Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Children of Time"

****

Air date: 5/5/1997
Teleplay by Rene Echevarria
Story by Gary Holland & Ethan H. Calk
Directed by Allan Kroeker

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Are you the son of Mogh?"
"Yes."
"Is it true you can kill someone just by looking at them?"
"Only when I am angry."

— Inquisitive kid and Worf

Nutshell: An excellent, original science fiction story with hard choices and well-realized arguments. Very, very intriguing and powerful.

Color me impressed. "Children of Time" is another highlight of the season, and, again, another show that ranks among the best of the series' installments, a praise that I've now used four times this season—and meant every time. This is one of the most fascinating, original science fiction stories I've seen in quite some time, and it's absorbing and compelling pretty much from beginning to end. High praise is in order for another wonderful script by Rene Echevarria (as well as to Gary Holland and Ethan Calk for story credit).

The episode is another Trekkian time manipulation episode, but one of the best ones on record, up there with the likes of emotionally gripping time-travel character shows like "The Visitor" and "Past Tense, Part I."

The setup is as follows: Returning to the station from a reconnaissance mission in the Gamma Quadrant, the Defiant (carrying all the DS9 senior officers, of course), deviates from its course to investigate a planet with some odd energy readings. Dax assures Sisko that the risk of entering orbit is minimal—definitely worth investigating for what may be a rare scientific discovery. The Defiant is snagged in an energy field, and seconds later they receive a hail from a human colony with more than 8,000 people. The crew beams down to the planet, where they're told by the colony leader (Gary Frank) that the entire settlement's citizens are descendents of the Defiant crew. According to the leader, in two days when the Defiant attempts to leave orbit, the ship will encounter an anomaly that will send it back two centuries through time. The Defiant will then crash on the planet. With no means to escape (the wormhole doesn't even exist at that point), the crew will decide to begin life anew. Two hundred years later, this history is revealed to the crew before it happens. The leader of the colony, by the way, is Yedrin Dax—the current host for the still-surviving Dax symbiont.

Yedrin has a theory that will allow the Defiant to escape this destiny and still preserve the colony. Through a complicated technical procedure that can be executed at the time the ship encounters the anomaly, a duplicate Defiant will be formed; one will travel back in time and crash, while the other will safely break orbit and resume its course.

This is a clever concept to begin with. It's another interesting example of the time paradox that leads one to question where and when events begin and what true causality is based upon. (Is Yedrin, for example, changing "destiny" by informing Sisko what will happen before it does?)

But this is only what begins to make this episode the success that it is. "Children of Time" takes a turn that makes it a real classic—a truly compelling story that seeks to raise some very tough questions.

It turns out that Yedrin is lying. Dax discovers Yedrin's logs are forged and the theory will never work, and that he has hidden his attempt to preserve his colony at the expense of the Defiant's imminent crash—and also Major Kira's life. Kira will die, it's revealed, in the next few days if she doesn't receive some serious medical treatment for a radiation surge she was subjected to on the Defiant. Her grave just outside the settlement proves it.

The rest of the episode is about this dilemma. If the Defiant avoids the anomaly and doesn't go back in time, the entire colony of 8,000 will cease to exist—or, rather, will never have existed. Yet if the crew chooses to save the colony, they also choose to abandon their lives as they know them—and Kira suffers a death sentence.

Questions arise. Difficult questions, such as: Who has the right to ask Kira to die? Would it be worth it? Is this colony even truly "real"? Would preserving this colony be the "right" thing to do? Is it the crew's destiny to do so?

Such questions define this episode, but what's also stellar is the way these questions are presented by the various characters' situations. For example, Yedrin's deception turns out to have a very personal concern beyond his obvious need to preserve his society: He has repressed guilt—Jadzia Dax's guilt for getting the Defiant into the situation in the first place, without being certain of the risks. A very interesting notion. Yedrin explains to Sisko how for months Jadzia couldn't even look at him without thinking how Jake would never see his father again. Gary Frank's performances is one of the scene's highlights, and Terry Farrell's reaction shots are quite emotionally revealing.

Then there's Kira's dilemma. She visits her own grave, wondering if perhaps it is her destiny to give her life to save this colony. She asks herself how she can justify saving her own life at the expense of 8,000 people. Have the prophets laid out this path for her to take? Would avoiding the time anomaly be avoiding her destiny? These are some very appropriate and well-realized questions—and completely consistent with the major's character. This aspect of the episode truly had me fascinated.

In fact, everything about this show just clicks right into place. In addition to Dax's and Kira's binds, Worf finds himself sympathizing with some colony residents who have chosen to live the Klingon way, following the traditions of the Sons of Mogh. I appreciated the episode's nod to cultural identity within this colony, and I felt for these Klingon followers when they revealed that ceasing to exist because their parents were never born does not constitute an "honorable" death.

There's also interesting, substantive discussion once Kira goes public with accepting her fate to die. The crew argues the situation further in a wonderfully thoughtful scene that displays the main characters all being honest with one another (although I must admit that I also wondered what the Defiant's unseen 40 crew members had to say about the situation). Kira believes that they should follow the path of the prophets. "With all due respect, Major," O'Brien replies, "I don't believe in your prophets. I have a wife and kids back home." There is, of course, the question of whether these people are as "real" as people who "already" exist.

Hearing this dialog was fulfilling. Here was a time story not mired in technobabble plotting (cf. Voyager's "Before and After") or superficial adventure romp (cf. Voyager "Future's End"), but about looking destiny in the eye and making tough, important choices. I greatly appreciated how every character felt big pressures.

The Arbor Day commercial—er, "planting day" scene, featuring the colonists and the crew working together in the final day before the big decision, was a tad overlong and slightly exceeded my syrup tolerance. I would not, however, call this a weakness of the episode—just some schmaltz in a good-sized dose. It serves its purpose by making the crew realize they can't simply go home and snuff this colony out of existence; instead they suddenly find themselves obligated to travel back in time.

But that brings us to the issue of Odo. That is, Odo from the alternate timeline. He has been living on the planet 200 years, and has been longing to see Kira again. This Odo is quite different. He's much more open with his feelings, and he immediately reveals to Kira how he loves her, and has always loved her. (The Odo from the normal timeline is in no position to intervene; he is incapacitated by the planet's energy field—something the alternate Odo overcame long ago.)

Now, as some may know, I've never been terribly enthused about the writers' hints for pairing up Odo and Kira (and I realize I may be in the minority as fans go). I preferred their sibling-like affection back in the second season, and I'd thought with last season's "Crossfire" we had seen the situation put to rest. When I saw the trailer last week featuring the big "declaration," I thought we'd be in for the beating of a dead horse taken to a new level.

However, I couldn't have been more wrong. Everything about Odo's feelings in this episode rings absolutely true and fits beautifully in the context of the story. Plus, there's no simple solution to Odo's fear of not having his feelings returned (despite the fact the show reveals early on that Kira and Shakaar have broken up). Kira does not throw herself at Odo or any such nonsense—she is understandably confused. In a reasonable notion, Odo tries to convince Kira to change her mind—so that the Odo from the normal timeline won't have to watch Kira die again. But Kira can't do it if it means wiping away the colony's existence.

The most fascinating thing about this episode is that it's 100 percent character-driven. This is not an episode where a technicality saves the day, or a last-minute solution makes the choices easier. This is a show where a decision must be made, and everyone has to live with the consequences. I can't stress how much this worked in the episode's favor. A lesser effort might've taken the easy way out, but "Children of Time" does not cheat, and not cheating makes the drama that much stronger.

The ending (since, obviously, the crew must ultimately not be stranded in the past) throws a twist on us that manages to preserve the necessary requirements of the series while also being completely satisfying. The crew's flight plan is unsuspectingly reprogrammed, causing them to veer away from the temporal anomaly and break orbit. The colony vanishes without a trace. It never existed—period. The irony is that the person who reprogrammed the flight plan was someone from the alternate timeline (now there's a paradox for you)—or, more specifically, it was Odo. He did it so Kira wouldn't have to die.

Frankly, the implications of Odo's actions scare me a little bit. And, in the rather intense final scene, Kira's reaction when the "normal" Odo informs her of his counterpart's deed is absolutely believable. ("He did it for you, Nerys. He loved you," Odo tells her. "That makes it right?!" she demands. "I don't know," he replies, desperately. "He thought so.")

In fact, it's hard to imagine how Kira will look at Odo again without realizing what his counterpart did, and thus what Odo himself may be capable of. The implications here are neither pretty nor easy—and that's exactly why they're so wonderful. There's almost the sense that Odo passed a judgment that wasn't his to make, trading 8,000 lives for one. There are many interesting dynamics to ponder concerning the alternate Odo's actions, and this thoughtfulness is perhaps the most interesting aspect of "Children of Time." The episode is a tragedy of sorts, and once it's over, it leaves behind questions with tough answers that resonate, working completely plausibly with character history, and making extremely good use of the given situations.

With compelling performances all around and its brilliant script, "Children of Time" is stellar work—nearing perfection.

Previous episode: Soldiers of the Empire
Next episode: Blaze of Glory

Season Index

93 comments on this review

Ospero - Sat, Nov 3, 2007 - 10:18pm (USA Central)
I recently saw this one again. Absolutely stellar piece of character work, and proof that Star Trek in general, and DS9 in particular, CAN do innovative science fiction stories without tossing plot and characters out the window. One of the series' very best.
Admirable Chrichton - Wed, Nov 21, 2007 - 8:34am (USA Central)
I can't understand why this episode is so popular. I've watched it a few times now and it doesn't do anything for me. I don't hate it, but I'm not enamoured with it either. If there is some profound "X factor" to this episode its gone right over my bloody head.
Jayson - Tue, Feb 12, 2008 - 4:32pm (USA Central)
I agree with Admirable, this like most DS9 is a good episode but it doesn't rank up there with In The Pale Moonlight. But the difference of opinion is interesting when it comes to this series. Alot of fans seem to love The Vistor while I don't and Jammer in particular isn't a big fan of Ferengi episodes but I love them. Point being the fans of this series all have their favorites yet still love the show just the same.
Anthony2816 - Wed, Apr 23, 2008 - 2:39pm (USA Central)
Plot hole: At the end, Odo tells Kira that it was the later version of himself that reprogrammed the Defiant, dooming the descendants. However, that means that Odo knew that *before* the Defiant left the planet, as he learned it from his later self. Therefore, he could have warned the crew before it happened.
Andreas - Sun, Apr 27, 2008 - 5:24pm (USA Central)
No he couldn't, Anthony2816, because Odo couldn't take his solid form while being inside the barrier
Dan - Mon, Feb 2, 2009 - 4:54am (USA Central)
A nice episode, not sure if worth the massive praise here but it is good.
The thing that gets me is how 48 people become 8,000 in two hundred years. I mean, that's seriously going for it.
Ram - Sun, Feb 8, 2009 - 8:52pm (USA Central)
Dan's question is interesting. Being a geek, I did some simple calculations, assuming people have kids by 35 yrs and live for 70 yrs, 48 people will become ~350 in 200 years if couples have 2 kids each. But if they have 3 kids each, they'll become around 8000. 4 kids each, they become ~30000!
Kyle - Thu, Feb 19, 2009 - 7:38pm (USA Central)
Ive just been watching DS9 recently. I have a huge problem with this ep. Like many, I cant believe future odo will be that callous to wipe away their timeline. Its easy to just say "All for Love" and write it out that way. But if you think about it, in-story, Odo (along w/ the Dax symbiote) are the longest living colonists. He KNEW all those people. Watch them marry. Be happy. Have kids. Have grand kids. Die. He knew them for 200 years, he's know the present DS9 crew for 5-6 years, Major Kira for what, 10-15 years? Versus 200 years and 8,000 people. Thats worse than 8,000 abortions. Its just not possible and i dont buy the "All for Love" crap. Thats just Lazy Writing. I'd rather have them fail bec of some anomaly or scientific reason. 0 out of 5 for me.
EP - Sun, Mar 1, 2009 - 8:37pm (USA Central)
Jammer's always hammering away about consequences and difficult choices being linchpins for great episodes, and in particular, takes many episodes of VOY to task, and deservedly so, for ignoring these tenets.

Given his position and fondness for these traits, then, I don't understand why he likes this episode, much less give it 4 stars. There are no lingering or serial long-term consequences for any of the "regular" crew members after this episode ends. There are no difficult choices, since you KNOW that the crew isn't going to elect to stay on the planet. Yes, "alternate" Odo makes a questionable decision, but since he'll disappear as soon as his plan's completed, badda bing - no consequences for him.

But shucks, I'm biased because I hate Trek love plots. Even Nana Visitor and Rene Auberjonois didn't like the overt romantic themes presented in this episode (ref: DS9 Companion).
Ian Whitcombe - Sun, Mar 1, 2009 - 11:47pm (USA Central)
Even granting all that (which I don't), the ending would still be a masterpiece compared to the end of VOY's "Endgame".
Jay - Sat, Aug 8, 2009 - 6:41pm (USA Central)
I liked the story, but something about the characters on the planet bugged me, and the actor who played Yedrin Dax annoyed the hell out of me.

Plus, it's hard to believe that the Dominion would have ignored this planet and it's curious and sudden settlement for 200 years.
Jay - Sat, Aug 8, 2009 - 6:46pm (USA Central)
@ Andreas...Anthony still has a point. The alternate Odo learned to adapt to the barrier, and even came on board the Defiant, and was in the same room as the other Odo in the chamber...he could have linked with "our" Odo and showed him how he does it.
Bill T - Mon, Sep 7, 2009 - 5:23am (USA Central)
This is a fantastic episode, has far less plot holes and is far more interesting and well-written than most time-travel episodes.

- 48 -> 8000 people is no problem, so shut up
- Young Odo couldn't warn anyone, he couldn't do much more than languish in a bucket. As for Old Odo teaching him how -- I'm sure it's a skill which needs to be learned and practiced. I can hand someone a calculus book and even walk them through it, that doesn't mean they'd have any clue how to do it without enough practice
- The Dominion didn't know about the wormhole until 5 years before this, so for 195 years of its existence this was just some lonely colony out in the middle of nowhere. For the remaining 5 years, they could have either not discovered it, not cared about some small primitive colony living behind a dangerous energy barrier, or not had the ability to get past the barrier. And what would the Dominion gain by penetrating the barrier -- stealing some bushels of wheat?
- If the Female Changeling can go from waging pre-emptive war on the Alpha Quadrant, and committing genocide against Cardassian cities to surrendering and sending Odo home, then Odo can certainly change a timeline to save his true love. And think about the changelings that infiltrated Starfleet. They had to work along side humans and the Federation for months, years... think of the Bashir changeling, all the solids he was interacting with on a daily basis, getting to know them as people, their hopes and fears, and that what they really wanted was peace. And he was still very willing to fly his ship into a star to blow up their entire star system.

Changelings are !@%$%@! HARDCORE CRAZY. (9/11 parallels I will leave to your own imagination.)
Athena - Thu, Sep 17, 2009 - 9:01pm (USA Central)
The story is okay but immediately predictable as soon as we knew where the inhabitants came from. I think those who think we are dead before we are born might see some kind of moral dilemma or conflict here. I don't see it. It is just as easy to believe this settlement survives in a parallel or mirror universe as it is to believe it will never be. Death only comes to those who are first born.
Four stars is way over the top. I would take one of those stars and give it to Ties of Blood and Water - an episode I found emotionally powerful.
I also did not care for The Visitor because it too is like a dream episode - in the end it just never happened.
Durandal_1707 - Sat, Oct 24, 2009 - 3:59am (USA Central)
Not to mention that even if they *had* gone back in time knowing what they were supposed to do, they most certainly would have not conceived children at the exact same times as they did the first time around. There would have been people on that planet, but not the same people we saw.

Summary: If time travel causes timeline branches, the colony’s fine, just in another timeline from the Defiant crew. If time travel doesn’t branch timelines, then the colony was screwed anyway the second they told Sisko et al. who they were. In neither case should this have been a moral dilemma on the part of the Defiant crew.
C1B1 - Fri, Jan 1, 2010 - 2:15pm (USA Central)
This episode makes me cry every single time, and it's one of very, very few TV episodes that manage to do that. The Klingons helping with the planting! O'Brien realizing that just because you want to ignore something, it doesn't go away! Odo and Kira's awkward converation at the end!
Yeah, there are some plotholes and there is some odd acting but overall, it's fantastic and sad and .... ::sigh::
Jayson - Fri, Jan 1, 2010 - 5:43pm (USA Central)
I have to admit, I'm one of those people who likes to nitpick so I don't admonish those who do the same. However, I think what some are overlooking is the point of the story which is what happens to the characters in an unusual sittuation. Also, how said characters deal the situation. So really the story is more important than some minor details.
Nic - Sun, Apr 11, 2010 - 10:01pm (USA Central)
I enjoyed this episode, and I praise it simply for the fact that it has made people think (judging by the number of comments on this page), but I would not rank it among the best of the series or even the season. First of all, as previously mentioned, the moral dilemma was based on an implausible situation. The time travel element doesn't change the fact that those 8,000 people don't exist yet, so no 'murder' was actually committed. On the other hand, if the crew had gone back in time, the Dominion would probably have conquered the Alpha Quadrant with death tolls in the billions. Plausibility aside, it was a nice character outing that I HOPE will have consequences on Kira and Odo's relationship in future episodes. If not, I will be saying "okay, so what was the point of all this?"
dlabtot - Wed, Jul 21, 2010 - 2:39am (USA Central)
The one thing I have a hard time with in this episode is the idea that Dax would lie to the original crew in a way that had these profound consequences. Yes, they give it some justification and yes it is a different host, but it just doesn't ring true with me - it's still Dax, and as I've come to know the character of Dax, it has a strong moral compass and a deep understanding of friendship that wouldn't allow this kind of duplicity in the interest of self-preservation - even though that interest extends to the rest of the colonists.

However, I'm able to put that aside and still give the episode 4 stars for all the reasons articulated by Jammer. You could say that I have a highly developed ability to selectively suspend disbelief - perhaps from long practice.
Larrylongballs - Mon, Sep 6, 2010 - 5:03am (USA Central)
If both Odos linked and one was erased what happened to mixed Odo batter?

Jay - Sat, Dec 25, 2010 - 11:33pm (USA Central)
@ DUrandel...yep.

In particular, O'Brien, who in the first incarnation was "the last to give up hope" and waited ten years, would, presumably, this time, get started much sooner since this time staying was consentual. Also, this time they have the foreknowledge of who they "ended up" with last time, so that would shake things up too.

To put it in coarse terms, different eggs and sperm would be at play this time.
Jay - Sat, Dec 25, 2010 - 11:36pm (USA Central)
@ Nic...yep. If they had stayed, Sisko wouldn't have been around to coerce the Prophets into holding the Jem'Hadar at bay in the Gamma Quadrant in "Sacrifice Of Angels".
Max - Mon, Dec 27, 2010 - 3:25am (USA Central)
A very good episode. While I wouldn't put it in my top ten, it's definitely an episode that makes people want to talk about it.

The Sons of Mogh steal the show, asking Worf to kill them. Honestly, I think Worf might have actually done it under normal circumstances (just ask Kurn) instead of going on about "time" as the enemy. I suppose the shock ending over the future Odo's decision wouldn't have carried as much weight if we had seen Worf slaughter some teenagers earlier in the show. However, since by the end of the show the Defiant crew was set on going back in time anyway, the point becomes moot, but I like to imagine there's some alternate universe somewhere with a much more violent version of this story.

I love the way the Odo/Kira relationship keeps changing in season 5. In Things Past Kira learns Odo got his hands dirty in the occupation. In A Simple Investigation, Kira sees Odo is capable of intimacy with a woman, and here she learns what his emotions are possibly capable of driving him to someday in the future. She must be wondering "who is this guy?"
Elliott - Tue, Dec 28, 2010 - 10:57pm (USA Central)
Okay, first a couple of comments on the opening scene, 1) The Bajorans' religion...again looks absolutely foolish. The prophets said we don't belong together, so that's that. So much for free will, 2) is everyone really that stupid not to notice Odo's feelings? Dax is supposed to have acquired a keen sense of intuition from her lifetimes of observing, but she's clueless. Please...

No, NO NOOOO, you may be able to excuse the "syrup scene" but it's the point at which everyone (represent by stubborn O'Brien) decides not to go through with the escape. Jammer, I don't get it, you complain about taking the easy way out so often, but what happens here? No one who still exists makes a conscious choice not to eliminate the colony, but they all get to survive and go on...what are the consequences, hm?

The episode makes full use of things extant in two VOY episodes about which you were heavily critical ("Course Oblivion" in which the only solace for the duplicate crew is "as long as we remember them..." and "Endgame" where the only character to make a sacrifice is a duplicate who never really existed).

It had a really good start and some nice characterisations, but threw it out the airlock when it decided to have the whole crew crash the ship. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
Neil - Sun, Jan 30, 2011 - 9:22pm (USA Central)
I've watched this a few times now and have to say that it's in the top 2 or 3 of all Trek time-travel episodes. And there's a lot of them.

However, having watched it a few times, it seems obvious to me that the entire premise of there being some kind of dilemma is just absurd. In fact, both groups of people - the original defiant crew and the 8000 colonists - would only have wanted one thing, which was the survival of *their* group.

Taking the colonists first: There's just no way Odo could have developed his emotional behaviour like that without having had some serious relationships during the 200 year wait. Those would mean far more to him than Kira, an ancient memory that would really just remind him what a gruff, unlikeable, and emotionally stunted jerk he had been all those years ago.

Same goes for Dax... the symbiont would have long ago given up feeling guilty and formed much more significant relationships with the descendants than he ever had with Sisko. He knew Sisko for 15 years or so? Obviously there would be people on the planet he had known for their entire lives.

On the other hand, for the members of the original crew, the idea of sacrificing themselves so the 8000 descendants could live wouldn't even be a consideration. Think about it: If they decided to let the past repeat itself, that would cause a ton of suffering and grief to their friends and relatives back on the station and around the universe.

But the sudden disappearance of 8000 people who never had any contact with a single other person wouldn't move the grief meter at all. For them, they would all 'die' at the same time, presumably without any pain or suffering. For the rest of the universe, it wouldn't matter at all.

Why would the Defiant crew ever think there was a choice here?

So, it's pretty obvious that both groups would have no dilemma, and would pursue the course that obviously benefited them the most.

For the colonists, this would mean they should capture the defiant crew, put them all in some sort of stasis that would end after they travelled back in time, then just autopilot the ship straight into the anomaly at exactly the correct time. Dax would have had 199.9 years to plan all this, after all.

For the defiant crew, they would just try to do anything they could to stop that plan from happening.

In fact, I think I would have enjoyed watching *that* script a lot more than the one we got, with all that fake agonising over choices that didn't actually exist at all.

I still enjoyed it though, and as I said it's one of the top 3 Trek time-travel episodes. It had less obvious plot holes and creaky contradictions than the 'Enterprise' episode where they encountered their own ship 200 years after a similar anomaly did the same thing.

Jacob Sisko - Tue, Feb 1, 2011 - 4:46pm (USA Central)
Thank you, Jammer for your detailed analysis of each episode. Usually I'm in agreement with your assessments, but I just couldn't get over one plot hole in this episode.

The gist of the moral predicament the crew finds themselves in is that by choosing to circumvent the time anomaly to live a future on DS9, they are essentially "killing" or "eradicating" 8k of their descendants. However, starfleet officers should know that circumventing the anomaly creates an alternative timeline in which our crew moves forward to DS9. The 8k is not wiped out but merely exists in a different timeline when the original crew of the Defiant remains unaware of the anomaly (ie Yedrin Dax did not tell the crew about their ancestry). The moment Yedrin Dax made the crew aware of the anomaly, he created a divergence in time; two split realities. The biggest beef I have with the episode is the moral high ground Major Kiera takes even though they haven't actually done anything wrong.
Stubb - Fri, Mar 25, 2011 - 8:29am (USA Central)
I find this to be a moving and satisfying episode. But time travel necessarily involves paradoxes, and there are several that I feel are either not addressed or not satisfactorily resolved.
1. Either timelines diverge, or they don't. With advance warning, the Defiant plans to avoid the anomaly this time around (which makes the whole agonizing decision process is necessary). Why not draw lots and load up as many inhabitants as possible, then break orbit and head back to DS9? Would these colonists vanish from the ship upon leaving orbit? Would the Defiant have a time-conniption and explode? I argue this divergence must be possible because when the colony vanishes, the crew STILL REMEMBERS THEM. Which leads to
2. Had the Defiant never gone back in time (which it ultimately doesn't), there would be no colony to remember...nobody to hail the Defiant...and nobody to attract them to the planet in the first place. This is a classic time-travel paradox, which I am willing to overlook. BUT...I contend that if the memory of a vanished timeline can persist, then elements of that timeline (i.e., colonists) could probably be rescued as well. In either case, this possibility was never even discussed although it was the first one that came to my mind.
Stubb - Fri, Mar 25, 2011 - 8:41am (USA Central)
(cont'd from above)
3. This is the Defiant's first visit to the planet, and thanks to temporal displacement their descendants are already there to greet them. But this necessarily creates a time-loop with variances that I feel are not effectively resolved either. The colonists act as if the Defiant arrived, left orbit, crashed, and then started the colony 200 years ago with no interference. And from their perspective, perhaps it did. But there never was a pure, non-colonist planetary encounter for the Defiant. EVERY TIME the timeline loops back and the Defiant arrives, the colonists are always there to greet them. So all the talk about crew behavior 200 years ago (colony's past, crew's future) makes little sense because the crew NEVER had a pure non-interfered encounter. This would necessarily change the loop every time it occurs. As another commenter stated above, why would O'Brien 'hold out' for ten years if he already knows his own future?
Stubb - Fri, Mar 25, 2011 - 12:10pm (USA Central)
(cont'd one more time)
4. OK, final thought re: divergent timelines and taking the colonists with them. By the end, the Defiant crew remembers people who never existed (i.e., neuron imprint). If they had taken video of the colonists, would that video have gone blank the instant they leave orbit? When Odo kissed Kira, he may have left a trace of saliva on her lips. Did that saliva vanish when they left orbit? My extremely belabored point is that they most likely could have taken a substantial number of colonists with them. Heck, maybe they could have stored their patterns in the transporter and thereby saved them all.
Brruceling - Wed, May 18, 2011 - 12:50am (USA Central)
Lots of excellent points have been made and this episode certainly deserves extended discussion. It is simultaneously a great and extremely flawed episode.

Here's what I see as a real problem, and I'm surprised hasn't been mentioned...

This should have been an episode about Sisko. He was the ONLY person in a position to actually make the ultimate decision in this episode. I was completely absorbed in thought about his situation, but I think it all really came down to this: (Sisko: I want to go home as much as you do, Chief, I'm just listening to what everyone has to say / O'Brien: So we're not actually considering this? / Sisko: No we're not.)

His obligation was to his crew, and all the argumentation about alternate timelines here proves that there is no clear answer in the Star Trek universe as to what will happen as a result of their actions. I was beside myself when a crisis of conscience on O'Brien's part suddenly became Sisko's decision to give up the lives of his entire crew. Even if his reasoning had been addressed I doubt I would have bought it, but not addressing it at all completely steals the wind out of the sails of this episode.
Some Dude - Fri, May 27, 2011 - 7:08pm (USA Central)
Wow, I can't believe there are so many critical posts about this episode. Why does everyone worry so much about if what the characters tell us about the consequences would actually be true in the real world or not? Time travel defies logic anyway, so just go with the writer's interpretation! What's important here is the depiction of the moral dilemma these characters face. You're watching an episode of TV, so learn to suspend disbelief, please! Don't nitpick wonderful episodes like this one to death.

I agree 100% with Jammer, this is one of DS9's finest episodes. It hit all the right notes for me. Pure magic.
Aaron B. - Sun, Sep 4, 2011 - 9:09pm (USA Central)
I enjoyed the episode, but I never bought the dilemma either. Halfway through, they made the only choice they could make -- save themselves and let the future take care of itself (and do their duty by returning to their jobs as Starfleet officers, incidentally). Then suddenly things went goofy. There's no way Chief is going to abandon Keiko and the kids to start a new lineage instead. After The Visitor, we're supposed to be okay with Ben never making it back to see Jake again? For every potential descendant on that planet, who knows how many descendants wouldn't happen because someone didn't get back to DS9 and reproduce there? And without Odo in the Alpha Quadrant to end the war, how many billions or more might have died in a Dominion conquest?

But the basic problem is that you can't say Theoretical Future A is more valid or deserving than Theoretical Future B just because A happens to be visible at the moment, and all these engineer/science types should know that.
Jack - Sun, Oct 9, 2011 - 2:58pm (USA Central)
With the crew essentially already knowing the next two centuries of their future, either they would relive it exaclty, thus taking away their free will, or live a different 200 years, meaning the timeline changes. It's hard to believe that Starfleet's temporal monitoring departments (either the present day one we saw in "Trials And Tribble-ations" or the future one we saw in Voyager's "Future's End" and "Relativity", would tolerate this entire situation, to say nothing of the Q.
Krysek - Mon, Oct 31, 2011 - 2:34pm (USA Central)
Seems fairly typical of finding a paradise which has a flaw but spends a long time convincing you it's people are happy and everything only to destroy it---in this case----in a very convenient way. It goes along with ds9s bleakness without consequences. They keep saying, those people were really alive but who really believes it? It's just another dream sequence, overused in other shows as well but here hanging on us believing they killed 8000 people. If you don't then the dream is a bit pointless.
Captain Tripps - Wed, Nov 2, 2011 - 11:31pm (USA Central)
Aaron - I'd say the future in front of you is far more pressing than one you can't see or predict. Physicist or not. They don't actually have any answers with regard to the effects of time travel anyway, it's not a very well understood topic even in the 24th century. There's a lot of theory, but how effective is that when you're staring your own descendants in the face?

This episode is built on THAT emotion, not the paradoxes or alternate possibilities. Which is kind of why I like it, and why it's better than most others in Trek.
Allison - Wed, Nov 23, 2011 - 12:07am (USA Central)
I love this episode for all the reasons that Jammer gives: it's about honest choices, there's no cheaty ending, there's a lot of character shown, etc. Even with the glaring problem to me, it's an easy four stars.

The problem is that there was a solution that maximizes even more lives: with the replicators that exist both on the Defiant and the colony, some kind of warp-capable vessel must have been possible to construct. The obvious solution is to send Kira in that new ship through the barrier back to DS9 and get the treatment she needed from one of the other physicians on the station. Then, let the Defiant crew go back in time and start the colony... the timeline is mostly preserved, save for one Bajoran grave in an idyllic field of grass.

Of course, Future-Odo would probably object to that plan if only because he spent two centuries mourning his lost love, and rewriting history would allow he and Kira to be together the way he thought they'd always belonged. (Though he could have gone with her, too. Changelings obviously live a hell of a long time.)
Kojac395 - Fri, Dec 30, 2011 - 6:03am (USA Central)
My big issue with this episode: how come nobody from the Defiant mentioned that they had to get back to stop a war? I mean, I would think that would be the first thing that pops into their heads. "Oh shit, the wormhole will be mostly unguarded without the most powerful warship in the Federation on patrol."
Jay - Thu, Jan 26, 2012 - 8:06am (USA Central)
Kojac is right...that they would be so concerned over 8000 lives, that as mentioned above, wouldn't even be the same 8000 the next time because of the foreknowledge the crew would have this time...when the lives of billions hung in the balance, is some twisted morality...
Chris Freeman - Sat, Mar 17, 2012 - 1:21am (USA Central)
The character moments in this episode were really good, but I couldn't buy in to the story.

It's been established that Star Trek time-travel does not work like Back to the Future time-travel. Things don't fade out, they just exist in alternate timelines. And once you're in a universe in Star Trek, you tend to stay there, no matter what happens to your ancestors.

Related nitpick: I really wish they hadn't given the "then they'll cease to exist" line to Worf. What does he know about quantum theory? Dax would have been more appropriate.

The other problem I have with this episode is when it happened in the series. If it had come before the Dominion war, I'd be more ok with it. But when you have a series-long arc, it's pretty lame to have a one-off episode that is supposed to feel as heavy as this one wants to be. That's just a flaw of this being a series in the 90s. If DS9 had been made after Lost, this wouldn't have happened. But it still bugged me.
Nebula Nox - Mon, Mar 26, 2012 - 5:34am (USA Central)
I've always thought this episode was manipulated into existence by the prophets, who obviously have the ability to control time. The goal of the prophets is to protect Bajor. They can see the Dominion war coming, and they know that Odo's love for Kira is critical to the protection of Bajor. This is why they have chosen this point in time to end the relationship between Kira and Shakaar, and this is why they have created this time travel episode - so that Odo and Kira start the relationship that is so necessary for saving the Alpha Quadrant.
Justin - Wed, Apr 4, 2012 - 4:17pm (USA Central)
@Athena re: "The Visitor" -

From Benjamin's POV it did happen. He kept popping up in the future somehow tethered to Jake, witnessing pieces of his son's existence without him. When elder Jake ended his life it sent his father back to the time of the accident. In real time he only experienced about a day or two's worth of memories. OK, so that was a kind of technobabbly ending, but it didn't take anything away from it for me. Sisko remembered it all and his emotional reaction to what his son did for him was one of the best moments of the series.

@Elliott, why do I get the feeling that if this were a Voyager episode you'd be jizzing all over it? You have a clear bias against DS9 because of its spiritual element as well as the fact that it was specifically designed to be a contrast to TNG. Personally, I just like good stories. Even if (and sometimes especially when) they challenge my preconceived notions. You seem to recognize truly good storytelling when you see it on TNG and VOY, but there's definitely a wall between you and DS9 that you can't see over. You're obviously compelled to watch, so why deny yourself enjoyment?

@Stubb, you're making my brain hurt. Odo doesn't have saliva, he has changeling trace elements.

@Some Dude, excellent point. I would add that this episode did what it ultimately set out to do - it entertained. If not, there wouldn't be so much discussion and difference of opinion.

@Jack, I would theorize that the temporal police of the future or whoever did monitor these events and decided that the correct outcomes occurred each time. At least, the outcomes most favorable to the Federation. Had the Defiant never returned, The Dominion would have conquered The Federation. The Voyager "Endgame" situation is a bit more tricky, but hey, they dealt a crippling blow to The Borg. And who knows? Maybe the elder Janeway is in prison somewhere in an alternate timeline. Maybe Braxton gets his revenge after all. OK, now my brain really hurts...
Justin - Wed, Apr 4, 2012 - 4:24pm (USA Central)
I posted this over at the Dauntless reviews site and I thought I'd share it here as well:

One of the great things about this episode is that while it may have all of the elements of a typical “reset button” show, it refrains from using said button. There are real emotional consequences both for the characters (particularly Odo and Kira) and for the audience. Some may see Odo’s actions as a bridge too far, but that, I think is what the writers were trying to convey.

In a way, Odo did what Harlan Ellison had originally wanted Kirk to do at the end of “City On The Edge Of Forever,” only to be overruled by Gene Roddenberry. Odo sacrificed everything and everyone for the love of a woman. The difference is that Kirk’s decision to save Edith Keeler – had he made it – would have been somewhat impulsive. Odo had lived with 200+ years of unrequited love, not to mention deep sadness over Nerys’ death. He had time to weigh the consequences and when he was presented with the opportunity to save Nerys, he ultimately did the selfish thing and "doomed" the colony to non-existence.

Harlan Ellison’s rather petulant and loudmouthed objection to how Roddenberry had changed his ending to “City” is quite famous in Trek lore. He originally wrote Kirk as being so head over heels in love that he damned the consequences and desperately tried to save Edith at the last second from a fatal car accident, only to have the ever logical Spock intervene in order to preserve history. Roddenberry rewrote it so that McCoy, unaware of the paradox, is stopped from saving the girl by Kirk. Because saving her would have meant the end of history as we know it and that the Enterprise – James T. Kirk’s one true love – would have never existed.

Gene Roddenberry made the right decision for his character and the DS9 writing staff made the right decision for Odo in “Children of Time.” It’s clearly established at this point that Odo is fiercely loyal to Kira and, despite the seeming closure of recent episodes, he is still hopelessly in love with her even 200 years later. He would do anything to save her and he did.
Mario - Mon, Apr 23, 2012 - 2:47pm (USA Central)
This doesn't make any sense at all. How can they "change" anything that has not happened yet? The present part (or the future from our perspective) only happenes once. Either they travel through time or not. If their descendants are there, that means they did and it already happened and nobody can change that - whatever happened, happened. If they don't, their descendant should never exist at all - not exist and then cease to exist.
Haven't they watched LOST? I know it aired a few years later, but with time travel, apparently, everything is possible...
Nyk - Mon, Apr 23, 2012 - 4:22pm (USA Central)
@Mario: There are only 2 ways for time travel to be logically consistent:

1) Whatever happened, happened, i.e. there is only one timeline, you can't change the past no matter how hard you try, it is predetermined.
(e.g. Lost, IMO with the temporal predeterminism as one of the show's strongest points)

2) Parallel timelines: at the exact moment you are transported back into time, a new timeline branches off with you in it, and you can wreak havoc and do whatever you want because the 2 timelines (original and new one) are different ones. The changes you make in the "past" never happened in the original timeline; it is set in stone, otherwise the version of you that travelled to the "past" timeline would never have existed in its present configuration. Also, the alternate timeline is here to stay. It won't vanish once you return to the original one, because it was created by your very arrival from the original timeline.

In Star Trek however, time travel is an illogical paradox-riddled mess.
Elliott - Tue, Apr 24, 2012 - 12:31am (USA Central)
@Justin :

I liked this episode with 2 exceptions, the beginning and the end. Why? Because the philosophical impetus behind the dialogue is idiotic. To be clear, I do not have a bias against DS9 for its spiritual element, I have a problem with how poorly DS9 handles the topic.
Justin - Tue, Apr 24, 2012 - 5:14pm (USA Central)
@Nyk, great job describing the concept of time travel.

@Elliott, I don't see how that relates to my post. Spirituality has little to do with this episode, except for Kira's problem of going against the will of the Prophets. And that clearly happens in the middle. Puzzled...
Latex Zebra - Mon, Apr 30, 2012 - 6:38am (USA Central)
Bill T - Not sure why there is any need to tell anyone to 'shut up' when having gentle discussions about Trek. It's hardly like I (posting as Dan) made reference to it in terms of enjoying the episode any less.

Seen this again since then and I actually liked it more second viewing. This is a 4 for me.
Elliott - Mon, Apr 30, 2012 - 8:13pm (USA Central)
@Justin : your comment which was adressed to me :

"@Elliott, why do I get the feeling that if this were a Voyager episode you'd be jizzing all over it? You have a clear bias against DS9 because of its spiritual element as well as the fact that it was specifically designed to be a contrast to TNG..."

That's why I responded about spirituality. Kira's dilemma in the middle is fine, but the justification for her religious feelings (exposited in the beginning) are crap. For the record, I'd give this episode 3 stars on the Jammer scale. The meat of the story is good enough to warrant 4 stars, but I knock of half for the beginning and the end.
Paul York - Tue, May 15, 2012 - 3:31pm (USA Central)
The crew of the Defiant - and in particular Kira - are choosing to make a utilitarian decision: to trade one life for 8,000. There is a major difference between it being chosen for her and choosing it herself. She chooses it herself and in that choice there is moral worth. She sacrifices her life for others. However, future Odo's choice is selfish: he is trading away the lives of 8,000 for the benefit of his past self, and also negating Kira's moral choice. He comes across as a monster. I appreciated this episode for the ethical dilemma it portrayed -- a dilemma that is often faced by human beings in the present in different ways (e.g. every time we choose to consume something that is unsustainable we are doing so at the expense of future generations). This was good as an exploration of what is called "intergenerational ethics."
Chris - Thu, Jun 21, 2012 - 12:32am (USA Central)
It seems to have already been mentioned, but the whole notion of staying behind for the purpose of "saving these people" is epic fail, since even if they went back it would be an entirely different 8000 people for reasons already state. These particular 8000 were doomed the moment they re-met the crew of the Defiant.
Jasper - Sun, Jun 24, 2012 - 9:36pm (USA Central)
I like this episode, and I think it is indeed a quite good one at that. Nevertheless, I wouldn't give it the highest possible score like Jammer did. The biggest reason is for some of the questions that weren't raised in this question, and an answer was simply assumed.

First off, though, let me start with a thing that I really liked about the episode. It was the ending. The thing I liked about it, was that by the time I was watching it, I was completely convinced that the copying effect presented early on in the episode happened after all, though accidentally this time. Though the colonist never realized, it was what happened in their crash as well, and by recreating the same circumstances, they made sure it happened again. So I thought. I was then thrown a curve ball by the fact that we didn't get an all sweet resolution, but a bitter disappearance of the colony instead.


Then. there is the questions I talked about:

1) Is the settlement going to disappear if the Defiant changes time by not crashing?

If we know one thing about time travel in Trek, it's that it is different each time around. The rules just don't get to be the same each time. That means that when someone encounters an unknown anomaly, they don't know how it's going to work. They might have feared the disappearance of the colony, but having them be certain it was going to happen and never even question it for a second seems very strange.

2) Is never having existed the same as dying?

Is your death never having happened better than having ceased to exist? (The Sons of Mogh think the one gives a place in the afterlife while the other doesn't - a strange conception to say the least.)
This is a very philosophical question and it doesn't matter what way you feel about this. The problem lies in the fact that they just silently all equate never having existed with dying. Perhaps they could have come to this conclusion, but because they don't even raise the point, it makes the whole issue feel artificial.

3) Is there a way to save both the current crew and the colonists?

That's what Federation Captains do, look for ways to save everyone against all odds. However, as soon as the duplicating turns out to be a farce by Yedron Dax, Sisko never even doubts either the current crew or the colonists have to get the short endof the deal.
Even if they had had Yedron utter a line like "I thought about it 200 years, but couldn't find a way to both save the crew and have the colonists live on", I think Sisko would have been stubborn enough to still have his crew look for extra options.

---

I also had some reservations about how Sisko decides to crash the ship knowing everyhing, but that is something I am willing to forgive the episode because of its good character work and the amazing work of showing everyone's influences on the colonists. I can't do the same for the fact the above questions weren't raised. So, while it was a very good episode in my book, I would never give it the maximum score.
Ian - Sat, Jul 14, 2012 - 9:43pm (USA Central)
Sorry, one of the worse time travel episodes...
It has that massive RESET button at the end that everyone usually complains about regarding Voyager....
It would have totally destroyed the continuity of the entire series...
Portrayed the characters as self-sacrificing lunatics...
Totally illogical premise from start to finish...
Other than that...
Gaius Maximus - Wed, Aug 22, 2012 - 7:57pm (USA Central)
This is one of those episodes that I can see is well constructed and I can see why other people love it, but I just cannot stand it. I identify too much with O'Brien, and I still can't believe that he and Sisko are so willing to give up on every seeing their families again, not to mention the lower deck crewmembers who apparently don't get a vote. If I had been in that situation, I would have eaten a phaser before agreeing to stay on that planet and screw any hypothetical future people.

Also, this episode suffers from the common Star Trek problem, (strange given the omnipresent technology of most of the series), of idealizing low-tech lifestyles. Subsistence farming is back-breaking work that ages you fast, and that is what the Defiant survivors would be facing after the crash. Especially considering that these people have always lived in a world where technology provides all the necessities and can solve almost any problem, the first generation or two (at least) of the colony are likely to lead short and miserable lives.
John - Wed, Sep 12, 2012 - 5:31am (USA Central)
Fantastic episode.

In spite of its openness to being torn apart by well-meaning nerds for its time travel paradoxes (or inconsistencies, depending on your position).

My biggest issue is Paul Baillargeon's typically rubbish musical score..
Moegreen - Tue, Oct 2, 2012 - 12:28pm (USA Central)
The older Odo pretty much behaved like the rest of the Founders; putting their self-interest ahead of pretty much anything else. It's as if the writers were saying that Odo's destined to turn out like them in spite of his current associations and friendships.
DavidK - Tue, Jan 1, 2013 - 3:47am (USA Central)
I think Odo gets a lot of flak for this episode. I understand why, his decision is quite monstruous, but it opens up a whole new philosophical time travel dilemma...can you really judge someone based on a decision they would have made? I suppose it reflects on his personality in some distant sense, but 200 years is a long time, I think it would fundamentally change someone. To put it another way, if you asked present-Odo to make the same decision, I suspect he would sacrifice Kira for the 8000 people (just on those terms, ignoring the debate people are having above).

It's also not just a question of time but of circumstance. I don't think Odo is destined to become this sort of person in the future, he became that way after 200 years of loneliness and thinking about her.

On that side note, someone said they doubted Odo would still be thinking about Kira, contrasting a 15 year friendship with 200 years of colony life. I think it could happen, I think if something hurts enough, it either hurts less with time...or it hurts much, much more. If I were to improve the episode I would have made future-Odo a bitter, angry person who has had 200 years to stew over what was taken away from him.

According to Memory Alpha, Ronald Moore said "It tells the audience how deeply this man can love. He can love to the point that he will sacrifice an entire world for a woman." Hmm, love is a tricky thing. Even in reality, the same gesture can be either sweet or creepy depending on how it's done. You can have the romantic lead sit outside his girlfriend's apartment cranking out their favourite song, and make it work as either Say Anything romance or Fatal Attraction thriller.

So yes in the context of this story, there's a difference between the romantic lead saying "I'd sacrifice the whole world for you", and actually wiping out 8000 people.
navamske - Sun, Jun 2, 2013 - 9:00am (USA Central)
"[Harlan Ellison] originally wrote Kirk as being so head over heels in love that he damned the consequences and desperately tried to save Edith at the last second from a fatal car accident, only to have the ever logical Spock intervene in order to preserve history."

Don't get me wrong -- I think COTEOF is a fantastic episode, good science fiction and very moving too. But one thing bugs me. In order for history to proceed as it "originally" did (i.e., the Nazis don't win the war), Edith Keeler must be removed from the timeline so she doesn't form her pacifist movement. In the "real" timeline, this is accomplished by her getting hit by a truck in 1930. We don't know how the Guardian works, what it will and won't allow, but why wasn't the possibility of bringing Keeler back to the twenty-third century with them given any consideration? No Edith Keeler in 1936, no pacifist movement, no Nazi-dominated world. If bringing Keeler back was against the Guardian's "rules," this option could have been discarded with a single line of dialogue. Obviously with this solution, you don't have the affecting drama that COTEOF is. But the possibility did exist for Kirk to have his cake and Edith too.
Peremensoe - Mon, Jun 3, 2013 - 10:21pm (USA Central)
A lot of people are saying that, if the Defiant had gone back, the 'new' colony resulting would be different, by virtue of the crew 'niw' knowing what will come. But it seems to me that the founders of the colony *always* knew. There is no real evidence that the colony was ever founded by a crew that had not met the colony already/much later. Yes, there's the line about O'Brien's "hope," but it's open to interpretation. Perhaps he wrestled with the decision for years after the jump back, searched for ways to return to 'his' time.
DavidK - Tue, Jun 4, 2013 - 7:44am (USA Central)
@navamske
"But the possibility did exist for Kirk to have his cake and Edith too."

You just won the internet with that line as far as I'm concerned =P
CharlesC - Tue, Jun 4, 2013 - 12:54pm (USA Central)
Great episode. Had to comment in answer to Ram above who says: "Dan's question is interesting. Being a geek, I did some simple calculations, assuming people have kids by 35 yrs and live for 70 yrs, 48 people will become ~350 in 200 years if couples have 2 kids each. But if they have 3 kids each, they'll become around 8000. 4 kids each, they become ~30000!"

Am i wrong in thinking that if couples only have 2 kids each then the final population number would be 48. Considering 2 kids per couple is just a replacement level. Assuming 6 generations they need 4-5 kids per couple.
ProgHead777 - Wed, Jul 31, 2013 - 11:20pm (USA Central)
The question I want answered is why everyone thinks that preventing the colony from coming into existence is tantamount to murdering all of the people in it? It's not as if they lived a life and then were killed. They were never born. All of their progenitors live on... +1, i.e., Kira. Put another way: alternate timeline Odo was still alive when the Defiant arrived. Did he "die" after the colony was prevented from being founded? No, of course he didn't. And neither did anyone else.
ProgHead777 - Wed, Jul 31, 2013 - 11:22pm (USA Central)
^Oh, and that goes for the Dax symbiont, too!
William B - Thu, Aug 1, 2013 - 2:30am (USA Central)
@ProgHead777, certainly it's a complicated situation to which close real world analogues are tough to nonexistent. Still, I do think it's kind of close to killing. In the original timeline of the episode (before the Defiant escaped and the colony was wiped out), those people existed, had consciousness; afterwards, they didn't. That is what death is -- but it's even more severe in this case, because the consciousness they had had is now wiped out as well.
ProgHead777 - Thu, Aug 1, 2013 - 10:35pm (USA Central)
@William B, I agree that it's difficult to suss out the moral implication because there's really no real-world situation to compare it to. I guess that's part of the beauty of science fiction. It compels you to think about things in a way that you otherwise never would or even COULD. Anyway, I can kind of see your point. It's bad enough to end someone's life. Wiping out their entire existence from birth to death might be a whole new level of immorality.
nemo - Sun, Aug 18, 2013 - 2:17am (USA Central)
Man... I was so depressed after this episode. I was holding out hope that somehow when they reached the barrier, the duplication thing would trigger anyway. The fact that they avoided the time anomaly and all those people ceased to exist made my heart feel heavy. I can only imagine how the crew felt after they already decided to go through with the time travel only to miss it at the last second and realize that they doomed those people.

The children especially make it hard to deal with. The episode put a good amount of emphasis on the children and now we know that the little boy will never grow up to be a Klingon, and little Molly O'Brien will never get to see those plants grow...

People here are saying that they don't see the issue because the people would just not exist and it's not the same as dying, but I beg to differ. Those people were ALIVE. Those children had dreams for the future. They all had families and friends. Their people were alive for 200 years. Ceasing to exist is the same as dying. Who's to say that when we die we don't simply cease to exist too? What difference does it make for us if we died a natural death or not if in the end we cease to exist anyway. If there is no afterlife, then when we die, our lives and how we lived them have no consequence either. All our experiences, our memories, our lives would just be gone and it's no different than wiping our existence from the timeline.

Anyway, this was a great episode and I agree with the rating. But then again, I always think highly of the episodes that make me feel for the characters.
David - Thu, Aug 22, 2013 - 9:06am (USA Central)
Has anyone wondered how Dax found a new host? I'm guessing there were no spare Trill's hanging around that planet waiting for a symbiont to show up. And Jadzia would have been the only Trill on the Defiant.

Maybe Jadzia had a half Trill baby with one of the Defiant crew, and then Dax jumped ship to Jadzia's baby once Jadzia was old and ready to pass?!?!? Holy incest batman.
Elnis - Sat, Aug 24, 2013 - 8:13am (USA Central)
Lots of interesting points made here by you guys.

This episode got my brain working ovettime as well, about a lot of issues.

There's one thought I can't let go of, though:
When "alternate" Odo linked with "our" Odo (who was in a liquid state at the time), isn't it possible/likely that "our" Odo got access to "alternate" Odo's memories of his 200 years on the planet? If this is the case, then Odo was given a whole lifetime of memories that would probably seem as real to him as his own memories ... and it would make this story Odo's very own "Inner Light" (where Picard gets a lifetime of "fake" memories within a few minutes).

Since we don't know exactly how The Link between changelings works, we dont' know how much information - i.e. how many memories - "our" Odo got from "alternate" Odo ... but the thought certainly is intriguing!

I wish there'd been a line or two about this in the episode - but since there wasn't, I'll think of this episode as Odo's "Inner Light" ;)
JPaul - Wed, Sep 18, 2013 - 10:33am (USA Central)
The biggest issue I have with this episode is the notion that they are dooming 8000 people to non-existence, and it's a matter of measuring one life against 8000. Ok, but what about the kids the crew would have had if they had gone back to DS9? For example, who is to say Chief O'Brien and Keiko don't wind up having 5 more kids? I don't like the implication that it's 1 vs. 8000, it's more like 8000 vs. an undetermined number of descendants the crew will have in the future after a similar 6 generations.

Oh, and for all we know, a Dominion ship could pass the planet the next day, see a bunch of human/Klingons on it and kill everyone in seconds. A little more fragile that having descendants spread over the entire Alpha quadrant.

And hey, what about the billions of people in the Alpha quadrant who will be overrun by the Dominion without Sisko? Really this should have been a VOY episode, not a DS9 episode. At least with VOY, they would have had to make a decision between a very uncertain future and 200+ years of relative prosperity.
Kotas - Sat, Oct 26, 2013 - 12:51pm (USA Central)

A great episode that raises some interesting moral questions. Old Odo was pretty cool and I thought it was a rather interesting way for Kira to find out about his feelings without a big awkward scene.

8/10
Filip - Thu, Dec 12, 2013 - 5:11am (USA Central)
I really liked this episode, really did. However, I can't help it but wonder if the writers could've ended it a bit differently. This does show the immensity of Odo's feelings for Kira, but at the same time I never would've thought Odo capable of condeming 8000 people to death (or nonexistence, even worse). Yes, it was obvious that the Defiant's crew had to get back to DS9 and I was really interested in seeing how they would actually do it, but I really didn't expect this. Someone already mentioned, and I thought this to myself the minute the show ended, Odo has been with those people for the entire 200 years, seen them live, get born and die. And he sacrificed it all for a woman he knew for 15 years? Some love, right?

And for me, the most important thing. If they really had crashed again and founded the settlement once again, the first problem is (as someone has already stated) that knowing what had already happened, the new settlement and people in it definitely wouldn't have been the same as the first. So basically, everyone from the original settlement was doomed the second the new Defiant crashed. Or better said, the second the first Defiant crashed. (Still with me?)
And the second major problem (even a plot hole) is the fact that even if the Defiant had crashed again and they made a second settlement, a new third Defiant would come after another 200 years and everything would happen all over again. And then the fourth would come after another 200 years, and the fifth, sixth and so on. So what I'm trying to say is that the settlement was doomed to exist in a 200 year loop constantly repeating itself. Taking that into consideration, leaving the planet and going to DS9 doesn't sound that bad now, does it?

All in all, I really liked the episode and enjoyed every minute of it. But I have an issue with the ending and Odo's actions. Somehow, they don't suit him, and Star Trek in general.
K'Elvis - Tue, Dec 31, 2013 - 7:51pm (USA Central)
Time travel does weird things. It's a mistake to think about a person who did exist but now never existed in the same way you would think of a person who truly never existed. We make that mistake because time travel just doesn't happen in reality.

These people BOTH existed and never existed. That's worse than death. The results of people's actions go on forever, long after they are forgotten. But to erase someone's existence, takes away even that.

If a time traveler showed up, and said he was going to prevent you from being born, most people would find this horrifying. If someone truly didn't exist, there never was anyone to miss out.
Jons - Wed, Feb 5, 2014 - 2:50pm (USA Central)
Mediocre episode. Obvious time loop problems (they avoid the anomaly because their descendants tell them to avoid it, which means they never have descendants, which means nobody tells them which means they have descendants which... blahblahblah).

Pathetic sentimentalism based on ridiculous biology (200 years is a very, very long time. Nobody's anybody's grandchild, or more exactly, by that time everybody's everybody's grandchild) and dubious comment on abortion (omg! what if those babies had lived!!) which makes no sense.

I honestly don't understand the four star rating. For me it's a 1 star AT BEST.
Daniel - Sun, Feb 16, 2014 - 9:14pm (USA Central)
This episode, unfortunately, had me practically yelling at my TV by the end.
The whole issue, people keep saying is "1 life to save 8000", as if the ONLY way things could work is for Kira to die and the rest of the Defiant crew gets themselves stranded on the planet.
BUT IT DOESN'T HAVE TO WORK THAT WAY.
We see the Defiant crew solemnly prepare to fire a probe... so we know they know how to get past the barrier.
So why, instead of doing that... didn't they instead put Kira into the Chaffee (which is a Warp-Capable shuttle) and send her to DS9, while allowing the Defiant to remain in its time-destined loop cycle?

Kira wouldn't have to die, and neither would the colonists- and they could send a team back later on to recover the pieces of the Defiant.

And Kira and Old-Man-Style Odo could have snuggle time together.

God, I love Star Trek but sometimes it feels like the writers are so busy writing happy-planting scenes that they forget these glaring plot holes.
James - Fri, Feb 21, 2014 - 12:25pm (USA Central)
As has been addressed above, it's ridiculous to go to these lengths to save "these 8000 people", because with the Defiant crews knowledge of the future, even if the colony survives, it's going to be another set of 8000 people that continue on. O'Brien surely wouldn't have waited so long to give up on getting back to Keiko the second time, since it will have been voluntary. So right there, a different egg/sperm combo, which will reverberate through the "O'Brien line" on this colony'.

These particular 8000 people were doomed the instant the Defiant penetrated the energy barrier the second time, at the beginning of the episode.
Vylora - Sat, Mar 1, 2014 - 12:00am (USA Central)
I've always been on the fence with this one. Sure it's 8000 lives versus 1 life (and the livelihoods of the crew) in simplistic terms. But the real conundrum here is not the "needs of the many" scenario. It's the fate versus destiny paradox and what one does when confronted with it in this manner. Does it ultimately make a difference if these people disappear because they weren't meant to exist in the first place? I mean, sure, if I was one of them I would want to continue living. But if I knew the bigger picture and truly understood that my "sacrifice" would mean restoring my family bloodline back to "normal", would I do it? Especially with the knowledge that I am not dying per se?

There's also the added bonus to the fate versus destiny scenario in that of the Defiant coming there the second time in the first place (if that makes sense). Thankfully they avoided the potential of a circular time-loop here. There's just the one time that sets up the colonists and then the second time that sets up the conundrum.

At the risk of ranting I will stop here. Suffice it to say it is another intriguing addition to the many intriguing ideas that ST is known for. I have minor quibbles about the colonists themselves and the music was WAY too high in the mix to the point of distraction...but otherwise in and of itself this episode was not bad at all. In fact it was quite well done and I rather liked it. But hardly a classic in my opinion.

High end of 3 stars.
kapages - Sat, Mar 1, 2014 - 1:24pm (USA Central)
A) The colonists had 200 years to relocate to the other side of the planet.
Therefore, when the Defiant landed again, the crew would do exactly the same things as the first time.
Lets assume no butterfly effect stands.
Otherwise, moot point, everybody was doomed.
I dont believe in loop paradoxes.

B) If we disregard time travel problems, also the moral dilemma has a simple solution.

Defiant crew is Starfleet, taken an oath to protect civilians with their lives.
If a colony was under Dominion attack, they would sacrifice themselves to save them.
Same here. 8000 civilians vs lives of 48 starfleet soldiers.
No brainer.
Lionheart - Mon, Mar 3, 2014 - 8:29am (USA Central)
Like Vylora said, the problem is not 'the needs of the many vs the needs of the few', it should be the concept 'destiny'.

I have a problem with some of the ways of thinking of the characters. Kira believes she will 'kill' 8000 colonists because she has to live, but she's being supremely selfish. It's not like the crew wants to return *only* because Kira will die, it's because of multiple reasons, such as the fact that their getting stranded was not supposed to happen, it goes against the timeline, and because they already have large families at home, etc etc.
Aside from that, if they return to DS9, the colonists will not 'die', they simply would not have ever existed.

What I found very odd and enraging was that none of the crew commented on Kira's views. Miles just said: ''I don't believe in your prophets''. Wow, such depth. What he should have said is: ''if destiny means that your fate is predetermined, and you think your death on the planet is your fate (determined by the prophets), then that means it would be impossible to return to DS9. The prophets would find a way to prevent you from returning. If they didn't, then that means it was your destiny to return''.

That's a serious hole in her logic that wasn't addressed. Because of that and the fact that Odo would sacrifice 8000 people (genocide, in their view) for one person, this episode lost much of its value. I just don't see Odo going crazy like that, ever.

Dave - Tue, May 6, 2014 - 5:28am (USA Central)
This is just another example of why one should not think too much when indulging in Sci-Fi. This is a very entertaining story based on a theoretical premise, but mostly, it's fantasy of the highest order and deserves to be enjoyed as such. Over thinking Star Trek can just ruin it.
Pscott - Wed, May 14, 2014 - 11:37pm (USA Central)
I mostly love this episode but I wanna talk about some character problems. First is Dax. I don't know if it's her acting or what but Dax has always come off as an android to me. Just the way she talks. Even when she's trying to be emotional
It comes off as stale. Anyways this all was Dax's fault. She seems to dislike the new Dax the whole episode. Maybe it's because of guilt if I'm being generous. My main problem with her is she doesn't care that not going back will make these people die. When they are all debating going back or not she says these people will cease to exist. She doesn't say die. Then at the end she coldly tells Sisko these people never existed. These are the people they just planted crops with. She saw these children playing and she again comes off like an android. She doesn't want to take responsibility for these people dying. Even obrien finally comes around and says we can't let these people die. obrien was awesome in this ep. He tried to stay distant from these people but finally realized he couldn't let these people die even if he couldn't see his family again. He is a genuinely good man.

I also had a problem with Odo. He lives with these people for hundreds of years and is ok with them dying just for Kira. It doesn't come off as romantic. It comes off as crazy obsessive. I'm surprised Kira ever hooked up with him. It reminds me of an ep in season 7 when another changeling tells Odo that when they linked he learned that if it wasn't for Kira Odo would be with the great link even with the dominion war ongoing. That was a huge statement. Odo would also be ok with the destruction of the alpha quadrant and all his friends as long as he was in the link. But he stays with the group at ds9 because of Kira. Great episode but it was very revealing for those three characters.
Pscott - Wed, May 14, 2014 - 11:43pm (USA Central)
Oh and one more thing.....it wasn't just 8,000 people were affected by this. You have the thousands that have lived and died on that planet during the 200 years then you have the 8000 who died in this ep. And they did die becaue they did physically exist
Lionheart - Tue, Jun 3, 2014 - 10:01am (USA Central)
Pscott, the whole point is that the people on the planet didn't die, because when the crew broke free from the planet's atmosphere, the timeline was restored. At that point, the colonists had never actually started existing. It's been a while since I last saw this episode, but I know the colonists in the end never existed. If the crew had remained stranded there, then yes, they would exist. But because they never existed, they also never died.
Robert - Tue, Jun 3, 2014 - 11:09am (USA Central)
I think Pscott is reading something into Dax's semantics that aren't there.

"My main problem with her is she doesn't care that not going back will make these people die. When they are all debating going back or not she says these people will cease to exist. She doesn't say die. Then at the end she coldly tells Sisko these people never existed. These are the people they just planted crops with. She saw these children playing and she again comes off like an android. She doesn't want to take responsibility for these people dying."

Yes, O'Brien eventually says die, but he's not the scientist. Dax is being correct. They never existed. She's not trying to absolve herself of responsibility. if anything not existing is a worse fate than dying. I felt a gravity to her statement at the end, not a coldness. And she's actually the first person to take Kira's side at the briefing (even before Worf).

"O'BRIEN: What? Have you lost your mind?
BASHIR: Kira, if we don't go back to the station you'll die within a few weeks. There's nothing I can do for you here.
KIRA: I know that, Julian. I've accepted it. We've got to take the Defiant back in time, otherwise we're cheating fate.
O'BRIEN: Yeah, well, I wouldn't mind cheating fate all the way home to the station.
DAX: Neither would I. But if we go home, eight thousand people are going to cease to exist. "

And I found later actions by Odo to be much more troubling. He lived on this planet for 200 years, an immortal watching his friends die. By the time his true love came back he probably WAS a little crazy. But that's not our Odo, it's one possible version of him. I found his actions during the occupation and the comment by Laas to be more disturbing.
Nissa - Wed, Jun 25, 2014 - 11:13pm (USA Central)
I didn't like this episode. I didn't sympathize with the colonists, and I was very happy when Odo made sure the colonial timeline never happened.

On the other hand, it's fascinating that this episode received so many positive reviews. It's as though all it takes is some over-the-top emotion for people to like something.
Yanks - Thu, Aug 14, 2014 - 1:07pm (USA Central)
This is one of those love/hate episodes.

It's hard to hate this. Trek does this all the time. Throw some cute kids up there, add some family stuff... we just love this stuff. ( I know I do)

But there are some glaring problems. The below quote is from ‘Ex Astris Scientia’ because there is no way I could have worded it better :-)

“Sisko's decision to let the time travel happen is highly doubtful in three respects. Firstly, from an ethical viewpoint it is equivalent to abandoning his duty and family intentionally and condemn his first officer to death. Moreover he more or less orders his crewmates to do the same. Secondly, the fact that the crew have learned about their future in the past will almost certainly change the history of the planet, considering various possibilities of female/male relationships that cannot be controlled and would develop in a completely different way. In this case the known descendants might never come to existence and the sacrifice of the Defiant crew in favor of them would be useless. Thirdly, even if we accept that the timeline with the Defiant crashed on the planet is the original one (because it is "predestined"), it is created involving a time travel, and this is not possible in the natural course of time. In this regard, if it is possible to break the causality loop, it would be generally the right decision to alter history in a way that the time travel and its effects are avoided or compensated.”

Due to the 3rd point, I’m not sure this could/should have happened at all.

But, isn’t time travel always a head-ache? Lol

Damn, wouldn’t this make Sisko ENSURE that Kira and Odo don’t get together? Odo killed 8000 folks because in 200 years he couldn’t get over Kira’s death… eeesh, just what else is he going to be capable of doing?

One more thing, could someone on the bridge shed a tear – show some heart, how about Sisko throwing a fit… - or SOMETHING!!! The ending just seemed so “not caring” to me…

Don’t get me wrong, I love this episode and never skip it on rewatches.

I give this one a 3.5 because I don’t think they thought out the actual time travel part well enough.
Robert - Thu, Aug 14, 2014 - 1:45pm (USA Central)
I agree with a great deal of your review, but I think the appropriate response when a planet full of your family vanishes is probably numbness. That's probably too great a thing to throw a fit or a tear over... a least right away.
Yanks - Thu, Aug 14, 2014 - 4:23pm (USA Central)
Thanks Robert. I believe numbness is exactly what they were going for and I can see that, but when I watched it I just got the feeling I wanted something more.
Hlau - Wed, Aug 20, 2014 - 6:21pm (USA Central)
I can't see it as a 1 vs 8000 argument. It's one set of possibilities vs another and you can say that we all make an infinite amount of these choices with every action we make. Maybe if I don't leave my house now, I won't make my wife and none of that line of descendants would've both etc. I mean, if they did go back 200 years, O'brien would HAVE to shack up with that Ensign after ten years at the exact same time to produce the right offsprings? I guess it is the time paradox about knowledge of the future, if it's destiny then you can't change, if you can change it then what you see as the future must be something else.

It's just how you frame it. I mean, we forget that this timeline only exists since Jake brought Sisko back in the Visitor. Jake wasn't presented with the choice, but the Dominion war didn't happen in his timeline, how many lives was that worth? But here we don't see odo's pov. I did think he was a bit of an idiot to tell Kira it was all about her though, that can haunt people for the rest of their life if there wasn't a reset at the end of the episode.

I did like that it took Odo two hundred years and time travel to get out of the friend zone though.
Yanks - Wed, Aug 20, 2014 - 8:21pm (USA Central)
^^ Don't agree at all.

Odo made the conscience choice to sacrifice everyone in the settlement to save Kira. It's that simple.
Hlau - Thu, Aug 21, 2014 - 1:19pm (USA Central)
^ yeah, Odo did it to save Kira, but if you love someone would you really actually tell them that? It would make her feel guilty if anything,
Chris - Wed, Aug 27, 2014 - 9:29pm (USA Central)
I couldn't work up any feelings for this colony's survival, and especially the people in it, since for reasons stated already, even if this colony was saved by the Defiant's actions, these particular 8000 people are not the ones who will be occupying it anymore in any event.
Yanks - Thu, Aug 28, 2014 - 4:22pm (USA Central)
Hlau,

Good point. REALLY good point. It makes Odo seem very self serving here doesn't it?

Chris,

That's an interesting thought. If I understand you if the Defiant stays "again", they the 8000 disappear anyway?
Robert - Fri, Aug 29, 2014 - 8:46am (USA Central)
I think what Chris is saying is that considering you are the result of a single sperm and egg intersecting at the exact correct instant in time/space the odds of all of the planet people being born again now that the crew is slightly different (Bashir knows who he will marry, so maybe they'll get together faster). I try not to think about that since it ruins the episode if you focus on it.

If I went back in time and told your parents (right before they met) that they would get married some day it would almost definitely negate your existence.
Adrian - Tue, Sep 2, 2014 - 10:09am (USA Central)
I just can't believe O'brien would choose to abandon Keiko, Molly, and Yoshi to save a group of people who would otherwise just never be born.

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