In the fourth episode of the fourth season ofÂ Deep Space Nine, EVERYTHING IS UNCOMFORTABLE. Intrigued? Then itâ€™s time for Mark to watchÂ Star Trek.Â
Trigger Warning: For discussion of addiction
I really do enjoy that this show is so willing to push the boundaries of stories that they tell. BLESSÂ DEEP SPACE NINE.
While I will certainly excuse “The Visitor” for being Worf-lite because it needed to be, Iâ€™m pleased that his presence on this show is addressed immediately. Itâ€™s a great chance to remind everyone just howÂ differentÂ everything is on this station. The morality and protocol thatâ€™s developed here is unlike what weâ€™ve seen on both iterations of theÂ Enterprise, which means that Worf sticks out like a sore thumb. Heâ€™s used to a very direct and strict form of rule as a security officer.
But here? Well, Iâ€™ll say that Odo is far more adventurous and creative compared to what Worf is used to. So I understand why this is so frustrating for him! Heâ€™s used to surveilling, arresting, and imprisoning people, in that order, with very little thought to anything larger than that. Itâ€™s not that Worf lacks scope or the inability to look at the bigger portrait. I think his interactions with the Klingons show he can certainly do that. But he used to be the Chief of Security, and now, heâ€™s in an entirely different position that requires different skills from him. On top of that, heâ€™s now in a command position thatÂ doesnâ€™tÂ intersect with security, which challenges him. He has to go out of his way not to interfere with Odo, which is WAY EASIER SAID THAN DONE.
Bless, Worf. He tried, but he also messed up.Â Badly. He forces Odo to blow his cover and catch a middleman instead of a smuggling ring, and Worf learns the hard way that heâ€™s got a whole new culture to adapt to.
The Hippocratic Oath
Which is why itâ€™s so perfect that the main story in this episode centers on the kind of grey morality that Sisko speaks of here. Sisko has adapted in his own way, but thatâ€™s also why Oâ€™Brien and Julian clash so fiercely over the Jemâ€™Hadar. First, let me just say that this episode contains both a fascinating moral issue AND a strangely satisfying ending. I know thatâ€™s weird to say because the resolution is designed to be deliberately upsetting. How can that be satisfying?
Because itâ€™s honest. This script respects the characterization of Julian and Oâ€™Brien SO MUCH. I believed that Julian would defer to the medical needs of any living being because heâ€™sÂ shownÂ us that over the course of the past three seasons. I believed that Oâ€™Brien would remain steadfast in his refusal to help the Jemâ€™Hadar because weâ€™veÂ seenÂ how heâ€™s the most stubborn, close-minded member of the crew. And itâ€™s not that I think itâ€™s irrational to be afraid of the Jemâ€™Hadar or to value oneâ€™s self-preservation. The situation is much more complicated than that! However, once Julian makes it clear that he believes Goranâ€™Agar, Oâ€™Brien digs deeper into the sand.
Itâ€™s frustrating to watch because, like Julian, I wanted the best of these characters. If the Jemâ€™Hadar could truly break from their addiction to ketracel-white, then it was moral and just to pursue that. Julian knew that! He knew these men would suffer horribly through their withdrawal symptoms, and there was a high chance that all of them, aside from Goranâ€™Agar, would die. Like Odo on DS9, he thought in the long-term. What if curing the Jemâ€™Hadar of their addiction freed them from the control the Founders exhibited over them? What if that swept the Foundersâ€™ army right out from under them? Yes, Julian is optimistic, and he takes Goranâ€™Agar under good faith throughout this episode.
But Oâ€™Brien canâ€™t. He canâ€™t risk his life under a group of people genetically designed to kill others. His experiences with the Jemâ€™Hadar inform his reaction to them! Itâ€™s fair that he feels forced into this choice because heÂ was. This episode liberally uses the trope of a force kidnapping or capturing their enemy in order to get medical help. So I get it! Both characters truly believe theyâ€™re doing whatâ€™s right. And while I think Julianâ€™s argument was stronger, I canâ€™t ignore what a complicated nightmare this whole thing is. Because many of the Jemâ€™Hadar that Goranâ€™Agar brought to this planet DONâ€™T ACTUALLY WANT TO GET RID OF THEIR ADDICTION BECAUSE THEY THINK ITâ€™LL MAKE THEM WEAK LIKE HUMANS.
In the end, Oâ€™Brien betrays Julian, destroys his work, and guarantees that they all get home safely. Yet thatâ€™s precisely why the ending is so haunting. The writers donâ€™t have these two characters shake hands and merrily go about their way. Julian isÂ veryÂ clear that heâ€™s furious that Oâ€™Brien disobeyed a direct order; Oâ€™Brien is desperate to prove that he did everything to save Julian. Itâ€™s not enough, though, and I suspect that this might be the start of the fracturing of their friendship. Neither of them seem eager to pick up where they left off.
I guess Iâ€™ll just have to see.
The video for â€œHippocratic Oathâ€ can be downloadedÂ here for $0.99.
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