|Dr. Bashir is captured by the Jem'Hadar!|
Dr. Bashir and Chief O'Brien are on a runabout in the Gamma Quadrant, when they detect a magneton pulse on an apparently uninhabited planet. They investigate, and soon find themselves prisoners of a group of Jem'Hadar!
These are unusual Jem'Hadar. Their leader, Goran'Agar (Scott MacDonald), has overcome the drug addiction the Dominion uses to keep the Jem'Hadar in slavery. Now he has taken his men to this world to wean them from the drug. But it isn't working, and his men will begin dying in five days. He gives Dr. Bashir that same deadline: Five days to find a cure for the drug addiction. If the doctor fails to save his men, then he and Chief O'Brien will be the first to die!
Capt. Sisko: Though he tries to discourage Worf from interfering with Odo's investigation, he doesn't actually order him to stay clear. Perhaps he senses that Worf needs to learn from his mistakes before he'll start fitting in. After Worf bungles Odo's undercover operation, Sisko is quite amiable with Worf, calmly explaining that life on the station comes with "shades of gray" that he would never have experienced on the Enterprise. He assures Worf that once he learns the unofficial rules, he will fit in.
Dr. Bashir: The focus of the episode is on Bashir's dedication to life, even the lives of Jem'Hadar. Given the opportunity to search for a cure to the Jem'Hadar's addiction, he can't help but throw himself into it. He sees the most positive of outcomes if he succeeds: Freed of their addiction, the Jem'Hadar may start questioning all the rules that have guided their existence. The Dominion may be deprived of their army. When O'Brien disagrees, Bashir does something he's never done before: He pulls rank and orders O'Brien to help him, something which seems to shock both men.
O'Brien: O'Brien the war veteran views the situation in the simplest terms. He and Bashir are prisoners; it is their duty to escape. He disagrees with Bashir about freeing the Jem'Hadar, as well. He sees the potential for things to become worse if they are free, telling Bashir: "You don't know how the other Jem'Hadar will react when they're off the drug. They may go marauding through the galaxy on their own. At least now the Dominion keeps them on a short leash!"
Worf: Is having trouble adjusting to no longer working Security. When he sees a known smuggler in Quark's bar, he insists on pursuing the matter, even when Sisko attempts to discourage him. It's a given that he'll end up acting more as a hindrance to Odo than a help. But though it's a predictable "B" plot, it does end with a good scene between Worf and Sisko, one that highlights the challenges the Klingon will face fitting into an environment so much less regimented than what he's used to.
Though not up to the level of the three standout episodes preceding it, Hippocratic Oath is another strong episode. The main plot picks up on details planted in last season's The Abandoned. That episode established that the Jem'Hadar are controlled through a genetically-engineered drug addiction. Here, we learn that the Vorta are the ones who directly control them. Most Jem'Hadar have never even seen a Founder. Thus, we get a clearer picture of the hierarchy. The Founders are in control, but mostly at a distance. The Vorta are the direct administrators of the Dominion. Finally, the Jem'Hadar are the ground troops and enforcers.
The starkly different ways Bashir and O'Brien approach the situation contrast both characters effectively. Neither one is firmly in the right or the wrong. Bashir's desire to free the Jem'Hadar is noble, and he judges Goran'Agar correctly. However, the script shows that there may be no cure - Goran'Agar's freedom may simply be a result of a flaw in his genetic engineering, one that can't be replicated with the others.
O'Brien's points also ring true. We have already seen that, even separated from the environment of the Dominion at birth, the Jem'Hadar have been engineered to be instinctive killers. It is certainly unlikely that Bashir would be spared, even if he successfully freed them of their addiction.
The "B" plot is less interesting, though it does serve to smooth Worf's transition to the new show and setting. I did appreciate the episode taking a moment to follow up on the new Klingon aggressiveness, by noting new actions they are taking against the Romulans. Set up for a future episode, by any chance?
A good but not great entry, Hippocratic Oath does keep several of the plot strands developing, while also delivering some strong characterization.
Overall Rating: 7/10.