“The Visitor” is the 75th episode of the American syndicated science fiction television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and the third episode of the fourth season.
The episode was written by Michael Taylor and directed by David Livingston.
Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures on Deep Space Nine, a space station located near a stable wormhole between the Alpha and Gamma quadrants of the Milky Way Galaxy. In this episode, an accident leaves Captain Benjamin Sisko frozen in time, leaving Jake with a lifelong obsession of rescuing his father while having his resolve tested when they briefly reunite every few decades.
The episode was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation in 1996, but lost to Babylon 5’s “The Coming of Shadows”. It consistently ranks in polls as one of the most popular episodes of the entire series, often vying for first place with “In the Pale Moonlight” and “Trials and Tribble-ations”, with one critic writing that the episode “sums up everything that made DS9 so unforgettable.”
The episode is mostly set in the 25th century, starting in the year 2450. On a rainy night on Earth, the elderly Jake Sisko (Tony Todd) is visited by an aspiring novelist Melanie (Rachel Robinson), who is curious to learn why Jake gave up writing after publishing two successful books. Jake, knowing the time in his life is short, decides to tell her his story, revealed as flashbacks in the episode.
Many years earlier, when Jake was eighteen, he went with his father, Captain Benjamin Sisko, on the USS Defiant to observe the inversion of the Bajoran Wormhole, an event that only occurs every fifty years. The inversion causes a malfunction in the Defiant’s warp drive, but Sisko and his son are able to fix it. However, as they congratulate themselves, a bolt of energy discharges from the warp drive and strikes Sisko, causing him to vanish into subspace, a dimension in which he is frozen in time. Believing him to be dead, Jake and the rest of Deep Space Nine mourn for his loss, but a few months later, Jake catches sight of his father for a brief moment. A year after the incident, Captain Sisko appears again, remaining much longer than before, and Jake and the rest of the crew ascertain that his temporal signature is out of phase, but cannot correct it in the limited time. Before he disappears, Sisko tells Jake, “I need to know that you’re going to be all right.” He soon disappears again as Jake cries, “don’t leave me!”
When the Klingon Empire assumes control of Deep Space Nine, Jake is forced to abandon his home of five years and give up any further hope of finding his father. Returning to Earth, he eventually decides to study writing, marry and settle down. Achieving success as an author, Jake is able to think less about the past. His father suddenly appears again, this time in Jake’s home. Jake introduces him to his wife and shows him the books he’s published. He apologises to his father for abandoning his attempts to save him and instead moving on with his life. But Sisko is proud of his son’s accomplishments and hopes one day Jake will give him grandchildren. When his father suddenly disappears again, Jake is traumatised and decides to help him by returning to school to study subspace mechanics, abandoning his writing career and marriage in the process.
Finally, fifty years later, the wormhole is to undergo another inversion. With the help of Dax, Dr. Bashir, and Nog (now a Captain in Starfleet), Jake attempts to recreate the events with the Defiant. The rescue seems to be going well when a malfunction occurs sending Jake into the white void of subspace with his father. During this brief “visit”, Jake, who is now older than his own father, explains that he’s brought the Defiant back to the wormhole to rescue him. Sisko is disappointed that Jake has abandoned his writing and marriage in order to save him. Realising the rescue attempt is failing, he tells Jake to “let go”, and begs him to promise he’ll return to his true passions and live out his life for his own sake. Jake returns to normality without his father and tries to figure out what went wrong with the rescue attempt. But eventually he honours his father’s request to rebuild his life by returning to writing.
On the night of Melanie’s visit, Jake knows his father will appear again, and has injected himself with a lethal hypospray dose, believing that he is acting as a tether that is keeping his father frozen in time; by dying when Captain Sisko is present, Jake will allow his father to become unstuck and return to a time before the warp core incident. After seeing Melanie off, Jake waits for his father. Sisko appears as expected, and Jake explains everything to him, telling him that his death will give them both a “second chance”, and reminds him to dodge the energy discharge. Jake dies in Sisko’s arms; Sisko immediately finds himself back on the Defiant, and remembers elder Jake’s advice, pushing himself and his son out of the way of the energy discharge, erasing the future timeline. As they return home together, Sisko gains a greater appreciation for his son, knowing Jake would have given up his life for his father.
Star Trek TV Series
You can find a full index of Star Trek TV series here.
Star Trek TV Series, Films, and Documentaries
You can find a full index of all Star Trek TV series, films, documentaries here.
Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): David Livingston.
- Writer(s): Michael Taylor.
- Release Date: 09 October 1995.
- Running Time: 45 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.