"Extreme Measures" Plot Summary:
Bashir reports to Kira that he has made no progress in treating Odo's disease, confessing to the shapeshifter that he has perhaps a week to live. Odo asks that Kira return to training Damar's men; he doesn't want the last thing he sees to be the pain in her eyes when she watches him die as she watched Bareil die in that very room. Kira reluctantly agrees to go after telling Odo she loves him.
Sisko asks the doctor whether he can do anything to help his research. With O'Brien's encouragement, Bashir reluctantly tells the captain about the plan to lure Section 31 to the station so they can steal the cure. Sisko is shocked to learn of the section's involvement - "Genocide committed by people who call themselves Federation citizens?" - and tacitly gives his approval to the Bashir's plan to use an illegal Romulan mind probe on a Section 31 agent. Bashir is stunned by the number of people who had to have been involved in the plot to infect Odo and tells O'Brien that Section 31 must be destroyed, but O'Brien insists that their first priority has to be saving Odo.
Waking to find Sloan waiting in his room, Bashir quickly traps him in a containment field. "I want the same thing you want: the cure to Odo's disease," he announces, phasering the agent to take him to a science lab where the Romulan torture device is waiting. Sloan insinuates that something might happen to O'Brien's family if he assists in the doctor's illegal actions, but Bashir points out that Sloan must have the cure or he wouldn't have come personally - he'd want to perform a surgical strike, destroying Bashir's research without arousing suspicion by wrecking the entire lab. Sloan says he can't possibly risk letting the Founders get ahold of the cure and calls Bashir a dangerous man who'd destroy the whole Federation. Then he activates a device in his brain to depolarize his neurons, killing him.
Bashir is able to stabilize the agent's life signs temporarily, but knows the man will die within the hour. Asking O'Brien for a multitronic engrammatic interpreter, he prepares to link his own mind with the comatose Sloan's. O'Brien is skeptical that Bashir will be able to find a cure even if he can understand the pathways of Sloan's mind, but insists on going with Bashir - he's afraid his friend will not get out in time, and will die along with Sloan when the agent's mind shuts down.
Hooked to the devices, Bashir and O'Brien find themselves in a turbolift on Deep Space Nine which open to reveal Sloan. He's surprisingly friendly and tries to tell them the cure right away, but he stutters on the nucleotide marking sequence, then declares that something in his brain must be resisting and insists that they come to the wardroom with him. Once there, the officers watch as Sloan addresses his friends and family, apologizing for being obsessed with his schemes instead of spending time with them. Sloan's wife thanks Bashir for his actions, since marriage to Sloan was hell. She reaches into her bag to give him a padd with the information to cure the disease, but another Sloan opens the door and shoots his double, making everyone in the room disappear. The corridor changes to a narrow hallway with locked doors, into one of which the agent vanishes.
A Section 31 agent stops Bashir and O'Brien, shooting the two men when they refuse to stop trying to locate Sloan. The phaser blasts injure them badly even though they're figments of Sloan's mind. Bashir discovers that he cannot get them out of the agent's mind just by waking up, causing his friend to lament that he should have left a note for his wife to explain. Bashir assures him that Keiko will understand - O'Brien did it for Odo. But the chief is still worried: "Keiko always said I like you more than I like her," he confesses. "Maybe a bit," says Bashir. "She's my wife! I love her!" exclaims an outraged O'Brien. Julian admits that he's in love with Ezri, but insists that he likes Miles a bit more. "There, I've admitted it," he sighs. They see a bright light which O'Brien interprets as "the tunnel to the great beyond," but the two wake in the lab, where Worf is helping Sisko revive them because Sloan is dying.
Bashir tries everything in his power to prevent the agent's death, ultimately resigning himself to failure. He apologizes to Odo and goes back to his quarters to read, only to discover that his copy of A Tale of Two Cities starts over from the beginning on page 294. Excitedly, he summons O'Brien, claiming that it means they're still in Sloan's mind: the reason the book starts over on that page is because he hadn't read any further, so his mind couldn't recreate the text. They rush back to the door they were about to open when they were shot. With lights flickering as Sloan's consciousness nears death, they enter Section 31, a dark and messy corner of the agent's mind. Bashir wades through padds on Klingon surveillance and secret missions, but O'Brien keeps him focused on their mission to cure Odo.
Sloan taunts the doctor, saying that the one thing he knows Bashir wants - to destroy Section 31 - will be possible if he reads the files. Bashir gives in to temptation, but O'Brien pulls him back, saying they will all die which is exactly what Sloan wants. The doctor wakes them up in the lab, seeing Dax's face above him. "You look so beautiful," he murmurs, learning from Sisko that Sloan died two minutes earlier. Later, administering the cure to Odo, Bashir warns that it will be painful...but it works almost instantaneously. Odo stares in wonder at his now-perfect hands.
O'Brien finds Bashir playing darts late at night, where the doctor thanks the engineer for reminding him what they came for when he got distracted by his desire to destroy Section 31. They drink a toast to friendship, then O'Brien invites Bashir to dinner which Keiko has waiting.
This is the last "bottle show" of the final arc - an episode which could be filmed relatively cheaply on existing sets, rather than requiring new equipment or location filming. Bottle shows tend to be make-or-break propositions: sometimes you get an absolutely brilliant tearjerker like "Duet," other times you wind up with the umpteenth menace-chases-crew-through-corridors episode. While I wouldn't rate "Extreme Measures" as highly as "Till Death Do Us Part," I was surprised at how much I liked it. With the exception of a few moments of devastating Odo/Kira interaction at the beginning, the entire episode was Bashir and O'Brien, and they acquitted themselves wonderfully.
The plot had a lot in common with a number of older mad scientist stories - people mucking around in other people's brains, which always end up looking like a maze full of dead ends - there was nothing original about the visual representation of the inside of Sloan's mind, in fact it had a lot in common with what we saw of the inside of Bashir's mind a few seasons back in "Distant Voices." I got a little bored with the joking in the turbolift of Sloan's mind, but the pace picked up considerably by the end. At times "Extreme Measures" reminded me of Brainstorm, in which characters shared experiences through one another's brain engrams...this is mostly notable because Louise Fletcher was in that movie and though Kai Winn was not in this installment, she's lurking nearby in the arc.
This episode will be remembered as the one where Bashir and O'Brien confessed their love for one another...seriously, even non-slash fans had to be affected by that passionate declaration of friendship just before what they thought would be their deaths. It was quite moving considering that their attachment has been a topic of jokes for more than three years - I have never forgotten the scene in "Hippocratic Oath" where Miles wished aloud that Keiko were more like Julian. It's annoying that they both have a propensity to ignore their female companions, but at least they admit to the failing and find a way to integrate it into their lives in the end. Their chemistry moved this episode along far better than the plot, which got that predictable still-a-dream sequence just like the recent "Field Trip" on The X-Files and "Waking Moments" on Voyager.
I am rather dissatisfied with the handling of Section 31 - purging those genocidal fascists should be a bigger priority for Starfleet than virtually anything else, even ending the war. What's the point of defending the Federation when people like Sloan can sabotage everything it stands for? It would have served the section right if they'd successfully slaughtered the Founders and instead of collapsing, the Dominion went on a suicidal rampage to wipe out the Alpha Quadrant. It was a foregone conclusion that Bashir would find the cure, but I hope we get some reference to his brilliant memory being able to recall some of the names and dates he skimmed off Sloan's mental padds before this series ends.
At least Sisko reacted with appropriate outrage, promptly deciding to overlook the Romulan mind probe - there was a time when I wouldn't have expected him to accept officers under his command acting with such flagrant illegality, neither seeking nor expecting his permission while making plans. One wonders whether supergenius spy recruit Bashir really can remain in Starfleet, taking orders. Maybe he'll devote his life to wiping out this secret agent scourge of the galaxy.
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