Star Trek Deep Space Nine: The Quickening

Bashir: "There is no cure. The Dominion made sure of that. And I was so arrogant, I thought I could find one in a week."
Dax: "Maybe it was arrogant to think that, but it's even more arrogant to think there isn't a cure just because you couldn't find it."

By nature I love brevity: Maybe I'm in the minority here, because nobody ever seems to talk about this one among the great episodes of the show, but this has always been one of my favorites of all of DS9. Perhaps a little rough around the edges, especially near the end, but the characters, emotions, and message are just right.

Episodes revolving around Bashir vary dramatically. Some, like 'Our Man Bashir,' are generally beloved, while others, such as 'The Passenger,' are typically recognized as abysmal. The writers eventually began to fall into a pattern of pairing him with either O'Brien or Garak, both of which worked wonderfully for many episodes over the course of the series. What that meant, though, was that the character rarely got to shine on his own. That's a shame, because this is a perfect example of the great things you can do with Bashir.

Bashir can be easily described as an arrogant genius. All of his character's material revolves around these things, but rarely are they portrayed with such depth as it is here. Scenes like the one in which he tells Ekoria about his 'first patient,' teddy bear Kukalaka, do a wonderful job of showing his humanity underneath all the brilliance, and his struggle here is very real and relatable. What do you do when you are the only person who is good enough to do the job, and how do you react? Bashir's tendency, of course, is toward bravado and confidence, but these are the very things that he recognizes as flaws in himself. These are the very things he is trying to overcome. But in this case, Bashir's unwavering confidence in himself is the only thing keeping hope alive for people who have none.

Because of course, Bashir isn't the only one in this story. The Teplan homeward is populated with a few remarkably compelling supporting characters, each of which represents a different approach to their horrible situation.

We'll start with Epran, the typical member of the population. Epran is initially skeptical that Bashir might be able to do something about the Blight. This is indicative of the state of mind of the Teplans, who have been let down so many times before and who have lived with this disease for so long that they have lost all hope that anything can be done. It is not just the Blight that has made the Teplans' life miserable. As long as they were working to solve their problem, they were not in misery. But as soon as they began to give up, the misery really began. Life without hope is the worst part of the Teplans' situation.

This is further supported by Ekoria, a woman who refuses to live without hope, and is so much happier as a result. Ekoria, rather than give up on her life, found something to live for. She latched onto the hope that her baby gave her and refused to let go. It helps that we are made within a few scenes to care about Ekoria. She works from every angle, from Naren Shankar's script to Rene Auberjonois' direction to Ellen Wheeler's beautiful performance. I really think Ekoria makes this episode.

Last we have Trevean, the man who took it upon himself to ease his people's suffering. I see Trevean as a man who used to be just like Bashir, but has been hardened and beaten down by the drudgery of failure. But Trevean never stopped looking to help people. Even when he had given up hope, he helped them in the only way he saw: he ended their misery. It's the natural reaction of a man who has no more hope, but sees a need and is unable to sit by and do nothing. Trevean is perhaps the saddest of the supporting characters, because he is ultimately contributing to the misery of Teplan life out of a need to be useful.

The message of 'The Quickening' is wonderful, and one I support wholeheartedly. The episode comes to a close when Ekoria's baby is born Blight-free because of all of Bashir's inoculations. Ultimately, the source of hope comes not from a cure for the sickness, but a promise of new life after it. It's a brilliant way to provide a source of hope without being untrue to the story. If Bashir had found a cure and been able to save all the Teplans, it would have undermined the weight of all that had come before it. This way, the episode can give Bashir his lesson while also providing hope to the miserable Teplans. I love it.

Strange New Worlds:

The Teplan planet is located just outside Dominion space. It lies in ruins since the Jem'Hadar destroyed much of the Teplan infrastructure.

New Life and New Civilizations:

The Teplans are a species that lives in the Gamma Quadrant. They used to be technologically advanced, before the Dominion came and brought the Blight. The Blight is a disease that kills everyone who has it, most before they can have children. Its telltale symptom is a network of painful lesions all over a person's body.

Pensees:

-Rene Auberjonois felt he really came into his own as a director on this episode.

-I love the opening bit, where Quark has put his own advertisements into the station's replicators and monitors. Worf's reaction is the best.

-I mentioned Ellen Wheeler's performance earlier, but both Dylan Haggerty (Epran) and Michael Sarrazin (Trevean) also do fantastic work here.

-This is a favorite of both Alexander Siddig and Terry Farrell.

-The later stages of the Blight were done in post-production using motion-capture. This was long before mo-cap came into common use as a regular effect.

-Rene Auberjonois approached this episode from a religious standpoint, often framing Ekoria like the Virgin Mary in classic paintings.

-Ira Steven Behr originally conceived this episode with a metaphor for AIDS, but this was dropped by Naren Shankar when he wrote the script. Star Trek would later tackle the AIDS metaphor in the Enterprise episode 'Stigma.'

Quotes:

Quark's jingle: "Come to Quark's, Quark's is fun! Come right now, don't walk, run!"

Kira: "If all your little advertisements aren't purged from our systems by the time I get back from the Gamma Quadrant, I will come to Quark's, and believe me, I will have fun."

Bashir: "I thought you were a healer!"
Trevean: "I am. I take away pain."

Bashir: "The first thing I have to do is run a bio-spectral analysis on an asymptomatic individual."
Dax: "Loosely translated, that means he needs a volunteer. Great. Now, if you'd like to take a seat, the doctor will be with you in a moment. They love to keep you waiting. It makes them feel important."

Epran: "I canceled my death for you. I was really looking forward to it."

6 out of 6 Kukalakas.

--
CoramDeo got a new job climbing the walls.

No comments: