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DS9 3-17

DS9 3x17

Original airdate: 2/27/1995
Rewatch date: 8/8/2013

After exposure to radiation, O'Brien finds himself skipping forward and back into the near future as Romulans come to the station demanding intelligence reports on the Dominion.

Spoiler-free notes:

Why does all the trippy stuff happen to O'Brien?

This is trying to take a new approach to time travel. It's similar to--but distinct from--TNG's "Time Squared" and "Cause and Effect."

Okay, the crew is pretty obtuse here. They're talking about quantum singularities and sabotage and nobody thinks to suspect the Romulans might be involved?

It's hard to imagine the point of view of the future versions of Bashir and O'Brien. For example, after Dr. Bashir loses O'Brien and then meets up with the past O'Brien, does he expect the past to change? If so, what happens to him after past O'Brien disappears?

There are covert Klingons? That seems a little out of character in this century, though we did see a Klingon spy in TOS' "The Trouble with Tribbles."

Thank God nobody talks about "second-guessing" their decisions on the basis of knowing the future.

It's cool that O'Brien is replaced by his future double. There have been episodes that could have done something similar (as in "Second Chances," where the writers briefly considered replacing Commander Riker with Lieutenant Riker), but this is the first time the writers actually go through with it. Granted, there is no meaningful difference between the two O'Brien's.

I do have some time travel nitpicks, though I recognize the writers are encouraging me to ignore them with the line "I hate temporal mechanics." The first time a future O'Brien sees his past self, he remembers witnessing the event before. In later leaps, future O'Brien anticipates past O'Brien's arrival (even going so far as to say "Oh, it's you again" at one point). However, in the final leap, the future O'Brien should have already experienced the earlier leap in which O'Brien witnessed the destruction of the station, and yet he's just sleeping blissfully unaware that anything's going wrong. Additionally, the present tense O'Brien never bumps into his past self again, even though he should--technically--see his past self every five hours after every single leap, even if the timeline has been significantly changed.

It's disappointing that the Romulans are revealed to be the bad guys, preparing to blow up the station and collapse the wormhole. Romulans are good villains, but for the more subtle politics of DS9, it seems like a major development that should have repercussions given the cooperation over the cloaking device and all that. It just seems too easy, too megalomaniacal, and too one-dimensional.

This is a fun time travel episode that works best when you turn off your brain and strap yourself in for the ride.

DS9 3x16
"Prophet Motive"
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DS9 3x18
"Distant Voices"
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