It’s all in your mind, well in Julian Bashir’s in this case. Originally airing on April 10,1995 this is Distant Voices.
Station Log Stardate Undetermined: Distant Voices.
Trapped in his own mind, Bashir must find a way out before he dies in the real world.
It is a few days before Doctor Bashir’s 30th birthday and he finds himself celebrating with his friend, plain simple Garak who presents the Doctor with a holosuite program of a Cardassian Enigma Tale, despite the Doctor’s dislike for them. Bashir finds himself struggling with his age as, in his mind, it is a marking of the slow march into middle age. Soon the Doctor is approached by Quark who has a client who is looking for Bio-mimetic gel. Julian refuses the request and heads back to the infirmary only to find the Lethean who wanted the gel. The Lethean attacks Julian, rendering the Doctor unconscious via a electro-discharge to the head.
Julian awakes to find himself unable to get into contact with any of the crew. The computer is down and he soon discovers that the station is eerily empty with strange voices whispering in the distance. After noticing a few grey hairs on his temple, he hears crashing noises in Quarks Bar where he finds the frightened Ferengi behind the bar, terrified of whoever or whatever is making the noise. Quark runs just as the coast is clear leaving Bashir alone with the attacker in the empty station.
Exploring further, Bashir soon finds Garak in Odo’s office. Garak is concerned that everyone has vanished from the station and informs the Doctor that the station has been empty for hours. As he talks with Garak, Julian notices the whispering again and soon Garak notes that Bashir’s hair is turning grey. They soon split up to search the station for any other survivors and to solve the mystery of what is going on aboard DS9. Just as Bashir begins investigating the habitat ring, he soon finds himself face to face with the Lethean who attacked him, causing the Doctor to collapse in the turbo lift. Making it up to the next level and escaping the Lethean, the Doctor soon finds other members of the Ops team who are clearly at odds with one another.
Julian instantly determines that there is something wrong with his coworkers as they are not acting like themselves. Just as he begins questioning their veracity, they point out that he looks different, older in fact. Just as they point this out, he begins to hear the voices again, whispers no one else can hear. The group soon find a way to activate the stations systems only to receive a strange audio transmission from outside of the station. The signal informs Julian that he is in a coma, trapped in his own mind with mental images of his own friends.
Soon Julian realizes that, in order to wake up, he and the mental versions of his friends must find a way to repair the station. Just as he figures out what needs to happen, the Lethean appears and kidnaps Dax. Suddenly Julian finds himself playing tennis with Garek with no knowledge of what has happened. Julian heads out to find his friends and soon finds Sisko who represents the Doctors Professionalism. Just as he is escorting the Commander to ops, the Lethean appears and kidnaps Sisko. The Lethean confronts Julian, informing the Doctor that the he will slowly die in his own mind as the Lethean tears apart the Doctors mind one piece at a time.
After seeing Kira and Odo die, representing parts of the Doctors mind, Julian encounters O’Brien who insures the Doctor that he can not win. The Doctor is determined to find a way to survive but this version of Miles is unsure they can succeed. It isn’t long before Julian finds a game in Quarks bar with the Ferengi’s patrons betting on when Bashir is going to die. Just as Julian places a bet that he will survive, the Lethean reappears and begins to chance the Doctor. Julian runs away only to trip in the hall, breaking his hip. Garak arrives and offers to assist the Doctor in his mission. Getting Julian to Ops, they are shocked to find Ops decorated for his Birthday with a Dabo-girl singing him Happy Birthday.
Even though Garak attempts to distract him with the party, Julian demands to be allowed to try to fix the system in order to bypass the disabled systems, getting the station operational again. It isn’t long before Julian realizes that Garak is not there to help him and is, in fact, the Lethean in disguise. After confronting his friend, the Lethean reveals himself and begins to antagonize the aging Doctor. After confronting the creature, Julian returns to the Infirmary to repair himself as the Infirmary is the center of his own world. Soon Julian is able to repair the damage and, after confronting the Lethean, the Doctor soon awakes in the real world much to the surprise of his friends.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
Even though this is the definition of a filler episode, it is a clever one that manages to tell a cool sci fi story without any real outside threat to the station or the crew as a whole. Taking place entirely in Julian Bashir’s mind, we get a chance to really see who the Doctor is through his brain’s interpretations of his friends. In this, we discover that Bashir really never wanted to be a Doctor, in fact he wanted to be a professional Tennis Player, which explains his love of racket ball as well as other competitive sports. Even though Bashir gave in to his families demands of him and accepted a professional career in medicine, he has been left wondering if he made the right decision in life.
With his 30th birthday at hand, he is facing a pre-midlife crisis that manages to manifest itself with the help of the Lethean’s mental attack. Of course, our hero manages to overcome this attack and right himself by the end, but the journey was pretty fun.
One aspect of the show was the aging process. Done subtly at first, we watch as Bashir literally ages before our eyes. I love how they pull this off throughout the episode in such a subtle but poignant way giving us a visual clue as to his physical degradation in the real world.
All in all, cool filler episode that allows for some solid focus on our intrepid Doctor.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- We learn that that Julian’s test error of mistaking a pre-ganglionic fiber for a post-ganglionic nerve was done on purpose. The reason for this is explained at a later date.
- We see more of the growing relationship between Julian and Garak in this one as well, something that will continue throughout the series.
- We are also reminded that he still has some feelings for Jadzia, something that he will unfortunately never really see realized.
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Late To The Game 6/12/2021 (Originally published 7/19/19)
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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