Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"The Quickening"

3.5 stars

Air date: 5/20/1996
Written by Naren Shankar
Directed by Rene Auberjonois

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Maybe it was arrogant to think that [you could find a cure in a week]... but it's even more arrogant to think there isn't a cure just because you couldn't find it." — Dax to Bashir

Nutshell: Not the most audacious of premises, but the execution and realizations are absolutely stellar.

When Bashir, Dax, and Kira answer an old automated distress call in the Gamma Quadrant, they arrive at a destroyed planet to find a culture infected by an incurable disease designed by the Dominion two centuries ago as a terrible punishment. The disease is known only as "the blight," and every individual on the planet is born with the condition and is fated to ultimately die by it. The disease is a sort of time bomb; "the quickening," the very advanced and painful final stage of the blight, kills everyone sooner or later. Many die in their childhood, and since most do not live to have children of their own, the culture is looking upon the prospect of their ultimate extinction.

There's nothing particularly special about the way the story of "The Quickening" unfolds, other than its absorbing execution. The idea, after all, of Bashir getting so personally involved in the plight of his suffering patients is nothing we haven't seen before. But execution here is everything. Like with "Hippocratic Oath," Rene Auberjonois proves quite capable at directing DS9 and making a show have lasting impact on an emotional level. "The Quickening" is small, slow, quiet, and involving drama. It's a very simple medical-oriented show for Bashir that really works, unlike "Life Support" from last season, where he was constantly at the mercy of a manipulative plot.

The most important reason for "Quickening's" success is that it allows us to care about the characters and the victims of the blight. I can't put my finger on why exactly it all works so well—whether it's Auberjonois' direction or Naren Shankar's precise dialogue or a combination of both—but the show makes us very sympathetic for these people. Like the Federation, they were once very much in control of their own fate, but their resistance to the Dominion's autocratic hand led to a vicious attack and endless suffering ever since. Yet while keeping everyone someone we can sympathize with, the drama keeps its bounds and never goes the least bit overboard. There's no preaching or excessive melodrama here—just a very even-handed, fair approach to the material.

And such is the case with pretty much the entire story. The creators and actors all seem to know where they're going with the story, and never push harder than they should. Take, for example, the character of Doctor Trevean (Michael Sarrazin). He's a Kevorkian-type who wants to spare people the agony of their final days of life by assisting them in a dignified suicide once the quickening sets in. In the first act, the character initially seems blatantly obvious, right down to an understandable but exaggerated conflict between him and Bashir, who finds it incomprehensible that anyone would help end the life of someone who needs real medical treatment. But the creators play down the conflict angle and make Trevean a sincere and well-intentioned character whose points and actions are very bit as relevant as Bashir's considering that a cure for the condition has indeed been assumed impossible. I appreciate that the episode shows Bashir's disapproval for Trevean's assisted suicides yet still remains completely fair to Trevean and doesn't slight his position.

The show also raises the very true notion that such a culture wouldn't exactly welcome an outside hope for a cure with open arms. Indeed, Trevean even makes a not-so-subtle threat aimed at Bashir and all healers "who bring false hope." The fact that everyone has lost hope in saving themselves is certainly understandable, and the episode manages to work it into the equation realistically. In order to run experiments, Bashir needs volunteers. But it takes a while for the hopeless to work up enough hope to defy the pain and allow Bashir to work with them in their weak, quickened stage.

One of the first Bashir works with is Ekoria (Ellen Wheeler), a pregnant widow who has not yet quickened—who hopes she can survive long enough to give birth. Wheeler does a terrific job with the material. She's another example of the show's strong point: precision characterization performed without needlessly maudlin moments. Eventually, Bashir has a roomful of volunteers, and before too long he even thinks he may have a potential cure.

But things turn dreadfully wrong when all of Bashir's patients begin gyrating and trembling in pain as an unforeseeable element causes them to reject the treatment. (This leads to perhaps the show's one slightly excessive scene where Bashir gets overly involved in trying to save one dying patient while yelling "Breathe! Breathe!" until Dax has to shake him back into reality.) By morning, Bashir has a roomful of bodies, most of whom asked for Trevean's poison to speed their death. Only Ekoria survives the night.

The deaths lead to an interesting character scene where Bashir reveals to Dax that his arrogance got the best of him. I especially liked some of Bashir's dialogue: "I was so arrogant to think I could cure these people in a week; but there is no cure—the Dominion made sure of that." And Dax's response was even better—very relevant and a very scorching wake-up call: "Maybe it was arrogant to think that. But it's even more arrogant to think there isn't a cure just because you couldn't find it." This is a very good scene that's easy to overlook.

Kira and Dax head back to the station, but Bashir decides to stay behind and observe Ekoria's pregnancy while continuing the search for a cure. Things look bleak. Ekoria quickens while still several weeks away from being ready for delivery. She doesn't think she will make it, but Bashir helps her through it until the scene where we're presented with the obligatory childbirth scene. Childbirth scenes make for one of TV's biggest cliches, but this birth is a powerful one—Ekoria gives birth to a child with no signs of the blight, and seconds after she realizes what this means, she collapses and dies. A bit theatrical, perhaps—but very effective nonetheless. Bashir realizes that his treatment will not cure people who already have the blight, but it will prevent mothers from passing it onto their children. It isn't a complete cure, but it's a very large and important step forward. It's nice to see Bashir be a hero under believable circumstances.

The writers also further prove Trevean is not a simple caricature by providing a scene where he enthusiastically takes on the responsibility of seeing others get the vaccine in hopes of curing the future generation. The ending also features a particularly poignant moving crane shot that shows Bashir watching from afar as the people crowd around the newborn baby that they see as their savior. I really liked this shot. Kudos to Auberjonois. David Bell's score also deserves recognition.

While "Quickening" isn't a groundbreaking episode that goes out of its way to choose a topic that's particularly audacious or new, it does cover its chosen topic almost perfectly and with emotional depth. Dramatically, it ventures just up to the point that it should and no farther. The result is a story that feels very real, with characters that act rational and true to themselves, such that we care about what happens to them and we care about the story.

Previous episode: To the Death
Next episode: Body Parts

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52 comments on this review

Thu, Sep 11, 2008, 10:10pm (UTC -5)
Great review, Jammer - this is one of the most underrated episodes of DS9 and one my personal favourites. It's also nice to see a "medical" episode that isn't laden down with technobabble jargon. I should also mention Siddig's performance, especially in the childbirth system - very well done!
Sun, Aug 2, 2009, 12:43pm (UTC -5)
The episode never mentions that the EM fields that mutated the virus are also in all likelihood the reason Ekoria quickened the very next day.
Tue, Nov 10, 2009, 9:25pm (UTC -5)
I guessed very early on that the baby would not have the disease because of Bashir's injections... but somehow, when the childbirth scene arrived the episode had managed to make me forget that fact and I was still extremely surprised. I guess, like you said, it all comes down to the execution!
Wed, Jun 16, 2010, 2:28pm (UTC -5)
This is a fantastic episode and quintessential Star Trek.
Tue, Jul 13, 2010, 10:43am (UTC -5)
I really liked that the matte backgroudn they created for the city. It was a very intriguing setting.
Sun, Dec 26, 2010, 2:24pm (UTC -5)
I do indeed like this episode, but no one seems to have noticed that Travean's "hospital" is a thinly veiled analogy for Mother Theresa's House for the Dead. It's a biting commentary taken in that context, but it seems no one realised it, perhaps not even the writer himself.
Thu, Jan 27, 2011, 6:40pm (UTC -5)
Elliot you know Mother Theresa actaully gave a fuck about the poor and tried her best and may i ask do you help the poor?
Sat, Jan 29, 2011, 6:46pm (UTC -5)
Dude, seriously, knock it off. I don't know you, you don't know me. This is a fansite. Stop slinging your biased religious detritus at me.
Fri, Feb 4, 2011, 1:02pm (UTC -5)
I'm not religious actually personally i'm more of an agnostic/ lapsed catholic I just think that for all her faults she did genuinely try her best to help the poor and she showed compassion for the poor. I think this was intended as an AIDS allegory and the look was inspired by 16th 17th century art
Mon, Jan 23, 2012, 6:31pm (UTC -5)
good to see another example of the darker side of trek that was common in DS9.
The arrogance of bashir who thought no cure existed solely cos he could not find it , and people die.
Joseph S
Mon, Jun 25, 2012, 2:25pm (UTC -5)
As I was watching the episode, I kept noting the times that Bashir would comment on how Trevean has lived longer than anyone else without quickening - and about halfway through, I started to fear that the episode was going to take another route: namely that Trevean has had the cure all along, but maybe he's a Dominion operative, or a Founder, or maybe was threatened by either or both of these into hiding the cure, or God knows what else. And I'm SO glad the writers didn't choose to go there. It would've cheapened the message of this story, which is one of hope. Well done!
Mon, Oct 29, 2012, 1:46am (UTC -5)
I agree. A great episode, in its own kind of quiet way.
Sat, Feb 16, 2013, 5:03am (UTC -5)
Great episode, I liked the fact that Bashir didn't find a cure, even at the end, it was a vaccine and that last part where Sisko realizes that Bashir hasn't given up makes the ending even better.

People are still dying back there.

Yes... but their children won't.
Tue, Feb 19, 2013, 4:18pm (UTC -5)
Absolutely fantastic episode. I really like Bashir so managed to get quite immersed in the story, I've never gotten quite so emotional about a TV childbirth, I felt so happy for him!

I also noticed the Mother Theresa parallel, although her philosophy was to keep them alive as long as possible despite the suffering as she believed letting them die was against God's will whereas Travean wanted to end their suffering. Both were doing what they believed was right, but they were both ultimately unhelpful and misguided endeavors.
Wed, May 8, 2013, 9:48pm (UTC -5)
This episode was just very well done and made me feel for the victims. A "partial success" for Dr. Bashir was the right dramatic approach. They actually used some "real" technobabble when talking about the virus. I, too, suspected that Trevean was a Founder in disguise. I agree with the comment that the art direction was well done and innovative. Ellen Wheeler did a great job as Ekoria.
Wed, Jul 10, 2013, 8:05am (UTC -5)
Absolutely brilliant episode about hope, arrogance and death. Thank goodness Auberjonois directed this. The music was also spot on. Loved it.
Fri, Aug 2, 2013, 4:16pm (UTC -5)
Great episode, but Jadzia's line about "no one there to translate for you" seemed odd, since there was no sign she had been doing that before. He conversed just fine with everyone even in scenes where Jadzia wasn't there.
Tue, Aug 6, 2013, 4:12am (UTC -5)
@Jack, Dax was referring to the fact that she had to translate Bashir's medical jargon for the locals. She does it several times during the episode.
Shawn Davis
Tue, Aug 20, 2013, 3:11am (UTC -5)
Greetings. I just got through watching this episode. This is a great episode of ST:DS9. I especially had some respect for the character Julian Bashir in this one and how the actor Sid El Fadil played him so well in this, especially since previous episodes like last seasons "Distant Voices" while not a terrible episode didn't do a good job in developing Dr. Bashir very well.

I also agree with Joseph S on what he said about the ending of the episode not going the simple route of someone holding the cure of the disease for themselves or the plague being a Dominion plot. The ending where the doctor actually created a vaccine and not a medicine and where Sisko said that at least their children of that species will survive is perfect for this episode.
Wed, Oct 23, 2013, 6:29pm (UTC -5)

Even Bashir can't cure everything. Good episode.

Wed, Jan 1, 2014, 11:32am (UTC -5)
@ ProgHead777

If Julian can't translate medical jargon to something Ekoria can understand, that's pretty sad. Speaking "layman" isn't a foreign language.
Mon, Feb 3, 2014, 11:57am (UTC -5)
The premise and the episode was great, but what made it really, really excellent is the ending. I sincerely thought it would be the ending cliché: Bashir finds the cure, too late for the mother but just in time to cure the baby and everyone else.

Instead, the fact that he found a vaccine was completely unexpected (by me at least) and felt really plausible and genuine. And in a way it was even more touching for me than if he had found a realy cure.

The bitter-sweetness of the ending, and the definite embodiment of hope (not for themselves, but for their civilisation's future) actually kind of choked me up (which is unusual for me, I have to say).

Really, really well done.
Thu, Feb 20, 2014, 3:20am (UTC -5)
A bittersweet episode that had me doubting Bashir would find any kind of cure. Not only did he devise one--at least, for the planet's unborn children--he earned more respect from me here than in all his previous episodes together. The smug attitude may be just a cover for his passion and the concern he has for his patients. I still want to punch him sometimes, though. xD

I also felt something for the victims, especially Ekoria. The effects of the disease were well depicted but not overdone. It seems shallow in comparison to everything else, but I have to say Terry Farrell was even more beautiful with her hair down. I'll remember this episode for many reasons, all of them good.
Tue, Feb 25, 2014, 5:20am (UTC -5)
Amazing episode and one of the best vehicles for Bashir in the whole series. The idea he was able to find a vaccine instead of a cure was fantastic writing. Everything about the direction and the acting by all involved really made me care about these people and their plight. Being put in a position of choosing to end a life to ease suffering was also well written here and made sense relative to the plot. This was a labor of love and it shined brilliantly despite being a quieter episode. Quiet can be good.

As for the "translate for you" comment by Dax to Bashir - it was more tongue-in-cheek than anything.

This was always a classic to me. 4 stars.
Mon, Mar 31, 2014, 9:21pm (UTC -5)
Simple and deep, Star Trek takes on Euthanasia with a bias of course, but it is a good episode that tries to explore a need to raise the quality of life and make it worth living.

Thu, Jul 31, 2014, 9:11am (UTC -5)
Just great Trek and great character building episode for Julian.

Not much to add to Jammer's review here.

Damn, this virus was something. It even grew stronger in the presence of technology used to try and figure it out.

Julian gets his ego slapped around a bit to the point where he, of all people, doesn't need to take credit at the end.

The Dominion once again a revealed as "no joke".

Funny how an innocent baby always translates to hope. I really felt for Ekoria, enduring the excruciating pain for weeks to ensure her child had a chance to live.

This episode always brings a tear to my eye and a lump to my throat.

I can't find a reason not to give this one a 4.0.

Great Trek!
Ian G
Tue, Aug 19, 2014, 8:08am (UTC -5)
I agree with you, the hidden strenght of this episode is its dramatic restraint. The powerful emotions that in revokes flow naturally from the story, instead of being thrown in our faces. It also doesn't follow the usual Trak formulas. Trivian is actually a good person who's actions are understandable given the hopeless circumstances and we can see his side of things. His conflict with Bashir is muted and grey; the episode avoids falling into a predictable dichotomy and instead focuses on the power of hope. Bashir's partial sucess at the end in curing the next generation further strengthens this theme.
Sat, Jan 3, 2015, 7:47pm (UTC -5)
Trivian is Doctor Kevorkian.
Fri, Feb 13, 2015, 4:50am (UTC -5)
@Moegreen, I liked De. Kevorkia . I really liked Julian in this episode. His ego was bruised, but he was a true hero here. he truly cared.
William B
Sun, Dec 6, 2015, 4:01pm (UTC -5)
I will try to write more about this later, but I agree that this is a particularly strong episode -- and it's also very classic Trek, albeit also very focused on the particulars of Bashir's character. One of my favourites of the season.
Diamond Dave
Sun, Jan 3, 2016, 1:56pm (UTC -5)
This episode deserves some kudos for its examination of Bashir's arrogance and hubris, and in its look at where society might go in the absence of hope and in the presence of false hope. In that way it's unusually bleak even by DS9 standards.

But even if it didn't follow the formula, doesn't mean it's not formulaic in its own way - it's a pretty generic medical piece in fact. I just didn't get on with it. Ironically, perhaps the most enjoyable part was the completely out of context intro. 2 stars.
Sun, Feb 21, 2016, 2:17pm (UTC -5)
Did the writers retcon Bashir's past here? He was talking about his teddy bear as if he'd always wanted to be a doctor, but I thought he wanted to be a tennis player for a long time first.
Peter G.
Mon, Feb 29, 2016, 4:39pm (UTC -5)
@ JC,

I wondered the same thing. I concluded that he's kind of making things up to create levity, sort of ret-conning his own past to pretend that when he sewed his bear he was preparing to practice medicine. I guess it feels like a poetic conceit on his part rather than disclosure about his past. It's like an opera singers saying that when they sang for their parents at the age of three they were beginning their career in the opera house already; untrue but retrospectively cute to say.

One thing I'd like to point out about this episode occurred to me very early on in the story and never left until the end. Namely, that if the Dominion engineered a fancy virus to punish these people and make an example of them it strikes me that it would be quite dangerous for Starfleet people to be found there. But more to the point, very dangerous for the victims as well. If they're already undergoing punishment imagine the punishment they'd get if they found a way to cure themselves and undo what the Founders did to them. I rather think that if the people effectively defied the Founders by curing their population that the Jem'Hadar would be sent back in but this time simply to wipe them out, which is what the Jem'Hadar normally do from what we've been told.

At the end of the episode when Bashir developed a vaccine and the people were celebrating, my thought was "Wow, he just signed their execution order. These people are going to be wiped out because of this." It plays well into the theme of his arrogance that he didn't even consider this when deciding to help them.

Boris Zakharin
Sun, Apr 3, 2016, 4:07pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G,
There is no evidence that the Dominion has been back to check up on them. As long as they lay low on their own planet and/or don't bother the Dominion, they are probably safe. The Jem'Hadar may or may not come, which is better than the certainty of a slow extinction of the entire race.
Mon, Apr 18, 2016, 2:54pm (UTC -5)
Good episode, overall.

But will someone please feed that poor baby?
Tue, Apr 19, 2016, 11:33pm (UTC -5)
I know a lot of people really like this episode but I'm afraid I'm going to have to be the contrarian yet again (hey, I am the guy who gave "Masks" a higher score than "The Inner Light" after all :-P). While "The Quickening" does have some superb characterization for virtually all the guest characters, Bashir's doesn't really stand up.

So, Bashir, the man who adamantly demanded that Bareil be allowed to die with dignity back in "Life Support", even over the objections and downright pleading of Kira, is now absolutely aghast (AGHAST I TELL YOU!!!!) that there is someone on this planet helping people die with dignity. Never mind that they've been suffering from this disease for two centuries without any hope of a cure. Never mind that even his genetically engineered intellect couldn't come up with a cure (and doesn't by the end of the episode). Assisted suicide is evil! Okay, maybe it's not fair to bring up his genetic enhancements as that hasn't been introduced to the series as of yet, but I trust you get my point. This goes directly against Bashir's established characterization of being perfectly okay with letting people die with dignity instead of prolonging their suffering. And that is only done because this week we're supposed to see euthanasia as wrong, character traits be damned.

There's also a couple of other major problems with "The Quickening". First, Kira just farts off to some random nebula for an entire week while Bashir and Dax work on the cure? Umm, what the hell was she doing that whole time?! Did she spend the entire week meditating or something? And apparently it's once again perfectly okay for numerous members of the senior staff to just go missing for days on end without anyone back on the station caring even slightly. Second, the opening scene of the teaser is completely unnecessary and apparently is only there to further shit on Quark. It adds exactly nothing to the story and is completely unconnected to anything that comes after it. Oh, Quark made some advertisements that he downloaded into the comm system? Why, that diabolical fiend! To quote "Raiders of the Lost Ark" - the man is nefarious! Seriously, who gives a shit?! But I guess we really needed another scene of Kira threatening physical violence against someone for no apparent reason because it's not like she did that exact thing only two episodes ago with Garak.

Still, Jammer is absolutely right that the characterization is beautifully precise and focused for the guest characters and that the execution of that material is extremely well done. I also loved how Trevean is presented as a guy who is genuinely concerned about his people and more than willing to help distribute the vaccine. Given how ludicrous they made Bashir's reaction to his assisted suicides, they could have easily made him a mustache-twirling villain. Kudos for not going down that predictable route.

William B
Wed, Apr 20, 2016, 3:52pm (UTC -5)
@Luke, I think the Bareil situation and the situation in this episode are different. Bashir's objection in the case of Bareil was that continuing to add more robot parts to his brain was sufficiently invasive with decreasing results. In this episode, there is an *institutionalized culture* of euthanasia, where the whole social organization is tied to death, where people have given up on anyone surviving the blight. I don't personally have a problem with assisted suicide, but I am a little uneasy about the idea of this level of large-scale social structure supporting suicide, to the point where it is *universally expected* that everyone will commit suicide once they reach a certain point in their illness. As it turns out, it is not strictly compulsory, but I think we see evidence of social/psychological cost of someone fighting to survive and try to find a cure. More to the point, Bashir mostly just has Travean's word for it that he does "what they ask." As we see later in the episode, he really does push "you and your unborn child will be happy dead!" on a woman in the delirium of pain who has already stated several times that she wants to try to work with Bashir to find a cure. I'm not saying he's a bad man -- far from it, as we see in the episode. He believes in what he is doing. But I think he also exerts a certain amount of pressure and is also clearly a community leader, which makes it harder for people who maybe don't want to die by poison to build up the strength to fight. I mean, really:

EKORIA: Trevean. Am I dead?
TREVEAN: Is that what you want? I can end your suffering. Your child will have known nothing but peace.
EKORIA: No. He deserves a chance to live.
TREVEAN: The Blight will take him in the end.
BASHIR: Trevean. I didn't realise you made house calls.
TREVEAN: I was concerned that she might be too weak to come to me.

Now, yes, this is Trevean late in the episode. But this is the type of thing that Bashir is (understandably) concerned about -- that Trevean sticks around sick people, telling them how the blight will kill them anyway so might as well get on with it, and continuing to push until either they agree, someone else intervenes, or he finally gives up. He does not just get their consent, but pushes for it, and argues that that is what their two-weeks-from-birth child, who obviously can't consent, would want too. And to his credit he *does* give up. But Bashir's not wrong to be concerned that this guy is pushing them too hard. To put it another way,

Bashir's reaction makes sense as a response to this situation and what he sees as glorifying death. I don't really think the episode is even arguing against euthanasia -- Bashir's initial reaction is shown to be arrogant/wrong and Dax tells him how arrogant he was. It *is* arguing in favour of hope, but a) a muted hope and b) once the hope comes it's the suicide-assistor that Bashir goes to to dispense it, i.e. the person in society Bashir trusts the most is the guy in charge of assisted suicide.
Thu, Apr 21, 2016, 11:46am (UTC -5)
I don't know. It still seems out of character for me, especially when Bashir first learns about Trevean's methods. It's clear that he's absolutely horrified by the thought that Trevean let the woman he brings in to his "hospital" die. And that's well before he and Dax learn about how this society has come to welcome, possibly even worship, death as a release. There's also the fact that Bashir insists on "helping" the man who dies in the hospital despite Trevean's request not to. And that is after he knows what is going on.

Another problem I found looking back after watching it, which goes somewhat along with how Bashir is basically allowed to take close to a month off of work on the station with no consequences. Why didn't he have some other people come and help him? Obviously this isn't a Prime Directive issue, as these people have clearly had contact with other worlds before, so bring some other Federation medics back to the planet in order to help find a cure. If Sisko and Starfleet are willing to let DS9's Chief Medical Officer leave for such an extended amount of time, why don't they send him some aid?

I might be willing to rise the score to a 5/10, if I'm feeling generous. But there are still the other problems with the episode. I think I'll stick with 4/10 for now.
William B
Thu, Apr 21, 2016, 12:37pm (UTC -5)
I will have to check out that scene of Bashir insuring on "helping." I see your point, I do, but I don't think it's inconsistent to be against replacing a mostly dead guy's brain with a computer and be shocked that a planet essentially has no medical care that isn't assisted suicide. Bashir has that arrogant genius tendency to think he can fix most problems and to get angry when people question this -- which is sort of the subject in Melora, Hippocratic Oath, Statistical Probabilities and Chrysalis. He thinks he knows better than everyone, and with some cause -- he is actually a genius. But he very often turns out to be wrong. In Life Support, *he* decided it was Bareil's time. And indeed he's ready to basically agree that everyone should die by assisted suicide after his initial failure to find a cure before Dax points out that his failure to find one in a week of trying is no guarantee there isn't one. Some of this is that I think Bashir is kind of a control freak, who has a lot of blind spots, and I think that's part of what this episode is about. However, unlike in Melora or Hippocratic Oath, here Bashir is allowed some victory, because it's not actually ALWAYS doomed to failure to try to find a way to help people when the odds seem against you. So I see Bashir's reaction more as being about SENSELESS death, and he judges it as senseless because he's arrogant enough to think he can make snap judgments about the viability of a cure. However, arrogant or no, his instincts aren't entirely wrong (he does find a vaccine). Which I do think is in character, though I can see how mileage may vary on this point.

I agree that it's weird not to send aid, and for Bashir to be able to work on this indefinitely. Given that I find Miles running off to investigate Mrs Bilby's disappearance on his own for some unclear length of time pretty ridiculous in Prodigal Daughter, I should admit some consistency on this point. It doesn't actually bother me in this episode, for some reason, but I agree it's a problem that they (the writers) should have tried to patch up.
Mon, Jul 4, 2016, 12:54pm (UTC -5)
The weeks of being away from DS9 without even asking permission also bothers me, as is the lack of a medical team to assist. I call this a VOY moment. It could have been dealt with easily and kept the episode intact.

@Luke, I think the biggest difference with Bareil is that *Bashir* was the one who had already tried everything to save him before admitting surrender. His ego as the galaxy's greatest doctor drives him to try. It actually fits his character pretty well, inclusive of the death of Bareil.

I also didn't like the Quark-bashing. I wonder if Armin Shimerman was in on this; he was a Trekkie since "Glass Menagerie" first aired and campaigned to audition for the role of Quark. He did amazing things with the material he was given. Was that the full extent of his influence?

One of the best moments is the beginning where Bashir looks out at the stars filled with wonder at the chance to explore new worlds. I feel that way every time I look at the sky (apropos, I am writing this just a few hours before the Juno probe enters Jupiter's orbit, a chance for real discovery). He has the audacity to hope that his two lovely female companions (about whom we know he has fantasized) will join in his romanticism. Sadly they just roll their eyes. The events of the Quickening are meant to reality-check his enthusiasm. But I still like that he is an inherently optimistic character. If I'm not mistaken, he is the only one in the whole cast who has a positive outlook! Every other member of the cast is deeply jaded and has every right to feel that way: Sisko, Dax, Kira, Odo, Quark, Worf, O'Brien, even Jake.
Tue, Aug 9, 2016, 1:26am (UTC -5)
When you come right down to it, I don't know that there was a more purely evil race in ST than the Founders . Both in this episode and in their actions in the war, they show absolutely no hesitation in committing genocide and callously sentencing generations born and unborn to death and suffering.

And I think it is a serious flaw in DS9 that the writers often blurred the fundamental evil of the Founders with Odo's desire to return home and join the great link, as if partaking in shape-shifting orgasms would mitigate killing 800 million people on Cardassia or torturing babies and children for generation upon generation w/out end.

It would be like saying, "well Hitler wasn't such a bad guy 'cause he really loved Eva." All he really needs is a hug.

Bah. The worst most evil Nazi running a WWII concentration camp is a saint compared to the Founders.

Peter G.
Tue, Aug 9, 2016, 2:18am (UTC -5)
@ SouthofNorth,

I think you're right about the scope of the Founders' crimes, but fwiw the Nazis did what they did in the midst of normal human society, whereas the Founders are really a life form quite different from what we're used to. We can barely grasp how they think, let alone how to judge their morality. Agreed that they needed to be stopped at all costs, but judging a race seems like it ought to be based on what that race understood at the time they did it, and there seems to me a lot of evidence that the Founders have huge gaps in their understanding of many things. There are hints in the series that they may even spend aeons in the link, perhaps thousands of years at a time literally doing nothing. The female Changeling mentioned once that they don't even really register the passage of time, which makes it an incredible hassle for any of them to have to monitor events in real time.

If we consider that they've had those habits for thousands upon thousands of years, it might not be such a surprise that they've lost all touch with what we'd call enlightened reason. Maybe Odo could teach them; maybe he's deluded. But if he could teach them something it would be worthwhile, since they're easily the oldest race the Federation has ever met other than various godlike beings. I have a suspicion that the Founders may have been stewing in that link for even millions of years, in which case even I could see how that would make any short-term events and even other races completely irrelevant to them. "I've been here for a million years, and you played with sticks a few thousand years ago. Just screw off."
Sun, Jan 29, 2017, 11:50pm (UTC -5)
Hello Everyone!

I liked that Dr. Bashir didn't come up with the cure/vaccine in just a day or two, as sometimes I believe Really Big Problems end up having a solution within a amount of time that is too short. In a way, it didn't feel like a month or so, to me, but the events of the story led me to believe time had passed (mostly because they said so). But that was better than a somewhat instant "Eureka!" moment I'd come to expect.

As far as him being gone for so long, I do believe that would present a problem on the station. They had no idea how long he was going to be gone. I'd think they'd get a replacement, at least a short-term one. He seems to have a good staff, but he is the Head of the Department and he would be missed for many different reasons.

Heh, I had to watch this over the course of two days, and had completely forgotten the beginning, with the catchy jingle of Quarks bar, by the time I got to the ending. I found it funny, especially when Worf walked in, but in retrospect, it was obvious to me it was just a way to get the other characters into a very Bashir-centric episode. Whether or not is was fair to Quark's character, well, it seems like something he'd try because *why not?*.

I big thumbs-up from me for the episode, though. It was better than I remembered it being.

Have a great day... RT
Sat, Mar 11, 2017, 1:42pm (UTC -5)

Quite clear (to me) that these no-good-way-out medical and ethical storylines are the very best DS9 has to offer. In a greater cinematic/literary sense, one can see the early seeds of BSG's 2003 revival planted here. (As well as Ron Moore, naturally.)
Sun, May 7, 2017, 9:41am (UTC -5)
Hey, we just suffered a planet-wide catastrophe. Let's send out a vague request for help for any passing ships to help. Let's make sure we don't mention it's medical in nature. We just want any tiny shuttle with traders, hairdressers, whatever, to stop by.

Hey, we're 3 people in a shuttle, in enemy territory, getting a vague distress call. I'm sure between a doctor (who's on the mission for no reason), a former terrorist, and a science officer with a fetish for dumb, violent men, we can solve any planet-wide issue. Also, let's beam down to some random spot and assume this is where all the action is.

Stupid. Hard to look past the forced premise.
Thu, Aug 17, 2017, 6:52pm (UTC -5)
Another solid medical drama but one that didn't resonate with me as much as it seems to have with Jammer or other commenters. I think it's good that Bashir wasn't able to find the cure-all (more realistic) but instead did achieve some progress -- not a perfect solution. My question then becomes, if the only cure is for babies, who will be around to take care of them? The people will still go extinct in all likelihood.

Aside from that grim reality, the episode benefited from some good guest actors like the pregnant woman, the older man doing the euthanizing and the one bald-headed patient. The scene when the bald guy dies was powerful as the others also began dying. Yes, a bit cliche with Bashir trying to resuscitate him but still a powerful scene.

Like Jammer mentions, the shot of Bashir standing on part of the ruins observing the newborn baby and the crowd from afar was also well done.

I felt the episode dragged a bit and I didn't wind up feeling emotionally attached to the dying people -- yes their plight is a terrible one and it generates even more impetus for defeating the Dominion, but I also wonder how Bashir can just decide he needs to help these people without worrying about duties on DS9. We know he is a very dedicated doctor -- "Hippocratic Oath" comes to mind.

I'd rate "The Quickening" 2.5 stars -- didn't think it added much more to Bashir's character although the arrogance/hubris dialogue with Dax was excellent. Some loose ends like how Bashir can spend a few weeks on the planet, what happens to the babies ... it didn't really resonate with me emotionally. Not really an episode to touch on ethics either. Credit deserved for not going beyond the realm of what's believable in terms of the medical part -- kept it grounded with the doctor/patients and desire to help at all costs.
Mon, Aug 20, 2018, 2:24am (UTC -5)
This is the 3rd great Bashir episode in the standout fourth season of DS9-and it's the darkest and most compelling of the three. Poor acting easily could have made this episode laughable-but it wasn't. It was gripping and compelling from start to finish. This episode also marks yet another example of DS9's idealism-while it takes Bashir to task for his hubris, it ultimately allows him to save the next generation. Beautiful stuff.

4 stars.
Wed, Aug 29, 2018, 11:19pm (UTC -5)
Never once have I seen Bashir as arrogant but Jadzia Dax from season 1 thru season 6 was so arrogant it would make a person eat nails. It is that "worm" thing inside a young woman now and it wants to keep carrying on the way it did in Curzon. Gettin' drunk as a dog - eventho' there are no dogs in that area of the universe - having illicit sex with a wife while her man is fightin' a visious war - playing tongo with Ferengi and gettin' drunk and laffin' it up - head-banging with a bunch of Kingon's - kickin' young men like Sisko in the butt and teachin' 'em 'bout life! Curzon was garbage! We only know him by what people tell us, tho'.

I never disliked the Jadzia character, but just that hard balled no-eyed thing in a live body as well as the TNG ep where it took over Beverly Crusher... It is nasty to think that a culture would pick up those things and put them in their bodies in the belief that their intellect would be increased.

Since Starfleet will now know what the Founders are all about, they should have taken that disease and made a huge vat of it; located the Founders in the goo caramel/butterscotch pudding state and poured it all over them. Let them die early on and there would not have been a war. I detest the creep that wrote destroy Earth, this is the only home us humans is got and if in reality aliens wanted us dead, we'd be dead. If Yahweh, before he was called Yahweh, had had his way human beings would never had been cloned in a lab in the subafrican lab. However, blah, blah, blah, he did his best kill all the earthlings........

Oh, yeah, pick on Bashir because he would turn Bariel into a g. d. robot. That is what he would have been and where would his and Kira's kove be then? Hmmmm? People, get real. This is not realism it is fantasy!!!!!!! Get with it.

As far as get a new doctor 'cause Bashir is away? They would have tons of doctor's on a station like DS9 just as they did on TOS and TNG and very unlike the dopes that set up Voyager on a trip into fires of hell Badlands, got it yet?, no doubt there would be Bajorean medical teams; there is a Bajorean nurse by Bashir's side.



Sat, Dec 1, 2018, 12:06am (UTC -5)
3.5 stars

Not much to add to Jammer’s review. It’s an episide that’s more of an emotional moving experience than one open to a lot of analysis
Fri, Jan 11, 2019, 9:34pm (UTC -5)
Good episode. Well done all around - well acted, written, directed.

QUARK: Eh, this ep was about arrogance vs humility, self-aggrandizement vs altruism. And this amusing (Dorn was so funny with his prune juice!) beginning was about Quark's arrogance. "The nerve of him!" says Kira. "I love how my name spins around!" says Quark. That darn Quark was meddling with the stations systems, injecting them, so to speak, with his ads. Kira threatens to hurt him, if he doesn't fix it. He does.

Is Julian too arrogant ? Is he doing it for the glory? Trevian threatens Julian - if Julian is here for his own selfish purposes, Trevian will hurt him.

Is Trevian too arrogant? Is he doing it for the glory?

Do they both like watching their names spin around a just little too much?

The episode really isn't judgmental, and that's what makes it great. I think we have a bit of a deliberate mislead on Trevian - we're to wonder if he's really a good guy. This adds to the impact of the scene where he's thrilled with Bashir's news about the baby.

I think the message is that while both arrogance and self-interest serve their purpose, it is in humility and selflessness that we will find our true fulfillment and successes.

There's a lot going on in this ep, and I wish I had the time for a more thorough analysis. But good stuff!
William B
Fri, Jan 11, 2019, 10:21pm (UTC -5)
@Springy, great comments. I really love this ep.
Star Trek Joy
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 6:42pm (UTC -5)
There's no Prime Directive violations happening here? Bashir seems too involved.

Starfleet has been in and out of the Gamma Quadrant many times at this point. I missed why this is the first time they have picked up that distress call, one that has been signaling for 200 years?

Why is every new discovered planet filled with white actors? It seems more often than not that aliens are only truely alien looking or majoritively diverse when they are villians.

Overall great episode.

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