(written from a Production point of view)
Sisko, Odo, Dax, and Garak are trapped seven years in the past on Terok Nor, but everyone else thinks that they're condemned Bajorans, and only Odo's memory can save them.
Dax, Garak, Odo, and Sisko are en route to Deep Space 9 on a runabout, having attended a conference geared towards a "dispassionate historical view" of the Cardassian Occupation of Bajor. Garak indignantly claims the Bajorans present ignored every opposing argument he made, but everyone agrees Odo was the highlight of the conference due to his reputation for fairness despite working for the Cardassians during the Occupation. However, Odo appears uncomfortable with the discussion.
In ops on Deep Space 9, Okala reports to Worf that the runabout has arrived, but there's a problem. He beams aboard with Doctor Bashir and they discover the four occupants in a comatose state, their life signs very weak. Upon beaming aboard, Bashir tries to awaken them, to no avail. He finds there's an excess of neural energy in their cerebral cortex.
A Bajoran man hurriedly brings the group to their feet, for fear of another "cleansing" – people around them seem to think the Human, Trill, Cardassian, and former Changeling are all Bajoran. The group remembers encountering a plasma storm in the runabout, but not much else after that.
Meanwhile, on the station, the four have been brought to the infirmary. Worf explains that the runabout encountered a class 2 plasma storm, a relatively common phenomenon. Unfortunately, Bashir cannot explain what has happened, as there's no computer records of this kind of physical effect resulting from that kind of storm, so he goes about researching the issue.
Gul Dukat and Odo's predecessor, security chief Thrax, survey the Bajoran sector from the second level. Odo begins to hallucinate as the others talk, seeing a dead Bajoran man, shot in the chest with a phaser, walk by and staring at him. He's also wearing the same clothes he is. He disappears as Odo looks away. Soon, a Cardassian officer arrives to take Dax, who has been "selected". When Garak tries to stop the man, he gets a bloody nose for his trouble.
An alarmed Bashir explains to Worf that the brain can have a powerful effect on bodily functions. There is some odd psychosomatic activity occurring in Garak's brain, but Bashir cannot risk interrupting whatever is happening for fear that one of the patients will be injured or even killed.
As usual, there is a purpose to everything Garak does; once he, Odo and Sisko are alone, he explains that he "borrowed" a scanning device from one of the guards when they took Dax and punched him in the nose. He uses it to find their Bajoran identities. Sisko is Ishan Chaye and Garak is Jillur Gueta, but Odo seems to know this already and immediately identifies himself as Timor Landi, all from Rakantha Province on Bajor. Before Sisko can begin to question him about the issue, Quark arrives with a pair of guards and starts to speak to the three of them, treating them with very little respect. Quark offers the three of them work at his bar. Odo ponders how much damage to the timeline would there be if Quark had an "accident", which Sisko would like to test.
The other soldiers take Dax to Dukat's quarters, where there is awkward silence as he looks her over and has her pour him a bottle of kanar. She gives Dukat her name as Leeta. He claims he is misunderstood and wants a "friend" with whom to share his innermost thoughts. Although Dax's position is not an enviable one, it is clear her predicament could be far worse.
As Dax learns about Dukat's apparent penchant for Bajoran women, Garak learns what it is like to be a Bajoran laborer cleaning Quark's Bar alongside Sisko and Odo. The experience seems to humble him somewhat, although he retains his Cardassian mindset about the Bajorans being better suited for such servile tasks. Sisko notes that he will discuss this with Major Kira when they get back to their reality. Garak quickly adds that there are exceptions to every rule. Odo has another hallucination of the Bajoran man he saw previously and two other men, and though he claims his visible discomfort is from the smell of the chemicals he is using, Sisko uses the chance to bring up Odo's apparent familiarity with their Bajoran aliases. It is revealed that Ishan, Jilur and Timor were innocent Bajorans executed for an assassination attempt on Dukat's life. Sisko tells Odo and Garak that they had better find a way off the station before Dukat makes an example of all of them.
The trio try to come up with a plan of escape, and while they do, Thrax enters to discuss various things with Quark. Garak recognizes a name, Livara, as a Romulan spy; however, according to his stolen data pad, Livara would have been visiting Terok Nor seven years ago, at which time Odo was serving as security chief, not Thrax. This only leads to more unanswered questions.
Later on the Promenade, Sisko uses a trick he once learned from Major Kira to subtly request a meeting with the Bajoran Resistance, turning over a vase at one of the shops. They then get some soup and sit at a nearby table to wait. Things become even stranger for Odo as his hands are suddenly covered in blood; however, no one else can see it, and it disappears shortly. A Bajoran man from the Resistance joins them and Sisko tries to arrange transport off the station. Before he can finish, there is an explosion nearby where Gul Dukat is walking with Dax and his entourage. As the Bajoran man leaves, Sisko instinctively runs over to see if Dax is okay. However, he, Garak and Odo are arrested and taken to a holding cell.
Thrax visits the brig that evening to inform various prisoners of their fate. Under Cardassian law, the verdict is reached before the trial begins, and Sisko and the others are to be sentenced the following day. Odo desperately pleads with Thrax, knowing they are innocent, but the Cardassian officer refuses to refute the circumstantial evidence, claiming the Bajorans need to accept their fate.
Back in Dukat's office in Ops, he drones on about how lenient he is with the Bajorans and how he sees them as his children. Dax is obviously uninterested but pretends to listen intently. Waiting for an opportunity, she knocks the Cardassian on the head while his back is turned, rendering him unconscious.
Each of the accused deals with the predicament in his own way. Garak plans an elaborate web of stories as usual in order to try to convince the Cardassians of his true identity. Odo continues to act strangely, but Sisko once again tries to connect the dots, as everything so far has pointed to the constable. Sisko theorizes that Odo knows more than he thinks he does, but once again the conversation is interrupted – this time by Dax, who burns a hole in the door of the brig.
The four of them head for an airlock and Dukat's personal shuttle. Dax reveals that she has used her knowledge of the station to ensure the Cardassians will be unable to stop them from leaving. Several soldiers follow suit and a fight ensues, with Thrax facing Odo. Once the other soldiers have been subdued and Thrax appears trapped, he suddenly reveals that he is a Changeling and escapes through an air duct. Pressed for time, they continue moving towards the shuttle but suddenly find themselves back in the holding cell, just two hours prior to their execution.
The four discuss the situation, and its inconsistencies; none of them know how they ended up back in the cell, and the fact that Thrax is a Changeling doesn't make any sense since the Founders didn't know about the wormhole at this point in time. Thrax enters and honors Odo's previous request for an audience, taking him to the security office in the next room. There Odo attempts to reason with him, citing evidence that will prove their innocence. Thrax is more interested in order, telling Odo that the Bajoran Occupation has lasted for five decades and will likely last for another five decades more, so the Bajorans need to accept their place in history as a conquered people. When Odo reveals that the four of them do not belong there, Thrax tells Odo that he knows and then asks him (by name) what he is going to do.
Suddenly, Odo and the others find themselves on the upper level of the Promenade. Sisko, Dax, and Garak are lined up and about to be executed. Odo begs Thrax to stop this, but Thrax simply tells him that "It's out of his hands now." Desperate, Odo attacks the Cardassian executioner, claiming he will not "let this happen again". He then cries out loud that he – not Thrax – should be here. Suddenly the scene changes again; Sisko, Dax, Odo, and Garak are now dressed normally. A distance away, the three Bajorans Odo saw earlier are lined up for execution – with Dukat and another Odo (dressed in Thrax's uniform) standing nearby. The four of them watch as the three Bajorans are executed. Dukat and the other Cardassians vanish, as does the Past Odo. Only the bodies of the three Bajorans remain. Sisko realizes that Thrax was actually Odo all along.
An ashamed Odo reveals that he was the one who let the accused men be put to death, not Thrax. A bombing identical to the one that nearly killed Dukat occurred only three days later, and if he had performed any kind of investigation instead of relying on circumstantial evidence, then he would have seen that the three men were clearly innocent. However he didn't know the difference between "order" and "justice" and he allowed three innocent men to be executed as an example. Moments later, the four awake in the infirmary in the "present". Bashir informs Odo that whatever he has been through has taken its toll.
Baffled and intrigued, Bashir later explains that some of Odo's morphogenic enzymes were apparently left over from when the Founders forced him to remain a Solid. The events were triggered when the runabout flew through the plasma field which triggered the enzymes causing Odo to (subconsciously) reach out for others with whom to form a link, the end result being a telepathic experience brought on by Odo who was thinking about the three Bajorans at the time. "It would make a fascinating paper," he observes, but seeing Odo's reaction, adds, "although I don't intend to write one." Just then Kira walks in, and it's clear to Bashir that he should leave the two alone. After he leaves, Kira tells Odo that even though it's been two days she still can't believe what she read in his report. She tells him that as far as the Bajorans were concerned, he was different. He stood apart from the brutal Cardassians and that made him special. However, she also admits that she did things during the Occupation she'd rather forget as everyone who lived through it got their hands dirty, but she needs to know from Odo that no other innocent people died on his watch. Odo honestly replies that he doesn't know… but he sincerely hopes not.
"Giving me a name tag that read, 'Elim Garak – Former Cardassian Oppressor' was hardly polite."
- - Garak, to Jadzia Dax on the Bajoran conference
"How much damage would it do to the timeline if Quark were to suffer a mysterious 'accident'?"
"I'm not sure. But maybe we should conduct a little experiment and find out."
- - Odo and Sisko
"You'd think they'd put us in our own cell block instead of with the common criminals – after all, we are accused of attempting to assassinate the station commander. That deserves SOME respect!"
"Maybe they'll salute when they execute us."
- - Garak and Sisko
"This is the fourth assassination attempt I've survived."
"Maybe you should find another job."
- - Gul Dukat and Dax
"Bad manners are the fault of the parent, not the child. My weakness is that I'm too generous, too forgiving. My heart is too big–"
(knocking Dukat out) "And so is your ego."
- - Dukat and Dax
"We are talking about the attempt on Gul Dukat's life, not the sociopolitical ramifications of the Resistance!"
"It's all part of the same problem! When your people resort to terrorism and violence… they are fighting against order, against stability, against the rule of law, and this must be stopped."
"There is more to life than the rule of law."
"It has been my observation that only the guilty make that kind of statement."
- - Odo (as a Bajoran) and Thrax (as Odo's former self)
"You were special. You were the one man who stood apart from everyone else, the one man who stood for justice. Now what?"
"Now I'm just another imperfect solid."
"Okay. The Prophets know I'm not perfect. I guess the truth is that anyone who lived through the Occupation… had to get a little dirty. But I need to know that no other innocent people died on your watch, Odo. That this was the only time."
"I'm not sure. I hope so."
- - Kira and Odo
Story and script
- According to Robert Hewitt Wolfe, the producers had wanted to do another Terok Nor show ever since the popular reception of "Necessary Evil" in the second season. However, they weren't keen on doing another memories/flashback show, and the only other thing they could come up with was time-traveling, which they also wished to avoid. Ultimately, it was Michael Taylor who came up with the idea of using the subconscious of a character as a 'gateway' of sorts into the past. However, his original pitch differed substantially from the finished form of the episode. Initially, he had Sisko, Dax, Garak, and Odo waking up from a dream to find that they are all still in a dream, and are actually in one another's dreams. The denouement of the episode would reveal that Odo is actually having the "master dream" and that everything they experienced was from his past. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- The impetus to create a dark past for Odo came from the writers' desire to sully his character to a degree. As Ronald D. Moore explains, "one of the things that always drove the writing staff nuts was the idea that Odo had been a policeman during the Cardassian Occupation, but had never gotten his hands dirty, that he had been above it all, and that everybody had trusted him. We never bought that. it seemed to me that if I were a Bajoran, I wouldn't trust the cop who's still on duty from the Occupation. Somewhere along the line something bad went down on Odo's watch. And "Things Past" was the show to say it." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion) Interestingly, part of what Moore addresses here had been covered before. In the first season episode "A Man Alone", the character of Zayra inquires as to why the man appointed security chief of the station by the Cardassians is still security chief under the Bajorans.
- While some fans felt that this episode was another stage in the process of making Dukat something more than a villain, thus building upon episodes such as "The Maquis, Part II", "Civil Defense", "Defiant", "The Way of the Warrior", "Indiscretion", "Return to Grace", and "Apocalypse Rising", Ronald D. Moore argues that that was not the intention at all; "He wants to be loved. He's the kind of dictator who thinks, 'It's not enough that I put my foot on the throat of the people I'm oppressing, I want them to love me for it.' Dukat believes he's the hero of his own story." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- The writers hoped that the explanation at the end of this episode as to how Odo developed telepathic-like abilities ("residual traces of morphogenic enzymes") would indicate to viewers that his status as a solid wasn't actually permanent. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- According to a line from the script that was cut just before filming, Bajorans on Terok Nor were known to burn malaba drums in order to keep warm and months later, Dukat claimed that he extended environmental controls into the Bajoran sector to improve the quality of life. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion - A Series Guide and Script Library)
- While in production, this episode was jokingly christened "Nightmare on Odo Street" by director LeVar Burton. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Terry Farrell finds "Things Past" memorable due to the make-up that was applied to her to represent Dax's injuries in the episode which was not clearly seen in the final cut. Farrell commented: "Dax got hurt in that one, so there wasn't that much for me to do. The thing that was such a drag, was that my make-up artist, Karen Iverson, did all these really awesome scrapes and burns on me, because of the explosion. But because of the way they had to put me into the show, you never saw any of it. Dax always looks so clean and neat, and it was fun to be messy and dirty, with blood all over me for a change. But they ended up shooting it over the back of my head". (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 22)
- As with "Necessary Evil", this episode is another favorite of Rene Auberjonois's: "I loved the script. Odo's a character whom we've come to believe always tells the truth. In fact, in the pilot he says to Dukat, 'There's one thing that you know about me – I never lie.' We've tried to be consistent with that. But that doesn't mean he doesn't lie to himself. He is this wonderfully contradictory character, in that he's made of liquid, but he's very rigid." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- LeVar Burton commented that he found "Things Past" "a lot of fun because we had an opportunity to experience a different visual style for Deep Space Nine. We had an opportunity to get darker, really gritty. I know it was a lot of fun for Jonathan West, the Director of Photography". ("Directing DS9: LeVar Burton", The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 20)
- Terry Farrell commented: "I liked ["Things Past"] because we always talked a lot about the Occupation, and in that one, we got to experience what the writers were thinking about. They had done something like it once or twice before, but Dax wasn't very involved". (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 22)
- Kurtwood Smith commented that he thought he was cast as Annorax in VOY: "Year of Hell" due to his performance as Thrax: "I guess the producers liked what I did on Deep Space Nine. Because Thrax was actually in the imagination of another character […] he wasn't quite as interesting to play as Annorax. He didn't have nearly as much to do." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 18)
- This is the first appearance of Elim Garak since the fourth season episode "Broken Link" where he was sentenced to six months in prison for sabotage and assaulting Worf. Apparently, this episode is set six months after the aforementioned episode.
- This episode has thematic resonance with the second season episode "Necessary Evil". Both evoke Odo's memories of life on Terok Nor to reveal a dark secret from the Occupation; while "Necessary Evil" explored dark deeds of Kira's that she had kept hidden from Odo, "Things Past" reveals a shameful guilt of Odo's that he had kept hidden from her. The final scenes of each episode, both depicting Kira and Odo standing at opposite sides of Odo's desk with one trying to come to terms with the actions of the other, are hauntingly similar.
- Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko) and Colm Meaney (Miles O'Brien) do not appear in this episode.
- The identity of the Bajoran woman whom Dax assumes is never revealed.
- In this episode, Worf refers to "runabout pad 1." In all other episodes, runabout pads are identified by letter, not number.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 5.4, 10 March 1997
- As part of the DS9 Season 5 DVD 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
Special guest stars
- David B. Levinson as Broik
- Randy James as Jones
- Unknown performers as
ability; accusation; accused; alpha unit; assassination; autograph; Bajor; Bajorans; Bajoran Resistance; Bajoran sector; Bajoran wormhole; blood pressure; blood vessel; body temperature; bone; bookkeeper; brain; Cardassians; Cardassian comp-link; Cardassian law; Cardassian Military; cell; cell block; cellular structure; Changeling; child; class 2 plasma storm; comfort woman; commuter service; Constable; conviction; criminal record; cross-dimensional transfer; dabo girl; dictator; disturbing the peace; Dukat's personal shuttle; electronics engineer; epidermal scan; evidence; fan club; Federation; Ferengi; freighter captain; girlfriend; Great Link; gul; heart; holosuite; Honshu shuttlecraft; innocence; Jillur's cousins; kanar; knot; latinum; Livara; maraji crystal; medical record; medical tricorder; military occupation; morphogenic enzyme; Musilla Province; name; name tag; nose bleed; Obsidian Order; Occupation of Bajor; "Old Man"; oppressor; parent; phaser burn; phenomenon; pickpocket; plasma grenade; plasma storm; Promenade; Prophets; psychosomatic response; Quark's; Rakantha Province; recreation pass; resumé; Romulans; rule of law; runabout; security file; security officer; soup; space plasma; "spoon head"; spy; Starfleet; strangulation; surgically altered; sympathizer; Talavian freighter; temporal displacement; Terok Nor; time travel; Timor's sons; Timor's wife; toast; tri-nitrogen chloride (TNC); tumor; undercover operative (aka agent); vanity; warp engineer
- "Things Past" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Things Past" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Things Past" at Wikipedia
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