The Great Star Trek DS9 Rewatch: Life Support

When a Bajoran transport explodes, Vedek Bareil is badly injured. Bashir is just barely able to save him, but there’s no time for Bareil to rest and recover. He and Kai Winn have been negotiating a peace treaty between Bajor and Cardassia, and they are determined to conclude the negotiations as soon as possible. All Bashir can do is try to keep Bareil alive – by any means necessary.

Whilst I can appreciate the effort put into this episode, and the emotions the writers were trying to invoke, I’m not sure I’m a fan. Kai Winn is portrayed as weak and useless when she doesn’t have a man to help her out, Bareil is as wooden as ever, and the Jake/Nog subplot hasn’t really stood the test of time. On a personal note, it’s also uncomfortably reminiscent of my grandmother’s last days, spent unconscious in a hospital, never to awaken.

We need Bareil

  • Does Kai Winn really have the authority to negotiate a peace treaty on behalf of Bajor? What about the provisional government? I guess the Bajorans have never been big on separating church and state – quite the opposite.
  • Having Bareil as a single point of failure in the negotiations was bad strategy. At least have him record what he had already discussed – maybe no one else could easily duplicate his relationship with the Cardassians, but they could at least understand the work that had already been done. I guess that was Winn’s responsibility, but she was just willing to coast.
  • Throughout TNG, it was impressed upon us how amazing Data’s positronic brain is, and how difficult it is to make one – yet here, Bashir is easily able to replace half of Bareil’s brain with positronic implants, and implies it would be feasible – if not desirable – to do the same for the other half.
  • Conversely, in TNG, Dr Crusher told us the brain had been fully charted, but here Bashir says that the brain is still not well understood.
  • Bashir refers to Bareil’s humanity, and the two Bajorans in the room do not point out that Bareil is not at all human. Maybe the universal translator was at work there – I’m human, so I heard “humanity”. A Bajoran would hear “Bajoranity”.
  • No one seems to pick up on the fact that, if they had agreed to turn over all items of Cardassian origin to the Cardassians, that would have included DS9 itself.
  • I’m torn between the message that we should respect Ferengi beliefs and customs, and the fact that doing so means we have to accept their misogynistic treatment of women.

Summary – Life Support: Bye-bye, Bareil.

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