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‘Ad Astra’ provides a solid legal drama

It’s interesting to consider how "Doctor Bashir, I Presume," a single episode of DS9 that was written to give its central character a story amid a 26-episode season, essentially retroactively established the entire legal framework around genetic engineering in the Federation. Up to that point, the topic of the Eugenics Wars functioned as a major one-off (well, two-off) via "Space Seed" and The Wrath of Khan — but genetic modification had not been established as universally canonically illegal (unless I’m forgetting or overlooking something).

In "Ad Astra Per Aspera," Commander Una Chin-Riley gets her day in court, following Starfleet’s discovery that she’s not human, but rather a genetically modified Illyrian who lied on her Starfleet records. After she turns down a plea deal (against the advice of her Starfleet-supplied lawyer) that would dishonorably discharge her from Starfleet with no jail time, the prosecutor, a rather inflexible-seeming Vulcan named Pasalk (Graeme Somerville), decides to make an example of her with charges of sedition carrying up to 20 years in prison.

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