The DS9 Experience

As I kept bringing up in the last few BSG writeups, I’ve recently completed my second DS9 watch, and as promised, here are my thoughts about the underrated “Star Trek” series.

 

In a word, wow.

 

But let’s back up for a minute.

 

(Obviously, some spoilers ahead)

“Star Trek” has always been a part of my life, mainly because my mom is a huge fan, and she made damn sure her daughters were at least exposed to the stuff (although I suspect my sister doesn’t love it the way I do), but it wasn’t until I was 11-12 that I discovered there was more “Star Trek” than just the original series and the early number movies.

 

For a period of about six months or so, I was butt-crazy in love with TNG, and when DS9 came along, I was gung-ho for more of my latest obsession (yeah, that hasn’t changed). But the passion faded, and while I was still interested in watching DS9 (my 12-year-old self thought “Move Along Home” was hilarious, and that’s probably the only reason I kind of like that episode, even now), I soon moved on to other passions and interests (although damn if I can remember them now).

 

Which brings us to about five years ago; after seeing a handful of standalone episodes throughout the years, and even some clips of the finale, I was once again dragged back into this world and I bought the whole series (for a bargain price too) and binge watched it during the summer of 2005 (not unlike another fan I know), and I was forever in love.

And as much as I loved the show, I could see why it wasn’t as popular series in its initial run; it’s a post-Sept. 11, 2001, show that somehow made it to the airwaves of the swinging ’90s. Somehow, it also miraculously survived for seven years, and now we can enjoy it with a whole new mindset and a whole new format.

As my rewatch wound down, I kept thinking how much this show deserved the love I had for it. It’s a different kind of “Star Trek” that embraces the sunny optimism of the previous series (Earth is still a paradise after all), but centers the action around a battle-scarred world, Bajor, that’s just beginning to recover after a devastating and brutal occupation from Cardassians.

 

Starfleet agrees to partner up with the Bajorans (in the hopes of convincing the Bajorans to join their club) when Commander Sisko discovers a wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant, and what do you know, this little backwater planet no one had even heard of is suddenly the hottest property in the quadrant.

 

Right away, we’re in different territory of “Star Trek,” which generally likes to make a ruckus then get out of dodge when things get hairy. Sisko even finds himself in an extra tricky situation when the Bajorans proclaim him to be their long lost Emissary, and he’s suddenly a religious icon (another thing Starfleet tends to frown on).

And that’s only the beginning.

From there, the show brazenly tackles genocide and its aftermath, eminent domain, separation of church and state, safety vs. freedom for a world at war, homegrown terrorists, etc. DS9 was never afraid to go dark, and while it can’t quite overcome the standard reset button, this show plunges ahead with arcs and character changes more than any other Trek show (and most shows, period). This is “Star Trek” for grown ups, where beloved characters die, get injured or just muck things up phenomenally. Peace is fought for, and sometimes lost, and for once, we have to share the burdens with the characters in charge.

And after this rewatch, I love it even more than the first time. Some things didn’t change for me (Kira is still my favorite character, and Jadzia is still my least favorite character in the main cast, and I still really, really dislike Ferengi episodes), but the show still had some surprises for me. I didn’t realize that Sisko was my favorite of the captains, or that I identified with Quark (that loveable bastard) the most, or that Season Six contains the worst episode of the series, but it’s also my favorite season.

 

Here are what I consider the highlights from each season; the list has changed quite a bit from the first go round, and I have no doubt it will change during my next rewatch.

Season One – Emissary, Progress, Duet, In the Hands of the Prophets

Season Two – Necessary Evil, The Wire, Crossover, The Collaborator

Season Three – House of Quark, Through the Looking Glass, Improbable Cause, The Die is Cast

Season Four – The Visitor, Our Man Bashir, Return to Grace, Sons of Mogh, Accession

Season Five – Looking for par’Mach in All the Wrong Places, Things Past, The Darkness and the Light, In Purgatory’s Shadow, By Inferno’s Light, Children of Time, In the Cards, Call to Arms

Season Six – Rocks and Shoals, Sacrifice of Angels, Waltz, The Magnificent Ferengi, Far Beyond the Stars, Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night, In the Pale Moonlight (seriously, just watch the whole damn season, it’s mostly awesome)

Season Seven – Take Me Out to the Holosuite, Once More Unto the Breach, Chimera, Tacking Into the Wind, What You Leave Behind

Yeah, I could include the bad ones (or the really, really bad ones), but I want to end on a positive note. If you’re on the fence about the series, check it out. The first season, while a bit on the rough side, provides fantastic groundwork for what would later become the best “Star Trek” series. Even the bad episodes are worth getting to experience the series as a whole…and with the marvelous invention of DVDs, the sting of the those episodes needn’t last nearly as long.

 

But for now, as I binge read the DS9 relaunch novels, my DVDs are going back on the shelf, where they will stay for a while. Maybe in another five years I’ll bring them out, and go through this incredible journey all over again, knowing all along where it ends, with Kira and Jake, looking out at the wormhole that started it all, longing for the ones who aren’t there, but who will (hopefully) come back.