Recap: Star Trek Deep Space Nine S 07 E 10 Its Only A Paper Moon

Discharged from a hospital facility and returning to Deep Space Nine, Ensign Nog finds himself with nothing to do while he continues to recuperate. The only thing that can console him is the Vic Fontaine song that Julian played for him while treating him on AR-558, but when Jake gets tired of hearing the same song over and over, Nog ends up taking up residence with Vic in the holosuite. While Ezri is pleased that Vic is able to help Nog get his mind off his new leg, she's concerned that the ensign might not want to return to the real world.

After spending a month at a Starfleet hospital after his leg was shot off at AR-558, Nog finally returns to DS-9. However, it's quickly clear that he's suffering from PTSD. He's not his normal chipper self, he barely acknowledges the senior staff as they greet him, and he limps with a cane. Evidently, treating soldiers suffering from PTSD has become a forgotten science in Starfleet, as all of his doctors and psychiatrists insist there is nothing wrong with him. Ezri tries to do her job, since counselors are valuable in war. However, Nog doesn't feel like talking to anyone, and so retreats to his room.

Nog tries to seek solace in "I'll Be Seeing You," as sung by Vic Fontaine. It played during the battle of AR-558 and he finds some comfort in it. However, headphones have evidently become a lost technology, as he plays it through the comm of his and Jake's shared quarters. Finally, Jake has had enough and forces him out. Nog then breaks into his uncle's holosuite and runs the Vic Fontaine program. Still not better after hearing fifteen variations of it, he declares he doesn't want to go back to his life. Vic offers him to stay in his suite in the Las Vegas hotel. Naturally, the senior staff is a bit stunned by Nog now living in a holosuite, but Ezri decides to let this play out and convinces Vic to try to help ease Nog back into the real world.

Vic begins to do this by finding things to get Nog's mind of his troubles, like his own financial problems, old Earth films, and his shows. However, it doesn't go well. While at a show, Jake comes in with a date and tries to chat up Nog, who gets exceptionally defensive when he catches Jake's date staring at his leg. It culminates in Nog throwing a table on Jake, to which Vic immediately throws the Ferengi out. Afterwards, with a little heart-to-heart, Vic is finally able to switch Nog's mind to something else: his bookkeeping. Soon, Nog becomes well adjusted to living in 1962 Las Vegas. Soon, Ezri confronts Vic that Nog is getting lost in this fantasy world, leading the hologram to realize that it is time for Nog to go back.

In their suite, Vic finally tells Nog that it's time. However, the Ferengi will hear none of it. They have big plans, including a new casino. He's also run Vic longer than he ever has been on, giving him an entire life. Acknowledging this, Vic thanks Nog, but says it's still time that Nog went back to his own. Against his wishes, Vic turns his own program off. As Nog tries ripping apart the holosuite to turn him back on, Vic finally reappears and Nog begs him not to send him back. He's afraid he'll get killed in this war. He thought he would be alright, but he's more scared than he's ever been. The hologram delivers some wise words to Nog: "All I can tell you is that you've got to play the cards life deals you. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but at least you're in the game." With this, Nog finally returns to the real world, and as a thanks to Vic, he arranges to have the program run 26 hours a day.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Bloodless Carnage: Nog is surprised to see it in the climax of Shane, having experienced real battle for himself.
  • Got Volunteered: Quark.
    Quark: And just who is going to pay for all this holodeck time? [everyone slowly looks at him] I guess I am.
    Sisko: And that's very generous of you, Quark!
  • NEET: What Nog basically turns into. Completely locked away from the real world.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Nog
    • After the episode aired, Aron Eisenberg received many letters from disabled veterans complimenting him on his performance, saying it was very true to life.