"Past Tense" at 25: What Have We Learned?

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine' started by cooleddie74, Jan 8, 2020.

  1. cooleddie74

    cooleddie74 Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2001
    Location:
    The Warped Sector of the Demented Quadrant
    Today - January 8th - marks 25 years since "Past Tense, Part I" was first aired and introduced audiences to Sanctuary Districts and the horror of the Bell Riots, giving Trek arguably its greatest and most impactful piece of social commentary in the history of the franchise. In the narrative of the two-parter which originally aired on January 8 and January 15, 1995, the economy and societal fabric of America had deteriorated in the early 2020s to the point where the unemployed and those without economic prospects were herded into "Sanctuary Districts" inside every major American city - ostensibly for their own good - and left to fester unattended except for daily meals and half-hearted attempts to find jobs for occupants of the Districts. Sisko, Bashir and Jadzia are accidentally transported back in time to the week of the Bell Riots and materialize in San Francisco near Sanctuary District A, Jadzia going unnoticed at first except by a kindhearted but largely oblivious local broadcasting tycoon who takes her under his care and Sisko and Bashir being rounded up by District security and taken inside where they remain confined until the end of the two-parter.

    Chaos ensues as the Riots unfold just as history recorded but the real Gabriel Bell dies, Sisko has to assume his identity to ensure that history isn't changed and the military and police storm the District to free hostages and put an end to the riots with good and heroic people dying in the process. The timeline is preserved(with arguably one small change that goes largely unnoticed by anybody), our heroes return to the year 2371 safe and sound and we learn that treating the downtrodden like nuisances to be shoved under a rug and hidden from view isn't a good recipe for a healthy and prosperous society.

    As we look at the way certain things are unfolding in our present, real-life world these two episodes have become as relevant as ever and show us the direction we could go if we're not careful and don't take proactive measures to prevent. The Earth shown to us in "Past Tense, Parts I and II" isn't yet "real" history nor does it have to be but as the Star Trek franchise has shown us time and time again since 1966 fiction and the creative community can point the way - sometimes clumsily and with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer on the head and other times brilliantly on-point without a lot of flash and pomp - to a better future if we just realize we don't have to settle for the direction that some politicians seem to want to take us.

    What have we learned?
     
    Lynx, kkt, DS9forever and 1 other person like this.
  2. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2013
    Location:
    Bad Thoughts
    We've learned that not all predictions are way off.
     
    Richard S. Ta and KUWTC like this.
  3. Tosk

    Tosk Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2001
    Location:
    On the run.
    Abso-lutely nothing. ...Say it again.

    "You know, Commander, having seen a little of the twenty-first 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."
     
    Coops, Amaris, Shaka Zulu and 3 others like this.
  4. NCC-73515

    NCC-73515 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2019
    Location:
    California
    There was even some discussion on the news about that issue during production, which kinda scared everyone
     
    Shaka Zulu likes this.
  5. F. King Daniel

    F. King Daniel Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2008
    Location:
    King Daniel Beyond
    That nobody learns.
     
    Shaka Zulu likes this.
  6. cooleddie74

    cooleddie74 Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2001
    Location:
    The Warped Sector of the Demented Quadrant
  7. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2013
    Location:
    Bad Thoughts
    "... forgotten how to care ... :" this was a phrase many of us had trouble wrapping out heads around, but it seems to be prescient. The desire and ability to empathize seems to be draining out of us, at least according to a few studies.
     
    Nx-007, Danja, Sidewinder and 2 others like this.
  8. Nyotarules

    Nyotarules Vice Admiral Moderator

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2016
    Location:
    London
    We still hate poor people and think the rich are godlike beings
     
    Coops, Amaris, Dukhat and 6 others like this.
  9. Sakonna

    Sakonna Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2015
    Sometimes when I'm at Skid Row in downtown LA, I think of "Past Tense" and am struck by how, in many ways, our actual current reality is worse than what is shown in the episode. It's very depressing to realize we're actually under-performing the standards of a grim dystopia dreamed up in 1995. Worse still, we're even a few years early, as the episodes time-frame is still 4 years off.

    The three shelters at the core of Skid Row do great work, if anyone feels inspired to make a donation to them -- the Union Rescue Mission, the Midnight Mission, and the Los Angeles Mission.
     
    Nx-007, FanST, Amaris and 3 others like this.
  10. NewHeavensNewEarth

    NewHeavensNewEarth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2019
    It's as if the episode was watched by someone who was eager to exploit, and they thought, "That looks like a great idea! Let's make that happen!" And here we are, years later. :(
     
    Amaris, antinoos and Bad Thoughts like this.
  11. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2001
    Location:
    Burlington, VT, USA
    We've learned that it's a real shame more people haven't watched Deep Space Nine.
     
  12. cooleddie74

    cooleddie74 Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2001
    Location:
    The Warped Sector of the Demented Quadrant
    We did learn that Sisko doesn't like certain kinds of hats.
     
    Nakita Akita likes this.
  13. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2012
    Location:
    JirinPanthosa
  14. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2001
    Location:
    The Wormhole
    We're only four years away from the date the Bell Riots are supposed to happen, fall 2024.
     
    Nakita Akita likes this.
  15. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2001
    Location:
    Burlington, VT, USA
    Do...do we start a countdown clock?
     
  16. kkt

    kkt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2014
    Location:
    Seattle
    At least the residents of the Sanctuaries got food, the charities can't always keep up today.

    I've got it on my calendar, written in at the end of December with other future events.
     
    Markonian and Bad Thoughts like this.
  17. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2012
    Location:
    JirinPanthosa
    I wonder if anyone is selling Buck Bokai jerseys.
     
  18. kkt

    kkt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2014
    Location:
    Seattle
    Yes. Google is your friend.
     
    NewHeavensNewEarth likes this.
  19. guyute03

    guyute03 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2003
    Great episodes and sadly, we have learned nothing. I can easily see something similar happening in our own near future.
     
  20. Winterwind

    Winterwind Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2007
    Location:
    London, Canada
    Sadly, as as been said by all of us, we've learned nothing and as frightening as it is, I can see our world becoming very much like what those episodes showed us.

    I honestly don't have much hope for our species. The people that care, that want the world to be a better place, are too few and not in positions of influence and power.
     
    KUWTC and Markonian like this.