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Star Trek DS9 - Season 3 - Episode 11

Star Trek DS9 - 3x11 - Past Tense, Part I

Originally Aired: 1995-1-2

Synopsis:
A transporter accident sends Sisko, Bashir and Dax three centuries back in time to a crucial point in Earth's history. [DVD]

My Rating - 7

Fan Rating Average - 6.59

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 9 3 5 6 2 5 8 20 28 18 14

Filler Quotient: 1, partial filler, but has important continuity. I recommend against skipping this one.
- There is a minor reference in a future episode (DS9: Little Green Men) that won't make sense unless you see this episode, but otherwise there's nothing essential here unless you're interested in some historical trivia about what the year 2024 was like in Star Trek's alternate history of Earth.

Problems
None

Factoids
- According to the Star Trek timeline, in the year 2024 the United States had "Sanctuary districts" grouping homeless, bankrupt, or otherwise "undesirable" people (assuming of course no criminal record, otherwise they'd be in prison) all into a single ghetto. According to the rest of the Star Trek timeline, that places the historical events of this episode after the eugenics wars of the 1990s.

Remarkable Scenes
- Dax and Kira complaining about the water color on Earth.
- Dax smoothly lying about who she is and easily fitting into the historical Earth.
- Sisko realizing the importance of the current date.
- Sisko assuming Gabriel Bell's identity.
- Rules of Acquisition; 111: Treat people in your debt like family. Exploit them. 217: You can't free a fish from water.

My Review
This is a very intriguing episode. The first point to discuss is the temporal repercussions. Star Trek has a long history of "predicting" events which do not come true, the first of which are the Eugenics wars of the 1990s. From the period of the eugenics wars on, we're supposed to assume that in the Star Trek universe, events are no longer parallel with real Earth history. My favorite detail is the mention of the US going through a rough economic period, which would seem to fit well with the supposed occurrence of the prior eugenics wars in the 1990s.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Remco on 2008-11-21 at 11:03am:
    Holy crap, they predicted the financial crisis! :D Let's hope this doesn't come true either. I don't particularly like the prospect of a 16 year long depression.
  • From Sean Freeburn on 2009-07-15 at 6:32am:
    I was pleasantly suprised with the time travel in this episode - too often when sci-fi shows travel back in time, they end up in modern day Earth or some pivotal moment in Earth's past (TOS: The City on the Edge of Forever, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, VOY: Future's End, etc.) in an attempt to be trendy. Past Tense had a nice break on this cliche, by setting it in our not-too-distant future, yet still in DS9's past.
  • From Phillip on 2009-08-06 at 2:38pm:
    As a non-American Star Trek fan I have a serious problem with this episode a lot of the 'reforms' were already in existence in European countries at the end of the 21st Century. The throwaway line 'Europe is a mess' doesn't cut it.
  • From tigertooth on 2016-10-02 at 1:05pm:
    One nitpick: both in this two-parter and in The Search, the entire senior staff leaves the station -- taking the Defiant with them. Who is back at DS9 keeping things together? Especially in this episode, given the Dominion threat, how can they justify leaving the station without any senior officers *and* without their greatest weapon?

    Obviously they did it in order to get all the main characters (except Quark) onto the shows without adding a station-based B-plot. So I get it from a real world perspective. Just kind of ridiculous from the fictional world perspective.

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