(written from a Production point of view)
With history itself at stake, Sisko must risk all to see that the Bell Riots reach their inevitable conclusion, even if it means sacrificing his life...
After moving the hostages into the Sanctuary Processing Center, Biddle Coleridge tells his friends to shoot any hostage that moves. Posing as the late Gabriel Bell, Benjamin Sisko takes control of the volatile hostage situation in the Sanctuary District by convincing Coleridge that they need the hostages alive as a bargaining chip. Suddenly, Vin bursts into the room holding a gun. Coleridge is about to shoot him when Sisko tackles Vin against a wall. In the chaos, a shot is accidentally fired and Bashir calms down a frightened Lee. Then, Coleridge wants an access code to the net and initially tries to get it from Vin. Bernardo Calvera agrees to help to calm Coleridge down, just wanting to get home to his wife and two children.
Sisko says they need to block the windows, so he and Bashir start doing so, using benches. Meanwhile, Bashir expresses his concern about Sisko posing as Gabriel Bell because Bell historically died when guards stormed the building. Sisko says that he is not Bell, but everyone will treat him like so. Bashir reminds him that he and Sisko are the only two who know this, however and Sisko pauses to consider this.
Michael Webb arrives and Sisko introduces him to Coleridge. Sisko enlists his help to recruit gimmies, people that he trusts to guard the hostages and to watch over the volatile ghosts as well. Meanwhile, Jadzia Dax sees news coverage of the event at Chris Brynner's apartment and realizes that she must get into the District to help save Sisko and Bashir, despite Brynner's insistence that she could be hurt.
On the USS Defiant, Kira Nerys and Miles O'Brien have narrowed the possible time periods to 10 possibilities but due to the limited number of chroniton particles they have a finite number of trips they can take, not enough to cover all of the possible timeframes. Kira feels ridiculous that she has to wear a bandage on her nose to disguise her Bajoran heritage, and O'Brien advises her to say nothing and let him do all the talking. On their first attempt, they materialize in 1930 and can find no evidence of the team's presence. Before they can leave, they run into a couple leaving a party who looks at them and then runs off.
Coleridge is outraged that gimmies are guarding the hostages, but Sisko emphasizes the importance of having people they can trust. Coleridge tells Sisko and Webb that he intends to trade the hostages for freedom – amnesty, credit chips and the ability to go anywhere they want. Coleridge wants to go to Tasmania, the birthplace of Errol Flynn. However, Sisko says that they must think of the other 10,000 people in the sanctuary as well and that they would not make it far before they were caught. Webb supports Sisko and they agree to campaign for the closure of Sanctuary districts, jobs for the residents and the reinstatement of the Federal Employment Act.
Sisko convinces Webb to act as a representative of the District to speak to the outside world, since he sees him as a relatable person that can't be dismissed as easily as he or Coleridge. As they try to get their position across, though, their connection is broken by the police as per department policy in these situations. However, Detective Preston, a police negotiator from the SFPD, contacts them. First, she asks to see the hostages. Coleridge immediately drags Lee to the screen and threatens Preston, revealing the instability of the situation.
Preston calmly asks to talk to Webb again, and so he gently pushes Coleridge and Sisko leads him away. She offers to meet in person by the main gate. Sisko accompanies Webb to the meeting and states their demands. Preston agrees to relay them to Governor Robert Chen and also agrees to do her best to supply the residents with breakfast.
Bashir finds out that Lee is hypoglycemic and offers to help her find treatment. Lee realizes that Sisko (posing as Bell) initially gave her a false name and Bashir explains that "Bell" had run into some trouble a while back. Lee reveals that she processed a woman with a warrant on her for abandoning her child because she could not take care of him and left him with a family she worked for. Lee felt sorry for her and did not log her into the system which would have alerted the police, instead letting her disappear into the Sanctuary. Lee's supervisor almost fired her when the incident was revealed. Lee does not know what happened to the woman but she thinks about her all the time. Bashir explains that it's not her fault the way things are. Lee says that everyone says that but nothing ever changes.
Later, while most of the guards are sleeping, Vin gets up and almost gets his hands on a weapon when Coleridge alerts everyone and holds a gun to him. However, Sisko intervenes by pointing his shotgun towards Coleridge and prepares to shoot him, determined not to let the hostages die.
Coleridge sees that Sisko is serious and puts his gun down. Sisko takes Vin aside and threatens him not to do anything stupid again, but he is unmoved. Vin asks him to let the hostages go. Sisko impatiently says that Vin and the others who work at the Sanctuary just don't get it – even though they work here and see the injustices suffered by the people every day. It would be a start for Vin and the others just to acknowledge what is going on.
Meanwhile, on another attempt to find Sisko and the others, Kira and O'Brien end up in 1967 surrounded by a flowered Combi van and loud rock music. Two stoned hippies come out of the van and give flowers and a peace sign to a perplexed Kira and O'Brien, who then awkwardly give back the sign. Just then, they are transported away and the male hippie simply says "wow".
True to her promise, Preston has supplied muffins and fruit juice for the residents, and Sisko makes sure Coleridge shares. Danny comes inside to find his father to be with him. Webb agrees he can stay for a while but says that Danny must go when he says so without question. Meanwhile, Bashir has managed to find some glucogen in the clinic and provides treatment for Lee. Bashir also tells Calvera (who is worried about his family) that something good will eventually come from all of this.
A short time later, Preston returns with the Governor's response: he'll reduce the charges against Bell and Webb to incitement to riot if they release the hostages. Sisko and Webb ask whether the Sanctuary will be closed and jobs offered and Preston says the Governor intends to form a committee to look into the matter and that change takes time. They both reject this offer.
Dax manages to find her way into the Sanctuary District through some underground pipes through the sanitation department. Soon, some dims alert her presence to those at the processing center and, in the process, her combadge is stolen by one of them named Grady. Meanwhile, Sisko and Bashir try to get past the lockout to the Net without luck. In the previous past, a way was somehow found to get past this lockout and many people were able to tell their stories to the world. Bell must have found a way, so now they must do the same. Coleridge then brings Dax inside, and she is reunited with Sisko and Bashir.
Sisko and Bashir explain that they can not leave because history must be allowed to run its course. He initially orders Bashir and Dax to head to a beam-out location using Dax's combadge, however, Dax says she can get help to circumvent the lockout. Dax successfully recovers her combadge from Grady with Bashir's help and heads back through the sewer.
Dax returns to Chris Brynner for his help. He initially has doubts about helping the residents as he would lose his interface operating license for turning the channel over to criminals. Dax responds that Brynner would be giving the residents a voice, and people have the right to know their situation. When the Government storms in, the Sanctuary residents will die and those deaths should not be for nothing. Brynner agrees to help restore the processing center's computer link because, although he will lose his license, he will get great ratings. Once this is done, the residents are given the chance to tell their stories to millions around the planet through the network.
Unfortunately, despite pleas from Preston, the governor is unmoved by their plight and orders to send in troops at 0500.
Kira and O'Brien return to the Defiant from the year 2048. They realize that the team arrived before then as it was drastically different to the 2048 of unaltered time. Using this information, they narrow the possibilities down to 3 dates, but have only enough chroniton particles for one more attempt. O'Brien makes a guess and they materialize at the corner of Polk Street and California Street. They realize they hit the correct time period when O'Brien detects a residual electrostatic charge and Kira contacts Dax on her combadge. They make arrangements to rendezvous and deactivate their combadges so the Defiant will not recover them until the next day.
In the meantime, the hostages are calmer and talking sports when Coleridge reports movement outside. Sisko and Webb try to keep the hostages safe as SWAT teams move in without regard to their lives. Webb sends away Danny and Coleridge gives Danny his hat. Soon, the troops barge in and open fire. Coleridge and Webb are killed along with a number of others while Sisko takes a bullet protecting Vin, who is trying to stop the shooting. The lead SWAT team member calls the area secure. Vin berates them, as they were reckless. The SWAT team give Vin and Calvera weapons while they go to secure other areas. Bashir examines Sisko and, fortunately, he will live. Sisko pulls Vin in and berates him for not staying low, but Vin understands, finally trusting his motives.
Vin and Calvera lead the group outside, and are shocked by the bodies lying on the street outside. As the National Guard takes control of the situation, the grateful Vin allows Sisko and Bashir to escape by switching their ID cards with two of the dead. So it appears, as before, that Gabriel Bell died while trying to save the hostages. As he leaves, Sisko asks Vin to tell everyone the truth about the incident. Vin responds that he had planned to anyway.
Soon Sisko, Dax and Bashir are returned to the 24th century with history now having following its correct course. As Sisko recovers from his gunshot wound in his quarters on the Defiant, Bashir visits and shows him one unexpected consequence of their visit to the past... Federation historical records which now show Benjamin's portrait in an entry regarding Gabriel Bell. Julian asks him, from having seen the 21st century, how the people of that time could have let things get so bad. Sisko tells him "That's a good question. I wish I had an answer."
"It's not your fault things are the way they are."
"Everybody tells themselves that. And nothing ever changes."
- - Julian Bashir and Lee
"This is great! We're on every channel. I bet they're watching this in China!"
- - B.C., on the news coverage of the riots
"I knew this was a waste of time. They don't care. No one cares about us."
"Why should they? You're all a bunch of losers."
"What did you say?'"
"He didn't say anything."
"You heard me. I called you a loser because that's what you are. And this time, you're going to lose big."
- - B.C., Vin and Bernardo
"You really going to shoot me, Bell? I don't think so."
"I thought we were on the same side here!"
"We are, but you get on my nerves... and I don't like your hat."
- - B.C. and Benjamin Sisko as Gabriel Bell
"You don't know what any of this is about, do you?! You work here, you see these people every day, how they live, and you just don't get it!"
"What do you want me to say? That I feel for them? That they got a bad break? What good would it do?"
"It'd be a start! Now, you get back in that room and you shut up!"
- - Benjamin Sisko, as Gabriel Bell, and Vin
- - Hippie guy, after witnessing O'Brien and Kira beam up
"Woosh! I'm invisible."
"If you say so."
"You can see me?"
- - Grady, Jadzia Dax, and Julian Bashir
"I'm a hostage, you idiot!"
- - SWAT officer and Vin
"You know, Commander, having seen a little of the 21st century, there is one thing I don't understand: how could they have let things get so bad?"
"That's a good question. I wish I had an answer."
- - final lines, spoken by Julian Bashir and Benjamin Sisko
Story and script
- According to Ira Steven Behr, the presentation of the character of B.C. in this episode is the key to the overriding theme. Whereas B.C. cold-bloodedly kills Gabriel Bell in "Past Tense, Part I", it is never mentioned in this episode that he is a murderer. The reason for this, according to Behr, is that B.C. would never have killed Bell if society hadn't forced him into that position. B.C. was not inherently a killer, and Behr was determined that the episode not become all about Sisko and Bashir trapped with a cold-blooded murderer. In the writing of the episode, Behr wanted to use the character of B.C. to illustrate the notion that "if you treat people like animals, they become animals. If B.C. had not been homeless, what would he have been? We created his backstory, stuff that would never appear on the screen, and decided he probably would have been a garage mechanic or something. Even though he's obviously a threatening, scary character, and he's on-the-edge-crazy all through both shows, we didn't define him as a murderer." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
Cast and characters
- Clint Howard, who plays Grady in this episode, earlier portrayed Balok in The Original Series episode "The Corbomite Maneuver". However, the character of Grady was actually written for Iggy Pop, who turned out to be unavailable at the time. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Alexander Siddig felt that both "Past Tense, Part I" and "Past Tense, Part II" were important shows for Bashir. "This show was the end of the old Bashir and the beginning of the new, more responsible Bashir," he remarked. "Bashir had proved to everyone and himself that he can handle very tricky situations with almost no backup and no gizmos, not even the shotgun Sisko had. It became conceivable that Bashir would be your first or second choice on an away team if you were going on a combat mission. I think they were a renaissance pair of shows for Bashir." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- About a year after having appeared in this episode, Colm Meaney commented, "The two-part episode last year with the homeless I thought was just superb [….] To find a show on popular TV where you can do work like that is extraordinary!" ("Mr. Goodwrench", Star Trek: Communicator issue 105, p. 20)
- Armin Shimerman (Quark) and Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko) do not appear in this episode.
- The boxing advertisement visible in the 1930 scene with Kira and O'Brien showcases the same boxers as an advertisement that can be seen in The Original Series episode "The City on the Edge of Forever". (The ad from "The City on the Edge of Forever" is for a bout at Madison Square Garden; the ad in this episode is for a bout at Bay Land Garden, and notes that it is "their first rematch since Madison Square Garden," though Alexander Siddig, in Deep Space Nine Chronicles, incorrectly referred to them as the same poster.) The reason this poster was used was to give a subtle hint that O'Brien and Kira were on Earth at exactly the same time as Kirk and Spock. (Deep Space Nine Chronicles)
- Doug Drexler said that the poster was included because, while he was reading the script, he realized the scene (featuring "time travelers popping into an urban setting") was almost identical to one in "The City on the Edge of Forever". He excitedly relayed this observation to Michael Okuda and they realized a reproduction boxing poster could be inserted into the DS9 scene. "We thought the poster could blend in seamlessly," noted Okuda. (Star Trek - Where No One Has Gone Before, paperback ed., p. 193)
- Because time was always at a premium during preproduction, the easiness with which the poster could be fabricated was yet another reason it was included. Doug Drexler already had the appropriate reference on hand – an image he had discovered in an old magazine – and simply redrew the design on his computer, then had the poster fabricated at Paramount's sign shop. (Star Trek - Where No One Has Gone Before, paperback ed., p. 193)
- The advertisement that can be seen in the sixties scene advertises a band called "Berman's Rainbow Dreamers" at the Behr Theater. This poster was designed by Jim Martin. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, pp. 201-202)
- Third-time director Jonathan Frakes was given the assignment to direct this episode by random selection, the typical process for directors being assigned to direct episodes of the series. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages p. 90) Unbeknownst to the art department at the time, Frakes went on to film the boxing poster extensively while shooting the relevant scene. (Star Trek - Where No One Has Gone Before, paperback ed., p. 193) Doug Drexler reckoned, "I don't think he realized its significance." (Star Trek - Where No One Has Gone Before, paperback ed., p. 193)
- David Bell composed the music for the episode. Bell commented, "Well, Dennis [McCarthy] had done part one, and in that case I looked at the score he had done and used a similar harmonic vocabulary, the same chords and orchestrations, and that was fun because I've listened to Dennis's scores and tried to emulate them and I've never really done that before, to get a close look at another composer's mind. Dennis has quite a mind, by the way!" (The Music of Star Trek, p. 191)
- Jonathan Frakes commented, "That was an epic, truly an epic. That was the best DS9 episode that I got and that was Ira Behr [….] This was great." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages p. 90)
- The audience reaction to this episode was, at least in Colm Meaney's opinion, extremely positive. He noted, "The response to that from all the people involved in homeless social action was extraordinary!" ("Mr. Goodwrench", Star Trek: Communicator issue 105, p. 20)
- However, when the episode aired, it received some criticism for being too preachy, liberal and "soap box like", something which disappointed Ira Steven Behr, who felt that the show had important things to say and that it treated a serious situation in a realistic manner; "We're not going to solve anything with two hours of TV. The homeless are still there. The problem hasn't gone away. But maybe just one person saw this and started to see the problem in a different way [….] I just thought it was important to show the other side." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion) Behr also commented that (several months after the two-parter aired), "People are still even writing that we only presented 'one side' in 'Past Tense' and that we should have presented 'both sides' and not just the 'liberal' point of view – and I'm still trying to think what that means. In other words, we should have showed the positive aspects of putting the homeless into concentration camps? And I do admit we probably failed in that – we really did not show the many, many wonderful aspects of life without money and living in over-crowded camps." ("The Behr Necessities", Star Trek Monthly issue 12) On the other hand, Behr was especially proud of the B.C. character. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- The DS9 art department was thrilled to see how extensively this episode, thanks to Jonathan Frakes, shows the reproduction boxing poster. "When we saw the way he'd shot it, we were laughing," recalled Doug Drexler. "It was so great!" (Star Trek - Where No One Has Gone Before, paperback ed., p. 193)
- Ira Steven Behr eventually got to cast Iggy Pop in the sixth season episode "The Magnificent Ferengi". (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- "Past Tense, Part II" was Jonathan Frakes' final DS9 directing credit. It was his direction of this episode which secured him the job of directing Star Trek: First Contact. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- A script for this episode was sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay. 
- The song which is audible when Kira and O'Brien are transported to the 1960s is "Hey Joe", played by The Jimi Hendrix Experience.
- The events of this episode take place over approximately three days.
- This is the second of only four DS9 episodes not to feature any scenes set on Deep Space 9, with the exception of the regular opening credits. The others are "Past Tense, Part I", "Paradise Lost", and "Children of Time".
- This was the first Star Trek production since Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, in 1986, to feature scenes set in the 20th century.
- The civilian clothes that Miles O'Brien and Kira Nerys wear during their various travels through time are the same clothes they wore during their mission to Cardassia IV to rescue Li Nalas in DS9: "The Homecoming".
- This episode was the last to air before the premiere of Star Trek: Voyager on 16 January 1995.
- This was the last of twelve DS9 episodes, the first being "The Search, Part I", that premiered without another Star Trek series also on the air. All episodes of DS9 before "The Search, Part I" and after this premiered while another Star Trek series was also running (before "The Search, Part I", The Next Generation; after this episode, Voyager).
- After Sisko tackles Vin to the ground, B.C. is impressed and, in reference to baseball, says that he'd hate to be a catcher seeing Sisko barreling towards home plate. At the time this episode aired, plate collisions were still a fairly common occurrence and were among the most violent plays in baseball. In real life, plate blocking rules in baseball were changed for safety reasons in 2014 and home plate collisions are banned in nearly every circumstance.
- Sisko discusses the London Kings and Buck Bokai with Vin, played by Dick Miller. Both the player and the team were first mentioned during Miller's first Star Trek appearance, in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Big Goodbye".
- In this episode, aired in 1995, Sisko states that the 2015 London Kings were the greatest team in baseball history. Vin claims it was the 1999 New York Yankees; in reality, the Yankees did indeed win the World Series in 1999, but the Yankees team of the previous year won sixteen more games and has been often called one of the greatest teams ever. The accuracy of the prediction is surprising given that, while the Yankees were clearly a team on the rise in early 1995, there was little to suggest that the team would go on to dominate the latter half of the 1990s the way they did. Incidentally, the real-life winner of the 2015 World Series were the Kansas City Royals, a team with a similar mascot, logo, and primary color to the fictional London Kings.
- The official Star Trek Chronology states that the two years to which O'Brien and Kira travel back in time, in the hope of finding the others, are 1930 and 1967.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 3.6, 24 April 1995
- As part of the DS9 Season 3 DVD collection
Links and references
- Avery Brooks as Commander Benjamin Sisko / Gabriel Bell
- Rene Auberjonois as Constable Odo
- Terry Farrell as Lieutenant Jadzia Dax
- Colm Meaney as Chief Miles O'Brien
- Alexander Siddig as Doctor Julian Bashir
- Nana Visitor as Major Kira Nerys
- Jim Metzler as Chris Brynner
- Frank Military as B.C.
- Dick Miller as Vin
- Deborah Van Valkenburgh as Preston
- Al Rodrigo as Bernardo Calvera
- Clint Howard as Grady
- Richard Lee Jackson as Danny Webb
- Tina Lifford as Lee
- Majel Barrett as the narrator (voice)
- Mark Riccardi as a "Ghost"
- Unknown performers as
- Ivor Bartels as stand-in for Siddig El Fadil
- John Lendale Bennett as stand-in for Avery Brooks
- Steve Giralo as stand-in for Dick Miller
alternate timeline; American history; amnesty; anarchist; automobile; Bajoran; barricade; baseball; battalion; Bay Land Garden; Bell Riots; Blue Zone; Bokai, Buck; Burke, Helen; brewery; California; California Street; catcher; cellular phone; Channel 90; Chen, Robert; ChemTech Industries; China; chocolate; chroniton particles; combadge; concussion bomb; corner; credit chip; criminal record; Defiant, USS; DefTech 37 mm launcher; detective; dim; distress signal; District Police; doctor; Earth; e-mail; electrostatic charge (electrostatic variance); Enfield L85A1; Federal Employment Act; fired; Flynn, Errol; football; gesture; ghost; gimmie; glucagon; governor; guest list; Heckler & Koch MP5; helicopter; Jimi Hendrix Experience, The (Jimi Hendrix); Hess, Julie; "Hey Joe"; historical database; home plate;hypoglycemia; Identification card; incitement to riot; interface; interface operating license; interface terminal; jazz; jeans; London Kings; M35 series 2.5 ton cargo truck; Marina; National Guard; net; New York Yankees; Packard Custom Eight Roadster; penthouse; Peterson family; plant manager; police department; Polk Street; Processing Center; quadcycle; ration card; Red Zone; Remington Model 870; riot; San Francisco; Sanctuary District; Sanctuary District A; sanitation department; SFPD; Second Street; sewer; shirt; shotgun; silk; Singapore; slang; sniper; soccer; speakeasy; Starfleet Command; SWAT; tackle; Tasmania; temporal displacement; tennis; time travel; Trill; truck; United States of America; van; Volkswagen Type 2; V sign; Webb, Jeannie
- Boxing poster: Bailey, Will; Bay Land Garden; Delaney, Charley; Gaines, Winky; Kanel, Killer; Madison Square Garden; Magoo, Muggs; Mason, Mike; Mason, Mickey; McCook, Kid; Prado, Manuel; South Lombard Street; Vido, Sailor
- Music poster: Behr Theater; Berman's Rainbow Dreamers
- "Past Tense, Part II" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Past Tense" at Wikipedia
- "Past Tense, Part II" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
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