Thursday, July 21, 2011

Reason #33 Why I Love DS9 - The Visitor

There are many reasons why I love Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and why it remains my favorite of the Star Trek franchise.

Reason #33: "The Visitor"

Deep Space Nine certainly didn't shy away from deeply personal stories over the course of its seven year run. One of these tales, told from the view of an elderly Jake Sisko (Tony Todd), focuses on the connection between fathers and sons. In 1996 "The Visitor" was voted the best single episode of any Star Trek series ever made. The episode remains a favorite to cast, crew, and fans.

We meet an old Jake when an aspiring young writer (played by Rachel Robinson, daughter of series regular Andrew Robinson) comes knocking at his door in the dead of night. Because of the timing of his arrival he tells her the story of how he lost his father (Avery Brooks) years before in a freak accident that sent him jumping through time.

Over the course of the episode we're witness to several of the most important moments of Jake's life including the unrelenting quest to save his father which destroys his marriage and promising writing career. We also get to see the older versions of the DS9 crew fitted with makeup and prosthetics (some of which work better than others).

It's at the end where Melanie, and the audience, realize his reasons for telling this story on this particular night. His father is returning again and Jake has found the one method which will free him from his temporal prison. He has to cut the tether which is holding them together. This, he theorizes, will snap his father back in time to the moment of the accident where he will be given a second chance to cheat fate. All that Jake needs to do to save his father is commit suicide.

It's a moving and a deeply personal story as Benjamin Sisko must watch his son, now decades older than himself, die before his eyes. Of course, he manages to save himself from the accident but the feeling of loss, even if he doesn't know where it comes from, stays with him after his return from the future.

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