Writing the Teaser of “Hippocratic Oath”
The teaser of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “Hippocratic Oath” included opening scenes from both the A plot, with Bashir and O’Brien being captured by the Jem’Hadar, and the B plot, with Worf adjusting to not being chief of security anymore.
During the story break for this episode, we had decided to start with the Worf story. The purpose of the scene in Quark’s was to show Worf having trouble letting go of his previous role in security.
I wrote two drafts of the episode’s script, and in my first draft, I had Kira walking up to Worf and delivering some exposition about how he had just gotten off a long duty shift and here he was still working, doing a job that wasn’t even his own. The line came across kinda clunky, telling the audience what was happening instead of showing it.
In the second draft (and the final version of the episode), Quark approaches Worf, who is trying to identify an alien in the bar based on a mugshot. We get some physical comedy as he mimics Worf’s actions of looking back and forth between the alien and the image, then comments that it’s the worst mugshot he’s ever seen. This sets the light tone of the B story, while also letting the audience see Worf doing the job of a security officer.
Then, Kira comes by and Worf verbalizes his frustration with Odo’s methods, complaining that he lets criminals do business right under his nose. This sets up the lesson that Worf ultimately has to learn about how things work differently on DS9 than they did on the Enterprise.
Then, we cut to Bashir and O’Brien in a shuttlecraft, in mid-conversation. Their stated mission, surveying a nearby planetary system, is irrelevant to the story. It’s just an excuse to put these two characters in a shuttle together. The purpose of the scene is to show the friendship that has been developing between them over the course of the series.
O’Brien tells Bashir about setting up a workshop in the bedroom he shares with his wife Keiko. She finds this objectionable, but Bashir offers his understanding. This prompts O’Brien to ask why Keiko can’t be more like… and he cuts himself off before finishing the sentence. Bashir knows full well what O’Brien stopped himself from saying, and razzes him about it. The scene shows their easy camaraderie, which will be severely tested by the upcoming events of the episode.
When the shuttle is subsequently hit with some kind of weapon, I used the moment to again emphasize the cooperative relationship between Bashir and O’Brien, as they work together in an effort to address the problem. However, they end up crash-landing in the dense jungle of an alien planet, where they’re surrounded by a group of Jem’Hadar soldiers. End of teaser.
The teaser didn’t change significantly from one draft to the next, other than slight dialogue adjustments. In the second draft, I added another beat showing Bashir and O’Brien’s friendship after they land on the planet, joking about how bad their crash site smells. This moment (which is also present in the final version of the episode) provides a sharper contrast to the next moment, when the Jem’Hadar troops appear all around them and our heroes realize how much trouble they’re in. One other thing changed: the quantity of Jem’Hadar soldiers, as there were four of them in the first draft and six in the second draft as well as in the filmed version.
The teaser to this episode ran a little longer than average, but it also accomplished a lot in terms of setting up the story. I’d like to think that it was effective in getting viewers intrigued enough to keep watching.
A staff writer on Star Trek: Voyager, Lisa Klink worked on that series for three years. She has also worked on several other shows, including Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Roswell, and Pandora. Lisa has written or co-written four novels, as well as short stories, graphic novels and screenplays.