Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1995): S03E13 – Life Support


Introduction

“Life Support” is the 59th episode of the syndicated American science fiction television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the 13th episode of the third season and the first episode to air following the premiere of Star Trek: Voyager.

Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures on Deep Space Nine, a space station located near a stable wormhole between the Alpha and Gamma quadrants of the Milky Way Galaxy. In this episode, during pivotal negotiations with the Cardassians, Vedek Bareil Antos (Philip Anglim) is severely injured.

Outline

As the show opens, a Bajoran transport carrying Kai Winn (Louise Fletcher) and Vedek Bareil (Philip Anglim) suffers a mishap, and Bareil is left injured. He is brought on board Deep Space Nine, where he is treated by Dr. Bashir (Alexander Siddig). They soon, however, find that he is braindead.

After Bashir tries to console Major Kira (Nana Visitor), who is also Bareil’s lover, he begins an autopsy. Bashir soon learns that Bareil’s nervous system is still active even though his brain can’t process. He theorises that the radiation Bareil was exposed to must be the cause and so he attempts to revive him by regenerating his brain. Bashir succeeds and revives him. Kai Winn is pleased and wants Bareil to assist her in the negotiations with the Cardassians that were begun by Bareil.

Bashir soon discovers that the revival has caused Bareil’s blood vessels to be restricted and is damaging his internal organs. He advises Bareil to go into stasis so that Bashir can find a solution, but Bareil refuses so that he can finish the negotiations and create peace for his people. Bashir then considers giving Bareil the drug Vasokin, which would increase the blood flow to his organs and allow him to resume negotiations, but would ultimately damage his internal organs further.

The talks resume, but Bareil’s condition continues to deteriorate, especially with Kai Winn continuing to probe him for advice when he should be recovering. Eventually, the Vasokin treatments begin to inflict brain damage, and Bareil falls unconscious again. Bashir suggests a procedure – replacing the damaged part of his brain with a positronic matrix.

The surgery is a success, but Bareil is still severely brain-damaged with a life expectancy of only a few months, just enough time to possibly conclude his negotiations with the Cardassians. Kira speaks with him, but he barely recognises her and is no longer the man she fell in love with.

Bareil is kept alive long enough to aid in completing the negotiations, and the treaty is signed between Bajor and Cardassia. As Bareil’s condition worsens, Kira asks Bashir replace the remainder of his damaged brain with positronic matrices, but Bashir refuses on the grounds that it will remove any ‘spark of life’ that Bareil has left. The episode closes with Kira at Bareil’s bedside, recounting for a slowly dying Bareil how she first fell in love with him.

In a secondary plot that runs throughout the main story, Commander Sisko’s (Avery Brooks) teenage son Jake (Cirroc Lofton) and his Ferengi friend Nog (Aron Eisenberg) are confronted with the contrast in their different cultural views toward women and dating.

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Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Reza Badiyi.
  • Writer(s): Christian Ford and Roger Soffer.
  • Release Date: 31 January 1995.
  • Running Time: 45 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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