September 29, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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Weekend Trek “Extreme Measures”

Bashir and O'Brien go to unlikely lengths to find a cure for Odo.

OK, two thoughts:  this is the first episode in a while that, despite the serialized nature of the series at this point, legitimately felt like a standalone episode with a single throughline plot, but despite this, that in one generic episode for a franchise that often goes for more poetic titles to episodes.  Sometimes they even do so successfully!

It helps that the single plot falls onto the backs of Bashir and O’Brien, two characters who haven’t really had as much to do in the war effort as others.  Even Odo, the character whose life they are trying to save who is slowly dying with maybe two weeks left to go if Bashir can’t find a cure, has done more to end the war than Bashir and O’Brien.  That’s understandable.  Bashir is a doctor, not a soldier.  O’Brien used to be a soldier, but these days, he’s the guy keeping Deep Space Nine up and running.  Neither are likely to be deliberately on the front lines, and even when they are among the crew of the Defiant, the series arguably focuses more on Sisko, Worf, and even Nog, all of whom are a bit more appropriate given their specific roles on the ship as Captain, Tactical guy, and spooked rookie.

As such, after a brief bit of stuff to allow the other members of the main cast to have something to do, it’s up to Bashir and O’Brien to see if they can lure a member of Section 31 out of hiding with information of the cure, simply by saying they have one and nothing more.  Sure enough, Luther Sloan shows up in his usual sneaky way, right into Bashir’s quarters, and he does legitimately fall for the trap.  He’s even impressed.  Then he hits some kind of future version of the cyanide pill hidden in a tooth, just as Bashir and O’Brien were getting ready to use a Romulan device to extract information directly from Sloan’s brain.

OK, so now there’s a ticking clock.  Bashir can keep Sloan alive for a little whole before his brain shuts down completely.  A little modification of the device means that Bashir can enter Sloan’s mind and find the information himself, and O’Brien won’t let him go it alone.

I have spoken at length at how Deep Space Nine has been very good at allowing characters to grow and change, and the Bashir-O’Brien friendship is a good sign of that.  These are two characters that could not be more different.  Bashir is a upper-class, highly educated type while O’Brien is a guy who worked his way up the ranks, never quite made officer even as he sat at the table with the rest of the command crew, and in the beginning, while the wide-eyed and naive Bashir tried to be friendly with everybody, O’Brien just felt the doctor rubbed him the wrong way.  And yet, somehow, these two became became the best of friends, to the point where, when both suspect they might be dying, Bashir confesses that he is in love with Ezri before suggesting to Miles that Miles prefers Julian’s company to Keiko’s.

Keiko, it should be noted, is mentioned a couple times but does not appear in this episode.

As it is, both men are also instrumental in getting the information out of Sloan’s dying mind.  After sitting through a farewell with the man’s family (in the man’s mind), the two run around a simulation of the station, and both have a role to play.  Bashir’s mental prowess and sharp focus means he is the one who recognizes when the pair appear to wake up in the real world that they actually aren’t while O’Brien’s practicality means when Sloan tries to distract the crusading Bashir with all kinds of tantalizing secrets about Section 31, O’Brien has to basically grab Bashir to remind him Sloan is dying and they have the cure.

I won’t take credit for that observation.  A friend pointed it out to me.

In the end, Bashir may be able to credit O’Brien as the unpredictable x-factor that could see through all of Sloan’s plots to get out while the pair still could, but I think it is just as likely that the only way it would have worked is if they both went in.  Yes, the pair toast friendship, but that just further drives home how good Deep Space Nine was at dealing with the idea that, you know, maybe everyone in the future don’t have to get along and like each other all the time.  They might have to work at it to make for something better.