DS9: S1E04: “Babel”

In which Captain Mustache demands to see the manager, Sisko is the manager you’ve always hated, and Bashir needs better time management. 

Some dudes appear to be trapped in the docking ring, and O’Brien is working on it. Are transporters also down, or just to energy-expensive to use here? Actually, scratch that. If I’m on a space station where the doors don’t work, I don’t want them to risk the beam that chops me up into little pieces and reassembles me on the other side. O’Brien’s advice strikes me as supremely unhelpful, but then again I don’t know how these things work so I couldn’t say what they were doing aside from checking the power couplings.

The 'I Want To Speak To A Manager' mustache.

The ‘I Want To Speak To A Manager’ mustache.

One of the services Deep Space Nine provides is, apparently, tune-ups. This has to be some kind of interstellar law, because obviously if the doors are broken, they have no business promising repairs to passing ships. The time budgeting overruns are clearly getting O’Brien to remember fondly his days getting shot at by Cardassians.

O’Brien has been run ragged all day fixing all the Cardassian nonsense, and just when he thinks he’s about to get some rest, Sisko’s coffee is too gross so now it’s time to fix the replicators, all the while muttering about how much more peaceful it would be on a cargo drone. It’s nice to know that cargo drones are a thing, and that nobody really needs a fleet of highly-trained and highly-specialized crew to run the space-trucks. He finally gets a good cup going, and we get to see what the inside of a Cardassian replicator that’s probably been sabotaged looks like.

Quark’s is empty, because his replicators are also broken. Somehow, this particular level of brokenness just means things taste bad, rather than being poisonous or replecated without their servingware.

Cardassian computer interfaces appear to use crystalline memory sticks for authentication, and of course Quark has some that give him access he shouldn’t have. I could easily expect him to have gotten them back when the Cardassians ran the station, but the station computer currently uses the standard Starfleet Computer Voice, which was donated by the Daughter of the Fifth House, Holder of the Sacred Chalice of Riix, and Heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed. From this I would have assumed that when the Federation took over they flashed the BIOS and replaced all the hard drives (as well as sending all the old storage to Starfleet Intelligence to do data forensics on what the Cardassians left behind). What I’m getting at is that Quark’s stolen access shouldn’t work unless he bought them recently. Who in Starfleet is so hard-up that they’d sell command access to Quark?

O’Brien has been working too hard – he’s got a fever and momentary bouts of aphasia. Make that sustained bouts of aphasia. Time to go see the doctor. O’Brien is both unable to speak and write, but all of his tests indicate he should be normal. No evidence of brain trauma, et cetera. Problematically, he’s been everywhere on the ship, so tracking down the problem won’t be easy. Also, Dax, the science officer, is also showing signs of problems.

Sure, we could talk about why Bashir is using a powerpoint animation instead of something that could actually convey information, but I'd much rather ask why a good 65% of the screen real estate is blocked by that stupid circular overlay.

Sure, we could talk about why Bashir is using a powerpoint animation instead of something that could actually convey information, but I’d much rather ask why a good 65% of the screen real estate is blocked by that stupid circular overlay.

Because Dax developed it literally in front of the rest of the command staff, Bashir reasons it has to be a disease induced aphasia, rather than head trauma. He finds a virus which is randomly rerouting neural impulses and causing words to mean different things to people. Which suggests, since Dax ate at Quark’s, and Quark seems to be tapping into one of the replicators O’Brien fixed, that the aforementioned sabotage is causing this.

With this new disease going around, the whole station is on lockdown and quarantine. The guy with the mustache is also demanding to leave, but he has a moment that de-jerkifies him, so that’s all right.

Bashir is narrowing in – the food is the culpret, but of course all food is replicated and all replicators have bio-filters, so definitely that little device in the replicator. Or at least it was. Now it’s airborne, because screw you.

"I have discovered the ultimate tool for pranking. I promise only to use this power for evil."

“I have discovered the ultimate tool for pranking. I promise only to use this power for evil.”

Now that it will no longer be directly helpful, Kira has found the device – a little microcomputer that incorporates the virus’ pattern into food. The device, despite being sleek grey plastic instead of angular brown plastic, is apparently Cardassian technology. Seems they didn’t want the Federation or the Bajorans to have too easy a time taking over the station.

One would think at this point that the Federation would send a relief ship over to replicate mass amounts of food and equip some engineers with MOPP gear to do a full sweep of the station.

Bashir has apparently studied Cardassian genetic engineering and this virus doesn’t fit the pattern. Instead, Bashir indicates that this virus was built and installed when the station was built, 18 years ago, so now they need to track down the person who designed the virus.

The Bajoran nurse should be shot. When treating patients with aphasia, the proper response to one of them trying to drag you somewhere urgently is to grab your gear and go with, not to stop, shake them off, and ask “what is it.” This is marginally less effective than when they would do that with Lassie. As could have been predicted, the virus has taken a turn for the worse. My particular question, which I hope gets answered when the find the bioweapon designer is – why aphasia? Why not comas or immediate death?

Kira is tracking down the paper trail for the virus’ probable designer, and eventually tracks down a highly-placed medical officer who doesn’t want to talk to her. My guess is she’s going to beam the dude onto a runabout and expose him to the virus to coerce cooperation. While she’s gone, Captain Mustache tries to take his ship out of dock and winds up just taking it out instead. The docking clamps are stuck, the ship rips itself apart, and Sisko is succumbing to the virus.

Odo gets Quark to beam him over to the airlock to blow the docking clamps manually, and the Bajoran who has only a passing familiarity with the virus is able to synthesize an antidote within about five minutes of sitting down in front of a computer, and everything is back to normal, including Sisko demanding that his chief of engineering drop everything to fix the coffee machine.

Did we miss something awesome?