @ A loser [insert snark],

    "Forcing our doctrine on other cultures, even with good intentions, is cruel. Gene Roddenberry's enlightened human understands that no one culture is "correct". "

    That's not quite right. The prime directive is about how to *deal with* other cultures. It isn't a statement of evaluation of them or submission of values. The Federation outright believes that peaceful coexistence is the correct way to self-organize. They may respect the Klingons for having their own culture and ways, but that doesn't mean they would submit that the Klingon way is just as valid or correct as their own. Yes, they don't interfere and dominate others with their values, but it's not because they don't think their values are superior. It's just that one of those superior values is not to dominate others!

    @ Peter G.

    Holy crap the comments on this site are weeks, months, and YEARS apart. You replied to me in under an hour. Other people monitor these pages besides me? Whoa.

    A fair counterpoint. Perhaps I was wrong, what I said applies a lot more to Voyager, wherein the crew of Voyager often has to rein in their own moral outrage when dealing with a xenophobic race. Janeway often had to remind her crew that they had no right to preach to or interfere with other cultures. Occasionally, in private, she would let off enormous steam about how much some race vexed her, but amongst others she had to serve as the center of calm for their marooned ship.

    Janeway's crew WAS Federation, however, and they did understand their paradise culture to be superior. They had Maquis rebels among them, chrissakes. She more understood the role of the Prime Directive in diplomacy, and not to stoke the fires of their indignation.

    In TNG and DS9, we do see more cohesion between humans and the Vulcans and the Klingons. A key thing to remember here is that they're part of the Federation, and subject to Federation tenets and values. Klingons may be bloodthirsty warlords, but they can't just go out marauding while humans are expected to shrug and say, "Welp, Klingons be Klingons."

    Ferengi are not.

    Nog and Rom's existence aboard the station is managed because they aren't subject to Federation values, just Federation laws. You can disparage women all you want, but you can't start hitting them or making them actual slaves. Not on board that station, anyway.

    I'd like to say as a disclaimer that I'm in no way trying to make an argument for moral relativism, and I wouldn't dream of comparing Star Trek's galactic cultures to any real world ones. Only that I understand the pragmatism of condoning Nog's sexism (at least, for now) if there's still enough about him that Jake likes enough to keep him as friend.

    Also, just a reminder that Klingon women, despite being Federation citizens, do have fewer rights than Klingon men.

    @ A loser,

    Small quibble, but the Klingons aren't members of the Federation. They have a standing alliance (for the most part) which means they abide by certain terms, but presumably within their own space space the Klingons do whatever the f*** they want. Anyone setting foot on DS9 is subject to its local laws, but it's not because they're citizens vs. visitors, it's just because as an open port it functions in some ways like a sovereign town with its own Sheriff.

    The reason why (SPOILERS) the changes in Ferengi culture in DS9 align with Trek values is because none of it came from being pressured or coerced. The expectation is that by establishing peaceful coexistence members of the other culture will decide for themselves. In the case of Quark's family it was Quark, Rom and Nog who heavily influenced Ishka's ability to make changes, and that, in turn, came as a result of their interactions with Federation citizens. Quark may be right that it's insidious, but it's still a free choice. The main difference between the Ferengi and the Klingons here is that since the Klingons are so violent it required a peace treaty and then alliance to even get them in the same room as humans. With Ferengi they would want to initiate commerce without need for a special treaty to ensure the safety of the Federation citizens dealing with them.

    If the talks fail, Barial takes the blame. If the talks are successful, Winn becomes a hero.
    A "Winn-Winn" situation, so to speak :)

    I don't know how it took me so long, but I just realized that the actress that plays Kai Winn,

    I'm beginning to get pretty tired of Bajor playing such a large role in this show. can they give him a full functioning positronic brain? So far Data is the only one that has one in the federation. It seems odd they would have extras just sitting around on ds9.

    "Life Support" has two major problems. The A-story has potential as a pivotal episode in the Bajor arc (except that there is no Bajor arc, so that's another problem with this episode, and the series as a whole) and an emotional episode for Kira, but it's completely done in by terrible acting by Phillip Anglim as Bareil. The second problem is that there's some massive tonal whiplash with the silly and misguided B-plot. It's not funny or amusing, and has a very odd message. Unlike "Treachery, Faith, and the Great River", the two plots don't elevate each other-in fact, they do the exact opposite.

    1.5 stars.

    I had no thought about this episode that hasn't already been explored admirably by others above me. I always found Bareil boring and not at all charismatic, so no great reaction to his death.

    I'll just share an anecdote from when I was 15 and started to really think for myself. My parents and I were watching TV and something terrible was on--I don't even remember what it was--and I expressed disgust at it. My mother said, "Well, you have to respect others' beliefs," and I replied, "Not if those beliefs are STUPID!" And that's all I can say about Nog and his vile culture.

    Teaser : ***, 5%

    Jake is making flirty conversation with a young Bajoran woman—seemingly more age-appropriate than Mardah, thankfully. They make a date, then Odo and O'Brien run past. Bashir meets them at an airlock where a damaged Bajoran transport is docked. Kai Bitchwhore emerges along with a seriously-injured Vedek Driftwood.

    Act 1 : **.5, 17%

    Kira paces in the infirmary, while O'Brien delivers his report to Sisko, Bitchwhore asks if he suspects sabotage. He doesn't but her motivations will be for The Emissary's ears only. Bashir is performing emergency surgery on Driftwood in those Alice-in-Wonderland-inspired scrubs from TNG. Anyway it isn't going very well.

    In Sisko's office, Bitchwhore explains that she and Driftwood (remember, she conscripted him to be her aid) were on their way to meet with the CCC. They had been negotiating a new peace treaty with Cardassia, much to Sisko's surprise. Bitchwhore is uncharacteristically demure, crediting Driftwood with much of the work which has led them to this point, on the cusp of exchanging ambassadors and making war reparations. Obviously, this is why the Prophets chose her to be the Kai—so that the person interested in peace would have to attempt to be effectual from the sidelines. Yeah.

    Bashir finally emerges and gives Kira the bad news—Driftwood has died. Kira resolves to grieve in her own way, beginning with resuming her duties in Ops. Bashir begins the autopsy. The nurse is about to harvest some neural tissue...from Driftwood's arm...when Bashir's screen flashes. Apparently, there's still some brain activity—despite the brain damage which has occurred, the magic radiation may allow Bashir to revive him. Oh joy. We get some medical drama, complete with ER-style “are you, mad, doctor?!” incredulity from the nurse until finally, Driftwood takes a breath and opens his eyes.

    Act 2 : **.5, 17%

    Bitchwhore and Sisko heap praises on Bashir, but the latter is very quick to remind Driftwood, despite being recently DEAD, that he better be prepared immediately to keep making her look good in their negotiations. Finally, Kira is allowed to tell Driftwood she loves him. Side note, why is Driftwood still wearing his earring?

    Nog enters the Siskos' quarters and explains that he's arranged a game of Damjat (presumably with magnetic balls, knowing Ferengi), but Jake has that date planned. Jake and Nog engage in some hackneyed disgusting teenage sitcom buffoonery to try my patience. The upshot is, Jake needs to find a girl for Nog so they can have a double date. And Nog will wash his lobes, which is especially disgusting since, remember, Ferengi lobes are erogenous, possibly sexual organs. Well, I'm glad Nog will deign to wash his junk.

    Bitchwhore and Driftwood discuss strategy—she suddenly, skeptical of his every suggestion. Bashir enters and delivers some bad news—there are side effects from his temporary death that will lead to...death, so Bashir wants to put him in stasis and do more research. Driftwood refuses, citing his duty to Bajor and these talks. Bashir has a dangerous alternative—a drug which will give him temporary relief from the death, but after a few days will cause the death. Yeah. He begs Bashir to proceed with the danger.

    Act 3 : **, 17%

    Under Driftwood's advisement, Sisko sits in on the talks between Bitchwhore and the visiting Carassian legate (Tyrese?), you know, in case somebody needs to be punched in the face. Tyrese is typically arrogant and overbearing, while Bitchwhore is unusually meek. During a recess, she confesses to Sisko that she suspects his demand that Bajor return *all* items of Cardassian origin (in principle) is, well, suspicious, and Sisko agrees. Louis Fletcher is finally permitted to show so range beyond condescending bitch, expressing vulnerability, distress, fatigue. It's a lovely performance. She seems quite certain that the peace talks will fail if Driftwood dies.

    So, we join the Breakfast Club on their date at Quark's. Nog is dismayed that Jake's date, you know, talks and stuff. He seems completely oblivious to the fact that his Ferengi values don't sink up with...anybody else's. I don't know if it's fair to blame the cringeworthiness of this scene more on Aron Eisenberg or Ron Moore, but I loathe it. The girls storm off and the boys have a stupid argument. It's like a big helping of sitcom tropes with DBI ladled on top like indigestible gravy. It's comedic indigestion.

    Through a great deal of pain, Driftwood helps Bitchwhore see through Tyrese's tactics. She has reverted to her totally unsympathetic self, demanding Bashir pump her advisor full of drugs so he can help without his attention wandering. Bashir refuses, of course, and Kira backs him up, threatening to throw the Pope out. Turns out, Bashir's worst fears about the effects of the drugs are coming true. Driftwood once again begs that Bashir do whatever it takes to get him through the negotiations, whatever the cost.

    Act 4 : ***, 17%

    Bashir confronts Bitchwhore in the conference room. He asks her to release the Vedek from his obligation to her. Bashir's behaviour here recalls his attitude with Garak in “The Wire,” driven almost religiously by his medical obligation to his patient. He goes so far as to appeal to her ego:

    BASHIR: Eminence, you're the Kai. These are your negotiations. Let this be your moment in history. Finish the talks on your own and you won't have to share the credit with anyone.

    Of course, this tactic reveals the dark undercurrent here: if the negotiations fail, Bitchwhore can blame the failure on him—if they succeed, the victory will be hers. Win-win for Winn.

    Jake, meanwhile, is complaining to Sisko about Nog's behaviour. Without showing any sign of linear thought, Sisko reverses his opinion from Season 1 and convinces Jake to make amends with his friend.

    In the infirmary, Bitchwhore's insistence on talking to her advisor has led to massive and irreversible brain-damage. Yeesh.

    Act 5 : **.5, 17%

    The only remaining option for returning Driftwood to consciousness is to start replacing his brain with implants. Bitchwhore thinks that's exactly what he would want, and Bashir rightly points out that she's hardly impartial in the matter. But...Kira backs the Kai up. Bashir consents to the surgery and Driftwood wakes up, his perception altered. As William B noted, “the big emotional impact of this episode is rather blunted when Philip Anglim's performance of Bareil-as-robot is nearly indistinguishable from his normal performances of the character.” In theory, what we are witnessing is horrifying, seeing a man lose his grip with those ineffable qualities Data talked about. Bitchwhore is very quick to begin asking questions about the negotiations, of course.

    Sigh...meanwhile, Jake somehow convinces Odo to arrest himself and Nog for some petty crime so they can be thrown in a cell together. Oof. After a while, Nog becomes suspicious that neither Quark nor Rom are here to confront him. Jake apologises to Nog for forgetting that his friend has no respect for women. Yeah. I think this whole women-chewing-their-men's-food bit is supposed to be heartwarming, but it isn't. These two aren't little kids anymore...what exactly is the basis of their friendship? They don't respect each other (and by all rights, they shouldn't), they just spend a lot of time playing games together. The more they grow into adults, the more this is going to be a problem, as Jake points out. And it MUST be. Hasn't anyone seen “The Fox and the Hound”? Sigh...mature friendships require the sharing of fundamental values. Yes, it's possible to have friends with whom you disagree sometimes, but not about respecting the autonomy of an entire gender. That's absurd. Anyway, I hate this, and hope Odo never comes back to let these idiots out of their cell.

    Finally, the peace treaty is signed, which is a major development actually. Jadzia makes a brief appearance to console Julian. Oh and Quark tries to stick his finger in the Kai's mouth because we haven't had enough gross imagery for one episode. Bashir is called to the infirmary, and Bitchwhore follows. Driftwood is on his last legs, braindead. Kira is now the one begging for Bashir to replace his brain with robotic bits, but, now that the task is completed, Bashir is quite done. Having gotten what she wanted, Bitchwhore endorses the decision, and Kira accepts the inevitable. Nana Visitor's moving performance is sadly wasted on a relationship which never made sense to begin with, and which never demonstrated any believable chemistry.

    Episode as Functionary : **, 10%

    The A-story is among the top 2 or 3 uses for Driftwood in the series. This is kind of damning indictment, since he himself spends half his screentime either writhing in pain or unconscious, but it's a satisfying close to his arc to have him slowly sacrifice his life to the cause of peace. He was never a very effective character, so this provides a relatively dignified send-off. The other positive aspect is how this story affects Bitchwhore, who is permitted further dimensions than are typical for her character. Bashir is also in fine form, although the road travelled here is quite familiar both for him and the CMO characters across the series.

    However, I have to agree that it's highly dubious that the Space Pope would be conducting negotiations like this. I guess Bajor really is a theocracy. So despite the progress being made with this big treaty, it feels as though the Bajorans are slipping further and further away from Federation membership.

    I'm not surprised that Kira ends up having so little to say and do here. Her attitude about Driftwood's right to choose (a theme which is kind of there, but not really delved into) is commendable, and her conflicted emotions admirably portrayed, but this relationship has always felt incredibly forced. There was room in this story (especially if we excised the B plot) to explore Kira's relationship to the Kai—remember, they are of the same sect. That conflict was at the root of her romance with Driftwood—somehow.

    The B plot is abhorrent. I hate the acting. I hate the premise. I hate the conclusion. It is sitcom drivel at best and offensive “bros before hoes” schlock at worst. Chuck it in the dumpster.

    Final Score : **.5

    @ Elliott,

    "These two aren't little kids anymore...what exactly is the basis of their friendship? They don't respect each other (and by all rights, they shouldn't), they just spend a lot of time playing games together. The more they grow into adults, the more this is going to be a problem, as Jake points out. And it MUST be."

    While I think your critique of the Jake/Nog scenes make some sense, I think there's something the episode is trying to say that goes beyond ordinary logic and is perhaps deserving of a closer look.

    Normally when two nations, let's say, are seeking closer relations, a few things might help to bridge the gap: common beliefs, common goals, a common enemy, or even pure economic self-interest that ends up benefiting both. In the case of individuals the calculus may be different but the principle is similar: *something* needs to be common between them, even if the only common element is having no one else to be friends with. In the case of Jake and Nog it's hard to pin down exactly what that common element is. As you say, they're getting older, so it can't just be to have someone to play with. Could their shared playing in the past serve as enough glue to make the friendship survive a drifting apart? And if not, what other glue is there?

    I agree that the disrespect for women part of their scenes was annoying and probably something that in our modern sensibility is a bridge too far for some people to tolerate from a friend. But maybe that's the point; maybe that's a blind spot the episode can highlight for us. Is it actually proper to "unfriend" someone who believes a single thing we find objectionable, or does one thing we don't like? In our current climate the answer for many seems to be yes; "if you voted for Trump unfriend me immediately", and so forth. And it seems to me that this mentality is exactly the incorrect method to go about showing that despite significant disagreements we need to keep the dialogue open and not rescind the offer of friendship. On Nog's side we may have a hard time understanding why he likes a human boy; but on Jake's side it would be pure Federation values for him to insist on fighting for a friendship, even with someone who espouses a bad belief. It doesn't have to be relativist, and there is no need for Jake to apologize for Nog's deficiencies. In fact, the strength of the Federation value is precisely that the offer of friendships stays even in the midst of very powerful deficiencies on Nog's part. The more upsetting Nog's treatment of women is, the more it's noble for Jake to retain the friendship.

    Now in terms of tone the episode doesn't show this as being some act of philanthropy on Jake's part, although it does show that he has to overcome his initial instinct to recoil from Nog. So there actually is some glue present here beyond abstract Federation values. It seems that Jake and Nog just like each other for some reason. The sort of magic here is that it's not easy to explain why. Maybe it's better not to; maybe that kind of analysis doesn't help a friendship. Maybe it's better to mythologize a relationship and elevate it beyond logic than to require it to "make sense" and restrict it to being the sum of its apparent parts.

    While I agree that the execution here wasn't pristine, I always accepted the result as being a very important Trek lesson, which is that judgement is sometimes less important than friendship for its own sake. Maybe Nog will reform, maybe not; but he certainly won't if he's isolated and only has Ferengi to talk to.

    @Peter G

    "And it seems to me that this mentality is exactly the incorrect method to go about showing that despite significant disagreements we need to keep the dialogue open and not rescind the offer of friendship."

    This is a stretch for me. Sure, a diplomat would need to learn to overcome cultural differences in order to foster peace; one might need to set aside disagreements in order to have a healthy work environment with colleagues, etc. But, Nog and Jake are teens who *choose* to spend all their time together. As you admit, there is no explanation for what the "glue" is that is supposed to be holding them together. When they were a bit younger, they both ogled girls, played in the holosuites, and so forth. It would have been poignant for the two to realise that, as they mature and discover the men they will become, with values which define them, they can't maintain a friendship. I think that's way more realistic and affecting. To me, this story reads as, well Jake and Nog are friends because they're friends. That's neither very interesting nor particularly noble in my book.

    "The B plot is abhorrent. I hate the acting. I hate the premise. I hate the conclusion. It is sitcom drivel at best and offensive “bros before hoes” schlock at worst. Chuck it in the dumpster."

    Bingo. Would you say that this is the worst b-plot in the show so far? I might actually say that it is. I can't think of a single thing that works about it, not a single redeeming moment.

    Watching and commenting:

    --First thought on seeing the opener is that the ep is going to focus on the Kira-Bariel relationship, and I'm resisting the desire to label it "snoozefest" too soon.

    --When did the Kai go blonde?

    --Huh. I've been spelling Buh-rai-ul as Bariel. But I guess it's Bareil? Where the e had a long i sound? No. It's Bare-I-L, I guess.

    --This "death" of Bareil makes me think of the Dorothy Parker quote from when she heard that Calvin Coolidge had died: "How can they tell?"

    --Leanne is very cute. But Jake is bringing Nog on the date?

    --This wimpy, unprepared portrayal of Kai Winn is hard to buy. She is nothing if not a meticulous schemer.

    --If they replace parts of Bareil's brain, he'll lose his spark? Dorothy Parker comes to mind yet again.

    --Nog treats women like slaves, but this is an cultural difference, a "disgusting habit" Jake can overlook as long as they don't double date. Worrisome, but certainly realistic.

    --Nana V doing a good job on her goodbye scene, but this relationship wasn't well defined. I'm not moved, as I would normally be with such a scene.

    Average fare.

    Some thoughts after reading commentary:

    I thought the most interesting discussion in the ep was the discussion around whether Winn should lie to Bareil, and claim she doesn't need him, so he'll agree to stasis. Though Winn's motives are not noble, she's not wrong when she decides not to lie to him. Lying to him removes his agency, i.e, his ability to knowledgeably decide his own fate. To lie to him would be grossly disrespectful to him and wrong.

    Kai Winn is happy to have him as a fall guy, yes, but it's also very clear that she prefers success, and really needs him and can't handle the negotiations alone. (Is this why they turned her blonde? To count on the "dumb blonde" stereotype to explain why the clever and conniving Kai is suddenly an airhead?).

    How would Bareil feel, to wake up a year later, say, to failed negotiations and negative consequences for Bajor, because he was lied to? Is he a full person, with full rights . . . or not?

    So . . . who's suggesting taking his "spark" away?

    Though the B plot was jarringly "lighthearted" it actually did fit in, here, in an ep that's basically about agency - individual rights, the ability to decide for oneself . . . where does it start and end?

    Very sick people, robots, female Ferenghi, Bajoran prisoners (detainees?) on Cardassia . . .

    Notice how Jake "imprisons" Nog to force him to talk. Is this ok? Is it ok for Odo, as a professional, to lie to Nog, and go along with it all?

    So anyhow, there is a thematic tie in for both A & B plots, even with those "secret negotiations" (a couple of people making decisions for many . . . the Kai is an elected official . . .) which also include discussions of prisoners.

    "Yeah. I think this whole women-chewing-their-men's-food bit is supposed to be heartwarming, but it isn't."

    It also is the reason I can't bring myself to recommend non-Star Trek fans to watch "The Visitor", an otherwise excellent episode but for that scene in the middle where Nog mentions this disgusting act and it still lifts even me right out of the narrative, and I've watched the episode probably 40 times.

    2 stars. Just an unfocused mess

    The only good thing to Cokr from it was the peace treaty

    I wasn’t invested in bareil or Kira and Bareil. The medical plot also was pretty mechanical

    I guess Jake doesn’t have any other friends on the station so he tolerates Nog, but Nog is such a douche, Jake should have told him to get lost. Not sure what the message is supposed to be about accepting Ferengi culture or whatever. Jake is a nice guy, but come on.

    I think this episode for me was the point where I realised how well written this show is, particularly with regard to Kai Winn and her status as villain. She goes way beyond that title, and I think is becoming an incredibly well acted portrait of a real psychopath. I've felt angry at villains in the past, but Kai Winn gives me a whole skin crawling sense of hatred that I don't recall feeling about a star trek villain before. When she threatened Bashir for what he said to her, that was the stepping off point. There's not an ounce of holiness in her at all.

    The only regret I have here is that Kira did not utterly unload on her in Bareil's final moments, some comments that truly cut to the centre of WHAT Winn is. Not even the Cardassian torturers of past episodes have made me feel quite this strongly about a character before, and that is I think one of the best reviews I could write about DS9. What an amazing show.

    what confuses me about this episode is that Kira doesn't fight harder (or at all) to change Bareil's mind about going into statis. If Kira really loved him like the writers set up she would've behaved differently imo. She is A-Okay with Bashir slicing out the first half of his brain turning him into some freak robo-power ranger but then throws a fit later when bashir won't complete the power ranger transfermation. It just shocked me that she would be okay watching him deterioate like that.

    TLDR: It's weird Kira was okay with Bashir turning
    Bareil into Robo-cop in the first place.

    I really liked this episode. It wasn't the best, but it certainly kept me wondering about the patient's face throughout the story. I don't understand why so many people here dislike it, I thought it was a solid story about Bashir and his hypocratic oath, you can see how this is all taking a toll on him.

    I dunno how he comes off as preachy, his character has always been that of a doctor who cares not for politics, but the health of his patient. Not to mention, all those people saying that this episode just says that Data can't be human, they don't seem to understand Data's brain is a technological marvel, hard to recreate. If bashir had replaced all of the brain, it would have been a mere shadow of what data is capable of.

    I dunno how you people see this episode as bad. Probably bad taste.

    'When Kira hopes that replacing the rest of his brain may save him, Bashir tells her that he would simply be a machine without a spark of life. "He'd be dead. And I will have killed him." (One could even argue that this is an allegorical anti-euthanasia moment.)'

    Huh? I can't wrap my head round this bit of the review. Bashir deliberately has Bareil die, instead of pursuing further medical intervention to extend his life but worsen his quality of life. Surely this is making the case *for* euthanasia, not against it.

    I haven't really been fond of the character at the best of times, but ouch, watching his condition degrade over the course of the episode was painful. Sci-fi does have a rocky history with portraying technological augmentation of people -- all sorts of nonsense about "oh nooOOOOooo it makes us LESS HUMAN" -- but I feel the scenes here managed to avoid the pitfalls that I usually hate. This technology clearly *is* lesser than the Bajoran brain, and Bareil's capacity to experience the full spectrum of life is severely reduced.

    Interested to see where Kai Winn proceeds from here. Rest in peace to that spark of progressivism in her religious cabinet. All hardline orthodox from here on out, huh?

    I don’t buy the whole “If the negotiations are a success, Winn will look like the hero” line. Not if word gets out that Bareil guided her hand. Just as Winn would have been sure to get word out that if the talks were a failure it was Bareil’s fault.

    I, for one, was happy to see Bareil go. The actor sucked. Always the wooden, one dimensional performance. Not particularly well written either. Unfortunately, Shakaar was not that much better.

    The biggest issue with Nog in this episode is that he isn't a victim of his culture. He has grown up in a very multicultural environment, educated in one, and cultures that are empowering to women, e.g. Bajoran, teran etc. Quark is probably the most liberal ferengi there is and is the most influential in Nog's life. Also, Nog can believe as he does, but he didn't read the room in their 'date'? and he doesn't recognise that they are humans and therefore wouldn't accept his own cultural ways? Jake still stays friends with him and accepts his "cultural" (bs) biases? The writers treated a serious subject as a B-plot joke, but actually there wasn't anything organic about how that played out.

    A pet peeve of mine is that Trek never made an effort to come up with substitute terms for "human" and "humanity" when they are clearly not talking about the Homo Sapiens species that evolved on the third planet in the Sol system but about "all that has ultimate dignity". This always struck me as lazy futuristic fiction, especially because they at times do have characters use the word "human" for the specific species we all happen to be members of.

    Are we supposed to believe that, despite all the enlightened ideas that undergird Federation society, they have not yet even reached the "inclusive language" stage when it comes to interspecies relations? "Oh, when we say 'human' we mean 'sentient and sapient being.' You should realize that. Humans certainly do."

    I always thought that's just how the universal translator translated it, not some anthropocentric error on the writer's part.

    Like when they use the word humanitarian for example:

    Brunt chastised Quark for selling food and medicine to Bajoran refugees at cost, describing it as "a generous humanitarian gesture" and that such a thing gives "honest Ferengi businessmen a bad name." (DS9: "Body Parts") .


    Actually, I think your example is one of the times when "human" is being used more specifically for our species. Brunt is condemning Quark's action as "humanitarian," that is, as something a "human" would do, not a Ferengi. Many Ferengi characters say "Hu-man" as a derisive term.

    While not nearly the worst or the most boring episode so far, there's something in here I really dislike. I don't have the energy to dive deep into it, but here are some bullet points:

    -- Winn and the Legate are purportedly negotiating -- and signing -- a far-reaching treaty that normalize Bajoran-Cardassian relations after decades of brutal occupation, yet we heard nothing in previous episodes about some kind of thaw in mutual relations nor, to my recollection, do we hear anything regarding repercussions of the treaty later on. There's this Real Important Treaty that may as well have never existed.

    -- Pertaining to above, the notion that all together three people are negotiating the treaty (two Bajorans and a Cardassian) is hillarious. Can you imagine, say, Iranian nuclear deal or any number of important international treaties to be the result of 3 people talking to each other instead of entire delegations hashing out various aspects of it?

    -- In order for the treaty and the process of reaching an agreement to have any meaning to the audience, we should have ideally been informed of the underlying political situation on both Bajor and Cardassia. Unfortunately, we don't know anything new regarding Bajor, the current state of the Provisional Government and the role Kai is supposed to have in the functioning of their political system. Still, I can accept the planet being ready to move on if the other side shows a measure of goodwill. What I am less sure about is this sudden willingness of Cardassia to sign the treaty. Why now? What's in it for them since they're apparently agreeing to pay what should probably be huge war reparations? We do know that the dissident moving is growing on Cardassia thanks to last season's Profit and Loss and this season's Second Skin, but from those episodes -- and others, like The Wire and The Defiant -- it's obvious the Obsidian Order is up to no good while wielding enormous political power. It's never made clear in the least what Central Command and the Obsidian Order get out of all this.

    -- medical ethics / Frankenstein story is underwhelming. Bareil is needlessly stubborn (the result of the mentioned silliness that only two Bajorans are conducting negotiations) in endangering his health and ultimately forfeiting his life. While Winn is definitely immoral enough to condone and abet Bareil's de facto suicide, the episode does her no favors by making her seem incompetent and clueless in order to impress upon us Bareil's importance and heroic sacrifice.

    -- Kira seems strangely blasé about Bareil's situation up until that last soliloquy at Bareil's deathbed. She also doesn't seem interested in confronting Winn regarding her role in all this, which is very strange considering the two women always had a *lot* to say to one another and were usually good foils for each other.

    -- it's painfully obvious that writers didn't like Bareil and/or Philip Anglim's performance (not that I exactly blame them for it), and also wanted to free Kira to pursue certain other romantic entanglements (see the next episode), but this was not the way to do it. As I see it, the episode fails on two fronts: (1) as a character examination of Bareil, Winn, and to an extent Kira; and (2) as a political story that builds on two and a half seasons of established Cardassian and Bajoran relations. The episode barely rises above the waterline as a (3) medical ethics story: it's not particularly good in that regard, but it does say something coherent and has a clear beginning, middle, and end.

    Barely ** or 4 out of 10

    Huh, as soon as I submitted my comment, I noticed I didn't mention the Jake/Nog subplot. Let me just say that I generally agree with Peter's take on it. I do think there's more than meets the eye here and that the episode does have a worthwhile message when it comes to bridging difference, even when -- especially when -- those differences seem to be vast. I'll admit it does help that I have a rather un-PC sense of humor so Nog's ludicrous misogyny was kind of funny to me. What can I say. This subplot is probably what pushes this episode to two stars for me. The A-plot is... ugh.

    @ Paul M.,

    I think the whole treaty plot is just a trumped up way to say that Bareil was this awesome guy, brokering peace, free formula for babies, happiness for puppies and all the rest, and that Winn is this sneaky character stealing away his glory while letting him waste away for her gain. It's really not a good use of plot or of character. It's like the Tasha Yar routine but even more pointless. At least when Armus killed Tasha it was literally the intention of the act that it was pointless. Here the Armus is apparently Ron Moore. Whoops.

    But let's imagine Moore had a point to make. Usually I compare the A and B plots to glean what this might be, and apparently it's that people with differences can still achieve something good? Does this mean that Bareil and Winn, despite being opposed in character, somehow in unison pulled off the treaty? Or does it mean that Cardassia and Bajor can come together despite their vast differences? If it's the latter, I feel that this point is especially blundered since the Bajoran to finally seal the deal is more Cardassian than Bajoran in a manner of speaking. It would be like Jake and Nog making up, and then us learning afterward that actually Jake thinks girls are stupid too so there was really something in common there after all. Speaking of sneakiness in common, did the episode even bring up the issue of whether the Cardassians could be trusted in such a treaty - or even whether Winn could? I don't think it did, which is quite remarkable considering what happened in the incident with The Circle. I mean, sure, Winn was actually working with the Cardassians in some sense back then, but even so wouldn't that make her all too aware that they'd love to stab Bajor in the back again? Or maybe that means she's the perfect person to negotiate it (only Nixon could go to China)? Too bad none of this was as important as eulogizing a character that is being given the boot.

    On various rewatches of the series this one has got to be near the bottom for me, I never look forward to it.

    "An alive (but robotic) Bareil would have been a decent way of handling his character going forward"

    I agree. This would have been fascinating, and different from Data's journey (an android wanting to become more human).

    Bareil 2.0 would be a human with his brain replaced with a positronic matrix (is he still human?) . Effectively a robot brain with a human body - as opposed to a human brain with a robot body (e.g. RoboCop). SciFi doesn't have many characters like this - I can't think of any.

    Bareil 2.0 would have somehow had Bareil's memories and personality transferred, since that's what Bareil wanted in order to do whatever it takes to continue the peace treaty negotiations. It raises many questions, and it would be interesting to see how Bareil 2.0 navigates being thrown into Bareil 1.0s life. Bareil 2.0 could discover new things about himself, for example if his "software" (memories and personality) is now being run on superior hardware, what would that mean? Let's say he can think quicker, how will that affect the development of his personality, or his interactions with others. I think Bareil 2.0 could have been one of the most interesting characters in all of SciFi.

    ... also Bareil 2.0 would have been unique*. Is he human? What makes someone human? He was born a human, he has a human body, he has his memories and personality, he can even father human children (with his human body).

    * In the ST universe, and possibly in science fiction (certainly the popular franchises).

    I thought this episode was rather sordid and illustrated how twisted and uncompassionate Kai Wynn is compared to Opaka.

    Wynn was literally beating a dead horse (Bareil) and everyone except Bashir seemed okay with it. It was a death but by a thousand cuts....

    Whether it was due to writing or acting, Anglim/Bareil felt like he didn't belong in this universe. It feels like he wandered over from the adjacent set where he was starring in the 90s version of Dexter and no one had the heart to tell him to go back.

    I always thought that spacey Philip Anglim was born to play a Vulcan but they made him Bajoran. Oh well....

    This episode really showed that Trek writers never get out of their brain grooves when naming characters. We already have Vedek Bareil in the episode, so why does the other guy get named Legate Terel. First of all, Paul Winfield was Tyrell in TWOK, so can't we come up with something just a little bit different here? But instead we go through the episode with Kai Winn constantly going back and forth saying "Bareil," "Terel," "Vedek," "Legate." After about 30 minutes, all I could hear was "Vegate Bartowel" and "Riled-up Re-dial." Time for some originality with the names folks. And no, Raffi Musiker (in Picard) doesn't cut it. That character should never have the last name of a jazz artist. I think they should have gone with Berserker for her. :)

    This was great! Maybe my international lawyer side running a bias here but I think the very notion of the Bajorans and Cardis sitting down to negotiations is something that transcends this episode and the show itself. It's a big deal for two mortal enemies with so much bad blood between them to interface with each other civilly and even arrive at an accord. Kudos.

    Keera's tearful goodbye speech to the monk was well done. It was poignant. I was actually involved and moved. Again, kudos.

    The B-story about the two boys' friendship being tested was a neat excursion from the more serious arc, while also delivering some thought-provoking lessons.

    Maybe I was in a good mood today while watching this but I thought this eppy exemplified certain types of goodness that makes life joyful and worth living. It's a feel-good installment while also striking the somber note regarding mortality and loss.

    Just learned of Louise Fletcher's passing -- she was 88. She was so good as portraying the villain - an understated actress but very effective. Star Trek was lucky to have her. Very accomplished actress. RIP

    I wrote a different arc for Bareil that better integrates the Bajoran political storylines of the first two seasons into the show’s other seasons going forward. (Spoilers up to end of S6). All other S1-6 episodes not mentioned remain identical.

    Battle Lines: Kai Opaka is critically injured in a bombing by a Bajoran terrorist faction. As her injuries are too severe for Bajoran medics to treat, she is flown to Deep Space 9 where Bashir tries to save her using positronic technology. Bashir’s experimental treatments merely prolong the inevitable and Opaka ultimately decides to die; Kira stays with her until the end. Essentially this is a redo of Life Support but with Opaka in S1 instead of Bareil in S3, and dropping the Cardassian peace talks angle and the Jake-Nog comic subplot. We don’t find out the reason for the bombing in this episode.

    The Siege: the same except Li Nalas survives at the end.

    Sanctuary: Li Nalas is now head of the provisional government. Two Bajoran provinces in need of agricultural laborers request to host the Skreeans, and some of them settle there; others continue on deeper into Federation space to settle other worlds.

    The Collaborator: Instead of keeping Opaka’s secret, Bareil calls Winn’s bluff, and when she goes public with the allegation that Bareil betrayed the resistance base, he reveals the truth - that it was Opaka who ordered Prylar Bek to tell the Cardassians the location of the base, sacrificing her own son in order to save 1200 lives. This complicates Opaka’s public legacy, but Bareil’s image and credibility are not tarnished and he is elected Kai. The station-side plot revolves around Kira and Sisko working with Li Nalas and General Krim to investigate the Bajoran faction who assassinated Opaka; they discover it was carried out by remnants of the Circle who discovered Opaka’s secret and considered her a collaborator, and who may or may not have been working with Winn.

    With Life Support removed, Shakaar is rejigged into a three-parter that closes the season.

    Part 1: In light of the threat posed by the Dominion, Bareil calls for Bajor to break off its plans to join the Federation. With Sisko’s backing, Kira is forced to go up against Bareil and their relationship breaks down. Li Nalas’s government concludes a peace treaty with the Cardassians.

    Part 2: Bareil exploits existing tensions between the provisional government, the public and the Skreeans in order to manipulate Nalas into almost starting a war between Bajorans and Skreeans over access to the soil reclamators. On the station, disturbed by Bareil’s uncharacteristic decisions and apparent gaps in his memory, Kira has Bashir test a strand of Bareil’s hair and they discover that he is a changeling. Sisko and co. take the Defiant to Bajor and beam the Bareil-changeling aboard.

    Part 3: a bottle show near-identical to The Adversary; the Bareil-changeling commandeers the Defiant’s computer and sets it on a course to attack the Cardassian colonies in the Chin’toka system, reigniting the Federation-Cardassian war. Odo kills the Bareil-changeling. Kira is left mourning the real Bareil and wondering if he is still alive somewhere. With Bareil presumed dead, Winn is elected Kai.

    The Assignment is moved forward to S4, and is the same except Keiko is killed by the Pah-Wraith.

    Looking For Par’Mach In All The Wrong Places: Kira and O’Brien get together.

    In Purgatory’s Shadow/By Inferno’s Light: The same except Bareil is in the prison camp too, and returns to the Alpha Quadrant with Garak, Worf, Bashir and Martok. Bareil is shocked to find Winn now Kai and Kira and Miles in a relationship; Kira rekindles her close friendship with Bareil but (having moved on) decides to stay with Miles; Bareil decides not to contest the now-entrenched Winn as Kai.

    Sacrifice Of Angels: Starfleet does not retake the station after just six episodes; the occupation arc lasts the entire season. There is no “divine intervention” by Sisko, Dukat does not go mad, and Odo’s seduction by the Female Changeling seems permanent.

    The Reckoning (feature-length occupation version): Damar is making final preparations to destroy the minefield. Upon hearing of a prophecy discovered at B’Hala that he believes is applicable to the current situation, Bareil contacts Kira, who arranges for a Bajoran religious delegation in a modified lightship to bring the stone tablet to the station for analysis by Vorta scientists. Although dismissive of the Bajorans’ religion, Weyoun loves the idea, immediately seeing it as the perfect opportunity for a PR exercise allowing the Cardassian-Dominion Alliance to showcase to the quadrant how they are working with Bajor’s religious leaders and using their technology to advance science and archeology on the planet. Dukat is somehow compelled to smash the tablet (ostensibly due to his contempt for Bajoran superstition), upon which it releases a Prophet and a Pah-Wraith into the station environment. The Prophet possesses Kira and the Pah-Wraith possesses Jake. Bareil rushes to Kira’s side; Ziyal tries to help Jake and the Pah-Wraith kills her. Weyoun orders the evacuation of all non-essential personnel from the station. Unwilling to give up the station and distraught at the killing of his daughter, Dukat rapidly floods the promenade with chroniton radiation, killing both the Prophet and the Pah-Wraith, leaving Kira and Jake unconscious. Damar detects that a Starfleet task force is on its way to retake the now evacuated and unguarded station. Fortunately, he has almost finished neutralising the mines and the minefield is nearly ready to be detonated.

    The Federation and Dominion fleets do battle on the edge of Bajoran space. Damar finds Kira on the promenade, slowly coming round after her possession by the Prophet. Blaming Kira for bringing the tablet to the station and everything that has since ensued, he shoots her dead. Dukat detonates the minefield. Bareil takes Kira’s body aboard the Bajoran lightship and flies into the wormhole, where he asks the Prophets to restore Kira and neutralize the Dominion fleet in exchange for his own life. The Prophets, incensed by Dukat having interrupted the Reckoning and killed a Prophet, agree. Kira returns through the wormhole aboard the lightship. Upon realising that the reinforcements from the Gamma Quadrant aren’t coming, Weyoun, Dukat, Damar and the remaining Dominion-Cardassian personnel abandon the station, and the diminished Starfleet task force finally arrives to reclaim it. Bareil visits Kira in a vision, and she sees that he is with Opaka.

    It occurs to me that maybe the writers intended the A and B plots to be related as different ways of asking how far you can change a person in order to maintain a relationship with them before you find yourself relating to a different person.

    That doesn't make me like the episode any better. It just makes it hang together, kind of.

    By the way, regarding the cultural relativism issue, I think there's a basic principle that Trek accepted less and less series after series:

    When you come upon a situation in which the strong are dominating the weak and you happen to be stronger still, there is no way to avoid "taking sides." The cash value of "neutrality" is simply taking the side of the strong.

    That doesn't necessarily mean that you always intervene, but I think being honest about that makes a difference even in your non-intervention (or as Trek says, non-interference). I know that there are aspects of the TNG episode Symbiosis, but it does show how the Prime Directive can sometimes give a way of using non-interference as not just an excuse to but a way to interfere.

    I meant to say "aspects of the episode Symbiosis that many fans don't like".

    Trish, what level of genocide by the stronger side would justify you personally stepping in? Curious what your personal opinion is.


    In my heart of hearts, I am not a true believer in the Prime Directive. Non-interference is Roddenberry's ethic, not mine.

    While it's important not to jump to conclusions about who is in the right and who is in the wrong when you first come upon a situation, when there is enough information to make a reasonably informed judgment, I think it is not only acceptable but morally mandatory to protect a weak victim against a stronger attacker, if you are strong enough yourself to do so and there is no authority you can prevail upon whose job is to do it.

    It doesn't have to be at the level of genocide. It can be at the level of stepping between a schoolyard bully and the bully's target.

    I would have had no problem with telling Nog that if his culture tells him to treat females like crap, then his culture is wrong, and I'm not introducing him to any of my female friends as long as he subscribes to that idea. If he accused me of being xenophobic, I'd say, "No, I'm xeno-condemnatory; I'm condemning your culture."

    For that matter, I would have had no problem with Picard letting Dr. Crusher tell the Ornarans, "You are already cured of the plague. Your need for felicium is simply an addiction, but if you want, we can help you break the addiction so you won't be dependent on the Brekkians anymore."

    Now, if the Ornarans had replied, "Well, we kind of like how the felicium makes us feel, so we'd like to keep sending our resources to Brekka to buy our supply," then I would have felt that was none of my business. I might walk away shaking my head, but I would walk away.

    If they wanted me to provide them with some converters to keep their supply ships running, I'd have been willing to sell them to them for goods like the ones they would usually use to buy felicium, maybe several bushels of grain per converter, not because I particularly wanted the grain, but because I would not see their desire for a luxury item as a survival need appropriate to be funded by charity. I would be willing to allow them the dignity of buying the means to continue their desired arrangement, if they were willing to allow me the dignity of selling it rather than giving it away.

    I have a background in international relations (in addition to a science major), and the first thing I noticed about this episode was that Kai Winn and Legate Ghemour were negotiating alone. I realize it was mentioned near the beginning of the episode that these peace talks have had many sessions over a long time, but it's still hard to believe that this important event had so few players there at the final moment. In reality, that would never happen. It would not all be on Winn and Bereil to cinch the treaty. Winn is clearly unqualified to do it alone -- but in reality, she wouldn't be the brains behind it. A secret or not, a whole team would be feeding her talking points and monitoring the play-by-play.

    So for me, the premise was a bit unbelievable. I was also sad about how the writers disposed of Bareil's character. It seemed hollow somehow. They gave him a noble and dignified death, but as a plot device his death was empty. And he was such a good man, salt of the earth. It's like the writers just decided they were done with him.

    The medical technobabble was a bit annoying because, like in VOY's "Mortal Coil", a miraculous medical technique is not only used to resurrect a dead character, but also preserve his fragile life. Yet this technique is never seen again. At least in "Life Support", the character ends up dying, so there were consequences. That was something.

    I agree with many of the comments.
    Two points:
    1. Since I'm watching this after Voyager, it does seem to me like 7of9s Nanobots could solve most of the medical issues on DS9.
    2. If Bajor has to return all of the Cardassian equipment, wouldn't that include DS9 itself? TBH I'm surprised that the federation hasn't replaced at least some the equipment over the years, especially when that equipment starts shooting at people.

    I thought the B plot was entertaining but out of place in the episode. As a "Saved by the Bell" fan growing up seeing Lark Voorhies in Star Trek!

    The main plot I would have to agree with many of the comments above, its borderline unbelievable and its not a great ending for Bareil. Oh Well I guess. I think its a 2 star episode

    @Amit that's great you're enjoying both series and I have come to love Voyager for its strengths rather than criticise its weaknesses. About the nanoprobes, it's interesting to consider how the nanotech could have saved him. I'm not exactly sure on stardates but I think by the time 7 is on VOY, it takes place after Bariel perishes on DS9. Which brings it back to the idea of stasis. I like to think Bashir put him on ice and 7 revived him many years later

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