Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Hippocratic Oath"

3 stars

Air date: 10/16/1995
Teleplay by Lisa Klink
Story by Nicholas Corea and Lisa Klink
Directed by Rene Auberjonois

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"It smells like a garbage dump."
"I'm sorry I couldn't find a nicer place to crash-land. Should we try again?"

— Bashir and O'Brien

Nutshell: Not up to the first two episodes of the season, but a good show with a good argument.

When an accident allows a Jem'Hadar soldier named Goran'Agar (Scott MacDonald) to free himself of the drug dependency that keeps the Jem'Hadar masses under direct control of the Founders, he captures Bashir and O'Brien—ordering them to help him in his mission to free his military unit from the drug as well.

Well, "Hippocratic Oath" can't really live up to the first two installments of this season, but considering those first two installments what do you want? This episode is, however, another good outing, featuring an interesting twist in the Jem'Hadar, showing that they do have their own internal vulnerabilities. Given the right circumstances, this idea could show up again in future episodes, possibly as an undoing of the control the Dominion has over its military.

Although this show is not always on-the-money, it is a good premise, and the writers do capitalize on the opportunity characterwise. We again get a closer look at the Jem'Hadar and their lifestyle, which is no more than that of a 24-hour soldier. However, it's interesting to note how Goran'Agar becomes more and more able to think independently and question his service to the Founders now that he has freed himself of his drug addiction. He begins to develop his own moral structure.

Bashir begins thinking about helping Goran'Agar overcome the addiction—which puts him in major conflict with O'Brien on the matter. O'Brien, more of a hardened soldier himself, has doubts about Goran'Agar's sincerity. Besides, what if freeing the Jem'Hadar from the Founder's short-leash control leads the Jem'Hadar to go out on a conquering spree of the Alpha Quadrant? O'Brien refuses to help them. Bashir orders him to. O'Brien disobeys the orders. The result is a rather unsettling clash of these two ideals and their friendship. Kudos to the writers for threatening one of the series most well-defined friendships over a high-staked polemical topic that these two see in completely opposite ways. This is what defines the heart of "Hippocratic Oath" and makes it work.

The resolution of the Jem'Hadar plot line goes basically the way it has to go. Bashir is ultimately unsuccessful, partly because O'Brien intervenes in (well, actually destroys) his attempts to free Goran'Agar's troops. Although the overall results of the plot are not exactly earth-shattering, it is quite possible that we will see this element of the Jem'Hadar again. And the character dynamics in this episode are terrific.

A subplot featuring Odo and Worf at odds with each other on security measures makes a whole lot of sense and has a number of relevant points. It shows Worf trying to adapt to his new position and drives home the point of how differently these two characters go about doing things. In a reassuring scene between Sisko and Worf, the Captain tells him that starship officers often find it a bit awkward learning the unofficial rules of the station. "You'll fit in, Commander," he tells him. "Just give it time."

Previous episode: The Visitor
Next episode: Indiscretion

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128 comments on this post

Sat, Nov 3, 2007, 10:42pm (UTC -6)
This is one of the few cases where my opinion is different from Jammer's. I consider this episode (or, more precisely, the A-story) one of the best character pieces done on DS9, and Goran'Agar is one of only two Jem'Hadar ever to transcend the "universal soldier" stereotype (the other is "Rocks and Shoals"'s Remata'Klan). Were it not for the rather unnecessary B-story (why exactly is it that Odo investigates stuff that goes beyond the station? Isn't that exactly what Worf is supposed to do?), this would rate at four stars in my book, and as it is, I still give this three and a half.

Admittedly, this episode is easily overlooked following the two stellar starter episodes of the season. But I for one hold it as an equal to "The Way of the Warrior" and not as far behind "The Visitor" as a three-star rating would imply.
Wed, Jan 30, 2008, 6:10am (UTC -6)
I really like this episode because it deals with a very interesting theme of controling soldiers through the use of drugs which is an idea that goes all the way back to Encounter At Farpoint when Q shows the crew a dark period in earths past.
Thu, Jun 11, 2009, 9:11am (UTC -6)
I also liked this one more than Jammer and would put it on equal footing with the season's openers as an intelligent exploration of character motivation and perspectives on free will. I even liked the B story, though I still have no idea what Worf's job actually is. What does someone whose duty is to 'coordinate all Starfleet activity in this sector' actually do?
Sat, Sep 18, 2010, 3:27pm (UTC -6)
Jammer, although I usually agree with your reviews, I gotta say that I just loved this one.

Clearly it can't compete with the earlier two, but its a very good way to bring things back to the large threat of the Dominion and at the same time, add character to the Jem'Hadar soldiers.

Here you have a unit commander, who, when it boils down to it, wants the best for his men. He wants freedom, he wants to end their servitude. And you have Bashir, who, once he sees that its possible for him to be more than a programmed killer, allows his healing nature to come out. And O'Brian, the soldier, who sees this as untying their enemy's hands. Its not until the end, in that last dialogue on the planet, where Goran'Agar says to O' brian "you are a soldier? Than you explain" and O'Brian tells Bashir "he's their commander, they trusted him, he can't abandon them". That made a lump in my throat.

We knew how it was gonna end, there were more seasons of the Dominian war so their soldiers wouldn't be free yet. But that didn't mean they didn't want to be free.
Tue, Oct 18, 2011, 5:38pm (UTC -6)
In other episodes it is restablished that ketracel white is all the Jem'Hadar need (no drink, no food, no sleep) presumably it is not just a drug, but also their only source of nourishment (and presumably water, unless they drink that separately), so being "immune" to the white would seem to result in eventual starvation.
Mon, Nov 26, 2012, 1:40am (UTC -6)
Replying 12 months too late, but oh well. I just rewatched this episode and Goran'Agar isn't said to be immune, in fact Bashir detects that his body is somehow generating its own supply of ketracel-white, but he can't find any sort of gland or organ that is the origin. Which is sufficiently mysterious that we can't nitpick it too directly, haha.

If the white is their source of nourishment, that would mean his body is feeding itself! Not sure how that works, but oh well. He's still breathing, I suppose a sufficiently advanced lifeform could synthesise it from oxygen. Or something. I'm just making crap up now, which is technobabble in a nutshell really.

Regarding the rating, I'd rate it over some of the other three star episodes from this season, but under others. I guess that just means a four-star rating system can only have so much fidelity, eventually you have to lump some varied episodes into the same category.
Wed, Feb 27, 2013, 2:55pm (UTC -6)
I thought this was an extremely good episode. 3.5 to 4 stars. I am just now watching this series, and I had no idea it got so good. Why didn't more people talk about it? I like both the A and B stories.

At first it seemed like a no-brainer to find a cure to the Jem'Hadar addiction, but O'Brien brought up an interesting point: what if they use their freedom to go on a rampage? The Dominion at least is not actively invading the Alpha Quadrant. How do we know which situation is better? This is a Prime Directive episode with no mention of the Prime Directive.

Nitpick: Dr. Bashir knew a heck of a lot about Jem'Hadar physiology from a prior episode and could even synthesize the drug. In another episode, he would have have easily been able to technobabble up a cure.

I hope they don't push the reset button on Bashir and O'Brien's friendship, but I'm sure they will.
Wed, Oct 23, 2013, 12:43pm (UTC -6)
Another solid episode. Season 4 starts very strong.

Sat, May 24, 2014, 5:07am (UTC -6)
O'brien really gets on my last nerve in this ep. Bashir is his commanding officer. He should have obeyed Bashir. Bashir even gave him the option to leave. I don't care if Obrien thought he was saving bashir's life. He never would have acted this way toward Picard or even Sisko. He didn't respect Bashir. He talked down to him and yelled at him. I find obrien yells a lot at people. He's kind of grumpy. Bashir should have brought obrien up on charges and we could have had a few episodes of obrien in the brig. Very disappointed in the chief in this one.
Tue, Aug 5, 2014, 11:10am (UTC -6)
I have a problem with Sisko here:

"SISKO: And I do encourage vigilance in my officers. But remember, Odo is chief of security on this station, and you're the strategic operations officer. Your primary duty is to coordinate all Starfleet activity in this sector, not to catch smugglers.
WORF: Understood. I will not let this matter interfere with my duties.
SISKO: Very well. Dismissed."

Worf's response dodged Sisko's direction. "Very well. Dismissed" let's Worf off the hook. Poor leadership there. But then we wouldn't have had a "B" story. :-)

While Goran'Agar is an outstanding character, Obrien takes a huge step back IMO.

Obrien's inability to see past his war experience with the Cardassian's here and see the bigger picture is puzzling and disappointing. Not expected from the "seasoned" Obrien. It’s obvious that Bashir’s life wasn’t in danger as they could have killed him easily at any point.

I also have an issue with Bashir's recognition of the situation regarding Goran'Agar. It is revealed in the beginning that Goran'Agar had no tube, so despite what he has said (his presence on this planet, blah, blah), he has NEVER been addicted. What did Goran'Agar do, pull his tube out? Did Bashir even ask? Pretty difficult I imagine because it's grown as part of the body. Bashir didn't even suggest that Goran'Agar was never addicted until the end.

I can see a situation where if Obrien hadn’t acted like a child, it’s possible that Bashir and Obrien could have convinced Goran’Agar to return to DS9 with them.

Who fixed the crashed shuttle?

Scott MacDonald was outstanding as Goran’Agar. “Die with Honor!!” …. No wait, “Victory is Life!!”

2.5 stars for me.
Mon, Aug 18, 2014, 8:06pm (UTC -6)
O'Brien is right. The doctor is a short-sighted idealistic fool. The only facts that he has available to him is that they were shot down and are being forced to help under the threat of death.

Helping someone like that isn't trendy or cool. It's ridiculous.
Mon, Aug 18, 2014, 10:00pm (UTC -6)
Better than being dead I suppose. I guess finding a way to rid the Jem'Hadar of the need to white isn't cool.
Tue, Aug 19, 2014, 10:40am (UTC -6)
Yanks, I'm about 102% sure Goran'Agar pulled his tube out, ya.

"GORAN'AGAR: It was not by choice. Three years ago, I was on a ship that crashed on this world. The rest of the crew died and I was left with only enough white to sustain me for three days. I rationed my supply and managed to stretch out the drug for eight days, and then it was gone, and I was ready to die."

Unless he had a magically special way to take the white, he used to take it... ergo he had a tube.
Tue, Aug 19, 2014, 10:45am (UTC -6)
Ah, very good Robert. Thanks!
Sat, Nov 15, 2014, 9:16pm (UTC -6)
I totally agree with DLPB. Julian is an idiot. The Dominion has already told them that the Federation is the enemy they have already killed many Bajoran and Federation citizens in the Gamma quadrant, why was Julian so ready to commit suicide over this one incident? Being a good doctor and healer doesn't give him the right to force Miles to make a bad decision. All through DS9, Julian has made ridiculous statements because of his lack of understanding of the predicament they were in, such as, when the Defiant crew were going to rescue Dukat and the council members, he wanted to remind Sisko that he wasn't suppose to use the cloaking device in the Alpha quadrant. He could be such a meathead at times.
Sun, Jan 25, 2015, 8:46am (UTC -6)
@MsV But that is what makes Julian a good doctor. He has to put saving lives over war strategy. He is idealistic, of course, but that is what he is supposed to be when it comes to saving lives. I can understand both sides, but ultimately I would try to help to, as Julian did, because no matter how terrible the Jem'Hadar are, I am not cut to kill or let die. I admire O'Brien for his strength, though, because it is a hard decision.
However, I agree with @Quarky: O'Brien would never do this to Sisko or Picard, probably not even to Worf or Riker. Even if he believed they were making the wrong decision, he would have obeyed. He doesn't respect Julian as an officer because he is young and somehow naïve, and I think he even resents him a little for having a higher rank. Their friendship is always tainted by this slight paternal attitude from Miles.
Thu, Feb 12, 2015, 5:21am (UTC -6)
Hey Halane I understand your point of view, my oldest son feels just like you do about Julian. I just think being a good doctor (best Star Trek doctor ever) doesn't mean you have to be a fool. Julian changed quite a bit during the war, he still was an excellent doctor, but he matured and common sense kicked in.
Tue, Mar 3, 2015, 9:39am (UTC -6)
Did no one notice the title Hippocratic Oath? This is a deeply moving episode of the ethical dilemmas doctors face. A mature character study of Bashir, played superbly by Siddig, by far the most accomplished actor on DS9.Must be the British drama school training.O'Brien comes across as a moron by comparison, mindlessly phasering his way out of everything. This episode is light years greater than the moronic The Visitor.
Sun, May 17, 2015, 2:24am (UTC -6)
I have to agree with @Quarky. Obrien has always been a bit of a dick to Bashir but this episode was too much. He disobeys his orders and talks down to him. He treats him like a child and has no respect for him as an officer. He single handedly sabotaged a mission that would likely have divided the dominion and gave the federation a tactical advantage. And in the end Bashir is still talking about playing darts in few days? Their friendship should have been over. He should bought him up on charges or at the very least threated him with court martial if it happened again. I really hope there is a future episode where Bashir just gets fed up and puts him in his place.
Tue, Aug 18, 2015, 12:03pm (UTC -6)
Can anyone clue me in on why any man would choose to marry a woman like Keiko? She is rude, overbearing, obnoxious, and comes across as some kind of condescending man-hater, or feminazi. Seriously, every time I see her interact with O'Brien I am hoping he tells her to go find some other fool to trample on. Was it the writers desire to make her so selfish and condescending?
Thu, Aug 27, 2015, 8:06pm (UTC -6)
We have commenters saying O'Brien is clearly right and Bashir is an idiot; we also have commenters saying Bashir is totally correct and O'Brien is all in the wrong.

Clearly the writers did a good job; this is a real dilemma with both sides having points in their favor. With the stakes so high, the characters were willing to risk their friendship to do what they believe in.

If Bashir was right, curing the addiction could lead to peace, saving countless lives. If O'Brien was right, curing the addiction could lead to never-ending war (perhaps Jem'Hadar never make peace once freed from control) that would cost countless lives. We don't know which one is truly correct.
Thu, Oct 1, 2015, 11:30am (UTC -6)
I liked how the episode started out letting you think it was gonna be another Chief-Doc-Bromance and then subverted it by pitting them against each other, culminating in Bashir pulling rank. Nice!

"Can anyone clue me in on why any man would choose to marry a woman like Keiko? She is rude, overbearing, obnoxious, and comes across as some kind of condescending man-hater, or feminazi"

O'Brien is the grumpiest human on Star Trek, beaten out only by Worf (the grumpiest Klingon) and all the Vulcans. The guy never smiles, never has a good time. Even when he's with his buddy Bashir, he's always just grumpy.

I'd become Keiko too if I were married to that.
Fri, Oct 2, 2015, 10:43am (UTC -6)
^^ He could have got that way BECAUSE he was married to Keiko too, you know! ^^

Aside from she's pretty, I'd probably want to spend 20 hours a day away from that too. These two never had any chemistry (I've said this before, and it's still true). A weird pairing that they probably never thought would have lasted more than a couple episodes on TNG but of course expanded the crap out of things eventually.
William B
Sun, Oct 25, 2015, 6:58pm (UTC -6)
Yeah, so, I've been meaning to do a writeup of this for a while but I keep getting stuck. Suffice it to say that I liked this one a lot. The biggest problems I have with it have to do with rushed aspects of the Jem'Hadar behaviour, some of which could not really be helped and some of which could probably have been dealt with better by eliminating the Worf subplot (which was okay but did not need to be in this episode). I will *hopefully* come back to this, but for a quick summary, note the way Bashir finds himself attached to Goran'Agar, who turns out to be some kind of mutant, genetically different in some way, nonviolent relative to the Jem'Hadar mean, forward-thinking, wanting to bring in a new era; O'Brien does not exctly like him, but the person who understands O'Brien the best (and vice versa) is the "ordinary Jem'Hadar" second, who is a veteran with a sense of duty, propriety, and order from the past. As well as using the Jem'Hadar as a backdrop, this is arguably the first time that the Bashir/O'Brien dynamic leads to a good to great story: Bashir is exceptional and elitist, progressive and bleeding heart, forward-thinking and foolish, whereas O'Brien is stable and ordinary, sensible and reactionary, steady and closed-minded. They are both brilliant in their way, but Bashir has his head in the clouds and O'Brien is on the ground, and this is one of the best instances of Trek crafting a moral dilemma where there are two legitimate positions which are well-developed and expressed. I think this deserves a 3.5. (We'll see if I do talk about this more later.)
William B
Thu, Oct 29, 2015, 12:50pm (UTC -6)
I guess I will keep talking about this episode in increments. On the subplot:

There's a particularly funny line of dialogue here:

SISKO: And I do encourage vigilance in my officers. But remember, Odo is chief of security on this station, and you're the strategic operations officer. Your primary duty is to coordinate all Starfleet activity in this sector, not to catch smugglers.

This line is meant to, in-story, remind Worf that he is not security chief anymore, but it also is pure exposition, in that "Way of the Warrior" did not actually bother to define what a "strategic operations officer" is or does. And, for that matter, I'm still not clear after this episode. It does seem to me that Worf is now doing something of what Sisko was doing in, say, "The Maquis" -- being expected to coordinate with other people nearby on, uh, "strategic operations." And I get the idea that this job is necessary now that there are so many conflicts about which DS9 is at the centre. But the show does not really go out of its way to explain why this position suddenly exists, or what exactly Worf's day-to-day duties are.

Anyway, while the ending has Worf chastened and Odo smug, it's notable that it really *is* partly Odo's fault. Even if you argue that Odo owed Worf no professional courtesy to explain what his plan was, which I can see Odo at least believing, Odo said he was aware of Worf's tracking him, and decided to incorporate it in his plan. The moment Odo starts to make Worf's behaviour part of his plan is the moment Odo has to stop crying foul about Worf making a legal arrest at an inconvenient time; it is sloppy for Odo not to have thought of that contingency. In order to get the twist ending, the episode also has Quark acting as inside man for Odo, which is not really traditionally what we've seen, though it's not wholly unbelievable.

Anyway, I find the subplot predictable in its "Worf fails to listen to people telling him not to step on Odo's toes, screws up" structure, and Sisko's "shades of grey" speech is a little too obviously meta for me. Still, it's mostly short, and the idea that Worf instinctively wants to continue his security job and has to learn to let someone else handle that is pretty okay. The subplot also implicitly ties in with the main plot, where Worf and Odo's approaches actually hurt each other, even though they have the same general goal, which ties in with Bashir and O'Brien coming to conflict in the A-plot; it does not live up to the A-plot for various reasons, but one is that the conflict ends with one party taken by the characters as being entirely right and the other entirely wrong, making it a more superficial "lesson" story.

Sisko working on that thing in the final scene with Worf reminds me a lot of that thing from "Dramatis Personae." "IT'S A CLOCK!"
William B
Fri, Oct 30, 2015, 7:05pm (UTC -6)
OK, so back to the A-plot...

O'Brien does a Henry Higgins-style "Why can't a woman be more like a man," and in particular wondering why Keiko can't be more like Julian. He has so much more in common with Julian, and they can avoid the conflicts that seem to crop up in marriage, right? To test whether Bashir and O'Brien have their own differences putting a strain on their closeness, they detect a signal. Officer Bashir says little as non-com O'Brien decides they should land.

What I love about the A-plot is that real effort has been made to present the pros and cons of both Bashir and O'Brien's perspectives, and to give reasons for us to side with both of them (and against both of them). The traditional chain of command gives Bashir the authority, but this is undermined through the episode -- O'Brien basically makes the decision to land on the planet, and Bashir's level of security concern is such that he instantly, without much thinking about it, gives up all their secrets (including mentioning how they found the planet in the first place, which immediately leads to the Jem'Hadar covering up the signal so that Bashir & O'Brien won't be found). Notably, though, Bashir steps forward with information to protect O'Brien, the first of many instances in which the buddy relationship between Bashir and O'Brien is inverted and shown to work against at least one of the pair's desires.

So the plot comes down to the realization that Goran'agar is free of the Ketracel-White. To *some* degree, the episode cheats in order to present its character/moral dilemma, and the cheats do weaken the episode (though not that much, IMHO). Elsewhere, the White is sometimes played like a drug, but it does not seem to be psychoactive (except when absent), and nor does it seem to reinforce blind obedience or violent intent. In this particular episode, Goran'agar's having been freed from the White is the opening to him questioning everything about the Founders, and seemingly quickly moving toward the adoption of humanistic principles. In effect, able to see that the White is a symbol of his servitude, Goran'agar is able to break free of all the Founders' conditioning.

He forces Bashir to help him, but before long it does not take too much forcing: seeing Goran'agar's progression engages Bashir as a scientist, as a humanist, and a progressive. I don't want to get too explicitly political, though it is hard to avoid with certain episodes, but I think that Goran'agar really strongly appeals to a certain worldview shared by bleeding hearts everywhere (myself included -- and the use of bleeding heart semi-pejoratively is deliberate): freed from the circumstances of his birth, freed from his oppressive religion and addictions, the violent soldier is revealed to be capable of compassion and conscience; his monstrous behaviours are not intrinsic but are the result of external circumstances, which *can be cured*. The attempt to find a cure for the White very quickly moves from Bashir trying to solve this particular issue to Bashir having dreams of providing a positive revolution in Jem'Hadar society, one which, if successful, could save the Jem'Hadar from themselves *and* save the Gamma and Alpha Quadrants from them. Goran'agar is the perfect symbol of a particular kind of optimism and positivism. Moreover, Bashir basically responds as a doctor in the purest sense: he sees a patient, he will try to cure him; he sees the possibility of making an individual or indeed a *species* better, he jumps at the chance to improve their life, immediately neglecting other concerns, in particular whether the treatment of this particular ill can create an imbalance that can do more damage in the long-run. Somewhere in here is buried the notion that what is wrong with the world is fundamentally the result of a corruption of a good, natural state, and that once treated people will be healthy personally and ethically.

And O'Brien has lived a lot longer and is skeptical. O'Brien can hardly bring himself to consider that Goran'agar could have changed or is doing anything other than manipulating Bashir. And this itself plays into the portrayals of O'Brien's slight racism against the Cardassians; this accusation both denies actual evidence of growth on the part of Goran'agar and also does not make that much sense (since when are Jem'Hadar these expert manipulators that O'Brien is suggesting?). Let's not forget, too, how much O'Brien would give up for a slave-fighter who did not quite realize he was a slave when O'Brien let himself get to know him ("Captive Pursuit"). He does not quite listen to Bashir and glides past what Bashir is saying. And while he has a point that the Jem'Hadar get out from the Dominion's control, they might be very dangerous, his contention that the Dominion is doing a good thing by keeping the Jem'Hadar under control is a weirdly frightening statement -- the idea that genuinely evil mastermind dictators controlling mad dogs is a better prospect than mad dogs going loose is a pretty uncomfortable one. And yet, obviously O'Brien is right that Goran'agar's change, even if it is legitimate, says next to nothing about the rest of the Jem'Hadar, that Bashir is getting carried very far away from what he can reasonably predict, that what little evidence they have about the Jem'Hadar points a very dim picture of them. O'Brien is the one with actual combat experience, and he recognizes that one a person starts fighting it is hard to bring them back to civilization safely ("it's not you I hate, Cardassian, it's what I became because of you"), so that even if the Jem'Hadar's violent instincts would somehow dissipate once Bashir improbably found his miracle cure, there's still the fact that they have an entire civilization built around fighting the enemy, which still happens to be them. Finally, O'Brien emphasizes that Bashir has seemingly *completely forgotten* that the whole reason they are in this situation is because Goran'agar is holding them hostage so that Bashir can work on this cure -- something which Bashir, his head in the clouds and full of dreams of saving the Jem'Hadar and the quadrant (fueled mostly by hope but with some dollops of egotism), has pretty much forgotten. Somewhere buried in O'Brien's worldview is the idea that corruption is part of the fabric of the world, and it is the job of good people to do what they can to keep things from falling apart, without ever forgetting that the natural way of things *is* that they will fall apart.

As Bashir latches onto Goran'agar, O'Brien finds a kind of kinship with the Jem'Hadar Second, who is willing to follow Goran'agar to a certain degree but eventually turns on him. Goran'agar, as I said in a previous post, turns out to be a mutant; whether or not his mutation could be used to find a cure for the other Jem'Hadar is left undiscovered, because O'Brien destroys Bashir's work. Within the episode, the Bashir : O'Brien :: Goran'agar : Second parallels suggest how Bashir is, in some ways, the Starfleet equivalent to Goran'agar: he is something of a genius, thinking far to the future, and increasingly isolated as a result of it, to the point where he eventually loses touch with the rest of his men completely. Goran'agar and Bashir both end with their respective "men" (one in Bashir's case, a series in Goran'agar's) mutinying, which is partly because they are just so forward-thinking (Goran'agar is free of the addiction! Bashir is a genius!) and partly because they stopped paying attention to anything but their narrow goal which could change the galaxy. They lose touch with reality. O'Brien and the Second come to lose faith in their respective "leaders" and view their actions as flights of fancy. Bashir maybe really is that smart, and maybe he could find a cure for the Jem'Hadar, but he lost track of all the sensible advice O'Brien gave. Meanwhile, it may be that Bashir can only find solutions that work for people who think in the particular "advanced" way he does, which might not actually be that much more advanced. If everyone were like Bashir and Goran'agar, there would be no need for O'Brien's defying Bashir's orders, but, while it's a little unpleasant for O'Brien to recognize this, he does understand the mentality of the Second. O'Brien is not the unthinking soldier that the Second is, but O'Brien's time as a soldier makes him understand the Second's behaviour a little bit more than Bashir does, and so he is able to recognize more than Bashir does why Bashir's miracle cure might not work. I am trying to choose my words carefully, but I'm also writing quickly so I want to be clear: in some respects, Bashir really is exceptional, in ways that the show develops more as it goes on, but his relative certainty about this (which ties in with his insecurities, too) often leads him to neglect that his exceptionality is only in a few specific areas, and that O'Brien has just as valid a POV as Bashir has.

And so they become more and more committed to their different views until they have to come into direct conflict. O'Brien uses his wise-middle-aged-man voice to try to put an end to the discussion, and then Bashir, for the first time, pulls rank. They fall back on different forms of authority. And then they go beyond that: since Bashir's authority is final, O'Brien simply mutinies, and finally destroys Bashir's material, which once again parallels him with the Second who mutinies against Goran'agar.

Of course, the Second is a Jem'Hadar through and through, and O'Brien is a human. O'Brien's giving up on Bashir's cause is in direct opposition to the Second's giving up on Goran'agar, because O'Brien *does not give up on Julian himself* -- in fact, his caring about Julian is probably his primary motivator. Which leads to the betrayal, where eventually O'Brien not only plans his escape against Bashir's instructions, but also destroys Bashir's work. Overall...I guess for me personally, I mostly think that O'Brien's mini-mutiny is kind of justified up until he is ready to escape, and Bashir tells him to just go. At this point, Bashir gives up the pretense that he is "really" O'Brien's SO and releases O'Brien from any requirement for Miles himself to die because of Bashir's high-risk mission. This goes against the chain of command, and I am not trying to articulate that this is how a military organization should be run, but on some basic level I think that Bashir's plan is sufficiently risky, and O'Brien is sufficiently experienced, that I give him a certain amount of leeway to change the plan to protect himself. However, that is as far as I extend it -- at this point in the story, O'Brien destroys Bashir's work, and as he explains later, this is so that Bashir has no reason to stay (and thus no reason to die).

Now...O'Brien raised a point earlier that the Jem'Hadar unchained might be a greater risk. But that is not his reason here: he is Bashir's friend and he does not want Bashir to die. And that is deeply sympathetic, and if it were a matter of purely intervening in Bashir's suicide (ahem, file this point away) that would be one thing. But Bashir genuinely *has* a goal here, which could have good results, whose probability of success O'Brien is not really in a position to evaluate. As far as I'm concerned, if Bashir is willing to risk *his own life* for a noble cause, it is not up to O'Brien to stop him. That O'Brien cares about Bashir is undeniable, but O'Brien also sort of treats Bashir like a child who does not and cannot know what is good for him. This, to some extent, is justified by Bashir's various indications that he does not exactly know what he is doing -- which muddies the waters (and is part of why I don't particularly hold O'Brien's rebellion up to this point much against him). But Bashir is still an adult, and, more to the point, while he may be a lousy soldier, he is a brilliant doctor, to the point where O'Brien really cannot understand the nature of Bashir's work and how likely it is to succeed.

In saving Bashir but destroying Bashir's work, is O'Brien proving that he really does love Bashir, or that he does not understand him at all? In staying behind on what may have been a fool's errand, was Bashir basically indicating he cared more about some science project/alien social revolution more than his best friend and his own life? The ending maintains a balance, somehow: Bashir turns out to be right about Goran'agar's honour, but O'Brien is the one who understands Goran'agar's dedication to duty. (Note: I could have done without O'Brien explaining what Goran'agar meant about his soldiers WHILE JUST STANDING THERE, GET TO THE RUNABOUT FIRST GUYS.) O'Brien says Bashir can bring him up on charges, and Bashir does not quite know what all this means. There is something a little pat in the final conversation, when Bashir suggests that all will maybe be normal in another week, but it's still an effective scene.

While there are still some weaknesses this is actually one of my favourite episodes, with high-quality character and philosophical work. 3.5 stars.
William B
Fri, Oct 30, 2015, 7:13pm (UTC -6)
I should add, while I don't know if this episode gets followed up on directly, I do think that some of the things explored in the Bashir/O'Brien friendship come up again (at least) in "Hard Time," "Dr. Bashir, I Presume," and "Statistical Probabilities," so that I think this episode does feel comfortably a part of the series to me (even if it may not have direct effect on continuity).
Wed, Dec 2, 2015, 8:26am (UTC -6)
The beginning of the episode got on my nerves. What were Bashir and O'Brien doing in the gamma quadrant on such an extended mission that they expect to arrive back to DS9 a "few days" early? Doesn't the station need its only doctor and its chief engineer? What mission could possibly require the two of them, and only the two of them? They have no skills suited to planetary exploration or mapping.

Other than that, I thought the A plot was interesting and good.

I also liked the B plot, although I recognize the holes in it. I think I liked it because of the holes. Sisko's speech at the end: "Everyone here follows their own set of rules and if you understand their rules you understand them" is either a guide to life or a stunning admission that every character on the show is flat and predictable.
Diamond Dave
Sat, Dec 19, 2015, 8:00am (UTC -6)
Another very strong episode. Indeed, if it weren't for what amounts to a disappointingly light B-story it would be another 4 star contender.

Again, the strength of this lies in the performances rather than the fairly standard premise. A genuine difference of views strains the friendship of Bashir and O'Brien and it's all played out brilliantly - and the divergence of comments as to who was right and wrong suggests the writers got the balance completely correct. At the same time, we learn more about the Jem'Hadar, and it's entirely in keeping with DS9's darker premise that there's no Hugh type resolution here - Goran'Agar could be the catalyst for change in the whole Dominion but is never given the chance.

While it's fun to watch Worf and Odo butting heads, there's nothing much to detain us here. 3.5 stars overall.
Mon, Mar 28, 2016, 8:15am (UTC -6)
O'Brien and Bashir crash on a planet in the Gamma Quadrant that just happens to be where a unit of rogue Jem'Hadar are hiding while trying to free themselves from their addiction to ketracel white. What results is a fairly by-the-numbers story. Everyone knows pretty much how it's going to end - with the Jem'Hadar characters either dying or otherwise not embracing Federation principles. The intent is obviously to humanize the Jem'Hadar in some way and yet, in my opinion, the episode fails to do so. When faced with the consequences of being freed from Dominion control (becoming "soft" and "weak" like Humans) the nameless Jem'Hadar decide that they would rather not get rid of their addiction. In other words, they act like stereotypical, mindless super-soldiers. Even Goran'Agar, the one who is given the most development by the episode, succumbs to this stereotypical way of thinking - refusing to abandon his men because he was their commander. For a guy who was determined to be free of the Vorta and Dominion rules, he sure seems unwilling to actually change. If he had decided to go back to DS9 with O'Brien and Bashir and seek asylum from the Federation, some "humanizing" would have taken place. Instead, he acts just like I expected him to.

This A-plot, however, isn't bad, just predictable. What makes it good is that it involves two main cast characters at diametric odds with each other - something rather rare for Trek. Having O'Brien and Bashir come to two completely different conclusions allows some good moral questioning and examination to take place. Given how the Jem'Hadar (even Goran'Agar) eventually act, however, I think I side firmly with the Chief on this matter. And I have to give massive props to the writers for having O'Brien just straight up destroy Bashir's work instead of working to find some kind of compromise or non-violent solution to the situation - something that would be so typically Trek.

Meanwhile, over in the B-plot, Worf acts like a complete dipshit who doesn't do his job (gee, two senior officers are overdue from the Gamma Quadrant, that's not job for someone tasked with strategic/tactical planning, is it?!) and who fails to understand the concept of an undercover investigation. Joking aside, this is actually the part of "Hippocratic Oath" I like the best - for two reasons. First, it allows Worf to slowly acclimate to life on the station. Second, it's kind of a subtle jab at how Security Officers often function on Trek. SFDebris has often complained about Security and Tactical duties being performed by the same person and I have agree with him. It makes no sense for the person firing the weapons to also deal with ship-side security threats. Worf has spent seven years in Security doing just that. In fact, he's spent most of that time only being a Tactical Officer. Now he has to get used to the idea that these two very different duties are handled by two different officers. Odo handles things like gem smuggling while Worf deals with tactics and strategy. And watching Odo slap Worf down by basically saying "look you dumbass, you're not my boss and I don't usually broadcast secret investigations" is genuinely entertaining, I can't lie.

Sun, Apr 24, 2016, 11:43am (UTC -6)
The reasons O'Brien and Bashir give for their own points of view involve a lot of speculation. As Picard said in an episode of TNG, "Can we confine our discussion to the FACTS?" No, I guess not. O'Brien is convinced the Jem'Hadar, once freed of the drug, will go on a killing spree; Bashir thinks anything is possible. Since Bashir isn't asserting that he knows what the future will be, but O'Brien is, the latter has the burden of proof. Problem? They wouldn't know either way unless Bashir had found a cure.

I'd bet if the writers went the other way with this episode, most of the Jem'Hadar freed of the white wouldn't let go of their traditional warrior culture mentality. If Goran'Agar was somehow spared (something the writers of DS9 aren't known to do to guest stars), the rest would've went on and tried to bring others into their fold. Either the writers would bring them back later by forcing them to work with the Federation or have them killed off by the Dominion (like they did to the Maquis) because they "don't know what to do with them".

Still, it would've been awesome to have seen a Jem'Hadar regular in the show by this point. As long as they don't go completely stupid like the writers of Wing Commander III, they could've done some amazing stories with the character. Then maybe we could've avoided the utter garbage that was "Let He Who Is Without Sin" in season 5 in exchange for a Garan'Agar-centric episode.
William H
Wed, Sep 28, 2016, 9:20am (UTC -6)
The main plot seems like something of a walking back from the dark conclusion of "The Abandoned". Goran'agar as a character suggests that the Jem'Hadar aren't purely creatures of their programming. Its an interesting story, though in the end it discusses a lot but doesn't really go anywhere. And I do think Bashir is a bit too forgiving, given how far O'Brien ultimately goes.

I'm really not keen on the B plot. Worf acts like an idiot, Odo does too but the story doesn't really acknowledge it. Then its wrapped up with a rather weak excuse for Quark's get out of jail free card and some preaching of the shades of grey creed.
Thu, Jul 13, 2017, 9:10pm (UTC -6)
DS9 S4 is off to a terrific start with this episode following on "The Visitor". As for "Hippocratic Oath" - it's great that we see 2 strongly opposing views from 2 buddies. Can see pros/cons for both O'Brien and Bashir -- and both take very extreme views of their stances which emphasize how different their views of the situation are.

O'Brien is out of line clearly/insurbordination, but he understands the military aspect of the situation whereas Bashir's role as a doctor puts them both in danger. To me, it's not clear what the better solution is for the longer term and getting a leg up on the Dominion. But that should become 2ndary after self-preservation.

I liked the B-plot with Worf/Odo. In a way it is similar to the conflict between O'Brien/Bashir with Odo really being in charge but Worf interfering in the end (kind of like O'Brien phasering Bashir's work). The B-plot is good as it shows Worf finding his feet in his role (hard to define exactly). Have to like how Odo is no-nonsense about his role and Worf's interference.

Goran'Agar's character comes through well and does a lot for giving the episode a deeper understanding of the Jem'Hadar. But I have to say I'm a bit confused with how he got over his addiction and why he shoots one of his subordinates in the end.

I'd give "Hippocratic Oath" a strong 3 stars -- nearly 3.5 stars. Maybe O'Brien/Bashir getting on good terms so quickly in the shuttle is a bit much -- would have been better to see them mumbling arguments at each other. But plenty of strong points to this episode.
Sat, Aug 5, 2017, 11:08pm (UTC -6)
2.5 stars. I prefer episodes to be not so uneven

I've many times said I didn't much care for DS9's Fluffy B plots. Most of the time couldn't hold my attention and if they did then they held no rewatch value. Most of the time they all came across as ho hum padding that ultimately detracted from an episode. The worf subplot did nothing for me. I also felt a Worf was a much better character on TNG than on DS9. He mainly was defined by his relationship with Jadzia.

The A plot was much better. It was more involving and the reason I watch Star Trek however It wasn't stellar. It wasn't great And I didn't really want to see the Jem'Hadar humanized.
Sat, Aug 5, 2017, 11:14pm (UTC -6)
I also think it is absolutely stupid for the Federation to keep violating Do union territory by entering the Gamma Quadrant. We have seen many times the Federation respect boundaries and not get involved in internal matters ie the Cardassian occupation of Bajor. So why they keep going into the Gamma Quadrant is ridiculous. Not to mention obrien and bashir are on a runabout which is no match for a Jem'Hadar ship
Sat, Apr 28, 2018, 5:32pm (UTC -6)
I was about to say how underrated this episode was, but after seeing the overwhelmingly positive comments I am glad to say I stand corrected. A truly good episode where we have two protagonists offering opposing views in a very human manner that makes it natural and unforced for the audience to understand both points of view. Of course, the fact that the two are already well established personas only gives weight to the whole conflict. The episode also offered something that in my opinion was missing from the whole Dominion War arc, and that was humanizing the enemy and I wish we could've seen more ventures like this one into the Jem'Hadar pysche.

The seemingly unrelated and, truth be told, weaker B plot does round up the main theme of the episode and that is trust. I don't think the focus should be on ketracel-white or how the Dominon controls its soldiers as that has been (or will be) discussed in other episodes, yet it should be on the pairing of our protagonists and the conflict it produces in both cases. Bashir asked O'Brien to trust him despite O'Brien's different perception of the situation in the same way Worf should've trusted Odo and have faith that he was up to the task.

As if that wasn't enough, the final exchange between O'Brien and Goran'Agar wins the show by itself:

"You are a soldier?"
"I have been."
"Then you explain."
Sun, Aug 19, 2018, 4:53pm (UTC -6)
Yet another knockout here in the renaissance of DS9. The O'Brien and Bashir plot in "Hippocratic Oath" is first rate. Though one might empathize with one viewpoint over another, the episode doesn't really take sides, allowing the viewer to make their own decision. I tend to agree with Bashir-he had a very strong chance of helping the Jem'Hadar, and O'Brien certainly shouldn't have disobeyed direct orders from a superior office. Yet O'Brien has a point-the Jem'Hadar really haven't proven themselves to be trustworthy. Ultimately though, he might be allowing his own experiences in war to color his opinion, projecting his own guilt about what he had to do onto the Jem'Hadar. Fascinating stuff. The Odo and Worf material isn't up to par with the rest of the episode, but it's nice that DS9 gives attention to its Season 4 addition without letting said addition overwhelm the show.

3.5 stars.
Samuel Lawrence
Tue, Sep 11, 2018, 4:14am (UTC -6)
Love this one. Just a theory here which I think would be consistent with, if not proved by, the content of the episode - maybe all the Jem'Hadar actually need to do to break the addiction and produce ketracel white internally is to stop taking the drug externally. They might all have some internal system which produces the drug, which temporarily shuts down when they get it from an external source, or it may be that the Dominion supplies them with a higher level of it than their body needs, so they become dependent on that higher level. (Bashir says to Goran'Agar that his body is producing exactly the amount of white he needs to survive). Don't forget that while they are genetically engineered, they must have been bred from some other naturally evolved creature - maybe production and internal consumption of ketracel white is part of that creature's natural process that the Dominion found a way to produce externally, then they manipulated their use of it.

It's implied in other episodes that if denied access to the drug they tend to go insane and kill each other - it may be that the reason Goran'Agar didn't die is just because there were no other Jem'Hadar around to kill him. So the lethal factor in losing the drug is actually the horrible withdrawal symptoms causing the Jem'Hadar to go insane in the period before their body achieves its natural ketracel white balance.

Just a fan theory - but doesn't it seem like something the Dominion would do? Telling the Jem'Hadar that only the Dominion can supply them with this vital substance, when in fact their bodies can produce it themselves.
Samuel Lawrence
Tue, Sep 11, 2018, 4:17am (UTC -6)
This would also explain why Goran'Agar and Bashir can't find an answer to the problem in the environment - the planet had nothing to do with Goran'Agar's ability to break the addiction. It was inside him all along, to use the cheesiest possible phrasing.
Mon, Oct 22, 2018, 11:04am (UTC -6)
Going back through all seven seasons, I relished revisiting this underrated gem of an episode. While the B plot keeps it from being a four-star outing, 3.5 stars is definitely warranted.

I won't rehash the entire A plot but, being a former Marine, I want to weigh in on the O'Brien insubordination aspect. The chain of command is a strict one but it has limits. Subordinates need not follow orders from a superior if they feel the order is morally wrong or, for lack of a better phrase, dangerous to the overall mission. What is the overall mission? To protect the Federation from the Dominion. Morally there's nothing wrong with Bashir's orders; quite the contrary, it is the humanitarian thing to do. What Bashir fails to adequately consider is the consequences of freeing the Jem'Hadar from their addiction. He's simply too caught up in doing what doctor's do to see the bigger picture.

For the sake of argument, let's transpose Klingons in the place of the Jem'Hadar. Arguably the two races are very alike: violent, warlike, duty-bound, the very essence of a stereotypical warrior. This appears to be a racial trait of Klingons, something most likely genetically hardwired into them. Suppose a peace-loving, pacifist, non-violent Klingon was born due to genetic mutation. Do you think for a moment other Klingons, given the choice of adopting the mutation, would do so? Of course not! And the Jem'Hadar are even more hard-line than the Klingons in this respect.

I must admit I was rooting for Bashir despite this, which speaks to the effectiveness of the episode. I felt empathy for the Jem'Hadar, being engineered for a single, disposable purpose by the Founders. But the bigger picture cannot be ignored. Their very engineering almost certainly precludes reform. Their entire existence is based not just on obedience but war. I doubt any reasonable number of them could even conceive of existing any other way. Absent the Founders, they would likely engage in homicidal raids just to have something to do. They have no culture, no civilization. They are unfortunate tools of the Founders. A tool cannot transcend its purpose no matter how hard Bashir wishes it to be so.

In the end, I think O'Brien did the right thing. While it's possible his actions passed up a chance at galactic peace, the risk of galactic Armageddon was simply too much. I wonder if Bashir's decision would've been very different had this episode taken place after something like "The Siege of AR-558". O'Brien has been through something like that; Bashir hasn't. Experiences like that tend to beat the idealism out of you (trust me, I know).
Mon, Oct 22, 2018, 11:08am (UTC -6)
Oh one more thought: O'Brien makes a parting comment on how Bashir could bring him up on charges. While true, does anyone realistically believe Starfleet would punish O'Brien? Especially after the loss of the Odyssey and the tens of thousands of deaths caused by the Jem'Hadar? The more likely outcome would be *Bashir* being brought up on charges of conspiring with the enemy!
Peter G.
Mon, Oct 22, 2018, 11:13am (UTC -6)
@ Prisoner881,

Nice write-up. Luckily, this point -

"The more likely outcome would be *Bashir* being brought up on charges of conspiring with the enemy!"

isn't entirely forgotten later in the series.
Mon, Oct 22, 2018, 3:01pm (UTC -6)
@ Peter G.

Thank you for the kind comments.

The Jem'Hadar are essentially sentient biological weapons, created by the Founders for the sole purpose of fighting and dying for the Founders. Their sentience exists only to make them more effective at that purpose and is in all other ways suppressed through genetic conditioning and controlled via Ketracel White. These latter attributes are analogous to the safety interlocks on a nuclear weapon. Remove the safeties and you still have a deadly weapon whose purpose has not changed, only now it is less easily controlled and more easily perverted.

Were the Jem'Hadar a race with millions of years of evolution, a culture, a history, politics, a true *civilization* instead of genetically engineered bipedal tanks then reforming them might be possible. Even the Borg can occasionally be reasoned with. The Jem'Hadar cannot. Their mission is war and conquest and they have no other purpose because they were *designed* that way, just as a nuclear weapon is *designed* to destroy a target. Bashir lost sight of this. Idealism does that and Bashir is (was?) the consummate idealist. O'Brien, the realist (perhaps even the cynic) rightly saw Bashir's actions as potentially devastating to all life in the galaxy. The small chance of success and its attendant rewards were vastly overshadowed by the large chance of unleashing a vicious, capable, uncontrollable force on all other life.
Mon, Oct 22, 2018, 3:16pm (UTC -6)

What you seem to be missing, and what the episode alludes to is that the Jem Hadar might be willing to cooperate with the Federation if their shackles are cut. At the very least the Dominion would have a huge mess on its hand trying to control free Jem Hadar. Julian’s position did have merit, but the episode leaves us to decide how much. Remember O’Brien is not the clear here; he gets reprimanded for disobeying orders.
Tue, Oct 23, 2018, 12:09pm (UTC -6)
@Chrome I'm not missing that at all. What you (and Bashir) seem to overlook is the "might be willing" part and how that relates to an actual probability of happening. Let's examine it, shall we?

What do we *know* for sure thus far? That the Jem'Hadar are ruthless warriors bred, conditioned, and completely controlled by the Founders. We have a few -- a *very* few -- examples of them taking honorable stances ("Rocks and Shoals") but even these are tinged with their apparent utter servitude. This is not to imply the bulk of them are dishonorable, merely to say we have very few examples of the Jem'Hadar being anything but living weapons of the Founders. Outside of Goran'Agar, we have precisely *zero* examples of any Jem'Hadar wanting to give up their "lifestyle." And there are a *lot* of Jem'Hadar.

Could they have some desire to be free, a desire that could manifest into overthrowing the Founders and becoming their own people living peacefully with their neighbors? Perhaps, but the Federation has no data whatsoever to back this up.

It comes down to brutal probabilities and risk assessment, something a good officer and Marine must constantly engage in when deciding what to do. Bashir, the idealist, either didn't do this or vastly overestimated the chances of success based on a single test case (Goran'Agar). O'Brien, the realist, objectively evaluated the risk/reward scenario and realized Bashir's plans, while laudable, had a low chance of succeeding and huge associated risk of unleashing the Jem'Hadar.

The episode brilliantly showcased the concept of "there is no perfect solution, only varying degrees of imprefect solutions." Star Trek, under Roddenberry, hewed close to the utopia vision which, I think, is almost childishly simplistic. There are rare occasions where you can make a difficult decision that has no downsides and wraps everything up in a pretty bow. This is not one of them. By forcing Bashir and O'Brien into this situation we see the moral complexity inherent in most facets of life instead of the idealistic paradise earlier shows presented.
Tue, Oct 23, 2018, 12:27pm (UTC -6)

No, I get it. Bashir’s not 100% right either for the reasons you stated. That’s the conflict.

I think my point still stands that the Dominion would have its hands full trying to corral rogue Jem’Hadar and that reason alone is worth freeing them of the white dependence. It would be like giving people in a repressive regime a means to fight their oppressors. Surely you can appreciate that?
William B
Tue, Oct 23, 2018, 12:30pm (UTC -6)
I think one thing that's interesting here is that Bashir basically really is focused on his one patient -- Goran'agar -- and O'Brien is focused on the big picture. However, it's actually not unambiguously true that Bashir and O'Brien are actually even correct *on that basis*. Bashir helping Goran'agar might actually get him killed, as we see. And I think Chrome is correct that while it's by no means certain, it's at least worth considering that a rebellious Jem'Hadar might end up hurting the Dominion and helping its allies more than the controlled one we see.
Thu, Oct 25, 2018, 7:46pm (UTC -6)
@Chrome how would the Dominion have its hands full when their entire army is gone? The only armed force the Founders in the Gamma Quadrant have is the Jem'Hadar. "Hippocratic Oath" takes place long before the Founders form any alliances in the Alpha Quadrant. A Jem'Hadar revolt would immediately reduce the founders to powerlessness. Far from having their hands full, they'd be the first to fall.

The Romans faced the same issues for the same reasons: they were outnumbered by their slaves. The Third Servile Revolt led by Spartacus terrified the Romans in ways no military force ever did for that reason. No wonder the Founders took such drastic steps to enforce Jem'Hadar obedience. If the Founders are terrified of a free Jem'Hadar, don't you think it's logical for the Federation to be at least as afraid? The alternative is to bet on the kindness, generosity, and mercy of the Jem'Hadar and that's lunacy given what we know about them.
Thu, Oct 25, 2018, 8:02pm (UTC -6)

This is an increasingly hypothetical scenario but presumably some Jem Hadar like serving for the Founders and would remain loyal. In any event, if the Dominion is coming to the AQ as they have been threatening to since season 3, it would be better for the AQ if they were a divided force. And yes, we do see rogue Jem Hadar in “To The Death” and Jem’Hadar who won’t follow orders in “By Inferno’s Light”.
Fri, Oct 26, 2018, 2:18pm (UTC -6)
@Chrome the most likely scenario for a Jem'Hadar revolt would not be an instantaneous quadrant-wide revolt but one that spreads over time. I agree, presumably such a revolt would pit loyalists versus rebels for at least a short period of time and perhaps even for an extended time. In that scenario it would definitely impede the Founder's strategy for dominating the Alpha Quadrant.

However, what comes next is of prime importance: who wins such a revolt? I will make the argument that no matter who wins, the Alpha Quadrant loses.

Suppose the Founders prevail? They would ruthlessly eliminate any vestiges of rebels -- as they did to the Maquis -- and we'd be right back to where we started: a unified Dominion with plans to dominate the galaxy. And you can bet they'd remedy any deficiencies in controlling the Jem'Hadar the second time around. There would be no second rebellion. Perhaps the Federation could use this interval to strengthen their defenses or even mount a counter-offensive, but I've always felt the Federation was no match militarily for the Dominion no matter how much preparation they made. The Jem'Hadar are simply too numerous, easily bred, requiring no training, and too effective for the Federation to ever counter, period.

Suppose the rebels win and destroy the Founders? Then we're left with another bad outcome. Based upon the behavior we see in "The Abandoned" and other glimpses we get into Jem'Hadar psychology, the Jem'Hadar *like* war, killing, and destruction. They have no sense of self-preservation either, being perfectly willing to die en masse if it serves the mission or even to make a point (as they did against the USS Odyssey). Having them freely roaming the Gamma and Alpha Quadrants is a terrifying prospect. Honestly I think they'd be more fearsome than the Borg.

The *only* case where Bashir's efforts are preferable is if he can rid the Jem'Hadar of their White addiction (which seems possible) *and* they develop and spread a psychological framework that is diametrically opposed to everything we know about them. It's the latter that trips the idea up. You'd have a better chance at convincing a virus not to kill its host.
Fri, Oct 26, 2018, 2:31pm (UTC -6)
One last salient point: let us assume there is a magical way Bashir could instantly and completely convert all Jem'Hadar in the galaxy into those who think like Goran'Agar. That is, after all, what Bashir is trying to do, right?

Don't forget Goran'Agar's initial reaction to finding Bashir and O'Brien: he ordered their immediate execution. The only thing that stopped him was finding out Bashir was a doctor. In other words, Goran'Agar was perfectly willing to murder anyone he came across who was not immediately useful to his goals. This is not even remotely a live-and-let-live philosophy. It's just a slightly more reserved form of genocide made palatable by casting Goran'Agar as a sympathetic character. Suppose a colony ship carrying hundreds or thousands of civilians had crashed there instead of Bashir and O'Brien? What do you suppose Goran'Agar would've done with them? It shouldn't take long to arrive at an answer, and that answer would tell you all you need to know about whether O'Brien made the right choice or not.
Fri, Oct 26, 2018, 2:40pm (UTC -6)
“Suppose the Founders prevail? They would ruthlessly eliminate any vestiges of rebels -- as they did to the Maquis -- and we'd be right back to where we started”

Right, and my argument has been that even in that scenario the Federation benefits from slowing down the Dominion’s incursions for a time.

I get that you really don’t like Bashir’s position here. But I think the writers want us to consider that neither O’Brien or Bashir are entirely correct. Like William B pointed out, Bashir’s too invested in helping his patient to see that he’s getting in over his head. And by the same token, O’Brien’s so convinced there’s no use curing the Jem’Hadar that he never considers the cure could be strategically important.

What I’m getting at is one can fall in either character’s camp, but in the end there really isn’t a clean win-win solution.
Fri, Oct 26, 2018, 2:52pm (UTC -6)
Sorry! These ideas just keep coming to me!

The irony (and lesson) here is that by defeating the Dominion, the Jem'Hadar get their best chance at the freedom Bashir hoped for. A peaceful Dominion could assist Bashir in removing the White addiction whilst simultaneously using their genetic "obey the Founders" imperative to order them to change their ways. The latter may or may not be very successful given Odo's lack of success in "The Abandoned" but one might suspect the Founders have a better understanding of how their creations tick and can thus do a better job.

This raises yet another question though, one Bashir doesn't seem to have even remotely considered: how would a free, peaceful Jem'Hadar go on? They are, after all, a *created* race. They do not breed and seem biologically incapable of doing so. Without the cloning technology of the Founders, there would be no new Jem'Hadar and within a few centuries -- assuming they have a fixed life span and aren't biologically immortal -- there would be no more Jem'Hadar. This paints an interesting scenario of mass suicide by the Jem'Hadar if they ever overthrew and destroyed the Founders!
Fri, Oct 26, 2018, 3:03pm (UTC -6)

"Right, and my argument has been that even in that scenario the Federation benefits from slowing down the Dominion’s incursions for a time."

I'm forced to quote a very cynical but lovable character from a different (yet eerily similar) sci-fi franchise: "No boom today. Boom tomorrow. There's always a boom tomorrow. What? Look, somebody's got to have some damn perspective around here!" Delay in genocidal conquest still ends up with genocidal conquest. The Federation doesn't have the belly, the spine, or the numbers to fight the kind of war needed to successfully defeat the Dominion. It's only the artificial constriction of the wormhole (and the aliens living in it) which prevented them from subjugating the entire Alpha Quadrant on a whim.

Am I a heretic for bringing a Babylon 5 quote into this? ;^)
Fri, Oct 26, 2018, 3:05pm (UTC -6)
Just in case you didn't get the B5 reference:
Wed, Nov 7, 2018, 12:09pm (UTC -6)
Teaser : **.5, 5%

Worf has identified one of Quark's customers as a renown smuggler. Kira decides to confront him on this extracurricular activity; Worf is certain that the smuggler and Quark are up to something. Kira assumes that he's probably right but that Odo's choice to let a man with a criminal record—Quark, that is—run his business freely is questionable. And you know, while we as the audience may be inclined to give Quark the benefit of the doubt, thanks in no small part to Shimmerman's charm, Worf has a point. Quark's antics have actually endangered the lives of people on the station before. The original conceit of keeping Quark's open to stimulate the station's economy seems pretty moot at this point, too. Why *isn't* Quark in jail?

Meanwhile, because nothing ever has to make sense, Bashir and O'Brien are returning, alone, from a survey mission in the GQ. Right. Why WOULDN'T Starfleet send two officers by themselves into the territory of a hostile power bent on conquering the universe whose leaders can imitate any shape? I mean, that planet HAD to be surveyed! Whatever. O'Brien is complaining about Keiko, who sees Miles' attempts at coping with her long absences as a subconscious means of returning to his bachelor days. Why is it the writers seem to have such a dim view of the O'Briens' marriage? Anyway, this bullshit leads to:

O'BRIEN: See, you understand. Now, why can't she see that? Why can't she be more like
BASHIR: More like?
O'BRIEN: Well, a man. More like a man.
BASHIR: So you wish Keiko was a man?

Yes, good. 24Th-century Utopia, DS9-style. “Heh heh heh. Yer totally, gay bro!” Thankfully, this #nohomo nonsense is interrupted by the sensors beeping. They follow the beeps to a planet with technobabble in the atmosphere. The quantum whatever sends the runabout crashing to the surface, which is class-M and full of trees. The bros exit the crashed vessel and a greeted by a party of Jem'Hadar.

Act 1 : ***.5, 17%

The Jem'Hadar question the pair. The dialogue reveals that they are quite intimately familiar with Starfleet operations, from the runabout's slight modifications to the significance of the different coloured uniforms and rank insignias. The First determines that the pair may be useful in some way, violating what we assume to be established norms amongst the Jem'Hadar, namely executing them or using them in an exercise which ends with executing them. Got to love a two-party system.

Back on DS9, Worf has brought his concerns about Odo directly to Sisko. Odo, naturally, says that everything's under control and essentially dismisses himself, with Sisko's blessing. Sisko gently reminds Worf that he is not the chief of security and that he should probably mind his own business.

We cut back to the GQ where Bashir has deduced that the Jem'Hadar need a doctor, which is the only reason they've been kept alive.

O'BRIEN: If that's true, Julian, don't help them. Anything that weakens them increases our chances of getting out of here.

We were reminded during the First's interrogation that Miles has combat experience against the Cardassians, making his advice here seem tactically-sound. But, I find this reasoning horribly simplistic. We don't know a whole lot about the Jem'Hadar yet. We have seen that their instinct for violence is genetically-programmed in “The Abandoned,” but Bashir did not have the chance to experiment with this programming thanks to Sisko's dumbassery. He may not get the chance, however, has the First hauls him away from O'Brien.

Act 2 : ***.5, 17%

Bashir is brought to a laboratory and ordered to perform research. The First gives the enzyme the Founders addicted all Jem'Hadar to a name: Ketracel-white, and also reveals that it is the Vorta who control the supply. In fact, these Jem'Hadar have come to this planet specifically to escape the Dominion:

GORAN'AGAR: Surprised because a Jem'Hadar soldier might want something more than the life of a slave? You know nothing about the Jem'Hadar except that you fear us.

The First wants Bashir to cure them of their addiction (as he himself has been). It turns out this one Jem'Hadar had previously crashed on this planet, run out of the drug and lived on for over a month. It isn't stated outright, but this time in isolation, free of the addictive substance was no doubt instrumental in helping creating a predilection for rebellion in this slave. He believes that something about the planet itself cured him, but it has not helped the rest of his men. There are now only days before they run out of white.

Goran'agar introduces Bashir to a group of Jem'Hadar suffering withdrawal.

GORAN'AGAR: As a Federation Doctor, I know you are trained to feel sympathy and compassion for those in pain.

This is a marvellous line. We take for granted the idea that sympathy and compassion are innate qualities, part of being human. But perhaps, they are as programmed in us as is violence and obeisance are in the Jem'Hadar. In an oblique way, this gets at the heart of the Roddenberry conceit, that there is no such thing as fixed human nature; we can evolve and become better by force of will, by education and by changing the system in which we are “programmed.” Bashir agrees to try and save them, with O'Brien's help. Goran'agar warns him that after five days, they will all die, the soldiers from withdrawal, and the humans and the First from the wrath of the addicts.

On DS9, Dax briefs the remaining senior staff about continuing Klingon expansion throughout the quadrant. A nice touch is Kira's lament that her people always seem to be the target for aggressive nations trying to throw their dicks around. This intriguing rising tension is stalled by Worf giving Odo some background info he's dug up on Quark's criminal buddy, you help. Odo is genuinely grateful for the additional intelligence, but cuts Worf off at his suggestion that Odo “will” arrest the men this evening.

O'Brien is helping Bashir by tech-teching, giving away the fact that he's just trying to stall for an escape when he calls Julian “sir” in front of the Jem'Hadar. And sure enough, Miles has rigged an explosive. Bashir takes the opportunity to continue the charade and give his buddy more shit:

BASHIR: Good work, Chief. Keep this up. You may make a fine officer some day.
O'BRIEN: Thank you Lieutenant. Coming from you that means a lot to me.
BASHIR: I know. Carry on.

It's impressive that this bit of humour works so well in such a tense and serious situation; the lines flow directly from the established characters and relationships of these two men. Bashir reports that his research hasn't yielded any results yet, prompting a terse “Three days, doctor,” from Goran'agar. But uh oh, another Jem'Hadar has found the chief's explosive, and sets it off, injuring a guard. The chief, in a brazen display of stupidity, tries to make a run for it, despite a gun being held to the back of Bashir's head and a super-soldier within arm's length of himself. Well, the angered Jem'Hadar grabs the chief by the neck, refusing to stop choking him to death despite Goran'agar's orders to stop.

Act 3 : ***, 17%

O'Brien is finally released and then hauled back to the holding cell. Meanwhile, the injured soldier requires joint surgery, which isn't an option at the moment. Given his “uselessness,” he expects to be killed so the rest of the men can have his supply of drugs, but Goran'agar refuses to follow protocol in this case. His refusal to obey the decrees of the Vorta and the Dominion, choosing instead...might we call it human compassion? for his men impresses Bashir, who returns to work on the cure.

Worf, in the mean time, has taken it upon himself to monitor Quark. He stakes out the bar and witnesses the illegal transaction take place. Furious, he stampedes into Odo's office.

ODO: I perform my duties as I see fit.
WORF: You do not seem to be performing them at all.
ODO: Frankly, Commander, I'm not interested in your opinion of my job performance.

We will come back to this.

Bashir continues his research, filling Goran'agar in on the backstory from “The Abandoned.” The dialogue also serves to patch up some of the diverging backstory about the Founders between seasons 2 and 3. The Jem'Hadar regard the Founders “almost as a myth,” because they have programmed the instinctive need to serve directly into their creations. Thus, the Changelings' and Dominion's enigmatic presence in S2 can be somewhat squared with the incredibly vast and expansive nature of their empire as portrayed in S3. Somewhat. Goran'agar believes that the closest analogue the Founders represent to them to the races he's encountered/conquered would be “gods.”

GORAN'AGAR: Our gods never talk to us and they don't wait for us after death. They only want us to fight for them and to die for them.

Bashir is impressed with Goran'agar's evolution and conveys this to O'Brien in his cell. Miles has little more than sarcasm and suspicion to offer in counterpoint, believing that Bashir is being manipulated into completing his task. Bashir is ready to pursue a cure for the white-addiction in earnest, but O'Brien is incensed at the idea.

O'BRIEN: You're just guessing. You don't know how the other Jem'Hadar will react when they're off the drug. They may go marauding through the galaxy on their own. At least now the Dominion keeps them on a short leash.

This sentiment reveals the extent of Miles' privilege. Sure, these sentient beings are being chemically-enslaved into a galactic terror, but if we put our necks out for these people, I might not get to go back to the station and tinker at things in my bedroom while my wife studies flowers! There is a great irony in all of this actually—Miles' position is supported by the Prime Directive, which is never brought up in their conversation, while Bashir's position would violate Starfleet's cardinal protocol. I'm actually very frustrated that this isn't addressed, because it allows the show to paint Bashir as the naïve Federation idealist and O'Brien as the pragmatist without really delving into those assumptions. If Bashir had to make the conscious choice to violate the Prime Directive (as Kirk and Picard often had to) for moral reasons, that gives Bashir's position some weight and makes O'Brien look rather craven (which is actually how I see the argument). By leaving this dimension out of their debate, we are left with the erroneous impression that Bashir is an idealistic fool and O'Brien a hardened realist, when there isn't evidence to support this. There is no reason to believe that the Jem'Hadar would just run amok if cured of their addiction. All the evidence suggests that Bashir is correct, that disrupting the Founders' control over their army could only be a good thing from a military perspective. O'Brien is too blinded by his prejudice against “the enemy” to understand this, and his line “no, it is not complex. It is simple,” is really sad and a blight against his character.

Finally, Bashir just orders O'Brien to help him complete their task. The Second Jem'Hadar monitors O'Brien following his orders and remarks that the two of them are similar in that they're both racist fucks who recoil at the thought of cooperating like this. Well, true to form, Miles uses his technical magic to rig himself a transport away from the runabout, violating orders.

Act 4 : ***, 17%

Bashir is running into walls on his front, failing to detect what planetary properties have made Goran'agar immune to his addiction. Finally, Bashir determines that his immunity is just a genetic anomaly he always possessed. The Second returns to report of O'Brien's deception and believes—just as O'Brien suspected of the Jem'Hadar—that the Federation boys never planned on helping them, that they have been manipulating them.

ARAK'TARAL to GORAN'AGAR: I knew you once. Trusted you. Obeyed you without question. But now you're like this human, weak, soft, inferior. If being free of white means becoming like you, I don't want to be cured.

While obviously, things aren't going the way the First or Bashir had hoped, this does in fact prove Bashir's point. The Jem'Hadar are not static monsters, they are sentient beings with free will whose psyches have been strangled by ((centuries?)) of propaganda and addiction. Bashir gives his word not to abandon the project and Goran'agar agrees to try and find O'Brien before his men so he won't be killed.

On DS9, Quark is completing his illegal transaction. Worf steps in with his phaser and nabs the crooks, ah but it turns out that the payment was actually Odo in disguise. Odo berates Worf for interfering, revealing he intended on using Quark's buddy to infiltrate some sort of smuggling underground. He arrests the middle man and gives Quark a slap on the wrist, leaving Worf feeling sheepish. Before getting into this further, let me ask this: how do you feel about Admiral Holdo? You know, the purple-haired Laura Dern from “The Last Jedi”? You might recall that she, very much like Odo, had plans that she kept from those outside the need-to-know circle, leading to the impression, very much like Worf had of Odo, that she was behaving recklessly, when in fact, she wasn't. So, was Odo in the right to play his cards close, suspecting he couldn't trust Worf to keep a secret, or did Odo's pride get in the way of him doing his job correctly? Because, frankly, I think Worf was right. Odo is not his commanding officer and Worf is not some green cadet. These two are supposed to be colleagues. Worf is supposed to look like a fool for not trusting Odo's methods even though Odo showed no trust in Worf himself.

Meanwhile, O'Brien is laying Ewok-style booby-traps for his pursuers and manages to make his way unscathed to the laboratory. O'Brien thinks he's there to rescue his friend, but Bashir insists that he isn't breaking his word.

Act 5 : **, 17%

So, O'Brien destroys Bashir's research, ending the argument for now. Of course, in that moment, Goran'agar returns and fast-walks them into the woods. With the white only hours away from running out, the First has determined to send the humans away, kill his own men and/or die alone. Bashir wants Goran'agar to return to the AQ with them.

BASHIR: You don't have to do this. Even if we can't save their lives, there's no need to sacrifice yourself.
GORAN'AGAR to O'BRIEN: You are a soldier?
O'BRIEN: I have been.
GORAN'AGAR: Then you explain.

Sigh...right, the honour of the military brotherhood and all that bullshit. While, I can certainly believe that Goran'agar would want to look after his men in this way—and I see a certain Klingon-y noble death angle to it—O'Brien's original argument that it was strategically-foolish to try and cure the addiction, falls apart with his smug nod of understanding about this pro-military crap. If for nothing other than strategic reasons, they should try and take Goran'agar back to the AQ with them and study him, or question him. Now that they can escape (glossing over the fact that the runabout fucking CRASHED), it doesn't even occur to Miles to consider the humanitarian implications? Fuck you, O'Brien.

On the station, Worf reports to Sisko who's...who the fuck knows? I fully agree with William B that Sisko's “DS9 is about shades of grey” smugness goes beyond winking to the audience to full-blown arrogance on the part of the writers. It's condescending and absurd. Sisko explains that everyone has their own set of rules that they follow diligently. Uh huh. So, fuck your morality, fuck your principles. Hell, don't even let these things get you down, man. Just take up hobbies like me. Do whatever you want however you want, and Starfleet will promote you. You get to reach smug conclusions based on contrivances that allow you to appear resignedly pragmatic and the audience will nod approvingly, feeling pleased with themselves for having the wisdom to recognise that having ideals and principles that you actually stick to is hopelessly naïve. Star Trek Deep Space Nine, everybody, where hope goes to die.

The Epilogue concludes with the return of the runabout to the station. O'Brien gets to have the last word, of course, because Bashir's too nice a guy to hold his feet over the fire for being such a colossal asshole. Oh, but don't worry, in a few days everything will be just spiffy again!

Episode as Functionary : **.5, 10%

I will credit the episode this much; O'Brien is a character who is difficult to dislike. He's homey, he's usually kind, he's got simple priorities and wholesome ambitions. He's reliable and loyal. So, making him the antagonist here—and yes, that's how I see him—was very brave. The polemics about Bashir's prognostications are quite beside the point; O'Brien showed extreme cowardice in this situation, totally unbefitting a Starfleet officer, commissioned or otherwise. Might Bashir's attempts have gotten them killed? Yes. But for someone who falls back on his war record so often, you'd think O'Brien would have an understanding of dying for a noble cause.

The episode is very proud of itself for presenting a complex issue—and it IS a complex issue. So then, giving the moral victory to the man who insists that things are simple, that there are good guys and bad guys and he's going to protect his own, is extremely disappointing. Additionally, while there's something kind of sweet in Bashir letting his friend off the hook because, you know, they love each other (oh but not in a gay way, lest we forget), the conclusion means that we have just abandoned the prospect of following up on this strategy to reform the Jem'Hadar, which seems like a decision Bashir should not be making on his own.

I find the B-plot equally arrogant and contrived. We just HAVE to beat the audience over the head with the point that this ain't your Daddy's Star Trek and things are grey out here blah blah blah. So, Odo's egoism and lack of trust aren't even commented on. No, it's just Worf (like Bashir) being one of those naïve TNG kinds of people causing the problem.

Structurally, while the hammy messages may gel, the tones of the two plots do not complement each other at all. I found it jarring to go from the deadly serious GQ plot to the light-hearted everyone-laugh-at-Worf plot in a way that we haven't seen since S2. I don't hold this against the episode too heavily, because of course, Worf wasn't supposed to be on this show, so trying to work him into the fabric of the series is bound to cause some hiccoughs. What buoys the episode up are the performances from the entire cast and guests, which are quite superb.

Final Score : ***
Peter G.
Wed, Nov 7, 2018, 12:37pm (UTC -6)
@ Elliott,

I think you're underrating Odo's position in this one. Yes, Worf is now his colleague; and yes he's a high-ranking officer. But Worf isn't his CO, nor is he involved in any way in station security. It would be like Jadzia going over to security demanding to know how Odo is pursuing a case: none of her business! And that's just regarding whether Worf was overstepping, which he was. He had no business interfering, and I think the intent here wasn't to show him as being dumb, but to give us a taste of how different (a) his new duties are from his old and how shifting his mindset will be tough, and (b) how different law enforcement is in a mixed living community versus a military starship.

About Odo's attitude, we've also seen many times that Odo doesn't like working with others (other than Kira), doesn't like having to explain himself, doesn't like competing security people from Starfleet, and doesn't like it when his tactics are questioned. And more than all of those I don't think he likes it when his control over his territory is questioned: it's his order, and suggesting that something is lacking is a direct affront to his status as lawman. So there is definitely pride at work here, and we've seen it built on in previous episodes and I think it's fair to suppose the writers assume we know what he's like. His answers to Worf are gruff, but no more so than normal for him.

But yeah, Worf was clearly acting out of control in this situation and trying to do a job that wasn't his. When you're in the "military" it would be disastrous to run around trying to step on someone else's work. I put it in scare quotes because it's always hard to say exactly what Starfleet is, but I imagine the chain of command and division of responsibility may be similar to a military structure as we know it. So no, I don't think comparing Odo to Admiral Holdo is reasonable. In that case a person allowed *the entire rebellion* to believe they were about to face certain death rather than inform *the people who would be implementing her plan* what the plan was. Here Odo declines to tell Worf his plan, who has no business in knowing it and no personal stake in the result other than his dislike of criminals. Even in civil society why don't you try going into a police station and barking at the Captain about how he should do his job, and then proceed to try to arrest his suspects behind his back! You'd end up in the slammer for that.
Wed, Nov 7, 2018, 2:29pm (UTC -6)
"Yes, good. 24Th-century Utopia, DS9-style. “Heh heh heh. Yer totally, gay bro!”"

Yep-regressive attitudes in Trek are totally a DS9 only problem-because it's not like someone on the set of "The Offspring" ran down the set to keep two male extras from holding hands. It's not like Gene Roddenberry wrote an episode that claimed women couldn't be Starfleet captains because they're too hysterical. It's not like TNG did a gay rights episode without actually having a gay couple in there. It's not like DS9 does two gay rights episodes that blow the garbage fire called "The Outcast" out of the water. It's not like...

" Structurally, while the hammy messages may gel, the tones of the two plots do not complement each other at all. I found it jarring to go from the deadly serious GQ plot to the light-hearted everyone-laugh-at-Worf plot in a way that we haven't seen since S2. I don't hold this against the episode too heavily, because of course, Worf wasn't supposed to be on this show, so trying to work him into the fabric of the series is bound to cause some hiccoughs. What buoys the episode up are the performances from the entire cast and guests, which are quite superb."

I don't think the Worf plot damages this episode so much. It's not substantial enough to be considered great, but it's not an "everyone laughs at Worf plot", nor does the tone clash that badly in my opinion.
Wed, Nov 7, 2018, 2:34pm (UTC -6)
I’m a fan of this one because I love how well the writers’ elaborate both on O’Brien’s and Bashir’s sides of an admittedly complicated humanitarian issue, and unlike Elliott I don’t think it’s ever made clear who was in the right here.

That said, I agree with Elliott that Bashir isn’t simply being naive here, and he’s certainly taking a controversial stance by bucking the Prime Directive for the sake of doing (at least based on all the info in this episode) the right thing. I also liked what William B above said about Bashir - who was totally willing to disregard O’Brien disobeying his orders, to risk only his own life to find a cure. That O’Brien felt so strongly about his convictions that he felt saving his friend from himself was an interesting move, and I think it goes back to their earlier conversation about how important their friendship was, especially to O’Brien who perhaps feels more fraternal about his career than Bashir.

Regarding the spiel O’Brien gives about military honor, it’s interesting at least that O’Brien actually connects with Goran'agar here. Goran'agar can’t abandon his men out of military honor in the same way O’Brien can’t abandon Bashir.


“the conclusion means that we have just abandoned the prospect of following up on this strategy to reform the Jem'Hadar, which seems like a decision Bashir should not be making on his own.”

Yeah, Bashir definitely lets the whole ordeal go too easily. It’s one thing to show that Bashir didn’t want to begrudge his friend for disobeying orders, but it seems like he still learned something vital about the Jem’Hadar that Starfleet security should have some say in.

As for the B plot, it’s mostly serviceable despite Sisko/Worf’s unnecessary meta-commentary. But I hasten to add it’s ridiculous that Odo would play puppet master with Worf and not expect Worf to make an arrest at some point. Also, Odo is interested in infiltrating a whole smuggling ring now that goes far outside DS9 and his own jurisdiction? How does that even work? I really don’t blame Worf for calling him out.

Finally one funny thing no one else mentioned is that the clock Sisko is working on is the same prop from Dramatis Personae, which makes one wonder if Sisko wasn’t too aloof in this whole episode. Nice callback, nonetheless.
Wed, Nov 7, 2018, 2:52pm (UTC -6)

“It's not like DS9 does two gay rights episodes that blow the garbage fire called "The Outcast" out of the water.”

Are you referring to “Rejoined”? According to Brooks who directed the episode, it explicitly isn’t about homosexual rights. I’ll say more in the actual episode discussion, but the script never goes into gender let alone same-gender relationships.
Wed, Nov 7, 2018, 3:06pm (UTC -6)
"I find the B-plot equally arrogant and contrived. We just HAVE to beat the audience over the head with the point that this ain't your Daddy's Star Trek and things are grey out here blah blah blah. So, Odo's egoism and lack of trust aren't even commented on. No, it's just Worf (like Bashir) being one of those naïve TNG kinds of people causing the problem. "

Oh, nuance! The horror!

Snark aside, I do agree that it's a very blunt way of distinguishing itself from TNG-too blunt. But you have to consider the context in which these shows were made. TNG was a monster hit, pretty much beloved by everyone. DS9 kind of got lost in the shuffle, with TNG's final season, and then Voyager's first happening pretty much right after each other. DS9 was trying to be the rebellious younger sibling, the underdog. You're acting like poor TNG was getting metaphorically bullied or something. It wasn't-though DS9 comes off as disrespectful at times, it was just an attempt to differentiate itself-the DS9 writers weren't saying nuance is inherently better, just that DS9 was different. That's why I also think your claim that the episode is arrogant. It's a show far more comfortable and confident in itself. I find it quite refreshing, especially after 1 season of TNG-lite and 2 seasons of "we have interesting elements but we're unsure what to do with them".

And they didn't portray Bashir as naïve. The episode only works if neither side is completely right. What Bashir does do wrong is fail to consider what happens if the Jem'Hadar are let off their leash. I still think O'Brien had no business disobeying orders from a superior officer, but I can see his perspective. Which, of course, is the point.

Anyway, you did enjoy the episode, but I strongly (respectfully) disagree with the complaints you do have.
Wed, Nov 7, 2018, 3:07pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G

1. Wasn't it established that Odo's way of doing things, his proclivity to operate outside the boundaries of Starfleet regulations is what brought Eddington into the show? How is it that Odo is allowed to just go right back to the old way, especially when interstellar tensions are higher than ever?

2. I don't really buy the "Worf is settling into new duties" thing because we saw him adjust to new posts quite easily twice already, when Tasha died and in "The Most Toys" when he had to take over operations from Data. The plot here was more about getting used to "the DS9 way," which i find pretentious.

3. The only reasonw Odo would have *not* to tell Worf what was going on, when clearly Worf was interested in the investigation, would be a. that he doesn't trust him or b. that he wanted to spite him for interfering in his territory. I don't find that attitude endearing in the slightest.


I actually think that overall, DS9 has the best take of the Berman era Treks on non-heteronormative sexuality. "Rejoined" is a fabulous episode. My problem here is that the "you're a homo" thing here is milked for laughter, something never done in TNG. Eventually, Voyager would also repeat this sin ("Body and Soul"). That's my main beef here--but I hope you realise I don't hold this moment against the episode heavily, I just find it lazy comedy.

As far as the plots gelling, I would suggest paying attention to how the musical cues struggle every time we transition back and forth. The tone every time we break from the GQ is very tense, provoking a dissonant crescendo of some sort, then we cut to Worf peaking out from behind a bulkhead at Quark lounging in his bar or something. I stand by my criticism that the tones don't flow together. Again, this is a product of them adding a Worf B-plot into an episode that had already been pitched in order to justify his presence in the cast.


I think William B mentions the clock callback. The whole thing is kind of weird. I guess I prefer the aloof loner Sisko to the actively disregarding Starfleet Sisko, but I would think a more serviceable callback (despite my disdain for this arc) would be him studying the ancient prophecies.

As far as the central dilemma, I do think the episode contrives ways to make O'Brien's argument stronger and Bashir's weaker when at the heart of the matter, Bashir is in the right. The story does tie this contrivances into character motivations, but I would have liked Bashir to have something to say about O'Brien's fucked up ethics as well as his disregard for the chain of command, not to mention his nonexistent respect for Bashir's rank and authority.
Wed, Nov 7, 2018, 3:10pm (UTC -6)
"Are you referring to “Rejoined”? According to Brooks who directed the episode, it explicitly isn’t about homosexual rights. I’ll say more in the actual episode discussion, but the script never goes into gender let alone same-gender relationships. "

I'm referring to "Rejoined" and "Chimera". I'm aware that "Rejoined" wasn't specifically designed as a gay rights allegory, but it works just fine if you choose to interpret that way. According to Robert Hewitt Wolfe, it was definitely in their minds at the time.
Wed, Nov 7, 2018, 3:12pm (UTC -6)
"That's my main beef here--but I hope you realise I don't hold this moment against the episode heavily, I just find it lazy comedy. "

Of course. I was just (snarkily) pointing out that a perfect track record Trek does not have when it comes to social issues. In fact, it's not nearly as progressive as it thinks it is or wants to be at times.
Wed, Nov 7, 2018, 3:15pm (UTC -6)

"DS9 was trying to be the rebellious younger sibling, the underdog. "

Yeah, that's my point. It's fucking annoying. I will praise DS9 when I think it does well--and exploring a stationary setting where conflicts develop over time is a wonderful and welcome departure from the standard fare. I appreciate much of what DS9 brought to the table, but much like a younger sibling acting out to get attention and prove himself, the incessant jabs against TNG are aggravating and unnecessary. It's like the writers developed all this pent up frustration (actually, I'm pretty sure Ira Behr has said as much) and took out their aggression in DS9.
Wed, Nov 7, 2018, 3:19pm (UTC -6)
I want to add that just because you present two ideas as equally valid--even when they are not--does not mean you have introduced nuance into a show. It just means you are both sides-ing an issue, West Wing-style. It's like Sisko's line from ItHotP: "My philosophy is that there is room for all philosophies on this station." Now, what the fuck does that actually mean? It doesn't mean anything, it's just a refusal to commit to an ethical perspective. That's not idealistic, that's not nihilistic, that's not realistic--it's just centrist pandering.
Wed, Nov 7, 2018, 3:27pm (UTC -6)

I can't argue with the fact that it's on the nose and unnecessary, but aggravating? C'mon, TNG can take it. It's possibly the most popular science fiction show of all time in the states (maybe the X-Files). It's the top dog of Trek-it's a frequently brilliant, massively popular classic tv show, and gets far more love and attention than DS9 will even come close to getting. A few jabs isn't going to change that. Even a massive DS9 fan such as myself can't deny TNG's accomplishments, or the fact that DS9 wouldn't exist without it and owes much of its success to it. I also agree that it's wrong to say TNG was simplistic or bright in comparison-the torture scenes in "Chain of Command" are as dark as anything DS9 ever did, maybe darker-but still-a few inappropriate barbs aren't going to change that.
Wed, Nov 7, 2018, 3:35pm (UTC -6)

Mmmm...It's not that I think TNG "can't take it." It's that the show is a. trying too hard (which I find annoying) and b. can't ever seem to point out its differences without belittling the former. The whole "shades of grey" thing is the prime example. It isn't simply: DS9 has some characters, like Quark, who aren't necessarily heroes or villains. It's always; DS9 has characters who sometimes do horrible things, but are still portrayed as protagonists, therefore DS9 is more complex than TNG. DS9's quasi-serialisation, its unique premise and excellent extended cast are more than enough to differentiate itself from its predecessors. I also want to point out that being "darker" does not make the show better. "Revenge of the Sith" was incredibly dark and it was terrible. Enterprise S3 was way darker than anything on DS9 and inferior in almost every way.
Wed, Nov 7, 2018, 4:10pm (UTC -6)

“As far as the central dilemma, I do think the episode contrives ways to make O'Brien's argument stronger and Bashir's weaker when at the heart of the matter, Bashir is in the right. The story does tie this contrivances into character motivations, but I would have liked Bashir to have something to say about O'Brien's fucked up ethics as well as his disregard for the chain of command, not to mention his nonexistent respect for Bashir's rank and authority.”

Well, O’Brien has a legitimate point that no one knows just how the Jem’ Hadar on the whole will act when released from the white. It’s also not clear Goran'agar wasn’t manipulating Bashir to some extent. Certainly showing Bashir the sick Jem’Hadar which he knows Bashir is trained to feel compassion for could be seen as manipulative. I do agree that Bashir’s point about the chain of command is dismissed too easily, and it feels like a more balanced take on the two points of view would land O’Brien in hot water with Starfleet regardless of his intentions.


“I'm referring to "Rejoined" and "Chimera". I'm aware that "Rejoined" wasn't specifically designed as a gay rights allegory, but it works just fine if you choose to interpret that way. According to Robert Hewitt Wolfe, it was definitely in their minds at the time.”

Looking at the background notes for “Rejoined” it seems like they were more interested in making the episode post-homosexual rights and more interested in telling a story about taboo love as it relates to castes and social hierarchies. Don’t get me wrong, I actually think this is to the episode’s credit. Yet “The Outcast”, regardless of how badly written it is, was more interested in specifically depicting the hardships of homosexual relationships.

I don’t really see how “Chimera” advocates or explores homosexuality. It’s a bit of a stretch (no pun intended) to say that Laas and Odo represent that on some level. There’s certainly a lot of *racial* tension in the episode and I think that the story succeeds on that level.
Wed, Nov 7, 2018, 5:33pm (UTC -6)

I agree that it was unnecessary-just that I understand why they were somewhat frustrated.

" I also want to point out that being "darker" does not make the show better. "Revenge of the Sith" was incredibly dark and it was terrible."

From my point of view, Voyager is evil! (Possibly the worst combination of line and line delivery, like, ever). On a serious note, no arguments here. The prequels are awful, in pretty much every way beside the sound design and music. Clone wars (2003 and 2008) all the way. (I can't wait for the final season of Clone Wars).

Yes, darker doesn't necessarily mean better-maybe sophisticated would have been a better word choice. TNG isn't less sophisticated than DS9, but it is more clear cut. I think DS9's unique qualities made it truly stand out. TNG could never make a "Duet" or "Necessary Evil", just like DS9 couldn't make singular episodes as well as TNG. They're both great-I just prefer DS9.
Wed, Nov 7, 2018, 7:04pm (UTC -6)
"I don’t really see how “Chimera” advocates or explores homosexuality. It’s a bit of a stretch (no pun intended) to say that Laas and Odo represent that on some level. There’s certainly a lot of *racial* tension in the episode and I think that the story succeeds on that level."

"This is no time for a changeling pride demonstration on the Promenade"-Quark

I think it's pretty clear. Laas basically demands that Odo stop changing who he is so that those around him will accept him.
Wed, Nov 7, 2018, 7:47pm (UTC -6)

You’ll need to explain why a “Black Pride” or “Asian Pride” demonstration wouldn’t be a better analog for the situation. Odo and Laas both have taken the roles of heterosexual males with female lovers. Thus, it’s not their sexual identity that differentiates them others. It’s their racial traits - physical genetic differences and a shared culture, in other words, their race - that distinguishes them.
Wed, Nov 7, 2018, 8:25pm (UTC -6)
I agree with Iceman that “Chimera” works well as a non-heterosexual analogue. Odo links with a “male” Changeling, an act which has been strongly associated with shapeshifter sex. When he finally “linlks” with Kira, it’s like Odo metaphorically coming out of the closet.
Wed, Nov 7, 2018, 8:37pm (UTC -6)
"Odo and Laas both have taken the roles of heterosexual males with female lovers. Thus, it’s not their sexual identity that differentiates them others. "

A metaphor doesn't have to be one-to-one. Odo has been keeping an important part of himself hidden in order to make his friends more comfortable, and Laas takes him to task for it. It fits quite well imo.
Wed, Nov 7, 2018, 8:40pm (UTC -6)

But following that logic, hasn’t Odo linked with a “female” Changling dozens of times before Laas? I don’t know, if we take the Founders at their word, linking sounds like a transcendent experience beyond sex where two beings share their very existence, not just their bodies. Confining linking to human gender terms seems to be missing the point, in my opinion.
Wed, Nov 7, 2018, 9:03pm (UTC -6)

“Odo has been keeping an important part of himself hidden in order to make his friends more comfortable, and Laas takes him to task for it.”

And Garak did the same thing to Odo in season 3. If your metaphor is based on something as vague as “keeping a secret”, then the metaphor starts to lose meaningful coherence.
Thu, Nov 8, 2018, 9:44am (UTC -6)
"And Garak did the same thing to Odo in season 3. If your metaphor is based on something as vague as “keeping a secret”, then the metaphor starts to lose meaningful coherence."

The two situations were entirely different. Keeping secrets isn't the same as hiding something to keep others comfortable.
Thu, Nov 8, 2018, 12:20pm (UTC -6)

In both cases Odo was holding back something personal so he could fit in better with solids.

Anyway, if you feel compelled to read homoerotic tension into scenes of Star Trek that’s certainly your prerogative, but you seem to be doing at the cost of ignoring the more obvious racism allegory “Chimera” the writers’ intended.
Thu, Nov 8, 2018, 1:29pm (UTC -6)
" Anyway, if you feel compelled to read homoerotic tension into scenes of Star Trek that’s certainly your prerogative, but you seem to be doing at the cost of ignoring the more obvious racism allegory “Chimera” the writers’ intended. "

If you want to ignore the very obvious parallels to the gay rights movement in "Chimera" and the differences between that and Season 3, that's your prerogative. And thanks for the unearned snark.
Thu, Nov 8, 2018, 1:51pm (UTC -6)

I’m not being “snarky”, it just sounds like you haven’t read any of the background information for the story and script of “Chimera” (a script that very much was based on Odo taking the side of Laas in a racial conflict between humanoids on shapeshifters) and expect me to buy into a very forced metaphor.

I also suspect you’re an alt of another commenter on this board, so perhaps I’ll just leave you be in your anonymous goading.
William B
Thu, Nov 8, 2018, 2:16pm (UTC -6)
I don't want to get into the conflict that seems to be brewing, but I think in terms of the content, I agree with Elliott and Iceman are right that Chimera can be (does not necessarily have to be) read as being about being gay. The Link has been strongly associated with sex and the way in which Odo reacts with embarrassment at Laas' offering to link with him on the Promenade seems much more like someone being embarrassed about a bit too much overt intimacy rather than someone being embarrassed at a reminder of some cultural/racial symbol. That doesn't preclude the race interpretation at all. Chimera can be about Odo's belonging to different marginalized groups, and Laas has a kind of (X-Men line) Magneto-style distaste for the "majority" without Magneto's desire to fight for broader liberation (or "liberation" depending on how it works).

I definitely read Chimera as being about race back in the day, but I read it as being more about sexuality last time I watched it a couple years ago.
William B
Thu, Nov 8, 2018, 2:24pm (UTC -6)
@Elliott, I think that one element you are maybe understating in this ep is how much Miles' love for Julian (which, yes, the episode goes out of its way to #nohomo about) influences his decision. I think if it were Dax or something who was on Julian's course, Miles would have respected their choice because he has more respect for them as an officer, but also because he doesn't feel the same protective love for them. On some level, Miles doesn't want Julian to get hurt by his own idealism, and is somewhat unable to see Julian as a wholly independent being because of it. I think that's part of what's tragic about the situation, is that Miles loves Julian for reasons very close to reasons for which he doesn't respect him.

DS9 very often does these stories where the real key turns out to be less philosophical and more personal, which sometimes bothers me and other times doesn't. This is one when it largely doesn't bother me, but YMMV.
Thu, Nov 8, 2018, 3:20pm (UTC -6)
@William B

Yeah, sorry, I may have come off more callous than intended and gotten off track. I see “Chimera”’s primary story being one about racism (solids versus changlings) but there’s certainly enough bigotry and xenophobia in the show that you could apply a sexual orientation analogy. The key difference between “Chimera” and “The Outcast” is that the latter has a very clear primary message about sexual orientation and in the former that message is up to interpretation and possibly lost on the viewer (as it was on your younger self, for example).
William B
Thu, Nov 8, 2018, 3:25pm (UTC -6)
@Chrome, yeah, that's fair -- the creators are much more forthright about The Outcast, whereas Chimera possibly wasn't intended as being about sexuality (and if it was, they were cagey about it).
Peter G.g
Thu, Nov 8, 2018, 3:47pm (UTC -6)
The funny thing about this argument is that based on content alone I'm tempted to even say that The Outcast doesn't have to do with sexual orientation at all. If anything it feels like more of a gender identity issue, and even then it's muddied by us not know the actual medical facts about that race, and additionally by Soren actually being happy about loving Big Brother again. Whereas by contrast in Chimera I see some pretty blatant homoerotic sexual notes in the episode, especially in the "Changeling Pride" line, the general tenor of Quark's message about that, and about the fact (which we can't ignore) that both Changelings are played by dudes. That's meta content but it's there all the same. I also think that this aspect is underlined by the fact of Odo 'coming out' at the end in the bedroom with Kira, which shows pretty conclusively that sexually speaking he was holding back with her to appear more like a solid. That's not a straight vs gay issue per se, but it's definitely about sexual mores and identity.
William B
Thu, Nov 8, 2018, 4:11pm (UTC -6)
Definitely, based on the content, The Outcast is more about gender identity than sexuality (who Soren is is more important than who she wants to sleep with, though the two get intertwined). I was more saying that Chrome's point that authorial intent, based on what the writers said in interviews, was more clearly about homosexuality in The Outcast than with Chimera, even if the episodes end up playing differently in terms of their actual content. The Outcast arguably works better as a trans allegory than as a gay allegory, anyway.
Sean Hagins
Thu, Nov 8, 2018, 9:57pm (UTC -6)
I agree with Chrome. I do not think the reference is supposed to be about homosexuals.
Mon, Nov 12, 2018, 11:32am (UTC -6)
@Chrome - "I do agree that Bashir’s point about the chain of command is dismissed too easily"

Allow me to give you a military perspective based on my service experience.

That Bashir outranks O'Brien is undeniable but there's more to command than just pulling rank (indeed, pulling rank is one of the least-effective leadership traits). One thing a lot of civilians never understand is how the most senior enlisted ranks with decades of service are subordinate to a freshly-minted 2nd Lieutenant with no experience whatsoever. While true in a technical sense, in practice a low-ranking, non-command-track officer would be an idiot to ignore the advice of a senior non-commissioned rank such as the Chief. O'Brien is exactly that and with combat experience as well. You can make the argument Bashir "listens" to O'Brien and disregards his advice but I don't see it that way. Bashir, IMO, dismisses O'Brien's concerns without even considering them based on Bashir's humanitarian impetus. Bashir is, IMO, a poor officer because of this although he can be forgiven much since he's a science-track (blue) officer and not a command-track (red) officer. Making tough strategic decisions is not his forte, whereas O'Brien, even though he is subordinate in rank structure, has superior experience.

I say all this as a former Marine who takes the chain of command very, very seriously. But one must consider that rank doesn't automatically imply rightness or competence in every situation. A wise officer/noncom relationship depends on the officer respecting existing experience in his/her subordinates. Respect for such experience *should* be automatic, whereas respect for leadership by the subordinate is *earned*. It's a complicated dance and much more nuanced than "Bashir outranks O'Brien, therefore O'Brien's actions are cowardly." On the contrary, bucking leadership takes guts; on the offhand chance the subordinate is proven wrong, the penalties are quite severe. In wartime it can even be a capital offense.
Mon, Nov 12, 2018, 11:54am (UTC -6)

While that may all may be true from your experience, the episode makes it clear that Bashir *chose* not to bring Miles up on charges, even after Miles suggested it.
Mon, Nov 12, 2018, 12:13pm (UTC -6)
I don't know why this didn't occur to me earlier but there's another excellent example of a very similar situation in BSG, namely the "Fragged" episode. If you're not familiar with the episode I urge you to see Jammer's review of it:

To recap, you have a combat-inexperienced officer suddenly placed in command of a combat op during war. His command includes enlisted members with superior experience. His inexperience and inability to listen to those under him leads to the deaths of several members of his command and, if it had been allowed to continue, would've resulted in the deaths of everyone.

In such a case the correct course of action would be for the commander to be removed from command. Peacefully if possible, violently if necessary. It's only by trick of fate the final blow was struck by a civilian. Had Baltar not pulled the trigger, Tyrol would have and I doubt any court of inquiry would've faulted him for it.

Obviously the above represents a much more extreme *tactical* situation than Bashir and O'Brien were in. However, the *strategic* implications of Bashir's chosen course had the potential to be far more catastrophic. Crashdown's command would've destroyed the squad but it wouldn't have altered the course of the human/Cylon war. Bashir's could've endangered the entire galaxy and in fact had a very real chance of doing so based on everything we know about the Jem'Hadar. We have *never* seen a Jem'Hadar with a "peaceful co-existence" mindset or anything remotely resembling one. Bashir's plan hinges on such a thing existing, and the lack of it almost guarantees unleashing a bloodthirsty, amoral, conquering-obsessed race of super-soldiers on the galaxy.

Perhaps the Jem'Hadar have the capability to transcend their nature and it's always been suppressed by the Founders. Perhaps. It's a supposition based on no factual evidence and borrowing heavily from Bashir's feeling all people are inherently good somewhere in their core being. It's idealism, and idealism in a war tends to get you and a lot of other people killed. It's ugly but it's been proven true far more often than not.
Peter G.
Mon, Nov 12, 2018, 12:14pm (UTC -6)
I'm pretty much unwilling to agree with the validity of any reading of a DS9 episode where O'Brien is described as cowardly. That's just never shown. Sometimes he's shortsighted, or even obstinate, but never ever cowardly.
Mon, Nov 12, 2018, 12:20pm (UTC -6)
@Prisoner882 - "While that may all may be true from your experience, the episode makes it clear that Bashir *chose* not to bring Miles up on charges, even after Miles suggested it."

True, but it begs the question why. Friendship with O'Brien? That's the obvious -- and most likely correct -- answer given the thematic arc of the show. However, a more cynical appraisal shows the most likely outcome of any such charges would be exoneration of O'Brien and perhaps even charges against Bashir for "aiding or conspiring with the enemy during a time of war."

There's a word for that: treason. I don't know offhand what the Federation penalty is for treason but nowadays, during wartime, being convicted of such is a capital crime.

Remember, we're talking about a Federation that passively endorsed Tain's plan involving covert genocide of the Founder's homeworld. If they're willing to go along with genocide they clearly see the Dominion as a mortal threat worth throwing away their lofty principles. Do you think for a moment they'd give Bashir's "humanitarian" argument much credence in a time where Jem'Hadar are slaughtering Starfleet officers by the thousands?
Mon, Nov 12, 2018, 12:26pm (UTC -6)
On a side note, I think DS9 is the best example of Trek puncturing Roddenberry's Utopian 24th-century fantasy. TOS and, to a large extent, TNG gave us a Federation than rarely had to make hard choices. However, whenever the Federation is pushed into a corner, their precious moralizing gets thrown away in favor of brute survival.

I don't see a problem with this so much as I see the fault in Roddenberry's vision in the first place. A species that isn't willing to do all it can to defend itself cannot survive.
Mon, Nov 12, 2018, 1:53pm (UTC -6)
“TNG gave us a Federation than rarely had to make hard choices.”

I don’t think that’s an accurate assessment. TNG has hard choices, but the difficult choice is typically one of taking the moral high ground. Since “Silicon Avatar” keeps coming up as a hotbed of controversy , I’ll use that as an example. There, the Enterprise has the obvious and easy choice to kill the crystalline entity, satisfy its vengeance and never have to worry about the CE attacking its colonies. Instead, Picard wanted to try the more challenging path, reach out to its enemy and try to find a path to coexistence. It’s not entirely certain Picard’s choice was correct, mind you, but it is certain being moral would be the harder choice.

I think we see an echo of “Silicon Avatar” here where, on the face of it, the Jem’Hadar is the enemy and anything less than killing the Jem’Hadar and escaping is the right thing to do. But then we get into more difficult questions like whether enemy combatants like the sick Jem’Hadar here deserve medical treatment, and if so how far should that treatment go. There really isn’t a clean answer, and again there’s arguments that both O’Brien and Bashir were doing their respective duties the best they could.
Jason R.
Tue, Nov 13, 2018, 5:36am (UTC -6)
The problem with TNG is that outside perhaps one episode (I Borg, to be specific) Picard's choices were never all that hard, at least as I always saw it. Doing the right thing, by 24th century Picardian standards, is relatively easy when you're the captain of a Galaxy Class starship at the vanguard of an interstellar federation that is simultaneously virtuous and all-powerful.

Most of Picard's moral dilemmas entailed choosing the sacrifice of strangers (Pen Pals, Symbiosis, the one with Worf's Brother...) or alternatively, the sacrifice of crewpeople where in the end it isn't even necessary and the price need not be paid (eg Justice, When the Bough Breaks).

In the Pale Moonlight, and to a lesser extent, Paradise Lost, are rebukes of that fraudulent TNG era Roddenberry morality where humans are supposedly *better* yet where that concept is never tested. Saints in paradise is right.

The irony with Silicon Avatar is that I don't even think it should have been much of a dilemma. The Enterprise could have blasted the entity to pieces with its phasers any time it pleased. They were either going to convince it to behave or destroy it. Picard's position was not all that radical.

I Borg should be the much more controversial episode. That should have been Picard's ITPM moment. But since he never had to pay the piper and take responsibility for his decision (the Borg were transformed by Voyager into villain of the week cartoons) he once again got away with being the Saint but dodging the lion's jaws.
Tue, Nov 13, 2018, 11:01am (UTC -6)
“The problem with TNG is that outside perhaps one episode (I Borg, to be specific) Picard's choices were never all that hard, at least as I always saw it. Doing the right thing, by 24th century Picardian standards, is relatively easy when you're the captain of a Galaxy Class starship at the vanguard of an interstellar federation that is simultaneously virtuous and all-powerful.“

I beg to differ and I won’t limit the choices to Picard. “Where Slinence Has Lease” (sacrifing your life and your crew to show that people don’t like to be played with), “The Emissary” (Talking down a ship hellbent on war that you can easily destroy), “The Enemy” (Letting your officer refuse a blood transfusion that may lead to war), “The Defector” (Putting faith in a defector whose backstory is riddled with lies). “Yesterday’s Enterprise” (Sacrifcing your ship and losing another ship based on a hunch that your timeline isn’t right), “The Wounded” (Helping a former enemy track your ship and attack a colleague despite evidence that colleague is right), “Chain of Command” (Not yielding to torture no matter how far you lose your mind and are offered outs).

There’s more, and I’ll even argue that episodes like “Measure of Man” involve seemingly easy decisions but fighting to justify that decision is still a weighty task (not to mention Riker needing to side with the plaintiff and attack his friend in order to help him).

“In the Pale Moonlight, and to a lesser extent, Paradise Lost, are rebukes of that fraudulent TNG era Roddenberry morality where humans are supposedly *better* yet where that concept is never tested. Saints in paradise is right.”

Funny you should mention “Paradise Lost”, because that episode contradicts the idea that it’s easy to be a saint in paradise. Leyton was in thick of it at Starfleet HQ on Earth and he still let his ambitions outweigh his dedication to Federation principles. It’s actually one of the big episodes where Sisko stands up for “Roddenberry morailty”.

“The irony with Silicon Avatar is that I don't even think it should have been much of a dilemma. The Enterprise could have blasted the entity to pieces with its phasers any time it pleased. They were either going to convince it to behave or destroy it. Picard's position was not all that radical.”

I tend to agree with you, but if you direct yourself to that comment section there are many who think Picard was wrong to even try to communicate with the CE after it killed so many.
Jason R.
Tue, Nov 13, 2018, 12:34pm (UTC -6)
Chrome, I should explain what I meant by "easy" in this context. I don't mean to suggest that Picard's actions were easy in the sense that they required no personal courage or sacrifice in any sense. Obviously surving torture, choosing to destroy the ship rather than submit to inhumane experiments etc. are all difficult things requiring tremendous integrity and conviction.

But I'm talking about a *moral* sacrifice here. I am saying that Picard's choices are easy in the sense that they don't require him to sacrifice his principles the way Sisko does in ITPM. Picard choosing to endure torture rather than surrender, or blowing up the ship rather than submit to experiments, affirm his own personal sense of morality. He may lose his crew or his life, but for a man like that (and Starfleet officers) those are acceptable stakes and indeed, it is what they signed up for.

If Picard had chosen to let Nagolim kill half the ship to save the rest, or if he had chosen to use Hue as a weapon against the borg, that would have been a true sacrifice for a man like Picard.

Why didn't he? Because the show never really permitted us to test that resolve with stakes that could truly move the needle. Would Picard have let Hue go if he knew the Federation would be assimilated as a result, if the wolves were really at the door and a cube was on its way to Earth?

Picard was a man who captained the flahship of the Federation, set policy, had a huge role in its strategic operations and policy, yet somehow got away with never sullying his own conscience, never having to compromise his personal integrity for a greater good. I just don't buy that.

Unfortunately, TNG always cheated, refusing to really put a man like Picard's feet to the fire the way Sisko was. In ITPM there is no doubt in my mind that Sisko made the right choice. I agree with Sisko that one officer's self respect was a small price to pay. Picard, in my view, got off lightly in TNG.
Tue, Nov 13, 2018, 1:08pm (UTC -6)
@Jason R.

“But I'm talking about a *moral* sacrifice here. I am saying that Picard's choices are easy in the sense that they don't require him to sacrifice his principles the way Sisko does in ITPM.”

I think you understand that TNG and DS9 were trying to do very different things. TNG shows the flagship of Enterprise embracing Fedration ethics and morals even when it puts them in a difficult position. It sets the standard for what we should expect from the best of humanity in the 24th century.

DS9 is trying to build on TNG by showing that not everyone can or is willing to follow Federation principles to the same level as the Enterprise. Sometimes people disagree with Federation principles, or find them too hard to follow and start embracing other values.

I don’t buy that one way of depicting the ST Universe is “better”. Indeed DS9 couldn’t be nearly as good at showing tough moral decisions if TNG hadn’t first established those morals to begin with. Both shows are good at depicting the Trek universe in different lights. Some days you want to watch Superman, and other days you want to watch Batman.
Peter G.
Tue, Nov 13, 2018, 1:59pm (UTC -6)
I think Jason R's point isn't that TNG is worse or that Sisko is a better man than Picard for having been really tested. This seems to me more a case of asking how Roddenberry morals should actually be applied in practice. TNG is a very "drawing board" sort of show, where the theories are painted nicely and some of them for the first time. But it doesn't tell you what to do in crazy situations. That's where DS9 explores how to plumb out which choice will have what moral consequence.

So I fully agree that Picard "always got off easy" insofar as it was almost never unclear which choice was actually the correct moral one. Almost always we saw a situation where there was a moral decision, and a *convenient* decision, and Picard always went with the moral one even if that created complications. But I can't recall an example other than with Hugh, and maybe in The Wounded, where it was difficult to determine what the moral action actually was. And that's a cheat in practice, which is why I suggest that TNG is about spelling out the theory. The TNG situations are 99% of the time written so as to create a problem and it's about the crew finding a solution; and there is almost always *one evident solution* but the trick is to find it. A good example of this is in Redemption, where apparently there was little they could do to stop the Romulans interfering, until they figured out that they could blockage the Romulan/Klingon border, thus interfering without meddling in Klingon affairs.

But what happens when any choice at all will require not only bad results but also some sacrifice of conscience? We could bring up the trolley problem as the prototype but basically any scenario where two sides of an issue must be weighed in terms of how much harm each decision would cause (or perhaps which violates morality more, assuming these are different). *That* isn't something that happens in TNG for the most part, and that's why criticizing Sisko for being "grey" is weird to me. I've always thought of him as being an utterly upstanding man who has to make hard decisions that don't always make him come out smelling like roses. I think he's supposed to be more of an "everyman" than Picard not in terms of being less moral, but in terms of being faced with scenarios that aren't scripted to have obvious moral solutions. He's down in the muck and has to mud wrestle to get out.
Tue, Nov 13, 2018, 2:45pm (UTC -6)
Look guys, I get that some people like Star Trek shows where people are driven to desperation and start ignoring ethics and getting their hands dirty to solve problems, but at the same time it’s good to have shows like TNG that explore what a utopian future might look like if we took a higher path.
Peter G.
Tue, Nov 13, 2018, 4:00pm (UTC -6)
@ Chrome,

I'm not down on TNG in the slightest and for the most part I rewatch it more than DS9. And I've also been taken aback a little by the "TNG vs DS9" debates that come up as if their morals are in conflict, because I've *always* felt that these are brother and sister shows that are very closely aligned in terms of message. DS9 is, to me, the deeper exploration of TNG themes, and certainly not a repudiation of them. So when I say "Picard got off easy" I don't mean that he's a fake or something: he was and is a role model for me. But what I mean is that comparing Sisko to him is on the wrong track, because Picard is the spirit of ethic while I see Sisko as being the nuts and bolts.
Wed, Nov 14, 2018, 6:07pm (UTC -6)

Just wanted to come back and defuse things a bit. First of all, I am certainly not an alt of another commenter. Second of all, fair's fair. Art (which includes tv in my opinion) can be interpreted in multiple different ways. That doesn't change the fact that you are correct that it was originally intended as a racial metaphor, regardless of how it may fit into other allegories. That being said, I still think my and Elliott's takes on the episode work really well, regardless of whether it was intentional. Regardless, I'm not sure why I was so eager to aggressively argue about it. Just seems a bit silly and pointless now.

Tldr; You were right, I was wrong, and very childish to get aggressive over a tv show. My apologies.
Thu, Nov 15, 2018, 10:27am (UTC -6)

No worries. In all honesty, it’s kind of funny how little Star Trek explicitly used homosexual elements in this time, so I can see why “Chimera” deserves praise for staying off the radar and still reaching the message on another level.
Thu, Dec 27, 2018, 8:53pm (UTC -6)
I came, I watched, I read the commentary. Some thoughts:

--"Call me Julian." Remember a reluctant O'Brien learning to call Bashir "Julian," with encouragement from Bashir? Well, Julian, look what has happened here. You wanted to be just " Julian" to O'Brien? Congrats, mission accomplished.

--Julian is a good doctor, but terrible officer.

--This episode is all about control - who controls what, what controls who, who controls who.

--Bashir mentioned the Jem Hadar baby. This makes me realize we've not seen a Jem Hadar female. Do they procreate, or do all Jem Hadar babies come straight from the Founder's Factory?

--I don't think the Prime Directive applies here. There's no culture whose development is being artificially threatened or rerouted. The Jem Hadar are enemies. They've destroyed SF vessels. The PD isn't mentioned because it doesn't apply.

--I don't understand what Worf's job entails.

--Ep nicely adds some depth to the Jem Hadar.

A good, solid ep.
Mon, Apr 15, 2019, 8:17am (UTC -6)
I'm surprised so many are bashing Bashir in this episode. I thought he was correct, not only morally, but in terms of wider Federation tactics, and was surprised that he didn't push his arguments further: he should not only agree to help, but try to negotiate the bringing of more Stafleet medical teams over to the planet, or to bring the Jem Hadar to a location where the Federation can help them with high tech equipment. If the Jem Hadar are unwilling and paranoid about being conned, grant them some hostages.

If you're able to prove to the Jem Hadar that they can survive without ketracel white, or develop a white substitute, you've effectively created a rebellion army willing to help you fight the Dominion in the name of emancipation. Starfleet should be running massive political re-education and propaganda campaigns ("Citizens of the Jem Hadar, you are being kept as slaves! Reject your Gods! Say no to Ketracel White!") for precisely this purpose. Divide and conquer. Make it your chief goal to emancipate conquered worlds.

Or if you don't want to meddle, park a couple genesis devices at either end of the wormhole, and threaten to blow it if any Dominion ships approach.

Anyway, I thought this episode's A and B plots dovetailed nicely. In one, Worf struggles to trust Odo, and adapt to his methods, in the other, Bashir and O'Brien struggle to adapt to one another's methods, whilst the Jem Hadar and the Federation struggle over issues of trust as well. Like most DS9 episodes, its all directed flatly, there's not enough momentum and energy in the plot, and aesthetically everything looks drab, but the ideas are good, and some of the dialogue scenes very powerful.
Dr S
Sun, Dec 22, 2019, 12:26pm (UTC -6)
If, in reality, officers acted like O'Brien or Worf, Bashir or Sisko they would face court martial or certainly be officially reprimanded. If the 4 of them had acted according to StarFleet regulations, there would have been no subplot (smugglers), and likely a more introspective main plot (can people help the Jem Hadar despite a terrific aversion to it.)

Instead we have lazy writing.

O'Brien for twice wantonly disobeying direct orders. Worf for not only interfering with Odoe's work, but also ignoring Sisko's directives. In both cases, the "disobedience" was used as a plot device. For O'Brien to create contrived tension between Bashir and O'Brien; and for Worf, to create a sub-filler that would have been a non-story had Worf simply done his proper job.

In both cases the contrived events undermine the whole premise of the story arc.

If the invasion is so threatening, if people are so incredibly focused, why is Worf concerned with smuggling? Why is Sisko tolerating it, especially given his duties and Worf's duries?

Remember when Star Fleet was desperate to find out more about the Dominion, Founders and Jem Hadar? Remember? How is that a science OFFICER was given a chance to directly analyze Jem Hadar, while an NCO directly interfered with that while violating two direct orders, and that was okay?

A character like O'Brien would never have been able to hold that job after thar. He clearly shows no respect for a superior officer, nor any reluctance at doing what he thinks should be done although he's been directly and unambiguously ordered to do the opposite. Yet, he will not be fired in that reality.

Why? Because lazy writers couldn't think of a way to resolve the events on the planet. If O'Brien helped Bashir, then there would be real tension inside him that had to be addressed. But, if he simply disobeys, no tension. And if Bashir simply lets the junior officer force him to change his plans and accepts it (rather than court martial him or force him), no tension. So if everyone ignores what just happened, it's all good. Lazy writing.

The same goes for the Worf episode.

Worf has a huge job. He was brought to DS9 to help stop an invasion of the quadrant. But Worf needs something to do, I guess. Defending the entire quadrant from a horrific invasion isn't going to take enough of his day.

And maybe the writers needed more filler time (or simply a subplot) this time. Anyway, Worf decides, darn it, "I need to have another task like investigating MacGuffin smugglers at the station."

Sisko (Worf's commanding officer) tells Worf to lay off Odoe's turf after he finds out that Worf wants to start taking dealing with smugglers. Instead, of cource, Worf ignores him, and without any repercussions.

Horrible episode.
Dr S
Mon, Dec 23, 2019, 3:51pm (UTC -6)

Compare this episode with Voyager's S1E9 Prime Factors.

In that episode, all of the subplots built to the relevant climax (where the ethical issues of disobeying orders by junior and senior officers.) And, the resolution was logical, thoughtful and honest.

No one got away with insubordination and the ignoring of Star Fleet regulations, but the punishment was tempered in a manner showing it's complexity to the whole.
Jamie Mann
Wed, Jan 1, 2020, 1:00pm (UTC -6)
Another sadly weak episode, despite the fact that there was a lot of potential in the A-plot setup.

After all, here we have an individual from an enemy alien species who is questioning everything about their existence. Not only that, but they're actively looking to rebel against their rulers and are looking for a way to break the chemical chains which keep them enslaved.

Oh, and it's a species which Star Fleet desperately needs to learn more about.

So for O'Brien to be so utterly against Bashir's decision to assist the Jem Hadar - and to even disobey a direct order - is utterly ridiculous.

After all, for all that there may be some risks in breaking the Founders hold on the Jem Hadar, the potential benefits are arguably far greater, and helping them fully aligns with Star Fleet's moral guidelines, as demonstrated by Picard in "I, Borg" - and which occurred when O'Brien was still aboard the Enterprise and which presumably would have been the subject of intent discussion across all of Star Fleet.

However, the writers wanted conflict between Bashir and O'Brien, so that's what we get. And another interesting premise bites the dust.

Sadly, the B-plot is just as weak, as it all hinges on the fact that Odo refuses to clue Worf into his plans, despite the fact that it's clear Worf is continuing to dig into Quark's activities. And once again, Quark somehow manages to use his magic Get Out Of Jail card despite being caught red handed with smuggled goods...
Wed, Jan 1, 2020, 1:14pm (UTC -6)
@ Jamie Mann

"So for O'Brien to be so utterly against Bashir's decision to assist the Jem Hadar - and to even disobey a direct order - is utterly ridiculous."
Eh, have you forgotten episode 6 from season 3? There they had a Jem Hadar child and even with all the equipment of the station they couldn't pacify that Jem Hadar. So O'Briens believe that the Jem Hadar are genetically engineered killers doesn't come from nothing.
What is ridiculous about that episode is that a Jem Hadar just produces white in his body.

" And once again, Quark somehow manages to use his magic Get Out Of Jail card despite being caught red handed with smuggled goods... "
The station is under Bajoran jurisdiction and Quark helped the Bajorans during the occupation by selling them food and meds. I think it is save to say that the Bajorans are willing to look the other way.
Mon, Jan 6, 2020, 10:47pm (UTC -6)
I'll admit, I spent most of this one getting mad at O'Brien. I *guess* it's roughly enough in character, given his track record of becoming prejudiced against, y'know, certain species. But this was a frustrating one to watch.

Goran'Agar has successfully got me interested in the Jem'Hadar, though. Was definitely invested by the time they left him alone on the planet -- though I expected, and hoped, that Bashir would take a blood sample just before leaving so work on the cure could continue off-world. Missed opportunity for the story and for the Federation. It seems like a glaring oversight -- Bashir even mentions that he *could* continue his work. And then forgets. Whoops! Hey Chief, any chance we could turn the runabout around?

B-plot seems to be relatively in tune with the A-plot in that they're both "planning-minded person sets something up that someone who favours a direct approach proceeds to blunder in and destroy". This means that it's similarly annoying to watch, and doesn't even have interesting Jem'Hadar stuff to redeem it. It does develop Worf and Odo's relationship at least?? I guess??

Also I'm choosing to interpret that whole "you wish Keiko was a man?" thing at the start as not "haha gay" but rather "Miles might actually be interested in a relationship with a man, though being married to a woman makes that difficult to come to terms with". Because if I can read this depressingly hetero-only future as something gayer in retrospect, then you bloody well bet I will.
Tue, Jul 7, 2020, 6:47pm (UTC -6)
I just felt sorry for the Chief the whole time.
Sat, Sep 19, 2020, 11:39am (UTC -6)
I feel some of you missed the "non-com" comments Goran'Agar made when they landed the runabout. It's clear to me the episode is divided between strategic and tactical thinking, one reserved to commanders, and the other to soldiers. Given that, it's pretty clear O'brien's rationale is similar to the Jem'Hadars he hates so much, incapable of thinking beyond their feuds and present. No wonder he only identifies with that random soldier ranting he also hates being helped by humans. It's stupid. On the other hand, Bashir realizes that, in the long term, relieving the Jem'Hadar from the addiction could set a military mutiny in their enemies, as Goran'Agar realizes that, in the long term, they have been sistematically exploited and are no different than the religious people they have butchered. A matter of strategic and tactical thinking.
Gaius Maximus
Sun, Oct 18, 2020, 2:15am (UTC -6)
I'm with Bashir on this one. All humanitarian concerns aside, anything that weakens the Dominion has got to be good for the Federation at this point. I just don't buy that the Jem'Hadar alone could possibly be more dangerous than the Founders, Vorta, and Jem'Hadar united. Nor does it seem likely that even if they did go on a rampage, they would all make for the wormhole and attack the Federation rather than staying in the Gamma Quadrant.

@ Jamie Mann - Why would Quark get in trouble for this one? He was working with Odo.
Mon, Oct 26, 2020, 11:29am (UTC -6)
"Hippocratic Oath" opens with a generic shuttle crash sequence, which follows a generic "shuttle conversation" between Bashir and Miles, which follows a generic "scene at Quarks" in which Wolf and Quark trade banalities.

A better writer would have cut this all out and opened with Bashir and Miles already having landed safely on the jungle world of Bokak Three (Why do the Federation keep meddling in the Gamma Quadrant? They've been told this is Dominion territory), where they run into a band of Jem'Hadar soldiers.

These Jem'Hadar are trying to leave the Dominion, but are struggling to do so because they're addicted to ketracel white, which they are in short supply of. They ask Bashir to help them synthesize some white, and to determine if the planet has "medicinal properties" which can "cure" the Jem'Hadar of their ketracel white reliance. Bashir agrees. Miles wants to take advantage of the Jem'Hadar's withdrawal symptoms, and so escape.

The plot to this episode MAKES NO SENSE. Here Starfleet has come across a group of Jem'Hadar who explicitly hate the Dominion, who want to leave the Dominion, and who are perhaps "evolving" to no longer need ketracel white.

Bashir's first thought should be to convince these guys that they should be put in stasis as soon as possible, and then take the runabout, or their own ship, to a Starfleet facility, where they will meet one of their Gods (Odo), and where a couple hundred medical experts will be unleashed upon them to find a cure. What have the Jem'Hadar got to lose? They're going to die.

At the very least, once it has been established that the planet itself has no medicinal properties, they should start discussing getting out of there. Bashir can't put a Jem'Hadar in stasis? Make them unconscious? Hold them in the transporter buffers? DS9 is a few hours away; can't they call Odo (their god) to this planet? Can't they fly to DS9?

And what has Miles or Julian got to lose by first taking this approach? If they find a cure on the planet, they're certain the Jem'Hadar will kill them anyway. And if they don't, they're similarly killed. So take the obvious, most Federationy approach: seduce the Jem'Hadar with promises of emancipation and super advanced health care.

Instead Bashir sits in a bamboo hut for five days, and pretends to work on a miracle cure whilst plotting with Miles to escape. Mirroring this is a dull plot in which Worf learns to "trust Odo's methods". Worf doesn't understand why Odo seems to be "working with the enemy", in much the same way Miles fails to trust Bashir's working with the Jem'Hadar. "DS9 is not like the Enterprise," Sisko then tells Worf. "Out here, there are more shades of grey."

But the "shades of grey" here are artificially constructed, in much the same way most early DS9/Dominion episodes limit the Federation's options in order to force an outcome.

Worf and Odo got in problems because they didn't talk and share information, and Bashir and the Jem'Hadar got into problems because they didn't talk and share information, in much the same way the show itself limits talking and information in order to force us toward certain outcomes.

Imagine Picard handling this situation:

Jem'Hadar: We wish to leave the Dominion. You have Doctor Crusher. She has been programmed to be weak and compassionate. You will make her help us.

Picard: One doctor is not enough. You must allow Starfleet Medical to work on you, either here or at DS9. If we continue to waste time, you and your men will surely die.

Jem'Hadar: But this planet-

Picard: This planet has no medicinal properties. And we cannot synthesize ketracel white here. We need outside assistance.

Jem'Hadar: We do not trust the Federation. We do not trust you.

Picard: Then kill me here and now. I will not waste time with a man too foolish to turn down an offer of help.

Jem'Hadar: The Dominion has told us about-

Picard: The Dominion has held you in shackles. You seek to flee it, even as you believe its lies. You know about the Jem'Hadar boy we released. You know we are friends with a Founder. You know Starfleet Medical has sworn an oath to protect life. Look at my pure, hairless, bald head, perfectly shiny, like a thousand suns. See sense and reason in my astounding head.

Jem'Hadar: It is a beautiful head. We will trust you.

Picard: Good. My doctor will place you in stasis and slow down your metabolism. You will be taken to DS9. Starfleet medical experts will meet us there from Starbase six. We will determine why mutations in your cellular structure have ended your reliance on the enzyme. Science teams will be sent to the Bokak Three, to determine if we missed any medicinal properties or mutagenic fields.

Jem'Hadar: If you betray us, we will kill you.

Picard: You are dead without our help. With our help, you may survive, and if not, anything we learn will be used to free your people.

Jem'Hadar: You will help even those who seek your death?

Picard: In my culture, there is a phrase: Primum non nocere. First Do No Harm. It is one of the principle codes in bioethics, and one of the credos we try to live by. Today, we shall do no harm.

Jem'Hadar: And tomorrow?

Picard: That remains to be seen.

Jem'Hadar: *nods sagely* I see now why the prophets sing songs of the one with the balded head. You truly are the Sisko, as foretold by those who dwell in the Place Without Time and-

Picard: God dammit. Is that a**hole shaving his head again?
Fri, Dec 4, 2020, 12:53am (UTC -6)
As a veteran, lapses of discipline as extreme as O’Brian exhibited in this episode are destructive to morale and effectiveness. Whether Bashir was right or wrong is immaterial. O’Brian should have been court martialed and sent to the brig.

This one episode converted me from an O’Brian fan to an O’Brian hater. I will have to try and overcome this in future episodes as the nature of a 90’s TV show will just hit the reset button on the Chief like it never happened.

But had this been real life I’d have seen O’Brian drummed out of Starfleet sent to a Federation penal colony for his behavior in this episode.
Peter G.
Fri, Dec 4, 2020, 1:31am (UTC -6)
@ GunnyFreedom,

I can see your point about a noncom disobeying the orders of an officer. However I think what they were going for here was a sort of M.A.S.H. situation where the officer in question is technically a superior officer like the doctors on M.A.S.H. were, but who were in fact not competent or equipped to make decisions of any kind that impacted the greater status of the service. For example if Hawkeye happened to be in a combat zone where its CO was killed, he would not have been able to handle taking command of a combat force and issuing it orders. Maybe you can answer what would actually happen in a situation like that where a 'senior officer' improperly pulled rank on soldiers in a life or death situation.

Now it doesn't map perfectly onto this episode because (a) the Federation is technically not at war here, and (b) Bashir was always the CO in this situation. But as their mission was never a combat one, and certainly not one involving making decisions affecting the stability of the quadrant, I feel that O'Brien's decision-making is supposed to reflect a pragmatic knowledge of right and wrong regardless of the fact that a medical officer happened to be along for the ride. I do think the episode takes some pains to show that his choices *are* improper, but that given the extraordinary nature of the situation the ordinary rank and file structure was not necessarily in the Federation's best interest. After all, O'Brien was concerned that his CO was potentially committing a sort of treason. Add to the fact that Starfleet, while military, is not *solely* a military organization, I think they offer more latitude than the U.S. military does for making ethical decisions that defy the command structure. Picard seems to have indicated that that is the case, although there are surprisingly few examples of conscientious defying of orders on Trek. But I do think the groundwork was laid here and there to support O'Brien's position here, even though it is certainly problematic.

In the end, I think the episode is trying to show that two moral people trying to do the ethical thing can actually end up on diametrically opposed sides of an issue, which is at least an interesting message. Too often it's assumed that there is only one right answer, or that if someone disagrees with you then they must be either ignorant, stupid, or evil. Here we see that none of those is the case.
Paul M.
Wed, Jan 20, 2021, 11:55am (UTC -6)
It's interesting to try and understand the motivations behind actions of various characters in this episode. For all the talk about the "big picture" and whether helping Jem'Hadar is in Federation's interest or not, I'm not sure the two main protagonists -- O'Brien and Bashir -- operate on that level.

Bashir, as will be demonstrated again this season in "The Quickening", is a doctor first and foremost. He is willing to do everything in his power, up to and including sacrificing himself, to alleviate the suffering of others, no matter who they are. It doesn't matter if they are the genetically-engineered enemy; in fact I think it makes it even more of a moral imperative for Bashir to help them, because in a way Jem'Hadar are victims by virtue of being who they are.

O'Brien is the one who repeatedly brings up the fact that the Jem'Hadar are the armored fist of the Dominion, and that helping them in any way might bring about unintended, potentially disastrous, consequences. Thing is, I don't think that's his primary motivation. He is constantly depicted as DS9's, and Trek's, resident everyman. He's not someone who loses his sleep debating finer points of morality or worrying about the future of the Federation because of some rogue Jem'hadar. I choose to interpret his rather startling, and explosive, refusal to follow orders primarily in light of two conversations he has with Bashir that bookend the episode. In the beginning he expresses a wish that Keiko was more like... he wants to say "Julian", but ends up saying "a man", highlighting once again (as if the drinking scene from "Explorers" wasn't enough) that O'Brien really loves our good doctor, as a friend and co-worker. Then, at the end of the episode, O'Brien says that he destroyed Bashir's work because that was the only way to save his life. Not because of higher principles or military pragmatism, but because he couldn't let Julian die. I don't know if it was the correct course of action, but I find that very touching.

As for Worf, no , I don't think, as some here do, that writers were making him look stupid (again). I think this little B-story works on two levels. First, I believe it's important to show how a quasi-civilian installation differs from a Starfleet vessel, and how a new transplant from the sister show is bound to have some trouble integrating into the new crew. Sisko is right, there *are* shades of grey aplenty on DS9, and it isn't always easy to navigate them. Second, knowing the real world story behind Michael Dorn's character getting on DS9, I'd say this storyline is a clever meta-commentary by the writers on the perils of and solutions to bringing over a beloved character from the higher-profile sister show. There was always danger that Worf would "take over", step on toes of other characters, and inadvertently diminish them in the process (see also: 7 of 9). This was a way of showing us that no, it's not the others that will have to adapt to Worf, it's Worf that will have to adapt to them. It's a slight B-plot, but an enjoyable one nevertheless.
Fri, Mar 12, 2021, 7:55am (UTC -6)
I would say 5/10, I thought the B story was way more fascinating than Bashir and O'Brien dealing with rogue Jem Hadar. Somehow (and this is just me), I never came to grips with O'Brien going on a nut rage and destroying everything in sight. One would think star fleet's main mandate is to give out a helping hand , Dominion or not.

From what I understood, the ratings were tanking , despite bringing Worf on board , not sure if the writers had pressure to put out something extreme such as O'Brien trashing the main principles of starfleet.
Bob (a different one)
Fri, Mar 12, 2021, 9:53am (UTC -6)
I have a feeling that a lot of you guys would side with Alec Guinness instead of William Holden in "The Bridge on the River Kwai."

Prisoner881 cuts to the heart of the matter with this comment:

"Let us assume there is a magical way Bashir could instantly and completely convert all Jem'Hadar in the galaxy into those who think like Goran'Agar. That is, after all, what Bashir is trying to do, right?

Don't forget Goran'Agar's initial reaction to finding Bashir and O'Brien: he ordered their immediate execution. The only thing that stopped him was finding out Bashir was a doctor. In other words, Goran'Agar was perfectly willing to murder anyone he came across who was not immediately useful to his goals. This is not even remotely a live-and-let-live philosophy. It's just a slightly more reserved form of genocide made palatable by casting Goran'Agar as a sympathetic character. Suppose a colony ship carrying hundreds or thousands of civilians had crashed there instead of Bashir and O'Brien? What do you suppose Goran'Agar would've done with them? It shouldn't take long to arrive at an answer, and that answer would tell you all you need to know about whether O'Brien made the right choice or not."
Wed, Oct 27, 2021, 11:09am (UTC -6)
I've always wanted to like O'Brien's character, but I can't. He's a great actor but over the course of TNG and DS9 it becomes pretty clear that's he is kind of a racist hatemonger which seems really out of place for humans in the 24th century, and yes he should have been court martialed for what he did in this episode.

"You can't trust those Cardies."
Wed, Nov 10, 2021, 7:48pm (UTC -6)
The Jem Hadar stuff here just gates on me because there's so much of the Proud Warrior speak. That trope was way overused by Trek itself even before this episode.

Worf is the prime example, though at least in TNG he's shown as a bit more rounded, and in both TNG and DS9, it's made quite clear that Worf is playing the Proud Warrior Ideal of Klingons that isn't much like real Klingons.

Still, it was a very tired trope on TV by the 90s. If you want to see a particularly hilarious example, watch the young Kurt Russell in his Lost in Space appearance. Russell himself admits it was horrible, but I'm not sure I've ever seen an actor play these kinds of roles well. Invariably it comes across like they just have something stuck up their derrière.
Wed, Nov 10, 2021, 7:50pm (UTC -6)
Kurt Russell in Lost in Space:
Sun, Nov 28, 2021, 9:53pm (UTC -6)
Odo is DS9's chief of security, so is he even at liberty to go undercover offstation on a whim to infiltrate some random criminal enterprise for some indefinite length of time? Aside from a peripheral link to Quark, it has nothing whatsoever to do with DS9 otherwise.
Top Hat
Mon, Nov 29, 2021, 8:18am (UTC -6)
Come to think of it, it's odd that we rarely see Odo liaising with other policing organizations, like the Bajoran Sector equivalent of INTERPOL or something. It's a bit of baggage of the Old West-style construction of Odo as the living embodiment of the law on the station.
Wed, Feb 23, 2022, 1:05am (UTC -6)
I liked this episode but I was just so irritated with O'Brien. All along, there's been this sense that Julian is SOOOOO arrogant, but O'Brien's pride is the problem here.

He thought that he knew better, and he had really no solid justification for it aside from "the bloody Card- uhh Jemmies!" aka racism. We've seen him time and time again be swept up in his inability to view individuals of a species; just broad strokes of resentment and hatred. He's boldly declared "That's all they know how to do"about multiple species by this point!

Maybe Julian was being a little naive but he had the far superior plan, both morally and tactically. And then there's just the blatant disrespect OBrien shows to Julian personally and professionally. Kira, Sisko, Picard, Worf - none of them would have tolerated OBrien's bullshit here. He didn't even TRY to follow orders.

And this is coming from the guy who says in "Tribunal" that he's been in Starfleet his entire adult life and never given anyone reason to distrust him. Uhhh ok. After this episode how could anybody ever trust this guy as a fellow soldier/colleague ever again? For that matter, why is OBrien even IN Starfleet? He's a non-comm, sure, but he doesn't seem to even really embody or care about what Starfleet represents or the ideals of the Federation. It's almost like he just shipped off to get a job.

I honestly don't know how these two could stay friends after this episode. The part at the end with the darts was so ugly to me because it felt like a typical Trek "welp we're at the 48 minute mark, time to wrap things up".
Tue, Apr 19, 2022, 11:46pm (UTC -6)
For the love of Picard, why didn't Bashir take a blood sample!?
Sat, Aug 27, 2022, 10:58am (UTC -6)
I was in two minds about commenting on this one, just because I don't have much to say. I mean, it's okay - not bad by any means, but not 4-star good either. But the comments from a couple snowflakes bleating about "WAYCISM!!! WEH! WEEEEEEEEEEEEEH!!!" compelled me to change my mind.

I'm no fan of Smiley, mainly because I don't find him interesting, but to decry him as a "wayciiiiiiiiist!!!" is just so friggin' pathetic. Imagine if we would've had such imbeciles back in the 1930s: "Not all Germans are Nazis! They're also victims of injustice and Western imperialism!! Let's bomb them drop love and flowers on them, not bombs!!! WAH! WAAAH!! WAAAAAAAAAAH!!!" 🙄🙄🙄🙄🙄

Back in the (ahem!) real world, there was a VERY real possibility that the Jemmies were trying to pull a fast one on Bashar. It could all have been an elaborate ruse to get Bashit to fabricate a potion or whatnot, whereby the Jemmies would liberate themselves from their life-dependent opiate. That would have neutralized what is apparently the Jemmies' one and only Achilles' heel, depriving the Feds from potentially the SOLE way to defeat them if and when it starts going down. Given the invincibility ascribed to the Jemmies, rivaled only by the Borg, you would have to be positively RETARDED to allow that to happen! Smiley was 100% right to countermand Bashir. It's Bashar who should've been court-martialed for being such a moron.

On the off-chance that the Jemmy head honcho there was telling the truth and it wasn't all a ploy, it cost, what, a half a dozen of them their lives. Big deal. Of course, you can argue that, if they were being truthful and if Bashir had have been successful, maybe those few Jemmies could have started a renaissance movement among their own, perhaps even causing internecine conflict, including with the Founders. That conflict, in turn, could have weakened the Jemmies as well as mayhap led to a new, "enlightened" Jemmy race that was all cuddwy and towewant and incwusive and divewse and whatnot, and that they would've been crisscrossing the galaxy giving everyone neck massages... - but that's an awful lot of ifs and could'ves.

Latter-day snowflakes, whose singular experience of conflict, struggle, and hardship has been the dude at an artisANAL hipster breakfast joint putting avocado on a sourdough instead of a multigrain rye toast, are ludicrously all up in Smiley's face about what he did. Those of us with a bit more life experience know very well that age-old and tried-and-proven adage: Better the devil you know!
Thu, Jun 22, 2023, 9:12am (UTC -6)
Another stellar episode that could only work with O'Brien and Bashir. Trying to view this episode through modern day conservative or liberal lenses simply doesn't work and forces one into ridiculous conclusions such as equating Miles to Hitler or believing Bashir to be an utter moron. To boil it down as simply as possible, Bashir was willing to risk everything to save those soldiers. O'Brien was willing to risk everything to save Bashir. Both made bad good and bad decisions within that framework. If the right decision was truly so black and white, there wouldn't be a conflict, moral dilemma or much of an episode. Biggest problem is that Worf and Odo's story was rushed and so clumsily executed that it was an unwelcome respite from the much better A story.

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