Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"The Visitor"

4 stars

Air date: 10/9/1995
Written by Michael Taylor
Directed by David Livingston

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"I'm no writer, but if I were, it seems to me I'd want to poke my head up every once in a while and take a look around; see what's going on. It's life, Jake. You can miss it if you don't open your eyes." — Sisko

Nutshell: True magic. This moving, thematic tale is one of the most brilliantly realized character pieces I've seen on television.

Those who worried that "The Way of the Warrior" was an indication that DS9 wants to grab audiences with war and non-stop action over smaller-scaled drama and character analysis need not worry after watching "The Visitor." This episode is easily DS9's most moving and poignant character piece ever. For me, it's the first episode of Star Trek (or any episodic TV for that matter) I can remember that actually moved me to tears.

Told in flashback from an elderly Jake Sisko (Tony Todd) to a young woman named Melanie (Rachel Robinson) aspiring to be a writer, "Visitor" features flashback as a narrative tool—and never before has such a narrative tool been so well-realized and efficiently utilized. Jake's tale begins from when he was eighteen years old, when his father, Captain Sisko, was killed in a freak accident aboard the Defiant.

This is the first of "Visitor's" potent scenes. Seeing Sisko phased out of existence is somewhat unsettling, and we have nothing but instant empathy for Jake, who becomes lost and alone on a station without his father. The story continues to follow Jake through a year of the accident's aftermath. The memorial aboard the station, the Bajorans' loss of hope after the death of their Emissary, the declining relationship between the Federation and the Klingons—all these details are wonderfully realized examples of life on DS9 without its Captain.

Then, one day, Sisko reappears. He appears in Jake's quarters for a few seconds, then vanishes again. At first, Jake tries to dismiss it as a hallucination. But when it happens again, nearly a year after the accident, Jake is able to get his father to the infirmary, where Dax, Bashir, and O'Brien determine that Sisko is being pulled in and out of time. Outside of normal time, Sisko's experience of time has slowed to where the last year has only aged him a number of minutes.

Alas, they are not able to keep Sisko from vanishing again, and Jake is forced to watch his father vanish again. Chances are he will appear again, but there is no way for Jake to know where or when, or how to prevent his father from vanishing again. When the situation with Klingons reaches a peak, the Federation turns the station over to them, and Jake tries to accept his father as gone forever. He returns to Earth to pursue a career in writing.

Old Jake continues telling his story to Melanie. His writing was successful. He got published. He fell in love and got married. He was building a life on Earth. Then one day, so many years after the accident, his father reappeared again. After a few wrenching minutes trying to catch up with old times, his father vanished yet again. Todd's reaction in this scene is a riveting performance.

This leads Jake to take up an obsession of finding a way to track his father through time and bring him back. He gives up his writing and goes back to school studying quantum mechanics theory. In the process, he gives up most of his life. His once-supportive wife finally gets fed up with his obsession and leaves him. Jake finally determines that he may be able to retrieve his father if he recreates the accident. With the help of Captain Nog, he assembles as much of the old Defiant crew as he can and takes the ship back to the original location where he attempts to manipulate time and space. He is able to pull himself into Sisko's time-frozen bubble and talk to him. But the rescue attempt isn't working. Jake begins to fade back into the real world, still without his father. Sisko begs his son to promise he will get on with his life and let go of his father. Jake can't do it.

Jake is such a tragic character. His entire life has been a search for his lost father, a search that just will not work. It would have been easier if his father had truly died. Instead, Jake can't get on with his life because every time he puts his loss behind him, his father reappears again only to disappear later.

Old Jake finally learns that he can restore his father back to the original time of the accident if he ends his own life while his father has reappeared in normal time again. Ironically this happens on the very day that Melanie, the visitor, comes to see him. Sisko and his son have one last touching conversation, Jake dies of his own lethal injection, and Sisko returns to the accident on the Defiant, where he is able to avert it because of his experience.

Even after that rather lengthy synopses, I can not begin to do justice to this episode. It's just so good. I can explain the story and how it unfolds, but it's just not the same as viewing it. This episode is so wonderfully written and has such poignant, moving details that it soars to new heights of storytelling. Through this, we see many new things about Sisko and Jake—about their lives and their relationship. Above all, this episode stresses the bond between a father and a son, and contains family issues that many people can relate to.

Michael Taylor has delivered one of the series' best stories, and David Livingston's direction is stunning, stellar execution. As I said before, the flashback elements are wonderfully done and the performances are about as perfect as they could be. The editing and music is all in place, causing scenes to flow terrifically together. Even if you're grabbing the tissues by the end of this episode (I was) there is no way you can call this story maudlin or melodramatic. It's completely absorbing from the first frame to the last; definitely one of DS9's finest moments. There is true magic working here.

Previous episode: The Way of the Warrior
Next episode: Hippocratic Oath

◄ Season Index

219 comments on this review

Stef
Mon, Sep 10, 2007, 4:04am (UTC -5)
Couldn't agree more. Fabulous episode. Possibly the best episode of DS9? Definitely top 3 with Pale Moonlight and Die is Cast.

When an episode of Star Trek almost moves me to tears, you know they have done something right.
Immanuel
Sat, Sep 15, 2007, 8:09pm (UTC -5)
*Minor* complaint: Nog as a Captain? Doesn't...really...work for me.

Of course, that takes nothing away from this stellar episode. The writing, the performances, the directing...all excellent. And seriously, Tony Todd deserved an Emmy nomination for his performance here.

"The Visitor" is full of affecting scenes. One that stands out is where Kira and Jake are having a quiet conversation regarding his future, and the possibility of him leaving the station. I really *felt* this scene and it nearly brought me to tears.
Bob
Tue, Oct 30, 2007, 8:12pm (UTC -5)
Epic episode. Truly a triumph for television as a medium of human expression. Transcends Trek, all together, and speaks to the human condition. A million and two stars!!
Paul
Tue, Dec 4, 2007, 4:58pm (UTC -5)
My girlfriend HATES Star Trek. She cried during this episode. 'Nuff said.
Tim
Tue, Jan 15, 2008, 2:59pm (UTC -5)
"The Visitor" is one of the most moving performances you will ever see on television. You don't have to know anything about Star Trek to be affected by this story.
Paul C
Fri, Jan 25, 2008, 6:27pm (UTC -5)
Watching the first two seasons of DS9, I would have been extremely surprised to see an episode move me as much as "The Inner Light" did.

Very happy to be wrong.
Locke
Thu, Feb 21, 2008, 2:07am (UTC -5)
Quite possibly the single greatest episode of television produced. True and Pure magic.
AeC
Thu, May 15, 2008, 8:10pm (UTC -5)
I don't know how many times I've watched this episode. The original airing, countless times on the tape I made from that airing, possibly when they first reran it, and now on DVD, and not once has it failed to bring me to tears. As you say, it could have been maudlin or melodramatic, and most times I go in with the mind set that now that I'm X months/years older and more jaded than the last time, maudlin is exactly how it will seem. And time and again I'm proven wrong. This may not be the best Star Trek episode, but it's probably the best episode of television to come out of the Star Trek franchise.
Tiac
Fri, Jun 6, 2008, 6:49pm (UTC -5)
Outstanding television. Easily the best episode of any show I have ever watched. Unbelievably good acting and a brilliant storyline.
Paul Fox
Sun, Jul 6, 2008, 4:35pm (UTC -5)
This is a fine episode, but it's not flawless. (1) Jake takes his "cup of hemlock" in the
opening shot, which is fine for dramatic effect, but how could he have been so certain
about his timing? More plausible to have waited till his dad actually appeared - now
that would have been a strong scene! (2) Telling the tale to a stranger present within
the tale is a old literary device and nice for a "literary" story - but a pretty girl in a
skimpy dress is a touch trite. Pick a more believable "visitor" - his estranged wife, an
old friend, his publisher would have been okay (see 3, and could still have been a pretty
lady). (3) Big one this. No writer would hand over his original manuscript to a
complete stranger! She's told him she wants to write; his first thought would be she
would plagiarise his tales. All stems from 2, which was lazy writing in the first place.
Connor Steven
Fri, Jul 18, 2008, 6:24pm (UTC -5)
I watched this one a few weeks ago, and was taken aback at how quickly I ended in tears watching it. Probably the only time I've ever cried at TV show. The part where Sisko reappears at the station and is lying on a sickbay bed, the way Jake suddenly breaks down in tears is heartbreaking.

All round simply outstanding. Not just one of Trek's best episodes, but one of the best TV episodes of all time.
Dan
Mon, Aug 11, 2008, 7:15am (UTC -5)
You bunch of wusses. I watched this again on Saturday night with my heavily pregnant wife who is extremely emotional. Neither of us cried. Though I did find it very moving.
She actually commented that it was "A bit slow."
Obviously one for the boys. ;o)
Rita
Mon, Sep 1, 2008, 7:34am (UTC -5)
Nuh-uh! As a woman, let me assure you that even us girls can recognize a damn good episode when we see one. :)

Let me be honest: I've been in the middle of a DVD marathon recently and everything was smooth sailing until I hit this episode. What an hour of television! It left me emotionally drained; instead of forging ahead on the DVD that day, I had to take time off. I don't know about you guys, but I was left pensive and melancholy long after the credits rolled.

"The Visitor" is probably up there with "The Inner Light" in my books--both pack an emotional wallop and feature wonderful, intimate performances. Like that TNG episode, the human story here just rings so true. This is the kind of Trek episode that can prompt people to step back and take stock of their own lives.

I can't think of a greater compliment that that.
Vylora
Sat, Oct 25, 2008, 4:02am (UTC -5)
I just watched this episode again the other day and, coming from someone who's seen every single episode of every ST series, all I can say is "wow".

This has to be the most moving and heartbreaking piece of Star Trek since the end of Wrath of Kahn and TNG's The Inner Light. Still moves me to tears even upon recent 3rd viewing since it's premiere. A definitive classic.
Bob
Thu, Jan 15, 2009, 3:34am (UTC -5)
IMO, this is the best episode of Star Trek ever produced. Brilliant story with amazing acting. What more can you want?
Phillip
Fri, Jan 23, 2009, 2:11pm (UTC -5)
Just rewatched this episode. I still find it very moving - the final time Sisko reappears and is sitting watching Jake sleep - fantastic! For pure emotional impact, nothing but "Inner Light" and possible "Children of Time" compare. Makes me wonder about how Jake reacted to his father taking up residence in the wormhole with the prophets...
Nicolas
Mon, Feb 2, 2009, 7:52pm (UTC -5)
This was not a bad episode but I'm having trouble understanding what makes it the best ever. I am a big crybaby and I didn't cry during this episode, mostly because I knew there would be a "Reset button" at the end. This episode was as good as Voyager's "Year of Hell", but not better.
Alexey Bogatiryov
Sun, Mar 1, 2009, 11:18pm (UTC -5)
WOW, watched it again - almost 15 years since it aired and it still get me. I think this is absolutely the best piece of sci-fi ever made. Best performance by Jake's character in the entire series. Wonder what Michael Taylor is up to today?
Bookmark
Sun, Mar 29, 2009, 2:20pm (UTC -5)
My favourite episode -- not just within DS9, but within all of Star Trek. It just clicks on very possible level.
Dimitris Kiminas
Sat, Apr 25, 2009, 6:00pm (UTC -5)
Great episode, but I cannot understand the 'temporal mechanics' of Sisko returning to the original time of the accident.

I understand that originally Sisko was there, then had the accident, then vanished. I was expecting that after the bond with Jake was cut, he would re-appear right after he had vanished.

Now, I guess to make it more dramatic, they show him a little before the accident, like he came back then. But how could he? There was a Sisko there already. Shouldn't there be 2 Siskos' until the previous one vanished? He was somehow switched with the original Sisko? (remember that we now see a Sisko who before the accident possesses the knowledge to avoid the accident, knowledge that was gained after the accident!)

And if he was switched, wasn't the moment in time he got back selected arbitrarily just to suit the plot? Why not appear 1 hour before the accident or 1 hour after? I mean the only logical time for his re-appearance would be the exact moment of his original disappearance...
Destructor
Sun, Jul 12, 2009, 7:54pm (UTC -5)
Watched this last night, bought me to tears as usual. Even thinking about it tears me up a little.
PM
Tue, Jul 21, 2009, 9:43am (UTC -5)
Truly excellent. This episode is exhibit B on why DS9 is the best Trek, behind Duet and ahead of The Siege of AR-558.
Athena
Fri, Sep 11, 2009, 8:33pm (UTC -5)
Late to this series -- now watching from the series box set. I have grown to love the series.
However, I can't understand the excessive praise for this episode. Another "this never happened episode" - dark and very unflattering for jake and his life choices in an alternative time line.
I honestly felt it was a waste of "time" no pun intended . . . but then i am not a fan of temporal shifts or actions with no consequences and stories are fantasies within the fantasy of the trek world.
While I was not moved like so many, I can see why some were moved but it just had nothing to do with anything in Star Trek or DS9 - it was all about living a life with no consequences because we knew very quickly on it was never going to happen.
Augustus
Tue, Sep 15, 2009, 6:57am (UTC -5)
A very emotional episode. Its style reminds me of a Twilight Zone or a Night Gallery story.
Patrick Stewart 4 President
Tue, Dec 1, 2009, 1:06am (UTC -5)
Yes, it uses the almighty Reset Button[tm]. Yes, it sports some technobabble. But does it matter? In this episode, these tools are used very effectively in order to be able to tell a truly unique story. One which has a profound emotional impact on anyone open to it.

Was always one of my favourites, and a prime example of how DS9 can shine.
Jonathan
Sat, Apr 17, 2010, 3:56am (UTC -5)
The reset button is a given the first moment you see Jake age. How else can Star Trek series continue? The most important thing is that this episode was a character exposition that explores Jake's personality and Sisko's influence through a What If situation. Given that Jake is without his father, what is he like. What will happen without Sisko in the grand scheme of things? (Klingons, Cardassians, etc). Overall, this episode had a few flaws including my doubts about this random young aspiring writer appearing out of nowhere, but in a sense her naivety played on Sisko's own suggestion to his son: to be a writer, you have to experience the world.
Christoff
Sun, Jun 20, 2010, 7:25pm (UTC -5)
Quite simply the best Star Trek Episode I have ever seen. I actually believe this is better than The Inner Light, and knowing how good that episode is, Its high praise!! The entire episode had a constant tone, you care about the characters (and although some people have said that the idea of this sexy young lady appearing at his house is unrealistic - you get "stalkers" all the time).

Everything felt right to me, the time and effort was taken in writing this story. It stands out among all other episodes.

and yes I did cry :p
Nick D.
Fri, Jul 16, 2010, 10:18pm (UTC -5)
Recently, I got done watching all 7 seasons of Voyager, and I was very impressed with the show, but wasn't as moved by their return home to Earth as I was with this one episode of DS9. This has to be one of the greatest Star Trek eppys I've ever seen, and the father/son relationship between Ben and Jake reminds me of how much I love and care for my father. I was submerged in the story as if I were Jake trying to save my own father ... I don't know what else to say but it just makes me appreciate my own father so much more ...
Denny W
Sun, Dec 19, 2010, 2:54am (UTC -5)
I just started watching DS9 after years of avoiding because I thought nothing could be better than TNG. DS9 is so amazing, and this episode crystallizes exactly why. I actually had to pause this episode and take some time before continuing it. I was in tears. Avery Brooks' (Benjamin) acting is just so resonant with me, I couldn't help but call my dad for a beer after I was done. My favourite part is when Jake is leaving the station, and it slowly fades into the distance... I cried. 4real
Nick M
Mon, Dec 20, 2010, 9:53am (UTC -5)
Been rewatching DS9 from start for first time in five years, and I forgot how much this episode moves me (along with It's Only a Paper Moon). No one has commented on it, but I think Cirroc Lofton was just so great in this episode, the moment he sees his dad "die" there is such pain in his eyes. The scene showing the memorial moved me, to see how crowded it was, great set dressing. And the simple scene of Dax hoding Jake on her lap stroking his head, he looking so hurt and destroyed by Sisko's death...wow.

I also have to say, I love Nana Visitor but sometimes think she overacts just a bit, but the scene where she and Jake discuss his getting off the station was perfectly acted, and the touching of the foreheads, so loving.

It was nice to see a Jake episode, I always liked Jake, he was the anti-Wesley (and I have no atred of Wesley like so many, just thought he was written so poorly). Jake is a normal kid and loves his dad. The Ben/Jake dynamic is one of the best and most overlooked aspects of DS9, but it kept the show so grounded in reality. It seemed the cast was showing their affection for Lofton in the scenes and that was wonderful.

(Just a not, I am not slighting Tony Todd, I thought he was really very good in this, and it was noce to see him in a non-horror/bad guy role!)

As to Paul Fox's comment: "but a pretty girl in a
skimpy dress is a touch trite" - um, sure she was pretty, but she was far from in a skimpy dress. She was covered from head to toe. I can understand if you wanted to see that lovely lady in a skimpy dress, but thems just ain't the facts. LOL

Great episode, outstanding.
Elliott
Mon, Dec 20, 2010, 9:07pm (UTC -5)
I know I'm going to be stepping on a lot of toes with this one, but here it goes...this episode wants to be so much better than it can be (just listening to the score points that out, it is rife with a seriousness that the episode content can't deliver upon). The episode is emblematic of one of the great ironies of the series, that the best characters never appeared in the opening credits (at least not the actors portraying them). This episode is potentially an okay story about carrying regrets and so forth, but the technobabble side of things muddies the waters significantly. It's hard to fall into the emotional depths Todd is going for when he's talking a bunch of nonsense about subspace... there are other superficial flaws like the silliness of Dax and Bashir in that ageing makeup, no talk about how stupid the Bajorans are AGAIN, but none of those don't comprise the major flaw in the episode. Jake goes through life miserably and broken because of an accident which robbed him of his father. Now, either it's an allegory for untimely loss, which is relatable and relevant to anyone or it's not. If it is, then what is the message here? There is no way to get over that loss and in the end it will destroy you unless you have some fancy fake science to hit the reset button. It may be an allegory about the afterlife, which is more silly than the first alternative, and that "subspace connection" represents the love between Jake and Benjamin, again furthering the notion that one should never come to terms with loss. It's not a terrible episode, but it's damned confused and as usual Brooks' acting leaves much to be desired. The best scene is an early one between Kira and Jake where she agrees to let him stay on the station, it's the only one with believable character motivations. The character of Melanie is given no depth, she is just a sounding board, she could have been anyone. It could be that the story is trying to be about writing and creating art, in which case it's a definite failure, but it's done with enough care that I won't be that hard on it. Overall, it's pretty confused with some touching moments that have no relevance outside the particulars of this episode, making it about average for DS9.
Elliott
Mon, Mar 14, 2011, 2:22am (UTC -5)
Bob : "Transcends Trek, all together, and speaks to the human condition."
Star Trek is a commentary on the human condition more than anything else, how does one "transcend" that to itself?

Paul : "My girlfriend HATES Star Trek. She cried during this episode. 'Nuff said." Can't argue with that one.
Stubb
Wed, May 18, 2011, 9:46am (UTC -5)
I won't go as far as Elliot, and I was certainly affected by several parts of "The Visitor". But the Reset Button effect in this episode is just too darn overwhelming. While not ruining it outright, the RB still puts such a heavy damper on the proceedings that I wasn't 'transported' the way the best Trek episodes can.

I'll try not to belabor the point, but here's a synopsis:

1. Avery Brooks' over-emoting. It so SO hard to ignore a story's 'scaffolding' when I feel like I'm watching an actor perform, instead of a character living his life.
2. The aged crewmembers, and 'getting the gang back together'. This was just too pat and expected (although I did think Terry Farrell's age makeup was outstanding).
3. The surprise writer-guest. This worn-out storytelling tactic is another example of the 'scaffolding' getting in the way of the story.
4. Worst of all, the Reset Syndrome. The moment we find out Tony Todd is playing old Jake, we know nothing will 'take' at the end. Despite the episode's emotional power (and there is plenty), the unavoidable Reset taints it with a fairytale quality that can't help but detract from it.
Elliott
Wed, Jul 13, 2011, 12:13am (UTC -5)
I also wanted to point out an element in the production of this episode that really ticked me off : we have never seen a black Bajoran before--which simply implies that their species evolved differently and their skin colouring is effected by different phenomena than humans, vulcans or klingons--but because Jake has married a Bajoran woman, she must be black. This, especially in the context of Star Trek, is offensive. I'm sure it wasn't written into the story, but someone's decision behind the scenes to cast racially in the 1990s is damned frustrating.

Upon another viewing, I'm afraid my opinion regarding the content hasn't changed much. There simply is too much in the way of awkward production, acting and techy script to get at the emotional heart, which as I've already said is unsure of itself. The episode is riding on a feeling, that of loss, but hasn't found a true premise to transform that feeling into a story. It's a glaring irony couched in this story about two writers.
Anti-Elliot
Thu, Jul 28, 2011, 8:50pm (UTC -5)
Elliot, you are dead inside.
Captain Tripps
Sat, Sep 17, 2011, 3:27pm (UTC -5)
"Jake goes through life miserably and broken because of an accident which robbed him of his father. Now, either it's an allegory for untimely loss, which is relatable and relevant to anyone or it's not. If it is, then what is the message here? There is no way to get over that loss and in the end it will destroy you unless you have some fancy fake science to hit the reset button."



This was already addressed. Jake DID get over his fathers death. He left the station, returned to Earth, began a successful career in writing, started a family, etc. The technobabble you deride, yet is pretty much intrinsic to Trek, is what makes his situation different from someone else's - he hasn't completely lost his father. Sisko continuously pops up in Jake's life, reminding the boy of everything he has lost just when he manages to move past it. By asking that question you seemingly ignored these pretty vital plot points.

Also Kai Opaka's actresses skin was darkened somewhat for that role (or she had a deep tan, I dunno). I always thought she was played by an african american until I went and googled it. I don't disagree tho that the conceit was unnecessary, especially for the show that gave us the first (American) black/white kiss.
Wonko
Thu, Dec 15, 2011, 5:38pm (UTC -5)
@Elliott We've seen black Bajorans before - I can remember one in The Siege off the top of my head, and I'm sure there would be more if I looked. However, the point about the racial casting is probably apt. It always niggled at me that Sisko's love interests were always black - Jennifer, Fenna, Kassidy...not impossible that it's accidental, but unlikely.
Paul W.
Mon, Feb 6, 2012, 10:38am (UTC -5)
This is a great episode, but it has a couple flaws that keep it from being DS9's best (or among the top five in ST history).

For one thing, this episode suffers from bad timing. The events of "Way of the Warrior" make "Visitor" seem out of place. I would have preferred this ep late in season three or later in season four. Oh, and the fact that the photo of Jake and Ben shows Ben with the shaved head, considering the shaved head was such a new thing at this point in the series, is a tad hard to swallow.

I also didn't like the fact that Kasidy Yates is nowhere to be found. Given that she was so important to Sisko only a week earlier, shouldn't she be in this episode, even if it's briefly? Of course, the same could be said for the end of season five and for much of season six.

Last point: Avery Brooks at some key points in the series misses the mark, and I think he does with the "Jake, what's happened to you?" line. It's really awkwardly said. I liked Brooks for much of DS9, there are a few points (like this one) where he misses the mark at a key moment.

Oh, and it sucks for Cirroc Lofton that he couldn't be in much of the biggest Jake episode the series ever tried (other than "Nor the Battle of the Strong").
DARKJEDI
Wed, Apr 25, 2012, 9:41pm (UTC -5)
the best episode ever of ds9
Paul York
Sun, May 20, 2012, 5:50am (UTC -5)
I can identify with the Jake in the timeline shown here, because at age 19 I lost my father suddenly (car accident) and he visits me in my dreams periodically, it seems every year or every few years, and when this happens it seems as though he never died. I am now almost as old as he was when he died, so I can identify with the scene where they are both in sub-space and Jake is the same age as his father (or a bit older). I can also identify with the feeling of having wasted time when I know he would have preferred me to spend it wisely, living. So this episode is very close to home. I like the character of Sisko a lot, because he is such a good father. Here he shows it by always urging his son to do what is best for him, to live his life fully, despite the misfortune of what has happened to them ... In a way this story represents what happens when we lose our parents - how they stay with us for the rest of our lives. But the sci-fi angle with alternate timelines and sub-space adds a new twist on it that is quite compelling and moving.
Ian
Sun, Jul 29, 2012, 3:30am (UTC -5)
Actually, as well down as the episode is, it does destroy not only the continuity, but the entire plot as established, especially regarding Sisko's role as the emissary and the Dominion war arc...
John
Fri, Aug 3, 2012, 9:46am (UTC -5)
As close to perfection as you're likely to see on television.

On a side note, I always thought the titular 'visitor' was Captain Sisko; dropping in on his son's lonely life over the years.
John
Mon, Aug 6, 2012, 3:27am (UTC -5)
On another, less relevant side note, and almost imperceptibly, Kira gets a new bitchin uniform from this episode.
Cindi
Sun, Aug 12, 2012, 3:14pm (UTC -5)
This tries to be the DS9 Inner Light and although it does surprisingly good, it's got nowhere near the emotional impact of IL.

The reason I say surprisingly is because I didn't imagine there can be a really good "emotional" episode within the DS9 universe or any other Star Trek except TNG. The only reason Inner Light could work so well is without doubt Patrick Stewart, the only truly first class actor ever cast in ST. Avery Brooks is just too much of a one-dimensional TV actor to pull off anything more subtle than "Sisko to the bridge, give me the status report". And the strange girl was certainly no Margot Rose.

But it has its moments, the directing is excellent, Todd's AND Lofton's (yes) performance is eminently watchable and some scenes (like the Kira-Jake one) truly stand out. But it's NOT Inner Light.
Cindi
Sun, Aug 12, 2012, 3:31pm (UTC -5)
Just an addition to my comment about how average Avery is - roll to around 28th min, where he's sitting on a sofa with Junior and says: "Talk to me. I've missed so much. Let's not waste what little time we have." What a terrible delivery.
Steve
Mon, Aug 13, 2012, 10:14am (UTC -5)
Am I the only who noticed this wasn't a total reset? In the final scene, Ben Sisko clearly remembers everything that happened.
Cail Corishev
Mon, Sep 17, 2012, 3:10pm (UTC -5)
Steve, that's what I thought too, that Ben remembered things, at least from his perspective.

To me, the time to complain about the Reset Button is when the crew gets into a dire situation and you're wondering how the writers are possibly going to get out of it, and at the last moment a god-like alien or some bit of technobabble comes out of nowhere and snaps everything back to the beginning, no harm done.

This isn't like that because Jake starts trying to fix the problem early on, and you know it's just a matter of time until he does. The dire situation is just a backdrop for the character interplay. You don't spend the hour wondering, "Is Ben really dead?" or even, "How will they bring Ben back?" Those details aren't important; what's important is the life Jake led while he was gone and what happens during his visits.

Incredible episode. It seems odd to call it the best episode of DS9, because it's not really about DS9, and the main actor is a guest star! If someone asked me what DS9 episode to view to get hooked on the series, I wouldn't pick this one, because it doesn't tell what the show is about. This story could have been told on any show with an established father/son pairing and a sci-fi/fantasy way to setup the situation -- and great writing, acting, and directing, of course. I just call it one of the best TV episodes I've ever seen, and leave it at that.
Bob
Tue, Sep 25, 2012, 9:39pm (UTC -5)
OK, I was the Bob who posted in 2007. I just reviewed this episode, again, and it has aged extremely well.

Any person who loved his or her father would regard this episode on par or better with "Good Bye Lenin", which portrayed the love of a son for his mother. This episode still emotionally effects me, more than a decade later.

A previous poster commented on my original post saying that all of Trek speaks to the human condition. This is wrong.

Star Trek presents a sort of utopian vision for the future - this was typical in the 1960's, when kids were rebellious and parents were passive. Everyone had this irrational notion that things were always going to get better. It was a delusion that drove many to complacency. Unfortunately, the real world kicked that shit in the balls around 1980 when Reagan stole the election by bribing the Iranians, and it was apparent that unless you were super-rich, your life had no value to the powers that be. The rest of the world was soon dragged into our nightmare.

Even Star Trek has been "rebooted" into this horrible Battlestar Galactica ripoff that makes the Vulcans into a bunch of arrogant high-elfs and the humans into a bunch of neo-cons. It's sick and pathetic. Only a third-rate TV director could fuck up Star Trek this epically. The franchise is pretty much dead, whether or not Viacom acknowledges it.

Yet, this episode still rises above what all the retroactive modifications to the Star Trek franchise have done to the story. It still says that, no matter what, you will always have some sort of love for your parents. No matter what happens, in the Star Trek Universe or the real-life universe, that there is always that thread to hold on to. That thread that makes us humans the paragon of animals.

Nothing on TV has distilled this down to its essence, before this episode. Nothing has since. Thus, I stand behind my original statement.

It is the Omega of the medium of television. Full Stop. One day, film may do better, and I'll be waiting.
Josh
Sun, Nov 25, 2012, 12:36am (UTC -5)
@Cindi: "The reason I say surprisingly is because I didn't imagine there can be a really good "emotional" episode within the DS9 universe or any other Star Trek except TNG."

Eh? I agree that Stewart is probably the finest Trek actor there has ever been, but really? Really? Or are you suggesting that only Stewart's involvement permits a really good "emotional" episode, and therefore these are only available to TNG?

I simply cannot fathom the criticism being levelled at this story, and the less said about Elliot's typically tiresome self-important nitpicking the better.

This is a timeless story, marvellously told, that is as tragic as it is affecting. I've never had a problem with Brooks' performance in this episode (even if he can be weird in some others - which is still less about his acting than Brooks' idiosyncratic speaking pattern) and Todd is, as ever, perfect.

And while I would never slag "The Inner Light", it hasn't aged quite as well for me, probably because it's more a dream of a nostalgic and perfect family life - the only tragedy is that it is something Picard seemingly will never have. It's a lovely story too, but more of a broad brushstroke of a man's happy life. Compared to Jake's life of obsession and sacrifice, I'm not sure it means as much to me as a viewer. As others have pointed out, it's not a "reset button" either, even if it doesn't come up again (except, interestingly, in Jake's last scene in the finale).
Junuxx
Wed, Nov 28, 2012, 11:47am (UTC -5)
Don't know why everyone compares the with The Inner Light. With it's sad alternate timeline of unfulfilled dreams and missed opportunities, I think it's closer to Tapestry. Which is also excellent, by the way.
Aldo
Fri, Nov 30, 2012, 5:02pm (UTC -5)
@Bob: You are right.. one of the best moments in television. Good Bye Lenin is also one of my favorites, but speaking of love between father and son, you should really see "La vita e Bella", stunning.

And "Cinema Paraadiso", atlhough in the latter we would be speaking of a father figure.

A real shame that the Start Trek franchise is dead on TV.. carried some real values.
Elliott
Tue, Jan 29, 2013, 1:34pm (UTC -5)
@ Josh: If those elements which bring the story down in particular don't bother you, like Brooke's acting, then there oughtn't be a reason for you to level anything but praise on this episode. That makes sense. But let's carry the "The Inner Light" comparison a little further:

1) Acting: In my opinion, the performances of Patrick Stewart AND importantly Margot Rose outshine those of certainly Lofton and even Todd (whom I deeply respect as an actor) by a considerably measure.

2) Production: "The Vistor" has many very-well crafted scenes--most of them in Old Jake's house in the Bayou--but also suffers from the occasional "filler" syndrom--most of them aboard the Defiant. TIL has literally no filler every scene is exactly what it should be without at any moment slipping out of the dramatic thread. It's like a brilliant play condensed into a 1-hour TV episode.

3) Technobabble: The only technobabble in TIL is some very, very low-key medical stuff from Beverly and the most rudimentary of establishing elements about the probe from Geordi and Data. Picard has literally no babble to spout. In "The Visitor", the lead character has to spit out, again and again, silly word vomit about fake temporal physics and warp drive, etc. Todd does fine with it, but it's not the kind of thing a character in the kind of emotional straights they were going for should ever have to say, let alone right in the middle of the apex of his journey!

Again, if these things don't bother you, I don't wish to rob you of your enjoyment of the episode, but for me, the abundance of flaws makes it a pretty good, but certainly not ground-breaking or quintessentially perfect episode of DS9 or TV in general. DS9 did do an episode that I think more closely achieves this end, for the record, and that episode is "Far Beyond the Stars." Infinitely better and it even has Sisko-Acting TM!
BirdSong
Sun, Mar 24, 2013, 2:42am (UTC -5)
Incredible episode. Very powerful and moving. The complaints I'm reading here are definitely coming from humans I do not relate to. OK, is it as good as The Inner Light? No. But nothing is, and we have to get over it. The Inner Light is like The Beatles of TV - it was surreal magic that will never be repeated. And Patrick Stewart's acting talent is light years beyond any other Trek actor. Robert Picardo is the only other actor that is anywhere close, and even he is no Patrick Stewart. However, we don't have to compare and judge everything based on that, and it is no reason to dismiss this incredible episode. As someone mentioned here, The Visitor is one of three Star Trek moments that transcend even Star Trek itself - the other two being the end of The Wrath of Kahn and the aforementioned Inner Light. Ignore the silly nitpickers and lose yourself in this amazing hour of TV. A masterpiece for sure.
chrispaps
Tue, Jun 18, 2013, 6:12am (UTC -5)
The way I see it is when an episode like this moves you to tears and stays with you for weeks and months, who cares about the minor questionable plot and technical details. Isn't the goal of moving you emotionally much more important than the goal of getting all details exactly right?
Caleb
Sat, Jul 6, 2013, 10:28pm (UTC -5)
Its a pure fantasy episode, I don't see why anyone cares about the implausible techno-babble or other minor details. If you accept the level of suspension of disbelief that the episode asks from you, it's terrific. If you can't, that's fine, but that's a personal subjective issue and not a major fault with the episode- which is touching and absorbing and has a number of valuable (and positive) messages about life and loss.
T'Paul
Sun, Jul 7, 2013, 1:21pm (UTC -5)
I can understand why people like this, like the Inner Light, but I have to agree with the Elliot camp...

It seems a little manipulative to me at times, along the lines of trying to hard to be moving. The story wasn't especially well-written or engaging, the aged crew gimmick is overdone, and the technobabble was poorly delivered by old-Jake. It seemed more like "let's be moving and heartfelt this week".

I think that Stewart's character growth was a little more convincing in the Inner Light. I feel that the old-Jake is inconsistent with the Jake we've come to know, whereas old Picard (both in the Inner Light and in the grand-finale of TNG) was what we might expect him to be.

Plus the story itself was a little bland. The earnest young writer going to see Jake didn't particularly do much for me either... too earnest, too worshipful.
ProgHead777
Sun, Jul 21, 2013, 5:16am (UTC -5)
ANYONE, hardcore Star Trek fan or not, that can watch this episode and deny it's one of the most powerfully moving stories in the entire franchise, has got their head in the wrong place. Period. FIRST CLASS STORYTELLING. Nothing else need be said.

DS9 was something special. It wasn't just a F&*(ing spinoff. It had something to offer. I present this as exhibit A... of many, many more to come.
Latex Zebra
Mon, Jul 22, 2013, 7:01am (UTC -5)
lol - Posted as Dan with my Vulcan Pregnant Wife.

Watched this again recently. A good episode and like most episodes with a 'reset' it just needs to be enjoyed for what it is.
I think there is reviewing an episode and then overanalysing an episode. A lot of the comments on here seem to be doing the latter.
Corey
Thu, Aug 1, 2013, 2:21pm (UTC -5)
This episode moves me to tears (several times during the course of the show) EVERY single time I watch it, and I've seen it at least 3 times. The acting/music/lines must be good enough, or I doubt that would have happened.

I'm not sure I'd call this the best DS9 episode, but clearly it ought to be in the top 10 of DS9 episodes. I guess I'm partial to Sacrifice of Angels. The Pale Moonlight was great too.
eastwest101
Tue, Sep 3, 2013, 6:30pm (UTC -5)
Am going through the DS9 series now and agree with some of the posters that this is a very powerful episode of DS9 but I still feel a bit let down by Avery Brookes performance, its the only fly in the ointment of what is a pretty strong episode.
Kotas
Wed, Oct 23, 2013, 12:40pm (UTC -5)
The best Jake and Sisko ep so far by a long shot.

9/10
G
Sat, Oct 26, 2013, 1:13pm (UTC -5)
My father died a couple years before this episode came out and I was Jake's age at the time. If anyone wanted to know what losing a parent young was like I would show them "The Visitor". There were some incidental things I found unconvincing, such as Sisko's mechanical "Sisko to Bridge" or Cirroc Lofton's pitiful "don't leave me" as running towards the empty sickbay bed, and that Jake used Melanie's name before she told it to him. But Tony Todd was brilliant. Generally it was a beautiful performance and probably one of my favorite episodes of Television of all time.
Kerriella
Fri, Nov 15, 2013, 6:07am (UTC -5)
I enjoyed Star Trek in reruns as a child with my mom, loved TNG as a teen but didn't continue once I got married in 91. In the last couple of months I have rewatched ST and finally watched all of TNG. The last week I have been watching DS9. I was simply going along enjoying it for the most part until this episode....
I am a television junkie and I would say The Visitor is in the top 10 and maybe 5 episodes of television of all time.
I had to take a break after this episode rather than continuing on. It's stuck with me and made me contemplate my life and my life choices like nothing has in a very long time. Am I living my life to the fullest?
Wonderful television.
Fish
Wed, Nov 20, 2013, 2:56am (UTC -5)
Incredible. All I can say.

Never posted on here before. Aware the site has been pretty dormant for a while. I just finished watching DS9, got into after watching all of TNG after deciding to download it when I caught "the Inner Light" on an Aussie TV channel when I got home from work one night.

This episode spoke to me on so many levels. Lost my dad a few years ago at age 18, and to keep seeing him periodically and not being able to gain any closure, well, it's worse.
And Jakes reaction and desire to help his dad is exactly what I would do, you feel like you owe them, they're your parent, and I can see exactly how it would consume his life in the way the episode portrayed.
Loved Tony Todd, love him as Kurn (I wish he'd become a member of the house of Martok, along with Worf), and thought he really nailed it.
Like I said, never posted on here, but this episode compelled me to.
Raymond
Fri, Jan 17, 2014, 5:27pm (UTC -5)
I've just watched this episode for the very first time on an early Sat morning. It was such a surprise that it moved me to tears and sniffles, even as I write this. Never thought it can still happen to a 41-year married guy :D

Very well done, DS9! The most awesome tv series to have aired, even after so many years.
Dusty
Tue, Feb 11, 2014, 9:30am (UTC -5)
Nothing I write could do justice to this. Anyone who dissects the continuity or technology issues with this (and I'm sure there are some) is missing the significance of the episode so completely. You think you understand, but you can't. At some point it becomes not only distracting, but meaningless, to analyze the internal logic of a TV show--especially one like this.

What is meaningful is the emotion the show evokes in us and how it builds its characters, and few episodes are more fitting examples of this than 'The Visitor'. I was riveted and deeply moved from start to finish. I wish I'd had a father like Benjamin Sisko.
kapages
Sun, Feb 16, 2014, 5:35pm (UTC -5)
Great story.
A few added flaws related to time travel:


-The writer found out about Jake's plan to reset the button. I would kill Jake if I were her, before Sisco reappeared. Jake was going to delete her life (alter history).
-Sisco has no significant impact on the Dominion history. He died, nevertheless, the Founders did not manage to succeed.
-If Dominion did not succeed without Sisco, there was no guarrantee if would fail with him. Reckless decision to roll the dice once again when the stakes are so high.
Josh
Sun, Feb 16, 2014, 5:49pm (UTC -5)
1. How is that a flaw? Are we to think that Melanie was sufficiently violently unhinged as to premeditate Jake's murder? She probably is more of a multiverse person anyhow.

2. You can't criticize the episode retrospectively based on events later in the series that were, at best, semi-planned.

3. The Dominion War only started after a few significant events. First, Dukat had to be "disgraced" in "Indiscretion", and we might suppose that Kira never even went on that mission after Sisko's death (please note the spelling of his name, by the way). Dukat's subsequent "Return to Grace" also stemmed from Kira's involvement. Now we can debate the overall importance of Dukat to the Dominion's eventual takeover of Cardassia, but in the meantime Martok's changeling impostor may still have been unrevealed. As the "future" of "The Visitor" suggests, Sisko's "death" was instrumental to the undermining of relations with the Bajorans. Later - even if the Dominion took control of Cardassia - we could envisage an alliance between them and the Klingons against the Romulans or any other power.

In short, there are a lot of variables at play, and with the future history presented in this episode there is a lot of room to imagine a very different chain of events in the Alpha Quadrant. So, there you go.

Nitpicking is not uncovering "flaws".
Elliott
Sun, Feb 16, 2014, 7:18pm (UTC -5)
I agree with Josh. There are enough flaws in the episode as it is. To criticise the episode because it doesn't fit neatly into some geeky grand continuity puzzle is the same kind of griping I find so annoying on the Voyager pages. Judge the show for its own merits and weaknesses, because they're both there.
kapages
Mon, Feb 17, 2014, 2:31pm (UTC -5)
In my opinion Elliot, nitpicking is the stuff u wrote above.
Riding on a feeling, married to a black bejoran etc.

When you deal with time travel on a sci-fi show, u have to do your homework.

a)Josh, erasing 70 years of history is dangerous. Rolls the dice again. Its not retrospective.
No matter what happens in the series, Jake didnt know. All he did know, is that Earth was standing, Dominion did not take over. Or anyone else.
You dont change history lightheartedly.

Let alone, its immoral (destroys lives).
Its an issue that deserves at least some consideration on Jakes part (although I can understand his dramatic perspective, as well as I can understand Janeways perspective when she decided to travel back and destroy some Borg).

b) The female writer was informed that her existence was going to be terminated. She was either too stupid to realise it, or too overwhelmed by the tragedy of Jake. Nevertheless, even a small complaint from her would increase the intellignece factor of the episode considerably.

Anyway, like I said, great dramatic story, great episode, 4 stars
but its scifi, and I'm tired of not addressing temporal issues when its the core of the episode.
Eric
Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 8:49pm (UTC -5)
I was under the impression that both timelines continued to exist.
Chris
Wed, May 14, 2014, 12:23am (UTC -5)
A great episode. It was a bit strange that Tony Todd was the adult Jake when Cirroc Lofton is essentially already an adult (kind of like the absurdity of the already adult Josh Radnor somehow becoming Bob Saget in "How I Met Your Mother"), but that can be chalked up to Cirroc Lofton not having the acting chops that Tony Todd does.

This could be a standalone drama episode that could be recommended to a non-Trek viewer if not for the Nog scene about females chewing his food for him, which, if you don't know what that's about, screams for explanation.
dlpb
Sat, May 17, 2014, 1:27pm (UTC -5)
Comparing this to The Inner Light is laughable. That story was a nice, well written tale. This is a cobbled together monstrosity that makes almost no sense whatsoever.
Geordie
Thu, May 22, 2014, 11:26pm (UTC -5)
Just recently watched ds9 for the first time on netflix. I always heard this episode was so moving and awesome. This episode was blah. I feel like people are told this episode is one of the best so they just go along with that. I can't believe people cried. More power to you if you did though. Nog a captain? Yeah right. and this episode focuses on jakes love of his dad. I appreciate that but this is also the same Sisko who was willing to let his son die so the wormhole aliens could use his body. They aren't gods. They are beings in a wormhole who he had to teach what linear time was and he's willing to let his son die. He didn't even say goodbye to jake in the last episode
BobMarleySisko
Sun, Jun 22, 2014, 12:04am (UTC -5)
Can someone explain to me why old Jake has a Jamaican accent? I haven't read all the comments so maybe someone has addressed it. It would be like if stng had an episode where there was a old Wesley Crusher who had a Scottish accent
Elliott
Sun, Jun 22, 2014, 12:59am (UTC -5)
@BobMarleySisko:

It's not a Jamaican accent, it's just the way Tony Todd speaks. I can't blame Todd for not better imitating Lofton's vocal inflections because they are so awful, it would make Todd look foolish, but it does add to the strain on the suspension of disbelief that Jake Sisko ever turned into this guy.
Nonya
Tue, Jun 24, 2014, 11:49pm (UTC -5)
Ultimately, I was bored by most of this episode. Nothing I cared about happened, and Cirroc Lofton's character was never interesting enough (or well enough acted) for me to care about him. The things that happened were all techno-babbly and boring. Despite a few good emotional moments, there's no real reason to watch this more than once.
Robert
Thu, Jun 26, 2014, 9:59pm (UTC -5)
For me, this is a fabulous episode. I remember the first time I saw it I was startled by how good it was (for me). Still moves me emotionally when I get a chance to view it.
Chris L
Fri, Jun 27, 2014, 12:45am (UTC -5)
I'm with dlpb, comparing The Visitor to The Inner Light is a joke. The Inner Light absolutely blew my mind. The Visitor had a thin, predictable, and far fetched plot that was poorly acted. Avery Brooks is an unmitigated disaster. Commenter above had it exactly right, instead of watching a character, I feel like I'm watching someone trying to act. I can't get over how bad it is. So distracting. I've seen TNG, and all of DS9 up to The Visitor, and I'm finding it harder and harder to keep watching this garbage. TNG was fantastic, DS9 makes me want to scissor kick the entire cast and writing staff. Sorry for yelling, and thanks for letting me vent. At least Worf just showed up, hopefully that'll help this dumpster fire along. Only reason I force myself to continue to watch is because I'm a trooper on a mission to watch the entire franchise. Please pick up during Season 4 DS9!!!
Yanks
Thu, Jul 31, 2014, 2:06pm (UTC -5)
@ Elliot & everyone.

"Jake goes through life miserably and broken because of an accident which robbed him of his father."

I think everyone is missing the point here.

Jake doesn't go through life miserably because he lost his father, he goes through life miserably because he isn't allowed to lose his father. When he did lose his father he really didn't. Sisko kept appearing and THAT had to be the hardest thing ever! Can you imagine?

I hate to bring this up again, but Avery's acting all but ruins this episode. Damn... how many times does this happen in this show? It’s so damn frustrating!

Tony Todd. I always thought his delivery problems were because of the Klingon mouth-pieces, but I guess not. He has such a hard time pronouncing words clearly, vocalizing (whatever it's called)) I strain to understand him. His performance wasn't a bad one though.

I thought Andrew's daughter Rachel Robinson as Melenie was a bright acting part in this episode (although she wasn't given much, she does have a nice screen presence). Cirroc once again carries the scenes with Sisko. He and Kira together were wonderful in this one.

When they got "the gang" back together all I could think of was 'All Good Things'...

I don't think the "reset" thing here applies, we all knew Sisko wasn't going to leave the series, so we knew Jake would get him back. It was Jake’s journey that made this one special. Many, many wonderfully touching moments in this one.

I really enjoyed this episode, but I don't rate is as highly as most.

3.5 for me.
bhbor
Sat, Sep 13, 2014, 11:01pm (UTC -5)
People often get on Ciroc Lofton's case about poor acting but when Sisco appears for the second time and they have him inside of sickbay, there is a moment where Jake and his father are alone and Jake can't even speak- he just drops his head and cries. Lofton portrayal of loss is so convincing in this scene that I want to cry with him. It was a simple, dialogue free moment that said it all.

Brilliant episode with far more of an emotional impact than the also brilliant "Inner Light"
Robert
Mon, Sep 15, 2014, 8:56am (UTC -5)
@bhbor - I agree. Lofton may not be Tony Todd, but I think it's important to remember that he gets a lot of fluff/lighter comedy scenes too. When he gets heavy scenes (like here) I really DO think he can handle it.

I think when you look at episodes like "Shattered Mirror", "The Visitor", "Nor The Battle To The Strong" and "Rapture". Most of those deal with loss (the loss of his mother, father or potential loss of his father)... weighty topics and he handles it. I also think that as the star of "Nor The Battle" he really shines. I think they could have given him a lot more to do but considering their decision to not have him go to Starfleet it was probably hard sometimes.

And I'm not saying he can't pull off a light episode ("In the Cards" is a personal favorite), I'm just saying that it's easy to forget that he actually can pull off a weighty episode on the rare occasions they let him. Or at least I think he can. And his relationship with Ben Sisko was so dead on that it'd be impossible for me to believe they weren't close IRL.
Del_Duio
Tue, Nov 4, 2014, 10:57am (UTC -5)
I never get tired of this episode, and it's always in my list of best DS9 episodes for any new viewer.

Very powerful stuff. I didn't realize that the girl showing up at old Jake's house was Andrew Robinson's daughter in RL but upon a recent viewing you can totally tell.
Diane
Thu, Feb 12, 2015, 5:07am (UTC -5)
After all of these years I watch this episode again and start bawling. I can't say this is the best episode of DS9, but it is one of the best written, the love between father and son and the impact of the loss just melted my heart. I just love the relationship between Jake and Ben.
Dimpy
Sun, Feb 15, 2015, 10:08am (UTC -5)
I admit I did cry long ago, but now I found it kinda boring and unrealistic. Why would Jake ruin his whole life over ghost dad. and after so long apart, if he sees his dad reappear, why not just say hi and a quick conversation, rather then pine away. Its like seeing a friend you haven't seen in a long time, just say hi and get over it.

Still - its the best Jake episode, and the best part is, Cirroc Lofton is hardly in it. I guess that's why Jake "fans" love it.
MsV
Mon, Mar 2, 2015, 3:15am (UTC -5)
@Dimpy Why would Jake ruin his whole life over ghost dad....

Love. and he could not let go, every time he tried to...Dad appeared. His father was not dead, but lost in time. It would have been easier if Ben had died, but he didn't.
Dimpy
Mon, Mar 2, 2015, 5:08pm (UTC -5)
@ MsV

He did ruin his life:

Stopped being a writer.
Lost his wife.
Years of study in advanced physics ( even though he doesn't come across as very bright )

... I admit its a sad circumstance. If someone close to me died, then reappeared after years apart, I would feel sad. But, possibly, mothing could be done.

... say hi, feel sad and mourn again, then leave it. Sisko himself wanted more for Jake.
Dimpy
Mon, Mar 2, 2015, 5:09pm (UTC -5)
mothing = nothing

Oops
Icarus32Soar
Tue, Mar 3, 2015, 9:05am (UTC -5)
A nonsense episode, shocking make up, some really dodgy overacting and not convincing. The Reset theme made all the "emotion" laughable.There are many better episodes of the father son thing done more subtly elsewhere on DS9 than this ununnecessary flood of tears.The writers should have obeyed the temporal prime directive and not engaged in plots with time loops, they are always aabsurd.DS9 does have some of the greatest episodes in the history of sci fi TV, but this isn't one of them.
Soundchaser
Fri, Mar 6, 2015, 7:38am (UTC -5)
I'm still kinda new to Star Trek, since I'm exploring it starting last year. I first saw the 2009 reboot and then got interested in the old TOS movies, watched them all and then finally the TNG movies and the TNG series. (and Into Darkness) I checked out the TOS series as well, but I only liked few of the episodes...(I love the Kirk crew, but most of the stories are really silly and stupid to me) Until now TNG is THE Star Trek to me and I like the series the most, and I'm also a huge fan of the "The Inner Light" episode, which is my favourite one of the whole series.

I now went on to DS9 and wanted to give this series a chance. Unfortunately most of the first three seasons was disappointing/average to me, as I always see much potential in the characters and many stories, but it rarely works for the whole episode imo. I still find TNG much superior in story telling than DS9 until now.
I just startet season 4 today and already liked the first two episodes, but damn, THIS third episode here...I think I've found my "The Inner Light" of DS9! What a brillant episode! I loved it from the start and I still can't stop thinking about it - it's the same as with "The Inner Light". I'm curious how the series will continue from now on - until now I really like the fourth season. ;-)
Harrison
Fri, Mar 13, 2015, 2:42pm (UTC -5)
I couldn't agree more with this review, I was completely blown away by the magnitude of this episode. Many episodes of Star Trek knock blow me away, but by far this one brought me to tears almost immediately. I can't imagine how many times I've seen this episode, but every time I do, tissues surround me as soon as the credits begin. Beautiful piece of work.
RH-father-of-Z
Mon, Mar 23, 2015, 1:52am (UTC -5)
I was putting my toddler son to bed tonight, and as he fell asleep, I decided sit beside him and watch this episode. As I watched this superb episode, I felt a strong bond with my son, just as Jake feels for Sisko. What a moving episode!!! I've watched all other ST series and DS9 is my last unseen series. I can definitely say this is one of the top 3 episodes of the ST franchise. What an episode!!!!
MsV
Wed, Apr 22, 2015, 9:08pm (UTC -5)
@ Dimpy He did ruin his life

I agree with you he did ruin his life. I wrote what I did because I thought you were asking why would Jake ruin his life.
Azdude
Fri, May 8, 2015, 11:23pm (UTC -5)
Gotta give up my man card on this one. Made me all misty, not ashamed to say.
TNG has "Inner Light", DS9 has "The Visitor".
Both shows have the same wonderful message, that we all need to hear once in a while.

Don't take life for granted, especially when those you love are concerned.
Blackfire
Tue, Jun 23, 2015, 4:25am (UTC -5)
"there is a moment where Jake and his father are alone and Jake can't even speak- he just drops his head and cries"

I also lost my father as a boy. Whenever I do encounter him in a dream again, that's the only thing I can do, too. Probably why the episode resonates with me so strongly, those moments in particular.
Teejay
Thu, Jun 25, 2015, 3:13am (UTC -5)
While it doesn't take away frome the episode at all for me, I have one small nitpick:

If they just discovered this wormhole at the beginning of the series, how do they know it's going to do this "inversion" thing? And even further, how do they know it only happens once every 50 years?
methane
Thu, Aug 27, 2015, 7:43pm (UTC -5)
A strong episode, though I wouldn't rank it as high as most here (I would say the same thing about "Inner Light"). I do think the acting is strong from everyone involved.

We often have dramas where a parent is willing to give everything up for his child; here we have a child giving everything up for his parent.

One thing noone has brought up yet: Captain Sisko's recurring appearances in Jake's life plays into his characterization as a man out of time. From his problems getting over the death of his wife in the pilot, to his devotion to the "dead" sport of baseball, to events that happen later in the episode "Far Beyond the Stars", Sisko is consistently out of step with time.

What does he do when he gets possessed by an alien consciousness? Well in "Dramatis Personae" we find out he builds a cool-looking clock! Time is a recurring theme with Benjamin Sisko.

Cail Corishev above said "This story could have been told on any show with an established father/son pairing and a sci-fi/fantasy way to setup the situation". While that is true, I think it resonates more strongly when Ben Sisko is the one dislodged from time; it fits the DNA of the character.

Some (maybe all?) of the elder Sisko's ties to time trace back to the wormhole aliens. Junuxx above compared this episode to "Tapestry". I couldn't help but wonder if the wormhole aliens are playing a role here, just as Q did in that episode. The technobabble starts with the "inversion" of wormhole, so they're present, even if unseen.

If they are playing a role, I'm unsure what it is. They could be presenting the whole thing as a vision to the father, showing him how much his son still cares for him even as an 18 year old. Or perhaps they didn't cause the event, but they're somehow helping the son get his father back.

Ultimately, there's nothing here proving the wormhole aliens are involved, but it would fit them.
Thorus
Wed, Sep 30, 2015, 5:23pm (UTC -5)
I wouldn't call it the "greatest episode in the history of tv", as some here have gushed, but it's a darn good one. Very emotional.

The acting of Tony Todd is a bit of a letdown. He has a certain je ne sais quoi about him and he probably made more money than Tom Hanks with his gazillion B roles, but it's evident why he's not a lead actor.

But Cirroc Lofton is shockingly good. Best scene is when Capt. Sisko appears for the second time, lying on the bed in the infirmary and asks Jake if he's doing alright .... the reaction of Lofton here is perfect - quiet desperation. Got the waterworks started here.

I cannot suspend my disbelief pertaining to the poison Jake took at the end. It's slow acting, as he has several hours to live. Slow acting poisons are the most difficult to predict. Seeing as his dad usually just hangs around for a few minutes, that gives him an insanely small window here.
He should have taken a fast-acting poison when Ben appears. That would have made for an even more dramatic scene in the end.

I didn't like Jake's phrase in the beginning: "The worst thing that can happen to a young man - to lose his father." Seeing as he's lost his mother only a few years prior, it seemed kinda insensitive, even after 100 years and given the super-close bond they had before and after the accident.

No offense to the actor playing Nog, but he's distracting. I'm not a tall man myself and because of this I object to heightism, but this guy lacks inches AND presence. The scene where he stands between Jake and his wife is ridiculous, he looks like a child.

PS: for the people who bemoan the "Reset Button" - this story can OBVIOUSLY not be told without one, so what are you harping on about?!
Del_Duio
Thu, Oct 1, 2015, 10:31am (UTC -5)
^^ True, only Sisko retains any memory of any of it. ^^

It would have awesome if they somehow worked that in to a future episode, I mean I don't know HOW they could have done it but it'd have been cool just the same.
Robert
Thu, Oct 1, 2015, 11:08am (UTC -5)
In the final episode they needed a scene before the Defiant leaves where Jake is worried about the battle and Ben reassures him that he'll be back and that when he returns Jake should bring Korena to dinner. Jake protests, saying they only just started dating a week ago and Ben smiles and says he thinks she's a keeper.
Del_Duio
Fri, Oct 2, 2015, 10:38am (UTC -5)
^^ Yeah, see that's a great idea! ^^
Quarkissnyder
Tue, Nov 3, 2015, 2:30pm (UTC -5)
Guess I'm in the minority, but this episode did nothing for me but make me cringe. People lose their parents and don't get to mope around their old apartment without paying rent. Why would any of Sisko's so-called friends let Jake just sit there and rot? He needed to either get a job or go to school or at least move in with his grandfather.

This is the type of episode I would make my kids watch to tell them what not to do if I die.
Quarkissnyder
Tue, Nov 3, 2015, 2:33pm (UTC -5)
Also, Jake needed to slap some sense into the girl who wants to be a writer but doesn't write. Really?

Also, I found it really creepy that she walked into a strange man's house. I was sure one of them was going to murder the other.
Quarkissnyder
Tue, Nov 3, 2015, 2:36pm (UTC -5)
Also, why wouldn't she have known his history? She said she read his biography, and everything that happened must have been a matter of public record. Does google not exist in the 24th century?
Diamond Dave
Fri, Dec 18, 2015, 1:33pm (UTC -5)
I will echo Keith DeCandido's comment on the tor.com rewatch: "Let me be blunt: if you don’t think this is one of the ten best Star Trek stories ever told, then you have no soul and I have nothing to say to you."

Every so often you will watch a piece of sci-fi that transcends the medium. It happened with The Inner Light and it happened here. And it happened on the strength of the performances - Tony Todd, Cirroc Lofton and yes, Avery Brooks - and not from what is actually a relatively weak plot. If you want to pick the plot apart then that's your privilege. For me, I will take the emotion and the depth and the bravery it takes to pull out an episode like this. Because that's where the richness is to be found here.

Wonderful score towards the end too. 4 stars, no question.
William B
Sun, Jan 10, 2016, 4:30pm (UTC -5)
I've started writing a comment on this a half-dozen times and I've come up empty each time. At the moment, consider me neither a champion of the episode nor a full-on detractor.

Rather than a full review, I want to make a few comments, particularly on areas that are relevant to later episodes:

1. When Jake snaps Sisko back to the Defiant, does he believe that he is creating an alternate timeline, in the Abrams Trek model (or the model that is at least officially stated...), or does he believe that he is erasing the last several decades from existence entirely? The model where changing the past creates a new branching of the multiverse, or whatever, seems not to have been used at any point before this episode, and it's pretty essential to "Children of Time" coming up that there is only a single history. At the same time, purely pragmatically, why would Jake bother giving Melanie his stories and give her the "look around you!" if his plan would wipe her from existence? I think this has been a stumbling block for me for a long time to even talk about the episode, because the Jake-Melanie scenes take on *extremely* different meanings if Jake's actions are going to erase her life entirely, or if he is genuinely gifting her with the last remnants of his life before *he* dies.

2. SPOILER FOR ENTIRE SERIES FOR THE REST OF THIS POINT: Famously, "What You Leave Behind" refers back to this scene, when Sisko disappears to join the Prophets, doesn't talk to Jake, and then Jake stands looking out of the station with Kira at his side. It's a nice visual echo, and that moment somehow loads this episode with extra meaning. Sisko disappears from an electric blast while watching an exciting wormhole event; the wormhole is connected to the Prophets and Sisko's interest in the wormhole is part of his general attachment to the Prophets in particular and the Bajor mission in general. Sisko is the Emissary because he discovered the wormhole, after all, and so being killed because of the wormhole goes back to his Emissary status, if nothing else. I'll also note that an electric console blast is what gives Sisko the Prophet-visions which nearly kill him in "Rapture." So while it does not do so explicitly, Sisko's disappearance is to some degree related to his Emissary position.

And hey, what do you know -- the big Ben-Jake chasms that crop up in the next few years are mostly related to the Prophets and Sisko's role as Emissary: "Rapture" has Sisko trying to hold onto visions that are going to kill him and Jake has to go against Sisko's apparent wishes to save him; "The Reckoning" has the Pah-Wraiths inhabit Jake's body, and Sisko chooses to risk Jake's life in this mystical duel because of his big Prophets faith; and in "What You Leave Behind" Sisko disappears from Jake's life entirely to become one with the Prophets. Jake is supportive of Ben, to a point, on these Prophet journeys -- he goes with Sisko on his wacky vision quest thing at the beginning of season seven. But notice that Sisko is repeatedly asked to choose between his human connections, *Jake in particular*, and his devotion to the Prophets, and he chooses the Prophets in "Rapture" and "The Reckoning" and...well, maybe he "had no choice" in "WYLB" but he doesn't even go see Jake himself. Compare how Miles dealt with Keiko's Pah-Wraith possession in "The Assignment" to how Ben deals with Jake's in "The Reckoning." Admittedly, it's not always Prophets that divide them: there's Jake's war correspondent period, and Ben nearly abandoned Jake for the "Children of Time" colony.

Whether Sisko's devotion to the Prophets is justified is not really a good subject for this episode, but it does heighten the tragedy of this episode, and this episode makes the Ben-Jake material later on quite sad. Ben finds out in this episode how damaging it is for him to be half-in, half-out of Jake's life, and he also finds out that Jake basically gives up on everything in his life to reunite with Ben, even going as far as to kill himself to give his younger self a chance to be with his father. Jake wouldn't let go. In some ways, the story of this episode of Jake's restless inability to cope with his father's disappearance/quasi-death seems to me to be a possible story of what happens to Jake post-series, when Sisko really does go through this kind of half-death where he gets unstuck in time (becomes nonlinear). Those four years between "The Visitor" and "What You Leave Behind" may make a big difference, and Jake does grow up to some extent during that time, but will Jake be able to get over his father's sudden exit from his life? And even if Jake gets over it, will the new baby with Kasidy? Will he be able to make his own life? Meanwhile, Ben pretty clearly has other, higher priorities -- war, Bajor, Prophets....

That Ben will risk Jake for some greater good is not necessarily damning of him as a parent -- for instance, I think he is right not to go back to pick Jake up after Jake stays behind on the station, for one thing because, as Ben says, it's Jake's choice. I'm less convinced he did the right thing when it comes to "Rapture" and especially "The Reckoning," but let's say for the sake of argument that was the right thing. What does get to me, upon rewatching this episode, is that Ben sees how his "death," or his disappearing from his son's life, essentially destroys Jake, and seemingly does nothing about it in the present. Maybe his not visiting Jake in "What You Leave Behind" was his way of avoiding the "The Visitor" scenario -- if he doesn't visit Jake, Jake won't think to become a scientist! problem solved! -- or maybe he just forgets about it, or decides that there's nothing he can do. I'm not sure. But still. This episode lost something for me on this rewatch for various reasons (related to point #1), but what it gained is the recognition that this story really may be Jake's life after Sisko disappears, that despite it being an alternate future, it effectively represents the emotional turmoil that losing his father will give...along with a version of Ben who really does want to spend his rare few moments of existence with his son, which means that in some ways the "real" universe is actually worse for Jake.
William B
Sun, Jan 10, 2016, 8:20pm (UTC -5)
A bit more on point #2: I actually didn't specifically mean Sisko should do much to prevent his possible death or whatever. He has a risky job, and an important one. The issue is that Sisko maybe could have told himself before this episode that Jake would be okay if Sisko died (he got over Jennifer's death), but now he has a vision of the future of Jake never getting over Ben's death, eventually killing himself over it, which Ben interprets as a tragedy. Does Ben try to incorporate this knowledge of a possible future and try to make life better in the present (ala Picard in "All Good Things")? Does he try to talk to Jake and let him know the risks, and make absolutely certain Jake understands that if Sisko dies, or if Sisko somehow gets weirdly unstuck in normal linear time, that Jake should move on with his life? Maybe -- but future episodes make me doubt it, which is very sad. I suppose Sisko did not want to think about it.
methane
Sun, Jan 10, 2016, 8:27pm (UTC -5)
Watching this episode I felt that Jake would have gotten over his father's death...if he had actually been dead. It's when Jake realizes that if he does nothing his father will be lost to the void (not hell, but perhaps something like a hell) that Jake gives up everything to free him.

There is some emotional feedback in the episode. Jake fears his father is doomed not to death, but to a life of despair in nothingness, which causes Jake to despair. This motivates him to abandon everything else in his life to try and save his father, leading Ben to despair.

[The rest of this post has spoilers for the rest of the series, following William B's post, above]

The end of the series is similar in some ways, but completely different in others. Ben isn't alone, he's with the Wormhole aliens. It's certainly not hell; in fact, the Bajorans might call it heaven. Jake might not be able to talk to his father, but he knows his father could be watching his whole life. Jake also doesn't know that his father won't come out of the wormhole at any time.

Perhaps most importantly, Jake can't really do anything about it. I'd imagine at some point Jake takes a trip into the wormhole, says "hello", and sees if he gets a response. If he doesn't, there isn't really much more that he can do.

His father being in the wormhole might lead Jake to decide to stay in the Bajoran system, rather than moving somewhere else. Perhaps it will lead him to take up the Bajoran religion, or at least study it in detail. But I don't believe he will abandon writing, dating, or anything else we'd consider an essential part of living.
William B
Sun, Jan 10, 2016, 8:43pm (UTC -5)
@methane,

[series spoilers]

I agree that it's very different in that Jake can't do anything about Sisko being in the wormhole...probably. On the other hand, Jake was given the choice in "Rapture" of whether or not to pull Sisko back from his apotheosis with the Prophets, and there he chose to do so. Ben is probably not rescue-able from being in the wormhole, but there is precedent that Jake does not fully trust the Prophets to guide Sisko. I guess maybe Jake became a convert after feeling the big evil of the Pah-Wraiths within him in "The Reckoning." Although also, there was that whole "you shall know nothing but sorrow" warning to Sisko, which, if he told that to Jake (or Kasidy or Dax or whoever and they told Jake) might not exactly reassure him. Jake might throw himself into reading the ancient Bajoran prophesies, stumble on something that sounds vaguely like the Emissary will return when the wormhole blinks and interpret that as meaning that the wormhole has to undergo a [tech] [tech] and.... I mean, of course, maybe not!

Now, I'll grant that it's not as bad as it was in "The Visitor" in terms of emotional feedback -- Sisko is (probably) not going to come back regularly and with no control over it as he did in "The Visitor." However, "I'll be back! Maybe tomorrow...maybe...yesterday" is, Ben should realize if he thinks back, a potential recipe for difficulty moving on in one's life. Paradoxically, there is some implicit "I'm a demigod now, it's complicated you wouldn't get it, but wait for me please" in his words to Kasidy, which are the opposite of his "I don't know what's going on, but please live a happy life" message to Jake here.
bhbor
Thu, Jan 21, 2016, 12:28pm (UTC -5)
@ Quarkissnyder

"Also, I found it really creepy that she walked into a strange man's house. I was sure one of them was going to murder the other."

I've known lots of aspiring authors that have tracked down famous authors in order to conduct an interview.. usually they set something up in advance, but its really not THAT unusual.
icarus32soar
Mon, Feb 15, 2016, 8:38am (UTC -5)
Some of these reviews are worse than the episode. Why do you need to watch DS9 to have a good old cry? Just watch the evening news. Some "trekkies" are grist to the mill of the dodgiest ST writing and direction. This ep has all the depth and integrity of a Hallmark sympathy card.
Luke
Mon, Mar 28, 2016, 7:26am (UTC -5)
Okay, let's just get this out of the way right up front - in an episode that is chocked full of emotional scenes, the three where Jake tears up (with his father in the Infirmary, later in his house in Louisiana and later on the Defiant after fifty years) equal true sucker-punches right to the feels! Holy Lord were those scenes effective! The last time I've cried over a TV show or movie was when I was a little kid (and it was a Benji movie of all things) but those scenes brought me as close to it as possible.

I really couldn't add much more praise to "The Visitor" than Jammer already has with his final two paragraphs, so I'm not going to try. That is, other than to point out how much I loved Quark's scene (which was his only one in the episode, I believe). It really shows that underneath everything else, Quark does genuinely have a heart. Letting Nog off early so he could spend time in the holosuites with Jake just to cheer him (Jake) up was a beautiful thing for Quark to do, especially since he didn't stand to gain anything from it.

However, I don't think "The Visitor" is a perfect episode. There is one major flaw in it that I cannot ignore. For years people have roundly criticized Future Janeway for what she did in VOY: "Endgame" - changing the timeline for selfish, personal reasons. And I think people are fairly in the right to criticize her for that. But, if I'm going to criticize Janeway for altering the timeline in such a fashion, then I have to (in the interests of consistency and fairness) criticize Future Jake for doing the exact same thing here. Judging solely on this episode, the changes to the timeline he creates are going to have a profound effect. Case in point - Melanie, the eponymous visitor, might not exist in the altered timeline. Old Jake may have just condemned this woman to a fate of non-existence. And judging from what we learn from later episodes - Old Jake has one hell of a lot of blood on his hands! The Dominion War did not happen in his timeline. In fact, his timeline, while kind of bleak due to the relations with the Klingons, actually looks like it might have been better off! Several billion people are dead who otherwise would not have been because of his actions - most notably Jadzia! The fact that he is so fundamentally altering history is never even once commented upon either by the characters or the episode itself in any way either. As moving and as heartfelt as the episode is (and it is that in spades!) I simply cannot ignore this and sadly have to dock a point from it's final score.

9/10
Robert
Mon, Mar 28, 2016, 3:18pm (UTC -5)
@Luke - My issue with Janeway altering the timeline is not that she's selfish, it's that the episode is a condemnation of the series and quite possibly all of Trek. It IS selfish, but that's secondary. The heart of Visitor is a boy who needs his Dad. That's Jake's story. And Jake is a flawed character and being selfish makes him interesting. Here's the problem with Janeway (and what ultimately soured me toward VOY even though I enjoyed it at the time).

Season 1
Caretaker - Janeway makes the decision for 2 crews worth of people that saving the Ocampa is worth a 70 year trip home.

"JANEWAY: We're alone in an uncharted part of the galaxy. We have already made some friends here, and some enemies. We have no idea of the dangers we're going to face, but one thing is clear. Both crews are going to have to work together if we're to survive. That's why Commander Chakotay and I have agreed that this should be one crew. A Starfleet crew. And as the only Starfleet vessel assigned to the Delta Quadrant, we'll continue to follow our directive to seek out new worlds and explore space. But our primary goal is clear. Even at maximum speeds, it would take seventy five years to reach the Federation, but I'm not willing to settle for that. There's another entity like the Caretaker out there somewhere who has the ability to get us there a lot faster. We'll be looking for her, and we'll be looking for wormholes, spatial rifts, or new technologies to help us. Somewhere along this journey, we'll find a way back. Mister Paris, set a course for home."

Though getting home is the primary goal, this echoes a lot of Picard's "Let's see what's out there" from "Encounter at Farpoint". And it's from the first ever scientist captain. She bring an edge of optimism, moral character and fascination to the Captain's Chair. Let's bodly go together Captain!


Season 2
The crew, her crew becomes a family. Ensign Kim (the most homesick one) bids his girlfriend and his life on Earth goodbye to fix the timeline and bring the family back together. We have a few bumpy episodes, but I am enjoying the show and the feeling of Janeway as more than a Captain, but as the head of this family, this community (it's a feeling I got from Sisko as well that I really liked).


Season 3
Uh oh... Janeway is going off the rails. Voyager accepts the birth of it's first child, it sticks together as they are stranded on a planet but Janeway shows signs of questioning her first decision. In Season 1's Caretaker "I’m aware everyone has families and loved ones at homes they want to get back to. So do I. But I’m not willing to trade the lives of the Ocampa for our convenience. We’ll have to find another way home."

But in "The Swarm" she violates another race's territory to avoid a 15 month detour. Even Tuvok is shocked. And in Scorpion....

"JANEWAY: What do you mean?
CHAKOTAY: We’d be giving an advantage to a race guilty of murdering billions. We’d be helping the Borg assimilate yet another species just to get ourselves back home. It’s wrong!
JANEWAY: Tell that to Harry Kim. He’s barely alive thanks to that species. Maybe helping to assimilate them isn’t such a bad idea. We could be doing the Delta Quadrant a favour."

This is not the same Captain that made the decision to save the Ocampa. But then she flat out admits that by Season 5....


Season 5
In "Night" - "CHAKOTAY: We're alive and well, and we've gathered enough data about this quadrant to keep Starfleet scientists busy for decades. Our mission's been a success.
JANEWAY: The very same words I've been telling myself for the past four years. But then we hit this Void, and I started to realise how empty those words sound.
CHAKOTAY: Kathryn.
JANEWAY: I made an error in judgment, Chakotay. It was short-sighted and it was selfish, and now all of us are paying for my mistake. So if you don't mind, Commander, I'll pass on that little game. And I'll leave shipboard morale in your capable hands. If the crew asks for me, tell them the Captain sends her regards. "

The crew, this family defies their Captain and stays together. But Janeway never really takes it back. She DOES think that it's all a mistake. She gets over her depression when there are stars again, but she no longer doubts that Caretaker was a mistake, she's SURE it was a mistake. By the end of S5

"CHAKOTAY: If it weren’t for O’Donnell, you never would have joined Starfleet.
JANEWAY: Yeah, and I would have never have got you all stuck here in the Delta quadrant.
TORRES: It gave us all time to get to know each other.
EMH: Time for a family portrait of our own. Everyone, gather around the Captain please. Face the camera.
JANEWAY: To family.
ALL: To family."

We're still worrying about getting stuck? What would you rather do Captain? Undo the last 5 years and every life you've touched.... oh, wait....


Season 7
I'll skip straight down to S7, because this is getting long and there's a lot to cover.

In "Friendship One" - "JANEWAY: I think about our ancestors. Thousands of years wondering if they were alone in the universe, finally discovering they weren’t. You can’t blame them for wanting to reach out, see how many other species were out there asking the same questions.
CHAKOTAY: The urge to explore is pretty powerful.
JANEWAY: But it can’t justify the loss of lives, whether it’s millions or just one."

We now not only think Voyager's voyage is a mistake, but that all of Trek, all of exploration is! I don't usually speak for other people but if I could teleport Gene over to whomever wrote that line he'd SLAP THEM. FFS!!!!

The risk of exploration no longer justifies the means. Everything in her life, the life of a scientist is wrong. It all leads up to a grand finale where she ERASES SIXTEEN YEARS of Voyager’s journey to save Chakotay, Seven and Tuvok… even as a mentally ill Tuvok fights to stop her. The nutty guy knows that's she'd gone nuts.

I kept hoping that meeting Admiral Janeway, seeing where she ended up would FINALLY snap her out of this funk and cause her to toast alongside Kim "To the journey!" It's be amazingly satisfying if knowing that Seven/Chakotay die and that Tuvok is doomed she still decides to stay. What a refreshing reaffirmation of their journey that would be! Instead, nope.... 16 years gone! Is it supposed to hurt less that we didn't SEE those years? Did nothing happen during them? No children born that she held in her arms? No civilizations saved? Think of how many lives were saved in a random episode like "Warhead".

The first, and to date only, woman captain decided that we shouldn't explore because people might die. That is the legacy of the decision that Janeway makes. One might say that she did it for love (of Chakotay, Seven and Tuvok) and so does Jake (for his Dad), but I could never see Picard doing this. And furthermore, Jake has no reason of knowing his Dad is THAT important. He may feel, as Q once says "Please. Spare me your egotistical musings on your pivotal role in history. Nothing you do here will cause the Federation to collapse or galaxies to explode. To be blunt, you're not that important." Right or wrong nobody says Jake is the world's greatest philosopher. Janeway knows EXACTLY what WON'T happen in the next 16 years if she does this. It's kind of monstrous... on par with what Odo does in "Children of Time".
Chrome
Mon, Mar 28, 2016, 3:35pm (UTC -5)
To be honest, I think Janeway deserves more criticism than Jake if only because she's a Starfleet Captain and is supposed to uphold certain principles (i.e. The Prime Directive). And Janeway is extremely inconsistent with her own supposed principles.

Jake, on the other hand, is not in Starfleet. He's got his own ideas of what's right. He may be disregarding the needs of his timeline for his own needs, but at least he's sticking to his principles while not breaking any he swore to uphold.
William B
Tue, Mar 29, 2016, 6:47am (UTC -5)
The morality of Old Jake's behaviour is, to me, a big sticking point within the episode. As I see it there are two main ways to interpret this:

1. The episode has the "Abrams Trek" philosophy wherein the time travel material creates an alternate universe, and does not erase the events that have happened so much as create a new one;
2. Jake knows that he's erasing the last several decades from existence.

(1) is possible, but I don't think is supported by any Trek stories previous to this one.

The problem with (2) then is not just that Jake is extremely selfish, but that it IMO contradicts the entire Jake/Melanie interaction, which is one of the major aspects of the story. Jake gives Melanie advice on being a writer, spends a night telling her his story, sends her off with a copy of his book, and gives her parting words of wisdom on how to appreciate life as a whole -- all of which he apparently *knows* will be erased entirely. And further, *she* seems to understand that he is going to do something major shortly, though I guess presumably she doesn't figure out that it will be some weird time thing that will erase her from existence. I think that the most generous interpretation is that Jake really does know that she is doomed, and that her existence is about to come to an end, but that she really *does* want very badly to spend time with him, and that he can find it existentially meaningful to have last conversation, and tell Melanie to *appreciate life* so that she manages to find meaning in her last moments, maybe with his stories. It is pretty hard to fathom the idea that he genuinely believes that Melanie would like to spend her last hours of existence hearing *his* life story and then reading his stories, if she truly knew that he was about to end her existence. (And yes, even if Melanie were still born in the new timeline, she would have no memory of this conversation or the gift of that book....) It really seems to read to me that Jake is giving her that book with the expectation that she will read it, and continue her life afterward, somehow, which does not fit with what Jake is doing. That Jake has become reclusive and has stopped feeling attached to the universe around him in preparation for resetting the last few decades of the timeline I could see, but for the episode to invest so much time in him interacting with someone whose existence his going to erase is...an odd choice.
Luke
Tue, Mar 29, 2016, 8:15am (UTC -5)
Nicely put, William B. It is odd because I think the episode makes it very clear that Old Jake fully intends to reset the timeline - meaning that Melanie either might not be born at all (quite possible given how radically different the timeline becomes) or just won't remember the encounter (I doubt she'd have Guinan's extra-temporal sensibilities). So why is he giving her his new book? Obviously he intends for her to read it, but he also knows that she most likely won't be able to. I don't even know what to call this problem. A continuity error, sloppy writing - maybe? I usually don't like to engage in crit-fic but it really seems, at least to me, that the writers were trying to get us to ignore the wider moral implications of what Jake was about to do by giving us a sweet ending for the conversation.

Or maybe it is just an Abrams Trek situation. But, the less I think about Abrams Trek, the better my mental health will be. :-P
Luke
Tue, Mar 29, 2016, 8:54am (UTC -5)
@Robert - I don't blame Present Janeway for what she does in "Endgame", just like I don't blame Present Jake here. In a lot of ways I see it as similar to what Picard said in "A Matter of Time" - "You know, Professor, perhaps I don't give a damn about your past, because your past is my future and as far as I'm concerned, it hasn't been written yet!".

Present Janeway is fully within her rights, in my opinion, to take advantage of her knowledge of the future. Altering a future timeline doesn't bother me that much, possibly not at all. As Doc Brown would say, "the future's not set." It's the deliberate altering of a past timeline that really rubs me the wrong way. Future Janeway is willing to massively alter the past for her own selfish reasons. Future Jake is willing to do the same thing. In other words, they're both doing what the ENT villains in the Temporal Cold War were attempting to do (something ENT actually got right with that storyline).
Chrome
Tue, Mar 29, 2016, 10:29am (UTC -5)
@Luke and William B.

I'm not sure we have enough material to fully judge Jake here. Sisko is obviously an important person. He can help make a fleet of ships disappear ("Sacrifice of Angels") and form alliances that the Federation was not able to make on its own ("In the Pale Moonlight").

It seems like Earth turned okay in this episode, but we don't have full story. For all we know, it's ruled by Dominion now and billions have suffered from Dominion rule. True, the writers didn't include that in the episode, but they did hint at how unstable Bajor and station were becoming so it's possible a deadly conflict broke out.

Also, you're both acting as if the temporal phenomenon that took Sisko out of existence was perfectly justified. Isn't that phenomenon too messing up how history should unfold? Is Jake so wrong to not want to stop or counteract the effects of the phenomenon?
William B
Tue, Mar 29, 2016, 10:54am (UTC -5)
@Luke, agree, and definitely agree about Picard/Present Janeway. There might be something sketchy about using Future Tech, I guess, though I'd have to think about it (and if there is something sketchy about it, they shouldn't have been using the holo-emitter for all those years...).

@Chrome, I get your point. And there are episodes like "Yesterday's Enterprise" where Picard messes with the current reality based on the hope that another reality is better. However:

1. While "The Visitor" spends some time establishing how badly Sisko's death impacts things in the short-term (losing DS9, etc.), most relations seem to have thawed by the present (Klingons allowing wormhole access) and most of the people we see seem to be doing well in the future (Nog, Julian, Jadzia etc.). I think that the latter material is there for dramatic reasons -- to emphasize that while *everyone* takes Sisko's death hard, it is only Jake for whom the wound is permanent, and life (eventually) goes on for the rest of the quadrant while for Jake things stand still.

2. As Robert says, I don't think we actually are necessarily meant to view Jake as heroic here, and as you said Jake doesn't seem to have a Starfleet oath. I get that argument and I'm almost fine with it as massive tragedy -- that Jake wipes out an entire future as the result of personal loss. However it is hard to understand his attitude with Melanie in that case. He does not *act* like he is about to wipe out her existence throughout the episode, and his gift of the book and his advice to look around, etc., don't fit with her never having a chance to read it or look around. So it's not just "Jake is ethically wrong" but that his behaviour doesn't seem to make sense given what he is doing, and also that the episode invests a lot of time and emotion in his interactions with this woman he's apparently about to wipe out.
Yanks
Tue, Mar 29, 2016, 11:03am (UTC -5)
Exactly Chrome. You've stolen my post! :-)

Jake should be commended for restoring the timeline (the ONE timeline, just like it all trek to include JJ's addition.)
Robert
Tue, Mar 29, 2016, 2:38pm (UTC -5)
@Luke - I don't TOTALLY blame present Janeway for Admiral Janeway's actions. That said, it's a little different when the thing from the future you are taking advantage of is your own knowledge and tech that you went back in time to give yourself.

Though I suppose one COULD make the case that Captain Janeway wanted to use the future advantage to hit the Borg, not get the crew home. That was an afterthought. That does make it less selfish I suppose. But they could have done both. Destroy the hub and not wipe out 16 years of Voyager's journey. I don't know. I come down very iffy about it.
SamSimon
Sun, Apr 10, 2016, 9:38am (UTC -5)
This episode is pure perfection. Tears and shivers.
Mitty
Tue, Jun 7, 2016, 6:00am (UTC -5)
Although I love this episode and agree it is one of the best of DS9, it's since been surpassed by other singular episodes of other shows as what I would consider "The best hour of Television ever". For me they are "The Constant", from "Lost", and "Ozymandias" from "Breaking Bad". The latter was quite probably one of the singular most heart stopping Television outings I've ever had. I didn't sleep that night after watching it.

I rewatch "The Visitor" quite often. Probably the single elements that drag it down for me, are the elderly makeup on Dax and Bashir. Whilst their performances were fantastic, it was quite obvious they were wearing makeup. Maybe Westmore had a day off?
Yanks
Tue, Jun 7, 2016, 11:47am (UTC -5)
For all those dissing Jake for "resetting" the timeline, especially with regard to his wife and new found fan, I think you need to view this from possibly a "Tuvix" argument. Much like Janeway decision to "split" Tuvix to save Tuvok and Neelix, Jake is not just being selfish here, he's saving his dad as well.

Also, his new fan won't even know anything happened. ... and probably won't ever be his fan :-)

Pretty clear cut decision I think. I actually think it would have been selfish for Jake NOT to revert the timeline.
William B
Tue, Jun 7, 2016, 12:02pm (UTC -5)
But why bother giving his fan a book of his she won't get a chance to read, and life advice she won't have time to implement before she ceases to exist? It's not just Jake's decision, it's the way his behavior toward Melanie doesn't seem to fit with what he's doing.
Peter G.
Tue, Jun 7, 2016, 12:09pm (UTC -5)
"But why bother giving his fan a book of his she won't get a chance to read, and life advice she won't have time to implement before she ceases to exist? It's not just Jake's decision, it's the way his behavior toward Melanie doesn't seem to fit with what he's doing."

Makes the episode kind of sardonic, right? He even says that if she had come on any other day he'd have refused to see her. And yet it's not like he only planned this the day before; it was years in the making. So why was that day in particular so special? Because it was the only day where if he told her everything she'd never have a chance to tell anyone. He knew for a fact she was going to cease to exist right after she left, and so it was like giving her a last request before her execution. This isn't how it comes across in Jake's energy and I don't think it was the script's intention, but damn, that's pretty much what it is.

I guess one could argue that he knew he'd be dead and so no one would be able to stop him at that point, in which case that timeline would continue and the reset timeline would branch off somewhere else. Meh.
William B
Tue, Jun 7, 2016, 12:46pm (UTC -5)
"Makes the episode kind of sardonic, right? He even says that if she had come on any other day he'd have refused to see her. And yet it's not like he only planned this the day before; it was years in the making. So why was that day in particular so special? Because it was the only day where if he told her everything she'd never have a chance to tell anyone. He knew for a fact she was going to cease to exist right after she left, and so it was like giving her a last request before her execution. This isn't how it comes across in Jake's energy and I don't think it was the script's intention, but damn, that's pretty much what it is."

Right? That's the only read that I can understand. What's even more amazing is that Melanie goes along with this, which either indicates:

1) that she does not actually understand what he is telling her -- she seems to grasp that he is going to get his father back somehow, but has not been able to process what that means *for her*, or
2) she is so in awe of the story that Jake has spun for her -- which, being a fan of his, she would be -- and is so honoured that she is the one person who gets to know what fate lies in store (or, rather, doesn't lie in store) that she does not care that she is about to cease to exist.

The latter is particularly interesting in light of his "You should read more" (and not hold Jake in the esteem she does as an artist) comments. His life advice that she should stick her head around and look at the world is basically advice to live the next few hours as well as the ironic statement that her life is over, which she, whom we gather is something like a stalker essentially in love with her favourite author, maybe finds *romantic*. And maybe this is ultimately a parallel to Jake, who never takes his father's advice, or, when he does, it is only to write a set of stories which no one is expected to read while he waits for the day where he can burn himself on the altar of his attachment to his father. What is Anselem actually about, one wonders? Maybe it's about self-destruction for love -- love for father, love for art, love for the "nobility" of self-destruction for love.... Yeah, I think Melanie should have read more.
Chrome
Tue, Jun 7, 2016, 4:11pm (UTC -5)
It's possible the writers considered there to be two timelines; one where Jake will pass away at an old age and leave behind a legacy. Then there's the main timeline which we all know and love where the future we see here never happens.

I know multiple timelines goes against the way time travel works in most Trek, but this story isn't using typical time travel, and it's not uncommon for writers to disagree on how time travel works.

You could also look at like the TNG episode "Parallels" where there are numerous realities, and making changes in one doesn't necessarily eliminate that reality.
Yanks
Wed, Jun 8, 2016, 7:27am (UTC -5)
Alright... I had to look up "sardonic" :-)

I think Jake was just being nice to her... and we needed her to tell the story you know.
Justin
Sat, Jul 9, 2016, 10:07pm (UTC -5)
First, I would say the fact Jake studied Quantum Mechanics presupposes his understanding of multiple "realities" existing. This reality is not tied directly to his existence or death - Melanie will continue to live, and Jake will be dead, but Sisko will be returned to "Normal" space and a separate tangent will continue.

Second, while this is an absolutely amazing episode for Star Trek and I would say in the Top Five, I find it interesting the reviewer says this is the first episode of Trek to move he/she to tears. The Inner Light precedes this episode by years, and is equally as amazing. I still remember watching it when it first aired (and right before Best of Both Worlds Pt 1). Picard's revelation at the end that he truly is living someone else's life; Picard playing his flute to honor a life and a civilization that both was and wasn't his, and the song echoing through the endless cold emptiness of space while the Enterprise flies along.... Yea.
TH
Sun, Sep 11, 2016, 10:18pm (UTC -5)
I can't help but feel this episode draws a very split opinion and I wonder why that is. To me this is among the best episodes of anything I've ever watched because of the emotion it draws out and the amazing performances and writing.

But if the story doesn't draw emotion out of you, I can easily see why you wouldn't like this one. Maybe the father-son dynamic doesn't do anything for you.

I share Jammer's comment that to the best of my recollection, this is the first episode of anything that brought me to tears. This was especially notable given that for many years I was very stoic and even for a period of my childhood tried to deny my emotions not unlike the kid from Hero Worship.

This episode first aired (again, to the best of my recollection) a few months after my father had a heart attack (and thankfully survived). I don't recall connecting the two in my head at the time, but in retrospect, I believe that was a huge factor. Father-figure moments in media have always been very emotional to me, and I can't recall if that only started that year.

This episode made me cry in 1995 in the final act as a son, and now, 20(+) years later, makes me cry in the third or fourth acts during Ben's two visits with TonyTodd-Jake before the last one, it makes me cry as a father.

I can't agree with the person who said Brooks missed the mark in some points on this episode. Both his and Tood's performances are amazingly on point. Having just watched it again, Todd wowed me with how he even brought in elements of Lofton's Jake that I recognized. Maybe some of that was the writers doing a good job writing for old Jake consistently with how they write young jake, I don't know. Maybe even the director. But as for Brooks, his meeting with Jake and wife has great moments. His joy and seeing Jake has a wife. When the wife indicates she's going to leave and he silently communicates that he agrees... The eagerness of his plea - "TALK to me! I've missed so much!" and his comment about grandchildren. Jake has missed his father for 7 years. While for Sisko this is just moments after he last saw Jake. He hasn't suffered 7 years without a son. He isn't feeling a loss, so the way he smirks and says the grandchildren line is just like he would have half-joked with Jake as a child. He's happy to see his son is growing up and doing well for himself. He's proud, not sad. Just as he should be. Jake is sad because he's had 7 years of missing his father.

Todd does such an amazing job (knowing his range) of portraying Jake. In the aforementioned scene with Ben, Jake and wife, Todd has this amazing youthful joy and excitement and is so reminiscent of Lofton's young eager jake. It's far cry from his stern, angry and even haunting other characters. When Sisko disappears that time, Todd's face snaps from happy to shocked, to crushed in an instant and it's just so perfect.

This episode, to me is an example of how technobabble and reset buttons aren't the be all and end all of bad episodes. They are fine if they serve a good story and are done right. That said, watching the episode 20 years later, I do finally think it's a little sad that the whole story is effectively moot, and if I were going to change one thing about the episode, it would be how quickly we snap back to the present and go from the super sad future moment to "oh. Sisko avoided the blast and everything's fine." I don't recall having a problem with it in 1995, but now it takes me out of the sad moment too quickly, and while it's perhaps implied that it's not a true reset and that Ben Sisko may actually retain his memories of the events, we don't see any epilogue suggesting any lasting effects.

That said, the reason the reset button is fine in this episode (besides the aforementioned possibility it's not quite a full reset) is because the plot IS the reset. The plot is Jake seeking a way to make it so nothing ever happened. That's not a byproduct, that's the goal. Secondly, although what we see isn't "canon" of what happened, we still see what would presumably be a relatively accurate future of what Jake or Nog might accomplish in their careers and lives, and that's a nice glimpse into the future of all the characters that we don't get in the "real" timeline during the course of the series, even if it isn't "real".

And the technobabble isn't the solution to the episode. In fact, the solution to the episode is a non-technobabble analogy - the elastic band. So this isn't an episode where they "re-modulate the matter compensators" and the enemy ship explodes. They come with with a somewhat plausible laymen-explanation for the phenomenon.

Final off-topic note: To the person who commented (years ago now) about Jake's Bajoran wife being black and also all of the women Ben dated being black, I understand (I don't know that much about his personal life) that Avery Brooks is or was a very staunch black-rights advocate (e.g. being strongly behind the flash-back 1920s racism episode) and I wonder if he had any say in wanting Ben (or Jake) to find love with a strong black woman. Maybe I'm overthinking it, but I wonder if that had anything to do with it.
David Pirtle
Thu, Oct 20, 2016, 4:33pm (UTC -5)
What a powerful, moving episode. I usually am disinclined to heap praise on episodes that show an alternate future we all know is going to be wiped out by the end of a Trek episode, but this is so well written and acted that it is even more than the sum of its parts (and its parts ain't that bad to begin with).

As for the commenter who says it's 'racist' to have a black Bajoran be Jake's wife, I really can't understand his or her complaint. We never saw a black Vulcan before Tuvok. Someone has to be the first. It's odd to hear someone say it's racist to be inclusive of other races...
WTBA
Sun, Oct 23, 2016, 5:51pm (UTC -5)
I really enjoyed this episode the first time, but subsequent viewings leave me sort of cold.

I guess the first time, a small part of me thought there might be bigger consequences. Obviously, Ben is not going to be gone for good, but maybe some other consequences. Having seen the series through a couple times, one could argue that a lot is different in the "real" timeline that Jake restores.

Other commenters have mentioned some of my issues with the episode, such as Jake's lack of concern for altering decades of history. Of course, any time when our main character(s) encounter some temporal issue, we the viewers know that they will correct it (for the most part). I always get the impression that the timeline is meant as a single one (there can be only one!). Our main characters are almost always fully driven to "fix" the timeline to how it "should be" or was "meant to be." This episode is less about the time/subspace travel and more about the characters, and that is fine.

The other issue I have on subsequent viewings that no one mentioned exactly is the idea that Jake would be so driven to fix everything. Obviously losing his father is painful and the visits are not helpful to getting over it (though he seems to get by for a while - he writes, he's married, etc.). I am just not sure that Ben and Jake seem close enough to justify so much emotional plotting.

I feel like over the course of the series, we are TOLD Ben and Jake are super close more than we ever really see it. We are essentially told that because Ben's wife/Jake's mom is dead, they are closer. Maybe, but there are countless instances where they do not seem very close (some of which were mentioned in comments above).

Take the episode where Ben and Jake build the ship in space. They do not seem very close, but plot-plot-plot and they are so close at the end. Ironically, in this episode we are commenting on, Jake is busy writing and doesn't care much about his father's excitement in the wormhole phenomenon. Of course, this is part of what leads to the "put your head up" statement, but Jake cannot take that advice, as he never met his future self or lived to see his father disappear, after the timeline is restored (or the accident is prevented or whatever).

Of course there are other moments in the series, SPOILER like Jake staying on DS9 during Dominion occupation for example SPOILER, which only further the notion that they are not as close as the writers or this plot want us to believe. Ben and Jake are close when the plot wants it, and maybe more so in Ben's mind than Jake's usually.

This is why the scene with Jake weeping over his father in sickbay just seemed flat in the 2nd and later viewings. Sure, he is torn up over his father's death, but I just never bought that they had that kind of relationship. Maybe losing Ben made Jake realize how much his father meant to him (or should have). That feeds back into the "put your head up" notion. If only there had been lasting consequences from this, where they could remember and feel closer, but no.

I liked Todd's performance and Lofton is better than usual. Brooks is hammy in moments, but I have just accepted that is Ben Sisko. I know people in real life who always seem to be a little over-the-top like that. The writing is decent enough and it is a nice change-of-pace after TWOTW and given the stuff coming in later seasons.

Probably 4 stars on 1st viewing, 3 in subsequent ones.
Nolan
Mon, Oct 24, 2016, 12:58am (UTC -5)
I was doing my first rewatch of this series and got to this episode about a week after my father passed away. I thought I could deal, there were, afterall really good episodes to get to. It destroyed me. Now, my parents had been seperated, and I only saw my Dad every two weeks, and it had actually been less frequent the last six months. I was 2, distracted by other things. I woulda wiped out history to change things. As time goes on maybe I'd be less inclined, but if I had the kinda constant reminders that Jake did, I would probably still do it. As long as you love the person who was lost and it over rules any animosity, you're gonna want to change history to get them back.

I will never watch this objectively. I will bever not identify with this episode 100%, paradoxes, plot holes, lack of consequences be damned.
Nolan
Mon, Oct 24, 2016, 1:00am (UTC -5)
Tch, I was 21* not 2. Damn tiny phone keypad.
whodat
Fri, Dec 2, 2016, 11:57pm (UTC -5)
For those who have a problem with the timeline, quantum physics postulates the existence of every possible universe existing simultaneously
Tanner
Mon, Dec 5, 2016, 5:52am (UTC -5)
Very similar to "A'' Good Things", with the older version of the crew back on the Defiant/Enterprise in the future.
JohnC
Fri, Dec 9, 2016, 3:40pm (UTC -5)
The original Star Wars was released when I was in school for a year in Europe. This was before the days when movies were released almost simultenously worldwide, so I didn't get to see it until several months later. By that time, every magazine I'd ever read, and every friend I talked to on the phone, made me think that finally seeing it was going to be an amazing, life-changing experience. And then I watched it and realized as I did that I was daring the movie to blow me away, but it really didn't. I expected too much.

I didn't watch DS9 on first run. I'm just bingewatching the series for the first time, and I love it. Intricate serial plots, multifaceted and deliciously flawed characters, and ambiguous endings. I love all that stuff. So I had read a lot about The Visitor before actually watching it, knowing that many reviewers believe it to be the finest DS9 episode ever, comparing it to The Inner Light, which I consider to be one of the finest television episodes of any series, ever.

So I was really disappointed to be disappointed. I thought maybe it was the Star Wars thing over again - maybe I was just expecting to much. So I rewatched it and just couldn't get past my dislike for so much of this. Leaden acting, unabashed attempts to jerk the tears out of the viewer... one of the reasons Inner Light was so good is that our emotions were stirred as the natural consequence of the way the plot developed - I never got the sense that as a viewer I was being manipulated. In comparison, the Visitor is a hokey schlockey oozing mountain of saccaharine goo.

Beyond that, although I know it's been debated and rationalized in the comments, I just can't feel much sympathy for a character who would intentionally wipe out the existence of events that he experienced and people he knew for nearly a lifetime because he has to get his dad back. Someone earlier mentioned that the episode is implausible because no writer would ever give an unpublished manuscript to another aspiring writer for fear of plagiarism. But there was no risk here. Once Jake got his dad back - Melanie would never exist.

I found this to be heavy-handed and trite. Just like Star Wars, Episode IV. Now, the Empire Strikes Back? - another story. :)
Del_Duio
Fri, Jan 6, 2017, 10:46am (UTC -5)
Watched this again last night. It's so good. Easily in the top 3 DS9 episodes for a reason.

However I never realized how kind of borderline psycho and pushy the girl kind of is in this:

1) She's out in the swamp, in the rain, to try and find Old Jake's house uninvited. By future standards this might be cool but if somebody did that today well it has STALKER written all over it haha.

2) Old Jake is trying to be nice and says he doesn't really have time to tell her his whole story, where she immediately responds with something like "OH I HAVE TIME!" It's like, Lady maybe he doesn't want to be bothered in the middle of the night right now?

3) Towards the end Old Jake offers her a copy of his new unpublished works- which would be a huge honor to any aspiring writer- but instead she grabs his handwritten copy and says she wants those instead. Well of course, they're only worth shitloads more haha.
Del_Duio
Fri, Jan 6, 2017, 10:48am (UTC -5)
@ JohnC:

"Melanie would never exist. "

Sure she would, she just wouldn't have Jake's manuscript in this timeline.
Caedus
Sun, Jan 22, 2017, 7:36pm (UTC -5)
I am so sorry but I was bored to tears watching this. I couldn't get past the first 15-20 minutes. I decided I would watch Voyager instead.

Say I have bad taste, or I'm immature or whatever but this was absolutely boring and pointless and rather a waste.

How hypocritical Jammer critiques Voyager and Enterprise and even TNG for sci fi anomalies yet apparently this episode whose whole premise is based on an anomaly merits five stars.

The first scene was ridiculous the woman interviewer actually forgets Jake's books after she reads them to read them again? You can't be serious I mean really.

Character piece my a**.
RJ Morelle
Mon, Jan 23, 2017, 11:27am (UTC -5)
I'm a little further than in the middle of a Complete Star Trek rewatch marathon with 3 to 5 episodes each day with my girlfriend, who I desperately wanted to get hooked. So far everything ok, she really enjoys it. The rewatch is in chronological stardate order, so right now we switch between VGR and DS9.

Always trying to be a little ahead of schedule, to be able to say to my loved one: tataaa, now watch THIS, I recently found this site. And the latest, sorry man: heartless entry by Caedus urged me to do my first comment on Jammer's.

The point I want to make is: we haven't even yet watched this episode together. It will happen in 3 days or so. But even just the mention of it, and reading the other comments, how it made you people cry, brought back the tears I remember crying when I first watched this back in the 90s. I cried like a baby, and always do when I just think about it. I just wanted to point out that this imho the most heartbreaking episode of any TV.show ever made. I am very curious how the rewatch will hit me.
Luke S
Fri, Feb 3, 2017, 1:20pm (UTC -5)
Obviously this episode has something, because I wanted to comment on it right after watching it instead of after watching the whole series. But I was shocked to see the 4-star rating. I did not like this one at all.

I didn't think this was a reset button episode until we got to the point where they turn the station over to the Kligons, and even then it didn't really stick. At the start of the episode I felt like we were doing a flash forward episode to see how Jake had been a writer and to have him tell us a DS9 story from his perspective. He's a secondary cast member, so it made sense that they could show his life in old age without spoiling much else about the cast. His stinger about "the day my father died" didn't phase me. I figured it was going to be one of those fake out where Sisko died for a moment and then was brought back with magic powers or because of some alien influence on Jake.

When that theory was out of the way, I thought they were using the opportunity to skip us forward a year in the DS9 timeline. Sisko would be brought back in time when he reappears almost a year later, and the rest of the episode will show us how things have progressed with the Dominion, Cardassia, and the Klingons over the course of the year Sisko was missing. It also would allow Nog's Starfleet career thing to progress a bit. But then they left the station, so that definitely wasn't it.

At this point, I knew they were either going to snap us back to the beginning OR I had an alternate theory where the story we were seeing wasn't reality but rather Jake's story that he had written in universe. It'd end with the elder Jake wasting his life on obsession and then we'd cut away to young Jake and Sisko in their home with Sisko reading the book.

And I would have been more fine with all that. But no, it' s a pure reset button. And that's why I don't think you can compare it to "The Inner Light".

Everything that happened in TIL happened to the character who went back to the "old timeline". Even though those people were long dead and Picard was really just lying on the floor of the bridge the whole time, Picard lived through the whole 30+ years. He has those memories and experiences, as we see with the flute. It's
"reset" but still carries forward. The people accomplished their goal of telling their story, and Picard is left with a lifetime of memories to boot.

And that's probably why "The Visitor"s ending undermines it so much fro me. I think I'd think better of this if Jake was the one who retained those memories, at least partially. But he doesn't. Sisko is the one sent back in time, and while he has memories of the old timeline, they're meaningless

I think the problem that reset button episodes like this have is not just that what happens doesn't matter, it's that so often they play out in such radically different futures as to not even let us get insight into the characters involved. They act the way they do to further this one plot, because they're going to be undone by the end anyway, who care about furthering their characterization.

All that plus, it seems like the Galaxy fared way better with Sisko dead, all things considered. Not an implication I'm particularly fond of.
Sven
Sun, Mar 12, 2017, 12:18am (UTC -5)
Tony Todd lived a somewhat-troubled young life (Wash DC poverty, unspecified familial trouble, transplanted from parents to live with his aunt in urban Connecticut) -- he was steered into church, Boy Scouts, cinema and theater by his surrogate mother figure (Clara), and returned to Connecticut post-grad-school to teach drama for a while.

When his aunt died, Todd went into a multi-month depression, and withdrew from acting. This DS9 role was the first post-hiatus job he considered taking; after reading the child-continuing-without-his-parent script, he said yes, and brought much of his emotion into the performance, as sort of grieving homage to the woman.

I guess that's what makes The Visitor resonate so strongly with me -- the wrenching pain and monomaniacal fixation of a boy growing up without (and unable to let go of) his father. I agree that these interludes occasionally verge on melodrama, and that Avery Brooks' interpretation is uneven (weaker early on, strongest in the episode's final moments), but it is no less powerful for those wavering notes. Becoming a father myself has only made the episode's gut-punch that much stronger in subsequent decades.

Some might make the (valid) observation that "the emotionally-wrenching transformative timeline that never was" is an overused Trek trope. But, for my money, this one does it just as well as Inner Light, and just possibly moreso. Belongs right up there with Duet, Family, Pale Moonlight, etc.
K9T
Fri, Mar 31, 2017, 1:53am (UTC -5)
Definitely my favorite episode of DS9, and most of Trek in general. Loved it.

@Luke

>Sisko is the one sent back in time, and while he has memories of the old timeline, they're meaningless.

Meaningless? That he found out so much about his son, the kind of person he is and will likely become? The dreams he clearly has in him in his youth? Meaningless? Well, that seems to me to be a bit more problem with the interpretation than the source material; after all who are any of us (other than the original writer) to decide what is "meaningless" for another, even for a fictional story character?

>All that plus, it seems like the Galaxy fared way better with Sisko dead, all things considered. Not an implication I'm particularly fond of.

Meh. You can't say or know that. It's so completely chaotic and quantum that who knows how the next 100 years would have turned out, or the hundred after that. This is WMG and epileptic trees without even the thinnest of bases to jump off of.
saadro
Fri, Mar 31, 2017, 7:28am (UTC -5)
> Definitely my favorite episode of DS9, and most of Trek in general. Loved it.

I concur.

> Becoming a father myself has only made the episode's gut-punch that much stronger in subsequent decades.

I know the sentiment. I missed DS9 during its original run and only watched it relatively recently, after having a son of my own.

It really moved me like no other Trek episode, in a very similar way to The Inner Light.
Chrome
Fri, Mar 31, 2017, 12:00pm (UTC -5)
@K9T

Actually, I think Luke has a point about Sisko's retention of the memories of this episode being useless. In the finale, Sisko leaves Jake *again*, and it doesn't seem like Sisko has to deal with any consequences because of it because Sisko is living in nonlinear time with the Prophets.

If Jake had retained the memories of this episode somehow, it would've been much more powerful for the series' conclusion because Jake would already be mentally prepared for losing his father as well as the accompanying pitfalls he might fall into if he isn't careful.
Peter G.
Fri, Mar 31, 2017, 1:32pm (UTC -5)
The thing is, this episode isn't about Jake, it's about Benjamin's relationship with him. We're getting everything from Jake's POV but the important moments are the ones when he's reunited with his father and we see Sisko's reactions to his life. In the end Sisko does seem to retain the memories of what could have happened, but of course won't because in this timeline he doesn't get zapped. The takeaway isn't that none of it mattered; on the contrary, without this 'vision' (if you want to call it that) he wouldn't have likely ever known how much Jake really needed him. And more to the point, w wouldn't have gotten to see just how much this family needs each other. Not that much attention was given to Jake's perspective on losing his mother, and actually not all that much past "Emissary" was given to us to show Sisko's mental state about it. At a few major turning points we see Benjamin has progressed, but we don't see it as it goes along. In Jake's case we get more or less nothing, excepting the mirror universe stuff, so it's very good for us to see Jake in somewhat of a similar situation to what Benjamin was going through at the onset of the series after having lost Jennifer.
Chrome
Fri, Mar 31, 2017, 1:44pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G.

"The takeaway isn't that none of it mattered; on the contrary, without this 'vision' (if you want to call it that) he wouldn't have likely ever known how much Jake really needed him. And more to the point, w wouldn't have gotten to see just how much this family needs each other. "

That just speaks to my point that it makes the finale weaker. If the family needed each other so much, aren't the Prophets/Sisko being incredibly selfish by leaving Jake alone? I'd like to think there's some sort of divine wisdom to the Prophet's actions, but episodes like this remind me just how bad Sisko is being manipulated by them.

Also, did Sisko really need this episode to be reminded how much he needed to be with Jake? He seemed like a great father up to this point.
Peter G.
Fri, Mar 31, 2017, 2:04pm (UTC -5)
Sorry, Chrome, but I guess that sounds like a bit of a sentimental nitpick to me. You're judging the strength of this episode on the grounds of whether you think the prophets were 'nice' by taking Benjamin away from Jake? We don't even know what kinds of interactions they'll be able to have anyhow once Sisko is with the prophets, and moreover, he now has Kasidy in the family to care for him. Those points aside, I don't even see why the prophets have to be held to a 2017 human standard of "unselfish" in order to be justified in their choice of outcomes. They can see the future, so whatever else you might suspect of their morals, you can't say they didn't care what happened to Jake; they have to care since the Emissary is one of them, and he cares. The finale seems to give an optimistic outlook for Jake, and I'd suggest not looking for reasons to decide he got screwed somehow when none are in evidence.

As for why Sisko 'needed' this episode - that is a strange question. You might ask why the audience needed it, which is a far more pertinent question, and even that supposes that all episodes are programmed based on audience need rather than simply the quality of script ideas turned in.
Chrome
Fri, Mar 31, 2017, 3:22pm (UTC -5)
"As for why Sisko 'needed' this episode - that is a strange question. You might ask why the audience needed it, which is a far more pertinent question, and even that supposes that all episodes are programmed based on audience need rather than simply the quality of script ideas turned in."

But you're just rephrasing the question. The audience has seen Sisko to really care about his son make efforts to be close with him before this episode. If the message is simply that Ben and Jake are happier together, then we, the audience, already know that and have learned nothing from this outing.

Incidentally, no need to apologize to me unless you wrote this episode, in which case apology accepted.
Gooz
Sun, Apr 30, 2017, 11:15am (UTC -5)
I can't imagine what life must've been like for poor Jake, never knowing if his ghost dad was going to pop up when he's taking a dump or pleasuring himself. Stressful.
Rahul
Thu, Jul 13, 2017, 4:30pm (UTC -5)
I knew "The Visitor" was a special episode after about 20 mins. into it. After seeing it in its entirety, it's easily the best DS9 episode I've seen and up there among the best in the Trek cannon.

I never thought much of Lofton as an actor but seeing him about to cry when Capt. Sisko reappeared and was on the bed in sickbay nearly brought a tear to my eye -- had not felt like that in years. Same thing again as Ben Sisko is holding Jake and saying "Promise me!"

The technobabble about why Ben Sisko is caught in time and how they manage to avoid the energy discharge in the end is a plot device and isn't meant for greater scrutiny. This is about the relationship between a father and his son and I can't think of a better show to illustrate the relationship.

How this episode managed to evoke these kinds of emotions in me is unbelievable. My dad is in his 80s and has health issues now and then and it made me think long and hard about our relationship.

Kind of hard to believe Nog became a StarFleet commander -- but he didn't grow an inch and still seemed like the annoying little kid.

"The Visitor" benefits from really guest actors -- it's like in "The City on the Edge of Forever" where Joan Collins and Shatner build up a romance very naturally. Here Todd and the actress playing the visitor really strike the right dynamic between an old man wanting to tell his story and the fascinated young lady eager to learn about his writing.

Great review by Jammer - this episode is "true magic" - and hard to write a review to do it justice. One has to see it to experience it. It takes the perfect direction and writing to incorporate the flashbacks well and evoke the emotions it did.

"The VIsitor" easily deserves a 4-star rating. Great to see DS9 try something very different and pull it off. Fantastic episode -- these ones don't come along very often.
John Harmon
Wed, Sep 6, 2017, 1:03am (UTC -5)
In regards to much earlier comments near the top from Elliott, I find it suspect that when a black character has a black girlfriend, some people find this "racial casting", yet even though Picard only got with white women, it's just seen as normal.
Iceman
Sun, Oct 1, 2017, 5:53pm (UTC -5)
Jammer nailed it. "The Visitor" is a four star show, and one of the most moving pieces of television I've ever seen. It uses technobabble to tell a human story, with human emotions. Episodes like these are why I keep re-watching Star Trek even with prestige dramas like The Wire. They're remarkable, but very few have moved me the way "The Visitor" does.

"It's completely absorbing from beginning to end"
deelab
Sun, Oct 22, 2017, 3:55pm (UTC -5)
It's just awful. Slow, terrible acting from Tony Todd, no reason to be emotionally invested, as you know none of it is going to matter. This is one I skip.
Iceman
Fri, Oct 27, 2017, 6:06pm (UTC -5)
@deelab-Why watch Star Trek then? The vast majority of episodes are standalones, with no impact on the status quo or characters at large. Does "The City on the Edge of Forever" have any tension just because you know Kirk's not going to get stranded in the 30s?
Jasper
Sun, Dec 24, 2017, 5:23pm (UTC -5)
Thank God Elliott is back for this one. It doesn't come close to Inner Light. There is just too much goofiness to take this episode serious. Pretty Girl wanders through rain to meet old man who immediately let's her in and starts telling his life story? The random comebacks conveniently timed in Jake's life? The elastic theory? It's all written too get this story where it must be, but it never makes sense on its own. Nice to see an alternate timeline, but this one is mediocre at best. 1.5 stars.
Maq
Sun, Jan 28, 2018, 3:25pm (UTC -5)
Am I the only one seeing similarities to Enterprise "Twilight" episode?
I like both but Visitor is the better. It is good storytelling good acting, good editing. Tragic and happy. Did Sisko remember whats happened? It a little bit open.

Even if I am not overwhelmed , one of the better Episodes worth to be reviewed a couple of times.
Nolan Campbell
Sat, Jul 21, 2018, 5:44am (UTC -5)
I don’t understand all the negative comments about Nog becoming a Captain. It’s been well established that he’s exceptionally smart and desires to persue a Starfleet career. So... 30/40 years later, why would this not be possible? Oh, because he looks different or because he’s short. What does that say about you? Think about that.
Iceman
Sun, Aug 19, 2018, 4:46pm (UTC -5)
I have nothing to add from my previous comment, except for the fact that this episode manages to maintain the emotional impact every time, just like "The Inner Light". While it's not quite as good, it's still one of the best Trek episodes ever produced.

4 stars.
CaptainBaggins
Mon, Aug 27, 2018, 2:31pm (UTC -5)
Look at the edgelords pretending they didn't like this episode lol.
Nana V
Mon, Aug 27, 2018, 4:37pm (UTC -5)
Edgelords? Has the internet become Highlander? If you don’t agree with someone, please go ahead and give them a counterargument before busting out the Urban Dictionary on us.
Elliott
Wed, Oct 31, 2018, 11:42am (UTC -5)
Teaser : ***, 5%

A stormy evening in the bayou, a table full of familiar Ben Sisko artefacts, a mysterious gadget and an aged Tony Todd who, like all old people, takes his medicine. There's a chime at the door and a young woman appears. She tells the old man (“Jake Sisko, the writer”) that she *too* would like to wear horrible vests, I mean be a writer. She's a fan Jake's, having read all TWO of his published books with gusto. Jake wants to make sure we know he's old, so he says a lot of things like “when you get to be my age...” and drinks tea by the fire. Little Miss Exposition fills in some of the blanks, indicating that Jake stopped writing when he was 40, and she wants to know what it was that happened.

JAKE SR: If you had shown up yesterday or the day before, or a week ago, I would have said no and sent you on your way. But here you are, today of all days, and somehow it seems like the right time for me to finally tell this story.

He explains that when he was 18 (in other words, during the “present” of DS9), the “worst thing that could happen to a young man” happened—his father died. … You'll forgive me, dear readers, for raising an eyebrow at this assertion. Losing a father as a young adult is tragic, don't get me wrong—my father disappeared when I was 23. A good friend of mine lost his to cancer when he was a teenager. My step-father saw his father die of a heart-attack when he was only 25. So please don't accuse me of lacking empathy if you take exception to what I write here: there are FAR worse things that can happen to a young person than losing a parent. Eighteen-year-old men have their bodies and minds destroyed fighting in unjust wars all the time. Eighteen-year-old men all over the world are actually parents themselves—and lose their own children to disease and famine. Eighteen-year-old men live with AIDS, with cancer, with extreme poverty, under the yoke of despotic governments, are dragged to death for being gay or transgender— I am willing to go on this little journey with you Jake, but hyperbole is not a writer's ally.

Act 1 : ***, 17%

Jake explains to the young woman, Melanie, that he and Sisko were very close. She already knows this, being a dutiful fangirl, and has read his biography (twice in one night?!).

We flash back to the present, where young Jake is working on a short story. In keeping with his penchant for field trips, Sisko decides they need a little break. Instead of camping with Ferengi or building wooden space ships, this time Sisko wants to take Jake to the GQ to watch the wormhole do some science. You know Sisko, it's possible to take a family holiday without bringing your son into the domain of shapeshifting lunatics.

SISKO: Jake, this only happens once every fifty years. You will never forgive yourself if you miss it.

Erm...didn't the wormhole appear only three years ago? Did I miss something? What this scene is actually about is repeating that fatherly advice from “Explorers.” In that episode, Jake said, “Well, I've heard that you can only write about what you've experienced. And you've got to admit, Deep Space Nine is a pretty good place to get experience.” And here, Sisko says, “I'm no writer, but if I were, it seems to me I'd want to poke my head up once in a while and take a look around, see what's going on.” Yes. How in the world is Jake going to write his short stories about Maquis love triangles if he doesn't see the wormhole undergo a subspace inversion? How could he LIVE with himself? … I am being slightly unfair. There is definitely something to be said for having a sense of place and a feel for reality when trying to create worlds in writing. If city-boy Tolkien hadn't bothered giving the Shire a genuine air of rurality, or if Sagan didn't pour his intricate knowledge of physics into his writing, something wonderful would lost. But those elements are not the *life*, to borrow Sisko's word, of the stories. The hard part of getting art out of your mind and soul and onto a page, or a canvas, or an instrument is exactly what Jake is doing! Sitting alone, frustrated, crossing out the bad parts, pulling out your hair and agonising over the details. This Hollywood notion that a writer just needs to go out into the world and smell the rivers is so trite. It trivialises the truly exhausting labour that goes into be a successful artist.

Anyway, the plot gods do not approve of these events as technobabble is happening to the Defiant. Sisko heads to the Engine room to see what's going on and Tony Todd's narration tells us that “something” compelled Jake to follow his father there. Okay... Anyway, Dax calls to tell him that he has to do an emergency science thing or the warp core will explode. And they can't eject the thing because...erm...quantum? Well, the story attempts to justify Jake's presence in this scene by having Sisko stand at a console screaming while the untrained teenager rifles through the equipment to find a metal rod of some kind. He hands it to Sisko who explains how he's going to techno solve this crisis. He succeeds, but the plot gods are angered by this insolence and punish them by having the warp core shock both Siskos (at the moment Ben is handing the rod back to Jake). Jake is seemingly fine, but Ben has a little spasm and vanishes.

Time passes, we see a memorial service on the Promenade. The flashback narration is serviced by some effective scenes, especially Dax look after Jake and Quark be uncharacteristically kind. Jake tells Nog that he has decided to head to New Zealand after all, which means the boys will be on earth together while Nog is at the Academy (apparently, he passed the entrance exam which...okay). Jake is trying to sleep in his quarters, when there's a flash of light and Sisko appears there for a couple moments, before vanishing again.

Act 2 : ***.5, 17%

Old Jake tells Melanie that Dax and co. humoured him in searching his quarters for signs of ghosts to no avail. Apparently, he decided not to go to school, choosing instead to putter about the station gambling. In the meantime, fallout from “The Way of the Warrior” is leading to further problems. Bajor—I guess we are to accept that literally *every* Bajoran except Kira had the same thought—Bajor “took it as a sign” that the death of the Emissary meant that the Federation wouldn't be able to protect them from the Klingons. I realise this is Jake's story, but if you're going to raise political issues like this, please think them through. If an American rabbi suddenly died, would Israel feel that the US couldn't protect them from Iran? Stop making the Bajorans look like fucking idiots, please. Thanks. The senior staff want Jake to leave the station along with the many other civilians resettling to other places.

There is a wonderfully-shot scene of Jake and Kira by a window in one of the upper pylons.

JAKE: Please don't make me leave. Not yet. This is my home. When my Dad and I came here this place was just an abandoned shell. He turned it into something. Everywhere I look it's like I see a part of him. If I leave, I won't have anything left of him.

Lofton is doing a decent job with this material, so I won't quibble. On his way back, Sisko appears again—and Jake is actually able to touch him. So, he's taken to the infirmary. It turns out that Sisko has been quantum tech phased or whatever and hasn't experienced the passage of time. He was on the Defiant, then he was in Jake's quarters, and now he's here, despite a year having passed in our world. The smart people try and tech the tech to keep Sisko here, but it's hopeless. Before he vanishes again, Sisko pleads with his son, “I need to know that you're going to be alright.”

In the bayou, Jake tells Melanie that he's dying. I believe this is intended to be tragic, except...so far, we have seen that Jake grew up to be a very old man living in a beautiful house and admired for his brief but exceptional career as a writer. It's sad when anyone dies, but...we are talking about a man who has had a long and meaningful life, right? Maybe he didn't accomplish everything he had hoped. Maybe things could have been a bit better in some ways, but why should I be torn up that a charmed man's life, however imperfect, is going to end soon?

Act 3 : ***.5, 17%

JAKE SR: You must understand, when person my age says he's dying, he's only admitting to the inevitable. Besides, we old people need to remind everyone to pay special attention to us.

Are you kidding me? So, that whole silly line closing out act 2 was just a contrived cut-to-commercial hook? Melanie gets a couple of sentences to explain that she's doing a lot of reading and listening, preparing herself to be a writer. One might even say she's trying to take it all in, have experiences, etc. We'll come back to her.

Jake resumes his story. Eventually, the Klingons were given control over DS9 and we see Jake leaving in a runabout, in a shot reminiscent of his and Sisko's arrival in “Emissary,” but with Ben notably absent. After a few years, Jake finally went to school in New Zealand before moving to the bayou to be near his grandfather (retconned into no longer being dead...except of course, now he's dead). He wrote a successful novel, Anslem, met a Bajoran woman painter (who again has to be a black actress, but we don't need to get into all that again) and married her. Nog has become a Starfleet commander, god help us all, and is visiting Jake for dinner. Apparently, the Klingons taking over the Bajoran sector has kept the Dominion at bay. Hmmm. What's sort of fun about this timeline is that it echoes what we saw in “All Good Things...” when a neutral zone had been established between the Klingons and the Federation. The implication is that whatever cold war resumed after WotW eventually led to the future we saw on TNG.

In the future-future, Jake is dropping teacups and looking not so great. He explains that his younger self continued writing and living his life, until Sisko appeared a third time in his home in the bayou.

Act 4 : ***.5, 17%

Jake introduces Sisko to his wife, taking advantage of what will inevitably be a brief visit, shows off his novels...Jake is very emotional, which is understandable. And he feels guilty...which is kind of ridiculous. Sisko tries to impress upon him that giving up his own life to search for a way to bring Sisko back from this vague tech purgatory would be a waste, then disappears again.

Well, Jake ignored his father, explaining to Melanie how he consulted with Dax, who figured that the wormhole did quantum flux whatever to the two of them, tethering Sisko to Jake via subspace. So, a thirty-seven-year-old Jake went back to school to study subspace mechanics and figure out how to bring Sisko out of purgatory. Okay...he explains that over the course of his returning to school, his wife left him. Mhm. Why? Did Jake's studies in quantum bullshit really take up more of his time than his late-night writing? Was it impossible for Jake and Korena to have kids while he went to school? We are talking about a period of years. People DO go to school, they DO have careers and passions, while still managing to start families, especially in post-scarcity societies. Are we going to get an explanation about what happened? No. We are just supposed to accept that sad things happened.

Well, 50 years into the future of DS9's fourth season, Jake manages to re-assemble the wrinkly old Defiant crew and the Defiant herself, now captained by Nog, dear god. Worf managed to get them access to the wormhole (I guess he reclaimed his honour or something). Jake has set up a tech thingy in Engineering while old-Dax and old-Bashir bicker in the background (I was very surprised they weren't married by this point). Anyway, the tech tech seems to be working, but something goes wrong and Jake is pulled into the milky void of nothingness along with his father. Sisko wants to know what he's missed...where is grand children are, what happened to his son's career. Obviously, he's unhappy with the answers. He begs his son to let the fuck go, to promise and make a better life for himself. Dax is able to pull Jake back to the Defiant, but Sisko is still in purgatory.

Act 5 : ***.5, 17%

I guess Jake explained every last detail of tech tech to Melanie because, when we resume, morning has broken in the bayou. He has her retrieve a collection of new stories from his desk. He honoured Sisko's request by returning to his art. Melanie wants to know why he hasn't published, but he evades, saying once again that there just isn't enough time. He explains the technobabble of his and Ben's subspace link. Sisko is FROZEN in time at the point of the accident. In other words, he only experiences the passage of time when Jake's quantum stuff pulls him into our universe. Jake reasons that when he dies, the connection will be severed and Sisko will be lost in subspace for ever (again, not experiencing the passage of time). Why the techno-magic has anything to do with Jake being alive and not just a rotting corpse isn't explained, but at any rate, he figures that if he “cuts the cord” while Sisko and Jake are physically together, it will hit the reset button. Sure.

Melanie seems horrified that this ancient and successful man will commit suicide at the tender age of 118 or whatever in order to save his father. He repeats his father's dubious advice from the first act, and sends her out to a bright future that he's about to erase from history. Touching. But hey, people are crying and 'cellos are playing, it must be DRAMA.

Jake keeps his vigil, eventually falling asleep. Sisko finally re-appears to greet his elderly son. Sisko is thrilled to see that Jake has written more. He tells his father that he has taken his hemlock. The two Siskos weep together over old Jake's sacrifice...which is effective until you think about it for five seconds. The moment Jake dies, his younger self and Ben will be re-united on the Defiant. So, what is the great tragedy here? So Jakes dies, and Sisko avoids the plot gods' wrath, carrying his memories back to the present.

Episode as Functionary : ***, 10%

Tony Todd is an excellent actor and puts in a splendid performance. Unfortunately, this only brings into sharper relief the fact that it is impossible to accept that he is playing and older Jake Sisko. Jake's character is so thinly-sketched that the only way to try and convince us that Lofton and Todd are portraying the same person is by playing up the superficial elements; they're both writers, they both like Bajoran ladies, they're both tall strapping men, etc. But there's so little substance to the character of Jake, that there isn't any depth to mine, aside from the fact that Jake is Ben's son.

I have read several reviews of this episode to try and discern whence the outpouring of enthusiasm. All cite the fact that this story “explores the relationship between father and son.” Yes...the central relationship of this story is obviously that between parent and child. But what precisely is being explored? What dimension of that relationship is being commented on? What lesson are we to absorb and take with us to our own fathers and sons?

Sisko should have died in the Engine room, but instead he was blessed with the chance to see his son's life unfold in brief flashes. He even got to meet Jake as an elderly man. In the prime of his life, Jake learns that there might be a way to restore his father to a natural existence. Now this is the crux of the whole tragedy. His decision to pursue science and rescue Sisko ends up arresting his entire life and we are NEVER shown why this happened. WHY couldn't Jake get a degree in quantum nonsense and still have a wife? Why couldn't he use his influence as a successful artist and ward of so many Starfleet heroes to task people who were ALREADY scientists to work on the tech tech to save Sisko, and continue his writing? There is simply no reason for this melodramatic choice between living a full, rich life and rescuing Sisko from purgatory.

Moreover, the message is extremely contradictory. The implication from the ending is that old Jake realises that his younger self NEEDS Sisko in his life in order to avoid tragedy. Ignoring for the moment what an insult this is to people who manage to live happy healthy lives despite their parents' deaths, the episode also seems to be saying that the only reason Jake's life was such a waste was because of the subspace ghost-dad issue. This along with the conversation with Melanie seems to suggest that the moral is not to let oneself be weighed down by the past, to pull your nose out from your concerns and smell the roses, to live. But the ending only happens because Jake DIDN'T let his father go. He refused to let go of the past, killing himself to reset the timeline.

And then there's Melanie. Yes, she's our POV character; the lesson for her isn't for her it's for us. But even this aspect to the story is confused. Jake was chastised (gently) in the beginning for spending too much time writing and not enough time living...so that he could be a better man, so that he could be a better writer. Melanie is chastised (gently) for spending too much time listening and experiencing the life of her mentor...so that she will be a better writer? I think? If the lesson is that young people need to let go of their ghosts (Ben for Jake, and Jake for Melanie) and live their own lives, then why does the lesson originate with Sisko, who's trying to pull Jake away from his passion?

I don't want to create the impression that I don't like this episode. I do! The performances are wonderful, the music is lovely, the story has some poignant material and the peak into the future is well-handled. But there are some glaring flaws with the central tragedy which pull me out of the story.

Final Score : ***.5
Elliott
Wed, Oct 31, 2018, 11:44am (UTC -5)
"peak into the future"

God damn it. You know what I meant.
Peter G.
Wed, Oct 31, 2018, 1:08pm (UTC -5)
I may address a few technical points later, but I just had a crazy thought:
SPOILER

What if what happened to Sisko is the shock activated part of his self that is prophet, sending him out of linear time despite being tied to Jake all the while? Maybe he wasn't trapped, exactly, but was in some sort of natural state for an entity of the sort he was born from? I'm reminded of Odo, who while basically human still had some Founder trait activated by a shock.
William B
Wed, Oct 31, 2018, 1:26pm (UTC -5)
@Elliott, So first off, I agree about many of the problems with this episode. On some specifics:

Re: Old Jake's claim that the worst thing that can happen to a young man is his father dying: on the one hand, not only do I agree with you, but it's particularly strange given that he lived through his mother dying a 7 years earlier. On the other hand...well, look: Old Jake is a wreck, and is about to tear apart the fabric of reality to fix what happened to Ben. Hyperbole may not be a writer's friend, but it may be the only way Jake can live with himself for the scale of his inability to get over Ben's death, and the lengths he'll go to restore it.

"Maybe things could have been a bit better in some ways, but why should I be torn up that a charmed man's life, however imperfect, is going to end soon?"

But there's the rub. Why should Jake spend his whole existence caring about saving his father rather than moving on with his life? Granted, Ben was younger than Jake is in the bayou. But Jake puts aside not only his own life, but possibly many other lives, because of his devotion to this one figure, and his tragedy. And Melanie is similarly obsessed with Jake -- wherein she has attached to him as a writer, to the point where the successful end to his stories/y is all she cares about in the universe. They need perspective, of course, but --

Of course, the act 2/act 3 commercial hook was actually Jake revealing the truth and then foksily claiming that it was a red herring, since he is planning on dying this very night. It's annoying on first watch, but it's actually clever playing with structure, in a way.

---

OK, those are some thoughts along the way. I think the most glaring flaw in the episode is that it seems to not commit fully to what its obvious implication is -- that Jake is erasing the whole future out of existence, *including Melanie*, who might not even be born in the new timeline (given her apparent age). Melanie even walks away from Old Jake understanding that this is what he's doing, and she's so taken with his story that she seems to accept it -- even though she's also, contradictorily, given life advice she won't get to take, and given a book she won't have time to read.

The other interpretation of this is that there is actually a timeline split that happens, so that Melanie will continue her life AND in another timeline Ben will be saved. But this interpretation somewhat blunts the tragedy, because what, then, is being sacrificed? Well, Jake's life, but he's an old man, as you say. But moreover, there's nothing in this episode to suggest this interpretation. I don't really think that there are any instances in past episodes which suggest that time travel creates a branching off and splitting off into distinct timelines -- though I think it comes up in SF sometimes.

But no matter what, we're not supposed to over-invest in this timeline when the Klingons and the Federation are at war, which suggests that we know it's not going to be the "real one." We make of that what we will.

---

All right. So what is this episode about?

Jake loses his father, and after a very painful mourning process, filled with all sorts of reminders of his father's role in his life and in the world, starts to move on. But his father keeps coming back. His father is in purgatory, and he cannot stop getting reminders of him. He cannot let him go. So this is a story about being haunted by grief -- and also haunted by the question of whether there is anything he could have done differently. His father is "gone," but he's not fully gone. If Jake can figure out what he should have done years ago, his father will come back.

So the tragedy is specifically about an inability to move on. So then the question comes up of what it is that is tragic about what we see. One is that Jake ends up prioritizing saving Ben over everything else. That's a big factor, and his obsession with this one aspect of his life ends up overshadowing everything else. I think that the idea that Jake could have a full, rich life even while studying quantum wormhole bullshit stuff is completely true. But it's also clear why the Jake we see in this episode couldn't do this. This is a guy who (probably) is going to erase the whole world, including the young woman who worships him, to save his father, and to additionally wipe out the pain of his passing. It's not hard to imagine why this marriage would fail, if that is his attitude; at some point his wife probably realized that Jake really will prioritize Ben over everything else in his life. Not just focus on Ben, but actually allow it all to wipe it out.

So Jake manages to superficially maintain an outwardly successful life, but inside he basically gets hollowed out with concern for his father, in an inversion of what is supposed to be the parent-child relationship. And that's why his dying an old man is tragic. It's true that his life was outwardly charmed, but inwardly something broke and he ceased living for himself, entirely. He gave up on his own life. He managed to maintain friendships apparently and has a comfortable living space, but none of that seems to fully matter to him.

And the thing is, *this is also about Jake being a writer*. Now you may call bullshit on this as an actual description of being a writer, and I certainly understand if you do, and I don't claim to any greater knowledge of it. But the basic problem of Jake's life is that the story of Jake and Ben *didn't have an ending*. Jake absolutely cannot move past it until he figures out the ending to this central story of his life, and he eventually drops absolutely every other element to his life until he figures it out. It's only once he realizes the necessary end -- that once the son is older than the father, having hollowed out his life for him, he sacrifices himself for his father, in a completed inverse of the traditional parent/child relationship, and also gives his younger self another change in the process -- that he is able to live his own life again. He starts writing his own stories, and he entertains a young visitor. He lives his life as if it were going to continue, because he finally can set down his masterwork, the novel of the devoted son whose love for his father would not stop nagging him. And only then can he actually follow the advice of his father, once he knows that it's too late to follow it in the long-term. He passes on himself as a cautionary tale, and gives Melanie a few hours of appreciating life (or his stories, which are maybe the same thing) before her existence gets wiped away at the altar of the story of Jake's obsessive love for his father.

I'm not wild about (spoiler) The Muse or anything, but what episodes like that and other future episodes do tend to portray is that Jake is very obsessive, has a romanticized idea of story structure and what is required for a satisfying ending, and will absolutely sacrifice almost everything else at the foot of his muse. He's so underdeveloped at this point in the series that this flaw/trait is not really visible in episodes previous to this one, but I think it comes up in The Muse, in Nor the Battle to the Strong, in In the Cards, and in his staying on the station after the Dominion invasion.

Now is this read wholly what we see on screen? I don't know. I think it's closer than generic "the father-son bond is strong," and plays into what Jake's characterization is/becomes. It's maybe a narrow view of a writer, but I don't think it's a wholly incongruous one. And it makes the tragedy of Jake's actions clearer. It's not just that he dies an old man, but that he crosses huge ethical lines, in order to find the ending that will finally put to bed his own grief, and the only time he can even begin living past his grief again (again after the first time he saw Ben off the station) is once he's made the decision to die and take the whole future with him.

---

I guess this read is still incomplete because it's specifically about Jake as writer/Jake as obsessive, but not Jake as son. I think though that the key thing is not that Ben is dead, but that he's gone -- he's out there -- and it's not Ben's choice. It's a child becoming a doctor to save their parent from a coma. It's a child becoming a psychiatrist to save their psychotic parent from delusions which are tearing the parent apart. It's reading obsessively about Parkinson's and spending years of one's life arguing with the nurses who keep administering the wrong drugs and watching as the parent slips away, the hope of recover ever dwindling. It's all this happening while *knowing* that it's not what the parent would want, but being somehow unable to stop. It's knowing that the parent is continuing to suffer, and knowing on some level that there is something one can do to save them, even if the world gradually falls away and gives up. And it's also someone who really has lost their parent, whose parent is dead, but who for whatever reason cannot get past ruminating on what they could have done instead.

This is very real and very human, I think. In terms of Jake and Ben specifically, I wonder if the various scenes we've already had of Ben trying to push Jake into field trips when Jake is really content to live a small and sheltered life suggests that Ben is *also* where Jake has already stored his "seize the day" mentality, that Jake really has been on some level arrested by his mother's death (and possibly the cushy post-scarcity world of Federation life, in which it is possible to live one's life without being kicked out of the nest so to speak) all those years ago, and that it's only his father continually pushing him that made him try to take initiative at all. With his father alive, he could be reminded to take a look and live his life. With his fully dead, Jake would be able to integrate the lessons from his father into himself. With his father alive but lost, Jake never completes the separation required to become his father, and he also is not able to have his father standing beside him, reminding him he needs to walk away.

---

So IMO, the episode basically succeeds in its goals of presenting a credible and relatable tragedy, with high emotional stakes. The main problem is that the scale of Jake's actions -- erasing the whole of the future -- is only indirectly commented on, if at all. I actually do think Melanie's willingness to go along with Jake's sacrifice so that Jake can get the ending he needs is a commentary on the Jake and Ben, where she hero-worships Jake enough to be blind to the importance of her own life (story), but it is still a hell of a thing for her to be so blase about being wiped out of existence. So I think that viewing the episode as flawless or even close is really wrong, but I think its central story does have some real meat to it. (For what it's worth, I'd give it 3.5 stars as well.)
William B
Wed, Oct 31, 2018, 1:33pm (UTC -5)
In case it's not obvious, I am talking about people I know, at least some of the time, in the "it's a child who ..." children-saving-parents section. However, I want to emphasize, I'm not really trying to either valorize or demonize it. It's not really healthy, but sometimes a child saving their lost parent is a good thing -- if it actually is possible, and they succeed. And even if they don't, it may be that it's worth the personal cost to keep trying, to a point. I don't know what it is that makes some people be unable to let go when others do, so I don't really know how to evaluate if Jake should be one of those people.

In a mythic sense, it's maybe definitely a good thing to be able to rescue one's parent. Anakin sure was lost -- arguably even dead -- when Luke decided in RotJ that he was going to save him. Everyone had written Jean-Luc Picard off as truly dead and gone when Will Riker decided that he was still in there somewhere in Locutus--and, importantly, would be able to *help*. The irony is that the very trait of Ben that Jake is most trying to rescue so that he can have it again is Ben's admonition to embrace life, which Jake is unable to do until he figures out how to rescue Ben.

(I'll add: if Jake made the call that Ben was genuinely good for the galaxy -- that maybe they could have averted this war with the Klingons, etc. -- then his decision may have been hubristic, but it wouldn't be the same kind of trouble. That is part of why Luke and Riker are not fully tragic figures in trying to rescue their lost fathers, because their lost fathers actually stand to help more than just them as individuals if they are recovered. But it's made very clear that Jake's concerns are personal, and even that conventional wisdom is that by later in Jake's life everything has found a new post-Ben Sisko balance.)
Iceman
Wed, Oct 31, 2018, 1:42pm (UTC -5)
"I have read several reviews of this episode to try and discern whence the outpouring of enthusiasm. All cite the fact that this story “explores the relationship between father and son.” Yes...the central relationship of this story is obviously that between parent and child. But what precisely is being explored? What dimension of that relationship is being commented on? What lesson are we to absorb and take with us to our own fathers and sons? "

As trite as it sounds, it just highlights the lengths Jake will go to save his father. Like I said, on paper-trite. But the way it's executed just isn't.

"So IMO, the episode basically succeeds in its goals of presenting a credible and relatable tragedy, with high emotional stakes. The main problem is that the scale of Jake's actions -- erasing the whole of the future -- is only indirectly commented on, if at all. I actually do think Melanie's willingness to go along with Jake's sacrifice so that Jake can get the ending he needs is a commentary on the Jake and Ben, where she hero-worships Jake enough to be blind to the importance of her own life (story), but it is still a hell of a thing for her to be so blase about being wiped out of existence. So I think that viewing the episode as flawless or even close is really wrong, but I think its central story does have some real meat to it. (For what it's worth, I'd give it 3.5 stars as well.) "

Perhaps. But that would be devoting a significant chunk of the episode to time travel sci-fi jargon, which I think would have been a mistake. The reason "The Visitor" resonates for me and for many others is because it's a Trek episode where the core of the episode *isn't* technobabble. So while I agree they could have addressed it, it doesn't really matter that much in the long run to me, nor does it stop it from being one of the best Trek episodes ever produced.
William B
Wed, Oct 31, 2018, 2:03pm (UTC -5)
@Iceman,

"Perhaps. But that would be devoting a significant chunk of the episode to time travel sci-fi jargon, which I think would have been a mistake. The reason "The Visitor" resonates for me and for many others is because it's a Trek episode where the core of the episode *isn't* technobabble. So while I agree they could have addressed it, it doesn't really matter that much in the long run to me, nor does it stop it from being one of the best Trek episodes ever produced."

I think I see what you mean, but my problem isn't that the episode's technical holes aren't sewn up, it's that to me the episode strongly gives the impression that he is erasing the entire existence of everyone around him, including Melanie whom he is sending off with advice to go live a life that she literally will not be able to follow for more than a few hours. I don't think this issue has much to do with technobabble at all. I don't think the episode earns the sweetness of him sending Melanie off to Live Life when he's basically about to kill her, in a sense, and I don't get the sense the episode is fully committed to this tragic irony.

I think it also depends on how you read the episode. For some, Melanie does continue her life in a split-off timeline, and the episode just doesn't spend the time making this clear, which can seem like a sort of technical flaw. I don't know that I think this is what is intended, and to me the story's tragedy is stronger if that future really does get erased, which necessarily means Melanie's toast. Maybe she'll be born anyway, but her life is going to be pretty significantly rewritten even if she is, and she certainly won't get to enjoy Jake's advice for very long. To me, that she is sent away wistful knowing she's about to be erased is not the result of a technical glitch, but part of the fabric of the episode, and I think it's a big characterization problem that she is *so* fine with it.
William B
Wed, Oct 31, 2018, 2:06pm (UTC -5)
To be clear, I find this episode very moving. At one point it was one of my favourite episodes of the franchise. I've cooled on it (though I still like it a lot) for this very specific reason, and I disagree that it's about technobabble. However, that doesn't mean everyone else has to care about this issue.
Chrome
Wed, Oct 31, 2018, 2:07pm (UTC -5)
@William B

“I'll add: if Jake made the call that Ben was genuinely good for the galaxy -- that maybe they could have averted this war with the Klingons, etc. -- then his decision may have been hubristic, but it wouldn't be the same kind of trouble.”

I tend to agree because my reading of this episode is more along the lines that Ben and Jake’s field trip inadvertently disrupted the timeline so Jake has a personal stake in correcting it for the good of the quadrant. There were a few points stressed like DS9 falling out as galactic hub - and Jake associating DS9 with his father. So, maybe in some way Jake restoring his father, in his mind, was connected to a greater good of the galaxy. But yes, the episode does seem to hit most heavily on Jake’s loss of his father and his future as a personal loss.

@Peter G.

“What if what happened to Sisko is the shock activated part of his self that is prophet, sending him out of linear time despite being tied to Jake all the while? Maybe he wasn't trapped, exactly, but was in some sort of natural state for an entity of the sort he was born from? I'm reminded of Odo, who while basically human still had some Founder trait activated by a shock”

I can get behind this, and I think if the writers knew what they’d be doing with Sisko in the finale they might have hinted at a Prophet connection here. At least you can safely draw this sort of interpretation on your own because the accident happened in proximity to the wormhole.
William B
Wed, Oct 31, 2018, 2:09pm (UTC -5)
@Peter,

That's an interesting interpretation, and (spoiler) fits with my feeling, at times, that this episode basically accurately portrays what happens to Jake after What You Leave Behind (as hinted at by the ending shot with Kira) -- that his father being gone-but-not-gone, and outside of time, will eat away at him. I'm not wild about the lack of Ben/Jake scene after Ben is Prophet-ized, but it is an interesting structure if they basically use a reference to a previous episode to suggest a large-scale tragic story for one of the main (if underwritten) characters, which there is not really time for within the finale itself.
Peter G.
Wed, Oct 31, 2018, 3:03pm (UTC -5)
I don't want to go point by point on Elliott's review as I think you guys did some good discussion of some key elements. My main comment about it is that the style of the episode is that of storytelling; and not just any kind of storytelling, but the kind that happens in front of the fireplace on a rainy day. It's a style piece, and a romantically sentimental one at that. Even though part of the literal script shows Jake in the third person speaking to someone, even those scenes seem to be almost first person narrative anyhow. It's Jake's story from start to finish, with Jake as the storyteller, and this is crucial to the structure of the entire piece. It affects why certain things are told and others aren't, and it affects whether things should or shouldn't have the weight they do: they do because Jake feels they should. There is no objective criterion to say that someone should have been given more prominence or less, because it's the tale of what's important *to him*. Jake isn't interested in the repercussions of his choice, and so they are glossed over. Maybe he's deceiving himself; maybe he just doesn't know and won't guess. We can say that wiping out a timeline is a big deal, but if he's buried that fact in his mind then his story won't reflect its importance, and it's the state of his mind that the entire story is about.

Or why does Jake go to pieces when going back to school to study physics, and loses his family? Because he does! That's the story, that's what happens. It doesn't matter if *someone else* could have led a normal life while learning a new field: Jake couldn't. Naysaying that is like hearing a person in real life say they couldn't beat heroin and curtly replying with "Oh yes, it is entirely possible to do so and you are a bad representation of what people can achieve." Can you imagine??

He says that losing his father was the worst thing that a young man could experience. True or false? Doesn't matter! It's true to him. At worst you could accuse him or romanticizing or even idealizing his own pain, and indeed I would agree that this is a character flaw; but we already knew that Jake was a flawed and even broken character. He has no drive in life, doesn't want Starfleet, doesn't want much of anything other than to hang with his friend. It's sad, and here we see just how sad: without his father to define the context of his life he basically has nothing. We can mourn him, pity him, condemn him, or anything else: but we can't negate his statement about his own life. He's saying that when his father died he lost all reason for anything: that's just how it was. It's not a statement about Elliott, or about anyone else, but just about Jake, and stated by himself no less, and in context of him creating a romantic idyll about his own suffering to explain why he now wants to die.

My own conclusions about the episode are mainly to do with how it affects me: a lot. I know it's a 4 star episode because even reading Elliott's sarcastic recounting of the story I felt myself tearing up just being made to recollect the story. And it's not just maudlin tearjerking, either, because I don't go in for emotionally manipulative material in general. What Jake went through and what he's been reduced to is really just incredibly sad to me. And it shouldn't be forgotten that when losing his mother his still had his dad; it's losing both of them that led to this. Maybe the episode could have mentioned that, but - again - that's not what's on Jake's mind. Or at least, it's not *how* he wants to tell the story. Maybe that's a writer's weakness, to want to make a story neat and all about one thing. It would certain fit within a story of someone who's obsessed almost to the point of madness.
Iceman
Wed, Oct 31, 2018, 3:05pm (UTC -5)
"I think I see what you mean, but my problem isn't that the episode's technical holes aren't sewn up, it's that to me the episode strongly gives the impression that he is erasing the entire existence of everyone around him, including Melanie whom he is sending off with advice to go live a life that she literally will not be able to follow for more than a few hours. I don't think this issue has much to do with technobabble at all. I don't think the episode earns the sweetness of him sending Melanie off to Live Life when he's basically about to kill her, in a sense, and I don't get the sense the episode is fully committed to this tragic irony. "

I basically agree with what you said. But I think you may have misunderstood me-I wasn't saying that your criticism of the episode was related to technobabble. What I meant was that had they focused on the valid point you brought up, it might have taken time away from the elements I personally feel make the episode so successful-its human parts. I love that it shows so many real things that happen to people-loss of family, an inability to move on, having regrets, etc. I feel that focusing on the ethics of changing/erasing the timeline would have taken away from that focus. But, as stated before, it's a valid point and I see why it brings the episode down in your estimation slightly (and it is slightly! Elliott and you only docked half a star each-that would still probably place it in both of your top 30/40 DS9 episodes).
Iceman
Wed, Oct 31, 2018, 3:13pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G

I agree. To me, it's a 4-star episode because it's one of the few Trek episodes that genuinely tears me up. It pretty much *has* to get 4 stars based on that alone. Aside from that, this is one of the rare Trek episodes without dull setup-for me, I'm completely transfixed for 43 minutes no matter how much I watch it.
William B
Wed, Oct 31, 2018, 3:45pm (UTC -5)
@Iceman -- ah, gotcha.

@Peter, I agree-ish -- but I think it's still a huge buy to introduce Melanie as an audience surrogate and have her both take Jake's advice and also accept her doom. Possibly the strong first-person POV means that Melanie isn't even real, and that Jake is deluding himself in allowing himself even one night of passing something on to a world that doesn't exist. I can probably get behind that, it's just that I can't really make up my mind on how damaging Jake's choice is supposed to be, or whether or not his giving her advice on how to live her life that he's about to end is *meant* to be wildly hypocritical and even cruel in its thoughtlessness. I can't escape the feeling that the episode is unwilling to own how dark it is being, in the way Jake actually treats Melanie, who still receives him with such sweetness. Possibly I could still go to 4 stars if I could figure out how to resolve this question, but I get snagged on it. I guess the best way to look at it is that she's not really a character at all, but a tragic representation of the life he could have had, and what he would have liked to tell a younger version of himself, had he not committed his whole life to the course he took, but I also think we're meant to see his superficial kindness to her as a meaningful about who Jake is. I guess it still can be -- he's someone who can be kind and thoughtful, but his tragic flaw is that his obsession about his father has overwhelmed all other concerns, and maybe he doesn't even see it. Still....

OTOH, I agree very much about the character set-up, the storytelling medium stuff (which I also talked about -- Jake-as-storyteller), the first-person perspective, that it's very meaningful to Jake himself that Sisko died and how that broke him, etc. I can see the argument that what I'm focusing on is not important. I don't know, I don't *want* it to be important, but....
William B
Wed, Oct 31, 2018, 3:56pm (UTC -5)
On Jake himself, another underrated part of his post-Sisko misery is that he really is very isolated. His mother's dead, his father's dead. He has lived on DS9 with mostly non-humans, which is already a relatively tiny community, and then that gets tanked. He restarts his life in New Zealand eventually, but by that point he's basically restarting with almost no one he's close to nearby, except for Nog -- and, okay, Joseph Sisko, presumably, but we don't really know the full story in this version of events IIRC. He does mange to build a new life, but it's probably very difficult to fully inhabit his new life when so many things in his life have been taken away. It's not that he has nothing to live for, or that others don't have it worse, but there may be some missing ingredient that would allow him to really fully move on, particularly after his father started returning.
Elliott
Thu, Nov 1, 2018, 3:27pm (UTC -5)
Hi again all (Chrome, Peter G, William B, Iceman)

Before I jump back in, I just want to say that I'm well-aware that this is one of those episodes which creates such intimacy with many viewers that makes it magical to them--and far be it for be to attempt to rob anyone of that feeling. Such things are rare and precious. And believe it or not, I actually do not have it out for DS9, there are just certain elements in the show which bother me (although I think it's the way the fans receive(d) the show that bothers me more). What's interesting is that none of those "DS9 sins" is present in this episode (well aside from the thing with the Bajorans abandoning the station). I'm also not going to talk about the Sisko's mom stuff, because that's a headache I'm happy to postpone until S7.

***

I don't have any problem ignoring the temporal paradox stuff. Those kinds of questions plague every Trek time-travel story, from "City on the Edge" through...whatever the hell they're doing on Discovery.

William B made the point that, even though it may not make logical sense, what makes Jake a tragic figure is that he prioritises Ben over everything else, Melanie, his wife, his writing, his grandchildren that never were, the integrity of the timeline... Okay, I totally buy that. So then, how does old Jake make certain that the new life he's purchasing for himself doesn't have the same tragic flaw? Ben is going to die *eventually* (and yes I know, spoilers and all that). The last thing old Jake told Sisko was that Jake needs him "more than he knows"--this doesn't seem like a recipe for distancing himself from his son so that he doesn't become the pathetic man-child we saw. The episode never addresses what it is about their relationship that made it impossible for Jake to let go. And remember, it's not like Sisko was suffering! He didn't experience the passage of time in the land of cream of wheat. So, Jake had the opportunity to share glimpses of his life with his father in ways a normal lifespan wouldn't allow. Sisko could have met his great-great-grandkids.

Peter, you repeated the point about the fact that Jake is who he is, tragically flawed, maybe even doomed to have this kind of obsessive personality. Okay. So, does old Jake realise this? Does he give his father a message that will them, as a family, overcome this flaw? That's my major gripe with the story.

I haven't reviewed "Endgame" yet--and I don't bring this up to compare the entirety of these episodes side by side, because "The Visitor" certainly wins--but one of the few things that worked about that story was that future Janeway's interference in history *prevented* present Janeway from becoming a full-blown cynic. She erased herself from history intentionally, because she hated what she had become. Again, not trying to talk in detail about that episode here, but Jake's story needed something similar. *What* is the change moving forward?

Because as it stands, the message seems to be that Jake *cannot* function without Ben. And that's not a sweet father/son dynamic to me, that's crippling dependency.
Chrome
Thu, Nov 1, 2018, 4:33pm (UTC -5)
@Elliott

“I haven't reviewed "Endgame" yet--and I don't bring this up to compare the entirety of these episodes side by side, because "The Visitor" certainly wins--but one of the few things that worked about that story was that future Janeway's interference in history *prevented* present Janeway from becoming a full-blown cynic. She erased herself from history intentionally, because she hated what she had become. Again, not trying to talk in detail about that episode here, but Jake's story needed something similar. *What* is the change moving forward?”

Yeah, this is my problem with episode and what’s keeping it back half a star. Everything that the protagonist Jake learns is eliminated by his actions which reset the timeline. At most, Sisko has retention of some of Jake’s life and a message that his son needs him more than he knows. This might have worked better if Sisko had been neglecting Jake with his role in Starfleet or as The Emissary, but instead Ben Sisko is depicted as already being a proactive and loving parent. So it’s really Jake, who’s obsessed with his writing, who needs to learn the story’s lesson.

And then we have the lesson: Old Jake is apparently based on J.D. Salinger who was also a recluse who wrote only few, albeit epic books. Appropos to Jake’s story, Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye” was a story about a young man who held his friends back in hopes of saving their innocence, but in the end he realized he was holding on too hard and it ruined his own life. I think “The Visitor” catches most of the message but unfortunately denies the Jake we know, Prime Jake, the same crucial character development Holden Caulfiend underwent. We have a moving story with the epilogue leaving us wanting.
Peter G.
Thu, Nov 1, 2018, 5:00pm (UTC -5)
I dunno, why does it have to be logical? Jake saw losing his dad as the problem, and his solution is to give his younger self back his dad. I guess he doesn't know how that will work, and indeed he doesn't take steps to alter the past any more than by restoring Ben to the timeline. Maybe that's enough, though, because if Jake had more time to develop his own life he could outgrow the utter dependency on Ben. Or maybe the same thing will eventually happen if Ben were to die shortly thereafter in some other circumstance. I'm not sure why the completion of the episode requires this point to be closed neatly; this isn't Cause and Effect where the point is for him to know exactly how the outcome of the new timeline will go. He just knows that he needs to release Ben from wherever he is. And I agree with William (I think this was his point) that there's a bit of a feeling here that something *went wrong* back then that shouldn't have happened; that it wasn't just Jake who couldn't get over it, but that it was the wrongness of it that made him obsessed. Maybe this is a sci-fi thing that shouldn't matter in the meta-story analysis, but imagining for instance of Jennifer had been assimilated instead of killed under a bulkhead, I could see how knowing a Borg mom was out there somewhere could be way harder to get over than knowing she died in a fire. Maybe this isn't the point of the episode; I don't know. But somehow the way he lost his dad seems relevant to me at least. If Ben had just been shot by a Jem'Hadar maybe it would have been easier to get over. But anyhow, I don't have any problem with Jake's plan not having a time-travel plan packed into it where he sends himself a note or something. The episode just didn't need that, and frankly the more sci-fi detailing they had added the more it would feel like a plot episode with Voyager-esque technobabble as its resolution. It's about Jake wanting this existence to die in order to save Ben, and that's what it tells. Like I said, it's Jake's story. Maybe he *did* pass a message through Ben to his younger self; but it's not part of what Jake needs us to know when he tells it, and that's good enough for me.
Chrome
Thu, Nov 1, 2018, 6:05pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G.

“I dunno, why does it have to be logical? Jake saw losing his dad as the problem, and his solution is to give his younger self back his dad. I guess he doesn't know how that will work, and indeed he doesn't take steps to alter the past any more than by restoring Ben to the timeline.”

I don’t think it needs to all be logical or to even wrap in a neat little package. But what’s been going around in this discussion is we have this Old Jake whose life is supposedly some sort of Aesop. Jake Sisko has a character flaw of being obsessive and unable to “poke his head up every once in a while and take a look around, see what's going on” and that flaw apparently plagues his future existence leading to a lonely life. But then then it turns out that the flaw is actually not a flaw at all and he saves his dad and his past because of it. I mean, alls well that ends well I suppose, but if that’s all that was at stake here it’s a little confusing about what problem Jake had - if any. Others have been analyzing the alternate timeline for lasting meaning but it’s a little frustrating when that timeline and all its characters are eliminated from existence. Yet, I don’t think this makes episode bad per se, it’s a small quandary in what’s part of an otherwise very compelling narrative. I brought up Salinger because this really does evoke his work in writing and that’s no small feat.

Eliott mentioned “Endgame” but this one actually reminds me a lot of VOY’s “Timeless” where future Kim tries to break his past self’s recklessness at wanting to go home. That one worked a lot better for me because we get a feeling that past Kim learned that he failed from evidence of the future and that directly shapes his present actions. His growth in the episode helps him find a solution to the present in the episode and theorhetcally shapes his thinking of future events.
Peter G.
Thu, Nov 1, 2018, 11:07pm (UTC -5)
I thought of Timeless also, but that one is about correcting mistakes of the past. This one is about being stuck making new ones, in a way. But as you mention, it does actually save Ben. So...does that mean it's a flaw after all? Or not a flaw since it works out? I don't think it matters, is sort of my point, because the piece isn't about dissecting whether Jake is flawed or not, but just shows how much he needs his father. It's not about how he can change, or how to fix it, and actually I think Trek is sometimes too obsesses with fixing everything. Yes, we hope to do better. But sometimes in order to do that we need to be able to say how things really are without jumping to try to fix it right away like just another tech problem to solve.

What we really see here is that Jake's trait, that Ben suggest may be bad for Jake, actually probably is bad for him, *except* that doesn't mean it's bad. It makes Jake suffer, perhaps, to be down under, subsumed by his father's story, but his father's importance, and to sort of be nobody. He should stick his head up, no? Make a story for himself? But then he'd be taking away from his father's story; or at least that's a meta way of looking at it. I see this one as fundamentally about Jake occupying a self-sacrificial role, and knowingly accepting that Ben is more important that he is. This is literal, in terms of the series narrative, but also figurative in the sense that Jake wants his role to be that of helping his father accomplish his role (as we late see in In the Cards). We can agree or disagree that it's proper for a person to sacrifice themself so another can have their life; especially so when the one being sacrificed is young. However my point is that this isn't about judgement, it's about Jake's "weakness" actually being the expression of a value: Ben must live. Right or wrong, it's his value to have.
Peter G.
Thu, Nov 1, 2018, 11:08pm (UTC -5)
A few typos there, but one sentence ended up really unclear:

*...to be down under, subsumed by his father's story, by his father's importance, and to sort of be nobody."
William B
Fri, Nov 2, 2018, 11:33am (UTC -5)
You know, I don't mind if Old Jake is genuinely in the wrong, and has no way to even self-correct his younger self, exactly. I don't know that I agree with Chrome that there's an Aesop exactly...and yet, I sort of do, because I think that something about the episode does tend to give Jake credit for wisdom.

I'm going to stop here trying to evaluate where the episode lies on the "very good" to "perfect" spectrum and just think "out loud" (in writing) a bit....

So anyway, the thing is, Jake not only defies some of our views on what he "should" do in this situation, but also Ben's. Ben is very clear that he thinks Jake should move on with his life, and that he absolutely should not stand still. He doesn't *want* Jake to sacrifice himself, and tries to stop him. When Ben is sent back in time, it's true, Ben does dodge the blast (which no one has objected to, of course), but that doesn't mean he thinks Jake was *right*. He's partly respecting Old Jake's wishes, and partly Old Jake is dead anyway, so it's not as if there is any point in saving himself. The moral issues of altering the timeline don't really affect Ben either, because to some extent he was always stuck at that moment on the Defiant anyway. So once Old Jake is done sacrificing himself, Ben agrees to go along with his plan, but that isn't to say that Ben approves.

So again -- why does Jake defy not only the "natural" (children general get over their parents' death) inclination but also his father's explicit instructions?

It was actually @Chrome's suggestion (not mine) that on some level, Jake thought (or the episode implies) that the new timeline was "wrong" and that he was correcting it. And I think this idea has merit. Is it the case? I don't know. The thing is, the episode is very clear that while people mourn Ben, eventually people move on. This is part of Jake's isolation -- that initially everyone shares his grief, but eventually he is the only griever left. War between the Klingons and the Federation heats up, but it eventually cools off and peace starts to open up again, including the possibility of accessing the wormhole -- which seems to me to be part of the story, too. It's as if Ben's death leads to all sorts of bad things, but that those things don't last forever, because no matter how important one man is, the whole universe generally doesn't revolve around him, *EXCEPT* possibly to some individuals. This is I think a mirror of what it means to be the sole remaining griever; initially you are not alone, and the world mourns with you, and seems to be broken, but then gradually lives right themselves and adjust. Life moves on.

So I think that the episode suggests, to me, that no one besides Jake would really see Ben's death as being so wrong that it needs correcting, by the time Jake actually erases him, and that this is actually important to the emotional resonance (for me!) of the story. That doesn't necessarily mean that the idea that Ben's death was so "wrong" that it needed to be corrected is thrown out entirely, though. It may be that we're in a Yesterday's Enterprise-type situation, where there was a significant damage done by some "mistake" in the timeline (the Enterprise-C's disappearance into the future) that everyone is unaware of, and that because they are trapped in this reality they can't see it, and it takes a mystic like Guinan to be able to see what's missing. This is possible, and may be part of the subtext of Jake's mission. Everyone else eventually "abandons" Sisko, from Jake's perspective, and when they do, they become unable to see the damage that has been wrought on their lives by Ben's absence.

I think this read is interesting and kind of works with the larger-scale material. I mean, things are getting better, but they still aren't great, in the galaxy as a whole. But I still sort of think that it's not really what's going on. I think Jake's prioritizing his father really is about Jake and Ben, not about the galaxy, and I think that the Alpha Quadrant's gradually righting itself is legit -- that it's not a Yesterday's Enterprise dystopia of something that was not "meant" to happen, but a universe which ultimately can heal, in a way that Jake personally doesn't.

---

But anyway, the other question is: is Jake really doing something good for his father? He is giving his father another chance at life, but what Ben explicitly wants is for Jake's life to continue. Ben doesn't even spend his few precious moments with Jake asking about Bajor, or the Dominion or the Klingons, or Kassidy or Dax. That's not to say those aren't important to him, and of course it's Jake he's in front of, but the message that Ben keeps sending out when he sees Jake is: "Your life is what is important. I am happy to be able to see you. Don't worry about me." And I really, really don't think this is Ben just "being nice" or self-effacing. This episode contains IMO one of Brooks' very best performances in the series, and he really sells, to me, the deep love and intensity of a father trying to convince his son to live his life, even if that (superficially) negatively impacts the father, because the father's existence is enriched by his son's success. This is basically the same message Sisko gave at the outset of the story -- Jake should live his life rather than obsessing, whether it's about stories, or about Ben. I guess what I mean is, if Jake had a full, mature love for his father, he shouldn't prioritize his father's life over his own, because this would give his father misery. And while I think Jake is obsessive, I get the impression that we are meant to see Old Jake as wise, as having figured something out, in his final years.

So while Jake clearly loves Ben, I don't think he is *quite* doing this for Ben, because if he listens to Ben, he should know that it's not what Ben wants. So the idea that maybe Jake is recognizing Ben's importance to the galaxy is a way to resolve this here, where Ben is so important that it genuinely doesn't matter whether Ben wants Jake to live his life or not, because Ben's centrality to the fate of Bajor, the wormhole, the AQ etc. is more important than what Ben himself wants. I like this idea and I think Peter's observation of how this ties in with the meta of the show, and also with In the Cards and the like, is right-on. But -- I don't really think it's what I see in this episode, ultimately. I don't read this as being Jake's motivation by the end of the story, even if I think it could plausibly have been part of his motivation in earlier years as the political situation gradually went downhill.

I think, then, this: Jake doesn't consciously sacrifice his whole life for his father. It's only clear in retrospect that this is what he's doing, that he's failed to understand his father's advice, until it's "too late." So I think maybe, based on his advice to Melanie and the steps he has taken to live his own life, that he understands by this point. So why sacrifice himself now? The thing that I think makes the most sense is that he wants to give his younger self another chance -- a chance to live, not necessarily with Sisko, but without the gnawing uncertainty that the particular manner of Sisko's "death" brought to him. Not only that, but it's also a gift to Ben, though Ben maybe doesn't realize it, that Old Jake is finding a way to fix Young Jake's life, to prevent Young Jake from having to undergo the ordeal that Old Jake has done.

As Elliott sort of suggests, he doesn't communicate this (or anything else) to Sisko that would be able to make SIsko definitely able to make Jake's life better, this time around, besides the mere fact of his not having become a plasma wormhole quantum ghost. Maybe, though, that's enough -- I mean, maybe it really is not that likely that Ben would become a plasma wormhole quantum ghost inadvertently haunting his son for years, and maybe preventing that is sufficient to make Jake's life better.
Peter G.
Fri, Nov 2, 2018, 1:56pm (UTC -5)
Nice write-up, William. I do more or less agree that Jake seems to be doing this for Jake, not for Ben, even though satisfying Jake's desires means saving Ben. I don't really agree (to whatever extent this is still being contested) that Jake needed to insert some plot point about how he would alter the past to improve it; I think the intent of the sacrifice itself, even if to save himself, is enough to show the conviction of it, so I don't really need the details.

Regarding the meta-plot, I think I would add that it's not just an issue of Jake knowing that Ben is the center of it all (in the show, and in his life), but that Jake's happiness involves knowing he's doing something for a reason. One impression I get from the episode is that his life may have been superficially ok, but that it maybe lacked any direction or meaning beyond just getting on with it. By hatching this plan his actions take on a purpose that goes beyond him - even though we might argue that his intentions aren't entirely noble as such. One thing the meta-story shows is that Ben is viewed as important enough that people will sacrifice themselves for him, whether or not he wants it. His importance isn't his own to decide, and even people who he doesn't want to will prefer to die than let him be lost. Although this isn't Ben's story, it does involve him being forced to recognize that it's out of his hands whether others will lay down their lives, and he's going to have to live with that if he's going to be a war-time leader. He lost his wife helplessly to the Borg, but now he's going to have to own the possibility of sacrificing those dear to him if need be. This theme is touched upon again in SPOILER The Reckoning, and in Tears of the Prophets. What's at stake in this episode isn't the AQ, but to Jake it's just as big as that.

There's another angle I hadn't thought of before, which may tie in with Nor the Battle to the Strong which happens later in the series: Jake isn't much of a hero, or much of anything, but what writing allows is to create heroism in imagination where it doesn't exist in life. So perhaps Jake's story as he's telling it, is his version of self-sacrificial heroism, the only kind he can have since he can't live it out. Except by dying he does get to live it out, and to finish his last story, as it were, by ending the life of a writer and becoming a doer. It's a literal death, but for the rebirth of a new Jake. So I think this does accord with William's idea that Jake is only now at the end realizing Ben's lesson, and must let himself (his identity) die if he's going to raise his head up and live. There's a phoenix metaphor in here, and certainly along these lines it undercuts the need for a technical explanation of how the past will be repaired.

One other point: the episode is called The Visitor, which on its face seems to refer to Melanie. But going with the "this timeline is wrong" concept, it may also be implied that Old Jake is the visitor; that he doesn't belong and is only temporarily meeting us to let us know he'll be leaving again.
Elliott
Fri, Nov 2, 2018, 4:44pm (UTC -5)
@William B, Peter G & Chrome:

I'm not going to get into the weeds about the timeline stuff because that is not what this episode is about. Trying to justify Old Jake's actions by making Sisko some sort of galactic lynch-pin has absolutely nothing to do with the emotional heart of this story. In that respect, I totally agree with Peter.

Put yourselves in Ben's shoes. Over the course of Jake's life, he sees that the odd side-effect of Sisko's accident has caused his son to lead a somewhat arrested life (I say somewhat, because the portrait of Old Jake isn't full-blown tragic. He did have a wife, dedicated friends and 2 careers). Anyway, Ben bears witness to the fact that this subspace umbilical cord thing keeps throwing Jake off "the path" or whatever you want to call it. As a father, I would think Ben would return to the present with 18yo Jake and conclude that the two of them had better see a therapist. Clearly the way Ben has been parenting Jake has left him vulnerable to major co-dependency issues. So yeah, this story needed a dose of "Timeless" or "Endgame" to fully-gel. Otherwise, the story has no heart--it's just a tech plot that happens to take a lifetime to complete.

Oh, and I'm pretty sure the titular visitors are Ben and Melanie.
William B
Mon, Nov 5, 2018, 12:23pm (UTC -5)
I agree with Elliott that it would have been interesting and worthwhile to see Ben take a look at whether there's anything he can do to prevent Jake from going down the same path of obsession in this lifetime. To be clear, this isn't the same as saying Old Jake needed to send "a message" back, because in a sense Ben *is* his message.

That said -- I don't know, I'm not sure if it's clear what Ben should do. I don't think it takes the heart out of the story if there's no unambiguous action Ben can take to prevent what happens to Jake, besides not getting hit with that blast. Again, the problem is specifically about Ben being in limbo -- of Jake both knowing that Ben is out there, and also him being lost. Ben probably figures that this is not going to happen again.

Jake was also absolutely clear that when he felt sure that his father was permanently lost, he moved on with his life, got married, etc. Maybe there was something missing, and certainly his new life wasn't enough to stop obsessing when he saw his father again. But I think the implication of the story is that if his father would stop "visiting," Jake would be able to let him go.

I don't think this makes the episode strictly a tech plot, because it actually is incredibly painful to have a loved one who is somewhere between here and gone -- in a coma, for example, or gradually declining in health, or with serious mental health problems that prevent them from fully living and which one can do something about, but not enough, etc. I guess my take in that case is that Old Jake tragically was unable to deal with this situation, and so sacrificed himself to avoid it.

[SPOILERS

The irony, as I've said, is that it *does* end up happening that Ben neither lives nor dies outright, but is in a kind of limbo post-series. At least this limbo (being a Prophet) is a little different. This is sort of a problem I have with Ben in the finale, which is that Ben, having seen what became of Jake, should know better than to keep his loved ones hanging indefinitely. Not that he shouldn't be "honest" about the "maybe a year, maybe yesterday" thing, but I feel like he should have said something like, "I will be back, but you and Jake, and the new child, should also live your lives in the interim." I guess if he was really positive he'd be back in 1 year or less, then what he said was fine, but I got the impression there was much more uncertainty.]

It is interesting that Elliott and I, while having some overlap, are still kind of different in our ultimate problem with the episode. I sympathize but don't entirely agree about the problem of whether Jake really accomplishes anything. The Melanie thing doesn't seem to bother him much, whereas it is kind of my beef with the ep.
Smith
Sat, Dec 1, 2018, 8:06am (UTC -5)
Not to be a contrarian but I couldn't stand this episode and it is among the worst IMO. The music was excellent as was the camera work, but... The pacing, dialog and energy were very bad. The two guest stars were flat, two-dimensional and talked waaay to slow. The main story was simplistic and backwards looking. Roddenberry trek is about discovery and new ideas...this was emotional indulgence that put character egos ahead of good story. I'm somewhat stunned that this is so popular of an episode.
Springy
Mon, Dec 24, 2018, 10:01pm (UTC -5)
Watching and commenting:

--Old, old Jake. Living in Louisiana. He wrote "Anslem." That's an odd name. Old Jake sounds vaguely like Sisko, nice touch.

--First time, last time, the right time, no more time. Time.

--Yikes! Ben dies when Jake's 18? Are we heading for time-paradoxes and technonabble and reset buttons? Fine by me. Let's go.

--Umm . . . what has happened to Ben? Where did he disappear to? Even Quark feels sorry for Jake. OMG, poor Jake. I can see where we're going with this. Ben not dead, occasionally reappearing. What a horror.

--Nog! Great scene.

--Huh. Jake really does use a pen to write.

--Yeeeee on Siddig's portrayal of old Bashir. Old Jake not a very good physical match for young Jake, but the actor makes it work.

--This show is nicely lit. Noticeably beautiful lighting.

--Lovely story. Creative idea, nicely realized. A winner.
Springy
Mon, Dec 24, 2018, 10:34pm (UTC -5)
After reading commentary:

--Getting over a loss is so very hard, one like this - with the person occasionally making an appearance - is a killer. And it literally kills Jake.

--It makes me think of something like Alzheimer's or schizophrenia. How the "person you once knew" is there but not there, reappears for a few minutes, or for a short while, sometimes. It's what makes those diseases so hard on family. You lose your loved one. But you don't. But you do. I wonder if the writer experienced something of that nature, that helplessness, that desperation, that feeling that you'd do anything, anything to turn back time.

--It's really good, but it's not "The Inner Light" good. Brooks' acting is still awful, but I don't know how else to enjoy DS9, than to look past Brooks' acting as best I can. But it's there, it's awful, and it means this ep cannot be The Inner Light.

--I didn't cry. It was moving, but no tears.
William B
Tue, Dec 25, 2018, 6:37am (UTC -5)
@Springy,

Yeah, or another mental illness -- even possibly a "milder" one, like severe depression, or alcoholism -- that renders a parent both present and not present, in need of "saving" but where the saving might not be possible.
Cody B
Tue, Dec 25, 2018, 7:32am (UTC -5)
Well I just watched this early on Christmas morning and either I’m the grinch or I’m missing something. This is a good episode but seeing everyone saying they were moved to tears is surprising. To me it seems like the writer of this episode watched TNG’s The Inner Light and thought “hmm I could tinker with that”. It’s a little bit of a stolen idea imo. Side note, the only Star Trek episode I teared up while watching was The Tholian Web.
Chrome
Tue, Dec 25, 2018, 8:57am (UTC -5)
I don’t even think “The Visitor” and “The Inner Light” are going for the same message. Like Springy and William B and were discussing, “The Visitor” is more about the importance of family and how it can impact you both in positive and negative ways. “The Inner Light”, on the other hand, is more like having a second chance at living life through the eyes of an ancient civilization. The only thing I see in common with the two is a great passage of time offscreen and an (inevitable) reset.

I also think Brooks’ performance is less relevant here because the big emotional punch scenes are delivered by Tony Todd.
Rahul
Tue, Dec 25, 2018, 12:17pm (UTC -5)
I can see the similarities between "The Visitor" and "The Inner Light" in terms of living an alternate reality but I do think the father/son dynamic is truly noteworthy here. The first time I saw it, I was nearly moved to tears and I can't think of too many other Trek episodes that have managed to do that. So even if it achieves its emotional impact with some smoke & mirrors and suffers from the big reset, it still deserves a ton of credit.

The acting performance that really takes this episode to the 4* level for me is Lofton's. Never thought much of him as an actor until "The Visitor". He really captured so well the loss of a father to a son. This is really a story about him (Jake) mainly and Sisko secondarily as far as what perspective to examine the father/son relationship from. Todd and Robinson also put in solid guest performances, which is essential to an episode like this.

As for "The Inner Light" -- I'd say 2 episodes that are more similar to it are "The Paradise Syndrome" and "Far Beyond the Stars".
Springy
Tue, Dec 25, 2018, 4:20pm (UTC -5)
@William B

Agree, it's a like those "more minor" mental illnesses as well. And it is like them not just because you lose your loved one "sort of," but because the loved one's progress stops relative to your own. Unlike Sisko, they age physically, but most other growth is stopped or severely slowed. Your life goes on, they can't get the spot where the disease took over.

@Chrome

I was comparing this ep to Inner Light only as "candidates for best ever ST ep." I would rate Inner Light significantly above this one, though I thought The Visitor was a very good ep.

I agree they are different, though they share an "importance of family vs career" theme, presented in nearly opposite ways. Lonely, reserved Picard loses "his family." He's a man who (in his real life) has sacrificed family for his career. Old Jake is vice versa.
Iceman
Tue, Dec 25, 2018, 5:19pm (UTC -5)
@Springy-
"--It's really good, but it's not "The Inner Light" good. Brooks' acting is still awful, but I don't know how else to enjoy DS9, than to look past Brooks' acting as best I can. But it's there, it's awful, and it means this ep cannot be The Inner Light."

I agree that it's not quite as good as "The Inner Light", but I'd say it's pretty close. It's odd to criticize this for Brooks' performance (which I still don't understand-to me, he's fine in this episode and most of the time). He's not in it that much. The community of Ressika in "The Inner Light" was pretty schmaltzy, but it didn't matter due to Stewart's performance, which was the most important part of the episode. The most important performance in this one is Tony Todd, and he smashes it out of the park in my opinion.
William B
Wed, Dec 26, 2018, 10:46am (UTC -5)
@Springy --

The parent "staying the same age" can also make sense if the parent's condition renders them oblivious, most of the time, to their own situation...so that the child "ages prematurely," with worry. In his moments of "lucidity" (i.e. not being in limbo), Ben still has the wisdom that Jake "ages past" without ever acquiring, of knowing that life is precious.

The parent reached adulthood before whatever happened to them (illness, coma, traumatic event) so that in their better moments, they understand what the child is missing. The child passes from teenager to old man without ever truly passing through mature young(er) man.

The "seize the time" message and the sense of...apocalyptic doom, even (Melanie comes on the last night of this particular future) also link The Inner Light and The Visitor. There are lots of reasons for the comparison, I think.
Chrome
Wed, Dec 26, 2018, 11:40am (UTC -5)
@William B

As much as people bring up Jake destroying his timeline on this board, I don’t think that’s really addressed in “The Visitor”. Melanie hears Jakes plan on his last night, sure, but she seems more concerned for Jake’s life than for her own (let alone her timeline). In fact, I’m not fully convinced the timeline is erased by Jake’s actions. In contrast, the Kataan seriously examine and are aware of their certain doom and various measures to preserve themselves are discussed leading to the ending solution.

I grant there are some surfacey similarities between the shows, but the discussions of “which did it better” here come off a bit disingenuinous to me. (Note, Springy I’m not criticizing your comment per se, as there are dozens of comments comparing the two. I just wanted to chime in here because it keeps coming up :) ).
William B
Wed, Dec 26, 2018, 12:15pm (UTC -5)
@Chrome --

I'm still not sure how to read whether Jake creates a new timeline or erases the future. I feel like the scale of the tragedy is lessened if Jake "only" dies, as an old man, but at the same time Melanie's reaction really doesn't make sense of someone who knows she's about to be erased (and Jake's giving her a book when he's about to erase her plays out as vaguely sociopathic). It feels like either way the story has a big hole. It still bothers me, though I know that's mostly an issue I have that not many others share.
Springy
Wed, Dec 26, 2018, 1:01pm (UTC -5)
Question for @William B, @Chrome, our any other commenter wanting top come in:

I saw all the comments on Melanie being erased, but didn't understand them. Did I miss something? Why should she believe that if Ben survives the incident on DS9, she'll be erased her mom and dad won't meet?)?

Maybe I missed something as I was very briefly interrupted a few times during viewing. Why would she be erased? If Jake had had descendents, they might be, sure . . . but Melanie? Why?
William B
Wed, Dec 26, 2018, 1:30pm (UTC -5)
@Springy,

I'd sort of assume that anyone born after the "present day" time of Sisko's death would have their life altered. The probabilities are so small of a specific egg and sperm encountering each other, etc.

But more than that, without spoiling too much, the events of what happens after Sisko's death are VERY different from the events which happen within the series proper. Sisko dying/not dying completely alters the Alpha Quadrant, in ways that will affect all sorts of lives.

But even if we assume Melanie will be alive...I don't understand how Melanie would be able to make much use of the book Jake gives her. Maybe a new timeline will split off. But if Jake does change the time since his father died, the whole conversation with Melanie, her getting the book from him, her obsession with Jake's work, etc., would seem to be hugely altered, by the different course Jake was taking. She wouldn't be able to take in and appreciate the warm advice he gives her, because her encounter with him would be erased (or at least significantly altered). It's strange to me because it plays it as if Jake uses his last night to do some good before passing, but that whatever lessons he imparts seemingly will never have happened.

I maybe am being pedantic about this. I feel like maybe just accepting that Melanie is a narrative device more than a character in her own right would help me along.
Springy
Wed, Dec 26, 2018, 1:55pm (UTC -5)
@William B

I see, yes, I certainly agree Melanie life would be different, and the book world be useless. I was confused by people commenting that she would be erased, and how could she accept that so calmly.

I try to put myself in her shoes. Why would she think that Jake going back top save his father on faraway DS9 would erase her existence? You say been had a huge, fast ranging impact on Alpha quadrant . . . Ok. But how would she know that?

It made no sense for Jake to give her his annotated manuscript, or for her to think it would be useful to her, though I can see her hoping it might be, somehow. It would be hard for her to be certain what would happen next . . . i.e., would her timeline continue, as is? "Maybe" is certainly a sensible answer for her to come to.

But I can see her not worrying a whit about her very existence. Unless my recent ancestors had some connection to DS9, I wouldn't be worried, if I were her.
Iceman
Wed, Dec 26, 2018, 3:23pm (UTC -5)
Also, I disagree with people who say that this is a rip-off of "The Inner Light". From a plot perspective, it's much more similar to "Future Imperfect". "Far Beyond the Stars" is DS9's interpretation of that.
William B
Wed, Dec 26, 2018, 6:08pm (UTC -5)
@Springy,

I think I forgot exactly what my objection was some of the time when typing about it. I do think it's possible that Melanie's existence would be erased, due to Sisko's overall significance. But you're right that she shouldn't think that...except arguably through the "butterfly effect" aspects.

I think my main problem is still that the Jake and Melanie conversation feels weird to me, in that it plays like he is giving her something (the book, and the life lessons) that she will take with her, even though those lessons seem to be about to be erased.

It *is* possible to read it in a more existential sense -- where she learns that she only has a few hours to hold onto her new lessons, but those will be fantastic, meaningful hours.

I think though that the intent is maybe that Jake is sharing with Melanie because he knows he's going to die, as if he plans for his advice to her to outlive him. That still seems weird to me.
Springy
Wed, Dec 26, 2018, 9:03pm (UTC -5)
@William B

Agree old Jake's attitude toward giving Melanie the manuscript is just plain weird. I mean, you can tell yourself that maybe Jake thought there was a chance the current timeline would continue as is, that he'd be creating an alternative, co-existing timeline. But the scene really isn't written that way. It's written as if it doesn't even occur to old Jake that his gesture may be completely meaningless.

In that scene, he talks as if he will soon be drastically altering his future, but then he also talks as if things will remain so exactly the same, so completely unchanged, that it's important to pass that manuscript on to Melanie.

It is weird and it seems more sloppy than anything else.
Circus Man
Fri, Dec 28, 2018, 6:16pm (UTC -5)
If there's a likeness with "The Inner Light," it's that they're both decidedly off-format episodes that focus almost exclusively around a single member of the ensemble. They're also both decidedly melodramatic pieces where soaring emotion is prioritized (and logic consequently takes a back seat). The level of taste people have for such episodes is, I suspect, directly related to their tolerance for melodrama.
Brian T
Thu, Jan 31, 2019, 9:17am (UTC -5)
I Loved this episode and definitely would rank it 4 stars. It always makes me think about my relationship with my father and living life to my fullest.

Random Thoughts:
Jake’s Tragedy vs Picard’s Inner Light:
I always saw this story as a tragedy that focused on the familial/loving relationships we all have (i.e. the parental relationships that define us as people) and the sudden loss of it. This is why it always hit me much harder than “The Inner Light”. Picard doesn’t experience loss from the outset of that episode, he gradually experiences gain and then loss. He gets to live a fully realized life with a family and then he loses it slowly over time, in fact he is well aware that his family on Kataan and the planet will come to an end and yet has time to live his life to its fullest, encourage others to do so, find meaning in everything, etc. The only real tragedy of this episode is that it seems to suggest that Picard, in the real world, has specifically chosen not to have this kind of life due to his commitment to his career in Starfleet and that he may never experience the “inner light” that these relationships gave him. But it is actively Picard’s choice to choose career over a family and he has plenty of time to still find one; in fact, if we are to believe the Star Trek novelizations, Picard will one day marry Beverley Crusher and may have this kind of family sometime. So, although it was neat to see Picard with a family, I was never as emotionally invested by the story, especially as someone who has yet to experience a spouse and kids. Perhaps when I am a 100 year old man who has seen friends and spouses die to old age and prepare to face my own death it will resonate with me more.

On the other hand, Jake was still a yet-to-mature boy of 18, and is at that time in his life was most strongly defined by his relationship with Ben. This relationship is ripped away suddenly and he does not have the experience or support structure to adapt. Anyone who has lost a parent can relate to his pain, as opposed to Picard’s drama in TIL (if you haven’t experienced a full life with a spouse, kids, and grand kids), but more importantly, Jake cannot get past Ben (because he keeps visiting), but also discovers that Ben didn’t simply die, he is trapped in limbo and will likely be there for all eternity. Imagine if you find out your parent was being held in a prison beyond your reach and that long after you died they would be still be suffering (of some sorts) for all time. This fuels Jake’s already obsession-prone behavior to sacrifice everything to reset time…in fact, Jake sacrifices the same familial relationship that Picard earned in TIL, in order to save Ben.

The Time-Reset:
While many people scoff at Jake resetting the timeline immorally to serve his own ends, I say that the risks and rewards are too undefined to claim that it was wrong. Some say that his future was rosy since the Dominion war never occurred in a timeline where Sisko died in season 4 (which also suggests that Sisko really wasn’t all that pivotal to history), but one only has bits-and-pieces of information. True, the worst-case-scenario where the Dominion invade and take over is not realized, but that only means this future is better than that one, it does not suggest that this future is ideal. Think about what is known about this future and see how it compares to the one we know happens at the end of DS9. For this comparison, one has to have watched the series to conclusion:
1. Without Sisko, the Klingons remain an aggressive force in the AQ with their military might to the point that they even assume control over the station and the wormhole. Why doesn’t the Dominion invade in this future? Because maybe they already got what they wanted. Changeling Martok is in a position of power in the Klingon Empire when Sisko dies and probably at some point takes over the Klingon Empire because Sisko/Odo never expose him in Season 5. So, the Dominion never invades because they have already taken over the AQ at this point and nobody even knows it. The Klingon Empire (ruled secretly by the Founders) has essential dominance over the wormhole sector of the AQ (maybe more, perhaps even Cardassia and Bajor at this point) and therefore controls any access to/from the Gamma Quadrant. The Founders never invade because they are never at risk of being conquered so long as they control the wormhole and can slowly continue to destabilize the AQ with their Klingon puppets over the course of the next few decades. Doesn’t sound like great future to me.
2. With the death of the Emissary, the Bajorans lose hope and retreat from the joining the Federation. So we have a future where they are ruled by the Shakaar government and Kai Winn. Compare that to the true future in season 7 where Winn is removed from power and Bajor is on the cusp of joining (which they do eventually do in the Star trek novels). Just look at how much damage Winn causes in Season 4 Accession when Akorem comes out of the wormhole and brings the Bajoran state back to its religiously-conservative caste system that would have ousted Shakaar at the next election and probably put Kai Winn (or her religiously-conservative equivalent) at the head of the State. This future for Bajor with no Emissary to oppose it also sounds not too great.

Also, I agree that one cannot call this a “reset button” episode since the audience knew all along that it was going to be “undone” in some fashion, that the character arc development for Old Jake reached its concussion (and in doing so conveyed the tragedy to the audience), and that Ben retained knowledge of it all (therefore impacting his future father-son relationship which was the whole point of the episode).

Jake-Ben Relationship Progression to End-of-Series:
As pointed out above, the father/son Ben/Jake relationship is one of the best and most endearing in the series and as the show progresses, we see that relationship strained more and more. Mentioned above, the major character conflicts that drive Jake and Ben apart are the Sisko-Prophet episodes where Ben has to choose between his son and his destiny as Emissary/Prophet. As the series progresses, Sisko moves toward accepting his role/destiny as Emissary and Prophet knowing all along that it distances himself from Jake…and the tragedy of it all being that The Visitor showed him how much their relationship meant to them both. But one cannot fight destiny and Ben joins the Prophets in the end, mirroring this scenario in The Visitor. Is the ending of the series tragic since Ben abandons Jake to be with the Prophets just like how he "left" him in The Visitor? Let’s thing about that.

I would argue that Jake matures a great deal since the start of Season 4 and is much better prepared to handle losing Ben by the end of Season 7:

-Season 4 “Paradise Lost/Crossfire”: Jake spends time with his Grandfather as blooming adult and can even stand up to him to the point where he insists that Grandpa take a blood sampling test. Compare this to his prior relationship of always acquiescing and being forced to peel potatoes in the restaurant all day; we see that he has grown-up a little relative to his Grandpa.

-Season 4 “The Muse”: Jake continues to distance himself from his father in pursuit of his own goals. He refuses a father-son trip with Ben in order to focus on a story he is writing and even keeps secret from him the fact that he is meeting with a strange women in an intimate setting (she is massaging his head in her quarters…while eating his creativity?).

-Season 4 “Shattered Mirror”: Jake meets his mirror mother in mirror Jenifer Sisko and then has to watch her die right in front of him. Even though this brings Jake and Ben closer to each other as they both grieve over the re-death of a Jennifer Sisko, he now (sort of) has experience watching a loved parent-like figure die and apparently gets over it emotionally.

-Season 5 “Nor the Battle to the Strong”: Jake experiences the real world, war, and life & death away from his father and takes a hard look inside himself to determine if he is courageous or a coward. Then he exposes that in his writing and shares it with the world. He has become more self-aware, courageous, and takes steps toward his future career in writing.

-Season 5 “The Ascent”: Jake moves out of his father’s quarters and begins to have a fully realized life on his own where he doesn’t even see Ben every day…perhaps only once or twice a week to score a free dinner meal.

-Season 6 “Rapture”: Sisko chooses to have life-threatening visions that may kill him in order to embrace his destiny as Emissary. Although Jake overrides comatose Ben’s wishes in the end, he learns that the Emissary/Prophet destiny means enough to Ben to risk a life with Cassidy and him. This also brings Cassidy back into the picture and strengthens the bond between her and Jake. As both stand by while Sisko faces death, you get the sense that they are already a family unit.

-Season 5 “In The Cards”: Jake realizes his father is depressed due to larger-than-life circumstances beyond his control (i.e. looming threat of Dominion war) and embarks on a quest to correct the situation not by ending the threat of the Dominion way, but rather by focusing on the little things. A token gift of a baseball card changes nothing about the Dominion war scenario but can be seen as a healthy form of dealing with negative feelings by focusing on what makes one happy instead of what makes one sad.

Season 5/6 “Call to Arms” to “Sacrifice of Angels”: Jake risks life-and-limb and goes against Ben’s known orders to abandon the station in order to be an investigate journalist under Dominion rule thereby furthering his future writing career and removing his dependence on his father (although he is dependent on his father’s reputation as Emissary).

Season 6 “The Reckoning”: Sisko sides with the Prophets when both Kira and Jake are possessed by a Prophet and a Paighwraith, respectively. Jake learns and accepts that Ben’s destiny as Emissary and faith in the Prophets means he is willing to sacrifice is own son for a greater good. Jake has therefore accepted a reality where he and Ben are separated for a noble cause.

Season 6 “Valiant”: While along-for-the ride with Nog and a bunch of overzealous Red Squad Cadets, Jake has the courage to go against the grain, stand up to “Captain" Waters and tell everybody that they are foolish for embarking on a suicide mission. A weaker personality would have been swayed by Waters bull crap and even Nog was swayed into obedience (and Nog typically has a stronger personality than Jake).

Season 7/8 “Tears of the Prophets” – “Shadows and Symbols”: Ben Sisko becomes a broken man after failing in his duty as Emissary and allowing Jadzia to die. Jake acts as the support structure this time and holds Ben up: despite already living on his own, he moves back to Earth with Ben to help him recover emotionally or spiritually or whatever. Then he goes as far as to save Ben from the cult-of-the-paighwraith assassin and then accompany him to Tyree. Instead of Jake being dependent on Ben and seeing him as larger-than-life, Jake experiences his father as a “human being”. Jake no longer puts Ben up on a pedestal the way most children see their parents and is now adult enough to be the one who Ben needs to depend on. This can be seen as a reversal of roles rather than the crippling dependence Jake had on Ben at the end of Season 4.

Season 7 “What You Leave Behind” - In the end, Sisko goes off to join the Prophets in the wormhole. While this seems to mirror what happened in The Visitor, there are major differences that completely change the scenario. This time, he is not a prisoner in limbo, alone and with no purpose, but rather accompanied by his own people (his own prophet mother in fact), to serve a higher mission, and with the possibility of return. He also communicates to Cassidy that he is at peace with this fate. Jake, instead of being alone (save for his Grandfather whom he was a child to in Season 4), Jake is now left with new familial bonds. He is become a man is his Grandfather’s eyes and stands on higher footing with him, he has a new mother in the form of Cassidy and she is pregnant, making Jake a future brother to watch over. Lastly, Jake has matured professionally and emotionally to be independent and have a more defined purpose in life with his writing career.

Overall, Jake is in much better circumstance to move on with his life despite Ben being in the Wormhole.

Melanie and Erasing the current Timeline:
I dismiss the idea that Melanie should have acted more aggressively to either stop old Jake from altering the timeline or said something to try to convince him not to. Most likely she comprehended everything he was saying (including the concept that he was going to erase her existence) but simply did not believe it enough to act. If someone, even someone you respected and admired, told you such a fantastic story, would you really act to stop it or would you dismiss it as the rambling dementia of an old man with little probability of being real? Melanie did what most of us would do in that situation, nod her head respectfully, get what she wanted out of the encounter (i.e. writing advice and a copy of his book), and excuse herself from the room.

Finally, when Old Jake tells the story to Melanie in the first place and even gives her the copy of his book, one asks why if he was just going to erase the timeline? Perhaps Old Jake believed there was 0.0001% probability that he was wrong and about to commit suicide for no reason. In that case, he at least wanted someone to know why he was about to die and even benefit from his story. Even if he believed there was a 100% chance of success, I would suggest existence in the moment is meaningful in itself. By telling Melanie his story, even if the timeline gets erased later, at that moment in time and reality, his encounter had meaning to both himself and Melanie. Similarly with the gifting of the book.

That's my long drawn-out random take!
Tim C
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 2:39pm (UTC -5)
I've been rewatching DS9 weekly over the last couple of years along with "The Greatest Generation" podcast, and just reached this episode. I have nothing particularly new to say about it, but I'm laying here in a mess in a motel room on a road trip and can confirm:

It's lost none of its power after 24 (!) years and still has me choking up from Jake's breakdown in the infirmary onwards. It's just magic. Utterly timeless TV that pushes some universal buttons in the human soul.

And commenters are right, this isn't "The Inner Light". This is so much better! TIL is one of the franchise's most overrated episodes of all time. There, I said it.
Grumpy Tribble
Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 12:42pm (UTC -5)
It's certainly not a bad episode by any means. It was fine. But I just don't get what I'm missing here. It was cliche and predictable, the old-age makeup was hilariously crappy, and the alternate future (the only reason I personally watched the episode in the first place) wasn't very interesting.

That said, if most people find this episode moving, I'd say that's a good thing. It's not like there's anything bad writing or bad messages in this episode. This episode had good goals IMO, and if those goals succeeded on most people, then that's also good.
Mike
Wed, Mar 6, 2019, 2:38am (UTC -5)
Wow! Do none of the commenters here have parents?

I’ll say this, I know that my mom is going to die eventually and I’ll have no choice but to accept this and hope that I’ll see her again one day in heaven. However, if I did have a choice to either stop her from dying or undo her death, even if it meant destroying the whole universe in the process, it wouldn’t even be a question, I would do everything I could do to bring her back without a second thought to the universe. That’s what love is.
Jason R.
Wed, Mar 6, 2019, 7:47am (UTC -5)
"However, if I did have a choice to either stop her from dying or undo her death, even if it meant destroying the whole universe in the process, it wouldn’t even be a question, I would do everything I could do to bring her back without a second thought to the universe. That’s what love is."

I take it you don't gave kids :)
Mike
Thu, Mar 7, 2019, 12:10am (UTC -5)
@Jason


I don’t, I have a baby nephew, nonetheless the same thing applies. If God forbid something happened to him and I could bring him back by destroying the universe it wouldn’t even be a question. The nature of real love is such that nothing else really matters but those that you love.
Peter G.
Thu, Mar 7, 2019, 1:31am (UTC -5)
@ Mike,

So...the nature of real love is to let the world burn so that you can have the one thing you want?
Mike
Sun, Mar 10, 2019, 3:35am (UTC -5)
@Peter G.

YES! Yes it is, real love is single minded and essentially selfish, it is a beautiful insanity. When you really love someone, nobody and nothing else matters, if you wouldn’t happily let the world burn for someone you love then you don’t love them, you might be very fond of them, but love is more than fondness.


Johnny Cash wasn’t exaggerating when he wrote Ring of Fire...
Jason R.
Sun, Mar 10, 2019, 11:26am (UTC -5)
"YES! Yes it is, real love is single minded and essentially selfish, it is a beautiful insanity. "

While I get where you are coming from on an emotional level I can tell you as a father I wouldn't blow up the world to save my daughter - especially since she also kind of lives here.....
Peter G.
Sun, Mar 10, 2019, 11:42pm (UTC -5)
@ Mike,

"YES! Yes it is, real love is single minded and essentially selfish, it is a beautiful insanity. When you really love someone, nobody and nothing else matters, if you wouldn’t happily let the world burn for someone you love then you don’t love them, you might be very fond of them, but love is more than fondness."

I would agree with this on one point: that what you describe is indeed insanity. This is perhaps a point too involved to debate here, but I would personally argue that any definition of love that involves sacrificing others for what you want can't be called love, but perhaps should have some other name. Obsession? Fixation? I guess we could just call it what you did: selfishness.

But rather than push this point further, I would only encourage you to consider what sorts of actions might be justifiable using your definition of love. What courses of action and political movements could result from people adopting exactly that basis of value? If the lives of many are merely a means to serve some "higher" goal, does it really matter what that goal is? And does it really matter whether you call it "love", or "ambition", or "despotism"?
J-Web
Fri, Mar 22, 2019, 8:50pm (UTC -5)
Great episode, and love the 11-year-long discussion in this thread.

While this is undoubtedly Trek at its best, I always wished that the end scene would have revealed that this whole series of events never really happened. Instead, what if it was revealed that this whole episode was really a story that young Jake wrote? Not only would that avoid the reset issue, but it would truly make us believe in Jake as a writer. Imagine the look on Ben's face as he finished reading this story by his son. It wouldn't take away from the character development, either. Instead, it would show that Jake really internalized the lessons this episode stresses. What self-realization this would be!

Thoughts?
GerdBread
Wed, May 1, 2019, 9:46am (UTC -5)
I too love the 11-year discussion in this thread about an episode that first aired 24 years ago. I was about Jake's age when I first saw it and I'm probably Sisko's age as I write this - how quickly time passes.

It felt like a good episode then but it's a gut-wrenching, tear-inducing piece of Trek goodness now. DS9's writing team handled time travel the best among the Trek series. Instead of using it as a technobabble crutch, they used it to set up dramatic situations that TNG and Voyager rarely ventured into. DS9 wasn't as serialized as something like Discovery today, so it's left in viewers' minds and memories to remember things that characters seemingly forgot in later episodes.

Tony Todd's performance was amazing. I was also surprised by the excellent performance by Rachel Robinson / Melanie. She looked so very familiar and it was only recently that I found out she was Andrew Robinson's / Garak's daughter. The eyes (and the nose) have it.

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