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Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Image in the Sand

Ezri: Hello, Benjamin.
Sisko: Do I know you?
Ezri: It's me. Dax.

The first episode of the seventh and last season, dealing with the Dominion War, the death of Jadzia Dax, and an important message from the prophets.

This episode is set a few months after the last episode of the previous season, and time is spent catching us up. Captain Sisko is away, having returned to Earth for a break (but as always, he goes to the exact place he needs to be). Colonel Kira is running the station – she’s good at it, too, dealing with the Federation and the Romulans – and we see, too, how comfortable she and Odo are with each other. I guess there’s something about having a deep friendship before becoming lovers. I love how we learn about her promotion, and how easily Odo teases her. It’s nice to see our cranky shapeshifter so happy.

Others, however, are not happy. Several are mourning the death of Jadzia Dax. The most upset, naturally, is Worf. He tries to channel his emotions by fighting (but convoys aren’t enough for him) and by smashing up Vic’s (which is just a holodeck). His friends are concerned, and they finally stage an intervention. As Bashir would not be acceptable, and Quark even less so, the intervention has to be done by O’Brien. Miles has to accept a high level of alcohol in his system in order to get Worf to talk. Quark offers coffee afterwards, but you would think that the 24th century would have something to deal with hangovers.

I'm glad to see Damar wondering about the Prophets v. the Pah wraiths. As Star Trek fans tend to have an appreciation for science, religion and faith in the gods often dismissed. In most life, I don’t disagree – but in this storyverse, there's no disputing the fact the Prophets are both real and powerful. Of course Weyoun, who is genetically programmed to worship shapeshifters, is also ready to dismiss the Prophets.

Captain Sisko, also grieving for Jadzia, is taking time off on Earth, playing the piano in his father’s restaurant, waiting for inspiration. And it finally arrives. He gets a vision of a woman’s face half buried in the sand. Why did it take three months for this vision to appear? Did it have to wait for Jake to have been cleaning out some papers so he would recognize her? And what was she doing with Joe Sisko?

We get the big reveal, which should not be such a big reveal: Captain Sisko’s mother was a woman who was manipulated by the Prophets. The three Siskos prepare to take a trip to Tyree, which is where the sand was – and as a sandy landscape could be anywhere, IMHO, I guess the Prophets gave instructions in the vision – but before they actually go, someone comes to the door. The someone is Ezri Dax, whose appearance brings hope to Sisko, for Dax lives on.

Title musings. “Image in the Sand” is the title of the episode, and its obvious reference is the vision Sisko receives from the Prophets. This vision propels the episode, so it’s certainly enough to warrant being the title. Are there other meanings? An image in a sand is not necessarily a hallucination (it’s not titled mirage); it seems like something that could definitely be there, but could easily be blown or washed away. Metaphorically, the title is evocative; we don’t know if what we currently see will remain; the story could go in any direction. For example, one plot thread that is blown quickly in another direction is the Romulan presence on the station. I like this title.

Bits and pieces

Kira has finally been promoted to Colonel Kira, a long overdue promotion, but it’s obvious she had a few detractors in the armed forces, not to speak of Kai Winn. A reason the writers postponed her promotion was that Colonel Kira is easier to garble than Major Kira.

Kira also has a new uniform, which would not be flattering on anyone else. But Nana Visitor pulls it off (of course, she leaves it on, but you know what I mean).

It’s nice to see Jake Sisko take out his father’s attacker. He may have never joined Starfleet, but he has experienced battle.

In terms of the overall arc, I’ve occasionally wondered why the Prophets decided to create an Emissary who was not of Bajor, or at least not born on that planet. However, given the Dominion War, it makes sense. They needed someone with a good connection with the Federation, someone who could provide an alliance to protect Bajor when the threat was at its most dire. They also needed an orb kept far away from Bajor, the Pah-Wraiths and the Cardassians. I guess Tyree was it.

Tears always prick my eyes when Ezri shows up.

Slight spoiler: now that we have met Captain Sisko’s prophet mother, all of his interactions with the prophets will be through her. I think that’s a pity, as I always liked the array of other characters serving as prophets.


Odo: A lot of people feel abandoned by the Prophets.
Kira: Believe me, I know how they feel. That's no excuse to turn to hate and fear.
Odo: In times of trouble, some people find comfort in hate and fear.

Bashir: There should be a law against convoy duty lasting more than ten days.
Nog: I'll say one thing for guarding convoys, it's usually a lot safer than being on the front lines.
Worf: Is that the reason you joined Starfleet, Ensign? To be safe?

Ross: Let's get one thing straight, Colonel. I came here as a courtesy to you. This decision has already been made.
Kira: And I have to live with it.

Damar: Do you ever wonder what goes on? Inside the wormhole, I mean.
Weyoun: Not really.
Damar: The Prophets and the Pah wraiths locked in some form of celestial battle. It's fascinating.
Weyoun: I never realized you had such a vivid imagination.
Damar: There's a lot about me you don't know.

Vic: Well, something is driving Worf cuckoo. Your buddy needs to get some serious help and soon. The band is threatening to quit.
Quark: They can't quit. They're holograms.
Vic: They don't know that.

Joseph: I still don't understand why the Prophets would send you a vision of Sarah.
Sisko: I came back here to clear my head, to try to figure out what to do next. Maybe learning the truth about my mother is the first step of this journey.
Joseph: Well, from here on out, I hope the Prophets keep their noses out of my business.
Sisko: Are there any other secrets I should know about?
Joseph: Just my gumbo recipe, but I'm taking that to my grave.

O'Brien: Got any glasses?
Worf: None that are clean.
O'Brien: Oh well, who needs glasses, hey? Cheers.

Cretak: Apparently, we're no longer welcome on Derna.
Ross: They want to close down the hospital?
Kira: The hospital isn't the problem.
Ross: Then what is?
Kira: The seven thousand plasma torpedoes the Romulans have secretly deployed there.

Overall rating

I may be grading high, but even after more than 20 years, this still holds up, with tight plotting and wonderful moments. Four out of four secret gumbo recipes.

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


  1. Great review Victoria, thanks!
    I think that thing with Sisko's mother is not about who he is as a human but is more about a time paradox. He was the first that discovered the wormhole and the first that introduced the prophets to linear time existence.
    So I think that they try to secure his birth, so he could acomplish that. Even though it happened after he was born. For them theres no past o future. Is all the same.

    PD: I too became emotional every time I see Ezri. The Dax legacy lives on! And their frienship with Benjamin is so important for both of them that it transcends lifetimes. Is so beautiful.

    1. I agree. I always felt the Prophets (also known as the writers) went back into time to make Sisko half-prophet. Perhaps the reason Joseph Sisko never mentioned his first wife to Ben was because it didn't happen until after the Prophets meddled.
      I'm surprised Ben never bothered to look at his birth certificate, or whatever the Federation equivalent is. Ah, quibbling.


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