Jumanji meets Star Trek in the episode that originally aired on March 14, 1993. This is Move Along Home.
Station log Stardate undetermined: Move Along Home
In a First Contact situation with a new species known as the Wadi, several of the crew find themselves a part of a game that could spell the end of their lives.
Preparing for a First Contact situation, Sisko and the crew greet the Wadi at the airlock only to learn they are more interested in Games at Quarks than they are with diplomacy.
Taking the new people to Quark’s Bar, the Ferengi host is concerned that this new species will not be able to pay for their time. Quark immediately introduces their leader Falow to the game Dabo where Quark finds that his new guests have little to gamble with. After hours of playing, Quark finds that these new aliens are too good at their games and seem to be running his business into the ground. Recognizing that this will kill his business, Quark decides to cheat the Wadi people only to be caught in the act. With the Wadi disappointed at Quark and his methods, they give him a chance to make amends by playing one of their games. A game called Chula where the objective is to ‘move along home’. Meanwhile, as the crew sleep, Sisko finds himself transported to somewhere not on the station. The Game has begun.
Finding himself alone, Sisko begins working his way through the alien corridors. Initially thinking he is in a holosuite, he soon learns that this is in fact a real place. Before long he runs into Falo who tells him to ‘Move Along Home’. Soon after he is greeted by the cries of Doctor Bashir causing him to find Kira and Dax as well. Discovering they can contact one another via their combadges, the group split up to explore their surroundings.
The next morning Jake brings it to Odo’s attention that his father is missing. After checking with the computer, Odo discovers that Commander Sisko and all of the senior officers are missing. Reporting to Ops, Odo finds Lt Primmin unaware of the situation. Odo and launches into action, determined to find the missing crewmen.
Back at Quark’s Bar, Quark continues playing the game although he does not understand the rules, nor is he aware of the stakes at hand. In the game the senior staff find a young girl playing a version of hopscotch reciting a poem and skipping across the room. When Kira attempts to go across the room she runs into a force field preventing her from passing through. It is only when Dax mimics the girls poem and movements that they are able to cross the room to safety. Outside of the game, Quark wins the round and is presented with a choice, the short or the long path. Each have their own perils and rewards. When Odo arrives telling Quark that four officers are missing, Quark realizes that the pieces he are playing with are none other than his fellow crewmen. Knowing the stakes, he chooses the safer path. In the game, the quartet find themselves in a smoke filled room with a group of people who are drinking an interesting beverage. They soon find themselves unable to breath although those around them do nothing but drink and laugh. It is not until Bashir indulges in the drinks that he realizes that the beverage is the antidote allowing them to progress to shap four.
Odo transports to the Wadi ship after detecting a strange energy signal aboard it. Bursting in he finds himself back at Quark’s Bar where Falo tells them that should they end the game, they will lose their players. Odo and Quark have no choice but to finish the game at hand. Quark rolls the dice and is told that it was a rather unfortunate roll. In the game a series of lights appear and pluck Bashir from the game just as Falo pulls the piece from the game. Knowing that the lives of the crew are at hand, Quark chooses to take the difficult route believing that he understands the odds. Rolling the dice Falo tells Quark to sacrifice one so that two may live. Now Quark must choose which player is removed. Quark, unable to choose, begs to be allowed to not choose one to sacrifice. Falo complies and lets the game choose for them.
In the game they find themselves being called by Julian into a cave. While in there Dax finds herself trapped in a rock-slide. Just when they believe they have found an exit, Falo appears and tells them to Move Along Home to shap six. Dax is hurt however and despite the others carrying her, they find themselves overlooking a cliff with no option to get her across. Choosing to not give up on Dax, the three decide to stick together only to fall into the chasm below. Just as it looks like they are going to die, they find themselves back in Quark’s Bar unscathed. Quark soon learns that he actually lost the game despite the fact that the crewmen survived the experience. Shocked at the turn of events, Sisko demands to know what they had just gone through when Falo replies, ‘It’s only a game’.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
We are nearing the halfway point of the season and there has not been a bad episode yet. When this episode came around to review I was not looking forward to it. In fact I remember this episode being a bit of a disappointment. Boy was I wrong. In fact, I think this is one of the best episodes so far this season.
The Wadi are a culture based on gaming and that alone makes them interesting. With how gaming oriented our society is now as opposed to when this first aired, this episode really resonates more so today. Now days every kind of game is celebrated, from tv shows about tabletop games to even professional gaming league for hot video game franchises, our culture has become more like the Wadi than ever before. We love to be entertained and that, it seems, is all the Wadi care about as well.
The story itself is not unlike Jumanji combined with an escape room only with the players being unaware of their participation. Imagine waking up in a strange world without any knowledge of what is going on only to discover you are in a game. It would be mind blowing but, if it were part of your culture you really wouldn’t know any different. As video games become more immersive, and people want more unique experiences, games like this could very well become a reality. Maybe not physically transporting people to new locations, but with the advent of immersive VR, one could actually blend the Virtual experience with an actual board game making it both a table top and a video game with multiple layers of experience depending on what part you choose to play.
Everyone in the cast does a marvelous job but the real stand out is Armin Shimerman as Quark. This is the first time we really get to spend quality time with the Ferengi Barkeep save for the occasional interlude with Odo and it was well worth the wait. Playing on his sense of greed, the Wadi pretty much trap him into playing a game that he eventually believes to be a real threat to his fellow crewmen. We get a chance to see that Quark really does care about the people on the station but, even though he is concerned about them, he isn’t afraid to wager on their lives if it means a little profit. There is a wonderful scene where he literally begs to be free from choosing a player to sacrifice and this scene alone is worth the price of admission.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
First time we have seen Jake Sisko since the episode Babel.
We learn that Keiko and Miles O’Brien are still off the station visiting family on Earth.
Julian Bashir complains about not having his dress uniform swearing that he packed it. Shouldn’t he have been able to replicate one?
This is the last we see of Lt Primmin and it is never explained what happened to him.
We never see nor hear from the Wadi again but I would like to think they made it to Earth and discovered the latest Holodeck program featuring a Pathfinder or D&D adventure path. Those stories would make Chula look like…a game.
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Late To The Game 12/12/2020 (Originally published 3/15/19)
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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