(written from a Production point of view)
An accident on the planet Golana sends Molly O'Brien through a time portal three hundred years into the past into an uninhabited world. Beamed back too late, Molly returns to the present eighteen years old with no immediate recollection of her life or her family.
- 1 Summary
- 2 Memorable quotes
- 3 Background information
- 4 Links and references
Miles O'Brien wakes up with his wife Keiko one morning, happy that both his wife and two children have returned to Deep Space 9 (having left when the Dominion War was inevitable). The two talk about what he's been up to while they've been away, as Keiko warns she intends to get Miles back in shape. Later that morning the couple get ready for a family picnic on Golana, a planet in the Bajoran sector. Their daughter Molly is very excited as she tells her baby brother Kirayoshi that the last time they went was when Keiko was pregnant with him. Later, as Keiko brushes Molly's hair, Molly tells her father that she wants to be an exobologist [sic] when she grows up and asks if they can take Chester (the family's pet cat) if they have to be sent away again. Miles, living a moment of true happiness, promises he won't send them away again. Molly goes to play and begins doing cartwheels in the meadow. Keiko tells Miles he made Molly a big promise, as the war might heat up again and the station won't be safe. Miles tells her that he'll put in for a transfer if that happens; he doesn't intend for the family to be separated any more. As he plays with Kirayoshi, Molly drifts closer to a nearby cavern. The picnic is cut short when they hear Molly screaming not far away. When Miles arrives in the cavern she was playing in, he finds his daughter hanging from a cliff over a mysterious device, which is active and producing a strange energy field. He is not able to grab her hand in time, and the little girl falls into the phenomenon and vanishes.
A science and engineering team is called from Deep Space 9 to investigate the device. Major Kira climbs down a ladder into the area below and asks Commander Dax what exactly the mysterious object is. Dax tells her they have established that the device is some kind of time portal left behind by an ancient civilization that may have transported Molly about three centuries into the past. O'Brien is furiously working with the engineers from the USS Defiant to get the portal working again, but it suffers a power overload and O'Brien yells out "Oh, bollocks!" in frustration. Kirayoshi begins to cry so Kira offers to take him up to the Defiant so Keiko can stay with Miles until he gets the portal up and running.
In Captain Sisko's ready room, Kira holds Kirayoshi and feels that the infant knows her intimately, given that Kira carried him to term for five months. Kira tells Odo, who is sitting nearby, that she might want to have children of her own someday. Odo, visibly uncomfortable, changes the subject and informs Kira that he has learned from the Bajoran Archaeological Institute that, as Bajoran settlers only arrived on Golana less than a century ago, wherever or whenever Molly is, she's going to be all alone. Soon the crew makes a plan to open the portal and try to lock on to Molly's DNA to beam her back. Although the plan initially works, to everyone's surprise the Molly that materializes in front of them is ten years older. She becomes frightened and bites O'Brien and starts to run wild before Bashir sedates her with a hypospray as her parents watch horrified.
In sickbay on the Defiant, Bashir confirms through medical scans that the DNA matches and the girl they have is indeed Molly. Miles wants to try again, to get young Molly back. Bashir points out that if they do, the 18-year-old Molly will disappear. Keiko says this girl is their Molly; even if they haven't spent the last ten years with her, they don't have the right to take those years away from her. Bashir says it will not be easy for her to re-assimilate; she may even have blocked out all memories of her early life to cope with her prolonged isolation. He believes time with the O'Briens will be her best hope for recovering. They plan to return to Deep Space 9 where a cargo bay is being converted to provide a safe environment for her. Bashir says they'll just have to "feel their way through" her recovery process.
Back on the station, Worf returns to his and Dax's quarters and is surprised to find that she has offered to watch Yoshi while Miles and Keiko spend time with Molly. Worf recalls that Dax has been eagerly waiting to run spectral scans on a comet that will pass through the Denorios belt that night, but Dax tells him that she's decided to miss it because if she leaves there would be no one to watch Yoshi. Suddenly eager to prove himself, Worf offers to watch the baby so she can work her shift. Dax mentions that she has had nine children (five as a mother, four as a father). She's not sure Worf understands how much work babies are, since he did not begin caring for his own son until Alexander was 4. Worf says they will be fine and tells Dax to go to work, only for Yoshi to start crying as soon as she leaves leaving the Klingon trying to settle him down.
Molly wakes up in a grassy area which has been set up in the middle of the cargo bay. When the O'Briens enter, she becomes frightened and climbs the tree in the grassy area. Miles shows her a plate of fruit from Golana and tries to tempt her. Wary, she comes down and begins eating at a distance from them. Molly tries saying "mommy", but is still afraid. Keiko shows Molly her doll, Lupi. Molly takes the doll and stares at it intently.
As time passes, the O'Briens continue working with Molly on language skills and socialization. They try playing games with balls. Molly likes the balls, but each time Miles tosses one to her, instead of tossing it back, she takes it and hoards it. Finally they achieve a breakthrough when Molly is just about to hide another ball and Miles says, "Please" and she rolls the ball back to him. All three O'Briens smile.
In Worf and Dax's quarters, the couple are trying to sleep, but Yoshi is crying continuously. Worf complains that nothing he does helps Yoshi fall asleep. Dax offers to take over, but Worf makes an impassioned speech saying that after all he has accomplished in his life and career, he will succeed in helping a crying baby to sleep. Dax asks him why "this babysitting thing is so important all of a sudden?" Worf replies that Dax is judging him on his fitness to parent her future children. He tells her to go back to sleep, "I have work to do."
In the cargo bay, Molly is asleep in the tree and O'Brien is asleep on a nearby couch. Keiko enters and says Dax has agreed to watch Yoshi so Miles can get some work done. While she is sitting next to O'Brien on the couch, Keiko begins brushing her hair. Molly wakes and watched her, then comes close, hand out for the brush. Keiko starts to give her the brush, but Molly leaves Keiko's hand on it and kneels down, pushing Keiko's hand to brush Molly's hair as she used to do when Molly was little.
As O'Brien and Bashir walk through a corridor, Bashir asks several questions about Molly. O'Brien says she's not talking yet, but she clearly understands what they're saying to her and responds to her name. More and more she reminds him of the little girl she used to be. He shows Bashir a picture she drew and says she's started to eat with a spoon. Bashir mentions how Molly has "anthropomorphized the environment" and cautions O'Brien against pushing her too hard, but O'Brien says she's doing great on her own.
They reach the O'Brien quarters, where Worf is seated on the floor speaking Klingon to Yoshi and playing with a rattle. Worf is saying, "gung, gung, gung" and Yoshi is laughing. Worf explains that he was instructing Yoshi in a Klingon hand eye exercise designed to build a foundation for future warriors. Bashir is amused. O'Brien asks seriously how Yoshi did in the exercise, and Worf says, "He acquitted himself well."
When O'Brien returns to the cargo bay, Molly is in a panic, grunting and running from one side to the other. Keiko says she has been like this for over an hour. Keiko has to leave to pick up Yoshi and take him home… upon which Molly has another language breakthrough, saying her first actual word since being rescued as she repeats "Home," clearly understanding its meaning as well as saying her name. The O'Briens are delighted, responding yes, they will take her home. They take her to their quarters. Molly looks around timidly, responding to the "starry stars" outside the view port. But when they take her to her room she becomes agitated. She grabs a picture of them all on a picnic, and keeps saying "Molly home." The O'Briens realize that to her 'home' is Golana. The planet is off-limits, but Miles realizes there is a way to take her there.
Miles and Keiko decide to take Molly to a holosuite which is simulating Golana to cheer her up and the idea proves to be a good one. Molly calls them "mommy" and "daddy" and begins doing cartwheels as she did on their picnic. Miles thinks they can probably schedule the holosuite for an hour or two every day, as Molly continues to play happily. Then a call comes in from Quark, as a couple of Klingons have reserved the holosuite for some "afternoon carnage" and refuse to have O'Brien pay for their time. Miles tries to tell Molly the bad news, but when she completely ignores him, he is forced to end the program. The planet disappears, and Molly is stunned to find herself now in the small, confined room but the confusion soon gives way to anger, and Molly leaves the holosuite in a feral rage, and starts to tear Quark's apart.
After assaulting a few people, a Markalian named Madrat approaches her, to which she responds by stabbing him in the gut with a broken bottle. Just then, Odo and his deputies arrive and stun Molly, but the damage is done.
The Markalian survives but presses assault with a deadly weapon charges. Captain Sisko tells O'Brien that the Federation magistrate has decided that Molly should be taken to a special care center on Davos Prime for evaluation; O'Brien is certain they'll end up keeping her there. O'Brien argues that Molly needs to stay with their family to make progress. Sisko tells the chief that he's sorry as there's no other way.
Down in the holding cell, as Molly paces, Bashir reports that her body is flooded with adrenaline due to her confinement, and that there's a risk of her going into shock. Molly then notices her parents and starts to continually throw herself into the force field to reach her father, regardless of the pain. The deputy is forced to turn the force field off, after which Molly starts to get wild again and is sedated. Bashir gives Miles a simple fact; Molly needs open spaces all the time. Bashir will recommend she be put into a holosuite for the time being, but this is just a short-term solution as eventually they'll have to put her on a transport.
In Worf's quarters, Dax arrives to find Bashir has just finished examining Yoshi, who has fallen and has a small bump on his head. The doctor assures Dax and Worf that it's nothing serious and that it happens all the time with toddlers. He leaves to return to the infirmary. Worf explains to Dax what happened. He had been pretending to be a beast and chased Yoshi. The baby was laughing so hard he didn't look where he was going and fell against the table. Worf berates himself for playing too rough, but Dax says it was just an accident. Worf says Dax was right to question his fitness as a father; Dax protests she never said anything like that. He says he failed Alexander, he failed Yoshi, and he would have failed their children as well. Depressed, Worf leaves.
Later, the O'Briens debate what to do, knowing Molly will never cope at a special care center. Keiko realizes Miles is up to something, and he finally admits he is planning to steal a runabout and take Molly back to Golana. Keiko says that's the first place they'll look for her, but then realizes he also plans to send her back through the portal. He says he'll destroy the portal after they send her through. He wishes there were some other way, but he believes she can survive there and be happy. Keiko reluctantly agrees.
Miles goes to security, where Molly is sedated in a holding cell. The deputy tells him Bashir plans to move her to a holosuite before she wakes up. Miles tells him plans have changed, there are no holosuites available and Odo wants her moved to the cargo bay instead. The deputy says he wasn't notified of any change. Miles tells him to check the log and then when the deputy turns away, sedates him.
Miles takes Molly to a runabout, where Keiko has everything prepared. Before they can board, security officer Lieutenant Jones finds them and calls Odo.
Molly is still asleep. Odo sends Jones to go check on the deputy Pinar that Miles sedated and take a statement. The O'Briens beg Odo for help, saying Molly will die if she's returned to the holding cell. Odo says he's very disappointed because he thought that if anyone could break a prisoner out of a cell and get them off the station it would be Miles. He then opens the door and tells them to get on their way. Keiko hugs him. Odo watches as they board.
In the cavern, Keiko has packed a bag with a knife, a blanket, and Molly's doll. O'Brien reactivates the portal, and Molly smiles. Her parents, happy she's going to survive but still devastated that they're losing their daughter, hug her and then tell her to go home. Molly looks up and says that the stars are the O'Briens' home. They tell her they will be watching her from the stars. She says "Molly loves you" and goes through the portal, holding the bag Keiko gave her. Miles draws his phaser and prepares to destroy the portal.
Once Molly is through, she finds a little girl crying… it is herself as a little girl, just minutes after she'd originally fallen through the portal. Older Molly takes her by the hand and tells her "Mommy, Daddy, there," pointing to the portal. She gives little girl Molly the doll from the bag, and urges her through. Then she smiles and says, "Molly, home" and disappears as her younger self returns to her own time. A moment before Miles fires his phaser at the device, Molly emerges from the portal and is reunited with her overjoyed parents.
Back on DS9, Worf re-enters his quarters. Dax says it's safe to come in; she dropped Yoshi off at the O'Briens a few minutes ago. She says he was really happy to see his sister. Dax tells Worf they understand the head bump was an accident and they invited Dax and Worf to dinner to thank them for all the babysitting. Worf nervously asks what she replied and she said she told them she'd have to check with him.
Then she asks Worf, "What does 'gung, gung, gung' mean?" She says Yoshi kept shaking his rattle and saying it. Worf is pleased. Dax tells him he obviously made a big impression on the toddler. "Maybe you're not as bad with children as you thought," she tells him. Worf says not as bad as she thought, and she admits that she had doubts but has never been so glad to be proven wrong and they hug. Worf says they had better get to dinner with the O'Briens.
Later that night, Keiko and Miles are talking while Molly is drawing a picture. Miles says Captain Sisko is going to represent him at the Starfleet inquiry, and Keiko says if anyone can make them understand, Sisko can. Molly asks if she can see the girl who found her again. Keiko says not for a while. Miles says Dax explained the recalibration didn't hold, which is why older Molly ended up going through to the same point in time. Keiko wonders if she realized the little girl was herself. Miles says he hopes so.
Molly shows them her picture; it is strikingly similar to the one older Molly drew. Molly says it's where they had the picnic. The O'Briens are startled, but then tell her it's lovely.
- - Miles O'Brien
"And what exactly is this infant doing in my home?"
- - Worf, to Dax about Kirayoshi
"Baby's first bat'leth?"
- - Dax, to Worf about Kirayoshi
"By the way, what does... "gung-gung-gung" mean?"
"Why do you ask?"
"Well, it was the strangest thing. I was taking Yoshi home, and he kept shaking his rattle and saying gung-gung-gung!"
"He seemed to get a big kick out of it. So what does it mean?"
"That is between Yoshi and me."
- - Dax and Worf
"I can handle a fourteen month-old child."
- - Worf
"I am a Klingon warrior and a Starfleet officer. I have piloted starships through Dominion minefields. I have stood in battle against Kelvans twice my size. I courted and won the heart of the magnificent Jadzia Dax. If I can do these things, I can make this child go to sleep."
"Talk about losing perspective."
- - Worf and Dax
"I wonder if she realized that the little girl she was looking at was herself."
- - Keiko O'Brien, on older Molly seeing herself as a child
"I'm disappointed in you, chief.... If anyone could break a prisoner out of a holding cell and get them off the station I'd have thought it would have been you. On your way."
- - Odo, as he opens the airlock for the O'Briens
Story and script
- The working title of this episode was "Out of Time". (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. 577))
- The basic premise of this episode was originally conceived by Joe Menosky for The Next Generation as a way to write Alexander Rozhenko out of the series (as René Echevarria explains it, Menosky came up with the story "as a way to get rid of Alexander, who he really disliked!"). In the original story, Worf and Alexander are on a hunting trip, and Worf loses sight of his son for moment, at which time Alexander falls into a time portal and is retrieved fifteen years later as an embittered Klingon warrior who hates his father for having abandoned him. The episode was never green-lit because Michael Piller was not keen on killing off the character (again, as Echevarria explains, "Alexander was Michael Piller's mother's favorite character!"). (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (pp. 577-579)) However, the idea of an older Alexander from the future did form the basis of the episode "Firstborn". (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 292))
- Although René Echevarria had pitched Menosky's story (with Molly O'Brien instead of Alexander) several times to Ira Steven Behr over the years, Behr had always said no to the episode. Finally, as the sixth season drew to a close, Behr relented, claiming there were three reasons to make the show at the time; "It had been a long time since we'd done a science fiction episode, we'd wanted to do another O'Brien show, and we needed to do something that would be pretty much a bottle show." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. 578))
- In the first draft of Bradley Thompson and David Weddle's script, Molly spends ten years in another culture, where she is raised in a farming community, by people who treat her really well. When she returns to Deep Space 9, she is shy and confused, but most of all resentful of her parents, but this idea was scrapped because, as Thompson explains, "It came across as if she had been sent to a bad summer school." Similarly, Echevarria points out, "It was full of all this teen angst emotional stuff and she sounded so damned American." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (pp. 578-9))
- The idea to alter the story so that Molly was a feral child was Ira Behr's. When composing the script, Thompson and Weddle interviewed a number of psychologists and clinical social workers, and much of the behavior exhibited by Molly in the episode is realistic for someone cut off from Human contact from the ages of 8 to 18. For example, her loss of linguistic skills is based on the fact that she's simply forgotten how to speak because she hasn't needed to for ten years, or her tendency to anthropomorphize objects such as trees and rocks, is based upon an innate need, especially in children, for company and companionship. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. 579))
- According to the writers, Molly's fear of captivity is based upon a real syndrome suffered by dolphins known as "capture shock"; when a dolphin is trapped, there is a fifty-fifty chance that it will die simply from the act of being trapped – the mere concept of confinement literally kills it. This is why Bashir is so quick to sedate Molly, because he is worried that her reaction to captivity could literally harm her in and of itself. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. 579))
- In the original script, there was no B-story in this episode. However, after filming was completed, it became apparent that the A-story was running about nine minutes short. When the producers were trying to conceive of a short B-story, they came to a realization about something; ""Tears of the Prophets" represented the last time we would ever see Jadzia Dax, and the last time we'd see the Worf/Jadzia relationship. So we realized that whatever juice we were going to get out of it, we'd better get out of it now." As things turned out, Behr was especially delighted with the B-story, as he felt it has a great level of poignancy, considering what happens in "Tears of the Prophets"; "It seemed like it'd be nice to show Worf and Dax talking about a future, a future that was never going to be." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (pp. 580-581))
- The writers considered establishing that the time portals were Iconian in origin, before deciding not to focus on the workings of the portal. (AOL chat, 1998)
- All of the exteriors for this episode were shot in Malibu Creek State Park. During the filming of the picnic scene, Rosalind Chao heard some of the crew whispering during her dialogue, which is an unheard of occurrence; however, she didn't pay any attention and continued on with the scene. After cut had been called, Steve Oster slowly approached the cast and said, "Now Rosalind, don't panic, but...." As Oster explains, "We were in a big open field shooting the master shot with Keiko and Miles and the two children, when we saw something moving in the grass. It was a rattlesnake working its way towards the shot. We didn't want to alarm the actors and cause a bigger problem. There were two small children there, and we didn't want to freak them out. Allan was unaware of what we were seeing because he was concentrating on the performances, so he didn't call 'Cut'!" Oster and the camera crew quickly discussed what to do (which was the whispering heard by Chao), but decided to play it cool, so as soon as Kroeker did say cut, Oster very calmly asked all the cast to walk slowly towards him, which they did. The snake then proceeded through the shot, closely followed by a park ranger. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. 577))
- Jay Chattaway's composition for the episode included a first for a Star Trek episode with a child's singing voice being used as part of the musical score. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. 577))
- Hana Hatae commented: "["Time's Orphan"]... was so much fun to film. The outdoor scene was filmed at Malibu Creek, which is one of my favorite places to hike and explore. My family and I used to go there all the time when I was growing up. There was a rattlesnake in the bushes right next to where we were filming, so we had to take a break until the park rangers came and removed the snake. The next scene, where I'm falling into the time portal, was awesome to film because I was strapped to a harness and got to swing in front of a green screen. It was pretty much like my own personal little roller coaster". 
- Leslie Hoffman was Hana Hatae stunt safety on the beginning of the swing, holding on to her hands just before the camera rolled. Tom Morga was her safety at the end of the swing, catching her.
- In one scene, after a piece of equipment in the background explodes, Chief O'Brien shouts "Bollocks"; this is an Irish and British expletive referring to the testicles. When the episode was first screened by the BBC in the United Kingdom the word was removed; however, when RTÉ screened the episode in Ireland (citation needed • edit) it was left on the soundtrack. Syfy also cut the word when rebroadcasting in the UK in 2014.
- This episode marks the second and final appearance of Chester, Miles' cat, which was given to him by Liam Bilby in the episode "Honor Among Thieves".
- The console Chief O'Brien uses to operate the time portal is a re-use of the console he and Dr. Bashir used to deactivate the Harvester bio-weapons from the second season episode "Armageddon Game". It also bears a vague similarity to the TARDIS console from Doctor Who.
- Molly mentions to Yoshi that "last time they went to Golana" he was unborn and being carried by Keiko. Since Miles appeared in every episode depicting Keiko's pregnancy (before Yoshi was moved to Kira's womb), this trip must have occurred in between episodes, possibly even before Keiko announced her pregnancy.
- This is the second time that the show has shown someone being erased from time as a result of their past being altered in order to save an individual. This had previously occurred in "Children of Time".
- Also in "Children of Time", O'Brien mentions that he's building a dollhouse for Molly. In this episode, Chester is seen lounging on the roof of the dollhouse in Molly's room.
- This is the second time that Miles and Keiko have to deal with the difference in Keiko's and Molly's respective biological ages being narrowed. The first time, Keiko was physically transformed into a child by a transporter accident in TNG: "Rascals", though she retained her adult memories and mental faculties.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 6.12, 7 December 1998
- As part of the DS9 Season 6 DVD collection
Links and references
- Rene Auberjonois as Odo
- Michael Dorn as Lieutenant Commander Worf
- Terry Farrell as Lieutenant Commander Dax
- Colm Meaney as Chief O'Brien
- Armin Shimerman as Quark
- Alexander Siddig as Doctor Bashir
- Nana Visitor as Major Kira
- Ivy Borg as Rita Tannenbaum
- Clara Bravo as Kirayoshi O'Brien
- Uriah Carr as civilian
- Cathy DeBuono as M'Pella
- Kathleen Demor as operations officer
- Dorothy Hack as Bajoran woman
- Leslie Hoffman as bar patron
- Irving Lewis as bar patron
- Dennis Madalone as Bajoran man
- Linda Madalone as Bajoran woman
- Mary Mascari as Bajoran woman
- Angus McClellan as operations ensign
- Tom Morga as Madrat
- Mark Allen Shepherd as Morn
- Chester E. Tripp III as bar patron
- Unknown performer as
4th century; 2368; 2074; 2084; adrenaline; afternoon; air; airlock; animal; anthropomorphize; archaeologist; assault with a deadly weapon; babysitter; ball; Bajorans; Bajoran Archaeological Institute; bat'leth; blanket; bollocks; bracelet; cargo bay; cartwheel; Chester; children; chroniton; colonist; comet; Constable; courted; daughter; Defiant, USS; Defiant-class; Dalvos Prime; Denorios belt; diaper; dinner; DNA; DNA acquisition sensor; DNA sequence; Dominion; drawing; drink; eating; exobiologist; father; Federation; Federation magistrate; forehead; Golana; Golana melon; Golanan; grint hound; hairbrush; hand-eye coordination; hearing; heart; hehh-duHpp; Hey! Hey! Little Ship!; holding cell; holosuite; husband; infant; infirmary; jumper; Kelvan; kiss; Klingon; Klingonese; knife; language skills; laughter; Lupi; magistrate; minute; "Mr. Froggy"; minefield; month; mother; officer; parent; picnic; picnic basket; pillow; planet; power converter; Quark's; rattle; reading; repair schedule; Rozhenko, Alexander; runabout; sausages; sedative; sensor; sensor range; shock; sister; sleep; song; space station; special care center; spectral scan; spoon; star; Starfleet; Starfleet uniform (2370s-early 2380s); story; sunscreen; sunshine; table; Tarkalean; temporal field; temporal field generator; theft; therapist; throat; time portal; time travel; transfer; transport; transport scanning beam; tree; tummy; warrior; week; writing
- "Time's Orphan" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Time's Orphan" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Time's Orphan" at Wikipedia
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