We’re all stuck in the house, right? There’s never been a better time to dig into those retro movies that you’ve always wanted to watch, but never had the time for. Personally, I’m a bit of a retrophile and tend to watch more older flicks than newer ones. On Fangirlish, you can now look forward to a retro review from me each Wednesday in this column. I’ll be highlighting one throwback movie a week, offering a spoiler-free review of the film, any throwback thoughts from my childhood, and where you can watch the movie yourself. Sit back, relax, and enjoy #WayBackWednesday.
I know you come to my #WayBackWednesday column for movie recommendations, but for today’s column, I’d like to do something a little different. For today’s #WayBackWednesday column, I want to zero in on an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, “Far Beyond the Stars.”
If you’re unfamiliar with the Star Trek franchise, it has a history of being progressive. I chose this particular episode because 1). It’s my very favorite episode of Deep Space Nine, and 2). This episode is directed by and stars Avery Brooks, who also holds the distinction of being the first black captain in a Star Trek series. 3). The message of the episode is a poignant one. Check out this teaser for “Far Beyond the Stars” and we’ll get started with #WayBackWednesday.
“Far Beyond the Stars” finds Captain Ben Sisko (Avery Brooks), having hallucinations about 1950s New York, where he is a science fiction writer, Benny Russell, trying to get his stories published. When he submits a story to his editor about a black captain of a starship, it is accepted, but only if framed as a dream. I’m going to try to keep this review spoiler-free, as I think you can probably find 45 minutes this week to watch this episode. Here are a few reasons why I think you should check out “Far Beyond the Stars.”
I love the retro aesthetic of this episode. The costuming for this episode is perfect. It’s also the only episode of Deep Space Nine where we see our main cast out of alien makeup. This is especially startling when we figure out that Nog (the late, great Aron Eisenberg) is the newspaper boy, baseball player Willie Hawkins is Worf (Star Trek’s favorite Klingon Michael Dorn), Martok (J. G. Hertzler) as the smart-talking Roy, and for me, seeing the late, great René Auberjonois (Odo), as a human was the most startling.
There are no slouches in the Deep Space Nine cast, but I think it’s also important to note that this episode also guest stars the late, great Brock Peters (To Kill a Mockingbird) as Joseph Sisko, Ben’s father, as well as recurring character actors, Jeffery Combs (Reanimator) and Marc Alaimo (Total Recall). These guys have the ability to truly embody whatever role they’re playing. Taking them out of their element of the space station and placing them in 1950s New York was a real treat.
“You cannot destroy an idea!”
If you talk to me for any length of time about film, television, books, etc., you’ll know that my own personal philosophy of story is that they are powerful. I believe story has more power to influence and change the hearts and minds of people than any politician. To quote Tyrion Lannister, “There’s nothing more powerful in the world than a good story. Nothing can stop it. Nothing can defeat it.”
Benny Russell shares my belief. He says:
“Do you care what I’m telling you? You can pulp a story but you cannot destroy an idea! Don’t you understand? That’s ancient knowledge. You cannot destroy an idea!”
Benny’s story is so real and life-changing for him, that he can’t let it go. His story has motivated him to change. Avery Brooks’ delivery and performance in this scene brings me to tears every time.
Even if you have no prior knowledge of Deep Space Nine or Star Trek, you can watch this episode and understand what’s happening. I think it’s worth your time, especially now.