(written from a Production point of view)
The Defiant receives a distress call from a Starfleet captain stranded on an inhospitable planet.
On Deep Space 9, Odo is busy with one of his favorite activities… making Quark's life a misery, this time over some new barstools residing in Quark's. With Jake Sisko watching, Quark tries to reason with Odo, but naturally the shapeshifter isn't very receptive and orders them removed immediately, citing them as a danger to public safety. He then turns his attention to the dabo wheel, however then Major Kira Nerys walks in asking him if he fancies lunch at the Klingon restaurant on the Promenade. Odo, having suddenly transformed from the hard-nosed policeman to the attentive lover, forgets all about Quark and happily leaves with her. This hasn't gone unnoticed by Quark, who tells Jake that as far as he's concerned, love is a distraction, and a distracted policeman… an opportunity.
Meanwhile the USS Defiant has successfully escorted the PQ-1 convoy to the Vegan system and is on its way home from its long mission with a very tired and irritable crew. Accompanying them on the mission is Kasidy Yates, who was acting as convoy liaison officer for Starfleet Command. She and Benjamin Sisko are discussing the mission (and the large number of reports she's had to fill out for Starfleet) when Doctor Bashir arrives; however, Bashir is too tired to have a conversation with the two. Yates remembers a time when he couldn't keep quiet, and Sisko jokes that he likes him better this way. Yates doesn't like the remark, calling it mean and doesn't believe Sisko when he tells her he's kidding. The awkward moment is interrupted when Worf calls from the bridge telling Captain Sisko that a distress call has been picked up from the Rutharian sector. In the distress call, the crew hear a female Starfleet officer's voice.
- "…and Commander Gatsby's dead too. I didn't see any other escape pods leave before the ship was destroyed so I may be the only survivor. My pod was torn open on impact and the rain is pouring in. I'll take the radio and a survival kit with me, but the environmental suits were damaged in the crash, so I'll have to rough it. This is an L-class world and the atmosphere is barely breathable out there. Repeat, This is a general distress call. I am a citizen of the United Federation of Planets and a Starfleet officer. If you can hear me, please respond. My government will reward you for any assistance you can offer… and most of all, you'll be my personal heroes."
Sisko tells Chief O'Brien to cut off the line, the words weighing heavy on him. The location is six days away at maximum warp, and no other ships are in the area. Despite his weariness, the decision is made; the Defiant will head to the sector. Sisko tells O'Brien to try and establish two-way contact and when he does, to tell the woman that her heroes are on the way.
Later, in main engineering, O'Brien is busy trying to establish the two-way com line and has left the channel open, meaning he can hear the woman (who is now known to be called Lisa) as she talks about her surroundings and plead for help. Bashir arrives to see how O'Brien is getting on. The answer is not well, as he is unable to send the return signal due to the rotating subspace frequency she is transmitting the message on. Bashir then asks O'Brien why he keeps her voice on. O'Brien tells him it doesn't bother him, and that as she's all alone he might as well listen to her even if she doesn't know he is. Also he points out that sometimes it seems that Lisa is talking to him, especially when she talks about her family. O'Brien tells Bashir that she reminds him of his cousin. Bashir decides to leave the two of them alone and O'Brien continues on his work, pausing for a moment as Lisa talks about her seemingly hopeless situation.
On Deep Space 9, Odo has just finished making sure Quark has replaced the bar stools and is about to leave, when Quark asks Odo what he has planned for Saturday, the one-month anniversary of his and Kira's first date. Odo at first thinks that Quark is trying to sell him something, but Quark tells Odo not to involve him and buy something off the Promenade. Quark leaves, and Odo asks Jake jokingly if he'd ever heard anything as ridiculous as a one-month anniversary, but when Jake's expression says that he doesn't find it so ridiculous, Odo suddenly isn't so sure of himself and goes onto the Promenade to find something to buy for Kira. Jake has had enough of observing the situation and asks Quark what's going on. Jake is in the midst of writing a crime novel but has hit a wall, as his characters are not believable and thinks following Quark around and observing his illegal activities would help him out. Quark is at first reluctant, but finally agrees to let Jake in on the plan on the condition that nothing ends up in print or finding its way back to Captain Sisko. Quark then tells Jake that he has his own plans for Saturday night.
O'Brien is still working on the com line with Lisa talking in the background. Kasidy Yates arrives and asks O'Brien if he's uncomfortable with her being on the Defiant, given that she's a civilian and the Defiant is a warship. O'Brien tells her he isn't, and that they've had civilians aboard before. Yates tells him she was worried about that, but before the conversation can go any further, the two suddenly catch on that Lisa is shouting for their attention, as she was able to hear the two talking. O'Brien is able to fully clear up the line, and shouts back that they can hear her. Lisa tells him that, whoever he is, she loves him. O'Brien and Yates smile at Lisa's obvious happiness that her call was picked up.
A short while later, Captain Sisko and Doctor Bashir are present as Lisa tells the crew she is Captain Lisa Cusak, commanding officer of the USS Olympia, which was returning from an eight-year long exploration of the Beta Quadrant when they passed by an unusual energy barrier surrounding a planet. Scanning the planet triggered a reaction which destroyed the ship. Cusak's final memory after giving the order to abandon ship was a console exploding in her face, only to find herself in an escape pod on the planet. Doctor Bashir asks Lisa to confirm she's on an L-Class planet, which she does, and answers his next question by telling him she has been injecting herself with tri-ox to compensate for the excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. After ascertaining her supplies of the drug, he makes her ration it so she will last until the Defiant arrives, but even so it's going to be a close call. Cusak has a request for Captain Sisko: the tri-ox is keeping her awake and she hasn't had anyone to talk to… so Captain Sisko agrees to have an officer stay on the com line at all times. Sisko then decides that he'd better start, and decides to tell her all that's happened in the Alpha Quadrant since she's been gone.
Later in his ready room, Sisko is telling Cusak of the recent developments in the war, and Cusak hates hearing about the Federation's recent struggles. Wishing to change the conversation, Cusak asks Sisko if he's seeing anyone, and he tells her about Yates, but it's clear he's not enjoying the subject, and Cusak notes he sounded happier going on about the war. Cusak starts to tell Sisko about the time she was posted at the Federation embassy on Andor as an attaché and was seeing an Andorian man with the Agricultural Ministry, who kept pointing his antennae at her when she walked past. Sisko can't help but smile as she tells the story in her upbeat manner.
On the station, Odo shows Quark the present he has bought for Kira, and Quark offers Odo the use of a holosuite for the night. Odo at first refuses, but quickly sees Quark's point of view and decides to peruse the programs offered. When he leaves, Quark tells Jake that it seems the constable will be busy the coming Saturday night, and therefore won't be able to watch the airlocks for criminals or illegal merchandise. Quark can get around deputies, but Odo is his biggest obstacle and now that he's going to be out of the way Quark is able to go after a massive deal he's got brewing.
It's Bashir's turn to talk to Cusak, but it's Cusak doing all the talking, as Bashir is so caught up in his work that he gives short and quick answers, clearly not really listening to her. Cusak realizes this and begins to question him on it, when suddenly she tells him she can see something moving in the distance. She gets very scared as it comes closer, and Bashir realizes something is wrong and can only listen as Cusak lets out a scream.
A worried Bashir calls for Cusak and a deep, growling voice tells Bashir that it has eaten her, but what difference did it make as he wasn't really listening to her. Bashir realizes that it was Cusak's way of getting his attention and gives her his sincerest apologies. Agreeing that she is his patient and that he should be listening to her, he puts his work to the side and gives her his full attention; however, Cusak is all talked out, and asks him about his life. He tells her he graduated medical school second in his class. Cusak tells Bashir that he's just talked himself into a situation and it's going to take days to talk himself out.
On Deep Space 9, Quark finalizes the meeting he is due to have with a Nausicaan on the coming Saturday night. Odo arrives having chosen the program (Paris, 1928) he wants for himself and Kira and books the holosuite for Sunday night. Quark is horrified when Odo explains that as his and Kira's first date ended badly he's instead decided to celebrate the anniversary of their first kiss. He happily leaves, and Quark tries furiously to get in touch with his contact to tell him about the change of plans, but it's no use, as the Nausicaan has already changed his com system protocols. Quark is horrified and explains to Jake he has no way to get in touch with contact before he arrives on the station on Saturday and the second he sets foot on board the station Odo will arrest him, and eventually Quark.
Aboard the Defiant, O'Brien is lying on the top bunk bed in his quarters telling Cusak about the growing distance between himself and his friends since the war started, which surprised him as it isn't the first war he's fought in. He can't help but keep a distance, as he thinks that any of them could be gone the next day. Realizing the grim tone of his conversation, he apologizes to Cusak telling her he's meant to be cheering her up, but Cusak tells him it's ok, as he clearly needs to talk to someone about this. The conversation drifts onto their dislike of the notion of a ship's counselor but two agree that as O'Brien can't talk to his friends or his wife about his feelings, then who else is there to talk to. Bashir interrupts, as it's his turn to talk to Cusak. The two warmly bid each other goodnight, and she tells O'Brien to think about what she's said.
Bashir is free to talk to Cusak for the night, as he caught up with all his work that afternoon. Bashir can tell that Cusak is in her usual good mood, but she is forced to correct him as she isn't feeling too well at all. The last tri-ox injection didn't help her, and she is starting to grow weak.
Bashir reports this to Captain Sisko. Cusak is starting to feel the effects of CO2, as the final vial of tri-ox must have been tainted in the crash. Without it, Cusak has less than two days left which is a massive problem as the Defiant is still three days away.
On the bridge, Sisko, Bashir, Worf, and O'Brien discuss the situation. O'Brien tells the captain that while he can increase the ship's speed to warp 9.5 and save almost a day's travel, the problem is the Defiant's structural integrity, as the ship starts to shake itself apart when it goes above warp 9. While the chief can reinforce the structural integrity field to protect the Defiant once it goes to warp 9.5, he needs to take the power from the phaser reserves. Worf strongly advises against it, as the Defiant would be at an extreme disadvantage should they encounter a Dominion ship. Bashir argues that they are a long way from the front lines and the chance of an encounter are extremely low, but Worf feels they shouldn't chance it. Sisko decides to take the risk and orders the power from the phaser reserves transferred to the structural integrity field so the ship can speed up.
Yates arrives on the bridge to see what's happening, and Sisko grows far more tense when he realizes she's there. Sitting in his command chair, He brusquely tells her they're increasing speed and she picks up on his discomfort and leaves, and Sisko can't help but be relieved when she's gone, which leaves him troubled.
Sisko finds himself talking to Cusak about what happened, and by now she is sounding far weaker than before, but she still is full of advice and good humor, and tells Sisko that the problem is that Yates is part of his personal life and the Defiant is part of his professional life and the two can't be mixed regardless of how good she was as convoy liaison officer. She talks about the time she served on a starbase with her sister, and what a nightmare it was, eliciting another smile from him, despite the grim situation. Sisko tells Cusak that he's looking forward to meeting her, and he knows he's not the only person on the ship who feels the same. Cusak tells him it sounds like the whole crew needs some rest.
In one of Deep Space 9's cargo holds, Quark shows Jake the Denevan crystals he was going to sell on Saturday for a lot of latinum and now he won't. He tells Jake that when Odo needed him, when he was pining over Kira when she was seeing Shakaar and didn't know what to do, he was there for him, and yet Odo shows no gratitude and would still love to see him go to prison. The two leave, however, it turns out Odo was listening to the entire conversation and it seems to have had an effect on him.
Saturday night has come and Quark, knowing his contact is about to arrive and start the chain of events that will land Quark on the wrong side of a holding cell within half an hour, has poured a drink for himself and Jake and toasts to failure, despite Jake's objections that he won't drink to that. Quark asks Jake to humor him, and the two clink glasses miserably. Suddenly, Odo and Kira arrive in full period garb, and Odo tells Quark that Kira preferred his suggestion that they celebrate their first date instead of their first kiss. Quark literally cannot believe his luck, and in a shocked state tells Odo the holosuite is still available and gives him the program. The two head to the second level, and Quark and Jake are amazed and pleased at the sudden lucky turn of events. Quark is overjoyed that not only is he going to make money, but he can also be happy in the fact that he beat Odo.
Odo and Kira watch the two leave and head to the Cargo Hold, and Kira can't believe that Odo is willing to let Quark get away with such a serious offense as smuggling Denevan crystals. Odo tells Kira that he owes Quark one… so he'll give him this one, and only this one. Kira tells Odo that every time she thinks she worked him out he surprised her, and asks him where he got the wonderful idea to celebrate their one-month anniversary. Odo tells her that some mysteries are best left unsolved, and two lovers head off to a wonderful evening.
The Defiant arrives at the L-Class planet, and Captain Sisko orders a passive scan of the barrier surrounding it, reminding everyone an active scan is what triggered the Olympia's destruction. Bashir arrives and tells the crew that Cusak has just lost consciousness and the crew only has around 45 minutes to get to her. The scan reports that the planet is surrounded by subspace metreon radiation and O'Brien surmises if the Defiant approaches the barrier, the dilithium matrix will collapse and the ship will certainly be dragged down to the planet and be destroyed.
Beaming through the barrier is out of the question. Because of the nature of the barrier they can't get close enough to use the transporters. While the Defiant can't get close, a shuttlepod could make it, as they don't use dilithium, although the actual chances of a shuttle making it are unlikely. "Unlikely – but not impossible," Bashir says. Sisko decides they have come too far to give up and decides to head down to the planet with Doctor Bashir and Chief O'Brien, and leaves Worf in command.
Shuttlepod Chaffee leaves the Defiant and heads through the barrier. Although the ride is bumpy, the shuttlepod makes it. Scans show no life signs on the surface, but the crash site is found. The shuttle lands and the three head into the nearby cave, and go in the only direction Cusak could have headed.
Bashir calls everyone over, and finds a body of a woman wearing an out-of-date Starfleet uniform clutching a hypospray near a com unit. The crew is confused, as the body lying at their feet has clearly been dead for years, but the age, cause of death and the fact the body is that of a Starfleet captain means it can only be Cusak. The scans from the medical tricorder show she's been dead for over three years. Sisko asks, if Cusak has been dead for three years, then who has the crew been talking to all this time? O'Brien theorizes that the unusual composition of the barrier must have time-shifted Cusak's signal forward in time, and as a result, the return signal was shifted back in time. She was dead long before they ever received her distress signal; they never had a chance to save her.
This leads to the issue of what to do now. O'Brien feels they should bury her, but Sisko disagrees and decides rather than leave her buried in a desolate cave on an isolated planet, they should take Cusak's body back with them so she can have a proper send-off among friends.
The Defiant has returned to the station, and the crew holds an Irish wake for Cusak in the wardroom. Dax explains the concept of a wake to Worf, he comments that it sounds like a very Klingon tradition. Sisko arranges dinner with Yates that night so he can explain his recent behavior. Bashir then speaks to everyone in the room about how much he cared about Cusak despite the fact he didn't know her for very long, and he also tells his friends that despite his manner sometimes that he does care deeply about his friends. Then O'Brien tells everyone that while he never shook her hand or saw her face, Cusak made him laugh and cry, and while she was by herself and he was surrounded by his friends, he felt more alone than she did. He tells everyone that he didn't mean to pull himself away from everyone else, and that he wants his friends in his life, because one day one of them will be gone and the others shouldn't have to mourn alone. Everyone raises their glasses and drinks a toast…
- "To Lisa, and the sweet sound of her voice."
"Chief, I want you to establish a two-way comlink with this woman and when you do tell her – tell her her heroes are on the way."
- - Sisko, to O'Brien
"With Odo out of the way, my biggest problem will be deciding… what to do with all the money I'm gonna make!"
- - Quark, to Jake Sisko
"Please, stay back. No, don't! No!"
"Captain Cusak, can you hear me? Hello? Hello? God."
"Who is this? What have you done?"
"I have eaten her."
"I've eaten her! What difference does it make to you? You weren't even listening to her!"
- - Captain Lisa Cusak impersonates an alien monster to get the attention of Bashir, who, distracted by his work, has been ignoring her
"You're not doomed."
"I feel better already."
- - Bashir talks to Captain Lisa Cusak through the Defiant's com system
"Well… he looks happy."
"He should be… he's about to make his biggest profit of the year."
- - Kira and Odo, about Quark
"The war changed us – pulled us apart… I want my friends in my life, because someday we're going to wake up and we're going to find that someone is missing from this circle. On that day, we're going to mourn, and we shouldn't have to mourn alone."
- - O'Brien
"It's called an Irish wake. It's a way to memorialize death, but celebrate life at the same time."
"What are we supposed to do?"
"Well, drink, sing songs. Laugh, cry, talk about the deceased."
"It sounds… almost Klingon."
- - Jadzia Dax and Worf
"To Lisa and the sweet sound of her voice."
- - O'Brien, raising a glass to the late Captain Lisa Cusak
Story and script
- The working title of this episode was "Voice in the Darkness". (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion - A Series Guide and Script Library)
- Pam Pietroforte's original idea for this episode involved Sisko playing around with a subspace radio and accidentally picking up a transmission from a woman in 1940. Over time, they develop a relationship, although she doesn't know he's from the future, and eventually, they fall in love. As Ronald D. Moore explains, "It became a sweet, interesting story, but none of us could quite get a handle on how to make it work. Sisko already was involved with Kasidy, which complicated it, and we never found a way to do it." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- A deleted or unfilmed portion of Quark and Jake's final scene saw Quark recall events from the past season. In the script, Quark recalls that he "almost made a fortune by overcharging Weyoun during the Dominion occupation", that he "almost made a fortune by helping the Grand Nagus regain his throne" (DS9: "Profit and Lace") and that he "almost found a thousand bricks of gold-pressed latinum, before I realized it was in Morn's stomach" (DS9: "Who Mourns for Morn?"). Quark continues to look negatively back at the recent events of his life, telling Jake "Let me tell you something about "the war" – everyone's had a victory in this conflict except me". Jake pointed out that he rescued his mother Ishka from the Dominion (DS9: "The Magnificent Ferengi"), although Quark retorts that "she promptly destroyed the entire fabric of Ferengi society by letting women wear clothes (DS9: "Profit and Lace"). That's no victory". Quark later tells Jake that he believes he is cursed, saying "I'm cursed. That's what it is. I should change the name of my bar to "Cursed Quark's." I wonder how much it would cost to redo all the signs…" (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion - A Series Guide and Script Library)
- When auditioning women for the role of Lisa Cusak, the producers never actually saw any of the people auditioning, they simply listened to audio recordings of them, and picked Debra Wilson based purely on her voice.
- Director Winrich Kolbe didn't allow Debra Wilson to meet any of the regular cast until after filming was completed. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Terry Farrell's appearance in this episode is very brief as she was given time off by executive producer Ira Steven Behr to attend auditions for new series pilots, having already announced her intention to leave Deep Space Nine. The dialogue about missing old friends was intentionally written to foreshadow her departure. (AOL chat, 1998)
- Director Winrich Kolbe is extremely proud of this episode and what it reveals about the central characters: "How do you see the moon? You see it because something else, the sun, puts out light that illuminates it. And in "The Sound of Her Voice", a voice illuminates the characters on the USS Defiant. They go into themselves and bring out their own problems, their own baggage, and present them to the other person, so we see their reflections. To me, that's fascinating. It was a very deeply psychological show, because the characters don't know the person they're talking to. I wanted them to bare their souls, to have them tell us their inner feelings through this device of talking to an unknown, unseen person." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Ira Behr and Ron Moore were disappointed with how this episode turned out, both feeling that it lacked a strong central crux. According to Behr, "It was an interesting idea. Originally, this woman was going to affect our people and help them figure out their lives, kind of like Vic Fontaine, but that got diluted a bit and never really made it through the script." Similarly, Moore says, "It's ironic, but when we watched the finished episode it seems to us that the twist, that she was back in time, was just thrown in to make the ending different. But that was the core concept of the pitch!" (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Odo mentions to Quark that his first date with Kira was a disappointing experience, but nonetheless they exchanged their first kiss the very next day, describing events seen in "His Way". It is also mentioned that one month has passed since "His Way".
- The Beta Quadrant is mentioned in this episode, one of very few to do so.
- Sisko tells Lisa Cusak that Betazed is still under the Dominion's control.
- This is the only episode to show the Defiant's shuttlebay.
- In O'Brien's speech at the end of this episode, when he says "Someday we're going to wake up and we're going to find that someone's missing from this circle," the camera immediately cuts to Jadzia Dax and Worf, seemingly foreshadowing Dax's death in the very next episode, "Tears of the Prophets".
- The stardate given in Sisko's log and the time lapses mentioned by Cusak and Bashir put the USS Olympia's departure to their mission in the Beta Quadrant around 2363/stardate 40759.5 (roughly three months before Jean-Luc Picard was given command of the USS Enterprise-D at the beginning of Star Trek: The Next Generation) and Cusak's death around 2371 (the year the Dominion was discovered by the Alpha and Beta Quadrants' powers in DS9 Season 3, the Caretaker flung the USS Voyager to the other side of the Galaxy in VOY Season 1 and the USS Enterprise-D's crew saved Veridian IV from destruction, but lost their ship to an attack by the Duras sisters in Star Trek Generations).
- Referenced Rules of Acquisition #285: "No good deed ever goes unpunished". The rule was first given in Legends of the Ferengi.
- The first mention, in a Star Trek episode, of the Andorians' ability to maneuver their antennae, depending on their mood (specifically, their habit of pointing their antennae at another person when angry).
- A very similar premise was explored in the 1996 The Outer Limits episode "Worlds Apart" (which co-starred Robert Ito). The 1982 French animated science fiction film Time Masters also dealt with a similar concept. Another antecedent, although it involved time-shifting of images rather than sounds, is the short story "Light of Other Days" (1966) by Bob Shaw.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 6.13, catalog number VHR 4614, 28 December 1998
- As part of the DS9 Season 6 DVD collection
Links and references
- Avery Brooks as Benjamin Sisko
- Rene Auberjonois as Odo
- Michael Dorn as Worf
- Terry Farrell as Jadzia Dax
- Cirroc Lofton as Jake Sisko
- Colm Meaney as Miles O'Brien
- Armin Shimerman as Quark
- Alexander Siddig as Julian Bashir
- Nana Visitor as Kira Nerys
- Cathy DeBuono as M'Pella
- Mark Allen Shepherd as Morn
- James Lee Stanley as a Bajoran security deputy
- Unknown actor as
1928; 2363; 2371; air; Alpha Quadrant; Andor; Andoria; Andorian; Andorian Agricultural Ministry; Andorian civilian; antenna; artistic expression; attaché; barstool; bedside manner; Beta Quadrant; Betazed; blue; broil; businessman/business partner; cardiopulmonary system; Chaffee; civilian; class L; cliché; convoy; convoy liaison officer; crime novel; Cusak's "attacker"; Cusak's sisters; Cusak's starbase; date; Denevan crystal; deputy; Dominion; Dominion War; Embassy; endangering the public safety; eight-year mission; energy barrier; environmental suit; escape pod; escort duty; exogenic field; Federation; Federation-Cardassian War; freighter; freighter captain; gasping; Gatsby; gigahertz; heart; heresy; holosuite; hypoxia; junior officer; kiss; Klingon; lead character; lung; medical tricorder; metreon; mission report; nightmare; O'Brien, Keiko; O'Brien's cousin; Olympia, USS; paperwork; parent; Paris; power grid; PQ-1; prison; Promenade; puncture; Quark's; R&R; radio; Rules of Acquisition; Rutharian sector; Second Fleet; Shakaar Edon; Starfleet Medical Academy; station regulation; subspace frequency; subspace radio signal; superhuman; survival kit; tri-ox; Vegan system; vertebra; wake; wanted criminal; weep; Yates family
Unused production material
- "The Sound of Her Voice" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "The Sound of Her Voice" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "The Sound of Her Voice" at Wikipedia
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