Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Past Tense, Part II"

3 stars

Air date: 1/9/1995
Teleplay by Ira Steven Behr & Rene Echevarria
Story by Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by Jonathan Frakes

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Nice tackle, Bell. You ever play any football?"
"Baseball, actually."
"Really? I'd hate to be a catcher and see you barreling towards home plate."

— B.C. and Sisko

Gabriel Bell's death has changed history as the 24th century knows it, for as Kira and O'Brien prepare to use the transporter to travel through time and recover their missing comrades, they discover all remnants of Starfleet have been erased (aside from the Defiant, which remains in the time-line because it was conveniently trapped in a warp bubble). Sisko and Bashir find themselves about to write—or possibly rewrite—history.

Rather than working with the emotional pathos of the historical theme donned in part one, this episode concentrates more on the actual events surrounding the residents' negotiations and demands. Though it covers no territory not already explored in the first half (and contains a substantial amount of filler), "Past Tense II" sports adeptly conceived dialogue and some potent character interaction. It's not as impacting as part one, but it works very nicely on its level.

Sisko, filling what was supposed to be the role of Gabriel Bell, must negotiate with the police for a change in the way the homeless are treated while being sure the hostages remain unharmed by B.C., a thug with a shotgun and not a whole lot of patience.

Further complicating matters is hostage security guard and hero-wannabe Vin (Dick Miller), who is nothing more than a troublemaker. Throughout the episode he insults the residents, stating that he's not sorry for them and thinks they're a bunch of losers. B.C. would be content to shoot Vin and be done with it. This causes some tense moments of conflict between B.C. and Sisko, as Sisko would shoot B.C. before allowing him to kill a hostage.

In an unexpected scene, Sisko finally gets fed up with Vin and pulls him aside to attempt to shout some sense into him. I've never seen Sisko like this. He really loses his temper and lets the guy have it. ("You see how these people live, and you JUST DON'T GET IT!") While it's nice to see Avery Brooks' energetic performance to allow Sisko to display some passion, it seems a little over-the-top coming out of the blue the way it does. Nevertheless, it's one of the episode's highlights.

An interesting note about the hostage situation is how it affects all the characters. B.C. (who initially wants to negotiate himself a plane ticket to Tasmania) finds himself helping Sisko and fellow resident Webb (Bill Smitrovich) to negotiate for a change in the system. Near the end, B.C. softens substantially, as if the writers want to turn him into a good guy. Considering B.C. murdered Bell in part one, it's a bit of a reach. But it's pleasing to see the writers turn a simple thug into a dimensional character willing to change, even if his motives are questionable.

Set in the background which keeps the rest of the cast alive are two small but story-progressing subplots. Dax has to convince communications executive Brynner to help the sanctuary residents air their demands over "internet" TV. Meanwhile, Kira and O'Brien focus the Defiant's transporter beam through chronoton particles to travel back in time and retrieve the lost landing party.

The inevitable police assault on the processing center works pretty well—effectively photographed as numerous guest stars are gunned down in the mayhem. While, for obvious reasons, Sisko can't make the life-sacrificing action that Gabriel Bell was supposed to, the writers at least give him the opportunity to take a slug in the shoulder while protecting a hostage. But consequently, one thing missing in this ending is the Bell-type martyr. The closest thing to a martyr the episode finds is Webb, the story's identifiable family man, who is shot by swat officers as he instinctively reaches for a pistol to protect himself.

After securing the hostage site, the swat team goes on to "pacify" the streets as they break into rioting, leading to the hundreds of deaths Sisko described in part one. Noteworthy is how the whole incident is a big mistake, because the police storm the fort simply on rumors the hostages were killed, when none were at all.

If there's a scene that sums up the message of this ambitious two-parter, it's a thoughtful one between Bashir and hostage sanctuary clerk Lee (Tina Lifford), who discuss the problems the unemployed have in the current day. Bashir tells her it's not her fault things are as they are. "Everybody tells themselves that," Lee says. She's right.

Previous episode: Past Tense, Part I
Next episode: Life Support

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80 comments on this post

Sun, Sep 9, 2007, 1:58pm (UTC -6)
DS9 Companion states that this was originally written as a one-parter, and it shows. It seemed as though at least half the hostage scenes were filler.
Wed, Jan 9, 2008, 2:53am (UTC -6)
A worthy part II. Agree there is a lot of filler but its good filler. I just found Vin (Dick Mille) to be a bit OTT. Surely anyone with a gun at them and others would show a little more respect even if it was just a cover. Didn't sit right with me.
Sun, Aug 16, 2009, 2:49pm (UTC -6)
Yep...Past Tense was too big for an hour, but not quite up to two. It's too bad 90 minutes isn't an option.
Thu, Nov 5, 2009, 10:10pm (UTC -6)
It makes no sense that Kira and O'Brien would witness changes to the timeline, since Sisko was able to "set things right" BEFORE they came to get him. It also made the episode more complicated for nothing, I don't think it was necessary (there was already enough drama!)
Also, the episode IS a little preachy, and seems to be saying that one event like this can change everyone's minds, though obviously that is not the case. There have been tons of riots in our history, not to mention wars, and we are still learning these lessons. Still, it made a good point and it showed that we still have a long way to go to make Earth a "Paradise".
Mon, Dec 13, 2010, 7:41pm (UTC -6)
I'm sorry, does no one notice bad acting anymore? Look at the scene just before the credits; Bashir says, "But we're the only ones who know that [Sisko isn't Bell]" ominously. Fade out on Sisko's face...and he's smiling like he just got to punch someone for no reason. It's not the script's fault, but if it weren't for things like this, DS9 could have been a MUCH better series. Brooks' acting never did get better. And if I have to here Kira or O'Brien say "or WHEN we are" one more time, I'm going to pull a SIsko on my TV.
The "filler" with the hostages is actually the best that either parts has to offer dramatically. It is quiet and poignant and carries the message without being preachy. As bad as the searching scenes through Time are, they're better than Part I's technobabble. I agree Sisko is a lunatic "and I don't like your hat..." okay, Starfleet commander, fantastic. Overall it deserves a higher rating than Part I, which deserves about a star and a half.
Sun, Mar 6, 2011, 5:59pm (UTC -6)
I enjoyed part II, not as much as part one, but it was still a well-executed episode.

I would have preferred if when 'things were back to normal' the timeline was restored, but altered just slightly.

Perhaps they would refer to the Webb Riots (instead of the Bell riots, as 'Bell' didn't die but Webb did). Or if Brynner was elected governor two years later with a campaign of reform... just, something.

It's hard to imagine that with all the interaction that the 3 characters had with people in the past the timeline would be restored exactly. It would have had to be revealed in a conceit, but still something that got things back to the way they 'should be' but with a twist, would be both more believable, and perhaps more satisfying to see that these 3 people did have some impact.

Oh the whole though, this was a well written, fun, and suspenseful action episode, with a moral message that Star Trek is famous for. 4 Stars.
Sat, Mar 26, 2011, 8:36pm (UTC -6)
I remember when this two-parter aired back in my bright college days. My then-girlfriend (a Social Work major) and I were recommending it to everyone we knew. Now, I see a bit of over-earnestness in pretty much every speech made over its two hours, and truthfully, if I saw it for the first time today, I suspect I'd be rolling my eyes a fair amount.

Even so, the points made still resonate, all the more strongly as we approach the date of the episode's setting and, perhaps, see the beginnings of the crippling of the working and lower-middle class in the day-to-day news (Wisconsin, anyone?). Beyond that, I loved the little bits, particularly the baseball-tennis-soccer exchange in part 2 that served as a nice, understated bonding moment between "Bell," Bashir, and the hostages. Even if I take fault with how ardently the message is sometimes delivered, I suspect I will always love these two episodes.
Sat, Mar 26, 2011, 8:38pm (UTC -6)
"Take issue," rather. Must more assiduously proofread before hitting "Submit."
Thu, Jan 24, 2013, 11:52am (UTC -6)
My thoughts on "Past Tense I" were very positive, garnering it a 3.5 out of 4 stars. Typically, the 2nd half of Star Trek two-parters tend to be more of a let-down than the 1st half, and unfortunately, "Past Tense II" continues that trend.

My main gripe with Part II is that, with all of the talk about Bell's Riots being a significant turning point in Earth history, along with the tense build-up in Part I about needing to save all of the hostages in order to preserve the timeline, the execution fell flat. The showdown depicted in Part II was not epic whatsoever.

First off, the bloodshed and riots were nearly non-existent from an on-screen perspective. In the minute of footage where the National Guard stormed the processing center and shot everyone, it was the antithesis of what I would consider "bloody but epic history." When I think of bloody and/or epic, I think: Paul Revere's secret mission, Boston Tea Party, the Civil War, Civil Rights March on Washington, etc.

More screentime could have been spent watching Bell's Riots itself unfold, especially in the streets and in other areas of the sanctuary. Doing so would have conveyed the sense of epic history. I would have preferred that over unnecessary scenes of Kira and O'Brien traveling to the 1930's and 1960's. The attempt at humor was appreciated, but awkwardly placed, since it detracted from Part I's darker tones.

Also, the ending left me a bit bothered (where Sisko walks out of the processing center with a mere flesh wound, moments after the National Guard stormed in). Seeing Vin (Dick Miller's character) have a 180-degree change of heart was implausible. It all felt too too rosy and convenient.

The political messaging, a core strength in Part I, was M.I.A. in Part II. Yes, the hostages did survive (except for Webb), and we know the Sanctuary District is later dismantled. However, the aforementioned dull ending stole much needed drama away from a supposed epic event in Earth's history.

It would have been more effective had the writers coined it as "Webb's Riots," and that Sisko, Bashir and Dax were simply trying to help advance Webb's cause (in an effort to preserve the timeline). After all, Webb became the face of those quarantined in the Sanctuary during the negotiations and after the link to Public Internet TV was established. Not to mention, Webb himself was killed during the riots. Having Sisko take Bell's place seemed "cool" on paper, but fell flat in execution.

Or alternatively, as I mentioned in my commentary for "Past Tense I," what if the DS9 crew had to address the use of the Sanctuary District (with Kai Winn's blessing) on Bajor? Bajoran society IS in the midst of being rebuilt, and it would have helped to continue developing the Bajor arc. The writers could have still created an allegory to modern day Earth, and Sisko could have still served as the 'teacher' when making comparisons to Earth's own tumultuous history.

Overall, Past Tense II is a reboot episode in disguise with only one minor consequence: Sisko's face is used in lieu of Gabriel Bell's. Nothing else in the universe became impacted. I would have forgiven the reboot ending had we seen the riots unfold in epic manner. Such "cop out" writing is what frustrates me about Seasons 1 through 3, since I know how great the writing becomes in Seasons 4 through 7.

My rating: 2.5 out of 4
Fri, Jun 7, 2013, 12:43pm (UTC -6)
Your all crazy... Avery was a great actor.... granted when he getting visions from the profits it was most likely a result from LSD hit from before (LOL) but never the less this episode is great... and if you dont think society is heading in this direction... then you have more faith then any practiced faith on this planet.

I too loved the scene when Sisko lost it and yelled at the guard. It was so appropriate for the generation... "You want me to care?" guard said.
"IT WILL BE A START!" Captains reply... uhh they don't make shows like this anymore...
Tue, Oct 22, 2013, 6:49pm (UTC -6)
The second part of a decent two-parter with no real story impact.

Sun, Apr 6, 2014, 12:29pm (UTC -6)
I kept wondering why Sisko doesn't just punch BC and take away his gun? If he's that big a loose cannon, why does he get to keep his gun?
Mon, May 12, 2014, 10:42pm (UTC -6)
Everyone in the district was so clean. It made no sense. They're living on the streets, but soap and shampoo and a safe place to shower are plentiful?

When Dax came to the district why was it deserted? Where did everyone go?

And, her hair and outfit was so ugly it was distracting.
Thu, Jul 17, 2014, 12:32pm (UTC -6)
Predictable Part II because everything meaningful was revealed in Part I. If only Star Fleet hadn't disappeared and everything had to happen the way it happened historically so we get Star Fleet back, maybe we would have got some suspense/surprise here.

But we didn't.

Why did Star Fleet disappear again?

O'brien and Kira hitting different time periods was cute.

Anyone know why Sisko's picture replaced Bell's in the history books? Didn't they leave Bell's body there for the police to find, etc?

2.5 for me.
Tue, Mar 3, 2015, 2:18am (UTC -6)
I know its at least 6 months too late to respond to Yanks, but I also had a problem with that photo. I have a pretty good imagination and couldn't come up with even one of my ideas. Someone mentioned Dax's outfit as being distracting, well, remember that old cliche' "I just threw this outfit together," when someone comments on what you're wearing. Dax really threw that one together, from a rummage sale.

Most of the acting in this ep. was great, just didn't like Vin and BC.
Wed, Mar 4, 2015, 11:28am (UTC -6)
I'm sorry, but this was perhaps the most irritating episode of DS9 I've seen so far. Too preachy by half, full of lazy contrivance and the scene where Dax recovers her badge from the loony was embarrassingly bad. Coming after the train wreck that was Fascination, it feels like they're in danger of throwing away all that good work from the first two seasons. Please get back to the Cardassians and the Dominion.
William B
Tue, Sep 15, 2015, 10:06am (UTC -6)
Though the two parts are different in content and tone, I think it's best for me to discuss the two parts of "Past Tense" in a single comment. Part 1 sets up the fundamental social problem (Sanctuary Districts) and Sisko tells us the solution -- the Bell Riots -- until, at the end of part 1, Bell is killed and Sisko decides that *he* must be Bell. The second part is the execution of the solution that Sisko already proposed, with Sisko playing Bell in a script that has largely been written already. The scope of the two parts is different as a result; the first part is mostly exposition on this wide-ranging social problem, and seems to encompass the whole of this particular district as microcosm of the whole of the homeless/unemployed problem in the world, and then the second part narrows focus down mostly to a single room where a single event decides the course of history, in a hostage situation.

Fans seem split on whether the two-parter, and especially part 1, is a riveting and frighteningly prescient depiction of a horrifying set of social conditions or a preachy poorly-thought-out tract which provides too little detail about its imagined world to be of any use. And, well, I have sympathies to both. I do think that the depiction of the desperation of homelessness and unemployment, and the desire for "polite society" to ignore those problems because of an inability to deal with them head-on, is believable and relevant/timely. I also think that the extreme pinpoint focus on the issue of how it's bad to lock people up and not permit them to leave (yep, I agree) means that there is not that much room for debate and ambiguity. The genuinely difficult question is how to find a way for these thousands of people to "earn a living," and what kind of social restructuring will be required given that the Districts already exist, and that is not examined in the two-parter besides assurances that the Bell Riots do deal with it. This is too big an issue for this episode, I'll grant, but especially for a two-parter I think some more details on the roots of these social issues or how they were resolved besides a vague muttering about the economy being bad and then people coming together to work out their problems would have improved the shows a lot.

Nor, frankly, is the question of when to protest peacefully and when to take up arms when one's fundamental rights are being trampled dealt with much either -- Webb wants to protest peacefully, B.C. wants to blow stuff up, and then they sort of...compromise because Sisko-as-Bell gets them to, I guess, but the friction between these two very different approaches dissipates early. Part one sets up Webb and BC as opposing types, I guess to be reconciled by Sisko in part 2, but Webb accepts that his peaceful protest idea has gone into a hostage situation pretty early and B.C. goes from murderous thug to a guy who seems about as dangerous as Okona within a few acts. I'm all for revealing the complexity beneath a person's surface, but there is something artificial about the way B.C. is a full-on villain who stabs the real Bell to death in part 1 and talks about how fun killing is through much of part 2, but is actually just a pretty likable guy who gives his hat away when given the chance. If he's a man hardened enough to stab a man to death and then lead a violent revolt the next day, it should take a little more to soften him, I think. That said, the character interactions in part 2 are fairly entertaining, in a chamber drama sort of way, and I think there is more effort to get into people's heads than in part 1.

It seems to me that the two-parter also only barely touches on one of the more interesting things about its set-up with Sisko becoming Bell, which is how hard it would be to reverse-engineer a central moment of history, particularly one which seems to be genuinely incidental (i.e. I don't get the impression Bell had particular plans on being a peaceful revolutionary). Sisko has to do so in a way that would somehow allow Sisko to have the same impact Bell did, in addition to the fact that he will have to *die* to satisfy Bell's martyr role in history. And, well, the big dilemma that Sisko will have to die is handwaved away with "Bashir is a 24th century doctor," which means that Sisko's willingness to die for history loses some dramatic oomph (though not all). More importantly, though, for me the very basic outline of "Bell's honourable behaviour during the riots let people see that there are good men among the Sanctuary District populace" sounds vaguely plausible as a short-form summary of a complex event, but the opportunity in part 2 to see how Sisko/Bell's actions affect a public watching during the events is mostly lost. I think I'm not explaining my issue well enough; I guess it's that "Bell not hurting the hostages" is a sketch of an idea for why the Riots bring public support to the Sanctuary Residents, but not quite a full, believable description, especially since the hostages were taken in the first place as a result of these Riots. If all that Sisko has to do as Bell is prevent the hostages from dying (and, I guess, eventually martyr himself), then there are not that many difficult decisions for Sisko to make.

Jadzia's eventual involvement in the Sisko-as-Bell plot, and Bashir's treatment of people there, are also curious, in that they surely would not have been possible for Bell to do, unless Bell was also a doctor who was friends with some other IT kingpin. How did Bell get people's message out, given that he didn't have Jadzia? Unless this was a paradox and Bell was *always* Sisko. For what it's worth, that interpretation has some worth. I never did get to writing about Star Trek IV, but one thing I was going to say is that the idea of the fictional, Trek-future Starfleet officers coming to our present (or in this case near-future) and dealing with some of our social issues becomes a grand metaphor for Trek itself, where the (fictional, nonexistent) Sisko represents an *idea* of a better future which can help save humans in the present from our worst excesses.

The episodes do lose a lot because of the running commentary, especially from Bashir. I get why he finds this so distasteful, don't get me wrong, but the episode may have been much stronger if it had just let the horrors of the Sanctuary District situation speak for themselves, rather than have Bashir in charge of telling us how bad they are. I also find the tag at the end, where Bashir asks how people let it get this bad and Sisko says that he does not know, particularly annoying. The Sanctuary Districts may be an extension of current policy and social structures, but they are still a fictional future. The writers made up this future; having a character declare their own future to be hard to understand is a poor substitute for them to explain how they expect their future to develop (along with the implied recognition that it's important not to make those mistakes).

Why couldn't Kira and O'Brien have done a binary search through time? Start somewhere in the middle and rather than spend thirty seconds, arrange for the transporter to take them out after an hour so they have time to get as much information as possible (newspapers; if they are in a time with computer access, get that), then bring it back to the Defiant and compare it with Earth history on file so that they can narrow down whether the changes have started or not. More to the point, I'm not clear why the future was so drastically changed anyway since Sisko succeeded in restoring the timeline. Surely if the whole of Earth was transformed before Kira and O'Brien went to retrieve them, Kira and O'Brien's actions would have had to affect the outcome of events? Maybe we're just supposed to assume that after successfully playing out the Bell Riots script, Sisko, Bashir and Dax then ruined all of Earth's history over the rest of their lifetimes. Technobabble on the Defiant is really hard to take.

I don't really know how to rate the two-parter as a whole. Maybe 2 stars for both parts? There are some things I liked a fair bit, even if I found myself less than wowed by the final product.
William B
Tue, Sep 15, 2015, 10:10am (UTC -6)
Oh right, I should also add: that the guard just swapped Bell's card with a corpse's also bothers me. Now there should be *three* images of Bell -- the actual Bell, Sisko (from pictures taken, what, by bystanders with their cellphones?) which makes it into the history books, and whatever that random corpse looks like. And all three would be different. Is the corpse so shot up by the crazy troops, or ghosts, or whoever killed him that no one can tell that he looks different from *both* the picture on Bell's file and from Sisko? Moreover, that Sisko so easily convinces Vin to pretend that he died makes it seem as if Gabriel Bell very well could have done the same (convinced people to pretend he was dead for martyrdom's sake). It's all just pretty weird.
Wed, Sep 23, 2015, 7:25pm (UTC -6)
So... a couple things with this 2 parter which I had mixed feelings about but mostly liked. First off: Did Bashir and Sisko fuck those dudes in part one? I don't... I don't understand. The guys are like "you can't come in." then one whispers in the other's ear and they're all "maybe you CAN do something for us" and the next scene they're inside, putting on clothing which is not their own with no explanation of where the original clothes went and never mentioning what they did for the clothing. Did they sell their bodies for building access and a change of clothing? The American people want to know DS9 writers. The American people DESERVE to know.

On a more serious note: Thing 2. Why didn't business guy know why the wall was there? Actually, follow up: why WAS the wall there? I mean, it didn't just appear. And it's not some ancient awful tradition that nobody thinks about because "it's always been that way." like the lottery from the short story The Lottery. At some point, in the last 20 years, they had to make a decision to build a giant fucking wall around a section of the city and then lock the doors and throw everyone who didn't have ID or a job inside. The American People had to KNOW about this right? They had to put forward a bill to allow this to happen, and pass it and then build the giant wall. Like... at least one reporter had to have been like "hey. what's with the wall?" I mean, I guess that maybe it's kind of acting as a metaphor for how once society puts you in certain conditions like homelessness and unemployment it traps you and without services to help you out you're stuck in that hell forever and it's the system's fault? Maybe? But in non-metaphorical terms. Why is there a wall that they can legally lock people behind for just being unemployed? How did that happen?

Thing 3. I was really expecting BC to end up being Bell. The ending I pictured was that instead of getting some weird psuedo character development as "maybe not ALL bad because he gave a kid a hat" they would just double down on making him an absolute piece of shit. Have him kill some of the gimmes. Maybe even kill Webb. Just clearly be the worst in humanity who is making this problem worse and deserves to suffer for it. Then the swat team breaks in and everyone's all "OK, we surrender" and BC is like "Fuck that." and opens fire, and a whole mess of sanctuary people (including him) get killed. THEN after all is said and done. the ID gets planted on BC and his face goes down in history as the face of Bell and there's statues of him and he's honored forever. And Sisko and Bashir are just looking at that padd at the end like "that fucking guy." That's what I think would have been a better ending. I mean, I kinda like the idea that this is a paradox and Sisko was always Bell and this is how it always happened, but the starfleet disappearing thing kind of negates that.
Thu, Sep 24, 2015, 11:30am (UTC -6)
^^ They gave them their uniforms because they were nicer clothes than the rags they had, lol ^^
Diamond Dave
Wed, Nov 25, 2015, 4:31pm (UTC -6)
This basically boils down to a hostage drama and why it's OK to far as it goes - it's good to see Sisko kicking ass and taking names - but given we already know from Pt1 how the end will play out, if not the exact mechanism, then there isn't really a whole lot of suspense.

Add to that a number of irritating hostage cliches, some blatant moralising, and some somewhat misplaced humour it's OK but not much more than that. 2.5 stars.
Wed, Dec 23, 2015, 5:49pm (UTC -6)
Not sure how much it matters that they began to solve the social problems after this episode, since according to the Star Trek timeline, WW3 happens just a few years later...
Mon, Feb 15, 2016, 12:38pm (UTC -6)
The thing I never understand about time travel episodes like this is time always seems inexplicably flow in parallel in the present and past.

Sisko, Bashir, and Dax all fixed the damage on their own with no influence from the present crew. So the present should never have even noticed a change, since the timeline *was* preserved. Yet somehow the present was changed for a few hours.

It wouldve been one thing if the Defiant crew had a part in restoring the timeline, so the present was changed until they went back and helped fix it, but it wasn't. The past happened as it was supposed to and so the present had no reason to have been affected, the crew should never have observed a change.

Now I'm all for dramatic license but the problem I have is this: I did respect that the writers tried to offer some explanation about why the Defiant wasn't affected, but they didn't go all the way and attempt to explain why the crew observed an altered present (which inexplicably lasted precisely the same amount of time as Bells death to the end of the riot) even though the situation was resolved in the past. I think the writers should have made zero attempt to explain anything, or they should've gone all the way and either had the Defiant crew have a hand in righting the past or at least explained why their present was briefly on an altered timeline.
Mon, Feb 15, 2016, 3:50pm (UTC -6)

That same critique of time travel could be used against First Contact or even Back to the Future. You need to view these under the assumption that an alternate timeline is shown to the DS9 crew, but seeing that alternate timeline encourages them to act to fix it. Kira and O'brien probably needed to retrieve Sisko to completely stabilize the timeline.
Tue, Mar 15, 2016, 12:17am (UTC -6)
Well, "Past Tense, Part II" is definitely a step down from Part I. Whereas in the first part there was an interesting set-up and even some laudable social commentary, Part II basically consists of little more than a standard hostage situation story. Sisko's and Bashir's character development continues on from Part I but other than that there really isn't anything of note on display.

The episode's greatest weakness is how it so fundamentally drops the ball with "the message." We have here a situation where the government is clearly the problem but the solution is.... more government. What? So big government royally screwed these people over but somehow that same big government is going to fix everything? Something doesn't compute here. The Sanctuary Districts aren't examples of what happens when people at large stop caring, it's what happens when governments stop caring. What we have here is a situation where the government has forcibly relocated people it deems "undesirable" into special areas that are separated from the rest of the public. It then forces those people to remain there and violently reacts when they try to change their lives. Does that excuse the fact that the general public seems oblivious? No. However, I would say it shows that people are under the impression of "well, the government is taking care of the situation, so why should I bother with it." Whenever the government takes over something like this, you get the extreme overreaction of "storm the place with guns blazing," and that certainly isn't justified either. Private individuals and groups need to step up and deal with the situation in a humane way - something governments, in my humble opinion, aren't capable of doing.

But apparently simply reinstating the Federal Employment Act is going to fix this. Given that the episode has Sisko go out of his way to say that these people don't want to live on hand-outs, that makes no sense. You can't just create a bunch of make-work jobs out of thin air and expect the problems to disappear. Jobs have to actually contribute something to society at large or provide a needed service. Otherwise they are nothing more than a more complicated form of a hand-out. As a result, the wonderfully complex problems (and presentation of those problems) established in Part I are given a truly naive and simplistic solution. And I'm not even going to get into the problems involved with the B.C. character other than to point out that he's a cold-blooded murderer (he was the one who killed the real Gabriel Bell in Part I for no reason after all) who apparently gets a free pass just because he's homeless.

Methane I think said it best in the comments for Part I, so I'll quote - "Big government is clearly being presented as the problem here, and they want us to believe that more big government will ultimately solve the problems that it created. It's painful to watch. I've said this before elsewhere on this site: Star Trek in its most successful episodes doesn't really present a socialist society. It's a society where technology is so advanced that it's literally trivial to dispense some basic services. When diseases that ravage planets are solved in a week by one doctor and you can literally materialize anything out of thin air, you aren't making any economic sacrifices by sharing a little of that largess with others. Star Trek can have successful episodes about racism, about trying to get along with your enemies, about many other social issues; it generally fails when it talks about real economic issues, because the Federation doesn't have a real economy."

Aside from those problems in the A-plot there's also a B-plot involving O'Brien and Kira traveling to different time periods in an attempt to locate Sisko, Bashir and Dax. If this was only there to provide some comic relief it failed. I really could have done without this at all. And just to note, at one point they travel to the year 2048 and O'Brien says that the real timeline was "never that bad." Given that 2048 in the normal timeline is either right in the middle of or just before the Third World War I'd really like to know what O'Brien thinks is so much worse than global thermonuclear war leading to the Post Atomic Horror that we saw in "Encounter at Farpoint". Dammit, this episode just made me think of TNG Season One. Bad episode, bad! You should be ashamed of yourself! Then there's the episode's coda which is so over-the-top that I honestly expected Avery Brooks to look directly into the camera and say "only you can prevent it."

I will be slightly generous with my score because I do really like that Sisko's and Bashir's characters really come into focus in this two-parter, finally. The scene where Sisko takes Vin aside and chews him out really allows Brooks to play the character more to his strengths and, I think, is the point where Sisko transforms into The Sisko. :-P

Tue, Mar 15, 2016, 8:22am (UTC -6)
@Luke - I think they were trying to make a poor comparison to the Depression where public works projects created jobs that stimulated the economy. It was helping (and is generally a good idea), but the war stimulating the private sector probably helped more.

The number of factors that got us out of the Depression where numerous and probably one of those really rare cases where good ideas on both sides of the aisle shined together along with "fortunate" circumstances (air quotes because of the war being one of those circumstances).

We all know I'm one of the liberals around here (well, center-left anyway), so I'm not about to bash the concept of liberal solutions too much (only really implementation), but it rubs me the wrong way to act like the government could have just reinstated this act to totally fix all the problems and hadn't done so before because....? They are monsters? I dunno.
Tue, Mar 15, 2016, 11:30am (UTC -6)
"it rubs me the wrong way to act like the government could have just reinstated this act to totally fix all the problems"

Exactly. The message is "just pass a law and everything will be fine." Yeah, no. I think it's going to take a little more than that. If that was the case we would have no murder since there's a law against it.

Here's my two cents - obviously the very first thing that needs to be done is to simply shut down the Sanctuary Districts. That, and that alone, could do wonders to fix the problems. It obviously isn't the only thing that needs to be done but would be a drastic step in the right direction. Leaving aside the moral problems with them (I don't think it's fair to call them concentration camps as the District residents aren't actively being killed but it is fair to call them internment camps - similar to what Roosevelt did to Japanese Americans during World War II), let's just focus on the economic effects of them. Imagine how much money is being spent on maintaining these places. Sisko, in Part I, says that there is at least one of these Districts in every major American city. Given that they are in San Francisco's Sanctuary District A, I think it's fair to say there's more than one in really large cities. It would take a hell of a lot of money to keep these places running, even with the horrible conditions present. Paying all the guards, maintaining the District walls, paying all the center staff, providing all the food (what little is actually provided because of the rationing), etc. - it all really adds up. Now multiply that for how ever many more Districts there are across the nation. How many millions, or more likely billions, of dollars are being flushed down the toilet here? That money would be much better spent in the private sector.

Simply shutting the Districts down and allowing all that money to flow back into the economy in the hands of private entrepreneurs would actually allow jobs to be created - jobs these people desperately need. And those would be long-term, sustainable jobs, not some make-work, handout jobs created by the government. Again, that's not the only thing needed. For instance, public perception of these people really needs to be addressed (especially if you have people referring to them as "those people") and that's something that is going to take a lot of work and a whole lot of time. But, instead, we'll just pass a law to fix everything. That's just more of the same thinking that's actually condemned by the episode with the denunciation of "everyone tells themselves that and nothing ever changes."
Wed, Apr 20, 2016, 4:59am (UTC -6)
Another ridiculous, preachy, Lefty episode, where the resolution is completely bogus and short sighted. It's akin to saying "Let's all hold hands and sing kumbaya, and everything will be all better." I kind of expect that from the Left, though. It's not a great two-parter, at all. But it's not terrible, at least. I just found it very mediocre. I generally don't like these "back to earth" episodes, because my suspension of disbelief hits rock bottom. Also - Avery's acting was hilarious (as in terrible).
Tue, May 17, 2016, 12:48pm (UTC -6)
@Luke, again I agree completely!

"Then there's the episode's coda which is so over-the-top that I honestly expected Avery Brooks to look directly into the camera and say "only you can prevent it." " LOL! Perfect.

Luke, you and I see economics and politics in a very similar way. The writers, I believe, fell into their own leftist trap. The dichotomy they see in America is between compassionate vs. uncompassionate government as the binary choice, not government as the problem versus freer society as the solution, which is our Reaganist hypothesis. The irony is that these (I assume) leftist writers so elegantly recreated a realistic economic depression -- caused by big government -- that they didn't even realize this is the recurrent problem in our society. Hilarious, really.

Unfortunately, Luke, I think the writers were mostly trying to emulate the apathetic kingdom of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, and that the Bell Riots are the French Revolution (or even the mini-revolution seen in Les Miserables, especially with the make-shift barricade!). Many left-leaning types (the French included) lionize the actors of the French Revolution as heroes against tyranny, when in fact the Revolution led to indefensible crimes against humanity, mass killings of their own people, and ultimately the acclamation of a new and more deadly tyrant that drafted millions of Frenchmen to their doom in the Russian steppes.
Peter G.
Thu, May 19, 2016, 2:34pm (UTC -6)
@ Skywalker,

"The writers, I believe, fell into their own leftist trap. The dichotomy they see in America is between compassionate vs. uncompassionate government as the binary choice, not government as the problem versus freer society as the solution, which is our Reaganist hypothesis. "

I do not believe this is correct. The episode is not about what to do with the bottom-rung people in a capitalist society going forwards. It's about the beginnings of the outright caving-in of capitalism, which we are already seeing in progress today. It's partially due to technology replacing human labor, partially due to outsourcing labor, and partially due to production capability far exceeding demand, the latter of which is artificially restricted by cash flow based on employment.

Capitalism (i.e. employment/income-based market society) is a dead-end street, and that is exactly how Gene saw it back in the 60's as well. The Federation is a society that exists after the transition was already made, and where the needs of its citizens are provided based on production capability (e.g. replication and natural resource availability) and not based on individuals scrambling for resources.

Past Tense didn't say this explicitly, but I think it's fairly clear that the events in this episode are depicting the deterioration of the old style of economy, and desperate measures governments took to try to deal with it and prevent the system from collapsing. I very much doubt that the great Federation ideals emerged based on good common sense and future-thinking. On the contrary, Gene tells us again and again that all the great advances Humans made came as a result of terrible events such as the Eugenics Wars and WWIII.

Unless you want to think of Star Trek itself as fundamentally "leftist" then I don't really see the validity of the argument that this episode exists somewhere on the current right/left political spectrum. To me Past Tense is about the recurrent Trek theme that Humanity needs to eventually come together and help each other rather than trying to "win the game" and separate winners from losers. It's not about which model of capitalism is the superior one - right versus left. It's about the need to move past capitalism altogether.
Trek fan
Thu, Dec 1, 2016, 1:16am (UTC -6)
Weak, weak, weak. Even weaker than Part I, which I gave 2 1/2 stars, and I would only give 2 stars to Part II. Vin and BC are two of the most irritating plot ciphers I've seen on Star Trek, with their antics merely designed as filler (along with pointless hostage negotiation scenes and other boilerplate TV material) to generate enough artificial tension to keep us watching this episode. This annoying stuff does give us some really powerful scenes of Sisko shouting at both of them, but it's really not worth it. This episode should have been a one-parter; maybe then the plotting would have been tighter ala the classic "City on the Edge of Forever" of TOS. As such, this second part of the episode suffers from jettisoning the social commentary and emotional residue of the first part, merely following its predetermined course (Sisko replacing Bell) without a single surprise whatsoever and with plenty of ho-hum cop show material. Yuck. But I did like Clint Howard (Balok on TOS, among other Trek roles) in his quirky little cameo appearance with Dax and Bashir.
Mon, Dec 5, 2016, 10:30am (UTC -6)
I posted this in the comments for Past Tense Part 1, but I suppose it makes more sense here:

With how frequently the actors racked their shotguns to emphasize whatever it was they were saying at the moment, I'm wondering how they had any ammo left in their magazines. Maybe that's why Vin was so antagonistic the whole time. He realized that he was no longer in any real danger because B.C. and Sisko had completely unloaded their shotguns through unnecessary dramatic flourishes.

Actually, watching the episode in that light makes Vin a very interesting character. He knew he wasn't in any danger but went along with the whole thing anyway, antagonizing the hostage takers to see if they were genuine in their motives or just opportunists. He's worked in the sanctuary for who knows how long. He knows the plight of the residents and it eats away at the very fiber of his being him daily as he puts on the uniform. But he's just one cog in the machine, he has no real power. Then along comes the opportunity for real change via the Bell Riots. Finally, his chance to really stick it to the system! But it was started by a ghost who simply wants money and a trip to Tasmania. That's not going to generate any sympathy from the outside world. His dreams of shutting down the sanctuaries all but crushed, along comes Sisko, Bashir, and Webb preaching the very thing he hopes for. But he has to test them to see if they actually mean it. It's important that they are genuine if there is any hope for the outside world to gain the political will to take positive action. Thankfully, B.C. and Sisko love to argue and rack their shotguns unnecessarily! They've run them dry through their grandiose prose! Finally, Vin can antagonize them in just the right ways to prove they mean what they say without there being any real danger of any hostages being shot. He'd never risk that, he couldn't have that on his conscience.

That's also why he was so mad during the raid. He knew he wasn't in any danger, but the government's response actually put the hostages in danger. After the raid he is completely shocked by the aftermath of the government's "pacification" of the sanctuary. He knew the government had reached depraved lows, but he had no idea just how far it would go. Killing innocents and leaving orphans to hopelessly call out "mama." His disgust of the government fully cemented, he will go on to lead the watershed change in how society deals with the less fortunate. At the end, when Sisko asks him to report what he saw honestly, he replied "I was going to do that anyway." Indeed he would have. Truly, Vin was the unsung hero of the episode, his bravery bolstered in his knowledge that the shotguns were empty.
Sun, Mar 26, 2017, 4:07am (UTC -6)
Some trek fans hate Klingons, many people hate holodeck episodes others hate memory spirits/alien- telepath ghosts. I hate time travel episodes. For me this episode throws at me technobable, timeline disruption nonsense, and over the top preachiness plus boring filler.
Sun, Sep 10, 2017, 12:44pm (UTC -6)
All of the places Kira and O'Brien transported to, other than the "correct" one, were farther in the past than the 1995 production date. Might have been courageous to do at least one other that showed a post-2024 future...something right in the WW3 range.
Sun, Sep 10, 2017, 12:49pm (UTC -6)
Presumably "genetically engineered" Bashir could have figured out how to log on to the network. He surely didn't want to blow his cover, but who would have known, really? Sisko wouldn't be like "hmmm...that was some superhuman computer programming".
Sun, Sep 10, 2017, 12:56pm (UTC -6)
The episode talks about a trip O'Brien and Kira made to 2048, and it sure sounds horrible enough to negate any "social change" that may have been inspired in 2024. So it's hard to buy that altering 2024 affected 2371.
Thu, May 3, 2018, 3:44pm (UTC -6)
Part II is a significant step weaker than the terrific Part I. I'm left scratching my head at a number of what appear to be loose ends and the hurried ending that is effectively a reset button -- like the writers spending too much time on the wrong stuff in the episode or not having a coherent way of how everything gets back to normal.

Most of the episode is typical hostage stuff, relations between hostages and their captors -- felt like watching an 90s police drama. The weight of the issues from Part I don't seem as powerful here. Plenty of filler material here like Dax/Bashir going to retrieve the com badge from the crazy dude, B.C.'s annoying nonsense popping up from time to time. Bashir and the black woman had some good interactions but it didn't feel that significant. Kira/O'Brien visiting different time periods was also filler crap -- and most definitely farfetched.

Also, Sisko losing it when Vin acted up -- that wasn't well done. Brooks' huffing and puffing comes across as so forced. (His breakdown in "Far Beyond the Stars" also felt this way. It dragged on and was something that could have been improved upon in that episode.)

I don't get how Dax was just able to go through a sewer to get to the sanctuary and not even getting dirty! Wouldn't the cops think of trying that to stop the hostage situation? Anyhow, just details not taken into account by the writing/direction.

Barely 2.5 stars for "Past Tense, Part II" (couldn't the writers come up with a better episode title?) -- weak execution here. How about cutting the filler material and spending more time on what Sisko/Bashir do after they're released -- like how do they get beamed back to the Defiant? How is the timeline exactly restored back to normal -- it's a tad ridiculous. For a primarily Brooks episode, I thought he had a pretty decent performance in Part I but nowhere near as much in Part II. Overall "Past Tense" had plenty of ambition and good ideas for the whole alternate timeline theme but like many Trek 2-parters, the 2nd part can't deliver on a terrific 1st part.
Sun, Jun 10, 2018, 7:35pm (UTC -6)
I enjoyed it, but it was chilling. We ARE locking up innocent people in concentration camps, and there are far too many people who will defend that action. I can't write any more or I will get angry.
Thu, Aug 9, 2018, 3:33pm (UTC -6)
Why do so many right wring fucknuts watch Star Trek? What do you fascist gits even get out of it? Do you just like pretty spaceships? Go wank over Trump.
Dave in MN
Thu, Aug 9, 2018, 6:26pm (UTC -6)
@Capt Baggins

What gives you tthe right to dictate who can be a fan of Star Trek?

People are allowed to have different philosophies than you, and they are also allowed to watch what they like without being shamed for it.

Maybe you should focus on your blatant hostility to different viewpoints. That's not a very Trek-like attitude.
Fri, Aug 10, 2018, 10:37am (UTC -6)
I agree with the consensus here that Part 2 is a let down. The events surrounding the Bell riots just aren't that interesting in and of themselves.

3 stars.
Fri, Aug 10, 2018, 2:43pm (UTC -6)
I will always be hostile to fascists, thanks.
Dave in MN
Fri, Aug 10, 2018, 9:11pm (UTC -6)
@Csptain Baggins

You should be happy a supposed "fascist" is watching, discussing and being influenced by Trek.

Oh, and since we're speaking of fascism, I must note it's actually fascist for you to declate who can and can't comment here when it's NOT YOUR WEBSITE.
Sat, Aug 11, 2018, 8:14pm (UTC -6)
@Dave - While Baggins comment was less IDIC than I'd like ir was more wondering what the right sees in it all than telling you to get lost. In either case I strongly agree with

"You should be happy a supposed "fascist" is watching, discussing and being influenced by Trek."
Dave in MN
Sun, Aug 12, 2018, 10:50am (UTC -6)
@ Robert

Why do some people assume right- leaning people won't watch a show that is heavily based on debating ethics?

If anything, the comment section here proves that political philosophy is no barrier to being receptive to Trek.
Sun, Aug 12, 2018, 4:55pm (UTC -6)
@Dave - It depends on which philosophies of a person lean right. Often these days there seems to be a big anti-globalism/heightened xenophobic aspect to much of the right. I really don't understand how those people enjoy Star Trek. Can people who are economically or religiously or other forms of conversations enjoy Trek? Yes. Odo and Kira in particular are fairly conservative in different ways to use a few examples. But the strongest, most prevalent, unavoidable message in Trek is pro diversity. I wonder how some people can enjoy Trek.
Sun, Aug 12, 2018, 6:39pm (UTC -6)
@Robert, et al.

Without defending or dondemning the position, I never found Trek to be pro-diversity in the intellectual sense. Trek has pretty clear biases on the modes of thinking it condones. Phenological diversity—race, gender, etc—is a different story. The Trek idea is it doesn’t matter where you come from or what you look like, but it does matter what you think and believe.
Sun, Aug 12, 2018, 8:29pm (UTC -6)
@Elliot - Welcome back stranger!

I agree with you there, Trek has a PoV for sure. But I don't think you need to agree with all of it's PoVs to enjoy it, at least I hope not. But there are a few PoVs that feel fundamentally incompatible with being a Trek fan and xenophobia is one.
Peter G.
Sun, Aug 12, 2018, 9:40pm (UTC -6)
@ Elliott, Robert, et al,

While I do agree that Trek has a POV in general, I think this was absolutely more pronounced in certain series than others. I would suggest that TNG and VOY promoted a sort of very purist-oriented view of enlightenment where one precise view and no others can be considered enlightened. This would place both shows squarely in the camp Elliott suggests, although TNG went out of its way more so than VOY did to explain that while one way of thinking is fundamentally better it's important to respect alternative views (even though they're wrong). Picard was always a great champion of speaking for dissenting views, even if he agreed they were inferior in some absolute sense.

DS9 obviously took a much less purist view of values, and while it might as a result come off as looking rebellious towards Trek values, I think the intent was actually to show that there are merits to other belief systems. DS9 still did seem to categorize certain things as "wrong" in absolute terms, but usually these were individual actions (such as Quark selling weapons) rather than a culture of way of life. I have to be honest, DS9 is the only Trek series to make me value the input of cultures such as Bajoran, Klingon, and even Cardassian, as having really good points to make. The Federation may be better in absolute terms, but they still have a lot to learn. TNG allowed for no such imperfection in the Federation ethos, as even the TNG Klingons, while cool and all, are never taken seriously as having a legitimate point of view that can stand on its own two feet.

ENT completely jumped the shark in this department, basically depicting Humans as being the only reasonable people in the universe, and everyone else is either duplicitous or stupid.

Which leads to my main point, which is that if real diversity is what's on the table then I think that TOS destroys all of the other shows, with the possible exception of DS9 in certain respects. In TOS while Kirk and the others did claim that humanity had evolved, they never seemed to have the pretension that it was the best answer out there, or that all other cultures would eventually learn to be just like them. A lot of the series features a very human-centric view of Spock, showing him as being the outsider, and yet time and again he's portrayed as being more right than the others, more reasonable, and proving to them repeatedly the virtues of the Vulcan way. It's not that he's better, but rather than it takes a lot of time and work for them to come to understand the value of his way of doing things, and that's a process the other series never really took seriously. Data always had to learn from Picard; never the other way around. Everyone had to learn from Janeway; and so forth. Another thing cosmopolitan about TOS that the subsequent series lost was the allure of the exotic; strange new worlds were portrayed as exactly that: strange and new. There was never a sense of comparing or asking who's more enlightened or better between them and the Enterprise. More of the allure is to see the new culture and go "wow, look at that", and leave judgement aside. The only times the crew took issue was when the new cultures would take decidedly aggressive action against the Enterprise, in which case Kirk would have to set them straight (such as in A Taste of Armageddon).

I guess that's my 2 cents on diversity in Trek: TOS is where it's at. I agree that certain later series, especially TNG and VOY, didn't actually promote much diversity of opinion or values.
Mon, Aug 13, 2018, 3:20am (UTC -6)
@Peter G

"TNG allowed for no such imperfection in the Federation ethos, as even the TNG Klingons, while cool and all, are never taken seriously as having a legitimate point of view that can stand on its own two feet."

That is what disappointed me most about Discovery, since in the pilot you got a sense that the Klingons might actually have a point. They were shown as an alien culture with alien values but you could see where they were coming from in their thinking. It was a promising set-up which incomprehensibly devolved into Klingons=bad, Federation=good. If they had focused on the diplomatic side of things, trying to reconcile Federation and Klingon values and how to maintain peace between two very different cultures, then things might have turned out differently. But that was obviously far beyond the writers' capabilities and would have required serious consideration of a "globalism versus cultural freedom" debate, while the show's producers were clearly more interested in mindless entertainment.
Jason R.
Mon, Aug 13, 2018, 7:34am (UTC -6)
"Another thing cosmopolitan about TOS that the subsequent series lost was the allure of the exotic; strange new worlds were portrayed as exactly that: strange and new. There was never a sense of comparing or asking who's more enlightened or better between them and the Enterprise. More of the allure is to see the new culture and go "wow, look at that", and leave judgement aside. The only times the crew took issue was when the new cultures would take decidedly aggressive action against the Enterprise, in which case Kirk would have to set them straight (such as in A Taste of Armageddon). "

Could you pleaae give some examples of this? I can't recall a single TOS episode that left "judgment aside" or just looked at a strange culture without judgment. By my recollection, 90% of the episodes were Kirk judging an inferior alien culture with 10% being a superior culture (or super being) passing judgment on the crew (with Spock occasionally doing so).
Peter G.
Mon, Aug 13, 2018, 1:05pm (UTC -6)
@ Jason R.

"Could you pleaae give some examples of this? I can't recall a single TOS episode that left "judgment aside" or just looked at a strange culture without judgment. By my recollection, 90% of the episodes were Kirk judging an inferior alien culture with 10% being a superior culture (or super being) passing judgment on the crew (with Spock occasionally doing so)."

Sure. I'll try to give examples of different kinds of non-judgement.

-Mudd's Women: They encounter miners who are even Federation citizens, and yet have no overt condemnation of judgement on these guys with really rough attitudes who treat women as commodities they're about to acquire. Granted, the episode itself does have something to say about obsessing over looks and treating people as plastic things, but nevertheless the local 'culture' the miners have is never taken to task.

-The Menagerie: Compared to The Cage, great pains are taken here to show the Talosians as not being Evil but rather just so unlike us that it's hard to discuss the matter. They can, however, be reasoned with, and that's the one area where TOS did insist on one universal value: the ability to use reason to solve problems.

-Balance of Terror: The Romulans are shown as being a surprisingly noble people, through the portrayal of their Commander. He comes across as remarkably respectable despite the fact that he just killed many Federation people. He doesn't even register as a "bad guy".

-Galileo Seven: Almost a tour de force on showing culture shock and how the humans *were* judging the Vulcan because of their fears. This one requires huge effort on behalf of the crew members to give Spock his due respect, but they do eventually recognize that different doesn't mean bad.

-Space Seed: Kirk's final judgement seems to recognize that despite being unable to co-exist with normal humans, Khan's people do have a greatness and nobility to them and should be allowed to live on their own.

-A Taste of Armageddon: No one was going to say boo about this until the idiots tries to claim the Enterprise as a casualty.

-Amok TIme: Never is any of this referred to as being a bunch of primitive nonsense, even though to a North American sensibility is surely is.

-Metamorphosis: They are more interested to learn about The Companion than they are to judge it or condemn it.

-Friday's Child: They never comment on the culture and rather spend their efforts trying to reason with them.

-The Empath: Not much room for judging the advanced race here; only to learn what their purpose is.

Of course you're right that there are many episodes where Kirk takes exception to how things are going on a planet and interferes, but as far as I can tell this is always because the culture has already been interfered with and he wants to 'free' the people to develop for themselves. We can see this in The Apple, Return of the Archons, Patterns of Force, A Piece of the Action, A Private Little War, and many others. All of the cases where Kirk interferes (or at least the vast majority) are either because the locals are attacking the Enterprise or its crew, or because an outside force like the Klingons or various Evil Computers have taken over.
Wed, Aug 29, 2018, 8:03am (UTC -6)
A great ep and really new and original for star trek. it almost looked like an episode of The Wire. Very gritty and smart, the hostage situation was extremely tense. I love how in this distoia the cops dont even care they just come in and shoot everyone and peace out winout asking many questions. It predates The Wire but manages to tackle many if the same issues.
Fri, Oct 5, 2018, 3:52pm (UTC -6)
Teaser : **, 5%

We begin with Clichéd Hat Dude being a cartoon idiot. Sisko-Bell convinces him not to shoot people while suddenly Bashir is an expert at SWAT team tactics. The grumpy dude joins the fray, for all the good it does. After a few more minutes of tedious Law & Order: Quantum Victims Unit, um, “drama,” Bashir expresses his concern that history is going to kill Sisko, or something.

Act 1 : *, 17%

Let me say off the bat that the music in this episode is a step up—I think this is David Bell, again. The men watch the fruits of their labour on the Zuckerberg Live Streaming TV (I love that the imagined future of media has essentially the contemporary local news, but on channel 90 instead of 7—oooo the FUTURE). They are joined by Webb, who is dismayed that his peaceful demonstration has deteriorated to this. There's a brief conversation about ghosts and gimmes, that, on the one hand is upsetting because it reinforces class stereotypes that this whole revolution is supposed to be fighting against, and on the other is hilarious because it sounds like Scooby and the gang planning to look for clues in the old haunted mansion. Dax and Zuck are also watching the show, and she determines to join them.

On the Defiant, with the timeline altered, and apparently the human race extinct (??!!), Kira decides to go ahead with their Scooby plan and search for clues THROUGH TIME. Miles manages to techno-whittle their windows to ten likely possible time-frames, and Kira has a bandaid slapped on her nose, because The Voyage Home™. She and Miles beam to San Francisco, and the abundance of funky clarinet places them circa 1930. A local couple emerges from the speakeasy, and we engage in Comedy™.

SISKO: How many ghosts do you know who you can really trust?

Well, there's Casper, he's pretty friendly. Slimer's not too bad once you get to know him. I'd steer clear of Binky, Inky, Pinky and Clyde, though; those dudes are dangerous. Sisko is unconvinced and his patience, magnanimous and vast as it is, is just about exhausted with Clichéd Hat Man. His plan, is to trade the hostages for their (it's unclear whom this refers to) freedom, some money and a trip to
beautiful Tasmania. He actually says at one point, “just to prove I'm not such a *bad* guy,” in case the audience was to busy picking its noses to notice that the writers are creating “depth” in the villain. Yeah.

Anyway, Webb would prefer some airtime for the protestors on ZuckTV, and Sisko (I assume drawing on his knowledge of history) wants the SDs shut down. They also think the government should re-instate the Federal Employment Act. This is where the episode truly begins to show its cowardice, or maybe it's just laziness. Hatman thinks their proposal is fantasy, quite unlike his plan to retire to an African island. Apparently, in 2024, there aren't enough jobs for everyone. As I mentioned in part I, the economic issues which led to the creation of Sanctuary District aren't abstract—and were in as full implementation in 1994 as they are in 2018. So...let's talk about Neoliberalism.


Like all systems, there is a philosophical component—an ideology of Neoliberalism—as well as a practical component. The ideology is essentially free-market fetishism; competition is the defining characteristic of human relations. People are consumers and their democratic liberty is expressed through their choice in consuming the goods created by capitalists. Attempts to promote economic equality through taxation, regulation, labour-organisation (unions), etc. are distortions of the market which naturally sorts people into economic classes based on merit, rewarding those who “succeed” and punishing those who lack ability, ambition or work ethic. Thus, inequality itself is seen to be a virtuous mode of being for society—equalising the classes would be require the theft of wealth from those who succeeded in the system for the benefit those who didn't—and, naturally, are incapable of generating additional wealth, which would damage the economy for everyone. The ideology is defined in detail by its creators in the manifesto “The Road to Serfdom” (1944). In the wake of the Second World War, this ideology, born in Austria, was self-consciously exported to various Western states and found a home in academia, business, and especially the Think Tanks (chiefly the American Enterprise Institute, Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation). Eventually, the ideology became radicalised by some of its disciples, such as Milton Friedman, who began advocating for corporate monopoly.

Neoliberalism festered and grew in these mostly theoretical circles for several decades while the world governments tended to apply Keynesian principles to their recovering economies (progressive taxation, with very high rates for the wealthy, economic planning, social welfare). Of course, the USA and USSR re-contextualised the old imperial model in what we call the Cold War, creating a number of volatile political conditions around the world. In the 1970s, this unstable cloud met the thunderclap of underground Neoliberalism in a great economic collapse. Neoliberal ideology, strengthened by reactionary attitudes towards the sexual revolution and civil rights movement took hold in mainstream political thought and media. Eventually, the ideology overflowed into the executive offices of the Western superpowers in the persons of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Through the IMF, the World Bank, the Maastricht Treaty. and the World Trade Organisation, Neoliberal policies were imposed, often without democratic consent, on much of the world. Its adoption included the transformation of political parties that once belonged to the left: Labour in the UK and the Democrats in the US, as well as other parties in places like Canada, Australia and Germany.

Neoliberal thinkers always seized the opportunity to impose unpopular (and dangerous) new policies in the wake of crises, such as the Iraq War, Pinochet's coup, natural disasters, etc. Since the 1980s, economic growth has slowed to a trickle for all except the economic elite, whose windfalls are always celebrated in the media, while the languishing lower classes internalise the Neoliberal ideology that their economic failures are their own—the result of their lack of ability, ambition, and/or work ethic. The privatisation and marketisation of public services such as energy, water, transportation, healthcare, education, and prisons has enabled corporations to set up tolls for essential assets and charge rent for their use, either to citizens or to government. “Rent” is another term for unearned income. When you pay an inflated price for a train ticket, only part of the fare compensates the operators for the money they spend on fuel, wages, track-maintenance, etc. This rent-economy compounds the problems of increasing wealth-inequality. Moreover, within the economic elite, wealth is transferred from producers to creditors, ie the beneficiaries of this unearned income. This economic disempowerment leads to political apathy and disengagement, diminishing the voice of the working class in politics and strengthening the hegemony of the Neoliberal establishment.

Vast unemployment is sine qua non for Neoliberal “success,” as it were, because wealth is concentrated in the form of unearned income, which has no labour value, and thus the higher the dividends of unearned income, the less labour required for economic growth.


Thus, Sisko's “they'll find jobs...they *have* to” reads as simplistic drivel. If you're a conservative who has bought the Neoliberal ideology, you would (rightly) point out that a job without a function is unearned income. You aren't producing anything, you are just being paid to exist. And if you're a leftist, Sisko's attitude reads as embarrassingly naïve—we don't need to change the system, we just need to hold hands and have some compassion! This hippy-dippy pigeonhole is exactly where the Neoliberal politic would like the left to live, in the ambivalence of inaction.

And...and...just what is the Federation economy, again? There is no money because people labour for the exclusive purpose of bettering themselves and society (see “The Neutral Zone”). If there were money, people would be paid...simply to exist. Here is your universal income quota, Captain Picard, low-level plasma-scrubber, DMZ farmer, Federation president, Bajoran refugee. Well that's seems silly...why don't we just get rid of money altogether, since we are abolishing economic inequality. Good idea, theoretical conversation-haver. But instead of drawing the connection between the 24th-century “utopia” DS9 is so quick to mock and the gritty reality failing to move in that direction has actually produced now, in 2018, in 1994 and in the imagined 2024, Sisko delivers his flaccid remarks while Clichéd Guy dreams of Tasmania. Great message there, guys.

Sisko at least has the sense to put Webb on ZuckTV instead of Hatman, knowing that the American public are suckers for “the guy next door” (WASP men with kids). So Webb begins to tell his story, but is almost immediately censored by the NSA. Grumpy guy tempts fate, letting his captors know that their task is futile. Then a government representative makes contact to begin negotiations. Hatman belligerently puts sympathetic social worker lady in front of the monitor, gun to temple. Dun dun dun.

Act 2 : **, 17%

While Webb chats with the rep, Sisko takes Hatman aside and suggests he take up yoga or something to relieve his stress before he ends up hurting a hostage. Yeah...why are we putting up with this idiot, again? Why hasn't Benjamin “the Fist” Sisko enlisted the help of his doctor and Webb to tie him up or lock him in a closet? Oh, right. Drama. Of course.

The rep, Preston, agrees to meet with Webb and Sisko-Bell. They repeat the demands they explained to Hatman in the previous act.

SISKO: What we want is to get out from behind these walls, to stop having to depend on handouts.
WEBB: That's right. All we're asking for is a chance to get back on our feet again. We don't deserve to be locked up in here.

Yeah? And then what? Obviously, nobody should be living in a ghetto like this; it's abhorrent. But the only suggestion being made as to how to solve the unemployment issue is the re-instatement of the FEA, which a. wouldn't do anything to deal with the cause of unemployment, and b. would require the accedence of the Federal government, not the god-damned governor of California.

Meanwhile, Bashir notices the social worker is displaying symptoms of hypoglycaemia. What follows is a lovely scene, distilled in the line “everybody tells themselves [that it's not their fault].” This is an important point, and if the writers could have been bothered (or had the courage) to propose a solution to the problem, the sociological issue of citizen action would be a welcome thread in the political tapestry here. But again, we aren't getting that. It's ALL emotion without substance.

The next morning, Grumpy gets up to...escape, I guess. Hatman is roused and aims his gun, but Sisko counters with his gun. I guess we couldn't just leave for commercial on a pensive note, but had to have more DRAMA.

Act 3 : **.5, 17%

I'll credit the episode this: Frank Military's comical performance makes Avery Brooks look positively nuanced in their scenes together. And that's despite the fact that he is screaming at the man like a rabid dog. Webb (I think he said he used to be a teacher), steps right up to Hatmans' gun barrel and casually tosses it aside. Yeah, that's believable. Oh, but Sisko isn't done, he throws the old grump against the wall...oh wait, TWO walls. That'll show him.

VIN: What do you want me to say? That I feel for them? That they got a bad break? What good would it do?
SISKO: It'd be a start.

Sure, I can agree to that. It would indeed be a start. And then, what? Anything? Bueller?

We cut away to the Scooby gang again. This time there's a weed-mobile and electric guitar, meaning it must be the groovy 1960s. A couple emerges an starts yelling “Herbert,” or whatever. You know, it would have been funny(ish) if in every timeframe, Kira and O'Brien encountered the same pair of actors, but dressed according to the period. Maybe they could have afforded to give them some lines other than “Wooooow.”

Webb's son is brought in to the hostage situation. Yay, more good ideas. Bashir manages to get the social worker some medicine and the guards try to pull at Bashir's heartstrings, for all the good it does. Again, the Bashir scenes would are very welcome in underscoring the more human side of the process of revolution. Big changes often require sacrifices, even from those who do not wish to participate. That's a difficult truth, and I applaud the writers acknowledging it.

Preston has returned to inform Sisko and Webb that the governor, in his great mercy, has agreed to reduce the criminal charges against the SD occupants. This is funny for several reasons, chief among them, that had this show been written 7 years later, the principle charges against them would probably be terrorism. Maybe that's why Sisko wanted the white guy in front of the cameras. Oh, the governor is going to form a committee, because he can't be bothered to haul his ass down to San Francisco and give Sisko the finger personally.

Dax has managed to sneak into the district through the sewers. Uhhhh.....sure. Dax is a trill after all, so maybe her symbiont created a telepathic link with the alligators and mutant turtles which allowed her to manage what the national guard could not. Anyway, she uses up all her clever points getting in because, having not bothered to change out of the high-heels and fancy garb she wore to Zuck's party, her steps are so loud that a bum is able to sneak up behind her easily.

Bashir can't log on to the net and Sisko is confused because history recorded that the protestors were able to broadcast their message to millions. Right on cue, Hatman emerges with a new hostage, Dax.

Act 4 : **.5, 17%

After some painful dialogue, the endgame is initiated. Dax has set her combadge to alert any passing time-travellers to their location, but one of the gimmes stole it from her. Since Dax should have absolutely no idea how the three of them ended up in the 21st century to begin with, I guess we have to assume that time-travel is really easy for grease-monkeys, shapeshifters and terrorists. Sisko sends Dax and Bashir off to locate the badge and says he will join them when and if he can—he feels he must complete Bell's historical task first. Bashir, since he's human, offers to stay behind and help Sisko, and Jadzia thinks she can get Zuck to undo the parental lock on their internet.

What follows is a scene that is unapologetic and offensive padding. They retrieve Jadzia's combadge from a mentally-ill person and the whole scene is played for comedy. Ah, good. Well, let me tell you something about homelessness in San Francisco; it's an epidemic. The city has become an acropolis, a Disneyfied version of itself that serves as a playground for the wealthy who work in Silicon Valley. The tiny caste of people who can reasonably be called working class and afford to live in the city do so at the beneficence of a few landlords and some tenant-friendly ordinances that maintain a scant few rent-controlled homes. Otherwise, you're either a rich person who uses the city's resources, works in tech, and owns a multi-million-dollar home, or you're a homeless person. If you take a trip to the theatre or the opera, you'll enjoy a stroll through tent-cities littered with faeces and discarded heroin needles on your way to an over-priced winebar. Be sure to watch your step over the half-dead beggar when you call your Uber to return you to your $3.5K studio apartment or mansion so you can get a good night's rest before you excuse yourself past the old woman collecting empty bottles (which you and your friends probably littered the street with during the pre-show party last night) on your way to the Google bus (gratis, of course), which mercifully retrieves you so you can begin your very difficult day of designing algorithms that make it easier for corporations to target their ads on Facebook. Oh, and be sure to complain to your seat-mate about the city taxes. After all, *you* don't use the public transport. *Your* children don't attend public school. The audacity. See? Comedy.

Next thing you know, Jadzia's right back with Mark Zuckerberg, asking him to help her get Sisko his Wifi back. He agrees to aid the criminals, which is fair, considering his entire industry is morally bankrupt, though perfectly legal. Must be nice to be a pretty white girl. Jump cut and the SD residents are making their youtube video confessions over the net. This triggers the governor, who orders Preston to proceed with the shooting.

Act 5 : ***, 17%

Miles and Kira report that history post 2048 has been radically changed. I know there's a little thread on this page about the inconsistency between the history post-Star Trek VIII and what we are discerning here, but, I'm not really that bothered—after all, in 1994, we were supposed to be having a massive eugenics war, instead of just bombing the middle east for oil reserves. Apparently, whatever Miles saw in '48 was “rougher” than it should be, so maybe in the original timeline, World War III was more of a Cold War until the last years before Cochrane's flight, and thus physical damage or social chaos was minimal. Whatever, this episode has enough problems without dwelling on continuity errors. They choose a likely timeframe and manage to land in the right place—Polk and California, which happens to have a great seafood place on corner...if you can afford it. They make contact with Dax.

Meanwhile, the hostages and rioters are bonding over sportsball. The approach of helicopters alerts them that the National Guard is about to breach. Webb sends his son away and Clichéd Guy gives him his hat because, um, character development. Yeah. The shootout begins, quick and brutal—Sisko takes a (non-fatal) bullet for the grumpy guy. He takes charge from the National Guard, which is completely fucking absurd, but whatever. Webb was killed, the first of many in the wake of the “pacification” of the District. Grumpy decides to place Bashir's and Sisko-Bell's ID cards on two of the corpses. History is saved, Sisko is healed, and Bashir discovers that Sisko's occupies Gabriel Bell's entry in the history books.

Episode as Functionary : **, 10%

Despite some really fuzzy logic, the ending carried an effective emotional punch, thanks in large part to an above-average musical score and set-design. As I said, the humanising bits with Bashir and the hostages were nice and would have really helped to round out the story if—and ONLY if, I'm afraid—the tale had the courage to have a radical opinion.

The Sanctuary Districts are an effective way to showcase the symptoms of late Capitalism, but the episode is either too afraid or too ignorant to call a spade a spade. Instead of a frank political discourse, we get endless hand-wringing about compassion and apathy and the fucking Federal Employment Act [eyeroll].

With the exception of Hatman (B.C.), who serves absolutely no discernible function in the story, most of the guest roles were effective. Siddig and Brooks turn in mostly subdued but effective performances (again, with the exception of that ridiculous wall-slamming scene). Jadzia is pretty good, but her scenes with Zuckerberg also fail to get serious about the episode's ostensible topic.

If the time-jumping scenes had tried at all beyond “Hey look, it's the 30s, because jazz! Hey look, it's the 60s, because hippies!” it could have served as welcome comic relief, but in execution, it's just tedious to sit through.

It's a shame, really. This two-parter had all the ingredients to be an extremely effective Trek story, had it only the courage to face the *ideas* behind the tragic circumstances which compose the drama. If you treat the story as a standard escape from the wrong time adventure, it's mostly tolerable, sometimes excellent. If you try to engage seriously with the moral dilemma, I'm afraid it's a great big disappointment.

Final Score : **
Fri, Oct 5, 2018, 3:54pm (UTC -6)
Let the record show, I meant to write "Australian island," not "African." I need more coffee...
James Tiberius
Fri, Oct 5, 2018, 7:38pm (UTC -6)
Strangely it's a rather accurate episode, as this is how modern neoliberal governments see the "unemployment problem". Give people jobs no matter how useless or meaningless, and everything will be okay. Never mind that the whole purpose of jobs in the first place is to get things done that need to be done - my pride is hurt too much by having to rely on "handouts" so I'm going to riot so I can get the privilege of being an elevator operator or some other totally pointless job, because I need it to validate my own self-worth in the eyes of my more "productive" fellow human beings.

The ghetto is a big problem, but if Bashir had proper 24th century training in psychiatric medicine you'd think he would be treating most of these people for their psychological distress due to extreme lack of self-esteem and ego-dominated thinking.
Sat, Oct 6, 2018, 2:09pm (UTC -6)
"Strangely it's a rather accurate episode, as this is how modern neoliberal governments see the 'unemployment problem'. Give people jobs no matter how useless or meaningless, and everything will be okay."

That's very true. For instance, Germany currently has its lowest unemployment level since 1991(!), which on the surface looks like a huge achievement - but in reality a bigger than ever proportion of people are in low-paying jobs or temporary jobs, including an entire special category of part-time jobs that only pay €400/month and that were created primarily to remove people from the unemployment statistics. A higher percentage of people than ever are in work, but working people's actual prosperity and contentment is lower than it was in the pre-neoliberal era due to enduring low pay and the fact a lot of these jobs are unfulfilling, low-status busy-work.
Sun, Oct 7, 2018, 5:50pm (UTC -6)

Just out of curiosity, may I ask you what your personal ideology is? Are you against a market economy in all forms (/in favor of a planned economy)? Or are you more of a social democrat? I'm not trying to be confrontational, I'm just curious what position you're critiquing this episode from.
Mon, Oct 8, 2018, 10:56am (UTC -6)

Hi there. Economically, I am to the left of most Social Democrats. I believe in heavy socialisation of public goods with a small "free" (regulated) market of luxury items. But just to be clear, I don't criticise this episode from my personal economic perspective, per sae--I just see that the writers failed to draw a connection between the fictional economy of the 24th century and the economic problems depicted in the story. I don't even know if it's worth speculating what the writers' economic views were, either, as the episode chooses to suggest the vague "just have some compassion, man." In my analysis, I find this attitude to be a byproduct of a Neoliberal agenda which neuters leftist thought, reducing natural Marxist counter measures into platitudes which pose no real threat to the system.
Mon, Oct 8, 2018, 2:04pm (UTC -6)

I don’t think the writers really meant to placate liberals by advocating a “be more compassionate” stance. The more likely explanation, to me at least, is that the writers wanted to make some sort of commentary about the homeless situation (the clearest analogy is state welfare) but after all the ‘hand-wringing” as you put it, they didn’t really have a good idea how to make things better either.

I’ll give the episode credit for at least showing that the private sector, through Zuckerberg here, would need to reach out to the would-be workers too in addition to the FEA. But obviously there’s a huge difference between Mark Z giving some limited media attention versus actually training them to work in companies like his.
Tue, Oct 9, 2018, 3:08pm (UTC -6)

Ah, I see. Thanks for clearing it up. The reason I don't see that as a problem is that the economy of the Star Trek franchise doesn't really make coherent sense, nor has the franchise ever truly explored how humanity got from World War 3 to the future depicted in "Enterprise" and "The Original Series". I don't think it would have worked to tie the drama into that when it's so vague. "The Next Generation" established that humanity doesn't need money, but how then do they pay for drinks in Quark's bar? On paper, it appears to be communist, since there's no money, but it's post-scarcity, so it's something completely different. My interpretation was always that the thing standing between us and "Star Trek"'s future is human nature, not varying economic systems.

But I do see your point about them not really coming up with a solution to the problem. I just think it stems from them not really being sure how Trek's economy works or how humanity solved the problems in this episode-in reality, there is no easy fix (imho).
Thu, Dec 13, 2018, 9:04pm (UTC -6)
Watching and commenting

--This is well done so far. I don't have much of an affinity for Sisko or Bashir, which makes this less engaging than it could be for me.

--I like that we're having a little Trek Time Travel Fun with Miles and Kira.

--Well, lots of political comments come to mind. But I don't wanna go there.

--And all's well that ends well. The ending "How could they have let things get so bad?" asks Bashir. Ah, Julian.
Thu, Dec 13, 2018, 9:44pm (UTC -6)
Hmm. Was surprised to see the rave reviews for Part 1. The story was fine but this two part offering is not up there with the great Trek eps, IMO.

I can't imagine getting to a place where I would put a Sisko-centric episode up there with the greats. Brooks is not good. He isn't good in this. He occasionally has decent scenes. He's often truly terrible. It really throws cold water on many an ep, for me.

Definitely, we come up against some of those paradoxes that Janeway always dismissed a giving her a headache, and I always followed her lead. I have no trouble ignoring the paradoxes, or the techno babble, though it did bother me a bit, that they seemed to have come much too close to figuring out a way to easily time travel as they wished, using the transporter.

Yes, indeed, the story was preachy and simplistic, and didn't really show a sophisticated, realistic understanding of mental illness, homelessness, or even human nature, in general. I prefer the eps that aren't preachy and simplistic, but I appreciate and accept that these sorts of "how the Earth became Utopia" eps are a part of the Trekverse.

A good offering overall.
Thu, Dec 13, 2018, 10:19pm (UTC -6)
"I just see that the writers failed to draw a connection between the fictional economy of the 24th century and the economic problems depicted in the story."

That's because there really isn't any connection.

The 24th century economy (however it works exactly) hinges on the fact that they have the technology (replicators etc) to sustain a post-scarcity society. This kind of tech simply didn't exist in 2024.

In other words, that wasn't the point of the episode at all. Neither is this an episode about rivaling economic philosophies. It's amazing how easily people read political agendas into stories that have a very simple message:

Have some compassion for your fellow human beings. Don't lock up thousands of people behind walls... and then forget about them.

Sounds obvious and superfluous? Look around you. Look what's happening in care-centers of the elderly, orphanages, hospitals, prisons. This kind of thing happens all the time, yet very few people care about it. It's not just "the government" but the citizens as well (and I'm speaking from personal experience here).

Bashir summed it up nicely when he said this:

"Causing people to suffer because you hate them is terrible, but causing people to suffer because you have forgotten how to care? That's really hard to understand."

THAT was the point of the episode.

BTW not having a solution to the problem at hand is not an excuse to do this kind of thing to people. Not having a solution does not give us permission to make things worse, nor does it give us permission to dehumanize them.
Fri, Dec 14, 2018, 3:28pm (UTC -6)

I concur.


Yes this episode was preachy-no denying it. However, I'm more than fine with it. Some situations just require it.
Bobbington Mc Bob
Tue, Jun 11, 2019, 2:16pm (UTC -6)
I did not expect to find tears rolling down my face in this episode, but there they were, in the scene where everyone is reading their story out to the world on the net. This is definitely the first DS9 episode to make me feel that way, where it was common with TNG and its high concept philosophy.

That was because 2024 looked so feasibly a date in our not so distant future, and rammed it right up against what it led to - the beginnings of The Federation.

It brings to mind Patrick Stewart's story of a letter he received from a police officer, which told of how, when he was sick of seeing how shitty people can be to each other, how bad things can be, he put on TNG because then he can believe one day it will be ok.

This episode puts up the worries we have about our own time, and the reasons we love the Roddenberrian vision so much, right next to each other. And the effect is striking.

Its not quite going to knock Measure of A Man off my top spot, but this two parter definitely sneaks its way into my top 4, simply because of how well it exemplifies why Star Trek is so important.
Wed, Aug 14, 2019, 8:13am (UTC -6)
Minor fun note: I always am amused how near-future stories get some predictions wrong. In this case, it’s tattoo culture. The show suggests that visible (or perhaps all) tattoos are either frowned upon or actually forbidden in the workforce. In reality, we are seeing tattoos becoming increasingly mainstream to the point that many employers no longer require covering up tattoos. I even have been asked casually by acquaintances “so what are your tats?” and they are slightly skeptical when I say I don’t have any.
Wed, Aug 21, 2019, 12:17pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G. I've recently disagreed with you strongly elsewhere, so I feel like I should say that your comment on Star Trek and diversity of values is spot on and well put together.
Peter G.
Wed, Aug 21, 2019, 12:27pm (UTC -6)
Thanks, Stejda.
Jamie Mann
Sun, Dec 22, 2019, 4:10pm (UTC -6)
Stop me if you've heard this one: some Star Trek officers are mysteriously sent back in time (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) to a bit of American history/future-history, where they must figure out how to maintain the original timeline after accidentally disrupting it.

It's a plot which has been used too many times, going all the way back to TOS, and this double-header makes things worse by throwing in some overly complex techno babble and layering some overly heavy handed social commentary atop the future-past events.

It's also difficult to drum up any enthusiasm for the storyline - after all, by it's nature, this is a zero-sum episode, where everything at the end is reset to restore the timeline. Even the final set piece where the building is stormed isn't particularly dramatic, since it had to be bloodless for TV broadcast. Not to mention the convenient hack which allows Sisco to return to the future virtually unscathed despite having lived under a virtual death sentence since deciding to assume Bell's identity. And the final cop-out where the question as to how such a society could come about is answered with a shrug.

To be fair, I first saw this episode after First Contact, which did a far better job (albeit with a much bigger budget) of handling a future-past-intervention plot. And some of the social commentary points they make are arguably even more relevant in 2019 than they were back in 1995.

But sadly, it's not an story I'm likely to return to.
Rafael Balbo
Sun, Apr 26, 2020, 1:21pm (UTC -6)
Well, i must say, reading the comments have been even more fun than the episode itself. Since people started commenting in 2007 all the way to the end of 2019, we see some people complaining about the episode being a little preachy, to having to much preachy, and suddenly in the Trump era it becomes "lefty", it "has an agenda", "it's for liberals" and the like. We see their time resonating in their comments.
But i must say that after that i did have some pretty interesting discussions too. I agree that Star Trek never cares to explain how human society transitioned to a post-scarcity state, and indeed seems to contradict itself between different series in episodes. Also i agree it has nothing to do with communism - at least not in the way it's understood today, but it is a post-capitalist society. One we actually should aspire to. Star Trek is about an utopia that we should dream and aspire - there's dystopic sci-fi (or space fantasy) everywhere else already.
Wed, Jul 8, 2020, 9:35pm (UTC -6)
The year is 2020. There is a pandemic and protests against police violence happening. It seems Star Trek predicted these things almost 30 years ago.
Wed, Jul 8, 2020, 10:01pm (UTC -6)
Sorry, this episode was bullshit. The mantra of "we want jobs" as if that was the solution to an entire system of exploitation, theft and slavery is simply an endorsement of that system, with the problem lying in the administration of it rather than the inherent structure of it and the type of thinking behind it. The writers were not even brave enough to say that everyone is entitled to a reasonable standard of living, endorsing the guilt-ridden consensus of American society that sacrifice is a requirement of living.
Thu, Dec 3, 2020, 11:23am (UTC -6)
Sisko and Bashir find themselves in the middle of a government mandated homeless enclave in the year 2024 that will experience a riot that Trek history says will prompt "social change". In the view of the Trek writers, "social change" is equated with more government spending (Sisko makes reference to the "Federal Employment Act" as a "cure" for homelessness) and by "the need to care". It’s all left-liberal emoting with no substance behind it. Obviously it’s wrong to throw the homeless into what amounts to a prison for the “crime” of being so, but it’s also wrong to think that the “cure” for homelessness is increased government spending. Our government has been "fighting poverty" for most of the last century. Tens of trillions of dollars have been spent. Yet success never comes. When it becomes apparent that "poverty" is not being eradicated, our politicians throw yet more money at the supposed problem. The fact is that politicians have a vested interest in preventing the alleviation of poverty. If Americans are fully employed and earning continually increasing wages, who needs the thousands of welfare bureaucrats in Washington?

No matter how much money is thrown at the problem, there will always be both the government-defined poor as well as the natural nondisability poor; there will always be people who choose not to better themselves, due to various psychological or mental desires to remain in their current state. As I pointed out in my comment on Part I, the bulk of the homeless are drug addicts or people with mental problems. Those problems don’t magically vanish simply because government spends a lot of money.

Politicians will always claim that masses of poor people need their assistance (I’ve always found it interesting that politicians express their “compassion” by spending OTHER people’s money, NOT their own). This is why they continually redefine poverty and raise the income threshold for the "poverty line." In this way they can instantly have more poor people who need help from more taxpayer money and more bureaucrats. Our welfare and redistribution system sustains an industry of tens of millions of both public and private "aid" workers. Actual facts and outcomes of this industry's work demonstrate that its goal is not to eliminate poverty, but to expand government dependence through increased taxing, spending, and regulation.

The fact is that it is government policies, policies such as controls on prices and wages, restrictions on trade, overbearing regulations, zoning laws that prevent construction of cheap housing, and confiscatory taxes that destroy wealth and capital that make homelessness and poverty a problem, NOT some “fatal flaw” in capitalism such as “income inequality”. The assumption that capitalism is zero sum, ie the rich can become so ONLY by making others poorer, is irrational. By that logic, the “rest of us” would be much wealthier if there hadn’t been all those “greedy capitalist pigs” such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Andrew Carnegie, John Rockefeller, etc etc. keeping “so much money for themselves”. It’s utter nonsense. Those people CREATED wealth, in GIGANTIC quantities. People are MUCH better off, MUCH wealthier because of their innovations and hard work. Destroying that wealth via confiscation by government power is utter folly. An economy is NOT some “finite pie” that people fight over. Each of us makes his or her OWN pie. Am I really supposed to sit around being resentful because, say, Lebron James or Oprah Winfrey are worth hundreds of millions while I’m not? Would I really be wealthier if they weren’t so rich? No. It’s much more productive to make my life the best it can be.

Roddenberry and those who followed after him really were clueless about economics.
Thu, Dec 3, 2020, 11:46am (UTC -6)
I also find it ironic that the episode is set in San Francisco, the epicenter of leftist, “enlightened, progressive” thinking on the West Coast. What? Thoroughly adopting leftist policies results in lots of homelessness? How shocking (not)!
Paul M.
Thu, Dec 3, 2020, 12:29pm (UTC -6)
Yes, that must be why all the European social democracies have a big homelessness problem, as opposed to "corporate socialism for the rich and rugged individualism for the poor" of the US of A where no such problem ever existed.
Thu, Dec 3, 2020, 1:04pm (UTC -6)
"corporate socialism for the rich" is not capitalism. It was capitalism that created the wealth. Socialism results in enormous deprivation. This is historical fact.
Park G
Tue, May 18, 2021, 5:54pm (UTC -6)
Robbie, shush.
Sun, Aug 22, 2021, 2:19pm (UTC -6)

One thing is for sure Communism is not good for anyone.
Capitalism is far from perfect but I'd say its better than most alternatives I've heard of. There is maybe a day when a system that somehow allows for the whole world to enjoy base level prosperity but until then Capitalism is the best bet I guess.
Fri, May 13, 2022, 10:00pm (UTC -6)
Good Episode. I agree that it's not as good as Part 1, but this was still a fun watch all the way through. What a good story.

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