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Doctor Bashir, I Presume

Production no.: 514
Teleplay by: Ronald D. Moore
Story by: Jimmy Diggs
Directed by: David Livingston
Stardate: not given 
First satellite airdate: February 22, 1997
Brian George ..................
Max Grodénchik .............
Chase Masterson ............
Fadwa El Guindi .............
J. Patrick McCormack ....
Robert Picardo ...............
Richard Bashir
Amsha Bashir
Rear Admiral Bennett

At Quark's, Rom looks longingly across the bar at Leeta as she presides over another game of Dabo. He tells his brother that today's the day. When Leeta goes on her break and comes over to say hi, he'll ask her out. But when Quark gives him a dry run, Rom loses his nerve and fumbles his way through his request. He claims he can do better. However, when Leeta comes over on schedule, says hi to Rom, and waits expectantly, all Rom can say is, "Hello, Leeta...'Bye." He flees. Leeta is disappointed. "I must be doing something wrong." Quark suggests (lying through his teeth) that Rom may not be interested in her.

Over in the corner, Bashir and O'Brien are playing darts; O'Brien is winning. The conversation turns toward having children, and O'Brien suggests that Bashir should give it a try someday. "I'm not exactly the family type," Bashir demurs. Just then a voice behind them says, "Doctor Bashir, I presume?" They turn to see a man in a Starfleet engineering uniform standing there. "That's me," Bashir says. The man looks at him. "I'm Louis Zimmerman, Director of Holographic Imaging and Programming at the Jupiter Research Station. And I'm here to make you immortal."

Zimmerman (who has a certain arrogant attitude) explains to Sisko why he's here, with Bashir standing nearby. He is the creator of the Emergency Medical Hologram, designed to supplement doctors during emergencies. (DS9 has no EMH due to incompatible Cardassian equipment.) Now Starfleet has assigned Zimmerman to create a program designed to actually operate as a full-time doctor in places where life support or living space is at a premium and the mission does not require the doctor to leave sickbay. And Bashir has been selected to provide the living template for this Longterm Medical Hologram.

"It is quite a feather in my cap," Bashir admits, obviously not knowing whether to be flattered or embarrassed. "It is nothing less than a shot at immortality," declares Zimmerman, who begins reeling off his requirements. Sisko assures him they'll be taken care of, and congratulates Bashir. "I know I speak for everyone on the station when I say we're really very proud of you."

O'Brien rigs up some holo-projectors in the infirmary as Bashir fills out a long and extremely detailed questionnaire. Zimmerman explains that the LMH has to be able to interact naturally with the patients, and therefore, he needs to know all of Bashir's personal likes and dislikes, down to his eating preferences at various ages during his childhood. "Think of it, Julian," O'Brien puts in. "If this things works, you'll be able to irritate hundreds of people you've never even met." Zimmerman asks them to suspend their banter so he can begin optical parameter scans. "Just stand there and look like a doctor...if you can."

That night, Bashir and Zimmerman look down at Leeta as she's running her Dabo table. Zimmerman is fascinated, and even more so when Bashir tells him she's his ex-girlfriend. Just then, Leeta looks up at Zimmerman and smiles. His heart going pitter-pat, Zimmerman says he'll have to add her name to the list of interviews. He tells Bashir that he'll be conducting in-depth interviews with Bashir's friends, colleagues, and family members in order to build a rounded psychological profile for the LMH. Bashir tries to hide his sudden concern. "I wonder if you'd do me a favor and consider not interviewing my parents." When Zimmerman, surprised by the odd request, asks why, Bashir explains, "To be blunt, um, we're not close. We haven't been for many years. And I would consider it a personal favor if you would sort of leave my parents out of it." Zimmerman assures him that he understands. But when Bashir leaves, the engineer promptly makes an entry on his PADD. "Note: Contact subject's parents immediately."

Later, Zimmerman activates his first version of the Bashir-model LMH, which Bashir inspects. He thinks it looks about right except for the eyes; they lack "that zest for life that greets me in the mirror every morning." "This is a test run. I can assure you that the final product will be 'zesty'," Zimmerman tells him dryly. He activates his EMH (modeled on himself, with a very similar personality) in order to load in the basic database and software of the original program. The EMH is a little concerned by the prospect of being replaced, especially by the holo-Bashir. "He doesn't even look old enough to be a doctor." The proto-LMH speaks up. "If you'd like my advice, you should delete this program. Now that I'm here, why would you need an archaic piece of software like him?"

The holographic repartee ends when Zimmerman deactivates the EMH. The next job is to build a new set of algorithms based on Bashir's "scintillating personality" as Zimmerman sarcastically puts it. "I hope you're more interesting than you seem," the holo-Bashir tells his original. "I'd hate to be boring." "There may be no preventing that," Zimmerman says. "But we'll see what his friends have to say."

The interviews begin, with Zimmerman asking Bashir's colleagues and friends questions about their impressions of their chief medical officer. One by one, they all speak of Bashir's youthful eagerness and ambition, his occasional tendency to run off at the mouth, his early pursuit of Dax. O'Brien praises him quite warmly (after being assured that Bashir won't read the interview). Morn is included, but can't seem to think of anything to say. When Zimmerman comes to Leeta, however, he concludes by asking her to dinner.

Rom happens to see them eating and talking that night at Quark's, and can't resist tuning his hearing to eavesdrop on what they're saying. There's a definite flirtatious tension going on at that table. Dismayed, Rom heads up to the table and asks to speak with Leeta. "It's very important." Leeta excuses herself to step aside with him. She waits for Rom's message with eagerness that goes over Rom's head as the Ferengi loses his courage. "I want to ask you if...I want to...I...uh...I wanted to ask...if tomorrow morning would be a good time for me to fix your replicator." Disappointed again, Leeta says that would be fine, and goes back to the table, not seeing Rom's dejected expression.

Bashir is in Sisko's office when Dax comes in, smiling. "I'm sorry to interrupt, sir, but there are a couple of visitors here looking for Julian. And I thought he might want to see them right away." She waves in a middle-aged human couple who smile happily at Bashir; Bashir looks shocked. "Oh, my God." "Hello, Jules," the woman says. Slowly, as if trapped in a bad dream, Bashir introduces them to Sisko. They are Richard and Amsha Bashir, his parents.

As Sisko and Dax chat with them, plainly tickled to meet Bashir's parents, the only one who doesn't seem thrilled is Bashir. Richard says that right now he's involved in landscape architecture. "I love the idea of working on projects that thousands of people will enjoy long after I'm gone. They're my legacy, my gift to succeeding generations. Aside from Jules here, of course." Bashir's level of tension only rises as they talk about him. His mother, a bit more sensitive to his mood, finally suggests that they save it for another time. Bashir is not pleased to learn that they came here in response to an "urgent" request from Zimmerman. He can't get them out of the room fast enough.

Bashir goes down to the infirmary to confront Zimmerman, who is unapologetic. "Like it or not, they're an important part of your background, and I need to interview them." Bashir fumes, but can do nothing about it.

Leeta is wrapped in a towel, having just showered, when she answers the door to find Zimmerman there, holding a bouquet. As she's changing in the other room, he tells her that the manager of the cafe at Jupiter station is quitting, and they need a new person. He has already spoken with the commanding officer; the job is Leeta's if she wants it. Leeta is so surprised that she steps back into her living room for a moment, naked. Zimmerman has a hard time keeping his composure.

Finally dressed, Leeta is overwhelmed by the offer. She's never run a business, barely knows how to tend bar, and doesn't know anyone there. Zimmerman suggests that she could stay with him. "Given time, you might begin to feel more. Just as I do. Besides, you said you liked cerebral men, and at the risk of sounding immodest, I have a towering intellect. Come with me, Leeta. Please. I promise you won't regret it. I know I won't." He graciously tells her to take all the time she needs to think about it.

Bashir, of course, is obligated to have dinner with his parents. It's a very tense meal, with Amsha trying to ease the strain a bit, but not having much success as Bashir reminds his father how he was terminated from a previous job as steward on a passenger transport, and Richard recalls with a slight edge how Julian chose "frontier medicine" over research on Earth. Amsha changes the subject, asking about the interviews. Bashir tells her that Zimmerman is building a complete psychological profile of him. "He's going to be asking you all sorts of questions. Try to keep your answers as brief and to the point as you can. You don't want to give him any openings to probe into any awkward areas...Try not to take this too lightly. He's going to be asking detailed questions about my childhood, and if you're not careful -- "

Richard's temper flares at the suggestion that they're "going to slip up, say the wrong thing, get us all in trouble." "Look, I've got a lot at stake here," Bashir retorts. "My whole career could be destroyed if Zimmerman gets wind of our little secret." His father doesn't take kindly to that. He and Amsha could go to prison. Bashir retorts that that's why he wants them to take this seriously. "Oh, so now we're not taking it seriously," Richard exclaims. "We're not as bright as he is. We don't have your gifted intellect, so we can't see the perfectly obvious."

That's it for Bashir. He gets up. "This is exactly why I haven't been home in three years." He leaves the quarters, his father's accusation that he can't stand being in the same room with them ringing in his ears. Alone in the corridor, Bashir slumps down against the wall, his head in his hands.

Leeta gives Rom the news about the job offer, and that she hasn't made up her mind yet. It's another opportunity for Rom to say what's in his heart, but he can't. "If I had a reason to stay, I'd stay," Leeta hints. "Do I have a reason to stay?" Rom struggles with it. "I...I don't know," he says at last. Leeta takes it the wrong way. "Is that all you can say?...Thanks, Rom, you've been a big help." Rom sadly watches her go. "You're welcome," he says to himself, heartbroken.

Bashir is standing in the middle of the surgery when his parents come in. Amsha tells him that his father has something he wants to say. "It's a stressful time for all of us," Richard begins, "and maybe I said some things I shouldn't have." For some reason, Bashir seems confused, but his parents press on. They would never do anything to jeopardize his career. "I give you my word," Richard continues, "that at no time in our interview with Dr. Zimmerman will we ever mention or even hint at the fact that you were genetically enhanced as a child."

"Jules, you can trust us," Amsha adds. "Your father and I have kept the secret of your DNA resequencing for almost twenty-five years, and we're not going to let it out now." Richard puts in, "But I would just add that, despite what the authorities would like us to believe, genetic engineering is nothing to be ashamed of. You're not any less human than anyone else. In fact, you're a little more." Amsha pleads for them all to just try to get through this. Bashir just looks at them and says, "All right." After they leave, O'Brien and Zimmerman enter from the adjacent room with shocked looks on their faces. "Who were those people?" the holo-Bashir asks.

The first reaction of the real Bashir when O'Brien tells him what happened is anger, that they "set up" his parents to make fools of themselves. O'Brien protests that they just walked in while the program was running, and Zimmerman thought it would be a good test. "Look, I'm sorry about this. I wish it had never happened, but it has, and now we've got a problem...Julian, Zimmerman's going to file a report saying that Dr. Bashir is unsuitable for computer modeling because of his suspected genetically enhanced background. Do you know what's going to happen when that report gets back to Starfleet Medical?" That stops Bashir cold in his tracks. He knows very well what will happen. "There's going to be a formal investigation, which will lead to my eventual dismissal from the service."

O'Brien stares at him. "Then it's true? You're -- " "The word you're looking for," Bashir says calmly, "is 'unnatural', meaning 'not from nature.' 'Freak' or 'monster' would also be acceptable." He sits down heavily and begins telling O'Brien a story he has never told anyone. When he was six, he was small for his age, awkward, and lagging far behind the other children in school. "I didn't really understand what was happening. I knew that I wasn't doing as well as my classmates. There were so many concepts that they took for granted I couldn't begin to master. And I didn't know why. All I knew was that I was a great disappointment to my parents."

So, just before he turned seven, his parents took him to Adigeon Prime, where he was given a series of treatments over a two-month period. "And my entire world began to change." Bashir explains that his I.Q. hand-eye coordination, vision, stamina, reflexes, height, and weight were all artificially improved by a technique called accelerated critical neural pathway formation. "In the end, everything but my name was altered in some way." Finally, he returned with his parents to Earth, where he was enrolled in a new school using falsified records, and where he became the star pupil. "There's no stigma attached to success, Chief," Bashir says with a bitter smile. "After the treatments, I never looked back. But the truth is, I'm a fraud."

"You're not a fraud," O'Brien tells him stoutly. "I don't care how many enhancements your parents had done. Genetic recoding can't give you ambition or a personality or compassion or any of the things that make a person truly human." But Bashir points out that Starfleet Medical won't see it that way. What his parents did was illegal, and any genetically enhanced human is barred from serving in Starfleet or practicing medicine. "Once the truth comes out, I'll be cashiered from the service. It's that simple." The only thing Bashir can see to do now is to resign, before Zimmerman files his report. "It's over, Miles. I always knew this could happen. Now it has."

Rom sits miserably in Quark's, nursing a drink. "I should have told her how I felt." Quark says it's a good thing he didn't. He reminds Rom of Nog's mother, Prinadora, and the story of how Rom signed a standard five-year marriage contract with her father, but then fell in love with her and wanted to extend it. Prinadora's father used the extension to swindle Rom out of all his money. As for Prinadora, she left him and Nog behind for a richer man. "Leeta is not Prinadora," Rom exclaims. To Quark, there's no difference. "She's a female, Rom. And the one constant in the universe is, females are trouble." He offers Rom the use of a sexual holosuite program to take his mind off his problems.

After Bashir tells his parents that their cover has been blown, Richard makes plans for a legal fight, but Bashir says he doesn't want to drag this through the courts. His father insists that they come up with a new plan. "Yes, let's come up with a new plan!" Bashir says. "That's the way we do things in this family, isn't it? We don't face our problems, we come up with new plans. Don't like your job? Move on to the next one. Don't like the law? Find a way to get around it. But whatever you do, do not accept responsibility!" Richard accuses him of acting like a spoiled child. "You better grow up right now or you're going to lose everything!"

"You mean you're going to lose everything," Bashir retorts coldly. "You're going to lose your only real accomplishment in this life: me. You said before -- I'm your legacy, your proud gift to the world. Well, Father, your gift is about to be revealed as a fraud, just like you...You used to be my father. Now you're my architect. The man who designed a better son to replace the defective one he was given. Well, your design has a built-in flaw -- it's illegal." Richard lashes back that it's easy for him to judge them, but what they did was save him from a lifetime of underachievement. Bashir protests that he was six years old, and they didn't give him a chance to improve on his own. "Jules Bashir died in that hospital because you couldn't live with the shame of having a son who didn't measure up!"

Amsha defends herself and her husband. "That's not true! We were never ashamed of you! Never!" She says he doesn't know what it was like for them, or how they used to worry that his learning problems might be their fault in some way. "You can condemn us for what we did, you can say it's illegal or immoral, or whatever you want to say. But you have to understand that we didn't do it because we were ashamed, but because you were our son and we loved you." Seeing the genuine emotion in her eyes, Bashir relents, realizing that he's misjudged them for years about their reasons for doing what they did. He embraces his mother. "What do you want us to do?" she asks. Bashir tells them, "Nothing. I'm going to visit Captain Sisko in the morning. I'll explain the situation to him, and tender my Starfleet resignation...I just want to leave the station quietly."

However, when Bashir enters Sisko's office the next morning, he is surprised to find both his parents there, along with the image of Rear Admiral Bennett (courtesy of the holo-communicator). Sisko explains that Bashir's parents came to him and told him everything, and he contacted Admiral Bennett. Bennett adds that they have just now reached an agreement, one that will let Bashir retain his commission and practice medicine. "I'm going to prison," Richard tells his son. He will serve two years in a minimum security penal colony in New Zealand. Bashir is thunderstruck at first, but Bennett tells him it was his father's own suggestion.

Bashir's instinct is to protest, but his father interrupts him. "This is my decision. I'm the one who took you to Adigeon Prime, and I'm the one who should take responsibility for it." Bashir has to concede, though he wonders if two years isn't a bit harsh. "I don't think so," says Bennett. "Two hundred years ago, we tried to 'improve' the species through DNA resequencing, and what did we get for our trouble? The Eugenics Wars. For every Julian Bashir that can be created, there's a Khan Singh waiting in the wings -- a 'superhuman' whose ambition and thirst for power have been enhanced along with his intellect. The law against genetic engineering provides a firewall against such men, and it's my job to keep that firewall intact." Richard will report to Bennett's office when he arrives back on Earth. And Sisko gives Bashir some time to be alone with his parents and to absorb events.

Later, Bashir escorts his parents to the airlock and says a heartfelt goodbye to them. He even offers to come and visit Richard at the penal colony. Perhaps even more importantly, he hugs and thanks his father, who smiles and says philosophically that at least now he'll have time to work on his architecture.

Leeta and Zimmerman are about to board the same transport as the Bashirs when they're stopped by a strange sound down the corridor, getting closer. "WAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!!" It's Rom, who skids to a stop beside them. "Wait!...Leeta. Don't go." "Why not?" asks Leeta. Rom finally says it. "Because I love you. And I want you to stay."

For answer, Leeta drops her bag. It's what she's been wanting to hear. "I love you too, Rom." And she gives him a long, deep kiss, before looking up at Zimmerman. "Oh, Doctor, I'm sorry." Zimmerman smiles and tries to play the gracious loser. "No. Don't be. True love should always win. I'm happy for you. Really." Leeta attempts to make him feel better by telling him there's someone out there for him. "I don't think so," says Zimmerman. "Perhaps I'm better suited to a life of solitary research -- " Just then a beautiful alien woman passes him, boarding the transport. Zimmerman perks up and follows her. Leeta and Rom barely even notice.

Bashir and O'Brien are back playing darts, and the doctor is losing. Suddenly a thought hits O'Brien. "You haven't been letting me win, have you?...You said your hand-eye coordination had been genetically enhanced." "Well, maybe I have been letting you win, a little bit," Bashir confesses. O'Brien is insulted. He tells Bashir to "really play". In response, Bashir quickly throws three darts, which all end up in the bullseye. O'Brien looks at them, then at Bashir. He makes a decision, and firmly steers Bashir to the back of the darts area. "All right. From now on, you play from over here. I'll play from up here. If that doesn't work -- we'll try a blindfold."

  • The plotline of Zimmerman coming to DS9 to create an LMH of Bashir started as a B-story. It had been filed away until a chance conversation between Ronald Moore and Robert Picardo, who wanted to do a DS9 episode.
  • Admiral Bennett's statement that the Eugenics Wars happened 200 years ago is a script error; the TOS episode "Space Seed" established that they took place in the 1990's.
  • In early drafts, O'Brien learns that Zimmerman is deliberately sabotaging the LMH so that it won't replace his EMH. O'Brien blackmails Zimmerman to stop him from revealing Bashir's secret. This was dropped because Alexander Siddig preferred that the secret come out rather than have Bashir forced to keep hiding it for the rest of the series.
  • After it proved impossible to find an Arab-American actress to play Bashir's mother, casting director Ron Surma finally found Fadwa el Guindi, a social anthropology professor at the University of Southern California who had done some community theatre.