^ Makes for some good foreshadowing of Zero Sum Game, be it Bashir's nightmares, or Ro becoming second officer-- two steps closer to becoming station CO in that novel.
Bizarrely, my original idea for this episode involved the Borg.
See, I never thought Bashir properly dealt with his near-death experience on the Kornak homeworld, as depicted in "Wounds." Since "Wounds" was written as a kind of possible proto-Borg origin story, I thought that we could deal with his guilt over that here, and that it would be the Borg who were chasing him down in his nightmares. He might even imagine himself assimilated.
But the more I worked on it, the more I realised it didn't really work. It wasn't personal enough, and we'd already established that it wasn't really his fault, so he has no reason to feel guilt over it. So I ended up leaving it with just Ross's dressing down of Bashir in "Emancipation" and the Lense guest shot here.
But you're right that it was Zero Sum Game
that gave me the inspiration for the new direction in this story. A logical direction for Bashir's character, and at a suitable time too - after Dax has moved on.
Also on that note, quite an ominous ending with L'Haan appearing in Taran'atar's dreams.
Note that while everyone else was blaming Taran'atar for their dreams, nobody noticed that Taran'atar was having dreams of his own...
Really like that it at first LOOKED like a trek story we've seen a hundred times before, but at the end, the twist was something new and entirely unexpected.
Exactly my intention, and I'm glad you caught that. We've had so many episodes where the crew act wacky because of some technobabble excuse affecting them. I wanted to try to deliberately mislead the reader/viewer to think this is more of the same, but then have the twist be that there isn't
a technobabble excuse - you're just having bad dreams.
I think Bashir's desperation to find something to blame it on is because he doesn't want to think he's so weak that he would be bothered by nightmares. He associates it with being young and childish - perhaps even with his pre-enhancement days - so he would go to great lengths to deny that about himself.
Which now that I think of it, ties into the Taran'atar storyline. A genetically engineered "super-person" who likes to think he's better than others...
One thing I think was lacking was with the number of characters 'on edge', that Phillipa Matthias was not utilized as well. I think that might have been a missed opportunity to make use of that underutilized character
Yeah, you could be right. It seems counter-intuitive that an episode about dreams wouldn't feature the Counsellor character. But truthfully I just couldn't think of anything specific to do with her, any particular role that she fulfilled in the story that couldn't be given to one of the regular characters.
Like the Nog-Ro scene for example. It could have been Matthias counselling her, but if you put Nog in there, it has more power because he's been there and can relate.
You're also right about the number of characters freaking out. When I envisioned this episode in my head, it involved a lot more characters acting out of whack. A plague of nightmares sweeping the station, and making everyone paranoid and blaming this, that and the other. But when it came to it I couldn't figure out how to actually make that happen on the page. I guess that's something I need to work on.