Written by Mark Gehred-O’Connell and Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by Alexander Singer
Season 2, Episode 9
Production episode 40512-429
Original air date: November 21, 1993
Station log: Sisko’s been having trouble sleeping. It took him a few days to realize that it’s the fourth anniversary of his wife Jennifer’s death at Wolf 359. He’s concerned that the date almost passed without him noticing it consciously. Jake also is having trouble sleeping—he had a weird dream about not being able to find his way back to their quarters or his father. Before going back to sleep, Jake says, “Dad—I miss her.” Sisko quietly says, “Me, too.”
Still sleepless, Sisko walks the Promenade, staring out into space. He’s surprised by a woman named Fenna, and they start to chat about constellations and commanding the station and such. At one point Sisko looks away, starting to offer her a tour of the station, but when he turns back to her, she’s gone.
The next morning, Sisko shows up at ops in a spectacularly good mood. He also orders a tea instead of his usual morning raktajino. Dax then summons him to the science lab to meet the terraformer, Dr. Gideon Seyetik. The professor is charming, gregarious, outgoing, and incredibly full of himself. He’s here to reignite the sun Epsilon 119, which will be his crowning achievement as a scientist.
Later, Dax and Sisko are having dinner, and she notices that he’s distracted. After she leaves, Fenna appears out of nowhere. She apologizes for disappearing and asks if the offer of a station tour is still open. The tour goes swimmingly, and he invites her to have a picnic with him on an upper pylon the following evening. But when he asks her to talk about herself, she panics and runs away.
At breakfast the next morning, Jake guesses that Sisko is in love and gives the notion of his father in a relationship his blessing. Sisko then asks Odo if he can find out anything about Fenna, though the amount of information he can provide is minimal. Dax takes Sisko aside and asks him to tell her about Fenna, which he promises to do as soon as there’s something to say.
The senior staff boards the Prometheus to have dinner with Seyetik. The meal is prepared by hand by Seyetik’s wife, Nidell—who turns out to be a dead ringer for Fenna. She looks miserable, and after dinner she insists that she never met Sisko before this evening. She reacts oddly when Sisko mentions the name Fenna, but she also insists that he’s mistaken her for someone else. As an added wrinkle, Odo informs Sisko that Seyetik is the only person who has left the Prometheus since it docked.
When he returns to his quarters, Fenna appears and embraces him. She insists that she isn’t Nidell and she isn’t married to Seyetik—and she doesn’t have a twin sister that she’s aware of. They kiss—and then she suddenly disappears right in front of him.
Sisko decides to join Dax on the Prometheus for the reignition of Epsilon 119 to see if he can find out what the hell’s going on. Seyetik regales him with the story of how he met Nidell.
To his surprise, Fenna appears in Sisko’s cabin. He immediately calls Dax to his quarters. She insists that she’ll never leave him again—but when Dax examines her, she finds no mass, only energy. They go to Seyetik’s quarters, only to find Nidell in a coma. To Sisko’s shock, Seyetik recognizes Fenna, saying Nidell promised him she’d never return. Seyetik explains that Nidell is a psychoprojective telepath, and that Fenna is a subconscious expression of her. Dax takes Fenna to Sisko’s quarters, and Seyetik admits the truth to Sisko: in times of deep, emotional stress, this sort of thing can happen. She’s grown weary of living with Seyetik, just like all of his previous wives, but her people mate for life, so she’s stuck with him, and that misery is leading to the projection of Fenna.
Sisko convinces Fenna to go back to Nidell, even though it means her “death.” Their relationship is only a dream—Nidell’s dream. They kiss one last time, then Dax summons Sisko to the bridge. Seyetik is on the shuttle that’s delivering the protomatter, which is a suicide mission (it was supposed to be a remote controlled shuttle). This is his crowning achievement, which he’d be hard-pressed to top, and besides, this is the only way to free Nidell. She deserves that much.
Seyetik crashes the shuttle, the sun is reignited, Fenna disappears, and Nidell recovers. She comes to say goodbye to Sisko, and says she wishes she could remember Fenna. Sisko says it’s all right—he can remember for them both. He also lies and says that Fenna was just like Nidell.
Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Seyetik’s plan to reignite the sun involves delivering protomatter that will convert the star’s elements to hydrogen.
The Sisko is of Bajor: For the first time since Jennifer died, Sisko is able to flirt with a woman and consider the possibility of a relationship. But it all goes to crap when she turns out to be a telepathic projection. Don’t you hate when that happens?
Rules of Acquisition: Quark instantly recognizes when Sisko is having woman issues and offers him a drink and a holosuite, both of which he turns down. Quark drinks the drink himself.
The slug in your belly: Dax gives Sisko a hard time for not telling her about Fenna, saying that he used to tell Curzon everything, and admitting that it’s harder to have a man-to-man talk with a woman.
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: According to Nog, as reported by Jake to Sisko, there are three signs to being in love: loss of appetite, daydreaming, and smiling more than usual. Jake sees those signs in his father after he gives Fenna the tour of the station.
Keep your ears open: “Commander, do you think he’d notice if we weren’t here when he got back?”
“Don’t even think about it, Major. I’ve had dinner with about two dozen Bajoran ministers. I think you owe me this one. Besides, Seyetik is one of the Federation’s greatest minds.”
“I know—he told me.”
Sisko and Kira on Seyetik’s insufferability.
Welcome aboard: The late great Richard Kiley plays Seyetik with verve and panache, while Mark Erickson creates no impression whatsoever as Piersall, the Prometheus CO.
But this episode’s Robert Knepper moment is the dual role of Fenna and Nidell, played by a woman credited here as Salli Elise Richardson, but who’s probably better known these days as Salli Richardson-Whitfield, who played Dr. Allison Blake throughout the entire run of Eureka.
Protomatter was last seen in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, where its inherent instability led to the failure of the Genesis device.
Seyetik appears again, after a fashion, in the Starfleet Corps of Engineers story Ishtar Rising by Michael A. Martin & Andy Mangels, which is about terraforming. Martin and Mangels also named a ship after him, the U.S.S. Seyetik, in the Titan novel Taking Wing.
Piersall is identified in the script as a lieutenant commander, but his uniform has a junior-grade lieutenant’s pips (the same mistake would later that year be made on Data’s uniform in the past segments of TNG’s finale “All Good Things…”). The Prometheus itself is unsubtly named after the Greek god who brought fire to humanity.
Seyetik and Sisko talk about a poem entiled “The Fall of Kang,” which is implied to chronicle the final battle of Kang, the Klingon first seen in “Day of the Dove” on the original series. However later this season, Kang will show up alive and well in “Blood Oath.”
Walk with the Prophets: “Let there be light!” To give you an idea how memorable this episode isn’t, when Mike Martin and Andy Mangels turned in their manuscript to me for Ishtar Rising, I assumed that Seyetik was a character they made up. I may have even mentioned that with a name like that, shouldn’t he be a Vulcan? At which point Mike gently reminded me that this was a character who appeared in DS9.
Having said that, the episode isn’t as bad as I feared it would be (I still had almost no memory of it, despite rewatching it back in 2003 when Ishtar Rising came in), which is entirely on the backs of the guest actors. Richard Kiley attacks the role of Seyetik with gusto, finding a nice balance of egotism and charm (a balance that Ken Jenkins failed to manage with a similar role in TNG’s “Evolution”), and the actor formerly known as Salli Elise Richardson does a very nice job in her dual role, displaying both Fenna’s joy and Nidell’s miserable reserve. And the flirting between Sisko and Fenna is well played by both Richardson and Avery Brooks.
But it doesn’t make up for the fact that this feels like yet another transplanted TNG concept—and honestly this probably would’ve worked better on TNG (c’mon, we can all see Riker in Sisko’s place, right?), since it’s really more of a shipboard adventure, and the Prometheus just fits awkwardly into the whole setting. It’s not even clear why the ship needed to be at DS9 in the first place, except that the plot called for it, and the Prometheus crew is strangely absent (like why doesn’t Seyetik call for the ship’s doctor instead of asking Dax, who has no medical training, to help Nidell?).
Warp factor rating: 3
Keith R.A. DeCandido’s latest book is Ragnarok and Roll: Tales of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet, a collection of urban fantasy short stories taking place in Key West, Florida. Look for more on the book on Tor.com in the coming weeks.