Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “Hippocratic Oath”

“Hippocratic Oath”
Written by Nicholas Corea and Lisa Klink
Directed by Rene Auberjonois
Season 4, Episode 3
Production episode 40514-475
Original air date: October 16, 1995
Stardate: 49066.5

Station log: Worf is in Quark’s, noticing that one of the customers is a known associate of a smuggler. Quark looks over Worf’s shoulder and makes some derogatory comments about the quality of mug shots, while insisting that everyone is welcome at Quark’s—he doesn’t discriminate. Worf obviously wants Quark to be somewhere else, and Kira’s arrival grants Worf his wish. Worf asks Kira why Odo allows “the Ferengi bartender,” a known criminal, free rein of the station. Kira insists that Odo keeps him in check, and Worf’s response is, “But not in prison.”

Bashir and O’Brien are returning from a bio-survey of Merik III in the Gamma Quadrant. (Why they’re doing a survey of a planet in the GQ when the Dominion said they’d view any travel through the wormhole as an act of war remains unclear.) They detect a magneton pulse on Bopak III. They investigate, and then are hit with a plasma field that forces the runabout to crash land. (O’Brien says he sees a clearing up ahead, and then they crash in a dense forest.)

As soon as they exit the runabout, a platoon of Jem’Hadar decloak, and First Goran’agar announces that they’re prisoners. When asked what they’re doing there, Bashir says they were investigating the magneton pulse, thinking it might be a ship in distress, causing Goran’agar to pissedly tell his subordinates to shield their ship better.

They identify O’Brien as a priority target for his experience as a chief petty officer and his skill in operations (they get this just from his uniform), but Bashir is considered a low-priority target because the sciences are less relevant. However, when Bashir identifies himself specifically as a doctor, Goran’agar changes his tune, and has both of them brought to camp.

Worf tattles to the principal—er, rather, goes to Sisko to report on Quark’s likely consorting with a smuggler. Odo insists he has everything under control and storms out. Sisko reminds Worf that he’s not a security chief anymore—his job is to coordinate Starfleet activity in the sector, not stop smugglers.

Bashir and O’Brien—imprisoned in one of the Jem’Hadar’s circular force fields of doom—have noticed that the Jem’Hadar are jumpy and probably hiding—and that they obviously need a doctor. Goran’agar takes Bashir away, leaving O’Brien imprisoned. Goran’agar and his squad have abandoned the Dominion—but in order to stay free, they need to kick their addiction to ketracel-white, the isogenic enzyme that all Jem’Hadar need to survive. But Goran’agar has kicked the addiction, which he discovered by accident the last time he was on Bopak III. He crash-landed once before years ago, the only survivor, but when he ran out of white, he continued to survive for a month. Goran’agar thinks that there’s something on Bopak III that will cure the addiction, so when he and his squad chose to defect, they came to this world.

But it isn’t working. Goran’agar is the only one who isn’t addicted to the white, the rest of his soldiers remain just as dependent on it. And they’re running out of time. Bashir is willing to try to figure out how to cure the others, but he needs O’Brien’s help, and he can’t promise results. They only have five days: the white will run out then.

The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Hippocratic Oath

Sisko holds a briefing on the Klingon situation, and afterward Worf tries once again to butt into Odo’s job, telling him about a scanner Quark got his hands on. Odo thanks him for his help and again says that he has it under control.

Bashir and O’Brien do busywork to try to figure out a way to escape, with O’Brien putting together a plasma charger. One of the Jem’Hadar figures out what it is (by shooting another Jem’Hadar with it), and O’Brien is returned to a holding cell. Goran’agar breaks protocol by not killing the injured Jem’Hadar, because the whole point is to be free of the Dominion’s rules.

Worf sneaks into Quark’s after closing, and stakes the place out, waiting hours before Quark meets with the smuggler and inspects illegal crystals. Worf storms to Odo’s office and angrily demands to know why he hasn’t done anything. Odo, basically, tells him to screw off.

The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Hippocratic Oath

Bashir examines Goran’agar and discovers that his body naturally produces the enzyme. Goran’agar is also disgusted with the Founders and the Dominion and the Vorta, and Bashir believes his change of heart is real. O’Brien’s a lot more skeptical, and thinks that Bashir should do nothing to help them. They’re the enemy, and helping them may grant them freedom, but that may just give them license to maraud on their own without the Dominion to exert any control over them.

For what may be the first time in his life, Bashir pulls rank, ordering O’Brien to assist him in trying to cure the Jem’Hadar. Very very very reluctantly, and snidely, O’Brien says, “Yes, sir.”

A Jem’Hadar escorts O’Brien to the runabout to grab a component. He tells O’Brien that his escape plan was flawed, to which O’Brien replies, “Obviously—I got caught.” So he engages an escape plan that isn’t flawed, and beams himself away from the runabout, right under the Jem’Hadar’s nose.

The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Hippocratic Oath

Bashir can’t find a single thing on Bopak III that could be responsible for killing the addiction, and he proposes an alternative: nothing happened to him on the planet. Maybe Goran’agar was never dependant on ketracel-white, maybe he had a random mutation that kept him from needing it to survive.

The other Jem’Hadar are starting to mutiny—they think that Goran’agar has become weak. Time is running out in more ways than one. The Jem’Hadar search for O’Brien, who manages to keep ahead of them, setting traps and such, before doubling back to the camp to rescue Bashir. But Bashir doesn’t want to be rescued. He tells O’Brien to go ahead and leave, but he has to try to break the addiction.

O’Brien disagrees, so he blows up Bashir’s research. Now there’s nothing keeping him there. Goran’agar then decloaks and escorts the two back to the runabout to let them go. There’s no more time—the white will run out tomorrow. Goran’agar kills his subordinate, and says that it’s better that they die in combat quickly than slowly via losing the drug. Bashir pleads with him to save himself, and Goran’agar turns to O’Brien. “You are a soldier?” “I have been.” “Then you explain.” And then he walks off, cloaking himself. O’Brien fulfills Goran’agar’s request by pointing out that he’s their commander—he can’t leave them.

Worf completely blows Odo’s sting operation, as the constable was actually working with Quark to infiltrate the smuggling ring, having disguised himself as the bag Quark handed over the payment in. Now he’s just stuck with the middle man. Worf cops to it—Odo left it out of the report, but Worf is too diligent to not report it. Sisko heard already, of course, because word gets around, and he reassures Worf that he’ll fit in eventually.

The runabout returns to the station. It’s tense in the cockpit, as Bashir feels that O’Brien ran roughshod over his judgment. They wind up cancelling that night’s darts game, as neither feels much like playing.

The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Hippocratic Oath

The Sisko is of Bajor: When Worf reports to Sisko at the end, the captain is tinkering with something that looks like a smaller version of the clock he built while under the influence of the alien probe in “Dramatis Personae.”

The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Hippocratic Oath

Preservation of matter and energy is for wimps: Odo makes it clear that this is his beat, and Worf’s interference isn’t welcome—though he’s perfectly happy to use Worf’s off-the-clock surveillance of Quark and the smuggler work to his advantage.

There is no honor in being pummeled: This episode makes it clear that Worf isn’t going to just automatically fit into DS9’s routine, and also makes it clear that Worf is the one that’s going to have to fit into DS9 not the other way around.

Victory is life: Goran’agar has never seen a Founder—the Jem’Hadar report to the Vorta (who still haven’t been directly identified as the same species as Eris and Borath)—and he likens them to gods at one point. This episode also points up to the fact that there are occasional genetic and mental anomalies among the Jem’Hadar, as even with all the Founders’ careful genetic manipulation, some do not depend on the ketracel-white and some do rebel against the Founders.

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: O’Brien is frustrated because Keiko is annoyed that O’Brien put a workshop together in their bedroom. She thinks he’s trying to be more like a bachelor again; Bashir, though, thinks it’s showing that he’s keeping himself in the bedroom, a place he associates with intimacy with her. O’Brien agrees with Bashir, and then has a My Fair Lady moment, wondering why she can’t be more like a man, a line Bashir has great fun with…

Keep your ears open: “Good work, Chief! Keep this up, you may make a fine officer some day.”

“Oh, thank you, Lieutenant. Coming from you, that means a lot to me.”

Bashir and O’Brien putting on a not-very-good show for the Jem’Hadar.

Welcome aboard: Scott MacDonald, last seen as Tosk in “Captive Pursuit,” as well as N’Vek in TNG’s “Face of the Enemy” and Rollins in Voyager’s “Caretaker,” plays Goran’agar. MacDonald will go on to have a recurring role on Enterprise as Dolim. (Originally, Robert Foxworth auditioned for the role, but he impressed the producers enough that they instead gave him the role of Admiral Leyton in the upcoming two-parter “Homefront” and “Paradise Lost.”)

The other Jem’Hadar are played by Stephen Davies (who previously played the Saratoga tactical officer in “Emissary,” and who’ll play Nakahn in Voyager’s “Darkling”), Jeremy Roberts (credited as “Jerry” here, who played Valtane in Star Trek VI, a role he’ll reprise in Voyager’s “Flashback”), Marshall Teague (he’ll play Haluk in Voyager’s “Distant Origin”), and Michael H. Bailous (a regular background extra).

Trivial matters: This episode is a melding of two pitches, one by Nicholas Corea about a group of Jem’Hadar trying to break their addiction to ketracel-white, the other by Lisa Klink about O’Brien and Bashir taking opposite sides of a conflict on an alien world. Rene Echevarria suggested mushing the two together and Klink, who had recently completed an internship with the staff, was given the assignment to write the teleplay, with Ronald D. Moore doing an uncredited polish. Klink would go on to be a regular freelancer on Voyager, becoming an executive story editor in its fourth season.

Your humble rewatcher wrote a sequel to this story, as the conflict between the two friends was never resolved on the show itself. The story “Broken Oaths” in Prophecy and Change has the friends making up and coming clean to each other, with some help from Dax, Worf, and Garak.

Bashir tells Goran’agar about the events of “The Abandoned,” which is where the doctor gained a lot of his knowledge about Jem’Hadar biology.

Once again, an Alpha Quadrant ship has gone through the wormhole, with no official response from the Dominion (Goran’agar was, after all, on a secret illegal mission), despite the insistence of Talak’talan in “The Jem’Hadar” that any incursion would be construed as an act of war.

This is the first episode to directly refer to the runabouts as being Danube-class and also the first to name the isogenic enzyme on which the Jem’Hadar depend as ketracel-white. Luther Sloan of Section 31 will throw the events of this episode into Bashir’s face in the sixth season’s “Inquisition.”

Walk with the Prophets: “He’s their commander—they trusted him.” Another episode like “Necessary Evil” that takes one of the core friendships of the show and puts a strain on it. Watching Bashir and O’Brien’s bromance develop has been tremendous fun, and I especially like how organically it’s grown.

But they’ve become such buds that it’s easy to forget the early days of the series when O’Brien did not think highly of Bashir at all. Recall the look of disgust on O’Brien’s face back in “Q-Less” when he overheard Bashir telling the story of his Starfleet Medical final in the replimat to a dewy-eyed young woman. For that matter, there’s O’Brien’s patronizing tone to Bashir in “The Siege” when the latter complains about combat rations, or his pissing and moaning to Keiko about being stuck with him in “Armageddon Game.” Yes, they’ve become friends, but they started from a place where only one party respected the other, and it wasn’t the chief doing the respecting.

As a result, for the first time, we see O’Brien disobey an order. He’s always gone out of his way to be deferential to those higher in rank than him in the past: when La Forge spilled ale on him in “The Mind’s Eye,” he refused to even get upset, and when Tom Riker, while pretending to be Will Riker, told him to screw off in “Defiant,” he screwed off without a word. O’Brien has always respected the chain of command.

But of course, Riker and La Forge were both directly linked to him on that chain. Bashir is a doctor, not part of his staff, not someone he reports to, and not someone he started out with any particular respect for, indeed someone he didn’t take entirely seriously. So when it comes time for them to act, not like friends, but like Starfleet personnel, O’Brien fails to keep his chain of command straight. He actually instructs Bashir like a child, saying he won’t help the Jem’Hadar no matter what.

It points up to a fascinating break in the friendship. We’ve been down this road before, not just in “Necessary Evil,” but to a lesser degree in “Life Support” with Jake and Nog. But in the latter episode, the friends confronted each other and worked it out, and in the former, the lie Kira told was from before they were friends, from when they’d just met. The issue was that she hadn’t told him since they became friends.

Here, though, there’s no resolution, and it’s something I hate to ding the episode for because it’s actually realistic that it wouldn’t be tied up in a bow at the end—but it was never followed up on again at all. After a while, they were back to playing darts and playing on the holosuite and generally being besties again without any kind of resolution to a significant issue in their friendship. (I shouldn’t complain too much, since I got a short story out of it, one in which I got to have O’Brien call Bashir a ponce, but still…)

Still, getting there was brilliantly done, precisely because this is a real chink in the armor of this particular relationship, and it played out exactly the way you’d expect when you’ve got an argument between an idealistic officer of a Starfleet doctor and an enlisted engineer with experience on the front lines of a war.

Speaking of chinks in armor, we have the B-plot which was a pretty straightforward Worf-trying-to-fit-in story. The problem is, well, it’s a pretty straightforward Worf-trying-to-fit-in story. You can see the big neon numbers by which this plot was painted, and it’s just hard to get interested in so predictable a plot. The only thing cool about it is Odo’s general crankiness never once letting up.


Warp factor rating: 8

Keith R.A. DeCandido is running a Kickstarter for a new story in the Dragon Precinct universe, featuring the characters of Gan Brightblade and his friends from that novel. He hopes you’ll support it—just two bucks will get you a copy of the story itself! Details can be found here.


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