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Been thinking about doing a post on this since watching Star Trek: DS9 recently. They had an episode during the sixth season called “Far Beyond the Stars” where Sisko is plagued by visions of a 1950s Sci-Fi writer named Benny Russell. I got to thinking about other shows that have played with this theme and rank them. I’ll be focusing on three episodes from three shows I saw recently:

3) Charmed, “Brain Drain”. In this season 4 episode, the Source alters Piper’s reality after knocking her out and kidnapping her. He puts his hands on her head and feeds her visions in an attempt to make her give up her powers. Piper is now thrown into a world where she is a mental patient convinced she’s a witch. She doesn’t have sisters; Prue was just a friend who freed herself of her delusions. He comes close to convincing Piper of this and getting her to say a spell to relinquish her powers. I have to say I think this is the weakest of all the episodes I’ll be talking about.

Who knew Worf was such a hottie?

2) DS9, “Far Beyond the Stars”. Like I said earlier, this episode has Sisko being plagued by visions of being a 1950’s Sci-Fi writer with the rest of the crew filling the other roles. I liked this episode because the writers built a wonderful cast of characters here, plus it was interesting to see the crew makeup-free. Avery Brooks gives a great performance as a man dealing with discrimination and disappointment. I like how I feel sense of hope in the end that Benny will never give up trying to get his “DS9” story out there.

1) Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Normal Again”. I don’t know how popular/unpopular a choice this one is going to be. I did end up feeling like this was the most authentic (and realistically possible) story and went the furthest as far as playing with reality. This episode features a potential reality where Buffy Summers is locked in a mental institution suffering delusions of being a vampire slayer. Joss and Co. will tell you that Sunnydale is real, but I think this episode definitely leaves things open to interpretation. Why? A few reasons:

  • If Joyce actually had Buffy committed briefly due to vampire talk, as Buffy explains during the episode when Willow is trying to make her feel better about these odd visions, shouldn’t that have come up at some point in the series? Especially when Buffy drops the bomb at the end of Season 2?
  • This would explain the fact that people are so willing to live in Sunnydale despite all the bad things that happen.
  • If Sunnydale is real and Buffy is now cured of the demon poison that made her imagine this new world, why did it go back into the asylum at the end to have a doctor tell Buffy’s parents they lost her?

So what do you think? Would you order these differently? What TV episodes do you like that bent reality? Comment back and let’s talk about it.