Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"If Wishes Were Horses"


Air date: 5/17/1993
Teleplay by Nell McCue Crawford & William L. Crawford and Michael Piller
Story by Nell McCue Crawford & William L. Crawford
Directed by Robert Legato

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

In a rather silly "sci-fi" premise, the station is rocked by troubles arising from the station inhabitants' own imaginations. The mystery conjures three fantasy characters out of thin air, and supplies them with a few light comic moments before revealing them as alien creatures with unknown motives or intentions. The three fantasy characters: (1) Buck Bokai (Keone Young), a baseball player from the 21st century who follows Jake home from a holosuite simulation; (2) Rumpelstiltskin (Michael John Anderson), who terrorizes Chief O'Brien; and (3) Julian's fantasy version of Dax, who drools all over the young doctor.

This episode seemingly hopes to earn points for being weird (including a scene featuring a snow storm on the promenade), but the weirdness falls flat under the routine execution. No one seems genuinely concerned about the strange happenings on the station, not even when they escalate to the point of impending apocalypse in the form of a spatial anomaly which threatens to destroy DS9 and the entire Bajoran system along with it. Boy am I tired of spatial anomalies.

The entire final act drowns in a staggering quantity of forgettable technobabble, and the boring jeopardy premise is solved far too quickly when Sisko realizes the threat can be eradicated if the crew can simply control its collective imagination. A few redeeming laughs and a final dialog scene between Sisko and the Bokai alien save some face. But it's still the weakest episode of DS9's freshman season.

Previous episode: Progress
Next episode: The Forsaken

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17 comments on this review

Cail Corishev - Wed, Sep 12, 2012 - 8:02pm (USA Central)
I agree that this is the worst episode of the season. On paper, it looks like standard Trek: weird stuff starts happening, and they trace it to a Sufficiently Advanced Alien, and everyone learns a lesson about not letting your imagination run away with you.

I think it fails so badly because the characters are too busy talking to the imaginary characters, and we don't get any of the camaraderie that made the earlier episodes better than their plots deserved. No Chief/Julian or Jake/Nog, very little Odo/Quark or Ben/Jake. Just Julian/Jadzia, which was never going anywhere because he was too nice too her, and people talking to imaginary guest stars we have no reason to care about.

Curiously, in the last episode, Ben has no problem with Bajor's decision to move an old man from his home (or kill him if he won't move) for the sake of others; but here he immediately opposes Chief being given the chance to sacrifice his daughter to save everyone on the station.
Van_Patten - Fri, Jan 4, 2013 - 6:45pm (USA Central)
Often derided ( not least by Jammer) as the weakest episode of Season 1, I must confess I wasn't exactly breathless with anticipation for this one, and let's not kid ourselves, it isn't up to the best things This series has done.

So the basic plot revolves around Spacial anomaly number 7 or 8 of the season (I really do think the writers needed more imaginative Macguffins but no doubt Effects budgets played a part) which gives people's imaginations form, the three main centring on O'Brien (Rumpelstiltskin), Bashir ( a subservient Dax) and Jake (Buck Bokai- imaginary breaker of Babe Ruth's hitting streak)

That's really all there's to it - because the jeopardy premise is so lacking, the episode really drafts by, with as Cal Corishev, rightly puts it, interaction between Guest characters ( you could call the fake Jadzia A guest) and the main ensemble never really hoping to rise above the inconsequential.

Nevertheless, it is not, for me the weakest of the season. In fact in star rating terms I'd agree with the two star rating. The highlights are the always Welcome Michael J.Anderson. (The Dancing 'Man from Another Place' in Twin Peaks) as Rumpelstiltskin and the final interaction between Sisko and Bokai (although it seems odd that the Aliens have never encounterd a Species with imagination before)- I also enjoyed the scene with the fake and real Dax and Bashir a lot.

So, largely inoffensive, but definitely better scripted and less trite than 'Q-less' and not as irritating as 'Move along Home' - In the bottom 5 of the season, certainly, but definitely not the weakest episode for me.
Comp625 - Mon, Jan 14, 2013 - 12:12pm (USA Central)
I am surprised this episode even garnered a 2-star rating. The premise is extremely far-fetched and absurdly ridiculous.

At first, I thought the episode was hokey because I rewatched it in the year 2012 (and MAYBE the premise was a little bit more plausible in 1993 when this first aired). Then I started to realize how much this episode reminded me of TNG Season 1's "Where No One Has Gone Before" (and a little of "The Naked Now" with lust overpowering the show's doctor).

All imagination-gone-wild iterations are far-fetched and absurdly ridiculous, regardless if it's 1987, 1993, or 2012.

My rating: 1 star out of 4
T'Paul - Sun, Jun 30, 2013 - 5:08pm (USA Central)
Yes this was a bit weak... kind of like when Picard's granny showed up in the first traveller episode in TNG...

The only mildly interesting parts for me were Kira's burning man and Odo's locked up Quark.

It's odd how the have to come up with these kind of episodes every now and then.

I also would have thought Sisko's wife might have made an appearance... it could have been better, like the TNG episode I mentioned above... it's like they introduce an idea and then are afraid to follow it to its logical conclusion.
Adara - Wed, Jul 17, 2013 - 5:09pm (USA Central)
You all have no imaginations. (j/k) But I do love this episode, plenty enough to suspend my disbelief. I know I'm in a minority though... I thought "Move Along Home" was greatly entertaining, but no one else seems to feel that way. I guess to me, Star Trek is like pizza. Even when it's not the best it's still pretty enjoyable, and it has to be pretty bad to really be offensive. (see: TNG's "Sub Rosa" and Dominos' old recipe)
Robert - Thu, Jul 18, 2013 - 8:32am (USA Central)
@Adara: While I'd hardly rank this episode among DS9's high points I'll agree with you. I still liked it. I liked the bits of character development it lent to Dax/Bashir, I liked the introduction of the all important "desk baseball" and I even liked Rumple. The scenes of chaos on the promenade were amusing as well. Odo and Quark were good and Sisko's final solution presented him well. It showed a lot of promise I think.

azcats - Tue, Sep 10, 2013 - 2:41pm (USA Central)
You are missing the point. one of the greatest baseball hitters of all time is a 5'7 pudgy japanese player? get real!
bkster - Fri, Sep 13, 2013 - 11:46pm (USA Central)
azcats gets a time out for mean behaviour. I thoroughly enjoyed this episode second time around.

Snitch - Mon, Oct 14, 2013 - 6:38pm (USA Central)
This episode was not able to bring out a true sense of wonder and or terror, the technobabble did its part to prevent that. Baseball is also terrible to convey anything to me, that game does not have world wide appeal. It was a daring concept but unfortunately it fell short.

1 1/2 Stars
Kotas - Tue, Oct 22, 2013 - 2:04pm (USA Central)

With absurd episodes like this it either works for you or it doesn't. This one didn't work for me.

Jack - Mon, Jan 20, 2014 - 12:25pm (USA Central)
A ridiculous episode, but for once it was nice to see the bird given a truly alien name, rather than +ian ostrich.
Jack - Mon, Jan 20, 2014 - 12:32pm (USA Central)
Buck Bokai is far too dumpy looking to buy as an athlete, especially one of the caliber presented here.

And the "I could have played 5 more years if they hadn't killed the game" is beyond ridiculous. We're to beleive that it was "killed" in the midst of the career of its best player? Makes it seem as if it was outlawed rather than just gradually falling out of favor. Both are ludicrous notions, frankly, but the former is a hundred times moreso. What would be the reason to pass such a law?
Dave in NC - Wed, Feb 19, 2014 - 1:45pm (USA Central)
@ Jack . . maybe baseball ended because the Federation had phased out money?
DLPB - Thu, Feb 20, 2014 - 9:11am (USA Central)
@ Jack . . maybe baseball ended because the Federation had phased out money?

Firstly, phasing out money does not make a game redundant or boring. Secondly, the whole idea that money, want, and possessions, will ever be phased out like Trek portrays is impossible, not to mention ridiculous.

Your post simply throws up an even bigger absurdity to the you were trying to explain.
Dusty - Thu, Feb 27, 2014 - 2:54am (USA Central)
AZCATS: "You are missing the point. one of the greatest baseball hitters of all time is a 5'7 pudgy japanese player? get real!"

One of the greatest baseball players of all time was a pudgy American player with weak ankles. It's not that hard to believe.
Dwane - Sun, Mar 23, 2014 - 5:58am (USA Central)
I watched this episode on Syfy recently, and it was weird.

What stuck out to me though was the part where it was revealed that there was no danger in the first place.

My reaction was "Uh, what?!"
Yanks - Mon, Jul 7, 2014 - 1:25pm (USA Central)
Another skipper for me.

I never felt Sisko and company were ever in any real danger and I don't know why Quark felt that way.

A head shaker.

Baseball, boring?

.5 stars.

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