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Time's Orphan

Production no.: 548
Teleplay by: Bradley Thompson & David Weddle
Story by: Joe Menosky
Directed by: Allan Kroeker
Stardate: not given 
First satellite airdate: May 16, 1998
Rosalind Chao .........
Michelle Krusiec .....
Hana Hatae ............
Shaun Bieniek .........
Randy James ..........
Older Molly
Younger Molly

Keiko, Molly, and Kirayoshi are back on the station, and one morning an excited Molly wakes her parents up to get ready for the picnic they've planned on Golana. During last-minute packing, Keiko helps Molly put on a bracelet, then they all go off to catch a shuttle, with Kirayoshi in tow.

Before long, they're contentedly eating in the shade of a tree overlooking a beautiful sunny meadow dotted with boulders. There, O'Brien promises Molly that he's not going to send them away again. Molly goes cartwheeling off to explore. As they're talking, suddenly O'Brien and Keiko hear her scream. O'Brien runs over to a pile of boulders and finds a hole in the ground; crawling in, he finds Molly clinging to a ledge that overhangs a strange vortex. Desperately he tries to reach her and pull her up, but Molly's tiny hand slips from his grasp, and she falls. The vortex swallows her up, then turns into solid rock.

A rescue team from DS9 sets up equipment to try to analyze the alien circuitry near where the vortex was, and find a way to bring Molly back. It's a time portal which they think sent the little girl back about 300 years, and then destabilized. The plan is to get it back online, then put a transport scanning beam through it and lock onto Molly's DNA signature.

Kira takes Yoshi back up to the Defiant, where Odo, who has talked to the Bajoran Archaeology Institute, notes that the time portal is a relic of a civilization that vanished thousands of years ago. Three hundred years back, the colony there didn't exist yet, so Molly would have been alone. Hopefully, though, they'll be able to remove her only a few minutes after her arrival.

O'Brien takes a break to comfort his wife. Finally, Dax calls to let him know that the power converter is ready to go online, which is the first cause for hope that they've had in hours. In the cave, Dax, Bashir, and O'Brien conduct their search through time, and find Molly's pattern. A figure materializes: a crudely-dressed, wild-haired young woman with Asian features, wearing Molly's bracelet. Frightened, she immediately scuffles with her father. Bashir hypos her into unconsciousness.

Molly is now 18; the transporter pulled her back ten years too late. Though it's hard, her parents decide against erasing this Molly's existence by putting her back and trying again. Bashir warns them that it won't be easy for her to reassimilate into society; also that her language skills will be rusty, and Miles and Keiko will have to work hard with her to reconnect, since it's likely that Molly blocked out her memory of them to cope with her situation. For now, they will take her back to the station, and let her stay in a cargo bay which will be converted into an environment resembling the one she's become used to. "In a case like this, there are no rules," Bashir says. "We'll just have to feel our way through the process."

Worf walks into his and Dax's quarters to find her there with Yoshi, whom she is watching so the O'Briens can be with Molly, undistracted. Worf impulsively offers to take care of Yoshi so she can do a spectral scan of a passing comet that she's been waiting for. His wife takes some convincing that he can handle the job, but finally she leaves him in charge.

Molly wakes up in the cargo bay, which has been set up with boulders, grass, and a tree. She is very wary of the two strangers who are her parents; they are gentle and patient, doing their best not to push. Slowly, though, fear gives way to curiosity. She takes the melon that her father offers, then peers at them intently, trying to recall their faces. Keiko cautiously holds out Lupi, a favorite doll of Molly's; after a moment, the girl accepts the doll and actually smiles. A connection has been made. From there, they progress to rolling a ball back and forth, and passing it to Molly, who just adds the balls to her collection. But at last, the light dawns; she begins passing the ball back. Her parents are delighted.

Yoshi is still staying with Worf and Dax. Though the toddler won't stop crying, and Worf is exhausted, he insists on being the one to care for him. "I am a Klingon warrior and a Starfleet officer. I have piloted starships through Dominion minefields. I have stood in battle against Kelvans twice my size. I courted and won the heart of the magnificent Jadzia Dax. If I can do those things, I can make this child go to sleep." Dax asks why babysitting has suddenly become so important to him. "It is not important to me, it is important to you," Worf declares. "...You are judging me on my fitness to be a parent. Don't deny it, Jadzia. I can see it in your eyes. I have proven myself to be a worthy husband to you, but you are not convinced I would be a good parent to your children." This is news to Dax, but Worf won't be swayed from this belief.

The O'Briens have moved into the cargo bay with Molly, who wakes up as Keiko is brushing her own hair, and seems to want the brush. But instead of taking it away, she indicates that she wants her hair brushed too. Her parents are further encouraged by this sign of her memories coming back. O'Brien talks about it with Bashir later; Molly is drawing pictures, and eating with a spoon. They then walk into O'Brien's quarters and catch Worf making baby-talk at Yoshi ("gung-gung-gung"). Worf passes it off as a supposed Klingon exercise, then escapes.

O'Brien finds an extremely agitated Molly in the cargo bay with Keiko, who says she needs to take Yoshi home. Suddenly Molly starts sounding out the word "home", and they realize she wants to go home. So they take her to their quarters. But though she seems to like the view of the stars outside the window, she grows confused and upset again, tearing up one of her small dresses before finding, and pointing to, a picture of her young self with her parents on Golana. It dawns on Miles and Keiko that by "home", she means the planet. Miles gets an idea.

They take Molly to a holosuite, where the girl runs happily through the meadow again, unaware that she's really still on the station. It seems like a good solution, for now at least; O'Brien thinks of scheduling some regular time with Quark. But then the Ferengi appears, with a couple of Klingons who have a reservation in this suite, now. They don't want to put off their afternoon carnage. O'Brien has no choice but to try and tell Molly they're leaving; she doesn't get it, and reluctantly, he turns the program off.

Molly's reaction is violent. As her parents try to lead her out of the bar, she breaks free, trying to go back, bites Quark's arm, and runs, panicked, downstairs. In the midst of the confusion, a Tarkalean man happens to get in her way, making what she interprets as a hostile gesture; Molly stabs him with a broken bottle. Odo arrives with two deputies, and one of them stuns her.

Sisko and Odo tell O'Brien later that the Tarkalean will recover, but has filed charges against Molly for assault with a deadly weapon, and won't listen to the extenuating circumstances. Sisko has explained things to a Federation magistrate, who wants Molly brought to a special care center on Dalvos Prime. O'Brien doesn't like the sound of this: it may become a long-term situation, and he feels that Molly belongs with her parents. Sisko is sympathetic, but his hands are tied.

Molly doesn't take well to being locked in a holding cell; the sight of her pacing tears Miles and Keiko apart. "Daddy, home," she implores, but as she tries to go to him, she runs into the forcefield, and keeps throwing herself at it. O'Brien orders it turned off, and Bashir has to sedate her again. "The bottom line is, she needs open spaces, and plenty of it," the doctor says. He offers to talk to Sisko about putting her back in a holosuite for now. "But what happens when they put her on a transport?" O'Brien asks angily. "What happens then?"

In their quarters, Dax finds Worf looking stricken; Bashir is there. Yoshi has sustained a bump on the forehead while he was being watched by Worf. He'll be fine, but to look at Worf, you would think the kid was dead. He tells his wife that he was chasing Yoshi, pretending to be a grint-hound, when the little boy, not looking where he was going, fell against the table. "You were right to question my fitness as a father," Worf states, ignoring Dax's reminder that she never said any such thing. "I failed Alexander, I failed Kirayoshi, and I would have failed our children as well...I am sorry I have failed to prove myself to you." He leaves her standing there open-mouthed.

Discussing the dilemma with Keiko later, O'Brien seems ready to give up, but Keiko isn't fooled. She realizes instantly that he has a plan, and he doesn't want her to know, so as to protect her from the consequences. Finally, O'Brien lets her in on it. The plan is to steal a runabout, take Molly back to Golana, send her back through the time portal, and destroy it. They will never see their daughter again, but at least it's better than putting her in an institution, and she will be in the only place she accepts as home.

O'Brien approaches the deputy on duty in the holding area with a story about having to put Molly back in the cargo bay. The deputy turns away to check the log, and O'Brien hypos him. With the unconscious Molly in tow, he meets Keiko in an airlock corridor with a packed bag. But just as they're about to go through the airlock, a security officer catches them, and calls Odo.

Odo comes down to take charge of the situation; after sending the officer away, he looks at the apprehensive O'Briens. "I'm disappointed in you, Chief. If anyone could break a prisoner out of a holding cell and get them off the station, I'd have thought it would've been you." He opens the airlock. "On your way." Keiko kisses his cheek in gratitude before they pile through.

Back in the cave on Golana, Keiko shows Molly what she's packed for her; the items include her doll Lupi. O'Brien finishes reactivating the vortex, and shows it to Molly. "You're going home now, Molly. Home is right through there." Molly smiles happily as her parents fight tears. "Stars your home," she says softly. "...Molly loves you." She steps into the portal and disappears into the vortex.

Molly is looking around at her cave home when she hears whimpering. It's an eight-year-old girl, huddled alone and crying; Molly recognizes her as herself, especially when she sees the bracelet. Gently, she shows the little girl the vortex. "Mommy, Daddy there." Then she gives her Lupi. Finally, just as O'Brien is about to destroy the portal, the younger Molly steps through, into the arms of her astonished and overjoyed parents. And the older Molly vanishes.

Worf, still dejected, enters his and Dax's quarters again. Dax reassures him that Yoshi is gone; she just dropped him off at the O'Briens'. Also, they said not to worry about the bump on the head. Worf and Dax have been invited for dinner. "By the way, what does 'gung-gung-gung' mean?" It seems Yoshi kept saying it over and over when Dax was taking him home. This finally lifts Worf's spirits. "You made a big impression on him," Dax tells him. "Maybe you're not as bad with children as you thought." "Or as you thought," Worf points out, and Dax admits that yes, she had her doubts. "But I've never been happier to be proven wrong." They decide that they'll accept the dinner invitation.

Molly draws while her parents talk about what happened, and what's going to happen. There will be a hearing, at which Sisko has promised to represent O'Brien. "The girl who found me -- can I see her again?" asks Molly. "Not for a while, honey," Keiko tells her. Apparently the recalibration didn't hold, so the portal sent the older Molly back to the same point in time as before.

"I wonder if she realized that the little girl she was looking at was herself," Keiko says. O'Brien replies, "I hope so. And I hope she realized that in a way, she was going home, too." Then Molly comes over to show them her drawing. The family is together once again.

  • The original title of this episode was "Out of Time". It was conceived as a TNG episode involving Worf and Alexander. When the idea was brought to DS9, and made into a Molly story, the thought was to have Molly raised by a farm community.
  • The location scenes were filmed at Malibu State Park (though the rocks were fiberglass).