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Life Support


Production no.: 459
Teleplay by: Ronald D. Moore
Story by: Christian Ford & Roger Soffer
Directed by: Reza Badiyi
Stardate: 48498.4 
First satellite airdate: January 28, 1995
 
Philip Anglim ........
Aron Eisenberg ....
Lark Voorhies ......
Ann Gillespie ........
Andrew Prine .......
Louise Fletcher .....
Eva Loseth ...........
Kevin Carr ...........
Bareil
Nog
Leanne
Jabara
Legate Turrel
Kai Winn
Riska
Bajoran


Jake is walking along the Promenade when a teenage girl, a friend of his named Leanne, calls to him. She has broken up with her boyfriend, and wonders if Jake is doing anything tomorrow night. Jake says he was supposed to play dom-jot with Nog -- but, being no fool, adds that he was thinking of canceling. They make a date together.

Odo, O'Brien, and two deputies run past Jake, to an airlock, where they are met by Bashir and a nurse. A Bajoran transport is coming in; there's been an accident aboard, with casualties. They couldn't beam the wounded directly to the infirmary because of radiation from a loose plasma coil. The ship docks, and the injured are helped out onto the station. One of the passengers is Kai Winn, who urges them to take care of the Vedek. Just then, the most badly injured victim is carried out. It's Vedek Bareil. Odo calls Kira to meet them in the infirmary.

Kai Winn seems to be largely unhurt, but Bareil is hanging by a thread. Bashir determines that he has severe cerebral edema with damage to the cerebral artery and the neuroglial network. He and his nurse prepare him for surgery. Meanwhile, O'Brien has a report on the transport: there was a molecular fracture in one of the warp plasma conduits that gave way, and the entire relay system exploded. Winn asks if it was sabotage; O'Brien doesn't think so. When Kira asks why Winn would think that, Winn says she would prefer to discuss it with the Emissary in private.

Bashir is working feverishly to save Bareil's life as Sisko and Winn talk. Winn says she and Bareil were on their way to a secret meeting with a member of the Cardassian Central Command, to open talks between Bajor and Cardassia that will lead to a treaty and a final peace settlement. "The Prophets teach us that while violence may keep an enemy at bay, only peace can make him a friend." Bareil has been working for months to set up the meeting with Legate Turrel. Sisko can't help but look at Winn in a new light. "Please don't take this the wrong way, but I never would have guessed that you would be the one to bring such a bold vision of peace to Bajor." With what seems like genuine humility, Winn says the credit largely belongs to Bareil. "I must admit, he has been a loyal and trustworthy aide since the election. I'm not sure I could have been as forgiving had I been in his place. These talks were Bareil's idea. He's guided me through them. And without him in the future, these talks may never resume."

Kira is pacing in the infirmary when Bashir emerges from surgery. The look on his face tells her the news before he says a word. "I'm sorry. The radiation severely damaged his neural pathways. I did everything I could." Bareil never regained consciousness. Kira takes it stoically, and says she's on duty in Ops. "Kira, I think they can get along without you in Ops today," Bashir says, but she is adamant. "Maybe. But I need to be there. I appreciate your concern, but I'll grieve in my own way, in my own time."

Bashir goes back to Bareil's body, which is in stasis, and begins the autopsy, starting with a neural scan. But then, as Nurse Jabara is about to take neural tissue samples, a neuron fires in the cerebral cortex. It happens agan. Bashir realizes that Bareil's nerves are still transmitting electrical impulses to his brain. He theorizes that the radiation Bareil was exposed to may have something to do with it. And if they can regenerate his pathways, it may be possible to revive him. Bashir and the nurse get to work. After long hours of surgery, and using neurogenic radiation, the work is rewarded. Bareil comes to, alive.

Bashir tells Sisko that Bareil may be back on his feet in a few weeks. "It's not every doctor that can lose a patient and then have him back on his feet in a few weeks," says Sisko, and Winn chimes in with more praise. Bareil even manages to say he is grateful. "My work here is not yet finished." Winn agrees; they must resume the negotiations immediately. She wants to send a coded message to Legate Turrel and invite him to continue the talks on DS9. Bashir objects that Bareil is in no condition to conduct negotiations, but Winn tells him Bareil will only advise her. She will conduct the actual talks. "I'll allow it as long as your visits don't tire him," Bashir says, and Winn assents. Everyone leaves Kira and Bareil alone for a moment to discuss their upcoming springball game.

Nog comes to see Jake, talking about the dom-jot game set for tomorrow night against three Terrellians who will be leaving the next day. But when Jake tells him about his date with Leanne, Nog understands. "So, what is the name of my date? I hope she's as cute as Leanne." "Your date?" asks Jake, dumfounded, the idea of a double date having never entered his mind. But Nog won't take no for an answer, and finally Jake gives in. "Just one thing, Jake," Nog says. "You're still pretty new at this dating business. Just promise me you won't do anything to embarrass me." "I'll do my best," says Jake. Nog grins. "This'll be great. Maybe I'll even wash my lobes."

Bareil is soon able to sit up in bed and argue with Winn, who reluctantly sees the wisdom of putting off discussion of returning the Orbs. Then Bashir enters, with some bad news. The neurogenic radiation that he used to revive Bareil caused a selective vaso-constriction in his arteries, resulting in inadequate blood flow to the internal organs. Bashir wants to put him back in stasis and do more research on the condition, which could take days, weeks, possibly months or even years. "I'm sorry, Doctor," says Bareil, "that's not acceptable. I can't allow myself to be put in storage when my people need me. I don't want to wake to a Bajor still haunted by the memory of the Occupation." Bashir says he realizes how important the talks are to Bajor. "But as your physician, my duty is to you first." "And I have a duty to Bajor," Bareil replies. "Please, help me heal my people. That's the only thing that matters to me."

Seeing how important this is to Bareil, Bashir says he can give him an experimental drug called vasokin that would increase the blood flow to the organs and might let him function normally for the next few days. However, in 22% of the cases on record, the drug has severely damaged some of those organs. "Why risk your life for a few days?" Bashir asks. The Vedek tells him earnestly, "I have no great desire to die, Doctor. But I am determined to carry out the will of the Prophets as long as I am able, and I cannot carry out their will if I am unconscious in some stasis tube." He asks Bashir to begin the vasokin treatments. Despite his doubts about the drug, Bashir has to carry out his patient's wishes.

Legate Turrel arrives on the station, and Sisko sits in on the talks as an impartial observer, at Bareil's suggestion. Turrel won't admit that there are still Bajoran prisoners on Cardassia, but says there are people being detained by the Justice Ministry. He also says that Cardassia will be willing to pay for the destruction of Bajoran property if Bajor returns all Cardassian equipment and property. Winn, who is not skilled in diplomacy, says she'll consider it.

She knows Turrel is up to something, she tells Sisko after the Cardassian exits. Sisko agrees, but can't be of more help without knowing the entire negotiation record of the talks. "I need Bareil," says Winn. "He's the only one who knows the entire negotiating record. Bareil has been talking with Turrel for months. He understands him, respects him. I think he even likes him." Sisko mentions the possibility that Bareil may not be able to help her much longer. As honest as she's ever been, Winn says, "I was not meant to be in a room with a Cardassian, debating legalisms and diplomatic nuances. I can't do this without Bareil. If he dies, then peace with Cardassia dies with him."

Jake and Leanne have their date with Nog and a friend of Leanne's named Riska. Unfortunately, Nog's attitude leaves much to be desired from a human standpoint. He doesn't want Riska to talk or think. "Just sit there and look beautiful," he tells her. Jake asks him, sotto voce, what he thinks he's doing. "I think I know how to handle females," Nog whispers back confidently, and orders Riska to cut up his food for him. She looks at him as if he's insane. "You must be joking." Nog laughs, and for a moment the others laugh too, thinking he has indeed been joking. "She's so dumb!" Nog says to Jake. "She's perfect!" This is the last straw for Riska, who storms off, and Leanne gets up to follow her friend. "I suppose you want me to sit here and cut your food for you, too?" she says to Jake, who is furious with Nog.

"Don't say another word, Jake," Nog says. "I think you've done enough damage for one night." "Me?!" Jake demands, incredulous. "Yeah, you. You were treating my female as if she was an equal!" "And you were behaving like an idiot. This is the last time I'll ever do a favor for you. From now on, you get your own dates." "And you can find someone else to play dom-jot with!" Nog retorts. They both walk off in opposite directions.

Kira watches with concern as Bareil, in pain, tells Winn that he already rejected the proposal of returning Cardassian property, and that Turrel will still make the reparations regardless. Seeing the difficulty her advisor is in, Winn asks Bashir to give him more of the drug, but Bashir says he's had enough. Winn protests; the doctor is adamant. "Listen to me. I don't care about your negotiations, and I don't care about your treaty. All I care about is my patient, and at the moment, he needs more treatment and less politics." He and Kira both threaten to have Winn removed if she doesn't leave willingly, and she goes after telling Bareil, "Put yourself in the hands of the Prophets, Bareil. They will not forsake you."

Bashir scans Bareil with a tricorder, and the results are not good. The vasokin has begun to damage Bareil's organs; the damage is irreversible. Bashir tells him he can replace the organs with artificial implants, but as long as Bareil takes the vasokin, the doctor can't guarantee that the damage won't spread. "I think you should reconsider letting me put you in stasis." But Bareil says, "I'm afraid my mind's made up. Just get me through the negotiations. I must carry out the will of the Prophets. Please. Whatever it takes, just do it."

In the wardroom, Winn is looking through some PADDs when Bashir enters. He tells her that he has successfully replaced Bareil's damaged organs. Now he wants Winn to tell Bareil that she doesn't need him to complete the negotiations. "But I do need him, Doctor," Winn protests. "I realize that," Bashir tells her. "But I want you to tell him that you don't...I'm asking you to free Bareil of his obligations to you. The only way he'll accept that is if you tell him he's no longer needed, that you can go on without him. Now, if that's a lie, then so be it." Winn comments that that doesn't sound like a Starfleet officer. "I'm a doctor first," Bashir points out. "And right now, I'm trying to give my patient his best chance to live. The only way to do that is to put him in stasis. Bareil knows that, but his desire to complete these negotiations is so strong that he's forcing me to keep him conscious and mentally alert, even though it may kill him." Winn counters that no one wants that to happen. "But if I'm not mistaken, the decision regarding Bareil's treatment is up to him." Bashir agrees. "Yes, as the patient, it is his right to make that choice. But I'm asking you to help me change his mind."

Bashir then takes another tack. "Eminence, you're the Kai. These are your negotiations. Let this be your moment in history. Finish the talks on your own, and you won't have to share the credit with anyone." "You say that as though success is guaranteed," Winn replies coolly, and Bashir finally realizes the real reason why she won't help him. She needs Bareil as a scapegoat in case the talks fail. "You're a coward," he tells her bluntly. "You're afraid to stand alone." Winn's cool turns cold. "Bareil's already made his decision, Doctor. I won't interfere. And Doctor -- I won't forget what you've said here." "Neither will I," says Bashir, just as coldly, and leaves the room.

At dinner with Jake, Sisko asks his son how the date went. "You should've seen the way he acted, Dad," Jake says. "He was acting like a spoiled brat. I've never been so embarrassed. I don't think Leanne will ever speak to me again." Jake describes how Nog treated Riska. Sisko comments, "Sounds like he's acting like a Ferengi to me. You can't blame him for that." "Well, in that case, maybe you were right all along," says Jake. "...You once said that humans and Ferengis are too different to ever really be friends." Sisko remembers that, but says, "I was wrong. You and Nog proved that. Sure, you have your cultural differences, but there's a real bond between you." Jake can see the point. His father suggests that they talk this over, but Jake isn't sure Nog will want to talk to him so soon. "Well," says Sisko, "I guess you'll have to do something to get his attention."

Bashir is called to the infirmary by Nurse Jabara. Bareil is screaming in agony, and the nurse doesn't know what happened. Winn is there, despite Bashir having left instructions that Bareil wasn't to have visitors. But Bareil, Winn says, had called her with some ideas on the treaty. "And you just couldn't wait to hear them, could you?" Bashir snarls. "His left temporal lobe is showing signs of massive synaptic failure. Well, I hope you got all the advice you needed, Eminence. Because the vasokin has damaged his brain, and that damage is irreversible."

Sisko meets with Bashir, Winn, and Kira in his office. Winn wonders if Bashir could replace the damaged areas of Bareil's brain as he did the other internal organs, but Bashir is dubious. He would have to replace the entire left hemisphere of Bareil's brain with positronic implants. "One of my professors at medical school used to say that the brain had a spark of life that can't be replicated. If we begin to replace parts of Bareil's brain with artificial implants, that spark may be lost." But he admits that if he doesn't do it, Bareil will die without regaining consciousness.

Sisko remarks that they need to consider what Bareil would want; Winn, of course, speaks up for the fact that Bareil wanted to continue the negotiations. Bashir points out that she's not an impartial observer here. "There is more at stake than one man's life," Winn objects, but Bashir tells her, "One man's life is all I'm concerned with at the moment." Then Kira says she thinks Bareil would want the positronic implants. "Kira," Bashir says, "if I go through with this, the man who wakes up may not be the man you used to know." "I realize that," says Kira. "But I know how important this is to him, and I know he wouldn't want to just be put in stasis indefinitely, waiting for some medical solution that may never come. Do the surgery, Julian. Let him finish what he started."

Jake enters the security office and tells Odo, "I'd like you to do me a favor. I want to be arrested." Odo looks at him in astonishment, but a little later, he is hauling Nog into the holding cell where Jake is sitting. A bewildered Nog vigorously denies stealing anything from the Tholian ambassador, but Odo says, "Tell it to the magistrate," and tosses Nog into the cell.

Bareil wakes up, now with half his brain replaced by a positronic implant. He looks at Kira, his gaze distant, his voice flat. "Everything is different," he tells Kira, slowly. "It's hard to explain, but when you touch me, it doesn't seem real. It's more like a distant memory of a touch." Obviously something important is gone from him forever, but he is willing to discuss the negotiations with Winn. Kira is stricken, and Bashir looks somber as he gazes at what he has done to Bareil in the name of saving his life.

In the holding cell, Nog figures out that something's up, and Jake finally admits that he put Odo up to this. "I didn't think you'd listen to me otherwise." "Well, this better be good," says Nog. Jake tells him sincerely, "I wanted to say I'm sorry. I guess I just forgot you were a Ferengi." "You forgot? To most people, the lobes are a dead giveaway!" "What I mean," Jake explains, "is we spend so much time together, and we seem so much alike, I sometimes forget we're different." They discuss the date a bit, and it turns out that Nog actually had made at least one cultural concession, in that he didn't ask Riska to chew his food for him. There are plenty of other "disgusting Ferengi customs" where that came from, and Nog says plenty of human ones are disgusting to him as well. "Great," says Jake. "So we both disgust each other. You know, as we get older, this is just going to get worse. But I know one thing. I don't want to lose you as a friend." Nog finally softens. "Well, in that case double-dating is definitely out." With that settled, they start calling for Odo to release them. But Odo doesn't answer.

A celebration is held in the wardroom: the treaty has been signed, and Kai Winn is the heroine of the day. Bashir doesn't feel in a party mood, though Dax tells him, "You kept him alive against incredible odds. No matter what happens, you should always be proud of that." As Quark is introducing the Kai to a new dessert he has named after her, Bashir is called to the infirmary on a medical emergency, and Winn follows.

"It's the other half of his brain, isn't it?" asks Kira, beside Bareil's bed. "But you can still help him can't you? You can replace the other half of his brain with a positronic matrix." "I'm sorry, Nerys," Bashir tells her. "But this is where it ends...I won't remove whatever last shred of humanity Bareil has left."

Winn suggests that now it's time to listen to the doctor. "Sure," Kira says bitterly. "You got your peace treaty, your place in history. You don't need Bareil anymore." Winn looks at her with what might be genuine sadness. "Believe me, child, I share your pain. But I think the Prophets are calling to Bareil. I will see to it that Bajor never forgets him." She leaves, and Kira begs Bashir to keep trying.

"Nerys," Bashir says gently, "if I remove the rest of his brain and replace it with a machine, he may look like Bareil, he may even talk like Bareil, but he won't be Bareil. That spark of life will be gone. He'll be dead. And I'll be the one who killed him." "But if we do nothing, he'll die," Kira protests. "That's right, he will," says Bashir. "But he'll die like a man, not a machine. Please, don't make me fight you on this one. Just let him go." And Kira finally has to accept the inevitable. She asks to stay at Bareil's side until the end; Bashir says, "Of course," and leaves.

Kira looks down at the unmoving body of her lover, whose spirit, for all intents and purposes, has already flown to the Prophets. "You got your peace treaty. I just wish that we'd had more time for us. There's so much I never told you. But this is the time we have left, so I'd better say it now." And she does.


  • The original story involved a Federation ambassador injured while negotiating with the Romulans, and eventually having to be allowed to die. However, the Romulans were changed to Cardassians, who were more relevant to the series; and the ambassador was changed to Bareil, whose death would have more meaning for the audience (and whose affair with Kira was going nowhere in dramatic terms anyway).