In which Kira gets a Ripley moment, freeze frame solves the mystery, and nobody ever reads the logs.
We’re on a runabout. Kira and Bashir are talking about how imprecise tricorders are, and Bashir is being very smug about his most recent medical triumph, and manages to turn Kira from impressed to inches from punching him in the face in the space of three sentences. He has a gift. As is so often the case, a major cast member is saved from a well-deserved ass-beating by a distress call, and they hurry their runabout over to the rescue.
I like runabouts. They’re sleeker and more capable than shuttlecraft designed for a ship that does Warp 9.6 as a sustainable cruising speed. One got the sense with shuttlecraft that they only existed so that the Enterprise could either a) drop someone off at the edge of a solar system and warp away or b) get the cast into trouble that they couldn’t immediately transport out of. The runabout design is much more plausible for a short-range transport that isn’t meant to tread new ground, so it doesn’t need all the fancy engine tricks and sensor suite that the Galaxy-class takes for granted.
I digress. Kira and Bashir beam over to a ship which is rapidly filling with toxic gas. Yet another reason the runabout is great – it’s a lot more plausible that they don’t have gas masks or the ability to replicate gas masks than if they were on a ship that needs to be run by more than one person. Kira goes to try to save the ship, Bashir wakes up the surviving crewwoman, and Bashir insists on saving their dangerous prisoner, too. He doesn’t quite manage it, as the dude expires after grabbing Bashir by the throat, which somehow interrupted the computer-controlled transport.
O’Brien should take a look at that, incidentally. It’s one thing for DS9 to malfunction hilariously – it’s Cardassian hardware with Federation software and some horrifying BIOS built on the skulls of dead Bajorans sitting in between them. But Runabouts are pure Federation tech, and we should be worried when the computer doesn’t beam you out properly.
Nothing catastrophic happened on the way back home, and Bashir wakes his patient up. She’s worried because the prisoner was headed to the station, and is not particularly reassured that the prisoner is dead and the body in stasis. She, Kajada, is not convinced he, Vintaka, is dead, as he’s faked his death before and is a very innovative murderer-slash-vampire. Just to be sure, Kajada stabs the corpse with a big ol’ knife that Bashir had lying around. I would’ve gone with cutting off the head, personally. It’s more universal – sometimes the stabby thing has to be wood, sometimes silver. Decapitations are something of a cure-all, mystically speaking.
Quark continues to pine over Jadzia. Odo continues to indicate that Quark is crazy, in one of those conversations that quickly turns into a philosophical discussion. Odo, as the only one of his kind he knows about, is used to being alone. Quark believes that wanting things – and people – you can’t have is good, which is a cornerstone of philosophy every Ferengi we’ve seen so far seems to share. And just as quickly, it migrates out into Odo warning Quark off a scheme before getting told off by a Starfleet Security stuffed shirt.
The scheme may have been about a Duridium shipment, which is a substance vital for the survival of the Kobalid species. Kobalids are the species that Kajada and Vintaka belong to, which is why Vintaka wanted to come here. Sisko is agreeing to all due caution, but Starfleet types stick together, more or less. Less, actually, since Sisko is sure to remind Starfleet Security that things are different out on the border. The Federation is still desperately courting the Bajoran government and hoping not to make a disasterous treaty that includes, say, unilateral extradition.
Odo and the starfleet security guy kiss and make up just in time to discover that the computer’s active memory has been purged, which is exactly Vantika’s M.O. Knowing that, anyone who’s kept up with the most interesting Starfleet Mission Logs might suspect a possession of some kind. Then again, Bashir is the most obvious candidate as the only one who had physical contact with Vantika when he was alive, so he’s not going to tell. And Sisko probably didn’t spend a lot of time reading the mission logs of the guy who killed his wife.
Side note: Odo locked out the files related to the Deridium shipment, but apparently nobody thought to lock out the function Drop Table *;. There’s a cute moment where Odo and the Starfleet guy, Primmin, go for their badges at the same time, but Odo doesn’t find it cute,a nd demands a clear chain of command. Sisko is sufficiently savvy that he gives final say in security matters to the shapeshifting local authority who has the confidence of the local government. Also, burying the lead a bit here, Dax found a chip with a map of a brain on it.
Quark is cleaning his bar when he’s taken by someone dressed all in black except, for about three frames, for their face. They seem to be Vantika, but if you have slightly more luck than I did going frame-by-frame you could confirm what I can only guess at: that Bashir has been posessed by the mad scientist/life vampire Vantika and that the a balaclava was way too hot under the studio lights.
Jadzia is able to confirm that Vantika was working on this technology: Synaptic Pattern Displacement is a thing that Vulcans can do and nobody else can reliably replicate. You’ll recall Spock did it that one time. She’s convinced that Vantika is hiding in Kajada, which would make way more sense if mental patterns required the closest possible wetware match. But that’s clearly not the case.
Of note: Odo has the option to manually deny egress to anyone in his office. A useful feature, but it pisses Kajada off enough to go sneaking around Quark’s place and she falls off a balcony. Or was pushed. The medical bay has the technology to repair moderate spinal damage, but apparently not severe spinal damage, such as that caused by trying to move around too much and shredding the nerve column.
Dax is looking for the method by which Vantika transferred his consciousness, and has found a nano-device under his nail – sort of a consciousness escape pod or a techno-horcux. Incidentally, techno-horcrux is the name of my goth-metal Harry Potter band.
Following Quark’s thread, he sends his mercenaries to the runabout that Vantika has somehow acquired security access to by way of being inside Doctor Bashir’s head. Good timing on the reveal. Dax goes to the infirmary to try to find him, but only finds his commbadge. From this we must conclude that Vantika’s control is shaky at best – a clever criminal would have stowed the commbadge somewhere other than on a countertop in the infirmary, so that anyone looking for Bashir wouldn’t immediately know something was wrong. Beam it to a room with enough large equipment so that it takes at least a few minutes to prove he’s not actually there, maybe.
Odo tracks down Primmin, who wasn’t where he was supposed to be but was where he needed to be to find a sabotage device in the backup sewer system set to shut down the station. Odo seems to have a newfound respect for Starfleet security, which makes one of us. I’ll give him a solid counterintelligence job, but it was way more of an engineering task than a tactical one.
The Deridium freighter looks like nothing we’ve ever seen before. The architecture has some design elements that showed up in the middle of a computer core on the Enterprise once, but the hull and command room look nothing like standard Federation design. Nor do the uniforms resemble Starfleet. They are uniforms, however, so it’s unlikely to be a civilian-run freighter. But they’re also running the LCARS interface, which is the hallmark of Federation Software UI. The most likely way to explain this is that the freighter was built by a Federation member race independently, and then retrofitted with Federation software.
We’ll never know, though, because the mercs kill everyone on board with purple lightning disruptors.
I can’t help noticing that at this point in his career, Siddig El Fadil (Alexander Siddig) is really not up to the task of pretending to be someone living in another pretend person’s body. I don’t like to break the fourth wall like this, but it had to be said, and I said it. He gets better, I promise. It also probably would have helped if Vantika had any scenes to establish his personality in his own body first.
I digress. The station didn’t shut down and grabs the freighter in a tractor beam. Vantika holds Bashir’s body hostage against the release of the freighter. I guess the mercenaries don’t mind him threatening to blow up the ship, because rather than mutiny and beat him unconscious, they leave it up to Dax to run a pulse along the tractor beam that does science at him. They barely make it, too, before Vantika reasserts himself.
In order to cure him, Dax has programmed a transporter to beam out any glial cells in Bashir’s brain that show evidence of Vantika’s tampering. We’re just going to put a big old ‘you fail biology forever’ stamp on that for the fact part and then point out that not only is transporter surgery apparently an established phenomenon, transporter brain surgery can be easily accomplished by a 26-year-old science officer without a medical degree. I will simply have to presume that the Dax symbiont has something relevant to add here that prevented us from getting a lobotomized doctor eight episodes into the show. This was, after all, prior to the era where you could set someone up to be a main character and then immediately kill them.
Bashir didn’t manage to kill Kajada while she was in medical restraints, so when they return custody of Vantika’s new pitri dish, she summarily executes it. Screw you, roll credits.