Past Tense (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
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|Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode|
|Episode no.||Season 3
Episode 11 & 12
|Directed by||Reza Badiyi (Part I)
Jonathan Frakes (Part II)
|Teleplay by||Robert Hewitt Wolfe (Part I)
Ira Steven Behr (Part II)
René Echevarria (Part II)
|Story by||Ira Steven Behr
Robert Hewitt Wolfe
|Featured music||Dennis McCarthy (Part I)
David Bell (Part II)
|Production code||457 & 458|
|Original air date||January 8, 1995
January 15, 1995
The crew of the Defiant is thrown back in time to 2024 on Earth. The United States of America has attempted to solve the problem of homelessness by erecting "Sanctuary Districts" where unemployed and/or mentally ill persons are placed in makeshift ghettos.
Dax is separated from her crewmates. Offered help by a prominent businessman, Chris Brynner, she manages to get an ID, money, and a place to live.
Meanwhile, Sisko and Bashir are awakened by a pair of police officers, who believe them to be vagrants and warn them to get off the streets. They are escorted to a "Sanctuary District", a fenced-off ghetto that is used to contain the poor, the sick, the mentally disabled, and anyone else who cannot support themselves. Sisko sees the date on the calendar and realizes they have arrived just days before the "Bell Riots", a violent confrontation in the San Francisco Sanctuary District, that Sisko recalls as a watershed moment in human history. Dozens will be killed, including a man named Gabriel Bell, the leader of the demonstration. Bell will become a hero because of his self-sacrifice while protecting hostages. As a result of Bell's heroism, attitudes to the poor and sick begin to change. Unable to find a building to sleep in, Sisko and Bashir live in the street.
Attending an affluent party with Brynner, Dax realizes that Sisko and Bashir have been taken into the Sanctuary District, and sets about finding them.
Disaster strikes when a fight breaks out because Sisko and Bashir resist attempts to steal the food cards they have been given. A man who comes to their aid is killed, and Sisko and Bashir discover after the fact that he was Gabriel Bell. Sisko quickly realizes that due to their presence, the course of history stands to be radically changed, since Bell is no longer around to play the prominent role of hostage protection in the historical narrative. Sisko, who bears a passable resemblance to Bell, assumes his identity to ensure that history resumes as it did before.
Back in the 24th century, the crew left on the Defiant, Major Kira, Odo, and Chief O'Brien, lose contact with Earth as all traces of the Federation suddenly vanish; Bell's death has radically altered the timeline. O'Brien's calculations narrow down the time period that Dax, Sisko, and Bashir are in to a small number of possibilities, and follow up a number of them, with Kira and O'Brien transporting to the different time periods and scanning for the appropriate radiation signature.
Sisko (posing as the late Gabriel Bell) and Bashir return to the employment center just as it is stormed by a group of disgruntled Sanctuary Residents and its staff and police officers taken hostage. Sisko takes on leadership of the revolt, trying to ensure that no one gets hurt, and understanding that at the resolution of the revolt Gabriel Bell must die. He makes demands to the governor, insisting they be given airtime to express their grievances. He wants the Sanctuary Districts closed and he wants the people to be given opportunities to earn an honest living.
The riots are in full swing outside. Dax watches from Brynner's office, knowing Sisko and Bashir are caught in the Sanctuary District and are in danger, and heads down to find them. She sneaks through the lines via a sewer pipe and is caught and delivered to the employment center to explain herself. There Sisko and Bashir catch up with her in secret. She sneaks back out, certain that Brynner will be able to order a terminal activated at the employment center so that the leaders of the revolt can tell their stories and have them broadcast worldwide, which was the main force that turned the tide of opinion, leading to the end of the Sanctuary Districts.
With only enough energy for one more transport, Kira and O'Brien finally transport themselves to the correct time in history and contact Dax. They stand by to rescue Sisko and Bashir if they can. It is a close call as the SWAT teams move in on the employment center to end the riot once and for all. They open fire, killing the leaders of the revolt; Sisko takes a bullet in the shoulder to protect the hostages and survives. Once the riots are over, the two police officers who first confronted Sisko and Bashir agree to slip Sisko's identification (with Bell's name) onto one of the dead men, and also to tell the truth about what has happened here. The DS9 officers are beamed back to the Defiant in the 24th century and find everything back to normal, history having unfolded just as it should have. The only difference in time (as revealed at the end of the episode) is that Bell's entry in the historical records now shows Sisko's picture in place of his own.
The Attica Prison riot served as a source of inspiration for the Bell Riots from this episode.
According to the DVD commentary, as this episode was finishing production an article appeared in the Los Angeles Times describing a proposal by the mayor to create fenced-in "havens" for the city's homeless, to make downtown Los Angeles more desirable for business. The cast and crew were shocked that this was essentially the same scenario that Past Tense warned might happen in three decades, but was now being seriously proposed in the present.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Past Tense|
- "Past Tense, Part I" at the Internet Movie Database
- "Past Tense, Part II" at the Internet Movie Database
- "Past Tense, Part I" at TV.com
- "Past Tense, Part II" at TV.com
- Past Tense, Part I at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
- Past Tense, Part II at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
- Past Tense, Part I at StarTrek.com
- Past Tense, Part II at StarTrek.com