The Great Star Trek DS9 Rewatch: Things Past

When their runabout hits a plasma storm, Odo, Garak, Dax and Sisko find themselves seven years in the past, as Bajorans living on Cardassian-occupied DS9. Whilst Bashir tries to care for their unconscious bodies in the present, Sisko and the others must figure out what’s going on, and how to escape their predicament.

Things Past feels like a sequel of sorts to Necessary Evil, and unfortunately, it is a poor shadow of that episode. An implausible setup is used to ‘quantum leap’ Sisko and the others into the past, where they look like themselves to the audience, but Bajorans to everyone else. The whole point of this is to explore Odo’s guilt over a case from the Occupation, where his blind application of order and justice led to three innocent men getting executed.

Except, none of this makes any sense. The Odo we meet in season one is not a man who has learnt his lesson after making such a costly mistake – instead, he’s still so rigid that he misses the order of the Occupation days. This is a lesson that should have been learnt in the present – although as the Federation does not routinely use the death penalty, the consequences might have been less harsh – not retconned into the past of a character in a place where it made no difference.

Other things wrong in this episode

  • At the end, Kira confronts Odo, and it seems as if she can never trust him again. Doesn’t she remember that their roles were reversed at the end of Necessary Evil, when Odo found out about Kira’s dark past secrets? At the very least, they are now even – and really Kira should have a bit more empathy.
  • The ‘fake Great Link’ is ridiculous even by Star Trek standards.
  • Garak goes to a conference on Bajor to defend the Occupation – this not only seems a bit stupid, but also out of character. Dukat is the egomaniac who believes that the Occupation was a good thing and would vocally defend it. Garak seems to me to be much more of a pragmatist, who would appreciate the political motivations behind the Occupation, and not expect the Bajorans to regard it as a good thing.
  • Did Dukat really like confiding in Bajoran girls without sleeping with them? Or maybe he did sleep with Dax, and we’re just spared from even the implication. To be honest, it feels like the only reason for this plot point is to put Dax in a position where she can rescue the others.

Other points

  • Garak’s six months in prison must now be up, as he is out and about again.
  • Odo still has morphogenic enzymes in his brain, which indicate that he is not entirely human – even though Bashir confirmed that he was entirely human after his transformation in Broken Link. At any rate, this is the first hint that he will get his shapeshifting abilities back.

Summary – Things Past: A misplaced character development episode.

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