Second Season Recap

For episodes airing from 9/27/1993 to 6/13/1994
Series created by Rick Berman & Michael Piller
Executive producers: Rick Berman & Michael Piller

Nutshell: Aside from a mild case of Split Personality Syndrome in some of the dual-plotted episodes, this was an excellent season that defined some of the series most important and lasting character relationships and pivotal storylines.

And so here are the questions: Season two of Deep Space Nine—what was it? How can it best be summarized? What are my "themes" of the season? I'll attempt to answer the broad questions fully but also try to keep it brief (yeah right).

Season two is not the best season of DS9 (season five's extremely involving, intertwined plot arcs still earn it that title), but it was an outstanding season overall, and definitely one of the better seasons in both DS9's run and the Trek canon. I'd probably rank it second—right after fifth season and before the fourth. It's especially when stepping back to look at the large canvas in terms of the entire series that second season's strengths and importance become clear.

The reasons for DS9's success this season can be traced to (1) the amount of pivotal impact and relevance its stories had to the major plot lines as they continued to unfold in subsequent seasons, and (2) how deeply the season fleshed out the characters. This season is almost without a doubt the most important in character terms. The true relationships between everybody began to feel completely real. And with the possible exception of Quark, the DS9 personas were given new dimensions that were previously unseen in the series' freshman season. At the same time, these characterizations grew out of what we knew of each person.

For example, the relationship of mutual respect between Odo and Kira really began to take on a subtle power that hadn't been explored in season one. Especially powerful were the issues of trust and betrayal in "Necessary Evil" (still one of the series' best installments) and even hints of buried feelings in "The Collaborator." I still maintain that this was the best point in the Kira/Odo relationship—later episodes have tried to make this into a romantic issue, but the stuff of season two involving loyalty and friendship was simply more powerful in its portrayal.

But not to get off the subject by discussing subsequent seasons, the types of stories this season were extremely conducive for substantive character building. It was a point where the show was new enough to still tell us plenty fresh about the characters, but was experienced enough to know what logical directions to take them. A prime example also showed itself in "Homecoming," the season premiere. Kira and Sisko exhibited a very believable dialog that really felt like interaction between a Starfleet officer with one problem and a Bajoran representative with another. Characters who had remained sketchy in season one were given very strong development. Garak's big vehicles, "The Wire" and "Cardassians" managed to keep his motives as enigmatic as ever, but offered great insight into the way he thinks and acts—turning him into one of the most interesting people of the ensemble. Similarly, Gul Dukat was provided great depth and shades of grey in the "Maquis" two-parter; as three-dimensional as he still remains, I don't believe I've seen the character grow any more three dimensional than he did this season. Also, Bajoran characters like Bareil and particularly Winn greatly benefited from shows that highlighted them. There was evolution in Winn to indicate that there's more to her persona than meets the eye, even if by the end of the season she was still as self-serving as when she was originally introduced.

Friendships like those of Bashir/O'Brien, Garak/Bashir, etc. provided good dialog. Watching characters act in tough situations (Odo in "Necessary Evil," O'Brien in "Whispers," and Sisko in the "Maquis" two-parter especially come to mind) unveiled a number of respectful qualities—intelligence, patience, duty, cleverness, and so forth. These types of virtues are things I like to see in my television heroes. There's also the backstory factor—Dax's past in "Playing God" and "Blood Oath" added unknown dimensions; Odo's reunion with Dr. Mora in "The Alternate" was downright brilliant; the confusing half-truths of Garak's past in "The Wire" was very enlightening, even if it was all supposition. Even the stunt pairing of Sisko and Quark in "The Jem'Hadar" shed some light on how Ferengi and humans views each other. The bottom line is that the characters benefited more in season two than any other season, so even if the rest of the season was a failure it would still hold that virtue.

But the rest of the season was most definitely not a failure. There were pivotal plots that were marvelously executed and defined most of the elements that would determine how the series would play from this point onward. The Bajoran political situations, though already present in season one, were greatly developed in the opening three-parter, as well as "The Collaborator" (in which Winn was elected as Kai). And, obviously, the introductions of the Maquis and the Dominion in the last third of the season would prove to have lasting consequences for seasons to come. It's not so much that the episodes created these conflicts that made them good, it's that the series did it with intelligence and style, putting the characters in troubling situations that allowed us to see how they think, feel, and respond (much more so with the Maquis than the Dominion, I should probably point out).

Of course, that's not to say this season was perfect, because it most certainly wasn't. While it probably sported fewer absolute "clunker" episodes than any other season of DS9 (no episode received fewer than two stars), and had long stretches of very strong shows (the opening stretch from the three-parter and the closing stretch from "Blood Oath" were extremely solid), there was a significant—and consistent—flaw that season two exhibited. I'm referring, of course, to what would have to be Split Personality Syndrome (SPS)—which I'm officially nominating as the theme for this part of the review. SPS was the uneasy clashing of A-stories and B-stories that severely undermined some otherwise excellent work. Let me count the ways it mucked up some (in most cases) good shows and turned them simply "average" (or mildly bad in the worst case): The pointless bad guy revenge plot in "Melora"; the sci-fi telepathic nonsense in "Second Sight"; the B-movie creature feature in "The Alternate"; the holograms-as-life retread in "Shadowplay" (though that's a mild case); and the appallingly misplaced proto-universe plot of "Playing God." This is a mistake that the writers made far too many times this season, and in far too consistent a fashion. As these examples all seem to indicate, if there's one undoing of a perfectly good main plot, it's a weak or inappropriate subplot. In a way, this makes DS9's entire second season a sort of split personality: Part of the season exhibited the SPS, while the other part of it didn't. The funny thing about SPS is that it's so blatantly obvious. In many cases, it's not that these episodes were weakened because of their own unique storytelling circumstances (though some like "Sanctuary," "Melora," "Profit and Loss," and "Rules of Acquisition" were). They were weakened because they had obvious problems in their basic narrative structure, which is rather odd considering how excellent the overall season was. Perhaps I'm the only one to notice this phenomenon? Perhaps I'm just crazy?

Ah, well. The final leg of episodes by far more than made up for the unevenness of the season's middle. The consistent success of the last nine episodes remains the longest running streak of winners I've seen on a Trek series. And not only did the season add to DS9's collection of good Treks, it was the genesis for some of the series' most relevant issues.

For what it's worth, I have ranked the episodes for this season in order of preference and included my 10-scale ratings. The rank is based on the numeric ratings combined with my overall feelings about an episode as they happened to be when I did this ranking. (The 10-scale ratings are as they appear in the S.O.S. under my submissions.)

Ranking Episode Star rating 10-scale
1 "Necessary Evil" 4.0 10.0
2 "Crossover" 4.0 10.0
3 "Whispers" 4.0 10.0
4 "The Maquis, Part I" 3.5 9.0
5 "Cardassians" 3.5 9.0
6 "The Homecoming" 3.5 9.0
7 "The Maquis, Part II" 3.5 9.0
8 "The Wire" 3.5 9.0
9 "Blood Oath" 3.5 9.0
10 "The Jem'Hadar" 3.5 8.5
11 "The Circle" 3.0 8.0
12 "Tribunal" 3.0 8.0
13 "Invasive Procedures" 3.0 8.0
14 "The Collaborator" 3.0 8.0
15 "The Siege" 3.0 7.0
16 "Armageddon Game" 3.0 7.0
17 "Paradise" 3.0 7.0
18 "The Alternate" 2.5 6.5
19 "Playing God" 2.5 6.5
20 "Second Sight" 2.5 6.0
21 "Shadowplay" 2.5 6.0
22 "Rivals" 2.5 6.0
23 "Rules of Acquisition" 2.0 5.0
24 "Sanctuary" 2.0 4.5
25 "Melora" 2.0 4.5
26 "Profit and Loss" 2.0 4.5

Previous: Season 1
Next: Season 3

◄ Season Index

32 comments on this post

Mon, Jul 14, 2014, 12:10pm (UTC -5)
I've completed viewing and ranking Season 2.

My average is up from season one. Many more above average episodes by percentage. Some truely fantastic trek here. 'The Wire' is in my DS9 top ten.

Necessary Evil 4
Blood Oath 4
The Wire 4
Second Sight 3.5
Shadowplay 3.5
The Homecoming 3
The Circle 3
The Siege 3
Cardassians 3
The Alternate 3
Armageddon Game 3
Profit and Loss 3
The Maquis, part one 3
The Maquis, part two 3
The Collaborator 3
The Jem'Hadar 3
Rules of Acquisition 2.5
Whispers 2.5
Tribunal 2.5
Invasive Procedures 2
Melora 2
Rivals 2
Playing God 2
Crossover 1.5
Paradise 1
Sanctuary 0.5

Total = 70.5
Episode average = 2.711538462

Sorry for the rough reading, I just can't get the alignment thing right.

If someone can help me in that area I'd be much appreciative.
Mon, Jul 14, 2014, 1:07pm (UTC -5)
Good ratings, I would pretty much agree with everything except maybe Whispers.
Mon, Jul 14, 2014, 4:56pm (UTC -5)
Looks like we're gonna have a throwdown over "Crossover." Me, I agree with Jammer that it was a highlight of the season--and, in retrospect, the only DS9 Mirror Universe tale worth watching.
Mon, Jul 14, 2014, 6:42pm (UTC -5)
@ Robert.

Cool, I didn't think it was bad, just not as good as most.

@ Grumpy.

I'm not a huge fan of any of the DS9 "Mirror" episodes. But I agree, this was the best one.

Highlight of the season when you have episodes like 'The Wire' and 'Necessary Evil'? ... I think not. :)
Mon, Jul 14, 2014, 11:00pm (UTC -5)
I said *a* highlight; there can be more than one. :-)

In my view, though, S2 does not stand as proudly as Jammer hails it here. True, there are fewer face-palmingly rotten shows as in later seasons (although I found "Melora" and "The Alternate" hard to sit through). But the show hardly rose above mediocre all year. "Necessary Evil" and "The Wire" bored me on first viewing, though I may reconsider. Outside of action pieces like "The Circle," "The Siege," and "Blood Oath," the only keeper of the year was "Crossover," mainly I think due to visuals & atmosphere that keep fresh a "how will they get out of this one?" story that fell flat in, say, "Paradise" and "Armageddon Game."

I guess we gotta keep "The Jem'Hadar" for its (mostly implied) epic scope and sharp commentary from Quark.
William B
Mon, Jul 14, 2014, 11:29pm (UTC -5)
I used to value s2 very highly, but looking at the episodes now I suspect I wouldn't now. I plan to rewatch DS9 in the next year or two. I think Necessary Evil and The Wire are top-ten shows. Whispers and Crossover are also very strong. I do think that Cardassians, Blood Oath, and The Jem'Hadar are also very good to great -- probably 3.5 stars. I'd have to rewatch the opening trilogy and The Maquis two-parter -- I can't recall well enough. Though I think The Siege was a disappointment.

Of Jammer's 3 star shows -- I think The Collaborator is quite good, and The Circle. Maybe Armageddon Game for the Julian/Miles stuff. But, you know, Paradise is actually pretty bad. Tribunal takes what works amazingly well as a two or three-sentence explanation given by Dukat of the Cardassian justice system and spins a dull plodding show out of it. I don't think Invasive Procedures is particularly memorable. That means that for me the season's "recommend" ratio is very close to 50% with these eps dropping out. That's not awful by any means. It's quite respectable -- but it does make the season seem less of a home run.
William B
Tue, Jul 15, 2014, 7:33pm (UTC -5)
!!! My mama said some day I would be special! :)
William B
Tue, Jul 15, 2014, 7:33pm (UTC -5)
Uh, that very last comment was in response to a comment that has since been deleted.
Tue, Jul 15, 2014, 8:25pm (UTC -5)
I had posted a congratulations for William B posting the 20,000th comment, then less than 60 seconds later deleted it after realizing that the entire "Star Trek Into Darkness" comment thread is hidden from the Comment Browser and therefore subtracted from the shown comment count. I deleted the comment fairly certain that no one had seen it in the 30 to 60 seconds that I had it up. But I was incorrect. :)
Tue, Jul 15, 2014, 8:28pm (UTC -5)
So, then, congratulations on the posting the 20,753rd comment. :)
William B
Tue, Jul 15, 2014, 8:30pm (UTC -5)
:) I just happened to check in. I had noticed the 20,000 comment limit too -- but I half suspected that it was just that the "search" function truncated at 20,000 results.
Wed, Jul 16, 2014, 6:50am (UTC -5)
Hey Jammer! Nice to see you pop in here!
Thu, Jul 23, 2015, 10:16pm (UTC -5)
This remains one of my favorite seasons of Star Trek. It does diplomatic and political intrigue well while building up the characters.
Diamond Dave
Wed, Nov 18, 2015, 2:32pm (UTC -5)
According to my scoring over the series, this comes out at 2.79 which makes it the highest scoring series of TNG and DS9 so far. I'm not surprised it worked out like this - it truly is an excellent series, that gets off to a good start, suffers a small blip mid series (with 6 in a row at 2.5 or below) but then powers to the end with 6 of the last 8 eps scoring 3.5 or 4.

I think here the key is that we've got a full ensemble cast working now. The interesting characters in series 1 continue to expand, but the less successful characters like Dax and Bashir are also beginning to find their voice. The increasing strength and depth this gives is show in the success of the various "team-up" episodes - as an example Sisko and Quark in the finale.

There is also a massive amount of world-building going on - particularly on Bajor, but also in the subtle way the Dominion has been slowly introduced right up to the revelations in the finale. Superb stuff.
Mon, Mar 7, 2016, 11:18am (UTC -5)
YAY! Time for some post-season number crunching! I love it; I love it!

9 - The Homecoming
8 - The Circle
8 - The Siege
5 - Invasive Procedures
9 - Cardassians
1 - Melora
4 - Rules of Acquisition
10 - Necessary Evil
1 - Second Sight
2 - Santuary
5 - Rivals
4 - The Alternate
3 - Armageddon Game
8 - Whispers
0 - Paradise
5 - Shadowplay
3 - Playing God
6 - Profit and Loss
7 - Blood Oath
9 - The Maquis, Part I
9 - The Maquis, Part II
9 - The Wire
8 - Crossover
9 - The Collaborator
6 - Tribunal
8 - The Jem'Hadar

Average Season Score: 6.000
Average Series Score: 5.600
TNG Series Score After Two Seasons: 3.468
TOS Series Score After Two Seasons: 5.491

Best Episode: Necessary Evil
Worst Episode: Paradise

WOW! Label me very impressed! I've always thought that Season Two was an improvement over Season One, but I certainly did not expect it to be this much of an improvement. Season One finished with an average score of 5.053. Season Two's score of 6.000 is almost a full order of magnitude higher! And with seven additional episodes over Season One, that's a pretty impressive feat. Not only that, but this season broke the mark for the best season of Trek yet (previously held by TNG Season Four) and managed to become the very first one to pull its average score above 6. I honestly didn't think that any season of Trek would be able to achieve a score that high. But, given that I'm a huge Ron Moore fanboy and he didn't join the writing team until Season Three, I can only assume that that perception is going to be demolished as this re-watch continues. Season Two isn't the best of DS9, so watch out for even higher scores! It's also clear that DS9 is really pulling ahead of TOS and TNG is terms of average series scores. The numbers speak for themselves.

The season itself, however, can really be said to have come in three parts - the excellent opening, the middling to downright bad middle and the magnificent ending. The first five episodes were really good or average. The final nine episodes offered an amazing run. Not only does that tie the longest stretch of above-average episodes in a row (tied with a run in TNG Season Six) but over the course of five episodes we got four (FOUR!) ones that I would consider classic Trek. The middle of the season, on the other hand, offered us some pretty trite and below-average fair. It also managed to delver DS9's first zero scored episode. Though, to be fair, DS9 managed to go a full thirty-three episodes before it pulled that off. TOS only managed to last five episodes before it's first zero. TNG only went for two!

As for the characters, at the end of Season One I said most of them needed work (especially Sisko, Bashir and Dax). For the most part they've been given some really good development. Sisko could really stand some more. But Bashir has gone through the fire and emerged as a much more likable character than he started out as. Dax is still, obviously, the weak spot in the cast. Though, given how I dislike what they've done with the character (and will continue to do) that's not much of a surprise.

I'm really looking forward to Season Three and seeing how high the scores can go.
Mon, Mar 7, 2016, 11:22am (UTC -5)
WTF HAIR - 16 (+12)
Mon, Mar 7, 2016, 1:49pm (UTC -5)
I need to go back and read your Paradise review, I must have missed that one. It's not good, but I hate Second Sight way more.

I want to go see what you hate about it.
Mon, Mar 7, 2016, 2:30pm (UTC -5)
Long story short - what I hate about "Paradise" is that Alixus is an evil, tyrannical bitch who never gets called on the fact that she's a kidnapper, torturer and murderer.
Mon, Mar 7, 2016, 3:09pm (UTC -5)
Fair point but Sisko/O'Brien are actually ok in that episode and Second Sight is a love story that's boring with no real plot or chemistry!

But I suppose it's really a race to the bottom.
Sun, Jan 1, 2017, 4:02pm (UTC -5)
My scoring for Season 2 would go:
1. "The Homecoming"-3
2. "The Circle"-3
3. "The Siege"-3
4. "Invasive Procedures"-3.5
5. "Cardassians"-3.5
6. "Melora"-2
7. "Rules of Acquisition"-2
8. "Necessary Evil"-4
9. "Second Sight"-1.5
10. "Sanctuary"-1.5
11. "Rivals"-2.5
12. "The Alternate"-2.5
13. "The Armageddon Game"-3
14. "Whispers"-3.5
15. "Paradise"-2.5
16. "Shadowplay"-3
17. "Playing God"-2
18. "Profit and Loss"-2.5
19. "Blood Oath"-3
20. "The Maquis Part 1"-3
21. "The Maquis Part 2"-3
22. "The Wire"-4
23. "Crossover"-3.5
24. "The Collaborator"-3
25. "Tribunal"-3
26. "The Jem'Hadar"-3.5

Average: 2.8

Definitely an improvement over the 1st season, but the middle stretch really brings it down.
Sun, Jul 22, 2018, 9:58pm (UTC -5)
Expanding out the ratings to a 10-points scale worked out to this:

1. "The Homecoming"-6.5
2. "The Circle"-8.0
3. "The Siege"-5.0
4. "Invasive Procedures"-4.0
5. "Cardassians"-9.0
6. "Melora"-2.0
7. "Rules of Acquisition"-5.0
8. "Necessary Evil"-10.0
9. "Second Sight"-2.0
10. "Sanctuary"-2.0
11. "Rivals"-6.0
12. "The Alternate"-7.5
13. "Armageddon Game"-7.0
14. "Whispers"-9.0
15. "Paradise"-3.0
16. "Shadowplay"-6.0
17. "Playing God"-3.0
18. "Profit and Loss"-6.0
19. "Blood Oath"-9.5
20. "The Maquis Part 1"-6.5
21. "The Maquis Part 2"-6.5
22. "The Wire"-10.0
23. "Crossover"-8.5
24. "The Collaborator"-7.0
25. "Tribunal"-7.0
26. "The Jem'Hadar"-9.0
Thu, Sep 6, 2018, 12:57pm (UTC -5)
Okay then, let's begin with the ratings summary:

No. Title Stars (1-10) [Jammer +/-]
1. Necessary Evil **** (9.5) [=] Exceptional (must watch)
2. The Wire ***.5 (9) [=] Excellent (truly enjoyable)
2. Whispers ***.5 (8.5) [-.5]
4. Blood Oath ***.5 (8.5) [=]
5. Crossover *** (8) [-.5] Good (solid instalment)
6. Tribunal *** (8) [=]
7. The Collaborator *** (7.5) [=]
8. The Alternate *** (7.5) [+.5]
9. The Circle *** (7.5) [=]
10. Invasive Procedures **.5 (7) [-.5] Okay (problems, worthwhile)
11. Playing God **.5 (6.5) [=]
12. The Jem'Hadar **.5 (6.5) [-1]
13. The Homecoming **.5 (6.5) [-1]
14. Cardassians **.5 (6.5) [-1]
15. The Maquis I **.5 (6.5) [-1]
16. Armageddon Game **.5 (6) [-.5]
17. The Maquis II **.5 (6) [-1]
18. Melora **.5 (6) [+.5]
19. The Siege ** (5.5) [-1] Watchable (not good, not awful)
20. Rules of Acquisition ** (5) [=]
21. Paradise ** (4.5) [-1]
22. Shadow Play *.5 (4) [-1] Poor (annoying)
23. Profit and Loss *.5 (4) [.5]
24. Second Sight *.5 (4) [-1]
25. Rivals *.5 (4) [-1]
26. Sanctuary * (3) [-1] Terrible (do not watch)

Average 2.504 stars (6/10) [-12.5]

I've decided also to look at the way the writers are stacking up. These numbers represent total episodes in both seasons of DS9 from writers who have written more than one story:

Author (# of stories) Average score out of 10

Fields (7) 8.5
Wolfe (4) 6.5
Trombetta (4) 6
Crocker (2) 6
Behr (5) 5
Gendel (2) 5
Bader (2) 5
Piller (5.5) 5

Looking at the numbers, DS9's second season's worst episode, “Sanctuary” was better than the three worst episodes of season 1. And, while season 1 had three episodes I would call excellent or exceptional, season 2 had four, averaging out to about half a letter grade improvement overall. We have dropped much of the weak sci-fi TNG-knockoff episodes, with a few exceptions like “Second Sight”

Trends :

—In the season 1 recap, I noted: “The book-ending episodes seem to want to suggest the thematic direction for the series: politics and spirituality as they pertain to Bajor.”

So how are we doing?

—There are two political threads this season, the internal political struggles of Cardassia and Bajor. We begin the season with Bajor facing turmoil after the events of the first season (though we aren't offered an explanation as to how that happened). With the death of Li Nalis and the disgrace of Driftwood in Opaka's stead, as well as the economic troubles that persist in“Rules of Acquisition” and “Sanctuary” (if we ignore that GQ colonising), we see that the policy of allowing the Bajorans to base their beliefs on lies, as William B has astutely observed a few times, leads them down a dangerous path of electing Bitchwhore as their new Space Pope. And the implications here make Bajor look like a genuine theocracy, which is not only scary, but bodes very poorly for their path towards Federation membership.

Cardassia is also in decline, it seems. They keep getting embarrassed what with having their machinations exposed in “The Circle,” “Cardassians,” “The Maquis” and “Tribunal.” Dukat's appearances all highlight the instability of the Central Command. There is also a dissident movement growing, as seen in “Profit and Loss.” The Obsidian Order, however, is still very functional as evidenced by Tain's extensive knowledge of Bashir's plight in “The Wire.”

Additionally, there is a major political story, “The Maquis,” which, while mostly very watchable, has some rather questionable logic, strawman arguments and frustrating conclusions, per the DS9 idiom. It is my understanding that the DS9 team inherited the Maquis and their bullshit from the higher-ups trying to set up Voyager, so it's no surprise that the episode feels like an outlier. The writers to continue to reference the treaty and instability, so we shall see how this plays out.

—So what about religion? Most examination is confined to “The Collaborator.” Having see how volatile the sociological conditions on Bajor were in the Circle trilogy, the Bajorans seems to be doubling down on their backwards beliefs. Their gods are capricious and rather abhorrent; they see it fit to influence Kira and Driftwood into a relationship, but not to prevent or assuage the damage of the Occupation. One could even make the argument that the Prophets are intentionally trying to elevate Bitchwhore to the position of Kai in order to keep Bajor out of the secular universe and maintain their deity-status. I don't sense, however, that the writers realise that this is what they're implying. We will have to see where this leads.

—Overall, the political stories which frame the outer sections of the season successfully provide enough questions to make the series worthwhile, but the season is at least a third too long for the material this idea provides. Which brings us to...

Characters (in order from best to worst):

I will credit the DS9 writers this much, the characters most in need of improvement, per my assessment, from season 1 were Bashir, Sisko and Dax, and two of them get a great story this season (“The Wire” for Bashir and “Blood Oath” for Dax). Poor Sisko is still struggling.

Garak/Dukat [=]

Yes, they are very different characters, but they appear with about the same frequency this season. And the effect on the show is to always have the episode improved by the presence of either man. We have been given hints about the backstories of both so far, and those are quite intriguing, but it wouldn't be fair to say they really “developed” here. We do get some good back story on both, between “Necessary Evil,” “Cardassians” and “The Wire.” Alaimo and Robinson are superb actors and really help to elevate the dialogue between their characters and their counterparts, Sisko and Bashir.

Odo [+]

Odo got to star in the season's very best episode, “Necessary Evil.” We discovered that much of what gives Odo his present identity was actually developed on Terak Nor, under the “leadership” of Dukat. Kira's line “Everybody has to choose sides, Constable,” still hovers over the character. What's most interesting for him so far is the implication (seen in both “The Alternate” and “Crossover”) that Odo is on the verge of becoming a monster, if circumstances change just enough. His decision to compromise his otherwise rigid neutrality for Kira in “Necessary Evil” paves the way for his romantic attraction to her, confirmed in “The Collaborator.” We also get a good exploration of the closest thing Odo has to family in “The Alternate.” Unlike the silly line in “Shadowplay,” we can see that Odo really *is* an amalgamation of the people he has encountered and mimicked. Quite appropriate for a shapeshifter. I'll get into this more in later seasons, but one thing that does bother me about Odo is the fact that despite being a bucket of organic goo, he behaves just like a heterosexual man, given his comments to Dax and his interest in Kira. But I guess that's 90s TV for you.

O'Brien [=]

This season actually features THREE torture-O'Brien episodes (if you include his extended capture with Bashir in “Armageddon Game”). The best O'Brien episode, “Whispers,” is tricky because, of course, the Miles we see in most of the episode isn't *real* Miles, but because he's a perfect copy, we still learn about our Miles and his deep commitment to his family. In “Tribunal,” we piece together than it is very important for Miles to lead a respectable life. He shares in common with a character like Worf, the horizontal honour afforded by being seen as a loyal and hard-working family man, as well as an intimate need for family and companionship.

Dax [+]

Well, the writers have finally decided on their take on Jadzia. Between “Playing God” and “Blood Oath,” we can glean that the strong Curzon personality within her allows Jadzia's darker side to co-exist with the brainy over-achiever she had to be to win her symbiont. This is also a problem for her, though, as Curzon isn't exactly a role-model, and he still overwhelms her. Despite her ostentatious lifestyle, Jadzia has yet to truly affirm her identity.

Bashir [+]

In contrast to his awful skirt-chasing of Dax (and Kira, notably in “Crossover”), Bashir's relationships with women are more successful this season. I liked his approach with Melora, even if the episode was lacklustre, and the backstory of his flirtation with a ballerina in “Armageddon Game” was insightful. His relationship with O'Brien is also solidified pretty well this season, even if it remains rather one-sided. What is most successful with Bashir occurs in “The Wire,” where he is transformed, as I said, by “grafting on traits from previous Trek CMOs; Bones (utter determination to save the patient), Crusher (empathy which overrides judgementally), and Pulaski (medical ethics superseding legal concerns)...[I]n so doing, DS9 is transforming Bashir into a sort of hub for genuine Trekkian ideas.”

Kira [=]

Girl done got herself a man. I actually do find it interesting that Kira struggles a bit with her identity this season, while also beginning a serious romantic relationship with Driftwood. She has seen people she respected like Li Nalis and Opaka exposed as less-than-heroic. She has confronted some of her own shortcomings, such as in “Necessary Evil” or “Crossover,” wherein she learned that but for a twist of fate, she may have ended up just like Dukat. Her attraction to Driftwood is problematic for me because, despite all this introspection, she compartmentalises the religio-spiritual contradictions that being with him presents. This isn't necessarily a writing mistake—this has the potential to create a powerful character moment for Kira down the road, when she realises she is essentially using Driftwood for the stability he provides. Of course, we will also have to explain why the Prophets decided they should be together in the first place.

Quark [-]

There are a lot of elements that work against Quark's favour in this season, from the trivial, like making him look like a buffoon in “The Siege” or just pathetic as in “Profit and Loss,” to the downright egregious, like selling Jadzia's life in “Invasive Procedures,” or conspiring with the Maquis. He also had two to two and a half love interests this season, none of which went anywhere. What rescues the character is the fact that he's reliably hilarious, even when problematic.

Sisko [=]

I should say here and now that I have a lot of respect for Avery Brooks as an activist and as an actor, because his talents have not materialised for me on the screen so far. Most of the problems with his delivery and contrived emotional extremes from season 1 persist, although he has smoothed out some of the rough edges by “The Jem'Hadar.” In terms of writing...gah. In “Crossover,” Kira refers to (her) Sisko as a good man, and I think she believes what she says. The problem is, there's not much to back this up. There are numerous examples of Sisko being a spineless asshole, such as in “Rivals,” where he rules-lawyers Quark out of his exclusivity clause, or using the letter of the law to subvert Starfleet's orders in “The Siege,” or expecting his officers to fudge their reports in “Whispers,” or botching diplomacy completely in “Profit and Loss,” pr playing fast and loose with his identity as the Emissary in “The Collaborator” or failing to offer rebuttals to sophomoric arguments against the Federation in “The Maquis” and in “The Jem'Hadar.” Sisko is probably at his best in “Paradise” of all episodes, which unfortunately manipulates the story to undermine his admirable behaviour and give that zealot Alixus a moral victory.

Jake [-]

I feel like it's a little unfair to even include Jake in this list. On TNG, the fact that they eventually developed Worf and Troi was a byproduct of the show's success (although I wouldn't call either of those successful in the end). Really, the character design of that show was all about Picard, Data and Riker...and Wesley—à la TOS. DS9 is an ensemble show, which is great, but Jake was designed to be a character which supplemented his father. So, he doesn't really get screentime without being in some way about Sisko's plot of the week. Yet, Lofton is credited in the titles. Regardless, his portrayal, as written, in season 1 was much better than in here. Beginning right away in “The Homecoming” all the way through “The Jem'Hadar,” Lofton's acting is noticeably, and aggravatingly more spastic. Now, he's a kid actor—I don't want to be too harsh here, but it's odd how his performances seemed better in season 1 when he was an even younger actor. We haven't seen very much of his friendship with Nog this season, but are beginning to see where his interests will eventually wander in important ways. It's all very embryonic.


Finally, let's talk about the Trek ethos. I have touched on this topic in many reviews this season, so I think it will be good to summarise here and draw some conclusions. We have seen:

1. Anachronisms regarding human culture, like Jake's math level, Sisko insisting Jake get a job, O'Brien's racism, Bashir's & O'Brien's sexist take on “military” service, and the inexplicable motivations for the Maquis;
2. Sisko and therefore the Federation failing to provide basic services to the Bajorans for inexplicable reasons;
3. The ludicrous idea that Earth and Earth alone benefits from the universal rights and post-scarcity material of Federation society;
4. The lack of concern over Bajor's descent into conservative theocratic rule;
5. The finale quite deliberately making sure the door is locked on TNG, creating piñata versions of the Enterprise and her captain, then blowing her up in spectacular fashion, while reversing the conceit of foundational episodes like “The Last Outpost,” “The Neutral Zone,” and “Who Watches the Watchers.”

The most egregious examples seem to come from the pen of Ira Behr, who is taking over for Michael Piller as show-runner. I can't say that fills me with hope for later seasons.


I will close with this thought: “In the Hands of the Prophets” promised a Season 2 where Bajor and the Federation would strengthen their bonds of diplomacy and friendship. What we actually got was a season where Federation identity was continued to be stripped (ineptly) of many of its best qualities, while Bajor moved in a decidedly unfortunate direction. Since “The Jem'Hadar” seems to promise a Season 3 where the threat of the Dominion will reduce conflicts between the Alpha Quadrant players, who will need to come together and face this threat, we can probably expect those conflicts to grow and rifts between them to widen.
Peter G.
Thu, Sep 6, 2018, 1:36pm (UTC -5)
@ Elliott,

You're not the only one, but I'm sometimes surprised at the lack of praise for "Cardassians." For me it's almost a 4 star episode even though it's largely understated, and part of the reason the quiet tone works so well is that it's about a matter being handled quietly. There's nothing grand to see here because most parties involved have worked to keep it from becoming a public issue...until it was useful for it to be.

My only other comment is about your thought that making Jake get a job is an anachronism. On the contrary, in a post-scarcity society I think there will be a special honor attached to getting 'a job' (aka choosing to serve society rather than yourself), and even though its tone will certainly not be the same as it is now, which seems more like "get a job or you're a worthless parasite". Rather than casting aspersions on those without jobs, which would be illogical in a post scarcity world, most likely there will be positive honors and privileges associated with choosing to work when you truly don't have to, and dedicating your entire life to serving, such as in Starfleet, would be among the greatest honors. I guess I choose to read Sisko's attitude in that light. And in fact we later get the sense that Jake really isn't interested in serving others in any capacity, and it has to be remembered that no one thinks of him as a worthless layabout as a result, even though realistically I could see a Starfleet officer as seeing that as a disappointment.
Thu, Sep 6, 2018, 2:10pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G

Thanks for your thoughts as always!

re: "Cardassians"--my problem with that story (and you can re-read my review of that episode for details) is mostly that the Rugal story is sacrificed to the political Dukat/Garak story. In TNG's "Suddenly Human" (an inferior episode, btw), the writers made room for both the political issue of diplomacy with the Temarians AND the character fallout for Jono/Jeremiah. I like the Dukat story a great deal, but I'm very bothered by the resolution to Rugal's story, because this is pretty tragic stuff.

re: Jake's job. I'll repeat what I wrote on the page for "Shadowplay":

"Here we go again. Jake has to get a job because he's a teenager and this is 1990s television. Nevermind that the Federation has no money, people work out a sense of labour-value and Jake lives on a diplomatic outpost, as far as the DS9 writers are concerned, we should just accept that humanity has not changed at all in 400 years.

SISKO: You're 15 years old. It's time you took a little responsibility.

Responsibility FOR WHAT? Jake never ever has to make a living in the contemporary sense. His obligation as a human being in the 24th century is to better himself, to find work that fulfils him. He does not have, nor will he ever have bills to pay."

Sisko specifically wants Jake to get a job to "learn responsibility"--that's the anachronism.
Peter G.
Thu, Sep 6, 2018, 2:22pm (UTC -5)
@ Elliott,

Yes, if you view "learn responsibility" as being an economic statement - that Jake must learn how to become productive - then I would agree with you. I don't see why it has to be taken to mean that, though. We see clearly enough that Sisko expects Jake to eventually join Starfleet, and it's completely accurate that (notwithstanding the nonsense we're told in Coming of Age) in order to achieve that he'll have to begin learning to work hard. It's a father's bias that Jake will follow in his footsteps, but it certainly doesn't belie some belief that Jake is obliged to become an obedient economic unit.

Also remember that the Sisko/Jake relationship comes on the coattails of Crusher/Wesley where TNG took it for granted that *of course* Wesley would want to join Starfleet, because who wouldn't? So Wes follows in his father's footsteps without consideration, while here we're being given (eventually) a contrast, where actually not everyone even in the future wants to serve like that. This "get a job" aspect seems to me to reflect on how much Jake isn't at all like Wesley in various respects and is more of a real person for it.

I could foresee one argument, mind you, that fits your side of it, which is the possibility that "get a job" is a message especially tailored to the fact that Jake is a *black boy* and must learn to avoid the pitfalls of poor black life. That would, indeed, be an anachronistic message and I submit it's possible that was in the back of their minds - but I hope not. As I said, I choose to read it as Sisko expecting much of Jake and wanting him to get started asap so he can be ready for great things. It reads mostly as a father/son issue to me, not a cultural one.
Sat, Sep 15, 2018, 2:56pm (UTC -5)
@Elliott-We rated Season 2 about the same-a decent start, a horrible middle, and a solid ending. The season developed its characters pretty well, but man, the weak 'hard' sci-fi really killed the middle of the season.
Mon, Sep 17, 2018, 10:38am (UTC -5)

Yeah, kind of interesting. You seemed to like the okay/pretty good episodes much more than I, and really hated the weaker episodes, so we averaged about the same.
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 4:44am (UTC -5)
Season two and seven are my favorite ds9 seasons. Season three is my third favorite

I like this season because it recovered nicely from the awful first season. I also enjoy it because I find it very consistently entertaining and the most TNG and atrek DS9 would get due to Michael Piller being head writer still before Behr took over. There was still that nice intangible Trek vibe permeating the episodes. There was a nice variety of stories. The circle trilogy was excellent political intrigue along with The Maquis There were a nice amount of sci fi stories. The Dominion foreshadowing kept them nicely ominous and intriguing.

The series was nicely low key. This was a period before diving into larger more epic things. I appreciated the intimate feeling of the stories. Big grand things are fun but once in a while it’s nice just to deal with immediate personal stories.
Sat, Jul 27, 2019, 10:21pm (UTC -5)
DS9 Season 2

1) The Collaborator - 9
2) Necessary Evil - 9
3) The Wire - 9
4) Whispers - 9
5) Cardassians - 8
6) The Homecoming - 8
7) The Circle - 8
8) The Siege - 8
9) Crossover - 8
10) The Maquis Part 1 - 7
11) The Maquis Part 2 - 7
12) The Jem'Hadar - 7
13) Shadowplay - 7
14) The Alternate - 6
15) Invasive Procedures - 5
16) Blood Oath - 5
17) Tribunal - 4
18) Armageddon Game - 3
19) Profit and Loss - 2
20) Melora - 2
21) Playing God - 2
22) Second Sight - 2
23) Rivals - 2
24) Rules of Acquisition - 2
25) Paradise - 1
26) Sanctuary - 1

Season Average - 5.4
Tue, Nov 3, 2020, 11:50am (UTC -5)
Out of ten, I'd rate the episodes of this season thusly:

The Homecoming - 8.5/10
The Circle - 8.5/10
The Siege - 8.5/10
Invasive Procedures - 5/10
Cardassians - 8.5/10
Melora - 7/10
Rules of Acquisition - 5/10
Necessary Evil - 8/10
Second SIght - 1/10
Sanctuary - 3/10
Rivals - 2/10
The Alternate - 5/10
Armageddon Game - 7/10
Whispers - 7/10
Paradise - 7.5/10
Shadowplay - 5/10
Playing God - 8/10
Profit and Loss - 6/10
Blood Oath - 8.9/10
The Maquis - 8.5/10
The Maquis Part II: 8.5/10
The Wire: 8.5/10
Crossover: 7.9/10
Collaborator: 7/10
Tribunal: 7.5/10
The Jem'Hadar: 7.5/10

I'm looking at my ratings and am quite surprised. There are a lot of highly ranked episodes here. Is this season more consistent than season 3?

I would say I differ from the consensus on "Crossover" and "Whispers", rating them a bit lower than others. I seem to also like "Playing God" and "Paradise" much more than most.
Paul M.
Thu, Dec 24, 2020, 10:22am (UTC -5)
My ratings of all Season episodes on both 4-star and 10-point scales. Some of these may differ from ratings given on several of the episode threads.

The Homecoming: * * * (8.0)
The Circle: * * * (7.5)
The Siege: * *.5 (5.5)
Invasive Procedures: * *.5 (6.0)
Cardassians: * * * (8.0)
Melora: * * (4.0)
Rules of Acquisition: * * (5.0)
Necessary Evil: * * *.5 (9.5)
Second Sight: * *.5 (6.0)
Sanctuary: *.5 (3.5)
Rivals: * *.5 (6.5)
The Alternate: * *.5 (6.0)
Armageddon Game: * * * (7.5)
Whispers: * * *.5 (8.5)
Paradise: * * * (7.0)
Shadowplay: * *.5 (6.5)
Playing God: * *.5 (5.5)
Profit and Loss: * *.5 (6.0)
Blood Oath: * * *.5 (9.0)
The Maquis I: * * *.5 (8.5)
The Maquis II: * * *.5 (8.5)
The Wire: * * * * (10)
Crossover: * * *.5 (9.0)
The Collaborator: * * *.5 (8.5)
Tribunal: * *.5 (5.5)
The Jem'Hadar: * * * (8.0)

Season average: 2.86 stars (7.06 out of 10)
Paul M.
Thu, Dec 24, 2020, 12:39pm (UTC -5)
Season 2: A Tale of Two Halves

I am not sure what was going on in the writers' room this season, whether there was some kind of shake-up behind scenes or if the writers by the simple process of trial and error learned what works and what doesn't, but the results are quite striking. The first half of the season (up to and including episode 12) is essentially Season 1: The Continuation, for good and ill. Except for the opening trilogy which embraced the storytelling format made possible by the established premise (but was beset by problems of its own and was ultimately a middling experience), the rest of the half-season was "plagued" by the same kind of approach that was on display the year before: not enough specificity, too much TNG-lite syndrome. Looking to my episode ratings above, I can outright recommend only 4 out of 12 episodes (3 stars and above), and two of those were part of the opening trilogy which unceremoniously concluded. The only standout episodes after the opening were Cardassians and the visually and thematically stunning Necessary Evil. Thankfully, there were only two bad apples: the sleep-inducing Melora and nausea-inducing Sanctuary, with Rules of Acquisition only marginally better. That leaves a whole lot of the episodes simply "there", hovering around the average mid-tier, not bad, but not particularly intriguing either.

And then, the second half happened. The increase in overall quality is remarkable, with 10 out of the remaining 14 episode either good or great. Even those lesser 4 are solid installments, well worth a watch. What sets the majority of these episodes apart is the intense focus on what this show does best: setting and character evolution. The Maquis two-parter does a fine job setting up the eponymous rebel group, all the while exploring thorny political issues like the cost of peace through great character pairings, be they Sisko and Dukat, Quark and Sakonna, or even Sisko and Hudson (sadly marred by latter's wooden delivery).

Bajoran politics get a welcome jolt of energy with underappreciated The Collaborator, an episode that treats us to kai Winn in all her delicious villainy and that also serves as an interesting examination of what it means to choose lesser evil. Blood Oath is a quintessential Klingon episode and by far the best vehicle Dax has had thus far, while Crossover is a dark and unsettling peek through the looking glass, a triumph of mood and atmosphere. The season culminates with the long-expected introduction of the Dominion, which is a fine episode when viewed in retrospect, but a striking one when initially exposed to it.

Any review of this season would not be complete without mentioning The Wire, a masterpiece of slowly increasing psychological tension, a fascinating look into Garak's mind, and a perfect showcase for Andrew Robinson's talents. Although I have seen the episode several times in years past, it was still a revelation to me on my latest re-watch; the sheer power and intensity of Robinson's portrayal is like nothing I've seen on Trek.

In case it's not clear, it's the characters that shine the brightest. Season 2 continues to build upon the already solid foundation of Season 1 and really comes into its own in this regard. Last year I awarded the Best Character Award to Kira, Odo, and Quark, with Kira slipping behind Odo this time around, not because she's badly served by the material, but simply because she's not as much focused on in many of the episodes like she was the previous year. Odo -- or should I say Rene -- is busier than ever with multiple episodes examining what makes him tick... and what makes him tick isn't always all that pleasant to see. The darker side of his need for law and order rears its head on more than one occasion. Quark is eminently watchable as ever, and except for a writerly slip-up in Invasive Procedures, has a lot of solid material throughout the season.

Much like last year, Sisko is often in the background, having a charismatic presence as station commander, but scripts don't seem to involve him nearly as much as earlier Trek shows did their commanding officers. And frankly, I'm fine with this. Deep Space Nine redefined the word "ensemble" in Star Trek, and Sisko is almost more a mayor of a frontier town than he is a classic military CO. His relationship with Jake is still strong, delivering some very solid scenes in episodes like Second Sight, Shadowplay, and The Jem'Hadar. Avery and Cirroc work great together.

Bashir's and O'Brien's Bromance has a real start this season, for which I am grateful to a level probably best not admitted outside nerdy circles. The Bromance Watch identifies these two essential episodes this year: Rivals and Armageddon Game, with Crossover warranting an honorable mention for the way Bashir befriends and turns Mirror O'Brien to his cause.

Dax is still the weakest link, but thankfully writers have identified this as well and taken much needed steps to rectify the issue. Although there's only so much they can do with Farrell's limited range, I nevertheless find her character in a much better spot. She's livelier, more joyful and adventurous, with a zest for life that is quite refreshing... she's essentially been Curzonified, but that's okay since Jadziafication obviously didn't work and amounted to little more than dispassionate whispery sleepiness.

Last but not least, Season 2 is when DS9 patented Side Character Bonanza truly got going. Rom and Nog continue to be regular fixtures on the show, ved... err... kai Winn returns with a vengeance, but it's Garak and Dukat that steal every scene they are in with powerhouse performances by Andrew Robinson and Marc Alaimo. And Morn, well, Morn is the barfly we all love. At least he's prettier than that other Hollywood Barfly that surgeried himself into... whatever that is.

All in all, after a disappointing start, this season rebounded quite nicely, a definite step-up from Season 1. If it continues the way it's been going the last half-season, the show's in good hands.

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