Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Season One In Review

I loved that writing for Doux gave me an excuse to watch Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. School had interrupted my chance to do so years ago, and the intervening years just hadn’t seen the opportunity arise. So where do I stand at the end of watching the first season? Who were the biggest lights? Make no mistake: DS9 is space opera done right. But which actors were the prime singers on the stage?

We've learned a lot about him since he first agreed to take command of Deep Space Nine, but in many ways Commander Benjamin Sisko still comes off enigmatic to me, a little too good to be believed. In this he, at least in part, echoes Picard in the history of Starship captains and commanders. From Sisko's being chosen to be the Emissary, to his sometimes unorthodox relationship with the rules of Starfleet, we are presented with a man with impressive range, but we have yet I think to see his heart. Instead we see him as a player of chess. Here and there he moves other players, and those movements earn him the results he wants. I’m impressed with him, but I still feel he’s very far away from us. Episodes like "If Wishes Were Horses" tell us things about the man, but don't quite give us the heart of the man; I sometimes think he's still grieving for his wife. The one completely transparent part of his character is his sincere love for Jake.

Kira Nerys had the most character development this season. If I had to pick my favorite episodes - and I will, below - they’d probably be Kira episodes. While the episodes with other characters had their strengths, they were largely hit and miss. Maybe this is no mistake: it’s the tragedy of Bajor and its emergence from war and oppression which is at the heart of Season One, and Kira is the most present reminder of that tragedy. Her evolution from guerrilla fighter to seasoned station leader, from xenophobe to a compatriot of the station's team, marks a startling trajectory.

Odo and Quark perhaps were our third strongest presences on the station this season. They tie for me. Odo’s story - the lost shapeshifter seeking his own race - has some elements of originality in what was largely a clich├ęd season. Armin Shimerman’s portrayal of Quark gives the case a truly nuanced not-quite-good guy… and turns the Ferengi, for me, from a joke into something halfway serious. Every time these two intersect, it's comedy gold–only enhanced by their ability to share very genuine moments.

The rest of our characters… O’Brien had some great moments as he grew into the weird Cardassian computer system and became part of the Deep Space Nine command crew. So did his wife, Keiko, and her figuring large in the season ending helped re-emphasize the importance this show places on the smaller actors on the DS9 stage. Dax, to me, was largely forgettable this season - she had one or two moments, but the rest of her lines were spent delivering technobabble. Ditto for Bashir; people tell me he improves after Season One, and all I can say is: I hope so!

But then–if we’d spent more time on those characters, how much would we have had for Nerys and Odo and Sisko? A large opera like this, with many characters, can take more than a season to unfold their meaning and relationships to and with each other.


"In The Hands of the Prophets." Our introduction to Vedek Winn sets the stage for what I hope are some in-depth political developments in Season 2. Plus: Keiko O’Brien as a fighting teacher.

"Progress." When Kira Nerys removed her uniform and helps refugees on a moon of Bajor rebuild their lives, Deep Space Nine won my heart.

"Duet." Kira Nerys shone again in an episode-long tortured argument with a Cardassian that’ll have you gripping your seats.


"The Nagus." This episode brought the Ferengi to life - and strengthened Jake and Nog’s friendship.


The senseless "Move Along Home." This episode also featured some of the worst costuming ever.


I'll probably revise this after seeing all seasons, but for now, I give it a cautious 2.5/4. Lots of promise, and not a little anticipation.


Odo, Odo, and more Odo. I’m an Odophile. His relationship with Quark, his friendship with Kira, above and beyond his intimate identification with the station itself. And, of course, the mysterious shapeshifter background.

Dax. There’s got to be a ton more to Jadzia than we’ve seen so far. It’s not just her dualistic or pluralistic nature as a Trill, it’s also the ambitious, knowledgable woman we know her to be, especially after “Dax.” The promise of that episode, however, was never followed up on.

What were your favorite moments from Season One?


Patrick said...

Excellent retrospective of Season 1, JRS. I'm glad you're finally getting a chance to enjoy what is not only my favorite of all the Star Trek shows, but one of my favorite television shows of all time. I mostly agree with your picks for top episodes of the season, but I would also include Emissary(the series premiere) if for no other reason than the scene where Sisko uses baseball to explain linear time to the Prophets. Not only did I love that scene as a baseball fan, but it was actually a very thoughtful look at the nature of our existence.

I hope you get the chance to continue the series soon, it only gets better and Season 2 is especially strong. It contains several episodes I consider among the best of the series. And it also answers your hopes for more Odo & Dax. There's plenty of good material for both of them. :)

Billie Doux said...

I love Odo, too. Always liked Dax as well. I haven't seen DS9 in awhile and am planning a rewatch when we reach the chronological start point in Next Gen, but I think you picked the best episodes, JRS.