Our Man Bashir (***)
I've never seen a James Bond movie. There's no point getting into why that is, it's just not a series that ever interested me and I never bothered to try it. While elements of James Bond seep into my consciousness through popular culture, much like irradiated water from a nuclear plant seeps into the ground-water, I still don't quite understand the series and thus I'm left feeling that I can't entirely appreciate this episode. I get some of the more obvious jokes, such as Mona Luvsitt's name or the villain explaining his entire plan before executing the hero, but there are probably more subtle jokes and references in the episode that I don't get. So the parody works well enough in a general sense, but this episode wasn't written for me and the rest of us James Bond virgins.
The biggest problem with the episode is that it's yet another holodeck malfunction episode and yet this one manages to be even more complicated than most. Some Cardassian terrorist group that end up being completely unimportant decide to blow up a runabout that is conveniently carrying almost the entire command staff of DS9, an emergency transport goes wonky and their bodies end up in the holosuite. That's beyond ridiculous, it's like the show was trying to make up for its lack of a holodeck malfunction episodes so far by coming up with the most complicated one imaginable. It's a necessary evil to allow the main cast to have some fun playing alternate characters, but it's still there taking up screen-time with complicated technobabble throughout the episode. And for what, some false sense of drama? I suppose it gives Bashir and Garak an opportunity to squabble over what it means to be a real intelligence agent, but that's about it.
Actually, putting Garak into the simulation was a clever choice, he gets to scoff at how absurd the whole experience is throughout, and I like that his sense of professional pride is wounded by Bashir trying to act like a spy. What's worse, the program actually rewards Bashir for being flashy and taking needless risks, something that Garak knows would get a real spy killed. I also the ending where Bashir destroys the world in order to buy time, using Garak's earlier monologue to good comic effect.
ANASTASIA: Oh, Julian, I never thought I'd see you alive again. Not after you fell out of that dirigible over Iceland.
BASHIR: I had a parachute, and there was a submarine there waiting for me.
I think I did that once while playing Just Cause 2...
Runabouts Lost: 4
So long USS Orinoco Flow.