The Great Star Trek DS9 Rewatch: Extreme Measures

When Bashir realises he is running out of time to find a cure for Odo, he and O’Brien are forced to devise an alternative plan. Having discovered that Section 31 is likely responsible for the Changeling disease, they lure Sloan to the station, in the hopes that a Romulan memory probe will be able to extract knowledge of a cure. But when Sloan attempts to commit suicide, Bashir and O’Brien have a mere 43 minutes to enter his mind and extract the information they need.

Extreme Measures is probably the darkest episode of DS9, and it’s certainly one that makes me feel uncomfortable. Compared to the upstanding crew of the Enterprise-D, the DS9 characters have already done some morally questionable things, but this episode takes it to the titular extreme by having Bashir and O’Brien essentially mind-rape Sloan to find a cure for the Changeling disease. Yes, it’s for a good cause, but doesn’t every monster think their actions are similarly justified?

If you can put aside your discomfort at the premise, then at its heart, this is the final Bashir/O’Brien adventure, with a standard “have they woken up yet?” style dream setting. On this level, it’s reasonably entertaining – Inception before Inception was a thing, if you will.

Points of Note

  • Did Sloan really have to have knowledge of the cure in order to be able to identify it? What if Bashir had come up with a completely different treatment that nonetheless still worked? Sloan could have sent an underling in with instructions to delete all recently modified files, or to remove anything titled “Odo – Changeling cure”, and not risked himself.
  • Similarly, it’s fortunate that there even was such a simple cure – who’s to say that Section 31 would know what the cure was? Surely they were more concerned with creating something deadly than with knowing how to counteract it. Having access to their work would have helped Bashir develop a cure, but there’s no guarantee that such a cure already existed.
  • In the last few episodes, we’ve seen both Odo and the Female Changeling give samples of themselves for research. Given that we don’t know where a Changeling’s brain or consciousness really resides, are these detached samples still sentient and conscious in some way? Or have they been severed from the whole, and now lack any sense in which they are still ‘alive’? For that matter, can a Changeling split into two or more sub-bodies, or must they always be a single connected object?
  • Bashir claims that it was easy enough to break into Quark’s and play darts. Way back in Family Business, Bashir and O’Brien tried and failed to break in to retrieve their dartboard whilst Quark was away. Were they stymied by the stronger lock used for an extended absence, or was Bashir just ‘playing dumb’ because his genetic enhancements had yet to be revealed?
  • When Bashir and O’Brien enter Sloan’s mind, O’Brien calls Bashir “Jules”. This was Bashir’s childhood nickname – up until now, only his parents have ever used it.
  • “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” from A Tale of Two Cities is also used in Earth:Final Conflict to reveal that a character is stuck in a simulation. When Lili Marquette goes to read the book, she discovers that the entire volume is filled with this line – the only part she knows.
  • The Romulan mind probes were previously seen in Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges, when the Romulans tried and failed to use them on Bashir.
  • Jaresh-Inyo has now finished serving his term as Federation President.
  • Odo recalls that Kira watched her previous boyfriend Bareil die, as seen at the end of Life Support.
  • Bashir tries to get O’Brien to admit that he prefers the company of the good doctor to that of his own wife.
  • Why is Keiko keeping dinner warm for O’Brien when he can just replicate whatever he wants to eat when he eventually gets home?
  • Similarly, in the previous episode, Kira was unimpressed with replicated food. Surely it doesn’t taste that bad? Given that Kira spent most of her early life starving, one might expect her to be less fussy about food. Maybe it’s homegrown Bajoran produce or nothing for Kira.
  • I hope Bashir and O’Brien paid Quark for that scotch they took from the bar.

Summary – Extreme Measures: In which Bashir and O’Brien take a jolly inside the mind of a dying man.

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