Children of Time

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 10:38 AM GMT

See Also: 'Children of Time' Episode Guide

I really wanted to like this story. It was full of emotional moments and philosophical questions, and I loved the sense of community on DS9 which it depicted.

Still, I can't escape the feeling that I was manipulated. Not only were we treated to an all-too-convenient deus-ex-machina alternate-universe Trek Relationship Ploy, but we got wildly contradictory information about how time travel works.

Sisko and crew discover a colony of people who claim to be their own descendants, established when the ship crashes three days in the future from the stardate at the start of the episode. The crew of course resists the idea that they are fated to live several hundred years in the past, marooned on this planet, and set out to figure out how to avoid the accident. But their descendants are working against them, both practically - Dax's new host falsifies data on the accident) and emotionally - the crew are introduced to their own great-grandchildren, who will never be born if they avoid the crash.

Odo, who is still alive, seeks out Kira, who died mere days after the accident on the planet in the "past" of the colony. He confesses his love for her, but she decides that she would rather die to let the colony live than try to avoid the accident which will take her own life, thus dooming the settlement before it is established. Even Sisko eventually agrees that the colony is more important than the current lives on DS9 of his crew. But the accident fails to happen because the future Odo sabotages the flight plan, in order to ensure that his beloved Kira will survive for his own past self.

Give me a break.

One of my favorite Next Generation episodes was "Parallels," where Worf kept jumping timelines. At first little things were different, then bigger things, until we finally got glimpses of a universe where Starfleet lost the battle of Wolf 359 and the Federation was assimilated by the Borg. That timeline existed simultaneously with series-"real time" on TNG, as well as with variations where Worf married Troi, Picard was killed by the Borg, etc.

We were led to believe - in "Parallels" and other TNG episodes with similar themes - that alternate universes are merely parallel timelines which result from different probabilities coming into play. No choice is an either-or. All possible consequences of any turning point became reality, but in different timelines. No matter what decision an individual makes in any given situation, a timeline exists where a different choice was made, resulting in a different universe from that moment forward. Hence, Worf discovered that in another timeline, he had children with Deanna Troi, but Alexander was never born.

To paraphrase Captain Kathryn Janeway from Voyager's "Future's End," this time travel stuff always gives me a headache. Still, "Children of Time" nonetheless gives us a view of the universe which is fundamentally incompatible with the one from TNG. No one on DS9 stops to consider that they don't need to recreate the Defiant accident, because the one which spawned the colony in the first place already existed - and in another timeline, that colony will continue to exist.

If two Odos (the blob of goo in sickbay and the man who courts Kira) and two Dax symbionts (the slug in Jadzia and the slug in her descendant) can exist simultaneously, then how come none of the scientists on the Defiant conceived of the notion that the settlement would continue, but in another universe where the accident had already taken place? Like on Voyager's episode "Deadlock," where one Voyager was destroyed fighting the Vidiians but the other was fine? As I understand it from my limited reading in Hawking, the same body can't exist in two places at the same time in the same one of the Odos and one of the Daxes should have been in a different timeline to begin I making any sense at all?

Even if I'm not, even if the crew was correct in assuming that returning to DS9 would unquestionably exterminate their descendants, I'm not sorry to see the Odo of that future die. Are we supposed to find it moving or romantic that a man chose to kill 8,000 people to save the life of one woman? I found it sickening, and completely out of character for Odo. I'd much rather stick with the current repressed law officer than see Kira fall for a psychopath, which is how I'd characterize anyone who would commit genocide for his lover. I really loved the Odo/Kira relationship, but now it's been soured for me.

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.

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.