Production no.: 533
Teleplay by: René Echevarria
Story by: Pam Pietroforte
Directed by: Anson Williams
Stardate: not given
First satellite airdate: November 22, 1997
Jeffrey Combs .................
Tim Ransom ....................
Jeannetta Arnette ............
Hilary Shepard-Turner .....
Michael Keenan ..............
Casey Biggs ....................
Faith C. Salie ...................
A cargo bay on DS9 has been converted into a dormitory for four people. Their names are Jack, Lauren, Patrick, and Sarina; they are maladjusted products of genetic engineering, and they have been brought here by their therapist, Dr. Karen Loews, so that they can meet Bashir. The restless, moody Jack heaps scorn on the whole idea. The languid Lauren has designs on Bashir. Patrick, childlike despite being the oldest, is scared; while Sarina never says a word. These are what Bashir will be working with for the next few weeks. Loews does her best to prepare them for the meeting, then meets Bashir in the corridor. "I just hope you have better luck getting through to them than I've had."
The room is dark when Bashir enters -- it's the patients, playing games. "Funny, he doesn't look like a mutant," Jack proclaims. Bashir brings the lights up, and proceeds to get acquainted with them, though Jack does his best to keep him off balance, reproaching him for breaking the rules, hiding his genetic status, and cutting a deal after he was finally exposed. Bashir remains calm. "There's a good reason why we've been barred from certain professions. But that doesn't mean we can't be productive members of society." Jack rants that he doesn't want to be part of a society that "put me away for being too smart." Bashir leaves, saying he's going to have dinner with some friends. What happens next will be up to them. "Thanks for scaring him off," Lauren snipes at Jack.
"All I kept thinking was, there but for the grace of God go I," Bashir tells the other officers later after dinner in Sisko's quarters. His parents found a decent doctor to do his resequencing; Jack and the rest weren't so lucky, and suffered side effects which forced their parents to turn themselves in to get help for their children. Unfortunately, there is no real treatment, since their cases are so unusual. They were brought here in hopes that they would respond to him as someone like them who is living a normal life, and that they might someday be able to live productively on their own. "Let's hope they don't get too productive," O'Brien comments. "It might make the rest of us look bad." This leads to a discussion of the exclusion of the genetically engineered from many walks of life. On the one hand, it makes sense, because it prevents parents from feeling that their children won't be able to compete unless they too are enhanced. But on the other hand, it's unfair to penalize the genetically engineered for something that was done to them when they had no choice in the matter. It's a difficult question, with no easy answers, especially for Bashir, who has lived both sides of the debate all his life.
Sisko changes the subject, to an upcoming speech by the new Cardassian head of state, Legate Damar. Then Jack unexpectedly calls Bashir over the com system; Bashir realizes that the patients must have broken in somehow. He goes down to the dorm, where Jack demands that Bashir do something about a noise that is bothering them. Two engineers had come to check it out, and said there was nothing wrong. Bashir hears nothing at first, but after a moment of listening, he too hears it: a high-pitched whine that seems to be audible only to the sensitive ears of the genetically enhanced. Suddenly Jack grabs Sarina's head and threatens to snap her neck unless something is done.
Bashir calls O'Brien, then persuades Jack to release Sarina. O'Brien comes, and discovers a sympathetic vibration in a power coupling. He gets to work, watched eagerly by Patrick. Finally, he finishes, and the patients sigh in relief. Bashir turns on the monitor to watch Legate Damar's speech, which is about opening negotiations for peace. The patients are intrigued as they listen, offering astonishingly perceptive comments on Damar. Although they admit they didn't even know who Damar was until now, they're clearly on to him. They refer to Damar as a "pretender" who killed a "princess" (Ziyal) and seized the throne, but is now in league with a "dark knight he can't control" (Weyoun).
Excited, Bashir talks to Kira and Dax about it, telling them it's the first time he's seen them so engaged. He hopes to keep them that way, but they've already exhausted the computer's knowledge on Cardassia and the Dominion. Sisko announces that Starfleet has agreed to listen to what Damar and Weyoun have to say, and guess where they're coming. Bashir immediately asks for a transcript of the negotiations; Sisko tells him that the Dominion insisted on recording the entire proceedings, to prove their sincere desire for peace. Bashir is elated, and goes back to his patients to tell them the good news.
Kira greets Weyoun and Damar at the airlock. Later, Bashir and his charges watch a holographic replay in which the two enemy leaders are proposing a new border between Federation and Cardassian territories -- a new border which would leave several star systems now in Dominion hands. From their language and posture alone, Jack and the others deduce that the Dominion wants one system in particular, the Kabrel system, and they're willing to give up a lot to get it. Why is not so clear. As Jack and Lauren are speculating, Bashir notices Sarina writing on a PADD, and gently asks if he can have it. He shows it to the others. Sarina has written a series of chemical equations.
Bashir shows them to Sisko as well (piling him with PADDs as he goes). The equations demonstrate how to break down the tri-nucleic fungi found in the Kabrel system into one of the active ingredients of Ketracel-white, which is why the Dominion wants that system. They would be able to make enough white to supply the Jem'Hadar indefinitely. Sisko notes that he was going to recommend the proposed border to the Federation. "It could have cost us the Alpha Quadrant." "Actually, sir, we should give them Kabrel," Bashir says. Otherwise, the Dominion will have to launch a full-scale attack before its supply of white runs out. He suggests that the Federation stall for time, giving them a chance to bring the Romulans into the war: the Romulans will abandon their non-aggression pact with the Dominion next year.
Sisko halts the flood of information. "Hang on a minute, Doctor. How did you come up with all this? Two days ago you said these people were impossible to deal with. Now they're turning out projections that would take Starfleet Intelligence months to come up with." "We're mutants," Bashir says simply. "I know, we're not exactly qualified for this kind of work. And it could be said that it is beyond the limits of what people like us should be allowed to do, but I think if you allow me walk you through the analyses, you'll be impressed." Sisko concedes this, prompting Bashir to bend his ear some more about statistical models and non-linear dynamics.
Bashir announces to his charges later that the captain said he would take their analysis to Starfleet Command right away. They all view it as a cause for celebration: champagne is opened, party hats are passed out, music is played, and they start waltzing -- except Sarina, who turns away when Jack approaches her. O'Brien enters at this moment to replace the coupling. Patrick tries to include him in the "party", and starts to cry when O'Brien politely declines. The Chief is at a loss -- even more so when Jack and Lauren say with certainty that the Chief is jealous that Bashir is spending so much time with them. "It's all right, Julian," says Lauren. "Go play with your friend. We'll be fine." "You want me to play with you, do you, Chief?" Bashir asks teasingly. With as much dignity as possible, O'Brien goes with him to Quark's.
As they play darts, Bashir assures O'Brien that Patrick and the others like him, finding him "uncomplicated" and comfortable to be around. "They're amazingly insightful. They have ways of seeing things other people don't." The doctor admits he's enjoying their company, and the fact that when he's working with them, they're all on the same wavelength, something he's never had with anyone else. "After being with them, I can understand how the rest of us must seem a little uncomplicated," O'Brien notes drily. Bashir jokingly corrects that word to "slow". "I don't mind. It makes me feel superior...It's not always easy walking amongst the common people."
When Bashir returns to his charges the next morning, announcing that Starfleet Command was so impressed with their analysis that they've agreed to give them access to classified information, the group greets him somberly. They've done a long term projection. "You're not going to like it," Lauren says. After Bashir reads their findings, and checks them, he has to agree. "It's inescapable. There's no way the Federation is going to be able to beat the Dominion. We have no choice. We're going to have to surrender."
Sisko flatly rejects this notion, even when Bashir tells him that all the scenarios they've run lead to the same conclusion, and that if they continue to fight, over 900 billion people will die. Whether the Federation surrenders or not, the Dominion will win, and it will take five generations before the Alpha Quadrant peoples will be able to end their rule with a rebellion. "Since we can't win this war, why don't we save as many lives as we can?" But Sisko is unwilling to accept an argument based on a series of statistical probabilities and assumptions. "Even if I knew with a hundred percent certainty what was going to happen, I wouldn't ask an entire generation of people to voluntarily give up their freedom." "Not even to save over nine hundred billion lives?" Bashir asks. The captain is adamant. "Surrender is not an option...I don't care if the odds are against us. If we're going to lose, then we're going to go down fighting, so that when our descendants someday rise up against the Dominion, they'll know what they're made of."
"With all due respect, sir, aren't you letting your pride get in the way?" Bashir points out. Sisko cuts him off. He will pass on the recommendation to Starfleet Command, but he will not add his voice to it. "So we go down fighting," Bashir says, defeated. "How terribly courageous of us."
Bashir shows O'Brien the projections. The Chief has to agree that it looks hopeless, but all the same, he isn't any more ready to give up than Sisko is. When Bashir pleads with him to look at the big picture, O'Brien replies, "I'm trying. Maybe I'm too uncomplicated to see it properly...The way you're acting, you think nobody with half a brain could possibly disagree with you." "Frankly, I don't see how they can," Bashir says, causing his friend to give him an exasperated look. "I can see two possible explanations for it. Either I'm even more feebleminded than you ever realized, or you're not as smart as you think you are."
Frustrated, Bashir goes to the Dabo wheel. He wins, but takes no joy in it. As he tells Quark, he's trying to prove a point, that sooner or later anyone who plays loses. Quark tries to get him to stop spoiling everyone's enjoyment. Finally Bashir loses, proving himself right. "There. You see? We're all as good as dead." "Doctor, take it easy," Quark says. "It's just a game." "You're right," Bashir replies as he leaves the bar. "It's not as if 900 billion lives were at stake."
Starfleet, predictably, rejects the patients' recommendation; Bashir breaks it to them. Jack is angry, and decides they have to take matters into their own hands. "If we can't head off the war, then there might be a way to make it a lot less bloody." They've got Starfleet's battle plans -- with that information, the Dominion can take the Alpha Quadrant in a matter of mere weeks, with no more than two billion fatalities. Bashir can't believe what he's hearing. "Wait a minute. It's one thing for us to try and avert a war. But it's quite another for us to take it on ourselves to trigger an invasion that's going to get a lot of people killed. It's not our place to decide who lives and who dies. We're not gods." "Maybe not, but we're the next best thing," declares Jack.
Bashir argues that that's the kind of thinking that makes others afraid of people like them; and it's not their decision to make. But Jack is determined to go through with it. "I am not going to be a party to treason," Bashir tells him. "Call it what you want," says Jack. "But I am willing to do it if it means saving billions of lives." Lauren and Patrick agree with him. When Bashir doesn't, Jack pretends to back down, then punches him out. "So how do we contact the Dominion?" Lauren wonders.
Damar is discouraged by the lack of progress in the negotiations with Sisko. "I don't know why you had me call for peace talks in the first place." Weyoun coldly reminds him that a short time ago, he was a mere adjutant to Dukat, and that no one is irreplaceable. "Now, I just received a very interesting message from an unidentified party claiming to have some information that could be very beneficial to us." He intends to find out what that information is.
Bashir comes to to find himself tied to a chair, his combadge missing and the computer not responding to his commands. He is alone, except for Sarina. Bashir urges her to untie him so he can stop the others before it's too late. Sarina is silent as ever. Then Bashir begins to make a few shrewd guesses, about her feelings for Jack, and her fear of what he'll think if she betrays him. "I've seen the way you look at him when you think no one's watching. I know how much you care. But if you don't help me stop them, you know what's going to happen? They're going to be arrested and charged with treason, and you're never going to see any of them again. You're never going to see Jack again." Sarina looks up, a stricken expression on her face, although she still says nothing.
Jack, Lauren, and Patrick round a corner and are surprised to find Bashir waiting with two security guards. Jack insists that they have to carry out their plan, but Bashir retorts, "You're in enough trouble already, Jack. Don't make it any worse. Now, we can do this the easy way, or the hard way."
Damar and Weyoun are waiting in a small storage bay. "This is ridiculous," Damar fumes. "Sneaking into a storage bay for a secret meeting. I'm not some agent of the Obsidian Order, I'm the leader of the Cardassian Empire." Weyoun sternly reins him in. "Don't let it go to your head. You serve only at the Dominion's pleasure. Besides, I think it's exciting." The door opens, but instead of their mysterious contact, Odo comes in. "We seem to have gotten ourselves lost," Weyoun dissembles. Odo isn't fooled, and tells him, "They're not coming." Weyoun and Damar play dumb, but Odo firmly escorts them back to their quarters.
Back in the dorm, Bashir tells his charges that they won't be going to prison, but will be sent back to the Institute. Jack is furious; Bashir points out that he stopped them from committing treason. "Are we supposed to thank you?" asks Lauren. "Nine hundred billion people are going to die." "We don't know that," replies Bashir. He contends that their projections could just maybe have actually been wrong. Jack glares at Sarina. "You! You ruined everything!" "What do you make of that, Jack?" Bashir demands. "Why didn't you anticipate that? Why didn't you factor her into your equations? Because you thought you knew everything. But you didn't even know what was going to happen in this room. One person derailed your plans. One person changed the course of history. Now, I don't know about you, but that makes me think that maybe, just maybe, things may not turn out the way we thought."
Later, O'Brien sits with a downcast Bashir in Quark's. "I know you wanted to try to save as many lives as possible. It's probably what makes you such a good doctor." "Fortunately this doctor is also a Starfleet officer," Bashir says thoughtfully. "We thought we were so smart. We thought we could predict the future. It's my fault, not theirs. I should never have let things go so far. If I hadn't been so bent on trying to prove to the world that they had something to contribute -- " But O'Brien tells him, "They did contribute. It seems to me we've become far too complacent about the Dominion. We may have driven them back into Cardassian space, but we haven't beaten them yet...The odds are stacked against us. All we can do is give it our best shot."
Bashir then goes back to the Dabo table, promising Quark he's not going to cause trouble. He bets on a double-down. "Maybe there's a better bet, but sometimes when the odds are so stacked against you, you've just got to take a chance." Bashir wins, much to Quark's displeasure. Then O'Brien calls to let Bashir know that a certain transport is leaving, but some of the passengers are refusing to board unless he goes to see them.
In their dorm, Lauren tells Bashir, "Believe me, I wouldn't mind if our predictions turned out to be wrong." She gives him a hot kiss on the mouth as a goodbye gesture. Bashir tells Patrick he'd like to come visit them sometime, and whispers to Sarina, "You did the right thing, you know. One of these days, he'll understand that." Jack, who has been sulking, finally comes out, demanding to know something. "If we can come up with a way to beat the Dominion, will you listen?" Bashir grins. "I can't think of anything I'd like better." With that, the four patients finally beam out.
The initial premise was that Starfleet had assigned Bashir to head up a group of geniuses specifically brought together to analyze the war situation. Laura Behr, Ira's wife, was the choreographer for the dancing scenes. Her work was uncredited in this episode, but she did later receive credit as choreographer for "His Way" and "Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang". Tim Ransom, who played Jack, had read for the role of Bashir when the series regulars were being cast in 1992. A scene was shot in which Sarina actually speaks to Bashir (agonizing over the decision to free him), but it was cut for time.