After a freak accident in the engine room of the Defiant apparently claims the life of Benjamin Sisko, Jake lives out his life in an endless quest to locate his father.
On Earth, in a house on the Louisiana bayou near New Orleans. It is dark and stormy outside as an elderly Jake Sisko sits down in front of a fire. Soon, there comes a knock at the door and Jake answers, revealing a young woman, Melanie, looking for refuge from the downpour. After a few minutes of idle conversation the visitor reveals that she, in fact, is a writer and is looking for the writer Jake Sisko. Confirming that Jake is who she is talking to, she cuts to the chase and asks, very promptly, why he stopped writing.
Taking a moment, Jake responds that he stopped writing, not because of any reason or recourse, but because of an event that happened to him when he was eighteen years old. His father, Benjamin Sisko had died. Apparently, when Jake was younger in the year 2372 (sometime after Stardate 49011.4) he lived on space station Deep Space 9, where his father was the captain. In a rare event that happens only every fifty years, the Bajoran wormhole was going to undergo an "inversion." During this inversion, rare anomalies and temporal fluctuations were going to occur, creating a spectacle that the elder Sisko did not want to miss.
Jake was working on a particularly difficult piece of prose at this time and was struggling with it when his father asked him to come along on the USS Defiant to watch. When the wormhole began inverting, it caused a malfunction on the Defiant's engineering deck, and Benjamin went to see to it, followed by Jake, despite his having being asked to stay behind by his father. The warp core began to go critical from an energy flux. Benjamin Sisko was able to stop the core from rupturing, but as he passed a piece of equipment to his son, the warp core emitted an energy discharge. Jake was pushed out of the way; however he witnessed his father's disappearance, and Benjamin was presumed dead.Following this, the Bajorans mourned the loss of the Emissary of the Prophets. At the service, many people spoke of Captain Sisko, but Jake felt he could not. Jake began living with Dax, and everyone did their best to console Jake, even to the point where Quark allowed Nog time off from the bar to spend time with him. However, one night as Jake lay in bed, there was a flash of light. Jake turned around, and saw his father sitting in a nearby chair. A few seconds later, he disappeared again. Jake tried to explain what had happened to Dax, who agreed to scan for any anomalies, however the scan turned up nothing, and Jake dismissed it as a dream.
Meanwhile, the Klingons were making more angry noises and the Bajorans, unsettled by the death of their Emissary, entered into a defense pact with the Cardassians. The Klingons were very unhappy at this and everyone knew that if war broke out, Deep Space 9 would be on the front lines. As a result, the majority of the civilian population left the station. Nog had left to attend Starfleet Academy, and Jake found himself feeling more despondent that ever. Kira and Worf tried to persuade Jake to leave, telling him it was the safest thing to do but he outright refused. Later, at the upper pylon viewport, Kira approached Jake and told him that she knew his grandfather had asked him to live with him on Earth, and that even if Deep Space 9 wasn't on the brink of war, she'd rather he wasn't on the station. Jake told her that the reason he was staying was because that when he and his father arrived, the station was a damaged hulk but Sisko turned it into a thriving community and Jake explained that if he left the station he'd feel like leaving the last part of his father behind. Kira allowed him to stay on the condition that when she tells him to leave, he will. He agreed.
A few months later, Jake found his father in a hallway on DS9 and was physically able to touch him. Taking him immediately to the infirmary, they discovered that Ben was caught in a temporal inversion, falling in and out of sync with normal time and disappearing into subspace, unaware of the passage of time. Despite everyone's frantic attempt to save him, Ben began to disappear into subspace. Seeing the devastation in his son's face, Ben begged his son to reassure him he would be all right but Jake was too upset to answer. Ben vanished, and Jake was left more upset than ever.
Eventually, the situation with the Klingons escalated and Starfleet was forced to turn over DS9 to them. Jake had no choice to leave and could only watch the station disappear into the distance as they left. With no choice but to carry on, Jake moved back to Earth, went to the Pennington School and began writing. Afterward he moved to Louisiana and married a Bajoran woman named Korena and all was well when they met up with Nog, now a Starfleet commander. The Klingons were beginning to let Starfleet ships through the wormhole into the Gamma Quadrant, to see how the Dominion would handle ships coming into their space again. The three met up to celebrate Jake winning a prestigious writing award for his collected stories, and Jake seemed happy and settled.
One night, Jake was up late working on his newest novel and was discussing allowing Korena, an artist, to design the cover, when suddenly the familiar flash of light came from the living room. Jake and Korena entered to find Ben lying on the couch. Starfleet Science was immediately called, and Ben was eager to find out how his son was doing. He was delighted to find that Jake was married and had published two books, achieving his ambition. However, Jake began to get upset at everything his father had missed out on and that he had given up on him, but Ben told Jake that nobody could be expected to hold on for so long, and that he was proud of him and that even though he wasn't there, he still wanted grandchildren. Suddenly he vanished again, and Jake was once again distraught.
Jake stopped writing, and began studying subspace mechanics in an attempt to get his father back. Korena was initially patient; eventually, however, Jake's obsession cost him his wife. But Jake wouldn't let this stop him, and he realized he could get Ben back by recreating the accident. By this time, fifty years had passed and Jake hoped that because the Bajoran wormhole would be inverting again, he could grab his father and get him back into sync with his own life. Nog, now a captain, got the Defiant out of retirement and the crew, including Dax and Bashir, went to recreate the accident. However instead of bringing Ben back, Jake was pulled into subspace where he encountered his father.
Ben was again eager to find out how his son was doing, but was horrified to find Jake lost his wife and abandoned his promising career in order to try and rescue him. Ben pleaded with his son to get back to writing and to live his life properly, telling him that he shouldn't abandon his future for him. Eventually, Jake was pulled back from subspace.
Back in the present, Melanie asked why he didn't go back to writing, and Jake revealed that he had. He said that there wasn't enough time left for him, and that he was dying. Now morning, the woman left and promised to enjoy life, and Jake smiled, resting in an old chair before falling asleep.
Waking the next morning, Jake opened his eyes to find his father observing him. Ben told Jake how happy he was that he got back to writing. Jake asked Ben to read the dedication:
"To my father, who's coming home."
Ben was touched, but Jake explained further. He explained that he was the link that kept pulling Ben back into normal space; the sync was like a rubber band. He was the anchor for his father. Sometimes the band would be pulled taut, and during those times before the tension was released, Ben would temporarily rejoin his timeline, but he pulled away again once it snapped back. Once Jake died, Ben would be lost in subspace forever. The only way to save him was to cut the cord at the time it was most taut, when he was in perfect sync with Jake's timeline. If he did so, Benjamin would be shot back to the time of the incident and he could jump out of the way before he got caught in the loop. Benjamin realized that Jake had taken poison, and was committing suicide. Ben was horrified, and pleaded with his son not to do it, but Jake explained he had to. By doing this, he was saving two lives, those of Ben and the boy Jake was. Ben was devastated and watched his son die in front of him.
Ben suddenly found himself back in the Defiant engine room, just after he saved the ship. This time he was able to dodge the energy discharge from the warp core. Jake was puzzled how his dad knew to get out of the way, but Ben, having seen how much his son was willing to give up in order to save him, could only hug him knowing they now both had a second chance.
"You are my favorite author of all time."
"You should read more."
- - Melanie and the adult Jake Sisko
"It begins many years ago. I was eighteen. And the worst thing that could happen to a young man happened to me. My father died."
- - the adult Jake Sisko
"I'm no writer; but if I were, it seems to me I'd want to poke my head up every once in a while and take a look around; see what's going on. It's life, Jake! You can miss it if you don't open your eyes."
- - Benjamin Sisko
"I'm not sure I could ever get over losing somebody like that; right in front of my eyes."
"People do. Time passes, and they realize that the person they lost is really gone... And they heal."
"Is that what happened to you?"
"No... I suppose not."
- - Melanie and adult Jake Sisko
"Benjamin Sisko was more than my commanding officer; he was the emissary to my people sent by the prophets. But most importantly, he was my friend."
- - Kira Nerys, at the memorial for Benjamin Sisko
"I didn't step forward. I couldn't. I felt that no matter what I said about him, I'd be leaving so much more out; and that didn't seem right."
- - Adult Jake Sisko, to Melanie
"After a few months, things began returning to normal... for everybody else that is."
- - Adult Jake Sisko, to Melanie
"Please don't make me leave; not yet. This is my home. When my dad and I came here, this place was just an abandoned shell. He turned it into something. Everywhere I look, it's like I see a part of him. If I leave, I won't have anything left of him.
- - Jake Sisko, responding to Kira's request that he leave the station
"I have been more popular with the ladies since I stopped asking them that." (In reference to have women chew his food for him)
- - Nog, to Jake as adults
"Quark finally got that little moon he was always talking about, and my father, as usual, is making sure it doesn't fall out of orbit."
- - Nog, to Jake as adults
"And don't think because I'm not around much, that I don't want grandchildren."
- - Benjamin Sisko, to Jake just before disappearing
"Let go, Jake. If not for yourself, then for me. You still have time to make a better life for yourself. Promise me you'll do that... Promise me!"
- - Benjamin Sisko, imploring Jake to let him go
"To my father, who's coming home."
- - Benjamin Sisko, reading the dedication in Jake's last book
"For you, and for the boy that I was. He needs you more than you know. Don't you see? We're going to get a second... chance."
- - Jake Sisko, explaining himself to his father with his last words
"You OK, Dad?"
"I am now, Jake. I am now."
- - Jake Sisko, after Benjamin avoids the accident (last lines)
Story and script
- Writer Michael Taylor based the concept of a fan visiting a reclusive writer who hasn't published in years on the famous 1980 interview given by J. D. Salinger to a high school student who simply turned up at his door. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Rene Echevarria did an uncredited rewrite of this episode.
- O'Brien was to also appear in the scenes set in the future, although Colm Meaney was unavailable. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages p 106)
- Although this episode aired the week before "Hippocratic Oath", it was actually filmed after it. The reason for this was that after "The Way of the Warrior" wrapped, the next episode scheduled to go into production was "The Visitor", to be directed by Rene Auberjonois, followed by "Hippocratic Oath" to be directed by David Livingston. However, a last minute change in Colm Meaney's film schedule meant that "Hippocratic Oath" now had to be shot first so that Meaney was available. As such, the episodes switched position in the production schedule. It is worth noting however that although the episodes switched weeks, the directors didn't, so Livingston ended up directing this episode and Auberjonois directed "Hippocratic Oath". (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Kira wears a new uniform from this episode onward. The shoulder pads of the old uniform have been reduced and the neck opened. The color is also a little darker and Kira now wears high heels. According to costume designer Robert Blackman the new outfit was "more body conscious". However, although actress Nana Visitor loved it, it wasn't popular among all of the fans, and it gave rise to an Internet campaign to return to the old uniform for fear that this one was an effort to turn Kira into a "Baywatch babe." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- The music of the "The Visitor" was composed by Dennis McCarthy. Parts of the score form part of the first volume of The Best of Star Trek soundtrack.
- Illustrator John Eaves based the design for Jake's house on the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland. (Deep Space Nine Sketchbook: John Eaves, DS9 Season 4 DVD special features)
- Tony Todd also portrayed Kurn later in the fourth season in "Sons of Mogh". Todd commented "I really felt blessed that I was able to do two different roles on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine this year which may or may not be a small feat". (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Official Poster Magazine, issue 13)
- According to most of the staff on the show, this was one of the best Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episodes they worked on. Avery Brooks and Cirroc Lofton cite this as one of their favorite episodes, along with "Far Beyond the Stars". Director David Livingston says simply, ""The Visitor" is the best piece of material I've ever been able to direct, in terms of the script." (Hidden File 05, DS9 Season 4 DVD special features) Ira Steven Behr says, ""The Visitor" was that certain kind of Star Trek episode that really appealed very strongly to certain people. It's a whole heart-on-the-sleeve, sentimental, emotional, personal story." Similarly, producer Steve Oster enthuses, "It was wonderfully written, wonderfully performed. But I think everyone was surprised at the audience reaction. No one expected it to have the emotional impact that it did." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Many fans of Deep Space Nine have also counted this among their favorite episodes; in a 1996 issue of TV Guide, it was voted the best Star Trek show ever. TV Guide called this result a "shocker", surprised that "the least popular incarnation of Star Trek has produced the most popular show". (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion) According to Wikipedia, a similar poll conducted in 2004 saw the episode slip to 4th place. By 2007, it slipped to the sixth highest rated episode. 
- Avery Brooks sees this episode as an important milestone in the manner in which American TV depicts non-white families. Speaking of the relationship between Sisko and his son Jake, Brooks says "I'm glad that relationship is there. It is, even in the most naive mind, a sin of omission that we have not looked at this side of people raising their children in other television shows, and having some cultural resonance other than that of white Americans. It's something that we have to see more often, the relationship of a brown man and his son. Because historically, that's not how it began in this country for brown families who didn't have the freedom of their own will and volition, let alone the ability to hold their families together." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Ira Steven Behr particularly liked the way this episode deals with love, a love that spans a lifetime, because it is not a romantic love, but a filial love, which is not something that is seen as much as romance; "A love stronger than death. Usually that's romantic love, but for this show, this series, we chose the love between a father and son. And it worked like gangbusters. Everyone could relate to it." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Reviewing the first part of the fourth season, Rick Berman commented "Our second episode 'The Visitor', was a warm and sweet episode while still having a great science fiction premise. I believe it will remain a very strong Star Trek episode for years to come". ("Star Trek Update with Rick Berman", Star Trek Communicator issue 105 p. 12)
- After this episode aired, there was much online speculation that writer Michael Taylor must have been a pseudonym for Michael Piller and Jeri Taylor. Both were known for writing emotionally driven stories with a lot of heart, but no one had ever heard of freelancer Michael Taylor, and some fans assumed that the producers were playing a joke on them. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Cinefantastique ranked "The Visitor" as the third best episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 32, No. 4/5, p. 97-98)
- Rachel Robinson, who played old Jake's visitor, is Andrew Robinson's daughter.
- Jake began writing Anslem, under Onaya's influence later in the season, in "The Muse".
- It is interesting to note that the Dominion War did not happen (as of the 2390s anyway) in the alternate timeline. Nog states that "I think they (the Klingons) were happy to have us test the waters in the Gamma Quadrant after all these years – find out how the Dominion would react to ships coming through." This also accounts for the appearance of an elderly Jadzia Dax in the future, as her death had not been planned at the time.
- The shot in the upper pylon, with Jake staring out into space, and Kira approaching him from behind to comfort him, seems to predict the very final shot of the series, in the episode "What You Leave Behind". The only difference is that the shot in the final episode is from outside the station whereas this one is from inside. Despite the difference in camera position however, the blocking of the actors is very similar in both shots.
- Future uniforms and combadges worn in this episode were reused from "All Good Things...".
- Similar to the later Enterprise episode "Twilight", as well as the previous Voyager episode "Time and Again", this is a sort of "bad dream" episode, in that the plot resolution prevented the main part of the story from occurring. However, because Jake continued to write, it is still entirely possible that Melanie will become a fan of his in the main timeline.
- The character of Nog held the Starfleet ranks of Commander and Captain, and commanded the USS Defiant NX-74205, outranking both Julian Bashir and Jadzia Dax, both of whom were Lieutenant/Lieutenant Commander when Nog in the original timeline was only a cadet.
- Melanie appears in the framing story of the Prophecy and Change anthology.
- Korena appears again as Jake's wife in the novel Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Volume 3, Rough Beasts of Empire, Raise the Dawn and The Good That Men Do.
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Makeup for a Series. The award was won by VOY: "Threshold".
- It was also nominated for a Hugo Award for "Best Dramatic Presentation," which was won by Babylon 5.
Video and DVD releases
- The front cover of the CIC releases changes slightly from this volume on. The station now appears tilted around the character portrait.
- As part of the DS9 Season 4 DVD collection.
- As part of the Star Trek: Fan Collective - Alternate Realities collection.
Links and references
- Rene Auberjonois as Odo
- Michael Dorn as Lt. Commander Worf
- Terry Farrell as Lt. Commander Dax
- Cirroc Lofton as Jake Sisko
- Colm Meaney as Chief O'Brien
- Armin Shimerman as Quark
- Alexander Siddig as Doctor Bashir
- Nana Visitor as Major Kira
- Tony Todd as the adult Jake Sisko
- Galyn Görg as Korena
- Aron Eisenberg as Nog
- Rachel Robinson as Melanie
- Patrick Barnitt as a Bajoran officer
- Scott Barry as a Bajoran officer
- Ivor Bartels as a Starfleet security officer
- Brian Demonbreun as a Starfleet command officer
- Kathleen Demor as a Starfleet security officer
- Randy James as Lieutenant Jones
- Mark Lentry as a Starfleet command officer
- David B. Levinson as Broik
- Mary Meinel-Newport as a Bolian woman
- James Minor as a Starfleet operations officer
- Mark Allen Shepherd as Morn
- Unknown performers as
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