Mark Watches ‘Deep Space Nine’: S05E22 – Children of Time

In the twenty-second episode of the fifth season of Deep Space Nine, what the fuck is wrong with this show? Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek. 

This show just can’t leave me alone. LOOK, I AM JUST ONE INNOCENT FAN, WHY MUST YOU DO THIS TO ME.


Star Trek has used the vehicle of science fiction to give us a number of ethical problems over the years, and “Children of Time” certainly feels like a very Star Trek conflict. (I’m thinking of “Tuvix” and my heart hurts.) Yet Deep Space Nine finds a way to tie this ethical conundrum into an existing storyline just so they can hurt us even more. But let’s say the Odo/Kira part doesn’t exist. Even without it, this is one hell of a nightmare. After crashing on a planet with a weird energy boundary, the crew on the Defiant meets their descendants. How is that possible? Well, when they tried to leave, they hit a temporal anomaly, got sent two hundred years in the past, and got stranded, thus creating the very colony they’re interacting with in the present time.

I’m sure you can see the problem, but I didn’t, at least not until Sisko vocalized it: if the Defiant crew successfully left the planet, then they never crash land in the past and their descendants never exist. OH GOD, THIS IS A NIGHTMARE. And the writers don’t make this any easier for anyone involved. Kira is dead in this timeline; everyone has adorable and living descendants. (Why don’t we see any of Julian’s? I thought that was strange.) The Dax symbiont is in a new Trill host, Klingon culture is still thriving, the O’Brien family line is alive and well. Everything here challenges these people to reconsider leaving.

And that’s the huge problem, isn’t it? Does it count as murder or, at the very least, unethical for these people to use their scientific prowess in order to escape this timeline? Up until the point where Jadzia discovers that Yedrin lied about the sensor logs, there wasn’t much of an issue, since I believed they’d be able to split the Defiant into two timelines. However, Yedrin’s desire to preserve himself and two hundred years of history seems less heinous when you consider that he – and literally every single member of the 8,000+ population of that settlement – will pop out of existence the second the Defiant leaves. And what does that mean to each of these characters?

I’ll touch on Kira last, but for some, leaving is no question. O’Brien and Sisko want to return home because they’ve got family back at the station. Julian has no reason to stay. Worf and Jadzia are fascinated by their descendants, but there’s no real connection there beyond admiration. What works so well about “Children of Time” is how the DS9 crew slowly comes to believe that leaving is morally wrong. Kira’s the first to insist that this is a terrible idea, but soon, each of them come to believe they’re doing something awful by leaving.

Oh god, we have to talk about Kira, though.

A Glimpse of the Future and the Present

But the absolute best part of this episode is our glimpse of Future Odo, one who has learned to shapeshift into human form better than ever before, one who has opened up as a person, who is more willing to share his life and feelings with others. WHICH HE DOES BY IMMEDIATELY TELLING KIRA THAT HE LOVES HER AND HAS LOVED HER FOR A VERY LONG TIME. The brilliance of this partially comes from the fact that I did not expect this to come out into the open in this episode, despite that we learned that Kira and Shakaar were no longer seeing each other. The shock of it is a great story choice, but getting to see this version of Odo – a glimpse of a possible storyline with him – pushes Kira into wanting to stay. In a way, that’s heartbreaking. She believes that life only allows for one path, and she chooses the one where she dies, all so that 8,000 other people can live.

But she also chooses the one without any chance at a relationship with Odo, and I can’t help but feel crushed by this. It’s understandable, of course, and the final part of “Children of Time” makes it clear that a relationship isn’t even a possibility with Kira at this time. However, Deep Space Nine avoids a common trope by not having Kira immediately swoon over Odo. She’s surprised by the revelation, she takes Odo seriously, but she also doesn’t believe that what Future Odo did for her – altering the Defiant’s flight plan so that they all survive their exit – was all that romantic or fair.

Instead, “Children of Time” feels remarkably honest for such an absurd premise. It’s because the writers ground everything in believable characters and believable responses to the situation.


The video for “Children of Time” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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