Star Trek 346: Life Support

346. Life Support

FORMULA: In the Hands of the Prophets + Ethics

WHY WE LIKE IT: Bareil's outta here.

WHY WE DON'T: By way of lobotomy.

REVIEW: Opposites coming together is the theme of this episode, with an insubstantial subplot about Nog ruining Jake's love life with his Ferengi ways, and a plot about Bareil and Winn working on negotiations with the Cardassians together. Their alliance is surprising for Winn, but in Bareil's character, and had he lived, she might well have been redeemed. But that's not in the cards, especially with her putting politics, ambition, and the success of her mission above his life.

It's unfortunate that Louise Fletcher was so sick while making this episode. She is visibly and audibly having trouble, and it drains all the energy from her performance. Combined with the idea that Bareil is a power behind the throne, Life Support presents us with Winn at her weakest, both politically and rhetorically. She's middle management, hiding behind her underlings' competence.

As for Bareil, I've long been a critic of the character, especially his relationship to Major Kira, so I'm not unhappy to see him go. The way he goes is pretty gruesome however. Replacing organs is one thing. Replacing a person's brain is tantamount to lobotomy, no matter what kind of android technology you use. Bareil's impressions after getting brain implants is very creepy indeed. It's why I have a little trouble with Kira negotiating for the other part of his brain to be replaced. Why would she want that? Her pain and emotion at the end is genuine though, and well played.

What saves Life Support, really, is that it's another strong medical episode for Bashir. He's never so strong as when he meets an ethical dilemma head on, here keeping the Kai on her toes and making an enemy of her. But Bashir is the only thing that's not a bit limp in this thing. Oh, inside joke to look for: "I don't even know what a Tholian LOOKS like!" I feel your pain, Nog.

LESSON: Girls don't like it when you ask them to cut up their food on dates. Now I know what I've been doing wrong.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium-Low: Going a little less extreme on the organ replacements and a Louise Fletcher in good health might have spun this one around for me. As is, it's got an important moment or two, but that's it.


De said...

My biggest problem with this episode was that it was a fairly clumsy way to get rid of Bareil - from the contrived off-screen accident to the gradual levels of ludicrous medical procedures to keep him alive.

While I appreciate the use of the advanced medicine (instead of resorting to a "He's dead, Jim"), I felt it was played out entirely too long.

I know the Jake-Nog B plot was supposed to lighten things up a bit, but I felt it was a bit inappropriate given the touchy subject matter.

A few overzealous members of Philip Anglim's fan club at the time, the Friends of Vedek Bareil (I wish I were making that up), actually sent death threats to the writing and production staff. That same club began bombarding the offices with mail until Ira Behr shut them up with an appearance by the Mirror Bareil in "Resurrection." I was told by a former intern that subsequent mail from the organization went straight to the garbage bin, but I've never received confirmation from Ira or Ron Moore about that.

Siskoid said...

Google tells me that, indeed, you aren't making that up. Wow.

I have never in my life so wanted to create an opposite organization.

Even though the point is moot.

Anonymous said...

This episode is more important than people typically give it credit for. Prior to this episode, a recurring theme for DS9 was "Cardassians trying to undermine the Bajoran government or at least Bajorans in prominent positions". As of this episode, all of that abruptly stopped, and the show's focus could shift from "helping Bajor get back on its feet" to ... well, whatever they felt like exploring next.


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