“Image in the Sand”
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
Directed by Les Landau
Season 7, Episode 1
Production episode 40510-551
Original air date: September 30, 1998
Station log: After a summary of “Tears of the Prophets,” we jump ahead three months. Kira has been promoted to colonel, and is apprehensive about her upcoming meeting with Ross, as the admiral has been unusually nice and polite. Turns out he’s there to tell Kira that a Romulan senator, Cretak, will have a presence on the station, along with staff, guards, and a few ships. Kira isn’t happy, but isn’t given a choice.
The Defiant returns from protecting a convoy, a duty that Bashir considers boring, Nog considers safe, and Worf considers unworthy of a warrior and his warship. Worf is unusually cranky—given that he buried his wife three months ago, duh—and Bashir actually thinks a combat mission would cheer him right up. For his part, a sleepless Worf goes to the holosuite and requests that Fontaine and his band perform “All the Way,” which was apparently Jadzia’s favorite song. Worf runs through about eighty-five different turbulent emotions while just sitting there listening to the song. Then he explodes and trashes the entire club. Fontaine shows Bashir and Quark the damage.
As Sisko’s Creole Kitchen, Sisko sits at the restaurant’s piano, the baseball from his desk on top of it. While Joseph and Jake worry, the ball suddenly falls off, and Sisko has a vision from the Prophets of him digging in the sand on the planet Tyree and uncovering a woman’s face. Sisko believes that he needs to find that woman. He starts putting his memory of her face together on a padd, and Jake recognizes the face as belonging to a photograph of her and Joseph from many years earlier. But when they ask Joseph about it, he’s livid, insisting that she’s “no one at all,” and storms out.
Sisko confronts Joseph, who finally admits that the woman was named Sarah. He met her in Jackson Square, they were married a few months after they met, and had a child: Benjamin Lafayette Sisko. But then two days after Sisko’s first birthday, she just up and left with no explanation. He tracked her down three years later, but by then she’d died in a hovercraft accident. Joseph does give him a keepsake of Sarah’s: a pendant, which has writing on the back of it in Ancient Bajoran, which says, “Orb of the Emissary,” an Orb that has never been mentioned before. But maybe he has to find it, and the first place he’s going to look is Tyree.
Kira is surprised by Cretak—she is friendlier than most, and she even tries a jumja stick. Then she asks if the Romulans could set up a hospital on Bajor’s fourth moon, Derna. Kira says she’ll talk to the Council of Ministers, and they agree to it. Cretak says all of Romulus owes Kira a debt of gratitude. She says she’ll keep it in mind. However, Odo has learned that the Romulans are turning non-Romulan wounded away from the hospital on Derna and sensors have picked up indications that they’re constructing weapons there.
At Bashir’s urging, O’Brien brings a bottle of bloodwine to Worf’s quarters to get him to talk. They reminisce over their time on the Enterprise and other things, and O’Brien finally learns what’s really bothering Worf: Jadzia isn’t in Sto-Vo-Kor because she didn’t die in glorious battle. That explains his annoyance with convoy duty. But they can’t ask Ross to send the Defiant on a dangerous mission. Luckily, Martok arrives at the station, and joins Worf on the holosuite for a bat’leth fight and says he has just the mission to guarantee Jadzia’s entry into Sto-Vo-Kor, and he needs a first officer. Worf says he’s Martok’s man. Bashir and O’Brien volunteer to go along—Quark thinks the two of them are crazy.
Kira interrupts a meeting between Ross and Cretak with an order from the council of ministers to remove the weapons emplacements from Derna. Cretak gives the world’s most insincere apology for not mentioning them, but she insists that the hospital needs to be defended. Kira counters that Bajor will guarantee the moon’s safety, which Cretak says isn’t good enough. Kira delivers an ultimatum, despite Ross’s attempt to negotiate a compromise: take out the weapons, or the Bajorans will remove the weapons for them.
A Bajoran who is part of a new Cult of the Pah-wraiths shows up at Sisko’s Creole Kitchen and attacks Sisko with a knife, saying he’ll never find the Orb of the Emissary. Jake clubs the guy on the head with a sack of potatoes and they get Sisko medical attention. When Sisko recovers from his wounds, he’s finally ready to go to Tyree, and Joseph and Jake insists on going with. Before they can leave, an ensign knocks on the door to the restaurant. She introduces herself as Dax.
The Sisko is of Bajor: Sisko has spent three months cleaning clams. By the time he’s set to go to Tyree he’s incredibly sick of cleaning clams.
Oh yeah, and it turns out the woman who raised him wasn’t his birth-mother. Whoops.
Don’t ask my opinion next time: Kira runs the station quite well, including not taking any crap from a Romulan senator who tries to put weapons in a hospital on a satellite of Bajor.
The slug in your belly: We don’t meet the new Dax until the very end of the episode. So far all we know is that she’s in the sciences and is way shorter than Jadzia. (We only know her first name is Ezri from the opening credits, as she only introduces herself as “Dax.”)
There is no honor in being pummeled: Worf can’t sleep, is frustrated with convoy duty, and keeps going to Vic’s Place, making Fontaine sing “All the Way,” and then smashing the place. Grieving is a process…
Preservation of mass and energy is for wimps: Odo is now acting all optimistic and stuff, and he credits his relationship with Kira for it.
Rules of Acquisition: Quark is not worried about Worf’s well being, he’s just worried that he might get bored with smashing a holographic bar and start smashing the real one downstairs.
Victory is life: The Dominion has not allowed the Federation, Klingons, and Romulans to penetrate deeper into Cardassian territory than Chin’toka. Weyoun says the closing the wormhole has turned the tide in the Dominion’s favor, which makes no actual sense…
Tough little ship: The Defiant is on convoy duty. This thrills no one, except maybe the people in the convoy. Well, and Nog…
For Cardassia! Damar is drinking a lot of kanar. It’s almost like he doesn’t like his job. At one point, Weyoun snidely asks if Damar even bothers with a glass when he’s alone or just guzzles it from the bottle.
What happens on the holosuite stays on the holosuite: Apparently, Jadzia Dax—a Trill who’s lived for three centuries, been exposed to numerous cultures and formst of artistic expression—listed Frank Sinatra’s “All the Way” as her favorite song. That’s totally plausible.
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Joseph had a whirlwind courtship with Sarah, during which he was incredibly happy—until she up and left after their son’s first birthday with no explanation.
Keep your ears open: “Are there any other secrets I should know about?”
“Just my gumbo recipe—but I’m taking that to my grave.”
Sisko and his father after the revelation of who actually gave birth to the former.
Welcome aboard: Megan Cole appears as Cretak, the first of three appearances by the character, but only two by the actor—she’ll return in “Shadows and Symbols” next time, but be replaced by Adrienne Barbeau when the character comes back in “Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges.” Cole previously appeared as Noor in TNG’s “The Outcast.”
Although she gets no billing, Deborah Lacey makes the first of several appearances as Sarah Sisko. She’ll be back in “Shadows and Symbols” as well, this time with an actual guest star credit.
We also get some of the usual gaggle of recurring regulars in Casey Biggs (Damar), Jeffrey Combs (Weyoun), James Darren (Fontaine), Aron Eisenberg (Nog), J.G. Hertzler (Martok), Barry Jenner (Ross), and Brock Peters (Joseph).
Trivial matters: This episode marks the first appearance of Ezri Dax, as played by Nicole deBoer, who was added to the opening credits, replacing Terry Farrell. In addition, Kira was promoted to colonel between seasons, making her the fourth opening credits regular to be promoted over the course of the series, the others being Sisko in “The Adversary” and Jadzia Dax and Bashir between the third and fourth seasons. We also get Ross’s first name of “Bill” established for the first time.
Cretak appears in several tie-in novels, among them the Lost Era novel Catalyst of Sorrows by Margaret Wander Bonanno (which takes place fifteen years prior to this episode), which establishes that she was at the Khitomer Conference (from Star Trek VI), during which she first met Uhura and established a relationship with her. The senator was also in “Blood Sacrifice” in Tales of the Dominion War and Vulcan’s Soul: Epiphany, both by Josepha Sherman & Susan Shwartz, as well as Hollow Men by Una McCormack (which has her first meeting with Ross, laying the foundation for the relationship between the two seen in this two-parter).
The planet Tyree was named after Benjamin Tyreen, the character played by Richard Harris in Sam Peckinpah’s Major Dundee (and not the character in “A Private Little War,” which most people assumed). The Monac shipyards were named after special effects supervisor Gary Monak.
When Worf and O’Brien are reminiscing about their time on the Enterprise, they mention both Barclay and La Forge and the events of “Hollow Pursuits.” Barclay will also be referenced in the “These are the Voyages…” episode of Enterprise, and so will thus at least be mentioned on all four Trek spinoff shows (he actually appeared in both TNG and Voyager).
Sisko plays Thelonious Monk’s “Round Midnight” on the piano.
Walk with the Prophets: “I just never thought I’d see a Romulan eat a jumja stick.” There’s little I can point to in this episode and say that it’s bad. I think the notion of a Pah-wraith cult is actually the first good use of the Pah-wraiths in the show, as it makes sense that such a cult would develop. Just in general, the sameness of Bajoran religion is something that needed shaking up (says the person living on a planet that has thousands of religions).
Worf and Kira both get decent storylines, but I kinda wish they’d just done both of them in one episode instead of welding them to Sisko’s vision quest and stretching all three plots to two episodes. Worf needing to be brought out of his funk by something Klingony has already been a B-plot of a TNG episode (“The Icarus Factor”), and his storyline has the exact same beats, which isn’t exactly a rousing endorsement. The notion of using O’Brien getting him drunk to get him to open up is a good one, at least, though having him drown his sorrows at Vic’s Place is another case of Ira Steven Behr unconvincingly crowbarring his love of lounge music onto his characters.
As for Kira, her story only is compelling because Nana Visitor is awesome. Megan Cole has all the charisma of a dead fish—the bland affect that made her an effective bureaucrat in “The Outcast” served to make her a spectacularly uninteresting Romulan. As a result, her heel-turn from friendly to militant has no bite to it. We didn’t need anything as extreme as, say, William Sadler similar shift of Sloan’s character in “Inquisition,” but we needed something.
The Sisko storyline manages to drain all the charm out of the Sisko family, subsuming it to contrived drama, Sisko’s depression, and Joseph’s overblown avoidance of the issue of Sarah, which mostly seems to be there to allow for scene cutaways that play dramatic music rather than service character.
Plus it continues the ruining of the wormhole aliens. In “Emissary,” the Prophets were a fascinating alien species that were so other that they could only communicate with linear humans by talking down to them via memory fragments. In “Image in the Sand,” the Prophets are the GM of a role-playing game, dropping clues on Sisko so he can go on his quest to find the treasure and gain experience points. It’s not an improvement.
Ultimately the real problem with this episode is that it’s got three B-plots, stretched over two episodes. An A-plot would’ve been nice…
Warp factor rating: 5
Keith R.A. DeCandido encourages everyone to buy the new Jonathan Maberry-edited anthology Out of Tune, featuring stories by him, Simon R. Green, Jack Ketchum, Seanan McGuire, Christopher Golden, Nancy Holder, Gregory Frost, and more. Keith’s story, “Fish Out of Water,” features Cassie Zukav, who also appears in the stories in his 2013 collection Ragnarok and Roll.