Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Emissary"

***1/2

Air date: 1/4/1993
Teleplay by Michael Piller
Story by Rick Berman & Michael Piller
Directed by David Carson

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

And so the trek begins. The highly ambitious two-hour pilot for Deep Space Nine brings a discontented Commander Benjamin Sisko to a post of diplomacy where he must prepare a damaged Bajor for entry into the Federation. The drama of all the various characters' introductions is superbly handled, introducing many of their motives, beliefs, problems, and internal conflicts with skill and depth. The premise is interesting and large in canvas, promising to show the long-term consequences of a static setting facing sweeping change, as the Bajorans' rebuild their Cardassian-destroyed world.

The differing agendas between Starfleet and Bajor open many possibilities for conflicts of interests between Sisko and Kira, demonstrated here by their fiery opening dialog. The technical credits are impressive, including a gripping opening sequence depicting the Borg attack on Wolf 359, and an impressive array of sets for the Cardassian space station.

The second half of the pilot, which documents Sisko and Dax's discovery of the wormhole—and Sisko's communication with the wormhole inhabitants—grows a bit repetitive, but it remains both intriguing and cerebral, making vivid points about the nature of existence. Meanwhile, Kira shows respectable strength and leadership in fending off a group of threatening Cardassians at the station with limited resources. Bookended by scenes between Sisko and Picard, the drama goes full circle as Sisko finally comes to terms with his past and prepares for the future as a builder and also as the Emissary within Bajoran mythology. As the foundation for the series to follow, "Emissary" is excellent drama, promising more sophisticated themes than The Next Generation.

Next episode: Past Prologue

Season Index

37 comments on this review

Elliott - Mon, Apr 18, 2011 - 2:46am (USA Central)
Emissary

Teaser ***.5 5%
It's emotionally engaging to see the battle at W359—it's a mythical moment in the Star Trek canon and we only ever saw the aftereffect... mostly however, this is about Sisko, and what do we see? Well, on the one hand here's a man for whom we must feel a great deal of sympathy, at the same time, it's difficult to take him seriously as a starfleet officer. Dire circumstances or no, this man can't perform his duty. It's also no coincidence the Saratoga had civilians—a commentary of cynicism against the Enterprise D style city-ship with its families. The shift in mood to the scene with Jake in the holodeck is nice, but rather abrupt considering what just transpired, it may have been more suitable to create an even more jarring moment that sees Sisko remembering the events vividly just before he has to go collect his son (I'm thinking something along the lines of ST 8 with Picard's memories.

Act 1 **.5 10%
Sisko's tour through the disheveled station is a nice plotting device. I dig it, he essentially is our conduit for meeting the rest of the cast. Beginning with O'Brien whom we know and Kira. O'Brien doesn't have much meat yet, he's just a familiar face. Kira...oh Kira...well two things really don't work here. One is Nana Visitor—she's chewing the up the scenery in what is ostensibly a private conversation between strangers...it feels phony and almost laughably melodramatic. I'm sorry to say this will be the norm for a lot of Kira scenes. Brooks' portrayals flitter in and out between good (these being in moments essentially of cordiality) and questionable (like the odd way he gives Jake a pep talk). The writing for Kira's scene feels like she was forced to wear a sign saying “CHARACTER EXPOSITION IN PROGRESS. BE ADVISED : RELEVANT THEMES AHEAD!” For this, I can partially forgive Visitor. I really don't like that the scene chooses to tell rather than show what the issues here are. No one prompted Kira to reveal any information to Sisko like this, let alone throw it up all over his desk. It's kind of silly in what had so far been an extremely reasonable portrayal, especially in a pilot. Here's the first significant shortcoming. There had to be a way to get the political and sociological themes across without this excess of dialogue.
The next scene with Odo has the potential for some dramatic tension which is totally ruined by the “acting” of the unnamed thief with whom Nog was trying to escape. However, soon after Quark appears and infuses some genuine situational comedy with Ferengi goofiness. Sisko's opportunism in dealing with it seems to stem from nothing except to fulfil the plot. Overall the act is pretty much even keeled exposition, some good some bad, nothing particularly special, except of course that nearly all the people we've met seem to be angry conniving dicks.

Act 2 * 10%
Here's where things start to plummet downhill. Commander Benjamin Sisko has just been assigned a difficult and important mission whose importance is bolstered by Picard's personal involvement and support...now, I can buy that Sisko himself wouldn't be happy about it. I can even grant him a modicum of current-day human feelings (opposing evolved 24th century ones) which illogically blame Picard for the loss of his wife—bear in mind, we KNOW what Picard went through as Locutus, we know from “Family” the guilt which plagues his psyche. Sisko's rudeness and coldness and selfishness is an affront to all of that. What I cannot grant in this situation is how in the world a man like this is entrusted with such hefty responsibility and more importantly, how Picard is completely out of character in his responses—he's a big woos next to Sisko and it feels forced because it is. It is meant I suppose to make Sisko look all the tougher but it just makes him into a dick—like everyone else save O'Brien we've met. I'm uncertain why Picard is so anxious to make Sisko feel better about his assignment...why is he so tolerant. And to use the events of BOBW against him dramatically and have it work says very little about the regard the writers of this episode seem to hold for our emblematic captain. And when Sisko interrupts him with that self-righteous rise from his seat, Picard just tells him to leave rather than doing what is both according to protocol and according to character and not letting him get away with it. Sisko is up for disciplinary action within the pilot. Fantastic.

Act 3 .5 10%
We get a little scene with Quark, Sisko and Odo—still Sisko is the conduit for character introductions—in which the ideas we've already seen are reinforced: Sisko's an opportunist and Odo enjoys harassing Quark...Quark himself on the other hand is shown to be possessed of something very un-Ferengi-like in his quiet concern for family. This I like. Him I like. Following this we get another scene with Kira narrating her character to everyone and wearing Controversial Anti-Trek Themes [TM] on the sleeve of her uniform. Are we meant to feel something for her in this cliché scene of the supposed bureaucrat getting her hands dirty? It feels, again, forced. Creating unnecessary and ultimately meaningless conflict. That Sisko plays into her tired tricks is annoying. While it's couched in more Kira the Narrator dialogue, the idea of the Bajorans' religion holding them together after the Occupation is a good one. It's rife with relevant themes which demand discussion and says something about the nature of the Bajorans as a people. Setting aside the fact that it seems incredulous a space-faring civilisation of reported extraordinary history would still universally follow such a belief, it at least give Kira a reason to emote rather than just hurling Big Ideas at Sisko's face.
Kai Opaka...em, this silliness with the ear-grabbing is borderline infuriating...it will be eventually explained that Sisko was ordained to be the emissary since before his birth...but here Opaka has some magical abilities which enable her to understand that. There's no deeper context given to the idea beyond, it's belief so it must be valid. It's beyond un-Trekkian, it's new-age nonsense and really cheapens the show henceforth. What's most disturbing is that this belief doesn't seem to know whether it wants to be a legitimate religion or a comic book-style adventure test. The mixing of genres makes the whole thing seem hokey...then we get the orb experience...another drop in quality...most noticeably, Brooks can't play this scene to save his life. It's breathless and schizophrenic...notice, his eyes never follow his body. He can't say anything real from his character so he overtly projects it out into the scene—it's analogous to the way Kira's lines have been written. But its shallowness pales next to the portrayal of Jennifer. Wow this woman can't act her way out of a broom cupboard. With this bimbo in her swimsuit barely able to recite her lines next to this cooing whimpering dolt, it's impossible to take this seriously as a “religious experience.” Now, I can get that this is supposed to be some sort of statement, but it doesn't work at all. It's funny in a “laughing at you” sort of way—think of Janeway's mumbling in “Twisted.” And Sisko is given another mission to echo the one given him by Starfleet—to save Mount Olympus from the Nazis. The portrayal of Opaka is, however, excellently acted, so at least someone knows what she's doing.

Act 4 **.5 %10

What follows is an upturn in this little tale—a scene painting of the Promenade. Infectous and delightful in its imagery. The lines with Quark are entirely superfluous as they further the story in no way. And along come two new cast members, Bashir and Dax. Sigh. Whom shall we begin with, let's say Dax : can we say phoned in? We haven't delved into the nature of her Trill being yet, but come on, you'd think someone who's centuries old would have a little personality. I'm also tiring at this point of Sisko's sound effect acting...like the whistling, etc. Her orb experience for all its randomness, was actually a highlight—apparently she can act! Just not when asked to deliver lines, I suppose. And Bashir; while his lines are of the same “look at me I'm exposing my character” stuff as were Kira's, somehow his palpable naïvety works to lessen the squareness of his text. Kira gets another chance to be self-righteous for which I'm sure we're all grateful. Here ends the Sisko as a conduit thread as O'Brien gives his farewell to TNG. Damn if Stewart and Meany don't give the scene their all in trying to sell the scene as emotional, but there's no dialogue, nothing meaningful to say. It's almost as if O'Brien really didn't matter. It feels like a last-minute effort to give him a scene that wasn't really ever written. What does pack a punch (and what I should have mentioned earlier) is McCarthy's wonderfully thematic score which really sells the disembarkation of the Enterprise.

Act 5 *** 10%
Dukat. First let me say that the conflict between the Cardassians and the Federation seems to violate what's been established by TNG, it's a little off-putting that Sisko would lie to Dukat considering he's technically an ally—it feels very 20th century, not at all 24th. Next let me say that Dukat as a character an his portrayal are absolutely on the money fantastic. Finally this show has given us a character (and with very little to show him off yet) which we can sink our teeth into. Too bad his name doesn't appear in the opening credits. Hmm. Odo's powers are put to use, which is fun in a “Secret World of Alex Mac” sort of way. At this point, characters are all but abandoned in favour of plotting and fancy tech shots. For what those things are worth, they seem fine, if a little slowly paced.

Act 6 ** 10%
At the heart of the success of Sisko's mission (bearing in mind this is not his Starfleet mission, but the one given him by Opaka) is his devious use of Odo—it's completely unethical and I have a hard time following that not only do the Starfleet officers follow this line of action, so do the Bajoran militia AND no one even addresses it. But I suppose they had to find the wormhole somehow. Cinematographically, my biggest complaint is with pacing. Sisko's and Dax' dialogue about the amazing wormhole is astonishingly unexciting. A lot of tech babble and little emotion. When they spout silly tech on TNG the actors which do (usually Burton and Spiner) manage to imbue it with feeling. Then we get the wormhole “planet” with it's wince-inducing scene metaphor. What's worst is the fact that neither Dax nor Sisko seems to give a damn about the whole thing. It's all very weird and again SLLLOOOWWW. My biggest complaint about this is actually the scene cutting. If you're going to sell this environment of the prophets with Sisko's floating head inside his own heartbeat, don't cut to an FX shot of the wormhole and a big orchestral cue, it makes the whole thing seem arbitrary and again hokey. The entire orb experience needed be presented at once and followed by the concurrent action on the station. Dax' return to DS9 could easily have happened off camera. And it makes Dax' trip in the runabout seem completely pointless. Speaking of which—the discussion in Ops about moving the station. Ironically enough, only Kira (well, and O'Brien too) show any sign that they ever had an acting lesson. The situation with Odo is irritating, not that the content is empty, in fact it will prove to be one of the best things about the series, but it's crammed into this episode, again like an afterthought.

Act 7 *.5 10%

Linear time...well it's an interesting concept from a sci-fi point of view, from a real science point of view, philosophically, and psychologically. It's even more interesting when these different takes are tackled simultaneously. How can it go wrong you ask? Well, let's see first there's the systemic problem of interrupting it with the plotting scenes of the remaining cast, then there's the fact that Sisko is an idiot and has no ability to communicate these ideas...it's so easy for him to grapple with how the aliens see him, with their unique existence, so why is it so hard for them to understand? They understand responsibility and consequences, but those are concepts which depend upon a linear existence. Why do they try to add cram sex and death and loss and family and other huge and (from their perspective) terribly strange ideas into this little conversation (oh and baseball too of course...including a sports lessons)? It's totally unfocused and wants to mean a lot more than it can given this sabotage. Ultimately, the whole enterprise falls on its face.

Act 8 *.5 10%

More sophisticate themes huh? “You have one hour” or we will destroy your space station which can fly!!! Sounds terribly sophisticate to me.
Sigh, all this “look for solutions from within” mumbo jumbo is painful in its childishness which finally makes all the attempts at high-concept arguments null. Don't get me wrong, I really appreciate the cerebral method, I find the idea that science and emotion and reason and faith can coalesce on some deep level, and for the attempt I grant the show a lot of leeway, but only to a point.
On the other hand, any characterisations previously installed in the episode serve only to add some silly biting edge to the overdrawn battle sequence with the Cardassians. Kira's a badass rebel, O'Brien's a jester, Bashir's a super-doctor, blah blah blah. Oh and Jadzia's lets us know how low the shield strength has fallen.

Epilogue *** 5%

Mostly good stuff, the scening work is on target, the themes and subgroups are conveyed visually and convincingly—my beef again, is with Sisko's interruption. How dare he, in either situation? And how dare Picard let him get away with it and shake is hand to leave. Ah, well, perfect final shot of ships arriving at the station.

Episode as a functionary *** 10%

It accomplishes every pilots goal of introducing major themes and major characters very thoroughly, albeit a bit choppily. The story on its own isn't riveting, and seems stretched to fill the two-hour time gap, in spite of the fact that some major plotting goes on. Overall, not bad.

Final Score : **
justin mizany - Fri, Jan 27, 2012 - 1:45pm (USA Central)
I knew one of the directors for Deep Space Nine, Reza badiyi. I am interested in contacting some of the other directors listed on this page as having also worked on that show? Where might I be able to find some of their contact information?
Gaius Maximus - Wed, Apr 4, 2012 - 9:51pm (USA Central)
Elliot, although I disagree with a lot of your conclusions, I'm impressed by the thoroughness and thoughtfulness of your review. Just wanted to pick one nit, though. At this point, the Federation was at peace with the Cardassians, but, as TNG had shown, it was an uneasy peace and emphatically not an alliance. Just because there is peace does not make us allies. I don't think Sisko did anything wrong, even by 24th century standards in lying to Dukat about the orb. You don't see the Federation sharing sensitive research with the Romulans either.
William - Tue, Jul 24, 2012 - 10:57pm (USA Central)
I've always thought this was a great introductory episode to the series. I can nitpick things here and there, but they did a good job setting things up.

Looking back, they really seemed to have a vision early on about who these people were and where they wanted to take them, vs. Next Gen. Some of the players act really out of eventual character in the pilot.
Van_Patten - Sun, Aug 5, 2012 - 5:39pm (USA Central)
The pilot episode of the Series and I think the first thing to say is that you can tell the Producers had taken on board some of the lessons of TNG, which would be a recurring feature of the First season of DS9, and ironically one of the things that would sink Voyager, comIng in its wake.

The plot I won't reiterate here, as anyone watching the series I'd hope finds it easy to follow. It's a sequel (of sorts) to the episodes, 'The Wounded' and 'Ensign Ro' which first introduced the Cardassians and the Bajorans.

As to the episode itself, I'd have to agree with some of Elliott's feedback - the plot seems stretched out to fill the 90 minutes in some ways. I liked the fact that the underrated Colm Meaney s being moved up to a higher billing, and for me the part that works best is the initial first twenty minutes of the episode, from the recreation of Wolf 359 through to the initial tour of the devastated station. Arguably the sole false note is the scene between Kira and Sisko, which seems somewhat forced, and it would seem difficult to believe that a government which has 'requested aid' would send such a fiery person to liaise with the Federation!

The remainder of the episode is a mixed bag. The scenes first on the beach where Brooks re-enacts meeting his wife ( Felecia Bell is awful - I think that needs to be said) and then when meeting the 'Wormhole aliens' now just drag on a little. Where the episode is much better is when the Cardassians are 'back' using the station's recreational facilities, and when they're on the scene, the episode is much stronger.

It's a mixed bag, as I said- with good and bad aspects but it does tell a more compelling story than 'Encounter', with the promise of an intriguing world at a new 'Final Frontier' Early impressions of the cast. The obvious stronger links are Rene Auberjonois and Armin Shimmerman, whilst the weaker links (again) are the two female leads (at least for now) Overall, I'd give this 2.5 stars I think. The expository dialogue regarding the Orbs and the Prophets hasn't aged well, and the episode could probably have Los 15 minutes and added more focus to merit a higher rating.
Cail Corishev - Tue, Sep 11, 2012 - 4:25pm (USA Central)
As a pilot, it does its job well. But drop 10 minutes of the nattering between Sisko and the prophets, hire a real actress to play Jennifer (did someone read the first act and say, "Oh, she's dead, we don't need an actor here, just someone who looks pretty with her eyes closed"?), tell Visitor to relax a little and stop spitting her dialogue quite so hard, and it'd be a lot better. When I recommend this show to people, I warn them, "You're going to have to put up with some really bad acting and Trek technobabble at first. Bear with it and don't let Sisko's weird, out-of-place facial expressions spook you. It gets better."

I don't mind the Sisko/Picard scenes. It makes sense that Sisko is still carrying that pain around. A macho ship's captain who lost his wife doesn't have many shoulders to cry on, and he's not likely to request therapy. It also makes sense that Picard still has trouble facing people who remind him of what he did -- unwillingly, but he's still bound to feel remorse.
And on a meta level, it felt like a signal that DS9 was its own show, and things would be different than they were on the Enterprise. TNG had to pay homage to TOS in its pilot, because there was so much nostalgia for the original show. DS9 didn't have to do that, and by setting itself apart, it established that it wouldn't be playing by the same rules or respecting the same sacred cows. (I have no idea whether the creators intended that, but that's how it feels watching it now.)

Problem Bear - Sat, Dec 1, 2012 - 5:31pm (USA Central)
I'm re-watching the series, which is my favourite Star Trek series but which I've seen only about half of, and many of those episodes only when they first aired. I thought I'd recap what I like or don't like about each episode here, on this excellent site, because no one in my personal life wants to hear me expound on a decade-old Star Trek show. :)

I'll break each episode into the Great, the Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. Here goes:

Emissary:

Great:
* The opening battle, obviously.

Good:
* It's great how surefooted the show was with its characters right off the hop. I didn't feel like anything major was wrong or something about a character needed to be "fixed" later.
* Similarly, the relationship between Jake and Benjamin feels real right away.
* Unlike some other comments I've seen, I really like Avery Brooks acting in this episode. I wish he'd kept this light a touch during the whole series. There's a certain Kirk-ness about it.
* There were a couple of characterization things that bugged me back when this aired but don't bother me anymore: One was Sisko's disdain for Picard. It was off-putting at the time to see a stranger berate Picard for something that wasn't his fault, but now that we know Sisko it sits better. Second, Bashir is incredibly annoying, but now that we know he grows it seems acceptable, brave even, to show an unlikable member of the command crew.
* The Picard-O'Brien farewell is nicely understated.
* We take it for granted now, but the wormhole opening and closing looks great.
* I like how otherworldly the prophets are. Wish they'd stayed that way.


Bad Things:
* Nana Visitor's acting is just a smidgen too much, Odo's make-up is a little off, and Quark's Ferengi growl doesn't seem like him.
* Okay, the little 'ow!' Brooks let out on the beach is too much. :)
* This happens in almost every Trek episode, but it always drives me nuts. Kira says, "There's something you'll want to see on the promenade." Just tell him what it is!
* Bashir being naive about his post is fine, but the way he asks Dax out on a date in front of Kira and Sisko is just stupid. He will see her again, after all.
* Odo's 'I don't know where I come from' speech is a little pat.
* I could do without the moving-the-station technobabble.
* The Sisko-in-the-wormhole bit goes on a bit long.
* Gul Jasad twirls his moustache a bit much (which also illustrates how good Marc Alaimo is).

Ugly Things: Nothing in this episode.

Great lines:

* Quark: "Commander, I've made a career out of knowing when to leave. And this Bajoran provisional government is far too provisional for my tastes. And when governments fall, people like me are lined up and shot."
Sisko: "There is that risk. But then you are a gambler, Quark."
Odo: "And a thief."

Prophet Jake: "Baseball? What is this?"
Sisko: "I was afraid you'd ask that."

Prophet Jennifer: "You choose to exist here. It is not linear."

Rating ***1/2
John the younger - Wed, Jan 9, 2013 - 10:39am (USA Central)
Happy 20th Anniversary DS9!
Vylora - Mon, Jan 14, 2013 - 3:40am (USA Central)
I has a nit to pick!!

I really wanted to kick Bashir in the spleen every time he talked the first time I saw this ep. Watching it again I will see the spleen and raise a liver and 1.5 kidneys.

Despite knowing full well that Bashir as a character goes from phaser target to tolerable to awesome rather quickly in the show, this 1st ep I just wanted to piss off a very caffeinated raccoon and throw it at his face.

Otherwise...best ST premiere show easily despite a few lttle flaws. Although I didn't find the tit for tat with prophets to be overly long or filler/padding as some others...I did want to take a shot everytime one of them said "What is this?". 3.5 stars sounds about right.
NCC-1701-Z - Sat, Feb 23, 2013 - 10:30pm (USA Central)
Very good for a pilot, def. miles ahead of TNG's "Encounter at Farpoint". So far my favorite character is Kira by miles. Bashir was kind of annoying, and Avery Brooks did a good job of conveying the persona of a man who must stop obsessing with the past in order to move forward.

The encounter with the wormhole aliens could easily have turned hokey and cliched, but it somehow managed to come across as interesting and profound. An Anaheim Angels fan myself, I liked the baseball metaphor. The entire sequence seemed to me very reminiscent of TOS, channeling the 'exploration' spirit that has carried Trek to the stars for years. Overall, it reassured me that the true spirit of Trek will continue to thrive in this series in some form, even with the darker setting.

There is definitely a lot of potential for more conflict between characters here than in TOS/TNG. Going through BSG at the same time, I am definitely looking forward to that.

Overall, I agree wholeheartedly with the 3.5 rating.
Eric - Tue, Mar 5, 2013 - 10:31pm (USA Central)
I just watched this for the first time, and I don't get how the Bajorans, a species that has been space-faring for a really long time, never managed to find the wormhole in their own system, but Sisko and friends find it within day one of his being posted there!

Also, how the hell was Odo able to fit in the bag without making it too heavy to lift? Also, he disguised himself as bars of latinum... does that mean he can subdivide himself?
Eric - Thu, Mar 7, 2013 - 7:34pm (USA Central)
How come we never see the sun? The star that Bajor orbits? In the pilot, the station went from being in orbit around Bajor to being next to the wormhole in just a few minutes, using thrusters only (they didn't go to warp). There's no way they'd be able to get far away enough from the sun that quickly. We should be able to see the sun in some of the shots, but you never do in DS9.

And why was it called "deep space 9" to begin with, if it started out as an orbital station? Orbit doesn't count as "deep space". It bugged me how the station just stopped conveniently as soon as the thrusters were off, no need to thrust in the opposite direction to slow down. Someone should give a basic physics primer to sci-fi writers, they manage to get this wrong almost all the time. Only exception I can think of is Battlestar Galactica.
DavidK - Fri, Mar 8, 2013 - 7:59am (USA Central)
@Eric
I'll see if I can tackle these!
1. No idea how the Bajorans missed that wormhole. It is in the middle of the Denorios Belt, what Memory Alpha calls a charged plasma field and navigational hazard...which helps cover it, but yeah you'd think it would have been found by now. Maybe it only opens on a very specific or narrow trajectory, and hey space is big.

2. So apparently Odo is able to displace his mass into, er, subspace(!). Not sure how he does this exactly but you could say that about most technobabble. But logical or not they are at least consistent about it, people pick him up when he's a glass etc and he's never addressed as being heavy when an item.
Also re: subdividing, it appears he definitely can. He's shown as a shattered glass moving each of his fragments independently, and in Season 7 he leaves a whole test tube sample of himself on DS9 for what I think is at least weeks, if not a few months. Does this sample have awareness from so far away? Could he morph it into an eye and get vision from two places at once? Could he morph into two children and operate them independently? In fact, if he can "lose" mass and become lighter, could he gain mass and become two adults instead? Just how big is he? Okay too many questions, haha, but subdividing definitely happens.

3.Good point about the sun! I can think of at least two episodes it does appear in, but only for plot purposes, otherwise it's a bit non-existent, hmm.

4.Are you new to the show? I don't want to do minor spoilers, but this is definitely addressed. Safe answer would be that Deep Space 9 is a Starfleet designation and rechristening of the station (and a bit ethnocentric now you mention it).
Grumpy - Fri, Mar 8, 2013 - 3:58pm (USA Central)
Eric... Fair point about Bajor's sun, which would've made some interesting visuals if they had remembered to show it. (The only episode I can think of where it makes a significant appearance is "By Inferno's Light.")

However, as for moving the station from Bajor orbit to the Denorios Belt (another invisible presence throughout the series), all the technobabble about DS9's shields was supposed to explain how it could move so far, so fast with such tiny thrusters. "Low-level warp field" to make the station lighter, and so forth.
grumpy_otter - Sat, Apr 6, 2013 - 9:48pm (USA Central)
Here I am finally. I gave up on Battlestar Galactica--the religious themes and hallucination crap were too much!

Never seen any DS9 and just watched Emissary. Looks awesome so far, not perfect, but I am definitely interested. Great set of characters. Kira is my favorite.

I am disappointed that apparently we won't get the cool Bolian as a regular character. In just the few moments we saw him at Wolf 359 I liked him.

When did DS9 open in comparison to the TNG timeline? I couldn't figure out if was supposed to have started operation before or after Captain Picard said "The sky's the limit."

I'm so excited! A whole new series of Trek to watch! I held out as long as I could.
William B - Sat, Apr 6, 2013 - 9:53pm (USA Central)
"Emissary" takes place during season six of TNG. Apparently, it aired between "Chain of Command, Part 2" and "Ship in the Bottle," and its stardate places it between those two episodes as well.
grumpy_otter - Sun, Apr 7, 2013 - 10:47am (USA Central)
So that would mean that Sisko was mean to Picard right after Picard has just gotten over being tortured? That's pretty rude.

And I see now that I could have looked at the airdates on Jammer's reviews and figured it out for myself. Thank you for doing it for me, William!
Grumpy - Sun, Apr 7, 2013 - 3:16pm (USA Central)
"I gave up on Battlestar Galactica--the religious themes and hallucination crap were too much!"

I won't say I told you so.

"Never seen any DS9 and..."

...Already you must've noticed that it too begins with "religious themes and hallucination crap." Unlike BSG, it's not in every DS9 episode, but you'll find such material throughout. You might tolerate it until, say, Season 5's "Rapture," but it becomes more prominent after that. Jammer didn't mind, as you can see, but others thought it completely ruined Season 7, like Confused Matthew: confusedmatthew.com/Star-Trek%3A-Deep-Space-Nine-Season-7.php
Josh - Sun, Apr 7, 2013 - 3:30pm (USA Central)
@Grumpy:

"Rapture" was one of the best episodes of season 5. For that matter, the religious/prophetic stuff had pretty satisfying payoff, and thankfully without the fairly pedestrian literalism of the end of BSG (which I still do like even if many of the criticisms are valid). Even with less effective episodes like "The Reckoning", DS9 never used the kind of cryptic misdirection inherent to BSG, and the "Emissary" stuff was never as important to the overall success of the show, arguably because the character writing was that much better. DS9 did multi-episode arcs just as well as standalone episodes, and even then usually without Voyager's reset button.
grumpy_otter - Sun, Apr 7, 2013 - 9:18pm (USA Central)
Grumpy, I kid you not, as I turned off the show disgust I thought to myself, "Well, Grumpy warned me!" I'm disappointed though because I love Edward James Olmos.

This episode was indeed a bit annoying with the mumbo-jumbo that went on, but then after it appeared that those floatie hourglass thingies seemed to have a scientific explanation I was okay with it. Right now I am more annoyed with Sisko's bizarre acting, but I hear it gets better.

I'm a little surprised that you need to warn me again about a show that goes into religious territory--this is Star Trek! Aren't we above religion by now? :-)
DavidK - Mon, Apr 8, 2013 - 6:12am (USA Central)
@grumpy_otter

Just to back up what Grumpy said, I think the religion aspects of DS9 are easier to manage than they were in BSG. When you say "aren't we above religion by now?", we might be but the Bajorans aren't and it's their space station =P So I think that tension can be enjoyed. Also the Bajorans are only a fragment of the concept whereas the Colonials on BSG were the whole show.

Also the BSG universe isn't very helpful to explaining the religious aspects, whereas...I don't think this is too spoilery...the wormhole aliens' godlike nature is not that unusual in Star Trek, though they are probably more naive in nature than the Q for example.

Also re: Sisko's acting...you're right it does get better, or at least the writers learn what he does well and what he doesn't. You're in for a bit of a wait though!

Also I'm enjoying reading your comments, great to hear the fresh perspective from someone who has no idea what's ahead.
grumpy_otter - Tue, Apr 9, 2013 - 4:39pm (USA Central)
@DavidK--thanks! I am enjoying writing them.

The religion of the Bajorans doesn't seem too onerous and has been handled well so far. This show is much more focused on being about the "Trek" than the religion, unlike BSG. I am really loving it--glad I waited so I still have so much of it too enjoy!
Late_to_Party - Thu, Jun 27, 2013 - 12:20pm (USA Central)
A lousy beginning for Sisko -- a starfleet officer who could not comprehend that Jean-Luc was not responsible for the death of his wife? Who couldn't understand that Jean-Luc was as much a victim of the Borg as Jennifer? Took me a long time to warm up to Sisko after this misstep at the beginning.

Patrick - Fri, Jun 28, 2013 - 5:13am (USA Central)
I loved all your BSG and TNG reviews Jammer, and so I came to your DS9 page and saw all the high ranking episodes and decided to give it a shot.

I'm on the second episode now, and honestly, what the heck do you all see in this show??? Sure, the plot IDEAS are interesting enough. Focus on the politics of the station, of Bajor, and whatnot. But the execution is so Soap Operatic. And these characters are TERRIBLE! Sisko is a terrible actor compared to Picard or Adama and has none of the charisma, and the same goes for every other character on the show other than the head Bajoran girl.

The actors just aren't good, and the characters aren't interesting. Character development is about a lot more than complex backstories and intricate plots. There has to be a spark there, and this show does not have it. Even in Season 1, TNG did.
Paul - Fri, Jun 28, 2013 - 9:37am (USA Central)
@Patrick: Early DS9 is kind of flat. Give it some time.

One of the cool things about watching the series is that the station and Bajor become more important. As the series begins, it's the galactic backwater. By season 5, it's the most important strategic position in the Alpha Quadrant.

Avery Brooks isn't Patrick Stewart or Edward James Olmos. But he grows into the role. Also, Sisko in the early seasons is still sort of recovering from the death of his wife, so he's supposed to be more sedate. A big undercurrent of season 3 is him finally getting past that and moving on as challenges from the Gamma Quadrant force him to step up. Brooks still has moments that are cringeworthy throughout the series ("It's in my MIND!"). But he gets much better, and so does the character.

Kira is probably the only character, right off the bat, who works. Odo really becomes a great character, but he's off in season one. O'Brien and Bashir evolve and so does Quark. Jake Sisko is pretty meh, and Jadzia Dax is probably the most poorly acted character in the main cast and the most inconsistently written. But, then, TNG had Deanna Troi and Beverly Crusher -- played by two below-average actors -- and Will Riker becomes less interesting as the series progresses. Point is, not all characters are winners.

DS9 is my favorite Star Trek series (slightly ahead of TNG and TOS) because it's the most ambitious. TNG, certainly near the end, got really boring and had two seasons that were pretty bad to start with. TOS is sort of a different animal because the series run was so much shorter and season 3 is so awful. Voyager is just garbage and Enterprise only figured itself out in the last season and a third.

DS9 is slow going at first, but it's worth it -- and it's the most engaging and consistent series from start to finish. Oh, but don't watch the Ferengi episodes. Those almost ALWAYS suck.
Patrick - Sun, Jun 30, 2013 - 6:10am (USA Central)
@Paul

But how long until it actually gets good? BSG was good right after the miniseries, and nailed it in its second pilot. TNG had a spark in its pilot with Q, and nailed it in the Lore episode.

Do I honestly have to wait 2 full seasons before I feel a spark? Also, the great thing about TNG is that even in the poor episodes, you still feel the spark of those characters. And you can skip episodes and only watch the greatest ones and the greatest seasons.

Are DS9's best episodes anywhere near as good as TNG's best? Because given TNG's episodic nature, it didn't have to be "consistent", at least not now that we can watch any episode whenever we want. Is DS9 merely mildly consistent with "pretty good" episodes? Or does it ever touch greatness?
Paul - Sun, Jun 30, 2013 - 9:34am (USA Central)
@Patrick:

The end to season 1 is particularly strong. There's some 'meh' stuff early in the second season ("Rivals" is an episode worth ignoring). But you don't need to wait two seasons to see things improve.

And DS9's best episodes, in my eyes, can hang with any of TNG's best. "The Visitor" in season 4 is one of Trek's best hours, for instance.
azcats - Wed, Sep 4, 2013 - 1:41pm (USA Central)
I just got done watching the voyager series. I think the voyager pilot was way better. I am going through DS9 now. (i have seen it before.) it is fun to see the characters after 20 years.

if you could take out the prophets this would be a good pilot. but good golly...you guys say it was a "bit long.." it was unbearably long. this should have been a 1 hour episode.

odos speech was horribly placed.

the doctor had nothing to offer in this episode.

i think O'brien probably shined the best, along with quark. oh and dukat.

2 stars...would be more without the prophets.

Snitch - Fri, Oct 4, 2013 - 6:12pm (USA Central)
What surprised me most is that they start of the series by having the new captain being irrationally critical on the beloved Captain Picard. Not a good ploy to bring in goodwill for the new series.

They had a lot of ground to cover in their opening. So it feels sometimes disconnected

I would give it 2 Stars
Kotas - Tue, Oct 22, 2013 - 1:29pm (USA Central)

A solid introduction to the series. Sets up the premise pretty well and higher quality than most pilots.

7/10
Jack - Sun, Jan 19, 2014 - 10:37am (USA Central)
"So that would mean that Sisko was mean to Picard right after Picard has just gotten over being tortured? That's pretty rude."

Wow...didn't even think of that. I love when new (to the show) people come along and point out something I never though of :)
Jack - Sun, Jan 19, 2014 - 10:39am (USA Central)
Opaka is kai here, but doesn't wear that elaborate yellow robe....she dresses like all the other Vedeks.

I'm guessing they hadn't created that yellow gawdy frock yet and that's the reason, but it also makes sense from what we know of her that Opaka wouldn't wear it anyways.
Jack - Sun, Jan 19, 2014 - 10:49am (USA Central)
Picard's comment that he "called down here yesterday" without relizing O'Brien wasn't in the transporter room struck me odd. When people aren't transporting, does a transporter operator still hand around in the room all day. And if so, doing what?

K'Elvis - Mon, Jan 20, 2014 - 10:16am (USA Central)
It might not be rational to resent Picard for the actions of Locutus, but it is very human. A person might understand on one level that Picard could not be held accountable, but there are a lot of emotions to overcome. A Vulcan might be capable of it, but it is harder for a human. Sisko gets over it when he is able to see things emotionally from Picard's perspective.

My understanding that the deep space designation did not mean they were far away from a star, the deep space stations were minor starbases on the edges of Federation space. Until the wormhole was discovered, DS9 was a pretty minor assignment. With the wormhole, it became a major outpost, but the name stuck.
Grumpy - Wed, Jan 22, 2014 - 3:30pm (USA Central)
Wow, Jack. Now that you mention it, that's really sad. I never thought of it that way... but this cartoonist did! Chief O'Brien at Work citycyclops.com/7.31.13.php
Moonie - Sun, Feb 16, 2014 - 6:55am (USA Central)
The first time I watched Emissary yesterday, I thought it was too log and a bit boring. I liked the characters - Odo, Sisko and Kira in particular. And Quark's bar sure seems much lively than Ten-Forward ever was. Today, I rewatched the key scenes - I mean the plot key scenes, not the character key scenes - discovery of the wormhole, Sisko's dialogue with the Aliens, mostly - and while yesterday, it was still behind Broken Bow in my ratings of Trek pilot episodes, it's now ranked first for me. I think the 3,5 stars sound about right. Farpoint was not a good pilot - yes it had a "spark", and it was the beginning of my favorite series, but as an episode, it really wasn't that strong IMO. And "Where no man has gone before" almost turned me off TOS completely. (I haven't seen Caretaker yet.) It made me look forward to watching the series and that is what a pilot is supposed to do.
Vylora - Mon, Feb 17, 2014 - 5:21pm (USA Central)
I notice people point out the religious themes of DS9 and BSG and are turned off because of them. I say the idea of religious themes can be great storytelling devices when handled well, just like any other ideas. Point being that there is religion in real life so just like anything else in real life what harm is there in being creative with it in a fictional universe? Call it "fiction-within-fiction" if you will.

In the Star Trek universe I get the concept that humanity itself may have finally put aside blind devotion to myth and superstition in exchange for working together for the betterment of humanity. But it does not mean that other space-faring species would have to as well. I also find it interesting that the Bajoran "gods" are maybe a bit more tangible in a sense than what one might think of in religion. With the idea of them actually being aliens and despite some Bajorans knowing this they still have their faith. This creates some interesting plot threads and character development where you see how the faith has kept some strong through undoubtedly horrendous times while others go towards the more fundamentalist route of abusing belief to interfere with schooling and politics etc.

Religion is even more presented in BSG universe as being a major part in a lot of the characters lives. The variations of the same basic polytheistic stance of the humans and the monotheistic stance of the cylons only add to enhance the dimensions of the overall plot and characters. I agree it was almost a bit much at times but I can look past it for some of the great interactions that would have likely not existed without it.

When it comes down to it, I believe that a good storyteller doesn't shy away from utilizing anything available to make a good story. And if that means religion may play a role in said story then so be it. I never once in my viewings of DS9 or BSG felt anything shoved down my throat. If anything I saw that religion at times does more harm than good. Which is also true in real life.

Of course the best stories involve characters and plots that grow logically and naturally. And, for me, if a story can do that and hold my interest then I'm a happy camper.

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