"Extreme Measures" 
Season Seven, Episode 23
Written by David Weddle and Bradley Thompson
Directed by Steve Posey
Music by Dennis McCarthy
Main Cast:
Avery Brooks as Captain Benjamin Sisko
Rene Auberjonois as Odo
Nicole deBoer as Lt Ezri Dax
Michael Dorn as Lt Cmdr Worf
Cirroc Lofton as Jake Sisko
Colm Meaney as Chief Miles O'Brien
Armin Shimerman as Quark
Alexander Siddig as Dr Julian Bashir
Nana Visitor as Colonel Kira Nerys

Guest Stars:
William Sadler as Sloan
Andrew J. Robinson as Garak
Jacqueline Schultz as Jessica Sloan
Kate Asner as Nurse Bandee
Tom Holleron as Operative


Kira and Garak have returned to DS9 along with their appropriated Breen weapon -- and with Odo, who is critically ill. Kira plans to stay with him, but realising his demise is imminent, Odo tells her to go -- he doesn't want her to have to watch him die. Following a tearful goodbye, Kira leaves with Garak to rejoin Damar's rebellion. O'Brien and Bashir inform Sisko of Section 31's involvement in creating the Founders' disease and of their plans to lure an operative to the station in a last, desperate attempt to find a cure. It's a long-short, but Odo's life is at stake.

Before long, Sloan arrives in Bashir's quarters, and Bashir is ready for him. He stuns Sloan and takes him to the science lab, where he is joined by O'Brien. Bashir has gotten hold of a Romulan mind probe, but as he prepares to probe Sloan's mind to retrieve the cure, Sloan attempts to commit suicide by activating a brain implant. Although Bashir tries to counter the implant, Sloan has suffered extensive brain damage and will be dead within the hour.

Determined not to give up, Bashir instructs O'Brien to construct a device that will allow Bashir to establish a direct mental link with Sloan and, in essence, journey into his mind to retrieve the information he needs. O'Brien insists on accompanying him and, together they travel into Sloan's dying mind. They find themselves aboard the station where they soon meet up with an unusually jovial Sloan who says he will gladly give them the cure to Odo's disease, but first he wants them to accompany him to the wardroom, which is filled with Sloan's family and friends. After he's delivered a speech in which he apologises to them for putting his duty before them, he prepares to hand Bashir and O'Brien the cure. Before he can do this, another version of Sloan arrives and kills him. Bashir and O'Brien follow the second Sloan and end up in the corridors of the Defiant. Just when they think they have located Sloan, they are stopped by another Section 31 operative who shoots them. They are both surprised to actually feel the pain of their wounds. Just when it looks like they are about to die in Sloan's mind, they awaken to find themselves back in the science lab, having been woken by Sisko and Ezri. Bashir is adamant that they must go back, but Sisko informs him that Sloan is dead. And with him is any hope of saving Odo.

Later on, Bashir notices something odd whilst reading "A Tale of Two Cities" -- the book stops at the point he'd read to and begins again. He surmises that he and Bashir are still actually inside Sloan's mind -- he somehow tricked them into believing they were back in the real world. They return to the corridor they'd last been in and find the dying Sloan sitting in what appears to be the headquarters of Section 31. They ransack the office in search of the cure, but Sloan tries to distract Bashir by revealing tantalising glimpses of Section 31's covert operations across the Federation. O'Brien finds the cure and he and Bashir leave the dying man's mind not a second too late. Bashir successfully makes the cure and administers it to Odo, who is restored to full health.

It's official! It just ain't no fun reviewing a bad episode! I've been putting this off for weeks now, discovering to my chagrin that reviews don't write themselves. I could barely be bothered watching this episode again, much less devoting significant time and energy to writing about it. Don't get me wrong, it's not that Extreme Measures is a horrendously atrocious episode, for it's not. It's just...I don't know, it's just there, rather like an annoying blot on the windscreen that's big enough to be noticeable but not big enough for anyone to really care about.

My overriding feeling about Extreme Measures is one of profound indifference, a feeling that I fear was betrayed by my earlier drafts of this review. So, I'm taking a slightly different tack to try and avoid this review becoming as dull and drab as the episode in question. This review shall be written in the style of a dialogue -- you can imagine the questions are being asked by the judge and answered by the prosecution, moi! The defence? There is no defence! Aha ha ha ha ha!! (Don't worry, don't worry, I haven't forgotten to take my medication! ;-))

-- Scott, how would you describe best Extreme Measures?

I would best describe Extreme Measures by the nickname I've coined: "Extreme Disappointment".

-- Would you care to elaborate?

Not really, but since you asked nicely... Extreme Measures is a lame, cliched and painfully misjudged waste of an hour. What ought to have been a pivotal episode of DS9 -- one that resolved an important and compelling storyline -- is instead a dismally inept failure and one that, at this late stage in the game, we could not afford.

-- That bad, huh?

Well, as I said, in all honesty it's not so much bad as just extremely disappointing. Up to this point, in spite of its rough edges, DS9's Final Chapter had managed to maintain a generally consistent level of quality. In particular, Tacking into the Wind, the previous episode, was absolutely phenomenal and seemed to promise a triumphant build-up to the finale. But any chances of that, I'm afraid to say, are laid to ruin by Extreme Measures. Any momentum that had been built is immediately dispelled and the entire arc is ground to a screeching halt.

-- So what do you think the problem was?

The problem was that Extreme Measures was more the kind of episode I'd expect from Voyager than DS9. Were the DS9 writers unavailable this week or something? Did they have to hand the script over to their Voyager counterparts to write? Consider this, it has all the hallmarks of The Voyager Formula TM:

All that's missing, of course, is our obligatory space-battle-of-the-week! This is a sad, sad state of affairs, is it not?

-- Unless you happen to like Voyager, of course.

Yes, well. But let's not go down that road. ;-)

-- You mentioned that this "ought to have been a pivotal episode of DS9". Please elaborate. What were you expecting, or hoping for?

Since their introduction in the sixth season's Inquisition, Section 31 have made for a compelling and thought-provoking wrinkle in the fabric of the Star Trek utopia. Whilst this examination of the Federation's darker, uglier side has had some Trek purists up in arms, in my humble opinion the fact that the Federation has a darker side at all has made it far more interesting and compelling in dramatic terms.

This was exemplified in Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges, a superlative examination of whether or not desperate times do call for desperate measures. For Section 31, represented by Sloan, that answer is a clear yes. Bashir, on the other hand, is unwilling to accept this. What good are principles and ideologies if you are going to break them the moment the going gets tough? Both polemics have been impeccably well-presented, but the question was still left hanging.

Extreme Measures ought to have been an explosive resolution to the Section 31 storyline. The stakes were high, with Odo's life at stake, as was painfully demonstrated by the last episode. I was expecting big things from this -- not least a final show-down between Bashir and Sloan and an answer to the aforementioned question regarding the ends justifying the means. Extreme Measures had such potential! In theory, it ought to have been an invigorating cocktail of solid drama, probing characterisation, genuine pathos and a down-and-dirty exploration of ethics, morality and the betrayal of one's own principles. It should have been classic DS9!

-- So why wasn't it?

Because the writers had other ideas. I refer you to the recently-published DS9 Companion, an excellent guidebook to the series which provides a wealth of interviews and background information. Apparently, Ira Behr wanted one last "adventure" for O'Brien and Bashir and had the notion to focus a stand-alone episode on their friendship. The original draft of the story was, according to David Weddle, "a very serious exploration of what Sloan had done, played against Bashir's willingness to cross the line himself to pull the information out of Sloan's head." At one point, it was to be revealed that Dr. Mora, Odo's Bajoran mentor, was actually behind the creation of the disease. But this was scrapped, as was much of the Bashir/Sloan confrontation. Why? So they could focus on the Bashir/O'Brien relationship!

I'm sorry, but talk about getting your priorities wrong!! This is the third-to-last episode of the entire series and with all the dangling plots screaming for resolution, we simply don't have time for inconsequential scenes of male bonding! I think, by this point, we've already got the hint that Bashir and O'Brien are good friends. Let's see, perhaps the fact they've spent practically every scene together over the past two years was the give-away?

I can certainly understand that the writers wanted to find a way to give O'Brien, one of the show's most neglected characters, a piece of the action, but again it all comes down to priority. What's more important -- providing a satisfying resolution to a pivotal, ongoing plot or shoe-horning a character onto the screen for the sake or it? The result is a severely misjudged, insubstantial and ultimately quite pointless mish-mash that almost entirely bypasses whatever potential it had to be great. I'm not saying the Bashir/O'Brien interaction was entirely without merit -- on the contrary, Alexander Siddig and Colm Meaney always work well together and provide an amiable double-act. The problem is, it's woefully over-played and entirely out-of-place.

-- And what about in terms of plot?

Yeeurgh. It's yet another regurgitation of that hackneyed old chestnut: "entering a character's mind". We've seen umpteen examples of which on The Next Generation and Voyager -- and even on DS9, in the case of Distant Voices -- and, despite the odd exception (TNG's Frame of Mind comes to mind), such episodes are invariably silly, nebulous, formulaic and convoluted. Extreme Measures, alas, is all of those -- and a few more, to boot.

All the obligatory cliches pertaining to the "in the mind" formula are present and correct -- from the use of existing sets which makes no sense other than on a budgetary level, to the groaningly predictable "oops, we're actually still in his mind!" twist. The latter, however cliched, was admittedly one of the precious few instances of actual plot, so perhaps we'd better not complain. Yes, for an episode that ought to be packed with plot, Extreme Measures is quite the opposite and features copious amounts of pretty blatant padding.

-- Could you give some examples?

How long have you got? Although the episode starts off reasonably well, as soon as ol' Bert and Ernie enter Sloan's mind, the irrelevant time-wasting begins. Take, for instance, the turbolift scene ("You let go first." "No, you let go!" "Tell you what, we'll both let go at the same time…"). Forgive my blindness, but exactly what purpose did that scene serve? Ditto, the long, drawn-out scene in the wardroom where Sloan makes an interminable speech to his family and friends. In another time and place, this might have been a mildly interesting insight into the character, but "another time and place" being the operative words. As it is, it's simply a pointless, insignificant waste of time -- pretty much indicative of the episode as a whole.

-- And no review would be complete without mentioning the infamous "male bonding" scene…

Frankly, I still don't know what to make of it. Again, in another time and place, I might have warmed to it a little more than I did, but as with so much of the rest of the episode, it stuck out like a sore thumb and I had very little patience for it. The clock is ticking, damn it, we don't have time for such inanities! The fact that so many potentially-riveting ideas were scrapped in favour of tedious, drawn-out "male bonding" shows a devastating lack of judgement on the part of the writers. And it hurts -- it basically destroys whatever potential this episode had and it severely dents the Final Chapter as a whole. You blew it, guys...

-- So. Does the episode have any good points?

Well, the opening scene where Kira and Odo say their goodbyes, probably for the last time, was exceptionally well-done and was genuinely moving. Both Nana Visitor and Rene Auberjonois gave superb performances, again demonstrating why they are probably the show's two finest actors. The show's climax, where Bashir and O'Brien are rummaging through the Headquarters of Section 31, with the dying Sloan trying to distract Bashir, was reasonably effective and possibly the only half-way unsettling moment of the whole embargo. Oh, and the final toast -- "to friendship!" -- was rather cute. But, one or two isolated moments are not enough to save an episode as deeply flawed as this.

-- Indeed. So, in conclusion, how would you sum up "Extreme Measures"?

As I said earlier, as an Extreme Disappointment. It's basically an average episode of Voyager. Problem is, an average episode of Voyager makes for a pretty lamentable episode of DS9 -- particularly given the high stakes here. The "resolution" to the Section 31 storyline was a complete shambles, any interesting implications of which were unceremoniously shoved out the window to allow Bashir and O'Brien to declare their undying love for each other. Bleugh!

So was it enough to sink the entire Final Chapter? Thankfully, I think not. It hurt, to be sure, but fortunately it only really botched one of the ongoing plot threads, leaving the rest well enough alone. Extreme Measures does not, however, leave the arc in terribly good shape at this point. The question is (or more accurately, was) whether or not, with a mere two episodes to go, DS9 is going to rise out of the ashes? Stay tuned!

Rating: 4

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