Father/Son Bonding, expectations and self esteem are explored in the episode that originally aired on May 8, 1995, this is Explorers.
Station Log Stardate Undetermined: Explorers
Sisko builds an ancient Bajoran Spacecraft to prove that Bajoran explorers could have reached Cardassia without developing warp drive. Meanwhile, the friendship between Miles and Julian deepens.
Story A: The Past celebrated, the future explored
Ben Sisko arrives from Bajor with documents depicting 800 year old ships that allowed the people of Bajor to explore the planets without warp speed. The Commander is excited and he decides that he wants to build one.
Ben informs his ops team that he will begin building a light ship in one of the cargo bays much to their surprise. Even though O’Brien swears the ship can not be space worthy, the Commander begins his task, building the ship by hand. Later, at dinner, Ben asks his son to join him on his journey only to have Jake turn him down. Disappointed but not dissuaded, Ben continues his work on the lightship in the ship. Soon Jake receives an unexpected message and decides to join his father on the journey, much to the delight of his father.
Just before launch, Commander Sisko is contacted by Gul Dukat who can not believe that Ben is attempting this journey. After failing to convince the Commander otherwise, Ben and Jake set out on their journey.
Underway, Jake reveals that he has been writing and informs his father that he has been offered a Fellowship to the Pennington School back on Earth. His father is happy at Jake’s success but just as they begin discussing the school, a loud crashing sound interrupts them. It appears that one of the sails is damaged and must be jettisoned in order for the ship to survive. Disappointed in the damage, Ben is about to call it quits when Jake reminds him that the ancient Bajoran’s didn’t give up and neither should they.
Finally underway, Jake and Ben discuss Jake’s future at the Academy. While Ben is pleased that his son wants to further his education, Jake is concerned that his father will be all alone on the station. It seems that Jake has arranged a date for his father much to Commander Sisko’s surprise. Just as they begin laughing, another crashing sound occurs as the lightship begins to gain speed. It appears that somehow the small ship began to move at warp. Ben soon realizes that the warp was initiated due to tachyon eddies in the area, something that he did not account for. With the ship damaged, Ben realizes that he needs to contact the station for help but is shocked to discover that they are out of range and can not reach DS9.
Lost in space with no way to contact the station, the two begin trying to repair the damage done in order to get underway or be saved. Just as they begin to talk again, three Cardassian ships appear and they are surprised to be contacted by Gul Dukat. Dukat informs the two that they made it all the way to the Cardassian system and Dukat has arrived to congratulate them and inform them that the Cardassians have discovered an ancient crash site with the very same model vessel that Sisko and his son built.
Story B: The Past feared, the future unknown
Bashir flirts with Leeta the Dabo Girl when he finds out that the Lexington is arriving in three weeks with an old friend, Elisabeth Lense who he lost the Valedictorian potion to several years prior.
Dax soon finds Julian distraught over the upcoming visit from his old school mate. He reveals that ever since losing out on Valedictorian, he has always felt second best to Lense who he feels is a threat to his career. Later, After Odo informs Julian of the Lexington’s arrival, Julian goes to Quark’s to meet with Elisabeth. Upon arriving, he realizes he doesn’t know how to talk to her and misses out on his opportunity by waiting too long causing Officer Lense to walk right past him.
After a drunken night with O’Brien, Julian gathers the courage to talk to Elisabeth Lense. Elisabeth is shocked to learn that he is Julian Bashir as she believed he was an Andorian. He is surprised to learn that Lense is not thrilled with her life on the USS Lexington and envy’s Julian’s posting on DS9. She is impressed with his work on the station so far and finds herself wanting more out of her career.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
After the intense two parter, this episode is a nice change of pace providing a calm and fun exploration story that touches on themes history, family and self confidence.
While it starts out as a journey to prove that ancient Bajorans were able to travel in space without warp drive, for Ben in Jake it became much more than that. Jake is growing up, both physically and emotionally. No longer the same small boy he was when they first arrived on the station, Ben has to accept that his son will be on his own soon and this is not easy for Ben to accept. Remembering a time when he and Jake would do everything together, the Bajoran Lightship was more of a way to have one last bonding experience with his son than anything else. Sure, he loved being able to stick it to Dukat when it came to Bajoran history, but that is just icing on the cake.
For Julian it is a matter of confidence. Since missing out at the Valedictorian spot at his school, he has always felt inferior to the person who beat him out. This one thing has been a driving factor in his Star Fleet career forcing him to try to be better at everything because he always felt second best. It is not until he learns that Lense herself is envious of his posting that he realizes that the old saying is true, the grass is always greener…
All in all, it may be a filler episode, but man it was a fun one.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- Once again we are reminded that Bashir once confused a Pre-ganglionic Fiber for a Post-ganglionic Nerve.
- We never see nor hear about the light ship again. You would think Sisko would have had it hanging in the Promenade or something.
- We get another mention of Jake’s writing talents, something that will be explored further as the series progresses.
- This is the first time Cassidy Yates is mentioned on the series, although not by name. That freighter Captain…yeah, she’ll show up.
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Late To The Game 6/27/2021 (Originally published 7/29/19)
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