Not What He Appears To Be
"Dr. Bashir, I Presume" Plot Summary:
When Bashir is selected by Dr. Louis Zimmerman to be the prototype for the new Emergency Medical Hologram, his parents are brought aboard the station and inadvertently reveal Julian's darkest secret: as a child, he was genetically enhanced for intelligence and physical prowess, to make up for his deficiencies. This revelation could cost the doctor his position, but Bashir's father chooses to take full responsibility and go to jail for the crime of altering his son's DNA.
Many of the best DS9 episodes ("The Quickening," "Nor the Battle to the Strong") have been Bashir-focused, but I thought that perhaps Sid was just getting lucky with the material he was given, and coming across better than the rest of the cast. No longer. The truth is that he's become a wonderful actor over the past several years. I do think the script for "Dr. Bashir, I Presume" was well-paced and clever, and the directing and casting of supporting roles contributed greatly. But this was quintessentially a Bashir episode, and both the actor and the character were superlative.
I expected this to be a gimmick show with Voyager's Doctor's cameo, and if that was all it had been, it would still have worked. Bob Picardo was hysterical, particularly in the scene where he was playing both Zimmerman and the EMH - something we've seen him do on Voyager, but then the EMH was the focus of interest rather than the designer. I assumed that the previews were designed to mislead, that the complication with Bashir's parents would turn out to be something very minor (like most parent-child conflicts on Trek, which are always resolved within the space of an episode--would that life were like that!), and the ending would concern Zimmerman's annoyance at being replaced by Bashir as a holographic model.
That plot, along with the romantic foibles of Rom and Leeta, would have been enough for me to enjoy the episode. I wasn't expecting real character development, and I certainly wasn't expecting real issues at stake. So I found myself on the edge of my seat when Bashir's secret was revealed...in a scene so grippingly played by the actors portraying his parents that I was also taken by surprise when Miles and Zimmerman revealed their inadvertent eavesdropping.
This was really an emotionally wrenching scenario, and one with relevance to contemporary parents faced with decisions about growth hormones and various other methods of interfering with their children's so-called natural development. The script did a terrific job of balancing social responsibility with the individuals in question, and in a very short amount of time, juggling two other plots. Bashir's mother had me in tears explaining the decision to muddle with his genes, and I liked the analogy presented via his father's looking for shortcuts--in get-rich-quick schemes, in child development. The resolution was a little pat, but it wasn't simple.
This is the kind of episode I watch Trek for. In addition to being a supremely entertaining hour of television, it offered continuity back to the original series and The Wrath of Khan, and provided a sort of internal justification for Bashir--a lot of his character quirks can now be reexamined in a new light without any obvious reductionism. Kudos to everyone involved in this episode.
Deep Space Nine Reviews