Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Our Man Bashir"

3 stars

Air date: 11/27/1995
Teleplay by Ronald D. Moore
Story by Robert Gillan
Directed by Winrich Kolbe

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Kiss the girl, get the key. They never taught me that in the Obsidian Order." — Garak

Nutshell: A rather absurd premise, but it's put to good use. Very clever and funny.

"Our Man Bashir" is a lot like "Little Green Men" in that it is a comedic episode that has little bearing on the season or the series, and not really much bearing on the characters either. But it is different from "Little Green Men" in that it is a comedy with a little more spice and satire, and not so much a single joke that always seems on the verge of running out of steam.

It's nice to see that the series has the ability not to always take itself seriously—that it can step back and be downright ludicrous and still manage to hold our attention. This time, a freak transporter accident sends nearly the entire senior staff into the holosuite. (You would think we're in for trouble when the story begins with not one, but two Trek cliches, but never mind that now.) The premise is about one step away from total incredulity: When Sisko & Crew's Runabout explodes in the process of an emergency beam-out gone awry, Odo and Eddington frantically free enough computer memory to save their brain patterns (some extremely large clusters of data) in the station's computer. Somehow, the data ends up in the middle of Bashir's James Bond-type fantasy holosuite program, and holosuite characters begin to take on the forms of DS9's senior officers.

This premise is no more than an excuse to plug the characters into Bond movie milieu, with Bashir in the title role. Considering the release of the Goldeneye feature, "Our Man Bashir" couldn't be more timely. This episode takes great joy in poking fun at the larger-than-life nature of the Bond films. Naturally, Garak, who tags along to observe Bashir's fantasy life, gets the always-welcome lines of humorously biting sarcasm.

Bashir—Julian Bashir, that is—is having lots of fun defeating the villains and getting the girls in his holosuite fantasy (the episode opens with a ridiculously amusing scene where Bashir knocks out a bad guy by popping the cork of a champagne bottle into the villain's forehead). But things turn serious when Eddington informs him that if he attempts to leave the holodeck he risks erasing the data of the senior staff's transporter patterns. So Bashir must keep the program running until Odo and Eddington can come up with a solution. Wait...did I mention the holosuite safeties are disabled? Do I have to?

From here we follow Bashir and Garak through their adventure to save the world. "Our Man Bashir" has everything a Bond movie would need. There's the Sexy Woman Agent with an Accent (named Anastasia and replaced with Kira's image); the One-eyed Hitman with a Score to Settle (named Falcon and played by O'Brien); the Female Scientist with a Silly Name (Honey Bare, played by Dax); the Tuxedoed Gambling Mobster (Duchamps, played by Worf); and, of course, the Megalomaniacal Villain Trying to Destroy the World (Dr. Noah, played by Sisko).

Do you care about the plot? In all honesty, one of the weaknesses of this episode is how it tries to give us a plot to digest which turns out to be a fairly meaningless exercise simply because it doesn't matter. Do you really care if Dr. Noah is able to accomplish the absurdly unfathomable goal of destroying the world? I didn't, but then again, it doesn't much matter whether the holo-story means anything, because what this episode is about is the role playing chemistry and the acerbic banter between Bashir and Garak—and these elements work.

It's fun watching Bashir and Garak get into the typical spy movie jams. There's one crazy scene where Noah has them chained up in a cave where a laser is ready to drill into the ground and cause molten lava to fill the cavern. Garak's dry observation: "I only know one thing for sure, Doctor...when the molten lava begins pouring into this cave, you and I are going to be very uncomfortable." There's also his classic line, "I must say, Doctor, this is more than I ever wanted to know about your fantasy life"—one of the most appropriately timed lines in quite a while. These two are as fun to watch here as ever, and the episode's shining scene—where Garak reveals that being a spy means cutting your losses and giving up when things get tough—reveals the fundamental difference between the grim kind of espionage the Obsidian Order had made their business, and the superficial comic book adventures Bashir plays in his fantasies.

Winrich Kolbe's direction reveals a capable comic side (although the closing scenes get almost too hyperkinetic despite a waning supply of fresh dialogue). The performances in "Our Man Bashir" are right where they should be—way over-the-top. Avery Brooks as the very-insane Dr. Noah is a particularly goofy delight. Nana Visitor's accent sounds surprisingly good, and just seeing Worf in a tuxedo while lighting up a cigar is reason enough to watch the episode. Also, Jay Chattaway's appropriate Bond-style score is a pleasant change of pace.

If there's something this episode says through its satirical nature, it's that the Bond movies are just highly unlikely, stylized, comic book stories to be taken at the most basic entertainment level. "Our Man Bashir," similarly, is one zany, preposterous, amusing episode.

Previous episode: The Sword of Kahless
Next episode: Homefront

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74 comments on this review

AJ Koravkrian
Sun, Nov 25, 2007, 10:52pm (UTC -6)
Why would they make the premise so ridiculous though ? You need entire space station's data worth of computer memory to store their brain patterns ? How stupid is that ? Do they mean to say that the space station's transporter can't hold more than a couple of people into the transporter buffer ? What about when Voyager holds all those telepathic aliens into the cargo bay transporter buffer ? Why, oh why would they do this to us ?
Occuprice
Fri, Apr 18, 2008, 11:27pm (UTC -6)
Because, like most things on Voyager, the Aliens are dumbed down with limited mental capacity. Thus, more of their minds could be stored in less area.
Necros
Wed, Jul 9, 2008, 6:30am (UTC -6)
Do I care about the plot? Of course! It's a bit silly but it's allright. I think many times you are over-analyzing and trying too hard to be a reviewer.
Jayson
Wed, Nov 26, 2008, 9:23pm (UTC -6)
If you really care about a plausible reason as to why the stations computers couldn't hold the patterns, well its a Cardassian station. I suspect if this were a Federation starship or starbase it wouldn't be a problem but is just an old mining station.
Destructor
Tue, Jul 14, 2009, 7:40pm (UTC -6)
Watching a holodeck episode is the 24th century equivalent of watching our favourite characters watch TV. I don't care and it's a waste of time. This was a snoozer that only had laughs because it was laughably bad. Next!
Jake
Tue, Nov 24, 2009, 10:12am (UTC -6)
I enjoyed this one, & find it interesting that this episode aired at roughly the same time that the Bond film Goldeneye was in theaters. Likewise, TNG's equally memorable "A Fistful of Datas" aired more or less the same time Unforgiven was in cinemas.
An interesting coincidence these 2 holodeck episodes share.
jilly
Mon, Jan 4, 2010, 10:29pm (UTC -6)
This was just intended to be a good time, and that is how I took it. I got the feeling the actors, director, writers, set designers, et all really let loose and enjoyed themselves. It was just a fun romp to see our characters in new, but also stereotypical roles. :)
Anthony2816
Fri, Feb 5, 2010, 2:28pm (UTC -6)
How come when the lasers that Bashir and Garak had been chained to were activated, and the five minute countdown was well underway, Dr. Honey Bare chose that moment to saunter in and begin a casual review of the controls?

Just askin'...
Peter Cordes
Tue, Sep 20, 2011, 11:00am (UTC -6)
Normally in a spy movie, the goal is to thwart the villain. Thinking outside the box, realizing that was unnecessary, was creative. The goal here was to keep all the characters alive, and the idea of the super-spy having a goal other than stopping the bad guy made the last few scenes novel.
Jacobian Tee Teetertotter the Third
Wed, Feb 1, 2012, 1:26am (UTC -6)
Its great that Julian can actually be himself in the holodeck, being genetically enhanched and all it is possible that he could do those things which would be a fantasy for most people to be Bond, but not for the genetically enhanched Doctor Bashir. I got this idea from the SFDerbis fellow and thought it so clever I had to post it here, because it truely is the great irony of this episode. And as a Bond Fan its great fun! Here ye here ye Calling all Bond fans, now you can be Deep Space fans to if only for a day!3 popcorns. Also liked the bit about neural energy being able to be stored in a computer. I thought this to be intersting, because i would think when i die, that engery must go somewhere, where does it go? Hope i have a deep space nine nearby to escape death
Latex Zebra
Tue, Apr 17, 2012, 4:22am (UTC -6)
Finally watched this on my box set Sunday night. This had always seem an inconsequential episode. I liked it. Earns a couple of stars for a valet named Mona Lovesit.
I also thought the end, which turned spy conventions on its head, as Julian attempted to buy time was excellent, as was the villians response.
3 stars seems very fair for this.
Mister P
Sat, Aug 25, 2012, 11:53pm (UTC -6)
This is not a bad episode, but I would have enjoyed it a little more if it wasn't scheduled so closely to Little Green Men. Both are "silly" episodes taking place in 20th century settings with no impact on any of the major DS9 story arcs. Still, I did enjoy how they remixed the DS9 theme music into a 60s-James-Bond espionage style.
Cail Corishev
Mon, Sep 17, 2012, 4:54pm (UTC -6)
A fun episode, but I do wish they could have come up with something more plausible than "the entire station doesn't have as much RAM as one set of transporters." That took a while to get past. There's no way that makes sense, in any era or with any technology. That's nearly as bad as Voyager getting away with running the holodocks 24/7 because they use a "different kind of energy" than the rest of the ship.

Nice to see Sisko chewing the scenery on purpose, though. And Julian wants to be a real spy so badly that it's fun to watch him play at it. Garak steals his scenes as usual, especially with his remark that he's been spying for the wrong intelligence service.
William
Mon, Oct 15, 2012, 6:48pm (UTC -6)
Not a fan of most holodeck episodes, but this one was pretty fun. And I like the additional insight into Cardassian vs. Human approach.
Maestro
Thu, Nov 1, 2012, 7:32pm (UTC -6)
Kira's accent is hilarious - the rest is irrelevant... Maybe Dax as a mad scientist too.
Maestro
Thu, Nov 1, 2012, 7:34pm (UTC -6)
I mean... How did they manage to shoot it? They must have rolled on the flour every time Kira had started to speak.
Maestro
Thu, Nov 1, 2012, 7:50pm (UTC -6)
And the very final lick on guitar, taken straight from TNG theme.
ProgHead777
Mon, Jul 22, 2013, 11:39pm (UTC -6)
"You've destroyed zee vorld!" ~a shocked and dismayed Anastasia to Julian Bashir, secret agent XD

This one was a hoot! Anyone who spent any time analyzing the premise missed the point. This episode was a sugar pill to gird us for what was immediately to follow. That's all. It's okay for a show to have silly fun once in a while. Even Star Trek.
floodgeology
Mon, Oct 21, 2013, 3:34am (UTC -6)
I loved how Garak pointed out the upsurdity of everything (even up to including the 60's distint lack of bad taste in decoration) He's what pulled off the episode.
Also, is it coincidental that Julian Bashir and James Bond have the same initials?
Kotas
Wed, Oct 23, 2013, 12:54pm (UTC -6)

The best "just for fun" episode of the series thus far.

8/10
Jons
Sun, Feb 2, 2014, 3:20pm (UTC -6)
Third filler episode in a row... What did we do do to deserve that??

I really enjoyed Little Green Men but the Indiana Jones and the Bond rip-offs ("omg! we don't know what to do! oh I know, how about we ripoff another genre so we don't have to come up with an actual original story??")

The only thing interesting here is Garak, but he speaks for only 5 min in the whole episode, which leaves 40 minutes of murderous boredom...
Dusty
Thu, Feb 13, 2014, 9:35pm (UTC -6)
Not crazy about two comedy episodes back to back. It killed an hour, but I'm not crazy about the James Bond stuff or technobabble and this episode had a lot of both. Plus Bashir's not exactly one of my favorite characters. O'Brien, Worf, and Sisko as the villains were much more entertaining. It was interesting, but I probably won't watch this one again.
Vylora
Sun, Feb 23, 2014, 9:52pm (UTC -6)
I agree over-analyzing this type of episode is completely missing the point. I actually didn't find the premise all that absurd either. It's been stated before in Trek that holding transporter activity within the buffer can cause degradation of the signal. Seeing as its still a Cardassian transporter system and an old mining station to boot, it seems feasible the memory required to keep the signals stable would take up so much resources.

As it is, this was a really fun episode and is obvious their was a lot of fun put into it by all involved. I'd say high end of 3 stars.
Rivus
Tue, Apr 29, 2014, 2:28pm (UTC -6)
Not gonna lie, I was laughing from the moment the champagne popped, to every completely absurd Bond-ehr... Bashir girl name cooked up (Mona Luvs... What, exactly?), to Garak being Garak, to Kira giving the most hilarious "DA" I've ever heard (not that I hear much Russian)... But out of all of it, EVIL MASTERMIND OF MOUNT (SOON TO BE ISLE) EVEREST BENJAMIN SISKO was where I just lost it. It's like Brooks crossed Sisko's normal talking with Mirror Sisko's enthusiastic rabblerousing, and I just couldn't stop laughing. Granted, I missed sleep last night, so it could just be the delirium talkin', but this was quite enjoyable. Also, some of the most memorable music in Star Trek since The Inner Light (which REALLLLY feels twisted to say, now that I think of it), they really went all out.

Well played DS9. Somehow, this feels like a redemption after having to put up with those dull, plodding Dixon Hill episodes back in TNG. I'm hesitant to give this three and a half stars because of a lack of real plot... How about 3.33 repeating stars?
Hlau
Sat, Jun 28, 2014, 7:37am (UTC -6)
Looks like this was fun for the actors, especially playing the villains. Kira looks great as a Bond girl too. A shame Sisko didn't put on a stronger hammy accent.

I did love how nonchalant everyone was on that shuttle during the set up about their possible death 'in 10 seconds.'
Yanks
Wed, Aug 6, 2014, 8:47am (UTC -6)
And so the DS9 holodeck episodes begin...

"GARAK: I must say, Major Kira's certainly throwing herself into the role, Doctor."

"BASHIR: Honey, would you grant me one last request and take off those glasses?"

Lots of fun and eye candy in this episode.

Garak in a tux... :-)

Hammy 5 minute countdown... just long enough for Bashir and Garak to be rescued...

3 stars for me. These are much more enjoyable than the DS9 'Mirror' episodes.
Greg
Wed, Aug 27, 2014, 8:30pm (UTC -6)
I'm going to be a wet blanket and just say that this episode is... boring. Outside of the initial amusement of seeing the sprinkled introductions of each character as a spy cliche, the episode just kind of trudged along. The Eddington-Rom side of the story was perfunctory and the in-suite plot didn't really stay all that entertaining. 2 stars by Jammer's system, IMO. Watchable and nothing more, but not aggressively bad.
Dondi
Wed, Oct 8, 2014, 12:51am (UTC -6)
I accidentally fell asleep on this one about 30 minutes in. I don't care enough to see the ending, either.
Chris
Tue, Mar 17, 2015, 4:03pm (UTC -6)
With all that seismic activity and continental flooding at the end, they should have felt something even on Everest. And even if the top of Everest ultimate sat above the new sea level, it would have been inundated with tsunami waves before things settled down. Here we don;r even hear anything. Pretty lousy holosuite programming.
dlpb
Tue, Aug 18, 2015, 10:25am (UTC -6)
Why would they make the premise so ridiculous though ? You need entire space station's data worth of computer memory to store their brain patterns ? How stupid is that ? Do they mean to say that the space station's transporter can't hold more than a couple of people into the transporter buffer ? What about when Voyager holds all those telepathic aliens into the cargo bay transporter buffer ? Why, oh why would they do this to us ?
---------

You're barking up the wrong tree. The whole premise of the episode is literally scientifically impossible. I dislike episodes like this for the reason that they hurt continuity in the universe the fiction is set in. We can never again feel any tension through "last second" beam outs... since we know even if something goes wrong during it, magic can fix all.

Taken as a standalone episode, this episode is very funny and entertaining. Even Sisko's overacting which is no different to his normal acting.
Abedfo
Wed, Sep 2, 2015, 3:49pm (UTC -6)
Speaking as a geology graduate, i can confirm sisko's plan wouldnt work!
William B
Mon, Nov 2, 2015, 2:13pm (UTC -6)
This is a weirdly fanfic-y episode, and I don't actually mean that in a bad way; "Garak tags along in Bashir's sexy Bond-movie holodeck program, and then the characters are replaced by the main cast!" is so outrageously silly and yet so obviously a ticket for fun that it seems more fannish than most episode premises. I guess that is generally true of holodeck episodes, and the closest analogue in TNG is "A Fistful of Datas," which is basically the same premise except with Data instead of the whole cast; while I like "AFoD" more than it seems most of the commenters on this site do, "Our Man Bashir" definitely picks a more specific target, comes up with a better goal for the characters to have, and sets up a better conflict between the holodeck-goers as they play off the main cast-as-holocharacters, and is just generally funnier and more fun, and so it's basically better in mostly every way.

First, the bad: well, okay, there is the whole ludicrousness of the transporter idea, but I'm not really that bothered about it. As with "The Sword of Kahless," though, I cry foul on characterization a little here, but unlike "TSoK" 1) the episode is clearly all in good fun, and 2) it's more of an annoyance than a character-destruction. The episode's main flaw to me is that Garak's bringing up his Obsidian Order past again and again is pretty flatly out of character from what we have seen from him across three seasons, and there is the occasional sense in this story that Bashir is right and that Garak really is more invested in teaching Bashir some kind of lesson about spy professionalism than he is in the life-and-death crisis they are in -- which we see, for example, in the way Garak pretty instantly drops his desire to end the computer program when Bashir shoots him, in a way that seems to be more because Bashir impressed him than that he seems genuinely afraid of what Bashir will do (in the next few scenes, e.g.). Along similar lines, Garak to some degree plays a bit of a wet blanket on the fun, pointing out how un-spy-like the Bond parody is, and eventually mostly offering little while Bashir makes the big creative play at the end of the episode. And I can see it, really I can, but it seems like a waste of Garak's talents to have him basically play the straight man to Bashir; Garak is a pragmatist, yes, but he is not a dullard but is in fact incredibly creative. Having Garak straight-up talk about how he used to be in the Order and be unable to see the value in fantasy at all runs counter to the Garak who would never tell the truth when a lie would do, who thought that the truth was sometimes just an excuse for a lack of imagination, and who prided himself on being a true original at all times.

I think there is a way to salvage this characterization though: as my girlfriend pointed out after watching, the Obsidian Order has just been destroyed, and we know from how the series plays out how genuinely unhappy this makes Garak, underneath it all. For Garak to drop pretense about being a spy only after his organization has been destroyed does make some sense, and further for Garak to start getting high-and-mighty about proper spy procedure similarly makes a whole lot more sense when you consider that he is defending his idealized image of the ruthless but effective spy agency when his whole spy agency just got totally wiped out. Bashir's interpretation that Garak is basically pouting because Bashir's fantasy life is stepping on Garak's toes then is true, but with an additional element of cruelty that Bashir fails to consider: Bashir's fantasy makes comic and silly something important to Garak that has also just been totally annihilated. That Garak was not even quite the type of spy he seems to be standing in for here may just be because Garak is still in mourning for a whole organization which is very farcically misrepresented by the Bond-like program.

Which is to say that while this episode is clearly a zippy adventure-comedy, and there is not quite enough justification for how Garak behaves here, it does better than other adventures ("TSoK") or comedies ("Little Green Men" -- though that one is closer to this one in quality) at integrating longstanding characterization dynamics. Garak enters Bashir's personal space, is affable and joking about his disapproval, but even from the first scene the conflict is set up clearly, even with foreshadowing (Garak suggests that Bashir "shoot him," albeit with a cork, in the teaser!). And Garak finds himself amused that Bashir has such an interest in the way the adult world works, and plays along with it for a while, but finally it's as if years of bottled annoyance (which only briefly came out in "The Wire") come out at once and he tells Bashir off for his naivete and insistence on his ludicrous belief that he can save everyone; Bashir can play in his fantasy land all he wants, but when it's time to live in the real world, it's Garak who will make the decisions. Bashir's shooting Garak to let him know he means business allows Bashir to reclaim the value of idealism and creativity as opposed to Garak's pragmatism, while also showing that he's willing to use a few Garak tactics of his own.

And I do basically like that since this is Bashir's fantasy that they are running around in, Bashir mostly can succeed in the ways he fails at life. The way he seduces bookish, quiet "Dr. Honey Bear" and lets her see her own beauty plays out like Bashir has finally figured out how to hit on s1-era Jadzia (who was serene and quiet at that time). He has Kira's romantic attentions, and the other men in his life, all of whom have some kind of authority either as senior command officers (Sisko, Worf) or as the experienced heavy (O'Brien, who let's not forget trashed Bashir's work in "Hippocratic Oath"), are portrayed as villains out to get him, but with whom Bashir is unflappably cool and not frightened. He did not even intend this assortment (it's more a matter of the fact that the Bond-like program basically has all women as romantic interests and all men as villainous rivals, because this is a very adolescent fantasy), but his ability to navigate it matches up with his growing confidence.

Things almost always get real in the holodeck, which is one of the more regular and somewhat frustrating cliches of Trekdom, but I like that here, Bashir and Garak can decide to stop playing at any time, it's just that their duty to others requires they keep going. In the end, while the casting of Garak as something of a square who doesn't get why ridiculous flights of fantasy are good is a bit silly, he sees the value in them, and Bashir play-acts his way a little closer to confidence in everyday life. Along the way, there are a lot of jokes, the always-enjoyable Bashir-Garak team-up, and the reveal that, yes, genre exercises are not always about verisimilitude but about creativity and fun. A very high 3 stars -- if Garak were allowed to be a tiny bit more Garak-y it could be higher.
William B
Mon, Nov 2, 2015, 2:27pm (UTC -6)
Oh, right -- Avery Brooks as the mad scientist is so perfect.

One of my favourite ludicrous details: did Bashir and Garak actually get knocked unconscious by Worf/Duchamps' exploding knock-out gas cigar?

I know I just wrote that last comment a minute ago, but on slightly further reflection I actually do think that Garak being deeply impressed after Bashir shoots him makes sense and is delightful. The issue is not, I think, that Garak really believes that he has no choice but to go along with Bashir now that Bashir is armed-and-dangerous; I think if Garak wanted to he could dive behind someone, end program, and that'd be that. However, I think he genuinely only believed that Bashir had whatever it takes to recognize the severity of their situation once he saw that Bashir was willing to make a choice -- to shoot Garak -- and that mostly restored confidence that Bashir knew what he was doing, in this particular situation, and allowed Garak to change his mind and go for the ride. To some extent, Garak always took a kind of professorial tone with Bashir, indulging Bashir's opinions but usually telling him why Bashir was wrong about the world, but he also has big respect for Bashir from "The Wire" among other places. For Bashir to stand up to him like that does make him back down, at the very least to see what happens next.

Garak's pragmatism and recommendation not to try to be a hero are perfectly in character, as is his frustration with Bashir's version of spy-hero. I just feel a little bit like they have Garak too literal-minded and too explicit about his past, and I still think it's a shame that he doesn't quite *do* that much, though he does give Bashir the idea for his end solution -- because he can't be a hero and save everyone, Bashir decides to save everyone by not being a hero, demonstrating that rather than being too caught up in his fantasy to know what is important, he knows exactly what is important and throws the fantasy in a hilarious way, to save the day. It's all very neat; I think it's a well-constructed hour.
Andrew
Mon, Nov 16, 2015, 3:06pm (UTC -6)
Not as bad as "A Fistful of Datas" or "Bride of Chaotica!" but I thought this was much worse than "Little Green Men," the Anastasia and Noah characters, though the former and Falcon were cute, felt too stretched-out one-notes and not enough was done with the others. Also having watched the Flynt movies this felt too much like a parody (or just imitation) of a parody.
Kevin
Tue, Dec 1, 2015, 3:09pm (UTC -6)
Having started going through the episodes again this really stands out in the way it took advantage of Goldeneye having been released. I know its one of the comedy episodes and has no baring on the series or even the next episode but its one great laugh. Bit of a worry that Quark was the one who worked some of it out. great viewing
Diamond Dave
Tue, Dec 22, 2015, 2:35pm (UTC -6)
If you're going to do a comedy romp based on the James Bond films you may as well throw yourself into it, and boy does this throw itself into it. As others have noted, there's nothing really to analyze here - just an excuse for the regulars to madly chew the scenery. It's fun for what it is and the design looks great. Probably the best thing about this is the score - pitch perfect throughout. Or the names Mona Luvsitt and Honey Bare. Or "behind the spatula".

That said it is a holodeck gone awry episode and it does drag a bit. 2.5 stars.
petulant
Mon, Jan 18, 2016, 2:56pm (UTC -6)
I think the writers were playing with ideas they had for the later series when they wrote this episode,
kira was a colonel in this episode and she later went on to become a colonel,
they talked about jadzia dying and she did,
the way they talked about the cardassians was almost predicting them joining the dominion,
it was a fun episode and ds9 always did holodeck stories much better than tng or vgr
Quarkissnyder
Thu, Mar 3, 2016, 9:23pm (UTC -6)
I was bored. But I've never managed to stay awake for an entire James Bond movie.
Luke
Fri, Apr 1, 2016, 6:34am (UTC -6)
I'm a huge James Bond fan. An absolutely HUGE fan! In fact, James Bond is one my all-time favorite entertainment franchises, quite possibly second only to Star Trek itself (sorry Star Wars). You take these two franchises, mix them together and there was simply no way I was not going to adore the result. And in the fact that "Our Man Bashir" is such a loving tribute to the Bond films and it's only better. It's a shame that Trek was never able to do something similar to this with other franchises as well. Just imagine how awesome it would have been to have a Star Wars homage on Trek. Or a Lord of the Rings tribute.

The one thing I love most about the episode is that it's so accepting/tolerant of its source material. As much as I loved "Little Green Men", there was an undercurrent of criticism of its source material - the writers trying to show how old alien invasion movies were so corny. There is none of that here. Yes, the Bond films are indeed nothing but escapist fantasy with hardly any depth to them, but so what?! Sometimes people not only can enjoy that kind of "escape" but in fact need it as well. And the episode fully embraces that by having Garak be so accepting of Bashir's fantasies at the end of the episode. Fantasy and escapism are just as legitimate as forms of entertainment as the most serious drama. Having a healthy fantasy life can even spark creativity. And if there is a message in "Our Man Bashir", that's it.

Then there's the fact that even a light-hearted episode such as this is willing to explore some decidedly dark moral areas. Bashir being forced to shoot Garak (possibly attempting to kill him) in order to save the others, destroying the world in order to save the day, Garak's stark declaration that real intelligence agents are nothing like James Bond, etc. It shows a willingness by the writers to explore moral grey areas even in a fairly goofball comedy. It also shows how committed to that examination "Deep Space Nine" is compared to TNG. When TNG attempted light-hearted comedic spoofs they tended to jettison anything of depth and we ended up with stuff like "Captain's Holiday". But I doubt they were really trying to push any of these ideas, because the episode is just.... fun! It's a joy to watch. No greater insight or examination is really required. Does that make the episode little more than fluff? Well, yeah, I have to admit it does. But so what? It's damn enjoyable fluff.

8/10
Luke
Fri, Apr 1, 2016, 6:49am (UTC -6)
Immediately after posting that I just realized something. This episode also has quite possibly the best proof of why my counter HOLODECK TOYS annoys me so much. When Garak enters the holo-suite he's dressed in a tuxedo and is later given holographic clothes to wear by the Bond Girl character Mona Luvsitt. Proof positive right there that people do not need to dress up for the the holodeck! Holographic costumes can be created with no problem. That's why I can't stand it when we get scenes like Kira and Dax dressed in Arthurian costumes in Quark's bar in "The Way of the Warrior" or how Worf and Alexander wear Wild West costumes in "A Fistful of Datas". All of those instances (which are surprisingly few thus far on "Deep Space Nine") are nothing more than an attempt at a "joke" - showing people walking down futuristic hallways in inappropriate period dress. It's not funny; it's annoying.
Chrome
Fri, Apr 1, 2016, 10:56am (UTC -6)
@Luke

"Holographic costumes can be created with no problem. That's why I can't stand it when we get scenes like Kira and Dax dressed in Arthurian costumes in Quark's bar"

It might just be a matter of personal comfort. I can change at my office, but it would feel better to change at home. Everything works on replicators, so theoretically every officer can have access to the same costumes etc. the holodeck has via their own replicator.
Robert
Fri, Apr 1, 2016, 12:09pm (UTC -6)
Also, no holodeck has ever failed so there's no chance of you being left totally naked.
Luke
Fri, Apr 1, 2016, 12:49pm (UTC -6)
Obviously they shouldn't go into the holodeck totally naked, but why can't they wear a skintight outfit (like whenever they use the holodeck to exercise) and wear holographic clothes over that? Or just wear their uniforms and change in the holodeck before starting a program? Instead they always replicate "real" costumes to wear. These people's closets must be literally bursting at the seams with all the stuff they wear for playtime.
Luke
Fri, Apr 1, 2016, 12:56pm (UTC -6)
Of course there's also all the other paraphernalia they take into the holodeck. Do they really have to have real fishing poles, real baseball gloves, real saddles, real pipes, real head-dresses and all the other props they use? Not only must their closets be filled to capacity, their quarters must be bursting with all these toys.
Chrome
Fri, Apr 1, 2016, 1:09pm (UTC -6)
When I say personal comfort, I mean like maybe some people would prefer to put on costumes in their quarters than at public place like a holosuite. Women might also have their own personal cosmetics like make-up to go with their costumes that aren't available in replicators. Same can be said for any personal accessory like a glove. Remember how in "Starship Mine" Picard had his own saddle? It doesn't matter if the holodeck could make him a perfectly good saddle, he's got his own with his own attachment to it.

I think the show can go overboard with it, which does bring up your question of "What do they do with all these costumes and toys after they're done?". But I think it's safe to assume they can be either kept if the customer grows to like a certain item or disposed of (converted back to energy) after use.
Robert
Fri, Apr 1, 2016, 2:06pm (UTC -6)
I think Luke's point is that you shouldn't have to change.... your suit of armor should just materialize around you.
Chrome
Fri, Apr 1, 2016, 3:14pm (UTC -6)
@Robert

I see, that is an interesting idea. But again, people may be picky about their costumes and not trust the holodeck to get it right, all on its own. We've seen more than enough replicator screw-ups to believe that people may not entirely trust the taste and style of the computer.
Ivanov
Tue, May 10, 2016, 4:02pm (UTC -6)
Much better than a fistful of Data's 3.5 stars.
Bigwig
Tue, Jun 7, 2016, 10:22pm (UTC -6)
The title of the episode is a reference to the spoof of the Bond films, "Our Man Flint," starring James Coburn. He also played Flint in the sequel, "In Like Flint."
Skylwaker
Tue, Jun 14, 2016, 7:05pm (UTC -6)
When they wake up in Dr. Noah's mansion, Nana Visitor says perfectly in Russian, "Что случилось...?" ("What happened...?") Impeccable pronunciation! That made me laugh because it shocked me. She also in the same scene says "anarchist" exactly as a Russian might. Go Kira! She's my favorite.

What made me really laugh was announcing that they are at 25,000 feet above mean sea level, and then they all proceeded to smoke! Smoking a cigar would increase their physiological altitude by 5,000 feet even if they were at sea level! They should all pass out again at once, haha. They would be way into the critical stage of hypoxia. I took this to be another joke.

I also liked the multiple pun-reference of "Dr. Hippocrates Noah" -- The Hippocratic oath of do no harm, the play on Dr. No, and finally the fact that the world would flood, like the biblical flood of Noah.

@Luke, are you also a fan of Archer? That's a personal favorite of mine.
Peccath
Sat, Jan 14, 2017, 11:55pm (UTC -6)
@petulant

You really should use spoiler warnings in posts like that! Damn you.
Chrome
Sun, Jan 15, 2017, 4:43pm (UTC -6)
@Peccath

It's common courtesy to warn of spoilers, but if you're going to get knee deep into the comments section of a program now over 20 years old, you should expect to be spoiled. Not that Kira becoming a Colonel really changed her activities on the show anyway.
Peccath
Thu, Mar 23, 2017, 4:04am (UTC -6)
@Chrome

That colonel part was not the only thing that @petulant spoiled in his comment; he also talked about characters that are going to die during the series and future alliances formed with the Dominion!!!

I'd never say anything like that in the context of episode-based reviews without spending a single second of my life for typing "SPOILERS:" first...
Gooz
Mon, May 1, 2017, 9:25pm (UTC -6)
Technobabble. Holodeck. Blah blah blah. Pattern buffers that decay for some reason. Holofail + James Bond stupidity = skippable episode (spoiler alert).
Peter
Thu, Jun 1, 2017, 4:24pm (UTC -6)
This is a fun episode with an interesting take on indulging in fiction/fantasy and (imho) some pretty good acting. Love the interaction between Bashir and Garak. :-) One nitpick though: (and yes I know it's a story in yet another story, a damaged one at that) no rumbling and ash filled skies as the world comes to and after the lasers have been activated?
Peter
Thu, Jun 1, 2017, 4:30pm (UTC -6)
PS: Nice sets and Quarks holosuites look like an accident waiting to happen.
Rahul
Thu, Jul 27, 2017, 3:09pm (UTC -6)
Not a fan of "Our Man Bashir" -- last episode DS9 did a take on Indiana Jones, now it's James Bond. The technobabble of how the roundabout crew got in to Bashir's holosuite program is a bit much, that storing their brain patterns or whatever requires the whole station to be shut down etc. Give me a break.

Plenty of the jabs at James Bond with a ridiculous plan for lasers causing most of the world to flood -- was this supposed to be a comedy? I didn't really laugh. I rolled my eyes several times.

Yes it's good to see DS9 doesn't take itself too seriously - guess it was sort of fun briefly to see the various characters in James Bond roles. Pretty contrived stuff. I really didn't buy Sisko playing the main antagonist. The thing is I'm a huge James Bond fan and while the sets/decor were well done, I didn't think the DS9 cast did a particularly great job acting Bond parts.

Can't give this episode more than 1.5 stars. Just nothing noteworthy comes out of it. The technobabble solution is a major stretch. I don't buy Garak's solution of just quitting when the odds are against you. Was pretty hard to stay interested in "Our Man Bashir".

Startrekwatcher
Fri, Aug 4, 2017, 10:32pm (UTC -6)
2 stars

DS9 did way too many silly episodes. I'm sure people love this episode to pieces but it did nothing for me. There's a time and place for camp--the 1960s--not here. Designate me a fuddy-duddy. Meh
petulant
Sat, Dec 16, 2017, 9:29pm (UTC -6)
@Peccath

Oops, sorry i did it without thinking.
If i knew how to edit my earlier post i would.
petulant
Mon, Dec 18, 2017, 1:25am (UTC -6)
@Peccath

Actually i see no reason why anyone who hasn't seen a tv episode that's 20 years old would come to a comment section and complain about spoilers.
There comes a point when people should be able to freely discuss old tv shows they've seen.
Iceman
Sun, Aug 19, 2018, 6:21pm (UTC -6)
"Our Man Bashir" is a terrifically fun and enjoyable episode. As a James Bond parody, it works, mainly because Avery Brooks would be truly perfect as a Roger Moore/Pierce Brosnan Bond villain. But the episode also has more depth than it would seem. "Our Man Bashir" shows how optimistic DS9 is as its core. Early on, Bashir and Garak have a rather heated argument about whether or not it's possible to save everyone. Bashir turns out to be correct. Bashir, the idealist, is who DS9 ultimately sides with.

3.5 stars.
Elliott
Tue, Dec 4, 2018, 7:12pm (UTC -6)
Teaser : **.5, 5%

We begin with some stolen footage of a Bond knockoff. Full confession: I am not a big fan of of the Bond films. I have seen most of them once, but I don't have any great love for the spy-thriller genre or the Bond formula in particular. I don't dislike it either, but right out the gate, this episode is going to have to do more than adequately replicate those elements to work for me. “The Nagus” wasn't just “The Godfather” with Ferengi and it was superb. “Profit and Loss” wasn't just “Casablanca” with Cardassians either, but it was pretty horrid. “Starship Mine” and “Northstar” are pretty tedious to me, while “Bride of Chaotica” and “Elementary, Dear Data” are splendid entertainment. When Trek does this sort of thing, it's very difficult to be objective.

Anyway, we find Bashir in the titular role performing the typical antics and “conversing” with the typical airheaded blonde in the holosuite. His brief performance is interrupted by “an uninvited guest,” Garak providing enthusiastic applause. He likes to watch. And he wants to play, having donned appropriate garb. It turns out Julian has been spending a lot of time in here, but hasn't shared his experience with his friends.

GARAK: It's just that you're such a...a talkative man, and it's so unusual for you to have secrets.
BASHIR: Well, I picked up that habit from you.

File that one away. So, provided Garak doesn't put on the red dress (damn you 90s liberal media!), Garak will be allowed to stay and play with his, erm, “friend” for the next couple of hours. The scene concludes with Garak proclaiming “What could *possibly* go wrong?” Robinson's performance here is typically strong, but I'm rather put off by this characterisation. Garak isn't a troll. He may very well be interested in Bashir's fantasy life for a variety of reasons, but intentionally cock-blocking the doctor like this, then mocking him...it's just not the kind of nuanced enigmatic character we've come to know. Now Jadzia, she'd be all about that.

Act 1 : **.5, 13% (very short act)

We are introduced to the next walking pair of tits, his valet Mona Lovesit, at Bashir's holo-appartment. The girl has brains to match her beauty which is why she has made a stunning career hauling Julian's luggage around and shaking martinis. Ah, the 60s... Bashir passes on the customary pre-dinner blowjob for the moment, inviting Garak to speculate on just what exactly it is his character does in this world. He's...ambivalent, for the moment, that Bashir has chosen to play-act at his profession under these particular, rather indulgent conditions.

Meanwhile, the plot is on its way back to the station. For no particular reason, half the cast has crammed itself into a runabout, because we aren't ready to blow up the Defiant yet. There's technocraziness threatening to destroy the warp core somehow—there are actually missing parts aboard the runabout. From Ops, Eddington, attempts an emergency beam out. The cast briefly materialises before there's a flash and they're gone.

Act 2 : **.5, 18%

Odo and Eddington try to figure out what went wrong. The quintet's patterns are still in the buffer, but unable to be materialised. The data within the buffer—all those brainwave patterns—can only be stored if they dump the patterns into the main computer. This causes the lights to go out because...um, quantum.

Of course, this can only mean...that back in the holosuite, Kira has appeared in a pink silk negligé and speaking like an MSNBC nightmare accent. Bashir thinks that this is all a trick for the moment, but Kira insists that she's actually a KGB agent, which explains why she's been taking a nap in Bashir's combination sex-bed/bar. A few inquiries reveal that the holosuite is frozen because of the tech emergency. Of course. They can't turn the god-damned lights on or PAUSE the programme, but it functions normally all the same. Eddington figures out that, quite naturally, the programme has stored the crew's patterns within the holosuite. And it must be kept running. And the safeties are off (duh). Okay, all of that bullshit out of the way, we can finally get down to the point of all this.

Natashira Nerysnekov here says the Soviets have determined a series of earthquakes have been artificially generated. Garak doesn't quite seem to get the rules, yet. He finds the whole premise kind of ridiculous, because it is. Dr Honey Bear (Dax) has been kidnapped! And she wears glasses! Bashir says that he and Garak have to play along because the programme will delete Dax' pattern if Honey Bear is killed. Uhuh. That sounds exactly like how a programme would work. A character has died? Delete all associated code so the programme can never be run again! Yeah. Let's see what else?...O'Brien shows up as The Falcon, kills Mona and aims his now deadly holo-gun at Bashir.

Act 3 : ***, 18%

O'Bird gives Bashir and Nerysnekov time enough to pull an unlikely escape, eliciting more incredulity in Garak.

GARAK: I want you to stop treating this like a game where everything's going to turn out all right in the end. Real spies have to make hard choices.

This is a fair point in a vacuum but...is Garak just super dense this week or what? The point of this isn't for Bashir to learn how to be a “real spy,” it's to keep the crew alive. This whole idea that Garak is getting butt-hurt, as the kids say, over Bashir's fantasy strikes me as way out of character. Anyway, the Bond plot thickens as Nerysnekov exposits the pressing need to get to Paris and find out Dr Noah.

In the Paris nightclub, our trio are escorted to Duchamps (Worf) who asks for Bashir's invitation in between puffs on a cigar. This leads to Bashir figuring he'll bribe his way into Dr Noah's circle through gambling.

We cut to the holosuite interface where Rom reveals his jerry-rigged circuit board to Eddington and Odo. Eventually, Odo explains that The True Way—a Cardassian separatist group we've never heard of—was responsible for sabotaging the runabout. You know. Because. Anyway, Rom is going to save the day with his implausible genius.

Back in the holosuite, Julian has won himself several million Francs, and thereby purchased an invitation to see Dr Noah, specifically a face full of crazy knockout gas from D'uqcCHOMP's cigar. My guess is that Michael Dorn really enjoyed spitting in Gates McFadden's face in “Genesis” and asked to do more spit takes. The trio awakens on Mount Everest, of course, and Hippocratus Noah (Sisko) greets them manically.

Act 4 : ***.5, 16% (short act)

Dr NoAAAAAHH explains his explain plan to Inconvenient Truth the world into a massive flood and leave his island of brilliant minds and nubile breeding stock to flourish. Honey Bareback is revealed by yet another revolving platform, not so much kidnapped as collaborating. Avery Brooks' manic energy is a great fit for this wacky character (“demolish the HOUSE!”), and marinating in the Bond plot for so long is a welcome change of pace. What undermines things somewhat is the score which is as typically Berman trekky as any serious Dominion plot would find itself. Bring back the saxophones, please. So, Siskoah ties Garak and Bashir to the base of one of his giant lasers (Kira is going to be making babies).

Act 5 : ***.5, 19% (loooong act)

Garak seems to have been proven right here, as letting O'Bird remain alive proved to be a mistake. Falcon was working for Noah all along. His irritation with Bashir's refusal to be pragmatic, spurred on by likely imminent death, has him especially angry with his good buddy. But no, Bashir is going to keep playing the game, because that's the only way to save his colleagues. So, he seduces Dr Bear to the accompaniment of eyerolling from Garak. She passes Bashir the key to their...ahem...bonds in just enough time to free the pair from their doom.

The score finally picks up and gets into the spirit of things, with the big brass and electric guitars blaring. The problem is that, this is moment for less diegetic music. Now is when Garak is screaming for them to cut their losses, accept that indulging in infantile fantasies is going to get them all killed and make a practical decision. The dialogue between these two is scintillating and deadly serious, yet the score is asking us to pop the corn and be amused. WHY?? Well, in the end, Bashir actually shoots Garak, apparently nearly killing him.

The pair storm Siskoah's office just in time for Eddington to call and inform them that they're minutes away from saving the crew. So, Bashir stalls and gives Brooks the opportunity to monologue. He adopts Garak's attitude (verbatim) and opts to quit the role of intelligence agent altogether. Now that we're immersed in the fiction, the music has reverted to its typically quality (WHY?), Anyway, Bashir throws the programme for a loop by destroying the world, buying just enough time to save the crew. Garak seems quite surprised by this because...because he's been written rather poorly this episode.

Episode as Functionary : **.5, 10%

I'm more or less in agreement with Jammer on this one. The episode takes far too much time away from the highly-entertaining holo-adventure to try and techno-explain the actual plot. Ironically, the most important aspect to the plot, the motivation for the unseen culprits, is kind of glossed over and forgotten about. Does anyone care about The True Way?

I also echo William B's sentiments about Garak. He's way too thinly-written this episode. You'd think that witnessing the fall of Tain would have made Garak a bit less romantic about his views on espionage. Bashir is the romantic, you say? Well, of course he is, per his own idiom. But Garak is no less nostalgic about a life he once lived than the fantasy Bashir wishes he could. Both men are brilliant, creative, cunning and mischievous in their own way (Bashir far more than he is usually allowed to let on). So, why is Garak so dense about finding a way to save the crew at the expense of spy-logic? Garak would gladly kill them all for Cardassia, sure, but would he really be willing to sacrifice Sisko and co. to preserve his own image of the master spy? This seems incredibly petty. It's just so disappointing to see him lose sight of the big picture like this, when Bashir is able to keep all these plates spinning in his mind with ease.

While the performances are on point, I do not understand the musical choices at all. It seems rather intentional that the immersive bits are scored like a typical episode, while the genuine dialogue is cued in the anachronistic Bond style, but I cannot summon a plausible explanation for this. The Bond stuff is made to feel more tepid on the one hand, and one is distracted away from giving serious credence to the important dialogue by the plunger mutes and high hats on the other. I say this as someone who isn't a particular fan of James Bond; I wish this episode was more Bond than it ended up being. A bit of a missed opportunity.

Final Score : ***
Chrome
Tue, Dec 4, 2018, 10:24pm (UTC -6)
“This is a fair point in a vacuum but...is Garak just super dense this week or what? The point of this isn't for Bashir to learn how to be a “real spy,” it's to keep the crew alive. This whole idea that Garak is getting butt-hurt, as the kids say, over Bashir's fantasy strikes me as way out of character.“

It always makes me laugh at how soon in the episode Garak starts talking like this. If he understands it’s just a game and it *is* written with a solution where everything turns out well in the end, he should at least try to look for the solution a bit first before giving up on the DS9 crew.

As an aside, did anyone else see this episode as a mulligan on the “Move Along Home” concept?
Peter G.
Tue, Dec 4, 2018, 11:25pm (UTC -6)
Although I generally agree with Elliott's rating, I'm not sure I agree with the reasons. Primarily I give this episode a lot of credit for two reasons:

1) It gives the chance for the actors to have some fun. I give the same credit to episodes in the MU, and although literally speaking it can appear to break credibility I give a lot of leeway for episodes trying to let the actors out of the box.

2) The conversations between Garak and Bashir don't *quite* make sense in context, as Elliott points out. However I've always interpreted them as being a bit non-literal, and not so much that Garak is trying to claim 'spy supremacy.' I think the issue is much bigger than that, and actually boils down to a Cardassia versus Federation argument. I'll try to expand on this point a bit.

Garak's essential point here is that you can't have what might be called victory, and also be nice. His primary objective is a combination of self-preservation and refusing to entertain idealistic goals, and likewise his prime objection seems to me that Bashir thinks you can have your cake and eat it too in life. I very much doubt Garak actually cares whether Bashir is a competent spy or not, but does seem to care over the course of the series whether Bashir truly understands how naive he seems at times. Here we see Bashir claiming to be a "spy", that is, a cutthroat operative, and yet won't settle for any less than "saving the day" and refusing to accept any losses. Here the losses would be his friends, but I think it goes deeper than that: really what's at stake is Bashir's refusal to sacrifice principles, and Garak being disturbed by that because he knows full well that all principles do is remove options for action, and thereby reduce chances for success. A "real operative" would know that and would seek victory over morals. And in this case I think "real operative" really means someone trying to gain security for his own way of life. Their conversations here are really a microcosm of the larger debate about whether a people can protect themselves with airy-fairy principles like the Federation does, while the Cardassians have a much more authoritarian view on what's necessary for self-preservation (of a species). This debate would continue on throughout the series, and when seen in this light Garak's position isn't at all thinly written, but is directly on point with the debate these two characters always have.

SPOILER

It even goes deeper than this, because even though at a certain point Garak and Julian do develop more of an understanding, the debate is picked up again much later by Sloan, which essentially takes the same position as Garak does here with regards to what is really needed to protect the Federation. And the debate rages *to this day* about whether Sloan was right and whether Section 31 did actually save the Federation by infecting the Founders. That is essentially Garak's case here: you can't 'be nice' and call yourself an agent whose goal is it to protect your people. In this episode, which is written in a light and fun way, "Bashir's people" is the main cast, but in the grander picture it's the Federation at large. Could the Federation really survive with people like Bashir in charge of security? This episode really does surprise us by answering, "maybe!"

The reason why I'd dock the episode some points is that I actually don't think they went nearly far enough creating a 'Bond-persona' for Julian. His just seemed like himself, whereas I feel like the idea here was that he was playacting as a Garak-type, but when push came to shove he would reject that fake persona and be the humanitarian that he is. Lacking that dichotomy, it ends up just feeling like Julian playing holodeck, which we got enough of in TNG. Another weak point is as others mention, which is the tech explanations, although I'll be honest I did like Rom's involvement in that part of it. Now that I reflect, I'd be tempted to give it ***.5 stars anyhow.
Luke
Wed, Dec 5, 2018, 12:16am (UTC -6)
@Elliott

Quick question - how do you compute your final rating for a given episode? I ask because I have no idea how your scoring system works in regard to the scores assigned to each individual act and how they all relate to the final score. Where would this episode (which you gave three stars) fall on a 0-10 scale? 7.5 out of ten, perhaps?

I'm curious because I, as an admittedly HUGE James Bond fan (I even said in my review that Bond is probably my second favorite franchise after Trek) gave "Our Man Bashir" an 8/10 and you, as an admitted non-fan, seem to have given it something close to the same score. That may actually be the first time I've seen that happen - for a fan and a non-fan of Bond to come to the same overall opinion of the episode. In my experience this episode seems to be liked by Bond fans but disliked by non-fans.
Chrome
Wed, Dec 5, 2018, 11:06am (UTC -6)
I wouldn't think you'd need to be a Bond fan to like this one because as Peter G points out, Bashir never really goes deep into the Bond character. It's the same thing for like Austin Powers, which obviously references tons of Bond material, yet the characters and premise themselves can sell the film on their own. Catching the Bond references is more like bonus trivia to a story easily accessible to all.

The same's true for Data and his "Elementary, My Dear Data" material. (Admittedly, I've never read a Holmes novel) but his stories permeate pop culture to the extent that one's likely familiar with Holmes and parts of his stories without ever actually reading them. If I ever did read a Holmes novel, I'm sure I'd be thrilled to catch some of the source material TNG referenced.
Peter G.
Wed, Dec 5, 2018, 12:02pm (UTC -6)
Just to prove your point, Chrome, I really like the TNG Holmes stories when I was a kid and a teenager, and I finally decided to read Conan Doyle's books as an adult, and was disappointed to find them not all that interesting. I prefer the TNG version, hah! But this does show that the material can sell itself even if you don't care for the original (or even know it).
William B
Wed, Dec 5, 2018, 12:41pm (UTC -6)
To expand a little on some of the points Elliott, Chrome and Peter were making (and what I said back in the day, lol) I think it's worth considering this episode at least partly as Bashir's fantasy about himself. In "real life" Bashir is still not all that suave or charming. He is utterly brilliant, but he's not really able to manage the complex social world without fumbling. Not only that, but there's no particular reason to expect him to have all that much physical bravery or -- you know -- ability to shoot with much precision. I mean, he can't even beat O'Brien at darts, right?

SPOILER

Of course, we know that Bashir could beat O'Brien at darts, once we take into account later revelations. And that is maybe part of the fun of the Bond persona -- is that Bashir can hit people with a cork or shoot Garak in the face without killing him, and it can sort of work as if it's part of the fantasy while subtly revealing that Bashir actually *is* that skilled, but on some level has to hide it all the time.

Really, everyone Bashir knows besides Dax is not really scientifically learned enough to be able to realize just *how* brilliant he is medically, and everyone Bashir knows besides Garak is not really cunning in a particular way enough to spot the wheels within wheels turning in his brain and how difficult that actually is to manage. However, even Dax and Garak tend to underestimate him, because Bashir is sort of living a constant lie, a double agent if you will, regarding his Big Secret of Doctor Bashir, I Presume.

END SPOILER

But anyway, what we do have then is that Bashir basically *does* live out his fantasy through the holodeck, and that is, in part, to woo the exotic foreign woman (Kira) and kiss the nerdy scientist girl (Jadzia) while maintaining the emotional upper hand, to best the men in his life whom he finds somewhat imposing, even his friends like Miles. And he also gets to play Garak's life *like a game* and play it as a game that Bashir can win. This ties in a bit with what Elliott underlined when talking about The Wire -- Bashir is actually a little smug when Garak's scheming bites him in the ass, because as much fun as he has in those conversations with Garak, it gets kind of exhausting to always be the naive pupil to Garak's wise master. I mean, look: where exactly have Federation philosophy and Cardassian philosophy *gotten* their respective societies, and why is it that Bashir should always be deferential to Garak, as a result?

I think this is also part of why Bashir needs to keep his program a secret. OK, so he didn't actually put in Dax for Honey Bear etc. until the transporter accident. But is it also possible that on some level that *is* how he sees his friends and coworkers? That on some level he would have been imagining the exotic foreign beauty as his beautiful and terrifying alien CO, his hulking nemesis as his best friend and frequent sports adversary who seems to often have the upper hand, the quiet demure but beautiful scientist as his...well, party-girl full-of-life beautiful scientist friend, but one who used to present as quiet back in season 1. Navigating this world filled with colourful characters is difficult and Bashir, not unlike Barclay in Hollow Pursuits, is sort of entering the holodeck to practice. And he's also playing a game where he gets to do something as dangerous and challenging as what Garak did.

On that level, Garak's antagonism makes sense. And I think Garak's *annoyance* that Bashir is playing a game version of Garak's tragic life story is fully justified and understandable. But I think it doesn't really make literal sense for Garak to let his personal annoyance continue once it becomes clear that Sisko et al. are in danger. *However*, I think that it's more a writing...misapplication, I guess, than mistake. Garak's point that they can't save *all* the main cast and that they will have to pick and choose is not unreasonable. In that sense, I think Garak's insistence that they should cut their losses should maybe have either happened at a moment when the danger to their lives was more actively greater, or should have taken the form of Garak insisting they needed to kill (or at least fail to save) one of the crew members to save the others. I think the situation seemed bad, but it didn't quite play to me like it was dire enough that it was time for them to cut their losses for their own survival, yet.

But there is another possibility lurking into it, that I've just considered: Garak is not a coward, and while I don't imagine he would definitely give his life up for the DS9 crew, I think he'd be willing to take a few chances with it to save them. But what if Garak is unwilling to let *Julian* die? What if Garak -- who has just lost Tain, who has seen his own life destroyed -- is not only trying to convince Bashir that Bashir is wrong about what it means to be a spy, but that he's actively trying to scare Bashir *away* from the spy life, because he's sure that that world would eat Bashir up and *kill* him, and Garak cares about Julian too much to bear seeing that? I think Garak would sacrifice Bashir to save Cardassia, if it came to that, but I also think that Garak probably would be willing to sacrifice Sisko, Dax, Kira, O'Brien and Worf to save Bashir, especially if doing so taught Bashir a lifelong, permanent lesson that this life Bashir apparently idealizes -- and the life that Garak himself stoked interest in, in Bashir! -- is not for him, and he should stay safe rather than let it kill him, the way it killed the entire Obsidian Order.

I'm not going to go to bat for the episode far enough to say that this is what was intended. This is just some speculation. Garak clearly wants to impart a lesson onto Bashir, but it's possible that the lesson is less "You should be more heartless" as "You should let me be heartless for you, and realize that you have a heart, and so should stay away from this business, because this business *will kill you*."
William B
Wed, Dec 5, 2018, 12:44pm (UTC -6)
This actually takes me to the next point about Bashir: Bashir *does* manage it, through his resourcefulness, intellect, humour and wit. It's partly that Bashir is operating in a fantasy, with different rules than reality, but those things are something that Garak himself possesses, and something that can help someone deal with real life challenges.

SPOILER

But we also know, as I've alluded, in retrospect, that Bashir's skill at keeping all the plates spinning is partly because he's genetically engineered. And this raises an interesting question about Bashir and what he says about Federation idealism. What if it's possible to do the impossible and save the day with minimal pragmatic sacrifice -- but it requires being superhuman? I think this is the reason he is so frequently paired with O'Brien, and why O'Brien is so central to Bashir's arc in the series, and survival -- Miles is very clever and brave and resourceful, but is also very clearly *human* and not super-.
William B
Wed, Dec 5, 2018, 12:54pm (UTC -6)
Last point (for now): Garak insisting on ending the program and saving himself and Bashir -- for Bashir's own good -- is a lot like Odo punching Garak out to drag him away from the exploding fleet in The Die is Cast. Garak is in a sense repeating not just a generic lesson from his OO days but a specific one tied to a massive tragedy we've witnessed. So maybe for Garak to believe that he's doing Bashir a real favour by saving him from going down with his five crew members makes some sense considering that Garak himself had to be knocked out to be dragged away from thousands of his people not long ago. Garak's bad experiences have warped his view of every scenario for him to be more pessimistic than is warranted.
Elliott
Wed, Dec 5, 2018, 4:46pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G

"The reason why I'd dock the episode some points is that I actually don't think they went nearly far enough creating a 'Bond-persona' for Julian. His just seemed like himself, whereas I feel like the idea here was that he was playacting as a Garak-type, but when push came to shove he would reject that fake persona and be the humanitarian that he is."

I'll actually disagree on this quite firmly. The fact that the Bond persona *is* Julian Bashir (he does, after all, keep his real name in the fantasy) is precisely the point. The Bond scenario allows Julian to be himself without being problematised because the genre is full of problematic tropes; machismo, objectification, etc. Julian doesn't have to censor or sublimate the negative shades of his personality in the holosuite, just like he doesn't have to censor or sublimate his genetically-engineered abilities. In the "real world," only a super-man could actually be a Bond-type protagonist.

As for the rest of it...the Sloan stuff and what-not, I think it best to hold off on that debate for now.

@Luke:

"Quick question - how do you compute your final rating for a given episode?"

I list the percentages each act contributes to the final score in the review itself. x/10 scores are also calculated. Star ratings are rounded. This episode got 2.915 stars, which rounds to 3 and gets 7/10. It got the exact same score as "Defiant" from me, which holds up in my mind. So far, I have found that the way these act by act reviews end up producing scores and creating a ranked list seems to match really well with my overall feeling about individual episodes. It does present something of a problem with season averages. I enjoyed S3 a bit more than S2, but S2 ranked much higher because there were fewer really bad episodes and more mediocre ones.

@William B

"I mean, look: where exactly have Federation philosophy and Cardassian philosophy *gotten* their respective societies, and why is it that Bashir should always be deferential to Garak, as a result?"

This is an excellent point, and one I will remember when eventually getting to that debate, Peter. Cardassian pragmatism doesn't exactly have a record of success, does it?

"So maybe for Garak to believe that he's doing Bashir a real favour by saving him from going down with his five crew members makes some sense considering that Garak himself had to be knocked out to be dragged away from thousands of his people not long ago. Garak's bad experiences have warped his view of every scenario for him to be more pessimistic than is warranted."

Maybe, but I still find this methodology way out of character. In "The Wire," Garak could have sent Bashir to Tain directly, being his ultimate goal. But instead, he manipulated Bashir into getting him what he wanted through careful obfuscation and misdirection. I can see Garak trying something similar here, trying to lead Bashir to a pessimistic conclusion by the nose, but instead he just kind of blurts out his objection to the whole premise. I really do think the characterisation for Garak stopped at "he's a spy."
William B
Wed, Dec 5, 2018, 6:37pm (UTC -6)
"Maybe, but I still find this methodology way out of character. In "The Wire," Garak could have sent Bashir to Tain directly, being his ultimate goal. But instead, he manipulated Bashir into getting him what he wanted through careful obfuscation and misdirection. I can see Garak trying something similar here, trying to lead Bashir to a pessimistic conclusion by the nose, but instead he just kind of blurts out his objection to the whole premise. I really do think the characterisation for Garak stopped at "he's a spy.""

Good point. As I indicated, I'm not exactly sold on the interpretation I put forward, I'm just thinking aloud (well, in writing) of ways it could maybe sort of work.

We *could*, for example, maybe argue that Garak's experience in IC/TDIC has made Garak more open and has made him realize the error of being too closed up................but I don't really buy it, because the tone still feels off for Garak to be so blatant the whole story through, from when it was just a fun lark of Bashir's to when it was deadly serious. Robinson is great of course and tries to make it make emotional sense and the Robinson-Siddig chemistry is still there.
Iceman
Thu, Dec 6, 2018, 8:31am (UTC -6)
@Elliott-
" I enjoyed S3 a bit more than S2, but S2 ranked much higher because there were fewer really bad episodes and more mediocre ones. "

I always felt that Season 3 was comfortably ahead of Season 2. Uneven, yes, but the character interactions are so much more enjoyable to watch. I'm still overall bored by the first two seasons despite some really good episodes. Season 3 is when I started to really like the show on a week-by-week basis, not just every once in awhile.

Solid review of "Our Man Bashir". I like it a bit more than you. I guess you could say I'm a casual fan of James Bond, so just recreating it wouldn't really do it for me. I love this episode because of how it interrogates typical spy tropes through a Star Trek lens. The Garak stuff really added to it for me. Also, Avery Brooks is *perfect* as Dr. Noah. Now I'm really sad he never actually played a Bond villain. As a 45-minute slice of light, comedic Star Trek, I also felt that the pacing was dead on. Not quite as good as "The House of Quark", but superior to most Trek comedies imo. It didn't fizzle like "Little Green Men".

Also, "Bride of Chaotica!" is splendid entertainment? That's going a bit far in my opinion. It's an enjoyable mess.
Peter G.
Thu, Dec 6, 2018, 10:28am (UTC -6)
@ Elliott,

"I'll actually disagree on this quite firmly. The fact that the Bond persona *is* Julian Bashir (he does, after all, keep his real name in the fantasy) is precisely the point. The Bond scenario allows Julian to be himself without being problematised because the genre is full of problematic tropes; machismo, objectification, etc. Julian doesn't have to censor or sublimate the negative shades of his personality in the holosuite, just like he doesn't have to censor or sublimate his genetically-engineered abilities. In the "real world," only a super-man could actually be a Bond-type protagonist."

I'm not saying that the episode failed in some way, but I dock it points because it's just less interesting for me for Julian to play himself in a role where the character in question is really not much like him IRL. And yes, the spy trope as shown in film does have many problematic elements - in fact even the idea of violence and deception being cool is problematic from a Federation standpoint. And that's why I would have liked to see that Julian adopted a persona to enjoy those things, because I don't think he actually does like those things as himself.

My point here plays partially into Garak's suggestion that this is really not Bashir's cup of tea; that he's deluding himself in thinking that he has something in common with a real spy. By only playing himself it almost makes it seem like Julian believes that he, himself, could be a spy as-is, even though I think by now he's pretty confident that he's not that kind of person. That's why you'd playact on the holodeck and take on a character (like Barclay does). And actually DS9 does show Julian in early seasons 'trying to be' various things, only to settle down and be more himself later on in the series when he's matured. So it would have been relatively consistent for him to by 'trying to be' a spy here. That would have made the ending more poignant, had he dropped the spy persona and actually saved the day as Julian Bashir, doctor and humanitarian. But that's just my fantasy of the episode, right, and not exactly a critique of what they did show. I like the episode a lot, but I feel like parts of it are a bit flat with Julian just sort of walking through the episode as himself. Garak especially might have gotten a kick out of Julian 'playing' more early on when there were no apparent stakes.

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