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Doctor Bashir, I Presume?

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Airdate: Week of February 24th - 28th, 1997

Written by: Ronald D. Moore (Teleplay); Jimmy Diggs (Story)

Directed by: David Livingston

Brief Summary: When Doctor Bashir is chosen to be the next holographic medical program, Doctor Lewis Zimmerman probes into his past leading to the exposure of Bashir's genetic enhancement as a child.


Last week I predicted that we'd see some excellent acting in this episode, and so we did. Alexander Siddig gave a very powerful performance, but I think the person who shined brightest was guest star Robert Picardo as Dr. Lewis Zimmerman (and the EMH). This is Picardo's second great performance in as many weeks, the other saving Voyager's Darkling. Jimmy Diggs has also been busy in dual-series writing, giving us Voyager's Rise earlier this week. David Livingston directs some powerful scenes all including Bashir, and some funny ones including Zimmerman, Rom and Leeta.

It is fitting that this episode about Bashir questioning his very person comes immediately after a two-part show in which Bashir had been replaced with a changling. In fact, the title of the episode Doctor Bashir, I Presume? implies perfectly the implications of the changling replacement and of Bashir's exploration of his character in this show. Who is Julian Bashir? Who was Jules Bashir? Are they one in the same? Who is the real Julian Bashir? These are all questions that were addressed in this episode mainly by the Doctor himself and are summed up in the first four words uttered by Lewis Zimmerman, the episode title itself.

Following in recent Deep Space Nine motif, Doctor Bashir, I Presume? combines an excellent secondary story with an excellent primary one and pulls it off convincingly. The thread between Rom and Leeta is introduced within the first scene with Quark as an added bonus. Chase Masterson again challenges the limits of cutting edge twenty-fourth century fashion with her alluring Dabo-girl wardrobe (hehe.... kudos to costuming!). I think the most development in this scene concerns the character that has the least part in it: Quark. His dialogue to Leeta towards the end reminds us that there are still certain constants in society and really reveals how much of a scoundrel Quark really is. This is dealt with slightly later when he offers Rom a holo-program, and each time it portrays Quark 'slimier' than we've ever seen him before.

I think the plot thread between Leeta and Rom was done very well, perfectly keeping with Rom's character, and showing us the anticipation in Leeta each time. This thread is tied into the 'A' story well enough, even if having nothing to do with Bashir directly. It was interesting to see such a suave Robert Picardo, something quite different from his EMH (I wonder why he didn't give the EMH that quality?). Speaking strictly from a male point of view (not intending to be offensive here), I can't believe that we [males] got to see something that perhaps has crossed many of our minds from time to time- Leeta nude. Anyway, this scene did have a purpose: convey comic relief, and demonstrate how Leeta isn't very self-conscious after working in her, ahem (clearing throat) line of work, for so long. This parallels to the earlier Quark scene I discussed above because it shows how Leeta is (or might) be used to such presentation of herself and so isn't concerned with it, thus giving us a 'slimier' view of her.

Now let's move onto the bigger picture. Lemme first comment on how perfect the casting of Julian's father was. If he wasn't British, I don't know who is! Bashir was very dark and gloomy this time around, in fact the only time he smiled was when Sisko congratulated him on the LMH selection. Usually he is a source for comic relief, with that genetically engineered sense of humor and all. But as the nature of the story called for a darker Bashir, we got one.

The interviews were done in a common yet funny manner, but what about Odo? O'Brien had the best part, praising his best friend but in a very child-like manner worrying being embarrassed about it possibly getting back to Julian.

The powerful scenes begin with the son/parents dinner. This scene really (for those not already aware of the plot twist) made ya stop and say, Huh? The next scene was HEAVILY predictable, I mean c'mon; it was so perfectly set up that there was no way for you to think it was the actual Bashir that his parents were talking to. This scene blurts out the plot turn, like handing you a boulder making you lose your balance. It was here that the entire thread of why Zimmerman was on the station and the creation of LMH program were was left behind. Obviously the story wasn't intended to be about this LMH program, but the writers just left it behind so that if it weren't for the relationship between Lewis and Leeta, Zimmermans' presence would've been irrelevant. I'm glad he didn't just disappear and they carried him through to the end.

Probably the most powerful scene in the show was between O'Brien and Bashir, mainly explaining to the audience why and how he was genetically altered. For once, one of our perfect, 'top of his class' characters is revealed as a fraud, in those senses. I'm glad to see that there is someone who isn't perfect by nature, and in fact Bashir was the opposite of his adult self by nature. Maybe this is why he intentionally missed that medical exam question back at the Academy, because he felt it would be unfair to deprive someone who didn't have a genetic advantage from the honor of being top of their class. Anybody want to comment on that idea? Anyway, Miles comforts Julian by pointing out that his true personality cannot and was not genetically engineered, but is natural in him.

The final 'powerful' scene is a confrontation between Julian and his parents. Bashir obviously resents his parents' actions, and wittingly points out the pun between his fathers' architectural career and that he [Julian] is his real project. The dramas' purpose here is really to explain that Jules Bashir no longer existed and that Julian found that fact important.

Now comes the resolution. Right as I was about to be irritated by the first 'quickie Voyager-esque' ending on DS9 in a while, I got a fan's wish list: acknowledgment of the Eugenics Wars, and of Kahn Singh (everyone's favorite villain) as an added bonus. Frankly based on Admiral Bennet's explination, I think two years in prison for Richard Bashir is rather light. I think the mentioning of the wars and Kahn fir perfectly into the story to show us why Starfleet might consider altered people like Bashir a threat, not just a gimmick. But, in the interests of feeding discussions in the new Fan Interaction Comm Link, since Doctor Bashir, I Presume? took place sometime in 2300, Bennett's 'two hundred years ago' puts the Eugenics Wars in the 2100s, the twenty first century not the twentieth. I guess they had to clean up the mess they made in Voyager's Future's End, eh?

The show ends with Rom and Leeta finally professing their mutual love and Bashir forgiving his father. How nice. But wait- we get a fantastic scene with O'Brien and Bashir. This was actually unexpected for me until Miles asked if he was really winning. After that I knew Julian would hit three bulls-eyes in a row, but somehow it didn't disparage the scene. This scene showed the friendship between the two very well, and left the door open for possible 'super-human Bashir' episodes down the road.

Now some minor observations:

- The early scene where O'Brien comments on compromising to make sure Molly doesn't feel neglected is an interesting contrast to the reality that Bashir's father was unwilling to compromise with his sons' childhood problem.

- I liked Quarks scenes in this episode, really showing off his scuzzy nature.

- How did the Bashirs get to DS9 so quickly from Earth anyway?

- I thought the scene with the two holograms was very funny, but not as funny as when the Bashir hologram told Julian he didn't want to be as boring as he [Julian] looked.

- I am very pleased with the presence of a Federation task force doing maneuvers in the space shots or being docked at DS9. This reminds us of the events of Purgatory and Inferno besides making the space shots so much more visually pleasing. By the way, how many Excelsior class ships are there, and how many more Galaxy class ships are there?

- The presence of Klingons also carries out the events of the two prior episodes. What about some Romulans?

Writing: Clever, dramatic, challenging, reminiscent, and brilliant. One of DS9's best ever, even if it didn't bring tears to my eyes like The Visitor last season. (Really, it did. BTW, I could use it on tape if someone would mail it to me).

Directing: Great drama with Bashir (my favorite character BTW), and great use of Robert Picardo's sarcastic humor.

Acting: Alexander Siddig's most dreary performance, yet excellent. Robert Picardo almost steals the show (like he does in Voyager), but Chase Masterson cannot be denied.

Overall Verdict: A compelling story that dares to step out on a limb, flawing a main character.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

...he needs a woman with a body and brains.

I have brains.

Sure ya do honey, that's why I hired you. Now, eat up, and then take those brains back over to the dabo wheel where the customers can get a good long look at them.

-Quark to Leeta on her vocation

Next Week: ...Nor the Battle to the Strong was great the first time, see it again!

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