On a dark and stormy night, a man gives himself an injection, and a rain-soaked young woman shows up at his door, on a quest to ask the famous writer Jake Sisko why he stopped writing years ago.
We flash back to young Jake tagging along on the Defiant ostensibly to see a space anomaly with his father, but really just wanting time to wrestle with a story.
The script requires him to be in engineering to witness a plot contrivance field blink his father out of existence.
The older Jake narrates us through the memorial service and months lingering on the station, until Sisko briefly appears to him in his quarters.
Dax politely scans the room but finds nothing unusual, and before long tensions with the Klingons lead to a voluntary resettlement of civilians. Kira reluctantly permits Jake to stay, for now.
Sisko appears again, and this time stays around long enough to be taken to the infirmary, where we learn time jimberjams have flabbergasted his cells into subspace, and will flabbergast him back there again unless blah blah.
The focus of the scene is not the technobabble but Jake’s reaction, so it’s very dramatic when Sisko disappears again.
Old Jake seems to be having trouble breathing, and tells his visitor Melanie that he’s dying, then presses on with his narration.
We see an older Jake, now in his grandfather’s house on earth, writing a book and married, and staying in touch with Nog, now a Starfleet officer.
Sisko visits again, and stays long enough to meet Jake’s wife and learn about his writing career. He encourages Jake and says he wants grandchildren, and then he’s gone.
Dax realizes the plot contrivance field has a pattern, and predicts when Sisko will next appear, years away.
To be ready for his dad’s next visit, Jake decides to become an expert in timey wimey plot contrivances, and by the time he was getting his doctorate, his wife has left him.
Years later, Captain Nog has convinced Starfleet to get the Defiant out of storage, and a very distinguished looking older Bashir and older Dax work recreate the plot contrivance that flabbergasted Sisko away.
Older Jake has built a jimberjam intended to unflabbergast the plot contrivance particles, but there’s still a full act left in the script, so something goes wrong.
Old Jake gets pulled into the flabbergast portal, and spends a few moments in whatever subspace portal (supplied with TV-friendly gravity and light and oxygen) his father has been disappearing into. Sisko is disappointed to learn that Jake has let his pursuit of rescuing his father consume his life, and encourages him to let go and make a better life for himself while he has time.
Their encounter ends, and Old Jake finds himself back in the Defiant’s engine room, alone, sobbing.
Back in the main storyline, Old Jake infodumps to Melanie that he has since realized that he and his father are linked by a plot contrivance field that he likens to an elastic cord, and has concluded that the way to send his father back to the moment of the accident is to “cut the cord” when he and his father are together.
Melanie intuits that the fateful moment is near. He encourages her to look up from her work now and then, and look at life around her.
Sisko returns again, sees that Jake has started writing again, and is in super-supportive dad mode, until he learns of Old Jake’s plan.
Sisko is horrified, but the whole premise of the script is based on Old Jake’s sacrifice: “For you and for the boy that I was. He needs you more than you know. Don’t you see? We’re going to get a second chance.”
Suddenly we are back in the Defiant engine room, and Sisko, having been told by Old Jake to “dodge the energy blast,” does so, and all is well.
A very different pace for a Star Trek episode. At first I thought I would like seeing events that glossed over the technobabble, and focused instead on the experiences of a non-technical civilian, but when Jake gets his doctorate in plot contrivance fields, and then Old Jake has to narrate the story to a non-scientist, I kind of lost patience with the tech talk.
We’re not really given a good technical reason to believe Old Jake’s theory that he as to die in order to send Sisko back in time before the energy blast hits him, we just have to trust what Dax says off camera and Old Jake’s theories (because if there’s one thing Star Trek teaches us, it’s that the theories of experts who study plot contrivance particles are *always* proven 100% accurate in field experiments).
Since it’s presumably that “energy blast” that caused the time-travel stuff, why is it that when Old Jake dies, the time loop restarts *before* Sisko is hit by the plot contrivance particles?
While I still enjoyed the performances, and I can see why the story pitch made it to production, the writing really strained my suspension of belief — especially for an episode centered on the life of a writer.