Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “Chrysalis”

“Chrysalis”
Written by Rene Echevarria
Directed by Jonathan West
Season 7, Episode 5
Production episode 40510-555
Original air date: October 28, 1998
Stardate: unknown

Station log: Bashir is having a slow night of working on a virus while in bed, when Nog summons him to the infirmary to see Admiral Patrick. The “admiral” is, in fact, Patrick in disguise, along with Jack and Lauren—all three dressed as Starfleet officers—and Sarina. Bashir had been considering bringing Sarina to the station to try to treat her, and “the Jack Pack” decided not to wait and bring her to the station now, impersonating officers while doing so.

Bashir convinces Sisko to not have them arrested and Dr. Lowes has approved the surgery Bashir wishes to perform that would get Sarina out of her own head, as it were. Sisko also allows the other three to remain so that Sarina will have familiar faces around, but insists they no longer wear uniforms.

He takes her to the infirmary to run tests, and then asks O’Brien if he can modify a probe so that it can stimulate her synapses, putting her brain and her senses back in sync. But O’Brien says it can’t be done—however, Jack, Patrick, and Lauren have figured out a way to do it.

Using the modified probe, Bashir performs the surgery, but Sarina remains practically catatonic. Five days later, Bashir laments to Dax in Quark’s that he failed—only to see her wandering the Promenade and speaking. Sarina herself is surprised to see that she’s speaking—she’s used to thinking things but nobody hearing her. He runs a few tests and then brings her to the cargo bay. Jack is annoyed by her style of speech—she’s out of practice, and so sounds halting—and the four of them start singing variations on “Do Re Mi.” After a minute, Sarina sounds like she’s been singing her whole life.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Chrysalis

Bashir is so caught up in Sarina’s recovery that he spaces on him and O’Brien getting together. When he does finally go to Quark’s, he babbles to O’Brien for half an hour about Sarina before O’Brien can get a word in reminding him that they were supposed to get together. (Why O’Brien didn’t just tap the combadge that’s right there on his chest to ask Bashir where he was is left unspoken.)

He returns to his quarters to find Sarina there. Bashir asked how she got in, and she says, “your access code only has six digits.” She’s afraid to fall asleep because she might wake up and be back the way she was. Bashir comforts her and she actually falls asleep on his shoulder. He eventually falls asleep on the couch also.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Chrysalis

The next morning he wakes up on the couch to find that Sarina has solved a mutating virus problem that Bashir’s been working on for months. She also feeds him breakfast before he goes off to the infirmary for surgery. Sarina goes to the cargo bay, where Jack is panicking because the universe only has 60 or 70 trillion years left and they have to fix it!

When Bashir returns to the cargo bay, Sarina is sitting alone, seemingly unresponsive—but it turns out she’s just pretending to be catatonic so that Jack and the other two will stop bugging her. Bashir then invites Sarina to join him and O’Brien, Dax, Odo, and Kira at Quark’s. Lauren dresses her up, and they have a pleasant drink and chat together. She pretty much pegs all of them just from a little exposure.

Lowes wants Jack, Lauren, and Patrick to return to the institute, but Sarina no longer needs to be there. And then Sarina and Bashir kiss, which is about nineteen types of stupid and unethical (though he recuses himself as her doctor, putting her in Dr. Girani’s care). It doesn’t help matters when he tells the other three, who are furious (Jack), disgusted (Lauren), and sad (Patrick).

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Chrysalis

Bashir takes Sarina to Quark’s, where she cleans up at dabo, to Quark’s chagrin, but eventually gets overstimulated and has to leave. Bashir is utterly smitten with her, as she’s pretty much the woman he’s been waiting for all his life—someone who can actually keep up with him. O’Brien cautions him that it’s all happening a bit too fast, but Bashir replies that they’re genetically engineered—they do everything fast. (Wah-hey!)

When Sarina doesn’t show up for her and Bashir’s dinner date, he goes to her quarters to find that she’s once again catatonic. Girani can’t detect a cause, and so Bashir turns her over to the rest of the Jack Pack, who know her better than anyone. Unfortunately, there isn’t a physical cause—she’s retreated into herself because she’s frightened. She doesn’t know what love is, she doesn’t know how to respond to Bashir, but she desperately wants to please him because she’s so grateful.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Chrysalis

Realizing how screwed up this relationship is, Bashir sends her off to an internship where she’ll live with a family and be able to acclimate, while the other three return to the institute.

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? At one point O’Brien gets his Scotty on and tells Bashir that he can’t break the laws of physics with regard to the probe Bashir used in the surgery.

The Sisko is of Bajor: Sisko lets go of the rather serious crime of impersonating an officer with unconvincing ease, especially since Sisko himself says that the “lovable scamps” defense didn’t really fly when they tried to give classified intel to the Dominion, so it really shouldn’t fly now. But Sisko lets it go because the script says he does…

The slug in your belly: Dax’s method of counseling Bashir is to help him in beating himself up, which actually works decently as a reverse-psychology ploy.

Rules of Acquisition: Quark offers free booze to Sarina just to get her to stop winning at dabo so much.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Chrysalis

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Lauren informs Bashir that it’s over between them, and that she has a new man in her life: Nog. It’s unclear as to whether or not Nog has been informed of this…

Meanwhile, Bashir totally falls for Sarina without thinking through the emotional consequences to her.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Chrysalis

Keep your ears open: “That’s a stupid question!”

Patrick’s catch-all response, particularly when he’s disguised as an admiral, to keep people from questioning him. This works on several folks, including Nog and a security guard.

Welcome aboard: Back from “Statistical Probabilities” are Tim Ransom as Jack, Hilary Shepard Turner as Lauren, Michael Keenen as Patrick, and, most notably, Faith C. Salie as Sarina. Because she had dialogue this time ’round, Salie had to actually re-audition for the role of Sarina for this episode.

In addition, Aron Eisenberg shows up as Nog.

Trivial matters: This episode serves as a sequel to “Statistical Probabilities,” with the return of “the Jack Pack,” and that story is referenced more than once.

While this is the last time these characters are seen onscreen, Sarina will go on to be a recurring character in the tie-in fiction, appearing in several of the Typhon Pact novels, among others—most recently in David Mack’s Section 31 novel Disavowed.

Dr. Girani is mentioned and seen in the background. This is the first time that there has ever been a reference to another doctor serving on the station—even though a station as large of this would, by necessity, need to have at least three or four doctors on duty. Girani is only referenced in this episode, but she plays a good-sized role in several post-finale DS9 novels and also appears in the short story “The Devil You Know” by Heather Jarman in Prophecy and Change.

The singing scene was an odd experience for the actors, as Tim Ransom is completely tone-deaf and had to be dubbed (making Lauren’s comment that Jack was tone-deaf even funnier), while Faith C. Salie had no idea she could sing as well as she could. (For her part, Hilary Shepard Turner was the lead singer in a band and so was fine with it, and Michael Keenen enjoyed the experience as well.)

Walk with the Prophets: “So what’s a genetically enhanced girl supposed to do when she wakes up from a long sleep?” It took me a while to figure out why I didn’t like this one more than I should have. I mean, it’s generally a good, well-put-together episode. It’s actually fun to see the Jack Pack again, all four actors do superbly, especially Faith Salie, who had a much bigger role to play this time as Sarina. Salie is radiant and wonderful, and really sells Sarina’s transition.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Chrysalis

There are certainly lots of small problems, bits of the story that strain credulity pretty much to the breaking point: Sisko letting the Jack Pack get away with what they did, Lowes blithely approving Bashir’s experimental surgery that includes equipment that hasn’t even been invented yet, O’Brien sitting and sulking and listening to Morn in Quark’s while waiting for Bashir without actually contacting him to ask where he is (and Bashir said he was in the infirmary for part of it, which is right across the corridor), and, for that matter, the Jack Pack actually being able to get from the institute to DS9 while disguised as Starfleet officers in the middle of a war that’s fueled by paranoia over the infiltration of shapeshifting aliens.

But ultimately my biggest problem is that this story is only about Bashir when it should also be about Sarina. Yes, Bashir is a main character, but he’s being a jackass. His behavior is horrendous, bordering on unethical—he stops being her doctor, at the very least—but Sarina imprinting on him is almost inevitable, and his response should’ve been to back off, not double down. (Gee, if only they had a counselor on the station to help him through that. Oh, wait!) Sarina’s struggle, outlined all-too-quickly when she unloads on Bashir in the cargo bay, should have been the heart of the episode.

At the very least, this story needed the balance between Bashir and Sarina that Rene Echevarria gave to his first script, TNG’s “The Offspring,” between Data and Lal. The stories have many of the same beats, but I like that Bashir’s procedure doesn’t fail or fall apart, but that Sarina still is in good shape and goes off to have a life at the end.

But I still wish we’d gotten more of her instead of just focusing on how awful Bashir’s life is without having someone who can keep up with him in his life. Yes, that’s very heady, and it’s a good journey for him to go on, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of the poor woman who’s just been able to talk for the first time in her life. I get that she’s a guest star, but it feels so horribly unfair for this brilliant, fascinating woman to be reduced to Bashir’s trophy rather than be allowed to go on her own journey on camera.

 

Warp factor rating: 6


Keith R.A. DeCandido has written a whole bunch of stuff. He’s currently writing more stuff.

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