The Great Star Trek DS9 Rewatch: The Quickening

When Bashir and Dax discover a planet that was infected with a genetic disease as punishment for defying the Dominion, Bashir is determined to do something to help. Whilst the inhabitants have long since given up on anything more than palliative care and assisted suicide when the pain becomes too great, Bashir is convinced that he can find a cure. But will Bashir’s stubborn optimism really be enough to defeat this pernicious disease?

It’s interesting that season four is almost bookended by two “Bashir versus Dominion genetic engineering” episodes, each directed by Rene Auberjonois. Back in Hippocratic Oath, Bashir completely failed to find a cure, but that wasn’t the focus – it was more a study of the Jem’Hadar. Here, the focus is squarely on Bashir’s arrogant assumption that he can find a cure in a week, and the realisation that, actually, things aren’t always that simple.

We’ve already established Bashir as a brilliant and often irritatingly cocky young man, but this is not just about him as a character – it’s about Starfleet itself. Imagine yourself in Bashir’s shoes. You probably grew up reading about the exploits of Captain Kirk and the many times in which he saved the day. Not a week goes by when you don’t get a Starfleet-wide bulletin about the amazing things Picard and crew have done. Starfleet officers are amazing – there’s nothing they can’t do. And so, even though Bashir does have an amazing success against the Blight, because he didn’t cure everyone, save the world and win a Nobel Prize, it’s not enough.

Points of note

  • Quark is said to have used “some kind of encryption program to bypass the access protocols”. What does this mean? Has Quark been reverse engineering Federation encryption (not that they ever seem to use it), and if so, why aren’t they hiring him?
  • Bashir claims he needs an “asymptomatic” individual. Since everyone on the planet has some symptom of the Blight, and he then goes looking for Quickened individuals, did he really mean what he thought he meant?
  • Sisko had already told Quark he was not allowed to advertise on the station monitors way back at the end of season two.

Summary – The Quickening: “It’s even more arrogant to think there isn’t a cure just because you couldn’t find it.”

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