Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Visionary"

3 stars

Air date: 2/27/1995
Teleplay by John Shirley
Story by Ethan H. Calk
Directed by Reza Badiyi

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Commander, there is no careful way to question a Klingon." — Odo

During the Romulans' visit to DS9 for a briefing on the developments of the Dominion threat, a high dose of radiation subjects O'Brien to a series of unpredictable temporal displacements, causing him to periodically jump into the near future for short periods of time. While in the future, he witnesses curious events including his own death and worse.

What could've been an exercise in forgettable technobabble (something sister series Voyager has been offering plenty of lately) instead proves to be a fascinating high-concept story and a good outing for O'Brien. Chalk up another punchy direction for Reza Badiyi.

O'Brien's first jump puts him near Quark's bar, approximately five hours in the future, where he witnesses himself talking to Quark about wrecked holosuites. After a brief moment, O'Brien is whisked back into the present. At first, Bashir thinks that O'Brien seeing himself may be some sort of hallucination, but when Dax discovers a quantum singularity orbiting the station at a regular interval, she concludes the residual radiation in O'Brien's body is acting like a "magnet," causing him to be pulled in and out of time. Dax and Bashir begin working on a way to remove the radiation traces from O'Brien's body to prevent any more time shifts.

However, when a subsequent jump turns O'Brien into a witness of his own death—shot by a mysterious phaser-armed booby-trapped device placed behind a panel in some remote corridor of the station—he uses information from the future to avert being killed. Odo opens an investigation to determine why someone would place this device behind the wall panel.

But after saving himself once, another time shift allows O'Brien to see that he dies on the operating table due to undetectable radiation effects. A rather bizarre and intriguing scene has O'Brien talking to a Bashir in the future who gives him information on how he can be saved in the past.

Much to O'Brien's annoyance, Quark labels the engineer a "fortuneteller." The label takes on a whole new meaning when O'Brien jumps forward into the middle of a station evacuation—just in time to see the entire station destroyed.

The sudden way the story drops us right in the middle of this evacuation conveys a confusion and disorder that allows us to experience O'Brien's own bewilderment. One second we're in ops as the crew discusses Odo's investigation. The next second we're in a Runabout with two O'Brien's fleeing the station as it explodes. The sight of DS9 being destroyed is fairly spectacular, if not somewhat disconcerting—some modelmakers put in a great deal of work on a destructible mock-up. The results are quite good. (This is the first time we've seen the station actually destroyed.)

This gives the crew the task of figuring out what will cause the station's destruction and how to prevent it. With Sisko's approval, O'Brien figures a way of injecting himself with a specific amount of the radioactive substance in order to perform a controlled jump forward to just before when the station is to be destroyed.

This is just the beginning as O'Brien jumps forward in time to talk to his future self then witnesses a Romulan Warbird launching a surprise attack on the station. Miles from the past ends up switching places with Miles from the future, because past-Miles is so poisoned with radiation that experiencing another dose of temporal shifting would surely be deadly. Future-Miles instead goes back into the past with the crucial information. This is an interesting twist and a rather brave decision on the writers' part, which gives us some rather paradoxical food for thought. I'm glad they didn't let anything like restraint or plausibility get in the way of fresh storytelling.

In retrospect, the idea that the quantum singularity is really a cloaked Romulan ship makes a lot of sense. The fact is consistent with the establishment of Romulan power supplies given in TNG's "Timescape." That makes "Visionary" a mystery with a genuine audience-supplied clue.

The closing scene, where Sisko confronts the Romulans over their intentions of destroying the station and the wormhole because of their paranoia of Dominion invasion, is a satisfying jewel. I always like it when Sisko sports the no-nonsense attitude.

All in all, this is a great technobabble episode. Technobabble can never really be a story, but when it's used correctly and backed up with real storytelling, an episode like "Visionary" can be born. Sure, the concept is implausible. Sure, O'Brien's time jumps are admittedly way too convenient, placing him in the right place at precisely the right time. But the episode is, after all, called "Visionary."

Previous episode: Prophet Motive
Next episode: Distant Voices

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55 comments on this review

Chris
Mon, Sep 14, 2009, 11:06am (UTC -5)
The switching of 'future Miles' for 'present-day Miles' really made this a thought-provoking episode. I still can't decide whether I should be sad that 'present-day Miles' is dead or not. Or whether it was a great act of self-sacrifice on 'present-day' Miles's part.
Nic
Wed, Nov 11, 2009, 8:11am (UTC -5)
This was probably the most TNG-like episode DS9 ever did, and although I usually like these kinds of shows, it just doesn't seem like the right fit here. The thing that bothers me the most about this episode, though, is that the Romulans were perfectly right to destroy the wormhole, it would have saved millions of lives.
Marcel
Sat, Mar 26, 2011, 2:09pm (UTC -5)
Really liked this episode
Jay
Sat, Oct 22, 2011, 9:36am (UTC -5)
I'm not sure how important keeping the cloaking device is, since just two episodes ago in "Destiny", the Cardassians were able to farily easily detect the stolen Defiant with antiprotons. The Dominion's technology is considerably more advanced than the Cardassians. Doesn't make much sense to tolerate the Romulans and their outrageous demands over it.
Jack
Sat, Feb 25, 2012, 9:00am (UTC -5)
SO essentially O'Brien returns from the future where the station is destroyed to warm them to raise shields and prepare weapons. But...why not do that anyways, just in case.
Name
Tue, May 21, 2013, 4:49pm (UTC -5)
Way late, but Jack: Because they don't know what they're dealing with yet. It could be someone inside the station, or someone outside of it. Raising shields and powering up weapons could cause them to react prematurely (or for all they know raising the shields could cause the explosion), it was a point that was brought up in the episode.
Corey
Wed, Jul 31, 2013, 11:32am (UTC -5)
I definitely agree with the rating for this episode. Very enjoyable and very well done. Come to think of it, I don't think there's a single episode where Colm Meaney carries it that I haven't liked. He has a great "incredulous" look. Maybe Colm Meaney should have been Commander of DS9...but he's a non-com I think they are called, so guess that couldn't have happened.
Kotas
Wed, Oct 23, 2013, 8:53am (UTC -5)
Very good episode. O'Brien seems to get a lot of the more interesting episodes.

7/10
Cheyne
Fri, Nov 22, 2013, 12:43pm (UTC -5)
One thing about this, and the last episode, Odo seems to be finding out a lot from "friends" in Starfleet... when and where exactly did Odo make all of these friends in Starfleet? Seems to come up out of the blue given what we know about the character.
Elliott
Thu, Dec 26, 2013, 1:33pm (UTC -5)
On what grounds is the quite plentiful (and essentially, though hardly uniquely, pointless) technobabble less "forgettable" than in similar VOY episodes?

I enjoyed the 2 references to later TNG Romulan episodes (the reviewer mentioned the point from "Timescape" and "Face of the Enemy" about the black-hold-powered warp drive); there is also the line from Kira about the Romulan "floating his way home"--another reference to the goofy scene from "The Next Phase" where the phase-cloaked Romulan jumps through the Enterprise's hull into space and floats away.

Overall, the episode was pretty good, but I see not how an episode with roughly the same concept and conceits to temporal paradox, "Relativity", could receive the same score when the latter had grossly more personality, humour, wit and style. I don't think "Relativity" deserves more than 3 stars really, but this episode is nothing special.
Andy's Friend
Fri, Dec 27, 2013, 1:54pm (UTC -5)
I love this episode. It's "Cause and Effect", "Parallels", "Time Squared" and "Timescape" all in one. True sci-fi. I love it.

It's also in this episode that the dart game at Quark's is introduced, and that Bashir & O'Brien finally seem to embark on a course for the Alamo. What more is there to say? ;)

Even the score is great: mysterious and eerie, much like some episodes in the first couple of seasons of TNG ("Datalore" comes to mind): great stuff.

@Marcel: "Really liked this episode"
- Couldn't agree more.

@Corey: "I don't think there's a single episode where Colm Meaney carries it that I haven't liked."
- x2

@Nic: "This was probably the most TNG-like episode DS9 ever did"
- So true.

A very good, though very atypical episode for DS9. Three stars seems about right.
Josh
Fri, Dec 27, 2013, 11:55pm (UTC -5)
I haven't seen this episode in a long time. I suppose I'm due for a general DS9 rewatch anyhow while I wait for the new seasons of House of Cards, Veep, Game of Thrones, etc.

In the meantime, could we have a general site ban of the continuing defensive Voyager trolling?
Jack
Tue, Dec 31, 2013, 2:56pm (UTC -5)
After being exposed and essentially thrown off the station at the end of this episode, it's hard to believe that the Romulans wouldn't take their cloaking device back with them. But the Defiant continues to possess it hereafter.
Vylora
Fri, Feb 21, 2014, 8:18pm (UTC -5)
It seems reasonable to me that they didn't take bake the cloaking device. Overall the Romulans still want continued intel on the Dominion. Couple that with the deceit in just having a cloaked warbird hovering about it would be a bad idea to just break the treaty right then and there.

I would like to know if this action by the Romulans was government-sanctioned however or a rogue operation. If it was indicated one way or the other in this ep I missed it.

Also I've been wanting to point out that there is similar ideas or storylines across multiple trek series. A point of contention seems to be VOY for instance getting a lower rating for an ep than DS9 for a similar idea. It makes a lot of sense to me that one would get a better rating if it's execution is better. I'm not saying that as negative towards VOY as a whole, there's a lot of really great episodes there. But for the most part DS9 is just a better written show in my opinion. And a lot of similar ideas between the two show that. I understand that I may be now included in the VOY-bashing group despite my above statement of "...a lot of really great episodes" but so be it.

Despite a few contrivances I really did enjoy this one though.

3 stars.
Vylora
Fri, Feb 21, 2014, 8:21pm (UTC -5)
Lol I just realized I posted "take bake the cloaking device". Obviously I meant "take back".
Sean
Thu, Jun 19, 2014, 7:15pm (UTC -5)
I really enjoyed Relativity for its goofiness. It was a cute episode.

Anyway, my problem with this episode is the outrageously large amounts of Treknobabble. And it's the type of babble that really doesn't mean much and the audience really can't follow, even if you do know what most of the Trek technology does. It basically amounts to "magic."

However, following the babble a little bit we basically have it that the Romulan Warbird's warp core, some chemical they use in it, in combination with the radiation that hit O'Brien when a conduit exploded in his face is what's causing the jumps in time. Which makes me wonder, why has this never happened before? At least with the Romulans themselves. Or even with Starfleet. Or anyone really? It's a coincidence that the radiation and the warp core were in the same vicinity at the same time, yes, but it doesn't seem like it would be a rare coincidence. So why didn't they know about it? They should have seen that O'Brien was jumping in time and assumed there was a Warbird out there almost right away.
Quarky
Thu, Jun 19, 2014, 8:39pm (UTC -5)
Before Obrien makes the last jump he tells Bashir there is a recording for Keiko in case he dies. I wonder if Bashir gave it to her. Some people would say no obrien is the same so it doesn't matter. I would disagree. The original obrien is dead and Keiko would deserve to know. I'm sure Keiko would feel sad her obrien died and would have to figure out if she felt the same for this future obrien. Very odd. If this really happened it would be something everyone would talk about. Just like the Odo from the future in children of time is a different person. When worf came along in season 4 obrien should tell him he's actually from a different timeline. Of course this is science fiction and it's easy to watch a couple of episodes and forget this happened but it's just weird. Very brave for the writers to kill off obrien in this way. Even if obrien is still on the show he's not the same person
Quarkissnyder
Tue, Jul 8, 2014, 10:20pm (UTC -5)
Eh, I was bored but I always find O'Brien boring.

Also The timeline made no sense. Why would future O'Brien not know what past O'Brien had been through -- it's the same guy in the future. Why in the jump to where O'Brien is escaping DS9 did he not remember that past O'Brien (who he was) would show up? Why didn't future O'Brien, who had been past O'Brien, already investigate the cause of the explosion, since he had been to the future when he was past O'Brien and knew it was going to happen?
Yanks
Fri, Aug 1, 2014, 12:31pm (UTC -5)
This episode gives me a headache. While I normally enjoy "Obrien" episodes, the technobabble is so hard to follow I normally fall asleep.

Major reset crap here as we know DS9 isn't going to get blown up; therefore there is no sense of urgency.

The DS9 blow up did look pretty good though, especially for a TV show.

2 stars.
Scott
Wed, Sep 3, 2014, 2:32am (UTC -5)
I wish there were more episodes that dealt with the fact that obrien had died. They should have a memorial service or something. There should have been a scene with Keiko grieving obrien and getting to know this new obrien. There should have been some scenes with every main character helping the new obrien adjust to his new life. The show takes a brave move by killing obrien but then I guess everyone just says well this new obrien is only from a few hours in the future so he's not that different. I just can't imagine the new obrien telling Keiko her husband gave his life to save the station and her being cool with it and just accepting this obrien from the future.
Edington
Thu, Sep 11, 2014, 12:10am (UTC -5)
@Scott, are you saying there is a plausible scenario where Keiko is cool?

I can't imagine Keiko being cool with anything O'Brian could say or do. She's very no-win at him. If he's smart he didn't mention a word of this to her.
MsV
Mon, Feb 16, 2015, 8:52pm (UTC -5)
Very good episode.
Andrew
Sat, Mar 21, 2015, 1:24pm (UTC -5)
I was bothered by at least Sisko not having doubts about whether destroying the wormhole would have been for the better.
MsV
Sat, Apr 11, 2015, 5:14am (UTC -5)
I have a problem with the Bajorans taking everything for face value. If Vedek So-n-So said the moon was purple 100 years ago, the Bajorans would believe it since a monk said it. They never check for facts they just believe it, No matter what. They just stand there an gawk.
dlpb
Thu, May 28, 2015, 6:11pm (UTC -5)
A very fun, well executed time caper. The New Outer Limits had a very similar episode (Virtual Future) that aired a few months later. That's a lot of fun too!
Teejay
Mon, Jun 22, 2015, 3:40am (UTC -5)
I'm sorry, but I enjoyed this episode until all the time travel technobabble near the end, where they think they figure out how to control it. At this point the timeline in the show just fell apart for me. When O'Brien travels forward again and wakes himself up, shouldn't the sleeping O'Brien have known he was coming? Unlike the other jumps, THIS one was planned. And even if the answer to that is "no", at the very least the sleeping O'Brien shouldn't have needed an explanation as to how the jumping O'Brien knew the future.

Usually I don't mind the technobabble, but it bothered me in this one.
Ross
Fri, Aug 21, 2015, 7:12am (UTC -5)
This is one of my favorite DS9 one-offs. A good dose of sci-fi weirdness, mystery, and an impressive visual (of the runabouts fleeing the station as it explodes).

But, even though it's a standalone, it's still connected to the larger fabric! It foreshadows just how concerned the Romulans were about the Dominion. First, they lend the Defiant a cloaking device in 'The Search,' and then they try to destroy the wormhole here. Their failure to do so in this episode leads to their co-venture with the Cardassians to obliterate the Founders in 'Improbable Cause'/'The Die is Cast.'

With all their motivations laid clear, their future actions shouldn't be surprising. (And with the Cardassians' own involvement foreshadowed with the fleet build-up in 'Defiant,' it's amazing just how subtly that whole invasion plot was hinted at beforehand. In retrospect, it's all there.)

But there are so many great lines in this one! From Odo telling Sisko how he needs to remind him just how good he is at his job, to Odo telling the Klingons off in the holding cell, to Kira reading the Romulans the riot act, to Bashir saying, 'Who am I to argue with me?' The dialogue was great throughout.

Very enjoyable.
William B
Wed, Sep 23, 2015, 4:15pm (UTC -5)
I think it's cool that as DS9's current resident former Enterprise crew member, O'Brien often heads up TNG-esque shows; "Captive Pursuit" and "Whispers" could more or less have worked to some degree on TNG, for example, and "Visionary" is in the same vein as "Time Squared," "Cause and Effect" or "Timescape," threading together temporal disturbances, the threat of wholesale destruction along with (ala "Timescape") some Romulan intrigue that forms the backdrop and influences the plot. The DS9-specific elements are largely the ways in which this story fits in with season three; while this is inessential in terms of the events that transpire, it is maybe a good recap of certain aspects of "The Search" in building toward a certain two-parter coming up -- we are reminded of the Romulans' involvement and their fears of the Dominion, the possibility of taking drastic action to protect against the Dominion is broached again, and we get a particular reminder of Odo's odd behaviour in "The Search" (could he really not have helped anyone else escape besides Kira?).

I think the time stuff is mostly handled well, though there are a few strange choices -- pyjamas-O'Brien and his sickly counterpart say "I hate temporal mechanics" in unison over pyjamas-O'Brien's not feeling sick, but even weirder is the idea that O'Brien was apparently planning on sleeping through the destruction of the station. I think as in "Time Squared" (and to a lesser extent "Cause and Effect"), the major theme is facing up to death, in particular one's *own* death, as a way to avoid total destruction; O'Brien is confronted with more and more violent futures, from Quark talking about Klingons destroying property to brawl to Miles' individual death to station destruction and finally to the time-shifting O'Brien himself dying, his body flooded with radiation. Miles talks early on about the shock of seeing his body lying there which is a first for him (I guess his replicant's death didn't move him all that much in "Whispers"), and eventually becomes permanently "unsettled" by having one of his selves die while the other goes back to replace him. The slightly unsettling, eerie feeling is, I think wisely, downplayed -- this is weird, but O'Brien is still here, even if he's from a few hours in the future -- but I think it's an effective way to get at the idea of confronting one's own death and being changed by the experience. And I think it's noteworthy that while the O'Brien who sacrifices himself heroically *is* only a few hours removed from the O'Brien who remains, that O'Brien only has second-hand experience of that sacrifice; one can only get so close to death (and the heroism of being willing to die).

I have little else to say -- it's a tight, effective little show with a nice escalation and some effective continuity. 3 stars.
William B
Wed, Sep 23, 2015, 4:21pm (UTC -5)
Dammit, why do I keep remembering thing I wanted to say right after I post?

One thing of note is that the title -- "Visionary" -- is interesting considering that this episode follows "Destiny" and "Prophet Motive," both of which deal with the Prophets; note how this episode essentially plays out the "man with visions of the future" plot as pure science-fiction temporal mechanics stuff, rather than dipping into religion or psuedo-religion. It is particularly apparent given its episode placement. So here's the question: given that there is a rational, materialistic explanation for both the Wormhole Aliens' ability to see into the future and O'Brien's time jumps, why are the former still treated with reverent awe and the latter is clearly just a guy? Okay, okay -- obviously the WAs living in nonlinear time is different from O'Brien taking a few jumps back and forth. But maybe a stronger comparison is between this and "Rapture," which are actually *very* similar in terms of their central character's plot (radiation weirdness -> unstuck in time; do they risk their lives to continue?) but come at it from two wholly different perspectives. It would be interesting to know whether the artists were aware of the similarities between this story and many of their Bajoran faith stories, without an explicit religious dimension, though O'Brien's sacrificial death and "resurrection" can be viewed through a secular spiritual lens, and whether this episode is thus a kind of restatement of some of the themes the show returns to over and over again, or a commentary, or an accidental recreation.
Grumpy
Sat, Sep 26, 2015, 12:28am (UTC -5)
Upon its first airing, I enjoyed this episode, probably because of the raised stakes with the station's destruction. Now, though, I see it as nothing but "an exercise in forgettable technobabble" with few redeeming qualities. The plot wasn't intricate enough to carry the whole show (the Klingon red herrings, the "I hate temporal mechanics" handwave). What does that leave us with? A tease of Kira/Odo as a follow up to "Heart of Stone" and... not much else.

More could've been made of O'Brien's willingness to sacrifice himself. Indeed, he doesn't hesitate when he hears the risk of a controlled jump. O'Brien dies, saves everyone, and comes back to life... hmm, seems like there's a story there, but the episode wraps up without exploring it.
Grumpy
Sat, Sep 26, 2015, 2:30pm (UTC -5)
According to the Romulan dude, "The Dominion represents the greatest threat the Alpha Quadrant in the last century." Okay, is that a Romulan century or 100 Earth years? What happened a century ago that was such a big threat? It would've happened between TOS and TMP, so we never saw it. Also, what about the mysterious force that scared the Romulans into breaking their isolation in "The Neutral Zone"? Oh yeah, the Borg! But the Borg never tried to assimilate Romulus, as far as we know, so they don't count.
Hacker
Fri, Oct 2, 2015, 5:39am (UTC -5)
I don't get it. Can the Romulans not just come back a week later and destroy the wormhole and DS9 anyways?
Diamond Dave
Sat, Nov 28, 2015, 2:11pm (UTC -5)
File this one in the increasing list of episodes where "bad things happen to Chief O'Brien". Definitely a feel of TNG here, and where they blew up the Enterprise, here we get to have the fun of seeing DS9 destroyed. I suppose it had to happen sooner or later.

Nevertheless, this is a fun episode in many ways and has an intriguing undercurrent, what with 3 dead O'Brien's and one coming back from the future to live his own dead life. Or something. Obviously though we get to this point via the standard set of contrivances. But it's never boring. 3 stars.
James
Sun, Dec 20, 2015, 11:10pm (UTC -5)
The time-travel stuff here just doesn't work for me. If O'Brien saw himself killed in the future by the device behind the panel, and uses that information to avoid being killed, then that event is no longer the future. So where did it come from? The only way it would make sense is if it were not time travel but merely a 'vision' of a -possible- future, but we know that's not true because the other O'Brien returns in the end.
JC
Mon, Feb 15, 2016, 6:06pm (UTC -5)
So standard Romulan warp cores plus common radiation from plasma conduits or whatever equals time travel, and nobody discovered this until now. And apparently unbeknownst to all cloaked Romulan ships can be tracked by looking for their singularities. DS9 writers once again breaking their universe.
Jc
Mon, Feb 15, 2016, 6:08pm (UTC -5)
@James Because it *was* the future all the way up to the point that present O'Brien returned from it. Those future timelines didn't stop existing until the moment present O'Brien went back to change them. Or something.
Luke
Fri, Mar 18, 2016, 11:37pm (UTC -5)
Is "Visionary" a good episode? No. Is it a bad one? No. It's average. I know that's probably going to anger just about everyone because this seems to be another love it or hate it episode, but that's the way I feel. There's nothing particularly striking about it either way.

The main problem with it is that it's a tech heavy, high concept, sci-fi story. And that simply isn't what DS9 is all about. This kind of story would have worked very well on either TNG or VOY (which was, at this point, already half-way through its first season). But it just doesn't feel quite right here on DS9. DS9 isn't about high concept science fiction and it certainly isn't about tech heavy stories. It's much more of a character and plot-arc driven show. So it's no wonder that the good parts of "Visionary" focus on those two areas.

O'Brien watching himself get shot, Kira's reaction to the Romulans' realization that Odo has feelings for her, Odo's response to that revelation, Quark trying to use O'Brien's knowledge of the future for his own gain - all wonderful scenes. The scenes where the Romulans debrief everyone on their Dominion knowledge are also enjoyable as they finally follow up on the Romulan loan of the cloaking device, something that has been dropped like a hot potato ever since "The Search, Part II".

But as for the time-travel aspect of the episode - meh, it's all just a little to convenient for my tastes. O'Brien just happens to always travel to exactly the right place at exactly the right time? Yeah, sure. And the whole plan by the Romulans to destroy the Wormhole is really undermined by having the solution be little more than dumb luck. If O'Brien hadn't happened to get a huge dose of technobabble radiation and start time jumping, the Romulans would have succeeded with no trouble and destroyed the station and the Wormhole. Yeah, dumb luck.

In all fairness I probably should score this one a little lower, but the character interactions work well enough. And that is one of DS9's strengths, after all - they can take even a fairly lackluster episode and buoy it up with the character work.

5/10
Kevin Criswell
Sat, Oct 29, 2016, 8:47pm (UTC -5)
Remember the romulan warships do not use a antimatter warp core. They use a quantum singularity to warp spacetime to move. Supposedly the time travel was supposed to be a reaction of the radiation to the singularity.
Matt
Wed, Dec 7, 2016, 9:45am (UTC -5)
Romulan war core technology seems to be common knowledge to Starfleet. Given that they can track it, doesn't that make cloaking totally useless? Just scan for signatures to detect cloaks. Have that as a standard background scan and have the system alert you when it finds something. Then lock on photon torpedoes and blast away. Cloaked ships can't shoot back, not can they raise shields, so they would be helpless.

That coupled with the antiproton scans make Romulan cloaks (and by extension Klingon cloaks since they are derived frok Romulan tech) almost completely useless.
N
Tue, Dec 27, 2016, 7:03pm (UTC -5)
Probably the best episode of its kind - I give it a high 3. Pacey and really entertaining without being dumb. The way the stakes keep increasing (as soon as O'Brien averts one obstacle, the next one is revealed) is a little reminiscent of Civil Defense, but this stands up to repeat viewing much better (I loved Civil Defense the very first time but haven't enjoyed it since) and has a more satisfying ending. While this is an action-oriented O'Brien episode, the teleplay does a notably good job of letting the other characters shine - Sisko, Kira, Bashir, Quark, Odo and Dax are all really well-written, and all get scenes where they have their moment and contribute to solving the episode's puzzle in ways that are very much in character.
QBall
Mon, Mar 20, 2017, 4:42pm (UTC -5)
I like this episode. It kept you engaged by wanting to know what happens next with O'Brien jumping in time. Not exactly a satisfying resolution but seeing Sisko stare down Romulans is worth the price of admission. As for everyone telling Keiko about what happened to the other O'Brien, all I can see is another "Who's on first?" routine happening:

Sisko: Keiko, I regret to inform you Miles is dead.
Keiko: What?!? Then who is that on my couch drinking coffee?
S: That's Miles O'Brien
K: But you said Miles is dead!
S: That's the Miles O'Brien three hours from now.
K: What?
S: Oh, I'm sorry. That happend four hours ago, so technically that's the Miles from an hour ago. He came back from his present which was our future to the past which was our present but is now in the past and left the past Miles in the future which is now also our past.
K: So when did my Miles die?
S: Three hours from now four hours ago. You just missed it.
K: When?
S: Just now.
K: I hate temporal mechanics.
Del_Duio
Mon, Apr 3, 2017, 9:00am (UTC -5)
You know it's funny, I usually wouldn't include this episode on one of my top 10 DS9 lists however it's just so friggin' good every time.

I'm glad there's no Keiko, she probably wouldn't bat an eye if either of these two Miles' were dead lol.
Richard
Tue, May 30, 2017, 9:54pm (UTC -5)
This is an enjoyable episode, even if a lot of O'Brien's time jumps don't make sense.

A certain amount of artistic license has to be allowed for those shows to work. Would you rather watch a show with no plot holes, no inconsistencies, 100% accurate scientifically, but is boring, or a show like this? Bottom line, this is intended as entertainment, and this is an entertaining episode.

One thing I found a little surprising is the comments that Keiko must now adjust to the "new" Miles O'Brien. I could understand this if the "new" Miles was from 2 or 3 years (or even 6 months) in the future. However, as one poster mentioned above, he's only a few hours older than the "old" Miles O'Brien. So, basically he's the same person.
Rahul
Thu, Jun 22, 2017, 4:25pm (UTC -5)
A good episode for sure - and having just seen VOY's "Before and After" it's interesting to compare the two.
Again, I don't mind the technobabble with the radiation and the singularity to create time jumps for O'Brien -- it's sci-fi, the writers can have their creative licence as long as they make some effort to not be totally ridiculous in the sci-fi paradigm -- and I think they achieve that in this story.
Must say, pretty cool (and tragic) watching DS9 blow up -- that takes a fair bit of work.
Of course, the issue with time travel stories is the inconsistencies/contrivances. Why does O'Brien travel into the future to witness only really important things? Because it makes for a good story.
VOY's "Before and After" was also an interesting episode, but what's becoming clearer to me is that DS9's characters are less wooden.
Pretty ballsy of the Romulans to have such a plan to blow up DS9 and the wormhole -- I don't know if that's a stretch for the writers to write that in but I would expect repercussions from this now that Sisko and Co. have found out. And does this de-frock cloaking technology going forward once and for all? Seems the Romulans giving the Defiant the cloaking device in exchange for info is a win for the Romulans if they can actually get good info.
I'd rate this a solid 3 stars - plenty to digest in this one but all the individual parts of the episode tie together well. The writers came up with a new way to have timeshifts just as was done in VOY's "Before and After" and I'm cool with the technobabble.
Daniel B
Sat, Jul 8, 2017, 2:45am (UTC -5)
This one is amazing on first viewing. It falls apart somewhat (still isn't bad) on repeat viewings when you can slow to think and realize that his time jumps don't follow any sort of consistent standard as far as what he knows and what he can do about it.
Startrekwatcher
Sun, Jul 30, 2017, 11:07pm (UTC -5)
3 stars. If I didn't know any better I'd have pegged the writer of this episode as Brannon Braga. DS9 does some high concept sci fi mystery fun

Liked how again the fact the Romulans use an artificial singularity as their core since first dropped as a throwaway line back in TNG Face of the Enemy

The explanation for Miles' time jumps works well I enjoyed seeing Klingons and Romulans on DS9. Liked how Romulans come to the station to receive intelligence briefing on the Dominion in exchange for the Federation getting to use the cloaking device. The Romulans viewing the Dominion as a grave threat and only option left is collapsing wormhole makes a lot of sense

Lots of good mystery elements--the hidden spying device, the cause of the station's destruction etc

I enjoyed Odo's need for being appreciated by retracing his efforts to get to the bottom of the Klingon spies to Sisko

A very good action adventure, mystery and Dominion ep all rolled into one
Jasper
Sun, Nov 12, 2017, 2:42pm (UTC -5)
After a series of really awful episodes this one is mildly enjoyable. But it will take a lot more to save this season. Until now by far the worst third season of all Star Trek seasons.
wanderer2575
Sun, Nov 19, 2017, 10:52pm (UTC -5)
I just watched this on the H&I channel. Meh. An out-of-the-blue plot for the Romulans to destroy the station, but fortunately this week we also just happen to have a time-shifting character who can warn the crew. This is DS9's variation on TNG and VOY's beaten-to-death plotline of "the ship is completely disabled or taken over, but fortunately one crew member happened to not be aboard and saves the day."
Iceman
Tue, Aug 14, 2018, 12:10am (UTC -5)
Even though "Visionary" is technically an O'Brien story, it goes out of its way to give everyone in the ensemble a chance to shine. From Odo's "Sometimes I have to remind you just how good I am" to Kira's fight with the Romulans, most of the main characters have a great moment in this one. I wish more DS9 episodes did that. Onto the actual plot, Ira Steven Behr didn't like this one because he said it was too much like a TNG episode. I really don't see that as a problem. The setup is very much TNG, but the backdrop is pure DS9. And as far as technobabble episodes go, this is excellent. It's really fun, well constructed, and makes at least a modicum of sense. It also holds up to re-watches, which I can't say for other episodes such as "Cause and Effect" which was exciting the first time but is pretty repetitive and boring on re-watches. Sure, it's convenient that O'Brien always jumped forward to the exact right time to prevent a disaster, but as far as regular DS9 episodes that aren't status-quo shattering like a certain upcoming two-parter, this one would rank fairly highly. It might not be in the very top tier of DS9 episodes, but it's very high quality.

3.5 stars.
Cinnamon
Fri, Sep 21, 2018, 11:18am (UTC -5)
I find VISIONARY very difficult to understand. If any of you guys are fans of FARSCAPE you will know Crichton was struck by a 'piece' of a singularity in an alien ship and he travelled BACK AND BACK AND BACK TO THE FUTURE for the entire ep. A person connected with this series once made a comment that Star Trek had a similiar episode. Pardon me, Visionary is nowhere like Farscpe's story. It was done in Australia by Australian writers and you could not ask for better writing. >>>>>> Paramount writers always have to make their stories difficult and as unsmooth as they can.

It has been about 2 years since my cable people have put H and I on their schedule and all 5 of the Star Trek series run every night. ST:Tos is only one of the 5 I had seen on a regular basis, etc. DS9 AND VOYAGER I had not seen for 10 years or more since they were not run in my area. I would buy DS9 if wasn't so darned expensive. Voyager, well I only like about 10 of the eps and I love the Borg eps esp. with Jeri Ryan. She is a wonderful actress. Too add on, I finally gave in and bought the dvd pkgs of TOS BUT I have a few of TOS on VHS from the past. They were so expensive I could not afford them. I did spend over $30.00 buying THE CAGE.
HERE IS WHAT I GOT:::::some color and a bunch of black and white where the whoever it was picked up the pieces and glued them to the damn film strip.......some parts have no speech at all because the speaking parts were snipped out and thrown away back in the day [1960's]. Of course, back in day those people had no idea that Star Trek would go on living thru the years.

Anyway, I think that Sisko should have shot the Romulons out of 'sky' and stars once the Romulons took off from the station. They were nasty to everyone. Yeah, they should go thru the worm hole and look up the changelings!!

I did not like it that Miies had to die and be replaced with a future O'Brien. Best to leave that alone because Keiko and Molly would never understand. No one would understand.
grumpy_otter
Mon, Sep 24, 2018, 8:37pm (UTC -5)
Loved this one! With time travel, one must just refuse to question while it's happening, and I have no problem doing that when the story is engaging. I love Miles, and I thought he was hilarious in this--especially when he was working with himself. I loved how future Miles was never surprised to see present Miles--he'd already been through it! I thought this was a stellar time-travel episode, and everything that happened seemed to work logically.

Technobabble? I hear people complain about it often, but it never bothers me. I have no trouble following it, and in this case I thought the explanation was fine--the quantum singularity worked like a magnet. The only time-travel plot hole I perceived was that Now-Dead Miles, in order to travel in time, had to have the overdose of radiation so he could use the magnet to pull him through time. So I don't understand why giving the armband to Pajama Miles would have worked--he didn't have the magnets in him. But whatever--if I may paraphrase "The Big Chill,"--sometimes you just have to let art, I mean time travel, flow over you.

The one thing that made me angry is that they just let the Romulans--involved in a plot to destroy the station and wormhole--go free with no consequences. Very stupid.
Elliott
Fri, Oct 12, 2018, 9:49am (UTC -5)
Teaser : ***.5, 5%

In Ops, O'Brien is revived from a tech accident by Bashir. Sisko assigns the chief, who seems genuinely humbled by his injury. Meanwhile, Sisko and Kira head towards a docking bay to meet a delegation of Romulans. On their way, they pass Odo arresting a drunk Klingon, whose ship is stuck on DS9 for a couple of days. Sisko asks Odo to monitor the situation for potential conflicts. Sisko greets the Romulans, who are on the station to receive the report owed them according the to deal that made to give the Defiant its cloak. The Romulans are curt—having no interest in diplomatic overtures—their dialogue is exactly the kind we would expect to hear from Ja-Rule, which makes her absence a bit glaring. I wonder if the producers didn't want Martha Hackett on both series at once.

Miles convinces Quark to hang a dart board in his bar, following up on the extremely minor subplot from “Prophet Motive.” Miles shows Quark how to properly throw a dart without impaling Morn in the eyeball, only to find himself flashing to a few meters away. He sees himself conversing with Quark, who informs him that the Klingons have destroyed his holosuites. The two O'Briens make eye contact, then our O'Brien flashes back to Quark's and feints. This is a really promising teaser, with a sci-fi mystery, continued political intrigue from “The Search,” and a focus on O'Brien, which is usually a sign of quality.

Act 1 : ***, 17%

Bashir explains to O'Brien that his “hallucination” (yeah right) and feinting spell are a result of his accident in Ops. A moment is spared for some character stuff—Bashir giving his buddy shit for having a “deficient fantasy life.”

In the Wardroom, the Romulans quiz Sisko and Kira about their Dominion intelligence. The Romulans think Odo, as a Changeling, should be able to provide insight into the machinations of the Founders, but our heroes are quick to point out that Odo is loyal to them and has no information about their plans. The Romulans demand to see classified reports on the Dominion, arguing that maintaining their new cloak-treaty (I didn't realise there was an entire treaty signed over this matter) as well as evaluating the Dominion threat are of utmost importance. Sisko agrees, provided Starfleet permits it. I wonder if he's going to tell them about destroying the wormhole...Sisko is...typically and unnecessarily hostile here. Yeah, the Romulans are a bit rude, but what they're asking for is perfectly reasonable.

Later, Quark approaches Miles and makes the same complaint we saw in the teaser. O'Brien realises mid-sentence what's going on and makes the point to look for himself across the promenade. Sure enough, the other O'Brien vanishes. Of note is that Quark is able to see him, so this is no hallucination. Dax is able to confirm that there was a temporal anomaly. While she lists all the technobabble theories on how this could happen—O'Brien has another flash, again to Quark's, but now there's a brawl between the Romulans, Klingons and, O'Brien himself again. Our O'Brien actually saves himself from getting stabbed by an errant Klingon. He flashes back and feints.

Act 2 : ***, 17%

Bashir notes that the cumulative effect of these jumps will eventually become fatal. Sisko deduces that the time shifting can't be more than a few days into the future, as the Romulans are supposed to leave within that timeframe. Kira retrieves him to give him the laundry list of the Romulans' demands—they want to debrief the entire Defiant crew, review all their logs, etc. The Empire has chosen not to risk their own ships going through the wormhole, “pulling the strings from behind” in Sisko's words. This doesn't quite work for me. Think of TNG's “Tin Man,” when the Romulans risked an entire vessel and its crew just to beat the Federation to the powerful entity. The Romulans may be devious, but they aren't cowardly. Sisko tells Kira to be diplomatic with the Romulans, which is among the most ironic statements I've ever heard on television.

Smash cut and Kira is screaming at them across the conference table. DS9 bring good the comedy! They have accused Kira of abandoning the Defiant prematurely in “The Search.” She explains about how Odo rescued her, having been knocked unconscious, in the shuttle. For a moment, I thought the Romulans were going to catch Kira in a lie—questioning Odo's motivations for abandoning the Defiant. This is a point I made in my review, as well. Rather, though the conversation turns to the idea that the Founders thought Odo would be upset if Kira were harmed, so only she was allowed to escape. They flat-out ask her if Odo ever indicated that he wanted to bang her, and she completely loses her temper, warning them they may end up “floating home,” which is a cute reference to “The Next Phase.”

In Quark's, Julian has humoured Miles by playing ten rounds of darts, waiting for that fight to start. Julian points out that the future has been altered by Miles' vision, but I'm sure Miles wants to be certain he isn't stabbed, so he presses on. Then, a trio of drunk Klingons enters the bar—Quark had agreed to keep them out, which I don't quite get. Is Quark allowed to racially-profile his customers? Well, it's moot anyway as they've paid triple for holosuite time and that's motivation enough for Quark to break his word. Immediately, tensions rise with the Romulans.

In Odo's office, Kira briefs the constable about her upsetting meeting. Odo's reaction at the suggestion of Kira-boning is sort of cute: “RiDICulous!” Before this can plummet to sitcom levels, Quark calls about the inevitable brawl. There's a brief shot of Quark itemising the damaged property, which is pretty hilarious, and finally O'Brien relives his flash, from the other side, complete with near-stab experience. But then, O'Brien has a new flash-forward—he sees himself get zapped by panel on the wall. A great detail is how Colm Meaney has our O'Brien react physically upon seeing himself get injured. A very realistic touch. Ooo, and the bad news—the zap turns out to be fatal. Our O'Brien flashes back, having collapsed about an hour ago, awaking in the infirmary. And Miles is quite certain he'll be dead in a few hours.

Act 3 : ****, 17%

O'Brien, Sisko and Odo examine the panel from O'Brien's flash, which appears benign. The trio realise that someone will boobytrap the panel within a few hours, per the pattern of O'Brien's jumps. They can't figure out why, though. Odo suggests placing a surveillance device nearby which is utterly shocking. Shocking, because I assumed Odo had cameras in every toilet on the station, let a lone the hallways.

Meanwhile, Dax has discovered a techno-clue. There's a tiny blackhole moving in space around the station. Now, if you're a Trek nerd, you already know the answer—there's a Romulan ship cloaked nearby. In “Timescape,” we learned about how the Romulans use tiny black holes to power their ships because...they're insane. Anyway, this new information reveals to the in-show nerds that the chief's jumps are being caused by this anomaly and Bashir thinks he knows how to prevent further jumps, but it will take time; O'Brien isn't done jumping yet. Then, Kira has a plot bombshell to drop—she had to move the Romulans to section 47 (duh)...the very same section where the booby-trap will be planted.

Odo, has discovered that the booby-trap *has* been implanted, but it was actually transported into the wall, not placed by hand. Odo's lead suspects are the Klingons.

SISKO: Do you have any evidence besides the fact that Klingons hate Romulans?
ODO: Not yet. But don't worry, I plan on investigating the Klingons, the Bajorans, Quark, the visiting Terrelians.
SISKO: You think Quark had something to do with this?
ODO: I always investigate Quark.

Zing. In Quark's O'Brien is replaying his own death in his memory. He doesn't mention that this was actually the second time O'Brien has seen himself die (“Whispers”). Which means they writers forgot a point of continuity, which means this show fucking sucks.

O'Brien flashes again—to the infirmary. And, oh shit, his own corpse is on a biobed.

Act 4 : ***, 17%

Our O'Brien runs into future Bashir, who's oddly casual about the fact that his friend has died. But he does tell O'Brien what to tell Bashir's past-self to scan for to avoid our O'Brien dying in the first place. Got all that? Miles flashes back. Meanwhile, Odo and Sisko investigate the source of the transporter beam—some vacant quarters. Odo has unravelled much of the mystery; following a line of clues—being amusingly cutoff mid-ramble by Sisko—he believes the three Klingons are part of a “covert strike force” who were sent to gather intelligence about the Romulans for Gowron. Sisko permits Odo to hold the Klingons for questioning. The Klingons deny their mission, for the moment.

O'Brien awakens and gives Bashir his own warning, who both prevents the radiation death and continues to rid Miles of his time-particles. In Ops, the senior staff begin discussing the orbiting black hole, but Miles flashes forward yet again. Now, the station is being evacuated. O'Brien finds his other self piloting a runabout away from DS9, which is exploding. Future O'Brien doesn't know what caused the disaster, but both the station and the wormhole are destroyed. Miles flashes back to Ops...and doesn't feint? Huh?

Act 5 : ***.5, 17%

In anticipation of the impending disaster, Sisko has Kira begin prepping for an evacuation...again. O'Brien hits on the idea of purposefully forcing himself into a time-jump. Of course, the time-particles will be toxic and might kill him. Via technononsense, he and Bashir determine a means to control how far Miles is able to jump.

One more moment is set aside for Miles to remind Julian about that message for Keiko in his quarters in case, well you know. And so does Bashir. So, they engage with operation forced-time jump—O'Brien finds himself in his own quarters, asleep. And the two agree to team up to save the day. The Mileses arrive in Ops together just as a Warbird decloaks and starts firing at the station. Our O'Brien is too poisoned to take the trip back, and dies...again. So, future-O'Brien will go back instead, even though he “doesn't belong there.” This seems like a really dopey semantics question to be quibbling over as the station blows up around them, but whatever, future-O'Brien consents and puts on the magic armband. So, he flashes back, and Sisko raises shields and weapons in preparation.

Finally, the two plots come together. The Romulans were sent to destroy the wormhole (yes, thank you!). Kira states that the Federation wouldn't stand by and let this happen—which is a head-scratcher. I mean, yeah, there are the Prophets, but shouldn't the Federation and Romulan Empire discuss the “nuclear option”? Having locked “about 50 photon torpedoes” on the cloaked warbird, the Romulans agree to leave. So...what's going to happen with that treaty?

In the epilogue, O'Brien is agonising a bit about being displaced in time, cueing a TOS-style comic ending bit with Miles predicting a Dabbo, and cue credits.

Episode as Functionary : ***, 10%

Like William B, I'm most reminded of TNG's “Time Squared,” which I think is one of the series' most unsung heroes. The sci-fi angle is pretty similar, but “Visionary” swaps out some of the existential questions for character moments between O'Brien and Bashir, which isn't bad by any means, but does make the story feel a bit smaller, despite the gigantic consequences portrayed in the final acts. It is certainly in keeping with Miles' character that he would begrudgingly deal with the temporal paradoxes, focused more on the consequences to his family if this should get him killed, instead of pondering the meaning of all this craziness.

The Romulan component to the story is a mixed bag, mostly good. First, the fact that it disguises itself as a B plot but is actually the crux of the mystery is fairly brilliant, even meta-textual; what appears to be a random Trek anomaly orbiting the station is actually an enemy vessel preparing to strike. The mystery itself is extremely well-handled, giving Odo a chance to shine and throwing a bone to fans of the series with several obscure references to TNG. There is one slight error: why did the arrested Klingons imply that they were guilty of spying by giving each other worried looks in Odo's jail? My only real problems with the story are, 1. the characterisation of the Romulans as cowardly seems really out of place, considering events before, during, and after this episode—maybe Sisko is just ignorant on the subject, 2. there would seem to be major consequences to the relationship between Romulus and the Federation given the events here; shouldn't the Romulans take their cloak back, having attempted to destroy a Federation outpost? 3. revisiting the events of “The Search” was a missed opportunity. Rather than exploring Odo's divided loyalties, which seemed to be where the Romulans were going in Act 2, they focus on the Odo/Kira romance thread. I said all the way back in “Necessary Evil” that I don't oppose this relationship developing, but it seems to me the writers are trying way too hard to push us here. Just let it happen, guys. Speaking of Kira, is she ever going to learn to control her temper?

Final Score : ***
Chrome
Fri, Oct 12, 2018, 11:27am (UTC -5)
@Elliott

“The Empire has chosen not to risk their own ships going through the wormhole, “pulling the strings from behind” in Sisko's words. This doesn't quite work for me. Think of TNG's “Tin Man,” when the Romulans risked an entire vessel and its crew just to beat the Federation to the powerful entity. The Romulans may be devious, but they aren't cowardly.”

I see what you mean here, although TNG did characterize the Romulans as operating on counter-maneuvers as described in “The Neutral Zone” they have also been in the thick of the action in many occasions. “Tin Man” is one example but there’s also “Contagion” and “The Chase” which show that the RE will exert overt force to not be bested strategically by the Federation.

One good thing about their cowardice shown here, however, is that it further sets up the plot of “Improbable Cause” by showing friction between what the Tal Shiar wants (military dominance in GQ) and what the Romulan Guard want (the Federation to do the dirty work for them in the GQ while they reap the rewards). It might be kind of silly that the more covert group of the two appears interested in brute force tactics but perhaps we can brush that aside and assume the Romulan senate would never agree to the Tal Shiar/Obsidian Order plan.
Springy
Mon, Dec 17, 2018, 9:56am (UTC -5)
Watching and commenting

-O'Brien hurt and needs to rest. But he's really hurt and hallucinating . . . or something.

--The Alpha Quadrant trying to come together to protect themselves from the Dominion. It's rough going.

--O'Brien goes forward in time and saves himself from a Klingon! I have a feeling my "don't think too hard about it" time paradox philosophy will have to come into play here.

--Something there is that doesn't love O'Brien.

--Cool graphic of the station exploding.

--Wow, every time O'Brien goes five hours in the future, life-threatening events are occurring!

--O'Brien willing to risk his life to save thousands, except they were already planning to evacuate the station . . . why nearly kill his husband and father self, just to save that big hunk of metal?

--Yowza! Cool trick!! O'Brien replaces O'Brien. O'Brien dies but doesn't die.

--Julian says "you're O'Brien, just with a few extra memories," which isn't quite right. He's O'Brien, with a few more, and a few less, memories.

I liked it overall. It's a pretty crazy premise, but was well handled.
Springy
Mon, Dec 17, 2018, 10:44am (UTC -5)
After reading commentary;

--Yes, it was interesting that Sisko mentioned the "they like to sit back and watch" and "not make the first move" characteristic of the Romulans . . . when in fact, they were planning a hugely aggressive "first strike" the whole time. I suppose this fits with some of the "What makes you, you?" questions the ep brings up.

--Who's the Visionary here? Maybe it's the Romulans. After all, was closing the wormhole such a bad idea?

--Sure, tons of techno babble, obvious and unlikely "need it to move the plot forward" contrivance, obvious reset ahead, etc . . . but I can't enjoy Trek worrying myself too much about all that. For myself, it's not so much, "well, those criticisms can fall by the wayside if the ep is otherwise compelling" as it is "those criticisms should always fall by the wayside," and judge the ep from there, when it comes to Trek.

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