"If Wishes Were Horses"
Airdate: May 16, 1993
16 of 173 produced
16 of 173 aired
Crewmembers' fantasies and imaginary characters start appearing on the station. A famous baseball player walks off the holosuite, and a Dax suddenly very interested in Bashir's advances walks into sickbay. Rumplestilskin appears in the O'Brien's quarters as he is reading Molly the bedtime story. Meanwhile, a spacial anomaly is growing nearby and threatens the station. Are these incidents related? (Spoiler alert: Yes.)
Does it say something weird about me that my first thought during this scene was "Is that a real tattoo?" and my second was "What woman in 1993 has a tattoo like that?"
Kevin: I go back and forth on this episode. The overall episode is not great, but there are many individual moments that are actually quite good. I liked the conversation about the decline of baseball with Bokai, and my usual annoyance with "Bashir as skirt chaser" plot aside, there were a few really good laughs in those scenes. This is also where the baseball on Sisko's desk comes from, and I really like little details like that. I particularly LOVED it when Real Dax calls Bashir on how kinda creepy his fantasy Dax is, but in the same thought genuinely apologizes for the invasion of his private life. It was a credible mature treatment of both aspects of Bashir's fantasy.
Matthew: I agree on Bashir and how Dax reacted. I think the "mental fantasy episode" always runs the risk of not doing enough. For Bashir, it did enough. The Odo fantasy was satisfying. O'Brien's was unsatisfying. But what of the other characters' fantasies? We get Buck Bokai from Jake, not from Commander Sisko. What about Kira? Dax?
Kevin: Rumpelstiltskin was apparently originally a leprechaun, and Colm Meany objected. Sometimes, actors go on egotistical diva tirades and object to things unreasonably. This is not one of those times. We all owe Mr. Meany a debt of gratitude for saving DS9 from its own "Up the Long Ladder." I think my general problem with the episode is that its too scatter shot The fantasies are too diverse, but not detailed enough. I mean is Bashir really the only one fantasizing about sex? How far does the effect go? If Kira wished the Occupation out of existence, would it have happened? It's a lot of the same problems I have with Shore Leave. I think Rumpelstiltskin oddly could have focused the episode. Instead of fantasies in general, the creatures could have focused on fairy tales. It could have been Star Trek meets Sondheim's Into the Woods (Note to self: Make that happen), where many fairy tales are woven together and cracked apart to really explore something about humanity. The focus would have helped.
Matthew: My problem was with the logic of the story as a whole. We discover that the three main fantasies are in fact galactic explorers masquerading as mental images of the station crew. Um, OK, how does that explain the emu? Or snow? Were those explorers, too? Did one of them draw the short straw? (Great. I have to be snow again.) I get the feeling that someone watched "Where No One Has Gone Before," said "cool, let's do that," but then strained to find an explanation that would make the plot materially different. Instead, it was just confused.
Kevin: Once we realize everything is fantasy, the threat becomes meaningless. If you build it right, like in "Remember Me," you can make the imagined problem real enough to be truly threatening, but this was not that episode. They needed to find a way to up the stakes a little, maybe working it more directly into the creatures themselves.
Matthew: I agree. I think there was a moment when we wonder whether there's a nefarious purpose, when the story focuses (quite oddly) on the three fantasy characters, alone, discussing their plans. But it pans out to nothing in the end. "We were inoffensively and non-threateningly curious about you" doesn't really equate to an interesting story hook. One side note - the title makes no sense. The aphorism "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride" has nothing to do with any aspect of this story. There are no beggars, no feckless people idly wishing for things. If, as you suggest, the wishes could have been about grander things like the Occupation, with Twilight Zone-esque consequences, then the title might have made sense. Not with this story, though.
Kevin: Here, I have fewer complaints. I really like Terry Farrel. Her sex kitten schtick was really well done. She really portrayed two different characters to the hilt. I like the scenes between Bokai and Sisko, and O'Brien trying to get Rumpelstiltskin to disappear by saying his name was funnier than it had any right to be. Odo on the Promenade with an emu was also good for a few yucks. It's not the height of acting, but everyone seemed pretty game.
Matthew: I particularly enjoyed Keone Young as Buck Bokai. He really portrayed a baseball player well - not so much in build (I had a hard time believing that a guy with his build could hit 20 dingers or break DiMAggio's hit streak), but in the wistful quality he brought to the role. I really believed that he appreciated Sisko's appearance in the stands. I found Auberjonois' reading of the phrase "Gungi Jackdaw" to be lacking. It seemed clear that the actor was like "WTF" internally, and could never quite wrap his lips around it. It took me out of the episode.
Kevin: Armin Shimerman was also fun in his handful of scenes. More than any actor, he can really sell a small number of scenes when the episode is not about him. The scenes are short but really memorable. We also got a nice snippet of Odo/Quark with the bit about Quark being disgusting "til the day he dies." It's well done humor because it's funny, foremost, and doesn't distract from the episode around it. And who didn't love Quark in the holding cell? A riot, I tell you.
Matthew: That was definitely the funniest scene in the episode. I actually kind of liked Siddig El Fadil here. His portrayal of Bashir as being kind of a BS artist when it came to explaining his other girlfriends to Dax sort of worked for me. As you say, Farrell was quite good. It's a nice breath of fresh air for her character to be more sexy, even if it's in a fantasy.
Kevin: The make-up on Rumpelstiltskin was a little much for me. I liked they worked in the reference to DiMaggio's streak being broken from Big Goodbye, and I like the nod, via the uniform, that baseball decline is marked by its best players not being from or in America.
Matthew: The London Kings uniform was pretty fugly, but I guess that might coincide with baseball's decline (how a team being based in London coincides with this decline is another question entirely). I do feel a bit ripped off that I couldn't see a game in London. I just want to take this opportunity to say that I love the Daedalus class spaceship model in Sisko's ready room.
Kevin: Beyond that, this is pretty much a bottle show, though I will say that the scene on the Promenade was well done, with lots of stuff going on. We got an emu, and a snowstorm, etc. It really took advantage of the large and tiered nature of the Promenade set. I do also wish we had gotten a view of the alleged anomaly, as that could have upped its drama value.
Matthew: You're neglecting the optical effect on the Dax duo. It was... not as bad as "Second Chances," but not as good as it could be. In the quick pan where one Dax walks behind the other, there was a weird stuttering smear effect that made it clear that you weren't watching something that was filmed on one camera.
Kevin: I think this makes is safely into 3 territory. The basic premise is interesting enough, if unevenly executed, but unlike other episodes with conflicts I wasn't terribly invested in, this episode at least had some energy and humor and life to it. It balances out to an entertaining enough hour of television, which justified a 3 for me.
Matthew: Well, it was slightly more ambitious, I'll give it that. But the story still had gross structural flaws, and a lack of a satisfying resolution. The acting was good, and the effects were average. I don't think it's a safe 3, and I considered giving it a 2. But perhaps being mixed in among such other dross really helps this show out. It feels average compared to the boring slog we've gotten. So I'll go with a 3 as well for a 6 total.