Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"The Visitor"

****

Air date: 10/9/1995
Written by Michael Taylor
Directed by David Livingston

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"I'm no writer, but if I were, it seems to me I'd want to poke my head up every once in a while and take a look around; see what's going on. It's life, Jake. You can miss it if you don't open your eyes." — Sisko

Nutshell: True magic. This moving, thematic tale is one of the most brilliantly realized character pieces I've seen on television.

Those who worried that "The Way of the Warrior" was an indication that DS9 wants to grab audiences with war and non-stop action over smaller-scaled drama and character analysis need not worry after watching "The Visitor." This episode is easily DS9's most moving and poignant character piece ever. For me, it's the first episode of Star Trek (or any episodic TV for that matter) I can remember that actually moved me to tears.

Told in flashback from an elderly Jake Sisko (Tony Todd) to a young woman named Melanie (Rachel Robinson) aspiring to be a writer, "Visitor" features flashback as a narrative tool—and never before has such a narrative tool been so well-realized and efficiently utilized. Jake's tale begins from when he was eighteen years old, when his father, Captain Sisko, was killed in a freak accident aboard the Defiant.

This is the first of "Visitor's" potent scenes. Seeing Sisko phased out of existence is somewhat unsettling, and we have nothing but instant empathy for Jake, who becomes lost and alone on a station without his father. The story continues to follow Jake through a year of the accident's aftermath. The memorial aboard the station, the Bajorans' loss of hope after the death of their Emissary, the declining relationship between the Federation and the Klingons—all these details are wonderfully realized examples of life on DS9 without its Captain.

Then, one day, Sisko reappears. He appears in Jake's quarters for a few seconds, then vanishes again. At first, Jake tries to dismiss it as a hallucination. But when it happens again, nearly a year after the accident, Jake is able to get his father to the infirmary, where Dax, Bashir, and O'Brien determine that Sisko is being pulled in and out of time. Outside of normal time, Sisko's experience of time has slowed to where the last year has only aged him a number of minutes.

Alas, they are not able to keep Sisko from vanishing again, and Jake is forced to watch his father vanish again. Chances are he will appear again, but there is no way for Jake to know where or when, or how to prevent his father from vanishing again. When the situation with Klingons reaches a peak, the Federation turns the station over to them, and Jake tries to accept his father as gone forever. He returns to Earth to pursue a career in writing.

Old Jake continues telling his story to Melanie. His writing was successful. He got published. He fell in love and got married. He was building a life on Earth. Then one day, so many years after the accident, his father reappeared again. After a few wrenching minutes trying to catch up with old times, his father vanished yet again. Todd's reaction in this scene is a riveting performance.

This leads Jake to take up an obsession of finding a way to track his father through time and bring him back. He gives up his writing and goes back to school studying quantum mechanics theory. In the process, he gives up most of his life. His once-supportive wife finally gets fed up with his obsession and leaves him. Jake finally determines that he may be able to retrieve his father if he recreates the accident. With the help of Captain Nog, he assembles as much of the old Defiant crew as he can and takes the ship back to the original location where he attempts to manipulate time and space. He is able to pull himself into Sisko's time-frozen bubble and talk to him. But the rescue attempt isn't working. Jake begins to fade back into the real world, still without his father. Sisko begs his son to promise he will get on with his life and let go of his father. Jake can't do it.

Jake is such a tragic character. His entire life has been a search for his lost father, a search that just will not work. It would have been easier if his father had truly died. Instead, Jake can't get on with his life because every time he puts his loss behind him, his father reappears again only to disappear later.

Old Jake finally learns that he can restore his father back to the original time of the accident if he ends his own life while his father has reappeared in normal time again. Ironically this happens on the very day that Melanie, the visitor, comes to see him. Sisko and his son have one last touching conversation, Jake dies of his own lethal injection, and Sisko returns to the accident on the Defiant, where he is able to avert it because of his experience.

Even after that rather lengthy synopses, I can not begin to do justice to this episode. It's just so good. I can explain the story and how it unfolds, but it's just not the same as viewing it. This episode is so wonderfully written and has such poignant, moving details that it soars to new heights of storytelling. Through this, we see many new things about Sisko and Jake—about their lives and their relationship. Above all, this episode stresses the bond between a father and a son, and contains family issues that many people can relate to.

Michael Taylor has delivered one of the series' best stories, and David Livingston's direction is stunning, stellar execution. As I said before, the flashback elements are wonderfully done and the performances are about as perfect as they could be. The editing and music is all in place, causing scenes to flow terrifically together. Even if you're grabbing the tissues by the end of this episode (I was) there is no way you can call this story maudlin or melodramatic. It's completely absorbing from the first frame to the last; definitely one of DS9's finest moments. There is true magic working here.

Previous episode: The Way of the Warrior
Next episode: Hippocratic Oath

◄ Season Index

130 comments on this review

Stef
Mon, Sep 10, 2007, 4:04am (UTC -5)
Couldn't agree more. Fabulous episode. Possibly the best episode of DS9? Definitely top 3 with Pale Moonlight and Die is Cast.

When an episode of Star Trek almost moves me to tears, you know they have done something right.
Immanuel
Sat, Sep 15, 2007, 8:09pm (UTC -5)
*Minor* complaint: Nog as a Captain? Doesn't...really...work for me.

Of course, that takes nothing away from this stellar episode. The writing, the performances, the directing...all excellent. And seriously, Tony Todd deserved an Emmy nomination for his performance here.

"The Visitor" is full of affecting scenes. One that stands out is where Kira and Jake are having a quiet conversation regarding his future, and the possibility of him leaving the station. I really *felt* this scene and it nearly brought me to tears.
Bob
Tue, Oct 30, 2007, 8:12pm (UTC -5)
Epic episode. Truly a triumph for television as a medium of human expression. Transcends Trek, all together, and speaks to the human condition. A million and two stars!!
Paul
Tue, Dec 4, 2007, 4:58pm (UTC -5)
My girlfriend HATES Star Trek. She cried during this episode. 'Nuff said.
Tim
Tue, Jan 15, 2008, 2:59pm (UTC -5)
"The Visitor" is one of the most moving performances you will ever see on television. You don't have to know anything about Star Trek to be affected by this story.
Paul C
Fri, Jan 25, 2008, 6:27pm (UTC -5)
Watching the first two seasons of DS9, I would have been extremely surprised to see an episode move me as much as "The Inner Light" did.

Very happy to be wrong.
Locke
Thu, Feb 21, 2008, 2:07am (UTC -5)
Quite possibly the single greatest episode of television produced. True and Pure magic.
AeC
Thu, May 15, 2008, 8:10pm (UTC -5)
I don't know how many times I've watched this episode. The original airing, countless times on the tape I made from that airing, possibly when they first reran it, and now on DVD, and not once has it failed to bring me to tears. As you say, it could have been maudlin or melodramatic, and most times I go in with the mind set that now that I'm X months/years older and more jaded than the last time, maudlin is exactly how it will seem. And time and again I'm proven wrong. This may not be the best Star Trek episode, but it's probably the best episode of television to come out of the Star Trek franchise.
Tiac
Fri, Jun 6, 2008, 6:49pm (UTC -5)
Outstanding television. Easily the best episode of any show I have ever watched. Unbelievably good acting and a brilliant storyline.
Paul Fox
Sun, Jul 6, 2008, 4:35pm (UTC -5)
This is a fine episode, but it's not flawless. (1) Jake takes his "cup of hemlock" in the
opening shot, which is fine for dramatic effect, but how could he have been so certain
about his timing? More plausible to have waited till his dad actually appeared - now
that would have been a strong scene! (2) Telling the tale to a stranger present within
the tale is a old literary device and nice for a "literary" story - but a pretty girl in a
skimpy dress is a touch trite. Pick a more believable "visitor" - his estranged wife, an
old friend, his publisher would have been okay (see 3, and could still have been a pretty
lady). (3) Big one this. No writer would hand over his original manuscript to a
complete stranger! She's told him she wants to write; his first thought would be she
would plagiarise his tales. All stems from 2, which was lazy writing in the first place.
Connor Steven
Fri, Jul 18, 2008, 6:24pm (UTC -5)
I watched this one a few weeks ago, and was taken aback at how quickly I ended in tears watching it. Probably the only time I've ever cried at TV show. The part where Sisko reappears at the station and is lying on a sickbay bed, the way Jake suddenly breaks down in tears is heartbreaking.

All round simply outstanding. Not just one of Trek's best episodes, but one of the best TV episodes of all time.
Dan
Mon, Aug 11, 2008, 7:15am (UTC -5)
You bunch of wusses. I watched this again on Saturday night with my heavily pregnant wife who is extremely emotional. Neither of us cried. Though I did find it very moving.
She actually commented that it was "A bit slow."
Obviously one for the boys. ;o)
Rita
Mon, Sep 1, 2008, 7:34am (UTC -5)
Nuh-uh! As a woman, let me assure you that even us girls can recognize a damn good episode when we see one. :)

Let me be honest: I've been in the middle of a DVD marathon recently and everything was smooth sailing until I hit this episode. What an hour of television! It left me emotionally drained; instead of forging ahead on the DVD that day, I had to take time off. I don't know about you guys, but I was left pensive and melancholy long after the credits rolled.

"The Visitor" is probably up there with "The Inner Light" in my books--both pack an emotional wallop and feature wonderful, intimate performances. Like that TNG episode, the human story here just rings so true. This is the kind of Trek episode that can prompt people to step back and take stock of their own lives.

I can't think of a greater compliment that that.
Vylora
Sat, Oct 25, 2008, 4:02am (UTC -5)
I just watched this episode again the other day and, coming from someone who's seen every single episode of every ST series, all I can say is "wow".

This has to be the most moving and heartbreaking piece of Star Trek since the end of Wrath of Kahn and TNG's The Inner Light. Still moves me to tears even upon recent 3rd viewing since it's premiere. A definitive classic.
Bob
Thu, Jan 15, 2009, 3:34am (UTC -5)
IMO, this is the best episode of Star Trek ever produced. Brilliant story with amazing acting. What more can you want?
Phillip
Fri, Jan 23, 2009, 2:11pm (UTC -5)
Just rewatched this episode. I still find it very moving - the final time Sisko reappears and is sitting watching Jake sleep - fantastic! For pure emotional impact, nothing but "Inner Light" and possible "Children of Time" compare. Makes me wonder about how Jake reacted to his father taking up residence in the wormhole with the prophets...
Nicolas
Mon, Feb 2, 2009, 7:52pm (UTC -5)
This was not a bad episode but I'm having trouble understanding what makes it the best ever. I am a big crybaby and I didn't cry during this episode, mostly because I knew there would be a "Reset button" at the end. This episode was as good as Voyager's "Year of Hell", but not better.
Alexey Bogatiryov
Sun, Mar 1, 2009, 11:18pm (UTC -5)
WOW, watched it again - almost 15 years since it aired and it still get me. I think this is absolutely the best piece of sci-fi ever made. Best performance by Jake's character in the entire series. Wonder what Michael Taylor is up to today?
Bookmark
Sun, Mar 29, 2009, 2:20pm (UTC -5)
My favourite episode -- not just within DS9, but within all of Star Trek. It just clicks on very possible level.
Dimitris Kiminas
Sat, Apr 25, 2009, 6:00pm (UTC -5)
Great episode, but I cannot understand the 'temporal mechanics' of Sisko returning to the original time of the accident.

I understand that originally Sisko was there, then had the accident, then vanished. I was expecting that after the bond with Jake was cut, he would re-appear right after he had vanished.

Now, I guess to make it more dramatic, they show him a little before the accident, like he came back then. But how could he? There was a Sisko there already. Shouldn't there be 2 Siskos' until the previous one vanished? He was somehow switched with the original Sisko? (remember that we now see a Sisko who before the accident possesses the knowledge to avoid the accident, knowledge that was gained after the accident!)

And if he was switched, wasn't the moment in time he got back selected arbitrarily just to suit the plot? Why not appear 1 hour before the accident or 1 hour after? I mean the only logical time for his re-appearance would be the exact moment of his original disappearance...
Destructor
Sun, Jul 12, 2009, 7:54pm (UTC -5)
Watched this last night, bought me to tears as usual. Even thinking about it tears me up a little.
PM
Tue, Jul 21, 2009, 9:43am (UTC -5)
Truly excellent. This episode is exhibit B on why DS9 is the best Trek, behind Duet and ahead of The Siege of AR-558.
Athena
Fri, Sep 11, 2009, 8:33pm (UTC -5)
Late to this series -- now watching from the series box set. I have grown to love the series.
However, I can't understand the excessive praise for this episode. Another "this never happened episode" - dark and very unflattering for jake and his life choices in an alternative time line.
I honestly felt it was a waste of "time" no pun intended . . . but then i am not a fan of temporal shifts or actions with no consequences and stories are fantasies within the fantasy of the trek world.
While I was not moved like so many, I can see why some were moved but it just had nothing to do with anything in Star Trek or DS9 - it was all about living a life with no consequences because we knew very quickly on it was never going to happen.
Augustus
Tue, Sep 15, 2009, 6:57am (UTC -5)
A very emotional episode. Its style reminds me of a Twilight Zone or a Night Gallery story.
Patrick Stewart 4 President
Tue, Dec 1, 2009, 1:06am (UTC -5)
Yes, it uses the almighty Reset Button[tm]. Yes, it sports some technobabble. But does it matter? In this episode, these tools are used very effectively in order to be able to tell a truly unique story. One which has a profound emotional impact on anyone open to it.

Was always one of my favourites, and a prime example of how DS9 can shine.
Jonathan
Sat, Apr 17, 2010, 3:56am (UTC -5)
The reset button is a given the first moment you see Jake age. How else can Star Trek series continue? The most important thing is that this episode was a character exposition that explores Jake's personality and Sisko's influence through a What If situation. Given that Jake is without his father, what is he like. What will happen without Sisko in the grand scheme of things? (Klingons, Cardassians, etc). Overall, this episode had a few flaws including my doubts about this random young aspiring writer appearing out of nowhere, but in a sense her naivety played on Sisko's own suggestion to his son: to be a writer, you have to experience the world.
Christoff
Sun, Jun 20, 2010, 7:25pm (UTC -5)
Quite simply the best Star Trek Episode I have ever seen. I actually believe this is better than The Inner Light, and knowing how good that episode is, Its high praise!! The entire episode had a constant tone, you care about the characters (and although some people have said that the idea of this sexy young lady appearing at his house is unrealistic - you get "stalkers" all the time).

Everything felt right to me, the time and effort was taken in writing this story. It stands out among all other episodes.

and yes I did cry :p
Nick D.
Fri, Jul 16, 2010, 10:18pm (UTC -5)
Recently, I got done watching all 7 seasons of Voyager, and I was very impressed with the show, but wasn't as moved by their return home to Earth as I was with this one episode of DS9. This has to be one of the greatest Star Trek eppys I've ever seen, and the father/son relationship between Ben and Jake reminds me of how much I love and care for my father. I was submerged in the story as if I were Jake trying to save my own father ... I don't know what else to say but it just makes me appreciate my own father so much more ...
Denny W
Sun, Dec 19, 2010, 2:54am (UTC -5)
I just started watching DS9 after years of avoiding because I thought nothing could be better than TNG. DS9 is so amazing, and this episode crystallizes exactly why. I actually had to pause this episode and take some time before continuing it. I was in tears. Avery Brooks' (Benjamin) acting is just so resonant with me, I couldn't help but call my dad for a beer after I was done. My favourite part is when Jake is leaving the station, and it slowly fades into the distance... I cried. 4real
Nick M
Mon, Dec 20, 2010, 9:53am (UTC -5)
Been rewatching DS9 from start for first time in five years, and I forgot how much this episode moves me (along with It's Only a Paper Moon). No one has commented on it, but I think Cirroc Lofton was just so great in this episode, the moment he sees his dad "die" there is such pain in his eyes. The scene showing the memorial moved me, to see how crowded it was, great set dressing. And the simple scene of Dax hoding Jake on her lap stroking his head, he looking so hurt and destroyed by Sisko's death...wow.

I also have to say, I love Nana Visitor but sometimes think she overacts just a bit, but the scene where she and Jake discuss his getting off the station was perfectly acted, and the touching of the foreheads, so loving.

It was nice to see a Jake episode, I always liked Jake, he was the anti-Wesley (and I have no atred of Wesley like so many, just thought he was written so poorly). Jake is a normal kid and loves his dad. The Ben/Jake dynamic is one of the best and most overlooked aspects of DS9, but it kept the show so grounded in reality. It seemed the cast was showing their affection for Lofton in the scenes and that was wonderful.

(Just a not, I am not slighting Tony Todd, I thought he was really very good in this, and it was noce to see him in a non-horror/bad guy role!)

As to Paul Fox's comment: "but a pretty girl in a
skimpy dress is a touch trite" - um, sure she was pretty, but she was far from in a skimpy dress. She was covered from head to toe. I can understand if you wanted to see that lovely lady in a skimpy dress, but thems just ain't the facts. LOL

Great episode, outstanding.
Elliott
Mon, Dec 20, 2010, 9:07pm (UTC -5)
I know I'm going to be stepping on a lot of toes with this one, but here it goes...this episode wants to be so much better than it can be (just listening to the score points that out, it is rife with a seriousness that the episode content can't deliver upon). The episode is emblematic of one of the great ironies of the series, that the best characters never appeared in the opening credits (at least not the actors portraying them). This episode is potentially an okay story about carrying regrets and so forth, but the technobabble side of things muddies the waters significantly. It's hard to fall into the emotional depths Todd is going for when he's talking a bunch of nonsense about subspace... there are other superficial flaws like the silliness of Dax and Bashir in that ageing makeup, no talk about how stupid the Bajorans are AGAIN, but none of those don't comprise the major flaw in the episode. Jake goes through life miserably and broken because of an accident which robbed him of his father. Now, either it's an allegory for untimely loss, which is relatable and relevant to anyone or it's not. If it is, then what is the message here? There is no way to get over that loss and in the end it will destroy you unless you have some fancy fake science to hit the reset button. It may be an allegory about the afterlife, which is more silly than the first alternative, and that "subspace connection" represents the love between Jake and Benjamin, again furthering the notion that one should never come to terms with loss. It's not a terrible episode, but it's damned confused and as usual Brooks' acting leaves much to be desired. The best scene is an early one between Kira and Jake where she agrees to let him stay on the station, it's the only one with believable character motivations. The character of Melanie is given no depth, she is just a sounding board, she could have been anyone. It could be that the story is trying to be about writing and creating art, in which case it's a definite failure, but it's done with enough care that I won't be that hard on it. Overall, it's pretty confused with some touching moments that have no relevance outside the particulars of this episode, making it about average for DS9.
Elliott
Mon, Mar 14, 2011, 2:22am (UTC -5)
Bob : "Transcends Trek, all together, and speaks to the human condition."
Star Trek is a commentary on the human condition more than anything else, how does one "transcend" that to itself?

Paul : "My girlfriend HATES Star Trek. She cried during this episode. 'Nuff said." Can't argue with that one.
Stubb
Wed, May 18, 2011, 9:46am (UTC -5)
I won't go as far as Elliot, and I was certainly affected by several parts of "The Visitor". But the Reset Button effect in this episode is just too darn overwhelming. While not ruining it outright, the RB still puts such a heavy damper on the proceedings that I wasn't 'transported' the way the best Trek episodes can.

I'll try not to belabor the point, but here's a synopsis:

1. Avery Brooks' over-emoting. It so SO hard to ignore a story's 'scaffolding' when I feel like I'm watching an actor perform, instead of a character living his life.
2. The aged crewmembers, and 'getting the gang back together'. This was just too pat and expected (although I did think Terry Farrell's age makeup was outstanding).
3. The surprise writer-guest. This worn-out storytelling tactic is another example of the 'scaffolding' getting in the way of the story.
4. Worst of all, the Reset Syndrome. The moment we find out Tony Todd is playing old Jake, we know nothing will 'take' at the end. Despite the episode's emotional power (and there is plenty), the unavoidable Reset taints it with a fairytale quality that can't help but detract from it.
Elliott
Wed, Jul 13, 2011, 12:13am (UTC -5)
I also wanted to point out an element in the production of this episode that really ticked me off : we have never seen a black Bajoran before--which simply implies that their species evolved differently and their skin colouring is effected by different phenomena than humans, vulcans or klingons--but because Jake has married a Bajoran woman, she must be black. This, especially in the context of Star Trek, is offensive. I'm sure it wasn't written into the story, but someone's decision behind the scenes to cast racially in the 1990s is damned frustrating.

Upon another viewing, I'm afraid my opinion regarding the content hasn't changed much. There simply is too much in the way of awkward production, acting and techy script to get at the emotional heart, which as I've already said is unsure of itself. The episode is riding on a feeling, that of loss, but hasn't found a true premise to transform that feeling into a story. It's a glaring irony couched in this story about two writers.
Anti-Elliot
Thu, Jul 28, 2011, 8:50pm (UTC -5)
Elliot, you are dead inside.
Captain Tripps
Sat, Sep 17, 2011, 3:27pm (UTC -5)
"Jake goes through life miserably and broken because of an accident which robbed him of his father. Now, either it's an allegory for untimely loss, which is relatable and relevant to anyone or it's not. If it is, then what is the message here? There is no way to get over that loss and in the end it will destroy you unless you have some fancy fake science to hit the reset button."



This was already addressed. Jake DID get over his fathers death. He left the station, returned to Earth, began a successful career in writing, started a family, etc. The technobabble you deride, yet is pretty much intrinsic to Trek, is what makes his situation different from someone else's - he hasn't completely lost his father. Sisko continuously pops up in Jake's life, reminding the boy of everything he has lost just when he manages to move past it. By asking that question you seemingly ignored these pretty vital plot points.

Also Kai Opaka's actresses skin was darkened somewhat for that role (or she had a deep tan, I dunno). I always thought she was played by an african american until I went and googled it. I don't disagree tho that the conceit was unnecessary, especially for the show that gave us the first (American) black/white kiss.
Wonko
Thu, Dec 15, 2011, 5:38pm (UTC -5)
@Elliott We've seen black Bajorans before - I can remember one in The Siege off the top of my head, and I'm sure there would be more if I looked. However, the point about the racial casting is probably apt. It always niggled at me that Sisko's love interests were always black - Jennifer, Fenna, Kassidy...not impossible that it's accidental, but unlikely.
Paul W.
Mon, Feb 6, 2012, 10:38am (UTC -5)
This is a great episode, but it has a couple flaws that keep it from being DS9's best (or among the top five in ST history).

For one thing, this episode suffers from bad timing. The events of "Way of the Warrior" make "Visitor" seem out of place. I would have preferred this ep late in season three or later in season four. Oh, and the fact that the photo of Jake and Ben shows Ben with the shaved head, considering the shaved head was such a new thing at this point in the series, is a tad hard to swallow.

I also didn't like the fact that Kasidy Yates is nowhere to be found. Given that she was so important to Sisko only a week earlier, shouldn't she be in this episode, even if it's briefly? Of course, the same could be said for the end of season five and for much of season six.

Last point: Avery Brooks at some key points in the series misses the mark, and I think he does with the "Jake, what's happened to you?" line. It's really awkwardly said. I liked Brooks for much of DS9, there are a few points (like this one) where he misses the mark at a key moment.

Oh, and it sucks for Cirroc Lofton that he couldn't be in much of the biggest Jake episode the series ever tried (other than "Nor the Battle of the Strong").
DARKJEDI
Wed, Apr 25, 2012, 9:41pm (UTC -5)
the best episode ever of ds9
Paul York
Sun, May 20, 2012, 5:50am (UTC -5)
I can identify with the Jake in the timeline shown here, because at age 19 I lost my father suddenly (car accident) and he visits me in my dreams periodically, it seems every year or every few years, and when this happens it seems as though he never died. I am now almost as old as he was when he died, so I can identify with the scene where they are both in sub-space and Jake is the same age as his father (or a bit older). I can also identify with the feeling of having wasted time when I know he would have preferred me to spend it wisely, living. So this episode is very close to home. I like the character of Sisko a lot, because he is such a good father. Here he shows it by always urging his son to do what is best for him, to live his life fully, despite the misfortune of what has happened to them ... In a way this story represents what happens when we lose our parents - how they stay with us for the rest of our lives. But the sci-fi angle with alternate timelines and sub-space adds a new twist on it that is quite compelling and moving.
Ian
Sun, Jul 29, 2012, 3:30am (UTC -5)
Actually, as well down as the episode is, it does destroy not only the continuity, but the entire plot as established, especially regarding Sisko's role as the emissary and the Dominion war arc...
John
Fri, Aug 3, 2012, 9:46am (UTC -5)
As close to perfection as you're likely to see on television.

On a side note, I always thought the titular 'visitor' was Captain Sisko; dropping in on his son's lonely life over the years.
John
Mon, Aug 6, 2012, 3:27am (UTC -5)
On another, less relevant side note, and almost imperceptibly, Kira gets a new bitchin uniform from this episode.
Cindi
Sun, Aug 12, 2012, 3:14pm (UTC -5)
This tries to be the DS9 Inner Light and although it does surprisingly good, it's got nowhere near the emotional impact of IL.

The reason I say surprisingly is because I didn't imagine there can be a really good "emotional" episode within the DS9 universe or any other Star Trek except TNG. The only reason Inner Light could work so well is without doubt Patrick Stewart, the only truly first class actor ever cast in ST. Avery Brooks is just too much of a one-dimensional TV actor to pull off anything more subtle than "Sisko to the bridge, give me the status report". And the strange girl was certainly no Margot Rose.

But it has its moments, the directing is excellent, Todd's AND Lofton's (yes) performance is eminently watchable and some scenes (like the Kira-Jake one) truly stand out. But it's NOT Inner Light.


Cindi
Sun, Aug 12, 2012, 3:31pm (UTC -5)
Just an addition to my comment about how average Avery is - roll to around 28th min, where he's sitting on a sofa with Junior and says: "Talk to me. I've missed so much. Let's not waste what little time we have." What a terrible delivery.
Steve
Mon, Aug 13, 2012, 10:14am (UTC -5)
Am I the only who noticed this wasn't a total reset? In the final scene, Ben Sisko clearly remembers everything that happened.
Cail Corishev
Mon, Sep 17, 2012, 3:10pm (UTC -5)
Steve, that's what I thought too, that Ben remembered things, at least from his perspective.

To me, the time to complain about the Reset Button is when the crew gets into a dire situation and you're wondering how the writers are possibly going to get out of it, and at the last moment a god-like alien or some bit of technobabble comes out of nowhere and snaps everything back to the beginning, no harm done.

This isn't like that because Jake starts trying to fix the problem early on, and you know it's just a matter of time until he does. The dire situation is just a backdrop for the character interplay. You don't spend the hour wondering, "Is Ben really dead?" or even, "How will they bring Ben back?" Those details aren't important; what's important is the life Jake led while he was gone and what happens during his visits.

Incredible episode. It seems odd to call it the best episode of DS9, because it's not really about DS9, and the main actor is a guest star! If someone asked me what DS9 episode to view to get hooked on the series, I wouldn't pick this one, because it doesn't tell what the show is about. This story could have been told on any show with an established father/son pairing and a sci-fi/fantasy way to setup the situation -- and great writing, acting, and directing, of course. I just call it one of the best TV episodes I've ever seen, and leave it at that.
Bob
Tue, Sep 25, 2012, 9:39pm (UTC -5)
OK, I was the Bob who posted in 2007. I just reviewed this episode, again, and it has aged extremely well.

Any person who loved his or her father would regard this episode on par or better with "Good Bye Lenin", which portrayed the love of a son for his mother. This episode still emotionally effects me, more than a decade later.

A previous poster commented on my original post saying that all of Trek speaks to the human condition. This is wrong.

Star Trek presents a sort of utopian vision for the future - this was typical in the 1960's, when kids were rebellious and parents were passive. Everyone had this irrational notion that things were always going to get better. It was a delusion that drove many to complacency. Unfortunately, the real world kicked that shit in the balls around 1980 when Reagan stole the election by bribing the Iranians, and it was apparent that unless you were super-rich, your life had no value to the powers that be. The rest of the world was soon dragged into our nightmare.

Even Star Trek has been "rebooted" into this horrible Battlestar Galactica ripoff that makes the Vulcans into a bunch of arrogant high-elfs and the humans into a bunch of neo-cons. It's sick and pathetic. Only a third-rate TV director could fuck up Star Trek this epically. The franchise is pretty much dead, whether or not Viacom acknowledges it.

Yet, this episode still rises above what all the retroactive modifications to the Star Trek franchise have done to the story. It still says that, no matter what, you will always have some sort of love for your parents. No matter what happens, in the Star Trek Universe or the real-life universe, that there is always that thread to hold on to. That thread that makes us humans the paragon of animals.

Nothing on TV has distilled this down to its essence, before this episode. Nothing has since. Thus, I stand behind my original statement.

It is the Omega of the medium of television. Full Stop. One day, film may do better, and I'll be waiting.
Josh
Sun, Nov 25, 2012, 12:36am (UTC -5)
@Cindi: "The reason I say surprisingly is because I didn't imagine there can be a really good "emotional" episode within the DS9 universe or any other Star Trek except TNG."

Eh? I agree that Stewart is probably the finest Trek actor there has ever been, but really? Really? Or are you suggesting that only Stewart's involvement permits a really good "emotional" episode, and therefore these are only available to TNG?

I simply cannot fathom the criticism being levelled at this story, and the less said about Elliot's typically tiresome self-important nitpicking the better.

This is a timeless story, marvellously told, that is as tragic as it is affecting. I've never had a problem with Brooks' performance in this episode (even if he can be weird in some others - which is still less about his acting than Brooks' idiosyncratic speaking pattern) and Todd is, as ever, perfect.

And while I would never slag "The Inner Light", it hasn't aged quite as well for me, probably because it's more a dream of a nostalgic and perfect family life - the only tragedy is that it is something Picard seemingly will never have. It's a lovely story too, but more of a broad brushstroke of a man's happy life. Compared to Jake's life of obsession and sacrifice, I'm not sure it means as much to me as a viewer. As others have pointed out, it's not a "reset button" either, even if it doesn't come up again (except, interestingly, in Jake's last scene in the finale).
Junuxx
Wed, Nov 28, 2012, 11:47am (UTC -5)
Don't know why everyone compares the with The Inner Light. With it's sad alternate timeline of unfulfilled dreams and missed opportunities, I think it's closer to Tapestry. Which is also excellent, by the way.
Aldo
Fri, Nov 30, 2012, 5:02pm (UTC -5)
@Bob: You are right.. one of the best moments in television. Good Bye Lenin is also one of my favorites, but speaking of love between father and son, you should really see "La vita e Bella", stunning.

And "Cinema Paraadiso", atlhough in the latter we would be speaking of a father figure.

A real shame that the Start Trek franchise is dead on TV.. carried some real values.
Elliott
Tue, Jan 29, 2013, 1:34pm (UTC -5)
@ Josh: If those elements which bring the story down in particular don't bother you, like Brooke's acting, then there oughtn't be a reason for you to level anything but praise on this episode. That makes sense. But let's carry the "The Inner Light" comparison a little further:

1) Acting: In my opinion, the performances of Patrick Stewart AND importantly Margot Rose outshine those of certainly Lofton and even Todd (whom I deeply respect as an actor) by a considerably measure.

2) Production: "The Vistor" has many very-well crafted scenes--most of them in Old Jake's house in the Bayou--but also suffers from the occasional "filler" syndrom--most of them aboard the Defiant. TIL has literally no filler every scene is exactly what it should be without at any moment slipping out of the dramatic thread. It's like a brilliant play condensed into a 1-hour TV episode.

3) Technobabble: The only technobabble in TIL is some very, very low-key medical stuff from Beverly and the most rudimentary of establishing elements about the probe from Geordi and Data. Picard has literally no babble to spout. In "The Visitor", the lead character has to spit out, again and again, silly word vomit about fake temporal physics and warp drive, etc. Todd does fine with it, but it's not the kind of thing a character in the kind of emotional straights they were going for should ever have to say, let alone right in the middle of the apex of his journey!

Again, if these things don't bother you, I don't wish to rob you of your enjoyment of the episode, but for me, the abundance of flaws makes it a pretty good, but certainly not ground-breaking or quintessentially perfect episode of DS9 or TV in general. DS9 did do an episode that I think more closely achieves this end, for the record, and that episode is "Far Beyond the Stars." Infinitely better and it even has Sisko-Acting TM!
BirdSong
Sun, Mar 24, 2013, 2:42am (UTC -5)
Incredible episode. Very powerful and moving. The complaints I'm reading here are definitely coming from humans I do not relate to. OK, is it as good as The Inner Light? No. But nothing is, and we have to get over it. The Inner Light is like The Beatles of TV - it was surreal magic that will never be repeated. And Patrick Stewart's acting talent is light years beyond any other Trek actor. Robert Picardo is the only other actor that is anywhere close, and even he is no Patrick Stewart. However, we don't have to compare and judge everything based on that, and it is no reason to dismiss this incredible episode. As someone mentioned here, The Visitor is one of three Star Trek moments that transcend even Star Trek itself - the other two being the end of The Wrath of Kahn and the aforementioned Inner Light. Ignore the silly nitpickers and lose yourself in this amazing hour of TV. A masterpiece for sure.
chrispaps
Tue, Jun 18, 2013, 6:12am (UTC -5)
The way I see it is when an episode like this moves you to tears and stays with you for weeks and months, who cares about the minor questionable plot and technical details. Isn't the goal of moving you emotionally much more important than the goal of getting all details exactly right?
Caleb
Sat, Jul 6, 2013, 10:28pm (UTC -5)
Its a pure fantasy episode, I don't see why anyone cares about the implausible techno-babble or other minor details. If you accept the level of suspension of disbelief that the episode asks from you, it's terrific. If you can't, that's fine, but that's a personal subjective issue and not a major fault with the episode- which is touching and absorbing and has a number of valuable (and positive) messages about life and loss.
T'Paul
Sun, Jul 7, 2013, 1:21pm (UTC -5)
I can understand why people like this, like the Inner Light, but I have to agree with the Elliot camp...

It seems a little manipulative to me at times, along the lines of trying to hard to be moving. The story wasn't especially well-written or engaging, the aged crew gimmick is overdone, and the technobabble was poorly delivered by old-Jake. It seemed more like "let's be moving and heartfelt this week".

I think that Stewart's character growth was a little more convincing in the Inner Light. I feel that the old-Jake is inconsistent with the Jake we've come to know, whereas old Picard (both in the Inner Light and in the grand-finale of TNG) was what we might expect him to be.

Plus the story itself was a little bland. The earnest young writer going to see Jake didn't particularly do much for me either... too earnest, too worshipful.

ProgHead777
Sun, Jul 21, 2013, 5:16am (UTC -5)
ANYONE, hardcore Star Trek fan or not, that can watch this episode and deny it's one of the most powerfully moving stories in the entire franchise, has got their head in the wrong place. Period. FIRST CLASS STORYTELLING. Nothing else need be said.

DS9 was something special. It wasn't just a F&*(ing spinoff. It had something to offer. I present this as exhibit A... of many, many more to come.
Latex Zebra
Mon, Jul 22, 2013, 7:01am (UTC -5)
lol - Posted as Dan with my Vulcan Pregnant Wife.

Watched this again recently. A good episode and like most episodes with a 'reset' it just needs to be enjoyed for what it is.
I think there is reviewing an episode and then overanalysing an episode. A lot of the comments on here seem to be doing the latter.
Corey
Thu, Aug 1, 2013, 2:21pm (UTC -5)
This episode moves me to tears (several times during the course of the show) EVERY single time I watch it, and I've seen it at least 3 times. The acting/music/lines must be good enough, or I doubt that would have happened.

I'm not sure I'd call this the best DS9 episode, but clearly it ought to be in the top 10 of DS9 episodes. I guess I'm partial to Sacrifice of Angels. The Pale Moonlight was great too.
eastwest101
Tue, Sep 3, 2013, 6:30pm (UTC -5)
Am going through the DS9 series now and agree with some of the posters that this is a very powerful episode of DS9 but I still feel a bit let down by Avery Brookes performance, its the only fly in the ointment of what is a pretty strong episode.
Kotas
Wed, Oct 23, 2013, 12:40pm (UTC -5)

The best Jake and Sisko ep so far by a long shot.

9/10
G
Sat, Oct 26, 2013, 1:13pm (UTC -5)
My father died a couple years before this episode came out and I was Jake's age at the time. If anyone wanted to know what losing a parent young was like I would show them "The Visitor". There were some incidental things I found unconvincing, such as Sisko's mechanical "Sisko to Bridge" or Cirroc Lofton's pitiful "don't leave me" as running towards the empty sickbay bed, and that Jake used Melanie's name before she told it to him. But Tony Todd was brilliant. Generally it was a beautiful performance and probably one of my favorite episodes of Television of all time.
Kerriella
Fri, Nov 15, 2013, 6:07am (UTC -5)
I enjoyed Star Trek in reruns as a child with my mom, loved TNG as a teen but didn't continue once I got married in 91. In the last couple of months I have rewatched ST and finally watched all of TNG. The last week I have been watching DS9. I was simply going along enjoying it for the most part until this episode....
I am a television junkie and I would say The Visitor is in the top 10 and maybe 5 episodes of television of all time.
I had to take a break after this episode rather than continuing on. It's stuck with me and made me contemplate my life and my life choices like nothing has in a very long time. Am I living my life to the fullest?
Wonderful television.
Fish
Wed, Nov 20, 2013, 2:56am (UTC -5)
Incredible. All I can say.

Never posted on here before. Aware the site has been pretty dormant for a while. I just finished watching DS9, got into after watching all of TNG after deciding to download it when I caught "the Inner Light" on an Aussie TV channel when I got home from work one night.

This episode spoke to me on so many levels. Lost my dad a few years ago at age 18, and to keep seeing him periodically and not being able to gain any closure, well, it's worse.
And Jakes reaction and desire to help his dad is exactly what I would do, you feel like you owe them, they're your parent, and I can see exactly how it would consume his life in the way the episode portrayed.
Loved Tony Todd, love him as Kurn (I wish he'd become a member of the house of Martok, along with Worf), and thought he really nailed it.
Like I said, never posted on here, but this episode compelled me to.
Raymond
Fri, Jan 17, 2014, 5:27pm (UTC -5)
I've just watched this episode for the very first time on an early Sat morning. It was such a surprise that it moved me to tears and sniffles, even as I write this. Never thought it can still happen to a 41-year married guy :D

Very well done, DS9! The most awesome tv series to have aired, even after so many years.
Dusty
Tue, Feb 11, 2014, 9:30am (UTC -5)
Nothing I write could do justice to this. Anyone who dissects the continuity or technology issues with this (and I'm sure there are some) is missing the significance of the episode so completely. You think you understand, but you can't. At some point it becomes not only distracting, but meaningless, to analyze the internal logic of a TV show--especially one like this.

What is meaningful is the emotion the show evokes in us and how it builds its characters, and few episodes are more fitting examples of this than 'The Visitor'. I was riveted and deeply moved from start to finish. I wish I'd had a father like Benjamin Sisko.
kapages
Sun, Feb 16, 2014, 5:35pm (UTC -5)
Great story.
A few added flaws related to time travel:


-The writer found out about Jake's plan to reset the button. I would kill Jake if I were her, before Sisco reappeared. Jake was going to delete her life (alter history).
-Sisco has no significant impact on the Dominion history. He died, nevertheless, the Founders did not manage to succeed.
-If Dominion did not succeed without Sisco, there was no guarrantee if would fail with him. Reckless decision to roll the dice once again when the stakes are so high.
Josh
Sun, Feb 16, 2014, 5:49pm (UTC -5)
1. How is that a flaw? Are we to think that Melanie was sufficiently violently unhinged as to premeditate Jake's murder? She probably is more of a multiverse person anyhow.

2. You can't criticize the episode retrospectively based on events later in the series that were, at best, semi-planned.

3. The Dominion War only started after a few significant events. First, Dukat had to be "disgraced" in "Indiscretion", and we might suppose that Kira never even went on that mission after Sisko's death (please note the spelling of his name, by the way). Dukat's subsequent "Return to Grace" also stemmed from Kira's involvement. Now we can debate the overall importance of Dukat to the Dominion's eventual takeover of Cardassia, but in the meantime Martok's changeling impostor may still have been unrevealed. As the "future" of "The Visitor" suggests, Sisko's "death" was instrumental to the undermining of relations with the Bajorans. Later - even if the Dominion took control of Cardassia - we could envisage an alliance between them and the Klingons against the Romulans or any other power.

In short, there are a lot of variables at play, and with the future history presented in this episode there is a lot of room to imagine a very different chain of events in the Alpha Quadrant. So, there you go.

Nitpicking is not uncovering "flaws".
Elliott
Sun, Feb 16, 2014, 7:18pm (UTC -5)
I agree with Josh. There are enough flaws in the episode as it is. To criticise the episode because it doesn't fit neatly into some geeky grand continuity puzzle is the same kind of griping I find so annoying on the Voyager pages. Judge the show for its own merits and weaknesses, because they're both there.
kapages
Mon, Feb 17, 2014, 2:31pm (UTC -5)
In my opinion Elliot, nitpicking is the stuff u wrote above.
Riding on a feeling, married to a black bejoran etc.

When you deal with time travel on a sci-fi show, u have to do your homework.

a)Josh, erasing 70 years of history is dangerous. Rolls the dice again. Its not retrospective.
No matter what happens in the series, Jake didnt know. All he did know, is that Earth was standing, Dominion did not take over. Or anyone else.
You dont change history lightheartedly.

Let alone, its immoral (destroys lives).
Its an issue that deserves at least some consideration on Jakes part (although I can understand his dramatic perspective, as well as I can understand Janeways perspective when she decided to travel back and destroy some Borg).

b) The female writer was informed that her existence was going to be terminated. She was either too stupid to realise it, or too overwhelmed by the tragedy of Jake. Nevertheless, even a small complaint from her would increase the intellignece factor of the episode considerably.

Anyway, like I said, great dramatic story, great episode, 4 stars
but its scifi, and I'm tired of not addressing temporal issues when its the core of the episode.


Eric
Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 8:49pm (UTC -5)
I was under the impression that both timelines continued to exist.
Chris
Wed, May 14, 2014, 12:23am (UTC -5)
A great episode. It was a bit strange that Tony Todd was the adult Jake when Cirroc Lofton is essentially already an adult (kind of like the absurdity of the already adult Josh Radnor somehow becoming Bob Saget in "How I Met Your Mother"), but that can be chalked up to Cirroc Lofton not having the acting chops that Tony Todd does.

This could be a standalone drama episode that could be recommended to a non-Trek viewer if not for the Nog scene about females chewing his food for him, which, if you don't know what that's about, screams for explanation.
dlpb
Sat, May 17, 2014, 1:27pm (UTC -5)
Comparing this to The Inner Light is laughable. That story was a nice, well written tale. This is a cobbled together monstrosity that makes almost no sense whatsoever.
Geordie
Thu, May 22, 2014, 11:26pm (UTC -5)
Just recently watched ds9 for the first time on netflix. I always heard this episode was so moving and awesome. This episode was blah. I feel like people are told this episode is one of the best so they just go along with that. I can't believe people cried. More power to you if you did though. Nog a captain? Yeah right. and this episode focuses on jakes love of his dad. I appreciate that but this is also the same Sisko who was willing to let his son die so the wormhole aliens could use his body. They aren't gods. They are beings in a wormhole who he had to teach what linear time was and he's willing to let his son die. He didn't even say goodbye to jake in the last episode
BobMarleySisko
Sun, Jun 22, 2014, 12:04am (UTC -5)
Can someone explain to me why old Jake has a Jamaican accent? I haven't read all the comments so maybe someone has addressed it. It would be like if stng had an episode where there was a old Wesley Crusher who had a Scottish accent
Elliott
Sun, Jun 22, 2014, 12:59am (UTC -5)
@BobMarleySisko:

It's not a Jamaican accent, it's just the way Tony Todd speaks. I can't blame Todd for not better imitating Lofton's vocal inflections because they are so awful, it would make Todd look foolish, but it does add to the strain on the suspension of disbelief that Jake Sisko ever turned into this guy.
Nonya
Tue, Jun 24, 2014, 11:49pm (UTC -5)
Ultimately, I was bored by most of this episode. Nothing I cared about happened, and Cirroc Lofton's character was never interesting enough (or well enough acted) for me to care about him. The things that happened were all techno-babbly and boring. Despite a few good emotional moments, there's no real reason to watch this more than once.
Robert
Thu, Jun 26, 2014, 9:59pm (UTC -5)
For me, this is a fabulous episode. I remember the first time I saw it I was startled by how good it was (for me). Still moves me emotionally when I get a chance to view it.
Chris L
Fri, Jun 27, 2014, 12:45am (UTC -5)
I'm with dlpb, comparing The Visitor to The Inner Light is a joke. The Inner Light absolutely blew my mind. The Visitor had a thin, predictable, and far fetched plot that was poorly acted. Avery Brooks is an unmitigated disaster. Commenter above had it exactly right, instead of watching a character, I feel like I'm watching someone trying to act. I can't get over how bad it is. So distracting. I've seen TNG, and all of DS9 up to The Visitor, and I'm finding it harder and harder to keep watching this garbage. TNG was fantastic, DS9 makes me want to scissor kick the entire cast and writing staff. Sorry for yelling, and thanks for letting me vent. At least Worf just showed up, hopefully that'll help this dumpster fire along. Only reason I force myself to continue to watch is because I'm a trooper on a mission to watch the entire franchise. Please pick up during Season 4 DS9!!!
Yanks
Thu, Jul 31, 2014, 2:06pm (UTC -5)
@ Elliot & everyone.

"Jake goes through life miserably and broken because of an accident which robbed him of his father."

I think everyone is missing the point here.

Jake doesn't go through life miserably because he lost his father, he goes through life miserably because he isn't allowed to lose his father. When he did lose his father he really didn't. Sisko kept appearing and THAT had to be the hardest thing ever! Can you imagine?

I hate to bring this up again, but Avery's acting all but ruins this episode. Damn... how many times does this happen in this show? It’s so damn frustrating!

Tony Todd. I always thought his delivery problems were because of the Klingon mouth-pieces, but I guess not. He has such a hard time pronouncing words clearly, vocalizing (whatever it's called)) I strain to understand him. His performance wasn't a bad one though.

I thought Andrew's daughter Rachel Robinson as Melenie was a bright acting part in this episode (although she wasn't given much, she does have a nice screen presence). Cirroc once again carries the scenes with Sisko. He and Kira together were wonderful in this one.

When they got "the gang" back together all I could think of was 'All Good Things'...

I don't think the "reset" thing here applies, we all knew Sisko wasn't going to leave the series, so we knew Jake would get him back. It was Jake’s journey that made this one special. Many, many wonderfully touching moments in this one.

I really enjoyed this episode, but I don't rate is as highly as most.

3.5 for me.
bhbor
Sat, Sep 13, 2014, 11:01pm (UTC -5)
People often get on Ciroc Lofton's case about poor acting but when Sisco appears for the second time and they have him inside of sickbay, there is a moment where Jake and his father are alone and Jake can't even speak- he just drops his head and cries. Lofton portrayal of loss is so convincing in this scene that I want to cry with him. It was a simple, dialogue free moment that said it all.

Brilliant episode with far more of an emotional impact than the also brilliant "Inner Light"
Robert
Mon, Sep 15, 2014, 8:56am (UTC -5)
@bhbor - I agree. Lofton may not be Tony Todd, but I think it's important to remember that he gets a lot of fluff/lighter comedy scenes too. When he gets heavy scenes (like here) I really DO think he can handle it.

I think when you look at episodes like "Shattered Mirror", "The Visitor", "Nor The Battle To The Strong" and "Rapture". Most of those deal with loss (the loss of his mother, father or potential loss of his father)... weighty topics and he handles it. I also think that as the star of "Nor The Battle" he really shines. I think they could have given him a lot more to do but considering their decision to not have him go to Starfleet it was probably hard sometimes.

And I'm not saying he can't pull off a light episode ("In the Cards" is a personal favorite), I'm just saying that it's easy to forget that he actually can pull off a weighty episode on the rare occasions they let him. Or at least I think he can. And his relationship with Ben Sisko was so dead on that it'd be impossible for me to believe they weren't close IRL.
Del_Duio
Tue, Nov 4, 2014, 10:57am (UTC -5)
I never get tired of this episode, and it's always in my list of best DS9 episodes for any new viewer.

Very powerful stuff. I didn't realize that the girl showing up at old Jake's house was Andrew Robinson's daughter in RL but upon a recent viewing you can totally tell.
Diane
Thu, Feb 12, 2015, 5:07am (UTC -5)
After all of these years I watch this episode again and start bawling. I can't say this is the best episode of DS9, but it is one of the best written, the love between father and son and the impact of the loss just melted my heart. I just love the relationship between Jake and Ben.
Dimpy
Sun, Feb 15, 2015, 10:08am (UTC -5)
I admit I did cry long ago, but now I found it kinda boring and unrealistic. Why would Jake ruin his whole life over ghost dad. and after so long apart, if he sees his dad reappear, why not just say hi and a quick conversation, rather then pine away. Its like seeing a friend you haven't seen in a long time, just say hi and get over it.

Still - its the best Jake episode, and the best part is, Cirroc Lofton is hardly in it. I guess that's why Jake "fans" love it.
MsV
Mon, Mar 2, 2015, 3:15am (UTC -5)
@Dimpy Why would Jake ruin his whole life over ghost dad....

Love. and he could not let go, every time he tried to...Dad appeared. His father was not dead, but lost in time. It would have been easier if Ben had died, but he didn't.
Dimpy
Mon, Mar 2, 2015, 5:08pm (UTC -5)
@ MsV

He did ruin his life:

Stopped being a writer.
Lost his wife.
Years of study in advanced physics ( even though he doesn't come across as very bright )

... I admit its a sad circumstance. If someone close to me died, then reappeared after years apart, I would feel sad. But, possibly, mothing could be done.

... say hi, feel sad and mourn again, then leave it. Sisko himself wanted more for Jake.
Dimpy
Mon, Mar 2, 2015, 5:09pm (UTC -5)
mothing = nothing

Oops
Icarus32Soar
Tue, Mar 3, 2015, 9:05am (UTC -5)
A nonsense episode, shocking make up, some really dodgy overacting and not convincing. The Reset theme made all the "emotion" laughable.There are many better episodes of the father son thing done more subtly elsewhere on DS9 than this ununnecessary flood of tears.The writers should have obeyed the temporal prime directive and not engaged in plots with time loops, they are always aabsurd.DS9 does have some of the greatest episodes in the history of sci fi TV, but this isn't one of them.
Soundchaser
Fri, Mar 6, 2015, 7:38am (UTC -5)
I'm still kinda new to Star Trek, since I'm exploring it starting last year. I first saw the 2009 reboot and then got interested in the old TOS movies, watched them all and then finally the TNG movies and the TNG series. (and Into Darkness) I checked out the TOS series as well, but I only liked few of the episodes...(I love the Kirk crew, but most of the stories are really silly and stupid to me) Until now TNG is THE Star Trek to me and I like the series the most, and I'm also a huge fan of the "The Inner Light" episode, which is my favourite one of the whole series.

I now went on to DS9 and wanted to give this series a chance. Unfortunately most of the first three seasons was disappointing/average to me, as I always see much potential in the characters and many stories, but it rarely works for the whole episode imo. I still find TNG much superior in story telling than DS9 until now.
I just startet season 4 today and already liked the first two episodes, but damn, THIS third episode here...I think I've found my "The Inner Light" of DS9! What a brillant episode! I loved it from the start and I still can't stop thinking about it - it's the same as with "The Inner Light". I'm curious how the series will continue from now on - until now I really like the fourth season. ;-)
Harrison
Fri, Mar 13, 2015, 2:42pm (UTC -5)
I couldn't agree more with this review, I was completely blown away by the magnitude of this episode. Many episodes of Star Trek knock blow me away, but by far this one brought me to tears almost immediately. I can't imagine how many times I've seen this episode, but every time I do, tissues surround me as soon as the credits begin. Beautiful piece of work.
RH-father-of-Z
Mon, Mar 23, 2015, 1:52am (UTC -5)
I was putting my toddler son to bed tonight, and as he fell asleep, I decided sit beside him and watch this episode. As I watched this superb episode, I felt a strong bond with my son, just as Jake feels for Sisko. What a moving episode!!! I've watched all other ST series and DS9 is my last unseen series. I can definitely say this is one of the top 3 episodes of the ST franchise. What an episode!!!!
MsV
Wed, Apr 22, 2015, 9:08pm (UTC -5)
@ Dimpy He did ruin his life

I agree with you he did ruin his life. I wrote what I did because I thought you were asking why would Jake ruin his life.
Azdude
Fri, May 8, 2015, 11:23pm (UTC -5)
Gotta give up my man card on this one. Made me all misty, not ashamed to say.
TNG has "Inner Light", DS9 has "The Visitor".
Both shows have the same wonderful message, that we all need to hear once in a while.

Don't take life for granted, especially when those you love are concerned.

Blackfire
Tue, Jun 23, 2015, 4:25am (UTC -5)
"there is a moment where Jake and his father are alone and Jake can't even speak- he just drops his head and cries"

I also lost my father as a boy. Whenever I do encounter him in a dream again, that's the only thing I can do, too. Probably why the episode resonates with me so strongly, those moments in particular.
Teejay
Thu, Jun 25, 2015, 3:13am (UTC -5)
While it doesn't take away frome the episode at all for me, I have one small nitpick:

If they just discovered this wormhole at the beginning of the series, how do they know it's going to do this "inversion" thing? And even further, how do they know it only happens once every 50 years?
methane
Thu, Aug 27, 2015, 7:43pm (UTC -5)
A strong episode, though I wouldn't rank it as high as most here (I would say the same thing about "Inner Light"). I do think the acting is strong from everyone involved.

We often have dramas where a parent is willing to give everything up for his child; here we have a child giving everything up for his parent.

One thing noone has brought up yet: Captain Sisko's recurring appearances in Jake's life plays into his characterization as a man out of time. From his problems getting over the death of his wife in the pilot, to his devotion to the "dead" sport of baseball, to events that happen later in the episode "Far Beyond the Stars", Sisko is consistently out of step with time.

What does he do when he gets possessed by an alien consciousness? Well in "Dramatis Personae" we find out he builds a cool-looking clock! Time is a recurring theme with Benjamin Sisko.

Cail Corishev above said "This story could have been told on any show with an established father/son pairing and a sci-fi/fantasy way to setup the situation". While that is true, I think it resonates more strongly when Ben Sisko is the one dislodged from time; it fits the DNA of the character.

Some (maybe all?) of the elder Sisko's ties to time trace back to the wormhole aliens. Junuxx above compared this episode to "Tapestry". I couldn't help but wonder if the wormhole aliens are playing a role here, just as Q did in that episode. The technobabble starts with the "inversion" of wormhole, so they're present, even if unseen.

If they are playing a role, I'm unsure what it is. They could be presenting the whole thing as a vision to the father, showing him how much his son still cares for him even as an 18 year old. Or perhaps they didn't cause the event, but they're somehow helping the son get his father back.

Ultimately, there's nothing here proving the wormhole aliens are involved, but it would fit them.
Thorus
Wed, Sep 30, 2015, 5:23pm (UTC -5)
I wouldn't call it the "greatest episode in the history of tv", as some here have gushed, but it's a darn good one. Very emotional.

The acting of Tony Todd is a bit of a letdown. He has a certain je ne sais quoi about him and he probably made more money than Tom Hanks with his gazillion B roles, but it's evident why he's not a lead actor.

But Cirroc Lofton is shockingly good. Best scene is when Capt. Sisko appears for the second time, lying on the bed in the infirmary and asks Jake if he's doing alright .... the reaction of Lofton here is perfect - quiet desperation. Got the waterworks started here.

I cannot suspend my disbelief pertaining to the poison Jake took at the end. It's slow acting, as he has several hours to live. Slow acting poisons are the most difficult to predict. Seeing as his dad usually just hangs around for a few minutes, that gives him an insanely small window here.
He should have taken a fast-acting poison when Ben appears. That would have made for an even more dramatic scene in the end.

I didn't like Jake's phrase in the beginning: "The worst thing that can happen to a young man - to lose his father." Seeing as he's lost his mother only a few years prior, it seemed kinda insensitive, even after 100 years and given the super-close bond they had before and after the accident.

No offense to the actor playing Nog, but he's distracting. I'm not a tall man myself and because of this I object to heightism, but this guy lacks inches AND presence. The scene where he stands between Jake and his wife is ridiculous, he looks like a child.

PS: for the people who bemoan the "Reset Button" - this story can OBVIOUSLY not be told without one, so what are you harping on about?!
Del_Duio
Thu, Oct 1, 2015, 10:31am (UTC -5)
^^ True, only Sisko retains any memory of any of it. ^^

It would have awesome if they somehow worked that in to a future episode, I mean I don't know HOW they could have done it but it'd have been cool just the same.
Robert
Thu, Oct 1, 2015, 11:08am (UTC -5)
In the final episode they needed a scene before the Defiant leaves where Jake is worried about the battle and Ben reassures him that he'll be back and that when he returns Jake should bring Korena to dinner. Jake protests, saying they only just started dating a week ago and Ben smiles and says he thinks she's a keeper.
Del_Duio
Fri, Oct 2, 2015, 10:38am (UTC -5)
^^ Yeah, see that's a great idea! ^^
Quarkissnyder
Tue, Nov 3, 2015, 2:30pm (UTC -5)
Guess I'm in the minority, but this episode did nothing for me but make me cringe. People lose their parents and don't get to mope around their old apartment without paying rent. Why would any of Sisko's so-called friends let Jake just sit there and rot? He needed to either get a job or go to school or at least move in with his grandfather.

This is the type of episode I would make my kids watch to tell them what not to do if I die.
Quarkissnyder
Tue, Nov 3, 2015, 2:33pm (UTC -5)
Also, Jake needed to slap some sense into the girl who wants to be a writer but doesn't write. Really?

Also, I found it really creepy that she walked into a strange man's house. I was sure one of them was going to murder the other.
Quarkissnyder
Tue, Nov 3, 2015, 2:36pm (UTC -5)
Also, why wouldn't she have known his history? She said she read his biography, and everything that happened must have been a matter of public record. Does google not exist in the 24th century?
Diamond Dave
Fri, Dec 18, 2015, 1:33pm (UTC -5)
I will echo Keith DeCandido's comment on the tor.com rewatch: "Let me be blunt: if you don’t think this is one of the ten best Star Trek stories ever told, then you have no soul and I have nothing to say to you."

Every so often you will watch a piece of sci-fi that transcends the medium. It happened with The Inner Light and it happened here. And it happened on the strength of the performances - Tony Todd, Cirroc Lofton and yes, Avery Brooks - and not from what is actually a relatively weak plot. If you want to pick the plot apart then that's your privilege. For me, I will take the emotion and the depth and the bravery it takes to pull out an episode like this. Because that's where the richness is to be found here.

Wonderful score towards the end too. 4 stars, no question.
William B
Sun, Jan 10, 2016, 4:30pm (UTC -5)
I've started writing a comment on this a half-dozen times and I've come up empty each time. At the moment, consider me neither a champion of the episode nor a full-on detractor.

Rather than a full review, I want to make a few comments, particularly on areas that are relevant to later episodes:

1. When Jake snaps Sisko back to the Defiant, does he believe that he is creating an alternate timeline, in the Abrams Trek model (or the model that is at least officially stated...), or does he believe that he is erasing the last several decades from existence entirely? The model where changing the past creates a new branching of the multiverse, or whatever, seems not to have been used at any point before this episode, and it's pretty essential to "Children of Time" coming up that there is only a single history. At the same time, purely pragmatically, why would Jake bother giving Melanie his stories and give her the "look around you!" if his plan would wipe her from existence? I think this has been a stumbling block for me for a long time to even talk about the episode, because the Jake-Melanie scenes take on *extremely* different meanings if Jake's actions are going to erase her life entirely, or if he is genuinely gifting her with the last remnants of his life before *he* dies.

2. SPOILER FOR ENTIRE SERIES FOR THE REST OF THIS POINT: Famously, "What You Leave Behind" refers back to this scene, when Sisko disappears to join the Prophets, doesn't talk to Jake, and then Jake stands looking out of the station with Kira at his side. It's a nice visual echo, and that moment somehow loads this episode with extra meaning. Sisko disappears from an electric blast while watching an exciting wormhole event; the wormhole is connected to the Prophets and Sisko's interest in the wormhole is part of his general attachment to the Prophets in particular and the Bajor mission in general. Sisko is the Emissary because he discovered the wormhole, after all, and so being killed because of the wormhole goes back to his Emissary status, if nothing else. I'll also note that an electric console blast is what gives Sisko the Prophet-visions which nearly kill him in "Rapture." So while it does not do so explicitly, Sisko's disappearance is to some degree related to his Emissary position.

And hey, what do you know -- the big Ben-Jake chasms that crop up in the next few years are mostly related to the Prophets and Sisko's role as Emissary: "Rapture" has Sisko trying to hold onto visions that are going to kill him and Jake has to go against Sisko's apparent wishes to save him; "The Reckoning" has the Pah-Wraiths inhabit Jake's body, and Sisko chooses to risk Jake's life in this mystical duel because of his big Prophets faith; and in "What You Leave Behind" Sisko disappears from Jake's life entirely to become one with the Prophets. Jake is supportive of Ben, to a point, on these Prophet journeys -- he goes with Sisko on his wacky vision quest thing at the beginning of season seven. But notice that Sisko is repeatedly asked to choose between his human connections, *Jake in particular*, and his devotion to the Prophets, and he chooses the Prophets in "Rapture" and "The Reckoning" and...well, maybe he "had no choice" in "WYLB" but he doesn't even go see Jake himself. Compare how Miles dealt with Keiko's Pah-Wraith possession in "The Assignment" to how Ben deals with Jake's in "The Reckoning." Admittedly, it's not always Prophets that divide them: there's Jake's war correspondent period, and Ben nearly abandoned Jake for the "Children of Time" colony.

Whether Sisko's devotion to the Prophets is justified is not really a good subject for this episode, but it does heighten the tragedy of this episode, and this episode makes the Ben-Jake material later on quite sad. Ben finds out in this episode how damaging it is for him to be half-in, half-out of Jake's life, and he also finds out that Jake basically gives up on everything in his life to reunite with Ben, even going as far as to kill himself to give his younger self a chance to be with his father. Jake wouldn't let go. In some ways, the story of this episode of Jake's restless inability to cope with his father's disappearance/quasi-death seems to me to be a possible story of what happens to Jake post-series, when Sisko really does go through this kind of half-death where he gets unstuck in time (becomes nonlinear). Those four years between "The Visitor" and "What You Leave Behind" may make a big difference, and Jake does grow up to some extent during that time, but will Jake be able to get over his father's sudden exit from his life? And even if Jake gets over it, will the new baby with Kasidy? Will he be able to make his own life? Meanwhile, Ben pretty clearly has other, higher priorities -- war, Bajor, Prophets....

That Ben will risk Jake for some greater good is not necessarily damning of him as a parent -- for instance, I think he is right not to go back to pick Jake up after Jake stays behind on the station, for one thing because, as Ben says, it's Jake's choice. I'm less convinced he did the right thing when it comes to "Rapture" and especially "The Reckoning," but let's say for the sake of argument that was the right thing. What does get to me, upon rewatching this episode, is that Ben sees how his "death," or his disappearing from his son's life, essentially destroys Jake, and seemingly does nothing about it in the present. Maybe his not visiting Jake in "What You Leave Behind" was his way of avoiding the "The Visitor" scenario -- if he doesn't visit Jake, Jake won't think to become a scientist! problem solved! -- or maybe he just forgets about it, or decides that there's nothing he can do. I'm not sure. But still. This episode lost something for me on this rewatch for various reasons (related to point #1), but what it gained is the recognition that this story really may be Jake's life after Sisko disappears, that despite it being an alternate future, it effectively represents the emotional turmoil that losing his father will give...along with a version of Ben who really does want to spend his rare few moments of existence with his son, which means that in some ways the "real" universe is actually worse for Jake.
William B
Sun, Jan 10, 2016, 8:20pm (UTC -5)
A bit more on point #2: I actually didn't specifically mean Sisko should do much to prevent his possible death or whatever. He has a risky job, and an important one. The issue is that Sisko maybe could have told himself before this episode that Jake would be okay if Sisko died (he got over Jennifer's death), but now he has a vision of the future of Jake never getting over Ben's death, eventually killing himself over it, which Ben interprets as a tragedy. Does Ben try to incorporate this knowledge of a possible future and try to make life better in the present (ala Picard in "All Good Things")? Does he try to talk to Jake and let him know the risks, and make absolutely certain Jake understands that if Sisko dies, or if Sisko somehow gets weirdly unstuck in normal linear time, that Jake should move on with his life? Maybe -- but future episodes make me doubt it, which is very sad. I suppose Sisko did not want to think about it.
methane
Sun, Jan 10, 2016, 8:27pm (UTC -5)
Watching this episode I felt that Jake would have gotten over his father's death...if he had actually been dead. It's when Jake realizes that if he does nothing his father will be lost to the void (not hell, but perhaps something like a hell) that Jake gives up everything to free him.

There is some emotional feedback in the episode. Jake fears his father is doomed not to death, but to a life of despair in nothingness, which causes Jake to despair. This motivates him to abandon everything else in his life to try and save his father, leading Ben to despair.

[The rest of this post has spoilers for the rest of the series, following William B's post, above]

The end of the series is similar in some ways, but completely different in others. Ben isn't alone, he's with the Wormhole aliens. It's certainly not hell; in fact, the Bajorans might call it heaven. Jake might not be able to talk to his father, but he knows his father could be watching his whole life. Jake also doesn't know that his father won't come out of the wormhole at any time.

Perhaps most importantly, Jake can't really do anything about it. I'd imagine at some point Jake takes a trip into the wormhole, says "hello", and sees if he gets a response. If he doesn't, there isn't really much more that he can do.

His father being in the wormhole might lead Jake to decide to stay in the Bajoran system, rather than moving somewhere else. Perhaps it will lead him to take up the Bajoran religion, or at least study it in detail. But I don't believe he will abandon writing, dating, or anything else we'd consider an essential part of living.
William B
Sun, Jan 10, 2016, 8:43pm (UTC -5)
@methane,

[series spoilers]

I agree that it's very different in that Jake can't do anything about Sisko being in the wormhole...probably. On the other hand, Jake was given the choice in "Rapture" of whether or not to pull Sisko back from his apotheosis with the Prophets, and there he chose to do so. Ben is probably not rescue-able from being in the wormhole, but there is precedent that Jake does not fully trust the Prophets to guide Sisko. I guess maybe Jake became a convert after feeling the big evil of the Pah-Wraiths within him in "The Reckoning." Although also, there was that whole "you shall know nothing but sorrow" warning to Sisko, which, if he told that to Jake (or Kasidy or Dax or whoever and they told Jake) might not exactly reassure him. Jake might throw himself into reading the ancient Bajoran prophesies, stumble on something that sounds vaguely like the Emissary will return when the wormhole blinks and interpret that as meaning that the wormhole has to undergo a [tech] [tech] and.... I mean, of course, maybe not!

Now, I'll grant that it's not as bad as it was in "The Visitor" in terms of emotional feedback -- Sisko is (probably) not going to come back regularly and with no control over it as he did in "The Visitor." However, "I'll be back! Maybe tomorrow...maybe...yesterday" is, Ben should realize if he thinks back, a potential recipe for difficulty moving on in one's life. Paradoxically, there is some implicit "I'm a demigod now, it's complicated you wouldn't get it, but wait for me please" in his words to Kasidy, which are the opposite of his "I don't know what's going on, but please live a happy life" message to Jake here.
bhbor
Thu, Jan 21, 2016, 12:28pm (UTC -5)
@ Quarkissnyder

"Also, I found it really creepy that she walked into a strange man's house. I was sure one of them was going to murder the other."

I've known lots of aspiring authors that have tracked down famous authors in order to conduct an interview.. usually they set something up in advance, but its really not THAT unusual.
icarus32soar
Mon, Feb 15, 2016, 8:38am (UTC -5)
Some of these reviews are worse than the episode. Why do you need to watch DS9 to have a good old cry? Just watch the evening news. Some "trekkies" are grist to the mill of the dodgiest ST writing and direction. This ep has all the depth and integrity of a Hallmark sympathy card.
Luke
Mon, Mar 28, 2016, 7:26am (UTC -5)
Okay, let's just get this out of the way right up front - in an episode that is chocked full of emotional scenes, the three where Jake tears up (with his father in the Infirmary, later in his house in Louisiana and later on the Defiant after fifty years) equal true sucker-punches right to the feels! Holy Lord were those scenes effective! The last time I've cried over a TV show or movie was when I was a little kid (and it was a Benji movie of all things) but those scenes brought me as close to it as possible.

I really couldn't add much more praise to "The Visitor" than Jammer already has with his final two paragraphs, so I'm not going to try. That is, other than to point out how much I loved Quark's scene (which was his only one in the episode, I believe). It really shows that underneath everything else, Quark does genuinely have a heart. Letting Nog off early so he could spend time in the holosuites with Jake just to cheer him (Jake) up was a beautiful thing for Quark to do, especially since he didn't stand to gain anything from it.

However, I don't think "The Visitor" is a perfect episode. There is one major flaw in it that I cannot ignore. For years people have roundly criticized Future Janeway for what she did in VOY: "Endgame" - changing the timeline for selfish, personal reasons. And I think people are fairly in the right to criticize her for that. But, if I'm going to criticize Janeway for altering the timeline in such a fashion, then I have to (in the interests of consistency and fairness) criticize Future Jake for doing the exact same thing here. Judging solely on this episode, the changes to the timeline he creates are going to have a profound effect. Case in point - Melanie, the eponymous visitor, might not exist in the altered timeline. Old Jake may have just condemned this woman to a fate of non-existence. And judging from what we learn from later episodes - Old Jake has one hell of a lot of blood on his hands! The Dominion War did not happen in his timeline. In fact, his timeline, while kind of bleak due to the relations with the Klingons, actually looks like it might have been better off! Several billion people are dead who otherwise would not have been because of his actions - most notably Jadzia! The fact that he is so fundamentally altering history is never even once commented upon either by the characters or the episode itself in any way either. As moving and as heartfelt as the episode is (and it is that in spades!) I simply cannot ignore this and sadly have to dock a point from it's final score.

9/10
Robert
Mon, Mar 28, 2016, 3:18pm (UTC -5)
@Luke - My issue with Janeway altering the timeline is not that she's selfish, it's that the episode is a condemnation of the series and quite possibly all of Trek. It IS selfish, but that's secondary. The heart of Visitor is a boy who needs his Dad. That's Jake's story. And Jake is a flawed character and being selfish makes him interesting. Here's the problem with Janeway (and what ultimately soured me toward VOY even though I enjoyed it at the time).

Season 1
Caretaker - Janeway makes the decision for 2 crews worth of people that saving the Ocampa is worth a 70 year trip home.

"JANEWAY: We're alone in an uncharted part of the galaxy. We have already made some friends here, and some enemies. We have no idea of the dangers we're going to face, but one thing is clear. Both crews are going to have to work together if we're to survive. That's why Commander Chakotay and I have agreed that this should be one crew. A Starfleet crew. And as the only Starfleet vessel assigned to the Delta Quadrant, we'll continue to follow our directive to seek out new worlds and explore space. But our primary goal is clear. Even at maximum speeds, it would take seventy five years to reach the Federation, but I'm not willing to settle for that. There's another entity like the Caretaker out there somewhere who has the ability to get us there a lot faster. We'll be looking for her, and we'll be looking for wormholes, spatial rifts, or new technologies to help us. Somewhere along this journey, we'll find a way back. Mister Paris, set a course for home."

Though getting home is the primary goal, this echoes a lot of Picard's "Let's see what's out there" from "Encounter at Farpoint". And it's from the first ever scientist captain. She bring an edge of optimism, moral character and fascination to the Captain's Chair. Let's bodly go together Captain!


Season 2
The crew, her crew becomes a family. Ensign Kim (the most homesick one) bids his girlfriend and his life on Earth goodbye to fix the timeline and bring the family back together. We have a few bumpy episodes, but I am enjoying the show and the feeling of Janeway as more than a Captain, but as the head of this family, this community (it's a feeling I got from Sisko as well that I really liked).


Season 3
Uh oh... Janeway is going off the rails. Voyager accepts the birth of it's first child, it sticks together as they are stranded on a planet but Janeway shows signs of questioning her first decision. In Season 1's Caretaker "I’m aware everyone has families and loved ones at homes they want to get back to. So do I. But I’m not willing to trade the lives of the Ocampa for our convenience. We’ll have to find another way home."

But in "The Swarm" she violates another race's territory to avoid a 15 month detour. Even Tuvok is shocked. And in Scorpion....

"JANEWAY: What do you mean?
CHAKOTAY: We’d be giving an advantage to a race guilty of murdering billions. We’d be helping the Borg assimilate yet another species just to get ourselves back home. It’s wrong!
JANEWAY: Tell that to Harry Kim. He’s barely alive thanks to that species. Maybe helping to assimilate them isn’t such a bad idea. We could be doing the Delta Quadrant a favour."

This is not the same Captain that made the decision to save the Ocampa. But then she flat out admits that by Season 5....


Season 5
In "Night" - "CHAKOTAY: We're alive and well, and we've gathered enough data about this quadrant to keep Starfleet scientists busy for decades. Our mission's been a success.
JANEWAY: The very same words I've been telling myself for the past four years. But then we hit this Void, and I started to realise how empty those words sound.
CHAKOTAY: Kathryn.
JANEWAY: I made an error in judgment, Chakotay. It was short-sighted and it was selfish, and now all of us are paying for my mistake. So if you don't mind, Commander, I'll pass on that little game. And I'll leave shipboard morale in your capable hands. If the crew asks for me, tell them the Captain sends her regards. "

The crew, this family defies their Captain and stays together. But Janeway never really takes it back. She DOES think that it's all a mistake. She gets over her depression when there are stars again, but she no longer doubts that Caretaker was a mistake, she's SURE it was a mistake. By the end of S5

"CHAKOTAY: If it weren’t for O’Donnell, you never would have joined Starfleet.
JANEWAY: Yeah, and I would have never have got you all stuck here in the Delta quadrant.
TORRES: It gave us all time to get to know each other.
EMH: Time for a family portrait of our own. Everyone, gather around the Captain please. Face the camera.
JANEWAY: To family.
ALL: To family."

We're still worrying about getting stuck? What would you rather do Captain? Undo the last 5 years and every life you've touched.... oh, wait....


Season 7
I'll skip straight down to S7, because this is getting long and there's a lot to cover.

In "Friendship One" - "JANEWAY: I think about our ancestors. Thousands of years wondering if they were alone in the universe, finally discovering they weren’t. You can’t blame them for wanting to reach out, see how many other species were out there asking the same questions.
CHAKOTAY: The urge to explore is pretty powerful.
JANEWAY: But it can’t justify the loss of lives, whether it’s millions or just one."

We now not only think Voyager's voyage is a mistake, but that all of Trek, all of exploration is! I don't usually speak for other people but if I could teleport Gene over to whomever wrote that line he'd SLAP THEM. FFS!!!!

The risk of exploration no longer justifies the means. Everything in her life, the life of a scientist is wrong. It all leads up to a grand finale where she ERASES SIXTEEN YEARS of Voyager’s journey to save Chakotay, Seven and Tuvok… even as a mentally ill Tuvok fights to stop her. The nutty guy knows that's she'd gone nuts.

I kept hoping that meeting Admiral Janeway, seeing where she ended up would FINALLY snap her out of this funk and cause her to toast alongside Kim "To the journey!" It's be amazingly satisfying if knowing that Seven/Chakotay die and that Tuvok is doomed she still decides to stay. What a refreshing reaffirmation of their journey that would be! Instead, nope.... 16 years gone! Is it supposed to hurt less that we didn't SEE those years? Did nothing happen during them? No children born that she held in her arms? No civilizations saved? Think of how many lives were saved in a random episode like "Warhead".

The first, and to date only, woman captain decided that we shouldn't explore because people might die. That is the legacy of the decision that Janeway makes. One might say that she did it for love (of Chakotay, Seven and Tuvok) and so does Jake (for his Dad), but I could never see Picard doing this. And furthermore, Jake has no reason of knowing his Dad is THAT important. He may feel, as Q once says "Please. Spare me your egotistical musings on your pivotal role in history. Nothing you do here will cause the Federation to collapse or galaxies to explode. To be blunt, you're not that important." Right or wrong nobody says Jake is the world's greatest philosopher. Janeway knows EXACTLY what WON'T happen in the next 16 years if she does this. It's kind of monstrous... on par with what Odo does in "Children of Time".
Chrome
Mon, Mar 28, 2016, 3:35pm (UTC -5)
To be honest, I think Janeway deserves more criticism than Jake if only because she's a Starfleet Captain and is supposed to uphold certain principles (i.e. The Prime Directive). And Janeway is extremely inconsistent with her own supposed principles.

Jake, on the other hand, is not in Starfleet. He's got his own ideas of what's right. He may be disregarding the needs of his timeline for his own needs, but at least he's sticking to his principles while not breaking any he swore to uphold.
William B
Tue, Mar 29, 2016, 6:47am (UTC -5)
The morality of Old Jake's behaviour is, to me, a big sticking point within the episode. As I see it there are two main ways to interpret this:

1. The episode has the "Abrams Trek" philosophy wherein the time travel material creates an alternate universe, and does not erase the events that have happened so much as create a new one;
2. Jake knows that he's erasing the last several decades from existence.

(1) is possible, but I don't think is supported by any Trek stories previous to this one.

The problem with (2) then is not just that Jake is extremely selfish, but that it IMO contradicts the entire Jake/Melanie interaction, which is one of the major aspects of the story. Jake gives Melanie advice on being a writer, spends a night telling her his story, sends her off with a copy of his book, and gives her parting words of wisdom on how to appreciate life as a whole -- all of which he apparently *knows* will be erased entirely. And further, *she* seems to understand that he is going to do something major shortly, though I guess presumably she doesn't figure out that it will be some weird time thing that will erase her from existence. I think that the most generous interpretation is that Jake really does know that she is doomed, and that her existence is about to come to an end, but that she really *does* want very badly to spend time with him, and that he can find it existentially meaningful to have last conversation, and tell Melanie to *appreciate life* so that she manages to find meaning in her last moments, maybe with his stories. It is pretty hard to fathom the idea that he genuinely believes that Melanie would like to spend her last hours of existence hearing *his* life story and then reading his stories, if she truly knew that he was about to end her existence. (And yes, even if Melanie were still born in the new timeline, she would have no memory of this conversation or the gift of that book....) It really seems to read to me that Jake is giving her that book with the expectation that she will read it, and continue her life afterward, somehow, which does not fit with what Jake is doing. That Jake has become reclusive and has stopped feeling attached to the universe around him in preparation for resetting the last few decades of the timeline I could see, but for the episode to invest so much time in him interacting with someone whose existence his going to erase is...an odd choice.
Luke
Tue, Mar 29, 2016, 8:15am (UTC -5)
Nicely put, William B. It is odd because I think the episode makes it very clear that Old Jake fully intends to reset the timeline - meaning that Melanie either might not be born at all (quite possible given how radically different the timeline becomes) or just won't remember the encounter (I doubt she'd have Guinan's extra-temporal sensibilities). So why is he giving her his new book? Obviously he intends for her to read it, but he also knows that she most likely won't be able to. I don't even know what to call this problem. A continuity error, sloppy writing - maybe? I usually don't like to engage in crit-fic but it really seems, at least to me, that the writers were trying to get us to ignore the wider moral implications of what Jake was about to do by giving us a sweet ending for the conversation.

Or maybe it is just an Abrams Trek situation. But, the less I think about Abrams Trek, the better my mental health will be. :-P
Luke
Tue, Mar 29, 2016, 8:54am (UTC -5)
@Robert - I don't blame Present Janeway for what she does in "Endgame", just like I don't blame Present Jake here. In a lot of ways I see it as similar to what Picard said in "A Matter of Time" - "You know, Professor, perhaps I don't give a damn about your past, because your past is my future and as far as I'm concerned, it hasn't been written yet!".

Present Janeway is fully within her rights, in my opinion, to take advantage of her knowledge of the future. Altering a future timeline doesn't bother me that much, possibly not at all. As Doc Brown would say, "the future's not set." It's the deliberate altering of a past timeline that really rubs me the wrong way. Future Janeway is willing to massively alter the past for her own selfish reasons. Future Jake is willing to do the same thing. In other words, they're both doing what the ENT villains in the Temporal Cold War were attempting to do (something ENT actually got right with that storyline).
Chrome
Tue, Mar 29, 2016, 10:29am (UTC -5)
@Luke and William B.

I'm not sure we have enough material to fully judge Jake here. Sisko is obviously an important person. He can help make a fleet of ships disappear ("Sacrifice of Angels") and form alliances that the Federation was not able to make on its own ("In the Pale Moonlight").

It seems like Earth turned okay in this episode, but we don't have full story. For all we know, it's ruled by Dominion now and billions have suffered from Dominion rule. True, the writers didn't include that in the episode, but they did hint at how unstable Bajor and station were becoming so it's possible a deadly conflict broke out.

Also, you're both acting as if the temporal phenomenon that took Sisko out of existence was perfectly justified. Isn't that phenomenon too messing up how history should unfold? Is Jake so wrong to not want to stop or counteract the effects of the phenomenon?
William B
Tue, Mar 29, 2016, 10:54am (UTC -5)
@Luke, agree, and definitely agree about Picard/Present Janeway. There might be something sketchy about using Future Tech, I guess, though I'd have to think about it (and if there is something sketchy about it, they shouldn't have been using the holo-emitter for all those years...).

@Chrome, I get your point. And there are episodes like "Yesterday's Enterprise" where Picard messes with the current reality based on the hope that another reality is better. However:

1. While "The Visitor" spends some time establishing how badly Sisko's death impacts things in the short-term (losing DS9, etc.), most relations seem to have thawed by the present (Klingons allowing wormhole access) and most of the people we see seem to be doing well in the future (Nog, Julian, Jadzia etc.). I think that the latter material is there for dramatic reasons -- to emphasize that while *everyone* takes Sisko's death hard, it is only Jake for whom the wound is permanent, and life (eventually) goes on for the rest of the quadrant while for Jake things stand still.

2. As Robert says, I don't think we actually are necessarily meant to view Jake as heroic here, and as you said Jake doesn't seem to have a Starfleet oath. I get that argument and I'm almost fine with it as massive tragedy -- that Jake wipes out an entire future as the result of personal loss. However it is hard to understand his attitude with Melanie in that case. He does not *act* like he is about to wipe out her existence throughout the episode, and his gift of the book and his advice to look around, etc., don't fit with her never having a chance to read it or look around. So it's not just "Jake is ethically wrong" but that his behaviour doesn't seem to make sense given what he is doing, and also that the episode invests a lot of time and emotion in his interactions with this woman he's apparently about to wipe out.
Yanks
Tue, Mar 29, 2016, 11:03am (UTC -5)
Exactly Chrome. You've stolen my post! :-)

Jake should be commended for restoring the timeline (the ONE timeline, just like it all trek to include JJ's addition.)

Robert
Tue, Mar 29, 2016, 2:38pm (UTC -5)
@Luke - I don't TOTALLY blame present Janeway for Admiral Janeway's actions. That said, it's a little different when the thing from the future you are taking advantage of is your own knowledge and tech that you went back in time to give yourself.

Though I suppose one COULD make the case that Captain Janeway wanted to use the future advantage to hit the Borg, not get the crew home. That was an afterthought. That does make it less selfish I suppose. But they could have done both. Destroy the hub and not wipe out 16 years of Voyager's journey. I don't know. I come down very iffy about it.
SamSimon
Sun, Apr 10, 2016, 9:38am (UTC -5)
This episode is pure perfection. Tears and shivers.
Mitty
Tue, Jun 7, 2016, 6:00am (UTC -5)
Although I love this episode and agree it is one of the best of DS9, it's since been surpassed by other singular episodes of other shows as what I would consider "The best hour of Television ever". For me they are "The Constant", from "Lost", and "Ozymandias" from "Breaking Bad". The latter was quite probably one of the singular most heart stopping Television outings I've ever had. I didn't sleep that night after watching it.

I rewatch "The Visitor" quite often. Probably the single elements that drag it down for me, are the elderly makeup on Dax and Bashir. Whilst their performances were fantastic, it was quite obvious they were wearing makeup. Maybe Westmore had a day off?
Yanks
Tue, Jun 7, 2016, 11:47am (UTC -5)
For all those dissing Jake for "resetting" the timeline, especially with regard to his wife and new found fan, I think you need to view this from possibly a "Tuvix" argument. Much like Janeway decision to "split" Tuvix to save Tuvok and Neelix, Jake is not just being selfish here, he's saving his dad as well.

Also, his new fan won't even know anything happened. ... and probably won't ever be his fan :-)

Pretty clear cut decision I think. I actually think it would have been selfish for Jake NOT to revert the timeline.
William B
Tue, Jun 7, 2016, 12:02pm (UTC -5)
But why bother giving his fan a book of his she won't get a chance to read, and life advice she won't have time to implement before she ceases to exist? It's not just Jake's decision, it's the way his behavior toward Melanie doesn't seem to fit with what he's doing.
Peter G.
Tue, Jun 7, 2016, 12:09pm (UTC -5)
"But why bother giving his fan a book of his she won't get a chance to read, and life advice she won't have time to implement before she ceases to exist? It's not just Jake's decision, it's the way his behavior toward Melanie doesn't seem to fit with what he's doing."

Makes the episode kind of sardonic, right? He even says that if she had come on any other day he'd have refused to see her. And yet it's not like he only planned this the day before; it was years in the making. So why was that day in particular so special? Because it was the only day where if he told her everything she'd never have a chance to tell anyone. He knew for a fact she was going to cease to exist right after she left, and so it was like giving her a last request before her execution. This isn't how it comes across in Jake's energy and I don't think it was the script's intention, but damn, that's pretty much what it is.

I guess one could argue that he knew he'd be dead and so no one would be able to stop him at that point, in which case that timeline would continue and the reset timeline would branch off somewhere else. Meh.
William B
Tue, Jun 7, 2016, 12:46pm (UTC -5)
"Makes the episode kind of sardonic, right? He even says that if she had come on any other day he'd have refused to see her. And yet it's not like he only planned this the day before; it was years in the making. So why was that day in particular so special? Because it was the only day where if he told her everything she'd never have a chance to tell anyone. He knew for a fact she was going to cease to exist right after she left, and so it was like giving her a last request before her execution. This isn't how it comes across in Jake's energy and I don't think it was the script's intention, but damn, that's pretty much what it is."

Right? That's the only read that I can understand. What's even more amazing is that Melanie goes along with this, which either indicates:

1) that she does not actually understand what he is telling her -- she seems to grasp that he is going to get his father back somehow, but has not been able to process what that means *for her*, or
2) she is so in awe of the story that Jake has spun for her -- which, being a fan of his, she would be -- and is so honoured that she is the one person who gets to know what fate lies in store (or, rather, doesn't lie in store) that she does not care that she is about to cease to exist.

The latter is particularly interesting in light of his "You should read more" (and not hold Jake in the esteem she does as an artist) comments. His life advice that she should stick her head around and look at the world is basically advice to live the next few hours as well as the ironic statement that her life is over, which she, whom we gather is something like a stalker essentially in love with her favourite author, maybe finds *romantic*. And maybe this is ultimately a parallel to Jake, who never takes his father's advice, or, when he does, it is only to write a set of stories which no one is expected to read while he waits for the day where he can burn himself on the altar of his attachment to his father. What is Anselem actually about, one wonders? Maybe it's about self-destruction for love -- love for father, love for art, love for the "nobility" of self-destruction for love.... Yeah, I think Melanie should have read more.
Chrome
Tue, Jun 7, 2016, 4:11pm (UTC -5)
It's possible the writers considered there to be two timelines; one where Jake will pass away at an old age and leave behind a legacy. Then there's the main timeline which we all know and love where the future we see here never happens.

I know multiple timelines goes against the way time travel works in most Trek, but this story isn't using typical time travel, and it's not uncommon for writers to disagree on how time travel works.

You could also look at like the TNG episode "Parallels" where there are numerous realities, and making changes in one doesn't necessarily eliminate that reality.
Yanks
Wed, Jun 8, 2016, 7:27am (UTC -5)
Alright... I had to look up "sardonic" :-)

I think Jake was just being nice to her... and we needed her to tell the story you know.
Justin
Sat, Jul 9, 2016, 10:07pm (UTC -5)
First, I would say the fact Jake studied Quantum Mechanics presupposes his understanding of multiple "realities" existing. This reality is not tied directly to his existence or death - Melanie will continue to live, and Jake will be dead, but Sisko will be returned to "Normal" space and a separate tangent will continue.

Second, while this is an absolutely amazing episode for Star Trek and I would say in the Top Five, I find it interesting the reviewer says this is the first episode of Trek to move he/she to tears. The Inner Light precedes this episode by years, and is equally as amazing. I still remember watching it when it first aired (and right before Best of Both Worlds Pt 1). Picard's revelation at the end that he truly is living someone else's life; Picard playing his flute to honor a life and a civilization that both was and wasn't his, and the song echoing through the endless cold emptiness of space while the Enterprise flies along.... Yea.

Submit a comment





Notify me about new comments on this page
Hide my e-mail on my post

◄ Season Index

▲Top of Page | Menu | Copyright © 1994-2016 Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication or distribution of any content is prohibited. This site is an independent publication and is not affiliated with or authorized by any entity or company referenced herein. See site policies.