As Fatheree and Dave continue to work through season 3 of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine we invite a friend of the podcast Will Nguyen, the Star Trek Communist, back aboard for a special spotlight on the episodes “Past Tense” parts 1 and 2.
It’s a story both set in and sadly topical in the 2020s. After some Trek tradition unexpected time travel sends the DS9 crew back in time they find themselves in the United States of the year 2023 in a society that has forgotten how to care for the homeless and the poor in the days of late-stage capitalism.
It is an especially relatable story for those of us living in the Austin Texas area as we recently voted to crack down on homelessness as if it was something you can cure by hiding it out of sight.
When writing and filming the episode, Ira Steven Behr, one of the producers of the show, recalled reading a Los Angeles Times report on then-Mayor Richard Riordan’s push to have the cities homeless moved to enclosed spaces a type of sanctuary district, apparently for both for the sake of the homeless but, more so for the benefit of local businesses.
Combining both homelessness, lack of affordable healthcare and mental illness, “Past Tense” is a perfect example of how Deep Space Nine was ahead of its time in the stories it featured and is arguably one of Star Trek’s most straightforward comparisons between real life and fiction. Normally Star Trek tends to use clumsy metaphors to examine real-life issues, however, these episodes really do show that even with a series of domestic programs meant to end poverty and inequality good intentions can lead to something that we all regret if not done correctly.
Sadly this story is just as important now as it was in 1994…
Watch this episode of Tex-Trek Below
You can find all episodes of Tex-Trek at the following links
See Will’s recent feature on the official Star Trek website here.
Check out Will’s previous appearance on Tex-Trek here.