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Old December 13 2012, 08:08 AM   #4
Re: Retro Review: Distant Voices

The episode is incredibly enjoyable in retrospect, when we can see that the "revelations" about Bashir's inner secrets are in fact but another layer of mental defenses and cunningly audacious lies. Our good doctor is not a humble apprentice of Garak in this respect after all, but has in fact been a grand master of the art since his formative years!

One wonders if much of the "illegal genetic improvements" plotline weren't written as a direct response to this very episode, which in itself fails to conclude Bashir's character motivations, but suggests hidden depths to him... We can in retrospect see a steady development of the character, from a deliberately obnoxious young man who wants to alienate everybody to protect his secret, to a more complexly caring person who chiefly hides the secret to protect his friends and friendships. But "Distant Voices" is a turning point in that "development", and perhaps the first time a new interpretation of the character was actually seriously considered.

It's particularly cute that the turning point within the episode comes when the Altovar alter ego successfully confronts Bashir about the deliberate mistake he made in the exam - and then completely fumbles it by attributing this to Bashir "not being able to take the pressure". In hindsight, we can tell that at that moment, Bashir realizes he is smarter than his opponent, and can triumph in the end. Without the hindsight, we're just left wondering why Bashir suddenly derives encouragement from being told that he's insecure, when all earlier insults thrown by Altovar, hitting home or not, have discouraged him instead.

It's also cute that when Bashir in the coda somewhat habitually brags to Garak about having survived a normally fatal Lethean attack, and Garak perceptively points out that Bashir must be "strong", the doctor quickly turns the subject back to his silly age crisis... AND tries extra hard to dismiss Garak's equally insightful remark on how the key character in Bashir's inner life had the characteristics of the "simple tailor"!

Timo Saloniemi
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