“If Wishes Were Horses”
Written by Neil McCrue Crawford & William L. Crawford and Michael Piller
Directed by Robert Legato
Season 1, Episode 15
Production episode 40511-416
Original air date: May 16, 1993
Station log: Quark is annoyed that Odo is hovering in the bar even though it’s mostly empty and tries to talk him into a holosuite program. But Odo has no interest in imaginations or wishes or dreams. (Foreshadowing!) Odo is also aghast when he sees Jake (carrying a bat and what Quark amusingly calls a “baseball mitten”) goes to a holosuite, but Quark explains that it’s a program Sisko brought from his previous assignment. Jake plays baseball with some of the greats of the game.
Elsewhere in the bar, Bashir is trying to convince Dax that he can think of nothing but her, to the detriment of his ability to focus. Dax points out the other women she’s seen him flirt with, which he unconvincingly dismisses as poor substitutes for her. She then just-friends him and heads to ops, where there’s an odd thoron emission.
O’Brien is reading the story of Rumpelstiltskin to Molly before she goes to sleep. But then Rumpelstiltskin himself shows up in her room, to O’Brien’s horror. He shoos Keiko and Molly from their cabin and calls security. The little man manages to evade being grabbed by the guards. Meanwhile, Harmon “Buck” Bokai, a baseball player, follows Jake home from the holosuite, and Dax appears in Bashir’s bed and starts kissing and caressing him. Bashir resists at first, then gives in, then, when Kira calls all senior officers to ops, assumes it’s a practical joke. Dax insists she has no idea what he’s talking about as they go to ops together.
Sisko introduces Bokai and Rumpelstiltskin (the latter is pissed at O’Brien because now everyone knows his name), and asks Dax if this relates to the thoron emission, but Dax has no idea what he’s talking about.
Then Dax—the real one—arrives at ops. The three seem to have been created out of the imaginations of the Sisko family (Bokai), the O’Brien family (Rumpelstiltskin), and Bashir (Fantasy Dax). Bashir examines them—while fending off the amorous advances of Fantasy Dax—and they all read as normal humanoids. Eventually, Bashir gets fed up and tells her he’s not interested right now—at which point Fantasy Dax disappears.
Odo then reports that it’s snowing on the Promenade. Sisko calls for yellow alert, and Odo hilariously orders everyone in Quark’s to stop using their imaginations. This obviously doesn’t work: Quark has a beautiful scantily clad woman on each arm, while all his customers are winning at dabo.
Dax and Bashir are examining the phenomenon that they think has started this. It’s a subspace rupture very much like one that destroyed the Hanoli system in the 23rd century. Fantasy Dax also shows up in the middle of this, revealing way more about Bashir’s thoughts about Dax than Bashir or Dax are at all comfortable with.
They launch a probe to study the rupture, while Rumpelstiltskin makes some veiled threats to O’Brien (and to Molly). Meanwhile, Bokai tries to talk Sisko into throwing the ball around. He also tells Sisko how much he appreciates Sisko’s love for a game that died around him while he was an active player—only 300 people were in the stands for the last World Series game that he helped the Kings win.
Rumpelstiltskin, Bokai, and Fantasy Dax meet and are frustrated by how little they still know. Rumpelstiltskin wants to abandon the mission, but Bokai says he’s made a connection with “his,” adding that “It ain’t over till it’s over.”
The rupture is expanding, and the method used to try to destroy it last time failed. But in the intervening years, technology has improved enough so that O’Brien thinks it will work better this time—besides, if they don’t, the rupture will expand to destroy the Bajoran system anyhow.
The hits keep coming: Kira imagines the lower pylon being destroyed, Odo imagines Quark in a holding cell, and Jake is tempted back to the holosuite by Bokai, though his imagination also conjures up his father to convince him to finish his homework.
The expansion rate of the rupture is increasing. Left with no choice, they fire the torpedoes, but it doesn’t help—the rupture expands and causes major power loss and damage to the station. Fantasy Dax is hurt, and Bashir treats her.
Rumpelstiltskin offers to fix the rupture for his usual price: O’Brien’s first born. But Sisko realizes that the rupture is yet another bit of imagination given form—in this case, Dax’s hypothesizing about the thoron reading. Once everyone stops believing there is a rupture, it disappears. As do Bokai, Rumpelstiltskin, and Fantasy Dax. But the thoron emissions are still there. Sisko orders Dax to examine them—without speculating this time—and has Kira keep the station on yellow alert for another 26 hours just in case.
Bokai appears to Sisko and explains that they’re on a mission to seek out new life and new civilizations (cough). They were intrigued by the imaginations of the people on the station and so allowed the manifestations to be created from them. When Sisko asks for details about their life form, Bokai smiles and says, “Maybe next year,” tosses Sisko a baseball, and disappears.
Can’t we just reverse the polarity?: “Perimeter sensors are picking up a subspace oscillation. What the hell does that mean?” Kira speaking for us all.
The Sisko is of Bajor: Sisko has several holosuite programs that have him and Jake watching and/or playing against many of baseball greats. The only ones mentioned by name (by Quark, who’s made an effort to study up on it, given the Siskos’ interest) are Bokai, Tris Speaker, and Ted Williams.
Don’t ask my opinion next time: Tellingly, and tragically, Kira is the only person who imagines something with no positive connotations whatsoever. Even Dax and O’Brien imagine something that comes from a positive place—O’Brien’s love for his family, Dax’s scientific curiosity—but the one and only thing Kira conjures is a pylon being destroyed and a person on fire.
Rules of Acquisition: Quark’s lust for two hot babes is temporarily subsumed by the agony of everyone in Quark’s winning (which means the house loses). But only temporarily, as he’s later again enjoying the company of the “trollops,” as Odo calls them.
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Bashir’s interest in Dax is put on display for the entire station to see, to Bashir’s chagrin. Dax sympathizes with the invasion of privacy, but not so much with the submissiveness of Fantasy Dax.
What happens on the holosuite stays on the holosuite: With all the humans coming to the station, Quark is considering opening up more holosuites that have family entertainment, in addition to the more sordid ones. This prompts Odo to call Quark disgusting, to which Quark replies happily, “Till the day I die.”
Keep your ears open: “Sorry I’m late. I was having dinner with Julian.”
“How is our young doctor?”
Dax and Sisko nailing Bashir’s personality.
Welcome aboard: Two great character actors in Keone Young and Michael John Anderson play, respectively, the images of Buck Bokai and Rumpelstiltsken. This is the only Trek appearance by Anderson, probably best known as the backwards-talking dream image in Twin Peaks and Samson on Carnivale, but Young will return as the image of Sato’s father on Enterprise’s “Vanishing Point.” Terry Farrell also “guest stars” as Fantasy Dax, and Rosalind Chao and Hana Hatae are back as Keiko and Molly.
Trivial matters: In TNG’s “The Big Goodbye,” Data mentions that a hitter for the London Kings will break Joe DiMaggio’s record for most consecutive games with a hit. In “The Storyteller,” Jake mentioned a great ballplayer named Buck Bokai. This episode reveals that they are one and the same.
The baseball that the alien posing as Bokai gives Sisko at the end will remain the centerpiece of Sisko’s desk for the remainder of the series (and beyond, in the tie-in fiction), and also carry symbolic significance regarding Sisko’s presence on the station.
The Gunji jackdaw was actually an emu. The emu’s trainer was nearby dressed as a Bajoran monk, just in case.
Early drafts of the script called for a leprechaun, but that was changed to Rumpelstiltsken at Colm Meaney’s request, who found that kind of ethnic stereotype inappropriate for Star Trek.
Walk with the Prophets: “No imagination, indeed.” This is yet another really dumb episode that is elevated somewhat by the uniquely DS9 elements, specifically the Quark-Odo banter (Odo chasing an emu around the Promenade is worth the price of admission all by itself—supposedly, it reminded Rene Auberjonois of his work on the Robert Altman film Brewster McCloud) and the interactions between Buck Bokai and Sisko. The exposure of Bashir’s fantasy life is a bit on the creepy side, though it does provide a nice opportunity for Terry Farrell to have fun, and seeing that Kira’s imagination really only can come up with violence and tragedy is illuminating—and also very sad.
And we get Sisko’s baseball! I have to admit, I always remembered that as being something Sisko had from the beginning, not a present from an alien species making a bizarre first contact, so I was pleasantly surprised to see its actual origin here. In general, Keone Young does a superb job as Bokai, and I like the fact that he continues the baseball metaphors all the way to the end, staying in character.
But overall, this is a well Star Trek has dipped into before—“Shore Leave” on the original series, “Where No One Has Gone Before” and “Imaginary Friend” on TNG—and this doesn’t really add enough to it to be all that compelling.
Warp factor rating: 5