Every few years, like Babylon 5, I rewatch DS9. I think I’ve watched DS9 10-12 times now, and I know there will be a next time in the coming years. I started the 1st season in February 2019 and I finished it only this year midway September 2020! When it comes to DS9 (or Babylon 5) and don’t want to rush through the show, I only watch one or two a week, so it won’t be over inside of six weeks or something. Probably everybody knows DS9 never ran solo, always in pairs, first with TNG, after that with Voyager. For most Star Trek fans DS9 was considered their least favorite. I however fell in love with the show from the start, perhaps in part because my first encounter with the show was the 3-part opener of the second season.
I am the first one to agree that the first season wasn’t great and that even for a Star Trek fan it could be hard to go through at times. Still there were some interesting episodes at the beginning of the first season which made me enjoy this show very early on. Of course the pilot is a good one, but episodes like “Past Prologue”, “Captive Pursuit” and “A Man Alone” also stand out. The weaker episodes in the beginning definitely are: “Q-Less”, even though Q (john de Lancie) was there, the episode wasn’t very interesting, “Move Along Home”, actually a really annoyingly bad episode, and “Battle Lines”. Pity we lose Bajoran spiritual leader Kai Opaka in this episode already, especially in such a mediocre episode. But the first season ended with two fantastic episodes, those two episode made me want more of DS9! “Duet” and “In the Hand of the Prophets” were really good episodes, on par with any best season episodes of the following seasons.
Some great recurring characters had been introduced in its first season, Garak (Andrew Robinson), Dukat (Marc Alaimo), Kai Opaka (Camille Saviola), Jennifer Sisko (Felecia M. Bell), Lwaxana Troi (Majel Barrett), Grand Nagus Zek (Wallace Shawn), Vedek Bareil (Philip Anglim) and of course Vedek Winn played by Louise Fletcher. And not to forget, Nog (Aron Eisenberg) & Rom (Max Grodénchik) also began as a recurring character. You can argue they remained recurring and officially that is probably the case but for me they very much belonged to the main cast of the show.
So as I said earlier, season 2 started off with an exciting 3-part opener, which I believe, at that time, hadn’t been done before on TV! This was a very good opening of the season, and it was just the beginning because in my opinion, season 2 already can be measured up with the following seasons. In the second season the name “the Dominion” is mentioned for the first time. It was in the episode “Rules of Acquisition”, a Ferengi episode, it’s nothing more than a mention but it soon changed the show significantly. My season 2 favorite episodes are: The opening 3-parter “The Homecoming”, “The Circle”, “The Siege”. Furthermore “Necessary Evil”, “Armageddon Game”, “Whispers”, “Paradise”, “Profit and Loss”, and all the way from episode 20 “The Maquis Part 1” till the 2nd season finale “The Jem’Hadar” where we finally see, in part, what the Dominion are made off. It starts of as a simple episode, a bit comedic it seems at first because Quark joins Ben & Jake Sisko with Nog to a planet in the Gamma Quadrant.
Season 3 starts off with an gripping 2-part episode about the Dominion. We get to see the leader of the Dominion and of course it has become clear that the leaders of the Dominion, the Changelings, are Odo’s people. Odo of course decides to stay in the Alpha Quadrant because he’s appalled by the standpoint of the changelings about solids, that the Changelings are superior beings and should rule over the solids in order to keep them in line.
Like season two, season three also is a strong season, a lot more great than mediocre episodes. Finally in season 3 Commander Sisko is being promoted to Captain and with that he gets a better look what becomes even better in the following seasons. It’s just too hard to name only 2 or 3 best episodes of this season, there are too many. My absolute favorites of this season is the two-parter “Improbably Cause” and “The Die is Cast”. The Romulan Tal Shiar are planning an all-out attack on the Changelings’ home world. Garak is being seduced by his former mentor (and later we also learn his father) to come along and has a job for him to show his loyalty to Tain. He has to question Odo, who had joined Garak, for information about the Dominion home world. Of course the Changelings already know the Romulans and the Cardassians are coming. Other great episodes: “The Search P1&2”, “Explorers”, “The House of Quark”, “Second Skin”, “Civil Defence”, “Defiant” (with T. Riker), “Past Tense 1&2”, “Life Support”, “Visionary” and “The Adversary”. One of the worst episodes, perhaps off all Star Trek, “Meridian”.
Season 3 is the first season without Star Trek: The Next Generation airing by its side. The Enterprise crew was going into the movies in DS9’s 3rd season. Star Trek Voyager was launched in 1995 during DS9’s 3rd season. So DS9 never really got to shine on its own.
Due to dropping viewer numbers and because the suits were anxious about the future of DS9, Commander Worf came over from TNG in season 4. At first I was not over enthusiastic about this move because Worf was not really my favorite character on the TNG. Furthermore I’m not really a fan of heavy Klingon episodes. But this move turned out to work well for the show DS9 as also for the character Worf because I feel he really grew much more on DS9 than he ever did on TNG. Although I still am not fond of heavy Klingon episodes, of the Klingon episodes there were on DS9, only a few (mainly: The Sword of Kahless) I found less interesting. Worf actually completed the DS9 family as if it had been predestined from the start that Worf would join DS9 after his stint on TNG was done. The season opened with a spectacular two-parter “The Way of the Warrior”, where Worf is being introduced.
Season 4 really is a fantastic season, best one yet and it has some fantastic stories and only a few letdowns. “The Visitor” is arguably one of the best episodes of the entire series, perhaps of all Star Trek episodes. Some fantastic Dominion driven episodes like the two-parter “Homefront/Paradise Lost”, “To the Death”, with the introduction of one of my favorite recurring characters ever: Weyoun. Another Alternate Universe called “Shattered Mirror”, some great Kira episodes, Dukat is being fleshed out deeper and the fantastic holo story “Our Man Bashir”. Usually I’m not a fan of Holodeck stories but this one is very fresh and entertaining. Also a very entertaining time-travel story where Quark, Nog, Rom and as it later turns out also Odo, get stuck on Earth in the past in Roswell New Mexico in 1947.
Another great episode imo, a masterpiece Odo episode called “Crossfire” where he is forced to guard the First Minister Shakaar who falls in love with (Odo’s beloved) Kira Nerys. To his dismay he has to witness Kira falling for the First Minister also. A season where Ben Sisko has to make a hard choice when Kassidy is caught working for the maquis, where Quark is terminally ill or yet it turns out he isn’t, where Rom establishes a union for the workers/colleagues of Quarks and where Odo is being robbed of his changeling abilities because the changeling judged him for the murder on one of his own kind, back in the season 3 season finale “The Adversary”.
Season 5 is also a very solid season, with only one episode we happily could do without. Of course that can only be that Risa episode “Let He Who Is Without Sin...”! What were they thinking creating this garbage episode. For me that was the only stinker. The season started strong, not as strong as last season, with Apocalypse Rising where Sisko, Odo, O’Brien get Klingon prosthetics to join Worf to the Klingon Home world in order to expose Gowron, who is believed to be a changeling spy. Of course this is ultimately not the case. Season 5, 1996, is also the 30th anniversary of Star Trek and for that special occasion they (the creators) created a special episode called “Trial and Tribble-ations”. Of course Star Trek: Voyager did a similar thing with episode called “Flashback” with Captain Sulu, although an okay episode, it was not as good as Trial, not by a long shot. Trial and Tribble-ation was an instant hit with the fans and rightly so, this was so well done, such a great story.
So in these first episodes Odo is human, robbed of his changeling abilities, he has a hard time accepting his new life, the need to eat, real sleep, having sore muscles etc. The creators could perhaps have done a bit more than that but the solution episode I thought was a nice one, episode 12 “The Begotten”, where Odo gets, what first is to be believed, a dead changeling from Quark but turns out it was still alive. He gets help from Dr. Mora. As he tries to get the young changeling to try and make shapes, on the other side of the station is Kira about to have Keiko & Miles' baby. Shakaar and O’Brien are both there and they weren’t really behaving like men but more like children. I thought it was a nice episode, the Odo story very touching, the Kira story a bit humorous but both about an infant, both Odo and Kira sad. Kira of course because ultimately she gave birth to a child which wasn’t really hers to keep, Odo, happy to get his Changeling abilities back but sad to have lost the infant.
After this nice story there are many more exciting stories, like “For the Uniform” where Sisko goes very far to catch Eddington, perhaps too far? The two-parter “In Purgatory’s Shadow/By Inferno’s Light”, where in we learn what has happened to the Romulans and Cardassians from the season 3 two-parter “Improbably Cause/The Die is Cast” and we also learn that the doctor Bashir we have been watching the previous episodes, was in fact a Changeling! Great Worf stuff in this episode also. From “Dr. Bashir, I presume” with Robert Picardo, to “Children of Time”, to “Blaze of Glory” and one episode which grew on me as one of the best episodes of season 5 “In the Cards”, we finally get the season finale which is perhaps my favorite episode of the season where the Federation is forced to evacuate the station because the Dominion and the Cardassians who also now belong to the Dominion, come and take the station because it’s strategic value and because Dukat wants his station back!
And so we are at the start of perhaps my favorite period of DS9…the first six episodes of season 6. The 6-part (7 if you also count the season 5 finale “A Call to Arms”) was an exceptional piece of television. I loved every minute of it, I thought the occupation of the station, which of course wasn’t an occupation according to Weyoun, was done great, I loved how Odo priorities get lost, how Rom becomes a hero, how Kira realizes she’s not fighting back. It’s something I look forward to with each re-watch.
The first Ferengi episode this season was a great one, “The Magnificent Ferengi”, with Iggy Pop as a Vorta. Mostly Ferengi episodes are not really my favorites but this one hit all the right notes. Like every season, season 6 also has a few forgettable episodes like “Resurrection”, pity they couldn’t come up with a better story for the character Bareil. Other letdowns: “Profit and Lace and Time’s Orphan” but that’s about it. It also has some of its best episodes, like “Far Beyond the Stars”, “Inquisition”, “His Way” and “The Sound of her Voice”. And of course perhaps the best episodes of the whole series: “In the Pale Moonlight”. Where Sisko lures the Romulans into the war with the much needed help of Garak. With the last episode, “Tears of the Prophet”, we say goodbye to the character Jadzia Dax. Shame really, could have been a fun season for Jadzia and Worf.
Where, IMO, Voyager and TNG where over its peak the final 2 seasons, DS9 still was going strong! The two-part season 7 opener we see how Ben Sisko and the Wormhole aliens or the Prophets are connected. Then the new character Erzi Dax is being introduced in, what I think were, too many episodes. In hindsight, I think if Terry Farrell had stayed on the last season, the first 10 episodes would have been better because of her established relationships with her friends and her marriage with Worf. Does not mean I dislike Ezri, I think she’s a entertaining character but the episodes written for her weren’t that great. In the first 10 episodes still a few standout episodes like of course “The Siege of AR-558”, where we see gritty stand against the Dominion on a planet. And of course the aftereffect of this episode, “It’s Only a Paper Moon”. Also "Treachery, Faith and the Great River" where Weyoun seeks asylum with Odo.
Than episode 16 is where it all begins, the last 10 episodes, including the 90 min series finale. The 10-part series finale starts off with one of my favorite season 7 episodes: “Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges”, a Bashir episode where he works for Section 31, after consulting Captain Sisko of course. I think Alexander Siddig as Bashir really shines in this episode and you see here how much he has grown from the pilot till this episode. In the remaining 9 episodes, Ben Sisko proposes to Kassidy Yates but gets a warning from the Prophets in the form of his own mother, that he should not marry Kassidy, because this only will lead to sorrow. After some deliberation he still marries her, and later Kassidy tells Ben she’s pregnant!
The war by then has been intensified, Worf is missing, after the Defiant break up their search for him because of heavy Dominion activity, Ezri Dax goes off to find him and she does. But they are captured by the Breen and they bring them as a gift to Weyoun and Worf and Ezri are a witness to the Breen joining the Dominion against the Federation. Damar, who is realizing the Cardassian people are nothing more than a foot sweep to the Dominion and he no longer accepts that. He frees Worf and Ezri and asks them to help the Cardassians fight the Dominion from Cardassian home world. Damar starts an opposition on his home world.
Dukat who is now in service of the Pah Wraith, gets plastic surgery and becomes Winn’s apprentice by misleading her. Winn’s urge for power is an important part of why he succeeds. Kira and Odo, who now also has been infected by the Female Changeling at the time the station was in Dominion hands at the beginning of season 6, are joining Damar on Cardassia to help them with the revolution part which Kira of course has a lot of experience with during the occupation. Don't you love how Kira looks in her Federation uniform?
Bashir and O’Brien lured sloan to DS9 so they can interrogate him to give them the cure to save Odo. They have to go inside his mind to finally find it. In a battle Worf kills chancellor Gowron, making Martok the new chancellor. And not Quark but Rom becomes the new Grand Nagus. The season finale is a fight between the Pah Wraith and the Prophets and between the Federation and the Dominion. In both cases of course evil loses. Sisko, at least for the time being, remains with the Prophets but promises his new wife Kassidy he will back, not sure when though. Odo has to go back to the Great Link to lead his people after the Dominion lost the war.
In the last 10 episodes happens so much I probably miss a few things here but most of you whom are reading this, know DS9 by heart and can fill in the blanks. Others, just go and watch is fantastic series (again).