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Star Trek DS9 - Season 3 - Episode 22

Star Trek DS9 - 3x22 - Explorers

Originally Aired: 1995-5-8

Sisko builds a new version of an ancient Bajoran space vessel in an effort to prove the truth behind an 800-year-old legend. [DVD]

My Rating - 7

Fan Rating Average - 5.86

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Filler Quotient: 0, not filler, do not skip this episode.
- Numerous major long term plot threads are serviced here.

- How is a ship made of wood supposed to fly through space or especially survive a planetary landing? The friction generated by the atmospheric reentry would burn the ship up! It would burn up a ship made of metal without a properly constructed heat shield. Did the writers of this episode consider the events of Apollo 13?
- The uniforms of the Lexington crew members were TNG style. But by this time, even the Enterprise crew members no longer wore those uniforms. So what gives?

- This is the first episode to mention a bathroom on Star Trek.

Remarkable Scenes
- Bashir's message to Jadzia on the PADD: "GO AWAY"
- Kira calling O'Brien a Cardassian and O'Brien calling Kira a Romulan.
- Bashir and O'Brien drinking and singing together.
- Ben and Jake's arrival in Cardassian space.
- Morn Appearances; 1. Seen a couple of times in the first scene. 2. Seen with Quark just after the Lexington docks. 3. Observes as Bashir finally talks with Lense.

My Review
This is a very good episode if we overlook the technical issues regarding the ancient Bajoran starship. Frankly, if the writing was a little more careful, they could have avoided the technical problems easily. So in light of such a good episode, I'll just ignore these issues since it's just a matter of replacing a few throw away lines with a few other throw away lines anyway. It's nice to see Jake has finally decided what he wants to do with his life: be a writer. Also O'Brien gets drunk with Julian, proving their friendship has finally developed. Or at least that O'Brien definitely "no longer hates" Julian anymore. We also get to see Bashir's rival Dr. Elizabeth Lense, who took Bashir's rightful place as valedictorian at medical school, which is a nice novelty. Finally, watching Dukat eat crow and throw a celebration for Sisko was most amusing.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From JRPoole on 2009-02-23 at 11:38pm:
    This episode should have won an Emmy or a Hugo for art direction; the ship is a cool idea and it's rendered beautifully. It's done so well I don't really mind the technical problems.

  • From JRPoole on 2009-02-25 at 11:58am:
    I wanted to add that the only problem I have with this episode is timing. The proverbial shit just hit the fan in the Delta Quadrant and the dominion pretty much destroyed the Tal Shi'ar (sp?) and the Obsidian Order. They alsod made it clear that the Federation and the Klingons were next. I find it a little hard to believe that Sisko would make a journey like this one with all this going on.

    The ship itself is awesome. I don't really mind the technical problems. We can rationalize that the lumber was for unexposed parts of the ship, and it might even be that the ship itself wasn't blasted into space or designed to return to Bajor through the atmosphere. Sisko seems obsesses with recreating it exactly, and it seems that the ship is already in space when he boards it. Perhaps the ancient Bajorans had rocket technology and assembled the ship in orbit somehow. Regardless, this is still a good episode, one of the most memorable stand-alone episodes in DS9, perhaps in all of Trek.
  • From djb on 2009-10-28 at 2:59am:
    I liked this episode too, though it seems strange that an "ancient" Bajoran solar sailing ship would be sophisticated enough to be ... IN SPACE, yet not have an onboard computer navigation system. Kind of backwards.

    Anyway, I'm mainly commenting to complain about the spoiler you put in your review, about the future between Sisko and Yates. I did not know about this, as I am watching the episodes in order and have not seen much of DS9 at all before watching it now. I prefer to let the show unfold at its own pace and not know what happens later. Naturally a few spoilers are almost inevitable, but this was a big one and was unnecessary in my opinion. I enjoy reading reviews on your site, but will stop if you continue to put spoilers like that in.
  • From Kethinov on 2009-10-28 at 6:40am:
    Sorry. :(

    You will see a few more here and there but they are rare and accidental. I've been working to strip them out.

    Be advised that comments posted on reviews will not be held to the same standard.
  • From rpeh on 2010-07-29 at 4:30pm:
    The first time I watched this episode it really annoyed me. Second time around.... it annoys me a bit less.

    The technical problems with the solar sail make the whole idea cringe-worthy. Rigging? Rigging was for sailors to climb, not to adjust sails with! The sail is nowhere near large enough and far too complex. Compare to the more sensible description of a sail used for manned transport in The Mote in God's Eye (book) where the sail is roughly as large as a moon. More, you don't just gain propulsion from light, you gain it from the solar wind - and you can't tack against it. It's like this whole script was written by somebody who had heard the phrase but never got beyond that. You can even hear the "wind" rippling the sails in the exterior shots, and the "fireworks" in space at the end. Good grief!

    On the sail ship, they consult paper charts. This is in a series where huge storms appear with no warning just about anywhere, yet the charts are treated as accurate. Jake refers to losing the "jib and port mailsail". Just.... look that up so I don't have to describe how wrong it is. I could honestly write about another 1000 words about the technical problems here.

    The timing, as another poster mentioned, is just awful! From full-on, 100% action we get to an episode where the characters have to fill time by mentioning there's no sound, not even an engine! You can almost hear the gears on the DS9 engine grinding as the change-down occurs.

    Second time around, the timing issue didn't matter as much, but it made me watch the B-plot more, and... it doesn't really exist. A few scenes with no real character development.

    The technical issues are almost inexcusable! We *know* how to make solar sails, so the details can be accurate for once! The other plot details are inconsequential. But... somehow I quite like this episode. If this had been a TNG show, there'd have been loads of preaching nonsense. In this show, it just happened. I'll give it a 5.

    Okay... I'll stop ranting now.
  • From Popescu on 2010-08-24 at 7:03pm:
    People, please stop whining about this episode, especially about the science behind it.

    I've just watched the special features released for each season of DS9 and the guy who created the solar sailing ship described these issues and why he choose to make it that way. He was aware of the things you are posting about here.
  • From John on 2011-09-13 at 7:13pm:
    blah blah blah the science is all wrong blah blah blah WHO CARES!?

    This is a delightful and very well-done character-driven episode focusing on Ben and Jake Sisko. I have always loved the way the writers dealt with the Sisko family relationships, and the way Avery Brooks and Cirroc Lofton (and later Brock Peters too) portrayed it. I realize that some folks don't particularly care for the Jake character, but I've always liked him. His presence helps add depth to the otherwise straight-up badass Sisko. Don't get me wrong -- I love badass Sisko -- but it's nice to know that's not all that he is.

    This episode isn't about the science of solar sailing, it's about bonding between father and son. If you can watch it with that in mind, and ignore the "bad science", you'll actually enjoy it quite a bit.
  • From Shaa on 2012-04-07 at 5:18pm:
    But, and please bear with me, what about the freaking sails? Why were they necessary? According to Newton, without friction, that ship would go just fine without a need for sails. Also, when they jumped into Warp, they should've stayed at that speed. The sails wouldn't have slowed them down, there would be no friction causing resistance in the sails to slow the ship down. They should've flown forever. Also, how would the ancient Bajorins have taken off??? No motor, just sails, how would they achieve any sort of upward motion? I am so confused! Am I not understanding some underlying concept here. Because based on my high school knowledge of physics, this doesn't make sense.
  • From Lt. Fitz on 2012-06-25 at 8:10pm:
    I've noticed a few times in Trek when an engine goes out or power is lost, space vehicles slow down. It's hard for my mind get past this, but I just have to accept that it's the physics in the Trek universe. Space has friction.

    I really loved this episode. I said to myself as soon as it was over, "This was a great character-driven episode, not a great sci fi episode."
  • From Gul Ranek on 2012-12-26 at 6:17am:
    The solar sail is actually based in real world science - the Sun emits a stream of particles (mostly electrons and protons) which could actually propel a craft. See more here:

    This was a decent character episode, and I agree that it was a bit out of place compared to the events of the previous two episodes, but so are the next three episodes before the season finale, I guess.

    While I love every appearance of Gul Dukat (Marc Alaimo is simply brilliant in the role), I was surprised when the Cardassian government threw a firework display and so openly congratulated Bajor on their accomplishment. I expected for Dukat to have the lightship towed back to DS9, saying that it violated Cardassian space, or something to that extent.
  • From Dstyle on 2013-10-24 at 2:32pm:
    I don't want to jump on the "bad science" bandwagon, but... the solar ship jumps to warp, faster than the speed of light, and somehow Jake and Sisko DON'T end up splattered to bits all over the back of the ship? So I guess the ancient Bajorans didn't have the technology to create an artificial gravity net, but they somehow had inertial dampeners?
  • From Dubhan on 2014-07-20 at 12:55am:
    What? No mention of the fact that this is the episode where Sisko "grew the beard!?"

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