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Statistical Probabilities (episode)

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(written from a Production point of view)
"Statistical Probabilities"
DS9, Episode 6x09
Production number: 40510-533
First aired: 22 November 1997
131st of 173 produced in DS9
131st of 173 released in DS9
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 173 released in DS9 Remastered  
494th of 728 released in all
Mutants
Teleplay By
René Echevarria

Story By
Pam Pietroforte

Directed By
Anson Williams
Unknown (2374)
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Bashir helps a group of eccentric genetically engineered Humans who are visiting him try to make a useful contribution to the Federation; the Dominion offers to sign a truce with the Federation.

Summary

Lieutenant Karen Loews, a Starfleet psychiatrist, brings four genetically engineered Humans to Deep Space 9 looking for help from Dr. Bashir. The group hasn't been as lucky as Bashir, and every one has strong social disabilities (mania, bipolar disorder, catatonia, etc.). Even if they have ambiguous feelings for "mister productive member of society" at first, they eventually accept Bashir as one of them.

In a meeting with the rest of the station's senior staff, Bashir informs them of his wish to help the group become normal members of society. The feedback he receives is divided, but Bashir decides to give it a try regardless. They are interrupted when the patients break into the com system to contact their new friend about an annoying high-pitched noise. Back in their quarters, Bashir confirms what nobody else can hear and Miles O'Brien soon arrives to fix the problem with some unexpected help from Patrick.

While Bashir and O'Brien are in the room, the newly appointed leader of the Cardassian Union, Gul Damar, broadcasts a speech, and not wanting to miss it they watch it on the room's viewscreen. The transmission captures the group's attention, and they are quickly enthralled by it, making very accurate guesses about who Damar is even though they know nothing about him. Bashir and O'Brien are astonished at the speed with which the group is able to deduce much of Damar's story based on only the one speech. They become very interested in the matter and quickly go through all the database material about Cardassia and the Dominion. Grabbing the opportunity, Bashir convinces Captain Sisko to let his new friends assist the peace talks between the Dominion and Starfleet on the next day. The group proves very useful at uncovering a move by the Dominion to acquire a strategic planet that would allow them to produce ketracel-white. Sisko even agrees to send the information, and the analysis behind it, to Starfleet Intelligence.

In the meantime, Bashir goes to Quark's with O'Brien after the group notices that the chief seems to miss his friend, especially since his wife is off-station. Bashir proves difficult, walking the wrong side of the thin line between super-intelligent Humans and "uncomplicated" (as he qualifies O'Brien), "slow" people.

Later, back with the group, Bashir attempts to cheer them up by announcing that Starfleet has granted them access to classified information, but he is welcomed by a new and devastating projection. According to them, the Federation will be defeated and eventually rebuild from a rebellion against the Dominion. Since it seems inescapable, the best move would be to surrender immediately to prevent the loss of life. With that in mind, Bashir tries to convince Sisko to take the appropriate action, but the captain refuses point-blank to accept this and passes on the projections to Starfleet without his endorsement knowing they'll be rejected. It is Quark who eventually brings enlightenment to Bashir by pointing out at a dabo table that even when the odds are against you, you can still win.

Nevertheless, when Bashir explains the situation to the others, they chose to take the fate of the Federation into their hands and contact the Dominion by themselves. Bashir objects, so they disable him. Fortunately with the help of Sarina, he is able to prevent them from committing treason. To his angry "friends", he then explains that even when probability is not on your side, one person can still change the course of history. As such, the Federation is willing to bet nine hundred billion lives.

Jack is still furious, but Bashir assures them that he would listen if they ever found a way to defeat the Dominion. Bashir then promises to visit them at the Institute where they were to return.

Memorable quotes

"Did you hear that? He used the passive voice transitive."
"Since when can you speak Dominionese?"
"Since this morning."

- Jack and Bashir


"They're going to cut us open, see what makes our biologically-enhanced brains tick!"

- Jack


"There are rules, don't talk with your mouth full, don't open an airlock when somebody is inside it, and don't lie about your genetic status!"

- Jack


"It's not our place to decide who lives and who dies! We're not gods!"
"Maybe not, but we're the next best thing."

- Bashir and Jack


"You're welcome to play your little "we're all friends here" act with me. But I wouldn't try it on Captain Sisko. He's not in the mood."
"We're on a mission of peace, Major. Maybe he should get in the mood."

- Kira and Damar


"Well, I'd love to stay and chat about our impending doom but..."

- Bashir, when he is called away from dinner to deal with Jack

Background information

Story and script

  • This episode originated in Ira Steven Behr's desire to probe deeper into Bashir's genetic enhancements, not his 'abilities' per se, but the implications of those abilities; "I was never totally comfortable with our discovery of Julian's genetic engineering. It was one of those revelations that did not seem quite authentic to me. We'd had to work backward to get it. So I felt we needed to do something to help that idea along." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • The storyline was based on Isaac Asimov's classic Foundation Trilogy. Asimov based his work on issues raised in Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and the basic plot involves a scientist (Hari Seldon) who develops a branch of mathematics known as psychohistory which he uses to calculate that galactic civilization is doomed to fall, leading to 30,000 years of darkness and barbarism. Seldon, terrified at this prospect, takes action to attempt to minimize the oncoming "dark ages" to only 1,000 years, but his plan fails to foresee that the actions of a single individual could render his predictions invalid. Psychohistory is based upon mass action, and it can only predict the future when dealing with large groups, predicting trends in large masses of people, which is why Seldon fails to take into account the actions of individuals – when it gets down to individual people, the variables become so vast as to be impossible to calculate, so the predictions become unstable. In the novels, a character called The Mule, who has psychic abilities, becomes intimately involved in events, and directly influences their outcome, something which Seldon's psychohistory could never have predicted. This is exactly what happens in the episode: the savants make large scale predictions based upon mass action, but they fail to take into account the actions of one single individual, who comes to directly affect everything they have predicted. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • In René Echevarria's first draft of this episode, the savants were a think-tank that had been recruited and trained by Starfleet Intelligence. They had been sent on an intelligence mission to Deep Space 9 and they were to operate under the supervision of Bashir. However, because the story called for the characters to be somewhat neurotic, the idea that Starfleet had entrusted these people with such sensitive information quickly became absurd, and Echevarria changed the plot so they were sent to Deep Space 9 not as intelligence consultants, but simply for counseling. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • Echevarria's second draft had the episode begin before the savants arrive, and featured a lengthy scene where Bashir finds out about the personality of each one, but Echevarria realized it was better to introduce the characters by showing their idiosyncrasies in action as opposed to telling the audience about those idiosyncrasies. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • The character of Jack is based upon Dean Moriarty (who was based on Neal Cassady), one of the main characters of the 1951 Jack Kerouac novel On the Road, a wannabe philosopher who talks at a mile a minute. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)

Production

  • Of her performance as Sarina, actress Faith C. Salie says "I was told to behave pretty much catatonic. Anson told me, 'There's a lot going on in your mind, because you're genetically enhanced, and you're brilliant, but you can't facilitate it because your body doesn't know how.' I created a switch in my brain that I could turn on and off to make everything become hazy around me, so that it seemed as if an amalgam of voices and sense were coming at me and that it was overwhelming." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • Of his performance as Jack actor Tim Ransom says "I figured he's the equivalent of a guy who drinks forty cups of coffee a day." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • Of her performance as Lauren, actress Hilary Shepard Turner says, "She was described as being obsessed with Bashir, and very va-va-voom, but I decided to make her a little Hannibal Lecter-ish as well. It was director Anson Williams' idea to never have Lauren stand up. The only time I ever stood was when I danced with Bashir." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • Of his performance as Patrick, actor Michael Keenan says, "He's essentially a child, so I just played him that way. Children have instant access to their emotions and they don't filter anything, so that's what I did." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • Of his scene speaking the Vorta language, Jeffrey Combs commented "That was very strange. I had to work hard to for that very tiny little bit. It's very hard to speak a language that's totally made up, and yet keep the cadence and sensibility of an actual line in English. Because what they did is they played it once in English and then they replayed it in Vortanese (or whatever it is), and I had to really concentrate to get that the way I worded it. They gave me syllabic words, and it was up to me to break it down into the phraseology that I did. It's interesting how the brain works. I really, really had to hang in there and run it by rote. It's easy to memories words and phrases and strings of thought when it's your native language, but when it's a nonsensical group of syllables, it takes a lot more brain juice to make it seem very easy and conversational". ("Double Act", Star Trek Monthly, issue 43)
  • The music played at the "party" is Johann Strauss the Younger's An der schönen blauen Donau, more commonly known in English as "The Blue Danube", a waltz written in 1867, and later featured in VOY: "Renaissance Man". The dance sequence was originally supposed to be far more elaborate than that seen in the final episode, and was to include a lengthy crane shot, but neither Alexander Siddig nor Hilary Shepard Turner were able to dance properly, and in the end, the shot was scrapped. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • During pre-production of this episode, there was a great deal of discussion as to where to set it, i.e. where to have the savants. The script specified that they were to be in the wardroom, but from a practical point of view, shooting several scenes with five characters in a such a relatively small location, was not desirable, so it was agreed to move the scenes to somewhere else. It was Steve Oster who suggested the cargo bay, because "we thought we might be saying something about Starfleet's treatment of these people if we put them in the cargo bay." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)

Reception

  • This is one of Alexander Siddig's favorite shows; "People ask, 'Was that a comedy or a drama?' "Statistical Probabilities" was like that, not quite one thing or the other. The humor came out of the misery and angst captured by those wonderful actors. And I enjoyed the fact that Bashir served as a kind of pinball throughout that show. He was just battered about." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • Siddig also admires the show for its political engagement; "The episode touched on a couple of political issues in terms of whether or not you can incarcerate people like this. I think the commentary that came out of Bashir's mouth was right and called attention to the fact that double standards happen in society. We do put good people away, like the Japanese-Americans placed in internment camps during World War II. The group in this episode seemed like lovely people, and Bashir showed some vulnerability in the fact that he understood their plight. They might not have been misfits if they had not been put away for such a long time." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)

Trivia

  • This is the first of two episodes to be directed by Anson Williams. The second is "It's Only a Paper Moon".
  • Jack, Lauren, Patrick and Sarina reappear in the seventh season episode "Chrysalis". Indeed, the writers only conceived of this show because Sarina never spoke in "Statistical Probabilities", and they were interested in developing her character a little more. Originally, she was supposed to have a few lines in this episode, but the scene in which she spoke (when she untied Bashir) was cut for time.
  • Observing Gul Damar's broadcast, Jack references William Shakespeare's plays Henry IV, Part II ("Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.") and Macbeth ("Methought I heard a voice cry 'Sleep no more!' Damar does murder sleep.")
  • Luther Sloan references the events of this episode in "Inquisition" and again in "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges".
  • Damar becomes leader of the Cardassian Union in this episode.
  • Interestingly enough, the group's predictions about the Romulans entering the war and the Cardassian Rebellion would later come true. However, the Romulans were brought into the war through the action of just two individuals, Garak and to a lesser extent Sisko.

Video and DVD releases

Links and references

Starring

Also starring

Guest stars

Uncredited co-stars

Stunt double

References

adjutant; Alpha Quadrant; Bashir, Amsha; Bashir, Richard; Bashir, Singh el; "Blue Danube, The"; Cardassia; Cardassians; Cardassian Empire; cormaline; coup; dabo; darts; DNA resequencing; Dominion; Dominionese; Dukat; Earth; Eugenics Wars; Federation; genetic engineering; Holna IV; "Institute"; Jem'Hadar; Kabrel system; Kabrel I; Kabrel II; Kandora champagne; ketracel-white; mizinite; Mutant; neck; O'Brien, Keiko; Obsidian Order; power coupling; Quark's; Romulans; Saber-class; Shakespeare, William; Starfleet; Starfleet Command; Starfleet Intelligence; Steamrunner-class; surrender; three-dimensional chess; Tora Ziyal; treason; tricorder; Yeager-type; yridium bicantizine;

External links


Previous episode:
"Resurrection"
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season 6
Next episode:
"The Magnificent Ferengi"

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