Sometimes it doesn’t matter how rose colored your glasses are, it just doesn’t help. After wrapping up my front to back viewing of The Next Generation I was stoked to get to watch Deep Space 9 all over again. When asked, I always claim that DS9 was the best of the Star Trek franchises. And, man, do I recall it fondly! But, I’m not going to lie, as I was wrapping up season 7 of TNG I couldn’t help but feel some anxiety about having to put my money where my mouth was, because let’s face it; TNG is terrible. So, by comparison DS9 being “better” isn’t really the mark of distinction one would hope for.
Which, isn’t to say that the series is terrible. It has a lot going for it. The fact that it is the first (and only) series in the franchise to have a Whedon-esque season/series arc really helps. But, sadly it’s also what really ends up hurting it as well, because as the series progresses, things get pretty stupid. As you may recall from my review of TNG, I don’t have a lot of patience for Space Wizards, so imagine how I felt re watching the very first episode. Holy shit, this entire series is about Space Wizards. GODDAMMIT. The Prophets, the Orbs, and the mother-fucking Pah-Wraiths really drag down everything else with them. The series can never really get out from underneath the concept of the Prophets. The Prophets as well as the Orbs serve far too often as a Deus Ex that leaves the viewer pretty unsatisfied.
It’s obvious that DS9 is simply Ron Moore’s rough draft of Battlestar Galactica, and yet somehow they both have pretty much the same problem. Eventually the religious, and mystical stuff stops being interesting and starts being downright annoying and problematic. The mystical nonsense gets completely out of hand when you have Kira and Jake being used by Space Wizards to have a laser duel on the Promenade. Or, when Dukat goes super-Saiayan and frags Dax. You also end up having once important characters just sort of wandering around doing random shit. Gul Dukat pretty much ends up having a Gaius Baltar styled story arc where he is just having wacky adventures, and is either a genocidal maniac, or a wacky scamp. That’s probably not the sweet spot for a character. What is that…chaotic neutral? Equally problematic is the fact that as the series goes on you realize that the Cardassians are probably the most interesting and fleshed out alien race in the franchise’s history. You also start to realize that the Bajorans are more than likely borderline retarded at best, and just plain idiots at worst. I’m not sure that you should ever like the Nazis more than the Jews, but at some point in DS9, that is certainly the case.
The most important story arc for the entire series is of course, the Dominion. I remember loving them the first time I watched the show. However, the second time around I’m much more confused about them. Their actual goal is never really stated, it’s mentioned that they want to “bring order to the solids”, which sounds appropriately evil enough, I suppose. They seem mostly irritated that the Alpha Quadrant is on their lawn, though. So, it’s unclear to me why they don’t just blow up the wormhole, and call it a day. The answer of course is that they are an evil expansionist race, sort of like the Borg, but I just wish I understood their goals a little more. They have a race of Predators that are addicted to smack, which is kind of neat, although they somehow can’t cloak their ships? The Vorta are kind of fun, although I’m still unclear why the first Vorta they meet has hella-kinesis. We never see her again, or that super power, so I’m not sure what that was all about. And, you have to respect an evil organization that employs Iggy Pop.
It’s time to make a BSG comparison again. The Founders storyline is basically the Cylon skin-jobs plot. Who can you trust!? Is everyone who they appear to be? I got news for you Federation, DS9 let that fucking genie out of the bottle. When you have every other episode revolve around people surgically altering their appearance, it becomes clear that EVERY race in the fucking Alpha Quadrant can change their appearance at will. So, I would be more worried about that. Also, the shape-shifters being able to turn into fog, clouds, and inter-galactic space whales gets kind of really stupid.
On the subject of stupid, let’s talk Mirror Universe. I know, I know. Alternate realities are really cool! Everyone has dope-ass scars, rad tattoos, and all the ladies are leather clad lesbians. That’s just alternate reality 101. The writers of DS9 really liked the Mirror Universe for some reason. To the point where it became super annoying. At what point should the crew of DS9 be concerned that an entire evil universe was just coming and going from their station at will, stealing technology left and right?
One thing I found interesting re watching DS9 is that the cast is not as good as I remembered. Let’s break it down:
Ben Sisko – Sisko is great, no doubt about it. But, he is sadly caught up in all of the Emissary/Prophets hoo-ha which unfortunately mires him in some pretty bad plots. Jake is his son, which has to suck for him, so I cut Ben some slack on certain things. Sisko has the wackiest laugh out of any Starfleet member, and he is NOT afraid to bust that thing out. Another unfortunate thing for old Benji is that he gets put into a pretty pointless romance with Ms. Freighter-Traitor. That doesn’t really go anywhere, and never really suits him, but don’t worry, the writers forget about her most of the time. Ben and Dukat are pretty much the entire reason to watch the first few seasons of DS9, so it’s not hard to say that Sisko is one of the best characters on the station. The actor who plays Sisko (Avery Brooks) does often make some bizarre acting choices.. Any time travel episode involving social injustices in which Sisko has freak-out monologues are sadly pretty fucking goofy. Or, for instance the episode where we get to watch Ben record his video diary about espionage. His acting is down-right goofy, like watching a one man high school play.
Also, the unfortunate storyline where he attempts to track down Eddington, who has become a Bat-Man villain obsessed with French detectives is pretty stupid. Especially since Sisko basically nukes a planet to get Eddington to surrender, which the Federation seems surprisingly cool with.
Jadzia Dax – Somehow Jadzia is one of the most boring characters on the show. She’s supposed to be this rad, hard drinking, bat’leth fighting, card sharking dream girl. But, either Terry Farrell’s acting, or the character herself just never really takes off for me. It certainly doesn’t help that the Trills are absolute bull shit. Trills…..how do they fucking work? The secret ingredient is MAGIC. They have all their memories, except they don’t, but they do. Oh! They can imprint their old personalities onto humanoids, and then that person becomes their past self! Of course they have to mutter the magic words first……….FOR FUCK’S SAKE. They can also call up old personalities and basically just have ghosts hanging out with them. The point is: Trills suck. Jadzia sucks.
Juilan Bashir – Julian makes sexual harassment fun, and who doesn’t like that? Bashir is a weird character, since I’m pretty sure whether you like him or not really depends on what other characters are on screen with him. He and Garak are great together. Jadzia and Bashir are awful. Bashir and Sisko happens like once…..so who cares, I guess? Alright, fuck it, let’s delve into the weirdness that is Miles and Julian.
This could probably use it’s own post. Julian and Miles are both really fun, and also the absolute worst. Sometimes it’s really funny and lighthearted in all the right ways. Sometimes they are just Abed and Troy on a space station. But, then sometimes Bashir tries to cure an entire race’s addiction to drugs, and Miles straight blows up all that work, and maybe dooms the Federation to an endless war they can’t win. But don’t sweat it guys, they patch that up on the ride home. As I noted in my TNG review, it’s nonsense like that that really kills character growth in these shows. Julian is a doctor trying to save lives and stop a war, and his angry Irish friend just says; “Fuck it. NO!” Sigh.
Julian’s character arc really goes to some weird places in the final two seasons. He’s kidnapped off camera and sent to a concentration camp for over a month. To be fair, The Dominion run a pretty chill concentration camp. You have your own bedroom, you can roam free, watch some live UFC, and pretty much just work on whatever escape plan you want. He’s also revealed to be a genetically altered super brain, falls in love with Ezri, becomes a secret agent, and inflicts Vic Fontaine on us.
Miles O’Brien – Was Miles secretly a dick the whole time on TNG? Miles’ character is sort of all over the place. BSG analogy time: Miles is pretty much Chief Tyrol. Sometimes lovable, often aggressive, racist, and insane. MILES LOVES HIS FAMILY YOU GUYS! This is important. As that crime syndicate Faigan stand-in tells Miles repeatedly; “Family is duh most importint ting in da world!” This is probably the only thing that stays consistent throughout the series. When not loving his family, Miles is into xenophobia, LARPing with Julian, and falling in love with Kira. But I guess it doesn’t really matter, since at some point Miles is killed and replaced by Future Miles, who is then put in mental jail for 20 years. So, it’s understandable that he’s a little unbalanced. Which also explains some of his more dubious ideas. Such as taking a group of children to an abandoned, booby trapped Cardassian space station to steal parts for Deep Space 9’s air conditioner.
Odo – Odo’s character is consistently on the good side. His relationship with Kira is ultimately pretty rewarding, which is kind of a relief, since they slow roll the living shit out of that plot. His relationship with Quark is oddly charming. His involvement with the Founders is most likely the worst story arc for him. I’m sort of on the side of his co-workers when it comes to him hanging out with that Founder lady: It’s a really bad idea. She has literally tricked you every time you’ve hung out. And, this shouldn’t need to be said, but having sex with your Mom-Sister is just not something you should be doing. But, in the end it’s hard not to be charmed when Rene Auberjonois flashes you that smile!
Quark – Quark is a tough one to evaluate. On one hand Armin Shimerman might just be the best actor on the show, and certainly steals his fair share of scenes. Quark has several fun relationships with most of the station crew. But the writers put you in a pretty weird spot as to how you’re supposed to feel about him. Quark is clearly the comic relief, the mischievous pixie of the cast. Which, would be fine if they kept his crimes to smuggling, money laundering, or theft. But several times in the series he allows criminals access to the station’s security that either result in someone almost dieing or something terrible happening. He also had a wacky week of work where he was in league with a man who sold genocide machines. That was so silly! There are also some down right creepy work place sexual harassment scenes where he is soliciting ear jobs from his Dabo girls. It’s also worth noting that the Ferengi episodes are usually a mix of wacky and unwatchably terrible. Although, they did do a Weekend At Bernies bit, so I guess it’s a wash.
Nog/Jake/Rom – When the series starts off, Jake and Rom are just stupid Tier 3 characters. Their scenes are dumb, but no more or less dumb than any other unimportant ensemble cast show member. And, Rom seems like the comic relief’s comic relief. Rom is hecka dumb, lolz. But, as the show progresses both Rom and Nog become pretty fun to watch, as they both become more involved with Starfleet, and turn into very rounded characters. Notice I didn’t mention Jake. Jake gets worse. Worse than Wesley? Probably, if only for the fact that Jake makes it through the whole series. Every one of his stupid Red Badge of Courage episodes are just plain horrid to watch. I just imagine Beverly, Worf, and Sisko getting together to talk about how lame their kids are.
Worf – Ugh. Why did you even bring him on the show? I get that the Klingons played a very important roll in the later seasons, but at what cost? In part they completely re-invent Worf’s character. All of a sudden he just can’t understand humans and the Federation. Why? Unclear. Mid-life crisis? He has a stupid romance with a stupid character. His son is lame(er). His brother is an idiot. He is the go to Klingon if you need help killing yourself. He is the most reviled Klingon, and also the most famous Klingon. He should have been thrown out of Starfleet after roughly EVERY mission, and yet he gets promoted to a command class on DS9……hey man, I just don’t know.
“Fuck you guys, I’m sleeping on the Defiant!”
Kira – Kira’s haircut is one the best story arcs for her character. Which is saying a lot. It’s also worth noting that she never quite gets there with her haircut. As mentioned earlier, she does good work with Odo. Sometimes she does good work with Dukat, but ultimately their relationship just gets too fucking wacky. “I’m going to travel back in time with my magic Orb to see if my Mom was banging Dukat. If she was, I’ll blow her up with a bomb. Can I get some time off, Captain Sisko?” Good stuff!
It’s too bad Ro Laren didn’t join the cast, since she was the most obvious TNG character to cross over. Apparently Michelle Forbes didn’t want to sign a 6 year contract, which is too bad, and that’s how we ended up with Kira.
Ezri Dax – Manic pixie dream Trill.
Garak – Garak is probably my favorite character on the show. He’s the perfect storm: an incredibly interesting character portrayed by a fantastic actor (Andrew J. Robinson)! Garak’s whole schtick of lies and misinformation just plain works for me. I can easily see it not working, but as you slowly peel back the layers and discover what is and isn’t real, it’s pretty rewarding. Garak’s character also inhabits some really interesting spaces. He’s been banished from Cardassia, but is still insanely loyal. He lives on a station full of Bajorans that hate him, and Starfleet officers that don’t trust him. He worked for the Obsidian Order, and still has deep ties to the inner workings of the Cardassian Empire, but is also willing to help the Federation. He has history with Dukat, the occupation, and all sorts of shadowy types. He really likes Bashir for some reason, and that pairing should not work at all, and yet it not only works, but is fantastic to watch. His relationship with Bashir boarders somwhere between sexual interest, and grooming an apprentice. “Take that rod and eat it.”
“Lying is a skill like any other.” You have to practice.
Dukat – Poor, poor Dukat. At the start of the series Dukat might be the most interesting character on the show. He’s a great villain. He’s patriotic, inscrutable, egotistical, somewhat delusional, and possibly redeemable. But, unfortunately as the series goes on his ridiculous plots just keep snowballing until his character is indistinguishable from Cobra Commander. I’m not even really sure how it happens. I get what the writers were going for. With each defeat this once proud man slowly starts to unravel, until his mind finally snaps with the death of his daughter. But Dukat losing his mind never really seems believable for his character. But, even that doesn’t really last that long. His Baltar-esque story line with the Bajorons on Empok Nor is just too damn wacky to be remotely believable. He gets possessed multiple times by Space Wizards, casts multiple spells, surgically alters himself to be Bajoran, has an evil grimoire remove his eyesight, bangs Kai Winn, and frees a bunch of demons from their fire jail. Problematic.
Okay, okay, enough already! Let’s get down to the reason you’re here. As before, all the episode titles will link you to the original trailer for said episode. They are usually hilarious, and worth a look.
THE WORST – Honorable Mention:
Well, here it is folks! The start of the Bashir/O’Brien bromance. And what a start it is! The Bajorans are a deeply religious and intellectual people. Or, they are complete fucking idiots being duped by traveling gypsies. Either way, they are valued potential members of the Federation. I’m not sure why the writers keep giving us reasons to hate the Bajorans, but this is one of the first, and one of the best reasons. Evey year this village is attacked by the smoke monster from Lost. And only through friendship and mental high fives can they fend off the beast! The village leader is in charge of telling the magical story that empowers all the high fives, but uh-oh, he dies! And, uh-oh, he names O’Brien head Wizard of the village.
Needless to say hilarity is attempted.
This episode is flat out stupid for obvious reasons. But it’s really unclear why this is our first exposure to the Bajorans weird religious nonsense. Nothing in this episode convinced me that we should care about these people.
This is bad. It is very, very bad. It involves a lot of yelling, which helps you, the viewer understand the deep level of discourse that is taking place. DS9 had some VERY heavy handed episodes about social issues. Melora comes from a low-gravity planet. But, every planet in every other galaxy everywhere has the same gravity as Earth. So, Melora has to use a wheelchair to get around, you see. She can’t use a hover chair on DS9 though because of some bull-shit Cardasian architecture. But, Melora is proud, you see! She can DO IT HER GODDAMN SELF THANK YOU VERY MUCH! Instead of this episode being a compelling social critique(was that even possible?) it just involves Melora shouting at people for pretty much any reason at all. Which of course is a huge turn on for Julian. Maybe that’s why he’s so into Miles?
Julian cures her of gravity, so that’s pretty cool. But! It turns out that if she continues being treated by Julian she will never be able to float around on her home world again because, well, I don’t know, invent your own McGuffin, it’ll probably make more sense.
The best part of this episode is the finale in which Melora proves that people who are allergic to gravity can stop jewel thieves just as well as anyone else, thank you very much.
An episode where Jake learns about war. Oh, good. You guys remember Red Squad? Well, they’re back, and they have their own Defiant, called the Valiant. They’ve been cruising the galaxy for the last year searching for some secret Jem’Hadar MEGA SHIP. Their mission was a super secret one, and all the adults were killed on the ship, so now it’s just the kids flying around through space, and no one knows about them. The good news is that they are all catty bitches, and incredibly stupid. RED SQUAD, RED SQUAD, ARF ARF ARF! Ensign Moon Dumpling befriends Jake when he and Nog are rescued by the Valiant. She regales Jake with tales about kickin’ it on the Moon with her pops. Cool story, bro.
NOT COOL STORY, BRO.
It turns out Jake has awakened memories of home inside Ensign Moon Dumpling, and Lt. Cmdr Mean Girl, and Captain Man Boy are not down with that. There’s no time for dreams in war! So, while Jake gets tossed in the brig, Nog gets promoted to Admiral.
In the end, the crew of The Valiant suck. And they fail. And they all die. But, the best part is back on DS9 in the infirmary, Ensign Moon Dumpling tells Jake and Nog that Captain Man Boy was a great man who did everything right. Jake flat out tells her; “Dude was a dick, and he got all your friends killed, cuz he sucked at his job.” Jake then stands up, drops the mic, and walks out of sick bay.
The moral? Jake doesn’t have time for your bull shit. And neither do I.
I bet you’re all saying; “Justin, why is this not in the Top 5!?” And, you’re not wrong. This episode is eye gougingly, brain meltingly bad. For starters, it’s a Ferengi episode, which means it’s a wacky “funny” episode. And, that is the ONLY reason I am keeping it off the Top 5. The fact that it is supposed to be goofy, doesn’t excuse the episode, but compared to all the other bad episodes that are actually trying….well, it hardly seems fair.
As for the episode itself, where do I begin? The Nagis and Moogi come to DS9, because they have fled from Ferenginar due to the Nagis being deposed. This is a result of the ongoing plot of Ferengi female independence, led by Moogi. The end result of all this, is that the Nagis needs a lady Ferengi to help convince prominent Ferengi business men that female independence is a good idea. The hilarious solution is to have Quark pose as a lady. That’s pretty funny right? Well, it gets even funnier! It turns out they straight up give Quark a sex change. I guess Bashir had some free time? Before I get into discussing all the hilarious lady trouble that Quark gets into, I need to say something.
Remember earlier when I told you that DS9 leans pretty hard on surgically altering people in plot lines? Well, here’s a prime example. Apparently the Federation is pretty down with the the trans-gendered, because they are just handing out sex changes. How does this even work? Even in the future? How much of Quark’s body has been chopped off, added to, or changed completely? Especially given the fact that it will ultimately be undone??
The end result of all this is just a bunch of lame jokes about hormones, a Benny Hill sequence with dudes chasing ladies around the room for sex, characters doing spit takes, and some heavy handed, poorly executed life lesson about gender equality.
This episode is just a mess. It’s got magical Trill nonsense, inexplicable technology, and free-style detective work. People are being murdered on DS9 by projectile weapons from long range, that appear to have been shot at close range. There doesn’t appear to be a connection, and it’s a big fucking mystery. So Ezri does the only logical thing she can; she casts a magic Trill spell and summons her former murderous host Joren to help her solve the murders. Joren explains that to solve a murder you have to go on a killing spree. Ezri has her doubts, but she’s kind of stupid so she starts losing her mind. Meanwhile, O’Brien builds a gun that can kill anybody from anywhere using x-ray vision and teleporting bullets. Let that sink in….O’Brien just whips that shit together in his free time, and it is never mentioned again.
Ezri solves the case by realizing that all the victims had photos of people smiling in their rooms. Which leads her to believe the murderer is a crazed Vulcan who views photos of smiles as frozen emotions, mocking him. No, really. She then uses her magic gun to shoot the Vulcan before he can shoot her with his magic gun. After shooting him she confronts him in his quarters, and asks, “why?” Doesn’t she already know why, didn’t she crack the case? He hilariously responds; “Because logic demands it”, and passes out. Everything about this episode is insane.
Listen, I don’t even like Jadzia, and even I know this episode makes no sense for her character. A planet appears out of thin air in front of the Defiant. The crew goes to explore the planet, and they discover something shocking! A planet of really boring weirdos whose home world slides out of reality for decades at a time. While not in our reality the people of the planet are converted into energy, where they all just kind of hang out, and listen to music. The people of this planet tell their story much in the same way a Phish fan coming down from a weekends worth of Ecstasy describe last night’s 80 minute show finale in which the band improv-ed a song about a frog that stole a cloud. One sleepy, creepy weirdo in particular asks Jadzia if her “spots go all the way”. This of course causes Jadzia to fall madly in love. So, in hindsight, I guess I owe Julian an apology. He had a pretty good read on what kind of moves work on Dax.
Since no two people in the history of time have ever felt this kind of love, Dax decides to stay on the planet with her new boyfriend and follow Phish when the planet phases out. But, it turns out that Dax’s soul is not compatible with the planet’s Phase-O-Metric Matrix, and as long as she is on the planet everyone will die. This is displayed visually by Terry Farrell standing in front of a green screen and playing that Wii Fit hula-hoop game.
So, the Defiant beams her out, and the planet successfully goes back on tour.
Highlights: Brigadoon fanfic, Quark’s head on Kira’s body
Oh boy, oh boy, it’s a Jake episode AND a Lwaxana Troi episode all in one! Do I really need to type any more?
Why don’t I just let Ron Moore tell you why this thing sucks:
“The notion of this exotic, beautiful, older woman who comes to you and gets excited by watching you write is like the most ridiculous idea! Only a writer would come up with that. Think of it. You’re sitting there writing and she’s just entranced. We watched that scene in dailies and we thought, are we insane? What are we doing? How did we get here?”
How they got there is by having two really bad story lines, neither of which could carry an entire episode. So, they fused a story about an alien Muse kicking Jake’s writing “genius” into overdrive, and Lwaxana needing Odo’s help to protect her unborn baby from the father. Jake’s story is the more painful of the two. You get this idiot kid sitting around with some middle aged women, in a dimly lit room, while she mews encouragement. It’s both boring and creepy as hell. No matter how many times the show crams the idea of Jake as a writer down your throat, let alone a GOOD writer, it never works for me. So, combine that with the idea that this immortal woman is only drawn to history’s greatest writers (Jake), and it seems like over compensating to prove a point. And, oh boy you guys, did you catch that? This is the birth of Anslem.
The Lwaxana storyline is one of the more grounded episodes for her character. I think it’s worth mentioning that once Betazoids get to a certain age, they should never be able to leave their planet. Think about it. How many times has Lwaxana endangered a star ship, or star base with her mentalpausal problems? One of the worst DS9 episodes is when she makes the crew too horny to function….sigh, but I’m getting off topic here. Lwaxana is such a weird character. She’s annoying, all the characters hate her, she’s got all sorts of mental issues, and yet she always acts as some sort of oracle. Odo hates her, but she’s also this weird love interest for him, and she’s written as the person who really unlocked Odo’s ability to connect. Super weird. The episode also gets oddly deep and dark, when Lwaxana’s dead daughter is mentioned as a plot point for why this baby is so important. Again, attaching stuff like that to a goof-ball character always feels really awkward to me.
Highlights: The last Lwaxana episode ever
We kick this bad boy off in style by having Rumpelstiltskin appear in the O’Brien’s quarters, so right away you know this is going to be a classic stupid Star Trek episode. From there on out it’s a pretty straight forward stupidity avalanche. Buck Bokai, an olde timey Earth baseball player starts following Sisko around. A ditzy Jadzia starts fawning over Julian, and the Promenade basically becomes a collection of Family Guy cut scene ideas. It turns out everyone on the ship has the ability to manifest their imagination! You might remember this idea as being terrible the first time you watched it. Now, why this only works with some people or why…..why am I trying to rationalize this? Fuck it. A group of aliens from the Gamma Quadrant wanted to learn about imagination.
Yup. So….that’s it. They tell Sisko they’ll be back next year to tell us about their findings. Great. So these weren’t even real aliens, they were fucking grad students. Listen, guys we don’t want to read your dissertation, so you don’t really have to come back.
Highlights: Odo running through the Promenade shouting “Nobody use your imagination!”, the origin of Ben’s baseball
I forgot all about this episode, and was shocked by how insipid it was when I re watched it. Before we get into the meat of this episode, a little background info is needed. At this point in the series Dax and Worf are finally dating. Dax is boring and annoying. Worf is a pouty teenager, and nobody understands him. Two terrible tastes that taste worse together. Dax LOVES LIFE! Worf hates Dax. They are in love. So, they take a trip to Risa. You know, the planet where they glue LEDs to things they bought from Sky Mall, and have JC Penny catalog models rub them on you? You might know it by it’s more common name: Planet Fuck.
Risa is all about feeling good, living life, rubbing strangers, and just straight kickin’ it. Worf fucking hates it, and by proximity hates Jadzia, more. Worf feels that Planet Fuck is what’s holding the Federation back from becoming a truly magnificent solar empire. His reasons for this are as follows: If the Dominion attacks the Federation and you’re busy having a Bumble Ball shoved down your pants while you sip Raktajinos on a beach, how ready are you to defend your planet? Fair point, Worf! Jadzia disagrees and decides to go re-enact her favorite scene from Ghost with Vanessa Willaims.
Worf does the only logical thing he can at this point to teach his girlfriend a lesson; he helps a fundamentalist Christian terrorist group take over Risa and shut down it’s weather system. They then proceed to unleash a storm on the planet, start an earthquake, and plunge the planet into darkness. You read that correctly. A Starfleet officer helps a group of terrorists take over a planet’s weather system. TO TEACH HIS GIRLFRIEND A LESSON. But, it turns out he only did all this crazy shit, because when he was in elementary school he killed a kid while playing soccer. So, you know, it’s hard to blame him.
It’s also worth noting that in the following season O’Brien is sent undercover to find a terrorist that took over a weather control station on a planet. Apparently, that’s a pretty serious crime. How the fuck does Worf still have a job?
So, basically this episode is more high school bullshit from adult members of Starfleet. Luckily Jadzia sees Worf’s actions as the compliment that they were, and everything is fine. Surprise.
Highlights: Jadzia’s swimsuit says “Speedo”, Planet Fuck having to be PG for TV
What a shocking pick, right? There is just no way around it, Move Along Home is the absolute worst. For whatever reason the trailer for this episode just reminds me of the trailer for Gymkata. This could very easily have been an episode from the original Star Trek series. A bunch of fat aliens in ill fitting jump suits show up from the Gamma Quadrant. They are gamers! And you know that old adage, “gamers gotta game”! But, they are quickly bored with our Alpha Quadrant games and they suggest a game of their own: a deadly game. Quark accepts their challenge, and unbeknownst to him, the crew of DS9 is transported inside the game.
Everything about this is lame. The board game and the aliens look lame, the arena looks lame, and the challenges look lame. Can the crew over come such dangers as: hopscotch, drinking wine coolers, and walking through a door? The answer is yes…..barely. But, the good news is, in the end, it was all a dream(basically) and everyone is fine.
Besides the Tosk, this is our first real interaction with the Gamma Quadrant, and frankly at this point they should have just closed the wormhole and called it a day. Besides making the Gamma Quadrant look lame as hell, the writers once again introduce insane technology that is both terrifying and poorly used. These aliens can transport anyone they want into any kind of death arena they choose? Good thing they’re idiots, I guess? If their Jumanji tech ever fell into the wrong hands….well, I shudder to think.
At least one good thing came out of this episode: It was Emmy nominated for: Outstanding Individual Achievement in Hairstyling for a Series.
THE BEST – Honorable Mention/Overrated
This episode is straight up fan service. Is it cool to see the entire cast out of costume and make-up? Sure. Is it neat to see everyone getting hella meta about sci-fi? Sure. But ultimately it’s just an excuse to have the characters do just that, and nothing more. The entire 50s sci-fi office thing is a backdrop to an episode where Sisko finds out that a good friend of his has been killed in battle. This leaves him distraught, and “searching”.
The problem is Sisko imagines himself as a writer named Benny tackling racism in the 50s, which is a laudable goal, but ultimately has nothing to do with anything. Sisko is neither trying to deal with racism, or overcome it in our current time period. So, it’s a pretty odd center piece to the episode. The episode is also littered with prophetic nonsense from the Prophets (or perhaps the Pah-Wraiths?), that just add more confusion to the point of the episode.
The whole thing culminates with a freak out monologue from Avery Brooks, that really doesn’t work for me, again, because it has nothing to do with anything. Eventually after all that, this vision gives Sisko the strength to go on fighting. Why? Who knows. Was he really about to bail on the war effort, unless he had a day dream about sci-fi racism in the 50s? I guess?
The episode also ends on a cringe inducing scene where Sisko stares out the window wondering if Benny is the dreamer, and he merely the dream. Deep.
Years ago in Starfleet Academy a Vulcan named Solok told Sisko that humans are lame because they let their emotions control them. Solok also wrote a paper that called Sisko “a stupid farty-butt.” This has stuck with Sisko and affected his entire life, apparently. So, when Solok appears on DS9 and challenges the crew to play his men in a game of baseball, the stakes have never been higher. This episode is somehow the equivalent of Picard’s episode Tapestry.
As stupid as the back story is, and as stupid as the episode is, I kind of like it. Maybe a lifetime of X-men playing baseball has conditioned me to be charmed, but this episode somehow does it for me. Leaving aside how holo-decks work(30 people in a room that holds 5) the crew rallying together to play baseball to defend Sisko’s honor is just so silly it makes me smile. Pretty much nothing is learned, except that Sisko is a little unhinged, and you get some classic Avery Brooks freak-out moments. But you also get Odo as the umpire, and he seems really into it. The art direction on all the custom vintage baseball outfits is also surprisingly sweet!
Speaking of so silly it works. I don’t really have much to say about this. It’s a bunch of Ferengi acting like morons, trying to pull off a rescue mission against the Dominion on everyone’s favorite abandoned space station, Empok Nor. This episode features a Weekend at Bernies gag with that eerily creepy Vorta Keevan, as well as Iggy Pop as a Vorta.
You really can’t top that.
There really isn’t much to say about this episode either, it’s just a pile of fluff for the fans. But it does feature some funny moments, and some pretty sweet set pieces.
I wasn’t kidding. That’s all I’m going to say.
Oh Nog, you’ve come so far in 7 seasons. I’m not really sure how to explain my thoughts on this episode to you. It features equal parts things I love, and equal part things I hate.
What works for me is that Nog has become such an interesting character throughout the series that seeing him so down after losing his leg in battle actually made me feel something. And, watching him struggle to get back to his life on DS9 is pretty heartbreaking to watch. Especially since he lives with that idiot Jake Sisko, who is absolutely worthless as a friend. When the crew realizes that Nog is having trouble reintegrating into his life they correctly decide to let a hologram help him out, instead of Ezri, who is widely regarded as useless.
So, the entire episode centers around Vic Fontaine helping Nog work through his PTS. This is the difficult part for me. On one hand all the scenes with Nog are great, on the other hand by this point in the show I was so sick of Vic. Vic Fontaine shows up at the end of season 6 and proceeds to star in roughly 11,000 episodes. I’m not really even sure why he’s allowed to exist. Bashir just has a hologram AI created that is fully aware of itself, can access the ship’s computers, and at the end of this episdoe is allowed to run 24/7 in his own suite. Surely the crew of The Enterprise has forced the Federation to have stiffer laws regarding the creation of sentient holograms?
So, there in lies the real problem for me. This episode features one of my favorite characters actually dealing with the ramifications from a previous episode(I know, right?), while stuck in the midst of the most annoying trope on the show.
It’s interesting to note, that for 5-6 seasons the writers didn’t use the holo-suites for anything. But, season 7 features them pretty much every other episode. It’s jarring. Also, full disclosure: while Vic annoys me, I actually think the actor that plays him is very good. And, Nog in a cardigan is just too good of a visual not to like.
Oh, how I want to love you series finale. I know this is usually #1 on the list for most people, but the end of the series just has too many problems for me. This is in essence part 9 of the final story arc for the season. The battle scenes are pretty good, and the Alpha Quadrant rallying together to beat back the Dominion is also pretty sweet! But within all of that you have a number of terrible sub-plots going on. The Founder disease that makes shape-shifters magnetically charged to Corn Flakes is a convenient way to wrap up the Dominion threat. Even when it’s explained that they were infected years ago, it’s a little silly that the disease kicks in at the most convenient time. Add to that, the fact that Odo goes against all rational judgement and helps the woman who has tricked him every time they’ve ever hung out, and my suspension of disbelief is just gone.
The Breen still serve as an unconvincing plot device. A race of super soldiers who are apparently the scourge of the galaxy, and really into cosplaying bounty hunter Leia from Return of the Jedi. Their ongoing involvement with the Dominion continues to feel like a hack. Meanwhile you have some insanely stupid shit with Bajoran Dukat and Kai Winn casting spells in the Fire Caves to unleash demons that will destroy the Alpha Quadrant. However dumb you think that sounds, it’s dumber than that.
But it all works out. The Founders honor Odo’s deal and surrender to the Federation. We then get to focus on the other asinine plots that are going on in the background. Ezri and Bashir are continuing their romance that started when the writers decided they were in love. It’s not interesting. O’Brien and his family are leaving the station, and he and Julian are sad. Kassidy is pregnant, because Ben forgot to take his birth control. The baby has not yet been transported into Kira’s womb. Odo tells Kira he has to go back to his home world and save his people, he also tells her he isn’t coming back. This is sad. Then we have a clip-show of all our favorite moments, which is actually pretty weird, and makes for some awkward pacing.
Then, it’s off to Vics’ to celebrate one last time with the entire crew! While partying on the holo-suite, Sisko realizes he should probably fly down to Bajor and check on the Fire Caves.
And from here on out we get to bring home the show in the most ludicrous fashion imaginable. Sisko shows up just in time to see a Pah-Wraith possess Dukat, which causes Dukat to morph back into a Cardassian. Dukat proceeds to incinerate Kai Winn with a spell. Sisko realizes he needs to act quickly, and he tosses Dukat and himself into the fires of Mt. Doom.
Listen, I don’t even know…..
But, it’s a happy ending! Dukat and the Pah-Wraiths are wiped out of existence, and Sisko turns into a time traveling ghost who lives in the wormhole!
How anyone finds any of this satisfying is beyond me.
This is yet another love/hate episode for me. I love the premise, but I hate the delivery. The premise of the episode is that unless the Vulcans join the fight, the Dominion is going to defeat the Alpha Quadrant. So, Sisko decides to enter the moral gray area, and devises a plot with Garak to trick the Vulcans into joining the war effort. That’s all well and good, and you know I love me some Garak. The problem is the episode is told in flashbacks, as Sisko dictates the story to his video diary. I love Avery Brooks, but his one man show: Moral Gray Area, is pretty silly to watch. The monologue-ing and heavy handed explanation of how he is feeling comes across pretty forced. As does his increasingly agitated body language, disrobing, and drunken toasts.
The actual story is pretty sweet, and Garak gets to steal the show in the end. If this story had just been told in real time without all the video cut-aways, I would have loved it. As it stands, it’s good, but flawed.
A minor nitpick with this episode is how it relates to Section 31. I know in the end Sisko realizes what he’s done is wrong, but he and Garak are doing exactly what Section 31 does, and they hate those guys.
Highlights: “It’s a FAAAAAAAAKE!”, Betazed gets invaded by the Dominion
This is actually a pretty good pilot! Compare this to Encounter at Far Point, if you need proof. As I mentioned earlier, I was worried that DS9 would not be as good as I remembered it, but when I started watching the pilot, a sense of relief washed over me. Which, in the end was short lived, since there is a particularly silly 20 minutes in this episode that really kills it.
Emissary does a fantastic job of introducing Ben. He immediately feels different than Picard, and unique in his own right. Add to that an interesting back story with Picard and the Borg, and you’re off on the right track. It also jumps you right into the Cardassian/Bajoran conflict, introduces the station, and the entire crew in an organic and entertaining way. All of which are pretty much handled perfectly.
Then, the Prophets show up. And you spend 20 minutes with Ben reliving his first date with his dead wife on the beach, while a bunch of time traveling aliens watch. The Prophets and the Orbs are immediately stupid, and I forgot how flat they feel as a driving force for the show. The wormhole itself is cool, as are some aspects of Bajoran religion, but I could do without the actual wormhole aliens.
Regardless of all that baggage this is easily the best Star Trek pilot, and one of the best sci-fi pilots, period.
Highlights: Wolf 359 flashback, Beach Blanket Benji
Hey, this is a good episode! Good story, sweet space fights, and awesome character moments! This is the culmination of the story to take back DS9 from the Cardassian/Dominion forces that currently control it. The Dominion is attempting to shut down the mines that Nog made to guard the wormhole. Once they do this, the entire Jem’Hadar fleet will flood the Alpha Quadrant, and the Dominion will be unstoppable. Sisko ain’t havin’ that! So, the Federation and the Kingons team-up to take back the station and prevent the mines from being deactivated.
Meanwhile on the station, Jake is running the school newspaper. It is worthless. Kira, Leeta, and Rom have formed an underground movement to overthrow the Dominion. Odo decides not to help because he really wants to stay in his room, get high, and have sex with his Mom-Sister. He is worthless. Rom gets captured and the movement gets sent to jail. Luckily Quark and Dukat’s daughter break them out!
Rom has just enough time to try to stop them from deactivating his mines, but he fails by mere seconds. This presents a serious problem to the Alliance forces battling outside. Sisko says; “Fuck it, let’s do this thing”, and flies the Defiant into the wormhole to head off the Jem’Hadar. Once inside, he makes a wish to the wormhole genies and they “poof” away all the Jem’Hadar.
This, in case you’re wondering is where the episode flies off the fucking tracks. Once again, a really sweet episode is ruined by some stupid Deus Ex from the Prophets. The other problem is that as the Cardssians are fleeing the station, Dukat’s daughter is killed in front of him, which causes him to lose his mind. This moment is sadly the beginning of the end for Dukat, and he never really achieves his former greatness after this episode.
Highlights: Quark saving the day, Garak reacting to the news about Ziyal
This episdoe is 100% about Garak and that is what makes it awesome. Maybe I’m a little biased, but an entire episode about my favorite enigmatic character just does it for me. This is the first episode where we really start to get some serious back story, and clues about what Garak’s past actually is. Something is affecting Garak’s mind and causing him to have seizures. Bashir has started thinking of Garak as an actual friend, and is determined to figure out how to help him. Julian discovers that there is a device implanted in Garak’s head that is the source of his troubles. But, Garak being Garak, tells Bashir not to worry about it, makes several astute witticisms, and leaves sick bay.
But, after Garak gets black out drunk at Quarks and attacks Bashir, Julian decides to try and unravel his friend’s mysterious past. Through a combination of detective work, help from Odo, and a series of half-clues from Garak it is revealed that the device in Garak’s head was planted by the Cardassian intelligence agency The Obsidian Order. But, to Julian’s surprise, this was not done as a punishment, but as a field tool for Obsidian agents. The device is supposed to be used to counter act torture, blocking out pain and making the body feel good. But, in his years of exile Garak has learned to use the device, and has gotten addicted to it as a way to deal with the pain of day to day life. As a result of this, the device is malfunctioning, and will eventually kill him.
It’s impossible to properly convey how the layers are peeled back and Garak’s past is slowly revealed. Garak keeps telling the same story over and over, making subtle changes to it as the episode goes on. But, in each case the story revolves around the death or betrayal of a man Garak knew, called Elim. Bashir eventually meets up with the former head of The Obsidian Order Enabren Tain, who informs Bashir that Elim is Garak’s first name, and that Garak hasn’t changed a bit. This information causes Julain to realize that all the stories Garak has told him over the last few days were lies.
Using information he obtained from Tain, Julian is able to save Garak, who remains as enigmatic as always. The best part about this episode is that it starts the long series of reveals about Garak and his past. Most of the time each lie Garak tells has a grain of truth, and as those grains start stacking the truth is revealed.
Highlights: This scene and everyone like it
When I sat down to start watching this series over again, I had a talk with a buddy of mine who was going to join in the viewing. We were trying to remember what the best and worst episodes were. I remember going on an on about the episode “where the Cardassians and Romulans try to destroy the Founders”. Well, it turns out that this was the episode in question, and it was in fact awesome. How lucky!
This is technically the second part of a two-parter, “Improbable Cause” being part one. This was the first time a Star Trek two-parter had different names for the episodes, but it becomes a recurring theme for DS9.
This episode focuses on the Cardassian-Romulan fleet heading into the Gamma Quadrant to find and destroy the Founders, thus ending the threat of the Dominion. For starters, this is a pretty intuitive coalition. The idea of joining the Obsidian Order, and The Tal Shiar together to form some sort of super group elicits a very real tingle in my nerd core. The start of this episode once again proves how worthless DS9 is at guarding the wormhole. The entire Cardasssian-Romulan fleet uncloaks on their doorstep and walks through the entrance, and there is nothing the station can do to stop them. Much like when the Jem’Hadar pour out and head towards Cardassia in later seasons.
Garak and Odo are on the the Cardassian flagship, along with returning ex-Obsidian Order head Enabren Tain. Tain is Garak’s former boss/mentor/hero, and he offers Garak a chance to rejoin the Obsidian Order and reclaim his past life. Garak is way into this idea. But, it comes with a price. Tain wants Garak to extract information from Odo about the Founders. Garak is less into that idea. The scenes between Odo and Garak are really the best part about this entire episode. Sure, you have some sweet space battles, and some exciting political intrigue, but watching Garak try to find a way out of the situation he and Odo are in is very compelling.
What makes it even better is when Garak shows up to torture Odo, Odo is less than concerned, since you can’t really hurt a changeling. But, it turns out the Vulcans have a device that prevents Odo from being able to access his abilities. Don’t worry, you’ll never see that device again(convenient). So, Garak is forced to actually go through with the ordeal. He desperately wants to get back to his people, but he also has a weird sense of friendship, and doesn’t want to hurt Odo. The interrogation scenes between the two make for fantastic television. Odo is experiencing real pain for the first time, but remains defiant to Garak’s questions, and in fact doesn’t even have any information to give him. Garak is getting more and more desperate to get something from Odo, or he risks getting one, or both of them killed. In the end Odo finally cracks and reveals something that he has never told anyone; he wants to go home and live with his people. This explicitly draws the parallel between he and Garak as men in exile from their homes, both longing to return to their peoples. Garak turns off the machine, allowing Odo to revert and heal, and lays on the ground, head in hands, ashamed of what he’s done.
Meanwhile, Starfleet has told Sisko to stay put, and not attempt to rescue Odo. Sisko tells them he has no intention of going anywhere, as he puts the keys in the ignition of the Defiant. As they race to try and save Odo, everyone’s favorite background character Eddington steals some spark plugs from the Defiant, and sets them adrift. He tells Sisko he was just following some Admiral’s orders, and Sisko says he can get down with that. Little does Sisko know that some day he will blow up a planet because of this fucking dude.
Finally, the most exciting part of this episode is the arrival of the Caradassian-Romulan fleet at the Founder’s home world. As they arrive, they realize the planet is empty, just as every single Jem’Hadar ship ever made uncloaks. What follows is basically the Wolf 359 of the Cardassian and Romulan Empires. In the confusion, Garak manages to get both himself and Odo to an escape pod. Garak’s insane loyalty forces him to try and save Tain as well, but Tain is having a pretty bad day and just wants to explode.
Back home on the station we get one final eerie scene between Odo and Garak in the wreckage of Garak’s shop. The entire conversation between the two takes place in the reflection a mirror, which adds an ominous layer to the discussion. The fact that Garak is a man who can kill at the drop of hat, lie through his teeth, and yet can feel such deep levels of remorse for what he’s done to a friend, is the definition of what makes his character work.
If you were wondering whether or not Sisko got court marshaled for disobeying his orders, you’ve never watched Star Trek.
Highlights: the look Tain gives Garak when he realizes he is hiding his friendship with Odo, SPACE FIGHTS!, the tease about the Dominion coming after the Klingons next
And there you have it! All in all, Deep Space 9 is still a show I like a lot, but it’s not as problem free as I remember. It’s also still easily the best of all the Star Trek franchises, which still isn’t saying a whole lot, but facts are facts.
Now the real pain begins. Voyager is next. May God have mercy on us all….