Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Past Tense, Part II   Rewatch 
November 8, 2015 6:30 PM - Season 3, Episode 12 - Subscribe

Sisko takes a dead man's name; will he have to sacrifice his life in order for the Federation to exist? The people of Sanctuary make a desperate last stand while Kira and O'Brien search through history to rescue their crew.

From Memory Alpha and the DS9 Companion:

- Clint Howard, who plays Grady in this episode, earlier portrayed Balok in the Original Series episode "The Corbomite Maneuver". However, the character of Grady was actually written for Iggy Pop, who turned out to be unavailable at the time. Ira Steven Behr would eventually get to cast Pop in the sixth season episode "The Magnificent Ferengi".

- The boxing advertisement seen in the 1930 scene with Kira and O'Brien showcases the same boxers as an advertisement seen in The Original Series episode "The City on the Edge of Forever". (The ad from "The City on the Edge of Forever" is for a bout at Madison Square Garden; the ad seen in this episode is for a bout at Bay Land Garden, and notes that it is "their first rematch since Madison Square Garden".) The reason this poster was used was to give a subtle hint that O'Brien and Kira were on Earth at exactly the same time as Kirk and Spock.

- "Past Tense, Part II" was [Jonathan] Frakes' third and final DS9 directing credit, and it was his direction of this episode which secured him the job of directing Star Trek: First Contact. [Ira Steven] Behr took personal delight in one of Frakes' casting choices. "Deborah Van Valkenburgh was great," he enthuses. "I was very excited about having her on the show because she was in one of my favorite movies, The Warriors."

- When this episode aired, it received some criticism for being too preachy, liberal and "soap box like", something which disappointed Ira Steven Behr, who felt that the show had important things to say and that it treated a serious situation in a realistic manner; "We're not going to solve anything with two hours of TV. The homeless are still there. The problem hasn't gone away. But maybe just one person saw this and started to see the problem in a different way. In 1995, Forrest Gump was the feel-good movie of the year. Yes, it's important to feel good and I'm not putting that down. But in reality, in 1995, Forrest Gump would be homeless. I just thought it was important to show the other side."

"You really going to shoot me, Bell? I don't think so."
"Think again."
"I thought we were on the same side here!"
"We are, but you get on my nerves... and I don't like your hat."

- B.C. and Benjamin Sisko as Gabriel Bell
posted by Halloween Jack (9 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Frank Military was a good casting choice as BC, too. He seems genuinely messed up without being too showy about it. Apparently he was and is mostly a behind the scenes guy, working as a writer on a bunch of shows, but he was good enough here to stand out.

These episodes are 20 years old. God damn.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 12:31 AM on November 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

A great sequel to part 1. The bit with the hippies is kinda funny.
posted by marienbad at 2:07 PM on November 9, 2015

Really like this quote from Memory Alpha: "Ira Steven Behr also commented that (several months after the two-parter aired) "People are still even writing that we only presented 'one side' in "Past Tense" and that we should have presented 'both sides' and not just the 'liberal' point of view - and I'm still trying to think what that means. In other words, we should have showed the positive aspects of putting the homeless into concentration camps? And I do admit we probably failed in that - we really did not show the many, many wonderful aspects of life without money and living in over-crowded camps". ("The Behr Necessities, Star Trek Monthly, issue 12)"

Part II left me with the same feeling of sad cynicism that Part I did. Having seen the defensive and compassionless way people react to seeing the suffering of others, in so many recent incidents with video evidence, makes it so hard for me to buy the central premise that the testimonials of the Sanctuary residents (and their slaughter by the soldiers) would inspire a global change. But good on the DS9 writers for trying to tackle a serious issue.
posted by oh yeah! at 12:32 PM on November 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

It's definitely preachy, but that's not inherently a bad thing and they really pull it off well here.

I did think it was cruel to tease Sisko explaining why he looks (and to them, I suppose, has always looked) exactly like a folk hero from 350 years ago to Starfleet but not to actually show it. I also hope that whatever the equivalent of a ship's counselor is for the station has some space in their schedule for several sessions, because I can't imagine that getting to be one of your heroes in the actual historical record as it played out in the timeline you're in now is particularly good for one, psychologically. Especially since I don't know that I would say that humility is particularly one of Sisko's virtues.
posted by Copronymus at 10:17 PM on November 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

FWIW, “Chillingly Predictive,” says the hed, posted in August 2019. It’s June, 2020, and this week has seen the largest outbreak of police violence in the US since the 1960s.
posted by mwhybark at 10:27 PM on May 31, 2020 [6 favorites]

Greetings from the 2020s!

This was, uh... a little on the nose. Creeping fascism? San Francisco torn apart by skyrocketing inequality and a housing shortage? Oblivious tech executives who think their intentions are good? Ha! Fiction, am I right?

Using the depression-era NYC tenement backlot for the sets sure was a choice that the producers made here. Apart from being an otherwise excellent episode, I kept being pulled out of the moment by the sets, costumes, and acting direction that all seemed to want this episode to be set in 1930s New York.

Things that worked well: We got to see a lot of unusual pairings - Sisko and Bashir are a good enough pairing that I’m surprised we haven’t seen it much before. Dax on her own fell somewhat flat, but it’s honestly still one of the better Dax plots so far. Also, the glimpses we get of Kira and O’Brien fumbling their way through time-travel were delightful, and I sincerely hope that we get to see more scenes featuring the two of them together. It was also good to see Quark and Odo take the back seat for an episode, given how many recent episodes seem to have revolved around them.

Did Sisko ever get to visit his sister in Portland?
posted by schmod at 4:17 PM on February 12, 2021

The, like, super depressing thing watching this in 2021 is knowing that, sure, they broadcast their stories out of the sanctuary area, but in a huge chunk of Americans would just go "lol poors, they just need to work harder".

posted by Kyol at 5:33 PM on August 15, 2021 [3 favorites]

Dax on her own fell somewhat flat, but it’s honestly still one of the better Dax plots so far.

It helps that this is one of the rare earlier Dax plots that doesn't pivot on the fact that she's a Trill. Instead, in this environment she reads as an attractive white woman, which sets her on a markedly different trajectory than Sisko and Bashir when they're found, a pointed choice that I'm certain was intentional. Of course, it's Dax, and she knows how to play that hand to help her compatriots, but it's a good bit of social commentary that also allows Dax to play character notes beyond "hey did you know I'm a member of a joined species?"
posted by Navelgazer at 12:45 PM on March 27, 2023

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