Emissary written by Michael Piller and directed by David Carson
What’s it about: Phew that’s a toughie. The Cardassians are out, the Federation is in and a disparate bunch of rejects from a dozen races become our new crew.
Single Father: Watching Sisko desperately trying to get Jennifer free from the rubble in their quarters is heartbreaking. You would think that introducing a character failing to rescue to his wife would be detrimental to the show but it is devastating to watch and makes you feel for Sisko from the off. Thinking forward to Image in the Sand at the beginning of season seven (and I know they made things up as they went along but its astonishing how it all fits together so deliciously) we learn that Sisko’s mum was part prophet so when Opaka says that looking of the Celestial Temple was the journey he was always meant to take its not just a throwaway line. His whole life has been leading to this point. As well as providing an enthralling glimpse at the Prophets the scenes in the wormhole between Sisko and his mothers people these scenes are vital for the character. As he teaches them about humanity’s values they in turn show him how he is not moving on with his life and trapped in the past at the moment of his wife’s death. Its awesome character development for the first episode of the show, we get to see the first time Ben and Jennifer met, when they decided to have children, the birth and her death whilst also exploring his life as a single father afterwards. If all the other wonderful elements hadn’t already convinced me the moment Sisko breaks down finally convinced me I was going to love this show. Its raw emotion and its beautiful to watch.
Tasty Terrorist: Probably my favourite Star Trek character along with Odo and the one who is afforded the most exceptional character growth throughout the series. Even in season one Kira evolves from a woman who cannot leave her past behind to a woman who is looking to the future. Anybody bemoaning that Ensign Ro didn’t make it from TNG (she was a lovely touch of grumpiness in that show) should relax because Nana Visitor brings such presence and charisma to the role of Kira that even at the end of Emissary you’ll be thinking ‘Ensign who?’ It’s so refreshing to hear characters criticising the arrogant and luxurious Federation, Kira is literally appalled that as soon as the Cardassian have been driven out the Federation arrives. It’s an opinion that we would see change over the years as her character develops. Don’t you just want to cheer when Kira plays Russian roulette with Jasad (quoted in full below because it is so awesome). She has some guts and (forgive me) shits all over Troi and Crusher as strong female lead.
Unknown Sample: Despite the fact that in these early episodes he looks like his head has been beaten to a pulp with a mallet, Odo is the series most fascinating character and brought to life by the extremely talented Rene Auberjonois. A man who can change his shape into anything he wants, he doesn’t know where he comes from, who is an outsider and who runs security with an iron fist – what’s not to like? He’s gruff, rude, insulting and rather wonderful. ‘All my life I have been forced to pass myself as one of you, never knowing who I am or wear I came from. Well the answers to some of those questions might be on the other side of that wormhole.’ Be careful what you wish for Odo.
Everyday O’Brien: Colm Meaney is one of the strongest performers on TNG and O’Brien the one character with the most untapped potential so it was a stroke of genius to transfer him to the station. Suddenly O’Brien gains real focus and throughout the seven years on DS9 we get to see the ebb and flow of his marriage as he juggles his personal life and the struggles on the station. In any other show that would be expected but it is so rare to see that sort of character progression in Star Trek and whilst there will be highs (Accession) and lows (Fascination) it’s a very worthy and absorbing ride, adding more depth and realism to the show. Imagine how dull it must have been standing around in that transporter room day after day…transferring to DS9 must be like a slap in the face to O’Brien! Somehow he makes all that technobabble bearable because he has such entertaining bitch fights with the bossy computer! Their fractious relationship starts here… ‘Computer…you and I need to have a little talk…’
Rules of Acquisition: Another gift to the Star Trek universe is the depth that Deep Space Nine gave to the Ferengi. What had we seen of them before this? A really bad attempt to make them the new big bad and then hideously unfunny comedy stooges (Captain’s Holiday). With Armin Shimerman, Max Grodenchik and Aron Eisenberg on board you have three actors committed to making this race work within this setting. It’s astonishing what they achieve together and their chemistry is extremely palatable and it doesn’t take long (I would say by season three) before they are the most likable and lovable family in the Star Trek universe. Quark is a brilliant character – they get him about as right as Voyager got Neelix wrong. He’s devious, selfish, perverse and hugely critical of anybody who isn’t a Ferengi and Shimerman always plays him with a twinkle in his eye and a smile in his heart. He gets the best moment at the end of the episode when he slyly puts his hand on Kira’s thigh and nearly gets it bitten off!
Eight Lifetimes: Considering she would become such a vital character from the next season onwards it is Dax that I find the hardest to get a handle on in the pilot. As far as I remember Terry Farrell was the last of the regular cast to be offered the job and some of the pilot was already shot at that point. It shows because she clearly is trying to grasp at anything at this early stage and seems remarkably restrained compared the good time girl in later years. It’s wonderful to be able to see the transference of the symbiont from Curzon to Jadzia. It’s a relationship that will be explored in some depth later in the series.
GE Doctor: Bless Bashir in these first few seasons. In all honesty they didn’t quite get his character right until season three but in retrospect when you learn his big secret it kind of makes sense of his bumbling attitude at first. His chief characteristic this season seems to be to bed Dax so at least he’s not completely daft. Kira’s admonishment of his dewey eyed Federation superiority is lovely.
Young Sisko: Like a lot of things in Deep Space Nine the creators looked at the mistakes they had made in the past and decided to have another shot and get it right. Jake works because of the strength of the chemistry between Cirroc Lofton and Avery Brooks and thanks to some strong writing he is a very likable child character. In Star Trek terms that is what we call a miracle. When he gets too whiny about the state of the station his father takes the piss out of him which is exactly what everybody should have done with Wesley all the time.
Sparkling Dialogue: ‘I thought I’d say hello first and then take the office’ ‘Hello’
‘When governments fall people like me are lined up and shot.’
‘D’you know at first I didn’t think I was going to like him.’
‘My mother warned me to watch out for junior officers’ ‘You mother is going to adore me!’
‘I love the Bajorans, such a deeply spiritual people…but they make a dreadful ale.’
‘You can make yourself useful by bringing your Federation medicine to the natives. Oh you’ll find them a friendly, simply folk.’
‘You exist here.’
‘You’re probably right Jasad and if you were dealing with a Starfleet officer they would probably admit we have a hopeless cause here. But I am just a Bajoran whose been fighting a hopeless cause against the Cardassians all her life so if you want a war, I’ll give you one.’
‘Bloody Cardassians! I’ve just got the damn things fixed!’
‘If you don’t take that hand of my hip you’ll never be able to raise a glass with it again.’
The Good: Can we say getting off on the right foot? I think so! The pre titles sequence is like nothing we have ever seen in Star Trek before. Well I say that of course we have seen the results of Wolf 359 but this takes us right into the thick of the action that we were denied in The Best of Both Worlds Part II. What jumps out about this series straight away is how close it allows us to get to its characters and how dark the tone is. Whilst the teaser sports some incredible special effects (I fainted when I heard what the budget was for this premiere) what’s really important is that it makes this fight scene personal. A man desperately tries to save his wife but fails and just about gets his son to safety before the ship blows up and Jake loses his mother. That turns out to be our new protagonist for the show and straight away we feel for the man and there is a fascinating backstory to exploit. Its still one of the best openings to any Star Trek episode, a violent upheaval from the lily-white tone of The Next Generation. And its great to see Locutus again. By giving depth to Wolf 359 Deep Space Nine finds its groove and its mission statement – giving some depth to the Star Trek universe. The shot of the ship blowing up reflecting against the glass of Sisko staring out at it is one of the most emotive special effects in the pilot. Much more so than the Enterprise Deep Space Nine feels like a character in itself with its distinctive, functional and yet somehow beautiful exterior and the gorgeous array of sets inside. Visually this is the most original and idiosyncratic of Star Trek shows and everything from the multi level Operations (under lit to give it some atmosphere), Quarks Bar (which is teeming with life) and the Promenade (which is my all time favourite Star Trek set) give the show a real visual hook. But more on that as we progress with the series. The comparison with the shiny handed-on-a-plate-luxury of the Enterprise the station is grim, broken, rubble strewn with weary faces walking the Promenade. It makes the show something worth investing in because we get to see them pulling the place together. Head forward to season four/five and DS9 is a gorgeous way station and a hub of activity in the sector. Just as an example of how the characters develop in this show our very first scene sees Nog as a petty thief and his last scene in the series he is being put forward for the position of Lieutenant in Starfleet. The Bajoran matte painting complete with temples, gardens and pools is a stunning planetary surface. Love the gorgeous location work on the beach – those American shorelines shit all over our British ones! The Bajoran spiritualism gives Trek a whole new angle and more layers to unpeel about this fascinating society.
The idea that the Orbs that can take you back to a moment in your past allows for some nice visuals and emotive storytelling. Look at the amount of aliens on display when Quark’s Bar opens – Star Wars Cantina eat your heart out! Interesting that Deep Space Nine seems to consist of all the alien races that haven’t really been given the time of day by TNG – the Trill, Ferengi, Cardassians and the Bajorans! So many staples of the show are introduced in the first few episodes; Dukat, Garak, Nog, the Prophets, the Wormhole – it just goes to show how right they got it from the off. Marc Alaimo has such presence I can see why they kept bringing him back. What an insidious bunch, closing the bar and using Odo as a bag for winnings to sneak onto the Cardassian ship – I think this bunch are going to do fine. I’m glad they left it out of the titles sequence because the wormhole bursting open is a great shock. You have no idea what is happening when the landscape inside the wormhole switches from a rock face to an idyllic garden before the Orb flies at our heroes and the ground cracks up with light but it is gorgeously filmed and enchanting to watch unfold. Its not often that I will say a scene in Star Trek is like a work of art but the amount of time and effort that has gone into editing together the scenes in the Wormhole has to be acknowledged. The scenes flow beautifully, are visually stunning and reinforce the exploration of humanity that Star Trek exemplifies. It’s extraordinarily good. Wowza, they blow the shit out of the Promenade and we see screaming bloody victims – we have never seen anything like this before.
The Bad: The scene where Sisko and Picard meet reveals the one advantage TNG has over DS9: Patrick Stewart. He manages to convey with a simple look more than Avery Brooks does with the entire scene. One harmful aspect of the first two years is how pathetic those little runabouts are. The series kicked ass when the Defiant rocked up at the station. Dax only seems to speak technobabble and I need a translator.
Myth Building: The end of the Cardassian Occupation of Bajor leaves the planet in a precarious state and in steps the Federation to help to facilitate their problems. The Wormhole is introduced and contains the Prophets which the Bajoran people worship. Whilst it would fluctuate throughout the series the Cardassians are definitely the biggest badasses of the first series (later it would be the Klingons, the Dominion…and then the Cardassians again!).
Orchestra: I love the piano score as Sisko explains about linear time through baseball.
Foreboding: Kira talks about the government falling and the planet falling into civil war and it’s nice to see that followed up in the opening three parter of series two.
Result: Exciting, unpredictable with a highly engaging new cast of characters and a welcome touch of dirt to the Star Trek universe, Emissary barely gets a step wrong. Visually the story is a feast for the eyes with some atmospheric new sets, exciting action sequences and a masterpiece of editing for the astonishing sequences set inside the wormhole. I remember when I first watched Emissary and I was completely blown away by the scale of the story, the rawness of the emotion and the gorgeous look of the piece. I had never seen anything like it in Star Trek before and it felt like someone had taken all my complaints about TNG and ironed them out into a much darker, classier show. Plus the show gets to have its cake and eating it by having Sisko and Dax discover the wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant this series gets to enjoy a stationary space opera and a whole new area of space to explore! This is a show that isn’t afraid to pull a mirror on humanity’s weaknesses, that handles religion and space opera with equal aplomb and Emissary kick starts seven incredible years of mythos building and outstanding character drama: 10/10
Past Prologue written by Katharyn Powers and directed by Winrich Kolbe
What’s it about: A Bajoran terrorist seeks asylum on DS9 and has a plan up his sleeve to get rid of the Federation for good…
Single Father: Wowza, what fiery exchanges between Sisko and Kira in this story. This is one relationship that is going to take a while to settle down. Its nice to see that Sisko can chew out his staff with the best of them – I certainly would not want to get on the wrong side of this guy. The look between Kira and Sisko at the end of the episode speaks volumes and shows how strong these characters already are that we can get inside their heads so vividly.
Tasty Terrorist: The wounds of the Occupation are still very much open and she spits out her disgust at the Cardassian ship firing at Tahna’s scout ship. Everything about Kira is severe in this episode; her attitude, her dialogue, even down to aesthetics like her uniform and hair. As soon as Kira goes over Sisko’s head and contacts Starfleet I was thinking ‘you’re in big trouble now…’ Kira sees the Federation as a means to an end, nothing more and that’s a refreshing viewpoint. To be fair to Tahna when he tells Kira that once she gets into her comfortable bed with the Federation she wont be able to get out he is right. Its great to see the character so conflicted between what she perceives to be her duty to her world and her allegiance to their new allies. It wont be the last time this season Kira is placed in an uncomfortable situation like this. Even though she has had nightmares about some of the terrible things she did as a terrorist at least she new who her enemy was then.
Unknown Sample: Odo’s gruff exterior makes his tenderness with Kira all the more touching. They share a quiet conversation about all her doubts and then he makes her mind up for you. Its lovely character moments like this that really elevates this show.
GE Doctor: Poor Bashir, he hops around Ops with his exciting news about Garak and nobody seems to give a damn! He’s hopelessly naïve at this point but its rather fun and this pairing would mine a rich seam of characterisation. O’Brien can barely look at him when he starts gabbling about Federation medical secrets. He’s not very good at this subterfuge lark, actually trying out the suit jacket!
Plain and Simple: Garak makes an immediate impression and would continue to thrive as the series goes through its many phases of development. A simple tailor who (possibly) used to work for the Cardassian Obsidian Order and is (potentially) stationed on DS9 as a spy for his people. That’s a golden character spec. His first scene with Bashir is unforgettable, he is so charmingly camp it seems as though he is almost coming on to the poor chap and later only Garak would dare to offer silk lingerie to a Klingon woman! What’s interesting about the scenes between Garak and the Duras sisters is how much more appealing this fresh Cardassian character is compared to the old TNG stalwarts. It shows great promise for future semi-regular roles in the series.
Sparkling Dialogue: ‘I’m so glad to have made such an interesting new friend today.’
‘Go over my head again and I’ll have yours on a platter!’
The Good: There is something about the fixed location of DS9 that means I don’t really mind when they have bottle shows. When TNG and VOY do all on the ship shows it feels like an exercise in budget saving because their mission statements are to constantly move on and see what’s out there but with DS9 a station bound story feels like a bonus. Its an instant example that Sisko and his Federation officers cannot simply walk away from the problems they face in Bajoran space like the spaceship set series can. The Bajoran/Cardassian conflict is here to stay and its wonderful to see a Star Trek show tackle that sort of long term problem. It’s great to see a franchise that is seen as bland and as toothless as Star Trek handling a weighty theme like repatriating terrorists. Clearly this show means business. O’Brien’s quiet exchange about the Cardassians with Sisko in Ops shows the benefit of having such distinct personalities on board. I love all the nonsense about Bashir buying a new suit, its exactly Garak’s style to lure the young Doctor into his shop with such an obvious and irreverent cover story. The plotlines dovetail beautifully towards the climax with the reason for the Cardassians pursuing Tahna and the purpose of the Duras sisters coming together to form a gripping terror plot to destroy the wormhole and ensure Bajoran independence. Nice to see there is plenty of room in a Runabout for a good punch up (although I don’t like seeing a woman getting smacked in the face so violently!).
The Bad: Whilst it isn’t unpleasant to see Lursa and B’tor on DS9, it still feels like a ploy to bring TNG fans over to give the new show a chance. With Q, Vash and Mrs Troi still to turn up in season one DS9 is playing it safe before forging its own unique identity. How comes Odo can change himself into something as small as a rat? Where does the rest of him go?
Myth Building: The Kohn’ma are an extremist Bajoran terrorist group that even the Provisional Government were refusing to repatriate.
Result: Highlighting Kira’s character proves that she is one to watch and considering the little screen time she has had the character is already developing significantly. Past Prologue is a strong episode on two counts, introducing Garak and for exploring meatier themes than they would usually touch on TNG. Andrew Robinson is a delight as the Cardassian tailor, like no character we have ever seen before and it came as a surprise that it took an entire year before we saw him again. The uneasy alliance between the Bajorans and the Federation is encapsulated in Kira and Sisko and their tasty conflict makes for a refreshing change from the usual touchy feely relationships seen on Trek shows. Whilst there are a fair few stumbles in the first season of DS9 this gripping little thriller shows no signs of a show in its infancy. Engaging political drama would turn out to be one of the series strengths: 8/10
A Man Alone written by Gerald Sanford & Michael Piller and directed by Paul Lynch
What’s it about: Odo is framed for murder by a criminal he once put away…
Single Father: This episode juggles a plethora of subplots that make the overall experience more palatable. Sisko’s new friendship with Dax is spoken about and his awkward dinnertime conversation with Bashir puts to rest any fears that he might have feelings about her. This is a very different Sisko to the one who has to juggle up a hundred problems in later season – he preaches to Odo about playing by the rules but in later seasons he goes on a manhunt, frames an entire species and starts a full scale war. Nice to see Sisko taking a different lead from Picard and happily socialising with his crew.
Unknown Sample: Odo has never seen the need to ‘couple’ but by the end of the seven-year run he would be quite the expert. I would love to be able to argue with his disparaging assessment of a night in with the other half but anybody in a relationship would recognise what he is saying. His creed is laws change depending on the administration but justice is justice. Whilst Sisko would come to admire and respect Odo’s unique approach to law enforcement his unwillingness to be a team player would be brought up several times in later episodes. Its here that we learn that Odo hangs out in a pail at the back of his office when regenerating. There is something tragic about Odo feeling so detached from humanoid life and makes his eventual integration all the more satisfying.
Community Leader: Business is doing well and he’s (almost) making an honest living. Quark practically salivates at the sight of Dax so her number of admirers is growing by the day. When told he is Odo’s worst enemy he bites back with that is the closest thing Odo has to a friend. I love this partnership and there are so many touches of loyalty and (dare I say it) friendship between the two rivals throughout the seven years. It’s an engaging love hate relationship played by two actors that adore each other. Quark’s reaction when Odo asks if he needs a shape shifter in his organisation is priceless; he doesn’t know which way to jump!
GE Doctor: Bashir is persistently trying to sneak his way into Dax’s knickers (and to give him his credit by the end of the season he would succeed albeit in a product of his own imagination).
Nine Lives: Dax seems to suggest that Trill’s are above sexual needs but that really jars with the good time girl that beds the most frigid Klingon in town of later years!
The O’Briens: Our first glimpse at the problems besetting Miles and Keiko and their move from the gleaming corridors of the Enterprise to the Station. Keiko does whine a little too much but anybody who has suffered a massive upheaval in their life and had to try and find a way to settle in will recognise what she is going through. I really like the scene with Keiko trying to convince Rom to send Nog to the school (and succeeding), its great to see another neglected TNG character given rare focus.
Young Friends: Another fine pairing is set up in this episode although perhaps not in the smartest of ways. Jake & Nog would turn out to be one of the most vital explorations of opposing cultures in the series, a Ferengi and human that share a bond of friendship that transcends their race.
The Good: The school is a great idea, seeing this environment turning into a community and giving Keiko a solid role in the series. I love how nothing is forgotten in this series. In the first episode Kira suggested civil war was inevitable and it is followed up in The Homecoming. In A Man Alone Sisko mentions that Keiko opening the school will be a challenge because the children all come from different cultures which is dealt with superbly in the series finale. Hana Hatae is the cutest thing on two legs as Molly.
The Bad: The murder scene itself isn’t very excitingly directed – Alfred Hitchcock would be appalled by the lack of atmospherics (plus I cannot think of anything more skin crawling than having a massage by the web fingered alien). The sequence with the Bolites is a rare example of DS9 going for the comic jugular and failing. DS9 is exactly the sort of place where a mob could easily gather but these scenes fail to convince mostly because the Bajorans are portrayed as weak willed bullies and Sisko’s touchy feeling approach to breaking it up lacks any kind of punch. I’d have had the whole lot of them confined to a security cell for a week. The solution to the mystery is a mouthful of technobabble and nobody acts terribly surprised. In true Scooby Doo fashion that killer is hiding under a rubber mask.
Result: A murder mystery without any mystery, A Man Alone is a tired episode which only comes alive when focusing on the developing dynamics between the characters. Odo is so clearly the target of Ibudan’s murder and the effortless way hatred is stirred up against him forces the plot to ignore the idea that there could be any other suspects and then the wrap up is as contrived as it comes with a twist that hasn’t even been hinted at. Fortunately there are an abundance of scenes that see character pairings come together (Jake & Nog, Sisko & Dax, Odo & Quark) and an enjoyable subplot that sees Keiko finding her place on the station. DS9 has a higher hit rate than most in providing an enjoyable b plot when the main storyline fails to engage (especially in series two and three) but that still doesn’t excuse the bulk of the episode falling below par. You expect a few stumbles when a show begins and this one is average but not too offensive: 5/10
Babel written by Michael McGreevey & Naren Shankar and directed by Paul Lynch
What’s it about: A virus that makes the station personnel talk nonsense. No seriously.
Single Father: Sisko’s quiet approach to command is pretty dull in this episode and he only registers when he shows concern towards his son being infected. Compare him to the firecracker in season four and you can see how this subdued approach wasn’t the best way to kick off the show for Sisko.
Everyday Engineer: In a couple of minutes footage we get to see just how hard O’Brien is working his butt off to try and keep the Station running. I wonder if he has daydreams about hanging out in the transporter room back on the Enterprise? What I love about his character is that even when he is in a grumpy bastard of a mood he is still written and played with a great deal of humour. Colm Meaney is a likable guy and as such so is O’Brien. His first slip of aphasic language is an odd moment. He tells Sisko that Keiko is fond of Jake but because Sisko questions this it almost seems as if he has said something improper. I’d love to know what O’Brien said to Kira when she joked about the broken turbolift (I bet it was full of swear words!)
Unknown Sample: Quark is such a crafty character its no surprise that Odo sees through his sudden luck at having his replicator fixed. Its interesting to see that once he is taken out of comfort zone of security and has a station full of lives on his hands he almost falls to pieces.
Community Leader: In the space of one episode Quark has gone from doing fantastic business to it being practically non-existent with Odo commenting on both. I guess that’s the way it goes in the hospitality industry. Security verification never seems to be a problem for this Ferengi; he just pulls out his isolinear rods and gets snooping. He lures Dax through his door with a double whipped Idanian spiced pudding. The scene where he is making sure his less fortunate customers aren’t faking the illness to prevent paying their bar bills is hilarious – Quark really is a wonderful scene stealing character. Look at him swaggering into Ops and offering his help to Odo, he is loving this (and his ‘I must have witnessed the procedure hundreds of times’ is great).
Sparkling Dialogue: ‘Rom’s an idiot, he couldn’t fix a straw if it was bent.’
‘You. Gold. Owe. Me!’
‘Bread the arrive seen earlier!’
Dreadful Dialogue: ‘I’m holding you personally responsible if anything turns up missing’ – Odo developing his use of the oxymoron.
The Good: Straight off we visit a cargo bay, Ops, a science laboratory and a corridor – this really does feel like a large, working area teeming with activity. It’s only a small detail but I love the shot of the fluids running through the circuitry. DS9 really knows how to stage action and the gripping final set pieces is all flames, smoke and explosions.
The Bad: Colm Meaney gives all he’s got to make his nonsense speak as funny as possible (and I did laugh at ‘Simple hesitation!’) but really, this script and premise would be thrown in the trash in a few seasons time. Its one of the early DS9 episodes that is trying out a TNG premise to see if this sort of thing will work. There will be a couple of other examples as we work our way through the first season (Move Along Home, If Wishes Were Horses & Dramatis Personae) but they would soon peter off as DS9 develops its own identity. The fella playing Jarheel is able to send you to sleep with his relaxed delivery. Even DS9 isn’t above having a duff punchline at the end of the episode but at least Colm Meaney has the guts to look embarrassed by it!
Moment To Watch Out For: There is a pan across the Promenade that ends on Jake where you can see that the upper level is unfinished. The producers did not have the budget to have a two storey set like this in the shows first season and it is interesting to see it displayed here so bold facedly. In the next season both sides of the Promenade are walkways with shops and lifts and lots of activity.
Orchestra: The music is really exciting in the finale as Odo struggles to explode the mooring clamps in a race against time sequence.
Result: Imagine if the crew had been wiped out by the aphasic virus? What an embarrassing way to end the series! Babel proves again that DS9 has better luck at dishing out these naff Star Trek premises because its core of characters is strong enough to provide some entertainment when the plot fails to do so. You’ve got Odo panicking when the Station is his responsibility, Quark causing a whole lot of trouble but redeeming himself by coming through when the crisis needs him and Kira providing her own unique solution to curing the virus by infecting the man who created it. So now we’ve done the virus and the murder mystery plots, can we get on with something more interesting now? Disposable but fairly watchable especially in the thrilling final ten minutes: 5/10
Captive Pursuit written by Jill Sherman Donner & Michael Piller and directed by Corey Allen
What’s it about: O'Brien befriends an alien involved in a deadly hunt…
Single Father: Nice to see Sisko bearing his teeth again after a couple of episodes of fannying about. He tears into the alien hunter with real gusto and then chews out O’Brien in the sparkling final scene that shows that he can at least think outside of the dull Starfleet box. ‘Another stunt like that and your wife wont have to complain about the conditions here anymore!’ – phew, go Sisko!
Everyday Engineer: Frankly even if O’Brien wasn’t the engineer I would still send him on his own to go an meet the first new species from the Gamma Quadrant, he’s so damn down to Earth! When he walks along the Promenade O’Brien thinks he is living in the flea market of the sector. It’s in his nature to take the piss out of people and Tosk is the most natural straight man he has met in ages so it is doubly irresistible. I love how O’Brien talks right over Bashir when he tries to help, their relationship would be very different when they get to know each other. O’Briens dilemma is touching played by Colm Meaney and its all the more convincing because he clearly has a great respect for the Prime Directive but his feelings towards Tosk are even stronger. The way he bends the rules to allow him to free Tosk and satisfy Starfleet conduct of non-interference is inspired. I have to admit when the smoking bodies started piling up I was thinking how the hell is O’Brien going to talk his way out of this one?
Community Leader: Quark continues to be the black sheep of the Star Trek universe, this time demanding sexual favours from his employees! He offers Tosk an adventure in the holosuite full of excitement and sex! The scene between O’Brien and Quark once again shows what a bright idea it was to place so emphasis on the bar and its Ferengi owner, it gives the show some real colour.
Sparkling Dialogue: ‘Piece of cake. Ram Scoop. Abernauts.’
‘You sleep a full third of your rotation, you rest and relax when you are awake…Alpha Quadrant has far too much down time.’
‘Die with honour, O’Brien.’
The Good: This is the first of two very impressive alien characters that Scott McDonald would play in DS9 (the second being in the superior Rocks & Shoals from series six). His performance is wonderfully nuanced with tiny movements of the head and body to suggest his dissociation from his natural habitat and his wonder at the new environment he has found himself in. There are lots of little moments like how he recoils when the computer talks to him, looks in awe at Quark and stares agog into the drink put in front of him. The make up is phenomenal too with his reptilian features stretching down his neck and into his costume with lots of tiny segmented pieces adding to overall effect of the mask. Everything about these new aliens feels fresh from their ability to turn invisible, their striking scanning beams and their incredibly destructive weaponry (and they can catch phaser beams in their arms and redistribute the energy, how awesome is that?).
To show just how alien these creatures are the most humiliating thing that could possibly happen to Tosk is that he can be captured and taken home alive. The episode skilfully builds Tosk up as a potential threat and before revealing he is the ultimate victim. How embarrassing to be dragged through a public place wearing a collar! Odo’s gentle stroll back to the security office to stop Tosk is a lovely touch that only DS9 could pull off this well. You’ve got aliens flying off the top level of the Promenade, scanners tearing through bulkheads, explosions and slaughter in the corridors – it’s a very satisfying conclusion.
The Bad: This might feel like a random observation but it is something about Star Trek that gets on my nerves. I hate it when the direction of a show points to a plot twist before it has even happened and there is an example in Captive Pursuit that happens all the time across all of the Star Trek shows. Whenever there is a camera angle that features a character to one side of the screen and there is a huge amount of space to the other side of them you know that something is about to appear. It happened in Encounter at Farpoint when Q appeared behind Picard and it happens here when Tosh appears behind O’Brien. I know it’s a small thing to complain about but stories should not be this visually predictable.
Moment To Watch Out For: As DS9 was pitched as something like a western town in space with a Sheriff’s office (the Security office), bar (Quark’s) and church (the Temple) its great to see a proper western stand off in this episode where the Federation and the aliens walk towards each other on the dusty streets (the Promenade). To add to the feel the gunplay is genuinely impressive and the security doors are literally blown to pieces!
Myth Building: 300 people live on the station, more or less. In the future passage through the wormhole will be considered out of bounds for the hunt.
Orchestra: The music in the early seasons of DS9 is adequate with only a few episodes with standout examples. It would from series four onwards that the various composer really up their game and provide some very memorable music. I do like the quirky score as Tosk explores the station and the action scenes are giving some weight with a pulse pounding score in this episode.
Result: Something unknown, mysterious and exciting comes through the wormhole – this is more like it! Captive Pursuit is a fine piece of writing which offers an intriguing mystery and an exciting resolution with plenty opportunities for action and a touching spotlight on O’Brien. The first half of the episode slowly builds up the relationship between O’Brien and Tosk before the rest of his people arrive to hunt him down and the pyrotechnics begin! Corey Allen provides some fine action sequences that really have some punch and yet still keeps the focus on the central relationship climaxing in a very sweet ending that sees O’Brien defy authority to help his friend escape. I really love that the tear jerking conclusion works through nothing but retrained performances and that Tosk manages to remain an alien character throughout (had this been TNG he would have been happily humanised by the conclusion). Well paced with some dynamic sequences and DS9’s own brand of exceptional character work, Captive Pursuit gets two thumbs up from me: 9/10
Q-Less written by Robert Hewitt Wolfe and directed by Paul Lynch
What’s it about: Vash returns from the Gamma Quadrant and she has a certain omnipotent lifeform in tow…
To Baldly Go: Q asks Sisko in one of many hilarious scenes ‘is Starfleet penalising you or did you actually request such a dismal command?’ He was hoping for a little witty repartee but obviously he has come to the wrong place. Sisko is absolutely terrifying when he realises his crew have all been whisked away; I hope we see more of this anger as the show progresses. ‘I’m not Picard!’ Sisko cries. Indeed not, he doesn’t look half as hot in wrestling gear. Looks like Q has hit a sore point when he pokes a finger in the wound by criticising the fact that Sisko isn’t running a Starship.
Community Leader: So far Quark has slipped a sly hand on Kira’s thigh, tempted Dax through his door with a double whipped Idanian Spice Pudding and demanded sexual favours from one of his employees and now he is enjoying a good wank from Vash! Is this the horniest character in all of Star Trek? When Q bids the impossible amount of a million bars of gold pressed platinum Quark begins masturbating himself! Quarks ‘select clientele’ are all ridiculously wealthy and not too bright. When Vash starts lecturing the bidders on the historical context of each artefact it gives Quark a chance to step in and do what he does best, whip up an atmosphere of profit.
GE Doctor: And Bashir is just a heartbeat away from Quark, attempting to woo Vash and romancing a cute Bajoran woman with stories of his Starfleet medical finals! He surely has the sleaziest one-liners in the history of Trek trying everything from ‘its sure to be a bestseller round here’ to ‘your excellent health has robbed me of any excuses to drop by.’ Q appears behind Bashir as he tries to charm Vash and starts making faces which is pretty much what we would all like to do! ‘My God you’re impertinent waiter!’ says Bashir in what is probably the most demeaning line spoken by any Star Trek character. Q gives the female population of DS9 time to rest by sending Bashir to sleep for a few days.
Sparkling Dialogue: ‘And they weren’t exactly thrilled to see you on Brax. What did they call you, the God of Lies?’ ‘They meant it affectionately.’
‘The galaxy can be a dangerous place when you’re on your own.’
‘Picard and his lackeys would have solved all this technobabble hours ago!’
‘I’d keep my eye on this one, chances are she’s after your job.’
‘Quark, you obsequious toad!’
The Good: If you are going to bring in characters from TNG you may as well have some fun with continuity. We never hear anything particularly pleasant about the Daystrome Institute, do we? It sounds like a bunch of petty bureaucrats rather than scientists and archaeologists. Captain Picard’s dirty laundry gets aired in public (‘the Captain likes a good challenge, sir.’). It’s great to have some follow up to the frankly dismal TNG episode Q-Pid and for Jennifer Hetrick and John de Lancie to have some fun sparking off each other. The make up team once again prove they are the best in the business when Q forces the stages of a degenerating disease to show Vash that she would be dead without him. The shot of the hand with six fingers is delightfully silly. There’s something very sweet about Q telling Vash that through her eyes he was able to see the universe with a sense of wonder.
The Bad: What a shame that we have to keep cutting back to Ops and the dull subplot about the station being sucked into the wormhole. The ending is precisely like that of Encounter at Farpoint but at least we don’t have counsellor Troi driving home the appalling sentiment of the moment.
Moment To Watch Out For: Q turns Quarks into a rowdy boxing ring in a very funny sequence that sees Sisko knock two tons of shit out of him. The outtakes of this sequence are as riotous as the scene itself.
Myth Building: Vash has been exploring the Gamma Quadrant with Q for a couple of years but decided enough was enough.
Foreboding: Q mentions that there is still the Delta Quadrant to explore and sooner or later he would be hounding Janeway’s footsteps when she is lost in that region of space.
Result: It’s not in the league of best Q episodes (the honours go to Q Who, Deja Q, Tapestry and Death Wish) and it certainly isn’t amongst the worst (Hide & Q, Q-Pid, The Q and the Grey and Q2), Q-Less is a disposable but occasionally very funny and enjoyable episode. John de Lancie is a delight as ever poking fun at all the foibles of the newly staffed station and its nice to finally see Jennifer Hatrick in a halfway decent episode that doesn’t involve Sherwood Forest or ridiculously characterised Ferengi’s. What I really enjoy about this episode is how it reaffirms this show as being the black sheep of the family with characters allowed to be sleazy and sex obsessed and revel in naked avarice. Its so refreshing after all the pompous do gooders on TNG to see some real people propping up the 24th Century. The main plot echoes Encounter at Farpoint in all the worst ways and really should have been dropped in favour of more throwaway antics because the stress here is on continuing and improving TNG continuity which it does very well: 7/10
Dax written by D.C Fontana and directed by David Carson
What’s it about: Jadzia is accused of a murder committed in another lifetime.
Single Father: By having an episode that focuses on a misdemeanour on Curzon’s part you have a story that says more about Sisko than Dax no matter whose name grabs the title. Sisko talks about Curzon with such affection it’s a shame that we never got to see the relationship at its height and it sounds to me like he had a lot of character with his crazy cavalier attitude towards life. Just what a young Federation officer needs to stop him becoming as arrogant as Picard! Sisko’s attempts to save his new friends life is very touching and would see the foundations built for an equally strong friendship with Jadzia. Until the moment of her death it would be another very strong character pairing that this show flaunts. Sisko makes an extremely strong public speaker during the courtroom scenes and it is great to see Avery Brooks attacking the material with such passion. Curzon took a raw young ensign under his wing and taught him to appreciate life in ways he had never thought about – whatever sense of honour Sisko has Curzon nurtured.
Nine Lives: At this stage in her development Dax is still walking around with her hands behind her back like a serene holy woman. By the end of the next season you simply wouldn’t recognise her from this episode anymore. Although it takes you the entire episode to realise the truth Dax’s silence initially makes you want to shake her and force some kind of admission of innocence. Dax’s quarters are full of some truly wonderful items – the set designers have really gone to town! Curzon drank too much and had an eye for the ladies and it wouldn’t be long before Jadzia followed suit! There is a gorgeously nuanced scene between Sisko and Dax that sees him confronting her for not defending herself and develops into the two of them laughing together, her stroking his face and him holding her hand – why can’t all Trek series be this well played? The revelation of why she hasn’t defended herself is a lovely spot of development for this character; she is so protective of her past lives and honours her mistakes to the point that she will risk dying for them.
Tasty Terrorist: Kira is so much fun in this episode. I love her cheeky dialogue with Tandro in Sisko’s office and she makes a surprisingly good investigator. Odo should be headhunting!
GE: Bashir is trying to get into Dax’s knickers once again and laying on the sleazy chat up lines. He can think of ways of keeping her up all night apparently and they have nothing to do with drinking Klingon coffee! Thanks goodness he is such a slime ball and starts stalking her on her way to her quarters otherwise they wouldn’t have found out Dax was kidnapped until it was too late.
Sparkling Dialogue: ‘Fugitive Dax is charged with treason…and the murder of my father.’
‘Which not only compromises Bajoran security but also…annoys us.’
‘No its just business…and business is business.’
‘I intend to be here until supper not senility, understood?’
‘When one of my kind stumbles it is a shame that lasts forever.’
‘I know where Curzon was at the exact time that that transmission was sent. He was in my bed.’
‘Live, Jadzia Dax. Live a long, fresh and wonderful life.’
The Good: The first five minutes sees an impressive cat and mouse game between the Klystrons and Ops which allows both sides to appear competent and out manoeuvre the other.
Odo slams shut the airlocks (but they have an override), Kira erects force fields (again they have the correct codes to get through them) before Sisko finally activates the tractor beam that snatches hold of their departing ship and drags them back to make an account for themselves. Its such a little thing but I love the framing of the moment when Dax realises why they have tried to kidnap her - as the camera pans in on her Sisko turns to face her and then Odo. Gregory Itzin is a fine American character actor who turns up in all sorts of shows (he has just had a guest spot in Desperate Housewives) and he brings Tandro alive with some real fury. Can we have a Judge Renora spin off series please? She’s just marvellous and treats Tandro like a naughty schoolboy and Sisko like a minor inconvenience (her ‘the penalty for these crimes on your planet is death and that is rather permanent’ made me howl with laughter). Its great to have a character this cynical in Star Trek, we should arrange a sitcom with her and Mullibok from Progress and they can candidly discuss all the issues with the Star Trek universe. The courtroom scenes that discuss the nature of the Trill are well written and interesting and utilises an old Trek standby, the metaphor (this time salt and water standing in for host and symbiont). Klystron is gorgeously brought to life with some superb matte paintings and subtle lighting to suggest day and night in Enina’s quarters. Unlike a good handful of the episodes I have seen so far across the various Trek series the revelation that puts this episode to rest that Curzon and Enina were having an affair springs naturally from the characters and that makes it a very satisfying conclusion. It gives a new dimension to Curzon and Jadzia (who kept her silence) and allows us to view the situation from a completely different angle (the General himself was responsible for the transmission).
The Bad: Whilst it gives the courtroom scenes a memorable look you would have thought there would be a place on the station where they could have held this courtroom other than the local saloon!
Teaser-tastic: Not bad actually. Bashir beaten up and Dax kidnapped…that should get most people interested fairly early on.
Moment To Watch Out For: The final scene is beautiful and caps off a delicately handled episode very sensitively.
Only DS9: A new section of the reviews to highlight those moments that DS9 dared to tread where there other series failed to do so. Maybe Meaney was off doing a film or maybe O’Brien simply wasn’t needed in this episode – either way a simple line of dialogue excuses his absence from the episode nicely instead of a pointless cameo. When people are hit in DS9 they like to show that it really hurts and Bashir gets several frightening punches in the teaser. I particularly like is the question of sexuality that the Trill species throws into the Trek mix. Because a host can skip from male to female it leaves a balanced individual that can find either sex attractive and whilst this isn’t dealt with in this episode (although the expert who admits his first host was a woman has a touch of the feminine about him) DS9 would take the brave step towards exploring homosexuality in episodes such as Rejoined and Let He Who is Without Sin both of which see Dax clearly attracted towards women. Whilst you shouldn’t need an excuse for gay characters in Star Trek (and Bashir and O’Brien are the closest we will ever get to a male romance – they clearly dig each other in later seasons) it is great to see this series tapping into this subject in a way that TNG deliberately (some might say insultingly) shied away from.
Myth Building: D.C Fontana is the only writer to have contributed scripts to three Star Trek series (four if you include the Animated Series) and it is great to see her depart on such a memorable piece.
Result: Its wonderful to see the character dynamics on this show coming together so effectively and quickly and even if Dax didn’t have a rock solid plot at its heart (which it does) it would be bolstered by some fantastic individual moments. Kira is feisty and fun, Odo blackmails Quark, Sisko builds a firm friendship with Dax, Bashir shows some depth and Odo proves what he is made of plus you also get some fascinating insight into Trill society. Both Tandro and (the wonderful) Judge Renora stand out and despite very few scenes even Enina Tandro makes a great impression. The story has a real drive to it and paints a strong picture of Klystron society and the major players in its most dramatic days without ever actually showing us the events. With outstanding performances all round, superb dialogue and characterisation and an ending that hits all the right notes this is one of the strongest Trek courtroom episodes and another huge win for director David Carson: 9/10
The Passenger written by Morgan Grendel, Robert Hewitt Wolfe & Michael Piller and directed by Paul Lynch
What’s it about: Bashir turned psycho killer…well Duridium shipment hijacker at the very least.
Single Father: When Sisko tells Primmon you have to forget what you learnt at the Academy and not to throw it in anyone’s face I could have kissed him. Academy rules work well on Earth but seem to fall short of being effective as soon as you leave orbit and its only the characters on DS9 who seem to realise that. Sisko likes Odo because he likes to know where he stands and (without a shadow of a doubt) there is no question of that with him.
GE Doctor: Bashir’s arrogance is unbelievable as he sits there telling Kira just how fabulous he is at his job. ‘Faith has granted me a gift Major. A gift to be a healer.’ No wonder she feels privileged to be in his presence! I read something in a David A. McIntee review once which has stuck with me ever since – whenever actors are asked to act possessed they suddenly forget how to act entirely. Whilst there are a few exceptions to that rule it is for the most part entirely accurate including Siddig’s unfortunate turn as Vantika in this episode. I have absolutely no idea who he is supposed to be channelling but his camp, monotonous delivery is inexcusably bad and lacks even a shred of menace. Its one of the few times I would say DS9 is actually embarrassing to watch (see also Fascination and Let He Who is Without Sin).
Unknown Sample: Dax seems to like spending most of her time alone which Quark suggests makes her the perfect woman for Odo! Primmon is so instantly unlikable our sympathies are completely with Odo. Anybody who comes onto the station and starts throwing their weight around isn’t going to get anywhere. Wonderfully flawed, Odo strops into Sisko’s office like a grumpy child to ask who is in charge out of him and Primmon. He needs clear jurisdiction on DS9 or he is out.
Sparkling Dialogue: ‘Make…me…live…’
Dreadful Dialogue: ‘No more middlemen Sisko! No more delays!’
The Good: Its another strong premise with a criminal who is obsessed with death ensuring that he can survive any attempt to kill him. Kajada stabbing Vantika’s corpse is deliciously gruesome. Trust Quark to be rummaging around on the floor after hours looking for dropped coins!
The Bad: Later seasons are interconnected so that every story impacts on the overall story arc of the series. If you have what appears to be a standalone episode it usually adds depth to one of the major players be it the Bajorans, Cardassians, Federation or Dominion. To watch these early episodes where the standalone episodes feature alien races that we never hear from again seems…odd. In a hilarious moment of overdone theatrics Kajada turns up randomly at the end of a scene to tell everyone that Vantika is up to his old tricks. What a shame that Primmon turns out to be effective in this episode – I really wanted him to be shown up by Odo at every angle. The Duridium shipment crew seem to have no sense of self preservation. They just stand there looking shocked and get shot down.
Moment To Watch Out For: If the plot hadn’t made it obvious enough that Bashir has taken on the conscience of Vantika the scene where a mysteriously gloved man with a whispery British accent should make spell it out even further. That and the split second close up on Bashir’s face when he throws Quark to the ground. Oddly despite all these pointers they still dress up the possession as a revelation towards the climax.
Only DS9: Quark is actively working against the task of the station personnel in a way that we would never see in another series. Whilst he only considers himself the middle man, he is employing criminals to steal something the Federation has pledged to protect. When characters on, say, Voyager act against the interest of the ship it is because they want to avoid having Janeway break the prime directive (Tuvok) or to continue their usefulness (Neelix). To be fair Seska is exposed as a traitor but she is kicked off as soon as they realise. Quark is simply too useful not to have around. He’s a profit monger and proud of it!
Teaser-tastic: Once we get past Bashir basking in his own hubris its not a bad hook into the episode, especially how creepy Vantika’s dying words are.
Result: Such a ridiculously predictable episode I am surprised they bothered to set it up as a mystery. The Passenger features the oddest performance ever seen in a Deep Space Nine episode in Siddig El Fadil’s take on Ray O’Vantika which is more likely to provoke laughter than chills. Paul Lynch tries to make this as dark as possible but the script is fighting him lacking the scares of a horror or the intensity of a good psychological thriller. Ruining things further is the inclusion of Primmon who annoys from the offset and is so ineffective he only lasts for two episodes. Odd that the first Bashir episode should be such a flop because most of his later episodes would turn out to be absolute gems. Easily the weakest episode so far and exactly the sort of camp old nonsense that was dropped when the series found its stride: 4/10
Move Along Home written by Frederick Rappaport, Lisa Rich & Jeanne Carrigan-Fauci (three writers – really?) and directed by David Carson
What’s it about: A new species from the Gamma Quadrant visits the Station and they have a little game they want to play…
Single Father: Sisko is the first person who has ever looked pretty damn hot in his dress uniform – Picard used to look like he was wearing a dress! There are some more wonderful moments between Sisko and Jake and the inevitable moment in every parents life when they have to discuss sex but it turns out that Nog got their first! If there is one thing Avery Brooks always acts passionately about in the first couple of years it is the father/son scenes, both he and Cirroc Lofton nail them and they have a very natural chemistry.
Community Leader: The look in Quark’s eyes when he realises he can exploit the first new race through the Gamma Quadrant is priceless. Armin Shimmerman reveals his comic timing as Quark looks distinctly unimpressed by the sticks and almost spits out the alpha currant nectar as wagers for a game of Dabo. Quark is forced into the very uncomfortable position of having to choose one of the players to be sacrificed which Shimmerman has no choice but to overact because the scene is written so over the top.
Tasty Terrorist: Has somebody told Nana Visitor that her bum looks big in her costume or something because Kira is far more argumentative and fiery than usual in Move Along Home. I do love the scene where she tells Sisko that she didn’t sign up for Federation adventures of exploration – a bit like Neelix’s complaints in season one of Voyager but more convincing. As they start working their way through the Shaps you can tell that Kira is getting a taste of the explorers life. Kira has a major (geddit) strop during the laughter sequence, pretty much as hysterically angry as we will ever see her.
GE Doctor: Bashir really is an annoying squirt in the first season isn’t he? Siddig is clearly still settling into the role and his mincing scream attack against the wall is another head in hands moment for the audience. ‘Madam this is no laughing matter!’ – they are still trying to write Bashir as an upper class British toff. How camp does Bashir look when he flattens himself against the wall as the spheres consume him?
Sparkling Dialogue: ‘One mans priceless is another mans worthless!’
‘Dad I’m fourteen!’ ‘I’m glad we agree on something.’
‘Oh is that Starfleet policy?’ ‘That’s right!’ ‘Well I’m not in Starfleet!’ – I love Odo!
‘That’s not what you said when you were grovelling on the floor…’ ‘Oh that’s right you were there for the grovelling.’
The Good: The Wadi might be another humanoid species with only a tattoo on the forehead to distinguish them from any standard race in the Alpha Quadrant but at least their game offers something uniquely alien an imaginative. I was pretty much sold on the idea of the game because of the incredible pull back of Sisko on the geometrically patterned floor – it’s a hypnotically well executed scene. Nice to see the Doctor Who method of walking down the same corridor and using the same room redressed is still in place in television. Actually to give director David Carson his credit he does manage to convince through some careful camerawork that the corridors are a maze. I love the spheres that attack, the episode should have had far more surprises of this nature. There’s a nice slow motion shot of Sisko, Dax and Kira falling from a cliff edge.
The Bad: Primmon once again is about as appealing as genital warts. Imagine if you will that you first tuned into DS9 during the Allermaraine sequence that sees four of the senior officers dancing and saluting across the screen. The smoky room test is trying a bit too hard to be weird and none of the actors manage a coughing fit very convincingly.
Moment to Watch Out For: The look on Avery Brooks’ face when he has to perform the ‘Allermaraine’ rhyme and hopscotch dance! It might be Nana Visitor who says this is not what I signed up for but the feeling behind that sentiment is exemplified in Brooks’ pained expression!
Teaser-tastic: A charming scene in the Sisko quarters followed by an alien race asking to go to Quark’s – not the most inspiring of beginnings.
Only DS9: I cannot imagine a character in any other Trek show daring to try and bribe an alien species with some nookie: ‘Do you know what a holosuite is? Do you have sex on your world?’
Myth Building: The first formal reception for a species from the Gamma Quadrant.
Result: Move Along Home doesn’t quite work but it exemplifies DS9’s willingness to experiment with some pretty quirky episodes. Visually the story is quite distinctive but none of the tests that the crew are put through would test a five year old so the risk that is suggested is never really felt. Once again the alien characters on this show impress with Odo and Quark providing some great moments and Avery Brooks continues to lighten up as Sisko. The last act descends into a mundanely shot trek through some standard cave sets but you have to admire the sheer cheek of the ‘its only a game’ line that proves that nobody was ever in any danger in the first place! It’s a really odd piece, sporadically very good, occasionally risible and incomparable with anything else this series has delivered. Again this is precisely the sort of thing they dropped when the series expanded its mythology: 6/10
The Nagus written by Ira Steven Behr and directed by David Livingston
What’s it about: The Grand Nagus visits DS9 and passes his sceptre to Quark…
Single Father: Sisko realises to his dismay that his son is growing up and he just can’t excite him with the things that he used to. The conclusion of the b plot where Sisko realises how responsible his son is becoming is very touching.
Young Sisko: Jake would rather hang about in a cargo bay with Nog than visit the Bajoran fire caves with his old man! Jake shows a great sense of maturity by listening to his fathers opinion that sometimes friendships end and still chooses to hold on to his relationship with Nog and to help him to read. Hilariously Jake is hypnotised by the sight of a Vulcan woman’s ass – if only Wesley Crusher had moments like this to convince us he had blood pumping to the appropriate organs!
Ferengi Family: Clearly there is a hierarchy in this Ferengi family with Quark dishing out punishment to Rom who in turn dishes it out to Nog! Knowing where his character ends up it is priceless to see these early episodes with Nog – here he is lying to his teacher, dirtying his friends name and failing to produce his homework. If you were to tell me at this point that he would wind up as the first Ferengi in Starfleet I would have laughed in your face. What’s important is that Nog is likable despite his failings (or you might say because of them) since he wants to do well at school but his family is working against his best interests and he wants to better himself and allows Jake to teach him to read properly. O’Brien is Nog’s teacher and slating his character in this episode but come series four he is packing him off to the Academy with a gift and come series seven Nog is his superior officer! Astonishing that even after Rom tries to kill Quark your sympathies are still with him because of how badly Quark treats him. His road to independence is another rich character thread in this series.
Community Leader: Quark fears that the Grand Nagus is there to buy the bar for a fraction of what it is worth. He had the instinct, the lobes to make the smart move and set up a bar so close to a stable wormhole. For Quark this is the ultimate prize for all of his years of avarice and despite assassination attempts he will always go for the profit jugular and bask in his own success. He walks down the Promenade in royal robs, holding his head and sceptre high and waving to all and sundry! Quark is simply overcome with grief over the Nagus’ death, laughing hysterically at Rom’s suggestion that he could run the bar. He is the richest man in the Ferengi Alliance and yet when he sees a coin running across the floor he still cannot resist nabbing it. Brilliantly Quark isn’t cross with his brother for trying to kill him, instead he promotes him for such wonderful treachery!
Sparkling Dialogue: ‘So the Andorian says…your brother? I thought it was your wife!’ – we never hear the whole joke but Quark is telling it so I’m certain its filthy!
‘Now go to your room…and no studying!’ – that really tickles me!
‘If in doubt…be ruthless.’
‘Sorry Quark but you’ve just been voted out of office!’
‘Its like talking to a Klingon!’
The Good: Everything about the Nagus is chucklesome from his voracious sexual appetite, his wonderful wizened Ferengi make up (love the furry ears!) and Wallace Shawn’s brilliantly memorable performance (complete with that terrific laugh). When this show gets it right it really gets it right. Ugh – the Nagus chows down on wriggling worms and Rom bites a giant beetle in half! Its hilarious how every Ferengi in that meeting thinks that they are going to be chosen as the next Nagus! Zek has a difficult choice ahead of him…soothing tides that cause stimulating hallucinations or voluptuous Risian females! Zek’s clawed hands when he goes into the sleeping trance gets me every time and me and Simon (who also adores DS9) does this funny little movement when attempting to ignore a rant from yours truly. There’s a great camera angle from inside the hole blasted in the wall by the locater bomb. I cannot believe they staged the Godfather sequence with Quark stroking that hilariously awful puppet and with Venetian blinds at the window! Cheesy, yes. Funny, oh yes. Dax grabs a massive scoopful of aubergine stew as soon as Sisko is out of sight which is exactly what I would have done!
The Bad: The bombing sequence is poorly edited and makes it confusing to figure out what has happened.
Moment to Watch Out For: Given how often it is mentioned it is nice to see somebody almost tossed out of the nearest airlock!
Teaser-tastic: A quirky teaser for a quirky episode and my first sight of the Nagus will never be forgotten.
Myth Building: So many wonderful things going on in this episode it is hard to keep track of them all. Firstly this episode re-states Ira Behr’s intention to rectify past mistakes concerning the Ferengi and giving the culture some real depth and likeability. To his credit he succeeds admirably not just by making this episode such a gem but by giving the culture an awesome figurehead in the Nagus and by writing in some menacing as well as funny Ferengi characters. At the same time the family chemistry between Quark, Rom and Nog continues to sparkle and gives us a real insight into the politics and rivalry that takes place within their family. You’ve also got the reappearance of Morn who is clearly going to propping up the bar at Quark’s for ever more and he’s always a welcome sight. How funny is his massive silhouette in the door when the meeting is about to begin and his hurt face when Quark shoves him out of the door! Jake and Nog’s friendship continues to deepen and its great to see the school again. Fantastic to see DS9 laying down so many staples that would continue to be explored throughout the seven seasons. The idea of the Ferengi freeze drying their dead and selling them off as prize collectables makes perfect sense.
Orchestra: Maybe because it is a comedy episode I don’t know but the music feels more noticeable than usual. I love the epic sting when we focus on Zek’s portrait and the piano grumblings at the end as Quark is lead to his death really stand out.
Result: Proof if it was needed that episodes set solely on DS9 shit all over the bottle shows on TNG or Voyager, The Nagus is a delightfully funny and universe expanding piece that is bolstered by many superb performances. The chemistry between the Ferengi actors on Deep Space Nine is so delightful I love spending time with them. Focussing an episode entirely on Ferengi culture might fill you with dread given how badly they have been treated in TNG but fear not since this is a gorgeously funny Godfather parody that introduces us to one of the greatest ever Star Trek characters – Wallace Shawn’s Grand Nagus Zek. He’s lecherous, greedy, slightly psychotic and utterly lovable. We’ve never seen anything like this before and it confirms that Deep Space Nine is forging its own unique path through the Star Trek universe: 9/10
Vortex written by Sam Rolfe and directed by Winrich Kolbe
What’s it about: A visitor from the Gamma Quadrant claims he has met a Changeling before…
Unknown Sample: Restating his place as the most compelling mystery on the show Odo gets some gorgeous development in this episode and it forges a path ahead to him finding his people in later seasons. The carrot that Kroden dangles in front of Odo (‘feed me and maybe I’ll tell you when I met someone just like you…’) makes for some interesting conflict between his search for the truth about his people and his sense of justice. His desperation when interrogating is frantic and he tries so hard to keep his poker face up the whole time he is questioning Kroden but he is desperate for any snippet of information. Rene Auberjonois plays the scene when Bashir examines the sample with a sense of awe and wonder making even the dull technobabble moments count. It shows his strength of character that he wants so badly to discover more about his people but his adherence to the law means he will take Kroden back to his people regardless. Odo is smart enough to hand over control of the ship to his prisoner in a crisis and the scene where he shoves Kroden against the wall and demands to know the truth is blisteringly good. He proves his worth as a strategist when he plays cat and mouse with the Miradorn and uses the pockets of explosive gas to his advantage and blow them away. A smile from Odo is a rare gift, its worth a hundred of anybody else’s.
Community Leader: The Miradorn ship and its crew’s reputation has probably been tarnished just like Quark’s. Once again Quark is blissfully taking the piss out of Starfleet protocol – this time on their stuffy, bureaucratic first contact procedure! He’s such a wonderful crook, only Quark would set up a business deal and arrange for the buyer to murdered so they could steal the money and keep the object d’art! Star Trek has been waiting for a character like this for a long time.
Sparkling Dialogue: ‘You think the whole galaxy’s plotting around you, don’t you? Paranoia must run in your species Odo! Maybe that’s why nobody’s ever seen another shape shifter…they’re all hiding!’ – from what I have seen of this season so far rather belies the fact that Odo and Quark only share a handful of moments together in each season as Armin Shimerman would have you believe. They are often seen together and that’s a very good thing because the actors spark of wonderfully against each other and the dialogue is often sizzling.
‘Five glasses for four people!?’ – made all the funnier by Rom staring in confusion at the glass in his hand.
‘How dare you suggest that my brother set up this robbery!’ – that line makes me howl with laughter every time I hear it. Go Rom!
‘Being what you are you can pour your square shape into a round hole but you don’t really fit, do you?’ – that idea would be explored and developed right up into season sevens Chimera.
‘Do you expect me to believe this appalling tale?’ - given Kroden has just laid his heart on the line Odo’s deadpan reaction is very funny!
‘Computer what was that?’ ‘A temporary loss of stability due to the concentrated impact of a plasma charge’ ‘We’re being attacked?’ ‘Affirmative.’
‘Don’t thank me I already regret it!’
‘Home? Where is it? One day we’ll know…cousin.’
The Good: Vortex knows how to make a quick impression with an intriguing twinned species, an illegal transaction, a murder and Odo shattering into pieces in the first five minutes! It would be specious of me to suggest that Kroden is the best guest character of the season (in a season that features Dukat, Garak, Tosk, Judge Renora, Mullibok, Maritza and Winn) but he certainly makes an impression and his marbled and ever changing backstory makes him a fascinating foil for Odo. Look at Morn’s face when Odo grasses him up! Look at the lighting in the bar when the Odo tries to get information out of Quark, its really moody and dark. The sequences within the Vortex feature some gorgeous special effects and even the stock Star Trek cave sets look smoky and atmospherically lit.
Moment to Watch Out For: The shot of the Miradorn vessel slide into the Vortex behind the runabout. An extremely menacing effects shot.
Teaser-tastic: Odo is covertly monitoring Quark’s nefarious activities in the shape of a glass!
Only DS9: Homicide as a means of opening relations with a new species? DS9 continues to find new ways to deal with old ideas. Its great to finally visit a planet that honestly couldn’t give a toss about the Federation or anybody in the Alpha Quadrant.
Result: When it comes to atmosphere DS9 is in a league of its own. Vortex has a gorgeous script with a humdinger of a line every few seconds and I have had to restrain myself from quoting half the episode! To have a Star Trek episode as unpredictable as this one is a very rare thing and the way it offers gasps of hope to Odo is almost cruel. It’s a blissfully executed piece which has been atmospherically lit to provide an evocative feast for the eyes and the director shows a flair for both action sequences and the tastier character driven moments of dialogue. The episode builds to the catch-your-breath moment when Odo is out cold and you are unsure whether Kroden will help him or use the chance to escape which in turn leads to a stirring decision by Odo to release them. A phaser fight, wonderful Odo and Quark scenes, a space battle, meaty ideas and a touching ending between Odo and his ‘cousin’ – Vortex practically is another awesome episode: 9/10
Battle Lines written by Hilary J. Bader, Richard Danus & Evan Carlos Somers and directed by Paul Lynch
What’s it about: Taking the Kai for her first trip through the wormhole turns out to be her last…
Single Father: Sisko’s eyes light up at the news that the Kai has arrived. He might find the role of the Emissary uncomfortable at this stage but he clearly already has great respect for the Kai. It would not last long. When telling Kira off doesn’t work Sisko has a rant at Bashir instead telling him he doesn’t need to have the prime directive lectured to him. He’s so much more real than Picard, he can think outside the box.
Tasty Terrorist: Another important step in Kira’s road to forgiving herself for her previous lifestyle, Battle Lines features some seminal Kira moments. It all starts quite light-heartedly with Kira suggesting she is a big girl and can take anything that the Cardassians thought of her as a terrorist (‘a minor operative whose activities were limited to running errands for the terrorist leaders’) but failing miserably. Its great to see Kira on such good behaviour around the Kai – I love how the episode shows how religious icons can be treated as more than people. Kira almost feels too humble to share moments with somebody this important. Her breakdown over the Kai’s corpse with Nana Visitor crying and praying with such an intensity is not the sort of passionate characterisation we are used to in Star Trek and it is astonishingly raw and beautiful. The thirst for action still burns in Kira and when the Nol-Ennis first attack she looks almost gleeful as she picks up and gun and starts shooting.The fiery tension between Sisko and Kira returns when she tries to advise on the best forms of defence and warfare. He really bites at her but she is strong enough to bite back and it takes the involvement of the Kai to make her stop and realise what she is doing. The sequence where the Kai asks Kira if she recognises herself in these people is vital to understand Kira’s character. Her old life was brutal and ugly but she did it to stay alive and fight for independence but crucially she thinks she has left it all behind by working on DS9. The Kai makes her realise that the violence exists inside her and it is vital that she forgives herself for her past misdeeds if she is to move on with her life. Nana Visitor’s performance in this scene is devastating. I don’t understand how anybody can not love her character after it has been laid this bare. Kira is afraid the prophets wont forgive her but they are just waiting for her to forgive herself. She was brought to this planet to begin her healing process.
GE Doctor: At first I wasn’t sure if I bought Bashir’s involvement in this episode simply because ‘it’s a bit slow’ in the Infirmary but the more I thought about it he is exactly the sort to want to go off and have adventures with the most revered religious icon on Bajor. Think how many Bajoran girls he could impress with that story? Bashir’s scenes with Kira are his best to date and reveal a much more sensitive, less conceited side to his personality. I’m really glad that the episode spared a moment to show Bashir conflicted between his oath as a Doctor and his wish to end of the suffering of these people and euthanise them.
Sparkling Dialogue: ‘Please Commander, I don’t get out often.’
‘When you cease to fear death the rules of war change.’
‘Don’t deny the violent inside yourself Kira. Only when you accept it can you move beyond it.’
‘I’ve discovered that we can’t afford to die here…not even once!’
Dreadful Dialogue: ‘But your pagh and mine will cross again…’ – they really should have followed this up!
The Good: Everything about the crash is spectacular from the views out of the runabout window of the planet approaching to the camera sliding up from behind the rock face to the crashed ship and the cut to the exploding door. It’s a carefully executed version of a scene that we will see over and again in Voyager. There’s a great shot from Dax’s POV as the turbolift descends of Odo at his wits end over lack of news of the Kai. This episode is really nasty in places with a close up on the Kai’s dead face (she literally died terrified), Kira’s brutal injuries and the scars and lesions caused by the fighting on this world. Not to mention the brutal fight scenes featuring decapitation, people being sliced across the face by rusty blades and swords thrusting through peoples stomachs. I wouldn’t want every episode to be as graphic as this but it does up the tension greatly and once again DS9 pushes the boundaries about as far as they dare to go for episodic television (see Past Tense Part II, Way of the Warrior, The Siege of AR-558 also). The idea of trapping two warring factions on a godawful moon with no way of escape and letting them fight with no chance of dying is impossibly pitiless punishment.
The Bad: Whilst it is clearly foreshadowing the Kai’s departure, her giving O’Brien her earring for Molly is an odd moment that is never touched on again. It would have been very awesome had they worked that earring into the final ten part epic at the end of the series. Unfortunately the Kai being dragged from the runabout looks a bit like a podgy rag doll! I love the idea of O’Brien making up technobabble as he goes along but in reality the majority of that scene went straight over my head. Oddly for DS9 the decision to leave the Kai behind is never followed up on.
Moment to Watch Out For: The Kai appearing in the firelight like a ghostly spectre is a fantastic surprise and suddenly drives home the brutality of the situation on this planet.
Orchestra: There is a sweeping, epic splash of music as the Kai gets to experience the wonder of going through the wormhole.
Result: The death of a semi-regular character, graphic fight scenes, an impossible situation and the redemption of a violent terrorist, Battle Lines is a very strong episode that picks up many of the seasons threads and does some impossibly cruel things with them. It’s the first of three extraordinary Kira episodes that see her character take an incredible journey through the first season and Nana Visitor once again proves why she is such an incredible asset to this show. Once again the episode has the atmosphere to bolster the drama and this is by far one of the most impressive studio planetary surfaces. DS9 has delivered three knockouts in a row but this is still a Star Trek series - surely this cannot continue. The closing shot of the Kai listening to the sounds of battle getting closer is a wonderfully ambiguous note to leave her character on: 9/10
The Storyteller written by Kurt Michael-Bensmiller & Ira Steven Behr and directed by David Livingston
What’s it about: Chief O’Brien is used as a pawn to reaffirm the identity of the new Sirrah…
Single Father: Sisko is swaggeringly confident about his dealings with the Nevat and the Paku which proves entirely unfounded when he realises that he is going to be handling a stroppy little madam! I’m almost willing to bet that Ben has done plenty of silly things to impress girls when he was younger, probably with Curzon in tow! He seems very proud to hear that Jake speaks so fondly of him.
Starfleet Ferengi: As much as I hate to promote anarchy over order I find Jake and Nog hanging out on the Promenade, flicking peas at the passing aliens and flirting with girls far more believable than that swot Wesley Crusher making intercom announcements out of Picard’s speeches. Nog is good at spotting opportunities and offers that gift to the girl that he fancies. When he gets a little kiss as a reward for his troubles and Nog is glowing with joy it is a charming moment.
Everyday Engineer: O’Brien tries very hard to keep his poker face on but this is a hearty Irishman who isn’t used to disguising his feelings and a trip alone with Bashir is about as appealing as having his pubic hairs extracted one by one with a pair of tweezers. The runabout scene early on that sees two characters who are extremely awkward in each others company is very funny considering they are practically lovers by the last season. Watching O’Brien blessing a child is really funny and his discomfort at being such a recognised figure is very in keeping with his character. He likes to slip into the background and do the dirty work.
GE Doctor: When Bashir asks O’Brien to call him by his first name it sounds like he is flirting with him – no wonder he finds it uncomfortable to get his mouth around it!
Sparkling Dialogue: ‘I’m not a little lady!’
‘Opportunity plus instinct equals profit!’
‘Where the bloody hell are those lights?’
‘Lets get out of here before they change their minds’ – at least O’Brien can see how fickle these Bajorans are!
The Good: It’s the reaction shots in the first scene that make it work so well with Sisko not comprehending why O’Brien doesn’t want to go on this mission before Bashir comes strolling in with his usual youthful exuberance. The caught-with-a-hand-in-the-cookie-jar look from O’Brien and the pained anger from Sisko make me laugh my head off whilst Bashir is grinning away and happily oblivious! Bajor is always so bright and sunny, it makes for a visually delightful planet to visit whenever we get the opportunity. The sequences with Jake, Nog and Varis Sul see DS9 entering sitcom territory with comic play fights between the boys outside her quarters, Nog getting tongue tied in her presence and the wonderfully silly moment with Odo’s bucket and oatmeal in security. It should be painful to watch but the performances are delightful and the tone is pitched just right. Just when I was thinking that Jake seriously needs to get some trendier clothes Nog throws ‘Odo’ all over him!
The Bad: The whole Sirrah plotline lacks punch, especially after the drama of the last two episodes. Dramatically it is well plotted and the characters all act in natural ways but it feels too lightweight and disposable to be of consequence. You get the feeling whilst watching that you will never hear from this colony of Bajorans ever again and low and behold we don’t. The Dalrock cloud is quite a menacing sight but unfortunately the actors are rather unconvincingly plastered against the effect. Frightening away a monster with good vibrations – what an odd premise! The handheld cameras come out for the sequence where Hovath attacks O’Brien (to be fair it is such a limited space David Livingston had no real choice but to film an action scene this way) and while the execution is dramatic the tone of the actors is vaguely comic and it jars.
Moment to Watch Out For: O’Brien atop a cliff face wearing robes that make him look like Father Christmas and crying out: ‘Once there was a Dalrock! And its here!’ Proof that DS9 could, on occasion, be as daft as all other Trek shows.
Teaser-tastic: Odo is a glass! The Kai is on the station! The leader of a group of Bajorans is a young girl! I’m not sure at this stage if DS9 has quite grasped the idea of hooking the audience in with its teasers.
Foreboding: Once again there is talk of civil war on Bajor…the pieces are moving into place for the impressive three part opener to season two.
Result: I really don’t understand why Voyager and TNG don’t highlight their subplots in the same way that DS9 does because it is the delightful Nog/Jake mischief that saves The Storyteller from being a dud. There is some fun watching the odd couple O’Brien and Bashir dancing around each other but the main plot of the episode belongs in a fairytale book and not a Star Trek episode. Its neither entirely comic or satisfyingly dramatic and falls between several stools and as the middle of three Bajoran episodes in a row it falls way short of the greatness of the two surrounding it. However with the negotiation subplot on the station this episode remains amiable enough and the Jake and Nog interaction continues to be one of this series’ most delightful surprises: 6/10
Progress written by Peter Allan Fields and directed by Les Landau
What’s it about: Kira is torn between her newfound friendship with a Bajoran farmer and her duty…
Single Father: Highlighting Sisko and Kira’s growing relationship in some unexpected ways, Progress is an episode all about character and pushes them into revealing how they really feel about each other. Sisko has to reign in Kira’s fiery temper when she lunges an insult at the Minister and takes the very revealing step of beaming down to talk his first officer out of making a mistake that will ruin her life. He tells her that when he first met her he thought she was hostile and arrogant but he was wrong and that Bajor needs her and more importantly he likes her.
Tasty Terrorist: Here’s another episode that stretches both Nana Visitor as an actress and Kira as a character but in a very different way to the psychological nightmare in Battle Lines. The relationship between Kira and Mullibok is beautifully written and performed so that both characters are instantly likable despite their differences and as a viewer it is easy to invest a lot of emotional weight in the friendship. Kira doesn’t like uniforms but they come with the job. She can see through Mullibok’s manipulations straight away even when he tries to get her mad by point how fabulous her butt is! As soon as Mullibok makes Kira realise that he is in exactly the same situation being forced to leave the moon as she was during the Occupation, that oppression is just a matter of interpretation, the episode suddenly gets a whole lot more interesting. When he tells Kira she is backwards for not just sweeping them all out of there it is almost as if she took the phaser blast. The most crucial moment comes when Sisko tells her that she is on the other side of being oppressed now and that she has to make uncomfortable decisions and she hates it. Kira’s final decision to destroy Mullibok’s life to save it is deeply affecting for her and just as Battle Lines showed her that she still had anger inside of her this episode reveals that she has stepped over a line now and accepts her new life. All she needs to do is realise that Cardassians aren’t all evil (Duet) and we will see some of the strongest character growth over a season for any Trek regular.
Starfleet Ferengi: I have to get this little confession out of the way but I just find Nog the cutest thing on the planet! I don’t know if it is the cheeky way that Aron Eisenberg plays him or if it’s the delicately humorous writing or even just the adorable freckles and little ears (at least in comparison to his father and uncles) he has but every time he is on screen I find it a delight! He’s still in the money grabbing stage of his youth her and when his lobes start tingling it can mean only one thing…opp-or-tun-ity!
Sparkling Dialogue: ‘You know those seven or eight little wiry hairs that come out of his forehead? They make him look kind of cute’ – one of the most charming facets of Jadzia’s personality is her willingness to see past surface appearances and fancy the most outrageous of people, starting here with Morn! Her taste does not improve with age, she also has a thing about Captain Boday (with his transparent skull), Ferengi’s and most heinous of all she even jumps Worf’s bones!
‘If I leave here I’ll die so I’d rather die here.’
‘The Cardassians probably told you that you didn’t stand a chance either, did you surrender?’ ‘No’ ‘Why do you expect me to act any different from you?’
‘You know you’re causing a lot of trouble’ ‘I can’t tell you how delighted I am to hear that!’
‘You have to realise something Major…you’re on the other side now.’
The Good: It might have one of the worst backdrops ever seen in Star Trek but the studio set for Mullibok’s house and garden charmingly designed and lit (I love how the sunlight stretches through the front door like one of those perfect lazy afternoons). I wouldn’t want to leave such a lovely place either. I remember reading that Mullibok was supposed to be a much more unlikable character, vicious and unsympathetic but it would have gutted the episode of its emotional worth had they played it that way. Brian Keith gives a very strong performance as the stubborn farmer who simply wants to be left alone to get on with his life. You genuinely believe that this man has rebuilt his life from nothing and tamed the harsh land of the moon on his own and fully support his decision to stay even though it will cause so many more people to suffer. Mullibok proves to be the master of diversion and tells all manner of wonderful (and probably wildly exaggerated) stories – I have no idea what a two headed Malgorian is but its one hell of story! The subplot that sees Jake and Nog venturing on their first business deal has absolutely nothing to do with the main plot whatsoever but dovetails with it beautifully so that the episode never feels slow or unappealing. I love how they are always a gnats hair away from actually earning some latinum and up their merchandise with each successive deal. I have a big grin on my face every time I watch the ‘what do you want?’ ‘I’m here to see Major Kira’ ‘Well she doesn’t want to see you and neither do I!’ exchange and then he goes on to take the piss out of Kira’s tree story (she looks so hilariously embarrassed!). This is character gold.
The Bad: It’s a shame that they had to include an action sequence in the middle of the episode because we were getting on perfectly well without it – I probably would have had Mullibok suffer a heart attack of some other reason for making it easy to be able to get him off the moon.
Moment to Watch Out For: The last scene which is quietly one of the most devastating scenes the show ever gave us. I am so glad we never heard from Mullibok again because it would have cheapened this terrifically ambiguous ending.
Only DS9: How comes DS9 can get these cute little touches of character so right that bolster the episodes whether the other shows fail? How cool is the scene where Sisko orders Bashir to give him a recommendation that Kira stays on the planet and says he will ‘take it under advisement.’
Myth Building: Tapping the core of one of Bajor’s moons will provide power for thousands of homes. Perhaps they should have reminded Minister Jaro of that when he tried to boot them off the station. Mullibok’s two friends don’t talk at all and when he says ‘the Cardassians took care of that’ it brings home the horrors of the Occupation more than a thousand descriptions of torture and bodies.
Orchestra: The music in the last scene is genuinely beautiful. Go and listen to it again, its emotional and builds to a superb climax.
Result: Oddly for a show that flaunts such impressive technical ability, DS9 is often at its best when it scales right down and tells a powerful story between two people. This is probably the sort of episode that people bemoaned about in the first few seasons for being boring but for me it is anything but and both the writing and the performances are so sensitively handled I was captivated from the first second to the last. DS9 doesn’t need to juggle empires to be great television, two of the best episodes of the first season feature nothing but Kira spending a whole episode chatting to a Bajoran and a Cardassian and makes outstanding character out of them. Progress adds a lot of depth to the shows Bajoran setting and to Kira and Sisko and there is even a highly engaging subplot to break up the intensity of the character scenes: 9/10
If Wishes Were Horses written by Neil McCue Crawford, William L. Crawford & Michael Piller and directed by Robert Legato
What’s it about: Fantasies start to come true…
Single Father: Seems like Sisko has little time for his imagination but still takes a moment to tell Buck Bokai that he was the greatest baseball player of all time. Is this the first time we see the famous baseball from Sisko’s office?
GE Doctor: Bashir is still trying to part the red sea otherwise known as Dax but she is keeping him at arms length which probably a good thing considering all the ladies she lists that he has been intimate with lately! He’s probably had to order in extra STD medication given his outrageously out of control libido. How embarrassing for Bashir to have his lurid fantasy sex life outed in front of everybody in Ops!
Everyday Engineer: Lovely to see a Star Trek character doing something as simple as reading a bedtime story to his little girl. What a shame that Rumplestiltskin couldn’t have stuck around for a bit because he and O’Brien have some hilarious scenes together. They could have shoved him in a uniform and forced him to work on the engineering crew! He would be perfect for crawling into all the little crawlspaces! Imagine…every time O’Brien needs him to do something he could try and bargain his firstborn! When his figment tells him he is frightened of the unknowable things that is actually a very succinct point, not only would an engineer (someone who looks at the world technically) have an issue with something this intangible and inexplicable but he is also uncomfortable with the whole idea of the changelings too over the year which are similarly enigmatic.
Nine Lives: Its interesting that it is pretty much after this episode that Dax comes out of her shell and starts embodying the sexuality of eight lives worth of experiences. Maybe she saw what Bashir liked in her and decided to give it a try, no matter how much she argues that her doppleganger is so submissive. If you skip forward four or five years you really wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between Bashir’s fantasy Dax and the real one! Especially not when she jumps on Worf and starts romping him in the holosuite!
Unknown Sample: Odo gets in exactly the right mood for this episode with his own wonderfully cynical view on fantasies and imagination – that it is a complete waste of time! However when given the chance to flirt with his imagination and actualise it he has some cheeky fun throwing Quark in a jail cell and losing him a fortune at the Dabo table (well I’m sure those playing did most of that but I bet Odo gave it a little push).
Community Leader: When Quark suggests creating a holographic shape shifter for Odo to intermingle he declares the Ferengi disgusting to which Quark replies ‘it’s a living!’ He is expanding to try and appeal to all the hew-mons and has a vision of Ferengi selling family entertainment and fleecing them all rotten. He thinks that a Federation experiment has gone wrong and they’ve turned the station giant holosuite and naturally he conjures up a pair of buxom and scantily clad babes, one for each arm. When the Station is being destroyed around him Quark still has one of his ladies clutched to him whilst reaching for a bar of gold pressed latinum – faithful to the last!
Sparkling Dialogue: ‘Now you didn’t think that that would make me break in two and disappear, did you?’
‘Why are you fighting this?’ ‘Why am I fighting this? Why…am I fighting this?’
‘Oh fine! Now everyone knows my name!’
‘Its snowing on the Promenade!’
‘Yellow alert? Against our own imaginations?’ – trust Kira to point out the craziness of the situation!
‘I’m going to have ask you to refrain from using your imaginations!’
‘I’ve spend all my time chasing incarnations of the prophets, long dead lovers, Gunji jackdaws, blizzards…trollops!’
The Good: Don’t deny it, you find the baby Molly the cutest thing in the world too! The shot of her in her pyjamas gazing up at her folks and saying ‘Rumplestiltskin’ just makes me melt. The fantasies are of a childhood monster coming true, of a teenager wishing his hero was real, of a horny Doctor who wants to get his jollies with the frigid science officer and of a terrorist who conjures a horrific burning victim – whilst this episode is basically a bit of fun each of the fantasies whipped up is rooted in character. Bashir’s reaction to Dax salivating over him is hilarious. Odo gets some very funny moments on the Promenade coping with six centimetres of snow and trying to be gentlemanly with that crazy looking bird! The scene where all the figments sit around bitching about their creators is unusual but I love the idea of peoples imaginations confusing the hell out of them – that we wish for things that we don’t actually want in reality. The ending is very pat but I do like the way Sisko manipulates his crew into whisking away the danger.
The Bad: Its such a shame that they even bothered to tether on a boring technobabble plot to explain all of this but then I suppose it is Star Trek. There’s a hilarious sequence where all the regulars stare in horror at the subspace fracture on the view screen that goes on forever. I think it was supposed to reveal that when they are in danger their imaginations (since they are watching them watch the fracture) are forgotten but it loses something in its execution. As they defeat the fracture the audience is swamped with a tsunami of technobabble (but at least Kira has the nerve to say ‘What the hell does that mean?’ at her own technobabble!). One odd thing about the first season of DS9 is that it keeps throwing out ideas that scream of being followed up in later seasons (Kai Opaka) and in this episode the entity even says ‘maybe next year.’ For a show that has a brilliant hit rate at following things up there are some remarkable oversights.
Moment to Watch Out For: Kira’s pyro nightmare is terrifying – imagine a man on fire running towards you like that?
Teaser-tastic: As soon as we meet Rumplestiltskin in the flesh you know this going to be one of those TNG premise that DS9 tries out every now and again (see also Rivals, Meridian, Children of Time, One Little Ship).
Only DS9: The Quark/Odo scenes are so good I could just imagine a great sitcom with the two of them hanging out in the bar (ala the Coffee Shop in Friends) and bitching at each other. Frankly given the loose sexuality that goes on on this station I’m surprised they didn’t call the show Deep Throat Nine! Its very refreshing to have a Star Trek show that doesn’t like dull old strictures like duty get in the way of having a good time. Even Worf gets his jollies when he joins!
Result: If Wishes Were Horses is basically a load of old tat with a plot that is barely worth mentioning and yet the episode is full of insightful character moments, funny scenes, fantastic dialogue and some very interesting fantasies being brought to life. It shows the huge gulf between when DS9 tries something this nonsensical and when TNG and VOY do (which would just be dreadful in both cases – what would Harry Kim wish for, to sit in the Captain’s chair?). The three episodes that have gone down the light-hearted route this year have all tried to end on a moment of danger (and only The Nagus got away with it) and especially in this case I wouldn’t have bothered. There is clearly a terrific amount of comic mileage to be had out of the idea of peoples imaginations running out of control without having to resort to the usual dreary old technobabble. A disposable episode that just so happens to be an enormous amount of fun for two thirds of its running time: 7/10
The Forsaken written by Don Carlos Dunaway & Michael Piller and directed by Les Landau
What’s it about: Mrs Troi visits the station and falls for a most unusual man…
Single Father: The look on Sisko’s face when he turns away from the Ambassadors who have just invaded Ops is priceless. Somehow from deep inside he manages to conjure up a smile but you can see it is painful for him. Curzon used to delight in giving Sisko some dreadful assignments when he was a junior office and so now he enjoys torturing Bashir in the same way!
Unknown Sample: Poor Odo doesn’t quite know how to react when Lwaxana visits him in his office in her sexiest hair (and her sexiest ever outfit) and literally starts climbing the furniture to paw at him! ‘Odo…it rolls of the tongue!’ His take on procreation is typically unique (it doesn’t require changing how you smell or sacrificing various plant life to serve as tokens of affection!). Odo understands thieves and killers but doesn’t have a clue how to handle women. He doesn’t handle delicacy very well. The look on his face when he realises he is stuck in a lift with Mrs Troi is one of sheer horror. When Mrs Troi starts going on about her lurid sex life with Ferengi’s Odo wonders wistfully how many volts are in the exposed circuit…whether to try and escape or commit suicide I’m not sure! Odo is so used to people accepting him for what he is but not understanding him that when Lwaxana starts asking him about how he made his hair and about his past he talks about it tentatively. He never grew up per se, it was merely a transition between what he used to be to what he chose to become. Mrs Troi is right, it does sound very lonely.
GE Doctor: How delicious that Bashir is lumbered with the ‘Ambassadors of Unhappy’. This bunch of complaining, opinionated, insulting and thoroughly miserable Federation representatives put him through the wringer and no mistake and its wonderful to see Sisko palming off this rotten assignment on the young Doctor.
Everyday Engineer: Remember when O’Brien was having a tiff with the computer in Emissary well that is nothing compared to the domestic he has with it here. He’s so pissed off with its constant opinions he insists on doing a root canal and digging out the guts of the thing and putting back together so it does what he says. Shouldn’t take any more than two or three years!
Mrs Troi: I love Mrs Troi! I know people found her tiresome on TNG but for me she was the complete opposite. Here was somebody who spoke her mind, who insulting the crass, middle class lot of them (even her daughter with the spectacularly insightful ‘Deanna dear I love you dearly but you do turn everything into an epitaph.’). So naturally she fits in perfectly with all the misfits and exiles on DS9, gambling and flirting generally having a great time. She turns Oo’max into some serious pain for Quark when he refuses to compensate for her missing hair brooch (‘I know where it hurts the most you little troll!’) and then falls for the enigmatic Constable Odo when she sees how unique a man he is. The chemistry between Rene Auberjonois and Majel Barrett is very natural and their quick fire exchanges have the witty repartee of a good Noel Coward film. Lwaxana heads off down memory lane and recounts the events of Ménage a Troi. The scene where Lwaxana tries to comfort Odo as he tries to resist regenerating is like none we have ever seen for her before, it completely redefines what the character is capable of beyond being a comic caricature. When she takes off her wig and offers Odo a rare glimpse into how ordinary she really looks your heart melts with the intimacy between the two characters at that moment. The writing is so sensitive and has taken two of the strongest willed Trek characters and broken them right down to their barest state and the result is that we understand them both so much more and invest a great deal in their relationship. Who saw any of that coming?
Sparkling Dialogue: ‘You are the thin beige line between order and chaos!’
‘Every sixteen hours I turn into a liquid!’ ‘I can swim.’
‘Even we non shape shifters have to change who were are every now and again’ ‘You are not at all what I expected’ ‘No-one has ever paid me a greater compliment.’
‘When it comes to picnics the only thing that really matters is the company.’
Dreadful Dialogue: ‘That’s it?’ says the Bolian Ambassador ‘I was expecting more somehow.’ You really want to punch this guy in the face!
The Good: Why is it when there are explosions and fires on DS9 they feel so much more dramatic than on other Trek shows? Even afterwards the corridor is a wreck and screaming with sparks and filled with smoke. O’Briens computer/puppy metaphor is one of the cutest (‘keep it off the furniture’).
The Bad: Sisko schedules a briefing at 0400. In the morning? Is that the same corridor explosion from If Wishes Were Horses?
Moment to Watch Out For: The scene where Odo melts into Mrs Troi’s lap. My mum watched this with me on its first transmission and she was reaching for the tissues.
Only DS9: ‘Are you actually suggesting that we indulge in one of those disgusting Ferengi sex programmes?’ – this show is obsessed with sex! Every episode seems to have a reference! ‘I’ve never been with a shape shifter’ ‘Been with?’ The scene where Odo visits Sisko to complain about Mrs Troi’s voracious sexual appetite could only happen on DS9 (and not just because its these characters). It’s a delightful scene that sees Sisko loving Odo’s discomfort at being sought after ‘like a Wanoni tracehound!’
Myth Building: One thing I have noticed is that nine times out of ten if Michael Piller is involved with a script he literally brings the best out of the characters on this show…and if Les Landau is extremely good at directing intimate dramas like this (see also Progress).
Result: Not content with having a gorgeous A story that sees Mrs Troi set her sights on Odo, The Forsaken also chooses to torture Bashir in an amusing B story and even feature a C story that uses technobabble in a really fun way! I’m not sure how they manage to pack it all in but none of these narratives feels undersold and they weave around each other effortlessly. Every scene is imbued with character that skips through everything from romantic comedy to intimate drama and the performances are sublime. Because it has so much going on it doesn’t quite have the focus of the best episodes of the season but it is still ridiculously entertaining and has some really moving scenes between Odo and Lwaxana. Both Vortex and The Forsaken offer tantalising glimpses into a softer Odo without diminishing the character in the slightest and have provided some of the most touching moments of the season: 8/10
Dramatis Personae written by Joe Menosky and directed by Cliff Bole
What’s it about: The crew become infected by a telepathic race who destroyed themselves…
Single Father: Considering he can be such a scary bloke I find it even more unnerving to find Sisko sitting reflectively in his office designing a clock (what the hell was that all about?) with only occasional sudden bursts anger and violence. The way he whispers his dialogue like singing to a child is enough to give me nightmares! My favourite scene in this episode comes when Sisko starts his new clock in the last scene, it’s the one touch of thoughtfulness in all the sci-fi melodrama. I’m really glad the baseball from If Wishes Were Horses and the clock from this episode stick around – they might be two of the most disposable episodes of the season but they do have an impact on the series.
Tasty Terrorist: It does seem a little odd that we should return to the feisty tension between Kira and Sisko that was highlighted in Past Prologue but at least we have got to the stage where she will concede to ‘try things his way.’ At least until the Klingon energy sphere invades her mind and makes her try to murder him horribly! Once she is taken over Kira is so ridiculously butch and aggressive it is hard to take her seriously. Firstly she tries to manipulate Odo by going for the heavy seduction approach and then she manages to bring Dax around by sensitively flirting with her too!
Everyday Engineer: Amazing how unlikable Colm Meaney can make O’Brien by twisting a few of his normal characteristics out of joint (his casual racism and general opinionated nature both of which are oddly charming usually). Meaney seems to enjoy the chance to the chew the scenery in Sisko’s Office, channelling his performance from TNG’s Power Play.
Unknown Sample: Odo tries the softly softly method with Quark by gossiping with him about the Klingons but as soon as that doesn’t work (or Quark tries to bribe him) he turns on the bad cop which proves much more effective. When his face starts playing pat-a-cake it looks really excruciating, Auberjonois is great at playing those moments of sudden pain. Whilst the kinky dominatrix approach doesn’t work on Odo I bet her talk of giving him free reign on the station and banging up whoever he likes made him think for just a second. He’s such a craft character, manipulating O’Brien, Kira, Bashir and Sisko all at the same time.
Community Leader: Trust Quark to try and wangle some compensation out of this whole sorry situation, putting on a fake neck brace and crying out ‘I want satisfaction!’
Nine Lives: Looks bored with the whole episode. Its easy to sympathise.
Sparkling Dialogue: ‘She must have spies everywhere!’ – O’Brien on Kira!
‘Never get me a phaser, I’ll get rid of Kira!’ – scaaaary!
The Good: Even though the writing is pretty vacuous the direction tries to make up for it by suggesting a state of wrongness in every scene. Even Odo waking up on a bed in Infirmary is filmed in a very odd way. As something of a horologist myself I adore Sisko’s clock – it is so beautiful and unusual. Even though the regulars on this show are more at odds than you usually see on Star Trek when they finally turn on each other in this episode it is spectacularly nasty with Sisko literally kicking the shit out of a Bajoran officer who is trying to put him to sleep, O’Brien slapping Dax around the face and Kira coming at everything guns blazing. The last ten minutes are the best of this episode in that respect with Odo trying to get everybody where he needs them whilst convincing them he is on their side.
The Bad: Dax is looking vacant immediately after the teaser – I probably would have let the audience think things were normal for a little longer. As soon a somebody starts acting out of character you know that more is to come. The constant cuts to the Klingon log does explain what is going on but there are far too many scenes of people sitting around watching it. The conclusion is spectacularly daft with Odo opening a vacuum to space as everybody hangs onto consoles.
Moment to Watch Out For: Watch out for the scene where Kira picks up Quark and throws him across the bar and so hard he hits the wall and brings a ton of glasses crashing down.
Result: Dramatis Personae is basically all the ill feeling amongst the crew of DS9 turned up the nth degree. To someone who watches the odd episode you might not even distinguish between their behaviour here (Kira beating up Quark and arguing with Sisko, O’Brien’s strong opinions about everything, Bashir playing the field) and the last time you watched but anyone who has watched the entire season will have seen subtle changes in their behaviour as they have started to gel. This used to be my least favourite episode of the season because none of the characterisation on display is particularly subtle but the regulars certainly all give it their all and it results in an episode that is at least entertaining camp trash. If you ever wanted to see Kira flirt with Dax, Sisko kick the crap out of someone, Odo walk a fine line between two camps, O’Brien putting his tactical skills to good use and a cat and mouse hunt between the crew then this is the episode for you! Personally I prefer the more thoughtful brand of DS9 and this is nothing but a bad TNG episode given a little more spice. This is the case for all the Joe Menosky inspired DS9 episodes…he is definitely pitching for the wrong show. It doesn’t surprise me at all that he found a home on Voyager: 5/10
Duet written by Peter Allan Fields and directed by James L. Conway
What’s it about: A Cardassian war criminal falls into Kira’s clutches…
Single Father: What’s wonderful about this episode is that all of the regulars get wonderful scenes whilst it is highlighting Nana Visitor’s Kira. Its is such a beautifully simple situation where everybody wants possession of this man and Sisko is placed in the bureaucratic nightmare of trying to keep the Bajorans and the Cardassians happy whilst also sticking to Federation rules and pleasing his First Officer.
Tasty Terrorist: The episode that put Nana Visitor on the map. This is the last step of Kira’s phenomenal development throughout the first season (actually not quite, she still has a further realisation to make about the Federation in In the Hands of the Prophets) and the episode where her hatred for Cardassians is put uncomfortably under the microscope and she is forced to re-evaluate her opinion. Gene Roddenberry might have been against racist characters in Star Trek but it makes for great drama, especially as they come to realise that their stance might not be right. Always one to under react (yeah, right), Kira calls for Security as soon as she suspects Marritza is a war criminal. His assertion that she has hate in her eyes and wants to kill him might be ridiculous in any other situation but proves scarily accurate here. Kira is crafty enough to have contacted the Minister of State to ensure that Marritza is persecuted and released to Bajoran justice because she firmly believes that the Federation has no business telling them how to deal with their criminals. She promises Sisko that she will conduct herself accordingly even though she isn’t objective (clearly their conversation in Progress had an effect). Kira tries to silence the ranting Darheel by trying to pigeon hole him as insane but he refuses to let her label him that easily. Kira used to lie awake at night plotting the assassination of people like Darheel. The strongest realisation that Kira has during this season is that Marritza didn’t commit the crimes and that he was only one man…the fact that he is a Cardassian isn’t reason enough to persecute him. It’s a massive step for her and beautifully played by Visitor. Astonishing character growth for a Star Trek character.
Filing Clerk: A character so memorable, so brilliantly conceived, written and performed that he deserves a section of his own. He’s perfectly charming towards Sisko with a little acidic wit (‘Oh finally, the Federation to the rescue’). Marritza heads to DS9 with an agenda and he knows exactly what he is doing but its only at the climax that you realise this – throughout you are never sure who he is or what he is up to. He knows exactly how to play Kira, suggesting that it was the Bajorans that killed each other at the labour camp and the suggestion that Cardassians were responsible was made by them to provoke fear in their enemies. He even suggests that leaving Bajor was a political decision and that Bajorans achieved nothing by getting rid of them. And then once exposed as Darheel he stabs her in the gut emotionally by telling her she can kill him but it wont change anything about the murders he ordered. Marritza tries desperately to keep up his pretence, to rant and rave but he finally breaks down when his lies flood him with the same feelings of shame and guilt he felt at the time. He goes from being the most loathed character in Star Trek to the most sympathetic.
Nine Lives: Jadzia the Champion Window Breaker, proof that Miss Goody Two Shoes isn’t quite as innocent as she seems (‘I was deadly’).
Sparkling Dialogue: ‘If you’d seen the things I saw. All those Bajoran bodies, starved, brutalised. D’you know what Cardassian policy was…no I’m not even talking about murder, murder was just the end of the fun for them. First came the humiliation. Mothers raped in front of their children, husbands beaten until their wives couldn’t recognise them, old people buried alive because they couldn’t work anymore!’ Such is the ferocity of Nana Visitor’s performance with this one scene she exposes just how terrifying life under the Occupation must have been. Another hellish reminder of where she has come from.
‘Persecuting Cardassians goes far beyond your job Major, its your passion.’
‘Kill me! Torture me! You can never undo what I’ve accomplished…the dead will still be dead!’
‘Nothing justifies genocide!’ ‘What you call genocide I call a days work’ – how James L. Conway lingers on Kira’s face after that line gives it even more power.
‘Cardassia will only survive if it stands in front of Bajor and admits the truth. My trial will force Cardassia to acknowledge its guilt. And we’re guilty all of us! My death is necessary!’ ‘What you’re asking for is another murder. Enough good people have already died. I wont help kill another.’
‘He was a Cardassian, that’s reason enough!’ ‘No…its not.’
The Good: The way this story plots out its mystery storyline is beautiful, its almost Garak-like in its Russian Doll layers of truth and deception. Marritza is a war criminal, no he isn’t, he doesn’t have Kalla-Nohra, yes he does, he is a file clerk, no he’s the butcher of Gallitep…no he is a good man trying to embody the guilt of his people Marritza has a great point to make about making a race feel like victims and not having to lift a finger once you have achieved that. The psychological angle is often far more effective than the physical one. The sequence where they clear up an image of Gallitep and discover Marritza’s true identity is a masterpiece of scene construction – it is beautifully put together to up the tension and suspense without a single person raising their voice. Wonderful that an episode that is so focused on Cardassian atrocities ends on a Bajoran one. It seems there is still a long way to go. The last shot is one of the most beautifully framed endings of any Star Trek episode.
The Bad: The Bajoran drunk seems like a superfluous character…until the last scene where even his involvement is blissfully made necessary.
Moment to Watch Out For: The scene where Kira finally gets Marritza to reveal his true identity is my favourite moment in Star Trek. It’s the only scene that manages to give me goosebumps and reduce me to tears in the same scene and the performances of Visitor and Yulin and beyond exceptional. Its drama at its finest and it brings this episode to a devastating conclusion. Both characters undergo astonishing transformations in this scene and you realise this man is willing to sacrifice his dignity and his life to get his people to face up to their horrors.
Only DS9: Duet pushes Star Trek levels into new areas of discomfort. When Tasha Yar talked about rape gangs it felt tasteless and ridiculous but when Kira talks of children witnessing their mothers being raped the very idea just fills you with horror. Maybe it’s the serious tone but the issues dealt with in this episode feel devastatingly real.
Teaser-tastic: All records show that the only you could have contracted Kalla-Nohra were at a Bajoran labour camp and their injured party is a Cardassian. Ouch.
Myth Building: The only cases of Kalla-Nohra are from the Bajoran forced labour camp, Gallitep.
Orchestra: Even the music is exceptional in this story – a particular feat given I cannot remember a single piece of music that has stood out in the first season to this point. This is quietly scored episode to allow the performances to dominate but the music creeps in during some strong moments (the revelation of Marritza in the photograph, after the ‘genocide’ line, when Kira finally breaks him).
Foreboding: Neela is introduced as one of O’Brien’s engineering crew and she would take on a much greater role in the next story. Its done with all the subtlety of the Durst/Seska examples – and it came first.
Result: The most effective psychological drama in Star Trek bar none. Haris Yulin, character actor extraordinaire takes on a truly challenging part that could so easily have been nothing but a ranting villain and he embodies the role with such realism and terror you forget all about the make up and simply concentrate on the riveting drama between him and Kira. The script is a beautifully crafted thing literally stuffed with memorable dialogue (I had to carefully cherry pick my favourites above but pretty much the entire script sparkles) and featuring a mystery that will leave you desperate to know the truth by the climax. Add to this precise and subtle direction that teases the drama from the situation, more exceptional work done with Kira and a conclusion that rips out your heart and stamps on it repeatedly and you have a rare thing. An episode that fires on all cylinders all the time. Exceptional in every single way and whilst hardly spending a penny: 10/10
In the Hands of the Prophets written by Robert Hewitt Wolfe and directed by David Livingston
What’s it about: Religious fundamentalism and science battle it out in a game of politics…
Single Father: Sisko knew a conflict of human and Bajoran ideologies was inevitable and he refuses to start separating their interests. He’s not comfortable in the role of the Emissary and tries to get Winn to call him Benjamin. The scene between Sisko and Jake about the matter of interpretation is a very powerful one, I really like how he forcefully tells his son that the Bajoran spiritual faith isn’t something to scoffed at even if you don’t believe in it. This is a turning point for Sisko’s character where he gets to reaffirm his mission statement and evolve the themes that were laid down in Emissary. His speech to Winn and her followers kicks more ass than any amount of ships he can blow up with the Defiant because it shows him as a considered leader offering hope to both sides of this faction and despite Winn’s most insidious efforts he still comes out looking as though he is right. His acknowledgment that he and Kira have some damn good fights but they always come away with a better understanding of each other is terrific.
Tasty Terrorist: Interesting to see Kira showing her support for Winn in this episode. It wont last long. Her assertion that teaching pure science without a spiritual context being another kind of philosophy is a potent view, its not one that I share but it does make you think. Kira awkwardly tries to excuse the absence of several Bajoran crewmen and continues to be a firm presence in Ops as the situation is crumbling around them. The last scene of the episode where Kira admits that Sisko’s speech struck a chord in her and that she is happy working with him ends the season on a positive note.
The O’Briens: With a cheeky grin Keiko teases O’Brien about his amazing new young female engineering crewmember. ‘Just keeping you on your toes, O’Brien.’ Its great to actually see Keiko at work in the school and she does seem like quite a naturally teacher and I am pleased that she doesn’t let a Bajoran spiritual leader waltz in and dictate what can and cannot be taught in her classroom. Whilst she might be a little too forceful in her defiance of spiritual teachings this is the healthiest development Keiko has ever had. I love O’Brien because he is such a fantastically flawed character with many vices from swearing too much, being a little too friendly with his Bajoran engineers (perfectly innocently I might add but it is easy to interpret otherwise) and eating too many sweet things. We have heard O’Brien say some casually racist things about Cardassians this season (and we would do so again) and it is interesting to see that he doesn’t like when Bajorans give him the same treatment. Neela likes O’Brien because he doesn’t put on any airs and I couldn’t put it better myself.
Sparkling Dialogue: ‘My philosophy is that there is room for all philosophies on this station!’
‘Some fear you as a symbol of the Federation that they view as Godless. Some fear you as the Emissary who walked with the Prophets. And some fear you because Vedek Winn told them to.’
‘The Prophets teach us patience’ ‘It appears they also teach you politics.’
‘The Prophets spoke! I answered their call!’
‘Maybe we have made some progress after all.’
The Good: Over its seven years DS9 would continually add to its arsenal of acting talent and each innovation would turn out to be for the better of the show. Louise Fletcher is an superb actress and the role of Winn is a perfect match for her talents and both the character and the actress bring the best out in each other. Winn is insidious, a political mastermind who craves power and is all the time smiling at you whilst plunging a knife into your back. Some of the best ever DS9 scenes belong to this character. Look at the way she whips up the parents into a religious frenzy and hilariously appears to be offering an olive branch to Keiko. She’s so deviously polite you have to admire her ability to lie through her teeth. Its great to finally visit the Bajoran temple on the Promenade, its an exquisitely designed and lit set. Whilst there is far too much technobabble flowing I really enjoyed the murder mystery subplot that rumbles through this episode and how it beautifully ties into the main story. The thing about Star Trek is it doesn’t venture out on location very often (I point that has driven me insane in the TNG episodes with a new planet each week that looks exactly the same each time) but when they do the result is some of the most gorgeous photography you will ever see outside of a movie. The monastery gardens scenes in Prophets are stunning, the sun is shining through the tall trees, the birds sing and the water flows down the river. Its somewhere I would love to visit myself. There’s another brilliant Odo/Quark moment (‘Those spiritual types love those Dabo girls!’).The fire that rages from the school bombing is an outstanding physical effect and it takes the episode onto a whole new level dramatically. The school is left in ruins afterwards and its as potent an image of religious extremism as I have ever seen. I love that the revelation about Neela isn’t packaged as a massively melodramatic moment but revealed as a silenced look between her and Winn after Sisko’s speech. Winn is such a wonderful bitch that she is not only willing to let Neela sacrifice her life in order to further her political career but she also packages it as a religious decree. Look at the last shot of this episode, a stunning ariel view of Ops.
Moment to Watch Out For: Aside from the wonderfully funny moment when Sisko leaps through the air I cannot think of a better staged sequence in Star Trek than Neela attempting to assassinate Bariel. Its brilliantly captured in slow motion, precisely lit and performed and still takes my breath away today after seeing it more times than is probably healthy even for a show of this series. The way Neela slips effortlessly from the crowd into shot with her gun and the look on Bariel’s face as the shot goes wide and explodes behind his head are both blisteringly powerful moments.
Only DS9: We have never seen political manoeuvring in Star Trek on this level before and its gripping.
Fashion Statement: Vedek Bariel is the hottest religious leaders I have ever clapped my eyes on.
Myth Building: Winn is from an orthodox order and has some support to become the next Kai but probably not enough. Vedek Bariel’s Since this is our first visit to the Bajoran capital since Emissary it is nice to see that the rebuilding is complete since the Cardassians left and the planet looks as serenely and stunning as ever.
Orchestra: Wonderfully subtle music during the assassination sequence.
Foreboding: This episode is superbly structure – Neela is seen realigning the isolinear co-processor in the first scene after the titles which looks like a throwaway moment but proves to be the lynchpin of the entire episode.
Result: In the Hands of the Prophets starts out really well and just gets better and better and better. You have two equally interesting plots that run separately and blissfully come together in a powerful and dramatic climax. There is room for political manoeuvring, a murder mystery, character development, two outstanding action sequences and the introduction of two perfectly pitched and performed new guest characters in Winn and Bariel. It brings the season to a climactic end on a real high, showing the bold new direction that the show is beginning to take and leaves you with nothing but positive feelings about leaping into the second year. Star Trek has never been like this before and its better than ever: 9/10