Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night
(Star Trek - Deep Space Nine episode production code 541)
written by Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
Preston Nichols of the Montauk phase of
the Philadelphia Experiment
says in one of his interviews that he is often approached
by people who believe his stories and want to know how
to build a time machine for themselves. He usually turns them
down, citing that their
reasons for wanting to travel through time are usually
not very noble or well-informed.
Something very similar is on display in this episode
with Major Kira's quest to wallow in the past. I would
draw attention to three directions she takes that are the
opposite of ideal.
The first will be almost of second nature to today's
internet savvy society. When you get spam, the best response
is to ignore and delete. Major Kira's world is all peachy
until she gives a piece of junk mail her full attention.
Although Gul Dukat seemed to be on a redeeming path
to bettering himself along with all the other castmembers
in season four, the writers have since totally trashed his
character to the point where the DS9 regulars shouldn't even
bother tolerating his messages. If you want to keep him on the
line to trace his whereabouts, fine, but hit the mute button,
and laugh at his face in his face. Take away his power to
control the conversation and stir up emotional hooks to manipulate
the situation, and give that power back to yourself. Kira
fails that task.
The second difficulty Kira has is the
fourth density idea of staying in the moment.
I kept waiting for Dukat to drop the bombshell that her mother
was still alive, to trigger actions that needed to be taken
now during the current adventure. But the mother was still
long dead. So what's changed? If Kira was confident in
her own identity in the present, there should be nothing
left to do with this new information, true or not.
There really are no present time stakes defined in this story
other than Kira's inner personal beliefs, and the best solutions
there will always lie in the present moment.
The third problem has an official scientific name:
"The Heisenberg Principle". If we accept that Kira's purpose
in this adventure is to find out exactly what happened
to her own mother in the past that she herself sprang from,
it doesn't make sense to jump back into that past and
become an active player. Heisenberg said that the very
act of observing can change (or taint) the result,
which is a subtle thing on the quantum level. Kira's
influence is anything but subtle here. After going back and
meddling and creating something that could be very different
to what actually happened to her own mother, in effect observing
her mother's double in a universe that branched off of whatever
one the Prophets decided to dump Kira in, a universe that Kira
was co-creating out of her own decisions triggered by Dukat's
taunting, how can you trust that those were the same events
that happened in the past on the timeline you were on previously?
I'd say Kira's investigation was tainted by her involvement,
and not very clearheaded. She would have done better staying in
the present, researching records and interviewing people who were
there to get a more accurate picture.
A separate concern is the way that Sisko is lured into helping her.
Should the Prime Directive have any say in guiding what he does
to help her? He is going against Starfleet regulations concerning
time travel, and in this case not for a worthy cause. He is
diving into the pseudo-godlike role with the Bajorans instead
of remaining neutral... if that means anything in this limbo
that Federation and Bajoran relations have entered into for display
in front of the Dominion. We do see that he seems lulled into
the belief that he won't actually have to take responsibility
for allowing Kira to go into the past - the Wormhole Prophet Aliens
are supposedly going to make the final decision. It all seems
a bit limp.
All that said, the episode's content isn't too bad or unworthy;
I just take serious issue with the way we got into the
time traveling bit, feeling the stakes were too poorly
set-up to entice emotional investment from anyone with
a truly enlightened head on their
shoulders. The episode's atrocious title isn't any help
in the enticement arena either - one of the worst
and most off-putting they could have come up with. Oh well.
Thankfully, the rest of the season is still entertaining,
and this episode doesn't break the flow too badly.