“Our Man Bashir”
Written by Bob Gillan and Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
Season 4, Episode 9
Production episode 40514-482
Original air date: November 27, 1995
Station log: A man with an eyepatch, who is called Falcon, goes flying through a plate glass window. The man who threw him through it is Bashir, wearing a tuxedo. He is handed a glass of champagne by a grateful woman in a red dress. Bashir sees Falcon get up in the reflection of the bottle, and pops the champagne cork right at his forehead, knocking him unconscious. “A lot of kick for a ’45 Dom,” he says before kissing the woman.
The smooching is interrupted by Garak, who is also wearing a tux, and who is intrigued by this program of Bashir’s. Since he got it, he’s spent all his spare time in the holosuite, and he won’t tell anyone about it. Garak convinces Bashir to let him stick around and observe his fantasy.
However, the woman in the red dress leaves. Garak realizes that he probably scared her off, and apologizes, saying that Bashir has every right to be so angry with Garak that he should take a champagne bottle and shoot him. Bashir figures he’s going to regret this, but Garak asks the question no one should ever ask under any circumstances: “What could possibly go wrong?”
They fly from Paris to Hong Kong, where “Agent” Bashir keeps a lavish apartment. Garak sneers at the décor, but Bashir says it’s apropos for 1964. His valet, Mona Luvsitt—who wears a miniskirt and shows significant cleavage, but who also has a degree in biology, speaks seven languages, and mixes a mean martini—takes care of his things. Garak is appalled to learn that Bashir’s character is not a rich dilettante but a spy—his government, Great Britain, provided the apartment, his weaponry, the valet, and more. Garak mutters that he joined the wrong intelligence service…
Back in the real world, Sisko, Kira, Dax, Worf, and O’Brien are returning from a conference in the Orinoco. Someone sabotaged the runabout and it explodes just as Eddington is beaming them off. The transporter is damaged, and the five patterns are in the buffer. They have to store their patterns somewhere before the patterns degrade. Eddington has to store their neural patterns in the computer, which he can only do after wiping the entire computer memory of the station.
On the holosuite, a secret chamber with a bed behind the bar has an unexpected occupant: Kira. Except it quickly becomes apparent that it’s not Kira, it’s Colonel Anastasia Komananov, one of the characters in the program—but she now looks like Kira, with the computer insisting that this is the proper image for Komananov. Bashir and Garak contact Ops, and they soon realize that the neural patterns of the runabout crew are in the station computer, but their physical forms are in the holosuite, replacing the characters in Bashir’s program. Odo and Eddington tell Bashir that he has to keep the program running and not leave the holosuite, otherwise they risk losing all five of them.
Komananov is there on business, not just to flirt with Bashir. There have been several artificial earthquakes all across the globe, which all happened after a seismologist named Honey Bear disappeared. Komananov’s dossier on Bear includes a picture: it’s Dax, wearing large glasses. Bashir and Garak (and Komananov) have to rescue Bear, because if she’s killed, the computer will erase her image, and they’ll lose Dax.
Before they can continue, Luvsitt is killed by Falcon—who now looks like O’Brien. Falcon grants Bashir and Komananov one last kiss. She whispers, “Earring,” and Bashir grabs the earring and tosses it to the ground—it’s a flash-bang, and it disorients Falcon and his two henchmen enough for Bashir, Garak, and Komananov to take them down—though Bashir has to stop Komananov from killing Falcon, which would kill O’Brien. Garak is also bleeding, meaning the holosuite’s safeties are off.
Garak cautions Bashir that he may not have the luxury of saving everyone. Real spies sometimes have to make life-or-death decisions, but Bashir will cross that bridge when he comes to it. Their only lead is that it might be Dr. Hippocrates Noah who kidnapped the scientists. He’s kidnapped some other people, apparently from Club Ingenue in Paris. So off they go…
Odo and Eddington get Quark and Rom to open up the holosuite controls, and Eddington confirms that all five images are there. They just have to figure out how to reintegrate their neural patterns with their physical forms. Eddington suggests using the Defiant, but Rom will need to make some modifications to make his equipment compatible with Starfleet’s. Rom sets up massive wires and tubes and such, causing Eddington to mutter that O’Brien’s going to kill him when he gets back.
Back in their tuxedoes, Bashir and Garak, joined by Komananov enter Club Ingenue, which has gambling, drinking, and go-go dancers. Dropping Dr. Noah’s name gets them brought back to the baccarat table, run by a man named Duchamps—who looks like Worf. Bashir claims to be one of the world’s finest geologists, and feels insulted that Noah invited other top scientists and not him. Duchamps says a meeting can be arranged for 5000 francs, which Bashir then proceeds to win at the baccarat table. Duchamps then takes out a cigar and gasses them.
They wake up in a lavish sitting room atop the Himalayas. They are greeted by Noah—who looks like Sisko. Noah claims to believe in an orderly world. He’s building a new future, a new beginning for humanity, right here on his island. Bashir is confused by his calling a mountaintop an island. The earthquake sites, Noah reveals, were all tests for a massive set of lasers that will cause massive earthquakes that will be enough to flood the entire world, except for this mountaintop, the highest in the world. All that will be left of humanity are the people Noah has gathered, the finest minds on Earth, who will repopulate the human race.
Noah also knows that Bashir isn’t really a geologist, because his chief of security is Falcon, who blew his cover. Bashir and Garak are tied to two posts at one of the laser sights. Once it fires, they’ll be drowned in lava.
Bear shows up to check the readings one last time. Bashir, knowing precisely what era he’s pretending to be in, compliments Bear on her beauty, convincing her that the last thing he wants to see before he dies is her with her glasses off and her hair down. She is, of course, smitten, and gives him one last kiss—as well as the key to the handcuffs. Garak, who has been making snide commentary all along, says, “Kiss the girl, get the key—they never taught me that in the Obsidian Order.”
They escape just as the laser is fired up. Bashir assembles a tiny handgun from stuff stored in the heel of his shoe, because of course he has a gun in his shoe, and says they have to go to the control room. If the program plays out as planned, either Bear or Komananov will be killed, with the other ending up with Bashir. He can’t let that happen.
Garak, however, is done with all this. It’s time to cut their losses. A real spy would get while the getting’s good—that’s how he’s stayed alive all these years. But Bashir won’t sacrifice the crew—and when Garak tries to call for the exit, Bashir surprises Garak (and the viewer) by shooting him. It’s only a flesh wound to the neck, but Garak is impressed enough to not call for the exit and follow Bashir’s lead. (“Who am I to argue with Julian Bashir, secret agent?”)
Bashir and Garak burst into the sitting room and free Komananov (Noah’s keeping her alive as breeding stock)—but then Duchamps comes in and gets the drop on Bashir and Garak. Eddington calls Bashir and tells him that they’ll try beaming everyone out in two minutes, so he has to stall.
Which he does by capitulating, by saying that he has no place in Noah’s new world, and then he uses the same words Garak used on him to Noah about cutting his losses (while an appreciative Garak looks on). And then Bashir pushes the button and destroys the world.
Odo transfers the neural patterns to the Defiant and Rom is able to beam the physical patterns off the holosuite and reintegrate everyone. Naturally, the first thing O’Brien says is, “What’d you do to my ship?!”
Back on the holosuite, Bashir and Garak head out, but Bashir assures Garak that Julian Bashir, secret agent, will return….
Can’t we just reverse the polarity? As established inTNG’s “Relics,” transporter patterns degrade if they’re kept in the buffer for too long (which is a handy way of explaining why they don’t just store people in the buffer all the time), so Odo and Eddington need to dump the neural and physical patterns somewhere. Rom also apparently has to juryrig a lot of the equipment for the holosuites because Quark is too cheap to get top-of-the-line parts.
The Sisko is of Bajor: Sisko’s image is used for Dr. Noah, complete with Nehru jacket, cigar, and over-the-top acting. The only thing missing is a cat to pet.
Don’t ask my opinion next time: Kira’s image is used for Komananov, who’s a Soviet agent, but still sleeps with Bashir, an enemy agent. She has a hilarious Russian accent that’s missing only a query for the whereabouts of moose and squirrel.
The slug in your belly: Dax’s image is used for Honey Bear, the seismologist who hides her beauty behind a pair of glasses and pinned-up hair. It’s actually kind of amusing, given the concerns that some (including your humble rewatcher) had about Terry Farrell during the show’s first season, that she was all good looks and wouldn’t be convincing as a scientist. While Farrell put those concerns to rest by the second season, it’s amusing to see her in this role here.
There is no honor in being pummeled: Worf’s image is used for Duchamps, Noah’s associate who gets to suavely kidnap scientists while wearing a white tuxedo and smoking cigars.
Preservation of mass and energy is for wimps: Odo, along with Eddington, has to try to save the five trapped crew.
Rules of Acquisition: It’s Quark, oddly, who figures out that the neural patterns of the crew are stored in the station computer, after Rom reminds everyone that holosuites can’t store stuff at the quantum level and so can’t store the neural energy, just the physical forms.
Plain, simple: Garak pretty much forces his way into the program—starting by cockblocking Bashir with the blonde in the red dress—and is disdainful of the entire exercise, making copious snide commentary along the way about the lack of realism compared to the real life of a spy (something Bashir throws back in his face right before he shoots him), not to mention the sexism and the awful décor. (He’s particularly disdainful of the décor, mentioning it several times.)
For Cardassia! The Orinoco was sabotaged by the True Way, a Cardassian separatist group who is against the treaty with Bajor and blames the Federation for all their economic woes.
What happens on the holosuite stays on the holosuite: You gotta be grateful that Bashir wasn’t running, say, the program of Nog’s that Dax gave him before he left for the Academy. As it is, Bashir’s been doing the secret agent thing in pretty much all his off-time since he got the program.
Also, Quark’s holosuites have safeties that can be disengaged. This made no sense on the Enterprise, and it makes even less sense in a commercial holosuite, where the safeties being disengaged can lead to serious consequences for Quark if one of his customers gets hurt. The safeties should be hardwired.
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: In the program, Bashir is sleeping with Komananov, tries to sleep with the blonde in the red dress, probably is sleeping with Luvsitt (because if he’s not sleeping with his cleavage-y, leggy valet, it would violate the tenets of the program, honestly), and seduces Bear in a manner that could only be accomplished by a male in 1960s fiction.
Keep your ears open: “Where’s the core memory interface?”
“Oh—it’s right behind the spatula.”
Eddington and Rom in an exchange that perfectly sums up Rom’s engineering methods.
Welcome aboard: The main guests in this are recurring regulars Andrew J. Robinson as Garak, Kenneth Marshall as Eddington, and Max Grodénchik as Rom. In addition, Melissa Young and Marci Brickhouse play the two beautiful women Bashir interacts with who aren’t members of the main cast.
Trivial matters: This episode is, obviously, an homage to 1960s spy stories, with James Bond being the most obvious, but also using elements of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Our Man Flint, The Wild Wild West, and Matt Helm. But the strongest is Bond, from Bashir introducing himself by last name and then full name, to Dr. Noah—a play both on Dr. No and on the biblical character who survived the great flood—to tons of tropes, ranging from the bad guy describing his plan in great detail, to the death trap that’s easily escaped from when shooting him would’ve been more efficient, to the notion that one of the two women in the story will die while the other winds up with the hero, to moving the plot along by the hero winning at a card game, etc.
The episode took nine days to film; a typical DS9 episode took seven, but several of the stunts and sets took a lot longer than usual to set up.
While the program will be mentioned—in “A Simple Investigation,” “Change of Heart,” “His Way,” and “It’s Only a Paper Moon”—it won’t be seen again, mainly because the studio got a sternly worded letter from MGM, the owners of the James Bond movie franchise. While there was nothing specifically actionable in “Our Man Bashir,” it came close enough that they didn’t want to risk it in a subsequent episode. (Ironically, one of the Bond homages was Bashir’s line at the end that he would return, a play on the card at the end of the Bond films that James Bond, 007, would return, and it was partly because of that that he wouldn’t…)
The True Way will be seen again in “Crossfire.”
This episode got two Emmy nominations, for Outstanding Hairstyling and Outstanding Music Composition.
Walk with the Prophets: “Bashir. Julian Bashir.” There really isn’t a lot to say about this episode. “Little Green Men” wore 1950s B-movies on its sleeve and “The Sword of Kahless” wore The Treasure of the Sierra Madre on its sleeve; this episode wears 1960s spy movies on the whole damn shirt. (Kudos to Jay Chattaway, whose music is spot-on for the time period.)
But holy crap is it fun. All the actors take great glee in their roles, though as is often the case, Avery Brooks and Nana Visitor are the standouts. Both leave no piece of scenery unchewed, the former with his delightful histrionics that put him right up there with Gert Fröbe and Joseph Wiseman and Donald Pleasance and Christopher Lee and Javier Bardem, the latter with her hilarious accent that nonetheless never wavers. She also gets the most to do, since she’s alongside Bashir and Garak for much of the story. (I particularly love her plaintive cries of “Who is Dax?”)
Even the technobabble, which is so incredibly contrived, is at least ameliorated by the hilariousness of Rom’s homespun engineering (I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard at any line in Star Trek as I did at Rom’s “behind the spatula” line).
Not much to say here: it’s a romp, and even though it gets serious for half a second when Garak lectures Bashir about how real spies are supposed to behave, it never ceases to be a fun romp that lets the actors play around a bit. I mean, sure, there’s stuff you could analyze about this episode, but there’s little point, as it’s all an excuse for everyone to have fun. Sisko chewing scenery along with his cigar! Kira’s absurd accent! Worf in a tux! What’s not to like?
Warp factor rating: 9
Rewatcher’s note: Keith is in the home stretch of his 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! If we reach $2500 there’ll be cookies! It ends on Thursday evening. Details can be found here.
Keith R.A. DeCandido will be part of a talk on the ins and outs of writing media tie-ins at Housing Works Books and Café as part of their “Geek Week” on Wednesday at 7pm. He’ll be joined by fellow novelist David Mack, editor Ginjer Buchanan, and moderator Cici James of Singularity & Co. Full details here. Come on by!