Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Visionary"

***

Air date: 2/27/1995
Teleplay by John Shirley
Story by Ethan H. Calk
Directed by Reza Badiyi

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Commander, there is no careful way to question a Klingon." — Odo

During the Romulans' visit to DS9 for a briefing on the developments of the Dominion threat, a high dose of radiation subjects O'Brien to a series of unpredictable temporal displacements, causing him to periodically jump into the near future for short periods of time. While in the future, he witnesses curious events including his own death and worse.

What could've been an exercise in forgettable technobabble (something sister series Voyager has been offering plenty of lately) instead proves to be a fascinating high-concept story and a good outing for O'Brien. Chalk up another punchy direction for Reza Badiyi.

O'Brien's first jump puts him near Quark's bar, approximately five hours in the future, where he witnesses himself talking to Quark about wrecked holosuites. After a brief moment, O'Brien is whisked back into the present. At first, Bashir thinks that O'Brien seeing himself may be some sort of hallucination, but when Dax discovers a quantum singularity orbiting the station at a regular interval, she concludes the residual radiation in O'Brien's body is acting like a "magnet," causing him to be pulled in and out of time. Dax and Bashir begin working on a way to remove the radiation traces from O'Brien's body to prevent any more time shifts.

However, when a subsequent jump turns O'Brien into a witness of his own death—shot by a mysterious phaser-armed booby-trapped device placed behind a panel in some remote corridor of the station—he uses information from the future to avert being killed. Odo opens an investigation to determine why someone would place this device behind the wall panel.

But after saving himself once, another time shift allows O'Brien to see that he dies on the operating table due to undetectable radiation effects. A rather bizarre and intriguing scene has O'Brien talking to a Bashir in the future who gives him information on how he can be saved in the past.

Much to O'Brien's annoyance, Quark labels the engineer a "fortuneteller." The label takes on a whole new meaning when O'Brien jumps forward into the middle of a station evacuation—just in time to see the entire station destroyed.

The sudden way the story drops us right in the middle of this evacuation conveys a confusion and disorder that allows us to experience O'Brien's own bewilderment. One second we're in ops as the crew discusses Odo's investigation. The next second we're in a Runabout with two O'Brien's fleeing the station as it explodes. The sight of DS9 being destroyed is fairly spectacular, if not somewhat disconcerting—some modelmakers put in a great deal of work on a destructible mock-up. The results are quite good. (This is the first time we've seen the station actually destroyed.)

This gives the crew the task of figuring out what will cause the station's destruction and how to prevent it. With Sisko's approval, O'Brien figures a way of injecting himself with a specific amount of the radioactive substance in order to perform a controlled jump forward to just before when the station is to be destroyed.

This is just the beginning as O'Brien jumps forward in time to talk to his future self then witnesses a Romulan Warbird launching a surprise attack on the station. Miles from the past ends up switching places with Miles from the future, because past-Miles is so poisoned with radiation that experiencing another dose of temporal shifting would surely be deadly. Future-Miles instead goes back into the past with the crucial information. This is an interesting twist and a rather brave decision on the writers' part, which gives us some rather paradoxical food for thought. I'm glad they didn't let anything like restraint or plausibility get in the way of fresh storytelling.

In retrospect, the idea that the quantum singularity is really a cloaked Romulan ship makes a lot of sense. The fact is consistent with the establishment of Romulan power supplies given in TNG's "Timescape." That makes "Visionary" a mystery with a genuine audience-supplied clue.

The closing scene, where Sisko confronts the Romulans over their intentions of destroying the station and the wormhole because of their paranoia of Dominion invasion, is a satisfying jewel. I always like it when Sisko sports the no-nonsense attitude.

All in all, this is a great technobabble episode. Technobabble can never really be a story, but when it's used correctly and backed up with real storytelling, an episode like "Visionary" can be born. Sure, the concept is implausible. Sure, O'Brien's time jumps are admittedly way too convenient, placing him in the right place at precisely the right time. But the episode is, after all, called "Visionary."

Previous episode: Prophet Motive
Next episode: Distant Voices

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15 comments on this review

Chris - Mon, Sep 14, 2009 - 11:06am (USA Central)
The switching of 'future Miles' for 'present-day Miles' really made this a thought-provoking episode. I still can't decide whether I should be sad that 'present-day Miles' is dead or not. Or whether it was a great act of self-sacrifice on 'present-day' Miles's part.
Nic - Wed, Nov 11, 2009 - 8:11am (USA Central)
This was probably the most TNG-like episode DS9 ever did, and although I usually like these kinds of shows, it just doesn't seem like the right fit here. The thing that bothers me the most about this episode, though, is that the Romulans were perfectly right to destroy the wormhole, it would have saved millions of lives.
Marcel - Sat, Mar 26, 2011 - 2:09pm (USA Central)
Really liked this episode
Jay - Sat, Oct 22, 2011 - 9:36am (USA Central)
I'm not sure how important keeping the cloaking device is, since just two episodes ago in "Destiny", the Cardassians were able to farily easily detect the stolen Defiant with antiprotons. The Dominion's technology is considerably more advanced than the Cardassians. Doesn't make much sense to tolerate the Romulans and their outrageous demands over it.
Jack - Sat, Feb 25, 2012 - 9:00am (USA Central)
SO essentially O'Brien returns from the future where the station is destroyed to warm them to raise shields and prepare weapons. But...why not do that anyways, just in case.
Name - Tue, May 21, 2013 - 4:49pm (USA Central)
Way late, but Jack: Because they don't know what they're dealing with yet. It could be someone inside the station, or someone outside of it. Raising shields and powering up weapons could cause them to react prematurely (or for all they know raising the shields could cause the explosion), it was a point that was brought up in the episode.
Corey - Wed, Jul 31, 2013 - 11:32am (USA Central)
I definitely agree with the rating for this episode. Very enjoyable and very well done. Come to think of it, I don't think there's a single episode where Colm Meaney carries it that I haven't liked. He has a great "incredulous" look. Maybe Colm Meaney should have been Commander of DS9...but he's a non-com I think they are called, so guess that couldn't have happened.
Kotas - Wed, Oct 23, 2013 - 8:53am (USA Central)

Very good episode. O'Brien seems to get a lot of the more interesting episodes.

7/10
Cheyne - Fri, Nov 22, 2013 - 12:43pm (USA Central)
One thing about this, and the last episode, Odo seems to be finding out a lot from "friends" in Starfleet... when and where exactly did Odo make all of these friends in Starfleet? Seems to come up out of the blue given what we know about the character.
Elliott - Thu, Dec 26, 2013 - 1:33pm (USA Central)
On what grounds is the quite plentiful (and essentially, though hardly uniquely, pointless) technobabble less "forgettable" than in similar VOY episodes?

I enjoyed the 2 references to later TNG Romulan episodes (the reviewer mentioned the point from "Timescape" and "Face of the Enemy" about the black-hold-powered warp drive); there is also the line from Kira about the Romulan "floating his way home"--another reference to the goofy scene from "The Next Phase" where the phase-cloaked Romulan jumps through the Enterprise's hull into space and floats away.

Overall, the episode was pretty good, but I see not how an episode with roughly the same concept and conceits to temporal paradox, "Relativity", could receive the same score when the latter had grossly more personality, humour, wit and style. I don't think "Relativity" deserves more than 3 stars really, but this episode is nothing special.
Andy's Friend - Fri, Dec 27, 2013 - 1:54pm (USA Central)
I love this episode. It's "Cause and Effect", "Parallels", "Time Squared" and "Timescape" all in one. True sci-fi. I love it.

It's also in this episode that the dart game at Quark's is introduced, and that Bashir & O'Brien finally seem to embark on a course for the Alamo. What more is there to say? ;)

Even the score is great: mysterious and eerie, much like some episodes in the first couple of seasons of TNG ("Datalore" comes to mind): great stuff.

@Marcel: "Really liked this episode"
- Couldn't agree more.

@Corey: "I don't think there's a single episode where Colm Meaney carries it that I haven't liked."
- x2

@Nic: "This was probably the most TNG-like episode DS9 ever did"
- So true.

A very good, though very atypical episode for DS9. Three stars seems about right.



Josh - Fri, Dec 27, 2013 - 11:55pm (USA Central)
I haven't seen this episode in a long time. I suppose I'm due for a general DS9 rewatch anyhow while I wait for the new seasons of House of Cards, Veep, Game of Thrones, etc.

In the meantime, could we have a general site ban of the continuing defensive Voyager trolling?
Jack - Tue, Dec 31, 2013 - 2:56pm (USA Central)
After being exposed and essentially thrown off the station at the end of this episode, it's hard to believe that the Romulans wouldn't take their cloaking device back with them. But the Defiant continues to possess it hereafter.
Vylora - Fri, Feb 21, 2014 - 8:18pm (USA Central)
It seems reasonable to me that they didn't take bake the cloaking device. Overall the Romulans still want continued intel on the Dominion. Couple that with the deceit in just having a cloaked warbird hovering about it would be a bad idea to just break the treaty right then and there.

I would like to know if this action by the Romulans was government-sanctioned however or a rogue operation. If it was indicated one way or the other in this ep I missed it.

Also I've been wanting to point out that there is similar ideas or storylines across multiple trek series. A point of contention seems to be VOY for instance getting a lower rating for an ep than DS9 for a similar idea. It makes a lot of sense to me that one would get a better rating if it's execution is better. I'm not saying that as negative towards VOY as a whole, there's a lot of really great episodes there. But for the most part DS9 is just a better written show in my opinion. And a lot of similar ideas between the two show that. I understand that I may be now included in the VOY-bashing group despite my above statement of "...a lot of really great episodes" but so be it.

Despite a few contrivances I really did enjoy this one though.

3 stars.
Vylora - Fri, Feb 21, 2014 - 8:21pm (USA Central)
Lol I just realized I posted "take bake the cloaking device". Obviously I meant "take back".

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