(written from a Production point of view)
Jack, Lauren, Patrick, and Sarina, the genetically-engineered Humans, return to the station, asking Bashir to help rouse Sarina from her cataleptic state.
On the Promenade, Julian Bashir asks Miles O'Brien to have a drink with him in Quark's. O'Brien declines, being expected home for dinner with his wife Keiko O'Brien and their children but he promises to join him in a holosuite program next Thursday. Bashir turns away and sees Odo and Kira Nerys in formal dress, heading in the direction of the holosuites. He asks if they are going to Vic's lounge, which they affirm, and whether he might join them. They want to enjoy their date alone, however.
Later, Bashir is in bed, working on curing a virus but making no real progress. He puts down his PADD and turns out the lights to go to sleep. He is immediately disturbed by a comm signal calling him to the infirmary. Ensign Nog informs him that a certain Admiral Patrick asks for him. The admiral is revealed to be one of the genetically-engineered savants Bashir had been introduced to the previous year. Jack, Lauren, and they have disguised themselves as Starfleet officers to bring Sarina to the station after learning of Bashir's plans to treat her disorder. When Bashir wonders how they managed the deception, the savants point out that Patrick's admiral's uniform and practice of answering every question with "That's a stupid question." are remarkably effective.
Bashir had been working on a way to cure Sarina's catalepsy, a side effect of the genetic modification to which she was subjected as a child. The genetic therapy succeeded in increasing the neuronal activity in Sarina's cerebral cortex, but the number of synaptic pathways connecting her cortex to the visual and auditory nerve centers were unaffected, leaving her unable to process the information collected by her senses and incapable of focusing on her environment. The surprise arrival of the genetically-engineered Humans at the station has forced Bashir to rush ahead of schedule in modifying the experimental surgical equipment he planned to use to stimulate the growth of new synapses in Sarina's thalamus. Dr. Karen Loews, Sarina's legal guardian, has given her consent to the procedure.
Bashir must also persuade Captain Sisko to allow them to remain on Deep Space 9, which isn't easy, since the last time they were on the station they attempted to give military secrets to the Dominion. Another problem is that Starfleet wants to press charges against the three for impersonating Starfleet officers. However Bashir explains, while they have come to the station masquerading as an admiral and his staff, they meant well. To send them away would be detrimental to Sarina's recovery, since her friends from the Institute are the only familiar faces she has known for fifteen years. Sisko agrees to talk to Starfleet about dropping the charges and arranges for them to be quartered in one of the station's cargo bays, like the last time they were on the station. Sisko also asks Bashir to make sure that the group stay out of trouble this time.
Later, in the infirmary, Bashir and O'Brien contemplate enhancing the neurocortical probe that Bashir planned to use in the operation. To affect the growth of new synapses in Sarina's thalamus, Bashir will need to manipulate her neural proteins at the subatomic level. O'Brien explains that the probe is inadequate for this; even though the probe is the most advanced model available, quantum fluctuations prohibit the desired accuracy at such a level of resolution.
In the cargo bay, Bashir finds Jack, Patrick, and Lauren disassembling the neurocortical probe and tinkering with its components, trying to find a way to "bend" the laws of physics. After many hours, Bashir awakens to find that they have succeeded in recalibrating the imaging diodes of the device, making it more than accurate enough to, in Jack's words "clip the wings of an angel dancing on the head of a pin, if you wanted to." Later in the operating room, Bashir performs the surgery while Sarina's companions await any news.
Unfortunately, there are no immediate signs that the surgery has been successful. Sarina's condition does not improve as expected, and Bashir is sorely disheartened by his failure to help her. Five days later, he is sitting in Quark's with Ezri, lamenting his inability to help her, when Sarina appears on the Promenade outside Quark's, marvelling at the bustle of the station. Bashir rushes out to her. "What are you looking at?" he asks her. To his astonishment, she answers him. "Everything."
When Sarina realizes that Bashir and Dax can hear her speech, she smiles for the first time, amazed that she can interact with the world again.
In the infirmary, Bashir scans Sarina with a medical tricorder, noting that her norepinephrine levels are elevated, which Sarina quickly explains is due to limbic overcompensation for the new thalamic connections. Bashir quickly realizes that she is absolutely right, and Sarina thanks him for having cured her.
Later in the cargo bay, Sarina is reintroduced to her fellow mutants, and after fawning over her, they lead her into singing scales to help her regain a normal speaking voice, which Sarina does quickly. In minutes, the four of them are singing complex harmonies. Looking on from a corner, Doctor Bashir marvels at the rapid transformation she has made from an uninteractive mute to a fully functional genetically-enhanced woman, as he later recounts to O'Brien at Quark's: "Yesterday, she was silent as a stone. Today, she's laughing and singing".
Returning to his quarters, Bashir finds Sarina waiting inside on his couch; having broken his six-digit access code, she is reviewing the diagram of the virus he has been researching for months. Sarina explains that she is unable to sleep as she fears awakening in her former cataleptic state. Bashir assures her that this will not happen, that her life is different and now full of possibilities. Her fears put to rest, Sarina has quickly drifted off to sleep with her head on Bashir's shoulder. Not wishing to disturb her, Bashir accepts this and he too ends up resting on the couch.
When he awakens in the morning, Bashir finds that Sarina has already woken up. She is once again going over the PADD he had been working on and as she notices his waking, she explains to Bashir that the key to understanding the mutation of this virus lies in targeting the L-II codon of its RNA transcriptor. Bashir is again stunned by her perception, and the two of them exchange thanks as Sarina brings him breakfast.
When Bashir is suddenly called away to the infirmary to assist Dr. Girani, Sarina puts aside his suggestion that she tour the station with Ezri in favor of returning to the cargo bay, where she finds her friends formulating a plan to try to alter the cosmological constant by using many subspace field generators to avert the big crunch, the hypothetical opposite of the big bang at the end of the universe (when Patrick asks how much time they have, Jack replies "sixty trillion years, seventy at most"). Jack chastises Sarina's assertion of the implausibility of this plan: "You know something, Sarina? We're trying to save existence as we know it, and all you can do is criticize." This statement causes Sarina to reevaluate attempting to fit in with her old friends, their iron determination forcing her back to the role of a mute observer.
When Bashir later returns to the cargo bay, he finds Sarina sitting blank-faced in a corner; to his dismay, she explains that Jack and the others are accustomed to her silence. Countering this, Bashir invites her to join him and his friends in Quark's that night, to which Sarina joyfully accedes. The other mutants find themselves uninvited, and Lauren resolves to prepare Sarina for her night out. She returns in the appearance of an entirely new person, wearing new, less subdued, clothing and a new hairstyle.
Accompanied by Bashir that night at Quark's, Sarina is introduced to O'Brien, Kira, Odo, and Ezri, all of whom are charmed by her demeanor and social ability. Afterward, Sarina fascinates Bashir with her appraisals of him and his friends. Much more comfortable in their company than in that of her unpredictable companions, Sarina laments their inability to function within society; upon learning that she will not be returning to the Institute with them, Sarina ponders where she will go and what she will do with herself apart from the only family she has ever known. Bashir responds that she needn't go anywhere, tenderly kissing Sarina and nearly overwhelming her.
Later, Bashir explains to Jack and the others that Sarina will not be returning to the Institute with them but will instead be staying in her own quarters on the station. Patrick implores Bashir to help the three of them the way he has helped Sarina, but Lauren and Jack quickly bring him to the realization that they are beyond help and that their already small group has now been further diminished. Dejected, they return to their efforts to save the universe. Learning of this, Sarina wishes to commiserate with her friends before their departure. However, Bashir persuades her that there will be time for that the next morning, that her friends need time to grow accustomed to her absence, and that she should come with him to have some fun.
At Quark's, Bashir shows Sarina off to the crowd of dabo players, eliciting her impressive computational skills to run the table, but the attention of the crowd and the boisterous and noisy atmosphere of Quark's begins to wear on her enjoyment of the experience. After Bashir puts off Quark's suggestion that they sit down to a bottle of spring wine, Ezri notices that Sarina has had enough for one night. As they leave the table, Bashir nearly ignores Sarina when a disruptive accident in the bar causes her to seize up in panic. Walking her back to her quarters, Bashir suggests that the next night she join him for a quiet dinner in his quarters and that she later join him on a week's leave to Risa, which causes Sarina some consternation; though confused, she agrees, not wishing to be ungrateful for his attention.
The next morning in the Replimat, Bashir explains to O'Brien that he has never before met anyone like her, reflecting on his luck in finally finding a woman with whom he can share attempting to fit into an ordinary life as a genetically-enhanced person. Though he is happy for Bashir, O'Brien cautions him that he may be moving along too fast for Sarina. O'Brien reminds him that she is Bashir's patient. Bashir responds that he has put her in the care of Doctor Girani, though this does little to relieve O'Brien of his apprehension toward Bashir's rush forward.
That night, Bashir waits in his quarters for her, but Sarina doesn't come to the romantic dinner he has arranged. After learning from the computer that Sarina is still in her quarters, he goes to talk to her. Having to override the security lock on her door when he arrives, he finds her unresponsive, in a state disturbingly similar to that before she received the treatment.
In the infirmary, Dr. Girani's scans indicate that the thalamic pathways Bashir repaired are functioning but they lack any neural activity. Taking her from the Infirmary back to her quarters, Bashir unsuccessfully attempts to get a response from her at the place they first kissed days before. Bashir spends the night at Sarina's bedside before taking her, in the morning, back to the cargo bay, for whatever help the mutants can give him in bringing Sarina out of her shell. After Bashir returns to his quarters, saddened, Lauren and the others pursue him with their appraisal of Sarina's torpor.
They explain to Bashir that Sarina has not reverted to being imprisoned in her mind; rather, she is simply confused and afraid of all the new things happening around her, paramount of which is the romantic attention Bashir has been showering upon her. Returning to the cargo bay alone, Bashir reaches out to Sarina, trying to make her understand that he can put right whatever is wrong with her. After Bashir has professed his love for her, Sarina begins to cry, choking on the unfamiliar emotions he has provoked. Expressing her confusion to Bashir, she wants him to tell her what she should feel, says that she owes him everything, and laments that she doesn't know how to act as the woman that he wants her to be. Bashir holds her closely and tries to comfort her.
The next morning, Bashir meets O'Brien in the Replimat and the two of them discuss Sarina's fate. While Jack, Lauren, and Patrick have returned to the institute, Bashir has arranged an internship for Sarina her at the Corgal Research Center on Corgal II, where she will work and live with a scientist and his family as she tries to make some sense of her new life. Bashir reflects on his infatuation over the past few days, beating himself up over his carelessly smothering Sarina, nearly driving her back into catalepsy, as O'Brien tries to cheer him up with an invitation to dinner with him and Keiko, who is making tempura. Bashir declines, now preferring to be alone, and as O'Brien returns to work Bashir makes his way to the airlock where Sarina's transport is boarding.
At the airlock, Bashir and Sarina tearfully say goodbye to each other, Bashir pledging to Sarina that he will never forget her. Bashir watches from the Promenade as the USS Nash and Sarina depart the station into space.
"That's a stupid question!"
- - Patrick
"Sarina? What are you looking at?"
(Speaking slowly) "Everything."
- - Julian Bashir and Sarina, after responding to surgery
"Sarina, what are you doing here? How did you get in?"
"It wasn't hard. Your access code only has six digits."
- - Julian Bashir and Sarina Douglas
"Didn't anybody question you?"
"Of course, but when they did Patrick would say…"
"That's a stupid…"
"You'd be surprised how well it works."
- - Bashir, Jack, Patrick, Lauren, and Nog
"Your friend was right. You can't break the laws of physics…"
"…but you can bend them!"
- - Jack and Jack, Patrick, and Lauren, in unison
"Julian, why don't you show everybody how much you love me and order the next round?"
- - Miles O'Brien
"The fact is that the universe is going to stop expanding and it is going to collapse in on itself. We've got to do something before it's too late."
"How much time do we have left?"
"Sixty trillion years, seventy at the most."
- - Jack and Patrick
"I'm sorry. Obviously you want to punish yourself. Do you want help? I'm really good at punishing myself."
- - Ezri Dax
"So what's a genetically enhanced girl supposed to do when she wakes up from a long sleep? Point to one of those specks of light out there, pack a bag, and go make a life for herself?"
- - Sarina
"How could I have been so blind? What was I thinking trying to move things along so fast? She needed time, I didn't give it to her. I came this close to driving her back inside herself. I'm supposed to be a doctor, I'm supposed to put my patient's needs above my own."
"You didn't want to be lonely anymore. Nobody does."
- - O'Brien and Bashir
Story and script
- René Echevarria's initial concept for this episode involved Bashir, Jack, Patrick, Lauren, and Sarina going on a mission for Starfleet. However, along the way, something happens and the four savants have to pretend to be Starfleet officers. Section 31 was also going to be involved in some way. The plan was for the episode to focus on Jack, who would temporarily be "cured" of his neurosis. Echevarria planned to base the script on the 1959 Daniel Keyes short story "Flowers for Algernon", with Jack ultimately reverting to his normal state at the end of the episode and being abandoned by Starfleet. Ira Steven Behr however didn't like the idea, and it never made it to the scripting stage. According to Echevarria, "It boiled down to the fact that it was a tragedy that this guy becomes normal, which kind of glamorizes mental illness. That's a very common sort of Hollywood story, 'Oh, aren't they cute – don't rob them of their originality and make them normal'. Which is bull." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- The idea to have the story focus on Sarina was Hans Beimler's. Indeed, Beimler only conceived of this idea because Sarina had never spoken in "Statistical Probabilities", and he thought it would be interesting to develop her character a little more. Originally, she was supposed to have a few lines in the earlier episode, but the scene in which she spoke was cut for time. Before the episode was green-lit however, the producers needed to make sure that actress Faith C. Salie was up to the task of fronting the story, and as such, they took the unusual step of calling her in to audition for a part she already had. As Echevarria says, "It must have been incredibly stressful for her. She had a role that was hers to lose. But within seconds of her reading, we knew she was in." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Of playing the role of Sarina in this episode, Salie comments, "They told me that she should have no subtext, which is an unusual feature for a character. As an actor, you're taught to dig, dig, dig to find what's underneath the lines and to know the backstory, because often a character might be saying something that she doesn't really mean. But with Sarina, there was none of that. She was guileless. She hadn't been around enough to learn about disingenuousness or even flirtation. The undercurrent in almost every scene in film or television between a man and a woman is one of some sort of flirtation or sexual attraction. But I was told specifically to take that out of my scenes with Bashir. In no way was I supposed to relate to him flirtatiously. It sounds like a simple task – 'Just say the line and mean it' – but that was hard to play, because we're never trained to take lines at face value." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- A scene where Bashir and Sarina kiss was reshot a month later, after the originally filmed scene was deemed to show Bashir as looking too predatory towards her. 
- Director Jonathan West found shooting the musical sequence very difficult, but he was very proud with how it ultimately turned out; "I listened to the music and literally choreographed where the actors would come from and where the camera would move to. If you look at the sequence, you'll see that I never shot a master of everything that happens. I always have one person leading into somebody else, which leads to somebody else, and then flows with the music." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Composer Jay Chattaway was also a big fan of the musical sequence; "You've got two minutes of screen time to take this woman from not being able to speak properly to gradually having her recoup coloratura soprano in a piece of music that has to represent a genetically perfect society, has to be like a Bach fugue, can only use the Do, Re, Mi syllable scale, can't sound like 'Do, a Deer,' and has to be brilliant." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- The four actors playing the four savants all reacted differently to finding out they were going to sing; Hilary Shepard Turner (Lauren) had been in an all-girl punk band in the 1980s and had no problems with it, Michael Keenan (Patrick) enjoyed shooting it, Tim Ransom (Jack) was found to be completely tone-deaf and ended up having to be dubbed, and Faith C. Salie discovered that she had an amazing voice and loved the experience. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Faith Salie commented: "The best thing about being on Star Trek was being able to sing an aria with the camera spinning around me a la The Sound of Music." 
- Speaking in the context of the Me Too movement, Salie praised the episode as "a great modeling of appropriate male behavior," noting that "the writers made it very clear that, although Dr. Bashir had the hots for Sarina, [she] was not required to reciprocate his affection, just because a) he wanted her, and b) she owed him." 
- The authors of Beyond the Final Frontier wrote: "Strong performances from Alexander Siddig and Faith Salie turn a pretty unpromising story into something with a little more depth. Though a Star Trek romance, ["Chrysalis" is] up there with the better episodes of this genre".
- Sisko's reference to the savants trying to pass information to the Dominion refers to their actions in "Statistical Probabilities", where they tried to inform the Dominion of Starfleet ship deployments in an effort to ensure a quick Dominion victory in the War and thus save as many lives as possible.
- While the savants are working on solving the problem of the collapsing universe, the LCARS display they use shows a title of "THE END IS NEAR ! ", and later, "HOW TO AVERT DISASTER."
- O'Brien's conversation with Bashir in the infirmary ("Julian, I can't break the laws of physics; nobody can") is vaguely reminiscent of the famous remark by Montgomery Scott in "The Naked Time" ("I cannae change the laws of physics; I've got to have thirty minutes").
- Michael Dorn (Worf) and Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko) do not appear in this episode.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 7.3, 3 May 1999
- As part of the DS9 Season 7 DVD collection
Links and references
- Rene Auberjonois as Constable Odo
- Nicole de Boer as Counselor Ezri Dax
- Colm Meaney as Chief Miles O'Brien
- Armin Shimerman as Quark
- Alexander Siddig as Doctor Julian Bashir
- Nana Visitor as Colonel Kira Nerys
- Tim Ransom as Jack
- Faith C. Salie as Sarina Douglas
- Hilary Shepard Turner as Lauren
- Michael Keenan as Patrick
- Aron Eisenberg as Nog
- Sam Alejan as a Human science division officer
- Uriah Carr as an Human operations division officer
- Amy Kate Connolly as a Human command division officer
- Cathy DeBuono as M'Pella
- Wade Kelley as an alien bar patron
- David B. Levinson as Broik
- Dan Magee as operations lieutenant
- Angus McClellan as an Human operations division ensign
- Robin Morselli as a Bajoran civilian
- Mark Newsom as a Bajoran officer
- Chuck Shanks as an Human operations division lieutenant
- Mark Allen Shepherd as Morn
- Unknown performers as
angel; Atlas; auditory system; Bajor; behavioral disorder; Big Bang; boarding call; cerebral cortex; coffee; collapse of the universe; Corgal II; Corgal Research Center; cosmological constant; DNA; DNA resequencing; Dominion; Do-Re-Mi; epinephrine; Excelsior-class; Farragut, USS; Federation; Ferengi; genetic engineering; holosuite; impersonating a Starfleet officer; information; kiss; legal guardian; limbic system; Loews, Karen; molto allegro; Morn's siblings; Nash, USS; neocortical probe; norepinephrine; O'Brien, Keiko; O'Brien, Kirayoshi; O'Brien, Molly; poker face; Promenade; Quark's; rate; Risa; rose; scientist; scone; speech therapy; staff meeting; subspace field generator; Sydney-class; synapse; tantrum; tear; tempura; thalamic pathway; thalamus; tone deafness; universe; visual system; wine
- "Chrysalis" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Chrysalis" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Chrysalis" at Wikipedia
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