Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

“It's Only a Paper Moon”

3.5 stars.

Air date: 12/28/1998
Teleplay by Ronald D. Moore
Story by David Mack & John J. Ordover
Directed by Anson Williams

"How can hiding in one of Julian's adolescent programs be a good sign?"
"It could be worse; he could be hiding in the Alamo program."
"Or that ridiculous secret agent program."
"Or that stupid Viking program."

— Quark, Jake, Leeta, and Rom, with Julian on defense

Review Text

Nutshell: An engaging and realistic follow-up story of combat consequences.

Invigorating, how Nog has grown as a character since this series began. His Starfleet path has not only been well documented by an abundance of episodes, but the transition has been one that strikes me as gradual and realistic. It's the sort of growth that makes his character a well-defined person rather than something to drive a plot for an hour. Five years ago if you had told me Nog would become this solid a character, I would've thought you were crazy. (What's interesting and somewhat worrying is that Nog these days gets so much more screen time and meatier stories than Jake. Something needs to be done about the Jake-as-cipher problem—and soon.)

"It's Only a Paper Moon" is an episode that proves DS9 still remembers how to deal with consequences. In this case, we see how the loss of Nog's leg in "The Siege of AR-558" has affected him. Sure, 24th-century medicine has replaced it, but the emotional scars are still there, and Nog is simply not ready to dive back into reality.

An episode like "Paper Moon" requires little synopsis. The plot is simple: Nog retreats into the holosuite, where he finds comfort in Vic Fontaine's fantasy world. Living in a fantasy helps his recovery process (his psychological limp begins to go away, for example), but before long Nog finds that he's so caught up in helping Vic run his holographic lounge that he doesn't want to leave. His clinging to fantasy shows the early stages of a dependence upon it.

A lot of this story's success boils down to good sense. It's hard to underline moments of sensibility without simply pointing to them and saying, "Look—that's sensible," so I'll take the easy way out and do just that.

First was the good use of Dax as a counselor. If there ever were a counselor's situation on DS9, this is it. But I appreciated the fact that Nog was utterly sick of talking about his feelings to Starfleet shrinks. I imagine that he'd been over it and over it by this point, so Dax's brief, unsuccessful interview was a sensible idea that ultimately had a believable outcome.

Next was the good use of Jake, something we need to see a lot more of (and soon, please). Jake has been patient with Nog, who refuses to let other people reach out to help him. But Jake just can't take it anymore: Listening to his roommate play a recording of Vic singing "I'll Be Seeing You" over and over and over again is enough to drive him up a wall. (Don't they have headphones in the 24th century?) The idea of Nog seeking comfort in Vic's "I'll Be Seeing You" is particularly real; it seems to me that Nog is reliving a life-changing moment in his mind over and over again, trying—and failing—to come to terms with it.

Later, after Nog retreats into the holosuite to hear Vic sing the song "live," Jake decides to try to be a nice guy and visit his friend. He brings with him a date for a night of entertainment at Vic's lounge. He goes to get drinks, and by the time he gets back, Nog has twisted everything she has said into some sort of inquisitive comment about his artificial leg. When Jake tries to straighten things out, Nog tells them both to leave. Then he dumps the table over and slugs Jake.

It's about here that it becomes clear Nog is no longer the Nog of before "Siege of AR-588." He lost his leg, but he also lost a great deal of inner peace. And no one can sort it out but him.

Maybe Vic can help him. Granted, Vic doesn't seem like the most obvious candidate to work someone through a post-traumatic episode—and it would be nice to see Ezri in action as counselor—but the story has already told us that in Nog's mind he's past the point of counseling. Vic is the break from reality; and if there's one thing that Nog perhaps has had too much of, it's reality.

There have been times in the past where I've said the use of Vic has come across as too incidental, seeming like unnecessary filler. That certainly isn't the case here. Vic is the perfect dramatic device for this story. Even when his cameos have seemed gratuitous, Vic has represented an escape from the daily grind of war, which is exactly what he provides here. His musical numbers are appropriate, especially considering the lyrics as applied to the situation.

What also works is the story's juxtaposition of fantasy and reality as concepts of our perception. Losing oneself in the fantasy world of holodecks has long been considered something of a danger in the Trek universe (dating all the way back to Lt. Barclay in the TNG days) and here, Ron Moore quietly comments on the nature of fantasy worlds, particularly in one scene that subtly scrutinizes the consequences of violence in reality versus in fantasy: Nog watching the movie Shane on television is appropriate on several levels, most importantly the level that has Nog wondering how Shane can act as if nothing has happened right after he's been shot. The very simple answer: no realistic consequences.

Of course, one cannot avoid the consequences of reality forever, and Ezri's clever and timely visit to Vic (the psychiatrist uses a cleverly worded technique to prod the hologram into realizing Nog needs to return to his life) drives home the point to Vic that Nog cannot hide forever. Next it becomes Vic's job to drive the point home to Nog. The way Vic does this is with a sympathetic but pragmatic approach that is appropriate for the situation and in tune with Vic's direct-approach personality.

And speaking of the nature of reality, another mysterious and challenging question of "Paper Moon" is of course the same question I find myself at times asking about Voyager's Doctor: At what point is an artificial entity sentient? Is Vic growing beyond his program? What are the consequences of that? "Paper Moon" asks some of these questions, but prefers a mystery and does not supply us with the answers. (Nog: "When you sleep, do you dream?" Vic: "Good night, kid.") It's just as well; I don't think I'd want definite concrete answers trying to explain such complex questions. I appreciated, however, the idea of Nog's extended visit giving Vic the chance to "live a life" in the holosuite, which only serves to reinforce Vic's understanding of why Nog has to get back to reality.

I also very much liked the use of (gasp!) Rom and Leeta. For once, they're treated as people rather than bad comic caricatures. When they come to visit Nog, there's an understated but genuine sense of concern for his well-being. (It's amazing how un-annoying these two can be when they're toned down to a sensible level. That's all I've ever asked for.) All the supporting characters come off well simply because they're allowed to react realistically to Nog's situation.

But what this is really about is Nog, whose course as a character has been charted with confidence and realism. It comes as no surprise that by the end of the story he is ready to face his troubles rather than hide from them, and when he does, it rings true. He confesses how he was eager to prove himself when the war started—which he was. He explains how he was convinced that even though people were dying all around him, he was sure it wouldn't happen to him—which youthful naivete can do. And he knows that a taste of his own mortality has changed him—which it has. His role in life feels different to him. He's wiser and, as he himself says, feels older once he has returned to duty.

All of this is vivid, believable character evolution—something we suspect could have happened all along, and something that makes perfect sense in retrospect. The best characters are the ones that change and learn over the years, and the writers have done a particularly good job of realizing that through Nog. "It's Only a Paper Moon" is one of the most effective "small" DS9 stories in quite some time.

Next week: Ezri's homecoming.

Previous episode: Covenant
Next episode: Prodigal Daughter

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Comment Section

183 comments on this post

    What always impressed me about DSN is the ability of the show to make minor supporting characters into ones more interesting than the major characters on Voyager, Enterprise and TNG. The mere fact that such an incredibly GOOD episode as this one was built around Vic and Nog tells you a lot about the ability of this show to really do a good job on the characterizations.

    Yeah, this is definitely one of my all-time favorites on Deep Space Nine, and a good example of why I love the show so much.

    Watching Jake get mad with Nog over constant playing of the song made me think. Are headphones a thing of the past in the future. You'd think you could have a song beamed into your head.

    A very good and very necessary episode that was true to the characters and to realism in acknowledgement of the Nog's impossibility to simply "jump back in the action".

    Let me add one more thing: While I absolutely concur with Chris Swanson in most he wrote, I am not ready to compare the well acted and well scripted TNG main characters to the hollow ones in Voyager and Enterprise (even they had good ones, though!).

    I would have given this four stars -- easily one of the best DS9 episodes, with an excellent choice of title to boot.

    I would like to add to Chris's comment about the development of DS9's supporting cast. Not only were they well development and used effectivly (mostly). Aside from that, its a testement to the shows producers and writers that they could build a whole episode around two guest stars and the audience would barely notice. Both Vic & Nog are such good characters that I didn't even think about the fact that they aren't main cast members.

    Btw, there was an episode of TNG called "Lower Decks" where the focus was on the guest stars but nothing as good as this episode.

    I have to admit that I really enjoyed this ep! There's no question that it's probably the most effective holosuite/holodeck program since TNG's "Elementary, Dear Data".

    By the way, in regards to the query regarding Nog not using headphones: It's probably safe to say that headphones/earbuds would be extremely dangerous for a Ferengi's ears. Their ears are so sensitive it would probably be difficult to find a safe volume level without compressing the dynamics of the music to the point that it wouldn't be representative of the source.

    The same logic would suggest he could have the volume of the music low enough that he could hear it fine while a human couldn't. In any case it was purely to fit the script. I doubt they really considered headphones and their usage by Ferengi. It wasn't a serious remark by me Joseph.

    Love this episode. As much as I disliked the introduction of Vic, this episode made it all worthwhile. Even thinking about Nog's breakdown at the end makes me a bit teary- actually watching it makes me lose it completely. Wonderfully done.

    If something like what happened to Nog in "Siege of AR-...whatever" on Voyager, it would've been forgotten. You can see elements of BSG shining through in this episode.


    Actually, you can see more then just nBSG shining through. There is also Caprica:

    TA: So this whole city is like a Game?

    Gamer: Yeah. It's kinda like a different version of Caprica City. They update it so it matches...

    TA: OK, what's the object of the game?

    Gamer: It's a mystery. It's almost like, figuring out the object of the game *is* the object of the game. But we think it's about getting things that convert into points, like money, or weapons -

    TA: So no one's ever finished it? Or won it?

    Gamer: Not yet. There's this thing - when you die in the game, you're out - you can't ever come back...

    Ron Moore is clearly concerned about people getting lost in virtual worlds - avoiding the real world - and wasting away their lives.

    As no-one has said it so far, I thnk we should recognise the terrific acting by Aron Eisenberg who really made it easy to believe in Nog's internal torment.

    "It's Only a Paper Moon" is a great DS9 episode, I really liked this one. It not only has a "feel-good" touch, but it strikes the right chord on a number of "serious" subjects such as the reality of war, the trauma of losing a limb (was Nog experiencing something similar to phantom limb problems?), and obviously the danger of substituting a fantasy world with reality.

    On that last topic, I would have found interesting to have Dr. Bashir expose us to some statistics on how frequent holodeck-addiction is. I can't remember if this was ever covered during the TNG Barclay episodes, but it certainly makes a worthwhile matter for consideration. If a holodeck can so easily replace reality in even the most subtle ways, why not create a program representing ideal life and live in it forever? "Because it's not real" isn't a sufficient argument, as I am sure many people would be willing to forget that little detail, especially if their real life is a miserable one.

    I also completely agree with Jammer on topic of hologram sentience (the conversation between Nog and Vic on dreaming made me think of Philip K. Dick and his "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" novel -which of course gave rise to Blade Runner). Given his degree of advancement, his liberties (he can turn himself off), and the fact he is consciously aware to be a hologram, I would say Vic Fontaine has as much right to exist than Voyager's Doctor. Star Trek Voyager obviously explores that area in much more detail and to greater satisfaction.

    Once again: great job Ron D. Moore.

    Although I myself have never faced combat, I thought the "key" scene of the episode was not as powerful as it could have been. It just seemed too simple, and his almost immediate recovery in the next scene seemed too easy. Vic also seemed a little TOO real at times. But it's still a good episode and I'm glad they took the time to show Nog's recovery.

    I met Aron Eisenberg in Las Vegas this summer and thanked him on behalf of veterans for his sensitive work in this episode, which I had initially feared might be a cliched, superficial handling of a serious issue. I'm sure I'm not the only veteran who found this ep sympathetic and very moving. Eisenberg seemed equally moved by my cpmments to him. Belated kudos also to Anson Williams and the writers for this DS9 look at an age-old problem.

    Tiny Tim comes home...

    Someone had better explain to me why every species and person in the 24th century seems to get something from corny music from the early 20th on earth.

    I'm being too harsh I suppose, this was a decent episode. I generally can't stand Jake or Nog, but each was tolerable here and Nog was even compelling at times.

    I'm a little concerned that Starfleet goes to such lengths for the medical leave of one Ensign, but can't seem to find replacement personel for ARR-5...whatever... When it suits the writers, they take every advantage afforded by the enlightenment principal the Federation embodies. However, in this case it as taken for a good end. The montage was too much--they're always, always corny and a cheat for the writers avoiding writing the dialogue (in this case it's also a prequel to the crappy finale).

    The weakness in the story has to do with Vic...the opportunity here was for the hologram to learn something about what it means to be a real person from Nog, dealing with a very real dilemma. Instead, he simply possesses all the wisdom and ability of a Guinan via virtue of some programmer (not to mention, he has ambition, passion and a desire for's unsettling).

    A side comment...why is it in this progressive Universe, Jake and Sisko's love interests all have to be black? It's pretty noticeable and a little's as though the script says "Jake brings in a girlfriend" and the staffer says "find a black girl then"...I don't like it one bit.

    Overall, it was a good episode. The fact that it's a followup to another episode is inconsequential, it stands alone as a decent piece of character work. I can't help noticing that as usual, DS9's "periphery" characters (Nog, Garak, Dukat, Weyoun, etc) are better developed, drawn and acted than the regulars.

    So how does holographic food (like the popcorn Nog ate) work...does the body digest it and pass it? Or was Nog getting real meals somehow? And shouldn't Odo have clapped the Bajoran way at the beginning of the episode rather than the human way?

    As I understand it, replicators play a huge part in the makeup of the holodeck, so the food is probably real, in so much as any of the ersatz edibles are.

    So... You're living on the holodeck in a Vegas simulation. And you have to poop. Where does the poop go?

    This episode really strikes home. I was in a serious accident - not a war - but the shock and pain were significant. They did a great job dealing with the trauma - better than anything I've ever seen anywhere else.

    This is the kind of followup story treatment B'Elanna's self-harming problem should have gotten on Voyager. Either that or they should have fed Nog some banana pancakes and he would have bounced right back.

    Another episode that showcase what a useless character that Ezri is. She's not even a worthy counselor

    Even a hologram is better than Ezri in her job! What was the point for bringing her to the show?

    Rather than credit this episode for addressing the consequences of an earlier story, this show bothered me for a different reason: all the follow-up was crammed into a single hour. At a time when shows like Homicide and ER were spreading a character's recovery over several episodes, DS9 confined it to one (which is the most to expect from Trek). Better if Nog's arc had been split between three episodes, is what I thought at the time.

    However, as presented, the story does fit within a single episode.

    I'm surprised to see a whole part of the plot missing from the recap, the reviewer commentary, and the comments. It was the part that made me REALLY appreciate the story, rather than just appreciate it.

    This is an episode about friendship! Vic needs Nog just as much as Nog needs Vic. When Ezri pulls her patented reverse psychology move on Vic, it's because she knows that he's come to count on Nog. And he's no longer just thinking of what's best for Nog. He's thinking that he's gonna miss being a person and having a friend. That's why he isn't pushing Nog to leave.

    Once Ezri subtly makes some noise about this, Vic realizes that it's more important that Nog leave the holodeck. Even if it means that he goes back to being a part-time, unimportant, not-really-real person.

    And that's why the very end is so poignant. Nog returns the favor -- getting Quark to leave Vic's program running 26 hours a day -- and shows that he's just as good a friend to Vic as Vic was to him.

    So it's not just about Nog getting himself over his trauma. It's about how friendship plays a role in that healing. And how being a good friend to someone in need can change your life for the better, too.

    Thank you, Kristen. I was thinking the same thing. And thank you, Nog.

    Thank you indeed Kristen for pointing out the major point of this story.

    And for those who throw hate at Ezri, you should understand that counselling is not always about talking. She let Nog - the patient - find a way to heal himself best, because she knows he won't listen to anyone, even less a shrink.

    Even the best psychiatrist couldn't have gotten through. Nog needed a friend but most of all, a new friend. Someone who had nothing to do with his life before his injury. Though I hope (I don't remember) that the issue continues to be shown, because it is utterly nonsensical if Nog is seen smiling and without further counselling later on.

    A nitpick (I like to do it :P): the Federation is responsible for Nog's recovery, so why is it that Quark must pay for the holosuite time ?

    Loved to see one of my favorite western movies, Shane, featured in this episode!

    Vic is a pretty endearing character that I like a lot, and as a nerd I like stories about AI's being self-aware and having free will, but his program seems a needlessly risky and morally dubious experiment to me.

    I agree with Elliott above that it's disturbing that 400 years into an extremely multiracial future, in which even different species mix, Jake and Sisko only seem to date black women (human or Bajoran).

    Jake dated a "white" dabo girl named Mardah back in season two and three.

    Anyway, who cares?

    Very well said, Kirsten, and I completely agree.

    To address a couple of points from Elliot's post -

    While it may be a tad far-fetched for a number of alien species to be entertained by 400-year-old Earth music and situations, it sort of fits in with the whole conceit of Star Trek; that being the principle of "Humans are Friggin' Awesome."

    Think about it. Klingons, Vulcans, Romulans, and other species have all been shown (and stated in dialogue) to be somewhat-to-significantly stronger and faster than Humans. Vulcans have longer life spans. All of the above species - as well as Cardassians, Bajorans and Ferengi - have very old and even ancient civilizations that have been technologically advanced for some time; traveling the to other worlds (and in some cases conquering them) at a time when humanity's biggest engineering triumphs were aqueducts and the Colosseum.

    Yet these slow, weak, technologically inferior Humans, in just 300 short years, took to the stars, formed a vast and powerful Federation of varying and disparate peoples based on tolerance, exploration, understanding and peace. By the time of the show the Federation had become THE dominant force in the Alpha Quadrant. And even though the Vulcans, Andorians, & Alpha Centaurians (I BELIEVE those were the initial other three charter members) were all enlightened, space-faring cultures well-ahead of humanity by the time they started their trek through the stars, it's been made abundantly clear on multiple occasions that Earth and its people are the driving force and "heart" (for lack of a better term) of the Federation. Nog even marvels aloud at this fact as he reads his earth history in "Little Green Men."

    It's an ego-stroking conceit to be sure, but it's been an established fact of Trek from the very get go. Humans are Awesome. Plus, as Kirk said in one of his best lines, "Spock, You want to know something? EVERYBODY'S Human."

    As to the racial aspect of the Sisko's love interest, I'm sort of with you, here... I don't remember it bothering me (or even really noticing it) when I first watched this series a decade ago, but it does stand out to me a bit now on repeat viewings. It does seem to be a little... odd... considering the color blind world of the 24th century, BUT - One thing that I recently realized that makes me sort of okay with it:

    I'm a 30 year old white guy (Irish American) who considers himself to be about as open and tolerant as any other member of my generation. My circle of close friends is comprised of multiple races, backgrounds and sexual orientations. I live by as strict a "take people as you find them and judge them on their actions and by the content of their character" policy as I can. I strongly believe the people should be able to love and, if they choose, marry whomever they want.

    And yet I find that I am personally attracted primarily caucasian girls of a similar european ancestry to my own. It doesn't mean that I DISLIKE women who are black, asian, semitic, latin, etc. or that I wouldn't date them if there was a physical or emotional attraction. It's just that my "type" so to speak - that is the physical traits to which I respond chemically and whatnot - tend to be white girls of western-european descent, and I don't feel that there's anything intolerant or unenlightened about that, so I certainly won't judge Ben or Jake Sisko for having similar ethnocentric tastes.

    Elliott, I completely agree with you about Sisko and Jake. Their preference for black dating partners is clearly racist, and their preference for women makes them despicable homophobes on top of that. Outrageous.

    @Dan; don't be obtuse. I in no way hold this kind of racist casting against the characters. The impression throughout the series was that any love interest of the black human males must be black females. I can hold the same criticism for Tuvok and T'Pel on Voyager. That a Vulcan couple would have the kind of in-species racial prejudices is really, really stupid. But at least they didn't make every subsistent love interest black. Sisko's lingering 20th century racism is briefly touched upon in "Our Man Bashir", but the issue was never addressed. I think I was pretty clear that I don't hold this issue against the show per sæ, it was just a noticeable contradiction in the show's production. Just like how there are no gay characters.

    @Elliott, I don't disagree per se, but I don't think the casting of black actresses for the Siskos' love interests is all that exceptional. Did Picard or Riker ever have non-white love interests, for example? (Picard's relationships or near-relationships are, what -- Beverly, Janice Manheim, Vash, Kamala, Eline, Neela, that woman from Insurrection; Riker's -- well, I won't list them all, but you know.) The only major interracial relationships in the various series that come to mind are of non-humans -- Worf/Troi or Dax, Paris/Torres, the Tuvok romance as you pointed out. Geordi had Leah I suppose. I certainly may be forgetting some. But the next generation series were still predominantly featured white humans dating other white humans, and that is as much a problem as the Siskos' partners being black.

    Agree on the lack of gay characters being contrary to the stated ideals.

    The follies of typing on smartphones... That should be "subsequent " not "subsistent".

    @Wlliam B: but that's sort of the point, isn't it? Even in Trek there was a pervasive sense of tokenism with the inclusion of non-whites. So, the that the white character's love interests rarely ventured outside Caucasian was lamentable, but more a symptom of the fact that most of the characters shown at all were white. So, when you have 2 prominent black characters in a universe in which they are a minority and introduce love interests who are of the same minority, it smacks of race-based casting rather than the less offensive complacency of tokenism.

    I think you're just an overly sensitive PC douche looking for problems where none exist. This isn't the 90's anymore. Grow up and stop picking at scabs you have no intention of healing.

    I just rewatched this episode last night and it was better than I remembered it. I can't say that I find it particularly great though. Nothing really happens and the arc of the episode is so obvious that you could watch the first 5 minutes and give an accurate synopsis of the rest of the episode (a regular failing of Trek).

    Vic's story is the most interesting part and typically largely ignored. He is clearly sentient and effectively forced to act as a slave inside the holosuite. Quite how and why such a construct could be allowed to come into being for something so trivial god only knows. I guess it's yet another example of the creators not really thinking things through.

    I also wouldn't praise Trek for follow through using this as an example. In fact the pure episodic nature of the series is its greatest problem and cramming this story into one episode doesn't work too well. It feels a bit forced. Still there was decent acting all round and at least Nog wasn't so annoyingly earnest about being a Federation officer. A solid 6/10 for me.

    Gotta say, it's pretty ridiculous that people are complaining about the lack of mixed race relationships in the game because they are spending too much time pairing up aliens from mixed alien races? What type of 'color blindness' thinks Worf-Jadzia doesn't count as a mixed-color relationship between main characters, or T'Pol and whoever that boring actor was that she was banging on screen... or handful of relationships that Jake had in the first few seasons with non-black girls/women don't count because... I just don't get it.

    Having said that, I always felt that racism was handled a bit too heavy handed by DS9. In TOS, Kirk and Spock just didn't understand the reasoning behind the Cherons. Kind of like you wouldn't understand racism if someone was talking about different colored cats. But on DS9, it was much more of a roaring behemoth, dealt with by facing it head on in a huge barrage of explosions.

    And I definitely noticed it too with Jake and Ben. Strong leanings toward black girls. But maybe they just liked 'home cooking'? We know they did for food and entertainment.

    Racism isn't 'handled' properly until it is simply not an issue.

    Certainly, I appreciate what Star Trek has done for showing how it is possible to overcome prejudices such as race, color, even financial standing. But it's best moments for overcoming racism have always been the quieter ones.

    Bear in mind that DS9 is my favorite Trek and Ben Sisko is absolutely the reason for it. Nothing to do with him being black. He's just a badass who had it rough and still keeps grasping for the rope of morality as the Universe tries to drag him down.

    Isn't it funny too that this episode was about trauma, stress, escapism, sentience, life, and friendship between a character living in the 60's and a Ferengi. And somehow, the discussion gets overwhelmed by debate about racism. (?)

    PS. as an avid classical guitarist, I resent the suggestion that it might be considered unrealistic for 400 year old music to be considered captivating to humans and non-humans alike. OK, so I play mostly stuff from 150-50 years ago, but good music is good music.

    I was thinking after I watched this episode that if you told me in season 1 that Aron Eisenberg would, in season 7, cause tears to well up in my eyes, I would have laughed in your face and said you were nuts. I'm not laughing now. It's funny that Jammer says pretty much the same thing in this review. I leery of the Vic Fontaine character at first but a combination of smart writing and an astoundingly charismatic performance from James Darren has put those fears to rest. I find the idea that Nog found solace and healing in Vic's company to be very believable and at least some of that is because of James Darren. Hm, crazy. *shakes head*

    I know Elliot may not understand this, but black people like seeing black couples on television. There aren't enough of them as it is. It's a different form of racism to insist that when blacks are portrayed they should be with other race individuals. Unless he's forgotten why the African American community was upset with Disney's lack of willingness to put the princess in The Princess and the Frog with a black man.

    Very well done, memorable episode. Also I noticed something funny: when the crew is discussing Nog's situation, the pips on Dax's collar switch order.


    I think of this as my favorite DS9 episode ever. And it surprises me because 1) I've never liked Nog, 2) it doesn't progress the plot and 3) it occurs in the midst of the worst DS9 season of the series (I'm sorry, but any time a work of fiction makes God(s) real, I just turn off). Imo, the fact that I'm sucked into to this episode is evidence of how good it is.

    Jammer only gave it 3.5 stars, and I feel it should've gotten 5 stars out of a possible 4. This episode was a breakthrough for mainstream television. It's that good.

    Somehow, the DS9 writers managed to perfectly capture depression and anxiety in a single hour without making Nog appear to be worthless or excessively narcissistic. I've never seen depression and anxiety handled so perfectly on television before or, surprisingly, since.

    Jammer, if you still read the comments to your reviews, I implore you to re-examine this episode. It deserves a higher evaluation.

    Wow, what a good surprise. A piece of memorable episode among the horrible standard of S7! This one was really good and it is a surprise all along. From centering on Nog to being a HS episode in a show that has a history of bad HS ones. There were all reasons to expect a bad experience.

    Guess what, this is universal character development, but in a scifi scenario. That respects the inner logic of Trek. Good stuff.

    Good episode but I have had problems with Nog and Rom. I do not like the changes their characters make. Nog goes crying to Sisko begging to join starfleet. He says he's not a good ferengi. He says he doesn't have the lobes for
    business and isn't good at making profit. Then once he joins starfleet all of a sudden the writers make him a great ferengi. All of a sudden he has a gift for finding rare alcohol and trading and acquiring any item you need. Then you have Rom who Odo says can't fix anything. Then all of a sudden he's an engineering genius. Rom also said that any woman caught wearing clothes and earning profit should be SEVERLY punished. By the end of the show he is all for woman's rights. These might be great characteristics but it totally changes the ferengi.

    I've noticed that sometime after around 2010 people started trying to find racism and sexism in everything. Maybe it is our society changing. Youll see it everywhere online. These reviews are a perfect example. Read some of the other reviews. You'll notice around 2010 people's comments will start complaining about it. It's just something I've noticed. I don't care if jake dated a black woman by the way.


    "Good episode but I have had problems with Nog and Rom. I do not like the changes their characters make. Nog goes crying to Sisko begging to join starfleet. He says he's not a good ferengi. He says he doesn't have the lobes for
    business and isn't good at making profit. Then once he joins starfleet all of a sudden the writers make him a great ferengi. All of a sudden he has a gift for finding rare alcohol and trading and acquiring any item you need. Then you have Rom who Odo says can't fix anything. Then all of a sudden he's an engineering genius. Rom also said that any woman caught wearing clothes and earning profit should be SEVERLY punished. By the end of the show he is all for woman's rights. These might be great characteristics but it totally changes the ferengi. "

    Rom's character has changed considerably, no argument... but anytime Quark appraises himself he basically sucks. Compared to anybody who isn't Rom. Even cousin Gaila owns a moon.

    I get the feeling that Nog is a bright boy who knows more about trade/barter than the average member of the "no money" federation or a random lounge singer in a holosuite program... but I think the point of Nog's speech to Sisko is that he thinks he could be a great Starfleet officer but not a great businessman. Like, at BEST he'd be a Quark. He'd never be a Gaila or better. But maybe, just maybe he could be a GREAT Starfleet officer.

    I always felt his 7 year arc was earned. Rom's... well you could say he was hiding how he felt for Quark's sake (an early episode has him bringing Nog to school and then pulling him out as soon as the Nagus finds out). So there's definite evidence that he was more liberal than he was letting on and just had no spine. I think there also were instances of him fixing things too, but I can't remember right now. Either way, he DEFINITELY changed more in 7 years than was earned by what was shown on screen. But I think the seeds were there. It was just a case of too much too fast.

    As for Jake... he dated the only 3 black bajorans that were ever on screen. THAT was a little weird. I don't think it particularly bothered me, but things like that pull me out of the show a bit. Like somebody is using 20th century concerns in a 24th century setting.

    Tuvok too. He's the only black vulcan we've ever seen, so of course his wife is the second black vulcan we get to see :P

    @Robert and Quarky: The characters in early DS9 were very different than the characters in late DS9. Some of that worked as character evolution. Some of it was clearly a byproduct of the characters not working early prompting forced changes.

    The biggest example where it was clearly forced was Dax, who is much calmer and more cerebral early in the series until about the halfway point in season 2, when she's playing Tongo with Quark, having one-night stands, etc. This is most pronounced in "Playing God."

    Rom's arc actually sort of makes sense, if you figure he was trying to be very Ferengi early on and then figured it wasn't working. Nog's arc was harder to take because he went from essentially being illiterate -- Jake helps him learn to read in one early episode -- to joining Starfleet in like two years.

    The character evolutions that were equally as noticeable but less forced were Sisko's (rejuvenated by his time on DS9 and the Dominion threat), Kira (less angry after seeing Bajor somewhat succeed on its own and becoming more trusting of aliens), Odo (becoming more humanoid, which makes sense because he was human for a short time and because of his relationship with Kira) and Bashir (who was an arrogant ass in the first season or so, but who grew, probably thanks to time around O'Brien).

    Worf, of course, was already developed and O'Brien sort of was, too. Quark evolved some throughout the series, but he probably changed the least.

    Nog getting into Starfleet 2 years after he was functionally illiterate is certainly hard to swallow considering Wesley once missed out on the academy entrance exam (which was also hard to swallow). But I feel like Nog's personality changes were more natural than Rom's.

    I do agree with your points about other characters though. DS9 had a large number of character changes that did not feel forced, to the credit of the show.

    There is a huge difference between being illiterate and not being able to read/speak English. Universal translators ate one thing but they can't change words on page.

    "There is a huge difference between being illiterate and not being able to read/speak English. Universal translators ate one thing but they can't change words on page. "

    Hmm... while you are right I always assumed that he couldn't read Ferengi and that the PADD they were reading had Ferengi and English on it and that Jake reading in English comes out in perfect Ferengi and vice-versa so that you actually could teach someone to read without speaking their language :P

    I suppose it IS possible he was teaching him how to read English. The universal translator is a wonky, wonky, wonky plot device anyway. When Sisko/Dax let's loose a Klingon phrase... why? Can Worf tell they are actually trying? Does it sound different than when he usually hears them speak Klingon? How many characters know English?

    The amount of brain-pain that it causes to start thinking about this stuff is mind boggling.

    Well I am in the minority here, I think this is a massively over rated episode because, for me, it was unduly ernest, forced, pedestrian and predictable, and it ultimately bored me to tears as it involved the two main characters whom were the most annoying and un-necessary parts of the cast (Nog and Fontaine). I only give this 1 star for the briefing room jokes at Bashirs expense. An absolute snooze-fest to watch.

    I agree with eastwest. This episode was painfully boring. Nog himself is unlikable, and...well, nothing happens.

    The sum of spare-part characters? A boring episode that does nothing to move the DS9 narrative. Scenes drag on for valuable minutes, the plot is thin. Nog should've just gone to Risa, had sex with a few hookers, and he'd be fine.

    When you have Vic Fontaine trying to help someone, that's trouble. And it's annoying. And Ezri, Rom and Leeta have more screen-time than the other main characters. Says it all. I don't quite get how others who praised this episode had the patience to sit through this mess, or not fast forward at the least.

    "A boring episode that does nothing to move the DS9 narrative."

    The end of Nog's arc (which amounts to growing up) that begin literally in the first episode of the first season does nothing to move the show's narrative?

    You don't have to like Nog, his arc, Vic or this episode... but this statement is totally bonkers. Just because an episode isn't moving the war doesn't mean it's not moving DS9's narrative!


    "The weakness in the story has to do with Vic...the opportunity here was for the hologram to learn something about what it means to be a real person from Nog, dealing with a very real dilemma. Instead, he simply possesses all the wisdom and ability of a Guinan via virtue of some programmer (not to mention, he has ambition, passion and a desire for's unsettling)."

    Not a valid gripe Elliot. Vic DID learn something here. ... and it didn't take Guinan type wisdom to figure out what needed to happen.

    Kristen's point about friendship is right on the mark. I'm surprised Jammer didn't comment on it.

    A wonderful episode that had it not taken place would have cheapened the reality incurred in 'The Seige of AR-588' It would have been a shame not to address Nog's loss/hardship and it would have been even worse had he just showed up ready to go back to work.

    Any comments directed at Ezri as a sub-par counselor are just dribble, illusory and boring. She did her job very well here. (as she did with Garak) Just because she isn't sitting there talking to Nog everyday (which Nog stated he was very tired of) doesn't mean she didn't aptly use the resources at her disposal. From her decision to let Nog stay in the holosuite with Vic, to making Vic realize Nog needed to move on - she was spot on. She also didn't do everything in a vacuum.

    I don't know about any of you, but when Nog broke down and said he was scared I lost it. What a performance by Aron. Well done.

    I loved it when Vic gave up his "life" for Nog and probably loved it more when Nog gave it back.

    Another 4 star episode.

    I think you're just an overly sensitive PC douche looking for problems where none exist. This isn't the 90's anymore. Grow up and stop picking at scabs you have no intention of healing.

    I agree.

    @Jay, CaptainTripps, Scott:

    I've always wondered at the differences between a holodeck and a holosuite (besides size) but its completely possible that holosuites are meant to be more indulgent/luxury/lavish and so contain real working facilities/replicators for longer-term and/or biologically-oriented scenarios.

    I believe such a supposition would be supported by the difference in reaction between when someone is said to be on a holodeck long-term (Barclay) vs when holosuites are mentioned (e.g. Kira's reaction to the concept)

    I always assumed that the difference between -deck and -suite in general was mostly a matter of naming convention -- ships have decks, and stations in general don't. I think that the levels on the station might still be called decks sometimes, but I think it's a different naming convention. Obviously also, the difference between the Enterprises' (D & E) or Voyager's holodeck and Quark's Bar's holosuite is a matter of brand, with one being pretty clearly Starfleet issue and the other being private enterprise and for-profit. There is more of a market for long-term use of the holosuite by a single individual or group because it's more designed to go to whoever can pay; the holodecks are designed for crews and their families, and so the expectation that people will limit themselves and not develop addictions to their fantasy life is more in play.

    The difference must be clearly only a matter of naming convention. The term suite automatically reminds us of the suites of a hotel, that is, a room or rooms -- literally en suite -- for rent. Presidential Suite, Royal Suite, Holosuite...

    The difference between "holodeck" and a "holosuite"....

    "Holodeck" is on a ship, so "deck" is appropriate
    "Holosuite" is run by Ferengie's so "suite" sounds more appropriate for something someone would have to pay for and is located in a hotel.

    All I could think about in this episode was how small the holosuite actually is. So when Nog gets kicked out of the club and goes back to Vic's place, he's actually only like: 2 meters away from everyone, and just has some holographic "bubble" around him, or a piece of the scene sectioned off, with his own rendering of a scene, walking around on a treadmill in his own little 2-foot space.

    Eric, I wouldn't try to make sense of the size of the holosuite or holodeck or why not more people would be addicted to living in them. It's less a problem here than in ones like the baseball episode, when it seems like you can really have as many people as you want in there, which would pose the question why they don't use it to give the occupants of the station as good a living condition as they might expect on their home planet.

    In any case, I enjoyed this episode and I like Vic, but I agree with those saying that It was Vic who had a bigger problem he had to think around. Let's just say that I wouldn't have minded if the Doctor from Voyager and Vic had an episode together down the line swapping notes and maybe music.

    It is a shame that Ezri wasn't the one who gets him talking about it as she seem to get how he thinks (dismissing him as 'just a hologram' instead.) I really liked Ezri in this too, a lot of nice pleasant characters that suits the theme.

    I like this episode quite a bit. Nog has had a hell of a story. He's one of my favourite characters on the show, and, like everyone's said, it's awesome that DS9 got to the point that it can swing an episode like this. I'd argue that Nog ISN'T just a recurring character, but it may only seem like he's been around more than he has because he's gotten such rich material. (Serious question: outside of some first season shenanigans, has there ever been a bad Nog plot?)

    "Paper Moon" is also the best Vic appearance so far (and maybe even moving forward too). I like to think that when Nog asks Vic if he dreams, he evades answering because the answer is... well, "no". A dream is only a dream if it isn't just an extension of the program and thus under Vic's control. The answer would have shattered both characters' illusions at that point and was better left unsaid. In the end, when Nog sets up 26/7 activation for Vic, Vic gets to live a "regular" life now too. Yeah it raises a lot of questions about Vic's nature, but it's a sweet moment in and of itself.

    This is quite a strong episode and nails exactly what it's trying to accomplish. Though 45 minutes might be a *bit* pat for this story, Ron Moore is really, really good at crafting unique scenes that don't revert to perfunctory cliches to move the story to its 45-minute deadline. All his episodes seem to have a vitality that puts them above a lot of other episodes.

    On top of that, Eisenberg nails all of his scenes - especially the climactic one. Awesome!

    I only really have two minor nitpicks: The party for Rom's promotion. There's no reason why someone couldn't have called on Nog. Wouldn't Rom have tried to stop by and invite him personally? And Jake, whom I've really begun to dislike. He has nothing to add to the show anymore, and it just feels like a waste for that to be the case. He seemed particularly insensitive in this episode, and it didn't reflect well on him IMO.

    Other than those gripes, 3-1/2 stars from me!


    On another note:

    You know what I like so far about Season 7? It's probably the same thing that puts a lot of people off. But it's that S7 is pretty dedicated to fleshing out its recurring and brand new characters before the end. In S7's first 10 episodes, we've seen entire episodes given to Weyoun, Damar, Nog, Vic, Ezri, Garak, Martok and Dukat. Even "AR-558" had a heavy contingent of guest characters. This has relegated Kira, Worf, Odo, etc, to merely being pieces of episodes rather than the focuses. I understand why such a concentrated amount of secondary character episodes rubs people wrong, but to me it just makes the series feel alive.

    At this point the show now feels very different than it did a couple of seasons prior. The formula of the regulars just doing their jobs and encountering new problems is pretty much non-existent. Ops doesn't get a lot of screen time, and there's hardly been any anomalies or station crises in what seems like forever. I've never NOT seen S7 on DVD, so I've never had to endure week-long waits between episodes. That probably colours my opinion of it all, but what can I say? I'm really digging this.

    Ezri is not believable as either a joined Trill or a counsellor. Nicole deBoer's delivery is too adolescent. She makes the character seem utterly trivial.

    @Quarky,Good episode but I have had problems with Nog and Rom. I do not like the changes their characters make. Nog goes crying to Sisko begging to join starfleet. He says he's not a good ferengi. He says he doesn't have the lobes for
    business and isn't good at making profit. Then once he joins starfleet all of a sudden the writers make him a great ferengi. All of a sudden he has a gift for finding rare alcohol and trading and acquiring any item you need. Then you have Rom who Odo says can't fix anything. Then all of a sudden he's an engineering genius. Rom also said that any woman caught wearing clothes and earning profit should be SEVERLY punished. By the end of the show he is all for woman's rights. These might be great characteristics but it totally changes the ferengi.

    This is what is called character development. When Odo made this statement it was in the beginning of the show, the character changed a lot. An as for Nog, he was a good hustler, that didn't make him a businessman like Quark.

    This episode is awesome, and so different than anything else I can remember Trek doing. To have an episode this good AND basically only feature Vic and Nog is amazing when you think about it. On paper it must've had *clunker* written all over it but it's executed masterfully.

    Am I the only one who wanted Nog to lose his leg and maybe stay in a wheelchair? Ha. I know that may sound cruel but everyone tells me ds9 is different because it doesn't hit the reset button. That ds9 has characters deal with past episode issues. Yes I know that this episode deals with his emotional issues but I just KNEW that they wouldn't let him remain handicapped. I can't stand how the character developed from the early seasons. If they were gonna develop his character they should have developed him into a more devious ferengi working at quarks. In fact I can't stand how they change almost every main ferengi character except for quark. I can't stand when Star Trek turns every alien species into humans. At the beginning of ds9 Rom is sexist and tries to kill his brother. By the end he's a good little human who is no longer sexist and loves his brother over profit. The grand negus goes from being a good greedy sexist ferengi to being a good human who wants females to wear clothes in public and work and he even lets Rom lead the ferengi. How is rom going to deal with the economic situation when it's been established he's an idiot when it comes to finances. If ferengi were real I would want them to not be sexist but that is one of the things that makes them different so I don't like that they changed it.

    Just like if Klingons were real I wouldn't want them to kill their superiors if they showed cowardice but it's a show so I want them to remain the same. Some people will say it's chracter development but that is weak. Rom is an idiot yet they try and say he was always a secret genius just a little insecur. SURE. he still acts like an idiot most of the time. See emperors cloak episode in season 7 when he can't grasp the concept of an alternate universe for almost the entire episode. I just hate what they did to rom and nog and the entire ferengi culture. They didn't do it to Klingons so I don't know why they destroyed the ferengi. They should have given quark the job of grand negus at the end. He held true to the sexist greedy ideals that have defined the ferengi.

    And this episode was just OK. Just because nog cries doesng make it good except for the part where he punched jake and treated his girlfriend the correct ferengi way. That was true to Star Trek. I love ds9 but it's episodes like this and the Visitor that I just don't see why people gush over them

    DS9 certainly does hit the reset switch... not anywhere near like Voyager but with characters especially, it does, and quite frequently. As for Nog, I just wanted him to be killed. The character could never work as a major character, at the end of the day he was just there for the children. They gave him and Rom the whole "joined Starfleet" angle simply to preserve their place on the show. It was contrived nonsense.

    A beautiful episode. And this is coming from someone who is generally indifferent to Vic - too often DS9's equivalent of Riker's jazz trombone (and oh how I hated that). A moving, highly sophisticated riff on one of my cardinal laws: given a choice between a depressing reality and a happy fantasy, most people, most of the time will choose the fantasy. That Nog needed to be pushed, even when he was ready to leave the holosuite seemed a very shrewd bit of observation.

    Lovely, moving, touching, thought-provoking. Wonderful episode in every way, from the scripting to the acting.

    Years later, but I'm with Elliot on this Jake's date thing. The series never shows black Bajorans, but now that Jake needs a Bajoran girlfriend, whadayaknow, she's black! If Bajor had been depicted as being multicolored before this, it probably wouldn't have stood out so bad.

    Also Ben and Cassidy do bother me too, but not as much. Is Cassidy supposed to be human? If so, why does she act anti-Federation half the time and then show interest in a Federation officer? But I guess it doesn't matter what she is, because she's conveniently the black version of whatever race.

    Great review, this is one of the best star trek episodes . I find it laughable the reactions to the dating race of the character s. Seems like an issue only to people preoccupied with race.

    Actually, I think it is the show's tendency to introduce black characters whenever Jake and Ben need a date that exposes the show's preoccupation with race. By the 24th century skin color should be totally irrelevant, and the comments are only pointing out how silly it is that it's not.

    @James - Completely agree. Either the actors or the casting directors or both were very race conscious in those choices. I personally wouldn't dock points from any episode over it, but it's an odd choice.

    I wouldn't even care if Jake only dated dark skinned Bajorans if we EVER saw more of them. The shows complete lack of them is jarring.

    Besides the fact that it might have been more interesting to have darker skinned Bajorans be closer to orange than brown. So that not everybody looks like humans with forehead pieces.

    As others have said, it's a testament to the writing and depth of characterisation that two non-leads can take centre stage in a story of great sympathy, depth and heart. This is what Vic Fontaine is in the series for - as a catalyst for story-telling - not the egregious musical numbers that seem to have been cropping up lately.

    This certainly slows up at times, which in retrospect is not such a bad thing, as it gives the story a bit more time to breathe. As a capper for Nog's journey through the series, it's a memorable conclusion. 3.5 stars.

    While it's going on, Nog only processes the scene from "Shane" as a fantasy versus reality thing. Vic mutters that Shane got hit in the arm. But the scene continues past that, until the boy Joey starts screaming at Shane to come back and he won't. Nog isn't too impressed. "I like The Searchers better." "Who doesn't?" The Searchers, too, ends with the main gunfighter leaving, but the implication is that it's a happy ending for everyone else. In "Shane," the apparently indestructible gunfighter, who indeed is/was a figure of fantasy (who is unaffected by gunshot wounds), who has scenes with other gunfighters where he talks about how they are a dying breed who have no place in the real world anymore, takes off and the boy is left alone to face the world. Vic is Shane. Nog is Joey. And Nog is not ready to recognize much value in a story that ends with the kid being abandoned by his fantasy mentor.

    I do think this was a strong episode, one of the rare occasions in which events from a previous show are paid off very directly, though indirect follow-ups aren't all that uncommon. The plot actually has a lot in common with TNG's "Hero Worship" (!), in which a young traumatized person latches onto an AI in order to develop the psychological fortitude to get through the situation, but this one is told with two long-term characters rather than just one. As a story about holo-addiction, it is also about losing oneself in a story, or a fandom; I love the moment where Nog just barely suppresses his disgust at Jake's saying "daddy-o," the recognition that Jake is *doing it wrong* breaking the illusion of Nog's hermetic world. It’s safe in there. It’s a place where he builds up his strength again develops interests, reconnects with the resourceful, enthusiastic young man whose organizational skills (manifesting as business acumen) might make him a great Starfleet officer one day, should he choose to return to that world. And eventually Vic reluctantly sets him free. As others pointed out above, this episode does a good job of demonstrating Nog falling into depression and anxiety that makes it too difficult to interact with people anymore; he sleeps almost all of the time, becomes focused on only a few single recurrent thoughts (somewhat OCD), and finds the world at large essentially too threatening to deal with. So he retreats into fantasy. But while the episode emphasizes that one must eventually escape from fantasy, it is also pretty genuine about how fantasy can be healing—the holosuite becomes Nog’s crutch so that he can practice walking again, until he is ready to work without it.

    It is interesting that, for the most part, people besides Nog and Vic, and to a lesser extent Ezri, are backgrounded. Everyone, and especially Rom, Leeta, Quark and Jake, are concerned, but Nog brushes them off pretty quickly. There are no real opportunities for any of the Starfleet crew to share their own combat stories and how they coped with them, nor is there much for his family to do but wait until he maybe accepts them. (I thought that Leeta’s uncertainty about whether or not she counts as family was a nice touch.) Ezri takes a hands-off approach early on—“wait and see,” and all that—and I don’t fault her for that the way many commenters do, though it is amusing to note how quickly her approach backfires the moment she attempts to do *anything* to threaten Nog’s bubble. The focus, here, is on Nog’s deliberate isolation from everyone he knows, to the point where even people attempting to intrude into the program at all is initially met with anger—his reaction to Jake and his date—and later on to friendly distance—his reaction to Rom and Leeta. It is in some senses brave of the show to recognize that Nog and Vic can carry an episode, though by contrast the writers also believe that Ezri can carry an episode basically by herself (see: two of the next three episodes). In some ways I think this is a bit of a shame, because I do think I’d like to see more of what constitutes “traditional” ways of dealing with injuries and traumas are, for Starfleet and for the various other cultures we see. But the focus follows Nog, and he very much does not want to see anyone.

    When Nog breaks down at the episode’s end, he identifies the key as being that he realized, with a shock, that *he could die*. “I never thought it would happen to me.” My intuition here is that we are led to see that Nog is not just avoiding the possibility of further combat, which might threaten his life, but also avoiding the shame and guilt. People died around him, he points out; he does not mention it but remember the Valiant’s whole crew going down with only him, Jake and Collins surviving? But those didn’t bother him all that much, though he grieved. His death, though, shocks him. He realizes that he doesn’t exactly want that anymore, but he also swore an oath, made a commitment, one which he does not really feel right breaking. The parts of him that were attracted to Starfleet are still there; he still thinks he might potentially be a good captain someday. But now he knows, and it is hard to face that his *eagerness* before was born partly of ignorance, and that on some level he could accept the death around him not because of a fundamental courage but because deep down he never really associated those deaths with his own. Does he feel guilty, about soldiers still protecting that damn communications array? The Valiant? And further—given that he now understands, more clearly than before, the kind of life-threatening danger he has been regularly placed in as a soldier, does he harbour some greater anger for Sisko and the others for ordering him there, or even for being the people to inspire him into this dangerous life? As much as I like this episode, I wish that there were more focus here (or in future episodes) on Nog actually readjusting to his life outside Vic’s, and renegotiating his relationships with family, friends and superiors.

    To be honest, most Vic scenes outside this episode don’t really work for me—Vic is something of a stock character, the musical numbers too frequent and too filler-y, and “His Way” is to me a pretty big misfire on what is important to tell in Odo/Kira. But this episode works, partly because James Darren gives (I think) his best performance. While the episode does go up to the “Vic has superpowers!” area a little (especially when Vic can decide to stay off, somehow), what I liked here is that Vic is, unlike in “His Way,” not portrayed as fundamentally infallible. He is surprised that Nog wants to spend all his time in his program, actually pretty unprepared for what Nog’s trauma entails, and surprised, delighted and exhausted by the prospect of living something close to a normal life. The things that Vic does here for Nog early on—weaning him off the cane by giving him a stylish one—are in keeping with his “His Way”-style tricksterism without making the case that he has superior insight into all humanoid psyche. That Vic actually does get *tired* suggests that he is running low on his tricks, and reaching something like the end of his programming—and I like that this both enthralls him, giving him the chance at recognizing some of what he was never “meant” to feel, and also intimidates him and scares him. And I like that he credits his tiny experience of what life is like for what lets him see that Nog has to return to his real life out there. I think this episode helps me feel like I understand better what I found missing in “His Way,” and what made me find the character (and his role in getting Odo and Kira together) so obnoxious there. He recognizes here that he’s something of a one- or two-trick pony, but only once his program has gone on long enough. He can grow—opening a new casino!—but only at the expense of an actual person squandering his own life away.

    The way O’Brien dismisses Nog’s “free will” question with “I’m an engineer, not a philosopher” is quite a trick—the episode avoids seriously examining Vic’s sapience and how alive he is. The story needs him to be sufficiently alive that he and Nog can form a real friendship, but sufficiently not-alive that Nog staying with him is limiting his life and it is clear to everyone that Nog has to get away from him; sufficiently real that know why Nog sees him as real and sufficiently fake that we get what he means when he describes himself as hollow. It feels a bit like a cheat to me to simply sidestep the question of free will like that in order to have Vic as the exact amount of real the episode needs, particularly given how interested TNG and Voyager are in AI/holographic life form issues. But I can mostly deal with the idea that Vic is somewhere between real and not-real for the purposes of this episode, especially since what Nog really needs is some place halfway between real and not-real to build himself back up into.

    I get that much of what Nog likes about Vic is the music, and that this is part of the fantasy, but there are I think too many songs here, too much time spent on just Vic singing. And the episode really does hurt as a follow-up to “AR-558” when, as Elliott pointed out, that episode depended on the Federation being stretched so thin that they could not send reinforcements to that communications array, and here Nog is allowed to spend weeks/months recuperating on his own time and schedule without personnel issues ever even being mentioned as a reason things need to be sped up. DS9 really does feel like (at least) two different shows when it comes to how devastating this war is. The episode is a little slow-paced as well, though this mostly works for me as a way to get involved in the rhythms of the alternate (“paper moon”) life that Nog builds. 3.5 stars from me—not perfect, but a strong show, and very moving because we have seen Nog grow up all these years, and only after he has lost a part of himself (his eagerness, his “innocence” in the sense of naiveté rather than goodness) that he recognizes its value.

    About the Western on the TV;
    They could have mentioned that the star, Alan Ladd, is about the sham height as Nog.
    Would it have been helpful to have him watch the World War II film "Reach for the Sky" about the pilot Douglas Bader?

    I've been binge watching DS9 on Netflix for 2 weeks. This is definitely my favorite episode so far. Unlike some, I like all the Vic stories.
    One problem, Vic gives Nog a tux out of his closet. When Vic ended the program shouldn't Nog have been naked. (Glad he wasn't lol)

    "One problem, Vic gives Nog a tux out of his closet. When Vic ended the program shouldn't Nog have been naked. "

    No, because characters in DS9 get their clothes from the replicators before going into holosuites. This is true in most of Trek, except in "First Contact" where Picard and Lily get their clothes from the holodeck (I guess?).

    Let me amend that. You're right, mefive. Either holosuites here use replicators to allow the user to keep their clothes, or it's a production error. (My money is on the latter :) ).

    We already know that holodecks use replicators in tandem with the forcefields; it's not something to solve. When people eat food on the holodeck it's obviously real food, because I don't think they'd be too happy about forcefields being shoved into their mouths and then having the food vanish when they close their mouths to chew. Similarly, the contours of things like clothes being worn would never work since the creases you feel, say, inside a dress, can't possibly be accessed by forcefield systems (what do we expect, that when your underwear rides up it's a forcefield being shoved up your ass? security would get a kick out of that).

    The main 'holodeck' effects are the impression of distance using trickery, the 'treadmill effect' for movement, and complicated forcefields for tangible objects, furniture, life forms, etc. I don't even want to know the specifics of how the forcefields work when you're trying to have sex with a holographic person.

    So yes, clothes worn, food eaten, etc, are replicated, and not a series of forcefields.

    @Peter G. and mefive

    Yes, that makes sense. The only weird thing about holodecks replicating clothes on the user actually come from ST: First Contact. Mr. Plinkett does a good job of pointing this out, but if you're already wearing clothes and the holodeck was projecting clothes on you, wouldn't you look fatter because the clothes would have to be produced on top of the clothes you're wearing?

    I suppose the replicator could transport your clothes off of you and keep the pattern in a buffer, but that sounds extremely system resource-intensive for a diversion. It's also something you could avoid by changing beforehand, which would explain why most characters do just that.

    @ Chrome,

    Funny you should mention that, but in most holodeck episodes we see in TNG and DS9 the crew come to the holodeck already dressed in costumes they've replicated themselves. For the sake of realism I have to expect that entering a holodeck in your own clothes would mean you'd have to undress in order to 'put on' a holodeck-replicated outfit. I suspect in TNG they were putting across the idea that you actually couldn't just replicate an outfit and that any clothes you saw in the holodeck were just an illusion backed up by forcefields. Later on it became clear all sorts of objects (like Bat'leths) could be replicated within the holodeck as well, meaning the only reason to dress up beforehand would be...well, the equivalent of being a hardcore gamer where you want to have all your own gear.

    Still, I agree that any episode would have to be playing dumb to have real clothes vanish and be replaced by holodeck-replicated new ones. Did any actually do this? Maybe they'd auto-set it so that such clothes are beamed right to the person's quarters rather than held in the about using your holodeck rations poorly.

    Chrome, in the Voyager episode Human Error, the Doctor finds Seven lying unconscious on the floor of the holodeck wearing a low-cut dress. After he ends the program, she's lying on the floor wearing her usual catsuit. So I guess that answers that question (and confirms First Contact, where Lily also suddenly gets a low-cut dress magically appearing over her normal clothes).

    Well, it answers the question of IF the holodeck can do that sort of thing, but not HOW it can. First rule of holodeck club: you do not talk about the rules of the holodeck...

    @ Robert
    Wed, Feb 3, 2016, 11:13am (UTC -5)

    I wouldn't even care if Jake only dated dark skinned Bajorans if we EVER saw more of them. The shows complete lack of them is jarring.

    I might see an issue here, but didn't Jake date a "white" alien in that episode where he double-dates with Nog?

    I can't believe I would give a holodeck-centric episode about a Ferengi 4 stars, but this is so psychologically authentic, profound and well-acted that I'd have to. It's one of the most relevant-to-real-life episodes in Star Trek, and its relevancy is NOT limited to war veterans, but includes also anyone who's ever tried to escape from life out of fear. Those conversations near the end with Vic are gold: Eisenberg and Darren are simply brilliant. I felt uplifted after watching this. "Who could ask for anything more?"


    "I might see an issue here, but didn't Jake date a "white" alien in that episode where he double-dates with Nog?"

    Jake dated a black woman, Lark Voorhies (a.k.a. Lisa from Saved by the Bell). Well, at least it was nice to see Lark again. :)

    HA! I just remember she didn't like the chewing the food thing :-)

    I guess her skin pigment didn't matter to me.

    "I guess her skin pigment didn't matter to me. "

    It didn't matter to me either, until I binge watched the show. And then I was like... huh, there are 3 black Bajorans on the entire planet and Jake dates them all!

    I did not notice this during my initial 7 year viewing. I don't actually mind, people are attracted to what they are attracted to. Like... if we don't think it's racist that people like blondes I won't judge you for skin color attraction.

    Maybe Jake just preferred mocha! Who cares... what IS odd is that they are like the only 3 brown Bajorans on the entire planet (Korena, Mardah and Kesha).

    When he dates Leanne (a black human) it's not AS weird because there's more than 3 of those!!! There were just always a lot of Bajorans around on the station... if Bajorans were going to be multi-racial like that, I'd just like to have seen a lot more brown Bajorans around. That's all.

    But there are a lot of black Bajoran characters - they just tend not to have speaking roles.

    Right off the top of my head, I know there are black Bajorans in "The Siege" (when the Bajoran Militia takes control of the station the General enters with black militia members), "Rapture" (during Sisko's prophetic walk through the Promenade he tells one couple, who are both black, that their harvest will be better this year), "Duet" (one of the Bajorans waiting outside Odo's office to see justice done is black) and "Wrongs Darker than Death or Night" (one of the Bajoran "comfort women" is black).

    I'm pretty sure I remember numerous other black background characters like that as well.

    I'm impressed. I'm going to have to look for them on my next viewing! I really don't recall any of that, but maybe I don't pay enough attention to the background.

    Actually, I think Luke handily found the issue here. Until this point, no black Bajorans had speaking roles, so when Kesha appears and speaks up you get a sort of "Hey wait a second..." type of feeling.

    I don't know if I would say there's anything dubious going on here, but I agree that like with T'Pel from Voyager, there's something jarring about alien-yet-same-race casting.

    Here's the problem. When you do something like mixed-race couples, you face two issues simultaneously. Firstly you set up that in the future people look past race and it doesn't matter to them. But secondly you get all the viewers who will take conspicuous note of it and where the fact of a mixed-race couple will become the object of their focus, when within the context of the scene it's suppsed to be of no importance. This isn't like the Kirk/Uhura kiss or the Dax/Kahn kiss, where the writers went in knowing it would create a stir despite the episode not being about that. Here, although the stir would be lesser, it would still unsettle some throwback viewers, cause others to take note but approve, and others yet to wonder why there are no black people on the show other than Sisko and Jake. It's a no-win scenario, because whether the reaction is good/bad/indifferent it pulls focus from Nog's problem. The only logical solution is to do what they did and not make an issue out of who Jake is dating just for the sake of a race-relations political statement. Should there be mixed-race couples on DS9? Yes. But actually there are anyhow: Dax/Worf, Kira/Odo, Quark/Grilka, Miles/Keiko; and the list goes on. The fact that they're not specifically black/white is a hang-up with the viewer, not with the show. And Michael Dorn is black anyhow, for what it's worth.

    The small irony that keeping Jake's date black raised concern with a few people here on Jammer's site doesn't seem to me to compare with the attention-draw making her white would have done. Like it or not, that's the reality. The show needed to prioritize its main story this time around. It was too serious.

    @Peter G.

    Are you kidding? In TNG, Geordi practically dates a new white woman every month. I don't think the stir is as big as you're making out to be.

    @ Chrome,

    Within the Trek universe I agree with you. But somehow I think it wouldn't been different in DS9. You have the first black commander in Trek, and he and his son are two of the stars of the show. Geordi was only supporting. And although the show isn't about the fact that they're black, that reality does seep into the show's running narrative about the Bajorans having been oppressed and who are now looking to gain their footing. Even in "Emissary" I find it hard to ignore the fact of a black man being ordered to a post he doesn't want after having lost his wife to a white man who destroyed a Federation fleet. Granted, this is years later, but I guess I feel like race is hard to ignore in DS9. This might be a sign that it isn't as 'Roddenberry' a series as TNG was, and that could be true. But instead of pretending that race doesn't exist - which is one way to go about it - DS9 seems to acknowledge that it does and that it will always take efforts and patience to accept others who are different; whether that's Bajorans, Cardassians, or anyone else. The fact of having bad blood between two races makes it all that much harder to ignore, no less to accept and embrace. I consider that a strength of DS9 rather than a reversion, but indeed I do think it means some of the carefree idealism of TNG couldn't exist in this show in quite the same way.

    Bad typo in my last second sentence should read:

    "But somehow I think it would've been different in DS9."


    "Actually, I think Luke handily found the issue here. Until this point, no black Bajorans had speaking roles, so when Kesha appears and speaks up you get a sort of "Hey wait a second..." type of feeling."

    That's all I've been saying, ya.

    When Picard dates white people it doesn't feel deliberate because there are so many white guest stars all over that statistics just hold that it's not intentional. When 90% of the female guest stars are white and 100% of the love interests of a character are white and there are less than 9 love interests one can just say that, well.... it's incredibly like that all of your love interests are white when the pool is 90% white.

    When the only 3 brown Bajorans that speak are all dating the same character well.... it was intentional. There's no way it's not intentional. And that feels weird. To me anyway.

    Obviously there are two issues here. #1 - Why do they feel Jake can only date brown Bajorans? #2 - Why are there so few non-white guest stars that this is noticeable. Both are valid questions but #2 is a Hollywood wide problem and #1 is rather unique to DS9. And as you said, T'Pel adds to the eyebrow raising aspect of it all.

    Especially when Jake's mother, Fenna and Kasidy are all black too. So 90% of the speaking guest stars are white but Ben and Jake manage 7 out of 7 for black love interests. It's noticeable, and not in a good way. Obviously people are allowed to have a "type" (Jake obviously goes for the nose crinkle in a big way for instance), but something about it just felt TOO intentional to me while binge watching.

    As I said, I didn't notice it during the initial 7 year run, because things are more noticeable when you watch the whole thing over a 2 month span.

    Watching DS9 for the first time ever in 2016. I never would of thought a Ferengi character would become one of my favorites but Nog was very well written. They have evolved his character in a realistic and engaging way. This was one of the best episodes to me.

    Okay in the 24th century wouldn't the technology exist to deal with his leg injury and psychological distress?

    People who dislike Voyager complain about technobabble but to tell you the truth VOY/TNG hell even ENT show a future where yes sciencing one's way out of a problem and the use of technology to solve and mitigate problems will be routine. It might not make for engaging drama but its true in the predictive sense.

    Ad that's what sci-fi does best

    @ Caedus,

    So, what you'd prefer is a series where there is no personal risk to any crew members and Starfleet is made out to be a pleasure cruise where everyone is always happy? This episode is fundamentally about how "risk is our business" and that sometimes the optimistic dream of serving in Starfleet will come with dangers and negative repercussions. Even if 24th century science could furnish a perfectly functional robotic leg replacement, that doesn't mean there would be no psychological trauma in knowing you've lost your real leg. Plus what Nog went through on AR-558 would be enough to traumatize someone anyhow. And what technology would you like to have seen "deal with" Nog's psychological distress? Why not just have technology 'deal with' all kinds of distress, like in "Brave New World" and no one would ever be upset again?

    Making Nog illiterate was always dumb, and I'm glad he was retconned smarter. It just doesn't fit what the Ferengi are about. If anything, they would be education obsessed, as the better educated make more money.

    A smart Nog also has the side-effect of showing the positive elements of someone being an experienced negotiator. Much better than just using the Ferengi as strawmen.

    Great Vic episode, wonder how sentient he is compared to the doctor in Voyager....

    Of course it's probably necessary to have Nog react like this to his ordeal, but is that how a Ferengi would react to the event? Seems very human to me.

    This was a 4 star for me, not just for the episode but for your review. I really enjoy reading everyone else's too. I'm glad to see I wasn't the only one who appreciated it on many levels.

    This was one of the best minor stories in Star Trek history. It gave consequence to war, showed us a realistic development of a person (Nog), humanized otherwise comic relief characters (Lita/Nog) and flirted with philosophical thoughts of what it means to be sentient (Vic).

    This episode should be a template for any episodic tv series and a blueprint for making side quests in a role playing video game. This totally gave me a Witcher 3 quality feel, wonderful stuff!

    I gotta tell ya,I lost it when Nog started crying,that was so powerful. I love DS9 so much!

    I was fully expecting a 4-star review for this episode. It's an absolute gem, a delight to watch and extremely moving. The creation of Vic Fontaine is a stroke of genius. He's a sort of male Vera Lynn for the troops and is played superbly by James Darren. Wow.

    So...if Nog had headphones (or super sensitive hearing) or Jake had earplugs, none of this episode would have happened? Lazy writing.

    Also, in the 24th century, people are still so racist that they 1) haven't intermarried enough to get rid of distnct races, and 2) pick dates and mates based on skin color, (but not species, apparently). Cowardly writing meant to avoid pearl- clutching conservatives that would balk at seeing the natural evolution of humans into a mixed race mutt or seeing people of different races in intimate relationships.

    Ah, yes.... because all of us "pearl clutching" conservatives really had a problem when, say, Worf (played by a black man) ended up with Dax (played by a white woman). Or when Worf and Ezri hooked up. Or when Bashir and Ezri ultimately ended up together. Or when Worf and Troi had a relationship. Or when Paris (a white guy) married Torres (played by a Hispanic woman) on VOY. Or when LaForge over on TNG only expressed interest in white women. Or when Mayweather ended up having a past relationship with a white woman over on ENT.

    But put two black people together in a realtionship and people actually start pearl clutching.

    Funny how that works.


    I shared a similar sentiment on other threads here. Funny how no one ever finds it curious when white people only date other white people. For example, every single one of Picard's love interests were white (that I am aware of). Huge majority of white characters on various Star Trek shows dated or were romantically interested in other white characters and everyone is apparently OK with it. But the moment a black character shows what appears to be exclusive interest in other black people, we get remarks about that.

    I agree that it's somewhat strange that 24th century humans still seems to think in racial terms, but that goes for ALL humans, black or white.

    I think the issue is that most of the human (and humanoid) characters are white so it is natural for whites to date exclusively white and conversely conspicuous for black to date black.

    The issue is not a double standard in viewing black versus white characters; the issue is the racial balance of the cast to begin with.

    Truth be told, Trek has been way too conservative in its casting for a long long time. The diversity of The Expanse's cast, for example, puts Trek to shame. And it's not only the cast, but characters too. The overwhelming "anglo-saxon-ness + other assorted Germanic peoples-ness" of Trek is grating to say the least.

    Sisko making Quark pay for the holosuite was just obnoxious.

    I didn't see Ezri as being clever in getting Vic to realize he had to kick Nog out. It came across as lucky.

    I would have loved to have seen Vic go rogue and refuse to ever let Nog leave. A different episode, true, but lots of fun to be had. And Vic certainly has enough power to get super evil.

    As it is, it seems like a punishment to keep Vic alive 26 hours a day with only empty hollowsuite characters to talk to. I assume that none of their programming approaches his. It seems pretty close to solitary confinement.

    "As it is, it seems like a punishment to keep Vic alive 26 hours a day with only empty hollowsuite characters to talk to. I assume that none of their programming approaches his. It seems pretty close to solitary confinement. "

    One assumes Quark won't be letting that holosuite run 26/7 without collecting a slip. I assume it'll become a gathering spot for DS9 crew. At least that's what I always felt they were heading towards.

    "One assumes Quark won't be letting that holosuite run 26/7 without collecting a slip. I assume it'll become a gathering spot for DS9 crew. At least that's what I always felt they were heading towards."

    The show was almost getting into Inception territory on this one. You've got a bar on a space station. Within the bar is a holosuite containing another bar, always active. What if the holo-bar had been a modern one rather than a period one; there could have been a holosuite running in there too, containing another bar. Maybe at one point Quark could play a practical joke on them and have them come out of Vic's into "Quark's", which was really still part of the holodeck program, and think they were in the real world. This is all specially amplified by the fact that holosuite physics seems able to do anything spacially.

    Excellent episode. Better than "The Siege of...". That was a strong episode though let down slightly by the cliches and cheap set. It's "war is hell" which is fine but this is a more powerful episode on mental health and coping with adversity. Brilliantly done, even though I'd normally tire of Vic Fontaine, he's perfect for this story. Aron Eisenberg puts in his best performance here.

    I think we're all over-thinking the race thing just a bit much, and tweaking it beyond what's probably more complicated than we as mere fans could assess onscreen.

    What --I-- find amusing is that, while DS9 is the most integrated (I think) of the ST franchises, up to and including finally having a regular Black captain, is how many of the Black actors get stuck in Klingon roles. In most modern ST franchises (TNG, DS9, VOY, even *cough* ENT) you see many of the Black actors cast as costumed aliens, notably Klingons. Kurn is a good recurrent example.

    Is that just me, or does anyone else notice this?


    When I was very young I used to think that all Klingons were played by black people and it was required for the part. But obviously you have actors like Robert O'Reilly playing Gowron who are the complete opposite of this misconception.

    Back to the episode, I wouldn't say we're overthinking it. There could be numerous explanations for same race coupling. Maybe Brooks and Lofton just preferred black women in real life and the showrunners ran with the actors' taste.

    "Maybe Brooks and Lofton just preferred black women in real life and the showrunners ran with the actors' taste. "

    This is probably the best explanation. I didn't personally find it offensive, it just felt deliberate. And therefore noticeable. I have no idea how the casting of these guest stars worked though. Do they bring them in for a test scene with the person they'll be dating? Maybe Lofton likes mocha as much as Jake likes nose crinkles.

    @Chuck: I've read that the reason darker-skinned actors are often cast as aliens is because it makes the job of the makeup artists easier.

    A wonderful episode, that speaks to me as it's where I currently find myself in life. Not the loss of a leg but with other health problems. Shutting yourself away from the world and entering a fantasy world is comforting. It's a brave episode because in a lot of ways it's speaking to all Trek fans. We spend a lot of time in our fantasy worlds, which is detrimental to our lives. However, some of us don't have a choice. I find myself torn between the comfort and the difficulty of moving on...

    "why is it in this progressive Universe, Jake and Sisko's love interests all have to be black? It's pretty noticeable and a little disturbing..."

    I know I'm late on this, but why does this bother you Elliott? Does it also bother you that Picard only ever pursued white women?

    { Even a hologram is better than Ezri in her job! What was the point for bringing her to the show? }

    The hologram wasn't doing Ezri's job. He was just being a housemate who happened to be older and wiser. The key was that he happened to exist in Not Real Life.

    { Unless he's forgotten why the African American community was upset with Disney's lack of willingness to put the princess in The Princess and the Frog with a black man. }

    This is very biased wording. If X doesn't happen, it doesn't mean there must have been a "lack of willingness" for it to happen.

    { There could be numerous explanations for same race coupling. Maybe Brooks and Lofton just preferred black women in real life and the showrunners ran with the actors' taste. }

    That's possible, but it certainly seemed like the show's creators were very reluctant to portray any hint of a stable relationship between two humans of different races/ethnicities.

    Great episode kudos to the writers for what they wanted to do. Again I refuse to get too worked up about a show.

    Thanks to Luke, Chrome and others for pointing out what I was going to mention about the dark skinned Bajoran topic. Not soap boxing just sharing my observations.

    There are many posts made commentors who delved VERY deeply into a given episode who said they never saw a brown/dark skinned bajoran. While it is noticeable that apart from Keisha(They could have put more effort in the name though. Unless father is black, earth human perhaps? I digressed, apologies ) , dark skinned Bajorans rarely had speaking roles, there were plenty of recurring brown Bajorans like the one with the goatee who frequented quarks. The older woman who is often seen on the promenade. There were security officers and vedeks. “Laborers” in flashback episodes

    Personally, I’m of African descent , a Sci-if fan who is also realistic. I know posters like Elliot wished the PTBs would show more courage, well one can’t do everything. The show is still geared toward the 20/21st century audience from 20/21st century Hollywood and one has to pick their fights. As posted by someone else, it is possible that that writers were answering the concerns about Sisko as the hero in BTFS via Benny Russell. Anyway, while romance is at times part of the plot, I don’t watch trek or any of my favorite shows for the romantic subtexts but I am certain that Hollywood is/was a factor in some of the casting and it is only now that mixed race couples are being featured with regularity on commercials etc. I believe one trek actor noted that Hollywood has always had difficulty with black romances.

    One example I noticed is in another one of my favorites, Leverage (The Pretender/A Team hybrid). It’s very obvious that the were careful with Hardison and Parker, while they had several make out scenes on screen these were framed as part of their current con and not “real” although the characters clearly enjoyed the play acting.

    Back to episode, I binge in on all the shows, most of the time while on this site. You guys play rough at times. But like the great material continuum, cyberspace can be treacherous

    Godspeed all!

    No question the Nog character has come a long way from being an annoying kid to a war veteran facing psychological issues. Maybe a stretch for me how he could react to the loss of his leg -- the scene near the end when he's in tears with Vic saying that he couldn't believe he got injured in war was the best part of this episode.

    However, there's a ton of suspension of disbelief for Vic required here, although it makes sense that one could regain a purpose etc. through the holodeck. But for me, it was a long slog to see Nog evolve from shutting everything out to wanting to build a new casino for Vic etc. Way too much Vic singing and just watching the basic stuff happen (Nog greeting guests or hanging out with Vic, doing accounting etc.) I suppose this is needed to show Nog's evolution, but I was slightly bored by it.

    As for Ezri, I wouldn't say she proved herself or anything here. I don't chalk up this episode as a win for her character -- she just basically prodded Vic to cut Nog off but it was really Vic doing the therapy. Her own efforts yielded no fruits. Starting to think Ezri Dax is pretty much useless.

    It's good for DS9 to follow up Nog's leg injury and shine a light on wartime injuries, although Nog's basic duty is not in front line combat. Not like he'll go back to the front lines, presumably anytime soon. He assists Chief O'Brien, so the need to avoid reality is a bit of a stretch -- I think the episode should have played up a bit more flashbacks of being shot. Nog's always been very responsible so I would think he'd like to get back to helping O'Brien...anyhow.

    A high 2 stars -- good character piece for Nog, but not very interesting and somewhat questionable, too much Vic Fontaine fantasy world for me. Was not a fan of Odo/Kira in "His Way" although "It's Only a Paper Moon" is much more serious in making use of Vic Fontaine, who should be a real character -- can't DS9 have an entertainment staff?

    @ Rahul: not sure if you meant if you want Vic to be a real person rather than a hologram or a real character like the Doc on Voyager.

    I liked this episode but this could have been even more interesting if there were some development in Vic as well and draw some parallel between Nog’s escape to the holosuite and Vic being trapped in it. I mean, by this time in the series’ first run, The Doctor on Voyager already had the most character growth on that show and had episodes like “Real Life”. The difference between Vic and the Doctor is how docile Vic is, accepting of his place and let others talk down to him for being a ‘hologram’. This feels strange given what see on the other show that ran in parallel.

    With as much screen time as Vic had, he was probably like Esrinin being introduced too late in the series. Vic would have been DS9’s counsellor if he was allowed a role at the station, and probably could have been the best one Trek has seen. Unlike the doctors, I always thought the counsellors on the series were tough roles to love. That problem goes for Esri too obviously, a few more details could have gave her development in the episode some weight too. She would have been better being an Ensign longer, she is young and look more comfortable to me with the likes of Jake and Nog rather than being hit on by Nog’s uncle. Sisko’s promoting her just felt selfish and wrong; he needed Dax but Esri wasn’t ready and it screams of more nepotism in Starfleet.

    @hlau I for one am perfectly content with Vic's "docility". The idea that a hologram (or, in reality, an AI manufactured by a computer) could be sentient or present as sentient, a la Moriarty (and later the doctor) is an interesting one, worth exploring. But this can't be more than an exceptional circumstance, or else it defies all sense. Quark's holosuite should not be able to just conjure up a sentient AI. I am perfectly happy to conclude that VIC is an incredibly sophisticated intuitive program but still - just a program.

    I’m with Jason R. here. Not every hologram main character needs to be the exception to the rule, otherwise we’re likely to forget there is a rule.

    Besides, isn’t it pretty sweet to imagine there will be games with AI as sophisticated as Vic in the future?

    I think the idea that Vic is clearly a better counselor than Ezri is worth exploring, and was a bit of a lost opportunity. Like Jason and Chrome I see no reason to suppose that because he's an outstanding counselor that he must be sentient. Rather, it could have been a good vehicle to discuss a matter similar to The Ultimate Computer, which is that it's possible the ship's computer is a better counselor than a trained person. What if Ezri's job is made redundant by a machine? That could have been a nice sci-fi premise, especially because the 'machine' in this case appears as a charming human instead of a bunch of vacuum tubes and wires.

    OR - if we're going to be shown that Ezri really is the better counselor, I'd like to have seen them make a good case for her over and above Vic. That was apparently a tough sell, though...

    IIRC, Ezri's one shining moment in the ep is using reverse psychology to convince Vic to turn himself off for Nog's good, which I guess is the counselor equivalent of Kirk making a computer self-destruct with logic.

    @ William,

    She did do that, but all that amounted to was her observing that Nog was better. If he'd had the time and inclination Sisko could probably have come to the same conclusion. Telling that to Vic was more about the fact that Vic was being a bit selfish than about the fact that he was failing at counseling Nog. On the contrary, he did too well for his own good, as succeeding'meant losing the regular company of his friend.

    Yeah, I was being a little sarcastic with "shining" moment. I just meant that her behaviour somewhat fits within the structure of a TOS-esque computer episode, except of course that here the computer really was completely successful.

    @ hlau:

    I just thought Vic should be a real person instead of the inexplicable phenomena of some kind of super-sentient-hologram. We can understand how Doc on VOY developed -- they were upgrading his subroutines, he learned etc. but I don't remember some kind of logical explanation as to how Vic became what he is.

    Like I say, I'd prefer it if they had some kind of entertainment troupe visiting DS9 (for however long) and Vic was part of it and just happened to strike something up with Nog. The 2 could still go to the holodeck etc. In "The Conscience of the King" they had this touring stage company so why no traveling cultural group on DS9?

    @Rahul: I read that a Strange New Worlds story suggested that "The Pup" from season 1's "The Forsaken" had merged with Vic's program and made him "alive." It doesn’t make complete sense but I thought that was a nice way to look at it.

    @Jason R. I agree that the theme has been played out with the Doctor, Data and others and didn’t need to be rehashed in DS9. I do find it interesting that many people find the Doctor to be more of a sentient being than Vic. I mean, where is the line drawn between Vic being just a programme and the Doctor exceeding it? Vic is sentient and self aware, but if you say that he is there to serve a purpose and don’t go outside of that, then the same can be said of all Dominion subjects. The Vorta and Jem’Hedar, unless they are ‘defextive’ stay within the programming of their ‘gods’. I guess a parallel can be drawn there as well.

    For a while in this episode, I did wonder if Vic was helping Nog out of self interest and kept him there because he gets to live a full life and if Esri was callin him out on it.

    2 stars. I was not crazy about this one

    I guess this episode was the answer to those fans who always complained about TNG or VOY not doing follow ups. But you see why TNG wisely didn’t do follow ups—they’re not very exciting to watch as someone works through their issues following a traumatic event and why I didn’t mind TNG handling those offscreen instead.

    I’m sorry but interminable scenes of Vic singing and 60s era atmosphere isn’t why I watch Trek. If I want to watch a show set in that era I could. It just seems like it wastes the whole sff setting. And much like war episodes DS9 has done it feels a little too cliche and not nearly as well done as actual war films on these various relevant issues that spring from Combat

    I’d be more than happy if Nog’s therapy had taken place offscreen. And like a lot of episodes in the final season it just seems like waste of airtime when there was so much more interesting stuff the writers could have explored

    We're calling people racist for not dating people of a specifc race on screen? Seriously? Has everyone on this thread made sure to date all races in equal proportion?

    There's plenty of mixed race couples on DS9 but it doesn't mean that every single black or asian person must have a white partner. That's crazy! It's no more of a problem than countless white characters only dating countless other white characters.

    Had Jake had a thing with a white girl (I'm assuming we're ignoring the creepy older white alien woman in muse) would we start objecting that he hadn't also had a relationship with an asian or hispanic woman? If we think that the writers had some sort of stance against mixed race relationships then why are we ignoring Dax and Worf, O Brian and Keiko, Quark and his Klingon wife and numerous others? The mind boggles, it really does.

    "There's plenty of mixed race couples on DS9"

    Well, two (O'Brien/Keiko Dax/Worf) but those are both holdovers from TNG.

    This has got to be one of the realest episodes of DS9. Nog's psychological response to trauma is 100 percent accurate. It's the same realization I had when a close family member got a serious illness. All those youthful illusions of invulnerability go out the door, and paralyzing fear sets in. Vic's advice was about the only good advice anyone with an ounce of wisdom could give.

    This is up there with "The Visitor," Necessary Evil," and a few others as my personal favorites.

    On the topic of interracial romance, I always thought that the one that made the most sense was Kira/Sisko, and for a few reasons that may not be obvious.

    1. Kira obviously has a thing for influential/powerful men in the Bajoran hierarchy. Who is higher than the Emissary?
    2.You don't see it much, but Kira seemed to have an almost maternal relationship with Jake. Just look at the scene in "The Visitor" when she's comforting him after his father's "death." There aren't a whole lot of opportunities to see it, but that's just a testament to how much of an impression it makes when you do.
    3. Sisko and Kira really challenged each other early on, which made believable the loyalty and the mutual respect they developed later. They're also a good team.
    4. Sisko was the only main character that would eventually take the Bajoran religion as seriously as she did.

    Any one of those things could have been developed further to contribute to a very natural romance plot between the two. The only real strike against it is the most important male character hooking up with the most important female character is a bit trite.

    A lot was fine, I hated the conclusions. There was no indication, on Nog admitting that he's scared of being a soldier, doesn't know if he can continue being one, that Nog should/could consider leaving Starfleet, there are other acceptabl things to do in the real world than being a soldier. And then the ending felt very much like "Extreme Risk", admitting your problems and getting back to normal pretty much does solve them (here it being a few days rather than seconds but still feeling really similar, a disservice to how Nog and Torres had felt and acted before).

    De Boer had some moments elsewhere but she was really bad in this episode, I had no idea whether Dax was being, as Jammer thought, clever or was actually oblivious, regardless with either interpretation she was far from persuasive.

    I also didn't like that there was no acknowledgment from anyone, especially given other characters bashing Bashir's programs, that Vic had previously interacted significantly with Odo and helped bring him and Kira together.

    Watching and commenting:

    --A moving start, brings a tear to my eye, this nice scene as Nog hobbles off the transport.

    --Just leave Nog alone. I'd need some alone time, too, and plenty of it.

    --The smooth stylings of Vic Fontaine. I listen to Sinatra when I need to, so again, my sympathies are totally with Nog.

    --Flashing back - yeah, trauma is like that. You keep going back there. And back there. And back there, to that old familiar place.

    --"I don't want to go back to my life." And there you have it in a nutshell, Nog.

    --I like Vic and I love James Darren. He's great in the role. What's not to love?

    --"Dollface." The perfect name for Ezri.

    --This is adorable. I'm impressed to see such a nicely done holographic episode. And one centered on a Ferenghi. That's a tricky feat to pull off.

    --"I'm going to give you your life back." The life he doesn't want back. But it's the only one he's got.

    --"I couldn't believe it." Yep. And then: Acceptance. Gotta get to that last stage. More tears for me.

    So much going on here, with Vic as well as Nog. Lovely, just lovely.

    Having read commentary:

    --You know - that ending. After Nog told Vic how he was giving Vic the gift of 26/hr a day life, I really think a better ending would be this: Vic, after expressing his delight and gratitude, watches Nog leave. Then he shakes his head, smiles, and says: "Computer, end program." Because in the end, you've got to go back to who you really are, to where you belong. (I actually thought he was going to do it, but he didn't.)

    --This is a nicely done ep about the consequences of Nog's injury, but I didn't see it (the part about showing some consequences) as unique in the Trekverse. And unless we see a lot more consequences for Nog, this will be right there with all of Trek, in giving us a pretty quick fix, when the consequences of trauma are occasionally addressed.


    "--This is a nicely done ep about the consequences of Nog's injury, but I didn't see it (the part about showing some consequences) as unique in the Trekverse. And unless we see a lot more consequences for Nog, this will be right there with all of Trek, in giving us a pretty quick fix, when the consequences of trauma are occasionally addressed."

    -It's a quick fix in terms of the show, not in the universe itself. Nog is in there for quite some time.

    -Has there been another example of this? I can't remember off the top of my head. "Lessons" acknowledges "The Inner Light", but this is far more direct (I love "Lessons", for the record).


    --I did mean "in the DS9-verse," in that I think a few weeks in a holosuite is a pretty quick fix.

    --We haven't seen these specifics before, but off the top of my head, I can remember watching B'Ellana deal with the trauma of her childhood and losing all her Maqui friends; L'waxana dealing with the repressed pain from death of her young daughter . . . I'm sure there's more, but I'd have to dig, I'm specifically thinking maybe Tripp and his sister's death, Picard and his Borg experience, Seven and her Borg experience . . . did we see Worf deal with Kalarh's death? I don't remember. I just don't think "an episode based on a character working through his or her past trauma" is a new thing for Trek. I'm guessing there are dozens of eps. Though certainly doing it this way was unique, imaginative, and just nicely realized.

    @Springy, Iceman:

    I think some of what sets this apart from *some* of Springy's examples is that, formally, this episode is in response not to a piece of "character background" either part of the "character bible" (as with Seven's Borg past or B'Elanna's childhood) or introduced within the episode, in a way consistent with the character's bible (ala Lwaxana's daughter's death), but an event specifically from a previous episode. Those Seven and B'Elanna examples (as with Odo's isolation as a changeling etc.) are part of the foundational structures of the characters rather than responses to particular events within the narrative, so they feel a little different.

    On the other hand, B'Elanna dealing with the Maquis deaths in Extreme Risk, or Picard dealing with BoBW or The Inner Light in Family/Lessons, are follow-ups to events in previous episodes which aren't as much part of the basic set-up of the character, and are more similar to Nog here.

    This isn't me saying that this episode is automatically better than an episode about Seven dealing with her Borg past, or Lwaxana dealing with a trauma that happened before the series began and about which we only found out about during that ep. This episode is a good episode because it's a good episode, and that it's a follow-up to Nog's injury in a previous episode isn't essential for that. For another DS9 example, I love Hard Time and that's all about a trauma which was introduced totally ad hoc at the episode's opening for the purposes of that story. It's more just interesting to note structurally what sets this episode apart from many other "consequences" eps in Trek.

    There weren't any episodes directly about Worf dealing with K'Ehleyr's death, but the whole Worf/Alexander story in TNG was related to it, and New Ground and Firstborn especially seem to pay attention to how K'Ehleyr's death looms over how Worf and Alexander see each other.

    It's also unusual that the episode focuses almost exclusively Nog and Vic, despite being recurring (non-regular) players. The main cast, especially Quark, have some key scenes but it's mostly a two-hander. This is fairly unique even within DS9 -- are there any previous episodes in which *none* of the regulars are all that central to the story? There are many episodes which focus heavily on recurring players (Dukat, Garak, Rom, Winn etc.) but usually it's in the context of a relationship with a main character (Kira or Sisko with Dukat or Winn, Bashir or Odo or various for Garak, Quark or O'Brien for Rom) or a full ensemble piece with both regulars and non-regulars playing big roles (as in the arc at the start of s6). This is easy to compare even to another episode this season: despite Garak being arguably a more central recurring player than Nog, Afterimage (again, arguably) plays Garak's trauma in a shallow way in order to sell the story of the just-introduced regular Ezri.

    (Just to add, re: Afterimage, that Garak has trauma about feeling that he is betraying Cardassia is not at all a problem, but it's given resolution within the episode in a less-than-compelling way, IMO; it's perhaps unfair to say it's because the episode prioritizes Ezri's story over his, rather than it just being an honest misjudgment of how to balance the two main stories in that episode.)

    Last point: skimming through the episode list, there are a few edge cases in terms of the main cast involvement. Valiant is sort of a Nog-Jake story, but Nog has a much more active role (the Voice of Reason who gets thrown in the brig isn't that big a role); Once More Unto the Breach is more about Kor and Martok than Worf, though I think Worf is more central there than any of the regulars are in this one. Certainly there are episodes that give *as much* or even more attention to the non-regular as to the regular (e.g. The Die is Cast is about both Garak and Odo, not Odo with a side of Garak), it's just very rare for the regulars to be as decentred as this. Which is, again, formally interesting, more so than artistically interesting. I suspect it's easier to do these kinds of stories late in the series because the main cast are bound to be less protective of their status (partly because the show is ending so they aren't worried about losing their job, partly because, besides new arrival Nicole deBoer, they've been working hard for six and a half years and are probably exhausted) and there's less need to protect the show from cancellation for going too far off the promised "script" (of what or who gets the focus). Certainly Avery Brooks' centrality has wound down this season up to this point.

    This one certainly hits some of the same beats as "Family" which begins with Picard stating how all his wounds have been healed and feels better physically, but Counselor Troi is quick to point out that he may have psychological trauma (boy, does he ever!). The odd point here is that Nog himself won't admit he's physically better because he knows that nursing his wound will prevent him from a catastrophe the likes of "The Siege of AR-C3PO" which in the end is its own sort of psychological condition. But like Picard in "Family", there's a thematic similarity where someone close with more emotionally sound reasoning (Robert) can pick up that the wounded protagonist is denying their own passions by avoiding the associated risks with those passions.

    To that end, I agree with Springy, that this one isn't a standout in the psychological trauma front on the face of it. I think the key detail of interest here is that we're dealing with a future with technology so advanced that all your wants and desires can be solved by simple pleasures like the holodeck. Nog's got a job he's good at, he's got buddies who help make him confident, and he even gets to hang around friendly humans like the ones who inspired him to enter Starfleet. Why should he risk his life and go fight for Starfleet? Isn't giving his leg enough? He can have his cake and eat it too in the holodeck.

    So, there's an element of holo-addiction here (see TNG's "Hollow Pursuits"). Nog's got it good in the holodeck, but wha'st he losing by staying there? To tack on to William B's point the answer to what Nog's missing is precisely in the cast. He's missing Sisko his mentor, Rom and his mother Leeta who have been rooting for him in Starfleet, and - he's even missing Jake to some degree because he can only be with the Jake Sisko who pretends along with him in the holodeck. So the success in this one may not be it's uniqueness as much as its marriage of two winning concepts from other shows being performed by two minor characters the show hasn't deeply explored yet.

    @William B,

    Yes, agree this ep was particularly well done and had unique aspects.

    Was just responding to several comments I read suggesting the other Treks would never have even dealt with the trauma, never shown consequences . . . I disagree. Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don't. I sure couldn't tell you, off the top of my head, which series does it best or most often.

    --They're all basically adventure shows that put their characters through things like . . . Miles and his 20 years in prison . . . all the time. And they need their characters up and running quickly. So we see what we see. I'm ok with it.

    @William B-

    I'm going to defend "Hard Time" here-it was all about the consequences. It was basically "It's Only a Paper Moon", with the events of "Siege" told in flashback. Plus, as you mentioned in "The Inner Light" comments, a random outside event is not a good catalyst for character development. They spent an entire episode of O'Brien coming to terms with his trauma! That's how episodic television works-it's not inherently inferior to serialized television.

    @Iceman, agreed, for sure. Hard Time is one of my favourite episodes (I prefer it to It's Only a Paper Moon, which I also think is very good) . I have nothing against episodic drama. I'm more saying that if you want to argue what's formally different about It's Only A Paper Moon, that it's a follow-up to a previous episode is the reason. Not a quality judgment at all.

    @ William B,
    Although there is some debate about the meaning of the last act of Shane, it is not about an indestructible gunfighter. Indeed, the book makes it pretty clear that the opposite is true. Although the ds9 episode reveals the ending of the movie, I still highly recommend Shane as a great American movie, and the book is also excellent.

    Aron Eisenberg passed away last night and I watched this episode again in Tribute. Still one of the best episodes of the series, and probably the best holodeck episode of the series.

    RIP Aron.

    This is my favourite Aron Eisenberg performance, though I agree with other comments that he's great in AR558 and Treachery, Faith and the Great River too. I'd add Heart of Stone, In the Cards and The Magnificent Ferengi as some dramatic and comic highlights. He did a lot with what began as a somewhat thankless role, which seemed to be primarily designed to develop Quark and Jake initially, and was a standout recurring player in a show with a huge number of them. RIP.

    While I think "Treachery, Faith and the Great River" is a slightly better episode overall, this is definitely my favorite Aron Eisenberg performance as well.

    RIP Mr. Eisenberg. You were one of the best characters on the best Star Trek series. You navigated the waters of the Great Material Continuum, avoiding the shoals of bankruptcy and seeking the strong winds of prosperity, and you did it well. Enjoy your new life in the Divine Treasury, because we all know the Celestial Auctioneers accepted your bribe, good sir.


    Heard about Aron's death earlier today and wanted to write a tribute to him on the thread of my favorite Nog ep.

    He was a great performer. He worked magic with the character of Nog. Nog was an annoying, often inconsiderate, sometimes unethical, usually sexist, little twerp. Yet he wasn't. Yet I was interested in him, and I rooted for him. Because he was those things, but he was so much more than just those things.

    This episode - if anyone had told me a holodeck ep, centered on a Ferenghi, would be one of my favorites of the series, I would never have believed it.

    I know the writers and directors and the others actors all did their parts, of course, but in the hands of a lesser talent, a lesser light, than Aron Eisenberg, Nog would have been a bust who would have mercifully faded away by Season 3.

    RIP, Aron, and thanks for the memories.

    I liked this Nog Episode the most.
    By the way Eisenberg means Iron mountain in German. :)
    Farewell little mountain.

    Fantastic episode but again, as mentioned earlier, hammers home the trope that everyone in the future listens to music from centuries before. Classical, Big Band and the like or they're all fascinated by old stories (Sherlock Holmes/Captain Proton/Shakespeare)

    Everything moved forward, medicine, technology but music and art just stopped.

    But yeah. Goof episode.

    Have spent most of today collapsed on a sofa with my partner after a long flight, binging DS9 together -- this was as far as we got, and man, was it a hell of an episode to reach.

    Busy few days, but I'll definitely be writing up something substantial at some point: my partner (who knows of my habit of writing up thousands of words about things) has practically *commanded* me to write an essay on this one. It's been a definite favourite for both of us.

    For now: I just wanna say that my partner is big on war stories, has seen a *lot* of stories about war and old soldiers in his time... and he says this episode is one of the very best depictions of PTSD he's ever seen. And that's saying somethin'.

    God damn, Nog. Kid's had a hell of a life.

    As previously mentioned, I’m not a fan of Vic Fontaine; there’s just too much of a cultural gulf for me to enjoy the character, his music or the setting he’s placed in.

    But even so, this is still a superb episode. Because Vic’s cabaret club is just the container through which we get to see a much deeper story: the convalescence of Nog.

    DS9 has previously taken several looks at the impact war has on the people who get caught up in it, from civilian survivors (The Quickening), to support and medical teams (Nor the Battle to the Strong) and then to the soldiers themselves (AR-588).

    But in general, the combination of the episodic “reset button” format and Star Trek’s roots in Western/Space Opera pulp fiction has meant that we’ve seldom seen any psychological effects on the characters in DS9; they can crashland a runabout on a random planet, bury their dead, kill a dozen Jem Hadar, strike up a relationship with a random alien, steal a spaceship with the assistance of said alien (with optional tragic self-sacrifice), and then make it back to DS9 in time for last orders at Quark’s bar, before retiring to bed and getting up to do the very same again the next day without even batting an eyelid.

    However, for once, this doesn’t happen. Nog finally returns from his brief stint on the front lines, where he saw violent action and ended up badly injured. With his leg replaced with a robotic appendage, Nog literally limps back to DS9, only to discover that he can’t just go back to the way things were.

    It’s a classic example of PTSD, and Aron Eisenberg puts on a fantastic performance as a deeply unhappy Nog.

    Equally, the interactions between Nog and Vic are well portrayed. For Nog, the cabaret club is somewhere to heal and hide - perhaps forever. Conversely, Nog’s decision to live in the holosuite gives Vic a chance to experience continuous time - to actually spend time in his apartment and live for more than just the moment. And Vic’s realisation that this situation isn’t sustainable is a bittersweet moment which is very well played.

    Overall, while I’m still not a fan of Vic, this is an episode where the sum does manage to be more than it’s parts.

    It’s a tough episode to watch in light if my personal PTSD, but it’s therapeutic. It’s even harder to watch now that Aron has left us far too soon. But yeah, that’s how we remember why we loved these characters and these people.

    (I was listening to Handel the other night. It’s over 400 years old. So let’s put to rest this notion that we people of the future can’t enjoy old things.)

    Fantastic episode, I'm partial to episodes of Star Trek that boldly go where no Trek has gone before, and this was great.

    I'd give it 4 stars

    Look, I'm sure this episode is really great but I hate Lounge Jazz ok?

    I am a lot more of a John Coltrane/Miles Davis kind of guy, Lounge Jazz **really** irritates me.

    Well I thought this was a heavy story, although some people will disagree. Always been a huge fan of the music, and Darren is a veteran actor with much skill. It really says a lot about the talent of the late Mr. Eisenberg that he could pull off an entire episode with an actor who has dozens of years more acting experience.

    Having been in a similar situation as Nog, I could really empathize. You just need reality to go away for a while. I think Sisko understood this, and a few others. The only poor part of the script for me was Ezri's very clumsy way of forcing the situation to end. Her lack of experience as a therapist really shows - and things could have gotten worse for Nog. I realize that the script writers had to wrap it up, but they handled it crudely. The way Vic pulled the plug so swiftly was a little misguided and out of character.

    Ezri's neotenous features were endearing to me when I was younger, but I wanted to slap her in every scene this time around. I found her pretentious and obvious, and not nearly as subtle as Dax's previous hosts. As a therapist, her efforts were sophomoric at best.

    Still, an overall brilliant episode that highlights why DS9 was so special. It followed where the story went, and that is a brave thing for any writer.

    Briefly - in defensive of Jake, I do believe his character is being handled realistically. Having been a young aspiring writer myself, I spent years spinning my wheels, fairly aimlessly, and gathering experience. One of the things I love about Captain Sisko's parenting style is that he gives Jake the room to make his own mistakes to find his own path.

    A stunning episode. It’s really a masterpiece.

    Very good drama, and some really funny stuff. Lol, everybody calling Julian out on his endless holodeck fantasies was gold.

    The idea of an episode featuring Nog escaping reality by living in Vic’s casino sounds about as good as watching Lwaxana playing strip poker with the Outrageous Okona while Wesley Crusher juggles tribbles.

    No one does sullen better than Nog. But then again, no one does "Yes sir, right away, can do" better than Nog either. He has been a favorite character of mine for a long time. Once he put on a uniform and got away from Jake, he improved enormously. Essence of pluck.

    Loved the episode. Seen as a hero by friends and family, Nog retreats into the lounge to work through his fear of having to return to an unsafe universe. His lingering guilt over Larkin's death is downplayed (a single flashback) but the viewer knows that that's in there too. "I'm not a hero".

    The striking out at Jake was pretty realistic, I thought. Jake represented the attitude that 'normal ol' fun-and-games must return'. .. a pretty spoiled idea during a war. Nog's been patched up, true, but look man, he's lost a leg.

    The whole casino augmentation thing was great. I will always carry the image of Nog with those blueprints in Vic's bachelor pad in active memory! Music was great, no cultural divide interferred as I have been doing a steady diet of Sinatra for several years already. I get it!

    "Welcome to Las Vegas" . Solid 4 stars Pallie!

    one of the best of season 7 , nothing more can be said except it only enhances my appreciation for the Vic Fontaine character and truly to Bashir's point, he's more than a hologram

    @Gary V
    >This has got to be one of the realest episodes of DS9...100 percent accurate.

    Accurate? This episode propagates the pseudo-scientific belief that patient's unexplained physical symptoms are caused by their emotions. Typical skeptics expect the highest standard of evidence for physical (Neurological or Immunological) explanations of unexplained physical symptoms but as soon as psychological explanations are put forward, science & skepticism go out the window.

    This episode tackles the issue of PTSD but 4x19 “Hard Time “ does it much better & to a lesser extent 5x04 "Nor the Battle to the Strong".

    Over all score: 1/10

    Those of you complaining about Ezri being a poor councilor are missing the point. She is character that is unsure about herself and nervous about her role on DS9. She is meant to be a novice councilor who was given the job to increase her confidence.

    Some Star Trek fans only want to see accomplished characters with lots of charisma. They don't appreciate that having novices provides role models for the viewers and gives an opportunity to see the character grow.

    @ Flair,

    I think that's a really good point, at least in the abstract. A good example of this is Chekhov in TOS, who was a bright young officer but totally green and cheerfully clueless. He changes a bit, certainly by the later feature films. The problem with Ezri in this episode, though, is that she not only seems inferior to a holonovel character at counseling, despite having a few hundred years of experience under her belt, but she seems to not really know anything about people at all. It's kind of embarassing how novice she is, almost as if she just started her undergrad. It's one thing to be confused about yourself (god knows many therapists are personally messed up), but she also has no professional techniques, which by this time she should be quite proficient and have tried and true systems to fall back on even if she doesn't trust her own personal experience yet. Just as an analogy, you can take a plumber with solid training and put them through the ringer on a personal level, but they're not going to forget how to connect a pipe.

    @ Flair,
    >fans only want to see accomplished characters with lots of charisma. They don't appreciate that having novices provides role models for the viewers and gives an opportunity to see the character grow.

    I think this episode could have been improved if it was a conflict between Ezri (who thought that Nog's illness was psychosomatic) and Dr. Bashir (who thought Nog's illness was physical).

    In the end science wins over Ezri's nonsense that's no more valid that crystal healers telling us misaligned chakras or too much negative orgone energy are the cause of physical diseases.

    I grew up when the only Trek on TV was TOS. I'm making my way through DS9 for the first time ever... it's not my favorite, but I like it. I love this episode, however. I understand trauma and the appeal of running away from all it means and represents. For having only 45 minutes to work with, they did a good job of presenting the challenges of those who survive.

    I loved Nogg from the earliest episodes. I found his friendship with Jake--whom I also liked a lot, before he turned into an aimless bore--very endearing. I was please and proud when he made it into Starfleet as if he was my own kid. Crazy, right!

    This episode, though, was...not very good. It doesn't deal with P.T.S.D. credibly and only those who know absolutely nothing about it beyond skimming through a few third-hand snippets would think otherwise. Yes, those who've experienced the horrors of war(fare) often end up with immanent demons to fight, and that is both expressed and pursued in different ways. It IS possible they lash out at people and alienate their loved ones, and it IS possible they immerse themselves in activities (or A particular activity, where they go ALL in) to distract themselves and allow their mind to heal. But one gets the distinct feeling that this was a chance to film the show in a 1960s' setting and not have to bother with science, tech., or "technobabble," and the writers were all over it. Another low-effort ep.

    The Dollar-Tree Mel Brooks wasn't nearly as annoying as I'd feared; quite the contrary. Maybe I WON'T fast-forward scenes with him in from now on. (As an aside, he talks kinda the way I used to before I became mortified about being a Noo Yorkah, given what an absolute shithole that city has become and started working hard on changing my accent.)

    As for Dax v.8.0, my problem with her is not that she lacks confidence or is still finding herself as a "counselor," but that she IS a "counselor." I wasn't interested in Diana "Follow That Brick" Troi in T.N.G. (despite crushing on her BAAAAAAAAAAD as a kid in the 80s/90s) and I'm not interested in this one. I don't think there's no place for therapy--although the latter-day trend of wearing one's heart on one's sleeve to the point you're weird if you DON'T have a "mental health problem" is just way O.T.T.--but it's not something I'm remotely interested in watching, in any T.V. genre. (It doesn't help that psychiatry and psychology are little more than guesswork charged at $200+ an hour -- criminal!)

    On another note, are we seriously to believe that, three centuries from now, they're not able to just grow or 3D-print or something another, honest-to-goodness real limb!?!

    I dunno... - 2-1/2, maybe 3, stars.

    Aron Eisenberg just shines in this episode. Looking back at the last interviews he did before he passed, you can see how much this show meant to him —and with scripts like this, it’s no wonder. Nog really developed into a fully rounded character as well as becoming a fan favorite.

    And as much as I think the producers overindulged themselves with the Vic Fontaine character, this was the perfect story for him and his singing. (Admittedly, I’m a fan of James Darren from watching him in reruns of Time Tunnel back in the day). I know they tried to get other actors for the Fontaine role, but I don’t think any of them would’ve brought the charm Darren did to the role.

    Yes, a heavy subject to try to cover over a single episode, but I loved the performances & it says something about the writers, producers & cast that they pulled off such a fine story without using the main cast.

    One of the worst DS9 episodes of all time...maybe THE worst. Trek is best when it's stories and characters are forward looking, not backwards looking. Best when they focus on the big picture and not their egos. Nog used to be a great character and is well acted...but this was an awful Nog episode. What makes the Ferengi special is they can be oblivious to adversity whatever their goal is. They aren't self-conscious and don't over think things. Depression is a form of self-obsession and makes for AWFUL tv. This was also another awful Vic episode. He's the "Mary Sue" of holodeck characters, which makes him one-dimensional and obvious.

    One of the GOAT episodes of trek. It hits all the feels. How Nog has to deal with his depression is laid out bare. and then addressed in such a way that makes sense. The only thing wrong with this ep is doesnt include everyones favorite tailor on DS9.

    How odd that so many people in the comments complain about a supposed lack of mixed-race dating on DS9 when not a single one of Bashir's love interests is of the same ethnicity as Alexander Siddig. They are pretty much all white women. And Jake has a multi-episode romance with a white Bajoran who he even brings home to meet his father! There should have been more non-white Bajorans with speaking roles, but there are noticeably more Black extras on DS9 than on TNG or VOY.

    This was a moving episode that made great use of Vic Fontaine and Nog.

    I'm not reading through every response (forgive me) vut all that discussion about same race relationships etc etc skipped Miles and Keiko.


    This was the first DS9 episode I ever saw. I didn't entirely understand the context when I first saw it, but the plot and themes are well-contained enough that it stands on its own quite well in spite of that.

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