Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Children of Time   Rewatch 
June 16, 2016 8:09 AM - Season 5, Episode 22 - Subscribe

O'Brien cheats on his wife, Worf starts a personality cult, Dax tries to crash the Defiant, and Odo wipes out a civilization. Well, sort of.

As befits a time-travel episode, beware a major spoiler in the "Trivia" section on the Memory Alpha page.

- Writer Gary Holland got the idea for this show after seeing the second season episode "The Collaborator", which he also wrote. In that episode, when Kira tells Odo that she is in love with Vedek Bareil, Odo reacts a little strangely. In the episode itself, he says it is because he is surprised that it has taken Kira so long to realize her true feelings, but many viewers felt it to be the first indication of Odo's love for Kira. That is exactly how Holland interpreted the scene, and he decided that he wanted to write a story about their relationship, but he knew it couldn't just be a straightforward narrative; "We have no idea how old Odo is, so if he's in his early development, it might be a long time before he can admit to those kind of feelings. So I wondered, 'How can I get an older Odo into the story?'" Holland's answer was time travel.

- Originally, it was supposed to be Yedrin who caused the destruction of the colony, but Ira Steven Behr felt this was a missed opportunity, that it didn't create any kind of conflict between any of the characters, and as such, he suggested that it be Odo instead. Some of the writers felt that this was too "dark" a thing for a regular to do, especially the morally rigid Odo, but Behr argued that that sense of unexpected darkness was exactly the point; Behr was always keen to take any opportunity to darken the show and the characters in un-Star Trek like ways (such as Kira refusing to apologize to Silaran Prin in "The Darkness and the Light" for example, or Worf actually fulfilling Kurn's request to impale him with a dagger in "Sons of Mogh"), and this was simply another example of that ideology. Behr states, "On The Original Series or The Next Generation, they probably would have made it the scientist and there'd be no harm, no foul. Everyone's hands would have remained clean. But that wasn't a consideration here."

- The stasis chamber into which Dr. Bashir places the present-day Odo (in his liquid state) for safe-keeping is a simple 20th century breadmaker, redressed with LEDs and other props attached to it.

- This is the fourth and final DS9 episode not to feature any scenes based on Deep Space 9, with the exception of the regular opening credits. The others are "Past Tense, Part I", "Past Tense, Part II", and "Paradise Lost".

- This episode aired the same day as Armin Shimerman's first appearance on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where he would continue as a reoccurring character for the next two seasons. Shimerman has said that on at least three occasions he worked on both shows on the same day, getting into the makeup chair before dawn to shoot his scenes for DS9 in the morning, then getting out of makeup in the early afternoon and driving an hour across town to shoot scenes for Buffy late into the night.

"Are you the son of Mogh?"
"Yes, I am."
"Is it true you can kill someone just by looking at them?"
"Only when I am angry."

- Gabriel and Worf, at their first meeting

"They existed. As long as we remember them, they always will."

- Sisko, to Dax

"There's something else the other Odo wanted you to know, he was responsible for changing the Defiant's flight plan."
"So that you wouldn't have to die."
"I can't believe it! Eight thousand people!"
"He did it for you, Nerys, he loved you."
"That makes it right?!?"
"I don't know. He thought so."

- the present day Odo and Kira
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (11 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
About a quarter of the way through the episode all of the issues were seemingly resolved and it almost felt like we were going to get into an exposition episode, just exploring how the crew would interact with their descendants. Of course that's not really how Trek works and we finally get into the Big Moral Dilemma (BMD). It was still a creative and fun episode, quintessential Trek.

(Stargate Universe did a similar episode, where the crew met their descendants. It was a great episode and a great show if you haven't watched it!)

I'm conflicted about the ending here. I wish they had left the saboteur ambiguous. Odo tells Kira that Old-Odo did it because he loved her. (Note it's "he loved you" instead of "I love you", even though she now knows the truth and he knows she knows.)

There are grand gestures done in the name of love, and then there is wiping 8000 people out of existence.

Kira probably isn't the type to brood on this and blame herself, but it's kind of rotten of Odo to lay that on her. Granted, he's probably feeling a bit guilty too.
posted by 2ht at 2:16 PM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Kira probably isn't the type to brood on this and blame herself, but it's kind of rotten of Odo to lay that on her. Granted, he's probably feeling a bit guilty too.

Ya know, that whole exchange can be read as super creepy when you consider (A) Odo knows she knows, (B) he's presumably pretty clueless about What Not to Say to Girls You Like, and (C) the whole cold heartless Founder quality that we know he has to at least some extent. So on that basis, does he think she's gonna get all swoony because he's implying "I'd kill a few thousand people for you"? And so, is he REALLY feeling guilty?
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 2:37 PM on June 16, 2016

What always got me about this episode was the future Trill people were seemingly part Trill and part human. I mean, duh, it should have been the part-Klingon people who had the spots. It left me waiting for Worf to wind up into a murderous rage upon finding out all of their be-spotted descendants had the last name of Bashir.
posted by peeedro at 4:23 PM on June 16, 2016 [9 favorites]

8,000 descendents from 48 survivors in only 200 years seems a rather massive number. How many babies were these poor women having?

I know Bashir can be insufferable at times, but his conversation with O'Brien about their prospective choices in shipwreck-marriages seemed too tone-deaf even for him. Really everyone's willingness to condemn their dopplegangers to being stranded in the past felt off-kilter to me.

What always got me about this episode was the future Trill people were seemingly part Trill and part human. I mean, duh, it should have been the part-Klingon people who had the spots. It left me waiting for Worf to wind up into a murderous rage upon finding out all of their be-spotted descendants had the last name of Bashir.

I guess we have to fan-wank that Bashir was able to turn his genius abilities to creating a fertility clinic from the wreckage, for all those descendants to be spawned out of a limited-yet-cross-species gene pool.
posted by oh yeah! at 7:09 PM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

8,000 descendents from 48 survivors in only 200 years seems a rather massive number. How many babies were these poor women having?

To reach the 8,000 they would need a growth rate of just over 2.5%. That's basically double our current growth rate of 1.2%. In the 1950s-1960s the growth rate peaked just over 2%. For a small population living comfortably on a world (i.e., they're not losing tons of babies in childbirth, they don't spend 90% of their waking lives hunting dangerous prey), I don't think it's terribly unrealistic.
posted by 2ht at 7:26 PM on June 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

I have to confess that this was never one of my favorite episodes, even though it's always kind of fun to see who will hook up with who, who's still living, etc. in these sort of "let's visit the future, but not too far in the future" episodes. And that's because of one very important question, and one that I was waiting to see if it would be asked, even if it was answered or even dismissed in the most peremptory fashion. (I'm not sure if I've mentioned this here before, but I don't remember some details of some of the episodes, in part because I watched some of them twenty years ago and in part because I watched some of them during my heavy drinking days.) And lo and behold, it absolutely wasn't asked.

As they're dealing with the fact that sort-of-future-Dax was lying to them, I'm thinking, but what about the war? As they're going through the ethics of whether or not to recreate the crash, I'm thinking, but what about the war? As they debate and form up neat sides, I'm thinking, hey! Who's going to mention the fuckin' war? Even at the end, when Kira is yelling at Odo about the eight! thousand! people!, I'm still thinking, but Kira, how many people will you save in the goddamn war?

The two main responses you may have are probably 1) well, it's not really a shooting war yet, and 2) there are plenty of other people to replace the DS9 crew on the station. To which I say, a) it not being a war war yet is kind of moot given that the Dominion has already successfully infiltrated the upper echelons of the Klingon power structure, nearly convinced Earth to declare martial law (which would have split up the Federation), and, oh yeah, nearly destroyed the entire Bajoran solar system. (Think about all those cute Bajoran kids who almost got supernovaed when you're fussing about the vanished colony tykes.) And b), sure, maybe Rom and Leeta and Garak and Martok and Keiko could step up and fill in some of the gaps of the missing crew, or whomever that Starfleet and the Bajorans transfer over, but the crew that was on the Defiant has been involved in the incidents I mention above pretty heavily, above and beyond the essential irreplaceability of Alien Space Jesus. Even without knowing what they'll do in the shooting war (which we do), there's not a really great argument for their staying behind for the sake of saving what amounts to a small town. And that's not even considering that, if the Dominion found the planet, they might just nuke it--or go down and do some fun experiments on the inhabitants. (They would probably work on finding a way of extracting information from the Dax symbiont, for starters.) This is one of those episodes in which the Trek showrunners betray the franchise's long-running obsession with the idea of the crew just saying fuck it and setting up their own colony in some bosky glen in a planet somewhere, from "This Side of Paradise" to Insurrection, and it might have worked on DS9 in the first couple of seasons (well, except for the Odo angle, although that was apparently being considered back in 1994, when the idea was first pitched, during the third season), maybe the third. Not now, though, when everyone's gearing up to get their war on.

Still, there were some nice bits that I liked. The Klingon Scouts were pretty keen; that's exactly what I'd expect to happen. I liked more-detailed Odo and thought that future-sort-of-Odo would have passed the trick on to his counterpart. The scene of Kira visiting her own grave was also nice.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:11 PM on June 16, 2016 [6 favorites]

They absolutely should have at least mentioned the war in a handwavey fashion. Sisko's Emissariness should have been enough on its own for the crew to, with difficulty, decide to leave. (I say "with difficulty" because this isn't just some random wholesome agricultural colony: these are their kin, and I think the episode does a solid job of showing the immediate connection our heroes have to them.) And it still could have been a dramatic episode, with the rest of the crew going "But they're our descendants" and Sisko going "I give the orders, and Bajor's the priority, so shut the hell up" etc. Maybe the writers just really really wanted that main-cast-working-the-fields sequence.

Between the whole failure to remember the war and Odo being weird, it's not one of the season's better ones IMO. Still, it's affecting, and well-done in other respects.

That said, I could go the rest of the series without another Dax-proving-he/she-is-Dax-to-Sisko exchange. "Why Ben, don't you remember that one fun thing we did that one time together." IIRC we have (minor spoiler) only one more new-Dax in the series, and they skipped the formalities a bit.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:58 AM on June 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

only one more new-Dax in the series

My favorite Dax of all. I had such a crush on her as a teenager.

I guess there's a balance between bringing up the war every time it makes sense to bring it up, versus driving the audience crazy because they're always talking about it. If they were to bring the war up here the debate turns into killing/disappearing 8000 people for sure, right now, versus "oh, we might save millions of lives later at some point." That probably wasn't the episode they wanted to make. From a writing standpoint it makes sense to not let the war derail a good story, for the sake of continuity it really doesn't add up.

(We do eventually learn how far Sisko is willing to go to save millions of lives when we get to In the Pale Moonlight.)
posted by 2ht at 12:24 PM on June 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

2ht, you're the first person I've ever heard say that Ezri was their favorite Dax. I ended up liking Ezri fine, but Jadzia was a hard act to follow.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:48 PM on June 17, 2016 [5 favorites]

I agree re: the war stuff, but I liked how it turned into a big moral dilemma, and how they all had different viewpoints and each was expounded in a believable way.
posted by marienbad at 2:51 PM on June 23, 2016

I don't remember the characters involved right now, but at some point person A asks person B, "Well, what about your future descendants you'd have back on Deep Space Nine?" and person B says something like "They don't exist yet and these people do".

I have a real problem with this. Your future descendants *do* meaningfully exist in the Star Trek universe. The future is a place that you can go to! It exists as much as the present and the past do. All the time travel that happens in Star Trek has pretty much resolved that philosophical question.

In the real world we can ask questions about whether the future (or the past) are metaphysically real, but I don't think these characters get to do so. There's an empirical answer.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 12:04 AM on June 8, 2023 [1 favorite]

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