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Inquisition (episode)

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(written from a Production point of view)
"Inquisition"
DS9, Episode 6x18
Production number: 40510-542
First aired: 8 April 1998
140th of 173 produced in DS9
140th of 173 released in DS9
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 173 released in DS9 Remastered  
513th of 728 released in all
Section 31 operatives
Written By
Bradley Thompson & David Weddle

Directed By
Michael Dorn
Unknown (2374)
  Arc: Section 31 and Julian Bashir (1 of 3)
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For the institution, see inquisition.

An officer from Starfleet Department of Internal Affairs arrives at the station and accuses Dr. Bashir of being a Dominion spy.

Summary

Teaser

Doctor Bashir is preparing to attend a medical conference at Casperia Prime as Odo teases him about the fact that such conferences are always held at sunny beachside resorts. As they talk, Chief O'Brien enters the Infirmary, having dislocated his shoulder kayaking in the holosuite yet again. Bashir fixes O'Brien's arm but warns him not to go kayaking for a while.

Luther Sloan
Luther Sloan, from Internal Affairs

The next day, the computer awakens Bashir at 0700 hours. He is extremely tired to the point where he has the computer confirm the time. Dragging himself out of bed, he packs to leave the station and bids farewell to his toy bear Kukalaka only to have Captain Sisko's voice come over the intercom, telling all senior officers to report to Ops. There Bashir finds that Deputy Director Sloan has arrived from Department of Internal Affairs and is discussing something grim with Sisko. When Sloan and Sisko emerge from the Commander's office, they announce that the crew will be confined to quarters until Sloan can investigate reports of a traitor among the senior staff passing information to the Dominion.

Act One

Now in his quarters, Bashir orders breakfast from the replicator, but finds it out of order. The door chime rings, and one of Sloan's officers informs Bashir that Sloan wants to ask him some questions. However, things do not seem right as she escorts him to the wardroom; a pair of officers carrying phaser rifles run past them in the corridor, but Bashir is told not to worry about it.

Sloan comes across as surprisingly charming when he meets with Bashir, casually asking about Bashir's experiences with the Dominion. They go over Bashir's imprisonment and encounter with a group of rogue Jem'Hadar, among other things. Before long, Sloan dismisses Bashir and promises to get the doctor his breakfast, as the replicators were taken offline as a security precaution.

Upon returning to his quarters, Bashir begins to suspect that someone has been there since he left as Kukalaka is now on his side but had been stood upright that morning, and a piece of equipment Bashir had dropped earlier is now back in its proper place. He receives a message from O'Brien, who says Sloan grilled the chief for over two hours -- and every question was about Bashir. Once the transmission cuts out, one of Sloan's deputies enters and escorts him back to the wardroom.

Act Two

After arriving, Sloan asks if Doctor Bashir received his breakfast. After Bashir answers, "Yes," Sloan immediately wants to clarify his notes since his last meeting. Immediately, Sloan's tone of voice has changed from a nice, easy going tone in the last meeting to one that is more stern. A few moments later, Sloan accuses Doctor Bashir of being a Dominion spy.

In Sloan's version of events, the Dominion "broke" the doctor during his time in an internment camp. The allegation is that Bashir was coerced into spying for the Dominion but his memories are repressed; as such, even if Bashir is spying, he hypothetically would not know it. When Sloan realizes he will not get anywhere with an interrogation, he has the guards escort Bashir -- in irons -- across the Promenade for all to see.

Act Three

DS9 holding cell
Bashir is detained in a holding cell

Later, Sisko intervenes and uses his power as commanding officer of DS9 to restrict Sloan's power over Bashir, but by this time even Sisko has begun to wonder if Sloan is correct. He believes his friend and colleague is telling the truth; however, he is unsure what to believe and reminds Julian he's made some very poor judgment calls recently. Sloan meanwhile has invoked an order from Starfleet Command telling him to "neutralize threats" to security, and he plans to put Bashir in prison until the war is over. However, as he speaks, Bashir is transported off the station by a Dominion-style transporter beam.

Bashir now finds himself aboard a Dominion warship, where Weyoun tries to convince him that he is in fact a Dominion spy.

Act Four

According to the Vorta, Bashir has gone through the same debriefing process a number of times, and the fact that the doctor does not believe his story does not surprise him. But rather than believing himself to be a spy, Bashir comes to believe Sloan is in fact the traitor. His conversation with Weyoun is interrupted as the ship comes under attack and Bashir is beamed aboard the USS Defiant.

This time, the crew all believe Bashir is a spy, and he is at a loss for words for why he was beamed aboard the Cardassian ship. His story about Sloan only sounds even more incredulous. As Bashir turns to O'Brien for support, the chief pushes him away, but Bashir realizes something is amiss. The chief's shoulder was dislocated previously, which leads Bashir to realize that none of the people around him are who they say they are.

Suddenly, the Defiant's bridge disappears and Bashir finds himself in a holodeck aboard a Federation starship, surrounded by three men in black uniforms, one of whom is Sloan.

Act Five

Sloan motions for one of his lackeys to remove an implant from behind Bashir's right ear but the doctor reacts defensively. Therefore, Sloan gives Bashir the honor of removing the implant. The recording from the implant show that without a doubt, Bashir has unquestionable loyalty to the Federation. Sloan also comments that had they known about O'Brien's injury beforehand, then they would've incorporated it into the program. Bashir then deduces that he was beamed off of DS9 in his sleep so that no one would notice his absence. This explains a number of things, among them why Bashir was so tired at the start of his day.

Tired of games, Bashir demands to know who Sloan works for. Sloan reveals that he is part of a covert organization known as Section 31, which he claims was part of the original Starfleet Charter but answers to no one. And they are charged with covertly dealing with threats to the Federation -- by any means necessary. Bashir asks what would happen if he was actually proven to be a Dominion spy. Sloan answers that they wouldn't be having this conversation now. Bashir voices his disapproval of Section's autonomy and blatant disregard for the founding principles of the Federation. Sloan tries to recruit the doctor into the organization, citing how Bashir likes to play spy in Quark's holosuites and his genetic modifications that were overlooked to continue his medical career. Bashir tries refusing, threatening to expose Section 31 but Sloan isn't threatened and promises that Bashir will eventually come around his way of thinking. As a result, Section 31 agents sedate him.

When he returns to DS9, Bashir learns from Odo that he was abducted the same time he was to go to the medical conference. Kira reports to Sisko that there were no traceable transporter signatures in Bashir's quarters, meaning that Section 31 must've gotten him off the station another way or may be in use of transporter technology that they cannot detect. Bashir asks Sisko if Starfleet has come up with anything. Sisko states that that there is no record of anyone called Director Sloan or Section 31, but Sisko's investigation with Starfleet Headquarters on the matter turns up some odd results. Sisko receives neither confirmation nor denial of Section 31's existence, only promises to look into the matter. However, they didn't say when they'd report back, implying a conspiracy. Bashir comments his surprise that Starfleet would sanction this type of black ops activity. Odo points out that Section 31 is comparable to the Romulans' Tal'Shiar or the Cardassian's Obsidian Order. Bashir refutes that point, asking if they would sacrifice their own principles. Sisko has no answer for that. Kira suggests that they try and track down Sloan themselves but Odo reminds everyone that if Section 31 has existed since the birth of the Federation, then they've learned to cover their tracks effectively. Whatever the true nature of Section 31 may be, it is clear they have not heard the last of Sloan. Next time they meet, Bashir has to accept membership to bring the organization down from the inside. Odo muses that Bashir will finally be able to play spy, but this time for real.

Memorable quotes

"Hot buttered scones, jam, and red-leaf tea. ...please."

- Bashir attempting to get breakfast from an offline replicator

"Ugh. It's a little early for gagh. Well I hope you're enjoying my scones, Worf."

- Bashir is given the wrong breakfast


"We'll get you out of this, Julian."
"I'm sure it's all a mistake." (Quark whispers to Kira) "Isn't it?"

- Kira and Quark


"I won't deny that Doctor Bashir has made some...questionable decisions in his career, but that's a long way from convincing me he's a traitor. Now so far, your case is based on circumstantial evidence and speculation."
"What other kind of case can I make against a man who covers his tracks so well?"
"That's a circular argument and you know it!"

- Sisko and Sloan


"Congratulations doctor, it's not often that we're proven wrong."
"I take it you finally believe I'm not working for the Dominion."
"I'm leaning heavily in that direction but to erase any lingering doubts, what do you say we make one final test?"
"I've finished playing games with you, Sloan!"
"I can assure you, Doctor, this is no game."

- Sloan and Bashir


"And what does Section 31 do - apart from kidnapping Starfleet officers?"
"We search out and identify potential dangers to the Federation."

- Bashir and Sloan


"Isn't it? Because if what you say to me is true, you function as judge, jury, and executioner, and I think that's too much power for anyone."
"I admit it takes exceptional people to do what we do - people who can sublimate their ambitions to the best interests of the Federation. People like you."

- Bashir and Sloan


"No, I'm sorry. But the ends don't always justify the means."

- Bashir


"How many lives do you suppose you've saved in your medical career?"
"What has that got to do with anything?"
"Hundreds? Thousands? Do you suppose those people give a damn that you lied to get in Starfleet Medical? I doubt it. We deal with threats to the Federation that jeopardize its very survival. If you knew how many lives we've saved, I think you'd agree that the ends do justify the means. I'm not afraid of bending the rules every once in a while if the situation warrants it. And I don't think you are either. In time you will agree with me."

- Sloan and Bashir


"I can't believe the Federation condones this kind of activity."
"Personally, I find it hard to believe they wouldn't. Every other great power has a unit like Section 31. The Romulans have the Tal Shiar, the Cardassians had the Obsidian Order..."
"But what does that say about us? When push comes to shove, are we willing to sacrifice our principles in order to survive?"
"I wish I had an answer for you, Doctor."

- Bashir, Odo, and Sisko


"Well, congratulations, doctor. Looks like you're going to get to play a spy after all... only this time, for real."

- Odo, after Sisko tells Bashir to join Section 31 the next time he's asked

Background information

Story and script

  • This episode began life as a comic show about bureaucracy and paperwork, or, as Bradley Thompson puts it, "dealing with the Department of Motor Vehicles on a Sunday. Bashir went to a planet to do something really nice, like saving the lives of everyone on the whole planet. He parked his runabout in orbit, and when he finished doing this wonderful thing, he found out that he had been towed and he had a parking ticket! So he had to go up against the bureaucracy. It was the ultimate genetically engineered human against the ultimate bureaucratic red tape." Thompson and David Weddle had the idea to do the show as a humorous version of the 1925 Franz Kafka novel The Trial, but when they pitched it to Ira Steven Behr, he immediately reformulated it into an episode involving a covert organization within Starfleet who decide Bashir is a Dominion spy and interrogate him by means of an elaborate holodeck program. As Thompson says "it stopped being a romp and became a nightmare." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • This episode marks the first appearance of Luther Sloan (William Sadler) on the series. It also introduces Section 31 to Star Trek. The idea for Section 31 was Ira Steven Behr's and was the culmination of his attempts to look into the darker aspects of the utopia created by Gene Roddenberry, to look under the surface of the idyllic Federation to see if everything was really as perfect as it appeared to be. He began this examination in the episode "The Maquis, Part II", with the line "It's easy to be a saint in paradise," and his investigation continued in episodes like "The Jem'Hadar" (where Quark points out that Humans are far from perfect), "Past Tense, Part I"/"Past Tense, Part II" (where the hell that humanity went through to get to Roddenberry's utopia is examined), "Homefront"/"Paradise Lost" (where those who protect paradise are shown as fanatical enough as to be willing to destroy it for its own 'safety'), "For the Cause" (where Michael Eddington compares the Federation to the Borg) and "Doctor Bashir, I Presume" (where a less than successful 24th century human from Earth is introduced). Section 31 was the culmination of this process of examination, a covert organization within Starfleet who could be said to be the "weasels under the coffee table" to which Behr referred in relation to "The Maquis, Part II". As Behr explains, "Why is Earth a paradise in the twenty-fourth century? Well, maybe it's because there's someone watching over it and doing the nasty stuff that no one wants to talk about." The very idea that such an organization as Section 31 could exist within Starfleet would have been completely alien to Gene Roddenberry's original vision, and as such, Section 31 represents one of Deep Space Nine's most controversial ideas, something which proved unpopular amongst many fans of both The Original Series and The Next Generation. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)

Production

Michael Dorn directing 'Inquisition'
Director Michael Dorn (in makeup) strikes a pose on the set of "Inquisition"

Trivia

Sloan: The last time you tried to attend a medical conference, you were taken prisoner by the Dominion.
Bashir: An experience I wouldn't care to repeat.
Sloan: I'm sure you wouldn't.
The irony of this is that, at the end of the episode it is revealed that Bashir was again kidnapped under the context of attending a medical conference.
  • At the end of this episode, when discussing that Section 31 is similar to the Romulan Tal Shiar and the Cardassian Obsidian Order, Bashir asks Sisko, "But what would that say about us? That we're no different than our enemies? That when push comes to shove, we're willing to throw away our principles in order to survive?", to which Sisko replies, "I wish I had an answer for you." In the very next episode, Sisko would be forced to ask himself this same question, and he would also get his answer.
  • Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko) does not appear in this episode.

Video and DVD releases

Links and references

Guest stars

Special guest star

Co-star

Uncredited co-stars

References

Bandee; Bopak III; Cardassians; Casperia Prime; Changeling; Defiant, USS; Department of Internal Affairs; Dominion; Dominion War; Template:ShipClass; Federation; Federation Council; gagh; handcuffs; holosuite; Internment Camp 371; Jem'Hadar; kayaking; Kukalaka; Moba jam; Martok; Milky Way Galaxy; Obsidian Order; Promenade; raktajino; red leaf tea; Risa; Romulans; runabout; scone; Section 31; Special Order 66715; Seventh Fleet; springball; Starbase 53; Starfleet General Orders; Starfleet Medical; Tal Shiar; tricorder; Tyra system; Vorta

External links


Previous episode:
"Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night"
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season 6
Next episode:
"In the Pale Moonlight"
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