Mark Watches ‘Deep Space Nine’: S03E17 – Visionary

In the seventeenth episode of the third season of Deep Space Nine, THIS IS SUCH A COOL EPISODE. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek. 

Oh, y’all, you know how much I love a good time travel story. YOU KNOW IT IS MY OXYGEN. While most of “Visionary” follows the repetitive gimmick of O’Brien’s flash forwards, it’s still EXTREMELY ENTERTAINING. Like, I have no problem admitting this is a gimmicky story. Just like tropes are used to tell stories, I think narrative devices like the one here can give us a damn fine episode.

Right from the start, I appreciated that “Visionary” avoided a very common thing for the Star Trek universe. I don’t know what it’s called, but it’s that story where only one character observes and experiences a set phenomenon, and no one else does. Thus, the mystery unravels with the character trying to figure out what’s happening to themselves while also trying to bring other characters into the fold. We’ve seen it happen a lot throughout all of the Star Trek shows, and I’m even expecting Voyager to do it at some point. So I was pleasantly surprised when the first flash that O’Brien experienced WAS WITNESSED BY QUARK. Someone saw two O’Briens! IT’S NOT JUST LIMITED TO HIS PERCEPTION!

And what’s so fun about what comes after this is the rules constructed by the script. The flashes happen fairly regularly, and each time, O’Brien is sent about five hours into the future. Unlike most time travel plots, O’BRIEN CONSTANTLY INTERACTS WITH HIS ENVIRONMENT. Which is so refreshing! While the temporal mechanics are a mess, I loved that O’Brien never hesitated to ask someone what the hell was going on. Of course, as the flashes get more violent and more terrifying, it makes even more sense that he’d try to figure out what caused each of the chaotic or fatal events that he witnesses.

Let me speak on that, too, because this episode is Twilight Zone eerie, y’all. O’Brien watches himself die instantly once; then he interacts with his own recently-deceased body; then he watches Deep Space Nine EXPLODE. The escalation is clearly designed to build tension, but I also think it’s a fascinating way of examining the inevitable collision between the Romulans and Sisko. If the Romulans were always planning on using the destruction of Deep Space Nine to close the wormhole, then O’Brien is the temporal road block who discovers all the clues leading to that conclusion. His first flash happens right when Quark is vocalizing his distaste with the Klingons, which establishes them as an antagonistic force. Therefore, it’s easier to assume that they’re behind the mysterious device implanted in one of the panels where the Romulans are being housed. The fight scene further solidifies the Klingons as being rowdy and worthy of suspicion.

The irony is that the Romulans helped O’Brien discover their plans. If their ship hadn’t been cloaked and orbiting the station, the flashes would never have happened. Now, that’s a clever story all by itself, but “Visionary” goes a step further. I thought this was pretty disturbing as it was, but I’m curious if there will be any ramifications of FUTURE O’BRIEN SWITCHING WITH PAST O’BRIEN, WHO DIED IN THE FUTURE TIMELINE. Granted, as Julian points out, there’s only a five-hour difference between the two men. They have otherwise had the exact same life. All O’Brien knows is the result of a dart match and a few rounds of Dabo. Yet it’s still unnerving to think that… hell, what if it matters? What if those few hours screw something up?

It’s entirely likely this will never be addressed. IT’S STILL CREEPY.

The video for “Visionary” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– I will be at numerous conventions in 2016! Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be Death Note and Neon Genesis Evangelion. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
- Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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