Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Extreme Measures*   Rewatch 
December 19, 2016 7:32 AM - Season 7, Episode 23 - Subscribe

(Series Finale - Part 7 of 9**) [cover showing Bashir and O'Brien wearing jumpsuits and carrying complicated, incomprehensible pieces of tech; in the background, a brain surrounded by Kirby Dots] The fate of the entire galaxy*** at stake! Bashir and O'Brien brave the hidden depths of the dying mind of the deadliest man in the Federation in a desperate gambit to cure Odo! COULD THIS BE THE END OF... THE EPIC SPACE BROS?!? *not this movie **not that Seven of Nine ***well, a big chunk of it, anyway

Memory Alpha loves its wife... but it likes you just a little bit more:

- Ronald D. Moore's decision to bring regulars into the Cardassian Rebellion plot, which had been made during the composition of the episode "When It Rains...", had a serious knock-on effect for "Extreme Measures". For Moore, the most logical choice of characters to send to Cardassia was Kira and Garak. However, David Weddle and Bradley Thompson were already working on "Extreme Measures", which, at this time involved Kira and Odo hunting for a cure to the morphogenic virus. It was suggested that perhaps Kira could go to Cardassia, and Odo and Bashir could try to track down a cure, but Ira Steven Behr felt very strongly that Odo and Kira should not be split up at all during the arc, so it was ultimately decided to use O'Brien and Bashir to hunt for the cure, and send Kira, Garak, and Odo to Cardassia.

- Originally, at the end of the previous episode, "Tacking Into the Wind", Bashir and O'Brien were to set off for a planet which they had come to learn played host to Section 31's headquarters. However, as Weddle and Thompson were working on "Extreme Measures", which focuses on the search for a cure, it quickly became apparent that if too much money was used, there wouldn't be enough for the final episode. As such, they had to scale back the scope of the episode, and they re-located it from a planet to an interior environment. This meant, of course, that Moore had to rewrite the end of "Tacking Into the Wind" so as to set it up properly.

- As explained above, this was originally written to be an Odo episode. Ronald D. Moore stated "Initially, our thought was to have Odo going into Luther Sloan's mind and having a surreal adventure where he eventually ran into Dr. Mora and learn that it was his own "father" who created the changeling disease. Unable to really mine this concept for all it was worth, we junked it and decided to make one final Bashir and O'Brien adventure, but I think maybe we were closer with the original idea."

- Once who was going to be in the episode had been finalized, and how the episode was going to work, the plan was for Sloan's mind to be like a labyrinth, with dark corridors, hidden rooms and traps. However, the Art Department couldn't afford to build the new sets, so they suggested using existing Deep Space 9 sets, but lighting and decorating them in really unusual ways to make them look different. As director Steve Posey explains, "In the beginning we planned to have an Alice in Wonderland kind of experience in Sloan's mind. It was very surreal, and the Art Department and I were very excited about redressing the sets, repainting some of them in a psychedelic style. But then the writers threw in this plot twist where Bashir and O'Brien think they're out of Sloan's mind and back on the station. That meant we had to make everything in Sloan's mind look exactly like it did in reality. If we hadn't it would have been obvious that we were still in his mind. That took some of the fun out of it, at least in the visual sense."

- The scene where Bashir and O'Brien think they are going to die, and O'Brien has trouble telling Bashir how he feels about him recalls the scene in the third season episode "Explorers", where O'Brien almost tells Bashir he loves him, but stops and says, "I really really do not hate you anymore." It also recalls the scene in the fourth season episode "Hippocratic Oath", where O'Brien stops just short of saying he wishes Keiko was more like Bashir.

"As I stand here, reunited with my friends and my family for one last time, I want you, the people I love, to know how sorry I am for all the pain that I've caused you. I've dedicated my life to the preservation and protection of the Federation. This duty, which I carried out to the best of my ability, took precedence over everything else: my parents, my wife, my children. I lived in a world of secrets, of sabotage and deceit. I spent so much time, erasing my movements, covering my tracks, that now as I look back on my life, I find nothing. It's as if I never really existed. I cheated you all out of being in my life, and what's more, I cheated myself as well. Now I know a simple apology won't change that. Still, I feel the need to apologize anyway. No tears, please. My death isn't a tragedy. It's a celebration. In death I can finally step out of the shadows, and prove to myself that I existed, that I lived."

- Luther Sloan

"It's the tunnel."
"What tunnel?"
"Y'know, the tunnel to the great beyond."
"It is. I must say I'm a bit disappointed. I expected it to be a bit more elaborate."

- O'Brien and Bashir
posted by Halloween Jack (9 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
What in the hell happened to this episode? Seriously.

Section 31 stories are typically similar in tone and theme to In the Pale Moonlight: they present us with complex ethical problems that require terrible solutions that are against what our heroes stand for. This could very well have been an excellent episode. Instead we got a muddled action-adventure Bashir and O'Brien story.

Sloan says "It's our actions, not our beliefs that define who we are." Okay, well Bashir comes up with a morally questionable plan to invade Sloan's dying mind. Acting in a way that Section 31 would, and that he would have likely objected to any other episode. Remember, Bashir's the physician who objected to Biomemetic Gel being taken by Sisko in Moonlight. Here, Sisko approves Bashir's plan reluctantly -- and their roles are reversed. O'Brien is along for the ride. But they all know they're on ethically shaky ground. At no point does any character ponder the situation in depth, or talk it through and Bashir and O'Brien don't really acknowledge that what they're doing is wrong. Bashir has been our voice of reason and moral standards in the past -- yet here he's the worst offender. Is that in character?

Maybe it is. Section 31 is trying to commit genocide of the Founders. But the reasoning for Bashir's actions is glossed over, which doesn't feel right.
posted by zarq at 11:07 AM on December 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

I…tolerate this episode. It's easily the worst of the finale, but it's still got William Friggin Sadler, it's got some good Bashir/O'Brien character stuff, and honestly its more intimate focus is kind of a psychological relief in the midst of all these multiple-plot-thread installments. But the more you think about this one, the weaker you realize it is.

Initially, our thought was to have Odo going into Luther Sloan's mind and having a surreal adventure where he eventually ran into Dr. Mora and learn that it was his own "father" who created the changeling disease.

That would've been some fine acting, watching those two face off about that. And a very dark turn for the Odo thread of the finale. Maybe too dark, in light of how his thread ends?

At no point does any character ponder the situation in depth, or talk it through and Bashir and O'Brien don't really acknowledge that what they're doing is wrong.

On this rewatch, I interpreted the scene with Sloan's family to function at least in part as an indication to Bashir and O'Brien that this guy was not a one-note villain; maybe spark some guilt. But I may be giving it a forgiving reading.

Is that in character? Maybe it is. Section 31 is trying to commit genocide of the Founders. But the reasoning for Bashir's actions is glossed over, which doesn't feel right.

Yeah, it might have felt more real if we'd seen some real ethical wrestling from Bashir, maybe beginning with/foreshadowed by him emerging from "Inter Arma" a little less cleanly.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 12:03 PM on December 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

I agree that they could have connected a few more dots between ethically-pure Bashir and let's-fire-up-the-ol'-Romulan-thumbscrews Bashir. My interpretation of the end of "Inter Arma" was that he didn't buy Sloan's proffered rationalization that the willingness of S31 to do the dirty work let people like Bashir keep their hands clean, because Bashir's silence was participation enough, and the acceptance of that fact may have prepped him to be willing to bend or break the rules to take down people who were doing even worse things; this is, after all, the guy who lied (at least by omission) about his genetically-engineered status to get into Starfleet, and who was permitted to stay by a bending of those rules. The person that he might have had that conversation with was Admiral Ross, the same guy who will balk (in a couple of episodes) at toasting over the bodies of millions of dead Cardassians.

As with other episodes that could have been improved, it's easy to say things like that now, and as the excerpts from Memory Alpha show, the showrunners ran into several problems and dead ends when breaking this episode, so I have some sympathy for them. Still, though, I don't think that we really needed one more awkward profession of affection between the Space Bros instead of any number of other bits of business that the episode could have taken care of.

As far as the scene with Sloan's family goes, I think that it's probably both a sincere expression of regret at the sacrifices that he's had to make to further his career with S31 and a gambit to keep Bashir at bay until his brain dies. He's just as willing to use the tattered remains of his own life as a weapon as he is, at the end, to tempt Bashir with the real secrets of S31 in an attempt to keep him there until the end. And that's the real key to the episode: ultimately, it's a Bashir episode, no matter how much Epic Space Bros fanservice got thrown in. And the thing that made Bashir as genetic superman work is that it provided a factor in his personality that could be either complementary or opposing to his basic goodness and high ethical standards; for example, he could say that he wanted to cure the Jem'Hadar's dependence on ketracel white because it was just wrong of the Founders to do that, but it was also the sort of medical puzzle that only he could solve. When the Jack Pack rolled into the station, as misfitty as they were, they spoke to him on that level and convinced him, for a short while, that the smart thing to do would be to surrender to the Dominion. (I wonder if, had Khan thawed out in the twenty-fourth century, he could have convinced Bashir that maybe things would be better if they were in charge.) And I think that that's the part of him that digs the idea of being 007, of being just a little smarter, faster, or more ruthless than anyone else. I think that Sloan realized that, and even if Bashir didn't take the bait right away, he kept the line out. O'Brien's real function here, as in "Statistical Probabilities", was as a conscience prompt/reality check, since he can see how Sloan is manipulating Bashir right up to the absolute end.

So, yeah, with a little more refinement, this could have been the same sort of watershed moment that Damar and Worf got last episode. Oh, well.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:48 PM on December 19, 2016 [4 favorites]

And having relieved myself of the big wad-o-text above, I realize now that my evocation of 60s Marvel Comics above the cut has its own hidden meaning: Bashir's basic conflict could be expressed as wanting to be Steve Rogers vs. wanting to be Reed Richards.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:51 PM on December 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've always really liked this one, I think it's a classic. And I think the whole "awkward profession of affection between the Space Bros" is a lovely way to essentially say farewell to this pair. (They're gonna split up in a couple of episodes, and against all odds they've evolved into one of the great friendships in Trek.) Bashir has always been more open than O'Brien is ready to deal with, and in their dying moments their relationship is stripped to its essence. O'Brien may well feel the same way, but he's just not going to go there. It's their "It was written all over his back."

I love the Sloan stuff, the way he stays a tricksy, contradictory figure to his dying breath. No matter how deep inside his brain you go, he's still a creepy enigma. It's true, having it be Odo finding Dr. Mora in there could have been a killer episode. But Sloan has always bedeviled Bashir, not Odo, so it makes sense to have Bashir be wandering around in Sloan's head at the end. (Plus we get one last adventure for the guys.) They still could have had Mora be the guy behind the virus, but... damn, that would have been a dark, dark capper to Odo and Mora's tortured relationship. I can see Mora doing that, but I kind of prefer to leave those characters with the grudging respect they earned. The series finale had enough heartbreak already!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:00 AM on December 20, 2016 [4 favorites]

I don't think that we really needed one more awkward profession of affection between the Space Bros

I dunno, I think I'm with Ursula here. It was a good idea to do this, in terms of meshing their relationship with the morphogenic virus storyline. Was it strictly necessary? No, probably not—the Bros get some very good moments in the finale too. But OTOH, had they not done this, the characters would've had noticeably less to do overall during the finale arc, absent huge structural changes that it sounds like the writers would've been unable to make.

I wonder if, had Khan thawed out in the twenty-fourth century, he could have convinced Bashir that maybe things would be better if they were in charge.

What a bromance THAT would've been. They'd have bonded over being British Indian and Indian Mexican. Jean-Luc, the local British Frenchman, would try to come over and play, only to be spurned.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 4:21 AM on December 20, 2016 [5 favorites]

Section 31 are unbelievably spooky mirrors of the worst impulses of the US government (and empire generally). Think about it: suppose the morphogenic virus had done its job... (and this is a question I don't recall anyone considering in-universe, I note) What would have happened next? How quickly would the Jem Hadar have overthrown the Vorta, seized control of Ketracel White production, and taken the reins of power themselves? And then what? The Jem Hadar were built only for warfare; how would they have behaved as rulers? How long before they fragmented and turned the entire Gamma Quadrant into a lawless warlord zone, with each soldier vying for the position of Jem Hadar First at any cost? What would life be like for the other Gamma Quadrant races?

Or suppose that somehow, the Vorta managed to stave off this possibility; what would that entail? How much more brutal would their grip on the Jem Hadar have to become in order to neutralize them as a threat? How much more bloodthirsty and cruel their empire? Or is there a possibility they would commit total genocide against the Jem Hadar as an act of self-preservation? Could they even conceive of doing this, considering it would leave them defenseless?
posted by duffell at 5:21 AM on May 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

Point being, whether it's Section 31, the CIA, whoever--none of them are thinking about the kind of future they're creating in the aftermath of all this wreckage.
posted by duffell at 5:22 AM on May 4, 2019

Ultimately I think this is an okay episode, but it sticks out like a sore thumb in the context of the 9-episode arc. It's a standalone episode that could have been done at any point in the season, with any macguffin as the thing they needed to find in Sloan's Brain.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 11:31 AM on August 27, 2023

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