I must be feeling less cynical than I normally do for this week we had a love story episode and I found it entirely sweet and ultimately deeply sad.
The theme was quickly established in the open, with Julian Bashir looking for company but finding everyone doing things already. He’s then summoned, in the middle of the night, to the Infirmary, on the orders of ‘Admiral Patrick’. Re-enter the familiar quartet of genetically-enhanced misfits, Jack, Loren, Patrick and Sarina, last seen in Season 6 plotting, in an entirely logical way, to enable the Dominion to win the war and thus save the most amount of lives. That’s Jack, the permanently snappy and edgy, Loren the vamp, Patrick the big baby and Sarina: the catatonic.
Ever since last season, Julian’s been working on an operation to realign the barriers that imprison Sarina in her own mind: the enhanced have turned up to get Julian to carry out the operation. O’Brien can’t break the rules of Physics to enable Julian to carry out laser surgery with the necessary accuracy, but the enhanced can bend them to give him the control he needs.
The operation is a success, physically, but Sarina is unchanged. A despairing Julian is neatly analysed by Ezra over how he wants to punish himself, she being an expert at such things, but their discourse is interrupted by Sarina on the promenade, standing and staring. At “Everything”, she says, speaking for the first time ever.
And Sarina blooms from that point. She’s taking in everything she sees, looking at it with entirely new eyes, absorbed in wonder. And she’s a beautiful woman as well, so we can see what’s coming like a train heading for a demolished bridge. Who wouldn’t fall in love with her? She’s emerged completely free from any of the personality disorders that dog the other three, she has everything in front of her, she can do anything she wants. She’s everything Bashir has dreamed of, the woman who can exist at the mental and physical level he occupies.
There’s a beautiful scene midway that illustrates all of this with economy and rare delight. The speaking Sarina returns to her group to speak with them for the first time. Jack mocks her flat tones, especially when he gets her to do a do-re-mi. He asks her if she’s tone-deaf? Within seconds, the group organise a spontaneous singing round, playing with the scale. Sarina’s voice blossoms at every second until she’s singing amazingly. It’s both beautiful and lump-to-the-throat making.
(Apparently, Faith Salie, who plays Sarina, only discovered she had so lovely a voice when rehearsing this scene, whilst ironically, Tim Ransom, who plays Jack, turned out to be tone deaf himself and was the only one of the four to need overdubbing.)
With an episode like this, the underlying cliche is the suspicion that, in order to insert drama, the recovery will only be temporary and the patient will revert. This was the idea when the first storyline was mooted, of having Jack cured, be diminished as ‘normal’ and return to being a pain in the neck. That idea was rightly nixed, but it’s hinted at when Julian turns up at the enhanced’s quarters to find the other three working on preventing the universe imploding in sixty trillion years and Sarina seeming catatonic again. She explained that it was easier than disturbing their existing dynamic.
But in that tease is the ending. Julian’s in full-blown love mode and he makes the cardinal mistake of assuming that the feeling is mutual. Sarina does like him, is deeply grateful to him, wants to make herself into what he wants for him, because she owes him. But she doesn’t love him. She doesn’t know what love is yet. He has gone at things like a bull at a gate, overruled his obligations as a doctor in eager pursuit of his longstanding wants as a man, as a human being in need of sharing.
It’s painful. It always is, especially when you empathise so much, when stories like this are just a variation on your own stories. Of course, it’s also a necessity of the series. We’re not quite near enough to the end for something that upsets the status quo, so Doctor Bashir must remain Doctor Bashir, and all we can do is hope that, before time is up, Sarina will come back, of her own accord and understanding, and be what he so desperately wanted her to be for him.
And without looking forward to check on spoilers, I know she won’t.
Such a good episode.