Saturday, April 17, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"Hippocratic Oath"

Oh, mercy. Lisa Klink wrote this episode. The screenwriter and five time Jeopardy! champion will not do her worst damage until joining the writing staff of VOY, but her trademark illogic and plot holes are evident even here.

I cannot start a review of “Hippocratic Oath” without addressing the opening sequence between Bashir and O’Brien. It is the famous bit wherein O’Brien explains Keiko is upset because he set up a workshop in the bedroom. She thinks he is yearnig for his bachelor days. Bashir tells him the move actually means he wants to be closer to her. That is exactly what O’Brien intended. He laments that Keiko does not think more like that. Like a man, that is. the sequence is played for laughs, but it got the gay slash fans in a tizzy.

But thankfully, that is not the bulk of the episode’s plot. Bashir and O’Brien’s runabout is brought down on what is supposed to be an uninhabited world. Instead there is a platoon of Jem Ha’Dar are hiding out. Their commander, Goran’Agar, was once marooned there for 35 days, during which time he discovered he was not addicted to tetracil white. He developed a sense of freedom and wants to share that with his men, but their stay on the planet has not cured the of their addiction. Goran’Agar demands Bashir research the planet to find a way to cure them all.

Bashir agrees to do so over O’Brien’s objection. Bashir feels the Hippocratic Oath requires him to help ree the Jem Ha’Dar from their addiction while O’Brien, an old warhorse, appreciates that the Founders keep them on a short leash with their drug addiction. Therein lies the typical Lisa Klink scripted moral dilemma--she can never make both sides of an argument plausible.

Goran’Agar is free of his addiction for no apparent reason. As the episode goes on, Bashir eliminates every sigle possibility regarding the environment food, and water. The only thing he can conclude is that Goran’Agar must be a mutant. If that is true, then there is no way Bashir can find a cure for the teracil white addiction given the limited resources he has on hand. Bear I mind he has already tried to find a cure I “The Abandoned” and failed. There is no way he can duplicate a beneficial genetic mutation 999% of mutations are harmful anyway) so what is the value in his determiation to find acure, especially when he has a three day deadline before they all day from tetracil white withdrawal?

It isan emotional response from Bashir. Goran’Agar expresses a desre tobe more than asoldier bred to die. He questions the godlike status of the Fouders, none of whom he has actually met. Ut here is the problem with that--how does not being addicted to tetracil white cause him to develop free will/ As Bashir discovers, his own body is producing enough of the drug naturally that he does not need regular injections. Si it is not the drug that makes Jem Ha’dar unquestionably loyal and born to fight. It is just a control mechanism. So Goran’Agar’s genetic mutation cannot be that he has broken the drug addiction ,but that he does not want to be soldier anymore.

In simplest terms, if he is still getting the drug naturally, then it is not the drug that makes Jem Ha’Dar perfect killing machines. Even if Bashir cured them all, their homicidal nature would still exist. Which is O’Brien’s argument all along. What leg debater have to stand on? If he succeeds, the Jem Ha’dar go marauding al over the galaxy like Vikings, killing everyone they meet because that is what they do. As proof, none of the other Jem Ha’Dar appear interested in altering their behavior beyond no longer having to follow the Founders’ rules.

See how Klink does not really think her moral arguments through? Wait util yo see some of the stuff she tries to pull off on VOY.

O’Brien finally disobeys orders and destroys Bashir’s makeshift workstation in order to get him to leave rather than continue looking for a way to make the Jem Ha’Dar even more dangerous and unpredictable. Bashir is angry O’Brien has condemned to Jem Ha’Dar to death. They decide to set a date to play darts anyway.

In the B-story, worf has a tough time accepting the way Odo provides security. He learns DS9 is not like federation starship. The story feels like it is thrown in because the episode run short.

Truth be told, it feels like “Hippocratic Oath” is thrown in just to have a Dominion related episode to remind us they are still a threat. It is not a terrible episode, per se, but it does not stand up to much scrutiny. Word is, the original script written by Klink had Bashir and O’Brien taking different sides in an alien conflict. Bashir sided with natives, o’Brien sided with the outsiders. Sounds Avatar-ish. Thescript was rewritten because Bashir’s motivation was not compelling. Apparently, it was not rewritten well enough, because his motivations still are not convincing.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

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