Written by David Weddle & Bradley Thompson
Directed by Steve Posey
Season 7, Episode 23
Production episode 40510-573
Original air date: May 19, 1999
Station log: Kira has brought the Jem’Hadar ship with the Breen weapon, along with an incredibly dry and flaky Odo, back to the station. Bashir is still looking for a cure, and he has some therapies that help Odo deal with the pain. Odo refuses to let Kira stay and watch him die, especially given how important her assignment is. After one last kiss, she goes off.
O’Brien has forwarded the Breen weapon to Starfleet Command, and Kira and Garak go off to rejoin Damar. Bashir and O’Brien then confide in Sisko their plan: to lure a Section 31 operative to the station with a false report of a cure. To hedge their bets, they don’t actually tell Sisko this until after Bashir has sent the false message.
Sure enough, one night Bashir wakes up to see Sloan sitting in his chair, just like he’s done several times before, and this time Bashir is ready with a containment field that surrounds the chair. Sloan is also genuinely surprised that Bashir’s message was fake, simply bait to get Sloan there. The doctor turns off the containment field and stuns Sloan, then brings him to the infirmary. Sloan tries threatening O’Brien’s family, he tries pleading ignorance, he tries pretty much every verbal tactic at his disposal, and when that doesn’t work, he activates a neural depolarizer to commit suicide. Bashir manages to stabilize him, but it’s a temporary stopgap.
Undaunted, Bashir instructs O’Brien how to construct a doohickey that will allow Bashir to interact with Sloan’s conscious mind. O’Brien insists on going along, partly so someone “with an ounce of sense” goes along, and partly so that he isn’t stuck explaining to Sisko by himself what they’re doing.
And so they ENTER SLOAN’S BRAIN! The man himself shows up, seemingly amenable to helping them out, but his mouth can’t form the words needed to explain the cure. This Sloan is very much like the affable one we first met in “Inquisition,” before he whipped out the thumbscrews. He insists on taking them to the wardroom, where a whole bunch of people are gathered—they’re avatars of the most important people in Sloan’s life. Or, at least, they would have been if he hadn’t spent all his life covering his tracks and being married to his work, as it were. He denied himself the chance at a life, and he is sorry for that. But in death, he can finally come out of the shadows and say he lived.
His wife is holding a padd that has the cure, and Sloan asks her for it. Just as he’s about to hand it to them, though, another Sloan—dressed in black and very nasty—shows up and shoots him. The wardroom is suddenly empty. O’Brien and Bashir chase Sloan through several corridors, and then are stopped by another 31 agent, who shoots them both. They actually feel pain, and collapse onto the deck. They spend several minutes having a hilariously ridiculous conversation about their friendship and the women they love and how they like each other more than the women they love (Keiko and Bashir’s theory, one O’Brien doesn’t subscribe to), and then they see a bright light. Eventually, they get to their feet, go to a door—
—and then they come out of Sloan’s mind to see Sisko, Worf, and a medical team, who got them out before Sloan could die. Despite the best efforts of Bashir and the medical team, Sloan dies.
After telling Odo that they lost their best shot at curing him, Bashir goes to his cabin—only to discover that the book he’s reading, A Tale of Two Cities, starts over on page 294, which is as far as Bashir had gotten in the book. They’re STILL IN SLOAN’S BRAIN! He couldn’t fill in the rest of the book because he’s drawing on Bashir and O’Brien’s own memories (and apparently he’s never read Dickens).
Sure enough, they find themselves back in the corridor where they were “shot,” and go into the door that they tried to go into when they “woke up.” Sloan is there, surrounded by a mess of padds and papers that are all over the floor, the desk, the shelves. Sloan is subdued, saying that this used to be tidy, but now that he’s dying, it’s a mess. Bashir learns that 31 had a person in President Jaresh-Inyo’s cabinet, and another on Qo’noS.
Bashir is captivated by all the secrets he can learn in this room. He tries to read all the padds and papers so he can remember them when he wakes up and bring down 31, but Sloan is tempting him with all this information so that when Sloan dies, they’ll die, too. Luckily, O’Brien is there to be the sensible one, and he convinces Bashir to wake himself up now that they have Odo’s cure.
Sure enough, they wake up just before Sloan dies. Bashir remembers the sequence, synthesizes the formula, and injects it into Odo. After a few moments of pain, he reverts to his liquid state and then reforms as the Odo we all know and love. He’s cured.
Bashir and O’Brien have a game of darts in Quark’s after hours, and then O’Brien says Keiko held dinner for him—he invites Bashir along, who tosses the dart right into the bull’s eye before departing.
Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Bashir instructs O’Brien how to construct a multitronic engrammatic interpreter, which enables him to ENTER SLOAN’S BRAIN!
The Sisko is of Bajor: Sisko is kinda pissed that Bashir and O’Brien went ahead with their harebrained scheme without consulting him, but he gives the plan his full support while admitting that it’s probably a long shot.
Don’t ask my opinion next time: Kira initially refuses to leave Odo’s side in the infirmary, but goes only at his insistence.
The slug in your belly: Dax is the one who discovers what Bashir and O’Brien are doing, mainly because O’Brien missed his appointment to fix Dax’s sonic shower so he could ENTER SLOAN’S BRAIN!
Preservation of mass and energy is for wimps: Odo insists that Kira not have to sit in the infirmary and watch another lover die the way she did with Bareil, and he doesn’t want the last thing he sees to be her being sad about him dying.
Plain, simple: Garak is in the episode for no compellingly good reason, just to mention that they need to get a move on back to Damar’s base before the Jem’Hadar change their patrol pattern on them. Quite possibly the easiest paycheck of Andrew J. Robinson’s career—or, to put it another way, he had to sit in a makeup chair for several hours for about 75 seconds of screen time…
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Bashir declares that he’s in love with Dax. Dax has already declared that she’s in love with Bashir. Since they’ve only been onscreen together for four-and-a-half seconds, we have to take their word for it, since they haven’t even had the chance to see if they have chemistry, we’re just being told that they’re in love. Okay.
Keep your ears open: “I knew Quark was hoarding a bottle of the good stuff.”
“This is older than I am.”
“What? I’m drinking with a child!”
O’Brien being forcibly reminded how much younger Bashir is than him via booze.
Welcome aboard: William Sadler is back for his third and final appearance as Sloan, while Andrew J. Robinson makes a token appearance as Garak.
Trivial matters: This is the final chronological appearance of Section 31. The organization will be seen again in the fourth season of Enterprise in the 22nd century and Star Trek Into Darkness in the 23rd.
The original plan was for Odo and Kira to be the ones searching for the cure, but it was decided to have the pair of them working with Damar’s resistance, so it was changed to Bashir and O’Brien. In addition, they needed to save money so they could blow the budget on the finale. So instead of going to a planet to find Sloan, they had it take place on the station, and even the virtual scenarios were filmed on existing DS9 sets. Plus scenes involving other guest stars were cut (the script called for a scene on Cardassia involving Weyoun and the female changeling), which also saved money.
Jaresh-Inyo, who was seen as president of the Federation in “Homefront” and “Paradise Lost,” is established as no longer being president as of this episode. The novels expanded on this, primarily in the A Time to… and Slings and Arrows miniseries, establishing that Jaresh-Inyo ran for reelection in 2372 (the same year as the two-parter in which he appeared), and lost badly—the widest margin of any sitting president who ran for reelection in the Federation’s history—due to falling for Leyton’s coup attempt in those episodes. He was succeeded by Min Zife, who was president during the Dominion War.
Odo refers to Kira watching Bareil die in the infirmary, which occurred at the end of “Life Support,” when Kira sat with Bareil in his final moments.
Bashir intends to use the same mind probes on Sloan that Koval (working with Sloan) tried to use on Bashir in “Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges.” (Sloan tries to appeal to Bashir’s better nature by saying that they’re illegal in the Federation. Bashir, however, is too consumed with laughter at the hilarious irony in Sloan, of all people, quoting Federation law.)
Spock gave Kirk a copy of A Tale of Two Cities as a birthday present in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The copy Bashir is reading was given to him by Dax, and the copy was Jadzia’s before it was Ezri’s.
Walk with the Prophets: “If it’s going to be painful, just say so.” This closing arc has been all about momentum. What’s been thrilling about the ride is watching all the different plotlines happening, the huge tapestry of this war that has consumed the Alpha Quadrant.
And then we have this, which grinds all that momentum to a halt. We get a quick reminder of what’s going on elsewhere with Odo’s return to the station and the Breen weapon now in Starfleet’s hands, but after that it’s The O’Brien and Bashir Bromance Hour.
Mind you, I love the O’Brien-Bashir friendship. It’s been one of the cornerstones of the series. But it works best when relegated to a comic relief sideplot (see “The Changing Face of Evil”) or as part of an interesting plot (see “Armageddon Game”).
“Extreme Measures” is neither, as it gives us no B-plot or C-plot. We don’t know what’s happening elsewhere. How is Damar’s rebellion? Is Dukat still begging on the streets? Is Winn still staring at ancient texts and furrowing her brow a lot? How many times has the female changeling threatened Weyoun this week? How is Martok settling in as chancellor?
The answer to none of those questions is provided—indeed, they’re not even acknowledged for more than half a second, if that. The opening fools us into thinking this will be a broad-ranging episode, showing us a sick Odo, a desperate Bashir, and a smitten Kira. Honestly, the scene between Odo and Kira is agonizingly heartbreaking, played magnificently by Nana Visitor, and especially Rene Auberjonois, who has to emote while covered in enough crap to make him look like an Ent.
But then Kira and Garak leave, and that’s it—the whole rest of the episode is turned over to O’Brien and Bashir’s wacky scheme to ENTER SLOAN’S BRAIN!
Look, there’s only three episodes left. There’s a lot of stuff going on. So it’s really hard to get anything but frustrated over an episode that consists of Bashir and O’Brien walking through corridors a lot. And they’re not even real corridors, they’re PART OF SLOAN’S BRAIN! And they don’t even make much an effort to make the corridors super-surreal (like, say, the Enterprise corridors were in Data’s dream sequences in “Birthright I”), they’re just corridors. That they walk through. A lot.
At least until they get shot, so then they sit in the corridor. A lot. And talk about their bromance. A lot. O’Brien protests too much that he likes his wife better than his best friend and Bashir gives him crap about it and at this point I’m driving spikes through my head because it’s more pleasant than this conversation which is simultaneously endless and pointless.
On top of that, William Sadler is wasted. His sad speech to his family and friends about how he sacrificed having a life so he could be a bastard in the name of preserving a Federation he constantly undermines is almost touching, but it falls flat. In “Inquisition” and “Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges,” Sloan was a worthy foe, a complex character. Here he’s just a plot device. Both the character and the actor deserve better.
I would rather have seen Bashir and O’Brien do the Alamo on the holodeck for an hour. But that probably wasn’t in the budget…
Warp factor rating: 4
Keith R.A. DeCandido will be a guest at Farpoint 22 this weekend in Timonium, Maryland, both as an author and a musician as part of the Boogie Knights. Other guests include actors Tim Russ and Colin Ferguson, author Timothy Zahn, Klingon language guru Marc Okrand, and fellow Trek fictioneers Rigel Ailur, Peter David, Michael Jan Friedman, Dave Galanter, Allyn Gibson, Robert Greenberger, Glenn Hauman, Robert T. Jeschonek, David Mack, Aaron Rosenberg, Howard Weinstein, Richard C. White, and Steven H. Wilson, and tons and tons more. Here’s his schedule.