It is a struggle of ethics and cultures in the episode that originally aired on January 30,1995. This is Life Support.
Station Log Stardate 48498.4 Life Support
After a tragic accident, Bashir desperately tries to save the life of Vedek Bareil as a peace treaty between the Bajorans and the Cardassians is coming to a close. Meanwhile Jake and Nog discover there are big differences between their two cultures.
Story A: Bareil’s Legacy
Rushing to the airlock, Bashir and Odo find a Bajoran transport in desperate need of assistance. Rushing aboard they find Vedek Bareil has been wounded and Bashir takes the Vedek to the infirmary while Odo notifies Kira of the situation.
Upon reaching the infirmary, they learn through Kai Winn that she believes the accident to have been the result of sabotage. As she leaves to discuss the matter with Sisko, Bashir desperately tries to save the life of Vedek Bareil. In Sisko’s office, Winn informs the Commander that the Bajoran’s have been secretly holding peace talks with the Cardassians for nearly five month. They were on their way to the final talks when the accident occurred. Winn is concerned that without Bareil, there is every chance that their work will collapse.
Bashir informs Kira that Bareil has died as he has done all he can but the radiation damage was too much. Kira is clearly upset but goes back to duty as that is the only way she can cope with the situation. Returning to the surgery, Bashir finds that Bareil is still alive but only very close to death. Julian deduces that he may be able to revive the Vedek if he is able to make a connection between his brain and his body. Conducting a last minute surgery, he manages to revive his patient, informing Kai Winn and Kira that the Vedek should be back on his feet in a few weeks.
Despite Julian’s objections, Kai Winn makes it clear that she will need Vedek Bareils’ help to continue the negotiations. Kira is only happy that the man she loves has survived.
Bashir soon informs Bareil that, due to the surgery, the Vedek’s internal organs have been damages and he will not live long without placing him into stasis. Bareil refuses to be placed in stasis with the peace talks approaching and Bashir suggests a risky treatment that could kill him in only a few days time. Vedek Bareil requests the treatment citing that he needs to heed the call of the prophets to finish his work.
At the negotiation table, Sisko has agreed to step in as an impartial arbiter. Legate Turrel insists that, in order to reach a peace treaty, the Bajorans must agree to return ALL Cardassian property to the Cardassians. After taking a recess, she reveals that she can not do this without Bareil.
Consulting with a clearly ill Bareil, Winn insists that Bashir give the Vedek more medicine to make him able to work with her. After being rejected, Winn reluctantly leaves his side. Bashir informs Bareil that the new medicine has damaged his internal organs to a point of no return, Bareil insists that the Doctor do anything he can to get them through the negotiations, no matter the cost.
After replacing the damaged organs, Bashir visits Winn with a plea to her to tell Bareil that she does not need him so that he will take the time to heal. Even though he explains that keeping the Vedek awake and aware, her use of him is killing Bareil. It is then that Bashir realizes that Winn is only using Bareil as a scapegoat should the negotiations fail.
Soon Bashir discovers Winn in the infirmary with Bareil screaming in pain. Julian soon finds that there is irreparable brain damage and it looks like Bareil is to far gone to survive. Winn suggests that they use positronic implants to keep the Vedek alive so that he can finish the peace talks. Bashir reluctantly agrees when Kira insists that the surgery be done.
Bareil is awakened with the Positronic brain implant and it is soon clear he is no longer the same man he once was. Soon Kai Winn announces that the treaty has been signed between the Cardassians and the Bajorans with the final assistance by Vedek Bareil. During the celebration, Bashir is summoned to the infirmary where they discover that the Vedek’s remaining brain is shutting down. Bashir refuses to replace the remaining part of Bareil with a machine and Kira is forced to say goodbye to her friend and lover.
Story B: Jake and Nog are Friends
Jake runs into an old friend, Leanne, on the promenade. Jake is excited when the two decide to go out later the next evening for a date at the Klingon Restaurant.
Soon Jake informs Nog that he can not attend their Dom-Jot game much to the Ferengi’s dismay. When Jake promises to have Leanne bring a date for Nog, the young Ferengi is excited at the change, citing a personal rule of acquisition, Money is money, but women are better.
During the date, it soon becomes apparent that Nog is not used to dealing with non-Ferengi females. After insisting that his date cut up his food and the four of them participate in a violent holosuite program, the girls storm off, making it clear that they are not happy. As soon as they leave, Nog blames Jake for ruining the date and the two storm off from one another.
The next day, at dinner, Ben Sisko learns of the situation and suggests that Jake and Nog need to talk before any further damage is done to their friendship. Jake soon goes to Odo to have himself arrested with he and Nog placed in the same holding cell, preventing them from being separated. Before long Nog determines the reason they are trapped in the holding cell. Jake apologizes for the events of the previous night telling his friend that he doesn’t think of Nog as a Ferengi. They both soon find that they have cultural differences that disgust each other and the two agree that double-dating is officially off the table. Making up, they call for Odo, only to find themselves trapped…indefinitely.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
This is an odd one. While the A/B story line style is pretty common on the series, typically they interconnect at a point to make them relevant to one another. While each story is solid in it’s own right, they seem to be a huge mismatch tonally. On one side we have a very sad story about a man determined to finish his job as his body betrays him, and on the other we have an interesting, and humorous, exploration of cultural norms. Having both the sorrowful and the humorous stories on the same episode somewhat diminishes them both.
For the A Story, in which we have named Bareil’s Legacy, we find even more how deep Kai Winn’s greed and lust for power can go. Knowing full well that her use of Vedek Bareil will result in his death, she does not care, claiming that it is the will of the Prophets that he be allowed to continue. Time and again Winn uses the Prophets as an excuse and fallback to get what she wants as she knows, with her being the Kai, no one would dare argue with her. This shows just how corrupt she is and has become in her position, making he a horribly dangerous person for Bajor and the Federations. The only reason she has to keep Bareil alive is simply to have a scapegoat should the negotiations fail as she knows she is simply not skilled enough to have them on her own.
Additionally we see Kira who, using Bareil’s desire to finish his work as a crutch, encourages Bashir to keep her friend and lover alive. For purely selfish reasons, she agrees with Kai Winn and, even when performing a final surgery will only result in destroying what is left of her lover, she pushes to keep him alive any way possible. It is clear that she is not ready to let go and, even though she would regret it, in that moment she is ready to sacrifice everything to keep him alive if only physically. Kira has lost a lot in her life, from her home, to her family and now, one of the few people she has ever opened up with.
Finally there is Bareil himself. Vedek Bareil is one of the only pure people we have seen in the Vedek Assembly. Bareil is a man who truly wants what is best for his people no matter what the cost. Having no political or sociable motivation other than altruistic motives, Vedek Bareil is the one person who could have led Bajor into a new age, but due to his dedication, even that was put aside to protect Bajor from itself. In many ways he was the antithesis for Kai Winn and, with him gone, there is little stopping her in her rise to power.
The one problem I have with this story is the mention of a Positronic Brain. It has been fairly established that a Positronic brain is something that is still being pursued and that only a few have been invented, i.e. Data, Lore, etc. Even when Data attempted the construction of one, this experiment only resulted in the death of his own Daughter, Lal. So, when Bashir casually mentions he could replace Bareil’s damaged brain with a positronic one, I have to wonder, where did he get this technology? I mean, if such a thing were possible you would think it would have been mentioned in some conversation with Data and the fact Data existed wouldn’t be as miraculous as they make it out to be. That and would a person with a Positronic Brain even be a person anymore? I mean, Data has faced that debate numerous times so, this would make that even more complicated. This is never made clear and is never brought up again but I think the writers didn’t quite think this one through all the way.
Story B, dealing with Jake and Nog, is also a terrific story on it’s own. In fact it does more to explore cultural differences and, setting them aside, than much of Star Trek as a whole. Never in the history of the franchise has there been a solid relation between Human and Ferengi Cultures making Jake and Nog’s friendship all that more impressive. In fact, this episode marks a major turning point for Nog, leading him to become a very important character later in the series. As a B story, you cant get much better than this one, but it still didn’t quite fit in with Bareil’s story.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
This isn’t the last we hear of the Bajoran/Cardassian peace treaty. Did you really think it would be that easy?
Apparently the Klingon Restaurant is still open, we just never see our Klingon Chef again in the series.
Although Vedek Bareil dies, this isnt the last we see of actor Philip Anglim…
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Late To The Game 5/23/2021 (Originally published 7/8/19)
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