June 18 2024

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Ten things I love about Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

4 min read
Terok Nor

Terok Nor

 

It seems unbelievable to me that Deep Space Nine is now 22 years old. For no other reason than ‘just because’ I’m sharing some of the reasons why I still love this show immensely. These are not deeply thought out – they are delivered almost off the cuff to see what things spring to my mind.

I am mortified that Deep Space Nine may not get a Blu-ray release given the excellent remastering work on The Next Generation. I hope it gets its time to shine in HD.

  1. Changelings and Salome Jens. In early interviews Rene Auberjonois (Odo) thought that Odo wouldn’t meet his people. But he did, and boy were they trouble. The whole Changeling arc was just brilliant… from their painful background hunted by solids, to leaders of the Dominion. Dilemmas abound for Odo, and scene-stealing scenes from Salome Jens (the female Shapeshifter). Just thinking of her speech “They’re dead, you’re dead, Cardassia is dead. Your people were doomed from the moment they attacked us” sends shivers down the back of my neck as I write this paragraph.
  2. The battles. Okay, I enjoy the space battles, so sue me. But Deep Space Nine took us to levels we’d never seen in Star Trek before. Wolf 359 looks like a tea party with the Borg in comparison to the epic battles we got in Deep Space Nine. The Klingon attempt to take the station in “The Way of the Warrior”, the Cardassians taking the station in a “A Call to Arms”, retaking of Deep Space Nine in “A Call to Arms” and then the demise of the Defiant in “The Changing Face of Evil” all gave awesome moments. But it wasn’t just a jolly for me – it also conveyed the horrific damage done to the Alpha Quadrant resulting from the Dominion influence.
  3. “Whispers”. When I started with Deep Space Nine I didn’t really like it. I was (quite) young, an ardent TNG fan and I saw DS9 as an imposter. Which is ironic, as it turned out to be my favourite Trek. But “Whispers” was the episode that changed everything. Not a widely acclaimed DS9, but for me one of its finest hours. The genuine intrigue and sinister vibe that the episode portrays throughout, followed by its shocking ending that Chief O’Brien was an imposter just won me over. I started buying all the videos from that moment, and was a DS9 convert after this season two gem.
  4. “And now, the continuation”. At the time I found the simple novelty of a three parter in season two great. Even if it did feel like 2 or 3 different episodes forced together.
  5. “In the Pale Moonlight/His Way”. Arguably either of these episodes deserves its own entry – but for me the fact they were together in the episode order and on one VHS tape (ageing myself again) sums up DS9’s brilliance. Two episodes of such contrasting content and tone – one of political intrigue and ‘the road to hell’, and the other a love story set in a big band era – yet both are so brilliant, and there’s no feeling of collision between two very different stories. DS9’s confidence at this point was well deserved and shone brightly with these episodes.
  6. Vic Fontaine. Arguably just an extension of point five. But James Darren and the big band theme worked wonderfully with Deep Space Nine. I was listening to The Way You Look Tonight earlier today, I couldn’t help but grin at the line “and that smile that wrinkles your nose” and remembering Vic singing it to Kira. What show can have a moment resonate with such warmth 16 years later from a simple song?
  7. “Duet”. Star Trek has a knack for doing its best work in bottle shows. Look to TNG’s “A Measure of a Man” and “The Drumhead” and then there’s DS9’s “Duet”. Slipped in at the end of a shaky, formative season. A low budget affair. But a story that offers a masterclass in performance from Nana Visitor and Harris Yulin. The end is annoyingly simplistic yet is absolutely heart breaking and is still one of Star Trek’s finest hours.
  8. Characters changed. I love TNG and I don’t want this article to indicate otherwise. But did the characters really change? Picard remains Picard. But in Deep Space Nine, I can see the journey. Sisko, from bitter reluctant Emissary to the character we saw at the end. Kira, from terrorist fighter to running Deep Space Nine. Almost every character clearly changes from the first episode to the last and I love it.
  9. No Borg. I still admire the show’s stance in not resorting to the Borg. They tried Q and it failed quite badly. The Klingon war story and introduction of Worf was, let’s be honest, not from a position of confidence but of defence. But through all this they never got tempted to play with the Borg, and I admire Deep Space Nine for trying not to jump on the Borg bandwagon. Something that Voyager and even Enterprise cannot say.
  10. Louise Fletcher. Enough said.

What are your favourite moments? Sound off below.

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39 thoughts on “Ten things I love about Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

  1. DS9 never overtook TNG as my favourite series but it is definitely second. What I loved most were the continuing storylines and the interesting characters.

  2. Where does one start? Kira Nerys, my favorite female Trek character. Rich stories – running the gamut from sad ones to ones that made one laugh. Where else would a baseball game make one laugh in the midst of a serious war? Or where else was a hero allowed to show his flaws as in In the Pale Moonlight?

    I came to DS9 a bit late (rather burned out by Trek at that point) and loved it. It came the closest to the original series in tone and I find it to be the true successor to TOS.

  3. DS9 has proven that Trek with a continuing storyline can not only work, but work brilliantly. To me that’s what set it apart, and the return to the formulaic self-contained episode recipe used on Voyager and Enterprise is what put the final nail in the franchise’s coffin, IMO.

    If I had to binge-watch *one* of the Trek series, I think I’d enjoy DS9 more than any of the others.

  4. Thank you for this. I love DS9 with a passion – it’s my favorite series, edging out TNG. I would add “Second Skin.” The first time I saw this episode, I actually wondered if Kira was really the Cardassian Iliana Ghemor – the episode was that good. “Second Skin” also led to the epic Iliana Ghemor arc in the DS9 relaunch novels, which I have thoroughly enjoyed.

  5. “The Visitor” got to me when I first watched it. Hell, stil does whenever I watch it. One of my favourite Star Trek episodes from any series.

  6. The “Borg bandwagon”? What about the Klingon bandwagon, or the Cardassian bandwagon?

  7. I loved the fact that DS9 was continued from episode to episode, creating an enormous canvas on which they painted a spectacular saga of love & war. The Dominion war, stretched over the last few seasons, may be the best Trek ever done. (The massive space battles were some of the most exciting moments in the franchise’s history.) I loved the relationship between Quark & Odo (including Quark’s classic comment about the shapeshifter, after Odo snubbed him during his final exit). I loved the amount of detail invested into even the subset groups, such as the Vorta and the Jem’Hadar (who were simply subservient races created by the Dominion, and could have easily been kept as mere cardboard characters).

    I’ll admit that I didn’t really care for the show at first. It starts out slowly, and isn’t much fun until you get to know the characters and their individual traits, but that is true of most Trek series (the early episodes of TNG also took some getting used to). And it doesn’t really catch fire until the Dominion war saga kicks in, but once it does, it’s in a class by itself.

  8. TOS and DS9 are the Alpha and the Omega of Star Trek. They’re the only two of the series I own. Nothing else is necessary.

  9. Like you, i started out loving TNG first and the most and for that fact alone, it will always have a special place in my heart. DS9 conquered my heart right away but only in re-runs it ended up becoming my favorite show out of all the Star Trek shows. In terms of continuity and complexity it is unparalleled. I personally love the relationships of Miles and Julian, Quark and Odo, Jake and Nog and many of the recurring guest characters like Dukat, the female changeling, Moogie, the Nagus etc. etc. all helped make this show a masterpiece that stills seems relevant two centuries after it first aired.

  10. I totally agree…except for one thing. You may not have made it past season two of Enterprise, (I think most people didn’t), but the third season was a bold experiment. It was a single, cohesive, 22 (?) part story, that resonated with the times, presented high stakes, changed the series and Star Trek in general, and embraced ever-present continuity and relevance. It was also frequently very good. The fourth and final season, on the other hand, broke back into smaller pieces with stand alone eps as well as many two and three part arcs. The fourth season is not only the best, but one of the finest Trek seasons of all time. It finally embraced the lore, and the importance of what had come before, what was occurring now, and what we knew to come, all at once. With new writers and new purpose, that fourth season was the one that really came into its own, just in time to be cancelled. I firmly believe that there was no need to meander about so much at the start of the series, and that by the time season two began without a newly focused energy and justification for existence, the show was “earning” a cancellation. By the time it became great, it was too late.

    DS9 is easily my favorite as well, due largely to the format of the show making consequences and evolution central to the themes and characters. The cast ballooned, with more high quality characters in the secondary cast of guest stars than any trek has had in its primary cast. NOTHING was left behind, and there was no reason to assume that troubling issues would evaporate in the rear view mirror they way they did on Voyager. It evolved Star Trek. I want the blu Rays now.

  11. I wish DS9 would get an HD remaster but it will never happen. DS9 was the first Trek to film on digital cameras… And back then the resolution was terrible. TNG’s HD remaster exists because it was shot on film, something easily remastered. But old digital files? Not so much. :-/ Sadness. DS9 was the best Trek.

  12. In reference to point number 9, I offer the following quote: “If the Continuum has told you once, they have told you a thousand times: DON’T PROVOKE THE BORG!!!”

  13. DS9 became my favorite Trek after about the Necessary Evil episode. Wonderfully done, could have easily gone to 10 seasons as far as I was concerned.

  14. DS9 had the best theme song of all Trek shows (seasons 1-2-3 that is, before they screwed it up, trying to make it more dynamic). DS9 also had the best group of recurring guest characters of all Star Trek, and possibly of all television.

    DS9 had some fantastic highs but some pretty awful lows as well. The founders story arc with the Dominion war was memorable to say the least. And Garak was simply fascinating. On the other hand, the whole prophet, chosen one, story line has plagued the series all along. The last season was pretty bad mainly because of it. Avery Brooks was amazing when he was out of the uniform, playing the father, the son, the boyfriend, the old man’s buddy, the activist. But in uniform, playing a commanding officer, he was just bad and unconvincing.

    Overall, DS9 was a pretty good show, but not better than TOS or TNG.

  15. Yeah. A pretty good one. To me, ”The Wire” was an absolute classic, a memorable episode with some of the best dramatic acting ever seen in Star Trek.

  16. Loved Kira. To me, her back story and episodes with Dukat is what made the show really worth watching during the first seasons. Too bad they eventually completely wrecked the Dukat character. He deserved better.

  17. DS9 is my favorite TV show ever, bar none. To this mostly spot-on list I would add “The Visitor”. After all these years I still break down at the end. Also, Garak – Weyoun – Winn – Dukat… best supporting cast of any series. All of the characters grew and changed over 7 seasons, unlike the TNG characters, who with a few exceptions were largely two-dimensional.

  18. Never could get over her role in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and playing Kai Winn sure didn’t help matters. An actress I disliked playing a role I disliked in a religious story line I disliked. It was just too much for me.

  19. This past May, 2015, I began watching (thanks to Netflix) “Star Trek – Voyager” straight through. For the most part, this was the first time I’d seen the episodes since they originally aired. I was pleasantly shocked at how good the show was. (Except “Threshold”. My God, WHAT were they thinking???) I was watching episode after episode of Voyager, one right after the other. Upon watching the final episode, I was wishing that there was more.

    I then moved on to DS9. I have to be honest… I’ve been struggling to get myself to watch these episodes. I had not thought much of DS9 when it first aired and I have never watched the series again since. Exceptions being the premiere episode and “The Visitor” which I remembered enjoying. Now, watching again, I’m finding that I still don’t think much of the show.

    I’ve only gotten up to “Second Skin” (interesting that someone else here mentioned this episode.) While there have been many episodes that I have found to be very good (Dramatis Personae, Duet, The Alternate and Crossover) for the majority of the first two seasons and all first five episodes of Season Three, I have found to be rather poor. (Perhaps it will get better as Season Three progresses?) Episodes I have found to be absolutely awful include “The Passenger”, “Move Along Home”, “The Storyteller”, “Sanctuary”, “Playing God” and “Equilibrium”.

    The only two characters I enjoy are Odo and Quark. (I actually didn’t care for Quark when I first watched the series 22 years ago.) The remainder of the main characters do nothing for me. Bashir is an annoying twit. Dax is a snoozefest. Kira is just a fierce loudmouth. Miles is (and always was, even on TNG) just a blah, “Hey, I’m over here blending into the background” character. Jake is pretty much a non-character. Sisko can be great in some episodes but is usually unbearably dull. This seems to balance on whether or not Avery Brooks gets good direction in a particular episode.

    Dukat has been an interesting character in the few episodes he has been in. I must say though that Garak is an absolutely fantastic character. He ALWAYS brings so much to the stories or at least the scenes in which he is in.

    Louise Fletcher’s character is just grating – terrible. An evil character with (so far at least) no reason for being so evil. So far I’ve found the Bajor episodes and the Bajor characters boring. Though the Changelings have been in only one episode so far, I recall finding the entire Dominion storyline to be tedious. But I’m going to try and stay open-minded about what I haven’t re-watched as of yet. Perhaps my past opinions will change, as they have toward the Quark character.

    I actually video-taped TNG, DS9, VOY and ENT when they first aired. For me, The Next Generation is the best of the shows. I have been watching reruns (or my video tapes) of TNG ever since it first aired. Voyager is my next favorite. Though I have had DS9 on video tapes, I’ve never re-watched it. I’m hoping DS9 will get better as I keep watching now on Netflix. I’ve never watched “Enterprise” again since it first aired. I’ll try it again after I get through DS9. (IF I get through DS9. No, I will watch it all.) Then I’ll give TOS another try. I have seen most of TOS episodes, but definitely not all of them. Shatner can be a bit of a chore!

    Anyone who read all of this… by all means, point me in the right direction towards upcoming great episodes of DS9. I truly hope I end up enjoying the series and it’s characters. I know Worf joins the show, but as I write this, I cannot recall how he interacted within the show when he came aboard.

    For all of you who LOVE DS9, more power to you!

  20. First off, DS9 was, is, and almost certainly forever shall be my favorite Star Trek. It was amazing at the time and rewards rewatching two decades later. It wasn’t perfect though.

    It was often scattershot in dealing with plots, and left many elements hanging or unexplored for way too long. So, nearing the end, it felt like they were trying to wrap up threads as best they could, and not with the best of care. The Prophets/Pah Wraiths storyline was one of those, and the Pah Wraiths (and Dukat as cult leader) never felt like the sort of existential threat worthy of Sisko’s end/ascension. The biggest loose thread left open at the end of the series was Sisko’s original reason for assignment to Bajor: the planet’s entry into the Federation. That should have been the end of the series – Sisko’s mission accomplished. Instead it wasn’t even mentioned after the war began.

    The Founders, too, suffered a bit from the whiplash changes of direction mid-series. When they were first introduced, mentioned in “The Jem’hadar”, they were mysterious, commonly believed either to never interact with the outside world or to not exist at all – fabrications of the Vorta as a means of their own control over The Dominion. They infiltrated the Alpha Quadrant, and were rarely seen in their “natural form”. They were the galactic Keyser Söze – could be anywhere, or nowhere, and that was their power. Eventually, though, they became just another alien race, inexplicably always looking like Odo’s imperfect humanoid form, and with an extremely improbable sexual dimorphism (“female changeling” seems ridiculous for a race whose natural form was liquid and who only took on humanoid form to interact with others). What did they need Dukat or Damar for to control Cardassia? A Founder could have taken either’s identity and ruled directly, without the Cardassian public ever knowing…

    Finally, Section 31. Probably the most divisive topic Deep Space Nine introduced, I always came down on Odo’s side – that it would be ridiculous if The Federation DIDN’T have an organization like Section 31. The problem was, it was an organization that “kept a low profile”, and the bulk of its power came from being so secretive virtually no one outside 31 knew about 31 (“The first rule of 31 is that you don’t talk about 31.”) – but once they attempted to recruit Bashir, that low profile seemed to go right out the window. Sloane may not have lost any sleep about Bashir’s threat to expose 31, but he should have. An organization unknown for two centuries, suddenly letting people with knowledge of their existence and operations run wild – that was an unrealistic approach for such a secretive group. Had Sloane told Julian that he would leave that holodeck as a member of 31 or he wouldn’t leave at all, that would have made perfect sense, and could have led into some high-tension spy drama about Bashir trying to find a way to keep one step ahead of 31 while looking for a way to bring it down, or control it. What we got was ultimately unsatisfying and unbelievable.

    Again, DS9 is overall fantastic TV and Trek, and it was a high water for the franchise that may never be equaled (Season 3 of Enterprise was close, but it was only a single season…) It had fantastic characters (Garak, perhaps best Trek character ever?) and a great setting. It just could have been even better…

  21. what i remember-
    the crew launching the defiant on manual in ‘for the uniform’
    the crew in OS uniforms in ‘trials….’
    quark’s speech about peace in ‘maquis pt 2’
    the montage near the end ‘what you leave behind’
    the final shot of the same episode.

  22. As for me DS9 was much better than TNG. I truly hated TNG when it started. I still find most of their episodes lame, but this is opposite of DS9 for me. I have all the Trek movies and all six series complete, DS9 is the one I watch the most.

  23. DS9, TOS,4th season of Enterprise, STTAS, Some episodes of Voyager and last very few episodes of TNG. Picard was boring as hell. “What do you think number one?”

  24. DS9, TOS,4th season of Enterprise, STTAS, Some episodes of Voyager and last very few episodes of TNG. Picard was boring as hell.

  25. I have all the series and all of the movies but you are right, TOS and DS9 are the Alpha and the Omega of Star Trek, nothing else is necessary or matters.

  26. Before I read the article (only the headline), I jotted down my own list. Here are the ones that don’t overlap:

    KIRA – Easily the most well-rounded, nuanced, complex character in all of Star Trek. Nearly all of my favorite episodes featured Kira. Absolutely loved her arc. Nana Visitor is simply astonishing.

    VILLAINS – Dukat, Weyoun, Kai Wynn, the Female Shapeshifter, and even Garak. It was so great to see their own arcs, and to even see the story unfold from their vantage point at times. Something Star Trek had never done before.

    BAJORANS and CARDASSIANS – God, I just loved living within these two alien cultures for seven years. It was so rewarding to explore each species and their relationship with each other.

    THE STATION – It’s so beautiful and dangerous and calming and dark and alien. I think the best artistic design in Star Trek.

    FAR BEYOND THE STARS – Star Trek at it’s best. I remember watching it when it aired, and thinking to myself: ‘Yep, this is the greatest series ever.’

    (And three cheers to the No Borg observation!)

  27. Oh, that slow zoom out from Kira and Jake at the very end… more moving than anything else they did in the finale.

  28. Just as an aside – I recently rewatched Voyager, too. Overall, much better than my reaction to it when it was airing. Same goes for Enterprise, actually. I think the problem was just too much Star Trek all at the same time.

  29. The problem, for me anyway, is that the Borg are ultimately an impossible foe to believe. Voyager got so tedious because, I mean, how many times can a tiny little ship outsmart the entire Collective in their backyard? At a certain point, the Borg’s claims to near-perfection are entirely unbelievable because they’ve failed so many times. They fail to be terrifying. (I have a similar opinion of the Q, fwiw.)

    The other species at least have nuance and culture that can be explored. Although I won’t lie, I sometimes tire of the Klingons.

  30. I agree with you. There are some pretty lame TNG episodes. I’m a bit younger though and the reason I love TNG is because I grew up watching it with my dad and got attached to the characters more. I think DS9 is probably the superior show for quality of writing and depth of characters but I favour TNG mostly for sentimental reasons haha. I just completed my collection of TNG on Bluray and I would love to collect and watch through all the seasons of DS9 again in HD. Sadly, it doesn’t look like the remastered of DS9 is happening.

  31. Let’s not forget that TNG was plagued with internal problems during its first two seasons. Plus a writers strike in season 2. Also, most of the production talent was transferred from TNG to DS9 after TNG season 5. Most were also very eager to take advantage of the creative liberties DS9 would give them now that Gene and his ”dreadful” optimistic vision were out of the picture for good.

    Also, let’s not forget that it’s much easier to do story arcs than episodic. It’s also much easier to write about dark negative stuff than the contrary. That’s also why most TV shows follow that route, making TOS and TNG truly remarkable in their difference.

    DS9 ended up having a few more great episodes and a few less bad ones. But one must take into consideration that TNG, while trying to be positive and optimistic, enjoyed only three seasons of optimal creative conditions and stability. DS9, on the other hand, not tied to a tough positive and optimistic agenda, had optimal creative conditions and stability almost its entire run.

  32. There is nothing so gratifying as the DS9 experience. It is an old friend who is always welcome in your home. It is not a story, not a series. DS9 is the apex of Trek. Never have I felt as connected and compelled to be a part of, to live with Trek as I do with DS9. Tapestry, growth, animosity, friction, brilliant love, horrible-knife-stabbing loss, and an unhappy ending make for tragedyu2014for regular life. This was, is DS9. The departure from TNG’s episodic, formulaic stories spanned the course of one short season. By the end of season 1, there was a feel, a changing face of evil, manipulation and abhorrence that would define one of the many adversary-driven sub-plots. I believe that such planning & telling of story is called, “epic.” And, DS9 is epic. nnI wept when it ended. I still weep, thinking about how a good friend left me alone. DS9’s infectious, story-driven, character-building stories are akin to sharing the life of a good friend. This is a quality component that can only be sharedu2014and understoodu2014by the fans of DS9. It is the difference between quality and quantity.

  33. Completely agree. I only first watched DS9 recently (last year) and I’m now watching the whole run for a second time. When it ended the first time, I was sad there would be no more. Then, I discovered the DS9 relaunch novels, starting with the “Avatar” two book series. I love them and I’m eagerly anticipating the next installment which comes out in a few months. Have you read the DS9 relaunch books?

  34. Hardcore geekery here! Pleasure to read! Love DS9. Will get involved in the discussion soon! Xn

  35. If you loved the music of Dennis McCarthy, I suggest you check out the Intrada.com website. Amazing soundtracks, including a 4 CD set that covers all seven seasons of my fave Trek show, DS9. Limited edition of 3000, it ain’t cheap, but it’s worth it. Superbly mastered. Really brings back the feeling of the show, from episodes like The Visitor, One Little Ship, Our Man Bashir, Soldiers of Fortune, In The Pale Moonlight, The Siege of AR 558 (one my favorite episodes) and much, much more. I know I sound like an advertisement, but DS9 ain’t coming back. nnnI was fortunate to attend the DS9 wrap party in Los Angeles in 1999, when the show ended. A few of the show’s stars, Nana Visitor and Alex Siddig were there, as were Rene Auberjonois and Armin Shimerman. nnnLike most of you, I found DS9 to be superior to Next Gen. The characters, particularly Chief O’Brien and Dr. Bashir’s relationships seemed more real. When the Chief utters “I LOVE my wife” to Bashir, I couldn’t stop laughing. I wished it would have lasted one more season, but it ended on a high note for me.

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