Star Trek DS9 Reviews: If Wishes Were Horses

To be honest, If Wishes Were Horses really didn't capture my imagination. Manufactured crises with deus ex machina endings just don't cut it. Still, there are some redeeming qualities in the episode, one of which is watching Bashir try to explain to Jadzia Dax why his subconscious created a version of Dax that has the single goal of seducing him. Dax passionately kisses Bashir while he checks his tricorder

Wormhole aliens

This is a different twist on a First Contact story. Some wormhole aliens tap into the subconscious minds of the inhabitants of DS9, and take on forms from their imagination. Some hand wavy techno-babble is used, but the main point is to enable a story which uses the power of imagination, something which Odo refers to as a waste of time.

It's an interesting idea, but doesn't really get developed enough. Instead of focusing on the idea of a first contact story, this is really a disaster of the week type of story. If you can't yet tell, I'm not usually a fan of this type of story, unless it can offer something exceptional in the way of character development. Sadly, there is nothing really new or novel in this episode. Bashir's infatuation with Dax is already well established, and nothing really interesting occurs.

Dax, Bashir, and Dax

Aside from the usual banter between Quark and Odo, the most amusing parts of this episode are between Dax and Bashir. Bashir is, as Dax puts it "very young", especially from the perspective of a Trill. By this, she of course means that Bashir is overly amorous, towards basically any female who moves.

When the wormhole aliens take on the forms of the crew's imaginations, one of the primary manifestations is a "dream" Dax, who just seems to want to get close to Bashir. Its amusing, and I can see why this episode may be a favourite for the actors in question. It is a little awkward to kiss your coworker's clone while she watches.

A fake Dax fawns over Bashir, who tries to look busy by listening to the real Dax.


A dwarf who keeps asks O'Brien what services he needs, with implied threats to his firstborn, young Molly. Quite possibly the weakest part of the episode. Apparently, this was originally written as a leprechaun, but Colm Meany protested the racial aspects of an Irish stereotype. I'm not really sure that this was much of an improvement, as I felt this was the weakest thread in the episode. Last minute changes to scripts tend to water down the script.

The dwarf Rumplestiltskin

Buck Bokai and Baseball

As I mentioned in my review of Emissary, Deep Space 9's sport of choice is baseball. While it's useful as an analogy for linear time, in this episode, baseball is used to talk about simulations. Buck Bokai was a player for an LA Kings team, and Sisko and Jake have recreated his entire career in the holosuites. There are some nice things said about the nature of audiences.

Sisko and Jake meet the baseball legend Buck Bokai from the holosuite program

Quark and Odo

There are some amusing scenes with Quark. As we've seen in previous episodes, he enjoys spending time with beautiful women... unless money is on the line. His wish fulfilment in the episode involves two scantily clad women, who promptly disappear once Quark realizes that everyone in his bar is wishing to win at the dabo table, and that Quark is rapidly going out of business.

Quark is enthralled by two scantily clad women

Soon thereafter, it turns out that Odo does have an imagination, and his deepest desire is to hold Quark in a holding cell.

The problem of the week

In the end, the crisis of the episode was a figment of the crews imagination, something that threatened to tear the station apart. Its solved by realizing that it is a figment, and that there is no anomaly.

The viewscreen shows the space anomaly which will destroy the station

After the crew solves this problem, there is a final discussion between Sisko and the wormhole aliens, before they depart. They hint at returning in the future, but thankfully, this episode is never repeated.

If Wishes Were Horses first aired 16 May 1993. Teleplay by Neil McCue Crawford, William L Crawford and Michael Piller. Story by Neil McCue Crawford and William L. Crawford. Directed by Robert Legato.

Star Trek: DS9 Reviews: Captive Pursuit

As boring as I found Babel, it was quickly followed by one of the best early episodes of the series, Captive Pursuit. While in the last several episodes, DS9 has seen increased traffic due to the wormhole, this is the first episode in which we encounter life from the other side. First contact, the essence of diplomatic relations. So what do we learn about life on the other side of the wormhole? The first creature from the other side is an alien who calls himself Tosk. He has some pretty advanced survival techniques, such as the ability to camouflage himself by turning invisible, only requiring 17 minutes of rest per cycle, and has nutrient sacs embedded around his body for sustenance. Tosk is extremely skittish, reacting quickly to unknown noises. He really seems like a fugitive from justice, a cornered rat, with a built-in flight or fight reflex.

Tosk on his ship

We thus get our first hint that things on the other side of the wormhole are perhaps worthy of caution. A region which has developed a race like Tosk, either through natural selection, or, as it turns out, through genetic manipulation, is a dangerous place.

As if to make up for the lack of screen time in Babel, O'Brien is the primary contact for Tosk. It's a combination of his technical aptitude, and generally non-confrontational nature that makes him a good fit. Through O'Brien, we learn that technology from the other side of the wormhole is roughly comparable to that of the Federation, if slightly unfamiliar.

Closeup of Tosk from DS9 Captive Pursuit

This brings us to the next race that comes through the wormhole, Hunters in search of their prey: sentient life. Their entry onto the station isn't very diplomatic either. They beam directly aboard, and blast their way to where Tosk is being held, then they demand his release.

Captive Pursuit  Hunters

This raises an interesting ethical and diplomatic issue. The callous treatment of Tosk flies in the face of Federation values. If they refuse to hand him over, they risk future relations with an alien race, but if they hand him over, they're condemning Tosk to degradation and imprisonment. The Hunters seem disgusted that they have found Tosk alive. It's not sporting, it would seem.

Captive Pursuit  Hunted Unhelmed

While Sisko reluctantly agrees to release Tosk, O'Brien decides to take matters into his own hands. He plays upon Odo's insecurity, telling him that the prisoner transfer is a Starfleet matter, as orders from Sisko. He then leaves his com badge behind, and then ambushes the Hunters, allowing Tosk to escape.

Captive Pursuit  Hunter shot

So much for a peaceful first contact. First the Hunters blast open the brig, and then a Starfleet officer goes rogue and incapacitates the aliens? Of course, as O'Brien points out, when he discusses his actions with Sisko, it would have been an easy thing for Sisko to stop him, by activating force fields in the station to block him off. Although O'Brien disobeyed orders, he did so in a way that preserved the ideals of the Federation, and in a way, enabled the glory of the Hunt to continue. There doesn't seem to be any long-term consequences for O'Brien, as after Tosk escapes, the Hunters seem pleased that the hunt has started once more, apparently smoothing over relations, even after a firefight.

All in all, Captive Pursuit is an excellent episode, giving some added characterization to O'Brien and Sisko, while introducing aliens from the Gamma quadrant.

Captive Pursuit first aired January 31, 1993. Teleplay by Jill Sherman Donner & Michael Piller. Story by Jill Sherman Donner. Directed by Corey Allen