the story: Bashir becomes obsessing looking for a cure to a plague the Dominion unleashed on a dissenting world long ago.
what it's all about: You know someone figured "Hippocratic Oath" didn't quite achieve what it set out to at the start of the season when there's not one but two rebuttals at the end of the season, and they hit back-to-back. Last episode, "To the Death," the Jem'Hadar are revisited, while in "The Quickening," Bashir gets a second chance to tackle an impossible medical dilemma.
"Oath" was to my mind a bitter disappointment, such an outlier for the season that it came to symbolize an effort to rebrand the series as something dramatically different from what it'd previously been. But the wheel didn't need to be reinvented, and the rest of the season proved that quite handily, and so it needed to be addressed if not outright vindicated. In "Oath" Bashir finds himself at odds with good buddy O'Brien as he attempts to cure the Jem'Hadar of a Founder-inflicted addiction to keep they loyal. The great advantage of "Quickening" is that it refocuses the medical dilemma in such a way that represents why we're supposed to hate the Dominion, which is kind of crucial at a point in which the series was creeping closer to war against it.
Actually, this is the one episode of the series that does make the Dominion to look evil, demanding conformity at any cost and exacting a terrible price if questioned. In essence, as the Jem'Hadar had done long ago, "Quickening" makes the Dominion look like an updated Klingon Empire, Klingons having been taken off the enemies list except for the Dominion-instigated war Deep Space Nine gamely attempted to introduce, until it realized the Klingons were too popular to be enemies again, and somewhat rapidly ended the arc a season later without having really done anything with it.
So the spotlight on this episode is Bashir, and the new kind of storytelling Deep Space Nine represented, where endings weren't necessarily happy with tidy resolutions. This was actually one of the rare episodes where this was most true, and it's much easier to swallow here than in "Oath" because the story keeps the focus on Bashir's efforts rather than trying to shift it to an ill-fitting disagreement with a friend.
- franchise - Classic medical dilemma.
- series - Illustrates the reason why the Dominion is the enemy.
- character - Gives Bashir an excellent medical spotlight.
essential- Keeps everything fairly contained so you could skip the episode and not miss anything about the whole Dominion arc.