Warning: SPOILERS for the 8th episode of “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” — “The Elysian Kingdom”.
The wonderful Easter egg Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in the eighth episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds helps explain the 24-year mystery surrounding Captain Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) and his alter ego, Benny Russell. In episode 8, “Strange New Worlds”, “The Elysian Kingdom”, a powerful sentient being in the Jonesian Nebula transforms the crew of the USS Enterprise into the characters of “The Kingdom of Elysian”, the fairy tale of Dr. M’Benga (Babs Olusanmokun). He reads to his terminally ill daughter Rukia (Sage Arrindell). But the author of the “Elysian Kingdom” is directly related to the classic DS9 episode “Far Beyond the Stars”.
The famous and beloved episode of the sixth season of “Star Trek: Deep Space”, aired in 1998, “Far Beyond the Stars” shows how Captain Sisko receives a vision from the Prophets of Bajor, which takes him back to New York in the 1950s. Sisko lives the life of Benny Russell, an African-American writer for the sci-fi magazine Incredible Tales, while other DS9 actors have also turned into people Benny knows, including his enemies like Gul Dukat (Mark Alaimo). Inspired, Benny decides to write a story about a 24th-century space station called Deep Space Nine, captained by a black man. Believing that this is the story he was born to write for, Russell’s dreams are shattered by his editor, who refuses to publish a story about a black hero. Unfortunately, Benny has an emotional breakdown and is sent to a psychiatric hospital in an unforgettable performance by Avery Brooks, who also directed this episode. In another vision of Sisko, Benny was again furiously writing his story about Captain Sisko on the walls of his cell in season 7 of DS9.
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It’s easy to overlook the fact that the book “The Elysian Kingdom” in Strange New Worlds is written by Benny Russell, but this is confirmed by the cover of the book, which can be seen in the episode “The Elysian Kingdom”. However, Benny Russell, who was shouted about in Strange New Worlds, is not just another funny DS9 Easter egg. It also answers the key question “Star Trek: Deep Space 9” left open for interpretation for 24 years after “Far Beyond the Stars” aired: Is Benny Russell a real person in the “Star Trek” canon? Strange new worlds answered yes, Benny Russell was real. “Far From the Stars” deliberately left it unclear whether Benny Russell was just a vision sent to him by the Prophets. But Strange New Worlds now makes it clear that Benny Russell really was a real writer whose work continues to be read in the 23rd century.
However, the fact that Benny Russell’s existence as a true fantasy writer is now canonical in Star Trek still doesn’t answer many of the other pertinent questions left by the finale of Star Trek: Deep Space 9. First, is Benny Russell, who wrote The Elysian Kingdom, the same author who lived in the 1950s and wrote for Incredible Tales, as seen in Captain Sisko’s vision? If so, did the events of Cisco’s dream in “Far Beyond the Stars” really happen to Benny Russell? If so, it creates even more startling questions and possibilities, because it could mean that Benny Russell really had a vision of Deep Space Nine and wrote about Captain Sisko four hundred years before they became reality. If so, were the Prophets existing in non-linear time somehow affected by Benny Russell, and did the Bajoran gods connect him psychically with Cisco, their Emissary?
Strange new worlds have been a haven for the amazing Easter eggs of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. From the solar-powered starship resembling ancient Bajoran technology shown in the fifth episode of Strange New Worlds, to Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) working as a chef like Captain Sisko, the unexpected relationship between the two Star Trek shows is greatly appreciated by DS9 fans. Benny Russell as the author of “The Kingdom of the Elysees” is another pleasure from “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds”, which makes DS9’s “Far Beyond the Stars” even more fascinating to think about.