In which Bashir doesn’t delete his browsing history, Sisko plays ball, and O’Brien hires the worst babysitter ever.
Quark is cleaning up and Odo is watching him suspiciously and expounding on the utter waste of time that frivolous imagination are. Jake wanders by, and by Odo’s reproach we do indeed learn that the #1 usage the Holosuites see involves bodily fluids. It’s okay, though. Jake is just playing baseball, and Quark senses the opportunity in expanding his program to include non-NC17 programs in his repertoire.
Meanwhile, Bashir is still hitting on Jadzia. It is, as usual, not going well. In part because of his efforts hitting on everyone else. Dax is far too old to fall for that, and has also been at least three womanizers so far. Fun fact – ‘high-pitched sonic shower’ is the future version of ‘cold shower.’ Dax goes to report for duty, and it turns out there’s a nearby region of a lot of thoron radiation on the nearby Denorios belt.
Surely this will have nothing to do with O’Brien reading Rumplestiltskin, the story of a girl who breaks a promise and goes around spying on people and is rewarded for it. Keiko and Miles tuck Molly and and leave, but then she comes running out because Rumplestiltskin is in her room, and lo and behold.
Being a veteran of the Enterprise, O’Brien knows not to waste time gawping and just evacuates his daughter and wife. Rumple makes and incredibly pedophile-y remark, and we’re off to the races. Plus, all he has to do is ask nicely and the security people put their phasers away. Where do they find these people? Also, a baseball player followed Jake home from the holosuite, and Jadzia is getting all sex-kitten at Bashir. To his absolute credit he immediately questions this and starts scanning for diseases that impact mental function or pheromone production… for about twenty seconds. Damn it Bashir.
This all leads to a senior staff conference, where Harmon “Buck” Bokai, Rumplestiltksin, Sisko, Bashir, Kira, and Jadzia Dax are joined by… Jadzia Dax, only this time one who isn’t a sexual fantasy brought to life by the strange energy readings from the top of the episode.
Buck seems to have memory of working with Jake and Ben Sisko along with his greatest moments in the sport. Dax doesn’t seem to be ready to give Bashir crap for sex-fantasy-Jadzia, and Bashir is worried enough that he stops paying attention to her. She vanishes instantly. So, cool, problem solved. Just get everyone to stop focusing on the psychic phenomena that are physically manifesting and they’ll go away. Bashir can probably come up with a wonder drug in some suitably dramatic time frame, and administering it is just a matter of scale. Because whatever is happening is affecting the whole station, of course.
The sciene stations show that there’s a hole into subspace leaking imagination-energy into realspace, an emu on the Promenade, and an unaccountable winning streak in Quarks. Seems like everyone is fantasizing about winning. Quark isn’t even mad about losing all that money, due entirely to not noticing because he’s got holosuite pornstars hanging off both arms. Obviously, the mood can’t last. For instance, Bashir and Jadzia are working together and soon fantasy-Jadzia pops up to start an argument. We also find that the rupture is of a type that has, in the past, eaten whole star systems before subsiding.
Miles is trying to ignore Rumple’s goading, which become increasingly pederastastic until he disappears. No time to check up on Molly, though, with a tear in space growing ever larger.
So, it seems that baseball stopped existing, more or less, in the 2200s, and armchair scholars of the game like Sisko attribute this to an increased focus on personal enrichment and development. Nobody has time to watch a pastoral game with no time limits anymore, let alone to devote their lives to perfecting the game.
Of course, unbeknownst to our senior staff, Rumple, Buck, and Fantasy-Jadzia are meeting behind closed doors tro try to figure something out, though their plan is clear as mud. It seems they’re trying to figure out why they were created in the forms they have – a loving woman to reject, a terrifying monster from legend with a predilection for preying on the think one could care for more than life… the most sensical relationship is the baseball one.
In discussing the previous manifestation, Bashir is casually racist regarding Vulcans and their imaginations, depsite that he really ought to know better. Vulcans have very active imaginations and emotional states that they try very hard to squish. So far, the only plan is a specialized torpedo which didn’t save the last system hit.
Lest we think this is all fun and games, when Kira starts to manifest things from her imagination, they aren’t fun and light-hearted. When Odo starts hallucinating, all he comes up with is Quark, finally in detention. Things are gettign more fragmented as the rift opens wider. It’s unclear what the figment people think about this.
The torpedo launch, depsite being doomed to failure because there’s a full ten minutes left to the episode, is nonetheless quite informative. Torpedoes have impulse sustainer engines – they don’t need to directly contravene inertia and move massive tonnage themselves, they just need to sustain the minor bubble used to keep an object at sublight impulse (as opposed to thruster) power. They can also be communicated with as probes, and remotely controlled or at least monitored.
As expected, the torpedoes only made the rift angry. It rocks the station and Fantasy Jadzia gets a terminal head wound and dies, probably on purpose, given the Figment conversation earlier.
With the rift still expanding and the station on the brink of collapse, Rumple offers to use the powers Miles imagined for him to close the rift and save the station, in exchange for Molly. If Miles were quicker on the uptake, he’d either imagine the rift closed himself or come up with someone less kiddy-diddly to make a deal with.
…Or, Sisko could decide to backtrack and figure out that the rift was a figment all along. The theory fits well enough to convince the bridge crew that it’s right, although whether that allows them to banish a phantasmal danger or wish away a real one is a question better left for philosophers. Danger gone, Sisko relaxes in his office.
One final visitation to explain the plot. Buck the Exposition Pixie drops by to explain the whole thing to the viewer by way of Sisko. They are, in fact, explorers trying to figure out how humanoid psychology works by empowering it onto the physical level. We are to infer, and it’s not a far leap from the actual dialogue, that these aliens have no concept of imagination. That is to say, a species that can understand curiosity well enough to go out into the stars to seek knowledge can’t come to grips with the concept of counterfactual or hypothetical situations. One wonders how they ever managed to get off the ground, then.