Julian Bashir gets the spotlight on the medically focused episode that originally aired on May 20, 1996. This is The Quickening.
Station Log Stardate undetermined: The Quickening
Dr. Bashir fights off other Doctors determined to get his head for the ultimate prize…the QUICKENING! Oh…wrong show.
Sorry. Let’s try again.
here we go, Julian Bashir is desperate to cure a plague that has ravaged a planet who’s populous once rebelled against the Dominion.
During a bio-survey mission in the gamma quadrant, Dax, Bashir and Kira detect a message from a planet just outside of Dominion space. Beaming down to render aid they discover a ruined civilization that appears to be living in poverty. They are soon confronted by a woman who has something called The Blight who begs for medical assistance while one of the locals recommends that they forget about the planet all together.
Taking the young woman to the local Hospital, Jadzia and Julian are shocked to see that little medicine is being practiced there. Instead, this place, run by a man named Trevean, seems to be more of a rest home for people to accept their fate and die in peace. They soon learn that this blight was caused by The Dominion some 200 years prior as a punishment. They were once a technologically advanced society but have now all but collapsed due to the virus that has spread among them.
Just as the away team begin to leave, one of the locals ask if they are there to help but their discussion is interrupted by a Jem’hadar patrol. Just as Kira prepares to leave, Bashir argues that he and Dax need to stay behind in order to help find a cure. Returning to the planet, the two begin their work with the help of a pregnant local named Ekoria. Setting up their lab, Julian begins to study the disease.
Soon some of the locals challenge Bashir’s intentions and he shows them that he only wants to help by repairing a child’s arm. Soon Trevean arrives and riles up the crowd reminding them all that they have dealt with others who have brought false hope to their planet. Under a veiled threat, he leaves Julian and Dax worried about what they have walked into. Later, as Ekoria discusses the cure with Julian, others arrive to seek a chance at a cure at the hands of the Federation Doctor.
After giving the first inoculations to the locals, Bashir tells Ekoria of his teddy bear Kukalaka. The bear was his first patient and he did everything he could to save the bear’s life over the years. To this day he has the bear and cherishes it as a friend. As he tells his story, Dax rushes in with bad news, one of the patients have taken a turn for the worse.
Soon the Doctor determines that the EM fields from their instruments is causing the virus to mutate in the patients and everyone but Ekoria has been affected. Soon, after one of the patients die, Trevean appears and helps ease others into death as they beg for his assistance. Julian is devastated at the loss and blames himself for not seeing the signs before it was too late. Feeling he was too arrogant for his own good, he is ready to give up after failing to find it in a week. Dax reminds him that he is arrogant but not because of his failure but because he believes that there is no cure.
Walking the streets, Julian runs into Ekoria where he offers to help them further. Even though Kira is back to pick them up, Julian insists that he remain behind to keep researching the virus. They reluctantly agree and he returns to do all he can.
Continuing his work with Ekoria, he informs the dying mother that he can induce labor in two weeks if she can hold on that long. As the days pass, he does all he can to comfort her and soon Trevean arrives and offers Ekoria a chance to die in peace. Julian is shocked and dismayed at Trevean’s appearance not understanding Trevean’s obsession with death.
A few weeks later Ekoria gives birth and Julian discovers that her son is free of the Blight. It seems that her baby was absorbing the antigen through the placenta and a vaccine has been found. Ekoria dies moments later but Julian brings the child and the good news to Trevean and his people.
Returning to the Station, Julian continues to search for a cure even though he has managed to save future generations, he feels that he has to find a way to save them all.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
It is rare to get a Bashir centric episode that really works and this is one of them. For most of the series so far, Julian Bashir has come across as a rather conceited character. Even though he is likable, most of the time his moments are more about his past glory or his search for acceptance in the grand scheme of things. Either that or he is seen pining over Jadzia, which will be ending before long as well, but we are getting way ahead of ourselves. Every once in a while there is a spark of humility in the good doctor and that spark has been growing over time. Now, four seasons in, that humility is put to the test.
From a character development perspective, this episode really shows you just how dedicated Doctor Julian Bashir is to his craft. Not only does he have the desire to help an entire race of people but he is willing and eager to risk his life doing so. While the virus itself has no chance of harming him, there is the constant threat of the Dominion’s army The Jem’Hadar paying a visit at any moment. While this is a great chance for him to do good work, overall it is a humbling experience as well. From the start Bashir comes across as an overly confident Doctor who can swoop in and cure the planet of all of it’s troubles in just a week. In fact he tells Kira to give him a week before she comes back for them since it shouldn’t take him that long to knock this out. By the end, Bashir realizes that his conceit has only hurt people and even though he finds a way to save future generations, this comes at the cost of the very patient he was desperately trying to save. This event will be a significant moment for Bashir and one that pushes his character even further in the future.
Once again, Star Trek is not afraid to focus on sociopolitical issues of the time and this episode is very much a statement of it’s time. In the 80’s and 90’s the AIDs epidemic was a massive concern. From the first signs to it becoming a social stigma, from famous people coming out as infected to, while there is still no cure, it is largely under control, this virus has become a major factor in our society. At the time of this episode, AIDS and HIV were a major part of the news and was a daily concern for just about everyone. In fact anyone who admitted to having the virus was immediately looked on as unclean or socially unacceptable, something that, thankfully has all but gone away in today’s world. One thing that stands out in this episode is how the citizens of the planet do not treat the infected as outcasts but instead try to comfort them in their final days. Really puts things into perspective doesn’t it?
Directed by Odo himself, Rene Auberjonois, this is one of the best stand alone episodes of the season. Even though it has little impact on the overarching story, it does have a significant impact with Doctor Bashir and will be referenced again in a future episode.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- Quark tries some advertising and nearly gets his head knocked off by a certain Klingon who just wanted a cup of Prune Juice.
- We never find out what happened to the Teplan people or if the Blight was ever cured. I want to think that they were eventually saved but, with how close to the Dominion Border they were, that is not very likely. In all reality, the Jem’Hadar probably marched in soon after and eliminated the populous. I know, pretty bleak.
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: Body Parts
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Late To The Game 9/30/2019
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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