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It's Only a Paper Moon (episode)

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Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)
"It's Only a Paper Moon"
DS9, Episode 7x10
Production number: 40510-560
First aired: 30 December 1998
158th of 173 produced in DS9
158th of 173 released in DS9
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 173 released in DS9 Remastered  
548th of 728 released in all
Nog leaves the cargo bay
Teleplay By
Ronald D. Moore

Story By
David Mack & John J. Ordover

Directed By
Anson Williams
Unknown (2375)
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For the song, see "It's Only a Paper Moon".

After being disabled on AR-558, Nog returns to Deep Space 9, but finds he cannot go on living his uncertain life and seeks shelter within the fictional world of Vic Fontaine and Las Vegas, 1962.

Summary Edit

After being disabled at AR-558, Nog returns home to Deep Space 9. He has undergone extensive medical treatment counseling at Starbase 235. Although his leg has been regenerated, Nog has been placed on indefinite medical leave by Starfleet. Captain Sisko informs him they're due to have a welcome home party for him later, but Nog tells everyone he's tired and would rather rest.

However, Nog finds the counseling with Ezri pointless. He uses a cane, and complains of pain, even though a tricorder scan does not show any nerves firing, leading doctors to conclude it's psychological. Nog, in his state, finds this ridiculous; the pain is real, he's not making it up.

The only solace for Nog is in the Vic Fontaine recording that Doctor Bashir played during his time in triage on AR-558, "I'll Be Seeing You". He now plays it constantly, enough to drive Jake Sisko crazy. Sick of listening to the same song constantly, he insists that Nog use a holosuite. On the way to the holosuite, he has a sudden flashback on the death of Larkin and getting shot in his leg. Afterward, Nog goes into one of Quark's holosuites having Vic sing every version he knows of "I'll Be Seeing You". In fact, he feels safe enough that he talks Vic into letting Nog live with him, as the terms of his medical leave state he can choose to recuperate wherever he wishes.

Later, the crew gathers together to discuss the situation with Nog living in a holosuite. Ezri points out that this could be a good thing since Nog's counseling wasn't progressing. They decide that someone needs to talk to Vic about Nog's emotional and physical condition and Ezri volunteers. When Ezri goes to talk to Vic, Vic explains he has a trick or two up his sleeve to let him heal.

To give him something to do, Vic complains about his inability to do his accounting, and how his books are a mess. Nog offers to have the computer put some money in his books. Vic declines and says that he needs to go do a performance. As he's about to leave, he asks Nog if he is going to come along. Nog says he will, and in return, Vic gives him a Lion's Head cane that has a lighter built in. Vic says the cane is fragile and asks Nog not to put his full weight on it. Unfortunately, trouble occurs when Jake takes his friend Kesha on a date into the holosuite for Vic's performance. Nog is moody, and when the subject of his heroism comes up, Nog becomes irritated. When Jake asks Nog what's wrong, the Ferengi becomes angry and starts a fight by throwing the table onto Jake. Vic has to kick Nog back to their room.

When Vic returns to the suite, he finds Nog watching a movie. He complains about his books again and Nog helps him out. After a while, Ezri comes up to see how Nog is doing. When she tries to convince Vic to persuade Nog to leave the holosuite, Vic refuses and recites Starfleet regulations and Nog turns up and tells Ezri that if she tries to force him to leave he'll resign from Starfleet before informing Vic that he has enough money to build a new casino. Ezri is forced to give up and leaves Nog to it, as he soon finds solace in using his Ferengi business instincts to help make Vic's bar a success. Through a series of events, we see Nog and Vic drawing up plans, watching movies, wooing women at the bar, and reading the newspaper.

Ezri shows up at the bar and sees Nog walking around holding, but not using, his cane. Leeta and Rom show up to the bar and Nog seats them at a table. Nog learns that Rom has been promoted to Maintenance Engineer First Class and offers to throw a party, only to be informed that there was a party the previous evening, making Nog realize what he's missing on the outside. When Ezri and Vic talk about Nog's progress, she thinks Nog should return to the real world, and convinces Vic the same thing by tricking him into realizing he is just using Nog if he lets Nog stay. Vic tries to try and talk Nog out, but when he won't go Vic shuts down his program to force Nog to face the real world again.

Nog tries to force the computer to run the program, but to no avail. Chief O'Brien arrives to investigate after noticing that the holosuite systems were being tampered with and tells him that if Vic doesn't want to appear, he won't. Miles then leaves, telling Nog everyone misses him in Ops and soon after, Vic causes himself to reappear, and Nog released what he was probably holding back from all the counseling sessions. He tells Vic when the war began, despite how many people he saw get wounded or killed, Nog thought he was going to be okay. Then he got injured at AR-558, and now the Ferengi is suffering from an overwhelming fear of his mortality caused by losing his leg. It was this, apparently, that he couldn't tell the counselors. Vic talks him out of it gingerly with a long speech, and Nog slowly but surely returns to reality. He walks out of the holosuite and leaves his cane. When Nog comes downstairs, he runs into Leeta, Rom, and Quark and promises them he's going to be all right, in time.

Soon after Nog, back in his Starfleet uniform, visits Vic to tell him he's returned to limited duty. He thanks Vic for his help with good news: Quark will keep Vic's program running 26/7, effectively giving Vic a life of his own. Vic celebrates by singing and performing with a renewed vigor.

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Memorable quotes Edit

"At first, it struck me as a little... peculiar. But after I thought it over, I began to think that maybe this is a good sign after all."
"How can hiding in one of Julian's adolescent programs be a good sign?"
"It could be worse. He could be hiding in the Alamo program."
"Or that ridiculous secret agent program."
(amused) "Hey..."
"Or that stupid Viking program."

- Ezri, Quark, Jake, Leeta, and Rom teasing Bashir

"He's a one legged crazy man!"

- Rom, on the new Nog

"She called you a hero, and for that you slugged your best friend? Remind me never to give you a compliment."

- Vic after the incident in the lounge

"(About Shane movie) I like The Searchers better!"
"Yeah, who doesn't?"

- Nog and Vic

"Is there anything I can do?"
"You know anything about bookkeeping?"
"I'm a Ferengi, it's in our blood."
"Be my guest." (hands Nog the account books)
"Where's your computer?"
"Right here." (holds up a pencil)
(Nog gives him a look)
"It's 1962, what do you want from me?"

- Nog and Vic Fontaine

"Vic's matrix is a little different than your standard photokinetic hologram. He can turn himself off and if he doesn't want to appear he doesn't appear."
"You mean he has free will?"
"I'm an engineer, not a philosopher!"

- Miles O'Brien and Nog

"When the war began... I wasn't happy or anything, but I was eager. I wanted to test myself. I wanted to prove I had what it took to be a soldier and I saw a lot of combat. I saw a lot of people get hurt. I saw a lot of people die. But I didn't think anything was going to happen to me. And then, suddenly Dr. Bashir is telling me he has to cut my leg off. I couldn't believe it. I still can't believe it. If I could get shot, if I could lose my leg, anything can happen to me, Vic. I could die tomorrow. I don't know if I'm ready to face that. If I stay here, at least I know what the future is going to be like."
"You stay here, you're going to die. Not all at once, but little by little. Eventually, you'll become as hollow as I am."

- Nog and Vic Fontaine

"Look kid, I don't know what's going to happen to you out there. All I can tell you is that you've got to play the cards life deals you. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but at least you're in the game."

- Vic Fontaine

"Are you okay?
"No, but I will be."

- Leeta and Nog

Background information Edit

Story and scriptEdit

  • This episode is unique in Star Trek insofar as it focuses almost entirely on two non-regular characters, although this was not the original conception of the episode. It began as an A, B, C story, with three concurrent plotlines (like the second season episode "Shadowplay") all taking place in Vic's, and the Nog story was simply one of them. In fact the original pitch for the episode didn't even feature the Nog story at all, because it was pitched long before Nog lost his leg. In 1995 John J. Ordover and David Mack came up with a unique idea, which they pitched to Ronald D. Moore. According to Ordover, "Our notion was that the most attractive pitch would be something that was as cheap for them to produce as possible. Well, that would be an entire episode that had no visual effects, very little makeup, and only one set to light." The original idea involved a Bajoran holiday and everything on the Promenade closed except Quark's, which is where the episode would be set. Ordover and Mack dubbed their idea "Everybody Goes to Quark's". The writing team tried to build an episode from the idea, but they were unable to at the time, and the concept was shelved. It was only with the introduction of the character of Vic Fontaine in Season 6 that Ira Steven Behr suggested revisiting the idea, and setting it at Vic's instead of Quark's. The writers decided to have two comic plots and one serious plot, and it was decided early on that the serious plot would involve Nog's recuperation after losing his leg in "The Siege of AR-558". However, when it came time to actually compose the teleplay, Moore found that the Nog plot, because it was so heavy, was dominating the other two just-for-kicks plots. Soon, Ira Behr realized that the show had become about Nog and Vic, and he told Moore to jettison the other two stories and concentrate on the serious plot. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)


  • Obviously, the show is also a personal favorite of Aron Eisenberg's; "I was honored. It was my biggest episode in all seven seasons. I was working every day, and I was in almost every scene. I had a ball. They trusted that James Darren and I could carry an episode, and I gave it everything I had. I played Nog differently than I had before, because he was in a different place in his mind. He wasn't the gung-ho soldier anymore. Now his goals were blurred, and he was on this downward spiral because of fear." His favorite scene is when Nog breaks into tears; "It wasn't written that way. The script just said that Nog gets emotional. When we were ready to shoot, I realized that I had to cry. It was the defining moment of what the episode was all about. You finally see what's inside that's gotten Nog to this point. Up until then, you didn't know why he was behaving that way. I grew that day as an actor." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • After this episode aired, Eisenberg was contacted by a number of combat veterans who told him that his performance was extremely true to life, and who complimented him on his work. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • According to Ronald Moore, this is one of his favorite episodes that he worked on. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)


  • James Darren sings four songs in this episode: "I'll Be Seeing You" (which was already heard in "The Siege of AR-558"), "I've Got the World on a String", "It's Only a Paper Moon" and "Just in Time" (which is heard in the background during the scene with Jake and his girlfriend).
  • In the scene in the wardroom, Ezri's collar pips are reversed in some shots, suggesting a temporary wardrobe slip-up as other shots in the scene show the same pips the correct way around.

Video and DVD releases Edit

Links and references Edit

Starring Edit

Also starring Edit

Guest stars Edit

Special guest star Edit

Co-star Edit

Uncredited co-stars Edit

Uncredited archive footage Edit

Stunt double Edit

References Edit

accountant; Alamo; AR-558; Bashir 62; Battle of Clontarf; Benbasset; biosynthetic limb; Cal-Neva Lodge; cane; Charley; Clontarf; cigarette; coonskin cap; counselor; craps; Crockett, Davy; Davis, Sammy Jr.; De Wilde, Brandon; Earth; Ferengi; Flynn, Errol; Grand Nagus' staff; holosuite; "I'll Be Seeing You"; "I've Got the World on a String"; isolinear rod; "It's Only a Paper Moon"; Julian Bashir, Secret Agent; "Just in Time"; Ladd, Alan; Lake Tahoe; Las Vegas; latinum; magnetic flux; Makara fizz; Martin, Dean; martini; medical leave; "Moon River"; movie; "Noggles"; olive; Palance, Jack; physical therapy; plasma conduit; popcorn; Presley, Elvis; Promenade; Quark's; raccoon; replicator; Rockefeller family; Searchers, The; Shane; Shane; Sinatra, Frank; slot machines; smoking; Starbase 235; television; transilluminator circuit; tricorder; Uncle Sam; Untouchables, The; Vikings; western; Yankee

External linksEdit

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Previous episode:
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season 7
Next episode:
"Prodigal Daughter"

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