And really, this one ought to be awesome. Benjamin gets sucked into a prophets-induced alternate version of his life where he's a 1950s SciFi writer. Like some kind of reverse Wizard of Oz (a trip into the mundane from a fantastic world), everyone we know is there but they're all playing their own part as SciFi writers, baseball players, cops, etc. Benjamin is sick of the racial discrimination he experiences on a daily basis and has a vision of the future--one in which a black man commands a space station and basically lives the life of our Sisko--which he writes up into a story. His editor--Odo's alternate self--won't publish the story because it features a black protagonist. The episode is very strong most of the way through. These alternate characters are well written and they piece together an interesting patchwork of humanity for Benjamin to interact with. The plot is engaging and we all want Benjamin to succeed, get his story published, and make it as a writer.
The problem is the very end. Maybe it's just me but Benjamin's final scene completely pulls me out. It's too much. In the theatre, maybe the way he did it would have been amazing and gut-wrenching. But, the way it is, all I can think about his how hard he's acting. I get that what's happening is a HUGE deal, that people really go through similar emotional issues, that when that happens it isn't pretty. But I'm not looking for pretty. I'm just looking for something a little more subtle.
And the thing is, if you're looking for an episode of a SciFi TV show where they use some bizzaro method of time-travel-story-telling to convey the plight of a person of color in an un-accepting society, there's a better one out there and it's from The X-Files. I know it seems ridiculous for me (on my Star Trek blog) to tell you about an episode of TV dealing with race that isn't Star Trek but whatever. Season Six's "The Unnatural" is smart, sentimental, and heartbreaking.
Avery Brooks has (and will again) broken my heart into teensy pieces but, as much as I wanted to, I just couldn't love "Far Beyond The Stars."