Star Trek: DS9 Season 3 “Past Tense” Parts I + II

Get ready for our future. This is it.

I’ve completed my re-watch of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Now it’s time to start Deep Space Nine! I am much less familiar with this show, though I’m pretty sure I’ve seen about 80-90% of the episodes. It’s been so long that I’m sure it will all feel brand new. My wife has never seen the show. She and I will go through, review every episode, and give commentary and a grade from A-F. There are SPOILERS for each episode below. Without further adieu, here’s:

“Past Tense: Parts I + II”*

*I’ve decided to start combining the scores for 2 part episodes because it is difficult to parse them apart from each other.


Sisko, Dax, and Dr. Bashir are caught in a transporter accident that sends them to the past, San Francisco in 2024. Dax is separated from Sisko and Bashir and the latter are taken into custody and placed into a “sanctuary district,” a kind of slum for non-criminals who have no work and nowhere to go. Dax, meanwhile, meets Chris Brynner, a successful businessman with a kind heart who quickly agrees to help her find her friends. In the sanctuary district, Sisko realizes that they are there just before the “Bell Riots,” a kind of uprising in the sanctuary districts that helped awaken the world to the suffering of the poor.


Why does anyone take a transporter anymore? Every time someone mentions fears of transporters, all those surrounding that person say “but they’re so safe, there are almost no accidents, etc.” Yet almost every time this happens, an accident happens. Sorry, if a transporter can just dematerialize me on a whim or send me back in time, I’m not sure I trust that thing to be teleporting me all around the face of the universe.  Also, can we talk about how the transporter literally just destroys you and creates a copy of you somewhere else? It’s not you showing up on the other end; it’s a perfect copy. But the old you was dematerialized–they don’t send that matter to the other end, they just make new matter in the same form pop up. Count me out!

Anyway, now that I’ve cleared that out of my system, let’s talk about the actual episodes. This was a great two-parter. It felt, honestly, like a rather well done B-movie made as a dystopia. It had the cheesy factor with some kind of silly jokes, it had the funky 90s-future outfits, and it had the color palate of a movie like Equilibrium or Gattaca (if you haven’t seen these–run and do so). I can’t help but now have fond memories of the kind of quaint, single-block set that they used for these episodes.

Here’s another thing though: this is disturbingly scary in its seeming accuracy to what some people are pushing for. Shutting up people in certain parts of the city seems reminiscent of the use of sanctuary cities, but with a devious twist that doesn’t seem all that outside of the realm of where we may be going. I mean, the whole two-parter seemed strikingly possible, even to the date (I believe it was 2019 or something). Depressingly close to home.

The real difficulties here are minor, the main one being some pretty big holes left open throughout the double feature’s plot. I found myself not minding so much, because the resolution of it all was so cool. Well done.

Grade: A- “It’s a sort of cheesy near-future dystopia but oh my goodness is it disturbingly accurate feeling right now.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “It was quite a good story, though there were certainly a few holes in it.”


J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

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