Original air date: February 21, 1993
Notable guest stars: Caitlin Brown as Ty Kajada, James Harper as Rao Vantika, James Lashly as Lt. George Primmin (recurring)
In a nutshell: A dangerous prisoner dies during a shipboard fire, but his ghost is causing trouble on the station. And Odo gets his panties in a wad.
Say hello to: The most forgettable recurring character of all time, security officer Lt. George Primmin
Say goodbye to: Nobody
Missing in action: Miles O’Brien, Jake Sisko
Words of wisdom: “There’s nothing wrong with a good delusion. I sell them upstairs to dozens of people every day.” – Quark
Death is only the beginning
While returning to DS9 on a runabout, Major Kira complements Doctor Bashir on saving the life of a woman who was, according to the tricorder, already dead. (It’s called foreshadowing, people.) Unable to accept a complement gracefully, Bashir launches into a soliloquy about his noble calling as a healer when suddenly a distress signal interrupts him.
They beam over to a disabled transport ship and discover that it’s on fire. As Kira attempts to put out the fire, Bashir tends to an injured woman named Ty Kajada. When he asks her if there’s anyone else on board, she only says that the pilot is dead. Bashir’s tricorder is detecting another person on board, but Kajada warns him to leave the other being – he is a dangerous prisoner who started the fire in an escape attempt. Bashir overrides the door lock and tends to the prisoner, who’s on the brink of nervous system failure. Before the four of them can beam back to the ship, the prisoner grabs Bashir’s throat and says, “Make me live!” He then promptly dies.
As Bashir tends to Kajada in DS9’s infirmary, she becomes very insistent on seeing the prisoner’s dead body. She explains that he was Rao Ventika, a notorious criminal who has faked his own death many times before. Even after seeing Vantika’s cold body and stabbing it in the chest, she still insists that Bashir confirm the corpse’s identity using DNA and requests a full scan of her ship for any stowaways.
At Quark’s, the bartender flirts with Dax while Odo makes snarky comments. During his snarkfest, he mentions a shipment of deuridium that will soon be arriving at the station. This raises the attention of a Starfleet officer seated near them. He introduces himself to Odo as security officer Lt. Primmin, and he doesn’t think Odo should be blabbing about incoming shipments so loudly at the bar.
In Ops, Bashir tells Sisko, Kira, and Dax that all of his tests have confirmed that the body is Vantika and he’s 100% dead. According to Kajada Vantika was on his way to DS9 when she apprehended him, and Sisko and Dax quickly figure out that he must have been trying to steal their incoming shipment of deuridium. The valuable commodity is the only thing that can save members of his species, the Kobliads, and therefore it can demand high prices on the black market.
Bashir says that Kajada isn’t convinced that Vantika is actually dead, despite all of the tests. Sisko decides to go ahead and scan her ship to help allay her fears. He’s also worried about any accomplices Vantika may have had waiting for him on the station.
Primmin arrives to speak with Sisko in his office. Sisko quickly defends Odo’s way of doing things, pointing out that he can operate with the kind of latitude that Starfleet officers wouldn’t be able to. Sisko orders Primmin to work with Odo and try to learn a few things from him in the process.
Primmin visits Odo in his office and apologizes for starting out on the wrong foot with him. Odo coolly dismisses the incident, but Primmin insists on reviewing the security arrangements for the upcoming arrival of the deuridium from the Gamma Quadrant. As Odo pulls up the details on the computer, he discovers that everything in active memory has been erased. He’s flabbergasted, but Kajada appears at his doorstep, assuring him that it’s an old trick of Vantika’s.
Back in Ops, the gang assembles to try and figure out what’s going on with the computers. Kajada again states that this is an old trick of Vantika’s – using a subspace shunt to bypass security protocols through a secondary, non-secured system. A quick scan shows that there is indeed an authorized tap into a nonessential system. As Odo dispatches a team to retrieve it, Sisko and Kajada argue about whether it was planted by Vantika or an unknown accomplice. Kajada tells Sisko about Vantika’s ruthless and criminally inventive nature, and until the DNA confirmation comes back from the Kobliads, Sisko reluctantly agrees to continue operating under the assumption that Vantika is in fact still alive and hiding on the station.
Odo requests a private conference with Sisko, where he immediately submits his resignation in protest of Primmin’s appearance on the station. Sisko reminds the constable that Starfleet has legitimate security interests on the station, too, and he’ll have to learn to deal with Primmin or others like him. Sisko assures Odo that’s he’s in charge of security overall, which mollifies the shapeshifting lawman.
Dax tells Sisko that during their scan of Kajada’s ship, they discovered that someone tried to break into the cargo hold while it was docked at the station. When Sisko asks what they could have been looking for, Dax shows him a chip containing a map of “the humanoid brain.”
As Quark searches for dropped change on the floor of his bar, a unseen assailant grabs him from behind and asks if he’s made all the necessary arrangements for the deuridium shipment. Quark replies that he hired a group of mercenaries, but assumed the job was off since Vantika is dead. The mysterious figure replies that Vantika is almost, but not quite dead, and then lets Quark go.
The DNA results have arrived, and Bashir informs Kajada that the slab of meat in the infirmary drawer is undoubtedly Rao Vantika. Kajada, however, remains skeptical. Dax interrupts their meeting to call Bashir to her lab – by looking at the files on the chip, she’s deduced that Vantika was trying to transfer his consciousness into someone else’s brain. The two soon decide that the most logical and likely candidate would be Kajada, since she’s the only Kobliad nearby.
The pair pitches their theory to Sisko, but he’s skeptical since Kajada is the only one who really thinks Vantika is still alive. Bashir explains that the two consciousnesses are completely separate and Kajada would have no idea that she was sharing her noggin with her arch-nemesis. Unfortunately, they can’t prove their theory one way or the other until they figure out exactly how Vantika transferred his mental mojo.
After discovering that Odo has revoked her access to any information about the deuridium shipment, Kajada sneaks into Quark’s bar to spy on his meeting with the band of hired guns. As the conspirators haggle over the terms of their payment, Kajada suddenly screams and appears, hanging from the railing above. She quickly loses her grip and falls to the floor below.
Sisko, Bashir, and Quark hover over a comatose Kajada in the infirmary. Bashir can’t complete his examination of her until she regains consciousness, but Sisko thinks she tried to kill herself after discovering that Vantika was hiding inside her mind.
Sisko stumbles upon Dax in the morgue as she takes samples from Vantika’s body. She’s concentrating her search on Vantika’s fingernails, where she finds a miniature electric generator. In theory, the generator could send a bioencoded message into the brain of another being via cells, blah, blah, dubious science, blah, blah, blah. In short, Vantika shot his consciousness into someone else through physical contact before his body expired.
Meanwhile, Quark takes his band of mercenaries to a runabout, saying that their employer somehow managed to procure one for their use. As the door opens, Bashir is waiting for them. Quark tries to come up with an excuse to cover his tracks, but Bashir stops him, saying that he’s been expecting them. He is, of course, Vantika.
Dax is unable to find Bashir and discovers his abandoned communicator in the infirmary. Meanwhile, Odo discovers that Primmin hasn’t been assisting Kira’s team all morning long as he was supposed to have been.
Odo finds Primmin messing around in a computer panel. He says that he decided to take a page out of Odo’s book and think outside the box. He had a hunch that Vantika would try to subvert the computer security again and he was right – he’s discovered another subspace shunt hidden in the waste system. Odo thanks Primmin for taking the initiative.
The cargo ship hauling the deuridium emerges through the wormhole, and Vantika’s stolen runabout comes along side it. As the crew on DS9 tries to figure out what the runabout is doing out there, they find out that Bashir is missing and his access codes were used to take the runabout.
The group of mercenaries transport aboard the cargo ship, fire on the bridge crew, and take control of the vessel. Vantika joins them on the ship and orders them to set a new course. Before they can go to warp, Sisko locks DS9’s tractor beam on them.
Sisko hails the ship and tells Vantika to surrender, Vantika instead issues an ultimatum – if Sisko doesn’t release the ship, he’ll go to warp, ripping it apart, killing Bashir and polluting the Bajoran system with deuridium in the process. One of Vantika’s men begins to object and he kills him with a phaser. He gives Sisko one minute to reach a decision.
The crew struggles to find a way to disable the cargo ship without potentially destroying. Dax then theorizes that they could create an electromagnetic pulse to knock out Vantika’s consciousness, putting Bashir back in control of his own body. As Sisko stalls for time with Vantika, Dax is able to put together the EMP and send it to the ship via the tractor beam. Bashir’s consciousness emerges, heavily dazed and confused, but able to lower the shields before Vantika regains control of his mind. He’s beamed over to Ops, where Sisko stuns him with a phaser before Vantika can come back to full strength.
Dax programs the transporter to magically beam Vantika’s consciousness out of Bashir’s body and into a small container. Bashir emerges from the ordeal no worse of the wear, other than having a small headache.
Afterwards, Kajada apologizes to Bashir for having to go through the whole ordeal, but Bashir assures them all that he cannot remember any of it. Sisko says that he was obviously not in control and can’t be held accountable for Vantika’s actions. Sisko formally turns over what’s left of Vantika to Kajada, who promptly pulls out a gun and vaporizes the container.
Thoughts and ruminations
- It’s nice they finally alluded to Bashir doing something competent as a doctor, instead of just as a horny human male.
- So the prisoner goes from unconscious with dissolving synaptic functions to grabbing people and making threats within a few seconds? That’s quite a rally.
- It seems odd that the wounded ship officer and the prisoner both speak English. (I know, I know…)
- Dax likes iced raktajino? What a hipster.
- I continue to the enjoy the barstool banter between Odo and Quark. So far in the series, these two characters have become the most relatable and “human” characters on the show.
- Lt. Primmin seems to be a little long in the tooth to be just a lieutenant. But maybe he joined Starfleet after pursuing a rockabilly music career in early adulthood.
- If this shipment is so important to the Kobliad and they know it’s a likely target for thieves, don’t you think they’d insist on having some kind of security presence too? Kajada wasn’t supposed to be on the station monitoring the shipment transfer; she just ended up there after the incident on her ship.
- The Chicago font makes another appearance.
- Why is Kira so surprised/incensed by Kajada postulating that Vantika probably designed the computer tap to auto-destruct? The woman has been tailing Vantika for twenty years. Maybe she knows something.
- In the 24th century, would a map of the humanoid brain really be something you’d need to smuggle around, or break into a ship to steal? It seems like it would be basic information accessible on Wikipedia.
- Also – a map of the humanoid brain? That implies that all humanoid lifeforms have exactly the same brain structure. Even if all of the universe’s humanoid lifeforms were seeded by a common ancestor (as would be discovered in TNG‘s “The Chase” just two months after this episode aired), that still seems unlikely given the millions of years of evolution each species has been through.
- Quark walks a very fine line between being a likable character and a downright evil one. He continues to be associated with every criminal action on and around the station, but never seems to suffer for it, either legally or personally in his interactions with the others.
- The consciousness of a villain survives death to live on in the body of another? This is somewhere that Trek has boldly gone many times before.
- Someone faked their own death? This is also somewhere that Trek has boldly gone many times before. And somewhere DS9 went just a few weeks ago in “A Man Alone.”
- Dax and Bashir’s theory assumes that the unused portions of the brain are exactly like the used portions – that it’s all just similarly formatted storage space. But even our current understanding of the human brain knows that to not be true.
- I’m still not exactly sure how Vantika-Bashir managed to push Kajada over the railing in Quark’s bar, then manage to make it back to the infirmary in time for Quark to page him. Of course, our writers conveniently let this sequence play out off-screen during the commercial break.
- During the infirmary scene, both Sisko and Bashir seem to be using a noticeably different pronunciation of the doctor’s name (with an emphasis on the first syllable instead of the second). But later on during the episode, Dax, the station computer, and Sisko use the usual pronunciation.
- The reveal of Bashir as Vantika’s neural host is done very nicely, even if the previous scene with Dax and Sisko discussing the neural transmitter underneath Vantika’s fingernail basically gave it away to anyone remotely paying attention.
- They don’t even bother explaining why O’Brien is missing from this episode. I’m guessing in real life, Colm Meaney was off filming something else. Looking at his IMDB history, it was likely either War of the Buttons (which is a great film that I highly recommend you watch) or The Road to Wellville (which I’ve never seen).
- How secure is it for the station computer to blurt out the authorization code when asked who authorized using the runabout?
- Every ship and station viewscreen on DS9 seems to have a different aspect ratio and/or shape. Yet none of them ever show any signs of distortion or exaggerated cropping.
- Creating an EMP to disrupt someone’s consciousness seems like a horribly devastating weapon. Hopefully Dax destroyed her work after figuring out how to do it in just thirty seconds.
- Funny how they never mention how dangerous deuridium is until it becomes necessary to the plot.
- Beaming a consciousness out of someone seems ludicrous at best.
- It’s a good thing Kajada is a such a crack shot. Otherwise, she would have fried the infirmary computer station.
I don’t really care much for the “mind control” episodes of Star Trek, of which there unfortunately seem to be many. This one plays out about the same as the rest. It’s a just a tired plot device that wore out its welcome during the TOS era. The subplot of intrigue surrounding the new Starfleet security officer and Odo’s reaction is enough to keep this episode watchable, but just barely. One out of four Odo buckets.