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Production no.: 721
Teleplay by: Michael Piller
Story by: Rick Berman and Michael Piller
Directed by: David Carson
Stardate: 46379-46393.1
First satellite airdate: January 2, 1993
Patrick Stewart ............ 
Camille Saviola ............ 
Felecia M. Bell ............. 
Marc Alaimo ................ 
Joel Swetow ................. 
Aron Eisenberg ............ 
Stephen Davies ............ 
Max Grodénchik .......... 
Steve Rankin ................ 
Lily Mariye ................... 
Cassandra Byram ........ 
John Noah Hertzler ...... 
April Grace ................... 
Kevin McDermott ........ 
Parker Whitman ........... 
William Powell-Blair ... 
Frank Owen Smith ....... 
Lynnda Ferguson ......... 
Megan Butler ............... 
Stephen Rowe .............. 
Thomas Hobson ........... 
Donald Hotton .............. 
Gene Armor .................. 
Diana Cignoni ............... 
Judi Durand .................. 
Majel Barrett ................
Capt. Picard/Locutus 
Kai Opaka 
Jennifer Sisko 
Gul Dukat 
Gul Jasad 
Tactical Officer 
Ferengi Pit Boss 
Cardassian Officer 
Ops Officer 
Conn Officer 
Vulcan Captain 
Transporter Chief 
Alien Batter 
Cardassian Officer 
Cardassian Officer 
Chanting Monk 
Young Jake 
Monk #1 
Bajoran Bureaucrat 
Dabo Girl 
Computer Voice 
Computer Voice

Stardate 43997: The battle of Wolf 359, in which dozens of Starfleet's finest ships are attempting to stop the inexorable advance of the Borg. On the bridge of one of these ships, the USS Saratoga, Lt. Commander Benjamin Sisko listens in grim horror as the image of Locutus demands that the Borg be escorted to sector 001. The Saratoga's answer is a volley of phaser fire, which is returned by the Borg cube. Before long, the Saratoga's bridge is ruined, with Sisko and the tactical officer the only survivors.

Sisko orders an evacuation of the ship, then rushes to his quarters, which have been reduced to a pile of rubble. He immediately finds his 11-year-old son Jake, alive, but his wife Jennifer lies pinned by debris, unmoving. The tactical officer tells him it's too late, and has to drag a screaming Sisko away to the escape pod. On the pod, Sisko is reunited with Jake, and watches as the Saratoga is blown apart.

Stardate 46378.1, three years later: Jake, 14, is fishing in a pond on a holodeck when his father (now a full Commander) approaches, telling him to get ready. They are on a ship that will be arriving soon at its destination. Sisko tells his son that Bajor is a beautiful world; Jake asks why they can't live there instead of some old space station. Leaving the holodeck, they pass a viewport, where they get their first look at Deep Space Nine.

The Cardassian Empire has finally abandoned Bajor after a brutal 60-year occupation, and the beleaguered Bajoran provisional government has been forced to turn to the Federation for aid. A Starfleet presence is being established in the sector, and Sisko is the officer sent by Starfleet to take charge of the old Cardassian mining station in orbit of Bajor. He is appalled at the sight of the station's Promenade, which is a shambles. Sisko's new Chief of Operations, Miles O'Brien, tells him that the Cardassians decided to have some fun the day they left. The Cardassians also took every valuable component, and the station is virtually defenseless. Most of the Promenade shopowners are packing up to leave. As Sisko and O'Brien talk, a Bajoran monk comes out of the station temple. Sisko is vaguely puzzled by the man's invitation to enter, and tells him, "Another time, perhaps."

In Sisko's new quarters, O'Brien informs him that Captain Picard of the Enterprise, which is docked at the station, wants to talk to him. Sisko makes a curt response. Then O'Brien takes Sisko to Ops, where Sisko enters his new office for the first time to meet Major Kira Nerys, a Bajoran militia officer and his second-in-command. She informs him bluntly that she doesn't believe the Federation has any business being here. When Sisko tries to tell her that the Federation is only here to help the Bajorans, Kira counters that that's what the Cardassians said 60 years ago. Their conversation is interrupted by an alarm; there's been a break-in. Kira contacts the station's security chief, Odo, who says he will meet her there.

A teenage Ferengi named Nog and an alien thief leave the assay office with their loot, but are accosted by Odo. As Kira arrives, followed by Sisko, the thief throws a weapon at Odo, who shapeshifts, letting it pass through his head. A phaser blast from Sisko stops the struggle between Odo and the thief. Nog's uncle Quark, owner of the station's bar, arrives and tries to convince Sisko to release Nog into his custody, but Sisko instead tells Odo to take the boy to the brig. Sisko tells Kira he might let Nog go in exchange for something from Quark. O'Brien then calls to inform Sisko again that Picard is waiting.

There is a definite chill in the air in the Enterprise observation lounge when Sisko finally meets with Picard. He can't help but feel hostility toward this man who has cost him so much, even though Picard is not to blame for his actions while assimilated by the Borg. The briefing proceeds awkwardly; Sisko says he is considering resigning to return to Earth for civilian service, but coldly assures Picard that in the meantime he will carry out his duty here to the best of his abilities.

Sisko then has a meeting with Quark, in Odo's office, where it soon becomes obvious that there is little love lost between the shapeshifting security chief and the Ferengi bartender. Quark is all for getting the hell out of Dodge, but Sisko is concerned that the Promenade will become a ghost town if the exodus of businesspeople continues. Quark doesn't expect the provisional government to last long -- and when governments fall, people like him are lined up and shot. Sisko then pulls out his ace, implying heavily that if Quark and his brother leave, Nog will stay behind in a jail cell. Quark gets the message, and Odo is reluctantly impressed by Sisko's creative use of emotional blackmail.

Kira, however, agrees with Quark about the likely longevity of Bajor's new government. When it fails, Starfleet will go too, and after that will come civil war. Only Kai Opaka, Bajor's spiritual leader, can prevent it, if she were to call for unity, but she rarely sees anyone. As Kira and Sisko are talking, the monk appears and tells Sisko, "It is time." Sisko finds himself following the monk.

In a monastery on Bajor, Sisko meets with none other than Kai Opaka, who grasps his ear for a moment and then says, "Ironic. One who does not wish to be among us is to be the Emissary." She does not explain, but takes Sisko into a hidden chamber, where she opens up an ornate box to reveal a swirling hourglass-shaped vortex of energy, which she tells him is "the tear of the Prophet".

Sisko stares into it, and suddenly he is standing on a beach, on Earth. To escape the hot sand on his bare feet, he runs onto a towel where a woman is sunbathing -- and finds to his astonishment that she is his deceased wife, Jennifer. However, she doesn't know him. Sisko realizes that somehow he is re-experiencing their first meeting, fifteen years ago, when he had just graduated from the Academy and was awaiting his first posting. He is talking to her, and beginning to really get into the memory, when he sees the vortex again, and he is suddenly back in the underground chamber with Kai Opaka.

Opaka says this is one of nine "Orbs" that have appeared over Bajor in the last 10,000 years; the Cardassians stole all the others. The Orbs are the instruments through which the Prophets -- the "gods" worshipped by the Bajorans -- have shaped their spirituality and guided their lives for millennia. Opaka wants Sisko to find the Celestial Temple before the Cardassians destroy it. She loans him the Orb to aid him in the search, saying she can't unite her people until she knows the Prophets have been warned. Sisko will find the Temple, says Opaka gently, not for Bajor or the Federation, but because it is his destiny to do so.

Back on the station, Quark's bar reopens; and the new Starfleet science and medical officers arrive: Jadzia Dax and Dr. Julian Bashir, respectively. Dax is a Trill whose previous host was an old friend of Sisko's. There isn't much time for a reunion, though, as Sisko puts her to work studying the Orb in an effort to determine its origins. As Dax begins work, she looks into the Orb and relives the ceremonial surgery in which she was joined with her symbiont. Meanwhile, O'Brien says his goodbyes to the Enterprise and Captain Picard.

After the Enterprise leaves, a Cardassian warship arrives, commanded by Gul Dukat, the former prefect of Bajor, who has a talk with Sisko. Amid veiled implications that his people intend to maintain a presence here, Dukat casually reveals that he knows Sisko has visited Kai Opaka, and that he has brought back an Orb. Perhaps they can exchange information. Sisko denies knowledge of an Orb, but allows Dukat to let his men enjoy the Promenade.

Dax has made progress: in the Denorios Belt, a charged plasma field in the Bajoran system, where 5 of the Orbs were found, there have been numerous reports of neutrino disturbances, and an account of a Kai 200 years ago whose ship was nearly swallowed up there -- all near one particular spot, which may be the "Celestial Temple". Sisko decides to explore the area, but first they have to get past the Cardassians.

In Quark's, where some of Dukat's officers are gambling, Kira and O'Brien walk in and announce that the bar is being closed. A disgruntled Quark loads the Cardassians' winnings into a bag, which is taken onto the warship and put into a locker. A moment later, the bag liquefies and reforms into Odo, who goes into a control room. Meanwhile, Dax and Sisko board a runabout and wait. When the Cardassians' computers and sensors begin to crash thanks to Odo, Kira tells them they're in business. O'Brien manages to beam Odo back despite a flaky transporter.

Arriving at their target area, Sisko and Dax find themselves entering a swirling tunnel of color that suddenly opens up before them. When they emerge, they quickly determine that they are in the Gamma Quadrant -- and that they have just discovered the first stable wormhole known to exist.

Going back through the wormhole, the runabout suddenly slows down, and Dax's sensors pick up atmosphere. They land -- on what, they don't know -- and investigate. To Sisko, it's a stormy rockface; to Dax, it's a peaceful garden. An energy vortex appears and seems to probe them, then knocks them down. Dax is surrounded by light, then vanishes, carried off by the vortex, while the ground disappears from beneath Sisko. He finds himself in a white void filled only by the echo of his heartbeat. Then he begins to have visions of people he knows -- Picard, Jennifer, Jake, Kai Opaka, the Saratoga bridge crew -- discussing him. Realizing that these are forms taken by some kind of alien beings who live in this wormhole, he begins to talk to them.

The vortex has returned Dax to the station, where she tells the other officers about the wormhole. Immediately grasping what this discovery could mean to her world, Kira has an idea to move the station there, so that Bajor can stake a claim to it, backed up by Starfleet. O'Brien is dubious, but Dax says it can work if they use a subspace field to lighten the station so that the thrusters can move it. After deciding to call for Starfleet assistance, Kira tells Dax and Bashir to come with her to take a runabout to the wormhole's mouth. Odo invites himself along, for reasons of his own: he was found years ago in the Denorios Belt, with no knowledge of where he came from. This wormhole could provide him with the answers he has sought all his life.

In the wormhole, Sisko attempts to convince its natives that his species is not hostile. He believes he can prove it by showing them his past experiences, but runs into a snag because the wormhole's inhabitants have no concept of linear time, and therefore have no idea what he's talking about. Sisko has to introduce them to the notion before he can even begin to really communicate.

As O'Brien finally manages to create the field around the station, the Cardassians have restored their sensors. Kira, Dax, Bashir, and Odo confront Dukat and try to convince him not to enter the wormhole. Dukat ignores their warnings, believing that Sisko is negotiating for the wormhole inhabitants' technology.

Meanwhile, Sisko is explaining to the aliens how in a linear existence, each day affects the next. Almost as if to demonstrate, the scene shifts to a picnic, where they watch as Sisko's younger self proposes to Jennifer. Then Sisko is abruptly inside his memory of the doomed Saratoga, beside his quarters. He doesn't want to be here. "Then why do you exist here?" Jennifer asks. Suddenly Sisko finds himself alone again, as the Cardassian warship passes through the wormhole, which opens and collapses before the other DS9 officers can follow. The aliens tell Sisko that they have terminated the wormhole.

The root of the aliens' mistrust is that they do not see how linear beings can be aware of and take responsibility for the consequences of their actions, if they can't know beforehand what those consequences will be. This gets Sisko involved in discussions of procreation and baseball. He finally seems to be getting through -- but then he is suddenly back in his burning quarters aboard the Saratoga.

Kira and the others have returned to DS9, which is now in its new position beside the wormhole. When three Cardassian warships arrive, searching for Dukat, Kira tries to tell one of the captains, Gul Jasad, about the wormhole, but he doesn't believe her. The Cardassians cut off DS9's communications with Starfleet and power up their weapons. Jasad demands the surrender of the station. Kira has one hour to comply.

Sisko doesn't understand why the wormhole natives keep bringing him back to the worst moment of his life; but they tell him that he is the one who brings them here. Finally, he begins to realize what they mean by saying that he exists here. In a sense, he has never left this place, this time; he has been frozen emotionally at the point of Jennifer's death, unable to move on. Sisko kneels beside his wife's body and weeps as the wormhole natives watch sympathetically.

Kira goes for a bluff, ordering O'Brien to fire six photon torpedoes -- which are all the station has -- across Jasad's bow, telling the Cardassian that if he wants a war, she'll give him one. On his ship, Jasad is astonished to learn that the station is armed to the teeth (courtesy of O'Brien, using some sensor tricks). He doesn't believe it, and sends for reinforcements, deploying his ships to attack. The Cardassians begin firing, causing a panic on the Promenade when a fuel conduit ruptures there.

The station doesn't stand a chance, and Kira knows it. She is about to surrender at last, when suddenly the wormhole opens again, and Sisko's runabout emerges, towing Dukat's ship. Dukat signals Jasad to disarm, and the crisis is over.

Sisko reports that the wormhole natives have agreed to allow safe passage through the wormhole, to and from the Gamma Quadrant. When the Enterprise returns to DS9, Picard remarks that due to the wormhole, Bajor will soon become a leading center of commerce and exploration, and DS9 one of Starfleet's most important posts. With none of his former antagonism, Sisko asks Picard to ignore his previous request for a replacement. He is certain now that he wants to stay here. Picard wishes him luck.

And the new life of the station and its officers begins.

  • In late 1991, Rick Berman (executive producer of Star Trek: The Next Generation) was asked by Brandon Tartikoff, head of Paramount, to create a new Star Trek series. He got together with Michael Piller (another Next Generation executive producer) to develop a concept Tartikoff had in mind, that of an outer-space version of The Rifleman -- a logical outgrowth of the often-repeated comparison of the original Star Trek to Wagon Train. (Gene Roddenberry was told of the new series shortly before his death, and approved of the idea, but had no other involvement.) The characters were mainly developed by Michael Piller; the station by Herman Zimmerman; and the makeup by Michael Westmore.
  • Sisko was not originally conceived to be played by a black actor, per se; the producers saw a number of actors of varying racial backgrounds before choosing Avery Brooks for the role.
  • The producers planned at first to bring Ensign Ro over from TNG to be Sisko's first officer; however, actress Michelle Forbes declined, so the character of Kira was created instead as the head Bajoran on the station.
  • The three finalists for the role of Odo were Rene Auberjonois, Gerrit Graham, and Andrew Robinson. Auberjonois won; Graham was later cast as the Hunter in "Captive Pursuit", while Robinson was given the recurring role of Garak. Odo was originally envisioned as a "young John Wayne" type. Early notes on the character indicate that Piller at one time thought of making shapeshifting painful for him, and of giving him an unpleasant odor.
  • Armin Shimerman was the first actor seen for the role of Quark. He beat out Max Grodénchik, who was cast as Rom.
  • Famke Janssen (Kamala in TNG's "The Perfect Mate") was offered the role of Dax, but turned it down. Dax was the last major role to be cast; "Emissary" was already filming when Terry Farrell was finally hired. Westmore decided to give her spots because the producers didn't like the look of the original Trill head appliance (from TNG's "The Host") on Farrell.
  • Bashir's original name was Julian Amoros. Siddig el Fadil was first considered for the role of Sisko, until the producers learned that he was only in his 20's.
  • When "Emissary" first aired in January 1993, it was the highest-rated series premiere in syndication history at the time.
  • Sisko's viewpoint of the interior of the wormhole was filmed at Paramount's Stage 18, while Dax's viewpoint was filmed at Huntington Gardens in San Marino. Oak Grove Park in Pasadena was used for the baseball sequence. Sisko's flashback to his first meeting with Jennifer was filmed at Leo Carillo Beach in LA. The picnic scene with Jennifer and the fishing scene with Jake were both filmed at the Golden Oaks Ranch in Newhall.
  • Quark's nose in this episode was actually the one intended for Rom; his own was still being made, and wouldn't be seen until "A Man Alone".
  • The episode won Robert Legato, Gary Hutzel, Michael Gibson, and Dennis Blakey an Emmy for outstanding special visual effects.