In which Miles tries to be a good parent, Worf tries to be a good parent, and the giant boulder of death starts rolling.
Keiko is back from Bajor. Molly is old enough to be articulate, and is super excited about a picnic they’re going to go on. She’s grown up a lot since Miles even saw her, and I feel like there’s an implicaiton that Keiko hasn’t been sending him pictures. They’re in a hurry to make it to a runabout, presumably for a run to a starbase, since it’s not waiting for just them. On the picnic, Miles promises Molly that they’ll never be apart again, and then she goes running off to play in some rocks. Just when O’Brien is happiest, it gets ripped away from him. Something’s wrong with Molly – she falls into a swirling vortex in a stone portal and vanishes.
The whole DS9 crew deploys into the cave to figure out what this ruin is. Dax has discovered it’s a time portal that goes 300 years into the past. If they could get a precise fix, they could just send the Defiant back via slingshot. But instead they’re going to focus on getting the endpoints of the portal up again. If they can do that, they’ll scan a transporter beam through the portal and beam her back, if they can get the thing working.
Yoshi goes back to the Defiant with Aunt Kira. She mentions wanting a kid, and Odo quickly changes the subject because his swimmers would revert back to goo shortly after let’s divert the rest of this sentence right now and talk about how the site was still uninhabited 300 years ago when Molly would have landed. No Bajoran colonists will be there to take care of her. They hope to beam her back minutes after she lands, but the fact that we see that conversation means that’s not going to happen.
It’s only taken them a few hours to get the time portal repaired. Once this episode is over, the whole site is clearly going to get black-bagged for the Department of Temporal Investigations and reverse-engineered. Ever notice how time portal technology is often built into stone? Maybe that’s just the format that survives weathering the best. They manage to beam Molly back, but Molly has grown up, and grown up feral.
So, I want to point out from the wardrobe, Molly definitely killed and skinned something during her ten-year tenure in the past. Keiko and Miles initially want to try again in the portal. Bashir points out that doing so would erase the Molly that’s been completely alone for ten years from existence and allow her to continue to grow up with a loving family around her. I would like to establish, right now, that if anyone has the chance to rescue me from a time loop in which I do basically nothing but suffer for ten years, I am giving you pre-preemptive permission to do so. But let’s see how this plays out. Bashir suggests that Molly may even have blocked out all her memories of life before she was eight ‘in order to cope,’ meaning that she’s essentially entirely feral.
Jadzia and Worf will be taking care of Yoshi while the O’Briens try to reintegrate with Molly. Worf is a lot less upset than one might expect, and wants to look after him. Jadzia accuses him of being bad with babies, but he insists that she go check out the comet she was looking forward to so he can play with the baby. I think he might want to be a parent again.
The O’Briens have put a little garden in a cargo bay for Molly to wake up in, and a tree for her to hide in. Molly even recognizes the two of them, if she gets really short, and almost remembers how to talk. She remembers her favorite stuffed-Bajoran doll, too. You know, somewhere in the Federation, there’s got to be a psychologist who specializes in re-integrating stranded colonist kids into society after years of isolation, and this would be their crowning case study, and they’re missing it. The tragedy is palpable. Instead, they’re only getting what Julian’s been reading. Seems to be going okay, though.
Worf refuses to be defeated in his glorious and honorable battle with a crying infant. The looks he throws at Jadzia before stepping back into the fray are so perfectly telling, as well. He wants to make kids with her.
The Molly situation progresses a little further when she recognizes a hairbrush. Fortunately, someone already brushed her hair and gave her bangs while she was sedated, or the whole scenario would be a lot more painful after ten years of tangles and no conditioner.
Miles shows off Molly’s progress to Julian, who seems a bit troubled both by some of MOlly’s artifacts, and by O’Brien’s insistence that everything is going great. Maybe that’s just my premonitions, or the music, but it seems borne out by Molly throwing a tantrum and asking to go home. Miles and Keiko take her back to their quarters, which doesn’t seem to be quite what she had in mind. Also, no telling what she’ll do with the cat. She only recognizes the picnic planet as home, so the O’Briens take her back to the holosuite, which she loves, and which they consider scheduling regular time in. And which immediately proves to be an untenable solution, since they have to shut the program down eventually. Molly’s not a fan, bites Quark in the ear and stabs a random passer-by with a glass bottle.
While Odo is sympathetic to Miles’ problem, he can’t just make official charges ‘go away.’ The Federation magistrate is also sympathetic, but has decided that what’s best for Molly would be a long-term therapy solution, no matter what Miles feels about the situation. She doesn’t really understand being cooped up in the brig, either, and she won’t be able to make it through transport to the care facility either. Things are looking grim.
Back in the B-Plot, Worf must admit his shame in allowing KiraYoshi to take a toddler spill and mildly wound himself. Bashir assures Jadzia it was nothing, but Worf is in deep depression about proving himself unfit as a father. It’s probably just lingering self-doubt from his attempts at parenting Alexander, but it’s the same exact things now that got him in trouble when Alexander was a kid – taking literally everything way too seriously.
Miles is devising a plan. A not-strictly-legal plan, which Keiko demands in on because she is a supportive wife and mother and demands to be involved in her child’s life. They’ll steal a runabout and take Molly back in time and send her back to the past. They’ll destroy the portal, to keep Molly safe from the Evil Federation Rehabilitation Specialists. They do this by stealth-hypospraying the deputy, but despite his undercover experience, Miles is not good at crime. They get caught at the airlock door. Odo sends his deputy at the scene back to go check on the macguffin, then lets O’brien go with a warning to break out of prison better next time.
O’Brien has fixed up the portal to send Molly18 back to the same moment they pulled her out of, and the portal casts some rather interesting tripartite shadows. I’ll say it’s light refracting at the event horizon. However, when Molly goes through, she finds young Molly8 cowering in a corner, scared and terrified and alone for minutes or hours. Intercut drama where Miles is about to blow up the portal aside, Young Molly goes back through and older Molly vanishes. So yeah, remember that thing where they could have tried to do that ten minutes in? I guess they gave her the choice, so it’s a little better, but…
Anyway, Yoshi seems to have picked up some of the Klingon childhood training exercises, proving Worf’s fitness as a parent. Do you think the Worf-Daxes and the O’Briens are going to become an insufferable parent-clique? You may want to sit down…