"Past Tense, Part I and II" Or "You see how these people live, and you JUST DON'T GET IT!"
I did not dig this two parter when I watched it on BBC2 back in the dim and distant 90's I did not get it . Oh man did I not get It
"Past Tense" is one of the best episodes of the series. It works terrifically as a refreshing time-travel story as well as a provocative allegory, characterized by heaps of brilliantly realized character moments.
Sisko and Bashir wake up on the streets of San Francisco in the year 2024, finding themselves separated from Dax. Caught by the police without ID, the two are placed in a "sanctuary district"—an isolated section of the city composed of thousands of homeless, jobless, poverty-stricken citizens.
Before long, Sisko, an avid history buff, realizes that he and Bashir have landed just days before the infamous Bell Riots—one of the most violent civil disturbances in American history, scheduled to unfold within the very sanctuary district where the two have become prisoners.
"Twenty-first century history is not one of my strong points — too depressing." — Bashir
The most notable aspect of "Past Tense" is how it affects Sisko's character. It's nothing short of a breakthrough as the writers put him into an extremely volatile situation and allow him to make monumental decisions. The results are Sisko's best actions yet as DS9's leader and hero. This is the Sisko that's been in the making for two years now. Sisko's decision to take Bell's place is an act of heroism that deserves to go down in Trek history
And as a social commentary, the episode is intelligent and effective. Set in what we would call the near future, homelessness and economic problems have escalated to the point where the urban unemployed are merely shoved into these "sanctuary district"
Here is the thing in 2011 in move followed across the U.S.a the mayor of LA put a “feeding-bans” homeless population making illegal to feed them, outside of designated and controlled areas. real-life "Sanctuary Districts" have started popping up over the U.S., even if people knew their true extent, I doubt they'd bat an eyelash.
The one aspect of the sanctuary district that few people seemed to have picked out is how a large number of its residents, perhaps even the majority, are mentally ill but there are hints all over the place that suggest the sanctuary districts are used as the asylums of the future as well given funding also believable.
Clearly, the writers were aware of the huge number of mentally ill people in the homeless population today and how it goes unrecognised by most people.
We learn that the Sanctuary Districts – euphemistic ghettoes for the unemployed, the mentally ill and socially undesireable – have proliferated across the country in response to a jobs crisis resulting from widespread automation. At the same time, the ‘Net’ that has to unblocked by corporate interests presents Sanctuary residents with a way to broadcast their plight directly to world.
If there's a scene that sums up the message of this ambitious two-parter, it's a small thoughtful one between Bashir and hostage sanctuary clerk Lee who discuss the problems the unemployed have in the current day. Bashir tells her it's not her fault things are as they are . "Everybody tells themselves that," Lee says. And She's right.
eerie to think that DS9 may predict the future just as they predicted the '99 Yankees in the same episode. that baseball joke. they got it right. !
“People will eventually remember how to care,” - Ben Sisko. We can only hope ben we can only hope....