The Great Star Trek DS9 Rewatch: Distant Voices

When Bashir refuses to help one of Quark’s associates gets his hands on some illegal biometitic gel, the alien takes matters into his own hands, and attacks Bashir in the infirmary. Awakening to an empty, barely functioning station, Bashir must figure out what exactly is going on – because if he doesn’t, his life it at stake.

This is another solid episode, which takes what feels like a now standard idea – character gets stuck in his own head, with his friends representing different aspects of his personality, and makes a decent DS9 episode out of it. The hint at the beginning is not, as my viewing companion (back for this one episode only), Garak’s gift of a holosuite program, but Bashir’s fear of getting old – even in the 24th century, thirty is seen as a landmark age. Trapped in his own mind, with his personality and consciousness being slowly eroded by the telepathic damage, Bashir starts to age rapidly, but even as the situation becomes increasingly hopeless, he manages to pull off the kind of last minute recovery one expects from a main character.

The real Bashir

According to the Altovar presence in his mind, Bashir has given up on three ambitions in life:

  • As we know, Bashir chose medicine over his initial career choice of being a pro tennis player. Bashir claims it was because he realised he couldn’t play at a high enough standard, but Altovar claims that he gave up because he thought his parents would disapprove.
  • We’ve seen Bashir chat up women with his story of the one mistake he made on his medical finals that cost him the top mark in his class. Altovar claims that Bashir deliberately made a mistake on an easy question to avoid the pressure of graduating top of his class.
  • Altovar also claims that Bashir gave up his pursuit of Dax and settled for being just good friends with her, when a bit more effort (presumably more of the stalkery and rapey attitude he had in season one) could have resulted in a relationship between them.

I don’t believe that any of Altovar’s claims are quite true. It’s clear that Bashir has perhaps regretted or closely examined all of those choices, and perhaps wondered about the road not taken, but I don’t believe he consciously or deliberately sabotaged himself at any point.

Bashir’s personality

  • Sisko represents his professionalism and skills.
  • Kira represents his aggression.
  • O’Brien represents his doubt and disbelief, and perhaps also the healthy need to question things and think them through.
  • Dax represents confidence and sense of adventure, although she seems to express this in quite an aggressive manner.
  • Odo represents suspicion and fear.
  • Quark also seems to represent fear, with an added dose of pessimism.
  • A hot Bajoran woman presumably represents Bashir’s erotic desires.

Other points

  • Altovar is a member of the Lethean species. In mythology, drinking from the rivers of Lethe could cause forgetfulness – here, the Lethean telepathic attack starts destroying Bashir’s mind and personality.
  • Back in TNG, bio-mimetic gel was claimed to be legal in Pre-Emptive Strike, and Riker even traded some in Firstborn. Here it is classified as a restricted substance in the Federation, with prohibitions on its sale and distribution. Either this is a recent change in the law – perhaps brought about by the rise of Maquis activity – or Riker has been engaging in illegal activities. I wouldn’t put it past him.
  • Given that humans now live well into their 100s, surely forty should be the new thirty?
  • Why is Dax in charge down in sickbay? Is there not a backup doctor for a station the size of DS9?

Summary – Distant Voices: DS9 does Inside Out, twenty years before Inside Out.

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