Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Children of Time

Kira: “I don't know what to say. I'm still trying to sort everything out.”
Odo: “So am I. I think we both need time. There's something else the other Odo wanted you to know. He was responsible for changing the Defiant's flight plan.”
Kira: “Why?”
Odo: “So that you wouldn't have to die.”
Kira: “I can't believe it. Eight thousand people!”
Odo: “He did it for you, Nerys. He loved you.”
Kira: “That makes it right?”
Odo: “I don't know. He thought so. I'll see you in the morning.”

The episode in which Kira finally learns of Odo’s love for her.

This episode opens with the Defiant on its way back to DS9 after a week in the Gamma Quadrant with nearly all our heroes on board, one of those tropes that doesn’t make sense in terms of the allocation of personnel, but which we have accepted a long time ago as how TV is done. Over coffee Kira reveals that she and Shakaar, at the direction of the Bajoran Prophets, have ended their relationship. Her two listeners have very different reactions. Jadzia can’t fathom yielding her free will so easily. Odo, however, is so disturbed by the news that he has to leave the room. Kira, whom he has loved for years, is now available again! Will he finally confess his love?

Before the Defiant reaches the Alpha quadrant, Jadzia notices an interesting planet. The Defiant makes a detour, and in crossing a technobabble barrier around the planet, Kira is injured and Odo can no longer hold a solid form. The planet, Gaia, turns out to be populated with their descendants. Now, meeting descendants has to be old hat for Dax, as the symbiont must have met the descendants of other hosts before (and this time Dax meets Dax). Even if it’s not encouraged in Trill society, it could not be avoided. So her main interest in this peculiar event is in how her relationship with Worf turns out, which Yedrin Dax can tell her.

The other members of the crew are more overwhelmed by the encounter with their descendants, who revere them as heroes. Bashir – who, despite all his kindness, has a ginormous ego – is absolutely delighted! The most striking are the Sons of Mogh (why not the Sons of Worf? and why never Daughters?) who follow Klingon traditions as best they can (probably better than most real Klingons, who don’t always practice the honor they preach).

Our crew, in the meantime, are facing a terrible dilemma. Now they know of the incident that sent them back in time, they can easily avoid it. Avoiding the accident seems like the natural choice for most of them. Sisko and O’Brien have minor children back on the station, and all of them have lives in the present. Moreover, Kira’s injury, if not treated by the sophisticated equipment on DS9, will lead to her death. The descendants even let their ancestors know about Kira’s grave.

To leave the planet instead of traveling back in time, however, means wiping out all the people on the planet – their very own descendants. Eight thousand people will never have been born, not to mention all the lives lived and ended during the last two hundred years (and these lives are not mentioned).

One thing that makes this episode so strong – and different – is that it’s not a good versus evil episode, or even a danger versus safety episode (at least there’s no danger for our heroes), but an episode of choosing between two very different alternatives.

Our Odo, thanks to the technobabble barrier that has caused all the problems, is confined to his regeneration bucket. But Planet Odo has managed to overcome the technobabble barrier, and comes up to the Defiant to see Kira.

Seeing RenĂ© Auberjonois in this version of Odo is so satisfying! With less make up, much more confidence – and some of the joie de vivre that belonged to Rene but had to be tamped down for him to play Odo – Planet Odo tells Kira at once that he has always loved her. He also tells her that he doesn’t expect her to say these words back, but that he wants to spend some time with her. They only have two days before the Defiant is supposed to leave.

Two days. Two very important days for the people on the planet, who need to persuade the current crew of the Defiant to repeat the accident and to go back in time. In the meantime, Dax – Yedrin Dax – comes up with a different approach. The accident can twin the Defiant, and one will go back in time and the other returns to DS9. This is a slick solution - a little too slick.

We see how different Kira and Dax are. Kira wants to avoid loopholes, because it feels like cheating, and she is willing to die so that others might live. Dax – and I assume it’s Dax, because we see the same quality in both Jadzia and Yedrin – searches for the technobabble loophole, such as in “Looking for par’Mach in all the Wrong Places,” where Dax manages to get Worf to Cyrano de Bergerac Quark so he survives a bat’leth fight in the holodeck. (My goodness, what a strange sentence.)

Alas, Yedrin Dax’s plan is a cheat. He set the quantum fluctuations to zero, something that Jadzia says would have a one in a billion probability (I’d warrant the probability would be far, far less likely). He is trying to fool the crew into thinking they are the ones going back, while their doubles are on their way back to DS9.

Sisko, even though he is willing to sacrifice himself, is not willing to sacrifice his crew against their will. Everyone has to agree. O’Brien, the devoted family man, is most against it.

The descendants are naturally glum, but take steps to protect their children from what they expect will end them. The Klingon bunch ask Worf to kill them so that they can die honorably and go to Sto’Vo’Kor instead of being deleted from the timeline. Everyone, even the Klingon wannabes, helps with the planting. O’Brien is so touched – especially by some of his young descendants – that he finally relents.

Once it is unanimous, the crew work to recreate the accident in order to strand themselves two hundred years in the past. They take off, but then there’s a glitch and they miss their chance. They scan the planet and all signs of their descendants are gone. On top of their horror on what happened, they don’t understand how it happened. No one on the Defiant would have done it! Then who from the planet? Nothing seems to make sense. Jadzia wonders if Yedrin, consumed by guilt, altered the ship's course. Yedrin wasn’t above deception, and this act would remove the guilt he felt whenever he looked at Ben and thought of Jake. However, Yedrin had been actively working to make the accident happen, so he seems an unlikely perpetrator.

Then we learn it was Planet Odo who sabotaged the ship's course, doing it so that Kira would live. Our Odo, able to leave his bucket after they cross the technobabble barrier, lets Kira know what happened. Kira is horrified by Planet Odo’s decision to let 8000 people “die” in order to save Kira.

And now I move into light spoilers (which I think fair for a series that has been over for two decades) and speculation. You have been warned! In my opinion, the Prophets are responsible for what has happened in this episode. After all, the Prophets were the ones who told Kira and Shakaar that it was time to break up. And the Prophets, who have some sort of control over time, could be behind the Defiant’s having gone back in time in the first place.

The Prophets never say this explicitly, but the relationship between Kira and Odo will be critical for protecting the Alpha Quadrant and especially Bajor. This decision is worth 8,000 lives of people who never should have existed, as the Kira-Odo relationship will save billions. We will see the Prophets behave like this again as they delete a fleet of Jem’Hadar who are crossing through the wormhole to invade the Alpha Quadrant. Furthermore, later we will see that Planet Odo’s act is consistent with the attitude of other changelings: they value particular individuals above thousands, perhaps millions, of others.

Title Musings. “Children of Time,” the title of this episode, has the obvious meaning of referring to the generations who followed the crash in the past. Not only are they children of our heroes, but they are also children in the sense that they will never be allowed to continue; they no longer exist; they could never achieve their destiny. However, I choose to assign another meaning for this title. The Bajoran Prophets are the gods of time and their children are the Bajorans.

Bits and pieces

I loved how Quark, who would have made no sense as part of the crew – and if he had been part of the crew he would have been clamoring to return to the space station because there would be no profit being stuck on planet in the past – was used to teach mathematics.

Even if our heroes went back in time, I don’t see how history could repeat itself. The descendants have described O’Brien as the last holdout, waiting ten years before settling down with Ensign Tannenbaum. But this O’Brien has made the decision to go back in time, and if he has made that decision, why would he wait ten years? So in my opinion, going back would lead to a different past.

I choose to believe that the Sons of Mogh and the others on Gaia are continuing their lives in another strand of the Multiverse.

Quotes

Gabriel: Are you the son of Mogh?
Worf: I am.
Gabriel: Is it true you can kill someone just by looking at them?
Worf: Only when I am angry.

Odo: There's something I want you to know. Something I've wanted to tell you for two hundred years. I love you, Nerys. I've always loved you.
Kira: What do you mean, you love me?
Odo: Is it so hard to believe?
Kira: I never knew you felt that way about me.
Odo: I did everything I could to make sure you wouldn't find out.

(Evening, and children are playing catch nearby.)
Kira: Look at them. They have no idea what's going to happen.
Worf: It is for the best. They are children. They would not understand.
Kira: I'm not sure I understand. Eight thousand people, Worf. They have to die because I have to go back to the station to be treated for some condition I can't even tell I have.

Brota: You said there was an enemy for us to fight.
Worf: They are attempting to plant their fields before the sun sets. Time is their enemy. We should help them defeat it.
Brota: Bring the others.

Dax: Everyone we met, they never existed.
Sisko: They existed. As long as we remember them, they always will.

Overall Rating

This thought-provoking episode may seem like a standalone episode, with the dreaded reset button being pressed at the end. But for Kira and Odo – and the Alpha quadrant – it is anything but standalone. There are a few logical flaws, but there are also wonderful bits – especially Planet Odo. Four out of four loaves of gelm bread.

Victoria Grossack loves math, Greek mythology, Jane Austen and great storytelling in many forms.

5 comments:

--- said...

OOOh, I love your interpretation for why the failure of DS9 crew's return to the accident time bubble didn't happen BECAUSE IT TOTALLY FITS WITH MY head canon of THE CHANGLING's long lives-ergo ODO, helps them to view time like THE PROPHETS thus OLD Odo could see the decision to maintain this mistake AU timeloop was wrong and like all Trek original timeline of Sisko as Emissary leading the Dominion Wars not just Kira his love, needed to returned to than continue the ABERRATION caused by Jadzia Dax. Also it then fits with this META headcanon of mine ☺ like Bashir's show behavior past ended up proof explaining he is a genetic genius, all past show parallels of Prophets & Founders using story dev tropes mean they are SAME species but millions billions years difference in evolution read my essay! =D

https://zontarmedia.blogspot.com/2020/02/my-headcanon-theory-is-eons-in-founders.html

[IMHO hate Trek people who really think Gaia people DIE so hate on ODO as killer genocide when they just cease to ever exist! When keeping Gaia around high probability allows for millions/billions from Dominion wars to die vs the regular timeline to me it's equal to Catholic Church not accepting early contraception birth control]

Victoria Grossack said...

Well, that's an interesting interpretation. I could see the changelings as having taken one step along the path of evolution - overcoming the bounds of space - and then the Prophets having taken the second step - overcoming the bounds of time. I am open to it, but not completely convinced. The changelings seem very controlling, while the Prophets are much more laissez-faire. And the Prophets are "of Bajor" while the changelings have been confined to the Gamma quadrant.

On the other hand, they are both worshipped as gods, and I think it's interesting that Kira turns out to be so significant to both races.

Thanks for your interpretation!

Gary said...

An atypical DS9 episode -- one of only two in the entire series with no scenes set on the station -- but one of the best.

I know there are some fans who think this story violates the "rule of time travel" established in other TREK episodes, but I think TREK has played fast-and-loose with chronal displacement enough that it didn't really bother me. (Take it up with Temporal Investigations if you have any objections...)

Your theory that the Prophets may have been manipulating events to bring Odo and Kira together is a fascinating one. Makes me wonder if the reason Vic Fontaine's insight and abilities exceeded those of normal holograms was due to more than just creative programming? Oh well, we can discuss that when we get to "His Way".

magritte said...

It was an interesting episode, exploring the moral implications of changing the past. It can be argued that philosophically no one "dies" as a result of Odo's manipulation, and that it simply allows an entirely different group of people to become the offspring of the crew. It's understandable when you meet the people of that future that you might prioritize their existence over the needs and desires of the people in the present, and the other possibilities that are closed off by the Defiant crew being stranded. But is it the right decision? Planet Odo makes the same call as Brad in Continuum essentially erasing his own future in the interest of the people of the past.

The interference of the Prophets is an interesting suggestion. I hadn't thought of that.

--- said...

per Victoria's reply
If you goto my essay(this is basically it)the connection to tie the Prophet's beneficence to the Founder's IS ODO the key savior macguffin as is Sisko the Emissary made primary key changer for the time needed during the Dominion War. Odo's insight and life as a solid temporal being, then as multi being Changling and knowing love and togetherness and important of love eternal & caring IS DELIVERED BACK TO THE LINK for eternity to consider and mull over til they as LAAS stated was their next step become CONSCIOUS outside of space-time not tied to matter. (this basically is it)

It's a dreaded some people hate time loop where the future changes the past to change the future, this episode shows how Odo gains part of that insight the Prophets know so well existing outside of space-time after evolving from space-time beings called the Founders. It's so annoying because I have been able to conspiracy group in alot of loose ends plot holes just from this headcanon after the fact. But to me it's no different than suddenly reframing thinking Bashir's early season actions and behavior once you learn he's genetic modified. =D