Jun 24 2014 3:00pm

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “Doctor Bashir, I Presume?”

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Doctor Bashir, I Presume?“Doctor Bashir, I Presume?”
Written by Jimmy Diggs and Ronald D. Moore
Directed by David Livingston
Season 5, Episode 16
Production episode 40510-514
Original air date: February 24, 1997
Stardate: unknown

Station log: Rom has spent the last several weeks trying to work up the courage to ask Leeta out. He has failed. Leeta is starting to think he isn’t interested, and Quark encourages that notion, as he knows that Rom will never actually ask her out. Quark insists that his brother wants someone with brains and a body, and when Leeta insists that she has brains, Quark snidely says that’s why he hired her, and then tells her to get back to work so everyone can see her brains.

Bashir and O’Brien’s darts game is interrupted by Dr. Lewis Zimmerman of the holographic imaging and research center on Jupiter Station. He’s the one who developed the Emergency Medical Hologram—and patterned it after himself—and now is developing a Long-Term Medical Hologram. The LMH’s purpose is to be used in research outposts, subspace relays, and other places where life-support and/or space is at a premium and the chief medical officer wouldn’t generally need to leave sickbay.

While Zimmerman was the template for the EMH, Bashir has been chosen to be the template for the LMH. Zimmerman will be on the station for three weeks developing the program, starting with an in-depth questionnaire for Bashir to answer so that the LMH can use his personality to interact. (O’Brien comments that now Bashir can irritate hundreds of people he’s never even met.)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Doctor Bashir, I Presume?

Zimmerman also plans to conduct in-depth interviews with Bashir’s friends and family. When he finds out that Leeta is Bashir’s ex, he adds her to the list, though he’s more interested in her than her opinions of Bashir. Bashir also specifically requests that Zimmerman not interview his parents, as they’re not close and haven’t been for years. Zimmerman says that he understands, and then makes a note to contact Bashir’s parents immediately.

A test run of the LMH’s physical form works fine, though Bashir feels that the eyes don’t have the zest for life that greets him in the mirror every day. Zimmerman then activates the EMH in order to transfer its basic software package into the Bashir-shaped LMH, thus giving us two Robert Picardos and two Alexander Siddigs in the same room. Hilarity ensues.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Doctor Bashir, I Presume?

Zimmerman interviews the denizens of DS9 about Bashir. (Most amusing is O’Brien repeatedly asking Zimmerman for assurances that this will never get back to Bashir, and then proceeding to go on at great length about what a great guy Bashir is. “You’re sure Julian won’t read this?”) After his interview with Leeta, Zimmerman asks her out to dinner, thus proving he has more cojones than Rom. Rom sees them having dinner and runs upstairs to interrupt them saying he has something important to say to her in private—and then again fails to ask her out, instead setting a time to fix her replicator.

Richard and Amsha Bashir arrive at the station, to Bashir’s dismay. He grumpily introduces his parents to Sisko and Dax and then gets them out of the office as quick as possible. He’s not pleased that Zimmerman invited them here—telling them it was urgent, no less—and the slow burn he does in their presence is palpable.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Doctor Bashir, I Presume?

Zimmerman brings flowers to Leeta, as well as a job offer. The bar manager at Jupiter Station is quitting and Zimmerman and the station commander both think Leeta would make an excellent replacement. She’s dubious; she doesn’t even know how to tend bar, which Zimmerman says puts her one up on their last bartender. She’s overwhelmed by the offer from someone she just met, and says she needs time to think.

Dinner with the Bashir family is awkward. Richard offhandedly mentions the time he ran a shuttle service, and Bashir exasperatedly points out that it’s just them now, he can admit that he was a third-class steward (though Richard continues to insist that he resigned, not that he was fired). Apparently his current job of landscape architect is a new one, the latest in a series of new career paths that Richard has attempted. When they discuss the interviews it becomes clear that there’s a dirty little secret in their past that they can’t let Zimmerman find out about or they’re all in trouble—it could ruin Bashir’s career and send his parents to prison.

Leeta talks to Rom about Zimmerman’s job offer, and says that if she has a reason to stay, she’ll stay. Rom can only thumpher about, leading Leeta to realize that she has no reason to stay.

The next day, Richard and Amsha come to talk to Bashir and promise him that they won’t say a word in their interviews with Zimmerman about how Bashir was genetically enhanced as a child, a spectacularly illegal procedure. Unfortunately, they’re not talking to Bashir, they’re talking to the LMH, and Zimmerman and O’Brien are in the next room and heard every word.

O’Brien immediately goes to Bashir to explain what happened. Zimmerman, meanwhile, is filing a report with Starfleet saying that Bashir is unsuitable for imaging for the LMH due to his genetically enhanced background, which will trigger an inquiry that will lead to his discharge from Starfleet.

Bashir tells O’Brien the whole story. By age six he was small for his age, physically awkward, intellectually challenged, and behind everyone else. At age seven, his parents took him to Adigeon Prime and his DNA was resequenced. Everything about him was changed except for his name. And now he’s going to be kicked out of Starfleet—unless he resigns first.

Rom mopes over a drink in Quark’s after closing time. Quark reminds him of Nog’s mother, Prinadora, whose father swindled him out of all his latinum. Females, Quark reminds him, are always trouble.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Doctor Bashir, I Presume?

Bashir and his parents have a huge-ass argument. Richard wants to fight this battle all the way to the Federation Supreme Court, but Bashir just wants to resign his commission and be done with it. Bashir resents the crap out of his parents for giving up on him when he was six, but Amsha explains to him that it wasn’t that they were ashamed of him, but that they loved him and it was destroying them to see him fall further behind every day, to stay up late worrying about him and wondering if it was their fault.

Amsha asks what he wants them to do, and he says, “Nothing.” He’ll talk to Sisko in the morning, explain the situation, and resign.

So Richard and Amsha meet with Sisko even earlier in the morning and beat him to the punch. Sisko contacts Admiral Bennett, the Judge Advocate General, and they work out a deal: Bashir will be allowed to keep his commission and his medical practice in exchange for Richard going to prison for two years. Bennett makes a ridiculous speech reminding the audience why there are laws against gentic engineering, to wit, that for every Julian Bashir there’s a Khan Singh waiting in the wings.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Doctor Bashir, I Presume?

Bashir sees his parents off and thanks his father for his sacrifice. Zimmerman and Leeta are on the same transport to Earth, but before they can board, Rom comes running to the airlock and declares his love for Leeta and asks her to stay. She says she loves him, too, and they smooch. The bar at Jupiter Station will have to find another manager.

Meanwhile, O’Brien realizes that Bashir’s been throwing the darts games—er, so to speak—and the chief forces the doctor to play at his proper level. He throws three darts right into the bull’s eye. So O’Brien declares a new rule: Bashir must stand a couple of meters back. If that doesn’t work, they’ll try a blindfold...

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? At the age of seven, Bashir underwent accelerated critical neural pathway formation to speed up his cognitive abilities, increase his stamina, height, weight, and reflexes, and generally make him better, faster, stronger.

The Sisko is of Bajor: Both Sisko and his son describe Bashir as overeager and of not having the best sense of decorum, with Jake in particular citing his providing of too much information.

Don’t ask my opinion next time: Kira’s blunt description of Bashir is that he doesn’t know when to shut up.

There is no honor in being pummeled: Worf's even more blunt answer to Zimmerman’s questions is that he doesn’t like doctors. (Crusher and Pulaski must be devastated...)

The slug in your belly: Dax is dying to hear stories of Bashir as a little kid. Given what we learn over the course of the episode, I doubt she got to hear any of them.

Rules of Acquisition: Rom signed a standard five-year marriage contract with Prinadora because he wanted a child. But he fell in love with her, and so when her father presented him with an extension he signed it without reading it, and so Prinadora’s father got all Rom’s latinum, Prinadora married someone else, and Rom was left penniless with Nog.

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Zimmerman is attracted to Leeta—even more so when he finds out that she broke up with Bashir—and Rom is attracted to Leeta. The latter feeling is mutual, but Leeta is waiting for Rom to actually say so, and she’s willing to go off with Zimmerman to Jupiter because he won’t speak up. When he finally does declare his love, she declares it back, leaving Zimmerman alone and disheartened—for all of five seconds until he sees an attractive woman on the transport and starts hitting on her.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Doctor Bashir, I Presume?

What happens in the holosuite stays in the holosuite: Quark suggests Rom drown his sorrows in a holosuite program called Vulcan Love Slave, Part 2: The Revenge. I don’t even...

Keep your ears open: “You’re not talking about replacing real doctors?”
“No, of course not. Why is everyone so worried about holograms taking over the universe?”

Sisko asking a legitimate question and Zimmerman’s exasperated reply.

Welcome aboard: Robert Picardo wanders across the lot from Voyager to play both Zimmerman and another iteration of the Emergency Medical Hologram that he plays on the sister show.

Brian George and Fadwa El Guindi play Bashir’s parents. George—a great character actor who can currently be seen in a recurring role as Raj’s father on The Big Bang Theory—will appear as O’Zaal in Voyager’s “Drive.”

J. Patrick McCormack shows up long enough as Bennett in the holocommunicator so he can deliver the moral of the story in as awkward a manner as possible; he’ll be back in Voyager’s “Counterpoint” as Prax and in Star Trek Nemesis as a Romulan. Plus we have Max Grodénchik and Chase Masterson as Rom and Leeta.

Trivial matters: Fadwa El Guindi is actually a PhD in anthropology, currently the Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at Qatar University in Doha. For a time, she was the president of the Los Angeles chapter of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and she has been a fierce advocate for Arab-Americans. She co-wrote and co-directed a community play in L.A. called Mahjar, which ran in the summer of 1996. When the lead actress dropped out at the last minute, El Guindi filled in. One audience member was the assistant casting director for DS9, Ron Surma.When the role of Amsha came up, Surma invited her to audition. It remains her only screen acting credit.

This episode establishes that Bashir was genetically enhanced, something the character has taken great pains to keep secret, but which will be public knowledge moving forward.

The unintended consequences of this revelation will be seen in the Starfleet Corps of Engineers series, in which Dr. Elizabeth Lense—established back in “Explorers” as the person who was valedictorian to Bashir’s saluditorian in their Starfleet Medical class—will come under scrutiny by a Starfleet that is fueled by Dominion-induced paranoia, because she beat the genetically engineered guy. In particular the stories “Oaths” by Glenn Hauman, “War Stories” by your humble rewatcher, and “Wounds” by Ilsa J. Bick (in which Bashir appears) address this.

The character of Zimmerman—who was named after production designer Herman Zimmerman—was initially established in the Voyager bible. The original intention was for the EMH to be referred to as “Doc Zimmerman,” and indeed the initial promotions for the show (as well as the first few Voyager tie-in novels) referred to the character thusly before the writers decided to simply refer to him as “the Doctor” (or “the EMH”). This episode is Zimmerman’s first “real” appearance, as he appeared previously in holographic form in the Voyager episodes “Projections” and “The Swarm.” The character will appear again for realsies in Voyager’s “Life Line.”

Your humble rewatcher wrote the Mirror Universe version of Zimmerman in the MU short novel The Mirror-Scaled Serpent in Obsidian Alliances.

Bennett’s reference to Khan’s reign as being two hundred years ago was an error by scripter Ronald D. Moore who remembered Khan’s line from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan about ruling two hundred years earlier, but forgot that that movie took place a hundred years prior to this episode.

This is the second—and last—use of the holocommunicator introduced in “For the Uniform,” though a version of it will be used in Star Trek Nemesis.

This episode marks the first mention of Rom’s first wife, also Nog’s mother, Prinadora, as well as the circumstances under which Rom and Nog came to Terok Nor. Prinadora will be mentioned again in “Ferengi Love Songs,” and will at last be introduced in your humble rewatcher’s Satisfaction is Not Guaranteed, the Ferenginar portion of Worlds of DS9 Volume 3.

The original script called for O’Brien to blackmail Zimmerman into keeping Bashir’s genetic enhancements secret in exchange for O’Brien not revealing that Zimmerman has been introducing deliberate errors into the LMH programming in order to sabotage it so it won’t replace the EMH. This would have left Bashir’s enhancements a secret from everyone except Bashir and O’Brien (and the viewers), and Alexander Siddig petitioned to change it so that the genetic engineering was public and could actually affect not only the character but his friends going forward.

Walk with the Prophets: “Please state the nature of the medical emergency.” For the third time, modern-day Trek pulls off a brilliant revelation that snaps a character’s entire being into focus. TNG pulled it off first with “Dark Page” and the discovery that Lwaxana had a previous child who died in an accident, thus explaining her overprotectiveness of her surviving daughter. DS9 then did it earlier this season in the otherwise-execrable “Let He Who is Without Sin...” explaining why Worf’s such a tightly wound, dour bastard with the revelation of his act of unintentional manslaughter as a teenager.

And now we have this. This revelation isn’t entirely out of left field, as some of the things we’ve learned about Bashir have can easily be interpreted in this direction. For starters, there’s the fact that he’s never really had any difficulties doing—well, anything, really, except for his bad-luck-induced crap racquetball playing in “Rivals.” He’s avoided long-term commitments, made it clear he has no interest in a family (he cloaked it in being a career officer when talking about it with O’Brien in “Armageddon Game,” but both men’s commanding officer belies that notion), got a question wrong on his finals that he should never have gotten wrong (“Distant Voices” already hinted that he threw the final on purpose, and now we have a good reason for it), and most tellingly (and this was something Ronald D. Moore cited as a specific inspiration for this script) when Odo asked Bashir if there was anyone he wanted Odo to say hi to on Earth in “Homefront,” Bashir gave a very categorical no.

The revelation aside, this is also a very entertaining episode that starts out very light—which is a nice palliative after three straight really heavy episodes. Robert Picardo is never not wonderful, and he’s at his snotty best here, being unapologetically obnoxious to and exasperated with pretty much everyone. Well, except Leeta, and what’s interesting is that he’s actually somewhat charming with her. Still smarmy, mind you, but Leeta’s reciprocated interest doesn’t feel at all forced, either.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Doctor Bashir, I Presume?

The biggest problem with that half of the plot is that Leeta is sort of standing around waiting for Rom to express interest, as if the only way a relationship can possibly happen is if the male asks the female out, which makes sense if it’s 1958 and you’re still in high school. Instead of standing around expectantly, why doesn’t Leeta just ask Rom out? She tells Quark, “I must be doing something wrong,” and the response to that is, “You’re not actually saying anything to Rom.” Yes, he’s thumphering about trying to work up the courage to express himself, but that’s because he’s Rom and he’s crap at expressing himself. She’s a dabo girl who spends her days expressing herself very very well. So what the hell?

Anyhow, the B-story is harmless enough, more or less. But the meat is the Bashir story, which takes a delightful left turn from the witty banter flying fast and furious—most notably the hilarious scene where they start testing the LMH, giving us Bashir, the LMH, the EMH, and Zimmerman going back and forth, with Alexander Siddig doing a nice impersonation of Picardo’s EMH for a scene—to the more serious revelations about Bashir’s family. Richard is a nice change of pace as it’s nice to know that, even in the utopian Federation, there are still people who are chronic screw-ups. And Fadwa El Guindi is radiant as Bashir’s mother, delivering her speech about the anguish they went through watching six-year-old Jules Bashir fail constantly with passion and intensity that’s made all the more impressive when you realize that she’s an anthropology professor rather than an actor.

Best of all, though, is that this is yet another up-ending of the status quo. Bravo to Siddig for asking that they make the change public, as it opens up a lot more possibilities.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Doctor Bashir, I Presume?


Warp factor rating: 7

Keith R.A. DeCandido will be one of the guests, alongside Nelly Reifler, Tor.com’s own Emily Asher-Perrin, and host Ryan Britt, for “Lust For Genre: Classic SF&F Readings form Our Favorite Humans,” this coming Friday, the 27th of June, at Singularity & Co. in Brooklyn at 7.30pm. We’ll each be reading, not our own work, but the work of one of our favorite classic authors. Come on by!

1. happytoscrap
Maybe I missed something watching this episode.....but why does Bashir have to be the holographic model?

Couldn't he have just declined this "immortality honor" and never had his genetic enhancements revealed?

Totally agree that Leeta should have asked Rom out. Even in the 1990s, that would have been status quo.
2. Mr. Fedora
We saw this over in VOY, but Robert Picardo really is a great actor.

It's great to see Zimmerman and an EMH interacting and see the subtle differences in Picardo's peformances.

It helps sell that Zimmerman was the EMH template, but that not everything made it through.
David Levinson
3. DemetriosX
My only real problem with the A-plot is that whatever condition was holding back young Jules Bashir ought to have been detected, possibly in the womb, and been treated or otherwise dealt with in some fashion. If nothing else, the sudden change in his abilities should have been noticed by somebody.

I also think Starfleet would probably rather have the genetically enhanced guy right where they can keep an eye on him, rather than letting him resign his commission and go who knows where. I wonder if this is where Section 31 first took notice of Bashir.
Another cluebat/successful retcon was the way he shot Garak in the neck without seriously injuring him in "Our Man Bashir."

Love the episode, and really love the band of genetically engineered misfits that will come later.
5. Eduardo Jencarelli
She’s a dabo girl who spends her days expressing herself very very well. So what the hell?

I can easily picture a production meeting in which Rick Berman vetoes any kind of story where Leeta makes the move instead of the male. He objected to the Dax/Lenara kiss, after all., but that was approved because it was a 'message' episode.

That's the problem with being a syndicated show, and being forced to tone everything down for conservative audiences. Leeta can and should have made the move on Rom. I mean, have we ever seen a Dabo girl actually leaving a Holosuite with a customer onscreen? But no, the idea of an independent woman taking charge, emasculating the man was still too alien back in 1997.

As for the episode, if the writers didn't know beforehand that Bashir was genetically enhanced, they sure made a pretty damn good job in the previous four seasons establishing this particular character and its quirks, because it all makes sense in retrospect. And they're bold enough to go all the way through with the ending. Great performances, especially from Siddig and Picardo.

This was the only DS9 episode with a Jimmy Diggs story credit. He sold a ton of Voyager specs, and I've heard the Bashir story of him struggling as a six year old is supposedly based on Diggs's own daughter's learning disability.
6. Theo16
I thought it was a missed opportunity to not have him resign from Starfleet and join the Bajoran militia to stay on the station.
7. Lemaitre
I agree with all here that this is a pretty brilliant idea for the Bashir character. Though the ending is a bit pat, his father who we've never seen before gets two years in prison and for Bashir everything is fine. Handicapping him in darts seems to be not quite enough of a change.

What however bothers me as hell is this whole Rom/Leeta story. Star Trek does comedies, but never established regular characters as comic strip jokes. The sexpot and the dumbbell with the big ears? Seriously? I don't buy Rom becoming a genius engineer and I don't buy this "romance". At all. What exactly is the mutual attraction supposed to be? This simply belongs into another type of narrative universe. It reminds me of Nog's absurd career of illiterate small time crook in the first season to piloting cadet on the Defiant a few years later.
8. Daniel Kukwa
Actually, I'm quite surprised how much DS9 gets away with, especially by implication & suggestion. The "Vulcan Love Slave" program is so ridiculous an idea, it's sublime. Quark's comment on Leeta's "brains" suits him to a T, and other moments in various episodes (such as Rom's implied mastrubation in "Bar Association"), all add up to some sneaky boundary pushing.

This one is a solid 10 from me. The revelation of Bashir's background, and the look on Zimmerman's face, caused a chill to run down my spine. Bashir's storytelling of what happened, his mother's reaction, all hit me dead centre in the heart. And I think the Admiral's lecture isn't awkward at all -- I found it to be very forthright, succinct, and the mention of Khan is just the right touch of continuity icing on the cake.
9. Bobby Nash
A very enjoyable episode. Picardo and Siddig definitely have some great chemistry here.

Mike Kelmachter
10. MikeKelm
You might want to add the Mission Gamma book "Cathedral" as a trivial matter, where Bashirs enhancements de-evolve and he comes to grips with the difference between Jules and Julian.

Also, I was very impressed with Fadwa el Guindis performance especially given that she's not an actress. Her speech about watching her son fall a little further behind was heart wrenchingly done.
11. Marie-Pierre
I see we had the same idea: I'm also rewatching DS9 this month! I'm looking at it from an anthropological perspective, and I do find several inconherencies accross the seasons. As some previous commentors noted, the writing lacks visions on several occasions despite being set in a future in which humanity has improved on several fronts, such as gender equality. I'll be following closely!
12. Crunchy
I like the B-plot and subsequent relationship, despite Leeta waiting around for Rom to make the first move. It turns the trope of the ugly guy with the hot girlfriend on its head. Yes, by our standards Rom is ugly and Leeta is hot, but Leeta doesn't avoid the issue or say that looks don't matter as long as you've got some other quality. Leeta thinks Rom is attractive, and isn't shy about saying so (which, of course, makes her unwillingness to say anything to him all the more frustrating).

The A plot was beautiful and painful to watch. It's Richard Bashir, not Jean-Luc Picard, who makes me long for the world of Star Trek. It's easy to be a saint in paradise, Sisko told us several seasons ago. In the context of the episode he was right, but even in paradise some people are going to be chronic screw-ups. In the world of Star Trek, Julian didn't have to go hungry or do his homework by candlelight because his idiot father spent his paycheck on something non-essential instead of buying food and paying the utility bills.
14. Mr. Fedora
@3, That's an intertesting idea I hadn't thought of.

This may very well be when 31 took an interest in the doc.
Matt Hamilton
15. MattHamilton
I guess I'm in the minority, when I thought it was going to be the other way around, because I think making Bashir genetically enhanced was a terrible idea. I didn't like it, it didn't add anything to the story going further, other than 2 really, really bad episodes involving other genetically enhanced people all seemingly playing One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest!
16. Eugene R.
At the age of seven, Bashir underwent accelerated critical neural pathway formation to speed up his cognitive abilities, increase his stamina, height, weight, and reflexes, and generally make him better, faster, stronger.
Gee, I would think that such a procedure would be pretty expensive, like, 5, or maybe 6 million dollars. Good thing money is a thing of the past.
Christopher Bennett
17. ChristopherLBennett
Good episode, but I never liked the idea that genetic engineering is illegal in the Federation. That kind of Luddism toward technological advance contradicts ST's generally positive view of technology's potential. In most respects, ST acknowledges that technology used recklessly or maliciously can be dangerous, but the same technology used wisely can be greatly beneficial and should be embraced. E.g. artificial intelligence can produce Landru and Nomad and M5, but also Data and the EMH. So the complete rejection of genetic engineering just doesn't fit. And the Eugenics Wars don't cut it as an explanation, since they were over 370 years before. Nobody alive in the 24th century (except someone like Flint or Guinan) has any personal memories of them. No culture is that static in its values.

I think the real reason they introduced the ban on genetic engineering is that it was the only way for writers in the 1990s to make sense of the 1960s assumptions of the Trek universe. By the time of DS9, transhumanist science fiction was a thriving genre and advances in human prosthetics and genetics were on the horizon, so it was no longer plausible that a 24th-century humanity would be incapable of transhumanism; thus the only way to make an excuse for the unaugmented humanity of a universe created in 1964 based on pulp-era tropes was to invent a social and legal reason why humanity had chosen not to develop transhuman technologies.

The problem is that it creates a massive continuity error with TNG's "Unnatural Selection," which clearly showed that experimenting with human genetic augmentation was totally legal in the Federation as of 2365, just eight years before this episode. Picard expressed concern about the potential danger of a genetic research facility, but it was never suggested that the scientists were doing anything illegal. I tried to finesse this in one of my books by saying that the Darwin Station research facility from "Selection" was a trial balloon for relaxing the anti-engineering laws, with the crisis in the episode presumably being the reason the effort was abandoned.
18. Random22
@12 Crunchy:

I agree with you, despite being a serious contender for the Genma Saotome Parenting award, Julian's dad is as close to most of us as Starfleet gets. In the Trek world he is given chance after chance to try out careers and jobs without seeming negative impact. I mean it is nice and all for those people who had a "calling" or always knew what they were going to do with their lives, like most Trek characters, to be shown as being given all the chances to pursue their career/vocation, however most of us don't have that one true calling. Or at least we might never discover it. We usually end up in a rut because, well, gotta put food on the table and keep the lights on, and the only way to do that is find something that pays and you can do it even if you hate it. We don't have the luxury of keeping on sampling careers until we find a fit. In the Trek world they are enlightened enough and advanced enough to be able to do just that.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
19. Lisamarie
Because I know krad will never mention it, Brian George was also Babu in Seinfeld ;) Which means I spent most of the episode thinking "Bad man...very bad man...". Interesting thoughts on how Federation society has mitigated the harm that a lifestyle like Richard's might otherwise have.

Anyway - as soon as his parents walked into the room to openly discuss 'their secret' I was all, "NOOOOOOO IT'S A TRICK!'. I found the revelation just a tiny bit contrived.

As for Bashir and his genetic engineering, I agree that it is a little bit surprising that they would still be so against it. And especially in his case - they said that in the first grade he was struggling to tell a house from a tree and a dog from a cat. Whoever wrote this script must not know anything about childhood development because my 17 MONTH OLD BABY can tell a house from a tree and a dog from a cat, and has been able to for several months, probably more, but just wasn't able to verbalize it. Bashir wasn't 'falling behind', he was severely mentally disabled and there is no way he could have made it as far as first grade if he can't do that. And so in that sense I think he would have qualified for the genetic enegineering anyway, since they said they allow it for severe birth defects.

As for genetic engineering in general, I can understand the qualms and desire for judicious use...as cool as it would be to all be super smart and awesome, I do think there is something to be said for accepting imperfection as well, instead of what we determine as a culture 'perfection' should be, as sometimes we decide wrongly. Which isn't to say I'm totally against all kinds of technology, just that I tend to be much more cautious about it. That said, I'm not sure how much DNA resequencing alone could impact intelligence - if he had some kind of brain defect or neurotransmitter defect that was preventing him from learning or laying down memories/connections, it could help (and I think that would be a positive use of genetic engineering), but my understanding of the brain/intelligence is that a lot of it is also shaped by early experience and the neuron pathways that form. So maybe they also 'redid' his brain? Could be that research has shed new light on this subject and I don't know what I'm talking about. I used to be a bacteria person, after all ;) Although even with bacteria, genetics aren't as straightforward as you would think...

Regarding Rom and Leeta - I absolutely agree that the idea that a woman has to wait for a man is ridiculous, that a woman needs to be 'pursued', BUT I can also understand that she might be wanting to see that Rom can express himself and take initiative. I've been with/known guys who had a really hard time taking initiative and going out for things they want (romantic or otherwise) and their passivity ultimately becomes very frustrating. It's also frustrating to be in a relationship where you are the only one who makes decisions, expresses opinions, or takes active steps to do anything.

Now, I think Rom has shown that he can take initiative so I don't think that all applies to him, and it was obvious that he was trying to express interest and was just shy, and plus every time they talked it was in a public, stressful place - they could have just talked about it like adults in a more private place where he could have gradually felt able to open up, instead of playing the stupid 'boy gets girl' game that the media seems to think relationships consist of.
20. Noblehunter
It occurs to me that while Jules would have merited some sort of genetic engineering or other medical intervention, it may not have resulted in *enough* improvement. If the Bashirs were sufficiently scarred by watching Jules fail (and by Richard Bashir's own life failures), they may have resented a solution that would condemn their son to constant struggle and minimal achievement. They chose the illegal improvements to avoid that.

It'd make more sense if genetic engineering is only illegal when the intent is to surpass 'normal' limitations (sort of like David Weber's Beowolf code). I'd guess when it's a medical intervention, they call it something other than "genetic engineering."

@17, I got the impression somewhere that the whole "genetic engineering is evil" thing became one of Earth's foundational beliefs. That the Eugenics Wars were sufficiently bad that they resulted in imbedded cultural memories that meddling with genetics to improve people was seriously dangerous. Suggesting to a 24th century human to consider genetic engineering is equivalent to asking a 21st century American to consider monarchy.
21. Eduardo Jencarelli
The problem is that it creates a massive continuity error with TNG's "Unnatural Selection,"


True, but I don't think a lot of people will cry over that particular episode. Easily season 2's worst.
22. Jeff R.
We also know that Jules would have turned out pretty much fine, if as a late bloomer, from the example of Mirror Bashir. (Unless the butterfly suppression effect of the Mirror universe somehow contrived to get that version genetically enhanced as well. In which case the question of why he didn't turn out to be Kahn mark II rears itself...)
23. TBGH
"They'll swing back to the belief that they can make people... better. And I do not hold to that."
Cross series I know, but easy to see a people coming to that same conclusion. I would hope most people on here have seen Gattaca as another piece of scifi warning against the perils of trying to create people who are genetically better.

It just seemed at the time (and seems even more so now) that it is entirely likely a majority of people would reject that line of advancement . . . and a minority would still pursue it. Which gives us the conflict.
Rich Bennett
24. Neuralnet
Does this mean that Bashir has magic blood?... LOL
Tom Smith
25. phuzz
Wow, I recognised Brian George, but I'd not realised how many films, tv shows and games he's been in.
The thing is, I'm sure I remember him from UK TV, but he seems mainly to have worked in the US. I'm sure I remember him popping up in an episode of Red Dwarf at least.
Laura Frankos
26. LauraF
Hi, Keith and all,

I've been lurking here a while, enjoying the rewatch very much. I'd like to second the praises for Robert Picardo--a truly terrific actor. I once complimented him after he played the role of Mr. Bungee in William Finn's musical, A NEW BRAIN. Bungee is a truly nasty children's tv show host--a "despotic, aquatic, satanic, oceanic" frog on a bicycle, and Picardo nailed it. He accepted my praise graciously until I quipped, "Hey, you started out all those years ago, in the Yale swimming pool, playing a frog in Sondheim's THE FROGS, and here you are." As you can imagine, this produced a delicious horrified look. Wish I had a camera.

I wonder if Leeta wasn't more forthright because she was aware of Ferengi customs. True, Rom isn't as hidebound as the average Ferengi male, but don't forget his son fully expected his date to defer to him, chew his food, etc. Maybe she figured if she made a move, he'd be insulted.
27. Russell H
@26 I saw Robert Picardo at a Yale reunion during the run of VOYAGER. He was great about signing autographs for alumni kids and talking about the show.

Never knew he'd been in that production of THE FROGS, which I believe was based on one originally performed in the Yale pool in the 1950s.
Christopher Bennett
28. ChristopherLBennett
@20: Except the Eugenics Wars can't have been that bad, because they never rated a single mention at any point between The Wrath of Khan and this episode, and because the big war that people talked about in the TNG era was World War III.

Besides, genetic engineering isn't a political system like monarchy, it's a medical tool. Like any tool, it can be used positively or negatively. Using a powerful technology in a controlled way to limit abuses is good, but banning it altogether is cowardly, reactionary, and stupid, and quite harmful because you're depriving the world of its benefits as well as its drawbacks.

@23: The thing is, humans have been striving to make ourselves better throughout the history of civilization. Is it immoral for me to wear glasses to improve my vision, or for people to eat vitamin-enriched foods to improve their health, or for amputees to wear prosthetic limbs? We're already at the point where prosthetic limbs and laser eye surgery can improve on nature rather than just replacing it -- should we outlaw such improvements? I read once that the past two or three US presidents have had laser eye surgery to give them different focus in each eye so that one can focus on a teleprompter while the other focuses on the audience. Is that an immoral enhancement?

More to the point, as such technologies become more available and easy to obtain, is there any way to stop such enhancements? Why would the majority of people refuse to improve their vision or their hearing or their ability to heal injuries or their life expectancy or their ability to perform well on tests? Especially since some people would indeed seek out those enhancements, would everyone else really refuse to do the same out of genetic puritanism, or would most people instead feel they had to keep up and get the new enhancements themselves so they'd stay competitive?

And should we really try to prevent that? Should we prohibit people from improving on their potential? After all, the danger isn't having greater power in and of itself, but using that power to victimize those with less power. So maybe the solution isn't to prevent anyone from enhancing themselves at all -- maybe the solution is to let everyone have access to the enhancements of their choice. Then it's not just a genetic elite lording it over everyone else and defining a single standard of perfection, but is more egalitarian and liberating.

And that makes a lot more sense in the context of the Trek universe. An absolute, draconian ban on the development of a technology with such potential benefit seems like an unduly rigid and oppressive law in the context of the Federation. I'd think that instead their focus would be on trying to ensure equal opportunity and freedom for everyone, rather than cracking down rigidly on everyone.
Mike Kelmachter
29. MikeKelm
@ 28... I agree with you that a 100% ban on testing and genetic manipulation makes no sense. I wonder if what the writers meant is that genetic manipulation was heavily regulated and required approval for treatment that the Bashir's couldn't get. It would make sense that procedures to correct genetic defects would be acceptable, but not enhancements. If could be that genetically Jules wasn't defective but that his genes limited his developmental potential, so the Bashir's boosted him. For example if genetically he was destined to have a IQ of say 85 (which would not classify him as intellectually disable on today's scale) and he got a boost, that would be an illegal enhancement.

I agree with you that the 100% ban doesn't make sense, but that's one possible "out"
Laura Frankos
30. LauraF
That WAS the original Yale production of THE FROGS, in 1974, back when Picardo had hair. An Afro.

Also in the chorus were Christopher Durang, Meryl Streep and Sigourney Weaver.

Thirty years later, Nathan Lane expanded the material and took the show to Broadway.
Christopher Bennett
31. ChristopherLBennett
@29: Well, as I said, I think the writers were trapped by the fact that the prior seasons of Trek had mostly ignored the idea of transhumanism. Early TNG dabbled with it by giving Geordi his VISOR with its superhuman vision, but later writers pretty much ignored the VISOR's capabilities except when they wanted to have it break down or be used to brainwash him. So the writers were stuck with a universe where humans were ordinary and unaugmented as a near-universal rule. That didn't leave them much wiggle room. Saying "Yes, genetic augmentation is allowed up to a point" would've been hard to justify when we'd never actually seen any humans with genetic augmentations outside of "Space Seed," TWOK, and "Unnatural Selection."
32. McKay B
Most of what I thought to comment has been said already, but I had two things to add:
- It does bug me how the Bashir revelation doesn't fit with some of DS9's past portrayals of Bashir. Places where it's clear they hadn't planned on this character's secret in advance. (That being said, if they were going to have this plot at all, I like it MUCH better having it become public knowledge rather than keeping it a dark dirty secret via blackmail.)
- This is just basically making excuses for stodgy 90's writers, but it's entirely conceivable that Leeta is from a Bajoran subculture that has pretty strong rules about males taking the initiative in romantic relationships, even in the 24th century.
Christopher Bennett
33. ChristopherLBennett
@32: I tend to think it's more just that Leeta wanted Rom to learn to be more assertive, and was trying to draw him out of his shell. If she'd just come out and taken the initiative for him, that wouldn't have helped him overcome the timidity that held him back. After all, Rom's greatest moments of growth prior to now have come when he's stopped letting other people define and dominate him and has found the courage to stand up and speak out for what he wants and believes. It's probably that inner strength and courage that Leeta fell in love with, so she wanted to see it in him again, to see him stand up for himself and take the initiative rather than just follow where she led. So I don't think it's about conventional gender roles, even if it happens to fit them. I think it's about what Leeta wanted to see in Rom.
34. Crunchy
@18 - That's something I didn't even get to, though you're correct. Asking whether people deserve to suffer for their failures is a question I try not to raise in a group of people I don't know well. But I think any decent person would agree that children shouldn't suffer for their parents' failures. I wish I could say the scenario I outlined was a hypothetical, but someone very dear to me had to deal with that nonsense because their father was very much like Richard Bashir.

@23 - I think Gattaca is a much more realistic portrayal of genetic engineering's effects on society than Star Trek. It's much more believable that employers and such would discriminate against people who aren't genetically engineered, even if they are perfectly capable of doing the job they want, than for a genetically engineered person to become the next Khan.

@33 - It would have been very compelling if Leeta had consciously decided to wait for Rom to make the first move because she didn't want to be the person making all the decisions in the relationship. Or because it wasn't enough for him to say yes to her, she had to know that he wanted to be with her enough to break out of his shell and ask her. But I just don't buy it. She fretted about what she was doing wrong, and actually seemed to listen when Quark told her that maybe Rom just wasn't interested. Makes me think it's too bad you didn't write this episode.
Keith DeCandido
35. krad
Christopher: I tend to agree with Crunchy. Your hypothesis only works if you ignore Leeta's conversation with Quark, which makes it abundantly clear that it is the writers conforming to the laziest of gender stereotypes.

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
36. Jarvisimo
#34 I often feel bad that Christopher didn't some of these shows (or indeed Keith and many of the current & recent crop of treklit writers) ;)
37. McKay B
@33: That's actually how I interpret it as well. I just thought it was odd that the alien cultural possibility wasn't being discussed at all -- that people were commenting on Leeta's values as if expecting them to conform to human culture.
38. Rob C
Apparently Siddig hated the character twist of Bashir being genetically enhanced, because he had no indication at all from the writers during the previous four seasons.


Siddig seemed to be pretty young and immature at the time of filming DS9, being in his early twenties. I've tried not to let those negative stories of Siddig's attitude off-set ruin my liking for the Bashir character on screen. He's grown up a lot since and regrets some of his more "diva" moments (I.e. Changing his name in the credits after season 1 to cut Paramount out of autograph profits)
Christopher Bennett
39. ChristopherLBennett
@38: Siddig changed his stage name at the start of season 4. And according to The Deep Space Nine Companion, the reason he changed it was to make his name easier for casting directors and producers to remember.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
40. Lisamarie
"Siddig seemed to be pretty young and immature at the time of filming DS9, being in his early twenties."

And this is different from the Bashir character how...? ;)
41. Josh Luz
Maybe it's a reflection of our patriarchal society that we still need to change, but it seems that in 2014 adulthood, it's still much more typical for the man to be the one who asks. On the other hand, the Leeta/Rom relationship has such an obvious mutual attraction, to the point where I'd imagine both at least suspect it (well, Rom suspects. Pretty sure Leeta is certain) it is surprising she didn't just bring it up herself instead of almost leaving the station. Maybe I've just never encountered a situation that blatant.

Subscribe to this thread

Receive notification by email when a new comment is added. You must be a registered user to subscribe to threads.
Post a comment