Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Move Along Home"


Air date: 3/15/1993
Teleplay by Frederick Rappaport and Lisa Rich & Jeanne Carrigan-Fauci
Story by Michael Piller
Directed by David Carson

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Quark cheats the first visitors from the Gamma Quadrant in a game of Dabo, so the aliens decide to give Quark a lesson in fair play with a game that places Sisko, Kira, Dax, and Bashir in the middle of a surreal fantasy situation as the players. In order to see the DS9 officers to safety, Quark must play the game through—gambling with lives instead of money.

There is one big problem with "Move Along Home," and it's that the premise is very, very far-fetched. It just doesn't make much sense. The technology—something that allows the senior officers to become players in a game that Quark and the aliens are able to manipulate on a playing board—is never explained (which might be a good thing considering the alternative of technobabble). And it seems awfully convenient that the four players in this game would happen to be the senior officers. The alien "game" sets are impressive, and Carson's overhead camera angles and surreal imagery earn full marks for atmospherics.

Rene Auberjonois turns in another strong performance as an urgent Odo, and some scenes early on between Sisko and his son work well. But Quark's overwrought "groveling scene" falls flat, as does the constant repetition by alien game master Falow (Joel Brooks), who says "Choose their path" and "Move along home!" way too many times in the course of the episode. The motivation for placing the four main characters in such apparent peril strains credulity, assuming it exists at all. A very handsomely produced and often entertaining show, but it bears little scrutiny.

Previous episode: The Passenger
Next episode: The Nagus

Season Index

24 comments on this review

Phil - Fri, Jul 11, 2008 - 10:48pm (USA Central)
Man oh man I hate "Move Along Home". For me it's the DS9 equivalent of Next Gen's "Cost of Living". Some of the lighter episodes of the "Trek" shows that I didn't like in my youth (like "A Fistful of Datas") I enjoy much more when I revisit them but "Move Along Home" only worsens with age for me.

Side note - there's a shot in "The Nagus" that is composed and staged exactly like a shot in the opening scenes of "The Godfather" - with Quark in the same position as Don Vito Corleone. In the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" episode "Restless" there's a dream sequence that similarly mimics a scene from "Apocalypse Now". In that scene the character of Principal Snyder is in place of Colonel Kurtz. It just always struck me as funny that Armin Shimmerman twice recreated iconic Marlon Brando roles on sci-fi/fantasy television shows.

William - Tue, Jul 24, 2012 - 11:21pm (USA Central)

This always felt more like an early Next Gen to me. And while I know this episode isn't very good and I can't defend it at all, I liked it. The way you like Spam. You KNOW it's not good, but sometimes, you just like that Spam.

But I ain't gonna pretend this is classic DS9.

travis - Mon, Aug 20, 2012 - 7:46pm (USA Central)
"On behalf of the United Federation of Planets, welcome to Deep Space Nine."

"Yes, yes. Now where are the games?"

The episode is 90% silliness, but that opener worked perfectly considering how nervous Sisko and the gang were just a minute prior.
Frank - Sat, Sep 8, 2012 - 7:27am (USA Central)
This show makes just about every "Top 5 Worst DS9 Episode List" I've seen. I have to admit I have never had a problem with this episode and actually like it. Not a top episode for me but entertaining and would not have a problem watching it again if I came across it.
Van Patten - Tue, Sep 11, 2012 - 2:27pm (USA Central)
I'm somewhat surprised at the rating Jammer gives this, especially when he points out the obvious flaws, both in concept and execution.

The first 'official' visitors from the Gamma Quadrant arrive, the Wadi, and immediately request to be taken to 'The Games' - when they learn that Quark has cheated them, they take it upon themselves to force him into a 'Game' of their own, the pieces involved being four of the Senior Officers.

And I have to admit I wasn't looking forward with breathless anticipation to rewatching this one. The scenes with Dax,Sisko, Kira and Bashir playing 'The Game' haven't aged well - for me the episodes best scene is the opening sequence with Sisko talking to Quark in his bar about 'First Contact' protocol and as seems par for the course, the episode's strongest performance is once more Rene Auberjonois as Odo trying to get to the bottom of the mystery. I had forgotten that the Primmin character (James Lashly) appeared in this as well as 'The Passenger' and it's a shame he wasn't reused at all, as the interaction between him and Odo worked quite well.

As an hour of inconsequential silliness, it just about works, but I can't help but think this is the Season 1 low point, together with maybe 'Q-Less'. Even the oft-disparaged 'If Wishes..' works better for me than this - 1.5 stars.
grumpy_otter - Thu, Apr 11, 2013 - 4:00pm (USA Central)
Ugh. This is the first real miss for me, and it could have been so cool! I think the worst thing is that the game simply didn't make any sense. If it had been clear how the dice rolls worked to affect the game, or how the position of the tokens on the pyramid "board" related to the experience inside the maze, it might have been interesting. But as far as I could tell, the pieces sitting on the pyramid were just markers for the levels--so why did the pyramid have to be so elaborate?

One nice moment was when Quark realized he was playing with the lives (or so he thought) of the officers, and made a choice to benefit them against his greed.

Name - Sun, May 12, 2013 - 1:17pm (USA Central)
Very much late to comment on this, but after re-watching it just now, they do in fact hint at how it's done. After some scanning they mention a consistent energy reading similar to a transporter. Combined with the bright white room that Odo finds after boarding their ship, I'm left with 2 conclusions.

1: The used their transporter-like technology to dematerialize the officers and incorporated them physically into their game.

2: They were beamed into a holodeck-like area (white room) which is connected to the game on the station.

Both work fine with what we see, not everything needs to be explicitly explained (in fact that usually ruins everything when it is). After the game is over, they either re-materialize on the station or are beamed back down.
T'Paul - Sun, Jun 30, 2013 - 11:42am (USA Central)
I enjoy this one...

The only thing I would say is that the challenges could have been a little more sinister or dangerous, I don't know, for me that was the missing element... I know that some of them were (forcefields, gas, cliffs) but for some reason they just didn't feel dangerous.

Plus some kind of visual from the game to the pyramid would have made sense so the players could see what was going on.

But all in all I still like it.
Adara - Wed, Jul 17, 2013 - 5:18pm (USA Central)
I like this one too, silly as it is. Probably my favorite of season 1. (don't hit me!) Alamarain!
Dom - Fri, Aug 16, 2013 - 8:47pm (USA Central)
@ Adara, in a season that includes "Duet"? I actually might have to hit you for that.
azcats - Fri, Sep 6, 2013 - 5:07pm (USA Central)
Reminds me of the VOY:Thaw.

also, reminds me of a twilight zone.

or a movie on the Sci-Fi Channel called "The Cube."


also..the girl singing..reminds me of the Nightmare on elm street song...

1-2. freddy is coming for you
3-4, lock the door.
5-6, crucifix
7-8, stay up late.
9-10, never sleep again..

I like when Quark realizes what the game means....great scene.

it looks like this is the show where they finally get Odo's makeup to look good. he no longer has the wrinkly divoted skin. it looks like plastic now.

but finally, i dont know what the problem is. Jammer ALWAYS gets upset with technobabble. and the miracle ending. he should be totally satisfied. they LOST! the did not find a way to save themselves. refreshing ending.
Peace of Landru - Wed, Sep 25, 2013 - 6:45pm (USA Central)
I think all I need to say about this episode is that I would rather watch "The Way to Eden" any day over this ridiculous dreck. Spock jamming with the hippies freakin rocks.

I would reverse the ratings. Move Along Home should get zero stars and The Way to Eden should get 2 1/2. At least there is some semblance of a plot in Eden. This just completely sucks.
Snitch - Mon, Oct 14, 2013 - 6:13pm (USA Central)
It's bad, like Voyager Thaw, 1 Star from me. I even skipped it on my rerun.
Kotas - Tue, Oct 22, 2013 - 1:50pm (USA Central)

Somehow I was able to get over the absurdity of the premise and enjoy this episode.

Rawthar - Sun, Feb 23, 2014 - 10:12am (USA Central)
Seems like an editing issue. Bashir's 'death' seemed to more closely fit the description if the game choosing a random piece to remove from play. Whatever the heck happened with the whole cliff sequence was connected in no way to what was going on in Quark's bar
Quarky - Fri, May 9, 2014 - 12:41am (USA Central)
This episode isn't as bad as some fans make it out to be. I almost feel like some people feel like they are supposed to hate this episode so they do. It was a fun first season ep. I liked the idea of using real people as game pieces. Maybe people hate it because of the singing but I liked this ep.
Michinoku - Sun, May 11, 2014 - 7:49pm (USA Central)
I have to wonder if this episode came out around the time Jumanji was released? Because that's ultimately what the logic of the primary plot reminds me of. Ditto the above poster recognizing the similarity between this sing-song rhyme and the one from Nightmare on Elm Street, but then again I suspect all "creepy singsong rhymes" in most cinema sound the same.
Yanks - Tue, Jun 24, 2014 - 11:54am (USA Central)
A skipper for me.

Not only has this episode earned DS9's worst, it's right there in “the worst of all trek” running competition.

At least Spock's Brain was so bad it was humorous. At least most of Threshold was good. At least some of TATV was heartfelt. (I could go on)

The best line was:

"QUARK: Oh, that's right, you were here for the grovelling."

This whole episode "smelt of elderberries".

I’ll bet Odo was pissed he wasn't the one to catch Quark cheating his customers.

1/2 star for Quark's great line.
Sean - Sat, Jul 26, 2014 - 10:10pm (USA Central)
It's particularly bad when you watch this episode after you've seen all of DS9. Seeing all the amazing dark episodes of the later show, seeing all the amazing morally dubious things these characters have done. And then you see Sisko skipping and saying a rhyme. Lol wut. It's like the show is trolling.
Elliott - Mon, Aug 11, 2014 - 8:46pm (USA Central)
Teaser : ***, 5%

There's a bit where Sisko comments that's it has been about 3 years since he wore his dress uniform (to Jake, no less) which would seem to suggest W359 and Jennifer's death. Very subtly, this little bit of dialogue is hinting that Sisko has reached a point of healing where he can embrace his Starfleet persona again. This is coupled with the discussion with his son about how Sisko still sees him as a younger boy, playing with models, not interesting in girls, etc. Overall, the scene demonstrates how Sisko was "stuck" from the time of Jennifer's death until his new rôle as commander of DS9. Brooks even manages to act. It's subdued, honest and real. Bravo for that. It's also the absolute highpoint for this episode.

Julian didn't "pack" his dress uniform? What the hell, replicate one! Speaking of, why the hell is Bashir in the welcoming committee at all? I don't recall every seeing Crusher in dress robes to meet a new species. At any rate, considering how terribly Sisko's last first contact went, I can understand why he's so eager to impress the Waddi.

And then they arrive, sporting colourful shapes on their foreheads and the proto-Talaxian swimwear collection. And they want to play GAMES. Oh, can't we just have a death-match or alien possession, or can't you just rewrite someone's DNA? Please???.

Act 1 : *, 17%

Something which always bugged me--and yes, I know that the economics of the future have always been vague in Star Trek--but it seems to me that in order for currency to mean anything between different cultures, there has to be a unit standard. Otherwise you're just trading the "money" for its material value, bartering. Between established powers, I can see that happening (Romulans, Klingons, Bajorans, etc), but between the Ferengi and the Waddi? How could their money mean anything to Quark?

So the head Waddi offers to bet one of his special one-size-fits-all dildos, "priceless" nectar and the contents of a drawer at Hot Topic and ends up winning several games of Dabbo. Now, I can understand that Sisko is tired of dealing with this compulsive gamers and wants to go home, but shouldn't he have someone other than Quark take care of them? Show them quarters? You know, someone who actual has to report to Sisko and Starfleet?

Up to this point, the act has been lukewarm, middling around some inane dialogue and cheap looking props. Then Quark decides he's lost enough and he cheats the Waddi out of another Dabbo, for which we can all hate him. Oh, not because he's a cheat but because he ends up being responsible for the rest of this episode. For reasons which are never explained, the greeting party (Sisko, Kira, Bashir and Dax) are transported (it seems) into a virtual world in their sleep.

Act 2 : *, 17%

First question: Sisko was in his pyjamas when he fell asleep, so why is he now in uniform and carrying a tricorder? For 89 seconds, we get to see Sisko pushing buttons in vain until he finally gets a door to open on the laughing Waddi, who greets him with our episode's title.

Following this we get a triple-threat of terrible, embarassing acting and scripting:

1) Fadil's jaw literally drops like a damned cartoon when Sisko "wakes" him from his--well, it sounded like a nocturnal emission, but let's call it nightmare.

2) Ferrel blandly informs us that there's no "immediate danger" (you're not a Vulcan, Jadzia, and if you were, you'd make T'Pol look like T'Pau).

3) Visitor loses her shit, screaming like a maniac that she's "a Bajoran administrator!" in case her colleagues didn't know....clomping around and sneering.

So, Jake goes to Odo for help and we learn that Sisko has been physically transported somewhere (and obviously the rest of them). So, they aren't hallucinating.

Odo confronts Lieutenant Primmin (from the last episode), who's so poorly written he finds the idea of the entire senior staff not showing up to work literally laughable. He's equal in rank to Dax and Bashir, so why wouldn't he even try calling one of them? What a doofus.

So the head Waddi insists Quark roll the dice while the others bang their dildos against their boxes. -- ahem --

"Ah, but there's the key; some will never understand while others will consider it...mere child's play." Now there's an example of a clunky line, tying together Quark's comment about not understanding with the forthcoming challenge in as lazy and obvious manner as possible, just to seem clever.

Ready, set, embarrass yourself! I don't know if I can describe how unbelievably bad the next scene is. I'm amazed this doesn't bear the "SPOCK'S BRAIN!!!" infamy it deserves. Perhaps because watching these poor assholes submit their dignity, dance, hopscotch and sing their way through the "challenge" (what exactly was the challenge, by the way?) is both basement level dreck and surprisingly boring. Quark wins some more crystals for his Wicca altar, begging the question: since Quark obviously can't see what's happening during the game's challenges, how can this possibly be entertaining for those casting bets in the game? What, the Waddi just punches some buttons, they wait around for a few minutes, then the result is announced? It's like playing fantasy football but never watching any of the games! And cue the ominous music, because, um, ominous.

Act 3 : .5 stars, 17%

Who cast these extras? Or is this deliberate? They all keep staring at the speaking cast like cats sniffing a chicken bone, all while goofily fondling objects in their hands...I guess it makes sense that they'd all be ADD, but wow is it distracting.

Anyway, Quark figures out that his pieces are actually the missing officers, because, you know, FOUR. Must be a Jedi.

Kira remarks "rhymes and riddles and mazes..." But we've only seen one challenge so far. Are we to imply that potentially interesting things have been happening off camera so we can watch the Waddi goof around? Well, I guess we should be grateful it was off screen based on the next scene.

Kira literally says "excuse me" twice before she starts throwing shit around, totally at her wits' end, and screaming at the room full of fake people. What a LUNATIC! Not to be outdone, Bashir reaches for a glass of...Tang, because you know, may as well get your drink on. So they all start choking on the gas while the Waddi tell them to drink and laugh there butts off. And, some more terrible group acting while they drink, and...they're cured. Wow, what puzzle! I've learned so much.

Act 4 : .5, 17%

So, rather than questioning the Waddi over his suspicions, Odo decides to have Primmin scan their ship for human lifesigns. Okay...but, he is willing to take a crap on Starfleet protocol (that pesky thing about not invading peoples' space without permission or due cause) by transporting over without permission from anyone. Speaking of permission, who's in command, now? O'Brien's not on the station. Is it Odo? Primmin? I have no idea. Surely there are other senior officers beyond the four in the game on a station a dozen times larger than the Enterprise D!

"Is it against Starfleet policy to press a few buttons?" Um, no. It's not the button pushing put the illegal search and seizure that's against the policy there, Constib--I mean, Chief Odo.

Anyway, Odo finds the closet from "Poltergeist" on their ship, and runs through to find himself in Quark's. So that whole business with Primmin served no purpose other than to give Odo an excuse to complain about Starfleet again. Remember that argument about strawmen in DS9 on the "Homefront" page? This is what I'm talking about.

Instead of holding a phaser to their heads or locking them up or confiscating their ship or taking their gameboard for analysis, Odo, in the brazen manner we've come to expect from him, insists that Quark choose the safer path! heh. So, Quark blows on the dice like a human, sentencing the un-fFantastic Four to be attacked by Creatures of the Third Kind, and Bashir is...deleted, I guess.

Quark decides to risk it all and...oh God, they're banging the dildos again...and Quark has to "sacrifice one so two may live." Dun dun duunnnn....

Act 5 : 0 stars, 17%

So Quark gets on his knees and we learn that, even though before the commercial break, he was willing to kill all of them so they might skip a level, he can't choose one to be sacrificed. It's poorly handled by the writers, but the sentiment is appreciated: Quark has a heart after all.

Last move: Bashir's disembodied voices lures Dax to her doom. She is physically injured by a cave-in. The three of them lumber about awkwardly until they realise they need to leave Jadzia behind to move along (home that is). But they refuse to do it on the grounds that fuck you. 2 minutes and 27 seconds of wordless, drama-less climbing about later, they all fall do their deaths. (horay...) Or do they?????

All four materialise in Quark's, uninjured, not dirty, but still wearing their uniforms. What? So the Waddi gave them their own tricorders which registered tectonic shifts, broken limbs and energy patterns, but it wasn't actually real? But Jadzia was still in pain? But it was really a game? Wait, what if someone had a weak constitution and had a heart attack during the fall? Would they suddenly not have had it? Hang on, if there was never any "real" danger, and none of the Waddi or Quark or Odo could see what we, the audience, had to endure watching, what was the fucking point of having the game pieces correlate to an imagined world for the Four? For whose benefit was that? Is it so the stakes feel artificially higher for the newbie player who thinks his friends will die? I guess it's only fun to play with people who haven't before. What a great game!

So, for the first time when I'm totally with Sisko getting in someone's face and potentially punching their lights out (these Waddi are asses), Odo steps in to lay the blame on Quark--who didn't realise he was playing with their fates to begin with (except, I guess he wasn't anyway), and when he did realise, collapsed in a pathetic heap at the thought of sentencing one of them to die! All while Odo did the important job of absolutely nothing to stop the Waddi from playing, questioning them about the game, or alerting someone who might be able to help. Yeah, Quark's the bad guy.

So, after that the Waddi just leave. That's that--no punishment, no followup, Sisko just lets them go back home. Gee I hope they enjoyed their day in the Alpha Quadrant.

Episode as Functionary : .25 stars, 10%

The first two minutes between Jake and Ben are good--in fact they're a welcome change of pace from the ham-fisted way exposition and characterisation have typically been handled this season--and for that I will award the episode a tiny, tiny bit of use. The rest of the episode is so utterly pointless, contrived and insulting, I would suggest never, ever subjecting yourself to it. From the perspective of pure entertainment, this is unquestionably the worst episode so far. Bad acting, cheap sets, cheap motivations, and all under the pretence of a some people having fun!

Final Score : .5 stars
Charles - Sun, Nov 23, 2014 - 7:03am (USA Central)
Oh Elliott, I've laughed so much reading your review. This episode made no sense - it was like a silly TOS episode complete with cardboard sets, but without the excuse of being trapped on a distant planet by aliens and having to follow their rules. Here who can believe for a secodn that the kidnapping of 4 senior officers by aliens would not have meant the Starfleet Command being alerted immediately and the aliens on question being arrested??
Black_Goat - Thu, Dec 4, 2014 - 5:57pm (USA Central)
Move Along Home: C-
This is a surpassingly stupid episode, but I get the feeling that the people making it kind of knew that. Four of our leads play hopscotch for Christ’s sake! Obviously, the game makes absolutely no sense on a technological or metaphysical level, but I appreciate, as Jammer does, that they don’t try to explain any of it with technobabble. But the scenes in the game are mostly just kind of boring, and the repeated exclamations to “move along home” get quite old very quickly. We learn nothing new about any of the characters, and a token attempt to develop Quark fails due to the ultimately inconsequential nature of the game. As I said, however, there’s something slightly self-aware about “Move Along Home”: from Sisko lamenting the goofiness of their first visitors from the Gamma Quadrant, to Bashir forgetting his basically-identical dress uniform, to Quark’s fascination with a game that is apparently completely random and never actually explained to him. Not a good episode, but I don’t have the complete scorn for it that others seem to.

The Good:
- Unless stated otherwise, just assume Odo is a positive component of any episode.
- Hey, Primmin! Is he going to keep showing up? I’d be fine with that.
- I really liked the Sisko-Jake scenes. We haven’t seen much of Junior, but I’m glad his relationship with his dad is largely positive.
- I liked Dax asking the others to leave her behind. I continue to enjoy the Sisko/Dax relationship, and I think it’s interesting how Dax continually tries to hurt Sisko’s feelings in order to get him to stop looking after her.

The Bad:
- It is slightly disappointing that they wasted their first diplomatic meeting with Gamma visitors on the jolly gamblers. In general, the show hasn’t been exceptional at following up on interesting parts of the pilot: the Gamma Quadrant, the wormhole aliens, the Cardassians, Bajoran religion and Sisko’s role in that theology, and Bajoran-Federation relations have hardly been addressed at all.
MsV - Tue, Feb 17, 2015 - 5:38am (USA Central)
I hate this episode
Vii - Sun, Mar 1, 2015 - 11:24pm (USA Central)
I'm one of the rare few who didn't hate this episode. I don't really think it deserves all the vitriol it gets, but of course in comparison to season 4 and onwards, it does get short-shrifted. Still, like one of the previois posters mentioned, it's meant to be a silly episode, and we're not supposed to be taking it seriously.

Someone also mentioned that it was like VOY's 'The Thaw'. In this case, I think VOY executed it much better. Of course, that might have been because in VOY, there was a very real danger of actually dying, but I think VOY nailed the suspenseful, eerie atmosphere much better than 'Move Along Home' did. Then again, clowns are always creepy, but instead we get the Wadi with their Legolas hairstyles here.

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