Jammer's Review

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

80 comments on this review

Stef - Mon, Sep 10, 2007 - 4:04am (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
*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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
My girlfriend HATES Star Trek. She cried during this episode. 'Nuff said.
Tim - Tue, Jan 15, 2008 - 2:59pm (USA Central)
"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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
Quite possibly the single greatest episode of television produced. True and Pure magic.
AeC - Thu, May 15, 2008 - 8:10pm (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
Elliot, you are dead inside.
Captain Tripps - Sat, Sep 17, 2011 - 3:27pm (USA Central)
"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 (USA Central)
@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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
the best episode ever of ds9
Paul York - Sun, May 20, 2012 - 5:50am (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
@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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
@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 (USA Central)
@ 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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)

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

9/10
G - Sat, Oct 26, 2013 - 1:13pm (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
I was under the impression that both timelines continued to exist.
Chris - Wed, May 14, 2014 - 12:23am (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
@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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
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 (USA Central)
@ 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.

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