Written by Ethan H. Calk and John Shirley
Directed by Reza Badiyi
Season 3, Episode 17
Production episode 40512-463
Original air date: February 27, 1995
Station log: O’Brien is lying on a deck in Ops being treated after a plasma conduit blew up in his face. Bashir has given him hyronalin for the radiation, but he recommends light duty for a few days. For once, O’Brien doesn’t argue.
A delegation of Romulans arrive at the station to go over the intelligence reports the Federation has gathered on the Dominion (as promised when they lent the Defiant a cloaking device). Ruwon and Karina introduce themselves to Sisko and Kira and express no interest in relaxing after their journey, getting right down to business. Complicating matters is a Klingon freighter in for repairs. Sisko instructs Odo to keep an eye on things, they don’t need tensions breaking out.
While in the midst of talking Quark into installing a dart board in the bar, he suddenly finds himself on the Promenade watching himself have a conversation with Quark about repairing a holosuite damaged by the Klingons. Then he’s back in Quark’s, having thrown a bull’s eye into the dart board. Then he collapses. Bashir attributes the collapse to the radiation poisoning, and the hallucination is also a possible side effect as well.
Ruwon wants to know why they haven’t interrogated Odo on the subject of the Dominion’s capabilities, and doesn’t accept Sisko and Kira’s assurances that, while he is a changeling, he is not one of the Founders. They demand everything they have on the Dominion, including any classified documents. Sisko says he has to clear that with Starfleet.
O’Brien is interrupted on a walk by Quark, who has the exact same conversation with him that O’Brien saw in his “vision” earlier. Looking across the way, he sees himself, who then disappears. O’Brien immediately reports this; Dax does a scan and finds temporal disturbances a few hours ago in Quark’s and again a few minutes ago on the Promenade. While Dax is in the middle of spewing some technobabble, O’Brien finds himself in the middle of Quark’s during a bar brawl, where he actually gets to save himself from getting stabbed by a Klingon. Then he’s back in Sisko’s office and collapses.
Bashir is concerned, as there’s damage to his body from the temporal shift, and it will get worse if it happens again. Sisko agrees to tighten security around Quark’s.
The Romulans want to debrief everyone who was on the Defiant when they encountered the Dominion back in “The Search” two-parter and they want unlimited access to the Defiant and to everyone’s personal logs. Sisko says no to the personal logs and only limited Defiant access, but he’s fine with the debriefs.
However, Kira’s debrief focuses on Odo and Kira leaving the Defiant in a shuttle during the attack the Jem’Hadar made on the ship, resulting in their arrival in the Omarian Nebula on the Founder homeworld. Ruwon and Karina ask if Odo has some kind of attraction for her, which Kira dismisses angrily as ridiculous and refuses to answer any further questions, storming out of the briefing.
O’Brien hangs out in Quark’s for a ridiculously long time, including ten straight games of darts with Bashir, waiting for a bar brawl to break out. Bashir insists that nothing will happen, as security is heightened and Quark promised to keep the Klingons out of the bar. But then three Klingons come downstairs—Quark said he’d keep them out of the bar, not the holosuite. Inevitably, the Klingons pick on the Romulans, and the very same brawl breaks out, complete with O’Brien saving himself.
After it’s over, he has another flash-forward, watching himself open a hatch and then get killed by a phaser blast from inside the wall. He then is in the infirmary, back in the present. Bashir says he’s going to be fine, but O’Brien says he’s not, because he’ll be dead in a few hours.
He takes Odo and Sisko to the junction. Odo scans and opens the junction, but they find nothing. Odo places a surveillance device in the corridor, while Dax summons Sisko and O’Brien to Ops. She’s found some low-level tetryon emissions consistent with a singularity, but none of the other signs of a singularity are present. The radiation O’Brien absorbed responds to temporal displacement from quantum singularities, so that might be the issue. Bashir can neutralize it, though he may experience one or two time jumps before the treatment is completed.
Kira has moved the Romulans to new quarters because of issues with the replicators—the new quarters are in the very same corridor where O’Brien saw himself get shot. Sisko decides to still put them there, and let events play out.
Odo detects a device that is beamed into the wall panel in question. They can’t trace the beam, but Odo intends to investigate.
In Quark’s, O’Brien is having difficulty processing watching himself die, while Quark tries to convince O’Brien to check the dabo table numbers the next time he jumps ahead. As O’Brien storms out in disgust at Quark’s greed, he jumps into the future again, this time to the infirmary, where he sees his own dead body. Bashir informs him that he died of radiation poisoning; when he goes back to the present, O’Brien needs to tell Bashir to perform a basilar arterial scan—that should show him the damage that he missed until the autopsy.
Odo has traced the transporter to an empty cabin, where the replicator has been altered to a small transporter with a device from Davlos III, a world on the Klingon border that trades almost exclusively with the empire. Odo has also learned from his sources that the three Klingons on the station are actually a covert strike team that reports directly to the High Council. Odo will hold the Klingons until the Romulans leave.
O’Brien tells Bashir to perform the basilar arterial scan, and Bashir’s reply is “Who am I to argue with me?” Afterward, Bashir gives O’Brien a clean bill of health once the treatment runs its course, and Dax has traced the singularity to something orbiting DS9 in an elliptical pattern.
Then O’Brien jumps forward again, this time to a runabout. O’Brien was awakened by an alarm and went straight from his cabin to the runabout to evacuate as many people as he could. He doesn’t know what happened to anyone else, as communication’s down. Before O’Brien goes back to the present, he sees the station and the wormhole explode.
Sisko orders an evacuation prepared quietly so as not to alert any potential saboteurs. O’Brien suggests deliberately prompting a time-jump, flooding his body with the radiation in question. He and Bashir think they can make it work so that he’s only three hours in the future rather than the five he’s been jumping. He also has to be careful, as he’ll be suffering radiation poisoning.
He jumps ahead to his quarters, where he’s asleep. He wakes himself up and gets himself and himself to Ops, but then a Romulan warbird decloaks and attacks the station. Future O’Brien realizes that the singularity they detected was the one on the Romulan ship. But the present-day O’Brien is dying of radiation poisoning, and so he gives the recall device to future O’Brien, who travels to the past. Bashir is confused by the fact that O’Brien has no sign of radiation in his cells, at which point he realizes it’s future-O’Brien.
O’Brien alerts Sisko to the presence of the cloaked Romulan ship. Sisko interrupts Ruwon and Karina’s debrief of Quark, accompanied by Kira, Odo, and two security guards. Sisko believes that the Romulans planned to destroy the station and collapse the wormhole in order to keep the Alpha Quadrant safe from the Dominion. Sisko also has fifty photon torpedoes trained on the cloaked ship. Ruwon and Karina then decide it’s time to leave, with which Sisko readily agrees, and off they go, escorted by Odo.
As for O’Brien, he knows exactly how the darts game he’s playing with Bashir is going to end, and he also torments Quark by knowing when the table’s about to hit dabo.
Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Apparently a singularity can make a particular type of radiation encounter temporal instability, and send someone who has that radiation in his cells five hours into his own future because SCIENCE!
Don’t ask my opinion next time: After Sisko tells Kira to be diplomatic with the Romulans, she proceeds to be completely (and predictably) undiplomatic, yelling, hitting the table, and walking out on them.
Preservation of mass and energy is for wimps: Odo figures out who sabotaged the replicator and the wall junction and feels the need to explain to Sisko his entire process for acquiring the information. When Sisko asks why Odo didn’t just cut to the chase, Odo says, “Well, sometimes I have to remind you just how good I am.” At another point, he provides Sisko with a list of people he's going to investigate, with Quark on the list. Sisko is surprised at this, as this doesn't seem like something Quark would be involved in, at which point Odo says, in as close to a “duh!” tone as Rene Auberjonois is ever likely to use, that he always investigates Quark...
Rules of Acquisition: When he’s debriefed by the Romulans, Ruwon says he thinks Quark is lying, and when Quark asks about which part, Ruwon says, “All of it.” Quark allows as how at least he’s consistent.
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Kira is outraged at the insinuation Ruwon and Karina make regarding Odo being attracted to her, and Odo pretends to be just as outraged.
Victory is life: Ruwon describes the Dominion as the greatest threat the Alpha Quadrant has ever faced—and he puts his money where his mouth is, as the Romulans plan to blow up the station and collapse the wormhole in order to avoid that threat.
What happens on the holosuite stays on the holosuite: Quark only rents out the holosuites to Klingons if they pay double because of all the damage they do, and he talks them up to triple after he bans from the bar to avoid O’Brien’s bar brawl (which happens anyhow, but hey, Quark still gets his latinum).
Keep your ears open: “Well, you do have one problem: if all you can hallucinate about is Quark’s maintenance problems, you do have a sadly deficient fantasy life.”
Bashir’s diagnosis of O’Brien’s first time-jump, which they think is a hallucination.
Welcome aboard: Jack Shearer, who previously played Vadosia in “The Forsaken,” is Ruwon; he’ll be back as two different Starfleet admirals, Strickler in Voyager’s “Non Sequitur” and Hayes in Star Trek: First Contact as well as theVoyager episodes “Hope and Fear” and “Life Line.” Annette Helde makes the first of several Trek appearances as Karina; she’ll be back in “The Siege of AR-558” as Larkin, and also in Voyager’s “Scientific Method” as Takar and an assimilated Enterprise crew member in First Contact.
Trivial matters: O’Brien experiences six time jumps: he sees his future self talking to Quark about holosuite repair, he sees the brawl in Quark’s, he sees himself shot by a phaser blast from a wall, he sees himself dead in the infirmary, he sees Deep Space 9 evacuated and then destroyed, and then he goes three hours into the future and is killed. This means the O’Brien we get for the rest of the series is one from three hours in the future.
Although veteran novelist and some time screenwriter John Shirley got sole teleplay credit, the script received an uncredited rewrite by Ronald D. Moore, who was the one who had the present-day O’Brien dying and threw in the reference to hyronalin, the radiation treatment first mentioned in the original series episode “The Deadly Years.” This was Shirley’s first script for live-action television, though he’d written for animated TV series in the past, as well as the screenplay for The Crow.
This episode has the dart board, which debuted in the previous episode, “Prophet Motive,” moved to Quark’s for the first time. It will remain there for the rest of the series.
The Federation promised to share intelligence reports on the Dominion in exchange for use of the cloaking device in “The Search, Part I.” Having been stymied in their attempt to collapse the wormhole, the Romulans will put this intelligence to other uses in “The Die is Cast.”
Walk with the Prophets: “I hate temporal mechanics.” On the one hand, this feels like yet another TNG story that wandered into the wrong studio on the Paramount lot by accident. It’s loaded with craptons o’ technobabble, with lots of made-up science (with just enough real terminology like “singularity” and “radiation” and—well, that’s it, really—to make it almost sound convincing), and the solution happens because of a manipulation of the made-up science that sounds clever but isn’t because it only works at all because the script says it does.
Having said that, there are some important differences. For one thing, it’s still got lots of very DS9-ish stuff, most notably following up on the Romulans’ quid for the pro quo of lending a cloaking device, which is nice to see. In general, it’s good to see more Romulans on the show, and we’ll be seeing them again very soon.
But what sets this in particular apart from the standard TNG (and later, Voyager) style technobabble episodes is that the episode is blessedly absent of any moralizing over changing the timelines or mucking about with history. Everyone is pretty straightforward about O’Brien actually changing history for the better where at all possible. No agonizing, no angsting, just trying to make sure that people don’t die.
Which, frankly, is how it should be.
Having said all that, the episode isn’t all that memorable because it’s ultimately a technobabble episode. Worse, it’s a bad technobable episode because it doesn’t even keep up with its own stuff. It was established back in “Timescape” on TNG that Romulans use singularities to power their warp drive. Why wasn’t a Romulan ship the first thing they thought of when Dax detected a singularity in an elliptical orbit, especially since there are Romulans right there on the friggin’ station????
The best moments are, as always the character bits: O’Brien all but bullying Quark into installing a dart board, Kira blowing up at the Romulans, Odo showing off to Sisko, and so on. It’s a fun vehicle for Colm Meaney—particularly his “Not you again!” to himself on the final time jump—but that’s all it is.
Warp factor rating: 6
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