Past Tense, Part TwoBy Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 12, 2004 - 11:05 PM GMT
See Also: 'Past Tense II' Episode Guide
Sisko must take on the identity of a hero from Earth's past whose death he inadvertently caused, in order to end a violent siege and create the events which led to the peaceful future of his own era. Meanwhile, Kira and O'Brien try to find him and the rest of the crew trapped in time with him - including Dax, who could give away the presence of aliens on the planet.
For once, a multiple parter in which the final installment was not a letdown. I'm sorry they found it necessary to show the past as cliche (poor Kira, stuck listening to Hendrix), and that we didn't actually get to see firsthand the horrible alternative future after Sisko changed the timeline. I like substantive images of the dangers of time tampering, not just hearsay. Nonetheless, I can't complain about the budgeting for this episode, and I must admit that I like Jonathan Frakes a lot as a director - better than I ever liked him as an actor on TNG.
I thought that the supporting cast was terrific even though most of them had to Become Better People too quickly for credibility. Webb and the mean cop were particularly effective. Again this was primarily a Sisko episode; Dax had excellent but short-lived intensity broken up by that stupid "aliens" scene, and Bashir didn't get to do much other than just be there (every time he says, "I'm a doctor," I have the perverse hope that he's going to follow it up with, "...not a terrorist!" or something, but fat chance of him ever getting a sense of humor). Brief gripe: while I was delighted to see that racism apparently will not be an issue even in the near impoverished future of our inner cities, I am disappointed to learn that sexism will be alive, well, and rearing its ugly head in the form of corporate heads and ghosts alike. Did they really think that creating a female police chief was going to make up for how that Lyle Lovett looker talked to Dax?
While I usually deplore gratuitous violence on DS9, I thought that the National Guard scenes were surprisingly bloodless. Yeah, they killed two main characters and wounded Sisko, but why didn't we see what they did to kids and old people who just happened to be standing in the wrong places on the streets? I lived in West Philadelphia in the late '80s when the mayor dropped a bomb which destroyed 20 blocks, in order to smoke out a black activist group; I know what a "police action" looks like. I guess the show decided to put verbal politics ahead of guns, although considering how violent the Sanctuary inhabitants were, I think we should have seen more of the military goonishness which is endemic to such a police state. Californians, take note: in the 21st century, your governor will obviously once again be Ronald Reagan, calling out the armed troops as he did in the '60s for the student revolt at Berkeley. This time everyone may have to come armed.
Michelle Erica Green reviews 'Enterprise' episodes for the Trek Nation, for which she is also a news writer. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.