Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Season 5 Episode 22

Children of Time

Aired Weekdays 11:00 AM May 05, 1997 on Syndicado
out of 10
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153 votes

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Episode Summary

Stardate: 50814.2

The Defiant enters a barrier surrounding a planet in the Gamma Quadrant, only to find its inhabitants are the crew's descendants from 200 years in the past.

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  • Deserves its reputation

    With its high concept and sweet title, this episode almost always cracks those "DS9 Top Ten" lists, and deservedly so. Unwilling to coast on its killer premise (and unable to use the station) writer Rene Echevaria uses each character to develop the story, giving each of them a personal issue and character arc as the beats of the episode unfold. It's not always a lot. O'Brien's part is pretty simplistic. But sometimes it's mind boggling. Good luck trying to explain Odo's situation to someone who's never seen Star Trek! Either way, Echevarra fits all the pieces together so well, you'd never know he was putting together two separate story pitches that people had submitted.

    The heart of (and catalyst for) the story is the Kira/Odo relationship, which moves forward in probably the most bizarre fashion in the history of television. (The show certainly can't be accused of falling back on an old clich, like sticking them in a broken elevator together). It's brilliantly handled by Auberjonois and Visitor. It's not that they know just what to do. (Visitor, by her own admission, disliked the script and had no idea how to play it). It's their uncomfortable lack of chemistry itself that's so interesting and gives the writers more to work with in the future.

    Still, the episode is not without its contrived points. The premise needs Kira to be healthy enough to be active, but sick enough to be dying. The solution? She's given a hidden sickness with no symptoms that will leave her dead in days if the crew can't escape. The episode also needs an alternate-Odo to interact with Kira without the original Odo's interference. Original-Odo conveniently can't hold his form on this planet and is confined to a container.

    Speaking of alternate-Odo (who has lived for 200 years on the planet), it would be nice to have a scene that shares a little more of his backstory. (In fact, there was going to be a scene where Odo tells Kira that after being stranded on the planet and watching all of his friends eventually die, he left the colony to be on his own. But the scene was cut, and it's too bad, because it's interesting in its own right, and it explains a lot).

    Nonetheless, the premise itself is so strong, it would work for any of the Star Trek series. And it certainly works here. (Perhaps it's best that Star Trek waited for the internet age, too, because the episode certainly generated its share of discussion online! There are many that argue that the colonists lives are only theoretically, and the crew of the Defiant shouldn't even entertain the thought of saving them. Of course, it's a lot more difficult to view someone as theoretical when you're actually spending time with them in person, and with the television medium allowing viewers to do so along with Sisko and company, many agree with some of the Defiant crew that the descendant's lives do matter).moreless
  • "Meridian" and "The Masterpiece Society" done right.

    In "Meridian" (season 3), the Defiant encounters a hidden planet that makes departure emotionally difficult. It's one of the show's weakest episodes because it hinges on Dax (in a Troi-esque turn) having a completely implausible romance with one of the thoroughly uninteresting, uncharismatic natives.

    "Children of Time" has a similar premise, but replaces the implausible romance with a real moral dilemma. And it's complicated even more by the sudden revelation of Odo's love for Kira. Unlike "Meridian", the villagers here are actually appealing - future Dax, the children (particularly O'Brien Jr.), the Klingons - enough for us to sympathize with their plight in a way we never did with the locals in TNG's "The Masterpiece Society".

    Ultimately the ending is a shocker because a "moral" character makes a morally questionable - but plausible - decision.moreless
  • What a great episode

    The DS9 crew travel through a wormhole in the gamma quadrant, but get hit with problems and crash land. The people tell the crew that when the DS9 crew try to escape, they'll travel 200 years into the past and have to repopulate. Kira also died by the electrical burst she recieved when they travelled through time. uh oh. this episode is so poignant, as we see odo still alive and reveal he's always loved Kira, and the ds9 crew find out that if they go back to their time, their children will cease to exist, so decide to let themselves travel 200 years into the past, but future odo has changed the controls to let kira live and causes the children to die.moreless
  • The Odo and Kira story is the backbone of the episode

    The Defiant, in the Gamma Quadrant but on the way home, comes across a planet surrounded by a strange energy barrier. After scanning it, they are pulled in and find themselves face to face with people who claim to be their descendants from the crash of the Defiant 200 years earlier. You see, the energy barrier sent the Defiant back in time after they tried to leave--an event that Sisko and crew will experience in about two days. After an abortive attempt to have their cake and eat it too, the crew is left with a choice--do they leave, thus sentencing these people to death by never having existed, or stay and lose any hope of seeing their families again? Things are complicated by the fact that Kira has been fatally wounded and can only be healed at a starbase. The choice they make, and the unknown force that prevents it, are where the episode gains its emotional resonance. It also happens where Odo tells Kira he loves her.

    This event occurs thanks to the surviving Odo's emotional maturity. The Defiant's Odo spends most of the episode in a container, but the Gaian Odo allows Rene Auberjonois to really look at one possible Odo--a more peaceful, more sensitive and more human Odo. The Odo storyline in this episode is the highlight for me--check out the scene where Kira tells him that she wants to go back in time with the Defiant, her own health be damned. The sacrifice that he makes for her is heart-rending, and validates the love story, even if it remains one-sided for another year. The rest of the players acquit themselves admirably, and the story is otherwise good, but the rest of the scenes serve mostly to advance the plot. It is in the Odo/Kira storyline that is complete in and of itself, and that bears repeat viewings.

    This episode continues a streak on DS9 of time travel episodes done extraordinarily well. Past Tense, The Visitor, Trials and Tribble-ations, and this--classics all. Too bad that the potboiler Time's Orphan broke the streak in Season 6.

    P. S. Fans of The Larry Sanders Show might notice the appearance of the Garden Weasel in the planting scene ("What kind of idiot would call their product a weasel?")moreless
Armin Shimerman

Armin Shimerman


Terry Farrell

Terry Farrell

Lt./Lt. Commander Jadzia Dax (Season 1-6)

Michael Dorn

Michael Dorn

Lt. Commander Worf (Season 4-7)

Rene Auberjonois

Rene Auberjonois

Constable Odo

Nana Visitor

Nana Visitor

Major/Colonel/Commander Kira Nerys

Avery Brooks

Avery Brooks

Commander/Captain Benjamin Sisko

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (5)

    • In 200 years, 48 survivors produce 8,000 decedents. Generously assuming half of the Defiant crew is female (it is more likely a quarter or less) and that each subsequent generation is half female and that each previous generations dies, every woman would have to have an average of 9.2 children over the likely 4 generations to get to 8,000 people.

    • Rene Auberjonois (Odo) appears out of make-up for most of this episode, since his character is aged 200 years and is better at resembling humanoids than usual.

    • This is the last episode to be within the Gamma quadrant until the series finale.

    • This episode is the first episode of Star Trek to feature the use of a freestanding ladder.

    • Nitpick: When the Defiant escapes through the energy barrier surrounding the planet, they realize that they have changed history, likely causing the settlements and their inhabitants to cease to exist. They scan the surface and conclude that neither the settlements nor the people are on the planet. However, when the Defiant first came to examine the planet they couldn't tell if anyone or anything was on the planet, not being able to scan through the energy barrier. How, if they couldn't scan through the barrier the first time, are they able to scan through it now?

  • QUOTES (6)

    • Sisko: And I will not ask Kira to sacrifice her life, for eight thousand people, for eight million. No one has the right to ask that...

    • Brota: Are you the son of Mogh?
      Worf: Yes.
      Brota: Is it true you can kill someone just by looking at them?
      Worf: Only when I am angry.

    • Kira: Praying over your own grave... that's got to be a new one.
      Odo: If the Prophets were listening, they're probably very confused.

    • O'Brien: I'm making Molly a dollhouse for her birthday. The house itself was easy, but the furniture... even with a micro-lathe, I'm not sure I'm going to be able to finish it all in time.
      Kira: I guess her dolls are going to have to rough it for a while.

    • Sisko: All right. We'll make a quick survey. But if all we detect is some fungus, we're not beaming down.
      Jadzia: But what if it's smart fungus?

    • Bashir: You, on the other hand, are going to have to undergo a complete neural pathway induction as soon as we get back to the station.
      Kira: If you say so. I feel fine.
      Bashir: That's because your neural tissues haven't begun deteriorate. But rest assured... you'll be on my operating table eventually.

  • NOTES (5)


    • Garden Weasel
      In the planting scene, one of the older children can be seen using an implement that is actually that "as seen on TV" item the Garden Weasel.