DS9: S6E09: “Statistical Probabilities”

In which Bashir meets his cohort. 

The dramatis personae, a study in character design.

The dramatis personae, a study in character design.

The establishing shot is of Deep Space Nine, with perhaps more traffic around it than usual, but we quickly cut to an agitated man in a conference room. He, Jack is very clearly not neurotypical, and the rest of his compatriots also have varied personality highlights as well. They are, in fact, genetically engineered, and here to see Doctor Bashir. Like him, they’re all enhanced, but unlike Bashir, they can’t pass. The rest of them are Patrick who is the human embodiment of anxiety, Lauren who is wearing all red and lying across a bench-couch, and Sarina who is silently examining a wall. When Jack makes their prior handler bleed with the broken glass from a Padd, it’s clear that Bashir’s going to have his work cut out for him.

Bashir walks in on a darkened cargo bay, and gets the full force of Jack and Lauren right in the face. Jack had a full body overhaul that lets him do standing flips, as well as clearly enhanced mental capabilities that, unbalanced, make him constantly tweak like he’s on cocaine. They all know the reason that genetic tampering is forbidden – the beneficiaries of gengineering once tried to take over, so now they lock up the people who commission it and the unfortunate recipients are prevented from attaining positions of power, authority, or importance.  Jack drives him off with his generally abrasive personality, but they have weeks to get to know each other.

Bashir discusses this experience over dinner at Sisko’s with the rest of the senior staff. The kids were obviously atypical by age six at the latest (one shudders to consider Lauren as a six-year-old vamp) and since the Federation has so little experience dealing with this sort of thing, there was very little the Institute could do other than assign them a case worker and hope real hard. O’Brien jokes about the Working Man’s concern of the Enhanced Taking Err Jerbs, and Worf responds with a summary of GATTACA. It’s a touchy subject on which everyone has opinions, so after Bashir reminds everyone that they happen to know ‘one of those people’ they turn the topic to Gul Damar’s next press release. Bashir is then called away by a hacked comm system.

"Further demands: An all-black suit, continued use of the station's life-support system, and a bedtime no earlier than 7:30."

“Further demands: An all-black suit, continued use of the station’s life-support system, and a bedtime no earlier than 7:30.”

The Augments can all hear an incessant high-pitched whine that only other Augments can hear. Bashir confirms it and Jack immediately escalates to a hostage situation. Serena doesn’t seem too upset about it, either. When O’Brien comes in to verify the noise, Patrick immediately recognizes the problem just in time for Damar’s speech. While watching it, the Augments make a lot of very on-target deductions based on his body language, wording, and correctly deduce that Damar killed his former boss’ daughter and is enthralled to a Dark Power, all in fairy tale terms. This gives Bashir an idea on how to keep the Augments engaged and busy, but he’s already run out of material on Cardassia.

The Dominion, based on Dukat’s speech, is coming to the station to negotiate, and Bashir secures recordings of the talks for the Augments to watch and analyze. The negotiations, recorded in hologram, show that Cardassia is offering large territorial concessions. Operating under the assumption that the Dominion isn’t going to settle for second place, it shouldn’t take a genius to spot that either the Dominion/Cardassian alliance is hurting worse than they’re letting on, or the territorial concession is in service of maintaining a mission-critical element elsewhere.

The recording has a Native Language mode, stripping off the layer of translation provided by the Universal Translator, and at the same time stripping off whatever visual effect makes alien lips appear to produce the correct english phonemes. I’m kind of partial to the idea that members of Starfleet are just so used to the bad over-dubbing effect that nobody notices it anymore. I am in love with the idea of a 24th century Classic Film Buff not noticing that the 1954 american-import version of Gojira even has those dubs. In native language mode, Jack notices a quirk of language, and Patrick notices all the Dominion negotiators avoiding the Kabrel system, indicating they want it. They’re giving up a planet that would keep their shipyards running, because they’re thinking bigger-picture than years’ worth of shipyard supplies. It’s Serena who figures out what they want from the system – Ketracel White supplies. The Augments catching this gives the Federation information on why they want it, but doesn’t let Sisko do anything with that information, since the Dominion would run out of White pretty soon and therefore be forced to attack.

Why can't I hold all these padds?

Why can’t I hold all these padds?

Bashir has helped produce some very detailed and specific analyses, scheduled to the day years in advance. They claim to be more accurate over a longer and longer timeframe, as small variances cancel each other out. The Augments clearly subscribe to the Grand Forces theory of history. As the augments celebrate the good news about their analysis being sent up the chain, it’s evident that Jack’s annoying and threatening ways have cost him in group dynamics.

O’Brien drops by to visit Julian, and the Augments send him off to spend quality time with Bashir. They like O’brien because he’s ‘uncomplicated,’ an island of serenity in a sea of complex people. Julain and Miles banter about what it’s like to be  so far above the common people.

Starfleet Intelligence is so impressed with the Augment projectiosn (presumably by verifying them somehow, since anyone can make predictions if they don’t have to be accurate) that the Augements now have access to Starfleet classified disposition reports. Sadly, the new projections are really bad news. The Federation is doomed, and has to surrender to the Dominion. Sisko really hates this idea, but all the projections show it’s not even going to be close, and continuing to fight means 900 billion casualties followed by an inevitable five-generation Dominion rule before the Earth-led rebellion rises up and lives happily ever after. Now, funnily, this obviously ignores the possibility of outside-context events like Weyoun eradicating all life on Earth. That said, Sisko doesn’t have this birds-eye view, so he has to rely on good old-fashioned stubbornness and refusal to capitulate.  Once Sisko shoots him down, he starts moping around, looking for a pick-me-up from Miles “Life Hates Me” O’Brien, who also does not accept the conclusion. Then he goes on a bender at Dabo, and brings the party down there, too.

Once Starfleet rejects the analysis, Jack suggests providing the Dominion with Starfleet battleplans, which would allow the Dominion to win in weeks with 2 billion casualties instead of over years with 900 billion. This is where Bashir draws the line, and calls attention back to the whole Superior Intellect Equals Superior Ambition problem – Jack will take the responsibility for making this decision even when it’s not given. Note, once again, that Star Trek is humanist, not transhumanist. Unperturbed, Jack punches Bashir out and they proceed to go about the plan anyway.

Things soured fast after the wedding.

Things soured fast after the wedding.

Damar and Weyoun are reviewing the peace process and planning. Weyoun carefully and precisely puts Damar back in his place. Bashir, meanwhile, wakes up tied to a chair, with only Serena left behind. He manages to convince her to let him free, by deducing that Serena likes Jack more than she lets on. While Damar and Weyoun wait for their informant in the cargo bay, they bicker without any of the grace that Dukat had in him. Their informant turns out to be Odo, to spoil their fun.

Bashir has now seen the error of his reliance on the Projections – if Serena could throw a monkey wrench into Jack’s plan over the course of an hour, then either their model itself is way off in its theory, or the people running it have a lot more Outside to their context than they’re aware of. Or maybe that was just a brave face he was putting on. The Dabo wheel, however, seems to want him to learn the uplifting lesson.

Did we miss something awesome?