Monday, September 23, 2013

Deep Space Nine, Season 4: Hippocratic Oath

Deep Space Nine, Season 4
"Hippocratic Oath"
October 16, 1995
73 of 173 produced
74 of 173 aired


Bashir and O'Brien crash land on a planet in the Gamma Quadrant where they find a group of Jem'Hadar trying to break their addiction to ketracel white. Meanwhile on the station, Worf finds adjusting to life on DS9 more difficult than he planned.

How many more of these little pleasure cruises are they going to send us on? (PS: Split Diopter!)


Kevin: I like the idea of this episode. We get a deeper look at the Jem'Hadar and we get a deeper look at Bashir and O'Brien's friendship. I'll start with the Jem'Hadar story. I like that they are exploring what the actual impact of using drugs to control your army would take. In "The Abandoned," several people expressed the idea that Jem'Hadar are less than sentient because of their genetically engineered status. Here, we see that it is not so simple. Like the Borg before them, part of any extreme tactics used to stop the Dominion are going to be based on the perception that the Jem'Hadar are not people, and their apparent desire to be free of addiction shows that they are, at least to some extent. I like that Bashir takes the position that you would expect a Federation doctor to take, like Doctor Crusher did with the Borg in "I, Borg." I also liked that O'Brien disagreed, and that the disagreement did not come off as two-dimensionally racist. Anytime O'Brien gets to be less than his normally jovial self, it's good for an episode. He (not entirely unreasonably) thinks that the Jem'Hadar free of Dominion control might actually be more dangerous, not the least for the two of them. The final scene in the runabout was really good for me. Bashir is hurt, both because he views the Jem'Hadar deaths as senseless and the O'Brien didn't trust his judgment. I like that their friendship is not permanently fractured, but neither is there a laugh to the credits. It felt like a very adult approach to relationships and the ups and downs they all have.

Matthew: The "I, Borg" similarities are pretty pronounced. What makes it less than a boring retread is the fact that they play out against the backdrop of the Bashir/O'Brien friendship. That's what makes the conflict remain interesting when the ethical questions have already been asked and answered by the franchise. If anything, it's a version of the question with fewer teeth, because it's not a weapon of mass destruction, but merely a prohibition against helping in any way. I agree on the final scene, too. It would have been pretty lame had the consequences to the friendship been unremarked upon. I like the sort of detente they struck.

Kevin: The B-plot of Worf adjusting to life on DS9 is also good, if a tad unrelated to the A-plot. It's a good story to tell, and it helps build the character into the show. I love Sisko's speech about Quark at the end of the episode. I like that the characters are aware of the more morally gray world they inhabit. It rehabilitates Sisko's less than subtle racism against Quark earlier in the series for him to acknowledge that Quark has a code and that he lives by it scrupulously. It's actually a nice manifestation of Federation ideals. The solution is not to be "bubbly and cloying" until Quark gets on board with Federation values, but actually find a way for both systems to interact and coexist.

Matthew: With the exception of an already established insight into the relationship Quark has with DS9 (he has his own moral code, but on balance his presence is probably for the good), this plot pretty much did nothing for me. It took time away from a more interesting A plot. It only really makes Worf look like kind of a twerp who doesn't respect his coworkers. At the same time, it doesn't even really give Odo the redemption of showing the wisdom of his approach to Quark. Was Quark in on the sting? It wasn't established. Doesn't Quark have monitors on his bar? How could Worf just sit there for hours undetected? Meh.

Kevin: I suppose if I have a complaint, it's that episode isn't terribly "gripping," is it? It's a solid outing and everything is good, but I can't quite articulate if it's a pacing problem or what, but I find that I rarely rewatch this episode. Maybe it just lacks some energy or the lack of connection between the A and B plots keeps the episode from completely gelling.

Matthew: I definitely agree with this. In addition to the A-B dichotomy, I found the setup to be a bit on the lame side. How many times is a Bashir-O'Brien shuttle mission going to result in hijinks and misadventures?


Kevin: We can safely say that long gone is condescending Bashir. Siddig goes a good job showing empathy for the Jem'Hadar and his naivete that everything will work out reads as realisitic, not annoying. Like I said, any time we get to see serious O'Brien, it's a good time. Scott MacDonald is a really good character actor. He obviously gets cast is certain roles for his physical presence, but he never fails to imbue them with some depth. Tosk and Nevek were great, and Goran'Agar is no exception.

Matthew: This is definitely in the top one or two Bashir episodes thus far for Alexander Siddig (I will now acknowledge the name change, since it's in the credits for Season 4). I wonder if it is him growing into the role, the writers playing to his strengths, or both. Either way, Siddig is much better at underplaying a moment such that we look for the complexity, rather than beating us over the head with acting choices (or pirate voices). I very much agree on MacDonald. This was even better than Tosk, because it was written with more depth. I was actually interested in Goran'Agar, which is really saying something for a race that has been written as quite a bit less than interesting (as individuals) so far.

Kevin: Dorn does a good job with the slightly fish out of water story. He plays well off of all the main cast. The remaining cast was not necessarily challenged, but everyone was certianly fine. I really liked Sisko in the final scene with Worf.

Matthew: Meh. Dorn was so-so here. I couldn't tell if his annoyance was part of the acting, or if it was Dorn being annoyed by such a lame script.

Production Values

Kevin: The jungle set was clearly a soundstage, and I think the caves are a reuse from Paradise which are a reuse from...everything. Nothing was bad per se, but it was pretty clearly a set. The innards of the runabout and Bashir's medical equipment were good props.

Matthew: Soundstage or no, I liked the look of the jungle, the crashed runabout, and the Jem'Hadar camp.

Kevin: My only other note is I liked the Jem'Hadar makeup. It's so heavy that I imagine it's really easy for it to all read as same-y, but all the Jem'Hadar, certainly the speaking parts had very distinctive looks.

Matthew: It's really a credit to Westmore that so many heavy appliances can look both different and related, and that he allows the actors to still project tons of personality through them.


Kevin: This is a 3. The ideas are interesting, and the execution sound. The impact on the Bashir/O'Brien relationship is well-portrayed and interesting. The episode doesn't really get above being "good," but that's not an insult. So far season 4 is off to a solid start.

Matthew: I'm with you on the 3. This was an above average episode stitched together with a rather pointless one. It averages out to blandly decent. That makes a 6 total. 

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