(written from a Production point of view)
A visiting delegation from the Gamma Quadrant turns four crew members into "pieces" for a bizarre game.
It's an important day aboard Deep Space 9 as an official delegation on behalf of the Wadi are due to arrive from the Gamma Quadrant for first contact. Commander Sisko is in his dress uniform preparing to welcome the ship, although he gets worried when he learns that Jake has been learning about Bajoran girls from none other than his new friend Nog. Sisko decides they need to set aside some time the next day so he can work 'damage control'.
The senior staff assemble in the airlock to greet the Wadi representative, Falow. Although Sisko is keen to make a good impression, he is put out to find that Falow and the other Wadi just want to head straight to Quark's in order to play games.
In Quark's Bar, the Wadi delegates are eager to play a new game. However, Quark has to make sure they have something to gamble with for dabo. Falow offers klon peags or alpha-currant nectar as items of value, but Quark refuses them. Then, he proffers a bag of gems, which Quark accepts greedily.
After about six hours, the delegates are winning almost every spin and both Quark and Commander Sisko are getting tired (in Quark's case, he is tired of them always winning). Sisko decides enough is enough and leaves the bar to go to bed. Before leaving, Sisko asks Quark to inform him when they stop playing dabo. Quark heads over to the table, and pleads that the Dabo girl's hands are tired from all of those spins. Falow orders Quark to replace her. Quark gets Broik to replace her, and instructs him covertly to begin fixing the table so that the Wadi do not win. He loses the next turn, and becomes suspicious. He soon discovers Quark's deception and corners him at the bar. Quark tries to pass it off like he didn't know, but Falow is not fooled. He decides to start a new game and transforms the dabo table to a different board game, which he announces is called chula. He explains that the game involves four players, and that their objective is to "move along home". Quark decides to play the game, in hope that the Wadi will be lenient with his cheating.
In Sisko's quarters, he finds Jake still awake late into the evening. Jake admits to his father that he has been spending time with Nog, but on a school project, nothing more. Sisko tells him to go to bed, saying that is no excuse, and promises to have a chat with him about Nog and girls in the morning. However, as he is sleeping, he tosses and wakes up to find himself lying on the floor of a large odd room.
He tries to call Ops and attempts to end the program, if he is in a holosuite, but no luck. He has his Starfleet tricorder with him, so he searches around, trying all the doors until he finds an unlocked one. Sisko wanders a hall, opening another door. Behind it, he encounters an image of Falow, who, laughing mockingly, instructs him to "Move along, move along home!"
Hearing faint cries for help, he finds Doctor Bashir, who believes this is a dream and is trying to wake himself up. Major Kira and Lieutenant Dax show up moments later, also drawn by Bashir's screams. Sisko tells them of his encounter with Falow, which Bashir believes is a behavioral test, which deeply upsets Kira. They decide to split up and use their comm badges, which are still working, to keep in touch.
Early next morning, Jake Sisko informs Odo that his father is missing. Odo discovers that Sisko and three other senior staff members are not on board the station, and launches an investigation. After scolding Lieutenant Primmin, who had assumed they were affected by the long party last night, Odo orders a full security sweep of the station and the docked ships.
Meanwhile, Falow keeps Quark in the game, forcing him to learn the rules as he plays. Quark nervously asks for a minimum wager and rolls. Falow goes to work, executing the next turn. Meanwhile, the four players reach a door, which opens to reveal a girl playing a hopscotch-like game, and singing a rhyme:
- "Allamaraine, count to four,
- Allamaraine, then three more,
- Allamaraine, if you can see,
- Allamaraine, you'll come with me..."
The players move into the room, and are sealed in. Moving across the room, Kira stumbles into a force field. The girl, however, moves through it. Bashir deduces that the pattern of the girl's movements allows her to pass though, but is also knocked backwards. Jadzia follows the girl precisely, both singing the rhyme and mimicking the hand actions, and successfully passes the force field. The others follow. The girl proclaims:
- "Allamaraine! Third shap."
Back on the station, the Wadi cheer "Allamaraine!", as Falow moves the four pieces down one level on the board and hands Quark several jewels. He happily accepts them and believes he is learning the game.
Falow asks Quark to choose a path for the players, either the difficult short route, with a chance of winning more prizes, or the long, easy route. He says to choose carefully. "Double their peril, double your winnings!" teases Falow. Quark excitedly tries to negotiate a licensing agreement to keep the game in his bar, when Odo barges in demanding to know if Quark has seen them. He brushes him off until Odo exclaims four officers are missing. Slowly, Quark makes the connection – four players, four missing officers. He nervously looks at the player pieces and then at Odo, who silently understands Quarks realization. Falow insists he choose, so he chooses the safer path and, with Odo watching, rolls the dice.
Moving through the corridors of the maze, the players find a room with Wadi in it, all drinking and laughing. They don't very well respond to the officers. Frustrated, Kira starts shouting and throwing a tray of food to the floor. Suddenly the doors close, and a toxic gas fills the room, causing the players to start coughing. Furthermore, Falow comes into the room, telling them to move home again, but otherwise not responding. Bashir notices that the Wadi remain unaffected, and decides to try some of the drink that is being offered around. The drink relieves the effects of the gas. Sisko and the others also drink, and are also relieved. The Wadi all cheer. The image of Falow states that the players have progressed to shap four. At the table, the Wadi cheer "allamaraine" and Falow moves the player pieces ahead and Quark is happy to win more. Odo, concerned, leaves.
After some strange readings are detected on the Wadi's ship, Odo decides to visit the Wadi ship over Primmin's Starfleet objections. Odo retorts that he is not in Starfleet and he orders him to beam him over, and finds a room with an unusual energy signature. Stepping through the doors, he surprisingly ends up in Quark's Bar, to find Quark playing the game. Falow notices him, and reminds Quark to continue playing, choosing the next path. He chooses the safer path, but Falow says it's an "unfortunate roll."
In the game, they continue to move through the corridors when their tricorders detect an energy buildup. A bright light source appears and moves towards them. At the table, Falow selects a player piece. The light source scans them all, and then focuses on Bashir, who vanishes. Falow knocks over the piece, suggesting the player is out. Odo immediately orders them to give the officers back, but Falow ignores it, insisting they keep playing. However, he says Odo can have them back when Quark is done, albeit cryptically. Falow then tells Quark to choose which route to take, and he considers the risky path. Odo cautions Quark, but Quark realizes that the players were only one level away from "home", and the short route would take them there in only one move. Quark reassures Odo that he has spent his life assessing chance in games of all kinds, and that he has a good understanding of this one. With Odo's agreement, Quark decides to take the short route, but rolls a thialo – he must sacrifice one, so that two may live.
Odo is dismayed, and so is Quark, who is unable to decide which player to sacrifice. Odo says he cannot be forced to choose, but Falow says all three will be lost if he doesn't. He grovels dramatically and pleads to be allowed not to decide, and Falow accepts. He programs the computer to randomly select a player to be sacrificed.
In the game, they hear Bashir calling out. A door opens, and Dax heads into it. The others follow. They find themselves in a rocky cavern. In the distance, they can hear Bashir's voice calling to them, which entices them forward. Dax stumbles on loose rocks, and a large boulder lands on her leg. Fortunately, the leg is not broken, and they continue onwards. They see Bashir's figure, but instead of coming to help Dax, Falow's figure again appears and tells them they are on shap six. Dax eventually exhorts Kira and Sisko to leave her and reach safety, but they refuse, and insist on attempting to help Dax. Moving round a narrow outcropping on a steep cliff, they all fall off, appearing suddenly back in the bar, together with Bashir.
The Wadi finish their game and change the table back to a dabo table, and are about to leave, when Commander Sisko demands to know what was going on. At that point, Falow's normally stern deameanor changes. He states, with a comical intonation, "It's only a game!" There never was any actual risk, and that Quark had cheated them in Dabo. Having just feared for their lives, Commander Sisko is miffed at the Wadi; the Wadi have committed a faux pas on the group by offering them a game that deceived them into thinking that they were playing for their lives, which understandably would annoy the players especially after finding out that their lives were not in danger all this time. After the Wadi leave, Quark chases after Falow, sensing an opportunity to market Chula.
"First contact is not what it used to be."
- - Sisko
"This is not what I signed up for!"
- - Kira
"Well, I'm not in Starfleet."
- - Odo, when Primmin protests it's against Starfleet regulations to board a vessel without permission
"Do they have money?"
- - Quark, when the Wadi arrive at Quark's
"Is it against Starfleet regulations to press a few buttons?"
- - Odo, when ordering to be beamed over to the Wadi ship
"Constable Odo, good morning to you!"
- - George Primmin
"I just had a strange run-in with Falow. He said something about moving along home."
- - Sisko
"Use your tricorders for proximity checks every two minutes... and if all else fails, just yell again, doctor. We'll find you."
- - Sisko, to Bashir
"Please don't make me do this! I'm begging you. (gets down on his knees) Please, please! Please PLEASE! PLEASE! PLEASE! PLEASE! (crumples under the table) Please, please."
- - Quark, groveling when he has to lose a piece
"Do you have sex on your world?"
- - Quark
"Move along home!"
- - Wadi – file info
"Choose their path! Double their peril, double your winnings!"
- - Falow
"Move along, move along home!"
"You brought us here, you bring us home!"
- - Falow and Sisko
"Trust a gambler."
- - Quark
"That's not what you said when you were groveling on the floor."
"Oh, that's right... you were here for the groveling."
- - Odo and Quark
"Major, I gave you a direct order!"
"I can't, you're not in Starfleet."
"If I were a superior officer, I'd court-martial both of you."
- - Sisko, Kira, and Dax
"It's only a game!"
- - Falow, in response to the crew's indignation at being the objects of the game
"You know, this game could work here. It really could..."
- - Quark
Story and script
- A working title of this episode was "Sore Losers". (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion - A Series Guide and Script Library)
- Ira Steven Behr commented that it was "tough to find character stuff" in this episode "in terms of the writing." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 31)
- Frederick Rappaport commented he had a different conception of the game environment: "Mine was an exterior setting, almost neo-Martian Chronicles, with a touch of Gaudi-type architecture. There were houses in a little village but they were distorted, as in a nightmare; everything was angular and weird. The setting for the game was much better inside than on a clearly delineated 'outside' set. They made the rooms and hallways almost Arthurian. It was much more of phantasmagorical image." (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 8)
- Rappaport's original ending was different from the ending that appears in the finished episode. Rappaport commented, "Michael [Piller] was dissatisfied with my ending, in which Sisko and the others had to cross over a chasm. The chasm fell away, leaving Sisko essentially hanging by a thread. He was telling Kira and Dax to go on, because the passageway to freedom was on the opposite side, where they were. They had to save him, and it was Indiana Jones style." (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 8)
- On writing the episode, Michael Piller commented, "I did the story on ['Move Along Home'] and a rewrite on the script [….] I had a lot of fun working on it." (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 3, p. 13)
- According to one of the writers, Jeanne Carrigan-Fauci, the name of the game, "Chula", comes from "Chutes and Ladders", as the maze game is a "three-dimensional form" of the game. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- First versions of the episode were more complex, but history and scenographies were eventually simplified due to budget issues. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- According to writer Rappaport, "in an earlier version of the teleplay, our people win the game, but they discover that Bashir has not been returned to the station. So Falow strikes a deal – Quark must return all his winnings if they want Bashir back." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Michael Piller said that this episode was inspired by the episode "Checkmate" of The Prisoner. In some early versions of the script, the characters who become trapped in the game were placed in a surreal village, similar to the village featured in that series. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- In a scripted scene, Bashir whispered to Dax that he was considering having Garak make him a new dress uniform, although Jadzia wasn't sure it would be appropriate to have a Cardassian tailor make a Starfleet uniform. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion - A Series Guide and Script Library)
- This was the biggest-budgeted show since the series' pilot, "Emissary". (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 3, p. 13)
- "Move Along Home" was affected by budget issues that arose at the middle of the first season. Piller commented, "I would have thought based on my Next Generation experience that at the midway point of the season I'd be in great shape. I knew ['Move Along Home'] was going to be hugely expensive, but I thought that I'd have money to burn because we had done so many shows on the space station." ("As the Space Station Turns", The Deep Space Log Book: A First Season Companion, p. 33)
- These budget constraints made the filming of "Move Along Home" complex for the production team. David Livingston commented, "It was a killer. ['Move Along Home'] came at a point in the season where we were over budget. We didn't know how we were going to do the show. We had to make substantial changes in it, and yet it was still a huge episode. David Carson pulled it off." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 32)
- The chasm scene was the most complex scene in the episode. David Livingston commented, "We spent a lot of time planning it along with laying the air bags that they fell onto. It just took a lot of time and a lot of thought. We had a lot of discussion about where the chasm would be and the logic of how one person that's injured couldn't get across and the other two could. We ended up putting on a matte shot to see the chasm and it just took a lot of planning to make the logic of it work and then be able to make it physically inside there." (The Deep Space Log Book: A First Season Companion, p. 33)
- Terry Farrell's work on this episode prevented her from appearing in TNG: "Birthright, Part I", which was filmed around the same time. Siddig El Fadil guest-starred instead. Farrell commented, "I cried. I thought I should have fallen off the rock so I could have gone over there instead of Sid disappearing, because when we were filming 'Move Along Home' his character disappeared, and I was acting throughout the rest of it with Nana and Avery, and we got caught up together." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 48)
- Shigemi Numazawa was commissioned by Paramount Pictures to paint spacescapes for the sets of Deep Space 9. His paintings would appear in quarters and in a classroom of the space station. "Move Along Home" was the first episode to introduce his paintings as set dressing.
- Scenes from the filming of "Move Along Home" were part of a news report by Gerald Kolpan for Fox29 News. 
- Frederick Rappaport commented, "The audience never really understood the game, and that was the idea. All the audience needed to know was that our guys were in jeopardy. They needed to know as much as the characters needed to know: How the hell do they get out of there?" In the end, Rappaport was disappointed that much of the threat present in his original script was removed by the reveal at the end: "The ending, where we learn it was just a game, undercut everything that went down for the previous four acts. It all seems pointless if there wasn't any jeopardy after all. I've heard from some fans who felt cheated that the characters were never in any kind of threat. I agree with those fans." However, Rappaport was pleased with the episode up to the final moments, commenting, "On the other hand, I know others who were satisfied with it, too. Up to that point at the end, I was as spellbound as any viewer. I was hooked. The show was imaginative and well-realized, and it has gotten a great deal of attention." (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 8)
- Michael Piller commented, "It's one of the best premises of the season […] It's a little hokey, but there are many humorous and interesting twists in it." (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 3, p. 13)
- David Livingston stated, "The cave sequence at the end with the stunts was amazing." Another aspect of the episode Livingston thought successful was David Carson's directing. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 32)
- Armin Shimerman enjoyed aspects of the episode; "In its own cracked way, it's an okay show. It was the first time the writers allowed Quark to get somewhat serious. As Quark, I was once again screwing up, but they had given me a wonderful, almost heroic speech. They allowed Quark to, if not be a hero, at least have aspirations of doing something heroic. It's one of my favorite episodes." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Rick Berman commented, "It was a big show that had a tremendous amount of problems. It turned out much better than I thought it would. There were a lot of Lewis Carroll elements to the whole thing which were always a little bit on the verge of being hokey for me, but when all was said and done, I was pleasantly surprised." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 48)
- Ira Steven Behr commented, "You could just as easily say that 'Move Along Home' was a third season show and that you don't make your characters seem that potentially foolish the first year, but this is Star Trek. You want to believe your audience has a certain amount of sophistication, that they'll accept what you give them." ("As the Space Station Turns", The Deep Space Log Book: A First Season Companion, p. 33)
- Ford A. Thaxton, one of the producers of La-La Land Records' Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Collection, likes the episode. When asked in an interview why, he commented, "I’ll tell you why. It’s a very TNG-esque show, right? But the best moment in that show – the memorable moment – is when [Sisko, Bashir, and Dax are] going through this whole thing about what they're going to have to do, and they go to Kira… and Kira just looks at these guys like they’re completely out of their minds. 'Hey, I'm not Federation! I don't do this!' Something along those lines – that was the moment I remember from that. She just says, 'Wait a minute!'" 
- Director David Carson described this episode as "disappointing." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion) In a 2011 interview, he commented, "I'm a little vague on 'Move Along Home', but I do remember that it wasn't a very strong story." 
- Ronald D. Moore stated that, when he watched this episode prior to joining the DS9 writing staff, he was "wondering if everyone had lost their minds." (AOL chat, 1998)
- In their book Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages (p. 32), Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman described this episode as an "ambitious" installment which "featured a number of intricate alien domains."
- In The New Trek Programme Guide, the authors comment that "Move Along Home" was "an excellent and intriguing episode which cleverly uses its surrealism to present a very alien culture. Apparently there are some people out there, just released back into the community, who think this is the worst episode of the season." (The New Trek Programme Guide, p. 301)
- James F. Broderick wrote, "Perhaps the most interesting use of Lewis Carroll's opus is in the Deep Space Nine episode 'Move Along Home'. Deep Space Nine lends itself more easily to Alice-based interpretations." (The Literary Galaxy of Star Trek: An Analysis of References and Themes in the Television Series and Films )
- Chief Miles O'Brien (Colm Meaney) does not appear in this episode and is stated to be on Earth. As mentioned in the episode "Dax", he and Keiko O'Brien went to visit Keiko's mother for her 100th birthday there.
- This episode is not given a stardate, but the above reference suggests that it happened even later than "Dax" (which, according to its own stardate, occurred later than most other episodes of the season).
- This is the first episode to feature Sisko and Dax in their dress uniforms. Bashir has lost his in transit to DS9 (referenced in the episode) and at this point in the series a dress uniform hadn't been designed for Kira, so she appears in her normal duty uniform when greeting the Wadi.
- Broik's name is first used in this episode.
- This episode marks the second and final appearance of George Primmin (James Lashly) on the series, after "The Passenger".
- The Wadi ship was the first appearance of this studio model; for more information, see DS9 studio models.
- This episode shares several thematic elements with VOY: "The Thaw". In both episodes, crew members are transported to a surreal environment, where causality and logic are deranged, and where they are mocked for their efforts to escape.
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Hairstyling for a Series.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 5, 4 October 1993
- As part of the DS9 Season 1 DVD collection
Links and references
- Rene Auberjonois as Constable Odo
- Siddig El Fadil as Doctor Julian Bashir
- Terry Farrell as Lieutenant Jadzia Dax
- Cirroc Lofton as Jake Sisko
- Armin Shimerman as Quark
- Nana Visitor as Major Kira Nerys
- Robert Coffee as a Bajoran officer
- Judi Durand as Deep Space 9 computer voice
- Joe Durrenberger as Wadi
- Melissa Eastman as Wadi
- Bill Hagy as Wadi
- Randy James as Jones
- Howard Kay as Wadi
- Mark Lentry as a Human command lieutenant
- David B. Levinson as Broik
- Robin Morselli as Bajoran officer
- Pam Pruitt-McGeary as Wadi
- Mark Allen Shepherd as Morn
- Sandra Wild as dabo girl
- Unknown performers as
- Anita Hart as stunt double for Terry Farrell
- Patricia Tallman as stunt double for Nana Visitor
- Unknown stunt performer as stunt double for Avery Brooks
administrator; airlock; allamaraine; alpha-currant nectar; ambassador; Andolian brandy; antidote; Bajor; Bajorans; Bajoran fashion; Bajoran transport; Bajoran wormhole; bed; behavioral test; bet; case; captain; chief of security; Chula; cocktail party; combadge; court martial; dabo; dabo girl; dabo wheel; damage control; dice; docking bay; dress uniform; drug; Earth; echo; energy flux; explorer; expression; father; fault line; Ferengi; figurines; first contact; flux pattern; gambler; game; Gamma Quadrant; gemstones; holosuite; hour; Human; ionic field; juice; klon peag; laboratory; laboratory rodent; labyrinth; leg; lemonade; licensing agreement; logic; lokar bean; magnetic field; Master Surchid; maze; McCoullough; meter; minute; mirror; model; money; morning; night; nightmare; Nog; O'Brien, Keiko; Old Man; ops; painting; path; poison; proximity check; pyramidic; Quark's; reactive ion impeller; red carpet; rehearsal; replicator; rhyme; riddle; rodent; scan; school; security officer; senior officer; senior staff; sex; shap; Starfleet; starship; stick; sweep; swindler; tectonic shift; thialo; three-dimensional chess; transporter; tricorder; Trill; United Federation of Planets; Vulcan ship; Wadi; Wadi ship; wager; waiter
Deleted scene references
- "Move Along Home" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Move Along Home" at Wikipedia
- "Move Along Home" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Move Along Home" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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