Star Trek: Deep Space Nine


3 stars

Air date: 5/8/1995
Teleplay by Rene Echevarria
Story by Hilary J. Bader
Directed by Cliff Bole

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"It's not a synthale kind of night." — Bashir

Some good character moments and a general dose of positive feelings characterize an appropriately timed, calm, light episode in the wake of the past two heavy duty outings.

After reading some astounding history, Sisko returns from Bajor with an impulse to build an ancient vessel. History states that 800 years ago ancient Bajorans built space vessels that operated on solar sails. According to legend, they were able to make the trip all the way to Cardassia. That's quite a feat at sub-warp speeds—a seemingly impossible feat, really. O'Brien doesn't even believe the design is spaceworthy.

Sisko decides to build one of these sailing ships to prove that the design is spaceworthy and make the legendary trip to the Cardassian system. Using the original plans for the design, he builds the ship in a cargo bay in his spare time. If you're willing to believe Sisko would have enough off-duty time to accomplish such an undertaking by himself over just a few weeks—well, even if you're not—this episode will most likely work for you.

Set as the B-story is Bashir attempting to face Dr. Elizabeth Lense (Bari Hochwald) of the USS Lexington, to whom he lost by a nose in their medical academy Valedictorian race.

I like this episode because it does what the series needs to do every once in a while—forget about threats and plots for a week and just sit back and let the characters carry the show. That's exactly what "Explorers" is—a light-on-plot-and-tension outing which proves the cast knows how to conduct itself with the most basic of material.

Like in the first half of "Past Tense," this episode shows a very respectable trait in Commander Sisko—his feelings of the importance of history. He puts forth a passionate effort on a project he hopes will uncover further truths about the ancient Bajorans, who were exploring their star system while humanity was finally ready to cross the ocean.

Put Jake in the ship with his father for the trip, and "Explorers" becomes a welcome father/son story. This episode highlights some seldom-utilized, meaningful concerns shared between Sisko and his son. For example, Jake reveals that he has been offered a writing fellowship to a school on Earth, which is a terrific opportunity. But Jake also reveals that he's worried to leave his father all alone on DS9. He wants his father to date a little more often. "It's been over a year since your last date. A year, Dad," he says. As a rather amusing notion, Jake knows a freighter captain named Kasidy Yates whom he would like to set up with his father.

The scenes between Sisko and Jake work well; both Avery Brooks and Cirroc Lofton bring a genuine sense of believability to the relationship. And even when the plot presents the lone sailors with torn-up space sails and destroyed navigation devices, the plot wisely plays down all remnants of a jeopardy angle and keeps the focus on the core of the episode—the character elements.

What initially appears to be a mission failure as the sail ship unexpectedly and unexplainably accelerates to warp speed—presumably light-years off course—turns out to be a successful cruise into the Cardassian system due to technobabble convenience. In a very positive ending, the Siskos are met by Gul Dukat, who offers words of welcome and even celebrates their arrival with fireworks. The presentation of Dukat's lighter side comes across surpassingly well. Finally, finally the writers paint the Cardassians as something other than a brick wall.

The B-story, in which Bashir can't determine why Dr. Lense totally ignores his existence, is a prime example of the presentation transcending the material. Trite as this story may be, it all comes together when Bashir and O'Brien decide to get drunk. Many viewers may find it hokey, but this scene is funny. Colm Meaney particularly does a fine job of acting intoxicated. It's not every day we can see the head of the medical staff and the chief engineer barely able to stand up straight.

"Explorers" simply conveys its own self-maintained optimism to the audience and uses characters rather than plot to tell its story. The strength is that the cast knows how to perform.

Previous episode: The Die Is Cast
Next episode: Family Business

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99 comments on this review

Sat, May 2, 2009, 12:04am (UTC -5)
One thing I always enjoyed about this episode was the interaction between Lense and Bashir- especially when Lense comments at how Bashir must enjoy the ability to undertake long-term projects and watch them develop.

An underhanded comment about the ability of DS9 to entertain story arcs that would be unfeasible on a ship that was always travelling? I like to think so. And I think it highlights the main difference between DS9 and Voyager; Voyager was forced to use a lot of "Bottle Shows" because they never visited the same planet twice.
Wed, Jun 17, 2009, 11:54am (UTC -5)
Nice youtube recap of this episode:
Tue, Sep 15, 2009, 2:10am (UTC -5)
One thing I don't get about this one - Sisko kept talking about going from DS9 to the Denorios belt in the ship. Isn't DS9 *in* the Denorios belt? If they started at DS9, shouldn't they already be at their stated destination?
Tue, Sep 22, 2009, 2:35pm (UTC -5)
A fun episode but with two huge flaws:

1. Sisko making a starship, albeit a primitive one, single-handed in less then three weeks of his spare time from running the station. It can't have been longer because it was finished when the Lexington arrived.

2. If it's so easy to make a replica ship, why hadn't any Bejoran explorers ever tried it in the 800 years since the original voyage? After all, the original trip to Cardassia is a major part of their folklore. If they had tried, they would surely also have found the unexpected tachion wind that propelled Sisko's ship to success.
Mon, Apr 12, 2010, 9:34pm (UTC -5)
@Chris, at the beginning of the episode, Sisko just came back from a library opening with the greatest collection of ancient Bejoran stuff. So, they didn't know about it.
Fri, May 14, 2010, 11:28am (UTC -5)
Wow, that gotee does wonders for Sisko's character. Starting with this episode, he has a charisma and an emotional range that had previously only been hinted at. They finally let Avery Brooks spill out into Sisko.
Fri, Feb 4, 2011, 5:37pm (UTC -5)
A better song for Bashir would have been world in motion, or you'll never walk alone
Sat, Jun 18, 2011, 9:31am (UTC -5)
Two comments to make on this. Firstly I agree with jammer, it was a wonderful character episode. My favourite scene is the O'Brien-Bashir drinking scene. Totally agree that Colm Meaneys performance in this is pitch perfect. It really is a milestone episode in the development of their friendship and it was beautifully done.

Second comment I would make is this. The ship is a primitive sublight vessel, constructed long before warp drive was discovered. So how can they possibly achieve lightspeed and survive? If the craft moves that fast, father and son would be killed instantly. The only evidence left would be stains on the back wall.

But regardless of that, I really enjoyed this episode. It may have been lightweight in terms of plot, but the acting and the character scenes were fantastic. The scene between O'Brien and Bashir alone merits and extra half star, making this a 3.5 star for me :)
Thu, Jul 7, 2011, 1:22pm (UTC -5)
I'm at a loss for words on this one. Sometimes I wonder if someone is playing a trick on me. The acting? Really? If the acting on the parts of Brooks OR Lofton were anything better than amateur, I might be able to stomach the nonsensical and hokey plot. I agree that the story is well-timed given the series arc in terms of weight and focus, but the execution is dismal. How can any of you empathise with these characters given their horrendous portrayals? I've said it before and I'll say it again--the scene with O'Brien and Bashir everyone is gushing over has no business on Star Trek and is precisely that thing which I believe made DS9 attractive to so many--namely that it wasn't really Star Trek. The appeal is absolutely pedestrian and a waste of an hour. 1.5 stars from me.
Captain Tripps
Sat, Sep 17, 2011, 6:21pm (UTC -5)
I don't know what to tell you Elliott, other than commenting that calling Avery Brooks "amateur" is a bit, well, amateurish.
Fri, Oct 21, 2011, 5:39pm (UTC -5)
Considering the apparent weight of it, it's odd that no mention is made of Bashir's recent Carrington nomination...unless I missed it...
Sat, Nov 19, 2011, 4:49am (UTC -5)
"I don't know what to tell you Elliott, other than commenting that calling Avery Brooks "amateur" is a bit, well, amateurish."

Don't pay any attention to Elliott :)
He just repeats one and the same ad nauseam.

I mean, he has a right to his opinion just like everyone else, but man, WHEREVER I look, be it DS9 or TNG or VOY reviews, there he is, telling everyone how disastrously awful DS9 is. Jeez.
Sun, Nov 20, 2011, 2:23am (UTC -5)
@Paul : that might give you an inkling about how I feel when WHEREVER I look, be it DS9 or TNG or VOY reviews, there I see people throwing angry detritus voyager's way and licking DS9's well...I'll keep my comment PG.

The acting from most of DS9's principle cast was in line with the average 90s family sitcom, which is to say, not very good. It did have a stellar supporting cast, I won't deny. Brooks and Lofton however are among the weakest actors we repeatedly had to see week to week.

I don't think DS9 was disastrously awful. In fact, I think I see it the way many on this site seem to see Voyager; that is, a show with a lot of unrealised potential and unfortunate tendencies to do stupid things. For example, let's take a ludicrous plot and couple it with a fruitless and unenlightening bit of character study portrayed by weak actors. In a word : dumb.
Fri, Feb 24, 2012, 3:49pm (UTC -5)
Hard to believe that a valedictorian would think an Andorian would have a name like Julian Bashir.
Tue, Apr 24, 2012, 12:38pm (UTC -5)
@Elliott, I think the reason you were at a loss for words initially is because you hadn't yet come up with an excuse to dislike this episode. You couldn't really fault "Explorers" as a story, so you reduce it to being "nonsensical" and "hokey" without explaining why, and at the same time you trot out the classic lame objection, "oh, the acting sucked." Please. Not everyone is up to Patrick Stewart's standards, so knock it off.

And how did you come up with the baffling idea that the O'Brien/Bashir drunk scene has no business being in Star Trek? Why?? Because a paddy and a paki become buddies? Because they get drunk together?

Or is it because of the SONG? That must be it. They sang "Jerusalem" and the idea of two 24th century dudes drunkenly belting out a British Empire hymn that arrogantly ponders the possibility that Jesus' feet once walked upon England's green and pleasant land just doesn't sit well with you, does it? If I'm right then your true belief here must be that irony has no place in Star Trek.
Tue, Apr 24, 2012, 12:48pm (UTC -5)
@Justin :

The plot is ridiculous. Please don't tell me sailboats in space is anything but. It's a contrived idea to give Jake and Sisko their father/son dialogue which I totally support on principle. Really. The plot is dumb and pointless, but let's get some character work out of it. But if you're going to do 2 characters in a small space doing gritty character work, you'd better have actors that can rise to the challenge, which is why I make a point of it here. When Garret Wang acts badly it's usually not in a situation where it matters very much. Here it does.

Regarding the brits, my objection is that 2 Starfleet humans from the 24th century solve their problems by getting drunk together. That's how I solve my problems, not how Star Trek characters ought to.
Tue, Apr 24, 2012, 3:24pm (UTC -5)
@ Elliott, now you're just making crap arguments. How is the concept of sailboats in space any more ridiculous than cloaked starships or transporter rooms? This is the universe in which we've chosen to suspend our disbelief. Quibbling about contrivances may work when nitpicking the execution of some episodes, but not here. The cloaked starship was a plot contrivance to make the original Romulans more menacing and it added to the mythology of the Trek Universe. The lightship was a plot contrivance to get Sisko & Jake into an intimate and lighthearted father and son situation and it also added to the mythology of the Trek Universe (and Bajoran history in particular).

Re acting: When Garret Wang acts badly it's not much different than when Marina Sirtis, or LeVar Burton, or Avery Brooks, or even the great Patrick Stewart act badly. It detracts. So does bad writing. But none of that matters, because neither apply here. Brooks' and Lofton's respective performances were by no means "bad" in this episode. And if you're going to continue to argue that they were then you're going to have to cite specific examples.

And there wasn't anything gritty about the character work in this episode. It was lighthearted and fun, which is less of an acting challenge than gritty. So, if you're seeing "Explorers" through a gritty prism it's no wonder you think the acting was no good, because you missed the point entirely.

BTW, Brooks and Lofton have done gritty too, and they've both risen to the challenge (see "The Visitor," "Far Beyond The Stars," and "Rapture").

Re O'Brien and Bashir: I don't know about you, but I've never broken down any personal barriers by drunkenly bonding with someone. Bashir and O'Brien were pretty much buds by this point and the drunkenness was done for comedic effect. Now, if O'Brien was using alcohol as a means to cope with his marital problems, then you'd have a point.
Tue, Apr 24, 2012, 3:29pm (UTC -5)
@Elliott, one more thing. I found this over at the Memory Alpha website:

At its 1995 convention, the Space Frontier Foundation recognized ("Explorers") for exemplifying "the most imaginative use of a vehicle to travel in space," and awarded the episode the "Best Vision of the Future" award. The award was presented by Robert Staehle, the world's foremost expert on solar sails.

More information relating to the actual plausibility of the Bajoran lightship can be found at:
Sun, Jul 22, 2012, 11:58pm (UTC -5)
I see I am not the only one who finds elliot to be the most annoying character in Trek.
He/she/it/them/ our version of Wesley.
Best ignored or forgotten...
Did anyone else pick up the little in joke between Sisko and Jake? the "Hammock time," "yo," bit?
It is things like that that prove the show is not taking itself too seriously...
Also, "Cygnian respitory diseases," is a tribute to a line from TOS. They also did that alot as well...
Mon, Jul 23, 2012, 12:30am (UTC -5)
"The plot is ridiculous. Please don't tell me sailboats in space is anything but."

"How is the concept of sailboats in space any more ridiculous than cloaked starships or transporter rooms?"

In fact it's much less ridiculous. The concept has been around for a long time, and has real science behind it. Read if this is all new to you. Only the FTL part is really on the fiction-level of those other Trek concepts.
Cail Corishev
Sat, Sep 15, 2012, 7:12pm (UTC -5)
The only problem with the ship was that a solar sail capable of carrying a couple of people and their capsule fast enough to be useful would need to have a sail miles across, not some bird-like wings. But hey, just figure it's catching some "sigma radiation" or something that we haven't discovered yet that pushes a lot harder than light.

Going faster-than-light with it is ridiculous, but as far as we know, so are all FTL methods on all sci-fi shows. If it backs up a father-son story as good as this one, I'm not going to complain.
Latex Zebra
Mon, Nov 12, 2012, 9:07am (UTC -5)
Elliot has proved that it is not just Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings that contain trolls.
Thu, Nov 29, 2012, 6:28am (UTC -5)
@Jack - Hard to believe that a valedictorian would think an Andorian would have a name like Julian Bashir.

While true up front, there's a Russian Lieutenant named Worf...
Mon, Jan 14, 2013, 2:17pm (UTC -5)
I liked the design of the ship but did the ancient Bajorans have space stations? If not, how did the ship break the bonds of Bajor's gravity? How didn't it burn up in reentry? I wish they'd addressed these questions at least in a passing way.
Mon, Feb 11, 2013, 5:59pm (UTC -5)
The "ancient Bajorans" terminology is misleading. Relative to the whole of their history (half a million years!!), the lightship-to-Cardassia was very recent. They had certainly had some kind of (orbital?) flight for many years already because they had recovered the Orbs.
Fri, Jun 7, 2013, 7:20pm (UTC -5)
I loved this episode. It has heaps of heart, good pace, good jokes, good acting, some nice visuals and some wonderful character moments. I wish Jammer liked Heart of Stone too, that was another low key, underrated episode.
Sat, Jul 6, 2013, 5:56pm (UTC -5)
A nice change of place... interesting sci-fi ideas... good to see the Cardassians eating their hats at the end.
Fri, Jul 19, 2013, 5:21am (UTC -5)
I loved every second of this episode. It's one of the shows from the first three seasons that stayed with me long after the series ended its initial run, after I rewatched it again years later, and I find now that I'm rewatching it again after another long interval, that it is one of the best episodes of Star Trek, period. That is, thanks to its honest, completely relatable depiction of close friendships (Miles and Julian) and family relationships (Sisko and his son). I believed every word of it for its entire duration. That's rare among Star Trek episodes. And all with not one single phaser or photon torpedo fired... Cardassian fireworks notwithstanding. ;) 4 stars.
Wed, Aug 21, 2013, 6:58pm (UTC -5)
I like this episode. The solar sail idea is more plausible than them (and the whole ship) not being crushed from the force of acceleration to warp and back to normal space (why the ships have inertial dampers). Oh well, all the character interactions are great. As far as the science problems, they're no where near as annoying as out of phase episodes where people can still breathe (the air should be out of phase) and don't fall through the floors (I love the part in another sci-fi series where they mock that).
Wed, Oct 23, 2013, 9:01am (UTC -5)
A watchable episode of no real consequence.

Mon, Dec 9, 2013, 5:00am (UTC -5)
"I'm going to build a Bajoran ship and sail it to Cardassia. What can I do to make this idea even more brilliant? Oh I know! I'll bring my son!" I need to watch this episode again (with reluctance, I'd rather be watching the more intense episodes), but it seems like such a silly idea. I mainly know DS9 from the later seasons so it seems weird for a Starfleet officer to fly a Bajoran ship right into the solar system of Bajor's deadliest enemy. But I guess these things will make more sense in the 24th century.
Sat, Feb 1, 2014, 1:02pm (UTC -5)
There's suspension of disbelief and then there's ludicrous plot.

- how can a ship made by a civilisation ready to launch something into space be so easy to make it's made in one week by a single man?

- how is a starfleet bridge officer able to construct so many things by himself as if nothing needed specialist knowledge? As if he was totally aware of 800 years old bajoran technique?

- how is this frail boat-ish design supposed to have taken off the planet?

- can i PLEASE know how a people who have to build mechanic handles to spread sails (so apparently no computers at all!) worked out anti-gravity?

- since when does Sisko have so much time on his hands?? (A trip to bajor, then building a ship, then going off in space...)

- sure the ship wasn't tested or anything before leaving. Also they can be saved in under an hour which is really a-ok since humans can survive for hours in the vacuum of space in case something goes wrong! Also, you totally take your only son along!

Why does DS9 insist on these completelly iseless filler episodes?? It's either GREAT or PATHETIC (TNG and Voyager are at least constant in their averageness...)
Sun, Feb 2, 2014, 1:19pm (UTC -5)
Again, there is no reason to think that sailships themselves *ever* launched from or landed on planetary surfaces. We know that Bajorans had some kind of space travel before the original sailships.
Sat, Feb 22, 2014, 4:19am (UTC -5)
A note to some earlier seems plausible to me that ancient Bajorans were able to build this type of vessel. I see no reason to believe otherwise.

1. It's been noted that Bajorans had ability to leave the planet and explore their system

2. If anything they could have built the ship on Bajor and attached it to another ship/rocket that can break orbit

3. They could have simply built the ship in space

I do have an issue with no explanation on how it was able to achieve warp speed without affecting everyone inside. It was explained HOW it was achieved just not much beyond that. It could've added more "dreaded" technobabble but it seems important technobabble.

The above comment about the drunk scene having no place in Star Trek is wildly misguided. It's very well known in Trek that not only is alcohol socially acceptable, but the Federation has even come up with an alternative for it called Synthale. Where the 'on-call' duty officer can enjoy the intoxication but shake off the effects at the chirp of a com-badge. Bashir an O'Brien getting drunk on real alcohol just shows to me two people having a moment together that furthers their bonding. It wasn't about 'solving problems'.

Speaking of the B-story in this ep, I did find it a little out of place that Bashir would be so upset about Dr. Lense showing up in the first place. I felt his dismay at his being 2nd in class to her was a bit out of character. Especially knowing before and after this episode that he purposely missed a question in the exams for one reason or another. Everything after Lense walking right past him in Quarks was great fodder for light-hearted material though despite being based as it is on a shaky premise.

The A-story is a lightweight father/son outing that contains well written dialogue with believable characters and taps into the romanticism of space-travel that, frankly, really hasn't been the hallmark of many episodes of any Trek series. Also, the end of the episode was rather poignant and one of my favorite moments of DS9.

3.5 stars.
Sun, Mar 9, 2014, 1:19pm (UTC -5)
For me this episode works better in rerun than when it aired first. When I saw it the first time, I had a WTF-moment at the end. The previous episodes, actually the whole season to date, was so action- and plot heavy that I somehow expected a bigger bang at the end of this episode. It's not that I didn't enjoy the episode, but while watching I was always anticipating something big coming up, like the solar ship getting into real trouble with life support being offline, or a space battle or something similar. Instead I saw a technical crisis that wasn't really one and Gul Dukat congratulating the Siskos for having won a bet against Cardassian pride. And that was it. I guess this was just a question of false expectations on my end. When I watched the episodes again some years later, I was able to actually enjoy the show for what it was, a quiet piece of character study.
Wed, Jun 25, 2014, 3:58am (UTC -5)
Did anyone else find the fireworks display at the end kinda dumb? It was a little too nice of the cardassians. I'm sure someone was being executed for allowing Sisko to prove the bajorans got there first

It was an ok episode. I'm just not big on Sisko Jake episodes. I didn't really think the Visitor was that good either and apparently DS9 fans think it's worth all the latinum on ferenginar.
Tue, Aug 5, 2014, 8:52am (UTC -5)
One of my favorites.

There is all kinds of "WTF’s" with this vessel, the first would be how did they get it off DS9. :-)

But so far as Sisko constructing it, I'm thinking replicator technology covers that. He doesn't need a foundry or anything like that he’s just assembling parts replicated to fit together for the most part.

This is a father/son episode - the best part of which is when Jake decides to join his father on this little project. Great father/son discussions on the voyage. As a father of 5, 4 that are older, I can empathize with Sisko so this episode kind of hit home for me.

The whole Bashir "B" story I always thought was kind of silly. Why is coming in second such a big deal when he missed that question on purpose? Was this whole thing just a charade to further the deception?

The best part of this one that wasn’t the main story was “cough, cough” :-)

I wonder how a sextant works without a horizon for reference. I guess you can hold it horizontally, but what’s “horizontally” in space?

The first time we see Sisko with the goatee and a shaved head.

3.5 stars for me. Some episodes just hit home with ya and this is one of them for me.
Tue, Aug 5, 2014, 12:50pm (UTC -5)
"The first time we see Sisko with the goatee and a shaved head."

Well, the *first* time would've been on Spencer for Hire, or maybe A Man Called Hawk.☺

My point is, though the goatee debuts here, his head is yet unshorn. A rare combo in this era of the show.
Tue, Aug 5, 2014, 4:15pm (UTC -5)
Thanks Grumpy! You're right! :-)

(I had to look up 'unshorn') lol
sexy riker
Sat, Aug 30, 2014, 6:57pm (UTC -5)
this episode was an insult to star trek. they build a wooden spaceship, so how does it get into space ffs?

worst episode EVER!
Thu, Sep 18, 2014, 7:46pm (UTC -5)
Why does Jake change his mind about going on the trip? I thought he had a date. It seemed to be implied that he broke up with his girlfriend, but then it was swept under the rug.
Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 9:31am (UTC -5)
Ummm... it wasn't wooden? BTW, 100% agreement with Quarky about the Cardassian fireworks and someone being executed for this incident; it seemed WAY too nice, like completely 100% out of character for the Cardassians.
Tue, Oct 21, 2014, 9:49pm (UTC -5)
I loved the father/son plot, and I loved Gul Dukat's grudging yet gracious congratulations and display of fireworks. One of the things I value about this show is Sisko and Jake's relationship. Aside from a few comedies (e.g., the Cosby Show), how often do we see strong, positive relationships between African American fathers and sons in the media?
Thu, Feb 19, 2015, 4:18pm (UTC -5)
Why all of this quibbling about the lightship idea not being plausible, Star Trek is not plausible either. Its a TV show, all spacey things work. Starship aren't real, warp speed is impossible, transporter or fantasy. This is an interesting show and all things work. I think its funny when you try to base harsh opinions on Sci-fi. It makes for good television.

The only thing I find ridiculous is when people try to make assumptions on what Gene would have felt, Who cares, he beieved in making money, btw he's dead.
Sun, Apr 12, 2015, 7:00am (UTC -5)
I have one other comment since I am watching DS9 again but, from the beginning, not skipping around like I did last year: I know we have our opinions and should voice them, but why does everyone think Patrick is so great. For the first 3 seasons, I had a hard time watching his wooden performance. He was so bland he could have been a Vulcan. I thought he would get the show cancelled, along with the horribe stories each week. He eventually convince me he could perform better as time went by. He finally got his footing.
Sun, Jun 21, 2015, 11:27pm (UTC -5)
Did Bajorans even have rocket technology to put in space a mechanically operated sail ship that apparently uses 18th-century style nautical navigation instruments?
Nathan B.
Fri, Jul 31, 2015, 9:51am (UTC -5)
Fantastic episode in every way--a worthy successor to TNG's "Family."
Tue, Aug 18, 2015, 4:24pm (UTC -5)
"Did anyone else find the fireworks display at the end kinda dumb? It was a little too nice of the cardassians. I'm sure someone was being executed for allowing Sisko to prove the bajorans got there first"

If this had happened earlier in the series I would have agreed. But think about what just happened last episode! Cardassians launched a preemptive strike on the Dominion. Granted, it wasn't the main government that launched those attacks (just the spy agency), but the Cardassians have to be very fearful that a Dominion attack fleet can come through the wormhole at any time looking for retribution. Right now their diplomats must be anxiously trying to get on the best of terms with all of their neighbors (including the Federation-allied Bajorans). They would certainly be looking to form an alliance with one or more of the big powers if the Dominion ever comes. At the very least, they must try to keep any of the other powers from taking advantage of a Dominion situation and trying to grab some Cardassian territory of their own.

Fireworks is a cheap way to try and improve diplomatic relations. The Cardassians have to be willing to try just about anything right now.
William B
Wed, Sep 23, 2015, 4:24pm (UTC -5)
Plausibility time: the solar sails concept is not necessarily that dumb by itself; taking advantage of the momentum transfer from light as a means of propulsion is fine as far as that goes. I hasten to note that the surface area to mass ratio would have to be pretty big, probably bigger than is depicted, but I'll spare the calculations and accept that part on principle. Seriously though, a guy can build a space ship in a few weeks by himself, using "ancient Bajoran" instruments? The episode further introduces unnecessary implausibility by throwing that whole visit-to-Cardassia thing in the story. So Cardassia is only five days away. Good! Of course, uh...I guess those tachyon streams take the ship back too, huh? I mean, if at least one Bajoran solar sailing ship crashed on Cardassia, then for word to get back means that at least two must have gone to Cardassia (or one ship doing so twice) and at lest one ship getting back to Bajor to tell of the tales. Also, at no point does anyone mention how the ancient Bajorans got their solar vessel into space, even to say "they used rockets for that part." The whole idea that Bajorans got whisked to Cardassia has its analogues to modern who-got-where-first arguments on Earth, but the vastness of space makes these kinds of arguments pretty hard to take -- would the tachyon field really lead straight to the Cardassian system, of all systems, if it is a random process (rather than a constructed device like a warp drive or the wormhole), and seems mostly there to have Dukat eat crow a bit at the end -- which is fine as far as that goes, but also leads to the weird notion that Dukat really would take the time to discourage Ben from going on this trip because Cardassian ego is too fragile to deal with solar sails. I guess the idea is that the Cardassian national pride is pretty damaged because of their crippling defeat just last week, which also happens to make the audience rooting for Sisko to prove those dumb Cardassian naysayers wrong a little weird. As with much of DS9, it is also a bit odd that Sisko does most of the advocating for Bajor, and that there is only one regular Bajoran character of much note and few Bajoran guest characters (though Leeta is introduced in this one, so that's one more).

I do think that Ben's interest in the solar ship is meant to remind us of Ben's further commitment to Bajor, and it's certainly nice to see his interest in Bajor depicted through hobbies and interests rather than through Jake telling us ala "The Search, Part 1." Still, it is weird how obsessive Ben gets very suddenly. It does hearken back to "Dramatis Personae" and "IT'S A CLOCK!", though it seems as if Sisko spent less time working on that weird clock while under alien possession/influence than he did in this episode on this ship. I mean, I get why it is good for the viewers to have a light episode after the IC/TDIC two-parter, but is it really good for the guy in charge of the space station near the wormhole to spend weeks on his own crafts project and then five days doing a sublight proof-of-concept flight when the Romulans and Cardassians just sent an entire fleet right by him, provoked the Dominion with a massive attack and had themselves roundly slaughtered as a consequence? Wouldn't the fall of the Obsidian Order make this a great time for the Maquis to start making trouble in the DMZ, which sometimes seems to be Sisko's responsibility? Does Sisko even do his job during this time? I feel a bit churlish pointing all this out, but the relaxed pace feels at odds with what just happened and with the way Sisko's responsibilities are so often portrayed.

I know, I know; that is not what this episode is about. It is really about the Siskos hanging out. Initially, Jake does not want to go with Ben because he wants to see a girl. Then he gets word from the Pennington school that he's gotten a fellowship, and he jumps for joy and decides to go with Sisko on the which point he eventually reveals that he is *not* planning to go. It's a weird series of events, because it seemed as if Jake's going on the trip with Ben would be specifically *because* he was leaving and wanted to spend time with his father before leaving; if he was going to stay, then why would his approval for the fellowship change his plans? Or did he decide while he was on the ship that he should stay with Ben? OK, let's forget that. The dialogue between the Siskos is generally amiable and leads to a few interesting insights -- I like the notion of Sisko beaming for dinner every day -- and furthers Jake's writerly plot as well as sets up for Kasidy (next week!). I don't know what to say about the acting; I have a hard time even knowing how to evaluate Brooks because his performances are so out there, in a way that I suspect would be great on stage and occasionally hits the mark on the show but much of the time just comes across as odd. Still, the scenes seem heartfelt, even if they largely add up to "we care about each other, but we're not planning on anything significant changing in our lives." It would be nice if more serious topics were broached than what we see on screen, though; the threat of Dominion attack and what that means for Jake, what Nog's departure will do to Jake and whether he'll be lonely, Sisko maybe mentioning that he saw Jake's mirror-mother, etc. A bit of a missed opportunity.

The Bashir plot is also amiable and I have little to say about it. Bashir and O'Brien getting this drunk, though, does make Bashir look more insecure than I would expect even from him -- I mean, when Scotty got drunk in "Relics," it was because his entire world had been upended and he awoke in a future that he felt ill at ease in, rather than because he was snubbed by a classmate he barely even knew. I also found myself wishing that the story would point out the other problem -- Bashir should surely not get *this* drunk on actual alcohol in case there is a medical emergency; it could have been pretty funny, though, if a medical emergency had happened and Bashir was too drunk to operate, so that Dr. Lense of the Lexington, first in her class at Starfleet Medical, would have to sub in for him. I like O'Brien's comments that Bashir is not really an "in between" kind of guy, that he used to hate him and now he doesn't. The progression of Bashir/O'Brien has been fairly well-handled, even if I'm not particularly a fan of "The Storyteller" or "Rivals."

Anyway, it is fine as far as it goes, though it does not go very far. 2.5 stars.
Wed, Sep 30, 2015, 9:07pm (UTC -5)
My problem with this is that it was too-obviously an analogy for a fad at the time, the 'Kon-Tiki' notion that Polynesia was first discovered by Chilean sailors.
Sat, Oct 17, 2015, 5:46pm (UTC -5)
For all the talk about solar sails etc, the thing that I wondered at the end was mostly how the 'ancient Bajorans' even knew their ships made it to Cardassia. If a ship in the Doritos belt did disappear and never came back they'd probably just assume it was destroyed by whatever. Unless there are other warp booster pockets next to Cardassia, it would be a one way trip. It would be like a Carthaginian ship getting wrecking the Americas, who knows, maybe it happened but they never got home to write about it. Maybe they had FTL radios or whatever and called home but the episode never mentions it.

Otherwise a passable filler episode, not a classic but not unwatchable. I didn't find the technical impossibilities more implausible than what happenes everytime somebody is beamed into ops, but the fact that on its own terms the episode never explained how the Bajorans knew hurt it a bit.
Diamond Dave
Thu, Dec 3, 2015, 2:12pm (UTC -5)
Just a nice, quiet episode. Nothing really dramatic happens, and nothing really of any great consequence. But it's fun to see Sisko enthuse about something, the character moments with Jake are nicely handled, we get a montage sequence AND we get a Cardassian fireworks display to finish. What's not to like?

The B-story also nicely subverts what could be a fairly hokey premise. "Hammock time" indeed. 3 stars.
Wed, Jan 13, 2016, 9:26am (UTC -5)
Elliot is an idiot. Fact.
Mon, Mar 21, 2016, 12:35am (UTC -5)
I'm fairly surprised I liked this episode as much as I did. I remembered "Explorers" as being a fairly standard, run-of-the-mill average outing. Instead, it's really good!

First off, for such a low-key, laid-back kind of episode, the amount of world-building is literally off the charts. In this one episode we have the introduction of Leeta, the introduction of Jake as a writer, Sisko's beard and the first reference to Kassidy Yates (who, I believe, will make her first appearance in the next episode). That's actually quite a lot to bring to the table in such a light-hearted offering. And, just as an aside, I think Sisko looks his best like this - with hair and a goatee.

The A-plot works wonderfully as a father/son story and as a nice little example of true Star Trek exploration. For all those people who say that DS9 isn't really true Star Trek because it doesn't feature exploration, I can only say "watch this episode." Sisko just up and decides to build a ship and set off into the unknown. Why? Because screw it; it'll be fun! I really like that! Isn't that the true spirit of Human exploration? Most of our discoveries (scientific and otherwise) have come about in such a way - not from some highly organized, meticulously planned and controlled, government sponsored program (like Starfleet). No, it comes from one guy just doing something for shits and giggles because he enjoys it. Bravo, well done.

I like the B-plot even better, however. I think it's fair to say that this is where the O'Brien/Bashir friendship really comes into sharp focus. They haven't been at loggerheads like they initially were but they haven't exactly been best buddies yet. Having them get drunk and sing "Jerusalem" (not to mention having O'Brien admit his not-hate for Bashir) shows that they are, in fact, well on their way to becoming heterosexual life partners. Not only that, but it might be the single most "human" thing I've seen any character ever do on Star Trek. It just rang so true to life. And it's funny, genuinely funny! In fact, the whole B-plot is a welcome humorous little romp - if only Ferengi "comedy" episodes could be this good!

There are sadly problems, however. This episode features one of the primer examples of why I simply do not like Dax. When Bashir first meets Leeta what is Dax's response. To cock-block him. And make no mistake, that's exactly what she was doing. For a woman who spent so much time and effort to dissuade Bashir's interest in her, she sure seems happy to keep him away from other women, doesn't she? It all plays into how I think she was just playing extra-ordinarily hard-to-get with Bashir at first. Or maybe she's just a bitch who enjoys raining on other people's parades. Either one is likely. Second, how exactly does going to warp for something like ten seconds send Sisko and Jake all the way to Cardassia? Is there a second Wormhole in the area or something? And shouldn't Sisko and Jake be little more than puddles of goo on the back wall of the ship after being thrown into warp without inertial dampers?

Mon, Mar 21, 2016, 11:04am (UTC -5)
I really liked how the Cardassians threw the fireworks party at the end. Pretty class act, all things considered.
Thu, May 26, 2016, 12:14pm (UTC -5)
The Beard! The Sisko has arrived!

I believe this episode is the real turning point of DS9 as it finally comes into its own -- symbolized beautifully in Commander Sisko's growing of The Beard! Once he shaves his head, the transformation will have been complete, haha. In my opinion, this is the true birth of *The Sisko.* He has accepted Bajor into his life and resonated with it, ensuring the eventual fulfillment of his role as the Emissary of the Prophets, seems calm and filled with joy, and literally sets sail with his son onto the adventures ahead. (It's also the time when Kassidy Yates is first introduced, who remains integral to the end of the series' run. Also Leeta, one of my favorite minor characters.)

I absolutely love this episode. I liked it as a kid, and even more now (particularly the romantic and fascinating quality of the light ship). I thought Ben and Jake's civilian clothes looked a little too Cosby Show, but maybe that was part of the point, especially with the above-mentioned "hammer time" joke they threw in at the hammock, which I thought was great. Further comparing DS9 to the contemporary Cosby Show, Sisko is the first leading captain on Star Trek who is black, and expertly fills the role as just another awesome Starfleet officer -- that is to say, the actor being African-American has almost no effect on his role in the series (except for the brilliant "Far Beyond the Stars"). Similarly, Cosby's Heathcliff Huxtable and his family were a joy to watch because they were simply relatable *people*, and served as great role models for everyone who saw the show, white or black or any other race. I am white, and grew up enjoying reruns of The Cosby Show and DS9 long before I had any sense of what racial tensions could be like, and looked up to Heathcliff and Theo as well as Ben and Jake, finding relatable similarities with my own father. I'm sure one day I'll resonate with these stories again with my own children.

And *that's* the power of the futurism of Star Trek! to optimistically depict our own reality free of its prejudices, and to show exceptionally talented yet still flawed and human people working together to explore the unknown.

@Luke, I also enjoyed O'Brien saying he didn't hate Bashir anymore, and Bashir being so touched. It reminded my of "Friendship Test" by Tenacious D.
I like your analysis of Dax, but this was a plus for me. She can have flaws like that, and it's a very human trait. I loved the writing of "GO AWAY" on the PADD in the Starfleet font.
As for the lack of inertial dampers, that's actually not how warp drive is supposed to work. The most important thing a subspace field does is lower the mass of a ship, to the point of it having negative mass (just like the hypothetical tachyons that are cited as the mechanism for the FTL in "Explorers"). So when a ship, even the light ship, goes to warp, its forward velocity has already been achieved; the subspace field just amplifies that velocity to faster than light. One mistake the effects department made was to put streaking lights around the light ship while it was in warp -- those are not in fact stars, but micrometeoroids and other particles energized by the field produced by the main deflector dish (which, if not deflected, might impact the starship and damage it) -- and the light ship does not have one of those.
Inertial damper are especially useful for unexpected jolts or bumps while in motion, like during an attack, and even then have a delay of reaction time.
Fri, Aug 5, 2016, 10:17pm (UTC -5)
Hey, Jake-! Press pause! Lov Lov the relationship btw father and son! Single dad holding it down with is son! Lov it! Avery slays it everytime when in a scene with Cirrioc! Now let me press play so I can get back to sexy Avery with the new goatee! Lov ds9!
Wed, Oct 12, 2016, 7:03pm (UTC -5)
Howdy Everyone!

I always liked this episode, and I still do. Someone mentioned years ago about their gravity, and it was stated by Sisko that it was an exact replica, except for a gravity web ( or net) on the floor (because weightlessness made him nauseous). Perhaps it had a mild inertial dampener effect as well.

I too wondered how the ancient Bajorans got this craft into space, then I thought about it for a bit longer. This was somewhat LOST technology (for want of a better term) that was buried in some lost library, or some such thing. Perhaps the information on how it got into orbit was lost to time, after a natural calamity, or even a war (even peaceful folks have disputes, and this was 800 years ago). Also, it probably didn't just APPEAR out of thin air that long ago, but was probably used after decades/centuries of trial and error. Even we almost lost the recipes for beer and for making glass. We'd have probably figured them out again, but what else have we lost to time? The ability to move 150 ton stones without 4,000 slaves and a pile of ropes? We're all pretty certain they didn't use Bajor's largest slingshot, so they must have had something... that is lost...

At least, that is how I like to think of it.

Now as for how they got back, and didn't take a Cardassian explorer with them, well..., oh, and if one landed fine (the first wouldn't be the only one, would it?), how would they get it back into space to tell folks that they made it? Eh, umm... lost to time. heh. Yeah, I know, but I was still able to suspend disbelief long enough to really enjoy it, if I didn't ponder it TOO long...

Lost to time, that's the ticket... :)

It might have been nice if they'd had this as a B or C story for a few episodes (or at least two) that had Sisko building the ship, but it was still okay anyway. I still liked it.

Have a great day Everyone... RT

P.S.: Lost to time
Tue, Dec 27, 2016, 6:45pm (UTC -5)
An absolute delight, full of warmth and humanity. 3.5. Hammock time!
Sun, Jan 1, 2017, 3:42pm (UTC -5)
A filler episode that i didn't quite like but... the ending was a good twist, which kinda redeems itself, just a little.
Tue, Apr 18, 2017, 10:22pm (UTC -5)
A light, fun show with a lot of heart. The solar-sailed ship was beautiful. This one is a keeper for me--I watch it every once in a while, and it always stands the test of time.
Tue, Jun 20, 2017, 11:21am (UTC -5)
I wonder if the Prophets helped launch the thing. I too thought the ship was a tad far fetched even for Trek.

Here's my real question: Why are so many people here irked by the Bashir/O'Brien drinking scene but just as many fawn over the Picards fighting drunk on wine scene (from STNG)? What's the diffy?

Thu, Jun 29, 2017, 8:12pm (UTC -5)
"Explorers" is a feel-good change of pace after the epic 2-parter but on it's own, it's mediocre. How could Sisko build such a space-faring vessel in such short time?. And even if he did, for it to be pretty incredible is just too much of a stretch. The whole concept of it is ridiculous -- how would the Bajorans have broken free of their planet's gravity with sails?? And what about no gravity in space? Too much bad science here.
Didn't mind watching the interaction between Jake/Sisko - I still feel Sisko is a bit stiff but they have their moments. It was a nice ending with the Cardassians welcoming them -- feel-good stuff as I say.
The B-plot didn't do much for me. So Bashir learns he got the right job and the valedictorian isn't happy with hers. Bit of mistaken identity (valedictorian thought Bashir was an Andorian and so snumbs him) and this sets up a drinking scene with O'Brien/Bashir getting jacked -- more character stuff that I think we already had established for these 2 buddies.
Anyhow, this one rates 2 stars. Jammer is too generous here -- an episode that basically has no plot and is just about the characters living their lives. Acting isn't particularly noteworthy either. Can't grade an episode positively for its effect vis-a-vis preceding episodes.
Tue, Jul 4, 2017, 3:28am (UTC -5)
If you pardon ramblings about some irrelevant years old comments, I don't want to pick on Elliot. He hasn't been here for years and in fact, I actually admire how he went against popular opinion and feel for him since it does seem like he was picked on just for disliking a TV show others liked.

BUT, I find it quite humorous to say a scene with two characters goofing off after getting drunk "has no place in Star Trek" when:

A: The same episode has a scene, where a character says "Hammer time!" and another character responds with "Yo!"

B: Over on Voyager, they just had an episode where a dude cuts of somebody's face and wears it on his own.
Wed, Dec 20, 2017, 1:55pm (UTC -5)
I love this one. It goes to the root of Star Trek, and it really deepens the relationships between Jake & his father and O'Brien & Bashir. By the way, no one said the sailing ship was made of wood. The only thing that didn't make sense to me was why they had artificial gravity, but the episode was so good that I didn't care. O'Brien and Bashir singing... amazing. "At first, I hated you... and I don't."
Sat, Feb 17, 2018, 7:30pm (UTC -5)
Yeah a pretty good episode, but the lack of Sisko and son being turned into goo on the back wall when they went to warp was always jarring to me, and the travel time between there and Cardassia was a little silly, even more so than usual for Trek.

Maybe you can say the artificial gravity they installed (hardly keeping it "original", but they wouldn't install some decent sensor equipment?) helped keep them from getting turned into chunky salsa, and fine, but how the heck did they get from where they were to Cardassia in that little span of time, even at warp? It was almost portrayed as more of a wormhole and less of a warp journey.

If it's this easy to go to warp in a solar sail ship, then might as well switch to solar sail ships and do away with the warp core and all that risky antimatter.
Sun, May 13, 2018, 4:33pm (UTC -5)
I don't think most Irishmen, when they get plastered, would passionately burst into 'Jerusalem' , given it's pretty much the de facto English national anthem.
Sean Hagins
Sun, May 13, 2018, 5:14pm (UTC -5)

A lot can change in 400 years. The Eieene-Meeine-Minee-Mo song was very racist at one point. Now people just think of it as a silly way to make a choice.

Wedding rings were a pagan symbol, but now Christians use them as it just denotes that one is married.

I find quite a few things farfetched in Star Trek, but I can swallow the song O'Brian sang
Mon, May 14, 2018, 4:47pm (UTC -5)
No,, it wasn't the most pentrating criticism I've ever made, was it?

Ok, how about this: I don't think Siddig does a very convincing drunk....
Sun, Aug 5, 2018, 3:49pm (UTC -5)
Just saw this one again, with the next generation, i.e. my daughter. One thing I found a bit tragic is that no Bajoran was involved in the congratulations and fireworks at the end, even though it celebrates their ancient achievements.
Sun, Aug 19, 2018, 12:55am (UTC -5)
"Explorers" is very low-key, and has some problems. It's not particularly gripping, and the setup is laborious. However, it's an incredibly pleasant and enjoyable hour of tv to watch. That aforementioned setup is a problem, but the payoff is wonderful, particularly the Sisko/Jake banter and the final shot of fireworks on Cardassia. The subplot is no great shakes, but it nicely showcases one of the highlights of the show, the friendship between O'Brien and Bashir.

3 stars.
Mon, Sep 3, 2018, 3:26am (UTC -5)
when this came out I was pretty young I remember the episode being interesting. Watching it now it might be one of my favorites of DS9.

Reading the comments, i don't have the same problems that a lot of the other commentators have. I assume that light ship tech was pretty normal for the bajorans who traveled around their star-system. Then they developed a way to harness tachyons. Star Trek usually uses a lot of jargon that doesn't mean anything to explain a process; in this episode, they just accept that something has happened with tachyons. Obviously, some sort of rocket was used to lift the ship, light-sales to get to the tachyons, and then the expertise of a long-running society in how to harness tachyons. How did they get back? there was nothing to imply that tachyons only go one way in that local group of stars; they probably could sail away from Cardassia, and pick up another tachyon boost.

Idk seems fine.
Thu, Oct 18, 2018, 2:14pm (UTC -5)
Teaser : ***, 5%

Bashir is putzing away at Quark's when the Bajoran version of Jessica Rabbit introduces herself by cupping her breast, pouting her lips and pretending to I watching a fan film? Bashir orders her a drink, because obviously he needs to get her liquored up, even though I'm pretty sure she's ready to fellate him right under the bar. Jadzia decides that only she is allowed to sleep around with random DS9 extras and so interrupts this foreplay to inform Julian that the Lexington will arrive in three weeks. She is unsurprised to find Julian leave his conquest behind in order to ask after the Lexington's CMO, who was the person who topped him in his class, recalling that little thread from “Q-Less” and “Distant Voices.”

Sisko excitedly enters his quarters to show off his new goatee to Jake, something he acquired on Bajor. Sisko has collected several manuscripts from ancient Bajor—must be nice to be the Emissary. There is a theory that 800 years ago, the Bajorans travelled in solar-sail ships, making it as far as Cardassia. Okay. Well, it was well-established that the Bajoran culture was once very advanced. It was established all the way back in “Ensign Ro.” What hasn't been explained is what slowed them down before the Occupation. Hmm...I wonder if Bajor had a dark age, when religious paranoia squashed out understanding, reason, science and skepticism? Well, apparently, Admiral Goldshirt has decided to give Sisko unlimited vacation time instead of court-martialling him, because Sisko proclaims, whilst wistfully staring off at the stars, that he intends to build one of these magic ships.

Act 1 : **.5, 17%

Okay, time for things to get stupid. These Bajoran ships are made of...wood. Yes. Wooden craft which can maintain a pressurised atmosphere in space. Ah, but the wood is coming from Bajor, whose trees can exist outside of linear time or something, right? You see, not only is Sisko going to build one of these ships from scratch on during his little holiday (I am just going to grant the episode this conceit), he's going to use period tools. By himself. O'Brien points out the obvious—that these Bajoran vessels could not possibly have been space worthy or travelled to Cardassia and back in any reasonable amount of time. This display of logic pisses Major Kira off, because, you know? Bajor #1. Well, the Chief and Kira accuse each other of being different races for a while. Seems a little weird to mention both Cardassians and Romulans right after “The Die Is Cast” like this. Too soon, guys. Well thankfully, Sisko isn't interested in proving which species is superior, he says the project will be fun. Honestly, for Sisko, this attitude is downright heroic.

So we witness a montage of Sisko constructing the vessel with period tools, which somehow include both blow torches and compasses. Over dinner, Sisko tells Jake that the most difficult part of the trip, besides overcoming common sense, will be getting through the Don Cheadle Belt or whatever it's called. For some reason, Sisko's montage has given him a zeal to prove Kira and the Bajorans right about their absurd claim. I'll get back to this. Well, while he's having fun, Sisko wants to take Jake out on another camping trip in his new toy—because that worked out so well last time. Jake would rather spend time with his new girlfriend, so Sisko does his best Jewish mother: “Sure. I understand.” I wonder where this is going.

We learn that Sisko has put in a great deal of effort in his project, going the extra mile on aesthetic details and such. This is all fine. Jadzia brings him lunch and mentions that she's pleased to see him excited about a project like this—something she hasn't seen in him since Jennifer got pregnant. Hoo, boy Dax. You should have seen him when he was barebacking your dopplegänger in the Mirror Universe. He seemed pretty excited about that little project. The scene is actually quite nice, with a reminder of the characters' histories and a revisit to Sisko's themes in the first part of “The Jem'Hadar.” Meanwhile, Jake gets a letter from New Zealand. He's being sent to the penal colony! Nah. Whatever it is, he's happy for a moment, then finds his mark by the window so he can be a sad boy. Lofton's acting is pretty pathetic, but we get the message. Well, hold on to your butts because it's cliché ahead full as Jake shows up in the now completed vessel and tells his father he'll go on their little trip after all.

Act 2 : **.5, 17%

Dax is pestering Julian again. Bashir is feeling self-conscious about reuniting with Dr Lense—the woman who beat him.

BASHIR: She wound up on the Lexington, a post which virtually everyone in our graduating class was hoping for.
DAX: Including you?
BASHIR: No. This is the assignment I wanted.
DAX: Then what does it matter?
BASHIR: Well don't you see? She could have had this post, she could have taken it from me. No matter what I accomplish while I'm here, somehow that'll always make me feel second best.

Forgive me, but didn't you just turn 30, dude? Are you seriously this insecure? Well, considering you feel the need to flatter yourself by sleeping with Bajoran bimbos, I think I have my answer.

Considering the tone of this story has been so light, it is a bit of a shock to see Dukat on a little screen again (reminding one of his cartoon menace in “Civil Defence”). He has called Sisko to discourage him from going on his little trip. Yeah. This is *exactly* what I would expect a high-ranking member of the CCC to be bothering with right now. Didn't your entire spy agency just get wiped out, something which should be opening a number of political doors for you at this very moment?

Welp, it's time for the absurdities to begin. The Siskos take off and set sail for Don Cheadle (an attractive visual). Yeah, the Bajorans somehow launched these things into space but the sails have to be cranked manually. Sure. Maybe the ancient Bajorans also visited the wormhole by launching themselves in a hot air balloon.

Act 3 : ***, 17%

The following scene is pure unadulterated DBI. Sisko is your typical 90s dad, overly concerned with exactly replicating the conditions of the ancient Bajorans. There's a little joke about figuring out how to poop in space. Blah blah blah. Finally, Jake broaches the New Zealand topic—probably the reason he decided to come along on this trip. He hands his father a PADD with a story he's written.

On DS9, Bashir is tidying up the infirmary when Odo enters to inform a nervous Bashir that the Lexington has docked. Incidentally, this means that Sisko built that damned ship by himself in less than three weeks. Please. Anyway, the Lexington crew—still in the old TNG uniforms—are milling about in Quark's. Julian braces himself to be confronted by Dr Lense, but she doesn't seem to recognise him and just waltzes right past.

We cut back to the Improbable Mission and Sisko has finished reading his son's story. Since Jake isn't a superior officer, Ben is very honest with him...maybe a little too honest. The story “show promise,” but like most anything written by someone who is 16 years old, it's not what you'd call “good.” This leads to the reveal that Jake has been accepted for a writing fellowship in New Zealand. This is all pretty banal, but reasonably handled until a jolt hits the ship and we get the danger music cut to commercial.

Act 4 : ***, 17%

We get a typical Trek scene of technobabbling to correct a problem with the novelty of using old time-y sailing lingo instead of quantum techity tech jargon. After having to eject a sail, Sisko is concerned they'll have to turn round, but Jake insists they press on, so they do.

Meanwhile, O'Brien and Bashir are singing “Jerusalem,” because, you know, British. One nice touch is Miles conducting them with his a wrench—remember, O'Brien plays the 'cello. They've gotten drunk together, I guess because Lense snubbed Bashir and his fragile little ego couldn't take it. Not to stereotype, but Colm Meaney is *really* good at playing drunk. Finally we get:

O'BRIEN: You're not an in-between kind of guy.
BASHIR: What do you mean?
O'BRIEN: Well, people either love you or hate you.

As someone who has been given this speech more than once, I have to say this is actually a compliment. Fire will burn you and ice will freeze you. In between these two extremes is nothing but a tepid puddle. I can't imagine a worse thing to be.

Alrighty, back to the sailboat. Jake has decided to turn down the fellowship for now. Sisko thinks Jake is afraid to be away from home, but Jake says he's more worried about Sisko being alone. This leads into the topic of Jake deciding he's going to set his dad up on a date. This DBI interrupted by yet another shaky cam. The lose another sail, but now the stars are moving by as though the ship has gone to warp. Naturally, with no inertial dampers, the Siskos have been squashed into pancakes. Ah, wait I forgot that this wooden vessel is made from good strong Bajoran tress that can withstand the stresses of hyperlightspeed travel. Naturally.

Act 5 : *.5, 17%

The ship finally stops so Sisko can give the insane explanation that tachyons got caught in their sails and sent them to warp. Yeah. Sisko is disappointed that they'll have to subspace radio the station for help. Oddly, the signal doesn't seem to get through immediately.

On DS9, a likely hung-over Bashir resolves to finally confront the other doctor in Quark's. She doesn't recognise him, having believed he was Andorian. first of all, Andorians don't have surnames, and none of them sound like “Julian” or “Bashir.” How did you graduate top of your class, again? Well, they exchange pleasantries before she admits that the Lexington hasn't turned out quite the way she hoped, often with months going by in between meeting new aliens. It quickly becomes clear that what this scene is really about is DS9 trying to justify itself by allegorising Bashir's long-term medical projects on Bajor with the nature of the show itself, in opposition to TOS/TNG's planet-of-the-week approach. Look, DS9, you've got some serious problems, but telling long-term stories isn't one of them. You're making yourself look as insecure and egotistical as Bashir.

The Siskos are hanging out again, waiting for something to happen. Jake describes the woman he wants his dad to meet. Sisko agrees to the blind date, provided Jake re-consider his apprenticeship.

JAKE: Well, I've heard that you can only write about what you've experienced. total bullshit. For god's sake, writers, you write a SCIENCE FICTION programme—none of you has experienced half of the crap your characters get up to every week. It's fine. Writing requires imagination, logic and honesty. Sigh...

Anyway, they are greeted by a trio of Cardassian ships and Dukat hails to congratulate Sisko for reaching Cardassia and proving the ancient Bajorans right.

Episode as Functionary : **, 10%

I will admit, I did not hate this as much as the first time I watched this episode. The character stuff is not *bad* per sae, it's just really, really banal for Star Trek. Miles and Julian are friends now. Cool. Jake is growing up. Also cool. What, exactly, does any of this mean? This isn't supposed to be a sitcom where we just watch people do normal shit whilst downing our hot pockets and mountain dew.

What sabotages the story somewhat is the contrivance with the ancient Bajorans. Granting them the ability to achieve such technological marvels turns the entire species into a borderline Mary Sue. The episode is also confused about what it is trying to say. On the one hand, it's very important for the Bajorans to prove to the Cardassians that they had successfully travelled to Cardassia 800 years ago, because Bajorans are just that amazing. And then we realise that the only reason this happened is because of some technobabble accident. what have we proved here? Moreover, there is this uncomfortable implication that Sisko needs to prove that the Bajorans are right about this in order to demonstrate that the Cardassian view that they are not an advanced people is incorrect, because that view is what justified the Occupation. Uh-huh...can't we agree that enslaving and slaughtering a race is wrong even if they suck at building space ships? Must the Bajorans ALWAYS be proven right about every aspect of their culture (see “Destiny”) for us to agree that the Occupation was wrong? I don't think so. I can point out that the Bajoran religion is fallacious, I can have been shown that their claims regarding the light ships was mistaken and still say the Cardassian Occupation was an act of supreme evil. It's not that hard.

While it still would have been pretty hackneyed, I don't understand why Sisko couldn't have built a regular know, on the water. He and Jake could have sailed across the Bajoran sea—still an impressive and difficult thing to do by yourself with 800-year-old equipment! They could have had their little bonding time, we still could have uplifted the Bajoran culture without resorting to the absurd, and we could have had blue skies to boot.

Finally, in my opinion, the character of Jake is not adding very much to the series. Sending him off to school, where he could return, Wesley-like, now and again when the story could use him, would alleviate the awkwardness of having this ostensible main cast member so frequently absent from the show. I suppose there may have been contract issues preventing this, but it seems like a missed opportunity.

Final Score : **.5
Fri, Oct 19, 2018, 12:55am (UTC -5)

1.) "Well, it was well-established that the Bajoran culture was once very advanced. It was established all the way back in “Ensign Ro.” What hasn't been explained is what slowed them down before the Occupation. Hmm...I wonder if Bajor had a dark age, when religious paranoia squashed out understanding, reason, science and skepticism?"

If I remember correctly, the only thing that "Ensign Ro" established was that the Bajorans were "culturally advanced" - meaning they were doing things like producing philosophers and artists and great works of literature - when Humans weren't yet standing erect. Aside from these light-ships, I don't think it's ever been said that the Bajorans were in any way technologically advanced prior to the Occupation.

Dukat will later say when the Cardassians first came to Bajor that the Bajorans were at least a century behind them, technologically speaking. Now, granted, that comes from the mouth of a deluded madman with a gargantuan ego and an overwhelming sense of racial superiority plus a Cardassian version of the White Man's Burden, so take it for what it's really worth. However, from everything else we see or are told about the Bajorans prior to the Occupation, they seem to have a much more contemplative species than most. They don't seem to have been all that interested in advancing their technology.

I doubt there was a "dark age, when religious paranoia squashed out understanding, reason, science and skepticism". They just seem to have followed a much different path than did Humanity, or indeed most of the races in Trek.

2.) "Over dinner, Sisko tells Jake that the most difficult part of the trip, besides overcoming common sense, will be getting through the Don Cheadle Belt or whatever it's called."

Actually, I'd say the most difficult part would be.... getting the thing off the planet in the first place. Seriously, how did the ancient Bajorans (who, remember, aren't that technologically advanced) get this rickety and delicate thing into orbit? Notice how Sisko doesn't even bother with part of the journey? He and Jake don't start their little get-away from Bajor. They launch the thing out of one of the station's cargo bays. I actually like this episode a fair deal more than you seem to (I gave it a 7/10) but it is rather convenient how that little problem is just skimmed over, isn't it?

3.) "I don't understand why Sisko couldn't have built a regular know, on the water. He and Jake could have sailed across the Bajoran sea—still an impressive and difficult thing to do by yourself with 800-year-old equipment!"

That.... is a very good idea! I would have loved to see that. Sadly, I think that wasn't even considered because DS9 was already getting plenty of criticism for being a "soap opera in space" and not having enough science-fiction elements, a la TOS or TNG (or even VOY at this point). Focusing a whole episode on one group of characters doing the decidedly non-science-ficiton thing of sailing in a boat and another group grappling with interpersonal issues probably wouldn't have helped in that regard.

4.) "Finally, in my opinion, the character of Jake is not adding very much to the series. Sending him off to school, where he could return, Wesley-like, now and again when the story could use him, would alleviate the awkwardness of having this ostensible main cast member so frequently absent from the show. I suppose there may have been contract issues preventing this, but it seems like a missed opportunity."

I doubt there were any contract issues involved. Sadly, the reason Jake so often appears as "Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Picture" is because the writers created him in the first place not to be a fleshed out character in his own right but to simply add dynamics to Sisko's character. It wasn't until they basically stumbled on the idea of making him a writer that they had any idea what to do with him at all in his own right, divorced from his relationship with his father. And even from here on out, with the writer aspect attached to the character, they STILL don't do all that much.
Sat, Nov 24, 2018, 8:28am (UTC -5)
I quite enjoyed this episode, even though it is utterly absurd, and I'm happy to let the story play fast and loose with the science (the concept of an actual sail that catches light particles DOES exist) - this is Star Trek after all. The underpinnings of just-about plausible science to support a narrative are all that's necessary, extreme detail to the nth degree isn't.

The only problem I really had with this episode (and at risk of contradicting what I just said above) was with how Sisko possibly found the time and justification to quit running the station to single-handedly build something of that size and complexity so fast.

A certain level of techno-babble I can ignore, but a story that stepped that far out of line with an established character was ludicrous. I was never able to suspend my disbelief long enough to play along with the idea that he had actually knocked this thing together by himself so fast....

It would've been better to have introduced the concept a few episodes back and then just touch on it once or twice in conversation imo. In other words something he was doing off screen; "So, how's the light ship coming along"... And only then launch this episode as is.
Wed, Dec 19, 2018, 10:35pm (UTC -5)
Watching and commenting:

--Weird start. Bajoran . . . Lady of the Evening . . . coming on to Bashir. Jadzia letting him know a woman he knew at Star Fleet Academy will be at the station soon. Brooks has a goatee, but it hasn't improved his acting.

--Sisko with plans to be the Christopher Columbus of the Alpha Quadrant. Jake not interested in being a swabbee.

--Jake heads out with Dad after all. This ancient Bajoran ship is pretty cool. Has a "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" feel to it.

--Brooks does sooo much better in the quiet moments.

--Not much going on.

--Accidentally going to warp is a bit much on the technobabble, but I liked the ending, with Dukat.

--Since the ep sort of parallels the Bashir and Sisko storylines, are we to assume Bashir's evening also ended with fireworks?

--Pretty good.
Peter H
Mon, Jan 14, 2019, 10:37am (UTC -5)
This has always been an episode I've felt like skipping past, but I'm glad I didn't as it's such a great character piece. Both A and B stories worked for me and built on established history for each of the players.

My only nitpick is that the solar sail ship idea seems so implausible. Without inertial dampeners Sisko and Jake would have been a smear on the wall the moment the ship went into high warp (see The Expanse S3 for a more realistic examination of this theme!). But who cares, it's still an enjoyable story anyway.
Tue, Apr 2, 2019, 10:49pm (UTC -5)
The concept of sailing star ship is so ludicrous but totally fun. I loved the Cisco-Jake scenes, and the drunken piss up between O’Brien and Bashir is one of the funniest scenes ever, I howled!
Bobbington Mc Bob
Thu, Jun 20, 2019, 2:01pm (UTC -5)
Bloody hell I didn't realise how badly I want humankind to travel to another galaxy. Seeing Sisko and son get to Cardassia made me feel way more than I thought it would.

Peter G.
Thu, Jun 20, 2019, 2:04pm (UTC -5)
@ Bobbington,

"Bloody hell I didn't realise how badly I want humankind to travel to another galaxy. "

Did you mean another star system?

Glad to hear you're enjoying your watch-through.
Thu, Jun 20, 2019, 3:23pm (UTC -5)
I hear Alpha Centauri is nice this time of year.
Jason R.
Thu, Jun 20, 2019, 6:13pm (UTC -5)
"Bloody hell I didn't realise how badly I want humankind to travel to another galaxy. Seeing Sisko and son get to Cardassia made me feel way more than I thought it would."

I used to take it as a given that mankind would one day reach the stars - it comes from growing up with Trek.

But even setting aside the risk that we might be destroyed by nuclear war or climate change or economic collapse before this could be achieved, the technical challenges of reaching Alpha Centauri, just a piddling 4 light years away, are daunting to put it mildly.

Unless someone pulls a warp drive out of their rear end (which might as well be sorcery frankly) it will probably never happen. We would be lucky to build machines capable of interstellar travel. For humans to do it? Maybe impossible.

But then there was something I thought pretty remarkable - if somehow you could get a ship to a significant fraction of the speed of light (which a human could easily survive in principle) you wouldn't need a warp drive to explore the universe. From the point of view of the crew you could explore our galaxy and every galaxy within a human lifetime - at sublight speeds!

We think Trek is stranger than reality but it turns out it isn't nearly strange enough!
Peter G.
Thu, Jun 20, 2019, 9:42pm (UTC -5)
@ Jason R.

"But then there was something I thought pretty remarkable - if somehow you could get a ship to a significant fraction of the speed of light (which a human could easily survive in principle) you wouldn't need a warp drive to explore the universe. From the point of view of the crew you could explore our galaxy and every galaxy within a human lifetime - at sublight speeds! "

Are you referring to relativistic time dilation? The way that would work is unfortunately far less convenient than that. From the perspective of people on Earth it's true the spacemen would age less slowly, but from the perspective of the relativistic spacemen the rest of the universe would age faster. So not only would the local frame of reference seem 'normal' (meaning a 10 LY journey would take just over 10 years at nearly the speed of light) but by the time they got there everyone they knew would be dead and far more than 10 years would have passed on Earth in the meantime. If the spacemen were actually going at the speed of light, in theory the entire universe around them would go through infinite time passed instantly, as the time dilation is non-linearly calculated. The closer you are to being in a speed-of-light gravity well (such as the event horizon of a black hole, or at a sufficient amount of acceleration in outer space, which are identical cases to each other) the more exponentially time decelerates for you from the perspective of everyone else, and the more time accelerates for them from the spaceman perspective. So all going near the speed of light would do is create an incredible discrepancy in 'how long it's been' since you left, whereas from the spaceman perspective you're still moving towards the destination at regular speed. It's a terrible deal all around, unless you're sick of your co-workers and want to return to meet a new generation.

The Hyperion book series deals briefly with how much time is lost when people are travelling in normal space at relativistic speeds. In short there's no free lunch, and space/physics is *so* weird that it makes seemingly no sense from a regular everyday perspective. There are other, equally weird aspects to relativity as well.
William B
Thu, Jun 20, 2019, 11:51pm (UTC -5)

This is actually my field of study, so I wanted to clarify this. What you're describing is actually several different related relativistic effects, but they don't really work the way you describe.

"From the perspective of people on Earth it's true the spacemen would age less slowly, but from the perspective of the relativistic spacemen the rest of the universe would age faster."

This is correct.

"So not only would the local frame of reference seem 'normal' (meaning a 10 LY journey would take just over 10 years at nearly the speed of light) but by the time they got there everyone they knew would be dead and far more than 10 years would have passed on Earth in the meantime."

This is not really correct in the scenario Jason was describing. The issue is that length contraction also occurs, so that if a star was 10 LY from Earth in the galactic rest frame, it would only be a small fraction of that distance away in the ship's rest frame. This means that the "10 LY trip" would be a much shorter distance. The star approaches the space ship at the same speed as the ship approaches the star, so the time experienced for this trip in the space ship frame is very short. So the ratio of proper time experienced during the trip between the ship and the galactic rest frame is still large, but the distance is significantly reduced in the ship's frame. If the ship accelerated to near light speed and did a circuit from Earth to the star and back, the space ship crew would experience it as a very short trip over which Earthers aged just over 20 years.
Peter G.
Fri, Jun 21, 2019, 1:36am (UTC -5)
@ William B,

Thanks for the correction. I wasn't aware of length contraction; but how can that experimentally be measured? (sorry to onlookers for going a bit off topic)

Anyhow even if the destination races towards you at the same speed you race towards it, would that not simply double the effective rate of progress and halve the travel time from the spaceman perspective? That's a savings, but not that much of one compared with travelling incredibly far distances, I would think. Gotta find those warp eddies...
Jason R.
Fri, Jun 21, 2019, 4:16am (UTC -5)
"If the ship accelerated to near light speed and did a circuit from Earth to the star and back, the space ship crew would experience it as a very short trip over which Earthers aged just over 20 years."

That was what I thought but I am just recently discovering this stuff as a layperson.

Correct me if I am wrong, but assuming you could get your ship to nearly light speed (dodging cosmic rays, deadly dust particles and using more energy than the entire world could produce ...) you could basically go gallivanting around the universe Traveller style touring the cosmos from end to end and come out young enough to enjoy early retirement?

(With the caveat of course that when you got home the sun would have burned out, and everyone you knew would be dust.)

But travelling at sublight you basically can (from your own point of view) do the 70,000 light year Star Trek Voyager tour more or less instantly - despite the fictional Voyager having warp drive and being able to travel faster than light!
William B
Fri, Jun 21, 2019, 10:51am (UTC -5)

That's a great question about how length contraction can be measured, and in fact it is very difficult to measure directly. I haven't checked the state of the art, so maybe someone has, but because the only things that are easy to accelerate close to light speed in the lab are particles (which, consequently, don't have much "length" to measure, although there are other things like their electromagnetic field which are similar) rather than extended objects, it's not an easy thing to verify directly. However, length contraction follows directly from the constancy of the speed of light and the existence of time dilation, both of which are well studied, as well as the principle of relativity. I'm probably understating the experimental evidence here, but it's more that the strongest and oldest experimental evidence is for the things that imply length contraction rather than length contraction itself.

To use an example that's close to what we're talking about, muons travelling at high speeds penetrate through the Earth's atmosphere with a relatively long decay time, even though the decay time of a muon in its rest frame is very short -- shorter than the time it takes for even a near-light-speed muon to pass through the atmosphere (in Earth's frame). In the Earth frame, the explanation is time dilation: the muon experiences a shorter amount of time between the point it enters the atmosphere and when it hits the Earth than the muon would itself. From the muon's frame, the Earth can still only approach it at *at most* the speed of light. That means that the distance between the upper atmosphere and the surface must be less in the muon's frame, in order for the muon to still experience as little time passing during the time it takes for the Earth to hit the muon. Basically both length contraction and time dilation are consequences of the Lorentz transformations, which transform between inertial frames while keeping the speed of light in vacuum constant.

To extend the example of the muon, here's what happens to the space ship during the round trip. It's in the Earth frame. Then it accelerates (say in a very short time) until it's moving near the speed of light, in Earth's frame. It travels to the star, and will get to the star in the Earth-star frame in just over ten years, because the Earth and star both measure its speed as being near light speed. Then it slows down, say touches down on the surface, and then accelerates and races back to the Earth, and then slows down and stops. Once again, the star-Earth frame distance is ten light years, and the ship is going at near light speed, so it takes ten more years (and change), for a round trip of twenty years on Earth. However, time dilation means that the space ship crew has barely aged during this time.

(This is Einstein's Twin "Paradox," which is that if one twin remained on Earth and the other went on the space ship, the Earth twin would age 20 years but the space ship twin would barely age at all. The "paradox" is that it appears to violate the tenet of (special) relativity that all frames are equally valid. In truth it does not, because the space ship was not staying in a constant inertial frame the whole time. An inertial frame is a "constant speed" frame, without acceleration, and so the space ship, due to its periods of acceleration, did not remain in a single frame the whole time, and thus broke the symmetry with Earth.)

But anyway, we know how much the ship crew has aged, and we know how much time has passed on Earth. It just remains to explain how this is explained in the space ship crew's frame. The way that transforming between frames work is that if A appears to travel at speed v in B's frame, B will appear to travel at speed -v in A's frame (equal and opposite). This means that if the space ship is travelling at near light speed in the Earth-star frame, then in the ship's frame, Earth and the star will appear to be moving at near light speed in the ship's frame. Note that the ship is *not moving* in its own frame. So it would seem at first glance that it would take another 10 LY for the ship to experience the journey, not because the ship is moving (in its own frame, it is still) but because the ship now has to wait for the star to come around and arrive at the ship, and the star is only going at near light speed. The key is that the Earth-star distance is shortened, by a factor equal to the time dilation factor. This is why the travel time is not merely halved -- it's not just that the ship and the star are both approach in each other, but that the ship is waiting for the star to cover a *much smaller than 10 LY* distance, which the star can do with ease. Similarly for the travel from the star to Earth. So the acceleration and deceleration is the "only" hard part. Because objects tend to stay in their own inertial frames, it's the accelerating between inertial frames that is the difficult part -- that and resynchronizing watches.

(Part of the reason I mentioned the "round trip" is that simultaneity is actually problematic in relativity -- while it's relatively intuitive to say that it takes light ten years to go from Earth to a star, in different frames what constitutes the "same time" on Earth and the star will be different, and so the most consistent way to measure a time for a trip is with a single clock at one location, rather than two synchronized clocks at different locations.)

Hope this made sense! It's actually easier with the math, but then maybe this isn't the time for a Lorentz transformations special relativity math lesson.

@Jason, your understanding is correct. Assuming Voyager could have accelerated up to very high sublight speeds, it could have made it to Earth in very little time at all, assuming they didn't care that they'd be arriving on an Earth 70000 light years later. If that were their plan, one assumes Janeway would have ditched her engagement ring sooner. (Although this does raise the other point that if Mark wanted to wait for Janeway, and if somehow he knew she would be back in 70000 years, he could "just" accelerate a ship to near light speed and go on a round trip to get back coinciding with her arrival. It be funny like that.)
Jason R.
Fri, Jun 21, 2019, 11:17am (UTC -5)
Thanks William that is a really great explanation. I wish I understood more than 1% of it but even the 1% is interesting.

Could I just ask: is this something that is a certainty, or does the hypothesis depend on a lot of speculation? I know time dilation has been proven by putting atomic clocks on airplanes but do we know for sure that it would work this way in practice? With enough energy I could literally travel 1 billion light years in less than a human lifetime from my own POV? It just seems like it can't be true.

And another question: I know getting to close to the speed of light requires ludicrous amounts of energy but is it feasible that one day we could accelerate a ship to some meaningful fraction of light speed (say 1/2 or 1/4) and would time dilation make any practical difference at that speed?

On the subject of Voyager it occurred to me that Janeway should have just accelerated to near ls, arrived at Earth 70,000 years in the future and then done the slingshot around the sun trick to go back in time. But then it occurred to me that even with antimatter she would never have had the energy to accelerate to that speed so no luck.
Fri, Jun 21, 2019, 11:56am (UTC -5)
Interesting. I had read that NASA was planning to explore Alpha Centauri for the 100 year anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing in 2069. But as this conversation recognizes, the methods to reach that goal just don't exist yet. I heard they were working to use lasers to somehow send probes a quarter lightspeed to AC, but that would still take 20 years of travel.
William B
Fri, Jun 21, 2019, 12:31pm (UTC -5)
@Jason, my understanding is that the experimental verification is very good, with the caveat that the experimental verification at extreme high speeds (extremely close to the speed of light) is largely from elementary particles -- which means that we might be missing something if extended acceleration breaks down bonds, or something like that. That is a potentially big caveat.

As far as the practical concerns, I don't know too much about what the engineering challenges would be so I'll just rattle off what I know and what I remember hearing. I'm sure there are big problems I'm not mentioning, but here are a few. The kinetic energy of a fast-moving object basically scales inversely with the time dilation factor, so to get to a speed at which time moves 1/10 as fast on the ship would require at least approximately 10 times the rest mass times c^2 energy input into the object, at minimum -- and that's not even counting that momentum also has to be conserved, which means that a large amount of extra energy would likely have to be input in order to account for the momentum travelling opposite the ship. With enough antimatter this might work out, but it becomes a standard rocketry problem where until the fuel actually leaves the ship, it has to be carried by the ship and still accelerated. I'd have to look into it precisely, but I think it's a problem. There's also the apparent limits on what accelerations a human being can survive. There might be ways around this ("inertial dampeners"!!!) but I'm not sure how much it'd be possible. Acceleration is really experienced within the object's rest frame, so the additional problem is that at "constant acceleration" in the object's own rest frame, the rate at which an object approaches the speed of light in (say) the Earth's frame will slow down. So that's another issue. I'm sure there are others.

Notably though, neither of these two are all *that* relevant when we're talking about even 1/2 the speed of light. The time dilation at 1/2 the speed of light is only a factor of 2/sqrt(3) or about 1.154, and so to a first approximation you can just treat it nonrelativistically. That's still extremely fast, but in a nonrelativistic universe it would only take a little under a year to accelerate to c at one g (the Earth's gravity), by coincidence, so it'd only take about half a year to accelerate to 1/2 the speed of light at a constant speed of 1 g. Sustaining 1g acceleration for a whole year on a space ship would require a lot of fuel, but might not be too bad. The idea of using lasers (as Chrome mentions) is a way of getting around the fuel issue, but creates its own problems. It is a cool feature that lasers exert pressure, and indeed using light reflection to propel an object does seem to be the most efficient way, offhand, due to light's lack of rest mass.
Lew Stone
Sun, Aug 4, 2019, 5:57am (UTC -5)
I started reading this comment section at the top and 1 guy, Elliot, writes that he doesn't like this episode, or the acting, and gets bashed to Hell. First of all, everyone can have their opinion, stop whining about Elliot. I happen to agree with him. Brooks is a shitty actor, the son is okay. I think the best actors on DS9 are in the supporting cast. "The Die is Cast" with Garak and Odo carrying the episode is a great example. This was a great episode because those guys can bring it. Avery Brooks, not so much. He's so awkward, like he was trained as a stage actor and over does whatever he's doing. Generally stage actors need to tone it down for TV, so said Leonard Nimoy in an interview. Sometimes Brooks is very BIG in his speech and mannerisms, other times he's super-quiet, like a whisper. It's exaggerated either way and comes off as awkward and sometimes creepy. I will say that he's okay, even good in some episodes. He's definitely better than Mulgrew, who never knows what to do with her hands, if you watch closely, and her little smirk is ever-present.

Anyway, this was a meh episode. I like the idea of a solar sailing spaceship. That's a cool idea, but Sisko building one, with no experience in building ships, with no help, in that amount of time, is stupid, unbelievable, and a loss of plot credibility. By the way, as a kid I knew a college professor who built a large sailboat in his backyard. People thought he was nuts, I thought he was cool, and it took him a few years and he had professional help, so I'm not talking completely out of my ass. All they had to do was add some dialog that it took longer than a few weeks, and have O'brien help him, but the writers apparently didn't think of this easy remedy.

Also, how does Sisko, the Bajorans, and anyone else traveling in space at this time, using their advanced technology, NOT know about the tachyon eddy's?? That's completely ridiculous. This episode has a good concept that is poorly executed. Oh and Cardassians shooting fireworks?? Bitch please.

The B story was stupid as well. How does the valedictorian not know who the salutatorian is? Oh right, she was not watching the graduation during his speech smh w/facepalm. What about the years they spent in school together?? I've graduated from one grad school, and I'm about to graduate from a 2nd. Everyone knows everybody, especially the people at the top of the class. Not to mention Bashir acts like an awkward teenager towards the beginning. I thought he was a confident lady's man? Say "hi" to the lady dude!

I agree with Elliot and something he said really makes sense. For the most part, this is not Star Trek. Some episodes capture that magic, but most do not.

Now what happens? Will I be attacked by a pack of nerds? We can disagree in a civil manner people. We'll see, all I know is that I respect everyone's opinion even if I don't share it.

Rating: 1 star
Sun, Aug 4, 2019, 10:40am (UTC -5)
@ Lew Stone,

I've said many times on this forum that I'm not a fan of Avery Brooks' acting -- so I pretty much agree with what you're saying about him. One episode where he actually shines is "In the Pale Moonlight" but generally his huffing/puffing style rubs me the wrong way, his over-acting or under-acting is awkward. Even in "Far Beyond the Stars" his nervous breakdown felt forced although this isn't a huge criticism.

But I must completely disagree with you that he's a better actor than Mulgrew. No way. Brooks had far better writing to work with than Mulgrew did but she did a pretty solid job with the bi-polar writing she was given to work with. I've never really noticed what Mulgrew does with her hands as being a weakness to her acting and sometimes hand mannerisms convey a lot (like in "Chain of Command" with Ronny Cox as Capt. Jellico). So many more positives than negatives about Mulgrew's acting compared to Brooks.
Lew Stone
Mon, Aug 5, 2019, 8:52pm (UTC -5)

I'm glad someone else see's the over and under-acting of Brooks. The thing with Mulgrew's hands distracts and looks awkward to me. I'm no acting expert though. I've never seen either actor in anything else so they may be totally different playing other characters. Mulgrew did land that big part on "Orange is the New Black". Part of what colors my opinion of Mulgrew is that I don't like the Janeway character and I like DS9 better as a show.

When you say "bi-polar writing" for Mulgrew can you give an example? Just curious. Thanks.
Mon, Aug 5, 2019, 9:40pm (UTC -5)
@Lew Stone

I guess I'd say the "bi-polar writing" for the Janeway character has to do with her controversial and inconsistent decisions. For example, in "Caretaker" she destroys the array that could get Voyager home and violates the PD in siding with the Ocampa vs. the Kazon. Her character is one that is meant to deeply respect Star Fleet rules, but it doesn't always play out that way.

In "Prey" she's prepared to sacrifice her ship/crew to try to save a wounded 8472 from several Hirogen hunters -- this was a head-scratcher of a decision that was cleverly sorted out for her by 7 of 9.

Janeway wants to respect and observe alien laws, but sometimes she glibly disregards them like in "The Swarm" where she violates their space because she doesn't like bullies. The writing could have been better here making her elaborate on her decision.

Contrast this with the Sisko character and his realpolitik ("In the Pale Moonlight" and "For the Uniform") and I'd say the writing in DS9 is more thoughtful albeit much darker -- though Brooks' acting is much worse overall than Mulgrew's as Janeway. But I also prefer DS9 to VOY.
Lew Stone
Tue, Aug 6, 2019, 4:47am (UTC -5)

Oh yeah, I agree with everything you wrote above. I've noticed Janeway's inconsistency as well and it has contributed to my dislike of the character. I've only made it through the first three and a half seasons of VOY and even less of DS9 but I'm watching them both now consistently. I've read a lot of posters commenting positively on "In the Pale Moonlight" so I'm looking forward to that one. Thanks for the explanation.
Tue, Aug 20, 2019, 4:42am (UTC -5)
@Lew Stone I am wondering, why do you think this is "not Star Trek"? Speaking as somebody who acknowledged Elliot got picked on for not liking a show other people did, even I didn't get that objection about this episode. If anything, I think the episode's biggest problem stems from its obligation to be more Star Trek-it can't just be a character piece with Sisko and Jake, it has to have them do some epic pioneer exploring shit. It doesn't bother me too much, since it's still jsut means to an end and the character stuff does work for me. As for Bashir being confident ladies man, he is certainly the latter, but watching early Bashir, the dude is a giant dork. Again, despite contrivances, to me it worked, especially Bashir/O'Brien friendship.

You're the first person I've seen complain about Brooks underacting-personally, I do think he overacts, but I think he's actually really good and quiet, subdued moments. I also like him when he's just being a cool dad pal, like here.
Jamie Mann
Tue, Dec 24, 2019, 4:05am (UTC -5)

For me, this is one of the weakest episodes in this season, not least because it highlights how poorly the writers were managing the transition from TNG-style self-contained episodes and season-arc stories - something Babylon 5 was successfully showcasing in its third season at the time this episode aired.

After all, let's recap. The Dominion has literally just successfully eliminated a combined and heavily armed Cardassian/Romulan task force, while also revealing that some Founders are able to perfectly mimick other species to sow confusion, carry out espionage andand spread disinformation. And they've made an open threat to the two remaining Alpha quadrant powers, the Federation and the Klingons.

Do we get a build up of ships at DS9? Is there any effort to bolster DS9's defences? Are there frenzied efforts to war game strategies against hordes of Jem Hadar ships, or even any work done to develop counter measures against shapeshifter agent provocateur? Or even any discussion about the inherent impossibility of successfully defending against an enemy force which has both technical superiority and superior numbers?

(Hell, there could even have been parallels with the start of WW2, when Germany's state-of-the-art tactics and weapons were helping them to roll over large swathes of Europe and the UK was forced to bunker down behind the English channel in an effort to build up forces to counter strike. That would have mapped over fairly easily...)

Sadly, we don't get any of the above. Instead Sisco basically goes on holiday for a month or two - first he goes to Bajor for a convention, and then spends all his spare time throwing together a space-yacht so he can have some father/son time with Jake.

It's easy to understand why the producers went for this - it allowed them to dial back on the production and actor costs after the (presumably) higher costs of the previous action-heavy episode.

But for me, it highlights how DS9 was still very much stuck in the A/B weekly-story format, and how tired this was starting to look in comparison to shows like B5.

Beyond that, neither the A or B plots are much good. Cisco's enthusiasm for building his Space yacht isn't ever explained - the only time he's shown any inclination to do anything similar was when he was taken over by an alien-personality in Dramatis Personae.

Nor does it seem particularly feasible for one man to hand-build a space ship in just a few weeks using deliberately primitive techniques and ancient blueprints - as even the episode itself mentions, there's literally millions of things which could go wrong, from air leaks due to pinhole weld failures up to issues with radiation shielding, micro-meteor strikes and beyond. In fact, they don't even pack spacesuits or even include any safety measures beyond a convenient "gravity web", which was presumably more about avoiding having to spend any budget on simulated zero-g than anything else.

(And let's not mention the bit where Sisco is attempting to navigate 3D space using a paper 2D map and a sextant. Nor the bit where his substance communicator conveniently fails so that we can have the "surprise" reveal at the end of the episode. Or...)

Oddly though, everything goes fine, even when the rigging collapses and some "quality" father/son time is had. They even manage to magically warp over into the Cardassian planetary system via some incredibly weak-sauce technobabble, where they're welcomed with open arms and fireworks by a government which had earlier been dropping veiled threats about sabotaging the expedition.

Heartwarming and all-american - enough so that it makes me wonder if this was maybe driven by Ronald D Moore channeling his childhood or an idealised version thereof.

And then there's the b-plot. This opens with a ludicrious flirting scene [*] and then moves on to Bashir becoming uncharacteristically introverted and filled with self-doubt, first due to the arrival of an ex-classmate, and then due to the fact that she seems to blank him when she does arrive.

In many ways, this B plot is weaker than the A plot. Bashir's personality flip aside, we're meant to (eventually) buy into the idea that the highest-ranked student had never met or spoke to the second-ranked student, despite the fact that Julian recognised her by sight. And that even with a human name, she somehow believed he was an Andorian.

Worse, the Chief Medical officer aboard an exploratory starship comes aboard a space station next to uncharted territories and makes no effort to even find out the name of the Chief Medical officer aboard the station? Never mind contacting him to discuss any interesting or hazardous discoveries which may have been found.

Sadly for me, even the infamous scene where O'Brien and Bashir get drunk isn't enough to save this story arc.

Or indeed, the entire season. Episodes like this are sadly prime examples of why I lost interest in DS9 while gleefully lapping up everything Babylon 5 had to offer. And that's why I'm starting to encounter episodes I never got around to watching the first time around.

Equally, that may mean I'm being more critical than perhaps I should be, given that both myself and the world have changed a lot in the last quarter-century. Perhaps I should go back and rewatch B5 at some point to see how well that's aged, too...

[*] A lady friend was sitting in the room when this episode started, and gleefully exclaimed "boobs!" when the actress in question first appeared on screen. She then sat open mouthed as Bashir and the actress fumbled through the 'coughing' conversation. Suffice to say, it did a fine job of reinforcing any preconceptions she had about how immature sci-fi can be...
Sun, Jan 5, 2020, 11:26am (UTC -5)
I genuinely loved this one. It's the most I've ever liked Sisko, from his calm passion working on the interstellar sailship to all the excellent father-son scenes. Hell, I've definitely found Brooks' acting stilted at times, but he's all smooth sailing here.

(It's the beard. It's gotta be the beard. Source of his power, y'see.)

The visuals complement it so well, too. Those warm copper interiors! And the sight of a sailboat floating through the stars. It's genuinely beautiful, and the fireworks at the end just top it off.

I'll also say that, while I'm gleefully diving headfirst into DS9 (to the point where I haven't even been able to finish TNG S7; I've just lost interest in it now), this *does* remind me of something TNG has in spades that DS9 usually lacks: the spirit of exploration. The title's pretty unsubtle on that. It really instilled a sense of wonder in me, and to be honest, that's something TNG has done for me more than DS9.

But while for TNG the exploration tends to be grand voyages for the sake of the Federation *making* history, this is a small mission on a personal scale for the sake of *retreading* history. It focuses on its characters, as DS9 does best. I'll also point out the dialogue between Bashir and Lense at the end talking about how shallow her experience of the universe is when she's constantly on the move: take sample, move on. Suffice to say, there are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches.

Jamie Mann directly above me comments that it seems out of character for Sisko to suddenly be big on building a Bajoran sailboat; I disagree. Sisko has a history with shipbuilding, after all -- he was last stationed on the Utopia Planitia shipyards, and was personally involved with the building of the Defiant, a project he seems to have been just as passionate about as this (though this sailboat's a much more positive thing).

Downfalls I see in the episode: yes, there was a nagging thought in the back of my mind that it's probably a bit irresponsible for Sisko to be taking his son out on an ancient experimental vessel, but to be honest? I was too caught up in the beauty of it all to care. And one thing I see as a missed opportunity is a greater focus on Kira: while she gets one scene, enough to make it clear she's invested in what this voyage *means*, I wish there'd been more of her. I can't help wondering about an alternative version of this episode that has Jake stay behind and Kira coming aboard instead, following in the footsteps of her ancestors and proving their achievement centuries later. Hell, just having her have more involvement in the process would be nice: it's a Bajoran ship, not a human one. And it'd make the final scene with Gul Dukat all the sweeter. She deserves a bit of a gloat, especially at his expense. But then maybe the final scene as it is -- with the Sisko family -- is purer in tone for it, for not featuring the spiteful satisfaction Kira would bring.

One final note on the A-plot, because it seems I have a lot to talk about: DS9 often focuses on Bajoran religion, so it's nice to see something of Bajoran history instead -- and further back than just the occupation. The introduction of the Bajoran race way back in TNG's 'Ensign Ro' promised an age-old civilisation with a rich history stretching millennia behind Earth's. It's good to see -- and *feel* -- some of that ancient wonder.

I liked the B-plot, too. I was expecting not to -- I'll admit the above commenter isn't wrong in saying the intro is pretty much just "look! Boobs! Bashir likes boobs!", which *really* brought down my expectations (maybe that's part of why I liked everything that followed so much!) -- though the "GO AWAY" moment did get a laugh from me. But instead of the B-plot being Bashir's Quest To Get Laid (I mean, maybe he still does? but that ain't the main emotional drive we see), we instead get a focus on Bashir's insecurities that follows on neatly from what was established in 'Distant Voices' four episodes ago (was it really that recent? with the Mirrorverse excursion and the Garak two-parter it may as well have been a season). Not to mention the glorious scene of it being decidedly "not a synthale night" for him and O'Brien -- now that's *definitely* more in tune with O'Brien's sensibilities than the Garak-style lunch date Bashir attempted with him last ep! Complete with O'Brien's (drunken, but still) rather touching "not hate" confession. These two have come a long way.
Wed, Sep 16, 2020, 10:24pm (UTC -5)
i wish I liked this episode. I really do. Heck, I wish I loved it. Like Julian Bashir, it seems to be love/hate, nothing-in-the-middle kind of thing.

I do love "getting to know myself" stories, and this is going for that in several character arcs: Bashir faces up to his almost-valedictory past and learns that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, O'Brien comes out as a bro by admitting he "doesn't hate" Bashir, Jake gets an opportunity to start his grown-up life as a writer, Sisko gradually moves deeper into his identity as the Emissary who isn't Bajoran but is "of Bajor" enough to show the Cardassians what his adopted people accomplished in ancient times …

… but speaking of ancient times, this episode kept giving me things to hate, one of them being a cringe-a-minute drunk scene with Miles and Julian singing "Jerusalem" (a hymn celebrating the idea that Jesus literally walked in England in ancient times). Then there was the space travel in a papyrus canoe, the teenager actually enjoying spending time cooped up with Dad, the un-Cardassianlike congratulations with not even a suggestion that the whole thing was a Federation spy mission, the CGI that didn't age well in the age of HD television, Jake's Wesley-like delay in leaving the cast credits, I mean, the crew for the next stage of his education, the "hammer/hammock time" reference …

… maybe I am just in the wrong mood to appreciate this episode's charm …

… every single time I see it.

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