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Star Trek DS9 - Season 3 - Episode 13

Star Trek DS9 - 3x13 - Life Support

Originally Aired: 1995-1-30

Bashir must use questionable methods in order to keep Vedek Bareil alive long enough to help bring about a Bajoran peace treaty with Cardassia. [DVD]

My Rating - 6

Fan Rating Average - 5.16

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Filler Quotient: 0, not filler, do not skip this episode.
- Numerous major long term plot threads are serviced here.

- Bashir claims removing the rest of Bareil's brain and replacing it with a positronic matrix would remove the "last bit of humanity he has left." Shouldn't that be Bajoranity or something? Bareil is clearly not human.

- This episode establishes that there are many things about the brain still not fully understood in the 24th century.
- Interestingly, Bareil's brain replacements are positronic, the same as Data's brain. Cool continuity.
- Jake and Nog as "arrested" on charges of stealing from a Tholian ambassador. The Tholians were first featured in TOS: The Tholian Web.

Remarkable Scenes
- Bareil's death and return from the dead.
- Nog being a chauvinist pig.
- Bashir laying into Kai Winn.
- Sisko encouraging Jake to make up with Nog.
- Bashir: "The brain has a spark of life that can't be replicated."
- Odo arresting Jake and Nog.
- Nog: "I don't even know what a Tholian looks like!"
- Jake and Nog making up.
- Odo leaving Jake and Nog in the jail cell for a while.
- Kira pleading with Bashir to keep Bareil alive by removing the rest of his brain and replacing it with a positronic matrix.

My Review
I have mixed feelings about this episode. Bareil's decision to sacrifice his life help Winn was frankly foolish, but was nicely symbolic in many ways. Bareil's death once again demonstrates his humility. He threw away his chance to become Kai, and now he throws away his life to help make peace with an enemy. Another good point is that Bareil's death frees Odo to pursue Kira. Another high point is once again Kai Winn is manipulating events. It's almost as if she had Bareil's death planned. Maybe she even sabotaged their ship! Okay, maybe that's a little paranoid. But man. Winn just exudes evil! Overall, I'm pleased with the episode, despite how annoyed I am with Bareil's behavior. An otherwise intelligent man throws his life away unnecessarily and a fun character is wasted prematurely.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From EKH on 2008-01-12 at 5:53pm:
    I think we can assume that Star Trek has been "re-dubbed" for a modern audience, and that Bashir actually uses a term we wouldn't recognize. Otherwise, the language of the future represents a huge break of realism.
  • From Benjamin Baxter on 2008-07-13 at 12:15am:
    There are also several occurrences of "man" in the series that could be explained away with the above explanation.
  • From JRPoole on 2009-02-08 at 3:16pm:
    I hate to see Bareil die in such a seemingly pointless way, but the character had to be killed off. He's just too humble, too pure, to be interesting.
  • From A. Rust on 2009-04-18 at 11:43am:
    I find Bareil's decision neither meaningless nor foolish. His people were constantly haunted by the shadow of Cardassian Occupation and the only way to totally move forward was through a process of forgiveness of the enemy. Though Bashir may have been right in his analysis of Winn's less than noble motivations, I think Bareil would have been in sympathy with her statement that one man's life meant little in comparison to what could be gained. Having not gotten further in the series, I don't know if his sacrifice is in fact meaningful in the long term, but as Kira observes at the end, he was comfortable with his confusion and made the best choice he could for his people under the circumstances. While I think the episode could have had more scenes of drama at the negotiating table to reinforce what he was fighting for, I found Bareil's sacrifice both noble and totally consistent with is character.
  • From Azalea Jane on 2021-12-06 at 11:58am:
    I don't think Bareil was being foolish. Some things are worth dying for. He couldn't live with himself knowing he didn't do everything he could, especially if the talks had failed in his absence. In his own way, he went out fighting. Kira would have died for her cause as a freedom fighter too. I also think Bashir was being rather bullheaded, stubbornly and myopically trying to prolong Bareil's life and ignoring the various reasons it's not so simple.

    I really think the original writers of the Ferengi painted themselves into a corner with the Ferengis' over-the-top misogyny. In a different episode, Quark protests that the Ferengi have never had slavery, but that's false on its face: they continue to treat half their population as slaves/livestock when we know full well that female Ferengi have equivalent mental abilities to the men. I can't exactly blame Nog for being the product of his culture, but I can't entirely let him off the hook, either. The writers were right to point this out in the dialogue, of course; it just seems half-hearted. It's treated as an annoyance rather than a moral emergency. It's like nobody really cares too much that this species is keeping half its population in a state of abject bondage and degradation for no logical reason. It's almost played for laughs here. Yeah, sexism is absurd, but it's not all that funny. At least, it's not funny to those of us who experience it as a fact of life. (Thanks, Rick Berman.)

    Winn seemed unusually not-evil in this episode to me. She really seemed sincere! It added some character depth. One reason for that might be that, according to Memory Alpha, Louise Fletcher was rather ill during filming and couldn't quite bring herself to act the nasty and conniving overtones usually present with Winn. It's quite telling how useless Winn is in this situation, though. She managed to become Kai but can't handle the heat. Whoops! Bad luck, Adami! Gosh, I hope she doesn't freak out and do anything reckless later.

    The "humanity" thing bothered me too; I suppose I'll have to assume he meant something like "humanoid-ity." Lazy writing in an otherwise quite interesting and important episode. Good call in killing off Bareil, too. He became sort-of interesting, but he became even more interesting as a quasi-martyr. Bareil would have been a great Kai for Bajor, but Winn is a much better Kai for storytelling. :)

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