351. Distant Voices
FORMULA: (Frame of Mind x Phantasms) + Genesis + The Deadly Years
WHY WE LIKE IT: Mutant Theory 101.
WHY WE DON'T: Some of the psychobabble claptrap.
REVIEW: It's Bashir's turn to get tortured by the writers, and in an effort to get to know his psychology better, we're going into his mind for a bit of reflection therapy. Distant Voices gives the game away quite soon, but then after all those TNG episodes penned by Brannon Braga, we're sort of wise to this sort of surrealism. The jig is up as soon as Bashir gets a little too old, especially considering that he has a fear of getting older.
So it's all a bit conceit for exploring Bashir's psyche, what his friends represent to him, and why he sabotaged himself all those times with the tennis and the exams and all that. Except the Lethean (who represents the telepathic damage) gets it wrong, doesn't he? He finds the wound, but not the cause, you might say. Once later episodes reveal the true nature of our good doctor, Distant Voices becomes more of a red herring. Or does it? Could this episode happen to anyone else? Or can Bashir's mind uniquely compartmentalize and heal itself this way? The one true thing we learn here is that Bashir really did sabotage himself... to call less attention to himself...?
Siddig el Fadil proves himself a competent mime, ageing his movements and mannerisms along with the make-up (which is best at the very end of the scale, I think). There's some nice atmosphere in places, and the Lethean certainly makes a fearsome foe. Not a lot of surrealism overall, but Ops is suitably full of tennis balls, i.e. "not really where Bashir's heart is".
LESSON: You're only as old as you feel.
REWATCHABILITY - Medium: A bit too talky and derivative in places, but it doesn't jerk you around very long, hums along at a good pace and should prove interesting to Bashir fans.