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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60 comments on this review

Josh
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!
Jay
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.
Nic
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!
Leaf
Wed, Jun 16, 2010, 2:28pm (UTC -5)
This is a fantastic episode and quintessential Star Trek.
petetong
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.
Elliott
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.
jon
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?
Elliott
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.
jon
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
Lucian
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!
William
Mon, Oct 29, 2012, 1:46am (UTC -5)
I agree. A great episode, in its own kind of quiet way.
Maaz
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.

BASHIR
People are still dying back there.

SISKO
Yes... but their children won't.
Jake
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.
Aaron
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.
chrispaps
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.
Jack
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.
ProgHead777
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.
Kotas
Wed, Oct 23, 2013, 6:29pm (UTC -5)
Even Bashir can't cure everything. Good episode.

7/10
Jack
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.
Jons
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.
Dusty
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.
Vylora
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.
Trekker
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.

9.5/10
Yanks
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.
Moegreen
Sat, Jan 3, 2015, 7:47pm (UTC -5)
Trivian is Doctor Kevorkian.
MsV
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.
JC
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.
Quarkissnyder
Mon, Apr 18, 2016, 2:54pm (UTC -5)
Good episode, overall.

But will someone please feed that poor baby?
Luke
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.

4/10
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.
Luke
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.
Skywalker
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.
SouthofNorth
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."
RandomThoughts
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
Sven
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.)
Gooz
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.
Rahul
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.
Iceman
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.
Cinnamon
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.

USE YOUR IMAGINATIONS. BETTER YET, READ GRIMMS FAIRY TALES AND LEARN TO IMAGINE.

G'BYE
Startrekwatcher
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
Springy
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.
Robbie
Thu, Apr 4, 2019, 7:42pm (UTC -5)
Like Petetong said, the multiple matte painting backgrounds and indoor / outdoor sets really add a lot to this episode. With the amount of rubble built up and cast of extras, I wonder how much the budget of this one compared to the average DS9 episode.

Much more compelling than some of the times they go to Cardassia/Bajor/Ferenginar and you only see one painting and a single indoor set the whole episode.
Jackson
Wed, Apr 24, 2019, 12:49pm (UTC -5)
I don;t think this violates the Prime Directive, because this race was previously more advanced and was devastated artificially.

So Bashir's actions are more or a restoration, or to co-opt the title of another Trek episode that involved a restoration, a Tuve-fix.
Elliott
Wed, May 1, 2019, 3:54pm (UTC -5)
HAMLET: You do lie in it, to be in it and say it is yours. It is for
the dead, not for the quick, therefore you lie.
CLOWN: It is a quick lie, sir, it will go away again from me to you.

Teaser : ***.5, 5%

We begin by finding an entertaining way to justify paying most the cast in this week's episode. Quark has begun inserting YouTube ads for his bar onto the station monitors, which I think entitles him to a life sentence in a Cardassian work camp. If ever there was a cogent anti-capitalist message on this show, it's here. Quark didn't just advertise on the monitors, however, as an enraged Worf—yes noticeably enraged, even for him—barges in demanding Quark's head on a platter of Gagh. The prune juice he ordered *on the Defiant* was dispensed in a tacky-as-hell plastic mug that plays Quark's jingle every time it's tipped over to imbibe. Double life sentence. Well between Worf and Kira, Quark's sphincter has tightened enough to produce his own diamonds, so he's going to purge the system while Kira's off in the GQ. I assume the Bajorans are setting up a Disneyland or something considering how they keep establishing colonies for the Dominion to destroy.

Actually, she's been tasked—for whatever reason—with piloting the blue shirts, Dax and Bashir, to a planet they've decided to bio-survey. I think Julian has been taking LSD or something because he's acting like his S1 self, prattling on about stars in some ill-advised attempt to impress these ladies. Thankfully, this fluff is put to rest when their runabout receives a distress call from a planet just outside of Dominion space.

Dax and Bashir beam down to the besieged world and are greeted by an impressive matte painting, reminiscent of the pull-back effect used in the teaser to “The Best of Both Worlds.” The world they find is populated by a lot of miserable-looking people scavenging about the ruins of their civilisation. There are dead people being carted around, everyone is filthy, the sun is just a little too bright. A woman approaches the pair and starts convulsing in pain, begging them to take her to Truvada or something so she can die. He apparently runs a hospital. A man sets himself down by Bashir as Dax makes inquiries.

EPRAN: The Blight's quickened in her. There's nothing you can do. You should leave here. now. Go back to where you came from and forget about this place.

Act 1 : ***.5, 17.5%

Dax manages to trade her hair clip for transportation to the hospital and Bashir determines that these aliens' physiology is sufficiently different from their own that the blight is not a threat, but also that his medicines don't seem to work on them. We see the woman who now has Jadzia's hair clip admiring its loveliness on her own blight-disfigured head. Adorning injustice.

The blue shirts carry the quickened woman to Truvada's hospital, which resembles a church or a cult more than a place of medicine. Then it's time for confession. A man whose lesions have become inflamed (he's quickened) stands up to express his gratitude for Truvada's care.

TAMAR: Yesterday, when I woke up, I saw that it had finally happened. I'd quickened. I always thought I'd be afraid but I wasn't, because I knew I could come here. Last night I slept in a bed for the first time in my life. I fell asleep listening to music. This morning I bathed in hot water, dressed in clean clothes. And now I'm here with my friends and family. Thank you, Trevean, for making this day everything I dreamed it could be.

Then he takes a deep drink from a goblet. Truvada and the blue shirts chat a bit. Bashir is incredulous about what's going on here, but Truvada explains the backstory: they were once a sophisticated people, but in choosing to defy the will of the Dominion, their world was ransacked and their entire population cursed with this blight. They are an example to others—cough couch—who might choose to defy the Changelings. Then Tamar convulses, the poison he drank taking effect. Bashir rushes over to help.

BASHIR: Can't you see he's dying?
TREVEAN: Of course he's dying. He came here to die. People come to me when they quicken. I help them leave this world peacefully, surrounded by their families and friends...The Blight kills slowly. No one wants to suffer needlessly. Not like that woman you brought me.

***

Truvada's “hospital” here, to me, reads like a very clear allegory for Teresa of Calcutta's House of the Dead, made infamous in the British documentary “Hells' Angel.” A humanitarian worker called Hemley Gonzalez wrote about his experiences there:

“Workers washed needles under tap water and then reused them. Medicine and other vital items were stored for months on end, expiring and still applied sporadically to patients...Volunteers with little or no training carried out dangerous work on patients with highly contagious cases of tuberculosis and other life-threatening illnesses. The individuals who operated the charity refused to accept and implement medical equipment and machinery that would have safely automated processes and saved lives.”

In Teresa's hospice care centres, she practised her belief that patients only needed to feel wanted and die at peace with God—not to receive proper medical care.

“There is something beautiful in seeing the poor accept their lot, to suffer it like Christ’s Passion,” Mother Teresa said. “The world gains much from their suffering.”

The difference between Mother Teresa and Truvada here is that his evangelism is not voluntary. This is of course because Teresa's Catholicism and the religion of the Dominion are of different types. I've talked about this before; the religion of the Bajorans and the Dominion are actually of the Pantheonic variety, where the gods are measurable and subject to the laws of the Universe, instead of the author and master of those laws, immeasurable and omnipotent like the God of Abraham. Truvada evangelises on behalf of the Dominion because he's been beaten into submission by it, conditioned by the literal and eternal plague which claims the lives of his entire race. While it's very good that this episode doesn't conflate the two types of religion unlike the myriad Bajoran faith stories we've had so far, it would have been braver to contextualise this story within a Bajoran tale. It would have made a good Kira story actually, but we will get there eventually.

What the blight has done to these people is to subjugate them into the religion of the Founders by force. This is not exactly the same as what Catholic missionaries do, but there are important similarities. Missionaries like Teresa of Calcutta consider illness to be an act of God; as she herself said on many occasions, it was more important that the ill (and the poor, and the maligned) accept the grace of God than be cured of their ailments. She and others would advertise medical care for the infirm, but offer only conversion. “The Quickening” was written at a time when AIDS was an incurable and fatal disease. In many communities, HIV had become a defining feature, a culture all its own, like the blight. In all cases, the culprit is ignorance; Teresa believed in ignorance that God created illness and that it was immoral to even attempt to defy his will; AIDS was considered fait accompli for groups like the gay community because they were kept ignorant of preventative and eventually curative measures (if you don't know what I'm talking about, look up Ronald Reagan and the AIDS crisis); the Dominion takes elements of both, exacting divine judgement on a race which defied their will. It may not be “immoral” in the same way as it was for Teresa to attempt to cure the blight, but it may as well be since hubris against the Dominion is what condemned them to begin with. Truvada doesn't love the Founders the way Weyoun does, but they are, for all intents and purposes, gods to both men in equal measure, inviolate.

***

Dax determines that the distress beacon has been repeating the message for over 200 years, an idea borrowed, oddly enough, from “The 37s.” Bashir, though incensed by the suffering here, has accepted that they should leave, but before they can a very pregnant and blighted woman greets them. Her baby is due in a couple of months and she wants to live long enough to bear it, but fears that she'll quicken before that happens. Truvada may have rejected them, but she and others would welcome any help Bashir could offer. But there's a complication as Kira calls down from the runabout to report that there are Jem'Hadar ships in the area.

Act 2 : ***.5, 17.5%

Bashir and Dax believe they might be able to cure the blight, much like they did on some other mission we never saw. Kira gives the two optimistic nerds a look that's just about perfect for this story. She agrees to hide the runabout in a nebula for a week so the blue shirts can make their stand. This isn't a flaw in the story by any means, but two things stand out to me here:

1.Kira is good in these scenes, but her presence in most of this season has felt incidental. Like Riker and especially late Chakotay, she seems to be suffering from first-officer syndrome; she is her job and little else.
2.I like the return of science officer Dax a LOT, but this throws into relief how stupid her characterisation is in episodes like “For the Cause” was.

Anyway, the pregnant lady, Ekoria, finds the blue shirts a place to work in her group home. Dax manages to use her humour and soft touch to inject a little levity in the situation, complimenting Ekoria's husband's defiant optimism, expressed in visual art he left her and their town, as well as making good-natured jokes at the expense of Julian's doctor ego “they love to keep people waiting; it makes them feel important.”

After a little while, Julian manages to isolate the virus. His exuberance has carried him off to the clouds, but Jadzia manages to keep things grounded, translating his tech-talk for Ekoria and conveying the significance of their findings. The blue shirts have inspired so much hope in the young woman that she decides the three of them should enjoy her final meal, a feast she's been saving up for her death at Truvada's hospital. And she's three days from retirement, too.

Julian's having less luck recruiting volunteers for his study. He needs people who have quickened to chart the progress of the virus, but they aren't in the mood to be guinea pigs. Finally, Bashir makes a demonstration of the magnificence of Federation medical technology but repairing the arm of a young boy so he can play with his friends.

EPRAN: How did you do that?
EKORIA: Does it matter? He can find a cure for us if we help him.

Oh man...credulity is so dangerous, so pernicious. These people are ready to believe in anything if it might mean an end to their suffering, not unlike those poor souls in India who converted for dear old Mother Teresa. But Bashir does his very best to keep expectations realistic. He explains to Truvada and the crowd that he cannot promise them a cure, but nor will he ask for anything beyond the opportunity to try and help them. Post-scarcity society, baby.

Act 3 : ****, 15% (shortish)

EKORIA: Maybe you should go home. Maybe my people don't deserve your help.
BASHIR: They've just been suffering so long they've lost hope that things can be better.
EKORIA: It's more than that. We've come to worship death. I used to wake up and look at myself in the mirror, and be disappointed that I hadn't quickened in my sleep. Going to Trevean seemed so much easier than going on living.

Ekoria found a reason to try and go on living when she discovered she was pregnant, but Bashir has brought a new hope to these people. Jadzia reports that there is a line of quickening folks ready to let Bashir work on them, including Epran from the teaser, “I cancelled my death for you. I was really looking forward to it.” Ouch.

Several days later, we surmise, Epran is very close to death, but Bashir is passing around a new hypospray to the volunteers. Julian thinks it might contain the cure they've been after. While they wait, Bashir and Ekoria have an interesting conversation.

BASHIR: Sometimes. I prefer to confront mortality rather than hide from it. When you make someone well, it's like you're chasing death off, making him wait for another day.

See, myths aren't a bad thing. They give meaning to our lives. The point is how we interact with them. Do you worship death, or do you tell it off?

This tender moment is interrupted by Jadzia reporting a problem; Epram is convulsing, dying in agony.

Act 4 : ****, 17.5%

Epram begs for help and Bashir makes a startling discovery; the EM fields from their equipment are causing a reaction in all the patients who are now screaming and writhing in pain. Jammer was a little down on this, but this scene was genuinely one of the most difficult to watch on Trek for a while. Epram dies and Truvada enters the clinic where the others are begging for him to help them. The whole lot of them start crying out for their dose of hemlock.

Morning comes in the form of a distressingly beautiful outdoor shot, and Bashir is left with a pile of dead bodies and his own profound disappointment and self-disgust.

BASHIR: I'm going to tell you a little secret, Jadzia. I was looking forward to tomorrow, to seeing Kira again and casually asking, how was the nebula? And oh, by the way, I cured that Blight thing those people had.

This concludes with the oft-quoted bit about arrogance and how it cuts both ways. Siddig and Ferrel are extremely effective here. This is fascinating because we see that credulity, despite being tied to humility in the face of divine will, is in its own way a kind of arrogance. You can try and be a genuinely humble servant of God, or a mediator for the suffering, or a doctor with the best of intentions, and still be so arrogant that you miss the forest for the trees. Bashir stumbles through the streets, exhausted and subdued, like those around him, by the cruel might of the Dominion. He finds Ekoria, now quickened—probably thanks to Dr Bashir's would-be cure. She isn't bitter towards him though, thanking him for the hope he offered and wishing him well. But we aren't done yet. Kira returns to pick up Dax and return to DS9, but Bashir is staying behind, armed only with low-tech alternatives and his own will to do no harm.

Act 5 : ****, 17.5%

He holes up with Ekoria who's trying to survive long enough to give birth. He discovers that the antigen he gave her has vanished from her system. Hmmm. He estimates that the baby will be due in about a month and a half.

EKORIA: I'll never make it that long.
BASHIR: Well, I can induce labour in two weeks. The baby will be old enough by then.

The quiet ferocity with which Siddig gives these lines is simply marvellous. He talked with her earlier in the Kukalaka scene about a doctor's bedside manner, about projecting the air of “caring competence.” He's not projecting, though. He *is* competent, and by god does he care. Ekoria is going to die and they both know it, but her baby has a chance. Two weeks.

Later, we find Truvada tending to her. To his credit, he asks her if she wants her chalice of death. She rejects it.

Finally, the weeks have passed and Ekoria is giving birth. Bashir makes the discovery, that the baby has absorbed all the antigen, like a vaccine. The unhindered joy in Bashir's voice is really quite wonderful as he hands her her people's hope for the briefest moment before she finally dies.

The story continues to crescendo from this beautiful scene as we see Truvada accept the privilege of seeing that his people are inoculated and the blight erased from their future generations. He takes the baby outside and holds it high for all the world to see, while Bashir watches from afar. The religious imagery is quite intentional, as we see that Truvada and his people have now been evangelised by Bashir. But his mythology doesn't demand worship, subservience or credulity, only hope.

Episode as Functionary : ****, 10%

I didn't report it in the act to act reviews, but I had to stop several times during the episode to shed tears. The writing, directing, acting and scoring of this episode are quite masterful, brimming with bittersweet moments, profound insights and quiet dignity.

There's an epilogue on DS9 where Avery Brook earns his paycheque. He congratulates Bashir on his accomplishment, but Bashir isn't finished working; he's still trying to find a cure. Now THIS is one of those DS9 meta-commentary bits that actually works and doesn't come across as presumptuous. Back in “Explorers,” the writers were so desperate to prove that long-term stationary storytelling is more rewarding than the planet of the week ethos of TOS/TNG. That was annoying and, ironically for this episode, arrogant of them. Here, Bashir thinks he's going to fix the planet of the week all by himself. And he does after a fashion, but he also realises that there's value in sticking with it, in looking to expand upon his success and develop a cure as well as a vaccine. It's as if the series is saying, “While there's value in the Trek model as it is, there's more that can be said if we don't try to cram it all into 45-minute episodes,” instead of “Our stories aren't episodic because we're better than you.”

While this story seems disconnected from the broader themes and plots of DS9, it's actually integral to the mythology around the Dominion which is going to be explored heavily in later seasons. The Founders are so convinced of their own superiority that god-like wrath and—hehe—dominion have come to define them and the culture they rule in every way. Federation optimism and ideals, personified as they tend to be in Bashir (c.f. “The Wire”), are the one subversive element with any hope of countering this malevolence. Great work all around.

Final Score : ****
Jackson
Wed, May 1, 2019, 4:21pm (UTC -5)
I find this episode to be everything that "The Visitor" is hyped to be, but for me, just isn't.

Though a good episode, a certain triteness infests "The Visitor" throughout.

This episode is having none of it.
Chrome
Wed, May 1, 2019, 5:29pm (UTC -5)
I think the religious aspects of this one didn't ding my radar as much they did Elliott's, but that's certainly a compelling way to analyze this one. Many of us familiar with Europe's history are aware of the toll the Black Death took on the populace. Indeed the treatment, which was sometimes religiously inspired but not always, oftentimes made the plague worse. Thus, many aspects of the Dark Ages can be used as a potent parallel to this episode.

@Jackson

I'm curious, on what level do you compare this to "The Visitor"? I'm struggling to see the connection besides of course them both being good DS9 episodes.
Jackson
Wed, May 1, 2019, 10:44pm (UTC -5)
"The Visitor" just came off as self-indulgent to me...a bit too proud of itself, while this episode just did its thing, and did it almost flawlessly.

I'm also not a big fan of episodes where a character is narrating the story.
William B
Thu, May 2, 2019, 10:18am (UTC -5)
@Elliott, your negative reviews are insightful and hilarious. Still, it's a real pleasure when you love an episode and let that shine through. I echo Chrome on your thoughts on the religious overtones and you tie it into the mythology of the Dominion very well. Since you sometimes criticize DS9 for paying lip service to continuity in a shallow way, it's especially nice how you tie in the ostensibly one-off episode into the series-long arc.
Bobbington Mc Bob
Mon, Jul 8, 2019, 4:15pm (UTC -5)
Wonderful episode, though at the end I couldn't help but see Sisko's response to Bashir as a little cold. Its clear Bashir is completely haunted by the experience and struggling to let go, and Sisko's "oh well the kids are fine" type response seemed a little lacking in empathy. Certainly in TNG I think Picard would have had some choice words of support for his officer, perhaps even a suggestion that further studies might begin at some Federation Institute, but then Sisko is a very different kettle of fish.

I still feel from time to time that Siddig's acting chops could use some work, occasionally coming off hammy and overplayed, but nonetheless I could feel the pain of Bashir in this episode quite strongly and that is a credit to Siddig.

Bashir has a teddy. That's cute.

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