Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
"Far Beyond the Stars"
Air date: 2/8/1998
Teleplay by Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
Story by Marc Scott Zicree
Directed by Avery Brooks
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
"You see, Albert's got the right idea. He's not interested in Negroes or whites. He writes about robots."
"That's because he is a robot."
— Douglas and Herb
Nutshell: Wonderful, classic Trek. A socially aware issue episode that's also an engrossing reflection upon Trek's own spirit.
Captain Benjamin Lafayette Sisko: portrayed by the engaging African-American actor Avery Brooks. Does it matter that Captain Sisko is black? In the color-blind 24th century, it's a non-issue. The word "black" (which, to my knowledge, has never directly been used to describe a Trekkian character) might as well be in the same group of descriptive words as "tall" or "bald." No character sees Sisko as a "black captain"—he's just "the captain." The case is similar for Voyager's female Captain Janeway. For the purposes of Trek, I think that's absolutely the way it should be. In 400 years, I hope we will have improved race and gender relations to the point that everyone can immediately accept people for who they are, rather than scrutinizing their ethnic background. I know—it sounds like a trite, obvious sentiment, but aren't the most universal statements always trite-sounding after they've been said so many times?
Next question: Does it matter that actor Avery Brooks is black? Deep Space Nine may take place almost 400 years from now, but let's face it: Reality is 1998, and no matter what your stance is, race issues are still relevant to most people in our society.
On a personal note, I find it very refreshing to see a black hero as the lead for a mainstream television series. In my opinion there are not, for whatever reason, enough impacting black characters in television drama (excepting Homicide: Life on the Street), so when DS9 premiered in 1993, I was pleased to see an African American leading a Star Trek series—a franchise which has always prided itself on forward thinking and social commentary.
But before this review turns into a column on race relations in the 1990s, let me frame my point in terms of this week's story. This episode, for the first time in DS9's run, utilizes Avery Brooks' character as "black." It accomplishes this by putting Brooks' in the role of Bennie Russell, a science fiction writer trying to make it in 1953, when racism built up the walls blocking opportunity.
"Far Beyond the Stars" is what it's all about, people. This is a perfect example of what makes Trek what it is: not just entertainment, but entertainment with a social awareness that goes beyond the technology, adventure, and space journeys, and into the exploration of the human condition.
The slice of Bennie's life is a dream that Sisko has when he falls unconscious, exhibiting medical readings and bizarre mental activity similar to when he had his visions in last year's "Rapture." The dream idea is itself interesting, and even though this was intended as a single-shot, stand-alone episode, there are little details within "Far Beyond the Stars" that make one wonder if the Prophets weren't somehow set on giving Sisko this vision for a specific purpose.
Bennie Russell's daily troubles begin with the editor of the sci-fi magazine he writes for: a man named Douglas (Rene Auberjonois), whose cowardice epitomizes the dangers of embracing a slanted status quo. He's a prime example of covert racism: Sure, he has a Negro writer on his staff, but he's unwilling to acknowledge that man's identity. "As far as our readers are concerned," he says, "Bennie Russell is as white as they are. Let's just keep it that way." He explains away all social responsibility for his own actions and opinions by blaming society—simply excusing his own close-mindedness on "the way things are."
Early in the episode, Douglas explains that the writing staff will be in a photo to be published in the next issue. Nobody is surprised when Douglas tells Bennie and Kay (Nana Visitor), the staff's only woman, to "oversleep" the day the photo is to be taken. "It's nothing personal," he tells Bennie. But that's the point—racism (and sexism) is rarely a personal issue.
When Roy, the resident artist (J.G. Hertzler), shows Bennie an intriguing drawing of a space station, Bennie is hit with an overwhelming inspiration. The next day he comes to work with a completed story about this space station—a place called Deep Space Nine—which is commanded by a black captain. The other writers love it. But it doesn't matter, because Douglas won't print it. "Your hero is a Negro captain ... It's not believable." Left with no option but to either make the captain white or not have the story published, Bennie suffers a defeat while maintaining his integrity. Because Douglas isn't willing to make a difference, Bennie's story is rendered useless.
Armin Shimerman portrays Herb, a forward-thinking liberal who represents the antithesis of Douglas. Throughout the episode, Herb hounds Douglas for his conservatism, and encourages Bennie to tell his story just as he wants to. Herb is interesting because he represents the other view—the side that realized that individuals had to make personal efforts to overcome the generally held opinions of the masses.
Also appropriate given the era of McCarthyism is Douglas' suggestion that Herb is a communist. "Far Beyond the Stars" benefits from a number of such historic touches. The casting of Michael Dorn as a Negro baseball player who has been inducted into the Major Leagues makes sense, and adds to the running commentary dialog.
"Far Beyond the Stars" is, of course, obviously intended as a Trekkian "message" episode, but there's much more to it than that. Anyone who sees this purely as a soapbox preaching is missing a lot of the story's more general elements. After all, this episode is also wonderful entertainment. Dropping all the DS9 regulars into these new roles is interesting for the novelty value alone, particularly giving human roles to the actors who are usually in makeup. I greatly enjoyed Shimerman as the lively liberal; and Auberjonois in that '50s-looking haircut and glasses; and Farrell as the ditzy New Yorker secretary Darlene, and Meaney as Albert, the "robot" writer who can never come up with the words he's looking for; and even Aron Eisenberg as a newsstand boy.
Then there's the Harlem setting, featuring Penny Johnson as practical woman Cassie, who just wants to marry Bennie and settle down; Dorn's engaging turn as Willie, the baseball star with the big ego; and especially the impressively convincing Cirroc Lofton as the charismatic but troublesome Jimmy—a cynic with little hope who is spiraling down into crime.
The atmospherics alone are worth the hour's view. The period costuming and production design looks great, and Dennis McCarthy's score is like a breath of fresh air. It's always enjoyable when the series gets off its standing sets, and even more enjoyable when such special settings are utilized for a story.
All things considered, I'm giving "Far Beyond the Stars" four stars because it falls into the category of great Trek. However, I think I'd better address one issue that may be on some people's minds: There's a melodramatic overture in "Far Beyond the Stars," and some are undoubtedly going to find it a little excessive and possibly obvious.
The two cops played by Marc Alaimo and Jeffery Combs, for example, are little more than shady, two-dimensional characters used to further crush Bennie's character into his tortured place in the world. Their racially motivated evil actions—shooting Jimmy for breaking into a car, and then severely beating Bennie when he reacts to his friend's death—are anything but sudden and subtle. But in the end, isn't that the whole point? Racism in the 1950s was hardly subtle, either.
The episode's climax follows from the idea of Bennie as a symbol of despair. The structure of the show sets him up for a terrible fall. There's a point when Douglas finally permits Bennie to go forward with submitting his Deep Space Nine story for the month's magazine run—provided he turns the premise into a dream (supposing people will be more open to it if "it never really happened"). Bennie is overjoyed with the hope of a major breakthrough that could have meaningful aftereffects. But then the publisher pulps the issue and, furthermore, orders Bennie's termination.
I'll admit that I think Avery Brooks may have overacted his payoff scene a tad more than he needed to. It seemed a little uneasy upon first viewing. But when I watched it again, it seemed to work better. If you think it through, Bennie is an example of one man who has reached his limits and can't take any more. Just when a lifetime of frustrations and fruitless patience finally seemed like it was going to pay off, he finds himself starting all over again with nothing gained, and no progress made. He loses it. "Nervous breakdown" would probably be an applicable '90s term.
But I think it goes even further than that—something that extends into destiny or prophecy. The mysterious street preacher (Brock Peters) offers cryptic words of foresight on more than one occasion, and much of what he has to say is reflected in Bennie's struggle. The fact that "hope and despair walk arm in arm" is particularly interesting given Bennie's defeat when considered alongside the implicit, unseen results of his writings. Indeed, there seems to be more at stake here than what concrete events can explain. As Bennie is reduced to a broken, crying heap on the floor, he professes that his characters cannot be destroyed—because he created them, they're real, and they exist somewhere, whether his story was published or not. And that's something that I think may have more literal implications than what anyone but Bennie can know. After all, these fictional characters had become a part of Bennie more than Bennie himself could ever have expected. When he was inspired with the idea of DS9, he began having hallucinations—seeing Sisko's reflection when he should've been seeing his own, and sometimes seeing his characters in his friends and co-workers. At one point he finds reality skewed, believing he is inside his own story.
This is Star Trek taking a leap into an unknown that only the truly great sci-fi ideas strive for. When Sisko wakes up, there's a sense that Bennie's existence goes beyond that of a simple dream. Given the mystical DS9 lore involving Bajoran prophecies and wormhole aliens, I seriously wonder if this wasn't a pivotal part of Sisko's own existence—and maybe even the Trekkian fictional history. The ending makes one seriously wonder about the nature of Bennie Russell's existence.
It's strange how many levels of poignancy Sisko's final reflection conveys. At one level, Sisko ponders his dream about this distant, tragic person who had a hopeful vision. On another level, Sisko wonders if he and everything he knows is just a figment of this person's imagination. And on a third level, it's a nonfictional reflection upon the real truth—that Sisko really is just a fictional dream, created by the DS9 writers at Paramount Pictures. There's something strangely bittersweet about that last sentiment. This is a story that wants to keep dreams alive.
Next week: Looks kinda silly. Two words: Runabout shrinkage.
Previous episode: Who Mourns for Morn?
Next episode: One Little Ship
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343 comments on this post
Mon, Sep 10, 2007, 4:01am (UTC -5)
Sisko came across as a hypocrite at the beginning, when Visitor's character is told not to show up along with Sisko, the office rushes to defend Sisko and sweeps Visitor under the carpet. After all, she is only a woman.
Dukat & Weyoun as the comic-book bad cops put in their worst performances in the entire season, mostly due to the heavy handed approach and OTT script.
If the writers had been a little more subtle, the show could have been great, but for me the only redeaming aspect was Dorn's character saying that even though he had made the big leagues, he still wasn't accepted. That was the most believable thing about the episode.
And the ultimate irony of the show is, Sisko is forced to rewrite his story so it was all a dream. And what happens at the end of the episode? Oh, it was all a dream and , just like we used to write at school when we were 7 and knew no better.
Wed, Nov 21, 2007, 9:01am (UTC -5)
Besides, if a woman writer wanted to make her self known, there were other ways to do it, and if she did so, I doubt she would have lost her job for it.
I agree with Jamahl, this episode was excellent, one of the very best in the series.
Thu, Apr 3, 2008, 12:18am (UTC -5)
I was overjoyed to find that I was wrong. True, it took away the allegorical element, but put in its place a nuanced, lyrical story. Several elements of racism were put on display, from the two detectives' overt menacing of Benny to Douglas' subtler attitude of, "It's not me; it's just what IS." I've seen both subtle and gross expressions of racism, both personal and institutional, and it felt right for each to be depicted, even if the cops' came up short characterization-wise as a result.
I don't know that I can add much that hasn't already been said here and elsewhere. I will say that I was surprised that in all the reviews I read, no one brought up what for me was one of the biggest belly laughs of the episode, namely, Herb's being accused of being a Communist. Sure, it was an illustration of the attitude of the times, but, given that other character Armin Shimerman plays on the show, it was also a hilarious bit of meta-irony.
Mon, May 5, 2008, 1:05am (UTC -5)
Fri, Jun 20, 2008, 5:57pm (UTC -5)
Everything else to be said is in Jammer's review.
Sat, Jun 21, 2008, 12:09pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Oct 27, 2008, 10:29am (UTC -5)
The only downside for me is that since ethnicity shouldn't be an issue in the Star Trek future, they're basically making it an issue. I sort of liked it when Sisko didn't have to be defined as a black man in the future. It is a concern that is supposed to be dated at that time, and only applies to us in the present. I know that's really why this episode exists and that's fine with me, but at the same time I think that within Star Trek itself it didn't much need a reason to exist.
Sun, Jun 14, 2009, 1:35pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jul 29, 2009, 5:56pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Sep 4, 2009, 11:00pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Sep 22, 2009, 2:02am (UTC -5)
On one hand we have some great stuff with the interaction between Bennie and Douglas (the "it's just what it IS" line was very well conceived) and seeing the Trek regulars in different roles minus the makeup is good fun. The self-reflexive nature of the story and its commentary on the liberating power of the Sci-Fi thought experiment was also well done.
On the other hand, Brooks' delivery seemed really weak in this episode, especially the breakdown, only made worse by the full on close-up shot that was used to capture it. I also felt like the setup for this plot (Sisko doubting his capacity to fight, his father coming to visit) didn't really match the main plot very well, and felt like it could have gone in other interesting directions.
There are a lot of DS9 episodes that are just mediocre, this isn't one of them, being both a success and a failure at the same time.
At least they shot for the stars...
Sun, Oct 11, 2009, 7:03pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Nov 1, 2009, 5:33am (UTC -5)
It hardly matters that Captain Sisko isn't real. The dream itself is real, and everything good that we've accomplished as a species is a result of that dream.
Wed, Nov 25, 2009, 10:42am (UTC -5)
Rogue: "I'm surprised anyone could like this episode. I'm not one to support racism, but it seems to me dwelling on the topic is as bad as supporting it"
Heavily disagree. Awareness of the process by which a large segment of humanity has, in the past and present, been brutalized, exploited, marginalized and killed is a vital process to combat ongoing injustices and work towards a more egalitarian society. Frankly, my mind boggles at the concept that recalling these incidents and the long structures of domination is as bad as the structures themselves. But in a way, thanks for voicing this, as it makes explicit what a lot of our culture implicitly believes. 'Things were bad in the past, let's not think about it, it's all fixed now, no need to upset people.' Wrong. A society that can't look at and value lives that struggled against such extreme prejudice is a society that's still profoundly broken. This is doubly the case when so much of the circumstances of this episode as still sadly relevant. Yes, even after Obama's election. Police pressure, from suspicion of 'driving while black' to disproportionate use of force are still a reality. To a large extent people are still more comfortable with a white scifi author or actor than a black one. Most of the speculations on the future take a basically "neutral" and white privileged standpoint. Bottom line, we still have a long way to go before we reach the 24th century, not just chronologically or technologically, but in social attitudes. Episodes like 'Far Beyond the Stars' can help move us there. So can shows like The Wire, but I digress.
Wed, Apr 14, 2010, 6:40pm (UTC -5)
And this is 2010.
Sun, Apr 18, 2010, 5:14pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Jun 26, 2010, 3:35pm (UTC -5)
P.S. Anyone else wonder where Kasidy has been since "Rapture"? I know Penny Johnson was busy, but they never even mentioned what happened to her during the Dominion occupation of the station!
Fri, Jul 2, 2010, 10:21pm (UTC -5)
However, it is a CRIME that Louise Fletcher (Kai Winn) was not in the ambulance when Benny was taken to the psychiatric ward. Having the actress who won an academy award for playing the evil psych Nurse Ratched as a recurring character, how could they not use her in that scene?
Thu, Jul 8, 2010, 12:48am (UTC -5)
Sat, Aug 14, 2010, 11:38am (UTC -5)
It's all the more a shame, because everything else about this episode is perfect. We have a great story with a moral, some meta-irony, the opportunity to see some regular cast members without make-up on (Odo, Quark, and Worf are awesome!), and even (as Jammer put it) a reflection upon Trek's own spirit. "Classic Trek" indeed.
P.S. Maybe I was too severe when I said "ruined". But the breakdown scene still knocks half a star for me to make it a 3.5/4 rating.
Wed, Dec 15, 2010, 5:33am (UTC -5)
Think about it, Benny Russell basically writes the story of DS9 but DS9 never made a big deal about the fact that Sisko is black. If you just read the DS9 scripts and ignore the parts that describe Sisko's appearance, you won't even know what Sisko's race is since it is never brought up except in this episode and another episode in season 7. The writers could have easily made Sisko Asian or Hispanic or Caucasian or even a woman and it wouldn't make that much of a difference on DS9's story just like how they could have made Picard Italian or Portuguese instead of French and it wouldn't have much effect on TNG.
The fact that Benny Russell was so insistent on making Sisko black even though it would have no impact on the story is an excellent illustration of the mechanism of racism. Racism isn't just about how one groups benefits from the suffering of another group. It's not just about the physical oppression of a group of people. It's about the suppression of ideas. That is the true evil of racism that this episode is trying to show us. It ties everything a person does, everything a person is, to their race so that you can completely dismiss that person's feelings, thoughts, and ideas based on something as superficial as their skin color.
Also, this episode serves to remind us that segregation was not that long ago. There is the notion in society today that segregation and slavery ended a long time ago. There are plenty of people out there who think that slavery ended hundreds of years ago. In reality, institutional racism wasn't really abolished until 1968. When you see an African American with grey hair, then that person lived during a time when black people were beaten by the police and lynched by mobs.
Wed, Dec 15, 2010, 5:43am (UTC -5)
In a way, the Prophets were teaching Sisko/Benny the same lesson, giving him/them a glimpse into the mysteries of existence. I think that this also illustrates how DS9 focuses more on the social science aspect of science fiction while TNG focuses more on the natural science aspects.
Tue, Jan 11, 2011, 1:51pm (UTC -5)
Again, I cannot reconcile this kind of profundity in the prophets with the absurd pettiness they exhibit in most episodes, but on it's own, I think this may be the best episode of DS9 created.
Brooks' acting came close to sabotaging the final scenes, but overall, it worked. Farrell, Dorn (he can't really do anything well except Worf) and Meany were pretty abysmal though, Lofton was pretty bad too, but at least he didn't get a lot of stage time.
The only 4-star rating for this series with which I can agree.
Sun, Jan 16, 2011, 4:34am (UTC -5)
Tue, Feb 1, 2011, 6:35am (UTC -5)
Wow, that's a pretty crazy idea :P I doubt even those who rate this episode as 'excellent' would claim that!
Alexander then went on a long 'rant' about racism and educating people about it. I use quotes around 'rant' because it wasn't angry or sarcastic, but 'rant' was the only word I could think of.
Here's my take: Roddenberry created the show not long after the period shown in this episode. Perhaps 15 years. He included African Americans, Chinese, and women in senior ranks right from the very first episode. You may remember that in the first episode, the XO was a woman, but the network executives got Gene to change it to make Spock XO for the 2nd and all further episodes.
However, Roddenberry *never* made a fuss about the race-neutral approach of his casting. He made the point that 300 years in the future, racism would be completely non-existant, so it would be highly unrealistic for any of the scripts to make a big deal about the race of officers on the ship.
So, I think this episode is *completely* against the way Gene wanted to deal with the issue of discrimination in the Trek universe. This episode is incredibly heavy handed, unsubtle, and itself completely cliched in it's portrayal of the police, the newstand boy, women, petty criminals and so on. In fact, almost every single character is a pretty offensive caricature in some way.
So it really is pretty lame to try and present some kind of message about racism while insulting half a dozen other groups along the way.
Besides, the 'lesson' the story tries to teach us might have been appropriate in 1950 or 1970, but in 1990-whatever it's completely inappropriate. It's good to discuss discrimination issues but this thing does it so clumsily, its almost impossible to think about without laughing at it.
Second, Sisko's 'breakdown' at the end when he gets the sack is just weird and over-the-top. A black guy in the 1950s who had made it into the writing trade would be *so* used to being discriminated against, he would never even dream of putting a black guy in the captain's role in his story. If he did, he certainly wouldn't be surprised if it was rejected.
No, the various racist incidents shown build up such a level of stress in Sisko, I think it only makes sense if it's Sisko himself getting treated so badly, and being completely unused to *any* kind of racism, he would find it very difficult to deal with. But the Sisko we know wouldn't respond to this by breaking down like a baby. He would suck it up and either ignore it, or go and beat the crap out of everyone who treats him badly.
Finally, the ending where 'it was only a dream' is really stinky and as always, the audience feels completely cheated. It might have worked if they writers had somehow tied the prophets into the dream and it was their way of communicating with Sisko about something. But instead, it was just a completely pointless diversion.
I actually skipped this the first couple of times I watched the series, but watched it this time based largely on Jammer's high rating and positive review. I think honestly that he, and many others, had so much fun seeing the regular characters playing dress-up (or, in some cases, dress-down, as they are all without the usual prostheses) that they gave a lot more credit to the actual story than it deserved.
It *is* entertaining seeing Quark without the makeup, or Odo as a real person. I liked Shimerman as the nasty principle on Buffy; and those of you who are old enough will remember Rene Auberjonois as the stuck-up irritating PR guy on 'Benson' about a thousand years ago. So it was good fun to see them as their ordinary selves again.
But the story was crap, and as allegory about discrimination it was childish and too obvious to take seriously.
ps: Rene Auberjonois doesn't look like he's aged one day since Benson in the early 1980s. He was born in 1940, so when he filmed DS9 he was almost 60 years old. Pretty well preserved, I have to admit.
Wed, Feb 2, 2011, 6:08pm (UTC -5)
Other than racism is bad, I dont see a point to the episdoe at all. And really, did they need to use a sledgehammer to get the point across.
I personally consider this one of the worst episodes of DS9. The only that saves it, even slightly, is seeing the actors without their alien makeup.
Wed, Feb 23, 2011, 4:37pm (UTC -5)
"Besides, the 'lesson' the story tries to teach us might have been appropriate in 1950 or 1970, but in 1990-whatever it's completely inappropriate."
the episode took place in the 50s, so I dont see the problem...? They have the right to talk about racism for that time.
hell i even remember an episode whre they did roswell in the 40s. I think every decade has been shown in every trek except the 70s.
but then again best not to talk about discrimination or racism.
maybe roddenbery shouldnt have created Guardian of Forever, why talk about nazi's and stopping them... just too uncomfortable.
my only complaint with this episode when I was young was that it was not part of the "real" storyline, felt like a waste. but later seeing it, felt more interesting and true science ficitonish. reminds of what farscape would later do in Human Reaction, Wont Get fooled again, take your regulars and throw them in a nightmarish Earth situation, and show prejudices...but there was alot of truth in what happened to John's friends once they landed on earth (Rygel dissected, and rest captured)
this plot was relevant to the future storyline of DS9, it was foreshadowing of the despair that was to come to Sisko. lofton's death I think was a hint of Jadzia. the references to hope and despair go together, was to show Sisko what was coming for him.
Fri, Feb 25, 2011, 12:36pm (UTC -5)
maybe the DS9 writers should have changed the dream to have some characters in 'black face' and others in 'white face' make up. or better yet, some characters in 'half black'/'half white face' make up, and other characters in 'half white/half black face' make up. That would be nuanced true to trek.
since they didnt go that route, the route they did choose was probably the reason DS9 was heads above the other trek series.
Fri, Feb 25, 2011, 4:52pm (UTC -5)
Episode 70: Let That Be Your Last Battlefield. Check out the picture here:
(add the 'h' at the start of that address, this forum doesn't allow h ttp to be used for some reason)
These two races were locked in perpetual conflict because one of them was white on the left, but the other race had black on the left.
It was an incredibly heavy-handed didactic treatment of the race issue, so bad that it's laughable now. But I think in it's time, the general TV-watching public were actually seriously ignorant about such things and may well have needed the message shoved down their throats like that.
Either way, I wasn't even alive when that episode aired, so I'm in no position to make any judgement as to whether this story was too heavy-handed to be useful for it's audience at the time.
But for this episode of DS9, I was alive in 1998 and I stand by my opinion that it is too simplistic and obvious for the audience of 1998 when it was aired.
I realised much later in the series that this episode was the start of a critical story arc for Sisko, and mental breakdown here that I described as 'weird and over-the-top' is much better understood in the context of the later episode where Sisko is searching for the Emissary's orb and discovers the truth about his own origin.
But I still think this was a clumsy and artificial treatment of racism in the 1950s, and even as the first episode in the long-term arc it starts, I think it could have been done a lot better.
Fri, Feb 25, 2011, 5:04pm (UTC -5)
Somebody mentioned the Roswell episode. The point is, that was a time travel episode, which had a proper bearing on the DS9 universe. Equally with Trials and Tribbleations.
FBTS had NO bearing on the DS9 universe. It was basically an excuse to lecture its audience on racial politics. It had no meaning outside of itself and its own perceived self-importance. If you want to include race issues in DS9, then fine, but at least BOTHER to write a DS9 episode! Not this 'oh, it was all just a dream' rubbish!
Uggghhh. Just horrible. The worst episode of DS9 in my book, and not by a short measure.
Fri, Feb 25, 2011, 5:31pm (UTC -5)
The 1950s story and the incarceration in a mental hospital aren't particularly critical, but Sisko learning the truth about his origin certainly is. It's only after learning the truth about his mother that Sisko can completely give himself up to the job of being emissary, and not worry about nagging doubt from the rational atheist part of him that doesn't like supernatural explanations for anything.
Honestly, they could have easily done the whole story about him finding the Emissary orb and discovering his true origin, without ever having this 1950s story occur at all. But this episode, which seemd completely pointless at the time, does at least seem to have a reason for being written once you know the whole story.
Wed, Mar 2, 2011, 11:40pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 5, 2011, 4:51pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Apr 3, 2011, 7:04pm (UTC -5)
How do I know? Because I had one.
Someone claimed it was silly that a 1950s writer would breakdown after dealing with racism all his life. Nervous breakdowns aren't logical. And they are not subtle or small.
In all honesty, Brooks played it much smaller than he otherwise could have.
The entire scene makes me uncomfortable. It feels... almost voyeuristic, watching something so intense.
Wed, Apr 27, 2011, 6:40am (UTC -5)
Agree. The guy is having a breakdown! It is supposed to be extremely over the top. That's the whole point of it.
Mon, Oct 3, 2011, 12:37am (UTC -5)
Sun, Oct 23, 2011, 8:51am (UTC -5)
Tue, Dec 13, 2011, 3:10am (UTC -5)
It's boring and not Star Trek.
Fri, Dec 16, 2011, 5:25am (UTC -5)
This and its type are the very essence of Star Trek
Roddenberry has used Trek as a social commentary sence the start !
Dont like asians or Russians..to bad our show has thim as good guys! blacks? Ha! Our captan kisses one on screen...shocking I know..
Race color gender creed Trek has tryed to show social relevence sence the start
Sat, Jan 28, 2012, 5:52pm (UTC -5)
When I first saw this episode I was a child and I didn't get the overtones of meaning in this fantastic episode and at the time I just thought it was more heavy handed trek moralizing. *yawn*
These days after all the youtube videos of cops beating up on blacks, people getting rejected from jobs due to their names, extraordinary renditions and innocent people being held without trial etc I'm ashamed to be one of those people who wanted to sweep talk of racism under the rug and rated this episode a dud. I'm disgusted now by some of these commenters but I guess everyone grows up and sees things in a new light.
The whole point of this episode wasn't merely to be a "let's talk about racism in the 50's" but to highlight the power of racism to limit the expression of ideas and how it crushed men's souls and even the ability for others to dream of a better life, because that was its purpose. To deny blacks even the simple joy of dreaming of a better future and having hope.
The other main theme was the prophets trying to show Sisko, that even if he thought he was beaten by the dominion he was never beaten as severely as Bennie was his whole life, and still Bennie struggled to push on. This is telegraphed by the police officers who were savagely beating Sisko and alternately looking like 1950's and DS9 dominion characters while they're beating him up. It's just brilliant. Bennie rises from his beating and plods on, Sisko was considering quitting after the dominion's pummeling.
It's like the prophets are amused that Sisko is considering giving up when he has ancestors who have struggled far more to survive relentless oppression and dared to continue dreaming and striving to a better future, which he embodies as the black commander of DS9. (similar to Wilbur's comment)
The number of layers of meaning in this episode is just beautiful. I give it 5000 stars
Sat, Mar 24, 2012, 4:47am (UTC -5)
"Far Beyond the Stars" remains true to the primary reason why I love Ds9; it doesn't hold the punches. The episode is painful to watch because we as an audience are forced to live vicariously through Bennie. It is a visceral reminder of the recent norm we would like to forget. As for Avery Brooks over acting, I don't presume to know what it was like being black in the 1950s. Maybe that type of breakdown was not uncommon in a society that judged people of any color other than white as lesser beings.
Finally, I'd like to say that I think this episode had a positive message overall. As a society, we have progressed from the kind of institutionalized racism shown in the episode and although we are far from GR's vision, we are slowly but surely getting there. I think that by remembering the past, we can move forward towards GR's vision of equality with resolve as opposed to the acquiescent meandering could get caught in if we forget the past.
Sat, Mar 24, 2012, 5:16am (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 31, 2012, 1:00pm (UTC -5)
Except for that, it is fabulous.
And now with the killing of Trayvon Martin - guilty of buying candy and tea at night - and the bizarre lack of response - it sadly seems more relevant than ever. The breakdown of Avery Brooks at the end is justified - the stress caused by trigger-happy prejudice must be unbearable.
Tue, Apr 17, 2012, 5:26pm (UTC -5)
In other words, it's classic Trek. Possibly its finest hour.
Tue, Apr 24, 2012, 7:30am (UTC -5)
Gene knew if he fought the Network he could win one battle, but only one, and keep either Number One or Spock. He felt that the non-human character was more important to the show, so he fought to keep Spock. (Also feedback from test audiences shown the pilot revealed that not only did men generally dislike Number One, women generally disliked her too.) So he rolled Number One's logical personality into Spock's character and that's how we got the Vulcan we know today.
So... yeah the Network didn't want a woman as first officer, but they didn't want Spock either.
Thu, May 3, 2012, 4:11am (UTC -5)
Is this episode watchable? Yes. Does it ask "interesting" questions? Probably. Does it have anything to do with the entire premise of DS9? Not even remotely.
Yes, in the mid 20th century, being black in the US probably wasn't a very interesting proposition. But in the 24th century of Star Trek, it's a non-issue. It has absolutely no relevance to what's going on around DS9, other than "it's a dream to Sisko". Or was it a "vision from the profets"? If so, then wtf were they trying to tell him? I haven't got a clue.
When I first watched this episode, I remember wondering to myself halfway through when they will finally get to the point. There isn't any. The episode starts off with Sisko being desperate about lost friends, then we get a whole "dream" or "vision" about something not involving anything remotely related to that emotional pain, and then we get a payoff where Sisko is feeling magically cured of his desperation. I don't buy it.
It's interesting to see the regulars playing some other characters, I suppose, but ultimately, this episode adds nothing to the show in the way that some other episodes do. When we look at Season 7's "Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang", we also see our characters in semi-historical settings; but that one works much better for me, because it's actually *our characters*, not some throwaway characters that we see once and never after, which just happen to be played by our same regular actors.
Essentially, this episode just doesn't work for me.
Mon, May 28, 2012, 4:05pm (UTC -5)
"In 400 years, I hope we will have improved race and gender relations to the point that everyone can immediately accept people for who they are, rather than scrutinizing their ethnic background."
First thought: why 400 years? why not now? Discrimination based on arbitrary criteria should end today everywhere.
Second thought: why stop a race and gender? Discrimination based on species who are sentient is also wrong, and many non-human Earthlings have been shown to be sentient (certainly all mammals and birds and reptiles and marsupials, for example). The Federation does seem to for an end to speciesism (at least in the early TNG) but that value has lapsed by the time we get to Voyager and DS9, for some reason. A shame.
The correlation between discrimination against (and by) non-Terrans and current human discrimination against other Earthlings is a strong one that should be explored more. ST gives a lot of thought to machine rights; why not animal rights? There is a strong parallel with racism. I'm glad this episode explored at least that.
Mon, May 28, 2012, 4:17pm (UTC -5)
Mon, May 28, 2012, 6:09pm (UTC -5)
Paul, please show me some evidence that a Koala or a Gecko can question its own existence. There are at most 4 minimally sentient species on earth.
Sat, Jun 23, 2012, 12:37am (UTC -5)
Regarding the aspect of discrimination, I feel it went about this the wrong way. Trek episodes like this are best when they tackle modern problems. A black writer not being taken seriously is not really a modern problem with racism. I'd rather have seem something more relevant to the 90s...it was just too heavy-handed for me in this regard. Not that the racism of the time portrayed was handled poorly, though it was somewhat clichéd. I just thought "why are they talking about this?" while I watched it.
I also felt like the problems in this "dream" didn't match up all that well with what was going on in the present. Certainly not as something uplifting for Sisko. It was just kind of weird in this regard and felt forced.
Beyond that it was good, save for completing ignoring how Visitor's character also was generally getting screwed because she was female.
Wed, Jun 27, 2012, 9:23am (UTC -5)
I am not an American. I won't say we are free from discrimination where I live, but I will say that the problem is not quite as big as it is in America. As such, that part of this episode just fell flat for me.
It's not that the issue of racism in America doesn't interest me at all. In fact, just the other day an episode of Everybody hates Chris was on and I was discussing with a housemate how well its heavy commentary on discrimination in the United States worked. I don't now why that aspect didn't work for me in Far Beyond the Stars, but it just didn't.
Stripped of that part of the episode, you don't have much left, as this episode turns out to be rather thin. We have a decent story that is typical Trek: putting the characters in roles from a completely different setting. We have seen this many times and sometimes it was done to great effect and sometimes we had really poor episodes based on this same premise. Some examples of this premise that spring to mind are the countless holodeck episodes, Voyager's "11:59" (where we get to see Janeway's ancestor), The Next Generation's "The Inner Light" (where Picard gets to live out as a member of a forgotten species) and even The Paradise Syndrome from the original series (where Kirk gets to be an Native American In Space).
There is one thing that makes this episode stand out from any other in the franchise - the way we have a number of characters that usually wear lots of makeup now acting without any. While this is nice, it is no more than a gimmick. It can't carry the episode all on its own.
Admittedly, there is yet another thing that makes this episode stand out - however, that isn't in a positive way. That is how there basically how there isn't any resolution to this episode. We just have the captain waking up and deciding that it was all a dream - or maybe all the reality and normal DS9 is the dream. That is an interesting note (very Matrix-like) but an interesting note can't cover up the fact that they leave a hole in that it was nothing but a dream. Speculation about the involvement of the prophets in this may patch up some of this hole, but it still can't make for an effective resolution.
Another point that this brings up is how there is no explanation for the fact that all the other characters in the dream-world where actors from the actual show. One could theorize about the way they were used as templates for the new characters by either Sisko's mind or the prophets, but in my opinion, that makes it not much better. The problem is that it can't grow beyond a gimmick. Without any resolution as to why these are the same actors, it is a gimmick and not much more than that.
The execution of this episode it what makes it still a good episode. It doesn't give it the brilliance people for whom the discrimination part works see, but it does make it a good episode. The execution is truly great and that keeps this episode from being average and makes it a good episode. It also serves as an important factor in this episode being considered brilliant by so many people and it most definitely very good.
Wed, Jun 27, 2012, 10:22am (UTC -5)
To claim that this episode relied heavily on social commentary is profoundly narrow in thinking, devastatingly tragic in feeling and just plain wrong. As I said before, the racism commentary is an allegory set up, not for the audience per sæ, but for Sisko. Yes, we understand and believe it to be wrong in its social implications, but those times (as depicted here) are past. The impetus for the way people behave towards dreamers and artists like Benny have not vanished however. This is why having the characters portrayed by Sisko's familiars is so important and not just a "gimmick" as you say. That's why they briefly revert to their 24th-century selves in Sisko's view; it's not as though this is for the benefit of the audience playing a game of who's who.
I'd like to point out the VOY and TNG episodes you pointed to are also fantastic episodes of Trek--all different in their implications, but similar in method and in the level of thinking they demand from an audience.
To say the episode had no resolution is ridiculous. *Benny's* story may not be over, but Sisko has reïmagined his whole universe. He has been the architect of his own reality and seen the characters of his life as archetypes. As I said in a previous post, this kind of interaction with the prophets is exactly what this show needed. You can still have Sisko the Builder, Sisko the Captain and Sisko the God in one perfectly balanced character IF you treat the metaphysical with the kind of respect this episode does. If you write and produce beautifully, even Brooks' hyperventilating cannot sink an episode so great.
It's a tragedy that the wonderful way religion and myth was handled here was not touched upon earlier, would only be revisited once, and was and would be replaced by comic-book nonsense robbing any credulity to the depth of the prophets. But here, as a stand-alone, episode, is DS9's finest hour and among the pantheon of great hours of Trek.
Thu, Jun 28, 2012, 7:48am (UTC -5)
Thu, Jun 28, 2012, 9:48am (UTC -5)
I just asked a black guy in the office how he would describe himself and after he said, black with dark hair I asked him again and he described himself as a British Indian. That is obviously from India and not a Native American.
Asked another guy and he said he is a Muslim. So his religion defines him.
I can see on face value why it could be scene as offensive to some but to say it is racist is a bit wide of the mark.
Fri, Aug 17, 2012, 3:21pm (UTC -5)
Let's look at their record on this, shall we? TNG "The Outcast" - Riker falls in love with Soren, a member of an androgynous species. But of course the person playing this character is (quite clearly) a woman, and the character self-identifies as female. TNG "The Host" - Dr Crusher falls in love with a male Trill and there is a brief moment at the end, once the symbiont has been transferred to a female host, with a bit of speechifying about how this doesn't have to change their love. DS9 "Rejoined" - a lesbian relationship develops between Jadzia Dax and the new (female) host of a former love. But the relationship was originally heterosexual, and inevitably ends in their parting.
Even more shockingly, the bisexuality of the mirror-universe Major Kira is used to show how corrupt and decadent that universe is.
In this context, pontificating about racism from a very safe distance is risible when the very idea of portraying a gay male character sends the producers into a panic. If there's still a Star Trek franchise in thirty years, we can probably expect some grandstanding about gay rights/homophobia in an episode - it'll probably be safe for them by then.
Sun, Sep 9, 2012, 9:43am (UTC -5)
“According to thethe Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, everyone who worked on the episode felt that Brooks gave an Emmy award winning performance, and there was a great deal of disappointment amongst both cast and crew when he wasn't even nominated.”
HA HA HA HA HA. This has literly made me cry with laughter!!!
An Emmy winning performance!!! HA HA HA.... Maybe if there was a catogry for ‘most over the top performance in this history of television’... then he would be a dead cert!!
Seriously – was everyone who worked on this episode on mind altering drugs or something. How can ANYONE think this performance deserves an award. It is diabolical beyond belief.
Thanks to Mr Brooks though for giving me the best laugh I have had in ages.... “You cannot destroy an idea! That future, I created it, and it's real! Don't you understand? It is REAL! I created it and IT'S REAL!".... HA HA HA HA HA – unlike your acting mate which is the most unreal I have ever seen!!!!
Sun, Sep 9, 2012, 4:12pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Sep 9, 2012, 5:45pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Sep 9, 2012, 6:30pm (UTC -5)
Why is it when people disagree they have to revert to insults. Calling me a moron doesn’t change the fact they guy can’t act. Just because he is performing a breakdown doesn’t excuse the fact that he destroyed what could have been an excellent show with acting not out place in a school play!
Also, just for the record – and only using Trek examples – here are some breakdowns to compare it with:-
Jonathan Frakes: Frame Of Mind
Patrick Stuart: Chain of Command, Part II
Colm Meaney: Hard Time
hmmmmm – None of these performances are quiet and understated.... but they are all really well performed and believable?? How is that possible??.......Maybe because THEY CAN ACT!!!!!!
Mon, Sep 10, 2012, 3:45am (UTC -5)
My point stands.
Mon, Sep 10, 2012, 6:09am (UTC -5)
Ok - end of arguement - there is no point discussing the issue with someone who thinks a person would try and kill themsleves after 'getting emotional' and 'losing a bit of control'
You want to believe that Brook's acting was good that's fine. I am happy you are so easily pleased.
Mon, Sep 10, 2012, 10:33am (UTC -5)
Educate yourself if you wish to further to discussion.
Mon, Sep 10, 2012, 2:53pm (UTC -5)
Of course O'Brien was suffering a breakdown in Hard Time. The fact you are arguing he was not is beyond belief!!!
Please don't insult me any more though eh. You are simply embarassing yourself.
By the way over 10 people on this site have complained about Brook's overacting. I take it they are all 'morons' as well......
Mon, Sep 10, 2012, 3:17pm (UTC -5)
Actually - on refelection- lets just forget it shall we. You like his acting and I don't. We are both entitled to our opinions and both can't believe the others point of view.
We could go on at each other for weeks and at the end of the day we are arguing (in public) over an epsiode of DS9 over 10 years old!
When you look at it like that I think we have both been 'morons'!! OK mate???
Thu, Dec 6, 2012, 3:32am (UTC -5)
Odo looks naked (and mean...), Quark is cuter as a Ferengi, Jadzia Dax was hilarious! Kira was forgettable, Worf was "THAT WAS WORF??? wtf?",
Weyoun was lame, Gul Dukat was kinda 'cool/meh'. Jake was sad... Nog was funny! (did any of you catch Nog?) That was cool.
Sisko: "I'm having a bad whiny day, boo hoo."
Prophets: "Oh? You think it's bad now? Lemme drop you into your ancestral past! Ha ha!"
Sisko: (afterward) "I'm not whiny anymore... Also, I am Black Man! blah blah blah"
Sad thing is, this plot type is only socially acceptable with Black people.
Could you imagine a Ferengi having a bad day and getting zapped back to WW2 because the actor's Jewish? That wouldn't fly so good...
Or really, anybody, for *anything!* except being Black. Bashir to Right Now in Lebanon. O'Brien to the American railroads in the 1800s (or the Potato Famine, if he has to stay in Europe). Yick.
Or if it has to be a Captain: Janeway to a women's suffrage event.
It just doesn't WORK.
Tue, Dec 11, 2012, 10:05am (UTC -5)
I think what I felt was wrong with it was that I wasn't clear how this vision was the best way to perk Sisko up. I thought it was a good hour of television, and I actually LIKED the performances, but I just didn't get it in the context of the small bit of story that was being told on the station. I liked it, and seeing the actors turn in a different kind of performance was fun. The homage to early sci-fi was good and we shouldn't forget acceptable this kind of awful racism was in most of the country not long ago...
But I didn't get how being sent THIS vision would have solved the original problem Sisko had, yet it seemed to. I think I liked the followup in the early part of next season when the Pagh Wraiths sent the vision of him in the mental hospital better, because it seemed to more organically flow from the station story (ie taking the easy way out and denying the story would have been akin to taking the easy way out, covering up the orb and going back to the restaurant and not walking the hard path of the Sisko).
If anyone felt differently about this piece I'd love to hear your opinions and why. This disconnect is keeping me from seeing it as a 4 star episode.
Tue, Dec 11, 2012, 2:34pm (UTC -5)
According to Memory Alpha, the series finale might've revealed that the whole show was, in fact, based on Benny's story. Which might've been better than the finale we got.
Tue, Dec 11, 2012, 2:47pm (UTC -5)
Yes, I guess that's what I was saying. I just feel the framing was weak and hurts the episode somewhat. I like the idea of a war weary Sisko being sent a morale boosting vision by the prophets and I liked the 20th century story with our characters out of makeup but they didn't mesh well together like I felt they did in Shadows and Symbols next season (granted that was only a brief scene, but it felt really relevant to the 24th century story).
Sat, Feb 23, 2013, 11:33am (UTC -5)
It is incredibly saddening that a Star Trek fan can not have an open, peaceful, and effective dialogue. Obviously not picking up on what you're watching.
I also want to comment on Avery Brooks overacting, and if this was the only episode in which he does it there wouldn't be a problem. However, he does it throughout the entire series whenever he has to convey any emotion other than grim determination. It is especially noticeable in the first season, when they haven't discovered his inability to act.
This episode was a severe disappointment to me because of the complete ham-handed way they handled the "message" they were going for. Usually, with a racism message, it's Starfleet commenting on another culture that isn't as civilized as they are. That keeps it from being a big finger point at any group or society. This is important because everybody did racist / sexist nonsense throughout history. No group, no society, no ethnicity is clear of this.
This also has nothing to do with Star Trek. Typically a character remains in character and can view and comment on the culture objectively. We at least have someone we know along for the ride.
In this episode, it might as well have been a different show with the same actors. Any connections with Deep Space 9 were just to make some way to connect with the larger story so they can beat us over the head with their over-obvious message.
What's worse? The writers / creators for this show filled the Captain's seat specifically with someone who is black, just like they specifically filled Voyager's Captain with a female. There is no reason for it, as in the future everyone is the same and equal. There is no story reasoning behind making a character a certain race or sex.
ANY decision that you make that is specifically preferential to one race or sex IS racism. Voting for Obama because you like his policies is fine, voting for him because he is black is racist. Putting an actor in a role because you loved his performance is fine, doing it because he is black and that fills your quota is racist.
So I have a lot of trouble with them trying to force feed me a message when their own "color-blindness" is in question.
Terrible Episode, Terrible Acting. Best thing about it? It has absolutely nothing to do with the overarching story (The pah-wraiths attacking Sisko with visions about Benny was another bit of nonsense (there would be more effective ways to stop Sisko) and can be completely ignored as well). Feel free to skip. You will lose nothing.
Sat, Feb 23, 2013, 12:57pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 23, 2013, 11:06pm (UTC -5)
Now many years later I love the episode. I don't think anything changed. I didn't find any deeper meaning. I think I changed. I can now appreciate the need for a episode like this.
Wed, May 1, 2013, 6:26pm (UTC -5)
ANY decision that you make that is specifically preferential to one race or sex IS racism."
I always marvel at the faux political correctness jumping out of every corner these days, all the while betraying ulterior motives. Yes, Brooks and Mulgrew were probably picked for their roles because they are black and female, respectively. But guess what? Shatner and Stewart were ALSO picked because they were white males!
A vast majority of main characters on TV even today are white heterosexual males, and intentionally so. It's so "normal" and expected that most people, especially white heterosexual males, don't give it a second thought. But the moment a woman or a gay or, as seen here, an African American gets a high profile role, it's inevitable someone will come out with something borderline racist/misogynistic masquerading as poltically correct and progressive.
Thu, May 2, 2013, 12:05am (UTC -5)
But notice how, until this episode, Sisko was never written specifically as a brown man (as Avery Brooks prefers to be called). Paul M.'s comparison with Picard is apt: he was conceived as a Frenchman and, in early episodes, blatantly portrayed so. Less grating were casual allusions to Picard growing up in wine country. But when Sisko's heritage is highlighted once, all hell breaks loose.
Thu, May 2, 2013, 10:32am (UTC -5)
I maintain Sisko's (not Benny's) race is not an issue here and that this is DS9's best episode.
Thu, May 2, 2013, 7:00pm (UTC -5)
That said, it's a GOOD episode and I did like the ending with the reflection. But Brooks' TERRIBLE acting "It's in my MIND!" just kills a key scene. Also, the 20th century characters are just such stereostypes. O'Brien's character was somewhat interesting, I guess. But everybody else was straight out of a book of '50s characters stock characters.
Thu, May 2, 2013, 8:10pm (UTC -5)
Fri, May 3, 2013, 8:56am (UTC -5)
Sun, Jun 16, 2013, 2:39am (UTC -5)
Folks have mentioned Roddenberry's purposeful diverse cast. And I'm sure you've heard Martin Luther King's poignant response to Nichelle Nichols as she tried to leave the show. That BEING a black woman on the bridge of the Enterprise showed that one day race wouldn't matter. She stayed because the appearance of her character on the bridge gave hope to MLK and others that the future was now possible.
What Roddenberry never did was place a gay character on Star Trek. When I watch this episode I think about that. Not comparing my life to Bennie's. But I think about how writers make the future happen by getting you to think about it. To see a gay person and it be a non-issue would have signaled to all those gay kids that the future included them as acceptable folk. And it does. Roddenberry never traipsed down that road. He was also not a big fan of religion and found ways to dethrone it, demystify it, demyth it at every opportunity. DS9 explored it fully and Kira and Sisko are great examples of those who accept a faith without all the answers. And without the need to counter it with science.
The strength of this episode is in the power writing has to change the future. Roddenberry contributed to that dream and that reality. And as science fiction writers, or writers in general, we face the Douglases who say, "But it doesn't matter if you write it, it won't sell." Readers of science fiction don't want a gay protagonist. They can't identify with it, do let's make it a straight male to broaden the audience. Otherwise you'll be in the Queer Lit section. This episode gives the viewer a task to change history too. Bennie may not have been successful. But Gene was.
I too wished the plot line had been more seamlessly placed in the Dominion War arc. It seemed that someone took a cool episode and tried to make it match the arc, but with no consequence. But then there are baseball playing episodes that I think could be more relevant too.
By and large, this was a good episode about how society changes one idea at a time. Even Cassie might have been changed by Bennie's ideas if she realized that one day she could dream of a bigger future for herself. Heavy handed at times, the episode still inspires me.
Tue, Jul 9, 2013, 8:34pm (UTC -5)
a) It doesn't actually "happen", and I always dislike that in a sci-fi show, or any show really. One of Voyager's several flaws was the need to make an episode a dream, or a projection, or a pretend future reality, or whatever. It always has more meaning to me to see the actual characters IN continuity doing something.
b) Normally when Star Trek does the anti racism bit (other than the constant focus only on white on black racism and little other bigotries) they do it through the alien lens, an allegory or metaphor or whatever. It might be paper thin, but it's not literal. In this case however, it is literally "These white people are bad to these black people". It's a legitimate message, but it's not overly clever to just flat out say it like that, rather than make people "learn" it subconsciously.
Wed, Jul 10, 2013, 6:01pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jul 16, 2013, 4:02pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jul 16, 2013, 4:44pm (UTC -5)
I am always amused by the big it's inability to resist demonstrating homophobia with phrase like "crammed in our faces" or "shoved down our throats". Too perfect.
Tue, Jul 16, 2013, 4:46pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jul 17, 2013, 10:45am (UTC -5)
Sorry, being Gay is a lifestyle choice!
Wow, just wow.
Are you one of these people that think you can beat the gay out of people or that Gay people chose to be Gay?
Thu, Aug 1, 2013, 4:30pm (UTC -5)
Being gay is not the same as being black. You can choose to be gay, straight, or bi, or asexual like Godzilla. You can't really choose to be black. There is a big difference between race and gender preference for who you snuggle with at night.
Fri, Aug 2, 2013, 10:13am (UTC -5)
Fri, Aug 2, 2013, 10:53am (UTC -5)
Sat, Aug 3, 2013, 3:35pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Aug 3, 2013, 4:16pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Aug 4, 2013, 8:16pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Aug 8, 2013, 8:48pm (UTC -5)
My problem is that unlike "Royale" this ep takes itself extremely seriously. Star Trek crew... in earth's past.. taking itself seriously... yeah. TOS did that too I believe, and I disliked it there too.
Trek has dealt with racism fantastically in the past. To just dive into an extremely racist period and say "this is wrong." that's just too straightforward for me. Combine that with "it's a dream" and you have a really painful episode to sit through.
The message itself is great, acting is great, but I just don't like the thing.
Sun, Aug 11, 2013, 2:44am (UTC -5)
Congratulations on completely proving Sybok's point. You call him an idiot and a "hate spewing ass bag" but from my vantage point, you and others like you are the only people spouting intense hatred. You are a hypocrite.
In any case, I happen to agree with Sybok's position but even if I didn't, I would almost be forced to agree with him because those who oppose him (people like you) can't go through a single response without degenerating into ad hominem and strawman arguments.
I have no problem with people that choose homosexuality. You can have sex with whoever you want, I support that freedom. What I don't support is the blatant double standard wherein you can express your approval of the homosexual agenda but others cannot express their disapproval. Being black isn't a choice. You don't choose what color your skin is before you go to sleep, you -do- choose who you will sleep with.
"Far Beyond the Stars"
I hated it. It was terrible... and I believe it is tremendously overrated. The pacing was awkward and thus the episode tended to drag a lot (Not that I was surprised, the premise is wafer thin), the acting was extremely weak and amateur (Looking at you, Avery Brooks) and worse than everything else, it is not DS9, it's not even a Star Trek episode. Star Trek is meant to be science fiction, wherein the problems of today's society are highlighted within a different cultural context. "RACISM IS BAD" is something we already know and accept, a sledgehammer to the face with the words "racism sucks" is not a good way to promote acceptance.
I'd rank it very low, about 1.5 out of 4.
For the record, I am hispanic and come from a jewish family (Figure that one out), I know what it's like to be discriminated against, but making an episode about the Evil White People and the Poor Black Victim just reeks of lazy writing and lame storytelling.
That is my opinion on it.
Mon, Aug 12, 2013, 10:30am (UTC -5)
The idea that having one single gay character in Star Trek would mean promoting a "homosexual agenda" is a position I find bizarre. Some people are gay. Jerome's point that Star Trek showing a gay character could help the people in real life who *are gay* find better self-acceptance is valid and responding to that with the suggestion that gay people should only be on Glee and no one else should have to have the presentation that gay people exist shove down their throats *is* hostile to posters on the board who are gay, by saying that the mere existence of people who have things in common with them in a fictional universe is offensive.
And even if it's a "choice," well, it's a choice whether to drink coffee or Earl Grey, and somehow the Star Trek universe is big enough for both Janeway and Picard without promoting coffee or tea agendas.
Fri, Aug 16, 2013, 7:14am (UTC -5)
I'm slightly more open to the idea of acting on the situation being a choice, but really given the other options are a) live alone until death; or b) find a woman to lie to until death, I think that's a hit our society can absorb (especially since it's been absorbing that hit fine for thousands of years), I think we can manage to let them find some happiness before they die.
Maybe if your population is at critical levels I could buy coupling up for the good of mankind (like, a colony on the moon are the last humans alive and they're just barely replacing themselves each generation, *that* kind of critical). Beyond that, the sum negative of a gay person living a lie, lying to a partner who probably knows, and children born into a loveless marriage probably outweighs the positives of a slight population bump.
Sat, Aug 24, 2013, 12:57am (UTC -5)
Reading some of these comments, it seems like quite a few white people didn't like this episode. They didn't like being reminded of how white people were in the past. When they want to think of the past, they want to think of "Leave it to Beaver" and the all-American middle class family of the 50s. They don't want to think of the Benny Russel's of the past who lived in the same time period but experienced a much different life. I mean, people here literally complained that the white people were portrayed as bad in the episode. Are they trying to say that white people weren't racist in the 50s? And not all of the white people in the episode were racist anyway... All of the main crew (the other writers) weren't racist, even their boss (Odo) wasn't really racist or sexist. He did hire Benny and Kira's character. So personally, he's not racist, he's just not someone who's willing to fight the status quo.
And others are complaining that the racism wasn't subtle enough... Please, like racism is always subtle. Star Trek always went about disguising these issues with aliens and whatnot, but I'm glad they finally just went forward using a real HUMAN issue of the past (and present). You don't like that the episode dared to show that a black man's life in the 50s was hard and filled with injustice? How are you going to deal with the racism of the present if you're unwilling to acknowledge the racism of the past?
And then people are complaining about it not being a real "Star Trek" episode. There are plenty of derivative episodes out there that barely have anything to do with sci-fi. But people don't complain because at least the actor playing Quark is still dressed as a Ferengi. And this episode actually validates Star Trek and the future of the human race. Someone complained about the producers making the captain black. I'm glad they purposely made him black. There's no shame in that. People of all backgrounds should be able to have the same hopes and dreams for the future. Star Trek is about an equal future for everyone, it would be silly and hypocritical if there was never a Star Trek captain what wasn't a white man.
Lastly, I never understood why people hate on Brooks' acting. People say he "overacts," but I just see it as the kind of person Captain Sisko is. He has that kind of flare. He's not Picard, he has a sense of humor and can be very emotional (which means sad, happy, or angry). Picard rarely showed that much emotion, but that doesn't mean Sisko can't. Picard took quite a while to get worked up about things, but in a lot of episodes all it takes is a single instance for Sisko to start yelling his head off. I like that about his character though. So imo, Brooks isn't overacting, he's just being Benjamin Sisko.
Mon, Aug 26, 2013, 11:17am (UTC -5)
Too many of the characters are one dimensional. Dax's character, in particular, is annoying. Quark's character has no subtlety, either. The best supporting characters are O'Brien's and Jake's, and even they're not that good.
The Benny breakdown scene in this episode is really terrible. It's fine that Sisko is more emotive than Picard. It's not fine that Brooks often goes off the rails in those scenes. This isn't about writing -- it's about acting.
Tue, Aug 27, 2013, 11:24am (UTC -5)
In my eyes it’s an episode with many layers and messages, some more subtle than others – but all of them very well orchestrated!
As many others I was a bit disappointed that the message about racism was handled so ”in your face”. Usually, when Trek works best, I find it to be when the message is conveyed through a (more or less) subtle allegory. A lesson is often times best learned not when preached directly, but when it’s shown through mirrored example.
But then I realized … the main message in this episode is NOT about racism!
Sure, racism is the main vehicle used to power the plot and drive the point home – but, while one of the many messages of this episode, it’s NOT the main point!
To me, the main point is censorship and artistic control. Once I had that thought, all the pieces of the episode seemed to fall perfectly into place.
And what on Earth made me get that impression? Okay, bear with me here …
There are two end-of-episode speeches, one made by Benny as he has a breakdown, the other made by Sisko as he looks out the window of his office.
The point of Benny’s speech is, essentially: you cannot kill and idea! You can try to oppress it, but you can’t kill it. In context with the plot of the episode, this seems to mean that you can’t suppress the idea of freedom and of equal rights – but in the scene, Benny breaks down because he is being denied voicing his opinion, making his point. After all he’s been through, in the very end, he fails because the publisher Mr. Stone (the studio Paramount) didn’t think that his controversial message would prove popular by the readers (lower ratings). Douglas (the producers of DS9) is actually sympathetic to Benny’s (the writing crew’s) situation – but he HAS to defend the publisher’s (studio’s) decision and take the pragmatic standpoint.
In my eyes, the obvious theme driving the plot – racism – could just as well have been any other theme that made for a controversial topic in the setting the story provides. It could’ve been prisoners of war never receiving a trial (set in Guantanamo today), women being oppressed (Middle East today) or abortion (USA today) instead of racism in 1950’ies USA. The MAIN point, as voiced in Benny’s speech, would still have been the same: you can stop an opinion from being voiced, but can’t kill an idea.
Then there’s Sisko’s speech: what is real, the dream or the dreamer? Are both equally real?
This speech seems pretty out of place in relation to the main plot – if the main point of the plot was racism. How would this relate to racism?
The key to understanding what this last speech is really about, I believe, is found in the preacher that Benny encounters in the street. The preacher serves as an angel on Benny’s shoulder, telling him to do the right thing and sharing it’s wisdom in telling Benny to be cautious. It also tells him: “you are both the dream and the dreamer”.
So, according to the preacher, the dream and the dreamer is the same thing and equally important. And what is Benny? A dreamer, a writer. In my interpretation, Benny represents the writers of DS9 … and when Benny sees Sisko in the window and Sisko sees Benny in the window, they are basically the same. The fact that these two characters are “dreaming” about eachother means that the dreamer (writer) and the dream (the story) are part of eachother, dependant on eachother.
In the start if the episode, when Sisko complains about being beaten down again and again and is thinking of quitting, Sisko’s dad says: “well, you’re not irreplaceable”.
At the end, though, Sisko, seeing Benny as a reflection, comes to realize that this is EXACTLY what he is: irreplaceable.
In other words: the writers on the show aren’t just mindless machines that you can put coins into and then get to write a nice, neat package of a story that’ll please everyone. They are people with a voice, and their contribution to Trek is personal and important to them – they can’t just be replaced whenever the studio finds the stories to be to controversial to please everyone in the broad audience.
I get the distinct feeling that the writers of this episode are making a very personal statement to the studio – they are saying that it’s wrong for the studio to tell the writers what they can and can’t write, and it’s wrong for them to dictate what should and shouldn’t be included in the show. Furthermore, the writers are telling the studio that while the writers depend on the studio as employers, the studio’s product depends heavily on the work of the writers – they aren’t just dispensable drones.
Remember how the studio forced Worf on the show? Remember the rumble about the same sex kiss between Terry Farrell and Susanna Thompson in “Rejoined” – would you like to bet that this was cause for discussion between the studio and the writers?
I think it would be naïve to think that this kind of thing doesn’t happen all the time. There’s no doubt in my mind that very good ideas – and even fully written scripts – are frequently shot down because it “wouldn’t please the demographic and would cause lower ratings” – it just is what IS, you know?
I’m convinced “Far Beyond the Stars” was written to voice the frustration of the writers that they get censored and forced to make changes all the time, oppressing ideas that need to be brought up – and that the writers aren’t happy with the threats of being fired and replaced if they insist that their script is filmed in the original version.
Tue, Aug 27, 2013, 12:13pm (UTC -5)
"Star Trek always went about disguising these issues with aliens and whatnot, but I'm glad they finally just went forward using a real HUMAN issue of the past (and present)." - Nemo
Why bother with any "star trekking" then? Just bounce around between eras and have every episode literally around a social issue. And rename the show "Moral Trek" or maybe "Morality Dream" since they aren't trekking anywhere.
This show takes place in a fictional future - use it! Even the holodeck is better than a dream episode.
Fri, Aug 30, 2013, 6:06am (UTC -5)
Perfectly said, Nemo - I agree. Four stars for your comment.
Sun, Sep 1, 2013, 11:05pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Oct 9, 2013, 3:06pm (UTC -5)
What I don't like is how the "gay agenda folks" try to hijack things. Civil rights for African Americans is not the same thing as gay rights today. You can choose to be gay. It's a lifestyle choice. You don't choose your race. You can't change races. You can change sexual preference, or choose to have no sexual orientation at all. You cannot decide to be a Native American, or a Gorn. Gorns can be gay though I suppose.
Apples and oranges folks.
Thu, Oct 10, 2013, 5:21am (UTC -5)
Thu, Oct 10, 2013, 1:55pm (UTC -5)
I choose to be straight again this morning with my husband in the shower. What's it to you.
Thu, Oct 10, 2013, 7:14pm (UTC -5)
Ruin though it does the humour in Niall's post, allow to point out that the choice to have sex (thank you, by the by, for sharing) is not the same as having an inherent sexual attraction to a particular gender or genders. Although sexual orientation can only be demonstrated through action (unlike race), its inherence likewise does not depend upon its demonstrability. A person may be gay and have sex with the opposite gender, straight and have sex with the same gender or either (or bisexual/pansexual, etc) and have sex with no one! A gay "lifestyle" only describes one's action not his intrinsic nature. This becomes important when people lie to themselves or others by living a lifestyle that is in conflict with their nature. I don't sense that your attitude stems from purposeful bigotry, but the results are unfortunately the same.
Simply put, being gay is not a choice, gay sex is. The burden if proof is on you why a gay person should not engage in relationships which fulfil him or her as deeply as your relationship with your husband (presumably) fulfils you.
Fri, Oct 11, 2013, 4:53am (UTC -5)
I love Jammer's reviews and his superb writing and analysis (have done since the 90s), but there are certain rather depressing comment threads on this site - like this one and the "death penalty" debate under Repentance - that from an outside perspective just seem so uniquely... American. Seriously, the tone and content of some of the pro-death penalty comments on Repentance, and the comments by people who had a "problem" (let's put it that way) with Far Beyond The Stars, are just completely alien to most people in the rest of the developed world - it's like reading something from the 17th century. When I see someone churning out stock phrases like "lifestyle choice" and "gay agenda" which are characteristic of US extreme-right discourse (you know you've lost the argument when you aren't even bothering to try and analyse something for yourself but are merely regurgitating other people's buzzwords like memes), I pretty much instantly know the commenter is American and from a certain segment of the population.
The only "gay agenda" is "not to be invisible"/"not to have their existence whitewashed".
I can honestly see why some people think they chose their own (hetero)sexuality and why gay people thus choose theirs. After all, around 95% of kids who grow up thinking "I want to marry someone of the opposite gender and have kids" will indeed turn out to be heterosexual and thus be able to do so. However, I can tell you from people I've known that there are also plenty of kids who grow up with this same heterosexual family ideal who are devastated - absolutely devastated - when they come to realise they're not attracted to the opposite gender.
And as Elliott intimates, there are plenty of men and women of homosexual orientation who - all the more so in conservative societies - decide to suppress it, "choose" heterosexuality and marry someone of the opposite gender, have kids etc. This is the worst of all scenarios, for reasons I shouldn't need to elaborate. It very often has a devastating impact on the partner, the children and the person themselves. Living a lie is hugely damaging to yourself and all around you, and suppressing one's sexuality in the long-term is near-impossible.
Finally, regarding "you can choose to have no sexual orientation at all" - that's complete rubbish, and I think the fact you state it so authoritatively and self-evidently really shows up the absolute depth of your ignorance on any and all issues relating to sexuality. Being asexual - ie. having a lack of sexual drive or interest in sex - is extremely difficult and isolating in a sexual society where the norm is for people (straight or gay) to pair up. Asexual people commonly lose partners because of their lack of interest in sex - imagine being in a relationship with a man or woman who you really connect with and who you care deeply about, only for it to fail because they have a normal or high sex drive and you have little or none. Did these asexual people "choose" to have no sex drive, no sexual orientation or both? I think it's quite clear they didn't. A lot of asexual people would choose to be sexual if they could because it makes life a lot simpler and it's much easier to connect with society, connect with partners and fit in. But they can't. Some can go through the motions, some even enjoy sex (they just don't desire it or have a drive to have it), but you can't choose to have or not to have a sexual orientation.
Fri, Oct 11, 2013, 5:18am (UTC -5)
If you can sit through hundreds of episodes of Trek and come out pro-death penalty, anti-gay, and hate episodes like Far Beyond The Stars and Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang where race is a theme - in some cases passionately, judging by the sheer volume and vehemency of comments on this thread - you've been watching Star Trek wrong. Trek is about listening to others, thinking things through in a considered manner that brings in perspectives other than your own, and the desire to understand.
Fri, Oct 11, 2013, 7:56am (UTC -5)
If somebody is doing no harm then why not let them be happy and free to be themselves, exactly the same as everyone else? If it makes you uncomfortable, then that is your problem. Live and let live and judge people based on who they are as an individual.
Skin colour, sexual orientation, religion, background etc etc should all be about as important as whether you are right handed or left. The world would that little bit happier and better off if we all just let go of stupid prejudices.
Fri, Oct 11, 2013, 7:57am (UTC -5)
Sat, Oct 12, 2013, 10:20pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Oct 30, 2013, 10:20pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Mar 14, 2014, 6:43pm (UTC -5)
Another reason why I liked this was that Colm Meaney was definitely a parody of Asimov and his writings on robots :P (Well done by the way)
The racism in the story is poignant, but it adds a deeper layer of complexity, if they had done one of the ending for DS9 with it in mind (according to rumors, one of the scripts in the 90's was that at the end of "What you leave behind", they would shut down the set, then would phase off to an aged Benny Russell holding a script, Deep Space Nine. It would have been a beautiful note to give hope to Benny's dream of equality). Too bad the producers did not allow that ending.
Still a good episodde,
Sun, Mar 16, 2014, 5:27am (UTC -5)
Sun, Mar 16, 2014, 7:01am (UTC -5)
Fri, Apr 18, 2014, 3:05pm (UTC -5)
Now, I have never been a fan of the "issue" episodes, I have stated many times I love Sci-Fi for the Sci-Fi, not for BS political reasons, I don't need over-acting Avery Brooks to tell me racism is bad, or stupid face painting in TOS for that matter, or boring TNG season 7 to know polluting is bad. I look forward to getting back to real science fiction.
Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 3:40am (UTC -5)
Sun, May 4, 2014, 3:29pm (UTC -5)
I don't care to have present day political garbage thrown in my face by a sci-fi show, so I must agree with Nick P. to an extent.
Star Trek does contain political, societal, and humanitarian messages, but they are delivered with more class and intrigue than whatever this garbage is.
So far, worst episode of DS9.
Tue, May 6, 2014, 6:05pm (UTC -5)
Considering that, and all the things Bennie had to deal with, I didn't think Avery Brooks was overacting -- Bennie's situation was just that soul-crushing. In fact, I thought Brooks' acting sporadically sucked the first season (he slips in and out of an African accent in the first episode -- lol wut?), but I have to say I've grown accustomed to him and don't think he overacts, because I interpret Sisko as someone with dramatic mannerisms and thus it's part of the character to me.
Anyway, although, yes, this episode doesn't seem relevant to the show, from Bennie/Sisko's personal struggles to breaking the fourth wall at the end, it did what my favorite Star Trek episodes do: made me think.
Wed, May 7, 2014, 9:30pm (UTC -5)
Absolutely brilliant episode on all levels.
Wed, Jul 2, 2014, 11:03am (UTC -5)
Read the script. Seems to me like he played it as it on the page.
Mon, Aug 4, 2014, 10:06pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Aug 4, 2014, 10:17pm (UTC -5)
The writers in season 5-6 have really been awesome until this episode. Does this make me a racist ?
Fri, Aug 15, 2014, 6:42am (UTC -5)
Fri, Aug 15, 2014, 11:47am (UTC -5)
Fri, Aug 15, 2014, 1:07pm (UTC -5)
I too love this episode. It's my favourite of the series. But I thought part of what made it brilliant was that they *did* use an allegory, in classic Star Trek fashion, but "in reverse." The Benny Russel story is an allegory for Ben Sisko. So the idea of racism is, quite interestingly, used to give us a moral about Science Fiction. We aren't given a sci-fi situation that is meant to open our eyes to a modern social issue, we're given a pre-modern social issue to open our eyes to the power of science fiction, and Star Trek in particular.
"The episode reminded me a little bit of "Maelstrom" from BSG, which, like Ronald D. Moore's work here, was one of the few episodes from that series to successfully integrate the supernatural elements of show's universe into its story."
In full agreement here, although I think BSG succeeded in this regard more often than DS9.
"Knowing how many black youths are raised by single parents in America today (and at the time of DS9's original run) had a big effect on how moved I was by "The Visitor" and the importance it placed on the relationship between Jake and his father."
I have to say, that never occurred to me. I'll have to bear this in mind next time I watch the episode.
Fri, Aug 15, 2014, 1:19pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Aug 18, 2014, 9:55pm (UTC -5)
Elnis - Tue, Aug 27, 2013 - 11:24am (USA Central), very VERY interesting post. I can see those writers/producers/network meetings, ideas being suppressed, stories dropped etc. Especially WRT DS9 as many thought it was not "trek" (no Enterprise, etc)
Jammer, you made a comment about Avery's acting:
"I'll admit that I think Avery Brooks may have overacted his payoff scene a tad more than he needed to. It seemed a little uneasy upon first viewing. But when I watched it again, it seemed to work better."
I'd say that sums it up for me. I've been vocal here about my opinion of Avery's acting. Bluntly it isn't very good at times, cringe worthy - but it IS Avery and each time I watch this great show, I grow to accept Avery for what he is. My convention experience in 2010 helps as well. I got to see Avery just being himself and I can see allot of him in Sisko. That doesn't mean his acting gets any better, but it doesn't bother me as much as it once did.
So, on to this episode.
I enjoyed seeing all the actors out of their normal make-up. It was fun picking them all out. JohnG is most correct, not including Louise Fletcher in the ambulance was a sin :-) It was also a shame we didn't get Andrew Robinson and Max Grodénchik.
I think this episode would have been much better had it related to the DS9 story more. I can't see Benny breaking as any motivation to Sisko and his current self-doubt. The other "link" in Season 7's episode 'Shadows And Symbols' makes even less sense to me. Why can't Sisko open the Orb without Benny writing it? If the prophets gave Sisko this dream of Benny, and Sisko's destiny is to save the prophets, why would this dream crop up and keep him from fulfilling his destiny? Maybe I'm missing something.
As we have it, it is a "white males were bad" episode and that's not very comfortable for those that are white males and not racist. I'm not saying that this didn't happen in the 50's, it certainly did. I'm also not saying there aren't still problems today, there are. But as some have said, Kay is just kind of a forgotten afterthought and women suffered the same problems in the workforce. This might have been more effective if it addressed those issues more equally in the context of the story. Maybe work in some sort of Kay/Kira allegory or something that helps Sisko regain confidence in him.
Even after watching this episode multiple times, I don't see how the preacher's (Joe Sisko) "preaching" helps Benny at all. He's more mystical than anything else. So Joe goes from "I see. No one is indispensable, son. Not even you. Whatever decision you make, I'll support." to his unhelpful preaching in the dream, to "I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith." I'm not clear on how this all works together.
So I'll go 3 stars on this one. I think it fell short of its lofty goals.
Tue, Aug 19, 2014, 11:06am (UTC -5)
The prophets are sealed off when he gets that vision. It's from the Pagh Wraiths trying to convince him to abandon his role as the emissary.
Tue, Aug 19, 2014, 11:24am (UTC -5)
OK, lets say that is true. You are saying the Pagh Wraiths gave Sisko this dream? They wanted Benny in the physic ward? Seems a huge stretch to me.
Tue, Aug 19, 2014, 12:23pm (UTC -5)
From Memory Alpha
"The Benny Russell vision in this episode is sent to Sisko by the Pah-wraiths to divert him from his efforts to reopen the Wormhole; the previous vision, as seen in the episode "Far Beyond the Stars" was sent to him by the Prophets to help him get over the death of a close friend (Quentin Swofford). "
I actually felt the second vision worked MUCH better than the first in the context of the DS9 story. Trying to get Benny to give up his dream with promises of a new happier life if he just gave up was a really interesting dark twisted version of the original vision (which was clearly meant to make him NOT give up). I've never been 100% clear on how the first vision accomplished that, but I LOVE the Pagh Wraith's twisted version in S7.
Tue, Aug 19, 2014, 2:06pm (UTC -5)
Gonna have to do some digging later.
Sat, Sep 27, 2014, 1:58am (UTC -5)
+ actors in different roles
+ Odo and Quark *still* arguing
+ Martok with red paint on his shirt -- nice stand-in for blood
- Total lack of any relevance to the series
- No connection to any DS9 character -- even holosuite episodes at least have the DS9 characters in it.
- Brooks overacting
The social commentary aspect didn't really do anything for me. I *liked* the episode, it's fun to watch, but *4* stars? Nahhh. A solid 3.
Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 12:22am (UTC -5)
I won't begrudge anyone for being put off by some of the performances (I really could have done without Brock Peters' "preaching" myself), but, to me, this episode is just magic in spite of them.
What's really nice is how not only is Benny Russell's dream a reality within the story framing, but it's a reality because... well, it's reality. 40 years after Russell's struggle (and others like him), there is a science fiction show on TV in which Avery Brooks, Cirroc Lofton, Michael Dorn, and Penny Johnson are all the stars and on which they never have to deal with a contemporary racial spotlight. DS9 is frequently concerned with issues of race and xenophobia, so it's nice that, this once, they brought it back home.
4 stars cam barely contain this one.
Wed, Oct 29, 2014, 4:24am (UTC -5)
Mon, Dec 15, 2014, 2:39pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Feb 10, 2015, 4:22am (UTC -5)
Tue, Feb 10, 2015, 7:45am (UTC -5)
Also, liberals were not adamantly pro-racism and conservatives were warm and cuddly about unity. Social progressivism was just not linked to liberalism back in the day. That doesn't mean you couldn't be a liberal who was for equality any more than you couldn't be a conservative who was.
Furthermore you can be a conservative progressive now...
Wed, Feb 11, 2015, 1:01am (UTC -5)
I suppose liberalism doesn't have to refer to a political party or social progressivism but it traditionally is and TV media takes advantage of that. In the 50's democrats were the political party that pushed racist policies. The KKK forced people to vote democrat in the early 20th century.
Since the turn of this century (@ 2000), TV media has persistently done what it can to divide this country along political lines by consistently associating conservativism with shady morality, including racism. (Watching the show Crossing Jordan on Netflix is what turned me on to this phenomenon). Radio tends to do the same with liberalism. I realize that Star Trek doesn't necessarily fall into this category but it is decidedly "progressive" and it annoys me that sometimes they misrepresent conservativism; especially in later shows (after 2000).
Yes... I am aware of being a conservative progressive. In some ways I consider myself one.
Wed, Feb 11, 2015, 8:58am (UTC -5)
You aren't the only one. I'm a gay guy who mostly votes Libertarian with the occasional vote for a non-bigoted Republican. I'd say politically I'm very much fiscal conservative, but socially I'm pretty liberal.
Anyways, I'm not sure that I'd agree with that assessment about Ds9. In retrospect, the way the war was presented wasn't too different from the American Sniper portrayal of the Gulf War: The reasoning for the war evaporates when the realities of it are brought to light.
I came away from that movie with much the same conclusion as DS9 brought: the people who make the decisions to go to war are idiots, and the people who have to go to battle (for the most part) are respectably giving their all. Winning a war comes down to success of a million individuals (sometimes bending the rules), rather than a "army of one".
DS9 also did a great job of showing how the motivations behind war are generally petty and based on the attacker's fears more than anything. Did anyone really think that the Changelings basing their military decisions on the type of biology someone has to be anything other than a childish form of bigotry?
I guess my point is that while I'm pretty conservative, I didn't find DS9 to be "too liberal" or whatever.
Wed, Feb 11, 2015, 9:44am (UTC -5)
"TV media has persistently done what it can to divide this country along political lines by consistently associating conservativism with shady morality, including racism."
While I do agree with you, I think in some ways it's necessary. Hollywood doesn't really have a bone to pick in politics left or right, except that Hollywood is progressive socially and right now that means liberal.
What I'm hoping is that someday the "liberal media propaganda machine" will make being what we consider today to be a "social conservative" so embarrasing that I'll actually be able to pick candidates based on their merit and not simply picking the guy that isn't a backwards neanderthal on gay marriage, anti-science, separation of church and state, etc.
I guess what I mean is that conservative politicians have sort of done this to themselves by casting their lots with the religious right. It's kind of an unholy alliance that doesn't belong together (and as recently as Reagan and Nixon wasn't together). Which I suppose brings us to your rather correct point. That far back what we consider to be "socially conservative" was not what conservatives were about.
Wed, Feb 11, 2015, 9:45am (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 11, 2015, 11:33am (UTC -5)
Sigh . . . I hope Hillary has already decided on how she's going to decorate the Oval Office. Now's the time to get that kind of stuff out of the way.
Wed, Feb 11, 2015, 12:08pm (UTC -5)
The Republicans worst move was not fighting the civil war. They should have let the Tea Party go. It would have been detrimental short term to "split the party", but they really need to cleanse the crazy.
Wed, Feb 11, 2015, 4:30pm (UTC -5)
I think it'll take at least one more beating in the general election (and another few liberals appointed to the Supreme Court) before the Republicans realize how ridiculous it is to hand over the reins of power to a ever-shrinking close-minded subset of the population.
I'm hoping that in ten years a lot of this religious bigotry will be in the rear-view mirror and we can get focused on our atrocious deficits before it's too late.
Thu, Feb 12, 2015, 6:45am (UTC -5)
A fiscal conservative who is not beholden to the religious right nor to the idea that wealth distribution in all forms is bad would probably be the best President we've had in a long time. I don't care which party evolves such a person.
Not to get too political but I think Obama was sadly the right person but the wrong time. In the beginning he was so concerned with being bi-partisan that if the Republicans were able too I think they would have been able to make good law together WITH the other side. He was willing to accept so much comprimise back in the day to get stuff done, but nobody wanted to comprimise with him.
Now both parties are more partisan than ever and the next President is less likely to try to reach across the aisle. It's a sad state. And maybe, going back to Independent's post, it has a lot to do with the media dividing us.
Thu, Feb 12, 2015, 4:07pm (UTC -5)
Got some news for you, Dave... the whole of Europe is heading back right (who do far less damage than socialists), and it won't be long until US follows suit. So get ready for it ;)
Thu, Feb 12, 2015, 5:27pm (UTC -5)
to which dlpb responded : "There goes Dave in NC again... classic liberal."
There really is no accounting for this degree of insanity.
Thu, Feb 12, 2015, 5:31pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 12, 2015, 7:26pm (UTC -5)
Are you smoking crack?
Let me make this plain for you: the federal government is on a collision course with bankruptcy. Congress and the President are unwilling to take corrective action. All of our spending is out of control, both social and military.
Our rights are trampled upon by the Patriot Act and laws lagging behind scientific advancement (such as drones and that can see through walls). Laws can now be used to force me to buy a private product (health insurance) whether I want to or not.
The free enterprise system is burdened by an overly complex tax code/tariff system.
Eminent domain can now be used by foreign companies to force people to leave their homes.
I could go on and on, but there is little that would connect me to a classic "liberal" agenda other than an interpretation of individual freedoms that happens to include such "leftist" ideas as the right to marry who one chooses and ending the ridiculous "War on Pot".
Seriously, dlpb, you straight up talk out of your ass. Stick to trashing Star Trek: that's about the only subject that you seem halfway knowledgeable about.
Thu, Feb 12, 2015, 9:21pm (UTC -5)
I got a little hot under the collar . . . I really should be jaded and cynical enough not to let some troll get under my skin.
I'll try to keep it classy in the future, I promise. :)
Fri, Feb 13, 2015, 7:41am (UTC -5)
It's nice when somebody admits that. Conservatives always want to talk about out of control spending... but only on the things liberals like to spend on.
Fri, Feb 13, 2015, 3:25pm (UTC -5)
I had a hard time liking this episode. Didn't like it on original viewing 20 years ago, and struggled to get into it again today. I usually enjoy Trek's social commentary, but I want the social commentary to fit into the plot of the episode or the series or even the character.
This was an episode directly about mid-20th century racism in America (and indirectly about racism in our present time as well), which works for me. I found most of the dream scenes compelling and interesting. And I loved the very hyper-meta-SciFi nature of it where it's essentially 20th century SciFi writers creating a Star Trek TV episode about a 24th century Starfleet captain who dreams about 20th century SciFi writers creating a story about a 24th century Starfleet captain
BUT, what the heck did any of that have to do with Capt Sisko or his plight? I found myself continuously getting pulled out of the story trying to wrap my head around what any of Benny Russell's life had to do with DS9, Sisko, or the episode.
Sisko is stressed out. He just lost another close friend (along with so many others) as a casualty to war. He is so pained by the accumulation of recent events of the war that he feels like quitting the service. And so to help him cope with his traumatic loss and the depressing realities of war he has a vision about.....20th century Earth/American racism? WTF?!
DS9 is a wonderfully complex show that regularly touches on important social matters of racism, sexism, general prejudice--and even some of the more general philosophical "dream vs. reality" concepts--through the prism of this futuristic fictional universe. There are at least a dozen different ways they could've built even a flimsy plot around this episode (perhaps an orb experience) so that the racism in Benny's life equated to some prejudice or challenge actually going on in the 24th century.
Honestly, I think even NO plot could've been better. Just start the episode with Avery Brooks as Benny Russell, end in the ambulance, and have the entire episode exist just as a stand alone commentary on Trek itself rather than try to portray it as something that supposedly has any bearing on Sisko or the Dominion War.
But in the end, Sisko re-commits himself to Starfleet...because something? Plot maybe? Perhaps contractual obligation with the corporeal beings at Paramount Studios?
I know that when I'm totally fed up with my job, contemplating my resignation, and the stresses of life become so overwhelming that I suffer severe medical trauma, hallucinating about a guy losing his marbles in the midst of 17th century prejudice and societal injustice totally gives me the renewed strength I need to......suck it up and go back to work on Monday.
Great SciFi story. Imaginative concept. Wonderful performances. Insightful commentary. But a terrible episode where the middle of the story has absolutely nothing to do with the beginning or the end of the story, and where all of the powerful lessons about prejudice and intolerance are completely useless to the character who is supposedly dreaming about them.
Mon, Feb 16, 2015, 9:58am (UTC -5)
Mon, Feb 23, 2015, 1:53pm (UTC -5)
Brian S. - "WTF" aye. I thought the same thing during this episode. It just doesn't make sense.
"But in the end, Sisko re-commits himself to Starfleet...because something? Plot maybe? Perhaps contractual obligation with the corporeal beings at Paramount Studios?"
lol ... perfect.
MsV - Politics is a big part of DS9. (it's actually prevalent throughout all trek) Your insight makes Avery's performance more palatable. Thanks. Your opinion of his acting throughout the series is just that, your opinion though :-)
Thu, Mar 5, 2015, 8:45am (UTC -5)
Thu, Apr 2, 2015, 4:37am (UTC -5)
Sun, May 3, 2015, 1:52pm (UTC -5)
It's a logical move to explore racism in this show and I wish they had taken on the challenge even earlier to get a better connection, maybe draw parallels between human historical racism to how the characters perceive one another. We know bajorans have prejudices against Cardassians, vice versa too.
Racism is not dead in fiction or factual universe (replace a human ethnic or skin tone group with an alien like Klingon, Cardassian, or Bajoran, same difference).
For those who say Star Trek was made to rise above such issues, look no further than to Gene Roddenberry's TOS with overt racial commentary as well, (think of the anger and resentment of the Officer in the classic episode "Balance of Terror" against Spock over the Romulan connection to the Vulcans) or something simpler like the part comedic DS9 "Take me out to the Holosuite", which reverse the racial prejudices.
A better ending to this show might have been a common peace reached between everyone and an end to interstellar prejudice (Bajoran vs. Cardassians, Solids vs. Founders, and so on).
Alas, the episode opens doors the writers did not go down, perhaps TV can only reflect our own society up to the point of contention, because we as a society have not solved our own racial issues, merely hide it beneath political correctness and gentler language.
Wed, May 20, 2015, 11:58pm (UTC -5)
Wed, May 27, 2015, 8:19am (UTC -5)
Wed, May 27, 2015, 8:50am (UTC -5)
The fight for acceptance and equality might be different across different fights but Star Trek has always tried to be ahead of the curve.
The fact that nobody batted an eye when Dax wanted to be with a woman, that the J'naii were a metaphor for the struggles of gay people or that Guinan described love to Lal as "when two people love each other" were all evidence of the fact that Star Trek wants to show a future of acceptance.
It does an honor to Gene's legacy... the legacy of a man who had television's first interracial kiss. And actually now the fight for gay rights is even MORE like the fight for racial equality as conservatives turn to laws that allow open discrimination against gay people to make up for the fact that they ::peeks into the orb of prophecy and change:: lost the fight for gay marriage next month.
The truth Sybok, is that Star Trek is about IDIC. And fighting for acceptance and tolerance of the infinite combinations of the human condition make take different forms, but it's all the same. The fight for equality. The fight for tolerance. Even if you believe (rather incorrectly, but it's not important) that being gay is choice (and I hope you've revised your position since the last time you've chimed in) it shouldn't matter. If you've truly watched a decent chunk of Star Trek... enough to call yourself a fan and you don't believe in IDIC... well, I just don't know why you enjoy it. I'm sorry to say that the message and the vision may have gone over your head. If you cannot love gay people for what makes them different and what makes them the same the same way you love black people for their differences and what makes them the same... you just don't get it. And I feel sorry for you.
Fri, May 29, 2015, 10:48am (UTC -5)
Interesting, I didn't think "IDIC" had anything to do with redefining marriage.
It's also puzzling that "IDIC" doesn't apply to a group that obviously doesn't agree with an institution that doesn't include them. They demand that institution redefine itself to include a behavior which they don't condone, or agree with, all in an effort to force inclusion in that organization and acceptance by it's members. Why doesn't "IDIC" apply to them? Why should they be allowed to impose their choices on others? Why aren't they more inclusive and respect others' views/values?
Can't have that when tax breaks are involved now can we.
To say this "quest for equality" from the LBGT community is anywhere on par with the civil rights movement for people of color is laughable and wishful thinking. All people under our constitution have the same rights. Jim Crow laws were unconstitutional and stupid as they intruded on individual rights. Marriage is not and never will be a right.
But that's OK, Obamacare was not a tax either.
What I don't like is "IDIC" getting thrown around every time someone with a cause has a gripe. "The combination of a number of things to make existence worthwhile" doesn't mean no rules or guidelines or that every organization must include everyone all the time. It' means one is at peace with themselves and understands that their place in the universe is significant. "We've each learned to be delighted with what we are" Kirk said. He didn't say "We've learned to make others love us".
Fri, May 29, 2015, 12:38pm (UTC -5)
Fri, May 29, 2015, 12:42pm (UTC -5)
First of all, marriage does not at this time hold a single definition and has changed in meaning countless times in history. The most traditional and typical definition of marriage would be a man selling his underage daughter to another man so the other man can make babies. Those babies would be either "people" [men] who could go on buying and selling their sisters [not people]. The traditional definitions of marriage hinged on the inequality between the sexes. As soon as marriage became about the union of two people on equal terms, the gender divide became meaningless.
Justice Roberts himself (no liberal thinker he) has framed the argument for marriage equality in terms of gender discrimination, which it is. If our society deems discrimination based on gender as immoral and/or unconstitutional, then prohibiting people from marrying whom they choose based on their gender is equally immoral and/or unconstitutional. It's that simple.
Fri, May 29, 2015, 2:20pm (UTC -5)
Yanks: "Marriage is not and never will be a right."
Simplest way to deny rights to others is to deny that they are rights at all. How supremely convenient.
Sat, May 30, 2015, 12:51pm (UTC -5)
Elliot, I am aware of the history of marriage. It has evolved over time, we all know that. But my personal opinion is that it has "evolved" to far.
It's not that simple, really. I choose to question Judge Roberts motives, especially after he alone decided that the penalties in the ACA were a tax. That wasn't even argued in it's defense.
Judges and public officials will now be required to recognize as a marriage any sexually Intimate bond between two people who want to call themselves married. Which means that there will no longer be any basis for distinguishing legally between a heterosexual union and a homosexual relationship. Which means henceforth that there will be no legal basis for restrictions against a homosexual couple obtaining children in any way they choose, for such restrictions would constitute discrimination. And it will mean that when a mature mother and son, or father and daughter, or trio or quartet of partners come to the courts or to the marriage-license bureau to ask that their sexually active relationship be recognized as marriage, there will be no legal grounds of a non-arbitrary kind to reject the requests. Because if it is now arbitrary and unjust to recognize heterosexual marriage as something exclusive and different from homosexual relationships, then it will be arbitrary and unjust not to grant the request of other partners to call their sexually intimate and enduring relationships marriage.
Now, no line can be drawn. You can't make an argument against any union now. Watch, it's coming. Someday I'm sure "legal age" will cme under attack. I can see 'age discrimination' being used. All it takes is enough money.
This worries me.
Grumpy, the easiest way to convince someone they are being denied something is to call it a right.
No need for a "fight" folks. It's funny how IDIC has evolved from a trinket Nimoy didn't want - to a few lines in script - to what has been accepted as the guiding principle of trek and future humanity.
But hey, this episode didn't make any sense either, but because it depicted racism, it's a good episode.
Sat, May 30, 2015, 2:22pm (UTC -5)
First of all, that this episode "depicted racism" is about as relevant to its greatness as time travel is to City on the Edge.
Second, you're right about marriage evolving both until now and continuing hereafter. Things change. That's how the Universe works. You think it's evolved "too far," which is okay for you to believe I suppose, but that arbitrary standard is no means to inhibit the rights and privileges of your fellow citizens.
If homosexual (or later poly-sexual, pansexual, non-sexual) unions make you uncomfortable, that's your business, but please don't inflict your personal issues on legislation which permit me full participation in our society. Thank you.
Sat, May 30, 2015, 9:48pm (UTC -5)
By all means, have equal rights, but don't start changing entire foundations to appease the few. Also, I am really not sure why gay people feel the need to have marriage in a church... you;d think that they'd be the last people to step into a place that openly condemns their behaviour (I don't condemn it), but I guess it's just another way to create trouble and find something to be offended at.
Sat, May 30, 2015, 10:02pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jun 1, 2015, 7:08am (UTC -5)
Children have the right to be protected and posthumously I have the right to my corpse being treated with respect. I'm not sure what you mean by underage rights (which are kind of a mess). Underage kids have a defacto right to have sex with each other barring a large age gap because technically they both committed the same crime and neither parent would (likely) be willing to have them both put on the sex offender registry...
"But we are doing so on the basis of what is good vs what is bad, what is harmful vs what is not, and we SHOULD be doing it on the basis of what the electorate WANT."
I don't know that our founding fathers would agree with you. If the electorate wanted to remove an unalienable right... should they be allowed to? But comparing gay sex to any form of sex where CONSENT can not be given is disingenuous for the purpose of provoking shock. You should be able to do better than that...
Mon, Jun 1, 2015, 7:09am (UTC -5)
I will also say that the fact that you think the entire CONCEPT of marriage changes when you let gay people do it is the thing that is pathetic.
Mon, Jun 1, 2015, 7:11am (UTC -5)
Mon, Jun 1, 2015, 7:33am (UTC -5)
"All people under our constitution have the same rights. Jim Crow laws were unconstitutional and stupid as they intruded on individual rights. Marriage is not and never will be a right."
Conservatives would like to make laws saying that 2 people can walk into a bakery, ask to purchase a pre-made cake and have a simple message written on it and be turned down service because of who they are... and you don't see parallels to Jim Crow? You are letting your personal feelings blind you.
And as for IDIC... it's pretty obvious that even if Gene made the trinket as a money grab (which he did) that the philosophy behind it is part of his vision. And it's not just about being at peace with yourself. It's about appreciating diversity in all it's forms. That does NOT mean no rules or limit. And in fact if you read my post I didn't even invoke IDIC in support of gay marriage, I invoked IDIC in support against the current slew of discrimination laws.
And lastly.... slippery slope? Really. I hope you feel proud of yourself Yanks that your post is nearly indistinguishable from dlpbs. We'll have no issue winning at the SCOTUS if that's the best the right can do. There will never be legal marriage between one who can consent and one who cannot. And our current research on brain development leans towards kids showing really, really poor judgement LONGER than we thought.
As for polygamy and incest... well... they have very, very different issues. Polygamy in it's current form is really bad for women and in it's ideal form would be ridiculously messy from a legal perspective. Note to dlpb - THAT would be redefining the concept of marriage? Who gets to decide to pull the plug if your spouse is on life support? How do we deal with taxes? Child support? It's a nightmare. I'm not against it in theory or morally, but contemplating how to hash that mess out is beyond my pay grade.
And incest is traditionally disallowed because of genetic diversity and because it makes us feel squicky. I really don't expect a large number of people to be interested in this, but who knows?
Either way... I can assure you that a slippery slope will never involve giving a child to someone who cannot consent. That particular thing does NOT lie at the bottom of this slope.
Tue, Jun 2, 2015, 12:35am (UTC -5)
The point was for it to get under your skin-- it worked.
Tue, Jun 2, 2015, 6:12am (UTC -5)
Tue, Jun 2, 2015, 6:17am (UTC -5)
Tue, Jun 2, 2015, 6:29am (UTC -5)
A MUCH larger % of the population supports gay marriage than supported integration or interracial marriage. That is not an opinion.
As to the referendum... I'd actually like to see it to. If it gets 50.00001% of the vote nationally we'd have gay marriage. If it doesn't we'd roll back to state level results. Make the election day a special election and a national day off. Bring as much of the electorate to the polls as possible (something conservatives who espouse "democracy" really don't like doing). I think we'd win.
Tue, Jun 2, 2015, 6:41am (UTC -5)
I never said it wasn't being redefined. I said the CONCEPT was not being redefined. It is not automatically true that every time the definition of something changes that the concept also changes.
"Pretty soon the forms will omit "husband" "wife""
I'm not sure why that would be a problem. Semantics don't really rock the core concept.
"churches will prosecuted for refusing weddings"
If it's worth anything to you, I personally hope not. My preference is for the government and the church to have a competition in regards to staying out of each other's business.
Note - I don't think that should apply to individuals exactly. I actually think a cake maker/artist should be able to refuse a commission for a custom piece they don't wish to produce but I don't think anyone should be turned down from asking a business to provide a "typical" service (ie going in and per-purchasing an existing cake/figurines/names written on it). If somebody wants to buy 2 of the little groom statues to go on their premade/standard cake you should not be able to refuse them service. If somebody wants to commission a place like cake boss to make a rainbow cake with 2 grooms kissing on the top... I'd say that's discretionary. You can't make people create art.
Just pointing out that if you're worried about the slippery slope the way to fix it is to be more reasonable. If you can join forces with a more center leaning liberal (like me) then you might get to stop the slope. Instead the far left has the run of this because conservatives refuse to participate except to troll the process.
Tue, Jun 2, 2015, 7:46pm (UTC -5)
Robert. As I wrote, now -- the line can not be drawn. It's really as simple as that. Take YOUR emotion out of it and read it.
It really makes no difference to me one way or another, but what DOES concern me (as I wrote) is how can we draw any line now? I gave examples... they can't be refuted. You now can make no argument to refute any of the "marriages" I cited.
I don't care who my posts "sound like" dlpb is correct, whether you care to see it or not.
You can define IDIC however you see fit. Seems like the in thing now-a-days. Hell, like I said, the ACA wasn't even written like a tax.
Hey, why doesn't we get Bruce... I mean Caitlyn Jenner to moderate!!! Wouldn't that be a frakin hoot! :-)
Tue, Jun 2, 2015, 8:49pm (UTC -5)
I'm not sure why that would be a problem. Semantics don't really rock the core concept.
OH YES THEY DO. Words have power, and words make up meaning. That's precisely why the Left like changing meanings, because it undermines the thing they are trying to undermine. I suggest Nineteen Eighty-Four by Orwell, he actually predicts this.
Wed, Jun 3, 2015, 8:42pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Jun 5, 2015, 6:53am (UTC -5)
I propose that the concept of marriage is a union between 2 people and the genders are the details, not the concept. Obviously if the gender was the core concept of what a LEGAL marriage is, then those words would have the power to rock the concept. A legal marriage is 2 people combining their finances and living arrangements. It's not about children or any of the other things the right wants it to be about, since we give separate tax breaks for kids and we let old people marry.
I'd even be willing to say that it's possible RELIGIOUS marriage has gender as part of the core concept, but legal marriage? Legal marriage is a pretty way to say a contract between 2 people. Anyone wanting it to be more than that is being emotional.
As to Yanks -
"It really makes no difference to me one way or another, but what DOES concern me (as I wrote) is how can we draw any line now? I gave examples... they can't be refuted. You now can make no argument to refute any of the "marriages" I cited."
I did refute them. You cannot have a relationship with someone who cannot consent to the relationship. Corpses and children cannot consent. Animals cannot consent. You may come close to having a point on polygamy, but it's the only point I can grant you. Those relationships are not problematic because there's something wrong with a 12 year old marrying a 22 year old, those relationships are problematic because the 12 year old can't even consent to BEING with the 22 year old to being with!! Your argument fails that we're on a slippery slope to those kinds of marriages because we disallow those kinds of RELATIONSHIPS already and nobody is changing that.
Fri, Jul 3, 2015, 8:21am (UTC -5)
It's like watching an someone whine incessantly about how he grew up as the runt in a mildly dysfunctional family while the next room over has a guy who survived a childhood of 2nd degree burns in a severely abusive home and nobody cares.
Uhura is Bantu. Geordi's from freaking Somalia. Sisko is from New Orleans.
Now compare how much fun it was to live in 1950s Bantu-speaking areas or Somalia versus 1950s New York or New Orleans. (or ya know, 2015 right now. "Do ya wanna live in New Orleans or Dar es Salaam?" kinda depends on how much money you make individually, but "Do you wanna live in New Orleans or Mogadishu... pick New Orleans.)
There are parts of current USA racism that are horrific, and there's huge parts of Africa that are really, really awesome. But bringing up "US Racism Bad!" when you have Happy Somailan (SOMALIAN!) Geordi and Totally Chill Bantu Uhura is cringeworthy. 1 mention once? Fine. Giant meta weird crap all centered around you personally? Very very VERY not fine. It's so America-centric it misses the point and ruins the effect.
Studying this also generated a funny pet peeve: Xhosa is hosa, not "zhosa". I accidentally "correct" it every single time.
Fri, Jul 3, 2015, 11:18pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jul 5, 2015, 4:03pm (UTC -5)
Sisko's highly personalized vision-story is presumably about US racism because he *is* from New Orleans. I don't really see the problem.
Sat, Nov 28, 2015, 6:40pm (UTC -5)
Much is made of the Prophets in this one, but if this is another of Sisko's visions (or even a flashback to a previous life), what is its relevance to the story of DS9? Why do Sisko and the audience need to see this? It's a thought-provoking diversion, but plot-wise it has no payoff other than Sisko resolving to fulfill his role, and who doubted that he would? What the writers really wanted to talk about was 1950s racism in writing and general society. They (and Avery Brooks especially) wanted to make a statement. DS9's loyal viewing audience ensured that it would be seen, and they gambled--successfully--on the emotional impact it would leave on 1990s audiences. If it fails to leave that impact, the entire episode begins to collapse.
Obviously it left that impact on some viewers more than others. Did it impact me? Yes, but only to a point. I care a lot about social issues, but at the end of the day I'm still watching this for entertainment. If this episode had more relevance to the world of DS9 itself, I might call it great. As it is, Brian S' criticisms above are completely (and devastatingly) accurate. Ambitious but flawed.
Fri, Dec 11, 2015, 3:57pm (UTC -5)
Yet Sisko is the only Star Trek lead character that didn't start his show as a captain. Not saying it was an intentional racist move on anyone in the productions part, just odd when you think that the four white leads we've had, yes even the woman, were all captains from the beginning, but Sisko had to wait 3 seasons. In unniverse I agree, Sisko was never the "black captain" and believe his race (or that of being "black" in general) was only ever brought up the Benny Russell stories and that Vic Fontaine holodeck heist episode.
For what its worth, although at times it seemed that Janeway was written make clear that she was strong/smart despite being woman, instead of her being strong/smart simply for being a Starfleet captain, the only time I can recall her gender being an issue (apart from romance of course, only Trills and mirror universe characters get to be bi or lesbians) was when she was dealing with the Kazon, especially Maje Cullah, who had no respect for her due to her being female and even slapped her in "Basics"
Sat, Jan 23, 2016, 9:13am (UTC -5)
We're in the final stages of the series in the middle of a war, and most of Season 6 has been concerned with love affairs (Worf, Jadzia and Kira) and trips to 20th century earth. Later on we have Quark dressing up as a woman.
I think DS9 really should have been in full swing by this stage, but it still seems that the war is an afterthought except for a few episodes at the end and beginning of each season. I hate to bring up Babylon 5 but it's such a good comparison because by its penultimate season where there was also a war each episode was building upon the one before it in serial mode, with no detours and diversions like the one we have here.
I feel that DS9 really suffered from the way it was produced, with standalone episodes probably written years ago breaking the flow of an arching story that was well conceived but planned too roughly to maintain dramatic consistency. Watching the show on DVD really brings this home.
Mon, Jan 25, 2016, 12:56pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 3, 2016, 4:03pm (UTC -5)
But I have great sympathy with those that suggest that this story sits uncomfortably within the format of DS9. Yes, it is a sensitive and powerful examination of racism. But how is that relevant to our 24th century crew? It seems like it's meant to be relevant to us, the viewer, and that the series is acting as the vehicle for that. Tonally it just doesn't seem right in the 'in universe' context.
All in all I'd say a great television show - but not a great DS9 episode. 2.5 stars.
Mon, Feb 29, 2016, 9:19pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Mar 7, 2016, 8:26pm (UTC -5)
B5 had its inconsistent season 5, so no one is perfect. Also, Crusade was basically Star Trek without a point despite the need to find "a cure".
DS9 had its share of issues, I'll grant you, but it also has its share of high hopes and dark turns. "In the Pale Moonlight" is still the darkest piece of Science fiction in a serial drama with massive ramifications. Babylon 5, Stargate, nor even Battlestar Galactica succeeded in these stakes of bringing a neutral nation into a war by use of assassination, treachery, and malicious intent. DS9 went where no Science fiction show was willing to go (Babylone 5 did break the rules too with "Severed Dreams" but as an action of Civil disobedience and rebellion for a just cause.)
As for racism, it's not a dead issue, Donald Trump in 2016 has proven his point that Racial intolerance is still alive in the United States and we as Americans are still haunted by the ghosts of "Dixie".
Tue, Mar 8, 2016, 11:16am (UTC -5)
"It really makes no difference to me one way or another, but what DOES concern me (as I wrote) is how can we draw any line now? I gave examples... they can't be refuted. You now can make no argument to refute any of the "marriages" I cited."
I did refute them. You cannot have a relationship with someone who cannot consent to the relationship. Corpses and children cannot consent. Animals cannot consent. You may come close to having a point on polygamy, but it's the only point I can grant you. Those relationships are not problematic because there's something wrong with a 12 year old marrying a 22 year old, those relationships are problematic because the 12 year old can't even consent to BEING with the 22 year old to being with!! Your argument fails that we're on a slippery slope to those kinds of marriages because we disallow those kinds of RELATIONSHIPS already and nobody is changing that. "
Robert..... I never said anything about the dead or animals and also didn't say anything about a 12 year old and a 22 year old. I DID say that age could now come under fire because of "age discrimination" (after all, it is a law) and DID mention that a mother and a daughter (of legal age....) could also complain they aren't being treated equally under the law. Give me one reason they should be allowed to be married? ... a law? ... someone drew a line? Remember, we can't do that.
Polygamy is a foregone conclusion... multiple wives are a comin...
Tue, Mar 8, 2016, 1:09pm (UTC -5)
You are correct, YOU did not say anything about animals or corpses, and I do apologize if it sounded like everything I said was directed at you specifically. Your argument is more about what 2 CONSENTING individuals can now (or in the future do) than trying to pretend that this opens a Pandoras Box of people marrying their sheep.
That said most legal precedent that prevents minors from signing most contracts would have to be undone LOOOOOONG before age discrimination could kick in here. Minors are legally considered only slightly more competent than animals when it comes to being able to consent to things and a whole lot of that would have to change. It's just not possible. By all legal definition of what a minor can/cannot consent to a marriage contract signed by a minor could be annulled or possibly just torn up at any time. You wouldn't even need a divorce.... And more scientific evidence points to minors having even worse judgement than previously considered.
I'll play the other half of the coin though. I honestly have little to no problem with polygamy in theory, but in practice it's very difficult. Because of existing child based/married tax and welfare laws the amount of work that would need to be done is more than I personally want to think about. It'd probably be good for the government on the whole to work this out because as it is 2nd and 3rd wives can basically function as though they are single, unsupported mothers who need to be on welfare. For me this is more a technical problem than a moral one... if people want to enter into such an arrangement why should I personally care?
Incest, especially parent/child incest, is harder because of the really, really complex nature of parent/child relationships and the possibility of genetic defects paired with such inbreeding (though evidence now suggests that sibling inbreeding isn't genetically as bad as we once thought).
So 3 questions.
1) Is a slippery slope ever a good reason to not do something? Should we not discover warp drive because somebody might use it as a weapon (to use an example)?
2) Do you have an actual logical reason why gay marriage isn't ok beyond the slippery slope? If I told you the line would be drawn here, this far, and no further ( :P ) would you have issue? If so, why?
3) Do you have a good reason "in theory" why Polygamy is bad? In practice I think it's more often than not really, really flawed, but I personally have a hard time coming up with a theory argument against it.
Wed, Mar 9, 2016, 10:05am (UTC -5)
So 3 questions.
1) Is a slippery slope ever a good reason to not do something? Should we not discover warp drive because somebody might use it as a weapon (to use an example)?
Don't understand the "slippery slope" analogy here.
2) Do you have an actual logical reason why gay marriage isn't ok beyond the slippery slope? If I told you the line would be drawn here, this far, and no further ( :P ) would you have issue? If so, why?
I've already stated my case. It doesn't affect me at all. I have gay friends, I work with gay folks, no problems. I think it poses two REAL problems. 70+% of the country and a bi-partisan congressional majority voted to identify marriage as between one man and one woman. That applies to everyone. If you desire not to participate in that, then "start your own club". I have no problem if someone else wants to start their own club, I have a problem with someone not in my club telling me what my rules have to be. Marriage (along with tons of other laws) is not and never will be a right. The SC got it wrong. I support civil unions with the same legal/tax benefits as a married couple.
3) Do you have a good reason "in theory" why Polygamy is bad? In practice I think it's more often than not really, really flawed, but I personally have a hard time coming up with a theory argument against it.
Not an expert by any stretch, but this seems to some up some problems:
Modern marriage has always been about the children. So what happens? A small group of folks that can't reproduce naturally somehow HAVE to be able to marry (or the world is going to end or something). But like all the big government liberals say, who needs the family anymore anyways when Uncle Sam can raise your children better?
But like I said earlier, Obamacare wasn't a tax either until the Supreme Court got a hold of it.
Who cares anymore... the insane are running the asylum.
Wed, Mar 9, 2016, 11:15am (UTC -5)
Additionally, separate but equal has never and will never work. It is a fact that it didn't work with civil unions. If you are unfamiliar with how, then I suggest you educate yourself a bit rather than go on being idealistic and ignorant.
And marriage in no way is about the children. This argument is laughable.
You are a bit that rationalizes by saying that you are friends with gay people. Yet, you are woefully ignorant about reality and the formation of this country.
Wed, Mar 9, 2016, 11:18am (UTC -5)
Don't understand the "slippery slope" analogy here. "
Should we not do something good (in this case allow gay people freedom to marry or create anti-matter space drives) because someone might take it too far (marrying their son or making an anti-matter bomb. It was just a bit of theorizing that "what somebody might do with it" is a good reason to not do something.
To use a better example... in my state there's a law on the books that prevented my wife and I from getting a blood test to determine our baby's gender. She carries a genetic mutation that doesn't affect girls and so we wanted to get an amnio if and only if the baby was a boy (because amnios are not 100% riskless). We were not allowed because they are afraid people will use this test to abort based on sex. So we couldn't use technology for a practical and useful purpose because somebody was afraid of a slippery slope. In general I'm not a fan of slippery slope arguments being good reasons to not do something good. If you think THIS thing is bad, sure... go ahead.... argue it. But argue the next thing if/when it comes.
2) On the one hand the states rights/majority argument makes a lot of sense. On the other hand I tend to be dismissive of any argument that also was a really good argument for keeping segregation going. That was a lot of people "out of the majority's club" changing the rules on them. You might argue that getting married is not a right in the same way that getting a quality education or voting is... but I think that in the long run the fact that a majority wants something left alone is not always a good reason to do so.
For what it's worth I think the country might be served from people "making their own club". I think we might be too different to be one country anymore. I don't mean you and me "we", just the country as a whole.
"Who cares anymore... the insane are running the asylum. "
I won't say anything more detailed on the election but considering a socialist and Donald Trump took Michigan yesterday, you may have a point.
Wed, Mar 9, 2016, 11:25am (UTC -5)
While modern marriage has moved away from being solely about children (otherwise sterile and old people should not be allowed to marry or have the tax benefits from marrying) and involved things like inheritance, being able to make care decisions, being able to be on each other's insurance, etc. I think to say that it is in "no way" about children may be a bit disingenuous as well.
Civil Unions (like most separate but equal) things, fell woefully short of what marriage offers. That said, I think for people like Yanks, children is why gay marriage is bad. I have a feeling that it has more to do with the fact that it normalizes things like gay adoption than that it allows gay people to inherit 401ks properly. But that's just my guess.
Wed, Mar 9, 2016, 11:50am (UTC -5)
What the federal government was essentially doing was giving out special rights to married couples, then defining what marriage is. That sounds all well and good, except the effect was discrimination against people married under different kind of marriage without a rational reason for it.
There are in fact areas of the Constitution (equal protection clause in the 14th amendment) that protects US citizens from being discriminating against without a compelling government interest. Since the government was discriminating without rational reason, they couldn't justify their discrimination and thus were acting unconstitutionally.
Sat, May 28, 2016, 4:12am (UTC -5)
Issue #1: Some actors simply should not direct themselves. While Avery Brooks does a splendid job with the technical details of the episode (the sets, costumes, lighting, etc. all look fantastic!), there REALLY needed to be some else in authority to reign in his acting. "Brooks may have overacted his payoff scene a tad more than he needed to."? Damn, Jammer! Over-the-top does not even begin to describe his performance at the climactic moment of the episode. It's bad!! I mean, REALLY BAD!! Seriously, did the man just decide to literally eat the entire sound stage or something? Because that is quite possibly the most egregious example of scenery chewing I have ever seen in my life - and I've seen a lot of Nicholas Cage movies, so that's saying something!
Issue #2: If you're going to condemn a character as a racist, make sure he actually is one. The Pabst character is absolutely presented to us as a racist by the episode. And yet, I honestly don't think he is one. Sure, he might be a moral coward who isn't willing to stand up for what is right, but he's not a racist. This is the guy who employs Benny and goes out of his way to help him get his story published eventually. When the Albert character suggests making the first story a dream, Pabst is right on board with it. He even takes the revised story to the printing press and has it included in the magazine, despite the fact that the hero is a black man. If he were such a racist, why would he do this? And then there's the scene where he has to fire Benny. Watch that scene and then tell me that this person is standing there with glee in his heart as he fires Benny. No, instead he can't even make eye contact with Benny, he's so distraught at what he has to do - his facial language alone gets that point across. If he was such a racist, why would he be so distraught at this? Wouldn't he instead be happy that he gets to dehumanize the man he only sees as a "n*****" (a word I'm not shying away from using since the episode itself uses it)? There is a racist in this story, but it's not Pabst. It's the unseen publisher who pulps the entire run of the magazine against the wishes of Pabst. But instead, Pabst is the one we're supposed to condemn. Um, okay then.
Issue #3: Was 1950s America racist or not? The episode seems hellbent on saying that American society at large was abominably racist (and sexist) at this time. Cops harass a black man over the slightest provocation, like a picture of a space station (I doubt that would ever actually happen). They beat the living hell out of Benny for little reason (sure Benny threw the first punch but their reaction is massive over-the-top). White society won't even accept a highly accomplished black professional baseball player as an equal. And yet, the episode also wants us to believe that if it is known that a black man and a woman write for this magazine, that nothing all that outrageous will happen. When Pabst speculates on Benny's story possibly causing a riot, it is instantly dismissed as "the most imbecilic attempt to rationalize personal cowardice" by the Herb character. Well, if they live in such a violently racist society, isn't the possibly of a riot at least a possibility? Pick one guys! Either the society is completely racist or it isn't.
Issue #4: If you are going to portray an actual historical period, at least attempt to portray it accurately. Yes, racism was a problem in the 1950s. But it wasn't the monolithic culture-wide phenomenon that is portrayed here. The 1950s as depicted by "Far Beyond the Stars" is a society of cultural stagnation and white-bread, "Stepford Wives" style conformity. In truth, the 1950s laid the groundwork for the social upheavals of the following decade. This was the era that saw the beginning of school desegregation, for crying out loud! Kinsey was publishing his analysis of sexuality during this period. Elvis Presley (gyrating hips and all) was already shaking up the pop culture. Murray Rothbard was in the process of writing his tomes on economics, which would radically affect that discipline. The portrayal of science fiction's Golden Age is especially absurd. To say that nobody would have published Benny's story - even with the "it was all a dream" device - is to commit a massive over-simplification. Robert A. Heinlein's "Starship Troopers", for example, had a Filipino main character, and it was published in the 50s. The comic that apparently expired this episode, which SFDebris covers in depth in his review, had a black main character - and lo and behold.... it was published, and without the dream device. Again, I know that racism was a problem at this time. But surely there was room for some kind of nuance, wasn't there?
Issue #5: Who exactly was the intended audience for this episode? We Trek fans tend to be a pretty solidly non-racist demographic; I think we can all agree on that. However, by this point in the franchise, with the ratings falling precipitously, who besides people who were already Trek fans were going to watch this episode? This doesn't exactly strike me as an episode that is intended to reach out to the wider television audience and draw them into the show. When is the last time you heard a non-Trek fan, or even a lukewarm fan, list "Far Beyond the Stars" as one of the franchise's premier episodes? I'm left with the distinct impression that the writers and producers honestly think that us Trek fans are the most vile, racist pigs imaginable - people who have to be constantly reminded that "Racism is BAD" [TM] - especially given how many times this theme comes up in Trek. I get it, okay? Racism is bad, that's why I'm not a racist!
Issue #6: Even though it is never once stated directly in the episode, I'm assuming that all of this was a vision sent to Sisko by the Prophets. My only question in this regard is simple.... why? What was the point of this vision? What lesson or truth were the Prophets attempting to teach or impart to Sisko here? Fight the good fight? I would think Sisko already knew that. Were they trying to give him some moral stamina in his hour of questioning and doubt? If that's the case we're left with the problem that Sisko's depression in this episode literally comes out of nowhere. Not once since the war started his he shown any sign of tiring of the fight. Just two episodes ago, in "Waltz", he was rock-solidly (diamond hard, in fact) determined to keep Dukat from harming Bajor; but now he's contemplating just giving up on that and retiring? It's just a convenient way of setting up the message of the episode.
Issue #7: "But I have begun to wonder. What if it wasn't a dream? What if this life we're leading, all of this - you and me, everything - what if all of this is the illusion?".... all said by Brooks while he stares directly into the camera. Jesus, real subtle there, guys! Break that fourth wall a little harder next time; I think you left a few bricks standing.
Well, if I haven't lost you yet by being heavily critical of yet another fan-beloved episode, let me say this. I do not disagree with the message; racism is indeed bad. Who does disagree with that in this day and age (or for that matter in 1998) - aside from actual Ku Klux Klan members (and how many of them are actually still left, 36?, 80% of whom are FBI informants?). Like I said, I don't dislike this episode; I just wish Trek would stop using such two-by-four-to-the-skull tactics in getting this message across. Like with similar Message Episodes, like "The Outcast" or "Rejoined", I'll give "Far Beyond the Stars" a similar score because the powers that be definitely had their hearts in the right place, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired.
Sat, May 28, 2016, 9:40am (UTC -5)
I love this episode so I wanted to say a few words in its defense. The irony, of course, is that I like DS9 season six's other episodes less than you do, for the most part. But anyway:
1. I don't mind Brooks here, though I don't like his over-the-top performances elsewhere...but I don't particularly mind this.
2. What makes you think the episode is saying Pabst is a racist rather than a coward? I'm honestly curious on this point. Pabst is played by Rene Auberjonois. The actual villains of the piece are the cops, played by Alaimo and Combs (and to an extent Biggs in "Shadows and Symbols"). Auberjonois' role here means that he is seen as being akin to Odo in some way, from Sisko's perspective. The key traits are (as Peter G. has mentioned elsewhere) that Pabst likes order, and I think that Odo's link to Sisko's current enemies -- "his people," as Odo often refers to the Founders, are the ones who are threatening Sisko's way of life -- hence why Benny can't help but see Pabst as part of the machine that his grinding him down. Odo of course also worked for the Cardassians. Pabst's role here is ultimately to be an apologist for the Establishment, in this case the publisher who refuses to publish Sisko's story (on the station, for working with the Cardassians and having ties and sympathies for Sisko's major enemy), partly due to a sometimes misplaced need for order. To the extent that Benny's confrontation with Pabst is what triggers the end of the episode, I think we are meant to see it as the final straw; Pabst finds Benny's behaviour worrying because it is disorderly. Pabst is only "racist" insofar as he is unwilling to admit how much he is failing to recognize how much Benny stands to gain by shaking up the establishment, and how much he has to lose in not doing so, which means that he comes closest to the read of Odo in, say, "Things Past," where Thrax-but-really-Odo argues that the Bajorans should accept their place in history and stop making waves.
3. I'm a white man. I would not be surprised if I got beat up for throwing a punch at a police officer today. My white mother had run-ins with the police in her youth which got pretty rough, and she is not all that strong. I'm not saying all police respond disproportionately, but it happens; the issue here is that the police were racist enough to pick on Benny in the first place. Michael Dorn's baseball player is treated worse than white baseball players, but nothing outrageous is happening because he is playing. The magazine makes a point of hiding Benny's race and Nana Visitor's character's sex, but there is no law against them working for a magazine -- except hiding who is working for them clearly indicates that they fear that the magazine will lose sales or fold entirely if it was known who was working for them.
As far as the point about riots, I thought the implication was that Pabst was suggesting that having a black character in a story would cause black people to riot, suddenly realizing the possibilities. Black riots were, you know, a big fear. This is what Shimerman's character finds disingenuous. But even there, the point that Shimerman's character is making is that to hide behind "this could stir up trouble" (read: cause disorder) is cowardly because it is failing to acknowledge that the trouble is already there, and the story would just bring a tiny bit of the difficulties to light.
4. I don't think we need to see the portrayal within this episode as implying this is the experience for all individuals, everywhere. But fair enough, some more nuance could always be useful.
5. If someone was convinced to stop being racist by this episode, I certainly am happy that happened. However I don't think that's the episode's intent. First of all, Marc Scott Zicree is a SF enthusiast, and particularly a television SF enthusiast (he wrote a definitive book on The Twilight Zone), and partly this is a reflection on a period in SF. One can say that the episode failed to evoke that time properly, but it certainly attempted to and it was something of a love letter to the time. Further, it is a reflection on the Star Trek mythos. How often do people discuss what it meant to have Uhura on the bridge of the Enterprise, a decade after this episode takes place? It is about the possibility of sci-fi to change the world. But it is also a sort of apology; even a decade after this episode, Uhura had to be "snuck in" (as both woman and black person) in a role that would read to the audience as something like a secretary, even though it's obviously in-universe a more significant and high-ranking position. The first and only episode where Uhura is in command is in an animated series episode later in the 70's where the men all fall under a spell (I forget the name). The highly-touted interracial kiss was forced by alien telepaths. It's about the possibility of SF to change the world, and Star Trek's history of doing so, but it's also about the difficulty of actually committing to that.
Mostly, I see it as being about how sci-fi and imagination can change one individual's life. In a society which is personally oppressive to him, Benny finds his writing inspires him. It has a surface tragic ending, but it's only the surface; even if Benny is taken away to an institution, as long as he believes in the possibility of a better future, which he creates, he can continue to find meaning in a difficult, rocky existence. It is about how fiction about the future can help create that future. Racism is important to the story in terms of finding a very specific, personal grounding for what kind of oppression Benny is dealing with, and it's obviously one that is important to the cast and crew as well as to Trek's history.
I think it strikes a balance between the obviously self-congratulatory tone of many Trek meta-episodes (like Voyager's "Muse," WHICH I VERY MUCH LIKE, which presents the "one play can change the world!" thing without too much irony) while acknowledging the reality that Trek was sometimes a little more the type of publication that Pabst would do -- well-intentioned, but too safe and unable to make waves. And it says that ultimately what is important is how the art inspires the individual rather than the whole society, and that the change to the society comes about through changes in the individual.
6. I too find Sisko's initial depression a little forced, though SPOILER it does help set up his coming to the breaking point in "Tears of the Prophets." Anyway I mostly agree on the point that the initial set-up doesn't work.
However, "you are the dreamer and the dream," a line which was also used in the "Birthright" dream sequence with Data, is an important message for the Prophets to convey. I am actually not very happy with *most* Prophet appearances and most messages which they convey, but this is a kind of spiritual message that I can understand. When Sisko gets visions that tell him the location of B'hala, one must either take it as an overt miracle, overtly a function of alien workings that is not really analogous to anything on Earth, or to view it very abstractly as how "divine inspiration" can be a sort of creative engine that allows one to gain new insights...but it's very, very specific an insight. In this case, the key insight is that Sisko is his own creator; he can choose his fate, because he *is* the person who has created himself. The oppression that Sisko is experiencing is very different from the kind that Benny is experiencing, but he can be inspired by Benny's fighting against those who would squash his creativity, AND be inspired by Benny being inspired by Sisko. By closely identifying with a figure from the past, Sisko also can see more clearly that things can change and get better in a visceral, rather than abstract, way.
This is something that IMO the art conveys better than I can express it, and I apologize for my limitations, but: it is, in many ways, easier to write a hero than to behave as one. And yet the elements that make up behaving as a hero and writing one have a lot in common. Living well is the ultimate creative act -- and so Sisko has to step back and see "Benny," another version of himself, as the author of his own life, in order to be able to withstand it and continue living it, despite the trials behind him and before him. There is a codependency between the two layers -- Benny needs Sisko and Sisko needs Benny for strength -- and Benny's possibly "pointless" struggle becomes the model for Sisko's struggle just as Sisko's was a model for Benny's.
7. Did he look into the camera? Certainly he saw Benny in the reflection. Heh. OK, so not exactly the subtlest of moments, but I'd argue very important to emphasize what the real message of the episode is -- and it is *not* "racism is bad," but how Benny's endurance against racism through the creation of Sisko allows Sisko to see himself differently, how art and life are interrelated.
Sat, May 28, 2016, 10:31pm (UTC -5)
"1. I don't mind Brooks here, though I don't like his over-the-top performances elsewhere...but I don't particularly mind this."
I'm about the exact opposite. I can stand his over-the-top performances, in fact I think they're very in keeping with his character. But this.... this was just unbearable. I honestly find it hard to watch. Not only is it horrible acting, it also completely destroys the climax of the episode - dragging down what should have been a very emotional scene into utter lunacy. A better way to play Benny's breakdown would have been to take a lesson from none other than William Shatner himself (another man known for his tendency to chew the scenery). In "The Search for Spock", when Kirk is informed that David is dead he also has a breakdown, but it's a subdued and nuanced one - he stumbles back, loses his footing and then begins to cry. This.... this is just outlandish.
"2. What makes you think the episode is saying Pabst is a racist rather than a coward?"
I think it's pretty clear that we're supposed to see Pabst as a racist. Even Jammer agrees, calling him a "covert racist". Yes, it's true that the cops played by Alaimo and Combs are more villainous, but it's Pabst who Benny has to struggle against more often. In fact, for most of the episode, it's Pabst and his unwillingness to publish the story as originally written that is the primary obstacle Benny has to overcome.
"3. I'm a white man. I would not be surprised if I got beat up for throwing a punch at a police officer today."
I'm a white man as well. I doubt that if I threw a punch a cop that I wouldn't get a beating. I'm just saying that the level of escalation the cops inflict on Benny wasn't needed for the story - unless the producers were trying to say that society at large really was *that" horrible, something I disagree with.
"As far as the point about riots, I thought the implication was that Pabst was suggesting that having a black character in a story would cause black people to riot, suddenly realizing the possibilities."
I've always interpreted that line as Pabst fearing that white people would turn violent at the thought of a black main character. But, I could be wrong on that one.
"7. Did he look into the camera?"
Indeed he did. Not at the moment when Sisko sees Benny's reflection in the window though - right before that, when Sisko and Joseph are still sitting on the couch.
Sun, May 29, 2016, 1:28am (UTC -5)
I find it an odd criticism to call into question Avery Brooks's credentials in understanding the experience of black America in the 50's. I can totally understand your concerns about Brooks' acting method in his breakdown scene, and that especially as an area of artistic critique (acting style) that can have a nuanced and differing approach for each person who considers it. But trying to find an 'inconsistency' in how Brooks portrays life for black Americans...I dunno man, I think you're barking up the wrong tree. There is no discernable inconsistency between suggesting that some people would beat you up, others would sneer, others would smile but covertly not trust you, while others yet would consider you an honored friend. That black people were employed is a fact; that *some people* had a problem with their inclusion in society is also a fact. I don't see how it has to be just one or the other. The dirty cops were physical manifestations of the core of that racism (hatred and fear), but the show doesn't try to imply that everyone hates them like that. On the contrary, the Dukat/Weyoun part in the Benny story seems to me to be about the fact that in any age there will be those who succumb to either fear or hatred, and that one must persevere without resorting to hating them back and becoming like them (the error of the Founders).
Pabst was not overtly a racist in terms of hating blacks (that we know of), but he was the enforcer of racist rules. In current parlance that means he was directly implicated in what's called systemic racism, and in that context he enforced racism. There are degrees to which a person will be willing to take risks to be a hero, and Pabst was not willing to go all the way but certainly did recognize some of the problems in undermining a black writer. Keep in mind that the Benny universe characters are meant to be direct analogues to their DS9 personas, so Pabst *is* Odo in all important senses. Specifically, he's the incarnation of Odo that was chief of security under the Cardassians during the Occupation. Sure, he wasn't anti-Bajoran like the Cardassians were but he also never went out on a limb for them either, like Quark did to an extent (while hiding it as best he could, just as Herbert fervently denies being a communist). As we learn in certain episodes and as Rusot's goon points out, Odo was indeed complicit in Bajoran executions even though he personally had no grudge against them, and for that Odo is guilty just as Pabst is. There is mitigating circumstance, of course - not everyone is cut out to be a firebrand, but still the facts are what they are. So that makes Pabst a 'racist' in the sense of participating with open eyes in a racist system, but I saw no sense that he personally was pleased with that system.
Regarding Brook's acting, he sometimes employs what is called stylized acting, and specifically heightened (quasi-Shakespearean) acting which veers away from verisimilitude and more towards giving a physically large spacial energy to the ideas being put forward. In short, it turns an idea in sound and motion in a theatrical way, and indeed it's probably a mark of theatre training. I can see how someone - especially a student of American film and TV - might be turned off by this since it's 'not realistic' in the way that became famous in the American Method schools, but I can assure you it's not "bad" acting. Brook's dedication to the imaginary circumstances of the scene and the belief in what he was saying was really there. I do personally agree that he let the theatricality go too far, and that's an artistic criticism, but damn his acting was still really good and his passion very real. A small tweak and I think the scene would have been awesome, but you're right that this is a major risk when self-directing.
Mon, Jul 4, 2016, 8:38pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jul 5, 2016, 8:57am (UTC -5)
Wed, Mar 9, 2016, 11:25am (UTC -5)
While modern marriage has moved away from being solely about children (otherwise sterile and old people should not be allowed to marry or have the tax benefits from marrying) and involved things like inheritance, being able to make care decisions, being able to be on each other's insurance, etc. I think to say that it is in "no way" about children may be a bit disingenuous as well.
Civil Unions (like most separate but equal) things, fell woefully short of what marriage offers. That said, I think for people like Yanks, children is why gay marriage is bad. I have a feeling that it has more to do with the fact that it normalizes things like gay adoption than that it allows gay people to inherit 401ks properly. But that's just my guess.
Then the solution should have been to "fix" the civil union law not redefine marriage.
Wed, Mar 9, 2016, 11:50am (UTC -5)
Actually Yanks, the constitution is silent on the topic of marriage. So even if you are arguing there isn't a "right to marriage", there certainly isn't a constitutional obligation to enforce a certain kind of marriage either.
What the federal government was essentially doing was giving out special rights to married couples, then defining what marriage is. That sounds all well and good, except the effect was discrimination against people married under different kind of marriage without a rational reason for it.
There are in fact areas of the Constitution (equal protection clause in the 14th amendment) that protects US citizens from being discriminating against without a compelling government interest. Since the government was discriminating without rational reason, they couldn't justify their discrimination and thus were acting unconstitutionally.
I am aware of everything you've correctly stated here aside from the government handing out special "rights". They were privileges under the law, not rights.
Now the door is open... like I said, you can't say "no" to any "group" now. The only way you can surmise that the government was discriminating is if you accept that a willing behavioral choice puts you in that category. Now that is acceptable one has to wonder what other behavioral choices will result in discrimination?
Tue, Jul 5, 2016, 10:01am (UTC -5)
Old comment, but I'll just talk on your last point. I don't think polygamous marriages are gaining any traction, nor have I heard of Horse-Human marriages getting government benefits thanks to the decision. Those are different types of questions, which won't necessarily ever get considered in our courts.
I mean, how could the horse afford a lawyer in the first place? :)
Tue, Jul 5, 2016, 10:51am (UTC -5)
I don't think it's truly possible for a lot of reasons. I think separate but equal will always end up being unequal. Unless civil union is literally going to say "provides identical rights, privileges and protections to a marriage... must be cross honored in any states that honor marriages from this state... obtains any/all benefits/modifications to federal/state level marriage down the line" it's really impossible to do the separate but equal thing.
For my money though there are 2 (or more) things called marriage, and nobody should feel that "attached" to the definition of the one the government hands out. Did the government really need to spend time hashing out an entirely new structure when there was something perfectly good they could tweak and use?
As a computer programmer if there's an existing table or function I can tweak to solve a problem I'm not likely to write something from scratch. I like efficiency! I don't think there's anything sacred about that government marriage. I have a government marriage license and a religious one and then I have a personal meaning inside of what my marriage means. I don't think any of those things have changed for me just because the people who can get a marriage license from the state has changed.
But your "Then the solution should have been to "fix" the civil union law not redefine marriage." argument invalidates your other point. If the solution to a problem with a thing is simply to fix that thing instead of worrying about other things than we don't need to worry about opening any doors. If gay marriage is ok, then we need not worry about things it may bring. We should fix those things if and when they come and pose a problem.
Tue, Jul 5, 2016, 9:05pm (UTC -5)
I think you're talking in circles. Your argument only work if you don't have an issue redefining marriage. To fix civil union law at the federal level is a one page fix. It's not that hard.
Again, I never brought up animals.
I think we've beat this horse enough :-)
Wed, Jul 6, 2016, 6:36am (UTC -5)
Wed, Jul 6, 2016, 9:27am (UTC -5)
But even apart from that - what was the point? Either none of this ever happened, Bennie never existed and it was all just a dream...or it DID happen and we're supposed to believe the whole of DS9 is just Bennie's dream. So either the episode was pointless or else the whole of DS9 is pointless. Or did the prophets just want to say to Sisko, "hey dude, people's lives used to really suck hundreds of years ago so don't be such a baby about losing some battles to the Dominion"? If so, that seems stupid too and if that was their message you'd think they'd at least give the dream character some sort of victory against oppression - instead his stories aren't published, he has a breakdown and gets carted off, presumably (this being the 50s) to some horrific asylum. How is that supposed to lift Sisko's spirits? The message is basically "decent guy keeps fighting against the odds and ends up totally screwed". The fact that Sisko seems to find this inspiring doesn't make much sense.
It might have worked on a different premise, if Sisko had actually gone back in time for example. But the "it's all a dream" thing...sorry, it just seemed completely meaningless to me.
And, much as I love Trek dealing with social issues, I do think it works better using allegories or aliens. That TNG episode with the gender-neutral aliens wouldn't have been nearly so effective if they'd just had a traditional homophobic society and a gay couple had asked the Enterprise for asylum or something. It worked precisely because it presented the issue from a different angle to show how stupid the prejudice was.
Thu, Jul 28, 2016, 2:04pm (UTC -5)
It's certainly great to take a fictional look on race and make people think of the real world racism but making a one sided eg Making all the co-writers White and having only one of them support him but even then, Shimmerman's character just seems a usually combative, argumentative person so it's unclear whether this is because he feels its injustice or because he "just wants to have a moan" whilst the rest act like "That's just the way it is".
But the rest of the episode and other themes were great.
Tue, Aug 16, 2016, 5:41pm (UTC -5)
Too me this heavy handed episode just illustrates the utter failures of the episodes that deal with something like racism. We have no real reason to deal with black/white human racism in the series and the episode ignores sexism. The episode makes me think that getting in a few black/white racism episodes was some one's pet project and they just smacked something together.
Tangent: I hate that they made Sisko complain about the casino hologram program because at the time period it is set in blacks wouldn't have been able to enter. Damn good think blacks could always play baseball or he would have to not do that either, oh wait....
Wed, Sep 7, 2016, 7:38pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Sep 18, 2016, 9:44pm (UTC -5)
What the hell were they thinking?
Mon, Sep 19, 2016, 10:11am (UTC -5)
Thank you. Exactly. All window dressing with no link to anything.
Wed, Sep 28, 2016, 3:13am (UTC -5)
Don't like just a dream, don't like Brooks acting, like more or less everything else.
Regardless, disappointing to see what appear to be devoted Trek fans expressing what can only be described as regressional political views.
Sat, Oct 1, 2016, 1:49am (UTC -5)
As for being social commentary about race, the whole episode is forced and is twenty five years too late.
Sat, Oct 1, 2016, 1:51am (UTC -5)
Sat, Oct 1, 2016, 8:45am (UTC -5)
It's been 'generations' since WWII. Do you think it 'makes no sense' that the Jews are still concerned about the Holocaust? Do you think in a hundred years they'll be 'over it'? Not a chance. It's been *centuries* since the Spanish Inquisition and even more since the crusades. Do you not notice that people are still railing about these? But it "makes no sense", according to you. There are no crusades now, and no inquisition.
But we can bypass modern comparisons and look at Sisko himself. It was established already in S3 that Sisko has an interest in history; specifically, the history of oppressed peoples. He knew all about the Bell Riots, he had an apparent interest in the Bajoran history of spaceflight and how the species that was more advanced than the Cardassians in some ways was the one to be subjugated, and so now we're hearing from him about black history. Should this come as a surprise, since the casting of the show is distinctly *about* a member of a previously oppressed race helping a recently injured race to heal?
"Far Beyond the Stars" is about social and political pressure to keep someone's identity down. Whether that means being black, where one has to lie low and pretend not to be a human being, or that means being the emissary, where Starfleet and other forces want Sisko to dismiss his identity - in both cases it's about being willing to stand alone, if need be, and to refuse to deny who you are. There is nothing timely about that message; it will always be true.
Mon, Jan 16, 2017, 4:53am (UTC -5)
I'd have loved to have seen your face when Trump won.
Mon, Jan 16, 2017, 11:52am (UTC -5)
Anyway, this is an amazing episode and the absolute emotional core of DS9. (The return to it in Shadows And Symbols is equally magnificent, and I just wish they'd gone through with their idea of having Benny Russell walk into the studio with a script at the end of What You Leave Behind.) I'm kinda sad at what the thread's degenerated into. Also, the fact Trek had no gay characters at this point isn't anything to do with the episode itself, which is tremendous. Re: Benji's comment, that "Star Trek's producers have done the very same thing with gay people that this episode accuses the magazine publishers of doing with black people and women" - that's unfortunately correct, but the 90s was a different cultural landscape (remember how big a deal Ellen's coming-out was, and how the Rejoined kiss was one of the first lesbian kisses on a major TV show) and it was out of the hands of the DS9 staff.
Wed, Feb 15, 2017, 1:45pm (UTC -5)
I disagree with comments that this episode plays no role in the larger series. I have only the vaguest recollection of what comes after this, but from what has come so far: Sisko has an evolving relationship with the Prophets, who drop in and out of his life and create chaos. Given that they exist outside of time, they could as easily be creating chaos in the life of an earthling four centuries earlier, causing him to dream of Sisko.
Fri, May 19, 2017, 11:10pm (UTC -5)
I liked this episode when it first aired. Not enough to watch it again. Brooks' over-acting is fine in small doses, but a whole episode featuring him...too much.
Mon, Jul 24, 2017, 2:32pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Aug 2, 2017, 10:25am (UTC -5)
As for the police beating, dude, police brutality against black people (and people in general too, obviously, but specifically racially motivated) happens TODAY, it's really not that out of place in the 50's. Hell, the current prez of the USA encouraged it (for people of all colors of course-he's nice like that) few days before my comment.
Since I didn't comment on it when I first watched it, my thoughts on the episode: Certainly heavy-handed and unecessarily so IMO-a simple rewrite for few lines and it works much better. But the episode doesn't have a naivite a lot of these stories do. A man stands up against the system in his own humble way... And the system hands his ass to him. And just the sheer fun factor makes this an entertaining hour. BTW, of all the 50's DS9 characters, Lofton's is the only one who didn't work for me. He was just way too over the top and annoying-kind of a problem when I'm supposed to be all sad when gets shot.
Wed, Aug 2, 2017, 10:52am (UTC -5)
"BTW, of all the 50's DS9 characters, Lofton's is the only one who didn't work for me. He was just way too over the top and annoying-kind of a problem when I'm supposed to be all sad when gets shot."
On the level of "I like this character" I kind of agree, but to an extent I think it was a deliberate choice on behalf of writers. Of the three black men portrayed in the episode they give you three scenarios of what life could be like for a black man. In general the idea was that they weren't accepted in any kind of upscale work but could do menial labor and things like that. You have the one case of a black man who's one of the lucky few ones that hits the big time due to being an athlete, and acts as a sort of false symbol of what life would afford black people. You have Benny, who tries to slip under the radar and do a regular job despite being black. And then you have the petty criminal, who turns to crime most likely because of the lack of real opportunities for employment. He's made to be annoying and unlikable for a reason, I think, which is that society views the need to both with black people in general as unlikable and annoying. He's the thorn in everyone's side, and romanticizing him by making the character charming would undermine that fact. The fact that we don't care as much as we could when he dies is sort of a reflection on how the society there would view it, and Benny is left mourning for him alone, even divided from the viewing audience at that point. After all, isn't it a bias that we only care about the outcomes of characters we personally like? In TV that seems to be taken for granted, but putting up a mirror to us I think it can also show that we do the same thing in real life. We care about things close to us, and not so much things that are strange, or even annoying. By making Lofton's character here annoying the episode achieved the goal of putting us in the position of mentally treating him like the culture in the episode did. Very clever, that. How many times have you read episode reviews and seen posts saying that wished such and such annoying character would die already? Well they did that here, and the only man mourning him is the "crazy" man with wild visions of the future.
Wed, Aug 9, 2017, 12:38am (UTC -5)
i was pretty disappointed to see the very first comment on this page was whimpering from a white person that feels slighted, just like any time america's recent past is exposed to critique. these things happened. it's not an indictment of white people everywhere to acknowledge it. grow a spine.
what does it say about these people that ANY time someone tells a story from the perspective of a black person having to live with these struggles, it's supposedly being "jammed down their throat"?
Wed, Aug 9, 2017, 6:14pm (UTC -5)
Heavy-handed you say? Simple stereotypes you say? Well I have eyewitness news for you: Racism back then WAS heavy handed and blunt. There was no clever code-wording like we have now. As Douglas (Odo) kept saying, "It's how things ARE" AND HE WAS SOOO RIGHT! No apologies for it. Racism, police harassment, workplace sexism and racial discrimination was as obvious as the blazing sun. And Negroes with high aspirations had the WORST of it.
Now, does it fit into the DS9 arc? No, it doesn't. But is it honest as a stand alone story? Oh, yes, it really was. I lived Bennie's life in Indiana. I had a degree in engineering and no place to use it until I was well into my 40's. No, we didn't need the story. But we didn't need Quark's silly sex change episode. We didn't need those parallel dimension stories. We went off on a lot needless tangents in all of Star Trek but I didn't see the miles and miles of angst ridden reviews about those.
Thu, Aug 10, 2017, 12:57pm (UTC -5)
My sole concern was that the dedicated audiences of DS9 would be less likely to need this episode than most television audiences.
Then I came to Jammer's page and saw this very thread of comments stretching back nearly a decade now.
Clearly this episode was necessary.
Sun, Oct 1, 2017, 5:56pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Oct 15, 2017, 4:37pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Oct 25, 2017, 8:01am (UTC -5)
Thu, Nov 2, 2017, 3:34pm (UTC -5)
This is not just another story where the DS9 characters get to portray some other fiction (James Bond etc.) -- here, the quality of transposition is so perfectly done with the 50s era music to create the atmosphere of that time. Definitely cool to see the actors for Odo and Quark without all the prosthetics. I didn't realize Alaimo and Coombs were the 2 racist police officers who beat up Sisko after he sees Jake gunned down.
I think Brooks overdoes the acting and nervous breakdown a tad in the finale with his "I am a human damn it!" speech. But it certainly all comes out in this breakdown -- he refuses to give up the fight, they can't take away his ideas etc. I'm not faulting Brooks' acting much here but it did seem to go on for a while.
The elder Sisko's role is pretty important here -- tying all what Bennie is going through to the Prophets and Sisko as emissary. It seemed Bennie didn't grasp what the religious man was talking about but he kept pushing on with his story and belief in change.
4 stars for "Far Beyond the Stars" -- truly classic Trek that shines a light on the human condition for sure. The people who are racist are cowards and their doubt and fear also comes through. There's the good message of keeping the faith and for Sisko to finish the job he started against the Dominion.
Sat, Dec 2, 2017, 10:30pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Dec 5, 2017, 4:59am (UTC -5)
Sun, Dec 17, 2017, 4:35pm (UTC -5)
The first comment here talks about how cartoon villainy the cops were. But now we live in a world where 12 year olds are shot for holding fake guns and so being shot for having a crowbar and then someone else being beaten while everyone else stands around doesn’t seem that far off.
This episode was depressing for how little progress we’ve made. These issues still surround us every day.
Mon, Dec 18, 2017, 1:20am (UTC -5)
Finding myself now aghast at the re-dawning of what the older wiser me has, since then, come to realize is a Cycle of Hate that appears endemic to the culture we've created, I am now hopeful that stories like this DS9 episode will continue to stoke a flame of truth that even the mounting ashes of racial/gender/economic inequality cannot quell.
No one likes to appear stupid. It's beyond valuable that a burgeoning cell of 3 young white boys-- children unaware of their own privilege, yet already sensing the usefulness of ganging up on those less fortunate-- be made to feel a little bit dumb as a result of watching this episode, realizing their bully shtick is not cutting edge, but rather far older and even less successful than the generation they are already, not coincidentally, beginning to resent.
In the spirit of the holidays, I am choosing to believe that this latest Cycle of Hate is more of the "15 minutes of fame" variety, and that the spirit embodied by the Trek Universe will once again find itself in ascendancy for the next several generations.
Mon, Jan 1, 2018, 1:07am (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 2:21am (UTC -5)
The acting/character portrayals were all pretty unrestrained and some a little cliche though they were all generally effective. Auberjonois was pretty good at balancing enforcing pragmatism and antagonism but especially near the end a bit too much antagonism; I'm not sure what was really intended with the ending suggesting he was more of an outright villain, agreeing with the racism and firing Benny, even though he was also in a sense right as not he but the publisher refused to publish the story even with the dream ending and insisted on firing Benny. The whole conflict felt a little too one-sided, all the writers thinking and the viewer supposed to think that enough of the audience would accept the story, the writers kind of refusing to admit (or wanting Pabst to ignore) that they were making mass-market pulp entertainment. Shimerman's character gets off to a pretty bad or at least questionable start in raising Hell over hours-old donuts (given how strident he was it's not really believable that there hadn't been the Communist accusation before) as do the staff writers generally for gushing about the competitor (maybe more prestigious) sci fi magazine.
There were also a few too many characters, some pretty much just there to be played by the regular main cast (particularly Bashir's double and Dax's who, almost admitting that there are too many, had to be not included initially and then specifically introduced later). Although Visitor's and Meaney's were well-done and added a lot, especially in their earnest, helpful yet at-least-slightly demeaning ideas about the compromise dream ending.
The episode just tried to cover too much (Sisko's status as war leader, as the Prophets' Emissary, racism and discrimination, the power of fiction to inspire change, writers having to deal with censorship/publisher control generally, the passion writers feel for their creations, the uncertain nature of dreams vs. reality) even though it did most of it well. It did particularly well with its main themes of racism and the passion of writers (I thought the It's real climax was strong) but the parallels between Russell writing and Sisko as the Emissary and a wartime captain felt too strained (especially given how Russell seemed to in the end not succeed) even though they are ostensibly the main motivators to the story (and its connection to the larger series).
Sat, Mar 10, 2018, 1:10am (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 10, 2018, 1:18am (UTC -5)
Sun, Mar 18, 2018, 8:34pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Apr 20, 2018, 3:51pm (UTC -5)
Sat, May 19, 2018, 10:52am (UTC -5)
The more important thing I've realized is what this episode is saying about the prophets. The preacher tells Benny to follow the word of the prophets, and of course we think of the Prophets when we hear this - which are deities of a sort. But then I realized that Judaism and Christianity also believe in following the advice of prophets, and that this double-entendre may be more than just a coincidence. What's a prophet after all - someone who tells you the truth, often about things to come. We may think of wormhole aliens as fitting the bill, but I now think that this was intended as a metaphor for science fiction writing in general, which of course is the literal subject matter of the episode. Sci-fi writers can tell us about the future, give us hope, and try to prepare us for what's to come. Granted, they're rarely entirely correct in direct prediction, but more important than accuracy is the fact that they get us *thinking* about the future so that we can have some idea of what we want to strive to achieve and work towards. I can guarantee you that growing up with Trek has strongly shaped my view of the future and the sort of world I hope for. I think the same is true of others, and that's because I've 'heard the word of the prophets', if you will; the message of what's to come if we 'follow the will of the prophets.' We have to actually make that future.
So I think one of the messages here is that not only is sci-fi really important but also that it shouldn't be a passive viewing experience. We need to take what we've seen and heard and *do* something about it. Many black people reportedly saw Uhura on the bridge of the Enterprise and decided to pursue careers they never would have thought possible, including in NASA; people became engineers because of Scotty; and so on. And outside of the workplace, there's the matter of how we treat others, or even other nations. In a way I see FBtS as being about the serious responsibility of being a sci-fi writer, that they're directly providing the 'word of the prophets' and that they have a responsibility to tell the truth about the future and to give us hope. Of course, prophecy can also involve being a doomsayer if that's what the prophet sees and if that's what we need to hear, but in any case it should always be the truth and always to try to make us better people. This hits me again with what is most wrong with DISC, which is that the writers seem to have taken no responsibility for being prophets, and instead are just trying to provide entertainment to bring people back for more. They're not teachers, just circus performers. There should be a huge weight on the shoulders of a sci-fi writer, especially when writing for a built-in audience. It's like going into a classroom of young people - the right and proper thought should be "Oh god, I'm now responsible to shape these people!" And I imagine the same goes for being a parent.
I find the parallel between the Prophets, prophets, and sci-fi writers to be striking. The power of the faith of Bajorans towards their Prophets should be a mirror for the intense dedication sci-fi fans have to seeing the world that can be and trying to help bring that about. A show like this one can be entertaining, sure, but it should also be important to the world. I think Trek has been important and for the most part in the right ways, although less and less as the series and films continued on and devolved into easy entertainment, and sometimes not even entertainment.
This is what's so tough about the relationship between Benny and Ben: Ben can't exist without Benny. The future isn't something that just happens no matter what; we create it. Whatever we do *is* what the future is going to be. Just like Benny, our 'writing' of life makes the world that a Benjamin Sisko will inhabit. What we do will change whether Sisko succeeds or fails, or even exists. And yet the image of a Sisko, or a Kirk or Picard, may just give us the inspiration to live our lives a certain way and make that word. So we create them, and they create us. It's not linear, and I think the entire theme of the series - or even the franchise - comes home in this episode.
Sat, Sep 15, 2018, 5:08pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jan 1, 2019, 3:01pm (UTC -5)
I just don’t understand why I should care about this, I am neither black nor American, science fiction as a literary genre is not serious art. Although most of this programme fails at making one care, at least there is some entertainment value. This is just foolish, why does anyone care if a subpar black writer went mad because nobody wanted to read entertainment with a character they are unable to identify with?
Tue, Jan 1, 2019, 7:37pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Jan 5, 2019, 2:51pm (UTC -5)
1. This might be because I'm black, but I'm starting to notice how caricatured the life of people [black or otherwise] become in stories set before the mid 60's. Every black character is always a sympathetic guy tormented in a racist hellscape. I find it funny that a show that consistently deals with the nuance of race relations in turbulent times(see the Bajorans vs Cardassians), would have a cartoonish depiction of real 20th century life. The same goes with "Little Green Men." I get the sense writers were writing not from research, but how they thought life might have been like in those days. Heck, In some ways, I'm surprised Colm Meaney didn't play a baton twirling cop in this one. But then again, I'm sure he would have refused to.
My parents were born in the tail end of the pre-civil rights days and even they can find more to talk about those times than how terrible it was( and in many ways it was terrible). My mom is actually nostalgic for those times. Not because she misses the racism, but because there was more to life than what white people thought of her. She was raised in the south, believe it or not.
I say all this not to downplay the racism of those times. I've gotten plenty of stories from my parents on that. I say this out of a desire to see more than the suffering black man trope in historical pieces involving black people. I find it hard to believe that my ancestors would have survived if they were just poor colored folk spending all their days agonizing over how unfair life was. They had to have done other things.
But maybe that's more a criticism of taste than execution. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
2. I hate to say this, but Avery Brooks style kind of dings this episode a bit. If I'm honest, I've always thought Sisko was occasionally overacted to the point that there is a bit of contrast between him and other characters, especially Quark and O'Brien(who are probably the most subtle performances on the show). But this is a franchise whose first main was played by Shatner, of all people. This story, however, was supposed to have a more naturalistic tone, and for the most part Bennie is just that. . .up until the payoff.
Let's just say it makes sense why this scene is immortalized in meme. While I don't doubt Brooks' sincerity (I felt bad for old Bennie) or acting ability, when he started convulsing, it took me out of it. I was like, "Dang, you took that beatdown better than you took this news." I've been through way more trying times than having a story rejected by mean white people, but I don't remember ever spazzing out in someone's lap because of them.
Part of me finds it hard to believe that at least one person on set wasn't thinking "Man, dial it back a bit. Jeez" during filming.
3. My biggest complaint is the premise, which is just not probable for one simple reason. The type of work Bennie and the others were doing wasn't done by staff writers. Most stories in good sci-fi/fantasy magazines were bought from freelancers: the relationship of the writers and publishers carried largely through correspondence. Some magazines did have writers on staff, but it seems that was done to serve some editorial function(fictionalizing real accounts, rewrites, or in the case of Ghost Stories magazine, ghostwriting[pardon the pun] "true confessions"). To put it another way, staff writers were paid to be invisible while freelance writers were, well, freelance. They didn't go to the office, and they were responsible for their own success.
A man in Bennie's position would essentially be ghostwriting for the editor through a series of pseudonyms. None of what he'd write would even attributed to him. Since DS9 meant so much to him, he would rather submit it as a freelancer, which means it would have been rejected separately from his staff work.
Then there's the whole issue of how long it took for stories to get published. Months. The answer is months. Let's say, his work was initially accepted. Bennie would know the fate of his story well in advance of publication. And really? Would someone fire a guy just because he hated his story? How the heck did Bennie get hired there in the first place if the owner is that touchy on race? With all that melodrama I'm surprised Douglas didn't mention Bennie's girlfriend running off with Baseball-Worf, and the KKK burning his apartment building to the ground.
Also, with so many submissions, why would the magazine live or die based off of one man's decision to write a black space captain?
Now, I understand a scene of him seizing on the floor because of a dismissive rejection letter wouldn't be ample rationalization for such behavior, so there is that, but the amount of warping reality to make this guy's life a living hell is almost as sadistic as an O'Brien episode.
I liked this episode for the street preacher scenes, it's almost transcendent allusions to Sisko's role as Emissary(so it has more to say than just "racism is bad mmkay"), and the very different characters the actors play (BTW, why is Siddig's character allowed to take the picture? Did they forget he's not white?) I also sympathize hard for poor old Bennie. But this episode suffers from more than a bit of contrivance (see point 3) and a lot of melodrama (see point 1 and 2).
My rating is somewhere between 3 and 3.5
Sat, Jan 5, 2019, 3:11pm (UTC -5)
" I appreciate what this episode tried to accomplish, and for the most part, I do think it hit more than a few of those emotional beats. But there are three things that keep this from being a "The Visitor" level story for me."
The interesting thing about that "The Visitor" comment section is filled with people saying how that episode isn't quite as good as "The Inner Light". I guess nothing is.
" I find it funny that a show that consistently deals with the nuance of race relations in turbulent times(see the Bajorans vs Cardassians)"
There isn't really that much nuance to the Cardassian/Bajoran situation. It's wrong to paint all Cardassians with one brush, but the planet is guilty as sin. As long as they continue to deny the atrocities committed during the Occupation, Kira is justified in disliking those who do (which seems to be a large portion of them). I don't think this was any less nuanced. They showed Herb standing up for Benny, but he's a minority, greatly outnumbered by cowards like Pabst. Just like Marritza seems to be outnumbered by those who justify the Occupation.
"would have a cartoonish depiction of real 20th century life. The same goes with "Little Green Men.""
"Little Green Men" was explicitly a comedy though. It was deliberately hokey. I think "Far Beyond the Stars" largely has its bases covered for an episode scripted by three white men who didn't grow up in the time period in which the episode is set.
Sun, Jan 6, 2019, 11:15pm (UTC -5)
But there is though. There are countless episodes where even the most vile aspects of the occupation are scrutinized from all angles without questioning the fact that what the Cardassians did was wrong. At one point Kira's closest Cardassian friend, a dissident, one she sees as a father, was found to have helped take out Kiessa Monastery in his youth. Kira's own mother played house with Dukat to aid her family, and Kira was a straight up terrorist who is more than implied to have blown up civilians. And lets not forget her momentary lapse in principles while serving under Dukat and the Dominion, using the same logic, I'm sure, many collaborators used during the occupation.
You see, having nuance is not the same things as showing approval. It's not about pondering the morality of taking over a planet or hating people because of their skin color. It's about being honest. Being honest about how life works and how people are.
In this episode there really wasn't any nuance. There were racist characters and there were magically enlightened characters. Of course the racists go around accusing the non-racists to be commies because as we all know, there were no racist progressives/leftists. Cops (of course, racists) killed a black man with impunity, and the main character was just the model long-suffering black man with no personality flaws apart from daring to dream too big. Don't forget the racist boss who doesn't support Bennie, not because his job may actually be at stake, but because he's a coward who uses his job as a smokescreen to hide his own bigotry.
Now I can forgive this episode for these things because it's largely on an island (there isn't much time to develop the story like you can the Bajor/Cardassia thing) but on its own merits, it paints the past as one would expect, which is not a huge deal because this episode serves more as a allegory about Sisko's role as Emissary than a study of 1950 America.
"Little Green Men" was explicitly a comedy though. . ."
It is, but Odo wasn't written as a goofball. You can have historical comedy and still not rely on cliches about the era.
("In the Cards" was quite an episode. I liked it very much. It's been so long since I've seen it, it was like watching it for the first time)
Wed, Jan 16, 2019, 11:51am (UTC -5)
I thought nothing of this episode when it aired. I was in college, chasing girls, and far more interested in the newly added Jeri Ryan (7 of 9) over on Voyager, than a history lesson. All I wanted was to get back to the Dominion War! Season 6 seemed too late in the game for this kind of messaging crap. I get it, racism is bad. No duh.
We watch Star Trek because it is amazing to see how well a world can work when people focus on what matters, not on what divides us. We watch Star Trek to see how good people can be when everything is just right, not how nasty ordinary life has been.
But a lot has happened since Kirk saved the whales, since Picard saw four lights, since Archer tortured a guy, since two dudes brushed their teeth together in a bathroom. Now, 20 years later, they tell us black lives matter. In 2015, Sandra Bland was arrested for not using the indicator signal when changing lanes, and she hanged herself to death in jail. What the actual fuck.
There is a line in Season 1 of Man in the High Castle, “It takes a lot of effort not to be free.”
So, is it worth our while to every now and then see how bad it feels when society is unjust? And not just in an allegorical way, like TNG’s “Angel One” in which we visit a world run by women? But real, something from our honest to goodness past.
I didn’t realize this till today, that Avery Brooks was actually alive - and black - in the 1950’s, when “Far Beyond the Stars” takes place. I didn’t realize till today, that Benny Hill is ex-Navy, which means he was in the service when it was desegregated in 1946 just before Korea. I didn’t realize this till just today, that the U.S. Navy elevated its first black officer to captain in 1961, just a few years after the events of “Far Beyond the Stars.” So it makes total sense that a black man like Benny Hill, ex-Navy, in the 1950’s would be dreaming of a black captain, while white people would be all like, dude there ain’t never been nothin’ like that - what chu talkin bout boy?
For Benny Hill, a black captain would be palpable, just around the corner. For the editor Odo it was simply inconceivable. I hope we can all remember how insane and unreal it seemed in 2008 when someone said they wanted to be a black President. Even though the actual thing was only months away. Sometimes it still seems unreal.
I’ve gone back through this entire thread and read all the comments. Even my own (@Mal) from a decade ago! First of all, thank you so much to Jammer for maintaining this place where people can actually discuss in a (largely) civilised way.
Above all others, I would recommend the exchange between @Luke and @William B. Because @Luke asks exactly the right question: what’s the point of having this episode? This isn’t exactly why we have stuck with Star Trek decade after decade after decade. If we wanted to be lectured to, we always have Joss Whedon (I kid because I love :-)
But as @Peter G so eloquently puts it in perspective to the current sad state of Trek, "the writers seem to have taken no responsibility for being prophets, and instead are just trying to provide entertainment to bring people back for more. They're not teachers, just circus performers.” We are living in a time when Star Trek has lost its soul.
Today if you want soul in your scifi, there is The Expanse, there is Man in the High Castle. Go back and watch Babylon 5. Or dive into Battle Star Galactica. These shows were about something. When Bones poured Kirk a drink and Kirk told Bones he didn’t really know what he was doing with his life, it was something real. When Picard came back from his rape by the Borg, he was never quite whole again. When O’Brien killed his cell mate after 20 years together, it almost killed him. And Trek now? When was the last time you really cared about Trek? Did Janeway ever rise to the level of President Rosalin. Did Tucker/T’Pol ever love like Crichton/Aryan? To ask these questions is to realize how ridiculous our beloved deep space franchise has become.
But scifi - Science Fiction - still matters. As @Elliott says, “Far Beyond the Stars” isn’t about racism = bad. It is about science fiction = good.
Science Fiction is good when it doesn’t just criticise the bad, but dares to dream about what can be good. Too much of our scifi now is just cynical and critical - racism bad, bigotry bad, nationalism bad, capitalism bad. But great scifi - and Star Trek is the greatest of great scifi - is about what is good. Wonder is good. Bravery is good. Sacrifice is good. Engineering is good :D These are shows about duty and honour, honesty and loyalty. And whether it was Kirk/Bones/Spock, or Picard/Data/, or Julian/O’Brien, these were the best of people working and living without want, but with real and wholesome ambition.
Today we can find goodness only in old episodes on Star Trek, or new episodes of non-Star Trek. I don’t think we can ever expect a “Chain of Command” or “In the Pale Moonlight” from Discovery. There will be no City on the Edge of Forever for this current DISC crew. These STD writers are of the generation that thinks taking Doctor Who back to meet Rosa Parks is great scifi. And when you confront them, they will point to “Far Beyond the Stars” and say DS9 did it first, 20 years ago. But they would be completely wrong.
Before “Far Beyond the Stars,”
- we had 6 years to see Odo work for the Cardassians, then the Federation, then the Cardassians again, then the Federation again, before we saw editor Odo uphold order in the 1950’s.
- we had 6 years to see Quark tolerate his mother earning profit and wearing clothes, and apprentice a woman wearing fake lobes, and settle with his brother’s union in secret, and lose his trade license for breaking a contract, before Quark gets called a commie in the 1950’s.
- we saw Julian pretend for years to be normal and hide his genetic superiority in plain sight before Julian passed for white in the 1950’s.
- we saw Gul Dukat and Weyoun bully for years before they shot Jake for breaking into a car in the 1950’s.
- we saw Worf as the only klingon in starfleet for a decade before we saw him as the only negro in white baseball in the 1950’s.
- we saw O’Brien retreat into Engineering from the ugliness of real life as a soldier for a decade before O’Brien hid behind robots in the 1950’s.
And yes, we saw The Sisko for 6 years, a black single-parent, facing incredible odds as the ass-end of the Federation, before we saw Benny Hill have a nervous breakdown in the 1950’s.
Today I still squirm from discomfort when watching Avery Brooks overact at the end, just as I did 20 years go when I first watched “Far Beyond the Stars.” Only now I think that maybe - maybe - making us squirm was the entire point.
Wed, Jan 16, 2019, 12:39pm (UTC -5)
And I agree that Brooks' acting at the end, which offends so many people for being theatrical and ugly, is very likely intended to be just that: the thing you don't want to see, packaged in a way you don't want your TV. It isn't easy to watch, isn't nice, isn't smooth or slick, and doesn't even resemble the "good acting" we've come to expect where everything is naturalistic 'just like real life'. This is too big to be natural, and yet when what's at stake is the future of an entire race, it seems only natural for the stakes to be this big. So what's unnatural - having a nervous breakdown that looks grotesque, or *failing* to have a reaction like this when it's exactly in proportion to the horror of beating down an entire people like the blacks, or the Bajorans?
And yet it isn't a moralizing sermon about how the audience is bad. In fact it's the opposite: by supporting hopeful sci-fi the audience is directly participating in the liberation of oppressed peoples. And this was literally true in the case of classic Trek, as MLK insisted to Nichelle Nicholas that TOS was important and she musn't quit the show under any circumstances. How can an episode get any more Trek than this?
Wed, Jan 23, 2019, 7:07pm (UTC -5)
Ironic, isn't it? That the "bastard stepchild" of the franchise would produce the most effective encapsulation of Trek's core values, and have that episode be one of the best pieces of science fiction in any medium.
Wonderful post. If you want good science fiction, I'd also recommend "Person of Interest". It's disguised as a procedural, but it's great sci-fi nonetheless, and my personal favorite show.
As for Brooks' overreaction, I used to cringe as well. But I intellectually, at least, think that it definitely makes sense. This is a man pushed to his limit by a constant stream of abuse and dehumanization. It's no surprise to me, that when he goes off the deep end, it's in a very unhinged and uncomfortable way.
Tue, Jan 29, 2019, 12:19pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 1, 2019, 8:38am (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 1, 2019, 9:02pm (UTC -5)
--Yowza. This is a lot of fun, seeing all those human versions of our characters. But also not a lot of fun. A lot of sad.
--This reminds me of all those folks who look to the past with such nostalgia, wishing for simpler times, forgetting how it was for blacks and women and others in those "good old days." I would never want to go back.
--I love the way the characters are transformed into . . . sorta the same types of people. Sorta.
--Yowza! The N word from Jake. Bravo. Serious business, here. No mincing.
--Michael Dorn is so darn cute.
--An understated Brooks does a good job. Must have been quite the experience for him, to do this.
--The entire cast is doing a fine job. Shimerman a standout. The policemen also great. And lots of wonderful little 50s touches.
--Very moving. Moved me to tears. Beautifully, lovingly done in all aspects.
--I think there's a lot being said here, about the way Sisko sees the people in his life, and it bears a lot more careful watching than I can give it.
--A true winner, Trek at its absolute finest.
Sat, Feb 2, 2019, 8:30am (UTC -5)
--BROOKS: He does a good to excellent job in most scenes. There are scenes that are bad, yes. At this point, I'm just commenting on Brooks when I think he's done a notably good job overall - which I think he did in this ep. His deficiencies did show in places, but weren't significant enough to lower the ep in my estimation.
--PABST: He was definitely a coward, but also a racist. The kind of racist that doesn't see himself that way. He's very Dukat-like in the ep, echoing Dukat's words from the cave with Sisko: He's just doing his job. He employs Russell, after all. What can he do? It's not personal.
But listen to the reason he gives about why the black captain won't fly: "It's not realistic!" Hmmm. A Dukat-lite way of saying blacks are an inferior race.
Sat, Feb 2, 2019, 9:06am (UTC -5)
THRAX: Truth? You want the truth? All right. The truth is that none of you would be accused, none of you would even be here if the Bajorans weren't fighting the Cardassians. It's futile. The occupation has lasted for fifty years and it will probably last another fifty.
ODO: I wouldn't be too sure about that.
THRAX: Why not accept it? If the Bajoran people would accept their place in history, none of this would be happening.
ODO: We're talking about the attempt on Gul Dukat's life, not the socio-political ramifications of the resistance.
THRAX: It's all part of the same problem. When your people resort to terrorism and violence, they're fighting against order, against stability, against the rule of law, and this must be stopped.
ODO: There is more to life than the rule of law.
THRAX: It has been my observation that only the guilty make that kind of statement.
ODO: I didn't want to tell you this. I don't know what the consequences will be, but we're not terrorists. We're not even Bajorans. There's been a temporal displacement of some kind. We don't belong in this time. We're from the future.
THRAX: I know.
ODO: You know? Then what are you going to do about it?
THRAX: What I am supposed to do, nothing more, nothing less.
When Pabst says it's not realistic for there to be a black space ship captain, there is racism there...but even more than that is a conviction that The Way Things Are is immutable and permanent. Pabst might believe that black people are as capable as white people, but it won't matter because white people will always be in charge, because they have the power now, and will never stop. I don't think Odo was truly racist against Bajorans when he believed that the Occupation would go on indefinitely, except insofar as he believed himself superior to all solids, but he could not imagine the power imbalance ever correcting itself and could not really understand why a person would waste their life wishing it were different. Pabst is white (like Thrax-Odo was Cardassian) so the way in which belief in The Rule Of Law (ie order) makes someone side with the more powerful is shown explicitly.
I like the way it distinguishes between an Odo-style approach during the Occupation to a Dukat-style approach. Pabst does what he believes he can, tries a little to make exceptions (like how Odo let Kira go for the sabotage she claimed to do in Necessary Evil), but when The Man comes down on him he sides with order. Dukat is a cop -- he has the power and he uses physical force (killing, beatings) to back it up. Both are "just doing their job," but Dukat's job is more violent and consequential and allows his sadism fuller expression.
Sat, Feb 2, 2019, 10:34am (UTC -5)
I do agree that Pabst was not a racist. He had no problem with SIsko being a writer in the office. He just saw it as unrealistic for the captain to be black. And as a businessman, he is right-in that it would be unrealistic to the readers and even determinantal to the sales of his sci-fi magazine. Most people are not out to "make a statement" or shake up norms, they just want to have a job. And Pabst realised that his approving the story may very well end up with him no longer having a job.
Even when it comes down to the racist, violent police, I don't see them as monsters, rather as misinformed. If you genuinely believe that blacks are violent, lazy, shifty (add your own adjective), then you are misinformed. Those who see that these things are not true, and are so angry to have their illusions shattered that they resort to violence, these are worse
Sat, Feb 2, 2019, 10:59am (UTC -5)
Yes, great catch and definitely legit association to Thrax . . . who, basically, IS Odo. Just as Pabst is Odo. And I think both Thrax and Pabst are meant to give us insight into Odo, the same insight - about Odo's need for order and sameness, and his feeling of detachment and superiority.
Interesting there, that changelings crave solid ground, and the solids seem always restless and agitating for change.
I think we're meant to compare Odo to Dukat, and I think you nailed it again: Odo lacks the sadism of Dukat (or as Pabst, the police officer). And of course, as we see explicitly in Duet and other eps, we're meant to question the culpability of the Odo/Pabst types, and the nature of Evil.
I suspect this ep is giving us some insight into all the DS9 characters through their NYC counterparts, and some insight into how Sisko sees them, but haven't given that a lot of thought.
Just FYI, the Kira character - she made me think of Nan Dibble, who you may remember from our Buffy board (though she died suddenly, and may have already been gone by the time you started commenting). Nan was a female sci fi writer in that era. She wrote under a man's name and had interesting stories to tell.
Sat, Feb 2, 2019, 2:28pm (UTC -5)
I think that some of the changelings vs. solids stuff is because solids can't change themselves much physically, and so have some self to hang onto, and are more adaptable to external changes. Changelings have no natural shape so need an orderly external world to have identity at all.
I never interacted with Nan Dibble, though I think I read some of her writing about Angel season 5 maybe? That's really interesting about her being a sf writer with a male pen name.
Sun, Feb 3, 2019, 2:49pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Feb 4, 2019, 7:10am (UTC -5)
Interesting thoughts. What strikes me there is that Nog is "in the same profession" as Ben, much, much lower level. Jake has chosen a different path. I suppose Jake's ending could reflect a parent's concern about a child who's off the beaten path.
It would be interesting to really dig into this ep. Probably lots of stuff in the dialogue and images. If I ever do that, I'll post it here.
Thu, Feb 7, 2019, 6:48pm (UTC -5)
I thought the Pabst/Odo connection was subtle but brilliant. They're both more concerned with maintaining the status quo than bringing about positive change that would disrupt their ordered world. With Odo, this manifests with his Founder nature-he's naturally controlling and casually infringes upon civil liberties as seen in "The Wire". He didn't join up with the Bajoran Resistance during the Occupation because he was more comfortable presenting himself as the reasonable outsider above it all, the one who doesn't take sides and wishes that everyone would just get along. That same character trait shows up in Pabst. He too, acts like he's above it all. He's not a crusader, and he almost implies both Benny and his boss are being too extreme. Overall, it's a small part of the episode, but like the rest of it, it works on multiple levels.
Thu, Feb 7, 2019, 7:07pm (UTC -5)
Tue, May 21, 2019, 9:09am (UTC -5)
Mon, Jun 24, 2019, 2:45pm (UTC -5)
Too many unexplained things by those mysterious prophets - what happened to those JemHadar ships by the way? - and a touch too much over acting.
Great to see the characters portray humans.
Mon, Jul 29, 2019, 4:52pm (UTC -5)
As for the lasting impact on the story, I hope this is revisited. I wasn't 100% sure what the show was really trying to say. I get the social commentary, and perhaps something similar to what Pabst said could often be heard in the offices of Paramount, but I could not see the linkage with the end or the inclusion of the prophets / this being a vision.
I will admit to also feeling alarmed that the "it was all a dream" idea was carried forward into DS9's reality, suggesting none of it was real, or perhaps some of that TNG / Wesley / Traveller "time and space is thought" hokum. I might rewatch this at some point to see if I pick up on something I missed.
Tue, Jan 21, 2020, 9:14pm (UTC -5)
They make for an interesting comparison: hallucinations/visions experienced in a character's most vulnerable moments. The crucial difference is that Dukat's in the middle of a crisis of the ego, which his imagined characters serve only to attack or inflate. Sisko's crisis is far beyond just him: it's the entire situation around him. Both Bens find themselves at the mercy of the times they're in; Benny Russell fights for his dream, inspiring Benjamin Sisko to do the same.
At the beginning, before we topple headfirst into the 1950s, Sisko's existence as The Sisko We Know is in danger. What follows is a metafictional plea, making the case for why our world and his world both *need* Captain Sisko. Makes the case for representation in general, as something worth fighting for -- making sure that *everyone* gets all the benefits that fiction's potential can bring. Not just white people on the moon.
The acting in Benny's breakdown scene seems to be what makes or breaks this for a lot of people. I'm on the side of "makes", for what it's worth. It's so rare to see such absolute messy despair, unfiltered and unsanitised by the TV screen. I've been there, I've seen it in myself, and I see it in him.
In modern terms, Pabst is the "I'm not racist, but..." character. There's always the limit. In somewhat more contemporary terms (to the 1950s), he embodies the "white moderate". Martin Luther King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail in 1963 sums up this kind of person:
First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
This fits Pabst perfectly. Not, say, *disapproving* of what Benny wrote... but not wanting any tension, not wanting to play even a small role in facilitating what a black man has to say for fear of the upset it might cause. What King said about a "more convenient time" is something Pabst says directly: "stick it in a drawer for fifty years or however long it takes the human race to become colour-blind". It also fits some of the tensions we've seen with Odo: "order" rather than "justice". (And to go further on that theme, 'Rocks and Shoals' had Kira slowly come to realise she was becoming the person to say "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action".)
To go further with parallels to the characters of Deep Space Nine: Mal a few comments up makes good comparisons. I'll add something of my own about newsboy Nog -- in the minute or so he appears, he spills out his all his "badass war hero" fantasies, and... yeah, can't help worrying that this is what Nog's got going on as well. I think Weyoun as half of the racist cop duo is a bit miscast though: it doesn't really say anything about his character other than "villain" and "in a position of power, with the potential to hurt Sisko". Given that Weyoun's less violent and more just "middle manager", it'd probably work better as someone like Damar.
- Seeing all the black characters together in the café made me realise how *almost* everyone on this show played by a black actor is there because they're "attached to" Sisko. There's Sisko himself, Sisko's girlfriend, Sisko's son, Sisko's dad... And Then There's Worf.
- (speaking of which, Worf in full Klingon armour popping up to say "catch the game last night" -- I found that strangely hilarious)
- Man it feels weird to have Kasidy back after everything that's happened. Not even a mention of her between 'Rapture' and this? And people still don't care about her working for the Maquis? I guess no one really cares about the Maquis any more.
- Hearing the N-word on Star Trek *really* caught me off guard. Said by Fake Jake, though? Ehh... I've liked Cirroc Lofton, but he's kiiind of a weak link here.
- Can I just say how beautifully done this is, in general? It's a hell of a period piece, and every intercut between the "dreamer" and the "dream" (especially when Benny and Cassie are dancing) was incredible. Intentionally jarring at times, smoothly disorientating at others.
- Avery Brooks directing *and* playing the focal character. There's clearly been a hell of a lot of work and passion put into this from him. Hell of a testament to it.
Thu, Jan 23, 2020, 1:41pm (UTC -5)
Some nice comments there. I actually do think that Lofton playing a weak/sleazy character here is not accidental on the part of the writers, and it is in fact relevant regarding his character's (lack of) direction in the series. We could call it a fault or deliberate, but Jake Sisco seriously does not know what he wants, and sort of sits around doing nothing most of the time. That might come with the territory of being a writer/artist, but showing him in this episode as going down a wrong path is interesting.
Regarding Benny's breakdown near the end, yeah, this has been a major source of contention. Most people call it terrible overacting. I've been defending it, and usually my objection is that people have a very sanitized idea of what a breakdown is 'supposed to' look like. Real life can look strange and ugly. That being said, having recently watched the What We Left Behind documentary, it is made clear in the interviews (with Visitor especially, I think) that this was no 'acting thing' and that Brooks was so invested in the scene and the situation that he was really having a breakdown there. He did not get up after they stopped shooting, from what they say. So I maintain my position that this is a brillian turn for Brooks from start to finish, both directing and acting. For people who don't like it, hey, to each their own, but calling it bad acting is factually wrong.
Thu, Jan 23, 2020, 6:07pm (UTC -5)
That, and it very likely also comes with the territory of being in your late teens/early 20s. Rarely an age when people have everything figured out. He's a Federation kid with everything provided for him, who can afford to sort of drift between whatever looks interesting without needing a solid workable backup plan in order to stay alive...
... and then contrast that with Fifties Fake Jake, who might naturally be in the same sort of "drifting" state, but is also in a time and place where he needs money to keep on living. And crime is an easy solution to that. Easy to fall into and hard to fall out of, especially for someone who's mostly inclined to do nothing rather than make some serious effort to get out of this.
I dunno, I wrote that line originally thinking the acting wasn't quite convincing, but dammit now you've gone and got me thinking further about Actual Characterisation. Thanks, hahah.
As for Brooks... my first thought on that is one hell of a "damn". Wow. I have a lot to say about that.
It sort of opens up questions about exactly what counts as good or bad acting -- and what exactly acting even *is* or "should be". People do expect a certain degree of smoothness on TV. You won't have people overlapping in conversations, for clarity's sake. You won't have people lost for words, unless it's significant. Natural imperfections like that are normal to be part of real life, but on a screen, they can pull people out of what's being shown. People looking to impart a vision will generally try to smooth over anything "messy" that might detract from that, unless part of that vision *is* messy naturalism.
Hell, Visitor on set watching Benny/Brooks have his breakdown is a different context in itself: instead of watching something that's already been swept together and cleaned up for TV, she was in the same room as someone she worked with and knew. And watching him have a breakdown. But it's only natural to see the reality in it when you're there in real life. Happens automatically.
People watching TV are used to smoothness to the point where *that* is what is expected automatically. This is a very rare departure from that. That departure's gonna call attention to itself: it goes so sharply against the grain of the TV version of "natural" that it's impossible not to notice. Perhaps a different show with a different director might discourage this, opting instead for something that doesn't "break the flow".
But Brooks is the one calling the shots, on an even more fundamental than a director usually would. As director *and* actor, Brooks would have had complete creative control over his personal part in that scene -- what his vision of it was, and how he would bring it to be. And I'm getting the impression that this jarring break from conditioned TV smoothness very much *was* an inherent part of his vision. The all-out, heartachingly genuine approach is what he went for: completely embodying the character in himself, feeling what he feels and reacting how Benny Russell as a real human being would react. I think it's fantastic. He makes the imaginary story into something utterly real, blends the dreamer [the actor] and the dream [the character]. It's fiction, and yet -- as he so fervently insists -- *it's real*. For the themes of this story, it couldn't possibly be a more perfect approach.
So in essence, it's not just Benny Russell and Benjamin Sisko -- Avery Brooks is his own layer to this. It seems he's just as much part of this as his characters are, and he adds his own dimension.
Sat, Feb 22, 2020, 11:17am (UTC -5)
Snarking aside, it's an interesting episode, which pays homage to the pulp sci-fi which helped to spawn Star Trek while also showcasing some surprisingly hard hitting social commentary about USA racism (and to a lesser degree, sexism) in the 1950s.
All credit to DS9 for tackling this subject!
Mon, Apr 13, 2020, 8:57pm (UTC -5)
Bennie derives his inspiration for Odo, a security officer, from his boss, Douglas Pabst, who is obsessed with another type of security- the status quo. We've seen Odo before as someone who prioritizes order over morality- Odo obeyed the Cardassians in the same manner he obeys the Federation now. People like Douglas, the passive in society, walk the line they have been socialized to walk without thinking about why this line, or where they're going. "It's not about what's right, it's about what is."
His inspiration for Worf comes from Willie Hawkins (read: Willie Mays), one of the first African American baseball players. As is implied the episode, black Americans in this time were criminalized and portrayed as violent, just as they are (more covertly) today. Worf is the first Klingon is Starfleet, proving that his species, stereotyped as violent and bloodthirsty, can do the same job as his human counterparts.
The Father becomes his father. That one's simple enough.
Bennie wants to help Jimmy dream beyond his immediate circumstances and guide him down the right path. Bennie changes Jimmy into Jake Sisko, making the kid he sees as his son his real son. The fictionalized version of Jimmy is somebody that Bennie can mold, his fantasy version of how Jimmy would turn out under his guidance.
I cried watching the scene where Weyoun and Dukat beat Bennie. Great choices there by Brooks as actor and director there, as well as throughout. Watching episodes like these makes me want to study film in college, to be honest. I loved the shot panning from the Langston Hughes to the space station drawing to Bennie's typewriter, and so the story began. I don't find Bennie's breakdown unbelievable or over-acting on Brooks' part. Definitely in my top 10 DS9 episodes.
Could've gone with a more interesting adaptation of Dax. I feel like they didn't know where to fit her, so just made her a secretary. Good choice not to overcrowd the episode with more of the supporting cast, so that the episode didn't feel like a series of gimmicks. Nice, albeit strange choice to make the conniving Quark the morally upstanding one- although maybe this was just to put him at odds with Odo. The reimagined Bashir and O'Brien were more boring to me. I know that K.C. Hunter is probably in honor of D.C. Fontana, but I still didn't quite buy that Hunter, who remained passive, was Bennie's inspiration for a resistance fighter.
Meta re-telling of the power of Star Trek. You cannot destroy an idea. When Gene Roddenberry put Nichelle Nichols onscreen as Uhura, whose blackness is a non-issue much like Sisko's is, it changed the lives of thousands of young black kids. Think about Mae Jemison- a little black girl dreaming about being like Uhura then becoming an astronaut, becoming the idol of the next generation of little black girls. The dreamer and the dream. Bennie knows that the creation of Sisko will inspire even more people to see beyond the stars and technobabble on the screen and see themselves in those symbolic roles of power historically denied to marginalized groups. Replace the name 'Bennie' with 'Roddenberry' and you have a brilliant homage to the uncrushable ideas driving Star Trek to go where no one has gone before.
Thu, May 7, 2020, 12:15pm (UTC -5)
This shit happened. This shit is real, whether you think, as dipshit Rogue09 does, that "dwelling on racism is as bad as supporting it". Holy shit you tone deaf imbecile.
Wed, May 13, 2020, 11:03pm (UTC -5)
Since I have always used the same email address to post on this site, this is easily verifiable.
Sat, May 16, 2020, 6:00pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jun 1, 2020, 9:33am (UTC -5)
CALM NEVER GOTTEN ME A DAMN THING
Mon, Jun 1, 2020, 11:59am (UTC -5)
Wed, Jun 3, 2020, 1:52pm (UTC -5)
Let’s face it, this episode had a lot to say, and despite Brooks’ scene chewing and the questionable tie in to the overall plot (the opening scene DID mention Sisko wanting to step down), I believe it tells the story well. I think between examining where we were in the 1950s, and where I think all of us would like to be in the 2400s, where race is not an issue at all, it’s very prescient for where we are now. It shows us how far we’ve come and how far we still need to go. For all the progress we’ve made since the 50s, this powder keg we live on is still volatile... and one small group of racists, xenophobes, sexists, etc can cause the whole thing to blow.
I do think if this episode made you feel uncomortable, that can be a good thing. If you think it was beating you over the head, just be glad it wasn’t sticking it’s knee in your neck, because there are still real people being held down for real, and they’re more desperate than Bennie Russell.
Wed, Jun 3, 2020, 2:16pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jun 15, 2020, 3:08pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jun 16, 2020, 1:54pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jun 16, 2020, 1:56pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Jul 4, 2020, 12:01pm (UTC -5)
This shit happened. This shit is real, whether you think, as dipshit Rogue09 does, that "dwelling on racism is as bad as supporting it". Holy shit you tone deaf imbecile. "
Yeah, this, times a million. How out of touch with reality do you have to be to think the explicit racism in this episode wasn't (and still is) prevalent. Trekkies need to check their privilege and take a walk outside their gated community lol.
Sat, Jul 4, 2020, 12:54pm (UTC -5)
What's not to like?
Wed, Jul 29, 2020, 7:20pm (UTC -5)
Loved the high level theme and story. Loved the costumes, music, sets. Loved seeing Shimerman, Oberjonois, Dorn out of makeup. Loved the acting, Brooks was awesome!
Gave me goosebumps!
Sun, Aug 16, 2020, 8:35pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Sep 1, 2020, 6:55am (UTC -5)
And @Baby Madolorian, and @Mal you hit the nail on the head. A lot of people felt uncomfortable with the depictions of racism in this episode, and try to belittle and detract with their sanitized views and complaints on the portrayal of the racists, and advise how Brooks should act.
Ironically a lot of tension in unfolding in the US right now as I write this. But by all means, lets continue to sweep the issue under the carpet.
Tue, Sep 1, 2020, 12:46pm (UTC -5)
As for "sweeping the issue under the carpet", I don't see how what's currently going on is any better. The main problem remains the same: The actual issues are niether dealt with or discussed intelligently.
The current mayhem isn't solving anything. It doesen't actually DEAL with any racial issue. It's just people going crazy, vandalizing, and - recently - even killing one another.
And to make things worse: Those who try to talk reasonably about the situation and what can be done to improve it, are precisely those who are attacked and silenced and condemned as "racist".
May this excellent DS9 epsiode serve as a reminder, for what the actual issues really are.
Tue, Sep 1, 2020, 4:56pm (UTC -5)
We get it. You don't need to make the same speech anytime someone makes a passing reference to current events in a comment.
Wed, Sep 2, 2020, 12:03am (UTC -5)
There's absolutely no connection between my comment and your rant.
Seems like the only person in this thread who is trying to turn this discussion into yet another political quagmire is you. Maybe not intentionally, but by interpreting my comment as some kind of one-note silly political thing, that's what you're doing.
And I'm not going to bite.
I also respectfully ask anybody else whose fingers itch to respond with a political-slanted rant to either me or Sen-Sors: Please don't. We've already covered the political angle three times (at least) which is probably two times too many.
Wed, Sep 2, 2020, 3:47pm (UTC -5)
Just pointing out an obvious pattern.
Wed, Sep 2, 2020, 11:07pm (UTC -5)
You've made bold assertions which were meant to paint me in a ridiculous light, and completely failed to back those assertions up with any kind of evidence.
How did you get from the comment I've written here to "bitching about the radical left"?
What group, exactly, are you referring to, when you wrote "your side"?
And then there's this awful sarcastic remark:
"And of course MLK, Star Trek and the very concept of humanistic compassion itself are all on your side, all the time."
What an ugly and cynical misrepresentation of where I'm coming from. Jesus.
My suggestion to you:
Let it go. Nobody here is going to be impressed by your continued attempts of discrediting and trivializing the contents of another poster. In the long run, the only person you're going to discredit with such tactics is yourself.
Meanwhile, feel free to join the actual discussion, on this thread or elsewhere.
Just remember: Most of us are *not* interested in turning every discussion into a political battlefield. Even when talking about current events, there are many other perspectives to consider beyond the narrow "left vs right" thing that's consuming every other discussion on the internet.
Wed, Sep 2, 2020, 11:41pm (UTC -5)
I apologize for momentarily derailing this thread (I sure wish there was a private messaging option here at JammersReview).
Now let's go back to our regular program.
Mon, Sep 7, 2020, 8:27am (UTC -5)
Thu, Dec 17, 2020, 10:16pm (UTC -5)
But, this Aesop isn’t delivered with a sledgehammer, it’s delivered with a cement mixer filled with sledgehammers dropped from orbit.
And it’s delivering that Aesop to the choir. I mean, wtf? It’s like the episode assumes the viewers have absolutely zero knowledge or understanding of the issues, a situation highly unlikely for this show’s demographic.
Aside from that, the day after Benny is attacked, he is given dark glasses and a cane. This is a very strange choice because it makes it look like he was blinded.
Thu, Feb 11, 2021, 8:48am (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 11, 2021, 9:18am (UTC -5)
Sisko couldn't be the Emissary to the Prophets for the Bajoran people until he understood them truly. That included understanding the Bajoran experience of oppression through the occupation.
But as you say, a 24th Century human could not understand oppression. It was alien to Sisko, although he did possess perhaps a greater historical perspective owing to his status as a descendant of African American former slaves and perhaps his interest in history primed him more than others of his era.
Enter the Prophets, who as we know, exist outside of time and can influence all eras at once.
They arranged for Sisko, a 24th century man, to temporarily experience the life of a 20th Century scifi writer, namely Benny Russell. Both men shared a connection that transcended time with Benny coming to experience Sisko's life through his science fiction stories and Sisko coming to experience Benny's life through visions sent to him by the Prophets.
The purpose of this "bridge" between two men separated by 400 years was to bring something of Sisko into the 20th century (perhaps influencing the course of history) and to bring something of Russell into the 24th Century, permitting a 24th Century man to become an emissary to a people who he otherwise could never have understood.
The Prophets are capable of seeing all time and manipulating the outcome of events on a scale that was impossible for corporeal beings. They were, with this bridge, simultaneously influencing past and future events from both sides of the bridge.
Another theory I have, by the way, is that when the Prophets met Sisko in Season 1, they really didn't know him and that their meddling to create him (revealed in season 7) was them retconning their own history, in effect ensuring that they created the man that they needed to meet. This is whacko but it does accord a bit with the kind of temporal paradoxes we observed in other Trek outings, most notably All Good Things.
Thu, Feb 11, 2021, 10:30am (UTC -5)
That interesting theory brings into question a binary interpretation of Sisko's first meeting with the Prophets in Emissary: did he need to explain linear time to them, or did they need to explain to him (knowing full well what linear time is) that he in fact did not strictly live in linear time as he claimed. Which way we go with that supports one version of future-history or the other. If they actually had no idea what time was until he told them, then it would seriously suggest a paradoxical causality wherein they only learned later how to create the reality that was already created. If, however, the meeting with him was entirely to educate him and show him that he was living in both present and past at once, then it would easier to see that meeting as his introduction to how they think, which would imply they knew him already and needed to begin his training or whatever.
Thu, Feb 11, 2021, 11:27am (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 11, 2021, 12:07pm (UTC -5)
"The very premise of Star Trek is that racism had long since ceased to exist."
Yeah, in the Federation. Not in the Galaxy. Romulans and Klingons are fairly racist.
Thu, Feb 11, 2021, 12:19pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 12, 2021, 12:33pm (UTC -5)
How so? Yes he knows Kira and some of the others, but had he even been to Bajor before getting this assignment? Did he witness first-hand what it was like living on Bajor during the occupation? Knowing some people and hearing them talk about their experiences doesn't automatically make someone familiar with what it was actually like versus what they were told.
"And yes, racism is long gone in the Federation, which means that Sisko has no emotional connection to it at ALL, nor does any family member in his memory, his father's memory, or his father's father's father's memory. That's why Benny's breakdown makes no sense."
You're implying that Sisko has some sort of agency in this scenario, but I don't think he does. Benny just happens to look like Sisko, and Benny's experiences are witnessed or conveyed to Sisko, but Sisko isn't the one in the situation so his lack of experience with racism is irrelevant. That's kind of the point actually, if you go with Jason R's theory.
Sun, Feb 14, 2021, 2:11am (UTC -5)
In my experience, cops often* come off like shady, two-dimensional characters in real life (despite, I'm sure, being complex humans with loved ones and everything) because they often* treat black people like shit for absolutely no reason and they act differently with us. Sisko's beating wasn't over the top as a storytelling technique; it was a completely believable representation of what life was like in that era.
Read "The Ethics of Living Jim Crow" (Richard Wright)
Read "A Report from Occupied Territory" (James Baldwin)
Hell, just get close enough to a black person that they trust you will not tell them they're full of shit if they open up to you about stuff that's happened to them. I started getting stopped and frisked by police at 13. For jogging. My father was on a cross-country trip in I think 2005, and a gun-caressing sheriff pulled him over for "driving too nice of a car for a n*****" and told him to get out of the area by nightfall. I know people who have been beaten. If you're white, you probably don't know the extent or frequency of this stuff or it seems unbelievable or there's always a plausible excuse for it. That's how racism is supposed to work, guys. That's how it keeps happening.
*often as in NOT EVERY SINGLE COP, not necessarily your dad, your friend, your neighbor...
Anyway, two things I really appreciated from this episode:
-Russell's (also very believable, very vulnerable) breakdown and Shimmerman's look of shock, discomfort, and compassion in the background. I think Brooks really started crying during it? I would believe it. I also cried starting when he said, "I am a human being, damn it."
-Russell also being fairly cowed and meek in most areas of his life. It's interesting to think about whether he would have a personality like Sisko's if he hadn't been forced to deal with humiliation and forced mediocrity. What a waste.
Also, very interesting that people pointed out that Kira/Kay's issues were very much left in the background. I would love it if that sexism were intentional, but I'm not sure if it is, and even if so, they didn't highlight it very well. I agree that that's a huge minus.
Another small nitpick if that I don't think Russell would have known about Zora Neale Hurston or used her as an example of
a great black writer. Her work was obscure for decades until Alice Walker dug her up as a love-project in 1975 (thank god).
Sun, Feb 14, 2021, 3:50am (UTC -5)
'I take out a handkerchief and wipe my face. “ But this man didn’t like me. I guess I didn't seem grateful enough, wasn’t enough like my father, what he thought my father was. And I couldn't get used to the town again, I’d been away too long, I hated it. It’s a terrible town, anyway, the whole thing looks as though it’s been built around a jailhouse. There’s a room in the courthouse, a room where they beat you up. Maybe you're walking along the street one night, it’s usually at night, but it happens in the daytime, too. And the police car comes up behind you and the cop says, Hey, boy. Come on over here. So you go on over. He says, Boy, I believe you drunk. And, you see, if you say, No, no sir, he’ll beat you because you’re calling him a liar. And if you say anything else, unless it’s something to make him laugh, he’ll take you in and beat you, just for fun. The trick is to think of some way for them to have their fun without beating you up.”
The street lights of Paris click on and turn all the green leaves silver. “ Or to go along with the ways they dream up. And they’ll do anything, anything at all, to prove that you’re no better than a dog and to make you feel like one.'
-from This Morning, This Evening, So Soon (1960) by Baldwin
Sun, Feb 14, 2021, 12:13pm (UTC -5)
Oh absolutely, he went full method in that scene. I think he even worried the other cast members a bit because they didn't realize how big it was going to be.
Sun, Feb 14, 2021, 7:30pm (UTC -5)
Yeah, it sure looked like it, man. And I'm really glad he did. Even the first time I watched this scene, I was shaken and I wondered if he was having an intense emotional reaction to the script--because it went on so uncomfortably long and looked exactly like a real nervous breakdown, with the howling, repeating himself, etc. Unfortunate that a viewer might think that was corny, cause he nailed it. Mental collapse looks pretty embarrassing IRL, lol
Thu, Mar 4, 2021, 7:30am (UTC -5)
Mon, May 31, 2021, 10:15am (UTC -5)
Apparently, Ira Behr wanted wanted this episode to be the set up for the series finale, that in fact DS9 was all just someone's dream ....
Mon, May 31, 2021, 2:40pm (UTC -5)
>Apparently, Ira Behr wanted wanted this episode to be the set up for the series finale, that in fact DS9 was all just someone's dream ....
I think that would have made a good final episode (better than what we got). In a similar sense I wish the final episode of Buffy was the one where she's in a mental institution and we're left wondering whether it was real or not.
Final score for Far Beyond the Stars is 7/10.
Sat, Jul 10, 2021, 1:47pm (UTC -5)
It's also worth noting that was probably the first scifi show that could field a group of black actors out of the regular and recurring characters to play the scenes set in Harlem.
Fenn's comment last year with the MLK quote and the way it it fits for Odo as well as Pabst is brilliant. It also alludes to something that the episode did particularly well, which is showing racism as a systemic problem, rather than the fault of a few individuals, which is what a lot of US media was doing when talking about racism and is still doing now.
I feel like the discussion about Brooks' acting in the breakdown scene is irrelevant, largely because how most people react to it depends on how they react to the episode as a whole. Bluntly: like the ep? Praise Brooks' acting. Don't like it? Say it destroyed the whole story.
The anecdote about Brooks getting lost in the part and actually breaking down was really interesting (and touching), but it points out that we react to that scene based on how we view things outside the story itself--which everyone does.
I love this episode for how it plays with reality, how it talks about race, what it means within the ST canon. But this rewatch reminded me how much I *like* this episode: the dialogue and characterization, the story (which is, thank god, not allegory), the set decoration and costuming.
I also like that it's still got an active thread here 14 years on. Because the episode is iconic and Jammer is amazing..
Mon, Aug 2, 2021, 11:39am (UTC -5)
Now, having said that. This episode has always been one of my all time favorites of the DS9 series, and it is in part because it merges sci-fi and reality so effortlessly. Yes, it was great to see all of my favorites out of uniform and makeup, and yes, it was an amazing look at what life was like for African Americans and women in the 50s - but the one thing that I noticed that people commented on was Avery Brooks’ mental breakdown, and how it was “too much”.
To which I say: was it?
It was hard to watch, wasn’t it? Painful, almost, because it was SOOOOOO dramatic, right? And I think that’s exactly
WHY he did it, and why he overacted it. It’s very easy to look away when a problem doesn’t affect you. Brooks’ portrayal of Russell’s breakdown was uncomfortable to watch, but for all of the reasons that it SHOULD have been: he’s a person. A real person, with dreams, that deserve to be realized. And when you look at us, in 2021, 23 plus years after this episode was originally aired, still struggling to see people of color as real people, with real dreams, that deserve to be realized…kinda makes you wonder if he overacted that scene after all, doesn’t it?
This episode was a classic. DS9 remains one of my favorite in the Star Trek franchise, and I hope that maybe, by the time we reach the 24th century…that we’ll have the kind of racial harmony that we see throughout DS9, in real life.
Mon, Aug 2, 2021, 11:42am (UTC -5)
Precisely. Nervous breakdowns look exactly like how Brooks acted it, actually
Mon, Aug 2, 2021, 11:48am (UTC -5)
Well, then. Paints everything in an even stronger light.
Mon, Aug 2, 2021, 1:01pm (UTC -5)
I re-watched the "What We Left Behind" documentary over the weekend (which incidentally is freely available on YouTube now https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHixW9PLsAc ) and that's where it was mentioned that Brooks went all-in on that breakdown. There was also some discussion about whether he should direct or not, because usually they don't like to do that, but in this case it made sense.
From Memory-Alpha, quoting "What We Left Behind":
First Assistant Director Lou Race recalled shooting the scene; "He falls to the floor, and I'm saying, 'Well, I gotta say cut. But how long should I let this go on?'" Nana Visitor related, "They called cut, and he's… not coming out, and I know what that feels like as an actor. You're gone, and he was… he was gone." Added Lou Race, "If I'd stood there for half an hour, I think he would have kept on. He was very committed to that part and very committed to that scene."
Mon, Aug 2, 2021, 9:55pm (UTC -5)
That’s why it makes it even more profound his performance. I keep seeing a bunch of comments on how he was overacting and things - but if at some point, he stopped acting and it became real…it’s an even more poignant scene.
I have to watch the documentary now - I’d love to hear more about what the actors and actresses say now
Sat, Oct 16, 2021, 8:54pm (UTC -5)
Some of you got into the wrong franchise or don't know what it's about. How embarrassing.
Thu, Oct 28, 2021, 12:38pm (UTC -5)
"Things I learned today: Avery Brooks wasn’t acting when he broke down."
I was hoping someone would point this out. Initially, I couldn't watch Benny's breakdown at the end, because it looked and sounded so fake, but when I learned that Brooks actually did break down while performing the scene, that helped a great deal. His gasps and line delivery may seem over-the-top, but another thing I've learned over the years is that Brooks has a unique way of speaking and acting, so what we see is actually how HE breaks down. I imagine it's different for everyone.
I also believe that his crisis reached a fever pitch at that point in the episode, because deep down, he knew that Benjamin Sisko and the more enlightened world he inhabited actually did exist. The tragedy about Benny is that he's the only one who knows it.
Wed, Dec 1, 2021, 11:54am (UTC -5)
I like Guinan's lines in Measure of Man. She discribed using androids doing dangerous work as slavery, and Guinan's actress was a black woman. This is an excellent example of combining fictional charactor and reality. It makes sense both inside and outside the show.
Avery Brooks's performance didn't bother me though. And I have some difficulties in recognizing faces, and I didn't realise Quark, Odo was also part of the magazine until I read the comments. It's a bit pitty that I didn't enjoy seeing them without make up.
By the way, I like the quote "You are a dreamer, and a dream." It's kind of romantic.
Mon, Dec 13, 2021, 4:44pm (UTC -5)
"Far Beyond the Stars" does something to rehabilitate the season. It feels classy, and classic, evocative of TOS at its most brazen. Unlike similar episodes, it also wastes little time "throwing" Sisko back into the past, and is mercifully free of technobabble.
For me, the best thing about the episode is its little sketch of early science fiction communities. Watching this episode, you can imagine John W. Campbell and Asimov pitching stories to one another in the post-war years (Campbell's rumored racism may have been an influence on the the "pragmatically racist" mag owners in this episode). It also reminds me of A E van Vogt, an early short-story writer who worked for scifi magazines like the one depicted here, and whose "The Voyage of the Space Beagle" is a kind of proto-Star Trek (and is rumored to have influenced Roddenberry).
This episode portrays the life of a black science fiction writer during the Golden Age of SF. Is this anachronistic? I can't think of any major black SF writers working for SF magazines during this period (Octavia Butler and Sam Delaney started in the 1960s and 80s, but this episode is set in 1950). You had black authors like Edward Johnson writing novel-length utopian SF in the 1940s, but I'm not aware of any publishing in the major mags of the time. Perhaps they used aliases, which female SF writers typically did.
Of course this is all irrelevant anyway; the very difficulty of being a black SF writer in the 1950s is the point of the episode.
I thought the episode's final scene was visually quite beautiful, as were the retro drawings of DS9. Some complain that the episode is "too heavy handed", but that never bothered me. It's the kind of story that needs to go big.
Mon, Dec 13, 2021, 11:33pm (UTC -5)
Nice review of a good good episode. Never thought I'd see the name AE van Vogt pop up. A great short story man from the age of pulp.
Thu, Dec 30, 2021, 10:52am (UTC -5)
Thu, Jan 13, 2022, 7:03pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Jan 21, 2022, 5:39am (UTC -5)
Wed, Mar 2, 2022, 11:32am (UTC -5)
Tue, Mar 22, 2022, 12:50pm (UTC -5)
In an earlier episode with the Bell Riots, they relate the issue of Earth's past to present conditions and why the event was so pivotal to Trek Earth history. Later Nog talks about how humanity has changed in a few hundred years compared to the Ferengi.
In a later episode about the casino holoprogram, Sisko and Yates have a discussion about whether its okay for the program to be "historically inaccurate" and they talk about a treknology (holodeck) and the way things are for Earth and for black people.
These are examples of an episode tackling a social issue but relating it to the Trek setting. FBTS doesnt really bother to try and do that, which maybe is too much to ask for 43 minutes of runtime, but causes the episode to stick out and suffer.
In this episode there's...nothing. No bond tying it to DS9, or the War, or Federation, or anything. It's an unfortunate omission.
Tue, Mar 22, 2022, 9:14pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Aug 18, 2022, 7:45pm (UTC -5)
I love the production of this episode. It must have been a great deal of fun to create this latest alternate universe for all the characters. And seeing Auberjonois, Shimerman, Dorn, Aliamo, Combs, Hertzler, and Eisenberg performing without their "alien" makeup is striking.
As Jammer implies in his review, the layers of illusion and reality addressed in this episode are captivating. The actors are real people who were living in the late 20th Century, but whom we, the audience identify as fictional characters in the 24th Century who are now presented as entirely new figures in a dream set in the mid-20th Centtury. But no dedicated DS9 fan can watch this episode without thinking, "Oh there's Odo, and Bashir and Quark and Kira and Dax .. how is Jake going to appear?" And so on.
I think of the TNG episode "Elementary, Dear Data" in which playing out a Sherlock Holmes fantasy, Geordi creates a version of Moriarty who becomes self-aware. Picard gives Moriarty a fashion of immortality by storing his program in the computer. At the end, there are comments about how the program can be stored in a box might be accessed from time to time - it was blatant reference to the fact that TNG was itself a TV show. The same element is here -- all of DS9 is an illusion. At the time, "Starfleet" was a bunch of models stored in plywood boxes in a warehouse at Paramount, and so on. The self-referencing in this episode is superb.
It's like "Vertigo" in which Hitchcock dramatically referenced his own work as a director -- "Did he train you? Did he rehearse you? Did he tell you exactly what to do and what to say?" while using Kim Novak to play Madeline who had posed as the wife but in turn possessed by the ghost of the dead Carlotta. These films and shows: they are all illusions, layers and layers of them. "Far Beyond the Stars" is a direct comment on that. It's one of the best episodes of DS9 which makes it one of the best in the entire history of the franchise.
Thu, Aug 18, 2022, 7:54pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Sep 22, 2022, 6:16am (UTC -5)
As far as "social commentary" (*barf*), as somebody remarked, racism was on life support until assorted race-hustlers--who'd made a career out of race-baiting and were realizing their livelihood was about to go down the can--decided to whip up hysteria and make us all uber race-conscious. We'd elected a black President, twice, but suddenly, in the mid-2010s or so, the "opinion-formers" declared the entire country to be one giant, living monument to "white supremacy." I am SO sick and tired of blue-haired freaks whining about everything, including the desk lamp, being "oppressive," "racist," "sexist," omni-phobic, and everything-ist. Frack off.
Regarding the episode, I could care less how insightful or incisive the "social commentary" is. I don't watch a science fiction show set in the 24th century to be shown the hallucinations a character has about him being in the 20th century.
Fri, Sep 23, 2022, 3:27am (UTC -5)
Fri, Sep 23, 2022, 10:20am (UTC -5)
There goes my point over Kkona's head. Didn't even ruffle his/her/its/their/xir/dolphinself/sdfadsfpoifpoqcish hair.
Racism existed in the 1950s!?! Noooooooooooooooooooooooh!!! No way, maing! Well, I'll be! Slap my ass and call me Susan, tell you 'hat!
My POINT, if you please, was that if I want an expose about racism in the 1950s, I'll watch a show like "I'll Fly Away," which I did and I ADORED, or any of the literally thousands of pictures or series set in that era. It's not what I want from a sci-fi show set in the 24th century, certainly not by way of a lazy head-trip of a show's character (whom I dislike anyway: no, not because he's blaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack or a person of colooooooooooooooorrrrrrrrrrrr but because he has less charisma that the lint wrapped around a roller-pin of a 1990s' computer mouse).
Fri, Sep 23, 2022, 4:23pm (UTC -5)
No need to break out the caps lock key. You aren’t making a point. You are screaming. And at the top of your voice, as Spencer Tracy once said. I myself am not in favor of cancel culture, but I don’t scream at those with different views. I don’t find caterwauling to be an enjoyable activity. A person can disagree, with being disagreeable
Sat, Sep 24, 2022, 8:18am (UTC -5)
Sat, Sep 24, 2022, 11:14am (UTC -5)
Not at all. Just three words were all-capped. Defo not "screaming." Let's say I'm animated, just like in real life. It doesn't gel well with people from "northern" cultures but the Mediterranean types get me 😊
Sun, Oct 30, 2022, 11:28pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Nov 13, 2022, 2:34pm (UTC -5)
I’m not sure what they were trying to do with Colm Meaney’s stammering, but it didn’t work for me. Mark Alaimo gets stuck portraying the kind of stock character DS9 finally allowed him to veer away from (and show us his real acting chops). We really could have used Andrew Robinson in this ensemble.
Production values for a period piece were exceptional and I don’t know the backstory for this episode’s inspiration, but a tighter integration to the events of the Dominion War, the recent revelation of Dukat’s recent racist/xenophobic hatred against the Bajorans, and The Prophets’ visions would have made this a stronger entry for me.
Tue, Jan 10, 2023, 6:19am (UTC -5)
And I think this episode does perhaps suffer from being part of a series that had a greater focus on long term-story telling, and perhaps needed a greater link to the Dominion War. On a base reading, it looks like a simple story of the week.
That being said, I still do believe this episode works on both fronts, and is still my favourite episode in DS9 and Star Trek as a whole.
I love the idea of a sci-fi show focusing on the beginnings of it's medium. The nod to its history. The belief in the equality and progress of future humans is shared by most sci-fi writers, regardless of background. It may be challenged by hardship, selfishness and avarice, by prejudice and closed minds, but the belief that we will eventually rise above these, is so powerful to me, and something this era of Trek has always believed in.
And Benny is one of these men. A man, whose ancestors have lived as slaves, who currently experiences harsh racism and violence, still believes that one day a Black man will be captain. It's a powerful message now, just as it was when this episode aired.
Connecting into the wider story, I don't believe it's hard to see the parallels between Benny and Sisko. The Prophets are showing Sisko that his people, perhaps even his direct ancestors, once experienced great violence, prejudice, even collaborators who saw great evil and did nothing.
And of course, Sisko experiences this too. The Founders themselves think of themselves as the great rulers of the universe, as the racist whites did in Benny's time, who sought to bring lesser beings under their heel. Neither did this peacefully, they did this through violence, while also lessening the other 'species'.
But yet, Benny resisted. When his great vision, his great belief, was shattered, he refused to kneel. Sisko must do the same. All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing, after all. It is significant that 'In the Pale Moonlight' occurs soon afterwards, that Sisko has turned into a man so desperate that he will break his own principles.
Sisko and Benny can't differentiate themselves, because they are fighting the same fight in different times. Both feel powerless in the face of the oppressors, and yet, they fight on. They are each others dream, Benny's of a man living in a more equal society, Sisko's of a man who can fight for his beliefs. Both are in impossible situations. But as we know, things get better.
In Benny's world, our world, a hopeful future occurs, where the human race carries on, and Sisko can be captain in a society with no prejudice, although in our world, we have not seen if this happens. In Sisko's future, the world of Star Trek, the Dominion fails, and both they and the Cardassians have a hopeful future of peace and acceptance, although the Federation does not see this happen.
Our future lies far beyond the stars. We do not know if our optimistic future will happen, and neither does Sisko. But we must hope, and fight, for a future in which it does.
Tue, Jan 10, 2023, 8:11am (UTC -5)
For context, Sisko is shown to have great interest in history, is very knowledgeable about the 20th and 21th century and collects African art. He also likes to cook Creole food. So there is quite a bit of set up for him.
Tue, Jan 10, 2023, 12:28pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jan 24, 2023, 1:28pm (UTC -5)
And totally insane even it wasn't.
"Also, this episode serves to remind us that segregation was not that long ago."
Don't worry. Race baiters like you will still be around in 3023 to remind us.
Wed, Jan 25, 2023, 8:54pm (UTC -5)
And totally insane even it wasn't.
"Also, this episode serves to remind us that [reactionary posts] were not that long ago."
Don't worry. [Reactionaries] like you will still be around in 3023 to remind us.
Wed, Feb 15, 2023, 4:50pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 22, 2023, 11:00am (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 11, 2023, 3:41pm (UTC -5)
We should feel uncomfortable because time is passing and the vision that Star Trek offers of equity can only be achieved when we face the racism in ourselves and our society and change both.
That discomfort is apparent when a huge chunk of the comments here are about LGBTQ issues rather than the elements in this story.
And I don’t think Avery Brooks is overacting—if you think that, you’ve never experienced or witnessed anguish. Anguish is visceral…
So this cis, white, straight woman says thank you for teaching me to look inward so that I can see the racism that privileged me my whole life. And it motivates me to help other write people to see ourselves more clearly. We can’t changeable system if we can’t see it.
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