Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

“If Wishes Were Horses”

2 stars.

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

Review Text

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

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

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

Previous episode: Progress
Next episode: The Forsaken

Like this site? Support it by buying Jammer a coffee.

◄ Season Index

Comment Section

60 comments on this post

    I agree that this is the worst episode of the season. On paper, it looks like standard Trek: weird stuff starts happening, and they trace it to a Sufficiently Advanced Alien, and everyone learns a lesson about not letting your imagination run away with you.

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

    Curiously, in the last episode, Ben has no problem with Bajor's decision to move an old man from his home (or kill him if he won't move) for the sake of others; but here he immediately opposes Chief being given the chance to sacrifice his daughter to save everyone on the station.

    Often derided ( not least by Jammer) as the weakest episode of Season 1, I must confess I wasn't exactly breathless with anticipation for this one, and let's not kid ourselves, it isn't up to the best things This series has done.

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

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

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

    So, largely inoffensive, but definitely better scripted and less trite than 'Q-less' and not as irritating as 'Move along Home' - In the bottom 5 of the season, certainly, but definitely not the weakest episode for me.

    I am surprised this episode even garnered a 2-star rating. The premise is extremely far-fetched and absurdly ridiculous.

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

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

    My rating: 1 star out of 4

    Yes this was a bit weak... kind of like when Picard's granny showed up in the first traveller episode in TNG...

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

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

    I also would have thought Sisko's wife might have made an appearance... it could have been better, like the TNG episode I mentioned above... it's like they introduce an idea and then are afraid to follow it to its logical conclusion.

    You all have no imaginations. (j/k) But I do love this episode, plenty enough to suspend my disbelief. I know I'm in a minority though... I thought "Move Along Home" was greatly entertaining, but no one else seems to feel that way. I guess to me, Star Trek is like pizza. Even when it's not the best it's still pretty enjoyable, and it has to be pretty bad to really be offensive. (see: TNG's "Sub Rosa" and Dominos' old recipe)

    @Adara: While I'd hardly rank this episode among DS9's high points I'll agree with you. I still liked it. I liked the bits of character development it lent to Dax/Bashir, I liked the introduction of the all important "desk baseball" and I even liked Rumple. The scenes of chaos on the promenade were amusing as well. Odo and Quark were good and Sisko's final solution presented him well. It showed a lot of promise I think.

    You are missing the point. one of the greatest baseball hitters of all time is a 5'7 pudgy japanese player? get real!

    azcats gets a time out for mean behaviour. I thoroughly enjoyed this episode second time around.

    This episode was not able to bring out a true sense of wonder and or terror, the technobabble did its part to prevent that. Baseball is also terrible to convey anything to me, that game does not have world wide appeal. It was a daring concept but unfortunately it fell short.

    1 1/2 Stars

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


    A ridiculous episode, but for once it was nice to see the bird given a truly alien name, rather than +ian ostrich.

    Buck Bokai is far too dumpy looking to buy as an athlete, especially one of the caliber presented here.

    And the "I could have played 5 more years if they hadn't killed the game" is beyond ridiculous. We're to beleive that it was "killed" in the midst of the career of its best player? Makes it seem as if it was outlawed rather than just gradually falling out of favor. Both are ludicrous notions, frankly, but the former is a hundred times moreso. What would be the reason to pass such a law?

    @ Jack . . maybe baseball ended because the Federation had phased out money?

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

    Your post simply throws up an even bigger absurdity to the you were trying to explain.

    AZCATS: "You are missing the point. one of the greatest baseball hitters of all time is a 5'7 pudgy japanese player? get real!"

    One of the greatest baseball players of all time was a pudgy American player with weak ankles. It's not that hard to believe.

    I watched this episode on Syfy recently, and it was weird.

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

    My reaction was "Uh, what?!"

    Another skipper for me.

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

    A head shaker.

    Baseball, boring?

    .5 stars.

    Teaser : *, 5%

    Quark and Odo have an inane conversation about fantasy and imagination, that is spared the depths of uncontestable shit only by the invested performances of Shimmerman and Auberjonois. Uck. It seems like everyone has regressed half a season—we have another painful and clichéd Dax/Bashir scene, the aforementioned Odo/Quark nothingness, random energy fluctionations—the only redeeming feature so far is the O'Briens' bedtime story—because Meaney is terrific and Molly is cute. Molly emerges from her room to announce that Rumpelstiltskin is in her room. And lo and behold, he is! I'm done. Game over. Please tell me this is Q again, or a dream, or anything but this!!...[breaks down in tears]...

    Act 1 : .5 stars, 17%

    And of course accompanying this idiocy is one of those typical directionless scores that paint every word and action with a faintly sick shade of beige. I can already see, it's going to be very hard to write a meaningful review—we are fed these scenes where these characters show up and spend agonising minutes explaining who they are. Well, I can at least point out that the motif for this episode seems to be pædophilia—Rumpelstiltskin appearing in Molly's room, Buck Bukai following Jake home (and that guilty shrug), and hell, Bashir is basically a child having a childish fantasy about a woman 12 times his age, so throw that one in!

    So rather than trying attempting to write something clever and have these goofy apparitions be slowly discovered in a way that might at least bear a tangental relationship to entertainment, all the mystery guests are brought to to Ops along with the senior staff. Okay, we're done. Can I go home now? The sad thing is, Ferrel makes a better cheerleader than she does a scientist.

    Act 2 : 0 stars, 17%

    So, this Asian man with a New York accent who played baseball in London starts listing a bunch of made-up statistics which he remembers ('cause it's THE FUTURE!!). It's established that these characters have come out of the imaginations of our regulars. Wait a minute. So, one of Jake's heroes emerges from his *imagination* as a statistic-spouting drone; O'Brien (or Molly's) imagination produces this cheap community-theatre Rumpelstiltskin knock-off; and Bashir's oh so wild sexual imagination creates this Dax who is exactly like the regular Dax, but dumb and into him? Not a Dax with five breasts and a whip, wearing a TOS style uniform maybe? Not a Rumpelstiltskin who is actually terrifying (as he is supposed to be in fiction)? Not a Buck Bokai who reflects the legendary status his memory would impart? Didn't these people learn anything from "Where No One Has Gone Before"? Allow me to quote our illustrious host, Jammer, from his review of that episode : “...all of it is based on pure fantasy rather than sci-fi. When anything can happen,'s kind of a fantasy-manufactured letdown.”

    Odo calls Ops reporting a fucking snow-storm on the Promenade, only for Sisko to casually shrug it off. Dax gives us some BS technobabble explanation of why this is happening...I was too bored to pay attention, and I'm not subjecting myself to rewatching a single moment of this crap, so you'll have to look it up yourselves. the aforementioned “Where No One Has Gone Before,” the goofy imagination-come-alive bit was a small part of a larger episode that had other things going for it. When Odo demands Quark's patrons refrain from using their imaginations and the best Quark can come up with is two women who are less scantily-clad than his own Dabbo girls, you know you're not even treading water anymore, episode.

    Ugh, and Quark freaks out because his patrons' imaginations are letting them win every round at his games and they're “taking [him] to the poorhouse.” Gosh, if only there were some way to just imagine a giant pile of Latinum, or gee maybe your own moon orbiting Bajor? Naw, that's just a stupid fantasy.

    So right after the real Dax offers a reasonable bandage over the awkwardness of Bashir's fantasy-version, she starts complaining about how submissive Julian's version of her is! You JUST admitted that private fantasies are not meant to be shared, that's why they're *private*. Then you start berating him for his fantasy disappointing you. Then, because she's a genius, she starts ARGUING WITH HER FANTASY DOUBLE. Something about “cold fish” [cue gag reflex]. I can't comment on this scene anymore, I'm sorry, moving on.

    Ugh, God I guess I have to, since now we've added the jeopardy plot to this dreck—the same force that's creating these fantasies will blow everything up because fuck you.

    Act 3 : **, 17%

    Rumpelstilskin manages to break the chief's cool by implicitly threatening Molly, his first-born. This is still bad, but it manages to get something right, characterisation.

    Meanwhile, Bokai—who just insists on walking around in full uniform...with his mitt on...because, you know, cups, cleats and caps are super comfortable to wear indoors—follows Sisko around. We get a repeat of that weird lamentation from “Evolution,” curtesy of Michael Piller, on the loss of such a noble endeavour as baseball.

    So, now that we've nearly gotten through the third act, we finally get a third step in the plot (1 per 10-minute act is not really enough when your material is this bland); the three fantasy characters meet in private to discuss their progress with their imaginative targets, Bashir, Sisko and O'Brien. They intend to take “as long as it takes” to finish their experiment. My only solace is there are only....NINETEEN MORE MINUTES!?!?!? Excuse me, while I raid the liquor cabinet.

    Act 4 : *, 17%

    I wonder what Kira's fantasy would be like? Cardassians burning alive, screaming in agony? That would be an interesting sight...

    It turns out that a Vulcan science vessel is responsible for this subspace whatever, prompting Bashir's “Vulcans don't have the most active imaginations?” What is your beef with Vulcans, DS9? I remind of you Tuvok's take: “I have a highly developed imagination, as do all of my race.” Fuck off, episode.

    In this one instance, I'm not going to fault Visitor for her over-the-top, er, outburst of acting because it prevented me from actually falling asleep during this scene. On second thought, why I am I thankful for that?

    ...Who is imagining all these ostriches running around? Are they more playmates for Quark?

    Oh, my god—I actually did not remember this next scene when I wrote that bit about Kira's fantasy. Yep, her imagination creates people on fire, running around screaming, although I think they were Bajorans, not Cardassians. Wow, episode, thanks for that. I promise, I was just kidding! Is my imagination affecting this episode now, too? Why are they ostriches in my office??? AHHH!!

    is this still on? Oh, okay. Odo's big fantasy is putting Quark in jail. Yeah...nothing about finding out where his people come from or what his purpose in life is? Please, that's not what Odo's about! He's about being a policeman! That's what's interesting.

    We get another DBI, with Jake trying to imagine getting away with sneaking off to the holosuite under Sisko's nose. Again, did Michael Piller think it was 1955?

    So, the space vagina is expanding, much to everyone's, er, “horror” (it reads like vague disinterest). Also, we get a a 45 second sweep of the characters staring at the viewscreen. What do you think this is, TMP? You're not a film, and this ain't Jerry Goldsmith, I can tell you that.

    Act 5 : .5 stars, 17%

    Well we couldn't get through this mess without a heaping gob of technobabble, could we?

    Blah blah blah and it looks like they made it worse; things start shaking and sparks flying, etc. Fantasy Dax gets injured, Rumpelstiltskin offers to seal the space vagina in exchange for Molly, of course.

    And, Sisko just tells everyone to stop imagining things—because humans can just do that—and all the fantasies disappears. Jesus.

    We get a little epilogue wherein Bokai appears to Sisko to explain that they're aliens (of course) exploring humanoid imagination. And Bokai explains that the danger to the station was really Sisko's crew's fault, not the aliens who made their fears and desires suddenly appear in reality. So what's the lesson here? I mean, shutting off their imaginations is what saves the day, right? The episode can't seem to decide whether it's pro-imagination or against...and he leaves his ball..but it's not real...but it ends up showing up in later episodes...what's happening?

    Episode as Functionary : .5 stars, 10%

    The only thing I can recommend about this episode is Meaney's urgent performance as a terrified father. It's a necessary and welcome addition to his character. Everything else is either ridiculous, boring, pointless, or all of the above. I am going to let Jammer sum this up with a quote from “And the Children Shall Lead,” a similarly painful hour of Trek : “A dismally frustrating, repetitive, and bland hour.” I recommend skipping over this as quickly as your remote allows.

    Final Score : *

    "We get a repeat of that weird lamentation from “Evolution,” curtesy of Michael Piller, on the loss of such a noble endeavour as baseball."

    I like the idea of imagining Michael Piller watching TOS and TNG s1-2 and just thinking to himself, "well, I guess the future looks okay, BUT WHERE IS THE BASEBALL?" staying up at night pondering the implications of a world in which baseball is never discussed, then jumping at the chance to write for TNG so that he can write that very monologue.

    I'll start with what I liked:

    The way I read the Rumpelstiltskin thing with O'Brien is this: O'Brien's fear of the character turns out to be that the fairy tale character steals firstborn children. When Rumpelstiltskin eventually suggests that O'Brien can save the station by making a deal with him to give up his daughter, I think it's playing out, in an exaggerated fashion, a fear that O'Brien probably has had for quite a while: what if, at some point, I will be asked to choose between my work and my family, but with impossibly high stakes? Between my daughter, and hundreds of thousands of lives? And what if it's a choice between my daughter *AND* the whole rest of the station, or only my daughter? That he brought his family to a risky location with Gamma Quadrant forces and terrorists factions and periodic Cardie visits has *got* to weigh on him, and his Starfleet career is such that Molly was even born in the midst of a quantum-filament disaster where O'Brien was on the bridge waiting to see whether Troi made the call to sacrifice much of the ship's personnel, IIRC including his wife and about-to-be-born daughter. It's not milked for much drama, but there is some slowly mounting dread, covered up by irritation, which Meaney plays wonderfully.

    While the spatial anomaly was boring and the tech was difficult to sit through, I liked the twist that the anomaly was caused by Jadzia's imagination. Maybe I should have seen that coming, but even though I'd seen the episode before I'd totally forgotten it. It's especially neat because the episode did show every other regular having some sort of imagination fantasy but they downplayed Jadzia's own fantasies, especially since it seemed like the episode would posit Jadzia reacting to Bashir's version of her as sufficient "Dax fantasy" material for the episode.

    The way Bashir stutters out that he's always imagined that Jadzia has a sense of humour is a particularly funny line, something about (Alexander) Siddig (El Fadil)'s delivery (NOTE: I'm not sure what I should call him at this stage -- the name he used at the time, or the name after he changed it? I guess Siddig covers both).

    The episode itself is pretty terrible, though. The format of Aliens Run Experiment To Learn About Human Trait X is usually ineffective (which I consider distinct from the Aliens Put Humans Through Test/Trial genre). Here aliens want to learn about imagination. What they actually learn, I have no idea -- at the end, Alien Buck Bukai tells Sisko that he thought at first that imagination was a waste of time, but now thinks differently, because, uh...well.... The positive aspects of imagination -- that imagination can be used to create things in the real world, to come to a deeper understanding of others, to make reality more bearable, etc. Quark imagines hot women, Odo Quark in jail, and patrons imagine winning at dabo, demonstrating the vast possibility of imagining Good Things among our cast. The downsides to imagination we see -- Big Fires, disastrous vortexes, etc. -- are, it should be noted, only a problem if a) a person suffers or makes bad decisions based on their fear which make those fears come true (or other bad outcomes), or b) if aliens make Imagination come true for real, which, you know, doesn't normally happen. It's not that BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR stories or FACING ONE'S NIGHTMARES have no merit, because they can often be great, but for the most part no one learns anything from their Imaginings, for good or ill, which means it's hard to see what the aliens learn. I guess Odo learns that he has enough imagination to imagine seeing Quark locked up. The ending plays a bit like Sisko gets that Imagining Disasters Sometimes Creates Disasters or whatever, but it's not well executed. In general, both the desires and fears are extremely dull. This episode's idea of upping the ante on Crazy Imaginings is to go from having one bird on the promenade to two. No one has any imagination on this station!

    The Bashir/Dax/Dax stuff is particularly painful, partly because Terry Farrell can't muster much enthusiasm or energy for *either* role. Why is Bashir's Imagined Dax so boring? She goes from low-energy aloof and calm science person to low-energy aloof feigning-affection person, and it should be said that neither role is particularly believable. It also occurs to me that there's very little sense of what it is exactly that makes Bashir and Dax friends, as she states at the beginning of the episode; Bashir presumably is into her because of her body, but what is it that makes Dax tolerate Bashir's presence, let alone be friends with him?

    There is something interesting in Bukai's statement to Sisko at the end, that Bukai, a person who died two hundred years before Sisko's time, still feels real to Sisko, and that this makes Sisko (and by extension all humans) interesting. I don't know what to make of it in the context of this episode, but it does coincide with "Emissary's" depiction of Sisko being a man somewhat out of time, both in his ability to communicate with the Wormhole Aliens and also in his being briefly "stuck" at the time of Jennifer's death. It's not just that Sisko has a sense of history; there is a part of him that seems to be tied to other times in Earth's history, which comes up again in the series, whether it's through the baseball thing, his father's long sense of New Orleans history, his eventual living out the key role in the Bell Riots, or Benny Russell. I don't know what to make of this exactly as a character trait, but it may be that something will develop that helps me see the big picture.

    Probably 1 star, maybe 1.5.

    Another fairly bad misfire. This goes off on a fairly surreal tangent but doesn't really have the courage of its convictions. There was at least the potential to do something really strange here. Instead we get fantasy Dax. (Although we do get a rather disturbing burning man sequence, which is pretty un-Trek like.

    If value is to be found in Odo chasing emus on the promenade then I guess this is a classic. For everything else, not really. 1.5 stars.

    @Dave - Enjoying your reviews, but wondering if we are all too jaded. If this was a TOS episode it would have gotten a 3 from most people for being good mindless fun. It earns a point for me just for the nostalgia of being the origin of Sisko's baseball.

    Really bad episode, flat, nonsense, ridiculous, stupid. I had to watch it in three sittings because my forehead was hurting from so many facepalms. Worst of the season by far.

    Another transplanted TNG story - only this time I even doubt it would work on TNG.

    Where to begin? Let's start with Rumpelstiltskin. Rumpel-fucking-stiltskin! Were they kidding?! I guess it was originally planned for this to be a leprechaun but Colm Meaney talked them out of it because of all the negative Irish stereotypes leprechauns represent. Maybe they should have gone with their first plan. At least then they could have played around with the stereotypes and showed how ridiculous they are. Instead we got this. Isn't Rumpelstiltskin supposed to be terrifying? This guy is all cute and cuddly and adorable. He's only vaguely threatening when he asks if Molly is O'Brien's firstborn.

    Buck Bokai. Who cares? What is this obsession these people have with how noble baseball supposedly is? Look, I actually like that Sisko is a baseball fan, it gives us some nice moments throughout the series and even delivers an enjoyable fluff piece in "Take Me Out to the Holosuite". But enough of stuff like "That was baseball's epitaph, wasn't it. Nobody seemed to have time for us anymore." Baseball isn't the god-damn Mona Lisa or Michelangelo's David!

    Fantasy Dax. You know, it's actually kind of sad that I prefer Fantasy Dax to the real one. She may be demure almost to the point of being off-putting, but, at least she has a definable personality. I mean, other than being snooty and condescending. And there's the scene where Real Dax basically treats Bashir like shit for fantasizing about her in that way. So, Bashir profusely apologizes for Fantasy Dax's personality, Real Dax says not to worry about it because private thoughts are private and she feels like Bashir's privacy has been invaded, then she criticizes him for said private thoughts. Was this supposed to be funny, in a haha-Bashir-is-so-uncomfortable-let's-laugh-at-him kind of way? Because all it was a damn-Dax-really-is-an-unlikable-ass kind of way. Bashir apologizes for PRIVATE THOUGHTS and it's still not good enough for her because those thoughts don't live up to her expectations. What a bitch! What does Bashir see in this woman; hell, what does anybody see in her? Then she gets into an argument with Fantasy Dax while continuing to criticize Bashir, because they hadn't shown how much of a bitch she could be yet, I suppose. UGH!!!! The only redeeming (if you can call it that) feature is that Terry Farrell plays a bubble-headed, submissive nymphomaniac better than she plays Real Dax.

    Oh, and we have a spatial anomaly threatening everyone which is only part of their imaginations. So, to quote Kira from "Move Along Home", "What? You mean we were never in any real danger?" because fuck any actual drama or tension we might have had. Oh, and we get this this classic Trek scene - "Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention, please? Ladies and gentlemen, and all androgynous creatures, your attention please! As you may have noticed, we're experiencing some difficulties. I'm going to have to ask you all to please refrain from using your imaginations." I guess with didn't quite have the necessary dose of cringe-worthiness yet for the episode!

    The only redeeming feature of "If Wishes Were Horses" is that it gave Colm Meaney a chance to portray a concerned father, always a welcome thing (especially since in today's television landscape fathers are almost uniformly bumbling, incompetent fools). It's not the worst of DS9 Season One - it's not asinine like "Move Along Home" or horribly conceived like "Q-Less" and it's not downright unwatchable). But it's still pretty bad.



    I thought the episode was a lot of fun, good to see a lighter one and especially the unexpected, still pretty entertaining though not quite compelling resolution.

    Only sports hating nerds would predict a future earth where there is no more baseball. Come on now. No money, no hunger, no wars, no baseball? What will they do with their free time?

    This episode was fun, but one thing couod have made it better.They should have had Jennifer Sisko show up, just my opinion. Quark was fun to watch in this one...

    Buck Bokai...

    Why would they place a chubby out of shape actor as "one of the greatest ball players of all time"? Was this a rib or some sort of inside joke?

    I can get him being the best of his era.. perhaps nobody played anymore and nobody cared to be fit or work hard so he was fine against who he was competing against.. So that may mean he did obliterate the record book against inferior competition; that doesn;t make him a greatest of all time.

    So, 20+ years later, does anyone know why they chose this particular guy to play a pro baseball player other than being some sort of inside joke?

    @ dave-

    I think it's an homage to Babe Ruth, widely considered the best player in baseball history (or top 3, easily). Think of someone with the power to hit 50+ homeruns in an era when getting 20 was amazing. On top of that he was also an incredible PITCHER.

    Anyhow he was not the.. ah, most fit guy out there. He routinely drank beer and ate hot dogs, I think even before games haha.

    So I think that's why they went the Buck Bokai route there.

    All fair comments, but did you all miss the episodes key point -- Quark has an awesome imagination! Who were those women on his arms?

    Far from terrible, if not very far; more of a 1.5 than a 2 for me. What works about it works because of Colm Meaney's and Terry Farrell's strong comic performances - they react to the silly situation in funny and relatable ways that help make the whole episode less bizarre and offputting to the audience than it could have been. Plus the Odo/Quark fare is as strong as it has been throughout season 1, and Kira's PTSD moment of imagining an explosion and injuries is well-conveyed. What doesn't work is the whole space anomaly plot, which dominates the episode more and more, and the swift resolution and poor motivation/explanation for the aliens' behavior. The Buck Bokai actor is not good and miscast. The best parts of the ep are the Bashir/Dax scenes, which manage to be funny without being exploitative and even allow the real Dax a nuanced response (along the lines of "I almost feel we're the ones violating your privacy by having to witness your perfectly normal fantasy... but do you really want me to be so submissive?") as well as the teaser in which O'Brien discovers Rumpelstiltskin in Molly's bedroom - a WTF kitsch classic that lets us know this is going to be A Bad Hour Of Star Trek and works even better because of the look on O'Brien's face.

    You know how I know that Jammer is predisposed toward disliking Discovery?

    This fucking horrendous episode of DS9 is ranked the same as several eps of Disco, and is one of the worst pieces of Trek ever made.

    Unlike the better Shore Leave, the creations of people's imaginations lead to very little. We learn almost nothing of any character and the imaginary characters teachers almost nothing about Odo or Quark or Sisko. And the stuff about Bashir just borderline harassment or juvenile stupidity.

    We do learn that the chief loves his daughter, that Cisco likes baseball, that Bashir like Dax, the Quark likes human women. Perhaps the best scene is when we learn that Odo likes to put Quark in prison. But all this is so superficial and sporadic has to be almost trite and silly.

    @Mal - That's an incredibly unfair comment and I suspect you know it. This review of a 1993 episode was written circa 1995 and must be viewed in the context of its era. It's the 11th season of Star Trek in total, rather than the 30th that DSC's debut is. It's before we all had every episode of everything ever streaming on demand via the Internet and thus a lot more training in bad sci-fi tropes. It pre-dates our current age of premium, super high budget TV. Like all good grading systems, it's relative, and two stars is fair in perspective.

    "If Wishes Were Horses" is a dreadful hour of DS9. It attempts to be entertaining by being weird, but the fundamental problem with the episode is that it's not nearly weird enough. If this is the most imaginative the DS9 writers could be, they don't have great imaginations. Again, the episode doesn't even gain the 'so-bad-it's-good' card. It's just boring.

    1 star.

    Absolutely terrible episode that makes "Shore Leave" look like a winner. The whole idea of controlling imagination just isn't good enough for the basis of an episode in the absence of some kind of B plot. The aliens (or the characters they become) are not interesting and provide for no character insights among the DS9 crew, nor are they threatening in any way. This was a total waste of an episode as it didn't accomplish anything.

    The fact that the apparitions are actually aliens is another weakness in that we find nothing out about them -- just random aliens who can read imaginations - purely arbitrary and poor writing.

    Also, there was too much time spent on arbitrary technobabble for dealing with the rift, staring at the rift -- poor pacing, disorganized overall.

    The opener for the episode was quite long, scattered and ultimately ends up with Rumpelstiltskin showing up -- disappointing right from the get-go.

    Maybe one sort of fun moment was Bashir and the real Dax working together in the presence of the apparition Dax and the talk of fantasies remaining private -- but the opportunities for comedy or some kind of real threat from the apparitions was wasted. Just nothing remotely entertaining here.

    Sisko's idea of controlling the imagination and it solving all the problems reminded me of "Specter of the Gun" but the TOS mind control solution was "more believable" since Spock helped Kirk and the others. Here we just have to believe the staff can just stop worrying about imminent destruction and act normally.

    0.5 stars for "If Wishes Were Horses" -- not quite good enough for 1 star due to the overwhelming stupidity and how meaningless the episode turns out to be. Thought maybe the apparitions, when they conferred with each other, would act to sabotage the Ops crew's efforts to deal with the rift but that was just more vague behavior. Worst episode of DS9 Season 1.

    Watching and commenting:

    Quark and Odo are good together. Great little scenes.

    I was hoping this scene between Julian and Jadzia was Julian experimenting in a holosuite, but no, he's actually saying that stuff to her. Please let Julian grow up soon. He makes Tom Paris seem like the soul of decorum and maturity.

    Uhm . . . Rumplestilskin? Oh, dear.

    Kind of fun, in its own cringy way.

    I would think the Ferenghi would be primarily attracted to their own women, not women who look so different from them.

    This is going to take some majorily crazy technobabble to explain. This lengthy part where they try to close the rift is taking all the fun out.

    Molly is so cute! That little actress is great for her age. To be able to say Rumplestilskin is quite an accomplishment at her age.

    This resolution is very Twilight Zone.

    Mildly amusing. Not a true stinker, but very mediocre.

    2 stars

    Interesting idea poorly executed

    None of the imagined characters did anything for. They were kinda lame. Could care less about baseball or Dax as the doe-eyed womanfawning over Julian or odo running after ostriches or quark’s time women

    I'm watching DS9 for the first time. I cannot understand how you can give absolute trash like "The Storyteller" 3 stars and then complain about this episode when this one actually had some funny and entertaining bits - but to each their own I guess.

    I mean, for example the moment when O'Brien goes back into his daughter's room and you just know Rumpelstilzkin will actually be in there was just hilarious I thought.

    Ray Stantz: I couldn't help it. It just popped in there.
    Peter Venkman: [sternly] What? What "just popped in there"?
    Ray Stantz: I-- I-I tried to think--
    Egon Spengler: LOOK! [They all look over one side of the roof]
    Ray Stantz: No! It can't be!
    Peter Venkman: What is it?
    Ray Stantz: It can't be!
    Peter Venkman: What did you do, Ray?!
    Winston Zeddemore: Oh, shit!
    [They all see a giant cubic white head topped with a sailor hat]
    Ray Stantz: [resigned] It's the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
    [The Ghostbusters watch the gigantic form of Mr. Stay-Puft stomping towards them]
    Peter Venkman: Well, there's something you don't see every day.
    Ray Stantz: I tried to think of the most harmless thing. Something I loved from my childhood, something that could never, ever possibly destroy us: Mr. Stay-Puft.
    Peter Venkman: Nice thinkin', Ray.

    Ptff, all you people just hate having some lighthearted fun every once in a while, cheer up. This episode was silly, and that was the point, had me laughing quite often.

    When my partner was getting into TNG originally, he *tried* going through every episode from the very beginning; one of the things that made him give up on that was the fact that he kept coming across what he'd call "horny episodes". You know -- The Naked Now, Justice, etc. Episodes that run on gratuitous sexuality and not much else.

    I'm relieved to not be experiencing the same with DS9 (we've had horny *scenes*, and Fake Jadzia in this ep threatens to take it into Horny Episode territory, but I'm yet to encounter an episode completely dominated by dubious sexiness). Regardless: as of this episode, I think I've realised what the equivalent type of episode in DS9 S1 is. I can't think of a better name than "silly episodes": episodes based around a central conceit that's nonsensical, quirky, or otherwise bizarre.

    Compare The Naked Now and Babel, for instance. Both among the earliest episodes of their respective series, both featuring the familiar plot of "some uncontrollable contagion starts infecting everyone on board". In TNG's episode, this is an excuse to get everyone super horny and establish one vitally important detail: yes, the android can fuck. In DS9's version of this plot, it's an excuse to have the regulars start delivering nonsense lines like "ankle try sound. Reset gleaming. Dinner to bug."

    As for other "silly episodes", Move Along Home speaks for itself. (Allamaraine! Count to four!) And okay, maybe I'll finally start talking about the episode I'm actually commenting on. One minute it's a normal episode and the next we've got Rumpelstiltskin on a space station. And a long-dead baseball player. And sci-fi emus. And snow. And, uh, horny Jadzia. It's quite a cocktail of strangeness they're serving up here, and its enjoyability really seems to depend on how well you take to all that, because there's not really much else on offer here.

    Fortunately, I like it well enough. Hell, I was entertained by the weird holodeck land that Lwaxana and Alexander visit in TNG's Cost of Living, so maybe I just have low standards. But for anyone who doesn't? Not really much substance here, and I see how it's not going to do much for anyone who doesn't buy in on the nonsense.


    DS9 really cranks up the heat in season 5. Nothing says sexy like women in one-pieces and men in full body spandex. ;)

    @Chrome: ahh yes. Can't REALLY be true to Gene Roddenberry's Vision(tm) till we've busted out the skintight spandex!

    Wait for "He Who is Without Sin" probably the worst "sexy" episode in Trek

    I remember this one as silly, and too immediately thought of TNG "Where No One Has Gone Before". Which - thinking back on it - begs the obvious question - why the $#%@ didn't O'Brien mention exactly that episode when he was aboard the Enterprise as "something strange like this happened on the Enterprise (you know, back at the beginning when we encountered a new spatial anomaly every month or so.)"

    Another episode they could have hooked it up to was "Allegiance" - perhaps making "Bokai" be one of the same aliens who showed up. (Or probably a different one of the same species. I assume the one/two in Allegiance learned their lesson)

    Or both - the "Allegiance" aliens could be from the what/where/when-ever from "Where No One Has Gone Before".

    This episode is wholesome and fun! Love the sexual tension and sexual energy between Bashir and Dax. Also love the "look, i don't wanna be here either man." Attitude of dancing man from Twin Peaks. Great casting and loved hearing him talk..not back-wards. Great episode.

    >I know I'm in a minority though... I thought "Move Along Home" was greatly entertaining, but no one else seems to feel that way.

    I liked "Move Along Home” too but I think “If Wishes...” was the worst DS9 episode of any season. 1/10 for such a lame premise & even lamer solution. Episode's idea was stolen from TOS which isn't necessarily a bad thing but what did it add?. The only good thing to come from this episode was that iconic baseball. Best line @15:36 Kira says "Yellow alert? Against our own imaginations".

    This episode was interesting mainly because I went to school with Michael John Anderson. He was quite the personality.

    > Or both - the "Allegiance" aliens could be from the what/where/when-ever from "Where No One Has Gone Before".

    A nice line from the aliens would have gone a long way to continuity and hand-waving away an explanation of how all of this worked. "One of your 'starships' visited us six years ago. Their 'imaginations' interacted with our reality. But they left before we could study them further." Point out O'Brien from the Enterprise. "You were there."

    Pretty blah episode. I'm not sure what made less sense: the ending or the fact that the greatest baseball player in history had the physique of a pear. Babe Ruth got away with it, but that was when smoking was good for you and no one heard of fat and cholesterol. They should have just used Babe Ruth in the first place. Of course, it would be hard to peel him out of Quark's between the booze, girls, and gambling.

    This concept really could have worked, but the execution is so bad it feels like it was done by a committee.

    There are a lot of things I liked here:
    * The baseball player following Jake off the holodeck
    * Dax's "you better ask me, Benjamin"
    * The snow on the promenade.

    There are several moments like that.

    What I don't like:

    + It's massively cheating by giving the station a threat that a starship might encounter but the immobile station shouldn't. I had to read the script very closely to understand what they were even trying to claim is occurring. It's kept quite vague on purpose I'm sure.

    * Nobody seems much bothered at all by what's occurring. Sisko especially doesn't seem to worry about Jake being followed by a hologram.

    * The lengthy dialog with the imaginary characters. And lamenting about baseball's future fictional end isn't interesting at all.

    Any many others.

    This episodes is so BAD it's good. It's a GOLD MINE of unbelievably hilarious scenes, esp if viewed out of context. Rumpelstiltskin....wth rofl. Odo yelling about "nobody use your imagination" and "harrumph....who needs imagination" or whatever he actually says. It's SO ridiculous almost like a premise of imagination land from southpark.

    This is the kind of story you’d expect to see on an ep of Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea or any other Irwin Allen sci-fi show from the 60s.

    I love Keone Young (especially as Wu in Deadwood). Wish they had given him better writing in this, as his character concept was interesting.



    The "technobabble," which, surely, is what you want in the sci-fi genre, is the only redeemable feature of this felony. Not enough to eke out even a half a star.

    Godawful, with apologies to the good lord and to awfulness everywhere.

    While I agree that this episode isn't the best, I think it is more interesting than some give it credit for.
    It almost seemed like an exploration of religion vs reason.
    Take the climax where O'Brian must sacrifice his daughter to save the station. That, combined with Sisko saying "this time, no speculation, let's deal in the facts" makes the episode seem to me to be a study of how the Star Trek Man has evolved out the man-made subconciously- originated delusions of religion, that made men do insane shit like sacrifice their kids.

    Wow. These last few episodes got really negative reviews from folks, when they were what they were - first season Trek, which is typically bad.

    That said, none of these are so incredibly bad (except for the Bashir-possessed-by-bad-guy episode), and this one is also not so bad. It's not the best Trek, but it's not bad first season Trek.

    Even when viewed with a kind eye, "If Wishes Were Horses" is pretty rough going. The scene at the beginning where Odo is trolling Quark was somewhat interesting as an early example of their complex dynamic. There was a sweet scene with Miles reading to Molly. After this, however, all is lost, and we are left on our own to decide what is worse, an unexplainable phenomenon, an impossible phenomenon, or the fact that we the viewers are told by one of the characters, that it's either this or that and none of it matters. I even suspect that a large, flightless bird (an emu, I think, but possibly a South American ostrich) might have been abused during the filming. The musical score was abysmal as well, making for an episode that feels no less than 2 and half hours long. It left me longing for TOS' "Shore Leave"....simply exhausting.

    I mostly liked this one. Not every single episode needs to be a ground-breaking masterpiece.

    One complaint: Quark has already been shown to have an attraction to Jadzia. It would have been interesting if he and Dr. Bashir both had Jadzia Fantasy Figures with them, instead of Quark being with two random human women.

    Submit a comment

    ◄ Season Index