“It’s Only a Paper Moon” is the 160th episode of the television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and the tenth episode of the seventh season.
Directed by Anson Williams, the episode was written by Ronald D. Moore and based on a pitch by David Mack and John J. Ordover, who had previously written “Starship Down” from season 4.
After having his leg replaced after a battle injury (in “The Siege of AR-558“), and following months of rehabilitation at Starbase 235, Nog returns to Deep Space 9. He suffers flashbacks of his injury and feels pain in his new leg, even though the doctors do not detect any physical pain stimuli. The crew greets him warmly and intends to throw him a party, but Nog instead secludes himself in his quarters, sleeping most of the day and listening to a recording by Vic Fontaine of “I’ll Be Seeing You” on repeat. When Jake becomes fed up with the constant repetition, Nog seeks out Vic in Quark’s holosuite. After hearing Vic perform the song in every arrangement he knows, Nog convinces Vic to allow him to stay in his suite at the hotel for the night. Nog then decides to stay long-term, and with some disagreement among the senior staff, as well as Nog’s family, and with assurances from Vic of his ability to help, counsellor Ezri Dax consents to the idea to see where it leads.
Vic and Nog bond quickly, but at the expense of Nog’s relations with his friends and family; he gets in a fight with Jake and a meeting with his father Rom and stepmother Leeta is short and awkward. Vic and Nog continue to grow closer, and as a Ferengi, Nog is happy to help Vic with his finances, and even recommends Vic expand his business. The two plan to build a new casino, and as Nog becomes more confident, he relies less and less on his cane. Ezri, impressed by Vic’s results, reminds him that Nog needs to leave soon; Vic had been enjoying himself so much that he had forgotten Nog was there for rehabilitation. Vic then urges Nog to leave, and when he refuses, Vic self-terminates the programme, forcing Nog back into the real world.
Nog attempts to restart the holosuite, but Miles O’Brien, having detected his efforts from Ops, explains to Nog that Vic can prevent his own programme from starting. O’Brien tells Nog that everyone misses him before leaving him alone. Vic then appears, and Nog finally admits the emotional trauma his injury caused and his fear of death; Vic counters that if he stays in the holosuite, he’ll still die, “not all at once, but little by little”. Nog returns to limited duty but convinces Quark to leave the programme running all the time to return the favour to Vic and to give him a chance at a “real” life.
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Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Anson Williams.
- Writer(s): David Mack and John J. Ordover.
- Release Date: 30 December 1998.
- Running Time: 45 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.