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Past Tense, Part II (episode)

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With history itself at stake, Sisko must risk all to see that the Bell Riots reach their inevitable conclusion, even if it means sacrificing his life...


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After moving the hostages into a building, Biddle Coleridge tells his friends to shoot any hostage that moves. Posing as the late Gabriel Bell, Benjamin Sisko takes control of the volatile hostage situation in the Sanctuary District by convincing Coleridge that they need the hostages alive as a bargaining chip. Suddenly Vin bursts into the room holding a gun. Coleridge is about to shoot him when Sisko tackles Vin against a wall. In the chaos a shot is accidentally fired and Bashir calms a frightened Lee. Coleridge wants an access code to the net and Bernardo Calvera agrees to help. Bashir expresses his concern about Sisko posing as Gabriel Bell because Bell historically died when guards stormed the building. Sisko says that he is not Bell. Sisko enlists the help of Michael Webb to recruit gimmies, people that he trusts to guard the hostages and to watch over the volatile ghosts as well. Meanwhile, Jadzia Dax sees news coverage of the event at Chris Brynner's apartment and realizes that she must get into the District to help save Sisko and Bashir.

On the USS Defiant, Kira Nerys and Miles O'Brien have narrowed the possible time periods to 10 possibilities but due to the limited number of chroniton particles they have a finite number of trips they can take, not enough to cover all of the possible timeframes. Kira feels ridiculous that she has to wear a bandage on her nose to disguise her Bajoran heritage, and O'Brien advises her to say nothing and let him do all the talking. On their first attempt, they land in 1930 and find no evidence of the team's presence. Before they can leave, they run into a couple leaving a party who looks at them and then runs off.

Coleridge is outraged that gimmies are guarding the hostages, but Sisko emphasizes the importance of having people they can trust. Coleridge tells Sisko and Webb that he intends to trade the hostages for freedom – amnesty, credit chips and the ability to go anywhere they want. Coleridge wants to go to Tasmania, the birthplace of Errol Flynn. However Sisko says that they must think of the other 10,000 people as well and that they would not make it far before they were caught. Webb supports Sisko and they agree to campaign for the closure of Sanctuary districts, jobs for the residents and the reinstatement of the Federal Employment Act.

Sisko convinces Webb to act as a representative of the District to speak to the outside world. As they try to get their position across their connection is broken by the police as per department policy in these situations. However, Detective Preston, a police negotiator from the SFPD, offers to speak to Webb in person. Sisko accompanies Webb to the meeting and states their demands: Close down the Sanctuaries and re-instate the Federal Employment Act. Preston agrees to relay their demands to Governor Robert Chen and also agrees to do her best to supply the residents with breakfast.

Bashir finds out that Lee is hypoglycemic and offers to help her find treatment. Lee realizes that Sisko (posing as Bell) initially gave her a false name and Bashir explains that "Bell" had run into some trouble. Lee reveals that she processed a woman with a warrant on her for abandoning her child because she could not take care of him and left him with a family she worked for. Lee felt sorry for her and did not log her into the system which would have alerted the police, instead letting her disappear into the Sanctuary. Lee's supervisor almost fired her when the incident was revealed. Lee does not know what happened to the woman but she thinks about her all the time. Bashir explains that it's not her fault the way things are.

While most of the guards are sleeping, Vin almost gets his hands on a weapon and Coleridge holds a gun to him. However Sisko intervenes by pointing his gun towards Coleridge and prepares to shoot him. Coleridge sees that Sisko is serious and puts his gun down. Sisko threatens Vin not to do anything stupid again and Vin asks him to let the hostages go. Sisko impatiently says that Vin and the others who work at the Sanctuary just don't get it – they work here and see the injustices suffered by the people every day and that it would be a start for Vin and the others to acknowledge it.

Kira O'Brien Peace

Kira and O'Brien arrive in 1967.

Meanwhile on another attempt to find Sisko and the others, Kira and O'Brien end up in 1967 surrounded by a flowered Combi van and loud rock music. Two hippies come out of the van and gives flowers and a peace sign to a perplexed Kira and O'Brien who awkwardly sign peace back. As they are transported away the male hippie simply says "wow".

True to her promise, Preston has supplied muffins and fruit juice for the residents. Danny comes inside to find his father to be with him. Webb agrees he can stay for a while but says that Danny must go when he says so. Bashir has managed to find some glucogen in the clinic and provides treatment for Lee. Bashir tells Calvera (who is worried about his family) that something good will come from all of this.

A short time later Preston returns with the Governor's response: he'll reduce the charges against Bell and Webb if they release the hostages. Sisko and Webb ask whether the Sanctuary will be closed and jobs offered and Preston says the Governor intends to form a committee to look into the matter and that change takes time. They both reject this offer.

Dax manages to find her way into the Sanctuary District through some underground pipes, where she has her combadge stolen by a mental resident named Grady. Meanwhile Sisko and Bashir try to get past the lockout to the Net without luck. In the previous past a way was found to get past the lockout and many people were able to tell their stories to the world. Dax is reunited with Sisko and Bashir who explain that they can not leave because history must be allowed to run its course. Dax recovers her combadge with Bashir's help and returns to Chris Brynner who initially has doubts about helping the residents as he will lose his interface license for turning the channel over to criminals. Dax asks Brynner to give the residents a voice because people have the right to know and that when the Government storms the Sanctuary people will die and those deaths should not be for nothing. Brynner agrees to help restore the processing center's computer link because, although he will lose his license, he will get great ratings. Once this is done the residents are given the chance to tell their stories to millions around the planet through the network. Unfortunately, despite pleas from Preston, the governor is unmoved by their plight and sends in troops at 0500.

Kira and O'Brien realize that the team arrived before 2048 as it was drastically different to the 2048 of unaltered time. Using this information they narrow the possibilities to 3 dates, but have only enough chroniton particles for one more attempt. They materialize at the corner of Polk and California and realize they hit the correct time period when they contact Dax on her combadge. In the meantime, Sisko and Webb try to keep the hostages safe as SWAT teams move in without regard to the lives of the hostages. Webb sends away Danny and Coleridge gives Danny his hat. When the troops open fire, Webb is killed along with a number of others while Sisko takes a bullet protecting Vin. Vin and Calvera are shocked by the bodies lying on the street outside. As the National Guard takes control of the situation, the grateful Vin allows Sisko and Bashir to escape by switching their ID cards with two of the dead. So it appears, as before, that Gabriel Bell died while trying to save the hostages. As he leaves, Sisko asks Vin to tell everyone the truth about the incident. Vin responds that he had planned to anyway.

Soon Sisko, Dax and Bashir are returned to the 24th Century with history now having following its correct course. As Sisko recovers from his gunshot wound in his quarters on the Defiant, Bashir visits and shows him one unexpected consequence of their visit to the past... Federation historical records show Benjamin's portrait in an entry regarding Gabriel Bell. Julian asks him, from having seen the 21st century, how the people of that time could have let things get so bad. Sisko tells him "That's a good question. I wish I had an answer."

Memorable quotesEdit

"It's not your fault things are the way they are."
"Everybody tells themselves that. And nothing ever changes."

- Julian Bashir and Lee

"This is great! We're on every channel. I bet they're watching this in China!"

- B.C., on the news coverage of the riots

"I knew this was a waste of time. They don't care. No one cares about us."
"Why should they? You're all a bunch of losers."
"What did you say?'"
"He didn't say anything."
"You heard me. I called you a loser because that's what you are. And this time, you're going to lose big."

- B.C., Vin and Bernardo

"You really going to shoot me, Bell? I don't think so."
"Think again."
"I thought we were on the same side here!"
"We are, but you get on my nerves... and I don't like your hat."

- B.C. and Benjamin Sisko as Gabriel Bell

"Now... you get back in that room and shut up!"

- Benjamin Sisko, as Gabriel Bell, to Vin


- Hippie guy, after witnessing O'Brien and Kira beam up

"Woosh! I'm invisible."
"If you say so."
"You can see me?"
"Just barely."

- Grady, Jadzia Dax, and Julian Bashir

"I'm a hostage, you idiot!"

- SWAT officer and Vin

"You know, Commander, having seen a little of the 21st century, there is one thing I don't understand: how could they have let things get so bad?"
"That's a good question. I wish I had an answer."

- final lines, spoken by Julian Bashir and Benjamin Sisko

Background informationEdit

Story and scriptEdit

  • According to Behr, the presentation of the character of B.C. in this episode is the key to the overriding theme. In "Past Tense, Part I", B.C. kills Gabriel Bell in cold blood, but in Part II, it is never mentioned that he is a murderer. The reason for this, according to Behr, is that B.C. would never have killed Bell if society hadn't forced him into that position. B.C. was not inherently a killer, and Behr was determined that the episode not become all about Sisko and Bashir trapped with a cold-blooded murderer. Behr says he is especially proud of the character of B.C., who he feels illustrates the notion that "if you treat people like animals, they become animals. If B.C. had not been homeless, what would he have been? We created his backstory, stuff that would never appear on the screen, and decided he probably would have been a garage mechanic or something. Even though he's obviously a threatening, scary character, and he's on-the-edge-crazy all through both shows, we didn't define him as a murderer." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)


Boxing Poster from Past Tense, Part II

Boxing poster

Bermans Rainbow Dreamers poster

Berman's Rainbow Dreamers at the Behr Theatre (designed by Jim Martin)

  • Clint Howard, who plays Grady in this episode, earlier portrayed Balok in the Original Series episode "The Corbomite Maneuver". However, the character of Grady was actually written for Iggy Pop, who turned out to be unavailable at the time. Ira Steven Behr would eventually get to cast Pop in the sixth season episode "The Magnificent Ferengi". (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • The boxing advertisement seen in the 1930 scene with Kira and O'Brien showcases the same boxers as an advertisement seen in The Original Series episode "The City on the Edge of Forever". (The ad from "The City on the Edge of Forever" is for a bout at Madison Square Garden; the ad seen in this episode is for a bout at Bay Land Garden, and notes that it is "their first rematch since Madison Square Garden".) The reason this poster was used was to give a subtle hint that O'Brien and Kira were on Earth at exactly the same time as Kirk and Spock. (Deep Space Nine Chronicles)
  • Doug Drexler says that the poster was included because the scene (featuring "time travelers popping into an urban setting") was almost identical to one in "City". [1](X)
  • The advertisement seen in the sixties scene advertises a band called Berman's Rainbow Dreamers at the Behr Theater.
  • David Bell composed the music for the episode. Bell commented: "Well, Dennis [McCarthy] had done part one, and in that case I looked at the score he had done and used a similar harmonic vocabulary, the same chords and orchestrations, and that was fun because I've listened to Dennis's scores and tried to emulate them and I've never really done that before, to get a close look at another composer's mind. Dennis has quite a mind, by the way! (The Music of Star Trek, p 191)


  • Jonathan Frakes commented "That was an epic, truly an epic. That was the best DS9 episode that I got and that was Ira Behr. When you are a director, you are assigned a show and you don't have any say; it's very much the luck of the draw. Some are better than others; some are great. This was great". (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages p 90)
  • "Past Tense, Part II" was Frakes' third and final DS9 directing credit, and it was his direction of this episode which secured him the job of directing Star Trek: First Contact. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • Alexander Siddig feels that both "Past Tense, Part I" and "Past Tense, Part II" were important shows for Bashir: "This show was the end of the old Bashir and the beginning of the new, more responsible Bashir. Bashir had proved to everyone and himself that he can handle very tricky situations with almost no backup and no gizmos, not even the shotgun Sisko had. It became conceivable that Bashir would be your first or second choice on an away team if you were going on a combat mission. I think they were a renaissance pair of shows for Bashir." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • When this episode aired, it received some criticism for being too preachy, liberal and "soap box like", something which disappointed Ira Steven Behr, who felt that the show had important things to say and that it treated a serious situation in a realistic manner; "We're not going to solve anything with two hours of TV. The homeless are still there. The problem hasn't gone away. But maybe just one person saw this and started to see the problem in a different way. In 1995, Forrest Gump was the feel-good movie of the year. Yes, it's important to feel good and I'm not putting that down. But in reality, in 1995, Forrest Gump would be homeless. I just thought it was important to show the other side." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • Ira Steven Behr also commented that (several months after the two-parter aired) "People are still even writing that we only presented 'one side' in "Past Tense" and that we should have presented 'both sides' and not just the 'liberal' point of view – and I'm still trying to think what that means. In other words, we should have showed the positive aspects of putting the homeless into concentration camps? And I do admit we probably failed in that – we really did not show the many, many wonderful aspects of life without money and living in over-crowded camps". ("The Behr Necessities, Star Trek Monthly, issue 12)
  • Colm Meaney commented "On Next Generation they were dealing with more philosophical ponderings where we on DS9 tend to deal with more hands-on immediate crises that I think of as more resonant with the problems we have in the world today. The two-part episode last year with the homeless I thought was just superb. And the response to that from all the people involved in homeless social action was extraordinary! To find a show on popular TV where you can do work like that is extraordinary! I think that's probably the single main difference. We connect more with contemporary issues, issues relevant to the 1990s, than did Next Generation". ("Mr. Goodwrench", Star Trek Communicator issue 105 p. 20)


Video and DVD releasesEdit

Links and referencesEdit

Main castEdit

Guest starsEdit



Uncredited co-starsEdit

Stunt double Edit

Stand-ins Edit


alternate timeline; American history; automobile; Bajoran; baseball; battalion; Bay Land Garden; Bell Riots; Blue Zone; Bokai, Buck; Burke, Helen; brewery; California; California Street; cellular phone; Channel 90; Chen, Robert; ChemTech Industries; China; chocolate; chroniton particles; combadge; concussion bomb; credit chip; Defiant, USS; detective; dim; distress signal; District Police; doctor; Earth; e-mail; electrostatic charge; Federal Employment Act; Flynn, Errol; football; gesture; ghost; gimmie; glucagon; governor; guest list; helicopter; Jimi Hendrix Experience, The (Jimi Hendrix); Hess, Julie; "Hey Joe"; historical database; hypoglycemia; Identification card; incitement to riot; interface; interface operating license; interface terminal; jazz; jeans; London Kings; Marina; National Guard; net; New York Yankees; penthouse; Peterson family; plant manager; Polk Street; Processing Center; quadcycle; ration card; Red Zone; riot; San Francisco; Sanctuary District; Sanctuary District A; Sanitation Department; SFPD; Second Street; sewer; shirt; shotgun; silk; Singapore; slang; sniper; soccer; speakeasy; Starfleet Command; SWAT; Tasmania; temporal displacement; tennis; time travel; Trill; truck; United States of America; van; Webb, Jeannie

Other referencesEdit

External linksEdit

Previous episode:
"Past Tense, Part I"
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season 3
Next episode:
"Life Support"

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