(written from a Production point of view)
Bashir tries to help members of a Jem'Hadar unit free themselves of their addiction to the drug the Founders use to control them. Meanwhile, Worf tries to adjust to life aboard DS9.
Worf sits alone in Quark's, his eyes shifting between a PADD and a Markalian across the room. When Quark observes the poor quality of the Markalian's mugshot on the PADD, Worf is not amused. The Markalian is a known criminal, but Quark claims he does not discriminate, and everyone is welcome at his bar. The Ferengi goes over to talk to the Markalian as Major Kira approaches and sits down with Worf. After ordering a Tarkalean tea, she agrees with Worf's observation that Quark is likely plotting something with the Markalian, yet she seems unconcerned, reassuring Worf that Odo keeps Quark in check. Worf agrees but adds that Quark is not in prison.
- "Medical Officer's log, Stardate 49066.5. Chief O'Brien and I have concluded our bio-survey of Merik III in the Gamma Quadrant. We are on course back to the wormhole and should arrive at the station two days ahead of schedule."
Meanwhile, on the runabout USS Rubicon, O'Brien and Doctor Bashir are discussing Keiko O'Brien's return to Deep Space 9 after spending several months on Bajor. Keiko is upset that her husband set up a workshop in their bedroom while she was gone, as she thinks it is a subconscious attempt to push her out of his life; although Miles does not think he has any motive, Bashir claims the opposite is true: Miles' desire to be closer to his wife is the reason, for the bedroom reminds him of her. O'Brien is relieved to hear this and wishes his wife was more like Bashir – though he tries to hide it. The conversation is interrupted when they detect a magneton pulse emanating from a nearby planet, likely the result of a damaged warp drive. However, a plasma field prevents the runabout's sensors from scanning the planet. The field causes them to crash land in the process.
The officers emerge to find themselves prisoners of the Jem'Hadar.
On the planet, Bashir and O'Brien are interrogated. The Jem'Hadar can easily read their rank and specialty from just looking at their uniforms. Interestingly, they place value on engineering targets rather than science and medical, revealing a bit about their tactics. One of the Jem'Hadar wants to kill Bashir and use O'Brien for intelligence, but the lead Jem'Hadar disagrees and brings them to their complex.
Meanwhile, Worf discusses with Captain Sisko and Odo the Markalian aboard the station and how he is likely plotting an illegal activity. Odo doesn't appreciate Worf attempting to interfere with his duties and assures Captain Sisko that he's already conducting an investigation. Sisko allows Odo to proceed and, while understanding Worf's position and appreciating his vigilance, reminds the Klingon that he is no longer a security officer but is now the strategic operations officer in charge of coordinating all Starfleet activity in the sector. Worf promises not to let the incident interfere with his duties.
On the planet, Bashir and O'Brien are in a holding force field, while discussing the fact that the Jem'Hadar look rather "jumpy". Before their conversation can go further, the lead soldier, Goran'Agar, comes and takes Bashir to an isolated section of their complex.
Bashir is told that he is now working for the Jem'Hadar. Bashir refuses but is then told of a story that he can't believe. The lead Jem'Hadar has freed himself of his need for ketracel-white. He believes that some aspect of the planet has freed him from his addiction and wants Bashir to find a way for all Jem'Hadar to live without the need for ketracel-white.
Bashir is still a little hesitant to help the Jem'Hadar, so he is led to an area where there are several soldiers obviously in withdrawal stages. A slight touch to any one of them results in excruciating pain. Upon seeing this, Bashir is once again asked if he will help. He says yes, but only with Chief O'Brien's assistance. The soldiers then receive the white necessary to relieve their symptoms.
On the station, following a meeting about the escalating Klingon attacks in the wardroom, Worf tells Odo his investigation has left him convinced Quark is planning to smuggle Tallonian crystals and is due to meet his buyer that evening. Odo thanks Worf for the information, but is cagey when asked if he plans to arrest Quark.
O'Brien and Bashir go to work after a couple days. Bashir has run tests, but, in the meantime, O'Brien has been working on a makeshift weapon firing a plasma charge to subdue the guard. Quietly, he explains that they will get the guard's gun and run to the runabout. Then, Goran'Agar and a few others arrive to check on the progress. His second, Arak'Taral, picks up the device O'Brien was working on, O'Brien explaining that it's for scanner resolution. He inadvertently triggers the weapon. Bashir and O'Brien are quickly subdued, but the second refuses to release his hands from O'Brien's neck.
Bashir tends to the guard who was hit by the device. The guard now cannot stand, but Bashir can fix the wound with surgery. Revealing some more about their rules, the injured Jem'Hadar expects to be killed rather than be a burden on the others. Bashir objects, but interestingly, so does Goran'Agar. He says that is one of the Vorta's rules, and they will not live by them any longer.
Meanwhile, Worf covertly observes Quark waiting for the smuggler from the second floor of the bar. Quark starts inspecting the crystals and Worf then leaves to confront Odo about the situation, saying he doesn't appear to be addressing the situation at all. Odo brushes him off, saying he doesn't need him interfering in the way he conducts his duties and angrily suggests that Worf focus on his own.
Doctor Bashir comes to the decision that the Jem'Hadar deserve freedom, and feels that, once free of the drug, they may no longer be as murderous and could live peacefully. Despite his research, he was no closer to discovering why the lead Jem'Hadar did not need ketracel-white. Inspecting Goran'Agar, he finds his body is producing the white itself, but can't explain it. Bashir also mentions the Jem'Hadar child they found and the fact that Odo helped them. Goran'Agar reveals they almost worship the Founders, but they do not talk to them.
Back in the cell with O'Brien, Bashir relays his newfound opinion of the Jem'Hadar, but O'Brien is skeptical. He says they know Federation doctors are trained to feel sympathy, meaning they're manipulating Bashir. Bashir says they should help him, as the effort could end the Dominion. O'Brien is shocked, saying Bashir is just guessing and that the Jem'Hadar are simply killers, without any other purpose in life. At least, in the Dominion, they are kept in check. Bashir replies that they are still people. Finally, Bashir ends the conversation by pulling rank and ordering O'Brien to help him remove the runabout's bio-spectral phase discriminator to assist in his research.
With the second watching him, O'Brien removes something from the runabout's floor. In a quick move, O'Brien creates a distraction and transports outside. With tricorder in hand, he's off.
Bashir and Goran'Agar discuss the cure, but Bashir has ruled out all external factors. Goran'Agar insists there were no anomalous factors from four years ago, so Bashir thinks it's simply genetic – that Goran'Agar was never addicted to the drug in the first place. Then, his second informs them O'Brien escaped. Goran'Agar orders him to find him and bring him back alive, but he is now convinced Goran'Agar is weak and believing a lie. He leaves to capture O'Brien, and Goran'Agar leaves to follow, but not before telling Bashir he will not be protected any longer by his men. Bashir gives his word he will not try to escape.
Back on the station, Quark is finalizing the deal with his buyer when Worf enters to arrest them. They're both surprised, but then the bag containing the latinum turns into Odo, as the deal was actually a sting operation as Odo planned to be taken aboard the smuggler's ship and infiltrate the entire operation. Worf had been interfering in the investigation of a larger plot, and Odo keeps undercover missions to himself. Further, he doesn't report to Worf, and felt his presence actually helped a bit since it distracts from Odo's efforts. Odo is forced to settle for simply arresting the smuggler and confiscating his merchandise, leaving Worf embarrassed.
Meanwhile, O'Brien uses the tricorder to confuse the search party, and rigs up a trap for one of them to get a weapon. When O'Brien finally meets up with Bashir to bring him to the runabout, Bashir refuses to leave.
Bashir insists that he can find a cure. O'Brien is shocked again and waits to convince him. O'Brien then destroys Bashir's equipment and informs Bashir that charges can be filed against him when they return to DS9. Goran'Agar finds them and, knowing there's not enough time for Bashir to start his research from scratch, decides to let them both go free. As they approach the runabout, Arak'Taral spots them, but Goran'Agar shoots him instead. Goran'Agar sends the officers off on the runabout and returns to his men to ease their withdrawal from ketracel-white the only way left open to him: by killing them. When O'Brien confirms that he has been a soldier, Goran'Agar asks him to explain it to Bashir.
Worf, meanwhile, has approached Captain Sisko in order to inform him about his part in disrupting Odo's investigation. Sisko is sympathetic and reminds him that things on the station are not always as black-and-white as they might be on a starship, "and Quark is definitely a shade of grey." He tells Worf that he will need time to adjust to the unwritten rules of the station, but is confident that Worf will eventually fit in.
As they return to the station, O'Brien apologizes and says that he took the only course of action that would save Bashir's life, while Bashir restates his responsibilities as a doctor and that O'Brien condemned the men to death. They decide to cancel their weekly darts game but agree to take it up again in a few days.
"You are a soldier?"
"I have been."
"Then you explain."
- - Goran'Agar and O'Brien
"I have fought against races that believe in mythical beings that guide their destinies and await them after death. They call them gods … The Founders are like gods to the Jem'Hadar. But our gods never talk to us, and they don't wait for us after death. They only want us to fight for them… and to die for them."
- - Goran'Agar
"He's their commander. They trusted him. He can't leave them."
- - O'Brien, explaining to Bashir why Goran'Agar stayed to kill his men
"Good work, Chief. Keep this up, you may make a fine officer some day."
"Oh, thank you, Lieutenant. Coming from you, that means a lot to me."
- - Bashir and O'Brien
"So we do not help them and that's the end of it!"
"No, that is not the end of it. I am the senior officer here and I have decided what we're going to do. Now, I need the bio-spectral phase discriminator from the runabout's sensor array. I haven't got the technical skills to remove it, so I'm ordering you to do it. Now, is that clear?
- - Miles O'Brien, arguing not to help the Jem'Hadar while Julian Bashir pulls rank
"Odo keeps him in check."
"Yes… but not in prison."
- - Kira and Worf, discussing Quark
"A lovely place. Smells like a garbage dump!"
"I'm sorry I couldn't find a nicer place to crash land. Well, should we try again?"
- - Bashir and Miles O'Brien, on Bopak III just after crash landing
"You are what Starfleet refers to as a non-com."
"You must have a great deal of experience."
"I've been around."
"That makes you a priority target. We will kill you first."
- - Goran'Agar and Miles O'Brien
"Keiko only spends a few days at a time on the station. I'm the one living in those quarters. And if I wanna set up… a little workshop in the bedroom…"
"You set up a workshop in the bedroom?"
"Yeah. I don't use it when she's visiting."
"No, of course not."
"She says that I'm trying to live like a bachelor again. That I'm expressing a subconscious desire to push her out of our quarters."
"Now, that is ridiculous! I mean, if anything, by spending your free time in the bedroom, a place you intimately associate with Keiko, you're actually expressing a desire to be closer to her, during her absence. It's quite touching, really!"
"Exactly! Exactly! See, you understand! Now why can't she see that? Why can't she be more like, uh…"
"Err, um, a man, more like a man."
"So. You wish Keiko was a man."
"I wish I was on this trip with someone else, that's what I wish."
- - O'Brien and Bashir
"I knew you once. Trusted you. Obeyed you without question. But now you're like this Human: weak, soft, inferior. If being free of white means becoming like you, I don't want to be cured."
- - Arak'Taral, to Goran'Agar
"I'd hate to think what would make the Jem'Hadar jumpy."
- - O'Brien
"Starfleet officers often have trouble learning the unofficial rules of the station. There's no manual to study. You have to learn things as you go. A little different than life on a starship."
"When I served aboard the Enterprise, I always knew who were my allies and who were my enemies."
"Let's just say DS9 has more shades of gray. And Quark definitely is a shade of gray. He has his own set of rules, and he follows them diligently. Once you understand them, you understand Quark. I'd say that's true of everyone here. You'll fit in, Commander. Give it time."
- - Sisko and Worf
Story and script
- This episode came from two separate story pitches by two different writers. The first, from Nicholas Corea, was based around the story of a group of Jem'Hadar who were trying to free themselves from their addiction to a particular drug. The second, from Lisa Klink, was about O'Brien and Bashir taking opposing sides in a conflict on an alien world – O'Brien sided with the natives, Bashir with the non-natives. The producers liked the idea of Klink's concept, putting O'Brien and Bashir on diametrically opposed sides, but they felt the details weren't quite right, and they got Klink to re-pitch the story several times with different plot elements in place. Producers referred to her story as their The Bridge on the River Kwai episode, and they likened Bashir to Colonel Nicholson, a character in that film (played by Alec Guinness) who effectively helps the 'enemy.' The problem with Klink's story was that producers couldn't decide exactly what it was that Bashir was trying to do for the enemy, what was causing the conflict between himself and O'Brien – what was the 'Bridge'? Eventually, it was René Echevarria who suggested putting Klink's story together with Corea's, thus providing the Bridge – Bashir was trying to help the Jem'Hadar beat their addiction, and O'Brien was against this idea. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. ?))
- As Lisa Klink had recently completed an internship with the staff, she was given the chance to write the episode's script. Klink wrote the first and second drafts, and Ronald D. Moore provided an uncredited polish.  The second draft was submitted on 3 July 1995. 
- The writers saw the B-story of this episode as an opportunity to indicate how DS9's Worf was going to be different from TNG's Worf. As Ronald D. Moore explained, "He used to be a cop, more or less, on the USS Enterprise-D, but it's not going to be like that anymore. We wanted to keep emphasizing, 'this is not TNG. The station doesn't work like the Enterprise. Worf is going to have some troubles fitting in, but he's going to learn.'" (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. ?))
Cast and characters
- The role of Goran'Agar was played by Scott MacDonald, who had previously appeared in the first season episode "Captive Pursuit" as Tosk, which helped when auditions were held for the role of Goran'Agar. MacDonald commented, "René actually requested me for the role, which was flattering." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Official Poster Magazine, issue 3)
- Robert Foxworth auditioned for the role of Goran'Agar, but the producers were so impressed with his performance that they decided to save him for a more substantial role in the future. They went on to cast him as Admiral Leyton in the two-parter "Homefront" and "Paradise Lost". (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. 299))
- Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko) does not appear in this episode.
- Although this episode aired the week after "The Visitor", it was actually filmed before it. The reason for this was that, after "The Way of the Warrior" wrapped, the next episode scheduled to go into production was "The Visitor", to be directed by Rene Auberjonois, followed by "Hippocratic Oath", to be directed by David Livingston. However, a last-minute change in Colm Meaney's film schedule meant that "Hippocratic Oath" now had to be shot first, so that Meaney was available. As such, the episodes switched position in the production schedule. It is worth noting, however, that although the episodes switched weeks, the directors didn't, so Livingston ended up directing "The Visitor", and Auberjonois directed "Hippocratic Oath", something he wasn't entirely happy about. "it was a very difficult experience," he lamented. "I really came face-to-face with my own mortality as a director. I wasn't ready to go because I was still thinking about the other script." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. ?))
- Lisa Klink was pleased with Ronald D. Moore's work on this episode, calling it "great."  In 2021, she commented: "I found out that René [Auberjonois] would be directing my episode at the production meeting, a few days before shooting began, and was pleased about it. I visited the set a couple of times, but didn’t talk much with him because he was busy. On Deep Space Nine and Voyager, the writer typically didn’t have much contact with the director, either before or during production. I was very happy with how the episode came out. I thought René did a great job with the actors, bringing out the friendship and the conflict between Bashir and O’Brien. I can’t think of anything I would have changed about the episode". 
- In an interview with the official Star Trek website in 2011, Director René Auberjonois stated that he thought this episode was the one that stood out the most for him out of the eight he directed throughout Deep Space Nine. }
- Another person who was fond of this outing was J.M. Dillard. In her book Star Trek - Where No One Has Gone Before (paperback ed., p. 202), she commented, "The episode 'Hippocratic Oath' represents the very best of Star Trek tradition, for it compels us to look upon our enemies with insight and compassion, realizing that they are much more than a 'faceless evil.'" As such, Dillard remarked that the installment was a "fine" example of "an important Star Trek theme."
- "Although not quite BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, 'Oath' does succeed in putting DS9's favorite buddies in direct conflict and placing Bashir in a strong, proactive position." (Cinefantastique, volume 28)
- Among the items from this episode which were sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay was the prop Tallonian crystal. 
- This is the first episode to use the name "ketracel-white," as previously it had been described as a "missing enzyme" in "The Abandoned" and simply as a drug to which the Jem'Hadar are addicted in "The Die is Cast".
- In the later episode "To the Death", it is established the Jem'Hadar don't eat, sleep or have sex, but in both this episode and "The Abandoned", there are references to Jem'Hadar consuming food. In the earlier episode, the Jem'Hadar child aboard Deep Space 9 says he is hungry and demands to be fed. In this episode, Goran'Agar claims his men have "eaten the same food as me." Ira Steven Behr, with tongue firmly in cheek, explained this slip by saying that Goran'Agar was being "metaphorically stupid, as Jem'Hadar so often are!" (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. ?))
- This episode marked the first reference of a runabout belonging to the Danube-class of starships.
- Beginning in this episode, Worf never speaks of Quark by name, merely referring to him as "the Ferengi bartender." He continued to make this reference throughout Deep Space Nine's run.
- Luther Sloan references the events of this episode in the sixth season episode "Inquisition".
- Since "Shadowplay", O'Brien's rank has been referred to as simply chief petty officer, as identified by Goran'Agar, rather than the prior senior chief petty officer.
- Bashir briefly mentions the events of the episode "The Abandoned" to Goran'Agar.
- When O'Brien tells Goran'Agar that he has been a soldier, he is referring to his service during the Federation-Cardassian War, and the Setlik III massacre, mentioned in TNG: "The Wounded".
- Sisko is shown briefly tinkering with a clock he constructed while under the influence of a Saltah'na energy sphere in the first season episode "Dramatis Personae" near the end, when he is speaking with Worf in his office. There are some parts missing from the clock, and he appears to be tightening something.
- The aftermath of Bashir and O'Brien's disagreement in "Hippocratic Oath" is followed up in the Prophecy and Change short story "Broken Oaths".
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 4.2, 11 March 1996
- As part of the DS9 Season 4 DVD collection
Links and references
- Rene Auberjonois as Odo
- Michael Dorn as Lt. Commander Worf
- Terry Farrell as Lt. Commander Dax
- Colm Meaney as Chief O'Brien
- Armin Shimerman as Quark
- Alexander Siddig as Doctor Bashir
- Nana Visitor as Major Kira
- Scott MacDonald as Goran'Agar
- Stephen Davies as Arak'Taral
- Jerry Roberts as Meso'Clan
- Marshall Teague as Temo'Zuma
- Sam Alejan
- Scott Barry
- Mark Lentry
- David B. Levinson as Broik
- Dan Magee
- Unknown actor as Jem'Hadar #2
2369; addiction; Alpha Quadrant; assassination; bachelor; Bajoran Intelligence; Bajoran sector; Bajoran wormhole; bearing; bedroom; Bopak; Bopak III; Bopak system; Cardassia; chief of security; chlorophyll; Danube-class; diligence; DNA; Dominion; Dominion outpost; drug addiction; EM interference; Enterprise-D, USS; Federation; Federation law; felony; femoral artery; Ferengi; Founder; freedom; Gamma Quadrant; garbage dump; Gowron; isogenic enzyme; Jem'Hadar; joint; Kar Zartkaar; Ketracel-white; Klingons; Klingon-Romulan border; knee; latinum; law enforcement agency; magnetic storm; major; Markalian; Markalian Law Enforcement; Merik III; meter; middleman; Milky Way Galaxy; mitochondria; mugshot; mutant; noncom; O'Brien, Keiko; pain medication; plasma charge; plasma field; Quark's; red giant; Rakonian swamp rat; Romulan outposts; Rubicon, USS; runabout; scientific research; senior officer; sentient lifeform; shield generator; smuggler; strategic operations officer; Tallonian crystal; Tallonian homeworld; Tallonian system; Tarkalean; Tarkalean tea; trachea; trafficking; tricorder; Type 4 Tallonian microscanner; Vorta; workshop
- "Hippocratic Oath" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Hippocratic Oath" at Wikipedia
- Hippocratic Oath at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Hippocratic Oath" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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