Visionary #StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch (Season 3, Episode 17) Time-jumping O’Brien Must Suffer

Rewatching ST:DS9

The episode starts with O’Brien on the floor, as Bashir exposits that he was exposed to plot contrivance particles.

On his way to meet a Romulan delegation, Sisko passes rowdy, drunken Klingons whose ship is in for repairs.

O’Brien, trying to relax, talks Quark into setting up a dart board. He’s about to throw when suddenly he is on the promenade deck, watching another O’Brien talking to another Quark. Our O’Brien and the other O’Brien lock eyes, and O’Brien is back at the bar, looking queasy.

Bashir says hallucinations are “a fairly common side-effect of radiation poisoning.”

The B plot about the Romulan visit gets significant airtime, because it’s also world-building that develops the Dominion War arc. The Romulans, having loaned the Defiant a cloaking device, are here to access all the intelligence the Defiant has gained.  They are suspicious of Odo, lumping him with the other Changelings who were recently revealed as the Founders. 

Later on the promenade, Quark is talking to O’Brien when we see a second O’Brien appear; it’s O’Brien from the past, who had jumped ahead a few hours; we are now seeing this event from the other side.

Dax reports internal sensor logs reported a “minor temporal disturbances” at the locations and times O’Brien reported seeing himself.

Dax has just started giving the technobabble explanation linking the time disturbances to O’Brien’s radiation exposure when O’Brien shifts again, into a brawl at Quark’s, where each O’Brien helps the other avoid being clobbered.

Kira is upset at the Romulan demands, but Space Dad Sisko calmly asks her to see things from their viewpoint. 

Some good character-based ironic comedy comes when the Romulans deduce what we already know, and ask whether Odo has “ever shown some kind of physical interest” in Kira. 

O’Brien is in the bar, killing time waiting for the brawl he expects to start, even though he has also apparently told Quark not to let the Klingons in. 

The brawl does start as expected, the O’Brien from the past appears, and we get to see the two O’Briens cooperating again.

Then there’s another time-shift that doesn’t go so well. Our O’Brien sees the other O’Brien working at a control panel, and calls out to him, just before the other O’Brien is zapped dead by a sci-fi special effect.

The episode shifts to a police procedural, and a long expository scene establishes that there seems to be a “quantum singularity” orbiting the station.  Even though there are Romulans on the station, the characters don’t seem to remember that earlier treknobabble has established that Romulans power their warp drives with an artificial singularity. The episode is scripted to encourage us to suspect the Klingons.

O’Brien and Bashir seem to have read classic time-travel SF, because during the time O’Brien of the past saw our O’Brien opening a panel and getting killed, that version of O’Brien is far away from that location, sharing a meal with Bashir. 

In the next time-shift, O’Brien sees himself dead in the infirmary. The future Bashir gives our O’Brien medical technical babble intended to save the O’Brien from the past.

Odo, rather pleased with himself, updates Sisko on his investigation, which reveals these Klingons are not random schlubs, but an elite strike force reporting directly to the Klingon High Council

Bashir uses the technobabble O’Brien learned in the future to partially unflabberghast O’Brien’s cellular jimberjams. But before he can complete the process, O’Brien has another time-shift, in which he witnesses DS9 exploding and the wormhole collapsing.

The plot ramps up. Instead of trying to stop the time-shifting, now the goal is to control it.

Dax is focused on trying to stop DS9 from exploding, and O’Brien is the patient who needs to be told about all about the gizmo he will have to wear on his arm to control the time-jump process, so the script gives all the technobabble lines to Bashir.  Bashir is not Spock or Data, so it’s a bit hard to accept the eager young man of medicine is suddenly an expert in time travel. (Perhaps the script should have let Odo focus on station security, freeing up Dax to describe the MacGyvering that happened during the commercial break.)

During his next time jump, our O’Brien wakes up future O’Brien in their quarters, and the two team up, just in time to witness a Romulan warbird decloak and attack the station. 

Some interaction between the two O’Briens precipitates the climax to the O’Brien Must Suffer storyline. The B-story resolves with Sisko exposing the Romulans’ plan, and the final scene features some character moments as O’Brien adjusts to his ordeal.

Giving Bashir so many of the technobabble lines seemed very odd, especially when Dax has so little to do, but the timey-wimey plot twists kept me entertained. 

I like a meaty B-plot that develops to character arcs (Odo’s unrequited love for Kira) and does some serious world-building (for both the Klingon Civil War and the Dominion plotlines).

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