Far Beyond the Stars

Far Beyond the Stars
"Far Beyond the Stars"
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode
Episode no. Episode 138
Directed by Avery Brooks
Written by Marc Scott Zicree
Ira Steven Behr
Hans Beimler
Production code 538
Original air date February 11, 1998
Guest stars
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List of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episodes

"Far Beyond the Stars" is a season six episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The teleplay was written by Ira Steven Behr and Hans Beimler, based on a story by Marc Scott Zicree. Avery Brooks directed. It is special in that almost the full cast of DS9 plays human characters, without their alien costumes.

Plot

Benjamin Sisko is talking to his father about leaving Starfleet, but before he makes a decision, he is distracted by a vision of a man who is dressed in 20th Century clothes. The visions rapidly increase in number. Dr. Bashir's tests of Sisko show the same synaptic potentials as he had when he had visions a year ago (in the episode "Rapture").

The visions show him as Benny Russell, an African-American science fiction writer on Earth in 1950s New York City. Benny Russell writes for the science fiction magazine Incredible Tales, in a New York City populated by human versions of different characters from DS9: Herbert Rossoff (Quark) as a left-wing short-tempered Jewish writer; Julius Eaton (Dr. Bashir), a British writer; K.C. Hunter (Kira Nerys), a tough woman writer who has to adopt a nom de plume to disguise the fact that she's a woman from her readers; Albert (Miles O'Brien), a socially awkward stutterer who prefers to write stories about robots; Darlene Cursty (Jadzia Dax), a secretary whose ditsy, giggly personality belies her intelligence; Douglass Pabst (Odo), the editor of Incredible Tales, who feigns sympathy for the discriminatory treatment experienced by Benny (and K.C.), but refuses to help them or take responsibility for his own role in their treatment; an artist (Martok); a newsboy (Nog); two bigoted policemen (Gul Dukat and Weyoun); Benny's girlfriend (Kassidy Yates); a baseball player (Worf); a local hustler (Jake Sisko); and a fiery preacher who preaches about the will of the prophets (Joseph Sisko).

Pabst announces photo day and Hunter takes the hint that she should not show up that day so that the readers don't learn she's a woman. Benny Russell realizes he's not expected to show up for photos either because he is black. Though frustrated, he volunteers to write a story based on a stylized drawing of a space station. His story, "Deep Space Nine", is about the station's commanding officer, Benjamin Sisko, a human of African descent (or Negro, the term used in the show). The other writers consider it an important work, but Pabst refuses to publish it due to its racial content. Instead of writing something else, Benny writes six new stories about Sisko. This causes a passionate argument in the office among the various employees with some suggesting that Benny should self-publish. Albert suggests that Benny make the ending of his first Sisko story a dream, a compromise that both Benny and Pabst accept after it is clarified that the dreaming is being done by a Negro person.

While out with his girlfriend to celebrate his story being published, Benny overhears gunshots. He rushes to the scene to find that a hustler (Jake Sisko) friend of Benny's has been killed by the police (Gul Dukat and Weyoun), ostensibly because he was trying to break into a car. When Benny protests this injustice, the police beat him savagely.

On his first day back at the office, excited to see his story in print, he learns that the whole month's run of the magazine has been “pulped”, as the owner preferred to take a loss rather than sell a magazine featuring a Negro hero and that Benny is being fired for writing the story. Benny breaks down; he screams that although the world can deny him, they cannot destroy his ideas and the the future he envisions is real. He collapses to the floor sobbing and is taken away by an ambulance. As he falls unconscious, he looks through the window and sees not a cityscape, but stars streaking by as if traveling at warp speed. The preacher sits by him and tells him that he is both the dreamer and the dream. Sisko wakes up back on the station, to the relief of his father and his son. He is deeply moved by his vision, and wonders if somewhere Benny Russell is dreaming of them.

Conception

Zicree's original pitch for the episode featured Jake Sisko as the main character, and did not deal directly with racial issues. Zicree originally patterned the Bashir/Kira characters on Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore, and the O'Brien character on Isaac Asimov.[1]

Zicree's story was combined with ideas that story editor Robert Hewitt Wolfe had written for a script called 'Cold and Distant Stars', a very early draft for the Season Three two-part episode Past Tense, in which Wolfe suggested a story about Sisko as a contemporary homeless man who believes he is a star base captain, but who is diagnosed as schizophrenic and drugged to suppress his visions. At that time, producer Ira Behr had rejected the hallucinatory element in favour of a time-travel story.[2]

Notes

Joseph Sisko quotes a passage from the Bible, which Benjamin remarks is unusual for him (it is also unusual in Star Trek in general).

The hustler Jimmy (Cirroc Lofton) uses the word nigger in this episode, in reference to the fact that black people, in his view, will never get into space except to shine white people's shoes. This is the only use of the word in the Star Trek universe.

Alexander Siddig and Nana Visitor, who portray Julian Bashir and Kira Nerys, respectively, portray married couple Julius and Kay Eaton in this episode; the pair were married in real life at the time.

During an argument, Julius Eaton (Bashir) says "We're writers, not Vikings" in the style of the typical Star Trek doctor's line, "I'm a doctor, not a ...".

Many of the covers for the science fiction magazines list titles of original Star Trek episodes, including some by D. C. Fontana (analogous to Kay Hunter in this episode, who, like Fontana, publishes using her initials to prevent her gender being discovered, although the relationship between Hunter and Eaton might also reflect C. L. Moore and Henry Kuttner).

Incredible Stories' offices are in the "Arthur Trill building", a reference to both the Trill species and the real-life Brill Building.

Aron Eisenberg (Nog) is a newsboy, selling magazines, one of which shows Starbase 11 from the original series episode "The Menagerie". Jeffrey Combs (Weyoun, and Brunt of the FCA) and Marc Alaimo (Gul Dukat) play policemen. J. G. Hertzler (Martok) plays the artist at the magazine whose drawings inspire the writers. Michael Dorn (Worf) plays a baseball player, the first African-American player for the local major league team (the New York Giants). Penny Johnson (Kasidy Yates) plays a waitress at a diner, aspiring to own the diner. Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko) plays a delinquent teenager who scoffs that black people might ever have equality with whites. Brock Peters (Joseph Sisko) plays a priest who counsels Benny Russell to write his story boldly. Terry Farrell (Jadzia Dax) is Pabst's secretary (she exclaims about the "worm" in Jadzia's belly).

Pabst remarks that Herbert has "been angry ever since Joseph Stalin died." This statement, in addition to being an accusation of Communist sympathies on Herbert's part, would place the 20th century events of the episode sometime after March 5, 1953. The cover of the Galaxy Science Fiction which Russell buys says it is the September 1953 edition.

Willie Hawkins remarks to Benny that he'd hit a home run the night before, but Benny responds that the Giants are in fifth place. This is consistent with a 1953 date, as the New York Giants finished fifth in the National League that season, in large part because star center fielder Willie Mays was serving in the U.S. Army as a result of the Korean War. Mays was drafted in May 1952 and was not discharged until March 1954; in the ensuing season, the Giants won the World Series with Mays playing a key role. Willie Hawkins wears uniform number 15, a number not worn by any of the real Giants in 1953.

Although dressed as a Catholic priest, Brock Peters' street preacher refers to the "Prophets" and at one point touches Benny's ear as a Bajoran cleric would to sense one's pagh.

At one point, Benjamin's dream slightly derails and he sees himself reflected in a window as Sisko in his Starfleet uniform. Later when the writing staff are discussing his new Deep Space 9 book, he sees Kira Nerys instead of K.C. Hunter. At another point, while dancing with his bride to be in his apartment, Benjamin sees himself dancing with Kasidy on DS9. He also sees Worf in a Klingon uniform instead of Willie the baseball player, and Dukat and Weyoun as the detectives while they are beating him.

Although Casey Biggs (Damar) did not play an alternate role in this episode, he was later cast as Doctor Wykoff in season 7, episode 2 "Shadows and Symbols".

The office set features a model of the Moon rocket from the comic Destination Moon, an adventure in Hergé's The Adventures of Tintin series.

The crew of "What You Leave Behind" toyed with the idea of having the final scene feature Benny Russell outside a television sound stage with a script titled "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine", suggesting that Deep Space Nine (and possibly all of Star Trek) was a dream. The idea was ultimately rejected.[citation needed]

Alternate roles in 1950s

  • Benjamin Sisko as Benny Russell/Benjamin Sisko
  • Kasidy Yates as Cassie, diner waitress
  • Quark as Herbert Rossoff, writer
  • Julian Bashir as Julius Eaton, writer
  • Kira Nerys as K.C. Hunter, writer
  • Miles O'Brien as Albert Macklin, writer
  • Odo as Douglas Pabst, editor
  • Jadzia Dax as Darlene Kursky, Pabst's secretary
  • Worf as Willie Hawkins, baseball player in diner
  • Jake Sisko as Jimmy, teenage hustler
  • Joseph Sisko as street preacher
  • Gul Dukat as Burt Ryan, policeman
  • Weyoun as Kevin Mulkahey, policeman
  • Nog as newsboy
  • Martok as Roy Ritterhouse, magazine artist

References

  1. ^ Joe Nazzaro (June 1998). "Going Far Beyond the Stars". Star Trek Monthly (Titan Magazines): pp. 42–46. 
  2. ^ Erdmann, Terry; Block, Paula (2000). The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion. New York City: Pocket Books, Simon & Schuster Inc.. p. 196. ISBN 1-0671-5010-62. 

Terry J. Erdmann & Paula M. Block, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion. New York: Pocket Books (2000): 532 - 537

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