Well, I had kind of heard about this one, an episode that fans were fairly critical of because of what it meant for the character of Dr. Bashir.
I think I can see why. I just wasn’t feeling this one.
OK, that is not entirely accurate. I wasn’t feeling the main plot with Bashir. I was much more interested in the B-plot involving Rom, Leeta, and visiting character Dr. Zimmerman. That last one would be played by the always delightful Robert Picardo, and here he’s the guy who acted as the model for the Emergency Medical Hologram, the holographic doctor meant to be used for short term usage that became the chief medical officer over on Voyager. The hologram version even appears a bit in this episode as Zimmerman comes to the station because he wants to make a new, more long term hologram with Bashir, complete with as much of his personality and history as possible.
But I am getting ahead of myself, sort of. I really wasn’t too interested in this plot once Bashir’s parents showed up. Zimmerman, despite Bashir’s request otherwise, invited the pair to the station for an interview. Normally, I might think given Julian’s general distaste that he was maybe embarrassed by them or they have some big issue that they disagree over. Standard stuff. The latter seems unlikely: Bashir’s parents are very friendly. The former seems more likely at first blush, and not just because Bashir’s father Richard is played by British actor Brian George, a man I know best as Seinfeld‘s Babu Bhatt. From the conversation, it becomes clear that Richard has held many, many, many jobs in his lifetime and seems to be always out to try (and most likely fail) at something new in what would be a get-rich-quick sort of scheme if Earth still had monetary gain as a concept. Bashir’s mother Amsha (played by one Fadwa El Guindi, who was actually an anthropology professor who had never professionally acted before this role and doesn’t seem to have done much more professional acting since) seems to be just a loving and supportive wife to Richard and mother to Julian, but Julian is angry at her too. So, what gives?
Huh, I guess I am covering the A-plot first. OK, I will cut to the chase: when he was very small, Julian was struggling in school, so his parents got him some illegal genetic modification to make him more, well, of a good doctor sort of person. His intelligence and steady hand were both improved, and if this gets out, Julian would need to leave Starfleet immediately because, again, this is illegal.
For the life of me, I couldn’t quite understand why until the episode’s end when a Judge Advocate General namedropped Khan. Yeah, that would be a good reason why the Star Trek universe would be adverse to genetic modification. However, since Richard opts to confess that it was his fault and Bashir is a good person who is good at his job, Richard will get two years in a minimum security penal colony, something he seems to be almost looking forward to, and Julian can keep his position.
But what really bugged me about this plot was how much of it was spent with Bashir arguing with his parents over how they did this, and their defense of their own actions coming back over and over. It just felt really repetitive. The only reason the truth came out was because the Bashirs accidentally confessed to a holographic Julian with O’Brien and Zimmerman in the next room and able to overhear the whole thing. Zimmerman must report this to Starfleet. O’Brien is very understanding, but at the end of the episode, he does conclude quite accurately that Julian was not playing darts at his best.
But then there was the other plot, one where Leeta was hoping Rom would ask her out, and both of them basically being too shy to take it a step further. Zimmerman opts to romance Leeta a bit since she likes smart men, and yes, Rom does finally proclaim his love for Leeta at the very end of the episode while Zimmerman basically starts hitting on another woman mere seconds later. Any time I can get a glimpse into Ferengi culture is always a treat, and that comes as Quark does some psychoanalysis of Rom for Leeta, something that ends with a sexist comment towards her more, shall we say, visual assets. But then there’s a scene where, well, if you ever wondered where Nog’s mother went, that explained it all in the most Ferengi sort of way possible. That was fun.
Also, in his brief interview appearance, Worf says he doesn’t care much for doctors. I hope no one tells Beverly Crusher about that…