(written from a Production point of view)
After a serious accident, Bashir struggles to save the life of Vedek Bareil while Kai Winn concludes a peace treaty with Cardassia. Jake and Nog reluctantly explore the differences between Federation and Ferengi cultures.
Jake Sisko is walking along the Promenade of Deep Space 9 when an old friend named Leanne walks up behind him. They reminisce and catch up briefly, and upon Jake discovering that she has stopped seeing Orak, then sets a date for the following evening at the station's Klingon restaurant.
Those men go to an airlock, where they are joined by Dr. Bashir and Nurse Jabara. The chief tells Bashir that the docking Bajoran transport experienced an accident that caused casualties. Bashir asserts that the casualties should have been beamed directly to the infirmary, but the chief explains that the accident caused by a plasma coil release of radiation that made transport impossible.
Once Odo opens the airlock injured passengers begin walking through. One of them is Kai Winn, but she says, "the vedek – take care of the vedek!" Next out the airlock is Vedek Bareil, with a chest covered in third-degree burns, being carried by two security officers. Odo activates his combadge and apprises Major Kira, the vedek's companion, of his dire situation.
In the Infirmary, O'Brien delivers a report to Commander Sisko about the cause of the accident, and Winn immediately inquires if sabotage might have played a part. Kira reacts to that possibility with skepticism, but the Kai says that she will only discuss the possibility in private, with Sisko, the Emissary of the Prophets.
In the infirmary's operating room, Dr. Bashir and Jabara are desperately trying to save Bareil's life.
Meanwhile, Winn and Sisko are in Sisko's office, where Winn explains that she and Bareil were en route to peace treaty negotiations with Legate Turrel when the accident occurred. Sisko expresses surprise that Winn would be anywhere near such proceedings, but she explains that the underlying vision and the credit for the success of the negotiations is mostly due to Bareil's vision.
However, in the infirmary, Bashir is announcing to Kira that Bareil is dead, having never regained consciousness. After sharing this with Kira, Bashir suggests she take some time off her first officer duties to grieve, but Kira tells him she will do so in her own time. Bashir goes back to the table on which Bareil's body rests, intending to start an autopsy. However, he discovers that Bareil's nervous system is still transmitting electrical signals to his brain. Bashir hypothesizes that Bareil's radiation exposure "might have fortified his peripheral cell membranes," and he and Jabara resume treatment according to that hypothesis – treatment which proves to be successful.
Later, Bashir says Bareil should be back on his feet in a few weeks. Both Sisko and the kai credit Bashir with nothing less than a miracle (according to the kai, by the grace of the Prophets), but Bashir insists that it was simply the best of luck. Bareil is present and conscious, and says he's merely grateful, since it allows him to complete unfinished work.
Kai Winn takes that opening to insist that the treaty negotiations must be resumed quickly, but Bashir disagrees on account of Bareil's infirmity. However, the kai insists that Bareil will merely "advise" her while she conducts the negotiations, to which Bashir agrees on the condition that Bareil isn't tired out. Meanwhile Kira looks on the whole proceeding with a gimlet eye.
Sometime later Nog goes to the Siskos' quarters, where Jake tries to explain the date he's got with Leanne and cancel the plans he and Nog had to play dom-jot with some Terrellians. Nog's hard to reach at first, but finally catches on... and corners Jake into making it a double date.
Back in the infirmary, Bashir comes to Bareil's bedside to explain that his treatment caused damage to Bareil's circulatory system that is damaging his internal organs in turn. Bashir says he wants to put Bareil into stasis for an indeterminate length of time while an effective treatment is researched, but Bareil says that would be unacceptable, since it would likely become impossible to conclude the peace treaty as a result. As an alternative Bashir reluctantly says they can try an experimental drug called vasokin, but only by accepting a 22% chance that the damage will be made even worse. Bareil accepts that risk in lieu of being put into stasis. As far as Bareil is concerned, conclusion of the treaty is the will of the Prophets, and he is determined to see it through.
Act ThreeLater Legate Turrel, Kai Winn, and Commander Sisko are in the wardroom, continuing negotiations – but without much success. They recess, and the Kai complains to Sisko that she's at a severe disadvantage without Bareil's direct involvement. She declares that "if he dies, then peace with Cardassia dies with him."
Later Jake, Nog, Leanne, and Riska, who is Nog's date, are sitting at a table in the upper level of Quark's eating dinner. Nog is interjecting with insensitive comments – "boy, Jake, she talks a lot for a female" – while Jake tries to maintain a normal, respectful flow of conversation. However, Nog's attitude descends into what can be best described as the gutter. Leanne and Riska leave the bar in a huff, and then Nog insists that Jake blew it because he was "treating my female as if she was an equal!" Jake is equally displeased with Nog, and the two of them stomp away angrily as well.
In the infirmary, Winn explains her difficulties to Bareil, but he's in obvious discomfort. Bashir tells her that Bareil's had enough stress, but the Kai insists that she needs more of Bareil's attention. Bashir steps in and tells the Kai that if she doesn't leave, she'll be thrown out by security – and Kira says that security won't need to be called, because she'll escort the Kai out of the infirmary herself. Only then does Winn back down and leave.
Bashir explains that the organ damage he'd feared is starting to take place, and that in order to keep Bareil alive without putting him into stasis, he'll need to transplant artificial organs the replace the damaged ones. Bareil insists that Bashir does whatever it takes to get him through the negotiations.
After performing the transplants Bashir goes to Kai Winn, who's looking over PADDs in the wardroom. He explains that he wants the Kai to release Bareil from his obligation to be involved in the negotiations, since doing so is the only thing that will give Bareil a fighting chance to live. Kai Winn refuses, and Bashir ultimately deduces that in the event the negotiations fail, Winn wants a scapegoat handy. When Bashir starts to leave, Winn tells him "And doctor, I won't forget what you've said here." Bashir defiantly tells her he won't either.
At their quarters during dinner, Jake is telling his father about the disastrous double date, and Ben's totally unsurprised, since Nog is a Ferengi and burdened by the tunnel vision imposed by Ferengi gender roles. Jake thinks that the cultural differences spell the end of his friendship with Nog, but Ben disagrees and insists that there's a genuine bond between the two that can be restored if the two of them will make up. Jake recalls when his father told him that the differences between Humans and Ferengi were too much to overcome. Ben recalls this and admits he was wrong. Jake doubts that Nog is at all willing to speak with him and Ben suggests he will have to do something to get his attention.
Bareil has suffered irreversible brain damage in the meantime. Bashir arrives just as Jabara is trying to stabilize him, and Winn there saying he had called her there, straining himself.
In the station commander's office Winn, Sisko, Kira, and Bashir are discussing the situation, and the Kai asks if something can be done to restore Bareil's brain function as well. Bashir says that a positronic implant would give them something to work with, but that it would cause Bareil's psyche to change in ways those present would find difficult to accept. Kira quickly agrees that it should be tried, since it is Bareil's last option for seeing the peace treaty through, and Bashir agrees to perform the needed procedure on account of Kira's endorsement.
In the Infirmary, Bashir has completed the positronic implant and, as he'd predicted, Bareil is alert... but not at all himself.
After some friction and Nog's discovery that Jake put Odo up to their arrests, the two of them finally come to an agreement that there is a bond of friendship between them strong enough to make them forget the differences between their two cultures. However, mending fences turns out to be much easier for the two of them than being promptly released from the holding cell.
It turns out that the treaty negotiations were a success, and a party is being held in the Wardroom to celebrate the event when Bashir gets called back to the Infirmary. It also turns out that the remaining organic half of Bareil's brain is finally failing, and with the peace treaty concluded, the only person with a stake who can see a point to doing anything more to keep Bareil alive is Kira... but Bashir finally convinces her to let him go. Kira asks Bashir how long Bareil has before he dies. Bashir tells her he has three hours. Kira requests that she be alone with him, and Bashir leaves, bringing Jabara with him. Kira, alone with the unconscious Bareil, begins telling him all the things she never got a chance to tell him before. Recalling meeting him for the first time, she remembers he having such a serenity about him, she just assumed he had all the answers but she soon realized he was as confused as everyone else. He just accepted his confusion better than anyone Kira knew. That was when she realized she loved him.
"I'll be there. But this time, we'll skip the gagh."
- - Jake and Leanne
"You have been negotiating peace with Cardassia?"
"The Prophets teach us that while violence may keep an enemy at bay, only peace can make him a friend."
- - Sisko and Kai Winn
"Please, don't take this the wrong way... but I never would have guessed that you would be the one to bring such a bold vision of peace to Bajor."
- - Sisko, to Kai Winn
"Thank you Doctor, I'm on duty in Ops. Excuse me."
"Kira... I think they can get along without you in Ops today."
"Maybe, but I need to be there. I appreciate your concern, but I'll grieve in my own way, in my own time."
- - Kira and Bashir
"Well, it's a little early to tell, but I'm hoping he'll make a full recovery. He should be back on his feet again in a few weeks."
"You say that so calmly. But it's not every doctor that can lose a patient, and then have him back on his feet in a few weeks!"
"Indeed, you are too modest. You've performed nothing less than a miracle here. The Prophets must walk with you, Doctor."
"Well, I, and the Prophets, were lucky..."
- - Bashir, Sisko, and Kai Winn
"Money is money. But women are better!"
"Is that a rule of acquisition?"
"It's a personal rule."
- - Nog and Jake
"Just one thing, Jake. You're still pretty new at this dating business. Just promise me you won't do anything to embarrass me."
- - Nog
"But why risk your life for a few days?"
[chuckle] "I have no great desire to die, Doctor.... but I am determined to carry out the will of the Prophets as long as I am able, and I cannot carry out their will if I- I'm unconscious in some stasis tube! Please... begin the vasokin treatments."
"All right... We'll start this afternoon... I only hope we don't regret this."
"So do I."
- - Bashir and Bareil
"I was chosen by the Prophets to lead our people into a new era. I know that! But I was not meant to be in a room with a Cardassian, debating legalisms and diplomatic nuances!"
- - Kai Winn
"She's so dumb. She's perfect!"
"That's it. Let's go."
- - Nog, to Jake, and Riska
"At the moment, he needs more treatment and less politics. Now, either you can leave here willingly, or I'll call Security and have you thrown out!"
"You won't need to call them. I'll do it myself."
- - Bashir, to Kai Winn, and Kira
"Are you going to call Security and have me removed from this room now, Doctor?"
"It hadn't occurred to me... yet."
- - Kai Winn and Bashir
"You're a coward. You're afraid to stand alone."
"Bareil's already made his decision, Doctor. I won't interfere. And Doctor... I won't forget what you've said here."
"Neither will I."
- - Bashir and Kai Winn
"Odo, I'd like you to do me a favor. I want to be arrested."
- - Jake
"Anyone who talks to a female with fawning respect is no Ferengi. It made me sick!"
"You want to talk about sick?! 'Sick' is making Riska cut up your food for you."
"Well, at least I didn't have her chew it!"
- - Nog and Jake
"I guess we'll just have to deal with the rest of our disgusting habits as they come up."
"I guess so."
- - Jake and Nog
"...Allow me to introduce 'Kai Winn.' "
"I don't understand."
"In honor of the occasion, I've named my latest creation for you. It's a chocolate soufflé... with... Haligian tongue sauce."
"Well, I'm very honored!"
[takes a bite of the sauce] "Hmm. Hmm! And you're also very popular. Believe me, I can't keep up with the orders so far."
- - An ecstatic Quark, and Kai Winn
"If I remove the rest of his brain... That 'spark of life' will be gone. He'll be dead... and I'll be the one who killed him."
"But if we do nothing, he'll die!"
"That's right, he will. But he'll die like a man, not a machine."
- - Bashir and Kira
"You had... such a... serenity about you... I thought you had all the answers. It really got on my nerves for a while! Then I got to know you and I... realized you were just as confused as the rest of us. You just accepted your confusion better than anyone I've ever known. That's when I realized I loved you."
- - Kira, tearfully to the unconscious Bareil
Story and script
- The original pitch for this episode, by Christian Ford and Roger Soffer, was based on the 1818 Mary Shelley novel Frankenstein, with Bashir in the role of Dr. Victor Frankenstein. The story concerned a Federation ambassador involved in peace negotiations with the Romulans whose shuttle is damaged and who dies in the sickbay on Deep Space 9. However, the treaty negotiations are at a pivotal moment, so Bashir is able to figure out a way to "re-animate" the ambassador's brain, essentially bringing him back to life. However, over the course of the episode, he begins to go mad, and in the last scene, Bashir is forced to allow him to die once again. The reason this idea was scrapped was that the producers felt that the audience wouldn't have much empathy with a character who they'd only just been introduced to. According to Ronald D. Moore, "we were trying to make it a Bashir show, but in reality, everything focused on the ambassador, and nobody cared about him." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- The solution to the problem of audience apathy was to make the ambassador a character whom the audience knew and cared about. The producers considered changing the role to O'Brien; Colm Meaney was rumored to want to leave the show to concentrate on film work, but he assured the staff he had no intentions of leaving. As such, the producers gave the story to Vedek Bareil, mainly because they weren't happy with how the Bareil-Kira relationship was going, and because they weren't sure where the Bareil character was heading. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- André Bormanis consulted with his friend John E. Glassco, a pathologist at St. Josephs Hospital in Burbank, to make the medical dialogue as authentic as possible. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- The final draft script was submitted on 10 November 1994. 
- Jim Martin designed two major props for this episode: a "brain scanner" and a "brain operator." The scanner was a small light-weight device which would be placed over the head. The operator was a large device which enclosed the head, apart from a small opening at the back. However, when Martin saw some of the dailies for the episode, he was amazed to see the scanner being used as the operator and vice versa. Director Reza Badiyi couldn't figure out which was which, so he took a guess. Martin thought this mix up was hilarious. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- While shooting her scenes, Louise Fletcher (Kai Winn) was extremely ill with the flu and had to lie down between takes. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Although the producers were happy with both the A-story and the B-story as individual stories, they were not happy with their combination in this episode. According to Ira Steven Behr, after viewing the first set of dailies which included scenes from both stories, the producers were beyond shocked, and a feeling swept through the room like, "What the hell have we done?" The decision to have a grim A-story and a humorous B-story was Ronald D. Moore's, who explains, "I said to everyone, 'This is such a grim episode, we should have a light B-story, maybe let Jake and Nog do some fun stuff.' It sounded great in concept, and I enjoyed writing the scenes, but, man, such a mistake!" (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- After this episode aired, the producers received an extremely angry email from a group calling themselves 'The Friends of Vedek Bareil'. The email angrily protested the death of Bareil and enclosed were pictures of a memorial service they had held for him. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- This episode marks the death of Vedek Bareil Antos. Philip Anglim later plays the mirror universe version of the character in the sixth season episode "Resurrection".
- The Bajoran-Cardassian Treaty is signed during this episode.
- The episode "Shakaar" is a sequel of sorts to this episode.
- Nog says he doesn't even know what a Tholian looks like. The only Tholian body part previously revealed on-screen was the head, in TOS: "The Tholian Web". Viewers would not fully know what a Tholian looks like until ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly", ten years later.
- This episode is the first to be aired since Star Trek: Voyager premiered.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 3.7, 12 June 1995
- As part of the DS9 Season 3 DVD collection
Links and references
- Rene Auberjonois as Constable Odo
- Siddig El Fadil as Doctor Julian Bashir
- Terry Farrell as Lieutenant Jadzia Dax
- Cirroc Lofton as Jake Sisko
- Colm Meaney as Chief Miles O'Brien
- Armin Shimerman as Quark
- Nana Visitor as Major Kira Nerys
- Philip Anglim as Bareil Antos
- Aron Eisenberg as Nog
- Lark Voorhies as Leanne
- Ann Gillespie as Jabara
- Andrew Prine as Turrel
Special guest star
- David B. Levinson as Broik
- Michael Zurich as a Bajoran security deputy
- Unknown actor as
- Green-skinned alien with beaked face
- Bajoran security deputy 2
accomplice; Alpha Quadrant; ambassador; armistice; arterial disruption; artery; axon; Bajor; Bajorans; Bajoran detainees; Bajoran-Cardassian Treaty; Bajoran transport; Bashir's medical school professor; blood plasma; blood pressure; brain; brain stem; Cardassia; Cardassian; Cardassian Central Command; cardiac arrest; cascade effect; cell membrane; cerebral cortex; central axonal pathway; chocolate; chocolate soufflé; cordrazine; cranium; cultural differences; customs; defibrillator; election; electricity; Eminence; Emissary of the Prophets; encryption; Ferengi; Ferenginar; Ferris VI; gagh; hemorrhaging; Haligian tongue sauce; heart; holosuite; inaprovaline; internal organ; Ishka; Justice Ministry; kidneys; Leanne's father; legate; looting; lungs; magistrate; management; Massacre of Ferris VI; midbrain; millivolt; mining rights; minute; morphenolog; neural pathway; neural tissue; neuron; neurogenic radiation; neurostimulation; neurotransmitter; Occupation of Bajor; Ops; Orak; orb; Osinar VI; oxygen; parietal lobe; patient; plasma coil; plasma conduit; positronic implant; pressor field; Promenade; Prophets; Quark's; reparations; Riska's uncle; Rom; sabotage; soufflé; springball; Starfleet; stasis; synapse; synaptic failure; temporal lobe; Terrellian; Tholian; Tholian ambassador; tissue sample; tradition; vasoconstriction; vasokin; Vulcans; Vulcan; wilderness preserve
- "Life Support" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Life Support" at Wikipedia
- "Life Support" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
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