Far Beyond the Stars
|"Far Beyond the Stars"|
|Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode|
|Directed by||Avery Brooks|
|Story by||Marc Scott Zicree|
|Featured music||Dennis McCarthy|
|Cinematography by||Jonathan West|
|Original air date||February 11, 1998|
"Far Beyond the Stars" is the 137th episode of the syndicated science fiction television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the 13th episode of season six. The teleplay was written by Ira Steven Behr and Hans Beimler, based on a story by Marc Scott Zicree. Series star Avery Brooks directed. It is unique in that almost the full cast of DS9 portrays human characters, without their alien costumes, as a rare example of metafiction in the fictional Star Trek universe.
The stress of the space war is getting to Ben, triggering his dream-like visions to reoccur during a visit from his father. Inside Ben's mind reality and fantasy mix into a nightmare set in mid-20th century New York City. Back on the station his coworkers and family wait for him to recover.
Distraught by the death of a close friend in the Dominion War, Captain Benjamin Sisko speaks with his father about leaving Starfleet, but as the two talk, Sisko is distracted by a vision of a man dressed in 20th-century clothes. When Sisko's visions become more frequent and pervasive, Dr. Bashir examines him, and finds similar brain activity to a prior episode of visions Sisko experienced (in the episode "Rapture").
Suddenly, Sisko transitions entirely into his vision, becoming Benny Russell, an African-American science fiction writer in 1950s New York City. Russell writes for the science fiction magazine Incredible Tales, and most of the people he encounters bear the likeness of people from Sisko's life on the station. On the way to work, Russell buys the latest edition of Galaxy, their competitor, from a local newsboy (Aron Eisenberg/Nog). He then runs into his coworker Albert Macklin (Colm Meaney/O'Brien), and the two walk to work together. There, short-tempered liberal writer Herbert Rossoff (Armin Shimerman/Quark) argues with magazine editor Douglas Pabst (René Auberjonois/Odo) over donuts, while writers Kay Eaton, a.k.a. K.C. Hunter, (Nana Visitor/Kira) and Julius Eaton (Alexander Siddig/Bashir) banter in the background. The magazine's illustrator Roy Ritterhouse (J. G. Hertzler/Martok) then arrives with a stack of sketches for the next edition. Russell is particularly drawn to a sketch of a space station much like Deep Space 9, and decides to write a story for it. When Pabst announces the next edition will include photos of the staff, he suggests Kay "sleep late" that morning, as the public would not respond well to the revelation she is a woman. Russell realizes he also will not be included, which Pabst confirms. Rossoff objects, but Pabst stands firm, choosing to conform to the prevailing public opinion.
Leaving the office that night, a gust of wind takes Russell's drawing, and lands it at the feet of two police officers, Burt Ryan (Marc Alaimo/Dukat) and Kevin Mulkahey (Jeffrey Combs/Weyoun). The officers hassle and question Russell, but let him go with a "warning". Russell then encounters a preacher (Brock Peters/Joseph Sisko) who seems to be speaking directly to him, imploring him to "write those words" in the name of "the Prophets". He goes home and begins to write.
Some time later, he finishes his story, titled "Deep Space Nine", about a black captain of a space station. He shows it to his girlfriend Cassie (Penny Johnson Jerald/Kasidy Yates), who instead wants to buy the diner where she works with him, doubting his ability to earn a good living as a writer. A local hustler, Jimmy (Cirroc Lofton/Jake Sisko), laughs at his idea of "Negros in space". Baseball player Willie Hawkins (Michael Dorn/Worf) flirts with Cassie, but she rebuffs him. At the magazine, the entire staff loves his story, especially Pabst's new secretary Darlene Kursky (Terry Farrell/Dax). Pabst, however, refuses to print it, and Russell refuses to change his story.
Instead of turning his efforts to something more acceptable, Russell decides to write six sequels to his story, angering Pabst, until the staff devise a compromise: Russell's story will be a dream. Russell insists the dreamer also be black, to which Pabst consents. While Russell and Cassie are out celebrating, they hear gunshots, and rush out to find that Jimmy has been shot and killed by Officers Ryan and Mulkahey, ostensibly because he was trying to break into a car. When Benny protests this injustice, they beat him savagely.
Weeks later, on his first day back at the office, excited to see his story in print, Pabst arrives empty-handed and informs them the whole month's run of the magazine has been pulped, as the owner wouldn't publish a story featuring a black hero. Pabst tells Benny he is being forced to fire him as well. Benny breaks down; he screams that although the world can deny him, they cannot destroy his ideas and the future he envisions is real. He collapses to the floor sobbing and is taken away by an ambulance. As he falls unconscious, he looks through the window and, rather than the city, sees stars streaking past. The preacher sits by him and tells him that he is both the dreamer and the dream. Sisko wakes up back on the station. He is deeply moved by his vision, and wonders if somewhere Benny Russell is dreaming of Deep Space Nine.
Zicree's original pitch for the episode featured Jake Sisko as the main character, and did not deal directly with racial issues. Zicree originally patterned the Bashir/Kira characters on Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore, and the O'Brien character on Isaac Asimov.
Zicree's story was combined with ideas that story editor Robert Hewitt Wolfe had written for a script called "Cold and Distant Stars", a very early draft for the Season Three two-part episode "Past Tense", in which Wolfe suggested a story about Sisko as a contemporary homeless man who believes he is a star base captain, but who is diagnosed as schizophrenic and drugged to suppress his visions. At that time, producer Ira Steven Behr had rejected the hallucinatory element in favor of a time-travel story.
The entire main cast and several recurring cast members appear as characters in Sisko's vision, though with different roles and personalities.
- Avery Brooks (Benjamin Sisko) is Benny Russell, a black science fiction writer for a magazine in 1950s New York City.
- Penny Johnson Jerald (Kasidy Yates) portrays Cassie, a waitress at a diner and Benny's girlfriend.
- Armin Shimerman (Quark) portrays Herbert Rossoff, a writer.
- Alexander Siddig (Julian Bashir) portrays Julius Eaton, a writer.
- Nana Visitor (Kira Nerys) portrays Kay Eaton, a.k.a. K.C. Hunter, a writer.
- Colm Meaney (Miles O'Brien) portrays Albert Macklin, a writer.
- René Auberjonois (Odo) portrays Douglas Pabst, the magazine's editor.
- Terry Farrell (Jadzia Dax) portrays Darlene Kursky, Pabst's secretary.
- Michael Dorn (Worf) portrays Willie Hawkins, a baseball player.
- Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko) portrays Jimmy, a young hustler.
- Brock Peters (Joseph Sisko) portrays a street preacher.
- Marc Alaimo (Dukat) portrays Burt Ryan, a policeman.
- Jeffrey Combs (Weyoun) portrays Kevin Mulkahey, a policeman.
- Aron Eisenberg (Nog) portrays a newsboy.
- J. G. Hertzler (Martok) portrays Roy Ritterhouse, the magazine's illustrator.
- "Normal Again" - a Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode that takes a similar approach of an entire series being a mentally constructed fiction of the main character
- Tommy Westphall Universe - another approach that the entire series (and linked ones) are imagined by an autistic boy
- Rapture (S5E10) (Previous episode where Ben is having visions)
- Nazzaro, Joe (June 1998). "Going Far Beyond the Stars". Star Trek Magazine. London: Titan Magazines. pp. 42–46.
- Erdmann, Terry; Block, Paula (2000). The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (1st ed.). New York City: Pocket Books. p. 196. ISBN 978-0671501068.
- Erdmann, Terry; Block, Paula (2000). The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (1st ed.). New York City: Pocket Books. pp. 532–537. ISBN 978-0671501068.
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