Body Swapping, murder and criminal mischief in the episode that originally aired on February 21,1993. This is The Passenger.
Station Log Stardate Undetermined: The Passenger
A criminal who can jump bodies is loose on Deep Space Nine in the body of one of their own. Working with the agent who was bringing the criminal in for justice, they must discover who Rao Vantika has possessed and stop him before he strikes again.
Kira and Bashir rescue Ty Kajada from a damaged Kobliad transport ship. After boarding, Julian discovers another survivor who is in custody but is unable to rescue him. In his last breath, the prisoner tells Bashir to ‘make me live’ just before dying. Later in sickbay, Bashir revives Ty Kajada who immediately demands that the body of Rao Vantika be investigated thoroughly to confirm his death.
Meanwhile Odo is confronted by a new Starfleet security officer who is present to help protect a deuridium shipment. It appears that the shipment was the target of Vantika prior to his death and Lt Primmin ultimately rubs Odo the wrong way. Soon they are faced with a system memory purge that apparently is the late Vantika’s MO. Ty Kajada indicates that this means Vantika is still alive despite his body indicating differently. He may not be in his own body but he is still active. Sisko believes that Kajada is too close to the case but she indicates otherwise, Vantika is a cunning adversary and even death can not stop his villainous mind.
As the investigation continues Dax discovers that someone has tried to break into Kajada’s ship since it docked. Soon she discovers a chip with a map of the humanoid brain on it leading her to believe that someone wanted it bad enough to try to break in. Later that night, Quark is accosted by Vantika himself who informs the Ferengi that Vantika’s death was ‘almost but not quite’.
As Bashir confirms the death of Vantika, Dax finds evidence that the criminal has found a way to transfer his brain patterns to another being. Immediately they suspect that it may be Kajada herself, who has been trying to convince them that Vantika is still alive. She may not even know it herself. That night, after discovering that she has been locked out of the system due to the suspicions, she begins her own investigation. Spying on Quark, she is soon pushed from the second floor of the bar only to find herself knocked out and rendered incoherent. Bashir works to try to bring her back so they can get answers.
Meanwhile, Dax investigates the body of Vantika and discovers that the criminal stored his consciousness in a microscopic device that would allow him to transfer it upon touch. Quark continues working with the smugglers and finds himself face to face with Vantika but in the body of none other that Doctor Julian Bashir.
As the team begins to investigate, Lt Primmin discovers a trap set by Vantika that will allow him an easy escape. At the same time Dax discovers that Bashir is missing and his combadge has been left in sickbay. Just as the deuridium shipment arrives, a runabout launches to meet the ship, revealing to the crew that it is in fact Bashir who has been taken over by Vantika.
Boarding the ship, Vantika/Bashir takes over and prepares his escape. Much to his surprise, the Station locks a tractor beam on Vantika’s stolen ship. Sisko contacts Vantika and they begin to negotiate. Vantika/Bashir informs the Commander that, should Sisko not let them go, Vantika will take the ship to warp killing the crew including Bashir himself. While Sisko delays the criminal mastermind, Dax, using Vantika’s brain map she discovered, transmits a pulse to disrupt Vantika’s hold over Bashir.
Bashir awakes aboard the ship, unaware of where he is and how he got there. Sisko commands him to lower the shields but Vantika fights back. Just as it seems Vantika is in charge again, they beam him aboard and stun him. Using the transporter, they clean Julian’s system of Vantika’s glial cells and soon Julian Bashir is back to his normal self.
In the end, Kajada destroys the container holding Vantika’s consciousness effectively eliminating the criminal forever.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
Taking the form of a crime drama/mystery, this is a solid one that gives a chance for Siddig El Fadil (Doctor Bashir) to stretch his acting chops a bit. So far we really haven’t gotten a chance to get to know the good Doctor other than a few moments of conceit but for the first time we do get a chance to see some of the talent behind the character.
We get to see a taste of just how conceited Doctor Bashir is in the first few minutes of the episode. This is a young Doctor who really doesn’t know when to stop crowing about his own skills much to the chagrin of his fellow crewmen. While Bashir tends to be a tad on the annoying side at first, he is a character that we see a full development on over time with some serious twists and turns in the coming seasons. In many ways, today’s episode is the start to a monumental journey for Julian Bashir, one that changes him into a much better character especially when he finally comes to terms with the secret behind his brilliant mind, but we are getting way ahead of ourselves.
The episode itself utilizes the classic sci fi trope of Body Swapping in a clever manner giving the characters and the audience a merry chase trying to figure out how this master criminal is still alive. If you were paying attention, you would notice that Bashir is the only person that Rao Vantika touches while alive but, for the uninitiated, main characters like Bashir are pushed out of suspicion leading many to believe Kajada has been in fact chasing herself this entire time. For the rest of us, it was pretty and painfully obvious in the plot structure but the actors did a remarkable job keeping it from being too clear making it seem that that moment between Vantika and Bashir was merely a red herring.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
Odo gets a chance to demonstrate his own method of security by using Quark’s own greed against him. This back and forth between the two characters becomes its own sub-story over time with them acting as foils respectful of one another. It many ways they are the odd couple of the Star Trek universe, always at odds but always keeping one another in balance.
We meet George Primmin in this episode as the Starfleet Security Officer. He will return.
When Dax and Bashir discuss the chance that Rao Vantika may have transferred his brain patterns to Kajada, there is a mention of Vulcans being able to transfer their Katra to another like Spock did to McCoy in Star Trek The Wrath of Khan.
This is the second time Odo offers his resignation in the series, in this instance with him being uncertain of his place as security chief on the station. While he gets his reassurance from Sisko that nothing is changing, this will certainly not be the last time. Dude wears his heart on his sleeve or where ever a shapeshifter wears his heart…
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Late To The Game 10/10/2020 (Originally published 3/13/19)
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