Bashir

Star Trek DS9 Reviews: The Passenger

I found the implications of this episode deeply disturbing, and not just because it's another Bashir episode. Don't get me wrong, Bashir eventually becomes a likeable character, but he's still very much the condescending jerk in The Passenger. The episode starts on one of the runabouts, on a return trip from some conference. Kira suffers from Bashir's tremendous ego about his medical expertise. Soon, they encounter a ship in distress, to which they beam aboard to give assistance. Here, we get the best scene in the episode, as a dying prisoner grips Bashir by the throat, demanding that he be saved.

Bashir Choked

 

There are some decent plot misdirections in the episode. Once we discover that Vantika transferred his consciousness to a new host, we are left guessing as to who. Possible suspects include the new Starfleet security officer, Primmin, the Kobliad security officer Kajada, and finally, our man Bashir. While the clue was of course in the opening scene, it's interesting to look at some of the reasons the other characters were likely candidates.

First, Kajada could have been Vantika all along, before Bashir and Kira rescued her. With the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde split personality in place, the idea of a security officer fighting to find a hidden personality would be interesting. She would have become the thing she hates the most. This could have turned out to be a more interesting twist, but it doesn't offer as much character development for Bashir.

The other main candidate would be Primmin. As a new crew member, and a Starfleet security officer to boot. Just give him a red shirt and he's toast. Wisely, the writers avoid this route, and instead use Primmin as a foil for Odo.

Primmin

This episode introduced a new Starfleet security officer, Lieutenant Primmin, supposedly to oversee the security details of some important cargo shipments. This of course adds tension in Odo's role as the chief of security on the station. Primmin comes across as a close minded, by the books security officer. He's not well adapted to running security on a space station, where the free flow of trade is essential. He's openly dismissive of Odo, as a non-Starfleet local. While his opinion changes over the episode, Primmin doesn't really endear himself to the viewers.

Primmin

Handling interpersonal conflicts is an important part of team building, which is based on good, open communication. There is little evidence that Primmin is ready for any kind of command role, as he lacks understanding and empathy with "outsiders".

Senior Staff

How do you best inject a new character into a television show? I'm not sure, but I wouldn't use this as an example.

The question of motive

One major issue I have with the plot is that of motive. Kajada explains that Vantika was attempting to steal a shipment of some special ore used to prolong life among the Kobliad. This motivation seems to fall apart once Vantika's consciousness has been transferred. If it can't directly prolong his life, why is he still trying to hijack the shipment? It doesn't really speak very well of someone who has cheated death so many times.

Bashir onscreen

Although I must say, Bashir's ego does seem to suit Vantika. It's probably best not to read too much into this though. While he looks much more dangerous like this, his speech patterns are.. how shall we say? Reminiscent of Shatner.

A most disturbing act

However, the biggest shock of this episode is in the final scene. When Kajada receives custody of the prisoner--now a collection of information on a Petri dish--she draws a weapon and disintegrates it in front of Sisko, Dax, and Bashir. While Sisko appears somewhat disturbed by this, Dax and Bashir remain expressionless.

The murder of Vantika

While Vantika's biological body died at the beginning of the episode, there has been substantial evidence throughout the episode that his consciousness remains alive in this status chamber. Should we not then consider this the cold-blooded murder of a prisoner in custody? That the only reaction is a relatively minor reaction from Sisko is perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the episode, especially when we consider Dax's situation.

As a joined Trill, Dax has relevant experience: after the biological death of the host, the memories and experiences are transferred at the next Trill joining. While in the case of Trills, this is a symbiotic joining, while with Bashir and Vantika, we see a very forceful control being exerted.

In the end, I'm not sure what is more concerning: that the main cast doesn't see this action as an issue, or that the writers themselves didn't consider this worth discussing further, especially as so much time in TNG was spent determining whether Data was an autonomous being worthy of rights and freedoms, or whether he was merely "property".

The Passenger first aired February 21, 1993. Teleplay by Morgan Gendel, Robert Hewitt Wolfe, and Michael Piller. Story by Morgan Gendel. Directed by Paul Lynch.

Star Trek: DS9 Reviews: Past Prologue

Where Emissary focused on developing the character of Benjamin Sisko, the second episode spreads things out a bit. In Past Prologue, we get to see a great deal more of Major Kira in this episode, as well as have Dr. Bashir meet the sole remaining Cardassian on the station, Garak, a clothier by trade, as well as a potential spy. The theme of the episode is that of divided loyalties. Who do you place your faith in, who do you really trust?

Garak and Bashir

Garak and Bashir

When I first announced that I was going to be watching and reviewing Deep Space Nine, the reaction was pretty immediate: Garak is a real fan favourite. As I started to watch this episode, I was quick to remember why.

The opening dialogue between Bashir and Garak is a great piece of characterization. Once again, Bashir comes across as rather lacking in social graces, although we can see how he's trying desperately to come up with small talk. For his part, Garak acts the part of a skilled diplomat, smoothing over Bashir's confusion. Garak's dialogue is exceptionally crafted, playing upon multiple layers of ambiguity. Nothing is as it seems, which is exactly the point. When he calls himself "plain, simple Garak," the viewer knows that he is anything but a plain, simple character. When Garak "makes contact" with Bashir, we start one of the great friendships in the series.

Of particular note is that when Bashir heads to Ops to gleefully report this "contact" to others, including Miles O'Brien, he is essentially ignored by O'Brien, aside from rolled eyes. The O'Brien/Bashir friendship is one of the greatest in the series, and it pretty much falls flat at the beginning. Just as Garak and Bashir make unlikely friends, so too do O'Brien and Bashir.

As tactless and naïve as Bashir is in this episode, his enthusiasm is infectious. I still didn't get much of a feel of depth to his character in this episode, yet. 

Kira's Loyalty

The major part of the episode explores Major Kira's loyalties to Bajor, and the checkered past of the Bajoran resistance to Cardassian rule. As the liaison officer to the Bajoran Provisional Government, Kira's loyalty is not to Starfleet, as she has made abundantly clear. In this episode, her past loyalty to Bajoran freedom fighters such as Tahna Los is tested against her new position. This quickly becomes a moral dilemma for Kira, as she discovers that her old friend is planning further terrorist attacks against the station and the wormhole.

Kira turns to Odo for advice, revealing a deep, existing friendship between the two. She really opens up at this point, admitting her uncertainty about where her loyalties lie. Odo's enigmatic reply is that "the only important thing is not to betray yourself." Eventually, Kira turns to Sisko, revealing what she knows about Tahna's plans. In rejecting her friend, Kira chooses a society where Bajor can take participate on an equal footing with other galactic powers. Kira wants Bajor to be progressive, she wants to reconcile splinter groups, and help her people heal. Most importantly, Kira recognizes that their best chance to do so involves continued cooperation with the Federation.

One of the big takeaways from this episode is that Kira will really go to bat for a cause that aligns with her plan for Bajor. She will navigate any bureaucracy needed, and will quite forcefully argue for a cause she believes in.

Bajor for Bajorans

This is our first look at how different sections of Bajoran society have responded to the Cardassian occupation and withdrawal of Bajor. The wormhole's existence raises Bajor's importance in the quadrant, making an isolationist position more difficult to accept. Tahna Los represents the first of those who is fighting for independence from all outside influence.

Kira speaks passionately about Bajor becoming a power in their own right, although she admits that it won't happen overnight.

DS9 Ops

It was nice to see the writers and director using the raised command platform in DS9 Ops so effectively in this episode, when Kira thanks Sisko for his help in arranging amnesty for Tahna Los and other members of the Kohn-Ma. Curtly, he reminds her to remember that the next time she is insubordinate and goes over his head to Starfleet. With the camera angle, the viewer is looking up past Kira to Sisko in a position of power. It's a simple camera trick to emphasize power differences, but it's quite effective nonetheless. This power dynamic feeds into our understanding of Cardassian architecture, as noted in the previous episode.

Klingon Involvement

This is the first of many episodes which bring the Klingons into play. While the presence of the Duras sisters Lursa and B'Etor in this episode give some insight into the current state of the Klingon Empire, their role in the episode is relatively minor. This is a follow-up to the events from the TNG episodes Redemption and Redemption II, which saw civil war in the Klingon Empire, led by the House of Duras.

Their appearance in DS9 is another contextual link to TNG, without requiring a member of the main cast. It also widens the scope of the show, from dealing with the Cardassians and Bajorans, to a larger stage.

Past Prologue first aired January 10th, 1993. Written by Katharyn Powers. Directed by Winrich Kolbe.