Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
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
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157 comments on this post
Mon, Apr 18, 2011, 2:46am (UTC -5)
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 : **
Fri, Jan 27, 2012, 1:45pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Apr 4, 2012, 9:51pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jul 24, 2012, 10:57pm (UTC -5)
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.
Sun, Aug 5, 2012, 5:39pm (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, Sep 11, 2012, 4:25pm (UTC -5)
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.)
Sat, Dec 1, 2012, 5:31pm (UTC -5)
I'll break each episode into the Great, the Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. Here goes:
* The opening battle, obviously.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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."
Wed, Jan 9, 2013, 10:39am (UTC -5)
Mon, Jan 14, 2013, 3:40am (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Feb 23, 2013, 10:30pm (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, Mar 5, 2013, 10:31pm (UTC -5)
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?
Thu, Mar 7, 2013, 7:34pm (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Mar 8, 2013, 7:59am (UTC -5)
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).
Fri, Mar 8, 2013, 3:58pm (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Apr 6, 2013, 9:48pm (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Apr 6, 2013, 9:53pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Apr 7, 2013, 10:47am (UTC -5)
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!
Sun, Apr 7, 2013, 3:16pm (UTC -5)
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
Sun, Apr 7, 2013, 3:30pm (UTC -5)
"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.
Sun, Apr 7, 2013, 9:18pm (UTC -5)
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? :-)
Mon, Apr 8, 2013, 6:12am (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, Apr 9, 2013, 4:39pm (UTC -5)
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!
Thu, Jun 27, 2013, 12:20pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Jun 28, 2013, 5:13am (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Jun 28, 2013, 9:37am (UTC -5)
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.
Sun, Jun 30, 2013, 6:10am (UTC -5)
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?
Sun, Jun 30, 2013, 9:34am (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Sep 4, 2013, 1:41pm (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Oct 4, 2013, 6:12pm (UTC -5)
They had a lot of ground to cover in their opening. So it feels sometimes disconnected
I would give it 2 Stars
Tue, Oct 22, 2013, 1:29pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jan 19, 2014, 10:37am (UTC -5)
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 :)
Sun, Jan 19, 2014, 10:39am (UTC -5)
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.
Sun, Jan 19, 2014, 10:49am (UTC -5)
Mon, Jan 20, 2014, 10:16am (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Jan 22, 2014, 3:30pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Feb 16, 2014, 6:55am (UTC -5)
Mon, Feb 17, 2014, 5:21pm (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, Jun 24, 2014, 2:00pm (UTC -5)
I do have an issue with Sisko still holding Picard responsible for Wolf 359. It's not like it happened the day before he was assigned to DS9. Pretty childish stance for someone that is going to be the Commanding Officer of a space station.
Loved the whole wormhole/aliens with Sisko trying to explain linear existence. Thought that was well done.
Love the look of our new space station.
Some seriously questionable acting by a couple of our regulars, but we'll see how that pans out over time.
Major technobabble rescue moving the station... I thought only TNG and Voyager use that as the answer.
So sad that Felecia M. Bell couldn’t have been Kassidy Yates.
I'll give Emissary 3.5 stars. Great start to a new series.
Fri, Jul 11, 2014, 3:16pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Jul 12, 2014, 5:13pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jul 14, 2014, 10:39am (UTC -5)
Exactly. Also, it was two years after Wolf 359.
It seems to me that level heads should have prevailed.
Picard had every right to light Sisko up for that comment.
Mon, Jul 14, 2014, 1:19pm (UTC -5)
Picard does not need to check the bios of every person affected by the loss of 11k people to see if he needs to walk on eggshells. That said, Sisko is clearly not the only person who harbors resentment and I thought that was an interesting avenue to explore for both of their characters.
Sisko was wrong, but dramatically it was an interesting choice. And Picard feels JUST guilty enough to not light him up for it.
Mon, Jul 14, 2014, 3:24pm (UTC -5)
I would be willing to buy this sabotage of characterisation if there had been a dramatic payoff--does Sisko ever admit he was wrong? Apologise to Picard? Find some common ground? Nope. In fact the only time in the series' run I can recall him admitting his making a mistake is in the S6 finale--and that was an instance when he DIDN'T make a mistake! I appreciate that the writers were trying to take a risk by having their brand new protagonist act like a dick to our heroic captain, but this just didn't work.
Mon, Jul 14, 2014, 7:43pm (UTC -5)
I fully agree. This conversation could have ended like this:
"SISKO: Captain, regarding our conversation about someone to replace me.
PICARD: Yes, I'm sorry I haven't had time yet to communicate that to Command.
SISKO: I would prefer you ignore it, sir.
PICARD: I'm not sure that I can. Are you certain that's what you want, because we cannot afford to have an officer who's
SISKO: I'm certain, sir.
(They shake hands.)
PICARD: Good luck, Mister Sisko."
SISKO: Thank you sir.... and Captain, I was out of line with my comments concerning Wolf 359.
PICARD: Commander, I understand... it's a burden I bare every day. (Picard would say something better than that I'm sure, but you get the drift)
Mon, Jul 14, 2014, 10:42pm (UTC -5)
But mostly it would appease the TNG fans who were offended when the new blood snubbed O Captain My Captain.
Tue, Jul 15, 2014, 3:50pm (UTC -5)
Picard accepts this and as a great man pushes it no further.
A wishy washy apology would have lessened it for both of them.
Tue, Jul 15, 2014, 5:17pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jul 15, 2014, 6:44pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jul 15, 2014, 7:21pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jul 16, 2014, 2:16am (UTC -5)
I totally think that Sisko was a dick in the way he first handled Picard and I remember thinking so the very first time I saw this episode. Picard was a legend at that point. He could have punched a baby and done no wrong.
I think that was the point though. Make Sisko a more unlikable character at the start, make him someone you grow to like. Odo says it best 'You know at first I didn't think I was going to like him.'
Well I think most of us felt the same.
Wed, Jul 16, 2014, 6:44am (UTC -5)
I think identifying the handshake as an apology is wishful interpretation; which is fine. I’ve done it with Enterprise too. I just re-watched this when I wrote my review and it didn't seem like one to me.
I understand how Sisko "got there". His whole experience with the worm-hole aliens and all and as I said in that was all very well done, but by him not verbally expressing some sort of "I acted like a 5-year old" was a missed opportunity. The opportunity was there to show that Sisko was man enough to admit a mistake and show some respect to a full bird Captain that was the Commanding Officer of the Federation Flagship. Hell, he was disrespectful making him wait too.
I guess Sisko was fortunate that Picard hadn’t had the time, you know as busy as he was, to notify Star Fleet they needed to find a replacement. Picard just doesn’t do things like that without a purpose. He obviously knew that Sisko needed some time and gave it to him.
This was an "unfinished conversation" that should have been wrapped up.
Wed, Jul 16, 2014, 8:21am (UTC -5)
Ergo I am a fan of the handshake replacing the conversation, the banana pancakes that she wasn't able to enjoy before because she was repressing her emotions (@Zebra it was Extreme Risk), or O'Brien not killing himself in Hard Time signaling he'll "be ok". We don't need to see Torres taking 3 steps forward and having a bad day (which is how healing works for most people) or get multiple references to O'Brien getting counseling off-screen (hopefully he does).
My issue with Extreme Risk was that it was odd that it happened so long after she got that news. The episode itself was really interesting and done well I thought. The B'Elanna Torres from Vis A Vis just does things that I don't buy somebody in the state of numb shock she claims to be since Hunters. As a stand alone episode Extreme Risk was good. As a followup to Hunters it was really interesting (and yay continuity). It just falls a little late.
In psychology the "turning point", when the patient decides that they WANT to get better, that they have something worth living for is probably what makes the most dramatic moment on TV. So that's what writers go for. We don't need to see months of healing and hurting we need to see the character decide they CAN heal. That's a powerful moment.
Wed, Jul 16, 2014, 8:39am (UTC -5)
"Actually I'm a big fan of not having to have extended resolution on screen. I think that a lot of times it would be disingenuous to have a long resolution on screen because people just don't "get there" in an hour.
Ergo I am a fan of the handshake replacing the conversation"
I'm not asking Sisko to be "healed", I'm asking for one or two lines to wrap up a loose end. (what? ... 15 second screen time?) Sisko didn't just disagree with Picard over something, he disrespected him. They shouldn't have let that go. Especially since Picard was good enough not to contact Star Fleet right away.
Wed, Jul 16, 2014, 3:03pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jul 21, 2014, 12:49pm (UTC -5)
In response to your point, I can accept that explanation if, as you pointed out, a consistency were afforded to not only Voyager, but any series which isn't DS9.
Thu, Nov 20, 2014, 3:00pm (UTC -5)
I've liked DS9 but there were some major flaws that give me a love/hate relationship with it. And all of the them are very present in this pilot: the ridiculous religious themes which go against everything that is Star Trek, the Ferengi, but most of all, Sisko. I hate Sisko. And I guess that's why DS9 is my second least favourite Star Trek series (after TOS): Each series is so defined by its captain that if you don't like the captain you can't love the series. Sisko is a hot head, way too emotional, always looking angry. The scene with Picard speaks volume. Not only is he resentful (the reasons for which you may or may not agree with him about) but he is incapable of controlling himself. He looks like a caricature of a human in a bad Vulcan parody act. Impatient, emotional, aggressive... I don't like Sisko. Anyway - I've just embarked on 7 seasons of DS9 so I guess I'll just have to bear with him again.
Thu, Nov 20, 2014, 11:09pm (UTC -5)
These are just my opinions. I'll do bullet points, good, mixed, and bad, although I'm sure some will get lengthy. I won't hold the special effects against the show, as I understand that it's from the early nineties :)
Without further ado,
- Strong introduction to most characters; the ensemble seems diverse and interesting enough to handle many different stories. Standouts include Kira, Odo, and Dax.
- The political situation vis-à-vis Bajor and the Cardassians is immediately compelling, especially as embodied by Dukat. More broadly, the premise of the show has lots of things going for it: Religion, wormhole gods, post-occupation governance, etc. As a Trek virgin, if the religious aspects of this show go against things established in other Treks, it probably won’t really bother me as long as it’s interesting, since I have no frame of reference.
- Much of what occurs between Sisko and the Prophets is interesting; particularly their childlike innocence as to the nature of linear human progression.
- “Domestic inquiry” – some cuteness between Sisko and his wife.
- Kira commanding DS9 against the Cardassians.
- O’Brien and the computer. They’ll have to have a talk.
- Sisko and Dax; nonromantic friendships between male and female (kinda?) characters are cool.
- Kira and Bashir, where the good doctor basically calls the Bajorans provincial – one of the great things about ensemble shows is to see how different characters work when paired together.
- Ben Sisko. There are many times in the episode where Avery Brooks’s acting is less than ideal; he often seems overly mannered in a way that Patrick Stewart – who himself plays an intentionally mannered character very naturally – does not. The prologue was much less affecting than it could have been because of this. A few bizarre moments, especially his little yelp on the beach with Jennifer. Yet there are moments where he transcends, particularly during his talk with the Prophets. I enjoy that he is neither overly brooding nor particularly bitter; rather, he is a good man thrust into a situation he would rather not be in (commanding DS9), and then another (being the titular Emissary).
I was surprised that his arc of overcoming Jennifer’s death was seemingly resolved so quickly, but his final scenes in the wormhole were effective, where he comes to grips with his halted existence, were effective. Also good: His scenes with Picard and Quark, the latter of which shows the character’s pragmatism. Both scenes with Picard worked for me: Sisko’s imprudent anger, Picard’s disgust, and their accord at the end.
I do wish the episode had featured more of his response to being told by the Opaka that he is essentially destined to become the savior of the Bajorans – a people he is not at all acquainted with – via finding the orbs and their holy realm.
- Which leads me to my next point. Bajoran theology is interesting if not jaw-dropping, and I suspect there is more to these eight Orbs than is explained in this episode, but all the information that has been conveyed so far seems a bit rushed, especially because the discovery of the wormhole beings would presumably be an incredible theological milestone for the Bajorans. Also underdeveloped: the Cardassians’ reasons for wanting to make contact with the Bajoran Prophets. Hopefully these things are explored more fully in future installments; follow up is good!
- A lot of pretty boring technobabble, but I knew this was coming.
- That scene where Sisko and Dax experience different realities on the wormhole-god-planet is pretty painful; Avery Brooks is further brought down by bad dialogue and the attempt at humor is lame.
- The Cardassian commander (not Dukat, the other one) is extremely overacted.
- Jennifer is okay when she is a manifestation of the Prophets, but the actress is as stilted as Avery Brooks during his vision of the beach.
- Probably the Sisko-wormhole alien segment drags on longer than was necessary.
In short, some excellent world-building and character introductions, and the initiation of themes that I hope the show continues to explore (I especially like Sisko’s assertion that the crux of human existence is the unknown). Brought down a bit by under-explained aspects of the show’s universe and some mediocre acting on the part of guest stars and, unfortunately, the lead.
Fri, Nov 21, 2014, 9:28am (UTC -5)
Fri, Nov 21, 2014, 12:30pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Jan 3, 2015, 9:11am (UTC -5)
Tue, Apr 14, 2015, 3:52am (UTC -5)
As I've mentioned before, I hated Kira until S3, I liked Bashir until he and Miles were caught by the Jem'hedar. Julian was arrogant and immature, but I liked him anyway.
Odo was always a favorite of mine but, not always likeable. I noticed how he told Sisko that he didn't allow weapons on his promenade, within the next 2 shows he let Kira and Odo know who was boss.
This was an excellent Pilot, it managed to bring all of the major characters to the front.
Tue, Jun 23, 2015, 8:19am (UTC -5)
As mostly everyone has pointed out, the opening sequence at Wolf 359 was excellent and a very interesting way to start the series. And right away, this series' focus is established as being about the long-term effects of the Big Events that shake the Federation and other major powers, as depicted in TNG. The Borg meant something very particular to Picard and Riker, and to the world of the Federation as we in the audience perceived it; and it also meant something very particular to Sisko and his wife. Sisko's "origin story"/formative trauma of Jennifer's death makes him an audience identification point to understanding at least *some* of what it is that Bajor has lost, as a result of Bajor's devastating encounter with a much larger power (the Cardassians).
One of the questions the show gestures to -- though it does so imperfectly, to say the least -- is also the question of what it is that makes the Federation different from other major powers, like the Borg and the Cardassians; Abigail Nussbaum (at askingthewrongquestions.blogspot.com) suggested that the opening sequence of the series, featuring Locutus as avatar for the Borg collective, sets up the show's alternate (possible) take on the Federation -- as a force which imposes a kind of homogenized order on the galaxy, which Eddington later explicitly compares to the Borg and which Quark and Garak (in "The Way of the Warrior") talk about with regards to the spreading of root beer throughout the Alpha Quadrant. The Federation is *not* the Borg, and it is not the Cardassians, but the real question is why *this* big, major power is different from the other ones. Initially at least, Kira is unconvinced that the Federation are much of a step up from the Cardassians. And Sisko himself, it seems, cannot get straight in his head that Picard and Locutus are *not* the same person; he has some residual resentment toward Picard as authority figure who represents both Starfleet and the Borg in his head. This shows up in the Wormhole Aliens sequence, too, where the Wormhole Aliens talk through Picard to Sisko about their attempts to communicate with other life forms, and through Locutus about corporeal beings' -- and Sisko's, in particular -- malevolence, and need to be destroyed. Picard admires and cares for the Bajoran people and wants their entry into the Federation, to benefit the Federation and to benefit Bajor; Locutus wants everyone to join with him by force. And Sisko, at least initially, cannot distinguish between Picard and Locutus, or between the Federation and the Borg.
The episode's *setup* is that the Federation takes over Terok Nor, etc., but the major event of the first episode is the discovery of the wormhole. It is a major transformative point for other characters (and species) as well -- the wormhole is what changes the Cardassians from wanting to dump Bajor, having been used up, to wanting to reclaim it; it is what Odo (in a hamfisted bit of exposition) credits with the possible set of answers to his problems; it is what makes Deep Space Nine and Bajor major centres of commerce and locations of strategic importance; and it's what leads Kira to recognize, with a start, that maybe alienating all possible friends and allies is not such a good idea.
The biggest change, though, is in Sisko: Sisko's transformation in this episode is from reluctant outsider who wants nothing to do with the Bajor job, and indeed doesn't even want anything to do with Starfleet, to something of a true believer in the Federation mission on Bajor, with desire to help Bajor. His transformation occurs as a result of his "time" with the Aliens in the wormhole (I'm not going to say Prophets). Given that the first season drops the Wormhole Aliens as a plot point for the first couple of episodes, and indeed their identification with The Prophets is something that only happens eventually (Tahna's attempt to blow up the wormhole in "Past Prologue" doesn't lead Kira to mention the importance of the Celestial Temple, e.g.); for now, the wormhole aliens serve as a conduit to Sisko to
a) get back in touch with why Federation desire for exploration is different from the Borg desire for conquest; and
b) (importantly) realize that the Wormhole Aliens' nonlinear time is analogous to his own refusal to move on from the moment of Jennifer's death.
Sisko's "pitch" (ha) to the Wormhole Aliens about the importance of exploration, of communicating with other cultures, of the difference between aggressive communication, etc., is somewhat analogous to Picard's defense of humanity before Q in "Encounter at Farpoint," in terms of its statement of Trek philosophy and it's implied positioning of these ultra-powerful life forms as potential judges. Unlike Picard, though, Sisko only believes what he is saying once he is explaining it to the wormhole aliens. They call him on the fact that he doesn't entirely believe what he is saying, and the key reason is Jennifer. "We explore our lives! We seek out the unknown! We court danger! We love opening ourselves up to risks!" is something that's easy to say when you haven't had your wife die in front of you; and Sisko has indeed, apparently, partly given up on that central Trekkian philosophy because of her death. Being forced to see it allows him the chance to get unstuck in time.
Where the episode falls down is that the Wormhole Aliens sequence, which is basically the climactic, Most Important sequence in the episode, is chopped up, frequently badly acted (Stewart is great, though), relies again on Piller's weird baseball fixation, goes through endless iterations of the same format (Sisko: It is X! Wormhole Aliens: What is X? Sisko: X is Y! WA: What is Y?) -- and on top of all that, the moment where the Wormhole Aliens (apparently?) grant permanent passage through the wormhole is placed off screen. That no one is sent to study the Wormhole Aliens after this -- and even Science Officer Dax ignores them -- is very annoying, and that there is no payoff with Opaka here (and we have to wait for "Battle Lines") is particularly strange, given that the whole You Are The Emissary schtick was presented as a big deal in-episode, and will be a big deal in the whole series. The episode has a lot of interesting ideas that fizzle and fall apart at the end, making for an unsatisfying pilot experience.
The exposition is often very clunky -- Odo's Denarius Belt speech foremost of all. Dax is a total blank at this point. Sisko's blackmailing Quark is kind of weirdly unpleasant, and while I know that we don't have to approve of all his actions, his shrugging off Quark's concern that he and his family will be *summarily executed by revolutionary Bajoran nationalists* is pretty extreme. I do think that Kira's raw-nerve anger makes sense, though, and Bashir's naivete comes across pretty well. O'Brien is a great presence -- though, yes, his goodbye with Picard is somewhat painful ("This is your favourite transporter room, isn't it!" oh dear Lord); I'm glad that Picard and Miles have a small moment in "All Good Things" showing Picard's recollection of O'Brien building model ships, so that this is not actually the last moment between the two, even if they were never meant to be best friends. Dukat's scenes are awesome; what a great character.
Overall, I'd say 2.5 stars.
Tue, Sep 8, 2015, 8:19am (UTC -5)
Despite this unanswered question, I love this episode and this series in general. It's a great juxtaposition from the rest of Gene Roddenberry's near-Utopia as presented in the predecessor series.
Sun, Oct 18, 2015, 2:21pm (UTC -5)
The first half crackles along at a fair old pace. Kicking off with the battle of Wolf 359 (which shows a real step up in FX work), we set up a series of interesting relationships while introducing the characters. Kira, Odo, Dax and Quark all get off to a good start. O'Brien easily steps up to bigger billing. Jake's and Sisko's interaction shines. Even the Cardassians get off to a good start, through the magnificent Gul Dukat. Perhaps the only misfire early on is Bashir - there's little to like in his character thus far.
Another bum note is in the first meeting between Sisko and Picard. While integral to the story it feels gratuitous - almost a deliberate break with TNG.
Where it does slow up considerably is in the second half, particularly as Sisko undergoes a Troi-lite psychotherapy session from the wormhole aliens. Unfortunately Brooks' performance at this point isn't really strong enough to convey the full gamut of emotions required, and the lengthy exploration of linear time drags the episode to a crawl.
Not perfect then, but a good enough introduction. 3 stars.
Tue, Jan 26, 2016, 2:31pm (UTC -5)
So, "Emissary" - a solid opening episode. It's leaps and bounds above "The Man Trap" and "Encounter at Farpoint", but those set pretty low bars. It does it's job well enough setting up the characters (mostly, Dax and Bashir are noticeable blind spots), the setting, and the political and religious/mystical elements of the story. It's good to finally see some of the Battle of Worf 359 and having Sisko's story of acceptance of loss tie into it was brilliantly done. And we FINALLY get a Ferengi character that's actually being treated with dignity by the writers!
Still there are flaws. First, they may have bitten off more than they could chew in this opening outing. There is a lot that happens in this two hour premier - the characters all have to be introduced, three recurring characters are introduced, all the character dynamics have to be initialized, there has to be time for the Picard scenes in order to get the send off from TNG, Sisko needs to set off on his spiritual journey, the wormhole is discovered, the station is moved, the Prophets are contacted, the Prophets are taught about linear existence, the Prophets agree to allow transit to the Gamma Quadrant, and there's the action scenes involving the Cardassians. As a result there's a lot in the second half that feels rushed - the Wormhole is discovered and instantly everyone is rushing to claim it, the Prophets suddenly (for no apparent reason) grant transit rights, etc. Maybe the discovery of the Wormhole should have been delayed until the second episode. Second, Sisko's black-mail of Quark is rather disquieting. While I appreciate the more dark or rough-around-the-edges elements it gives the character, it is rather scary that Sisko just brushes off Quark's totally legitimate fears of being executed.
So, a firm foundation on which to build.
Another quick FYI - I'll be keeping track of certain things in this re-watch (because I'm part vampire and so like to count things). I'll count two things - weird hairstyles (DS9 seemed to have a lot of those) and a pet peeve of mine with Trek, when people take props into the holodecks.
HOLODECK TOYS - 1
WTF HAIR - 1
Sat, Feb 6, 2016, 3:58pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Feb 6, 2016, 4:18pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 17, 2016, 8:20pm (UTC -5)
Hmm... so much has already been written about it, I don't know that I'd have much new ground to cover. I did like seeing some of the Wolf 359 battle, and played it many times over the years.
My thoughts on the cast is/was the same as it was for TNG: They were acted mostly as they were written. Back in the day, my friends and I never thought about weak actors or actresses. We just didn't. I don't believe it ever came up once when we originally watched ST in the 80's and 90's. We had some favorites, but that was about it. We just accepted them, warts and all. That being said...
Sisko being somewhat belligerent toward Picard at the beginning didn't endear him to us. An officer was THAT bitter THAT long and was STILL in Starfleet? Then waited until he was given command of a Station to let it be known? But as the episode went along, it seemed he might be deeply thoughtful, and would seemingly not allow his personal feelings to get in the way of trying to start his tenure off on the right foot. And I was surprised at how he dealt with Quark, but in a good way. In hindsight, I never thought about it being blackmail, just that he knew he had to play things a bit loose and fast, and I liked that. It was enjoyable to see things done very differently to get the results he wanted, and we weren't used to that after the years of TNG.
You know what JC? I've had similar thoughts myself from time to time. Perhaps not highjacking, but I wondered if the review within the review was stepping on Jammer's toes a bit. I'm glad to read that it isn't. Thank you for the clarification, Jammer.
Have a Great Day Everyone... RT
Fri, Aug 12, 2016, 8:07pm (UTC -5)
I had no problem with the characters, I had a problem with the surreal scenes with the god like characters and all their mumbo jumbo. Therefore just as I did with Farpoint, I slept through most of the show.
I eventually came to like Q through his subsequent appearances in later episodes. I never warmed up to the prophets.
Sat, Nov 26, 2016, 7:05pm (UTC -5)
Episodes can run a little long, but being mostly talking they can easily be played in the background. They're only on 'The Passenger' and "War Prayer" from Seasons 1, but viewership isn't as high as they like, given all the other series they've got going on.
The channel is called Geekvolution, it's pretty low-key, but with plenty of enthusiasm.
Wed, Dec 21, 2016, 4:25am (UTC -5)
Wed, Dec 21, 2016, 4:43am (UTC -5)
Umm, except Sisko is hardly some random recruit. Picard states to Sisko that he has come to know the Bajorans and is personally motivated to aid their entry into the Federation. Clearly he considers this to be an important assignment. It stands to reason that he might even have had a hand in selecting the Commander for this mission. But even if Sisko was chosen by others, it would be out of character for a man like Picard not to know everything there is to know about this new Commander prior to meeting with him for his briefing. I mean sheesh - there were only, what 38 vessels at Wolf 359? I'd presume their names would be tattooed on Picard's brain by this point. Even a casual glance at Sisko's resume should have sent alarm bells off to Picard (holy shit, I destroyed this man's ship and murdered his friends and families!). For Picard to miss that is immensely uncharacteristic of him and makes little sense in context.
That said, Patrick Stewart's handling of the scene is sublime. He does not react with argument or anger or even say anything in response - this is not something a professional of Picard's class would do. But you hear it in his voice, the sudden change - you can feel the same emotions from that scene in Brothers. What a great actor Stewart is!
Wed, Dec 21, 2016, 8:25am (UTC -5)
I think they had to gather all possible starships as soon as possible to try and save Earth. Maybe they didn't have enough time to unload the families and etc. Plus if a child's mother and father were necessary officers on any given ship they probably wouldn't want to just leave their kid just anywhere.
Wed, Dec 21, 2016, 11:04am (UTC -5)
"But even if Sisko was chosen by others, it would be out of character for a man like Picard not to know everything there is to know about this new Commander prior to meeting with him for his briefing. I mean sheesh - there were only, what 38 vessels at Wolf 359? I'd presume their names would be tattooed on Picard's brain by this point."
I think the question here isn't whether Picard knew that Sisko was involved in the battle with the Borg. The issue seems to be that Picard wasn't thinking of it in terms of "I killed those people" but rather "The Borg killed those people, *and* violated me as well." No doubt various counselors had also drilled into Picard's head by this time that he was not responsible, the acts were not his, and that he was a victim just like the people who died. For Sisko to throw this in his face might not be something he'd expected, and in fairness to Picard it's a pretty brutal thing to say regardless of whether they mutually shared that information or not. Picard may well have known Sisko was there, but he may have come in thinking more along the lines of "we are both victims of the Borg, we have something in common" and Sisko comes in with "you killed my family." Picard may well have not seen that coming at all.
Wed, Dec 21, 2016, 1:00pm (UTC -5)
But to be entirely fair to Picard, he did not actually "meet" Sisko of course; Sisko would have seen the Locutus broadcast but Locutus would have had no contact with Sisko. Who knows, maybe this was Picard's first personal interaction with a Wolf 359 survivor. Or maybe it was the first time one had the balls to throw it in his face like that. As Captain of the Federation flagship and a living legend, there can't have been too many willing to confront him like that.
I guess I just convinced myself out of my original point.
Sun, Mar 12, 2017, 3:35pm (UTC -5)
I direct this analogy at the folk who were affronted by Sisko's reaction to Picard, which to my mind was rather restrained. Surely you can see, if you detach yourself from your admiration for the character of the Captain of the Enterprise, that Sisko's reaction was natural and understandable, even if you disagree with it?
Sun, Mar 12, 2017, 5:22pm (UTC -5)
I see your point, but that analogy doesn't fit. Even a seizure comes from within a person, but Picard was being controlled from without. Thus, there is physically someone else Sisko can blame, and that's the Borg. Picard's just as big a victim of the Borg as Jennifer was, the only difference is Picard was miraculously saved.
That said, Sisko seemed to warm up to Picard when found his calling was this new post. I thought that shift in the relationship between the two men was worth the early tension, even if the former was melodramatic.
Sun, Mar 12, 2017, 5:52pm (UTC -5)
However, you are thinking in a detached and rational fashion. A man meeting the face of the entity that killed his wife for the first time (and your point that it wasn't actually Picard is taken) will most likely not be thinking coolly and logically and, I would say, deserves a bit of slack.
Sun, Mar 12, 2017, 5:59pm (UTC -5)
Leaving aside the question of whether Sisko's reaction to Picard at their first meeting makes him a douchebag or not, that scene seems to be necessary from the perspective of selling one of the major themes of the episode; namely that Sisko hasn't moved on from the death of his wife. Since we know almost nothing about Sisko as this is the pilot, the revealing of his inability to move on from Jennifer's death during his later interaction with the Prophets has very little to back it up. The scene with Picard strongly hints at it.
Sun, Mar 12, 2017, 10:18pm (UTC -5)
Actually, even from an in-universe perspective, Sisko is a rational guy. That's part of why his first meeting with Picard comes off oddly; it doesn't feel like the rational Sisko we know. It feels like Sisko read every part of the Borg after-report *except* the part where Picard was forced against his will to do things he would never do.
Like I said above, even if Brooks' acting was a little off, I do think the scene of him being angry at a Starfleet captain for his post was necessary drama and closure in this episode. I wouldn't remove the scene or change the dialog, I just think it needed a few more takes to relay the mood better. I mean it's not like Sisko hating Picard was a theme throughout DS9.
Mon, Mar 13, 2017, 10:51am (UTC -5)
PICARD: You don't know, Robert. You don't know. They took everything I was. They used me to kill and to destroy, and I couldn't stop them. I should have been able to stop them! I tried. I tried so hard, but I wasn't strong enough. I wasn't good enough. I should have been able to stop them. I should! I should!
It's been established in "The Drumhead" (and actually Star Trek : First Contact) that some in Starfleet still don't totally trust where Picard ends and Locutus begins.
SATIE: Tell me, Captain, have you completely recovered from your experience with the Borg?
PICARD: Yes, I have completely recovered.
SATIE: It must have been awful for you, actually becoming one of them, being forced to use your vast knowledge of Starfleet operations to aid the Borg. Just how many of our ships were lost? Thirty nine? And a loss of life, I believe, measured at nearly eleven thousand. One wonders how you can sleep at night, having caused so much destruction. I question your actions, Captain. I question your choices. I question your loyalty.
And Sisko doesn't even tear into him or anything. But it's somewhat understandable. Locutus killed so many. Some people left behind must be pissed that this ex-Borg is the Captain of the flagship.
Mon, Mar 13, 2017, 11:48am (UTC -5)
It's interesting to think about, though Starfleet's treatment of Picard was inconsistent. Picard still had enough clout to decide how to handle Hugh in "I,Borg", and then there's "Descent" where, even though Picard got chewed out for letting Hugh go, he was put in charge of tracking down the Borg incursions and eliminating them. Also, Satie's voice certainly doesn't represent any majority of Starfleet Command, since she has admirals walking out during her mad ramblings.
I think it's Sisko's behavior was understandable, but I echo the sentiments others that say the episode would have done better with a bigger apologetic gesture of Sisko. I don't think Sisko was mad just at Picard, but mad at Starfleet in general to first be posted on a mission that cost his wife's life, then be delegated to some relatively minor outpost in the middle of nowhere.
Tue, Apr 18, 2017, 2:24am (UTC -5)
Mon, Jun 19, 2017, 5:44am (UTC -5)
I love the style and feel of this show, it is different to TNG and TOS. I love that the characters don't trust each other, it gives the writers more tension to work with instead of the "we're a big happy family" premise of TNG.
It's a shame this show never got a remaster, compared to the HD TNG and TOS episodes I recently finished, this is a huge step down in quality.
Story wise, thing that still bugs me is the cliche: "I'm the only one of my species".
We had Spock being "the only vulcan in starfleet", we had Data being "the only android in the universe" and now we have Odo being "the only shapeshifter in the universe". It's boring and contrived. I never liked it with Data and I don't like it with Odo.
Oh and the intro is too damn long and entirely boring. It needs to be about 50% shorter or at least contain some different visuals. I'm 3 episodes in and bored of it!
As for Emissary itself. Definitely better than Encounter At Farpoint. Probably on equal footing with The Cage.
There were some very weird cuts. Keira explains that the Kai rarely sees anyone. Ten seconds later Sisko is down on the planet talking to her. No introduction, no build up to meeting her. No explanation of why she wants to talk to him. It would have been better to cut out some of the silly wormhole alien dialoge and give the Kai a better setup. At least explain how/why Sisko went to the planet.
The Orbs were a bit cheesy but a nice way of showing us character backstories in the first episode.
I know why they needed the wormhole for the series but it seems a bit contrived that nobody had found it before. They mention something to the effect that it's a dangerous region of space that ships don't visit... then they fly the station to it.
Oh yes. Flying the station. We haven't even finished a single episode and the stationary location is proving to be a problem. Either make it so the station can move or don't. The "reduce the weight of the station" nonsense was not needed. Better yet, they could have written it so the conflict was resolved without moving the station and had the enterprise tow the station to the wormhole at the end.
That "flyting through the wormhole" effect has not dated well at all. It looks like bad CGI even for the time. I have 90s computer games with better effects than that...
The whole wormhole sequence was silly. It didn't need the wormhole aliens, they just seemed like pointless filler asking stupid questions. I can't remember if they crop up again, let's hope not! The story would have worked just as well without the wormhole aliens. I'd rather have seen a bit more history of bajor and/or the station than this sequence.
All in all, nitpicking aside, a nice start to a good show. There's just something enticing about the style and atmosphere of DS9 that none of the others manage.
Mon, Jun 19, 2017, 6:27am (UTC -5)
No worries, they don't appear again in the series. You won't have to see that Gul Duwhatshisface again either. Alot of silly elements of the story were jettisoned to make room for better things, like lots of Q and mirror universe episodes.
Mon, Jun 19, 2017, 9:46am (UTC -5)
Don't forget all those follow up cameos Picard makes. This may as well be DS9 2.0.
Mon, Jun 19, 2017, 9:47am (UTC -5)
Mon, Jun 19, 2017, 10:26am (UTC -5)
Anyhow, in the DS9 set they decided to put a different cast photo on the cover of each season's box, and also a different character on each disc as design art. As per warp10lizard's comment, the cover of DS9 season 1 prominently featured the DS9 cast, with Picard resolutely standing with them, and the first disc of the set featured Picard on it as well. The subsequent season covers didn't show Picard on the cover, but if memory serves (I haven't watched them for years since I got a legit copy of the DS9 DVD set) Picard still managed to snag one disc per set with his image on it, proudly going where no star of another show had gone before.
Fri, Aug 11, 2017, 10:31pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Sep 3, 2017, 12:00pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Oct 9, 2017, 4:03pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Oct 21, 2017, 1:01am (UTC -5)
Sat, Oct 21, 2017, 10:11am (UTC -5)
"I'm with a number of you in that Sisko's reaction to Picard was rude and uncalled for and i was uncomfortable with Picard's wimpy reaction. "
In TNG addressing a superior officer like this wouldn't have happened as that show always had a certain decorum. And that's exactly the point and why it's such an important scene for DS9's pilot: this isn't TNG! (or as Sisko would say in a later episode, "I'm not Picard!") This isn't a show set in a cushy starship, but in orbit around a broken world full of broken people, and Sisko is being shown as being one of them in that sense. When you say his tone with Picard was uncalled for, do you mean that rudeness isn't befitting a Starfleet officer? But Sisko isn't just a Starfleet officer, he was a husband and a father. We're being shown a man who's lost the love of his life and hasn't recovered from it. He's still hurting as if it just happened to him. And the face of the man who did it is sitting right across from him. He's in pain and has nowhere to direct it. Is it fair for him to blame Picard? Of course not, that's not how grief and pain work. He's a damaged man to be sure, that's the point. Picard is savvy enough to pick up on this and chooses not to engage. What could he say to a man who feels like he's lost everything and isn't even sure he wants to be in Starfleet any more? Buck up? Picard has more class than that.
This is one of my favorite scenes *in the series* so forgive me if I rush to defend it. I think it's a very meaningful scene, in both its implications for the series, as well as the sheer fact of someone addressing Picard like that.
Sat, Oct 28, 2017, 1:22am (UTC -5)
Sat, Oct 28, 2017, 1:39am (UTC -5)
Tue, Nov 14, 2017, 6:53pm (UTC -5)
I was 14 when DS9 premiered, and I have seen the series in its entirety 3 times; during its first run, when I was 24 (with my mother, who liked TNG and i wanted her to experience DS9) and this year (2017)
Emissary: A strong pilot, not a strong episode.
Sun, Dec 24, 2017, 10:14pm (UTC -5)
The 2-hour episode had its highs and a couple of minor lows. The highs (touched on above) are on point and really create something new and different but it's still definitely Trek. What does take getting used to (and so is a bit of a low here) is the Prophets and their bizarre nature as compared to any other Trek alien. Their interaction with Sisko was sci-fi-like but also part fantasy -- definitely weird.
Brooks' acting is robotic but it kind of gets the job done -- he expresses himself as he should but it never comes across naturally. Visitor as Kira cements her personality immediately as one of the series' most compelling characters. The others are OK at this stage but we get an idea of what they'll be like. Didn't like Bashir immediately hitting on Dax though -- bit of poor writing there -- although he turns out to be a cock with eyes.
The 2nd part dragged a bit with Sisko explaining to the Prophets the whole linear time thing but a Trek pilot wouldn't be a Trek pilot without some explanation of the human condition and I liked how Sisko uses the baseball analogy to explain how we are ignorant about the future and past experiences guide us etc.
Some suspension of disbelief required with moving DS9 closer to the wormhole and some of the gimmicks tried to disguise it from the Cardassians -- always cracks me up when we see officers tapping away wildly at panels and shouting stuff...but that's Trek and it happens all the time. O'Brien has already proven his worth and earned his pay for the next several months in this 1 episode.
3 stars for "Emissary" -- may be the best of the Trek pilots, certainly ticks all the boxes for what a pilot should accomplish. Also introduces the series quirks with the Prophets and some of the faith/religion based aspect of it -- something that I always found a bit hokey personally. But there's so much material right here to build on.
Mon, Feb 26, 2018, 6:51am (UTC -5)
The flagship of the Federation. It's mission to boldly go etc... But doesn't boldly go to a new quadrant.
Tue, Mar 20, 2018, 6:00pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Sep 15, 2018, 11:26am (UTC -5)
Thu, Nov 15, 2018, 5:43pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Nov 17, 2018, 12:00am (UTC -5)
Secondarily, I really don't like seeing much of the Ferenghi, and I remember disliking Odo, though I don't remember why.
I'll try getting a little further down the road with it this time, and see if it grows on me.
Really good to see O'Brien and Picard. I hadn't remembered the Picard appearance or the Wolf 459 connection.
Well, here we go! Season 1.
Sat, Nov 17, 2018, 12:33pm (UTC -5)
A lot of people find that the first season really dry. I recommend that if the show is not working for you early on, you at least watch to Duet, the second-last ep of s1 (possibly skipping ahead if need be), which is a good place to see what DS9 is capable of and is at or near the top of a lot of people's best episodes lists.
Wed, Nov 28, 2018, 2:06pm (UTC -5)
Sisko's wife dies for no other reason than to force us to empathise with the lead.
Characters show up and complain, mostly that they don't want to be there.
Sisko is hostile to Picard, one of the most popular characters from TNG.
The Ferengi are presented but as Star Treks version of Only Fool's and Horses Del Boy, Rodney and son.
They find a wormhole and the Cardassians get a nod but nothing of any interest happens.
Unless you count re-written TNG characters being dumped on an ugly station as things happening.
Wed, Jan 9, 2019, 12:34pm (UTC -5)
I have just re-watched it for the first time, and I have to say: oh, the tedium! The entire, albeit punctuated, sequence with Sisko and the Prophets in the wormhole has driven me mad all over again. The scenes on the station itself, although stilted and prey to some disjointed acting, are much more successful. At this point in the series, the only character I care about (now, as then) is O'Brien, which remains a legacy of his TNG pedigree. However, there are so many positive comments here about how DS9 will develop over its full arc that I'm going to try and stick with it. I hope it will repay the effort.
Sat, Feb 23, 2019, 9:13pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Mar 3, 2019, 3:24am (UTC -5)
Instead of Starfleet's shiny new flagship, the action is set on a run-down, Cardassian-built station on the edges of Federation space. Instead of Starfleet's cream of the crop, we get a crew comprised of second-rate Starfleet officers and Bajoran officials. Instead of an educated moral philosopher as captain, the leading officer is an impulsive, stern single father, whose wife lost her life in the battle with Locutus/Picard. Instead of a spaceship flying to a new part of the galaxy every week, we get a space station near a war-torn, non-Federation planet, with the backdrop of the Bajoran-Cardassian conflict promising some political suspense.
But the pilot manages to destroy a bunch of these promises: The Bajorans are presented as a dull, backwards people who have built their entire culture around slavish religious beliefs - which makes sense for a population coming out of 50 years of destructive occupation, but which hardly qualifies them as interesting characters for more than a handful of episodes. Spoiler alert: Kai Opaka, Bajor's local space pope and supreme provider of esoteric gibberish, will thankfully be put on a bus halfway through the season.
Even worse, the show's stationary setting is done away with through the introduction of the stable wormhole, which means that instead of TNG's planet of the week, we'll have DS9's visiting Gamma Quadrant aliens of the week (at least during the first season).
The wormhole brings another big problem: The Prophets, a race of aliens living in the wormhole who are revered as gods by the Bajorans. Their non-linear existence could provide some interesting philosophical debates about the humanoid condition if they had turned up in TNG and met Picard, who would probably also have argued to the Bajorans that they don't need the guidance of supposedly higher beings to take care of their own lives. But in DS9, nobody thinks of critizing religion, and instead we get to see awkward scenes in softporn aesthetic of Sisko making funny noises on the beach, and boring stories about baseball.
Apart from setting the stage for the later developments in the series, the only aspect making the pilot watchable is the Odo-Quark dynamic. It's amazing how Armin Shimerman's acting could turn a member of TNG's most obnoxious and one-dimensional race into a relatable character.
Tue, Apr 23, 2019, 8:35pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Apr 30, 2019, 1:07am (UTC -5)
And that is that the Enterprise was the flagship of the Federation. To be a part of it's crew there's likely a requirement to uphold the Federation ideals more than any other ship. It's not just the "best of the best" in regards to talents, but also, perhaps, behaviour. (Excepting positions the Captain filled at the start of the series, Riker)
All the Starfleet characters of DS9 and Voyager (and Disco) aren't good enough to serve on the Enterprise, and thus, aren't held to as high a standard as the Enterprise crew. Hence interpersonal conflict, and behavours us fans might not expect from Star Trek characters (Sisko hosting "Poisoned Planet Swap" for one)
I mean, obvioudly it's really just shifting ideals and writing quality in the writer's room, but it perhaps covers the disconnect some fans see in the characters and what they expect of Starfleet officers, even if it is just an excuse.
Tue, Apr 30, 2019, 10:58am (UTC -5)
I'm sure that's what the writers were going for; that Sisko lived on a "frontier town" that didn't attract the best of the best, but he still made things work with what he had. That said, O'Brien was good enough to serve on the Enterprise as was Worf who joins the show. You could also make a case that Bashir was good enough for the Enterprise, but just wasn't interested in the post. But otherwise, many of the people Sisko worked with had rough edges that we didn't see much of on the Enterprise-D.
I think the criticism often leveled on DS9 is that it undercuts some of things established in TNG's domain that TNG fans thought were sacred. Poisoning a planet is obviously unacceptable under the code of ethics presented in TNG, and yet somehow it can be swept under the rug in DS9. TNG was trying to say we're past so many of human failings and DS9 often retorted with "Nuh-uh, not as much as you think!"
The one wrinkle in all this that the writers deserve credit for in DS9 is that they leave the door open for the viewer to decide whether this show's protagonists really were right (despite operating on a remote outpost). Sisko is flawed. He makes many bad decisions and pays the consequences. He makes some good choices too, and the shows leaves it to us which choice is what along the way.
As for your point about Discovery, I'm not sure that really matters. Kirk was able to get away with much more gung-ho off the books style commanding that Picard would never do. Kirk and the Discovery operate in different era than Picard. As the writers leave the ethos of those eras somewhat undefined, it's hard to really judge them by some sort of absolute Star Trek morality.
Wed, May 15, 2019, 10:23pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jun 2, 2019, 4:49pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jun 19, 2019, 9:00pm (UTC -5)
First episode was hit and miss, I really can do without the religious stuff, but I guess it is here to stay. Similar thing bothered me on my re-watch of Babylon 5 recently, although there it is more as a spirituality/universe kind of thing.
Since I still consider B5 my fave SF show till now (with the Expanse coming fast from behind), it will be interesting to see the parallels and differences in "the other station show".
Sun, Jul 28, 2019, 11:41am (UTC -5)
Thu, Dec 12, 2019, 10:18pm (UTC -5)
I can tell there's going to be far more of a sense of permanence here. The Cardassians withdrawing at the end of Chain of Command could so easily have been ignored on TNG from then on -- the Enterprise flies away, the problems aren't theirs to deal with any more, the crew gets another situation to get ankle deep into before moving onto yet another one. And hey, there's nothing inherently wrong with that kind of storytelling. I was raised on classic Doctor Who, which is pretty much as episodic as it gets -- you get the Doctor, the TARDIS, however many companions you've got and a few recurring enemies, and almost everything else will be unique to whichever episode they're in. It makes you feel like a bit of a cosmic tourist, staying long enough to get a feel for something and then moving on -- you get to do pretty much any kind of story you want, at the price of not being able to get too far into any of it.
Deep Space Nine, though? As I can tell so far, it's an entire goddamn *series* of storyline dedicated to the consequences of Starfleet's actions: the shifting of power in the region, and all that comes of that. By showing a lot of different worlds, TNG has made the universe feel more expansive. By taking time to focus on the ramifications, even DS9's existence so far is making the universe feel more *real*. Breadth versus depth. I'm fascinated to see what Star Trek can do with a series focused on exploring a situation in depth, and from what I hear, I'm in for a treat.
Thoughts on the characters, as they're established here:
- Sisko interests me well enough, and I appreciate the dad angle. I found myself really liking the scenes where he talks to... whatever's in the wormhole. They keep a momentum going through a ton of different settings and scenes.
- Jake Sisko > Wesley Crusher, at least from what I can tell so far.
- Poor O'Brien, going from a galaxy-class starship to a half-rusted space station. He's gonna need a lot more kicks where that came from. But god, this was better than anything I'd ever seen from him in TNG (except maybe The Wounded), and I'm looking forward to seeing him used better.
- Oh, naive idealistic Bashir. Wonder how he'll go here.
- You can count me a Kira fan already. I like her for a lot of the same reasons I like Ro Laren (which makes sense), and I'll appreciate her having more space for development than Ro did.
- Quark is a potentially interesting Ferengi who doesn't entirely make me want to bash my head against the wall, which is a good start and a break from the species' track record.
- Not enough of Dax or Odo yet for me to really make a judgement. Feels strange to be finally meeting Odo with René Auberjonois' death just a few days ago, though.
Sat, Mar 7, 2020, 12:30am (UTC -5)
Thu, May 7, 2020, 7:30am (UTC -5)
It's not on wikipedia for some reason!
Thu, May 7, 2020, 2:41pm (UTC -5)
This is the best I got.
Thu, May 7, 2020, 3:08pm (UTC -5)
One thing I think is interesting is that DS9 started much higher than VOY but then leveled out to be about the same. The conclusion we can safely draw is that, for whatever reason, there was an overall decline in Star Trek viewership starting in 1996 (DS9 Season 4, Voyager Season 2).
Thu, May 7, 2020, 3:27pm (UTC -5)
That's a generous reading. DS9 had relatively good ratings in seasons 1-2 (while TNG was still on the air), then steadily declined every season thereafter. Voyager didn't start as strong, but was more or less consistent (with some peaks and valleys) over its 7-year run. Voyager's finale also had twice the viewership of DS9's.
I'm not speculating at this point about why any of this was; I'm pretty sure the way the shows were promoted affected their viewership, but that's what the numbers show.
Thu, May 7, 2020, 4:13pm (UTC -5)
I mean if we're directly comparing DS9 and VOY's ratings, both shows were close but DS9 was on average always ahead:
95-95 season: DS9 average: 6.61 million viewers, Voyager: 5.68 million viewers
96-97 season: DS9 average: 5.76 million viewers, Voyager: 4.73 million viewers
97-98 season: DS9 average: 4.96 million viewers, Voyager: 4.24 million viewers
98-99 season: DS9 average: 4.04 million viewers, Voyager 3.44 million viewers
It is interesting that Voyager peaked more often in later seasons, but then also DS9 was off the air at that time. That said, I too suspect the syndication deals influenced the numbers more than the quality of the material. But I can't say for sure that's the case.
Tue, Jun 16, 2020, 8:11am (UTC -5)
I always laugh at Odo's line "and here I thought I wasn't going to like him" after Sisko finishes extorting Quark. Or Sisko telling Dukat he's welcome to visit anytime he's homesick and then flinching as Dukat leaves the room. Just splendid.
It's these little character moments that pay huge dividends as the series progresses. And I get choked up every time I watch his "I exist here" scene at the end of Sisko's meeting with the Prophets.
One thing you realize is that DS9 has such a huge advantage over other Trek shows because of the quality of the secondary characters. No series including TNG was so stacked with talent in the middle of the "lineup" (to borrow a baseball metaphor) like Armin Shimmerman, Camille Saviola, Marc Alamo, Andrew Robinson...
Even the weaker characters (Bashir, Dax) are made better by their chemistry with the rest of the cast (Bashir / Garak, Dax / Sisko). In TNG you had singular performances by Stewart or Spiner but seldom so much great chemistry with recurring guest characters (Guinan and Mr. Homm excepted)
I guess, to extend the baseball metaphor, TNG felt like a handful of superstars carrying everyone while with DS9 it was a real team effort.
Tue, Jun 16, 2020, 2:39pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jun 16, 2020, 5:34pm (UTC -5)
Tier 1 will be the main cast. Tier 2 will be any secondary character appearing in 3 episodes or more not counting two-parters. I will exclude one season wonders like Pulaski, Tasha and Ezri. I will also assign a Star rating for each character according to my estimation of the quality of the actor and the overall writing for the character as well as my impression of the popularity of the character.
4 stars is legendary / classic character. 3 stars is well regarded but not universally beloved. 2 stars is middling to average with both boosters and detractors. 1 star is mostly derided with few supporters.
TNG Tier 1:
AVG: 2.222 stars
TNG Tier 2:
Mr. Homm ***
AVG: 2.285 stars (Spot excluded)
DS9 Tier 1:
AVG: 2.555 stars
DS9 Tier 2:
AVG: 2.538 stars
Looking at the above it is apparent to me that for the main cast, DS9 has more talent spread out more evenly in the main cast. When it comes to the secondary cast though, the average star rating doesn't do DS9 justice because of the sheer difference in quantity of secondary characters. There is just no comparison - DS9's secondary roster is just stacked with talent and plays an outsized role in the storytelling, whereas TNG concentrates almost exclusively on the main cast. This may be partly due to the serialized nature of the storytelling to be fair. But for me it's such a big asset for DS9 that paid off even before the story departed from episodic storytelling into full on arcs.
Tue, Jun 16, 2020, 5:55pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jun 16, 2020, 6:18pm (UTC -5)
(Shit I also forgot Barclay *** and O'Brien *** on my TNG list)
Voyager Tier 1:
AVG: 2.1 stars
Voyager Tier 2:
Naomi Wildman *
Borg Queen **
AVG: 2.142 stars
Wed, Jun 17, 2020, 12:01am (UTC -5)
That said, scanning your numbers I realize one thing that strikes me, putting aside the fact that you observe the DS9 talent is spread more evenly than TNG but fewer highs and lows. I think DS9's cast overcame occasional weak scripting with better acting to come to a similar 'final result' whereas even players on TNG like Troi and Crusher often had very nice scenes or episodes despite IMO them not quite carrying them off of their own powers. But the cast was so tight (another factor not accounted for) and the show's design to streamlined at a point that the show virtually carried itself at times with its own energy. Since DS9 was darker, not as sleek, not as 'fun', I think the onus was much more on the actors to "make it work" or else it would fail. I don't know if this is a writing flaw or just a result of the show's design, but a badly acted DS9 is basically dead in the water, whereas a badly acted TNG scene could still work much of the time. I think often when I'm rewatching TNG more than DS9 it's because it's 'easier on the eyes' and generally more sprightly, whereas DS9 is a bit more work for me but also more rewarding. I space out my DS9 rewatches much more than TNG, until I'm 'ready' to put in the focus it needs. TNG is more like I can be tired and it will carry me, so that's an issue directly impacting how much the actors needed (or didn't need) to do to make it work.
Wed, Jun 17, 2020, 4:18am (UTC -5)
Funny though that in the end the numerical averages weren't nearly as meaningful as I thought they'd be. The big takeaway though is that DS9 had *tons* of important side characters like Garek, Dukat, Weyoun, D'Mar etc.... and you can't even compare these to even the very prolific side characters on Voyager and TNG like Guinan or Q or Borg Queen because the DS9 group has wayyyyyy more screen time. D'Mar alone probably had more screen time than Q and Guinan combined.
But I will concede that DS9's focus could be a detriment at times. Yes you'd see folks like Weyoun a ton but also Rom and Leeta.
One thing that is apparent though is the weakness of Voyager's main cast. I would say I was really cheating a bit giving Janeway 3 stars (I am a fan of hers, even though I suspect that is much more controversial than the 3 star rating suggests) and you can just see how low their ratings are. Seven is the only really unambiguously great character. I guess an argument could be made to give Doctor 4 stars but my personal dislike for what he became forced me to 3 star him (I guess that balances out my upgrade of Janeway)
Wed, Jun 17, 2020, 1:20pm (UTC -5)
For what it's worth my own viewing habits mirror yours. I can watch a TNG episode like Disaster or Sins of the Father or Peak Performance three times a week and never get tired of them. DS9 does require more work to enjoy.
Voyager is more in the TNG mold and is easily accessible except for the minor snag that it kind of sucks so there is that :)
Tue, Jan 12, 2021, 2:04pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Jan 29, 2021, 7:13pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Apr 13, 2021, 1:28pm (UTC -5)
I think they also went way over the top in the apparent damage to the station. I can certainly believe that level of damage, but I think there would have been massive casualties. And the behavior of the characters also seems discordant to the level of damage.
A much bigger problem is I can't believe the Sisko would keep his posting after all he unloaded on Picard in their first meeting. And while we see Sisko's prophet based epiphany to stop living in the past, Picard doesn't. To Picard, it appears the Sisko was pissed he got a crappy job in the wilderness, then changed his tune when the wormhole was discovered because now the station is very important.
At a minimum, the Sisko was clearly in severe emotional turmoil and needed a vacation, and I doubt the Feds would keep him in this important position.
Mon, Apr 19, 2021, 6:48am (UTC -5)
Did you give Seven 4 stars for being attractive? I agree she is beautiful, but acting, she wasn't very good 25 years ago but now she has improved and she is getting better lines on Picard.
Mon, Apr 19, 2021, 11:40am (UTC -5)
I just think she was well-cast for the role and her character worked extremely well. So well that I think she single-handedly saved Voyager.
I think the showrunners thought that they could generate ratings by bringing in a gorgeous actress. They were right, but for the wrong reasons.
Fri, May 14, 2021, 7:06am (UTC -5)
Surprised so many people don't like it. Yes, it is irrational - that's the point. And Picard because he, too, is irrational in the guilt he holds onto. It was a genius bit of writing because it hearkens back to a huge event that should have had far greater shockwaves in TNG. It shows us that Sisko has an edge that the 3 shift rotationers on the Enterprise don't.
It's great writing and great TV for all those reasons and more. The fact it stuck with so many of you being one of them.
Sisko was wrong. That doesn't make it bad writing it makes it realistic. He wasn't there to see what Picard went through. His only exposure to the Borg was probably getting blown up into widowerhood. It would be very, very easy to convince yourself that you lost your wife because some flagship captain couldn't keep his shit together while in enemy hands.
I loved Sisko from the moment that happened.
Fri, May 14, 2021, 8:25am (UTC -5)
Was he though? He didn't accuse Picard of being a traitor or a murderer. He simply stated the fact that they had met in battle. Sisko's tone, to be sure, was accusatory, but that just makes Sisko human in sitting in the same room with the man who without question killed his wife. That Picard feels guilt for this also makes him human.
I am with you that this was one of the best scenes in the series and one of the most powerful in Trek. It's stuff like this that makes Emissary by far the best series premiere in any Trek series.
Fri, May 14, 2021, 9:22am (UTC -5)
Fri, May 14, 2021, 3:23pm (UTC -5)
I would have LOVED to see Sisko tango with the Borg again at least once. Volcanically angry Sisko is the best Sisko.
Fri, May 14, 2021, 3:31pm (UTC -5)
"I never understood why the Borg wast a bigger focus on Voyager than DS9."
Because the Borg are from the Delta Quadrant
Fri, May 14, 2021, 5:50pm (UTC -5)
It would be 100% plausible if the Borg had apoeared in DS9.
Thu, Jun 10, 2021, 4:55pm (UTC -5)
1. The scene where Sisko meets Kira for the first time is actually quite memorable for me. Nana Visitor (Despite, as others have noted, having a talky and expositiony scene to work with) arrests one's attention extremely well. The hallmark of great acting.
2. I remember thinking the scene where Odo captures the thief was quite ehh in terms of special effects, even back when this aired. Not only that, but the bola (or w/e) that the thief throws at Odo is not shot well, imo. This needed more footage than they ended up being able to get, Idk.
3. The scene immediately after, let's call it "Community Leader?!", shall we, is the #1 reason I ever kept watching this show at all. Deep Space Nine got my attention for sure and realsies at this scene, and it is quite good. There are some Trekkian Classic lines in here.
ODO: The man is a gambler, AND a thief
QUARK: I'm not a thief.
ODO: *YOU* ARE A *THIEF!*
QUARK: If I am, then you haven't been able to prove it for four year--
SISKO: Please! My officers, the Bajoran engineers, all their families depend on the shops and the services of this Promenade. If people like you abandon it, this is going to become a ghost town. We need someone to step forward and say "I'm staying. I'm rebuilding." We need a community leader and it's going to be *You*, Quark. :D
QUARK: (Laughs hysterically) "COMMUNITY LEADER?!" (continues laughing)
... I love this scene. It introduces two extremely key characters in the series by contrasting them heavily, and with Ben Sisko in the center, as the decider.
Think of it as a Kirk/Spock/McCoy type scene, but with totally different characters, and a slightly altered premise/power dynamic between them. It possesses similar elements to older Trek Writing.
I like scenes with three distinct characters like this, it gives great opportunities for playing around with words on two separate fronts, with the two lines of conversation that are going on for any of them at any time.
The scene comes to a head in a later scene that is also shot well and has a lot of interesting stuff going on, and punctuates with an exchange between Shimmerman and Brooks that has a lot of sizzle to it.
4. Bashir and Kira's ...talk in the Infirmary is a bit much. I could agree that Kira is a bit over the top here, although in hindsight (SPOILERS: Julian is an augment, just like Khan), it really becomes a lot funnier. That Siddig and Visitor ended up getting together makes it just a bit even funnier just for the giggles.
5. The "Orb Experience" scenes do little to move the plot forward, and btw this entire plot point is an example of just the same kind of Mystery Box writing people are complaining about on the new shows, with **literal mystery boxes.** So, if you're going to slag those shows for it (rightly so), then you need to pay your respects to the Plot Device Orbs of DS9. I still to this day don't understand to this day what the deal was supposed to be with them, what the heck??
6. As to the main plot point, I feel like Fred Savage from "The Princess Bride":
"Contacting aliens inside a stable wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant is good."
7. O'Brien's last visit on the Enterprise isn't really a scene of DS9, but the epilogue of ST:TNG, really. It's simple and handled well, but that's all you can really say about it.
8. Marc Alamio is the 100% best thing that happened to this series. He's out of his bloody mind and he does it straight up. It is great, that this villain served as the throughline of DS9's story, from start to finish. Whatever material he was given to work with, Alamio killed it. That man's a stone-cold actor.
9. Odo's use of his shapeshifting is much better done in this scene, and the thought of it is clever. I have always thought so from the first time I saw this scene.
10. Sh__ starts to get WEIRD in the third act, but it's the good kind of "Sci Fi Weird" focused on concepts and communication, so to me it's acceptable.
Overall, I have always thought no ST Series established itself so distinctly and so quickly as DS9's. It really is a masterclass in unique design.
BTW: "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine? What is this?" xD hehe
Mon, Jul 12, 2021, 8:04pm (UTC -5)
His over eager puppy dogging around Dax and Kira do fit someone trying too hard. And how exciting could it really be to get an assignment most consider the butt end of space? Before the discovery of the wormhole, there was little reason to think much of anything interesting on the medical front would occur.
Additionally, he chose one of the most remote possible assignments, which does indeed fit with someone trying to hide as far away from Earth as possible.
So, yes, ultimately great retcon.
The episode as a whole, though, yeah. The everybody working together thing makes no sense.
We have Kira and Odo (upset at the Starfleet presence) working with Quark (who despise each other) to in a plan with Sisko and O'brien to smuggle Odo aboard a Cardassian ship to disable it in some way so Sisko and Dax could go investigate some area of space.
That's just crazy. I thought so first run, but even more so after seeing the full series. It would be a LONG time before they could or would trust each other that much, let alone work so well together.
It's even more annoying that there's really no justifiable need for it. A runabout is out running about. So what? They have no reason to suspect the massive discovery that's about to occur.
And it makes Odo's holier than thou dumping on Quark look rather hypocritical.
Mon, Jul 12, 2021, 8:23pm (UTC -5)
I agree about the recton working perfectly. Since Pillar had always planned for some sort of "surprise!" involving Bashir changing form, I think they deliberately inserted some odd details into this backstory so that they could later use them as levers, or pivot points perhaps, so as to retroactively establish...something. We also know that the 'something' wasn't clear to anyone, so they were just adding in random stuff. But damn, they sure did add some details that would end up making almost no sense unless he was an augment. Why did they write that he wanted to be on the frontier, when indeed it could have been a boring post? Why did they write in that he deliberately made an error in his exam so that he wouldn't finish first in his class? And even that point, raised in a later episode, is a follow-up to the countless recitals about blah blah pre-ganglionic nerve and post-ganglionic fibre. And why is he so fixated on Dax in the first place? Sure, she's attractive, but no doubt there are other women he can hit on. I think it's because she's brilliant.
So many hints throughout that...something is off about him.
Despite all that, their initial intention was to make him unlikeable, but they failed miserably because the more Kira hates his guts the more I laugh my ass off and love him.
Mon, Aug 16, 2021, 6:31am (UTC -5)
Jeri Ryan was IMO terrific in that role, one of the stand out actors of Voyager.
She developed a great camaraderie with Robert Picardo for example, and she hardly ever had a bad episode I can recall that focused on her character.
She had good looks, and she happened to be a great fit for the character. So if the producers cast he purely on looks, they obviously created a happy accident because she was just as well a solid actor perfect for Seven.
For me Beltran, Lien, and guy who played Neelix were the weak links on that series.
Fri, Dec 10, 2021, 2:26pm (UTC -5)
I did see this once before when it first aired but it's better than I remember.
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 6:18pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 7:31pm (UTC -5)
The squeaks are cool and good.
Sat, May 28, 2022, 8:28pm (UTC -5)
This entire show would’ve been so much better if, instead of Sisko, the commander of DS9 and the emissary was a Bajoran who fled Cardassian brutality to the Federation as a young child and as such was isolated from his people and culture, and as such pro-Federation, unlike Major Kira his attaché who staunchly opposes the presence of the Feds, but needs their food and medicine and weapons. The journey then should not be for Kira to change but for the commander to see that the Federation is an empire like any other, which — like the Borg — comes and devours cultures and replaces them with that of the Federation (read: America) and that they shouldn’t be there.
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 1:56pm (UTC -5)
Some (most?) of it is redolent of Babylon 5, which I liked a lot, so that's a good omen. But the ridiculous, ponderous mind-trips...? There's "science fiction" and then there's puerile fantasy. This is the latter.
A super-advanced species that doesn't understand the notion of time or "linear existence"? Yeah. Right.
I have to admit though, Sisko's agony at realizing he was living in the past, not having gotten over the death of his (super cute) wife, was done very well. Do I want to watch something like that on a sci-fi show though? Not so sure.
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 6:50pm (UTC -5)
>A super-advanced species that doesn't understand the notion of time or "linear existence"? Yeah. Right.
Agreed, but it gives us one of the most profound lines in all of Trek - "You value your ignorance of what is to come?"
That's so true, what would life be like if we already knew the outcome of everything? Would there be any point to it?
A similar concept of aliens not understanding time can be seen in a 90's episode of The Outer Limits (2x21 - Vanishing Act) where the aliens abduct the lead character for 10 years each time.
PS: I always thought that the Wormhole Aliens communicating through characters that Ben Sisko knows was a great idea that worked really well.
Sat, Jul 9, 2022, 10:26am (UTC -5)
I don't get notifications of new posts for whatever reason and only saw your comment because I returned to write a followup to my remarks above. Turns out I'm quite enjoying D.S.9 and I'm glad, so far, that I gave it a chance.
To respond to your point though, yes, that's a very insightful observation and it cuts into the essence of existence. I noticed it, too, as I was watching the episode and it struck a chord. I could write a lot on this notion--from the incompatibility of a god's omniscience with free will, to the futility of life with or without the future being a mystery--but I'll spare myself and everyone else that ordeal.
I still find it implausible that any race, least of all a very advanced one, would find the concept of time incomprehensible. After all, time is basically the motion of particles, and any advanced species would surely be familiar with such basic physics.
You're also right about the method of communicating with Sisko through individuals known to him was both ingenious and nicely done. I was too harsh in my initial judgment.
Sat, Jul 9, 2022, 7:52pm (UTC -5)
Please read the comments stream regularly so you do not miss more replies. https://www.jammersreviews.com/comments/
I am assuming that you are new to Jammer's Reviews?
Sat, Dec 10, 2022, 1:07am (UTC -5)
Regarding your TNG tier system I don’t understand why Ro is listed as a main character, she only appeared in 8 episodes, three of which only really focused on her (Ensign Ro, The Next Phase and Preemptive Strike) and in other appearances Michelle Forbes got one or two lines in Cause and Effect and one scene in Rascals.
Sat, Dec 10, 2022, 5:48am (UTC -5)
My memory of her was as a main character but I'll concede I don't recall if she was in the main credits. I will take your word for it on screen time but you will agree once introduced she was more than just a side character like say Guinan.
Sat, Dec 10, 2022, 8:36am (UTC -5)
Tue, Jan 3, 2023, 11:52pm (UTC -5)
I just rewatched “Emissary” to celebrate. I remember becoming a Trek fan in 9th grade, just when DS9 was premiering, and TNG’s final season was airing. 30 years ago, and I vividly remember watching the W359 scene, and perhaps even more, the scene with Jake and Ben on the Little House on the Prairie bridge. All 7 minutes of these 2 scenes occurred before the opening sequence, and they are the scenes that have stuck with me the most during my linear corporeal existence. (By the way( the theme of grief and trauma preventing us from linear existence most certainly resonates much more today as a 44 year old than it did as a 14 year old. Ben is such an amazing father, something I never had, and that first scene still makes me tear up, as he and his son embark on a whole new life together on the edge of the frontier. I love DS9 so much, and can hardly believe 30 years have passed since watching the pilot for the very first time 🖖
Sun, May 21, 2023, 12:44am (UTC -5)
But unfortunately this is as good as it gets for the actor & his character.
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