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Time's Orphan (episode)

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Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)
"Time's Orphan"
DS9, Episode 6x24
Production number: 40510-548
First aired: 20 May 1998
146th of 173 produced in DS9
146th of 173 released in DS9
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 173 released in DS9 Remastered  
525th of 728 released in all
Molly O'Brien, age 18
Teleplay By
Bradley Thompson & David Weddle

Story By
Joe Menosky

Directed By
Allan Kroeker
Unknown (2374/late-21st century)
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An accident on the planet Golana sends Molly O'Brien through a time portal three hundred years into the past into an uninhabited world. Beamed back too late, Molly returns to the present eighteen years old with no immediate recollection of her life or her family.


This episode or film summary is incomplete

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For the first time since the beginning of the Dominion War, the O'Brien family is reunited and they go on a picnic on Golana to enjoy their time together. There, Miles O'Brien is living a moment of true happiness and makes the promise that they will never be apart again. He will put in for a transfer should the war heat up again. Their picnic is cut short when they hear Molly screaming, not far away. When Miles arrives in the cavern she was playing in, it is only to find his daughter hanging from a cliff over a mysterious mist. He is not able to get her up and the little girl falls into the phenomenon.

It is discovered later that the phenomenon was caused by an old device, thought to be a time portal. A science team from Deep Space 9 tries to figure the device out and even if the functioning is not clear, they are finally able to reopen it and beam Molly back, based on her DNA signature. To everyone's surprise, the Molly that materializes in front of them is ten years older.

The eighteen-year-old girl is brought back to the station with her parents. Even if she is wary and totally unable to communicate at first, she eventually recognizes her parents and grows less suspicious. She however misses her "home" and Miles and Keiko decide to bring her into a holosuite to cheer her up. The idea proves to be a good one but eventually Quark interrupts, as a couple of Klingons have reserved the holosuite and refuse to have O'Brien pay for their time. Miles tries to tell Molly the bad news, but when she completely ignores him, he is forced to end the program. The planet disappears, and Molly is stunned to find herself now in the small, confined room but the confusion soon gives way to anger, and Molly leaves the holosuite in a feral rage, and starts to tear Quark's apart. After assaulting a few people, a Tarkalean approaches her to which she responds by stabbing him in the gut with a broken bottle. Just then Odo and his deputies arrive and stun Molly, but the damage is done. The Tarkalean survives but presses charges, and Captain Sisko tells Miles that the Federation magistrate has decided that Molly should be taken to special care center for evaluation, but Miles knows they'll end up keeping her there.

Down in the holding cell, as Molly paces Bashir reports that her body is flooded with adrenaline due to her confinement, and that there's a risk of her going into shock. Molly then notices her parents and starts to continually throw herself into the force field to reach her father regardless of the pain. The deputy is forced to turn the force field off after which Molly starts to get wild again and is sedated. Bashir gives Miles a simple fact; Molly needs open spaces all the time which is something she's unlikely to get at a special care center. Bashir will recommend she be put into a holosuite for the time being, but this is only a short term solution as eventually they'll need to put her on a transport.

Later, the O'Briens decide that it is best for their daughter if they get her home, knowing that she'll die otherwise. They take her back to Golana to send her back into the past through the portal with the intent of destroying the gate when she will be through. But, because of the erratic functioning of the gate, Molly is sent back in time around the same moment the young Molly was originally sent. The eighteen-year-old Molly understands that the little girl is what the O'Briens were looking for and indicate to her the way to the portal and tells her, "home". As little Molly crosses into the present, the older version of herself vanishes, having never existed.

Memorable quotesEdit

"By the way, what does... "gung-gung-gung" mean?"
"Why do you ask?"
"Well, it was the strangest thing. I was taking Yoshi home, and he kept shaking his rattle and saying gung-gung-gung!"
"He did?"
"He seemed to get a big kick out of it. So what does it mean?"
"That is between Yoshi and me."

- Dax and Worf

"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 these things, I can make this child go to sleep."
"Talk about losing perspective."

- Worf and Dax

"Oh, bollocks!"

- Miles O'Brien

Background informationEdit

Story and scriptEdit

  • The working title of this episode was "Out of Time". (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 577)
  • The basic premise of this episode was originally conceived by Joe Menosky for The Next Generation as a way to write Alexander Rozhenko out of the series (as René Echevarria explains it, Menosky came up with the story "as a way to get rid of Alexander, who he really disliked!"). In the original story, Worf and Alexander are on a hunting trip, and Worf loses sight of his son for moment, at which time Alexander falls into a time portal and is retrieved fifteen years later as an embittered Klingon warrior who hates his father for having abandoned him. The episode was never green-lit because Michael Piller was not keen on killing off the character (again, as Echevarria explains, "Alexander was Michael Piller's mother's favorite character!"). (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, pp. 577-579) However, the idea of an older Alexander from the future did form the basis of the episode "Firstborn". (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion 2nd ed., p. 292)
  • Although René Echevarria had pitched Menosky's story (with Molly O'Brien instead of Alexander) several times to Ira Steven Behr over the years, Behr had always said no to the episode. Finally, as the sixth season drew to a close, Behr relented, claiming there were three reasons to make the show at the time; "It had been a long time since we'd done a science fiction episode, we'd wanted to do another O'Brien show, and we needed to do something that would be pretty much a bottle show." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 578)
  • In the first draft of Bradley Thompson and David Weddle's script, Molly spends ten years in another culture, where she is raised in a farming community, by people who treat her really well. When she returns to Deep Space 9, she is shy and confused, but most of all resentful of her parents, but this idea was scrapped because, as Thompson explains, "It came across as if she had been sent to a bad summer school." Similarly, Echevarria points out, "It was full of all this teen angst emotional stuff and she sounded so damned American." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, pp. 578-9)
  • The idea to alter the story so that Molly was a feral child was Ira Behr's. When composing the script, Thompson and Weddle interviewed a number of psychologists and clinical social workers, and much of the behavior exhibited by Molly in the episode is realistic for someone cut off from Human contact from the ages of 8 to 18. For example, her loss of linguistic skills is based on the fact that she's simply forgotten how to speak because she hasn't needed to for ten years, or her tendency to anthropomorphize objects such as trees and rocks, is based upon an innate need, especially in children, for company and companionship. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 579)
  • According to the writers, Molly's fear of captivity is based upon a real syndrome suffered by dolphins known as "capture shock"; when a dolphin is trapped, there is a fifty-fifty chance that it will die simply from the act of being trapped - the mere concept of confinement literally kills it. This is why Bashir is so quick to sedate Molly, because he is worried that her reaction to captivity could literally harm her in and of itself. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 579)
  • In the original script, there was no B-story in this episode. However, after filming was completed, it became apparent that the A-story was running about nine minutes short. When the producers were trying to conceive of a short B-story, they came to a realization about something; ""Tears of the Prophets" represented the last time we would ever see Jadzia Dax, and the last time we'd see the Worf/Jadzia relationship. So we realized that whatever juice we were going to get out of it, we'd better get out of it now." As things turned out, Behr was especially delighted with the B-story, as he felt it has a great level of poignancy, considering what happens in "Tears of the Prophets"; "It seemed like it'd be nice to show Worf and Dax talking about a future, a future that was never going to be." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, pp. 580-581)


  • All of the exteriors for this episode were shot in Malibu Creek State Park. During the filming of the picnic scene, Rosalind Chao heard some of the crew whispering during her dialog, which is an unheard of occurrence, however, she didn't pay any attention and continued on with the scene. After cut had been called, Steve Oster slowly approached the cast and said, "Now Rosalind, don't panic, but...." As Oster explains, "We were in a big open field shooting the master shot with Keiko and Miles and the two children, when we saw something moving in the grass. It was a rattlesnake working its way towards the shot. We didn't want to alarm the actors and cause a bigger problem. There were two small children there, and we didn't want to freak them out. Allan was unaware of what we were seeing because he was concentrating on the performances, so he didn't call 'Cut'!" Oster and the camera crew quickly discussed what to do (which was the whispering heard by Chao), but decided to play it cool, so as soon as Kroeker did say cut, Oster very calmly asked all the cast to walk slowly towards him, which they did. The snake then proceeded through the shot, closely followed by a park ranger. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 577)


  • In one scene, after a piece of equipment in the background explodes, Chief O'Brien shouts "Bollocks"; this is an Irish and British expletive referring to the testicles. When the episode was first screened by the BBC in the United Kingdom, the word was removed, although strangely, when RTÉ screened the episode in Ireland, it was left on the soundtrack.
  • This episode marks the second and final appearance of Chester, Miles' cat, which was given to him by Liam Bilby in the episode "Honor Among Thieves".
  • The console Chief O'Brien uses to operate the time portal is a re-use of the console he and Dr. Bashir used to deactivate the Harvester bio-weapons from the second season episode "Armageddon Game". It also bears a vague similarity to the TARDIS console from Doctor Who.
  • Molly mentions to Yoshi that "last time they went to Golana" he was unborn and being carried by Keiko. Since Miles was in every episode containing Keiko's pregnancy (before Kira Nerys took Yoshi), it is reasonable to assume that this trip happened between episodes.
  • This is the second time that the show has shown someone being erased from time as a result of their past being altered in order to save an individual. This had previously occurred in "Children of Time".

Video and DVD releasesEdit

Links and referencesEdit

Starring Edit

Also starring Edit

Guest starsEdit


Uncredited co-starsEdit

Stunt doubleEdit


Bajorans; Bajoran Archaeological Institute; bat'leth; Chester; chroniton; comet; Defiant, USS; Defiant-class; Dalvos Prime; Denorios belt; Federation; Golana; Golana melon; hand-eye coordination; hehh-duHpp; Hey! Hey! Little Ship!; holosuite; Kelvan; Lupi; magistrate; "Mr. Froggy"; minefield; Quark's; Rozhenko, Alexander; runabout; spoon; Tarkalean; temporal field; temporal field generator; time portal; time travel

External linksEdit

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).

Previous episode:
"Profit and Lace"
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season 6
Next episode:
"The Sound of Her Voice"

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