Ira Steven Behr recently revealed his original pitch for the Deep Space Nine finale. Would it have worked? What would the implications be for Star Trek?
“Far Beyond The Stars” is a popular episode and considered one of the best of Deep Space Nine‘s entire run. But what was just one influential standalone episode almost became the basis of the entire series.
Ira Steven Behr explained his pitch at Star Trek Las Vegas.
The sixth season episode “Far Beyond The Stars” told the story of Benny Russell, a struggling 1950’s science fiction author who was trying to make it despite the era’s racism and inequality.
This episode ties into Deep Space Nine because it is the story that Russell is trying to tell. In some far away and futuristic place, there’s a space station with an African American commander named Benjamin Sisko.
The episode ended with the story never being published. Racism had won over the publishers and the episode ended with a heartbroken writer.
The story of Benny Russell almost didn’t end here, though.
At Star Trek Las Vegas, showrunner Ira Steven Behr discussed the pitch he made, which was a unique idea that would’ve given Russell his day. It would have wrapped up the story for Russell while tying back to Deep Space Nine’s conclusion.
Behr explained (via Trek Movie):
"I did pitch to Rick Berman that the final episode would end up with Benny Russell on Stage 17 at Paramount, wandering around the soundstages, realizing that this whole construct, this whole series, that we had done for seven years, was just in Benny’s head. That is how I wanted to end the series. And Rick said “Does this mean The Original Series was in Benny’s head? Does this mean Voyager was in Benny’s head?” I said “Hey man, I don’t care who is dreaming those shows, I only care about Deep Space Nine and yes, Benny Russell is dreaming Deep Space Nine.” He didn’t go for it."
In some ways, this would have been a fitting ending. At the end of “Far Beyond The Stars”, a preacher tells Russell that he is “the dreamer” and “the dream.”
At that point in American history, the country still had a long way to go before reaching equality. Russell tried to be successful but was wrongfully discriminated against because of his skin color.
The idea of the series ending on Paramount Stage 17 would be a nice ending to the story of Benny Russell. The dreamer had indeed achieved his dream.
The trouble with the concept, as Rick Berman noted to Behr, was the implications on the rest of the saga.
Deep Space Nine was a story that tied into other elements of the Star Trek universe. Unless the entire saga was just a dream, the dream sequence wouldn’t work.
This isn’t to say the pitch was a bad one, it was a great story and undoubtedly would have been a beautiful ending.
Benny Russell won.
The good idea just wasn’t compatible with the overall Star Trek saga.