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