I just started watching DS9, and one thing about the pilot episode bugs me - When the shuttle lands in the wormhole, and Sisko and Dax get out to investigate, they see two completely different worlds - one very hostile, one very calm.

Why did they see different worlds from one another? Was it intentionally done by the Wormhole, or was it something to do with their own mental landscape?

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    As far as I recall, it was never explained - and didn't happen again. I'd attribute it to just first-episode weirdness before the Celestial Temple was well-defined by the writers.
    – Izkata
    Mar 6 '14 at 19:34
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    There's no Canon explanation in the script but it's pretty obvious that the environment represents Sisko's inner turmoil and grief at the death of his wife.
    – Valorum
    Mar 6 '14 at 20:02
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    As I understood it, the wormhole aliens (aka The Prophets) will appear to an individual in a setting that resembles that particular individual's innermost thoughts. Dax's experiences from multiple past hosts help bring her inner peace, whereas Sisko is still angry (remember how he treats Picard?)
    – Chahk
    Mar 6 '14 at 20:12
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    @Izkata: I don’t think anyone ever landed in the wormhole again, if I remember correctly. Mar 6 '14 at 20:23
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    @PaulD.Waite I'm trying to avoid saying them since Zibbobz only just started the series. There's 2 additional times I can think of off the top of my head.
    – Izkata
    Mar 7 '14 at 16:44

The resolution of the trip through the wormhole is for the Prophets to get Sisko to come to terms with his wife's death. Their inability to understand linear time at this point leaves them puzzled as to why one such as Sisko would 'live in the past'. Near the end of his experience, just as Sisko is wrapping up his explanation of the concept of linear time and experience, he is brought back to the Saratoga with the words:

If all you say is true… why do you exist here?

Clearly Sisko's experience of now is not happening during the Wolf 359 mission; however, his perception of now is ground in the past, in that moment of losing Jennifer.

This shapes recurring character themes for Sisko during s1e1 of DS9 -- it also facilitates the reasoning behind the split in perception for Sisko and Dax. The Prophets manifest reality for both parties that roughly reflect their outlook on life in that moment. Jadzia is open to the experience, and despite her 328 years is not carrying any immediate emotional baggage; her concept of the wormhole is serene. Sisko is pissed to be reassigned, unhappy with his vocation and his life, and he's still probably a bit sour over being face-to-face with Captain Picard who he cannot help but distrust - so his perception of the wormhole is appropriately affected.


The way I understood that sequence is that the different worlds they were perceiving/saw were actually outward manifestations of their inner turmoil and feelings about life, made 'real' by the Prophets.

For Dax, it was a wonderful paradise because she was at peace with herself.

For Sisko, it was a barren dreary world of doom, despair and destruction because of his inner anguish about the loss of his wife Jennifer at the hands of the Borg, his failure to save her and his blame and hatred of Picard for being a part of it. He hadn't made peace with her death so it haunted and tormented him. His world was in ruins.

The disparity of their inner perceptions of life dictated the different worlds they saw. That was their reality. It also served as an introduction to how powerful the Prophets were and showed some of their abilities.


According to the recent Star Trek books there are alternative timelines and realities connected to the Prophets and the wormhole. While still in the wormhole Kira experienced some alternate reality during Star Trek: The Fall: Revelation and Dust (Star Trek: The Next Generation). Kira and an individual from that timeline were transported to the main Star Trek universe. Indeed the mirror universe is accessible through the wormhole. So there are many different possibilities beyond just the representation of Ben's inner turmoil being literally correct for the initial visit to the prophets.

  • Alternate universes within the wormhole? Interesting, if true...I do recall them getting from one universe to another by travelling through it (the mirror universe), but that doesn't really explain the nature of the wormhole on the inside so much.
    – Zibbobz
    Apr 7 '14 at 17:23
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    @Zibbobz I think caseyr is suggesting they were seeing planets from two different realities
    – Izkata
    Apr 7 '14 at 22:56

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