Bashir's genetic modification: yes or no?

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine' started by DevilEyes, May 7, 2010.


Did you like the 'Bashir was genetically modified' retcon?

  1. Yes, I think it was a good plot and it worked

  2. It was an interesting storyline, but I didn't completely buy it

  3. No, it made no sense

  4. I'm not sure

  1. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jun 9, 2009
    basking in the warmth of the Fire Caves
    In this Trek Today article, Alexander Siddig reveals just how much he hated the 'Bashir was genetically engineered' plot:

    Which prompted me to start this poll and ask: did you like the storyline, and did you think that this storyline was convincing ?

    I'm a bit torn about this. I remember that, the first time I watched Doctor Bashir, I Presume?, I thought "Well, that came out of the blue". It seemed sudden and far-fetched. But now I'm all right with it - for a 5th season retcon, it kinda sorta works, or at least is not too improbable, and it gave us some interesting insight into 24th century attitudes to genetic engineering - and lead to the appearance of Jack Pack and Statistical Probabilities, one of my favorite season 6 episodes.
    Last edited: May 7, 2010
  2. ares93

    ares93 Commodore Commodore

    May 5, 2010
    i liked it but i dont think it ended up the way they wanted though. however in the other series the doctors had minor role. bashir was the first "hardcore" doc.
  3. flemm

    flemm Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    May 8, 2009
    It's interesting to read that quote because it confirms a number of my impressions concerning how Bashir was written over the years. Basically, the writers couldn't figure out how to make the character work and just kept throwing different ideas at him in the hopes that something would strike a chord.

    The espionage angle actually ended up being the most successful because of some good scenes with Garak and eventually Section 31 and Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges, the best Bashir episode imo, by a wide margin.

    As for the genetic enchancement idea, no, I don't think it works at all. For one thing, it turns the character into a hypocrite who has been lying to everyone from the beginning, including his best friend Miles. It turns out that Bashir's naiveté was just an act. Meh. This type of revelation would absolutely destroy his comrades' trust in him, or at least force everyone to re-evaluate their relationships with him, from Sisko as his commanding officer to Miles as his friend.

    If the writers had really explored that aspect of the revelation concerning his enchancements, then that might have been interesting, but they never ended up doing that, largely because the retcon was motivated by the desire to give DS9 a superhumanly brilliant character like Spock and Data. In other words, it was pointless, because that Trek trope had no place on DS9: it didn't work with Dax in the early seasons, and it didn't work with Bashir. So, after a line or two of Data-esque calculations early in the sixth season, the writers just let it drop, until Extreme Measures anyway (another mistake).

    The only other way Bashir's enhancements are addressed, as I recall, is in the "Jack Pack" episodes, and there Bashir is being presented as a paragon of how a genetically altered individual can integrate into society, i.e. the enhancements haven't really impacted his life at all despite years of dissimulation and deception.

    Bad idea. The only thing that really could have saved it in my view is if it had really disrupted Bashir's existence and changed how everyone interracted with him, which the writers were understandably never prepared to do. I'm not surprised Alexander Siddig hated the change, since it undermined everything he had done with the character up until that point, basically like saying to him: nobody likes what you've done up until now, so we're going to see if we can Data-fy you! OK?!?!
  4. Whtstr314

    Whtstr314 Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Apr 26, 2010
    People's Republic of Camden, NJ
    I don't know what to think, because while it was a good storyline, especially since it resulted in showing Section 31, Siddig is a good actor and deserved to be happy with his character. Ares is right that he was the first Star Trek doctor to have a major part in the storyline, besides the occasional McCoy story.
  5. Navaros

    Navaros Commodore Commodore

    Aug 15, 2005
    I found the genetic Bashir storyline to be convincing.

    However, the Bashir changeling storyline was ludicrously unconvincing because it was ad hoc nonsense, and can in no way be rationally retconned into previous episodes that the writers didn't write with it in mind.

    I think the genetic Bashir story is decent, neither terrible nor superb. Likewise for the "Doctor Bashir, I Presume?" episode.

    Although, Statistical Probabilities is one of DS9's very best episodes, so I'm grateful they made genetic Bashir for that reason alone.

    Does this mean that in the quotation in the OP, Siddig is complaining mostly about lines/content that never actually made it into the show?
  6. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jun 9, 2009
    basking in the warmth of the Fire Caves
    I got the impression that he's saying that they dropped the "Data" super-human aspect in later episodes.
  7. Jono

    Jono Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Dec 22, 2001
    It was an interesting idea but they didn't take it far enough and the revelation and its consequences shouldn't have been so neatly wrapped up in 42 mins.
  8. milo bloom

    milo bloom Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Nov 14, 2008
    The varied and beautiful Chicagoland suburbs.
    Aye, that's it there. It's not a bad idea, really, it's just how it was shoehorned in, and never really explored.

    Also, it sounds kinda immature of Siddig to act like that. Most viewers are not going to be aware of behind-the-scenes goings-on, so if they see an actor's performance suddenly drop off, most are going to think "those wacky Hollywood types and their nose-candy binges".

    Kinda reminds me of how nuBSG did their secret Cylons. As much as I love the show, it still bothers me that they didn't even attempt to create backstories of how every character could be revealed as a cylon and still make some modicum of sense.
  9. Praxius

    Praxius Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Nov 9, 2009
    Melbourne, AUS
    I was first surprised about the genetic thing as he was apparently, but I didn't think it was horrible, in fact, it finally gave us a bit of Bashir's past history, which was pretty well nothing right up until that point.

    And what was given about his past in previous episodes seem to line up with the genetic modification concept anyways..... from all the various research he worked on, all the discoveries, all the things he could cure and fix that others couldn't, or not as fast.... to screwing up a simple question on his final exam that left him in second place of his class (which now sounds deliberate due to his genetic modifications).... and it also explains why we never saw his parents until that episode and why he didn't talk about them much.

    Also, through all the previous episodes, he seemed to continually make up a different story as to why he became a doctor each time he was asked, sorta like Garak and his multiple stories for one situation..... lies..... which his lies told truths ;)

    IMO, every character in the show had some personal problem or conflict they were continually working on through the series.... this was Bashir's.

    Sure he seemed gullible and immature at the start of the show, but he was in his early 20's and he was still a human being trying to figure out himself, his place, and how to land the right lady in his life.

    But also, let's not forget that earlier episodes, even as far back as season one, Bashir continually boasted and bragged about his accomplishments, his abilities, etc.... I always thought he was just full of himself.... then when it came out he was modified, it all started to make sense.... he wasn't just full of himself.... he literally was that good, and this is why.

    I think Siddig is being too hard on himself, his character and the concept..... it worked imo..... and it helped make his character more interesting.
  10. Myasishchev

    Myasishchev Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jan 20, 2009
    America after the rain
    My first reaction was "Wow, that is so unprofessional, my opinion of the man just dropped etc.," but then I realized the only reason I responded that way is because I disagree with his position, and I've lauded actors in the past (Nimoy, for example) who thought they knew their characters better than the writers, and who were proven right. Turns out it's a fact-specific inquiry, although here Siddig's just pure wrong. It was a good, good idea. Beyond the fact that it was good for Bashir's character, it was also a very interesting piece of world-building, giving rise to some serious questions about the Federation's morality in this regard.

    But, granted that it's a good idea, did they execute it flawlessly? Of course not. Even if any fiction were going to be perfect, television is going to be the last medium where perfection's going to be attained. Still, when you lay the revelation of Bashir's Augment-ness beside the subsequent treatment of some of the other game-changing plot twists they laid on the characters (Sisko as Space Jesus, Dukat's turn to Bajoran Satanism, or O'Brien's twenty years imprisonment, for God's sakes), it's comparatively genius.

    Probably the only other life-shattering event that wound up working better than Bashir's biological engineering is the reintroduction of the Dax symbiont in Ezri, and I'm not even sure that counts.

    There's no internal contradiction between being a super-genius and a social retard. I can be--I mean, Bashir could be both. :p
  11. flemm

    flemm Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    May 8, 2009
    That's true, but Bashir wasn't just actively being both. He was systematically deceiving everyone around him. Example: he and Miles played darts competitively. It turns out he was only pretending to play darts competitively. Early in season 6, he's shown making calculations faster than a computer. There had to have been countless situations where he had to hide these abilities while on duty, potentially risking the lives of his crewmates.

    What's difficult to believe is that he was genuinely naive and awkward, yet a master of deceit and deception.
  12. Tharsis

    Tharsis Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

    Jul 14, 2008
    I posted on here that I didn't like this story line some time ago and was quickly trashed by follow up posters. To me, it ruined some of the very interesting character development story-lines that occurred up to this point and made it difficult for me to like the Bashir character. It's vindicating to see that the actor himself felt this way, although I still found his relationship with O'Brien to be very enjoyable, regardless.
  13. toughlittleship

    toughlittleship Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Apr 5, 2006
    United Kingdom
    I liked it. It gave a different side to Bashir that was lacking.
  14. Kai Winn

    Kai Winn Captain Captain

    Nov 5, 2009
    unbelievable that no one ever figured out that bashir was modified, a scan with a tricorder reveals a single neuron out of line. don't they have medical check-ups before joining starfleet? the exploration of engineered humans in star trek was a great story arc, but tos and enterprise did it better. while 'statistical probabilities' was a fine episode, 'chrysalis' was not, and pairing up bashir in 'doctor bashir, i presume?' with a greater genius who didn't have the benefits of genetic tinkering did not really work.
  15. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    It was good idea, and I was OK with it until they brought in the Jack Pack. God, how I hated that entire plotline! I much preferred the tone it brought to his interactions with Section 31, and would rather have watched more of a duel back and forth between Bashir and a S31 that wants him in their pocket, or maybe decides he IS a threat to the Federation and continues to go after him
  16. Terra Pryme

    Terra Pryme Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    May 1, 2001
    The Savage (not mirror) Universe

    Couldn't have said this better myself. Not only these points, but the fact that this practically undermined everything that was learned about Bashir from previous episodes, particularly "Distant Voices" (season 3), when he was telepathically attacked by the Lethean. The fact this never came up at all proves to be a major continuity problem, not to mention other episodes like when he had the surprised reaction of being "in the zone" when O'Brien introduced him to the dartboard game and then suffered an injury, as well as being able to patch up his teddy bear at 5 years old, even though he certainly wouldn't have been capable of doing so if he were deficient at that age. Note that in "DBIP", Julian said he had the genetic treatments just before his 7th birthday.

    I never really cared for the Jack Pack episodes either. And the issue of eugenics being illegal seemed to be inconsistent as well. In TNG's "Unnatural Selection", there was the Darwin Genetic Research Station. And there was a colony of genetically-engineered people in "The Masterpiece Society", but in this case, they were isolated from the Federation, which makes me wonder what would have happened to those people who left the colony after that episode if laws against genetically-engineered people were enforced like they would be by "DBIP". Overall, it was a bad choice to place such a drastic change in a character like Bashir primarily because of these continuity problems.
  17. tkron

    tkron Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Apr 23, 2002
    Hanging out with John Berry.
    I thought it was a good idea that flubbed in a few places, like Jack's crowd. The idea of the enlightened Federation not letting genetically altered people contribute just rubbed me wrong. I can see some Federation member-planets that maybe aren't so hard-nosed about genetic engineering protesting that one.
  18. The Boy Who Cried Worf

    The Boy Who Cried Worf Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jul 12, 2008
    Can't say I liked it very much. It was too much of a retcon. Are we really supposed to by that oh Bashir was a super-genius and superior physically all along he just never used it? And I really could have done without the crazy genius gang episodes.
  19. Myasishchev

    Myasishchev Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jan 20, 2009
    America after the rain
    Seriously? Space Seed and the Augment arc, where the genetically engineered are portrayed as nearly motiveless villains? The episodes that give us the most unnuanced, prejudiced, outright chauvinist stories in the history of Star Trek? (Barring Code of Honor of course, because just... wow.)

    At any rate, I can kind of get on board the unlikelihood of Bashir not being discovered, but that's glossable. I mean, if they did it well enough to make it look like he'd born that way, I could see it getting through subsequent checkups that weren't actively looking for modifications. The fact that Bashir almost without a doubt had a prior medical history makes it harder to cover, though, so I'll give you the point for its implausibility.
  20. RobertScorpio

    RobertScorpio Pariah

    Jan 25, 2008
    San Diego
    I agree. I think Bashir, up to that point, was just a useless character...and that Bashir I Presume episode, I think, had one of his best performances. He should be thanking them instead of blasting them...oh well...Like Nimoy, Siddig will eventually change his tune and we'll get the "I AM Bashir" speech someday...