The Great Star Trek DS9 Rewatch: Hippocratic Oath

When Bashir and O’Brien crash land on a planet in the Gamma Quadrant, they are taken prisoner by the Jem’Hadar. But this is no standard Dominion battalion, for these Jem’Hadar are deserters. Their leader is no longer addicted to ketracel white, the drug the Dominion uses to control their soldiers, and he insists that Bashir helps to cure his men of their addiction. Bashir is keen to help the Jem’Hadar, but O’Brien objects to aiding the enemy. Meanwhile, Worf clashes with Odo over security on the station.

As often happens with Star Trek, Hippocratic Oath is a decent story which suffers a little for being compressed into the space of a single episode. The episode starts with the Bashir/O’Brien bromance as strong as ever – in fact, O’Brien arguably prefers the company of his friend to that of his wife. But the pair are soon dropped into a situation which will test the limits of their friendship. Bashir is the Starfleet idealist, a pacifist who only wants to help people, and believes that a solution can be found to any problem, if you just apply enough science. O’Brien is the veteran soldier and everyman – he doesn’t trust the Jem’Hadar, and doesn’t believe in prioritising helping them over ensuring they both escape.

The sad fact is, we are well aware that if Bashir could find a cure for the Jem’Hadar’s drug addiction, it could very well change the balance of power within the Dominion, and stop them being a threat to the Federation. But in the short-term, O’Brien is right – their lives are in danger from a risky venture, and a deserted planet is no place to research such a complicated problem. O’Brien’s choice to disobey orders might disrupt their friendship for a week or so, but we know they’ll be best friends again soon enough.

Meanwhile, Worf is seen to be having difficulties adjusting to his new role on a different series. As the characters themselves conclude, life on the Enterprise was morally very black and white, and even the difficult choices Picard occasionally had to make were externally imposed. At the end of the day, the Federation was good and right, and things usually worked out for the best. On DS9, there are moral grey areas all around, and charging in trying to right every wrong can often miss out the bigger picture.

Other points

  • Gowron remains the king of bullshit and taking credit for things, as he has apparently declared his attack on Cardassia to have been a victory.
  • What would have happened if the smuggler decided to pick up and investigate an individual bar of Odo-latinum? It would have turned into liquid and given the game away!
  • The Jem’Hadar consider engineers and security officers to be high priority targets, whilst science and medical officers are low priority.
  • I believe this is the first time the drug that the Jem’Hadar are addicted to is referred to by the name of ketracel white. We saw it quite extensively in The Abandoned, but didn’t know what it was called.
  • The Federation is in a state of heightened tension with the Dominion – why are runabouts still doing surveys in the Gamma Quadrant?

Summary – Hippocratic Oath: Even bromances can be tested.

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